We’d only done the fair pre-COVID and L wasn’t a big fan of rides then so we weren’t sure how much he would like Disney. But, we went for it anyway and planned a somewhat last-minute trip to make some special memories with our kiddo — before he became a big brother. And guess what? HE LOVED IT and (still) hasn’t stopped talking about it.
We used a planner who I had contacted sometime last year — and thankfully she was persistent in reaching out to see if we were ready to plan something. Once we had our first call — things moved quickly. We highly recommend using Lori!
She booked our tickets for the parks and made our reservations, she gave us options of hotels (though limited due to our last minute planning) — we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort — and she gave us a run down of rides and strategy to do all the things.
We planned a very quick trip — 3 park days — and honestly, while it was a lot to pack in, I don’t know that any of us left feeling like we needed more days. Although, I do understand why people build in extra time for either park hopping or a day to relax at the resort / pool though.
A few other details: we drove instead of flying. Since we were planning with only about a month’s notice, flights were close to $700 round trip for each of us and we decided we could just drive and stop halfway each way and stay over at a hotel where we have points (thank goodness for all that work travel we used to do!!). We stayed in St. Augustine on the way down and in Santee, South Carolina on the way back.
Day 1 — Hollywood Studios
The boys were excited for the Star Wars rides here, I was excited for Toy Story and L was insistent that he wanted to do the Tower of Terror. We took the sky liner over to Hollywood Studios and booked Star Wars on Genie + for our first ride.
I actually couldn’t ride that one but I enjoyed sitting down and chugging water while the boys rode. Landon wanted to do The Adventure Continues after Rise of the Resistance so he rode that one solo. Then we walked around to get the lay of the land while we also waited for our next chance to book a genie+ ride.
I found a Starbucks which made me happy. L got a cake pop which made him happy. We decided to do a show after that — Frozen — which allowed us to sit for a few minutes. Shortly after the show, it started pouring down rain so we sought shelter under an awning at a nearby restaurant. Ponchos were a life saver.
The rain didn’t stop. It was a full-on thunderstorming for hours. We managed to get food through the app and found a seat after waiting for a bit. No sign of the rain letting up but L had been adamant he wanted to ride the Tower of Terror so he and Landon went to get in line. We had been trying to get genie+ for it but never could (without it being like 8 pm) so they decided to wait.
The line was approximately 2 hours long. Which left me standing under awnings or in stores to avoid the rain during that time. I’m impressed a 5 year old stuck it out in the line for that long but he was the most sure he wanted to ride that ride. I watched — and heard the screaming — and could not imagine he loved it the way he thought he would. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. He would appreciate a warning before the drops (lol) but I’m super proud of him for doing it and sticking it out in that weather.
A lot of the other rides we wanted to do were closed because of the weather — like the Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster.
We were all pretty tired by then anyway — close to 4:30 pm — so we decided to head back to the hotel. The sky liner was closed due to lightning so we had to take a bus — which was fine and easy.
The rain ended up clearing in the evening so we had dinner at the hotel and then the boys got in the pool. L went down his first water slide and we were SO PROUD. Overall, day one was a success!
Day 2 — Epcot
We were all well-rested and ready to roll for Epcot. This was probably my and Landon’s favorite — the food, the drinks (for Landon) and the rides were all excellent. I could do much more here than the day before. Our first ride was Frozen and we all loved it.
We did Ratatouille next and the parents really enjoyed it. So far our child has maintained that he didn’t like feeling like a rat and it was scary and dark. This was a popular ride and had a very long line but we had used our Genie+ for it so we went thru quickly.
The weather was also a gazillion times better on day 2. In the 60s when we started out in the morning which was a nice change — and no rain in the forecast.
We headed to Nemo and the aquarium next and also checked out the butterfly garden while over that way. We also did Living with the Land while there and that was maybe Landon’s favorite.
The boys did the Test Track ride while I took a much needed sitting break. I clocked almost 20k steps that day and my feet were TIRED. Luckily, I avoided getting too swollen while there. Afterwards, we decided to do another relatively calm ride and we rode Soarin’. This was probably my favorite and L’s least favorite. He was convinced the bird was going to hit us and closed his eyes for the rest of the ride.
Afterwards we got ready for our dinner reservation at The Coral Reef restaurant and Landon ran off for one more ride. Dinner was fantastic though L was pretty done by that point and just wanted to go back to the hotel. I am not above bribery so I offered popcorn and a Mickey ice cream on the way out of the park.
Day 3 — Magic Kingdom
This was L’s favorite (no surprise) and he was a champ for most of the day. We got there early (you can go early if you’re staying at a Disney resort) and got to move through the line pretty quickly due to having a stroller.
They did let us in before the actual time but then everyone got held up just past the castle until actual opening time. TBH, it was a little claustrophobic and we kept our masks on.
We rode Peter Pan first per our planner’s recommendation and then hopped over to it’s a small world. We booked Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with genie+ but L decided he didn’t want to do it so Landon did it solo. We all rode The Little Mermaid Journey ride and enjoyed it.
We moved into Adventureland where we did the Jungle Cruise (so fun!) and the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. I wanted someone to do the Pirates of the Caribbean ride but certain folks were getting hangry around that time so we decided to get lunch and then ride more. We got reservations that morning at the Jungle Canteen and honestly, it was probably my favorite food.
We walked around a lot and saw several parades (and admired the castle from all angles) before heading to Splash Mountain. L said he absolutely did not want to do it so Landon went to do it on his own but then L decided he DID want to do it so I had to go passing a bunch of people in line to get my 5-year old up with his dad. He ended up not being a fan after all.
They did the Tomorrowland Speedway and it was a big hit. Landon rode Space Mountain solo and then we all went to the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor show. That was probably our least favorite of all three days.
We had dinner reservations at Tony’s the Italian Restaurant after that so we headed back towards the gates (it’s right by the entrance). There ended up being a parade right in front when we got there so we got to see that before sitting down to eat. Tony’s was delicious — but not as adventurous at the canteen.
We didn’t stick around for fireworks because we were exhausted. L didn’t even ask about them until we were back at the resort. He got to play in the pool again so he was happy.
I forgot to mention ALL THE STORES. We told him on day 1 that he could pick one thing at each park to purchase and that was it (otherwise we would have had a stroller full of toys). He picked an ornament, a shirt and some Star Wars toys over the course of our trip.
While we don’t identify as “Disney people” we had SO much fun and made some really beautiful memories. I’m extremely glad that we decided to go and that we went when we did. I’m also extremely glad that I am the type of person who not only prepares but OVER prepares — so I had everything we needed on the trip (as Landon said, just in case there were no stores in Orlando). Some of my must haves are:
- Bob stroller (easy to maneuver and reclines for naps — he took ONE NAP)
- Ponchos / rain jacket for L
- extra shoes (our shoes were so wet from the storms!)
- Tylenol, allergy meds, bandaids and other first aid supplies
- Anti-chaffing stick (I was pregnant and walking around for 10 hours)
- Hats, sunscreen, sunglasses and chapstick
- Extra clothes for the water rides
- Snacks!!! (we took Cliff bars, energy nut packs, dried fruit and jerky)
- Reusable water bottles for all 3 of us
We also had wristbands which made it very easy to pay for things and check into rides. Highly recommend!
Little L is still confused as to why I didn’t go to Disney all the time when I was in school in Florida because he says he “definitely would go like every day.’ I’m so glad he loved it and made those special core memories. Not sure we’ll go back (maybe once when baby is like 5) but it sure was a wonderful experience to have with him.