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I’ve been mentally trying to decide how to blog about Disney…do I write Disney planning tips as I go or wait and do one blog entry with all my tips? In thinking about my future Disney planning the all-in-one thing is probably the best way to go. So I’m going to do it both ways! I’m going to write our day-to-day trip entries and will label tips along the way then have one big long Disney tip post after 🙂 Don’t you love my overly organized self???
Our original Disney plan was to go the first week in November. The weather is great and it’s a not crowded time to go. Then we got pregnant a little quicker than I thought we would and I’d be too far along to travel 🙁 So I had to move it and the only time that worked, where it still wouldn’t be too crowded, was September. TIP: I bought the book: The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011 and subscribed to the website www.touringplans.com. You get a discount on the website by buying the book and I’m so glad I did it! I will be buying the book again for our next big Disney trip! The website has a crowd calculator thing where it tells you which park will be the most/least crowded on each day of the year. It’s great for planning out your trip!!!
We left on Wednesday Sept 21st. We decided early on not to visit any parks on arrival or departure day. I wanted to fully ENJOY this vacation and not add any extra effort, energy, or stress to anyone. Now that Kye will no longer nap in the car it’s a tough call on when to leave. Do we leave early in the morning and just hope that the hotel lets us check in early for his nap? Do we leave during his nap and hope he somehow sleeps a little? Do we wait and leave after his nap and arrive at bedtime? We opted to have him skip school that morning and try our luck with checking in early. After dropping off the dogs and my computer (it badly needed some speed help!) we hit the road by 8. We had a special treat on the way and were excited to use my new car for the first vacation!
On the way down I wanted him to watch movies that he’d for sure be experiencing at the parks…he watched The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Beauty and The Beast. Chick-fil-a breakfast and a movie? This kid was in HEAVEN already!
The week leading up to our big trip Kye got sick. He was on an antibiotic still when we left for the trip and I was on one too because a few days before we left I started getting his symptoms. The weekend before we left Mom felt sick so she went to the dr and was on antibiotic and the day we got down to Disney Zach started to feel sick so we got him a prescription called down there! Whew! We were one drugged up group, but everyone felt FINE the entire vacation and that’s what mattered! I was downing my prenatal vitamin, the penicillin for my sickness, and another prescription for my female area 🙂
As many of you know I’m a big believer in spending money wisely. We travel more than probably anyone I know…it’s SUCH a blessing that we are able to do that and we both work hard for it. Zach works hard to provide financially for our family and I work hard to budget that money wisely and find us the best deals in all situations. I often work with a timeshare company, Summer Bay, and get great trips through them. This time around I bought a marketing package for $199 and it was for a condo for 5 days and 4 nights in Orlando. We had to do a timeshare presentation while we were there (where they try to sell you a timeshare) and were supposed to get a free gift for doing it. Instead of the gift I had them upgrade us to a two bedroom condo so Mom and Mrs. Charlotte would have a room. I had to pay extra to add an extra nights stay and I had to pay to move my dates from the November date…but still it was an AWESOME deal!!!
We got there at about 11:30 and got SO lucky! They told us our condo was already ready for us and waiting. I knew then that it was going to be an awesome trip. We had time to get all unpacked, settled, and eat lunch before Kye’s nap! The resort was so nice and was actually the same place we stayed when we went a couple of years ago for my 25th birthday (it wasn’t as nice of a room that time but still the same property). I really hope we get a chance to go back and stay again – we loved it!
Mrs. Charlotte’s and Mom’s room
After our disaster sleeping situation over Labor Day, I was pretty nervous about Kye sleeping okay on the trip. We own both the little pop-up tent we usually use and a travel kid’s size air mattress for him. We vary which one we use depending on the place where we stay and once we got to this condo we decided on the air mattress. Since the master bathroom was SO open to the bedroom, if we put him in either the bedroom or bathroom to sleep we wouldn’t be able to access either one! We decided to use the extra bathroom as “Kye’s room” and let everyone share our master bathroom while he was sleeping. It worked out GREAT. The bathroom was SO dark and Kye really liked it! We called it his Disney bedroom and he was so proud of it! We did have issues with the air mattress deflating on us though and had to make a Walmart run to buy something to patch it with.
Kye’s favorite thing about hotel stays – using the phone!
