Sunday, April 6, 2008

Goodbye Disney!!

Sunday Morning had come very quick and our Nine days in Florida was coming to an end. All seemed to sleep a bit late this morning and the breakfast pick nick was in Cort and Mandy’s room. After all the bags were packed, we headed to Wal-Mart to get all the trips digital pictures put onto CD. For the most part the “waiting time” was not bad for the trip, this turned out to be our “Wait”, as it took well over an hour to get them done. We all went in on a Disney picture frame and group photo to send back to Grams and Pa, and learned in the process that Wal-Mart was the place to buy your Disney souvenirs (stuffed animals for $5-$10 instead of $15-$30), but what would be the fun in that, right! Our last lunch in Orlando was a Taco Bell. The kids reminisced over all they had done the last week, and the adults while very tired, could not believe it was over. We sat a bit too long and had to rush back to the Hotel to drop Cort and his family of as they were using Disney Transportation to the airport. After Many Spin around hugs and lots of goodbyes we boarded the car and headed for home. It was raining good again and was going too for most of the next week, so our timing was perfect! We waived to Austin and Livy and Cort and Mandy, and then the thought came to me- did we have enough Cherry Goofy Balls for the trip home? The answer was no, so I ran one last time into the Hotel Gift Shop to get two bags of Goofy Balls and a bag of sour Mickey Heads spending the last of the cash in my pocket. This trip was so much fun! We had such a great time with Cort and Mandy and their family. On a trip like this so many wonderful memories are made and many unique learning experiences the kids could never have otherwise. What a Magical time we all had!

Friday, April 4, 2008

More Seaworld and Downtown Disney!!

The second day at Sea world we enjoyed much more than the first. We left the first day with a bit of disappointment, but Sea world delivered the second time and we really enjoyed it in the end (It is not fair tocompare any other park to Disney, as Disney is truly the best of the best!) One of the first stops was at the Dolphin Encounter, The dolphins where very fun to watch to say the least! It seemed to be mating day in the underwater viewing tank. Brenner- Daddy, what is that hanging on the bottom of those dolphins? Daddy- I think these dolphins have extra fins!?! Brenner- it looks like a piece of pooh! Needless to say all the dolphins that day "got some", the adults were mesmerized, and horrified. Next it was off to the "Search for Atlantis" and the "Kraken", the two big rides in the park. Mia had been practicing her Kraken handclap for over a month! The Search for Atlantis was fun and similar to Splash Mountain. Next the Kraken, and Brenner was ready- until he did not "measure up" and was turned away. Never have you seen such a sad boy, he was very disappointed- but the Adults had fun riding it! It was a great coaster! Brenner resumed looking for lizards and was happy again. The Sea Lion and Otter show was fun, as was the Shark tank and walk through shark tube. After a unique Cirque du Soleli style show and a walk through the Budweiser Clydesdale Stable (amazing horses), we rode some fun rides in the Kid Area. Although Cayden was very brave and rode some rides beyond his age, one of his favorite rides was the Baby Shamu Roller coaster with Mommy in this area. As it rained quite hard in the afternoon and did not look like it would be letting up anytime soon, we decided not to stay for the evening show. We waited out several smaller storms but as we walked towards the front of the park, a really big one hit. We all took shelter in a covered Smoking Area. The rain came down in buckets, and the lightning and thunder, one in particular, was very close and loud! As it let up, everyone seemed to be going home for the day and just before the front gate we had to wade through about 6 inches of standing water to get out of the park, everyone's shoes were wet, much to Brenner's delight! We ate that night at the Olive Garden and had a great last dinner together. After dinner we had a shopping stop at Down Town Disney. Brenner and Cayden spent their last bit of vacation money on... what elt's, "LEGOS". I am sure those will give them fond memories of their trip to Disney World! Mommy and Daddy found a neat Christmas Ornament for the family collection and little "I Shop" Mia got a fun Disney Memories Book to help her remember some of the things she had seen. This was a great ending to a really fun and Magical Family Vacation that built many fun memories for everyone on the trip! It was Awesome!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sea World

