Saturday, July 18, 2015

Taking Disney by Storm--October 2014

Well, it finally happened!  We went to Disney World!  What an amazing trip, truly a vacation of a lifetime!  Big thanks to Bud and KayKay for providing this opportunity!  It was amazing!  Prepare for a long post with plenty of pictures!

This trip began with months of pre-planning!  Mom, Jodie, and I talked over all the details we didn't want to miss, along with a Disney travel planner whom Jodie knew.  We booked meal reservations and chose fast passes as early as we were allowed, so everything was planned out way before we arrived in Orlando!  If you're interested, in addition to our own past experiences and the advice of many knowledgeable friends, we also relied heavily on PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook.

First, we went over Fall Break.  We took two days off of school, combined it with with a weekend and Fall Break, so we had several days to enjoy all the awesomeness Disney has to offer!  The Memphis cousins' Fall Break covered a portion of that time as well, so we all got to use vacation days and didn't have to miss too much school.

Second, not only was this our first trip to Disney, but it was the kids' first plane ride!  We flew out of Chattanooga since the price was better there and had to change planes once.  THAT was an adventure!  Our plane out of Chattanooga was slightly delayed, so when we arrived to make our connecting flight we had to really BOOK IT to make our plane!  And of course, the gates were nowhere near each other!

Imagine the scene:  Jim leads the way, rushing through the airport, weaving in and out of the crowd of other people trying to get to their own gates.  The kids trail in a line behind him, often running to keep up, and constantly turning around to make sure I'm still there.  I bring up the rear, making sure we don't lose any kids and yelling over and over for them to stop turning around (because every time they turn around, they slow down!).  We were quite a spectacle!  I noticed quite a few amused faces as we flew by.  So glad we could bring others joy!  And thankfully, we made our gate on time!

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside.  It was LATE when we finally got there the first night.  Everyone else had been there for hours!  But it was all good!  We were at Disney World!

The first morning we ate at Chef Mickey's character breakfast.  It was a buffet overflowing with delicious food, everything you could ever want for breakfast!

Then it was off to the Magic Kingdom!  I think I was just as excited as the kids, looking forward to riding the rides I remembered from past visits!

Graham and his boys!

3D glasses rock!

I think this was also the day we ate at Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant.  The food was good, but the best part was our unexpected table neighbors--Boston Rob and Amber (from Survivor, for those of you who don't know) and their beautiful daughters!  Jim recognized Rob's voice before we recognized their faces!  We pretended not to know them and struck up a conversation about the challenge of travelling with so many children (theirs are all younger than ours), and they were fascinated by our quads!  I'm certain we were able to talk to them so long because they thought we didn't know who they were!

Outside the Haunted Mansion, one of my all-time favorite Disney rides!  Everyone loved it, except Zachary!  He had worked himself into a terror before we even got out of the line and spent the whole ride with his hands over his eyes!  Even with me beside him explaining the whole time about how it wasn't scary!  Oh, well!

We wore ourselves out doing everything a person could do that day, at least until the 7:00 closing time.  The park was open after that, but only for people who paid extra to go to Mickey's Trick 'r Treat party, or whatever it was called.  We didn't do that, which was fine since we were all exhausted anyway!

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

I had not been to Disney World since Jim and I honeymooned there in 2000, so Animal Kingdom was just as new to me as it was to the kids!  We loved the safari and the Kali River Rapids, and those that rode Expedition Everest (not me!) loved it too!

That night my family and Bud and KayKay ate at 'Ohana.  It was amazing!  So much food!  We ate and ate and ate!  The kids had fun learning to dance and racing coconuts!

Day 3:Epcot

I love this picture of the girls!  They looked like this pretty much the whole trip!  Cousin love!  I think I took this shot while we were waiting in line for Soarin'.  What an amazing ride that was!  It was definitely my favorite ride at Epcot!

We took this shot of the kids outside the Coral Reef restaurant where my family ate that night while Bud and KayKay ate at Teppan Edo with Jodie and her family.  The kids loved the giant aquarium inside, and could hardly eat for watching the fish!

After dinner, we all met up at Test Track, Epcot's other amazing ride.

 Inside, you get to design your own race car, and then the diagnostics of that car are applied to s simulator car and you get to test it out.  Ours went REALLY fast!  I was a little scared, but it was fun!

Day 4: Hollywood Studios

Our day at Hollywood Studios started bright and early, lining up at the gate before it even opened.  Why did we get there so early?  Two words: Jedi Training!  We had been told, and rightly so, that if your kids wanted to participate in the Jedi Training Academy, and our boys definitely did, then you had to be there before the park opened and go immediately to the ABC studio to sign up.  

We learned just how true this was while waiting outside for the park to open.  We happened to be standing near a woman who was there with her son.  She had come the day before and been too late for him to get a spot!  She was determined not to miss out that day, and so were we!  It was lucky we met her too, since we were able to follow her and didn't have to worry about figuring out where to go!

Thankfully, we made it and secured a spot later in the day for the boys to become Jedi knights!

Zachary even got to use the force to push back a couple of storm troopers!

Jonathan, Zachary, Thomas, Kallen, Reagan, Kinley, and Graham in front

At the Art of Animation, we enjoyed an air-conditioned break from the blazing Florida heat and an art lesson.  We were walked step-by-step through a drawing of Snow White, with varying degrees of success.  She was quite challenging to draw!

Honey, we shrunk the kids!

Outside the Tower of Terror, these four brave kids joined their parents (yes, I actually rode this one!) on this stomach-dropping ride.  Actually, Graham rode it too, but didn't want to be in the picture!

That night, we ate at the Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater, one of my all-time favorites!  Surprisingly, the kids didn't really like it!  The old sci-fi movie trailers that play on the big screen while you eat scared them!  I couldn't believe it!

We ended the evening with the Fantasmic water and lights show!  It was definitely worth the wait and the late night!

Day 5: Magic Kingdom Take 2

For our last day, we returned to the Magic Kingdom to do some of the things we missed the first day and re-do some of our favorites!

One of the highlights of the day was our trip to the Bibbid Bobbidi Boutique to get our princess on!

In the meantime, the boys were joining the Pirate's League!

We also paid a visit to Anna and Elsa!  Thank goodness we had a fast pass and didn't have to wait in the TWO HOUR LINE to see them!

The line for Enchanted Tales with Belle was happily not that long!

That night we ate at Cinderella's Royal Table!

Unfortunately, rain had plagued us all day, and that night caused the cancellation of
the Main Street Electrical Parade, a great disappointment to me since I had seen it before and really wanted the kids to see it!

Our fantastic trip was sadly at an end.  It was so hard to go back to work after this vacation!  I felt like it should be summer break!  However, as hot as it was while we were there, I can't imagine being there in the hot summer months!  

Thank you again, Bud and KayKay, for taking us all to Disney World!  And thank you, Aunt Jojo, for all the work you did in planning most of it!  When can we go again?