Walt Disney World with a four-year-old (and what not to do)

Welcome back, one and all!

I’m finally re-settling back in to Shanghai life after my much-needed, two-and-a-half week vaca back in the USofA. After coming back to my every-day-life in China, I have quickly become more and more sure of my decision to head back home in October – I’m ready for some normalcy.

I got a little taste of what life will be like in Kansas City, Missouri with my hubs-to-be in our new apartment and I get the warm-fuzzies every time I think about it. Living .2 miles away from a Chipotle AND Target? Basically heaven.

I’m also completely STOKED to be going back to school next fall. It’s been a long time coming. I’m forever grateful for my Disney experience and the growth that has come with it, but I began growing past Disney a little bit ago and have been more focused on what I would like to work towards in the future. Exciting times!

On top of that, Bradley and I will be enjoying wedded-bliss in less than five months and we are so thrilled to be coming together on this journey. I’m so lucky to be with a man just as goal-driven and determined as I am and I am ready to welcome in the phase of my life where I am working with my person towards differing and shared dreams alike.

And the cherry on top – step-motherhood. Honestly, when I hear the word “step-mother” I just think of Lady Tremaine from Cinderella and I think…”I don’t have the wrinkles or cat for that”… so Bradley and I like the term “bonus-mommy” a lot better. Navigating that part of my life has been amazing and challenging and rewarding in many ways, but I have a feeling I’ve only scratched the surface. My heart has stretched in ways I didn’t think possible, and I’ve had fears and insecurities I never had prior – all the what-if’s and what-happens-when’s of life combined with an impressionable little girl can be very intimidating at times. But luckily, I’m not the only one! And I am so blessed with the quality time I have been able to spend with her and her daddy.

On my trip home, Bradley and I took Cadence on a surprise trip to Disney World in Orlando. We packed our bags and headed to visit the happiest place on earth. As with many vacations, there are always bumps in the road, especially for first-time parents riding in an airplane/going to theme parks with a child – such as forgetting keys in the Uber on the way to the airport, or forgetting a bag and leaving it unattended outside of security while trying to buy gum for the plane ride. And that doesn’t even begin to cover it.

1. Lightening/Thunder Storm

As we landed in “Sunny Florida”, we got in just in time for a giant, tropical storm to blow in, along with spine-tingling bolts of lightening every few seconds. As we got to baggage claim and waited for 15…30…60 minutes… two-and-a-half hours later, we got our luggage. Unfortunately the delay forced us to push back our dinner reservation at Disney Springs but they were incredibly accommodating and we got to the restaurant just in time to see the parks’ Fourth of July firework shows from the window by our table.

2. Haunted Mansion… Maybe not suitable for four-year-olds

I was so proud of myself – I had booked FastPasses the week prior to our trip on the MyDisneyExperience App and was beyond excited. First up was Haunted Mansion, a classic that I knew Bradley couldn’t miss out on since, like Cadence, it was his first trip to Disney World! Not thinking anything of it, we crawl into the moving cart as it inches closer to the dark and I glance down and see Cadence’s grip tighten on the lap bar as her eyes grow wide with uncertainty. Let’s just say, she wasn’t a fan.

3. Space Mountain… Definitely not suitable for four-year-olds


You think I would’ve gotten the hint after Haunted Mansion that maybe dark rides weren’t a good idea for Cadence. Let alone dark and fast rides. Oblivious to any thought that Cadence might not enjoy a fast spaceship ride through the dark outer-space, we pranced through the FastPass line. “It’ll be great!” I thought, since she was far more than tall enough to ride. Well, reason #2 as to why Cadence didn’t trust my judgement on any ride after that.

4. When going to Universal, pack a swimsuit.


Little did we know that after Cadence’s traumatizing first day in Orlando, that she would LOVE the log ride, Ripsaw Falls, at Universal Studios. She loved it so much so, that we ended up riding it twice. And were drenched from head-to-toe. While the summer heat dried us off pretty quickly, we ended our day at Universal’s Kidzone waterplay area. Cadence looked as though she had been dunked in the bathtub with her clothes on multiple times. She had a blast though, so #noragrets

5. Day Three + an extra child

While in Orlando, I got to visit many friends – one of which is a bridesmaid and her daughter (Karyna and Luna!) who spent the majority of the time in the parks with us! Except for the third day – after lunch when she had to leave for work, we got to bring along her little girl who is near two years old for the rest of the evening. Rushing to get to character meet-and-greets, leaving our backpack places and having to run to find it, trying to make sure everyone is happy and enjoying themselves, Bradley and I were exhausted. Finally it gets to be dinnertime so Bradley and I decide to leave Epcot and take the girls to get not-as-expensive non-park food. As we are passing the giant Epcot ball, Bradley wanted to take a quick selfie – just him and me – so I stop pushing the stroller and turn around so he can snap a quick photo. Before we could glance at the picture to see if it turned out alright, a passing teenage boy nods over at us and says nonchalantly, “Hey, your babies are rolling away” … we turned around to see the stroller casually making its way towards the exit on the subtle decline and hear Luna squealing “Weeeeeeee!”

And that, my friends, is when Bradley and I decided we weren’t ready for more kids for a long, long time.

6. Last but not least, The Great Movie Ride… not suitable for four-year-olds.

I promise, ya’ll. I learned my lesson. Especially when we got to the Alien scene.

Not only was this trip full of hilarious memories, but a lot of magic was made. By my cast member friends and by cast members I didn’t know, I felt the love and magic thrown our way each day. I’m so happy I got to take my soon-to-be family to the place that means so much to me. To all who were involved on that trip, thank you for your dedication to the magic.




a s h e l l a  x o

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