WE WENT TO DISNEY!!! I’ve been wanting to say that for a few years but we finally went and it was every bit of amazing that I hoped it would be for our family! Last year we finalized Finn and Jax’s adoptions and really wanted to go on a trip and we considered Disney. At the time, the parks were still super restricted and we had just moved into our new house so the timing of the trip didn’t work out. One of the gifts we gave the boys for Christmas was an experience to go see Disney on Ice and it was such a magical experience for everyone, we immediately started talking about planning a trip to Disney.
WHY WE USED AN AGENT – When we decided to book a trip, we realized the slow season was less than two months away and there was no way we would be able to swing booking and figuring out a trip in that short amount of time. I reached out to my friend Elizabeth (you can find her at @mousegrown on IG) who is a travel agent for Disney and she gave us some options. Elizabeth was wonderful to work with. She had informative emails, planned our itinerary (and changed it twice at our request), quick to answer emails and the biggest perk was being able to communicate with her during the week when I had a question or needed help with something. Overall having someone as a direct line was so helpful during our first trip, it really made it so much smoother.
WHERE WE STAYED – We chose to stay 5 days, 6 nights at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and overall we really really loved it. Because it was our first trip to Disney we wanted to stay on the property so we could have easy access to the parks, perks of having Disney customer service right there if we needed anything, and figured out mid trip we could enter the park early! The Caribbean was very nice. GREAT customer service, clean, easily accessible transportation to the parks, and their gift shop and dining options were really great. We also loved that the skyliner was back opened for the last couple days of our trip so we were able to use it to get to Epcot (so convenient)!
If you are going as a larger family, my only complaint (if I have to have one) was how small the bathroom was. It was tight for all 5 of us to get ready in the mornings but again, I hate to even include it because overall it was such a great place to stay. Our room had 2 queen beds, and one pull out/drop down bed so our sleeping arrangements were very comfortable.
ARRIVING IN DISNEY – Monday evening we arrived in Orlando and checked in our resort. We had a little bit of time to play with so we decided to go to Disney Springs. I would probably skip this next time or maybe just have a plan if we did this again the night before going to the parks. We ended up walking the entire thing so our feet were already a little sore and we were extra tired when we woke up Tuesday morning. I really loved the atmosphere at Disney Springs but unless you really want to do some hard core shopping, pin trading, or a specific thing there I would save it for an off day or maybe when you’re finished with most of your vacation. They do have some really cool Disney shops but it’s mostly an outdoor shopping mall.
OUR ITINERARY – Since this being our first trip, I literally had no idea where to go so I had Elizabeth just choose our days for us. We did end up switching some things around the week before and when we go back, we will likely do the exact same order because it was perfect. Tuesday – Hollywood Studios, Wednesday – Magic Kingdom, Thursday – Animal Kingdom, Friday – Epcot, Saturday – Magic Kingdom again. I am going to do a followup post and go into detail with each day because I have a lot to share from each park!
TOP 10 QUESTIONS + ANSWERS
I got so many questions from our week at Disney so I want to finish this post answering the top 10 questions!
1. Was it worth it to stay at the Resort? YES, at least for our first trip. We loved having Disney customer service for anything we needed during our stay. We had free transportation, early access to the parks (we took advantage of that 2 days), and it was really convenient. That being said, next trip we would like to price things out for renting an airbnb next time just to see the cost difference.
2. Should we bring a stroller? If you have children under 6, yes. We rented a double stroller from Scooter Bug and it was the best decision. Jax rode in it most of the day and because we had a double stroller Henry and Finn could take a quick break if needed. They wanted to walk most of the day so we used it for our book bags, umbrellas, or just anything we didn’t want to carry. Highly, highly recommend bringing/renting a stroller.
3. Your absolute #1 favorite thing you did I have 3 HAHA! Fireworks at Magic Kingdom, Avatar ride in Animal Kingdom, and the Kilamajaro Safari at Animal Kingdom.
