So! As I mentioned many posts ago, we are headed to Disney World in November! I never really planned to go- I love a good roller coaster, but people, crowds, lines, and logistics are decidedly not my thing when on vacation and spending a million dollars to combine all of those things sounded 100% terrible, but James went a lot as a kid and responded to my "we don't ever have to do Disney right?" comment a few years ago with an incredulous and absolutely genuine, "but it's magical!" I knew it would have to happen. James using the word "magical" non-sarcastically is as about as high of an endorsement as you can get. And now that it's here, I'm actually super excited.
It has a lot to do with this little princess-obsessed toddler right here. I have no doubt Landon and Claire will LOVE Disney. They'll be swept up in James's magic and love everything. But they're both indifferent to the Disney-ness of it. Claire has never been into princesses or any Disney characters and Landon is the same. I'm not really sure either of them know who Mickey Mouse is. A childhood without TV is not an advantage here. But Cora? Cora loves her princesses with all of her heart. They speak to her soul and just picturing her joy at seeing them in REAL LIFE makes me feel the magic before we're even there.
Day 1 of our trip is actually Cora's 4th birthday. We're going the week before Thanksgiving, when James isn't busy, end-of-year school stuff hasn't started yet, and Disney isn't yet crowded for the holidays. We should land in Orlando around noon, get to our hotel mid-afternoon (1-bedroom villa in the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary; separate bedroom for James and me, 2 full bathrooms, full kitchen and eating area, plus a washer and dryer(!); my vacation sleeping rules remain satisfied and we can go home with clean clothes!), settle in, and head to the park for our 4:00 allowed entry with our Mickey's Christmas Party tickets. We're eating at Cinderella's Castle that night for Cora's birthday dinner and I CANNOT WAIT. In the words of Tara, "oh my god she's probably going to pass out."
And then we'll have the Christmas Party! Which sounds fun- Elsa, Anna, and Olaf do the show that turns the Christmas lights on the castle, there's snow falling on Main Street, lots of the rides are open, and there's a parade with characters you don't normally see. It required its own tickets anyway, so it's a perfect travel day activity and made our estimate cheaper for not needing full park tickets that first day. And I could get later flights so we don't need to get up at the crack of dawn before a week-long vacation. All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about Day 1.
But I'd love your recommendations for everything else! We're working with an awesome Disney planner (and swim school client of James's; love our little community!) but James hasn't been to Disney in 20 years and I haven't been ever, so I'd love your thoughts on some of the following decisions we're working through with her. And just anything else you want to share.
General info: our trip will be Sunday-Friday, so five nights and four full days, plus our first half-day at Magic Kingdom for the Sunday evening Christmas party and birthday dinner. Landon will be 10, Claire 7, and Cora 4 (ahhh! also, sob.). We're doing the meal plan. We're open to extras, but also aren't looking to add on if we don't need to (other than the stuff we already have planned for Sunday of course).
Things we are supposed to be thinking about before talking to Kaleigh (our planner) again:
~ Which parks do we want to visit and how many days do we want to spend there? I'm assuming we'll visit all four because I don't know when/if we'll do this again. We remain mostly mountain, beach, hiking, and city-exploring people. I've heard MK needs 2 days- would the half-day Sunday + 1 full day be enough? Can we combine two parks into one day? Or we could do 3 full days for 3 parks and one more 1/2 day at MK with a 1/2 day at the 4th.
~ Do we want to utilize the Extra Magic House? In the a.m. or the p.m.? I'd say yes, particularly the a.m. option, but will this make the day too long for the kids?
~ What table service meals do we want to do? Breakfast v. Lunch v. Dinner? When/Where? *I'm particularly looking for recommendations here as reservations open in May* What were your favorite meals? It sounds nice to sit down and have a table meal, but also a time-suck. Our kids are super well behaved and patient at restaurants, but I want to spend our time/money wisely. Which ones were worth it? What time of day worked for you?
~ Do we want to do any dinner shows?
~ Do we want to do any add-on things like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique? or Firework dessert party at MK?
~ Have you been to Disney in mid-November? What kind of weather did you experience? Could you swim? Can Cora wear her princess dresses? Please predict the future and tell me the temperature.
~ Park Packing. What did you bring that I might not think of but that you found super helpful? What did you not need? What kind of purse/bag did you carry? A fanny pack is not a thing that is happening, unless James agrees to wear it.
~ What was your/your kids' favorite thing? Anything I should tell Kaleigh is a must do for us? I'm sure we'll hit all the classics (whatever those are), but if there's something you loved that I should tell her to put in our plan, let me know!
Despite all these questions, I should note I'm not at all worried about any this. It's going to be awesome. We have a great room where everyone will sleep. Kaleigh knows her stuff and will give us a great general plan that won't make me think hard or research things I don't feel like researching. But this is an expensive and likely rare vacation for us, so I would definitely love to absorb your thoughts, advice, recommendations, and don't-waste-your-times into our plan!
Lastly, and also firstly, our kids don't know about this trip yet! Please don't tell them. Not because I have a grand unveiling surprise, but because I can't handle a 200+ day countdown. They made a 50-circle countdown paper chain for Easter. This would be like having-a-baby levels of anticipation. I'm thinking 1-2 months out will be perfect. I want them excited. I don't want a paper chain stretched across my house that we have to re-count every night because Landon can't remember if he removed a ring or not. For now, I'm excited enough for all of us.