Saturday, November 22, 2014

Disney 2014–The Recap

Now that you are thoroughly schooled on our trip to Disney this year, how about a quick recap and a few tips for anyone wanting to go with a 5 and 1 year old? I included a few money saving tips, general stuff, etc.

Tip #1 – If you can pull off the surprise, do it! Gianna just told me the other night “that was the best surprise of my whole life” when talking about our vacation this year. Totally worth it!

Tip #2 – You really don’t need a double stroller. We toyed around with the idea of renting one but I’m glad we didn’t. Gianna whined a little bit here and there, but we just went at her pace. We let her ride sometimes and either carried Aleesia or let her walk, which worked out fine.

Tip #3 – Bring a waterproof bag with you. It rains a lot in Florida (esp. in the summer) and it was nice not to worry about our things getting wet. We also pack light – essentials only: diapers, wipes, autograph books, pen, camera, and a small board book that I didn’t care if anything happened to it or not. I packed bubbles but they never made their way into the bag somehow – I thought that would have been a fun way to help entertain Aleesia while we waited for Mike and G when they were riding things!

We are big proponents of staying on-property if you can for a few reasons. Convenience. The experience. Convenience. We have always flown to Florida, so not having any concerns over transportation is fabulous and we have been absolutely over the moon pleased with every experience we’ve had at the resorts.

We are also big proponents of utilizing the dining plan, especially if you plan to do character meals. They can be pricey, and sometimes, the food can be far inferior to what you might ACTUALLY want to eat but Doc McStuffins is there so who cares about the food. It’s nice not to have to worry about having money for meals (aside from tips) or snacks because it’s already handled. Disney is generous with portions so we usually just had Aleesia and Gianna share (or Aleesia and Mike or I) since kids under 3 are free/not dining plan eligible.  My biggest tip here is just to try and schedule your meals near the park you want to go to that day so you aren’t traveling all over trying to get to/from the park or the hotel you are eating at!

We still bring some of our own snacks to try and combat Hangry Kid Syndrome. This time, we brought fruit snacks, cereal, and granola bars. 

Tip #4 – Bring your own special souvenirs. The girls love these. Again, it saves a bit of cash from the get go and we didn’t hear too many “I wants” from the biggest girl since she “got” something new every morning! They each got a special souvenir (and picked one for baby sister) too!

FastPass+ was confusing to me at first, but once we got there it all made sense. I was worried that our days would feel super structured trying to keep up with our dining and FastPass reservations, but they really didn’t. As a quick recap the FastPass reservations we made per park were:

  • Hollywood Studios: Star Tours; Toy Story Mania; Disney Jr. Live
  • Magic Kingdom Day 1: Splash Mountain;  Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet; Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Magic Kingdom Day 2: Ariel Meet and Greet; Story Time with Belle; Mine Train
  • Epcot: Sourin’; Test Track; Nemo and Friends

My biggest suggestion, try and get your times as early in the day as possible so you can add on additional FP+ reservations throughout the afternoon and evening. It’s okay if you skip out on a FP you already scheduled – don’t sweat it! This is still a vacation after all, so try and go with the flow some and not follow a strict schedule. Unless you like strict schedules, then by all means, carry on!

Tip #5 - Park hoppers, for our family and for most families with little kids, will be an unnecessary added expense. It is hard to do everything in 1 park during the day, let alone packing up and moving to another park in the same day. If you are worried about feeling rushed, skip the hopper. We have yet to have a time where we were sad that we couldn’t hit up another park in the same day because we were all so tired by the end of the day just from enjoying one park at a time!

We don’t usually go to a park on the day we get there/day we leave. This time was a bit different but we didn’t go anywhere the last day. We “slept in”, swam, lounged, got caught in a giant thunderstorm, gift-shopped, and just took it easy. I highly recommend this wind-down time at the end of your trip – and if you are staying more than 4/5 days, try to add in a non-park day in the middle of the week too! Go to downtown disney, it’s super fun and Mike and I were actually really disappointed we didn’t make it down there this trip.

