If there’s one thing that you should know about me, it’s that I love Disney. Like, to the point where I still enjoy singing along to the Frozen soundtrack. So it always blew my mind that people would go to Disney World for a single day. A single day! Like you can soak in all the magic that is Disney in a single day? Yes, it’s expensive, but honestly if you do it right it costs about the same amount as an all inclusive resort. And this is where parents stop me and say free booze and a beach is worth ten Disneys and I say you are wrong! That is how much I love Disney. And yet, we were recently visiting family in Florida and only had time for a single day. Never say never, right? It turns out one day in Disney is better than none.
Obviously, we did Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is Disney. I was so nervous because it was the day of the Disney marathon, and I was afraid that a) we would get lost among the road closures and b) it would be packed. While we did get a bit turned around in the road closures (pro tip: get street names when you get directions. I know this now.) the traffic was flowing and we got to the park before rope drop. Rope drop you ask? Rope drop is the official opening of Disney World and FYI, if you get there at the posted opening times you are already too late.
I feel like I should mention it was freezing. And we’re Canadian. We had winter jackets in the car, but we were dead set against wearing our coats. We wanted to buy sweaters. We didn’t want to carry jackets midday. We didn’t want the added bulk. If I did it again, I would still leave my coat in the car. I don’t care. Worth it for the cute photos. And for anyone who thinks I’m a bad mum for not making my kid wear a coat, he’s taken his coat off in much, much colder weather and he’s still alive. And… my search for a sweater for myself resulted in me buying him two, so by evening he may or may not have been wearing three sweatshirts…
Anyhoo. The park was dead. And I say this as someone who has enjoyed the knowledge and joy of crowd calendars on my past Disney trips. The only times we waited in line were if the ride was currently in motion and that lasted until close to lunch. Our longest wait was over 2 hours for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and that was because it had been closed for the morning due to technical difficulties and I was afraid the marathon crowds would take over the park. But other than a normal afternoon swell and really fit people waking around with adorable Mickey medals, I didn’t even notice. Plus, as a child who visited Disney many times in the summer, 2 hours is a perfectly reasonable Disney wait to me. AND the last time I was at Disney the wait for Mine Train was 280 minutes. That’s over 4 hours! It was still a new ride then, but still, I wasn’t risking the wait climbing up there. When I checked just before fireworks however, the wait was only 30 minutes, so honestly, this wait was probably completely unnecessary. Still, we made the best of it and by the end of the wait my kid’s smile looked like this:
It’s good for kids to learn patience, okay? He got a true Disney experience.
Anyway, this trip was a huge milestone for us because Kaleb was finally tall enough for Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. It sucked that my husband was at work, because I know that it kills him that he wasn’t there for this, but there was no way Kaleb was missing those rides. He knew he was tall enough, and he could barely wait for our Fastpass times to come up. Little did we know it was so cold we didn’t even need a Fastpass for Splash Mountain. They did have the splash lowered (the magic of Disney) but it’s a water ride, you get wet. And it was cold.
(Sorry to the dude behind me that got a face full of water when I ducked. It will happen again. The only thing I hate more than water is water in my face.)
My sister hadn’t been to Disney since the New Fantasyland expansion, and I think it’s safe to say she thoroughly enjoyed it. We were in love with the princesses as kids, and New Fantasyland completely immerses you in the whole Disney princess experience. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid is everything we dreamt of as kids. And the fact that Ariel is right next store, waiting for you to drop in and say hi? OMG. And then there’s Story Time with Belle where you just get to hang out with Belle, no big.
Story Time with Belle was actually a point of contention with my son. Last year, he was not such a fan of volunteering, and hadn’t quite figured out the whole Disney thing. I think it really bothers him because he knows everything is make believe, yet everyone is acting as though it’s real, and the lines between fantasy and reality are just too blurred for him to be able to relax. He insisted on wearing his Mickey ears backwards for much of the day, with his name in front, just in case anyone thought he was actually Mickey. It would honestly probably help if I would just say “Hey kid it’s all pretend! All of it! But it’s fun!” but at the same time I don’t want to destroy my kid’s imagination! I love the magic of Disney and if there is any chance that I can help him enjoy it and feel the magic then I’d like to travel down that road first. I mean, he’s 4 and he’s so beyond his years in everything else, I want him to have a childhood! But he was so upset about doing this attraction that we had to leave and come back once he was a bit more warmed up. This paid off! If I had forced him through first thing in the morning, I don’t think he would have enjoyed it nearly as much only because he needs that time to get acclimated.
When you enter Maurice’s cottage, they call the kiddos up to the magic mirror. Kaleb is totally all for hanging out with kids. Any kids, all the kids, all the time. If the kids jump off the golden gate bridge he’s going with them. Okay, he actually wouldn’t as he’s very stubborn and plays it safe; but safe, harmless fun – he’s with the kids.
At this point, I knew he was going to go full force. Not only that, I can’t help but feel he planned who he wanted to be because he did not participate until they asked for a Chip. This is one of my favourite attractions at Disney because Disney isn’t about cheap thrills, it’s about the experience. And this is as close as you get to living in a Disney movie.
If he looks completely disinterested, that’s just his excited face. The more quizzical he looks, the more he loves something. He’s got to analyze and categorize it for later.
We honestly did the majority of the park in a single day. The only major attractions we missed were the Jungle Cruise and heading over to Tom Sawyer’s Island if only due to the fact that it was so cold! We did catch a few shows, but didn’t stay to watch them in their entirety. I love the shows and parades, but Kaleb enjoys the rides and attractions more, so with only one day we focused on the rides. I think you need 2 days to do Magic Kingdom properly, but that’s just my opinion. There are so many secrets tucked away that you just don’t have time to discover if you’re rushing from ride to ride.
Choosing rides over shows did have one major advantage however. We wanted to get one last ride on Thunder Mountain before the day ended, and headed over at about 7:20, just before the show in front of the castle before Wishes began. The wait was 5 minutes, and honestly, that’s the amount of time it takes for you to walk through the queue. And we are fast walkers. We considered hopping over to another attraction, but multiple rides on Thunder Mountain with no wait was just too tempting. It was so dead that we actually got to stay on the ride. This has never happened to me at Disney before! We rode it 6 times! And possibly the most magical thing, was the fireworks going off during our last ride. Riding Thunder Mountain during Wishes is like a Disney urban legend, and guys, it was amazing.
My husband and I said that we would be waiting to go back to Disney until Kaleb was 6 or 7. Oops. That did not happen. And I would be lying if I said we weren’t planning on doing a day at Disneyland Paris when we go visit my sister in Europe in the spring. It is just so freaking magical. And this wasn’t even our most magical trip. I tear up thinking about the week we spent at Disney for Kaleb’s 3rd birthday. I would live at Disney and I’m completely certain it wouldn’t spoil the magic one bit, no matter what lies I tell my kid in order to get him to leave tear-free.