Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Magical Grand Adventure - Characters!

Disney paid for my family's trip to Walt Disney World® Resort. As always, all opinions are my own.

Characters! The streets of Walt Disney World® Resort are full of them. Some reside there. And others? Well, they arrive as guests, bursting through welcoming gates on magical mornings of every day of the week. Our family recently contributed sixteen of the latter to the daily count!

Grandpa and I, plus the family of my oldest daughter, Mary Jo, comprised a group of eight who recently enjoyed a five day, four night dream vacation to this magical wonderland. We were guests of Better Homes and Gardens and Walt Disney World® Resort as part of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine "Making Memories Magical" contest promotion. Here's where you'll find details and the links you'll need to enter for a chance to win a multi-generational trip for eight of your own! Then, start picturing yourself bursting through those gates with the best loved characters from your own world - like we did!

I'm not suggesting that you travel Walt Disney World® Resort in a marauding pack of one dozen+ (we didn't!) - but I am going to offer that a multi-generational/multi-family trip is the ultimate sibling and cousin bonding experience! That's why we invited, at our expense, two additional daughters' families to join our adventure, bringing our total "character count" to sixteen! 

That's an unwieldy amount of people to manage, but as long as everyone's in the same park on the same day, you can meet up occasionally - for lunch, to swap child-watching, or to ride as a group on favorite attractions - like we did! And this is where loading up fun and sharing it all on the My Disney Experience* app really makes sense!

Middle daughter, Christy, her husband, Keenon, five year old Brielle and year old Austin...

...and youngest daughter, Karen, her husband, Joe, and their cute-as-a-button offspring, three year old "character-obsessed!" Kaylee and nine month baby brother, Ryan

Both these pictures were taken with the Disney PhotoPass®  service** option you'll be offered when you purchase a park ticket - a totally cool "hands-and-worry-free" way to record the best moments of your vacation!

I couldn't help but notice how most kids simply melt into the arms of the characters they meet. We had a few exceptions, though - ones I think we'll enjoy telling about for years! Brielle, for example. She made sure her autograph book was methodically filled - sending daddy out on those missions! This little gal, who fearlessly conquered Big Thunder Mountain Railroad® attraction, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train® attraction, and Splash Mountain® attraction, demanding seconds and thirds on each of them, recoiled at all things large and cuddly! No Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, or Sophia for her! (Still scratchin' my head over that one!)

Meanwhile, back at the castle, cousin Kaylee couldn't stop smiling at, hugging, and loving every character and princess she met!

Dreams - and pictures of them! - really do come true here! Each meeting room is handsomely decorated to match a theme. Your wait in line is rewarded with unhurried personal attention and individual and group posing for shots of your own, or, more conveniently, from Disney PhotoPass® 

Cousins met Elsa and Anna!

So, where do you find these resident characters? A great reference is this site where each one is pinpointed. At Magic Kingdom® Park, you'll note that some are out and about periodically on Town Square. Others have their own greeting sites - see Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater; Cinderella and Rapunzel, among others, at Princess Fairy Tale Hall. Epcot® and Disney's Hollywood Studios® host their own array; so does Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park. The site also tells you if Disney FastPass+*** option is applicable; in that case, advance reservations - up to 60 days ahead if you stay at select Walt Disney World®  Resort hotels - are allowed on your My Disney Experience app.

Finally, many characters show their winsome faces at select Walt Disney World® Resort restaurants, table hopping while grandkids munch away, anticipating their own turn to chat up and snuggle with their favorites! My fondest experience in that category was dinner at Crystal Palace where beloved characters beckoned kids to join them in a jovial parade that wound through tables in a spacious, amazingly beautiful setting. Couple that experience with a sumptuous buffet, and the word "magical" simply comes to life here!

Here's another family story we'll enjoy for years ahead. Our Disney's Animal Kingdom® breakfast at Tusker House Restaurant included characters garbed for safari: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Goofy. Good old Goofy! The kids sank into the open arms of each one of these "larger-and-cuddlier-than-life" personalities. As Goofy made his rounds, he encouraged kids to follow along, imitating his swaying arms and prancing feet. Ava and Angeline were delighted to do that, laughing away at the goofiness of it all. Until Goofy abruptly stopped. And turned around to look at them! Both girls came to a screeching halt, screamed, and fled to the safety of our table!

