AVA DOES DISNEY
I thought is was fitting for my first post to be about the first trip to Walt Disney World with my little!
If variety is the spice of life, then spontaneity is the sugar coating. A few weeks ago, a previously planned family trip fell through days before our departure which left my hubby with a free extra day off work. I tried to come up with a few options for ideas on what to do with this impromptu long weekend; day trip to Sarasota, Busch Gardens, beach picnic? I was five minutes in to thinking when he turned to me and said, “Why don’t we go to Disney World?” Mouth agape, I answered with a resounding YES more quickly than when he proposed.
Mind you, this was a Thursday afternoon, and we wanted to leave the next day and hit up the park on Saturday. This was going to be Ava’s first trip to Disney World ever, so my Virgo brain immediately set out on securing a hotel, planning an itinerary and researching the best way to tackle Disney with a toddler. My first step was deciding on which specific park to attend. Ava absolutely loves Frozen and the Nemo/Dory movies, so Epcot was a contender. However, the purist in me felt that anyone’s first trip to see the mouse should be the real OG, Magic Kingdom. MK also has 33 attractions for any height, so I knew we would be able to do plenty of fun rides with her. Once that decision was made and tickets were secured, I set off on finding a hotel. I recently stayed at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando and enjoyed it, so I wanted to try out its sister property, the Hilton Bonnet Creek. They have a free park shuttle which was key for us and one of the few requirements I had for this trip since it was so short and we wouldn’t be spending much time at the hotel. I also knew we had to hit up Disney Springs on Friday night - its such a great spot to enjoy shopping, food and fun!
My next task was to plan out the day in the park and research some of the best gluten free restaurant options for a celiac-girl like me. I made reservations to enjoy breakfast at The Plaza Restaurant on Main Street so Ava could get those famous Mickey Waffles (and mommy could enjoy one of their sparkling mimosas and a fresh omelet). We did have a short wait, so I took advantage and grabbed a really great photo of her without any people by the castle- it was a lucky moment! We were quite full from breakfast, so the rest of the day we mainly just had snacks. I did learn that Skipped Canteen and Pinocchio’s Village Haus had some of the most robust GF offerings, so I can’t wait to try those on the next trip. Plenty of the frozen treats are also GF, including the famous Dole Whip!
When it came to the rides, I was so happy that Ava could enjoy so many of them! We went on several of them and they wait wasn’t too bad. If I could go back, I would have hit up Peter Pan first thing in the morning as that line gets crazy and fast passes typically sell out. Ava loved the Under the Sea Little Mermaid ride and meeting the princesses the most! Ariel is my favorite, so it was kind of a dream come true for me to see her so excited. One of her least favorite rides was the Haunted Mansion, which looking back, maybe wasn’t the best choice for a 22-month old…
Being the eco-nerd I am, I also looked in to some of the sustainability measures at the park. They have removed plastic straws and replaced with the paper variety, but I suggest brining your own reusable straws to cut back on waste. Also, bring your reusable water bottles! We had no problem getting them refilled at any restaurant or snack cart. In regards to their carbon footprint, the company just had a 270-acre solar farm come online in February of this year, capable of powering two Disney parks. They have energy efficient fixtures and utilize LED lights to make the most of their energy usage, and utilize reclaimed water to take care of 30% of resort operations and 80% of irrigation needs. WDW also boasts a plethora of programs for the care and conservation of animals and their habitats, from worldwide conservation funds to localized endangered and threatened species care. In addition, all Walt Disney World Resorts donate their used amenity and soap products to Certified B Corporation Clean the World. The products are then recycled and repurposed to improve the quality of life for vulnerable communities around the world while also providing education on hygiene, water and sanitation for those affected by poverty.
Here are some pro-tips I learned as a Disney mom newbie:
Seems obvious, but bring the stroller! Do not think you can get through the day with a carrier or having them walk. They also have rentals available. Make sure to look up their stroller guidelines though, as some sizes are not allowed (and no stroller wagons!)
Bring the stroller fan! We left ours in the garage while packing the car, and I felt terrible! We kept ducking in to shops to give her a break from the heat
Bring reusable water bottles for everyone in the family, as well as a few snacks (good to appease them while waiting in lines)
Speaking of lines – bring a selection of entertaining toys or a small coloring book – those will also help pass the time for a fidgety toddler during a long wait
Keep your diaper bag small and light- only pack the essentials, diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, one change of clothes, a cooling facial mist (I love this one) a few snacks and the aforementioned toys – it will get heavy and hot!
Some restaurants are reservation only, so be sure to look up the ones you know you want to visit so you aren’t unnecessarily stuck with a long wait
While its important to look cute, keep it comfy! Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes (these are one of my fave comfy sneakers)
When all was said and done, we had the MOST magical time. Yes it was 96 degrees outside, yes the lines were long and yes the baby got cranky – but we so enjoyed experiencing the magic of the mouse through the eyes of our child. We felt like kids again ourselves, and have seriously caught the Disney bug. We are even considering becoming annual pass holders! I’d love to hear any other tricks, tips or ideas from seasoned Disney mamas! Give me your best suggestions or things to avoid!