Walt Disney World:: Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the quintessential Disney World park. Walking through the gates, walking down Main Street, and seeing Cinderella’s Castle is amazing. After having breakfast at Gaston’s Tavern in the new Fantasyland, we spent the morning riding rides. We love it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirate’s of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain. We ate lunch at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. It was crazy busy and hard to find a table but the food was good. The kids had hamburgers, Derek had a southwest chicken salad, and I had the pulled pork. The rain was awful for parts of the day. We had our emergency ponchos, but it didn’t make much difference. We were all soaked. We did have moments of reprieve from the rain, but our shoes were soaked through for much of the day.

We ran into one of Abby’s classmates and his family right by Aloha Isle while we were in line for a Dole Whip. We visited with them for awhile and then went off to use our fast passes in the afternoon. We used our fast passes on Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight. Those were good choices because the lines were very long. After that, we went to Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner. We met Cinderella and took pictures in the lobby of the restaurant and when they called our name, we went upstairs to the dining room. Our table was right by the window overlooking Prince Charming Royal Carrousel. It was raining hard and it was windy outside, which made us extra glad to be sitting in the castle. Dinner was good, the service was good, and the atmosphere was amazing! The kids had fun meeting the princesses and making a wish with the wishing star. While Ariel was at our table, Jasmine came into the dining room. Cara saw “Jazz Man” and took off across the dining room toward Jasmine, leaving poor Ariel in her dust. It was pretty funny except I had to run through the dining room after her. After dinner, we went to use our last fast pass on the new ride, Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid. It was a nice ride, but not quite as good as I was expecting. It was the only time we rode that one. We rode a few more rides on our way out and then decided it was time to call it a night. Other than the rain, it was a great day in the Magic Kingdom. We made it back to the hotel and attempted to dry out and get warm.

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Rider Switch Pass

If you have a little one that is not quite tall enough for a ride or doesn’t WANT to ride and other people in your group want to ride it, you should utilize the rider switch pass. You can even use the rider switch with a fast pass. We used this on Soarin’ at Epcot and Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Cara was not tall enough for either of those rides. When it was time for our fast pass return, we told the cast member at the entrance to the ride that we needed a rider switch. Most of the time Cara was with us when we told them, but one time for Soarin’ she was sleeping in the stroller and strollers cannot be brought in by the Soarin’ entrance. I did take a picture, but they didn’t ask any questions. The cast member gave us a ticket that said it was good for 3 people to ride. With that, Derek or I would take Abby and Cade on and then the other of us would take them on again later. The other nice thing with the rider switch is that there is not a time on it, just on the same date. This worked really well and Cara was able to ride another ride while she waited for us.

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Epcot

What a way to start the new year! We spent January 1, 2014 at Epcot. Before we went there, we ate breakfast at the World Premier Food Court at All-Star Movies Resort. The kids ate Mickey waffles, sausage, and eggs and Derek and I ate whatever was left. We used our Rapid Fill drink mugs so when we were done at breakfast, we had to walk back to the room and then back to the resort to the bus area. We decided we wouldn’t make that mistake again. We weren’t in a hurry so much as it added a lot of extra walking to a day that would be full of walking.

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We rode the bus to Epcot and spent the morning riding rides. We ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons which is located in The Land. It was pretty good, but after reading the reviews I expected a lot more. After lunch, we had some fast passes to use. It was interesting with the new fastpass+ system. I set up all the fast passes ahead of time which was nice, but at the same time, I didn’t know which rides would have long lines at what times. The Seas with Nemo and Friends never really had a line and I had a fast pass for that. The Land didn’t have much of a wait either and I had a fast pass for that. I was really glad we had a fast pass for Soarin’. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have been able to ride it. Even with the fast pass it was a bit of a wait, but doable. The good and bad with that was that Cara couldn’t go on it. I felt bad for her, although she didn’t seem to mind, but we were then able to utilize the rider switch pass. That way she didn’t have to wait in the line, Abby and Cade got to ride twice, and Derek and I each got to ride once. Nemo was close enough that we took Cara on that while she had to wait for the other two to ride Soarin’. Another time I took her on The Land. We had a dinner reservation at Coral Reef. The wall of aquarium was neat to look at and there were divers in there while we were eating. The kids, however, were looking for characters. I ordered the steak which was good. The kids had grilled chicken. It was pretty warm in there, though, and part way through the meal I started not feeling very well. I lost my appetite and only ate about half of my meal. As soon as we got out into the fresh air, though, I felt fine. After dinner, we decided it was time to call it a night and we headed back to the hotel. The kids had some time to play with their iPods when we got back to the room and then it was time to get to sleep to get ready for another busy day ahead.

