10 Reasons Why Disney World’s Art Of Animation Resort ROCKS!

Disney's Art Of Animation LobbyThis past Christmas, My husband and I drove all the way from Toronto to Orlando with our four kids for a vacation of a lifetime. After lots of research, we decided that staying at the Art of Animation in the cars suite would fit all six of us best. It was incredible, magical, and worked beautifully for all of us, even our 18 month-old twins. Here are 10 reasons why Disney World’s Art of Animation ROCKS. Our vacation and this post have not been sponsored. As always, all opinions are my own

1. The food is out of this world. Disney’s Art of Animation’s (DAA) restaurant, Landscape of Flavors, is set up cafeteria style. You grab your tray, and head to different stations to build your meal. The build your own burgers, pasta and omelettes and unreal. This dining option works well with kids too. You can sit inside, outside, or even take your meals to go up to your room.Dinner outside the Landscape of Flavors2. You feel like you are inside several Disney movies. Our family stayed in a Cars suite, which was on one end of the resort and my parents stayed in a Little Mermaid room on the other side. To walk from one end to the other, it takes about ten minutes. Throughout the entire resort, there are groupings of buildings that are themed differently: Cars, Little Mermaid, Lion King and Finding Nemo. There are whimsical characters scattered around the resort that were perfect for photos and climbing. You truly feel like you are inside Disney movies.Disney's Art Of Animation characters3. The best pool for young kids. The Big Blue Pool, which is Finding Nemo themed, is the biggest pool in Disney World. But what made this pool extra special for us was the gradual entry. This meant that our older kids could swim around (with floatation devices) while our twin toddlers could run in and out of the pool while my husband Mike, and I supervised them.Big Blue Pool4. It doesn’t matter if your kid is melting down. There is constant action and music going on around DAA, especially in the restaurant. This is perfect for kids ages 0 – 10. Visiting the parks is exhausting, especially for young kids. So it is understandable that your little one might have a little meltdown by dinnertime. But between the music drowning them out and looking around the room and seeing all of the other exhausted kids, it really doesn’t matter.

5. The rooms are baby-proofed. Unlike the second location we stayed in in Florida (and had to spend the first day baby proofing), our kids were able to go straight in and enjoy the entire space without Mike and I having to chase them around and set limits. The space isn’t huge, so there wasn’t anyway we could start closing off areas. Tip: We rented cribs ahead of time from Kingdom Strollers. They were at the front desk waiting for us when we arrived.

6. It’s stroller friendly. As a twin mom, I am heavily reliant on our double stroller. DAA had beautiful wide paths, elevators and lots of space in the dining area and pool area to accommodate our stroller. We would even use it inside our room to contain our busy toddlers while they had a snack and we could get ready to head out the door. Stroller in hotel room7. There is always something to do. Aside from the pools, there is also a playground, a Lion King bones play area, evening outdoor movies and so much more. We spent a lot of our free time playing in the Lion King bone area, because our twins and older kids could safely run around and burn off energy.Lion King play area8. Taking the buses to the parks is so convenient. We loved that we could take shuttle buses to and from the Disney parks whenever we wanted. This especially came in handy when we had to shuffle our kids around one day. Tip: If you are going to bring a stroller, bring a folding stroller. Our double stroller which has to be taken apart when you fold it up became an ordeal each time we got on the bus. Between juggling twins and two older kids, it was pretty tricky. Lesson learned.On a Disney bus with twins9. The attention to detail is memorizing. I think this was my favourite part about DAA. I was constantly trying to take in every detail, from the plants shaped like coral to the patterns on the bedding. Even my four year old daughter would pick out light fixtures that looked like cones in the Cars building. Bravo Disney, bravo.art of animation details10. It makes you feel like a kid again. I tend to have my “mom hat” on too much, and forget to let loose and be silly with my kids. But there was something about seeing all of those characters from the Lion King and Little Mermaid that brought me back to my childhood. I may have even let loose a little.posing in front of mater

Don’t forget to read all about our drive to Florida, our Bibbidi Bobbed Boutique, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom experiences!

Disney’s Magic Kingdom: How We Mastered The Happiest Place On Earth With Four Kids In Tow

Nesting Story at Disney WorldAfter a busy day at Hollywood Studios and some much needed rest for our twins, Mia and Everly, as well as myself, we were ready to head to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Because the previous day didn’t go quite as planned, I decided to make sure we attacked the Magic Kingdom in a way that would benefit everyone.

