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A Very Princess Trip Report - Nov 1-6

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by lebeau, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member

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    After a year of careful planning and preparation, my family vacation to Walt Disney World has finally come and gone. Going into the trip I was excited and more than a little anxious. I had sunk a lot of time, effort and resources into this get-away. It was very important to me that everyone have a good time.


    Before I get into the details of the trip, allow me to introduce the cast. I am your humble narrator and the planner of the trip. My wife, Mindy, tolerates what she calls my “Disney obsession”. We have two little girls, Josie (age 7) and Kara (age 3). Accompanying us on this trip was my mom, a school teacher who watches the girls during the week.

    We scheduled this trip around a rare fall break at Josie’s school (where my mom is also a teacher). School was out Nov 1 – 6 which I figured was just enough time to see and do everything we wanted to experience.

    I took off Halloween to make my final preparations for the trip. In addition to packing, I had to do my civic duty and vote as we would not be back in time to cast our votes on Election Day. We also had to get the girls ready for Trick or Treating.

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    This year, Josie wanted a scary costume. So she picked a vampire. We had actually selected a different vampire costume, but when she wore it to a school party her classmates didn’t know what she was supposed to be. It probably didn’t help matters that she didn’t wear vampire teeth to school that day. Anyway, she got a second vampire costume and a whole assortment of vampire teeth for Halloween.

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    Kara wanted to be Rapunzel. She has a whole assortment of princess dresses, so there was no need to buy her a costume this year. As you will see on the trip, she made frequent costume changes. It was cold and rainy on Halloween, so Kara has on a long sleeve shirt under her dress.
    We got the packing and voting done. The girls spent a cold, wet hour Trick or Treating. The family dog was shipped off to Mindy’s parents’ house for safe keeping. I was exhausted and we hadn’t even left yet.

    The next morning, my Mom came to pick us up in her van at 7:30 am. We waited outside for her to arrive, tossed our bags in the van and headed off for the airport. We arrived precisely according to schedule at 8:00 am. We marched through security quickly and efficiently. They announced our plane was boarding just as we pulled up.

    Our flight arrived in Orlando a full 20 minutes early. Historically, our arrival days have not gone so well. But today, everything was going smoothly. I actually started to worry. Surely, something would go wrong.

    In the Orlando airport, I started digging through my papers for our Magical Express info. Then I saw the Magical Express baggage tags. We had attached the wrong tags to our luggage. Our bags were not being delivered to our room. I wondered if this would derail us.

    As it turns out, the crisis was averted. We grabbed our bags from baggage claim. Mindy and my mom seemed relieved to have them. So, it was not a big deal. I’m just glad I noticed the unused tags before we left the airport.

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    When we arrived at the Magical Express shuttles, they started boarding for Art of Animation immediately. I couldn’t believe our luck! I have never boarded a Magical Express bus in under 20 minutes.

    As it turns out, that wouldn’t happen today either. There were too many people waiting in line. We would have to wait for the next shuttle which arrived in about 20 minutes.
    My goal had been to get checked into our room at Art of Animation by 1:00. I figured this would leave us enough time to grab some lunch and make it to Epcot by 4:00. That would give us just enough time in the park to justify the cost of the ticket. Even with the wait for the shuttle, we were right on time.

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    I had seen lots of pictures of the Art of Animation Resort as it opened in stages over the course of the last year. But seeing it in person was still pretty thrilling. The girls were in awe of the over-sized figures. The lobby was bright and colorful. I knew immediately that this was the right choice for our stay.

    The cast member who checked us in was extremely friendly. Andrew got things off on the right foot. We started hauling our bags to our room. We didn’t get very far before we were approached by a cast member with a luggage cart. He offered to help us take our bags up to our room.

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    This was our fourth stay on property. The last two visits have been at sprawling moderate resorts. Our rooms were exceptionally far away from the main building. But Art of Animation is very compact. Our suite in the Lion King section was a short walk away from everything. I love the moderate resorts, but the small size of the Values is a big benefit.

    The cast member who helped us with our bags gave us a quick tour of the suite. Of course, I already knew the layout. But the girls were amazed when he pulled down a bed from the wall. Josie’s draw dropped. Kara called it the “magic bed” – a name which stuck for the duration of the trip.

    We unpacked quickly. The girls changed clothes. We knew we would be dining with princesses tonight. So, Josie put on an Ariel T-shirt and Kara donned a yellow Belle dress. If everything went according to plan, she would match Belle at dinner.

    Before we headed off to the parks, we wanted to grab lunch. So we stopped at the Art of Animation food court, Landscape of Flavors. I had read good things about the food court. Especially for a Value Resort. And on the whole, I was not disappointed.

    Like all Disney food courts, Landscape of Flavors was a bit chaotic. As it was 1:00, the lunch rush was starting to die down. But it was still plenty busy. With multiple lines to wait in, it was a bit challenging to get everyone’s meals, pay at the register, and grab a seat. But we managed. Having my mom as an extra adult made this much easier than last time.

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    I had intended to take food pictures this trip. But frankly, my hands were always full. I was juggling too much and quickly decided to abandon the food pics. However, I did snap a couple at this first lunch.

    Daffystardust requested that I sample the nan and let him know whether or not it was worth the walk over from the Pop Century Resort. So, I ordered the Mongolian beef stir fry with a side of spinach. I’m happy to report that the meal was definitely worth the walk over from Pop Century. It was on par with what you would get at a lot of sit-down restaurants.

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    For dessert, I grabbed a cute little Mickey Mouse cupcake. The face is white chocolate and the ears are Oreos which Kara ate off of the cupcake every time someone ordered it. As cupcakes go, it was big and tasty. The frosting was plentiful and extremely sweet. Strangely, the resort did not offer any chocolate cupcakes. Only vanilla with either the Mickey design or a colorful Art of Animation design.

    As it turns out, I was too full from my meal to eat the cupcake right away. We ended up running back to the room to store uneaten desserts in the refrigerator. Thankfully, it was a short walk. I would never have attempted such a thing at the moderate resorts.
    As good as the cupcake was, it was definitely not the best dessert offered at Landscape of Flavors. I’ll get to that later in the trip report.

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    Mindy got the caprese sandwich which lived up to her high expectations. She would order it again later in the trip. My mom got a pulled pork barbecue sandwich which she said was excellent. The girls each got spaghetti and meatballs which they both devoured. This is not unusual for Kara, but Josie is a picky eater. It is very rare for her to clean her plate.

    Since Kara was wearing her fancy Belle dress, we tried to keep her clean by making a sort of bib out of napkins. We were only partially successful. We still had to clean her up before she would be suitable for our royal dinner.

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    We had yet to leave our resort, but we had already had a long day. As the girls relaxed and enjoyed their meal, they started getting slap happy. I have no idea what set it off, but Kara started doing some kind of happy dance. This set Josie off in a fit of the giggles. Soon they were both dancing at the table.

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    The dancing gave way to silly faces because that is the natural order of things. Believe it or not, this is not a fit. This is just Kara being goofy.

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    You’ll see more of this behavior throughout the trip report.

    After a quick stop at the room to deliver uneaten goodies, we made our way to the bus stop. Amazing, the Epcot bus pulled right up with no wait. I told Mom she must be a good luck charm. I had hoped to get to the park by 4:00. But we would be there by 2:30!

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    As soon as we got through the gates, the girls started exploring and posing for pictures.

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    The girls had no idea what these giant slabs of concrete were, but they knew they wanted their picture taken with them. The slap happy goofiness from lunch was back in full force.
    Speaking of goofiness, I spotted Goofy in the distance. The girls agreed that Goofy was better than a cement slab and wanted to have their picture taken with him.

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    When we got closer, Kara grew uncertain. She got cold feet, but relcutantly agreed to meet Goofy as long as I held her. I have to hand it to Goofy. He really handled the situation well. He recognized that she was uneasy and he eased her into the situation. By the time our pictures were done, Kara and Goofy were like old friends.

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    Daisy Duck was a short walk away. Kara absolutely loves Daisy for some reason. She likes all the characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but Daisy is her favorite. This time, there was no need for me to come along. She ran right up to Daisy and gave her a big hug.
    As soon as we finished meeting with Daisy, Kara was demanding to go see Mickey and Minnie. I grabbed a rented stroller and we went off in search of more characters to meet.
     
  2. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    When we left off, we had just arrived at Epcot. We met Goofy and Daisy Duck at the entrance. Between the two of them, they had won Kara over to the point where she couldn’t wait to see more characters. She stated very matter-of-factly that Mickey and Minnie were next. Which makes a certain kind of sense given her experience so far. The characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse seemed to be lined up waiting to meet her.


    Fortunately, we were an hour and a half ahead of schedule. So, we had lots of time for meet and greets. I knew Mickey and Minnie were typically in the Epcot Character Spot. However, just before we left, Disney announced they were closing the Character Spot for refurbishment. A helpful cast member pointed us to the temporary meeting spot.

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    Any hesitation Kara may have had about meeting the characters was gone. She ran up to Mickey like they were old pals. She told me very proudly that she knew Mickey and Minnie would be here.

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    Next up was Pluto. Pluto is always a fun, playful character. Josie has a Pluto pen which she uses for character autographs. Every time Pluto sees it, we get a big response.

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    The final character in the Character Spot was Minnie. Future World was empty and the lines were short. We knocked out five must-do meet and greets in about twenty minutes. Kara wanted to know where Donald Duck was. I told her that he was in Mexico and that we would see him later.

    But the kids weren’t done with their character hit parade. They were willing to wait to see Donald. But in the meanwhile, we had to track down some chipmunks.

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    Fortunately, Chip and Dale were nearby. The chipmunks have been family favorites ever since Josie’s first trip to Disney World. No trip to WDW is complete until we have visited with the mischievous munks.

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    With seven characters met, it seemed like a good time to switch gears and ride some rides. The girls were amenable, so we headed off to the Seas Pavillion.

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    You can’t go to Seas With Nemo and Friends without taking pictures with Nemo out front. The girls were still in silly mode. Josie spent much of the trip trying to give her sister rabbit ears in pictures. Kara launched a pre-emptive strike by giving herself rabbit ears. Sort of. If anything, it looked more like mouse ears.

    The Nemo ride was a walk-on as usual. The long, dark queue made Kara a bit nervous. She’s not a big fan of dark rides and she definitely did not like the angler fish. But on the whole, it was a short fun ride that took us into the heart of the pavillion.

    When we unloaded, I saw people herding into Turtle Talk with Crush. I figured the next show must be starting soon, so we headed over. Sure enough, they started admitting people. The kids took seats up front while we sat on the benches. The situation always makes us a little nervous, but the kids handled it well.

    In the show, an animated Crush talks to kids in the audience. Josie almost got to ask Crush a question by mistake. Crush was actually signalling to a nearby kid, but the cast member with the microphone went to Josie first. When Crush asked another child for her name, Kara shouted out that her name was Kara.

    The show was great fun as always. Every child Crush talked to made some kind of nonsensical statement rather than asking a real question. But Crush played it up for laughs.

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    After the show, we explored the rest of the pavillion. Last trip. Josie wouldn’t even go in the shark room. So, this time she had something to prove. We had to get a picture inside Bruce’s mouth. My mom helped the kids get in place. She didn’t realize she was in the picture, but it turned out anyway.

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    We checked out all the exhibits. Eventually, Kara was ready to move on. But Josie was still exploring. We told Josie she had a few more minutes to check out the exhibits before we had to go. For some reason, she was really excited to see the sea horses.

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    We quickly checked out the manatees and the dolphins before leaving the Seas Pavillion.
    By this point, Josie was getting a little cranky. The girl is obsessed with gift shops. So when we exited through a gift shop, she really wanted to buy something. I told her we would pass a lot of gift shops during our trip and we couldn’t buy something in every one. But she was tired and it was starting to show.

    Since we weren’t buying Nemo toys, Josie decided she had to ride Soarin’ right away. The Land Pavillion was close by, but the wait was approximately an hour long. My girls get impatient any time a line extends more than five minutes. There was no way we were waiting in line for close to an hour to ride Soarin’.

    As a compromise, I ran into the Land Pavillion myself to fetch FastPasses for Soarin’. While I ran that errand, the girls rode Journey into Imagination With Figment. I was able to get FastPasses for 8:00 which fit in well with our dinner plans. When I got back to the Imagination Pavillion, I waited and waited. I did a lot of people watching. I figured the girls must have gotten interested in the ImageWorks exhibits.

    Eventually, I figured I had better call to check up on them. As soon as I pulled out my phone, I saw them exiting the pavillion. Sure enough, Kara had become obsessed with the “games” at ImagewWorks.

    I told Josie I had FastPasses for Soarin’. She wasn’t especially happy to have to wait until after dinner to ride. But there was no way we were waiting in the hour-long standby line. So we decided to move on to the World Showcase.

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    On the way, we made a stop to see Duffy the Disney Bear. In concept, I don’t like Duffy. He comes across as a blatant marketing ploy to sell overpriced teddy bears. But Josie is right in the middle of Duffy’s target demographic. I knew there was very little chance of us getting through the trip without buying a bear.

