Thursday, February 14, 2013

Disney World Adventure!

We've been wanting to take Olivia to Disney World for a long time, but with all that's gone on in our lives the past few years we had never done it. This past fall we just sat down and booked a trip...and it was fantastic! We're so glad we went, even with Caleb being less than a year old. We know he won't remember it, but we didn't want Olivia to have to wait several more years...that wouldn't be fair!

So we went last week. It was so much fun. So much to do, so much to see. We have two amazing little travelers, I must say. They both did great on the planes over and back. We flew out of Austin on Monday morning, had a quick change of planes in Houston, and then arrived in Orlando in the early afternoon!

Because we booked our trip through Disney, we were able to check our bags at the Austin airport and not see them again until we checked into our hotel room! Amazing, and so helpful with 2 kiddos in tow! We also rode the Disney's Magical Express bus to our hotel.

Olivia was very excited. She thought all of Orlando was Disney World and kept looking for Mickey and the Princesses.

We stayed at the All Star Movies hotel. It was...okay, to be honest. Our room was a little small and you could tell that the hotel was one of the older ones. However, we didn't actually spend much time at all in the hotel itself, so it worked out just fine.
And, there was a huge statue of Woody and Buzz Lightyear right outside our building, which scored big points with Olivia.

When we first booked our vacation, a friend of mine strongly suggested that we also book reservations for dinner and character experiences then as well. The first night we ate at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and had some delicious African/Indian food. (We had to take 2 buses to get there and 2 to get back, but that's besides the point). While there, we saw some giraffes and zebras outside...and Olivia wasn't super impressed. "I saw those at the zoo" she said. :) Which made us start to rethink our one-park-per-day strategy...why spend a day at Animal Kingdom if she'd be bored? More to come on that, later. :)

Tuesday was our first day to spend at any of the parks, and we went to Epcot because I'd scheduled Lunch with the Princesses there. While waiting for our reservations we rode a few rides, walked around the lake and saw some of the "countries."
Here is Olivia posing in front of the lake. You can see the tower in Venice in the background. :)

Introducing: Princess Kitty! By the end of the day all that was left on her face was the crown. Hee!

The Lunch With the Princesses was located in Norway at Epcot. Upon entering the restaurant she took a picture with Belle:

Which they were nice enough to print a large and several small copies of for us! Then we sat down and while we were eating four more Princesses made their way through the dining room and to our table to say hello.

Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

Striking a pose with Cinderella

Smiling with Snow White

Snow White liked Caleb, too. She called him a "Prince Charming in training." :)

And finally, Ariel. (AKA, "crazy eyes" per Levi, lol) She was very...energetic! The first thing she said to Olivia was, "Oh my goodness, did Rapunzel get ahold of your face?!"
Which really confused Olivia, bcause she didn't understand what Ariel meant AND because Rapunzel is by far her favorite princess and we hadn't seen her yet...

After lunch we decided to head to Magic Kingdom via Monorail. Olivia was kinda bored at Epcot and other than looking at the countries and sightseeing, there wasn't much else to do there for the kids...So off we went!

As soon as we walked into the park, a Disney worker said, "there are storybook princesses in this building with only a 15 min wait! That almost never happens!"
She met Cinderella was very sweet that the Princesses all got down on her level and talked to her for a few minutes instead of just posing for pictures. She was very shy but loved talking to them.

Finally Rapunzel! She was so excited. After the pictures, Olivia went on and on about Rapunzel asking her if Pascal was at her house...I'm so glad we stopped in. Rapunzel was her #1 character to meet!

After that we saw a performance in front of the main which Cinderella was dancing along with many other characters. Olivia turned to me and said, "Wow, Mommy, Cinderella is fast! She was at lunch, and then just now we saw her for pictures, and now she's up there dancing!"

:) it was really cute.

After the performance we started riding the rides. Levi & Olivia had fun on the teacups!

Getting ready to ride Dumbo

Caleb got bored waiting for Daddy & Olivia to finish driving the cars, so he decided to eat his socks.

I love this picture. She's so excited she can't hardly stand it!

Riding home on the bus that first night. I don't know the little boy alseep on my arm but he needed a soft place to land, I guess!

Wednesday we went back to Magic Kingdom. We started in a different part of the park that mroning, Adventure Land, and happened to be there when Jasmine & Aladdin showed up! She had a lot of fun talking to them.

When I first booked our dining reservations I really wanted us to eat at the new Be Our Guest Restaurant - which is set in Beauty & the Beast's castle. We weren't able to get in for dinner, so we waited in line to eat there for lunch.

They are all three excited to be in the picture.

Entrance to the restaurant

The place was fantastic. It looked just like the ballroom in the movie! If you're going to Disneyworld, be sure to eat there!

Just down the way from Be Our Guest was Gaston's Tavern. Also very fun. After a full day of rides, we stopped in for a sweet treat..LeFou's Brew!

It says it's made of frozen apple juice with a mango froth...all we know is that it was deliciousness in a glass. And a sure way to get the brain-freeze of your life.
But it was worth it. We bought these as our snack 2 days in a row. :)

After deciding that we didn't want to park-hop after all but would rather stay in Magic Kingdom the entire trip, we also needed to change up those dinner reservations that I'd made months ago. Luckily, there were openings in some of the Magic Kingdom restaurants, so we didn't have to leave the park at all! Originally we were supposed to have dinner at Epcot on Wednesday, but instead ate at Tony's Restaurant (from Lady & the Tramp!).

it was so yummy! 

Happy family with full bellies!

After dinner we bought some Minnie Mouse ears for Olivia and had front-row seats for the parade down Main Street!

We could never get Caleb to turn around for pictures.

Daddy & Olivia dancing down Main Street

After a long day of walking, riding, and eating, we made sure to get good seats for the fireworks display. Actually a very nice family from Brazil gave up half of their bench so I could sit with Caleb and Olivia could sit next to me. :) 

It was a fantastic display!  Even though it started nearly an hour after we thought it would, and we nearly left twice before they began, we were so glad we waited for them.

We realized that this was Olivia's first experience with fireworks in person - we've never taken her anywhere for July 4th in the past. She was in awe...

Thursday was our last day...but by then we knew where everything was in Magic Kingdom, knew what we wanted to ride, and had the Fast Pass system figured out. Olivia loved Thunder Mountain Railroad (a roller coaster) and rode it 3 times!
This is the Haunted Mansion. AKA, Caleb's favorite napping spot. We went on this ride every day, and each time we walked into the dark, he would snuggle up into our shoulders and fall asleep. It was perfect! Olivia loved it, too, and after her first initial reaction of "Daddy, let's get out of here!" she asked to go on it again and again.

About 2 seconds after thais picture was taken, he smashed his face into the bar. He wasn't smiling after that... :(

Riding Dumbo with a sleeping boy.

Olivia's chosen souvenir: A pink sword and shield. That's our tomboy princess!

We had originally made dinner reservations for a fancy restaurant at the Yacht Club Resort on our last night...but luckily were able to change them to a more kid-friendly destination in Magic Kingdom: The Crystal Palace!
It sounds fancy but really was a lot of fun. it was a buffet dinner with the Winnie the Pooh characters!

Nice to meet you, Tigger!

We weren't sure if Caleb would be afraid of the characters, but not our little guy!

Eating chocolate cake for about the 15th time in 3 days.
Yes, her mother is a pediatrician.

We stayed for the electric light parade, but not the fireworks on the last night.

 We were all too tired...

Truly, it was an amazing, exhausting, wonderful trip. Can't wait to go back in a few years! :)