Hello from sunny Florida! We have arrived safe and sound here in Orlando and have weathered our first Disney day. It's been quite and adventure already.
Our day acutally started late Sunday night when we boarded a plane bound for Florida. We decided to try the red-eye this time. A straight flight, lower airfare (always important when you're paying for 5 tickets!) and we don't waste a day of our vacation flying. Perfect scenario, right? Then again, maybe not.
I've never taken a red-eye before and I was not quite prepared for all that flying at night meant. In my mind we would all board the plane, curl up in our reclining seats with our blankets and pillows and fall fast asleep, only to awaken the next morning in sunny Florida. That's not exactly what happened. Yes, we boarded the plane and curled up with our blankes and pillows to sleep. We reclined our seats ... all of 2 inches back! Ugh. OK, so now we just have to sleep sitting up. No problem, right? Well, it actually is sort of a problem. I couldn't get comfortable at all and neither could anyone from our group. Carissa actually slept most of all - about 3 hours total. The rest of us got about 1 - 1 1/2 hours total, on and off all flight. It was pretty miserable. The good news is that we had an awesome tail wind and arrived at Orlando 40 minutes early. Then again, the baggage was 1/2 an hour late getting to the baggage claim so we didn't really save any time. However once we got all that in order we headed to our hotel.
Huge props to my Mom on this one. She really set us up. This place is GORGEOUS. I would never be able to stay here on my own so Mom's gift of this week at her timeshare was such a blessing. The room is huge - 2 bedrooms, full kitchen, hot tub, outside patio, etc. They were even able to check us in early - at 7 in the morning! They rock. So we came to our room, unloaded our stuff, took a few minutes to poke around and then headed our way to Disneyworld!!!
We knew today was going to be a short day at Disney because we would all be tired from our flight. I think we underestimated exactly HOW tired we would be, because we were all just dragging. This meant a bit of petty bickering on the part of all parties. But we got through it all and enjoyed our time at Epcot.
As soon as we arrived we stopped for a bit to eat. We were starving and, not knowing the area, didn't find anything to eat on the way. So a quick trip to the bakery (*drool* chocolate croissant!!!) and we were good to go on our first Disney day.
First we headed to see Soarin', one of our favorite rides from California Adventure. It was great, as always, so we grabbed Fastpasses so we could see it again later.
Next we went to The Land ride. This is one that I remember vividly from my childhood, especially the John Denver "Listen to the Land" song that went along with the ride. The song is now long gone but the cool agricultural stuff remains. My faves were the Mickey head melons and pumpkins. How I would LOVE to have one of these to carve for Halloween!!!
After The Land it was time to use our fastpasses for Soarin' and this time we requested to be seated in the front row. We had to wait an extra 5 minutes or so, but it was SOOOOO worth it to be seated up front. A clear view of the screen and no feet hanging down into your idyllic view. It was absolutely awesome to sit up front. Having done it once, I can't imagine ever being in the back rows again!
We headed to the Living Seas next for a ride on Nemo. It was a new ride for us and we thought it was all pretty cute.
Next was Turtle Talk with Crush. This is an interactive show with Crush, the totally tubular turtle dude from Finding Nemo. He was so cute and funny! Chase, or as Crush called him "the dude with the black striped shell on his head" (his hat) got called on to ask Crush a question. He chose to ask how old sea turtles get. I thought that it was ironic that he chose to ask the question that was actually in the Finding Nemo movie, but whatever. Cute anyways.
We decided to ride Spaceship Earth next. That's the big huge golf ball looking thing in Epcot. It's recently undergone a renovation and I must say that I love the changes. Much better than the old outdated version I remember from previous trips.
By now we were all famished again. Somehow having pasteries for breakfast doesn't really fill you up. We had some not-great counterservice food at the Electric Umbrella (eewww ... they even served us outdated and dried up carrots for the kids!) but it was filling and we were too hungry to complain too much, though I did complain about those carrots.
After lunch we headed over to Innoventions West to take advantage of one of the benefits of having a Disney Rewards Credit Card - a free, private character greeting daily at Epcot. We got in line and waited. And waited. And waited. We didn't realize it was quite so "private" until we got closer to the front and saw that they let only one family in at a time. After waiting a ridiculous 30 minutes we finally got our chance with the characters.
Mickey and Pluto were there to greet us. They jumped out at the kids and started interacting with them right away. I will say that, despite the wait, it was fine to have that private time with the characters. No other families staring your down and silently cursing you for taking so long with the characters. This was just us and Mickey and Pluto enjoying a little time together.
Since this was the kids first character greeting this trip they weren't so into it in the beginning. They weren't sure what to do so sort of stood there and waved at them. LOL Eventually they got into it and started playing with the characters. I have more photos on the way but right now here are a few to share from that greeting.
Next up was Test Track. This was probably my favorite ride of the day. Not because it was such an excellent ride - it's only good in my opinion - but because of Tristan's reaction. He LOVED it! We were sitting in the back seat of the car with the kids in the front seat and the whole ride we could hear Tristan screaming and laughing with glee. I couldn't help laughing myself, especially when he thought we were going to collide with an oncoming truck. This ride is worth the wait if only to hear Tristan's excited laughter. Quite awesome!!!
We really were ready to head back to the hotel by this time, as it was 2pm and were losing steam quickly. But we had told Carissa about pick-a-pearl and she was determined to get it done TODAY. We walked all the way to Japan ... quite a jaunt when you are tired and grumpy already. We planned to take a nice, leisurely boat ride across the lagoon but they weren't running at the time we were there. :( So we walked ... and walked ... and walked. I forget just how long it is to get around the lagoon. We could seen Japan so clearly from the other side, but we spent 1/2 hour each way walking to Japan for Carissa's pearl.
She and I both chose a pearl from the tank and had them opened. Mine was a beautiful little 7mm pearl. Hers was the biggest one we saw in the 45 minutes we were there - 8mm. She was, of course, thrilled with her big pearl and had it set in a nice butterfly necklace. I had mine set into a horseshoe and it looks beautiful. We both can't wait to wear them tomorrow!!! The one on the left is MIL's pearl, a 7 1/2mm set in a cage.
Of course, while we were in Japan the boys found the one and only stash of Pokemon items at WDW. They both bought one Pokemon item with some of their money. Go figure ... even at WDW I can't get away from it! LOL
By now we were just done. It was already after 4pm and we had really planned on leaving the park no later than 3pm. We made the long trek out of Epcot and back to our hotel. All 3 kids fell asleep in the car just minutes after they sat down ... quite a feat since they almost never sleep in the car.
We came back to our room and had some pizza for dinner. A few baths in the hot tub and 3 birthday presents later (her two costumes and her Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique invitation... more about this tomorrow) and the kids were ready for bed. It was only 8pm here ... 5pm Pacific time ... but they were out like lights. It's a good thing too, as we have to up at 6:15am (3:15am Pacific) to get her to the Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique tomorrow. I hope we make it on time!
I am now the sole wake being and ready to head to bed myself. Goodnight all ... see you for the fun of Carissa's birthday tomorrow.