It was Friday and we had been going at a good pace for a week, needless to say, feet were tired, faces a bit sun burnt, body's a bit restless, energy a bit spent, and patience hard to find at times. This day turned out to be a comedy of errors! We had a slow start, all needed a little extra sleep. After one very expensive McDonald's breakfast (no dollar menu in Orlando) delivered to the room by Gent, we were off to Sea World. Once in Sea World, extra energy was still hard to find and everyone was a bit irritable, it was a hot day, and lines seemed to be very long. The Adults commented that we were not in Disney anymore. We did some stingray petting and bought refillable(?) drink mugs to help with the heat. We caught two shows this day, the first was a whale and dolphin show that was nice and then the Big Spectacular Shamu Show called "Believe". We all left as partial believers, as it was not that great. The Killer Whales were neat but the show was lacking. The best part was watching Cort get into the Shamu Hand Cheer, it was silly!!! =) We left the park early this day to get a good start on Saturday. We stopped by Bennigan's for dinner on the way back to the hotel as we were all very hungry. Pulling into the Parking lot the Armada began to smell like burnt rubber and as I got out to inspect the car, noticed smoke coming from the hood. We went in and sat down, but I was no longer hungry. All I could think about was being eight hours from home on a Friday night with a broken down car. I thought it might be a belt to the air-conditioning, and halfway through the meal I decided to drive it around the parking lot to see how serious the problem may be. Much to my relief, the smell and smoke were gone and never returned! Some prayers are answered very quick! The meal from then on was great and the kids all had balloon animals made by a storytelling Florida local (Know the number one choking hazard for kids? Balloons, would your kids like one?). Austin got a bear, Livy a pink kitty, Brenner a Florida gator, Cayden a motorcycle and Mia a butterfly that turned back into a caterpillar before the end of the night. Back at the room the Mommies and little ones headed for bed, and the Daddy's and the boys headed for the Pool for a night time swim. The kids truly loved the pool!

Disney Studios

Thursday in Disney Studios- This day we got up early to get ready for Disney Studios and also to change hotels. As the dinning plan was part of the hotel reservation, we did not want it for the days we were going to be at sea world, so we moved from Pop Century to Disney's All Star Movie Resort. It was fun to have a new and different room, although the beds did not get any softer or bigger, they were not very comfortable throughout the trip, but other than that, Disney Hotels are great! They where great with keeping track of our bags, the grounds were immaculate and fun, and the kids loved the nice pool areas. We said good bye to the Bowling Pins, Big Play dough Cans and "BIG" Wheels of Pop, and Hello to Herby the Love Bug, Sorcerer Mickey and Giant Movie Click Boards. Disney Studios was a fun surprise, of all the parks, this one was the least anticipated but turned out to be really fun! Once again the kids found a playground but this time it was "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" themed and very fun. It was as if they were as small as bugs playing in giant blades of grass, with slides and hiding areas and a giant Spider Web in one corner, a giant garden hose squirted water and Brenner once again got very wet! That boy and water are magnets, much to Daddy's frustration at times (His shoes seemed to be wet most of the trip). We had Wraps and Hot dogs for lunch at the Back Lot Catering Co. and headed for the "Stunt Spectacular", a fast pace fire and action filled stunt show that all enjoyed. The look on the boy's faces said it all, they loved it! Mia's turn was next with "The Beauty and the Beast Musical", She was dancing and singing in Mommy's lap, while Brenner looked at the floor and plugged his ears because he thought it was a Girl Thing, he lost out because it was very neat. Before the day was done we had been on the movie sets of Indiana Jones, The Little Mermaid, Star Wars, and the adults went on the Tower of Terror, Brenner decided to sit this one out- Chicken, Bock, Bock, Bock!!! To use up our daily "snack" we got two huge pretzels and two frozen lemonades. Fantasmic was the nighttime entertainment and it was truly "Fantasmic"!!! It was raining again by that time and we all had rain ponchos on in attempts to stay dry, but the rain could not put a damper on the show. The boys liked when the Giant Dragon shot fire from his mouth into the lake and the lake erupted in a gulf of flames, the Girls loved the floating Princess Boats and everyone liked it when Sorcerer Mickey and his dream prevailed in the end. Really a great show! We ran after the show to go get dinner at Down Town Disney and ended up making a show of our own. After sitting down at a very fancy floating seafood restaurant and Cort and I all ready to order up a $45 plate of King Crab, Mandy found out it was not on the meal plan (an embarrassing oops on Gent's part!). We all got up and headed for the door and that was the end of the show! We ended up across the bay at Captain Jacks Seafood, and yes they took the last night of our meal plan, whew! After a ferry ride back to the car, the Mommy's and Kido's left with grand intentions of coming back to Down Town Disney for more much needed shopping, after all- we did pass a Giant Disney Store, a Lego Store and a Disney Christmas Shop. On the way to the room the kids all loved to push the buttons to the elevator, and each had to have their equal turn. "whose turn is it this time?" Oh, oh, it's mine they would all say! Maybe we should have stayed home and just found a random elevator somewhere and pushed the buttons for a week, we could have saved some money! =Þ The boy's also loved to try and race the adults to the room by taking the stairs as the adults took the elevator, trust the kids to find the "Free fun" in Orlando!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sweet Little Mia!!

