Hey everyone! Hope the new year is off to a great start for you! We got back about a week and a half ago from a very magical trip to my FAVORITE place: Disney World!! We surprised Cooper with this trip as his big Christmas present(and let’s be real- it was basically a Christmas present for me too). Christmas morning he opened up the box with our Magic Bands and the look on his face was priceless- then the big question was “When are we going?!?!” and he opened up an envelope with this countdown inside:
When he saw that we were leaving in 9 days he was so excited!! Of course I’d booked the trip months and months before, so I was so glad to finally have the secret out!
The big day finally came and we left early in the morning for the Ontario Airport. If you live in Southern California I highly recommend flying out of Ontario. It’s so easy to navigate, parking is nearby (and in abundance), the TSA line is quick, and it beats driving to LAX or San Diego.
We had a full day of flying, broken up with a layover in Dallas. I personally don’t mind the split flights. It breaks up the monotony of sitting on a plane for 5 hours or more. I hate sitting still for that long! We grabbed lunch at Papacito’s in the Dallas airport and our food was pretty good. Then we played travel-sized Jenga while we waited at our gate for the connecting flight.
Finally we arrived in Orlando around 7pm, boarded the Magical Express shuttle, and headed to our resort. We were staying in my favorite resort of all time: The Animal Kingdom Lodge! When we walked in the door we immediately saw this:
Doesn’t that just take your breath away?? I’m not going to lie- I cried. I had no idea that the Christmas decorations would still be up! I was so surprised, so happy, and it was SO beautiful that it made me get choked up. I felt so incredibly lucky! This lobby is beautiful without a giant tree, but seeing it decorated for Christmas made it out-of-this-world gorgeous.
We took it all in and headed straight to our room. We already had our Magic Bands so there was no need to stop at the desk and check-in. Disney had already sent me an email and a text message telling me what our room number was, and you unlock your door with your Magic Band or even your phone. It’s so convenient! The coolest part: we had the same exact room as the last time we stayed here in March of 2019! We had loved our room on our last trip because we saw a ton of animals from our balcony. We basically had a Savannah view room, but we didn’t have to pay for the room upgrade. So I sent a room request via fax asking for the same room number as our previous trip. I used the website www.touringplans.com to do all of this and it worked out great! We once again had an amazing view of animals outside of our room. Everyday we saw either giraffes, zebras, gazelles, ostriches, warthogs, etc. It’s awesome. Every morning Cooper would pop out of bed, rush to open the curtains, and yell “Mommy! There are three giraffes!” or “Mommy! There’s a zebra and two warthogs!”. It’s just the best experience ever.
We settled into our room, and went to bed since we knew we had a big day ahead of us.
Day 1- Magic Kingdom
We got a later start that I’d hoped for, but we decided to let Cooper sleep in rather than deal with an exhausted kid all day. That 3 hour time difference is tough!
On our way to the bus, we stopped for pictures in the lobby. I couldn’t get enough of the tree!
After a quick bus ride we arrived at Magic Kingdom. Walking into the park and seeing all the Christmas stuff still up was a dream come true! Everything looked so beautiful.
We headed straight to Haunted Mansion since it was our first FastPass of the day. It’s also a family favorite!
There is a new photo pass on Haunted Mansion(well, new to us at least) and I don’t know at what point in the ride they took this photo, but I died laughing when we saw it:
Why do I look so horrified?! I swear, I like this ride, and I’m not even remotely scared on it, but by the look on my face you would think I’m terrified. Cooper too! Of course Cody looks relaxed and content.
We had to pose for pictures in front of the Mansion after the ride:
When Cooper was younger(like age 3 and 4) he was OBSESSED with the Haunted Mansion! He would watch ride videos on YouTube over and over. It was his absolute favorite thing. He still likes it- but nothing like when he was a little guy.
After some rides we headed to our lunch reservation at Tony’s Town Square. We always eat lunch here on Magic Kingdom days since they offer the Parade Dining Package. I love the Festival of Fantasy Parade, but I don’t want to camp out for 2 hours just to get a great viewing spot. So we eat here, get our Parade voucher, and then have a nice reserved spot to watch the Parade from. I highly recommend doing this if you want to catch the parade.
