Monday, August 31, 2009

DISNEY WORLD! Day 3, August 20th

Thursday, August 20th

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'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.

Grover lounging around

DISNEY WORLD! Day 2, August 19th

Wednesday, August 19th

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.

DISNEY WORLD! Day 1, August 18th

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 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, 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, 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!

Jon's Lemonade

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.

Where did the summer go?

This summer has just flown by, and I've been a bad blogger. Let's pick up where we left off...the rest of our New Jersey trip was fine. It rained the entire time we were there and was a bit chilly, so we were indoors most of the time. We searched for a mall with a play area but apparently they just don't have those in NJ. Our last night there was quite the adventure, not so much in a good way though. We lost power at my Grandma's house which wasn't good. Grandma was on oxygen 24/7 and no power meant no breathing machine. She did have a portable one that she used but she wasn't getting enough oxygen and I had to call 911. Luckily my aunt and uncle lived right next door so they and my cousins came right over knowing more about what to do than I did. They also had a few neighbors down the road that were part of the response team for their area so my aunt called them right away so they got there within minutes. We left the next morning while Grandma was still in the hospital. Typical Grandma, she didn't want us to make a fuss over her so she insisted we still continue with our plans to leave the next morning. We drove pretty much to the Pennsylvania/Ohio border and decided to get a hotel for the night and drive the rest of the way home the next day. Pennsylvania just does a toll on us mentally, it's such a big state that it seems like it is never going to end so the break at the border was just what we needed. On a sad note I must also report that in mid-July Grandma did pass away. But on a much happier note she is now with her husband again in heaven, they have been apart for far too long...42 years.

Once home we spent our days at the zoo, library, pool, and several MOMS Club events. Jon finished his last few classes for his Master's degree (in fact he is presenting his "thesis" later this afternoon...I say "thesis" because it's not really a paper like a traditional thesis, instead he had to put together a compilation of all of his conducting experiences throughout school, just about as time consuming as a thesis would have been).

Emily's adoption was finalized in July, so she is officially ours. We are taking her to the temple this Saturday to be sealed to us. We chose this Saturday (Sept 5) because it is her 1st birthday as well, so we think that makes it extra special. She's grown so much this summer and we can't believe our little baby is going to be 1 in less than a week. This past Saturday we took her to get her ears pierced. She did great, only crying for a few minutes, and she looks so pretty.

Nathan has kept us busy this summer. He is still just a big ball of energy. He loves to go to nursery at church with his new nursery teacher. Nathan has been such a big helper at home too. He tries to take care of Emily and help us with the house work that needs to be done, his favorite thing to help with is cooking.

In August we went on our ward camp out, just a short little overnight with friends from church. The rain held off all night but first thing in the morning it all came down. Lucky for us I told Jon to take down the tent as soon as we had woken up, so it was still dry!

The big conclusion to our summer, the thing we most looked forward to all summer, was our trip to Disney World! Disney deserves a post all of it's own, so check back soon to see all about our trip.