Monday, January 23, 2012

2nd family vacation to Disney World

So, our 2nd trip to Disney World was not quite as magical/enjoyable/exciting with our son at age 6 as it was at age 3 ½ …The melt downs were many and pants wetting was insane! It was daily, except one day on this trip no matter how many times we took him to the bathroom! I HAVE NO IDEA what was up with that! He’s potty trained & has been for over 2 years now!

We took a 6:25 am flight out of Kansas City & arrived in Orlando with plenty of time for a day full of fun in our first park once we got checked in! We really do like getting the early start on the home end as we are all early birds in our family! Of course we hit all of the parks again on this trip & this time we got the Park Hopper pass which we did not last time. We do really like being able to go from park to park in the same day & I think we’ve decided this is something that we will not do without again. With this trip I came to the conclusion that Epcot really is not my favorite park. AT ALL…My #1 favorite park is The Magic Kingdom, #2 is Hollywood Studios and I guess Epcot would be next with Animal Kingdom at the end. Or maybe you could say those two are tied at 3rd place.

Magic Kingdom – LOVE LOVE LOVE every aspect of the Magic Kingdom! It was so neat getting to be there in September & seeing the Fall and Halloween decorations. So many cool jack o lanterns all over the park! We bought tickets for the Halloween Party and while the parade was amazing, there were still quite a few people in the park compared to what we were hearing would be there during those nights, especially as early in the Halloween season as we were. They also don't have as many candy stations set up as I thought they would from what we were hearing. It was really cool none the less!  There are so many villians out & you don't typically see them when you're at Disney World so that was neat!  We watched the parade with a cute young couple that lived in FLorida & the girl actually works there.  They were all done up in pirate costumes & one came over to shake her hand during the parade.  There was also a big Thirty One trip going on so their bags were EVERYWHERE!  Funny thing is, I was carrying one too!  Cruella Deville came over to me during the parade to ask where I'd gotten my bag b/c of the polka dots!  It took me a minute to figure out that she was talking to me!
We actually got Tanner to walk onto The Haunted Mansion this trip! He started to get a little freaked out right as we were getting on, but he wasn't as anxious & didn’t cry. He wouldn’t go on a 2nd time, but that’s OK, he went once! Tanner LOVED the Astro Orbiter!  I still am not quite the fan on that one, but sucked it up for his sake & acted like it was great! Tanner talked a big game before we got there for rides that he was going on. Once there, it was a different story, but in the end - he did ride Splash Mountain & Big Thunder Mountain as well. He didn't want to go on Splash Mountain again (me either) but he LOVED Big Thunder Mountain!  He made me wrap my arm around him, almost to where I thought I was choking him when we were on it. We rode it over and over and over again…To the point of Chad saying “NO – we’re not going on that one more time…” He’d had it with Big Thunder Railroad! He was afraid of Snow White & seriously – I wondered if we were even going to get him on it or not! He loved the Peter Pan ride! I even went on Space Mountain this trip – not a fan…they’ve changed it & it seemed very jerky to me. I was pretty scared, but decided to do it. I could do it again, but I don’t think I’d want to for the reason of the jerkiness. Also – you are 1 person to a seat. You don’t sit in the same car with each other as you used too. Loved the Buzz Lightyear ride & Tanner LOVED the Stitch ride! He wanted to do it multiple times! We only went twice though! Stitch was his favorite character of the trip & he choose a stuffed Stitch while down in the parks. He LOVED and I mean didn’t’ want to leave Tom Sawyers island! It was fun to see him having so much fun & running all over the island. We’d heard about the paint brushes so we were all on a mission trying to find them! A couple on their honeymoon were the ones to find it. Tanner was really impressed when we were on the boat on the way back checking out the paintbrush that she'd found.


I had Chad going that I'd signed him up for the pirate make over with Tanner.  We'd see this sign in the bus & I'd get going on it.  I think I really may have had him worried for a short bit there!  I KNEW he would not be doing that though so I really didn't even try!  It sure was fun though trying to get him going & Tanner LOVED this!  Especially when they got to meet Captain Jack Sparrow at the end & do the pirate march!

