I'm shivering away today in chilly, windy Michigan, slippers on my feet, hot cup of coffee in my hand, and it's hard to believe just last week we were enjoying sunny, 85 degree Orlando weather.
We spent a week there with my parents, brother & SIL, and my nephews and niece. We stayed off the resort in a huge rented house in Reunion (plenty of space for all of us, making it a really good deal). This was our kids' third time to Disney (Mady's second). We also visited the new LegoLand too.
Last time we went, Mady was just about to turn one so it's safe to say she didn't really experience much of the magic (I think she spent most of the trip passed out in the stroller). This time around, I think she was the one who enjoyed it the most. Everything was new and exciting, and they're not kidding when they say it's the most magical place on earth.
Dole Whip // One of my favorite questions to ask in the van on the way home from the parks each day was what was your favorite ride? My mom chimed in on the way home from Magic Kingdom one day with "Dole Whip!" We told her that wasn't really a ride, but I think its cult-like following allows it to count in the attraction category. Dole Whip is basically pineapple soft serve that can be served float style with pineapple juice. The ice cream part makes it a treat, the pineapple juice means it can legitimately count as breakfast. You can find Dole Whip in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom.
Toy Story Mania // Easily one of the most popular rides at Disney (possibly because there aren't a ton of other kid-centered attractions at Hollywood Studios), Toy Story Mania is one of our family's favorites. This year, we arrived at Hollywood Studios around 10:30 in the morning, went straight to the Fast Pass line and the Fast Pass times were already well into the evening. Because we were at Hollywood Studios on our last day, Toy Story Mania ended up being our last ride of the vacation. I rode with Mady who is now tall enough to do most rides although I wasn't sure if she would like it (she's not always a fan of dark, loud, and jerky). Happy to report she didn't just like it, she LOVED it. As did my parents. Fun for all ages.
The Barnstormer // The Barnstormer is a new kiddie rollercoaster in the circus portion of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom (parts of Fantasyland are still under construction but it looks like it's going to be pretty amazing). Mady was tall enough to ride, and again, I was waiting for her to kind of hate it, but it was one of the best moments of the trip. She laughed and laughed as the wind blew through her hair, pressed up against me. She promptly requested to do it again...and again... (and the lines weren't too bad either).
Dumbo! // Dumbo The Flying Elephant has always been a sentimental favorite because I once made my brother wait in line with me for an hour to ride (I was 6, he was 11). This time around, however, Dumbo is new and improved, part of the revitalized Fantasyland. In some stroke of Disney genius, instead of waiting in line, there is now a big play area that you enter. They give you a pager, much like at a restaurant, and then the kids can play while the adults can sit (in air conditioning) and then they page you when it's your turn to ride. There are two Dumbo rides now too which means more people can ride at once. We did this one twice and it was pretty magical, particularly at night.
Splash Mountain // Splash Mountain is always a favorite (found in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom) and it's been fun experiencing it all over again with Dylan and Ella. Ella is a thrill seeker...Dylan often has to be bribed. In the end, he was glad he went, and I enjoy how much pre-ride there is before the actual five-story splash. I'm also sentimental about the ride because I remember my mom taking us to see the re-release of Song of the South in 1986. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-day!
The Three Caballeros // It's official name is Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, and you're likely to miss it if you're not looking for it. My parents happen to own a VHS copy of the 1944 Disney film, The Three Caballeros, so we all find this ride particularly hilarious. You can find it in the Mexico section of the World Showcase and it's basically a boat ride through Mexican history featuring Donald Duck and his pals Panchito, the Mexican rooster, and José Carioca, a Brazilian parrot. I could go on and on, but I think you really must experience it for yourself to understand the magic. Don't let the fact that there's never a line fool you. This is one of the finest rides around.
Honorable Mention // Soarin', Peter Pan's Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror & Muppet Vision 3-D.
I'd love to hear: what's your favorite Disney ride?