Magic Toddlers at the Happiest Place on Earth

OMG, we went to Disneyworld.

In many ways, I continue to think we are nuts. I mean, we flew from the northwestern corner of the country to the southeastern corner, which means we spent two solid days on a plane. And I am convinced that one circle of hell is probably being trapped on an airplane with a toddler and no extra seat indefinitely. We also took a not quite two year old to one of the most crowded and overstimulating places on the planet. And we won’t mention how, if I start to dig at all, my politics and the great Disney machine come to blows pretty quickly.

But also, OMG it was SO MUCH FUN! Like, I’m not even kidding or pulling out moments of awesome in the midst of a total shit show. Like, there were issues, sure but also? SO MUCH FUN.

Getting there was NOT. Either due to his sensi pisces intuition or because we put the energy in the air, Ansel slept like shit the night before. We already had to get up at 4am to get to the airport for our flight, but he woke up every hour and a half up until then. At the airport, Ansel dumped his apple juice on my head when I put him on my shoulders to distract him from running around before we boarded the first flight. He napped from Seattle to Chicago for an hour or so, but then had to be contained for the rest of the flight and our third person seat mate spent a LOT of time staring at me while I nursed him in some attempt to keep him calm. We resorted to oreos at the end and it was rough. We had just enough time to eat lunch before we got on another plane. I was hopeful that Ansel would sleep most of this (very long) flight but . . .no. He didn’t. AT ALL. It was a mess and the free in-flight TV had nothing of any interest to him and there’s only so long a toddler can color with his Crayola Wonder Magic markers. Somehow, we made it to Orlando and collected our bags. But then we had to wait for our Uber to the hotel, and Orlando only has the super fancy ride sharing that is actually not ride sharing it’s just towncar companies using ride sharing platforms so we actually had to wait sooooo long and Ansel was done. He lost his shit like he has never lost it before. Just sobbing and screaming and pointing to the exit the entire, grueling 20 minute wait. And then L and I got snippy with each other because of course we did, we are all exhausted and our child is losing his shit, so why not be a little mean to each other?

We finally made it into the ride where Ansel promptly fell asleep. We got to our lovely 2 room suite hotel room where L’s mom was already waiting and checked in. We ate some pizza and I drank a rum punch and the bathtub in the room was the size of a spa and Ansel loved playing in the huge pool of bubbles. And rightness was restored to the world.

We spent the first day of vacation hanging out at the pool and taking a walk to the grocery for the things we inevitably left behind, as well as snacks and some discount Minnie mouse ears for the kid (because he saw them and his eyes widened and then he wouldn’t let them go!) It was a little too cold for it to be the perfect pool day (and the pool wasn’t quite heated as well as it should have been) but it was still a vast improvement over working and rain and screaming toddlers.

The next day we went to Epcot. Highlights: Ansel literally swooning over Minnie Mouse (she kissed his cheek and he held it tenderly while staring in awe at her) and having memories of early 1980’s Figment the Dragon come racing back. I mean, there is a lot of cool new stuff but also, things haven’t changed that much in 30 (!!) years. We transferred from the sweet two room hotel to the Disney resort (budget!) which wasn’t as nice but gave us a discount at the parks.

Next up was day #1 in the Magic Kingdom. We started the day off with a giant lollipop, rode the Jungle Cruise (OMG, this is only the starting point for a post I want to write about the awful casual racism of Disneyworld. UGH.) and the magic carpets and dumbo and the teacups and It’s a Small World and the carousel and some other stuff I can’t recall. Ansel loved it so much. He didn’t tantrum or lose his shit until just moments before we were leaving around 5pm, which is especially impressive since the only nap he got was a 30 minute snooze in my arms while we ate dinner at the Lady and the Tramp Italian place. His joy was incredible.

Day 4 was spent at Hollywood studios which was a big meh. Probably would be more interesting for folks who are super into Star Wars or movies in general. We did go to a Character Brunch with the Disney jr. characters and Ansel LOVED Doc McStuffins, so that was fun. L’s mom and I rode the Tower of Terror which was also a good time (questionable whether it was a 45 minute wait’s worth of good time but, that’s how these things go) and the Toy Story ride gets a huge thumbs up but probably not our family’s choice next time.

Last day we went back to the Magic Kingdom, this time with a better game plan. Having worked out a better strategy for using the “fast passes” and planning to catch things like the parade made the day even more successful. We also managed to get Ansel to snag a nap in the carrier while we did some low key rides which I think helped immensely. Again, he lost it a little right around dinner time, but it was a much smaller and more reasonable tantrum and honestly, we were all pretty done at that point.

Travel home was significantly easier. We caught the bus from the Disney resort to the airport, Ansel slept basically the entire first flight from Florida to Denver, and on the last leg home we had a seat between us which gave him some additional room to hang out and do his thing. Which isn’t to say I wasn’t very excited to see my own bed in my own house.

Sleep was mediocre for the whole of the trip. Ansel slept about 50% of most nights in a pack and play (in our room at the first hotel, in a cove by the bathroom in the second hotel) and about 50% in bed with me. I nursed him to sleep, since our attempts at just putting him down failed on night #1 and we weren’t willing to keep trying. This was effective but not ideal, since I sleep like shit with Ansel at home, but especially when I’m in a crappy hotel bed.

Overall – two thumbs up. Highly recommend. Maybe would be harder without a magic toddler? Maybe always get the two room suite hotel even if it’s more expensive? Maybe we won’t do this again until Ansel and Tiny are much older?


5 thoughts on “Magic Toddlers at the Happiest Place on Earth

  1. Dis has become our go-to vacation. On our first trip Z was about that age and our experience was the same. As he gets older it only gets easier. We’ve found its the place where we all have fun and let our guard down for a week. Expensive as heck and totally worth it for us to have a vacation experience we all three enjoy. I agree with your assessment of the 1950s racism they haven’t let go of….and I don’t love the early princesses at.all. However, Doc McStuffins, Elsa (I’m sure she’s family – she’s my Wife’s cartoon crush) and much of their new stuff is making strides I can get behind. Also, the fact that they identify our family every.damn.time as a family. For that I am eternally grateful. On our first trip as a family (without my extended family) at a character dinner in epcot Pluto pointed out each of us and then mimed a heart to indicate that he appreciated our family. It was adorable.

  2. I need more information! We’ve never been and we’re planning to go in October. Yes, I realize RR is not a toddler…but sometimes she needs exactly the same care and feeding if you know what I mean.

  3. You are so brave. SO BRAVE. We spent about 8 hours at Disneyland with Charlotte before all of our heads exploded and we went running for the car. I cannot imagine flying across the country and doing it for days. (PS–next time, Disneyland is a lot closer–just sayin’…)

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