Since a bunch of you said you’d love a Disney trip recap, I’m happy to share what I learned on our first family adventure there last week! As you may have noticed from my Instagram, we had a GREAT time. A better time than I expected. Even being 6 months pregnant, tired, uncomfortable and with a global pandemic looming, it still was a fun, busy, yet somewhat relaxing (??) trip, believe it or not!
I had some takeaways that I personally felt were important to share if you are planning your own trip!
I was lucky to have Anna Gwennap reach out to me on Instagram when I mentioned wanting to plan a Disney trip- she is a planner with Be Our Guest Travel Company and our trip probably would have been a hot mess without her! The best part, Disney pays them, so you don’t have to- so there is NO reason not to use one to book your travel. I thought initially, how hard can this be? Henry’s only 4, there’s only three of us…. boy was I wrong. Disney trips have so many moving parts and deadlines to book certain things by and insider secrets that I was so glad to have Anna guiding my plans. She mapped out the exact moment when she could book our dining reservations (necessary to do way ahead) and our Fast Passes (she woke up at 6am on New Years Day to do it!)
I asked Anna what week in March was the slowest, and booked that. Post winter break and pre-spring break. Yes, Henry missed some school, but since it’s pre-school still, it wasn’t a big deal to us and made the trip that much more enjoyable. It was still crowded, don’t get me wrong, but apparently MUCH less so than during peak weeks.
Henry has not ridden in a stroller since he was maybe 2, so I was not convinced I needed a stroller. THANK GOODNESS I caved and rented one anyways- Henry used it a TON! I was shocked. Plus we could keep our bags, sunscreen, water and purchases in it. It’s a MUST. I had some readers say their kids used the strollers way past age 4 at Disney- it’s exhausting!
It’s kind of a no brainer, but the Disney App was our lifeline while in the parks! The interactive map shows you wait times for each ride, stores all your photos if you get the Photopass, allows you to pre-order food at some restaurants and lists your schedule for the day. You also can swap your FastPasses on there quickly if your kid decides that they don’t want to go on a ride (which happened to us at Splash Mountain). The MagicBand also was great to have for quick FastPass scanning and also can even unlock your hotel room at certain Disney resorts.
We spent only one day at Magic Kingdom- so we made the most of it- we had breakfast at Be Our Guest in the Beast’s castle (the experience and meal was totally underwhelming) however, we had a reservation at 8:30am which meant that we were already deep into the park BEFORE the general public was allowed in at 9am! Genius. We got so much done before 10am because the lines were short early on. So while the meal was anything but amazing (and no characters at the breakfast, which I expected), it was worth it to be in the park super early.
I was not expecting the long lines to meet the characters. Henry really wanted to meet Olaf and the line said 20 minutes, but they ended up waiting 50 minutes… Andrew holding Henry the whole time (cue back pain). For some reason you could not FastPass these meet and greets, so if your kid is DYING to meet a character, go there early! Henry also LOVED the parades so much, which was a suprise. You get to watch lots of characters go by and satiated him as far as “seeing” them and not needing to “meet” them.
We spent our second day at Hollywood Studios (OMG, Toy Story Land was a HUGE hit with Henry). We had lunch booked at this place Minnie’s Hollywood & Vine and to my suprise, ALL the major Disney characters were there and came by the table for pictures with Henry. It was GENIUS. The meal was SO expensive for a basic buffet, but it was well worth it to get pictures with 5 characters in under 45 minutes plus eat while doing it! We didn’t have to wait in line for any more character visits and could focus on the rides instead!
When researching hotels, I knew this trip was going to serve a couple purposes- first, Henry’s first Disney experience, second, a much deserved last family trip as a threesome and lastly, a mini-babymoon for me before we have this baby! So I knew I wanted a hotel that wasn’t “crazy Disney” and had a relaxing/ adult aspect to it as well. When looking at rates (which were INSANE across the board), the Four Seasons Orlando was the same price as the Grand Floridian and Polynesian (the two Disney resorts my friends recommended) and looked way more my speed for this trip. And it was AMAZING. Truly, above and beyond what I expected. Incredible kid activities (including a “kids camp” at no additional charge where kids can play and do activities under close supervisions with counselors for hours – while you relax!) Also the pools were amazing, the food was outstanding, the room was great and the SPA- holy smokes, it was SO incredible. The pre-natal massage was mind blowing (they had a table pad that had cut outs for my pregnant belly so I could lay on my tummy and as a stomach sleeper, that felt so good as well as the bonkers good massage itself!) And while it’s not on the monorail (which might be super important with a bigger group or older kids), the Four Seasons has buses that take you to the parks about every half hour. We opted to take Lyft’s “Minnie Vans” because we needed to be at the park at an off-hour and also I was trying to limit contact with large crowds as much as I could. They drop you off/ pick you up right at the park entrance and have car seats in them (plus are driven by Disney employees and the cars are red with white polka dots… so cute). We absolutely plan to go back to this resort again, it was so good.
This was the splash pool, which was all super shallow so you could relax a bit safety-wise! There was also a lazy river we ALL loved floating on together, as well as a big family pool, an adults-only pool and a kiddie pool area.
All in all, it was a fantastic first trip to Disney, and we hope to do it again with Henry and Baby Girl in a couple years. I’m so glad we did it now though, just the three of us, because it was so special to watch Henry experience the magic at this age (also who knew 4 year olds loved rollercoasters so much???) It was worth every penny we spent and we all were sad to leave.
I hope this was helpful! Feel free to leave your own Disney tips in comments so everyone can share their own experiences and advice!
We went a year ago and brought a double stroller for our three yr old and our stuff. By the end of the first day we were pushing my 8 and 6 yr old in the stroller while my three yr old walked.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention the meal plan. My only two suggestions when planning a Disney trip. Resort and meal plan. No questions asked!
Thank you for sharing the wonderful photos and great tips! I’ve been going to Disneyland my whole life and I had no idea there are now Disney planners…I wonder if it’s just a service for Disneyworld…
So happy for you guys! The photo of Henry with Mickey is truly priceless! With all the concerning and sad news about CoronaVirus I love this post! Thanks for sharing the joy! I have been a fan of your talent and work and heartfelt honesty in sharing yourself and your family with your fans and followers over the years. Thank you again for this post…. it is both uplifting AND grounding because it reminds us all of what really matters in life. Spending time with those we love and sharing the joy and happiness. God bless you and your families and stay healthy!
Totally agree- so worth it as a trio- and the memories will be long lasting!
Our trip got cancelled so living vicariously through you. Ten years ago we took our then four year old grandson and his parents to Disneyland. Only one major meltdown. It didn’t help that the weather was rainy so plans to rest and swim didn’t work out so well. But otherwise it was a great experience.
Thank you so much for sharing.
And, 30 years later…STILL an amazing memory!!! franki