I explained how, right now, Disney is actually a cheap trip for us in this post! This trip we did actually stay for free in our timeshare which worked out great. We did a two bedroom unit and used the extra bathroom for Tess's pack and play. She's in a big girl bed but will still travel in the pack and play for now (which I'm super thankful for as it makes travel SO much easier).
We headed out on Thursday March 2nd. We checked Kye out of school late enough that he'd still be counted as present for the day ;) You gotta work the system with how strict they are about attendance!
We made great time and checked in quickly to our condo. The kids LOVE the unpacking and settling in process. I'm a person who likes to fully unpack. Even for just a short stay somewhere. I like to get everything unpacked as soon as we arrive (clothes in drawers, food in cabinets, everything!) and the kids are catching onto my routine. When we go to Disney we have a tradition of loading up ALL of their Disney friends. We use trash bags and the kids LOVE getting to sleep with them on all our trip!
Poor Tessie felt super left out when the big kids were setting up their room. She declared that the master bed was "her bed" and set up a bunch of Disney friends all on "her bed."
I try to make every birthday for my kids special. I know that just getting to GO to Disney is a special birthday but, of course, I like to make the event extra-special for them. For Britt's recent birthday she was combined with Tess's first visit so it was a MEGA birthday trip. Typically though we keep birthday celebration trips very short (1 park day and 1 fun "special" experience). Kye's park day was Hollywood Studios (hello Star Wars!) and his special experience was Mickey's Backyard BBQ. Not only do I like to do something special for birthdays...I also have this desire to try a different Disney experience every time we visit if possible. We'd never done Mickey's Backyard BBQ and when I saw they had all-you-can-eat ribs? I knew it was the PERFECT birthday surprise for our rib lover!
We told the kids while on the way to dinner. Kye doesn't love surprises haha he prefers anticipation. And it was SO cute seeing his face light up when I told him it was a buffet of ribs haha it was a reminder to me just how well I know my children and what they will love and what will make them feel special. Kye's future wife take note: food is the way to his heart ;)
Mickey's Backyard BBQ is a dining experience located at Fort Wilderness Resort. You must book (and pay!) in advance. You can pay using Disney Giftcards though which saves some money! It is a per head charge and kids under 3 are free. I booked at 180 days out BUT saw that the day of our reservation there were still spots available. I'm not sure if it's always pretty available or not. We also went at a low crowd time so maybe during more crowded seasons you'd need to book earlier! You can learn more about it here!
You want to leave in PLENTY of time. Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds are MASSIVE and require bus transportation. The stop for Mickey's Backyard BBQ is super far from the parking lot so you want to be sure to have tons of time to get there. I'm a person who gets NERVOUS about timing with Disney related events. I like to be there well before the doors are set to open ;)
When we arrived I realized I'd forgotten Kye's birthday pin at home. #momfail. I ran into the check-in area of the resort when we arrived and luckily they had some on hand! Most of the resorts (if not all of them) do keep buttons at check-in counters. You can also get them at any guest service area and they are usually on wagons at the front of the parks when they open as well. You can't have a Disney Birthday without a button!
On our way!
Bus seating got everyone excited haha!
I had read to get to Mickey's Backyard BBQ well before showtime b/c the doors open early and you want a good seat. None of this is true. Seating does not matter. And if you need a high chair you'll be seated on one of the ends of the tables anyway so it also doesn't matter. And yes, I said "you will be seated." Because once the doors open they usher families in by groupings and assign you seating anyway. We were there in PLENTY of time and were thankful it was so pretty out because we had a rather long time before we were allowed in. I'm not saying I'd risk getting there right at your showtime, but I also won't stress getting there as early next time.
Tess LOVED walking around and climbing on all the rocks and of course Britt joined in ;)
They have photo pass cast members at the entrance of the dining and at both character meeting lines! As an annual pass holder we get free photos which is so awesome! I can enjoy being IN the moment rather than worrying about capturing it ;)
Being a backyard bbq you know I had to get us some themed outfits! Zach and I have talked a lot about ways to cut back on spending and I know not everyone appreciates a well themed Disney outfit...but I LOVE it. I told him I'd rather use the money we save for our kids school clothes on Disney clothes and then they can just wear those clothes to school too ;) I'm planning to have them all wear these outfits for Easter! (they are all from Kohls and are by Carters)
I love this!
Once inside we hit the buffet line to grab all of our food. Next time...we will probably wait to eat and instead see about lining up to meet characters. The food is available ALL night and there is NO rush. I think eating right when we got there made it tough for the kids to focus on eating b/c once the festivities started they wanted to go DANCE. The food is all you can eat and is super family friendly. Hot dogs, bbq, RIBS, corn on the cobb and mac and cheese. Plus unlimited ice cream (Sadly for me they did not have the Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwiches I love...and I wasn't the only adult I saw at the ice cream carts who was disappointed by that discovery haha) and drinks! It's all picnic table seating and is very, very casual. It's outdoors but in a large covered area so even if it did rain you'd be totally dry with no issues (except going to the bathrooms which aren't attached to the covered area).