All-Star Movies Resort

Going into this, I knew that by choosing a “value” resort that we would not be getting everything that we got when we stayed at the “deluxe” Wilderness Resort in 2010. However, I have to be honest, that All-Star Movies Resort was still not what I expected. It was fine and served its purpose, but the room felt like a motel and not a resort. The room had an exterior entrance, a funny smell upon entering, and just the bare necessities. There were two double beds but there was enough room to put the blow up toddler bed that I brought along, so we all had a (small) place to sleep.

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That being said, the lobby, store, restaurant and other areas did feel like a resort. The theming added a fun element. We didn’t get a chance to use the pool, but it was big and also added a focal point right out the back door of the lobby area. Sorcerer Mickey from Fantasia shooting a fountain of water into the pool was pretty neat. Overall, I would say if you are not going to spend much time at the resort and are looking to save money, I would recommend it. However, if you want to have time at the resort and are looking for some extras, choose somewhere else.

December 31, 2013

The day had finally arrived. We woke the kids up at 5:30 am and were on the road by 5:50. We had everything packed the night before and just had to grab a few last minute things out of the fridge so we were ready quickly. It was a very cold morning and there was a possibility of snow so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get to O’Hare airport. We watched Peter Pan on the way and hit no traffic so we got there early. We parked in the remote lot F, took a picture of our parking spot, and hopped on the bus. We made our way to the check in and had to wait in line for a bit. Just before we were to the desk, the worker announced that if we had not printed our boarding passes that there would be a charge, so I hopped out of line and printed them at the only station of 4 that actually worked. I got back in line and we checked in. The next step was security and we got lucky with our first fast pass and were sent to the quick line. There was only one person in front of us. The other line probably took 30-40 minutes to get through. Yay! We made it to the gate and entertained ourselves.

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We took some walks, the kids played iPods, ate a late McDonald’s breakfast, and made sure we used the restroom before we boarded.

We flew Spirit and they have a bad reputation, but we knew going in that nothing would be included. We brought snacks and our water from McDonald’s. The flight went smoothly. The kids had fun and Cara was excited for her first airplane ride. ┬áPart way through the trip, Abby said, “I don’t know why I was so excited to fly on an airplane. It’s pretty much just getting there. It’s kind of boring.” Those are my thoughts exactly. I used to think flying was so exciting but it really is the idea of going somewhere. The actual airplane is pretty boring.

We landed in Orlando at MCO and made our way to the Magical Express. It was the first time we used our MagicBands. We scanned in and made our way to the bus. We had to sit there awhile but then we were on our way. After 3 stops, we were dropped off at All-Star Movies Resort. We checked in and made our way to the Love Bug section. The room was sufficient but had a funny smell upon entering and was less than I had expected.

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I emptied a few of our bags and repacked a bag to take to Hollywood Studios with us and we were right back out the door. We went to the bus stop and got on the bus for Hollywood Studios. The fun part was finally starting!

At Hollywood Studios, we decided to eat at Pizza Planet, so we walked straight there since we hadn’t eaten much all day. I ordered at the counter while Derek and the kids found a place to sit on the patio. It was so nice to eat outside on New Year’s Eve! After we ate, we headed toward the front of the park to get ready to go to Fantasmic. Last time we were at Disney World, we did not see the Fantasmic show, so I was really excited to see it. We used a fastpass and were able to walk right in. We sat in the third row and had a pretzel and some popcorn while we waited for the show to start.

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The show itself was amazing. Lights, water, fire, fireworks, and characters all made the show spectacular. I wish I’d have taken more pictures, but the show was mesmerizing and I really didn’t think to take very many!

After Fantasmic, we decided it was time to call it a night and we headed back to the resort. We explored the resort a little and then made our way to our room.

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When we got there, our suitcase had been delivered and I unpacked a little more and got Cara’s bed set up. It was a long day of travel but a great way to end 2013.