Last year, my husband and I were proud to gift our children with their very first visit to Disney World. As a result of the memories we created, the amazing things we saw, and the opportunities we had, this was by far the best vacation we have ever taken. Let me break down some of the best moments for you…
We stayed at animal Kingdom Lodge, which was an African-themed resort. Our room had a “savannah view,” which meant that we could watch the African animals outside from the comfort of our room’s balcony!
The view was beautiful, and we could not get enough.
The inside of the hotel was amazing as well–complete with African touches, such as rope bridges and animal prints.
We were lucky to have an animal caricature drawing done of the boys toward the end of our stay. The artist worked inside our hotel, and we caught him just in time to draw us a masterpiece that hangs in our living room today:
Our favorite restaurant in Disney World was even located inside our hotel. It was called Boma and was a buffet-style restaurant that served exotic African foods. But, the kids were most excited about the Mickey Mouse waffles!
Speaking of food, we were greatly impressed by the service at Disney World–especially since I have Celiac Disease. Not only was it easy for me to eat out at restaurants there, I felt normal!
There was so much that I could eat that I felt comfortable and unembarrassed of my condition.
We even found a bakery that was entirely gluten free! I was ecstatic, and we ended up getting way too many treats from there…but it was so worth it!
It is probably a no-brainer by now that my favorite Disney park is Animal Kingdom. Nothing, no matter how magical or wonderful, could compare in my mind to an entirely animal-themed park. Our favorite ride was the Kilimanjaro Safari, where we where we were taken on a wild African excursion with close-up encounters of real animals. We were told to go early, when the animals would be fed…and we were not disappointed by the breath-taking animals we encountered.
There were other aspects of Animal Kingdom that made it fun, too. We saw a fun parade one afternoon, complete with dancing animals and wild, African-themed floats.
We saw a “Finding Nemo” play on a whim and were extremely impressed with the work that went into this piece. Actors and actresses dressed in garb that matched their character, as they maneuvered sea puppets with intricate backdrops. The kids were captivated throughout the entire performance, and so were we!
We saw some unexpected performances on the streets of Animal Kingdom, but the one that stood out the most was the “bush lady,” as we would call her. She was completely silent but looked just like a living plant. She moved in fluid ways, camouflaging herself amongst the scenery of Animal Kingdom. We watched her for some time. She was beautiful in an indescribable way. I tried to get Jesse to go up to her for a picture, but I think the mysterious way that she had was a bit much for him.
Surrounding the Animal Kingdom park with its splendid beauty and breathtaking symbolism is none other than the tree of life. Standing in the distance, the figure cannot help but catch your eye. The roots and trunk are formed of countless animals, displaying togetherness of our species. Trails lead around the tree, showing its roots and animal carvings. The boys enjoyed the little scavenger hunt of finding the many animals that were hidden in the woodwork.
We made a brief stop in Downtown Disney in the midst of our vacation, basically for the purpose of seeing the Lego store. Both of our boys love Legos, and we knew they would love seeing the many scenes that the Lego store would hold. They were more than surprised, however, to find a Lego sea monster in the lake nearby!
Magic Kingdom held the key to Disney World. This is truly where the magic is held. The castle was a must-see, and so were the fireworks and Electrical Parade…
There were the unexpected aspects with this park as well, such as a mid-day performance at the castle that we were not aware of and a street party that we knew nothing about. Both turned out to be a ton of fun, and we were more than happy to have experienced them.
Another item on our agenda was the Story Time with Belle. We thought that this would be a cute little experience for the boys to interact in, but we never would have dreamed that the magical wardrobe would pick Jesse as The Beast! Jesse danced with Belle herself, and they lived happily ever after…
The day was scorching hot, but we weathered the fire and continued on to see the sights. We were pleased to find out that the Flower and Garden Festival was taking place during our visit so we had the bonus treat of seeing the plant sculptures on display:
When we decided to journey to Disney World, it was very much a spur-of-the-moment choice. The boys seemed the right age; we could afford it; and now was as good of a time as any to go. We traveled for 2 days each way by van, dealt with our setbacks; and made it to and from our destination unscathed. Was it worth the time, effort, and money? More than you could ever imagine. The memories that were created and the look on my boys’ faces overrides any hardships we came upon along the way. Disney World was our destination, and it became our best vacation to date…