The Solars take on Disney World – Day 4

Posted by in Disney World

We woke up Tuesday morning to pouring rain. Like, really, pouring rain. I don’t remember who it was that told me to bring ponchos. It was someone. And I totally replied, “Oh, I’m not scared of a little rain! We’ll be fine without ponchos.” Whoever it was, man, I’m saying it loud and clear, “YOU WERE RIGHT!” We pretty much got drenched on our way to breakfast from our hotel. My one lonely little umbrella didn’t do much to hold off the buckets of water falling from the sky. (P.S. Apparently it was my friend Selena. And she was right. I’ll listen next time Selena, I promise!).

We ate our breakfast and I checked the Weather Channel app on my iPhone (sidenote: I hate that app! Can ANYONE recommend a better, more accurate app?). So, anyway, my app pretty much forecasted rain like that all day. We waffled between heading back to our room for pajamas and cartoons or heading to the park. We opted for the park, but stopped in the general store to pick up ($7.50 each!!) ponchos for the kids first. I am not lying when I tell you that it stopped raining while we were walking the 300 feet from the front door to the bus stop. Suddenly the clouds parted and it was sunny skies. And super muggy (ah, reminds me of KC in the July).

It was almost 11 am by the time we got to Hollywood Studios, but we did get there. As soon as we got through the front gates, Josh headed to get FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania (good thing too because our FastPasses were for 6:20 pm!) and I headed with the kids back to the Star Tours area for Jedi Training Academy (side note: Star Tours was closed for updating. Boo!). When I first started planning this trip, I knew this was the one thing that we wanted to make sure we did not miss. I called the Disney hotline and talked with someone about it. She told me that all we needed to do was show up shortly before any showtime and get in the ‘right’ line.

Imagine how disappointed/sad/angry/frustrated I was when we got to Jedi Training at 11:20 am and they told me it was filled up FOR THE ENTIRE DAY. We decided to watch the Jedi Training even though the kids couldn’t participate today. It was awesome. Like, the ONE thing I wanted to be able to do for my kids (you know, so I could be ‘the BEST mom ever’). So, we were planning on doing Magic Kingdom again on Thursday, but it looks like we’ll be using our last day to do Jedi Training and one more ride on Toy Story Mania.

By the time the Jedi Training wrapped up (and we looked at the Star Wars gift shop/cart), it was time for our lunch reservation at Hollywood & Vine. We headed over there for lunch and pictures with Handy Manny, Leo + June from Little Einsteins, and Special Agent Oso. I think the kids wanted to maintain my sanity this time around and they actually all ate a decent meal.

After lunch, we hit up Muppet Vision 3D. All the kids enjoyed the show (and Lia didn’t get scared… yay!). Next, we went to meet Lightning McQueen and Mater. Max was being grumpy by the time we got over there and opted out of a picture, even though he was the one who wanted to do it in the first place.

Next, we went to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure. Let me tell you, I thought the Boneyard at Animal Kingdom was crazy and chaotic, but this was WAY worse. There was one area where there were 3 or 4 ways to get up, with dark, low-ceiling caves to climb around in, and 4 or 5 ways out, which were not all within view of a single area. At one point, Lia went in, but Max wasn’t following closely enough behind her and she was gone. If you know me, you might think that I freaked out at this point, but I didn’t. It did take us several minutes to locate her, but she had no idea that we thought she was lost. Whew! After that drama, we hightailed it out of there, much to Max and Ava’s dismay.

We decided that I would take the girls to watch the Beauty and the Beast Live play while Josh took Max to the Rock n Roller Coaster. Turns out Max is 4 inches too short. He didn’t want anything to do with the princess play, so he and Josh ended up at the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Both shows were awesome and everybody was happy. Win-win!

From there, we headed straight to Voyage of The Little Mermaid. This was another live play, and while it was great, it wasn’t nearly as good as Beauty and the Beast. About 2/3 of the way through the show, they showed clips from The Little Mermaid movie to fill in what they left out of the live part, except that they squeezed an hour of the movie into about a minute of clips and then cut to the live part at the very end of the story. Either way, it was entertaining, and all the kids liked it.

