Before JM and I got married, we dreamed about loading our kids up in the car and taking them on a secret, surprise trip to Disney World. Now, 13 years later we get to do just that! I’m so excited that I could explode!
I am writing this before we go on our trip so that we can truly be on vacation. I am not even taking my computer. This will post the Saturday after we have been at Disney World but I wanted to share some of the sweet stories of how this trip is even possible with you. This story is precious and God needs to get glory for it.
My youngest daughter, Landree, just turned 4 years old. She has been asking us to take her to Disney World for two years. Every time she asked us, I told her to ask Jesus. I knew it was going to be ridiculously expensive and I wanted her faith to be built when He made it happen for her. So she prayed her little heart out.
On one of the days she asked me to take her to DW, I was listening to the radio. The host said, “Caller number 9 who can tell us a country without a letter ‘A’ in the name will win a trip to Orlando.” Would you believe I called in, yelled, “MEXICO! IT’S MEXICO!” and won a free hotel stay?! That was last December. So we’ve spent the last nine months hiding this from our girls and, yes, even lying to them sometimes. 😉
I literally have lost count of how many people who found out we were going, and gave us money or gift cards for this trip. We were only going to go for two days and I think we will end up adding another day because so many people have blessed us! A few family members also gave Landree Disney gift cards for her birthday instead of buying her a gift. I’m all about getting experiences instead of getting toys that will only be played with a couple of times, shoved in the closet, and then forgotten about.
We have been to Disney one other time when our oldest, Hadlee, was one. It. Was. Terrible! I’m hoping this trip is a little more enjoyable. I’ll keep you posted. 😉
I strongly believe that God is using this trip to pursue my babies’ hearts. He is using the family of God to bless my girls and show them that they are so loved by Him and that their desires (even frivolous ones) are important to Him.
I’m asking Jesus to do the same for all of you.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him,” (Matthew 7:11 ESV)!
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow,” (James 1:17 NLT).
“He is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all,” (Psalm 84:11b TPT)!
It’s so easy to let our dreams die. Life is just hard sometimes and that affects how we see the goodness of God. Can I just encourage you to hang on? If nothing else, take the example of my little girl and keep asking Jesus. God is a good Father and gives good gifts to His children.
Added After Our Trip: A couple of friends asked for help planning their future trips. We are on our way home so I thought I would add a few Disney tips while they are fresh on my mind.
We wanted the trip to be a surprise. As I was collecting things for Disney, I just hid them in our closet and I worked on things at night after they went to bed. When we talked about the trip in front of the girls, we called it, “Mom’s birthday.” My mom shares a birthday with Landree so the girls assumed we were really talking about their grandma. This is the video of us telling the girls that we were going to Disney World. We had been in the car for 2 days and were about an hour and a half away. It’s a tearjerker!
If you would like to get reservations for Cinderella’s Royal Table or the Bibbity Boppidy Boutique, you need to do that as soon as possible. Both things were so beyond worth the big price tags and made our girls feel incredibly special. We were able to start making reservations 180 days out and they were both booked almost immediately. I couldn’t get us reservations to the Cinderella’s Royal Table, but read about this site that will alert you when the restaurants have a cancellation and there’s an opening. I got an alert that there was a spot open the day before we left, and pulled off of the road to get us in. It was dreamy and amazing. My husband and I cried the whole meal. If you have daughters, don’t miss it! Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, and Ariel come right up to your table, interact with the kids, sign their autograph books, and take pictures. You get to meet Cinderella before you eat. I was bawling walking up to meet her because it was so special!
There are two different locations of the Bibbity Bobbidy Boutique: Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs. We couldn’t get into the Boutique on our Magic Kingdom day, so we went our first night in Disney Springs. It worked out well for us because their hair stayed nice for a couple of days. This was important because our Magic Kingdom day was miserably hot and humid. The poor little girls who had gotten their makeovers at Magic Kingdom looked gorgeous but so hot. Disney Springs is like a downtown mall area. It is free to get in, free to park, and there are lots of cool things to do and see. A lot of people go there on their off day from the parks.
