WDW trip review: September 2014

It's been a very long year and 8 months since our last trip, and we've been counting down since we booked this vacation in early spring! The baby had only just turned a year old the last time we were here, so now that he's 2-and-three-quarters, he has a much greater appreciation of everything.

Tuesday, 9/9 -

We arrived in Orlando by 9:10am. We just love that we can fly directly to Orlando from home! We had to get up before 5am in order to get ourselves ready to go on time, but it is totally worth it. And another bonus: our flight was only 1/3 full.

One very, very happy boy!

We went to the Disney's Magical Express gate, where we walked onto our resort bus without waiting. Since we had booked this ahead of time, we did not have to pick up our luggage first. Disney took it to our resort room for us. We love this free service!

For fun, we are splitting our stay between two great resorts: Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Disney's Beach Club Resort. These two resorts are both located in an area called the Disney Boardwalk. (There is a third resort at the Boardwalk called Disney's Yacht Club Resort, but we prefer the other two.) We absolutely love the Disney Boardwalk because of its fun atmosphere - especially at night - and its proximity to Epcot. In fact, you can walk to Epcot; no need to take a bus! There are many fantastic restaurants at Epcot where we like to eat, so it's really convenient to stay so close.

The Disney Boardwalk: Can I please just live here?

We're starting out our stay at the Boardwalk Inn.

Our room was ready when we arrived, which was especially great considering it was only 10am and the rooms aren't normally ready until after 4pm. We dropped a few carry-on bags in our room and headed out.

Lunch was at Beaches & Cream, which is a 50s-style diner located at the Beach Club resort. We got traditional beach fare - hot dogs and hamburgers, topped off with Mickey Mouse ice cream sundaes for the boys.

After lunch, we walked into Epcot to ride Soarin'. We had 'pre-booked our FastPass+ before we arrived, so we knew we'd be able to get right on this popular ride. Head Honcho and the older Mouseketeer got on Soarin' while the younger Mouseketeer and I went on Living with the Land, which is a boat ride. Afterward, we went back to the resort so he could have a nap. We stopped in the Boardwalk Bakery so I could buy my refillable mug ($18 for the mug and free refills for the length of your stay).

Then it was a quick stop at the gift shop to pick up a few things for the room. We also bought the baby a Duffy Bear, which we have been promising him for a while. We bought his big brother a Duffy Bear when we were here for his 5th birthday, and he still sleeps with it every night. Now the little guy has his own Duffy!

Head Honcho stayed in the room while the baby Mouseketeer went down for a nap, and I took the big boy to the pool.

The Luna Park Pool at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

There is a great water slide at this pool!

After pool time, we got the baby up from his nap and headed back into Epcot. We had FastPass+ to the Character Spot, which is an attraction where you can meet Mickey, Minnie, and friends. He has been looking forward to meeting the characters for ages and was very, very happy to finally hug Mickey!

Following this, we walked to the Italy pavilion in the World Showcase for a wonderful dinner at Via Napoli.This is always a favorite of ours.

Do you think this will be enough?

We had our third FastPass+ booked to ride the Maelstrom after dinner. The Maelstrom is a boat ride in the Norway pavilion, and it's one of my favorites. (Sadly, this will be the last trip we'll be able to ride the Maelstrom because it's being replaced with a Frozen ride.) Afterward, we walked to the front of the park to ride Spaceship Earth - the ride inside the Epcot "ball" - to finish off the evening. We crashed early because we had all been up since before the sun!

Wednesday 9/10 -

There are few things better than that first morning waking up on Disney property. Baby Mouseketeer was up early and so excited to get going! Big brother would have slept a little later if not for his baby brother's very loud wake-up call. The boys had a quick breakfast in the room (leftover pizza from last night's dinner!) and we headed down to the resort bus stop to catch our bus to the Magic Kingdom. Once again, we timed it perfectly; the Magic Kingdom bus was waiting when we arrived, so we walked right on!

Then we were off to the Magic Kingdom!

We arrived at 9am, so we were able to ride It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, and the Haunted Mansion all before our first FassPass+ time window, which was for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 10:35am. Head Honcho and Big Mouseketeer rode that while I took Baby Mouseketeer on the carousel. He was just a tiny bit too short for the Mine Train. We are considering putting him in an extra pair of thick socks to see if we can get him on next time!

Afterward, Head Honcho and the boys went on the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups (I can not handle this ride), and then we all went on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Dumbo. It was time for lunch with Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace after that.

After we said goodbye to Eeyore and the gang, we walked onto the Little Mermaid ride (another FastPass+ we had booked ahead of time - love that!).

Head Honcho took Baby Mouseketeer back to the resort for his nap, which Big Brother and I rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train again, as well as Space Mountain. Then he was ready for another dip in the pool, so we headed back to the Boardwalk.

At dinner time we walked back into Epcot to Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada pavilion. Then it was back to our resort for an evening swim before bed.

Thursday 9/11 -

Today we started off at Epcot. We were able to ride Soarin', Living with the Land, Finding Nemo, Test Track, Journey into the Imagination with Figment, and the Grand Fiesta Tour all without waiting. It was fantastic!

Lunch was at San Angel Inn inside the Mexico pavilion. This is one of our favorites because of its unique atmosphere. Where else can you dine beside a pyramid and volcano?

