Hey friends! Did you miss me? I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging. I didn’t intend to take a break, but between the travel, the conference sessions, and time in the parks and on the cruise, I would fall into bed every night totally exhausted. This was one of the most tiring trips I’ve ever been on. It was, of course, totally worth it, because the kids had a trip they’ll never forget.

We woke up bright and early on the 19th. My kids have NEVER been so easy to wake up! They were bright-eyed and ready to gooooo.

ready to go!

Mike and James sat together, while Annabel and I sat in front of them.

on the plane

on the plane

Annabel’s smile didn’t last long, though, because we used our time on the plane to do school work. Ahhh, the price you pay to miss a week of school to do something fun. Such a hardship.

We didn’t hit up the parks until the next day, much to the disappointment of the kids. They didn’t seem convinced when I said the airplane was their first thrill ride! We spent the first day at the Magic Kingdom. As we traveled from our hotel to the park by bus, all Mike could talk about was how spread out Walt Disney World is. “You can’t even walk from park to park! This is nuts!” For those of you who haven’t been there, Disneyland has two parks — Disneyland and California Adventure — and they are literally across a promenade from each other, while the three Disney hotels are directly next to the parks. Very, very different from Disney World, which takes up approximately a bajillion square miles.

Magic Kingdom feels a lot like Disneyland, and the layout is somewhat similar, although muuuuuch larger. The entrances to both parks feel almost identical.

magic kingdom

We also picked up first visit pins, which was really fun. Lots of cast members would comment that they couldn’t believe it was our first time visiting, and we’d tell them, “oh well, we live right by Disneyland.” And then they’d ask us questions about our experiences there.

first visit!

On the tram to the park, the four of us decided that our priority would be the rides that aren’t at Disneyland, with a couple of exceptions for Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. We really liked seeing the differences there, since those are two of our favorites.

The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom.

We also took some time to check out the gigantic castle at the end of Main Street. Like everything else at WDW, it is MUCH bigger than the one in California.

Walt Disney World

The kids were disappointed that we couldn’t walk through it like you can in California, but it was still very impressive.

Before going to Disney World, I always thought it sounded very overwhelming. I’d heard about people waking up at 6 am 90 days before their trips to book fastpasses and dining reservations, and that sounded stressful to me. Disneyland is so casual, there’s no pre-booking fastpasses or character meetings or anything like that. I decided to approach this trip just like it was a trip to Disneyland. Now, I admit I had two BIG advantages with this. The first is that, because we go to Disneyland a lot, the kids have met all the characters so it isn’t a priority for them. And second, because this trip was attached to a conference, we were given some fastpasses that didn’t have to be booked in advance. That’s a seriously incredible perk, and we definitely took advantage of it.

Despite not pre-booking anything, we still had a great time. We ate when we wanted to, where we wanted to, and didn’t feel like we missed out on anything. I know there are some spectacular restaurants that require reservations, but I also knew there was no way we were going to squeeze in everything with only three days at the park. I’m glad I didn’t stress about it!

Our day at the Magic Kingdom was, if you can believe it, the most mellow of all our days — we squeezed in visits to five parks over the following two days! So much walking. Soooooo much walking.