    Unfortunately, just as we got to Duffy’s meeting spot, he went on a five minute break. Josie begged to go into the nearby Duffy gift shop. I agreed.

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    In the gift shop, Josie’s mood continued to deteriorate. She kept picking out expensive junk I knew she wouldn’t play with. At one point, she insisted she had to have some Vinylmation Jrs. These are basically keychains in a sealed box. You never know what you will get exactly. But this particular series had a Snow White theme.

    Josie doesn’t especially like Snow White. But she had it in her head she had to buy these key chains. I figured we would find other Vinylmations at dozens of other gift shops over the course of our trip. So, I put her off. As it turns out, the things are half off at the Disney Store. So when we got home I ordered a bunch of them as stocking stuffers. They go for $10 in the park, but I got them for $3 each on-line.

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    Josie wasn’t too happy to leave the gift shop empty handed. (Trust me, she’ll make out pretty well before the trip is over.) And to make matters worse, we spent so much time in the gift shop that Duffy went on another break. We decided to wait this one out. Which was tough because Josie was getting impatient.

    Kara opted out of meeting Duffy since she was unfamiliar with him. But as you can see from the pictures, Josie’s mood improved when she met the big teddy bear. No surprise she came home with one. And two outfits. Duffy may be a blatant marketing ploy, but he’s a marketing ploy that works.
     
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  3. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    When we left off, we had blown through a series of meet and greets in a mostly empty Future World. Our final meet and greet was with Duffy the Disney Bear as we prepared to enter the World Showcase. As we entered the Showcase, I realized why Future World was so empty. Everyone was in the back half of the park enjoying the Food and Wine Festival.


    The walkways in the World Showcase were quite congested. It wasn’t so much that the park was crowded. But the people who were there were strolling from kiosk to kiosk in a very leisurely fashion. I get the impression that there were a lot of locals who were socializing rather than touring the park. The result was that sidewalks were blocked by herds of people comparing notes on the Food and Wine Festival.

    Our dinner reservations at Akershus were approaching. But we still had some time to kill. So, we headed for the Mexico Pavillion. The girls wanted to visit Donald Duck. But the line for his meet and greet was pretty long. And we were going to see the duck at dinner the next night. So instead, I guided the group inside the pavilion to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour.

    As usual, there was no line for the modest boat ride. We walked right on. The ride has little to offer adults, but the kids enjoy seeing Donald Duck’s antics on the video screens. This ride was one of Josie’s favorites in 2010 and it was a hit again this year. Josie’s slightly sour mood was improving.

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    After the ride, Josie wanted to shop around the crafts section of the pavilion. I told her that was okay as long as there were no fits because we weren’t buying anything. She agreed and had fun trying on sombreros.

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    We had roughly a half hour to kill before dinner. I debated whether or not to attempt to squeeze in another pavilion before dinner. But ultimately, I decided against it. Instead, I let the girls color Duffy pictures at the Kidcot station. It’s amazing how busy these coloring tables are. I think there is something about the familiar activity of coloring that helps kids deal with the stimulation of Disney World. That, or kids just love to color. I don’t know. Either way, the time spent coloring was time well spent.

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    Finally it was time for dinner. We checked into Akershus and were immediately ushered into the chamber where we would have our picture taken with Belle. There was a bit of a wait to actually see her. From where I was standing, I could see some of her yellow dress from around the corner. But the girls couldn’t see her at all and the anticipation was killing them.

    When they finally got to see Belle, they were very excited. Kara in particular could barely contain herself. As far as she was concerned, this was a dream come true. The real Belle was standing right in front of her, talking to her, and they were wearing the same dress. She could not have been more proud. She barely spoke, but she was beaming. This is why we came to Disney World.

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    I was too busy snapping pictures to really pay attention to the princess interactions. So, I’m not sure what the girls were talking about. I know Belle came across as very regal. And when I gestured for my mom to join us for a picture, she noted her approval. The girls were enchanted and that’s what mattered.

    Soon, we were seated at a table in a corner. We were told our waiter was named Magnus. The name conjured images of an Aryan power lifter. So I was a little surprised when Magnus came to our table looking like an extra from Revenge of the Nerds. Magnus explained how dinner worked, but no one in our party could understand a word he said.

    The combination of his accent and all the background noise rendered him incomprehensible. Fortunately, I already knew how dinner worked. So I explained to the group that there was a cold buffet, we would order entrees from a menu and dessert would be served family-style. We were all pretty hungry. But the princesses were fast approaching and we didn’t have time to make our way to the buffet before they arrived at our table.

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    Aurora was the first to arrive. Sleeping Beauty is one of Kara’s favorites. She became obsessed with the movie shortly before our trip. She had intended to ask Aurora about the spindle that caused her to fall asleep. But she was too star-struck to say a word. I was too busy clicking pictures to know what Aurora said to her, but they had a nice little chat.

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    Aurora was the only princess who took individual pictures with the girls. The others took a group shot with both girls at once.

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    We had a very brief window between Aurora’s visit and Cinderella’s arrival at our table. We figured there was just enough time for some of us to hit the buffet. My mom stayed behind with Kara while the rest of us went to fill our plates. Josie got some fresh fruit. I had a sampling of meats and veggies. The asparagus was the stand-out. It had some kind of barbecue sauce drizzled which was delicious.

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    We arrived back at our table just in time to meet with Cinderella. We finally had foos, but no time to eat it. The girls didn’t care. They were hungry, but meeting the princesses took precedence over eating.
     
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  4. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    The rest of the princesses followed in rapid succession. Ariel was next, but you can see Snow White was right behind her. Ariel is a favorite of both the girls, but we had never seen her before. So they were especially excited to get to meet the Little Mermaid. I grabbed bites of asparagus in between taking pictures. It was all happening very quickly.​
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    As soon as Ariel left our table, Snow White arrived. Kara hugged all of the princesses, but capturing the exact moment of the hugs proved difficult. I managed to get this one.

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    Finally, we had visited with all the princesses and our entrees had arrived. Mindy and I both had the Kjottkake (meatballs). Josie ordered the kid’s version of the same dish. She didn’t care for the meatballs or gravy, so we ended up ordering a bowl of mashed potatoes and corn for her. Magnus brought out the replacement dish quickly. But as it turns out, the mashed potatoes were still too lumpy for her liking.

    Kara had a hot dog which she devoured. My mom ordered the cornish hen which she enjoyed. Everything came with mashed potatoes which we all agreed were lumpy and not very good. But between the appetizers and the entrees, we all had enough to eat.

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    Just as we were getting serious about chowing down, an announcement was made. It was time for the princess processional. A different princess went to each room and gathered the children for a parade around the restaurant. Ariel was the leader of our group. As she was gathering the kids, Kara looked up at me and said, “Daddy, I am standing next to the little mermaid.” Ariel overheard her. She turned around and smiled. “Yes you are,” she said. Kara was floored.

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    The girls made their way from room to room waving at all the commoners as they passed. Eventually, Ariel returned to our room and the parade dispersed. However, my kids did not return with the others. I searched the room frantically. Nope. No girls. I looked back to our table. Not there. I looked to Ariel. Not there either.

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    I willed myself to remain calm. They couldn’t have gone very far. I walked into the next room. Still no girls. I walked into the main entry area where Belle was meeting new guests. There they were holding each others’ hands as though the parade was still going strong. I breathed a sigh of relief and brought them back to our table in the far corner of the restaurant.

    Next time, I’ll think twice before allowing a mermaid to watch my kids.

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    As our meal wound down, Magnus brought out the dessert plate. We all sampled everything save for the chocolate mousse. Josie loved the mousse and ate most of it. We ordered a second plate so everyone could get a taste of everything. But Josie enjoyed the mousse so much we just gave the second helping to her. Like the entrees, the desserts were okay. But nothing spectacular. I never did taste the mousse. But I enjoyed the puff pastry.

    Magnus brought out the bill. As we were finishing our meal, there was some drama playing out at the next table over. They could not pay for their meal! The woman was demanding to speak with a manager. We overheard something about two table service credits which made me worry. Had Disney made Akershus a signature dining experience without notifying us? As angry as this woman was, that seemed a likely possibility.

    It turns out that her family had gone to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show earlier in their trip without realizing that it cost two table service credits. She was out of dining credits with which to pay for her meal at Akershus. We didn’t stick around to see how the drama played out. But it looked like she was going to have to find a way to pay for the meal out of pocket. Always read the fine print, folks.

    With dinner over, we had a choice to make. Stay for Illuminations or call it a night. We still had FastPasses for Soarin’ which Josie really wanted to ride. So I made the decision to ride Soarin’ and then head back to the resort. It didn’t make sense to me to walk all the way back to the Land Pavilion and then trek back to the World Showcase for the fireworks. It had been a long day and I didn’t want to wear everyone out on our first night.

    In 2010, Josie had a bad experience on Soarin’. The effect was too real and she panicked thinking we were actually suspended over the ocean. This time, she had a blast. So it was a great way to end our first day. It wasn’t Illuminations, but we definitely ended the night on a high note.
     
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  5. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    On our arrival day, we had pretty good luck with regards to busses. But that ended this morning. We got to the bus stop just as a Magic Kingdom bus was pulling away. It was at least 20 minutes before the next bus. I counted one bus for each other park and two for Animal Kingdom. Just as our bus finally arrived, a couple pulled up in scooters which had to be boarded first. Our total wait time to board the bus was approximately 30 minutes.
    But I wasn’t about to let a minor set-back like bad luck on the bus lottery get me down. We were headed to the Magic Kingdom! We didn’t make it to the park as early as I would have liked. But we were still there before the crowds.

    The first order of business was to visit the princesses on Main Street. We had knocked out most of our must-see characters for the trip on Day 1. But there were still a few hard-to-see characters on our list. At the top of that list was Rapunzel.

    The line to see Rapunzel has historically been very long. Thankfully, Disney finally moved her meet and greet inside the Town Square Theater where they could open multiple rooms at once. Since then, lines have been manageable. But it’s still advisable to visit the princesses early in the day.

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    Kara was wearing her Rapunzel dress for the occasion. When we arrived, one of the cast members said “Oh, Rapunzel! You must be running late. You were supposed to be here for meet and greets at 8:00.” Kara absolutely loves it when people pretend to mistake her for a real princess. She puffs up with pride.

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    The first princess we met that morning was Aurora. We had already seen her at dinner the night before. Recently, Kara had become obsessed with Sleeping Beauty. In particular, she was fascinated by the scene in which Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle and falls asleep. For months, she told us she was going to warn Aurora not to touch the spindle.

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    However, now that she was face-to-face with the living, breathing princess, she was too star struck to speak. So after they finished posing for pictures, I prompted her. Kara still didn’t speak up, but Aurora responded to my prompting with a story about how her father had removed all spindles from the kingdom. She recommended that I do the same thing when we get home. Kara seemed satisfied with this response.

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    Next up was Rapunzel. She was the reason we were here in the first place. Josie wanted to know why she was wearing shoes, but I don’t think she asked her. Once again, I was too busy playing photographer to make out much of the conversation. All I know is the girls weren’t disappointed.

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    There was no one in line behind us, so the princesses each took a little extra time with our girls. Josie and Kara were both being a bit shy, so the princesses did most of the talking. For them, this was like meeting the Beatles.

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    Our third and final princess in the meeting of the blondes was Cinderella. We met Cinderella three times this trip and I really can’t remember what was said in each meeting. I think this was the time she asked the girls if their shoes slipped off their feet like hers did. I remember this bit because Cinderella asked the same question at the castle in 2010.

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    After the meet and greet we exited through a gift shop of course. Josie had been somewhat impatient to buy something at Epcot, but couldn’t find anything she really liked. We had a similar experience here. She liked some of the shoes, but she is in between sizes and Disney doesn’t carry half size shoes. We could buy them a little big, but Josie is fussy about how her clothes and shoes fit. It has to be exact.

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    Kara, on the other hand, had no such problem. She saw the Rapunzel crown and set her mind on having it. My mom wanted to get something for both the girls as well as my sister’s kids, so she bought Kara the crown.

    We spent a lot of time in the gift shop as Josie searched high and low for something to buy. But since she isn’t nearly as interested in princesses as her sister, she couldn’t find anything. I finally convinced her that if she waited, she would find the perfect thing at another shop.

    From there, we went to Fantasyland. I had hoped that we might gain entry into the Fantasyland Expansion. But we were turned away at the gates. I asked the cast member if he knew when guests might be allowed in. He told me the plan was to open it to guests during the Halloween party. Too bad we weren’t attending.

    Denied access to the expansion, I decided to make the best of our time in Fantasyland before the lines got too bad. First stop, Peter Pan’s Flight. It was still a walk-on which is very uncommon.

    Both the girls enjoyed the classic dark ride. But Kara in particular loved it. She has become interested in Peter Pan thanks to Jake and the Neverland Pirates which is one of her favorite shows. Even though Jake doesn’t appear in the ride, she loved flying over Neverland, seeing Peter Pan and Wendy and the mermaids. Both the girls were excited to see Ariel among the Neverland mermaids.

