Monday, March 25, 2013

The Rest of Our Vacation!

This week I keep questioning why we ever came back from sunny, warm Florida because it has been so cold here! That groundhog lied and was playing a very mean joke on us...

Okay enough complaining, back to reminiscing about our vacay!

For the remainder of our trip, we went to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. It was our first time going to Hollywood Studios and Little Miss enjoyed the shows very much! We arrived at the park at opening and went straight to Toy Story Mania! to get our fastpasses. There was already an hour wait! We decided to see Disney Jr. Live on Stage but had some time to kill before the first show, so we headed to Staring Rolls for some breakfast. Like I said earlier, I have been reading the Disney Foods Blog and according to them, Staring Rolls is a must. I have to agree! Everything was yummy, Hubs ate a cinnamon roll, I had a chocolate croissant and a chocolate butterfinger cupcake, and my mom had a chocolate eclair. I love the taste of fresh baked goods and Staring Rolls does not disappoint! I especially loved the cupcake, it was full of flavor but not too rich. I hate when food is so rich you can only eat a few bites. 

The Disney Jr. Live on Stage show was awesome, it featured my daughter's favorites: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake & The Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, and Sophia the First. It was interactive so Little Miss was up and dancing the whole time. She was so excited to see her favorite shows live on stage. 

We still had time to wait for our fastpasses to come up, so we snagged a few character signatures.

Hubs and my dad did a few other rides around the park while we visited the characters. They have quite a few "adult" rides, like Star Tours and an Indiana Jones ones. It was nice we could split up so they could enjoy those experiences while Little Miss caught up with a few of her friends!

Finally it was time for Toy Story Mania! I can totally see why this ride has such a long wait, it was awesome! Its an arcade-like shooting game combined in a ride and its all in 3D. Little Miss sat on Hubs lap so he aimed while she pulled the trigger. It was a very fun ride and I would totally do this ride all day long if I could.

Sporting our 3D glasses
While in Hollywood Studios, we also saw Beauty and Beast - Live on Stage and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Both are shows, one is inside and the other is outside. Arrive early for Beauty and Beast because it fills up fast! Little Miss loved both of the shows, the performers were fantastic and both shows held her attention the entire time. Which is quite a feat for a toddler!

We took a boat from Hollywood Studios over to Epcot, we had a 3pm reservation at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for a late lunch with the princesses! I was so excited we were able to get this last minute reservation. Little Miss fell asleep as soon as she hopped into her stroller in Epcot, so we strolled around the different countries while she napped. Right now, the Flower & Garden Festival is going on so there were flowers everywhere! They also had this new part where each country had a little food station where you could try out small dishes of local food and drink, like tapas style. The dishes were around $4 a piece and were a nice size so you could try out a few things!

While waiting to check-in for our lunch reservation, we came across this pretty big troll in Norway.

Onto the best part: Meeting the princesses! When we were called in, we immediately took 2 pictures with Belle, Little Miss took one by herself & then we did a family picture. We were actually given these pictures later at our tables as part of the meal! As soon as we took our seats, we were very promptly greeted and our drink order was taken. Since we were dining in Norway, the menu was filled with Norwegian fare. My mom & I went with the mushroom stuffed pasta and my dad & Hubs had the Traditional Kjottkake (meatballs with mashed potatoes & lingonberry sauce). Little Miss has cheese ravioli. After we gave our lunch order, we were able to go to the buffet for our "Taste of Norway". The foods were fresh and yummy, I barely had time to try it all before our lunch was served! While we were eating, the princesses started coming out to visit each of the tables. At the end, they bring out a dessert plate with 3 different items. I have never tried rice pudding but it was very good, there was also an apple pie and a chocolate mousse.

As each princess came around, they made time to chat with each child. Little Miss invited every.single.princess. to our house for a party. She was so excited, she keeps talking about when they are all coming over...

