Posts Tagged ‘disney’

My Week(346) in iPhone Photos

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

This was Disney Week, which is incredibly depressing now. I mean, don’t get me wrong, looking at the pictures of our awesome time is awesome. But right now life is so so so so so soooooo not as fun and carefree and awesome as Disney World. Disney World had delicious food and working bathrooms. My house has Pop Tarts and construction.

Sunday:

Linc likes everything about Disney World

Including the hats

I liked my giant plate of seafood

Monday:

Stitch can’t swim

Mickey cupcakes

Princess dinners

Tuesday:

Happy place

SO HAPPY

Can we go back now?

Wednesday:

Excellent lunch, would recommend

WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE

Finn meets a wookie

Thursday:

Test Track car A+ design skills

They loved meeting ALL the characters

Joy and Sadness

Friday:

Considering we were there during a “busy” time, seating was never a problem

Elephants

I made this the wallpaper on my phone

Saturday:

Back to the real world where everything isn’t shaped like Mickey

Big Kid

Looooooong driving day. Florida is very far away.

Ok, I made it. I think the next week is going to be a short post because I was so busy not doing ANYTHING that I barely took pictures. It was great.

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Introducing: Baby Lincoln!

Our First Disney Trip: What I Learned That Can Help You Plan

Friday, July 7th, 2017

 

I am not, nor will I ever claim to be, a Disney World expert. But considering our trip was the first time I had been in 15 years and the first visit with kids, our week was remarkably smooth and fun. So here is a summary (ha! as if I am capable of writing a summary instead of a novel) of the best advice I have for Fastpasses, dining, and more.

FASTPASS+

Most of the popular rides at Disney World have two lines: standby, which is the regular line, and Fastpass, which is for people who made a reservation for a window of time where they can come back and ride with minimal wait. They’ve updated everything about Fastpasses in the decade since I was that there – no more paper tickets! You want Fastpasses. Because we stayed at an official Disney resort, we got Magic Bands, which are digital wristbands that hold all our stuff electronically, including our Fastpasses. It also meant we could make our Fastpass reservations online 60 days before our actual trip – if you stay off-property your reservations can be made 30 days in advance. Here is the TouringPlans page with all the technical details of how to make FP reservations. Read it and be prepared to book as soon as your window opens. Once you know how to book FPs, here is what I would recommend:

  1. Book your first Fastpass for 30 minutes after the park opens. If you are like my family and want to spend as much time in the parks as possible, you can get there before they open and be one of the first people in (it’s called “rope dropping”) to get to one popular ride first thing with almost no wait. But after that, you’ll be in the park with all the other people who came early, so ride times immediately go up.
  2. Book all your Fastpasses before noon (if you can). Once you use up your 3 FPs for the day, you can get one more. Once you use that one, you can get another, and so on. But you HAVE to have used up your first three to book a fourth. If you have one at 9 am, one at 10 am and one at 5 pm, you’ll be standing in regular lines for that whole middle part of the day. Plus as the day goes on they run out of Fastpasses for popular rides, so after about 2 or 3 pm your choices for FP are limited. We had no problem getting a 4 pm Pirates of the Caribbean FP around noon in the park the day of our visit, but Space Mountain wasn’t available anymore.
  3. Understand the tier system. All the parks other than the Magic Kingdom now have tiers for their FPs, so you can only hold one top tier FP at a time. Decide which tier 1 ride is the most important to you and then plan to rope drop the park for a second tier 1 ride and hopefully book your 4th FP for a third. Another method would be to plan to do more than one day at each park, because you can have 3 Fastpasses each day of your visit. We will do more than 1 day per park if (when) we go again, so I’m looking forward to that plan.
  4. Get a Fastpass for Flights of Passage in Pandora. Don’t bother with one for the other Pandora ride. The line for FoP was never less than 120 minutes while we were there, so we were super glad to have the FP. They’re currently full 30 days out, so be sure to do that one FIRST as soon as your window opens.
  5. Rider swap + Fastpass = BEST. Rider swap is for families with kids who are too short or too scared for some rides. There are a lot of rides with no height restriction at all, but when babies or toddlers can’t ride they will give you a ticket so the other grown up can wait with them and then use the Fastpass line (even if you didn’t originally have a Fastpass). But when you combine them, both parents get to ride and the kids get to ride twice all in usually under 30 minutes. Also good to note is the rider swap paper pass is good for a long time – several days or more – so if something comes up and you don’t have time a chance to ride right away you can come back and do it later.
  6. If you’re doing rider swap on a ride you have a Fastpass for, make sure both grown ups swipe their Magic Bands to “clear” their FP. While the kids and I were on Big Thunder Mountain, E waited with the babies. Because that was our last Fastpass, E booked us our fourth FP from his phone for Pirates later. But since he hadn’t scanned in his band when we checked in for rider swap, he couldn’t book his own fourth FP because it still had one for Big Thunder Mountain. He didn’t NEED the FP for Big Thunder Mountain because a rider swap pass IS a Fastpass. This is also how in theory both grown ups could have ridden Big Thunder Mountain (or other rides) twice each using the Fastpass line. It works like this: I check in for rider swap with my FP and the kids, scan my band, and get the rider swap ticket. When I get off the ride with the kids, E takes the rider swap pass and rides again with the kids. Then when he gets off, HE swipes his FP, gets another rider swap pass, rides with the kids. Then he gives me the rider swap, I take the kids and we ride again. Then both grown ups have ridden twice and the kids ride four times. I have seen various opinions of this on the internet, both for and against. The consensus seems to be that cast members don’t mind as long as you’re not rude about it. But I wouldn’t try it on something super popular, like the Pandora rides, and I wasn’t comfortable “cheating” the FP system even if Disney allows it so it’s not actually cheating.
  7. Be on time. If you are significantly early or late you might get turned away. We were less than 60 seconds late for a show FP and it was fine. We were 20 minutes early for another FP and they flagged us (the band scanner flashed instead of glowing green). The cast member waved us through with a reminder to check our window, which was kind of him, but I saw other people turned away because they were more than an hour outside their window. But also remember your FP window is a WINDOW. If you have a FP for Peter Pan’s Flight at 10:30 and it’s only 10:15, look around and see what the wait time for Small World or the carousel is. You can be on and off those in less than half an hour and still be right in the middle of your Fastpass window.
  8. Fastpasses for Character Meets are a toss up. They’re good because character lines can be REALLY long and they’re usually also really boring. But those wait times tend to vary, so you might be better off using FPs for rides and keeping an eye on your wait time app (see below) for a shorter line. If (when) we go again, the only character meet I will get a Fastpass for is the Mickey Mouse in Magic Kingdom who talks. Even the “40 minute wait” for Elena wasn’t that bad.

