Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Disney World {Day 1: EPCOT}

I'm finally getting around to sharing some photos this week from our Disney World trip in December.
It was such a fun time, probably the most fun I've had on a vacation! EXHAUSTING - but fun!
Seeing everything through Chase's eyes was something I'll never forget.
We flew out early on a Sunday morning, and the boys did great. Chase was so entertained just being on the plane (his first flight) and also played some on the iPad. Will nursed, fell asleep and when he woke up was a wiggle worm, but in a great mood. Thank you Lord!
 We stayed on Disney property at the Wilderness Lodge. It had a rustic log cabin feel and the decorations at Christmas time were so beautiful!
We had an extra day built into our trip, but also had a 5th park ticket if we wanted to use thanks to a deal we found.
We planned to play it by ear and see how the traveling went, how the boys were doing, etc.
We got in around noon to the hotel, changed into some warm weather clothes from our carry on and decided to head to Epcot for the afternoon and evening!
 Chase didn't know we had bunk beds until we arrived, he loved sleeping on the top bunk all week!
We took a ferry boat to Magic Kingdom from the Lodge.
Arriving at Epcot:

Pluto was Chase's first character experience. He was LOVING it!

We rented a double stroller for the week, and it was the first time Will was in a "big boy" stroller.
He did great, even napping some in it!
 His face when he spotted Goofy!
Meeting Minnie Mouse


Epcot was a fun "first day" park to visit. It wasn't a late night for us since we had traveled, and we didn't leave feeling like we still had a ton to see.
Park Tips:
I plan to sprinkle in some basic Disney information and tips I found while planning the trip with kiddos. Since this is the first park post, I'll include my top 10 Disney tips as well and then some Epcot specific ones. We did purchase a couple of guide books including this one, which we really liked. This one was also great because it was focused on planning a trip with kids.
My #1 tip? Use fast pass! And if you are staying on Disney property and have the fast pass plus, schedule your rides beforehand. Download the apps and research which rides you want to do. I wasn't sure I wanted to have my entire day planned out like that, especially with kids and needing to take a break mid-day - but you can only schedule up to 3 at a time so it isn't too overwhelming. A lot of times we'd go check out a ride we had a fast pass for and if the line wasn't long we'd ride it then and change our fast pass for another ride later on in the day.
#2: Rider switch pass. This is a MUST to utilize if you are there with babies/small kids that do not want to/can't ride certain rides. Wes rode with Chase while I hung back with Will. When they got off the ride I hopped right back on with Chase and passed Will off to Wes. Chase got to ride so many of his favorite rides twice, sometimes more!
#3: Pack snacks! If you know me, I get a little (ahem!) cranky when I'm hungry, especially in a setting like Disney when I don't really know what the plan for my next meal is. Yes, I'm one of those people who thinks about dinner while I'm eating lunch! (1st world problems) We brought a small suitcase full of snacks for each day (and then used that suitcase for souvenirs on the way home). Juice boxes, crackers, baby food pouches, nuts, pretzels, fruit leather, squeeze applesauce and powdered stuff to make water taste more exciting. (You can ask for a cup of water almost anywhere instead of paying $3-$4 for a bottle!) Wes and I shared some meals. I ordered a kid's meal a few times too because the portions were so large.
#4: Take a break. It is a LONG day. If ever I were to fall off my no caffeine wagon, it would have been this trip. Chase doesn't nap - but he did a few days at Disney once back in the hotel. On the days he didn't, we just turned off the lights and rested or watched a show. You'll be recharged when you head back to the park for the evening!
#5: Bring a stroller. Chase wouldn't have made it without one, even at almost 5. SO much walking! We didn't want to buy a double stroller just for the trip, so we rented one for the week from A Baby's Best Friend. I can't say enough about them. We rented a double city mini. They sent me a text the morning we left and I replied to it once we had our room number. They hand delivered the stroller to our room 30 minutes later! It's nice because it reclined (unlike the park rental strollers), Will napped in it a few times, and it had tons of storage. The company also rents other baby/kid items like swings and cribs. (By the way if you stay on Disney property a pack n play is included for you, and sometimes they even have a standard crib)
#6: If you have a baby/young toddler, bring a carrier/sling. The Ergo has been my favorite thing since day 1 with Will. He sleeps in it like a champ and took almost all of his naps in it. I wore him in the front and on my back. It was invaluable on this trip.
#7: Research the rides you want to ride and what you think your child can handle. For example, Chase rode Splash Mountain with no problem but was terrified during A Bug's Life and left 3 minutes in. Some rides sound fun and movie-based but in reality are a whole different experience. Also know your child's height before going. Babies can ride anything that doesn't have a height restriction. Some rides Will rode include Peter Pan, Aladdin's Magic Carpet, Nemo, Ariel's Under the Sea ride. (It's a Small World was closed and reopened the day we left)
#8: Bring comfy shoes and dress in layers. The weather can change quickly. We went mid-December and a few mornings called for sweatshirts for a bit and then t-shirt and shorts the other times.
#9: Schedule your character meals ahead of time. You can schedule them up to 180 before your trip, and many fill up fast. We had lunch with the Pooh gang at the Crystal Palace. It eats up some of your time, but it's still a great way to meet characters while taking a break, sitting down and resting.
#10: RELAX, and go with the flow. With kiddos, you have to wing it. Planning your day minute by minute will make you miserable. I'm a planner but knew this trip was about Chase and Will and making sure they were enjoying themselves and not worrying about seeing it all. It's just not possible.
EPCOT Specific Info:
Epcot is the least kid-friendly park, and the lines to meet the characters on the night we were there were non-existent. (It wasn't crowded in general)
We literally walked right up to the Character Greeting Spot and met Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. Pluto was standing near the entrance and we were second in line to meet him.
Rides we loved:
Soarin' - a hang glider simulator that flies over areas of California. This was my favorite ride there. Chase rode twice thanks to the rider switch pass.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends: you ride in a little shell under the sea looking for Nemo
Turtle Talk with Crush - a cute interactive show starring Crush from Finding Nemo
They also had one of the largest souvenir shops that I remember seeing.

More on the trip coming tomorrow!


The Beckers said...

Such great tips, Erin! Thanks for sharing them! We are thinking about going this winter. I had no idea I could rent a stroller - how convenient!

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