September 2017

2nd Birthday Celebrations at Walt Disney World

by Meghann on September 27, 2017

Over the weekend we had the honor of celebrating a very special almost two-year old’s birthday at Walt Disney World.

First of all, I still can’t believe Annalynn will be TWO on Sunday. When did my baby get so big?!?! They say it goes fast, but you truly don’t understand just how fast it goes until you are in it.

Since September is traditionally a “slower” month at Walt Disney World, we were able to take advantage of a few special offers and turned our Disney celebration into an overnight stay without going too overboard on budget. I was able to book a hotel room at the All Star Movies Resort for under $100 thanks to an enchanted Florida resident special AND, for the first time since I’ve been an Annual Passholder, Walt Disney World was offering a “Bring-A-Friend” special for AP holders for the month of September. The special is good for a one-day park hopper pass for $79!! The fine print stipulates you have to purchase the ticket the day of us, the AP holder must be present at time of purchase, and you can only purchase up to 6 tickets, but that’s still a great deal for Disney! Fingers-crossed the trial run for the “bring-a-friend” special is a success and they start incorporating more deals like that! I also packed our lunch for Friday and we ate off-property for dinner Friday night. Thankfully, Annalynn is still free until her 3rd birthday, so we also saved some money there.

We left Tampa around 7:00am on Friday morning and made great timing getting to Hollywood Studios right as they opened at 9.

I received a lot of comments on both mine and Annalynn’s outfits on Instagram. Annalynn’s dress was an Etsy purchase (the shop is Grace & Lucille -> highly recommend!!) and my skirt is my new go-to Disney favorite (I’ve worn it the last three trips!), it’s a Lularoe Lola skirt I bought back in April from my friend Brie’s shop.

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about Hollywood Studios and my feelings on the park still stand in its current state. However; Annalynn has become OBSESSED with Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First recently, so I wanted to take her back to the park to meet her new favorite characters and see the Disney Junior show one more time.

We were the first ones in line for Doc McStuffins and the great thing about being first is we had full access to the play-set before Doc arrived. Annalynn enjoyed dancing and singing along to her favorite Doc songs while we waited in the set.

We watched Sofia walk by as we were waiting for Doc and Annalynn got so excited. She said “Hi ‘Fia” and “Bye ‘Fia” and was determined to follow her to her set. I got excited, too, because she was so excited and I thought Annalynn would instantly run to Doc when she appeared. Nope. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she was excited to see Doc at first, but then started to panic when Doc got closer. Derek picked her up and she seemed to be happier saying Hi to Doc from daddy’s hip.

Annalynn showed Doc her doll and gave Doc a high five. I let Doc know that we’re huge fans of her work and she’s one of Annalynn’s favorites.

We headed to Sofia next, but the line was pretty long at this point. Annalynn seemed to be happy admiring her from afar, so we stood outside the ropes and Annalynn said “hi” and ”bye” from there. Annalynn was happy as a clam from this distance, so I would call it a successful venture with Sofia. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any photos of the moment.

We grabbed some coffee and then saw the Disney Junior. Annalynn saw the show during our last visit, but she wasn’t familiar with half the shows at the time so It fell flat. Now that she’s a huge fan of Sofia and Doc, she didn’t miss a beat. She danced, she clapped, and her eyes remained glued to the stage for the full 20 or so minute show.

We had one last mission at Hollywood Studios – to meet Mickey and Minnie. I was hoping the line would be short to meet the pair, but it was nearing 30 minutes at 11:00am. 30 minutes is definitely our max wait time for anything at Disney. I grabbed Annalynn’s lunch from the stroller and figured she could eat while we waited. I had packed half of a turkey and cheese sandwich that morning, and she devoured thing while we waiting. I’m not sure she’s ever ate an entire half sandwich like that, so I was impressed.

She also had some fruit snacks and her water. I had packed a Ziploc bag FULL of graham crackers, fruit snacks, apple pouches, cheerios, chips, and other various items to munch on over our two day trip. Plus, some grapes, sandwiches, and cheese sticks we kept in the cooler. I thought the snacks would last over our planned two-day trip, but she ended up eating most of the snacks the first day. So, lesson learned, if you think you’ve packed enough snacks for a toddler – pack more. Always pack more!

We met Minnie first and Annalynn blew kisses and gave high-fives (as long we were holding her).

Same was true for Mickey.

The funny part was, she refused to leave Mickey’s set! She stood in the corner and just kept saying hi to Mickey without moving.

We left Hollywood Studios and drove our car to Magic Kingdom. Annalynn took a quick cat nap on the drive over and we sat in the parked car and played on our phones for an additional 20 minutes after we arrived to stretch the nap out as long we could.

The Festival of Fantasy Parade was about to start when we arrived, so we grabbed a seat on Main Street to watch the show.

While we waited, there were a ton of PhotoPass Photographers walking around with signs and objects that guest could take photos with. Annalynn was a fan. 😀

This was Annalynn’s first time watching the parade and I’m not quite sure she “gets it” yet. She clapped and pointed at the characters she knew, but otherwise was sort of “meh” about the whole situation. It was also mid-afternoon and really, really warm sitting in the direct sun, so I think she was also just over being in the sun.

