Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Disney 2016

We went to Disneyworld!!

It was hot.
It was crowded.
It was awesome.

Here are some pictures from our trip, and some things I highly recommend.  FYI I am now fluent in 'Disney' and would be thrilled to help anybody plan their trip. My google search history may or may not contain searches for 'how to become Disney travel agent' and 'how to live in Cinderella's castle.'

First step:  fly. I don't care how much it costs; it's worth every penny when you've got small children. We flew from Pittsburgh to Atlanta, then to Orlando and we were there by noon after about 3 hours on planes and a one hour layover.

We spent 6 nights in Pop Century resort. It was simple and clean. Somewhere to shower off the sweat and sleep at night. The resort restaurant was quick, easy, and tasty. Transportation was available from our resort to all Disney parks.

Day one, waiting for the bus to Magic Kingdom. We needed food fuel. We ate our first meal at Tony's (spaghetti and pizza) which was fun.

Make sure to buy matching shirts / themed shirts for each day. It's Disney!!  Go cheesy or go home. And also be sure to buy the memory maker photo package. This way you can grab all photographers and have them take your picture, then they scan your magic band and your photos go into your account. This includes character meet and greets and ride photos too!

Wear comfortable shoes. I can't emphasize this enough. We walked 18-19,000 steps per day in the heat. These Sanuk slings are amazing and I also wore my sneakers for a couple of days. The heat and humidity in Florida is miserable. Dress for comfort or you'll ruin your trip. You can dress cute when you go home. 

Go find Mickey!  And all of the other characters. But especially Mickey. It all 
began with this mouse. 

Ride the rides. All of them. And learn where the cameras are located so you can stage epic faces. This was on Splash Mountain. 

Even my mom rode everything. The teacups and Expidition Everest (in Animal Kingdom) almost killed her, but she did it.  This is on Seven Dwarves Mine. 

If you have a daughter, Bippity Boppity Boutique is a must. Morgan (age 7) was able to choose which princess she wanted to be, and they gave her the Belle dress, crown, wand, shoes (these cost extra), manicure, makeup, hairdo (Morgan went with the 'princess mullet' since her hair is short), and then they do a photo session!!  The only complaint I have is that they don't offer this to adults. 

Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle is a must. The food was good, the atmosphere amazing, and we got to meet Snow White, Auora, Cinderella, Ariel, and Jasmine. The difference between my daughter and son when they saw a princess...Jack doesn't like princesses. Neither does his daddy; that's why he married me. 

Magic Kingdom at night is a MUST. It's beautiful. The fireworks are fun but the light show on the castle is amazing. And the Main Street Electric Parade!!!  I've decided the music is the soundtrack of my life. You will have to google it to see it unless you plan a trip to Disneyland where it will be returning next month (October) after 20 years in Magic Kingdom. 

Buy ponchos.  It IS Florida and it will rain.  We bought a box of ponchos from Amazon to avoid spending $$$ on Disney ones and thank goodness only needed them one day.  You can see the joy on the face of my children.

Eat a Mickey ice cream thing.  They taste better than a Klondike bar.

Try on ALL of the ears everywhere you go.

Go to the Grand Floridian and dream about staying there.  Be sure to check out the little bath shop on level 2 near the exit to the monorail.  Let your children smell all of the soaps.  FYI they will ship it all to your home for $5.99.  We now own over $80 in soaps, scrubs, bath bombs, and bath salts.

Eat at Chef Mickey's. It's a buffet and the food is okay, but you get to meet ALL of the famous Disney characters...even if you don't want to.

Get into character for Hollywood Studios if you're a Star Wards nerd.  This is a modified version of Rey's 3 buns.  I'm not great at styling hair...

Meet Chewbacca.  He will even roar for you.

Ride Star Tours and then shop the gift store.

In Animal Kingdom be sure to hit the safari in the morning when the animals are having breakfast.  My kids especially loved seeing hippos.  Expedition Everest is never as busy as the other Disney coasters.  We rode it 3 times in a row!!

The Rainforest Café is so much fun and makes a nice break in air conditioning.  There is one in Animal Kingdom and another one in Disney Springs.

Sleep in when necessary!

T-Rex Café is so much fun!!

A dessert served with smoke and lots of spoons.

A shoutout to Starbucks locations.

Nemo themed shirts for Epcot.  Turtle Talk with Crush was fun.

Starbucks to the rescue.

Would you believe we only waited like 5 minutes to meet Anna and Elsa?!!  And had fast passes for the new Frozen ride.  Big thumbs up to the renovations in Norway.

Mission Space:  the only ride I've ever been on that supplies you with barf bags.

This little boy HATES having his photo taken, but in Hollywood Studios he surprised us all by wanting his photo taken ALONE!  So the photographer made it special.

Mimi and Jack on the tea cups.  Then she rode Space Mountain.  Then Mimi was done.

When your kids are done with the day, it's okay.  Keep going.  They can rest at home.

Honestly, I have to brag on my littles.  They did awesome.   We walked so much, and it was very hot and crowded.  They stayed right with us and barely complained.  We didn't rent a stroller.  I did have to carry Jack at the end of each day because those 'wittle feet' just couldn't walk another step, but overall they both did great.  The very last evening we went to Magic Kingdom and stayed late to watch the Electric Parade one last time at 10:00.  Both of my kids put their sweaty heads on my lap and rested, then I had to carry Jack all the way to the bus, then both kids sat in the floor of the crowded bus and fell asleep against my leg and my feet fell asleep, then I had to carry Jack to the room, then after all of the showers I didn't make it to sleep until 1:00 and we had to be up at 6:00 for checkout to make it to our flight.  BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!! 

Disney is fantastic.  My kids and I would go back right now if we could.  This morning when Jack was whining about being sleepy for school I asked him "what about Disney, would you go to Disney right now?"  and he said "I'm never too tired for Disney."

DC 2016

Summer 2016 is coming to an end. It was a good one. We made a lot of great memories. The theme of the summer: how much heat can you take?

Michael and I kicked off the summer with a trip to Key West. It was amazing. The heat was overwhelming but almost welcome after a cool spring.

In July we took th kids to DC to visit my family who live nearby and to do the DC thing. DC in July is miserable. We knew this, but had no other option.

Here are some photos to summarize our trip:

We HAD to go to the American Girl store because it makes me feel like a 10 year old again but a 10 year old with a credit card. Morgan (age 7) picked out a doll from the new AG Well Wishers line and Jack (age 4) picked out two Bitty Babies that I carried around until he wasn't looking and stuck them back on the shelf. Not that I don't let my son play with dolls, but we already have a Bitty Baby at home that he ignores.

We rode the metro into the city and the kids were thrilled to walk around in the heat as you can see from this photo. They recovered in each museum, I promise. We visited American History, Natural History, and Air & Space. We were extremely disappointed that the dinosaur exhibit was closed for renovations in the Natural History museum.

We took a tour of Mount Vernon. I hadn't been there since middle school. Somehow it was even hotter there than it was in the city. We waited in line forever because they had to shut part of the house down to deal with a 'protein spill' - somebody barfed in George Washington's house!!!  Once we went inside, then back oitside, then back inside, then back outside during the tour, I started to feel a bit like a protein spill might be in my future as well...but I survived. My kids enjoyed the tour and really enjoyed the air conditioned museum and the fact that Pizza Hut was in the cafeteria. 

That evening we went back into the city because Morgan really wanted to go to the top of the Washington Monument. It was closed for renovations so my kids temporarily died a little from disappointment. 

We walked down to the Lincoln Memorial where it started to rain. One of my kids favorite memories was getting to use umbrellas in the city. 

So Pizza Hut at Mt Vernon, getting to use umbrellas, and learning to use the phrase 'protein spill' are some of the memories my kids have from our wonderful DC trip.