I have become slightly obsessed with Disney this past year and have enjoyed conducting dozens upon dozens of hours of research about the parks. We plan to take the kids for a full week next year, so this was a trial run of sorts. It really couldn't have gone any better. In addition to the vacation series, this is going to be a "Disney Tip" post since I love reading them so much, but you'll have to take it with a grain of salt since this is only my third visit with kids...second to the parks.
Let's go ahead and get it out in the open...I started the day in a foul mood. I had my heart set on the opening show but between getting a late start, a short car trouble scare, traffic, and a potty break, it just wasn't in the cards. I must apologize to anyone whom I was rude to...cough, cough...family.
Anyway, we made it to Disney World shortly after nine and headed straight for the monorail after getting our tickets at the Will Call booth. One of my favorite moments of the entire day was when Eli saw the castle while we waited. He was so excited!
We got stuck behind the dance line as soon as we walked into the park, but after finally making in we headed straight for Frontierland. Eli wanted to ride Jungle Cruise, but it was a 30 minute wait, so we hit up Pirates of The Caribbean which had no line!
Next was Philharmagic which remains one of my favorites. It was a short 10 minute wait, but since it was in the air conditioning, we rolled with it. While we were in Fantasyland we went on to enjoy It's A Small World, before splitting up from Clay and Mandi so that we could use the Fast Passes we reserved before the trip. This is a must!! You basically get to pick three rides you guaranteed walk straight onto... before you even leave home.
Our first scheduled fast pass was for Under The Sea. Ellie loves the movie, and it was our first visit since the opening of the new Fantasyland, so we were excited to experience it. Bless her heart, she was out like a light until the music started, and then she perked right up.
I seriously wonder what kids think when they fall asleep at Disney. I bet they're wondering if they're still dreaming or if this is real life. HA!
Disney did not disappoint, as always the theme was played to perfections with no detail left unfinished. I would highly recommend this ride.
Here's our take on Disney in a day...don't waste time. We are very flexible and don't keep much of an agenda other than booking our Fast Passes. I'm sure that will change with the dining plan next summer, but our laid back approach really lends itself to flexibility which enabled us to take advantage of 17 rides in one day.
All of that to say that because of our approach we were able to sift out the shortest lines. We only waited 15 minutes to ride Dumbo (a major park attraction) and most of the time was spent under the Big Top Tent where the kids could play while we waited to board!
Following Dumbo we still had time before our next Fast Pass in Tomorrowland, so we went to potty and took a lunch break at the Space Terrace. Then it was time for the Monster's Inc. Laughing Floor. In hind sight, this wasn't an overly busy attraction, so we could have done without the pass, but it was still nice to jump ahead in line with the babies.
I have to say that the parade is one of my favorite things about Disney...both of them. This year's theme was so special because it really captured the old Disney Magic of my youth. We met back up with Mandi and Clay on Main Street and had a prefect view of the castle , plus we sat next to two (off the clock) cast members. They were a wealth of knowledge.
So... Anna and Elsa were on the back of a float which meant that you couldn't see them until they were leaving. Oh MY Goodness...the crowd went crazy waving.
Ellie was too cute. It had to be sensory overload for her little self, but goodness, she was taking it all in waving, dancing, and singing.
Eli was enthralled too. He was genuinely excited to show Ellie every character he recognized. I love seeing them interacting and excited for each other.
We made a mad dash back to Fantasyland following the parade so that we could use our last Fast Pass on Peter Pan. By that point the wait time was 60 minutes, but we walked right on up to load. It was my first time experiencing this ride, and while I very much enjoyed it, I would have been disappointed had I waited in line.
Because we had used all of the Fast Passes that came with our tickets (3), we were able to start booking the rolling pass which is basically an opportunity for you to use one Fast Pass at a time. Once you use or current pass, or it expires, you can get another one. DO THIS!!!
We booked Jungle Cruise which if you recall was a 30 minute wait when we first got to the park. We had about 40 minutes until it was our turn to ride, so we stopped for FREE water at the Harbor House. Yes, I said FREE!! In all of our research, I found out that Quick-Service dining restaurants offer free water. As we got into Frontierland we saw that Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride was only a 10 minute wait, so Eli and I rode while Eric got us a little treat.
