We ventured on our 1st vacation with another family…ever.  We picked a great place to go and a great family to go with.  These were the professional Disney go-ers. You know the type, they know all the ins & outs – the best place to stay, the best rides for kids our age, the best way to avoid the lines – while we were one step behind most of the vacation, we added in the best restaurants and shows to see!  As Tom said, “You need to try out all the rides so you can blog about it!”  So as not to waste your time & $ when in Disney, here are some valuable tips:

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort – A nice resort with great pricing where you can be in the mecca of Disney but also get away from it for a while and hide out at the Cabana Grill to feel as if you’re in Miami for a bit…

A walk to the Boardwalk  – where we had family bonding on our 4-person Surrey bicycle and motorboats to rent

Boat Launch to Epcot & Hollywood Studios (I’m old school so I kept calling it MGM studios!)

Swan Paddle Boats just off the beach – so cute!

Access to “Magic Hours” which was a life saver during this very busy time of the year.  **warning – to me, this was like running the marathon without training! ( 7-8am, 10-12m or 12-3am  Needless to say we passed on the 12-3am!)

Kimono restaurant – good sushi and even better Karaoke for our 11 year olds to get up and sing!

BlueZoo Restaurant – good food for all, fun ambiance

 

Epcot Must Sees – We got all of these in during magic hours, without them the fast passes were gone by 11am and the wait times were 2+hours on average!

Soarin’ – crazy fun (nauseating/scary if heights are in issue – as they are for me) ride were you feel like flying.  I had my eyes closed half the time while my eight year old daughter was basically trying to jump off….

Norwegian Boat Ride (sans movie)

Fireworks  – sitting at a café table with cappocino, chocolate crepe watching the fireworks cheoographed to classical music – (my favorite, although not a ride!)

Test Track – for the adventuresome – not my family.  But those with the need for speed love this one!

 

Magic Kingdom –

Cinderella’s Castle – really…Stop and stare.  So pretty.

 Splash Mountain – we all loved it.  Our family favorite!  Cute, sweet boat ride, then a fun log flume drop to kick it up a notch!

 Jungle Cruise – much tamer than the others, but our guide packed on the silliness, which our kids ate up!

 Peter Pan – So great to be immersed in the world and to fly through it.

 Pirates of the Caribbean – I felt like I was 12 again, but we almost lost my 8 year old who did not appreciate the dark…or the dark humor

 It’s a Small World – a classic.  A must.  I just want to put one of those dolls right in my pocket

 In serious need of a rewrite?  Bear Jamboree – Seriously, bears singing about “blood on the pillow”, making sexual innuendos, and showcasing stupidity and overweight bears?  I know it’s been around forever but that doesn’t make it a classic!

 Fireworks – I didn’t have a chance to get closer to the castle, but the fireworks over Magic Kingdom (as seen from Narcoosee’s) are so good that kids are spoiled forever and all other fireworks shows fail in comparison

Hollywood Studios

 Toy Story – A favorite for the younger set.  One of the kids couldn’t get enough and between the fast passes and magic hours I think he went on it 5 or 6 times in 3 days!  High score?  101,000 points!

 American Idol Experience – as close as it gets to being immersed in the real experience

 Sci Fi Diner – What can I say, we love a good food experience!  Pretending to be outside, with a dark blue sky, twinkling stars, eating in convertible cars with headlights that light up, watching silly old sci fi movies and eating burgers, shakes and fries!

 Monster’s Inc Laugh Factory – another underground favorite – we loved the interactivity (surprise, surprise!)  where all of us in the audience were featured as part of the personalized animated show.  (“Want to see something cute?  [pause] A baby!”)

 Muppet Vision 3D – Greg and my personal favorite (& Jim Henson’s last completed project) Sooo funny and we love the 4D smells waffed in, water spirted on you, puppets appearing in the theater….

Let me know if I missed any of your favorites!

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