Disney Recap – The Highs and Lows

So it’s time for a Disney recap. The return and resulting week since have been chaotic, to say the least, so I haven’t had a chance to get to it until now. As for the chaos, well, I’ll get to that in a little bit.
The day we arrived was sunny and warm, perfect Florida weather. Plane was on time, we got on the bus and when we arrived at the Grand Floridian, we didn’t even have to go inside. A concierge greeted us and took us to a cart where they drove us to our building and checked us in in the room! Going for the Club Level was a fantastic idea, and surprisingly, wasn’t that much different in price – we definitely got our money’s worth!
Throughout the day, the main room of our building is a mini-café. There’s breakfast in the morning, snacks and lunch throughout the day, afternoon tea, happy hour, desserts, everything. The kids loved it – they’d go down and grab some food and sit at one of the tables, watch the Disney videos.
This time around, we didn’t plan every second. We decided what to do when we got up, with the exception of a few dinners and lunches. Donald Duck was #1 on the hit list for the little guy – he somehow had developed an obsession for the crabby duck, and luckily we had some really awesome interactions with him throughout the trip – dinner and breakfast at Chef Mickey’s (where they sang Happy Birthday to the little guy to his amazing delight – he almost knocked Minnie over he hugged her so hard! Lol!) But Donald was the man on this trip, and we saw him in every park we went to.
This was little guy’s first time being big enough to ride a lot of things and he loved Space Mountain so much he went on twice! He likes the wild roller coasters – I personally am not much for them, and definitely not any that go upside down, but I can see he’s going to freak me out for years to come as he tries scarier and scarier coasters!
Anyway, we spent one day at Downtown Disney, and the last two visits, we just didn’t have time, so I was really glad to check it out. We all had a great time checking things out, and had a nice lunch. We saw Wreck-It Ralph, too. Cute movie, we all really enjoyed it.
Epcot was awesome – the annual Food & Wine Festival was in full swing – we somehow manage to hit that every time we go. We joked about eating our way around the world – lamb chops, egg rolls and pot stickers, ravioli, hot dogs & kraut, Swedish meatballs – you name it! The kids had a blast getting the snacks, and finding a corner to eat it while we watched the street performers of the local country doing their thing in the courtyards.  And we finally, after ten years, we met Princess Aurora – DD’s all-time favorite. We actually went and waited for her to come out, thanks to the awesome lady who let us sneak in on the Aladdin and Princess Jasmine line after it was closed. She was the best and we had a blast hanging out with her as the line moved along.
The one thing I do recall from my first trip in 1976, was that back then, the characters just walked around randomly. While waiting in line and spending a few minutes with the characters was awesome, the very spontaneous moment of seeing them just hanging around the park was truly magical. Been a long time since they did that.
Anyway, our last day was in the Magic Kingdom. We had lunch reservations with Cinderella, so we spent the morning there. And while we were there, the new Fantasyland was open for Dress Rehearsals! Everything but the new Be Our Guest restaurant in The Beast’s castle was open! We met Gaston – check this guy out:
Is he perfect or what?
We tried a LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern, and it was actually really good. Creamy and citrusy, but with a hint of carbonation. We got to see the Little Mermaid ride, and Belle’s Village, so it was literally the best day. Lunch was delicious – I’ve yet to eat anything at Disney that wasn’t.
We relaxed and packed that afternoon, since we had tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, complete with parade and all sorts of special events. Snow on Main Street, coca and cookies, etc. We arrived, got our wristbands, which they check just about everywhere, and h it a few rides. Then waited for the parade. As expected, it was amazing – every character, film, etc. was represented and done really well. The dancers and performers come right up to the kids and really get them involved. I have to say, as we shared our turkey leg and watched the parade, no one does it better than Disney.
And isn’t the castle just beautiful?
The holiday decor was incredible. But I’m not surprised – it is Disney after all!
But that was where it all ended. Shortly after the parade, DD is not feeling well. Her stomach. And of course, it’s not long before she’s in the throes of whatever this is. Thank you to the ladies in First Aid who helped us out – it was a rough night, but might have been worse if we hadn’t found you!
Poor thing was up all night and halfway through, DH is not feeling well. And they had the same thing for lunch, so now I’m worried about food poisoning. But when the little guy woke up the next morning in similar shape, I knew it was worse. We’d gotten a bug. At least it was the end of the trip, but now we had to go to the airport and fly home! Poor little guy was in the throes of it in the airport, the plane, etc. At least, everything was on time, and we made it home early in the day. Where they all proceeded to pass out. By that night, they were starting to feel a little better, so I made them soup, ginger ale and the whole bit.
By the next afternoon, I was down for the count, and far worse than the rest of them had been. Figures. At least my office happened to be closed on Monday, I was still in sad shape as I dropped the kids at school, after missing two weeks (!!!).
To top it all off, the day job has been incredibly busy, it’s budget season, so there’s been no time to breathe and because of our trip, I couldn’t take any additional time off to cook the annual two-day sauce for little guy’s birthday. He was quite happy with pizza though, and next year, we’ll get back to normal. I hope. Is there such a thing?