We had Fast Passes for Belle’s story time, which is something I haven’t been to since New Fantasyland Previews back in 2011. I definitely appreciated the show a lot more with a 2 year old. It’s a great interactive show that allows kids to play and spend quality time with Belle. While Annalynn was too shy to try for a part of her own, she did enjoy dancing and clapping along with the other kids. It was also nice to spend some time sitting the AC.

After Belle, we walked right onto Little Mermaid (always a fan favorite) and then headed to Dumbo. It had started to rain at this point, so our plan was to enjoy Dumbo’s indoor play area and wait out the rain. Whoever thought of adding the indoor air-conditioned play area to the Dumbo queue is GENIUS. While Dumbo had a 0-minute wait at the time, the play area was full of kids and exhausted parents. It’s one of our new favorite places in the parks!

Whether there’s a wait or not, they give everyone a buzzer to keep track of who’s in the play area. Ours started buzzing at the 20 minutes mark, which was our little nudge to clear the space. Ha! We were told we could stay longer, but instead opted to go on to the ride. It was still drizzling, but not raining as hard as it had been. We were one of a handful of riders on the ride.

We were all pretty hungy and exhausted at this point, so we got an order of fries to go and headed to our hotel room.

By the way, this was my first time doing the pre-check-in for a Disney hotel and it was awesome. We were able to head straight to our room and never saw the hotel’s front desk or had to interact with a cast member the entire time we were there. I checked us in via the My Disney Experience App weeks ago and received a notification via the app that our room was ready earlier that morning. We had our room number via the App and used our MagicBands to enter the room. Everything felt very smooth and efficient.

We rested in the hotel room a bit, and then headed to the pool to swim.

My lil fish was not having the adorable kiddie splash area, she only wanted to swim in the big pool!

We opted to save some money and time by having dinner offsite. Thanks to Yelp, I found a casual burger place (Burger Craft) just on the other side of Animal kingdom. We were in and out quickly without any fuss.

Annalynn was so exhausted that she had no problem going right to bed after dinner. We brought her travel cot and she happily climbed on it without even being prompted. She was out almost as soon as her head hit the bed.

We had an extra Magic Hour for Animal Kingdom, so we were up pretty early the next morning. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel’s quick service area and then loaded up the car. Our goal was to get early to hopefully beat the crowds for Pandora, but it was already pretty crowded by the time we arrived at 8:30. The line for Flight of Passage was already 90 minutes and way longer than any of us could handle.

This was my first chance seeing Pandora in person and… wow. The details of the land are absolutely incredible. I wish I had been able to spend more time exploring all the little details, but Annalynn was pretty over it from the beginning (notice the sunscreen bottle in the photos – some battles just aren’t worth it fighting). I need to go back without a toddler in tow and just spend a couple of hours wandering.

p.s. the shirt was from my LeTote box and I’m obsessed with it.

We were able to ride the Na’vi River Journey. The line moved quickly and the ride itself was nice and cool in the AC. I had heard mixed reviews about the ride, and I have to say I agree with them. While it was a beautiful ride with impressive technical elements, it was a little on the boring side. The Shaman animatronic at the end was really impressive – I wish there had been more on the ride. Or at the very least a story to follow.

My parents met us at the park entrance and we explored DinoLand USA.

The Boneyard and Dino Dig are always a hit with our family. The kids love the slides and the adults love the shade.

From there we saw Finding Nemo, which was Annalynn’s first time staying awake for the entire performance! She started to get antsy towards the end, but overall loved the show! We also ate lunch at Tiffins, which had ZERO wait and a nice quiet atmosphere. The food was tasty and we loved the atmosphere, but definitely a bit pricey!

We rode Raffiki’s train to Conversation Station and were pleasantly surprised to see a Doc McStuffins meet and greet! Of course, we had to say “hi!” one more time!

We also headed outside for the petting farm. The last time we tried a petting farm at the zoo was a disaster. Annalynn was really afraid of the animals and didn’t want to be put down. This time she made sure to say hello to each animal, pet them gently, and even blew them kisses!

Our last stop was the Safari ride before Ice Cream and finally heading home.

A couple of notes. Despite only having a 20 minute car nap, Annalynn did great the first day and powered through without any fuss. That was NOT the case the second day. She was over tired and very grumpy. We tried to get her to take a stroller nap, but it never happened. She ended up falling asleep in my arms in line for the safari, but woke up as soon as we got on the ride. We left the park around 3ish and she slept the entire drive home. I think if we were to do multiple days at Disney again we would need to ensure more breaks and rest for our rockstar toddler. Live and learn!



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Hurricane Irma Update

September 10, 2017

Hi Friends! First of all, thank you for all of the emails and messages sending your support and concerns. I would have updated here sooner, but I’ve been having trouble accessing the site’s login page. If you’re seeing this message, that means I finally got in – woo hoo! – let’s hope it stays that more »

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