Discovering the Disney magic at Magic Kingdom

It’s a good thing that I like eating my own words, because I do it all the time – especially now that I’m a parent!  We’d been planning our trip to Orlando for months and the first question asked was always “Are you going to Disney World?” which was always answered with a mildly horrified “are you kidding?  It would be a gong-show with a 23 month old and a 3.75 year old!  No way!”.  My oldest has been asking to go on a regular basis since around this time last year when her cousins, and then a few months later her best friend, went but we always said that Rowan was too little to enjoy it so we’d wait until next year.  Then one day I decided to send an email to Walt Disney World’s media representatives to see if I could get a media pass for a day and to my absolute shock, they agreed.  We were going to the Magic Kingdom! 

We checked out a crowd calendar and decided to visit the Magic Kingdom on the Friday of our trip. Because it was the week of Valentine’s Day, we were going to be visiting during their “True Love” week so there would be some extra-special things happening around the park.  I tried with all my might to get us there in time for the opening show but I forgot about the ferry ride (or monorail) that takes you from the parking lot to the actual Magic Kingdom – it’s been a long time since I’ve been last – so we missed it by a few minutes.  No one cared but me; Ashlyn was actually vibrating with excitement on the ferry ride!

We got through the gates and made our way to Guest Services to get the girls their “1st Visit” pins.  I really recommend doing this because almost all of the characters commented on it; Tinker Bell talked about her first visit to the mainland, and Rapunzel asked if it was their first time out of their tower!  Meeting Mickey and Minnie was our first stop and while Rowan was a little shy to meet them both girls loved it.  We actually spent quite a bit of our day in various lines to meet the Disney character (another thing I swore I wouldn’t do!) because Ashlyn desperately wanted to and it was a day that was all about the girls.  How could I say no to such obvious joy?

Any skepticism that I had about the magic of Disney completely disappeared almost as soon as we walked through the gates. It sounds cliche but it’s true – there is magic in the air! Ashlyn was walking on air after dancing with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel and Rowan charmed Prince Charming, Prince Philip and particularly Flynn Rider.  Watching Ashlyn and Rowan meet Tinker Bell was like seeing them reunited with an old friend!

My parents came along for the experience and all four of us adults commented over and over again about how wonderful each of the characters were. Not once did we ever feel rushed, there was always a friendly smile and hug,  and lots of personalized conversation for the girls. I’ve been asked a few times if I’d recommend Magic Kingdom for a toddler and my answer is a resounding “Yes!”; thanks to big sister, Rowan knows all of the princesses and fairies but even Ashlyn would have loved it at the same age because she knew all of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crew and there are lots of rides and attractions that the whole family (babies included) can enjoy together!

The high point for Ashlyn was the last attraction that we did that day, Enchanted Tales with Belle. We didn’t really know what exactly the attraction was, so we were pleasantly surprised to find out that any children that wanted to would be given parts to act out the story of Belle and the Beast! Ashlyn was chosen to be Chip and as you can see, she was beyond enchanted with Belle:

We thought that the girls would be done by late afternoon so imagine our surprise when we ended up spending a solid 12 hours at Magic Kingdom!  I have a few tips for visiting Walt Disney World that I’d like to pass along from our experience:

  • use the FASTPASS system whenever you can! Not all rides have a FASTPASS available but we made good use of it for The Barnstormer (awesome roller coaster for little ones) and Ariel’s Under the Sea (if you’re a fan of The Little Mermaid do not miss this ride).
  • bring water bottles and snacks; there is a lot of ground to cover and lines to wait in and everyone will get hungry and thirsty!
  • if you have young (3 and under) kids, bring a stroller BUT don’t feel like you have to bring one if your little one isn’t usually a stroller kid.  There are strollers to rent at all Walt Disney World parks for a very reasonable rate and before we went we considered renting a double for both girls but we decided to wait and see how things went with our UppaBaby G-LUXE.  As it turned out, the girls traded off riding in the stroller and walking or getting a piggyback ride from Daddy/Mommy/Grandpa.
  • go with the flow when it comes to meals; while we usually try to insist on Ashlyn eating a decent meal, her lunch at Magic Kingdom was popcorn while waiting in line and a delicious triple chocolate cupcake at the Be Our Guest restaurant- which we highly recommend! She ate the healthy snacks that we brought and it will be a memory that we’ll all talk about for years.
  • don’t expect a nap! Everyone told me that Rowan would just pass out in her stroller but my little monkey didn’t so much as take a cat nap for the entire 12 hours that we were there!  There was so much excitement going on that she was wide awake and happy the whole day. She did pass out soundly on the ride home, which brings me to my next tip:
  • BRING PJS! Leave them in your car, but even if you don’t expect to stay the whole day your kids may surprise you and it’s nice to have the option to get everyone ready for bed before you leave the park.

We were all totally won over by the magic of Magic Kingdom.  I’m trying to convince a friend to take her kids this fall and we’re already talking about our next trip to see Mickey, the princesses and all of their friends – next time for more than just one day!

Disclaimer: I was provided with two one-day complimentary park-hopper theme park tickets to facilitate my review.  The opinions on my blog are always my own!

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