Here's another tip: ask cast members to take your picture. We didn't purchase the Memory Maker, but that didn't stop the cast from being kind and snapping our photos.
Anyway, next we used our Fast Pass on the Jungle Cruise. We had a wonderful skipper who just made the voyage a lot of fun for everyone. Do you remember that floating Fast Pass? Well, the kiosk was at the exit of the Jungle Cruise, so we got off the ride and successfully booked another Fast Pass for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger that was good in 15 minutes. We literally walked to Tomorrowland and bypassed an hour long line! We would never have stood in the line, but decided to ride it since we had a Fast Pass, and I'm so glad because it became Eli's favorite ride.
Next we went to the Emporium Shop on Main Street to buy Ellie's inaugural Minnie Ears. We ended up meeting Clay and Mandi and booking another Fast Pass for the Haunted Mansion. It was still about an hour away, so we did Carousel of Progress just for the heck of it. It wasn't my favorite ride, but it was air-conditioned and it was better than poking around and wasting time.
On our way to Haunted Mansion we stopped to take our Castle picture. Remember that tip about Cast Members? This was a designated "Memory Maker" spot, but the photographer was more than happy to snap some family photos for us.
Once again, we bypassed the insanely long line and walked right up to the Haunted Mansion. I would recommend using a Fast Pass on this ride if you have small children because it cuts down on the lull which is usually when the anxiety starts to build up.
As luck would have it, we got stuck on the ride…in front of a coffin that opens and closes. We're still not sure what happened, but we didn't move for a good ten minutes and then the ride was closed when we got off…weird. Oh well, we entertained ourselves by taking a family selfie. I think the kids look terrified.
The Harbor house was close, and we were hungry so we decided to eat dinner there. I would HIGHLY recommend this Quick-Service restaurant because you get a ton of food for your money. I got two pieces of fish, fries, and cole slaw all in one meal. You just can't beat that, especially when you take advantage of the free water.
After dinner we had to find our spot for the Eclectic parade. The hour and a half waiting for it to start was undoubtedly the worst part of the whole day. People try to cut, it's hot, the kids are tired. Next year we are going to Fast Pass the parade so that we can get a prime spot.
I guess if there is a silver-lining it's that while Eric waited with Eli, I was able to go change Ellie's diaper and score another Fast Pass for Tomorrowland Speedway.
Here's another Disney Tip…Monogram away. I was really on the fence about getting Eli a shirt, but I'm so glad a did. The cast members called both of my kids by name, and Eli got a shout out during the parade. Ya'll he was on cloud nine.
Oh yeah, Clay got a shout out too. He put light up Mickey ears on to entertain the kids while we waited, but he forgot to take them off. Ha! One of the characters yelled, "Nice Ears." Good times!
Following the parade we basically stayed in our spot for "Wishes," but we didn't
have the best view of the fireworks.
After the show we SLOWLY made our way through the crowd and to the Tomorrowland Speedway where we took advantage of the "rider-swap." What is that, you ask? Well, when you have a child who is too small to ride, one parent can ride with the eligible kid while the other stays behind. Then the first parent gets off the ride and switches with the waiting parent.
Basically this means that Eric and I both got to enjoy the ride and Eli was lucky enough to stay on it twice! Ya'll, do this if you have kids!
Here's another tip but be warned that it won't work for everyone…Hit up Fantasyland after 10 PM. We are normally sticklers for bedtimes, but we knew that it was our one day in the park. After forking over all that money, we darn well wanted to make the most of it, so we hit up Fantasyland very late. By this time all the families were gone, and the older crowds were still trying to get on the big rides like Space Mountain.
We literally walked straight up to Mad Hatter (Tea Cups), Belle's Enchanted Tales, and The Merry-Go-Round. By the way, we all had a role in Belle's Enchanted Tales…even Eric! It was so much fun!
Poor Eli was still going strong, but Ellie was tuckered out. We promised him one more ride, and he chose Buzz Lightyear. Again, it was late (nearing mid-night) so he and Eric walked right on to it with no wait at all. I know not all kids can be flexible (but since mine never sleep..ha) or that if you're visiting multiple days you'll probably want to retire early for another day of fun, but we knew it was our only day and that we could rest on the beach, so we took it all in.
Until the clock struck midnight….actually 1:00 am for Magic Hours!