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Journeywoman's Disney Birthday Party


One last piece of Journeywoman advice...

Try not to over-plan your holiday. Our family accepted the fact that Disney World is huge and we just weren’t going to be able to see everything in four days. We knew that it wouldn’t be fun to constantly be watching the clock and rushing from Point A to Point B.

To that end, a small and very pleasant part of every day was spent simply soaking up the delightful Disney ambience. I liked nothing better than wandering with my grandchildren down Magic Kingdom’s Main Street. All the lamp posts were festooned with baskets of bright flowers, charming shops with colorful facades lined both sides of the road and street vendors tempted us with multi-coloured balloons that bobbed and weaved high above our heads. Straight ahead was the famous Cinderella Castle that we already knew from storybooks, TV specials and my birthday luncheon. Horsedrawn carriages glided by, Disney characters appeared out of nowhere signing autographs here, patting heads there. My grandchildren were entranced, I basked in their happiness and hummed, “Happy Birthday’ to myself, over and over and over again.

Hints from my adult children...

After our Birthday Party was over I asked my adult children to submit their personal tips for JW readers planning their own Disney World holiday. This, in their own words, is what I received...

PLAN PLAN PLAN -- If you're staying in the park, you get the bonus of the early entry but make sure you read the details because only one park opens early each day. Plan your morning around that park and make sure to focus in on the really busy rides and then go, go, go. You might even get to ride them all twice before the park opens for the crowds. Then you ride the less popular rides while all the newly arrived folk are queuing up for the biggies.
ROMANCE AFTER NINE -- Planning a grown-up romantic dinner? Try one of the hotels instead of EPCOT restaurants that close at 9pm sharp. Book your fancier restaurant meals in advance and allow ample time for transportation if you're not driving. Transfer times between various modes of transportation within the Park start to add up, and don't forget the possible fifteen minute walk through one of the parks to the actual restaurant.
CARRY A CELL PHONE AND IMPORTANT NUMBERS -- We were on a bus on our way to Cinderella's Castle for lunch and realized that we might be late for our reservation. With our trusty cell and list of important Disney numbers we were able to call ahead and keep our table. Phew!
BUDGET FOR MORE COSTLY HIGHLIGHTS -- Don't miss out on a character breakfast. Our three year old almost melted with joy when Tigger and Pooh hugged her at breakfast. Watching her happiness and excitement was the true essence of what Disney is all about. And the pictures we took with her and the characters will be memories to last a lifetime. Well worth any cost!
TAKE A BOAT -- If you can, take the boat back to your hotel at the end of the day. Not only is it less crowded than the monorail, but it's a tranquil way to make the return trip and can help calm your sugar-crazed children. Our hotel choice was perfect. The boat made a stop at the Polynesian Resort and the kids loved the experience.
EVERYBODY CARRIES A BACKPACK -- Don't carry too much stuff. Each day I noticed we carried less and less. There's alot of walking, so make it easier on yourself. In our party all the adults carried a backpack. We realized we needed only one tube of sunscreen, one package of bandaids (not four ) so we all ended up with lighter loads. We carried water bottles filled with ice cubes from the hotel and topped up our supply at all the fountains in the Parks. Worked perfectly.
LITTLE ONES LOVE THE MERRY-GO-ROUND -- Don't forget about the simple merry-go-round for kiddies. It's very simple, yet very beautiful, gentle yet thrilling for a three year old, and we could stand/ride right beside her so she started off as the shy clingy girl and wound up as the independent horse woman. The fact that there was a short line-up so she could go more than once just enhanced the fun.
WE LOVED THE PARADES -- Watching all the Disney favourites go by, shouting out their names (as if no one else knew who they were), being amazed by all of them and almost in disbelief that they were actually there ('s Snow White AND Cinderella AND Pooh AND...) And of course, the sitting on daddy's shoulders while smearing an ice-cream bar in the general vicinity of her mouth.
IT'S A SMALL WORLD -- Finally seeing and experiencing "It's a Small World" ride through a child's eyes. Now the song doesn't drive me nuts and I actually get the point. For our daughter the experience was like the world was being served up on a platter and the questions she asked about culture, costumes and language were great for learning!
-- Our son is a  big fan of princesses so his biggest thrill was meeting Cinderella in person. Disney World offered him a real interaction with a fairy princess and he couldn't believe his good fortune. Then, if that wasn't enough he was called onto the stage during the (free) musical show, Beauty and the Beast. He got the opportunity to play the role of Gaston and shared the stage with Belle. He was totally in love. Then his swash-buckling side emerged as we went on the Peter Pan ride. Later, he met Merlin and tried to pull the sword from the stone.
Imagine how that ignited his imagination!

FABULOUS EXPERIENCE FOR US -- Watching the fireworks at the
edge of the lake in Epcot Center with a glass of wine in one hand and a lovely lady on my arm and lingering behind a bit to walk back to the monorail. The fireworks were spectacular and, despite being an early evening, the leisurely stroll back past the pavilions (no large crowd, most people were rushing away) taking the long way around was a lovely stroll. Very romantic!

Editor's Note: My 65th birthday party ended with a fabulous day at SeaWorld Orlando just a short drive from Disney World. Check out how you can do the same thing.

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