Site Meter

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Rest of Disney World

I had such grand plans to blog about every little detail of our wonderful little trip.  And now it is 2 months later!!  So I better write what I can and be done with it before more time goes by!!
The third day (Day 2 without the travel day) of our trip we headed to Epcot.  We had NO idea how much fun we would have.  It was absolutely gorgeous outside.  Before we left, we used some snack credits at our Port Orleans restaurant to buy delicious beignets for breakfast.  So good!  And John Burke woke us all up that morning by humming and singing "Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"  over and over again.  Crack.  Head.

When we got the the park, we immediately bought the boys passports to take with us as we traveled the countries.  All of the people in the countries who stamped their passports were so nice and engaging and made it fun for them. 
We ended up loving traveling around the countries way more than we thought, and I think by the end we hit all but 2.  I thought it would be boring, but it wasn't.  They had coloring stations at each place, and they would offer little handmade drawings or such at almost every one.  John Burke was ALL over that, and I was surprised how intent Turner was on getting as many countries visited as possible.
Germany was Heath's favorite:)
We found Mr. Smee (one of our favorite pirates) in France
It happened to be Valentine's Day and this was a message in the sky.  Disney thinks of everything!
We ate at Coral Reef restaurant for lunch.  This was the view from our lunch table.  It was fancier than other restaurants we had been to,  but the wait staff was great and relaxed.  We watched the fish and then ate some (oops).  The kids even had cupcakes for dessert (not Turner, he won't eat cake or donuts for that matter.  WHY?!?)

Then we ran into Chip and Dale and had them sign our autograph books.  Shortly afterwards, Collins fell asleep in the stroller.  Hallelujah!  I took the boys for our fast pass to Soarin' while Heath stayed with napping Sis.  I don't think I got any pictures, but the boys LOVED the ride.  Especially since the flight we had been building up for weeks was cancelled and we ended up driving.  However, I must have pushed the "flying through the air" thing too much, because as we walked into the ride they both had wide eyes.  While we waited to board, Turner said "I am sad I will never see Daddy and Collins again."  John Burke rubbed his hands together in anticipation and said with a big smile "I can't WAIT to see MeMe!!"  They thought we were going to heaven.  Such innocence.  And I was heart broken to tell John Burke we weren't actually going to the sky/heaven, and laughed at the ease in which Turner thought his life was just over and he was just leaving this Earth for good, no big deal!
Side note - Collins' shoes were "missing" and we ended up buying her these Minnie Mouse crocs in the picture.  Turned out, Turner had locked a pair of her shoes in the hotel safe the first night, and we weren't able to find the key until check-out.)
This picture was one of our favorite things of the whole trip.  We signed the boys up for the Phineas and Ferb game, and it made walking around Mexico so much fun!  They had a cell phone and the game was interactive.  They would receive a mission and then would have to type things in and do a scavenger hunt of sorts in the country.  We caused guitars to play, pinatas to light up and John Burke even was able to send fire down a volcano with his spy phone.  So fun!!  
We traveled a few more countries and then headed to Animal Kingdom and had dinner at Tusker House in "Africa".  It was delicious!  Then we headed back to the hotel after a long day.
John Burke and I decided to do laundry that night.  My travel agent had assured me there were laundry stations around, so I had brought detergent, etc.  By that point, we had enough clothes to fill up the double stroller!  
Who am I??  I don't usually do laundry much on vacation, but it was nice and oddly relaxing!  We headed to bed quickly because we had an EARLY bus ride to breakfast the next morning. 
On Friday, we were at the bus by moonlight - before the sun even rose.  We wanted to make sure we got to Chef Mickey's for our 7 a.m. breakfast...ignoring that that was 6 a.m. central time!
Waiting for the bus to eat with Mickey and then a long day at Magic Kingdom
Sunrise at Chef Mickey's 
A great buffet and lots of pictures and autographs
The man himself
Goofy!  I was glad my kids were all about the characters.  It was so fun to watch them!!

Finished with Minnie...Collins' favorite!!  Luckily we didn't have to chase princesses this trip (I KNOW she will be all about them next time), so Minnie was her indulgence!  Chef Mickey's was so fun and one of the best things we did - definitely worth it.  Can you tell my family didn't do character dinners when I was little?:)
We rode to Magic Kingdom on the monorail, and our first stop was the carousel by Cinderella's castle.  Of all rides!!  My kids could have done this over and over and Collins would not stop begging to ride it!  We let her since she didn't have an opinion on much else on the trip.

