March will always and forevermore be a hectic month for our family. Not only do we celebrate mine and hubby’s anniversary and Baby Zu’s birthday at the beginning of the month, but with the first day of spring also comes Big C’s birthday. And THIS year in particular was even more crazy, since we celebrated Big C’s milestone 5th birthday (a couple of weeks early) in Disney World, courtesy of my parents (aka “GaGa and Paw Paw.”)
We packed so much stuff into a 6 day trip, I could easily write a separate blog post for each day. But, unless you are somehow related to us or currently planning a Disney vacation, you’d probably be bored out of your mind by Day 2. So I’ll just give you a condensed version of the highlights and tips here (but if you ARE planning a trip and would like some more specific beta, don’t hesitate to email me!)
Thanks to the Disney Dining Plan, our crew was never at loose ends when it came to good food, but we all unanimously voted Chef Mickey’s Character Meal at the Contemporary Resort as our favorite – for food as well as atmosphere. We actually ate here our very first night, and it was a fantastic kick off our trip. Big C got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald WITHOUT standing in line…and Baby Zu shrieked in terror whenever any of the characters made eye contact.
Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom (also a character meal) was everyone’s second favorite. In fact, we all decided that buffets in general were the best way to go for dinner – faster, more variety, and a great kid-friendly atmosphere. The biggest disappointment in food was Be Our Guest in Fantasyland, which ironically is known as the hardest-to-get dinner reservation in all of Disney. The setting is gorgeous (in the ball room of the Beast’s Castle), but we all thought it was dark, loud, and overrated (the food was good though.)
The Fastpass system was great – each day we got to choose 3 attractions in which we could “skip” the regular stand-by line and jump ahead to the front, so long as we showed up in our reserved time slot. It took a couple of days or so to figure out the best strategy for how to use them, but by the end of the week we were pros. (Tip: Most of the lines were short until around 10 am or so, so the best bang for our buck was to get to the park early and ride as much as we could, saving the fastpasses for later once the park got crowded.) We also took advantage of the “Rider Switch” program a few times – since someone generally had to stay back with Baby Zu, it was a great way to get everyone to be able to ride (and let Big C ride twice.)
When we first started planning this trip, I’d wondered whether Big C was going to be too little to enjoy a lot of it. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that “turning 5” seemed to be the PERFECT age – he was old enough to enjoy a lot of the big kid rides, but still small enough to enjoy all of that Disney magic! Steve and I were pleased to discover that we’ve got a roller coaster lover on our hands – he laughed and shrieked with delight on all the thrill rides. My favorite moment of the entire trip was looking over to see his feet flying higher than his head amidst cackles of laughter on the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios!
My least favorite moments of the trip was watching his crest-fallen face when he got booted out of line for Everest (Animal Kingdom) AND Space Mountain (Tomorrow Land.) He was literally a quarter of an inch short (as in, his HAIR was touching the top of the post, but not his head…), but neither ride operator was willing to fudge him in. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to kick myself for not letting him pack his bulky and uncomfortable (but heeled) cowboy boots…But as hard as it was to see that dejected little face, I was proud of how he handled himself, and I know having something to look forward to will make it extra special next time.
Another low point in the trip was when sweet Baby Zu landed herself in the Urgent Care with a double ear infection. This was actually our second time in an Urgent Care in a week (3 days before we left Big C had logged a 104 fever w/a nasty case of the croup.) He was kind enough to share his germs with Baby Zu, who thankfully only presented with mild symptoms…but combined with a plane flight, those poor little eustachian tubes were toast. To complicate the issue, the ear pain made Baby Zu go on an 18 hour nursing strike (and pretty much eating/drinking ANYTHING strike). That plus being out in the heat meant we had a dehydrated little girl on our hands (and a very uncomfortably engorged mommy) by the time we got to the doctor. But the wonders of modern antibiotics cleared her up in no time, and literally within hours she pepped up and was beginning to nurse again.
- Big C’s wild shrieks of laughter and joy on Tower of Terror.
- Baby Zu giggling on the lone small drop at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Big C’s ecstasy at meeting his favorite characters (especially Woody, Lightning McQueen, and Minnie Mouse
- The Crag-Daddy getting as excited as a 5 year old when he got to make his own light saber.
- Date night with the Crag-Daddy on the Aerosmith Rock N Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.
- Listening to Big C constantly jabber on and on and on…and on…AND ON about how much fun he was having.
A big thank you to Gaga and Paw Paw for footing the bill for all of our fun. It was an experience we will never forget! Anyone else have a favorite Disney memory to share, either your own, or one you have of your kids? Feel free to share some Disney love in the comments below!