Links to Amazon are affiliate links.
When we decided to purchase our rental house at Disney a lot of thought put into it and it was important for us to be able to use the house for our own family travels. This is our first calendar year owning the home and we’ve tried to block off dates in advance that we knew we’d want to be at Disney. I love knowing that our next Disney fix is just around the corner 😉
With the kids having off school for MLK Day we knew it was a great weekend to escape for a bit down to the house and enjoy the parks. Last year was our first year owning the house and having annual passes and it was hard for me not to feel like I HAD TO BE at the parks the ENTIRE time we’d come to town. We have passes! We MUST use them!
The result of that was being overtired on the Disney weekends and not getting enough downtime and rest time as a family unit. I’m trying to do better in planning out our park days to incorporate downtime and to be strategic in when we have late nights etc.
While I’d be at Disney every minute of every day, that’s not what Zach really needs. He works hard and on the weekends he appreciates downtime. This weekend was all about that balance and it went SO WELL. We all felt like we got plenty of time in the parks while also having plenty of time to just relax and enjoy the rental house!
We’ve worked hard over the last year to make updates to the house and to really make it our own. The house came with white, outdated, appliances so we went ahead and bought new appliances for our house and moved our black appliances down to the rental house. It makes SUCH a huge impact and looks so awesome!!!
We had our snacks for the weekend covered thanks to Fresh Beginnings who hooked us up with TONS of adorable cookies! They have tons of great stuff for Valentine’s Day and even options for class sets of cookies…be sure to order using code EMILY20 for 20% off 🙂 I lucked out that the kids just happened to be wearing V-Day colors. It’s also easy to get pics when I can bribe ’em with cookies ha!
We have always used a coffee table as a baby gate at the house and Spear is so stinking smart and strong that he’s totally figured out how to move it so he can still access the stairs!
When we were packing up to hit the road Tess put her little fingers in the hinge opening of the door to the garage and when I shut the door it completely smashed them. I am SO thankful I didn’t fully close the door and realized it quickly but her fingers were all purple and swollen and we were nervous they were broken. Zach did a bandaid around them that day and night and they were fine the next morning!
When mapping out the trip we had three days rather than just a typical two so I wanted to make sure the last night of the trip was an early-to-bed one. We had a chill morning Saturday and hit the parks in the afternoon and then did two mornings in the parks on Sunday and Monday. It worked out SO WELL and was such a great balance. We all got plenty of rest and still had plenty of Disney memory making!
The girls didn’t care that it was 58 degrees outside…they were hitting the pool! Love that we have the heated pool down there so the kids can enjoy it year-round!
Warm-up snuggles with Daddy!
With trying to find a better park visiting balance I want to incorporate more time doing other things in the area as well. We have visited Golden Corral a few times but thought it’d be a super fun thing to do Saturday morning. We went at 10:30ish and were able to get both breakfast foods as well as lunch stuff. It was a family crowd pleaser FOR SURE!
After naps we headed to Animal Kingdom. We haven’t visited Animal Kingdom in quite awhile. I’m trying to even remember the last time we went as a family! We decided to focus on that park this trip and really make sure we did and saw all the things we all love most.
I grabbed fastpasses for Zach and the big three to ride Dinosaur (Tess’s first time!) so they rushed into the park and headed there while Spear and I took our time walking around before we met up to watch Lion King Show. I love the chance to have individual pics with my kids!
I look a little shiney but it’s not sweat for a change! The weather was AMAZING. A nice breeze but not too much wind and the perfect temp! It’s very hit or miss during winter as to what the weather will be like but this weekend was wonderful!
Kye and Britt both LOVE Dinosaur and Tess is always eager to be tall enough to ride anything they enjoy! She loved it too (not that I had any doubt she would!)
Pretty epic back row there 😉
As Spear and I made our way through the park we passed donkeys! The cast members explained that they were members of the petting zoo area but that they are slowly working with them to help them feel more comfortable with more interactions. It makes me curious to see what is in store for the future at Animal Kingdom now that the petting zoo area (and all of Rafaiki’s Planet Watch) is closed.
The tough thing about Spear and Disney is that EVERY TIME we come he changes SO MUCH. Babies and toddlers just change so drastically in such short spans of time. It makes it hard to prepare for visiting Disney with him because I just never truly know what to expect! He was pretty rowdy this time and less “chill” than he was in the past. Thankfully he’s also pretty easy to entertain and keep happy!
I just took Spear over to the Lion King area to hang out and wait on the rest of our crew!
When I got Spear out of the stroller to allow him to crawl around and explore a bit he went straight for the tires of the other strollers. He’s ALWAYS been SO INTO tires! When we came both back in October and November all he would do when I’d let him get out was try to chew on the stroller tires and crawl after other strollers to check out their tires too.
