Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Animal Kingdom (Day 6)

We were sad to have to check out of our room.  We packed up our bags, dropped them off with the bag people, left our carry-on items with the valet and waited to catch the bus to Animal Kingdom.

Our first stop was Expedition Everest. We had fastpasses for this ride (although we were a bit late because we waited for our bus for nearly 40 minutes), but we got on and conquered the mountain.

Kate and Alison.

Ada, Kate and me.

We quickly made it over to our next fastpass ride, the Kilimanjaro Safari.  We saw hippos, giraffes, elephants, lions, rhinos and a bunch of others. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, traveling to Africa to go on a real safari, when you can go on a decent one here in the states.

After the safari we greeted Tarzan.

And Pocahontas.

Then we took the Wildlife Express Train to an area of the park where they have a petting zoo.

Lyla with a goat.

Ada with a pig.

Finally, we made our way to our last meal. We had reservations at the Tusker House Restaurant, which had African cuisine and a handful of characters.  We were in a terrible rush (we had to catch our bus back to our resort, in order to catch our express bus back to the airport), so we were unable to really enjoy the food and characters too much.

We did see Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Unfortunately the lighting in the restaurant was pretty dim which made it a challenge to take good pictures using our cell phone cameras.


Tusker House Restaurant.

We caught our bus and made it back to our resort in the nick of time, where we caught our express bus to the airport.  The airport and flight home were uneventful. We were all happy to sleep in our own beds, but none of us wanted to go to work or school the next day.

And thus concludes our photo journey through Walt Disney World.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Magic Kingdom (Day 5)

We returned yet again to the Magic Kingdom.  We knew it would be crowded today as the park was open from 8:00 AM to midnight, it was the week before Christmas and the weather was gorgeous.

Once again we took the boat from our resort to the park.  Our captain was a pirate and gave pirate hankies to the kids.

We saw Aladdin and Jasmine.

We waited for about 60 minutes for Splash Mountain (the waits for Space Mountain, Anna & Elsa and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train were all 110 minutes+!).  I liked this view of the Frontierland Train Station.

After Splash Mountain, we weren't dying to wait in more lines, and while Alison and the girls used the rider swap, I staked out a great spot for the parade.  We typically avoid the parades, but on a busy day like today it seemed like as good of place to spend our time as anywhere.

After the parade we waited in line for Enchanted Tales with Belle.  The kids star in a quick re-enactment of the day when Belle and Beast fell in love.  Kate was selected to play Maurice, I don't remember what part Ada played, and Lyla was an extra.  After the quick play, Belle spends a moment with each child and takes a picture.We had never been to this attraction and the girls ended up loving it.

Lyla rock climbing while we wait.

Kate as Maurice.

Kate with Belle.

Lyla with Belle.  She got the whole audience cooing over her as she showed Belle her red hair and pigtails and her twinkletoe shoes.

Ada with Belle.

We finally found the best treats in the park.  Big Top Souvenirs in Fantasyland (across from the Dumbo rides) has a big selection of treats.  We got chocolate dipped Rice Krispies treats with M&Ms or toffee, but they also had fudge, cupcakes, chocolates and lots of other treats.

We had fastpasses for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which allowed us to bypass the long lines. It's a decent ride. Not too thrilling of a roller coaster, but you do go slowly through the mine as the dwarfs sing and the jewels sparkle.  It fits well at the park.

We went to the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor.  It's an interactive comedy show hosted by Mike Krzyzewski (or whatever his name is) where they spotlight and interact with the audience.  As we were sitting down my picture was put up on the screen with a caption that I didn't see in time.  They told the story of Monster's Inc. showing people in the audience and Lyla (sitting on my lap) was shown as boo, and then Ada and Kate were shown on the screen to help with the jokes.  I was able to catch some of it on video. It was a packed house, but it was fun to be so involved.

We made sure to stop and see Mickey at the front of the park. We heard there was an animatronic Mickey who talks to you and greets you by name, but we were stuck with the regular old Mickey in his magic costume.  Mickey #5.

