USE THE CROSSWALKS!!!!! They are there for a reason people. Seriously, why would anyone be stupid enough to cross a 7 lane road not in a crosswalk? I can not tell you how many idiots I see crossing a major 7 lane road near my house that just cross where ever they feel like it. Today took the cake though, some girl decided to cross (mind you she was in between 2 crosswalks that should could have walked to in less than about 2 minutes) the road and just stop in the middle of the lane I was driving in. I had to come to almost a complete stop.
I often see people standing in the center turn lane just waiting, or at night when people wearing dark clothing cross or stand in the center lane, do they not realize people can't see them! It's not like there aren't plenty of crosswalks, there is one at least every half mile, often more frequent than that. Or what about the people who cross like 10 feet from the crosswalk, seriously you had to cut through traffic and risk your life to save yourself from walking 10 feet! It's just unbelievable!
Friday, August 21st Day two at the Magic Kingdom. Today we had a character breakfast in the park before park opening. Our reservation was for 8:10am at The Crystal Palace. We arrived at the gate around 7:45 or so and waited to be allowed in. We took a few castle pictures (and got some on the photo pass too, so we will have those at a later date). We were bummed to see a huge crane by the castle that wasn't there on Wednesday so we wished we had taken pictures then, but oh well, what can you do.
At breakfast we were joined by Winnie-the-Pooh and friends. We ate as quickly as we could because we wanted to be out in the park when it opened at 9am. After eating and a quick stop for diaper changes and band aids for the blisters that were forming on my feet we were ready to go right at opening! The first stop on "The Plan" today was the Tomorrowland Speedway. Emily couldn't go on this ride so we got a baby swap pass and Jon took Nathan on first then I got to take Nathan on without having to wait in line (lucky kid got to go on twice in a row). Jon drove when it was his turn but I was brave and let Nathan drive. Lets just say there is a reason 2 year olds don't get drivers licenses. After two rides on the speedway we headed to Astro Orbiters. We thought it was just another "Dumbo" ride but it was much faster, not good for a girl with vertigo, even Jon had a hard time with that ride. After that we went on the Carousel of Progress (something we hadn't planned to doing but we were getting warm). After that we grabbed a snack...ice cream. Part of our dining plan was getting 2 snack a day and until that point we had not used very many of them so we had tons of snack credits to use up. Nathan dropped his ice cream within minutes of getting it so we went to get him a new one and they just gave it to us. They really understand a 2 year old at Disney! Next stop, Buzz Lightyear!
Once we were confident the evil Zurg was defieated we headed over to Toon Town. The plan was to ride Barnstormer then explore all the houses and see some characters. Barnstormer wasn't working at that time though so we visited Minnie's House, and Mickey's House. Saw some princesses (pictures of that at a later date, they were on the photo pass). Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora were all amazingly princess like and were great to our little prince and princess. Emily wasn't afraid of them at all and Nathan walked away with lots of lipstick kisses on his face. We checked out Donald's Boat and a little play area before hopping on the train to go to Frontierland. It was getting close to nap time and both kids fell asleep in the stroller. We took advantage of this and went on Big Thounder Mountain Railroad.
After Expedition Everest the day before this was actually kinda lame. Then we were getting hungry. The kids were still sleeping so we got ourselves lunch at Pecos Bill. We figured when the kids woke up we'd get them something. They did wake up while we were eating but at that point they had gotten a decent nap so we saw no need to leave the park to go back to the hotel. We headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean (Nathan was singing "yo-ho, yo-ho a pirates life for me") only to find it was temporarily shut down. But Captain Hook and Smee were right across from the ride so we waited in line to see them. By the time we saw Hook and Smee Pirates was working again, so we parked the stroller and went to get in line. I felt a rain drop so I ran back to cover the stroller so it wouldn't get too wet. Jon and I got split up and it took a few minutes to find each other but we finally did and we got in line. After Pirates it was pouring. We decided early in the trip that we don't melt so we weren't going to let any rain bother us. We left our stroller by Pirates and visited the rest of Adventureland. Only problem was because of the rain most of the rides had to close down. We went and saw the Tiki Room show and then the Swiss Family Treehouse. We also grabbed fastpasses for the Jungle Cruise since it was closed at the time.
Carpets of Aladdin finally opened (another "Dumbo" ride) and we were in the first group to ride it. Then we went on the Jubgle Cruise using our fastpasses (good thing we got them because there was a long line already and we were able to pretty much walk on).
