13 April 2014

Trip Report: Disney World 2014 {Part 3}

Day 5

Today we are up early again to be at Animal Kingdom for their Extra Magic Hour on a beautiful morning. We stop for a minute to get a quick pic with Ariel statue outside our resort!

Ready for Animal Kingdom

This is our first bus ride of the trip, and Bella videos the whole thing on her new little digital camera--the scenic highways of Walt Disney World. The girl knows how to use some gigabytes, that's for sure!

We mosey in to Animal Kingdom and first business to take care of is a little pin trading. Then we sign up to be Wilderness Explorers (new to us!), and get in line for Mickey and Minnie.

Us + Mickey and Minnie!

Aren't they so cute in their safari gear? Look at their cute little (big) socks and shoes! This has to be my favorite Minnie/Mickey meet and greet. (and we even saw TALKING Magician Mickey! More on that later). Mickey even found himself on Bella's pin lanyard!


Being Wilderness Explorers, we do some exploring around the Tree of Life and earn a "badge" (sticker). Girls are very excited by this and immediately want to collect all 31 more. But Mama's got a touring plan, so sorry girls!

(Just kidding, we get lots of badges today!)

We head to the Tree to watch "It's Tough to be a Bug," which I knew would fail Mimi's screening process so I may have lied a teensy little bit. (Bad Mama). She likes it! Until there are bees attacking and then she really doesn't!

Here's Bella in line for Baloo and King Louis.

Bella at Animal Kingdom

King Louis the ape (ironically) has no opposable thumbs so can't sign autographs. He just makes you laugh the whole time that Baloo is laboriously doing all the paperwork. (Mimi, not pictured, wanted nothing to do with an 8 foot bear)

Baloo and Louis

Next we are bouncing along on a safari! I love this part of Animal Kingdom! We see a baby giraffe and spot a hidden Mickey island in the flamingo pool.


We get the doom and gloom tour guide.

Guide: "Look to your left out the vehicle to see a (fill in the blank) animal."
Us: "Ooooh!"
Guide: "You'll never see that animal again."

The rest of the day we make jokes about extinction. Hi-larious.

After our safari, we are a little ahead of schedule so we enjoy the scenery as we walk over to Yak and Yeti for our lunch reservation.

Yak and Yeti

What a good idea that lunch was! We all enjoy our meals. Just look at Brent's drink. Holey moley!

Yak and Yeti

After lunch, we earn several more of our explorer badges. We get our Yeti tracking badge while Brent does single rider for Expedition Everest.

Expedition Everest

Our next stop is one of our favorites! Finding Nemo the Musical! Singing, dancing, puppets, bubbles. I LOVE THIS SHOW. It is the reason we go to this park.

Finding Nemo

Here's the view from our Fast Pass seats. Not great if you ask me.

When it's over, Mimi asks to do it again!

But instead we all agree that it's time to head back to our room for a little down time. I think we are still tired from running to Norway the day before! Ha!

On the way out, Bella is almost run over by a stroller. Probably her fault, I don't remember exactly, she is usually walking backwards or twirling or adjusting her pins while twirling and walking backwards. She makes up this safety jingle and sings it the rest of the trip. It makes me crack up.

We get back and rest, with the Pringles and the toys and the big soft beds, it's lovely.

Happy Hour!

Then it is suddenly just POURING outside, buckets and buckets, and our plan to swim in the afternoon is washed out. So Brent and Bella read books in the room while Mimi and I set off exploring inside the hotel.

We eventually all get squirrelly and hungry and decide to bundle up and brave Epcot for dinner. Epcot in the rain was lovely and just crowded enough to be festive. The girls do two Agent P adventures, and the last one finishes in France near the Boulangerie, so we decide to have dinner there. We discover the best meal of our trip: Pumpkin Soup in a Bread Bowl! And I'm not talking like a mass produced cafeteria bread bowl. This is like a full on French artisan bread masterpiece, and they could put any swill in there and it would taste delicious, but no, they put in delightful smooth creamy pumpkin soup, and Bella and I are in heaven. I forget what Mimi and Brent ate, to be honest, I was face down in the bread bowl.

Let me just recap for you. We are in France. It is drizzling. We are eating nice hot pumpkin soup out of a crusty chewy French bread bowl.

