Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Disney World Part 2

When we last left off we were just walking into breakfast at The Crystal Palace. (And I've realized this will be a MONSTER post to get this thing on schedule to be done in a week. Get ready...this is going to take a while.)

We were seated in a very sunny spot right next to the food!

Like many character meals at Disney, The Crystal Palace is a buffet. It was our first test to see how we would juggle getting food for three squirmy kids and feed ourselves all while being continuously interrupted by characters coming around to meet the family. We typically sent one of the adults up to get food for the kids, then they would go back up and get their own food, then parent #2 would take their turn. In other words, it was a little bit chaotic and we were rarely all seated and eating at the same time, haha. So what is the appeal of these meals? No lines for meet-and-greets! And with little kids that is huge. Why not let the characters come to you while you're already eating and knock two things out at once?

Eeyore would be our first character meet of the trip. He is so cute!

The girls jumped up right away to meet their new friend while Reagan hung back a bit. He wasn't screaming or recoiling, so that was good. Haha.

The more characters that came by to say hello, the more comfortable he was getting with the whole idea.

Each of the characters was SO good with the kids and made sure that they each had their own time for hugs and hellos. It's almost like they meet children every day or something. ;)

I wish I had better pictures with Tigger, but we were too busy taking video at this point. By the time the big orange guy came around, Reagan had it down, and he hugged that tiger for so long that the character attendant had to start moving things along, haha. It looked like Reagan had found a new buddy, and that was definitely the first "awww" moment of the trip!

The food here was standard american breakfast fare, which was yummy and predictable. I hear lunch and dinner are really good! The character interaction was excellent. I recommend it, and definitely take advantage of booking a pre-park opening reservation if you can. Getting to see the castle for the first time without a million people around was a priceless part of this experience!

As we were leaving the restaurant the park was opening and we could see the throngs of people making their way down Main Street. That meant rides were open and we were ready to go! We went straight to Fantasyland, because we just HAD to ride all of the classics first!

We chose Peter Pan to be our very first ride, partly because Evelyn requested it, but also because I know how insanely popular it is. The line typically builds quickly for this one! It was too dark for picture taking, but we all boarded our flying boats and flew over London and Neverland and came back again. Our kids had never experienced anything like that before, and I'm pretty sure at this point they were amazed! If the kids were happy, I was happy...and I was very happy. :)

It's a Small World!


Cinderella's Carousel! 

Childhood fantasies were being fulfilled by now. And by that, I mean my own. ;)

I couldn't wait to get on the People Mover, a ride we could all be on together. 

The best part of this morning was that there was virtually no wait for anything. We purposely booked this trip to be at the lowest crowd levels of the year, and it paid off! We walked on to just about everything we wanted to ride. The longest wait we had all day was...maybe for the Winnie the Pooh ride? And that was ten minutes in a line queue filled with things for the kids to do. Eric and I looked at each other all day long saying, "This is awesome!" We were in theme park mecca with people from literally all over the world and we were doing whatever we wanted, when we wanted. (So don't let the word get too far out, but early September is THE time to go!)

We continued seeing shows and riding rides, almost too numerous to count. Just before lunch we remembered that there was a castle show coming up, so we had to stop for that. It's called "Dream Along With Mickey" and it's super cute. My favorite part was the choreography of the Disney dancers. I looked down at my pregnant belly at one point and thought, "Someday I'll be able to move around like that again." Ha.

This is a great place to spot the villain Maleficent! 

Reagan slept through the show but woke up just in time for us to grab some lunch. We ate at the Columbia Harbor House. OH.MY.GOSH. Best fish I've ever had in my life. And it's not like this is a gourmet sit-down place, it is a counter service restaurant. But it had the best flavor, and I'm not even ordinarily a huge fish lover. Definitely go there for a quick bite if you ever find yourself in the Magic Kingdom!

While we were busy feasting we hardly even noticed that the clouds rolled in and it started pouring down rain. I don't think most other people noticed, either, because soon we saw guests pointing towards the window. It was a little shocking how fast it came! It was bright and sunny when we walked into the restaurant just 20 minutes earlier. Our poor strollers were sitting outside getting drenched - along with everyone else's! Thankfully we were prepared with towels, cheap plastic shower curtains (yes, for real...and just in case for this very occasion, haha) and rain ponchos. That park bag I packed was like Mary Poppin's carpetbag ifyouknowwhatimean.

The rain subsided for a bit and we attacked Tomorrowland. We rode several rides and were having the time of our lives when the rain decided to start back again. This time, it wouldn't stop. Not for the whole day and the whole night. We passed some more time at indoor attractions and then walked around in the rain for a bit. Grace fell asleep and we stopped for a snack.