    My mom indicated that It’s a Small World was her favorite ride. Since we were standing right next to it, we decided to make it our next stop. Everyone enjoyed the gentle boat ride. The girls were both singing along about midway through. They especially enjoyed seeing all the silly animals throughout the ride.

    After Small World, we reached a decision point. We could continue on with Fantasyland or we could make our way to the mountains of Frontierland. When I put the issue up for a vote, Josie was very vocally in favor of going to Frontierland. So, off we went.
    On the way, we stopped by the Haunted Mansion. Because, how can you not?

    Castmembers were actively trying to get people to take the long walk through the graveyard. But since it was not yet required, very few were biting.

    I had Kara during the ride. No surprise that she didn’t especially like it. But she held up really well. She held my hand and took everything in. But she definitely didn’t want to ride it again. Unfortunately for her, she was going to be excluded from the next couple of rides due to height restrictions.

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    Before we could move on, the girls wanted to take some pictures in the stocks at Liberty Square.

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    As shy as they can some times be, these girls love having their picture taken. Pretty much any excuse to do so.

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    They also like to ham it up.

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    We had to wait on another family before we could take our pictures. But this family could not coordinate their group. For whatever reason, they couldn’t decide who was going to pose where. Eventually, they just gave up and walked away. I can’t imagine how the rest of their day went.
     
  6. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    [​IMG]

    When we left off, we had blasted through Fantasyland and Liberty Square. The next item on our agenda was to tackle both of the mountains in Frontierland. The only problem was, Big Thunder was down. Fast thinker that I am, I immediately grabbed FastPasses for the attraction and off we went to Splash Mountain.

    My mom didn’t want to take any chances getting wet, so she volunteered to watch Kara while Mindy, Josie and I rode Splash. We dropped them off at the play area near the ride’s entrance. Since it was still relatively early, Splash was a walk-on.

    This was Josie’s first ride on Splash Mountain. She was tall enough to ride it in 2010, but I couldn’t convince her to do so. I have been working on her ever since. She was reluctant, but willing. At the first small drop, she screamed her head off like we were going over a cliff. But then she laughed and had fun for the rest of the ride.

    When we got to the big drop, both Josie and Mindy screamed in stereo. But they were laughing at the bottom. We got a bit of a spray, but nothing that would make us uncomfortable for the rest of the day. We were dry minutes after exiting the ride.
    To commemorate this first, we had to pony up for the ride photo. Here it is. Josie’s first trip to the laughing place:

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    Best $15 I spent this trip.

    When we exited the ride, we saw Woody and Jessie. On our 2010 trip, Josie bought a Jessie doll that became her constant companion. That year, she was Jessie for Halloween. Long story short, Jessie has become a favorite character.

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    While Jessie was the main draw for us, Woody was providing entertainment for the crowd. Every time a new family came to see them, Woody put on a show. He held kids’ autograph books outside of Jessie’s reach and made her jump. Or he laid down on the ground. It seemed there was no end to his antics.

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    As a result, the line was a little backed up. But having never met Jessie, we decided we wanted to wait in it. I went to check in on Mom and Kara at the Splash Mountain playground. Kara was having a blast. I asked if she wanted to meet Woody and Jessie with Josie. She said, “No”.

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    Apparently, not long after I left, Kara asked my mom if Woody and Jessie were nice. When my mom confirmed that they were, Kara changed her mind. They joined us in line.

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    Josie’s shirt had a crown on it. When Woody saw it, he started pointing to it and then to Josie’s head indicating that she should have a crown on her head. Then he took a very small flower and put it on her head.

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    We had a bit of a long wait to meet them. In fact, we waited longer for Woody and Jessie than we had waited for any ride. But it was worth it.

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    Although this was our first full day in the parks, it was going to be cut a little short due to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Since the park closed at 7:00, I wanted to get in our afternoon break a little earlier than usual. We had Big Thunder FastPasses that opened up shortly after 12:00 (assuming the ride re-opened). So, we decided to grab lunch.

    Over-planner that I am, I had printed up all the menus for the counter service locations where we were likely to eat. Nearby, was Pecos Bill’s. But Josie shot that down. She wanted mac and cheese for lunch. The two restaurants that offered a mac and cheese kid’s meal were Columbia Harbor House and Pinocchio’s Village Haus.

    Of the two, Pinocchio’s was the clear winner among the adults. Mindy doesn’t like sea food, but loves caprese. So we doubled back to Fantasyland for lunch. Mom and I got the BBQ chicken flatbread which we both enjoyed. The girls had mac and cheese which they devoured. And Mindy got the caprese flatbread which she liked.

    For dessert, my mom ordered gelato, but she pronounced it with a hard “g”. The cast member at the register corrected her. I tried not to laugh but I don’t think I was very successful. I ordered the chocolate cake, but ended up taking it back to the room. The flatbread was surprisingly filling.

    After lunch, it was time for Big Thunder. The plan was to hit Big Thunder and then leave for our afternoon break. Since the ride had been down most of the morning, the line was backed up. But with our FastPasses, we walked right on. Mom, who was a FastPass novice, said she felt bad for passing everyone.

    Josie screamed her head off from start to finish. But it was a fun scream. She was also laughing the whole time. We had a great ride through the wilderness. After that, we headed for the front gates.

    However, on our way I spotted another must-see character approaching. Since she was not yet in position, a line hadn’t formed. So we took a minute to meet with Marie.

    [​IMG]

    Kara’s middle name is Marie, so she considers Marie to be “her cat.” She’s never seen The Aristocats, but she has a stuffed Marie doll. As far as she in concerned, Marie is her second pet.

    So we knocked off another must do before we left for our break.

    The girls were actually looking forward to the break. They both really wanted to go swimming. When we got back to the room, I grabbed the pool stuff. That’s when I realized I had packed two bathing suits for Kara and none for Josie. We were off to the gift shop.

    The gift shop at Art of Animation only had one bathing suit for girls. It was purple and had Tinkerbell on it. Fortunately, they had it in Josie’s size. She also asked for a pair of goggles. She wanted to go under water and listen to the audio in the Big Blue Pool. I agreed. It’s vacation and I’m already on the hook for an over-priced bathing suit. Why not?

    Sensing opportunity, Kara asked for a pool noodle. Well, I can’t buy Joey a bathing suit and goggles and then tell Kara she can’t have a noodle. I walked out of there approximately $50 poorer, but the kids had a great time swimming.

    There were lots of organized pool side activities. At one point, Kara decided she had to participate in the dancing group. She wanted Josie to go with her. Josie wasn’t interested, but being the good big sister she is, she helped Kara do the Cupid Shuffle and a few other dances Mindy knows the name of. Around the time of the YMCA, I decided to let Josie off the hook.

    After a couple hours at the pool, I dragged the girls back to the room. They would have stayed there for the rest of the day, I think. Mom and Mindy had taken naps while we were out. Once every one was dried off, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for the evening.
     
  7. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    [​IMG]

    When we left off, the girls cooled off in the Big Blue Pool while Mom and Mindy napped in the suite. After a little rest and relaxation, we were headed back to the Magic Kingdom for a few more attractions before dinner.


    Dinner was a little late, so we decided to grab a snack to tide us over. Over the summer, Josie had become a big fan of funnel cakes at Kings Island. So, we made our way to Sleepy Hollow for some fried dough and powdered sugar.

    When I placed my order, the girl asked me if I wanted “a lot of powdered sugar”. The girls actually don’t like too much powdered sugar, so I told her “medium”. She started piling up the sugar to the point where I actually had to stop her. I can’t imagine what “a lot of powdered sugar” would have looked like.

    There was ample seating and the weather was gorgeous. So we grabbed a table and leisurely enjoyed a couple of funnel cakes. Then, just as we were wrapping up, Kara noticed the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade nearby. Kara loves Disney parades. We actually watch parade videos on YouTube more often than I care to admit. So, there was no doubt about what to do next.

    I pushed the girls’ stroller as close to the parade as I could manage. Being late comers, we didn’t have the best vantage point. When the show stopped for the dance party segment, I asked the girls if they wanted to participate. They declined in spite of the fact Kara had to boogie by the pool just a couple hours ago.

    As the parade ended, we headed to Fantasyland. We had planned to ride the Tea Cups that morning, but veered off into Frontierland instead. So the plan was to finish out the smaller Fantasyland attractions until it was time for dinner.

    When we got there, my eye went immediately to the castle walls that opened to the Fantasyland expansion. We had been turned away that morning. But the cast member told me that the expansion might be open to the public during the Halloween party.

    There were still a couple of hours before the Halloween party started. But Disney was admitting party goers to the park. So I figured there was a decent chance that the Fantasyland Expansion would be open as well. I saw a couple of people making their way in and no one was stopping them. I decided to make a break for it.

    We just started walking. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone. If we weren’t supposed to be entering the gates, someone was going to have to get my attention to stop me. No one did. We were in!

    By this point, it was 6:00. We only had an hour before we would have to leave for dinner. I had heard that the expansion had some pretty long lines during these soft openings. So I figured we had time for one attraction at most.

    I asked the girls. What do you want to see? The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast? They didn’t hesitate for a moment. They wanted to see Ariel. I was pretty sure that would be the case. As I have mentioned before, Ariel is a favorite of both of the girls.

    [​IMG]

    Look, I’m not going to lie. I was beyond excited by this development. Over a year ago, I had promised Josie that on our next trip she could ride the Little Mermaid ride. Disney’s original time tables for the expansion were Fall 2012, so I figured it would definitely be open in November.

    But then the time tables got pushed back. The official opening became “holidays 2012″. There still seemed like a chance the expansion would be open. And then the date was announced. It was after our trip. Soft openings were our only hope. I had to tell Josie that I couldn’t guarantee we would get in.

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    Josie took the news well. Frankly, the expansion meant more to me than it did to the kids. She told me she was sure when the cast members saw the girls’ smiling faces, they would let us in. Well, I don’t think their smiles had anything to do with it, but we were in.

    [​IMG]

    Better still, the line was moving fast! I barely had time to take in the time-wasting game that was spread throughout the queue. The posted wait time was 15 minutes. But our actual wait was approximately 5 minutes.

    The ride is what it is. It’s a relatively modest little dark ride. Josie enjoyed it. But Kara was pretty shaken by the Ursula animatronic. I couldn’t have gotten her on the ride again if I had wanted to.

    Since the wait was so short, we still had some time before we had to leave for dinner. I dragged the girls to Ariel’s Grotto. Kara liked meeting Ariel, but really wanted to see her in her mermaid form. So, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass.

    [​IMG]

    The wait to meet Ariel was longer than the wait for the ride. I was starting to wonder if we would have time. We would almost certainly be late for our dinner reservations. But I hoped not by much.

    The wait was worth it. Kara was in awe to see the Little Mermaid in all her glory. Since Josie was wearing her Merida nightgown, Ariel told her that Merida was trying to teach her archery. Only, since she isn’t familiar with human terms, she didn’t remember what to call a bow and arrow. So she called it a “wisha-ma-bob”.

    On our way to and from the Little Mermaid section of the expansion, we saw the Beauty and the Beast areas. Gaston was standing in front of his tavern, but we didn’t have time to visit. Beast’s castle looked great off in the distance.

    As we left, the expansion was empty. Gaston was no longer greeting guests. But there were no guests left to greet. Castmembers were turning folks away. It appeared as though we made it in during a relatively narrow window.

    We made our way to the park entrance as quickly as possible. As it turns out, the Halloween Party was getting ready to start and cast members were ushering regular guests out of the park.

    It was actually kind of cool. We got to see the lights change on Main Street for the Halloween party. But Kara didn’t like the booming introduction by Ooogie Boogie. This confirmed for me that we had made the right choice skipping the party this year.

    Dinner was at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort which was a short monorail ride away. However, since the park was emptying out, the monorails were a madhouse. In the confusion, we somehow ended up on the wrong side of the monorails. A castmember helped us walk through a stopped monorail to the correct side.

    Once we got on the right side, the Avengerail pulled up. Pretty cool! We took the Avengers-wrapped monorail to the Contemporary. When we got there, we were fashionably late.

    Once we were seated, our waiter explained the set-up. It’s a standard Disney buffet, but he explained how the characters made their rounds from table to table. The room we were being seated in was already full of characters. But they had all passed our table.
    According to our waiter, we had about 10 minutes until Pluto showed up at our table. But someone made a special stop at our table before leaving the room.

    [​IMG]
    Since I wasn’t expecting him to stop by our table, I was completely unprepared for Donald Duck. So I scambled to get the autograph books ready, grab my camera, remove the lens cap, find the pens, etc. ​
    You have to open the books to the next blank page and have the pen ready to go. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re not ready it can take some time to get organized. Donald leaned on our table and started tapping his fingers impatiently. The girls thought this was hysterical.​
    [​IMG]
    After Donald left our table, we had just enough time to grab some food before Pluto arrived. Josie has a Pluto pen which always gets a big reaction out of the big yellow dog. But this time, Pluto launched into a very excited dance when he saw his face on the pen.​
    [​IMG]

    After Pluto came Minnie Mouse who made a small fuss over Kara’s Minnie Mouse dress.

    [​IMG]

    After Minnie, we saw Chef Mickey himself. He was cracking the girls up. He kept getting their noses. Since they were tired and slap happy, they laughed their heads off every time.