Epcot – We could not believe the amount of drunk adults walking around Epcot on our first day…SERIOUSLY, it was crazy! The food & wine festival wasn’t even going on yet. Again, tanner talked a big game on what he was going to ride! When we got to Test Track, he chickened out so Chad went & as we were waiting he decided he wanted to go. Well, it was too late so we waited & then went in when Chad got back. As we were in line the meltdown began, on and off, the whole way to the getting on. HE LOVED IT & wanted to go again! They pulled us around & let us walk right back on. Apparently they do this with kids that are completely freaked out & end up loving it. THANK YOU DISNEY – that was amazing! I wish they had something like this anytime when you’re in line & they see your kid crying and having a hard time like Tanner was to get you on quicker. The anticipation and the unknown about kill him! Tanner did ride Soarin’ this trip & said he liked it. Thankfully there was a family in line that we talked to most of the way & that helped keep his mind off of things. He didn’t completely freak out or have a meltdown so that was really nice! He says he liked it. We didn’t even try to ride that more than once b/c the line was so long. WORTH EVERY MINUTE OF THAT WAIT THOUGH! Tanner was a little freaked out with the dark in Spaceship Earth though. Again, we made it…He went on Mission: Space. We missed the first time & FINALLY got him to go on it before we left for the day. It was our last day in any park & the last ride of our trip! We got him to do it twice actually! We did green & then we wanted to do orange, but he knew orange was more than green so we had to trick him into “blue” – we were riding the “blue one”. It was funny listening to him tell people he rode blue. They would look at us & we were like “just go with it, please”. He liked it & did GREAT! He was funny & kept wanting to go back on the little boat ride in Mexico after we did that once! Once is PLENTY on that ride…you do not need to do it more than once, and we didn’t! The ride in Norway – Maelstrom…that was a bit much for Tanner & when he thought we were going over the big waterfall – he actually stood up & they had to stop the ride! They even spoke up over the speaker saying he needed to sit down. Poor guy – the fact that he honestly thought we were going over that waterfall must have been terrifying to him! Especially when you’re not even strapped into anything! We did go to Turtle Talk with Crush this time & it was pretty cute!

 These pin traders are SERIOUS... Tanner had fun choosing a pin for each new ride.  I even got myself a lanyard b/c I couldn't resist a few!  But these people have BOOKS full!
Animal Kingdom – Festival of the Lion King – SEE IT! Last trip we went to the Nemo show so this year we took in the Lion King so and it was amazing! People aren’t kidding when they tell you they are broadway quality shows! Oh wait…I’ve never seen a broadway show! LOL…But really, they are very entertaining and a must see! The Lion King show really got the audience involved & was really fun. Tanner loved It’s Tough to be a Bug! He slept through it in 2009 so this was his first experience & he enjoyed it! I’m sure glad we were getting rained on & decided to sit to see the Flights of Wonder show! Tanner really enjoyed this and it was a good show! I would go see it again b/c it was that good/interesting/entertaining! I was SHOCKED that Tanner was walking right onto Dinosaur! He just barely got scared when were in the room watching the movie getting briefed. We actually did the ride twice! I was scared when Chad & I rode this back in 2001on our honeymoon and I could not believe he was not scared! Great ride! A MUST DO!! We just told him we were going back in time to help tag & bring that cute little dinosaur back & he was ready to go! Kilimanjaro Safari – of course another must do! Fun to see so many animals out there & the “tour guides” really do a good job making it all entertaining for the kids! Once again – Tanner loved the dinosaur play area! He ran around, got wet & climbed for a short bit while we sat & took a break. He could have stayed much longer than we let him!

Hollywood Studios – I think this is one of the coolest parks! We’d been given advance warning of making sure we did a divide & conquer first thing going into the park! This was to get Tanner in for the Jedi training and to get tickets for the Toy Story Ride. We Of course being a HUGE MOVIE fan! Tanner couldn’t enough of the Star Tours ride! After the first ride – it was the big hit of the park for him! Seriously this was just like Big Thunder Railroad where Dad finally said NO MORE…The coolest thing about that ride is that there are different “shows/rides” so it’s not the same every time. The motion on this ride is amazing & I loved it too! Rockin’ Rollercoaster – STILL my favorite ride ever! We stayed for Fantasmic one night – A-MAZE-ING! Seriously – you have to see this show, so cool! It was quite a wait, and we weren’t even in the best seats, but they were good enough & we enjoyed it. We also took in the Indiana Jones stunt show this trip & that was pretty darn cool! Of course we took in the parade, always love watching that! Chad laughed at Tanner & I buying Ice cream right before we were going to watch the parade b/c it was so hot out that it melts QUICK! He’s so not like Tanner & I in that when we have a craving, we’re feeding it! We don’t care about things like that – in fact it never crossed our minds that it was going to melt & be a little (OK, a lot) messy. Sure was tasty though!