We headed to Dumbo and it was one of the kids' favorites, but this was the best picture we got
Then we used one of our Fast Passes for Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster.  So FUN!!  Collins was barely tall enough, but only two could ride at a time, so we did the ride swap and got to take each kid.
Pure joy
She thinks she is so big.  This was definitely Heath's favorite thing to enjoy with the kids!  He even took them back the next day, which is why he is in different shirts...
After Barnstormin' it, we met up with Ellie and Kate and Jay in Magic Kingdom.  We did the tree house and the pirate ride and the Peter Pan ride with them.  Love her!
Turner before he was able to purchase his prized "cutlass" sword.  I didn't know he knew that word...too much pirate watching for him, but he did use it in context!!  We grabbed lunch in the park and then headed back to the room for a nap.  
We headed to Downtown Disney for the beloved Lego store.  They loved it and all of the lego characters, and while we visited, Heath put our name down at T-Rex for dinner.
The food was amazing - I was pleasantly surprised and we were glad to get away from Disney food for just a meal.
Huge dinosaurs around us that "came to life" every 15 minutes.  Very cool.
Thank you, Downtown Disney, for entertaining us!  I had a cool thing happen on the bus on the way there.  Heath and Collins were in the front of the bus, but the boys loved to sit in the back, so I let them this time.  I heard them fighting, so I headed back there with them.  Well, John Burke would not let up and went on to pitch a total fit.  Screaming, hitting...wouldn't stop.  Surprisingly, each child probably only had one of these melt downs the whole trip and this was his.  I was sweating and nervous as people around me were staring and he would NOT stop.  Heath was too far away and the bus had gotten more crowded.  I was mid-way through threatening his life, and the sweet lady next to me (whom he had kicked with his croc unintentionally mid-fit) said to me, "Honey, we are in Disney World.  He is young and over-stimulated and I promise all of us understand."  Then 3 other women chimed in about experiences like this and laughed it off.  It was such a blessing to share that moment right then - they were such encouragers and turned around an awful situation.  I hope I am able to respond like that in similar situations instead of rolling my eyes like they easily could have!!
Mesmerized with pay phones as we left Downtown Disney - their minds were blown!
Day 5 - our last day
We decided to head back to Magic Kingdom to blow it out one last day and make sure we hadn't missed anything.  We were able to check out early from our hotel (since we drove, we wanted to get out a night early to head towards home).  We rode the Barnstormer again, the steam engine train around the park (the little things that my kids were impressed with!), the Haunted Mansion (didn't scare them...luckily..Collins yelled "Hey!" to all the ghosts the whole time).  Collins' favorite ride was the Winnie the Pooh ride.
She meant business and was intent on doing everything the boys did that she could
She picked a tiny "Pooh" as her souvenir
Later we wandered around to the Monster's Inc Laugh floor, Buzz Lightyear and then signed up for a Sorcerer's Game, kind of similar to the Phineas and Ferb game from Epcot.  I probably got more involved than Turner.  I love a good scavenger hunt...or any kind of game.  Collins fell asleep in the stroller and the boys went with Heath to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  This was the one ride all week where we had to wait in line, and they ended up waiting an hour.  So Collins and I strolled around and I may or may not have followed 2 11-year old boys (and then apologized profusely to their parents) when I got stumped on my sorcerer game.  
Collins was too short for this one, so I was so glad she was asleep.  This was their favorite ride by far!
Heath's selfie with his big roller coaster boys.  He said their faces were worth the wait in line!
We finished our trip with dinner at Crystal Palace and the characters from Winnie the Pooh.  However, it was a buffet and we finished eating before the other 3 characters came by.  So we made our time with Tigger special and bounced out of there!  We were absolutely sure we had seen every single thing we wanted to in Disney World and especially Magic Kingdom and were okay heading home.  Trip of a lifetime (with 3 small children:)) and Heath and I were so shocked at how truly magical it was and how organized Disney made everything!  We might be "those" people now:)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Disney World - Travel and Day 1

