SPRING BREAK 2018
Finally got around to sharing our Spring Break trip with you. This vacation left a bit of a hangover, and was hard to get back to reality. Ya know, Disney is just so damn magical that it removes you so far from real life. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll break this post into sections. That way if you want to skip around you can or maybe you’ve never been to Disney World or cruise aboard one of their ships. Either way I’m happy to take you through our experience.
First thing first, Steve and I both grew up in South Florida, about 3 hours from Disney World. To say we’ve been a few times is an understatement. Let’s see….about 2 x a year our entries lives AND we’re both forty. You do the math. Clearly, we are Disney freaks, we just don’t advertise it with Mickey logo socks or kitchen appliances. But we do know a thing or two about it, how to navigate the parks and some other in and outs.
Let’s get to it!
PLANNING THE TRIP
Steve is the planner and booked the cruise last July. Seriously, he’s like a freakin’ tour guide. I’ve actually gotten lazy over the years and let him take over. Honestly he loves it. He’s a HUGE researcher and loves to read all the do’s + don’ts and must sees. We originally booked the 3 night Disney Cruise, because of his work schedule which limited the time he could go. But things changed a month before we left, and that left us with a good couple of days beforehand. We decided to hit up a few theme parks before we set sail.
There was a time where all we focused of was Magic Kingdom, princess breakfasts and the parades on Main Street. Those days are behind us now. No more stroller rental and crying kids. Although with that, came ALL THE MAGIC. I do miss seeing that in their eyes as we walked around the parks. It really was the good stuff. We had a lot of really great years, but now we are entering a whole new way to enjoy Disney with our kids. And let me just say, it is just as exciting.
Now, we are by no means fancy, but when it comes to travel and taking those few vacations a year, we do like to spend our hard earned money and treat ourselves. I love traveling. We love traveling and our kids are good travelers and have been since day one. They know how to act, be respectful and appreciate each experience. We do remind them, if they love doing things like this….make sure to do good in school, get a good job, work hard and they too can reward themselves and their families one day.
WHERE WE STAYED
We typically stay on Disney property when we vacation there. We love taking it all in, right down to the Mickey shaped waffles and towel you dry off with. Some of our favorites over the years included Ft. Wilderness Lodge + The Grand Floridian and Fort Wilderness Campground. And we just recently became the hotel & flying family for vacations. We have spent the past 9 years seeing this beautiful country in our RV. Yep, you read that right. Landy is an RV gal and loves it! We would pack up the family truckster and hit the road for 4-6 weeks every summer. So livin’ it up in a nice hotel is a new thing for us. We sold the bus last year though. It was kinda sad, we made some pretty great memories in that bad boy. The days of taking off in the summer for that amount of time is over for a while. The kids are getting bigger and are involved in sports, etc…so that gets in the way of being gone for that amount of time. But, I believe Steve and I will do it again once the kids go off to college. If not before. Kinda diggin' on those airstreams.
Back to my point, this year rooms were booked by the time we knew we would have this chunk of time before the cruise, so we looked into another Hotel and decided on the Four Seasons Orlando. WOW. Let me just say that! It’s stunning! The hotel had sprinkles of Disney through out, but in the most chic way. The property itself is absolute heaven for parents + kids. It has all the luxuries you want and the activities to make the entire family happy. Not to mention the hotel is minutes from all the parks. Staying there includes transportation to and from the parks without stopping at every hotel. And if you’ve ever waited for a Disney bus, you know this is worth every penny. We stayed in Park View room - King size bed, large bathroom and pull out sleeper queen sofa with a view of the pool and fireworks. It was perfect. Beautifully decorated, clean and the staff couldn't have been more accommodating. It was wonderful. At one point we both looked at each and said, we’ll only stay here from now on! It was kinda nice to escape at the end of each day from all the Disney craziness. The kids were in heaven at first sight of the pools and slides and all of us when we saw the lazy river that meanders all throughout the property, and yes, you can float with your cocktail. That is a dream come true! The food was delicious! Not to mention they have one of the top rated restaurants in Orlando, Capa. It sits at the top of the hotel if you are sitting down for dinner by 8:30 p.m. you can see all three firework shows - Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Universal Studios all while sipping a great bottle of wine. See, happy kids means happy parents. We didn't partake, but they also offer a character breakfast with Mickey and friends and a pretty sweet gift shop with all the princess dresses and Mickey ears your little heart's desire.
Bottom line. We loved it and plan on booking our next stay in Orlando at the Four Seasons. It was perfect and we looked forward to coming back each night. As a matter of fact we cut each day a tab bit shorter than planned, just to relax by the pool and enjoy the resort. Seriously, look into it. You won’t be disappointed.
PARKS + RIDES
We had 4 days in Orlando….so, what to do? Like I mentioned before, our kids are getting bigger and while Disney is what we love, they now have become thrill seekers and crave all the roller coasters. We purchased 2 day EXPRESS PASS Universal Studios + Islands Of Adventure tickets. Express pass means you have access to a special line that gets you on the rides faster, kinda like Disney FAST PASS, but not limited to 3 rides per park. I would say that it is a necessity and worth the money. But crazy enough, it wasn’t that busy at all? Not sure what it was, but we weren't complaining. It was nowhere near the normal Spring Break crowd. So in hindsight the extra money for the express was a waste sadly, but you never know.
We also got two Disney World Park Hopper tickets for the other half of our trip. This ticket gives you the flexibility to jump from park to park as much as you’d like in one day. That’s what we like to do, making sure we always end up in Epcot in the evenings. Walking the countries and eating around the world to finish each night is our favorite thing.