 

DINING PLAN

There is a lot of discussion about whether or not the dining plans are a good deal. I do not know. I am very detail-oriented about a lot of things…but not when it comes to money (I’m a terrible adult). I did not make spreadsheets to figure out if we could save money on food if we paid cash instead of adding the dining plan to our room. And I am fine with that choice. I LOVED the dining plan. We used almost all of it correctly and only had to use up a few extra snacks on road trip food on our way out. Here are the things I loved about it and the suggestions I have:

  1. You need to plan dining ahead if you want to eat at sit-down restaurants. There were so many people who walked up to the podiums and said “Hi, how long is the wait?” and the hostess was like “…for dinner…today?” Figure out where you want to eat ahead of time so you can make reservations ASAP.
  2. Book character meals. Most of our sit-down meals (called Table Service) were character dining: Princesses at 1900 Park Fare, Disney Jr characters at Hollywood & Vine, more princesses at Akershus, and Mickey and friends at Tusker House. They were ALL great. They were also all buffets, so it felt like a good value. Babies who are too young for the dining plan (under 3 years old) can eat whatever they want at buffets.
  3. Use your snack credits. We were really busy the first day and only used 3 of the 8 snack credits we were given. They carry over, so we used them eventually, but it we should have used them more regularly to grab stuff anytime we wanted it. Especially on drinks. Just get a bottle of soda if you’re thirsty (or a Starbucks, those count as snacks). Don’t agonise over it.
  4. We did not eat any of the food I brought from home in the parks. We did eat granola bars and pop tarts in our room for breakfast a couple times, but I WAY overestimated how much food I needed to bring on my own. I won’t waste space or money on those snacks again.
  5. Our dining plan came with refillable mugs. They’re ONLY refillable with soda at resorts, not in the parks. We brought them to the parks to use for water and then never actually used them. Don’t bother dragging them around all the time – if you really need a water bottle to refill, just bring one you like from home. (The line for Na’vi River Journey has this new drinking fountain/bottle filler station in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started replacing drinking fountains with those, since every time I saw a drinking fountain someone was using it to fill up mugs/bottles.)
  6. There are a lot of lists called “best foods to try at Disney!”. I thought everything was the best. You’re at Disney, even plain old ice cream sandwiches taste better when they’re shaped like Mickey Mouse.

TECHNOLOGY

Disney World is firmly caught up to the times and having a good smart phone, portable battery and a charger will make your day a lot easier.