    [​IMG]

    Mickey seemed to be loving the response because he just kept getting them over and over.

    [​IMG]

    And last but not least, Goofy stopped by our table. Having met the Fab 5, we started to settle into our meals. I put away the autograh books and focused on eating. The girls were having fun making their own sundaes and I had a little sampler plate of desserts. The clear winner in my opinion was the carrot cake. Yum!

    [​IMG]

    Then who should come back to our table but Donald Duck. This was totally unexpected. I had packed everything up! I scrambled to pull out my camera for some more pictures. But once again, the duck had caught me unprepared.

    I apologized to Donald for keeping him waiting a second time. He pointed to his eyes and then to me. He was keeping an eye on me! Donald Duck had put me on notice.

    [​IMG]

    We had a lot of meet and greets this trip. But Donald was the star. He had us rolling at Chef Mickey’s.

    My original plan had been to return to our room after dinner. But my mom wanted to get to Downtown Disney for some shopping. And since the park closed early, this would be one of our best opportunities to do so. Also, Josie still hadn’t found anything she liked at any of the gift shops. So we caught a bus to Downtown Disney.

    [​IMG]

    In 2010, Josie had a great time “playing in the laundry” as she called it. So we had to stop and take a few pictures here.

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    It was a little funny because the Magic Kingdom was still decorated for Halloween but Downtown Disney was made up for Christmas. How often do you see Halloween and Christmas decorations in the same night?

    Mom wanted to go into the Christmas store and bought an ornament. The girls were getting tired and I was exhausted from lugging Kara around. So we decided to wrap things up quickly.

    I asked Josie what she wanted from the gift shop. She decided on a Duffy bear. So, we went to Once Upon a Toy. I bought Josie a Duffy. Kara picked out a Tinkerbell. My mom bought Josie an outfit for her Duffy since she had already bought Kara a Rapunzel crown earlier that morning.

    With all our shopping done (for now), we headed back to our resort. The first full day of our trip was over.
     
  8. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    The next morning, Hollywood Studios opened at 8:00 am. I had hoped to be at the bus station by 7:30, but we were running late. We got to the station by 7:40, but our rotten luck with morning buses persisted. We didn’t get on a bus until after 8:00. Thankfully, Art of Animation is very close to Hollywood Studios. So we still managed to make it to the park early enough for the standby line on Toy Story Mania.

    [​IMG]

    I didn’t know whether or not the girls would like Toy Story Mania. Josie had enjoyed it in 2010. But for whatever reason, she and Kara had decided they didn’t want to ride it this trip. I think the fact that it had guns made them think it would be scary. I thought about getting FastPasses so we could ride again later. But I decided to wait to make sure everyone enjoyed the ride.

    [​IMG]
    Even at 8:10, Toy Story Mania had a line. But it was moving pretty fast. I had never waited in the standby line for Toy Story Mania before. So this was my first time seeing the Mr. Potato Head animatronic. When we first arrived, he was going through his morning warm ups. But by the time we got to him, he was fully operational.​
    [​IMG]

    As we boarded our ride vehicles, I heard someone telling a cast member that some of the games weren’t working. Sure enough, the army men and Bullseye games were malfunctioning. In spite of that, everyone had a great time riding. I’m trying to remember who won. Oh yeah. That’s right. I crushed everyone else.

    [​IMG]

    Mindy is majorly competitive. The only thing she hates more than losing is losing to me. She usually beats me on video games. It’s actually quite embarrassing. So I think she assumed she would hold the high score on Toy Story Mania. But no, victory was mine. I savored it.

    I asked if anyone wanted to ride again. Everyone did, so I got FastPasses for later.

    [​IMG]


    After Toy Story, we headed over to Mindy’s favorite ride in Disney World, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Kara couldn’t ride, so we got a Child Swap pass. Mindy, Mom and Josie went off to ride while Kara and I hung out on a nearby bench.

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    Among our supplies were filtered bottles of water and left over Halloween candy. So Kara relaxed with a Reese’s Cup while we waited. She passed the time by singing every Disney princess song she knew. Which, by my count, was about three songs. Roughly three lines of each song. But it was a spirited sing-along.

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    She didn’t mind the wait at all.

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    Thanks to our Child Swap pass, two people could ride again with me while someone waited with Kara. But Mom and Josie weren’t big fans of the Tower. So Mindy and I rode alone. As always, it was a great time.

    When we exited the ride, Mindy decided she wanted a smoothie. Unfortunately, the stand near the Tower didn’t take snack credits. Mindy went ahead and got one frozen drink. But we decided not to pay for anything else out-of-pocket until we had burned through some of our snack credits. We were building up a stockpile.

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    After Tower of Terror, we hopped on to Rock’n'Rollercoaster. My mom wasn’t too keen on a roller coaster with inversions and a propulsion launch. So she waited with Kara again. We sort of tricked/bribed Josie into riding. She didn’t like it. I know this because at the first inversion she yelled very loudly “I don’t like this!”

    I didn’t buy that ride photo. I was never more thankful for Rock’n'Rollercoaster’s incredibly short ride time.

    [​IMG]

    After riding the two biggest thrill rides in the park, we decided to take a little break. The girls were getting hungry, so they got some Mickey pretzels. We had a little time before our Toy Story FastPasses came online, so the girls took a little break.

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    Somehow this erupted into dancing.

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    It was an extremely silly dance.

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    While the girls worked off some energy, I ran over to Star Tours and picked up some FastPasses. When I got back, it was just about time to ride Toy Story Mania again.

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    This time, all the games were working. Once again, I was victorious. Mindy plotted her revenge, I’m sure.

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    After our Toy Story repeat, we made our way over to Star Tours. Mindy waited with Kara while Josie, Mom and I rode. All of us enjoyed the new Star Tours. After the intense thrill rides this morning, Star Tours was exciting without scaring anyone.

    It was just about time for our break. Originally, I had planned to grab lunch in the park. Mom was taking the kids back to the hotel by herself today and I didn’t want to saddle her with the task of feeding them. But, no one was especially hungry after the giant Mickey-shaped pretzels.

    So, we decided to check out one of Josies favorites, the Great Movie Ride. It had been a walk-on all morning. But when we got there, the line was unusually long. Kara looked up and said she had to go potty. She says this a lot, so the key is determining when she really means it. This time, she had a look of panic on her face and was doing what I call the “potty dance”. So I knew to take it seriously.

    Mindy took Kara potty and was glad we listened. Had we stayed in line, I am told, it would not have been pretty.

    Since no one was ready for lunch, we went ahead and took our afternoon break. Mom took the girls back to the Art of Animation via bus. And Mindy and I took a friendship boat to the Dolphin Resort. We had a couples message scheduled at the Mandara Spa.
     
  9. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    When we left off, we had spent the morning at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We had ridden Toy Story Mania twice, knocked out both of the park’s big thrill rides and capped it off with Star Tours. Mom was taking the kids back to the hotel for a break and Mindy and I were headed to the Dolphin Resort for a couples massage at the Manara Spa.

    Aside from our first day, we had been really unlucky with regards to bus service this trip. A 20 minute wait is supposed to be the worst case scenario. And yet, we seemed to be running into them with alarming frequency. But when it came to the Friendship Boats to and from the Dolphin Resort, we were incredibly lucky. There was a boat waiting for us when we arrived at the dock.

    Since we had a little extra time and we hadn’t eaten yet, we decided to grab a bite to eat. We ended up at The Fountain for a little pre-massage ice cream. I had a peanut butter and jelly milk shake and Mindy had a carmel apple pie sundae which was exactly what it sounds like. A piece of apple pie with a carmel sundae on top of it. I had to help out with that one.

    We contemplated walking over to the Boardwalk. But I thought it would be better just to head straight to the spa so we didn’t have to worry about making it back in time for our appointment. The spa had requested that we check in 15 minutes early and that we should make use of their facilities.

    I imagine 95% of people reading this trip report are reading primarily for the “cute kid” pictures. So I won’t bore you with too many details of Mom and Dad’s Spa Date. But this was a completely new experience for me. I’m a simple guy with simple tastes. I’m not the “luxurious spa treatment” type.

    When we checked in, Mindy and I were ushered into our respective locker rooms. I was given a locker which contained a robe and a pair of slippers. There was a note indicating that I should make use of the shower and other facilities. I decided to try to get the most out of this experience. So I did everything.

    The shower was unlike any I had ever used before. The shower head was the size of a hub cap. The water came down like rain. Afterwards, I shaved because they had shaving stuff laid out. And if you lay out shaving stuff, I’m going to use it. The same went for the paper shot glasses of mouth wash.

    Once I had used every facility offered in the locker room, I exited into the “relaxation chamber”. This was a huge Asian-themed room with a pagoda in the middle. They were serving citrus water and honey-ginsing tea. I am not a tea drinker, but I sampled it anyway. It was delicious.

    Mindy was there waiting for me. I suspect she had been there for quite a while. Apparently she didn’t take the same “if it’s there, I’m using it” approach to the locker room. There was another older couple there as well. We sat under the pagoda and waited for our turn in relative silence.

    As I mentioned before, this was my first massage experience. I’ve never been overly comfortable with the idea of being rubbed down by a stranger. But Mindy loves getting massages, so I agreed to give it a shot. Even so, I had my reservations about the entire affair.

    I like to think I’m a fairly progressive guy. But I will admit I breathed a sigh of relief when the girl at the check-in desk told us our masseuses both had female names; Joy and Carla. Call me old-fashioned, but I wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of a male masseuse. I know, I’m stupid.

    Then our masseuses entered the room. A pretty blonde girl and a guy who looked like Billy Blanks.

    [​IMG]

    The pretty blonde, Joy, introduce herself to Mindy. Tae Bo introduced himself to me as Carlo. I realized that I had two choices. I could get comfortable with this idea really fast or I could make a run for the front door in my hotel robe.

    I quickly got my head in a good place and enjoyed the massage. A couple of days of hard core theme park touring had left me sore. We had bags of supplies to cart around. And any time Kara wasn’t in her stroller, she insisted on being held. I doubt that kid walked more than six feet the entire time we were there.

    I haven’t really been converted by my massage experience. But it was something different. And Mindy enjoyed it quite a bit which was the point.

    We met Mom and the girls back at the Art of Animation Resort. We were relaxed and refreshed, but the girls were tired and cranky. They wanted to go swimming. I had taken them swimming the day before and planned to take them swimming again the next day. So, I nixed that idea.

    I looked at the showtime information for Hollywood Studios and realized we had to get moving. Kara had been excluded from much of our morning activities due to her height. So I wanted to make sure we did some things for her.

    There were three things I had originally planned to do for Kara. One was the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show. But after the Little Mermaid ride had scared Kara, I decided to skip the Mermaid show. It featured an even bigger and scarier version of Ursula.

    That left the Playhouse Disney Jr. show and a meet and greet with Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Also, Josie had mentioned she really wanted to meet Wreck It Ralph. When I looked at the show schedule, all of those events were ending soon. Given our recent bad luck with Disney buses, I wanted to make sure we allowed enough time to get there before Jake and company did their last meet.

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    We got to the Playhouse Disney Jr. building with time to spare. Jake was there with almost no wait to see him. Kara immediately lit up. She had been waiting for this. As soon as we were done, she asked to go see Jake’s friends, Izzy and Cubby.

    Izzy and Cubby don’t do meet and greets like Jake. But they do appear in puppet form in the Playhouse Disney Jr. Show. So, we headed for the entrance. When we got there, we were told that they had just closed the doors for the 5:00 show. There was one last show for the day at 5:40. I made a mental note.

    With 40 minutes to kill, we headed for the nearby Magic of Disney Animation building. There were several meet and greets going on in there; Sorcerer Mickey, Frozone and Mr. Incredible and Wreck It Ralph and… some girl with candy in her hair.

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    Just before we left for the trip, I asked Josie what she wanted to do most. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. She surprised me when she told me her #1 must-do was to see Wreck It Ralph. The reason was that he was the newest character at Walt Disney World. Fair enough.

    However, when she saw the giant character in person, she had second thoughts. Kara just flat-out refused. I told her she didn’t have to see Ralph if she didn’t want to.

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    The line to see Ralph was short, but it was moving slowly. In front of us were a bunch of kids in their early 20s by my estimation. They were all dressed up as characters from the movie. Their costumes were pretty elaborate. The girls all had candy in their hair. They were extremely excited to see Ralph and What’s-Her-Name.

    Josie asked me what the name of the girl was. I had a vague idea that she was named Vanellope, but I had no idea how to pronounce it. Like envelope? I asked the kids in the elaborate costumes. They corrected me. It’s pronounced like Penelope. Ah, that makes more sense. Something told me they would know.

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    It was finally time for the excited 20-somethings to meet with Ralph and Vanellope. I am going to venture a guess that these guys were off duty Disney cast members. Because when they had their meet and greet, they were treated like celebrities.

    We were waiting in the wings for our turn. I was getting the autograph book ready, checking the pen, taking the lens cap off my camera, grabbing the Photopass card. When I looked up, there were three or four cast members gathered taking pictures on their own cameras of the kids in their costumes. That’s in addition to the Photopass photographer.

