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Old 10-21-2012, 11:05 AM   #1
GenevieveRaqs
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 631

New Fantasyland, CM Magic and Travelling with a 4yo

Just got back Friday from a fantastic trip--our DS4's first visit to Disney! We stayed at the FW Cabins, and our party included me, DH, DS, my mom, my dad and my brother. Here are a few thoughts:

Fort Wilderness: The cabin was nice and more spacious than I anticipated. With six of us, it would have been nice to have two bathrooms, but we made it work. Storage space was better than I expected, and that was definitely helpful with six suitcases! Having a separate room for DS4 to go to sleep in while the grown-ups stayed up was essential! We loved being able to take the boat right across the lake to MK. The internal bus system ran quickly and efficiently, but it definitely added an additional layer of hassle when it was time to go anywhere. The resort area was lovely--lots of shade, lots of privacy, and we saw plenty of dear and bunnies.

New Fantasyland: All I can say is WOW! It is all even more beautiful and detailed in person than in the hundreds of pictures I looked at before we went! I could have stayed in Fantasyland Forest all day! The views are great, and the sounds of birds singing and water flowing really transport you into a different world. We didn't get to see Enchanted Tales because the wait was just too long. But we did get to ride Little Mermaid, and we loved it. It felt just like being inside the movie--particularly the Under the Sea scene, which they totally nailed. This is another one of those great queues (like Everest) where you actually wish you had more of a wait so you could take it all in! DS4 was in LOVE with Storybook Circus! We rode Dumbo twice, on two different days. The first day the interactive circus tent was PACKED. DS took off as soon as we got inside, and it was really difficult to keep up with him in the midst of so many other kids. He had a great time though, and it was a good way to burn off some energy. The play area is adorable. But it was difficult to get him to leave, and we came super close to a meltdown. I think it might help to have a viewing window so parents could point out the Dumbo ride as you're leaving the tent to help small kids understand you're going to do something else fun...instead of just taking them away from the fun they're already having. Once we got outside the tent and he could see Dumbo, he was much happier. On our second day, the crowds at Dumbo were practically non-existent, so we got to play in the tent for as long as we wanted. We noticed they were giving out bonus Dumbo FPs with PP FPs earlier in the day, and it looks like that had the intended effect of clearing out the tent crowds. We ended up avoiding Casey Jr. It looks adorable, and DS really wanted to play. But the ground around the train was SO slippery, and with a TON of kids running around not paying attention to where they were going, it was really a recipe for injury. I hope Disney will figure out some way to better handle the crowds here and reduce the danger of falls. I noticed that the spraying tiki statues in Adventureland are surrounded by non-slip rubberized stuff...this would be a great addition to Casey Jr.

More in the next post...
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:42 AM   #2
GenevieveRaqs
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 631

Magical CM Moments: A huge shout out to CM Jack A., who was behind us in the Dumbo queue on Thursday! DS4 was flipping out about leaving the Dumbo play tent in order to ride, and Jack was talking to him to get him excited about the ride. I had asked DS if he wanted to give the "ticket" (beeper) to the tent CM as we left, but he was too upset. So as we're waiting outside talking to Jack, he whispers in my ear, in that sad 4yo voice, that he wanted to give him the ticket. I told DS he still had a ticket in his pocket (one of those bonus FPs for Philharmagic). So he pulls it out and gets super shy and cute, shifting from one foot to the other and grinning at Jack. Finally, he hands Jack the FP, pointing out apologetically that it was a little torn. It made DS's day to give him that ticket, and Jack was super patient and engaging. And thank you to CM Ken, our server at Tusker House on Tuesday, who was tons of fun and definitely took great care of us. DS even asked to have his picture taken with him!

Traveling with a 4yo: This was our first really big family vacation with DS, and it was definitely a learning experience for us all! We've done a few short trips to the beach, etc. but nothing of this magnitude. We learned the hard way that trying to do any park time on arrival day was a bad plan. DS was super grumpy from a long day (we got up at 5 a.m. to drive to ATL for our flight to MCO), and pretty much everyone was miserable. First lesson learned!

Rest was super important throughout the trip. We cut out a few things that we had planned, like the Chip 'n Dale Campfire Singalong, so DS could get to bed. Without enough rest, he went back and forth between extremely grumpy and bouncing-off-the-walls wild, so we played it by ear. In the afternoons, we would sit down and have a talk about options--going back to the cabin for a rest or staying, with the caveat that if you don't behave, you go to the cabin anyway. Sometimes he chose to go back for a nap (shocking to hear my kid say that!) and other times he chose to stay. It worked pretty well for us, and he really liked having some "control" over his options.

Even things like letting him hold the park map or the (bonus/unnecessary) FPs helped him feel in control of his situation and prevented meltdowns. We also tried to constantly let him know what was coming--"right now we're going to ride Small World, then we will ride Peter Pan." Talking about the buses and other transportation as a "ride" really helped with the transition from park to resort, and we had zero meltdowns about leaving for the day.

For the first couple of days it was really easy for us to forget that he might need a snack. The adults were all so full from our meals that we didn't get hungry, but DS didn't eat as much at meals as we did. He's bad about not speaking up about being hungry and just turning into Mr. Jekyll all of a sudden! Flavor packets for bottled water really helped to keep him drinking and hydrated.

We didn't have any trouble at all about items in gift shops. He found a Disney truck he wanted on the first day, and we talked about thinking about whether that was really what he wanted. If so, we promised we would buy it later in the trip. When he would see other little things (like a crown we knew he would wear once and toss aside), we'd ask if he wanted that or if he still wanted the truck. So, we came home with the truck! We brought a ton of glow sticks and other glow things for nighttime, so there was no begging for the super expensive Disney light-up toys. We brought enough for him to share with other kids, and he had fun talking to his new friends while we waited to MSEP (which he absolutely adored).

We were surprised by some of the rides he loved--like Spaceship Earth, which we rode three times! He also LOVED Goofini. He is right at 40 inches, and we had no problems with height restrictions. He liked Splash Mountain a lot, but was very much ready to get off BTMRR by the time it was over. Haunted Mansion was another favorite.

Just a few of my thoughts on a great trip! I'm happy to answer any questions people may have!
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:40 PM   #3
GenevieveRaqs
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 631

Oh, forgot to mention one more:

Strollers: We went without one. DS hasn't used a stroller since before he turned two; he likes his independence, doesn't like to be confined and is very active. And guess what? It worked out just fine! He walked the whole time with no complaints. DH did offer to carry him back to the bus a couple of times at the end of the night, and DH or DBro would occasionally put him up on their shoulders if we were trying to get through a crowd. I'm glad we didn't bring or rent a stroller. The standard advice around here seems to be "get a stroller, even if your kid is older, active, doesn't use a stroller, etc." Every kid is different, but just know that Disney CAN be done stroller free. You know your child best, so if you think a stroller is unnecessary, go for it! You can always rent one later if you need it.
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