There’s just something about visiting Disney with someone who has never been. The look on their face when they walk down Mainstreet USA and see Cinderella’s Castle for the first time is truly a beautiful moment. I don’t think people really understand that Walt Disney World is not just for kids. Adults can enjoy the parks just as much as kids, if not more. It’s a nostalgia that runs deeps amongst us kids at heart that you can’t explain. If you grew up with Disney in your home, then you might have an understanding of what I’m trying to say.
Well it was time for Chloe to experience the magic of Walt Disney World. She has heard all my stories, has seen all my photos but now, it was her turn! I couldn’t be more excited for her!
We are staying at the Port Orleans French Quarter. It’s one of the smaller resorts on property most known for its beignets. True to the original recipe from Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, Disney doesn’t miss a thing when it comes to its staging. You truly feel like you’re walking the streets in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Our week was jam packed full of park days, shopping and eating! Chloe left all the details up to me for this trip. The Disney website makes it so easy to plan your vacation, it really took no time at all! The only thing I did different this time around was purchase what they call a Memory Maker. When you’re at WDW, you can have your photograph taken just about any where by one of the Photo Pass photographers in the parks. You can purchase these prints online after your trip if you want, but they can be pretty expensive. The same goes for any attraction (ride) photo, too. The Memory Maker is a service that allows you to store all those photos on your Disney Experience app, and download them as many times as you want for an allotted amount of time. So you pay ahead for your prints instead of paying for individual prints. When you weigh the costs against each other, the Memory Maker is worth the price! It’ll save you loads of money in the end. Unless you really don’t care for these types of souvenir photos, don’t purchase the service. For Chloe’s first time, I knew I wanted to have the Memory Maker so she could take all the photos home with her.
Where do I even begin? I really didn’t have to do much to make this trip special. Disney is already a special place, so I just left it all up to the pure magic of it all to embrace Chloe! I made sure our first day was at Magic Kingdom. I wanted her to see the castle first. We arrived for park open, or shortly thereafter. It’s always nice to see the castle without a massive amount of guests. She cried as she saw the castle come into view. I am so glad I was able to capture that moment!
With our fast passes already chosen and our lunch reservation booked, our day at the Magic Kingdom was all set! For those of you who don’t know, when you stay on Disney property, you have the ability to choose your fast passes 65 days ahead of your trip! Having been to WDW many, many times, I know which rides not to waste a fast pass on and which ones are absolutely necessary! Tip: Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean you can go without a fast pass. Their wait times are generally 30-40 minutes, but they never truly are that long. To maximize your fast pass, choose the mountain rides (ie Splash, Thunder and Mine Train). Waiting 180 minutes for Splash Mountain feels like waiting 180 minutes. Avoid it if you can!
As a guest you can also make dining reservations 180 days prior to your trip. I do highly recommend you book dining well in advance. Gone are the days when you can walk up to any one restaurant and be guaranteed a table within the hour. Most table service restaurants are fully booked long before your vacation begins. I’ll make my recommendations as I write this, but trust me on this one! Book ahead! Having said that, WDW has plenty of quick service dining options. Their food is pretty damn good, too. So don’t feel the need to book dining reservations everyday! Explore some of the countless quick service options Disney has to offer! Today, we are booked in at a fairly new restaurant in Adventureland called the Jungle Navigation Co. It’s a mix of Asian, Latin and African cuisine and since we’re in Adventureland why not be adventurous with our dining! In my honest opinion, I was not entirely impressed with the meal. The menu has a variety of options and they all read as if they would be fantastic. But the flavours were not all there.
We didn’t let lunch dampen our spirits though! At least we can say we’ve tried it and move on! We spent the day tackling all the the Kingdom had to offer from rides to shopping, eating and their night time spectacular! Before we knew it the day turned to night and we were hoping to snag a good spot for fireworks. Now a lot, and I mean a lot, of people will literally sit in their preferred spot for fireworks any where from an hour to two hours before show time. To me that is utterly ridiculous. Unless you’re an annual passholder and you can visit the parks everyday of the year, I don’t understand wasting prime park hours for that! Happily Ever After starts at 8pm every evening at Magic Kingdom. We just walked off the Jingle Cruise (normally Jungle Cruise) at about 720pm and wandered back to the castle. We still found a fantastic viewing spot. So don’t be fooled by everyone else waiting 2 hours ahead…it’s really not necessary!
The fireworks are spectacular. Happily Ever After is a great story accompanied by some classic Disney songs from everyone’s favourite movies. Although I do love Wishes, its predecessor. This new one doesn’t have the same tug at the heartstrings as Wishes did, but if you haven’t seen Wishes, you wouldn’t know! So Chloe loved Happily Ever After. I do recommend staying to watch it! Don’t be scared off by the massive amount of people. To avoid the rush out of the park, just wander through the shops along Mainstreet USA. There is no need to rush home right after fireworks when you can admire the Kingdom at night. It’s beautiful all lit up especially with the Christmas decorations!
Staying on property means you don’t necessarily have to rent a car. They’ve got loads of transportation options to get you home at night. If you’ve got a car, and you’re parked at the Ticket and Transportation Centre, then you’ve got a bit of a wait ahead of you. Leaving Magic Kingdom can sometimes be a nightmare. So here’s a little tip, when you see that long, long line for the Monorail to the TTC, opt for the Monorail Resort Loop. It won’t be direct to the TTC as it stops at a resort or two, but it will get you there. You’ll avoid waiting any where from 40-60 minutes for the other direct monorail. Keep that in mind next time! We didn’t need the monorail as our resort bus drops us off at main gate practically. Sometimes the buses get full and you have to wait for a second one, but I can count on one hand how often that happens. And I’ve been going to WDW for 30 years!
Our night at the Magic Kingdom has come to an end, but it was only our first day! We’ve got lots to see and do this week!
Stay tuned for our day at Hollywood Studios!
Until next time…