Monday, February 27, 2012

Disney Day 4: Magic Kingdom

Sometime during day 3 at Disney, my son commented that Disney was not what he expected.  I asked what he was expecting, and he said "a big castle."  Ah, yes.  It's not really Disney until you see Cinderella's castle at Magic Kingdom! So, we checked that off our list on day 4!


Disney was offering "Magic Hours" again, so we got up early (again), and arrived at Disney shortly before it opened for resort guests only at 8AM.  There was even a welcome show at the entrance!


We followed the advice of our Unofficial Guide again, and headed straight through Cinderella's castle to Fantasyland.  We were surprised to find the Dumbo ride MISSING! It turns out they are expanding Fantasyland, and the Dumbo ride has been temporarily removed.  So, we rode the Carousel, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Peter Pan's Flight AND "it's a small world" all before 9AM. 


Can you hear them singing?
 We then headed over to Liberty Square and went on the Haunted Mansion ride (one of my favorites).  My son thought this one was a bit scary, so we promised him the next one would be a "fun" ride.  We wandered over to Adventureland, and rode Aladdin's Magic Carpets, and that seemed to cheer him up.  We then hit Pirates of the Caribbean.  We were not able to leave the Pirates gift shop without two pirate swords -- one for each kid.  We also rode the Jungle Cruise.  And this was all well before lunch!  Not bad, huh?


We took the train back to Main Street, and walked into Tomorrowland.  After dancing with Chip and Dale, we decided the line for Buzz's Space Ranger Spin was not too bad, so we queued up while daddy grabbed Fastpasses for Space Mountain (only daughter and daddy planned to ride the coaster).  Daddy made the kids happy by bringing us some snacks in line, and then we rode the Buzz ride.  The ride stopped midway through, so we got to rack up a lot of points (and just shoot at each other, because that's fun, too!). 


After the Buzz ride, we saw the Monster's Inc Laugh Show, which was very entertaining.  Then, daddy and daughter headed for Space Mountain, while my son and I took a stroll around Main Street.  It started to rain, so we missed all the characters who had been standing around, but we enjoyed the view.


 We had lunch at the Crystal Palace in Main Street; it is another character dining experience with a buffet meal.  Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet visited us at our table.  The food was acceptable, and the characters were great.


After lunch, I really wanted to stick around for the afternoon parade, Celebrate a Dream Come True, but the kids were beat.  So, hubby offered to take them back to the resort while I enjoyed the parade (good hubby!).  The parade was great, and I got an extra treat of standing next to a sweet young girl with Down's Syndrome wearing a "Make a Wish Foundation" button -- almost every character and parade participant waved or acknowledged her individually in some way.  It was super sweet.

For me?  No, that was for the sweet girl next to me...  Darn.
 I headed back to the resort after the parade, and we all had a nice rest.  We ate dinner at the resort in the "Quick Service" cafe, then headed back out again around 7:30PM to see the Main Street Electrical Parade at 9PM and the Wishes evening show at 10PM.

We found a great spot on the right side of the castle to view the parade and fireworks show, and my daughter found another light-up souvenir -- a sparkly glove -- to satisfy her need to glow at night.


And then the parade started.  Except... our kids fell asleep!  We tried to wake them, but it was futile.  They were both totally zonked out.  My daughter finally woke up for the Wishes firework show, but my son missed both the parade and the show (which were both freaking amazing by the way!).  Ah, well.  After the show, we waited for the crowds to clear, then took our sleepy kids back to the resort.  We decided that we might have to start a little later in the morning the next day...




P.S.  Did I mention Hidden Mickeys?


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Disney Day 3: Hollywood Studios

Though it's hard to pick, Day 3 might be our best day at Disney.  The whole day was filled with great rides and shows for everybody, and ... well... the day included STAR WARS!


We started off this day bright and early because Hollywood Studios was offering "Magic Hours" (additional hours for Disney resort guests), so we got an additional hour (8AM) in the morning.  We headed straight for Star Tours, but then stopped to sign up the kids for Jedi Academy Training (turns out that the full day's training schedule is usually booked by mid-morning).  After securing the kids their opportunity to defeat the dark side, we rode Star Tours... twice!


After that, we returned to the plan that the Unofficial Guide to Disney said to do... ride the Toy Story ride first.  Oops... I guess our Jedi instincts did not help us on that one: The line was well over an hour by the time we got there.  So, instead we picked up Fastpasses for Toy Story, and decided to have Daddy check out the lines/Fastpasses for the Rockin' Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror.  Meanwhile, the kids and I strolled back over to wait for their Jedi Training to begin.  Daddy met back up with us, and we found out that he could not get any more Fastpasses -- you have to wait 2 hours in between getting a set of Fastpasses to get another set.  Ah, well.

But, the best part of the day was about to begin -- Jedi Training! My son and daughter got to fight evil -- and I mean the Darth Vader and the Darth Maul -- first hand in front of an audience!  It was amazing.  Check out a few pictures and videos.  And if you or your child is a Star Wars fan (and he or she is between 4 and 12 years)... plan to do this!  It is SOOO awesome!





video


video

 After Darth Vader and Darth Maul were defeated by the Padawan learners (yay!), we decided to split up to tackle more of the Hollywood Studios.  My daughter and hubby went off to challenge the Tower of Terror, and my son and I watched the Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt show.  Both my son and I were very impressed by the stunt show, and he thought seeing Lightning McQueen "for real" was pretty cool.


Hubby and daughter reported back that they waited 50 minutes for the Tower of Terror (very long for our 8-year-old), but she LOVED the ride. 

We all met up for lunch at Hollywood & Vine for a character lunch -- the restaurant had characters from the "Disney Junior" channel.  We met Agent Oso, Handy Manny, June from Little Einsteins and Jake from Jake and the Pirates.  When we saw June from the back, and we were all trying to figure out who she was, I said "There's Dora!"  My husband gleefully informed me that Dora is on Nickelodeon, and would not be at Disney.  Oops!

Come on... she kinda looks like Dora, right?
 After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a break.  We realized from Day 2 at Animal Kingdom that the kids faded pretty fast after lunch, and if we wanted to see Fantasmic (the evening show), we were going to need to give the kids an afternoon break.

We came back to the park in time to use our Fastpasses to the Toy Story ride;  We loved that ride -- great interaction;  Daddy (of course) ended up with the most points, but my daughter had the highest accuracy (40-some percent)!

After Toy Story, Daddy decided he needed some Star Wars souvenirs (surprise, surprise!), so we split up again.  The kids and I stood in line to see Woody and Buzz.  A very. long. line. And making the line even longer?  Kids behaving badly with negligent parents.  Boo.  But, Disney is the magical place, so Buzz and Woody still put a smile on our faces once we got there!


We met back up with Daddy at the Rockin' Roller Coaster, which daddy and daughter rode.  My son and I found some caramel popcorn to keep us occupied!  They thought that ride was one of the best so far!  Then, we grabbed dinner at the Fairfax Fair (Quick Service), and walked into the Fantasmic arena to eat our dinner.

We waited about an hour for Fantasmic to begin (good advice from our trip planner and from the Unofficial Guide), and then enjoyed an AMAZING night show! My daughter spent her souvenir money on some Mickey glowing ears. 



After the show, we headed back to the resort were we thought the kids would crash, but my son was ready to battle with his new light saber. Daddy picked up a light saber, too, so a battle began out in the front lawn of our building.




P.S.  More Hidden Mickeys were found!



P.P.S.  My boy fell asleep like this.



Saturday, February 25, 2012

Disney World Day 2: Animal Kingdom

This is a continuation of yesterday's blog post about our Disney trip, which is a journal of our vacation.  On our second day, our first full day, we ventured off to our first Disney park, the Animal Kingdom. 


