Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disney Wrap Up

Here is a round up of all my posts from 2014 trip: 

Also helpful this time was reviewing my "bucket" list that I had made last year after our vacation. It helped jog my memory on which things I knew I wanted to accomplish on our next trip and what to make a priority! The things we did are in red and commented on in blue. 

1. Lodging
  • We would love to stay at a Walt Disney World property next time or buy points from Scott's parents to stay at Bonnet Creek. Yes! We loved saying on property!
  • The two resorts I like the most are the Polynesian and Art of Animation. These obviously differ in price radically but wouldn't it be nice to stay on the monorail? It would be so awesome to me. Yes, we loved the Art of Animation! We did all price the Poly but wow...still expensive. It is also undergoing a major construction project this season. Maybe in the future! 
  • I think if we stayed on a Disney Resort we would still take our own food and plan for one meal out a day. I think this worked really well and easily costs half as much as a dining plan. Yes, we did this! We are cheap and it was fast, easy and delicious! 
2. Parks
  • We would love to do a day or two at Epcot next time, but not sure how this would impact our overall travel plans....and would also love to stay for more than 7 days. Did not do this....add it to next time's list!
3. Attractions
  • While we did hit a lot of attractions we didn't do the previous time we visited Disney world, there are some that we missed this time that we can hopefully do next time. 
  •  Magic Kingdom
    • Tomorrowland Speedway Check!
    • Tea Cups
    • Meet Ariel Check!
    • 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (will open in 2014!) not open yet :o( 
    • Splash Mountain (was under construction) Check!
    • Space Mountain (too hard to do with a little one) felt like Michael was still too young!
    • The Castle show before Wishes Check! 
  •  Animal Kingdom Did not visit this time :o( 
    • Tusker House Character Breakfast before park opens
    • Finding Nemo- the musical 
    • Flights of Wonder
    • Walk the Jungle Trek
    • Parade....basically I felt like we didn't do very much at our day at Animal Kingdom and I know there is so much there to offer. It was also one of the days that felt the busiest and most claustrophobic to me and I felt like we just walked and walked. 
  •  Hollywood Studios 
    • More character meet and greets (I had forgotten they were in the animation building) Did not get to :o( 
    • Take the Animation class at Art of Animation. 
    • Enroll Michael in Jedi Training Academy Yes! 
    • Do Star Tours Yes!
    • Do a dinner and advance seating package to Fantasmic! Did not do dinner but still saw Fantasmic-a must see!
4. Other
  • Take more photopass photos (and get photopass plus so we can get ride photos) Yes! Bought ahead of time to save money and took over 200 photos- a much better price than paying $200 or $15 for each photo! 
  • Start a monthly savings account for vacations. Did not do, but saved some Christmas money from family members and saved for a few months beforehand
  • Plan a princess dining meal at Akershaus in Epcot (I will go by myself if I have to!)
  • Rent or buy a wide angle (or wider prime) lens to use at the parks for better night photos.  Yes, used my 35mm lens the whole time! I loved the crisp photos and the wider angle. 
  • Be sure and take the kids out of the stroller for photos (we were so worried about Michael running off but seriously...he is in the stroller in about 95% of our photos!) Yes! Much better job at this one this year! Just parked the stroller by the photographer and we were good to go. 
  • Visit in early June when school is out instead of spring break. Historically (looking at crowd calendars), it seems like the beginning of June has been less busy than the middle of March. Itdid seem way busier when we were there this time compared to last time and overall it seemed like this past March Disney World had some record crowds (most were luckily the week after we left).  Did visit at a time other than spring break! Seemed less busy in april but was much warmer!
I also took some time to revisit My Disney World Tips to see if my tips still rang true this time. 

1. Plan well to maximize time. 
Check, check and check. I loved frequently all the blogs listed and used the lines apps extensively. I created plans using a mixture of guidelines from easywdw.com and the touring plans. 

2. Get to the parks when they open.
 Check and check. We did extra magic hours at Hollywood studios and go there before the opening show at Magic Kingdom. It makes for a great first few hours in the park! 

3. Get a good stroller.
We rented a stroller again from Kingdom Stroller because we had an easy experience with them last time. My son was 4 on this trip and he still needed it especially for navigating through crowds. He got tired enough the way it was without wearing out his little legs even more (and plus we dreaded him getting tired and making us carry him). 

4. Consider brown bagging it. 
Check! We stopped at the store on the way to the resort and stocked up on deli meat, cheese, snacks, water, chips, cookies....for about $80 for 4 meals plus snacks. Even a quick service meal in the park runs about $50 for our family so this was a big savings especially since we did breakfast in the room too. 

5. Get dining reservations early.
 We got an email to get a fastpass lunch to Be our Guest and we waited a few hours to check it out and by that time the times were all gone! :o( Lesson learned!

6. Use photopass and the photographers. 
I bought the package early to save $50 and we got a ton of photos for just being in the parks two days. Most of them were from character meets and Jedi Training but I knew I wanted the ride photos too. It is a big savings and helps force you to get your photo taken as a group if you know you already paid for it in advance. 

7. Know yourself and your family. 
We were busy but we tried to get in what we could! We understood that we couldn't do everything on this short trip and that was okay! 

8. Put on the mouse ears. 
Check! Did I feel ridiculous posing with the princesses? Yes of course. Did I have a really fun time meeting them? Yes of course! I tried hard to remember that this is a vacation and the ultimate goal is to have fun as a family. I saw so many upset parents yelling at their kids in the park and it was a good reminder to me to not be cranky and just go with the flow. I think I did a pretty good job and the only time I got nervous was when I thought Michael was going to miss his time for Jedi Training because he was riding Star Tours but it all worked out. 

I will definitely be looking back at our list for future trips. For now, I think our next plans for visiting Disney will probably be a cruise in 4-5 years. My dream is to plan it as a land and sea trip where we do a few days at the park and then a few days at sea. We also have plans to travel to Disneyland at some point but we'll see what the future holds! :o) 

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