Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 11: Happy Birthday Bobby!!!
I love Epcot. I really do. I just don't understand people who say its boring... there's soooo much to do! We started out with a pre-park opening breakfast at Akershus for the princess meal. G loves the princesses and I really like the food. Bobby was still not feeling great but by this point my tummy was pretty happy and I was able to eat. G always wears a princess dress for these things and this time she chose to be Mulan. I loved the dress and the awesome thing is that its made out of recycled bed sheets and things so its soft and comfy... no itch.

After that we wandered around future world, rode Test Track as many time as we could and then hit the world showcase. No trip to Epcot would be complete without seeing the movie in China at least once. Georgie really enjoys it. I like it too, I just wish they had chairs.

Dinner was at Biergarten in the Germany pavillion. I'd read about it a lot and we'd never been so I was interested in giving it a try. Plus I thought it would be a nice adult oriented choice for Bobby's birthday dinner. BTDT. I was not impressed at all. First, you sit family style with strangers... so not my thing. Second, the food--other than the beer cheese soup and pretzel bread--is not very good at all. I guess some people go for the beer but we don't drink so that's not a draw for us. Third, the entertainment which is traditional German music, is just ok. G liked it well enough and had a good time out on the dance floor shaking her booty and doing her version of ballet with the other kids but for $35-40 pp we will not be looking to repeat the experience.

By that point, it was getting late. We had just enough time to stop by Karamell Kuche snack shop and pick up a Oatmeal Caramel Apple cookie. OMG, I'm not normally a big fan of anything with caramel in it but wow!! Let's just say that its so good that I don't even mind paying $5 per cookie :-)

They were advertising "Limited Time Magic" while we were there. Its special things that only last a week or two. The promotion that week was Winter in Canada or some such thing. WDW advertised that there would be "snow" and special characters. As you can see the characters were cute dressed in their winter wear but the "snow" was a complete joke. Every once in awhile you'd see a fluff of it drifting through the air. The week after we left was Long Lost Friends where they had very uncommon characters available for photos... would have loved to catch that one.
 Georgie always enjoys her interactions with Mulan!
So Test Track was definitely Georgie's ride of choice this trip. Kind of surprising because it is really fast but she just loved it!! I think she would have ridden it over and over again if the wait wasn't so long. How funny is our white trash ride photo (you know, snapped a pic of the pic with my cell phone :-)
 I think this pic represents pretty well how Georgie felt about Test Track!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 10: Disney Hollywood Studios
By the time we woke up Bobby was pretty sick... the ughs continue... so much so that we weren't even sure we were going to go to the parks that day. By late morning Bobby had decided to "just say no to sickness" and give it a try so off to Disney Hollywood Studios (DHS) we went. We took it very slowly and managed to eek out some fun.

At some point Georgie got it into her head that she wanted to ride Tower of Terror (ToT). Ummm, ok. Of course, we have this ride at home, at Calif Adventure, and she's never expressed even the slightest interest. But, at WDW when you drive onto the property they have this big replica type thing of it that moves. G always asks about it. I tried to talk her out of it. I told her it was going to probably be scary and I wasn't sure she would like it but she could not be dissuaded. I had about zero interest in riding ToT but because G really, really wanted to and Bobby wasn't feeling up to being jostled about, I gave in and said ok.

Luckily there was no wait. First they let you into a dark creepy room and show you some kind of Twilight Zone video. G has absolutely no fear of Haunted Mansion but she didn't like being in that room at all. She looked up at me with super sad eyes.... she was scared. I told her "no problem" we'll just go... the relief on her face was immediate. On ToT, chickening out requires going downstairs in a regular elevator. When we got to the bottom the castmember (all of whom dress in bellhop oufits because ToT is supposed to be a hotel) asked G if she would help them. G looked a bit apprehensive but said ok. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. The guy disappeared and returned with a child sized bellhop uniform complete with jacket and hat! After she put it on they explained how to direct the ride visitors off the ride when the elevator door opened using the Disney wave: two hands to the side, pointing with two fingers (index and middle). G was very excited to be part of the show!

