So, the kids all just got home from school and started their April vacation. What were we going to do? We went to Disney World, what else? This truly was a last minute trip. With our annual passes burning a hole in our pockets, we packed and were out the door six hours later. We made a hotel reservation and booked fast passes. I was not surprised we could not get any fast passes for Seven Dwarves Mine Train although I was surprised we got fast passes for some other main attractions.
Other than doing everything quick instead of over-planning like I usually do for our trips, this was off the cuff for the most part and was our first time staying off property. That’s right, we did not stay inside the Disney World bubble. We stayed at a Clarion Suite about four miles away. This was not the DVC accommodations we are use to, although it was adequate. Here is the break down of the good and bad. The hotel was easy to get to and close to Disney World property (about three miles away). The cost was $89 a night with a AAA discount. They offered a free breakfast for two people in your room, although we were in a room for six. We could have paid for each extra person, however we just took turns going down to breakfast and we had cereal in the room as usual. The room had a lack of space for our clothes, but there was enough room for all six of us to sleep comfortably. The pool area was nice with a bar, but being April the water was cold since the pool isn’t heated. Being April break it was also very crowded and there was a group of high school students on a band trip who were a little rowdy.
Getting to the parks was its own adventure. It took a long time to get to the parks although we were only a few miles away (roughly a half hour everyday). This was something we were not expecting since we were only four miles away. Once we got on property, driving was easy. Disney has definitely got their parking situation pretty well organized too. Once we parked, for the most part, we walked to the front of the park however my kids liked the tram. That being said, my wife would go with the kids on the tram mainly at the end of the day and I would walk with our stroller. We found it a little cumbersome to get the stroller on and off the tram.
Touring the parks was slightly different too. Since we have been to Disney World many times we were not deterred by the crowds. We also took a different approach to the trip and decided to slow our pace way down. For example, we did a morning at Animal Kingdom where we just took in the atmosphere walking around. We only did one attraction that day, Finding Nemo the Musical where we met up with my co-blogger and his family. Taking things slow also opened up a new world for our kids. They started to notice a lot more detail around the parks. In fact my youngest (5 years old) was the first to notice the Peter Pan topiary on top of a building in the UK pavilion. Another plus to the slow pace was on our second day at Animal Kingdom (yes Animal Kingdom can be a multiple day park) we went to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and waited near the vet observation area until they brought an animal in for a check up. It was a great experience and I recommend it to everybody. We found out that on most days they do animal procedures from 9am until noon. I can definitely say we will be going back to see what other animals they work on.
Remember that rowdy pool I mentioned earlier? Well, we were able to adapt by packing our swim suits in the car and headed to the water parks after exploring one of the other parks for the day. My kids loved it. Up until last August we really hadn’t spent anytime at the water parks so they were thrilled to go on Crush and Gusher for the first time and the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon.
On this trip we also broke our streak of not going to Downtown Disney or Disney Springs as it will soon be known. We met with some family and friends that live in Florida at Splitsville. We did not bowl but had a great meal. I have heard great reviews of the food at Splitsville but always had my doubts. I was pleasantly surprised with the food. A few of us got sushi and shared the different types. It was a great experience and we walked around Disney Springs for a while enjoying the atmosphere of the night. The kids were out cold in the car about five minutes into the ride back to our hotel.
There were definitely a lot of changes from our well thought out and planned trips of the past. It was not our typical DVC resort stay and we didn’t go from attraction to attraction. Even with all of these changes and getting out of our Disney comfort zone, it was a fantastic trip and I wouldn’t be deterred from doing a last minute trip or non-Disney resort again.
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