Ready to get our groove on!
I get pretty crunk for characters haha
Told you this kid loves him some RIBS!
He did say they weren't as good as Daddy's though ;)
They had some stage show entertainment as well as times of dancing with the characters. It was all live music, very country styled. Some of the lyrics weren't our fav but it wasn't anything crazy inappropriate (if you've ever done the Incredibles Dance Party then you'll know that Disney isn't always super careful with their musical choices!). We didn't actually go sit up front to watch the stage shows as we were more interested in the dancing so we used those breaks to eat. BUT again...next time we'll be more strategic and try to be in line for character meetings rather than spending time eating right away!
The characters are Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Chip and Dale! They all come out and dance but it's smart to prep your kids in advance: it's DANCING TIME only. No hugs. No touching of the characters. No photos. No autographs. Just dancing! Britt didn't catch onto this very quickly and took a LOT of reminding from both myself and cast members about it. She wasn't alone as it seemed like most kids couldn't resist hugs. It's def something I'll better prep my kids with in the future!
Videos of dancing:
- Girls dancing with Minnie (and the lots of touching haha)
- Girls dancing with Mickey
- Kye breaking it down
- Goofy dancing with the girls (and he grabbed Britt's hand which broke the whole "don't touch the characters" thing!)
Kye was KILLING me with the dabbing! Thank you public school education haha! This video cracks me up :)
I didn't get a lot of dancing pics b/c it was mostly me solo with all three kids on the dance floor. I will say even if it's cool outside wear layers b/c I was working up quite the sweat chasing after them all AND dancing some myself ;) Especially because Tess didn't want to venture on her own much so I ended up holding her and dancing with her in my arms! Dancing isn't Zach's thing but the rest of us LOVED IT. Kye is very into dancing at school (it's like what they do at PE?) and he really enjoyed it. I think he'll continue to think this kinda thing is fun for at least a couple more years!
I also wish I'd known about the lines for characters. I'm not a huge fan of this. Of course you want to meet the characters as that's part of the cost you pay for the meal! But I wish they had a better system for meeting them. Like have table numbers and that's your spot in line or something. Because it was pretty crazy how long we had to wait for Minnie and Mickey. I was thankful Zach was with us as he stood in the line while we danced. Characters would dance on the dance floor then take meet and greet breaks. Again, I'd recommend hopping in those lines early on in the night to get that part over so you can just eat and dance without worrying about it! The line was tough on Tess and took away from her enjoyment of the event for sure. Zach also cannot stand lines and having to wait was annoying for him. Disney is SO well organized with SO many things I don't really get why there isn't a better system for something like this! I love the casual vibe of the event but the need for organization with character meetings is def something they should look into!
They make special announcements of anything and everything you may be celebrating...they did Kye's birthday announcement while we were in line for Mickey and Minnie! You can see it here!
Where is Tess? Can you spot her? Crying kids get strategically hidden haha
We danced some more and Zach got to his ready-to-go-point. Tess was tired and fussy and it was a LOT of stimulation. Zach doesn't like dancing or live music. So he didn't last too long either. The big kids and I could have kept on going but we did have a big park day the next day! Zach took Tess potty and we hopped in line for Chip, Dale and Goofy. Thankfully this was a MUCH quicker line than Minnie and Mickey. IF we had the time I'd recommend either a) meeting characters BEFORE eating or b) staying late and meeting characters towards the end of the night. I'm not sure how long the event lasted as a whole? Our start time was 5:30 and we were done by 7 but the party was still going strong when we left!
Chip and Dale are always such FUN characters to interact with!
Britt's pose game haha
Tess wanted to meet Goofy, even with the tears in her eyes ;)
Goofy ALWAYS loves Zach. 90 percent of the time Goofy ASKS for a photo with Zach b/c of their height similarities!
Overall we all agreed we had a BLAST at this event! I think Tess was a little young for it and I can see us wanting to do it again in a year or so. That way Kye won't be "too old" yet for it and Tess will be old enough to enjoy it more. The food was really good and the character interactions were awesome. Getting to dance with them like that was really something the kids will always remember! Zach may not like live music, or lines, or dancing but he even said he enjoyed it and would do it again and thought it was worth the price tag! He and I are both big about being "in the know" and now that we know so much about the event, we know we'd enjoy it even MORE a second time around. This was the fussiest Tess was our entire trip and if I had to pick a time for her to be fussy I would have picked this over the park days. Kye LOVED the entire thing from start to finish (the unlimited food, drink, and ice cream helped haha) and it was a great birthday celebration event for him!!!
Everyone was sleepy on the bus ride back!
We got the kids in the bed plenty early and got to have some How I Met Your Mother time together before we went to sleep early too!
Mickey's Backyard BBQ is officially on our list of things we'd like to do again at Disney World! If your family hasn't ever had the experience then it's something I'd for sure recommend and think it makes a wonderful celebration event. If you have done it before...are there any other tips you can offer to make it an even better experience for us in the future? It was the perfect kick-off to what ended up being one of our FAVORITE Disney trips of all time!