With a five year old. And survived. Those who bring multiple children to the Most Magical Place on Earth, I salute you.
Looking back now, I get all fangirl about the vacation, as in, “OMG! BEST VACATION EVER! WE NEED TO DO THIS EVERY YEAR!” Clearly I’m forgetting the 10 thousand times wee man (all 46″ of him) asked to be picked up/carried/held because he didn’t feel like walking/standing/waiting. Or was put out when we didn’t have a Fast Pass (bless you, FP!) for a ride. Or saying that he likes being cold and doesn’t want to layer clothing, then complains he is too cold and we have to spend $100 on a sweatshirt. The list goes on, but I won’t bore you with that here…a little pain is all part of the Disney experience.
We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for four nights (Monday – Friday), which we picked based on the pool and its proximity to Magic Kingdom. LOOOOOOVED taking the boat to MK, but just an FYI that you will need to take a bus to every other park unless you go to MK first and take the monorail. The pool was so good that wee man never wanted to leave (including to go to the rides!), and the staff was just purely incredible. We chose a balcony room that faced the pool — no regrets! We also booked using the Gift of Magic offer, which is good through the end of April 2019.
Monday (Day One)
We flew down to Orlando from Newark airport free of charge courtesy of the miles I had been saving up with the airline’s credit card. It was wee man’s first plane ride, and he exceeded all expectations. I could not have been more proud of him with all the loud noises (which he hates) and being forced to listen to direction (which he also hates). I mean, he’s five.
Anyway…I can’t recommend enough using the Magical Express if you are staying at a WDW Resort. First, it’s free. Second, it’s glorious — place the yellow luggage tags on your checked bags PRIOR to checking your luggage at the airport. While you go straight from the plane to the Magical Express bus in Orlando, WDW finds your luggage at the airport and brings it directly to your room in 3-5 hours. Pack anything you absolutely need – including bathing suits for those amazing pools – in your carry on. WDW does the rest. (More on Magical Express going home to come). Having dowloaded the Disney app and checked into our hotel online prior to our arrival, I received a text while still on the bus that our room was ready — which meant we could bypass lobby check-in and use our magic bands to access our room. Could not be easier.
Is anything better than the start of your vacation once you’re FINALLY at your destination? Ugh, it’s glorious. This first (late) lunch, at our hotel’s Geyser Bar & Grill, was al fresco and amazing. After we ate, we changed into swim clothes (which we packed in our carry on) and hit the pool! The temperature of the pool (and the weather) was perfection, and there was ample seating for guests. The pool offers a slide for bigger kids, and a separate mini-water park for smaller children. The towels are free and in ample supply. You could also purchase adult beverages at Geyser and bring them to the pool. Wins all around.
We had purchased Park Hopper passes for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but had nothing scheduled for Monday night. To be honest, (a) I wasn’t sure we would be up for it depending on how the day went with travel and (b) I just really wanted to go with the flow for once. We left the pool for our room just in time for our luggage to be delivered. After showers and changing, we set out for the bus to Disney Springs to find some fun and food.
Disney Springs was HOPPING…on a Monday! I can’t imagine what weekends look like there. We wandered around, took advantage of some photos opps, bought wee man way too many toys (see “first day of vacation” euphoria above) and just walked around outside on a beautiful evening. In February, we were hitting the near-end of winter New Jersey, so just being able to walk around outside was exhilarating.
We settled on dinner at Bongos Cuban Cafe, which was delicious. I made the last minute reservation using the Disney app while we were walking around Disney Springs. Unlike most Disney veterans, or at least those who had done their research, we did NOT book ahead for amazing Disney dining experiences. Wee man is still very much not a fan of eating, let alone trying new foods, so why waste the time, money and effort when it literally pains him to sit at a meal table. For us, this method worked out fine, but I would recommend booking dining reservations well in advance if you’re looking for a special experience.
After dinner, we walked back to the bus and eventually made our way to the hotel. Upon arrival, we realized that there is an electrical water pageant at Wilderness Lodge every night starting at 9:30 pm. Wee man was out of gas at that point and had no interest watching the pageant, so we went back to our room where we could luckily still see the pageant from our balcony. Some of us didn’t make it through the show.
Up next, Tuesday (Day Two) of our Disney World adventure, including Magic Kingdom and Epcot!