Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Disney Vacation Part 4: Wednesday Evening, Thursday and Friday

Wednesday Evening:
So after not getting a really good start at the Magic Kingdom we wanted to go back after naps and see if we could do better.  Thankfully, it was pretty smooth sailing.

That evening since there was going to be the fireworks over the castle, things started clearing out around 7pm.  So we were able to do a lot of stuff during this time.  The kids rode the carousel.  Or really we all did.  Apparently, the older you get the less those things are fun.  I was very dizzy. So, since I wasn't dizzy enough we went to the Mad Tea Party Tea Cups.  If your kids are little, don't show them how to turn the tea cup.  Talk about wanting to throw up.  Anyway, after that my stomach was in awesome shape (not) so we decided to go eat supper and use one of our quick meals.  We went to Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe'.  It was pretty good and you get a lot for your money (if you aren't on the dining plan.. have I not talked enough about that yet?). We then rode  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We all rode that, even Nathan.  He was scared the whole time and Jon Kent wasn't thrilled with it either.  But it was a simple enough "roller coaster".  There weren't any drops to it, just a lot of dips and jerks.  It was pretty rough and I had to really hold on to Nathan. Some of the other things we did were Buzz Light Year Space Ranger (very good, but not as good as the one at Hollywood Studios), Monsters Inc., Laugh Floor (this was really funny and we all had a good time.  Plus, it gave us a break and a chance to sit indoors.), Stitches' Great Escape (Jon Kent LOVED this one because he thought he was "leveling up" throughout the "ride".  But it scared Zoey and Nathan senseless.  It was loud, dark, the seats literally hold you down.  And it's scary to not know what is happening right in front of you.  I don't recommend this ride.  I personally hope to never have to sit through it again.) and lastly we ended the night watching the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (it was really good.  And so neat to see the castle lit up and all the fireworks.).

*My Tip: Bring your own glow sticks.  You can buy a wide variety at a Dollar Tree.  And it was save you a lot of money.  It was crazy what they were asking for at the parks.  Also, bring your own snack.  We brought our own and saved all our snack credits for drinks or fruit cups.  If you aren't on the dining plan, bring your own snack is the way to go.  Otherwise it would cost you about $15 for two drinks and fruit cup.  Insane.

 We spent all day Thursday at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.  We went thinking we would be there 4 or 5 hours but ended up staying from opening until closing.  We just had that much fun.  The favorite of the day would have to be swimming with the sharks.  That was right up Kent's alley and Zoey loved it as well.  Jon Kent got to the water and then said, "He got to thinking about it and thought he didn't really want to do it."  I did it once with Zoey and it really was a good time.  The water was very cold (like 68 degrees or less).  So that immediately took my breath away but it was very cool swimming with all the fish.  The kids rode all the rides that they could.  There was a few they couldn't because they weren't tall enough, but otherwise they really were brave at trying new things.  It was a really fun day!

Thursday Evening
We went back to Epcot but it was mainly because we put Nathan in "taller shoes" so he could ride some of the rides that he was just a hair too short to ride on when he had on his sandals.  So he got to ride the Test Track and Soarin'.  He was not at all thrilled with the Test Track ride as you will be able to see in the picture. He did however LOVE the Soarin' ride.  He wanted to ride it over and over again.  I wouldn't mind riding it again myself.. I can still smell the orange trees and the beach.

We hit up The Magic Kingdom just one more time to ride a few rides that we weren't able to get to.  The main ride being Splash Mountain. Zoey and Kent were the only ones to ride this one.  The boys didn't want to ride.  They aren't my adventurous ones, that is for sure.We also did the Haunted Mansion.  The kids at first were scared, but once they saw that it was more funny than scary they like it. After that we started looking around for the princesses and found Snow White tucked away in her garden.  Zoey was thrilled.  Then we asked around and found out that all the princesses were at the Town Square Theater.  Zoey was so excited to meet all the princesses.  Even Nathan was a prince charming to a few.  Jon Kent.. eh, girls are gross to him. We were able to get a picture with all the princesses.. and bonus, it was inside.  Whew!  We then walked around, had some funnel cakes and on the way out caught the parade.  It was sad to see the week end.  But we packed a lot of memories into that one week and I really look forward to going back to Disney one day when all the kids are a bit older.  We did have one last thing to do before our day was through and our vacation was over and that was to eat at Boma Flavors of Africa.  I wasn't looking forward to it because I am not one to like different cultures' foods.  But it was really good and if we ever go back to Disney it will be a place that we return to.  It really was that yummy!