At this point we had pretty much done everything we were hoping to do. We still wanted to get on Barnstormer and meet Mickey and Minnie. Nathan also wanted to ride the cars at the speedway again. So we went back over to that side of the park. On the way we saw the Carousel line was short so we went on the Carousel again. Today Nathan was excited to ride the horses. We went back to Toon Town and rode on Barnstormer. It's a little rollercoaster that was designed for kids. It lasts all of about 1 minute, if that. Nathan and I went on and he decided that once was enough even though he could have gone on with Jon if he wanted. The line for Mickey was still rather long, which was kinda sad for me, I really wanted to see Mickey. The speedway was still closed from the rain so we took a stroll up and down Main Street USA and ran into Chip and Dale.
I don't remember what we did after this, but we eventually went to dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern, quite posisbly mine and Jon's favorite Disney restaurant (although Whispering Canyon Cafe has given it a run for it's money). After dinner we again skipped the parade and fireworks. Instead we finally go to see Mickey and Minnie since everyone else was distracted by the shows. Those pictures on on the photopass so they will be posted later. We then headed back to the hotel. It was late, but since we opted to stay at the park instead of go back to the hotel for a mid-day break we had to pack all our stuff. We were being picked up at 6:30am to be taken to the airport.
Saturday, August 22nd Two plane rides back home, no problems. I was super tired and when we got home I went right to bed. That's about all there is to tell. I was so out of it and tired from our fun few days at Disney that I really don't remember much from the flights home, just that I really wanted to sleep but I couldn't.
Animal Kingdom day! Because it was such a short trip this time we decided the kids would probably enjoy Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom the most, so those were the 2 parks we did. We didn't plan nearly enough time for Animal Kingdom but we know we will go back soon (2012 at the latest, next summer at the earliest). Our day started with breakfast at Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club Resort. We had a 7:45am reservation but we weren't quite sure how we were going to get there that early. When I made the reservation they had suggested we walk, but it would have been a couple miles of walking on a busy street, so we decided against that. Luckily Disney Transportation has improved since we were last there and when we go to the bus stop at 7am we were quickly greeted by a bus to Hollywood Studios. We got on and there was only one other family (when the park doesn't open until 9am getting on a 7am bus could only mean one thing really...you're going to breakfast at another resort). The driver asked if we were going to Cape May and we said we were so he told us to stay on the bus and he would take us there after going to HS. We got there is plenty of time for breakfast, even has time to spare since they weren't even open when we arrived.
Cape May Cafe was our first character experience this trip. Donald, Goofy, and Minnie stopped by to greet us at the table while we ate. Emily did ok when Goofy stopped by (the first character) but after that she wouldn't let any other characters come anywhere near her (except for the princesses and Mickey Mouse...more about them tomorrow). Jon jumped in the picture with Donald because 7 years ago we didn't get to see Donald even one time, and Donald Duck is Jon's favorite Disney character, so we had to grab the opportunity while we had it.
Emily before any characters came to visit
Nathan and Goofy; despite taking some not so great pictures, Nathan did love meeting all the characters
The closest Emily let any character get to her, after that they all had to stay at a lengthy distance
The Boys with Donald
Nathan and Minnie Mouse
After Breakfast we headed over to Animal Kingdom, arrive just a few minutes before opening. We once again had "The Plan" and today's plan was a bit ambitious since we were only spending the morning at Animal Kingdom, like I said before, not enough time at all. We started by running to get our fast passes for Expedition Everest. They were also handing out Fast Passes for Kali River Rapids so I got those too. Then we went over to the other side of the park to go on the safari. While on our way we stopped at some drums and Nathan got out to play them and we took some pictures of the Tree of Life.
Animal Kingdom Sign
Nathan and Emily playing drums
Tree of Life
The safari was great, the kids loved seeing the animals. We have been to the zoo a lot this summer but seeing the animals so up close, and seeing animals we don't have here was fun. Here are just a few safari pictures.
After the Safari it was time to use our fast passes for Expedition Everest. That was an AWESOME ride! Jon rode it first then I rode it. We decided against Kali River Rapids because we didn't want to risk getting soaked. Then we headed to Dino Land to ride Triceratops Spin (think Dumbo but a dinosaur). After that we saw Finding Nemo the musical. Very well done. We looked at the time, knowing we had to leave at 1pm to make it to lunch on time, and thought maybe we could head over to Camp Mickey-Minnie to meet a character or 2 but it was a mob scene over there as the Lion King was letting out so we just left.
