Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dis pt 5

This delay in our trip report was brought to you by...Sinus Surgery! After 10 years of being mis-diagnosed with allergies, I came down with vertigo and was at last referred to an ENT specialist. He had me get an MRI taken and said that it was obvious that I'd had an infection for many years.

Surgery was yesterday and when he got in there, what he thought was thickening of the bone turned out to be fungus! Yuck! I've been growing mushrooms in my head? Really? Well, not exactly but it had been there at least 5 years. Soooooo glad I went for the surgery or who knows how far this would have gone.

And now, back to those carefree days at Disney


The Magic Kingdom
My favorite place
I get as excited as any child there.

Ofcourse, we got there for rope drop and for the first time, saw the opening show!

Waiting for opening. You can see that some of the Halloween decorations were up already. We really are happy to be there, but looking into the sun was brutal!

A better angle.

I was again armed with a RideMax plan on the slow level. I think we started in Adventureland heading to Pirates.

The place was deserted and the ride was a walk on--just how I like it.

After that, I think the kids and Pete hit Splash Mtn while I picked up fast passes in Fantasyland. Then I met them at Big Thunder Mtn.


Then over to Tom Sawyer Island. We just read the book, so Katie and Zack were able to recognize a lot more of the landmarks, which made it more fun. We miss Aunt Polly's cafe and the icecream sundaes you could get there. It's sad and deserted now. We looked for paint brushes but no luck.

Zack at the Fort

At some point, Pete realized he no longer had the spray bottle! Probably left on Splash Mtn. He went back to check, but they had just come to collect for lost and found, so we were told we could check at City Hall on our way out.

We were hot and tired and it was perfect timing to hit the Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch. I'd never been there and we liked it.

I think we hit the Haunted Mansion after lunch, but not sure. I do know that we headed back to Adventureland to get Pineapple whips--only the best dessert in the whole world! The kids and I fell in love with them at Disneyland and couldn't wait to have Pete try one. (although I think the ones in DL were better...)

Time to head out for the afternoon. I ran for Space Mtn FPs while Pete and the kids stopped in at City Hall to see about our spray bottle. We had picked one up at Walmart before our trip and had placed in an old water bottle holder for the strap. Well, they didn't have it but we gathered even more pixie dust when they gave us a brand new Disney spray bottle on the house! Yay!

Back to the hotel to rest up and relax. We were happy to discover that the music on the Beach Club buses was pretty subdued. The music on the Port Orleans buses on our last trip blasted and still rings through our heads. Not easy to take when you're tired.

I guess we swam at the hotel or maybe just hung around. Probably both.

Back to MK. This was Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Peter Pan is a favorite for Katie and me, Pooh's Adventure cracks Pete's back in just the right place and we never seem to miss a 3-D movie at Disney, so we hit Mickey's Philharmagic.

Over to Tomorrowland. Buzz Lightyear, always a favorite was less exciting this time, I think because the Toy Story ride at DHS is so much better. I hope they give it an upgrade some time soon.

I had not ridden on Space Mtn since I was 13 and Katie had never gone on it. We decided to be brave this trip and try it.

Here we are:

Pete was actually in the same car with us, but the pictures must be set up for the three car system, weird.

We all had a great time! Once was fine for me, but there was no wait so the others went back on.

I have no idea what we did for dinner that night....but I think we had food with us when we found a spot to sit for the fireworks. We positioned ourselves on the bridge from TL to Main Street and had a very nice view. I cried, like I always do. This time Katie cried too!

Well, that would have been a lovely end to the evening, but I had one more brilliant idea--if only I'd read my notes correctly. I read that Epcot had evening hours. Pete likes the ride on the monorail from MK to Epcot, so I figured we'd take the monorail, then walk through Epcot back to our hotel.

We get to Epcot and encounter lots of people heading out the exit and no one going in. Uh oh. We ask a nice guard if there are evening hours and he tells us no. Uh oh. We explained our (my) mistake and asked if it was possible to cut through to the Int exit and our hotel. He asked to see our room keys and led us right through the entry gate! Whew! I love Disney. It was a very pleasant walk around the lagoon.

Unfortunately, my camera doesn't take very good night shots and there were no Photpass photographers around.