As I walked with him along the path to the Festival of the Lion King arena area I happened to see a cart and knew he’d FLIP OUT. Yall he played happily with these “tires” for a good 30 minutes! It was adorable and precious and couldn’t have been the more perfect thing because I didn’t have to worry about him messing them up, getting dirty, or bothering anyone else. He was as happy as could be! Totally in his element! It made my DAY seeing him so joyful…def one of my magical Disney moments this trip 😉
As soon as he crawled over and checked out the tire he immidately looked at me and just started clapping!!!
We also found some barrels to play with and the “music making” kept him nicely entertained!
We also browsed a little shopping area while we waited! Keeping a one year old happy and content is def a bit of a challenge at Disney!
The kids were all excited after riding Dinosaur and I was happy to hand Spear off to Daddy while we waited in line for Lion King. I will say it’s probably smart to bring a baby carrier to the parks with a toddler. It’d make line waiting SO much easier. Especially in the cooler months! We need to try it next time we visit for sure.
Love bites for Daddy!
Tess’s favorite show at Animal Kingdom is Nemo and I felt bad we didn’t end up seeing it this trip but I also knew that the high energy of Lion King would better keep Spear entertained! Britt’s favorite is Lion King and she is always just entranced by all the awesome gymnasitics moves featured during the show.
We always catch the musical acts in Harambe and it was so funny to me that Britt was bashful about going out and dancing when yall know she’s usually ALL ABOUT IT. She said she felt embarassed this time (little girl growing up huh?) so I didn’t push her or anything but before I knew it she’d gotten over it and was out there breaking it down in true Britt fashion 🙂
The biggest blessing in having annual passes is that the wait times don’t bother us. We don’t HAVE to do everything every single time. Yes, the parks were crowded since it was a holiday weekend and we assumed they would be. But the crowds had zero impact on our trip what-so-ever. We had a fastpass for safari and walked right on!
It’s funny because Kye and Britt both said they don’t really enjoy it. How can you not enjoy seeing LIVE ANIMALS in front of you?!? It’s one of those things where they forget how much they like it until they are on the ride experiencing it!
Thanks Grandpa and Grammie for her ears!
This kid is so stinking handsome!
No doubt that Tessie will never say she doesn’t want to ride safari!
All three big kids each have their own bookbags and it’s been a GREAT change! They have THEIR stuff that THEY keep up with (snacks, toys, etc). Kye even brought his camera to get pics of all the animals!
Tess was so cute and serious about the safari. She said she learned all her animal facts from the board in the jeep and kept telling me things about each animal.
Since getting our carpet installed we have been HARDCORE PURGING. I’m talking bags upon bags filled with stuff. The kids each did an incredible job of sorting through all of their things and getting rid of a TON of stuff (post to come) so Zach and I agreed they deserved a little treat for their hard work – Mickey Pretzels for DINNER! A big treat as they each were allowed to get their own and no sharing 😉
Tess’s favorite memory from her Disney Birthday is when she got her first Mickey Pretzel and she was telling us all about that memory and was so stinking excited to have another one 🙂
Little known Animal Kingdom fact: there is a bridge that connects Africa to Pandora! Zach is a GENIUS when it comes to navigation – I have no clue how he knew about this. It’s not open in the mornings but it made for such a beautiful and peaceful stroll that evening!
We had fastpasses for Na’vi River Journey which even if you’ve never seen Avatar you will appreciate the ride. It’s BEAUTIFUL and so well done. The kids keep asking when they will be allowed to watch Avatar…um never? A: the movie is basically a knock-off of Ferngully and B: it’s pretty dang inappropriate for kids!
Spear is OBSESSED with empty water bottles – instant entertainment for him and keeps him happy!
Pandora MUST be experienced at night!!! SO. COOL.
Back in June Kye used his money to buy a Banshee (I helped as he was SUCH a HUGE helper when Zach was away in Ireland) and since then he’s literally played with it like once. Maybe even not that many times. But for some reason, Britt declared that she was also saving her money up to buy one for herself. I’m VERY proud of her for saving so long for it. She is my spender and usually every Disney trip she’ll buy a new stuffed animal of some sort, but she’s waited patiently to have enough and was so excited to pick out her Banshee (and no, it hasn’t been played with again yet for some strange reason Tess is now saving for one too! I. Do. Not. Get. It.)
We arrived at Animal Kingdom around 3ish and left before 7! It was a great few hours and we were able to fulfill three fastpasses (Na’vi, Dinosaur and Safari) and see Lion King and get yummy treats! The perfect sort of park day 🙂
It was great that the kids all had naps and we’d all had a nice chill morning AND we were back in plenty of time for pretty early bedtimes. Great way to kick off our fun family weekend together!