I have dreamed of Disney World since I was a little girl but have never been. I have also dreamed of Disney World for my children since long before having children. I wanted to wait until the girls were old enough to enjoy it and hopefully remember some of it. Day after tomorrow we begin our Disney journey. We are taking the girls to Disney World for the day (Magic Kingdom) and then going on a 5 day Disney Bahamian cruise. I am so excited that I could burst.
The girls have no idea. They think we are going to visit Emmie and Papa Joe (my mom and dad), which they are super excited about. We are driving to Houston but will only be spending the night and then flying out to Orlando. We will spend a few days in Houston on the end of the trip. The packing has been a bit overwhelming since there are so many parts of the trip- Dallas overnight, Houston, the day at the park, 5 days on a boat and then a long weekend at my parents. I want to make sure that everything needed makes it with us to the boat and that everything needed for the park will be in our carry ons because we won't have our luggage before the park (it will be delivered to our room and we will head on to the park before it arrives). We aren't planning to tell the girls until the morning we fly out. We will have to wake them up at 5 am and to fend off some of the grumpiness we will break the news to them then. I cannot wait to hear the reactions!!
I am writing this portion post vacation:
So the morning that we left for Disney we revealed to the girls that we were going...at 5 am. I think that disclosing this information at 5 am was a mistake, if we wanted a positive reaction. I got it on video but I had the camera on a strange setting and the girls had just woken up. They were not quite as excited as I expected. As Reese became more awake she got more and more excited, Ella was just grumpy and mean all the way to the airport.
We flew in the day before the cruise departed so we went to Magic Kindgom for the day. I was really excited about this since I had never been. We started out with the mid day parade which we all enjoyed and really pumped the girls up. We then did 2 pretty terrible "rides" because the wait times were really short, we now know why the lines were so short. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and the Lilo and Stitch "rides" are not really rides and are not fun at all. Ella just rolled with it and it put Reese in a pretty funky and impatient mood. After those 2 rides we got over to the other side of the park and rode on the Magic Carpet ride, it was fun. Ella then spotted Jasmine and Alladin and was determined she was going to meet them. The line wasn't that long but at Disney World not that long seems to mean at least 30 minutes for the popular characters. Five minutes in Reese began to lose it. She had been up since 5 am and without a nap. She doesn't deal well with little sleep. We gave her the choice of waiting in the line, going to ride something else with Neal or riding around in the stroller to rest. She completely lost it and was in full fit mode, 2 year old style. Neal had to carry her to the stroller and threaten her to stay in it. He pushed her around for 5 minutes and she was out. The girl slept for 2.5 hours.
Sadly for Reese she missed out on so much fun that Ella had. While Reese was sleeping Ella saw another parade, danced with the Incredibles- even twirled by Mrs. Incredible, got a high five from Jesse and danced with Woody, rode some rides, ate a soft pretzel, drank an icee and had a total ball.
As soon as Reese finally woke up we were determined to pack in lots of fun. We rode the 7 dwarfs mine train (this was probably a favorite), the journey of Ariel, the Winnie the Pooh ride, the classic teacups, Dumbo and the carousel, Goofy's roller coaster and a few other things that I am not remembering. On our way out we watched the 11 pm fireworks show.
The girls remember it as a fun day. There were many not fun periods with Reese but overall I am glad she has fun memories. It was a bit hot, hectic and busy for Neal and I. If we go back we will definitely space it out among a period of multiple days and do just a few hours of park time each day and some down time in between at the resort. We stayed at Art of Animation which was a really fun place for kids.
On to the cruise. It was awesome!! Disney does it so well for families. The first day we spent some time at the pool then explored the ship. We had dinner and multiple meltdowns due to the second day of going so hard and not having naps. Due to this we decided that the next day (Nassau Bahamas stop) we were just going to stay on the ship and ensure naps. This turned out to be a great decision. The slide lines were short, the pools weren't too crowded and the girls took 3 hour naps. Our evening was so much fun and the girls were able to stay up late and do the fun activities that go on until around midnight because of their good naps.
