Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Disney Thoughts, Plans, and Logistics

Disney! We're still talking about it! The recaps are done, but I've already had friends ask questions about our logistics, so I thought I'd write them out in one place, along with other random, practical thoughts, and reflections on all the details and things I wondered about before we went. It's long. I apologize in advance.

First thing, use a Disney Planner. They're free (paid by Disney), they know everything, and they make the trip so easy (and they're FREE). As I told James, "this must be what it's like for you to go on vacation! A few conversations, some general preferences, and then a whole itinerary just materializes before you!" It's lovely. I highly, highly recommend our planner, Kaleigh Kirkpatrick. Her travel website is here and facebook page here. She is local in Fort Worth (and a swim school client, which is how I found her!), but we did all our work over phone and email and never actually met in person (Kaleigh! We should meet!), so she could plan your trip from anywhere. She helped me pick our dates, our hotel, our restaurants, fast passes, etc. She made all our reservations, getting up by 6 a.m. to login as early as possible precisely 180 days out (when restaurant reservations open) and 60 days out (when fast passes open). When certain ones we talked about were booked, she was able to flip around our itinerary in a moment and make it all work while I would have been frozen at the computer screen. She arranged our fast passes in a logical way I couldn't appreciate until we arrived at the park. She had an app for her company and a schedule to show us our itinerary for each day with suggestions, ideas, and a general plan that I LOVED. She made it easy and fun and I did not do one second of research or work I didn't want to (which meant I did almost no research, which was kind of fun... usually I like planning very much, but there's something to showing up and being surprised by it all, especially at Disney that let me feel like one of the kids.)

Once you're there you use Kaleigh's itinerary (that she made based on your preferences, kids' ages, etc.) and the Disney app on your phone to start your day. We found once we were at each park for an hour or two we figured things out well enough to use Kaleigh's plan as a guidepost and then sub in and out other stuff that looked fun or that the app told us had short lines. But I appreciated VERY MUCH her concrete advice and ideas for the first hour or so when we had no idea what was going on or what we should do first.

Oh and timing. Call early. If you know you want to go to Disney in the next year- call. I started talking to Kaleigh about a year before 11 months before our trip and I'm so glad I started early. We need a family suite or villa because of the three kids and so many of those were already full! You can also make dining reservations starting 180 days out and many of those were already full when she logged in at 6 a.m. on precisely that day to make them. You can do it later of course, and people cancel and stuff moves around, but if you know you're going to go, there's really no reason not to start planning early. It's super fun and way less stressful that way. Especially because Kaleigh does it all for you.

Moving on to our specifics. You know we did the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. It was amazing, but mostly because we were the Festival Family for the night and got to skip all the lines. As I told Kaleigh afterward, I still absolutely think that doing the special party on your first night is the right idea- you have to pay for the separate party ticket no matter when you want to attend, so it's great to do it on a day you aren't otherwise paying for a park ticket as well and works out perfectly to end your first travel day. Plus, you can get in to the park 3 hours before the party begins, so you get some "free" park time that is pretty valuable. But I will say that it was kind of a lot to show up at the park for a party when you've never been to the park before and it's night and dark and there are a million people and all these special shows and events and characters and you don't even know what's special v. what's normal or what your favorite things are that you should be taking advantage of. So have a plan. Get there early (definitely earlier than we managed with our crazy travel afternoon + boutique trip) and get your bearings before the sun goes down. Maybe have a list of 3 rides your planner thinks you'll love and that normally have lines. Pick a character you definitely want to see. Otherwise you'll end up frozen in indecision in front of the castle while hundreds of people rush by you and you feel like you're already behind. (Though being frozen in front of the castle ultimately worked out for us!)

(Other semi-downside to visiting the parks during a party time, like Halloween and Christmas, is that Magic Kingdom closes early on party nights, so there were at least two nights we would have stayed at MK later or walked over after dinner but couldn't because it was closed for the party. Just something to keep in mind.)