Favorite meals:
Cape May Café at The Beach Club - This was a character breakfast (Minnie Mouse, Goofy & Donald Duck) that had great food! I loved the food so much the last time we were at Disney in 2009, that I made reservations to get us in here again! Seriously – THE BEST BREAD PUDDING! They really do just have an amazing spread of food here & I would recommend!
   Bread Pudding at Cape May!
Chef Mickeys – This was another Character breakfast that I had us booked for. Couldn’t get an idea time when I was online booking before we went but we’d been told get over there when they open (7 or 7:30, can’t remember now) and see if you can walk in. It worked GREAT! We were able too no problem! They take your picture with a Mickey Statue (as a family) and then you are able to purchase that for like $40 if you want. They had two lines going through the buffet & had AMAZING food! YUMM-O! They also had a really fun dessert table! One side of the buffet was getting a lot more traffic, so be sure you watch b/c you can go through EITHER side. I went ahead & made the switch to the other line a time of two to get my food faster! They also do a big celebration song for those celebrating birthday’s & bring out cupcakes with a candle for those people. VERY FUN! Since we were celebrating our son’s birthday while we were there, which actually it was supposed to be my husband AND son’s birthday’s and I guess our travel gal missed communicating Chad’s to them. I didn’t think he’d care that much, so I didn’t mention it to the hotel when we checked in & our son got a birthday button. In retrospect – I SHOULD HAVE!

Yak & Yeti – From the minute we walked in – this was a great meal! It smelled great, we were seated upstairs so we could see out the window to watch the parade (didn’t even know that was going to be going on) and we LOVED our waiter! His name was Stacy & he reminded me of Eric Stonestreet’s character Cam on Modern Family. He was so funny & very attentive to us! And great with our son in joking around with him & getting him to eat a couple more bites of his dinner to get dessert! Chad & I both got the same thing – Shaoxing Steak & Shrimp - Skirt steak, tempura-battered shrimp, jasmine rice, stir-fried veggies, and chili plum dipping sauce. It was fantastic! We had Fried Wontons & Mango pie and both were GREAT!! Oh and they had the best Mango iced tea!

The other meals that we had, but not our favorites:
La Hacienda De San Angel (Mexico in Epcot) I liked the dinner better than my husband. We ordered the La Hacienda – a mix of grilled top sirloin, chicken, chorizo (I think was the corn) and vegetables. The corn that came with the meal was GREAT! Do not bother with the Crema de Chocolate “Abuelita”, it was just strange. But the other one we got, Empanada de Manzana (pastry with ice cream) was really good! Oh & I had a great margarita!

Les Chefs de France (France in Epcot) Though I LOVED the French Onion the rest was not that impressive. OK wait – our sons chicken was really good, but he didn’t like it. Now mind you – he is a VERY picky eater! My husband ordered the Plat de Cote de Boueuf au Cabarenet avec pates (beef short ribs Beef short ribs braised in Cabernet with pasta, pearl onions and mushrooms) & said it was very bland. I had the Filet de boeuf grille, sauce au poivre vert Gratin Dauphinois et haricots verts (Grilled tenderloin of beef with green peppercorn sauce original potato gratin of Savoy and green beans) and did not care for mine. My husband liked mine better than his and so he ate most, if not all, of mine. We had great service and the atmosphere was very nice! The best part of this meal & one of the reasons I booked here – Remy (from Ratatoullie) comes to your table! That was very fun! For dessert we had the: Croustillant feuillantine, douceur au chocolat, glace noix de coco, tartare de banane - Crispy cake with chocolate milk mousse, coconut ice cream and bananas marinated in rum and lemon juice and the Profiteroles au chocolat - Puff choux with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. The chocolate mousse cake was not soething we really cared for, but we sure enjoyed the cream puff! The chocolate sauce was REALLY good! Oh and we enjoyed our sons strawberry sorbet!