  1. The official My Disney Experience app. Use this to make and manage your Fastpasses, find bathrooms, check wait times, look at maps, and more. You can even see your PhotoPass pictures almost immediately. It’s a good app.
  2. A free app called “Wait Times for Disney World”. It loads faster and is quicker to check than the official app and we found it to be very accurate. It has all 4 parks.
  3. Character Locator. I just pinned the homepage for the site to my screen like an app. I also paid the $7 for full access. It was a great way to find roaming characters and has important info like “do they sign autographs?” and “do they talk?” It even has suggestions for how to have fun interactions. It has a lot more than just characters (park hours, height requirements, menus) so it was great to browse while waiting in lines or during meals so I could plan what was next.
  4. Make a schedule of the park hours, your Fastpass times, dining reservations, any shows or parades you want to watch, then take a screenshot and make it your lock screen. You need to communicate times and locations to the people you are with constantly. This is a very fast way to check your schedule.
  5. We bought the Memory Maker photo package so we got all the pictures taken by the PhotoPass photographers and it was absolutely worth the money for us. We got all the “important” photos done with the official park photogs and I was free to take pictures of the kids when I had time. The only photos they don’t cover is character meals. Plus they do hilarious, awesome magic photos like this one:

OTHER STUFF

Here are a few things we learned on this trip:

  1. Staying in a nicer resort is more money because it’s worth more money. The pools have water slides and the transportation to the parks is better. Even if you’re just taking buses, the pick-up spots are closer to the park exit, they aren’t as crowded, and there are more of them. We saw 3 Wilderness Lodge buses for every Art of Animation bus that stopped. Even if it means we have to split our trip between two hotels – a nice one for the first park days and a value resort for other days – we’ll stay somewhere with boat, monorail or even walking park access next time.
  2. Don’t be mad when you can’t do everything. We never even did the spinning teacups. Or Enchanted Tales with Belle, or the baby rollercoaster for Linc or anything in the dinosaur section, or most of Tomorrowland. And we missed two fireworks shows AND the parade. It’s fine. No one but the grown ups even realised we miss stuff and we can do it next time.
  3. Starbucks is a snack credit. We only did it once but I would have been a MUCH happier mama in the mornings if I had a huge coffee for breakfast every day.
  4. Try not to carry around more stuff that you have to. And revisit what “have to” means each day. I should not have brought two cameras. We didn’t need to do pin trading EVERY day. We also didn’t need to bring our mouse ears to every park because no one wore them after the first day. All those things add up and the fewer things you have to carry and/or push in a stroller the better.
  5. If at all possible, schedule a vacation after your Disney trip. Because Disney is a trip, not a vacation, and you will need a vacation. We went to visit my parents for the week after Disney World and it was a great plan. We didn’t have to walk anywhere, we didn’t have a schedule, we didn’t have to set any alarms. I also got to do all our laundry, so we came home with mostly clean clothes. Or if you can’t do a whole extra vacation, plan a day in the middle to relax and a day at the end to relax.

 

 

 

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Our First Disney Trip: Animal Kingdom

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Previously: Non-park days, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot

By Friday, I was afraid I wouldn’t actually make it out of bed. The thought of putting my shoes on made me want to cry. But I also really, really wanted to see Pandora and go on the Everest roller coaster and do the safari ride and meet Donald Duck and, funny enough, none of that stuff was available in my hotel room so off to the Animal Kingdom we went!

Sunrise from our hotel room:

Children NOT interested in waking up:

My original plan for Friday was that we would get to Animal Kingdom early enough to be the first (or almost first) people on Flights of Passage so we would have time to see the standby line, then ride the Na’vi River Journey before our 8:30 am Flights of Passage Fastpass. There’s a lot of stuff to see in the line while you wait, but only while you wait, not in the Fastpass tunnel. But because we slept in a little bit and got to Animal Kingdom right as the opened the wait time for Flights of Passage was already greater than 45 minutes. The wait time for Na’vi River Journey was essentially nothing though, so walking onto that and then using our Flights of Passage Fastpass worked out great.

Pandora was fun to look around and explore. We loved how much there was too look at and explore. I took a zillion pictures but it was really sunny and the kids couldn’t even look at the camera so all I have to share are landscape pics. We somehow lost the family photo the Photopass photographer (booo).

Flights of Passage was the most amazing ride I have ever been on. I let myself get hyped up because I had heard such AMAZING reviews and 30 seconds into the ride I was like “Oh this is really nice but I don’t know if I’m blown away…” and then I was totally blown away.

Ok, so, this is where I want to mention that I almost let something that happened that morning completely ruin our trip. While we were waiting to go into the pre-ride show for Flights of Passage, one of the kids said they needed to pee but swore to me they could hold it. They did not hold it. And I did not handle it well. I feel way worse about how angry I was – I was super embarrassed and expressed that as anger – than I did about the actual situation. Even with the Fastpass the Flights of Passage pre-show plus other pre-show plus ride was at least 30 minutes long and when you’re a kid who really has to pee…that’s a long time. So here is the lesson I learned: EVERY time you see a bathroom, make the kids use it. We had had a couple close calls on the previous days, but I hadn’t yet realized we needed to make a rule about at least TRYING to go every hour. Also, bring extra clothes for everyone, not just the babies. And don’t yell at your kids at Disney World, you’ll just feel like a huge a-hole.

