As cliche as it sounds, taking a six-year-old, four-year-old, and one-year-old to Disney World truly was magical! It helped that we went with an entourage of built-in nannies :) That may be my #1 suggestion for anyone trying to plan their trip with little ones! Going with my entire family meant everyone got to experience each age-appropriate part of the resort and everyone took turns with those not quite big enough to do everything. It was wonderful.
We stayed on the resort at the Yacht Club-- which we simply adore. This was our second stay at this hotel and it just doesn't disappoint. My very favorite part is the pool-- its attached to the Beach Club, the neighboring hotel, and the pool has SAND in it. This was a massive hit with my crew.
This was a reward trip from my Dad & Kreg's company which really is my favorite way to travel! Our first day they hosted a welcome banquet for us at the resort and had all the characters there for a meet and greet-- we knocked out all our autographs & character photos this way without the giant lines-- it was a perfect way to start out the trip for my boys! I love the photo of our whole group with Mickey & Minnie!
After the welcome banquet we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the pools! It was a good way to gear up for the week and recover from our early morning travels. We had a light dinner on the patio and enjoyed the fireworks off the pier behind our hotel.We had the park hopper passes which were perfect for us for the week. Kreg, our master planner, got all our fast passes loaded onto our magic bands (oh my goodness, I love those things) and we planned our days out based on those times. We used the My Disney Experience app to monitor wait times at the rides we didn't have fast passes for so we really didn't spend much time waiting in lines at all. More on that later.
Our first park day we spent at Animal Kingdom. This was our hottest day of all so the Kali River Rapids was exceptionally welcome-- everyone but Brooks was able to ride so we went in two groups and everyone loved it! Westin was not a huge fan of "It's Tough to be a Bug" but the rest of us thought it was great-- especially since it was air conditioned! Brooks comforted Wes as we were leaving the theater which I thought was precious (middle right photo below!). The Jungle Trek is just awesome, friends. Don't miss it. I cried through the Lion King show because I have 3 sweet little boys who love the Lion King and it's just plain emotional to watch them take it all in and make memories that will stick with me forever. How does Disney do that?? Everyone got naps in, thanks to those awesome nannies I was telling you about and my trusty double Britax B-Ready stroller! We didn't even feel the need to head back to the room for naps this day, which helped us fit in everything we wanted to at Animal Kingdom.
Another highlight of the Animal Kingdom was the Dinosaur ride! It took some coaxing to convince Westin to ride with us and he became well versed in the concept of "animatronics" and was quick to confirm that each ride was ONLY animatronics, right? :) Sweet boy. Tucker, at 39 3/4" was coached by Kreg on how to stand up tall and take a deep breath each time he was measured so he could ride with us :) I really think his Keen sandals with the thick sole helped us out too! I'm so glad he made the cut because that little adrenaline junkie LOVED the rides!That evening we had another company-hosted party and it was AWESOME. They reserved the Dinoland section of the Animal Kingdom park so we had all the Dinoland attractions to ourselves. They served a yummy cajun-style dinner and we had a private showing of Nemo: The Musical, which was super cute.
One of my favorite memories of this trip was when Kreg, Westin, and I got to ride Space Mountain together. Westin was so excited to be able to do this one with us and we had built it up all day, saving it for one of our very last rides. He looks so serious on the ride photo itself but when we finished he was SO PROUD and said it was AWESOME. The bottom photo pretty much sums it up. If there is one regret I have from the whole trip, its that we didn't end up eating at the Be Our Guest restaurant-- we called 2 months in advance to get reservations and found out you really need to call 6 months in advance when they start taking the reservations... especially if you are traveling with 11 people! So, that's at the top of the list for the next trip!Our next day we decided to split between Epcot & Hollywood Studios since they are smaller and there was less that we felt like we just HAD to do at those parks. We started off with another company-hosted banquet buffet where Westin had his (ahem) fair share, of bacon. And then proceeded to stuff some more in his mouth and arms as we walked out. Not that I can blame him-- doing Disney works up an appetite! I got roughly 20,000 steps a day on my FitBit so you know his little legs probably got twice that many. And he very rarely jumped in the stroller.
At Epcot, the "big people" did the Test Track while Tucker, Brooks, and I checked out Nemo & the aquarium. Then we met up for lunch-- and let's be honest, eating is one of my favorite things to do at Epcot. Some day I may just have to stop for something in each country. We agreed on England and had some yummy fish & chips before jumping on the ferry to head to Hollywood Studios.
