Over spring break, we headed to Orlando for what my husband would coin as the “reluctant dad’s trip to Disney”. Yes, my husband is a naysayer when it comes to everything Disney, but I know the value of taking the kids and understand the significance of doing it while they’re young. With my daughter going on 14 and my son a very unimaginative 12, I felt as though the trip was 100% necessary this year. So this will be my first of several pieces on our visit. I will also have pieces on publications besides this blog, which I’ll be sharing on Twitter and Facebook as they come out.
We had an amazing trip, in and out of Disney, but let’s start with what we loved about Disney this visit. Traveling with tweens is slightly, or very, different to traveling with younger kids. They were able to go off on their own at times, when we got tired, as old people do, and we were able to ride certain rides altogether which was a treat. No more height requirements to follow, no need to stop for constant snacking. The kids have arrived! And Disney, as special as it has always been, was mighty special this year.
Heading to Disney soon? Here is my must list of top ten things not to miss with tweens in tow:
- While I’m a huge fan of the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, TCM’s look back at classic movies, my kids LOVE the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. It’s an indoor roller coaster that features a high-speed launch of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds three inversions and rock-concert lighting.
- I’m a huge Frozen fan, so I wanted to hit all the sing-alongs and be Frozen happy all day, but my kids not so much. However, we did all hit the Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot, an easy water boat ride that takes you the Norwegian castle right after the story ended. It was magical, we all loved it.
- All four of us greatly enjoyed Toy Story Mania, also at Hollywood Studios, a 4D shootin’ game starring the Disney•Pixar Toy Story. Even my cynical husband really enjoyed this one, and I have the photo evidence to prove it.
- I’ve always been a fan of Epcot’s Soarin’, and we were all eager to get back on the ride. But now it’s even better – they’ve added destinations to a trip around the world and a subtle scent that makes you feel you’re truly in these places. This was another ride that we all enjoyed.
- The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train debuted last year at Magic Kingdom, and I was fortunate enough to be able to ride this one with the kids (I get vertigo on fast rides). The ride is themed to the Walt Disney’s 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first traditional-animated feature film, and it really, really rocked.
- SHOWS. I love Disney’s shows. The performers…the songs…the staging. While I’ve seen Beauty and the Beast in various stage productions, and I’m psyched to see the upcoming film, I was completely swept into the romantic fairy tale of the Beast who could only be saved by love in Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage….and so were my kids, and husband.
- Disney really knows how to put a light show on, and Once Upon a Time in Magic Kingdom is no exception. Cinderella Castle comes to live with projections of beloved Disney scenes and characters and it’s very, very impressive.
- Disney’s FastPass+ service lets you reserve access to select attractions, entertainment and more. With the purchase of a ticket, you can start making selections as early as 30 days before you arrive, or up to 60 days before check-in when you have a Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservation. It made all the difference in the world not to wait in long lines.
- Heading to Disney Springs at night for dinner is a great way to break up the day. It used to be called Downtown Disney. We were spoiled with a fantastic, delicious dinner at Homecoming Kitchen that I can’t recommend more highly. Chef Art Smith brought southern food to Disney, which are my own roots. The biscuits, deviled eggs and fried chicken with waffles were simply divine.
- Staying at Reunion Resort really made our visit. We had a car so were able to drive to Disney, just about 20 minutes away, and it was kind of nice to go the serenity and peace of this resort. We went swimming, floated down the lazy river and just vegetated until we were busy again. Each child had their own room and best of all, I was pampered in the hotel’s spa on our last day.
Stay turned for further reviews here and elsewhere.
Disclosure: My visit was sponsored by Visit Orlando and we were guests of Walt Disney World to facilitate this piece and others. All opinions are my own, per usual.