The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: April 2018
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Decoding Disney: Planning Our Trip as a Beginner

When I was a kid, my family's trips to Disney were some of the most memorable times in my childhood. Maybe it's me, but I get all swept up in the magic... So I have been waiting for the right time to take my kids - when they would remember this expensive trip and could actually do a lot of the most popular attractions.

This spring break, we made *my dream* come true, but not without a lot of planning to make sure I got my money's worth we got our money's worth. Honestly, Nate and I joke about how you could take a whole class on Disney park essentials. THERE. IS. SO. MUCH.

Here is how I planned our Disney vacation with limited time and funds.

1. Do NOT re-invent the wheel. 
There are so many people who have already gotten Disney down to a science so I  definitely leaned on their knowledge - including one of Nate's coworkers who is a Disney pro - whom we texted while at the parks if we had questions.

Aladdin's carpets!

Here are some of the most helpful Disney travel blogs that I referred to over and over as I planned our trip:

The Disney Tourist:
- Best Rides in Magic Kingdom
- Best Rides in Animal Kingdom
- Best Rides in Epcot
- Ride Height Requirements

All Good in Mommyhood:
- Wait Less at Magic Kingdom

I'm actually pretty impressed with myself and my planning for our Animal Kingdom day.

2. Do NOT visit during peak times. 
We did (spring break) and the crowds were unbelievable. Your time of year also determines your ticket price. We still had a blast, but next time we will come during the "off season". This is a joke, because I don't think there is a Disney off season haha

But here is a good look at peak times for the parks to help you plan your trip:
Undercover Tourist: Peak times at Disney

3. Save money by staying off of the Disney property. 
Initially I was actually kind of bummed about this, but by the time we planned our trip (maybe 1 month ahead) EVERYTHING was booked on the Disney property. We actually ended up in an amazing 3 bedroom AirBnB for a fraction of what we would have paid at Disney that was 15 minutes away from the parks with traffic. It had a great view, pool, and gym so we didn't miss a beat. The perks of Disney property would be easier access to the parks (by bus or tram), round the clock meal service availability, and of course, being in the Disney magic 24/7. Maybe one day when I'm an attending... hahaha

4. Bring grandparents. 
Well on my budget they brought us...LOL My parents were in the park trenches with us, and we had a blast! This was clutch for having a back up plan if we were headed to a scary ride so that Nate and I didn't have to miss out.

Nate and I also went back out to Epcot after everyone else was exhausted from our day at Animal Kingdom. If you are traveling with little ones, the Park Hopper may be an unnecessary expense unless you have a sitter, because our kids were over it after one park. 

5. Download the DisneyGo app as soon as you get your tickets. 
It not only links your whole groups' tickets, it helps you get fast passes quickly, can manage dinner reservations, has park ours, can be your park map + itinerary, and helps you keep up with attraction wait times. They really did a great job with this...

6. Read up on Fast Passes and BOOK THEM EARLY. 
Below is a link to an explanation of Fast Passes, but not only is it nice to not have to wait in the long lines, but no matter how "mature" your child, Fast Passes help them not be so miserable. I think you can reserve them up to 30 days ahead of your trip. You get three in advance per day and then when you use those up, you can add them one at a time per person.

It works out best if you start with fast passes grouped earlier in the day.

Fastpass FAQs

We had an amazing spring break. But knowing what I know now, I can't wait to get us back and make our next trip even more memorable!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Spring Break 2018: Johnsons Do Disney!

This year, our family went to Orlando for spring break!! This is like the first non-inside-North-Carolina-or-Visiting-Family vacation we have had since I started residency. Actually, since Nate and I had our one year anniversary trip in 2011...

We met my parents in Orlando and we stayed in an AirBnB minutes away from Disney. We ended up getting two dedicated days at the Parks, swimming, good eating, and tons of family time. It was a dream and just what I needed.

We arrived after an overnight 9 hour drive. We had an awesome breakfast at a restaurant called KeKe's Breakfast Cafe and then met my parents at my grandpa's place while we waited for our AirBnB check in. My dad's dad travels to Florida every winter from Michigan and it was so nice to see him!

When it was time for check in, we were all so excited because the AirBnB spot was amazing! Message me if you want details.

We were exhausted though, so we got carryout dinner and fell asleep by the time Michigan was playing in the championship game. **Tough loss, but good season boys!**

9AM crowds. 
We got up around 6:30AM and got to Magic Kingdom by 9AM. The weather got  hot quickly and THE. CROWDS. WERE. INSANE. By lunch time the kids were done with me, but we powered through. Thanks to Fast Passes and good food, we were able to ride/see:

1. Jungle Cruise *first ride and first fast pass, we were sold on walking straight to the front haha 

2. Enchanted Tiki Room 

3. Aladdin's Magic Carpets *followed by DoleWhip YUM!*

4. Festival of Fantasy Parade

5. Mickey's Philharmagic *A 90s kid's dream!!*

6. Prince Charming's Carousel

*Lunch at Pinocchio's Village Haus*

7. Dumbo the Flying Elephant

8. The Barnstormer

9. Magic Teacups 

10. It's a Small World

11. Tomorrowland PeopleMover

12. Space Mountain

13. Happily Ever After Fireworks Show 

We ended up leaving around 10:30PM and we were exhausted. Especially the kids. Nate and Izza complained about the heat, the lines, the most fun rides being too scary, and the fireworks being too loud...🙃 

They were on sensory overload by lunchtime each day. I snapped a special collection of photos featuring little Nate being over it. I think I'm going to call it, "next time, save your money, Mom..." hahaha

We slept in and lounged by the pool. I got a work out in, but really I didn't need to because at Magic Kingdom we walked FIVE MILES.

At night we headed to Disney Springs for a Cuban themed Dinner at Bongos. So good!


So the newest and most talked about ride right now is Pandora: Flight of Passage. We could not get fast passes to this, so my plan was to get to it first thing. This meant we had to open the park. So we got up at 5AM and were at the gate by 7:15AM.

We were able to get done with the Flight of Passage ride by 8:30AM. The wait for the rest of the day was 3 hours. That was the best decision ever. That ride was probably one of the best rides any of us have ever been on. The kids, however, were scared. And said it was too loud :sigh:

Rest of the day, the weather was milder and the crowds were a little better until about 1PM, so we were able to ride/see:

1. Avatar: Flight of Passage

2. Avatar: Navi River Journey

3. Kilamanjaro Safari

4. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

*Lunch at Harambe Market*

5. Dinosaur 

6. It's Tough to Be a Bug

7. Festival of the Lion King

8. Expedition Everest 

After this, it was about 4:30PM and we headed back to our place. Isabelle slept the rest of the  night and Little Nate and my Mom watched Avatar. Big Nate and I went back out for a quick look at Epcot. I always thought it sounded boring, but it looked pretty cool!

Sadly, there wasn't enough time to check out the World Showcase, but we were able to check out Future World including the the Chevy Test Track and Soaring. It was also time for the annual flower festival which was gorgeous.

We spent our last day in the sun appropriately with a marathon pool day and some awesome poolside grilling by Nate. Seriously, the AirBnB was bomb.

We hit the road back to reality.

It was a great week. I'm so thankful for this trip... Sunday night I head back to work and I think I'm recharged enough to finish out these last two months of residency!!
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