Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vacation Day 4: Animal Kingdom
Let’s just say 5:55am came very early that morning… but up we got and headed out for our last Disney day this time at Animal Kingdom. I’d specifically planned AK for the last day because it closes early and I’d made ressies for dinner at one of the resorts. I also figured with it being the Saturday of Presidents Week/end, any park we chose would probably get really crowded in the afternoon.
We arrived at rope drop and, based on what I’d gleaned from the touring plans available on the net, hit Dinoland first. This was good advice because there was absolutely no one over there! G rode the dinosaur themed Dumbo style ride (I think it’s called Triceratops Spin but I could be wrong) three times in a row without having to get off. She was in heaven! I was ready to move on.

Because she was tall enough, we also took her on the Dinosaur coaster. G likes the idea of roller coasters but does tend to get frightened. OMG I felt terrible during the ride because she was squeezing my hand so hard I could tell she was really scared. When we got off she wasn’t crying or anything but was adamant that she didn’t want to go on that one again. I assured her that she did not have to go ever again.

After that we moved on to the Safari ride, the Lion King show (which is fantastic) and the Rafiki area. We were shocked when we returned from the Rafiki area to find that the park was mobbed! I could barely push the stroller through the crowd. It was about 1pm and G was getting super tired so I got her to lie down in the stroller and nap while we walked around a bit. The wait for the Everest ride was at 90 mins. Crazy! We decided to watch the Nemo show which is amazingly well done IMO and then call it a day.

Its hard to believe or even understand how happy it makes Georgie to visit with the characters. She knows they aren't real but she just LOVES them! These pix of her with Minnie are pretty typical of the experience. Look how giddy she gets while Minnie signs her book :-)

Then they danced a bit...

and finally the official photo!

We had a dinner reservation for 5:10 and, although it was only about 4pm, thought we’d leave early and not have to rush. Well, heck, that turned out to be a good idea because when we got back to the car it wouldn’t start!! That’s right, dead battery. How annoying. Luckily Disney is well prepared for this occurrence and has security people around with these little jumper things. BTW, anyone reading this, do NOT use EZ car rental. When I called them to report the problem they were complete jerks, basically said tough luck and blamed us saying we must have left the headlights on or something. I finally just hung up on their “customer service” rep. I was so not going to let a dead battery and some jerks on the phone dampen our fun.
Dinner was the Happily Ever After meal at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. What a beautiful hotel! The meal was a buffet, nice enough, but the real attraction was the characters: Cinderella, Prince Charming, the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine and the step sisters Anastasia and Drizella. Cinderella was a bit snippy to me when I suggested a different spot for the picture with G but otherwise the whole thing was a hit! I’d been coaching G to shake her finger at Lady Tremaine and tell her “you should be nice to Cinderella” in a disapproving tone. She actually did it and in response Lady Tremaine said nastily “questionable parenting” and brushed past us. Haha!!! Georgie told Drizella (or maybe it was Anastasia I get them confused) also and the stepsister assured G that she would start being nice. It’s so cute because G knows the characters are fake and that they’re just playing with her but at the same time, she mentioned several times later that night and even the next day that “the step sister is going to be nice now cuz I told her to.” LOL!

And there you go. The Disney portion of our vacation was over. Even with the car issue and the few very minor setbacks, it was still a great 3 days. Due to the fact that we bought the premier passes we’re definitely planning a return trip in the extremely near future.

Tomorrow: Going on the big ship…

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vacation Day 3: Epcot
We did two days at Epcot last time but I still left feeling like we hadn’t really seen it. I think Epcot is one of those places that grows on you. To me it seems like it takes more effort than the other parks because you have to hunt things out and wander around rather than just stand in line and get on the ride.

The nice thing about Epcot is how spread out it is. Even though there are lots of people there it doesn’t feel as crowded, at least in the World Showcase area. But this can also be a bad thing because it means that no matter where you’re going it’s going to be a long walk. At the end of the day, my dogs were barking!

We started the day super early arriving at the gate about 7:40 for our 8:10 breakfast ressie at Akershus. G was dressed in her Belle outfit in anticipation of the princess meal. G loves to be dressed up in her “fancy” dresses and spent her time waiting to enter the park doing her version of ballet. As usual she often attracts quite a group of onlookers. She appears completely oblivious to those watching. She just twirls and whirls and waves her arms in the air swinging herself up to her tiptoes (her attempts at gracefulness). She truly does “dance like no one’s watching” and I love watching her. I know that all of a sudden, and let’s face it will probably be sooner rather than later, G is going to become more self conscious and her public dancing days will likely come to an end.

