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Now that we have our rental house at Disney we have shifted from parties for the kids to Disney birthday celebrations. Tess was the first one to celebrate her birthday at Disney with our new “format” and it went so well so Britt has been super excited for her turn!
This year we also decided to make a change in the way we celebrate Thanksgiving. When Zach and I got married we discussed holidays and made that tough decision on where we’d celebrate each holiday and with what family etc. In the decision making we decided to do every Christmas with his family, alternate Easter’s between our two families and have Thanksgiving every year with my family. When things changed with my family situation we just naturally did every holiday with Zach’s family. We still made things special for Thanksgiving and always have done ice cream for dinner as our celebration.
In purchasing the Disney house we talked it over and both loved the idea of celebrating Thanksgiving each year at our second home and making it a new tradition. So we made it happen and it made celebrating Britt’s birthday (and will make celebrating Spear’s once that time comes as well) easier having the entire week of break and the kids didn’t have to miss school in order to have the days at Disney since we were able to be there for so much longer!
We all embraced this shift in traditions and still kept some things the same (as you’ll see in upcoming posts). When starting a new tradition I like to think up any other new things we may want to add. Kye and Zach LOVE doing puzzles and I can’t STAND them sitting out on the dining room table unfinished. So why not make it a Thanksgiving week tradition to work on a puzzle together as a family throughout our stay at Disney? I thought it’d also be fun to buy Disney puzzles to put together a different one each year and possibly even frame them to display somewhere in the Disney house if it works out. I also bought this awesome puzzle mat that allows you to roll up the puzzle for storage when you want your table cleaned off 😉
The week of Thanksgiving at Disney is one of THE most crowded weeks at the parks for the entire year. We did discuss in the future having the kids miss a couple days the week after Thanksgiving and extending the trip a bit to be able to truly enjoy the parks because during Thanksgiving week it’s just a mad house!
Due to the large crowds we didn’t split a single day for Britt’s solo birthday at the parks with Mommy and Daddy…instead we split the visits into two separate mornings. Mornings are the best time to hit the parks when it’s crowded so it made it more manageable to divide up her solo days that way. And she didn’t mind it one bit!
Whoop whoop that VIP entrance BABY!
We haven’t been to Disney at Christmas time as a family in a couple years (last year I got to go…with Spear solo!) and I’m always just in awe at how beautifully the parks are decorated at Christmas time. My FAVORITE Disney is just plain Disney…but Christmas is a close second (my least favorite is Halloween decorations).
We were allowed into the park an hour before park opening which gave us time to soak in the beauty of Main Street USA. We also had skipped breakfast in plans of having a special breakfast at the park…but this is an area where Disney needs to step it up. Unless you grab a treat at Jeoffrey’s at the ticketing area before riding the monorail…you’re pretty much out of luck on Main Street before park opening in regards to breakfast options. Starbucks had an INSANE line and really not great breakfast options. We struggled a bit to find something!
We ended up in the candy shop and Britt got a chocolate s’more bar for breakfast…along with a cookie. She enjoyed the treats but agreed that we learned a lesson with that decision to skip breakfast! Not doing that again! It was SO NICE having just time to enjoy Main Street. It’s an area we so often rush right through. We sat down in a little area with no traffic and had time to really look in the windows and appreciate all the little Disney details that can be missed when racing to a ride!
We also had time to knock out our castle pics for the morning!
Both of our shirts are from Ali Express (order UP big time…mine is an XL and Britt’s is a 7T) as are our “ears” which are actually infant headbands we made into hair ties instead. My skirt is Old Navy.
This is the most magical picture EVER. The photo pass photographer was SO awesome to do this for us! He timed it just right for when the fireworks went off to open the park. I adore this!!!
Our first ride of the morning was Buzz Lightyear. Britt loved getting that quality alone time together and I loved it too!
Britt and I were both bummed that we missed Mickey’s 90th Birthday celebration by only 2 days! We lucked out and got handed several of the celebration stickers though which was awesome!
We headed over to Fantasyland and walked right up to NO LINE to meet Alice but Britt didn’t want to so we kept on going and passed by the step sisters also on our way to Philharmagic!
It’s a small world was SO FUN. Every time I ride it I look and look for hidden mickeys b/c I’ve never found one. I was talking to Britt about my personal mission while on the ride and she pointed and said “there’s a hidden mickey right there!” I assumed she was talking about the kind of hidden mickeys she often finds…basically just three circles or even something resembling a circle. But sure enough it was a legit hidden mickey!
If you’re looking for it…it’s in the Africa area by the giraffes. There are several hanging from the ceiling like a vine!