4. Was it worth it to bring Jax at 3 yrs old? Oh my gosh yes. He was so in love with everything and all of the characters. He was a champ the whole week. He only had 2 short-lived meltdowns (one because we forgot his bubble machine at the hotel on our 2nd day and the other because he didn’t want to hold my hand in line and was trying to escape). It was magical for us to watch him love it so much. He rode every single ride we did except Space Mountain and Avatar.
5. Can you explain how you brought your own food? We prepped big for this one. For breakfast we brought our toaster, Nespresso, boiled eggs, individual yogurts, lots of fruit, creamer, milk, and orange juice. We ate a big breakfast each morning before we left so we weren’t really hungry until lunch time. For lunch/snack we packed the boys sandwiches, chips, fruit, trail mix, and bottles of water. They could eat whatever they were hungry for at lunch then kept snacks and water in their own book bags to have whenever they wanted. Dinner we would do in the parks and would usually split things to save money. For example our first night in Magic Kingdom we got dinner from Casey’s on Main Street. Instead of getting each person their own hot dog for almost $10 we got the foot long for $12 and Henry and Finn could eat for almost half the price.
6. How strict was it wearing masks/was it worth going? In my opinion, it was worth going and it really wasn’t that crazy. Like I shared in my stories, the boys have worn a mask maybe 3 times total since all of this started so the only one I was a little nervous about was Jax not wanting to keep it on. When we got their we explained the rule of having to have them on and the kids were fine with it. My only complaint was having to where it to see Mickey because their sweet smiles are hidden under their masks in the photos. I would have loved to see them bring Mickey outdoor or in a pavilion to avoid this. The only ride that was crazy strict about masks in line was it’s a small world at Magic Kingdom. Most cast members were really kind and if one of the kid’s masks fell down or they forgot it they would just kindly remind them to put them on.
7. Are the characters doing signatures? Could you not go up to them? As of right now the characters are not doing autographs or allowing up close interactions. The ones you can meet in person are typically behind a rope and you can still get photos with them (just not super close). There are pros and cons to this though. Before the restrictions, you would have to really go find the characters and stand in line to see them/get an autograph. To Disney World’s credit, they bring out the characters a lot and you get to see them on balconies, riding in boats, and in the many many Magic Kingdom parades. I hope they bring back the traditional way to see them soon but maybe keep the bonus appearances because the boys just loved that!
8. Please explain Genie + and if it’s worth it to have it – First tip is – you already get GENIE in the app but GENIE+ is an add on feature. We didn’t use Genie+ until we got to Animal Kingdom because it was a bit overwhelming with everything else going on. I’m really glad we ended up figuring it out because we got to do a lot of really cool things because of it. Genie+ is accessed through the My Disney Experience app (a must have in my opinion) and it helps you gain access to a lightning lane pass for rides/experiences you really want to do. On the app there is an option between tip board and Genie+. The tip board is a projection of wait times which we used a lot. If we had some extra time before going on another ride we would look at the tip board and see if something near us had a low wait time. Genie+ is the only way we would have been able to do Avatar, the Kilamajaro Safari, and Peter Pan. Those wait times were upwards of 70-115 minute wait times some times. I’m going to link a video here to explain more of how it works. CLICK HERE TO WATCH If you want to ride some of the “big ticket” rides without the long wait times, it’s definitely worth it!
9. What would you do differently next trip? I wouldn’t change to much but I would do these 3 things – Use Genie+ for each day and budget for it, use park transportation for each day (our crazy selves decided to drive for the first couple days), do more pin trading!
10. What were your boys favorite things to do?
Henry – Riding Test track, seeing Mickey and Gaston, and watching the fireworks
Finn – Riding Avatar, seeing Goofy, eating cool food (street tacos, donut from Joffrey’s, and dole whip)
Jax – Seeing Donald and Mickey, riding the alien ride, and his bubble machine
I hope all of this was helpful, I’m sure I will be doing another one sometime soon so if I missed something you want to know, leave a comment and I’ll include that in the next one!