Epcot

What a way to start the new year! We spent January 1, 2014 at Epcot. Before we went there, we ate breakfast at the World Premier Food Court at All-Star Movies Resort. The kids ate Mickey waffles, sausage, and eggs and Derek and I ate whatever was left. We used our Rapid Fill drink mugs so when we were done at breakfast, we had to walk back to the room and then back to the resort to the bus area. We decided we wouldn’t make that mistake again. We weren’t in a hurry so much as it added a lot of extra walking to a day that would be full of walking.

Image

We rode the bus to Epcot and spent the morning riding rides. We ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons which is located in The Land. It was pretty good, but after reading the reviews I expected a lot more. After lunch, we had some fast passes to use. It was interesting with the new fastpass+ system. I set up all the fast passes ahead of time which was nice, but at the same time, I didn’t know which rides would have long lines at what times. The Seas with Nemo and Friends never really had a line and I had a fast pass for that. The Land didn’t have much of a wait either and I had a fast pass for that. I was really glad we had a fast pass for Soarin’. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have been able to ride it. Even with the fast pass it was a bit of a wait, but doable. The good and bad with that was that Cara couldn’t go on it. I felt bad for her, although she didn’t seem to mind, but we were then able to utilize the rider switch pass. That way she didn’t have to wait in the line, Abby and Cade got to ride twice, and Derek and I each got to ride once. Nemo was close enough that we took Cara on that while she had to wait for the other two to ride Soarin’. Another time I took her on The Land. We had a dinner reservation at Coral Reef. The wall of aquarium was neat to look at and there were divers in there while we were eating. The kids, however, were looking for characters. I ordered the steak which was good. The kids had grilled chicken. It was pretty warm in there, though, and part way through the meal I started not feeling very well. I lost my appetite and only ate about half of my meal. As soon as we got out into the fresh air, though, I felt fine. After dinner, we decided it was time to call it a night and we headed back to the hotel. The kids had some time to play with their iPods when we got back to the room and then it was time to get to sleep to get ready for another busy day ahead.

December 31, 2013

The day had finally arrived. We woke the kids up at 5:30 am and were on the road by 5:50. We had everything packed the night before and just had to grab a few last minute things out of the fridge so we were ready quickly. It was a very cold morning and there was a possibility of snow so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get to O’Hare airport. We watched Peter Pan on the way and hit no traffic so we got there early. We parked in the remote lot F, took a picture of our parking spot, and hopped on the bus. We made our way to the check in and had to wait in line for a bit. Just before we were to the desk, the worker announced that if we had not printed our boarding passes that there would be a charge, so I hopped out of line and printed them at the only station of 4 that actually worked. I got back in line and we checked in. The next step was security and we got lucky with our first fast pass and were sent to the quick line. There was only one person in front of us. The other line probably took 30-40 minutes to get through. Yay! We made it to the gate and entertained ourselves.

Image

We took some walks, the kids played iPods, ate a late McDonald’s breakfast, and made sure we used the restroom before we boarded.

We flew Spirit and they have a bad reputation, but we knew going in that nothing would be included. We brought snacks and our water from McDonald’s. The flight went smoothly. The kids had fun and Cara was excited for her first airplane ride. ┬áPart way through the trip, Abby said, “I don’t know why I was so excited to fly on an airplane. It’s pretty much just getting there. It’s kind of boring.” Those are my thoughts exactly. I used to think flying was so exciting but it really is the idea of going somewhere. The actual airplane is pretty boring.

We landed in Orlando at MCO and made our way to the Magical Express. It was the first time we used our MagicBands. We scanned in and made our way to the bus. We had to sit there awhile but then we were on our way. After 3 stops, we were dropped off at All-Star Movies Resort. We checked in and made our way to the Love Bug section. The room was sufficient but had a funny smell upon entering and was less than I had expected.

Image

I emptied a few of our bags and repacked a bag to take to Hollywood Studios with us and we were right back out the door. We went to the bus stop and got on the bus for Hollywood Studios. The fun part was finally starting!

