Instead of hopping back and forth park to park like we typically do, we spent the entire day today in the Magic Kingdom. You just have to start and end every Disney trip there. We did not try to get there when it opened, but we were there before lunch. Space mountain was going to be our first ride, but it was closed for refurbishing (closed for 8 months). You can check out to see which rides are down on which dates on the DisneyWorld website. You can also check to see the height requirements for the rides. 40" is a magic number, as is 44".
Thunder mountain was one of the boys' favorites. Addison was so excited that I thought he might burst! I sat between them and as we climbed the mountain he yelled, "What comes up... must. go. down!!" Ivey was alert and excited the whole day! There are a lot more baby-friendly rides than you'd think. She rode Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear and more. Pretty much every ride in FantasyLand is baby-friendly! We used our fast-passes wisely. I suggest figuring out which fast pass ride you want to ride most and heading straight for it as soon as you enter the park. Split up. Let one adult hightail it over to grab the passes and meet you back at another ride. Check the time on the fastpass that says when you can get your next FastPass. As soon as you can, grab another one. You'll be glad you did! Jeff and I took turns running across the park getting fast passes. We didn't stay in any line that was longer than about 20 minutes or so.
We used Ivey's highchair cover as a liner for the stroller, so that it wouldn't take up any room in our bag or in the bin under the stroller. This worked out really well making a comfy bed for her to nap in, also. You need that highchair cover for the restaurants! I nursed Ivey often and she stayed nice and hydrated. I don't know how on earth I would have done it if I had to deal with bottles or formula. For me, it was perfectly easy to just nurse her when she needed it while parked in a corner waiting for the guys to ride a ride, while riding a slow boat ride, or even while walking. If you don't have one, get a breastfeeding cover. It makes things much easier and calms the fear of flashing the world. I just thought to myself a) no one cares b) if they do they are idiots and b) they can think I'm European.
This was the first time Jeff and I used the "baby swap" service. Let me tell you how this works... any ride that babies are not able to ride offers 'baby swap'. You go up to the entrance of the line with all family members and say you need to baby swap. They will give a rider swap pass to the parent who is not riding. One parent takes the other kids (or no kids) on the ride while the other parent waits with the smaller children. Once the taller kids and adult come back, the other parent gets to go and jump in the Fast Pass line... with up to 2 other people!!! This means that the taller kids get to ride twice in a row, as if they had two fast passes. Brilliant!
Although the old dining plan was vastly superior to the new one, we enjoyed it and worked it to its fullest. (They took away the dinner appetizer and, more importantly, no longer include the tip into the dining plan... which totally takes away the 'all inclusive' nature of the plan.) On the basic dining plan, you get a snack credit, a counter service credit and a table service credit per person per day. If you want to eat a decent dinner, you MUST make your reservations way in advance. Months in advance if you can. To us, this is non-negotiable. It is what makes the dining plan so great. You can go to the top restaurants and get a $34 fillet Mignon instead of eating hamburgers. Get reservations. If you don't you. will. be. sorry. If you want to know which restaurants are best, search the web. You can find reviews and menus, or let me know and I'll give you some advice! We use our counter service credits for lunch. There are kids meals that offer kid friendly meals. My suggestion, DO NOT GET THEM. The counter service credits are not separated into child or adult.. you just have a lump of counter service credits. What does this mean? It means that you can use ONE credit and get more food than two kids can eat for lunch... and it's better food. One day, the boys split a quarter chicken, black beans and rice, dessert and a drink. Save the extra credit for breakfast- where you can use some snack credits and some of these extra counter credits to fill up for no extra money. I know this may not work for all kids- some may pitch a fit about sharing. But, for our boys (who think that getting their own happy meal at McDonalds only happens on special occasions- the three of us just split a 20 piece nugget and small fry) it works well. Heck, Addison will even say, "I'm not all that thirsty so I'll just have water or a lemonade packet to save money". Let kids know how much things cost... most of the time they don't even realize things cost money at all!
We ate dinner at the Crystal Palace Character Buffet. It wasn't the very very best food at Disney, but we like a good character dinner. It gets those pictures with some characters without having to wait in any line for it. They come table to table for pictures. Brilliant. The boys loved that they could eat as much as they wanted, anything that they wanted. I told them if they ate well, they could have any and as much dessert as they wanted... making it a totally special vacation dinner! They ate two plates of good food and, as I figured, the idea of getting all the dessert they wanted was bigger than their ability to eat it all. Each meal, I fed Ivey using the disposable spoons, jars of food, disposable bibs and disposable table place mat. Was it saving the planet? No. Was it saving our vacation? Yes! Be smart on your expensive vacation and go for happiness.
This was the first trip that we did not use a rental stroller Instead, we borrowed a great stroller (which we will be purchasing one of soon) for Ivey. We brought a carrier for her, which we used when she needed to get out of the stroller, when she was having a hard time napping, or when Addison was too tired to walk and needed to ride. It worked very well. It did change our mode of transportation to the park. We usually took the bus but this time we drove from our hotel to the parks each day. With our stow-and-go seats in the van we had enough room to put the stroller in the van without having to collapse it, so the bottom bin could stay packed. When we had to ride the tram from parking into the park, we had to take the stuff out and fold it down- it wasn't completely simple, but it worked well enough. I even did it all by myself a couple times. You need to explain to the kids that although they may ride on the bus to the park in their own seats, at night when they ride back they will have to sit in your lap to make room for everyone. The buses at night are slammed... and the idea of not getting their own seat causes kids who are exhausted to spin out of control. We witnessed this before we had kids and made a point to explain this to the boys- and avoided all tantrums on each of the three trips.
At about 9:00, Ivey and I headed back to the room while Jeff and the boys stayed out. We had to ride the tram from the park gate to the van, so I had to hold her, fold the stroller and grab the backpack to get on the tram. I'm glad I didn't let this deter us from splitting up. People are nice and will help out. I could *almost* do it myself and just needed someone to help me scoot the stroller across the tram's row. Since this is our third family trip here and I have been down here 2 or 3 times while Jeff was working on their systems, I have gotten very good at following the purple signs around the Disney property. I made it from the park to our hotel and Ivey and I were down for the night. I think Jeff and the boys took the bus to Magic Kingdom and came in at about 11:30.