And with that our time was at Disney was over.  It was a great week and I imagine it will be something we do again and again and will even look forward to doing with our grandchildren.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Disney Vacation Part 3: Monday evening, Tuesday and Wednesday morning

Monday Evening
After naps and some snacks we headed back out and to Epcot.  I was told that Epcot was one of those quick places that you wouldn't need a lot of time at.  For our family that wasn't quite true.  We did a lot there and at night it seemed the crowds weren't as big.  We went to eat at the Coral Reef.  It's a nice sit down restaurant that has a wall to wall aquarium.  It was nice to eat and watch the fish go by.  Our waiter could have been a lot friendlier though.  He seemed like he didn't really want to be there and was very slow.  The food was good though.  After dinner we went to a character spot and met the whole Mickey gang.  We had to stand in line, but it wasn't too long.  We got to get photos with all the characters and since we had our photo pass we got some really great family shots.  Some of the rides we rode were "Soarin' (although the first time we went Nate didn't get to ride because we had on his sandals and they didn't make him tall enough), Test Track (Zoey rode this 3 times, Jon Kent rode it 2 times and Nathan even rode it once). We also hit up some Disney stores while there.  Although they had the same things at every park.  Since it was late we didn't get to do a whole lot on our first trip to Epcot, but we did catch the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  That was very cool, but VERY loud.  The kids enjoyed it though.

Tuesday morning we had reservations for breakfast at the Hollywood and Vine in Disney's Hollywood Studios..  It's a little character breakfast with the likes of Oso, Handy Manny and the Little Einsteins.  It's called "Play and Dine at Hollywood and Vine". If you are on the dining plan (which again, I do recommend) it costs one table top meal.  Which isn't bad when you see all you get (all you can eat).  The food was really good, the characters were great (it takes about an hour for them all to come to your table) and the service was decent.  Our waiter was nice, but when we didn't leave the "recommended 18% gratuity" he left a "reminder note" in our check that at least 18% is recommended.  Yes.. so like $25 for an hour of work and all he did was bring us our drinks.. riiight.  Not happening.)  Other than that it was really fun.  The kids are encourage to get up and sing and dance.  It was a really nice time.  And if you get there before the park opens you get the opportunity to take some nice family shots without people walking into your picture.

After breakfast we went to find some things to do.  There wasn't a lot that we had on our list for Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Although there is tons to do.  But we were all still pretty tired from our previous day.  So we did what we knew everyone would enjoyed.  We found a great spot where you can take your picture with Woody and Buzz from Toy Story.  We did have to wait in a long line, but it was worth it and along the way there are scenes set up that you can take your own pictures.  Plus, if you get a fastpass for the Toy Story Mania ride (which we did) we waited for the photo op and then when we got through we just headed across the street and past the long lines to the ride.  And I would like to go on record as saying that was one of the best rides.  The kids loved going through it and actually being able to play.  We all tried to have the highest score.  I will refrain from telling y'all who did win.. might hurt some feelings. ;)  But that ride is highly recommended.  While we were there Zoey got her face painted like a princess kitty.  You can do that just about at any of the parks, so it's not just limited to Hollywood Studios.  Zoey loved it and it was worth it to see her happy.  We also hit up the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" playground area.  The kids enjoyed that and it was something different to do.  After that break we decided to get out of the heat for a bit and went in to see "Disney Junior- Live on Stage".  If you have a child who loves to watch Disney they will love this show.  It is geared more toward the preschool age, but even Jon Kent and Zoey enjoyed watching the show.  And again, it was inside so it was cool which was awesome.  The Florida heat ain't no joke!  After the show we went to eat at a quick service place.  I believe it was called ABC Commissary.  It had a good range of fast food type stuff, but was really good.  After eating we headed home.  Like I said there was a lot more we could have done but we were all so tired a nap was in order!  It made for a better rest of the day!

