Friday, August 9, 2013

Disney Day 3 {Magic Kingdom ALL DAY LONG}

Our third day of vacation was by far the most awesome!  I say this because we LOVE Magic Kingdom, and we literally spent all day there!  My goal was to be up and at 'em early enough to get to the park before it opened.  Did it happen?  Yes!  It sure did!  We were there about 8:15 or so, and the park opened at 9.  So, when we arrived, we took some pictures outside the park, and waited "patiently" for the opening show.

 Every morning, when the park opens, the train pulls into the station at Magic Kingdom, and the Mayor greets guests.  They sing songs, and some of the characters are on the train, too.!  So, Derrick grabbed a spot, with Natalie, towards the gate, and the boys and I hung out.  They traded pins, I took pictures, chatted with others around me.  Then when the show started, we put Natalie on my shoulders and watched it.  Loved it!  What a GREAT way to start our day!

Once the rope dropped, we were off.  We headed straight to Tomorrowland and hit Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin-we practically walked right on.  Then when we exited, we got FastPasses for it, and went to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway.

The boys were super excited that they were tall enough to ride solo and drive.  But, because of our family dynamics, Derrick rode with Matthew, I rode with Natalie, and Lucas drove himself.  They were beaming!  After this, we headed back to Buzz Lightyear and rode it again.  We finished up Tomorrowland, and then worked our way around the park.  

While Derrick and the boys went to get FastPasses for Peter Pan's Flight, Natalie and I went to the Storybook Circus Meet and Greet.  We saw Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy all in one building, with a maximum of five minutes to wait for each one.  Then, we did the Barnstormer, which Natalie said she didn't want to ride again because it was "scary", and Dumbo.  We also checked out the new Ariel's Grotto ride, which I have to say is super cute.  By this time our FastPass for Peter Pan was ready, so we rode that and saw Mickey's Philharmagic.

It's a Small World was next, and then it was time for lunch.  I REALLY wanted to try the Nutella and Fruit Waffle from Sleepy Hollow, and it was divine!  We grabbed the kids and Derrick some burgers, chicken, etc. at Pecos Bill and enjoyed our lunch.

Then, we hit Adventureland.  The Jungle Cruise-this is the first trip that neither of our boys were chosen to be a guest Skipper-, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Aladdin's Carpets were some of the attractions we hit.  Also, the boys love climbing the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, so of course we did that.  While we were making our way around Adventureland, we noticed that Aladdin and Jasmine were going to be meeting and greeting.

So, we got some ice cream, and waited for them.  Derrick and the boys went to ride Pirates again, while Natalie and I saw Aladdin and Jasmine.  This was so cute.  They were so cute, chatting with her, and calling her a princess the whole time.  Adorable.

By this time, Natalie was ready for a nap, so she huddled up in the stroller and slept.  While she was sleeping, we let the boys do the Pirates Adventure-Journey of the Seven Seas, a few times.  It takes place in Adventureland, and it is a treasure hunt.  You scan your magic talisman, and it tells you which adventure map to take.  Then, you go around, scanning it in various props, gift shops, etc. for clues.  After you are done, you can go back and get another map.  The boys had wanted to do this from the second they saw it, and it kept them entertained for the hot parts of the afternoon.  It was free, and they thoroughly enjoyed the treasure hunting.

We stopped at Pinochhio's Village Haus for some dinner, and then started making our way up to Main Street USA to get a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  We stopped by Prince Charming's Royal Carousel-Natalie's absolute favorite ride of all-and then took some time to pull the sword out of the stone-we still aren't strong enough!  We got our family picture in front of the castle, and went to camp out on Main Street USA for the parade.  Thankfully Natalie was sleeping, because the 90 minutes we spent waiting for the parade-but we had an AWESOME spot-would've been tough if she hadn't napped again.

The boys had popcorn, watched the castle change colors, and the street performers sing, dance, etc. while we waited.  We saw 3 proposals in the time we were waiting for the parade-kinda cool!  Soon, it was 9:00 and time for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  This is one thing our family refuses to miss when we are at Disney.  The music, floats, characters, and just the whole ambiance really are awesome.  I kinda get goosebumps thinking about it!  We had a spot at the corner of Main Street USA, just across from the Confectionary.  We were right at the beginning of the parade, and so that made it even more awesome.  Totally worth the 90 minute wait.  After the parade, we hit the bus stop and made our way back to the Beach Club.

Overall, our day at Magic Kingdom was awesome!  The waits were reasonable, our FastPasses worked well time wise, and we really hit the park to do some great touring.  I was so thankful we were there at park opening-it was for sure a great experience!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Disney Day 2 {Hollywood Studios & EPCOT}

We started the day with an early reservation at Hollywood and Vine.  It was nice, because we could walk to Hollywood Studios from our resort.   This is a restaurant at Hollywood Studios, with a breakfast buffet that features Disney, Jr. characters.  For this meal, we arrived at the park around 8:00, and our reservation was at 8:20.  So, we got in a little early to enjoy the park with no crowds and get some fun pictures.  We didn't wait long after checking in at the restaurant.

