Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Blizzard Beach

We picked a day to make our maiden voyage out to one of the water parks, and sure enough, I got called into work the night before.  I guess I could have declined the opportunity to work overtime, but you don't even want to know the crazy amount of money I just spent on textbooks for the new semester.  So, I worked all night, grabbed a coffee on the way home and didn't let a little (a lot) of no sleep deter our plans.  

With a bag of towels and some sunscreen, we set off for Blizzard Beach.  It takes us about 20 minutes or so (without traffic) to get there. What worked well for us was to get there just as the park was opening, so we could secure good seats to put our towels and stuff on.  I decided that the best place to set up camp would be at the Ski Patrol Training Camp area, which is a play place designed for the older kid - not a baby, but not a teenager.

Getting there early means having the play area to ourselves.  There's Joshua crossing the icebergs.  

And now Daniel, he's so cautious that it took him forever the first try across. 

And Megan...she was quite speedy. 

We did not pack lunches for our maiden trip to the water park, so Megan and I went in search of some food.  Disney food all looks the same at each of the parks, so we ate the usual, but made a mental note to pack food the next time.  Disney allows rolling coolers inside the water park, so I promptly went out to get one of those for our future trips. 

Me and my girl.  She and I went on quite a few rides together.  They boys all were happy to lounge in the river, but she's a dare devil and wanted to go down big water slides. Best thing ever about the park: the ski lift.  It was nice to ride up to the top of the slope without having to climb a ton of stairs.  I found the rides to be very family friendly and the kids had a great time.  I loved the winter theme, but could have done without the Christmas music. 

You know you're having a fun day when your hair looks like that!! feels like vacation never ended!

The Lego Store at Downtown Disney

Between the extreme rain and my strange night-shift work schedule, we had ONE day that would have been perfect to go back to one of the Disney parks to use our remaining Magic Your Way tickets before they expired.  As I was preparing things for a later-in-the-week trip to one of the parks, I noticed we were missing one of the kids' tickets.  Now, it could have just been in the washer, as it's likely that I used it as the hotel key and put it in my pocket, but after a frantic search through the house, it was no where to be found.  I called Disney's Customer Service and they said since I was close to Downtown Disney, I should just pop over there and pick up a replacement ticket.  So, we loaded up and headed out for a spontaneous trip to Downtown Disney.  

While we only needed to visit the Customer Service area (near the chocolate shop), we couldn't resist checking out the new Lego displays. 

Notice Keith's big smile, I think he was just as into the toys as the kids were! 

Woah!  That's pretty cool! 

The new Lego set for The Lone Ranger.

Wow, that's a tall Lego Friends display. 

Sweet Daniel and the Hulk. 

We did give them each a budget to stick to and allowed them to shop for a bit.  They all came home with something new and exciting to add to our Lego collection. 

Joshua and the pirate

The crew with the pirate (just ignore my finger at the top of the picture!).

So after shopping, we managed to get to the Disney ticket counter to pick up our replacement ticket.  I talked to the cast member about extending the expiration on the ticket and there would be a fee to do that.  Since we had to add a nominal fee to the tickets, I asked her if it were possible to transfer the ticket to a water park,since if we are going to be out in the rain getting wet, we might as well do it someplace that we'll be wet anyway.  In the end, for a slight fee, we traded our Magic Your Way passes in for annual water park passes for Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.  We've had the passes for just a couple of weeks and have already been out to play at the parks twice.

I bought a rolling cooler and have a bag stocked with sunscreen and other items so that Keith can take the kids without me on some days, since between trying to sleep during the day and trying to study when I'm not sleeping, it's so nice to have a quiet house every once in a while.  

April Showers Brings May Flowers and June Showers Brings Flooding

We had and unusually wet June.  In fact, the rain made it flood in our neighborhood on more than one occasion. Usually in Florida, if it starts to rain, we all joke and say the weather will change in about 30 minutes.  This was not the case for about a week solid as we got hammered with rain.  

I'll confess that I started to wonder how I was going to drive to work, as it was about 5pm when our street looked like this, and I leave sometime after that. 

And the water just kept creeping up our lawn, getting closer to the house. 

When the rain stopped and the water started to recede, Keith went out to check to see if we had anything in the mailbox.  We were both expecting items to come in the mail and were hoping they weren't sitting out there being ruined.  Good news, just a few slightly damp advertisements/junk mail items.  

Looking closely at the picture, there is a dirt line on the lawn that shows the highest area that the water made it to.  

Fortunately, all the water receded and I was able to leave for work on time. 

The Art of Animation Resort and the Magic Kingdom

As previously mentioned, we were given a very generous gift of two nights at the Art of Animation along with 2 Magic Your Way tickets for each family member.  We had such a good time!  We would have put pictures up sooner, but I used my real camera (not my iphone), and I couldn't find the camera cord.  Alas, I'm pretty sure Keith probably hid it somewhere in the office to inspire me to clean up in there.

I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday...all 7pm to 7am shifts, came home that Monday morning and slept for 3 hours and then we finished packing and were out the door for what should have been a 30 minute drive.  Unfortunately, traffic and poor (overtired) co-piloting skills, as well as needing to stop for gas because somebody (me) likes to drive dangerously low on gas and somebody else (Keith) finds that incredibly frustrating.  Nevertheless, we made it to the Art of Animation and it was nothing short of spectacular.  