Our hotel. We stayed at the Contemporary. I highly recommend it, specifically the condos in Bay Lake Tower where we were. It's not the themiest or most beautiful hotel (it's theme is basically "modern," as defined in 1971 when it was built), but oh my gosh, the ability to just walk to Magic Kingdom in 5 minutes AND to skip the bag check because you have your own tiny bag check with no line on your own personal walkway in to MK was absolutely perfect for us and we took full advantage. We had a 1-bedroom villa suite and it was wonderful. A big separate room for James and me with our own huge bathroom, a fabulous jacuzzi tub I used every night, and the stand-up shower with multiple shower heads and built-in-bench of James’s dreams. The kids slept in the living area with a pull out couch and chair, and then there was a large full kitchen with island and 8-person dinner table, another full bathroom, and a laundry room with washer and dryer. We used all of these things and my only regret is not doing a grocery order for at least two easy dinners in the room. I could have used a break from resort food and we got two of our dinners to go from the Contempo Cafe across the sky walk and ate in our room anyway. The Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower are the only hotels you can walk to MK from and for that alone, we'd stay there again. (The monorail also goes right through the middle of it for getting to Epcot which is great, but man, the walking and the private MK bag check -- we used those every day, even after going to other parks that morning.)

(view of our hotel from the Astro Orbiter ride in Magic Kingdom)

Disney Parks. There are four of them (I did not know this) and we did one day at each, with an extra day at Magic Kingdom at the end (that I thought we'd end around 3 p.m.- I even picked a cheap Orlando hotel with a great pool so we could play after we left, but instead we lasted until 6 p.m. when we were kicked out for another Christmas party). Each park is so different and so much to offer that I'm so glad we did them all. Our itinerary was:

- Travel Day: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disney Springs, Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom
- Day 1: Hollywood Studios - the only park we left in the afternoon instead of the evening, which was nice after our super late night before; also the only day the kids swam in our hotel pool, and then we walked over to Magic Kingdom after dinner.
- Day 2: Magic Kingdom - started with an early breakfast at Beast's Castle (loved the castle and meal, but glad it was our only breakfast as we preferred big meals later in the day) and ended after dinner.
- Day 3: Epcot - arrived at open, left at 6, could have stayed longer but we had spots for the MK fireworks that night (which were blow your socks off AMAZING)
- Day 4: Animal Kingdom - open to near close, absolutely loved this park. So beautiful, so totally different from the others.
- Day 5: Magic Kingdom - arrived for extra magic hours at 7 a.m. and then stayed until 6. We picked up a car (because of course Disney has a car rental center) and then drove to an inexpensive non-Disney hotel for the night before heading to Tampa/Clearwater Beach in the morning for some sun and fun before flying out of (the MUCH cheaper) Tampa airport that night.

Park Hopper. This allows you to go to multiple parks on the same day. I can see how it would not be worth it for many- you can easily spend a whole day in any park and once you're back at your hotel you are unlikely to want to go back out, but again, since we could just walk over to MK in a few minutes, we did that every night there wasn't a party. We could get dinner at a different quick service restaurant in Magic Kingdom, ride some rides, watch the fireworks, shop along main street... we just enjoyed being over there and we're always up for a walk. We did not ever hop over to a different park that wasn't Magic Kingdom, though I could see doing that for Epcot to see the nighttime show and take advantage of its FAR superior food options. We'd get the Park Hopper again.