The business of collecting character autographs is a serious one in our family! Some 25 years ago, when Kaylee's mommy was five, (years before the endearing Doc McStuffins was "born!") she filled a book of her own here, and we still have it!

Each character willingly accommodated every request for a signature, In fact, we never once encountered a grumpy cast member - Oh no. Wait! There actually was one!......

But we only crossed paths with him briefly! - deep inside the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train® attraction, and while he grumped along in a snooty snit at the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade!

*My Disney Experience app is the ultimate Walt Disney World® Resort trip planner. Download your free account here, then access information on every opportunity at every park - shows, characters, attractions, etc. View wait times and menus. Make reservations and manage Disney FastPass+ and Disney PhotoPass® service options. Link to friends and family to share it all!

**Disney PhotoPass® service option (offered at ticket purchase point) captures your memories in unlimited digital downloads, delighting you with group shots, high speed thrill ride moments, and heartwarming character encounters. Here's where you discover what it's all about!

***Disney FastPass+  Tis true. Your day at Walt Disney World® Resort will probably include some waiting. But not for some attractions when you utilize this handy service. It's included with ticket purchase. You'll select up to three experiences in one theme park per day. Arrive during your designated window to enter a separate line with a shorter wait time. Redeem all three selections and reload more on your phone or at convenient kiosks! Here's where you'll find full details!

And, one more reminder! Be sure to enter the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine "Making Memories Magical" contest for a chance to win a multi-generational family trip for eight to Walt Disney World® Resort! Links and details right here!

Continue reading for more! "Magical Grand Adventure - Dining!" is right here!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Better Homes and Gardens and Walt Disney World® Resort. 


  1. Oh. My. Goodness! How adorable is this!! Your grandkiddos are so darn CUTE!!! I love Walt Disney World characters, but I must say your loved ones steal the show here. Love it!!

  2. Hello, your grandchildren are adorable. What a fun time at Disney for the whole family. Awesome photos and post. Thanks for sharing your trip. Happy Thursday, Enjoy your day!

  3. Loads of adorable pictures here but that IS funny about Bree being either shy or slightly leery of the larger than life characters!

  4. I love Disneyland and have been going since the year it opened. I can't wait to have grands to take to Disneyland.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful visit with SYC.

  5. What a wonderful time for you and your family. The grands are darling and who doesn't love Disney characters? Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  6. I am so far behind that I guess I am not reading these posts in order - but I'm sure enjoying them all. What fun for the kids to meet all their favorites - even if "some" didn't want to snuggle huggle any of them. You must have spent hours getting these lovely posts done - so glad you had such a wonderful trip.

  7. I'm not particularly a Disney land fan but it was fun to see how much your grandkids enjoyed the adventure. That's what grandparenting is about--creating memorable moments.

  8. We LOVE Disney! How magical that you got to spend time together with the whole family there. We normally just bring my mother in law along and even then we have a blast.

  9. That is so awesome! So happy for you and your family that you got to go!

  10. That was so cool. Good tips. I really liked the girls matching princess tops.

  11. That picture service really is the best! SO great that you could just enjoy and have someone else capture all the moments. Really glad you got to do this. Really hope Disney decides you need to review Disneyland!

  12. Wow! How wonderful for everyone. That is my dream to take my grands when they are a bit older so they can enjoy and remember it. Great tips to tuck away for the future.

  13. Wow, what a great trip. I'll be contacting you for advice, tips and well about all things Disney. I'm taking my family in December.

  14. Love reading you Disney posts. Such awesome pictures too. So happy you received this trip. The characters look so real but I can see where a little one would be a little nervous. Your grandchildren are so beautiful.

  15. Your grandkids and pictures are so adorable. It sounds like you had a ball -- and made memories of a lifetime! Fun, fun, fun!