It's no secret that Disney World is a special place in my family. We spent many a Sansom family vacation in there. Being from a family of all girls, except for my dad who grew up in a Disney-loving family himself, we all loved meeting the princesses, riding the not-too-rollercoaster-y rides, and dining with characters in the most magical place on earth. Then, I met and married a man who is from Central Florida, so now we have the perfect excuse to Disney-it-up when we go to visit friends and family in his hometown.
Coincidentally, Jason had a training that he needed to attend in Orlando at the beginning of August. It was on a Wednesday, right in the middle of the week. Since we hadn't been to his hometown since before Brighten was born, we decided to make a vacation out of his training. My one request was that we stayed at a hotel that had a nice pool because I am all too familiar with the Florida heat in August.
After Jason "travel-agented the heck out of this trip," we decided to stay across from Disney Springs in the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace. We loved this option because it's walking distance from Disney Springs where there are lots of shops and restaurants, plus it had an amazing pool, and access to the bus system for Disney World. Also, Jason is a Hilton Diamond customer, so staying in Hiltons is always our jam because we can use points - yay for saving a few bucks!
Jason kept giving me a hard time on the way to Orlando because he sincerely thought we'd end up going to one of the Disney World parks at the last minute. But I assured him that it was far too hot and Brighten is far too young to spend the time and money going to a park. Instead, we decided to do the Disney-est non-Disney vacation possible.
We arrived on Saturday and Brighten and I explored the hotel a bit while Jason got us all checked in. We spent the evening at Disney Springs walking around, dancing to the music, and introducing Brighten to all of the characters in the massive Disney store. Sunday morning we got up at a decent hour to do the character breakfast that our hotel offered in their Letterpress restaurant on the weekend. There were only three characters there, but we only had to pay $10 per adult for the breakfast, so three characters was perfect! Brighten loved meeting Minnie Mouse...
...but she was not so sure about Goofy.
We swam and napped Sunday afternoon, and then Sunday night we wanted to go ride the monorail and maybe explore some of the Magic Kingdom hotels. We didn't realize that we could actually watch the fireworks with the music from Disney's Polynesian Village Resort's beach. It was so exciting when we realized this and I may or may not have carried on my mom's tradition of crying at the fireworks. Brighten loved looking everything and she was so mesmerized by the whole expeirence.
Monday we spent the morning at the pool and went to do some shopping at The Mall of Millenia and IKEA. That night we drove over to Disney's Grand Floridian to spend the evening drinking coffee, eating dinner, and watching the fireworks again.
We immediately put staying at the Grand Floridian on our bucket list and had a great time exploring. Brighten even picked out a little souvenir Minnie Mouse. I know it sounds crazy that she picked it out since she is a baby, but she really did! I let her hold and play with several little toys in the gift shop at the Floridian, and once she got that Minnie in her hands she was all laughter and smiles!
On Tuesday we had dinner at Chef Mickey's in Disney's Contemporary Resort. Brighten had fun looking at all of the characters that came to say hi to her at our table. Also, Jason and I were really impressed with the food! After dinner we went back to the Polynesian to watch fireworks again, because truly it was that great the first time!
Wednesday Jason had his training so Brighten and I spent some time with friends while he was working. Brighten and I went back to the hotel to nap and also got to go back to My Gym, like we did in Charlotte. After we picked up Jason from his training, we grabbed a quick dinner and went back to our hotel for night swimming.
On Thursday and Friday we went to visit Jason's mom and some other family members in Daytona Beach. We got to take Brighten to see the beach where cars drive, visit some of Jason's favorite spots growing up, and we event picked up a few passengers to come back to Birmingham with us.
Our last stop was at my parent's house to pick up Swanson and to break up our trip home. My parents live about six hours from Jason's hometown and four hours from Birmingham, so it's a nice pit stop to spend the night so that Brighten doesn't have to spend an entire day in her car seat. We got to see my grandparents and my aunt and uncle - so the last part of our trip was really fantastic for family time.
Vacations have changed a lot over the last year. We take time to rest so that Brighten can nap, we opt for pool time and quick dinners, and we pack A LOT of stuff for every outing. There's no denying that things are different, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love and cherish the memories that we're making as a family of three and I'm so glad that we are getting to experience the world with a little human in tow.