Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Disney World - Day 4: Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios held an extra level of excitement because we had a reservation for the Disney Jr. character breakfast. Mallory and Aubrey had been hearing about "breakfast with the Little Einsteins, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso" for weeks! Our reservation even got us into the park early!
Aubrey and Mallory were "patiently" waiting...
...but SO excited to see the characters.
I think Mallory was also excited for the food.
Buffets are a kid's best friend.
(...even though kids under 3 eat free,
she got her money's worth!)
Yummy Mickey waffles!
Special Agent Oso...
ridiculously goofy bear, but the kids love him.
June from Little Einsteins
Leo from Little Einsteins
There are FOUR Little Einsteins, but only two were scheduled to be at the breakfast. Just as I suspected ... Mallory asked, "Momma, where Quincy and Annie go??"
Handy Manny!
We immediately fast passed the Toy Story ride since it is the most popular ride in the park and we were not interested in standing in a 90-minute line!

Next Casey and I occupied the girls while Summer & Brian had their turn on Tower of Terror - I forgot how much I love that ride!! There's nothing like feeling your stomach jump into your throat, haha!
Hollywood Studios is a really cool park, but it's a different kind of entertainment. There are more shows than rides and yet it still has something to offer "kids" of all ages. We took the girls to see the Little Mermaid show (complete with cool ocean sprays of water over the audience and bubbles!) and then the Disney Jr. stage show where they got to see the rest of their pals. It also made me feel a little better about the amount of Disney Jr. TV Mallory watches ... every kid and parent in the room was singing along!
Lots of dancing and clapping!!
Jake & the Neverland Pirates is a fairly new show on Disney Jr.
...featuring none other than Captain Hook and Smee!
Okay, okay, you wouldn't have gotten ME out of the park without taken the girls to the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" play area where you are the "shrunken kids". I still remember this from my first trip to Disney World when I was 10. SO much fun and of course, Mal and Aubrey could have played there all day!

Sliding down the roll of film...
Enjoying the tree root slides...
Okay moms ... you think Play-Doh is awful now ... imagine that giant can being ground into your carpet. Ha! Casey and Mal were standing under the "leaky hose" which kept squirting them with water.
Mallory would have walked through this cargo net structure 50 times ... we honestly dragged her out of here (crying) to go eat lunch.
After lunch, and four straight days of park excitement, the girls were spent. Here's Aubrey nearly napped out in her stroller. (I have no idea how that was comfortable...)
We headed to Aerosmith's Rock N Roller Coaster to get a second fast pass to use on our return trip to the park that evening. But .... we figured since the girls were wasted anyway, we might as well ride once and THEN head home. Casey and I went first - BEST ROLLER COASTER EVER!! Neither of us had ridden before ... it was closed for maintenance (or something!) during our trip to Disney in 2007 ... it was definitely worth the wait!!

Then, while Brian & Summer rode, we walked next door and enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast Stage Show (which also hasn't changed since I was 10, haha, although now it's in an amphitheater of sorts, it used to be standing room only). Lovely show and the girls were intrigued.
Mallory got a little emotional at the end ...
Disney movies have a way of tugging at even the smallest hearts.
I'm sure you're not surprised that we couldn't help grabbing a snack on our way out of the park. Kane family trip favorites: soft pretzels and frozen lemonade!
Like I said, they were toast.
We came back a little after 7pm and used our fast passes to ride Toy Story. Awesome ride and by far one of my favorites. It's like a county fair-type shooting game within the ride. And it's in 3-D ... super fun! Gotta love the glasses!
After the ride we made our way to find a seat for the night time show - Fantasmic! It's a live stage show combined with Disney film clips and just like everything else, it was pretty amazing. Good and Evil were represented by 30+ characters and I found myself as captivated as Mallory. She got to enjoy another frozen lemonade and her momma got to enjoy 20 minutes of Mallory on her lap. It would have been the perfect end to yet another day, BUT we still had that Rock N Roller Coaster fast pass to use up. And ... we got to sit in the very front seat! So that ended up being the perfect end to our day!

