Saturday, September 6, 2014

To Boston, To Boston

(Heading home via Tampa International Airport)

And just like that our amazing adventure had come to an end. The girls were thrilled to be able to wear their princess dresses on the flight home (so much easier than trying to pack them) and we were happy to meet some lovely people on the plane. We had a wonderful time on our trip but goodness, was it fabulous to be back in New England where the weather was cooler!

We learned so much on this, our first Disney trip with littles. So many of our friends with littles the girls ages or younger who have not been to Disney yet have asked us to share what we learned. Here are our take aways from this grand adventure:

1.  If possible go when your youngest child is able to remember this trip for themselves (so about five years old). I was a tough sell on this trip as my first time there was on our honeymoon. We knew coming home after that trip (where we saw loads of little ones in strollers) that whoever was our youngest child (and back then I still thought we'd be having four kids) had to be old enough to remember it for themselves, and not just because they've seen pictures or heard other family members tell stories about it. We are both so glad that we waited to take them (eight and six-and-a-half really was perfect). It will truly be a trip that is talked about by all of us for years to come!

2.  Connect with a Disney travel specialist. Our friend Lori over at TMC Travel-The Mouse Connection is fabulous and I am so glad that we had the inside track on things. If it wasn't for being connected with her we would not have known about the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package and that would have been a total bummer.

3.  Stay on property. We have a timeshare down there, as do Dave's parents, so we felt that it made sense to stay there. In reality staying on Disney property would have made way more sense and probably saved us loads of money too. We wouldn't have had to rent a car and we wouldn't have found ourselves having a strange buffet of the food we didn't eat on the day we were checking out since we always stayed at the park for lunch (or dinner, or both) more often than not. For those that stay on property there are Extra Magic Hours for after the parks close to the general public. Had we stayed on property rather than off we wouldn't have had to get up early (something that the girls are really not used to doing) and we could have gone back and forth to the room via the monorail as needed. We have already said that next time we go it must be with the agreement that we stay on property.

4. FastPasses. Staying on property also allows you to FastPass the things that you must do sooner (60 days prior in most cases) than those who stay off property (30 days prior). We were not able to secure a FastPass to see Elsa and Anna (thank goodness for the kind soul who hooked us up otherwise there was just no way) since we were off property and by the 30 day mark all FastPasses to see them were taken.

5. Consider a Meal Plan. We didn't and we probably should have. The food at the Disney parks is really good and there's a great variety-many of which are healthy options. We had originally planned to head back for lunch each day (and had bought food to eat the condo because of that). In reality we only had lunch at our resort like once.

6.  Buy the Memory Maker package. At $149 I didn't look at this package at all but goodness do I wish I had (especially since if you buy it at the parks the price is $199)! Those who buy the Memory Maker package are able to get all the pictures taken of them in the parks. If you don't buy the package and you want the pictures you have to pay for each picture you want. If you stop at one of the Disney photogs they even have some cool effects that they can do. Want a photo of your child holding Tinkerbell in their hands? The Disney photogs can make that happen for you! This package is definitely a good buy and one to factor into your budget.

7.  If you have little girls budget a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique into your planning (it should be noted that there are options for little boys at the boutique too). Do know that you can purchase princess dresses at the boutique (and sometimes the dress styles are different than what is offered in the parks). There are two locations: one in Cinderella's Castle and one in Downtown Disney. Call early if you want to take your littles to the location in the Castle. The packages are pricey but you get a lot of bang for your buck. The kids get to take home whatever was used during their make-over (make up, nail polish, hair brushes etc) in addition to things like their tiaras, barrettes and sashes. The fake hair is indeed just that, fake. We suggest steering the kids toward the option with the bun. That sucker lasts for days! If you go and you have a princess dress already be sure that it's on her before she gets in the chair. It will make your life easier if you do! Trust me on this one.

8.  Wearing princess dresses at Disney as a little girl is just plain fun! Seeing them in their princess dresses and watching as each Disney Cast Member acknowledged them as such ("Hello Queen Elsa! Hello Princess Anna!") and curtsied or bowed as the girls passed by in their royal attire is just amazing. Be sure to bring dresses with you, or buy them when you are there, it really is totally worth it! The same holds true for boys. We saw one boy that came dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and all the Cast Members that he passed by did not miss a beat! 

9.  Consider having at least one total resort day. Our mid-week pool day was perfect and much needed! We didn't spend nearly enough time at the pool (outside of that one day). I do believe that had we stayed on property we would have actually scored much more pool time too.

10. Make sure that you build in downtime for your littles (and yourselves). If you have littles that still nap head back to your room for their naps. And if you have littles who are used to mid-day quiet time head back for that too. It will be beneficial to all involved to have that downtime and then they'll be ready to go back for more. Try to stick to your normal family rhythm of as much as possible. It makes each day go so much better and it makes the return to home much easier too.

11.  Don't feel like you need to be at a fireworks show every night. We saw the Frozen fireworks (as part of our premium package) and then returned at the end of the week for the Electrical Light Parade (we did not stay around for the Magic Kingdom fireworks after). I think if we had done any more than that it would have been too much for all of us.

12. Choose a couple of parks and focus on those. The girls really loved Epcot, and Hollywood Studios was loved simply because of the Frozen Summer Fun day. I think they enjoyed Magic Kingdom but honestly after the awesomeness of the Frozen day everything else kinda paled in comparison. I'm glad that we didn't try to fit Animal Kingdom or one of the water parks in to this week as well.

13.  Keep in mind that tickets now expire fourteen days after first use. That is unless you purchase the No Expiration option. They will still honor unused days from years ago though so if you have tickets from back in the day do bring them with you.

14. Be prepared to be choked up watching your kids experience Disney and all the magic that comes with being there. On the Frozen day alone there were like four distinct times were I was choked up or in tears watching the girls. It was something that I was not at all ready for! The magic of Disney really is incredible! There is a reason that they are the best of the best in this field and it's beyond obvious when you are at the parks. Love is in the details and that certainly holds true when it comes to Disney!

Thank you to all who had a hand in making this trip to Disney simply magical! 

Thanks also to all of you who have been reading about this wonderful adventure. We hope you enjoyed these posts! It was fun to relive them and share these experiences with all of you, though I must admit I'm looking forward to returning to sharing only one blogpost each day!  xo

1 comment:

  1. Great tips!! I have always said I want to go when both girls can remember. They are 4 and 6 now so I think we will be making a trip in the upcoming years. I'm so glad they have a meal plan. That wasn't an option years ago. I love how the characters acknowledge the kids in costume. So awesome!!!