Our 2016 Disney World & Universal family vacation

We decided to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary (May 14, 2017) early.  Our absolute favorite time to go to Disney World is right after Thanksgiving.  However, I have 2 weddings this upcoming December during our preferred time and I didn’t want to go in May or the summer.  So we went in December 2016 and considered it our big trip.  I love Christmas time at Disney.  I love Christmas and I love Disney so when you put them together, you can’t go wrong.  We stay off property and this trip we rented a condo through Homeaway at a different place than where we normally stay.  Our normal place was not available.  We did 6 days at Disney World and 2 days at Universal Studios.  It was quite a trip, haha.  We had so much fun!  Let’s be real, it wasn’t perfect.  We had some meltdowns and bickering, but I don’t remember those times as much as I remember the times worth remembering.  I must warn you, this is an OVER share.  Also, my husband and I act like big kids at Disney so you will see that in the photos too.  It’s our playground and I love that he loves it as much as I do and is not afraid to act silly with me.

Feel free to just scroll through the images.  I have written some tips and reviews for you if you are interested in reading.

Magic Kingdom

We got really lucky and snagged Be Our Guest dining reservations our first day there.  They were for before the park even opened.  I think out reservation was 8am.  So we arrived early and it was really cool to see the park so quiet.  Gosh if only it was like this every day. Our intention was to grab breakfast and head right over to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train since we didn’t have fast passes for it the whole trip.  It was a great plan and worked out wonderfully.  We were so excited since it was our first day we didn’t have any trouble being up early and to the parks.  I do wish our reservation was a little earlier so we could have slowed down and enjoyed the quiet park a little more.  But we walked right onto the Mine Train which was the main goal.

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We just love this ride so much!  We only get to ride it once a trip.  Last year we got up early to be there for the rope drop and got through the line quickly.  This trip, we did the reservations and walked on.  I think the most I’d wait is 30 minutes for it, though.  I just do not have patience for lines.  It is great fun and a smooth ride.

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My oldest is  a bit obsessed with Alice in Wonderland.  We have to meet whatever characters we can whenever we go.  Although we have started cutting her off meeting Alice.  She’d wait all day to meet her over and over, lol.disney world vacation photosdisney world vacation photosdisney world vacation photos

The train is a great ride to take when your legs are getting tired.  Just ride around until you are ready to get off.  disney world vacation photos

Tom Sawyer Island is one of our favorite places to spend time.  I think we only discovered it our last trip there.  I don’t know why it took us so long.  They love just running and exploring.  They play pretend and get lost in and adventure.  I would not consider myself claustrophobic to a strong degree, but I am a little in very confined spaces.  When I clean out underneath the bed, I have to be quick.  So the caves got to me a bit and I couldn’t do the hidden stairs in the fort, but everyone has a great time here. I highly recommend it.disney world vacation photos

The Pirate show with Jack Sparrow was very fun and interactive.  The kids really enjoyed it and it was a nice break.disney world vacation photosdisney world vacation photos

Animal Kingdom

We haven’t been to Animal Kingdom in a few years so we decided to go back this year.  We are really excited about the new Avatar expansion coming soon.  Animal Kingdom is usually a shorter day for us.  This was a cooler day.  We did a fast pass for the safari this time around.  We definitely saw a lot of animals out.  I had read they recommend you go early and I think our tour was around 10:30am.  I saw a lion!  I think that’s the first time he has been out for us.  Giraffes are my favorite so I was excited to see them too.

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We ventured over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for the first time!  This was a cute area to explore.  They also have a petting zoo area which the kids really enjoyed.  disney world vacation photos

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios

We are big Harry Potter fans.  Okay, Carissa is the biggest fan and has read all the books more than once.  We have the movies and love to binge watch them together.  We haven’t been to Universal in a few years so we decided to make this trip really special and take them to Universal again.  I only took my camera to one park (Universal Studios) because I didn’t want to lug it both days.  We did not do the train this trip because you need a park to park ticket.  Our trip was just getting too pricey to justify it.  But I highly recommend doing it if you can swing it.  It’s fun to ride the train and also makes it easy to park hop if you see wait times are better on the other side.  The day we went to Diagon Alley it rained. 🙁   Only one day of our trip had rain, so I really shouldn’t complain.  We decided to go see Fantastic Beasts at the theatre on City Walk.  It was a great way to kill some time while we waited for the rain to let up.  Then we went to explore Diagon Alley.

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Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is a favorite of mine.  I’m really looking forward to the expansion they are doing here and the new ride in Toy Story Land.  I was sad that the Osborne lights were gone.  We knew that 2015 was the last they would be there so we did see them.  They were just such great fun.  Hopefully some great new things come our way, though.  We also miss Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area.  My kids love any area that they can just run, climb and explore.

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Friends, I HIGHLY recommend face painting!  It was so much fun, look the teenager was even into it.  Okay, at first she said no, but when dad and I decided we were doing it, she was down.  So get your faces painted with your kids!  Do it early in the day, because it’s not super cheap.  Then you can enjoy it all day.  People loved it and kept complimenting us.  I hear they do free touchups too!
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Starbucks has turned into a special treat and tradition for the kids at Disney.  disney world family vacation

Let’s talk about the Prime Time Cafe.  We go here every time we can.  It’s a top choice for us.  We had the BEST server this time.  Last time she was a little meh.  This time, our server had us rolling!  I recorded some and shared on Instagram.  He was such a great sport.  disney world family vacation

Magic Kingdom … again

We always do Magic Kingdom at least twice, sometimes more.  There is just so much to do here that we never get bored.  This trip we did the Sorcerer’s of Magic Kingdom game.  I hear our magic bands hold the info for two years!  So if we go back (if, haha) in 2018 it might still have our game stored.  We may be cutting it close though.  The kids really had so much fun doing it, so it’s definitely recommended.  I think this is a game for older kiddos though, I’d say 7+.  Younger kids would probably lose interest quickly.

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The Sorcerer’s of Magic Kingdom interactive game.disney world family vacationdisney world family vacationdisney world family vacationdisney world family vacation

That’s all she wrote my friends.  Until next time…

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