Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blog-worthy Disney World Trip

We didn't blog about our son's first day of kindergarten.  A little traumatic all-around, but we all survived somehow.

We didn't blog about getting our family photos done, or about discovering that we were going to have a baby.  A BABY!!!

We didn't even blog about Topher's 6th birthday party!  

Needless to say, I have a LOT of catching up to do (especially where the baby is concerned!)

But we took a trip last month that simply must be documented before we forget every detail.  It was both our last big trip as a family of three, and our first big trip as a family of four (with baby nestled safe in mommy's tummy).

However you look at it, it was a dream vacation for us.  But to get there, we had to drive to Florida.  Twenty hours away.  At least we had the sense to rent a minivan.

On the way there, we broke the trip up into two days, spending our first night in a hotel nestled into Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

The next day we finally made it into Florida, six states away from where we started.  We slept well that night,  enjoying the relief of being out of the van, basking in the Mickey-ness of our hotel room, and anticipating an entire week of magic ahead.

Magic Kingdom Day
Activities: Swiss Family Treehouse, Aladdin's Carpet, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted House, Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Bear Country Jubilee
--back to the hotel for lunch and a rest, then back to Magic Kingdom--
Flying Dumbos, Ariel's ride, It's a Small World, Carousel, Elsa's castle lighting, and Wishes Fireworks show

Words can't quite capture the buzzing excitement of walking down Main Street USA with the castle looming large, seeing characters in every nook, and knowing that we were actually there.

Animal Kingdom: Tough to be a Bug (too scary, Topher didn't like the 3D)
--hid in the Tree of Life caves while thunderstorm dropped torrential rains and created a tornado warning, saw the Bug theater flood with several inches of water--
Dinosaur ride (my favorite but too scary for Topher, sorry buddy!), visited a couple Wilderness Kids Clubs (after all, had to show my little guy what I used to do when I worked there!)
--back to hotel for rest and to attempt to dry our gear--
Hollywood Studios: Muppet 3D (had to leave early, Topher really doesn't like 3D), Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, met Mickey Mouse!, Indiana Jones Stunt show, Fantasmic water & lights show

This was maybe the most memorable day for me, not only due to the severe weather, but also because we met Mickey and Topher told me, "Mommy, Mickey gives the warmest hugs!"

Weather still rainy during the morning.  We persevered.
Epcot: rode the monorail loop ("highway in the sky"), Spaceship Earth, Nemo living seas aquariums, met more characters (Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie!), Test Track, Living with the Land, and we walked the World Showcase loop
Downtown Disney: Once Upon a Toy, Lego Store

After Test Track, Topher exclaimed, "Mommy, that...was...incredible!"  At the Lego Store, he chose to buy a Lego snow plow as his souvenir.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Animal Kingdom: African Safari, Pangani Exploration Trail
Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania, Great Movie Ride, Frozen Sing-along show (it snowed in the theater!), Star Tours, Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, Lights Motor Action show (awesome live car stunt show)
Golden Corral: Thanksgiving Buffet (discovered that we had happened upon the 3rd busiest Golden Corral in America)
Animal Kingdom: attempted to go back in the evening only to discover that the park is very unlit and that there isn't much open after 5 pm
That night at the hotel: played in the arcade & let Topher build his Legos

Magic Kingdom: Meet Pluto!, Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, Ariel's ride, Haunted House, Peter Pan's Flight, People Mover, Stitch's Great Escape, Carousel of Progress, Meet Stitch!, Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
--hotel break for lunch--
Animal Kingdom: train to Rafiki's Planet Watch (Conservation Station), Maharajah Jungle Trek
Magic Kingom: Buzz Lightyear ride, Frozen castle lighting

We decided to end the trip with all our favorite rides and then to watch the castle light up again, because it is just so darn magical.

Saturday we packed and left Florida early, at 5:45 am.  Topher had been quite a trooper all week and hadn't complained about much.  However, when we had to leave the hotel, he cried his first Florida tears.  There was some heartbroken sobs from our boy that morning at the thought of leaving our most wonderful vacation.

We decided to drive straight home if we could manage it.  TJ drove the entire way.  All 20+ hours, and we finally collapsed, utterly relieved and exhausted, into our own beds at 2:20 am the next morning.

I am both so glad we took the plunge and went on this trip, and also so glad to be home, away from all the fast food and pricey giftshops.

We love Disney World.  We love the magic and the characters and the music and entertainment that constantly surrounds.  But we learned that the trip is just a little harder when YOU are the parents, when YOU are watching the budget, and when YOU are pushing the stroller.  At least we hit a good time during my pregnancy,  I was feeling good and only huffed and puffed when we were rushing to catch one of our buses.

We played this game in the car on the way home called "What I would do differently on my next trip to Disney World."  We would fly there, we would go at a different time of year, we would stay at a different hotel, etc. and so on.

But really, everything we did on THIS trip made it special and memorable and I know it is a trip we will all remember forever.  And some day, when we are telling little brother about it, he will be begging to go.