Tuesday evening we went to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue.  It was very entertaining.  It's an option on the dining plan and cost 2 table top meals.  But that does include your food, entertainment and tip.  It was about 2 hours long.  They serve you good southern type food and you get to watch a western comedy type show.  The kids loved and laughed a lot.  I would highly recommend it. When we got back to the hotel we let the kids swim in the pool for a bit.  And at the hotel we stayed at they played a movie every night.  That night they were playing Toy Story.  They kids enjoyed that and used up what energy they had left before bed.


Finally, what we all had been waiting for.. The Magic Kingdom.  Today was the day we were going to conquer the home of Cinderella and all her princess friends.  But first, it was breakfast with Chef Mickey. The food was good, the service was good and the kids loved seeing all the characters dressed up in their chef hats and aprons.  It was a really good time.  After our bellies were full we got on the monorail and headed for the Magic Kingdom.  All things were going good, until Nathan had a major meltdown that last over an hour.  It was not pretty and I have NEVER seen him act like that before.  I think he was just tired and the sun was getting to him.  So Kent took Jon Kent and Zoey on to ride Aladdin's Carpets while I got Nathan calmed down.  They rode those and I snuggled with Nate and got us both water and cooled down.  After they other 3 got back we went for a ride on the Jungle Cruise. It was a nice boat ride and a chance to cool off. We then took a ride through "it's a small world". If that ride was about as half as long it would have been fine.  But it was just too long and the kids were ready to get out about half way through.  I could have seriously taken a nap.  Next up was, Peter's Pan Flight. The kids enjoyed it and we got through it very quickly.  Also, before we left for lunch and naps, we went to see Mickey's PhilharMagic. It was a cute show that has some surprises along the way (like squirts of water in your face, a gusy of wind, etc.).  It was really fun and the kids loved it. We took the boat back to parking and headed in for lunch and naps.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Disney Vacation Part 2: Sunday and Monday

Our home away from home
We got to our resort (All Star Music Resort) around 1:30pm or so.  Our room was ready and since I already "checked in online" we got our welcome folder and were on our way to our room to unpack!
The name of our section of the hotel

My tip: Do the online check-in.  It is very quick and easy and really does save time.  Also, if you can, get there before the actual "check-in" time.  Especially during the "low season" they usually have your room ready.  Kent went by the lobby to return a luggage cart and he said the line was out the door.  When we arrived an hour or so earlier we only had to wait a minute or two. Also, we packed a lot of our own groceries for our trip.  We got a Dining Plan (which I highly recommend) but it didn't cover all 3 meals for all the days we were there (although there is a Dinging Plan that will).  So we brought our own snacks and breakfast foods, stuff for lunch, drinks, etc.  If you buy these things there it will cost you twice as much.

Our first day at Disney we used to check out Downtown Disney.  We didn't want to use up one of our 5 day tickets on just half a day so we took transportation to Downtown Disney. (Sidenote: Disney has bus transportation to all it's parks, resorts, Downtown Disney and various other places that are on Disney property. However, if you don't like waiting.. take your own car.) While at Downtown Disney we visited the Lego Store and the World of Disney store.  We also ate a Earl of Sandwich (it was good, but I probably wouldn't go back).  Zoey also got a hair wrap while we were there.  Apparently a "must" for her whenever we go on vacation as this is probably her 4th time doing it. :)  We then headed back to our room for some much needed rest.
Taken at a Christmas Shop in Downtown Disney

My tip: If you aren't in a rush, take the bus.  If you aren't one for waiting take your car (if you have one).  We did the bus thing for a few days but later found it to be a waste of time.  When your kids are tired and cranky.. standing in line is the last thing you want to do.  Plus, we had to wait over 30 minutes at the Magic Kingdom for a ride and that was while other resorts got two or three buses to them while we were still waiting for our one bus.  Also, do not go to Downtown Disney on a Friday night.  I will probably repeat this..

