Disney's Land and Sea Vacation
For spring break this year we went on a Disney Land and Sea Vacation. This means that we spent a portion of our trip at Disney World and then the other portion on a Disney Cruise. One of the things I noticed while doing research for our own trip is that there are hundreds of bloggers out there who share about their experience at Disney. Many of them are soooo helpful and really helped me get a grasp on going to Disney with kids (none of us had ever been before). So my disclaimer is that this post won't be as helpful as some of those haha! Some of those people must live in Orlando and go to Disney like every weekend or something because their expertise is incredible. But we did have a really successful trip with five kids and four adults. We all made it out alive, had a blast and are still friends and want to go back-to me that's a successful Disney trip :)
When booking our trip, we worked with a travel agent about a year before our trip. Now, I am not sure how much of a difference it made working with a travel agent. My sister-in-law and I like to plan things and planned our whole schedule ourselves, we probably could have booked everything ourselves too. Definitely next time we will just do it ourselves. But for a first time Disney trip working with a travel agent might not be a bad idea.
Before your trip:
Planning your trip should be done months ahead of time. You can get fast passes up to 60 days before your trip starts. If you wait to get fast passes you probably won't get any. When planning your schedule, just know that say your trip is from Monday-Friday, when you are 60 days out of the first day of your trip, you can schedule fast passes for your whole trip. So that means if someone has a trip scheduled for Thursday-Wednesday, they could take all the fast passes for the first days of your trip. So just know that you might have to be flexible on the first days of your trip, but you will most likely get the fast passes you want for the end of your trip.
Of course you should book your resort, cruise, and airline several months before you leave. By doing that, you will also have opportunities to select meal plans (we got the fast dining meal plan), pick rooms, purchase park passes, reserve magical express which is a shuttle from the airport to your hotel, buy photo packages (which I loved because it meant I didn't have to worry about taking pictures), schedule fast passes, make dinner reservations, schedule the shuttle from Disney World to the Disney Cruise, and register for kids camps on the cruise.
We also downloaded the Disney experience app and Disney cruise line app. It was great because by the time we arrived, everything was already done. We didn't really have to do anything.
We arrived on a Monday and took the Magical express to our resort Port Orleans Riverside-we chose this resort because it had enough room for all five of us in the room and it was one of the least expensive resorts while still being in a good location and nice. We loved it, there were several pools, two restaurants and a boat shuttle that took us to Disney Springs. You can have the people from Disney pick up your bags from the baggage claim and take them to your resort room. We just grabbed our own bags and took them to the bus. Then when you arrive at the resort you can ask people to take your bags to your room-which we should have done because it was a big resort :)
The kids played in the pool for a little while then we ate dinner at the resort using our meal plan. We then took the boat to Disney Springs which is free, so it was a great place to spend a few hours. There we just walked around and shopped and bought dessert at the Ghiradelli store. We also stopped at Goofy's candy store-we were able to use our "snack" tickets for our purchases there. In our meal plan we get one snack a day.
We got up early and took a shuttle to Magic Kingdom-they came like every 10 minutes from our resort and the ride was about 15 minutes long. We had breakfast reservations at the Be Our Guest restaurant. This was so much fun. It's decorated like the castle from Beauty and the Beast. I got the cronut and Grey Stuff cupcake (pretty awesome breakfast right?!) I had heard the grey stuff cupcake was awesome-it was good but I've had better cupcakes.
We then went on the Barnstormer and Dumbo ride and several other rides that we had scheduled throughout the day. We walked all around the park and it wasn't that bad. Once you use three fast passes you can get new ones (if they're available). So make sure to schedule your fast passes early in the day so you can refresh them in the afternoon.
We ate lunch at Pinocchio's restaurant. Now, I don't mean to be a Disney food hater... but I guess I was expecting the food to be better. I think I'm a bit of a food snob and have eaten at a lot of really good restaurants so I wasn't too impressed. The meal plan was still the way to go for convenience, but the food was meh. However, the winner of our whole trip was the Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom that's located over by the Aladdin ride. It's creamy and delicious! They have dole whips in Animal Kingdom but it's not as good as the one in Magic Kingdom.
The parade and fireworks were my favorite thing in Magic Kingdom. We got to our spot about 40 minutes before the parade started and just let the kids play and eat ice cream. We sat on Main Street in front of Cinderella's Castle-before you get to all the shops. For the fireworks we went to the same spot-also about 40 minutes before. I actually asked a worker where the best spot to stand would be. Here's a little sneaky spot to stay. There are two painted lines on the ground to mark a walkway. It's the walkway just south of the river on Main Street. During the fireworks no one can stand in that marked walkway. But the whole rest of the road gets packed. So before the road started to fill in with people, we stood right behind the white line (south side of the walkway) facing the castle. I'm realizing this is totally hard to explain. But it's a great spot because you don't have people right in front of you which was great for our kids to be able to see the castle during the fireworks. The only tough part is you are basically standing in the middle of the road for about 30 minutes while people are walking around you giving you dirty looks for stopping right in the middle of the road haha!
We got up early and took the shuttle to Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom opens later than Magic Kingdom-so make sure to check before you go. I recommend making reservations at the Tuskar House for breakfast then you can get in to the park earlier. A lot of Animal Kingdom is a zoo so you can walk around and see the animals. The safari ride is the most popular thing to do so that is a definite choice for a fast pass. It was so much fun. If you get a fast pass that will be the difference between waiting 2.5 hours or 20 minutes for the safari.
We also had fun at the Lion King and Finding Nemo shows and it was a nice break for the kids. We ate lunch at the marketplace in Africa and it was a nice change from the other food we had been eating.
Traveling to Port Canaveral
We got up, ate breakfast and played in the pool at the resort and waited until our shuttle came to take us to the cruise. They picked up our luggage from our room that morning. The bus ride was about an hour. Once we got on the cruise ship we took a tour, played in the pool and let the kids play in the kids clubs. The kids clubs were awesome. You just send the kids there at anytime and they have activities all day long. No need to reserve any of the activities, there is always room. We got a verandah room which fit all five of us. Every morning our housekeeper came to put the beds away and every night during dinner they came and set the beds up for sleeping.
We stayed on the Disney Magic which made one stop at the Disney Island in the Bahamas. During the day at sea we watched a movie in their 3D theater, played at the pool and water slides, the kids played in the kids clubs, we watched a Tangled Musical, we also had pirates night. (You can bring a costume a lot of people did, but they had a bandana and eye patch for you). And there are fireworks at night that are awesome.
We woke up on Saturday morning and were at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. After breakfast we headed out to the beach. They had a little shuttle that took us down to the family beach. Unfortunately, we had reserved a glass bottom boat tour but it was cancelled because of the wind. Instead we rented paddle boats and water tricycles, which the kids loved. The kids also spent some time at the kids club on the island while we went snorkeling. We ate lunch right there on the island. We headed back to the cruise ship at about 3pm.
That night on the ship, after dinner, we watched a basketball game on the jumbotron by the pool because it was during the NCAA finals. That was so fun.
After breakfast we took a shuttle to the airport in Orlando and headed home. It was such a fun trip things just worked out perfectly! I would do it again-but maybe this time I would try a Disney resort-like their resort in Hawaii?? :)
Please let me know if you have any questions about the details in our trip-the good thing is that millions of people have been to Disney World so there's always someone to answer a question you might have :)