One of the things we normally enjoy doing at DHS is seeing the Beauty and the Beast (BatB) show. Unfortunately it wasn't playing because they were re-doing the stage or something. Bummer. We were walking past the entry to the stage area on our way to someplace else and I noticed a line of people that led back and out of sight. Hmmmm. I've been to WDW enough times to know that when I see a random line that appears to be for nothing, I need to go investigate. Ta duh!!! The BatB gang were doing photos...not Beauty and Beast but the enchanted friends Lumiere, Chip and Cogsworth!!! Oh my gosh! So fun! Truly a character hunters score. So much so that I posted a question on facebook to a guy who has a very popular character hunting website, Kenny the Pirate, to see what was up. He did a blog post about it featuring our pic. You can see it here

We've never seen Fantasmic at home but wanted to make sure we saw the WDW version. Eh, I don't know. It was good I guess but nothing to get overly excited about. After that it was time to head back to the condo. G was tired so she rode in the stroller... oh yeah, the stroller. We don't use one for G normally but at WDW its a must. The condo that we rented was supposed to supply a stroller so we opted not to bring our own. Mistake... yes they had a "stroller" but I'm pretty sure they bought it in the toy section at walmart for $9.95. It was a complete joke. But, because the rental ones suck and we didn't feel up to going and buy one we decided to use it to at least drag our stuff around. OK. Long story I know but it all leads up to G being exhausted at the end of Fantasmic; she sat down in the stroller and got her hand pinched in the hinge. UGH!!! It was bad, really bad. G is not a drama queen at all but she screamed and screamed and screamed for about 20 mins. It was so bad we went to First Aid. I felt so bad and I was so mad about that crappy stroller!

G as Junior Cast Member... the cuteness is almost unbearable :-)  Thank goodness I had my camera with me.
 Waiting for the elevator to open
 A real castmember demonstrating the "Disney point"
I know for people who don't care about the characters this photo means absolutely nothing. But, take it from me, for character hunters this is an unbelievable score! The only thing that would have made it better is if I would have had G's Belle dress handy ;-)
Overall, even with all the ughs, it was a pretty good day. But, it was very tiring.
Day 9: A day of Ughs
I just have to say it was the smoothest disembarkation I've ever experienced. Disney has you attend breakfast in the restaurant you ate in the night before. When its your turn you just walk off the ship. Luggage? Very organized... took all of 30 secs to locate all of our bags that were grouped together. Wow is all I have to say. Just wow!

We'd arranged for the same car pick up to return us to the airport so we could get our rental car. Weren't we surprised to find that the rental company was no longer located in the airport? Ugh.

Ok, after a bit of effort and an hour or so we finally got that figured out. This is when I first started calling the condo rental company to see if we could do early check in. No luck but no worries. We decided to head to MK for the day.

We got there no problem, got out of the car and were waiting for the tram when Georgie puked. Ugh. Thing is, she didn't really seem sick. I think it was all the jostling around we'd done in the last couple hours. I kept calling the condo rental place about early check in but couldn't get ahold of anyone. We were kind of stranded so we figured we'd just go into MK. I actually had a pretty big day planned for us: Chef Mickey's for dinner and then the Pirate and Pals Fireworks cruise. My fingers could not have been crossed any harder that it would work out.

As it turned out, my little trooper rallied and we ended up having a really nice day! We spent a few hours at MK then headed over to the Contemporary. Chef Mickey's was pretty much what we remembered. The only funny part was that we got kind of dissed by Donald Duck. He came over and G hugged on him like she always does and then he took off. We kind of called him back so we could snap a pick and he threw up his little plush arms in protest. It was at the same time annoying and amusing... grumpy little duck :-)
After that we were off to the Pirate Pals cruise experience. We started out in a party room with pirates hosts, pirate music, pirate decorations and snacks galore! Of course, we weren't at all hungry... we'd just finished dinner. Georgie did manage to choke down a few desserts LOL! After that we went out onto the boat for the cruise. It was silly and fun! Our pirate host did Disney trivia and then we watched the fireworks. It was nice watching them over the water with the music piped in. We returned to find Peter Pan waiting for us.

