Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 6 - Small World? ....again?

This post is from the day after Christmas. I will return to my somewhat normal blog writing after day 7...or 8! ;) I'm almost there!

We knew the drill this time - DON'T TAKE THE FERRY! After parking, we took the monorail system over to the Magic Kingdom. It was a better ride.

After our tourist-must-have photo moment at the main entrance, we proceeded down Main Street, this time expecting the grandmas to venture off into a shop. We found the hat shop, which bled into the candy shop. Mom bought me a tea kettle (Alice in Wonderland theme) for my collection and Grandma Carmen got one too! Love it! Of course, Dominic discovered the chocolate and had to have some of that. Further down Main Street, we spotted a barbershop quartet on our way to Tomorrowland. Ahh, it seems like yesterday that we were there. Wish I were there now!

After receiving FastPasses for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, we spent some time viewing the Carousel of Progress - ooh scary. Donovan WAS NOT going to sit in a theater to view an animated Walt Disney tell his story. The kid was not going to have it, so Rudy attempted to contain him closer toward the exit, in case he really got out of control. He eventually calmed down. At the exit, we met up with Buzz Lightyear himself. The kids got his "stamp of approval" since his huge jointless fingers wouldn't allow for an autograph. Off we go to ride the Space Ranger Spin, with everyone all aboard for some swift competition in defeating Emperor Zurg. I must say, I did pretty well for having Devin in my lap. ahem.

Next up, we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (also formerly known as the People Mover here at Disneyland in California). Dominic and Donovan loved it and wanted to go again. They did. The grandmas went for the 2nd trip, and Bianca too. Feeling a need for speed and some self control, Rudy, Grandma Carmen, Bianca, Donovan and Dominic tested their driving skills at the Speedway. I love the barrier they put down the middle of your path - no changing lanes here! After the whiplashes, ice cream seemed to cure everything. The Mickey bars are the yummiest!

By this time (although I'm losing memory of details at this point) it was nearing our FastPass boarding for The Jungle Cruise. See how much walking we do? From Tomorrowland to Adventureland we go! I was disappointed we had to take this ride in the dark... although it was pretty adventurous and the tour guides are a lot funnier in the evening, they say! After our cruise, we figured we'd go see what the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean was. 10 minutes!!! Normally, it'd be 120 minutes to wait in line, but everyone must have been out watching parades at this point because the crowd thinned out in this area. Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me!

Fearing the time would slip from us as usual, we wanted to be sure to visit Mickey's Toontown Fair. It's a bit different here than the one in California. Rudy and Dominic rode The Barnstormer, Donovan took a snooze in the stroller and some of us went shopping after touring Minnie's house. Bianca went a bit crazy in the hat department....

Donovan awoke from his nap while enroute to see the wait time for Peter Pan's Flight. It was always too long. Why is this attraction so popular? Each time we got a FastPass to it, the return time was 12:15 IN THE MORNING!!!! That wasn't going to happen, so with Donovan's request, we rode It's a Small World again. The fireworks kept the crowds away and we enjoyed singing through the ride, once again.

Our night concluded with a spin in the teacups on the Mad Tea Party ride, a stroll back down Main Street, a shopping excursion of course, and even a little snow flurry was witnessed here in Orlando at the Happiest Place on Earth! A magical ending to our long day.

I took this picture in case we forgot where we parked,
or if we were too sleepy to remember.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 5 continued - More of the Magic

Ready to burn off those breakfast buffet calories, naturally we headed left from The Crystal Palace (see post below) and into Adventureland. We got a taste, firsthand, on how long lines might be for rides throughout the day. Our first stop was the Swiss Family Treehouse. After the first set of stairs, Grandma Gertie felt she'd better turn around while she had the opportunity and sit this one out - Grandma's not quite Tarzan material. Rudy, Bianca, Dominic, Donovan and I took each and every step feeling the pain of the mileage we put on our legs from days prior.
While the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean were ridiculously long waits (2+ hours), the gang went to view The Enchanted Tiki Room, while I dodged my way through parade viewers over to Splash Mountain for FastPasses (return time 2:20 pm). Rounding the corner into Frontierland, the boys went to play in Tom Sawyer Island while some of us caught a quick wink or two:
This attraction was quite popular!
(Grandma discovered Papa's comfy seat.)