Meal Plan. We did it. I'm mostly glad because while I'm good at spending money on vacations before we leave, I'm terrible once we go. If I'd known our character lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom was like $60/person we never would have done it. Instead, it was just "1 Table Service credit," so sure! Let's do this thing! Did I totally spend that $60/person as part of my total meal plan fee? Absolutely. Did I care? No, because I'd already paid that as part of our hotel bill 30 days before we left. Bring on the Mickey buffets. That said, we did buy a few meals because we ran out of Quick Service credits (pro tip: there is no adult/kid differentiation on kid service meals, so only use your credits for adult meals and buy the kids' meals out of pocket as needed) and then we bought a TON of snacks at the end because we had so many credits left. Had we just been paying out of pocket the whole time we probably would have spent less, but we also wouldn't have eaten in some of the cool places we ate at and definitely wouldn't have sampled every snack in Magic Kingdom on our last day, something I do not regret. If we went again, I would probably not do the plan but I'd be happy I had the memories from our table service restaurants the first time around when we did.

Our planner recommended doing Table Service at lunch and that was perfect for us. We got to each park early, did lots of things, and then had a nice break for a big meal midday. I was glad we weren't tied to the park for an evening reservation as once we were ready to go, we found we were very ready to go, and we liked walking back out to Magic Kingdom after a dinner at the hotel. Our reservation meals were:

- Hollywood Studios: Prime Time Diner Lunch (Table Service; cute, yummy, but wouldn't eat there again if not doing meal plan)
- Magic Kingdom: Beast's Castle for Breakfast (Quick Service; great food, beautiful setting, would definitely do again for any meal)
- Epcot: Via Nappoli for Lunch (Table Service; amazing food, James was finally full, would do again except probably not just because there are SO many great places at Epcot to go try)
- Animal Kingdom: Tusker House for Lunch (Table Service Character Buffet; delicious, loved it, would do again)
- Magic Kingdom: Cinderella's Royal Table for Lunch (2 Table Service credits per person; super expensive, absolutely loved it, probably don't have to do it again but am so glad we did it on the trip, also by far the best food and service we had on the trip)

Everything else was random Quick Service credits used at our hotel's cafe (the Contempo; quite good, though it got old eventually) and other Magic Kingdom restaurants. James and I struggled a bit with the resort food- we love our desserts but are really pretty healthy entree eaters... I hate fried food and I wanted vegetables so bad by the end I had salad as both an appetizer and entree at Cinderella's Royal Table, so I wish we'd had food delivered to cook up in the room at night, but the Contempo had a solid grilled salmon and I just got double veggies. The kids thought everything was wonderful and very much miss having chicken fingers and hot dogs at random times throughout the day.

Cinderella's Royal Table - best meal of the trip by FAR

Other food note: we brought along microwave oatmeal, three boxes of granola bars, trail mix, almonds, individual peanut butters, and microwave mac and cheese. We ate all of it over our six days. There are snacks everywhere and you definitely don't need to bring your own (especially on the meal plan where you get a million snack credits), but that's not what our stomachs are used to eating and I was very glad for our simple, protein-rich snacks to eat in the morning and at random points throughout the day in between Mickey waffles and hot dogs and ice cream cones. I also wish we'd brought more dinner in the room options (like the mac and cheese) but couldn't have predicted that before we left.

Memory Maker Photo Pass Yes, times a million. I think it was like $150? Doesn't even matter. It's worth all the dollars. There are photographers all over all the parks and cameras on several of the rides. If you have the pass, it links to the magic bands of your whole family and puts them all nearly instantly on the Disney app on your phone and to a website where you can retrieve them. So we'd ride down Space Mountain and a few minutes later, the photo would pop up on my phone to download, save, send, whatever. All the princess pictures, iconic family shots, and more. When we got home I had over 1,000 pictures to download and even after some ruthless deleting, I have 400 still saved.

loved when this popped up on my phone after they rode

Autograph Books. These were so fun!! I'd never heard of Disney autographs before, but when I read a few posts about other people's trips I saw they all mentioned them, so down the google wormhole I went. I wasn't sure how much the kids would get into (short answer: VERY. All of them.), so I wasn't sure I wanted a permanent book, plus I didn't really want to lug around 3 full books all day. So I found a blog post where a woman mentioned cutting 4x6 card stock cards and having those signed to be put into photo albums when they got back. I loved that idea and got busy decorating three cheap little $2 photo books to give to the kids when we revealed our trip.

