(Many of these are Magic Kingdom Based so if anyone has any tips about other parks, feel free to include them in the comments!)
* Arriving as close to possible to "Rope Drop" at the park. There is a special kind of excitement that cannot be duplicated at this point in the day at Disney. Not to mention, you can hop on over to rides you most want to ride and catch them before EVERYONE else. At this time of year, rope drop is usually around 8am or 9am but check this Disney Site for exact information and times. (Oh, and grab a Times Guide when you pick up a map at the front of the park. This Times Guide will list show times and give helpful info as to where and when you can find certain characters!)
* Getting Lucy her first pair of mouse ears! Right in the Magic Kingdom Town Square, there is a little shop called The Chapeau Hat Shoppe (right next to the candy shop--smells divine!) where you can purchase the standard mouse ears and have them embroidered or you can even design your own mouse ears! We chose to have the standard black mouse ears (in the infant size--because they are generously sized!) and had the traditional script font of her name. This cost about $15.00 total for the hat and the embroidery at the time when we went earlier this month. I considered it my own souvenir because I was more excited about it than Lucy was--but she ended up loving them and still wants to wear them!
* I know I mentioned this yesterday but taking some time out to sit in the shade and share a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar. This was one of the things that Lance remembered from his childhood (not me, I was allergic to dairy!) and we just had to do with Lucy. She loved it as much as we did and it was sweet and simple.(well simple.. except that we spent almost $6.00 on Ice Cream-- but hey, it's vacation, right?! One treat like that a day is to be expected, I guess! And it was worth it!) I almost enjoyed this trip more than any other because we HAD to take it slow and just enjoy every little moment.
* The Fireworks Show When we first arrived and realized the fireworks weren't until 10PM, we thought the kids would never last that long.. but they did (thanks to a hefty nap) and once the fireworks began, everyone forgot how tired they were. I have heard several people say that if you can get there early-- the tables at Casey's Hot Dogs on Main Street are a great place to watch the fireworks show. They take down the umbrellas and supposedly the view is fantastic. I don't know for sure because we were late getting there but try it and let me know!
* Riding the Train around the park in the hottest part of the day. The train lets off in Frontierland (right near Splash Mountain!) and Main Street, USA and it was a terrific way to rest and cool off for a little bit. It's kind of a good break for mom and dad since the kids have so much to look at.
* Take the Pictures you want to take! This may seem obvious, but I kept my camera very handy and not the in the bottom of the bag so that I didn't miss anything.
* Try the Town Square Theatre on Main Street for Mickey or the Princesses but book a Character Meal for the one you "must" see.
We got a fast pass for Mickey while we waited to see Cinderella. Although, I will say this, we did not see Minnie Mouse. We asked several cast members when she would be there with them and they all kind of knowingly smiled and said "Hmmm.. we NEVER know when she will show up!" (So coy!) Of all the different times I heard how the "cast members are there to help and make your day perfect" this surprised me. So at one point, the man out front said that Minnie was in there with Mickey so we went in and apparently he was misinformed. Clearly Minnie is in the CIA. We didn't book a character meal but Lucy did not seem to miss Minnie once we saw a statue of her. Ha! Love that kid.
* Call the Front Desk and ask if Mousekeeping can clean your room in the morning before lunch time on days you will be going out to the park and returning after lunch. I did not do this and I wish I had. We returned back to our room both days to put Lucy down only to discover that housekeeping was just about to clean our room. we had to decline the service and just request clean towels. Not such a big deal, but I will ask in advance next time. I'm sure they will work with guests on this.
Well, I could go on and on about EVERYTHING that was my favorite but I will stop there and just say, enjoy every second of it! Remember your kids will be kids and don't expect them to act like adults. If YOU don't feel like standing in line in the heat for 35 minutes... don't expect them to do it without a small amount of possibly uncharacteristic whining. :) I can't tell you how disappointing it was to hear some smarmy Dad or Mom (not Lucy's of course.. most of the time. Ha!) make some ill-tempered comment about how much "fun" they weren't having. AND, I saw one Mother riding the Tea Cups with her 5 year old daughter while TALKING ON HER CELL PHONE!!!!! I almost said, "Hey! Hang up your phone and take a mental photograph of this moment! Soon she'll be 21 and gone!!!" Well, Not really. Okay. Whew, Soapbox over. Clearly that struck a cord with me.
And Now, for the Link Love!!! These are helpful blogs, articles and links that helped us plan!!!
If you have any others, please share them!!
1. The Mom's Panel Advice (Great tool on the Disney Website!) Ask them anything, but first search to see if someone already has! I certainly wore out this website!
2. MouseSavers Subscribe to their email updates!
3. UnderCover Tourist (For ticket Deals!)
4. Traveling with Little Ones (From the Disney Parks Website)
6. Check out this Disney Junior Site for Printable Coloring Sheets to get your kiddos excited on the way there!!
7. The Couponing to Disney Blog's Disney Training Articles helped me a lot as well!
8. Affording The Mouse
9. DIS Unplugged Disney Blog
10. Chip and Co (I didn't utilize this one as much but perhaps I could have.)
My Little Hawaiian Mousketeer
Fun with Dad on the Carousel!