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2014 was another super successful Disney vacation for the Dixon family and we are already excited to take baby sister when the time comes!

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Is there something else you want to know about our trip? Ask away!!PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_7058010777

List of all 2014 Disney posts:

Friday, November 21, 2014


Somehow, we are just a few short weeks away from meeting baby sister. I don’t know how it happened and I don’t know exactly where the last 36 weeks flew away too, but I know the next 4ish until she arrives are going to go FAST FAST FAST. And so many things to do, per usual.

Her room should be close-ish to finished this weekend, I’m excited for it to all come together.

We need to come up with a “hi big sisters” gift from her to G and A – nothing big or elaborate, but G still talks about what Aleesia “got” her, so we need to do something! I’m thinking some sort of sticker or magnetic doll set for G and not a clue at all for A – maybe crayons/coloring stuff since it could keep her busy while I’m nursing.

We need to arrange the car so that the girls seats fit! (it’s cold, I might be dreading this the most!)

There is still quite a long list of things I need to buy for her (diapers!) and for me (breast pads, pump parts, etc.). And things I need to finish getting ready here (washing clothes, setting up her swing, rock & play…)

We didn’t go through any sort of birth prep this time. I’ve been trying to do some of the exercises we learned in our Bradley class and to get my brain in the right place for this – I’m sure it will all be fine but I was obviously MUCH more prepared for the actual labor part last time than I am this time. I’d like to try and focus on that a bit more. The strange labor dreams I am having are probably a good indication that I should focus more on this, huh? Also - I need some new music to use – any good relaxing suggestions from the blogosphere?

Fit in all of our Christmas shopping and holiday cheer over the next 4 weekends. Our schedule is jam packed which is good and bad. Good because it keeps me busy, I like busy. Bad because it keeps me busy, see list above!

Part of me feels so unprepared for her arrival but part of me knows that she will be fed, diapered, have somewhere to sleep, and be loved x a million so who cares about the rest.

I still feel really good for being really pregnant, but I don’t have time to feel anything other than good ya know? Sleep is hard to come by, my shirts are shrinking, my feet are starting to swell, my boobs touch my stomach which touches my thighs when I sit down which is oddly annoying, but I’m still wearing my wedding ring so I call it success!

This little girl is just, if not more (I can’t believe I am saying this), active than her sisters were in utero – I feel her all.the.time. stretching from one hip to my ribs. Clearly, she is already trying to keep up with her (still very active) sisters. We have an ultrasound next week and I can’t wait to see her in there again. I’m trying not to think about when exactly she will arrive, but I would be silly to say that a small part of me is really worried about missing Christmas with the big girls. Whenever she arrives will be awesome, and I just need to keep repeating that over and over. I don’t get to pick when she comes, after all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Disney 2014–Epcot!

We decided to end our trip with a visit to Epcot. We enjoy the park, and really, so do the girls. You could spend your whole day chasing princesses and other characters around this park, something that most people do not know. We wanted to be able to take our time because we knew we’d all be tired (and possibly cranky) by now. Our prediction was correct.

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We started our morning with “the princess breakfast” in Norway.

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The food here is good, I think. The family style dining is really nice and the eggs and potatoes are seriously YUM! The buffet is more of a continental breakfast with some traditional Norwegian foods (fish, etc.). You get lots of princess time, and a princess parade!, which is why we go!

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Gianna and Mike used a Fast Pass to ride Test Track which they loved. I entertained Aleesia by checking out the “show room” area at the end of the ride and generally just walking around in that area until they were done. We then headed to meet Mickey and friends (can you believe we hadn’t done this yet?!). The line was short, no Fast Pass required.

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And other friends, were there too!

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The girls were Tired by now – and it was hot. We ended up hanging around Innoventions, which Gianna really enjoyed. Aleesia slept!

