Saturday, December 31, 2016

Florida Vacation Day 6 - Epcot and Animal Kingdom

Thought I'd snap a picture of Troy's special pancake to start the day. Mike made quite the creation for him! Are there any pancakes under there!? Haha. Another up at 6:15, breakfast at 7, shuttle at 8 kind of day.

The mission of the morning was to be at Epcot as soon as it opened so Cass and I could make a mad dash for Norway, AKA all things Frozen to get as much in (no FastPasses) before the lines got long. I *knew* we needed to see them up close so we chose the character experience first. The wait was already near a half hour by the time we got there.

OH SO WORTH IT THOUGH! Anna and Elsa are Cassidy's favorites :)

Again, the princesses impressed me with the conversations they carried on "in character". Elsa looked at Cassidy and said, "Have YOU been sneaking into my sister's closet!? You look just like my sister in that dress!"

Alas, by the time we got out, the line for Frozen Ever After was over an hour, so we went off to meet up with our boys for Soarin', after snapping a quick pic together in Norway that is!

While we were in "Norway", the boys rode "Test Track". Which seemed to get a big thumbs up from both of them!

Can't see Troy but I heard the racecar got up to 65 mph. Zoom!

No pics from Soarin', but WOW! Was it incredible. I loved hearing the kids gasp and cheer and Mike and I were impressed too. Incredible! I'll share a video from the internets here to give you an idea :) Doesn't come close to doing it justice, though! 

We decided to do the Nemo ride before leaving Epcot for the day to "hop" to our next park. The aquarium you can walk around after the ride would have been enough to keep us busy for hours on its own!

We had our first "hop" over to Animal Kingdom. Some people will take cabs from one to the other, or I guess now you can pay for a behind the scenes shuttle that will take you from park to park and allow you to skip security in the second park. But, really, Disney makes the regular ol' free resort transportation so easy and accessible that it was a nice 20 minute break for us and we were in the second park shortly. 

When I asked Troy months ago a few questions about what he liked the most or wanted to see the most, animals made it to the top of the list. You would *think* we would have seen a lot at Animal Kingdom. Sort of, yes. But not really. Don't go expecting a zoo, friends. But DO go for the billion other things they have!

We headed into the African village area for lunch andddddd in the midst of all the noise and craziness this happened. She almost missed all of lunch.

We got to go see the Lion King together as a fam thanks to a quick lunch and later FastPasses for the boys. I was SO glad the boys were with us as I hadn't originally planned on them coming to this. But, clearly, Troy loved it.

I have no idea what Lion King is like on Broadway, but it must be just like this. Truly amazing. And Troy and I had great seats! While Mike and Cass were a bit further back.

Then we headed over to DinoLand. The boys rode "Dinosaur", as I decided to pull Cass and I from the FastPass kind of last minute. I'm really glad I did because I saw not one but two terrified children exit the ride bawling while we waited for them to come out. My boys loved it though!

Immediately after exiting Dinosaur, Troy saw another ride he wanted to ride that we weren't planning on doing. I hadn't made any FastPass arrangements for the 48 inch and up rides because I really wasn't sure if Troy would be making it by the time we got there or not. All 48.5 inches of him DID make the cut though, so he was able to hop on pretty much any ride in any of the parks. And, of course, he did.

So we went and found a princess, LOL.

And some ice cream! 

Across the park, the boys had the same idea as this pic showed up while we were enjoying ours :) 

Animal Kingdom was FULL of loud and crazy street "parties" at every turn. Like this DJ "bus" with Donald and Pluto pumping it up to keep the kids energy high. And seriously, these "parties" were EVERYWHERE at Animal Kingdom. Mike says they're there to distract you from realizing there are no animals, anywhere LOL. 

Mike and Troy were planned to go on Expedition Everest but I asked last minute if I could ride with Troy. I was curious to see how he was on some of these bigger rides! 

Video from someone else on the internet below. Insert comment from Beema saying "I can't believe he rode such big rides!!!"