This is where Eric discovered the love of his life...second to yours truly. ;)

The ice cream sandwich cookie. Eric adored this snack. He looked for this snack at every single shop and kiosk for the rest of trip...and he ate his share of them! (On the way home as we were sharing memories, this was his. The ice cream sandwich cookie at Disney World.) Evelyn, Reagan, and I had a funnel cake and it was perfect!

Soon after this we decided to call it a day here. We had accomplished SO much - even Eric conceded that it was totally worth it. Since Gracie was snoozing we thought it would be a good time to try out the ferry ride back to the parking lot. We were in no hurry. We loved this boat ride so much that we didn't take another bus for the entire trip. If we were relying on disney transportation, we were taking the ferry!

I'll quickly add here that even though it rained steadily for the rest of the evening, there was no way we were staying in our hotel room! Instead of heading back to a park that night we decided to check out Downtown Disney - where a lot of the eating and shopping is. Ended up having one of the better meals of the entire trip there at Wolfgang Puck Express. We braved the weather and walked all around until finally calling it a day.

Day one of vacation was AWESOME. We went to bed that night dreaming of our next adventure...at Epcot!

Monday, September 8

Somehow, and I'm not sure how, we still had enough energy on this day to wake up and make it to park opening at Epcot. You know the place with the giant golfball, aka: Spaceship Earth.

Our plans led us to "The Seas - With Nemo and Friends." It's an indoor area that's part aquarium and part attractions - a great place to stay cool and spend some time! (World Showcase - a big draw for Epcot - doesn't open until 11:00am.)

Our kids were immediately drawn to the giant tanks which were filled with varieties of fish, some scuba divers, and DOLPHINS. They were the most playful things I've ever seen! Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I had ever seen a dolphin up close before then. It was so much fun watching them swim around. We also hopped aboard the Nemo ride...which we could have ridden over and over if we wanted to. We practically had that place to ourselves!

Inside of The Seas is also "Turtle Talk With Crush," an interactive show with the totally tubular turtle dad from Finding Nemo. Evelyn was called on to ask him a question, and flustered she said, "How many times a day do you...uhhh...." And without skipping a beat he answered, "Oh, all the time, dude!" It was so funny. :)

We spent the rest of the morning meandering around and making our way to World Showcase in anticipation of our lunch reservation for the day. We were meeting some Disney royalty in Norway!

The kids really liked watching the trains in Germany....

I'll be honest, Epcot during the day...not really our thing so much. It was hot...a lot of the food carts were closed and street entertainment wasn't out yet in World Showcase when we were there. We thought it was kind of "eh" for our younger family. (While I think the different country's pavilions are neat, the kids couldn't have cared less.) BUT...foreshadowing...it would redeem itself later. ;)

Our lunch reservation could not come soon enough! Today was the big day to meet all of our favorite Disney princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

I should really stop this post here.

But. I can't! Too much to talk about, haha. Let's keep going....

Akershus is in the Norway pavilion and so the food is, as you might guess, served up with a Norwegian flare. The kids really didn't like it. :) But Eric and I thought it was mighty fine! It's a good thing they weren't there for the food.

The meal comes with commemorative photos with Belle, which they bring to your table and present as a gift while you're eating.

There's truly nothing like seeing your kid smile! And no princess was going to put a smile on Grace's face quite like her very favorite....

And this is how she felt about that....

  Worth it.

Evie's favorite is Snow White....

I love the way she talks. :)

So where was Reagan in all of this? Well, if you are friends of Eric's on Facebook then you probably already know, haha. He was laying low when the princesses came around. And if you asked him to jump in a picture....

Not having it. Bahaha.

Don't let him fool you, though. It was totally an act. Because as soon as the princesses would walk away, he would get the biggest smirk on his little face.

He knew exactly what he was doing. Playing a little hard to get, hey buddy?

All in all, this was a really great experience. I can't say that from the kids' prospective that the food was worth it (they mainly ate off of the cold buffet and didn't touch their entrees), but the character meets could not be beat. Seeing all of these princesses in one place was wonderful (and saved us a lot of time from standing in lines!)

By the time we were walking out of here it was afternoon in the Florida sun - hot hot hot! We knew we wouldn't last much longer, and our resort pool was calling our name. But first...Eric had a fast pass for a fun little ride that he wanted to use. And it turned out that the girls were both tall enough to ride along. I couldn't believe it, but all three of them rode Test Track - one of the fastest rides on property, and all three of them LOVED it.

