Thursday, March 31, 2011


We had planned to go to a waterpark on the last day of our Disney pass, but the kids voted to go to Epcot instead.  It was another beautiful day.  We hit all our favorites and went to one new one: Ellen's Energy Adventure.  That one was really good.  It was a re-vamp of an old dinosaur one that I remember as a kid.  Eric doesn't care for Ellen, but it was still a good show/ride combo and educational too (which is always a plus for me).  I think our family favorite at Epcot is still "Soarin"' though. 

My favorite part of Epcot this time were the gardens.  They were AMAZING!  My camera ran out of battery power the night before Epcot and I had no idea they were having the flower and garden festival.  My cell phone's touchscreen also went out while on vacation, so I was able to get a few pics with my cell phone using some of the manual functions and some with Eric's, but he just didn't have the passion for the gardens that I did.  In fact, the kids were missing that too.  Anyway, the plant sculptures of all the Disney characters were all over the park and the beautiful gardens were everywhere.  If I had been with Susan, we would have spent the whole time talking about the flowers.  But anyway, the rides were fun too. 

We left Epcot early, went back to the hotel for dinner, and then hit Downtown Disney at the kid's request.  Downtown Disney wasn't as fun as we remembered it and very crowded since it was a Saturday night.  They each got something at the Disney store and then they each built a Lego guy/girl (except Alex).

I have a few more pictures that I still need to get off Eric's phone which I will add to this post later.  Sunday we drove home while listening to church cd's, and it was a good drive and a wonderful trip!

Animal Kingdom

The next morning, we slept in a little bit, and we went and picked up all our bags at Grandma's Kissimmee house where we had stayed the night before.  We said our goodbyes to Grandma and Kyle, Jessica, and Taegan.  By the time we got back to the hotel, it was almost time for lunch.  We got showered, ate lunch, and finally made it over to Animal Kingdom, arriving around 2pm.  We were worried that we wouldn't make it on any rides because everything would be so packed by then.  It was pretty busy at first, but by about 4pm, the park was empty and we were walking onto every ride without any lines.  Alex, Tessa, and Eric went on Expedition Everest something like 5 times.  We walked onto the Kilamanjaro Safari, which is usually a busy one too.  We also walked onto Kali River Rapids twice and people could stay on and do the ride multiple times in a row which we would have done if it wasn't for the fact that you get pretty wet.  We also did Dinoland and the Finding Nemo show which we didn't do last time.  It was really awesome!

All of the animal pictures below were taken while we went on Kilamanjaro Safari.  I am told that the landscape is incredibly similar to the real African savannah.  I haven't been to Africa, but I enjoyed taking pictures of this.  The evening sun was shining on the savannah,(I love the way the sun makes things look in the evening) and while I didn't get a lot of good animal shots.  I love the landscapes in the backgrounds and that awesome tree that supposedly stores water.  That one is my favorite picture.

This picture I kept because of the moss hanging from that trees that is just glowing from the sun

Do you see the giraffe?

 Jesikah, Jarem and I got a waffle cone and root beer float to share while we waited for the others on Mount Everest Expedition. Eric love, loved the Everest Expedition. I didn't go on that one this time. I love roller coasters, but this one goes backwards for a bit which made me sick feeling last time.  Did I mention how beautiful the weather was?  It was perfect all week with high's in the mid-80's.

We had dinner at Rain Forest Cafe at Animal Kingdom.  The Animal Kingdom Rain Forest Cafe is SO much better and less busy than the one at Downtown Disney.  We called an hour before and made a reservation for 8pm and then walked right in.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during dinner.

Magic Kingdom

The day after Hollywood Studios, we went to the Magic Kingdom.  This time Kyle and Jessica and their 4-week old baby, Taegan, as well as Grandma Cindi accompanied us.  It was a great day.  Taegan was so good and once again we got to mix it up a little bit and try things we hadn't done before.  We went on the People Mover on Grandma's recommendation, and everyone liked it enough that we went on it again later.  Also, we rode the train this time, which we've never done before.

Cute Jessica and Taegan

All of us on the ferry ride over

Just ready to enter the Magic Kingdom...their new theme: Let the Memories Begin

Our first ride: Buzz Lightyear

Eric is always the high scorer on this one.  He got over 100,000 points.:)

Alex and Jarem on the People Mover

Grandma packed a delicious lunch for all of us and here she is holding Taegan during our lunch break

Alex and his free fast passes
We went on Space Mountain and the person who did the final seatbelt check handed Alex 6 fastpasses for any ride in the Magic Kingdom because he was wearing an Oregon Ducks hat and the guy was from Oregon.  Score!