Once the boys returned, to kill even more time, we boarded the Walt Disney World Railroad and enjoyed a scenic roundtrip excursion around the park. We made it back to Frontierland in perfect time to experience Splash Mountain. Rudy and Dominic rode in front of Bianca and I. Bianca was eyeballing the nearest exits before we even boarded! I forced her into the boat and was surprised that she actually lifted her head to scream down the mountain:

Rudy and Dominic in red; us girls, bringing up the rear!

We ended up seeing the tail end of another parade in route to have some lunch in Liberty Square. If I remember correctly, we all got to ride It's A Small World (and never forget the lyrics!) before Rudy and I had to be back to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at our FastPass Return time.

Venturing toward Main Street (or the quickest exit?) we were in search of hunkering down for the evening for fireworks and the Electric Light Parade. Our search came to a halt as we were trapped in a sea of wandering people going in different directions..and some, not going anywhere! So we, too, stood our ground and actually got an excellent view of the Holiday Wishes Fireworks display over the top of Cinderella's Castle. The castle was gorgeous all aglow with lights. Oftentimes, the light shining on the castle would change from white to light blue to almost purple. Beautiful! And because we stood here for so long, watching a near 45-minute display of pyrotechnics set to music, Donovan became hateful of "the castle". The castle was now a landmark he didn't want to see again. I'm guessing the loud fireworks and pure exhaustion mixture didn't please him. Somehow, we were able to maneuver our clan closer to Main Street and discovered a wheelchair/ECV only area (with guests!) for Papa to park. Hooray! With front row seating for the SpectroMagic Parade, Donovan was sound asleep between my legs on the cold ground. He missed the entire parade!

We exited the park knowing we'd be back the next day. But first, of course, we had to stop for that Kodak moment.. a tired one:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 5 - A TIGGER-ific Christmas Day! (Part One)

I'm not sure how many "parts" this day will be, but it seems my blog posts are spreading further apart and I'm never reaching the end of our fun-filled week! I miss my regular chaotic weekend posts and can't wait to get back to them. With determination, I will get through these WDW posts and my happy blog readers can thank me later.

On Christmas Day, the kids awoke (barely!) to stockings filled by Santa. The jolly self had also left a letter for the kids stating that he'd be visiting our home in California later that night and that he just left a few things in their stockings for now. Thank goodness - as I don't know how we could have crammed anymore into our suitcases!

We had 9:15 AM reservations at The Crystal Palace for breakfast. Onward we go, running a little behind. We boarded the ferry (<--- great experience, bad choice!) to take us across to Magic Kingdom. That the was longest Disney ride ever! Now, already late for our reservations, we scurried through bag check, the ticket station and forced our way down Main Street (keeping the Grandmas from wandering off into any stores) in search of our destination. Yep, we're late. They got us in as soon as possible, although breakfast would soon be over by the time we got seated. We got the tail end of breakfast, and a few other "tails" too!

The entire Character Breakfast experience was fantastic! Or, as Tigger would say, "fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!" The kids enjoyed their Mickey waffles while the rest of us just enjoyed being seated! Gosh! Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore made their rounds a few times while we were there. They even did a little conga-line/parade routine that Grandma Carmen joined in the tail end of. I missed it standing in line for an omelet. For being Christmas Day, I was quite surprised at how great the service was. It was nice being away from the crowds for a change. There were even a few vacant tables while we were there making it spacious and a bit more comfortable. With our tummies full, we were ready to begin the day at the Happiest Place on Earth!

You knew this post would end here, right?

More to come!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 4 - Christmas Eve at Epcot

I had originally planned for Wednesday to be a day to slow down a bit and just visit a few of the resorts on the Disney World property. Some of the resorts are nearly themeparks in themselves! That plan obviously got axed. So here we are at Epcot:

Bianca, Grandma Carmen, Rudy
Dominic (in stroller) Devin and Papa Gertie.
Anyone know where Donovan was?

My parents (aka Grandma and Papa Gertie)

Rudy and Bianca immediately ran off to get FastPasses for Soarin', with a return time of 2:15 pm or so in the afternoon. We slowly wandered about trying to figure out what we'd do before then. After observing Innoventions, the crew found the Character Spot - the one stop spot for collecting autographs and photo opportunities with favorite Disney characters. Standing in line for over an hour, Bianca and Dominic had their moment with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Score! Wait... They didn't get Pluto's autograph "because they already had him." Boy, how do you think that made Pluto feel being dissed like that? I'm sure it's a long wait for little ones (and big ones too), but also so worth it in the end!

