We went, we saw, we returned (against our wills).
I have a bunch of things to say about Disney World - about what we learned, what we loved, what made us melt down. But this is just that post that is all about how magical our trip was. Everyone who blogs and goes to Disney has one, and if you've been, you know why.
Because it is really magical. Even the skeptical leave feeling the magic, assuming you did a little planning.
We stayed on site. I don't think we will ever stay off site now that we have had this experience. First of all, the Disney Magical Express is amazing. We checked our luggage at our home airport in New England, it arrived in our room while we were at the park. At check-out we handed our bags to the Disney Magical Express at our hotel, and they appeared back in New England. That was it. No rolling all that around the green earth with small kids and 10,000 carry-ons. The bus and videos were nice, too, but the real magic is in the luggage care.
Our flight there was delayed, so we lost about 2 hours (and missed our first FastPass) in the park. However, it all worked out, because our second FastPass was for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. We had just enough time to snap a few photos, get some fries, find where our younger daughter ran off to (which caused me to spill the fries - I was in a bit of a panic, and someone bumped me. Spilled fries will make your family melt down, and it wasn't very magical.) and get our FastPass seats. If ever there is a fantastic way to start your trip, it is with this parade. It embodies all of what Disney is - loud, over-the-top detailing, and this sense of wonder that envelopes everyone. You've never seen a parade this gorgeous or well put together. My daughters lost it when the characters waved directly at them. There were bubbles and a dragon that breaths fire, and the whole thing was amazing. It also gave my young kids a chance to actually see characters (especially those in full costumes) at a bit of a distance. My younger one was not a fan of people in costume before this trip. Now she can't get enough.
The first night, we ate at Chef Mickey's. Characterpalooza. I'll write more on restaurants later, but the big draw here was meeting the mouse that started the madness, Mickey.
I went to Disney once before, when I was 11. It was my birthday and not only was it not nearly the experience they make it now, but I didn't see Mickey the whole time. I took every opportunity offered to get near that mouse, particularly because he is the apple of my daughter's eye.
Day 2, we went to Animal Kingdom. The tree is amazing, the Wilderness Explorers are adorable, the park is low-key, and this is where you can meet unique characters. My girls were fried from travel and surprised, so we went to Disney Springs on the same day. Animal Kingdom also closes earlier than the other parks, so we didn't lose much time there.
Day 3 was a very BIG birthday. We will never top this. When Disney knows it is your actual birthday, they make a really big deal out of you. (And they know because your birthday shows up on your FastPass, reservations, everything.) We had breakfast at Cinderella's, and that got us into the park before it opened. Check out how empty the streets are! Pictures!
Cupcakes and singing at every table service meal. There was a lot of sugar.
We spent the whole day in the park, save two hours where we tried to nap and the girls just bounced around the room. Then they fell asleep in the stroller once we got into the park. Seriously.
We used our three passes for the day and still had plenty of time to meet characters and ride the rides. I don't think we waited more than 20 minutes for any ride or meeting our whole trip. (More on that later.)
When we boarded the carousel, so did Lady Tremaine and her daughters! She showed my older daughter where Cinderella's horse was (how exciting, to ride Cinderella's horse!) and my younger daughter might now aspire to be a villain, after all their conversation. The ladies walked my girls to the front of their meet and greet line for photos and signatures afterwards. It was pretty amazing.
We had dinner at Be Our Guest. The grey stuff is delicious. The Beast was very cordial, and he was the only character my younger daughter was frightened by. He was 8 feet tall and hairy, so...
On the fourth day, we went to Epcot. We managed to do the whole park in one day without any major incident. The children opted out of nap, which made dinner less than entertaining, but every kid in Disney is crazed by dinner, so we were just part of the cacophony. My kids loved the KidCot stops, and the live shows throughout are pretty cool.
Day 5 was Hollywood Studios. It. Poured. Not a typical Florida afternoon shower, there was sheet rain for a few hours. Good thing a good portion of this park is indoors. We had to wait for the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids! playground to be wiped down, but I'm glad we did. They are taking it out in April! After someone told me this, I took about a million pictures. This was one part that I really remembered from my childhood, and I wanted my kids to enjoy it as much as I did when I was younger.
Day 6, our last day, we spent the morning at the Magic Kingdom again. It was cold by Florida standards, and many of the outdoor rides had very short lines. We watched a bunch of shows, since those were inside where it is warm, and overall the day was pretty full. Then we went to the airport and, due to weather, spent 6.5 hours on the plane and another 2 getting our luggage. We went to bed at 3am on Sunday, and the Disney Hangover is just now lifting.
It was a full, amazing trip. I can't wait to go back!