There are so many things about my first trip to Disney that I remember vividly. I remember excitedly walking through the gates of the park, my first glimpse of the castle, standing in line to get EVERY autograph from EVERY character we came across, eating my first Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich, and watching the fireworks show, in awe of every booming spectacle. I also remember the long drive to Orlando that I thought would never end, getting carsick and having to pull over on the way down, and that time my mom laid my sister’s panties out to dry in the sun on a rock because they got soaking wet on Splash Mountain. You know, the usual family vacation type memories. I wanted Walt and Ollie’s first trip to Disney to be just as memorable, and we definitely succeeded in that regard earlier this year!
If you are anything like me, you view taking a trip to Disney World while your kids are young as one of the basic rights of passage for any young parent (alongside learning how to function on a few hours sleep/covered with various bodily fluids). Although Walt has loved Mickey Mouse Clubhouse since he was only a few months old, we knew he wouldn’t get the same enjoyment from theme park Mickey until he was a little older. Because of this, we chose two 1/2 years as the ideal age we would bring him, with the goal being that he would still be young enough to be infatuated with the magic of Disney but wouldn’t be too young to enjoy some of the rides or be afraid of the characters.
We planned to stay at the Polynesian Resort to take advantage of the convenience of the Magic Kingdom monorail and free parking at all of the parks. Originally, we planned on leaving Oliver at home, and we actually booked the trip that way at first. I started panicking when we were about two months away from leaving. I couldn’t do it. I convinced Davis that he had to go with us and he came up with the idea to ask our moms along as well! In order to make that work, we enlisted the help of a certified Disney travel agent, who recommended we make a slight change to the itinerary and book through the Disney Vacation Club side of the Polynesian Resort. Instead of our rooms having a typical hotel layout with a king bed and full bathroom, the DVC rooms had two bathrooms, which came in handy for both of our rooms; we set up our pack n play and made one bathroom into Walt’s bedroom, and our moms shared a room and each had their own private bathroom.
When it comes to vacations, Davis likes to plan out every possible detail in advance. It is almost as if he gets as much enjoyment out of planning our trips as he does when we actually go on vacation, lol. Our Disney trip was no different, and he spent a great deal of time researching the best time of the year for us to visit the parks. We settled on early February based on weather and crowd sizes. After the trip was booked, he was pouring over the layout of the parks, planning our daily park schedule, making dining reservations, and setting up our FastPasses before we ever stepped foot in the parks. He made lists of all the possible rides Walt may want to ride at each park and came up with the most efficient itinerary we could possibly hope to complete. He tweaked it each day based on what we got done and sent it out via text message to our whole crew each night… he’s a serious vacationer, lol.
We set out on our journey early Sunday morning with a 7-hour drive ahead of us. When road tripping such a long distance with two kids in the car, keeping them occupied is important for everyone’s sanity. Walt spent a great deal of time playing with toys from home and eating “schnacks” on his activity tray, and Ollie kicked at his headrest toy between naps and feedings. We stopped for a quick lunch at a rest area around the halfway point, then continued on towards Orlando. When we got to the hotel, we were able to go straight to our room thanks to online check-in and our magic band room keys. After unloading our luggage, we all piled into my car and headed to a kickoff dinner at Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs. Walt loved seeing all the robotic animals inside the restaurant move around, especially the monkeys! After dinner, we stopped by the Lego Store. Walt had his first character encounter with some lifesize Toy Story Lego characters!
Our first full day was spent at Animal Kingdom. Walt is an animal lover (he gets it honest), so he was really excited to see the zoo portion of the park. Staying at a resort got us an extra hour in the morning, and we got to the park when it opened at 8AM. We went straight to the Tree of Life to watch the It’s Tough to be a Bug 3D show. Although Walt is a big Bug’s Life fan, the loud noises and animatronic grasshopper villain were a little much for him for his first theme park experience. Our next stop, meeting safari Mickey & Minnie, was more his style. He had been preparing for this moment for months. He literally watched youtube videos of other kids hugging Mickey for pointers. After a short wait in line, we rounded the corner to see Mickey & Minnie standing there and Walt took off towards them. That moment alone would’ve made the trip worth it, yet our vacation was only beginning.
Bringing along a 4-month-old meant plenty of stops to feed him. I’m not used to breastfeeding him in such a public place, so it took some getting used to it before I felt anything but uncomfortable (a good nursing cover is a must have!). While I fed Ollie, our moms rode Expedition Everest and Davis took Walt to go potty, then we traded off for our turn on the rollercoaster. Disney’s Rider Switch service combined with pre-booked FastPasses meant we were easily able to ride many of the most popular rides in the park with virtually no wait. From there, we headed to see the animals on the Maharajah Jungle Trek before turning in some more FastPasses and hopping aboard the Kilimanjaro Safari bus. Walt loves a good car ride with the wind in his face, and he really liked seeing the giraffes, elephants, and crocodiles! It was also the perfect place for Oliver to nap in Davis’ arms.
