There was a time when DH and I had Walt Disney World yearly passes. As the park prices have increased every year, and we now have Emma related and household related expenses, we are no longer Season Pass Holders. However, we still visit a couple times each year.
Why do I love Disney World? Let me count the ways...
Saturday morning we left our hotel room around 7:30 a.m. After a nice breakfast (our hotel had a full-breakfast buffet) we headed to the park. Because we didn't pre-plan our weekend more than 2 weeks in advance, we weren't able to stay on Disney property. In the past, we've taken advantage of the Disney resorts. Though the resorts do not include breakfast, they do include free transportation to and from the Disney theme parks. (And we can usually get a Florida resident discount, making the resorts even more affordable.) This time, since we weren't at a Disney resort, we drove ourselves to the Magic Kingdom.
Once there, we caught the "Disney Tram" to the Magic Kingdom ticketing area. This is reason 1 why I love Disney. The parking lots are HUGE and are extremely far from the theme park areas. Disney has Trams to shuttle people to the parks...especially wonderful at the end of the day when we're tired and have the we've-been-walking-around-Disney-all-day feet!
At the ticket area there are 2 options of transport to get to the actual Magic Kingdom: Ferryboat or Monorail. Reason 2: The transportation lines are timely and transport dozens of people at one time. And the view of Cinderella's Castle as you approach from either the Ferryboat or Monorail is wonderful and helps add to the anticipation of spending a day at the Kingdom. Emma chose the Ferryboat. It was chilly and windy, but a sunny and beautiful ride.
View of Cinderella's Castle from the Ferry Boat to the Magic Kingdom
Once at the Kingdom, we entered and were greeted by Cast Members. Reason 3 I love Disney is because nearly all of the Cast Members refer to Emma (and all little girls, of course!) as "Princess" all day long. "Good morning, Princess!" "How did you enjoy the ride, Princess," etc. Em loooves this: "Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be a princess with my own castle."
We then watched several cast members dancing and singing, "Right Down the Middle of Main Street, U.S.A." Em and DH (and okay, me too) found it humorous when the horse pulling the trolley car dropped a load.
The royal horse poop
The horse responsible for the royal poo
Em was tickled when the cast members on the train waved and smiled at her.
Em on the porch of Minne Mouse's house
I had to punish DH after discovering the horse poo photo...
Em and Daddy after she rode Thunder Mountain for the first time. Em is exactly 40 inches tall and was ecstatic to be able to ride Thunder Mountain. It is the largest roller coaster she has ever been on. Prior to the ride, DH was concerned that Em might be scared. Not me. I figured she would love the rides. Luckily, I was right. Em screamed with joy the whole ride and enthusiastically responded, "I wanna go on that again!" before the ride was over. Reason 4 why I love Disney: The rides are so well done. From the atmosphere while waiting in line to the cast members outfits that correlate with each ride, everything coordinates into a very appealing package. I also love that the "wait time" is posted outside of the attractions, making it easy to determine whether or not you want to join the line, or wait until later. Disney also has an awesome "Fast Pass" feature that allows guests to get guaranteed passes for rides that have a long wait. For example, at 10 a.m. when the Buzz Lightyear ride was really crowded, we got Fast Passes which guaranteed that we could quickly get on the ride between 1 and 2 p.m.
Em got to pose with Alice. This was also Em's first time with an autograph book for characters to sign. Emma seemed to enjoy getting their signatures. Reason 5: The cast members portray their characters in a manner that depicts their cartoon versions in a true-to-life manner. Example, Alice asked Emma, "You seem rather small, did you eat mushrooms for breakfast?" :)
After hugging and posing with Donald Duck, (I don't have pics. Oops!) Em freaked out when it was our turn to meet with Buzz Lightyear, so DH got Buzz's autograph for her.