Last of all, we couldn't leave the park without getting a picture in front of Elsa's ice castle. It looks spectacular!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Disney World (Day 4)

Today, finally, we were able to sleep in a bit.  We had reservations for breakfast at Ohana (a restaurant right at our resort) with Lilo and Stitch, Mickey and Pluto.

None of us have ever seen Lilo and Stitch, but we knew who they were (just not what that creature is).

Mickey (4th time).

Cheers.  You can see Cinderella's castle from the windows, I bet this is a great place from which to watch the fireworks.


Alison went for Pluto's bootie.

After breakfast, we took a bus to Disney's Blizzard Beach.  Normally a day pass to this waterpark is $45-$53, but because the main pool at our resort was under construction they offered us free passes to come here.  We had to sign in at the ticket booth where they gave us towels to use, our passes and a bottle of sunscreen. I'm not sure if we were supposed to give the sunscreen back or what, but we were surprised by that.

The waterpark was pretty awesome. In true Disney fashion, every detail was addressed.  The wave pool is right near the sandy beach. There is a chairlift to the top of the waterslide mountain.  The first slide we went on was the world's longest family raft ride.  All five of us sat in a tube that careened down a long slide from the top of the hill.  It was really fun. We rode the lazy river (also huge), then Ada and I went on a couple of slides while Kate and Lyla played in the sand and Alison napped.

It was a little chilly to be swimming, but it was warmer than the previous few days.

After the waterpark, we returned to our resort where we surprised the girls with tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  I didn't love the idea of spending another $70 per person to get into the Magic Kingdom, but we had heard good things about the party and, well, when in Rome...

Instead of the monorail, we took the boat from our resort to the park.  If you look very closely in the picture below you can just make out Cinderella's castle.

We were waiting in line to see Tinkerbell near the park entrance.  The girls were studying the special map for the Christmas party planning our evening while we waited.


We had a great view of the fireworks while we waited in line to meet the ducks.  Aside from the fact that cardboard fireworks casings were raining down on us...

The Seven Dwarfs come out for the party.

This trip was all about Lyla.  Meeting all of the characters was simply magical for her.  She loved showing everybody her pigtails and red hair.

With Merida.

Lyla and Merida got along well.  During the parade the following day, Merida spotted Lyla from her float and gave her a special wave and pointed to her hair.

Another redhead. Ariel.

Santa Goofy.  Those whiskers are rubber.  Alison and I both checked.

The ducks.  Donald (my favorite), Daisy and Scrooge.

Christmas Minnie.

Tomorrow we return yet again to the Magic Kingdom.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hollywood Studios (Day 3)

We ate breakfast at our hotel, and spent the next day at Hollywood Studios.

Lyla loved the Disney Jr. Show.  While we waited for the show to start, I had to snap a photo of her shirt for the day.

The first two days were pretty chilly (highs were in the mid-60's), but by today it started to warm up.

Daisy in lingerie.

Green Army Man.

Lightning McQueen and Mater.

Sofia. Apparently, Ada doesn't like Sofia (so she says...).


I had heard a little bit about the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (they have a pretty interesting backstory from when they were displayed in Arkansas), but didn't know too much about what to expect.  Hollywood Studios has decorated the Streets of America area of the park with more than 5 million lights.  Below is a picture of one of the buildings during the day, then a view at night.  We ate our Olaf cupcakes while we watched the spectacle of lights.

I took two photos at the exact same spot. One during the day and one during the light show.

Here is a video clip of the lights in action:

In front of Mickey's hat.

The next two pictures are from the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.  It's a fun roller coaster in the dark with a couple of inversions.  I love Alison and Ada's faces.

It took a lot of work, but I was finally able to convince Ada to go on the Tower of Terror ride with me (she's been a number of times, but finds it quite scary).  This is possible the one ride that is better here at Disney World than it is at Disneyland. Ada is unfortunately hidden by the guys arms in front of her, but you can see her a little better in the video.

Here is a video from the ride.

The last thing that we did at Hollywood Studio (besides waiting forever for a bus) was Fantasmic!

And finally, a short video of the fireworks over Elsa's Ice Castle from our view on the beach across the lake: