Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Disney Day 3- Magic Kingdom/Animal Kingdom

On Saturday, we started out our morning once again at the Magic Kingdom. I was super excited because late Friday night (when I should have been sleeping), I figured out how to get Fast Passes to The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train! Say what?! I will give you my super secret method at the end of the post. I was so excited to let Brooks know in the morning, and he was excited that I let him sleep until 7:00. On our way to the lobby, we met a man who was going to be running the marathon the next day. We told him how we were supposed to run the half, but it sold out. He was super nice, but was almost disappointed with himself that he wasn't running all the races (in which you get the "Doopey" medal.) I didn't even realize until Brooks later pointed out that both of his legs were prosthetic. We later saw trailers and vans for the military runners who were disabled. It was such a humbling experience, and I decided to (try) not complain about the walking 30,000 steps the previous day.

The only hiccup we ran into was the 1/2 marathon was on the street we needed to cross to get on the Monorail. We walked down until there was a little opening and a cop let us cross at the Grand Floridian. (This hotel is beautiful, BTW.) The line for the Monorail was crazy long, but we eventually got on (but we had to fold up the stroller and hold both of the boys.)

Mimi and Papa stayed back at the hotel (I think I scarred them the day before), and the rest of us headed to the Magic Kingdom. Since I knew that later we would ride the Seven Dwarfs roller coaster, we would see how Woody did on the Barnstormer roller coaster. Luckily, Gaines was actually tall enough to ride too! Both boys loved it, and Woody wanted to ride it again, so we did! Gaines looked terrified on it, but would laugh when it stopped and clapped. Woody laughed so hard on it, and it made me so happy that he liked it so much.

After that we rode Dumbo. Both boys really liked it as well.


Mimi and Papa then met up with us, and Brooks, Woody, and I went to ride the Seven Dwarfs roller coaster while Mimi, Papa, and Gaines rode the teacups. When we got to the roller coaster, it was temporarily closed for repairs! I was heart-broken, but they said as soon as it opened, then we could use our Fast Pass for it at any point in the day. We joined everyone on the teacups, which was a good thing because Gaines was having a panic attack that I had left and was yelling, "Momma!" at every blonde woman. Poor Mimi and Papa.

Next, we took Mimi and Papa on the Barnstormer. I rode with Mimi, which I decided after day 1 was my favorite person to ride with! We also rode Dumbo again.

After that, we hopped on the Tomorrowland Speedway. Gaines rode with me, Brooks rode with Mimi, and Papa rode with Woody. This ride was just okay. I felt like I just inhaled a bunch of fumes and fought with Gaines over who got to drive. Then we decided to ride the Haunted Mansion. I felt like my boys had been pretty brave with everything, although I am sure my in-laws thought I was insane for taking them on this. They rode with Woody and we rode with Gaines. Nobody cried, so a success!

We decided to give the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train another try. It was working, and Woody was (barely) tall enough! Mimi and Papa took Gaines on the People Mover. I was definitely the most excited to ride this...mostly because I was so proud that I had gotten Fast Passes for it. Brooks was the good parent who comforted Woody. He said at one point Woody made a scared sound, but he never cried and when we got off he said he liked it! He said he wanted to ride it again, but I didn't want to wait in line, and couldn't get Fast Passes for it for the next day.

Me and my new mom friend just loving life

I was so excited. I am glad Brooks was the responsible parent.

The boys liked all of the parade and shows. We stopped to watch several of them throughout the weekend.

Despite his stink face, Woody really did like them.

For lunch, we had reservations at the Crystal Palace. This is a (surprise!) buffet-style restaurant where the Winnie the Pooh characters visit you. I wasn't sure if my boys even knew who these characters were, but they went crazy for them! The food (especially the variety of salads) was good too.

After lunch, we loaded on the bus to head to the Animal Kingdom.
I tried getting a picture at the front of the park. No one was having it.