You can buy dresses at the Boutique and many families did, but those packages started at $200 per kid. Yikes! I had my girls wear their Minnie Mouse dresses and then we went over to one of the stores and let them pick out the dresses they wanted. We saved $140 doing it that way. They had a Disney photographer who took professional photos the whole time, but you’re welcome to take your own too. We went ahead and bought the package to have all of the photos for our entire time at Disney World.
Here are a couple of things that we took with us that helped so much (I saw most of these ideas on other blogs):
- We both took backpacks. My hubby got this one and really liked it. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B15LDBM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Non-sweating refillable water bottles. I used a Swell bottle. There are plenty of places to fill them up for free. Water is $3.50-$5.50 per bottle in the parks.
- Extra socks and ponchos. It rains often in FL and no one likes having soggy feet! I got our ponchos for $1 at Walmart. You can buy ponchos at Disney, but they are several times more.
- A cordless phone battery charger. My husband’s backpack has a special pocket that charges your phone. This was very helpful because the My Disney Experience app drains your battery quickly. Not to mention you might use your phone every now and then to snap a photo or video :^) Here’s the link to the charger: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0194WDVHI?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share.
- Download the My Disney Experience app. It has all of your Fast Pass info and also has a map of the park. You can select a ride or attraction and it will tell you the current wait time, as well as give you directions on how to get there. You can also order food from it and pick your order up at most restaurants without standing in line.
- A fan. The heat index on our Magic Kingdom day was 106 degrees. The fan saved us! This one was able to charge with our portable charger. Aluan Handheld Fan Mini Fan… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DDDLSRL?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
- We brought our own ears and Disney shirts because they are so expensive at Disney World. The ears alone are $30 a piece. I was asked everyday where our clothes came from and most of them were from Wal-Mart. I even got one of the girls’ dresses at Aldi! I found my hubby’s and brother’s ears at Party City for $4. Here is a link to our very inexpensive, very cute ears: https://www.ebay.com/itm/3-Minnie-Mouse-Red-Silver-Bow-Mickey-Mouse-Ears-Headband-Disney-adult-kid/122746673670?pageci=218b30c5-d85c-4a7a-af49-4792be119784
- A Sharpie and an autograph book for the characters to sign. I used my Silhouette and made ours from notebooks that I found at Hobby Lobby. It cost me $3 to make both!
- Comfortable tennis shoes are a must.
- Small packages of tissues. My allergies were crazy bad.
- Hairbrush and ponytail holders. The combination of rain, humidity, and fast rides does a number on your hair! I had grand ideas of looking super cute for pictures but my hair didn’t make it very long.
- A small cooler to hold lunches and drinks. We paid $12 per day to get a locker and stuck our cooler in there. We just walked back to get it when we were ready to eat. We planned to eat one meal a day at the parks because the food is expensive. We spent anywhere from $45-$240 per meal. Again, yikes! Note: do NOT bring loose ice in your cooler! We found that out the hard way on day one. They check every bag and when they opened our cooler and saw ice, they were thrown off. No one wanted to have to reach in there to check it. They asked us to put the ice in ziplock bags so that it was contained better.
- Magic Bands. If you stay in a Disney resort, you automatically get a band for each person staying in your room. We did not stay in a Disney resort so we had to buy them. I wasn’t sure that it was worth the extra expense but it really made things easier. They are your ticket into the parks, you can pay for things with the card stored in your account, and (my favorite part) when you ride one of the rides that takes a picture of you, you scan the one that you are in and it goes into your My Disney account. Since we bought the whole picture package, we got all of those pictures. The picture package is called Memory Maker. https://www.shopdisney.com/search?q=magic+bands&lang=default
Things we did not bring:
- A stroller. Landree just turned 4 so I wasn’t sure how she would do. She did amazingly well the first day but we did end up renting one for the second day. To rent a stroller at the parks are $15 per day for a single rider and $31 for a double. We walked over 21 miles during our three park days. A stroller did make it harder to get around, but it was necessary to keep her from completely melting down. They gave us a little sign to put our name on so that we could tell which stroller was ours.
