Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 3: Typhoon Lagoon

We decided to make today a swim/ water day since it had been so incredibly hot. We were all excited to cool off and relax a bit. We also had a nice surprise this day. The night before as we were walking through the hotel to go to dinner, a lady asked me if I wanted some free tickets for a character breakfast the next morning. I kind of brushed her off and asked her what was the catch. I figured we'd have to go to some condo presentation or something, but she said it was completely free with no obligations. Raytheon is doing a display in Innovations at Epcot, and they sponsored it as a "thank you" to the military. I was quite shocked, but sure enough, it was a great buffet breakfast and 100% free with no presentation or obligation whatsoever. Not to mention, we got to see several characters too...Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Pluto, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Cinderella, and Belle. It was a real jackpot for Jesikah to get all those characters in one place for her autograph book. So we made our rounds to the characters and enjoyed a yummy breakfast.

The girls had fun interacting with Cinderella. We found that it was more fun to interact with the characters who had real faces.

We had fun with Minnie and Mickey. Their interactions with the kids were cute. Minnie even kissed Alex on the cheek. Alex was embarrassed, but bragged about it later. :) I was bummed that the photographer had my camera because I wouldn't have missed that.

This was the Mickey inside the Shades of Green hotel.

This picture was taken as we headed out of Typhoon Lagoon. We didn't get any pictures because we didn't want to take the camera out since it was wet everywhere. We all had a fun day, but you can see they're all a bit tired. We all enjoyed the Lazy River, the Wave pool which had huge 5 ft waves (even Jarem learned to ride the waves with some help from Eric), and (of course) the slides. There was a pretty long lazy river and Jarem and I went on it together. As we were nearing the end, he saw a lifeguard on the shore and asked him, "When can you get out?". The lifeguard told him, "Never, it just keeps going and going." Jarem was like, "Oh no!". He was afraid for a minute that it really did just keep going and going. Then, he saw the stairs though. It was pretty funny.

Eric used to enjoy surfing in his teenage years, so he wanted a "hang loose" picture next to the surfboards.

That evening, we checked into our new place. We divided our time between Shades of Green and a cabin at Fort Wilderness. We had ordered groceries from and they were waiting in our cabin when we got there. That was awesome!

Once checked in, we changed and headed out to Downtown Disney where we planned to have dinner at Rainforest Cafe and then spend some time at the World of Disney store and Legoland. I called ahead to Rainforest Cafe, but they weren't taking reservations so we headed over. We waited awhile, but finally got in. We had A nice (but expensive) dinner.

We had given each of the kids some money to use for lunches, snacks, and souvenirs for the whole trip. They don't often have money, so they were pretty excited to have some say over what they wanted. It was exciting to see them shopping so carefully in World of Disney(the hugest Disney store anywhere) for their perfect thing and we didn't hear any begging or crying for things the entire trip. It's amazing to see what they are willing to go without when it is their own money. Alex bought an expensive lunch the first day. After he realized how much money he spent, he saved half of his lunch for the next day and carried it around all day in order to make it last for two meals. It was a good experience and they each found just what they wanted for the right price.

These pictures of Legoland I took with my phone because we forgot the camera...

This is a large dinosaur made completely out of Legos that they had on display

Jarem building an airplane from some of the Lego bins they had outside.

This is a bigger view of the covered outdoor area that they had for free exploration. It was very large. Jarem loved it, but the other kids were more interested in the inside.

At Legoland, the kids were so excited to see all the legos. We got there when it was almost ready to close, but Alex had only purchased a small souvenir and had saved his money for legos. He was so excited (and Alex doesn't get excited often) about all the Star Wars lego sets they had that he had never seen before. He found a rare one that he bought, and the girls went in together to split a "girl" set that made two little houses. Jarem bought a Lego alarm clock, and a 3-pack of guys. We got out just as they closed at 11pm. We were very tired!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Tuesday night, (after a nap and dinner) we attended Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It went from 7pm-12am that night. You can dress up in Halloween costumes, trick-or-treat, there's a special parade for Halloween and different parties around. There was also a special presentation at the castle called "Villians". It had all the Disney villians from the movies. It was kind of creepy, so we didn't stay for all of the show.

This picture was on the ferry headed to Magic Kingdom for the party. The kids were so excited because they could see the castle. We bought them each a hat the day before when we found a hat shop and that was their costume. Even Eric got a pirate hat...I didn't find anything I liked, so I was the only lame one that didn't dress up.

This picture is just outside the gates at Magic Kingdom as we arrived. They really have this park decorated for Halloween with friendly jack'o lanterns everywhere. It was very festive!

The first thing we did was watch the "Boo to You" Halloween parade. It was very fun and we enjoyed the music too. I think Disney has the best parades anywhere.

In this float was Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy. They were so cute how they interacted.

Another shot, this time you can see Minnie better.

The hundred-acre wood with a Halloween flair.

A very cool pirate ship

The gator from Peter Pan

Captain Jack Sparrow acknowledging that he had a look alike (Eric)!

