Dreaming of Disney - Fun Experiences!

I think that Disney World is a wonderful vacation destination for couples - even after they have children! I know, it's really hard to picture going to Disney World and leaving the kids at home, but I'll be honest - I would love it!

Kurt and I have taken two trips alone to Disney World together, once while I was pregnant with Evy, and then again once she was almost two. She stayed with grandparents and we had a wonderful time together! I mentioned in my previous post that we have a family trip planned for next January (I CAN'T WAIT!!), and I'm always thinking up new plans in my head. Kurt and I talked about how we'd like to return by ourselves to WDW, and that got me planning. We don't have it on the calendar, but I'm determined it will happen! Maybe for our anniversary one year?

There are many things that I'd love to do that are a little easier without kids in tow! Here's what I would love to do for a couples trip:

The Backstage Magic Tour is a 7-8 hour experience that shows you behind-the-scenes views of many areas of the Walt Disney World complex. You get to see the "utilidors" underneath Main Street U.S.A., the secrets of the American Adventure at Epcot, the WDW Nursery and Tree Farm, and several elements in Disney Hollywood Studios. The experience includes lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe. The cost is $229 per person, for ages 16 and up. Theme park admission isn't required or included. Kurt and I love learning about "behind the scenes" magic, so I think we would really enjoy this!

The Richard Petty Driving Experience would be Kurt's dream come true! He loves cars and driving fast (ha!), so I know this would be awesome for him. The Walt Disney World Speedway is the home of the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and there are many packages to choose from. The cost ranges from the $99 Ride-Along, where you accompany a driver and ride the track, to the popular $449 Rookie experience, which lets you drive a NASCAR racecar for 8 laps, to the ultimate splurge, the $2,099 Speedway Challenge (50 laps!). This would be a great way to convince the guy in your life to come to Disney World with you (if he's reluctant!)!

Victoria and Albert's is the ultimate dining experience at Walt Disney World. Located in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the restaurant "offers a unique dinner menu each night of exceptional, contemporary American cuisine served with unparalleled charm and elegance." I would love to have a 2-2.5 hour dining experience and taste the wonderful creations of Chef Hunnel! There are three experiences to choose from: Victoria and Albert's Dining Room, Queen Victoria's Room, and the famous Chef's Table. This is definitely an adults-only restaurant, perfect for when the kids are at home.

I would love a trip that combined any of these fun experiences, and it proves that Walt Disney World isn't just for kids!


Is It Too Early?

We are planning our next Disney trip! Well. . .I'm planning it in my head. :) We're going to take a family trip with my family to Disney World in January or February of 2013. So we have about a year to go, but the way I look at it - I can start making our reservations this summer, so that makes me happy!

There's going to be the four of us (it will be Liam's first trip!), my parents, and three siblings. It might get a little tricky with my siblings' schedules, but I refuse to go during busy/peak season, and we had a fabulous experience when we went last January (with Kurt's side of the family). I know the weather can be a gamble, but I think it's worth the risk!

I've been thinking through what we want to do the same and what new things we'd like to try:

Keeping the Same:

-We will be flying again. It was awesome to have such a quick trip and the Magical Express shuttle at the airport was indeed magical!

-We will be taking our own stroller. I really enjoyed being comfortable with our stroller and being able to have ease of transportation while on the monorail, ferry, etc. Plus, with two kids, I want to keep them in the double stroller they're used to.

-We will be staying in the Grand Floridian again. We have been saving with this in mind, because to us, it's worth it to work hard and save the extra money for the WONDERFUL convenience of the monorail. It really makes a huge difference, and we're willing to pay a little extra. Thankfully, during value season it's not AS atrociously priced.

-We will be returning to eat at San Angel Inn in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. This is my dad's favorite Mexican food (and he's an expert with Mexican food!), so it will be fun to eat there again as a family.

-We will, without question, go immediately into Fantasyland upon the Magic Kingdom opening for the day. We had such a wonderful experience getting to ride all of the Fantasyland rides all in a row several times before people even figured out where Fantasyland was - ha! Definitely a good plan that we're sticking with.