View of Tomorrowland at dusk
We were about to go back to the house and eat around dusk, but Grandma was having such a good time that she convinced us all to stay. :)  We stayed and ate at one of the counter service places, which was good, and then enjoyed some line-free rides.  The park was open till midnight.  Grandma, Kyle, Jessica, and Taegan went back around 11pm because Taegan was done for the day.  We stayed and went on another ride and then got the funnel cakes we'd been looking forward to all day.  It was the first time I've had strawberries and whipped cream on a funnel cake.  It was delicious!  The funnel cake line was backed up though, so while Eric waited in line, the kids and I sat on the curb and watched the electric lighted night parade.  It was a great view and I was glad we got to work that in right at the end.  After the parade and funnel cakes, we were too tired to go back to the house for our clothes, so we checked into our room at Shades of Green and just slept in our clothes.  Everyone was asleep in an instant.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hollywood Studios

It was strange how this trip evolved.  Originally, we were going to go to Little Gasparilla island for the full week of spring break.  It would be inexpensive, warm, and relaxing and we would get to be with Eric's mom too.  Then, Eric got a phone call from his brother and sister saying they wanted to come too, and they wanted to spend a couple of days in Disney as well.  We looked into Disney (even though we had just been in the fall) and found a good military deal on tickets for a 4-day pass.  Why not? So we bought them.  Then, figuring that his Mom's Kissimmee house would be too crowded, we decided to reserve a large room at Shades of Green for 3 of the nights.  Unfortunately, his sister nor brother were able to come in the end due to plane ticket prices, but another brother, Kyle and his wife Jessica decided to come with their 4-week old baby.  So, we mixed it all up and made it into a great vacation.  We spent the first 2 days at the beach with Grandma Cindi & Steve, the next day with Grandma Guelde, and the last 4 days at Disney.  Then drove back on Sunday.  It turned out to be a great combination...a little bit of everything.

After leaving the beach, we spent the rest of the day and that night with Grandma Guelde.  I always enjoy talking with her, and the kids and Eric love to swim in her pool.  The next morning, we got up and headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios.  We had a totally different experience this time than last time we went.  We only repeated two of our favorites: Rockin Roller Coaster (which even Alex went on this time--twice) and Toy Story Mania which is Jarem's favorite.  We went to the Indiana Jones stunt show (for the first time)  which was Alex's favorite attraction of the day.  Some other new ones that we went to this time were: American Idol (mine and Jesikah's new favorite) and Beauty and the Beast live performance.  Eric's favorite was still the Rockin Rollercoaster which goes from 0-60mph in something like 3 seconds.  Tessa couldn't decide what she liked the best...she listed all the ones she liked which included most all of what we did that day.

Now that we have learned the tricks of the book.  We still keep it with us for reference, but we plan our own schedule according to what we want to see that day.

The Beauty and the Beast live performance was a favorite of mine also.

Eric and Jarem watching Beauty and the Beast

We all took an afternoon break for Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. YUM!

Alex trying to avoid a picture next to the shop where we bought the ice cream

Eric and I after eating out ice cream bars

The American Idol was just like the real show where you got to vote and everything
The cool thing about the Hollywood Studios American Idol is that people who are at the park that day audition for the show.  They select 15 people to be in the shows that day (3 perform per show in 5 shows).  In each show, they have the judges who make comments, etc and then the audience votes.  Whoever wins each show goes on to the finale which is the last/6th show of the day.  We went to the last regular show of the day and it was so fun.  When the show was done, I wanted to go to the finale to see all the finalists and see who won.  Only Jesikah wanted to join me in the finale, so the others went to Toy Story Mania and met us after the show.  It was very fun!  It felt like you were in the real American Idol.
Alex being a twirp
We learned something new this trip.  In the past, we have carried our lunch around in a backpack along with other necessaries.  This time, we rented a locker and put our lunch and other things we didn't need all day in the locker.  Then when lunchtime came, we went back to the locker and our lunch was still cold and fresh instead of being warm and swishy.  Also, the backpack was a lot lighter without all those water bottles and lunches. 

However, at the end of the first day, we got out to our car and realized we forgot to get the stuff out of our locker including the car keys.  So, Eric went back to the locker while the kids and I waited in the parking lot.  Alex was being a twirp while we waited, so I got the camera out and started taking pictures of him because he hates pictures.  These were a few that actually were kind of cute, regardless of the fact that he was being a stinker.  I love the one below that shows his dimple so well.  I've always loved that dimple.