Next up: It's a jungle out there...


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dis pt 4


Now the real fun starts! Up early, breakfast in the room. Turns out my old hot pot from college does still work so that plus instant Quinoa is breakfast for Pete. I load up my travel bag with rain ponchos, trail mix, camera and my itinerary and RideMax plans. Plus all the other stuff I normally carry around. This time, I did remember my hat. Pete was responsible for the spray bottle and Katie and Zack each had water bottles.

Off to Hollywood Studios. It was my least favorite park last trip but this time I wanted to give it a better chance by doing more research and having a good touring plan. I did all our RideMax plans on the slow paced setting so that we would not have to crisscross the parks too much and would have plenty of time for pin trading, browsing and hidden Mickey searches. I also enjoyed knowing about a few surprises to show everyone else, like pulling on the rope in the well next to Indiana Jones.

Sadly, we never got to the Singing in the Rain umbrella.

Waiting for the ferry from the hotel to DHS. Really liked travelling by ferry rather than always using buses. More relaxing and they seemed faster but I'm sure that had a lot to do with proximity as well. (this picture might be from the night before tho...)

We arrived just before rope drop and cut through the stores to get a bit ahead of the crowd, yes, but mostly to avoid the stroller brigade. They are very difficult to dodge. I went ahead of Pete and the kids to get in line with the masses waiting for the Toy Story Midway Mania fast passes. It went much faster than I expected and everyone was well behaved and friendly.

Met up with the fam just as they finished taking pictures with Winnie the Pooh. I was really interested in using the photopass this trip so whenever I saw a photographer, I tried to get everyone to jump in line. Not always successful but we did get a lot of nice shots. Don't have them yet though, so none to post here. I think I drove everyone a bit nuts trying to hunt down and get photos with the photopass, but they all humored me :-)

Zack was fairly photo shy this trip, but Katie and Pete posed.

Here's one from later that same day when I was able to get us all together

So, I don't really remember what order we hit everything, but all were a walk on--I love travel in September!

I think we hit Star Tours first. Had to do it today, it was shutting down on the 8th for a two year (I think) renovation. Fun, but definitely needs the update. I think this was the first ride we left something behind on, so some time later, I circled back to it gather Zack's water bottle from under his seat. There were many "lost" items to follow.

Zack on a Star Wars vehicle

Here's other rides we hit, in no particular order.

The one with the Muppets--loved it! Loved the line, the preshow and the movie.

Tower of Terror--Katie was planning to ride ToT, I planned to leave via the chicken exit, but wanted to see the line theming and stay with the family. Turned out that Katie and I both ducked out like chickens.

We waited for the guys to get done in the area where they post the ride photo. There were benches and I kept sitting down and getting up, etc. I had taken Zack's water bottle and the spray bottle from Pete. After we met up with them we walked out a good ways and when I went to return the bottles to them, lo and behold, I was missing the sprayer--another circle back for me to retrieve it from the bench inside.

Back Lot Tour--Fun, I enjoyed the line theming, the ride is fine and a bit interesting and the AFI display at the end is nice and reminded me of my dad and the things he would have enjoyed about it.

Toy Story Mania--fun, and Pete and I rode this together, which was also fun, since I'd been on this ride at Disneyland last year. Wish the crowd levels-- being new, this one was NOT a walk on and has 90 min waits all day--had allowed us to ride more than once.

Katie and a Toy soldier.

Pete always takes pictures of us in 3D glasses at Disney. I have to remember to take a picture of him in them some time.

Narnia--we had enjoyed the original Narnia show the last time, this one was no big deal.

I had been told that the quick service restaurants we atrocious, so made plans to have lunch back at the hotel. Also to be sure that we did leave and take a break. We NEED these breaks. Otherwise we all get overstimulated, hot and cranky.

However, I did need to stop to see Pluto.

Got a nice shot of Katie with him.

Back for another nice ferry ride and straight to the Yacht Club for lunch at the Captain's Grill.

Zack steering us into the restaurant

Nice relaxing lunch, go before the long trek back to our room. Naps! I think we all napped, but really don't remember if anyone went to the pool.

Back to DHS for more rides! Again, I really don't remember what rides we did when, but here's some of what we did.