At Hollywood Studios, we decided to eat at Pizza Planet, so we walked straight there since we hadn’t eaten much all day. I ordered at the counter while Derek and the kids found a place to sit on the patio. It was so nice to eat outside on New Year’s Eve! After we ate, we headed toward the front of the park to get ready to go to Fantasmic. Last time we were at Disney World, we did not see the Fantasmic show, so I was really excited to see it. We used a fastpass and were able to walk right in. We sat in the third row and had a pretzel and some popcorn while we waited for the show to start.

Image

The show itself was amazing. Lights, water, fire, fireworks, and characters all made the show spectacular. I wish I’d have taken more pictures, but the show was mesmerizing and I really didn’t think to take very many!

After Fantasmic, we decided it was time to call it a night and we headed back to the resort. We explored the resort a little and then made our way to our room.

Image

When we got there, our suitcase had been delivered and I unpacked a little more and got Cara’s bed set up. It was a long day of travel but a great way to end 2013.

Magic Kingdom:: Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday morning we rented a little two seater speed boat and took turns going out. Derek and Abby went first and then Derek took Cade. I found out later from Abby that “The lady told Daddy to slow down.” The lady would be lake patrol! haha David, Maddy, Jonah, Grace, Mom and Dad took turns too. We swam and relaxed by the pool and then had a light lunch before heading over to the Magic Kingdom for our last day at Disney World. Derek, the kids, and I met Mom and Dad at Liberty Tree Tavern for a late lunch. The food was very good. After lunch, Mom and Dad went on their own and we headed off to do some souvenir shopping, riding, and character meeting. Abby and I stood in line forever to meet the fairies, but Abby loved it. Silvermist, Tinkerbell, and Rosetta were there. We rode lots of rides after that and had some cold drinks, including one that had orange sherbet with pineapple juice. It was tasty! I made the kids ride Pirates of the Caribbean probably 4 times. It is my favorite. We stayed just long enough that we got stuck in a gift shop, blocked by the parade and made our way to the boat right after the parade finished. We got to watch the fireworks from the boat. It was the perfect ending to the night.

Disney World:: Saturday, June 19, 2010

We met in front of the hotel early in the morning and boarded the bus for the airport. I wanted to sleep on the way there, but the driver just kept talking and talking. We stood in line forever and checked in with the less than helpful desk workers and were separated from the rest of the family, even though we had already selected seats online. Frontier/Midwest was not the best or most accomodating airline. In fact, other than the fact that they didn’t crash, they were not good at all. We landed in Milwaukee, collected our luggage and vehicles, and were on our way home. Mom and Dad rode with us and we stopped at a McDonald’s on the way back to Roscoe. We stopped in at Mom and Dad’s for a rest and then made it the rest of the way home. It was an amazing trip that we will never forget. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Magic Kingdom and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique:: Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another early day…at least for Abby, Grace, Beth and me. We took the girls by bus to Magic Kingdom for what we thought was a 7:50 Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointment. We got there about 7:30 and it was already super hot. Abby was tired and cranky and I wasn’t doing much better. We stood in line and waited. It was 7:50 and they still hadn’t let us in. Beth asked and they still didn’t let us in. By the time it was time to go in, Abby was crying and said she wasn’t going to have her appointment. I didn’t push it and we made it to the castle where the Boutique was at. It wasn’t even open. It opened just after 8, so apparently we weren’t late. Anyway, Abby looked at some pictures in a brochure and then decided that she would do hair and make-up, but not nails. That was fine with me since she had cute Mickey Mouse and polka dot nails from Downstairs on 1st before we left. She ended up with the wild pink hair Pop Star look. It was great. Abby and Grace really had a great time.

After the Boutique, we met everyone at Tony’s Town Square for a Grand Gathering Character Breakfast. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald were there. Cade was starting to warm up to the idea of characters and actually got close enough for a few pictures (while clinging to me for dear life!). Breakfast was good, as usual, and afterward we explored the Magic Kingdom! We spent most of the time in Fantasyland. We stayed together as a group of 11, which was fun. We left early afternoon and went back to the hotel to swim and rest. After dinner, we went back to Magic Kingdom with Mom and stayed for the Electric Parade and the fireworks.

