We arrived Sunday afternoon and went to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) for supper and delicious Ghirradelli ice cream. Then we went back to our hotel to rest up for our first big day at the Magic Kingdom Monday.
We stayed off Disney property but nearby at a very nice Staybridge Suites (the same place we stayed last year). I loved our hotel. The rooms are spacious, very nice, and the hotel offers free breakfast every morning and even free supper some evenings.
After breakfast Monday we headed out for our first day at the Magic Kingdom. Thanks to fast passes and my mom's careful planning, we didn't wait in any long lines all day. We packed in multiple rides and covered about half the park. We also ate lunch in Cinderella's Castle and got to (re) meet Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine and Snow White.
Last year when we went, Cinderella's Castle was being renovated, and our princess brunch was at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort instead of the castle at Magic Kingdom. We actually loved the setting because we were one of just a few families there and it was quiet and intimate. This year, with our meal back in the castle, we were one of countless families and the atmosphere was a little more noisy and less intimate. We still had a great time, but it wasn't quite the same as before.
Tuesday we went back for Day Two at Magic Kingdom. We learned from last year that you just cannot cover all of the park with small children in a day. Two days is perfect. We were able to cover the things we hadn't gotten to yet, re-ride a few things, and eat lunch at "Be Our Guest" inside Belle's castle. If you eat at "Be Our Guest," I highly recommend the Braised Pork!
Wednesday we took an "off" day and didn't visit an actual park. But my mom booked us a brunch at the "Ohana" restaurant at the Disney Polynesian Resort. Oh my! This meal was amazing. I am a breakfast fanatic and this meal, served up family style, included all the sweet bread, fruit, eggs, sausage, bacon, waffles, and biscuits we could want. And Lilo, Stitch, Pluto and MICKEY were there too! The meal was delicious and so much fun.
Thursday we visited the Animal Kingdom. It was my first time at this park since I was a kid and my girls' first time ever. We had a fast pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari so we immediately headed there, where we saw rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and so much more. All the animals roamed free on the land, and we drove right by them as if on a real African safari. To my amazement, we later learned they actually have to bring all these wild animals into pens and cages each evening when the park closes, which can take up to three hours.
Unfortunately, my girls aren't tall enough for the roller coasters at Animal Kingdom and the river rapids ride was closed, so there weren't a lot of rides we could do. We saw both a Finding Nemo show and a Lion King show that were really good, but my girls' favorite part of Animal Kingdom was probably the gigantic playground they found at the end of the day! The park closed at 5 o'clock so we had somewhat of a short day and then went to a restaurant called "Uno" in Orlando with deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.
Friday morning I got my girls up early and we headed back to Disney Springs where I hoped I could get them into the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I hadn't made them an appointment this year, but a worker at the Magic Kingdom told me sometimes if you get there at opening, you can be a walk-in. I kept telling my girls it was a long-shot for us to get in, but sure enough, we did! I was just as excited as them. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is so magical and special for little girls. It may very well be my favorite part of Disney. I let both girls choose whatever hairstyle they wanted so, of course, one came out with purple and blue hair and the other became a blonde! They looked adorable.
After that was our last Disney activity -- another character brunch at the Grand Floridian Resort. This time we met Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger. The meal was a delicious buffet with every breakfast/brunch food you could possibly imagine. I'm still not sure which meal was my overall favorite between the Ohana breakfast and this one.
After taking a few pictures around the resort, we headed to the airport to catch our flight home. It was a long, tiring week, yet so wonderful and magical. I have already been missing Disney since being home. It's hard to readjust to the daily grind and the cold temperatures after a week at such a special place!
For those of you considering taking your first trip to Disney, here is a post my mom wrote last year with some very wise tips and advice about Disney trips. And feel free to contact me with any further questions you may have. With the proper planning, all your dreams really can come true. ;-)
Also, here is my recap from our trip last year.