4.30.2010

Q & A

We are going two weeks from now after we get off of a cruise. Have you ever been to coral reef? Is it good?

I personally have not been to the Coral Reef Restaurant in Epcot, but I've heard it's a good choice. The atmosphere is great--beautiful aquariums surround the dining area! It has been my experience at Epcot that the food is terrific. Coral Reef is one of the pricier options, but I think it's a great choice, especially for seafood and atmosphere.

We're taking our toddler who will be 21 months at the time. I hope he has some fun. We have not been to Animal Kingdom yet. What restaurants do you suggest for there...that will accommodate a toddler (I figure Jiko, which I have heard a lot about, is out).

When I mentioned that we aren't taking our daughter to Disney (who will be 21 months at the time we visit), that in no way means that a toddler can't have fun! My friend Sarah has a Disney blog and wrote about their experience with a 16 month old. She is great for first-hand experience!

Also, there are ways to make it easier with a baby. I wrote about it here. Baby stations, taking breaks during the day, allowing for "running" time in a less crowded area, bringing your own snacks, etc. We're not taking Evy simply because we had planned for this to be an adult trip, regardless of where we traveled to. Also, Evy is personally afraid of crowds, dark spaces, and characters at this point. Once we're over some of those fears, we will take her on a grand trip! :)

As far as Animal Kingdom, I have only been once. This is mainly because I know we will go with our kids, and I just prefer the other parks for right now. But Animal Kingdom is GREAT for kids! Here are some good options for kids while eating at Animal Kingdom:

  • Donald's Safari Breakfast is the classic Disney character dining experience, which is a wonderful way to get easy pictures with no waits in line. Also, eating a big breakfast allows you to maybe only do one other meal, like an early dinner = saving money!
  • The Rainforest Cafe is a chain restaurant and not exclusive to Disney, but it's a sure-bet that your toddler will be entertained! The atmosphere is enticing and exciting. The food is average in terms of variety and unique dishes, but again, for a toddler, I think the environment is perfect.
  • A great resource is the Disney Food Blog. While not official, it's a great source for reviews, menus, and write-ups about all things Disney dining. Check it out!
I will say this about Disney Dining: unless it's an extremely pricey restaurant or there are age requirements, all Disney restaurants are child-friendly. This is Disney World; they understand that children will be there! Along those same lines, almost all establishments are stroller friendly and the dress code is theme-park casual. The two above restaurants that I listed will be the most exciting and engaging for a toddler, though!

Please email me with any other questions!


Questions?

Hi everyone!

If you have a specific question for me, leave a comment in this post and I'll do my best to do a Q & A post soon!

Thanks a million!

4.29.2010

Guess What?

Remember how I've talked about Kurt and I going to New York City this fall?

Well, something has happened.

You see, I have a long-standing love affair with a certain place.

My earliest memories are there:


And my family has created memories there for years.


Kurt and I took a Babymoon there that was one of the most incredible, happy trips we've ever experienced.

We even introduced Evy to this special place, well, very early.


And we have decided that we must go back. That's right; this fall, we're going to

DISNEY WORLD!!!!!



We spent a lot of time talking through everything and making lists of pros and cons. We have decided that we are going to go to Disney in October (like we did in 2008 when I was pregnant), and Evy will stay with my parents. She's still too young to enjoy the attractions and characters (she would be terrified, actually). Some people would think that Kurt and I are crazy for using our adult vacation time for Disney World. However, I know how to do Disney, and it's stress-free and nothing but pure happiness. It's our idea of a perfect vacation. So, we're going! We will take Evy as soon as she's old enough to appreciate it and have FUN.

We are aiming to go to New York City in the spring of 2011. We have already budgeted to save for these trips. I don't feel the need to justify the trips we take, but I can imagine some people might think, "Wow, tough life with all of this traveling." The thing is, we live very modestly day to day. I don't buy designer brands, we rarely eat out at restaurants, and I don't ever go shopping just to shop. This way of life won't change much, even after we're living in Missouri and Kurt is working as a physician full time. We would rather spend our money on giving to others, paying off debt, and traveling with the "extra" money we save. Also, I will have a set amount of money per month that's "mine," and I'm setting aside half of it to save for the trip. So we plan accordingly for these trips and work for them! That's the honest truth!

Planning a Disney trip just feels right. Since we're exactly at the 6 month mark until our trip, I have started making dining reservations (as anyone who reads this blog knows, I plan meals before I do anything else!). Having just gotten back from Boston, I needed a breather from planning an urban trip. They are a BLAST, but more work (at least with the way we like to travel--maxing out our time and seeing/eating a LOT!). Disney is so easy for me. I feel so blessed that we will have this opportunity. We don't take it for granted! This trip will celebrate the end of Kurt's residency--I can't believe I'm even typing that!

I was so excited to make the announcement of our change in plans. Going to Disney is like going home. :)

4.08.2010

Touring the Parks with a Plan!

The one area where most families are not prepared when it comes to their vacation is park-touring. Most newcomers (and even people who make return trips) really do think that they can wing it and be just fine. And honestly, if you choose this approach, you WILL ride a few rides. However, most of your time will be spent 1) Wandering and 2) Waiting. You didn't pay big bucks to wander and wait! Make a plan!

Sit down at your computer and go to Disney's website. Click on "Parks." For another option, WDW Info has a great listing as well.

Go through each Theme Park and make a list of the attractions and rides that sound enjoyable to your family. List any that sound remotely interesting. Now, go through and highlight or circle ones that you think are absolute must-sees. These will be your priority rides, and you'll do these first in your day. The rest of the rides/attractions you listed will be after you've completed your priorities.

Now CLICK HERE to view detailed park maps (thanks to the Orlando Welcome Center's website), and zoom in to where you can see exactly what the layout of each park is. Your best best is to get to the parks before they open, and when the rope drops, make a beeline for your #1 Priority Ride. If a line has already formed, someone from your party can go to another priority ride (close by) and get Fastpasses. [Sidenote: Always make sure you have some sort of Fastpass in your hand that is ready to be used. It's a great system, and it's a shame to not utilize it!]

Looking at your map, plan out your priority rides in the order in which you plan to go. Trust me on this. It's so nice to get off of a ride and immediately know where you're headed next. It takes a load off your shoulders and everyone is on the same page.

Of course, I always recommend using The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Their whole book is divine, but the touring plans alone make it worth the purchase. I use a blend of their plan and my priority list.

After you've mapped everything out, I recommend typing out your (flexible) schedule, and include your Advanced Dining Reservations (which I highly recommend having for sit-down meals). That way, your entire day is on paper, and you're not searching for miscellaneous papers and notes. Doing your homework ahead of time will save you so much stress during your time in the parks!

Here are my Priority Rides and Attractions for each park. Keep in mind that these are with MY specific tastes in mind. Your list could be completely different!

Magic Kingdom
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • It's a Small World
  • Mickey's Philarmagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Space Mountain

Epcot
  • SOARIN'
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Hollywood Studios
  • Beauty and the Beast Stage Show
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo : The Musical
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
Break down your planning into small steps, and it won't seem as overwhelming. This is an overview of plan-making, so if you have any questions, please let me know!