Well we did it. We survived Disney World with a toddler! At 22 months Lily did better than expected and Mike & I soaked up every one of her smiles and giggles. Did we have meltdowns….of course. Did she enjoy all the rides….nope. Did we get to ride a lot of rides….nope. Even with tears and hitting a small fraction of attractions we still had a blast.
We planned to attend the Magic Kingdom on Thursday and Friday. With a reservation for breakfast with the characters at 8 am on Thursday we drove up on Wednesday to make it easier for all of us. Tampa is around one hour and forty minutes away from the park. Add additional drive time for morning traffic and we would have to get up way too early for my liking. Plus I wanted Lily to be well rested for the day.
Oh the character breakfast was a hoot. Lily has a 50/50 split on freak outs while meeting “characters”. Santa was a nightmare (read about that here) and surprisingly the Easter bunny was cake. We went to Cape May Café at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. The park opened at 9 am so I made a 8am reservation and we had plenty of time to eat, take pictures and drive over to the Park. To make your life easier make a reservation. Disney makes it really simple by either calling (407)939-7211 or heading to their website (click here) to make your reservation. I used the online option because after inputting the day and number of guests I was given all available reservation times at all of the restaurants that offered character dining. Make sure you read all about the restaurant you chose regarding which characters might be present and food options (all of this can be found on their website!). Cape May Café had all of the characters Lily was familiar with. It was a buffet type breakfast and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck showed up and Lily was so excited she could care less about the Mickey Mouse waffle in front of her. If your child is like mine make sure you pack a LOT of snacks because Lily was so excited about the characters that she barely ate her breakfast.
After watching Goofy meet & greet six tables he finally approached her. No tears and no hesitation from her as she reached out to touch one of her favorites (I think it’s because his moves to the ‘Hot Dog Dance’ are her favorite!). Not only did he make her giggle, hug her, kiss her and pose for a picture…he made sure to shake Mike & I’s hands. Donald Duck was ambushed by a HUGE tour of foreigners, so we concentrated on meeting Minnie before leaving because after all Lily was wearing the cutest pillow case dress featuring a Minnie Mouse logo (the personalized dress is from Seams So Pretty on Etsy).
Not wanting Minnie to get swallowed by the huge touring group, we went to the front and waited for Minnie to finish taking pictures in a different room. Mike said I was more excited than Lily and that was probably true.
After breakfast we continued on to the park for a few hours of magic, laughing, crying, dancing and sweating. We hit up It’s A Small World first when we saw it was only a 5 minute wait. Lily was mesmerized by all of the colors, moving people, flying monkeys and butterflies. It was our favorite ride with her. Peter Pan was next door so we got in line even though it said a 20-minute wait. The line seemed to be moving fast and she was still riding high from the last ride. When she started to get a little cranky I took out the iphone and played an episode of Mickey’s Clubhouse (of course!). I was so hot that the phone stuck to my chest, which actually made it really convenient!
Peter Pan was dark and way to scary….so Lily flipped out…BIG time. I mean at the end of the ride Captain Hook is being swallowed by a huge gator! Lily cried for 10 minutes straight. We tried to take her on the carrousel but the tears were still flowing that we took her of the horse before the ride started. To soothe her (and help with the heat) we grabbed a cup of chocolate ice cream. Scored points with this!
With ice cream in hand we went to check out Dumbo since it was an outdoor ride and we knew it wasn’t going to be another dark ride. This ride was perfect for hot & tired parents because there’s an indoor area where kids play while you wait to ride.
Next to Dumbo was character meet & greet with Minnie, Daisey, Goofey and Donald. With a small line, animals crackers and the iPhone got us through the 12 minute wait. You are allowed to take pictures with your own camera, but Disney also has their fabulous Photopass program. All over the park you will find professional photographers that will snap great photos of your family. After the pictures are taken the photographer will give you a Photopass card. Each time you have one of Disney’s photographers take a picture throughout your stay they will scan that card. To view your pictures you input your cards id number on their website and you can decide if you want to purchase them or not.
It’s a Small World was our favorite ride, but the parades were amazing! Our favorite was the Shake It parade (there are several of these parades that happen all day and night!). We grabbed a great spot in front of Cinderella’s castle and watched all the floats and street dancers perform. There were even stilt walkers that Lily loved. There are several floats and on each on there are a few characters. We lucked out with our location because Mickey & Minnie were on the one in front of us. At the end of this parade the dancers bring kids and parents into the street to dance along with them. Mike and I had sweat pouring down our face and back but we kept moving and shaking along because we were making some great memories. Lily hit her wall after the parade so we went back to the hotel for naptime. Since Disney World doesn’t serve alcohol at the park I brought a six-pack of Pacifico beer and had it chillin back at the hotel. It was exactly what Mike and I needed while we propped up our tired feet while Lily napped.
We took advantage of the resort’s pool after her nap. Our feet told us to stay and relax. With Lily still being so young she wouldn’t be able to stay up to watch the nightly fireworks so we ordered room service and had a family picnic in our hotel room.
On Friday we hit up It’s a Small World again and then went to the Winnie the Pooh ride. That ride was scarier than Peter Pan!! At one point you are riding in a dark forest and Tiger jumps out of the bushes and behind trees. There was another dark room where the forest is being flooded and it appeared all the characters were struggling to stay afloat….scary I tell you. Lily flipped out. I was afraid her screams would start to scare the little girl that was sitting with her parents behind us, but she was a trooper. After that we decided to stay off any rides that were inside. We floated on Aladin’s magic carpet ride after (just like Dumbo) and thought we would visit the Tiki Room for their 9 minute musical show. We made it less than a minute. The lights went out and a mechanical bird lit up and started talking…it was 30 seconds of pure fear and we had to get up in the middle of the show (in the front row) and exit.
This time we calmed her with some buttered pop corn. We toured Tom Sawyer’s Island, had lunch and ran to Cinderella’s castle to dance in the street with Mickey at the parade. The heat was brutal and combine that with dancing with a toddler on your hip and I was wiping away cups of sweat from my forehead. We were all exhausted and decided to head home after. Disney was a great time. Lily most likely won’t remember it but Mike and I will. Lily gets into the Magic Kingdom for FREE until the age of three…so I see future visits to take advantage of that great deal! Stay tuned for a future post with all the tips and ideas on how to survive Disney World with a toddler! (check that post out here)