Interesting enough, when I first told some friends (with twins) that I was taking my girls to Disney before their third birthday, I was told more than a few times that I was insane. Not crazy. Certifiably insane.
“TWO TWO year olds at Disney World? No. It’s a bad idea.”
“You realize you will carry them 99% of the time and they WON’T remember a damn thing about the trip, right?”
“Just because they get in free this year does not make it worth it.”
“You will need WAY more help than your husband, mom and MIL. It’s not going to work.”
HA. HA I tell you.
We not only survived but EVERY single one of us had a blast. Even my husband who complained about the trip beforehand because he would lose 4 potential hunting days.
My kids loved it. They are talking about it every day. When they are 8, I don’t think they will truly remember any details but they will know we went. They will have the pictures. And, more importantly, I will have the memories.
There is nothing sweeter than seeing your daughter the first time she lays eyes on her favorite princess. Or the first time she gets to hold Mickey’s hands. There’s nothing like hearing your two year old say in a super timid voice “Mommy, I want Ariel to sing for us.”
And there is NOTHING like seeing your daughters kiss Donald Duck and then, 20 minutes later, while meeting Daisy Duck, tell her “We kissed Donald!”
That’s not to say there aren’t some things I wouldn’t have done differently. Here’s my different list:
1) Although I did like our hotel well enough, I doubt I will stay there again. Art of Animation is ok. The suites are suitable for a family with a mom and dad and a few kids. But adding my mom and MIL to the mix made the suite seem SUPER small. Even though Disney claims 6 adults can stay in these suites, I would not have more than 2 adults and, at max, 4 kids. It’s a value hotel, which is fine, you get a room and such for a cheaper price than some of the other hotels but it’s not a really nice hotel. You walk into what looks a lot like a college dorm when you get to the building where your room is. Sure, there’s paintings on the walls but it’s not anything to write home about. The lobby was nice. The food was pretty good. But next time I think we will stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge suites or the suites in the Bay Tower at the Contemporary.
2) Fast Passes. Although it worked out just fine, I think I could have scheduled them better. You generally needed more time to get from attraction to attraction. Especially in Hollywood Studios. We had a 10 am fast pass and an 11 am fast pass. What I neglected to consider was the timing of the actual show for which we had the fast pass. The 10 am fast pass show ended at 5 or 10 til 11 which meant we had only 5 minutes to get from one end of the park to the next (For reference, our shows were the 10 am Frozen Sing Along and the 11 am Disney Junior show). We made it. But it was stressful.
3) Time in the parks. Everyone…and I mean EVERYONE told me that Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were really half day parks. No need to spend a full day. Which is probably true for certain age groups. However, I have 2 year olds. 2 year olds LOVE Dino Land. They want to meet Donald and Daisy and Pluto and Goofy. And they would also love safari animals. Basically, we ended up spending only 3 hours at AK and and HS when we could have done a full day at each because of their ages. At AK, we only were able to go to Dino Land and do the character meets. Then we had to leave because we had something planned at MK at 2 (The girls’ lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table). At HS we were only able to do the two shows and meet Sofia. There was so much more I think we all would have liked to have done.
4) Meals. You have to schedule character meals 6 months in advance. And sometimes, even at 6 months out, you can’t get your preferred times. We had to go to Cinderella’s at 2:20 on Sunday. I would have preferred a more normal lunch time like noon so it wasn’t during our normal nap time. But it is what it is. We had a reservation at Be Our Guest on Tuesday at 1. That wasn’t horrible but we did have to leave HS early to get there. Next time I think I will plan park days around meal plans. It’ll be a lot easier.
As for things you shouldn’t miss….if you have kids the ages of mine make sure you do these things:
1) Chef Mickey’s. If you can only do one character meal, do this one.
2) The carousel. I know I know. It’s not a ride that you would think would be that amazing but my kids love horses and going in circles. We rode it no less than 5 times. I think it was probably closer to 7.
3) Enchanted Tales with Belle. You just have to go to it to understand why it’s so great. But go.
4) The Memory maker. It’s expensive. $150 for unlimited downloads of every picture the photo pass photographers take of your group. But it is WORTH it. Photo pass photogs took over 300 pictures of my group. If you download them individually they would be $10 each. There were definitely more than 15 that I wanted. Plus it saved me from having to pull out my camera constantly.
5) A fast pass for your kid’s favorite princess(es). For us it was Anna and Elsa. And I would have paid money for that fast pass so I could see the looks on my kids faces. I don’t know that I would have waited in a 2+hour line though.
6) The Finding Nemo ride at Epcot. Epcot is not a “kid” park – at least not a preschooler park. But that ride and the aquarium that you can visit near it is perfect for kids. My girls LOVED it.