6 people x 8 days = 48 shirts (minimum)... 48 pairs of socks.... 15 pairs of shoes... and other such astronomical numbers
This was definitely the most challenging Disney trip that we have ever taken. We have taken both sets of our parents before, we have taken 2 1/2 year old twins before, we have even taken a 5 month old before.... but this one won out on sheer effort in toddler-toting, toddler-appeasing, dual naptimes, whiny two-year-old-girliness, potty business, and the extra planning now that Disney does not include children under 3 on their meal plan.
Things That Were Great To Bring
- Those applesauce/pureed fruit "on the go" squeeze bags. Healthy snack or breakfast for the little ones, even in the middle of the park. Found them on clearance at Target for 50 cents a pop!
- Horizon milk boxes!!!!!! WOW! Patting myself on that back for this one! Olive still really loves milk in the morning and night... and Ivey uses chocolate milk as her comfort drink. At home, her "chocolate milk" is regular milk with a little instant breakfast sprinkled in. Disney, we brought chocolate and plain Horizon (or Nestle) milk boxes. No regeneration necessary, but it's just milk packaged in some special way to make it okay in a box. No need for coolers, insulated bags, etc. This was AWESOME for us!!! I also packed along some Pediasure for Ivey on those days that I didn't feel good about her nutrition. Not cheap, but compared to Disney food it is!
- Lots of protein bars, Nutrigrain bars, etc to fill in the gaps and not use all of our snack on the dining plan as snacks!
- Table topper place mats. WORTH IT!! Lightweight, disposable, used them all over the park. Can get cute Disney ones and the little ones are totally happy!
- My mei tai baby carriers...or any carrier that you can switch from back to front. I could even wear mind on my hip when Ivey refused to ride any other way. You can't take strollers in lines. The only way to not break your back is to wear that heavy toddler on it!
- Lots of bottles of water. Grab some in the morning, pack it in the park, refill it at water fountains during the day and keep everyone hydrated for cheap. Add in....
- single serve drink mixes... lemonade, white grape, whatever. The water tastes horrible, so add a drink pack and keep those kids (and you) hydrated, saving those snack credits for good stuff!
- Take the little ones' favorite blankets, etc into the park with you on the stroller. A bit of a pain... until you want to stay out for those late nights in the park and your toddlers/preschoolers are sleeping blissfully in their stroller while you take turns riding rides and manning the snoozing kids!
- Battery operated clip-on stroller fan. This was AWESOME!! It wasn't cheap, but kept the little ones with a nice breeze... especially nice on a hot steamy night when they are sleeping!
- Little Disney toys, sticker books, coloring stuff, etc that you pick up for cheap at a dollar store or Big Lots. Pull it out throughout the trip, when kids are getting grumpy and tired, or when you really want to enjoy that fabulous two-credit dinner! I even had Cinderella and Minnie Mouse socks ($1). Happiness on the cheap. Little Disney figurines (purchased by Mom before the trip- thanks, Mom!!) in a cute Toy Story zipper bag kept Ivey completely happy on the ride home! I waited until the last day to give them out... Success!
- Anticipate the little ones getting wet in Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Those two parks have great areas to splash and play in water... cooling them off and letting them run around. Bring a bathing suit and they can all share a towel. You can sit and watch them have a blast, then back into dry clothes! (Splash mountain in the Magic Kingdom will get big kids wet, too, but big kids may be just fine walking it off till they get dry... and you don't get DRENCHED- usually!)
- Share quick service meals between kids, or even adults. There are places where the meals are definitely big enough for two people... look for chicken/rib plates. Order the adult portion chicken nuggets for the kids and split it instead of getting each one their own kid plate. Then, you save those quick service credits to use on the last day of your trip when there are none allotted for that day.
- Baby swap. Figure out the baby swap service for rides and use it often! :)
- Send a runner with all the passes to pick up fast passes while you ride something else.
- Rent a stroller. They are expensive. Yes. They are also fabulously designed and save the stamina of kids of all ages!! We had one sit and stand and we rented a double. The big kids cannot make it walking all day and night.
- Get your dinner reservations 6 months in advance. Seriously. All of them.
Addison surprised us all with his willingness to ride scary thrill rides. It wasn't just his willingness to, it was his logical approach as he obviously went through his decision making strategies. He rode Space Mountain under his own free will. But, when we reached the ride, it was a one-seater. Slight panic. He sat in the seat behind me, and I turned around as much as I could to tell him that it would be okay. As we ascended up the first hill, he started to lose it. He was crying. It was dark. I tried to turn around and tell him it would be fine, but be able to turn back early enough not to break my neck. As we accelerated into the coaster, all I heard were screams. Not "I am having fun" screams or even "Am I having fun?" screams. These were guttural, extremely loud, fairly short, and repeated throughout the ride. Screams that can only mean that he expected not to live. He was in a true panic. When the ride ended and we unbuckled, Addison looked surprisingly fine. I said to me, "That wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I might ride it again. Later, though, not now." With that, Addison earned the right to determine what rides he did and did not want to try. His risk assessment and ability to weigh emotional terror with logic told me that Addison was more qualified to tell Addison what to ride or not to ride than I was.
Ivey had a complete blast. Favorite ride, hands down.... Pirates of the Caribbean. At any given time, you could hear Ivey singing "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates Life For Me!" We rode this many times, on her request. One night in the park, she grabbed the sparkly headband from my hands. I had hoped to coaz her into letting me pull her hair back with it. Instead, she wanted to wear it around her head like a sweatband.... or, it seems, like a pirate. "Oh! Are you a beautiful pirate princess?" Jeff asked her. "No. I am NOT a beautiful pirate princess. I am a monster pirate!", she retorted. Take. That.
She handled being too small for some rides very well. She told Anna that she was tall enough to ride the Tower of Terror. Doubting this, Anna asked, "Did you like it, or were you scared?" Ivey answered, "It was a real moment." Seriously.
Even though it was super late each night getting back to the hotel, Ivey would usually be in her wired stage. She hits this super sweet, cute, funny point, and she hit it often back in the room. Asa and Addison slept in an adjoining room with Grand-momma and Granddaddy. I brought a set of bed rails, so Ivey and Olive slept on a Queen sized bed beside us. At one point, Ivey was sitting in bed with her chocolate milk. She looked at me, super syrupy sweet and said, "Will you go away please?" Good grief. That girl is a mess.
For Olive, this trip was all about Nemo. She must have ridden the Nemo ride 10 times. We saw the Nemo musical. She was signing star fish and turtle and every sea creature that she knew to sign. She was happy as a clam over in "The Sea". She was even happier when we let her strip down to her bathing suit and run in the jumping water... or just run around like a wild child during a massive rainstorm while we were over in Japan! She loves "otters"! (water). When we were at the beach, she called the seagulls "otters chickens" for water chickens. Silly girl.
Asa really packed his days with all the fast, crazy rides he could. If we were in line together for a coaster and only had 3 people, Asa would always volunteer to ride alone-- without reservation. He waits to get in the first car... or the last car... and holds his arms up from the time the seat belt is latched until it comes off again. That boy craves speed... and anything crazy for that matter. There is no little guy sitting on his shoulder telling him this might be too scary or too fast. Not for Asa. That child is intense. And, he gets it honestly.
After we got home from the trip, Addison asked Jeff a question in a way that was truly, well, Addison. "Daddy, what ride did you like 50/50?" Jeff answered the question with a question, asking it to Addison. "Well, I can tell you one I liked 95/5. Rockin' Rollercoaster." My boy and his numbers.