Before we left I got a pack of click-it Sharpies and three little clipboards. Those lived in our backpack and we'd stick a fresh pack of 4x6 cards (that I cut from 12x12 sheets you get at craft stores for photo booking) in there each morning. When we got in line for a princess, each kid would pick a color and we'd hand her the stack of clipboards and marker and she'd sign away, handing them off to me, and then smiling for pictures. They're VERY good at this, it's very smooth, and the kids LOVED going back through their signature pages each night (and then I loved that those pages stayed safely in our hotel room when we set out the next day for more).

When we got home, I printed up a bunch of the princess pictures and slipped them in the photo books with the signatures. Landon really liked his book, but is happy it now lives in his memory box. Claire flips through it occasionally. Cora reads it every night. It sits next to her bed. She loves every page deeply and talks to you about each princess as she flips through.

Shoes. I was obsessed with finding the right shoes before we left on our trip, but really, as long as they're comfortable and you've worn them before, you're fine. I flipped between my Tom's and the new Saucony's I found before we left that don't make my feet look like boats (love them!) It's all paved walkway and maybe it's just because we work out a lot and all our vacations usually involve miles and miles of hiking, but we walked a TON (like close to ten miles a day) and no one (including me!) ever complained about their feet hurting or their legs being tired. I will say there are surprisingly few places to sit down (particularly at Hollywood Studios) and you will be on your feet pretty much every minute you're not eating a meal or riding a ride.

Stroller. The last sentence is partly true because we rented a stroller for Cora. We rented through Kingdom Strollers, as recommended by our planner, and they were great. We got the City Mini, it was super reasonably priced, and they delivered a case of bottled water with the stroller for an extra $7. We threw 4-5 bottles of water in the bottom of the stroller each morning and that worked out great. (You can get cups of water for free any time from any snack stand, but you do find a snack stand and wait in line and we liked just grabbing bottles from the stroller and then sharing it as we waited in line for a ride.) Anyway, the stroller was awesome. We hadn't used one for Cora in years and don't even own one at home anymore, but it was SO GREAT for her to cruise around in their and rest between rides and for us to shove our stuff into the bottom of it. If we ever go again and Cora is older I'm going to miss having the stroller just for that reason. Getting around the parks was no problem and it folded right up for the monorail and bus transfers. Stroller parking was easy and Cora would wander around each section of the park (curtsying as she went) before we reclaimed the stroller and then pushed her to another section.

Purse. This was another huge agonizing thing for me before we went. I finally purchased an inexpensive cross-body that I still really like but never carried after the first morning when I stuck it in our backpack around lunch and didn't bring it out again. All you need for Disney Life is your magic band on your wrist and your phone which I kept in a side pocket in my capris (or the back pocket of my shorts, depending on the day). James carried a backpack with our other essentials, it went with him on all the rides and was never a problem (and compared to our usual hiking backpack it was so light, he never mentioned it at all).

Park Packing List: What went in our backpack:
- baggie of 4x6 card stock for autographs
- 3 mini clipboards
- click-it Sharpie (we found handing over 1 pen + 3 separate boards with paper set up on them was easiest for the characters)
- chapstick
- sunscreen
- sunglasses for all
- granola bars
- locking backs for pins (you can order a set cheap on Amazon)
- two mini portable phone chargers
- my little first aid bag that always stays packed and goes with us on all trips in whatever bag we carry (mini sizes of adult and kid pain medicine, stomach medicine, bandaids, benadryl, and antibiotic ointment)
- (waters were in the bottom of the stroller, but a few bottles would have gone in the backpack if we didn't have one)