Back in the Fall at an Auburn game, my sister-in-law Kate was talking about the trip to Disney World that she and Jay were planning.  All of a sudden I asked her if we could plan a trip at the same time.  Heath wasn't completely sold, but agreed to let me pursue it and the rest was history! 
We planned a trip for February and surprised the kids with it on Christmas morning.  They each opened a Disney book that played music, and afterwards we told them that we would actually be flying in an airplane to "Disney Junior" as Turner refers to it.  They were excited, but then quickly moved on to the next Christmas toy in all the madness.  So a few nights later, we decided to make an old-fashioned paper chain to count down the days until Disney World.  We sat down and wrote all the things we were excited about Disney (such as Jake and the Pirates, Minnie Mouse, Doc McStuffins, etc.) and wrote them on each strip of paper.  Then each day we tore one off until the time for the trip - I am thinking it was about 67 days...the boys never forgot:)
After so many days of anticipation and excitement, we were finally scheduled to fly out of town on February 12th.  We had a flight through Atlanta, leaving late morning and arriving early afternoon.  Sounded easy enough.  Two days before, the weather started taking a turn and it looked like Atlanta was going to be covered in snow.  The next day we had to make a call - wait and see how the airports did (didn't seem promising) or go ahead and leave a day early and drove.  We decided to go for it and make the drive.
These arrived in the mail a few weeks before we left.  They are Magic Bands, and they were fabulous!!
Side note - I had no idea what to do at Disney World, and a friend recommended using a Disney Travel  agent.  I was introduced (by phone) to Kendra Wolfe at Zipadeedoodah Travel and she was wonderful!!  She planned every single detail of our trip - helped me decide park passes, days at the park, hotels, dining plans and most importantly food while we were there.  I didn't have to pay her anything - she was compensated by Disney for booking us.  We had a fabulous experience with her and I will definitely use her again!
Just a little excitement in the car.  We loaded up on movies and crayons and coloring books and stickers and headed on our way.
We stopped in Tallahassee to get gas on the way down, and actually ran into Caroline - Heath's new step-sister!  How crazy is that?!  She would kill us for this picture, but she is in culinary school and had just finished class and was on her way home.  
We drove about an hour longer, and ended up stopping in Lake City, FL for the night.  Since the storm had hit Atlanta, more people than we realized were driving south to get away.  It was crazy, and we snatched up the last "suite" at a Country Inn and Suites.  We were lucky enough to get a jacuzzi tub right in the room.  It grossed me out - it was really in the middle of the hotel room.  But, I somehow got over it and found it a perfect place to bathe my monkeys.
We keep it classy:)
First of many sibling pics - after a hearty breakfast at Cracker Barrel
We grabbed breakfast and then drove about 2 more hours.  The kids were pretty patient, and did well in the car.  Princess even fell asleep as we got close to Orlando.
The excitement did her in
Yay!  I stood out of the sunroof to get this picture, so I was just as excited I guess!  We checked in to our hotel (Port Orleans French Quarter) and it was 80 degrees and sunny.  Collins and I stayed in the car while Heath and the boys got us settled, and then we woke her up and decided to head to Animal Kingdom.  It was only about 1:00 at this point, and we didn't have dinner reservations until 8:00 that night.
Waiting on our bus to Animal Kingdom.  The buses at the hotel were very easy to navigate and dropped us off at the front of every park - we enjoyed them!

On the Dumbo-like Dino ride
We spent some time in the Dino section of Animal Kingdom first.  We rode some dinosaur rides and then ate lunch in Dino-land.  There was a Mickey parade that mesmerized us, a "boneyard" playground where we could dig for fossils and ran and played, and then our favorite thing - a safari!
We loaded this "tour bus" and geared up for our African safari.

