Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Magical Vacation

My awesome Dad splurged on our Christmas presents this year and took us to Walt Disney World for the week. My sister and I have been several times to the Magic Kingdom & EPCOT, but the last time was 14 years ago. Of course, this is my girls first trip there. I can't begin to tell you everything about our trip. Well, I can but it's going to be a fairly long post.

First of all, we stayed at the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort. This part of the hotel opened just this past August and was amazing! We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa which was plenty of room for all of us (3 bathrooms!). It had a great pool with an awesome water slide. Both of my girls braved this alone (after we were told they had to). It only took a little convincing (or a push) and they loved it. You could hear Cami scream the entire way down! :) This hotel is right by the Magic Kingdom and offers great views of the castle if you're on that side or at least from the walkway to the main building. Great place to watch the fireworks each night.

We started our week at EPCOT where in the restaurant, Akershus, in Norway, you can dine with the princesses. I thought this would be a special treat for the girls (and me) and a great way to introduce them to Disney. It began with a complimentary photo with Belle. This is who Cameron was for Halloween, so I thought she would be incredibly excited, but lo and behold, my precious 4-year-old went all shy on me. Now, this is a normal occurrence. She typically takes a while to warm up to people, but this is BELLE in her beautiful yellow dress. A little overwhelmed, perhaps? At least Rory wasn't...we have a beautiful picture of her with Belle & one of the entire family with Cami's head turned away. Unfortunately, she now regrets it and says, "I should have looked at the camera." Learning experience? Anyway, the meal was really good. We weren't sure what to expect for Norweigan food, but we all enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun to have Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White & Ariel come to our table as we ate. We toured EPCOT's World Showcase & rode several rides in Future World, then headed back to the hotel for dinner at the hotel & a dip in the hot tub & pool.

Tuesday, we went to Magic Kingdom. I wasn't sure what to expect on crowds and such. I had been researching so much for this trip, reading Disney message boards, looking at touring plans for the parks, figuring out which day to go to which park and still there were mixed reviews on crowd levels for this week. Well, we were indeed surprised & thrilled with the crowd level the day we were there. We only had to wait in line for 20 minutes at the most and that was maybe 1 or 2 rides. Many of them we just walked on. Cami loved most everything she went on, except maybe the Pirates. I thought Haunted Mansion scared her, but she said she liked it & wanted to do it again. They rode their first roller coaster in Toon Town. I wish I had captured the looks on their faces. They had this strained, "holding on for dear life" face, but Rory said, "That was fun!" when we got off and Cami wanted to ride again. They both loved Dumbo & really loved the Tea Cups. They rode them twice during the week. Luckily, Devon loves them too. My stomach says No! :) We finished the day by meeting Mickey & Minnie. The girls loved it! Then, dinner back at the hotel & more swimming.

Wednesday we went to Hollywood Studios. This is a great place, especially if you love movies, but it's not necessarily the park for my girls' ages. They loved the High School Musical production that went on right in the streets and they loved the Playhouse Disney show. They were also able to meet or see several characters as several of them are often out right in the center of the Studios. However, there are a lot of shows which is great for adults (I'm still sad I missed out on Beauty & the Beast), but we weren't sure they'd sit for long productions. We did see "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" and even that scared them. I guess a gigantic Ursula as well as feeling some of the effects was a bit much. There are also a few shows and thrill rides that are a bit too scary or they're too small for. However, for us adults, Rock-n-Roller Coaster was AWESOME! Unfortunately, we missed out on Toy Story Mania, which is the hot new attraction there. Next time, we'll go there first! We ended the day in the "Streets of America" where they have the Osbourne Family's Spectacle of Dancing Lights. I'm sure there are videos on youtube and I tried to take some video, but I'm sure it doesn't do it justice. It's this amazing light show set to music with an unbelievable amount of lights.

Thursday, the weather wasn't as great as it had been the first few days, but coming back to this cold weather, I can't really complain. It did rain a little, but we still enjoyed a little bit of Animal Kingdom. Basically we walked through one "forest" to see some gorillas & miscellaneous animals and we went on the safari ride. The jeep drives through small waterways and over bumps that were created to simulate a real African safari. It seems like the animals could come right up to you. The girls loved that, but after a quick lunch and the rain not letting up, we decided to head back to the hotel to rest. After our naps, we went back to EPCOT for dinner at the Coral Reef restaurant. We dined by their almost 6 million gallon aquarium, watching Rays & Sea Turtles, fish & sharks swim by. After dinner, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party where we got to ride some rides again, take in a special show in Tomorrowland and watch the great parade & fireworks show. Both were spectacular!

Friday was our final day. We had breakfast at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary where Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto & Donald came to visit as we ate. Then, we decided to tour the two other hotels on the monorail line...the Polynesian & Grand Floridian. Rory enjoyed playing in the sand by the Polynesian and we saw two different wedding parties by the Grand Floridian. One of them we witnessed actually getting into a Cinderalla carriage pulled by miniature horses! We went in the Grand Floridian to see the huge gingerbread house (they sell goodies from inside it) and huge Christmas tree, then headed over to the Magic Kingdom to enjoy some attractions again as well as try some things we hadn't done yet.

It was an awesome trip and I'd love to go back, especially when it's decked out for Christmas. I'd never been at this time and Disney goes all out (as they do for everything). It's amazing the amount of detail they put into decorations, shows, etc. to make Disney even more magical for Christmas. I'm so glad my girls got to experience it and hopefully will get to again and again. Oh and yes I have pictures. I'll post a few on here soon.


Brian said...
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Brian said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you guys had a great time.

I've always been impressed that every staffer seems like they're from a Disney movie. The customer service is beyond impressive.