Our family recently returned home from our Walt Disney World Vacation (or Runcation if you will, as we all four participated in Run Disney events on our vacation). There were ups and downs, and really high ups, and things we learned along the way. This was by no means a first time trip for us, (we’re Disney World veterans), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t riddled with first time adventures!
Our vacation started on Thursday morning, very early! We have about an 10 hour drive to get to Orlando, so we leave out when most people are hours from waking up. A little before half way there, we noticed our air conditioning wasn’t working. Let me tell you how painstakingly HOT the drive is when you have no air conditioning! We survived, but the car barely made it!
Disney FIRST #1 – The Walt Disney World Car Care Center
My hope is that none of you ever have to utilize the WDW Car Care Center, but rest assured if you do, that you will find courteous, helpful and knowledgeable people here. After we arrived and checked in to our resort, my husband drove the car on it’s last leg to the WDW Car Care Center. This is located right near the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. The CCC gave him a lift to the bus stops in the Magic Kingdom, and he hopped on the bus back to our resort. They checked it out, kept us informed, and had the car fixed before our day to return home. My husband is a mechanic himself, and he felt that they were honest and gave an accurate diagnosis. I won’t tell you they’re the least expensive mechanics out there, but, they did the job, they did it right, and the only thing we had to worry about was our vacation budget being $1300 lighter! (By the way, did I mention that the car really didn’t like us driving 400 miles after it broke? That one broke item turned in to several broke items by the time we arrived!)
Disney FIRST #2 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Our family had never stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. I’ll be giving a full review of this resort in a few weeks, but for a quick re-cap, I’ll tell you that we really enjoyed it! It is a big resort, but with plenty of bus stops, a great pool, and a cool, caribbean setting. The grounds were beautiful, and the room was right along our expectations for a moderate resort.
After checking in and getting a nice cool down at the pool, it was time to head to the Magic Kingdom!
Disney FIRST #3 – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP)
The Halloween party is a special ticketed event – meaning, if you used a park pass for this day, the park “closes” to you at 7:00 pm, unless you also purchased a separate ticket to the party. You can enter the park with this party ticket after 4:00 pm, even if you don’t have a park pass for the day. Kids and adults are encouraged to dress up for this event in your best Disney (or non-Disney) costume. We saw some incredible costumes that people went all out for, and they were great. Upon arrival, everyone (adults too!) is given a trick-or-treat bag. I honestly attempted to refuse, but eventually got in on the candy action. During this party, there is a special parade that runs twice nightly, led by the Headless Horeseman! There are candy stops and candy trails, special character greetings and even special snacks and treats that aren’t available on regular days in the park! The MNSSHP was a lot of fun. It was great to get pictures with characters that you don’t always see, the parade and fireworks shows are probably the best MK ones I’ve ever seen, and the kids made out like bandits with the candy! Of course, they got mom and dad’s candy too!
Disney FIRST #4 – Jedi Training
On Friday, we spent the day at Hollywood Studios park. First on the agenda was to register my son for Jedi Training. Again, I will post a longer blog about this experience in the future, but some quick notes about this. We arrived at the park about 20 minutes after opening. We left dad at bag check and ran through the guests with no bags line and took off running to the registration spot. Even after getting there so close to park opening, we were still at the end of the line. They do this show around 12 times a day, and each show takes around 15 kids. Chances are, if you don’t register early, you might not get a spot. They will put you on a waiting list, but it is not guaranteed. If your child wants to do this, I recommend getting there first and getting registered. We got a spot of 3:25 pm, and were told to return at 2:55. Taylor LOVED doing this. He got to wear a Jedi robe, learn a light saber fighting routine, and take a stab at Darth Vader! The CM’s that work this experience are a lot of fun, and make it great for the kids. If you have a Star Wars fan, I urge you to do this!
Disney FIRST #5 – Run Disney
Everyone in our family participated in a Run Disney event. My husband and I ran in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, my son ran a 400 meter race, and my daughter ran a 1 mile race. Run Disney does a great job with this, and they have it planned down to a science. Packet pick up was easy and fast. The races were scheduled and organized so that there really was little sitting around and waiting. The DJ’s that they had playing music and getting the kids active while waiting were funny and exciting. There were tons of great items at the Race Expo. All in all, we had a ton of fun doing this. In the future, I don’t think we’ll combine a race weekend with vacation, only because the adults were tired in the days following the 10 mile race, and because the race day cut into park time considerably for us. But these are details that are personal observances, and might not be huge disadvantages for all families. At the end of the day, we are totally glad we did it and had a lot of fun. We got a family picture in front of the castle with our medals on (that I haven’t downloaded yet from Memory Maker – oops!) and we made a lot of great family memories. I also haven’t purchased our official run photos from Marathonphoto.com yet, but will, soon, and I want to give them credit for the photos too. They did a great job of capturing the races as they unfolded!
This was our first trip since Disney introduced Magic Bands. I wasn’t so sure about these bands when I first learned of them, but I will tell you that we LOVED them! There were no issues with the bands coming off, which was my biggest fear. We wore them while swimming, while running and while exploring the parks. These bands function as your room key, your park admission, your photopass account, your meal tickets and your purchase payments if you wish. They really didn’t get in the way like I expected, and by the time the week was over, we almost felt naked without them!
A few more things to note – and to not make this post too long to read… my son Taylor rode his first ever roller coaster – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! I got to ride Test Track and Expedition Everest, both for the first times. Test Track is AWESOME at night, and I really loved Expedition Everest! The Food and Wine Festival was incredibly crowded, and personal opinion is a great experience for families and individuals traveling without children, as there is really a lot of people and the food and drinks are not exactly tailored to children. October is STILL HOT, but not unbearable. It was sad to know that Maelstrom will not be there on my next visit. There was a lot of construction going on (the main hub in Magic Kingdom and all over Animal Kingdom,) but Disney does a great job of hiding it behind walls. If you weren’t looking for it, you could really easily miss it.
All in all, we had a wonderful trip – but Disney vacations always are wonderful! It was sad to leave, and hard to pay $1300 to get our car back, but the memories we made will last a lifetime. Of course, we’ve only been home a little over a week, and we’re already talking about our next trip. Maybe this one will happen sooner than the last one did. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed hearing me ramble about our vacation, and please enjoy a few more pics of our Disney Runcation!
Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!