Anyway, they let us in and we were able to take some pictures of the nearly empty park on our way back to eat. Epcot is beautifully landscaped and the sky was overcast which makes for nice photos.

Just like our last visit Akershus was very nice. Some don’t care for the food but I really like it! I was slightly disappointed to again be seated in the low ceilinged room rather than the more castleish looking room in the back but , no worries :-) As is typical for these types of meals, princess interaction was very brief (“well hello princess, you look very pretty”, autograph, quick pic) but Georgie really enjoyed it. They also do a “follow your princess” with the kids parading around the room which G was thrilled to do!!! G is so princess crazy she’d probably follow one right off a cliff ;-)

After breakfast we went back to Future World (the world showcase didn’t officially open until later), grabbed a fast pass for Soarin’ then did the Nemo ride and Turtle Talk with Crush. There are some E ticket type rides up there too but they’re not Georgie friendly so we skipped them. After that we made our way back to the World Showcase. We had a 5:30 dinner ressie for Le Cellier –in Canada—so my plan was to start the showcase going to the left (I can never remember if that’s east or west) then circle all the way around to Canada –which is the second to last pavilion I believe-- by dinner. Georgie was old enough this time to do the kidcot activities and she really enjoyed them. They give each child a paper Duffy Bear on a stick that they can color any way they like. (By the way, if you don’t know who Duffy is, you’re in good company. He is a Disney character of sorts but not popular in the US). In addition, at each country’s kidcot station they have a showcase rep who will stamp the stick with the country name. I also bought her an Epcot “passport” which came with stickers of each country’s flag. So at each stop she’d color a bit of her Duffy, we’d find and affix the correct flag sticker, and have the stick stamped. Then the rep would stamp her passport , write her a little note in the passport in their native language, and tell her a fact or two about the country! It was all quite time consuming but in a good way and Georgie really felt involved in Epcot which was nice. Along the way we encountered many Disney characters, listened to some Japanese drums and took in the architecture of each country’s pavilion. Fun! BTW Morocco is awesome! It made me want to visit the real thing and check out the Kasbah :-)

As it turned out our timing was pretty good and we made it all the way around the circle and ended up at Canada right about time for dinner at Le Cellier! Le Cellier is one of my gotta try places at Epcot and I was excited about going. Dinner was pricey but awesome!! The filet mignon was super tasty. The cheese soup was a bit salty but still yummy and the creamed spinach was the bomb!! Interestingly enough G chose steak as her entrée which surprised me because we eat so little beef. It must have been good though because she gobbled up the whole thing. Alternatively she was just completely starved because we didn’t stop for lunch but, either way, it was a huge success.

With dinner complete we headed back to the front of the park to use our Soarin’ fastpass. Fastpasses had been gone for hours and the stand by time by 7pm was up to 100 mins!!! Shockingly people were still getting into line. I seriously cannot even imagine waiting that long for a Disney ride but each person is different I guess. Soarin’ is also a Disneyland ride (well Calif Adventure actually) but for some reason we’ve never gone. It is a really great ride though and G was absolutely thrilled! She was grinning from ear to ear through the whole thing. It’s so fun to see her having fun :-)

By that time it was really getting late but G wanted to do Spaceship Earth. We did it, she loved it and we were finally on our way out of the park just about 12 hours after we’d arrived. We did get a few nighttime photopass shots done in front of the Spaceship Earth ball and I’m really hoping that one of them turns out. G crashed out on the way back to the condo. No great shock as we were all exhausted!

Everybody needs a Spaceship Earth photo!

Mulan spent a lot of time with G and showed her the warrior stance. G loved it!

Its pretty much impossible for Georgie to walk past drums and not give them at least a few whacks

Georgie loves the characters and she really wanted to see the Beast. It was the longest line we waited in the whole day, about 30 mins. It was definitely worth it. G loves the Beast.

G's never seen the Aristocrats but she loves Miss Kitty :-)

G doing her kidcot book

G doing another one of her fantastic poses while we wait for our dinner ressie

So pretty!

Awesome, fantastic day!

