Friday, February 12, 2010

Disney Trip - Warning: I ramble!

Thursday -
We left Ft wayne about noon on Thursday to start our trip to Disney. We got just south of Indy and Natalie was getting sick on herself. We assumed it was just car sickness and plugged away the best we knew how. This meant a lot of stopping between her puking and Daniel needing to eat. We got to Huntsville somewhere around 10 pm. Don't remember the exact time.

Friday -
Natalie seemed better. Bad weather in Huntsville - snow and slush! We needed to get Daniel's 5 month pictures done so I braved the weather and headed to Portrait Innovations. The photographers were having a great time photographing him and we ended up with some great pics. Mom and Melissa worked. Mom came home and thought she had a dental infection.

Saturday -
Took mom to the urgent care clinic, turned out she had a sinus infection rather than a dental infection. This is very good news, she gets a steroid shot and an antibiotic shot and goes on her way. This turns out to be a good thing as the steroid helped her be more comfortable while traveling. Mom and Melissa worked until noon. In the mean time I dropped off the puppies at the kennel and got everything packed in the cars. We stopped by HL at noon and we were on our way!

About two hours into the trip Natalie started getting sick again... tried Dramamine thinking she was getting motion sickness, she proved that wasn't the problem and continued to get sick most of the trip...

Sunday -
We got to our destination at about 3 am (Summer Bay Holiday Inn Express in Clermont, FL - very nice). This was just a place to lay our heads for a few hours. We were up by 6 am getting ready for the day. Mom and I took Daniel over to the resort and got all checked in and picked up our "keys to the kingdom" so that we could hit a park while waiting for our room to be ready. We got our connecting rooms in building 18 so we were really excited.

Our first park of the trip was DHS because we figured we wouldn't need as much time there. First thing we did was ride toy story mania and then got fast passes to ride again later(btw, best advice ever: ride standby first and then get FP for later... the FP line at first was longer than the standby line). We went back on several times and each time was awesome! Then Dad, Tommy, and I headed towards Rock N Roller Coaster. This ride was AWESOME! Definitely one of the most thrilling rides of the trip. We got photos in front of the attraction and got back on our way. It was cold and VERY windy (not the original forecast). So, we ended up spending money that first day to buy both Natalie and Daniel warmer clothes. Note to self: Pack warm clothes in the diaper bag even if you don't think you will need them. We had a heck of a time finding something to fit Daniel. And poor Natalie was totally mis-matched and looked like a bum! At least they were warm!!

I messaged my friend from high school who works here and we met up with him at the Monsters Inc character meet and greet. It was great to catch up for a few minutes. Also great to see that he is doing so very well. I couldn't have picked a better job for him, he seems to love what he does. He gave us some tips about the park and we went on our way. Mom and I stayed with the kids while the guys and Melissa went to the star tours ride. Natalie took that time to explore the Honey I shrunk the Kids playground. Lunch was at the ABC commissary. Mom and I had the Cordon Bleu Sandwich, Tommy had curry, Natalie got a chicken kids meal and Melissa had a burger (not sure about Dad). We saw Beauty and the Beast while the guys caught the Indiana Jones stunt show. Time flew by, and it was time for the Block Party Parade. It was a ton of fun, Jessie (from Toy Story) tried to get Natalie to go out and dance with her, but she was shy of course! We decided to leave then so we had time to get back to the resort and get ready for dinner. We had a great dinner at Boatwright's (the hotel table service restaurant). Natalie fell asleep before dinner arrived. Mom, Dad, Melissa, and I all had filet mignon and Tommy had blackened fish. (drove ourselves this day)

Monday -
Rainy day at Magic Kingdom! This was our "park nazi" day... I was horrible and made everyone run from ride to ride in the rain so that we could get 90% of the rides we wanted to get done. Magic kingdom has so much to do, I figured if we had one day were we hustled from ride to ride we could appreciate the other days more taking our time. In the end, I think this payed off. Because we hurried around I don't have a ton to write about. I just don't remember the details :( Best part of today, riding Space Mtn twice in a row, both times we walked right on! Awesome! We did have lunch at Cosmic Ray's which was VERY good. Tommy and I got the ribs and chicken meal, my sister got a burger, and mom and dad got a pulled pork sandwich I think? We stayed at the park all day to see the spectromagic parade but left before the fireworks. We were all pretty miserable and the cloud cover was heavy so we figured we wouldn't miss much. We were right, on the monorail, we saw some of the fireworks and they just weren't that pretty. We were glad that we got out of there before the rush. We had dinner at the cafe at our resort this night. It was very good as well. Tommy, Melissa, and I all had a create your own pasta while Mom and Dad got brisket from the carving station. (drove ourselves)

