After making the mistake of telling the kids a few months in advance that we were going to Disney World, and having them ask on a daily basis when we were going to Disney World, we finally made it to Orlando!
Orlando is a destination where a family of four could easily spend a month enjoying different activities every day without getting bored. We had five nights in Orlando, and to avoid the inevitable overstimulation created by an abundance of exciting options in the area, we had decided to focus solely on Disney World for this trip. One park per day seemed like an achievable feat with a three year old and a five year old in tow.
We spent our first day settling into our accommodation. Our Two Bedroom Suite at Floridays Resort Orlando was absolutely perfect for our family of four. The kids were excited to have their own rooms, and my husband and I were equally excited that we would be able to avoid having to turn in at 7.30pm so as not to disturb the little ones.
After a good night’s sleep we were ready to hit the parks! Travelling with two young children meant that trying to visit more than one park a day would be a logistical nightmare, so we decided that a four day base ticket would be sufficient for this trip. Our resort was a convenient 15 minute drive to most of the parks and parking was a breeze.
The first park that we visited was Epcot and our first stop was a visit to one of the stores to collect a free “1st Visit” badge for the kids. The stamina of the two short-legged humans was against us, so we tried to fit in as much as we could before we had to call it a day. The photo opportunities started as soon as we got through the gates.
Throughout the day we met Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, Minnie and Snow White! We briefly visited Future World to stop in and visit Nemo and his friends.
The kids loved riding along “underwater” in little clams on The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, and enjoyed the interactive Turtle Talk with Crush attraction, where an animated Crush answered questions from the audience! We spent the rest of the day in the World Showcase area where we were able to visit countries all over the world in one afternoon.
Our trip coincided with the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so lunch consisted of delicious tasting sized portions of multicultural dishes such as Escargot Tart, Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll and Beijing Roasted Duck in a Steamed Bun!
There were 11 countries on display, and the highlights for us were the French acrobatic comedy show, dancing to the Japanese drumming performance and riding on Maelstrom, the Norwegian Viking boat ride. World Showcase had Kidcot Fun Stops set up at each pavilion, where the kids could sit down and colour in. They also collected a stamp at each spot for each country, which was a great incentive to help keep the kids moving to the next pavilion!
The next day we visited Hollywood Studios. There weren’t as many attractions to try and squeeze in at Hollywood Studios, so we also managed to experience a character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, the buffet restaurant located within Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
We were very lucky to have booked this breakfast as I had left it until a few months prior to make restaurant reservations, so many of the very popular restaurants such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant were booked out for the entire week that we were there.
“Grand” was certainly an accurate description of the resort! When we entered the lobby I was instantly impressed by the beauty and grandeur of the interior of the hotel and I made a mental note that this would be the resort that we would stay at on our next trip!
The breakfast was a wonderful experience. There were kid-height buffet stations serving Mickey-shaped waffles amongst other things, and the kids enjoyed very personal interactions with Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins.
After filling up on a delicious breakfast, we jumped on the free Disney bus service and headed back to Hollywood Studios. While we unfortunately had to miss out on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror due to height restrictions and pure fear, we did experience some of the highlights of our trip while visiting this park.
We met some A-grade characters (Buzz, Woody, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Mike and Sully), we rode on Toy Story Midway Mania, which rated as one of the top rides at all four parks for our family, and the best thing of all, we sang our hearts out at the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration!
The kids were getting a little bit grizzly by the end of the day, but luckily some of the Disney Cast members were on hand to placate them with stickers on our way out!
Each of the parks have a handy stroller rental outlet just after you enter, and after the two long days at Epcot and Hollywood Studios we succumbed to hiring a stroller for little miss three.
She had been an absolute trooper for the first two days, but judging by the nap that she took in the stroller later that day, she obviously needed a little break!
Our fourth day was spent at Animal Kingdom. We started the day by collecting a Wilderness Explorer booklet for the kids. The booklets were full of little challenges that needed to be completed in order to collect different stickers – another fun activity to motivate the kids to keep moving through the park! The highlights for us at Animal Kingdom were the Kali River Rapids and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
I managed to sneak away briefly to ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster, which was a very fun thrill ride. We also rode DINOSAUR, which has an exciting time travel ride and we experienced the It’s Tough To Be a Bug show in the Tree of Life, however these attractions were bordering on too scary for the age of our kids.
We definitely saved the best for last with a trip to Magic Kingdom on our last day at the parks! Magic Kingdom definitely had the most appealing attractions for my two Disney-loving daughters. There was so much in this park that we all loved! The Barnstormer was a great roller coaster to warm the kids up on, before they tried the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and eventually Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin was a hit with all four of us, as was Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, the Mad Tea Party and the Haunted Mansion. It was nice to have a little rest on rides such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant, it’s a small world and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover. To top it all off we met Anna, Elsa, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Tinkerbell!
As we were flying out in the afternoon of our final day in Orlando, we spent our last morning at Downtown Disney. The girls had appointments at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique which I had booked several months in advance, where Fairy Godmothers-in-training transformed them into little princesses!
After their appointments they were absolutely thrilled to explore the huge World of Disney store. I could have shopped there all day! We finished off our visit with lunch at the Rainforest Café, where we enjoyed a jungle themed meal and recapped on the wonderful week that we had!
We certainly had an action packed week in Orlando and we could have easily filled another week with other adventures. However, we made the most of our time there, especially using features such as Disney’s FastPass+ which allowed us to reserve a time slot during which we could go straight to the front of the line of some of the most popular rides at each of the parks. Another great feature was Memory Maker, which allowed us to link all of our character and ride photos to our park passes and access them online.
Unfortunately because we stayed off property, we missed out on some of the benefits extended to Disney resort guest such as Extra Magic Hours and advance access to FastPass+ bookings. With this in mind, the hot tips that I will be sure to remember for next time are to stay at a Disney resort and also to make my FastPass+ and restaurant bookings as far in advance as possible!
Written by Audrey Johnston, Infinity Marketing Manager