So my baby girl turned 5 on the 14th of September. Awhile back I started thinking about what we were going to do for it. She has a ton of toys and she’s relatively spoiled by grandparents and family so I knew there’d be a ton more on the way. Her absolute favorite thing in the world is the Disney Princesses. One of my best friends lives in Orlando (she works at Sea World) and I make an annual trip to see her every year, sans kids. Best time ever. I went down with my other best friend in April and while there decided that was what I was going to do for J’s birthday–Disney. And it would be a girls trip: just her and I.
Once I let some more time pass to think about it all (which was actually pretty difficult since we had the busiest summer ever and it felt like I was planning ten tons of other things!) and ran it by Hubby, it was the end of July before I decided for sure. I decided on the weekend (fly down sometime around the 11th and return around the 14th, based off of prices) then called for a spot in the highly coveted Bibbidity Bobbity Boutique (can I just say how much I despise that name?!?!). I got an appointment for Monday the 14th (her birthday!!) at 1130 am at the Downtown Disney location. You can read more about our experience there in my next post, here.
The flight was next. I was able to find us super cheap plane tickets through Allegiant, flying both of us down there and back for less than $200. I’ve flown with them a couple of times before and enjoy their airline. They may nickel and dime you for everything, but when you don’t need luggage, seat selection or priority boarding it’s a fantastic deal. We flew down Friday the 11th and returned Monday the 14th. The only thing I was hesitant about was school. Her first day of school was that Tuesday and then I would have to pull her out early on Friday, miss Monday and go in late on Tuesday. Whatever, it’s kindergarten. This is DISNEY. For CHEAP!
My Orlando connection, Noelle, used to work for Disney. I was hoping that she would be able to scrounge up a ticket or two for free since Disney is EX-PEN-SIVE. She tried her hardest, but was unable to find us anything. We were able to stay at her place though, so that made a huge difference in price at least. Both for lodging and food.
I figured out a general itinerary for us: Magic Kingdom Saturday, Sea World Sunday, and Downtown Disney/fly home Monday. Perfect. I used the phenomenal My Disney Experience app to book our three Fast Pass+s for Cinderella/Rapunzel, Ariel and Belle. My priority was to get in to see the Princesses…rides be damned. We can do those anywhere! For autographs I vacillated between getting a photo frame from Michaels and having everyone sign it (like this) or bringing a book so each Princess can sign her story. In the end I opted for the book–mainly because I didn’t feel like running to the store, haha. It worked out well because Auntie Amanda sent J the Disney Storybook Collection for her birthday so I gave it to her as an early birthday present.
Well, except for Merida…Brave wasn’t in there!! Which I didn’t discover until we were standing in line for her. I was shocked! So she signed the inside cover instead.
I also researched the best places to sit for the parades and screenshoted any other relevant information. Kenny the Pirate was the most amazingly helpful website ever! I spent hours browsing all of his tips and advice beforehand!
I decided to do a little something extra for the character greetings. I wanted J to color a picture for each princess to give them to keep. Twofold: just a little something “special” to make her stand out a bit more and (more importantly) it would kill time during the flight. I used my Silhouette program to print off cards for each character. I did Cinderella, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, Tiana, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa and Tinker Bell. I didn’t think we were going to see Aurora or Snow White, but I made one for them as well, just in case. I put two on a page, downloaded a picture of each princess and wrote their name. I printed them off and cut each page in half, and voila! Cheap idea! And worked very well for keeping J occupied. And the princesses loved the fact that they got something!
The trip was a surprise for J. She knew that we were going somewhere, just her and I, but had no idea where. Or how we were getting there. Once we were on our way to the airport I told her we were flying, which she was super excited about. She’s been on a plane once, when she was about 15 months old, but obviously doesn’t remember. She’s been begging to go on an airplane forever, so this was a real treat for her.
Once we were sitting at the shuttle stop I told her where we were going.
We were ready!
The flight, however, didn’t go so smoothly. We had a scheduled takeoff of 455 pm. After posting delays in half hour increments, we finally got on the plane at 730. And sat on it until 815 when it was determined they needed to do more mechanical repairs. At 10 pm they announced that we were ready to fly. At 1030 we were still sitting on the plane on the tarmac when they made the announcement that we would no longer arrive in Orlando before the pilots were required to go off duty. The flight would be rescheduled for 2 pm tomorrow. After another two hours waiting in line for a hotel voucher, getting on a shuttle and checking into the hotel, we finally collapsed into bed at 1245.
J was a trooper. There was no complaining, no whining, no nothing. She was frustrated, but an absolute angel.
