Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hollywood Studios- and bidding farewell :(

Even though I think our trip was the perfect length (it's very doubtful that anyone over the age of 4.5 could have done another day of walking in the hot sun, us old folks were sore and tired!), it did go by SO quickly! Our last day was spent at Hollywood Studios. We arrived a few minutes after rope drop (oops) and raced back to Toy Story Mania, which probably consistently has the longest lines of any ride at any park. We were at the FP line by 9:15 and the return time was already a couple of hours out.


No problem though, lots to do! We ducked into the first Little Mermaid show, which unfortunately broke halfway through (there must be something about us and breaking things). So we went across the courtyard and lined up for Disney Junior Live- it was a hit! It had puppets from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sophia the 1st, Doc McStuffins and...most importantly...Jake and the Neverland Pirates! Those are all of her favorite shows, so she loved it. Also, fake snow and gold doubloons rained down from the sky- pretty much the coolest for a 4 year old.

Disney Jr dance party!!!


Next we decided to meet some characters! Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope were up first, Maddie and I both loved that movie! Then we rushed over to meet one of her absolute favorites (just look at her dress!), Jake. This wasn't QUITE as exciting as meeting Hook and Pan, but it was close :). On our way back to Toy Story Mania, we also ran into a Green Army Man! A tiny bit creepy in the face if you ask me, lol. Mads didn't seem to mind though.

I'm gonna wreck iiiiit!



We rode TSM and it was pretty fantastic! I'm not sure it's worth waiting 75+ minutes in line for, but I really loved it. Maddie liked it ok, she got a little frustrated with this one because she could see that she wasn't hitting much, whereas in Buzz you can't really tell and she always thought she was winning, lol.


Next we did two classic rides, the Backlot Tour and the Great Movie Ride. The Backlot Tour was so so, but Maddie really liked the Catastrophe Canyon part. I'd say that both of these rides are probably due for a bit of an update, lol. But they were fun. Mads wasn't too sure about all the guns shooting in the Great Movie Ride- she wasn't really scared, but she wasn't sure if it was real or not.

watch out behind you!


It was time for lunch, and we decided to try out Pizza Planet! It actually wasn't as Toy Story themed as I thought it would be, but the pizza was pretty good. We played "the claw" game, but apparently those games are a rip off even in Disney World! After lunch Dad ran over to get Rock'n'Roller coaster FPs while we explored the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. It's a HUGE play area, and not really possible to watch your kid unless you stay right beside them. But, there's only one exit and it's manned by a cast member, so we set her loose and told her to check in every few minutes, and she did! She had a blast!


It was time to head to the other side of the park for the thrill rides! First up was ToT, which had a super short stand by line. Dad and I tried to trick Mads, telling her that this was our new hotel, and we were going upstairs in the elevator to take a nap, lol. But she did get a little nervous when it went pitch black, so I quickly explained what was about to happen! I think the dark was much scarier than the falling for her though, because she absolutely loved that part! As soon as we stopped, she wanted to ride it again. Me too!



The plan was for Mom and Dad to go try out the R'n'R single rider line while Mads and I did ToT again, but somehow the line had gone from 10 minutes to an hour! Cray. So the two of us went back over to Animation Courtyard and this time saw the entire Little Mermaid show. It was good, Maddie loved it and I had to keep telling her that if she wanted to sing along she had to do it really quitely, lol!


We rejoined Mom and Dad, and Maddie got some ice cream while Mom and I used some R'n'R FPs. Then Dad and I went...that is one crazy roller coaster! I loved it, but I have to say I think ToT is my favorite. It's easier on my head and joints! Maddie and I had FPs to use at ToT at this point, so we went together and rode it twice more in a row. Very very fun, and by the last time I think I finally convinced Maddie that it's fun to scream on scary rides.


For our last show at Disney, we went to Beauty and the Beast. It was SO good! It was probably my favorite show that we saw the whole trip. I was very impressed with the talent, and the length was perfect for kids of all ages. Maddie loved it too, she was sitting on the end of the aisle right in front of us to see better, and she couldn't stop turning around to smile at us.


Our plan kind of fell apart at this point, it was about 6:00 and we were all soooooo tired. The original plan was to stay for the 8:30 Fantasmic. So we hiked back across the park and did Star Tours, which was fun! I'm glad we got to do it. We checked on the TSM and Buzz lines a couple of times, but they were still pretty long, and the playground was closed, so we made the executive decision to call it a day!


