I can’t even explain how crazy busy the entire month of March was for my little family. We closed on our home on March 15, and two days later we headed south for a trip to Florida. Throughout the trip we learned a few very important lessons:
- No more driving long distances for short trips. Tim and I used to hop in the car and take off all the time for short getaways. We drove more than 10 hours straight to Hilton Head, SC back in 2013 for a long weekend, and in 2015 we drove almost 12 hours in one day for our Babymoon to Jekyll Island, GA. Well, this time we completely lost our minds and drove the 15+ hours to Orlando in one day… with an 18 month old and a pregnant woman. The trip went smoothly until about the last five hours when everyone was about to lose their minds. Tim and I learned a lesson though and made a pact that if a destination takes more than five hours to drive to, we will fly unless we are staying at least a full week. We were gone for five days, but really were in Florida for three. Next time – we fly!
- Stops take longer with a baby! On top of the 15 hour drive, add a few hours give or take onto our stops as well. Every time we stopped for food it was at least an hour, and when we stopped for gas it was another thirty minutes or so. We had to make sure that during this time Jack was able to walk around and stretch his legs (me too!), get his belly full, have a diaper change, and just be out of his car seat for a few minutes. We knew going in that the stops would be longer, but now we’ve experienced firsthand what it’s like to travel with a baby.
- Our baby is a trooper! Seriously guys, Jack did amazing on the very long travel days. We tried to drive as much as we could at night so that he would sleep during that time, and the rest of the trip we would sing songs or he would look through books, and he watched Mickey Mouse and a couple movies on my iPad that we set up with Netflix and the Disney Junior App. That helped a ton when he would get really antsy! He also was such a trooper just looking at the window and taking a few naps. I mostly sat up front, but a couple times I climbed in the backseat during a stop to give him some juice, feed him a snack, and just sit with him and hold his hand for a bit. He did great!
Okay, so now that we’ve talked about what we learned, let’s jump into the fun! On Sunday morning we slept in a bit, and then I went to the hotel gym while Tim and Jack went to Publix to pick up a few groceries. After sitting in a car all day Saturday it felt so amazing to stretch my legs and move! We declared Sunday morning pool time and let Jack swim and splash to his heart’s content. We stayed at the Marriott Grande Vista in Orlando and really enjoyed the resort. The amenities were super nice, there were plenty of pools to choose from, and a lot of options for little ones including baby pools and waterfalls. Everything was clean and nicely taken care of and we were impressed. If you aren’t going to stay on Disney property, choosing a resort like this is a great option.
After the pool, we came back and let Jack nap for a bit and then got ready for a late brunch. We had reservations at 2:00 at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Friends – if you want your littles to see the characters, this is the way to go! Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald visited every table and took pictures with the kids. It was a little pricey for a buffet, around $40 per adult (Jack was free), but what you’re really paying for is the characters, entertainment and experience. It was so fun to watch Jack’s eyes light up when the characters said hello to him. Worth every penny!
After Chef Mickey’s we walked around Disney Springs for awhile. The weather was beautiful and it was the perfect evening to be outside and take in Disney. Neither Tim nor I have been to Disney Springs in years and we were so impressed with the renovations and expansions that have taken place. You could spend hours there! Since we didn’t eat lunch until 2, we had a late dinner in Orlando at Yard House. We have one of these in Cincinnati, but we’ve only had drinks there before a Reds game and never food. The menu is huge and there is something for everyone. We started with the Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Ripped Potatoes (because I am obsessed with all things potatoes + vinegar right now) and Jack and I split the Angel Hair Pasta and added chicken to it. I wanted one of the yummy entree salad options, but it’s not as easy to split a salad with Jack!
Tuesday was our full day at Magic Kingdom! We arrived at the park around 9:30 and it was already packed. We had big plans to leave half way through the day and go back to the hotel for Jack to nap and have lunch, and then go back later. We quickly realized that unless you are staying on property and can just jump on the tram, coming-and-going isn’t that easy. So we decided our new plan was to stay as long as possible and then call it a day.
Once we got into the park, Tim and Jack immediately got on their first ride of the day, the Tea Cups! The line took about 20 minutes and I was worried Jack wouldn’t have the patience, but he handled it like a champ. After that we decided to start using Fast Pass to get on rides so that Jack wouldn’t have to wait too long. (Waiting is a lot to ask from a toddler…) We walked around for a bit, and then headed to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Jack thought it was hilarious when he wore the 4-D glasses and started giggling when Donald came out of the screen, but the glasses didn’t last long and he got a little antsy without them. I was worried he would get startled during a few parts, but he did really well!
The one hiccup of the day came at lunchtime. Since we were planning on leaving mid-day, we hadn’t put much thought into this and before we knew it the time was noon and Jack was starving! We walked around the park looking for a quick bite, but that was harder to find than expected. Everything we found was either expensive, a sit down, or had a huge wait. We finally settled on Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe because it seemed the fastest, but there was still a good 25 minute wait in the line, and then finding a table was next to impossible! Jack was really upset at this point though, so the only thing that mattered was getting some food in his tummy. He and I split the half chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes. It was the best real food choice I could find and I knew french fries wouldn’t have been enough to fill him up. Thankfully my babe is not a picky eater whatsoever, so he gobbled it up and was back to his usual happy self!
The rest of the afternoon consisted of exploring the park, riding both the Small World ride and the Pooh ride (…which I thought was a little dark and scary for Pooh?!). We also bought Jack the Mickey balloon he had been eying since we arrived. Everywhere he turned he would point and say ‘boon boon’ so we had to get him one.
We also picked up the Mickey hat, and it was Tim’s idea to put ‘Big Brother Jack’ on it. I thought it was brilliant! I had been trying to come up with a creative baby announcement and this idea was perfection. I brought my good camera with me too, so the pictures turned out amazing. I just love my boy in them!
Around 3:30 Jack finally gave into his exhaustion and fell asleep in the stroller in the middle of the Mickey Parade! The poor guy was beat and couldn’t take anymore. Later that evening we went back to Disney Springs for dinner. We made reservations at the T-REX Cafe because we thought Jack would love it! When we got there, he actually was a little scared of the dinosaurs, so we sat in the aquarium area and that turned out to be a much better option for him.
Tuesday was a rest / pool day at the resort. Jack napped for almost three hours in the afternoon after all the excitement on Monday!
We actually ended up going back to Disney Springs for dinner because we loved the area so much and wanted Jack to have one last opportunity to see Mickey in the stores and on signs.
Florida was a short yet great trip and I’m so happy we were able to have that experience with Jack! We recognize this will probably be the only time in his childhood that he goes to Disney as without his sibling, so we wanted to make these moments happen. The trip was all about spoiling him for a few days, showering him with mommy and daddy attention and affection, and building those sweet family memories. Disney – we’ll be back! And next time, with two!