After the Little Mermaid, we headed to Pixar Place and got in line to meet Buzz Lightyear and Woody. After we were in line for almost 20 minutes, the kids decided they didn’t want to meet Woody and Buzz after all. So we wandered around The Streets of America and took some fun pictures while we waited for our FastPasses to open up. As soon as 6:20 pm rolled around, we made a beeline for the Toy Story Midway Mania. Before we rode this, I wasn’t sure if the ride was SO packed because it’s the only ride in the whole park or if it was because the ride was that awesome. It’s definitely because the ride is SO awesome. This was probably my favorite ride of everything we’ve done so far, with Buzz’s Space Ranger Spin coming in at a close second. (Keep in mind we have only done kid-friendly rides. I’m sure the big roller coasters are awesome too!).

After the Toy Story ride, we headed straight for the resort buses and back to our hotel. We grabbed a quick dinner, then headed straight for bed.

Things I learned today:

1. Ponchos cost 99 cents at Wal-Mart if you buy them BEFORE you go to Orlando. They cost $7.50 at Disney World.
2. If something is super important to making your trip a success (i.e. Jedi Training), you should get instructions from multiple people just to make sure you’re getting accurate instructions.
3. You should verify that your kids want to meet a character BEFORE you get in line and wait for twenty minutes to meet said character.
4. Kids DO NOT CARE if that toy costs half as much at Target at home. They want it NOW.
5. Kids also don’t care what they got yesterday. That was yesterday. It doesn’t count any more.
6. Lia simply will not wear her shoes. And I don’t care any more. Unless they make her put her shoes on for a ride, I just let her go barefoot. I can’t win anyway.
7. There must be something in the air here that makes kids want to antagonize their siblings until someone (or everyone) is screaming and crying.

Kids in ponchos at Disney World.Sisters tickling each other.Family with Special Agent Oso at Hollywood and Vine.Kids posing with Leo from Little Einsteins.Kids posing with Handy Manny at Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.Little girl hugging Handy Manny.Sisters standing with Lightning McQueen and Mater at Disney's Hollywood Studios.Kids in front of a garage door at Hollywood Studios.Girl playing at Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground.Toddler girl playing in the water.Max sliding at Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground.Sisters in front of the Beauty and the Beast stage.Beauty and the Beast live on stage at Disney's Hollywood Studios.Disney's Belle live show.Girl putting her hands in cement hands.Kids posing with army man from Toy Story.Kids in front of fake San Francisco backdrop.Girl hanging on umbrella singing in the rain.Kids in front of New York City backdrop.Sisters swinging on police barrier at Hollywood Studios.Boy looking cute.Siblings in front of fake subway entrance.Kids sitting by subway entrance at Disney's Hollywood Studios.Girl wearing 3D glasses at Toy Story Midway Mania ride at Hollywood Studios.


The Solars take on Disney World – Day 3

Posted by in Disney World

Since we didn’t have early reservations on Monday morning (yay!), we slept in a little bit. Once we got up and around, we headed to the Riverside Mill Food Court for some breakfast. I brought along oatmeal and made it for the kids using the hot water at the drink station. I’m SO glad I didn’t waste any of our dining plan meals on the kids this morning, since they ate about 7 bites of oatmeal combined.

After breakfast, we headed to Magic Kingdom. It was pretty packed at the front gate, but the crowds dispersed quickly. We made a beeline for Tomorrowland and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I’ve heard this is one of the best rides in all of Disney World. So we grabbed FastPasses and jumped in line since it was only a 10 minute wait. Let me tell you, this ride did not disappoint! Max and Ava loved it! Lia freaked out right before we got on and she was pretty scared for about half the ride. After that, she settled down and decided that it wasn’t so bad.

Next we hit up Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor. Lia started screaming before we ever got inside the theater. I had to take her out before the show started. Luckily, the exit is right behind some curtains and I talked her into hanging out right there. Every now and then, she would peek inside. About halfway through the show, she finally got up enough courage to go back in and watch the rest. This show was hilarious! Max and Ava were cracking up the whole time.