I can feel the trip coming to a close, but we still had plenty to do at Epcot, so I'll hold onto the fun for another day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Disney World - Day 3: Magic Kingdom (part 2)

Did I tell you that this was supposed to be our only day at Magic Kingdom? The first day I posted about was added only a couple weeks before leaving for our trip. One benefit to driving (there were more than you'd think!) was being able to change our departure time and leave 6 hours earlier than originally planned. As a result, we checked into our condo and squeezed in that first day - that was super awesome since there is SO MUCH to do at this park! I'm pretty sure you could spend a week at Magic Kingdom and still find things to do.

We arrived about half an hour before the park opened to see the "opening show" a friend had told us about ... complete with Mickey and Minnie and friends!
Is anyone else as fascinated by these character floral arrangements as I am? They are always flawless too. If we had one at our house, there would be a patch somewhere in Mickey's face that would be dead or discolored. Just sayin'.
So, before all of our Disney friends came riding in on that train, a super friendly employee just happened to stop us to give Mallory and Aubrey his last two Mickey Mouse stickers. Then, without being asked, he told us where we could go to meet our mouse friends and get some princess autographs too. (Besides having the run of the park, arriving early seemed to allow us to see our fill of characters without the long wait times.) As the show wrapped up, we were thrilled to follow his suggestion ...

... can you tell??
Coincidentally, the girls were wearing their matching princess shirts (thanks, summer!) on the very day they happened to meet those three princesses! Mallory was telling Sleeping Beauty all about her shirt. Since having met her, Mal will tell you Sleeping Beauty's name is "A-war-wa" (Aurora).
I love this picture ... A. Mallory's semi-smiling, and B. She's doing the really cute thing she does with her hands when she's being adorably bashful. It is rare that she doesn't use hand gestures while talking.
At this point in the trip, she had met enough "friends" to know that after she gave them a hug or two and got her picture taken, she could ask them to sign her bag. And so, she became very concerned with the signing.A friend gave us the idea to have characters use permanent markers to sign a backpack or some item Mallory could use over and over as she grows. I found this fun bag on clearance for $2 at Walmart - perfect for her and our occasion! By the end of the week random people were even commenting on how cute it was!
Mallory with Belle or if you ask her ... "Beauty"

Belle was marveling at Mallory's painted fingernails.
I couldn't help but smile.
Oooh, Momma! Wook! Cinderwelwa!
As if meeting three princesses in under 5 minutes wasn't enough ... we walked right into another short line to meet Mickey & Minnie! Again, not that the excitement shows on the face of a 2-year-old!
She was not holding back on those hugs!
A funny thing about Disney World ... it's totally fun and amazing, there's something incredible to "ooh" and "ahh" at where ever you turn, and somehow ... even the little things aren't lost on a 2-year-old. As we're walking, I hear Mallory start to get excited and laugh. I figure she sees someone I don't.

Nope. Not someone. SomeTHING.

To see it all through her eyes.
While the guys ran ahead for yet another fast pass (best invention ever!), we took a short detour on Main Street to have a silhouette done for Mallory's meme (it will be added to her collection). I promise I wasn't totally annoyed while sitting there ... I have no idea why I have such an awful expression on my face. I will say ... I was trying to keep Mallory facing forward, making sure she didn't drop her pretzels and talking to the lady all at the same time. Maybe that's what my face looks like while I'm multi-tasking!?!? Anyway, the people that work in these booths (while forced to dress in not-so-flattering attire ... cute plaid though) are super talented!
Check out our girl's silhouette! They free hand cut these things out of paper - no drawing! And she was fast ... we sat in the chair less than 3 minutes. Seriously! It took her longer to glue it to the oval background than it did to cut it out. (The best part ... you actually get two for the price of one since they cut it out of paper that's folded in half. Sweet!)
Hmm, I wonder where Mallory gets that whole "impressed by the little things" quality...