It is MAGICAL!!!!! I could have written poetry if I hadn't been so busy stuffing soup in my face.

Oh and we polish it off with a chocolate croissant. Then we are sleepy and stroll back to our room, just a hop skip and jump away. We are the luckiest family ever.

Day 6

I'm going to be honest with you. All I wanted to do when I woke up this morning was eat more pumpkin soup. It is 50 degrees and rainy. Boo.

But we have places to be! Kingdoms to visit!

Magic Kingdom

We are at Magic Kingdom at rope drop for the Extra Magic Hour. Waiting for the tap stiles to open Brent and I have a confusing conversation where I am telling him that I will take Mimi on the carousel while he and Bella run to Peter Pan.

Brent: "The Carousel?! That takes like 20 minutes!"
Me: "What? That's crazy. It doesn't take 20 minutes!"
Brent: "With the music! and the turning! We don't have time for that!!"

I eventually figure out the source of confusion (Carousel vs. Carousel of Progress) and we straighten it out. But how hilarious must that conversation have been to overhear. With the MUSIC! and the TURNING!

Rainy day at Magic Kingdom

See, there is music and turning, but it's over in like 90 seconds!


We blast through rides like crazy--Peter Pan, Tea Cups, It's a Small World, Little Mermaid. All before 9:30 am.

Tea Cups

We head to the Tomorrowland Speedway.

Who's driving?!

Wait, who's driving this car?

Mimi's driving!

It's Mimi!

Bella is a significantly worse driver.

By 10:30 we are already hungry so we relax and eat our back pack lunch. Then we head to our Fast Pass for Enchanted Tales with Belle!

Enchanted Tales with Belle

Guess who gets picked to be the Beast!!!????

The Beast!

She is none too thrilled with being cast in a boy role. But you just wait.

Mimi is picked to be Chip because she is an excellent hopper. We already knew that but it's nice when professionals recognize talent. Here she is hopping for Belle.

Mimi as Chip the teacup

And see? the Beast is the best part because you get to dance with Belle!!

Beauty and the Bella

OMG. It was fantastic. The girls are SO CUTE.

After Belle, we ride Pooh and see Philharmagic. We bribe the girls with ice cream to ride Haunted Mansion with us. I'm not sure what came over us! We just really wanted to ride it. In the doom buggy with Mimi, she says "I don't know if I can make it but I'm going to try!" Awww my brave little Mimi!

It is early afternoon and we are feeling a little peckish so we stop for some Mickey waffles at Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow Waffles

But what's this? Those are ROUND waffles!!
I am not impressed.

We watch the Dreams Come True show at the castle, then go shopping on main street. Bella picks out a stuffed animal. I express my doubts about fitting the girls souvenirs in our suitcases. Mimi says, "I know! We can leave behind all your little shampoos!!"

For your information, those little toiletries are included in the price of the room and I am entitled to hoard them in a bag in the closet. Harumph.

We run into this awesome street artist, who is drawing all the characters with water! He laughs when Mimi shouts "It's Donald!" as he adds the final line to his hat.

Street Art in Magic Kingdom

We decide to try playing the Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom game. This is a card game that leads you on quests around Magic Kingdom. Sounds right up our alley!

But we can't face any villains with Daddy not looking his best! Time for a quick haircut.

Magic Kingdom Barber Shop

I texted this picture to my mom and she thought he was wearing a straight jacket.

Bella gets some pixie dust in her hair for waiting nicely. And Bambi gets some too!

Magic Kingdom Barber Shop

We have so much fun adventuring around Main Street on our Sorcerer's quests!

We stop for a few minutes and get silhouettes made of the girls. This is one of my best ideas ever! It is a wonderful souvenir. I have them on the mantle now.

Getting her Silhouette

Mimi Silhouette

Bella Silhouette

We ride Carousel of Progress (with the music! And the turning!), and Buzz Lightyear, and we call it a day.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

We head home via Epcot where Mimi zonks in the stroller, so Bella and I hit Spaceship Earth and Maelstrom with short lines. I am wanting soup in a bread bowl, but we have dinner in Morocco for variety. Variety is highly overrated.

I do laundry after we are back. The laundry room is crowded but no one is using the one HE washer in the corner. ?? I stuff everything in and voila! Easy peasy.