Craving a taco (or something greasy?), we headed to Mexico in the World Showcase area of the park. Thankfully, it was the first country represented at the leftmost side of the park. It took a while to get there, with frozen lemonade and pizza for the kids purchased along the way. We sat down and had lunch amongst the seagulls and stored up enough energy to head back to Future World and catch our slotted time to ride Soarin'. I'm so glad my dad got to experience this ride with us! What a blast! Since we were in the area, we also hopped aboard Living with the Land, a boat voyage. It was a relaxing little cruise through greenhouses and a fish farm.

We're exhausted! It was getting dark at this point and we had one last thrill ride to go on before calling it a day: Test Track. This is where we got to experience being a Test Crash Dummy. The noise of this ride was haunting. Add the darkness factor and we were in for one wild ride.

We came out alive, but sore. Sore from all the walking we had done these past few days. We had come to the end of our Epcot visit with the entire World Showcase still left to see! Once again, we vowed to return to the park at a later time to finish seeing all there is to see. Thank goodness we got the 7-day park hopper passes!

We return to our hotel in hopes that Santa would certainly see us sleeping for his Christmas Day visit. Our Christmas Day was nothing but magical... at the Magic Kingdom of course!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 3 - Part Deaux

Needless to say, we all woke up a bit later than that 7:30 am we had focused on. So instead, the day was started with Papa and Rudy out to find the nearest pharmacy to get Devin's antibiotics (as the dose given at the hospital would soon wear off). That took longer than expected, but gave us back at the room, some time to prepare for the day ahead (again!).

Instead of spending the now-not-so-full day at Epcot, we figured we'd push this off so that an entire day could be devoted to it. Our plan for today, was to go back and finish where we left off at Animal Kingdom and end the day at Downtown Disney. I'm a genius! Off we go!

I understand this is Florida, but you think they could
squeeze one more gator in there?

Our transportation for the Kilimanjaro Safari: A great adventure.
Unfortunately, on our excursion, we weren't so lucky to see any giraffes or zebras.

We saw quite a few elephants though.

We were now satisfied with having seen such wild animals out in their own habitat. Next we climbed aboard the Wildlife Express Train to take us to Rafiki's Planet Watch. This was a cute little area to learn about research programs, care of different creatures and their habitats, etc. At the Affection Section, the kids got to pet and brush some domestic animals, mainly goats. They (the goats) loved it!

Somebody was smart - "Let the kids do their grooming!"
Brilliant idea!

Our stay at Animal Kingdom, once again, ended in darkness, when the park closes. Another full day was had. With determination and the thought of Christmas Day only two days away, we took a stroll at Downtown Disney and made some purchases at the huge World of Disney Store. Seriously, why don't they have maps for these stores? You could get lost in there!

We stumbled upon a Harley Davidson store.
I'm sure Bianca knows better than to put one of these on her list!

Back at the hotel, we discovered we somehow ended up with the
3-D Bug glasses from the
It's Tough to be a Bug show that we saw.
Donovan is sporting them here in this picture.

Coming up next... Epcot! Really!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 3 - Epcot .... NOT!

You see, I had it all planned out. It was going so well. Day 2 ended in our familiar routine: Grandma Gertie uploading pictures to her laptop (lucky to get an email out); Grandma Carmen starting a load of laundry; the boys taking their bath in the jacuzzi tub; Bianca admiring her stash of souvenirs for the day; I tried to get the next day's attire ready for everyone and restock the backpack with diapers and baby food... we were busy. Everyone crashed for the night after given a 7:3o am verbal wake-up notice!

We found ourselves searching on the internet for the nearest hospital just after midnight. Little Devin was not himself. Our happy, bubbly, snuggly guy would not settle down to sleep and instead, curdly cries were coming out. Nothing soothed him. I gave him Tylenol, thinking it was his teeth, but it was something more bothersome. It was going to be a long, sleepless night if something wasn't done. I couldn't ruin the sleep of the 6 other people in our suite. After calling the front desk for the nearest hospital, Rudy and I were on our way (with our handy GPS) and arrived at the Celebration Hospital ER. We practically had to ring a bell for service! Devin had quieted down by this time, showing no sign of the ailing-self he was and making us look like dumb tourists in a foreign hospital. I've heard this story before: no temperature, oxygen level great, heartrate just fine, etc. What are we doing here? After a seemingly long wait for the doctor, just as I suspected, not one, but two ear infections - as red as Rudy's bloodshot eyes at this point! Poor buggar!