Because of that…delay…we ran out of time for E to rider swap immediately and had to go over to Africa for our Kilimanjaro Safari Fastpass. I took way too many pictures of far away animals. And now I’m going to make you look at some of them!

I let Caroline hold my phone during that whole tour because she REALLY wanted to take pictures of the animals. I’ll spare you any of those. Not that you could tell what they are even if I did post them. Bouncing tram + cell phone + 6-year-old = blurry nonsense.

After the safari we went back to Pandora because E couldn’t wait any longer to ride Flights of Passage. Which is a valid way to feel, it’s incredible.

While E and the kids were using their rider swap, I went to Pongu Pongu to try out one of the drinks I had heard about.

The drink is called a Night Blossom and it’s “a mix of limeade combined with apple and desert pear flavors finished off with passion fruit boba balls”. I loved it so much I drank all of mine and then stole Lincoln’s. He only really cared about the boba balls so I left those for him at the end. The food thing is pineapple and cream cheese deep fried inside…something? I can’t remember what they are called but they were SO GOOD.

Finnegan agrees the pineapple things are delicious.

After my family got off the ride, I made them all buy Night Blossoms too. They agreed it was an excellent decision. Also, it was our last day in the parks and we still had a bunch of snack credits to use up, so using them in Pandora seemed like a good call.

Animal Kingdom is a really big park and I had done the least amount of minute-by-minute planning for our day there – all our Fastpasses were very early – so we had a lot of free time. We ended up crisscrossing back and forth and back and forth around the different countries many many times. There isn’t really a good way to completely avoid that, but I’m definitely going to do more planning if (when) we go back. We rode Kali River Rapids and the kids were disappointed to not get soaking wet. I think they would have ridden it all day just hoping to get splashed.

Some of the walking is unavoidable though. The Animal Kingdom is maybe just a little bit like a really fancy zoo, so we took one of the trails to see the tigers and then just wandered around checking out the cool Disney imagineering.

After some exploring, we checked into our lunch at Tusker House. Shocking information: it was a character meal and a buffet. Other shocking information: it was great. It was also not at all crowded and some of the characters came back around to visit the kids (mostly Lincoln) again. ALSO, they let us bring the stroller into the restaurant because both babies were sleeping in it. Finn slept through almost all of lunch but we woke Linc up. He never would have forgiven us if he missed Donald Duck.

Grumpy 8-year-olds who don’t want to be in the picture don’t stand a chance against Mickey.

After lunch we took the train out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where we met Rafiki. Doc McStuffins was also out there, so if you wanted to see her that’s the secret no-wait spot. The train ride was relaxing, the actual area was not super exciting. But it wasn’t crowded, which was super nice!

Caroline isn’t as miserable as she looks in that photo, I swear.

Then we FINALLY made it over to Expedition Everest, which Evan and Caroline were most excited about.

HE REALLY WAS EXCITED. Did I mention this was day 4 of the parks? We were all so tired.

We spent a lot of time in Asia section of the park in the afternoon. It wasn’t too crowded, there were places to sit, and the kids really loved riding Expedition Everest so we rode it a bunch of times. Considering it’s the only real coaster in the park (I am anti-Dinoland, we didn’t ride any of that junk besides the Dinosaur ride) I have no idea why there were always Fastpasses available, but as soon as we swiped in with a FP we’d book another for a little later. I think I rode twice and E rode three times which means the kids rode five times.

Pro tip: $5 bubble gun from the craft store can keep a toddler busy while he waits for the big kids to ride their roller coaster.

The Anandapur Ice Cream truck will make you ice cream floats with any combination they have. The kids got chocolate soft serve and root beer. E and I got vanilla soft serve with Orange Crush. They were all delicious and such a good refreshing snack.

I took more photo at Animal Kingdom than anywhere else. It was partly because our day was a liiiittle less busy, partly because the crowds weren’t bad so I could set up shots, and partly because it took me that many days to get into my photography groove. I even have a roll of film to develop from this day. We also managed to get a couple family photos from the Photopass people:

 

 

Our lunch with the characters was actually part of a package that included seating for the first showing of Rivers of Light. It meant we didn’t have to waste a Fastpass on a 9 pm show and we didn’t have to get in line hours early to get a seat.

Poor Finnegan was DONE by the time we picked out seats at around 8:45. E tried wearing him to get him to calm down but the only thing that helped was letting him just nurse and nurse and nurse until he fell asleep. I had a hard time working my camera around an angry, nursing baby, so a lot of these photos were actually taken by E.

After ALL OF THAT, we still had to head back to Pandora to see it at night.

