Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vacation-ville Part 4: Disneyworld

Finally! The last installment. Yes, it was quite a trip. Now that I have quit swaying from the cruise and we are all home safe and sound I look back on it all quite fondly. There really is something truly magical about taking your kids on vacation. And it doesn't have to be a 2 week crazy multi-destination expensive trip either. My kids love going out in the trailer too. We love going over to Seattle. Or up to the mountains. Staying in a small, confined space (trailer or hotel) with the kids can be both maddening and full of love. 

By this point in the trip I was seriously lacking clean clothes. There were laundry facilities on the cruise ship, but there was some serious competition. And hauling your laundry ALL over the freaking ship to find an open machine was hard. Before departing on the plane a week and a half prior, we knew that doing laundry was going to be an issue and that we weren't packing boatloads of clothes - truly nearly everything we packed was worn at least once. We had thought we would just pay and turn over a big laundry bag to some smiling Disney employee. Well at $2 a shirt... Not exactly. We were recycling. And standing in line for laundry facilities - when we would much rather do something else. 

But now we were off, freed from the constraints of the boat! We hadn't eaten breakfast and I think we were all sick of the ship food. We got off, drove a bit and found an iHop. iHop had never tasted so good. We actually ordered a ton of food, paid little to nothing (it seemed a steal after all the money we had just forked over for the last 7 days) and EVERYONE - picky Skadi and Silas included - chowed. 

I had spent time in this region before on travel for work, so I dragged everyone over to the Ron Jon Shop. I like this place. I guess where I come from, where I grew up, we just don't have a huge warehouse devoted to swim suits and swim gear and all things water. We shopped a bit, AB rented a boogie board and we hit the beach. 

Waves! A lot of waves actually. 

Reno of Cocoa Beach. Skadi will never let us forget this photo as she was not there to hold the bird. And he left before she got back. Many curses on me.    

Thankfully Skadi had just bought a swim suit at the Ron Jon Shop. 

Kids having fun!

Leif sitting and being contemplative. 

AB had a great day. He claims this was his favorite day of the trip - hanging out on the beach, just us and riding the boogie board. Our hard deadline was the rental car return time in Orlando. We had to get to a grocery store to stock up on necessities (we were actually running out of diapers), drive to Orlando, get checked in at the Port Orleans Riverside and then get the car back. Lots to do. We packed up. Found a public restroom to change and headed towards Orlando. All things being equal and I had to do it all over again, I think I would have planned to spend the night here in Cocoa Beach. 

So we drive - actually I drive and everyone else konks out given the late night, early morning, day on the beach experience. Before we know it we are in Orlando and checked in at the Port Orleans Riverside. 

We picked this hotel because it is one of the few moderate priced category hotels where you can have 5 to a room. I am learning this is a big deal with a family of two parents and three kids. You either lie about having only 2 kids and a total of 4 people - or you pay for a suite or two rooms.  It isn't AS big of a deal with Silas being under 3 on this trip - as we didn't have to pay for his park access or anything. But over 3 years old and it becomes a pain in the butt to try and work around with hotel stays. 

We had previously stayed at Caribbean Beach and Coronado. So now we were at Port Orleans Riverside. Skadi loved her fold out bed. Silas got a crib and Leif lucked into a queen bed to himself. Skadi was thrilled at not having to share her nifty fold down. You can see why Leif had no interest...

That night we ran over to the resort for dinner. We had thought about taking the boat over to Downtown Disney - actually now it is Disney Springs - but the line was long and we had some hope of hitting the pool after dinner and before bed. 

This is where I think the Port Orleans Riverside let us down. We had come to the restaurant once before on our first trip - Boatwrights - and had a poor experience. Boatwrights was a no go at a 90 min wait. And so we went to the cafeteria area. The selection was not great and was not made better by the kid who puked in the middle of the floor. Truly I feel for the parents. It could have been us. But it didn't help our appetites. We all got our mugs set up, had a refresher on how to use the meal plan (offered reluctantly) and then sat down. We had mugs swiped nearly immediately while refilling - yes, seriously. There was a dancing/instrument/parade thing for the kids and they didn't come over to our wing. And the food was kind of like Denny's. Just not good. 

I could go into it more, but we will probably go back to Coronado next time. We enjoyed their food selections and particularly the breakfast bar. But we also had huge issues with shuttle buses at Riverside. We actually had to miss/reschedule one Fast Pass because of lack of shuttle buses. This was annoying because our next option for Soarin' was at 7pm that night. No chance at getting more than our three FP+ in. If it was just once, it wouldn't have been a big deal. But two days of our three there we waited and waited and waited for buses. They had an attendant (intern) there who kept radioing for shuttles both days to no avail. Or at least that was what they were telling us they were doing - we had never seen attendants at the shuttle stops before. In talking with other people they complained about shuttle accessibility with both this trip and prior trips staying at the Riverside. No thanks. 

Ok enough about Disney Riverside - on to Hollywood Studios!

We love Hollywood Studios for Star Wars and the Buzz Lightyear ride. Super fun. We rode Star Wars a number of times, waits weren't terribly long. We only got on Buzz once. It is shocking to me how long the waits are for that ride. 

Unfortunately Silas isn't tall enough to ride many of the rides. But he likes posing on things and seeing characters thankfully. 

Oh and the Osborne Spectacle of Lights. Really magical. 

We loved the lights. So did everyone else. Hideous crowds. 

Getting ready to get snatched up. 

We were about ready to let them snatch HIM up. He wanted to see Buzz so bad, but waiting for 40 minutes in line was a bit much to ask. Or he was just being a pain. 

Fantastic. Truly one of the best shows. We love it. I tried to get them to redo their photo from years ago. It was like pulling teeth. But I got some semblance of it. 


