We are HUGE Disney fans!
For us it truly is the happiest place on earth.
We love it.
One of the reasons I love it so much is the way Maddie lights up.
A few years ago, when we were struggling so much with sensory processing issues, it's like something magical happened when we were at Disney.
She was more her true self there; happy, complacent, engaged.
She spent a lot of her every day life in her own head and there were days I felt like I just couldn't reach her.
But then we would go to Disney and she would come alive and there was connection and joy and happiness.
She's been doing so much better this last year, but Disney will always hold a special place in my heart for that time.
We've been back a couple of weeks now and I've had a chance to sort through some of my favorite photos. I only took a little over 4,000 this trip!
Our first night we went to Disney Springs for dinner.
One of the things Maddie was most excited about were the dance parties.
As soon as she heard the music, she hopped out of the stroller and started dancing!
She's got some moves, I'm telling ya!
We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside.
I loved this resort.
One of the things I was most excited about was the resort day we had planned. They have cane pole fishing, surrey bikes, two different swimming pools, carriage rides, so much!
Unfortunately, on our resort day, Maddie had caught some sort of stomach virus and was so sick!
Poor thing, she never gets sick, and this was the sickest I've ever seen her.
Luckily, it was just a 24 hour thing.
She woke up the next morning and declared, "I'm all better!"
The thing about Disney vacationing is you never feel like you get to do it all, hence the need to come back again!
It's tradition for us to always visit Magic Kingdom the first day of our trip.
We got up super early to see the Welcome show.
Maddie dressed up as Minnie this day.
Maddie's first request was to ride the teacups!
She LOVES thrill rides.
This trip she was finally tall enough to ride some of the bigger rides like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Mount Everest at Animal Kingdom.
Her favorite was Splash Mountain!
We rode it three times!
Magic Kingdom is my favorite park. It's so beautiful!
We found an awesome spot to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade!
Our next day was at Animal Kingdom.
Maddie dressed up as a Wilderness Explorer like Russell in the movie Up.
She met Mickey and the gang at character breakfast, which thrilled her to no end.
It's hard to pinpoint a favorite memory, but this ranks high up on the list!
She was so excited to see Russell and Dug.
They gushed over her, and we definitely felt the love.
It was awesome.
Maddie's communication skills have improved exponentially in the last year, and she was able to interact on her own with several cast members.
She really touched a lot of hearts!
This is Yee Haw Bob, and he is also a contender for one of my favorite memories!
He plays at the River Roost 3 nights a week at Port Orleans Riverside and he was SO MUCH FUN!
Before he began, he came to each table and met everyone.
He got down on Maddie's level and said, "I'm going to sing and play music and have lots of fun, and I love you!"
I don't know how he does it, but he has this special way of taking a song like B-I-N-G-O and making it extraordinarily fun!
The next day was Mother's Day and for a special treat we had brunch at the California Grill in the Contemporary Resort.
It exceeded all of my expectations and was super special!
Maddie dressed up as Mary Poppins this day.
(Can you tell how much she loves to play dress up?!)
I love this picture!
We were at Epcot in the Japanese store.
She loves the movie My Neighbor Totoro, and we found this book.
She sat right down and looked through every page!
Of course, it had to come home with us.
Later that evening at dinner, she was so tired she nearly fell asleep resting on the ledge.
The next day we were back at Epcot again and first on the to-do list was meet Joy and Sadness from the movie Inside Out!
This was so cool!
They spent a lot of time with Maddie and Joy took Maddie over and personally showed her the memory balls.
The best part of going to Disney this time of year is the Flower and Garden festival at Epcot.
It's so breathtaking, I love it.
Maddie wanted to get her face painted.
She specifically asked for Donald Duck, and the painter was so talented it was no problem!
Aw, one of my favorite photos!
Our last day was back at Magic Kingdom.
Maddie dressed up like Jessie this day and we met her first thing!
Later that day, she got to dance with her during the Move It! Shake It! Dance party!
As much as she loves the thrill rides, she can never get enough of the classics like Dumbo!
Every year we get a silhouette.
To me, this is by far the best souvenir you can come home with.
These guys are super talented!
We left Magic Kingdom and headed to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds for dinner.
While we were waiting, Maddie took her first-ever pony ride!
His name was Nemo.
It just so happened Magic Kingdom was open until 1:00 AM so after dinner we headed back to park hoping to stay as long as we could!
This was Maddie at 1:30 AM, still going strong!
It was a great way to end an incredible vacation.
I'm sad to be back home, but so grateful for such amazing memories!