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Today we have an exciting first here at Capturing Magical Memories.  It is our first ever Guest Blogger!!  So bring your hands together and give Jenn of The Disney Babies Blog a warm welcome!!!

After years as a day tripper running the parks like my own personal playground, lately I’ve been fortunate to slow down and explore Walt Disney World through different eyes.

In the spring of 2010, I had a newborn and my closest friend from college, Melissa, had a baby 6 months older than mine.  Living 1000 miles apart, we talked about vacationing to visit each other when Disney announced they would offer an Armed Forces Salute package to active duty members of the military (hey, that’s me!)  A 4 day park hopper for $125 for everyone was offered for members and up to 5 or 6 friends or family.   Melissa and I knew that the offer was too good to pass upand we planned a trip.

I had no idea what to expect with a 6 month old – most of what I could find online said I was crazy for trying.  That’s when I decided to start my blog.  I wanted to convince myself and anyone who wanted to read that I wasn’t crazy, and maybe offer helpful tips along the way.

At 6 months….

We flew to Florida with a 6 month old on my lap (not his first flight!) and within a day at my parent’s house, we realized that that Noah was teething.  I thought our trip was ruined.  Once we headed north to Orlando, I learned quickly that WDW was the answer.

I carried the pain medication, but we never needed thanks to the distractions.  Our first morning in the parks led us to the Animal Kingdom for morning Extra Magic Hours.  When the rope drop parade appeared and Noah saw a big life Mickey and Minnie – characters he had seen since in dolls, pictures, blankets, and on tv since he was born and he was literally in awe.

That trip was filled with too many magical memories to ignore.  Yes, it was completely different from past trips, but still so amazing that we jumped into planning a trip to run in the WDW Half Marathon 6 months later.

At 13 Months…

That trip, Noah at 13 months, was absolutely amazing and so different from his first trip.  This time, Noah appreciated more attractions, characters, and loved being there.  And, when we were lucky enough to be the first people of the day to meet Mickey Mouse in the Judges Tent in Toontown, we were all ecstatic.

Meeting Mickey Mouse at the Judges Tent in Toontown at the Magic Kingdom

We left that trip planning to return the following January for marathon weekend again, but when my husband switched companies and all of a sudden had a week off during June (my birthday week and the same week we’d visited the 2 previous years), we quickly planned a trip.  With under a month, I called my travel agent and found out what we could do.

At 18 Months….

This trip we splurged and stayed at the Grand Floridian (celebrating!  In January, we stayed off property to conserve) and took full advantage of extra magic hours whenever we could.  I never realized the drastic difference between 13 and 18 months, but we learned quickly.  This time, Noah knew what attraction he wanted to ride and made sure we knew when we needed to ride something more than once (think Nemo… 3x in a row).

We tried character dining, and while I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a success, it definitely wasn’t a failure.  My husband and I enjoyed interacting with our favorite Disney Junior characters and Noah enjoyed watching the characters walk around and dance while he ate.  Our favorite moment though, came one night when we headed into the Magic Kingdom late with a few minutes to spare for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  We noticed that Mickey Mouse had only a 5 minute wait and we quickly jumped in line.

After waiting in the first queue for a few minutes, we entered the “backstage” to Mickey’s Magic area.  There were still a few families in front of us which gave us a prime view of Mickey and Minnie.  It was almost too much for an 18 month old to handle – he literally begged (his “sign” for “please”) to meet him and was so excited!

Meeting Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theatre at the Magic Kingdom

He ran directly up to them until a cast member noticed he had no shoes on, therefore wasn’t allowed to be on the floor (it was late and he kept chewing on his shoes – it seemed like a good idea while he was in his stroller).  After that, he clung to Mommy, but we had a wonderful time with our favorite Mice.  And, as soon as we said goodbye, Noah headed directly to the racks of dolls and left with yet another Mickey doll, this time Sorcerer Mickey.

I have so incredibly enjoyed planning and park hopping with our toddler.  We have our next trip scheduled for Marathon Weekend (January) 2012 and can’t wait to see how much a 25 month old enjoys the parks.  Watching the magic through his eyes is the most magical experience I could imagine at Walt Disney World.

Thanks for reading my long-winded post.   For more, both long and short, about traveling with babies/toddlers, park trivia, history, and so much more, check out my blog or find us on facebook or twitter.

Thanks for stopping by,