I feel like it’s been forever since I wrote a post in real time. After our big announcement post a couple of weeks ago, life got pretty crazy at work. I tried to catch up on pregnancy posts, but didn’t have time for much else. Thankfully we survived our largest event of the season and schedules have returned to somewhat normal (for the most part). I’m hoping to blog a little more regularly on here now, especially since I’m not trying to hide a larger-than-life secret anymore. I still have a few more pregnancy related posts I need to publish, but I’m hoping not to turn this into a 100% pregnancy blog (no promises, though!).
After working back-to-back weekends since January, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to take a mini-vacay at Walt Disney World with my family this weekend.
My mom started planning this trip months ago. Walt Disney World has a deal for Florida residents every January – early June where they offer a special 3-day park ticket for $139 (considering Magic Kingdom is currently $105 for a day pass – that’s a steal) it’s only an additional $20 to upgrade to a 4-day ticket. My parents and I have an annual pass, but my sister, brother, and sister-in-law do not. Since they all decided to take advantage of the Florida resident deal this year, my parents booked us a cabin at Fort Wilderness and made a vacation out of it.
When I was a kid, we used to stay at Fort Wilderness all the time. As far as staying on Disney property goes, it was dirt cheap to bring our pop-up camper and reserve a campsite for the weekend. Plus, we had aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighborhood friends that would usually join us. I have so many wonderful memories of riding our bikes around Fort Wilderness, roasting marshmallows at the nightly sing-along campfires, and spending our days at River Country. Fort Wilderness was basically Walt Disney World’s hidden treasure.
Unfortunately our pop-up camper bit the dust more than a few years ago (RIP!), but my mom recently discovered the cabins at Fort Wilderness are reasonably priced. Not only that, they’re also able to accommodate a few more adults than regular hotel rooms (up to 6!) and come with a full kitchen. Sold! It was the perfect getaway for mini-vacay.
I arrived Friday and joined my parents at Magic Kingdom for a day of we-haven’t-done-that-in-a-while adventures.
You have to be creative when you’re not able to ride any of the thrill rides. We sat through the Carousel of Progress, The Tiki Room, The Hall of Presidents, etc. (at least all of our adventures involved a seat, air conditioning, and didn’t have a wait). My favorite moment of the day was at the Monsters Inc Laugh Factory when the monster on the screen had the camera pointed on the guy next to my dad and was trying to get him to get up and dance. He made the comment, “You better be careful, you don’t want to end up on the naughty list – look who you’re sitting next to!” Then the camera panned to my dad! I about died laughing!
We met my brother and sister-in-law for dinner at another childhood favorite – Whispering Canyon Café at Wilderness Lodge. It’s good to know they still serve way too much delicious food, family style, and they still have pony races for the kids (we were too big – darn!).
I’m from a family of early birds. We were all wide awake by 7:00am the next morning and done with breakfast (biscuits and gravy courtesy of Dad) by 8. We had a little time to kill before my sister was set to arrive with Owen, so Ben, Ashley, and I did a little exploring. I heard rumors that even though River Country had closed over a decade ago, its remains were still very visible from the back portion of Fort Wilderness.
Just as I have fond memories of Fort Wilderness as a kid, I can’t help but smile thinking of River Country. It was Walt Disney World’s first water park, set on the edge of Bay Lake. As far as Disney is concern, it was small and a little out of the way, but back in the 90s it was the best place to be. This was before Walt Disney World started welcoming SUPER crowds on a daily basis and standing in line for rides took mere minutes, maybe even seconds. It was the perfect park to hang out with cousins and friends, and I remember conquering a lot of fears on their various water slides. Hey, it took guts to go down the tube ride for the first time by myself.
Unfortunately, the park had a lot of problems. I mean, you build a park on top of a lake in Florida, what do you expect? The rumors state it was plagued with concerns of bacteria in the water. It closed in 2001 and Disney discovered it was cheaper to abandon it, rather than demolish it. There are some pretty epic sites out there that have photos of the decay (try this one or this one or just search the #AbandonedDisney hashtag on Instagram).
Anyway, I wanted to see the decay in person and it wasn’t hard to get to. We passed the original entrance to River Country (<3), Mickey’s BBQ pavilion, and there it was – not really hidden at all. Just a large, ugly green fence that was attempting to block the skeleton of River Country. We were easily able to climb on top of the rocks and get a further peek of it all.
So sad. RIP River Country! You are dearly missed!
We headed back to the cabin just as my sister was arriving. We had plans to hang out at Epcot for the day – Owen’s first visit to Epcot!
The day was all about Owen, but would you really expect anything less? The Flower & Garden Festival was happening, so the crowds were a little more intense (okay, a lot more intense) than we were expecting. However, fun times were had by all.
We had dinner at my favorite place in Epcot (Via Napoli) and then called it an early night. Walking around the parks in the sun is exhausting!
The next morning we checked out of the cabin, then headed back to Magic Kingdom for our last day of fun.
Magic Kingdom really is the best park for a baby/toddler. Owen was able to enjoy so many rides, including the carousel, Pirates of the Caribbean, People Mover, and Winnie the Pooh.
We just hung back while everyone else was riding Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Who needs thrill rides? Not us!
It was the perfect day to end the weekend on.
Now it’s back to the real world. 🙂