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    Their meet and greet actually took a very long time. But it clearly meant a lot to them.

    Ralph didn’t sign Josie’s autograph book. If you look at his giant hands, you’ll quickly understand why. There’s no way he could hold a pen. Josie asked me about this. She’s on the edge of figuring out the truth about Disney characters. I think deep down, she already knows. But she wills herself to go on believing. It’s more fun that way.
    This is probably the last trip for that. So I made sure to enjoy it.

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    We still had some time to kill before the Playhouse Disney Jr. show started. The kids were still tired and cranky. So I decided to let them blow off some steam. They really enjoyed the interactive exhibits in the Magic of Disney Animation building.

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    This allowed the rest of us to kick back and relax a little while the girls had fun. I could already feel the soreness creeping back into my arms and legs carrying Kara around.

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    Josie took part in some kind of art class that basically consisted of coloring pictures sketched by an artist. She quickly colored some cute drawings of Chip and Dale.
    We left plenty of time to see the 5:40 showing of Playhouse Disney Jr. But when we arrived, we were informed that the 5:00 show had been cancelled due to technical issues. We could wait in line, but there was no guarantee the 5:40 show would happen.

    Since Kara hadn’t gotten to do a lot today, we decided to wait in line for the show. By 5:35, we still weren’t seated. I took that as a sign that the show wasn’t going to happen. And sure enough at 5:40 they announced the show had been cancelled. I was disappointed, but at least Kara had gotten to meet Jake. She didn’t seem to mind.

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    We had a little over an hour to kill before dinner. So, we decided to take in the Great Movie Ride. This was one of Josie’s favorites last trip. In 2010, she rode it three times. Kara did too, but she was too young to know what was going on.

    This time, Kara understood. And she didn’t like it. As soon as the gunfire started during the mob scene, she grabbed my arm. She was on edge for the remaining 15 minutes. Room after room had something scary in it. She finally started to relax a little in Munchkinland, but then the witch showed up.

    I spent the entire ride keeping Kara calm. She never freaked out, but she definitely didn’t enjoy it. I think everyone else enjoyed it well enough.

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    From there, it was off to Muppetvision. We stopped to find the key under the matt because I am a psycho who knows to look there and insists on doing it every single time.
    Everyone enjoyed Muppetvision 3-D. Even Kara. Which was good because there really hadn’t been much for her so far today.

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    After Muppetvision, we made our way to the 50s Prime Time Cafe for dinner. We were running a little late, but I still made time to stop at the well in front of the Indiana Jones show and pull the rope. The girls were startled and amazed. I pulled it again. I asked Josie if she wanted to try. Nope. Too freaky. We continued on our way.

    We have eaten at the 50′s Prime Time Cafe every single trip since our honeymoon. It has become a family tradition by accident. We debated skipping this year and trying something new. But ultimately, we decided to come back again.

    We were quickly seated in a back room with two other tables. The guy who called our name was hysterically funny. I can’t remember what he said, but I remember he cracked me up.

    Our waitress was funny too. She played up the part a little more than what we had experienced in the past. A little girl at the table next to ours refused to clean her plate. So our waitress made her bring me my drink refill.

    The family at the third table in the room actively antagonized her. It took me a while to determine whether or not they were playing around. But eventually it became obvious that they were. Our waitress rose to the occasion. In fact, other people’s waitresses came in to fight with this guy. It was quite a dinner show.

    While we waited on our food, the girls were coloring. They only had three colors; red, green and blue. Kara wanted yellow, so I went to look at some of the empty tables. They all had the same colors. One of the waitresses asked if she could help me. I told her I was looking for a yellow crayon. She told me they didn’t have any because “Dad was getting cheap.”

    I noticed Josie was coloring very strangely. I soon realized that she was keeping her elbows off the table even while she colored. I assured her that she would not be given a hard time. But she kept her elbows off the table just in case.

    The girls got their choice of soup or salad with their meals. When our waitress asked Kara which one she wanted, Kara said “yes.” The waitress acted exasperated and asked which one she wanted. Kara thought about it for a while and said “yes” again. Finally, we got her to commit to the soup. Josie ordered salad.

    Later, when the guy at the third table was giving our waitress a hard time, she exlaimed that she would rather deal with the “soup and salad girl making up her mind.” Kara had no idea she was included in the joke. By this point, she was devouring her soup. I aksed her if she liked it. “No,” she said very matter-of-factly.

    “Really?” I asked. “Because you’re eating it very well.”

    “It’s not very good,” she assured me between hearty spoonfuls. She finished it all the same.

    Mindy and my mom ordered the sampler platters. I got my old favorite, the pot roast. The kids each got mac and cheese. Josie cleaned her plate which very rarely happens. At first, I thought it was because she enjoyed her meal. But soon, I realized she was extra motivated out of fear of being made fun of by our waitress.

    When she was done, she put her empty plates in front of me. But later, she decided she wanted credit for finishing her meal. So she took the plates back and stacked them in front of her.

    Mindy didn’t even come close to finishing her meal. Fortunately for her, Table #3 was making a big target out of itself by that point. So she got off the hook easily.
    For dessert, I had the Dad’s Brownie Sundae. I swear that thing gets bigger every year. The kids helped me with the toppings. Josie ate every bit of carmel corn off my plate. Even with help, I couldn’t quite finish it.

    Mindy got the s’mores which she finished by herself (I think). She always gets the s’mores. The girls got sundaes with their kids’ meals. They finished those and moved on to mine. My mom got the Boston Cream Parfait at the recommendation of our waitress. She loved it and finished every bite. Based on her reaction, I think I may have to give it a try next time.

    After dinner, we had a little time to kill before Fantasmic! My mom and Mindy still had some shopping to do. So they stopped into some of the shops while I waited outside. Once they had made their purchases, we headed off to the show.

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    Missing Fantasmic! has also been a family tradition for us. But I was determined to break that tradition this year.

    We were quickly seated in the gigantic auditorium. Kara fell asleep immediately which was probably for the best. While she would have enjoyed the princesses on the barges, a lot of the show would have scared her. Josie enjoyed the show, but she was tired too and I think it was a little long for her.

    I’m glad we finally got to see Fantasmic!, but I don’t think I would make an effort to see it again.
     
  10. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    \
    [​IMG]

    When we left off, we had finished Day 3 of our trip at Hollywood Studios. It was a fun day that included family traditions like dinner at the 50′s Prime Time Cafe and new experiences like Fantasmic! But I couldn’t help but notice that we had hit a wall. The kids were tired and occasionally crabby. And the adults were sore from walking and carrying Kara. We needed to slow down a little.


    It was a good day to ease up a little. Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, we were going to get an extra hour of sleep. So I made the risky decision not to set an alarm. We were going to “sleep in”. Or at least allow for the possibility of sleeping in.

    I had been setting my alarm for 6am every morning. After my shower, I’d wake Mindy and start preparing the things we would need. Once Mindy and I were prepared, we would wake and prepare the kids. Thanks to some long waits for buses, we were not making it to the parks by rope drop, but we weren’t far behind either.

    This morning, we “slept in” till close to 7:00 am. This probably doesn’t sound like sleeping in, but remember that it was actually 8:00 am pre time-change. So it was 2 hours later than when we were used to getting up. Animal Kingdom had Extra Magic Hours at 8:00 which I had planned to attend. But we decided to take things easy this morning.

    Josie had gotten it in her head that she needed to have Mickey waffles during the trip. Since we didn’t have any table service breakfasts scheduled, that would mean hitting up a quick service location for breakfast. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have the best breakfast options, so we decided to grab breakfast at the Landscape of Flavors food court.

    Landscape of Flavors doesn’t offer Mickey waffles. But they had suitable alternatives. The menu includes “character waffles” which are essentially the same except instead of being shaped like Mickey Mouse they are circular and have the images of characters from Art of Animation on them. Also, they have chocolate chip pancakes.

    Josie wanted the chocolate chip pancakes. Kara didn’t really care. I had wanted to try out some of the fancier breakfast offerings. But we had to rethink our plans when we got to the food court. The lines were insane at 7:30. And they were getting worse by the second.

    Of course the worst line of all was the line for chocolate chip pancakes. I don’t think it was the pancakes that were backing things up. Pancakes take relatively little time to prepare. But this was also the line for higher-end breakfast items like the steak and eggs sandwich. I think those made-to-order sandwiches were the cause of the backlog.

    Since the line for waffles was relatively light, I decided to hop in line there. I got Kara an order of character waffles. They had two Little Mermaid waffles ready, so I asked for those. I brought them back to the table and Kara was excited. I showed them to Josie and told her I could get her waffles or wait for chocolate chip pancakes. She decided to settle for the waffles rather than wait.

    We all decided to got the waffle route. The lines for everything else just kept getting longer and longer. The waffles were good, but Mindy and Josie aren’t especially fond of waffles (unless they are shaped like Mickey Mouse of course).

    After breakfast, we hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom. I had really hoped to get to the park before general admission started. It wasn’t that I expected to make great use out of what remained of the Extra Magic Hour. I just didn’t want to deal with the crowds at rope drop.

    No such luck. We got there right when rope drop was starting. It was slow going. It was crowded. Kara was demanding to be held. I couldn’t wait to go in and get our rental stroller. I sure wish Disney would station these just outside the park gates. I understand why they can’t, but it would make life so much easier.

    We finally got admitted and picked up our stroller. As soon as we did, we realized that we would need to make a pit stop for a potty break. That took us towards Dinoland. I had planned to go in the opposite direction for an early morning safari, but Dinoland worked too.

    [​IMG]

    That’s when we saw Dug and Russel from Up. Josie didn’t have any business to do and Kara wasn’t interested in this meet and greet. So we split up. I stayed with Josie while we met Dug and Russel and everyone else went to the nearby restrooms.

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    After the first picture, I asked for one more. This time, I called out, “Everyone say ‘squirrel’.” This got Dug’s attention.

    [​IMG]

    No, not the most original gag, I’m sure. Poor Dug must do this dozens of times a day. But it’s not like you can meet Dug and not say “squirrel”. The girls still think it’s funny. Kara talks about it even though she wasn’t there at the time.

    The meet and greet timed out perfectly with the potty break. We all regrouped. Kara announced she wanted to play in a playground which was convenient because The Boneyard was a short walk away. Mindy and I wanted to ride Dinosaur, so my mom watched the girls while we traveled back in time. On the way, I stopped and got FastPasses for Primeval Whirl.

    The last time I rode Dinosaur was 2003 and I had very low expectations. So I was pleasantly surprised. I wondered why more people weren’t excited about this ride. I wanted to reride it to see if it was actually under-rated or if I was over-rating it based on my low expectations.

    I’m sad to report that the final verdict was that I had over-rated Dinosaur. It’s a fun ride, but with so many effects broken or turned off it feels a little empty. There are long stretches where you are just bouncing around in the dark. I still like the ride, but I won’t go out of my way to re-ride it any time soon.

    When we got back from our ride, Mom and the girls were leaving The Boneyard. It turns out that one of the growling sound effects had spooked Kara. So, they were done playing in the playground.

    The Boneyard presents parents (and grandparents) with a difficult choice. You can either climb through the tunnels with your kids or wait for them at ground level. The climbs aren’t easy on grown-ups. But if you wait at the bottom, you won’t be able to see your kids at least half the time. Apparently my mom followed the girls around the playground. That can’t have been easy.

    We decided to split up again. This time, Mom and Mindy went to ride Dinosaur while I entertained the girls. They wouldn’t go back into the playground after hearing those Dinosaur noises. So instead, we made our way to Triceratops Spin.

    [​IMG]

    The reappearance of Josie’s bunny ears.

    Yes, Triceratops Spin is just a Dumbo clone. Only instead of the iconic elephant, you get a generic cute dinosaur. But frankly, there wasn’t much else that both girls could do.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, Kara had some reservations going in. We have a “spinner” ride at our home amusement park which she refused to ride all summer long. So, she wasn’t too sure about riding this one.

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    But it didn’t take long for her to decided that Triceratops Spin was in fact the best thing ever. Fortunately for me, the line was non-existent because we wound up riding this thing again and again until Mindy and my mom got back from Dinosaur.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually I was even able to sit in the back while the girls rode up front. Thrill junkies that they are, they threw their hands up in the air. Triceratops Spin is extreme when you’re three I guess.

    We rode four times in a row before Mom and Mindy returned. By then, it was time to use our Primeval Whirl FastPasses.

    [​IMG]

    Kara was too small to ride and Mindy doesn’t do rides that spin. So that left Josie, Mom and me. None of us had ever ridden it before. It was fine for what it was. But we got a pretty nasty whiplash right at the end. The thrill level was just right for Josie. But for Mom and me, once was enough.

    While riding Dinosaur, my Mom and Mindy had concocted a plan for the afternoon break. They wanted to go to Downtown Disney for some more shopping. The girls wanted to go swimming, so we decided I would take the kids back to the resort while they spent the afternoon in the retail district.

    Also, Kara really wanted to see a parade. As I mentioned earlier, she loves watching parade videos at home. We saw some of the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade at the Magic Kingdom. But apparently that had only whetted her appetite to see a parade.