Tuesday -
This was our first day using disney buses. We got to Epcot for "rope drop" and EMH. I ran off to test trac to get fast passes and met up with everyone else at soarin. Unfortunately, we were delayed here because Natalie was sick and we had to get her all cleaned up. Then, Tommy, Dad, Melissa and I road Soarin. When we were done it decided to start POURING so we ducked into the building to watch the circle of life. After the show we ate breakfast at sunshine seasons. Again, good food. I think you will see this as a common theme. I don't think we had a bad meal the whole time we were there. It was still raining so we ducked over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavillion. We rode the ride and spent a ton of time in the pavillion due to diaper changes, potty breaks, and Natalie just plain LOVING IT!! By the time we went to leave, it was "monsooning" again (this is my made up word, bear with me!) I ran to get our stroller only to discover someone had disturbed the rain cover and the stroller was SOAKED. I took the stroller back to the store and we jury rigged - put ponchos over the seats, and then dry blankets. Then we put the stroller cover on and tied a disposable poncho on the exposed area. It was at this point we decided the disposable ponchos just weren't going to cut it so we purchased Disney ponchos. Yes, they were $8 a piece, but we felt like we got our moneys worth given the weather we had. So, after getting all that settled, we headed to Innoventions to waste some more time inside, we watched a show "whats your problem?" about velcro and Natalie made a velcro frog. Then we found the epcot character spot and got in line. The line was sorta long, but we got to get pictures with the "fab 5." At this time we all had a mini meltdown and we almost left. But, we gathered ourselves together and both kids fell asleep so we pushed on.

The sun was finally coming out and the rain was scattered so we headed towards the world showcase and got lunch at the temporary Mexico cart. We got Nachos and they were very good and the churro with caramel sauce was awesome too! We unfortunately had to sit on the ground to eat because we couldn't find anyplace else, but it wasn't too bad. We walked to Germany because we wanted to really see that country. At this time, I realize that we are running low on Daniels "every three hour" medicine and barely have enough for the dose he needed then. Tommy and I talked and he offered to run back to the resort and get it. Dad went with him and they got coats for everyone too as it was chilly. We decided to "hang out" in Germany because we knew Dad and Tommy wanted to explore this area. We ended up sitting there waiting for nearly two hours (UGH, disney transport is slow!) It was nice though, very relaxing and the pretzel we got was super yummy. Melissa and I ducked into nearly every country along the way to get pressed pennies, but we didn't have time to really explore. :( We did spend some time in Japan as well because Tommy wanted to explore that one. Melissa and I did the "pick a pearl." I let Natalie pick my oyster and ended up with a 7 3/4 mm pearl! It's so big it won't fit in a traditional cage so I am glad I waited to buy that til I was home! By the time we got done with that the candy lady was about to start so we watched her make rice candy into the shape of animals. Natalie was so intrigued but wasn't chosen to get one. So, we reluctantly continued on, Natalie got autographs and photos with Princess Aurora and Marie the cat along the way while Melissa and I got more pressed pennies. When I got back to Natalie and my mom I realized I had time to get Natalie back to the candy lady again. I grabbed Natalie and ran back down to Japan from almost UK. We got there just in time and got a front row "seat" and Natalie was chosen and put in her request for a purple elephant. It was awesome watching this lady work, just amazing!

By the time we got done with that it was time to head to Biergarten for dinner! OHHHH SOOOO YUMMY!! My favorite: the chicken schnitzel with gravy. It took us a while to get seated, but it was worth it! After dinner Tommy, Dad, and I ran over to test trac to use our fast passes. Tommy and I liked it so much we watched it a second time! We walked off just as illuminations was starting. We found a decent spot to watch just outside the pavillion and it actually turned out to be a great location, quick exit when it was over! This was one of our longest days so we all crashed when we got back to the hotel!

