Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth Trip!

Yes, another Disney World trip!  We surprised the kids on Saturday morning by telling them we were driving to Disney World that morning.  They were shocked and confused but then got excited after they understood what we were talking about better.  So, about 9:30, we were off!  We decided to drive Brett's Cavalier instead of my Rendezvous for the better gas mileage. We knew it would be tight but thought it was the better idea. It was, we averaged 33 miles to the gallon, which was basically 2 less gas stops then we would have had with my car.  And the kids didn't seem to car that we were a little more cramped either.  Bonus for having small kids!
We drove to Valdosta, GE, which is near the Georgia/Florida boarder on Saturday and spent the night.  That left us just a 3.5 hour drive for Sunday.  We left about 8am on Sunday and drove into Orlando, we did hit bad traffic due to an accident only 30 miles from Disney and were stopped for about 45 minutes.  But we arrived safely and that's what matters. 
Our first stop was Downtown Disney, the large (free) shopping area.  Matthew loved the Lego Store, he picked out some Star Wars Lego guys (note: we had over $250 in Disney Dollars due to some savvy planning by me so we were happy to buy the kids some nice souvenirs this trip).  Kylie picked out a bracelet.  We had lunch at a really good sandwich shop called Earl of Sandwich.  It was my desire this trip to try new things - new restaurants, new rides, new experiences.  This sandwich shop was yummy!  After walking around a little while, we decided to head to the hotel, hoping that our room would be ready.

We were staying at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, a moderate-priced resort.  We chose this one because the pool had Zero-entry, a plus for Matthew and there was slides and playthings in the pool area for the kids.  The resort itself was very large, 5 groups of buildings with 6 building in each group.  We were in the Jamaica area.  Each area had it's own smaller pool and a beach.  There was also an island that we crossed to get to the main pool, which the kids thought was cool.  The room was ok, nothing special.  Brett was mad that the mini fridge was broken but after a few phone calls to maintenance, we got it replaced.
We spent the next few hours at the big pool, enjoying the break from the heat.  Matthew liked the kids pool area and Kylie loved the big pool and slides.

We decided to have dinner and relax that evening at The Boardwalk area, another place we had never been.  We enjoyed it, they had street performers, shops and food.  Matthew got to help a performer who kept "dropping" his cups and Kylie got to hold a scarf while the performer pulled another one out of her pigtail.  It was funny and a nice way to spend our evening. 

Epcot! That was our destination for our first full day at Disney.  We were up early and got to the park before it opened, just as planned.  Note:  This was the first time we stayed on-site but had a car.  It was so easy to drive on our own and not rely on the buses.  Not that the buses aren't good and easy but it was nice to arrive faster and without waiting.  After having our bags checked and tickets scanned, we were in the park.  We quickly, and I mean quickly, made our way to Soarin', the most popular ride at Epcot.  I left the group and got in line for Fast Pass, a ticket that gives you an assigned time to return with very little wait.  The FastPass wait was about 15 mins but I got us 4 passes (we knew Matthew was an inch short of the required height but thought we'd try and see). 

Met up with Brett and the kids outside and we headed to the Oceans building to ride Finding Nemo (a fun kids ride where you ride in the clam-mobile) and see Turtle Talk with Crush which is an interactive video show.  Crush, the sea turtle from Nemo, talks to the kids in the audience and actually answers live questions, it's insane how real it looks and how amazing the technology is.  Isn't not like watching a scripted movie.  Kylie was called on for one of her questions, she asked what turtles like to eat (sea grass, which makes them green).  Crush asked what her favorite food was and she said pizza so he then asked if she was pizza colored.  LOL

 Kylie spotted a "hidden Mickey" in this oyster shell

Next we checked out a new area called Innovations East, where we played a game that taught the kids about investing money.  Kylie chose to save money for college while Matthew saved money for a room make-over.  Kylie and I didn't diversify our money well enough and lost some so we didn't have enough to pay for college.  Matthew and Brett did a better job spreading out their money and got the new room!
The Piggy Banks they used to play the investment game.

While we were playing the Investment game, the Cast Member noticed my birthday button. 
 Suddenly, I had a phone call from Goofy, who wished me a happy birthday!

Next Kylie and I rode Soarin' since Matthew wasn't tall enough (he and Brett enjoyed some cotton candy and beer).  Soarin' was awesome, as always.  Glad we got FP's since the wait at that time was over 70 minutes.  We all watched Circle of Life and Brett and Kylie rode Mission Space, her favorite ride.  Matthew and I went back into the Innovations East to cool off (high of 99*).  Then we all walked up to our lunch at Le Cellier, a highly rated steakhouse.  The food was really good, we loved the pretzel bread! 