Thankfully, my parents were on this trip with us, which meant that we weren’t outnumbered. We arrived by bus from our Disney resort, the Art of Animation, to a HOT and humid Magic Kingdom. Everyone was buzzing with excitement, but our four-year-old daughter, Beau, was in a funk. I couldn’t blame her, her last three days consisted of a 23 hour drive from Toronto and a full day at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Hollywood Studios. She was tired. In fact she had a couple melt downs at the front gates.

Once inside the Magic Kingdom, I worked hard at cheering Beau up, acting like a goof. She wasn’t impressed.

Mother and daughter at the magic kingdomFinally, a Disney cast member saw that Beau was grumpy and worked hard at pulling her out of her mood, while taking photos for our Memory Maker package (which I highly recommend).

It worked!MK_MSCINEMA_7551408437It was time to put my plan into action. We headed straight through the the park, past Cinderella’s Castle, to Fantasyland. There, we enjoyed all of the rides that we could include our 17 month old twins on.

Our first stop was “It’s a small world,” which we all loved, and Everly wouldn’t stop standing up and dancing. We thought it was hilarious.

We had a blast on the Dumbo ride…Waiting in line at Disney world

Dumbo rideThe kids, my husband, Mike, and my parents enjoyed the Carrousel, while I happily watched and took pictures (I get motion sick very easily)…Magic kingdom rideBy this point Mia and Everly were really tired. My mom and I stopped with Mia and Everly and had a much needed snack. Everyone else went on to enjoy a couple more rides. We continued on, choosing attractions in Tomorrowland, that included everyone, but eventually Mia was done.

It was time for lunch anyways, so we found a spot on Main Street, grabbed some hotdogs and took a break.

Suddenly, this amazing parade came out of nowhere and there was this huge dance party! We raced over and all broke into dance. It is our favourite memory of Disney World!

After our impromptu dance off, we walked over to Adventureland (my personal favourite). My Dad offered to walk with Mia and Everly while the rest of us went on a few rides including Pirates of the Caribbean. Once we came out, Mia and Everly were fast asleep in our stroller. They ended up sleeping for an hour and a half, (which was pretty good), while I walked them around and everyone enjoyed a couple more rides.

Twins sleeping in stroller at Disney World

By 2:30 p.m. we were faced with the decision of when to pull the plug. We had covered most of the park and we didn’t want to push the kids too far. Should we try to stay for the parade? Nah, we decided to end on a high note and get back to our resort in time to go for a swim.

Toddler at Disney WorldWe were very happy with our day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We hope to do this all again in two years, and by that point our kids will be a little older and our experience will change with their age.

Our Disney World memories are discussed daily in our home. We had a blast and can’t wait to go again soon!

Watch some our Disney World memories here…

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the rest of my posts about our trip, including Art of Animation and tips, as well as our two weeks on Sanibel Island. Stay tuned!

Our Florida vacation was NOT sponsored. This vacation has been in the making for a long time. As always, all opinions are my own.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Hollywood Studios And The Reality Of Taking Toddlers To Disney World

We arrived in Disney World after driving all the way from Toronto, exhausted, but excited. The following day was going to be busy, and involve a lot of juggling. After some much needed baths and showers, we were ready for bed, and buzzing about our exciting plans for the following day.

I had booked an appointment for our four-year-old daughter, Beau, at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disney Springs, while my husband, Mike, and my parents (who stayed in a room on the other side of our resort) took our six-year-old son, Holden and our 17 month old twins to Hollywood Studios. The plan was that Beau and I would then hop on a bus after her makeover to meet up with everyone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, once she was done.

After everyone had a good-night’s sleep, we had breakfast at our resort, Disney’s Art of Animation, and then parted ways. I was feeling a bit exhausted, and was wondering if we should have planned a “buffer” day between our long drive and starting into the Disney experience.

Heading to the Bippity Boppity Boutique

Beau and I waiting for our bus to take us from Art of Animation to Disney Springs for her princess makeover.

Beau and I arrived for our appointment, full of excitement. She kept saying that she wanted to have a side braid like Elsa, but when I had last checked, (when I had booked the appointment a few months prior), they didn’t have an Elsa makeover on the menu. To my relief, and to Beau’s delight, we realized that they had recently added a Frozen makeover package (we went for the full Disney Frozen Package). Tip: book your Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointment months in advance. It is very popular!

After a short wait, they called Beau’s name and a Fairy Godmother-in-training ushered Beau into a change room where her Elsa dress was laid out for her. Beau changed into her dress and again took a seat in the boutique. We were getting a little curious when we watched other little girls called, but Beau continued to wait. Suddenly a Fairy Godmother-in-training came over to Beau and told her that she had been chosen as the special princess, and would have her makeover done in the special spot, in the front display window of the store. I am pretty sure they chose her to showcase their new Frozen makeover package, but regardless, we were thrilled!

