Caroline has officially enjoyed her first trip to Walt Disney World and it could not have been more fun and exhausting for all of us! I decided I wanted to take her over the summer and my sister planned our trip for us. You can visit her page here and have her plan your trip as well. It doesn't cost any extra for her planning services and I didn't have to do a thing besides show up. She had all of our dining reserved, our fast passes booked and everything was a breeze when we got there.
I have been to Disney probably around ten times, most of which for UCA Cheerleading Nationals over my years of involvement with the sport. It was always fun going with my teammates and my kids I coached, but seeing it through the Caroline's eyes was next level amazing.
She had no idea where we were going. All I told her was that it was a surprise trip for her and that she would be so excited when she figured it out. We left here Wednesday afternoon and drove a little more than halfway, spent the night in middle Georgia, then headed the rest of the way Thursday. We got to WDW around 4:00 and unloaded the car after checking in and activating our Magic Bands. Caroline and I immediately went to the pool for about an hour, then headed back to get ready for our dinner reservation. We had dinner at the Captain's Grill in the Beach Club resort. We had a very sweet waiter who brought Caroline TONS of Mickey stickers and a big picture of all of the characters in front of Cinderella's castle. She still had no clue where we were, so she just thought we had the greatest waiter ever :)
Friday morning, we were up and at em bright and early, because I wanted to get to Magic Kingdom for the rope drop. If you're there by 8:45 am, the Mayor of Disney comes to the train stations to welcome you, a bunch of dancers perform and sing, then Mickey and all of the traditional Disney characters ride in on the train, then get off and welcome you to Disney before doing a countdown to opening the park. Caroline's face when she saw Mickey Mouse was so precious, I will never forget it! At first she was confused, then smiley then just tensed up because she was so overcome with excitement. I cried happy tears, can't lie.
The moment she finally knew where we had brought her was when we entered the Magic Kingdom and walked onto Main Street USA spotting the castle. I got her reaction on video and I will probably watch it every day.
My sister had us booked for Fast Passes in the attractions that she thought would have the longest lines, so after riding Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World and Dumbo, we headed to meet some characters. I swear, Caroline meeting all of the characters ranks among the top three cutest things I have ever seen in my life. You never know what your child will do in a situation like this. Will they be excited and go right to them, or will they scream bloody murder and refuse to go anywhere near the characters? Knowing my child, I really thought she'd be excited and I was right! Cinderella was her first meeting and we never told her going in to meet the characters who she would see, we let everything be a surprise, so every time she saw who she was meeting, it's like she was star struck and it was just precious. She'd hold out her little autograph book, cock her head to the side like a puppy, then take their hand and walk on to chat with them.
I can't say enough about how amazing every single character was with my child. I know it's their job, but every single one made her feel so special. They'd compliment her pig tails or dance her around or sing with her. It just absolutely was the most special thing to watch. I am so glad we took her. Juston wasn't convinced that she was of an age to be Disney ready, but as usual, I was right ;)
Friday night, my Mom had given us tickets to go the the Boo for You Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom, so after a short break back at the hotel, we dressed Caroline up in the costumes that used to be my nieces and headed back out. She was originally dressed up as Tinkerbelle and looked so dang cute, but she said it was too itchy, so she ended up going as Belle. Thank goodness I grabbed a backup costume at the last minute.
It poured on us for about an hour right after we got there, but we just rode the People Mover and did a few indoor things until the rain slacked off. We also rode Aladdin's Magic Carpets, did the Swiss Family Robinson tree house and hit up the trick or treat spots. We were able to catch the Halloween parade with the villains, then get back to the castle to catch the Hocus Pocus Sanderson sister's show right before the first set of fireworks, set to Disney Villain music. Every single thing about our first day was amazing. We were tired, hot, sweaty and just plum tuckered out, but already looking forward to day two.
We started Saturday at Animal Kingdom with fast passes to the Festival of the Lion King. Caroline LOVED the monkey's in the show and the music. That is always a fun show to watch. As soon as that was over, we were off to meet the first couple of Disney, Mickey and Minnie. Again, Caroline never knew in advance who we were meeting, so her face every time she'd round the corner and see a character was probably my favorite part of the whole trip.
We then headed to our lunch reservations at Rainforest Cafe, my favorite eating spot I have found so far in Disney, which Caroline just thought was the coolest place ever. We walked around and did a scavenger hunt for different animals while we waited for our food. Once we were finished, we had a fast pass for Animal Safari. After that, Caroline crashed and we headed back to the room.
Saturday evening, we were off to Epcot for a Royal dining experience. The Food and Wine Festival was going on that day, so Epcot was pretty much a madhouse, but once we were in the restaurant, it wasn't bad at all. As soon as we walked in, Caroline got to meet Belle, who was honestly probably my favorite to watch interaction-wise. She had met her the day before at Belle's Enchanted Story Time, a must do attraction for anyone taking their little lady.
We sat down and ordered our food, not really knowing when the princesses would come out. Caroline and I had our back to the main part of the dining area, so when someone tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around to see Cinderella smiling at her, I think I was just as surprised as she was! Her little eyes just lit up and it was officially worth every penny I'd spent to get us there. She also got to meet Aurora, Ariel and Snow White at dinner. She was in Heaven.
Sunday started bright and early with our breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine to eat with her favorite Disney Junior characters. Our waiter caught wind that this was a belated birthday trip for Caroline, so he brought her a card signed by the characters and a cupcake, then all the tables around us sang to her.
I don't know who got more excited to see Sophia, Caroline or her daddy. hah! She'd his very favorite Disney Junior cartoon. We wondered around Hollywood Studios for a bit after breakfast and got to meet Pluto, Chip and Dale, and Daisy Duck before heading down to the Honey I shrunk the Kids playground. That was one of my absolute favorite movies as a kid, so seeing that playground replica of the movie set was so cool. The playground was probably her favorite thing we did that day. I'd say we spent about an hour in there.
We headed back to Magic Kingdom to finish out our trip where we hit the rides we hadn't gotten a chance to do on our first day. We did Aladdin again, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, the Teacups, Tomorrowland Speedway, Carousel of Progress, Astro Orbiter, The Barnstormer (her first roller coaster, which she LOVED. Hands in the air hollering loved), the train and the monorail. Honestly, I feel like there was more, but I can't remember.
I have to say, before we even left, Juston and I were already talking about when we could bring her back. The thing about Disney is that it's sort of a dichotomy. It's called the Happiest Place on Earth, but if you look around when you're waiting in lines or walking between attractions, parents look miserable, kids are whining and crying...it doesn't look so happy. But if you watch the little ones reactions to the rides, the shows and the character, that's where the magic happens that makes you crazy enough to want to do it all over again. And it's absolutely worth it.
Again, if you're looking to plan your own trip to Disney, I'd definitely recommend contacting Paula with Ears of Experience. She can work with any budget and take the guesswork out of the planning for you.