I didn’t plan our Disney trip so I am not going to write about how I planned the perfect trip. The best decision I made in all of this was to hire Ali Quirk with the Mouse Detectives to plan our trip.
We had a wonderful time in Disney. Yes, it was exhausting and the lines are long and all the things people tell you but it’s also magical and fun. I expected the kids to love it but I didn’t expect Justin and I to enjoy ourselves as much as we did. It wasn’t easy keeping the kids entertained in the long lines but once we were on the rides we all had a blast.
Disney does so many things right. It is obvious that they are not just good at what they do…they are the best! Things are well marked, rules are easy to find and the staff is friendly and kind at all times. I didn’t encounter one castmember who was rude or annoyed the entire time we were there. From the resort to the parks the entire area is run to perfection.
My biggest surprise of the trip was the food. People kept telling me how wonderful the food was and I had my reservations. I am from New Orleans and I really like food so I was not expecting to be blown away. The meal we had the first night at the Grand Floridian Resort was exceptional. I had a lobster burger along with a flight of desserts to finish the meal. Our resort had a variety of cupcakes that were divine and the last day we were there we let the boys sample all of them. The Dole Whip was our favorite. Although the food was better than I expected I was really disappointed in the Chef Mickey breakfast especially for the price.
All in all the trip was wonderful. We would love to go back in a few years. I will be using Ali to plan all of our trips. She was helpful and not in a pushy way. She took time to really get to know what kind of trip we wanted and she planned exactly that for us. She never tried to push on me what she wanted or thought we should do. She was there with suggestions but eager to please us.
We didn’t have the typical Disney trip that a lot families have. We really stuck to what we thought would be best for our family. Some of the things we were right about and some we were wrong. I wanted to give you the list of both and why I felt that way.
Before we get started I want to give you some details about our trip for reference.
- We drove from Mandeville to Orlando. It took us about 10 hours each way.
- We stayed at the All Star Music Resort which is one of the mid priced resorts
- We spent 5 days in Orlando and 3 days in the parks. We went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. We didn’t regret missing animal Kingdom and will see it next time.
- We used the dining plan and did all quick service meals.
- Ali Quirk planned our entire trip from beginning to end. She did all of our fast passes and even booked our stroller.
- We paid about $3,500 for our trip.
What we did right
- Three Park Days. This was probably the biggest thing we were told that we were doing wrong. Everyone seemed to think it wasn’t enough days. Justin and I really thought it was perfect and it was. No matter how we did it we weren’t going to see it all on this trip and that was totally fine with us. We loved what we got to experience and left wanting more. To me that was perfect. My Advice… think carefully about how many days you think your family will be happy in Disney. My biggest fear was doing too much and the kids being miserable.
- Staying at the mid-priced resort. We asked for quotes from several resorts from the higher priced to the lower priced. We ended up settling on a mid price resort because it fit our budget the best. In the end I am so glad we went with the resort we did because we were barely in the room anyway. We knew we wouldn’t be going back to the room mid day so being right on the Magic Kingdom wasn’t a big deal. My advice… don’t blow your budget on an expensive room that you aren’t going to be in. There are so many fun things to do in Disney and you can spend more money doing those things. Like extra character dinners!
- Meal Plan. We did the quick service meal plan. The thought of dragging the boys to a sit down dinner each night sounded exhausting. What we did was ride rides until right before we wanted to eat and then put our order in on the app. We would walk up and our food was ready, eat and then go find a good spot for fireworks. The quick service meals were delicious and with the app it couldn’t have been easier to get your food quickly. My Advice… Decide if you really want to do a sit down meal every night. If not opt for the quick service and pay cash for a few character dinners.
- Not getting the Memory Maker. I really went back and forth about this. So many people told me that I should get it because I love pictures so much. I really thought about it long and hard and then one of my close friends told me her real opinion about how it wasn’t worth the value for their family. I decided to see what we ended up with and then pay for the pictures after the fact. I am so glad we didn’t spend the money. I wasn’t impressed with any of the pictures they took of the kids with the exception of one day. We also only had a handful of pictures of us on the ride and most of them the kids aren’t looking. Before the trip I purchased a small tripod that would hold my DSLR or my iPhone. I also purchased a set of preset edits (Magic Babe presets from Boss Babe Presets on Instagram) for Lightroom that I could use to edit all of my pictures myself. My Advice… If you are not comfortable taking pictures I would spend the money. We could have asked for more pictures and if I had the memory maker I would have. However, if you are comfortable taking pictures on your own and have a little skill I would skip it.
- Renting a stroller. Hallelujah I do not know what we would have done without the stroller. Not only for the kids but just the stuff. While we were there it would be cool in the morning, warm in the afternoons and then cool again. It was on with jackets and off with jackets and someone needs to buy a souvenir. It was also convenient for resting our bags or carrying waters. Plus at the end of the day when they kids were done I didn’t have to carry anyone. If I could have added anything I should have brought my baby carrier for Porter. My Advice... Best $50 I have ever spent.
- Wearing what we wanted. I originally thought we would have matching shirts each day. As our trip got closer I was like, who am I kidding this isn’t us. I had already bought one set of matching shirts so we rolled with it. The other days I let them pick out the shirts they wanted to wear. We did a vintage Mickey Mouse Day and then we did a Star Wars Day. My Advice… This was so much easier than fighting them to wear what I wanted each day. They were going to look cute no matter what. We were in Disney for God Sakes!
What we did wrong
- Should have taken a day off. We powered through three days in the parks but by the last day in Epcot we were all tired and turned in early. If I could do it again I should have scheduled a day off between day two and day three and played at the pool. Had I known how much the resort would have to do and all the snacks they would have at the resort we would have planned it this way.
- Better planning with fast passes. We planned all of our fast passes for the mornings which worked out great. WE knew just where to go and what times we needed to be where and then were on our own for the afternoon. The next time we go I will plan our fast passes for the afternoon. Why? My kids are were so much more cooperative in the mornings so standing in line was easier. By the afternoon they were tired and it would have been nice to bypass some of the lines then. Next time I will plan it that way.
- Better planning with character meals. I wasn’t sure what to do about the character meals so we planned something that I heard other friends talk about. We also didn’t have a lot of options because everything was booked. Next time I will jump on the character meals asap and book the ones we want like Be Our Guest.
- Height Requirements. I take 100% responsibility for this. I thougtht that all of the rides we had chosen were ok for Porter to ride. I was wrong and we got turned away from two rides which turned into a lot of tears over being not able to ride. I should have measured him and known what he could ride and couldn’t ride to save the drama nd spare his feelings.
Boys top five favorite things
- Slinky Dog Dash. Hands down. Still talking about it. So happy we waited 95 minutes to ride it because it was the highlight of their trip.
- Make Your Own Lightsaber. We found this by accident and I am so glad we did. The boys were able to go through the entire station and choose different components of their lightsaber from the color to the handle. It was so much fun and they loved it.
- Peter Pan. My mom had them so excited about this before we even got there. They were eager to ride and didn’t mind waiting for 75 minutes.
- Star Tours. Easily the entire families favorite ride except for Porter who was too small and got a little salty (picture below). We could have ridden it 10 times.
- Snack Credits! The lived their best lives trying everything from cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cake, cupcakes, fudge and more. I won’t lie. We loved it too!