It’s Disney Time!

  We decided a few months ago that it was time to take the kids to Disney World again. They’ve been running some great package deals, and my mom’s a travel agent, so she can always get us the best rates available. So we booked it.
I’ve been to Disney lots of times – a few times when I was a kid and it was only the Magic Kingdom at that point, and you had to use those paper tickets, the best rides were always the “E” tickets. We had friends who lived in the area and we’d always stay with them.
When I got married, I went there on my honeymoon. After that, often because of business travel, either mine or DH’s, we’d tack on some vacation time and buzz around Disney for a few days. We stayed in lots of different places, with different options. From top of the line, to economy style.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, we took her for the first time. We decided, after having tried out various other hotels, we wanted one with the monorail. We booked the Polynesian, which was one of the first resorts when the park first opened. My daughter loved it – she got to ride with the conductor on her first monorail trip, back when they still allowed people in there. It was Halloween too, so she dressed up as Sleeping Beauty and we partied in the Magic Kingdom with characters in costume, trick or treating and the whole works. Disney does an amazing Halloween party. Breakfast in Cinderella’s Castle – for which I had to get up early and call three days in a row, 30 days in advance to get those reservations.

We took the family two years ago, again for Halloween. This time we stayed at the Grand Floridian. We stayed there on our honeymoon, and have concluded there is no place better to stay – and it’s where we’re staying again this time. Last time was the little guy’s first experience, and I have to say, much as I love everything about Disney, the best thing about it was seeing my kids’ faces when they saw it all for the first time. It is impossible to accurately describe the expressions. They’re just that amazing. He met his favorite characters – Woody! Buzz Lightyear! Lightning McQueen! Tigger! He loves rides, and wanted to go on everything he could.  He did have a few sort-of catastrophes – got so excited to see Mickey for the first time at breakfast, he fell and hit his cheek on the corner of the table. Then nearly choked on a piece of  the ice we’d gotten to reduce the swelling. But overall, he had a blast!

What kills me is the fact that both times, all they wanted to do was get back to the hotel and go in the pool. Seriously? What is with that? Not that I minded – DH and I would get a few drinks and hang out poolside while they splashed and swam. The pool is open 24/7, so we were often there at 11:00 or later. But come on – with all the cool things there are to do in Disney, they wanted to go swimming? Really? 
We hung out with other parents, all saying the same thing. Their kids loved everything in the parks, couldn’t get enough, but throughout, all they heard, just like we did, “Is it time to go back to the hotel yet?”  I guess in Disney, that’s the equivalent of “Are we there yet?”
There are some new things this time around but sadly, we’re getting there too early to see all the new Beauty and the Beast attractions. That’ll be for next time – maybe two years, when DD is a senior and can afford to miss a couple days of school again. We’re both disappointed – from the age of 2 until nearly 6, Beauty & the Beast was her favorite. We watched it at least daily the first couple of years, and several times a month for a few years after. We still find ourselves watching it together when they show it on one of the Disney channels. Sometimes I think I love the story more than she does! Actually, there’s no surprise there. The Beast, like many of my heroes, is rather a jerk in the beginning, though he has good reason to be. Then again, being a jerk got him in that whole mess anyway, but Belle saw through all the crap to the real hero within. Personally, I preferred he would have stayed as the Beast, but that’s not how the fairy tale goes. But he is definitely one of my favorite heroes, simply by the virtue of his un-heroic traits. 😀

As for our trip, we will get to see the Christmas party this go-round. We’re a little later than normal, so that’ll be something new and fun we haven’t done before. We’ve seen the start of the decorative prep our last couple of trips, it’ll be cool to see it all done. One thing about Disney, no one does it better. The attention to the tiniest detail, both in the attractions, events and shows, as well as the guest services, blows me away. I’ve yet to find a place that does it better. Some come close, true, but IMO, Disney still holds the top spot by a very wide margin.
In any case, we’re about a month or so out and I’ve got to start my lists. I already have a folder with all my reservation info – hotel and dining so far – I love that everything is online now, planning all the details is so much easier. This time, we’re kind of going to just go where the mood takes us – this trip is way less structured and scheduled than the last. But there’s still so much more to do to be ready. I need to figure out what to bring – car trips are easy, we bring it all. Can’t do that on a plane. But I am a good packer and can get a ton into a suitcase without going over weight restrictions.
Should be an interesting month as I try to wrap up this ms, get the last of the revisions on the other done, and prep for the trip. Oh yeah, and Halloween’s coming, too.