Favorite bathroom 🙂
Britt chose Magic Kingdom as her park to visit on her solo morning with me because she loves to meet characters and there are many of them to meet at MK. Plus, duh, it’s just the most magical park 😉
We walked up about 10 min before Mary Poppins was due to arrive at her meet and greet spot (an area I’ve NEVER been…it’s in Liberty Square in the gazebo). There was only one person in front of us to meet her and only one person came after us too. Such an easy meet and greet which I’m just not used to. I always avoid meeting characters that don’t have a fast pass because I don’t want to wait in line forever but after this experience it’s def something we’ll do again in the future! Mary Poppins is SO prim and proper..I mean I love her but she’s not the most “get crunk” character to meet 😉
More castle pics…because we both agree you can never have too many 🙂
We had plans to meet Jack Sparrow but Britt decided instead that she wanted to watch the Mickey’s Friendship Fare stage show. Which I’m all about a good show! We got as close as we possibly could and had a little snack while we waited for it to start!
Messiest. Eater. Ever.
Britt is so expressive and it’s so fun to do things for her because she has THE best reactions. Pure joy on her face! It’s really, really fun having Britt at the parks because she has similar Disney tastes to me and she just LOVES it in the same way I do. We have that Disney magic 😉
Yay for being so close and seeing some of our favorite characters during Mickey’s Friendship Fare!
In true Emily-luck fashion it started DOWNPOUR raining during the stage show. Which I feel like might be my “solo birthday” luck since Tess’s day with me was completely rain covered the entire time! The show got canceled and Britt was pretty upset. I hadn’t ever thought about it before but Britt pointed out we’ve never watched the entire show of Friendship Fare.
She was very disappointed not to get to see the entire thing but we talked about it and I explained to her that it’s a GOOD thing to have something you really, really want to do in the future as it gives us something to look forward to and be excited about. It’s her Disney mission to see the full show and we’ll for sure make that happen!
With the rain we headed over to Tomorrowland to ride People Mover. It’s become quite the Parker family favorite!
We had a fastpass for Winnie The Pooh but it was shut down and we ended up not using the extra fastpass. We also had one for Ariel…both the ride and the meet and greet. My girls LOVE the Ariel ride so I wasn’t surprised that it was on Britt’s list!
We had time between the ride and meet and greet and our original plans were to meet Peter Pan. But the rain through off our timing and by then it was past the start of his meet and greet time so I knew the line would be long and by then it was also filling up with the crowd level and Peter Pan was a good walk away from Ariel…so we opted to go meet Daisy and Minnie instead!
Britt cracks me up with her kissing. She is ALL about kissing all the characters!
We saw a LOT of kids pitching fits during our morning. It made me so thankful for how awesome our kids are at the parks. I also think a lot of it has to do with the planning and the ability for them to get good quality sleep on our Disney trips! And it just bugs me when parents pressure their kids. If they are crying…don’t push ’em. Like why wait in a line with a crying kid to have a crying kid on a ride the whole time? Makes zero sense to me! A little girl was crying while waiting to meet Ariel and I just kept thinking “this won’t even be a happy memory OR a picture anyone will enjoy later on.” It’s easy at Disney to get wrapped up in the “must do list” and forget that the purpose is JOY and FUN together. It’s okay if you miss something! Better to miss something and all be HAPPY and ENJOY the trip!
We had fun in the lines for the meet and greets thinking up what we were going to say to the characters. Britt planned to ask Ariel where Flounder was 🙂 Ariel was so chatty and sweet and fun! Gotta practice fish faces too!
I love all the fun Disney walls at the parks! Disney always does such a great job of balancing tradition and keeping up with current trends. Everyone loves a good Instagram wall and Disney has capitalized on that!
“Show Some Sass!”
For lunch I got us reservations at Tony’s which has been my favorite restaurant spot. It’s also such a great location close to the exit so it’s a good spot to eat before heading out!
They had Lady and the Tramp playing which ended up being the perfect timing as we waited to be seated because it just so happened to the be scene at Tony’s so Britt fully appreciated where we were eating 🙂
I have always LOVED the shrimp pasta. Last time I ate there they had changed it but I still enjoyed it…this time they changed it again. And it was a fail. Our server just wasn’t all that great in helping me order and it was a very disappointing dish. I don’t think Tony’s is my favorite anymore 🙁
At least we got another Mickey birthday sticker!
Britt enjoyed her pizza and even got a both ice cream AND a birthday dessert!
If you ever eat at Tony’s be sure to ask your server for Lady and Tramp’s autograph. Britt LOVED having this. It was a highlight of her morning!
I loved seeing some of the Mickey’s birthday celebration!
Before we left we had a fast pass to meet Tinkerbelle! She was also super friendly and chatty and right away told Britt that she is a “winter fairy” because her “arrival day” (birthday) is in December. Literally y’all. That little bit of conversation really stuck with Britt and is something she’s continually talked about and shared with others. Disney characters bring the magic for kids!