We made reservations for lunch at the Crystal Palace restaurant, so that we could dine with the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Reason 6: The layout and decor throughout the park are fabulous. From the "Mickeys" on the manhole covers to the plants, landscaping and decor (such as above) the Disney parks are beautiful.
Though she looks happy here, this is where Emma spent most of the lunchtime. Yup...under the table. SCARED of the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet characters. Bummer.
I posed with Tigger since Emma wouldn't. :)
Each visit to Disney World, we discover something new. This time, DH and I discovered side-by-side massage chairs. We took advantage while Em was sleeping in her stroller for a mid-day nap. The $$ was soooo worth it! (By the way, we have the Disney-day down to a science. Em rarely takes naps when home with us for the weekend. However, at Disney she knows she won't be allowed/able to stay up late for the parade and fireworks unless she takes a nap during the day. So we recline her stroller and walk around while Emma "rests." Eventually she falls asleep. Thus far, this has worked during each of the three times we've had Emma at Disney World. Makes for a wonderful cranky-free night!)
Though the pic is blurry, my massage was great!
Em snoozed for a good hour. It was awesome! (Note the clip-on Mickey earrings we found. She was very excited by this purchase.)
Em and I waiting in line to meet the princesses. Reason 7: Though usually a 30-40 minute wait in line to meet and pose with the princesses (fairies or other characters are also available for meet-and-greet sessions) I love that they truly spend time with each guest. Each princess hugs Emma, speaks to her for a few minutes, signs her autograph book, and then poses for photos. I also appreciate that they have professional photos taken, but allow guests to capture their own photographs as well.
This was the first time we met Snow White. Em was very happy about this!
Em posing with Cinderella
DH and I agreed that Aurora seemed reaaally tall compared to our last visit. She must have had a growth spurt. ;)
First float in the night-time Spectralight Parade. Em loved the parade! Sadly my camera batteries died, so I didn't get many other pics. Reason 8: The last cast members in Disney parades are workers who reel in the ropes which restrict the crowd from going into the street. This means that literally as soon as the parade is over, guests are able to circulate throughout the park without delay. As with everything else Disney World related, the parades are also well done. The music is piped in through the speaker system, the floats are high enough that even though we were standing 4-5 people back, we could still see them clearly. (Em was on DH's shoulders.)
The glass slipper is a perfect fit! (From the mosaic inside Cinderella's Castle)
Cinderella and Prince Charming ride away to live happily ever after.
Reason 9: Disney has their own recycling center on property. Enough said.
Reason 10: The cleanliness. The parks are extremely clean. It is rare to see garbage, as cast members constantly circulate with brooms/trash collectors to pick up whatever scraps might be on the ground. I have NEVER been in a Disney restroom that was dirty...and they ALWAYS have seat covers for the potty (wonderful since Em is still too little not to sit on the potty!)
Special Occasions: Last but not least, I love Disney because they make it easy to celebrate special occasions. Inside "City Hall" on Main Street, guests can receive free badges that say "1st time visitor," "Happy Birthday," "Honeymooners," etc. Pretty neat!
As we were driving to Orlando, she spotted a star, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wished I was going to Disney World, and now I'm going!"
After riding Splash Mountain, Emma was singing "Zoopity doo dah, zoopity day..." Who needs "Zip?"
This morning we went to Downtown Disney (an area with shops and restaurants) before returning to Jacksonville.
Em and DH pose with a Clone Trooper made entirely of Legos at the Lego Store.
Em spent nearly 20 minutes creating a Lego car to drive up and down the racing ramp.
Em and Daddy put the finishing touches on the Lego car
Emma was SUPER excited when her car made it all the way to the end of the track.
Em poses with her finished Lego Mobile.
We ended the day with a trip to World of Disney. This giant store has TONS of Disney World clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and toys. After nearly an hour in the store, Em picked out an Ariel Barbie-type doll. Then we left to return home. Overall, it was a great visit! The weekend get away was a stellar way to rejuvenate!
9 hours ago