“A dream is a wish your heart makes” -Cinderella
It’s been a week since our family returned from a magical trip to Disney World, and we’re still covered in pixie dust. With only a few weeks left before baby sister arrives, it was the perfect time to make some memories as a family of three.
Disney can be overwhelming, so we decided to focus on the activities and attractions geared for our three year old princess in training and planned park days in Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The Disney app is very helpful for mapping out an itinerary, but we also enlisted the help of local Disney planner, Lisa Hockenberry with Jolly Holiday Vacations.
We drove to Orlando from Columbia, which is about six hours, providing plenty of time to get excited for the happiest place on Earth watching Disney classics and singing along to the Mary Poppins soundtrack.
We checked in to the Grand Floridian Resort located very close to Magic Kingdom and on the monorail line making it an easy commute to parks and nearby hotels. We were impressed with the resort’s restaurants, pools and amenities like movies on the lawn and spectacular viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. I had pre-ordered groceries from Garden Grocer to stock our mini fridge with drinks and snacks to take into the park, and they were promptly delivered to our room upon arrival. We also picked up our rental stroller at the front desk that was delivered from Orlando Stroller.
To make the first night special, we headed to the Polynesian Resort for the Spirit of Aloha Luau. The live show and authentic cuisine put us all in a festive mood from the start.
An early bedtime prepared us for an early morning at Hollywood Studios where we were first in line to meet Minnie and Mickey!
Next stop was Toy Story Land, and the attention to detail was fantastic complete with marching army men and of course familiar characters like Buzz and Woody.
There is a lot for toddlers to do at Hollywood Studios, including live Little Mermaid and Frozen stage shows as well as Muppets in 3-D and Disney Jr. dance party and character meetings. We took a break for lunch at the Sci Fi Diner, and Eloise had her first milkshake.
Since it was Valentine’s Day, we had reservations for a “fancy dinner” at Narcoose’s overlooking the Grand Floridian lagoon and then took in the Happily Ever After fireworks display from the marina.
Day two was Magic Kingdom, and we set out early again to have breakfast at Beast’s Castle in the park. Little Lovely had to wear her Anna costume for the full princess experience. The advantage of a breakfast reservation in the park meant that we were there early to take photos and get in line for rides and characters before the masses arrived. A tip that we learned is that many of the rides for little ones typically have short wait times anyway, so it makes sense to use fast passes on high profile character meetings.
Eloise was determined to meet every princess and patiently waited with autograph book and pen in hand. Watching her interact with her idols was fun for mom and dad too!
Lunch at the Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends provided a welcomed break and a good chance to meet many characters at once.
Next up was an appointment for the royal treatment at the Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique located in Cinderella’s Castle. Hair, makeup and some fairy dust transformed Eloise into a true princess- tiara and all!
A few more rides, and then we headed back to change for an early dinner at the California Grill located in the Contemporary Hotel. This was by far our best meal- excellent menu, service and and view of the castle. Our table was also a wonderful spot to take in the Magic Kingdom fireworks as the restaurant pipes in music from the park so you feel like you’re part of the action.
Day three began with breakfast at 1900 Park Fare which was Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious since Mary Poppins and friends visited our table.
Energized, we set off to Epcot to explore Future World and the World Showcase (my favorite). Eloise enjoyed meeting princesses in each country like Aurora in France, Snow White in Germany, and of course Anna and Elsa in Norway. The new Frozen ride did not disappoint, and we capped off the day with dinner in Italy before hopping back on the monorail.
There wasn’t much downtime on the trip, but some of my favorite moments were just being together in our hotel room away from the regular routine and distractions. I’ll always remember this special time before our family expands – it was truly a dream come true.