Who and What: Myself, my husband and our two children, Topanga, age 6, and Jaco, age 4. Our first trip to Disney World. Yeah!
Plans: Drive from Connecticut to Disney World for a one-week stay.
Hybrid Car: 2011 Toyota Highlander -- This car was absolutely perfect for a trip like this. With the high price of gas, this was the best car of its size for gas mileage, plus it had tons of room for everything! It was also super comfortable.
Goals: My goal was to make our first Disney trip as Zen as possible, but also to have an amazing, fun-filled week -- eat healthy, be grateful in each and every moment, see everything, but also flow. Could we do it?
Healthy Eating: On the drive down I made sure we carried healthy snacks and filled our reusable water bottles at each stop. I also mapped out Whole Foods markets. Stopping at Whole Foods kept fast food nonexistent. After arriving at Disney, each morning we would pack fruit, healthy snacks and our water bottles in a backpack. Florida water is not the best tasting, but we made it through, not purchasing one bottle of water the entire trip! I was also able to find healthy choices at each restaurant in Disney.
The Hotel: The Grand Floridian -- Most amazing hotel at Disney and definitely the peaceful choice. This hotel is located just minutes from the Magic Kingdom on the monorail. Staying on Disney property sure made it easier to get around. My favorite thing about this hotel was the pools. The kids had so much fun swimming. During the week we would come back from a long day and just chill in the pool. We even enjoyed midnight swims with the kids. It was Disney -- we didn't stress about bedtimes!
Disney Apps: We had a few different apps for the iPhone that made things so much easier. We could view each park map, get hours and even view wait times for all the rides. Wow, technology sure makes it a lot different than the last time I was at Disney!
The Magic Kingdom: This is where the magic begins and ends, especially with a 4- and 6-year-old. Riding "It's a Small World" brought back all the memories of what I remember about Disney as a child. We gently walked the park, rode the rides we could and skipped the ones that didn't work out. The kids were in complete amazement. We experienced the fireworks three different nights. This is a must-do! Sitting under the fireworks, I realized what it is really all about. When the song "Wishes" came on, tears came to my eyes. Walt Disney is all about making kids realize they can make their dreams come true, and the magic is in believing.
Typhoon Lagoon: This park is definitely one of my personal favorites. I highly recommend it. It makes a great break in the week! The lazy river was super relaxing, the wave pool was stunning. Each and every water slide was better than the last. The beach was sweet, and I can't say enough good stuff about the Crusher Gusher. It may well be the most fun ride ever.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: This park is another one of my favorites. It is so shiny and new. The way that Hollywood is recreated is so real -- the streets, the architecture and even the landscape. I felt like I really was in Hollywood. Throughout all the Disney parks, each and every cast member made us feel happy and welcome. But I remember one cast member in particular at a restaurant in Hollywood Studios that offered to go to another restaurant and get me a salad because they didn't have the salad I wanted. Now that is service! Don't leave Hollywood Studios without seeing Fantasmic, probably the best live show I have ever seen!
Epcot: Epcot is all about the future. We went to Epcot one afternoon, rode some rides and had a nice dinner in "Italy"! The kids were amazed by each country. Epcot was also a great place to see characters.
Disney's Animal Kingdom: This was super fun. The parade was one of the best. Topanga got to be in the Festival of the Lion King show, which was crazy cool. My favorite experiences included the Dinosaur ride, Kali River Rapids and, of course, the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Walt Disney, The Man: Walt really was one of the innovators of the happiness, positive-thinking movement. He was promoting happiness long before the popularity of the self-help movement. He was all about magic, wishes and dreams. The foundation on which Disney World was built is all about believing your dreams can come true. This is what coming to Disney was all about -reminding us that wishes and dreams really do come true.