Wednesday -
Just a leisurely day at magic kingdom, I am sure we rode Dumbo and probably the carousel and several other rides in fantasy land. Dad went golfing. We met Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. We went on the speedway and Natalie illustrated how not ready she is for a drivers license. She had a great time though. We tried to go to Columbia Harbor House for lunch but they couldn't guarantee that my sisters food wouldnt come in contact with shellfish, so that was a no go. Instead, lunch was at Pecos Bill - YUMMO! The toppings bar is awesome and the new angus burgers are delicious! Tommy had the taco salad and said it was good as well! This was so good we went back on Friday in place of one of the other places we wanted to try!

We left semi early this day (around 3-4 pm) to go back to our resort so that we could rest and swim before dinner at Ft. Wilderness. This is where the trouble starts, I called down to the front desk and they told me it would take an hour to get there so we had plenty of time to swim. So I sent the rest of the party down to swim while I went to pick up the tickets, can you imagine where this is headed? The conceirge desk tells me that I need to allow TWO HOURS to get there so I run to the pool and tell everyone we have to get ready and leave within 30 minutes. They were not happy about this obviously, especially my dad as he had just gotten into the hot tub and was enjoying it after a long day golfing! So we hurry hurry and leave when they said we needed to. We ended up having to sit around in the cold at Ft. Wilderness for over an hour, because it took the hour we were originally told! So frustrating!

Then, we we were finally let in we had a rude lady that insisted I had to put Daniel's car seat onto a high chair thing even though it wasn't stable. She never once made eye contact, nothing. Luckily, a nice CM (from MI no less) came over and helped me, she explained to me why I couldn't have Daniel's car seat on the floor and offered several other options and finally we came up with something that worked. In the end, she also gave us the pictures from that dinner for free. It pays to be calm and explain your situation! Natalie got sick this night too :( Again, the food was worth it though, and we thought the show was great. The dessert was the best part - strawberry shortcake MMMMMMMMM good! I probably ate enough for three people! Dinner included: fried chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, beans, corn bread, salad. This meal took two credits but was worth it... they even included some alcoholic beverages!

Thursday -
Animal Kingdom!! We were there just after rope drop. Got a character signature done and then headed off to Kilimanjaro safari, we were disappointed actually, we felt that it was much too fast paced for you to actually enjoy and take pictures! We snagged a fast pass so we could do it again later if we needed for pictures sake, but never ended up going back on it as we ran out of time! We then worked our way towards expedition everest. Natalie and Daniel couldn't ride this and Mom didn't want to. So, she got Natalie some breakfast and sat with the kids while we went to ride.

It took some convincing, but Melissa finally decided she would ride with us. She enjoyed it so much we rode it again later in the day (not sure exactly when?!?) Tommy wasn't feeling well and didn't want to get wet so he stayed with Daniel while we went on the kali river rapids. He needed some rest time so he did that while the rest of us went on the pangani forest trail. We also saw the tree of life from about 100 different angels and had some photos taken. Lunch was at flame tree bbq - again, great food. I had a BBQ chicken, Tommy had a sandwich, parents had pulled pork again? Towards the end of the day we took the train over to affection section for Natalie. While there we got a few more signatures and photos: Jimminy Cricket and Rafiki I think? By the time we got back, we ran right into the parade. So we watched that and then followed it out of the park.

We had dinner at Boma which is at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Let me just say this lodge is NICE, I would love to have the money to stay there some day! Dinner was very good - it is definitely different and some people will have a hard time eating here. Everything is unique and seasoned different that people are used to. No one in our party had a problem finding something to eat though. I was disappointed they didnt have the squash soup I had heard to much about, but they had a superb potato bacon soup! The prime rib was also very yummy!