Nathan and Mommy on Triceratops Spin
Daddy and Emily on Triceratops Spin
Lunch was at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort (that's the one the monorail drives through). It's the guarenteed spot to meet the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto). I was very excited that we were even able to get a table when I called to make the reservation. My review however, looking back it wasn't worth it. The obssessive calling and stalking on the internet for a time slot. Planning the whole day around that meal. It's not that it was bad, but it wasn't great either.
Minnie also came to the tale but I was at the buffet getting food and Jon didn't remember to take a picture. No biggie we saw Minnie 2 other times this trip.
After lunch we went back to the hotel where we found Nathan's stuffed Grover relaxing on the bed. The kids needed a nap. Since Animal Kingdom closed at 5pm we couldn't go back after nap time. We decided to just relax a bit that night and ate at Shutters, the restaurant at our hotel (thumbs down...I see why they always had plenty of times available). Then we went swimming before calling it a night, knowing we had yet another early morning ahead of us.
This was Magic Kingdom day 1. A very exciting day. We started the morning early by grabbing breakfast at our hotel food court (I should probably add that we purchased a dining plan so all of our meals were paid for in advance, which is how we managed to eat so much food relatively cheaply). We then hopped on a bus to Epcot so we could take the monorail to the ticket and transportation center, where we then jumped on the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. We figured Nathan would probably like to experience all that Disney transportation has to offer since he is fascinated by airplanes, trains, buses, and boats.
On the ferry, it was so humid outside that the lens fogged over.
We arrived at Magic Kingdom right at 9am, opening. I had hoped to get there a little early since that was what "the plan" had recommended we arrive about 8:30am, but it didn't throw us off too badly. "The plan" I refer to is what got us through Disney without waiting for more than about 30 minutes for any ride or attraction. We used a slightly modified plan from "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World" website. We planned on spending 2 days at the Magic Kingdom so I roughly followed the 2 day Magic Kingdom plan for families with small children. I modified it to meet our preferences and to include a few "thrill" rides for Jon and I.
The first ride of the day was Dumbo. Now you must realize that my dad still reminds me that when I was younger I made him wait in line for HOURS to ride Dumbo, so when we waited less than 20 minutes I just had to call and rub it in a bit, LOL. Nathan did NOT want to ride Dumbo, and for that matter he did not want to ride anything while we were standing in line for various rides. But once we were on the rides he loved them all! He and Emily both LOVED Dumbo, they were both laughing and clapping, having a great time! Then we rode on Peter Pan's Flight and The Many Adventures of Winnie-The-Pooh. At this point Nathan wanted a snack so we got him so gummy bears.
We left Fantasyland at that point and headed over to Adventureland to get fastpasses for Splash Mountain. The time for us to return would be right at the time we were planning to eat lunch so we got the passes and hoped they would honor them later in the day. We then went over to Tom Sawyer Island. Neither Jon nor I could remember ever going there as a kid so it was new for all of us. After Tom Sawyer we did diaper changes then saw The Country Bear Jamboree. The air conditioning was very welcome at that point.
It was then time for lunch. We ate at Tony's Town Square, a restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, themed like the restaurant in Lady and the Tramp. After that we headed back to the hotel for nap time. We had a 5:00 dinner reservation at Boatwrights at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, but we were still too full from lunch as the time approached to ready to go so we cancelled and ordered pizza to our room later that night. Once the kids woke up we went back to the Magic Kingdom.
The first thing we did was see Mickey's Philharmagic. 7 years ago on our honeymoon they were builiding this attraction so we have been eager to see it all this time. After that Nathan insisted on riding Dumbo again (which wasn't on "the plan" but we were doing so well on time we did it). After that we all went on the carousel and then It's a Small World.
Emily on the Carousel, all smiles and giggles.
Nathan screaming "I don't want to ride the Carousel" which of course when it was over he thought it was great!
Right after the Carousel ride (see I told you he cheered up quickly, look at that smile) Nathan tried to pull the sword from the stone.
It was getting dark now and we headed back to Splash Mountain to see if they'd take our fastpasses, and they did. So I rode first while Jon waited with the kids, then Jon rode and I took the kids to catch part of the Spectromagic Parade. They could have really cared less about the parade as they were getting sleepy. We met up again when Jon was done with Splash Mountain and rather than watch the parade we went on one last ride, The Haunted Mansion. With both kids practically asleep this was perfect because they wouldn't get too scared.