Gaines feel asleep as soon as we got there. We walked to DinoLand and let Woody ride the TriceraTop Spin. It is similar to Aladdin/Dumbo. The Kali River Rapids were closed (which was fine by me- I didn't want to get wet....hahaha, spoiler, I got soaked later on), and the safari wait time was extremely long and no Fast Passes were available. Everyone's feet were hurting, so we stopped at The Tusker House(where we would later eat dinner) to relax for a bit since Woody had fallen asleep as well. It was probably my favorite part of the day (is that bad to say?) My boys were getting much needed rest, and it was nice to sit and chat.

Gaines eventually woke up, so we took him to ride the TriceraTop Spin (he liked) and to see the Bug's Life show (he did not like...maybe too young for this.)

Then we met back up to eat dinner. The Tusker House is a...wait for it....buffet-style meal with characters. However, the food here is so good. It was probably my favorite meal of the trip. It is traditional dishes from Africa and Asia. I liked it because it was so different from what we had eaten, but if you have picky eaters (pretty sure Woody only ate blueberries)/don't like spicy food, it might not be the place for you.

While we were eating dinner, the bottom fell out...and rained...and rained....and rained. We ran to the entrance of the park for cover. I bought the boys some Safari Mickey Mouse dolls. They literally had not asked for anything, and I thought these would keep them somewhat happy under their poncho tents. It was pouring rain, and we had to wait under a tent for the bus. There was a man in a wheelchair with a service dog. Since he was staying at Shades of Green, I thought he was another disabled veteran. However, he told us that he was actually a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing. He was there watching a friend, who was a disabled veteran run the race, when the bombs went off. He, as well as two of his friends who were with him, lost their legs. The four of them were going to run the marathon together. Is that not incredible?!

Brooks and I had originally planned on putting the boys to sleep, letting the rain stop, and going back to the Magic Kingdom since it was open to 11:00 for Magic Hours. (We had adjoining rooms to Mimi and Papa.) However, both boys were so excited, and we couldn't get them to sleep. Gaines finally fell asleep around 9:00, but I don't think Woody passed out until close to 10:00. At first, I was majorly annoyed, because I am a four year old who wanted to go back to the park. Brooks had to gently remind me that this trip was for the boys, and I sucked it up and started dying laughing at how crazy Woody was acting. He is usually a pretty quiet kid, so hearing him sing and laugh made me so happy.

Thoughts: I planned which parks we went to based on where Jim had made reservations, but I loved how our schedule worked out. The last three days we did the Magic Kingdom in the morning (when it isn't as crowded), and then went to a less busy park after lunch. The Animal Kingdom is really neat, but I was glad we didn't spend a whole day there.
Favorite Rides: The Barnstormer, Dumbo, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Best Moment: The boys laughing on the Barnstormer- I was so proud how brave they were! Sitting and talking at the Animal Kingdom was a highlight for me//Also, meeting the two men who were running the marathon//Watching how excited and hyper Woody was before bed.
Fast Pass Tip: There are some things at Disney that are hard to get Fast Passes to ride/do. I wanted Brooks, Woody, and I to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but when I tried to register the three of us, none were avaiable. Instead I just registered one at a time. So first I just did Woody's and they had a pass from 10:30-11:30. Then I did Brooks and was able to get 10:40-11:40. Finally, I did mine and got one for 10:50-11:50. My plan was for us to all get on when our times overlapped- anywhere from 10:50-11:30. (In reality, since the ride was broken during those times, and we were able to use our Fast Pass whenever, the times didn't even matter!) I have to give credit to my mom for this. And she learned of this tip from a lady at church, and that is how my brother got to meet Elsa and Anna ;) 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Disney Day 2- Magic Kingdom/Epcot

My poor in-laws. That's where I will start.

