Thursday, September 18, 2014

Disney World Part 4

Wednesday, September 10

Prior to going on our vacation I had read all sorts of things from various sources about how Disney can really take a beating on your body. I know that sounds weird, haha. But everyone claimed that it's unlike any other situation you will ever experience, and they offered tips on how to save your feet from blisters and avoid chaffing and what to do for sore muscles and all of that. I thought it was kind of funny and assumed that we wouldn't have a ton of issues in this area. I mean, our family takes walks for fun every night we possibly can. Long walks. We're used pushing strollers the heat and in the rain and everything else. How bad could it possibly be?

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I realized how bad. :) After three days of solid park touring, my legs were sore. I was feeling it in places I didn't even know I could feel it. My upper back, right in the small area between my shoulder blades...ouch. How does that even happen? And the backs of my ankles were being rubbed by my tennis shoes in a way that had never bothered me before. Not to mention that by this time my allergies were acting up and I was stuffy and tired...just worn out! Eric had his own issues, too. I can now personally vouch for the fact that, yes, a week at Disney can definitely take it out of you. But it hurts so good. :)

Thankfully, I assumed that by this point in the trip we would probably need a day to take things a little slower. I had planned for us to spend the day at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and I knew that we would be taking things at a much more leisurely pace here.  I'm so glad that I timed this day when I did - we needed it!

Animal Kingdom closes at 5:00pm, so even if you are the "commando" type of park goer, there's really no such thing as spending the entire day here in the same way you can at the other parks. We found that we could accomplish everything we wanted to in just a few hours, making this the perfect place to stop and smell the roses.

First up on the agenda was brunch! I had scheduled us at 10:45am at the Tusker House restaurant. We didn't even try to make it to park opening on this day - this was our day "off" after all! Tusker House changes over it's buffet around 11:00am, so I knew that if I scheduled us just before that we could get one trip up for breakfast food and then go back for lunch if we wanted later. (And my plan worked out perfectly!)

I found the staff at this restaurant to be stellar - probably the best service we had. We never had bad service, but these folks went above and beyond for us. While we were waiting for our turn to go in, Evelyn mentioned that we had lost our pen for the autograph book we had, and hearing her, the friend we made at the check-in booth dug around in her podium and presented Evelyn with a new pen, because "You can't go in there and not get autographs!" It's the little things!

The food here was great, and our waiter was excellent. The kids were having fun taking turns pretending to pour Eric's coffee out of a (now empty) carafe at our table. When our waiter saw what they were doing, he came by with a new carafe filled with water and coffee cups for the kids so that they could have their own "tea party" at the table.

Later, when he saw me trying to pick food up off the floor (because my kids are a MESS, haha) he said, "No no, mom, don't worry about that! We'll take care of it." It truly felt like we were guests here, if that makes any sense.

Not to mention, our character interaction was great! At Tusker House you meet Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and it's one of the only restaurants on property where you can meet Daisy Duck.

At one point Donald snuck up behind Reagan and tapped him on the shoulder. I WISH I had my camera rolling just then, because Reagan's eyes lit up as big as saucers and his mouth formed a giant "O" that was hi-larious! Donald thought it was pretty funny, himself. He's a jokester!

The kids got to parade around with the characters and have a good ole time here. Tusker House gets a 10/10 from me. The breakfast is typical American food and the lunch items have an African flare. If you're able to book any meals here - do it! And if you want the best of both worlds, make it brunch. :)

The one thing I was really looking forward to on this day was getting to see The Lion King show preformed live. I've always heard rave reviews about the broadway production, but I had never seen it myself. I knew that this wasn't going to be the exact same thing, but if we were IN Disney World, then it was bound to be spectacular. What I didn't expect was that we would bring home one of our most cherished memories from it. :)

It was a hot day, and we were thankful to be filing into a darkened (and well air conditioned!) theater. The room is set up with the stage in the middle and stadium-style seating all around in four different sections....

We had gotten fast passes for this show, so we were walking in first with the rest of the fast pass crowd. We were all being put in the "elephant" section of the theater. There we were, just shuffling along with everyone else, when a cast member came up to me and asked, "How many are in your party?"

"Five," I answered.

"Perfect, " he said with a smile. He bent down to the girls and said, "You two are dressed up like giraffes today! You don't belong in the elephant section. Let's put you over here, where the giraffes belong."

And with that he instructed us to follow him. I knew something was up when he pointed us to a small bench in the very front row that had "reserved" placards on them. As soon as we sat down I turned to Eric and said, "You know they're going to get picked for something, right?" Haha.