-We will DEFINITELY be repeating a Princess character meal! Evy was just beside herself with joy when we went last January, and her Princess obsession has only grown since then. I'm not sure if we'll do Akershus or the Castle. Still trying to compare food choices, etc. Since I've eaten at both, and enjoyed both, I'm going to sit down and compare the menus and options in detail.

-We will be taking advantage of the Extra Magic Hours again!! This is when we had the most fun and enjoyed the most rides and attractions. We felt like the parks were empty and it was a blast. Again, it's a great bonus of staying at a Disney resort!

-I will definitely be packing Evy and Liam super cute outfits like I did for Evy last time! Most of them will be compliments of Kurt's mom, who can sew like nothing I've ever seen!

Doing Differently/New Experiences:

-We will avoid Martin Luther King Weekend! We had to go during this time last January because of some work schedules, but we noticed a definite increase in the crowds. We chose to leave Magic Kingdom on that Monday because it was just so crowded. Now, everything is relative. Compared to July, it was a breeze, but we just didn't want to fight lots of people, so we went to Downtown Disney for awhile. I really want our whole trip to be low-crowds on this next trip, so we'll avoid the MLK holiday.

-We won't repeat Crystal Palace. Even though Liam (and Evy) really enjoy Winnie the Pooh, it was really crazy crowded and kind of hard to maneuver.

-I want to try Chef Mickey's! We taped a show on TV called "The Best Places I've Ever Been," and several celebrities talked about their favorite Disney moments. One chef took his wife and daughters to Chef Mickey's. Evy LOVES to watch this show, and comments about Chef Mickey's all the time. Plus, I can't lie, the food looks reallllllyyyy good. I love good breakfast food, and Disney also really does buffets well.

-I think this will be the trip for Evy to do the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique for the first time! She will be at the perfect age (almost 4) and I think she will just be in heaven. Plus, we'll have numerous helpful hands from family members to help juggle the video cameras, Liam, etc. This is another thing Evy has seen on TV, and she just talks about it all the time.

-I think Evy will be more excited to see the fireworks this time - they scared her on the last trip!

-The most exciting thing is that this will be my family's first trip together since 2005, and hopefully a good portion of the Fantasyland expansion will be open! HOW FUN!

I'm sure I'll add to this list, but I love talking about the planning stage of a trip. It's one of my favorite things to do!


Magical Blogorail - Disneyland Paris Love!

First of all, I completely realize that this blog has been sorely neglected! I really hate that, because I love Disney so, so much. My blog isn't going to be the most popular or the most read Disney blog, but that's not why I have it. It's to keep everything Disney in one place, because I love it so much! And I think that the best blogs are sometimes the ones where posts are only written when inspiration strikes. :) And if you don't follow my main blog, you might be out of the loop that we just adopted our son! We went to Korea two weeks ago and got him, and he's doing great. However, that has definitely affected my blogging across the board! Just wanted to share what has kept me from writing, and I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things!

Welcome to those of you joining me from Manda's Disney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail. Today we're talking about Disneyland Paris! I actually have had the privilege to visit DP, and it was such an interesting experience! I visited while I was studying for a semester in London. My friend Brooke and I hopped on the Chunnel and took the express train right to Disneyland Paris. It was so neat to pull right up to the Park!

We noticed that overall, it was very user-friendly for English-speaking guests. I would say almost all of the Cast Members, rides, and maps were very easy to navigate. Some highlights of the day were seeing the Lion King stage show (they had shows in English and shows in French), and eating at the restaurant that overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (a very cool feature that I wish the other Disney Parks would take note of!). It was such a fun day, and I love that I'm able to say I've visited Disneyland Paris. What a treat! Here are some pictures of our wonderful day.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Delightfully Disney!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
2nd Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer
3rd Stop ~ Delightfully Disney
4th Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
Final Stop ~ The Disney Chick