See, I am Melinda Hollon's child and fully believe in making the most of your Disney vacation. We had magic hours, so we could go into the park at 8:00 instead of the normal 9:00. So I wanted to leave to catch the monorail at 7:00...so everyone needed to be up by 6:00. #nosleepinginatDisney

It was drizzling rain, but I was like this deranged mom on a mission. I had wanted to get Fast Passes to the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but they were gone, so I had a plan to run as fast as we could with Woody to try to get on. Despite sprinting in the rain and trying to mow people over with the Bob, there was a long line. (Looking back, it probably wasn't a good idea to stick my son on that as his first ride of the morning.) Instead we rode Peter Pan, which was my favorite as a child. Everyone loved it! Then we did, It's a Small World. It was another hit, and it made me feel all sentimental, and I suddenly wanted every violent person to ride it so they could experience the peace that I was feeling on this ride. (Maybe I should write to President Obama about this?) 

The rain kept coming, but luckily we had breakfast reservations at Chef Mickey's, which was at the Contemporary. (Funny story, my sister and I always thought this hotel was so cool because the monorail ran through it. After being in there? Not that cool and must have been "contemporary" in 1978.) Chef Mickey's was a breakfast buffet. I can't tell you much about the food due to my boys going crazy trying to get to the characters. All I remember is Mickey waffles, Gaines got his chubby legs stuck in the high chair, and I was pretty sure they were going to ask us to leave because my kids were sticking their fingers in Mickey's eyes and down Pluto's mouth.

Chef Mickey's!

Hands in Donald's mouth

Blowing kisses

Hands in Goofy's mouth

Trying to pull Goofy's nose off

After breakfast, it continued to rain. A normal person would go back to the hotel. Lindsey? Put on your poncho and suck it up! We met this guy.

A little rain never hurt anyone!

We rode Pirates of the Caribbean. I wouldn't say the boys loved it, but they definitely weren't scared. Then we rode Aladdin's Magic Carpet, which is like a Dumbo ride, buy the boys loved it. We walked around some and the boys fell asleep, so Brooks and I rode Thunder Mountain. (I can't wait for the day my boys can ride this too.)

On Aladdin's Carpet...I was a wee bit excited

The boys were still asleep and everyone kinda felt gross and wet, so we walked back to the hotel to freshen up. Mimi and Papa stayed back at the hotel, but after the boys woke up, we headed back out! We rode Buzz's Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (similar to Toy Story Mania, but a little slower) and the Astro Orbiter. I had Gaines on both of these rides. Especially on the Astro Orbiter, I was so so worried about hanging on to him! Mimi and Papa met back up with us and we used our last Fast Pass on Peter Pan (Papa was parking the stroller the first time we rode it.)

On the Buzz Lightyear ride...Woody was obviously paying attention to the targets.

Mimi and Papa purchased Park Hopper passes for us. It allows you to change parks, which is awesome when you don't want to spend all day at one park. (I will talk later about this on my final thoughts post.) We had dinner at Epcot at the Garden Grill. I wasn't the best time management planner and didn't realize how far all the parks are from each other. Oops! We were late for dinner, but they were so accommodating. I love the Garden Grill! It is a rotating restraunt and buffet-style (ie: all you can eat), but they bring the food to you! The food was so good, especially the salad and fish. Woody didn't eat much here, but Gaines devoured the Mac and Cheese! They also got to meet (farmer) Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale.

Pluto playing with the Buzz Lightyears the boys got on their drinks

The characters here were awesome. They spent so much time with the boys,

After dinner, we rode Living with the Land. This is where our yummy salad came from...and our fish. I felt they were giving me dirty looks for eating their friends. Then we rode the Nemo ride. We wanted to stay out longer, but Woody refused to use the public bathrooms after spraying himself earlier that morning. He was in pain, so we headed back to let him potty in private.