Friday -
yet another leisurely day at Magic Kingdom. We rode Dumbo and the carousel again. We also did Buzz Lightyear and Dad did the astro orbiter. We wanted to ride space mountain again, but it was apparently having some technical difficulties. Since my sister got stuck on a coaster as a kid, she decided she didn't want to ride it just in case. So we skipped that. We did get a "special pass" from a CM which we used as a fast pass on buzz. Glad we did, because I wasn't a huge fan, especially after Toy story mania on Sunday. We got the pass because of some problems we encountered at the park. Again, just calmly making my concerns known to a CM got me this "golden ticket." I didn't even know these existed so I was surprised to get one. Dad and Tommy took Natalie back on Barnstormer - which she LOVED! (Melissa, Tommy, and I had taken her on it earlier in the week) She is going to be my roller coaster buddy!

We waited FOREVER and a day to do the character meet and greet at pixie hollow. It was our longest wait of the week - over an hour!! Natalie LOVES tinkerbell, so we figured it was worth it. So glad we waited, because she just beamed getting to meet her! Wish we had done this Monday when she was wearing her Tink outfit though! We didn't coordinate outfits with characters very well because we tried to squeeze them in when the waits were the shortest! We gave Natalie the choice of riding either the tea cups or the cars as we were trying to get out of there before the bad storm hit. She decided on the tea cups.

Tommy tried to sweetly surprise me with a lunch at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian but I just didn't want to miss out on 2 - 3 hours of our last day at the park with the kids, so instead we dined alone at Pecos Bill while my parents took care of the kids. It wasn't much, but it was MUCH appreciated. THANKS HUNNY for thinking of me and trying to celebrate our 8 year anni of meeting! And Thanks Mom and Dad for watching the kids for us! Somehow we managed to do a few more things and got stopped on our way out by the 3 pm parade. We never once meant to see this parade, but it seems like we ran into it every single day we were at MK. So, by time the parade was over, the storm was in FULL FORCE. So much rain. It was standing in over ankle deep puddles within a few minutes. So ridiculous.

Luckily, the line for the bus wasn't too bad. We got back to the resort and got ready for our dinner at the Grand Floridian. Our reservations were for 7:05. This was our other BAD experience of the trip. We checked in at about 6:30. We had planned to ride the monorail around the whole cirlce but were short on time so we decided to put it off until after dinner. Well, what they failed to tell us when we checked in was that they were about an hour behind on reservations due to a computer crash earlier in the day (they were aware of the issue, why not tell people when they check in?!?). So, after waiting and waiting we finally find out. I was fuming. My poor kid was starving and we had promised her the monorail. :( So, after speaking with a manger we were FINALLY seated. I do believe we were jumped up in line (again, I was nothing but nice... I was mainly concerned with them not telling us at check in. If we had known, we could have gotten Natalie a snack and ridden the monorail first!).

Dinner was great once we finally got in, it was a bit disappointing because Natalie was tired and less receptive to the characters (Cindy, Prince Charming, Stepsisters and stepmother) then she probably would have been if we got in on time. However, we loved the food (the chicken marsala, mashed potatoes, and strawberry soup were to die for), she loved the strawberry soup and we got pictures, so it wasn't a total loss! Unfortunately, by the time we were done with dinner we didn't have time to get the monorail done. They did "comp" us two meals for our troubles which was a nice gesture. I just wish we hadn't had such bad luck this week. Everyone we talked to said we had more bad luck than usual!

Saturday -
We had a hard time getting up and moving this morning... well, my sister, my dad, and Tommy did at least. Mom and I were up and spent 20 minutes in the hot tub at 7 am this morning. We were hoping to be on our way at 9 am to downtown disney. Unfortunately we weren't able to get moving that fast and we didn't get to DTD until almost 11 am. We had photos scheduled for 3:30 at the Wilderness Lodge and needed to get ready for those, so as you can imagine we didn't have much time. We were able to hit 4-5 shops including Once upon a Toy, World of Disney, and Goofy's Candy Co. Tommy got lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express. We had plans to share it, but with time running short I just told him to grab himself lunch. The rest of us grabbed something from the cafe at the hotel, it was much quicker, he grabbed lunch while we stuffed Potato Head boxes at Once upon a toy. I also high-tailed it to the other end of DTD and got our "free souvenir" from Planet Hollywood.