There were so many opportunities for character meetings. On the second day we all stood in the 20 minute line to meet Rapunzel. After that Reese was done standing in line to meet princesses. She would rather swim or play and I cannot say that I blame her. Ella would stand in line all day if she needed to. She met Rapunzel, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, Snow White and waved to many, many more. She met Rapunzel for a 2nd time on the last night of the cruise. We were last in line so after Rapunzel talked to her for a while she asked her where she was headed next. She then asked her if she could walk her there. Ella thought this was the best day of her life...it was so cute.
The service on the cruise was unbelievable. We had a room host that cleaned and stocked our room each day. His name was Ake, pronounced like hokey without the H. He was the nicest most kind person. He was ALWAYS out in the hallway, once the girls realized this (day 2) they would go out into the hallway and call for him. He would either be out there or pop out of a room and say "I right here what you need princesses". He would make the funniest towel animals each day and left seven dwarf chocolates. We really loved him. We also had the same 2 servers for dinner each night named En and Lee. They were so much fun. They would even squeeze the ketchup and cut the meat for the girls! They would focus on getting the girls served 1st and I would then bring them to the Oceaneers Club for a half hour or so while Neal and I finished eating.
The food on the cruise was really good. There were different soups each night that were all so good, the snack bar had a great turkey sandwich with a cranberry sauce, the cheese pizza at the snack bar was really good, they did crab legs and shrimp cocktail one evening that was so good and a scallop appetizer that was so good.
Castaway Cay is Disney's private island in the Bahamas. It is the most beautiful, fun, family friendly beache I have ever been to. There were 3 areas of the beach including an adults only area. There are multiple restaurants and the food is all included just like on the ship. We did one excursion while on the island and went out in a glass bottom boat over a coral reef and fed fish, it was a lot of fun. We had an absolute blast on this Island and I so wish they would build a resort so I could just go there for a week.
They had an amazing kids club. It is enormous and so much fun. They had animators there teaching the kids to draw characters, multiple movie nooks playing various Disney movies, a life-size replica of Andy's room from Toy Story with all kinds of things to do, a Monster's Inc. room, Cinderella came and read them stories, Tinker bell came and played games with them and so much more. The girls only experienced a little of what it had to offer because they only went for probably a total of 3 hours in the 5 days we were there. The people working in there are SO good with kids, lots of fun. They have a process that made me feel secure also...the girls had a band that only let them out with my card and they had photos of each of us that were checked in the computer plus there was a secret word that I had to know.
If you are thinking about a Disney Cruise go prepared for pirate night, it is a big deal. Also, it is a thing to decorate your door, they are magnetic. We didn't have a bibbity bobbity boutique on the Dream but it is being renovated this fall and will have one. The Fantasy has one. You don't need to bring your own towels. Get on the ship early the day that it is departing, we thought we should get there later but that was silly because we could have done so much exploring and eating if we had gotten there early. If you want some of the exclusive tickets, like the princess dance party and others, you have to get on the ship early and find out where to go to get the tickets. We were also wanting to spend time at the pool at our Disney resort so it may have been worth getting there later. You can drop off an item (frame mat, t-shirt- anything except an autograph book) at guest services the first couple of days of the cruise and they will have all of the characters (or all that you want) sign it for you and will return it to your room.
The couple of downsides are that the pools are pretty small and crowded. Also, kids crap or puke in the pool at least twice a day. Kids overheat and then puke often. When this happens they have to drain the pool, clean it and then refill it. They are very efficient at this but it does cause a pool to be down for 4 or 5 hours and that causes the other pool to be even busier.
If we do it again I think we will go for 6 or 7 nights. By the time we had the ship figured out and learned the routines it was time to go home. Overall it was an amazing vacation!
While in Houston Neal and I met up with some of my closest friends from high school. It was really fun to see these guys and spend a few hours. We also had a lot of fun with my family, good quality time. Such a good week and a half away from home but we were also really happy to be back to our own house.
Worn out at the airport: