Saturday, December 6, 2014

Disney World

This is completely off topic, but I have to write up a post about why I've been absent from my duties lately... ;)

My family got early Christmas presents this year: a trip to Walt Disney World.  I grew up a Disney kid.  My parents were strict about what we were allowed to watch on TV, and they cancelled all channels but the Disney Channel, which back in the day, you had to pay extra for.  I've seen every Disney film, own most of them, and my kids love them just as much as I.  So when my husband suggested we take the boys to Disney World for a Christmas present this year, I was more excited than anyone. 

We planned the trip for right after Thanksgiving, flying out on black Friday.  We had uneventful flights from Oklahoma to Atlanta, and then on to Orlando.  The kids love flying, and each time we fly their etiquette is they get older.  It's so much easier for the parents when your kids are good on a flight!
Once we landed in Orlando, Disney picked us up on their Magical Express buses, handled our luggage directly from the airline, and drove us to the Disney Beach Club Resort.  It was beautiful there.  Inside the lobby, we were greeted with a life-size carousel made entirely from gingerbread and icing.  It smelled heavenly.

Looking across the lake from the Beach Club to Disney's Boardwalk Resort and storefronts.

Disney's Beach Club Resort, taken from the bridge across the lake.
After unpacking and settling in, we ate dinner at Cape May, the on-resort restaurant and had a fabulous seafood buffet.  The desserts were outstanding!

Day 1, we set off for the Magic Kingdom.  To me, this is the flagship theme park, and it was certainly the busiest.  There was so much to do there.  I'll try to concisely recap:  It was cool that morning, only about 50 degrees, so we jacketed up and walked in.  Here's the requisite castle photo:

We rode the carousel just past the castle, watching Cinderella's stepsisters and evil stepmother ride right before us.  The sisters were carrying on about how fast the ride was, while the stepmother rolled her eyes and looked irritated. :)
We rode Tomorrowland Speedway, where the boys drove race cars on a track, Pooh's Many Adventures, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo, Barnstormer (Goofy's rollercoaster - which we had to ride twice and then came back later for 2 more rides.  I think it was a favorite.), It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Stitch's Great Escape, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Under the Sea (Ariel's ride), Astro-Orbiter, and Mickey's Philharmagic.  I'm probably leaving some out, but that's most of them.  Ones I didn't mention are the ones we used Fastpasses for: Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (our unanimous favorite!).

Chris and Elijah making Noah too dizzy on the teacups.
Riding Astro-Orbiter with great views!
Elijah and Chris going back for a second ride on Dumbo.

One of my favorite pics - Noah gazing at Dumbo's ride.
Chris and Noah on Aladdin's magic carpet.
Goofy was here.

At Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, pictured above, Elijah was picked to talk, he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said a firefighter.  He was asked what grade he was in school, and then was given some jokes to take back to his class!  That was fun.
Magic Kingdom at night.  Beautiful!

Watching the dance party with a great view.
The sea of people...

So magical for kids (and big kids).
The throngs of people were slightly off-putting.  It seemed everywhere you went, there were people stopping in the middle of the walkways, slow-moving scooters, and Disney people saying you can't go the logical way.  This problem really came to a head in the evening, during the Main Street Electrical Parade and the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.  They were nearly miserable because of all the people.  We were smashed in like sardines and couldn't see anything well.

Our knees hurt and we didn't get back to the room until after 11pm, but we had a lot of fun!

Day 2 was Animal Kingdom day.  We once again rose early and headed off to the park. 
The Tree of Life is huge and centered in the park.  Very impressive.  In this park, which was mercifully less inundated with people.

Elijah wanted his face painted and he picked a super-hero mask.  We rode/saw: It's Tough to Be a Bug (which scared the boys), Triceratops Spin, Dinosaur, the Boneyard, Finding Nemo - the Musical (fastpass), Kilimanjaro Safari (fastpass), Forest Exploration Trail, Winged Encounters (a fabulous bird show), Festival of the Lion King (fastpass).  We then paused to go on a hunt for a Mickey Fantasia Wizard's hat for Elijah, and finally found one.  We had some time before our dinner reservations, so we adults split and took turns riding Expedition Everest (I LOVED it, but Chris didn't care for going backward).  Then we rode Kali River Rapids as a family, but the sun was setting and Chris and Noah got soaked.  This induced grumpiness, which of course was my fault...

We ate dinner at Tusker House, which had great food and then we caught a bus back to the resort!

Here are some more photos of the day.

One of my favorite pictures also, meeting Donald Duck.

Santa Goofy and Pluto

Expedition Everest Ride

Boys watching birds at lunch.

Excited for the Kilimanjaro Safari!

Noah's one desire: a lollipop.

Sorcerer Elijah.  He wore this nonstop for the rest of the trip.

