Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Disney World Part 3

Tuesday, September 9

Our third park day found us at Disney's Hollywood Studios - not to be confused with Universal Studios, which is a different theme park entirely. (I'm always a little surprised by how many people think they are the same thing, haha.) We were dragging just a little bit this morning. After closing Epcot the night before, we missed opening rope drop here. But that was no matter...we had fast passes for the most important attractions!

There is currently a special event happening at Hollywood Studios called "Frozen Summer Fun" and at the park entrance they were handing everyone these Olaf fans. They were fun souvenirs but were also just plain practical. With no rain the day before things had really warmed up, and this park is a hot park anyway. Yay Olaf fans!

Before using our fast pass for the popular Toy Story Mania ride, we decided to satisfy a bit of our nerd spirits and visit something you might not think would be in a theme park...a museum. The "One Man's Dream" museum to be exact, which is all about Walt Disney, of course. Since Eric and I had spent a good part of our road trip learning about Walt in a biography, we found this a must-do stop. But who am I kidding, we would have considered this a must-do stop anyway!

It's not a vacation in the Robert family unless you learn something. :)

After this we got some target practice at Toy Story Mania (so fun!) and then we had to drop in at The Writers Stop to sample one of Disney's best snacks (according to many shows on the Food Network) the carrot cake cookie. was really good! And huge - the kids and I all shared just one of these cake-like cookies. Eric chose an oatmeal cookie, which was good, but it wasn't the carrot cake cookie. :)

A little side-note here.... So, there is one complaint that a lot of people have had about Disney lately, and that is that they have been hosting SO many extra events (some of them cost extra, too) that it gets to be a bit over the top as far as touring goes. It's easy to feel pulled in a million different directions, and if you've never been to the parks then you feel like there's all of this superfluous stuff going on in addition to the thousands of other things there are to see and do. I found this to be true for us at Hollywood Studios.

Months ago when we planned this trip I had booked our reservations and made sure we had just the right fast passes and all of that. Then they announce at the last minute that all of the special Frozen activities they had going on during the summer months were going to be extended through September, and suddenly I was torn. Should I ditch all of our plans in order to make room for this extra stuff, or just pretend like it wasn't happening?

I's Frozen. The girls love Frozen. I'm a little Frozen-ed out, but they love it. Then again, this was our first trip, and I wanted this trip to be full of the classic things we've never seen or done before. Darn you, Disney! In the end...I'm a terrible parent...but...we ignored all of the extra stuff. :) In fact, just as we were slipping in to our lunch reservation that day the Frozen processional was coming down the street. 

Can you see them? Haha.

Just as the crowds headed one direction to follow the princesses, we high-tailed it the other way to make it to lunch at Hollywood & Vine for some play 'n dine fun! I have to say that looking back, this was one of the better character meals that we did, because it was so interactive for the little ones. Our kids danced and marched around with their favorite Disney Jr. characters just as much as they sat down to eat. It definitely lived up to it's play 'n dine description!

Almost immediately Handy Manny stopped by to say hello....

Such a friendly fellow. :)

Of course the biggest draw here for the girls was the one...the only...Sofia the First! Eeep!

I have to take a moment to brag on Sofia, because she was just a doll to my babies. The girls had worn their very own amulets to show her that they had ones just like hers. And she thought that was the greatest thing! She spent extra time with them, giving them hugs and kisses and even kissing their amulets for good luck. So cute!

Thanks, princess. You're amazing in my book!

Now, there was some actual eating that went on during this lunch. I really liked this location, because they had a separate buffet just for the kids with food they are more inclined to eat. This picture of Reagan eating his chocolate covered strawberry cracks me up....

He looked at it kind of cross-eyed, appalled that someone would put chocolate on a perfectly good strawberry and proceeded to take the shell off before eating the fruit, haha. Couldn't possibly be my child! 

Doc McStuffins came by for a visit!

There are very few girl characters that Reagan will jump up for, but he definitely made sure to get his visit in with the Doc. I don't blame you, buddy, I think she's pretty swell, too. :)

Of course, he was really waiting for a certain pirate to show up....

And apparently so was Eric, hehe.

Awwww. ;)

But no time to get sentimental, it was time for a DANCE PARTY - WOOT!