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We actually skipped our FastPass for Soarin’ and didn’t get to Nemo and Friends (because the little one was sleeping), all of which were okay with us. Gianna had an overtired meltdown somewhere before we ended up in Canada and I still have no idea why. We stumbled upon an awesome character party between Canada and England but we only hit the end of it – there were TONS of unique characters there, such a fun surprise!

We eventually had lunch, visited some of the kidcot stations and visited Mulan, who we had never met before.

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We went around the world and still had time to kill before our dinner reservations so Mike went on Mission Space. Gianna tried to ride it, but she got scared so she waited with me. Fun fact – at the end of the ride is a play area for the kids. I let them run around in there while we waited for Mike, it was perfect!

We had dinner in Italy at Napoli – HIGHLY RECOMMEND! The food was seriously so yum and the atmosphere was welcoming and kid friendly.  After dinner, we headed back to the hotel because again, TIRED!

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I think Epcot is seriously so great, this trip we didn’t get to see as many the characters as we have in past visits, but we met them all other places and didn’t feel like spending our day stuck to a schedule. It was nice just to stroll around and relax a little.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Disney 2014–Magic Kingdom part 2

On our second day at Magic Kingdom we had just as much fun as the first day! Minnie Mouse left the girls each a new shirt to wear for the day as their special gift.

First stop was the Polynesian for breakfast at Kona. This was a non-character breakfast but the food? You guys! The Kona coffee and the Tonga Toast almost made my whole day. It was a nice, quiet, relaxed breakfast before our day started.

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We headed into the park and first stop was Story time with Belle – this was so so fun! Gianna got to be Maurice (shiver, shiver!) and the magic mirror on the wall was so cool! I highly recommend using a fast pass for this so you don’t miss it.

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Mike and Gianna then rode the Mine Train while Aleesia and rehydrated. According to Mike, it’s worth a fast pass but not a 60+ minute wait. Gianna didn’t seem to love it.

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We decided to make our way back down Main Street USA to get Mickey ears (I wish we had bought them the day before, oh well).

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We were selected for a Fast Pass lunch at Be Our Guest. We chose to pre-select our food when we selected our lunch time and it was really easy. The food is much more ‘fancy’ than we normally eat but I was able to put in special requests and the food was made to our satisfaction. The restaurant is such an amazing place – it’s worth a walk around, if you can. I didn’t get any good pictures of the inside, somehow. But take my word for it – if you can get a reservation here, TAKE IT! The grey stuff IS delicious.

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It was raining when we left and headed to Ariel’s grotto (our 3rd and last Fast Pass this day). The line for this was outside, which stunk. And it moved pretty slow when we were there, which were the only downfalls.

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Since it stopped raining by the time we were done, we  checked out Gaston’s pub. Gianna and Mike shared a LeFou’s Brew.

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I can’t even remember what else we did but eventually Aleesia fell asleep and we found a good spot on Main Street to catch the 3pm parade.

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Aleesia eventually woke up and seriously LOVED the Mickey balloons (this guy was so fun hanging out with her for a little while!). WE all goofed around taking selfies.

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I still don’t know what made her cry, but this is a pretty epic picture.

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Mike got me a much-needed Starbucks.

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Finally it was time for the parade, which everyone really enjoyed!

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We added on a Fast Pass to see Tinkerbelle so we headed there next. Aleesia liked looking at the “lost things!”

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We wandered around Adventureland and eventually rode the Magic Carpets.8.14  (140)8.14  (142)

We had also added on a Fast Pass to see Cinderella – Gianna’s favorite princess. She signed Gianna’s ears and you would think they are now encased in gold.

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Rapunzel was there too! Her and Aleesia became fast friends.

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On this day, it was ready to start storming, we were all tired and we headed out of the park early and had dinner at our hotel. We enjoyed a slightly laid back park day and an early night of rest!