    We decided to take our break a little earlier than usual. Finding Nemo: the Musical was getting ready to start. So we decided to take in the show and then split up for the afternoon. We would meet up at a pre-determined spot after Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade.

    Finding Nemo: the Musical was also a new experience for us. We had tried to get in during our last trip to Animal Kingdom in 2007. But back then the show was new and the waits to see it were crazy. The show itself is a little on the long side, but everyone enjoyed it.

    After the show, we exited the park. On the way out, we picked the Info Board as our meeting spot to regroup after the parade. Mom and Mindy went off to Downtown Disney for shopping and lunch at Wolfgang Pucks. I took the girls back to the Art of Animation Resort.

    On our previous pool day, we swam at the Big Blue Pool in teh Finding Nemo section of the resort. This time, we decided to check out the Flippin’ Fins Pool in the Little Mermaid section.

    The biggest difference between the pools is size and location. The Big Blue Pool is huge and centrally located. As a result, it is filled with kids. And the pool-side activities guarantee a lively atmosphere. On the other hand, the Flippin’ Fins Pool is small and relatively isolated. It’s definitely the place to go for a quiet swim.

    The girls would have stayed in the pool all day if I had let them. But eventually, I rounded them up and we went back to the room to change. Given our bad luck with buses, I wanted to make sure I left enough time for us to get back to the Animal Kingdom before the parade started.
     
  11. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    [​IMG]
    When we left off, Mindy and my mom had departed for a shopping excursion at Downtown Disney. I took the girls back to the Art of Animation Resort for a pool break at the Flippin’ Fins Pool. The plan was to meet up at Animal Kingdom after Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade.​

    I didn’t want to run any risk of being late for the parade, so I took the girls to the bus stop early. In my haste, I forgot my camera. Fortunately, my Windows phone takes pretty decent pictures. So the evening would not go completely undocumented.

    We had spent the morning primarily in Dinoland in Animal Kingdom. While we were there, Kara decided she wanted to get her face painted. I can only assume she saw some other kids with painted faces. She was also very determined to see a parade. So, those were our priorities.

    Josie’s priority was to visit a gift shop. But that was always Josie’s priority.

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    When I picked up the rental stroller, I asked where was the nearest place for face painting. I was directed back to Dinoland. This wasn’t surprising since that is most likely where the idea got planted in Kara’s head in the first place.

    We started heading back to Dinoland. I figured we had just enough time for face painting before the parade started. But then, I noticed the taped off parade route and the crowd starting to gather around it. We were near a shaded structure and some cast members had brought out some hula hoops.

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    Our previous parade experience this trip was the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Parade at the Magic Kingdom. Our view had been obstructed and Kara had deemed the experience unsatisfactory. So I was determined to get a better viewing spot this time.

    I told the girls we would do face painting after the parade. Josie wasn’t especially happy with the idea, but she liked the hula hoops and got involved with that. I parked the stroller right on the edge of the taped-off parade route and we waited.

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    Kara could not do the hula hoop. But it was not for lack of trying.
    A pretty decent crowd started to build up for the parade. I pulled the kids over and sat them in their comfy curbside stroller. They had prime seats for the show.

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    There was a family nearby with English accents. Their kids were standing behind me and probably couldn’t see the parade very well. I told them they could step in front of me to see the parade better. After a few floats, the little boy turned around and told his dad, “This is good, it is.”

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    My kids seemed to agree. Kara in particular was waving enthusiastically as the characters passed by. When we watch parade videos at home, she loves it when the characters wave directly at her (the camera).

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    Part of the appeal of the parade is naming the characters (and animals in this case) as soon a possible. It’s kind of like Name That Tune except with Disney characters. Kara and Josie raced to shout out the names of each character as soon as they became visible.

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    We didn’t get any personal visits from any of the characters. But some of the other parade walkers paid special attention to the girls. A stilt walker said, “Hi, princesses” directly to them. I could practically hear Kara swell with pride.

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    I’ve always felt like Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade was slightly under-rated. It’s lively, visually interesting, filled with characters and the music is catchy. It’s good, it is.
    As it turns out, my mom and Mindy had returned from their shopping expedition just in time to catch the parade just a little ways away. So we all met up and headed off for face painting.

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    Kara was wearing her Aurora dress. This made her decision of which design to choose very simple. They had a sleeping beauty princess design which matched her dress perfectly.

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    Josie was wearing a blue Merida nightgown. They didn’t have anything Merida-related. So she chose a blue Ariel-inspired design.

    Mom and Mindy had eaten lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s at Downtown Disney. But the girls and I had skipped lunch. We were full from a large breakfast. But as the afternoon was rolling in, we were starting to get hungry. Dinner was still a ways off and I knew we would need something to tie us over.

    While the girls were getting their faces painted, I scanned the area for snacks. I saw a snack cart that offered cinnamon-glazed nuts. I had never tried these before, but I had heard good things. Since we had an abundance of snack credits, I got an order. They were warm and tasty.

    When the girls were done, I let them sample my snack. Kara basically claimed it as her own which was fine by me. Josie didn’t really like them. So I needed to get her something to tide her over till dinner.

    We passed an ice cream cart. The answer was clear. A Mickey Bar was as iconic a treat as the Mickey Waffle Josie had missed for breakfast. She leapt at the opportunity.
    I asked Kara if she wanted one too, but she was stuffing her face with pecans and said “no”. Until she saw it. As soon as she saw Josie’s Mickey Bar, she changed her mind. I ordered another.

    From there, we headed to the other side of the park for Kilimanjaro Safari. I had intended this to be our first ride of the day, but somehow it kept getting delayed. By the time we got there, Kara was a chocolate and vanilla mess. Mindy and my mom double teamed her to get her cleaned up.

    As we approached Kilimanjaro Safari, I saw cast members standing at the entrance. I was worried. Something was wrong.

    The ride was closing early due to daylight savings time. The cast members explained that the last safari would be leaving soon and if we wanted to ride we should queue up immediately. We did.

    On the upside, the ride was a walk-on. However, since it was late, a lot of the animals were already back in their pens. The ones we saw came very close. We got a great look at some black rhinos and zebras. But the lions were a no-show. So, not a great safari. But at least we squeezed it in.

    After the safari, we had just enough time to squeeze in the last showing of The Festival of the Lion King. I rounded the girls up in the stroller and hightailed it to Camp Minnie Mickey. We made it just in time.

    I hadn’t seen Festival of the Lion King since 2003 and I have to admit it was better than I remembered. The only other time I saw it, my expectations were set too high and I was mildly disappointed. But this time, everyone enjoyed it.

    After the show, we headed to the Yak and Yeti where we had dinner reservations. This was one of the few new dining experiences I had scheduled on this trip and I was looking forward to trying something new.

    Most of the reviews I read for Yak and Yeti had been positive. So, I was hoping to discover an under-rated gem. And I’m happy to report, I believe that is the case here. Foodwise, Yak and Yeti was my favorite meal of the trip.

    The atmosphere isn’t quite as little-kid friendly as Chef Mickey’s or the castle. But it’s still pretty cool. It’s a big double-decker restaurant and every room is filled with exotic (or exotic-looking) trinkets. I felt like I was at some far-off location in Asia.

    When it came time to order, I asked the waitress for her suggestion. She recommended the steak and shrimp. I was kind of leaning in this direction anyway, so I tried it. And I was not disappointed. It was very good.

    Mindy got the sweet and sour chicken. I think the kids got burgers which they didn’t really eat. They mostly loaded up on rice. Mom ordered the salmon which was also recommended by our waitress. Mom said it was really good, but she would come to regret that selection later.

    As we were finishing our entrées, Kara looked up and said, “I don’t feel good”. When Kara says this, you have to take it seriously. She has an easily triggered gag reflex. And she tends to over-heat in the sun. I had been careful to keep her hydrated and in the shade most of the trip. But I think our day in the pool may have been too much for her.

    I picked her up and ran for the bathroom. Fortunately, I knew exactly where it was because she had asked to go potty earlier in the meal. Come to think of it, I learned the location of all the restrooms this trip. I don’t think I made it through a single meal without taking Kara potty.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t quite make it. Kara sprung a leak on the way to the restroom. My apologies to the staff and guests at the Yak and Yeti that night.

    When we got back to the table, our waitress suggested dessert to go. We all agreed this was an excellent idea. Unfortunately, the kids’ desserts wouldn’t travel. So they would have to go without. But we had lots of snacks back at the room if they wanted something sweet before bed.

    I ordered the fried won tons which I had heard so much about. They were in fact delicious. But I am sure they would have been better still if they had been eaten hot with less melty ice cream. Mindy ordered the cheesecake which she liked but could not finish. I sampled it. It was good.

    My mom ordered the chocolate pudding cake. She put it in the refrigerator for later. But she never got around to eating it. I eventually made the supreme sacrifice of eating it for her and it was great. If you’re a chocolate lover or the won tons just don’t appeal to you, this is a can’t miss chocolate cake.

    We turned in a little early that night thanks to Daylight Savings. I got the kids to bed just in time to watch The Walking Dead. Which was a little crazy given the surroundings.
     
  12. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I woke up really early this morning. A good 20 minutes or so before my alarm clock went off. I decided to make good use of my time. The previous day, we had attempted to get chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and were thwarted by long lines. So I made up my mind to beat the crowds this morning.​

    After my shower, I grabbed my refillable mug and walked down to the Landscape of Flavors food court. The sun hadn’t even come up yet. I vaguely remembered that the food court opened at 6 am. It was around 6:20, but I figured the lines wouldn’t be bad yet.

    When I arrived, there were no lines. The food court was open for “grab-and-go” purchases, but the stations didn’t open until 7. I had some time to kill. I filled my mug with the nasty Nescafe that Disney resorts serve and went for a stroll.

    Our afternoon pool breaks had taken me to three-fourths of the Art of Animation Resort. But I had yet to visit the Cars section. My girls don’t really have any interest in Cars, so it wasn’t worth taking them. But since I had time to kill before breakfast, I decided to go check it out myself.

    I have to say that as far as the exterior themes go, Cars wins hands-down. It is practically like a mini-Carsland minus the attractions. Really, really well done. The Finding Nemo area is a close second, but it has the advantage of the biggest swimming pool on property and a playground.

    Once I had walked the Cars section of Art of Animation, I headed back to Landscape of Flavors and refilled my mug. The old mugs held a lot more coffee! I had about 10 minutes left to kill, but I decided not to take any chances. I got in line at the pancake section.

    While I waited, I had some pleasant conversations with other resort guests. I’m not really the type to strike up conversations with strangers. But that’s one of the things I love about Disney World. There’s this attitude among guests that “we’re all in this together”. We are all having a great time. Everyone’s just a lot more friendly – myself included.

    Finally it was time. The pancake station opened. I got two orders of chocolate chip pancakes and a steak and eggs sandwich. The sandwich was for me. The pancakes were for the girls. We had skipped lunch yesterday so we had extra counter-service credits to burn.

    Here’s a helpful tip for people who use the dining plan. The chocolate chip pancakes were not on the children’s menu. But counter service credits all spend the same. If you don’t tell them that the meal is for a child, you won’t be limited to the child’s menu for your counter service credits.

    Josie is a picky eater, so I asked for the fruit topping on the side. In the promotional photos, the fruit topping on these pancakes is a heaping helping of fresh berries. But in reality, it’s more like a fruit salad. I was glad I got it on the side. Josie ate some of the fruit, but would not have eaten the pancakes with a scoop of fruit salad on them.

    I didn’t want to come back with breakfast without getting something for Mindy and Mom. They had both expressed interest in fruit smoothies while we were at Hollywood Studios. I knew I could get them for a snack credit and we had snack credits to burn. So I picked up two fruit smoothies.

    The girl at the register gave me a big plastic to-go bag so I could cart my breakfast haul back to the room. This is definitely the way to go! Especially in the suites where you have the nifty little dining area.

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    Here’s Kara sleeping in what she called “the magic bed” because it folds up into the wall.

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    And here we are a few minutes later having breakfast around the table. I’m not quite sure why Josie is eating pancakes with her hands. Anyway, Mom declined her smoothie. She said her stomach was upset. Josie was more than happy to volunteer to drink it.

    The “steak and eggs sandwich” I had ordered was basically a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on it. Don’t get me wrong, it was yummy. As were the side order of breakfast potatoes. But the fact remains that I had a bacon cheeseburger for breakfast that morning.

    We had a big day ahead of us, so I was excited to get an early start. Once everyone had finished their breakfast, we headed out to the bus stop. Before we even got to the elevator, Mom stopped. She said she didn’t think she could go with us this morning. He stomach was too upset.

    Down one member of our group, we headed off for our last full day at the Magic Kingdom. We still had a lot left to do at this park. We had taken care of our must-do rides on our first day at the Magic Kingdom. But there were still a few attractions we wanted to squeeze in. And two must-see meet and greets.

    Topping our list of meet and greets was Tinkerbell. Kara was wearing her Tinkerbell dress in anticipation of meeting the famous fairy. Tink’s meet and greet gets notoriously long lines as the day goes on. So it was our first stop of the day.