Pictures don’t really do it justice. It’s so cool. Also cool: one of my friends from high school did some of the lighting! We were in drama together. That last part was probably obvious.

We got a family photo with the members of the family who were still awake:

And then I decided that no matter how tired we were, eating something for dinner needed to be a priority and I really wanted that dinner to be in Pandora. So we stood in a (pretty short) line in the canteen to try the Pandora food.

I got a build-your-old bowl with rice, beef, and creamy sauce. E and Caroline got steamed cheeseburgers. I think Evan got a grilled cheese, but it was gone before I could even take a picture. And then we had these blueberry cheesecake things for dessert.

It was all delicious. I’m still thinking about rice bowl and trying to figure out how to recreate it at home. I also tried the steamed cheeseburgers and although I was skeptical, they were actually really well spiced and the bun was surprisingly good. I’m not sure it would be worth a super long wait, but it was definitely a great use of our meal plan credit and completely different from any other food we had all week.

And then it was time to go home! I tried to take a picture of the Tree of Light waking up on our way out, but nighttime photography needs a tripod and instead of a tripod I was wearing a toddler.

And that is it! Our whole Disney vacation!

I’m working on a post now about what I learned while planning the trip (about stuff like Fastpasses and dining) so if you have any questions feel free to ask so I can include the answers. I’m not a Disney expert by any means but that’s not going to stop me from offering advice based on what worked for us.

This trip was so fun and so magical and gave us all the core memories we could possibly want. If you’re a Disney-person at all, you should go to Disney World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our First Disney Trip: Fashion

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

I wrote most of this post before we left on vacation, so I’m just adding notes and photos, which is why some of it sounds like we haven’t gone yet.

This is where I admit I went WAY SUPER OVERBOARD with our Disney trip outfits. I started with a plan to get us matching family Disney shirts for just our first day in the Magic Kingdom. Then I decided we needed matching family Disney shirts for EVERY day of parks. I eventually backed off the fully-matching idea and went with park-themed shirts for each day, plus a few extra shirts (it’s June in Florida, I have a nursing baby and a toddler, we all need extra shirts) and a princess dress or three (oooooor a few more) for Caroline to wear to character meals. Oh and pajamas. And maybe a bathing suit or two. I bought all those things. (Many links in this post are affiliate or referral links – if you don’t want me to get any pennies for your click just type in the stores and search for the items instead of clicking through.)

Short version: I found that the best sources for Disney t-shirts were normal stores – Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s – and sometimes the Disney Store. I did almost all my shopping online. For custom shirts, Etsy was my go-to. My NUMBER ONE TIP if you’re shopping for Disney shirts would be to sign up for Ebates. Everywhere from Etsy to the Disney Store to Target offer cashback – I’ve made almost $40 with the shopping I’ve done for our trip, and that doesn’t include extras like new prescription sunglasses. If you use my link to sign up, I get a bonus and you get $10 free to get you started. Ebates are great, sign up even if you don’t use my link, then get the plug-in for Chrome so it alerts you when they’re available.

Long version: Day by day guide with sources!

FREE DAY/PRINCESS DINNER

We have reservations at 1600 Park Fare the night before we start doing the parks. Beginning with a magical princess character meal means even if every other day is a hot mess, at least we get to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming.

I am wearing a princess tank top from Zulily (if you haven’t purchased from them before and use my link to sign up, I get a credit). E is wearing his Gaston t-shirt also from Zulily. Caroline is wearing a vintage Mickey print dress made by Rainbow Waters, who I’ve recommended before as one of my favorite spots to buy Caroline fun clothes. Evan is wearing his Kylo Ren t-shirt from the Disney Store. Lincoln is wearing a Moana shirt from Old Navy and Finnegan is wearing a Mickey shirt from The Disney Store. I also bought Disney bathing suits for most of the kids. The two best were the absolutely fantastic Stitch full-body wet suit for Finnegan and the Moana bathing suit for Caroline, both from The Disney Store.

Disney bathing suits

Various Nemo pajamas were super on sale from Target online.

Finding Nemo Pajamas


A note about costumes: Caroline owns a lot of princess dresses and is generally a kid who LOVES to play dress up. Since we’re going to be eating character meals with several princesses I wanted to make sure Caroline had the option to wear her dress up. Unfortunately, a lot of our dress up isn’t really Disney-World-friendly – either I bought it too big so she could get more years of use out of it, it’s too long for walking around, or it’s the cheap kind that gets itchy pretty fast. People in one of the Disney FB groups I joined highly recommended Mom Approved Costumes and I ordered a couple dresses for Caroline and Jedi capes for the boys. I LOVE them. They’re packable, machine-washable, have completely finished interior seams and no itchy parts. If you use my link you’ll get 10% off your first order and I earn points in their loyalty program. The dresses run about $30 a piece, which is more expensive than the cheap ones you can get from AliExpress or even the toy department at Target, but a lot less than the nice ones from The Disney Store. I’m bringing: Elena (from The Disney Store), Cinderella (from AliExpress), Ariel ballgown (Mom Approved), Ariel day dress (Mom Approved), Anna day dress (Mom Approved),  Moana (Mom Approved), a Dark Side cape for Evan (Mom Approved), a Jedi cape for Linc (Mom Approved), and pirate costumes for both boys (AliExpress). The princess dresses ended up working out perfectly but the boys never wore the pirate costumes because of time. Next visit we’ll do more pirate stuff.

