Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!!

From all of your favorite Nintendo characters!  And just in case you need a primer - -

  • Lindsey = Pikachu
  • Ryan = Luigi
  • Alli = Toad
  • Diddy = Donkey Kong
  • Riley = Mario
  • Tata = Video game nerd 
  • Buddy = Video game nerd
  • Me = Princess Peach (of course)
I hope you had a wonderful Halloween and got lots of candy.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Disney Vacation Day 3: Hollywood Studios

I don't need to tell you why I was so excited about heading to Hollywood Studios, but here's a reminder:

Um, there's only a roller coaster featuring the bad boys of Boston!  And as a tremendous Aerosmith, I love it.

I'm probably the most annoying person in line because I sing the songs and dance the entire time.  And then I scream when they show Steven Tyler in the pre-ride video.  And then I sing along with the music that plays with the ride.  But I so don't care.  When we rode the Rockin' Roller Coaster for the first time, Alli and I got front row seats (not shown in the picture above).  I told Alli it was because I was with the band...

But our day didn't start with the Rockin' Roller Coaster - it started with using the 8AM Extra Magic Hour to get in line to sign Alli up for the Jedi Training Academy later that day.  They only take 12 kids per show so it fills up really quickly.  We were successful, and then we ran to Toy Story Mania because we couldn't get a Fast Pass for it and we knew it would fill up quickly.  It was a great ride really similar to Buzz Lightyear in Magic Kingdom, but newer.  We also ran into some friends in the Pixar section.

After that it was the Rockin' Roller Coaster followed by the Tower of Terror.

Then we went to a few other attractions like the Star Tours motion simulator and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground.  We also happened upon Lightning McQueen and Mater.

We ate dinner at the Sci Fi Dine-In Theater, and then we hit up a few more rides and shows including The Little Mermaid and Indiana Jones.  Then it was time for Alli to train to become a Jedi.  She was presented with a robe and a practice lightsaber and did some training with a Jedi Master on stage.

It was all fun and games until training was interrupted...

Fortunately Alli's training paid off and she and her fellow trainees dueled Darth Vader until he fled.

Once Alli graduated from the Jedi Training Academy, we went to Tatooine to build a light saber and then we went on the Muppets 3D ride, met Phineas and Ferb, and did a second (or third) round of the Star Tours, Rockin' Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror rides.

And so concludes yet another magical day in Walt Disney World!  Alli's favorite ride and park changes with each new park we go to, but I am happy to report the Rockin' Roller Coaster is tied with Expedition Everest for now.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Disney Vacation Day 2: Animal Kingdom

After getting settled into bed around 12:45AM, the next morning came a little too quickly.  But when you're only in Disney World for a week, sometimes you have to just power through.  So we were all a little groggy and bleary-eyed for Animal Kingdom but we soldiered on.

When I first went to Animal Kingdom in the fall of 1998 (around six months after it opened), I was less than impressed.  I love animals, so I appreciated the safari ride, the stress on conservation, and the animals but there wasn't a lot to do and it seemed like a huge empty park.  I assumed that in the sixteen years since I had last attended that this would have changed dramatically.

I was wrong.  It's still huge.  It still has a great focus on animals and the environment.  And there's still not much to do.  When we got into the park, we immediately went to the Bug's Life show, which is a 3D interactive show.  I wasn't sure how Alli would do with the stingers and slime and 3D glasses, but she handled it okay.  After that we pretty quickly hit up the park's major thrill ride Expedition Everest...

...three times in a row.  I love a roller coaster as much as the next girl, but after three straight rides on this thing with zero waiting, I had to wave the white flag and find some water and a place to sit down.  However, this roller coaster is awesome.  It's definitely intense, and you're running from a yeti the whole time.  Alli loved it, though I am pretty sure she never saw the huge animatronic Yeti at the end of the ride since she mostly was in the position shown above.  Otherwise she never would have ridden it, because that dude was scary.

We went over to Dinoland to ride the Dinosaur ride, which was great.  We rode it a second time as well.  I think I screamed twice as loud as Alli!  We grabbed a quick pizza lunch and then went on a safari where we saw giraffes, rhinos, and elephants.

Then I made Alli walk around a little while to see the animals.  We spent a lot of time with one of my favorite zoo animals, the lowland gorilla.

Then we rode a train over to Rafiki's island where we met Rafiki himself and got to pet some goats, see the vet center for the animals of Animal Kingdom, and see a vulture.

While we were there, Alli spotted one of the famous Hidden Mickeys in a painting around the entry to the vet center.  This kid has a gift.

After we went to see some tigers and walk through an aviary (gulp), we rode Expedition Everest two more times for a total of five times today for those of you keeping count.  The park closed at six, so we went to our dinner reservations at the Rainforest Cafe right outside of the park.  It was a really cool place, and Alli was most impressed.  So suffice to say, Animal Kingdom lacked the magic of Magic Kingdom, but we still had a super day!!

And when we walked into our hotel room exhausted and ready to sleep at 7:30, we came in to a little surprise.

I kid you not when I say this place is magic.  We are having an amazing time!

Disney Vacation Day 1: Magic Kingdom

I called our arrival day in Orlando Day 0 because technically that day was a travel day and we still got four hours in the Magic Kingdom.  When Day 1 rolled around, we already had the lay of the land and an idea of what we wanted to do.  Alli is such a little thrill seeker, but she loves getting autographs from the characters too, so we tried to make sure we balanced out what we did and spent our time wisely.