The Beauty and the Beast show--Beastly! A long display of bad acting and uninspired costumes and sets. Waste of time, wish we had skipped it and watched more of the street shows instead.

Pete and Zack hit the Rockin' Roller Coaster and that may have been when Katie and I hit the Little Mermaid show. Liked that show much much better and I wished the Beast show hadn't turned the guys off so much that they didn't want to do another. This one was much more interesting technically.

I think the guys also did ToT again, which Katie and I were again not sorry to miss.

We got caught in the rain and the ponchos came in handy. This was pretty much the only downpour we had all week, despite what the weather reports predicted, so we were pretty lucky.

On the way to dinner, we hit the Great Movie Ride. I was hoping for the cowboy version, but it was the gangster version again. Still I had forgotten most of it and I think they may have changed some of the movies and it was enjoyable.

Dinner at the SciFi Drive in was very fun, but a long wait beforehand. Zack got a little pixie dust thrown his way. The waiter thought Zack was a girl all through the meal, although we did try to correct him several times. Once we ordered dessert, Zack finally got through to him and he was so embarrassed that he brought Zack and extra dessert--nice! Zack thought he'd be willing to be mistaken for a girl more often if it always came with dessert.

Kate and Zack got to sit in the driver's seat at the Sci Fi.

Up front, is a large screen that plays clips from old Sci Fi flicks. It was like being part of MST3K and we all made fun of the films as they came on. I don't know if the people behind us (there was one more row in our car), enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed ourselves. Oh well.

Zack wanted to see the Pizza Planet restaurant which was freezing, so I stayed outside to wait. They enjoyed it, but I thought it was a lost opportunity and that Disney could have made it a lot more like the one in Toy Story. It looked thrown together and I'm glad we didn't go there for lunch.

We were ready to call it a night, but I didn't miss getting a picture of us in front of the sorcerer's hat on the way out. I'll add it once I get the photopass disk.

Next--The Happiest Place on Earth


Friday, September 24, 2010

Dis pt 3

I had a very detailed schedule but was going to try to be mellow about it--not easy for this control-freak uber-planner, plus Disney heightens all of that for me. To make this a bit easier, I set aside the first and last days of the trip as "beach days" although I did have a nagging feeling that one of them should come in the middle instead. More about that when we get to Animal Kingdom...

So, 9/5--Beach Day

I didn't even make lunch plans since we were so close to Epcot, I figured we breeze over and eat there.

We were up pretty early and had breakfast in the room. I called to the front desk to see when Stormalong Bay opened up and was told 7am. Great! We dressed in bathing suits and headed down around 8:30am. CLOSED! It is the quiet pool that opens at 7am. SAB opens at 10am.


We settled the kids into the pool, gave them a serious talking to about why it is called the quiet pool and Pete and I went for a walk around the lake to see the Boardwalk.

We got back around 9:30am and took a dip then walked over to the big pool. That's when we learned that we were not allowed to use the float rings we brought with us (and had gone dizzy blowing up the day before). They were frosted on the bottom and, despite the email I got from Disney, were not allowed. Apparently they need to be clear all through. So, $20 later we had two humongous inner tubes rented for the day.

We headed over to Epcot around 11:30am to see about lunch. I envisioned this as a brief visit just to eat. So much for my plan :-)

Just at the International Entrance there was a sign for the Kim Possible missions and I figured we should grab a pass for it in case we wanted to do one, then we wouldn't have to worry about when to fit it in another day.

We went over to the world showcase to figure out what to eat. It wasn't very long before I started to feel the heat pound on my head but I thought I'd snap out of it.

Still, I couldn't resist stopping when Brer Fox and Brer Bear (in Epcot, really?) showed up with no lines! Our first character meet and greets of the trip!

Pete liked the menu at Morocco, but the kids and I were less thrilled. We shopped around a bit while Pete ordered his food and then we sat down to figure out what to do next. Italy seemed like a good idea but as we roamed in that direction I saw on the map that there is no walk up restaurant there. Then I saw Turkey legs and suggested that. The kids were game and we ordered three at the whopping price of $7 each. Then we got them--what kind of turkeys were these?! Each leg was about as big as Katie's. Two would have been more than enough, but we were stuck with them and dug in.