At one point, they call all the kids out to join the princesses on the floor and they parade around waving to everyone. Little Miss enjoyed working on her princess wave. She was very excited to meet each princess, especially Ariel "with legs". She was not familiar with Alice, but she liked her just the same as the others. Once again, she was "geeking out" when the princesses left our table. She kept balling her little fists and shaking saying she was so happy. Overall it was a great character experience with the princesses!

Our last day at the parks we went to Animal Kingdom. I had my touring plans in hand, but we were so tired that we ended up doing two rides then heading back to the resort. We picked up our fast passes for the Kilimanjaro Safari then walked around and grabbed some lunch at Yak & Yeti (Anandupar Local Foods Café). When it was time for us to use our fast passes, there was a mass of people trying to file in the line. No big deal, there was no line yet but mostly everyone seemed to go with the flow. Mostly everyone...when we filed in a VERY rude man yelled in my husbands face that we were cutting line. Yelled it. When my husband calmly asked him to calm down, it went from bad to worse. Eventually his wife yanked him away from the confrontation. I have NEVER had someone get so rude in the parks before, everyone was shaking their head at the rude man. I guess he didn't get the memo about Disney World being the happiest place on Earth.

Little Miss really enjoyed all of the animals on the Safari tour. The tour guide was very funny and kept us entertained. 

On our last day of vacay, we headed over to Downtown Disney to catch a movie. They have a dine-in theater, so we had lunch and watched "Oz The Great & Powerful". The lounging leather seats were pretty sweet and were comfy. Little Miss did really well, I think having a meal with the movie helped alot. After our movie, we walked around the area. We had smoothies, checked out a few shopes, and picked out a Christmas ornament to commemorate our vacay. I didn't realize that Downtown Disney was so big! It was a nice way to wind down our vacation.

I loved being able to share this vacation with my parents, Little Miss enjoyed it too. This year she was much more into the characters and seemed to understand what was going on better. I loved seeing how excited she got everytime she met one of the characters, I know I will remember that forever. Even if she doesn't remember it.

We spent a little more money this year, but we did have to pay for Little Miss this year since she is 3. Next time we visit, since we won't be able to stay at Shades of Green (we are getting out of the Navy next year) I would really like to try out another on site resort with a meal plan! The character meals were not cheap, you are definitely paying for the experience. But if you have a meal plan, you can trade in 2 meals for one character meal. Plus Disney will offer free meal plans during certain times of the year and I would like to do a comparison to see which way is better on the pocketbook. I remember back in the day Disney used to allow you to purchase meals plans regardless of where you stayed.

If you have any questions about how we did our trip, feel free to comment or email me!  


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Our Disney Trip: Magic Kingdom!

Now that I have told you how we prepared for our WDW vacation, I can tell you how much fun we had!

After driving for 13 hours, we finally arrived at the resort. We met up with my parents, bought our park hopper tickets, and met up with a cousin in Downtown Disney for dinner. This was my first venture into that area. There are lots of restaurants, a movie theater, a HUGE bowling alley, and other tid bits thrown in there. Its a much larger area than I thought! We ended up eating at Earl of Sandwich. YUM! Awesome sandwiches, I had read about this place on Disney Food Blog and was impressed. Definitely try it out if you are there! The line was wrapped around the room a few times but they serve you very quickly and the wait wasn't as long as we it would be.

The next morning we were up bright and early for a character breakfast at Chef Mickey's. I made the reservation for the ENTIRE family: both my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law & his family, and of course my crew. It was like 10 of us. Some of our party overslept, the only reservation I could get was at 7:15am so I don't blame them! Fortunately, Chef Mickey's was very lenient and said it was no problem at all. The breakfast buffet was HUGE. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I was in heaven. I fell in love with the Mickey waffles. I want the recipe! I should've stashed a few in my purse for later...

We were able to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, & Pluto. Little Miss was so excited, she made sure to give each one a hug and a kiss.