Epcot:: Thursday, June 17, 2010

We felt a little more prepared this time around, so we decided to try Epcot again. The first thing we did when we got there mid-morning was get fast passes for Soarin’. Then we rode the Nemo ride a few times, which Abby loved and Cade usually liked. We went into an activity center and the kids’ made velcro frogs. Then we made our way around the World Showcase. Abby got to meet Belle, Jasmine and Aladdin. We stopped in the United States for lunch. On our way past China, we saw Mulan, but she was getting ready to go on a break, so Abby couldn’t meet her…just look. I snapped a picture of Abby with Mulan in the background and Abby looked so depressed. If you ask her now about Disney World, she’ll tell you that she didn’t get to meet Mulan. Nevermind all the other characters she did meet, just that she did NOT meet Mulan. Anyway, Derek was ready to leave but I really wanted to go on Soarin’. Derek took Cade and headed back to the hotel and Abby and I stayed and went on Soarin’. Even with fast passes, we had to wait in line for quite a while, but it was a great ride. Abby really liked it, too. After the ride, we got caught in a downpour before we could make it to the bus. We waited it out in a gift shop and finally decided to just make a run for it. I carried Abby and we got wet, but we made it. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel.

Hollywood Studios and Hollywood & Vine:: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This was another early start to the day. We got to Hollywood Studios before it opened for an 8:00 reservation at Hollywood & Vine where some of the Playhouse Disney characters were. Again, the food was great. The service could have been better, but the fact that Abby got to dance with Handy Manny made it all worth it. Leo and June from Little Einsteins were there along with JoJo from JoJo’s Circus and Handy Manny. After breakfast, Mom and I took the kids to see Pooh and Piglet while Dad and Derek went to the Toy Story 3 ride to get fast passes. The fast pass return was over 2 hours away, so we went to a Playhouse Disney show and Little Mermaid Show while we waited. The Toy Story ride was really fun. I wish we had gotten a 2nd fast pass before we went on it because I think we were still there when the return time would have been…oh, well. We were getting better at the fast pass thing. We waited in line to meet Buzz and Woody and then Cade fell asleep and we had lunch at Pizza Planet (just like from Toy Story). After lunch the rain started and we luckily had rain ponchos in the bag. It was the first day I had packed them. It was a complete downpour. We made it to the Indiana Jones set and watched some stunts and then were trying to make our way back to the Playhouse Disney when it absolutely poured. We took shelter and waited. When it let up quite a bit, we made it the rest of the way there and watched the show for the second time. Then we saw the Beauty and the Beast show. We got some icecream on the way out and had a great day.

Epcot and Askerhus:: Monday, June 14, 2010

We started the day early and got to Epcot before it even opened for an 8:00 reservation at Askerhus for the Princess breakfast. On our way in, we got a group picture with Belle. The food and service were great. There were tons of princesses. The girls got pictures with Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel, and Cinderella. I think I was horribly unprepared for Epcot and we spent a lot of the day not really knowing what we wanted to do. It didn’t help that we had gotten in late the night before and got up early that morning and were tired. We went on the Nemo ride a few times and a few others, saw some characters, and we left by noon. We spent the rest of the day swimming and resting at the hotel. Still not a bad day, just not as great as some others.

Animal Kingdom:: Sunday, June 13, 2010

It was our first full day at Disney World! Because of the late night and long day of travel on Saturday, we decided to take the morning easy and swim a little before heading to Animal Kingdom. We had dinner reservations there at 6:30, so we knew we would be pretty late again. Looking back now, I wish we had waited until after Cade’s nap to go, but we headed out shortly after noon hoping he would fall asleep on the bus. No such luck. Oh, and did I mention it was HOT! My guess is at least 100 degrees and high humidity. It was awful. I’m not sure if it was trying to get Cade a nap, the heat, or Animal Kingdom itself, but I was not super impressed. After a few hours of sitting around and waiting for others to wait in line for the Kali River Rapids ride, which they didn’t end up riding, Mom, Derek, and I took Abby, Grace, and Cade over to Camp Mickey and Minnie. There are some character spots over there and the kids got to see quite a few characters. It was shaded in some areas and just didn’t seem quite so bad. We spent quite a bit of time there. Other than that, the highlight of the day was the Grand Gathering Safari. We gathered at an open air theater and then walked over to the safari ride. It was pretty neat riding in the open air Jeep through all the wandering animals. After the safari, we went to dinner at Tusker House Restaurant. It had quite a bit of African food, but lots of American food too. It was all really good. Toward the end of dinner, there was some African music and then the kids got to see Rafiki and Timon from the Lion King movie. There was also a blue tongued skink that they could touch. Abby did. Cade didn’t. Then there was chocolate cake and other treats for dessert. The day ended much better than it started out. We had a longer than it should have been bus ride back to the hotel and again, we slept.