To close out our day, we had our chance to "see" the animals up close on the Kiliminjaro Safari. I'm quite certain this is much cooler when its daytime and you can see them all. We did see a lot of them, but they definitely didn't photograph well. Some of them came QUITE close to the vehicle. And the driver said we weren't going to spend long in the gator area as they were lingering just below our vehicle. Below, a very dark giraffe in the distance. When we went through the lion area, they were perched on the top of their mountain watching the fireworks from another Disney park. The driver said he had never seen that before!

Florida Vacation Day 5 - Pool and Disney Springs

Common theme to how these mornings began? Special pancakes! Though today was a scheduled "down day", as I put a day off between each of our park days. So breakfast in PJs it was with no shuttle to catch.

After a leisurely meal, we walked around the resort (and the neighboring Waldorf resort, too). Christmas, Christmas, everywhere.

We found a butterfly and put the wand to good use since we weren't sure if we should touch him or not.

The chairs next to the big tree at the pool said "smile". How could you not!? Florida at Christmastime!

We did want to let it warm up for a bit before we headed out so early nap for Cass, chill time in the room and a hotel room lunch with our grocery store goodies before it was finally warm enough! Troy was eager to try out the water slide (over and over and over).

We introduced Cass to the magic of the lazy river :)

She was comfortable lounging around on her own quickly!

The boys looked like mirror images of each other. Plus some goggles and minus some tattoos, though :)

Cass was really good at hanging out on the side of the pool, so if she wasn't in a tube, that's usually where we saw her!

Then, because there are no rules in Disney LOL, we headed to Disney Springs for some pre-dinner dessert and to walk around for a bit. Yay for a family photo shot!

And for watching STUFF, like this hot air balloon.

A little gelato for everyone before more walking around....

Andddd the only needed clothing change the ENTIRE trip when I didn't have my backpack with me because "it would just be a couple quick hours". Psssssh. You should know by now Amy. You've been at this mom thing long enough. ALWAYS take the backpack. Little Mis-Matched boutique store to the rescue (sigh). 

Troy's smile here. Love it :)

While we were waiting for our shuttle back to the hotel, we made new friends (a common theme the whole trip as everyone is SO friendly and chatty) and Troy and this new friend Liam asked if they could sit together on the shuttle back to the hotel. Overheard in their conversation:
"Hey, can you spell zoo?"

"What's your mom's phone number? Mine is _______"

Too funny :) Upon our return, we visited one of the hotel restaurants for a meal and turned in for the night. Another successful day in the books!

Florida Vacation Day 4 - Magic Kingdom!

The time had come for our FIRST trip into the Disney parks! Thanks to my wise Disney"coach" Stacie and the advice of many other friends, I had a good plan in place for the day. Up at 6:15, breakfast  by 7, shuttle at 8. We weren't there for park opening but we were there earlier that we were able to walk right on things while the crowds were still low (on what is one of the busiest weeks of the whole year).

Since we were not staying on site/using a Disney dining plan/etc. we did things a little differently. All the Disney dining plan folks usually skip breakfast I think, but for us, it made the most sense to have our free and amazing buffet breakfast be one of our biggest meals of the day! In addition to everything you'd expect at a hotel breakfast buffet, there was a pancake/waffle bar. Enter the "special pancake" tradition. Every morning, the kids had special pancakes made by Daddy or I AFTER the rest of the breakfast but before we left. Sprinkles, whipped cream and chocolate oh my!

We got to Magic Kingdom, got right in and wanted to hop right on a ride together! But I requested we spend five minutes in line for "the" Disney picture in front of the castle :) Everyone obliged. It helped we couldn't actually see any rides yet LOL.

THEN it was ride time. Aladdin's magic carpets it was. Cass really hasn't ridden many rides so I was curious what she'd think. She loved it, and so onward and upward we continued with rides!

Some carousel time for us. I could tell Troy was itching for something a bit bigger at this point though LOL.