Cinderella’s Castle – now, let me start with the reason I booked this…my son had said “when we eat at the castle the next time we go back…” so I felt like I HAD to get this meal! I tried and tried and tried, if you’ve ever tried to get this – you know how hard it is to get this venue! And then to top it off – once we GOT THERE – he was so shy and didn’t want to sit by Cinderella, he was embarrassed & you’d never have known that he’d asked to go there. I was so disappointed b/c you really have no idea how excited I was that I’d gotten this! I mean I had it at one point & LOST it and was crushed! Ended up getting it and was on CLOUD NINE…So, we get through the picture with Cinderella & then we’re waiting for our names to be called. They take you up this wonderful staircase that winds around up to the top. We were lucky enough to sit at a table right by the window so we could look out onto Fantasyland and that was pretty cool! Belle, Snow White, Aerial and Sleeping Beauty all come by your table too. My husband and I both had the MAJOR DOMOS SHORT RIB (Slow-cooked in a Pinot Noir Demi-glace on Potato and Parsnip Purée with Carrots). It was OK, and for the price we paid – as unexcited as our 6 year old was I’m STILL debating whether it was worth it or not. I don’t know…it was pretty cool though! Once again, as we have with every meal – we get two different desserts so we can try both! We ordered the VALRHONA CHOCOLATE MOUSSE (A light Chocolate Mousse presented with Berries and Raspberry Sauce) and the ALMOND CHEESECAKE with Lingonberry Jam. They were both OK. They do a little “ceremony” where they knight the boys with their swords & the girls are made into princess’s I think it was with their little wands and that was fun seeing our son closing his eyes & repeating what they are telling them to say & making a wish. It was pretty fun & something I’m sure he’ll remember for the rest of his life!

Hotel –
We stayed at The Wilderness this trip, but for the extra cost, my husband & I decided we’d go back to Port Orleans! Sure, the lobby was really cool, but the room seemed much smaller. Our son did enjoy the balcony, but again I think we would rather than a little bigger room & for about $100 less per night – we said we’d rather stay at French Quarter again. Also, the food court was tiny at The Wilderness! The pool bar had no real set hours, but rather closed whenever. We never got to take advantage of that since they were always closed in the evenings. We went down to the “beach” to watch a movie one night & there were little things biting our feet (sand fleas my husband thought) that were making me itch so bad that I couldn’t stand it. I felt TERRIBLE making our 6 year old leave b/c he was so excited about the beach & to watch a movie.

Watching firework

s  Candy's OK anytime when you're on vacation!

Tanner prvoves to be just like his Mama in that he's always making friends!

Downtown Disney - we made it down there this trip & had a pretty good time just walking around & checking everything out!  Tanner LOVED the Lego store!

My biggest pieces of advice:

DO THE MEAL PLAN! We ate many meals that we never would have eaten had it not been for the meal plan. It is so worth it and I will never go again without doing the meal plan!

MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS for meals made in advance. I know some people don’t believe you on this, but seriously – you can get there and are told you’re either not getting in or you won’t be eating until like 10. With kids, you can’t do that.

Call Maralee Striker with Magic Mouse Travel to book your trip – no matter where you are! Seriously, she’s amazing! Tons of free tips & tricks, great recommendations – you name it. She’s awesome!

LET THEM TAKE YOUR BAGS! At the airport you have the option (pre travel arrangements will have been made prior to your day of travel) to have your bags taken care of getting to your hotel. DO THIS! We didn’t & I can tell you that Orlando airport is huge & trying to get down there to the Disney area for your bus – it was a pain trying to get our own bags. We met a family in line who said they do the bags that other way every time (they once learned the hard way too I think they said) and they said it’s so worth it.

Don’t expect any trip to be like one before! I’m learning that in many things in life with a child! The first time is always the coolest & there is only ONE FIRST time! ENJOY IT & hold it close to your heart!

It was because of my Grandpa Taylor that we took this family vacation.  I said from the beginning that I was going to buy a balloon & set it off to Grandpa in heaven.  And I did!

Our last night in Disney...

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