Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Disney Recap Part 1– Surprise, Art of Animation & Magic Bands

So as I eluded to in my first vacation recap post, Gianna didn’t know where we were headed for the rest of our August vacation. We jumped in the car early in the morning, grabbed some donuts for the road and after just a little while heard from the back seat “where’s the beach? When will we be there?”

Mike and I hadn’t really thought through when we would tell her but it turns out, we didn’t have to worry about it – we passed under that awesome Welcome to Disney sign and she figured it out. My dang phone didn’t record the video right but it was a fairly epic parenting moment.

Gianna kept saying “wait, this isn’t the beach. Or is it a Disney Beach?” Once she realized that we were going to Disney World she told Aleesia “SISSY! YOU GET TO MEET MINNIE AND I GET TO MEET ELSA!” When we pulled into the resort parking lot she couldn’t stop smiling. It was priceless and something that I know we won’t forget.

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The Art of Animation is a really cool, really Disney resort. We did the online check-in and requested an early check-in (we were there before 10am). Our magic bands worked as soon as we got there, of course.

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Our room was ready before we even pulled our car up to unload the luggage. So we unloaded our stuff and while Mike returned the rental car we let the girls explore the splash pad (so fun!) before we needed to head out to the park.

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The whole resort is themed, we stayed in the Little Mermaid rooms. These are the furthest from the main pool, food, resort area but the walk wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it might be. You go through the Lion King area and Aleesia loved to roar at the lions! We had a parking lot view and our room was really quiet. I would imagine if you had a pool view room it may be a bit louder. We were also able to see the Hollywood Studios Frozen Summer fireworks from the resort, so that was a fun feature! The Little Mermaid area has it’s own pool (we never got a chance to use it, though) which is great. The girls LOVED the themed room – I mean, LOVED!

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(The girls got prizes again this time (their Minnie night gowns were from the night before) to help combat the “I wants” – Gianna remembered this from last time and was so happy to have discovered the princess dresses that Elsa left for her and Ariel left for Aleesia. She was so excited!)

The splash pad and main pool are wonderful. There is a jogging path available as well, which I thought was nice. The food at the resort was really good and there was a wide variety of snack and meal options that we all enjoyed.

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We did not have any issues with transportation (we never have, though) and again, our room was great. If you stay in the Little Mermaid area just be prepared to walk for an extra 10 minutes when you get back from the parks. The other resort areas are much closer.

Now for a little MagicBand recap:

  • The girls did not mind wearing them at all. Mine fell off from time-to-time for some reason, though. Aleesia’s did not do anything except unlock our resort door – but she enjoyed wearing her “pretty”!

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  • I wish we had known (or remembered) as soon as we checked in that you need to establish (and know!) a pin number to purchase anything using your band. This goes for using the dining plan or purchasing something from a gift shop. So I am reminding you, ask about your pin number when you check in!
  • I found the entry into the park a bit more time consuming over using the key cards, but honestly it wasn’t a huge deal or delay. Unless your fingerprint doesn’t capture in the system and you have to have a Cast Member assist you almost every time like I did!
  • All of our fast passes worked perfectly and I was SO THANKFUL for this feature. More on this later related to each park.
  • All of your photopass pictures are also loaded using your band. The one-stop-shopping feature is great.
  • It’s fun to get the Mickey to light up!

Next up are park and dining reviews and all about our experience with a 5 and 1 year old!

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