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. This was one of our few "extras" (besides the fact the whole trip was one giant life extra) and while I had moments of regret while we were doing it (our bus transfer was late, making it very stressful when we almost missed our appointment, and it was raining, and then we were late eating dinner and getting to the party), I'm glad we did it now. It's a boutique (actually two; one in Disney Springs, one in Cinderella's castle) with fairy godmothers who can give kids a very fancy hair style (bun with tiara, braids with bun and tiara, or fake braids with crystal slips), painted nails, little bit of blush/lip gloss, in a very fancy setting. It was super cute. Cora was just wearing the braids she got at the boutique in her hair yesterday (and every day we were at Disney, and like 20 other days since). Claire LOVED her bun and tiara. Both girls still use the makeup, brushes, and nail polish they got to take with them. Landon liked his hair (he's a big hair guy) and really liked the sword and shield he got to take with him (his was like $20 or we wouldn't have done it for him). Overall I'm now really glad we did it. I don't think we'd do it again - it was a special birthday/first visit treat, but the fairy godmothers are amazing and it's a very special experience.

Trading Pins. OMG. I had never heard of these either, but my friend who was going to Disney a month before us told me about them and I'm SO glad she did. I bought lanyards and 10 starter pins for each off an Etsy shop (if you buy resale pins, make sure they're official Disney brand ones or you can't trade them) and gave them to the kids at our trip reveal. Once we got to Disney, this became Landon's obsession. You walk up to almost any Disney employee - anyone wearing a lanyard - and ask to trade pins. You choose which one to give them from your lanyard and then you get to pick any one off their lanyard (or pin board, or sometimes the lanyard of a kid waiting next to you in line). It is so fun and Landon curated a really awesome collection by the end. (I ordered ours from this etsy store.)

Claire also loved pin trading, while Cora couldn't really be bothered (so Landon traded for her). It was the best free activity ever and gave them a really great souvenir to take home at the end. (We ended up letting them pick out one souvenir each at some point along the trip for about $30 each. They loved the autographs and pins so much, and of course there's so much to do and see - they never really asked for or needed to shop more.)

Rides. Disney is great for young kids because almost all the rides have a height requirement of 40". At precisely 4, Cora was 42" and clear to ride just about everything. The only (devastating) exceptions were Space Mountain at MK, Expedition Everest at AK, Test Track at Epcot, and Rock'n Rollercoaster at HS. The rides are pretty smooth, even the intense ones, and I never got even a hint of a headache like I often get from rides that are more jarring (I love the rides, my head just doesn't enjoy being rattled anymore; this wasn't ever a problem at Disney). Cora LOVED them with her whole heart, as did the big kids, and I'm so glad there were more rides than I had pictured in my head before we went. Fast Passes are essential and you should have a planner book them so they'll set them up in a way that makes geographic sense for you. There's also Rider Switch which you can use with Fast Pass to jump the line after your partner goes on the ride while you wait with your devastated 42" child. They let 3 people do it, so you can take your tall kids with you and they have even more reason to think that Disney is the greatest place on earth. (You can also take your toddler child's magic band to scan at the fast pass entrance so you can ride again alone. You also think Disney is the greatest place on earth.)

Tampa. As noted above, we flew out of Tampa on Southwest. It was cheaper and wasn't sold out the way the Orlando flights were, so since we never mind a bit of a drive (just an hour) and the kids have never seen a U.S. beach, we thought we'd head over on our bonus last day. It was so great and I never blogged about it, so here's a few quick pictures. We transferred to an inexpensive Orlando hotel after our last day at Magic Kingdom, slept there that night and enjoyed the free breakfast in the morning, and then arrived in Clearwater Beach around 10 a.m. to play in the sand and get some lunch before our 2:00 dolphin cruise. The sand was great.

The kids of course got in the water, but I of course did not. It was cold. The sand was not.

We had a fabulous lunch at a local taco shop we walked to from the beach.

And then Dolphin Cruise was even better! We saw dolphins! We saw them jump behind our boat! The kids loved it.