We arrived when the park opened, picked up a stroller for our younger one, and headed off to DinoLand.  We used the recommendations of the Unofficial Guide to Disney World to tackle the parks in hopes of finding smaller crowds and shorter lines;  the guide was a huge help.  We road the TriceraTop Spin ride and DINOSAUR! without much of a wait at all.


 Daddy used "Fastpass" to get tickets to Everest and Primeval Whirl for my daughter and himself.  We also met Pluto and Goofy. 

The kids start collecting signatures.
 After daddy and daughter rode Everest (they LOVED it!), we grabbed some lunch at the Yak and Yeti Cafe, then headed onto Rafiki's Planet Watch.  Daddy grabbed more Fastpasses for the Safari before we left on the train.  At Rafiki's Planet Watch, the kid's met Rafiki, and checked out a few animals.  We allotted the kids each a daily souvenir allowance ($10 a day), and my son was so excited to spend his on some Lion King toys.


We LOVED the Safari, and got up-close with a rhino who walked right into the path of the truck.  My daughter, a lover of all-things-giraffe, was head-over-heals to see all the giraffes roaming around.



By now, we had tired the kids out, but we still managed to get them over to the Festival of the Lion King show before it started raining. 


 After the show, we watched Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade, then made our way to the exit. 


 At a shop by on our way out, my daughter found some Mickey hands to spend her souvenir allowance on.  She was so excited!


We had reservations at Sanaa, a sit-down restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we took a Disney bus over to the resort.  We were very happy when they said they would seat us right away, even though our reservation was not for another hour and a half (Disney customer service ROCKS!).  Sanaa had awesome food -- African with an Indian influence.  Yum.  And the Animal Kingdom Lodge is an amazing resort -- there are zebra, ostriches, giraffes and more wandering around the resort grounds (separated from the people of course!). 



We ended the night by taking a bus then the boat ferry back to our resort.  The kids were tired but happy, and so were we.



P.S. We had a great time finding Hidden Mickeys!


Friday, February 24, 2012

We went to Disney World!

Yes, I know I've neglected this blog.  But, I have a really, really good excuse:  we went to Disney World!  Yes, we did the big family trip to meet Mickey and the gang.  A magical time was had by all.  I have some sore feet, but some great memories.  I'm going to do a little journaling about our trip here on my blog, so enjoy (or move on...  your choice!).

First a non-solicited shout out to our Disney trip planner, Jodi Linton, from Pixie Vacations.  If you are planning a trip to Disney... I highly recommend hooking up with Pixie or one of the other official Disney vacation planners.  They know their Disney, and can help with all the details.  I know it really helped us, and made our vacation easy to plan, gave us "inside tips," and helped us with all the reservations and such.

Now... back to the trip!

We arrived a week ago Thursday, flying into Orlando.  It was the second time either kid had flown, but the first time my son remembers flying (the first time he was a baby).  He took the window seat, and loved the flight.


We stayed on the Disney property at Port Orleans Riverside (a "moderate resort" for those who know Disney), and ate on the Disney Dining Plan (I highly recommend both!). We already started our "Disney experience" at the airport, when the Disney Magical Express picked up our luggage from the plane, and drove us to the resort.  After arriving at Port Orleans, our room wasn't quite ready (we arrived around lunchtime), so we grabbed lunch at the "Quick Service" (AKA fast food) restaurant at the resort, then checked out the resort. 

Resort lobby, with kid-sized rocking chairs!

Then, we played some games at the arcade, and my daughter got a hair wrap (isn't that a requirement for a warm weather vacation?).

My daughter checks out the hair wrap pattern, and makes herself cross-eyed in the process.
After our room was ready, we settled in, then had a "Table Service" meal (Disney lingo for sit-down dinner) at the Boatwrights restaurant at the resort.  We had a very nice Louisiana-themed dinner, and the waitress even gave everyone Marti Gras beads and balloons for the kids.



My daughter with her Marti Gras balloon and beads.
We strolled the resort grounds in the evening, and ended the night with a carriage ride!


The kids were too tired to pose for my picture, so hubby got to pose with the carriage.  Good hubby.  :)

To be continued!

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