Thursday, November 29, 2012

Family Vacation | Walt Disney World

The day after Thanksgiving we left for the "happiest place on earth."
It was our first trip with our children to WDW.  When we visited Disneyland in California
a couple years ago we had the greatest time.  We decided this was the year to visit Disney World.
We purposely waited until we were out of the nap stage, so we could more fully enjoy the parks.
I know looking at family vacation pictures isn't all that exciting for anyone outside of our family,
but this one is for my memory books! Thanks for indulging me!! ;)

My absolute favorite day was when we went to the Very Merry Christmas Party
at the Magic Kingdom.  It was a "magical" afternoon and evening full of spectacular weather, shorter lines, lots of character encounters, Christmas music, parades, and snow!! {of the artificial variety!}
If you are EVER there during the Christmas season,  I highly recommend
buying the special event ticket. We stayed till 11:00 PM, which is late for
both my boys, but it was absolutely worth it!!

The new Fantasyland expansion had just opened a few days before we arrived.
We spent a lot of time there, including a dinner at the Beast's "Be Our Guest" Castle.
Something I didn't realize was the need for reservations at ANY sit down restaurant in the parks and at the resorts.  Book early!  We got this reservation out of sheer luck.

Charlie was absolutely entranced by every character.  He was especially fixated on seeing Mickey, Donald Duck and a Princess.  He got his wish in a big way!!

My favorite moment of the trip was watching the boys in a skit with Belle.
Andrew was Maurice {her father} and Charlie played the part of The Beast.
{Click here to see the full 6 minute video.  It was pretty amazing.}

We were there for 5 days and told the kids they could choose three parks to visit.
Too many large crowds and long lines make for a tired Mama.
I also think it can get to be too much of a good thing for children too. 
 I'm perfectly fine not visiting every park, maximizing every dollar and missing a few rides.  
We really let the children dictate the pace of this trip and we followed their lead. 
If they felt like taking a dip in the pool, or playing in the sand, or lounging around a bit, that
was more than ok with us too.  I think vacations like these come with pressure to do it all, but 
that doesn't suit our family.  We need a little time to be lazy too. 

The pools at our resort were heated and deserted!

We spent a few hours at Disney's Boardwalk Resort.
A favorite spot of mine that my brother introduced me to when I visited him during
his internship days with Disney when we were in college.

The family bike rental is another must!

Oops we fed the sea gulls our pizza crusts BEFORE we saw the sign asking people not to!

Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure was a BIG hit!

It was a superhero paradise!  The Spiderman ride blew us all away!

Andrew and Charlie both got their very own wizard wands.
The wands are sold all over the park, but if you go, you have to visit Ollivander's shop for
the full experience.  Charlie was convinced he was casting spells all over the park afterwards. 
He is waving his wand in the above picture, reciting some magical words.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was so well done, I didn't want to leave.  
It was like walking into the book!

Seussville was transformed into Grinchmas for Christmas. 

We had planned to go to Hollywood Studio's but the boys decided they wanted another day
at the Magic Kingdom instead...

Anyone ever tell you that the week after Thanksgiving at WDW isn't crowded??
They are liars! :) haha!!

We finished our vacation with a trip to Celebration 
{an idyllic little town envisioned and created by Disney}

Trying to out run the fountain..

You can see how that turned out...
Andrew didn't make it either.  Thank goodness for spare clothes in the trunk!

All in all though, it was an amazing trip.
We made wonderful memories, ones I hope they keep forever.
It was more crowded than I was expecting, but the weather was incredible, and
everyone was healthy and happy.   {Charlie came down with a stomach bug a day 
after we returned.  A very narrow escape, I say!!}
We will go back one day, but there is something so special about the first time 
you visit that is never quite recreated.  
When we go again, the boys will be older and it will be all about the thrill rides.
Now it's time to start getting ready for Christmas at home!!
Thanks for looking and letting me share our trip!


  1. looks like y'all had a great time! we've never gone to WDW during christmas, but now that i've seen your pics it is definitely going on my list of places to travel :)

  2. I love the expression on little Charlie's face when he's up on stage with Belle. What an amazing experience for the 2 of them!

    I need to go on vacation with you - you have such a calm about you that I could only hope would be contagious for me. I love your go-with-the-flow attitude!

  3. Disney is such a magical place-glad to hear you had such a great time!!! Oh, and I'm so jealous that you got to visit the Harry Potter world-I can't wait to go!!

  4. Tessa
    Looks like you had a trip of a lifetime , I'm going to take the boys soon so we can experience the joy you guys did . Hope the little one is better soon

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  6. We live literally 10 minutes from Disney! Glad you guys had an awesome time, and were able to visit Celebration! Love that place! Were you guys there for the tree lighting and Santa's arrival? We were there for it, it was crazy busy for the event and there was snow... however you guys would laugh at our snow, it's bubble suds! lol! My husband works at Universal as well, we LOVE the spider man ride!!! Too bad we couldn't have met up! Talk with you later!!


  7. I'm so glad that you posted your photos & experiences. We are going in January (which will be a big surprise for our 7 year old daughter) & I appreciate your insights! I'm especially glad to hear that the pools are heated! Also, anything special that we should do in the Boardwalk area? We are staying at that resort & want to take full advantage of it!

    1. You'll love it! I stayed at the yacht club years ago and loved it. It's right across from the Boardwalk. Definetly rent the family bike! There are lots of places to eat and it's especially pretty at night. We did not stay on Disney property this time but there are all sorts of perks and activities they can tell you about. I bet January will be less crowded!!

  8. What a lovely time with your family! That video was precious, and the part where Charlie danced with Belle made me cry! Plus at the end when Andrew doesn't know what to do with his hands... Too funny!

  9. I love that you posted this! We have not yet taken our 2 boys and are planning to try and do it a year from now... they will be 8 and 5. I've worried that they'll miss some of the magic by going when they are older and I want them to get there before all they want to do are the thrill rides. I love that you let your family dictate the pace and didn't try to hit everything. That's the way I want to do it but NOT the way so many of my friends have done it.

  10. wonderful post Tessa! loved the expressions your cute little boys faces! such a special trip! ~Leslie

  11. I loved our trips there with our daughters. I didn't realize how much they loved it until my college junior announced that WDW is "my best vacation memories ever". We always tried to keep an appropriate pace with pool time, etc each day.

  12. It is magical to watch your children there, isn't it?! But yes, that's a prime time for us Southerners to go to Disney! We stay away from the summer crowds of Northerners :-)

  13. oops! Didn't mean to delete my comment! My kids were obsessed with waiting in line to get character signatures! Still have our signature books!

  14. I cannot believe you got to eat (especially at Be Our Guest!) without a reservation! I always make all mine 180 days ahead of time (nerd alert). I was just there in October but you are making me miss it!

  15. Tessa, i would like to be your friends

  16. I loved these pics and tips from your trip. Stella has been begging to go and I wanted to wait until she could really appreciate it, remember it, and not be a crankster w/o a nap. I like the idea of going with all the Christmas decor up. Makes an already magical place even more so! Looks like ya'll had a really amazing time!

  17. Nice pictures...hope you had a great fun!

  18. Beautiful location and awesome photography. There is no doubt that walt disney world is one of the best family Vacation destination and this pics are supporting this.

  19. Tessa,
    Would you mind giving me some insight on where you guys decided to stay? We are going in a few weeks and I can't pull the trigger on where we should stay. Thanks!

    1. We stayed at a Mariott Vacation Club property about 5 minutes away from Magic Kingdom.

  20. Thanks for the reply, much appreciated!!!!