Zack reluctantly posing in a Fez

and Katie being a total goofball in a beaded headdress

Since we had walking food we tried Kim Possible. Some technical glitches later we were on our first mission. The heat was now killing me and I now knew why I spent so much on a sun hat--which I had left in the room. Lesson learned--I had it with me for the rest of the trip. Lesson not learned (again, more about that at Animal Kingdom) don't be in a park from noon-3pm.

The mission was fun. Zack and I did a second one but Pete and Katie shopped around instead. Smart--shops are air conditioned. Pete had bought chocolate in Germany which was very melty by the time we got to share it. Yummy though. We all met up in Japan and enjoyed that shop quite a bit.

I was melting and requested we head back to the hotel but Pete was longing for a trip to Norway to check out bags he'd seen on our last trip and I couldn't pass up Maelstrom in Norway as the wait was a mere 5 minutes! The Boat ride was as campy as ever and I loved it. We wandered the shop, but were getting tired and moved slowly. I also realized that extra time would need to be allotted to Katie for trading pins throughout the rest of the trip.

Zack as a Viking

and apparently you can pick a troll's nose.

We headed back, stopping for a show in Paris, which I swore we took pictures of, but can't now find. Then, as we dragged ourselves toward the exit,...there....was.....Mary Poppins!!!!!! Katie and I were ecstatic to see her but even more so when she stopped for a photo opps right next to us!

A jolly holiday with Mary.

I hit the pool's lazy river for a while, Zack did the slide and swam around and Katie and Pete napped in the room.

Hollywood Studio had Fantasmic that night and I figured it was a good time to catch it. We ran a bit late, but our seats were fine. We had brought lots of extra glow sticks so had our own glow and were also able to give them out to the children sitting around us. Rain drizzled a bit, but then was lost in the mist from the show and gone by the end.

The show was great and would have been a nice end to the day, but I just couldn't resist the thought that the Magic Kingdom had extra magic hours. We jumped on a bus to the Contemporary, then onto the monorail and over to the MK. We saw some of the fireworks from the train.

I was stunned at the crowd for extra hours. We spent a very long time getting dinner at Cosmic Rays and were disappointed that the waits at Space Mountain and Buzz were upwards of an hour at 11pm! The kids hit Stitch, which Pete and I took a pass on--nice K&Z are old enough to do things on their own. Then the kids hit the teacups and we were done in for the night.

Next, we're goin' Hollywood.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Disney pt 2

Zack and I woke up first and quietly got dressed, but soon enough our friends were all up and Robyn made us chocolate chip pancakes--I love these accommodations, we'll have to return :-D.

Got on the road later than I planned, but still with plenty of time to get to Orlando, stop at Whole Foods and get to the hotel to meet Pete. He was flying in and would take Disney tranport to the hotel.

Whole Foods was great. We picked up some lunch for the day and then snacks and breakfast items for the rest of the trip. We would be eating breakfast in the room before heading out for the day and I got supplies for trail mix to snack on at the parks and other snacks. That way, we can still get special treats at the parks but can plan them instead of grabbing something over priced and sugary just because we're starving before dinner.

Excitement started to build when we passed through the arch that signals the entry to Disney property. We soon saw signs for our hotel-the Beach Club. We drove up the drive, handed our bags over to the bell staff and went to park the car--bonus-a parking space in the first row of self park. Just the first of our "pixie dust" moments.

I left the kids on a bench out front to finish their lunches and went to check in. At 11am, I didn't expect they would have a room ready for us, but Antonio upgraded us to a water view, while still getting us the day bed we needed and we were ready to go. I stopped at the bell desk to give them our room number, texted Pete with the same and collected the kids to go check out our room.

Here's the view that greeted us:

Despite the free upgrade there was one price to pay for this view--we were a good 10 minute walk from the lobby! No biggie, we were at the very end of the building, which means just down the stairs at the end of our hall was the path to EPCOT, a 5 minute walk. Nice!

A knock at the door was Pete! He beat the luggage, but it soon came and the food with it.