Through all of the going and going, everyday Mia would take a one to two hour nap in her stroller, something she normally would never do. We did a lot in the eight days we were there and all the kids were so good.

Animal Kingdom

Wednesday in Animal Kingdom- We drove to Animal Kingdom and arrived in good time. Just inside the front gates before you get to the Tree of Life, You find yourself in a rainforest with lush green everywhere and all kinds of orchids growing up the sides of the walls, every inch of this park was truly beautiful. We headed first thing to get fast passes for "Dinosaur" and had high expectations as it was modeled after the Indiana Jones ride in Disney Land that we loved, the line was only 15 min long so we just hoped on. Needless to say, we where disappointed, and found out why everyone was in line for Mt. Everest. Nikki took Mia to get in line for the Lion king Show and we met up with time to catch the Pocahontas Show before it started. Both shows where great! Pocahontas was fun with wild forest animals criss-crossing the stage, and the Lion king had lots of energy with Large floats and “cirque du solei” style acrobats and costumes, the kids were dancing in their seats to the "in the Jungle" song. Just outside the theater, we caught up with Donald Duck and Kenai from Brother Bear and got signatures and photos, Mia started to warm up to them by this time and had a high five and a kiss for Donald. After a fun lunch at Pizzafari it was off to Mount Everest and the "Yeti", would the boys be brave enough? As you can see by the picture, Brenner loved it and Cayden was holding on for dear life! In the end they seemed to like it and Cayden got a hoodie that said I conquered Everest, but when asked if they wanted to ride again the answer was "No" from both boys, so Cort and I rode again by ourselves. There were little lizards all over everywhere and Brenner was determined to catch one, but the only successful catch was with thecamera, quicker next time Brenner! After sitting in on an amazing Bird Show that Pa would have loved we decided to go on Safari! The Kilamanjaro Safari was a neat ride and the kids loved seeing all the African animals and also the splash through the river, driving over the rickety bridge and chasing the elephant poachers. We saw Mickey's Jumping Jungle Parade, and boy was it hot, no shade to be found but a very fun parade. After the parade we went to seek the shelter and air-conditioning of the Tuskers Restaurant, it was a Buffet with an African flair and really quite good. The kids had fun choosing their food and the deserts where the best of the trip, the baklava was Brenner and Daddy's favorite! One of Mommy and Daddy's favorite parts of the trip was next- the Finding Nemo Musical. This show is awesome! It is a puppet show like never before seen, with great music, beautiful staging and just amazing visuals! Go with the flow! Next the kids loved Dino Land, a dinosaur themed carnival area with child size rides and games. This is where we picked up the first bag of Sour Cherry Goofy Balls that we all became addicted to the rest of the trip (we even bought a supply to take home). We rode the Kali River Rapids over and over again until Cayden finally got wet the fourth time, Brenner and Daddy got drenched the first and second time, and Mommy got off after the first ride in fear of getting soaked. This was one of Brenner and Cayden's favorite rides, it was really fun! Our last stop in Animal Kingdom was to the Tree of life and the 4-D movie "It's tough to be a bug" from the movie A Bugs Life. It was a fun bug's in your face, under your seat, crawling on the walls and out of the ceiling sort of fun. On our way out of the park we still had "Snacks" to use up, so we stopped and had Mickey Popcorn and Drinks before leaving the park. This was one of Daddy's favorite days of the vacation. Disney's Animal Kingdom is truly a wild and fun place to spend a day!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More Epcot!!

