Jason and I have been talking about taking the children to Disney World for over a year. With the five year age gap between Ryder and Gemma, we wanted to wait until they were all the right ages to experience the magic. Both of us have been to Disney World as kids, and last year, we took the kids to Disney Land for a quick one day trip. After we came home, I remember feeling overwhelmed and as if we had done that day in the park all wrong, so I was determined to learn from that experience. I started making plans three months in advance, which is still too late and I suggest starting six months out.
After debating over the right time frame to book our getaway, we settled on Saturday to Wednesday, before Thanksgiving. While I wanted the kids to fully enjoy Disney, it was equally important that the time away also feel like a vacation for Jason and I. We work hard, and pretty much spend many weeks on separate coasts, so I wanted this trip to be just right.
Since it opened its doors on Disney property last year, I’ve had my eye on the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. After keeping this trip a surprise from the kids for nearly three months, we finally decided to tell them a few days before we left. We arrived early Saturday morning to the gorgeous grounds, and were greeted by the super friendly staff. They offered the kids their own tote bag, filled with a map of the resort, and a passport book, which they were asked to have stamped at the different shops and attractions around the property. Once they received all their stamps, they would be given free ice cream. Siella and Ryder were psyched with this challenge, and carried their books everywhere we went.
Just as we checked-in, Gemma wound up falling asleep in the stroller, so we decided to let her nap, while we toured the resort. We headed to over to their kids club known as, Kids For All Seasons, which definitely was a sight to see. Housed in The Mansion, which looks like a castle there was a large playground which offers monkey bars, slides, climbing equipment as well as foosball table, pool table and that’s just part of it. There is even a section indoors called The Hideout, which is a fun spot for the kids to play their favorite video games, as well as interactive touch screen tables. The Kids For All Seasons is a complimentary camp for children ages 4 to 12, and while Ryder and Siella were old enough to be dropped off there, we all wound up having a fun time playing together while Gemma napped.
Our next stop was PB&G restaurant perched outdoors right on a scenic lake. Prior to arrival, I called the hostess about Ryder’s gluten allergy, and they provided a gluten free menu for him to choose from. I’ve noticed it puts him much more at ease, when restaurants can accommodate this restriction, because he doesn’t feel left out.
After lunch, we made our way to the Splash Zone. The shallow pool was just ideal for all three kids, with no shimmies required. And they couldn’t get enough of the choreographed interactive fountain as it blasts out water into the air every so often. The pool staff came around every half hour to our area to offer sweet treats, like frozen fruit, chocolate covered strawberries and bite size ice cream bars, which was such a nice touch.
The Four Seasons Resort has five different pool areas; the kids’ splash zone, a lazy river, a family pool, a water slide section, and an adults only pool. Jason and Ryder hit the slides, while the girls and I lounged at the family pool. There were lots of other children on the grounds for the kids to chat with about their Disney experiences.
After the pool, we showered up our Park View Suite, before we headed to dinner. Dinners on the Disney property are not just a meal, they are an experience filled with all the characters and princesses imaginable.
When I started planning our Disney vacation, every one of these Princess dining experiences were completely booked, which was upsetting, because these are the times from my Disney trips that I remember most vividly as a child. I did some research, and contacted Beth from Disney With Children, who helped me with reservations. She planned which days we would go to the parks, and where to eat.
A few days before flying to Florida, luckily some restaurants had cancellations and we were able to get in on these dining experiences. Our first princess dinner was at 1900 Park Fare, located in the Grand Floridian Hotel. With the cast of Cinderella visiting our table during the meal, it made for a great warmup, before our trip to the Magic Kingdom in the morning.
With full bellies, and autograph books filled with signatures from the Cinderella characters, we strolled around the lobby shops, before calling it an early night. Just before we headed back to our room, we stopped at Lickety-Split in our hotel lobby for some gelato.
Our room at the Four Seasons overlooked the parks, so we had a crystal clear view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. We all watched the fireworks on our balcony in our pajamas, which couldn’t have been more magical. What a first day! Ryder, Siella, and Gemma were so excited, they could hardly fall asleep. They kept talking about dinner, and what character they hoped to see tomorrow.
To be continued….more about the tour guide I hired for Magic Kingdom, Dining at Cinderella’s Castle, our day at Epcot, and our Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy & His Pals character at the Four Seasons Hotel.