March 20, 2014

Disney Vacation Planning.

So!  We're throwing all three kids in the minivan and taking them on a road trip to Disney!

You don't get more American than that, folks.

And alot of my friends have been asking about the how.  About the details.  About what the plan is.  Because when you're even considering a Disney trip you want to have a plan.  So I thought I'd write up some of our thoughts and decisions.
Look!  A pinnable image!
I have no idea if they are amazing or terrible or not as this is the the first time we're doing this.  But I have done ALOT of research.  Pintrest, ftw!

Also because I"m not capable of posting to this blog without way too many pictures I thought I'd throw in a little Throwback Thursday action.  Sprinkled throughout are photos from the last time we were at Disney.  In 2003.  For our class trip with the UC Masters of Architecture class of 2004.

Disney 2003
A picture that I will absolutely be retaking for comparison purposes.  Here we are 23 and engaged.  Now we are 33 and have more than doubled our little family.  Heh.

10 things about our Disney Plan.

1.) We are not rich.  We are also not doing the Disney the cheapest way possible thing.  It seems like every one of the tips I've read makes me think "Right.  I'd do that if I had ALL THE MONEY" or "Yeah I'm SO not dealing with that nonsense."  Bottom line we are a normal family who wants to take a normal vacation without either selling our soul to the mouse via $250 tea with a princess (an actual thing) or scrounging for meals comprised of rolls and stolen condiments (an actual frugal Disney tip I've read.)  NOOOPE.

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As long as we can go to the haunted manor I'm good.
2.)  Our kids are 5, almost 3, and 9 months.  It seemed like there was a perfect storm of reasons to go RIGHT NOW.  Not the least of which is the fact that kids under 3 are FREE.  Yes.  FREE.  So if we went literally a month later it would cost us A LOT more.  And the 9 month old is in the baby sweet spot between being a newborn and a toddler. Also our daughter is right at the point where she's starting to question all of it.  She asks me all the time "is this real?"  She wants to know why she can't have actual pixie dust but doesn't believe that the characters on Jake are people.  It's a delicate line.  One that she'll be across before we know it.  And once past the point of believing seeing the characters won't be nearly as thrilling.  So we wanted to do Disney once while all of our kids are still in the little kid who believes in magic category. 

disney 083
Honestly I'm a little disappointed he didn't mimic the lobster claw jazz hands.

3.)  We are driving.   Flying with a family of 5 would cost 1 BILLION DOLLARS.  So that's not happening.  The plan is to do as much of the driving as possible while the kids are asleep.  Nighttime driving is our friend.  Luckily our good friends live literally at the halfway point.  Like not even remotely out of our way and directly in the middle almost to the minute.  So we're going to break up the trip and spend a day with them in Charlotte.  Also YAY WE GET TO SEE OUR FRIENDS!!!!
Disney 2003
Some friends!
4.)  We are only going to the parks 2 days.   Ok with Disney there is ALOT to see.  So much to see.  SO MUCH to do.  And while I totally want to see ALL OF THE THINGS!  I know that little kids can only handle so much.  Hell parents who are hauling around little kids can only handle so much.  And 2 days out of the week we're traveling seems reasonable without being insane.

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Another picture I feel we should recreate.
 5.)  We are only going to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  This was an easy decision.  Magic Kingdom is clearly is a must.  And Hollywood is where the Disney Jr stuff and the Cars stuff is.  Obviously we need to see Jake and my 2yo boy is Cars obsessed.  So that was a must as well.  Epcot is worthless unless you are drinking (pro tip from my Florida friend).  Plus it's ALOT of walking.  So even though that's the only place the Frozen princesses are (BOO HISS) it was pretty easy to let it go.  Natch.

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But the jumping fountain!  My kids won't get to play in the jumping fountain!  aaaaaand over it.
From what I remember Animal Kingdom is a glorified zoo that smells like... zoo.  To be fair I was SO SO SO hungover on the day we were there in 2003 thanks to spending the previous night at Downtown Disney.  But we have a great zoo here in Cleveland that doesn't cost Disney money.  Pass.
disney 171
This is the only picture I took at Animal Kingdom other than a really blurry one of an alligator?  Probably an alligator.  I don't know.  I spent the day wishing I could lie down someplace darker.
6.)  We are not staying onsite.  I know.  I KNOW.  Everyone who knows Disney is all STAY ON SITE YOU HAVE TO STAY ON SITE OMG WHY ARE YOU NOT STAYING ON SITE?!!!  Here's the thing though.  Their Value Resorts are just glorified motels.  And I do not understand how the logistics of that could work.  I mean do we just go to bed when the kids go to bed?  That's fun.  And what happens when the little guy gets up in the middle of the night?  We all get up, too?  That should make for some well rested and ready to go kids.  Bottom line:  Staying in a motel room with 3 little kids didn't sound like a vacation no matter how nice the theme.

Us with our pile of kids at the St Patrick's Day parade yesterday. #happyincle #thisisCLE #stevensonpartyof5 @verozarc
Too many people to put in a motel room.
You know what does sound like vacation?  A 3 bedroom condo with a private pool.  And access to the resort pool and splashpad.  And it's own washer and dryer.

A happy baby w spinach on his noes. OH THE CUTE. #baby #8months #stevensonpartyof5
What.  I would never create any laundry that needs to be done OMG NOW GROSS ICK ICK ICK.

7.)  We are doing some character dining but not breakfast.  From everything I've read the little kid version of Disney needs to include some character dining.  This is supposedly the best way to meet the characters and there's tons of options out there - you can even have dinner INSIDE the castle (see also:  ALL THE MONEY).  Most of the character dining events are breakfast but as my Disney expert friend warned us "You guys are going to be pist if you spend $100 on eggs"  TRUTH.  So we're doing the Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner.  I figure we're going to eat dinner out anyways.  And it's at one of the resorts so it's a way to get in an extra bonus Disney day without paying for another day of park admissions.  We gave this to my daughter for her birthday - along with a belle dress to wear to it - and she LOST HER MIND:

I'm really looking forward to it.

8.)  The plan for the Magic Kingdom is to leave at naptime.  Maybe. So rumor has it that the Magic Kingdom is not very magical around 3:00.  Instead it's filled with overtired, overstimulated melting-down kids at what should be naptime.  I have no desire to be the parent of three such horror shows.  So the plan is to leave after lunch, drive back to the condo (only a few miles away), and nap until dinner.  Then go back to the park for the nighttime stuff - the electric parade and the fireworks where Tinkerbell really flies!  Obviously this plan is subject to change and I understand the logistics of getting out and back into the park are daunting and involve the monorail.  We'll see how it goes.
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And look how pretty the castle is at night!

9.)  The plan for Hollywood Studios is to white knuckle it through a day of no naps:  So Hollywood is all about the shows.  There's a Muppet show!  And a Stunt racer show (McQueen makes a cameo and the Dude is going to FREAK and it's going to be so awesome)!  Our thought is that the kids will have enough downtime to make it through the day without napping.  HOWEVER.  We def. want to go to the Fantasmic show (MALIFICENT!)  that night.  So once again we'll see how it goes.

Disney 2003

10.)  We're going to get the kids "first time visitor" badges.  So yeah.  There's these badges you can get at Guest Services that say "First Time at Disney" and with them everyone gives you extra attention.  Goes the extra mile to make your day that much funner.  YES AND MORE YES.  We will be getting one for each of our kids.

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So yeah.  I think it's going to be a really great trip.  If anyone has any other tips that I'm missing please do tell.  Clearly I'm new to this game.

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