It was a super fun place, lots of colors and for sure caters to the younger crowd. Natalie was having fun, and the boys were enjoying themselves, too.  Hollywood Studios is their favorite park, and so they were excited to be there so early, which meant less wait times, a chance to sign up for the Jedi Training Academy, and lots of rides on Star Tours.

We had our breakfast, and some of the characters made their way to our table.  We saw Jake and Handy Manny.  Natalie didn't really care about Oso, and so we left before he made it to our table.  I didn't want to rush through our meal, but I did have a slight agenda.  I REALLY wanted to sign the boys up for the Jedi Training Academy.  They have many shows throughout the day, but if you don't get to the sign ups right away, you won't get a spot.  So, we ate and Derrick stayed behind to pay.  I took the boys to the Jedi Training Academy to sign them up-and we actually got a spot.  Meanwhile, he took Natalie to get some fastpasses for Toy Story Mania.  We got the 2:20 time for the Jedi Training Academy, and 11:30 return times on Toy Story Mania.  Awesome!!!!!

So, we made our way around Hollywood Studios.  The wait for Star Tours was very minimal, so the boys and Derrick rode that.    We hit the first Disney, Jr. Live on Stage Show of the day.  Of course, Natalie was over the moon about it.  Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First made an appearance in the show, and that pretty much made her life worth living.  It was so cute to watch her enjoy the show!  Right next to this is the Animation Academy.  Super cool!!!!!  We had never done this before, and the boys loved it.  Well, sort of.  It was kind of hard for Matthew because he is such a perfectionist with his drawings, and they don't give you an eraser :(.

The Animation Academy allows about 40 people in at a time.  You take a seat at an animation desk, which has a stool, piece of drawing paper, and a pencil at it.  There is an Imagineer at the front, who leads you through, very step by step, directions.  At the end of the 20 minute session, you've drawn a Disney character.  Super cool!  It was pretty fun, and we drew Pluto.

After this, we hit Toy Story Mania, the Backlot Tour, and then got some lunch.  By then, it was time for the Jedi Training Academy.  Woot!  So while I took the boys to get their costumes on, Derrick stayed with Natalie and let her play on the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie set.

They were SO excited.  Since the Jedi Training Academy fills up literally within less than an hour of the park opening, we were very lucky to even get two spots for the 2:20 pm show.  So the boys donned their young padawan robes, and were marched from the prep area across the park to the Jedi Training Stage.  In this show, someone comes out and teaches all the young padawans a light saber routine.  Then, Darth himself comes out so they can test their routine against him.

About 7 or 8 minutes into the show, it started raining.  They called all the kids off the stage, and decided to cancel it.  The boys {and I} were SO bummed.  To make up for it, they lined the youngsters up and led them behind the scenes of Star Tours for a special meet up/photo opportunity with Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers. 

 So, after this we walked our way to the entrance, and the boys and I took the boat back to the resort while Natalie and Derrick walked.  Believe it or not, he beat us back.  But oh well.  The boys wanted to ride the boat.  He put her down for a nap, and the boys and I stopped at Beaches and Cream for an ice cream treat.  Yum!  Hello yumminess!!!!  I had a No Way Jose, and the boys had ice cream, too.  We hung out in our room for awhile, and waited out a little rain.

Since the rain looked like it wasn't going to stop-yet it had let up some-we decided to brave World Showcase again.  I mean, we could walk from country to country, check out the shops, and get some food.  Even though we were all in ponchos, we made the best of it.  The boys had a Norwegian cinnamon roll, I tried some German caramel corn, and we even rode a few rides.  It was fun, despite the rain.  Then, we grabbed some dinner at the Electric Umbrella.  

After we ate, we made our way towards World Showcase Lagoon to catch Illuminations.  We got a decent spot, just where you enter World Showcase from Future World.  That is such a fabulous fireworks and laser show.  The boys LOVE it.  We got out the glow sticks and hung out while watching Illuminations.  

What started as an early day, mixed in with some serious rain, ended up being a GREAT day all around.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Disney 2013 {Day 1-EPCOT}

Our first family EPCOT picture. Obviously, Natalie didn't want her picture taken.  

When we booked our Disney vacation, we bought Park Hopper tickets.  We haven't done this for years....not since our first trip 6 years ago.  That means that we can go from park to park anytime.  Otherwise, with base tickets, you can only visit one park per day.  Since our visit was only 4 days, we went with Park Hoppers so we could get the most out of our time.  Our resort was so close to EPCOT, that we could walk to the International Gateway entrance {which leads to World Showcase} in about 5 minutes.  

