Disney travelogue part 1: How to do almost all of magic kingdom with a toddler and infant by 1pm
With the NYC winter taking a toll on us (the coats..the layers..the runny noses) we had the chance to take long weekend down to Orlando for some r&r. Sun, pool, and a dose of Mickey? Yes, yes and sure, why not?
Traveling lighter (than usual). We love to travel light. Less stuff = less travel stress. Knowing we'd have to have car seats in our car rental and Trying to travel lighter we skipped strollers altogether. Instead we rented a stroller from magic kingdom strollers for the entire length of our stay. Renting was soooo worth the extra expense (about $80 total for 4 days). They deliver and pick up from our hotel. And it beats the plastic Tupperware you rent at the Disney parks (why they call those "strollers- I have no idea).
Magic Kingdom empty // the double stroller // do you see the lack of people??
Sidebar renting was a good chance for me to test out a city mini double. i did like the ease of not only getting the girls in it but envied the quick breakdown of the stroller. Being used to the uppababy, it felt wide and bulky despite having no trouble getting through doorways and weaving through crowds. I love our uppababy even though it's an older model so I doubt we'd switch but if ever renting, im a fan of the city mini double.
Beat the crowd: stay at a Disney resort so that you can be take advantage of early magic hours OR if you're not at a Disney hotel like us, book a breakfast meal in the park before opening hours.
If you ever stalk blog posts about Disney, you'll read a lot of hype about the Be our Guest restaurant in belle's castle. Apparently reservations are just as hard to score as one in Rao's but if you really have to try it and can do without a character visit - try booking a breakfast reservation. I was able to make one a day before we hit the park. It was at 8:10am ( park opens at 9). Though we hit some marathon traffic en route to the park, we were able to get to the front gates at about 815. You show the designated gate attendant (far right turnstile near the newsstand) your confirmation but they should also have your name on a list/ipad. you get the ok and you're off!
On the DUMBO ride for like the 3rd time
It's so weird to be in the park sans massive crowds but also VIP-like. you can take unobstructed family photos or selfies without 50 heads unsuspectingly photobombing your pic. You also notice the small details in the staging and imagineering that are the hallmark to a Disney theme park. Breakfast review: well, it's Disney. You didn't really come here for fine dining did you? I had the open faced bacon and egg sandwich and it was decent. Hubby had the croque Madame (ehh) and winter, the yogurt breakfast crepes. You preorder your meal as you enter and it's open seating. The servers come around with pre-filled carts and dole out your order based on your receipt.
Seating tip: there are 3 rooms to eat in: the main hall, the west hall (?) with the live enchanted rose complete with wilting petals and dark stormy exterior/sound effects (scared winter- she hightailed it outta here at the first sound of thunder) and another dining room that has a statue of belle and beast dancing. Pick one of the latter two rooms to soak up the ambiance - the main hall feels very cafeteria-like. We ate quickly and was out the door by 850 and saw the rides were already running so jetted to fantasyland to go ride Winnie the Pooh.
Riding her first rollercoaster - 5 times in a row.
Ride and ride as much as you can! Again based on online pre-park research and from our previous Disney trip, it's imperative to fast pass popular rides. But with the park being so empty we just ended up walking right up to the front of the line with no need to use the fast pass. So as long as we didn't check in I could change the fast pass selection.
I used my first fast pass around noon for the haunted mansion. Walking out of belles castle we did the following rides in about 3 hours: Winnie the Pooh, mad tea cups, dumbo (3x), barn buster (3x), pictures with Minnie/goofy/daisy and Donald, little mermaid, tomorrow land speedway, buzz light year, It's a small world, and haunted mansion (fast pass).
I love this face - she's singing the "it's a small world" theme song
At this point it was 12:30 and we were in the arena of the girls' usual naptime and rather than weather it out in the park, I made the mom-decision to head back to the hotel where we could eat lunch, relax by the pool and nap in peace. Best move ever.
Last stop before leaving the park: the main street dance party
We not only got in some quality food, rest, and even POOL time, but we were recharged to head BACK to the park to catch the 8pm night parade, the wishes show and fireworks AND hit a few more rides in the last hour - pirates of the Caribbean, jungle cruise, and Aladdin's magic carpet ride, which was hilariously scary when you hand over the "up-and-down!" controls to a 2 year old. There were a few rides we didn't hit that she could have ridden or shows she could have seen (Peter Pan, carousel, philharmonic, etc) but why rush it. We hope to be back soon (so close to grandpa's house!) so there's something new to look forward to.
All in all, a totally magical day. We took winter here when she was just shy of her 1 yr birthday. And although the sensory overload kept that look of childish wonder and curiousity on her 10month old face, this time, there was the added edge of excitement and familiarity (mommy, look goofy!!) that was so infectious to us that I just keep looking forward to bringing that feeling over and over again