We made it to our photos on time thanks to driving. We found Disney transport to be VERY slow, especially from resort to resort. Nearly an hour of getting photos taken, then we had dinner at 5:00 pm at Whispering Canyon Cafe. This dinner was tons of fun and the waiter decided to "pick on" my sister! It's part of the whole experience and was wonderful. I will DEFINITELY go back here in the future. With the dining plan, we were able to get bottomless milkshakes as a drink, the food was all you care to eat, plus a desert. Yum. Dinner included chicken, brisket, pulled pork, ribs, beans, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, and corn bread. SO good. We got our desserts to go as we had already filled up on all the other yummy food!

When we got home, we worked on getting things packed and into the cars so we could depart first thing in the morning. Tried to hit the hot tub in the pool area, but it was overrun with RUDE teenagers who were having a pizza party there. I went and talked to management and they cleared those kids out, but because everyone had been waiting, the hot tub reached its 7 person limit before we could get out of the pool. So, we decided to just head back to the room because it was cold.


We left alot undone, but we had several factors working against us. Number one was the weather. We only had two nice days the whole time we were there. The weather can really slow you down. We aren't talking a few showers, it was near monsoon on at least two occasions! Second was illness. Over the course of the trip nearly very member of our party had the stomach flu for a day or two. You can imagine how that might slow down progress.

We felt like we needed much more time at Animal Kingdom. I have NO clue how people say its a half day park. I can only imagine they cared ONLY about the rides. There was so much there to see, especially with Natalie. She was taking in every detail, at every park really, but especially so there. She has such a love for animals...

We also felt like we could have used more time at Epcot, but if the weather had cooperated, Natalie not have been sick, and we hadn't had to wait for Daniels meds, we might have gotten everything done there. We skipped Mission Space as well as Spaceship Earth, and only quickly walked through most of the countries.

The disney buses are fine for resort to park, but expect that you will miss the bus by a minute, so always allow 40-50 minutes to get from your resort to the parks. Maybe, its just our bad luck but EVERY day we took the bus we missed it by a minute or so - we normally saw the bus pull away as we walked up. DO NOT rely on Disney transport to get from resort to resort for dinners. The one night we did it took us FOREVER to get home. Honestly, if you are good at navigating and don't get overwhelmed in traffic I would recommend driving, because who wants to wait 30 minutes or more at the end of the day for a bus. (our wait was over an HOUR)

Dining: We liked having the disney dining plan, but most likely will pick the quick service dining if we go back and just supplement out of pocket for a few sit down meals during the week. It took quite a bit of park time to eat dinner each night. Each dinner took us about 1.5 hours to eat, that doesn't include travel times etc. So, you can imagine.. you lose 4 or so park hours for every sit down meal you do. That doesn't mean we would get rid of them all together, but definitely reduce the number of sit down meals.

Last but not least: Try to make the best of all situations. We had hopes of having a perfect trip but so many things kept that from happening. However, we kept calm for the most part and tried to remember we were at Disney. We did find that there were far more trainees and "unmagical" cast members than we expected. There were also a ton of refurbishments going on. All in all, it was a great trip. We are so glad we went and are hoping to go back in about 5 years when both the kids will remember it and the FantasyLand expansion will be done.

I wish I could explain what it was like watching Natalie experience Disney world. She had such a blast and developed so much in just that one week. She has come out of her shell so much more than we could have ever expected. It was awesome. She makes us so proud to be her parents. She did marvelous and had only a few short "meltdowns." Most of which were taken care of by getting down on her level and talking with her. She had one bad moment when she was having a bad dream we think, she had been napping in her stroller and woke up screaming. All she wanted was Mommy and we never really saw her eyeballs! Daniel had a few more meltdowns, mostly due to being overdue on medication. Tommy set an alarm on his cell to remind us to get it to him on time,but with all the noise, many times he didn't hear it. So, there were several times when he was over an hour overdue for medicine.

Oh, and last but not least. I am proud to say nobody in our group got any blisters! And, we had more medicine and such than we needed. So, planning did help some. If we hadn't had the moleskin I am sure we would have all had blisters, its one of those things... like, if you carry an umbrella you normally don't need it!

I am sorry this is scatter brained and such, it took me a long time to write this all out, I may come back and edit or add if I remember more things, but I wanted to post some sort of trip report. I will post pictures as I get them.. I screwed up and only took my zoom lens for my dslr camera so most pictures were taken by my mom, sister, and the photopass photographers. :(

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