My Very Disney Story
Well hello there! I’m a wife, mom, photographer and Disney nerd. This blog is designed to showcase our family’s Walt Disney World adventures and help others avoid the crazy theme park crowds, find the best places to stay, dine, and visit while in and around Walt Disney World Resort. You wont read words here like magical, or pixie dust- i tend to be more to the point and less about smoke and mirrors because, yes, Disney vacations are wonderful… but don’t let “magic” take all the credit!! Disney vacations are wonderful because of advance planning on your part (hard work of the fun variety), a positive attitude, and a great deal of effort made by of all the cast members! I hope you enjoy seeing our crazy, goofy adventures and create many of your own.
On Mission to Mouse you will find all my best tips and tricks to having a wonderful experience on your Disney World Resort vacation complete with pictures by yours truly, and what worked best for us! We found ourselves visiting Disney World so much, last year we bought Premium Annual Passes and it was such a great decision! It was our little mans last year at home before school started and we wanted to take full advantage of it, i mean, REALLY took advantage of it. Last year alone we spent over 60 days in the parks- which for Florida locals is probably a drop in the bucket (lucky, lucky, lucky!) but for North Carolinians it’s seen as a little crazy… and we’re good with that 😉 In those 60 days I took way too many photos- just kidding, no such thing- and i can’t wait to share them! Here you will find “Top 10” lists, best places to eat in Walt Disney World (you will learn rather quickly i’m mostly here for the food and beer!), best places to relax, best places to stay, RunDisney tips, Disney Resort reviews, tips for saving money at Disney World, and a large portion about the science of avoiding crowds in Disney World to find even more fun! I hope you find it helpful- if you’d like to learn more about our personal Disney style and story read below… i’ll try not to get too mushy on you 😉 I am not affiliated with the Disney company and this is a totally unofficial blog based on my personal experience at Walt Disney World and the wonderful memories our family has made at the Disney Parks!
About our vacation style: We are a family of 3- a hyper, coffee-loving, picture taking Mom, a hard-working, ready-to-relax on vacation Dad, and currently 7 year old boy who is never sleepy, exceptionally well-mannered, and loves Star Wars. Our biggest goal in visiting Walt Disney World has always been to go at a time when crowds will be low-ish and while there do our best to relax and go with the flow while seeing and doing as much as possible- you gotta get that bang for your buck, right? We have spent almost every anniversary at Disney World and it is a great place to celebrate- more on that here.
Onto Our Personal Disney Story
I grew up in a small coastal town in North Carolina in with my hard working, wonderful Mom. We had good family friends that visited Disney World every year, or every other year, and they would always bring me back souvineers! One year they brought me a Minnie-Mouse visor (this is the early 90’s after all… every kid needed a plastic visor), the next some Mickey pencils, and when i was older my very fist Disney Trading Pin!! It was Squirt from Finding Nemo and i wore it proudly on my cross-body purse strap until the Mickey pin back fell off. This one gift sparked a lifelong obsession with collecting Disney Pins but we’ll get to that later. As soon as i got a job at age 15 my goal every summer was to save up enough money to go to Disney World- but phone, car, and insurance for a new driver managed to eat up that “fund” every year. In the fall of 2007 i married David, the most loving and incredible man i have ever met. Yep, i’m lucky. I moved to his VERY small town in rural NC and we started our family! We became pregnant shortly after marriage and welcomed our little man in 2008. With such a crazy and busy first year of marriage almost behind us it was time for our one-year anniversary!! David told me we were going to take a quick trip to Myrtle Beach for our anniversary and apologized for it not being better- yada, yada. He’s sneaky. He informed me he scheduled a walking tour… so i should pack some good walking shoes and a backpack to hold our stuff on the tour. A walking tour? In Myrtle Beach? Being the trusting wife i am- i did just that. David’s brother, sister and our 3 month old little man all piled in the car to head to “Myrtle Beach” and as we were about to get on the interstate my sweet husband pulled into a gas station and told me we were heading to Disney World!!!!!! I’m quite certain i conducted myself in a completely dignified and calm manner- no screaming, or jumping out and running circles around the car here, that would just be crazy! 😉 I’m pretty sure there’s an embarrassing video of his sweet surprise around here somewhere and if i find it i’ll be sure to share it… just don’t blackmail me ok? Thanks 😉
