Thursday, June 2, 2016

BABY "X-FACTOR"... "2.0"

   It was over 5 years ago, that I wrote about the "X-Factor" trip - our first WDW trip with a toddler.  It was the trip with our only (at the time) Grandchild, and I just was not sure how it would turn out.  With some good planning, and good fortune, it turned out to be a great trip, and our little 15 month old "Grandy #1" did really well.  She would fall asleep in the stroller, and wake up in a great mood.  It all went pretty smooth.
Grandy #1 - Jan. 2011 - Mission accomplished!

   It was now time for the "rematch" with Grandy #2.  She was 8 months older than her big Sister was for her first WDW trip.  She had been to Disneyland 8 months before this trip, and we were veterans of multiple WDW visits.  We had plenty of confidence, but still, you just never know!  Daddy had to work, and would not be with us on this visit, so it was just "Grandpa Dan & his 4 Sweeties"!

The group for the May 2016 trip
   We got a non-stop flight and went for it!  I would say that non-stop is the only way to fly when you have a younger child.  We didn't have to go through the boarding process twice, and a taste of freedom could have been hard on her.  She did great, a little bit of crying was hardly noticed, since we were on a plane full of kids heading to Orlando.  She pretty much just blended in, and really didn't fuss very much!  Step 1: GETTING THERE.  No problem!

    Her little body clock adapted pretty well, and she was up and running for our few rope drop days.  Since our first 2 nights were at The Polynesian Village resort, we took advantage of being so close to The Magic Kingdom and started the trip with an arrival evening, and a Sunday "Rope Drop" spent at MK.

The "First Ride Look" never gets old, and Big Sister STILL has it!
   Our first Grandy had her first ever WDW ride on The Gran Fiesta Tour at Epcot, and we never forgot that.  For Grandy #2, her first ever WDW ride was The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, we will always remember that now!

   The "Rider Switch" (aka "Baby Swap") worked to our older Granddaughter's advantage, giving her back-to-back rides on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for her first time on the new coaster! Grandma got a 2nd ride too!  It was a great evening which included a little dancing with Frozone & The Incredibles in Tomorrowland at the Dance Party.
We told our older Grandy to "thank" her little Sister for that 2nd ride!

   The next morning's Rope Drop went smooth.  And after hitting 5 straight "walk on" rides, it was time for lunch at Be Our Guest, and then we stuck to our game plan, and went back to the Polynesian.  Grandy #2 (& Mommy) had a nice little nap, while Grandy #1 got some pool time with Grandpa & Grandma.  Then a refreshed Mommy was able to take Grandy #1 back to the MK, while Grandpa/Grandma rested with Grandy #2.  We then met up for a wonderful dinner at The Grand Floridian Cafe, and then a nice early evening after dinner stroll from The Grand Flo back to The Poly.
Beach time at The Polynesian is fun  ...even if you can't go into the water!

Minnie was so glad we came to see her again!
    After our 2nd and last night at The Polynesian Village, we took our luggage to Bell Services for transport to The Boardwalk, and headed out to Chef Mickey's.  This was one of those "Should we or Shouldn't we" parts of the trip planning.  We just didn't know how Grandy #2 would react to those gigantic characters, but we decided to go for it.  So glad we did!

Yes, she wasn't too thrilled about having the characters come up close to her, but as long as there was a little distance between them, she was fine, waving and clapping along with everyone else in the place.  Of course Grandy #1 loved reuniting with the "Fab Five".  It turned out to be a highlight of the trip!

   After Breakfast, we bused it over to Disney Hollywood Studios.  Another attraction we weren't too sure about was The Frozen Sing-A-Long.  We just weren't sure how well the little one would do waiting in the Queue area and then sitting through a show.  Hey, it's FROZEN! C'mon now, she did great!  Both girls were fascinated with the show, and a little air conditioning goes a long way in making your touring day pleasant!
Do you think "Grandy #2" was awestruck by the Frozen Sing-A-Long?
   We enjoyed using our fast passes, Star Tours was down, so they gave us a fastpass for other attractions, and we headed for The Great Movie Ride.  "Baby X-Factor 2.0" loved it!  We thought the Alien section might scare her, but... no problem!
Not only was she not "scared"... she LOVED The Great Movie Ride!

   After a nice time at The Studios, we took the walk over to The Boardwalk to check in to our room, and get some dinner.  The Boardwalk (like The Polynesian) was a first for all of us, and we were greeted with a little surprise.
Pool View was a nice surprise!

We booked a standard 1 BR villa, but were given a Pool/Water view room on the top floor, and it was wonderful!  They brought us our luggage, and groceries from Garden Grocer, and we were all settled in.  Dinner at Big River Grille, and a nice dip in the pool.  A great day.