Apparently I was way too hungry to remember to take pictures of my food- but it was all really good! They give you bread with olive oil to dip it in, and we had the calamari and the fried mozzarella for our appetizers. Both were really good but especially the fried mozzarella! For our entrees, Cody has the “Italian Trio” which was Chicken Parmigiana, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Spaghetti and meatball. He didn’t really like the Fettuccine Alfredo but he really like the rest. I had Gnocchi Primavera with grilled shrimp and it was amazing. So many fresh vegetables, a great sauce, and tender gnocchi. Cooper had the kids Spaghetti and meatballs and he did a great job with it. Desserts were also included with our meals. Cody had vanilla Gelato, and I had the Italian Strawberry Shortcake. The strawberries were marinated in balsamic vinegar which kept it from being to sweet. I really liked it and I’m not a big dessert person, so that’s saying something.
After lunch we went over to the reserved viewing area for the parade. We had the best view in the house! I absolutely love this parade and I can’t miss it when I’m in Magic Kingdom. The floats are all so beautiful, I love the music and the characters and Maleficent’s Dragon is so cool!
After the parade we continued on the rides! Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, People Mover, Mad Tea Party, and more.
We also went on Space Mountain for the first time at Disney World! We’ve been on the Disneyland version of Space Mountain, but not this one. It was an adrenaline rush for sure! I had my arms on Cooper’s shoulders the whole ride because I am 100% THAT Mom, and I’m so scared that his little skinny butt is going to go flying out! #crazypartyofone
Despite the terrified look on his face, he of course LOVED it! I was basically praying for it to be over the whole time. It’s just so fast, and so dark, and when I feel myself catching air going through the dips it scares me! I guess I’m just becoming a big chicken as I get older. Now Cooper says that Space Mountain is his favorite ride at Magic Kingdom…Lord help me.
We ran across Gaston as we were walking through Fantasyland, and Cooper wanted us to take a picture with him. He was really nice and really funny. He directed me to stand in the sunlight so that he could get a better look at the “breathtaking view” of HIMSELF in the reflection of my sunglasses! Very funny Gaston. Very funny! We flexed our muscles and got a cute picture:
We had a great afternoon/early evening riding rides until it was time to break for dinner. We had a reservation at Be Our Guest and upon check in I asked if we could request the West Wing. We love sitting in the West Wing because it’s dark, and sort of spooky. The walls and curtains look as though they’ve been ripped to shreds by the Beast’s claws, and the Enchanted Rose is in here too, slowly dropping it’s petals. Our favorite part is that every time a petal drops from the Enchanted Rose, thunder claps, and the portrait over the fireplace changes from a painting of the Prince to a painting of the Beast. It’s very cool.
Our dinner’s were delicious. It’s a prix fixe menu here for dinner, so each person chooses one appetizer and one entree, and then each guest gets a dessert trio(the kids dessert trio is a little different). If you would like to take a peek at the menu you can click HERE
Cody had the escargot appetizer, Cooper had the kids fruit and cheese plate, and I had the lobster bisque. I loved the bisque especially- it was a small portion, but incredibly rich. For our entrees, Cody had the center-cut filet, I had the pan-seared sea scallops with mushroom risotto, and Cooper had the mac and cheese. We all three loved our food. I tried Cody’s filet and it was incredible tender and the red wine glaze they serve it with is so good(ask for extra on the side). My scallops were amazing and the risotto was so good too. It was probably one of my favorite scallop dishes that I’ve ever had.
After dinner came the dessert trio. I really love the Grey Stuff! It’s like a cookies-and-cream-cheesecake mousse, and it really is delicious. The white chocolate “Chip” cup that it comes in tastes fine- just too sweet for me. The macaron is great if you like macarons, and I really do! The dark chocolate truffle is not my taste at all. It’s very bitter, dark chocolate and the Grand Marnier Ganache that it was filled with tasted awful to me. My husband liked it though. The kids dessert is the same trio, except the “Chip” cup is not filled with the Grey Stuff(it’s served on the side of the plate instead), and they provide “paint” and a paintbrush so they can paint a face on their “Chip” cup. Cooper loves doing this!
After dinner we went to see the Beast and get out picture taken with him.
We really love this restaurant! It’s the only restaurant in Disney World that Cooper requests. The West Wing is great for boys because it’s not at all Princess-y. Just know that the Beast is only there for dinner, so if you come here for breakfast or lunch don’t expect to get a picture with him.
I had planned on watching the fireworks show after dinner but Cooper wanted to hit more rides. So we took advantage of the short line times(since everyone else was watching the fireworks)and got on some rides. We ended our day with Big Thunder Mountain and then took some nighttime castle pictures on our way out. It was a great Magic Kingdom day!
The next day we slept in a little bit and ate breakfast in our room. I always order groceries to be delivered on our arrival day, so we save money and time by not having to go get breakfast. We usually order milk, cereal, yogurt, muffins, chips, beer, applesauce pouches, coffee creamer and lots of bottled waters to get us through the week.
