A Magic Kingdom Morning Toddler Touring Plan with Columbia Harbour House

For today’s Trip Review Saturday article I wanted to talk a little about a Magic Kingdom morning plan we used on our last trip. This is a great plan to use if you have young children traveling with you, but keep in mind we only have a little boy in our party, no girls, so something like Anna & Elsa is not on our radar, and honestly, I can’t say that disappoints me! Our strategy was to get several things in Fantasyland done before the park got super crowded on a crazy summer day. We were waiting for the park to open by 8:15 AM and here was our view…one of my favorite views anytime, anywhere!

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Now, to give you a little more perspective here is that shot zoomed out a little so you can see some of the crowd at 8:15 in the morning.

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Yikes! I was a little shocked. Being 45 minutes early, even last summer would have gotten us pretty close to the rope, now we were 20-25 people back. Oh well, most of these people were headed to one of two attractions anyway, Anna & Elsa or Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and we are certainly not heading to either of those. After watching the awesome welcome show we were let into the park at exactly 8:46 AM.

So, like I said while almost everyone else was heading to Anna & Elsa or Seven Dwarves Mine Train, we took the opportunity to get a jump start on everything else in Fantasyland. If you can get FP+s for those two popular attractions this is a great touring order for a family with young children to follow. As you will see we are going to get a lot of things done by lunch time and get out of this park at a reasonable time so that we can all get rested up for the evening.

We headed down main street, not having to hurry since no-one else was headed where we were, and went towards our traditional starting point, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We were on the ride by 8:55 AM and off and heading for something else before the actual park opening time. We then hit up one of our son’s favorite attractions, the Barnstormer. We even got to do it twice as there was no one else in line yet! After flying with the Great Goofini on his coaster we headed over to take a spin on Dumbo. Guess what time it was when we finished…if you guessed 9:15, you are correct. We had already done four rides and the park has only been officially open for 15 minutes.

Let me give another great tip for this area of the park if you have a stroller, but your kids can walk some for short distances. We parked our stroller at Dumbo before we rode Barnstormer and we did not pick for over 45 minutes. There are some great things close to that location and it is very nice to not have to load up in the stroller after every attraction. After Dumbo our plan had been to head in to see Goofy and Donald at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, but we were moving so quickly Pete’s wasn’t open yet. It opens at 9:45 AM most mornings if the park opens at 9:00, although I would check the times guide. I believe it opens at park opening some select days. We left the stroller by Dumbo and jumped ahead to our next ride, Under the Sea. It was about 9:20 by this point and there was no line here at all and we were done by 9:30. We still had 15 minutes to waste before Pete’s opened and our son begged and begged to do Barnstormer again, so why not, there were no lines in this part of the park yet. So after our third ride on Barnstormer we headed to get in line for Pete’s as it was about five minutes from opening.

They opened promptly at 9:45 and a nice tip is if you are first in line the characters will open the doors and meet you and then take the kids hands and walk them through the line to their meet and greet area. We weren’t at the front, but it made the day of a little girl and I love seeing that Disney magic. After a great meet with Goofy and Donald we stopped for a quick chocolate croissant and some water in Gaston’s Tavern before heading all the way across the park to Frontierland. We had done a lot of attractions already as well as a meet and greet and it was just 10:00. We arrived at Big Thunder Mountain, the next thing on our list, and the wait time was listed as 10 minutes, but right as we got to the entrance a cast member was shutting it down because the ride was broken. So, I cannot give an accurate wait time for 10:00 AM on a summer day, but the posted one had been 10 minutes before they closed. With a Splash Mountain FP opening at 10:40 we had some time to kill so we headed into the air conditioning at Country Bear Jamboree. “There…was…blood on the saddle!” After the world famous performance we headed over so my wife could use a Splash Mountain FP. It was close to 11:00 as we had done some walking around in Adventureland as well before the show. Our son was not ready for Splash just yet so we got a child swap and he and I headed over to get set for lunch at Columbia Harbour House.

I ordered lunch while my wife rode Splash Mountain and the time worked out about perfectly as she walked up to our table about the exact time that we sat down with our food. We found a perfect seat at an upstairs window that looked down into the park and I would recommend anyone having a meal here to always go sit upstairs if it is open. We were early enough to beat most of the lunch rush, so it wasn’t too crowded, but even when it is the upstairs is usually still very peaceful. The food during our meal was good as always. My wife and son both got kids meals and I ended up going with the fish and chips as I usually do.

