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The Role Mommy 411 on Disney

DSC00005.JPGI've just returned from a whirlwind Orlando vacation that I had not planned on experiencing this year except when I received a golden ticket from Disney to attend the red carpet premiere of the American Idol Experience, I couldn't resist. While I attended that incredible event solo, as any guilty mom would attest, I couldn't head to Disney without my family. And so, I flew them all down for five days of fun in the sun.

Let me rephrase that by saying it was actually five days of running, waiting, eating junk and waiting while my kids and husband went on dozens of rides at three different theme parks. In a total of five days, we hit Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, Sea World and Gatorland. Are you as exhausted as I am just reading this list? Well think about living it. Since I like to take things in all at once, I'm going to share with you the highlights of our vacation.

So, without further ado, here's the 411 on Disney...more theme parks to follow in the coming days.

Disney's Magic Kingdom
Now that my kids are past pre-school age, we found this vacation to be the most enjoyable for them. Operative word is THEM. You see, what I love about Disney are the shows - Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, the parades, and of course Disney's newest attraction, The American Idol Experience, where you get to play the role of judge and vote for one lucky park-goer to gain the ultimate fast pass and cut to the front of the line at any American Idol attraction. While I did convince my family to attend that show, we missed all the others. Now I'm sure you're wondering - how could that happen. Simple. Roller coasters.

Day 1 - Magic Kingdom
In Magic Kingdom alone, my kids and husband went on two roller coasters and a water ride several times. We luckily were in possession of an ultimate fast pass which enabled them to instantly join the fast pass line on their favorite rides and so, they proceeded to hop on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain at least four times. We also tried out the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland, and we hit the Monster's Inc. Laugh Factory too - all were very enjoyable - except the kids would have preferred taking the time we spent in the Laugh Factory to hop on Space Mountain yet another time.

There were great parades - which my kids missed but my mom and I watched - featuring stilt walkers, an international twirling competition and the usual Princess Parade fanfare. So while my husband and kids were losing their lunch on the rides, we sat and watched the parades while nibbling on chocolate caramel corn from one of the many candy shops located near the entrance of Magic Kingdom.

This time around we actually missed It's A Small World and some of the other classic rides, but my kids were perfectly content going on roller coasters over and over again.

Day 2...Three Parks in One Day
We kicked off a marathon day with breakfast at Perkins where a balloon guy made umbrellas for my daughter and niece and a sword for my son. And after we filled up on eggs and pancakes, we hit Disney's Hollywood Studios. As soon as we arrived, my husband and son wanted to hit Tower of Terror (the girls were too scared to try the ride). And so, we grabbed our fast passes and my family disappeared...until I received a call from my husband that my son had chickened out and I needed to retrieve him as soon as possilbe. Of course, that didn't stop my hubby. He and my brother walked back up the hill to the ride and we waited outside Toluca Turkey Legs for at least 45 minutes waiting for them to return from the ride.

Next up was the Rock n' Rollercoaster featuring music by Aerosmith. Again, the girls were too afraid of that one since it went upside down, but my son faced his fears and went on that ride twice! For a kid who last year at this time was afraid to go on the kiddy coaster at Rye Playland, he's totally come a long way...I'm so proud.

At this point, I was getting annoyed. The Beauty & The Beast show was right across the street but nobody wanted to see it. All they wanted to do was go on rides and so I told them it was time we parted ways. My parents and I took off to the Toy Story attraction while the others hung around the roller coaster for another hour.

The Toy Story ride gets a huge thumbs up from me. But let me caution you right now. If you hit Hollywood Studios in the morning, then the first thing you should do is head to Toy Story and grab a fast pass. Otherwise, they close the fast passes pretty early in the day and if you don't get one, you're going to spend two hours waiting in line to get on the ride. And don't get me wrong - the ride is really fun - you get to play a shooting game against your partner and they reveal the winner at the end of the ride. It's not worth waiting two hours for but if you get your fast pass, you will not be disappointed.

Once we reunited with our family and inhaled some Turkey legs and taco salad, we all hit the American Idol Experience where we got to vote for a woman who was spending her first time in Disney celebrating her birthday with her mom and aunt (what a cool present). While she beat out two other contestants during our show, I don't know how she fared in the finale - you see, there are several shows throughout the day and they culminate in a finale show where one of the finalists from the day gets the chance to win that Ultimate Audition fast pass. Either way, it was a fun experience and once it was over, it was time to hit another theme park.

Getting Soaked in Animal Kingdom
We raced over to Animal Kingdom with only 2 hours to spare - the park closes at dusk - I guess the animals do need to get their rest. So with our handy dandy Disney brochure, we mapped out exactly where we wanted to go. We had already been on Safari during a previous trip and had seen the shows as well (although I would have loved to have seen Finding Nemo again). So my husband and kids trudged on with one mission in mind - to hit some roller coasters and water rides. The first ride they went on was Kali River Rapids - a must for anyone visiting Animal Kingdom - just make sure you bring towels because you will get soaked. Next up was the latest roller coaster attraction, Everest. All three kids bowed out of that one but my husband and brother decided to hit the ride and as we waited for them to careen down a steep hill, their roller coaster was the one that got stuck in a tunnel. Luckily, it was a minor setback and three minutes later they came racing down the hill in one piece. After that, we checked our watches and realized, we had to go - it was time to hit Epcot!

Off to the Future...Epcot
We arrived in Epcot at around 7:30 pm and hadn't made any dinner reservations - big mistake on that front. But that was okay - we weren't really hungry yet and we had two rides we were determined to hit - Soarin and Test Track. While the lines were quite long on both - we had our trusty fast pass card and got the chance to experience these incredible rides. If you visit Disney, then you must hit Soarin'. A friend of mine told me how amazing it was and she was absolutely right. Hands down, Soarin' is one of the best new rides at Disney. Next up, my husband and kids hit Test Track - a ride that puts you in the drivers seat of a race car and you feel like you're actually racing around a track Nascar style. That ride got a huge thumbs up from the crowd as well - in fact, my hubby says he liked that one better than Soarin' but that's because he loves fast rides.

So my assessment this year of Disney and their rides is simple. In order of favorites, here's the breakdown...

THE KIDS FAVORITE RIDES
Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Toy Story (Hollywood Studios)
Rockin' Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
Test Track (Epcot)
Soarin' (Epcot)
Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)
Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom)

MY HUSBAND'S FAVORITE RIDES
Test Track (Epcot)
Soarin' (Epcot)
Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
Rock n' Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
Everest (Animal Kingdom)
Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

MY FAVORITE RIDES & SHOWS
Soarin' (Epcot)
American Idol Experience (Hollywood Studios)
Toy Story (Hollywood Studios)
Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom)
Laugh Factory (Magic Kingdom)
Finding Nemo (Animal Kingdom)
High School Musical, Senior Year (Hollywood Studios)

So if you're planning a trip to Disney, feel free to use my picks as a guide for each member of your family. And if you want more advice from 16 moms in the know, just visit the Disney Moms Panel at www.disneyworldmoms.com - they have the inside track on everything!

Posted in: Blog, Role Mommy Recommends on 02/22/2009

Comments

  • Glad to hear you had a great time in Orlando. The spring is usually a good time to be in the city.

  • Sounds like you guys had a FABULOUS time; your kids sure did! Glad you got to experience it.

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