When The Haunted Mansion was done we started to walk to the main gate. Of course by then the fireworks had started, making it rather difficult to get out, but we did make it out and to the bus before they ended, beating the crowd. Jon and I would have loved to stay and watch the fireworks, but Nathan is petrified of them. We did catch Tinkerbell flying from the castle and were surprised to see it was an actual live person. We both remember it being a figurine in the past.
Back at the hotel we ordered pizza and the kids were out. No trouble getting to bed that night, we were all tried.
Note on pictures: We do have more pictures we want to share, but we don't have them yet. Disney has professional photographers at various places throughout Disney World called Photo Pass Photographers. We preordered a photo CD so when we get it I will have more pictures to share.
On Tuesday, August 18th, we set out on a journey to Disney World in Florida. We woke up super early (at least it was super early to me) and drove over to Jon's brother's house. Dave was going to drive us the rest of the way to the airport so we wouldn't have to pay to park our car there. We got the the airport about an hour and a half before our flight. We couldn't check-in online for whatever reason so we had to stand in line to check in. We got up to the check in kiosk and we still couldn't check in. So the lady at the counter took our IDs and reservation number and disappeared for awhile. She never did say what the problem was, but she came back with our boarding passes in hand. Then we looked at the line for security...it was so long. Thankfully they had a separate "family" line so we didn't have to wait at all. Getting through security is quite the ordeal when traveling with children, but we made it through all in one piece. We got to the gate and they were already boarding, score...no waiting in the airport with 2 small children who wanted to run around!
The first plane was great, we flew into Atlanta and both kids slept most of the way. Once in Atlanta we had a 55 minute lay-over, so in other words just enough time to stop at the potty for diaper changes, grab so grub, and make it to our gate...again they were already boarding! We went to board and they stopped us telling us there was a problem with our seat assignment. After standing there awhile the guy gave us new seat assignments and we got on the plane. Of course there were already people assigned to the seats he gave us and our original seats were wide open so we just sat in them anyway. This time the kids were awake most of the ride, but for the most part they were still good.
We arrived at Orlando airport and went to find the Disney Magic Express bus (notice I didn't say we found our bags first...a great service of using the (FREE) Disney Magic Express is they get your bags for you and deliver them to your room a few hours after you get there). A half hour bus ride later we were checking in at the Caribbean Beach Resort. The CBR is a very spread out resort. Our room was on the second floor of a building in Trinidad South, which with the stroller was not fun since there were no elevators. Trinidad South was also the farthest away from just about everything, but there was a resort shuttle that just drove around the CBR all day. It helped a little but it was a bit annoying. Our room was a pirate themed room.
Pirate Ship Beds
Curtain that seperated the sleeping area from the bath area.
It was pretty cool, but we did pay extra for the room (not our choice, it was the cheapest room available on Disney property when we booked) and I don't think the price of the room was worth it. Overall we were not super impressed with the CBR and will probably not stay there again. 7 years ago for our honeymoon we were at Coronado Springs Resort and we loved it, so that will be our first choice when opting for a moderate resort in the future.
After getting in our room Jon took Nathan and Emily to the little beach area nearby our room. It had a little playground. I waited in the room for a crib and our groceries to be delievered (we ordered some groceries from gardengrocer.com, a local online grocery store that delivers to residents and resorts in central Florida). Before we knew it it was time to go to our dinner reservation for the evening. We had a 6:30 reservation at the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge. If you ever go to Disney, this is a MUST EAT restaurant! The name "Whispering Canyon" is very misleading (we knew that going in). It is a fun, loud, hootin' and hollarin' kinda place. Jon ordered a lemonade with his meal and when he got a refill the waitor brought out an iced-tea instead (not exactly something we are going to drink) so Jon told him of his mistake and he came back with a HUGE jar of lemonade and said he wouldn't make that mistake again! They had the kids do stick horse races around the restaurant, random sing alongs to the Hokey-Pokey, and watch out if you ask for Ketchup or a specific color crayon!
Nathan asked for some Ketchup and the waitor yelled "Can somebody please pass the ketchup?" and tons of kids came over to the table to bring us our ketchup...lots of it!
We thought about going to Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) that night but by the time dinner was over it was late, we had had a long day, and the kids were ready for bed.