The Fairy Godmother-in-training tied a special princess cape around Beau’s shoulders and ushered her out of the boutique and through the store, while waving at everyone as she went by… it was pretty magical.

Bippity Boppity Boutique 1Once we arrived at the front of the store in Beau’s special seat, the makeover began. I have to give it to Disney, the entire time, all of the Fairy Godmothers-in-training stayed in character and continually complemented the little girls, boosting their confidence.Bippity Boppity Boutique 3The Disney Frozen Makeover package included: an Elsa hairstyle with braided hair piece and sparkling snowflake hair accessories, an Elsa costume, shimmering make-up, face gems, BBB Princess sash and cinch sack, nail polish and a 12″ Olaf Plush Toy, for $194.95. Beau was able to keep everything including the makeup, brushes, face gems, nail polish etc…Bippity Boppity Boutique 4The entire Bippity Boppity Boutique appointment took about 45 minutes. This was one of both Beau’s and my favourite memories from our whole trip. As you may remember, Beau struggled a little earlier this year with anxiety. She has also been such a fantastic and patient sister. It was her turn to shine.

Bippity Boppity Boutique 2

As Beau’s makeover was coming to an end, I was fighting a migraine. I think the exhaustion of the drive was getting to me and I was starting to wonder how I was going to last the rest of the day walking around the hot park.

So, when I received a text from Mike telling me that Mia and Everly were melting down, I was quick to throw in the towel and offer to stay back at our resort with them for the rest of the day. Although it was a little disappointing missing Hollywood Studios, I knew that this was the best decision for everyone.

Mike and my dad took Mia and Everly, and our big stroller, (more about the buses + strollers + toddlers when I cover the Art of Animation in a different post), and headed back to our resort to meet up with Beau and I. My mom stayed at Hollywood Studios and continued the day with Holden.

I was able to put Mia and Everly down for a proper nap, while I napped as well on the sofa and finally fought off my migraine. My mom ended up heading back early that day and by late afternoon we brought Mia and Everly over to our resort’s big blue pool. We had such a great time, and it was exactly what I needed to recharge.


The view from the sofa in our Art of Animation, Cars room

Mike, my parents, and the big kids spent the rest of the day at Hollywood Studios, enjoying everything it had to offer. Mike later told me that everywhere they went, including the bus  ride back to our resort, the Disney “cast members” (AKA employees), would announce that Queen Elsa (Beau) had arrived everywhere they went. I wish I had been there to see Beau’s face.

Hollywood Studios Day with DadThe day finished with Holden’s Jedi training, something that Mike had booked earlier in the day. Despite being terrified while waiting his turn, the actual experience is Holden’s favourite memory from Disney World.Jedi TrainingLooking back on our first day of Disney World, a part of me is disappointed that I had to miss out on so much. I think that I made the right choice staying back so that Mia, Everly and I could rest and regroup.

Holden and Beau had been so patient during my pregnancy with our twins, and the most understanding and caring older siblings during our twins’ first year. I am so glad that this day was focused on them. They were the reason we went to Disney World this year, so that we didn’t miss this magical age.

I learned a long time ago, that with twins, you have to make sacrifices and change the plan, or pull the plug when necessary. This was no exception.

By the end of the day, I was rested and ready for what the following day had planned… we were heading to the Magic Kingdom with everyone and making sure that Mia and Everly joined in on the fun. Stay tuned! 

Our Florida vacation was NOT sponsored. This vacation has been in the making for a long time. As always, all opinions are my own.

We Drove From Toronto To Florida With Four Kids And Survived

IMG_0479We did it! We drove from Toronto to Orlando with four kids ages six and under. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Growing up, I always did the same drive with my family, so this to me is almost a right of passage. Plus, I would never try buying six flights over the holidays, because it would cost a fortune.

Unlike the last time we did this trek, we started packing and preparing weeks in advance. We were extremely strategic with how we packed our SUV, including having designated bags to go in the car and ones to go in our roof top carrier. We used mostly duffle bags, and tried to avoid suitcases, so we could shove and squish our luggage.

Note: we removed the center console in the middle row of our SUV. By doing this,our older kids can easily walk into the backseat and buckle themselves up into their booster seats. This has been a lifesaver, especially with having to accommodate our twins’ carseats.

I packed our overnight bag that we would use when we stopped in Tennessee, and made sure I had all of the necessary in-car survival bags we would need. These included a soft cooler filled with fruit, bottles of water and milk for bottles, a snack bag with dry snacks and containers, and most importantly, my bag of tricks. In this bag, I filled it with dollar store toys, stickers, and the best invention ever… Crayola Color Wonder markers and colouring books (these are the no mess kind).

