Disney World with a 4 year old

We were at my parent's lake house over Memorial Day weekend my mom came up with this crazy idea that we go to Disney World in a mere 3 weeks.  SAY WHAT?!?!? You see, my niece would be dancing in a parade at Hollywood studios and my sister along with her three kids and husband were going down to see her dance.  I thought my mom was nuts to try and do Disney on such short notice.  We decided that we would try and make it all happen and from there we started to get the ball rolling on our short but wonderful Disney World trip.  We also decided that this would be a surprise for all of the kids.  My nephews and niece obviously knew they were going to Disney but we kept it a secret from Drew that we were going and from my nephews and niece that we were coming along. My mom also called my little sister in Boston and asked if she wanted to meet us down in Florida, she of course wanted to tag along.

The next day my mom called the resort my sister's family would be staying at they were completely booked, so I got on the phone and spoke with customer service and let me tell you, Disney is BOOKED this time of year.  We were lucky to find a room let alone at the resort right next door.  My sister and her family stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and we found one of the last rooms available on the entire Disney property at Disney's Pop Century Resort. We ordered our magic bands and started researching Disney vacations.  Once I started reading I felt like I needed a college course on all things Disney to understand everything.

I will say first and foremost Disney has a pretty slick system.  We did the magic bands and linked everything to them (park hopper passes, room keys, fast passes, credit cards). It was nice only having to worry about keeping your band on for the entire stay.  

Before we left we lined up a few Fast passes for each day.  If you're not familiar with fast passes, I wasn't before this trip. Fast passes allow you go to the front of the attraction line during your designated time.  You sign up prior to your vacation online or on your app (my Disney Experience).  You can have 3 fast passes a day and then pick up a fourth each day after your previous three have expired. You can sign up to meet characters, ride rides or see shows.  We chose a combo of things that I'll tell you about a little later. I also rented a stroller from Kingdom Strollers.  This was amazing, and the stroller was great.  They dropped the BOB single jogger off aty hotel and thrn picked it up after our stay. The stroller came with a rain cover and small cooler, both which came in handy during our stay. I would highly recommend Kingdom Strollers. 

The day we left, we were supposed to leave at 7PM. Brendan and I planned to surprise Drew with a small bag of goodies that I got for the Disney store.  I got him two t-shirts to wear while we were there, a cup to take with us, some stickers and the character autograph book.  Brendan and Kate stayed home while my mom, Drew and I traveled to Disney.  Since it was just a four day trip we thought it was best for me to just take Drew and scout out what we'd like to do when we take both kids back in a few years.  I woke Drew up from his nap and my mom and stepdad were here along with Brendan.  I handed Drew his bag and started talking about where Mickey Mouse lives.  I think he was so dazed he didn't quite understand what was going on until we actually got in the car to go to the airport.  

  Ok, now that I've covered getting there, let's get to the goods.  We arrived super late or early at 4AM Tuesday morning.  Our flight was delayed 4 hours and we landed at 3AM Orlando time. We slept for about 4 hours, woke up and headed to the Magic Kingdom.  I was shocked how well Drew was doing, I thought he would be a bear, but I think he was so excited he just took it all in.  We arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 9:30AM and had a fast pass to meet Mickey Mouse.  This got our vacation off to a great start.  The kids loved meeting g Mickey and as we were leaving the theatre where we met Mickey we literally ran in to Snow White. We then hung around Magic Kingdom until about 1:30PM after our fast passes to the Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear rides.  Both rides were absolutely adorable and the kids loved them! 

We snapped a few pictures around the hotel before we caught our bus to the Magic Kingdom. 

Magic Kingdom entrance

Meeting Mickey!  The kids thought they were hot stuff because we were at the front of the line, we had a fast pass.

After meeting Snow White we headed over to a classic ride, It's a Small World.  The kids loved it!  

After it's a small world we waited for our other fast passes to Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear.  The kids went on the carousel and we grabbed some lunch.  By this time everyone was tuckered out and ready for a nap.  We headed back to the hotel and on our way out we ran in to the Fairy Godmother. 

I let Drew sleep until 6PM, poor kid was exhausted.  When I woke him up we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for the lighted parade and more fun.  Late night at Magic Kingdom is really a great time to get a lot of activities in.  We were able to do about 8 different things in a matter of 90 minutes.  The lines had less then 10 minute waits, we met Belle, Ariel, Goofy, Tinkerbell and Donald.  We also were able to ride four different rides.  We then headed home after a very long but fun day. 

Mad Tea Party with aunt Karin

Dumbo ride, Drew says this was his favorite ride.
Meeting Ariel in her grotto

Story time with Belle.  This was absolutely adorable, they include all of the kids and Drew played the horse.