After breakfast we were *supposed* to head to Magic Kingdom. Thats the thing about planning vacations, they never go according to plan! My mom misplaced her ticket back at the resort so we had to head back and search for it. Luckily, we found it and made our way back to MK to get the tickets activated. 

By the way, once you get your card to enter the park take a picture of it in case you lose it!

Also, we started doing ticket checks before we left the resort. Just to make sure...

We made our way to Fantasy Land to pick up our fast passes for the Little Mermaid ride, and stopped to get Merida's signature. We missed her last time we were at the park so I was glad we could cross her off our list!

The wait time for Enchanted Tales with Belle was reasonable so we headed there. This was another new experience for us, and Little Miss loved it! The story here is they want to do a surprise performance for Belle and they give out parts to the kids. Little Miss was picked to be Chip, she just had to jump on cue. They practice first, then Belle comes in the room. Little Miss totally geeked out! I have never seen her do this it was absolutely cute. I wish I could've captured it on camera, but we couldn't use the flash on our cameras. When she hopped up to Belle hiding behind her "Chip", she was squeeling and grinning ear to ear, I think she was even trembling a little! To her, she was meeting a movie star. It hit me that being in WDW was like meeting all of the characters she watches in movies and sees in story books. She has such a great imagination and I am so happy we were able to do this for her. 

While waiting in line for the next attraction, we chowed down on Mickey Mouse Ice Cream. Best chocolate covered ice cream ever, I don't know how they do it! I had at least 3 during our vacay. As you can see, Little Miss liked them too.

Finally it was time for the Princess Makeover! I made an appointment at Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique in Cinderella's Castle for Little Miss, I knew she would love it!


As in true Disney fashion, it was a magical experience! Little Miss was addressed as Princess from the moment we checked in. We brought our own dress from home (saving us $100!) and they had dressing rooms to change. She was so excited! Then she almost fell asleep LOL at this point we had been awake since 6am and it was 2pm. Little Miss is the type to fall asleep anywhere, she goes until the last second then passes out. Well, she kept dozing off during her makeover! She had everyone in the room laughing, I mean who falls asleep during a princess makeover? It all turned out well and she was absolutely happy. After the makeover, we headed back to the resort for nap time! Eventually we made it back to MK after a late dinner to watch the parade and the fireworks. 

The next day we woke up and it was drizzling outside. We all decided to sleep in because of the rain and we all needed it! We had planned to head to Hollywood Studios, but after checking the wait times in MK on our app, we just had to head back to MK. The wait times were only 20 minutes! After eating breakfast in our rooms, we threw on our panchos and walked to The Polynesian to hop on the monorail. The park was empty, it was great! It wasn't even raining anymore so we were able to hit up all the rides thanks to the wonderful touring plans over at WDW Prep School. We followed the touring plans for little ones and were able to tackle all the rides in no time! Hubs was disappointed though because Splash Mountain was closed for refurbishment. The only ride Little Miss didn't like was The Haunted Mansion. Of course this is my favorite. Last year she didn't mind it at all, but this year she didn't like the dark. She just had her head buried in Daddy's lap the whole time. She didn't like any of the rides that were in the dark after this, which includes Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean. What a difference one year makes!

For lunch, we ate at Peco Bills. YUM! They have this toppings bar with salsa, liquid cheese, onions, mushrooms, and other goodies for your burger and fries. Mmmm cheesey fries... The burgers were good and you got alot for your money.

We made our way to the front of the park and caught a parade with all the princesses. Once again, Little Miss totally geeked out when she saw the princesses. She was screamed at them, calling them by name, and when they waved at her she started jumping up & down. Before the parade, we grabbed fast passes to meet the princesses in the theater. We finally met up with Rapunzel (we missed her last time too)! 

We went back to the resort for nap time and that concludes our time at Magic Kingdom! This park is by far my favorite, I just wish it wasn't so crowded most of the time. We were lucky it was drizzling out because it really kept the crowds away until after lunch. 

Next stop, Hollywood Studios & Epcot!