Our first day in the parks!  Since Animal Kingdom had early magic hours (hours when the park is open early or late for resort guests only) we decided to go there.  We were told to go straight to the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride.  It takes you on an expedition of sorts through African savannas.  You see all sorts of animals all along the way.  And they are pretty close.  We had giraffes running right along with us. Next up, was Expedition Everest.  It's a roller coaster that only Kent and Zoey conquered.  It was Zoey's first time ever on a roller coaster.  She got off not too happy.  Kent said it even caught him off guard.  Nathan was too short to ride and Jon Kent was too.. cautious to ride.  So while Zoey and Kent went I pulled out the disposable cameras and let Nate and Jon Kent take pictures.  I can't wait to have them developed.  There is no telling what pictures will come from them. Once Kent got his stomach back we headed for more adventures at The Boneyard. It a playground built around dinosaur fossils.  The kids loved it and it gave Kent and I time to look over the map and rest a bit.  Next, we went to DINOSAUR.  That was a mistake.  It completely scared the kids.  I wasn't thrilled myself.  And it was LOUD.  You get in this car like thing and you are blasted into the past to hopefully bring back with you a dinosaur.  All three kids had their hands over their ears and their eyes shut most of the way.  From that point on before we got on any ride, Nate asked if there would be dinosaurs on it. So, to chill out for a bit we went to TriceraTop Spin. Thankfully this was a friendlier ride for the kids. Also, while in Animal Kingdom we went to Affection Section (petting zoo), rode the Wildlife Express Train (takes you to the area of Rafiki's Planet Watch from Africa) and saw It's Tough to be a Bug (very cool 3D show with lots of "surprises").
On the safari

Ready to see It's Tough to be a Bug!

The Tree of Life

My tip: There were a few rides and shows that we didn't get to see.  But we were all tired and ready for a nap.  I recommend nap time to those with kids.  Or really adults, too.  You don't realize how much walking you do and how tired you can get while on "vacation" at Disney.  I went in to this trip knowing we wouldn't get to everything we wanted to and told myself that it would be fine.  I wanted to make the most of this trip and wanted to get out as much as possible.  But if you have cranky kids who are over tired then that's not fun for anyone.  So sometimes you just have to let go of "the plan" and rest.  Also, get a photopass card.  You pay nothing for the card and you can hand it to dozens of Disney photogs at all the parks.  They are usually in areas that offer great backdrops for the photo.  Then you just register the card and you can buy and share any picture you want.  We have several family pictures that turned out really well. be continued

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Disney Vacation Part 1: Planning

I'm not sure how many parts this will have.  It may only have one, to which I will change the blog title and you'll never know. :)  I am mainly doing this for my own future reference and for my children's future reference when they tell me I am mean and never do anything for them... :)

I did my travel plans and booking through Small World Vacations.  They were awesome.  I worked with a lady by the name of Daisy and she was great.  Small World Vacations does not charge you a fee.  They book directly with Disney and earn commission that way.  They also look for any discounts that may come up before your final payment and will notify you of a better deal.  I would HIGHLY recommend them to anyone.

As far as the time of year we went, I think we went during a pretty good time.  The only place that was crowded was the Magic Kingdom.  And like I told Kent, the Magic Kingdom is probably always crowded or at least more crowded than the other parks at any given time of the year.  The weather was still hot but not unbearable.  It was nice to be able to take a day off from the major parks and hit up one of Disney water parks which we wouldn't have been able to do if we went later in the year.

I did a lot of research on the internet and found two sites to be the most help.  Those two sites being and  They had tons of inside info on what to do, what not do to, packing lists, discounts, etc.  I also was a daily visitor to once I set up our reservations.  They have a cute little countdown that lets you know how many days until your vacation and they will keep track of all your reservations to various shows and restaurants.  Also, Disney will send you a free planning DVD that gives you a look at all the parks.

I also asked a lot of people who had gone for their advice.  What worked for them, what didn't, what would they have done differently, etc.  I got some of my best tips from friends who had gone before.  Plus, it's easier to learn someone else lessons than having to learn the hard way on your own. :)

And lastly, if all else fails... Google.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

We went to Disney

It only took 8 months to plan, but we finally got out Disney vacation under our belts.  OK, so it wasn't like I planned the WHOLE 8 months, but a lot of time and research and planning went into it.  I would like to think we all had a great time.  It was a trip that I will always remember and I hope my kids will do the same.  I will be back soon to give a full post for it.  Until then...