Caroline wore all but one of her princess dresses and said she found the Mom Approved Costumes even more comfortable than her regular clothes. She bonded with all the princesses over her great outfits and reveled in being called princess every day (to be fair, they call all little girls princess, but she felt extra special).

princess dresses at Disney

Caroline also ended up in Linc’s Jedi robes, because he didn’t care about them and she did VERY MUCH. There weren’t any other kids at Hollywood Studios with their own robes, so ours were a big hit and I would definitely recommend them.

 

MAGIC KINGDOM

We are all wearing our Best Day Ever shirts from MouseApparel. I cannot recommend this shop enough, the owner was helpful and gracious and almost as excited about our trip as I am. She went out of her way to make sure every detail of our shirts are exactly what I imagined. She even wrote me back immediately after I asked my first question even though she was AT Disneyland. My in-laws kindly embroidered the kids’ names on the backs of their shirts.

family disney shirts Best Day Ever

Family matching Disney Shirts

EPCOT

We have a princess lunch booked, so we went with a Frozen theme. This was the moment I knew E was going to be just as into this whole over the top Disney thing as I am: when I showed him these shirts and he said “Definitely order those.” Sandwiches shirts from Once Upon A Mickey Tee. Caroline’s Frozen tee is from Kohl’s, Finn’s tee is from The Disney Store, and the two Miles from Tomorrowland shirts are from ThredUp (if you use my referral link, you and I both get a $10 credit), which is a website/app that consigns kid’s and women’s clothes. Lincoln’s is new with tags and was only a few dollars. I would start browsing there as long in advance as you can, since they add new stuff all the time.

family disney shirts Epcot

Family matching Disney Shirts at epcot

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Our plans for Hollywood Studios are 90% Star Wars, so that’s our shirt theme. My husband and oldest child insist they are Sith Lords (There are always two) so they get dark side shirts from Teepublic. The rest of us are good people, so we’re on the right side of the rebellion. All our shirts are from Kohl’s. Linc was BB8 for Halloween, so he’ll wear the hat from his costume too. He wears it all the time. I cut my Rebels t-shirt into a tank and a friend hemmed the edges for me. Then I decided I needed a second Star Wars shirt and bought one that says “A Woman’s Place Is In The Resistance“. Perfect for Hollywood Studios AND everyday life.

family disney shirts Star Wars Hollywood Studios

Family star wars shirts

ANIMAL KINGDOM

The shows and characters at Animal Kingdom are animal based (duh) so I went with animal movies for our outfits. My shirt and E’s shirt came from Teepublic (I spent a lot of time browsing there, they have some really great shirts). Mine is hard to see but it has Disney birds in cages – Donald, Kevin, Zazu, Wise Old Owl, etc. The kids thought it was HILARIOUS. Evan and Lincoln’s shirts came from ThredUp. Caroline’s Lion King shirt came from Kohls’ and Finn’s shirt came from The Disney Store. I was worried Linc’s shirt would be way too big for him, so I did some more browsing and found a Mickey-lion shirt on the Disney Boutique Custom Resale group page. People destash all the shirts/dresses/shoes/things their kids wore ONE time in the parks, so it’s a great place to look for discounted but original stuff.

family disney shirts Animal Kingdom

Family animal kingdom shirts

I also ordered two custom embroidered shirts to put over our Tulas. Lincoln and Finn both love being worn. It’s also the easiest way to nurse Finn without having to take lots of sitting-down breaks. After reading some advice in the Tula Love group, I ordered a 4T for Finn’s standard Tula and a size 8 for Linc’s toddler Tula. Using a t-shirt as a cover is cheaper and easier than either buying new Tulas or having custom covers made, even if we only use them for this one week. The shirts worked well! I didn’t get a SINGLE good photo, but we got tons of compliments. Unfortunately, the white shirts got filthy pretty fast and I ended taking Finn’s off.

To prepare for our trip, I’m collecting all the clothes each kid needs each day (shirt, shorts, socks, underwear) into large Ziploc bags and labeling them by day/park. That way when we’re trying to get out of the hotel at 6 am no one struggles to find their shirt or puts on the wrong one. I’ve also packed separate Ziplocs for each kid to bring to the park with back-up clothes. I plan to put the bags they take their clothes out of each day into our park bag, so I have large Ziplocs available for storing dirty/wet clothes, protecting electronics if it rains, or holding unfinished snacks. This system worked really well. It was great to streamline our mornings and make sure nothing was missing.