So there it was, a lifelong dream realized. He somehow managed to plan an entire trip to Disney without me finding out and even arranged for his brother and sister to come along to watch after our little man, which they so sweetly agreed to and i am so grateful for that. We stayed offsite at a nearby hotel and we had 4 days to visit all the parks!! I was bursting with excitement!!! David and his family are Florida natives and had been to Disney World more times than they could count as children… but i like to think they were getting a pretty sweet contact high of excitement. Of course our first stop HAD to be Magic Kingdom!! Below illustrates pretty well where i was at that moment:
Just before this moment i may or may not have teared up… i’m not a crier, but finally being in front of that castle in the arms of the love of my life who so sweetly orchestrated this special moment for little old me, it was a lot to take in and be thankful for, i’m also not getting misty-eyed as at sit at the computer right now… 🙂
That fist day was amazing!!! And terrifying… i always wanted to go to Walt Disney world but not necessarily for the rides. By this point in my life i had only been on one roller coaster and hated it! So getting me on the rides took a little work and i nearly had a heart attack on all of the big Magic Kingdom rides, particularly Splash mountain, which happens to be my husbands favorite. And of course he documented my terror:
At least they started me off on an easy ride- Pirates of the Caribbean! I was concerned the whole time it was some kind of trick and there would be a huge drop at some point but all was well and even the little man loved it. Next was Thunder Mountain… still my favorite, and Space Mountain. I was pretty terrified on Space Mountain but on a positive note- i was screaming so horrifically that David and his brother laughed hysterically the entire ride… it’s good to get the giggles out, haha! If you’ve never been to Disney World don’t be nervous about the rides- i was being a baby and now i LOVE them- never fear- if i can do it so can your just-barely-tall-enough to ride 5 year old!
Then came the real challenge Space Mountain in Tomorrowland! This is the only trip we rented a Disney stroller rather than bringing our own, with an infant and 4 adults our Cadillac CTS was already bursting… in no world was our giant stroller fitting in there. The Disney stroller was great and we got a paper name plate that i saved as a Disney scrap booking souvenir.
Now.. the terror. Space mountain- my first big roller coaster.
Next up was Hollywood Studios! Now a braver, wiser, ride-rider we marched on! I loved all the old Hollywood style decor and cars around the park. It rained as it often does in Florida in the afternoon but that wasn’t about to slow us down.
If you are celebrating in Walt Disney World absolutely get a button to commemorate the occasion! It’s a great FREE souvenir and Cast Members will often see it and wish you Happy Anniversary and potential other perks!! Read more about that awesomeness here.
The next day we were off sans-baby (have i mentioned how awesome my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are?) to Animal Kingdom!!! This is possibly the park i was most excited about- i had been dying to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari ever since i saw it on a tv special on the travel channel as a teen!! I could not believe how close we were to the animals- it was absolutely incredible. This was back when the bridge rocked as you crossed it… scary stuff! 🙂 The giraffes were definitely my favorite, there was even a baby giraffe on this trip. We also rode Everest and Dinosaur- Everest is the big thrill ride for Animal Kingdom- and it’s awesome!
We explored the Asia portion of Animal Kingdom more and found our favorite lunch spot- the Yak & Yeti quick service counter- the seating is outdoors but the food is great and we have the best secluded spot to eat- you can find more info on the restaurant and our perfect lunch seating here. We often have a hard time choosing between Yak & Yeti and the awesome Barbecue at Flametree BBQ so we have one for lunch and one for dinner. Animal Kingdom is my favorite Park for food (i know, even over Epcot! That probably sounds crazy and controversial but it’s so good!) and Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to David and I’s favorite anniversary dinner spot Jiko- checkout our thoughts and review of Jiko here and our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge (dream come true) here.
This brings me to our final Park stop for our very first Disney World vacation- EPCOT!! I absolutely love Epcot- i’ve always loved history and science and i love food! There is something that interests me everywhere i turn in Epcot. It houses my favorite Disney World event, the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival which i heavily photograph and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon by RunDisney. This is the park where we met the most characters on that first trip.
That is the start of my love of Disney trips and the incredible moments and memories that come from these trips. Thanks for sticking with the long reading and not-so-professional photos from our early days. For the most part my posts will be educational with a light personal touch but it’s nice to share the personal story of how it all started. Thanks for reading! If you like please subscribe, comment, pin and share with friends!
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