We got up and went out for a nice, filling breakfast before heading off for our 11:30am family photo shoot at the Grand Floridian. This was something I have been eagerly anticipating for months. It's not often that we do family photos and it's usually in some stuffy studio in a nearby Sears store. But this photo shoot was different ... a photographer, beautiful hotel ground to shot on and ideas galore that I had collected from seeing other photo shoots from the same place.
We arrived on time and waited just a few moments before meeting our photopass photographer. I want to think that her name was Sara, but I can't be positive on that. Prepared person that I am, I speak to her right away and let her know exactly what I'm looking for: photos out-of-doors, especially on the beach, some of DH and I, some of just the kids, some of our family of 5, some of the family of 7 and everything in between. I am notified right away that beach pictures are a horrible idea. The sun is already up and it's a clear day, meaning that it's absolutely glaring on their pristine white sand beach. DOH! Why didn't I think of that? In all my planning I couldn't think about the sun reflecting off the sand. So much for that adorable hammock pose I wanted. Sara did say she would try but wasn't very positive about the results.
We walked outside and did photos in a somewhat secluded area out of direct sunlight. Right away things weren't going great. Chase, my little fair-skinned, freckle-faced boy is having a very hard time with the sunlight. It's bugging his eyes and he decides to just close them for the photos. Oh man! Sara catches it and tries to get him to open them ... no go. I take said 11-year-old aside and politely explain that he must do his best to keep his eyes open or Mom is going to be very unhappy. She sets us back up and gets some shots before moving on to another area. More pictures, more eye issues, new spot for more pictures. On and on this goes for about 1/2 hour. The family were absolute troopers through it all though, not wanting to mess with my photograph-addictive personality. They really did great.
Last stop is the beach and, as promised, the sun is reflecting brightly off the sand. Sara takes several shots and does as best as she can before calling this a wrap. We're left to relax for a few moments at the beach.
before we head on to the rest of our day. I did check out our photos this evening and caught a lot of what I expected - horrible faces and squinty eyes and a plethora of pictures where Chase looks like he's catching flies (eyes half open and mouth wide open ... his way of trying to open his eyes). Yes mixed in there are some awesome family photos.
Epcot was our destination for today and, much like yesterday, we were prepared with a plan of action. We stopped for a few Photopass photos on our way in and Carissa FINALLY got to pose with Tinkerbell (though I have no idea what she was doing at Epcot! LOL).We sent Dad in for some fastpasses for Test Track and then made our way over to watch "Honey I Shrunk The Audience." The kids actually liked this a lot and I didn't think it was too bad either.
Chase was thrilled to find the "upside-down waterfall" listed on the scavenger hunt of his "Mickey's Personal Assistant" that he had purchased at Disneyland.
I was very disappointed that the nearby Figment ride wasn't open, as I haven't gone on it since my teenage visits in the late 80's and early 90's.
After that we were ready for a snack, since it had been a while since our late breakfast. On our way to "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" I had spied just the thing the guys had been looking for - hard scooped ice cream in waffle cones. Seriously, the guys have been looking for this all week. Either they would find a place that had hard scooped ice cream and no waffle cones, or they'd find waffle cones with only soft serve. This was our 6th day and they finally got their ice cream!
We sat and ate together, enjoying the down time and the coolness of the ice cream, as the day was already growing fairly warm.
After eating the kids wanted to head over to Innoventions to play for a while. Mom and Dad offered to take them so we made plans to meet up and Brian and I headed out alone for the first time this trip. We didn't really have anything to do so we meandered into the World Showcase. We milled around for a while, stopping to browse the shops.
We ran into a Photopass photographer in Mexico. I don't know what it is about these people, but somehow they convinced us to do this:OK, seriously ... we look like idiot tourists! We did get him to take this shot, a much better representation of us. All too quickly our hour of freedom was over and we met the parents and the kids at Test Track to use our Fastpasses. Mr. Squinty Eyes was at it again ...
After Test Track we were ready to hit the World Showcase. We started over in Canada and slowly made our way around. The kids caused a bottleneck when Chase, who was totting the kids camera today, decided to stop and take pictures at this very busy photo spot in Canada. He was too cute though, taking two pictures of it just like Mom always does! Yet somehow he managed to cut his sisters head out of both pictures! LOL
We kept meandering around the World Showcase but weren't really finding any excitement. The kids were tired of shopping and I was getting quite tired of it myself. Thankfully we had a plan. Carissa had lost the coveted pearl necklace she had purchaed the first day when the hanging clasp on it failed. We were determined to get her another one so headed over to Japan one more time.
Carissa could be counted on for a good pick, as she had gotten the largest pearl we saw on her first pick. She picked superbly yet again. She got this GORGEROUS silver-blue pearl.
It is absolutely stunning! She had it set in a heart pendant with a sturdier clasp than the first and she was thrilled to have a pearl necklace again.
We found another Photopass photographer in front of this beautiful fountain and just had to stop for another photo.
By now we were getting very hungry so decided to head to the one place we knew everyone would eat - Liberty Inn in the American Adventure pavillion. No, we are not adventurous eaters. Sue us. Good old burgers and fries work very well, thank you very much!
After dinner we walked the rest of the World Showcase. The kids really enjoyed buying things in China. Carissa got a beautiful pink fan. Chase got a deer marionette. And Tristan, who LOVES dragons, got both a dragon marionette and a dragon sculpture.
We headed next for Maelstrom, the ride in Norway, and were pleasantly surprised by it. It was fun. What was even more fun was watching Tristan in the Norway gift shop with this Viking helmet (complete with braids!), shield and sword fighting the mighty wooden gnome. He was sooooo adorable!Our last ride for today was Gran Fiesta with the Three Caballeros. The kids were quite entranced with this ride (it had lots of cartoons! LOL) and that made it nice and relaxing. After perusing the shops in Mexico we decided to stake our a spot for Illuminations. I thought we were very early, but by now it was starting to get busy. We did get a decent spot though and waited for about 45 minutes for the show to start.
We really loved Illuminations. It seemed a bit better choreographed than wishes, but the show wasn't better. Wishes is magical. This is beautiful and interesting and neat in it's own way, but not better than Wishes. However it was a wonderful ending to our long day.