Us in front of Everest as the sun was setting.
Day 3 was our off day.  We didn't have a park to go to, and Chris had meetings, so the boys and I started off by walking to the Disney's Swan Resort to play mini golf.
Disney's Dolphin Resort - right across from the Swan.
We arrived an HOUR before they opened for mini golf, so the boys played on my phone while I took pictures of the pretty poinsettias that were everywhere.  Disney does a fantastic job of maintaining the grounds.  These poinsettias were glittering like jewels in the morning dew!

Mini golf was fun, it was a Fantasia-inspired course.  The boys are pretty clueless about golf, so we just had fun.  I think their moves more resembled hockey...

Next we decided to explore the many pools on the resort.  The boys particularly loved the sand beach and the water slide.  I forgot my swimsuit at home, so had to watch from the sidelines.  As you can see below, it was sad for poor Mommy.

After getting cleaned up from swimming, we caught a bus to Downtown Disney and walked along the shops, eating at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant and getting ice cream at the Ghiradelli treat shop before returning to the resort.

Day 4 was our Epcot Day.  Chris had morning meetings again, so I took off with the boys and arrived around 8:30am. 

We started off riding The Land - a boat ride through the gardens of Epcot.  It was a favorite ride (we did it twice), though I thought they would hate it.  Then we ride Journey into Imagination, Ellen's Energy Adventure, and Imageworks Labs before stopping to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie at the Character Spot. Noah has a fear of costumed characters, so he wouldn't stand for pictures, but I did coax him into giving each one a high-five (or four if you get technical).  As we were leaving, Elijah was telling me how he wished Pluto was there, and the Disney cast member overheard and pulled us aside to tell us where Pluto was right then, so we headed over and saw him too!

We then met up with Chris for a hibachi lunch in Japan.  It was a lot of fun to watch the chef's theatrics.  It began raining hard while we were eating, so we had to wait a while on the veranda.  Unfortunately, I left my jacket on the stroller, which caught the downpour. :(

After the tasty lunch, we walked through the ending drizzle to use a fastpass on Spaceship Earth, right near the "Ball".
It's so photogenic...
Then we split, Elijah and Chris rode Soarin - a hang-gliding ride, while Noah and I explored the Seas with Nemo and Friends.  The ride was uninspiring, but the aquariums afterward were fun.  We watched dolphins play with divers, saw sea turtles and of course NEMO!  A bunch of NEMO!

Elijah and I then rode Test Track, where we designed and test-drove our own concept vehicle.  Elijah picked a monster truck, of course.  It was his favorite ride at that park.  Then we had 7pm reservations at the Coral Reef restaurant, where we could eat while watching the huge aquarium.  After dinner I rode Mission: Space (I about lost that nice dinner a time or two...), and the boys rode Spaceship Earth again.  We met up to use a fastpass for seating for Illuminations.  It was a fantastic fireworks and laser light show.  Much better experience than Magic Kingdom.  Near the end of the show, it began raining again, so we got warm showers before bed.

Christmas tree and lighted Epcot we admired while waiting for fireworks.

 Day 5 is Hollywood Studios day.  The boys and I decided to ride to this park by boat.  Side note: the Beach Club is an "Epcot" resort, meaning we walked 5 min to Epcot, we were that close.  We could hear Illuminations each night from our room.  The lake I showed in several of the pictures is trolled by boats, which will take you to the Swan, Dolphin, and Boardwalk resorts, as well as Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  It was nice.  Digressing - our boat ride took about 10 minutes and we were dropped off at the front entrance.   Here's a picture of the boys on the boat.

Above, you see the Hollywood Studios icon, Mickey's hat.  We were told that it was going away next month, and they were bringing something else in.  Wonder what it'll be!

We started off seeing the Great Movie Ride, Muppet Vision 3D and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground.  The kids loved the playground with all its slides, pathways, spiderwebs and such.  I had to drag them out.

My favorite picture for the day!
We were just finding seats for the Indiana Jones' Stunt Show when Chris arrived.  So we watched the show together.  It was fun, full of stunts and explosions.  Shortly afterward, we saw the Lights, Camera, Action Stunt Show, which was filled with car and motorcycle stunts.  The boys were mesmerized.

 We saw Beauty and the Beast, the Musical, Elijah and I rode Star Tours, Elijah and Chris rode the Tower of Terror.

We watched Disney Junior, Live on Stage (Noah loved this), and the Little Mermaid puppetry show.  Then we ate dinner quickly and rode Toy Story Mania with a fastpass, which the kids loved.  It was an arcade-style 3D shooting ride.  The last thing of the day was the Fantasmic show - a great ending to the vacation.

The boys waiting for the Fantasmic show.  With their blinding wands.
On day 6 we flew home, pausing for this photo at the Orlando airport.

It was an unforgettable vacation, and a great get-away from life.  We were sad for it to come to an end, but home - with homecooked food, our own beds and bedrooms, and comforts of home were great to return to.  Until next time, Disney, because I'm sure you'll get our money again!

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