Friday, October 10, 2014

Disney Vacation 2014

Last month we headed out (on Ansley Kate's birthday!) to Disney World! The kids had no idea we were going, and we got up early on September 1st (we left about 4:30 in the morning), Eric and I put them in the van, and thankfully they all went back to sleep and slept until about 9:00 or so. We thought it was funny that as each kid woke up, not one of them even asked where we were going or what we were doing, like it was normal for them to wake up and for us to just be driving down the interstate. We stopped by a rest stop for a bathroom break and to change them out of their jammies, and that is when we told them where we were headed!
We stopped for brunch and then thankfully it didn't seem like too many hours later we arrived! We got checked into our hotel, the Disney All-Star Music Resort. We let Ansley Kate open her present since it was her birthday, and then we headed down to Downtown Disney. We spent forever in the Disney World store, Lego Store, and walking around, and then we went to Wolfgang Puck Express to eat dinner (since it was on our free dining plan). The food was delicious and then we got back on the bus to head back to our room and get ready for our next day.
Downtown Disney

On September 2nd we were off to Magic Kingdom! 
We had fast passes this day to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel, meet Ariel and to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I got several of our fast passes to meet the princesses since Jackson wasn't nearly as excited to meet them, and that a way we wouldn't have to wait in a long line to do something that he wasn't super excited about. He didn't mind at all meeting them though since we didn't even have to wait 5 minutes! Plus, we got all of our fast passes for early in the day so we could continue to go back and get one more for the remainder of each day. Jackson and Ansley LOVED the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and even though Elsie was tall enough to ride, she just wasn't quite ready yet (and now says she can't wait to go back to ride it).  

We also got to meet Merida and we went to Belle's Enchanted Tales on our first day. Jackson was chosen to play the part of The Beast, Ansley was Felipe the horse, and Elsie was the Pepper Shaker. This was probably one of my most favorite parts of the trip, and I definitely got all teary eyed when Jackson was dancing with Belle!  

Ansley and Belle
Elsie and Belle

We rode some more rides and then had dining reservations (which we had already ordered our food online before we left and it was included with our quick service free dining- can you tell how much I love their free dining special!!) at the Be Our Guest Restaurant. We tried the grey stuff- and it was delicious! 
The Goofy ride, The Barnstormer, was Elsie's first roller coaster. She is a bit timid to get on new rides, but she absolutely loved this one. Here is a video of her very first ride on a "roller coaster."

We spent the rest of the day riding rides, watching shows, and a quick little nap for the little girls.

We finished the day by watching the Main Street Electrical Parade and then going and eating some supper at Casey's Corner (along with a little cotton candy at 11:00 at night!). By the time we finished eating, the streets of Magic Kingdom, as you can see, were pretty empty, and then we got back on our bus to go back to our room.
On Wednesday, September 2nd we went to Animal Kingdom.
This is the first time that we've ever been to this park, but we all really enjoyed our time there. Our fast passes that we had reserved before our trip was to meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost, to ride Expedition Everest, and to go on Kilimanjaro Safari.  Right when we got there Eric, Jackson, Ansley and Elsie walked right onto Kali River Rapids, and then Jackson and Ansley loved it so much that I went with them and we rode it again before our fast pass to meet Mickey and Minnie. Jackson and Ansley told everyone on the boat that whoever got the wettest was the winner, and Jackson easily won that ride- he was soaked! Even though Vada Belle was too little to ride, she thought it was hilarious to stand and watch the people ride and push a button that would squirt water out of an elephant statue and get the riders wet. 

Jackson wasn't such a huge fan of Expedition Everest, but we did the parent swap since Elsie and Vada Belle were still too short to ride, and Ansley was quick to jump at the chance to go ride it a second time. We then headed over to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, and the kids loved seeing all of the animals.
We then met some more characters, including Baloo and Louie, and then we went over to Rafiki's Planet Watch where we got to meet Rafiki and Chip & Dale. Ansley really wanted to meet Pocahontas, so I waited in line with her and Vada Belle (with a sleeping Elsie in the stroller) while Eric and Jackson went over to play in The Boneyard.
We rode all of the rest of the rides there, watched Finding Nemo- the musical, and enjoyed some time walking through and observing all the animals around the park.
We had fast passes to see the last showing of the day of Festival of the Lion King (which was probably my favorite part of the day). From the second Timon came out, we were sitting right near him, and Elsie was waving at him non-stop. They were excited when he came over to give them hugs and then they even got to dance with him later on in the show.
Animal Kingdom closed much earlier than the other parks, so we were out of there by 6:00. We decided that we would take the bus back down to Down town Disney to eat supper and enjoy watching some of the shows and walking around the shops for a bit. We were planning to get the kids a little earlier than the 11:30-12:30 that they had been going, but we weren't nearly as successful with that like we thought we would be. 

On Thursday, September 4th, we went back to Magic Kingdom. 