We decided that margaritas were necessary for our aching bodies, so we found a nearby TexMex restaurant (thanks Yelp!) and had some yummy food and a pitcher of margs. A pretty great way to end our trip I think! We crashed as soon as we got back to the hotel, what a wonderful, exhausting week!


The next morning everyone packed up, and Mads and I headed back to the pool for one more short visit. We also explored the Little Mermaid section of the resort that we hadn't seen yet- it was awesome too! Mads loved the giant Ursula and she was really excited to see the dinglehopper.


That's pretty much it folks! We hit up the Ink and Paint gift shop at the hotel and then it was time to make the long trek home. In the pouring rain. Wooomp.


Thanks for reading these incredibly long recaps!!! It was such a fun trip and our mission was accomplished- Maddie had the time of her life. I can't even count the number of times that I heard her say under her breath that week "I just love Disney World." I may need this blog to remember the details, and what rides we rode...but the look on her face when she met Hook, Pan, Ariel, rode her first big roller coaster, ate in the Beast's castle, etc...I will never forget! Thank you to my wonderful mom and dad for making this trip possible- I don't think any of us will ever forget it!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Magic Kingdom, part 2

Yoho Yoho, a pirate's life for me!

After waking up for rope drop and staying out for Wishes on Tuesday night, we slept in on Wednesday! It was much needed. After we woke up, we decided to go get a hot breakfast at the food court, Landscape of Flavors. Maddie wanted waffles and guess what? They were Simba waffles! It came with 3, we got 2 Simbas and one Cars waffle...she made me eat that one, lol.

Then we had some more pool time (mostly me pretending to drown while Maddie the mermaid saves me) and then we headed in to get ready for day 2 at the Magic Kingdom! We got there around 12:30 and sent Dad to get FPs for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad while we made our way to the Haunted Mansion. On our way down Main St, music started blasting and we realized a parade was about to go by! It wasn't too crowded at all, we were able to just stop right on the curb and watch the Move It Shake It Parade go by- so fun! 

We met Dad outside the Haunted Mansion and waited in a quick standby line (and it's pretty fun line too!). As predicted, Maddie was a huuuuge fan of this ride. Her favorite holiday is Halloween and she loves all things spooky- so this was right up her alley! The only thing that could drag her away was the promise of a grown up roller coaster- Big Thunder Mountain RR!

It wasn't quite time to use our FPs, so we spotted a small playground and right behind- Woody and Jesse!!! As my dad said, before there was Lion King, there was Toy Story. Maddie's original obsession! Remember this little munchkin? She was excited to meet them, so I waited in line while she played and Mom and Dad grabbed some frozen snacks to cool us all off!

vintage Mads

It was worth the wait, Woody and Jesse were great and Maddie really enjoyed meeting them! She told Jesse about how she loves to lasso things, lol.

they match!

Dad ran and got FPs for Splash Moutntain, and then it was time for BMTRR- it was a hit! This child just can't be scared- the bigger and faster the rides get, the bigger her smile gets! She wouldn't even let me hold on to her on any of the rides. Anytime my arm got near her she'd swat it away. I did finally convince her to stop laughing at me and calling me a scaredy pants for screaming, lol.

We had some time before our Splash Mtn FPs, so we went over to Adventureland hoping to jump on Pirates of the Caribbean- but it was down, boo! So we wandered around the pirate gift shop and found some treasures-  a pirate Mickey shirt for Maddie and a HOOK for Papa! She has been wanting him to get one forever as he frequently gets to play Captain Hook to her Peter Pan. She was so excited about her shirt that she changed into it and immediately started dancing a pirate jig and singing, lol! We couldn't get a replay of the jig, but she did reprise the song many, many times.

We decided to ride the Jungle Cruise next, which was corny, but fun. Then we had time to see the Enchanted Tiki Room, which was only corny, lol. Maddie freaked out when they made it look like it was storming outside, bc she thought it really was and was afraid the rides would close down! She was relieved to find out that it was still bright and sunny outside, and it was time for Splash Mountain! As we gently glided past Brer Rabbit, Fox and Bear, Maddie complained that we were on a baby ride- but then came the drop! That was pretty fun- of course Mads and I were in the first row so we got very wet! Then the ride got stuck for a minute next to a waterfall and Mom got very wet too, lol.