Another fun one for us all to ride was Buzz Lightyear's Spin. When Mike took Troy to LegoLand earlier this year, there was a ride there like this he wanted to ride over and over, so I thought he'd really like this one. We followed it up with Pirates of the Carribean, too. 

Then we split the party in half, as I planned we would do for awhile each day, and Mike and Troy went to go to some bigger rides (Space Mountain!) while Cass and I went off to lunch at Cinderella's Table! Thank you, Gramma and Grampa! My mom and dad gifted us all with an "experience" gift at Disney for our birthdays while we were there, for something we otherwise wouldn't have done. Lunch with the princesses was the perfect choice for Cass and I!

Our little party of 2 fit right in at the best table in the house, right at the front of the castle by the huge windows. It was amazing!

We had met Cinderella on the way in, and THIS was the moment they started announcing and introducing allllll the other princesses. She looked like she was going to burst!

I wasn't too sure this was even Ariel on the bottom right, but Cass proclaimed it was quickly. So as soon as they snapped their pic, I canceled my FastPass on my phone for the Ariel character experience for the afternoon and popped in another ride.

Meanwhile, these were showing up in my phone from ride lines, Space Mountain and the speedway (car) ride.

On the way from Cinderella's table to meeting up with the boys for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Cass had her first "pass out in the stroller" nap. We woke her up and FastPassed right onto a roller coaster, half asleep. She woke up quickly and laughed the entire ride! Then.... we parted ways again.  Cass really wanted to see a parade while we were there and the boys had several rides left on their hit list, like the Haunted Mansion ride Mike remembered from his childhood. The parade area was SLAM PACKED but we were able to see enough of it to "see" a parade :) 

Then? More character experiences for our afternoon while the boys rode and rode. Anna and Elsa aren't at the Magic Kingdom these days so we weren't planning to see them at all. Then Daddy, who was completely across the park, sent me this video. I didn't show Cass what we were missing LOL.

I told Cass who all the lines were for and asked if she wanted to wait. Apparently Minnie was worth the wait for her!

I had *thought* we'd just wear the princess dress at Cinderella's Table. Nope, nope she wasn't taking that thing off!

This was around 3pm, after an already FULL day when I realized just how amazing Cass was rocking this day. She was SO happy and we were both enjoying it to bits. *Pic snapped*

Enchanted Tales with Belle was the cutest little experience. The kids all got a roll to play in a little show (small, think like no more than 20 kids or so) and Belle called them up. Cass was the salt shaker :)

While up in front, the little salt shaker started bouncing up and down and then called out in a LOUD whisper "I NEED TO GO POTTY". Mad dash out the door and we were done with Enchanted Tales just in the nick of time. 

Soooooo, we found more characters to go meet with our last few minutes before dinner. The Tinkerbell experience may have been one of the cutest ones of the whole week. All the characters, especially the princesses, were SO good at carrying on conversations with Cass while they were visiting. Cass lit up while Tinkerbell gushed over her new wand from lunch :) 

Totally lit up! Tinkerbell had her waving her wand and pretending fairy dust was raining down, or something like that. It was precious.

Finally time to slow our day down a bit and draw it to a close. We had dinner reservations for like 5:30pm at Be Our Guest. Can you tell how happy we were to see each other?! 

Another "castle", this one is supposed to be the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast. 

This is Mike's "it's snowing in Florida!?" face in response to the "atmosphere". 

Loved my little rose napkin.

The food was pretty good! But the kids dessert cart that came rolling around!? Yep, they were pretty excited for that. They both ended up picking a strawberry cupcake. Yes, even over the "grey stuff"!

The whole castle was beautiful. We walked around a bit afterwards but opted not to wait in line for the Beast. He was pretty cool (and gigantic!) though!

We had to wait a few minutes for our shuttle so we scooped up one more FastPass for the night and went on the evening "Jingle Cruise" (Jungle Cruise). It was DARK but we it was all lit up so we could see the different (pretend) animals. 

Then we got outside to wait for our shuttle and this began. THIS is what a three year old looks like after her first FULL day at Disney World! Haha!