It was a pretty great way to end our first family trip to Florida.

Magic. This was such a magical trip you guys. I really thought this would be a pricey hassle for James and me but awesome for the kids and we'd enjoy it through them, but it wasn't. It wasn't a hassle and our enjoyment didn't have to be filtered up through the kids. The whole experience is seamless and special. Little moments - we were getting a water at the Dole Whip stand the first night and Claire said "I really hope we can try that some time!" and I said "I'm sure we will." and we walked away only to have an employee jog behind me, tap my shoulder, and hand me a Dole Whip for Claire so she could try it. When Claire got really sick on our second night, we were incredibly well cared for and then checked up on the next day. The entire park is SPOTLESS. I didn't see a piece of trash on the ground ever. One day I was walking through Magic Kingdom and spied a napkin that had blown out of a trash can, I was about to point it out to James (he'd also noted the cleanliness) before picking it up, when a man in a suit with a walkie talking walked by and bent down to grab it without slowing down and kept on walking. I felt like the employees at every level were genuinely committed to the magic of their employer and I know how cheesy that sounds but it was true.

Our ages were perfect. Having big kids meant we did all the parks and all the rides and embraced longer days than we probably would have attempted without a 10-year-old. Having a toddler meant we met all the princesses and almost believed they were real. Even Landon waited in line to meet Aurora (for the second time) because watching Cora meet a princess (even again) was just the greatest thing.

Oddly enough I honestly don't know that we'd go again. I don't regret a penny, but it was expensive and there are so many other places to see. Part of what was so special was knowing it was new and knowing it was our time to experience it. I think we'll go to Universal and Harry Potter World in 4-5 more years when we have all big kids, and maybe we'd swoop back through some of our Disney favorites, but in general I feel very at peace with our Disney experience. It was wonderful, I loved it, I treasure the pictures and the memories so very very much, but I'm pretty pumped about the trips we have planned for this year and all the other places there are to go.


  1. We have six kids, so even if I go back to lawyering we probably can’t afford a very magical Disney trip, but I loved reading about yours and looked forward to each post! I went as a kid and never really had any strong desire to go back, even after having kids, but it sure does sound magical! My husband is Army, so if we’re ever stationed in Florida again and can take advantage of military discounts (still crazy expensive) and avoid airfare, maybe.... If it happens I will definitely reread his post and get a planner!

    1. Six kids would definitely be a budgetary challenge! I know there is a beautiful military Disney resort that may help (and they have huge rooms with extra beds!) and I was impressed at how little we had to spend once we were actually there (so at least once you’ve set your budget and paid for your tickets, etc you’re not hit with any surprises after; you can have a fabulous trip without a single “extra”), but yeah, it would definitely be an investment! Hopefully it will work out to go together, but I will say for your kids that I went for the first time as an adult and it was just as magical. So if your kids end up waiting until they can bring their own, that will be awesome too!

  2. I loved these recaps! If you only think you'll be to Universal once, I'd lean more toward 5 years than 4. The theming is great and the thrill rides are AMAZING, but there are several that are more intense than Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.

    1. Good to know! In 5 years we’ll be 15, 12, and 9 (ahhhhh), so that might be a good spread!

  3. I'm so glad you all ended up having such a good time and not just the kids! Putting a plug in here for Florida's west coast (I live in St Pete) but if you do come back to do universal I would highly recommend splitting up the trip and doing half theme parks, half beach. The west coast of Florida has some of the countries best beaches, amazing state parks, and overall just a ton to do! Universal isn't as big as Disney so it's easier to see it in a shorter amount of time and then go do some non-theme park fun.

    1. Excellent - we loved Clearwater (Cora in particular is our beach baby) and while I loved our Disney deep dive, it would be fun to split things up more the next time around!

  4. You guys didn't complain about walking because of how fit you are. By the second day I had blisters on my feet and I was exhausted! (Yes I am out of shape.)