Never knew my girls were little daredevils! 

As we were walking out of the park we were dying of thirst. We looked left and right for water as we made our way out, and we never did find a place to get any. And that's when the sun beamed down on the oasis that is Club Cool. An awesome little spot in Epcot where you can sample sodas from all around the world for free. Don't mind if we do!

Evelyn's favorite was some red concoction from Zimbabwe, as you can tell from her bright red lips! My favorite was the melon flavored drink from Thailand. :)

After getting a refreshing drink, we were more than ready to go back to the resort and jump in the pool!

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this but...hanging out at the pool was just as fun as anything else we did on the trip! Mainly because it felt so wonderful after long days of walking around. The weightless feeling of being in the water was a godsend. And if Reagan could talk more, I think he might tell you this was the most fun he had of all! He LOVED playing with his dad in the pool. I've never seen him call out for "Daddy! Daddy!" more than he did on these days. He wanted his dad to throw him around. :) Unfortunately, this did result in Reagan getting a black eye, haha. He still has it. But that didn't stop him from wanting more. 

Grandma Joan, you will be happy to know that a summer's worth of swimming lessons for the girls totally paid off. They are excellent swimmers - shallow end, deep end. All on their own. Totally confident in the water. Our babies are getting so big!

Our day was not over yet! After grabbing a quick bite at our resort food court, we went back to Epcot that night to try out World Showcase just one more time. You know, when the sun was down and it wasn't so stinkin hot!

Friends, Epcot is SO much cooler at night - no pun intended! The atmosphere is completely different. The lighting makes everything look stunning...there is a buzz in the air that just isn't there in the daytime. It felt like we were in an entirely different park, and I'm so glad we went back and gave it another chance!

We walked all around World Showcase that evening...twice! (I can't believe we did that. That's insane.) And we stopped in France to get some ice cream.

While there we were sitting next to the cutest Chinese ladies who were marveling at our children. :)

"How many? Two?"

"No," said Eric. "Two girls, one boy!"

"Ohhh!" They said with delight.

And then he added, "And one more on the way!"

I wish I had gotten their response on camera. 

"Ahhh!" they yelled. "You're so lucky! You're so lucky!" 

Haha. We got a kick out of that one for the rest of the trip. :)

Spaceship Earth is so beautiful at night. It almost feels like you're seeing it in a movie.

I enjoyed the best caramel popcorn I've ever had in my life from the Germany pavilion.

Wish I had some right now!

We closed out the park this night by staying for the nighttime spectacular - Illuminations. I don't have any great pictures from this, because it was dark and Reagan is terrified of fireworks. I was holding him in a bear hug most of the time. :) All three kids were asleep in the strollers before we even made it to the parking lot.

As we were walking out a cast member counted, "One, two, three - good job mom and dad!" :)

They were OUT.

And that's exactly how I feel after writing this post!

Did you make it? Are you still with me??

Because the fun was far from over now. There was no stopping for us all week long. Next up, Hollywood Studios! See ya real soon!

To be continued....


Cassie said...

love this!!

i want that ice cream. i want to meet the princesses. i want to see a parade at night. and fireworks at disney. LOVE THIS!!

and i love how in your photos it's not like people every where. because i know in my past life i was lost in a crowd. lol. i love me some no crowds.

Heather said...

I totally would have cried if you stopped before the princess part.

So, do you think any of the kids are too young? I want to start saving for a trip to take Kinley, but don't know what the best age would be. You have a good range to compare.

And where did you get those towels??

Adrien said...

Ah - I'm already looking forward to reading about both of YOUR trips someday, haha.

Heather, if you are planning on taking one big trip someday (and never going back) I would wait until Kinley is like...42-43 inches tall. Whenever that is! (Likely around five or older.) Because then she (and you) won't be limited on the bigger rides, and she's more likely to have memories of it. HOWEVER...there is no bad age! I imagine it's a completely different experience with kids of different ages, but they have stuff for everyone. If you plan to go back again someday, heck I'd go as soon as you could! (If you take her before she turns three...even one day before she turns three) she is totally free for your entire trip!

The towels were a gift from Aunt Amy, and I think they came from personalcreations.com :)

Erin said...

Omg I'm obsessed with these posts. Haha.
My favorite part so far is all of Eric's Disney outfits. Lolol.
I NEEEEEED to go. Your pictures are just like when they went on Full House. I'll never forget that episode. Haha.

Adrien said...

Best Full House episodes EVER! Not going to lie, several times when we were there I was thinking, "Full House was here! Boy Meets World was here! So many great shows were here!" :)


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