By that time we were all pretty exhausted so we made our way to the condo. We arrived, punched the code into the lock box and, guess what??? the door didn't open!! Super UGH!!! We tried it over and over again. We made sure we had the right condo repeatedly. I got out the paperwork to call the emergency number and got a voice mail. I then spent the next 30 mins or so trying every imaginable number I could while G laid on top of what looked like a bench but turned out to be the lid to a fancy trash can wrapped in her blanket. To say it was grim would be putting it mildly. At that point I'd had enough and went to the car with G to call the 24 hour emergency number a few more times and to figure out what hotel we'd be staying in. All of a sudden Bobby waved to me to bring G in. Miraculously while punching in random numbers he happened upon the right 4 numbers and the door opened! Thank goodness. I don't think I've ever been so relieved.

Finally an anti-ugh... yay for us!!!  ;-)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 8: Castaway Cay
Its Disney's private island. Good news...through significant effort I finally consistently pronounce "cay" correctly as "key" instead of incorrectly as "kay". Whoot! Whoot!

The island itself is nice. Two negatives in my book: First, the family beach is entirely within a rock enclosed area so there are no waves whatsoever. Georgie's favorite thing to do is play in the waves. Second, rather than the soft, white sand that is abundant on many of the the Caribbean islands, the sand at Castaway is rough and rocky with lots of shells. Otherwise, it is very beautiful. Unfortunately I still wasn't feeling 100% so we didn't walk around the island a lot. The weather was absolute perfection as it had been for our entire trip. Not overly hot and never even the tiniest bit cold. I pulled a deck chair into the water and sat there for most of the afternoon watching G play. Bobby and G created a mermaid sculpture in the sand. Pleasant day.

We made our way back to the ship relatively early. Thanks to Bobby's insistence, we were industrious and managed to get our packing done (yay for us!) then got ready for dinner. Our final night was in Animator's Palate which was perfect. When we sat down we were each provided with a placemat with a paper doll type drawing on it. You then got to decorate your little person the way you wanted with markers and such. While we were enjoying our meal, they collect the drawings then somehow scan them into a computer program that animates them. While we ate dessert they played a cartoon type thing that features all our little people. Its difficult to explain but, take my word for it, its fun and super cute!

After taking in the show we put poor, exhausted little G to bed. Normally we spend the last night of a cruise hanging out on the balcony and complaining that its almost over but, because it was January and we were heading north, it was too COLD! Instead, we celebrated the fact that I finally felt like I could eat something by ordering way too much room service :-) Unfortunately, by this point in time, Bobby started feeling sick :-(

Having the characters on the beach was really fun!

Georgie has a soft spot for Captain Hook...

I think Chip and Dale are the most fun characters to interact with. You can always get them to compete and act silly. Just before this picture was taken Bobby asked them which one of them could run faster. They then spent the next couple minutes racing each other around the dock area and comparing muscles. So goofy.

The lobby area of the ship was so pretty

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 7: Sea day
Another slow day. Georgie went to the kid's club for awhile and then we wandered, sat on the balcony, etc. They were having a dance party in the lobby area that sounded kind of fun. G seemed to have a good time but it was pretty crazy. It kind of reminded me of the Mickey Backyard BBQ we did in September only with many fewer people which made it tolerable.
Obviously, this is a horrible picture but it still cracks me up. Bobby's enthusiasm is contrived, Georgie's is not at all :-)
With Remy from Ratatouille. These guys rank right up there with Country Bears on the creepiness scale but, as usual, G thought the were fantastic and hugged and hugged them!
And Emile
Georgiana loves, loves, loves her daddy... feeling's totally mutual
I love the little purple dress G wore that night and words cannot express how incredibly excited she was to wear those little heels. I think its obvious from this picture that G felt very special that night. Yes, she looks like a diva but I can assure you she has the heart of an angel.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 6: Cozumel
We'd been to Cozumel several times and had planned that we'd stay on the ship that day. I still felt a little crappy so laying by the pool and moving as little as possible sounded pretty good. G took the opportunity to drag Bobby on the Aquaduck over and over and over and over again. I think they did it about 25 times. G was in heaven!

We made sure to get a nap in hopes that we could enjoy Pirate Night! G was really looking forward to the evening. I'm not exactly sure what she expected but she was definitely up for some fun.