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    According to the schedule, Tinkerbell didn’t start meets until 9:15. So we planned to kill a little time in Adventureland first. Kara had enjoyed Triceratops Spin in Animal Kingdom the day before. So I thought we would ride the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and maybe the Jungle Cruise.

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    However, as we passed Tinkerbell’s Nook, a cast member called out to us. She probably saw Kara’s Tinkerbell dress and realized we would be in the market to meet with the fairies. Tink was meeting earlier than her scheduled appearance. We could go in with almost no wait. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity.

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    I started snapping pictures like I do. I have mentioned before that there is a bit of a scramble at meet and greets. You have autograph books and pens to deal with. The pens have to be clicked and the autograph books opened to the right page. Then there’s the Photopass card and the lens cap.

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    My point is that I’m not putting a lot of effort into my photography here as my pictures will attest. I’m basically snapping pictures as quickly as I can. Often times without even looking at what I am photographing. When I get home, I can sort through the hundreds of pictures and odds are I’ll find a few good ones.

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    But right after Tinkerbell signed the girls’ autograph books, the battery on my camera died. I had brought along an extra, but I didn’t want to hold everyone up while I changed my camera battery.

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    I had been on the fence about Photopass up to this point. But when I realized they would have pictures of the girls posing with Tink and I wouldn’t I more or less resolved myself to the idea that I would be buying the Photopass pictures. I just wished I had pre-ordered them. I came so close to doing so a few months before the trip.

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    Oh well. I’ll know for next time.

    Next up was Periwinkle. If you have Disney Fairies fans at home, you already know that Periwinkle is Tinkerbell’s sister.

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    She is a newly introduced character in the latest direct-to-video Tinkerbell DVD. I’m sure a lot of my readers without young kids have never heard of her before.

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    By this point, I had changed my camera batteries. So I was back to snapping pictures. But I had already missed the main event. Thank goodness for Photopass!

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    Since we were in Adventureland, we hopped on the Magic Carpets. Not long before our trip, Kara had become obsessed with Aladdin. And since we discovered she loved spinner rides, this was a no brainer.

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    My kids ride spinners like they are e-ticket thrill rides. Arms in the air like they just don’t care!

    Our next must-see meet and greet was with Merida. But she was over in Fantasyland and she didn’t start until 9:30. I checked the schedule and saw that “characters from Aladdin” would be meeting at 9:30 near the Magic Carpets.

    Since Kara loves Aladdin so much, I wanted to make sure we got a chance to see Jasmin. There was a good chance we would see her at breakfast on our final day, but I figured Kara would also get a kick out of seeing Aladdin. So we plan was to spend some time in Adventureland until Aladdin and Jasmin showed up.

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    Next up was the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise posts some long waits later in the day. But at this point, it was a walk-on. Kara wasn’t too sure she wanted to ride.

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    Josie had no such reservations.

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    I don’t remember our skipper’s name, but the kids loved him. He was energetic which is always a good trait in a Jungle Cruise skipper. When I flashed his picture, he complained that I had blinded him. In fairness, my camera has a very strong flash. At one point, he clung to the boat and screamed that we were all going to die. This went on and on. The girls laughed their heads off. They still talk about how funny he was.

    I know the Jungle Cruise is kind of lame. But we always have a great time on it.

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    Next up was Pirates of the Caribbean. Kara was pretty sure she was not going to like this ride. She got through it just fine. But when it was over, I asked if she liked it and she said “no”.

    When we boarded our boats, they were soaking wet. Every bit as wet as the flumes at Splash Mountain. And it was only 9:00. It turns out, they had made some minor alterations to Pirates.

    They had added the mermaids to the ride. I am told there are projections in the water, but we didn’t see them. We heard mermaids singing and saw a mermaid skeleton on the beach. But that was it.

    When we got to the big battle scene, all the effects seemed to be turned up a notch. The cannon fire boomed! We got blasted by air cannons. And the splashes were huge. The wet boat made sense. We got just as wet from the cannon splashes in Pirates as we did from the big drop in Splash Mountain.

    Hopefully, they tweak these changes. I don’t think anyone wants to get wet on Pirates of the Caribbean.
     
  13. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    [​IMG]
    When we left off, we had kicked off the final full day of our trip in Adventureland. My mom wasn’t feeling well and stayed back at the hotel. Our primary mission of the day was to finish off any and all remaining meet and greets. With Tinkerbell crossed off the list early, that left a parade of princesses.​
    After our early meeting with Tink and her sister, we were essentially killing time in Adventureland until Jasmin and Aladdin arrived. We finished up with Pirates of the Caribbean which everyone enjoyed except for Kara.

    Of course the ride exits through a gift shop. Roughly half the rides in Disney World do. Kara spotted a stuffed Izzy doll from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. She immediately said, “I want that.” I just kept walking. Kara saw something she wanted in every gift shop and she is pretty easily dissuaded (unlike her big sister).

    As predicted, Kara was fine walking out of the Pirates gift shop empty-handed. But when I turned around, I realized we were missing half of our group. A few minutes later, Mindy and Josie walked out of the gift shop with Kara’s Izzy doll in hand. Apparently, Mindy had been looking for one for a long time.

    Kara was pretty over-joyed with her new toy. So, it was worth it. We had bribed Josie a couple of times to get her to try out some of the bigger rides. Some she liked. Others she didn’t. But I was proud of her for trying them. We would need to find something she wanted in the gift shop to even the score.

    With rides (and a bit of shopping) out of the way, it was time to meet with Aladdin and Jasmin. A small line had developed. The line wasn’t moving. Something was up. The kids in line were super excited in spite of the fact Aladdin and Jasmin were nowhere to be seen.

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    It didn’t take long to figure out the source of their excitement. Aladdin and Jasmin were behind us on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. (If you look at the picture above really closely, you can make out their silhouettes.) When the ride ended, they walked over to the meet and greet area. I had to admit, it was a pretty cool entrance.

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    A relatively short wait later, we had our audience with Aladdin and Jasmin. As I was busily snapping photos, I couldn’t make out all of their interactions. But I must have heard the word “adventure” about a half-dozen times.

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    Our next stop was Merida. So, we took off for Fantasyland. However, on the way through Liberty Square, I was pretty sure I saw Tiana in her gazebo. So we made a quick detour.

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    Sure enough, Tiana was there with absolutely no wait at all. She seemed really excited that anyone had noticed her back there so early in the morning.

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    Since she had time on her hands, Tiana spent a little extra time with the girls. She noticed Josie’s Merida dress and asked if we had seen her yet. Josie told her we were on her way. So Tiana told her that when we saw Merida, the girls should tag her and say “You’re it.”

    The girls thought this was hysterical. Kara in particular couldn’t wait to tage Merida.

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    We were on a princess meet and greet roll.

    We rounded the castle to the Brave meet and greet. A pretty substantial line had formed. But Merida was a must-do. So we got in line.

    The wait wasn’t too bad, but when we got into the meet and greet area, there was another line. Fortunately, the adults could wait in line while the kids busied themselves with activities.

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    A cast member in a kilt helped the girls shoot arrows at a bullseye. The bow was actually bigger than Kara. But with the help of our kilted cast member, she hit a bullseye on the first shot.

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    Josie also scored a bullseye.

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    After their archery lesson, the girls started coloring pictures. People complain about simple activities like this at a place as expensive as Disney World. But kids love it.

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    It was almost our turn to meet with Merida when Kara started doing the “potty dance”. Mindy waited in line while Josie colored and I ran Kara to the nearest restroom. Fortunately, it was right around the corner. We were back with a little time to spare.

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    Merida told the girls a bunch of stories mostly summarizing the plotline from Brave. She was spending a lot of time with all the kids. But Josie seemed to get a little extra attention thanks to her Merida nightgown.

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    Kara could not wait to “tag” Merida like Tiana told her. When she did, Merida seemed to be in on the joke. She asked who we would be visiting next. We said we were done with meet and greets for the day, but would be having breakfast at Cinderella’s castle in the morning. So, Merida gave the girls a new mission to tag Cinderella.

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    We had now met with all of the princesses (Pocahontas and Mulan are not actual princesses). Our must-see meet and greets were complete. We started planning our final activities before our afternoon break.

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    On our last trip, one of the highlights for me was riding the Mad Tea Party (or “Tea Cups”) with Josie. She laughed her head off the whole time. So I wanted to make sure we rode it again. Especially now that Kara was old enough to join us.

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    Mindy doesn’t ride “spinny” rides so she got the challenging task of taking pictures. This is difficult given the nature of the ride. Getting Kara’s head in the picture was practically impossible. She could barely be seen over the side of the cup.
     
  14. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    [​IMG]
    When we left off, we blew through three princess meet-and-greets in a row finishing off our list of must-see characters for the trip. We were winding down our morning before our afternoon break. On our way out, we decided to hit Tomorrowland. ​
    In 2010, Josie had been selected for the role of Boo in the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. We had a great time and wanted to see the show again. I also wanted to hit Space Mountain if possible. I hadn’t been on it since 2003. Josie had done well on Splash and Big Thunder, so I convinced her to join me for the third and final mountain.

    On our way through Tomorrowland, we came across Push the Talking Trash Can. Josie was absolutely enchanted by Push. Honestly, I am not sure why because Push’s “friend” was standing right behind us. It completely ruined the effect for me as I could hear Push’s “friend” speaking more clearly than I could hear Push.

    Since Josie was so entertained, we hung around. Both girls tried to interact with Push. But Push was working a crowd in matching lime green T-shirts. I quickly realized that no matter where we went, Push’s friend was using us to hide from the big group in matching shirts. Since he was ignoring us to focus on them, I decided it was time to move on.

    Before we got in line for Monster’s Inc, I grabbed Fast Passes for Josie and me for Space Mountain. I also grabbed FastPasses for Mindy and Kara for Buzz Lightyear so they would have something to do while they waited for us.

    Once again, the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor was a hit with everyone in our group. I know not everyone enjoys this attraction. But it has thoroughly entertained us both times we have seen it.

    After Monsters Inc, we split up. Josie and I rode Space Mountain. Early on in the ride, Josie said “I don’t think I like this.” I think she was having Rock-n-Rollercoaster flashbacks. By the end she had relaxed and was having a little fun. But she wouldn’t ride it again if given the opportunity.

    We met up with Mindy and Kara by Buzz Lightyear. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Kara didn’t like her ride either. I probably should have put them on the Tomorrowland People Mover instead.

    When weighing our lunch options, we decided we should go back to Art of Animation to check on Mom. We didn’t want to leave her stranded for lunch in case she felt like eating again. So we headed back.

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    I promised Josie she could pick something out from the gift shop since she had ridden on all three Magic Kingdom “mountains” with me. Not to mention Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Rollercoaster. After careful consideration, she picked out a Santa outfit for her Duffy bear.

    We stopped by the room to check on Mom. She said she was doing okay, but she wasn’t really hungry. So we went to lunch without her. She asked us to check out the soup selection. If they had chicken noodle or something equally non-threatening, we would bring it back for her. Unfortunately, the soup of the day was split pea.

    Landscape of Flavors was pretty busy. So we tried to minimize the number of lines we waited in. Josie wanted mac and cheese. She had eaten a lot of mac and cheese since our first lunch in the Magic Kingdom and she had done well with it. So I hopped in the mac and cheese line.

    Kara wanted chicken nuggets. Surprisingly, Landscape of Flavors does not offer a kid’s chicken nugget meal. You would think the food court in a hotel aimed directly at kids would offer chicken nuggets, but you would be wrong. I honestly don’t remember what she ended up eating.

    The line for kids’ mac and cheese was also the line for burgers. I had basically had a bacon cheese burger for breakfast in the form of the steak-and-eggs sandwich. So I opted for the surf and surf burger. It’s sandwich consisting of a crab cake topped with popcorn shrimp. I’m not a big french fry person, so I got it with a side of cole slaw instead.

    The cupcakes at Landscape of Flavors were good, but we wanted to try something different for dessert. So Josie and I got the gelato. Josie got chocolate with Mickey-shaped sprinkles. Adventurous eater that I am, I had to try the torrone. This is a honey almond flavor which was absolutely fantastic.

    Mindy got the caprese sandwich for the second time during the trip. Everyone enjoyed their meal for the most part. Although the mac and cheese and Landscape of Flavors was a little more upscale and not as child-friendly as what Josie was used to. She barely touched it, but filled up on sides and the chocolate gelato.

    After lunch, we went back to the room. We did a little packing in preparation for leaving the next day. I called down to the front desk and arranged a late check-out. They were able to set us up with a 1:00 check out which would make our day go much smoother.

    The kids wanted to go swimming again, but I wasn’t interested. I think the swimming was at least partially to blame for Kara getting sick the previous day at Yak and Yeti. So instead I tried to keep them entertained in the room. We really should have tried to force a nap because the girls were tired.

    Josie had a loose tooth. For weeks leading up to the trip she had been asking me when it would come out. She had me check it several times a day. As the trip approached, I told her I thought it would probably come out during vacation. She had kind of latched on to this idea.