Oops, Buzz pictures are out of order. I always told Leif he didn't have to see the characters, but some he willingly saw, though with a smirk on his face like I made him. I, in no way, made him see Buzz or Woody. 

Miss Bean - or KK. I am not supposed to call her Bean. 

The whole crowd. Psycho toddler changed his mood once he got to the front of the line. Silas called Buzz Lightyear "To bitty and beyond". Silas talks: "I met to bitty and beyond!"

Us. Note that the Mickey hat isn't there anymore, which is kind of sad. 

Found a photographer while AB and the kids rode Star Tours. 

He looks all sweet and innocent there, but we know better. 

It was a late night at Hollywood Studios. Silas was NOT a fan of Fantasmic - many tears. There weren't as many rides for him, and even the things we thought he would enjoy, like "Buzz Lightyear", were "scary". But we had a great time. 

The next morning was Magic Kingdom day! We were all excited for the new Fantasyland and made a plan to beeline it to Fantasyland for our Little Mermaid Fast Pass - after cinnamon rolls at Gaston's. We were waylayed along the way... 

Silas' favorite Disney hero. Merida. He LOVES Merida as can be seen by his grin here.

The boy was SO SO happy and still talks about meeting Merida (and Elsa). 

She's already a pro actually. But always good to have pointers. 

Finally we were on our way to Fantasyland! Gaston's cinnamon rolls were perfect. As was LaFrou's brew. Voyage of the LIttle Mermaid was fun (only "just a little scary" was uttered once or twice). We all really loved the new Seven Dawrves Mine Train and managed to ride it a few times. We had to ride three people, which meant one of the kids was always by themselves. It became an ongoing joke about Leif's ride partner. One woman screamed and videotaped the entire time. Leif was annoyed. Another was the sweetest little old lady who thoroughly enjoyed herself, though was not the seat mate that Leif was expecting. And given the opportunity Skadi will always try to take the front seat and try to ride it by herself. She was thwarted. 

Best ride photo of AB and Skadi. 

The last ride - Skadi was holding on to her pride of not screaming on a single ride. I convinced her it was fun to scream your head off on rides. 

Love the little old lady next to Leif. 

Front seat - but not solo as she wanted. 

We did the Monster's Laugh Floor for Silas. Blah. Waste of time. Silas wasn't terribly interested. AB took Silas back to the hotel mid-day and me and the older two had fun. Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Adventure, etc. 

We all reconnected and did Pirate's, Splash Mountain (and the photo of me with the kids didn't come through, blah). AB wanted to do Space Mountain with the kids so we headed back that way. Teacups on the way. Then Silas saw it. HE COULD DRIVE A CAR!

Not sure about the teacups. 

Still not sure. But not screaming!

One of her favorites!

Silas' favorite. He was so excited to drive and about 20 second in the "Bang Bangs" started. Silas HATES fireworks. I am starting to wonder if he will ever like them, or forever have a fear. He was paralyzed and I had to lean over and drive us back while he sobbed in my lap. 

The castle is really a site to behold as it cycles through colors. 

We cracked up to find out Olaf had photo bombed us. (Christmas Card photo)

This was my favorite - loved that Silas was giving the thumbs up to the photographer. 

It was a late night, more so because I needed a Dole Pineapple Whip before leaving - at nearly 11pm. Tired kids. Back to the hotel to sleep. 

One more day... 

We slept. We were tired. The kids didn't get up immediately, our only constraint was our 10am FP for Soarin'. No problem. Figured we would get to Epcot, eat breakfast, have our day there and then get home early to pack and get on the plane early early the next day. Epcot is normally my and AB's favorite. Less so this time. The bus didn't come and didn't come and didn't come. I ended up MOVING our FP as we weren't going to make it. We stood and waited and waited. The intern kept saying "it's coming, it will be here in 3 minutes". He was wrong. We were starved starved when we got to Epcot finally. We hit Starbucks - not exactly the plan, but we were too hungry to find something else.

While we waited the kids found a lizard. It was entertainment at least. 
We went to the Nemo ride since we did make that FP. They had redone the exit and added aquariums since we were there last time. That would have been fun had we not lost Skadi. 20 mins, no idea where that child was. I finally contacted Disney staff and  they were all on the watch out for her. Finally, we found her, but after that I had a hard time enjoying the aquarium. 

This fish was staying put. Silas found a friend in him. "He says hi Silas." "He says I just sitting here." "He says I love you Silas!"

Leaving his friend. 

Spaceship Earth! So hokey - but a must do. 

We decided we were going to go to the left instead of the right entering the Countries Pavillion. Mexico here we come. Nachos and Skadi made a friend when she threw a chip in the water. 

A real NORWEGIAN sword!

Fell asleep. Dropped the sword. Mom back tracked and found a family carrying the sword that looked JUST like the one we lost. Knowing my son would be horrified and we would all suffer if he woke up without it, I went up to them and asked if they happened to have found that on the ground. Sword back and Silas was none the wiser. 

Skadi belly dancing at the Morrocan restaurant. 

So we paid extra for a dinner package to the Candlelight Ceremony hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Really cool. I loved the music. We eeked through it with Silas. 

This ended our night and we headed back to the hotel. I stayed up and packed and at the crack of dawn the shuttle showed up to take us to the airport. I love Delta. I got to the Sky Miles calendar and he struggled to find us a better route home. But to no avail. Oh well. We flew home, Orlando, to LAX, to Salt Lake to home. 

The dogs missed us. It was good to be home. 

Now 3 months later and Leif is still begging to go back. Skadi is starting to speak fondly of the trip and isn't completely blinded to the whole trip by her less than happy experience on the cruise. We have recovered.