Ross and I hadn't been on a bona-fide vacation since our honeymoon to Texas in 2010. We'd had a few weekend getaways, but nothing that was really spectacular. After having a few very emotional months (both my mother and his grandmother passed away in 2013) we really wanted to do something special for ourselves last year. So, we planned to head to Disney during the week of Ross's birthday. He'd been there before, but I never had. As the date of our departure approached, I turned into one of those little kids in the commercials I grew up with. "I CAN'T SLEEP!" We took the advice of several friends and carefully planned out our meals in advance, but were willing to "play it by ear" for most everything else. I just wanted to explore the Happiest Place on Earth!
The weather was beautiful. Other than a few sprinkles that Tuesday morning, we experienced pleasantly hot temperatures, usually in the mid-eighties or above. (What a shock when we came back home to 40 degrees and cloudy skies!)
|Geek gathering grounds...|
|I'm the short one, in case you can't tell.|
|Nope. No Time Lords here...|
|Nothing like a man in a vest...|
|LJS will never live up to this.|
|Reppin' the T.A.R.D.I.S.|
|Dave, Katie and their cute little girls!|
|She-Ra, eat your heart out.|
|He wears a fez now. |
Fezzes are cool.
Days for and five saw our return to Epcot, after a quick stop back at Hollywood Studios to ride the Toy Story arcade game (Ross kicked my butt when it came to high scores). In Epcot, I was encouraged by the skywriting (see below) we saw over the park, though I know some people were probably irritated or offended. I thought it was cool. We finished our rounds at the Food & Wine Festival and met up with yet another old buddy - my former Starbucks co-worker, Jen!
|Unexpected and neat. :-)|
When we finally had to pack up our bags and say "bye-bye" to that famous mouse, I admit, I was ready to go home, but already thinking about returning to the park with our future children. I was so impressed at how kid-friendly the park really is, with bathrooms on every corner, stroller "parking lots" and lots of kid-approved food that isn't all junk. We'd like to come back when our kids are over three - which is great, because it will take us that long to save up again!
|So, not the next King of England. |
No biggie. Still the king of my heart!
In conclusion, here are my tips for folks who are considering a trip to Disney anytime soon. I'm certainly no travel guru, but I learned a few things that week!
1. Take advantage of the meal plan. The portions are large; you can split meals with family. If you're not hungry, you can "save" meals to eat later, or grab "to-go" food instead of eating at sit-down restaurants. That being said, if there's a place you'd really like to try, book your dining reservation in advance! We're talking like 3 months in advance. No joke; when we tried to make changes a few weeks before our trip, there were no reservations available in the entire park!
2. Wear comfortable shoes. That seems like a no-brainer, but I brought shoes that I thought were comfortable, only to learn that they weren't really appropriate for 12 hours of walking in the hot sun.
3. Pick a time of year that the park will be less crowded. According to our inside man, Dave, the park is practically devoid of life from the week after Thanksgiving until right before Christmas. Our October visit was pretty nice, too.
4. Let the park employees take your picture! Yes, it's expensive, but you don't have to buy any shots you don't like, plus your whole group actually gets to be in them, rather than taking awkward selfies in front of Cinderella's castle (trust me, they won't work very well).
|Hulk SMASH the|
6. Take advantage of Magic Bands (they serve as room keys, identification, tokens, and allow purchases to be made) and Fast Passes. I can't stress this enough! Ross and I joked that the seemingly limitless capabilities of the Magic Bands made them Disney's version of the Mark of the Beast, but they were extremely helpful in navigating the parks and allowed us to focus on fun, not where our key cards had been left, or where our credit cards were. Fast Passes allow quick access to certain rides during certain times. Consider getting the MyDisneyExperience app for your phone as well, which allows you to make and cancel reservations, gives to real-time wait times in all the parks, lets you know about special events, and allows you to book up to three Fast Passes per guest per day in advance. It also serves as GPS when you're within the park.
6. There's no shame in dressing like your favorite character. No matter how old you are!