I had picked up some Sushi for Pete to eat for lunch and while he ate, I started to put things away, especially the perishables. I love my Trader Joe's insulated bag, but didn't have an ice pack for it. The fridge was good sized and I was able to fit milk, yogurts, fruit, etc in with no problems.

At 1:10pm we were scheduled for a DVC pickup to look at the properties. We went over to Saratoga Springs to meet with the sales guy, Jason. Although a bit old for it, the kids voted to hang in the kid club rather than take the tour and they definitely made the right decision. The pitch went on far longer than I expected (esp since I had already done a phone pitch with him months before--but not Pete). The DVC rooms are to die for, but our feeling is that if you don't plan to be at Disney every 2 years, it isn't worth buying in. By the end of the week, it was clear to me, that Pete would not enjoy a week at Disney, possibly ever again let alone every 2-3 years! Still the icecream sundaes at the end were very nice and we skipped the hottest time of day in the FL weather.

Off to Animal Kingdom to dine at Boma. We loved Boma the last time and were not disappointed on this visit. I submitted our food allergies through Disney dining and the chef came right out to walk us through the buffet. We did have some time before our reservation and took the opportunity to explore the hotel a bit, which we hadn't had much time to do last visit.

We could get really close to the animals at the hotel's Savannah lookout.

But the air conditioning was welcome, we were not quite used to the heat/humidity yet.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to finish unpacking and head over to Stormalong Bay, the sand-bottomed pool. Kate and Zack hit the slide and loved it. I think this was the day that Pete and I went up to the room first and let the kids stay on their own at the pool. We quizzed them on the room number but somehow they ended up in the adjacent Yacht Club lobby and after looking around for our room number there, they finally asked for help at the front desk. They placed a call to our room and also sent someone over to deliver them to the Beach Club lobby for me to pick up. They were a bit shaken up, but all was well and we laughed about it back in the room.

Off to bed before 10pm in preparation for the next day.

Next--oh that's why I bought that hat...


Monday, September 20, 2010

Disney Trip part one

I started planning this trip just under a year ago. Knew Sept would be tough, and thought "why not go to the happiest place on earth?" The planning also kept me from having idle hands and that's always a good thing.

The trip actually started at mom's in NC. Pete was going to fly in and meet us in FL, saving him vacation days. The kids and I were driving down, saving us money. So, I figured, why not see mom and also split up the driving a bit?

We also had a very generous invitation to spend the night with friends in Jacksonville (thanks Robyn!) and it was great to see them and again, not have a big day of driving before getting to Orlando.

Stayed with mom from 8/29-9/3. Hit the beach, relaxed and helped with a few chores. Also picked up a few last-minute items like a hat for Katie and goggles for the pool--thanks Grandma! Hard to believe that these are the last beach days of the season. We went twice. the first day, the kids could only go in knee deep due to rip tide warnings. The next day was the only day without rip tides, a little respite between off-shore hurricanes, so we hit the beach for some real swim time while we could (well, when I say we I really mean Katie and Zack).

Whose thumb is that?

Rain the last day or at least a hurricane too closeby to bother with the beach. We rented some movies and hung out.

Off to Jacksonville! Great to reconnect with friends who moved there a couple of years ago. Katie and their daughter were becoming good friends and have missed each other. I hope we get to see more of them now. Sadly, no pictures!

Next, daddy and Disney!


Year 1

Last weekend was the anniversary of my father's death. It was a hard year, but I realized on Saturday just how fast the year had actually gone by.

Remember those long days of summer? Not this year hot as it was. Is summer only long for kids?

In any case, I spent a lot of time thinking about the past year last weekend. No big answers, but memories of lots of little moments of good throughout the year. Family was especially a focus and it was good to remember how important it is to keep that up front. Friends were appreciated and some reached out in unexpected and very nice ways.

Some things were put on hold, my career for example (although the economy also gets some credit for that). Decisions about moves, Pete's work and other changes were left for a while. Time rushed by just fine, decisions could wait.

All in all, a hard, fast, and not all bad year. And that's ok too, good times are nothing to feel guilty about--had to learn that in the first few months.

I miss you dad. Things are different but I'm trying to pull all the good I can out of life and have a few laughs along the way. Just like you taught me.

More to come.