10 Apr The Magic of Disney World
I have been dreaming of taking my little one to experience the magic of Disney World for the last two years. I could only imagine her little eyes beaming with excitement as she experienced all the things. Her dad and I were eager to step into the imagination of being a kid again, and excited to leave adult to-dos behind for the eight days we would be there with my extended family. They say it’s the only place on earth where adults are encouraged to be a kid again, and we were ready…
We were lucky enough to stay on Disney property at The Art of Animation Resort. When we arrived on that cool February morning, we checked into our room after being greeted with the best customer service, everyone was weirdly happy and we were already loving it. We had the Little Mermaid Room, and it was decorated exactly as I remember watching the movie back when I was a little girl.
The rest of our family arrived later that day and we got to hang with them, explore the area, plan our next day out, and come up with a timeline, all things highly encouraged by all the wonderful Disney blogs I had literally studied for the months before we arrived. Planning and preparing were the keys to making this trip successful, and I cannot recommend finding a Disney specific travel agent! Our agent, Amanda Ponce, went above and beyond to help us plan each day, and even added extra activities and secret perks she knew about to help create the experience we were aiming for. I highly recommend her!
On our first morning, I woke up first and took my hot coffee to the patio and did a short mediation followed by some light stretching. I knew my legs were going to be in for it today and connecting with my inner peace and grounding in the present moment before our busy day began helped a lot. Next, I had to focus on booking our rides for the day. We had decided to purchase what’s called the Genie+ which meant you could book your rides ahead of time, and the first bracket of ride slots opened up early in the morning, well before the parks opened.
The first day jitter and excitement had set in, and my daughter woke up bursting with joy and singing all of the Disney tunes as we grabbed our first day of matching family tees, our Mickey ears (of course), and our best walking tennis shoes. We headed to the shuttle and took a short ride right over to Magic Kingdom.
As we all walked in, we were overwhelmed with the large crowd of people from across all different areas of the world. And there it was… in all of its beauty and magic, the Cinderella Castle! All of the planning and stress and unknowns simply felt worth it as I grabbed my camera and started to film my sweet girl, dancing and twirling in her Cinderella dress, and catching that first moment of happiness as she laid eyes on what every little girl desires, “to dance around a princess castle,” as Ellie called it. It was the moment we had all been waiting for, the moment it sank in that we had made it, after almost a year of planning… we had arrived. I was filled with gratitude.
Enjoying those first moments at the first park, on our first day, was something I will never forget. The rest of that day was packed with allll the rides, fried food, 12.5 miles of walking (not exaggerating) and a much-needed afternoon snooze back at our hotel during the afternoon. Later we headed back to the park for the evening festivities. If you have not witnessed THE dreamiest and I mean THE most impressive fireworks, you must go and see! These were not just any typical fireworks… but fireworks on top of the castle, colorful and just a really take-your-breath-away show! Easily incomparable to any 4th of July show! The best part was, they paired the fireworks perfectly with Disney tunes and our girl sat on her daddy’s shoulders. Her eyes wide, and grinning big from ear to ear. I can still picture the colors reflecting on that big ol’ castle and wondering how the heck they pulled this off?! Every. Single. Night.
Hollywood Studios was day two, and this was a grown-up’s playground for sure. Toy Story Land, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, the infamous world of Star Wars: Galaxy Edge (I’m not even a Star Wars person) but this area actually felt like I traveled right into the movie… I mean you could even build your own robot! We then checked out The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. By this point our daughter had taken an early night in, and her dad and I were ready to ride the big kid rides! We also were able to sing along on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and walk down the street of the Hollywood Studios, holding hands and just enjoying this special time together. The Disney photographers were beyond exceptional and took some adorable pics of us kissing on our little date night together. Another snippet of the trip I will not forget.
The next morning, we decided to take a break from the race to the next park. We hit up a big breakfast and then headed over to the resort’s pool, it was of course Finding Nemo themed, and our little was soaking in all the fun water activities! They had a pool employee with toys and dance music for the littles. It was just what we needed on day three. Honestly, when we do go back again, we will most likely skip a day at the parks and just enjoy the resort and pool to rest for a day. I know this helped us all get a reset and gave our tired feet a break (highly recommend!). There is also a cute area called Disney Springs that I wish we could have checked out – tons of dining and shops!
Our afternoon came so quickly we almost forgot we needed to get to Epcot! We headed toward Disney Skyliner, which is another way to travel from park to park. It’s very similar to a gondola ride if you’ve ever been to the mountains or to a ski area before. You hop on a small container enclosed ride and then a huge zipline takes you to your destination of either Hollywood Studios or Epcot. It goes to other resorts as well. The travel options at Disney were impeccable and make it that much easier to not have to worry about renting a car or parking. We loved that aspect!