After we were dome with Adventureland and Frontierland, we headed back over to the old Fantasyland. We got a snack from under the Big Top- (um, yum!) and then Maddie and I did Dumbo one more time because she wanted to play in the waiting play area again, lol.  After that there was a short line for Goofy and Donald- and Dad had been dying to meet Goofy, haha! 
 yes, I am wearing Maddie's youth sized Mickey ears on my pea sized head

Next we decided to take a nice break on the People Mover in Tomorrowland- man that is a great ride! Seriously, I could've ridden that for an hour, comfortable seats, a nice breeze and great people watching. But the Buzz line was short, so Maddie and I decided to do that one more time while Mom and Dad headed to Space Mtn (it was closed, womp). After we rode Buzz, we saw a little impromptu dance party going on, and my very friendly little girl hopped right in there, danced with Chip, Dale (Chips'n'Dip as she calls them) and Stitch! They danced with Simba too, which made her day!

We had a little more time before our dinner reservation, so we did the carousel and then a Magic Kingdom classic- It's a Small World! I think this is my mom and dad's least favorite ride due to the repetitiveness of the song, but how can you do MK and not ride IaSW?? 

Next up- dinner! I was more excited than a 30 year old (but hey, according to several cast members I'm under 18) should be about this dinner- we ate at the Beast's castle in the new Be Our Guest restaurant. At lunch BOG is counter service but at dinner it is table service and it's a tough reservation to get. I lucked into an 8:00 reservation very early into our trip planning and scheduled our trip around it!
we decided to lose the pirate shirt and bandana for dinner! 
gargoyles guarding the castle!

When it was our turn to go in, we found out we'd be eating in the West Wing! I was really excited. The main eating area is the ballroom, and it is so beautiful and has the appearance of snow falling outside the windows- but I think the West Wing is the coolest. It's much smaller, quieter and more intimate. And, it has the enchanted rose and a magical portrait! Every 15-20 minutes, when all of the petals fell off the enchanted rose, there would be thunder/storm sounds and for a second or two the portrait of Prince Adam would turn into a portrait of the Beast. Maddie loved "catching" the portrait change!

Our dinner was really yummy, we all got steak frites and Maddie enjoyed the classic French dish of buttered noodles and cheese. I told mom that she had to wear her birthday button (they gave her this at check in, and everywhere she wore it people went out of their way to tell her happy birthday!) for a surprise dessert. At BOG, they serve "gray stuff," but only for those celebrating something, it's not on the menu. If you can't figure out why they'd have something with such an awful name, go back and listen to the song Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast :). It was a very pretty presentation, and while I don't know if I'd go so far as "delicious," it was very good! Then we got real desserts from the dessert cart, and the chocolate cupcake that Dad and I split was indeed delicious! 

strawberry cupcake for Mads, of course!

All in all it was a very fun and special dinner. And afterwards, we went to the Beast's study to meet him and get a picture! He was humongous, but very sweet and Maddie of course loved him. Perfect ending to our night! 

By the time we got out, it was about 9:45, and while it was SO hard not to stop and watch Celebrate the Magic, a projection show they do on the castle before Wishes starts. But we wanted to get the heck outta dodge before the fireworks crowd hit the bus line! We made it, and even got to see most of Wishes as the bus was pulling up and away- great way to end a wonderful second day at Magic Kingdom!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Magical Magic Kingdom! part 1

Tuesday morning means Magic Kingdom!!! I am a thrill ride type of person, and most of the rides at MK don't really appeal to me that much...but even so, there is definitely something wonderful and magical about walking down Main St, seeing the Castle, and the spectacular parades and fireworks here. For our first day there, we arrived about 15 minutes before rope drop and got a great spot to watch the opening show- it was great and Maddie was thrilled to see Peter Pan ride in on the train!

 My headband was originally intended for Maddie, but it wouldn't stay on her head, lol. I got asked 3 times at MK for my age, bc I was trying to ride something with Maddie and kids under 7 have to ride with an adult...

First up was a mad dash to Enchanted Tales with Belle, the most popular attraction in the New Fantasyland, while our trusty FP runner got Peter Pan passes. After a minor communication snafu, we did end up having to wait about 15 minutes for Belle, but much better than the 45+ minute waits we saw the rest of the day. It was cute, but not worth longer than 15 minutes in my opinion!
comparing to Belle in her cottage...Belle was a shorty!
Posing with Belle after story telling...Maddie played the part of a plate, hahaha.

Next we tried to do Philharmagic, but it broke halfway through the show! We knew we'd have to come back to that one- this movie shows clips from Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Lion King and Peter's like they made it for Maddie- she said it was the best movie she's ever seen! So we went over to Prince Eric's castle and rode Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which was fun but nothing super special. Then it was time for the Peter Pan ride- for anyone that doesn't know, Peter Pan is the new Lion King in our Maddie LOVED this ride. For some reason, this ride has really long lines all day, so we got a second fast pass to ride it again after lunch! Then we tried Philharmagic again- this time it worked all the way through and it was great.

