So, in my last Walt Disney World post, I left off after our first full day there, a day of settling in after a long flight, and then a day of exploring Riverside Port Orleans (where we were staying) and Hollywood Studios. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do!
So? What next?
Well, back in the early months of this 2017, I thought really carefully about where we would go and what we would do over our week stay in Orlando, Florida. Our itinerary if you will! My biggest tip, when it comes to planning, especially with young kids, is to always look at the bigger picture. Think about how your day will work, and when you can expect your kids to need a rest, or something to eat. And also think about the way the week flows too. It sounds like military precision doesn’t it? But the thing about Walt Disney World is that you can enjoy it your way. It can be as jam-packed as you like, or you can have some slower days in the sunshine too (in fact – I’d recommend them with little ones!).
As I wrote in my last post, we found that splitting the day up into halves worked best for us. We went with a four year-old and a 10 month-old, and full days wouldn’t have worked so well for us, especially when you add things like firework displays into the mix!
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were the two places that were high up on our list, when it came to what we were the most excited about. My little boy, Bill, has been a huge animal fan ever since he was a baby. It’s all he’s ever been interested in, to tell the truth. So when it comes to Disney, you can probably guess, which his favourite Disney movie is. Yup, The Lion King.
And for me, personally, the one thing I think of first, when I think of Walt Disney World is Cinderella’s Castle. Now, I remember, as a young girl, seeing the adverts on the television. And I’d sit there, mouth agape, eyes like saucers, as I watched the castle before me. It’s also at the start of every Disney film, do you remember the old Disney movie intro? I do. It may have changed a lot since then. But that castle always felt like something I would only ever see on a screen.
So when I first found out about this trip, I realised that, yes, one day soon, I’d get to stand in front of that castle. Just like in the movies.
I have rambled – like I always do! So, let’s carry on.
Now, when it came to our plans, I made sure that Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom weren’t the places we visited right away, as I wanted us to be well-rested, and well-adjusted to the time difference, so we could appreciate every moment.
So, that’s why our second full day featured Magic Kingdom. Because I knew we’d be ready. And, to be honest? I really couldn’t wait to see that castle.
We did, as we did last time around, and we had breakfast (all hail Mickey waffles!) and spent the morning by the pool at Riverside, which meant our ten month-old could get a well-needed nap. She’d always fall asleep on the walk back to our room, after a swim, so it was perfect, as we could pack up what we needed for a full day out, and get ourselves ready too.
I used the My Disney Experience App (God-send!) to arrange our day so that we saw everything that had been recommended to us. You’ll find that a lot with Walt Disney World – everyone has so many recommendations for you, and you trust them based on the look of absolute joy on their faces as they recount their own memories. I knew that we wanted to see a parade, and the fireworks. And I’d also planned a meal at the Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen (perfect for any animal lover – and really nice food too!).
So, we hopped on our usual bus transportation, went through security (which always made me feel so safe) and, when we arrived, my breath was completely taken away. The castle was right there, in the distance. hen we first arrived, The Festival of Fantasy parade was just about to start, and we were ushered to one side of the main street and decided we’d just stay. And, do you know something? It was exactly as you’d imagine it to be. Bill was on Mark’s shoulders, heads above everyone else and he was squealing at every well-known character he spotted. I unbuckled Daisy from her buggy and held her in my arms. And we danced and watched as the street filled with music and life. You can see a clip in my first Walt Disney World vlog if you’d like a taste of it!
After that, we made our way to our first ride of the day! We decided to use our Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, It’s A Small World, and the Jungle Cruise that day. And they were all so worth it. We all love anything Toy Story, and having already been on Toy Story Mania the previous day, the Buzz Lightyear ride was eagerly anticipated by Bill, my then four year-old. I also may have gotten a high score on this one…just saying!
It’s A Small World is actually a ride I’ve been on before – at least the Disneyland Paris version. It was a strong memory from my own childhood, wearing Mickey cagoules as the rain poured down, and staying in one of the Davey Crockett lodges. I hope they still exist as I’d love to go back there one day – this time as a mum with children of my own.
It’s A Small World is a bit of a Disney classic isn’t it? The song. The different worlds. The little puppets. I loved it just as much as I did as a child, and I felt like the little girl version of me was almost sat there beside me. “Do you remember?” I do! Seeing the same sort of joy on my son’s face made me realise this had been a perfect choice.
Before we caught our last ride, we headed back to the main street to catch the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party – and I’m so glad we did! We managed to spot Phineas & Ferb – who Bill absolutely loves – and we joined in with all the dancing – everyone collects down in front of Cinderella’s Castle and has a good old boogie, and it was just what we needed. I managed to catch Bill dancing away in my vlog, and it’ll be a bit of footage that I keep for his wedding!
After that it was tine for the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise was perfectly themed. You get a tour guide who takes you along the Jungle Cruise – a big boat in the water – and you learn about animals and lots of different facts. The animals aren’t real, but we actually went as the sun was setting and it made it feel real for us. It was really quite cool to be on a ride at dark, I don’t know why, but it’s just never something I’ve experienced before. My little boy loved it and my little girl almost fell asleep as we drifted along.
As darkness fell, everyone started to group up in front of Cinderella’s Castle, to watch Wishes – the fireworks display. We felt extremely lucky to have seen Wishes, as it actually ended, after almost 13 years, on the 11th May 2017. I felt like I’d seen a piece of magical history. And there’s really nothing I can do to explain it other than to say that I cried. I had goosebumps. Every word, every lyric, every splash of colour in the sky – it meant a lot to me after the tough year we’d had as a family. Once upon a time, I had wished for a moment like this, especially after Daisy being so poorly, so it felt like I’d be granted a wish come true.
We headed home, with two fast asleep children, the big one in the little one’s buggy, and the little one fast asleep in her father’s arms. We left as soon as Wishes ended, so we could grab one of the first buses back, and we tucked them up into bed, and they didn’t make a sound. Most likely dreaming of their magical day, and wondering what tomorrow might have in store…
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