We decided to try something new in the World Showcase area, the Kim Possible game.  We headed to Norway (after a quick stop in Mexico for a ride, margarita and picture with Donald Duck) to help Kim Possible save the world.  We got a cell phone that sent us missions and clues to solve.  It was fun but Kylie got obsessive about it which made it not so fun.  We did another mission in China too.  While in China, Matthew and Kylie got to see Mulan and get her autograph.  She teased Matthew and wouldn't give him his book back if he didn't give her a kiss!  Matthew got pretty shy but did it, then ran away.  The crowd was laughing!
Kylie with Donald, Matthew didn't feel like getting out of his stroller for a pic!
Kim Possible Mission in China

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the countries, eating and drinking.  The kids did each countries "KidCot" area.  Matthew fell asleep so Brett took him into the America area to watch a movie while Kylie hula-hooped and danced outside.  After visiting each country, we did some shopping, and rode our last ride of the night - Spaceship Earth - the ride inside the "ball".  We left just after the fireworks started, we had been there for 12 hours and were ready for bed!

Tuesday was Pool Day!!  I got up early for a run, the heat and humidity mixed with tired legs from walking so much made those 3.4 miles feel like 10!  Everyone was still sleeping when I got back so I went back to bed too.  Once we all got up,  the kids and I headed to the beach while Brett went for his run.  We played in the sand for a while until the pool opened up and Brett finished his run.

The kids really enjoyed the pool.  Matthew liked the kids pool but also liked to swim in the bigger pool with a life jacket on.  Kylie was all over the pool, up and down slides, just having a blast.  She was not happy to break for lunch (we just ate at the quick service restaurant at the resort) but cheer up once she saw her lunch was served in a sand bucket.  We swam even with it started raining but had to get out once the lightening started.  We went back to the room, showered and got ready for our fun evening.

Going with the "trying new things" theme of this trip, we decided to see the Hoop de Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort.  It's highly rated so I was really looking forward to it.  Brett was looking forward to the unlimited beer and ribs.  The kids didn't know what to expect.  Man, we were so happy that we went!  It was so fun, we were laughing like crazy, the kids were excited the whole time, the entertainers were super funny and our waitress was excellent (brought more beer and sangria before our cups were even close to being empty).  I think this show was the highlight of my trip!

Next up was Chip and Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long, also at the Fort Wilderness Resort, another new experience and bonus that it was free!  We got there just as they were starting up the fires so we roasted some s'mores, hugged and played ball with Chip and Dale and then sang along to a bunch of campfire songs.  The guitarist did a really good job, he was pretty funny.  Later they showed a movie on their outdoor big screen, we watched about 30 minutes The Sorcerer's Apprentice (we needed to get back to the hotel for bed). 

Wednesday morning we were up bright and early for Magic Kingdom!  We got there about 8:45 for the 9:00 opening.  It was already hot, high expected of 99*.  We got through bag check and saw the train bring in all the characters as they sang and danced to open up the park.  So fun to see them all together.
 Taking the ferry from the parking lot to MK.  The Grand Floridian hotel is in the distance.

Once we got in, we hurried to Dumbo because that line never goes down!  Brett and the kids rode it together while I grabbed FP's for Peter Pan's Flying Adventure (nearly lost Kylie's ticket when I left it at the FP booth but it was still there when I went back to look for it, whew!).   After Dumbo we rode Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Cup Party and Tomorrowland Speedway (I rode this with Matthew and he enjoyed driving himself!).  I ran down to Buzz Lightyear's ride and got FP's and met up with the kids to ride Peter Pan and watched Mickey's Philharmonic (air conditioning!). 
 First time meeting Pinocchio!
 Riding Dumbo

 Mad Tea Cups!  

Next up was Frontierland where Kylie and Brett rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and we had lunch at Peco Bill's.  Then we walked over to Adventureland and waiting in a surprisingly long line for Pirates of the Caribbean (usually a 5 minute wait, this was nearly 22 mins).  Matthew loved this ride, especially because they changed a little part of it for the new Pirates movie.  We watched the Pirate's League show next and were so excited that Kylie was chosen from the crowd to get sword fighting lessons from Captain Jack.  Next up was Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride, which Matthew and I sat out and got 2 Dole Whip ice cream treats instead (so good!!!). 
 Big Thunder Mountain!

We walked over to Tomorrowland next and watched Monster's Inc Laugh Factory and then rode Buzz Lightyear.  It started raining pretty good by this time but the kids didn't care.  We went back to Liberty Square to ride Haunted Mansion (another longer wait, probably because of the rain) and then It's a Small World (really long wait - posted 20 min wait time which was accurate for us but 100 min wait time when we got off!!!!   Who waits 100 minutes to ride that ride????!!!)

Our afternoon was winding down so we went to the new Town Square Theater to met Mickey and Minnie for a picture.  Then an early dinner at Tomorrowland Terrace and shopping for souvenirs.  Matthew picked out a big Mickey Mouse pirate ship, Kylie picked out Lotso-Hugging-Bear from TS3 and a Candance plush to go with her Perry that she got when we came in February.  I got my usual Christmas ornament, a Mickey pen and a travel coffee mug.  Brett spent his souvenir money on beer, which he always does!

It's always sad to leave Disney World.  Especially this time because we don't have any idea when we'll be back.  But I know we'll talk many times about our memories of this magical place!!