I think by this point I was finally able to eat a bit of dinner... it was an exciting couple of bites ;-) After that we wandered a bit then hit the Pirate Party. It was fun but super crowded so we decided to watch from a distance and grab a spot for the fireworks. From what I understand Disney is the only cruise line to do fireworks at sea. It really is neat. G loves fireworks so she really enjoyed herself.

 Georgie was excited to see what had become her favorite character out again on Pirate Night!

 I'm not really getting "pirate" from Donald's get up but, whatever.
Pirate Mickey was probably my favorite of the evening. Super cute costume. Georgie was in heaven wearing her own pirate costume again. Participation on the ship was pretty great! I'd estimate that about 75% of the passengers dressed up in some way and many went ALL out with some some amazing costuming. It made for a fun, party type atmosphere.
Really fun night!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 5: Costa Maya
Costa Maya was a new port for us. Initially, we didn't really have a plan for the day other than going to the beach. Sadly, by this point in time I was so sick I could barely walk. Ugh. Instead I slept late while Bobby took G to breakfast. I was eventually able to drag myself out of bed and shower. I really wanted to at least visit the port so we ventured into town. It really wasn't worth it. It was one of those cruiseline manufactured port areas and we had to walk really far to get there. Nuff said.

When we got back we did G's favorite thing... visited characters! Seriously, the girl never tires of them. She dances and hugs and jumps and giggles and hugs some more. Fun, fun!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Its official! Georgiana is 5 yrs old! I can’t believe it. Even though Bobby suggested to her that perhaps she should just spend another year being 4, she decided that she’d go ahead and be five. Darn it all. My baby is getting older. So wonderful and yet so sad. Sigh.

Even though today’s port was Grand Cayman we decided to spend the day on the ship instead. We’ve been to GC twice before. Plus, I’d heard that port days can be awesome days to stay on the ship; everyone is off doing excursions and tours leaving the ship pretty empty. We had a late breakfast, visited with a few characters then hit the pool. It was great! Whereas the day before there was not a single open deck chair, we now had our choice! G was able to enjoy the Mickey pool and other water activities without a crowd. It was a very nice change.

We returned to the room to get ready for the evening and G watched part of a Disney movie. Its nice that there’s an On Demand station that shows Disney films. For the 45 mins or so before dinner they have quite a few characters available. Bobby and I are becoming experts at timing the lines to ensure we obtain maximum character coverage  Then it was off to dinner at the third and final restaurant in our dining rotation, Animator’s Palette. Wow! Super fun place. The animation artist theming is great! From the pencil shaped columns to the paintbrush-shaped butter knives its just cute, cute, cute. We had a great table right next to one of the video screens allowing G to have a great view of the show. Our food, especially my salmon tartare starter, was super tasty as well. With few exceptions I’ve been very impressed with the food in the dining rooms and the quick service places.

Dinner included a round of “Happy Birthday” which thrilled G to death. By this point, G was exhausted and could barely keep her eyes open but we really wanted to see the evening’s show “Buckets and Boards”. We decided to make our way to the front of the ship where the theater is located and let Georgie take a daddy nap… you know, sleep on daddy’s shoulder. It worked out pretty well. By the time the show began, G had slept a bit and was able to enjoy the show. Actually enjoy is putting it mildly, she absolutely howled with laughter. The show is a musical comedy duo that’s a bit hard to describe but suffice to say, they’re funny!

Once the show was over, G was completely done and started asking if we were going to go back to the room to sleep. Poor baby. I think we wore her out. PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

This was the craziest and most energetic Peter Pan I've ever come across. He ran around, screamed and jumped up onto stairway banisters. At a few points I was actually concerned for him and the safety of some of the passengers. G and all the kids adored him and thought he was the greatest thing ever. Truthfully, he was quite entertaining but wow!
Happy Birthday to Georgiana!  
I'd always wanted to see Belle in her Christmas dress. Usually you have to be at WDW at Christmas time but, I guess since the ship was still decorated for Christmas, they brought her out. G and I saw her and ran!!! Yes, we're crazy. 
With the Buckets and Boards guys. They were so fun!