Coming up, Part 4: in which I talk more about soup in a bread bowl and somebody turns 5!!!

06 April 2014

Trip Report: Disney World 2014 {Part 2}

Day 3.

Our second morning we enjoy another lovely breakfast on our wee patio. Lucky charms and yogurts, OJ, milk, coffee.



We head across the Boardwalk and onto the path to Hollywood Studios. We are so excited we can walk there! SO COOL! (or run, if you have ridiculous amounts of excess energy, like these two crazy ones)

Running to Hollywood Studios

Today we follow my carefully crafted touring plan. We start with the show at Disney Jr., still a favorite with our crew. Then we went on the Great Movie ride, which the girls hadn't ridden before. Bella was very entertained. Mimi, not so much. After this ride, Mimi implements a rigorous screening process for all future rides for the rest of the trip. See diagram below.

Disney Ride Screening

After Great Move ride--with the darkness, shooting, fire, and aliens--we head straight to the 50s Prime Time Cafe for our lunch reservation. I have specifically made this reservation for one reason. POT. ROAST.

1950's Prime Time Cafe

After we are seated a waitress puts a ViewMaster on the table for the girls. Mimi discovers all the pictures are of desserts.

50s Prime Time Cafe

OMG Bella you've got to see this!!

50s Prime Time Cafe

Bella and I split the adult pot roast dinner. With an ah-maz-ing red velvet cake milkshake to supplement. Look at our little pot roast girl, in heaven! She eats the whole adult portion. I pretty much have milkshake and mashed potatoes for lunch and I am not complaining.

50s Prime Time Cafe, Potroast

The girls liked the way the waitresses treat you like they're your mom. They remind you to wash your hands and elbows off the table. They loved it when the waitress bumped a high chair into Brent on purpose and said, "Oh Sorry DAD!" Not sure why this was so funny but the girls just fell over laughing.

We are just wrapping up lunch, when the waitress stops by and says the table next to us has bought the girls dessert, because they had never seen such well behaved kids and enjoyed them so much! But they have already left and the waitress is sworn to secrecy so we can't thank them. Well how do you like that spreading of Disney magic!

50s Prime Time Cafe

We zip over to see the Little Mermaid Show, where we meet a lovely family in line and the 40 minute wait passes in no time. Then the Indiana Jones--or Indiana Anderson, as Bella calls it for some reason--stunt spectacular. On our walk back to see the Muppet movie, we see Sophia the First with a long line. Mimi plows right into it. "NOPE I do not mind waiting!" she says. So excited! We play at Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area until it's time for the Lights Motors Action show. We had great seats and loved it. And now it is finally time for our Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania (4:15). We all love that ride. I beg and the family agrees to walk through One Man's Dream, the museum about Walt Disney. Look what Bella finds right away!

La Bella Durmiente

We then grab some pop corn and head over to get seats for the 7pm Fantasmic. Brent and I spend the whole walk discussing why it ends in -asmic. I have my theories, he has his.

Anyway, that show is not asmic at all. But it is something to see, and the girls enjoy most of it. It is a little scary for Mimi and she considers adding shows into her ride screening process. Also, we get wet, which I wasn't expecting at all. It made for a long day, so for that reason, I would probably skip it next time.

On the walk back to the Beach Club, we stop and order a Cat Cora pizza on the Boardwalk. We leave Brent behind to wait for it (and to get us margaritas and wine). As the girls and I are strollering back to our room, Mimi is telling us she is very sad we haven't seen Anna and Elsa yet. "We can see them tomorrow!" I say. She reaches her little hand up over the stroller canopy, pudgy pinky sticking out: "Pinky Pwomise?"

"Pinky Promise!" I say confidently. I am master of lines, how hard can Anna and Elsa be?

Oh lord.

Oh LORDY lord lord.

Later in bed, I search on my phone to make sure I have the time and locations right for Anna and Elsa. What I find is horrifying. Four, five, SEVEN hour waits are the NORM for these guys. The recommended strategy is to be first in the gates and run like heck.

Ummmm WHAT?!

That is not what I'm expecting at all. I am up late devising a plan and then don't sleep well at all fretting about it.

Day 4.

I am up early and wake my adventurous little Bella. We are on a mission. We strut out of the hotel like astronauts in the Right Stuff. I'VE GOT THIS.