We were right IN the action for the show. It was incredible! Well, for everyone except for Reagan, haha. We were so close to the dancers and performers that they were interacting with us throughout the whole thing, and I think it was just a little bit too close for comfort for the little guy. Stimulation overload! He kept his face buried in my shoulder most of the time. :)

Right as the show began, sure enough, the girls were called on to stand up for the giraffes and lead our group in making our animal's sound. It was super cute, and I thought that was it, but it definitely wasn't!

There is awesome music and singing, dancing, acrobatics on trampolines and parallel bars and rings...high flying twirling people and ribbon dancers...all of the favorite Lion King characters are part of the show, in addition to the actors. It lived up to everything I hoped for, and it's a must-see if you are at Animal Kingdom!

In the middle of all of the action several of the performers came in and swooped up the girls once again (much to Reagan's dismay - he was scared that they were stealing his big sisters, haha). During one of the final numbers Evelyn and Grace got to walk around the stage with a few other kids and be a part of the show. My face hurt from smiling so much! I think I've watched the video from it 10 times already. :)

(Our good camera was, once again, being used for videos!)

I walked out of that theater on Cloud 9. And several times throughout the rest of the day, even as we were standing in lines, families would recognize the girls and say, "Good job at the Lion King show today!" I couldn't believe people remembered them! It was definitely a highlight and one of those "magical" moments from the trip.

We walked around for a little bit on this very hot day and decided to use our last fast pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. I loved it!

Animal Kingdom has tried really really hard over the years to set itself apart from a typical "zoo." I remember an advertising campaign they had when they first opened where they said over and over again that they were "Not a zoo! Not a zoo!" Yes, they have animals there, but you can get the opportunity to experience them in a really unique way. The Kilimanjaro Safari was designed to make you feel like you are actually on an African safari, and it's full of free roaming animals and surprises around every turn.

I was just happy that it was a long ride, under some shade, and we got to sit! :) Reagan actually fell asleep on it and snoozed all the way until we got to the parking lot a little bit later.

There were lions and elephants and any other type of animal you could possibly think of that might live in Africa. You cannot go to Animal Kingdom and skip this one! (P.S...Did you know that zebras are black with white stripes not white with black stripes? Well if ya didn't, now you do!)

As we were making our way out of the park on this leisurely day, we decided to stop for some ice cream...because that's just what we Roberts do.

No one was sad to leave, because we were taking the rest of this afternoon to hang out at the pool, and boy did that sound good right about then!

We swam our little hearts out again, that glorious water pampering this pregnant lady. We would have stayed there all day long if we didn't eventually get hungry for dinner. Eric and I decided at some point that we were going to go on a mission that night.

All week long we had successfully avoided many of the gift shops. Our kids are typical kids ya know, so of course they were asking for things here and there, and our reply was always, "Let's just wait and see everything they have, and then you can pick something you really want." We decided that on this night we would go back to Downtown Disney to catch some night life, eat dinner, and finally let the kids go into the giant Disney store and pick out their souvenir for the trip.

So that's just what we did. :)


The girls picked out princess dolls (which they have been obsessed with!) while Reagan chose a stuffed Tigger. :)

Why hello, Fairy Godmother!

We had to make a stop at the giant Lego store, of course. There is an outdoor play area where the kids can build with Legos.

There are HUGE Lego sculptures all around, but it was too dark to get pictures of most of them.

This was one of the smaller ones. :)

We wrapped up the night by taking a stroll around the gorgeous waterfront. We found this out-of-the-way walking path on our first night at Downtown Disney when we were trying to escape from the rain. Far less people use it, and it's a nice quiet way to end the evening after all of the hustle and bustle of the day. It was a great ending to what had been a slower-paced day. Because the next day certainly wouldn't be a slow one!

We had just ONE more park day ahead...and we purposed to make it count. I couldn't believe how fast the week had gone by, but it wasn't over yet! There was so much in the Magic Kingdom that we saved for our last day, and I couldn't wait to get back and see that castle one last time. I hope you'll join us tomorrow as we share the last of our vacation days. :)

To be continued....


Heather said...

This is my favorite day, by far. The girls perfect for that entire day!! Way to go mom!!!

Adrien said...

I truly think it was those dresses that got the girls so much attention, haha!

Cassie said...

i mean everything has been just planned SO well. props to you momma. there's a lady a lot of people go through at work who JUSTS plans disney trips. i think you might have a career here! lol.


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