I love how he’s copying Daddy 😉
Kye napped great and Zach and I were able to rest and take our time getting ready for dinner. Mom and Mrs. Charlotte drove down that afternoon and made it in perfect time for our dinner reservations. TIP: When you book a Disney vacation call to make ALL meal reservations 180 days out from your travel day! Since I had to change my dates I was under the 180 day window and had very few choices about where we could eat. I really wanted to eat at Downtown Disney our first night there just to kinda get excited and to do our souvenir shopping. I really wanted to eat at Rainforest Cafe because I think Kye would LOVE it. Of course, they were booked solid and I tried calling many, many times but they never did get a table for 5 available. I’m sure we probably could have walked in and gotten a table but I didn’t want to have any wait since we’d be waiting in enough lines over the week!
Our drive to the Disney area was only about 10-15 min which was perfect. Just the drive there was fun! Kye loved seeing all the stuff on 192 and was SO excited to see the castle and Mickey and other fun things when we entered Walt Disney World grounds. I was SO pumped!!!!
We’re HERE!!! Our first Mickey sighting 🙂
I made 5:30 dinner reservations at Cap’n Jacks in Downtown Disney Marketplace. I made them there because it was the only place available. I was hoping it’d be pirate themed, but it wasn’t. It was in the same area as the gift shop we wanted to go to though so it all worked out. Our weather forecast for the entire trip was THUNDER STORMS. Every. Single. Day. You know that stressed me out.
finding our restaurant on the map!
When I visited Danielle and other friends in Atlanta a few months ago we made dresses with Just Sew Studio! I was PUMPED about wearing mine at Disney World but when I went to try it on while packing…it was a little too tight 🙁 I guess I waited too long to wear it! While it wouldn’t be comfortable for all day wear I thought it’d still work fine for our first night and it did. I LOVE it and got lots of compliments on it too!!! Can you believe I made this myself?!?!?
Dinner went really great! Sure, the restaurant wasn’t very Disney-ish, but the food was good and we were all able to split stuff to bring the price down too. I think we all cleaned our plates and Kye grubbed out for over an HOUR! He loved his meal for sure! It was the only night we planned to eat at a legit restaurant so I’m glad everyone enjoyed it. I LOVE planning things but it’s always so nerve-wracking too because you worry that people won’t have fun or like the things you planned ya know?
After dinner Zach took Kye back to the condo to go to bed and us ladies got our shopping on! TIP It’s smart to do all of your souvenir shopping in advance. You don’t want to waste time at the park shopping and you don’t want to be stuck buying your kid a million things either. The BEST store out of all the Disney properties is World of Disney. A girl who worked there told me it has the biggest selection of merchandise out of any Disney store anywhere. TIP I decided to buy Kye a little, inexpensive toy for each day. I know that many of the popular Disney rides spit you out right at a gift shop and I didn’t want to deal with a child begging to have something while we were trying to get to the next ride. I found a little toy Mickey and Minnie car for $4, a Mickey Mouse cell phone for $6, and a Pirate Mickey Mouse for $8. Perfect prizes! Mom and Mrs. Charlotte found an awesome deal at Toys R Us before we left for the trip on a Nemo stuffed animal and a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal so they planned to give him those as well. My plan worked out perfectly and we didn’t buy any other souvenirs the whole trip! (I bought a few Christmas presents at that store, some place mats for the house, a shirt for Kye, and an ornament for our tree too!)
All our Disney goodies!!!
It was fun just us girls doing our shopping as we didn’t have anyone waiting on us or rushing us. I love everything I got and Mom and Mrs Charlotte got some goodies for Christmas too! TIP Many people say that Disney is expensive, but I’ve found that buying Disney brand stuff from Disney directly is usually cheaper!
While we were there we also popped in to Guest Services and went ahead and got our celebration buttons to wear to the park (Kye got a “1st visit” one and we all got “celebrating!” ones). TIP they make buttons for almost everything you could be celebrating and they make the trip SO much more fun – especially the birthday ones b/c EVERYONE will wish you Happy Birthday (I’m not gonna lie…I have worn a birthday button when it’s not my birthday…) We got a little lost on our way back to the condo but were able to get there eventually and got packed and ready for our first day at the parks! That night we all had a little bit of a rough time sleeping (at least Mom, Zach, and I did) as the walls were paper thin and we could hear people partying it up at 4 am! Zach made a Walmart run that next night to get earplugs and an extra box fan to help!