The Happiest Place on Earth

When my parents first told me that they would be in Orlando for a few days and would love to meet at Disney World, my husband was unconvinced. Living in Florida, we totally planned on taking Leah (and any future children) to Disney, but we always expected that it would be a little later in life. Obviously Disney is very expensive and it was hard to justify spending all that money to take a 1 1/2 year old to Magic Kingdom. (Leah’s ticket was free but 2 adult 1 day tickets are about $200 total). I, however, was totally on board the moment my parents suggested the idea. I grew up spending many weeks at Disney World and the times I spent there are some of my favorite vacation memories to this day. I could not WAIT to start the fun with Leah and I jumped at the chance to get to spend Leah’s first Disney trip with her grandparents; the very two people who made all my Disney dreams come true growing up. So, after much convincing, Brett got on board and we headed off to a fun-filled weekend at the happiest place on earth. 🙂 Of course, the day we left I started noticing a slight rash on Leah, one that got worse throughout the weekend (you’ll be able to see it on her face in some pictures) due to a nasty virus, but I was seriously impressed with this kid. Not only did she rally, spending a near 11 hour day at Magic Kingdom on Saturday, but she also stayed in a great mood the entire weekend and had a blast! This kid already knows that an illness cannot hold you back from experiencing the thrill of Disney!

We stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Pros of this resort include it’s location to Magic Kingdom (it is the only Disney resort within walking distance to Magic Kingdom as it is literally across the street). We thought this would be convenient if we wanted to go back and forth from the park to the hotel if Leah was in desperate need of a nap. We never needed to, however, because my kid went and went until she dropped, falling asleep in her stroller for a brief nap, before waking up and being ready to go once again!

The hotel was also beautiful and had great food. We ate dinner one night in their casual buffet style restaurant and it was delicious. The Disney monorail also went right into the hotel and could be taken (for free) to the park and two other Disney resorts (The Polynesian and the Grand Floridian). The cons include the price ($$$) and the fact that it doesn’t really have a good Disney FEEL to it. Besides the cute Mickey Mouse pillows on the bed, the place had more of a fancy hotel/convention center feel rather than a Disney resort.

The biggest perk of the resort, however, was that the close location enabled us to buy our tickets at the resort and then head over to the park right at opening time (8 am) where we headed straight back to Fantasy Land. Word to the wise, if you go to Magic Kingdom, immediately head straight to Fantasy Land, which is located at the back of the park. Most people come in and stay around Main Street and then head to the closest “section” so the back of the park remains almost empty first thing in the morning. Fantasy Land is where all the princesses and characters/rides such as Winnie the Pooh, Ariel, Beauty and the Beast, It’s a Small World, etc, are located anyways (which are the best rides/shows for little ones!) so that’s where I most wanted to take Leah anyways. We sailed through Fantasy Land, going on every ride, seeing every show, and meeting every princess, and we never waited for ANYTHING for more than 5-10 minutes!

Leah wasn’t too sure about the princesses, although she would say “Hi” and “I love you” to all the characters we met as long as she was safely nestled in mommy’s arms. 😉 I was honestly the most worried about how she would react to the rides. Some of the more low-key rides (such as It’s a Small World) allow little ones to sit on an adult’s lap, but most of the rides that have a lap safety bar (which is most of them, including Winnie the Pooh) require a child Leah’s age to sit on their own. I was worried that she would be scared or would cry if I tried to sit her by herself and that would greatly affect what rides we would  be able to take her on. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Leah LOVED the independence that came with sitting on her own. On every ride she would either sit between me and Brett or grandma and grandpa and she would look as pleased as punch with herself and would immediately hold onto the safety bar when it came down over her lap. Even rides that are a little scarier or intense (like The Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean) did not phase her in the least bit and she was as happy as can be on every single ride. Her favorite rides were definitely It’s a Small World (because of all the “babies”) and the spinning tea cups. That one surprised me! My mom and I took her on, thinking that we would just ride without spinning because we didn’t want to make her dizzy. Well, Leah had a different idea and as soon as we sat down, she immediately grabbed the center wheel and spun and spun and spun the whole time!

My dad had an app on his phone that told the current ride wait times (I think the app is called “Disney World InPark Assistant”) so we went ahead and immediately got fast passes for the two “big kid” rides we wanted to go on, Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. Disney does allow “parent exchanges” where you can both wait in line with the baby and then take turns riding once you get through the line, but I married a man who hates all roller coasters (even “baby” Disney coasters) so he stayed with Leah while me and my parents used our fast passes to run through the lines and ride the 2 coasters. Honestly, between good planning and using fast passes we barely waited in line for ANYTHING all day long.

My sweet parents had gotten reservations at The Crystal Palace for a late lunch/early dinner. The Crystal Palace is a sit down buffet style restaurant right in Magic Kingdom where Winnie the Pooh and friends come around and visit while you eat. The food was yummy and we loved seeing the characters! Leah pointed and yelled “Pooh!” as he walked around, but was less enthused when it came time to take pictures with them. She wouldn’t let them touch her one bit, not even for a high-5, but she never cried and was definitely interested in visiting with them from afar! 😉

^^birthday cupcake to celebrate my 28th bday!!

More pics from our afternoon/evening at Magic Kingdom…..

^^Someone couldn’t make it through the last line of the night, waiting to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. Luckily, she woke up right before we boarded our boat and made it through her last ride of the day awake!

Sunday we relaxed and took the monorail over to the Grand Floridian for a brunch. Now that is a gorgeous resort! We enjoyed a yummy meal at the cafe and then walked around, exploring the pools and hotel grounds. This was the day that I started to see that the virus was starting to get to Leah. The resort had an awesome splash pad that, on any normal day, Leah would have LOVED, and yet then I stuck her toes in the warm water and asked if she wanted to play she looked at me with her sad eyes and said “No, mama.” That’s when I know my kid is not feeling well!

After a relaxing stroll through the resorts we packed up and headed home! The weekend was over way too quickly, but we sure did have a blast. The trip also proved that you CAN do Magic Kingdom with a toddler and still have a blast! We are so, so thankful to my wonderful parents and the magical weekend we were able to experience with them!

2 thoughts on “The Happiest Place on Earth

  1. dsmcconville says:

    Thanks for posting about “how to” with a toddler in Disneyworld! Our daughter Ella is about a month younger than Leah, and we are hoping to take her to Disneyland or Disneyworld within the next year or so 🙂 Glad you guys had fun.

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