They really take their dancing seriously here, and we have tons of video to prove it. :)

Overall, this one also gets our stamp of approval - particularly if you have preschool aged kids. The characters AND the food were great here. A perfect place have lunch at Hollywood Studios!

The one thing Eric was looking forward to at this park was the fact that some of his very favorite characters were located here - the Muppets! We are definitely Muppet fans in this house. So after lunch we used our second fast pass of the day to see the Muppet show. This would prove to the be only 3D show of the entire trip that Reagan would sit all the way through happily.

You know those commercials for 3D movies that show kids reaching out to try to touch the images in front of them? Those were so my kids at every single show we went to, haha. I laughed SO HARD. I don't know what was more entertaining, watching the screen or watching Gracie and Evelyn try to grab things that weren't really there. :)

We had just a little bit of time to kill before it was showtime at the Playhouse Disney show, so we decided to hop in line (the only long line of the entire trip!) to meet some pretty iconic characters that would have been a shame to pass up. Can you guess who they were....?

It was Buzz and Woody, of course!

I think these next pictures speak for themselves....

Hahaha. He wasn't letting go of his pal, Woody!

We had actually timed this out perfectly, because just as we were finishing up meeting our favorite Toy Story characters we needed to be in the theater for the Playhouse Disney show. I had been secretly anticipating this part of the day all day long. I just knew the kids would love it!

In this theater everyone sits on the floor, which I actually really appreciated. Sometimes those folding theater seats can be tricky for little ones, and I'm pretty sure Reagan thought he was going to be swallowed up by his every time. :)

All of the Disney Jr. characters come on stage here in puppet form, from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crew to Jake, Sofia, Doc, and all of their friends.

Throughout the show there is falling snow, bubbles, streamers, and even raining gold doubloons!

It was the perfect way to end our afternoon at Hollywood Studios!

And just why were we only spending half a day at this park? I'll tell you why. For the one thing I was looking forward to on this trip MOST of all. I'll give you a hint...."It's not so very scary...It's really not so scary...Boo to you, you and you!"

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!!! Wahoo!!!

We had plans to go back to the Magic Kingdom that evening to have a little early Halloween fun. I had a great time all day, but any time I thought about that night I had butterflies in my stomach. Could not wait!

See you next time, Hollywood Studios!

Later that evening....

We had just a couple of hours to go back to our hotel room, rest a bit, grab dinner, and get dressed up for the party. All day long we had been checking the radar for the weather. It didn't look good for us, and I was seriously praying that the rain would hold off. The halloween party is a hard-ticket event, meaning it is what it is. It was our one shot to go and there were no other chances for us to make it that week if it was a wash out. At one point they were predicting a 100% chance of rain for that evening. It made my heart hurt, but we were going to give it our best go no matter what!

We brought our light-up buckets along to do a little bit of trick-or-treating! They were a HIT there, just like they are back home, haha. Everyone wanted to know where we got our buckets from. (And they proved to be amazingly practical once the sun went down in a crowded Magic Kingdom.)

Back on the ferry to return to my happy place!

It was cloudy at this point, but still no rain. (Oh please oh please oh please.)

As soon as we walked through the gates of the Magic Kingdom I knew that this was going to be a special night. You could feel it in the air. The music was different. The decorations had been slightly altered. It was no longer just a beautiful fall setting, but now it had touches of halloween whimsy here and there. Eric is not a super fan of Halloween, but even he commented that it was pretty cool. :)

We had to take a few minutes just to stand back in awe and soak up the atmosphere. 

Soon an eerie voice came over the loud speakers announcing that the party was officially about to begin, and if you weren't wearing a special wristband that night proving you had paid for a party ticket then get.the heck.out. Haha. No but really, they were hardcore about checking people's bands. Don't try to sneak in, because you will get caught!

It was fun walking around and seeing all of the different people dressed up in costumes - adults and children alike. I had decided long ago that our kids wouldn't wear full costumes to the party, because I thought it would just be too darn hot. Any costume we would wear for our own Halloween at home would definitely not be the type of costume you'd want to walk around in at Disney in September. So instead, most of us just wore some festive type clothing. Comfort was way more important!

