We visited the Disney World in Orlando during the February winter break. Nonu was very excited as he adores Disney movies and shows, and loves the characters, his favorite character being Goofy. During our last visit, he was a baby, hardly a year old, so had no idea about Disney or the parks or any of its associated perks. And most importantly, we were all looking forward to some sunshine and warmth. The winter wasn’t as bad as last year but it was still cold, and one needs a break from wearing a thick winter jacket.
We have taken multiple road trips with Nivi, even a long 8 hour drive to Niagara with my parents when she was barely 9 weeks old but this was her first flight trip. And totally clueless on how easy or difficult it would be to fly with her. Also, packing adequate homemade baby food was another challenge. I had literally packed the entire house as we were flying on Southwest Airlines and I made complete use of two free checked bags deal. Flying with her was no problem at all, she slept for some time, smiled a lot at our antics and the passengers sitting behind us; had her bottle and some food, all in all was a great flier. We had a stopover and had to change flights, and honestly I was tired by the time we reached Florida, but she was a trooper.
We had reservations in Port Orleans – Riverside, one of the Disney Resorts, which was a first for all of us. The advantage of staying in a resort is you get picked up at the airport by their bus, so you don’t need to rent a car, save some dough and take a nap that is if your 6-month old lets you. But the disadvantage is you just can’t leave when you want to, like we ended up waiting at the airport for the bus to accommodate all the passengers. Its’ some give and take!
On reaching the resort, we checked in, had dinner at the cafeteria, and walked to our rooms. The rooms were pretty decent, honestly not the best rooms that I have stayed in, but the facilities made up for it. There were tons of walking paths, so many flowing streams and bridges; bicycles fitted with infant and/ or toddler carriers to rent to ride around the property. Another advantage of Port Orleans Resort was the access to Riverboats or River taxis that took us directly to Disney downtown.
The next day we woke up pretty early, had some breakfast at the cafeteria and then headed to our first adventure – The Animal Kingdom. We took the bus from the resort; it was fully packed but dropped us at the park within no time. Our first stop was Mickey and Minnie character visits. Nonu was so happy to see them; he ran towards them and hugged them while Nivi was totally surprised. She kept touching their face and nose; she was very fascinated by them. Made for some fantastic photo opportunities!
Totally enjoyed “It’s a Bug’s Life show, never had thought about how difficult it would be to be a bug. The Kilimanjaro Safari was a big hit, such a picturesque setting with the acacia trees, tall grasses, huge boulders and between them you spot different animals – from antelopes to zebras to giraffes and wildebeests, we were even lucky enough to spot some elephants.
The Festival of Lion King was a beautiful show, I was so enthralled by their acts, but had to miss a part of it because Nivi was fretting and I had forgotten my nursing cover in our stroller so had to get out. And what I can say about the Mombasa market place, though I didn’t buy anything, the details and the dramatic set up were a treat for my eyes.
In the Asia section of the park –we did the Maharaja Jungle Trek – that led to many questions from Nonu on the Bengal tigers and the huge vessels and the dramatic ruins as props. Nonu and my hubby went on Everest ride and apparently it was great fun. Nonu was very scared but he still couldn’t stop talking about the “Yeti” and the caves and how he wanted to get out of the ride and be there at the same time. Later on we had some yummy samosas and watched the peacocks, geese and some other birds that were just being friendly. Nonu had a ball running behind them, trying to catch them. Another fun thing was the Bollywood dancing on the streets of Asia; it was pretty exciting to see people dancing to Hindi tunes. We then spent some time at Dinoland and finally decided to get out of the park.
Our day wasn’t done yet, we decided to go to Downtown Disney – another perk of staying in the resort was access to all these buses from the Park that would take us to any Disney resorts or locations. Downtown Disney was good fun, like every visitor we visited the Disney store and then the Lego Store. We wanted Nonu to get something other than Lego, so we took him to multiple stores like Star Wars, Captain America, and funnily every store we went to he just gravitated towards their Lego collection. So, finally we decided, no use asking him to get something else, Legos it is. We got him two Lego sets and he was on cloud nine. We then caught the Disney River Boat and headed back to our resort. It was such a long but an amazing day. My Fitbit hit crazy milestones for the day, and Nonu didn’t even complain that his legs were hurting till the time we reached the resort, and then he finally caved in, asking me to pick him up. That made me mush. We really had a magical time and couldn’t wait for our next day visit to the much awaited “Magical Kingdom”
Like yesterday, we took the bus from the resort and arrived at Magic Kingdom within no time. The park was already bustling but that was kind of expected. The first thing that you see as you enter the park is the beautiful castle, a perfect backdrop for a Kodak moment. This time Nivi was too young, but probably the next time we visit we might have to spend some time in the princess boutique, try all those dresses, probably get her hair and makeup done and take some pictures with the princesses. There were so many little girls walking around in their princess outfits, couldn’t stop going gaga over them. Well this time, it was all about Nonu and the rides and shows that he could enjoy.
