Impromptu and one-year-old? That’s not in my vocabulary.
I had so many people tell me that toddlerhood, particularly under age two, is the BEST time to take kids to Disney. They might not remember it, but I would. I would remember her excitement, and wonder, and smiles. While this is true, I have to be honest and say it comes at a cost. And I’m not talking money.
I’m talking hard work, exhaustion and sanity.
I wish I could say that the Disney pixie dust worked its magic, but that would be a lie. Did we make memories that will last a lifetime? Absolutely. Did we have a magical time? Mostly. Would I ever take a toddler again? No.
But, let’s do a little recap, shall we? This is long. I apologize.
| day 1 |
I woke up feeling positive and motivated. I felt like I could tackle WDW and the accompanying plane ride with my kid. Piece of cake. I was zen.
Then I discovered my house had no water.
So instead of the relaxing morning I had envisioned, I was frantically calling my dad to come help me. I was frantically calling my husband, who was in NYC for work, to help me. Then I was frantically trying to finish packing so we could head to my parents’ house to shower. Then I was just plain frantic.
Side note: our well pump went out… on my eight-year-old house. Turns out, those aren’t cheap.
Thankfully, Dorothy completely surprised me by handling the plane ride pretty well. I highly recommend crayons and stickers. She only got grumpy during the last 20 minutes when, if we’re being honest, everyone wants off the plane regardless of age.
Oh, she also fell asleep… for a whopping 10 minutes… conveniently after we had already landed in Orlando and were taxing to our gate.
We caught Disney’s Magical Express to our resort, but only after we rode the airport “train” twice. It was the first of Dorothy’s favorite attractions.
We stayed at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. If you’re looking for the cheapest Disney resort to stay at, or if you don’t plan to be at your hotel much, this is the place for you.
If you want any sort of comfort, go elsewhere.
I had stayed at All-Star Movies when I performed in WDW with my high school marching band, and I remember it being perfectly fine. Now, as a mother with 10 more years under her belt, it just didn’t work for me. I have a few stipulations for my next WDW hotel, but I’ll save that for the end. 😉
We spent the first evening in Magic Kingdom. I had made FastPass+ reservations for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, so my sisters and I rode those while my mom and Dorothy hung out in the air-conditioned shops. Did I mention that August in Florida is miserable?
We were there less than 30 minutes, and grandma had already bought Dorothy TWO stuffed animals.
Since it was nearing 10 p.m., and my kid had only napped for mere minutes that day, we decided to take one ride on Dumbo before taking her back to the resort. Remember when I told you that some people say that taking toddlers to Disney is worth it?
Dumbo was one of those moments.
The second magical moment? Watching the fireworks from the bus, with Dorothy passed out on my shoulder.
| day 2 |
Day 2 was spent at Epcot, beginning with a FastPass+ for The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Dorothy didn’t seem to care about the ride itself, but she was all about the fish in the aquarium.
We tried to get her into Turtle Talk with Crush, but we were experiencing a low-milk sippy cup situation. So D and I aborted the show and went to Starbucks instead. Following that meltdown, we all decided to head to the World Showcase.
Side story: We met a cast member named Dorothy at one of the shops, who took a real liking to my Dorothy. She told us all about how she was named (after the Wizard of Oz books), and she even gave Dorothy a special sticker… which D promptly ate. But the gesture was nice!
We had lunch at Nine Dragons Restaurant in China, and managed to walk right in without a reservation. It was air-conditioned, tranquil and the food was fantastic. Jessi never wanted to leave. Grace had her first Disney beer. Dorothy was so relaxed, she graced me with two full diapers.
After an afternoon of resting at the hotel (and changing out of our sweat-soaked clothes), we made last minute dinner reservations for Bongos Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney.
FYI: NOT a short bus ride from All-Star Movies.
I’m pretty sure whatever chicken I ordered at Bongos was the best of my entire life. I’m drooling just thinking about it. There was a live band both inside and out, so the place was pretty loud, but it’s Cuban. I didn’t expect any less.
After dinner, Dorothy and grandma went night-night, while my sisters and I went back to Magic Kingdom.
We rode Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, drank LeFou’s Brew and met Ariel.
| day 3 |
My cousin, Justen, scored my sisters and I free tickets to Universal Studios… so obviously we had to go see Harry Potter.
Side story: Our Uber driver gave us bottled water. I promptly thought of those people who try to sell bottled toilet/river water in Vegas. Tell me I’m not the only paranoid one?
I’m new to Harry Potter, but friends I have to tell you. This place was freaking amazing. I could ride the Escape from Gringotts ride over and over again. IT WAS SO COOL.
If you go, things to note:
1. You will need both park tickets to see both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. And really, you need more than one day to do it all.
2. The Hogwarts Express between parks is not just a shuttle. It’s a ride… with a wait.
3. Knockturn Alley exists!
4. The queue for the dragon roller coaster is not someplace you want to be when it’s 100* outside. It’s small, cramped, and stinky. But, FRONT ROW.
5. Apparently there is more to Universal than Harry Potter?
While we Muggles were gone, my mom and D had a rest day at the pool. My mom is awesome like that. 🙂
| day 4 |
By Day 4, Dorothy was done. As in, we were having a full-on meltdown before we even got inside Hollywood Studios.
We did a rider swap for Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and FastPass+ for Tower of Terror before getting lunch at 50’s Prime Time Cafe. This place was actually pretty fun. Lazy Bob was our server, and had I got to spend more than 20 minutes inside I think I would have really enjoyed it.
Instead, D had ANOTHER monster meltdown and we spent lunch at her VERY FAVORITE attraction of the whole trip.
She was IN LOVE with this duck.
We fed the ducks organic, freeze-dried yogurt, and she had a blast. I figured since it was organic, it would be fine… right?
Dorothy actually did sit through Muppetvision 3D, but mostly because she liked the glasses. That’s a win.
After that, we started the long process of getting home. We were done at the park early, thanks to the oppressive heat, so we sat in our hotel lobby for several hours waiting on our bus. Dorothy again only fell asleep for the last five minutes of the bus ride, but handled the flight pretty well.
Then it took a week for her to recover from all that excitement.
Now, I love WDW. I will return again soon. However, after doing Disney as a mommy, I have new stipulations for my future trips.
- I need a hotel near Magic Kingdom.
- Future resorts must be of the Deluxe variety. I will gladly pay out the nose for a room if it means I can be comfortable and have access to awesome food.
- I need the resort to be connected to the monorail. If there is one thing I’m done with, it’s buses. The monorail can get me to two places – Magic Kingdom and the beer in Epcot. Done.
- Any accompanying children must be at least 4. Possibly 5. Whatever the age is when they don’t need a nap to function anymore.
- I’m only going when it’s cooler, and no one else is there. Like mid-September. Or February.
Remind me of this the next time someone gets a wild hair to go to Disney World. 😉 Hopefully this helps you plan future trips!