Post-vacation note: BRING EXTRA CLOTHES FOR EVERYONE. Even if you’ve been carrying them around for 3 days and no one has needed any extra clothes and you think “We’re fine, I can stop lugging this extra stuff around.” No. You cannot. That is the day you will need them and buying shorts at Disney World will cost you at least $25. 

May I also strongly suggest these Old Navy compression capris I now own in four different patterns? Yes, we went in June and it was very hot, but I haaaaate shorts and I needed something that prevented thigh chafing and wouldn’t fall down or stretch out. These leggings were perfect. They dried quickly when I got wet, looked cute, and some even had cute matching sports bras to wear under my tanks. I actually saw at least half a dozen other moms wearing those pants, so I’m not the only one who thinks they’re perfect for Disney.

Another note: Crocs were great for the kids. They were a good choice and I’m super glad they broke them in ahead of time. 

Ok, one last note: You can wear almost anything you like and will be comfortable in. No one will care. You can’t be too earnest or too dorky at Disney World. I’d say about 30% of people were wearing Disney shirts, 30% had matching family shirts, and 30% were just wearing regular clothes. So don’t let it become something you stress about too much, unless you are like me and having things to stress about is actually part of the fun of planning.

Let me know if I missed anything you were looking for or need help finding Disney shirts!

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Our First Disney Trip: Hollywood Studios

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Previously: Disney Non-Park Day, Magic Kingdom

Right now (Summer 2017), Hollywood Studios is majorly under construction. They’re adding Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land (rumor says those will open in 2018 and 2019, respectively) so the park feels a little…messy. But some of my all-time favorite stuff is at Hollywood Studios, so we planned a full day at the park – and still ended up missing a bunch of things! Honestly, I used to think people who spent 10 days at Disney World were crazy, but after this trip I totally get it. If (when) we go again, it will be for a full week at minimum.

We got to Hollywood Studios before rope drop because we needed to get to the Rock’n’Rollercoaster as soon as they opened. I used my Tier 1 FastPass for the Buzz Lightyear ride and since we had our special Star Wars tour starting at 2:45 we couldn’t afford to stand in line for too long. Just like at Magic Kingdom, they let us part of the way into the park before officially opening and then held us at the end of the street until the real rope drop. We ended up stopped right in from of Starbucks, so I popped in and got two enormous mint frappuccinos (enormous frappuccinos are still only worth 1 snack credit each on the dining plan) and we got our morning buzz while we waited. It was perfect. Once 9 am hit, we scurried over to Rock’n’Rollercoaster where E and Evan basically walked right on. Caroline, Linc, Finn and I watched the line go from nothing to SUPER long, back to reasonable length, so my advice would be if you’re running 5-10 minutes late and aren’t there right at open, give it a few minutes before getting in line.

I rider switched with E, rode Rock’n’Rollercoaster with Evan (who loved it), and then we ran – almost literally – around the park to get all our other non-Star Wars stuff done as fast as possible.

We had a Fastpass for Disney Jr Live On Stage. We didn’t actually need the FP but I super recommend the show if you have little kids (or even medium sized kids) who like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sofia the First or Doc McStuffins. Linc lost his mind and even the big kids had a great time.

PhotoPass pictures from meeting Pluto:

We had another character meal planned for lunch at Hollywood & Vine. Sometimes it’s a Minnie Mouse and Friends lunch, but this month it was Disney Jr characters again. It worked out perfectly for us because we didn’t have time to do the character spots outside the show but all those same characters were at lunch. Once again the food was good, they let the babies eat as much as they wanted, and the characters were great with the kids. It wasn’t crowded and it took the right amount of time – long enough for us to take a rest in the air conditioning, but not so much time we got off schedule for the day.

We also stood in line to meet Buzz and Woody. 10000% worth it. 1000000000%. No matter how long that line is, we will always stand in it.

PhotoPass Photos:

Look at this photo. I can’t even handle this photo:

Right outside Buzz and Woody we ran into Green Army Man who was also an amazing meet. The kids played with him for a long time.

In the afternoon we had a Tower of Terror FastPass. E was kind enough to let me go with the kids first, but then we ran out of time for his turn before our Star Wars tour. (Don’t worry, he gets to ride it eventually.)

Caroline and I loved it. Evan, not so much.

And then it was time for our Star Wars Tour!

Here’s our two sentence review of the tour: It was fine, but not the best to do with small kids. It was ABSOLUTELY worth the money.