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The fish is always very good, in my opinion, for a quick service restaurant and everything else we had was great as well. Our son loved the mac ‘n cheese here and my wife loved the kids meal she got which had the perfect amount for her of one piece of fish and a few chicken nuggets. The entire experience at Columbia Harbour House is always great as it is a nice peaceful spot to stop and each lunch. My tip to anyone needing lunch in this part of the park is to definitely stop here and find one of those tables upstairs by a window. It is a great break from the craziness of the theme park and the food is good as well.

After lunch it was 11:45 and we had done a lot already that morning and were ready for a break so we just decided to head back for a nap and some swimming. There was a show going on while we walked out so of course we had to stop and watch for a few minutes.

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It was all in all a great morning at the Magic Kingdom. We visited around 10 attractions in just about two hours and finished our morning off with a visit to Columbia Harbour House, our favorite lunch spot in this park. Thanks for reading and happy trip planning!

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Our Final Visit to Downtown Disney

World of DisneyRecently Disney has made the long awaited name change from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs, but I want to take today’s Saturday Review article to look back at my last visit to Downtown Disney. I knew this visit was a goodbye to Downtown Disney for me and my family, but I also knew it was a chance to see some of the new things that had already been unveiled for Disney Springs.

We arrived via a bus from our resort and we had already been touring Disney World for four days, so needless to say we were a little tired and this was a day we were set to rest, but we were also changing resorts. With the resort change happening we needed somewhere to go for a part of the day until we could get into our room, so what better place than a visit to Downtown Disney. We were not at all sure how long we would make it with a three year old and we wanted to get to our new resort and relax as much as we could on this rest day, but we were going to give it a go. We also had planned for this to be our only visit to Downtown Disney on this trip. You see, this was the middle of summer in 2015, when Downtown Disney/Disney Springs construction was at its height, and for this reason we did not have much of a desire to spend much time here.

We arrived at the bus stop, which was only available at the Marketplace at this time and stopped in one of our favorite stores, Days of Christmas. We have the tradition of purchasing a Christmas ornament every year and what better place to start than here. I did snap a picture of one ornament I thought was pretty cool, it was a mixture of Mickey and Spaceship Earth.

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After days of Christmas we had to stop in the Marketplace Co-op. This is probably my favorite addition so far to the Marketplace side of Disney Springs. I love the Disney Centerpiece area as I am a huge fan of the vintage plates, cups, bowls, decor, everything in this area that deals with rides and attractions. I won’t get much deeper, but you’ll see what I mean later in this article. My wife is a fan of the Cherry Tree Lane, mainly because she is in love with Vera Bradley…the bags, not the lady!

After finishing in the co-op we began to start seeing the evidence of the large scale construction projects that were taking place. I am a huge fan of what they are doing to Disney Springs and am extremely excited about seeing it completely finished, but construction kind of stresses us out. The crowds are closer together and we are just fans of waiting until something is finished to see the final product. We pulled ourselves together and headed on down to World of Disney, because it is an unwritten law that everyone who comes to Disney Springs must buy something from this store.

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Once April and I get inside this store we just naturally go our separate ways, me to look at a variety of things and her heading to the closest selection of “cute stuff”, which most often involves more Vera Bradley bags. As I browsed I found more of the vintage kitchen accessories that I love and I ended up getting a full set of these cups to add to the plates and bowls that I already had at home.

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We also wanted to find a t-shirt for our three-year-old son and it seems like the only ones we can ever find in a small size like that are the yearly shirts that have the year on it. Well…this year was no different. The 2015 theme shirt is what we settled on and he loved it because it had Mickey on it, and that is all he really cares about!

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After finishing up at World of Disney we headed over and spent a little time letting our son play in the Lego store before heading down to get one of these beauties, a Cookie Bits Sundae. We discovered this on a previous trip and it has become a requirement for April and I at Downtown Disney, and you can bet it will still be a requirement ever after the name change to Disney Springs!

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After we finished our sundae we headed back into the fray, and by that I mean endless construction walls as we ventured into the old Pleasure Island area. The crowds by this point were very thick and the construction walls were very tight, and those two things do not go well together. We shopped around a little bit, but by this time it was about 2:00 and we were ready to get into our hotel room, and the youngster was ready for a nap, so we made the trek back to the Marketplace bus stop.

All in all our last visit to Downtown Disney was a success. The Marketplace area was almost completely construction free in the areas that were open and we had some nice shopping time and a nice snack at one of our favorite places. Once you left the Marketplace though the construction was a little more in our faces, so we said, “So long Downtown Disney, we’ll see you next time.” And next time we are around Disney Springs should be completed or nearly completed and that is something I am very excited to see.