Epcot had this unique charm about it, all of the countries and their detailed characteristics made the architecture and buildings mimic the streets of Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Mexico, and others. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was our favorite ride, it no joke had the smells of fresh bread, pizza, and seasonings all throughout the ride. How does Disney do that?! Oh, and the Frozen Ever After ride was another one we adored… Anna and Elsa looked way too real for being robots, and Ellie was ecstatic to be at the Arendelle Castle. The Frozen store was one of our favorites also. Oh, and another must-ride at Epcot was Soarin’ Around the World! The views were breathtaking.
We had some great Italian food at Italia and also enjoyed some wine and cannolis while in Italy. We even opted for more food later that evening in Spain, and the churros were delish. I’ve always been a sweets girl… sorry, not sorry! The food was the best part of our time at Epcot, hands down. I mean when can you actually enjoy food from various countries, at the same place? We ended our day with the highly underrated Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride – it had a massive aquarium complete with sharks! Then we saw the fireworks had started and literally ran towards them. This show was over the water and the globe at the center of Epcot, it’s worth staying for!
The next day was the day we had all been waiting for… Ellie’s 5th birthday! Back to the Magic Kingdom we went. I felt tired but at the same time so excited for the day ahead of celebrating! We got some birthday pics taken and then had brunch at the Be Our Guest Restaurant. It was dreamy and magical, and we got to see the Beast! The food was delicious and we got to paint the dessert… I mean, every parent’s dream. That grey stuff was delicious. If you know, you know…
The Disney staff had given Ellie a birthday button to wear, and literally EVERY employee told her, “Happy Birthday, Princess!” This made her feel over-the-top special, it was pretty cool. We had never seen such enthusiastic and joyful staff before. Another thing Disney does incredibly well!
Disney also thankfully dropped their mask mandate on her birthday! We’d had to wear masks inside every ride and line during the previous days. I am pretty certain it’s still dropped as of now.
Our last and final day came WAY too quick. You know that feeling when you wake up on your last day of vacay, and you feel as if you didn’t do enough… you didn’t see enough?! Maybe you missed something, or didn’t document enough… I instantly felt that as I woke up before everyone that morning. I knew I needed to get grounded and return to my breath. I began a short guided meditation sitting on a pillow on the floor of our hotel room. I inhaled, inviting in peace, and exhaled the “what-ifs” and the negative thoughts. It always amazes me how centering myself and taking longer, deeper breaths can change my whole mood and perspective.
Last day was Animal Kingdom Park! We walked into the rich green vegetation and instantly smelled the fresh air… tall trees and colorful flowers everywhere. My inner child began to yell, “It’s the Tree of Life!” I suddenly had a flash back of being there back in 1999 with my little brother, running around that same tree. It looks like a massive tree from Africa, and the special carvings in the bark are so unique and so different then anything else we had seen thus far on our trip. It was magical, but in a different sense, it was like we were part of The Jungle Book or out in the African forest and we loved it. We had brunch with Mickey Mouse and his friends at Tusker House Restaurant, and the food was amazing! It was the first time Ellie had gotten to interact with the characters. Festival of the Lion King was probably one of the top shows we saw – the floats were just WOW! The music, flame throwers, and the huge mechanical animals were all so life-like. 10/10! The show’s souvenir shop had our favorite finds. The Starbucks was even jungle themed!
Kilimanjaro Safaris, DINOSAUR, and the Na’vi River Journey rides were filled with every tiny detail you could imagine. But the best ride of our entire week, hands down, was the Avatar Flight of Passage – a breathtaking 3D flight over Pandora’s amazing landscape! It was beyond anything we’d ever experienced; we were IN the Avatar world, I would’ve ridden that one again and again if we could have. If you have no other time to ride anything else while at Animal Kingdom, ride that one! You will not regret it. It’s Tough to be a Bug was another show we enjoyed there. My mom found a cute Disney postcard and we stuck it in the mail at our hotel and sent them to a couple of Ellie’s friends back home. It was such a neat way for her to connect with her friends, and at her age they LOVE receiving mail! If you have littles, it might be something fun to do, even for family back at home!
We were sad to see our days coming to an end but were also excited to get back home to our own beds and fur babes.
I did practice my yoga every day at Disney World, whether I was on my mat or in a long line, or having a stressful moment during the day, I was always connecting back to the present moment, and allowing my breath to ease my mind.
This trip was a wonderful experience filled with people, places, and things that could have been stressful and anxiety-filled, but my yoga practice and the tools I’ve learned kept me from letting my mind take over. I feel so grateful for how my yoga came to use on this trip.
I hope you find time within the busyness of your day-to-day to connect with yourself and practice breathwork and movement modalities that work for you to stay centered, grounded and empowered. Yoga is a practice, and I will never be done learning and practicing… and growing.
I now see now why there are so many Disney World lovers… we are already planning our trip back! Have you ever experienced the joys of Disney World, or Disneyland?
If you have a moment, please leave a comment or question below! I would love to hear from you.
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