Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Our 2016 Disney World Trip

As we begin to plan for our 2017 Disney Trip, I thought it might be fun to recap our second Disney trip from earlier this year. We also visited Disney during Christmas time in 2014. I will get that to that trip later:) Jump to the bottom if you want to see our itinerary.

{Disclaimer: This post is LONG and full of pictures because words cannot come close to capturing the experience}

Where we stayed: The Polynesian - If it is in your budget, stay on property and on the monorail. The amount of time you save on transportation is worth the premium price. Plus, the Polynesian is amazing! Great food, great atmosphere and great location!

How long we stayed: 2/26-3/2 (6 nights/7 days) - We flew in on the earliest flight out of Dallas and made it on property shortly after 10:30 AM. We made the most of last day by catching the 8:50 PM flight out of Orlando.

Our Daily Experiences: Day 1 * Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Outfit Details: Aside from scheduling, this is the number 1 question people ask: Where did you get your outfits? Short answer: a ton of places:) Long answer: Read this post

My top takeaways from this trip:
  1. Don't over plan the first day! We fell victim to this by scheduling a full day a MK and the Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland Tea Party experience at the Grand Floridian. If that was not enough, we also booked a formal dinner at the California Grill in the Contemporary Resort. Needless to say, all Ryann wanted to do was ride rollercoasters. Parent fail! We ended up feeling so bad that we took her to the park around 9 PM for Magic Hours after dinner, Elsa light up costume and all.
  2. Just because your child was super into something the last trip, doesn't mean they will be the next. Ryann was obsessed with the characters and character dining the first time we took her. While she still enjoyed the meeting the characters this time, her passion was riding the rides...over and over again. I think she would have rode Seven Dwarf's Mine Train 50 times if we would have let her. If we could do it over, we would have cut down on the time we spent at the character dining.
  3. DO NOT fall victim to buying stuffed animals and souvenirs on the first part of your trip. Ryann came with a Disney Gift Card knowing that was all she could spend. However, we let her pick out items the first few days and got stuck carrying it around the parks every day. Heaven forbid we left them alone at the resort. The next trip, all purchases (aside from Mickey and Minnie ears) will be saved for the final days of our visit.
  4. Plan more time than you think for naps. Jeremiah and I promised we would do better this trip and plan for naps. Well, that didn't really happen. We were tired but hated to miss a minute and dealt with more meltdowns that we had expected. More naps = less meltdowns (for both parents and kids)
  5. Splurge for the Memory Maker. 90% of the pictures we have are from our Memory Maker account and were taken by Disney cast member throughout the properties. Almost everywhere you turn, there is a Disney photographer there to capture a memory. Don't forget to ask for a Magic Shot! (A magic shot is where the retroactively superimpose a character or added action to the photo such as Olaf or Tinker belle) 
  6. Bring a stroller! If you child is 10 months or 10 years old, bring a stroller. Disney has stroller parking everywhere because people who know Disney know that this is a crucial item to pack. For both trips, we brought our BOB and were thankful both times. On an average day, you will walk at least six miles. If you want to make it on time to reservations, pushing your child is the way to go. Not to mention, a comfy stroller is the perfect place for a tired child to take a nap so said parents can potentially have some "adult time". During our first trip, Ryann slept for about 4 hours while we were at Epcot and Jeremiah and I were able to travel around the World uninterrupted. We just kept on pushing the stroller from place to place (obviously). If you don't believe me about the stroller, Google it! This is the top tip most regulars list. Also, make a sign or do something to make your stroller quickly identifiable. There are a lot of black strollers and Disney cast members move them all the time to make room. We put neon pink ribbon all over ours and hung this sign from the handle bars. Again, bring a stroller!
  7. During late fall, winter and early spring, be prepare for variable weather. You may be in shorts during the day and gloves and a hat at night. Also, it rains in Florida year round so be prepared with a rain jacket or poncho. 
  8. Get a Park Hopper Tickets. You will likely not stay at one park all day and will need to visit multiple parks for eating and events. A Park Hopper grants you admission to all the parks in a given day where as a general ticket is one and done.
  9. Disney is MAGICAL! But you better have a plan! I planned a ton the first trip and even more for this one. If you think you are just going to book your trip and show up you are sadly mistaken. You will inevitably have a miserable time because everything at Disney is based on reservations, from Fast Passes to meals. If you can't plan on your own, get a travel agent! Also, aside from making reservations, pay attention to when you travel. I would say trip satisfaction has more to do with the time of year you go as anything else you can control. There are tons of Disney Crowd Calendars out there that detail the slowest weeks of the year. Our rule is we DO NOT go if school is out! The fist time we went was on the 2nd slowest week of the year that overlapped into one of the busiest. There was an unbelievable difference in crowds during the first part of our trip versus the last. This trip was during the 4th slowest week of the year right before kids started to get out for Spring Break. Our next trip in 2017 will again be when kids are in school and is ranked the 2nd best week of the year to visit due to Christmas festivities and low crowds (week of 12/9). If you have questions, ask! I love to talk about Disney!
  10. Make planning and the anticipation special. I will be blunt...Disney is not cheap! Both times we have done some type of fun reveal and always do a count down to make the upcoming trip special!

Day 1

6:50 AM flight out of DAL
Check in at Polynesian
Magic Kingdom
Wonderland Tea Party with Alice and Friends; Grand Floridian
Dinner at California Grill and Fireworks from the Terrace; Contemporary
Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom
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Day 2

Hollywood Studios
Breakfast at Hollywood and Vine w/Disney Junior Characters; Hollywood Studios
Lunch at 50's Prime Time Cafe; Hollywood Studios
Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table; Magic Kingdom
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Day 3

Magic Kingdom
Breakfast at Be Our Guest; MK
Lunch at Chef Mickey's with Mickey and Friends; The Contemporary Resort
Dinner at ‘Ohana's, The Polynesian Resort

Day 4

Magic Kingdom
Breakfast at The Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and Friends; MK
Bibbiddi Bobbidi Boutique, Magic Kingdom
Dinner at 1900 Park Fair with Cinderella and Friends, Grand Floridian
Magic Hours at MK
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Day 5

Animal Kingdom
Brunch at Tusker House with Safari Mickey and Friends, Animal Kingdom
Dinner at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ; Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds

Day 6

Breakfast at ‘Ohana's with Lilo and Stitch; The Polynesian Resort
Lunch at the Coral Reef Restaurant; Epcot
Dinner at Akershus with the Disney Storybook Princesses, Epcot
Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom
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Day 7

Magic Kingdom
Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare with Alice, The Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh & Tigger; The Grand Floridian
Lunch at Kona Cafe; The Polynesian Resort
Catch Return Flight at 8:50 PM out of Orlando
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