Mid winter break was a couple months ago, but I’m finally getting time to write about it. Looking back on trips is sometimes so much more rewarding! I’m not tired, don’t have a whining child with sunscreen in her eyes or a spilled powdered candy in my backpack.
Disney’s Art Of Animation Resort
So, we went to Disney World. We visited 4 years ago and I swore I’d never go back…but now with a six year old it just feels like a ‘right of passage’ for her to experience it. I have to admit seeing her so happy made me glow with satisfaction. Brooklyn’s auntie lives in Florida so she met up with us and we spent the week together hotel hopping, park hopping, pool hopping and soaking up the warmth of Florida. Our first stop was Disney’s newest hotel, Disney’s Art Of Animation Resort. This hotel is brand new and it’s in tip top shape. We stayed in a Little Mermaid themed room, but enjoyed the Lion King and Cars areas as well. The beauty of this new resort is you feel like you’re at Disney without even entering the park because it is so full of Disney themed statues, paintings and illustrations. The main pool was our favorite. They played music, have free crafts and was close to the cafeteria. This hotel was perfect for our 6 year old. There are no water slides but there are fantastic designs and Disney characters which provide a magical environment. I’d definitely stay here again – with young kids. We really enjoyed the free crafts and drawing classes. You can also see nightly fireworks from the parking lot. Teens would likely want more. There is a lot of walking at this resort, but there is so much to see it feels like an adventure each time. You’ll definitely want a stroller for little ones.
Here’s a video of our experience at the resort, you can really see how fun it is:
Between the 4 of us, we bought 6 Park Hopper Tickets. One day we all went together from the opening to closing! We did THREE parks! It was insanity but so much fun. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and POTS so in order for me to participate in long days of walking and standing I have to use a wheelchair. Turns out Disney is super wheelchair friendly and getting around was not only easy but at times there were separate lines which moved much faster. We also did so much walking our 6 year old ended up in my lap much of the time. We started our day and spent the most time at Epcot. Through Disney’s Fast Pass system we booked and rode on Living with the Land which is a slow boat that sails through the greenhouses and shows you how food is grown and some high tech ways food will be grown in the future, like vertical farming. My 6 year old was very impressed and the ride held her attention.
Next we rode Mission: SPACE, this was a very claustrophobic simulated ride…ah the things we do for our kids. It was extremely thrilling and I truly felt like I was in a rocket going to space. This adventure is NASA-style training for real astronauts. On the ride we took a trip to Mars. My daughter and her dad LOVED this ride. I was totally frightened.
Check our our video shot during the ride:
The third Fast Pass ride we rode was Spaceship Earth. This ride is in the iconic round giant golf ball. You Ride a mellow roller coaster and travel through time and see the history of communication starting with the Stone Age all the way to the computer age. The concepts were probably beyond my daughter’s comprehension but the ride was really great, we all loved it.
Lastly, we strolled and rolled through the World Showcase. This was really impressive. Epcot is divided into two main themed areas: Future World and World Showcase. It’s best to book your rides in the Future World first, as the The World Showcase opens a couple hours after the park opens. The World Showcase is a group of themed neighborhoods, each representing a different county. There are shops, music & entertainment, restaurants and gift stores in each area to explore and get a peek of each culture. My daughter loved this, I was surprised she stay engaged as long as she did. I found it very charming, great replicas but very crowded to navigate.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
We took a shuttle from Epcot to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We arrived early evening so caught the magic of twilight and the change from when all the rides and designs went from daylight to glowing at night. You don’t have to ride a thing to experience the awe and magic of Animal Kingdom. Their creation of Pandora, The world of Avatar was one of the most incredible installations I’ve ever seen. Monte and I had a date night the following night at visited Animal Kingdom again, so I’m showing photos of the early evening we spent as a group, and the night time shots from our date night. Be sure to watch the video which really captures the experience.
On our date night we rode two rides, first we rode Expedition Everest three times! Yes, we LOVED this ride. It’s a fast roller coaster with dips turns and cliffs that leave you hanging. Just when you catch your breath you go backwards. It’s a super fun, high thrill ride. We also did the Kilimanjaro Safari and luckily all of the animals were out. It was a fantastic safari, this is a must see. We also watched the Tree of Life Awakenings which is an incredible simulated show that leaves you wondering how they did it while it moves your spirit. Watching this is like a warm hug, it’s great. Lastly we experienced Rivers of Light which is a beautifully choreographed dance of boats floating across a lake filled with lights, projections, music and a story that feels like a dream. This is stadium style seating and a show, it’s a nice break from walking, but if you have limited time you may prefer to watch from the side for a few minutes then move on. We were really hoping to go on Avatar Flight of Passage but it was fully booked (fast pass for this ride fill up weeks in advance). If you want to ride this book it well before your trip.
