Friday, December 17, 2021

Disney Trip 2021: Part 1

 Hello friends! I am back today to share a little bit of our trip to Disney. We had SO much fun on this trip and I think the kids were at such great ages for it. LG is 4 and everything was still so magical and real to her. Liam was 2, and while technically this was his second trip, this is the first time he really knew what was going on. πŸ˜† He was only 3 months old the last time we took him! It's funny to remember a time he was that little.  

Orlando is only an 8 hour drive from Charlotte, which we felt was reasonable for our family. We thought about flying, but honestly with the amount of stuff we wanted to bring it was just easier to drive (not to mention cheaper). We left Friday afternoon and began our drive to Jacksonville, FL (roughly 6 hours). 

Saturday morning in Jacksonville, the kids woke up and were ready to go!! Disney here we come!

We were staying in the Dolphin Hotel on Disney property because we are able to use our Marriott points when booking, making our trip significantly cheaper. Not having to pay for flights or hotels was great! We got checked in on Saturday and let the kids explore the grounds and swim in the pool. Then Sunday morning we were up and ready for Magic Kingdom!

Since we were staying on property we were able to have earlier access to the park. We were at the park by 8:00, and we were allowed to go ride rides at 8:30. We headed straight to Peter Pan's Flight and only had about a 15 minute wait. This ride was a huge hit! Both kids loved it and it was a great way to kick off our Disney trip. 

We rode 6-7 rides in the morning before the park started to get a little more crowded (one of my favorite things about going in December, it's usually less crowded!). We had initially discussed buying the extra Lightning Lane passes, but then decided we would see how bad the crowds actually were. No need to spend the extra $15 per person if the lines weren't too crazy. We decided that by getting into the parks early, we didn't need the Lightning Lane pass. We were able to get to the "big" rides before the rest of the crowds. 

Liam was starting to get tired, so Lily Grace and I went to meet Cinderella while Liam napped in the stroller. 

She loved seeing Cinderella's glass slipper in it's special case.

And LOVED meeting Cinderella. This age is so sweet because she honestly thought all the princesses were real and had thought of questions for them. LG said to Cinderella "Look, I'm wearing the same dress as you!" Cinderella told her "Yes you are! That shade of blue looks lovely on you" LG also asked her "Do you enjoy dancing with the prince at the ball?" Cinderella answered "Oh yes! We dance every night until midnight" 😊. Then she had to pose just like Cinderella did when they took their picture. 

After meeting Cinderella she joined Liam in the stroller and took a nap too. Devin and I talked about staying longer but then realized we were here for a whole week and didn't want to wear the kids out too much too soon. We headed back to the hotel, played at the playground on the hotel property and got a good night's sleep. Then we were ready for day 2 at Animal Kingdom!

Now according to Lily Grace Animal Kingdom was "not the best one", but Liam loved it! Lily Grace said it wasn't her favorite because "there aren't enough princesses here." Fair point, because Pocahontas was the only one (although she did love seeing Pocahontas!).

We rode the Na'avi River Ride and Kilimanjaro Safaris, but mostly we just walked around looking at the animals and taking everything in. We had park hopper passes each day so after lunch we headed back to the hotel to nap/recharge for about an hour and then finished the day in Epcot.

The kids napped almost every single day and I have to say-- it was SUPER helpful. On the days they napped we were able to head back to the parks and stay much longer.

Here was LG "calling her friends from school to tell them about Disney" in the English phone booth, while Liam "called Daddy" even though he was standing right there with us πŸ˜‚

Both of our kids were transfixed by the trains in Germany. They truly sat there and watched the trains for a solid hour, no exaggeration! Devin and I just sat back and had a few German beers and ate some delicious German food. The best thing about staying at the Dolphin hotel is being able to walk back from Epcot at the end of the night. We were able to be back to the hotel and in bed within 15-20 minutes of deciding to leave.

Day 3 was Hollywood Studios.

For some reason the park was crazy crowded this day. I imagine this is probably what it's like in the summertime. Luckily, because we were staying in a property hotel, we were able to get into the park early and only had to wait 15 minutes for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. Then, we headed straight to Slinky Dog but the line was already crazy long. We went to Toy Story Mania instead and only had to wait about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, those were the only two rides we were able to get on in a timely manner. 

We went to the Frozen sing along, then to Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy, both of which were adorable. 

As for most other rides, lines were over an hour and since we decided against Lightning Lane or Genie+, we were stuck with long lines. Not only was it crowded, but it was super hot. So after lunch we decided it was a great day to go back to the hotel, swim for a few hours, take a nap, and then head back to the parks once the day had cooled off a bit. This worked like a charm!! The kids were recharged and ready so we headed to Magic Kingdom... which was surprisingly EMPTY! 

We rode Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain,  Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain again, Thunder Mountain again, It's a Small World, and the Little Mermaid all within a few hours! Liam also got to see "a real pirate!" and was very excited. 😊

We thought surely this was a fluke.. Magic Kingdom can't always be empty at night, right? They do fireworks, surely everyone stays for the fireworks? We actually ended up going back to Magic Kingdom almost every night after this because we found that the crowds were significantly lower in the late afternoon/evening and it was much more enjoyable. So make a note of that if you're planning on heading there anytime soon-- Magic Kingdom at night for smaller crowds!

That's all I have for today, but come back Monday to read about the rest of our Disney trip! 

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites, have a great weekend!


  1. Loved seeing this recap! Brings back all the memories from our summer trip :)

  2. It sounds like such a fabulous trip!

  3. sounds like you guys had a relaxing fun time. We are always running around getting everything done