    As the trip was winding down, Josie was getting upset that her tooth hadn’t come out yet. I told her we still had another 24 hours before we had to go. But she wanted it out right away so she could put it under her pillow in Disney World. I tried to yank it, but it didn’t come out.

    But Josie wasn’t satisfied. She kept asking me again and again to check on her tooth. It was hanging on by a thread. Eventually, we got it out. She was overjoyed. She was pretty sure losing a tooth in Disney World paid better than what the tooth fairy pays at home. She also wondered whether or not Tinkerbell was the tooth fairy in WDW.

    After our break, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom. We had an appointment at the Bippity Boppity Boutique at 4:00. Had I not made that appointment, I would have forced the kids to take a nap and we’d have gone to the park later in the night. But unfortunately, we were committed.

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    The place was packed! It’s not a large space to begin with. But as it was, you could barely turn around without bumping into someone. During our time in the waiting room, someone got bumped and dropped their camera. I’m not sure what it was, but I heard something break.

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    This was the official kick-off of Jersey Week. I had read about Jersey Week while planning the trip. The schools in New Jersey take off the week of the election for teacher meetings. This results in a lot of New Jersey residents visiting Walt Disney World.

    The park was busier than we had seen during our entire trip. And some folks stood out as visitors from Jersey. You could usually identify them by their cry of “Jersey is in da house!” It looked like the Bippity Boppity Boutique had been invaded by the Real Housewives.

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    Of course, the girls were completely oblivious to all of this. They were in princess make-over heaven. They were tired, but excited. Kara looked like she just might nod off.

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    I was in photographer mode. Snapping away as many pictures as I could. At one point, Mindy informed me that Kara had selected hair extensions. Had I been more engaged, I probably would have tried to talk her out of that decision. But it probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

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    The “fairy godmothers-in-training” were great with the girls. They kept telling them stories the entire time. Josie was highly entertained by a story about how all of the princesses come to the Bippity Boppity Boutique to get their hair done in the morning. Apparently Ariel’s is the messiest because she uses a dinglehopper. And they find starfish in it.

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    When Kara’s hair extensions came out, they were almost as big as she was. The fairy godmother-in-training kept teasing her with places they could put it instead of her head. She thought this was hysterical.

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    When the final looks were revealed, both girls were very happy with the finished product.

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    When I got up this morning, I did not see that one coming.

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    And there is the missing tooth.

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    We stopped by Cinderella’s Fountain for a picture afterwards, but it was difficult. Kara was so tired!
     
  15. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    [​IMG]
    When we left off, the girls had just finished princess make-overs at the Bippity Boppity Boutique. They were very tired. Kara in particular probably should have taken a nap. But we were locked into reservations I had made 180 days before the trip and had to work around those. ​
    That meant that dinner was fast approaching. We had dinner scheduled at the Liberty Tree Tavern at 5:20. The idea was to make sure we had time to finish our meal and get a spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade at 7:00. Unfortunately, no one was hungry. At all.

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    The park was starting to get busy. It was the start of Jersey Week and the crowds were beginning to reflect that.

    Josie really wanted to pull the sword from the stone and Kara wanted to ride the carousel. So we killed a little time letting them do those things.

    I kept an eye on the gates to the Fantasyland Expansion. I thought about blowing off dinner to go see the Beauty and the Beast part of the expansion. But it looked like they were turning people away. So we decided to keep our dinner appointment instead.

    While we were waiting for our table, Kara fell asleep on my lap. She slept through dinner. I had to eat with her balanced on me. Which meant I was basically eating one-handed. Fortunately, I wasn’t really hungry. I sampled most everything, but wasn’t all that impressed. Perhaps if I was hungrier, the food would have been more appetizing.

    We blew through our meal pretty quickly. No one was eating much. A server offered to box up what was left of our food since we had barely touched it. We agreed figuring that if Kara or mom was hungry, we could heat it up back at the room.

    After dinner, I tried to put Kara in the stroller. My hope was that she would sleep in the stroller until the parade started. But she couldn’t get comfortable in the stroller and soon woke up. She was cranky and complained that her “hair hurt”. Mindy loosened it and removed some pins.

    We had a pretty good spot to view the parade in Liberty Square. But since we had eaten so fast, the parade was still almost an hour away. Josie wasn’t patient enough to wait that long. So we decided to head back to Fantasyland to kill some time.

    When we got there, Fantasyland was mobbed. We rode the carousel at Kara’s insistence. Afterwards, we decided we had better find our parade viewing spot. We walked around towards the hub and could get no further. With about a half hour to go, the hub was jam-packed.

    We found the best position we could. We were close to the curb, but we would have to lift the kids up for them to see. The parade was especially important to Kara, so I really wanted to get a better viewing spot. Fortunately, I saw an opening right on the curb. We couldn’t stand or we would be blocking people. But if we sat, the kids would have an unobstructed view.

    I grabbed the kids and pulled them up to the curb. It wasn’t especially comfortable sitting cross-legged on the curb with two girls on my lap. They were both tired and kind of cranky. But frankly, they were better behaved than some of the kids nearby. I think our parade spot opened up as a result of a nearby melt-down.

    It quickly became clear to me that we needed to leave right after the parade. I had hoped to stay for Wishes, but the girls didn’t have it in them. They were exhausted.

    Finally, the Main Street Electrical Parade started. It had been an uncomfortable wait, but it was worth it. The girls enjoyed the show. Kara in particular loved it. She waved non-stop and loved it when a character waved back at her. Both girls started calling out the names of the characters as soon as they could identify them.

    After the parade was over, we made a bee-line for the main gates. I would have loved to have stayed later, but there was no gas in the tank. On top of that, the park was crowded. I figured we’d be better off getting a good night’s sleep and coming back in the morning when the park wasn’t so busy.

    I had hoped that since we were leaving before the fireworks, the bus ride home wouldn’t be so bad. But it was by far the worst of the trip. The buses had been standing-room-only every time. We were used to that. But so far, someone had always been willing to give up a seat so Kara could sit down. This time, that didn’t happen.

    Mindy had been holding Kara. I had hoped that would make someone more likely to offer them a seat. But when I realized no one was going to, I took Kara myself. She was sound asleep again. Dead weight. It was a long bus ride home, I was carrying a sleeping 40 lb kid and holding on for dear life with one hand.

    At one point, we took a sharp curve and I lost my balance. I fell over on to a healthy adult male who had up until then been sitting comfortably. Maybe next time, he’ll give up his seat to the mom holding the sleeping kid? Fortunately, everyone was okay.

    When we got home, Mom was feeling better. She didn’t want to risk eating, so the left-overs from Liberty Tree Tavern went into the fridge.

    This was the end of the last full day of our trip. And I was okay with that. I was ready to go home. It had been a blast, but we were tired and had done pretty much everything we had set out to do.

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    The next morning, we had breakfast at Cinderella’s Table at 9:00. In 2010, we had a hard time making it to the park in time for our 8:00 breakfast, so I scheduled it a little later to give us some breathing room. We got to the bus stop early just in case. Mom was feeling better, so she came along.

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    As it turns out, this is one of the few times we didn’t have a long wait for the bus. So we got to the park almost an hour before our reservations. Up until this point, we had perfect weather. Not so much as a drop of rain. But this morning, it was raining lightly.

    We didn’t have a stroller this morning. We weren’t going to be in the park long. And most of that time would be spent at breakfast. So I figured there was no point shelling out top dollar for a stroller rental. Instead, I picked up Kara and we headed for the castle. Fortunately, they were able to seat us early.

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    This was great news. Not only were we able to get in out of the rain, but we would have more time to enjoy the park after breakfast. Our final morning was off to a good start.

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    We were seated in a remote corner of the restaurant. The princesses had all passed, so we had a wait before they would arrive at our table. On the upside, that meant we would have time to eat before being interrupted.

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    At the suggestion of our server, I ordered the steak and eggs. It was okay. I finished it so I wouldn’t be hungry again right away. No one was overly fond of the food. But Josie just flat-out didn’t like her french toast and sausage. Fortunately, our server was able to bring out some cereal and fresh fruit which she liked better.

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    As we finished our meals, the princesses started coming around to our table. We met with them in rapid succession.

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    This was our third time meeting Aurora, Cinderella and Ariel this trip. And the second time each for Snow Whit and Jasmin. But the thrill was still there.

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    This Jasmin was the same one we had met in Adventureland the day before. She was terrific.

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    Kara asked her where Raja was and Jasmin explained that Raja kept an eye on Abu while she was away from the palace.

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    After breakfast, we had a few hours to explore the Magic Kingdom before we had to head back to the resort. We had completed all of our must-dos. But there were still a few things we wanted to do before we left. Specifically, Dumbo and Mickey’s Philharmagic.

    Kara loved Peter Pan’s Flight. Since it was early and there was no wait, we rode it again. We also re-rode the carousel and the Mad Tea Party. Before we went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic, I grabbed FastPasses for Winnie the Pooh. We got surprise FastPasses for Dumbo. So, the rest of our morning was set.

    Everyone enjoyed Mickey’s Philharmagic as always. We had a few minutes before our FastPasses kicked in. So we walked over to Dumbo. By the time we got there, we were ready to roll.

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    With Dumbo down, we had completed the spinner trifecta.

    Kara has a tendency not to look at the camera when you take her picture. So, to get her attention, I would shout out “Say <insert the name of the character you are getting your picture taken with>.” That worked most of the time.

    This is how that worked out for Dumbo.

    [​IMG]

    You can just barely make out the rabbit ears over Kara’s hair extensions.

    After Dumbo, we doubled back to Pooh which was the final ride of our trip. We had plenty of time to make it back to the resort, but figured we would leave anyway. Better safe than sorry.

    On our way out, we passed these two.

    [​IMG]

    I figured we had time for one more meet and greet. There was no line at all. The sisters were about to go on break, but they had time to meet us before they left.

    [​IMG]

    They spent quite a bit of time talking to the girls. They bickered over whether or not they flossed their teeth and complained about Cinderella. I told Kara to tell them we had breakfast with Cinderella. But Drizella corrected me. She said, “I bet she waited in the throne room while you ate. She does that to everybody.” They were hysterical. The girls had a great time chatting with them.

    On our way out of the park, we stopped by the Main Street Confectionary. We still had 9 unused snack credits left on our dining plan. This is why I will never pay for the dining plan out-of-pocket. We used our remaining snack credits on sweets which would travel home well. Mindy and the girls also got some chocolate covered strawberries which are not snack credits.

    While we were getting our treats, the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade came by. Mom and Kara watched that for a while before it was time to go. The kids didn’t want to leave, but we grown-ups were ready.

    We got back to the bus station and miracle of miracles a bus was waiting for us. But then it closed its doors without admitting any passengers and drove away. We had the usual 20 minute wait for another bus to arrive.

    Even with the bus delay, we made it back to our room with time to spare. Mom and I took the bags down to bag check just before 1:00. She had some last-minute shopping to do at the gift shop. Then we all headed down to the lobby to wait for our Magical Express bus.

    We still had a counter service credit that was unused. I redeemed it quickly. The pizza line was short, so I got a pizza meal. The main point was to get Mindy a Coke zero and an eclair she had been eyeing. The girls were watching cartoons in the lobby and playing around. We split the meal.

    Soon the bus pulled up and it was time to go. Our trip back was relatively uneventful. So I won’t bore you with the details.

    On the whole, it was a great trip. There were very few hiccups. The weather was perfect with the exception of a brief sprinkle on our last day. And the crowds were almost non-existent. We barely waited in line for anything. It was everything you could reasonably hope for.

    It will probably be a long while before we go back again. I look forward to revisiting Disney World when Kara is older. Strollers and height restrictions should no longer be a factor on our next visit. We probably won’t spend so much time hugging princesses and signing autographs. But I’m glad we had this trip to enjoy those things while the kids were the right age for it.

    It was our “very princess” Disney World Trip. And I’ll never forget it.
     
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  16. blackthidot

    blackthidot Well-Known Member

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    Are they offering free dink g for next fall yet?

    Haha sorry, I had to bud!
     
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  17. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Lol! Nice.
     
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  18. derelicte19

    derelicte19 Well-Known Member

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    Loving the TR so far! Awesome that Kara got over her fear of the characters so quickly :) I love the character spot. Knock of the Fab 5 in a short time. Can't beat that!
     
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  19. ladydi

    ladydi Active Member

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    I've been waiting for your trip report to see if Duffy converted Josie. That bear is very addicting! My daughter has about six outfits including the Jedi one!
     
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  20. lebeau

    lebeau Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I worked with Kara all summer to get her comfortable with characters. We have the Peanuts gang at Kings Island. By the end of the summer, she was comfortable with Sally and Lucy, but not Snoopy or Charlie Brown.

    At Disney, she was a little stand-offish with new characters. She flat-out refused to see Wreck-It Ralph which I get because he's so big. She actually met with Duffy but only while I held her.

    By the end of the trip, both girls had just about filled up their autograph books. We met a lot of characters and had a great time doing so. The star of the trip, for my money, was Donald. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    Josie is a full-on Duffy convert. And reluctantly, so am I. She picked out two outfits while we were there. And I have ordered her a third as a X-Mas gift.
     

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