Tomorrow: Animal Kingdom...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Vacation Day 2: Magic Kingdom
The thing about WDW is that you really need to choose which park you're going to visit on which day months in advance. Its not because of the park but because of the dining. For the popular sit down places its not uncommon to have people booking 180 days in advance! Craziness. It wasn't until a few mos later that I checked the disney websites and realized that I picked the worst days to visit epcot and magic kingdom. Oops. The reports were also predicting some rain. Whatever. We're on vacation, we can roll with anything!

Got there super early to get our passes and off to fantasyland we went. Its impossible not to compare the rides and attractions with their disneyland counterparts. People ask all the time "which is better?" and really its kind of a toss up. Small world, pirates, and fantasyland in general are all so much better at disneyland but pooh and haunted mansion are much better at WDW (mostly because of the activities that they have for waiting in line). But, to me, the thing that brings WDW to even with DL is the castle. Its huge and beautiful!!! The DL castle looks so puny and low budget in comparison. The line for Winnie the Pooh is so much fun and has so many activities that G didn't really even care about getting on the ride :-)
After that it was time for the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique! Georgie had been really, really, really looking forward to this since the moment I'd told her about it a few weeks earlier. She'd done BBB before but it was on her 3rd birthday at DL and she didn't remember.

There was very little question about which princess she was going to choose. She'd told me weeks earlier: Snow White. She didn't even really give it any thought. And, as for hairstyle choice, she took about 10 secs to decide on classic princess bun with tiara.

Here she is in front of the closet of options. So fun!G was thrilled when her FGIT (Fairy Godmother in Training) showed her to her dressing room and her dress, wand and shoes were revealed.
After a size swap out on the dress, we had the beginnings of a pretty great princess!
To say that G was thrilled with this experience would be putting it mildly. She laughed and smiled and clapped her little hands! She kept looking over at me like every 15 secs to make sure I was watching her every move. No worries... I was :-)
First the hair
Then the nails. G particularly loves to have to her nails painted
Our FGIT was nice and calm with Georgie. Comfortably but not overly chatty which was nice. Sometimes when people ask G a lot of questions she seems to get a bit stressed as I think it makes her a bit nervous. It was a good match for us.

Georgie really liked making all her own choices re: polish, make up colors, color and style of clippie.

With her sash in place, it was almost time for the big reveal. I didn't take a picture of that prefering to let the photopass people get a clear shot of it. Hopefully they captured the huge smile that came across her face when she saw herself!
Later, out front, G looking ever the princess (hearts!!) All made up with someplace to go... Cinderella's Royal Table (CRT) was calling to us. On our last visit to CRT almost 2 ys ago, we'd had a pretty big problem. At the time the manager offered us several perks if we could return later that day and I'd explained that was not possible. He then said that if we ever returned to CRT I should inform the manager and they would make it up to me. So, I did. Well actually I told the check in person who was very nice and said she would tell the manager. They did do some nice little extras (rose petals and confetti on the table, an extra dessert) but the manager never showed. When I asked the waitress later she said the manager had left and sent over another manager who, honestly, could not have cared less about what I'd been told previously. Oh well, what can you do???

Anyway, G loved having lunch in the castle. She was really into it. When it was time for the wish making she took it very seriously. She closed her eyes and was silent for a bit. When she was done I asked her what she wished for and she said "I wished for my whole family to be happy forever." Seriously, how sweet and adorable is this child???? There was lots of hugs with princesses!

Although this is not a great picture of me, I still love it. Georgie loves to squish our faces together and have pictures. See how sweet she is cradling my chin with her little hand?? Adorable!

Considering all the excitement, G still managed to eat some lunch. After that was an ice cream sundae AND a decorate your own cupcake. Sugar overload!

I highly recommend eating in the castle at least once. Its so pretty!

Feeling very royal we hit some more rides! The inside of small world is pretty good but the outside, eek!! so little and unimpressive.

G asked me to take her picture about 100 times during the day. I didn't mind indulging her :-)

While she was still all dressed up, we hit the Princess and Mickey greets.

After that we ditched the dress for a bit. They start to get a little scratchy after a bit. We did lots more rides then grabbed a bite to eat (chili dogs, yum!) and scoped out a spot for the light show and fireworks. As it turned out our spot was not so great for the lights but absolutely awesome for the fireworks which were far more important to G anyway. No surprise the fireworks were awesome!!! And with that, we headed to the exit.

What a great day!!

Next day: Epcot...