- Schedule of the day’s events. The park map does not tell you what times the shows or parades will be. We learned that the hard way and missed the parade at Magic Kingdom. Bummer! The schedule is separate. I found one at Guest Services, but any Cast Member (Disney employee) can help you find one.
- A camera. We used our phones. Some people did have them but if you want to ride roller coasters, there really isn’t great storage for fragile items. You have to put your bags by your feet on most rides.
A few extra thoughts:
- The Avatar ride in Pandora at Animal Kingdom is a MUST do. I have never seen the movie but literally came off of the ride crying! I really just cried the whole trip!
- We did not go to Epcot during this trip. When we went to DW last time, it was the hardest on us physically. You kind of get stuck walking around the world showcase. It is A LOT of walking. The only place you can meet Anna and Elsa is in Epcot so they did miss that… and the Nemo ride… and Soarin’… all awesome! We just figured our girls would like it the least of the four.
- My brother, sister-in-love, and 8-month old baby nephew came with us. Because Beckham and Landree were too little to ride most of the rollercoasters, we were able to use Rider Swap. Before our trip, we linked our accounts on the My Disney Experience website and planned our Fast Passes. They chose the rides that they wanted and then we filled in the ones that we wanted. Each person gets to choose three Fast Passes and can take two other people with them. The math of that might be confusing! Essentially you get an extra Fast Pass when you go with little kids and two others get to use it too. 6 people ride with the one Fast Pass. When we came to a ride that Beckham or Landree were too little to ride, we would walk up to the Fast Pass area and ask the host for a Rider Swap. Half of us stayed with the kiddos while three of us rode the ride. Then, after the ride was over, we swapped. It worked out really well. The longest we waited for anything was 25 minutes and that was to meet a character. We rode all of the major rides and having the littles with us actually helped made it go faster!
- My girls are 8 and 4. Their ages were perfect! I thought my older daughter was going to be too old for the character magic, but she ate it up. And my younger daughter was just tall enough to ride some of the big kid rides. They loved it!
- The first time we went to DW, JM and I had the biggest fight of our marriage in front of a sign that said, “Happiest Place on Earth!” Ha! It is not a relaxing vacation by any means. It’s hot (really hot), your feet hurt from walking so much, and expectations are high. It’s the perfect combination for arguments and temper tantrums. I recommend taking an off day, especially if you’re going with littles, in-between your park days. On our Animal Kingdom day, we didn’t get to the park until 4 pm and still saw and rode everything that we wanted to. It was much cooler in the afternoon and there were hardly any lines.
- The Cast Members were incredible. Anything that could have been an issue was solved quickly and with amazing attitudes. My daughter dropped an ice cream cone on the ground and someone ran over to my husband, giving him a voucher for TWO free ice creams. Landree got a free birthday pin, so Cast Members noticed and wished her a “Happy Birthday.” She even got a free cupcake at Cinderella’s Royal Table and our waiter sang her the b-day song. They treat you like royalty. I’ve been reading this book about how they train their Cast Members and I highly recommend it. It’s called: Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0385523866/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_LtxHDbG4XTYPK
- We drove our car because we wanted to spend the second half of the week at the beach actually resting. We needed the beach half to recover from the Disney half! I think going to the beach after DW is what made the trip. There’s nothing like the ocean to help you relax.
We have had a terrible track record with trips. Our honeymoon and every family vacation up to this point have been disasters- like epic, hilarious disasters. This is the first trip we’ve taken that has felt successful. It was not perfect by any means (I forgot our entire toiletry bag, whoops!) but we had an amazing time! I don’t know how many times we heard our girls say, “This is the best day of my whole life!” My husband and I cried and cried. We are so thankful that we got to go.
Let me know if you have any other questions! Take your babies (or go without them!) and have so much fun!