We officially started our evening by whipping out the map and finding all of the trick-or-treat trails. Oh my...the candy. They are extremely generous with the candy, putting it into your bag or bucket by the handfuls! (And yep, adults are welcome to trick-or-treat, too!)  In just a few stops our kids' buckets were half full. At one spot in particular a cast member said, "I LOVE your buckets! Here, you get even more candy!" and loaded them up with extra handfuls, haha.

We did make one detour along the way when we passed the spinning teacups. I couldn't go on the ride (doctor's orders) so Eric took the kids. I wish I had pictures of all of this...the rides and the trick-or-treating...but it's all on video. You might just have to wait for all of that. ;)

At the end of one of the trails we came across a hopping dance party, and of course we had to join!

The sun was going down and the music was cranking up! Who doesn't want to dance around with Mike and Sulley??

But it was then that it started. Drip. Drip. Drip. I kept feeling little raindrops hit here and there. It wasn't long before the highlight of the entire evening, The Boo To You Parade, was set to begin, and I was reeeeally hoping that it wouldn't be pouring down rain. 

But it did rain. It rained enough for us to get the good ole ponchos back out again and cover the kiddos' legs with those shower curtain blankets we had. It never rained hard (thankfully) but it did rain pretty steadily for a while. We decided that we better go stake a spot out for the parade and hope for the best.

Whew, was it crowded! By the time we made our way to Main Street folks were lined up three people deep on every side of the street. I knew that we weren't going to get primo seating for this thing (I refused to waste an hour of party time staking out a spot) but with it being the low crowd season I didn't anticipate it being as crowded as it was. Thankfully a nice family let the girls sit right on the curb with them while we stood in the back and watched. It worked out just fine in the end. :)

I have to say...I was pretty disappointed that it rained all during the one thing I was looking forward to the most on this trip. This parade was the ONE part of the party that made the price of admission worth it to me, and it was kind of a bummer. I couldn't even take that many pictures for fear of getting the camera too wet.

And wouldn't you know, as soon as the parade was over, the rain stopped. Haha. I mean, I was very grateful for that, because we were able to enjoy the rest of the evening, but...seriously. Just my luck!

We decided to go grab some snacks before the famous HalloWishes fireworks show started. Ultimately Eric and I were the only ones getting any snacks, because, well....

...the kids were covered. :)

We wheeled our drinks and funnel cakes back to the hub where we waited in front of Cinderella's Castle for the big show. Ordinarily I could take or leave fireworks. But HalloWishes is supposedly THE best fireworks show that Disney puts on. Better than the regular fireworks, better than any other parks' fireworks...even better than the special Christmas party fireworks. This was not to be missed!

And it did NOT disappoint. Holy moly. 

Our pictures cannot even do it justice, so just trust me on this one! At one point it feels like the fireworks are all around you. The finale is phenomenal. I've never been genuinely impressed by a fireworks show, but this one...hats off to you, Disney. Amazing!

By this time the party was still in full swing with several more hours to go, but it was already pretty late in the night for our kids. Eric didn't want to stick around for the second parade at 10:30pm, so we decided to call it a night! Despite the rain which put a damper on things for a little while, we had gotten to trick-or-treat, ride some rides, go to a dance party, see the parade and fireworks...basically everything we wanted to accomplish! But probably coolest of all was just soaking up the awesomeness that is Main Street when it's all lit up at night for a special event....

I was just happy to BE there! It was totally a "pinch me" moment. Something I dreamed about for a very long time. I walked out of the park that night a very contented mama. :) (And now I'm trying to convince Eric that we need to go back again for this party sometime so I can see the parade when it's dry. Haha.)

The next morning we would awake to find ourselves heading to another park we had never been to before - the only one left on the list! It was time to get WILD in the Animal Kingdom!!

To be continued....


Cassie said...

i may have cried a bit during this one. the parade. the fireworks. the excitement on the kids faces. the awesome characters. ahhh - i love it! my favorite!!

Heather said...

Kinley would have loved all of the Disney Jr characters and the Playhouse Disney part!!! That's so awesome. So jealous you met Doc.

Teresa said...

I love these posts! I'll definitely be using them as references in planning our future Disney trip!

Adrien said...

Thank you for all of the encouragement! :) Finally, several days later, it's really starting to hit me how much I miss it...I'm in Disney depression. Haha. I hope it does help anyone planning a trip! We put a ton of thought and planning into everything we did, and I think it paid off in the end.


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