Next was lunch at Cosmic Ray's before we headed over to the old Fantasyland rides. We got FPs for the Barnstormer and got in line for Dumbo. The wait was 25 minutes, but they have a new system where kids can play in a fun indoor playground while you wait- you get a buzzer and they buzz you when it's time for you to get on the ride! Maddie LOVED this system. The girl loves a play area and we were happy to sit down in the a/c. Dumbo was as fun as Dumbo can be, then we played in the water area a little bit before riding The Barnstormer! Maddie loved that- she is well on her way to being a full on thrill ride lover!

After loading up on cotton candy, we moved to Tomorrowland, where we got FPs for Buzz Lightyear. While waiting for our time to arrive, we went to the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor- hilarious! I could have done that several times, I thought it was really funny and enjoyable. For our last ride of the day it was Buzz Lightyear! Always fun to ride in the dark and shoot stuff.

It was about 3:00, and time to head back to the hotel for pool time and rest. We had a big night ahead! My one regret about our trip is not having more resort time- AoA was SO over the top cool and Maddie loved her time spent hanging out at the pool or playing in the elephant graveyard. There are 3 pools at AoA, two small quiet pools in the Little Mermaid and Cars sections, and The Big Blue Pool in the Finding Nemo section. It's one of Disney World's biggest pools and it's great! There's a little playground, a splash ground and the big blue pool itself. I can't believe I don't have any pictures of it, but I never took my phone to the pool! Here's a stock photo to give you an idea.
photo courtesy of Papa!

After that it was naptime for Maddie and rest time for everyone. She, of course, did NOT have any trouble falling asleep! In fact, she was downright grumpypants when it was time to wake up for a quick bath and on to our night time suprise!!! But that frown turned upside down when she found out what she was going to be wearing to that surprise...her Peter Pan outfit! 
Pan ready for her adventure!

The surprise was the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage at the Contemporary Hotel. Basically, you go to the hotel, have a meet and greet with Captain Hook and Smee, enjoy a multitude of desserts, snacks and drinks, and then board a pontoon boat to view Wishes (MK fireworks) from the lake in front of the park. When Maddie found out who we would be meeting, she literally fell to the floor and started laughing and convulsing. She didn't know what to do with herself- Mads loves a good villain and Captain Hook is not only in her favorite movie Peter Pan, but also her favorite show, Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Ever since she found out she was going to WDW, she's been talking about meeting Captain Hook.
 first look at Captain Hook walking in the room!
 the only character that she was slightly nervous to walk up to- after all, she was dressed as his nemesis!
They were GREAT with her! Smee gave hugs, and CH did double takes and then challenged her to a sword fight! 
 After they were done signing autographs for everyone, Hook came back to Mads and played with her some more, trying to steal her popsicle. It was so great- easily the best time of our trip!

We boarded our ship, and while we were making our way to Magic Kingdom, we got to see the Electrical Water Parade up close! That was pretty neat. The pirate in charge of our ship was our entertainment, and he was VERY entertaining! And the view of the fireworks (they piped in the music and narration into the boat) was seriously awesome. We were able to see the whole show so well, but the fireworks weren't too loud and no crowds to deal with! 

On the way back to the Contemporary, there was lots of pirate trivia- mostly questions from Peter Pan, and I couldn't believe how many answers Maddie knew! As we pulled back into the dock- there was a special surprise waiting for us.....Peter Pan himself! A nice cast member back at the dessert party had told us (after seeing Maddie's love for all things Peter Pan) to get in line quickly to see PP, bc it could back up and it was already VERY late (fireworks started at 10!). So we booked it off the boat and up to the meet and greet area, and only had to wait maybe 5 minutes.

Peter Pan was great! Maddie especially loved him because he's a face character, so he could talk to her :).  He loved her costume, and taught her how to stand like Peter Pan and then gave her a lesson on how to crow like Peter Pan!  He even wrote her some messages on his autograph page. I've never seen a girl smile so much as she did that night! There were many declarations of Disney World being the best place in the world. Meeting her hero, her favorite villain, eating cotton candy and pineapple popsicles, flying back to the car- how could a night possibly be any better?!?!

Tomorrow- sleeping in (woohoo!) and then more Magic Kingdom!