Head Honcho and the older Mouseketeer had FastPass+ to Mission Space and Test Track, so they went on to ride while the baby and I headed back to the Boardwalk for naptime. We passed Duffy on the way back, so we all stopped in to say hello first.

Let me just take a moment to talk about how much I love being within walking distance of Epcot.

We have stayed at a number of Disney resorts: The Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk, and Beach Club. They have all been wonderful, but every time we did not stay in one of the Epcot resorts, we missed it. We love the back entrance into the park for the resort guests, which is never crowded. We love the freedom of walking in and out of Epcot any time, without having to wait for a bus.

Plus, the walk is truly a pleasant one!

The walkway between Epcot and the Boardwalk resorts
Now, let's talk about the rest of Thursday.

We had dinner reservations at Boma, a wonderful African buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort has a special place in our hearts because we have stayed here three times - twice before we had children and once when we came to Disney with two other families. It's such a beautiful, quiet, unique resort, and we always try to book a meal at one of the restaurants there so we have an excuse to visit!

The beautiful lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma: Flavors of Africa

After dinner, we caught a bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Epcot. We rode Spaceship Earth (at Baby Mouseketeer's request) on our way through, then walked back to our resort. I picked up the older Mouseketeer's birthday cake from the Boardwalk Bakery, and then we put the baby to bed. Big brother and I went down to the pool for another evening swim.

Another great day!

Friday 9/12 -

It's the big Mouseketeer's birthday today!

He has celebrated his birthday at Disney twice before, so he knew the drill. On went the special "It's My Birthday!" mouse ears and his birthday button.

Side note: ALWAYS wear a birthday button if it's your birthday at Disney World. People will go out of their way to wish you a happy birthday, and Disney cast members often give out treats to make you feel extra special!

We also had matching tshirts to wear on his birthday:

We set our alarms early so we could get down to the bus stop by 7:15am. We had an 8:05am breakfast reservation at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. This is a character breakfast with Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy. It's also a really delicious buffet!

I like buffets.

And since the waitress noticed it was our boy's birthday, she brought him a little treat after the meal. (Remember what I said about wearing that birthday button?!) He received a birthday cupcake and a birthday card signed by all the characters at the meal.

After breakfast, we used our FastPass+ to ride Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, and Kilimanjaro Safari. In between rides, we occupied the baby at the Boneyard play area in Dinoland. Loads and loads of fun!

We headed back to the resort and picked up pizza and sandwiches from the Boardwalk. I had also ordered a little birthday cake from the Boardwalk Bakery, so we had a mini-party in the room.

Baby Mouseketeer had a nap and once again I took Big Brother down to the pool. He enjoyed going down the slide and participating in the daily pool party yet again, which included pool games and prizes.

Then it was off to dinner at Chef Mickey's inside Disney's Contemporary Resort. This was another of our boy's birthday requests. He just loves this character buffet! While you eat, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto all stop by your table separately. Even though my big boy understands the characters "are just people dressed up," he still gets caught up in the magic of Disney and genuinely enjoys it. And I'm so glad, because I am in no rush for him to grow up!

After we finished dinner, Big Mouseketeer and I went on to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party while Head Honcho took the little guy back to the resort for bedtime.

This was the second time we had done the Halloween Party, and it won't be our last! It is well worth the extra money (you must pay for a Halloween Party ticket on top of your park admission). Everyone is encouraged to dress up and trick-or-treat around the Magic Kingdom. Lines are short (or nonexistent) so you can just walk right onto your favorite rides. There are a lot of "rare" characters out and about. There's a special fireworks show and parade. And there are other perks as well, like dance parties with the Disney Villains, special Halloween Party snacks and souvenirs, and tons more. The Halloween party is from 7pm until midnight, and we stayed until 11:30! I couldn't believe he made it that late (I can't believe I made it that late!)

We dressed up as Finn and Princess Bubblegum from the cartoon Adventure Time.

We had a ball!

We both crawled into our beds back at the resort well after midnight. It's been a while since I've been out that late!

The rest of our trip pretty much went the same way as the first four days, so I'll spare you the details of every meal and ride. The main difference was that we move from Disney's Boardwalk Inn to Disney's Beach Club Resort.

The Beach Club is literally across the lagoon from Boardwalk, so we didn't have far to go. We checked out of Boardwalk early Saturday morning, gave bell services our luggage, and headed to Hollywood Studios. Disney transported our bags to Beach Club for us, without charge, so when we finished up at the park after lunch, we went to Beach Club to check in to our new room.

We love the Beach Club. We have stayed at this resort more than any other on Disney property. It's got such a peaceful atmosphere, it's walking-distance to Epcot, and in my opinion it's got the best pool at Disney.

Beach Club lobby

The resort beach, with the Disney Boardwalk in the background

A great nightly tradition at Beach Club: a free Disney movie on the beach, with an excellent view of fireworks

We watched the fireworks from our pool one night

When we moved into our new room at the Beach Club, it felt like we were going home.

So I'll conclude this post with some (a lot) of photos to summarize our trip.

We love Pineapple Dole Whips!

Soft serve ice cream from a kiosk in France (EPCOT) is perfect for an evening stroll through the World Showcase!

Evening activities at Disney's Beach Club Resort

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