Tuesday back at Epcot- Most of this day was planned to be spent in the "World Showcase". It is a large lake with countries from around the world all represented by architecture, displays, restaurants and shops in the style of eachcountry. In keeping with the educational theme of Epcot, It is really fun to be able to experience the world's cultures in a day, and it was so big that we did not get to see it all. We had an early dinner reservation at the Japanese Steak House and rode the ferry across the lake to the Japanese Pavilion. The kids were entertained the whole time and the Japanese People are all about special service. The kids loved the warm hand towels at the beginning, the "Kid Friendly Chopsticks" that brought back memories for Cort and I, and the surprise Japanese Toy at the end of the meal. Cayden ordered a meal that came in a monorail train car, and Brenner had his noodles and chicken cooked in front of him with the rest of us. They loved the Smoking Onion Volcano and the rest of the show the Chef put on, he was really great, and funny too, with his Don't Smoke and Sesame Street jokes. After dinner we looked through the shops in Japan and got some rice candy for the kids. The Kids all enjoyed Mickey Mouse suckers as we walked around the "World". In Germany we got a Pickle Ornament for a newfamily tradition, and Mia did her impersonation of a Nutcracker. Germany also had a neat LGB Train and little town display that the kids really loved, and tried to drop coins in the coal cars as they passed through tunnels under the sidewalk. As we passed The United States there was a colonial style band playing that made it fun. It started to rain for the first time of the vacation as we were in Norway so we decided to wait in line for the Viking Boat Ride as it was indoors, and everyone agreed that this was the least enjoyable ride of the trip, very quick and not much to see! China was beautiful with a display of some very old Bonsai Trees by the lake that were fun to see, one was over 75 years old! As it was getting late in the day, Nikki and Mandy took Cayden and Austin to the Imagination gift shop to get a Figment the Dragon stuffed animal that they had both dreamt about from our Sunday visit to Epcot. Cort and I with Mia, Brenner and Livy sat on a bench and had frozen margaritas and waited for the return of the Shoppers outside of Mexico. Everyone loved the Mexico pavilion the best, the boat ride was very kid oriented (like Small World but with Donald Duck) and the atmosphere was fun. We all put on silly hats for a family picture and the kids loved the Glass Making demonstration, especially Cayden as a glass penguin was being made. The last ride that we had not seen in the front of the park was "Test Track" so we decided to get in line as the fireworks were going to start as we had already seen them on Sunday night. It was a great ride that everyone enjoyed, and again Cayden and Brenner rode it twice. Both Brenner and Cayden found a lot of courage this trip, we knew Brenner was ready to ride most of the rides but Little Cay Cay surprised us all with his bravery, although sometimes fleeting once he was on the way up heading for the drop, but overall- very brave. Mount Everest and the Kraken were still to come- would they be brave enough? That night because of the early lunch/late dinner, we stopped by the Hotel Cafe to get a bite to eat before the nightly pirate battle that would ensue in the room before bed. Who knew going around the world in a day could be so much fun!

Tea cups and Princess time

The only Princess Mia got to meet was Snow white and of course Minnie Mouse. As you can see the boys are just thrilled to meet her.