Of course, the kids favorite, Goofy's Candy Co., which we did visit the actual store later.

We took advantage of the short lines and rode lots of rides...our first was Dumbo, which usually has a very long and slow line. It was great!

The carousel is always a hit with the kids

Alex and Jarem on the carousel...

Jarem's favorite of the night was the Buzz Lightyear ride. You get to shoot aliens and stuff and you get points for everything you hit as the ride moves.

The castle all lit up with the Villians sign up. We had a very fun night and ended up with lots of candy too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

Tuesday, our second day at Disney World, we spent at Animal Kingdom. Again, we followed the schedule and found very few lines, but it was another hot day... in the mid-90's and very high humidity. Florida had record-breaking highs for this time of year while we were there. The above picture is all of us in front of the tree of life (a landmark at the Animal Kingdom). There was a show under the tree in 3D called, "It's Tough to Be a Bug". This was a favorite of Jesikah. I didn't really care for it since big black widows came down from the ceiling, and it felt like there were crawly bugs underneath our seats. The effects looked and felt very real though.

The kids and Eric started out on the TriceraTop Spin while I picked up fastpasses for the Expedition Everest. It's a Dumbo-type ride with Triceratops. They enjoyed that.

Another shot from Eric (above)

Then Eric and the girls when on another ride in Dinoland called Primeval Whirl where it's kind of a mini-roller coaster and you spin too. Alex didn't want to go and Jarem was too short so he stayed out with Alex. I got back just before they got on and took a couple of pictures. This was Jesikah's favorite today.

The Dinosaur ride was pretty scary. Jarem was probably most scared of that ride and the girls too. I didn't like it that much either. You go through the dark just wondering when something is going to pop out at you or chase you.

We found Goofy on the way to the Dinosaur ride, so we stopped for a photo.

Eric and Alex with Goofy too!

Walking through the Maharaja Jungle Trek, we saw these fruit bats spreading their wings in the sun

We also saw these Asian deer

And Asian cows?

This guy had just grown some giant antlers

And we found Baloo the Bear

At Rafiki's Planet Watch or Conservation Station, we went on a train ride and ended up in another area of the park where they had wildlife experts doing presentations with real animals. Jiminey Cricket was there.

Also, this is one of the only places to find Rafiki. Here, Rafiki is signing Jesikah's autograph book.

Now for the pic

Pocahontas was also there. None of the characters here at the conservation station had long lines, so that was nice.

While Eric was with Jesikah getting autographs, Tessa, Jarem and I were watching a wildlife expert show us an owl. Alex was sitting nearby with the backpack when this lady came and sat right next to him. Then she put her arm up like she was putting her arm around him and he's trying to scoot down because he thinks she's being too friendly, but the backpack is there and he doesn't want to make a scene. Now to most people, this wouldn't be a that big deal, but with Alex being shy and very embarrassed to sit by people he doesn't know, it was really funny. Eric had to sneak a picture and was laughing so hard about Alex's embarrassed face. It's hard to see his expression because it's a bit blurry.

Jesikah and Tessa with the owl and the wildlife expert who did the presentation.

This is the towel that we bought after going down Kali River Rapids. It's a whitewater rafting ride where you float down some rapids in a raft. This was Alex's favorite ride and he went twice. Depending on where you sit though, you can get seriously SOAKED! Jesikah and I were the not-so-lucky ones in our raft and we got drenched! So wet we could have wrung out all our clothes. We had to buy a towel in order to get somewhat dried off. Although it did feel good to get wet, it was uncomfortably wet. This is the towel Eric had seen earlier that we thought was really cute.

We saw this tiger at conservation station before heading back on the train.

On the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, we got in these big real trucks and drove through the African wildlife reserve. It was excellent and we saw tons of animals up close. This was one of my favorite attractions of the day. These crocodiles along with the next few pictures are some animals that we saw.

Thomson's gazelle...there were several of them

I loved this grouping of elephants

A closeup of mom and baby.

Beautiful flamingoes...there were lots of them.

African rhinos

Well, what do you know, Puumba is represented here with this warthog.

I believe this is an impala, supposedly a rare type.

A couple of other attractions worth noting...the Expedition Everest and the Lion King musical. Expedition Everest is the newest attraction at Animal Kingdom. You can see Everest in the above picture. It's a roller coaster going up Mt. Everest. Alex and Jesikah didn't want to go, and Jarem couldn't, so with fastpasses, Tessa, Eric, and I went twice. I usually like rollercoasters, but this one wasn't my favorite because it goes backwards. That made me feel a little weird. Expedition Everest, however, was Eric and Tessa's favorite ride of the day.

Our last attraction of the day was the Festival of the Lion King. This was my favorite of the day. It was a spectacular show with singers, dancers, fire twirlers, acrobats, and fun for the audience too. They sang all the songs from the Lion King movie with all the other stuff going on too. We all enjoyed it, and it was a perfect ending spot.

We headed back to the hotel around 4:00 to have a nap and dinner before heading back out to the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party later that evening. We had a good rest and a good buffet dinner at the hotel.