Milwaukee Mitchell Airport and Disney World:: Saturday, June 12, 2010

Happy birthday, Dave!

We started the day dark and early. It was 3:45a.m. when we pulled the kids out of bed and got in the van. We drove across town to David’s and they followed us to Milwaukee’s airport. Neither of the kids fell asleep in the car. We waited to check in while Derek and David went to park and then it was your typical security check. Ugh! Last summer I lost my swiss army knife key chain when we went to the Statue of Liberty and Mom got me a new one for Christmas. Well, guess what…yep, I lost it. So bummed. I love that thing. Mom asked, “Do I have to get you one every year for Christmas?” I think my answer was, “Yes.” The next thing I lost was a jar of peanut butter. Apparently I have been missing something about pb. I didn’t know it was a drink. Yes, apparently it is a liquid and therefore larger than the 3.4oz (or whatever) size allowed in a carry on. Huh? I asked the lady if she was serious. I think her answer was, “Yes.” By the time we got to the gate, we didn’t have too long to wait until boarding. We did preboarding with young children only to find out that our seats were not where they were supposed to be when we selected them online. The nice stewardess lady, Pat, from Midwest/Frontier airlines was less than polite to Beth when we were trying to figure out our seats and they demanded that we were going to pull out on time and blah blah blah. Well, after everyone boarded, there was more than 1 announcement to try to get people to leave the plane since the company had overbooked. We sat there for 1 hour…yes, literally an hour while they tried to figure it all out. Abby and Cade both fell asleep on the plane, but not at the same time, so I had to stay awake. Derek was across the aisle in the middle seat, so I was on my own. We arrived in Orlando a little behind schedule, gathered our bags, and made our way to ground transportation, only to find out that Disney ground transportation leaves from somewhere else. We went back in the airport, up to the 3rd floor, across the airport, back down to the first floor, and into a line. Then we found out that we didn’t have a barcode paper for the bus. Why didn’t Disney send it? Into another line for Dad while the rest of us stepped aside (McDonald’s syle). We finally got what we needed, got on the bus, and got on our way. The Wilderness Lodge would be home for the next 7 nights. We got checked in and it was beautiful. Well, the lobby and David’s room were, anyway, since Dad’s and our room weren’t ready yet. Check in wasn’t until 3 and it was only about 1:45 or so, so no big deal. We got a call that Mom and Dad’s room was ready. Then we went down for Magic Cookie hour at Roaring Forks. Magic Cookie=free sugar cookies with a dish of frosting and sprinkles to decorate with. We still didn’t have our room and it was getting close to time to leave for our dinner reservation. We dug through some bags and got what we needed. We left Wilderness around 3:45, took a boat to the Contemporary Hotel, and then the monorail to The Grand Floridian. Our dinner was at 1900 Park Fare. We were joined by Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the ugly step sisters. The step sisters were hilarious. They really played up the part and were entertaining. It was all a bit rushed and I felt like I had to hurry with each character. It wasn’t because of anything they did, but just being our first character meal, I didn’t really know to just slow down and enjoy. It was a little difficult to feel like we could just sit and relax while eating though. It was a lot of up and down and pictures and signing of books, etc.

After dinner, we headed to The Magic Kingdom. It is amazing. Just walking down Main Street with Cinderella’s Castle in front of us…it is magical. Cade was so impressed that he fell asleep. It made it a little difficult to coordinate rides and such. Derek sat out of a few but we just couldn’t see waking him up or trying to hold him while standing in line. After a few rides, Mom, Dad, Derek, the kids and I decided to call it a night. On our way out, Abby just had to have a balloon. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, but when the lady said $15, I almost choked. It was pretty special, though. It had a Mickey Mouse shaped balloon inside a round balloon and it flashed with red, green, and blue lights. We took the boat back to the hotel and slept.