After putting our four kids to bed in their comfy clothes, (so that we didn’t have to change them when we left), we packed the car and tried to get some sleep. Before going to sleep, Holden, our oldest, was upset, thinking that people wouldn’t know we were going to come home and would move in while we were away. We calmed his nerves and he finally fell asleep.

At 2:30am our alarm sounded and it was time to get going. we loaded each kid into the car and were on our way. I had already sent my husband Mike out to buy us coffees and muffins so that we wouldn’t have to stop for a while.

We drove straight through to Windsor, stopped for a bathroom break and gas fill up and were ready to cross the boarder. Little did we know that unlike previous years, there would be a huge line at the Canada/US boarder. We lost about an hour here but we were so proud of how patient our kids were.

By the time we were just about to cross the Ohio boarder from Michigan, we stopped for breakfast at Dennys. Our kids ate a ton, especially our twins, Mia and Everly.

Mia and Everly at Dennys

Note: There are a few key items in this photo that I highly recommend: the Tiny Diner Placemats by Summer Infant and the rubber bibs were a life saver! Also some sippys and hand sanitizer is a must!

After breakfast we tried to cover some ground, unfortunately Beau, (who is 4-years-old), had to constantly stop for bathroom breaks. This is the kid that never has an accident at night, but when awake, has the tiniest bladder. The only person who had slept at this point was Mia, so by lunchtime everyone was getting a little crusty.

When we stopped at McDonalds for lunch, I found a little corner that I could block off so our kids couldn’t escape, and we had an impromptu dance party, while Mike got the food. They all loved it, but we probably looked a little funny… I didn’t care. I just wanted to get everyone moving so our kids would sleep and we could gain some ground.

After lunch, a couple bottles and a little work, all four kids fell asleep. But after a couple hours Beau woke up hysterical, feeling sick and begging to go home. This threw us through a loop. We pulled off the highway and tried to figure out how to calm her down. I took her to the bathroom, again, and worked hard at relaxing her.

Mike was also unravelling at this point. We were behind schedule, (still in Kentucky), and he felt frustrated that we were stopping so often for bathroom breaks. We bickered a little, but we each pulled it together, got a grip and pushed forward.

Over the next few hours we stopped only on the side of the road for quick bathroom breaks in the bushes (yes, we are those people). At one point Mike was pooped on and we broke out in laughter. We drove until 9pm the first night and finally stopped in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the night. We had called ahead to book our room at a Holiday Inn Express and made sure they had two cribs. We got rooms side by side, with Mike and the big kids in one and our twins and I in the other.

Half way through the night Everly woke up hysterical and spat up, (which is very typical for her). For the first time in the six years since I became a parent, I brought Everly into my bed and co-slept with her. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a big deal. I am a crazy light sleeper and have never been able to sleep with my kids. I was just tired enough that I needed any kind of sleep I could get. I ended up co-sleeping with Everly every night we were in Disney World while I was sharing a room with her. 

The next morning we woke up on a mission. We decided that if we were going to get to Orlando before dinner we would only do drive through meals, diaper changes in the car and very quick bathroom breaks.

Hotel room picA Holiday Inn bathroom selfie

At one point on day two, we once again unravelled. I was also done being patient and reminded Mike that we needed to be a team to get through this.

By Gainesville, Florida we were walking Mia and Everly around the parking lot to keep them going. They were losing their patience and very done with being in the car.

walking our twins

The only thing I had’t planned was how dirty Mia and Everly would get and how many diaper leaks they would have. We easily went through the six outfits I had packed and for the last few hours of our drive we were down to dirty onesies. All of our other clothes were locked up in our rooftop carrier.

Although Everly, (who is typically the most cranky of our children in the car), had been incredibly happy and up for the adventure, was nearing the end of her rope. The final hour of our drive was hard work. I had pulled out every trick up my sleeve, given every snack and used every toy. I was putting on puppet shows for the kids which held off their cries to get out of the car.

But finally we saw the most beautiful sight…

Disney World

We had arrived. As soon as we entered our hotel room in The Art Of Animation in Disney World, the kids ran around, explored and couldn’t have been happier to be done our big drive.

We have arrived

Some people think we are crazy that we continue to do this drive every other year, but whenever we look back on our Christmas holiday vacations, the drive is always part of our happiest memories.

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Facebook to catch my upcoming blog posts covering the rest of our three week Florida vacation, including doing Disney World with four kids.