Wow! What a whirlwind! We had a ball. Fourteen people taking over Orlando and hitting up 4 of the Disney parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
We were able to get 6 tickets at a huge discount at Shades of Green (my step-dad is military) – if one member of your party is – definitely recommend this to save HUGE $$! The rest we bought at AAA (and we got Diamond Parking passes which just means you get to park in a special lot).
We rented a very nice house with a pool in the community of Emerald Island – just about 4 miles (but at minimum 15 minutes drive) to the parks. The house was great – the kids got to swim most every day/night – so that was nice.
We did each park proud and didn’t miss much at all. Our kids were the perfect age: 7 and 9. They were able to ride every ride. And they were keen to do so. They weren’t so much into meeting the characters – which was probably a good thing – the lines for photos and autographs were usually unreal.
Our favorites: It’s Tough to be a Bug (4D movie), Rock N Roller Coaster (Aerosmith one – we did this one twice), Tower of Terror (Brodie was so mad that we couldn’t ride this one twice, Everest, Talking Turtle, Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory (we laughed so hard at this one – fantastic).
We were also traveling with seasoned Disney pros! And that was great – because having someone who knows the tips and tricks is key. Fast passes are excellent – and working them into your schedule is a must.
Yes, we went to Florida in late July/early August. Yes, it was hot but not unbearable. There’s enough inside to do/see that we were able to get cool more often than not. We froze bottles of water and Go Gurts and took them to the park – definitely a great idea. We took snacks but with the heat, the kids didn’t feel like eating much at all.
Pins: our friend hooked up all the kids with starter pins and lanyards – super sweet! I had no idea what to expect with this but quickly learned. You trade pins with many of the employees throughout all of the parks. TIP: if you really want to get into this – have a collection in mind so that you’re trading with purpose. After the 2nd day I asked Cooper what he was collecting and he said “Anything with a big head.” Cool. Also, grab a plastic baggie (freezer types are more sturdy) to hold the lanyard in and make for easy grabbing when the kids spot someone to trade with. We found that the backs fall off easily and you could lose pins if you’re not careful.
Trinkets and Souvenirs: there are tons of places outside the parks that sell everything – we just happened to be in Walmart and found a huge selection of Disney t-shirts, key chains, stuffed toys, etc. at a fraction of the cost inside the parks.
Now, for the Best Photo EVER!!
We took literally thousands of photos – this one I took on my phone and very quickly since we turned around and saw the characters with no line. I never actually looked at it until later that night…but boy when I did, I nearly peed my pants.
Please write your best caption for this one and post in comments below – we’ll pick a winner!
About Dani Gurrie
Dani Gurrie is the founder of Tots2Tweens, a wife to Ashley and mom to Cooper and Brodie. She spends most of her days trying to find the ultimate kids-related thing that mom's will love...just to share it with her world.