If you’re interested in doing this for your trip, I use this website: www.gardengrocer.com
After we were dressed and ready for the day, we took the bus to Magic Kingdom and from there we hopped on the boat to Fort Wilderness. Once we were there we went to the front entrance and rented ourselves a golf cart for the day!
We had so much fun driving around Fort Wilderness and looking at the Christmas decorations that people had put up on their campsites. I had never driven a golf cart before and I really loved it.
Around 4pm we took the boat over to Wilderness Lodge to get to our dinner reservation. This resort holds such a special place in my heart because it was the resort we stayed at during our very first trip to Disney World four years ago.
This place is SO beautiful. I love Animal Kingdom Lodge the most, but Wilderness Lodge is a VERY close second.
I had Cooper and Cody pose for a picture to recreate the one I’d taken on that 2017 trip:
I vote that we continue to recreate this picture every 4 years!
We grabbed a couple drinks at Geyser Point which is the outside bar. Then we walked around and admired the lobby.
I absolutely love the design of this resort. It was inspired by The Old Faithful Inn which we went to this last summer. You can see my pictures of the Old Faithful Inn and read all about our trip to Yellowstone National Park here:
We had dinner reservations at Storybook Dining at Artists Point. It’s a character dining restaurant, and we’d never done one of those before, so I really wanted to try it out. The restaurant is so pretty- the ceiling has tree branches “growing” out of it:
At your place setting, the napkins are wrapped with an apple that has the autographs of Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy and the Evil Queen:
On each table is a three-tiered serving tray:
Our waiter took our drink orders, and I had to try the enchanted apple. It was a very pretty cocktail. The glass was rimmed with sugar and edible glitter. It was tasty too!
The menu here has three different shared appetizers, then each person picks their own entree, and then there are three shared desserts plus a surprise dessert at the end.
If you would like to take a look at the full menu, click the link HERE.
Our appetizers arrived shortly after we made our entree selections. The presentation was really cute:
The mushroom soup was the first thing I tried and it was AMAZING! It was worth the trip to this restaurant alone. I wish I had a bowl now. The shrimp cocktail was pretty good, but I would have preferred a regular shrimp cocktail sauce over the salad/sweet and sour sauce mixture. The last appetizer was the Hunter’s Terrine and it was my least favorite. The chicken was sort of weird- it was like a mix between salami and spam. It was served with crackers, preserves, and mustard, and when you ate it all together the taste was fine…but the texture wasn’t my favorite.
They brought three servings of everything because there were three of us, but they also brought Cooper his own Children’s menu appetizer:
It was almost too cute to eat!! Also, much more his taste. Fruit and veggie slices, chocolate cracker crumbs, a biscuit, and string-cheese. The little jar had a mixture in it that we were instructed to shake, so that it turned into honey-butter. The other container had Ranch dressing in it for dipping the veggie sticks.
Dopey and Grumpy came by our table and we got some cute pictures:
For our entrees Cody and I both ordered the prime rib. It came with horseradish mashed potatoes, carrots, and aus jus. The best part was the Yorkshire pudding that also came om the side! For those of you that don’t know what Yorkshire pudding is, it’s a big puffy biscuit type thing that is usually cooked in the drippings of the Prime Rib. It was so good! The prime rib had great flavor and we both had huge servings. I also asked for an extra side of the aus jus to dip everything in- it was delicious. Cooper had the chicken strips and he loved them.
Snow White came by to visit us just as we were finishing our meals. It was really cute to watch Cooper interact with her.
Our desserts came out next:
We were served chocolate-mousse apples, gooseberry pies, and the “Miner’s Treasure” which was chocolate cake with berry flavored panna cotta. All three were good, but my favorite was the Miner’s Treasure.
The last dessert is the “Hunter’s Gift to the Queen”. It’s maple popcorn with chocolate hearts, and it’s presented to you in a “smoke” filled glass box. The presentation is really fun! I didn’t like the popcorn or the chocolates much- but my husband did.
After our desserts, it was time for us to see the Evil Queen. She doesn’t come around to the tables like the other characters. She has her own backdrop and you go to her. It was fun meeting her- she definitely stays in character! She was scary in a fun way, if that makes sense.
I was so happy that I’d booked us for this dinner. We had such a great time! The food was great(one of our favorite meals from the trip), service was excellent, and the character interaction was really fun. It was a wonderful experience. If you’re planning a Disney World vacation I definitely recommend booking this restaurant. We had a great time!
That’s a wrap for Day 1 and 2! I’ll post the rest of our trip soon. Thank you for reading ❤