I loved the “It’s a small world ride”, it was whimsical to watch dolls from the different parts of the world and see them singing, was tickled to find an Indian snake charmer boy in the mix too. Nonu has this “President”fever going on, he always want to know more about them, keeps asking tonsof questions, lso the Hall of Presidents was a big hit. From Buzz’s Lightyear, Carpets of Aladdin to Pirates of the Caribbean, to the Enchanted Tiki Room, Monster Inc Show, Mickey’s Philirmagic show, we got to enjoy all of those. We also did few rides in the Tomorrowland and Frontierland sections of the park. Thinking back I am amazed at the number of rides and shows we were able to squeeze in with a kindergartener and an infant and the varying schedules. When talking to friends, I realized that we were lucky that it was February, so the park wasn’t overcrowded as it usually is most times of the year. The hubby and I would alternate for any rides that didn’t allow infants, so both of us got to enjoy some rides and wait for some. Also, we didn’t attempt any rides that Nonu couldn’t ride, none of us were keen on riding solo.
We loved the parades – got to watch two of them, one in the day and the other at night. The night one was spectacular with the lights and the shining stars and I guess fewer people so we got prime spots to watch, and wave, sway and just enjoy the grandeur. We kind of missed the fireworks because as it started we were about to board the Jungle Cruise and by the time we got out, we just watched the final burst of light. We were so ravenous then that I was more intent on eating dinner and feeding the kids. There is so much to do in the park that you always end up missing something and I guess that’s one way to ensure people keep coming back. I have seen the fireworks during my earlier visit so I know it is pretty awesome.
The park was open till midnight that day, a perk of staying in the resort, and we were there till they started closing the rides and I am not sure how Nonu didn’t drop dead of exhaustion. Atleast Nivi got to sleep in the stroller but this boy was up and raring to go all throughout the day. It was such memorable day, month’s later Nonu keeps talking about the parks and how he can’t wait to go back again.
Our day 3 plan was to visit one of the Universal Parks. I have been to the Islands of Adventure Park before, and thought the rides were catered towards older kids. Nonu loves Shrek, Minions and Transformers, so off we went to Universal Studios. Our first stop was the Terminator 3D show, I liked how they built the story, all the actors running around making it feel so real, and the entire 3 D effect, Nonu got a little nervous but it was good fun. The Animal Actors show was fantastic, even Nivi was enthralled. I spent some time walking around the Curious George playground, it was so colorful and pretty, I will admit, albeit I am not a huge Curious Goerge fan, I actually loved looking at the giant storybooks while Nonu and the hubby went on the ET ride. Nonu and me then went on the Woody Woodpecker ride, he loved it so much, that he wanted to go again. Fortunately the wait time was less than 10 minutes, so he went again on the ride with his dad while I enjoyed some ice cream with Nivi.
We got to see the parade, got the first row seats here, the parade was ok. It was not as grand as the Disney one, but still fun. The Shrek show was hilarious; we were laughing our hearts out by the time we walked out of the 4-D theater. We walked through Krustyland, didn’t get to go on the Simpson’s ride as it had a long wait. Hubby went for the Men In Black ride, whereas I waited with the kids, the wait time for the single rider was less than ten minutes. I loved taking in the views, walking along the Beverly’s Rodeo Drive, admiring the London architectural site, from the King’s Cross stations to the different structures, the buses, and the London waterfront to name a few. As the park closed, the final show is the Universal Cinematic Spectacular, showing snippets of the most iconic Universal films against a beautiful fountain, lively fireworks and soothing music in the background; a fitting tribute to 100 years of movie making. It was a wonderful day, we were sad that we were leaving back to Boston the next day but glad that we got to spend so many beautiful moments together.
The next day our flight was in the evening, so we got to spend couple of hours just walking around the resort, there were so many trails and pathways, there was a giant pool, but we didn’t go, probably for next time. The flight back was uneventful; we reached home late at night, the kids were totally tired and asleep but all of us were happy and content and already making plans to visit Disney next year. !!!