Six years ago I went to Walt Disney World in Orlando for the first time with my Aunt Lilly and Uncle Laurent and their combined family of 5 (Kenza, Heston, and Halley). Back then we definitely didn’t have as big of a group, but this time we added 2 toddlers, 2 new(ish) parents, and 2 grandparents. We fought, we laughed, we cried, but in the end we all had a good time together. I wanted to share with you guys our experience and the lessons that I learned while doing Disney for the first time as a single adult. Read on to hear more about our trip!
This whole idea for this trip started a few months ago back in February. Everyone on my mom’s side of the family, including ourselves, are apart of a vacation club where you earn points every year and if we stay at a resort that takes those points then it ends up saving us money in the long run…I’m sure you guys know how a vacation club works. Anyways, we stayed at the Vacation Village at Parkway in Kissimmee, FL which is just a hop over from Orlando. I had pretty high expectations of this hotel considering most places we stay using the vacation club points are pretty nice, but I must say I was a little bit disappointed. It wasn’t a grungy hotel by any means… it just didn’t have the luxury feel that we are used to seeing from Sol Melia. In the end, I just wouldn’t recommend that resort. My Aunt Lesli and her husband Gareth stayed at Wyndham Resorts in Orlando with their 2 year old son, Elijah, and my grandparents Raul and Mirthala. Their resort definitely had the luxury feel but if you had children, which most people do if you’re going to Orlando, then it was a very kid-friendly environment with multiple pools and activities always going on in the activities center. So if you were going to take a little trip down to Orlando with your kids I would definitely recommend the Wyndham over Vacation Village.
Good thing about Disney is that you are so busy at the parks all day that you aren’t even in your hotel room except for sleeping. The plan for the parks was for the big kids (Kenza 19, Blake 18, Heston 17, Halley 15, and myself 20) to have a 5 day park pass to go to the parks by ourselves so that there wasn’t a lot of stress when dealing with the younger ones. In my opinion, I think if you have older kids, like we do, then it’s best to let them roam and ride the rides they want. I do think that a 5 day pass was a little too much for me. I think I would have been happy with just a 3 day pass. Lilly and Laurent and Lesli and Gareth decided that the little ones should only do 2 days at the parks which I thought was a really smart idea. If you think about it there are 4 parks (that aren’t water parks) Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. In my opinion Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are the most kid-friendly in the sense that there is more for them to enjoy at those parks. Plus, to the parents out there, why would you want to stress for more days at the parks that aren’t really that enjoyable?
We arrived in Orlando on Friday night, Saturday was a recovery day for everyone by the pool. Sunday was the first day that the big kids went to the parks. Our first park was Hollywood Studios. I really didn’t remember much about Hollywood Studios other than that was where Tower of Terror was and 6 years ago I was too chicken to go on it and this time I was determined to ride that ride. Hollywood Studios was a perfect start to the trip because it wasn’t too high strung and there was on-again-off-again rain showers so the lines were minimal. My favorite rides from that park were obviously Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Both were rides that I had never been on before and boy do those roller coasters take a life from you. Don’t get me wrong, they were insanely thrilling and fun, but I definitely didn’t feel it as much when I was a child compared to now.
The next day, Monday, we went to Magic Kingdom. This was definitely my favorite day because I knew I would finally be able to feel the magic of Disney World. hehe. We got there pretty early because this was Sophie’s (age 5) first day at the parks so Lilly and Laurent wanted to get there right when it opened which was 9am. We parked our heinous white Lincoln minivan, which by the way we all still didn’t fit in, so one lucky kid got to sit on the floor of the vehicle and hope to God that we didn’t get into an accident. Anyways, we unloaded the cars and walked towards the little train that takes us from the parking lot to the montarail. As we are walking to the train, a Mini Mouse themed strolled and a Walmart sack full of sandwiches in hand, we experienced the true terror that is being some of the first to enter the park. All I can say is that Disney is ruthless and it makes people crazy. People were shoving and pushing each other out of the way, I could have sworn that it was the end of the world…and it was even worse when we all had to board the ferry boat to get to the entrance of the park. So all I’m saying is beware! There are some savage people out there! lol….Once we got into the park the big kids went our separate ways. Blake and Heston were being a little bit impatient so we ended up breaking away from them, they went on to do Splash Mountain and other more thrilling rides while Kenza, Halley, and I went to meet characters, ride other rides, wait for our fast passes, and just take in all that was going on in Magic Kingdom. The three of us ended up staying for the night parade and the fireworks at the end. The fireworks were definitely way better than I remember. They were playing that song about when your dreams come true and the fireworks were beginning and I was really starting to feel that magic until…the toddler standing right next to me breaks into screams of terror and latches onto my leg accidentally thinking that I was her mother…The magic wasn’t there for long but all that matters is that it was there.
Tuesday was Animal Kingdom and I must say that this park had some really beautiful architecture and walkways and the scenery definitely made it my favorite park. It was very shaded which was good because it was starting to get really hot on this day. We did the Safari ride which was kind of cool and very relaxing because you got to sit down for a good 20 min while you ride in a little jungle vehicle. That was the closest thing I’ll be getting to an African safari for now. We all started fading pretty quickly from the heat through out the day but it was no worry because there is a Starbucks in every park and there’s nothing like an Iced Vanilla Coffee to bring you back to life on a hot and busy day in Animal Kingdom!
Wednesday was Epcot, personally my least favorite park, and I was also getting pretty tired of the crowds and the heat so I wasn’t at all too enthusiastic about going to Epcot but I still managed to keep a good attitude, even though Blake did not…petty diva 😉 We did Test Track, Mission Space, and the ride that’s inside the Epcot ball…which by the way definitely needs to be updated. The ride is all about taking a trip back in time to learn about the world’s history and the most up-to-date thing was the computer being invented haha so maybe it’s time Disney did a little upgrading. After we completed the 3 fast passes Blake and I ditched to go lay by the pool the rest of the day while Kenza and Halley did a little bit more exploring of Epcot. That night we actually had dinner reservations in the park, which by the way if you want to cancel your reservation it’s $20 per person to cancel so you might want to reconsider just sucking it up and going to your reservation. Kenza, Halley, and I went to the Hibachi restaurant in the Japan section of Epcot. It was really good and it wasn’t out this world expensive either so I would definitely recommend that place for a family dinner out one night.
Thursday was a recovery day, so we all went to Lesli and Gareth’s resort to swim and lounge around which was perfect since the next day we all had to part ways to the airport to go home.
Disney was a great experience and I am definitely glad I chose to go and spend this time with my cousins before everyone starts going their separate ways. No matter how much we disagree or fight sometimes, I love them unconditionally and the memories that I have made on this trip I will cherish forever…I can’t wait until the “big kids” start having kids and Sophie and Elijah can tag along just like we did.
- Make sure you know what kind of resort you’re staying at
- If you only plan on going to the parks for 2-3 days it might be worth it to stay in one of the resorts in the parks because after all the Ubers and parking passes that we paid for it just might even out.
- separate big kids and little kids
- take a day off from the parks to relax
- don’t forget to hydrate because a few kids took a tumble in line from dehydration!
- Unless you are an Uber Black member, make sure you make arrangements ahead of time for a ride from the airport because regular Uber is not allowed to pick up from airport BUT they can drop off.