Candace McKay Image & Design | Disney: Party of Three!

Disney: Party of Three!

April 29, 2013  •  Leave a Comment


Thanks for letting me share our recent Disney trip with you!  Not only was this our first Disney trip as a family of three, it was our first real family vacation.  There have been beach trips, but no vacation of this magnitude until now.  This trip was so special to me!  As moms, we spend countless hours planning, preparing and packing trying to make sure that the experience is the very best it can be.  I’ll share with you what worked best for our family for this trip.  Hopefully, as you plan your next Disney trip, some of the things I learned will help you along the way.  I’ve received tons of questions from clients and friends, so here’s my attempt to answer them all at once!

First, we have a little girl, so I knew that this would be a princess centered trip!  She was not impressed with the other characters at all.  The only one she cared to get close to was Minnie!  So, I’m very glad that everything was planned around her favorites at the time.  So, this agenda is super girly!!!

When did you plan the trip?
I started planning our trip in January and was able to make appointments for all of the places on our list.

Did you fly or drive?
We flew.  She did great!  I hate to fly, but it was pretty easy!

Where did you stay?
We chose the Grand Floridian for convenience.  With a three year old, I wasn’t sure what to expect with her regarding naps and how much she could handle.  I wanted to be close for naps, just in case.  We actually napped two of our three park days.  It’s on the monorail which was important to me on this trip with her being so little.  I will say, to us, it was totally worth it!  This hotel was very quiet and absolutely beautiful!  Also, Disney’s Magical Express takes your bags from the airport straight to your hotel room(not the front desk…directly to your room).  You never touch your bags at the airport….awesome!

Did you use a travel agent?
YES!  She was the biggest help and she even saved us money!  I will be happy to share her contact info.  Just shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you!

Did you rent a stroller or take one?
Again for convenience, we rented a stroller from a stroller company (not from the park….I can’t imagine not having it to and from the hotel).  They delivered it to our hotel the day we arrived and we left it with bell services when we left…..easy peasy!  Done!

Did you purchase the dining plan?
YES!  Well worth it…just do it!  Super super easy and plenty of food!

Favorite character meals?
We only planned two character meals…again, first trip with a three year old.  For us, that was perfect!  The big one, Cinderella’s Royal Table, was absolutely wonderful!  She adored it and thought she was one of the princesses!  So special and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything! The second one was a breakfast on the day we left at our hotel (perfect time for a character meal).  The restaurant is 1900 Park Fare.  It features Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, The Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh.   Note: Tigger is a hot mess!  He “jumped out on” Reese (as she says it) and scared her to death….I thought she was going to wet her pants….seriously!  She was not a Tigger fan, but LOVED Alice and Mary Poppins.  She actually “told on” Tigger to Mary Poppins, and I am quite sure she took care of Tigger for us;)  Great meal…the pancakes were wonderful!

How many days did you spend in the parks?
We spent three days in the parks.  I heard once (cannot tell you where, I may have even dreamed this) to plan the number of days based on their age (two years=two days, three years=three days, and so on).  Again, no idea where that came from, but three was the absolute perfect number for us!!!  It was just right.

Which parks did you visit?
We spent two days in the Magic Kingdom and one day at Hollywood Studios.  Again, perfect for us!  We almost didn’t do Hollywood Studios, but I am SO glad we did.  It was a full day!  Great shows and the Toy Story Mania ride was awesome (get a fast pass first thing in the morning, they’re gone by lunch)!!!   Of course, there are parades and shows along the way, but here are some of our favorites from our trip:

Magic Kingdom Must Do’s:  Enchanted Tales with Belle, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid ride, Visit Ariel at the Grotto, The Carousel (think we did this at least 10 times), Peter Pan’s Magic Flight (I could’ve done without this one), It’s a Small World, Pete’s Silly Sideshow, Princess Meet and Greet, Mickey Meet& Greet, ***Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique***, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Disney’s Electrical Parade (night parade), and Wishes (fireworks and animation)!  

Hollywood Studios Must Do’s: Toy Story Mania, Muppet Vision 3D, Beauty and the Beast Live, Disney Junior Live, Voyage of the Little Mermaid Show, and Fantasmic (night show…it’s a little scary for the littles, but still a good show). 

What camera equipment did you take?
In addition to my camera, I took an external flash and three lenses.  I took a 50mm 1.4 (a must for all of the crazy low light indoors; also great shooting wide open to eliminate the crowd distractions), a 24-70 2.8, and a 70-200 2.8.  I used the first two the most.  I only used my telephoto lens once.  Next time, I will most likely leave the heavy telephoto at home.  If you aren’t comfortable shooting manually, or don’t want to haul a camera, Disney’s Photo Pass would be a great option!  There are photographers everywhere and you can easily grab one to capture a moment for you….they are literally always there!  Some of the lighting conditions are unpredictable or they may not allow flash.  It would be well worth the money to have them snap some for you. 

A little added magic:
Each night, a princess left a gift in our room which was themed for the next day’s agenda.  For example, Ariel left a gift the morning we went to Hollywood Studios with an Ariel nightgown, Ariel light up wand, Ariel lip gloss, and an Ariel doll.  Cinderella and Snow White left a gift on Magic Kingdom days.  Belle left a special gift on the day we went to the boutique (since she dressed up as Belle).  I hear that the princesses stock up on gifts at the Disney store before your trip (wink…wink).  Those light up toys are about $15 more on site, so it was nice to hand her a $3 light up wand as she pointed to the extravagant cart that wheeled by!  Don’t worry, she got everything she wanted and more…lol!

Capture the moments!
It’s so important to pull out your camera or not be afraid to get the shot.  So many times, I almost put my camera down because I didn’t want to be in the way.  I am so glad that I took the time to either wait my turn and get the shot or run like a maniac down Main Street to race to the front of the castle for my treasured Belle picture.  It’s your vacation; a lifetime of memories will be made in that park!  I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  Be sure to get plenty of pictures….maybe not 1300 like crazy paparazzi mama here, but get the ones that count….the ones that melt your heart into a puddle!  I have 300 that I will print and treasure forever.  I have looked at them countless times already!!!  Here are a few of my favorites.  It was so hard to pick!  Again, thanks for letting me share.  Happy planning!!!

2012_collage 2013_collage_template another collage four cinderella


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