The funny thing about staying in a hotel with the kids is that as a family of 5, it's hard to find enough space for everyone.  This was not the case here.  Honestly, I almost didn't even want to go to a theme park, I was enjoying the resort so much!  Then again, I had just finished the final week of my 4th semester of my graduate school classes and so my house was (is) looking a bit rough.  It was nice to be in a clean environment without a textbook or laptop in sight.  

We stayed in room 6621 in the Lion King area of the resort and immediately changed clothes to go for an evening swim.  

The largest pool in the resort was just a short walk from our building.  It had a Finding Nemo theme.  There is actual music playing under the cool!  

After a brief swim, we went back to get our jammies on and settle in because we had an early morning planned for the Magic Kingdom. 

I couldn't get over the sweetness of the kids' suitcase.  Books and lovies...I sure hoped there were some clothes in there, because I let them pack themselves.  Fortunately, they did a great job. 

Rafiki and Me having a moment.  

A look around the resort with the kids....

All of the artwork was awesome to look at.  The kids were amazed at the big wall of animation in the lobby of the resort. 

Our room was fabulous.  The resort has three family areas: Lion King (where we stayed), Finding Nemo, or Cars.  The regular hotel rooms have a Little Mermaid theme.  

The main living room area.  There was also a coffee pot, microwave and dorm size frig.  The kids had their own bathroom in this area.  

The kids refused to use the fancy washclothes.  

The master bedroom.  We had our own bathroom, too.  It was so nice to be able to close our door and stay awake after the kids went to bed. 

The kitchen table transformed to a Murphy Bed.  To see the video of Megan thinking she had to sleep on the kitchen table CLICK HERE.  

Off to the pool for some evening swimming....

Reading the rules and deciding if this is the pool they want to stay at. 

Megan playing on the splash pad. 

The pool had family activities going on all the time.  Here's Megan in a hula hooping contest.  

Heading back to get ready for bed. 

The boys were thrilled to watch TV while in bed on the pull-out couch. 

Megan was tired and just wanted to read and go to sleep. 

We got up early the next morning and had Megan make her bed up, so we could eat at the table.  We brought breakfast food from home. 

We got to the Magic Kingdom about 20 minutes before "rope drop", since that's what all my Disney-fanatic friends had suggested.  While it was a bit of a wait standing around, it was worth it to get a jump start on the day before the park gets too crowded.  

Before the park officially opens, some of the characters ride the train into the station and welcome all of the guests.  It was really cute.  Also, a random family got to stand up on the platform, too.  

We went straight for our favorite ride, Buzz Lightyear.

I rode with Megan and Daniel and was in charge of steering the space ship, while the two of them shot at targets.  

Megan's score. 

Daniel's score.  Guess who was busy looking around instead of shooting? 

Keith and Joshua looking all serious. 

Daniel looking rather upset about something. 

The big boys goofing around on the People Mover. 

There, that's better!

It's an exciting time to be over 8 cans tall...that means you can drive your own care in the speedway.  

Daniel got stuck with me as his driver...

...which must be why he's gripping the dashboard.

Joshua drove behind us, and Keith and Megan were behind him. 

We walked around the new Fantasy Land to check out all the pretty new things in that area, and decided to ride the tea cups, since we've never been on them.  Keith doesn't do spinning rides, so he sat this one out. 

All smiles. 

It looks like there is still more construction going on in the area.

Perhaps another roller coaster?

Keith and the kiddos.

Oh boy...Tangled's tower.  Megan was so excited!!

The boys with the Liberty Bell.  

We ate somewhere in this area in a nice air conditioned sit-down place.  Then we moved on to see a show.

It was the first time the kids had seen the Country Bear Jamboree. We did a ton of stuff and saw a few shows in this area. 

Then we moved onto the Jungle Cruise. 

We ended up waiting in line for 45 minutes and Keith and I decided this would be our last ride of the day, we'd start heading back to go swimming. 

But, before we leave, we had to get a Dole Whip.  Yummy!!

And Keith had to check out the watch store on Main Street.  I had considered grabbing a Starbucks from the bakery, but we had refillable cups back at the resort and I could get a coffee in that.  Remember, I'm not usually awake for an entire day without a nap in there somewhere, so I was starting to fade right about now. 

Back at the resort, it seemed everyone else decided it was a good idea to go swimming, too.  No worries, the pool was big enough to handle a many people without it feeling too crowded.  Keith and I got a nice shady spot to sit and we watched the kids play. 

We ate dinner at the resort, supplementing some of the items that we brought from home (sandwich stuff) with some yummy stuff from the resort's counter service dining area.  Then we considered taking the bus back to the Magic Kingdom to watch a parade and see fireworks, but the sky looked very menacing.  So we opted for a walk around the resort's different areas. 


Over in the Little Mermaid area, everything was larger than life! 

Megan and the statue of Price Eric.

Wow, that's a big Ursula! 

Just imagine them singing "everything's better, down where it's wetter...under the sea". 

Wow, the Little Mermaid area was just amazing.  We moved into the Cars area of the resort...

The pool was really cute, you could sit in the cozy cone for some shade.  

And sure enough, the rain came down fast and hard, so we walked to the arcade, where we had a credit for a bunk of coins that came with our hotel stay. 

 We considered hopping in the pool one more time before bed, but everyone was looking pretty exhausted, so off to bed we went.  

The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast in our room, packed out things and went to the Little Mermaid pool for a final swim.  

The kids had a great time climbing all over Keith while I relaxed on my chair. 

And here we are...married for 15 years.  Wow, how time flies. 

And our three monkeys. 

It was a great trip.  We loved the resort and the visit to the Magic Kingdom.