Some views from our ride...Turner helped maybe a little too much with some of the pictures:)
Check out those horns!!
A white rhino
His version of a "selfie" - luckily he doesn't know that term yet
This zebra was about 2 feet away!
Turner took this one
We loved Animal Kingdom!
After our safari, we decided to head back to the hotel.  Orlando has some crazy weather, and it decided to storm right as we were getting on the bus.  Perfect timing, since we made it on the bus in time!  We rested for a little bit and got ready for dinner at Ohana, inside the Polynesian Hotel.
It is a Hawaiian themed restaurant and SO DELICIOUS!!  Clearly our travel agent insisted we go there, since our reservation wasn't until 8 p.m.  It was pushing it a little, but it was 7 our time and we were running on adrenaline.  There is no menu, they just bring you luau-type food.  We had steak, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, noodles - all family style and delivered to our table.  It was great!
Delicious drinks too:)
During dinner, there was a game where kids could pick a coconut and sweep it across the restaurant.  It was hilarious and kept John Burke especially entertained.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel.  On our monorail and bus ride, we met a nice family from Wisconsin who told us they had had 46 days straight below zero.  It made me put our winter in perspective!  They had 2 kids that played with our kids in line for the bus and on the way to the hotel.  It was so fun meeting people from all over!
Some thoughts at the end of the first day - I was already impressed with the layout of the hotel, playground, buses, etc. and the ease of the Magic Bands.  It was our room key, our meal ticket, our ticket into the park, etc. - so EASY!  A little thing but I really love all the Disney options on the hotel t.v. and the fact that our dining deal included a mug for use at the hotel soft drink fountain for unlimited drinks during our stay.  Yes. Please. Also, Collins had her own little "bedroom" (small space) behind a curtain next to our bathroom, and it was so nice to partition her off!  
The next morning, we headed to Hollywood Studios.  We had a reservation for 9:10 at Hollywood and Vine to eat with Jake (of the Neverland Pirates!!!)
This is Katherine from the blog - I read her blog and it is so funny.  My stalker self spotted her walking in with her family, and against Heath's advice I went and spoke to her.  Luckily she was very sweet and her dad even wanted to take a picture - it was like a celebrity (blog-a-lebrity) to me and I was so thankful she didn't think I was insane!  She and her family were eating at Hollywood and Vine as well.
We also spotted this celebrity - our cousin Ellie!!  We were so excited to eat with her.

Delicious buffet complete with Mickey waffles and then our Disney Junior favorites came to visit...
 Doc McStuffins

Sofia the First - John Burke was obsessed, Collins a little doubtful.  They were the perfect age for these characters - it was so magical for them and they hugged them and asked them to sign their books. Such a fun memory!
We danced and ate and finished with our signatures and then headed to walk around.  Thanks to Fast Passes (also accessed by our Magic Bands), we had a schedule set for us of a Disney Junior show, Little Mermaid show and then Buzz Lightyear.  First we found the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground and stayed there for about an hour until the Disney Junior Show.  

Waiting outside of the Disney Junior show.  It was so cute - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Pirates, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First all mixed in one show.  They were in love!
We were on the front row - thank you Fast Passes!

The Little Mermaid show
Outside of the Toy Story ride
views of Andy's bedroom in the ride - SO COOL!

Outside of the ride.  After this, we were tired and headed back to the hotel for lunch and a nap.  Everyone slept, and I think that is what made the trip enjoyable with Collins:)  We didn't stop and go back to the room every day, but we tried to when possible to avoid meltdowns.
We woke up and decided to head to get our first glimpse of the Magic Kingdom.  Our travel agent gave us some great folders with information about each park, etc.  One of them mentioned that the Barber Shop near the entrance of Magic Kingdom offered first haircuts for children.  It was different than the Bippity Boppity Boutique - Collins was still a little young for that, but we (I) thought we would give the Harmony Barber Shop a try.  Heath was a little hesitant, but I reminded him of this mullet.
Time for her first haircut.
They were so sweet and got her all set up
She wasn't so sure, but Skittles helped motivate her as they sprayed and cut

Pardon all the air time, but it was her first hair cut!! I think Turner got an entire blog post for his first haircut.  Collins just got hers lumped in at Disney World!

She warmed up as everyone fussed over her
Then they sprinkled "fairy dust" on her
She got her own little Mickey hat and a certificate and they gave me her hair in a special pouch
So cute and much better cut!!
Someone else couldn't resist the fairy dust - Disney cast members just understand kids!!
The temperature started dropping outside and we headed to our first ride in Magic Kingdom - It's A Small World!

We walked around a little more, grabbed dinner at Cosmic Ray's and geared up for the parade and fireworks.

Stroller buddies - mesmerized
Again - Disney knows how to wow kids (and adults)
Castle at night
Light show on the castle
I REALLY love fireworks - even on a chilly February night
We headed back to the room and Jay, Kate and Ellie came to visit.  Perfect ending to the perfect first official day!!!  More to come...and sorry for all of the pictures, but I don't want to forget!!