We had lunch reservations at the Tusker House Character buffet, where Walt got to meet more of his safari clubhouse friends, including Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and Safari Mickey round 2. Oliver didn’t mind any of the characters except for Goofy. He started crying SO loud, haha. I can’t say that I blame him, Goofy was extremely tall! After lunch was the Festival of the Lion King show, before finishing up our time at the park with the adults riding the Dinosaur ride and Walt meeting Flik. He had a much better time with his bug friend this time around!
They sell these bubble wands all over the park. Davis and Walt had a BLAST playing with it back in our room!
To cap off our first night at the park, we made reservations at Chef Mickey’s character dining buffet. We hopped aboard the monorail at our hotel, and headed toward the Contemporary Resort. Driving a train into the middle of a building blew Walt’s mind! As we were getting checked in, we were almost feeling like we had overdone it with the character encounters, booking two character dining experiences in the same day… until Walt got his first glimpse of Minnie. I swear, it was love at first sight! He was yelling out to her, “Minnie! Minnie! I’m over here!” She skipped past a table of guests who were waiting to see her, gave Walt a big hug, grabbed him by the hand, and walked off with him around the corner. Walt literally thought he was going to go live with Minnie Mouse for the rest of his life, haha! If anybody asked him about the trip, he would tell them “I walked away with Minnie!” She stole our little boy’s heart! He got really excited to see Pluto too, but Minnie was definitely his fave! Oliver did amazing the entire day. I was so worried about him being fussy with such a long day, but he was so chill. It was a PERFECT first day!
Hollywood Studios was the next park on our list, and although they don’t have a ton of attractions for two-year-olds, they have a few quality ones. Since Captain Jake and Mickey are two of Walt’s favorites, we knew our first stop needed to be Disney Jr. Live. None of us had ever been to this attraction, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. We found seats on the floor near the front, and before we knew it, the room was transformed into Mickey’s clubhouse. Walt was blown away by being able to see all of his TV friends in the same room as him, dancing and singing! Oliver even seemed to enjoy the show!
After the show, we made our way over to Toy Story Midway Mania. While not exactly geared towards kids Walt’s age, we found a way to make the ride fun. Walt rode in my lap as we competed against Davis in a series of 3D carnival games with the Toy Story gang. I aimed the weapon as Walt fired. Our strategy worked, as we ended up outscoring Davis and taking home bragging rights!
We had lunch reservations at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The restaurant was set up like the inside of a 1950’s kitchen, and our server treated us all like misbehaving, mannerless teenagers, but it was all in good fun! Walt enjoyed a PB&J milkshake, but he refused to drink it with a straw, which led to a spilled milkshake and one of his only freakouts of the trip. The server couldn’t have been more helpful, and even brought out a fresh milkshake, which was waiting for Walt when he and Davis returned to the table from their teaching moment.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to recharge/let our sleepy Walt take a nap before making our first venture into the Magic Kingdom. When we went to the monorail station, we were told it was temporarily out of order, so we opted for a boat ride to the park instead. We hit Main Street USA for the first time, and Walt got his first glimpse of the castle. He was shouting, “Mickey and Minnie live there!” haha!
We had FastPasses set up for the next day at Magic Kingdom for many of the Fantasyland rides, so we decided to tackle Adventureland first. Walt enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean.. that is until the boat took an abrupt dip through the darkness and splashed water in his eyes. It scared him, and he was upset for a few moments, but perked right back up when we started through the center of the pirate town. To be honest, it scared me a little bit too! I had Oliver in my arms because it said all ages could ride. I was not expecting the drop or getting wet so I was a tad upset that no one warned us when they saw me carrying in Oliver. By the end of the ride, Walt was singing along with the pirates and trying to spot Captain Jack (his sweet giggles cheered me back up too)! He was rewarded for his bravery with his first ever Mickey Mouse ice cream bar. He D-E-V-O-U-R-E-D it! It was all over him, haha!
We had time for a few more rides before the day came to a close. Walt liked steering our cars up and down on both the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Dumbo, and I think he developed a bit of a crush on Ariel after the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Dinner was at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, which ran a little long, so we missed the fireworks. No worries though, as we were set to be back at the park to continue our adventures in Magic Kingdom the next day.