It's an Extra Magic Morning at Epcot, so we are at the International Gateway by 7:15 am for the 8am open. We are third in line at the tap stiles. So far so good. Just stay calm. Focus.

They open at 8am and BANG! we're off RUNNING to Norway. I have made several miscalculations regarding my ability to run with a crossbody purse and sandals. Damn you super cute accessories! By the time we come around by Future World, I am struggling. But I see other runners sprinting to Norway, so I turn on the gas. I chant in my head over and over the mantra PINKY PROMISE PINKY PROMISE. I can't let her down, I can't stop running. Cast members cheer us on like marathon runners, "Almost there! Looking strong!" Which is surreal since Disney doesn't allow running.

Meanwhile, Bella is running beside me and chatting about school and friends and then we are going by Mexico and I am about to DIE EL MUERTE and she starts TWIRLING while running. TWIRLING. (Since this fateful run, I have started a Couch to 5K program, which Bella calls my Couch to Norway program.)

We get to Norway at 8:05 and are 4th in line. I can't stop laughing. I am euphoric. My pinky promise is kept. I am high fiving strangers all around me. We made it! We ran super fast! We didn't keel over in Mexico! YES!

In line for Anna and Elsa

Brent and Mimi stroller up shortly after and we all eat breakfast out of snacks I have packed in my beautiful non-running friendly purse. I braid Bella's hair in line. By 9am the line is moving.

Anna and Elsa

We are excited! Books out!

Anna and Elsa


Anna and Elsa

This picture is framed in our dining room. THE MONEY SHOT.

Anna and Elsa

Every family wants a picture. A badge of honor. We Survived Anna and Elsa.

Anna and Elsa

We leave by 9:20am and depart Norway, on our way out we ask and the line is an estimated 5 hours long. FIVE HOURS. If I'm going to stand in line for five hours, I want there to be massages and red velvet cake milkshakes at the end of it.

We head to Test Track, one of Bella's favorites. Test Track fails Mimi's screening process so she enjoys watching the Jammitors instead. Here is Bella's car design.

Bella's Test Track Design

And here is Bella closing her eyes during a scary part. CUTE!

Test Track

We ride The Seas with Nemo, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Spaceship Earth.
Then, look! Our cousins are here!


We meet up with them in Mexico after getting a text from Uncle Mick that they were in line for 4.5 hours for Elsa and Anna and are now ready for lunch. I feel bad they didn't cut with us, it never occurred to me they were in that huge line at 9am.


We have margaritas and nice long lunch and then say good bye temporarily. They have Fast Passes to go to, and we need a nap. We have learned the hard way that a nap is important before a sit-down dinner reservation.

Beach Club

So nice that we can walk to our room from Epcot! We spend over an hour "resting" during which the girls don't rest.

Sleeping Beauty

Dim lights, soft music, comfy bed: No sleeping.
Stroller, blazing sun, Japanese drums: Sleeping.

Japanese Drums

These drums are SO loud, we are just laughing that Mimi fell asleep listening to them. Then as we head to Germany for dinner, we run into the Fife and Drum Corps. Surely that will wake her! NOPE.

Fife and Drum

For the rest of the trip, our code for "Mimi needs a nap" is "We need some Japanese drums over here!"

Here is Bella, standing in Italy near where that same hat blew into the lagoon last year. (A team of cast members ended up retrieving it with comically huge tongs) Tonight we are staying well away from the water!


We arrive at Biergarten for our dinner reservation with our extended family!



Sleepy Mimi

We have a wonderful wonderful time, enjoy the buffet, drink beer, love our German waitress, love the German band, and linger to avoid having to leave!

Panorama of Biergarten, click to enlarge!





Cass and Bella loved dancing.


After dinner, the girls together do a quick Agent P adventure in Japan. Mimi is tired and cries because she is afraid the giant robots in the game are real. Daddy carries her. We stake out a good spot for Illuminations near the Rose and Crown. The four girls pin trade with each other while they wait, so cute.

Then we say good night to our cousins! We are back to our room and tucked into bed by 9:40 pm.

What a big day!

Coming up, Part 3--in which Bella writes a new safety jingle and we discover pumpkin soup in a bread bowl!

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