Jim took this cool picture at Epcot

Thoughts: I thought the breakfast would be the hit of the day and the boys would be a disaster by dinner. Wrong! They were so hyper at breakfast, and chill at dinner. The Magic Kingdom is awesome, but crowded. I am glad we did it in the morning (nice and early!) before the crowds set in, and Epcot at nights. Naps are tricky with my kids. We shouldn't have gone back to the hotel when they feel asleep, because they basically woke up once we got there. 
Favorite Ride: Peter Pan
Best Moment: Attacking Meeting Mickey. They were so excited. Also, I loved riding Peter Pan with the boys. Their faces were in awe, and it reminded me of how much I loved it as a little girl.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Disney Day 1- Hollywood Studios

As you can see by my many Instgram posts, the Harvard family recently went to Disney World! It truly was a magical trip, and I am so glad we went when the boys were young. Of course, there are some things I would change for the next time, so I hope these posts help my memory for our next trip.

We flew out on Thursday morning. Luckily, we were all TSA pre check and didn't have a long wait in security. Not so luckily, the boys and I were seated separately from Brooks (who still claims he didn't plan that.) The boys did great though, and after a short flight, we arrived at Shades of Green (our hotel.)

After landing in Orlando. Yes, Gaines has a leash.

***After I finish recapping Disney, I want to do a post on flying, our hotel, transportation, meals, etc overview. (Try to contain your excitement.)

We met up with Mimi and Papa (Brooks's parents) and caught the bus to Hollywoody Studios. We had a little time before our first Fast Pass, so we rode The Great Movie Ride. Gaines was in awe of everything, and poor Woody had just woken up from a short nap. The boys did great and weren't scared of any of the scary movie parts.

Then we headed to the Disney Junior Love show. This is great if you have kids that love Mickey Mouse Club House, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, or Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It is basically a fancy puppet show, but they sing and stuff falls from the sky. Gaines loved this! I think Woody did too, but he was still a little sleepy. After the show, we stood in line to meet Jake. I knew that Woody loved characters, but didn't know how Gaines would do. He loved all of them though.

Gaines fully made-out with every Disney character. Yes, we returned home sick. #kissinggerms

Next, we headed to lunch at Hollywood and Vine. It was a buffet style meal where you got to meet Jake, Sofia, Doc McStuffins, and Handy Manny. Gaines fell asleep on the walk over, so we just let him sleep through lunch. He would have loved it though. We had reservations for 2:45, and it wasn't crowded at all. Woody got tons of one-on-one time with each of the characters. Every 15 minutes, they invite the kids up to dance with them. Gaines would have loved this, but Woody is a little more timid when it comes to dancing. I kept asking him if he wanted to, but he kept saying no. After the fourth or fifth time, I told him to go dance, and I would sit by him. Poor Woody said, "Um, I think we need to go home now." Ha! I don't blame him. Gaines woke up at the end of lunch, so we crammed a bunch of chicken nuggets down his throat so the meal wouldn't be a waste.

After lunch, we split up for a ride. Brooks wanted me to ride Tower of Terror. I had never been on it, and nothing at Disney is that scary, right?

Wrong. I almost wet myself.

While I making sure I didn't need a change of pants, Mimi and Papa took the boys to the Muppets 3-D show. Woody didn't make it two second in before he told Papa he didn't want to ride it. Mimi and Gaines sat through it, but I think my boys are a little young for this show. And they don't like wearing glasses.

We then went to another Fast Pass, which was Toy Story Mania. Mimi, Woody, and I rode together and Brooks, Gaines, and Papa rode together. Everyone loved this ride! When Gaines got off, he kept yelling, "Pow Pow Pow!" 

This was the only night we didn't have dinner reservations, so we took advantage and headed back to the hotel. Room service and lights out!

Thoughts: A great 1/2 day park for little kids. Besides the Toy Story ride (which has an incredibly long line if you don't have a Fast Pass), there aren't a lot of rides for preschool kids. However, the Disney Jr characters made it worth it!

I also want my sweet nephew to know that everytime I walked by the Jedi Training Camp kids, I had to restrain myself from tripping them. (The full story here.)

Best Moment: Seeing my boys meet the Disney Jr. characters/the Disney Jr. show. Also, hearing my mother in law scream/laugh on Toy Story Mania.
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