One tired Momma and her cub.

A round of antibiotics and some eardrops were immediately given and we walked out of the ER with a prescription in hand at nearly 4:00 AM!!! The drive back to our hotel suite was long enough to replan the day's activities. How could we possibly wake up in nearly 3 hours ready to spend the day at Epcot? Think, think, think.... be continued...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 2 - A Birthday in Hollywood!

Monday, December 22nd was Grandma Carmen's birthday. What a fun way to spend the day...celebrating a birthday at a Disney Park. It was definitely her special day, as she got to wear a special button to let everyone know it was her birthday. People who saw it were sure to give her special attention, many happy birthdays and lots of exposure. Pretty special.

We spent the day at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). Rudy and Bianca headed off upon entry to get FastPasses for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride. The rest of us found a gift shop to raid. We walked the streets of the park and found Handy Manny, then Leo from The Little Einsteins. What a kick!

As three of us went to ride the Tower of Terror (pure terror for one of us!), Dominic and Donovan got to meet Mickey Mouse inside a building along Mickey Avenue. Little did they know they should have had their autograph books. Thankfully Grandma Gertie had her camera at least! Devin took a snooze in the stroller while waiting with Papa outside the building.

Next, while cruising for something to eat, we came across Green Army Men, Yellow Ranger and Blue Ranger - a truly magical sighting for this mom of a 6-year-old boy! Dominic was in awe; just truly stunned at the findings. Bianca got some pointers from Blue Ranger on how to pose, and a group photo was taken.
The kids played at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. Papa Gertie got lost and found his way back toward the entrance/exit in hopes of us returning. The kids were all over the place! Donovan loved stomping on the tree stumps that made music. Some great pics were taken here, but I'll spare you the overload for now.

For the birthday girl, we enjoyed a VIP seating pass to the
Fantasmic Show after a buffet-style dinner. This was the coldest night of our entire trip and it very much reminded us of being home in California. This was really odd weather for Orlando!

Our magical day concluded with The Osbourne Family's Spectacle of Lights. Simply stunning. We really felt like we were in a winter wonderland, as it was so cold. This display of lights reminded us that this really was Christmas! It was truly amazing to stand within the illuminated Streets of America.

For Day 3, our planned visit to Epcot was interrupted and rescheduled after an unexpected illness. Three of us didn't get the needed sleep for a full day of exploring ahead! Stay tuned....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Day 1 - Animal Kingdom

Thank goodness for GPS systems! I'm sure we'd end up with the gators if we didn't have them. These handy devices got us to where we needed to go each day. It sure beats reading a map!

For our first park, we visited Disney's Animal Kingdom. It took us nearly an hour just to enter the park, as we were distracted by a few characters at the entrance that we needed autographs and pictures from. After purchasing the sunblock we needed because ours mistakenly got left at the hotel, we were lathered up and ready. The first major attraction here was the Tree of Life, which contained carvings of animals into the trunk of the tree. It was amazing!

We headed off to DinoLand - which seemed like a theme park in itself. The kids could spend all day here! Dominic, Rudy and I rode the Dinosaur ride, then met the rest of the family for more fun. Bianca, Dominic and Donovan rode TriceraTop Spin and played in The Boneyard. They got Pluto's autograph before we headed out for more adventure.

Next we visited Asia, where Dominic, Donovan, Bianca, Rudy and I rode the Kali River Rapids. Yeehaw! Rudy got the most wet of our group. Time flies when you're having fun, and it was approaching dusk as we walked through the Jungle Trek and the animals knew it was the end of the day. There was no way we could cover the entire park in one day, so we immediately decided this was one park we'd have to come back to on another day. We definitely wanted to go on a safari in Africa!

Bianca and Dominic with Brer Bear at the Main Entrance.

Some carvings in the Tree of Life.

Slightly wet!

Our crew: Devin (under cover), Rudy, Bianca with Donovan, Dominic,
Grandma Carmen and me (you can always spot a tourist!)
Not pictured are Papa and Grandma Gertie (taking the picture!)

Next up.... Grandma Carmen's birthday at Hollywood Studios, a Fantasmic Show and an unexpected detour in our schedule!