We purchased the Memory Maker package, which means every picture we take in the resort automatically goes to our Disney account and I can download them each night.  It even finds us on rides, which is more than a little freaky.  But it's all so convenient because I don't have to use my phone or carry about my big camera.  And the photographers are positioned at the perfect spots for pictures.  So every single time we see one, Ryan stops up to make sure we get our money's worth.

We immediately headed to Princess Fairytale Castle to see what Princesses we could meet.  We got there when the park opened, and I kid you not the line to see Anna and Elsa from Frozen was already 75 minutes long, so we decided to wait 20 minutes to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel.

Cinderella was sweet, but Rapunzel was awesome!  She chattered the entire time and Alli really liked her.  After our meet and greet with Disney royalty, we made the mistake of taking Alli on the Haunted Mansion ride.  She was freaked out and crying - never again.  To lighten the mood, we headed to Frontierland to ride the Runaway Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  On our way we collected another set of autographs - Chip and Dale!

We also stopped in the Country Bear Jamboree, which I made us attend because it's a classic and show was starting as we passed.    And then it was on to Splash Mountain!

I didn't really think through the fact that I had lunch plans with Cinderella and I was going to get soaked on Splash Mountain...

When we walked off the ride and spotted Jessie and Woody, so we paused for more autographs and photos.

Afterwards we went to Big Thunder Mountain, which Alli throughly enjoyed.  After that, we went to Adventureland to check on Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was down so we walked through Agrabah where Ryan waited in line to hold our place to meet Aladdin and Jasmine.  Alli and I wandered around and happened on a parade where we saw Genie, the Incredibles, and Lumiere.  Ryan called me when he was close in line and we dashed over to see Jasmine & Aladdin.

Then we booked it over to Cinderella's castle to dine at Cinderella's Royal Table for lunch.  While Ryan waited to check in, I talked Alli into riding the carousel and checking the Anna and Elsa line, which was up to 90 minutes.

Ryan called again when it was our turn for Cinderella, and off went went to dine with the princesses.  I finally got to go inside the castle, and it's everything I thought it would be!

First we met with Cinderella for a second round of pictures and autographs.  I wanted to tell her to move over because I was coming for her castle, but Ryan seemed to think that would be a bad idea.  Then we were whisked up a red carpeted spiral staircase for lunch where several of Cinderella's friends came by...

Of course we filled up the autograph book with them.  Alli got a wishing star and a magic wand too.  It was a really great experience, and the food was good too.  Plus it was nice to take a midday break for an hour and to see the inside of the castle overlooking Fantasyland.  After lunch we went back into Fantasyland for rides 2 & 3 on Under the Sea, which I think I mentioned yesterday is a really great animatronic ride that tells the story of The Little Mermaid.  For such a roller coaster loving kid, Alli sure does love this easy, slow ride.  We took a picture outside Eric's castle as well.  The new Fantasyland area has some great new construction - Rapunzel's tower, the Beast's castle, Eric's castle.  It's really fantastic.  After Under the Sea, Alli was ready for a little more thrill, but I talked her into going on Enchanted Tales with Belle so we could see the last major Disney princess.  On this attraction, we interacted with characters from Beauty and the Beast like Lumiere and Madam Wardrobe.  Each kid on the ride was assigned a part from the story to act out, and my kiddo was selected the be The Beast on the basis of her ferocious roar.  Unbeknownst to us, that meant she was going to get to dance with Belle herself - how wonderful is that?

After all of this, someone was a little princessed-out (hint: it wasn't me), and so we headed to ride Pirates of the Caribbean where Alli hid her face the entire time.  But afterwards she was pretty gung ho about being made into a pirate for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, a special event that we had tickets for later that same night.

After she got all dolled up to party, we went to Alli's favorite land Tomorrowland to give Space Mountain another shot.  The last time we rode, I mentioned it broke down and Alli said she was "so excited to see how the rest of the ride went!"  So we rode it a few times in row just to make sure we got the full effect.  We also did a few more rounds on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin just so Ryan could improve his score.  When we walked out, we ran right into Buzz himself!!

We watched another parade and then made our way over to meet Merida.  While we were in line, Ryan decided to go over to see how long the wait was for Anna and Elsa.  The park was closing for a special event that we had tickets for, and we were hoping that would help the line die down.  Meanwhile, Alli and I met Merida who had a wonderful Scottish brogue and absolutely adored Alli - she even told her she'd rather ride horses and swordfight than be a princess which made Alli's face light up.  Then she called Alli her hair twin and said they had a secret club with Ariel, which Alli loved even more.  So cute.

After Merida, we went to find Ryan waiting in line for Anna and Elsa.  I assumed that he would still be in the back with another hour to go, but low and behold he was next!  So Alli &I walked up and right in to meet the Beyonces of Disney princesses - the It Girls, the ones people wait in line hours to see...and Ryan waited no more than thirty minutes.

After meeting the princesses, we walked back towards Tomorrowland and met Lotso the bear on the way.  We had a dance party with Mike & Sully from Monsters Inc., and then we rode Space Mountain at least twice.

We went back to the front of the castle for a Villains show featuring Maleficent, and then we stayed for a light and fireworks show.  After that, we hit up ride after ride because we had the park until midnight for the party.  There were so many awesome costumes that Ryan and I were feeling a little left out! I spotted Gaston from Beauty & the Beast and made Alli go meet him.  Shes asked me to come too.  He was so hilarious and he asked me when we left if I wanted some "man candy" and gave us chocolates.  I was kind of swooning.

We finally rolled out of the Magic Kingdom when the clock struck midnight after getting there at 8AM!  That's sixteen hours of Disney magic with no naps and no breaks.  Needless to say, we promptly fell into bed.