* Travel Hacking a Trip to Florida
* Vacation music video
* Disney's Contemporary Resort Review
* Hyatt Daytona Beach Review
* Part 1: Getting There, Poolside and Chef Mickey's
Part 2: Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
During our trip planning phase, we decided to just spend one day in the theme parks and the rest of our time doing resort activities. Walking around the parks during the summer heat and crowds is not our favorite, and we've gotten so spoiled with Disney Cruises that more than a day or two in the parks is brutal and exhausting. So Friday was our one day in the parks.
Six months prior to our trip, we asked the kids which park they wanted to go to (we had to make our dining reservations six months in advance). I really wanted to give my middle son a chance to participate in the Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios since he is a Star Wars fan and hadn't done it before (my older son has done it twice). My older son decided to go to Hollywood Studios with his dad and brother, while I would take my daughter to the Magic Kingdom to see the castle and princesses.
My daughter Alyssa had only been to the Magic Kingdom once, and it was before our first cruise in June 2012 when she was just 20 months old. So she didn't remember her experience, but she had seen commercials for Disney World on the Disney Channel (curse you, Disney!!!) and she was super excited to visit the park.
There was no way I was going to visit this park with my daughter without eating at Cinderella's Royal Table inside the castle! I made a breakfast reservation at 8:05 a.m. (which is almost an hour before the park opens). My family has done these early breakfast reservations before at the Crystal Palace, but this was my first time at Cinderella's Royal Table.
I had showered the night before so that I could get ready quickly in the morning. Alyssa ate a Poptart in the room. We left our room around 7:00 a.m. to catch the monorail around the loop to the Magic Kingdom.
On the monorail, looking at the Contemporary Resort at sunrise:
Guests with early breakfast reservations are allowed into the park before it opens. On previous trips, we've been allowed to enter as early as 7:30 a.m. On this day, we were allowed in around 7:45 a.m. We had plenty of time to take photos without the large crowds and have a leisurely walk down main street.
Me and my girl in front of the castle:
We checked in to the Royal Table a few minutes before our reservation.
We went inside and met Cinderella downstairs before going upstairs for breakfast.
Meals at this restaurant must be pre-paid during the reservation process (including gratuity). It was nice to just sit back and enjoy the experience. Our server first brought out some pastries, including muffins shaped like Mickey.
I ordered a goat cheese quiche, and Alyssa had one of the kids' breakfast choices. I don't remember what it was because she did not eat a single bite of her meal.
We were done with our meal and had met 5 princesses before 9:00 a.m.. By the time we left the restaurant, the general public had just started entering Fantasyland.
My strategy for the day was to ride as many rides in Fantasyland as possible in the morning, and I scheduled our Fast Pass + rides 60 days in advance for the early afternoon. This strategy paid off, as we were able to ride everything in Fantasyland before noon.
We started with the Pooh ride, followed by Enchanted Tales with Belle. This was our first time in this attraction. Alyssa played the role of the Dancing Dishes. It was a cute experience.
We rode Dumbo (one of the only ride photos I have, because I don't take photos or videos on rides as a general rule).
While we were in the Storybook Circus area riding Dumbo and Goofy's Barnstormer, we noticed there were no lines to see Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy. So we saw them all.
We ran into Pooh and Tigger, so we stopped.
On our way to lunch, there was a dance party going on in front of the castle, and Alyssa got pulled into the street by a bear to dance. She was surprised by it, and just started dancing!
I had made us a lunch reservation at The Plaza restaurant. I like to make lunch reservations at the parks when it's hot outside, because eating in an indoor, air-conditioned place with no lines feels SO GOOD. We were really rejuvenated after our lunch.
The Plaza restaurant has lots of ice cream dishes for dessert, since it's located next door to the ice cream parlor.
After lunch, we had Fast Pass + for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We both loved the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride! It might be my new favorite ride.
It was around 3:00 p.m. and I figured we would call it a day and head back to the hotel pool. But Alyssa wanted to keep going and go on more rides. So I went to a Fast Pass + kiosk and got a fast pass for the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. It was so hot that we went inside to see the Tiki Room show. I kept returning to the kiosks for more fast passes, and we went on the Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, and the People Mover.
At some point in the afternoon, we stopped to play at the Laughing Place, a well-hidden, shaded playground near Splash Mountain.
We left the park around 10:00 p.m. as the fireworks were about to start. The monorail zipped us back to our hotel in about 2 minutes, and we watched some of the fireworks from the 4th floor. Alyssa started to fall asleep, so we went back to the room and she crashed hard. What a long day, but so fun! We had successfully dodged the long lines (our longest wait was 25 minutes) and enjoyed our day despite the heat and crowds!
The boys had a totally different day at Hollywood Studios. They ate Poptarts in the room supplemented by yogurt and juice I had purchased from the Contempo Cafe the night before and stored them in our room refrigerator. They arrived at the park shortly before opening at 9:00 a.m. and headed to get the boys signed up for the Jedi Training Academy. (Note that my husband takes a lot fewer photos than I usually do).
They made it to the sign-up for earlier shows, but due to conflicts with their lunch reservation and their Fast Pass + times, they had to be moved to the 5:00 p.m. Jedi Training Academy show.
The boys rode Star Tours 4 times with no wait.
They ate lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, our favorite!
Their only character photo:
At a show:
There aren't a lot of rides left at Hollywood Studios...many have closed down. Rumor has it that in the next few weeks, Disney will be making an announcement about an overhaul at the park. But for that day, they had a lot of time to peruse the gift shops.
Finally, it was time for their show! (see our music video for the real action)
I'm so glad that Joshua got to experience this!
The boys wandered around in the rain without an umbrella, and decided to stay for dinner and the Fantasmic show.
At the Fantasmic show:
They got to see some Frozen fireworks after the Fantasmic show and arrived back to the room not much longer after we did. They were also at the park from opening until closing. It was a long, tiring day for all of us! Brian and I were thankful that the next day's plans were a little more laid back.
Up next: The reunion and Beaches and Cream.