Of course, it was also magical to see the kids' expressions when they saw all their favorite characters in real life -- although we learned pretty quickly that non-human characters are better enjoyed from a distance. CC and Sweet Pea were decidedly nervous any time Mickey, Chip and Dale, Pluto, etc., came too close. Little Man was definitely the most social of our three -- he gave everyone high-fives and was in charge of our autograph book.
Our week flew by with minimal tantrums or tears. I attribute our success to 1) Grandma, Grandpa, Brian and Kelly's extensive experience at Disney, and 2) MJ's and my realistic schedule for the week. We did one park each day; we were done by 3 pm most days; we had dinner no later than 5 so the kids could be in bed early. Twice during our stay we built naps into our schedule, and several other afternoons were spent at the hotel pool, which was less stimulating than being in a park.
We stayed at the Beach Club, which gave us easy access to Epcot (and its amazing restaurants), and which also has a pretty awesome pool.
The kids' favorite activities? The Frozen sing-along at Hollywood Studios. The Dumbo, Peter Pan, Ariel and Winnie the Pooh rides at Magic Kingdom, all of which were done multiple times. Spaceship Earth at Epcot. The Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom. CC had a great time on the carousel, until she remembered that she has a crippling fear of carousels and refused to ride it again (sigh).
We had several character meals, including two princess breakfasts. The one at Cinderella's castle was a huge hit! Meeting princesses was much less intimidating than large non-human characters, and Sweet Pea and CC even gave several hugs.
We learned that CC does a pretty darn good Donald Duck impression. Sweet Pea had the best quote of the trip, one afternoon as we were headed back to the hotel: "Mommy, I can't go any faster. It's my legs' bedtime." And Little Man's boy-craziness was in full force. He spent the majority of the time on MJ's shoulders, where he couldn't bump or push his sisters. He even told one stranger on the bus, "I'm the pushing brother."
But before we knew it, it was time to say good bye and head home. Back to reality! And unfortunately a bout of sickness for all of us, particularly me. Farewell, Disney World! We'll see you again in ... maybe 10 years.