We usually like to do Magic Kingdom on our first and last days, but on our last day at the parks (Friday), there was a special event happening at Magic Kingdom and the park was closing early that day, so we decided we would go on Thursday so we could stay there until much later. Our fast passes we had reserved were Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Meeting Elsa and Anna, and then we also got some later in the day to ride Buzz Lightyear and to meet Tinker Bell. When we first got to the park we rode a couple of rides and then when we walked by the building of Pete's Silly Sideshow, the meet and greet times for Donald Duck, Goofy, Daisy and Minnie Mouse were 5 minutes, so we decided to go ahead and meet them.
We went and rode lots of rides, and even rode Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain several times. Jackson and Ansley were obsessed with the Mine Train ride, and couldn't get enough of it.  
We were also able to watch the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, which is new from when we went last year, and it was beyond incredible. The floats, the characters, the props- all so amazing! The kids get between $20-$30 to spend (from grandparents and aunts) while they are at Disney, and that is all that they can spend. Jackson looked and looked, and had found a hat that he wanted to buy. During the parade, the Mad Hatter came up to him and was complementing him on his hat, which made Jackson even more excited that that is what he spent some of his money on. 

We then enjoyed some more shows, rode some rides, and met some more characters including Princess Jasmine and Tinker Bell. Last year when we went, one of our favorite characters we met was Aladdin, and Jackson was so bummed that he wasn't with Jasmine... so bummed that he didn't even want to meet Jasmine. (I think he had enough of meeting Princesses by this point!). 

We also spent some time dancing along with some characters at Club 626. Vada Belle had a blast and didn't want to leave from there!

We also had our fast pass to go and do what Elsie had been waiting for the entire trip- to go meet Anna and Elsa! When Elsie first met Elsa, she just kept sweeping her little cape around so she could be just like Elsa. They all loved meeting and talking with them.
One of the Cast Members at the park had recommended that we go meet Talking Mickey. She tried to hep us get a fast pass, but they were already out of them by that time in the day. We decided that we would go right before the Electrical Parade started (since we had already seen it this trip we didn't mind missing part of it), and thankfully this was a great time to go because we barely had to wait to meet him. He talked and talked with the kids and Jackson was so excited to show off his new hat that had Mickey on it, to him!
We got to catch the end of the Electrical Parade, and then we rode another ride or two before we went and ate (a really late) dinner while watching the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. By the time we were headed back to the buses, it was very late, and all three girls were out in the strollers. Once we got on the very crowded bus, Jackson decided that since there were no seats left for him, that he would just curl up in the floor and follow along with the girls plan. It was quite a challenge getting the four of them, the strollers and our bags back to our room that night.
On Friday, September 5th, we went to our last park of this trip, to Hollywood Studios. As soon as we walked in we walked right up on Stitch, which is one of Jackson's favorite characters right now, and Pluto. We then walked over to the Disney Jr. section where we got to meet Sofia the First and Jake. 
We then had fast passes for Toy Story Mania and decided to go ahead and meet Buzz and Woody while we were over in that section. The kids always enjoy all of the fun photo ops while waiting to meet the characters.
We ran over after meeting Buzz and Woody to see the Inaugural Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome Parade, and then we had fast passes to see "For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration," so we ran to see that. We then went to lunch at Pizza Planet where the kids were most excited about the Olaf cupcakes.
Meeting Mike and Sulley and hanging out and playing or a while in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground was next on our list of things to do:
We then spent the rest of the afternoon using our fast passes for Disney Jr. Live on Stage, Star Tours ride, and watching the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. We also got to catch Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Voyage of The Little Mermaid, and riding even more rides. 
It started pouring the rain by late afternoon, so we went and walked around inside at the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, which Jackson read and pretty much had everything memorized by the time we left there. It was still raining pretty hard so we decided we would go over to The Magic of Disney Animation and meet Mickey (again for the third time this trip). Vada Belle finally started to warm up by this point to the characters, which was lovely since it wasn't long before the park closed and it was our last day in the parks!
Eric and I then had fast passes to ride the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and since the kids were still too small to ride, we just took turns riding while the other stayed out with the kids, but we both LOVED the ride. I can't wait until we get to go back and some of the kids get to ride with us! 
It was then time for us to go watch our favorite nighttime show- Fantasmic! Unfortunately though, it poured and poured the rain and they eventually had to cancel the show before it even got started. We were prepared to sit through the rain, though!

About right at the time they came across the speakers saying that Fantasmic! had been cancelled, the rain of course stopped. The good news was that they were still able to do the Frozen Fireworks Spectacular, which the kids all loved except for Vada Belle, who was terrified of the fireworks all week long (she is just terrified in general of super loud noises). The park was then closed so we headed back to our room.
The next day we were headed home, but before we could leave we had to repair the flat tire that our van had. Unfortunately the tire was beyond an easy repair, so we had to get a new tire. Disney's security had already called our room the day before to let us know that we had a flat, and they left information on how they could help get our van to a place to repair the tire. While Eric was dealing with that all morning, I decided to go swim with the kids and let them really wear themselves out before the long drive home.

 We still had several meals left on our free dining plan, so we decided that when we made our last stop of the trip to Down town Disney to let the girls spend their money from grandparents, we would grab some sandwiches and snacks from there to eat on our ride home. The kids watched some movies and did take some naps, but were great for the long trip home.
Until next time Disney World.....

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