   It was Epcot Flower & Garden Festival time,  we weren't sure how our stroller girl would do spending hours roaming around Epcot's World Showcase.  She passed another test.  She didn't care much for the offerings from the food booths, but as long as she had her snacks to nibble on, she was a happy camper.  She was rewarded with rides on Journey into Imagination with Figment, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.  Her big Sister was rewarded with back-to-back rides on Test Track thanks to the "Rider Switch", and Grandpa got in on that!  A Fast Pass for Spaceship Earth and we were ready to head back to The Boardwalk.
Plenty of water is always important at WDW!
   We didn't have an ADR for Via Napoli, but we figured on the way out we'd give it a try, and we were able to snag a table for that amazing Pizza and Pasta!

   Wed. was our "non-park" day, so we headed over to Disney Springs.  Lunch at Morimoto Asia was wonderful.  Grandy #2 handled it pretty well, Lap Napkins and Chopsticks can be pretty fun!  The food was great, and we spent most of the day wandering around this newly renovated Shopping/Dining/Entertainment district.  They have done a great job and there is still more additions going on.
Chopsticks are FUN!

   We made it back in time to get a table at Trattoria Al Forno on The Boardwalk for dinner.  We went up to our room and enjoyed sitting out on the balcony talking and enjoying the view.

   Thursday was our Animal Kingdom day.  We got there early enough to do a "Rope Drop" and were able to do two rides on Expedition Everest before our first fast pass time arrived.  I made sure to pick FP+'s that our little Grandy #2 could enjoy.  Kilimanjaro Safari, It's Tough to be a Bug, and a FP for The Festival of the Lion King were all good picks that the whole group could enjoy.  Lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, a ride on Triceratop Spin, and we were ready to head over to The Boneyard.
The kids really "dig" this place!
   This is a must for anyone with little ones.  Slides, bridges, a big sandpit with plastic shovels and buckets.  Both Grandys loved every minute of exploration here.  Another must for little ones is Rafiki's Planet Watch.
You ride a train over to it, and it has animal exhibits that little ones just can't get enough of.
Little ones can't get enough time at the petting zoo

We even got to meet Rafiki his self! 
The petting zoo is a must for kids of all ages, and if you are really into wildlife, there are cast members who can answer all of your questions about the whole park.

   We had a 4:20pm ADR for Beaches & Cream at The Beach Club, so we headed over to The Beach Club Resort for our dinner.  This place is colorful, and fun for the whole family.  Good diner food, and awesome ice cream treats are their specialty.  Famous for it's "Kitchen Sink Sundae" which is made with 8 scoops of ice cream, every topping in the house, and a whole can of whipped cream! 
The "No Way Jose"
Along with some brownies, nuts, and other goodies, all served in an actual... "Kitchen Sink"!  We didn't have enough stomachs for the Kitchen Sink, but we did share a "No Way Jose Sundae" (Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Fudge & Peanut Butter).
Grandpa made a great hammock on the bus!

   We strolled around and enjoyed the charm of The Boardwalk/Beach Club/Yacht Club area before heading back to the room.

   Friday was our last full day of the trip.  We wanted to go back to Epcot for some more Flower & Garden Festivities.  Lunch consisted of treats from the different food booths around The World Showcase. We were amazed at how uncrowded the lines were for the food booths compared to the annual Food & Wine Festival.  Even though there aren't nearly as many booths, the lines are practically non-existent and that's really a plus.

Grandpa invited Grandy #2 to watch boxing with him

...but she preferred to watch cartoons with Grandma!

   Grandpa & Grandma were a little worn out, but not too tired to trek back to Epcot and see The Spinners in Concert at the American Gardens Theater.  Mama entertained the kiddos while the oldsters were enjoying some classic pop sounds!

Grandma & Grandpa ready for The Spinners!
What a great way to end a fantastic WDW trip!

    Saturday was our departure day, but we were not finished with the fun.  Our flight didn't leave until 4:55pm, so we had until almost 2pm before we had to be at the Magical Express Bus Stop.  We had something to eat at The Boardwalk Bakery, and walked over to Disney Hollywood Studios.
Heading over to The Studios for one last "blast"!
    Finished up with Tower of Terror, and Rock n' Rollercoaster for the big kids, then headed over to the ABC Commissary for lunch.
Somebody was dreaming about Walt Disney World on the way home

   The flight back turned out to be pretty good.  Again, another non-stop flight, but this time, Surprise! - "Baby X-Factor" fell asleep about half way home!

   If anyone reading this is debating about taking a toddler to WDW, I would suggest that you stop wondering, and start planning.  These two trips did take a little extra strength, and planning, but it was SO WORTH IT!  We have memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives.  Do the kiddos remember the trip?  Probably bits and pieces, but WE remember these trips, and someday we can share stories with our little Grandys about their first times at Walt Disney World.  They will look at the photos and say WOW!
Pool Time!

   Now if you will excuse us, Grandma and I have to start planning our next Disney trip... before the Grandys get too old!

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