We got to the airport the next day ready for our 2 pm takeoff. We were loaded on, heard all of the schpeels, and headed to the runway. We were first in line to take off…and then we stopped. Apparently there was some “tornadic weather activity” in Florida and the pilot was unsure if we would be able to takeoff or if we would have to go back to the airport for another delay. 5 minutes later we got the go-ahead and we were in the air! Since it was the same crew from the previous night, I bet no one was more relieved than the pilots and flight attendants. They knew there was going to be a massive revolt if we had to turn around. The crowd was…let’s say…antsy…
Since we arrived nearly 24 hours later than anticipated, plans had to be changed. The Magic Kingdom was switched to Sunday. Thank God it wasn’t high season so I didn’t have any problems switching our Fast Pass selections. Although the Boutique was supposed to be a surprise, I gave J the choice of either going there or to Sea World. I was 95% sure that she would pick the hair salon, and I hated to ruin the surprise, but I wanted it to be her decision. And I was right, the salon won out.
We arrived at MK at 830 Sunday morning. I was hoping to be there for the Welcome Show and rope drop. And we would have been, except they opened the park 15 minutes early that day! We did manage to catch the last 20 seconds of the Welcome Show at least.
We made a beeline for Anna and Elsa. That was a good call on our part…the wait ended up only being about 45 minutes! And it would’ve been a bit shorter except I got lost trying to find them, hahaha. My sense of direction is non-existant.
She was completely star struck when she met Elsa. And I’m not going to lie, I had tears in my eyes I was so excited and happy for her. She calmed down by the time we saw Anna and asked her if Sven was still trying to steal Olaf’s nose, which I thought was adorable. (He’s behaving, just in case you were wondering.)We had a slight mishap while standing in line. J had developed blisters on both of her feet, even though I picked out a pair of sandals she wears all the time and never gets blisters from. She was so miserable that she said she didn’t want to meet anyone else. We had a bit of a disagreement then, our first one so far on the trip (which is amazing for us), and I told her either she has to suck it up or we’re going back to Auntie Noelle’s house. After meeting the sisters we hiked it down to First Aid and got some bandaids, then over to the stroller rental. I was planning on renting a stroller regardless, I just didn’t want to waste precious time getting it at the beginning as the Anna/Elsa line got longer and longer by the second. Those two things solved the problems and not another word was said about the blisters the rest of the day. Minus me rubbing it in her face later that she would’ve missed all this if we had skipped it like she wanted to. A grown-up face rubbing, of course 😉
Since we were in the vicinity, we swung in to see Tinker Bell next. She loved how sparkly Tinker Bell was! J asked how Wendy was doing. Since Tink spends most of her time in Pixie Hollow and Wendy is usually in Mermaid Lagoon, they don’t see each other very often.We also saw Ariel. For some reason J started asking the princesses to sign the picture she made, the one that was for them to keep, which confused them. Understandably. I had to keep interjecting to confirm that the picture was indeed for them. We also saw Cinderella and Rapunzel. Rapunzel is telling J her favorite part of the story, which I can’t remember what it was for the life of me! And Merida, who is my favorite Disney princess, so I had to jump in this picture. She cracked J up, telling her that she was going to eat 500 cupcakes in celebration of J’s birthday.Tiana and Prince Naveen were together. She adored him. I have no idea what he was saying to her, but she was in stitches the entire time. She couldn’t remember what was so funny, but for the next few days all she could talk about was how silly he was.We did the Enchanted Tales with Belle and loved that too! It’s a shame she doesn’t sign autographs, but luckily I knew that ahead of time. I also knew that the only way J would get to interact with her was if she volunteered to be part of the show (thanks Kenny!). I forced her into it and I’m glad I did! She was at least able to give her the picture she made.We stood in line two times at the same spot, once to see the Fairy Godmother and once for the Tremaine family. The Tremaine family was amazing. They interacted with each guest for about 10 minutes and were hysterical the entire time. Drizella made fun of Anastasia because she didn’t have a picture in the Cinderella story, so Anastasia made sure to add that she’s “so pretty” when she signed her name. J happened to have the Evil Queen from Snow White with her, so she showed her to them. They were thrilled that J likes “mean people”.
We met all of the Princesses who were available for autographs except Jasmine. J opted to go on Big Thunder Mountain instead of standing in Jasmine’s line, which I think was a good idea.
We watched the Fantasy Parade at 3 and the Electrical Parade at 8, both of which were phenomenal. We also watched the fireworks show, which completely blew me out of the water. And to think we would’ve missed both the Electrical Parade and the fireworks if we had done MK on Saturday like I originally planned since there was an event in the park and it closed at 7 that night. See, things happen for a reason! That and waking up Monday morning all I could do was thank my lucky stars we didn’t have anything going on for a few more hours that morning and that it was very low key. How on earth people get up and do that all over again for days in a row is beyond me. And with more children. And when it’s a helluva lot hotter (we really lucked out weather-wise. It rained for about 2 hours, but otherwise stayed cloudy and wasn’t too humid or hot). They’re insane.
All in all I was very impressed with Disney. I’m not a big Disney person…I can take it or leave it. And when I go to an amusement park I want to go on roller coasters, not the spinning tea cups or fantasy rides. But we had a phenomenal day together. J was so well behaved. The park was clean. The cast members were all above and beyond friendly. J had a button on that said it was her birthday and I was blown away by how many people wished her happy birthday! Not just the characters and their “helpers”, but anyone we passed! It was well worth the money we spent on it. And I would do it all over again.