I will also add I was nervous about this particular meet and greet as I have heard that Disney is swapping out photopass photographers at certain meet and greet locations and instead having an automated camera computer system that takes your photos. I was so thankful to see a photographer in the room and really, really hope Disney doesn’t decide to go through with that change. How will an automatic camera truly capture the moments?!?!
Our original plans for the trip were to come back from Magic Kingdom and get some rest then all wear our Star Wars pjs and go to Hollywood Studios to see the fireworks that night.
Y’all. I couldn’t believe it was happening but I felt awful. AGAIN. I had just been sick the month prior at Disney and I was NOT going to let the crud ruin our week. I knew I just needed the rest that night. Knowing Zach was taking Britt to Epcot for his solo time with her the next morning meant I could get some solid night sleep. Zach ran and got pizza and picked me up lots of over the counter meds and we opted for a family movie night instead of hitting the parks!
The kids also just LOVE having the pool at the Disney house. It’s heated so they were perfectly content swimming!
Zach got me some meds but I wanted to REALLY knock the crud out so I ran back up to the store and got more haha!
Yay for PIZZA!
There are so many Disney movies that I either haven’t seen or barely remember watching. Robin Hood falls into that category. I truly don’t think I’ve ever seen it! And we all LOVED it! Super, super cute and great for kids who tend to get scared. Tess is in a bit of an easily spooked stage and it was perfect for her!
The next morning Zach and Britt got ready for their time at Epcot and I had big plans of staying in PJS and resting!
Well. When they loaded up in the van…it wouldn’t start. At all.
We thought pretty quick on our feet and it made me SO THANKFUL we bought the house in Emerald Island because it is a gated community with security. We called the gate and they were able to come give us a jump.
We also called an Uber for Zach and Britt. I wasn’t about to let the car trouble cause Britt not to have her special Daddy time for her birthday!
I literally fed the other three kids AND got myself dressed halfway decently AND got us out the door within 15 min. All while feeling miserable! We got to Auto Zone and sure enough…dead battery.
I’m super thankful it happened on the morning it did! Zach and Britt still made it to Epcot in plenty of time for park opening (also thankful we always head to the parks super early…you just never know what’s going to happen!). I’m also so glad we decided for them to Uber and for me to take the remaining kids to get the battery because it took a hot minute to drive there, get the new battery, and get back and it would have really ruined their morning if they had tried to do it all before heading to Epcot!
Life is always an adventure!
Yes. Britt had to ride without any sort of car seat or booster. Not. Ideal. But thankfully the house is only 3 miles from the parks so it wasn’t a long ride and it def was a no other choice type situation!
Britt chose Epcot with Zach for their special morning together because she LOVES Test Track. She also LOVES Soarin’ so those two were top of their list of “must do” items. They had a super special and fun time together!
Test Track is her current favorite ride!
They also rode Mission Space for the first time ever and LOVED it!
I love that they are incorporating more play areas in the parks. It’s so nice with small kids to just let them play somewhere while older kids take on the thrill rides!
Fastpasses for Epcot are tricky with the tiered options. They got to the park at opening to run to Test Track. Then I got them fast passes for Nemo, Spaceship Earth and Soarin’!
We all love the “Donald Duck” ride!
Britt was ALL about the Christmas decor around the parks that week. She LOVES that her birthday is in December and close to Christmas and really it does make it extra special getting to have your Disney birthday be when the parks are decorated so beautifully!
For lunch they ate at Zach’s favorite – Napoli in Italy! They also had THE cutest little window spot to sit. Zach got chicken parmesan for a change (as we’d just had pizza for dinner) and said it was super good. Britt had pizza. Again. She ate pizza for lunch the day prior with me, pizza for dinner that night, and pizza again for lunch with Zach. Pizza overload!
They got to make their own Coco characters!
I really, really love our new birthday celebration tradition of the birthday child having one on one time with each parent at the parks. It really gives the birthday child such great quality time and they get to choose what they do. With so many kids in our family they are always having to compromise and it’s nice to just let them make all the choices for a change!
Zach and Britt had a great time, beautiful weather (of course no rain for them ha!) and just Ubered back when they were ready to leave!
While we waited for Auto Zone to change out my battery we walked over to CVS and I loaded up on MORE meds. At first I had just felt icky and was almost thinking it was the flu. But that morning I woke up knowing it was a sinus infection. I could feel the pressure and pain so I went a different route in my over the counter cures 😉
It was my first time using a Neti Pot and it’s a GAME CHANGER!
After our crazy morning and with how rough I was feeling I just wanted DOWN TIME. Spear napped and I had solo time with Kye and Tess. Kye and I played checkers then Tess and I watched a movie…Robin Hood…again haha
It was a bit of a crazy start to our week! I’m super thankful I loaded up on all the meds as they truly helped me push through and be able to ENJOY our time together over Thanksgiving week.
Britt loved her solo park days but having it spread out over two days def was a struggle for the other kids and we were ready for some family fun together time too!