Making memories whilst keeping it real…

This year for Christmas we decided to gift our kiddos memories vs more presents, and to be honest buying them presents would have been way cheaper, but the memories will last a lifetime (so “they” say). So, to Disney World we went. Now, mind you, we are California peeps and the kids have grown up in Disneyland on the West coast, so we decided to roll the dice and head East. We only had 3 full days there, short and sweet and had planned to visit only 2 parks. For one, not to overload the kids and us adults and be completely burnt and exhausted by day 3, but because of the meltdowns I was anticipating from everyone at some point, yes even the adults…lol. If you’re the trip planner of the family then you will understand this more than most. After going down rabbit holes, blogs, talking to friends and every opinion or lack there of from the immediate bunch, we decided to venture to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Third day would be a “chill” day where we could swim, shop, no agenda kind of day.

Magic Kingdom

Let me preface, I haven’t been to Magic Kingdom for decades and could not remember exactly the whole experience. What I have done is been to Disneyland more times then I can count. So, in my head Magic Kingdom was everything Disneyland is and more. Well. Read on. Now, if you’ve never been to Disneyland, then Magic Kingdom is going to be the best experience ever. But I have been ruined and my expectations are not of the standard apparently.

The day started rainy and cold. And to top it off, the youngest of the family decided to wear shorts against all suggestions to do otherwise. Now, you’re the parent, some might say to me. I’m also the parent that say’s, one must live with their decisions no matter how many times I may suggest otherwise. So, that was fun and a lesson in itself. I should have listened to MY MOM who kept instructing me to put an extra pair of leggings in my bag for my kid. Instead we all decided not to listen to our moms and suffer the consequences. Moral of the story here… always listen to your mom.

Now for the park. Im not sure what I expected. The park is exactly like Disneyland with way less food options, what felt like less rides and way less kiosks that serve up churros and pretzels. Clearly, we have an agenda when we visit anything Disney. Obviously it’s to eat. We did manage to go on rides, lighting lane is always a savior. They do have the classics and not to be missed rides like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean. We waited the longest for the new roller coaster ride 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, which if you like rollercoasters, its a must. Overall, it’s Disney magic still. We caught a parade, saw the firework show over the castle at night, ate copious amounts of popcorn, waited in long lines, breezed through others, stopped in every store imaginable on the hunt for kid sized sweatpants (which we never found) and left the park at 9:30 p.m cold, exhausted and done. Exactly how any full day adventure at a theme park should go. Would I visit it again, no. I would hands down go to Disneyland, if not only for the food, but also because I think the parks laid out a bit better with better rides and attractions.

Animal Kingdom

The second day we headed over to Animal Kingdom, which our only agenda for the day was a pretzel first thing (because we never found one at Magic Kingdom) and the avatar ride. Again, priorities. Before we went into the park, I prepared everyones mindsets, mainly mine and the kids, that we could potentially get rained on again, and we will poncho it up and make it the best adventure ever. So be prepared, but make it fun. Also, everyone was wearing appropriate clothing attire to not make the same mistake twice in a row. We were already winning!

We knew we would have to wait the longest for the avatar ride, we were mentally prepared for it, it was 90 minutes. We got snacks, the sun was out, and it was redemption day from the day before. Back on that Disney high. Can I just point out, when you start a vacation at a semi-low point because of crap weather, unhappy occupants and long hours; you can only go up from there. And up we went! Immediately walking into the park we were awed by some mystical creature-leaf woman who leaped and bounded her way like a half human – half praying mantis on stilts. This park had us all won over immediately. We’re either easily entertained or our expectations were set so so low. Either way, it was going to be a good day.

The avatar ride hands down is thee best ride ever. So good I wanted to cry, no but really I think the eyes might have gotten a little misty. Either from the actual mist that got sprayed at me or because I felt like I was flying through Pandora on my own dragon-ish kind of creature, we’ll never know. But you know it’s the best when your 14 year old, who started to complain about the wait, says “that was worth the wait for sure” when it’s all over. Win. We managed to schedule the rest of the rides and shows with our lightening lane, not having to wait more than 20 minutes for a ride, grabbing food in between, stopping to shop (where there was an abundance of kid size clothing and to our surprise, sweat pants that we now didn’t need) and to top it off run from one end to the park to the other in our ponchos during a torrential downpour just in time to catch the best rollercoaster ride ever. It was redemption to it’s finest.


it was an amazing, chaotic, core memory making, unpredictable, learning, thrill seeking and relaxing four days. Everything a family vacation is with kids and other adults. Its the – prepare yourself mentally, you may need a vacation from the vacation, but do you really? I’ve learned when traveling with many companions, especially those who are also your kids, nothing is going to change from the day to day. Just the location. You’re going to have sibling fights, hopefully a little less, you and your partner might get irritated with each other at some point, plans won’t always go as expected and so many things are out of your control, like the weather. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We will all remember this trip, the fun we had running through the rain, the ride that literally took our breath away, the late night swims in the pool, the game room at the Airbnb we rented, the surprise guest appearance by our chosen family from Cali and another family vacation in the books.

Would we do it again?

Looking forward, Probably not. And here’s why. Animal Kingdom by far was the best, and we didn’t make it to Epcot, although I’ve been there before decades ago. And oddly enough, you’d think we’d go where the food is, but I know my kids, and I didn’t think they would be into Epcot for one of the two days we were doing park adventures. What I did realize is that our kids are at the age where they are more into the rides and thrill rides at that. Between California’s Disneyland and Florida’s mega Disney park, for sure, in my humble opinion, you get more from California Disneyland. From food, to shopping to rides and theme parks, California is the place to go. It’s essentially everything Florida has except for Animal Kingdom and Epcot. The only two reasons I would ever visit Disney in Florida again.

Where we stayed

We rented an Airbnb in Davenport – which was about a 20 min drive to the parks and an hour drive to the Orlando airport. Perfect location off the resort area, close to grocery stores and restaurants. Everyone had their own bedroom and bathroom, the pool was heated and the game room was a hit. Worth the price for a party of 6. There are so many homes with themes, would highly recommend this option if you venture out this way!

xo, chelisa

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