Meeting Tinkerbell

 I will add this, everything we did at the Magic Kingdom was great!  The only attraction Drew was not a fan of was Stitch's Great Escape, I wasn't a fan either.  Here's. List of the attractions we saw and really liked at Magic Kingdom:

It's a Small World
Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin
Cinderella's Castle
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Enchanted Tales of Belle
Jungle Cruise
Mad Tea Party
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor
Peter Pan's Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Tomorrowland Speedway
Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid
Meet Mickey Mouse at town hall theatre
Lighted parade

Cinderella, met her at the hall of princesses late at night so the wait was only 20 minutes.
Mickey Mouse
Donald Duck
Fairy Godmother
Snow White
Tinker Bell 

We headed back to Magic Kingdom on our third day at Disney.  I thought I would include those pictures with the pictures above to keep everything together.  It rained this evening but only the outdoor attractions closed for about 90 minutes.  The park also honored our fast passes that we had during this time. 

The second day of our trip we headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom for half of a day.  This is the one park I wish so badly we had more time at.  It's absolutely AMAZING!  We had a fast pass to see the Lion king show and oh my goodness it was out of this world.  I was mesmerized, there literally are no words for how amazing this show was.  In the Animal Kingdom they have an area that's supposed to look like Africa and it looks like Africa, it's so surreal.  This park was outstanding.  We did the Kilimanjaro Safari and again NO WORDS other then amazing.  We were maybe 15 feet from rhinos and hippos.  We also did It's Tough to be a Bug, I thought it was adorable, Drew who hates bugs wasn't so impressed.  It was super cute and I would go back.  My kid is scared of all bugs, but thinks a 5000 pound hippo is the bees knees.  We headed to Dino land and the kids went in to the Boneyard, it was super cute.  We also went on thr TriceaTop spin, again cute and totally appropriate for ages 4-10.   

Unfortunately, we didn't get to stay at Anmal Kingdom longer.  My niece had practice and we were heading to Hollywood stupios that evening for her parade.   We went back to the hotel and again Drew napped.  With it being up in the 90's and feeling like it was over 100 degrees Drew would crash for a few hours and he needed it.  We bought one of those misting fans and it was a lifesaver.  Our stroller came with a small cooler and I would take some water and milk with us in to the parks, which was nice to have on hand. Milk isn't easy to find every place and no one wants warm milk.  

That evening we went to Hollywood studios to watch our little dancer and take in all the sights.  We arrived early and I looked on the Disney app and saw that Lighting Mcqueen and Mater were available for a meet and greet until 8PM.  We headed over, literally ran over to get in line.  A little side note, I would shower twice daily because it was so hot.  Running to take my kid to see Mcqueen voided my second shower of the day, but it was totally worth it.  His life is now complete, his face when he saw the life size cars was priceless.  We then watched the Muppets 3D movie and it was cute, Drew really enjoyed it.  After the movie it was parade time. Our little dancer did great and the costumes were adorable, they were all lighted and they wore red sparkly heels like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  

The next day we headed back to Hollywood studios because Stella had a dance showcase she was performed in.  We first rode on the Star Tours Star Wars ride.  We waited forever after being told it was a 10 minute wait.  Neat ride, but not worth waiting an hour for.  We watched Stella dance and do an awesome job and then headed to lunch.  After lunch I took Drew to meet Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc.  We then had a few minutes before we needed to meet my mom and little sister to head back to the hotel so we went and met Goofy.  Drew loved meeting each character and would give each one a huge hug before handing them his autograph book.  

Future Jedi?
We were bored.
Miss Stella danced her little heart out! 

That afternoon once again we went back to the hotel and Drew napped while I packed our bags for our early morning flight the next day.  We then headed back to the Magic Kingdom that evening where we had a few more fast passes.  We saw the most beautiful show on the castle that evening.  It rained most of the night but show still went on.  We got home at midnight and our car picked us up at 4:30AM for our flight home.  This time our flight was on time and we were back home by 10AM.  

I was dead tired on our way home but Drew was once again full of energy and insisted I take his picture. 

We had a great time at Disney and it was such a memorable trip.  Brendan and I really want to take the kids back when Kate is a bit older and over 40 inches tall.  I noticed while we were there that   40 inches seems to be the minimum height for most of the attractions.  If you're on the fence about renting a stroller, rent one.  I paid $65 for four days and was not disappointed.  My 8 year old niece was riding on the front of my stroller because she was so tired from walking.  Kingdom strollers was great to us and has a lot of selection for your needs.  Take extra snacks for your kids, everything at Disney is expensive.  At our hotel they charged $1.69 for one banana.  I remember that because it seemed so ridiculous.  I brought along a bunch of fruit snacks, crackers, raisins and granola bars for Drew.  He would snack on those between meals and I have no doubt it saved us a pretty penny.  Wear tennis shoes and take a couple of pairs.  If it rains and you get wet, well wet shoes are no fun to put back on the next day.  If you go to Disney in the summer, prepare to sweat.  I thought Iowa was hot in the summer, holy crap, I felt like a rotisserie chicken slowly cooking.  So my next tip; bring extra clothes.  I would shower twice a day and change clothes twice a day.  

Whatever you do when you go to Disney, have a great time!  We were only there for a short time but we had such a wonderful time and made memories that will last a lifetime.  

Please feel free to ask any questions.  

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