Natalie practicing her curtsy before heading to breakfast.  

We had an early morning reservation at Akerhaus, the sit down restaurant in Norway.  We chose Akerhaus so Natalie could see all her princess friends, the boys could get a good breakfast, and we could be in the park before it opened.  We left our room around 7:15, anticipating that we could get in.  Typically, you can get into the park with no problem if you present your reservation number.  Well, since we were at the back entrance, and the park wasn't ready for opening  yet, we had to wait about 35 minutes.  Not fun with two hungry boys, one excited princess, and I was sort of stressed.  I didn't want to be late for our reservation, and I had hoped to have a fairly empty World Showcase in which to take pictures of the kids.  Not so much.  The gates finally opened around 7:55.  We made our way to Norway, and we only waited about 5 minutes before they announced the "Royal Hurst Family" was ready to be seated.  Cool!  

When we walked in, Belle was our "hostess" princess.  She was in an alcove where we could have a photo taken with her, and get Natalie's autograph book signed.  Natalie was so cute interacting with Belle.  She was afraid to hug her, for fear she'd mess her up.  Anyway, we had our photo moment, and then we were seated at our table.  We helped ourselves to the "cold buffet"-bagels, fruit, yogurt, etc., while they took our drink orders and brought the hot plates out.  We had eggs, sausage, potatoes, etc. brought to our table, family style-yet it was all you could eat.  As we were eating, the princesses started making their way around to the tables.  The first one who visited us was Cinderella.  She was nice, but we've interacted with nicer Cinderella's before.  She was sort of in a hurry, but it was really fine.  Natalie was excited to see her nonetheless.  

Next was Princess Aurora {aka Sleeping Beauty}.  She is Natalie's absolute favorite, mainly because she wears a pink dress :).  She oohed and aahed over Natalie's beautiful dress, addressed the boys as princes, and Derrick as "sire".  Fun!  I had brought along Natalie's Little Golden Books for the princesses to sign.  It was so cute!  Now she has autographed princess books!  

Snow White visited us, and she was so cute too!  Natalie's dress had glitter on it-which smudges off easily-and Snow White mentioned that it looked as if she had been playing in the mines with the dwarves and that she had pixie dust on her dress now, too.  Natalie just kept staring at Snow-rightly so, because she was so heavily made up and looked so much like Snow White it wasn't even funny.  

Along came Ariel, who had the cutest and most playful personality.  She giggled with Natalie, and had big hugs for her.  Right as Ariel was finishing her photos and autographs with us, it was time for the Princess Parade.  Basically, the princesses line up the little princesses and they parade through the restaurant.  Natalie followed right behind Ariel with the rest of the little girls. So cute!

After breakfast, we made our way out to the park.  It had JUST opened, so we headed straight for Test Track-it had been refurbished and was closed last year when were there.  The boys were SO looking forward to riding it.  You design your own car, and take it for a "test" drive.  Then, you board a race car-similar to one you'd ride on a go cart/speed track-and test it.  It goes through series of stops and gos, and then it opens up to an outdoor track, and your car goes VERY fast.  It is really super fun.  It's one of our favorite rides at Disney.  

Matthew and Lucas were so proud of their car!  

So, we got Fastpasses, Rider Switch passes, and stood in the standby line.  Derrick and the boys rode standby, while Natalie and I went to The Land.  We rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Imagination with Figment, and then it was time to meet the boys and Derrick.  We swapped kids, and I rode FastPass line with the boys while Derrick took Natalie into a few shops and to ride Living with the Land and Figment again.  We made our way up to the front of the park to ride Spaceship Earth.  That's always a fun one, and everyone in our family loves it.
Matthew and Natalie

Matthew, Natalie, and Lucas
We visited Club Cool, and tried Cokes from around the world.  Some of them are pretty good, but others are nasty.  The kids ran through the water sprayers a bit, and then we made our way to Soarin' to use our RiderSwitch passes.  Lucas refused to ride, so Matthew and I rode while Derrick waited with the other two.  After all this, we made our way back to the resort for some lunch and some quiet time.  We hung out for a few hours, to wait the rain out.  

Matthew, Derrick, and I

We took the monorail over to EPCOT, and when we arrived it was pouring down rain.  We donned our ponchos, and made our way to Innoventions.  These buildings have some cool, experimental things in them-sort of like COSI.  The boys LOVE playing in here, and there were a few things Natalie enjoyed too.  While the boys explored the making of video games {shocker}, I took Natalie through the Great Piggy Bank Adventure. 

 I'm not 100% sure she learned anything about saving money, but it was fun and kept us out of the rain.  Since it was still raining, we made our way back to the resort and got some pizzas.  We watched movies until we fell asleep!  Overall, it was a great day, despite the rain.