Animal Kingdom is pure magic at night, here’s a video we shot showing some of the magical transformations of the tree and the dancing boats:
For our finale of our Park Hopper day we took the shuttle over to Magic Kingdom and caught the phenomenal fireworks display over the Cinderella Castle which is fittingly called Happily Ever After. This is fantastic. It’s way too crowded and everyone tries to get close to the castle but you really don’t need to. The fireworks are high so if you can see the castle you will see the show. After the show everyone made a rush to exit, so we decided to rush to catch any rides last minute. We got lucky and rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad twice. This had big dips and turns, it is a great and long roller coaster. You will be satisfied after riding this classic. We also rode Space Mountain. This is another classic roller coaster with big drops and turns. We didn’t have fast passes for either of these so felt lucky we were able to ride them. We closed the park down and made our way back to the shuttle bus to bring us home to our Little Mermaid room at the Art of Animation. It was a perfect day. The following morning Monte and Brooklyn had a daddy & daughter date. Monte surprised Brooklyn with a breakfast date at Cinderella’s Royal Table where they ate breakfast and met 5 princesses. The surprises weren’t over yet, following breakfast she had an appointment for a makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (also located in the Castle). She is officially spoiled!
Here’s a video of the amazing fireworks:
During our week we also visited Disney Springs. This is a nice shopping area with attractions like a LEGO store and tons of Disney themed gift shops. These are official Disney stores so the prices are the same as in the park. There are some high end boutiques as well and restaurants. It’s a fun afternoon. We enjoyed the free LEGO car racing and people watching. There is also a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique here if you don’t have tickets to go to Magic Kingdom.
Here’s a video of Brooklyn’s Bibbidii Bobbidi Boutique experience:
We also made a visit to Disney’s Boardwalk a couple of evenings. We met up with some of our best friends who were also in town vacationing at Disney. This is a charming promenade reminiscent of Atlantic City. The boardwalk has live entertainment (magicians, music, etc), you can take a bike taxi, there are great dining options and an Ample Hills Creamery Ice Cream Parlor.
Our friends stayed at the Holiday Inn which has a super cool water park. It used to be a Nickelodeon resort so still has that fun vibe. Now the slime is blue, lol. There is tons to do here for kids with a wide range of ages. However it is not a Disney property so you don’t get the perks of free shuttles and access to other Disney resorts like you do when you stay at a Disney property.
Disney’s Coronado Resort
The last hotel we stayed in was Disney’s Coronado Resort. This is a great hotel, it’s been around a long time and parts are under construction but that did not disturb our experience. The pool here is awesome. There’s a winding water slide, a giant Mayan Pyramid with a water fall and a playground right next to the pool. There’s also a hot tub and a pool cafe so everything you need is right there, it’s easy to spend a whole day at the pool. They also have activities for kids, some are free and some have a small fee. This is a nice hotel and I’d stay here again. The slide is a big plus for kids who want more thrills. There are no Disney themed designs around the property, it’s a Spanish Colonial style. I asked my daughter which hotel she liked better and she got stressed out because she couldn’t decide, she liked them both so much. I personally liked the Art of Animation better, so did Monte. It’s more geared to families and the themed pools and rooms are really fun.
Here’s a video of our experience at Disney’s Coronado Springs:
We loved our trip to Disney. Here’s a video of the 3 days we did the Park Hopper tickets! Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom:
- If staying at a Disney property, order your magic bands and book Fast Pass rides before your trip. Your magic band will be your entry into parks, your room key, payment method, photo pass, memory maker tag and probably more.
- Disney’s app is great, download it before you go so you can use it to navigate parks, book rides, etc.
- You can bring food and drinks into Disney theme parks. Pack a small cooler no bigger than 24″ long 15″ wide 18″ high.
- Strollers need to be no larger than 36″ x 52″.
- Folding chairs, selfie sticks, drones and any type of scooters are not allowed. You can rent a wheelchair scooter at Disney if needed.
- There are lockers available to rent at all parks.
- February is a great time to visit. April is very busy. Just before Thanksgiving is also a good time with less crowds. Summer are hot hot hot in Orlando, I’d avoid it during the peak heat. We brought a change of clothes and shed layers as the day got warmer.
- Animal Kingdom at night was my favorite experience.
- The Walmart in Orlando has tons of souvenirs at great prices.