The boys both did Tower of Terror with Kreg... seriously, I'm in big trouble with all these adrenaline junkies. They weren't in a huge hurry to do it again, though! The bigs did Rock 'n' Roller Coaster while the littles & I Chief watched the Little Mermaid show-- which actually kept all of their attention really well, especially Tucker who I had convinced to watch it with me not long before this trip. I know that doing Disney with 3 girls would have been a COMPLETELY different experience, but at least they didn't run full speed away from anything that had to do with princesses. They're very thoughtful to accommodate their mommy's childhood loves! We got caught in a giant electrical storm at Hollywood Studios that afternoon so we hung out at the Backlot Express and snacked and watched the storm while we waited for it to pass. That evening we ate at Mama Melrose's for dinner & finished just in time to catch the Fireworks and head to the late showing of Fantastmic. Where I once again bawled like a baby because that's what Disney does to me. I have such vivid memories of that show over the past 20 years of my life and I love that its been special to me in so many phases of life. Seeing it with my babies drove home how quickly childhood passes! I'm thankful for these reminders even if it is painful to think about-- it reminds me to live in the moment and soak in the memories because I'm really not very good at doing that. I'm very task-oriented and goal-driven and my day to day typically consists of checklists and focusing on results rather than enjoying all the little things. I'm working on it though!
Speaking of time flying, Tucker Kreg turned four during our trip! I really can't think of a better way for a four year old to spend his birthday than at Disney World. He got to wear this "Happy Birthday" button all week & all the Cast Members wished him Happy Birthday everywhere we went. He also got plenty of special treats & a special Buzz Lightyear souvenir courtesy of Chief & Mimi. We adore this sweet boy & the special place he has in our hearts. Life would simply not be the same without him! Thank you, God, for our Tucker!In other milestones, Brooks took his first steps on our trip! My brother sat him down in the lobby of the Convention center and he shocked us all by taking 4 steps towards Kreg! Seriously, guys-- this place is magic and I love love love it. Thanks to my sister Kortney for getting this video a few minutes later and to Taylor for bribing him with her phone. It takes a village.
Our last day the parks we went back to Magic Kingdom & almost the whole day in Fantasyland. Kreg was a trooper and indulged my desire to dress us all in Mickey t-shirts. Thanks, babe! We had a fast pass for the new 7 Dwarves ride and looking back I'm almost bummed that we did because the line queue is awesome! They seriously have outdone themselves on the line queues-- and many of them are air conditioned... we may have to take this into consideration when planning out fast passes next time! Brooks was a big fan of It's a Small World just like Tucker was when we took him as a baby. You just have to do it every time :)
Dinner that night was at about 10:30 pm... but when we finally stopped we headed to Downtown Disney and did The Rainforest Cafe. I forget how much there is to do at Downtown Disney, it's easy to overlook it when you're go-go-going at the parks.We stopped and took in some parade magic this time and enjoyed some cold treats. Brooks was so excited to see the Mickey floats-- my heart, guys. My heart. I'm really not joking about the line queues. My very favorite one of all was the Peter Pan's flight line. They've recently redone it and the line queue takes you through the Darling's house and it's just precious. Tinkerbell is all over the place and interacts with the kids thanks to some kind of amazing technology. It was just as fun if not more fun than the ride itself.
After a lovely day at the beach, we cleaned up at our hotel and had dinner and souvenir shopped at the Boardwalk behind our hotel-- we ate at Big River Grille & Brewing Works and it was awesome. Definitely going to remember that one for the next trip. It was one of the prettiest nights EVER. It had rained just before we headed out to dinner so it cooled down the air to a very comfortable temperature and the sky was just unreal. It was the absolute perfect way to reflect on the week and enjoy our last evening. We watched the fireworks across the bay from our patio seat at the Grille and headed to bed at a decent time in order to get up early and head home.It's the Good family's tradition to squeeze a day at Cocoa Beach in when we are in Orlando. We strategically placed our beach day at the very end of the week this time and it was brilliant. Everyone was exhausted from our week of parks and some beach time was just what the doctor ordered. Taylor took a few family photos for us which I'm so thankful for! After that we did lunch on the pier and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging and exploring and watching our 3 little fishies act like they were made for the ocean.
I'm so very, very grateful for the precious memories made this week and for the chance to get away with all my people!