When we first began the planning process for our trip the original duration was going to be from a Sunday to Saturday with both Sunday and Saturday being travel days. However, the week before we leave my husband suggests adding an extra day and leave on Saturday rather than Sunday. I jumped on this idea with both feet!! I was getting so weary of keeping the secret. We settled everything with the condo owner and set the new plan into action. It worked perfectly!! We planned to travel on Saturday and spend Sunday checking out Downtown Disney. We were even able to get reservations for a 2:30 lunch at the TRex Restaurant!! This was a miracle and I knew Tobin would LOVE it!!
We started very slowly on Sunday morning. We set no alarm, enjoyed breakfast and the children opened up their welcome bags to get things started right. I gave a list (though not all-inclusive) of the bags’ contents in a previous post. Each bag contained a Disney lanyard with a zipper pocket. I purchased these lanyards from Amazon.
Inside each zipper pocket, I put what I called a “Mickey I.D.”. This was a laminated card with all the necessary information on it in the event they got lost or we got separated which is SUPER easy to do!! I also made black and white copies of these cards (one for every day we were there) and they kept these folded up and put in their pockets. I knew they wouldn’t be wearing their lanyards constantly. We talked about what they would need to do if we did indeed get separated from each other. These I.D.s helped make me feel more comfortable and I think it helped them as well.As they were opening their welcome bags, I pulled out another ziplock bag containing Disney trading pins. This is all the rage now in the world of Disney. I bought a bulk bag of pins from eBay for about $14 prior to our trip. The bag contained enough for each child to have 8 pins on their lanyards and I took the 2 extras. Individual pins can cost $8 to $14 (or more) inside the park so I got a great deal buying from eBay. Everybody picked out the pins they wanted and I replaced the Mickey pin backs with butterfly pin backs from Hobby Lobby. If you leave the Mickey backs on, you’ll lose all your pins! Because the Mickey backs add value we kept them in a ziplock bag for trading purposes. The point is to TRADE pins with Cast Members or regualr park attenders throughout your trip. In the end, Lilly and I traded with a Cast Member on Tuesday (in Epcot while shopping at Mouse Gear) and NO ONE else traded at ALL. We were just too busy and so was everyone else it seemed. Tobin and Ruthie did buy some pins and they could’ve traded with us in Epcot but they were on Test Track at the time.
Once our lanyards were all set up, we were ready to hit the streets of Downtown Disney.
They had some construction going on so we parked in the bank parking lot across the street from Marketplace (which is where we wanted to be). It. Was. Crowded. Our reservations were for 2:30 and you need to arrive at least an hour before your reservation time. We had plenty of time to get our bearings and explore the shops. First up on the list was the Lego Imagination Center.
I split from the group and went straight to guest relations (in the alley behind Ghirardelli) to purchase our Photopass+. If you purchase at least 14 days prior to your trip you save $50. I had a hard time making up my mind and by the time I’d decided to take the plunge and go for it, it was too late to get the discount. BUT, it was still SO worth it!! In the park it costs $200, it ended up being around $211 with tax. This was one of the best purchases we made all week. With the purchase of the Photopass+ you get a CD containing Disney stock photos so you don’t have to worry about getting the perfect picture of the castle or fireworks and even some attractions. They’ve done it for you. Plus, you get ALL your attraction photos (attractions that have photos). You’ll see these as I post about our week. With this being our first trip I wanted every memory captured and this was the perfect way to do it. There was a photographer at almost every character meeting. They will use your camera or phone as well. Rarely does the photographer do this but the cast member who is managing the character/line will. You’ll also get pictures of your character dining. You’ll get printed pictures at your restaurant and then digital copies when you order your download or CD at the end of your trip. We took right at 312 pictures with Photopass+ photographers and we can print as many as we want. Click HERE for more info on Photopass and Photopass+. After I took care of the photopass+ I met back up with everybody at the Lego store.
All the Lego sculptures are amazing!! The children were thrilled to see them all.
(See that red and white ribbon tied to the stroller handle in the top left of this pic? It’s just like luggage in an airport, you NEED something to easily identify your stroller with…especially in stroller parking lots.)
They did make some purchases here. FYI you can get most everything in here cheaper at Target when they are running a sale but it’s fun to be able to say, “Hey! I got this from the Disney store!!” They all three enjoyed creating their own minifigures. You can create three for $9.99.
By the way, I made all of these shirts before our trip. Super easy and super cheap. I’ll tell ya how later.
After the Lego store we ran into The World of Disney. It’s a HUGE store and looked really cool but it was so crowded that it was hard for us to enjoy (this is also where the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is located downtown). So we kept walking and found Once Upon a Toy. This was a fun store (you’ll have to get Keith to tell you about being whacked in the head with a light saber!!). It wasn’t terribly crowded and there was lots of fun stuff to look at.
This picture was taken inside Once Upon a Toy at a penny press machine.
My children LOVED this!!! Before our trip I collected quarters and pennies for them to press and organized them in M&M minis containers. I had enough for each of them to do 2 a day (10 each). As we made purchases and had change, I would refill the collection. It takes two quarters and one penny and some machines are hand cranked like this one and you don’t get to choose the design and others are automatic and you CAN choose. Ruthie and Tobin bought a book to collect their pennies in. They all ended up with about 17 by the end of the week. It was a blast to spot the machines and collect the different designs. HERE is a pdf of where the machines are in each park and what design they have. I know it sounds silly but we had a ton of fun doing this!!
Ruthie shared her book with Lilly. The first 2 pages are hers and the last two are Lilly’s.
They also got their “first visit” buttons from a Cast Member here (for free). You can also get these at guest relations if it’s your first visit, your birthday, anniversary, or you’re celebrating pretty much anything!!
After our shopping we headed over to have a little prehistoric lunch with a big T-REX!!
Here’s a look at the inside….
These were all taken from our table. It was loud, dark (but not unenjoyable) and every 20 minutes a meteor storm hits. Lilly was nervous and a little scared. She did NOT want to go in but once settled, she was fine. Lunch was yummy. You can check out menus and prices HERE. Our bill was $72 including the tip.
Now, how did we eat out with food allergies?? It was SO easy!! Whether you make your reservations over the phone or online you will be asked about dietary restrictions. At the T-REX I reminded them at check in and was told to tell our server. Our server had the chef come out and he was super kind, knew what he was talking about and circled on the menu what he could make for them. We placed our order and HE brought out the special meals himself. Tobin had a cheeseburger and chips and said it was the best ever. And Lilly had macaroni and cheese. It was a GREAT dining experience and they LOVED the atmosphere!!
Afterward, we went into the gift shop and built a dino!! This is the dinosaur version of Build-A-Bear. We built a basic dino and left him naked for $15 each. All in all, our first full day was a lot of fun!
My Downtown Disney Tips:
1. Go only if you have an extra day or a free afternoon. In my opinion, it’s fun but not a must do.
2. You can find pretty much all the same merchandise INSIDE each of the 4 parks.
Up next…..Day One at Magic Kingdom!!! See ya real soon!