Here is a brief breakdown of what we did each day!
- Arrived Orlando
- Checked in Four Seasons
- Lunch at our hotel: PG & P poolside- ahi tuna salad was DELISH
- Hit up Hollywood Studios for a few hours - hit up some rides
- Dinner at Rovella
- Breakfast Hotel Buffet
- Universal Studios
- Dinner Capa Hotel
- Breakfast Room Service
- VIP Tour Disney 7 hours (all 4 parks)
- Lunch: Crystal Palace Magic Kingdom
- Epcot World Showcase: Beigarten- Germany
- Breakfast Buffet
- Universal Studios + Islands of Adventure
- Palm Restaurant
- Met up with friends
- Dinner at the Palm
When it was time to head to the ship, we got picked up in a Carey Limousine and taken to the port. We got there early so that we wouldn't hit the crowd and could just go ahead and get on the ship and explore. I know that Disney as a Magic Express or something, but to me, it isn't so magical. HA! I know it is free and everything, but I would rather just get there when I want to get there.
Our room came with a concierge package that allowed us to get on the ship early and get into our room earlier than most. We got to stay in the Walter Disney Suite. The suite had a master bedroom with its own bathroom and closet. There was a living room that had a pull out bed, a formal dining room that sat eight and had a Murphy bed. The kids room had to twin bunk beds and their own bathroom and closet. I think we calculated that the suite could sleep ten!! So if you were thinking about going with two families or a family with grandparents, I would definitely recommend it! Plus, it comes with that concierge service, so we were able to pick our dining time to be second seating now that the kids are a little older. If you are unfamiliar with the Disney Cruise, they create the schedule so that you can plan when you are seeing show to align with your meal time.
ON BOARD DINING
If you have ever been on a cruise, you know that there is a plethora of food options all of the time! Sandwiches, yogurt, Philly cheesesteak, or anything else you could ever want. There is a really nice, adult-only restaurant called Palo, that you’d need a dinner jacket and no kids to eat! But since we had a dining room in our suite, we were able to eat at that restaurant by having the food brought to our room. What is great about this option is that they bring it to your room course by course, so the food is fresh and hot when you get it! It was a flat rate per person, but we could order as much as we wanted from what was offered. That was a nice meal to have as a family.
Another cool thing about the Disney Cruise is that you travel with your waitstaff. So any restaurant you go to, it is going to be the same people there waiting on you and serving your food! They learn your families allergies, dietary restrictions, what you like, and even what drinks to bring you as soon as you get seated! You get to know them as much as they know you and it is fun to see how great they interact with the kids. When the kids were little, they would do magic tricks and other fun stuff to keep them entertained.
We planned out all of our excursions before we went on the trip. This cruise was a three night, so we were able to go to Atlantis in the Bahamas and to Castaway Cave which is Disney’s island in the Bahamas.
Our first stop was to Atlantis. We decided to get the Aqua Adventure package that gave us access to all of the water slides and rides because we weren't actually going to be staying at the resort. You can rent cabanas, but we didn’t know what beforehand so they were all sold out by the time we got there. Not having a canaba wasn’t a big deal though because we kept moving around the park and there were so many great restaurants to go to. When we got to the different locations, we got off the ship at 9 a.m. and had to be back on by 4:30 p.m. which was the perfect amount of time to explore, but still have time to get back and relax a little before dinner.
When we got to Disney’s Castaway Cay, we were able to book a cabana that was in a great spot! It was spot 16 (if any of you are planning a trip yourself) and it was quiet, calm and had beautiful views. We were near our own private-feeling lagoon and the cabana comes with towels, sunscreen, floats and a button to call a server to get alcoholic drinks and ice cream for the kids, how great is that?? I need one of those buttons wherever I go! There was also snorkeling equipment that came with the cabana and if you don’t get a cabana, you have to rent all of those things separately. There was a restaurant on the beach that you could get food from and a soft serve ice cream machine, I was a great relaxing day of just being on the beach without having to worry about anything. We even got bikes with our cabana so that we could explore the island a little bit while we were there! There was an adult only beach, but if you are going with kids, I’m telling ya, renting a cabana is the way to go! We were isolated enough to have privacy and it had everything we needed, they book up fast though so if you are going on the cruise, look into it as soon as possible!
I could go on and on about how amazing the DIsney Cruise is. There are a ton of people who don’t have kids that still enjoy the atmosphere of the cruise. There are enough areas on the boat where if you didn't have kids and didn't want to see any, you wouldn't. There are opportunities to take pictures with the disney characters and princess if you want to do that! There are a ton of adult only bars at night, dating games and newlywed games. We saw the productions of Frozen and you guys, I felt like I was at a Broadway show, it was out of this world. They have shopping and souvenirs. I’m telling you, it was everything you could have wanted out of a cruise! The staff knew all of our names within hours of being on the ship, and that kid of stuff goes a long way when you are paying for it!
Overall, we felt like we were treated extremely well, our room was perfect and all of the activities offered were incredible. They give you the option to tip the staff that assisted you all at once at the end, that way you don’t feel like you have to carry around cash to tip the staff anytime they assist you.
If I am being honest, our kids are starting to outgrow the Disney Cruise, but if you have kids around their age or younger, or if you just love Disney, I would definitely recommend doing the Disney Cruise. This was out second time on the cruise, the first time we took the Wonder this trip and we took the Dream the last time, both fantastic tips!
I know that was a lot! Spring break trips are so much fun can can be overwhelming at times! I hope I was able to give you a good idea of what the trip looks like and if it would be a good fit for your family or not!