Moving right along... Cinderella's wicked step-mother and step-sisters (with some random girl, we didn't wait in line)
Some fun props while waiting in the short line for the Haunted Mansion. My first time through this ride ... pretty creepy, but neat.
Again, being easily amused by some birds...
We took a ride on Aladdin's Magic Carpet...
Had a snack, rested in the shade and entertained ourselves while waiting for a fast pass time to come up...
In the fast pass line for Winnie the Pooh ... playing "Where's Mallory?" Don't you know? If she covers her eyes, you can't see her...
In our very own "honey pot" on the Pooh ride
On our way out of the park, Summer and I decided to take the girls on the train. It runs around the entire park, but if you pick it up in Frontierland, it's about a quarter of the trip, which we figured was just enough for the girls to get excited about the train and perfect since we wouldn't have to walk to the front of the park. The guys, once again, were sent for a fast pass (to use when we came back that night), so we headed by ourselves to the train. No big deal, right? Wrong! We asked a staff member how to get on the train with our strollers and were told (while she was standing directly in front of the handicapped ramp) that we'd need to fold our strollers up and carry them up the stairs (that I swear were built two feet wide and at a 75 degree angle). I'm thinking, so if I'm in a wheelchair, I can take the ramp, but if I have a toddler in a stroller, I have to carry it up the stairs? We looked at each other and did as we were told. We took 4 bags each out from under the strollers, unloaded the girls, folded the strollers and then proceeded to keep track of everything while hobbling up the stairs with it all. Nice. We got to the top only to find a turn-style too skinny to take the strollers through, so we then had to lift the strollers OVER it. The best part was, when we got OFF the train, we reloaded the strollers with children and belongings and walked down a RAMP. I'm still puzzled.

Anyway, please understand this may not seem like a big deal when reading it, but at the time it was awful and it's much funnier to exaggerate some of the details. (Although, the only thing exaggerated is the ... well, actually, it's all true.)

Enjoy the lovely pictures I took while we were on the train.
Oh, right. That's it. Just one. I was too exhausted from all the work I was required to do to get on the train. (Okay, so that might be exaggerated.) It was quite a relaxing ride and as expected, the girls were in heaven.

Despite all we saw and did, we got home fairly early to get some rest before heading back for the night parade and fireworks. Each afternoon looked like this for the girls (and some days for the adults too!)

After some quality naps, with their crowns in hand, the girls were very excited to be arriving at Magic Kingdom twice in one day!

I'm even more impressed by topiary than the floral arrangements.
We could use a Claddagh or Buckeye topiary in our backyard...
what do you think?

The classic Magic Kingdom photo!
We came back in time to grab some food at an authentic (looking) Mexican restaurant, but we didn't think to check the hours earlier in the day and it was closed when we got back. Darn. We made do and then hit up the Jungle Cruise with our fast passes. No pictures, but super cool (and funny!) ride. Think cheesy comedy and fake animals all while riding in a boat!

Casey still remembers a line from his Jungle Cruise years ago. The "tour director" said: "This job is so much better than my last job. I worked for a frozen orange juice packaging company. It was a good job, but in the end ... I got canned. ***dramatic pause*** They said I couldn't concentrate." :)

We used another fast pass to get on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (another great roller coaster!) and then found a spot for the parade!
(Aubrey took this picture of Mallory! WOW!)
For all you Dole Whip lovers out there: what better way to kill the time before the parade than by enjoying another pineapple treat! It was right around the corner from our parade spot so I made a mad dash once last time!

Here are some highlights from the parade:
We enjoyed the fireworks camera free ... the girls were thrilled to see the "lights in the sky" and hear the CRACKS and BOOMS. And when they were over, we knew everyone else would be high-tailing it to the exit, so we high-tailed it to Space Mountain to use our fast passes. And while on our way out, as our luck would have it, a guy gave us two more passes he wasn't going to use! Brian and I rode again and Casey and Summer took the girls for their second ride on Dumbo. I'd call that a pretty great end to their (our) evening! We exited through Cinderella's Castle - very pretty inside too! - and it was a sad ferry ride home as we realized it was the last glimpse we'd have of the real life castle for quite some time.
Oh well.
Keeping the two-year-olds awake until nearly midnight
probably isn't recommended on a regular basis anyway...

Next stop ... Hollywood Studios!