Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 05-08-2012
Finally getting around to sorting through all the photos from our Disney vacation. In June, we loaded up the van, hit the road and spent 8 days in Florida and then drove up for a very quick visit with my family in Charleston, SC. I set up everyone’s phone to automatically upload photos to a dropbox and bought the somewhat overpriced Disney Photopass and took a lot of photos. There’s nearly 600 of them and you can see them on my Flickr page. Enjoy. I’ll share a few of my faves below…
It was QUITE the vacation. I’m SO glad we went through a Disney travel agent. She was free and she was available to me via text or phone. She went through things with me, answered my 900 questions and helped with the general planning. Even better, she watched out for discounts and ended up saving us around $500 by rebooking our vacation when the prices came down. It was pretty awesome. So I will give a huge shout out to Amanda. Email her if you’re planning a trip. I wouldn’t have been able to do this and not worry hardly at all without her. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Trust me.
One of our favorite things was the Ohana character breakfast. Both of my kids are huge Stitch fans (especially Cassie). Getting to meet Stitch was truly a highlight. The food was wonderful and the kids were made to feel like royalty. Tom and I were able to relax, enjoy. I do wish they had more time with the characters. There was just enough time for them to walk by, pose for a photo and autograph for us. Not bad, but it did feel rushed at times. We did the photo package there as well and Cassie, of course, brought her stuffed Stitch (which she also carried all over the parks). They were so cute and made sure her stuffy got a lei along with the rest of us. That huge smile says it all!
Our favorite ride was the Peter Pan ride as a family. They did an amazing job with it. Really, all of the rides are total events. We also really enjoyed Soarin’ (which we did twice). I’m glad we did 8 days. We were able to do Magic Kingdom and Epcot for two days each and took a day off for a Water Park.
The really bad part was the quick service food. It left a lot to be desired. Very fast-food type and really not all that good, with a few exceptions. We had table service for dinners and that was much better and the food was really good quality. I had an amazing soup at Marrakesh, a Moroccan place in Epcot, but the rest of my party said that it was pretty bland, otherwise. We absolutely loved T-Rex in Downtown Disney, the food was really great and the atmosphere was amazing. We ate in the ice cave and it was really awesome. I have several food allergies and each time, one of the chefs came out to talk to me about them and made sure that what I ate was safe for me.
One of the things that Disney excels at is their set up for kids with ADHD and anxiety disorders. Jamie has a really tough time in crowds and we knew this vacation was going to be a challenge. I knew they would make accommodations, but I was floored by how far out of their way they will go to make sure the kids have a great time. We did several things right (and a few things wrong), but overall, it was amazing. I was expecting them to just save our place in the massive lines and put us somewhere quieter but… We brought a doctor’s note and they gave us a pass that allowed us to basically walk to the fast pass lines. It meant we didn’t have to get a fast pass and then try to get him back through the crowd again just so he could go on a ride. It really didn’t save us much time over anyone else being there because we also found we had to get him out of the park at least once per day and back to the hotel. The buses take a while so it was a good chance for him to decompress. We found the lunch food at the hotel to be tolerable, so we would eat there, go cool off in the room and then head back to the park in the late afternoon. We only had a few major freak outs with him (one was towards the end of the big fireworks in Magic Kingdom. I really wish I had asked about a quieter place for him because I think that ruined that experience for him a bit).
My biggest piece of advice for people heading to Disney is to come with a plan, but be prepared to toss it completely out of the window if needed. We tried to stick to our Touring Plan, but ended up ditching it except for the list of rides we wanted to try to hit. We just weren’t able to stick to a timetable with the other challenges we had. Also, bring blister bandages. My sister ended up with huge blisters and I wish we had them in hand instead of having to go out searching for some the second evening.
There are also a lot of hotels. If we go back, and I hit the lottery, I would probably want to stay somewhere on the tram line. We opted to stay in a family suite at a value resort which was phenomenal though. We had a bedroom, a living area, a small kitchen and TWO BATHROOMS. With five people, it made it so much easier to get everyone showered and in bed at night.
Tom really wants to go back… like now. While I had a truly amazing time, it’s really expensive. We did the Disney meal plan and while I was reluctant about it at first, I’m glad we did. We didn’t think about food or cost or anything like that, we just did whatever we wanted. We ended up with plenty of leftover snack credits at the end of the trip and bought a bunch of Mickey ear rice crispy treats. The whole trip was just crazy expensive. Plus, I’ll be honest… eight days of the mouse and the happy happy joy joy will make just about anyone insane. Add that to the kids being afraid of certain rides and everyone getting hot and crabby and well… he’s been outvoted in favor of a relaxing beach vacation next year! *laughing*
Seriously… it’s the vacation everyone has to take. My kids were 9 and 11 and it really was the perfect age. Oh! That reminds me, careful if you do do the meal plan. Cassie was 9 so she would have had to eat from the children’s menu if we hadn’t have made sure to tell our planner to tell them she was 10. She doesn’t eat “kid menu” food so it was nice for her to also just eat anything she wanted. The portions are HUGE though, so we shared most of the time. We also found that you might want to order one vegetarian meal so that you got some good veggies for the table as well.
The crowds were light in some parks and heavy in others when we were there, although half of the US wasn’t even out of school yet. That whole “just go with it” is super important here. Taking that day off for a beach park day was also perfect. We did the park hopper and while we could have done without it, it was nice to be able to run into another park to check out a show or something if we wanted. We caught almost all of the nighttime light/firework shows and I’m really glad that we did. They were really awesome.
That’s it… we did end up riding most of the rides, we didn’t miss much and we’ll probably go back in a few years… but next year… lazy beach vacation