Monday, January 7, 2013

Nine's Disney Adventures Continue: Tink's First Trip from the UK to WDW Part 2

Many thanks to Janine for sharing her family's Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World experiences with us! This latest installment is her trip report from her WDW visit this fall.  

Ever since I found out I was pregnant I have dreamt of taking Tink to Walt Disney World. She did come with us in utero and caused me no end of grief including a trip to the ER where our first scan of her at just 6 weeks was performed by a Tower of Terror Cast Member (she was also employed by Celebration Hospital, just to clarify!)

So as soon as she was born we began to think about when we could take her back. We even snuck in a 2 night stay at Disneyland Paris. But nothing prepared me for actually being at WDW with my husband and child.

Let me give you a heads up, I'm a crier. I cry when we land in the US, I cry when I see the first WDW sign, I cry on the monorail and I bawl like a baby when I'm on Main Street. This was all amplified by about a million having Tink in tow. 

We decided just to potter about Downtown Disney the first evening as it had been a long flight and I sniffled all the way round, culminating in a few good tears at Tink's first visit to World of Disney.

There were plenty of tears the first morning walking into Disney's Hollywood Studios and even more when she had her first character experience, running up to Goofy and Pluto and giving them big kisses. There was no shyness here, just pure excitment and pleasure. But the biggest heart wrenching mama sobbing moment of that first day (and maybe the holiday?) was her meeting Mickey at Animation Courtyard. Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey is my favourite anyway but add in the hugeness of the moment (and we were first in line) and the water works started good and proper. Tink just ran into Mickey's arms and literally the whole crowd waiting collectively went 'aw'. Sniff. This really was the moment when husband and I looked at each other and thought, that alone was worth all the months of saving and planning.

Every character interaction we had was amazing and we made full use of PhotoPass and now have over 400 wonderful photos to look at. Tink was a bit more shy with the Princesses and Tinkerbell, mainly I think because they tried to engage with her and at just over 2 and half years old, although she doesn't stop nattering at home she can be quite reserved with new people. With fur characters she really came into her own, her favourite trick was to take a stuffed toy of that character to meet them, they loved that and we even ended up getting our Mexican Donald from EPCOT signed by the big duck which was pretty cool.

The character dining was a big hit too. We did Play and Dine at Hollywood and Vine at DHS with Handy Manny, Oso, June from Little Einsteins and Tink's firm favourite, Jake. This was great fun and not as loud or hectic as I had been warned, just right as it is aimed at pre-schoolers. We also ate at Cape May at the Beach Club. This featured Donald, Goofy and Minnie and again it was just fab. I'd love to stay here one day, what a wonderful resort. We were however glad that we didn't have to pay for madam to eat (they're both buffets so under 3's are free) as she was too busy looking at the characters to eat much, even the cakes didn't tempt her.

Tink was also remarkably good and brave on rides. Her favourite by far is It's A Small World and we had to ride it hundreds of times. I still have to sing her the song as part of her bedtime routine ...  When we went to DLP in the summer she rode a couple of things, Buzz and Peter Pan, and didn't really like them, in fact she said Buzz scared her. So we didn't hold out much hope in WDW. But she was a changed child and even did Pirates of the Carribbean and The Haunted Mansion!!! Now she was a little bit scared of those, but not in a "get me out of here" kinda way, just she cuddled into me a bit more during the dark bits. Rollercoasters didn't phase her at all, she held her arms up on Goofy's Barmstormer shouting 'weeeeee' all the way round. I'll have her Space Mountain next time no prob ;-)

She also LOVED the shows, especially the Disney Junior show. I can just picture her now dancing all the way through, singing along and shouting to the characters on stage. Well done Disney for a wonderful performance.

One of the things I really liked was the way the Cast Members interact with the little ones. If she was wearing a Princess dress they'd call her Princess. When she was dressed up like Tink they asked her about the fairies. They were always waving at her and she got a couple of extra cookies. I do believe WDW is a place for all people of all ages but I was 21 my first visit, I'm so glad Tink will always know she went when everything really was still pure magic and the CMs really do add to this.

We all really enjoyed taking our time and doing some rides and shows which were new for us too, such as the Disney Junior stuff and more sedate rides we had bypassed before (shame on us) such as Carousel of Progress and Jungle Cruise. We also enjoyed exploring World Showcase through a 2 year-old's eyes and spending time actually with the animals in the Affection Section in AK. Everything about this holiday was focused on what Tink would want to do and indeed could do (although this mama did fit in one quick Tower of Terror ride) and it really worked for us.

This included getting to parks for rope drop, making the most of little or no lines, then heading back to our hotel for a quick rest and nap. We would then either go back to the parks or shopping and dinner in the evening. We didn't make it out late enough to see any parades or fireworks and there was no way we did as much as previous years but this was very much a quality over quantity holiday for us. 

One issue we did have (but would have had anywhere) was food and Tink not wanting to eat. She is not the best eater, more of a snacker but she also doesn't like to sit up and wait for her food, especially if there is stuff going on. This did lead to a few ruined meals and tantrums but we always tried to keep in mind she is only 2, she has jeg lag and its like 100 degrees!!! Bedtime was also an issue, as in she didn't want to go!!! Tink and I shared a bed and even when she was exhausted she didn't go down without a fight a lot of the time, too excited and too much going on I expect but pretty frustrating at the time. Only a week or so after we got home she dropped her day nap and now goes to bed no problem ... typical, if only she'd done that there. Oh well.

So there we are. I've been totally honest about our first experience of WDW with a toddler. There were many, many good times, a few did we make the right choice times but on the whole it was A-Mazing and we can't wait to return in 2014 and do it all again.

Contributed by Janine P. of Swindon, England. She is a proud wife, mommy to Felicity and one of our Minnie Moms.  Check out her monthly series which followed her as she planned her family's first trip to Disneyland Paris.  Learn more about Janine here.

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