And here’s the long version: They took good care of us. We got ponchos and water and a chance to preorder whatever food we wanted for everyone (including babies). There were electronic earpieces so we could hear the tour. Our guides, Freddy and Harry knew a TON of stuff about Star Wars, the history of Stars Wars as it related to Disney, trivia about the rides and shows and other Stars Wars stuff. We got a tour of the concept art gallery, front row seats to the two Star Wars films, a ride on Star Tours, and a delicious dinner at the Backlot Express where we were stopped and questioned by Storm Troopers (which was super cool). Unfortunately, the weather was bad so the afternoon First Order parade was canceled, which was, like, the #2 reason I signed up for the tour. Even worse news, the Jedi Training also got canceled because of the rain, and that was definitely the #1 reason we paid for the tour. I started to worry we were going to miss everything I had really cared about and I was pretty bummed. We were not the only people on the tour missing those things – half the people didn’t care because they were grown-ups, but everyone with kids had signed up basically just so they could get guaranteed spots in Jedi Training. (Freddy and Harry told us that was a surprise to Disney. They thought the tour would be mostly adults super into Star Wars who wouldn’t care at all about missing Jedi Training, so having to come up with a way to fix it for people like us was hard.) But during dinner when they warned us things might not work out they also said: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” And they absolutely did.

It turns out Freddy had the power to give us pretty much anything. He looked at our schedule for the next day, booked us spots in the 10:10 am Jedi Training, changed our scheduled Epcot Fastpasses to magical, open-ended Fastpasses that worked on any ride at any time in Epcot, and then set up meets with Darth Vader not once but TWICE during the tour. He said if we hadn’t had park tickets for Thursday he could have gotten those for us too. And when we got to our rescheduled Jedi Training, one of our new tour friends told us his request had been both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren in the show, so that happened too (those photos are in tomorrow’s recap). Freddy even showed up on Thursday to make sure we were 100% happy. The level of customer service was everything you would expect from the most magical place on Earth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

 

In the evening, we went to the dessert party in the Launch Bay. You can buy tickets to JUST the dessert party, and I would absolutely recommend it. We might even do it again, because it was so fun.

I had read on some blogs that if you bring things to trade with the Jawas who hang out in this area they will give you droid parts or other small things. There isn’t a lot of advice on the internet about what, exactly, they will trade for, so I brought a baggie full of various things: dress up beads, marbles, Happy Meal toys, and a sparkly hair tie. The Jawa was super aloof and uninterested in us, refused to trade and kept walking away, so went to the dessert party. A while later we came back and Caroline tried trading her hair tie. The Jawa was much nicer that time, checking out her trade and admiring it because it was very sparkly. He (she?) ended up trading Caroline the tie for a glowing bouncy ball. Then the Jawa started “talking” to Lincoln, and a romance was born. They LOVED each other. It was honestly the cutest thing I have ever seen. E took some video of them, but there was another 10 or 15 minutes where they played together. The Jawa pretended he was going to keep Linc and I am pretty sure Linc was totally ok with that. Then I offered to take the Jawa home to Connecticut, but he didn’t know where that was. I told him “a galaxy far, far away” and we had a moment where he was very excited about my answer. At the end of the video you can see the Jawa tell us to wait there, which we did. He went and found another glowing ball to give Lincoln, even without anything in return.

Seriously, it was one of the absolute highlights of our trip and maybe the best character interaction the whole week. There were other kids and grown-ups around who took pictures with the Jawa or tried to trade – including one adult man who tried to boss the Jawa around – but none of them had much luck. I would recommend being as nice and gentle as possible. DON’T be pushy. The Jawa did not like pushy people. And bring the sparkliest things you can think of to trade.

Part of the dessert party was getting to meet BB8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. Because we were tour guests we didn’t have to wait at all, but even for just dessert party guests there was almost no line. That meant Chewy could spend a ton of time with the kids and again Disney showed off why their character interactions are SO amazing.

After dessert and drinks (alcohol for the grown-ups, all included) we were collected by the Storm Troopers and marched out to the special center-of-the-park viewing area for the Star Wars Gallactic Specactular. I am pretty sure there are regular Hollywood Studios fireworks earlier in the evening, but we didn’t see them. The Star Wars ones were very cool.

hollywood studios star wars day

 

hollywood studios star wars day

hollywood studios star wars day

And here are our PhotoPass pictures from all the Star Wars stuff:

And then we were done with Hollywood Studios day! Although we weren’t quite done with Hollywood Studios, because we came back for Jedi Training in the morning. Up next: our crazy Thursday where we went to THREE parks.

p.s. We did see Indiana Jones in there…somewhere. But we missed The Muppets and The Great Movie Ride. Next time!

p.p.s. I would REALLY love if they added Rey and Jyn Erso character meets. I realize they don’t currently have any Star Wars face characters (like the princesses in other parks) but maybe once they open Star Wars Land. I’ll go back pretty much just for those photos.

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