Walt Disney World Disney Springs Shopping Dining

Discovering Disney Springs

For our first family trip to Disney, we were lucky to get non-stop flights from Boston to Orlando at pretty reasonable times. That meant we could have breakfast and surprise Miss O with the trip in the morning and be on Disney property by that afternoon. It also meant we could spend most of Saturday doing Disney things before our flight left. It did not mean we would have enough time or energy for a park on either day and didn’t want to waste a park ticket on a partial day. This is where Disney Springs, a big open-air mall area with dining, shopping and entertainment becomes and excellent, ticket-free place to spend time.

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Mickey's Not So Scray Halloween Party Mickey Pumpkin Jack o Lantern

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

When you’re planning a Disney trip, it may get to the point where you simultaneously want to spend money on all the things that will make your family smile regardless of price and feel like you’re suddenly faced with spending money you may never have. Coming from New England, we were definitely in that place by the time we discovered that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party starts in August and had not one, but two dates scheduled for the last week of August when we’d be there for our first trip with our family. I knew Miss O would love every second of it, but would it be worth the extra cost on top of our park hopper tickets?

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Sunrise Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Railroad Main Gate

Finding the Magic in the Magic Kingdom – Day 2

I was worried the fifth day of our trip would be a struggle. After four full days, with one each at Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, I was concerned we’d be too tired for another day at Magic Kingdom, especially since we had tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that night, too. We only visited one half of the Magic Kingdom on our first day, and I couldn’t leave without Miss O experiencing the other half. I knew she was having fun, but our tired was starting to show and I wasn’t sure she’d make it.

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Slinky Dog Dash Toy Story Land Hollywood Studios Disney World Roller Coaster

How long at Hollywood Studios?

I’ll admit when we first decided to include a day at Hollywood Studios in our park plans, I wasn’t convinced we needed an entire day for it. In the past, MGM, as it used to be called, really seemed more like a half-day park. There have been quite a few changes since those days and I wasn’t sure if those changes, and the addition of Toy Story Land, would make that much of a difference.

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Spaceship Earth Epcot Walt Disney World

Exploring Epcot

Rumors are flying lately about all the refurbishments at Epcot. After our recent trip, I’m sort of relieved to hear it. Just like our days at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, I had a solid park plan for our day at Epcot. What I didn’t know was how much Epcot has changed since I was last there and how much that plan would be affected.

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Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle

Finding the Magic in the Magic Kingdom – Day 1

I have been looking forward to Miss O’s first visit to Disney’s Magic Kingdom for ages. It’s my absolute favorite park. I hadn’t been since senior year of college, way before the new Fantasyland expansion (yes, that’s a long time ago, kids) and I could not wait share it with Miss O. I knew our day at Animal Kingdom would be a success because ANIMALS, but I worried Miss O may have grown tired of princesses. I knew Mr. A could care less about them and I worried about his influence on her. There’s a lot more to the Magic Kingdom than princesses, but is there enough? Did we wait too long to share this part of the magic?

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Going Wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

For two kids that love animals, Disney’s Animal Kingdom did not disappoint. I was confident in my choice to start Miss O and Mr. A’s first trip to Disney World here, but I wasn’t fully prepared for how much enthusiasm, energy and stamina these two had! We knew they’d have fun, but watching them discover everything made it extra magical for us and we learned more about these two explorers than I would have thought!

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Walt Disney World Art of Animation Pixar Ariel Little Mermaid Cars Lightning McQueen Finding Nemo Dory

Enjoying Disney’s Art of Animation

For our recent surprise trip to Walt Disney World, we chose our hotel with the kids in mind. Miss O saw some images on the promotional videos we watched at home while testing the idea of Disney, so we knew it was a good option. By the time we got on the Magical Express, she still had no real idea what we’d be doing or anything about where we were staying. At that point she and my nephew, Mr. A, were still absorbing the reality of being in Florida and going to Disney World. Their faces as we arrived on the Art of Animation property were priceless and I knew this trip was going to blow their minds.

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Disney World Magical Express Bus Stop

Disney World’s Magical Express is Truly Magical

At first, I felt a little silly referring to a 76-passenger motor coach as anything remotely “magical.” I knew it eliminated one part of the thing I hate most about travel – waiting at baggage claim. Honestly, there’s nothing worse than standing around for what feels like an eternity, whilst watching every bag that is not yours go by and realizing you still aren’t on vacation. Now imagine you’re standing there with an extremely excited 6-year-old and an already impatient 40ish-year-old.

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Disney World Mickey Mouse Character parade DisneyLand

Surprise! We’re Going to Disney Word!

We just came back from a week of honestly the most MAGICAL time I’ve had in ages. I’ve spent a year planning our daughter’s first trip to Disney World and I can’t articulate how much all that hard work paid off to make one of the best memories I will ever have.

All the time spent researching, waking up early to get dining reservations and agonizing over FastPass+ selections was so worth it when we saw Miss O’s reaction to our surprise trip reveal.

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