  5. If you go back to do Universal, here's a big plug for Kennedy Space Center. My younger one was fine at age 6-- he really seemed to "get it" especially when it involved animation or a real astronaut. Olcer son was 11 and into science like Landon-- it sparked an interest that lasted through several science-related social studies projects (Hubble Telescope, Thomas Edison etc.)and his interest continues. That's what we did on one non-Disney day, and repeated on our second trip 5 years later! My parents gifted us tne first trip, and we split the second. It was nearly as much fun watching them watch tne kids'reactions to the surprises around every turn at Disney. On our second trip, they got to go on one of those fan-boats to see tne alligators in the swamp. Very cool. I only saw alligators on our first trip,as tney were enjoying tne chlorinated reflecting Kennedy!

    My son and his SO are saving up for their own trip now!

    1. I went to Disney as a kid and it was fine but my indelible memory of that trip was seeing a shuttle blasting off at Kennedy Space Center. (Also fighting with my brother over the radio on the 2-day car ride down from NY!)

    2. I grew up going to the NASA space center in Houston and LOVED it. The Kennedy Space Center is definitely on our list!

  6. Thanks! We're looking at Disney either this summer or next. My daughter (Cora :) will be 5 in you think this year or next year will be better?

    1. I think just-turned 5 would be amazing! I mean, 7 and 10 were also amazing, but to Cora it was all REAL and we lived through her for the entirety of the trip. By five she'd also be able to ride all except the tallest rides (and it be years before she'd be tall enough for those anyway). Waiting until she's 6 would be great too. It's really just when you want to pull the trigger.

      The only thing I'd say with timing is to make sure you're really set on summer. From what I've heard it's SUPER hot and humid and crowded. The magic will find you regardless, but if you can swing a summer or fall visit, it's just all the more comfortable. I felt very lucky to be there in November!

    2. I wish we could go another time. Alas, I'm a HS teacher and am married to school breaks. My husband drives a snow plow for our municipality and is contractually bound not to take vacation between mid October and mid April. I think we're heading to Aruba for spring break next year (H's aunt has a house there!), so that leaves summer.

  7. I'm not sure we'll ever do Disney but I have loved reading these recaps! I've never been to Disney in my life and my husband has only been once - I would love to take my kids but it's just so much $$$ and I can't seem to justify it, despite how magical it sounds. Our "big" trip this year is a road trip from Minnesota to Mount Rushmore (with stops at several Laura Ingalls Wilder sites along the way) so that is the level we're working at right now! :-P

    I am fully and 100% obsessed with Harry Potter so we WILL at some point do Wizarding World but I need to wait until my kids are old enough. We've got a 5.5 year spread (oldest just turned 8 and is reading HP 3, youngest is 2.5) so it'll be awhile! It'll take us that long to save up so it's probably a good thing we have awhile before they'll all be ready for it.

    1. What are these Laura Ingalls Wilder sites?? I LOVED those books and Claire is reading them now. You know we love a road trip.

      I am also 100% obsessed with Harry Potter and cannot wait to do the Wizarding World. I'm thinking when Cora is about 10, which somehow means L&C will be 13 and 16. He will be DRIVING. I'll need Harry Potter World to remind me that he's still a little bit of a kid by then.

    2. Oh you could do an entire Laura Ingalls Wilder roadtrip through the midwest - SO many spots to stop - this website has them all:

      The ones we'll hit up because they are in between Minneapolis and Mount Rushmore are Walnut Grove, MN (I've been there already several times because my Grandma lived about 10 miles away) and De Smet, SD.

      Also! Thanks for the rec of the Let's Play School set from Lakeshore Learning - my daughter got that for her birthday and she is currently downstairs teaching her 2 brothers the importance of kindness and sharing :-P I'm sure it'll sink in!!

  8. Her little "you're so beautiful" was precious!

    1. Right? Every princess meeting was just the best, every time.