After Monster’s Inc, Josh took Max and Ava on Buzz Lightyear again while Lia and I got in line for the Astro Orbiter. This was a fun ride, but a long wait. And to be honest, it’s pretty much the same ride as the Triceratops Spin at Animal Kingdom, and Dumbo and The Magic Carpets of Alladin at Magic Kingdom. The only difference is the view. Since the Astro Orbiter is super high up (as in, you have to take an elevator to get up there), it’s got a great view of Tomorrowland.

After the Astro Orbiter, we headed to Fantasyland, where we picked up FastPasses for Peter Pan’s Flight. Then we headed to Mickey’s Philharmagic. Max and Ava loved this show and once again, Lia freaked out a bit. She’s just so sensitive, she doesn’t like loud noises and bright lights. She did okay and we managed to make it through the whole show. After that, we hit up the Prince Charming Regal Carousel and Mad Tea Party (who wouldn’t want to spin around in circles getting super dizzy?!).

And then, we headed to It’s A Small World. I’m still humming the tune, by the way. By this time, I was super tired. I sat with Lia and while she watched in amazement, I totally nodded off. By this point, everyone was getting hungry, so we found a shady spot and I made PBJ’s for the kids.

After a quick lunch, we headed back to Peter Pan’s Flight. My kids have been obsessed with Peter Pan for several years (remember their halloween costumes in 2009?), so they loved this ride! Next, we walked through Cinderella’s Castle. The girls were excited, and believe it or not, Max was pretty thrilled too. He may not want to admit it, but he totally wants to be a knight in shining armor someday!

We had an early dinner reservation at the Crystal Palace, so we headed there next. The kids were happy to meet Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. I was happy for the buffet. I’ve heard that a lot of the character meals have horrible food, so I was happy to find a few things on the buffet that were great! The meatballs were amazing, the shrimp was good, and the rolls were great (and hot!). Unfortunately, my picky eater (aka Max), pretty much refused to eat anything. He had an excuse for why he didn’t like every thing that he tried. I don’t know what I’m going to do with him!

We considered heading back to the hotel after dinner, but decided to hit up The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh since we had FastPasses already. The kids really enjoyed that ride too, but I can’t believe people normally wait in line for almost an hour to ride it! Our next stop was back to Cinderella’s castle for the Dream Along with Mickey show with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, the princesses, Peter Pan and Captain Hook, and Maleficent. The kids loved it!

Next, we headed to Adventureland and grabbed FastPasses to the Jungle Cruise, which we didn’t end up using. We rode the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, then ventured through the Swiss Family Treehouse. At this point, we still had time to kill before the SpectroMagic parade (and the kids really wanted to buy Buzz Lightyear guns). So we headed back to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Lia decided she wasn’t scared any more, so we all headed on and rode it one last time. Since the ride dumps out right into the gift shop (nice touch by the way, Disney, thank you for that), we picked up the guns.

Our next stop was Main Street for SpectroMagic. Since we didn’t stake out our seats an hour ahead of time, we had to put the kids on our shoulders so they could see. Either way, they thoroughly enjoyed it. We hung out right afterward and got good seats for the fireworks display called the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. Before that started, they had some projection show on the castle that was really cool. I missed the fireworks display because Lia peed her pants right before it started and I had to find a bathroom and get her taken care of. But Max and Ava were thrilled by the fireworks. (P.S. Good thing Lia and I missed the fireworks, because she was super scared!)

Immediately after the fireworks display, like 3/4 of the people at the park, we decided it was time to go. We fought our way to the front gate (Lia fell asleep within minutes of getting back in the stroller) and hopped on the bus back to our hotel. The kids passed out pretty quickly since they were exhausted.

Things I learned:
1. Bathrooms are not super easy to find at Magic Kingdom, especially when you’re in a hurry.
2. It’s like the kids have a conspiracy against us about going to the bathroom. We literally made 11 trips to the bathroom during our dinner (which was less than 1 1/2 hours).
3. FastPasses are awesome.
4. The kids protested about going to the shows, but I think they enjoyed them even more than the rides.
5. If you get apple pie as a dessert WITH a meal, you can get it a la mode. BUT, if you get is as a SNACK, then you can not get it a la mode (unless you want to use two snacks). That would have been helpful to know ahead of time.
6. If you do the dining plan, they do not distinguish between adult meals and kids meals for quick service meals. That means the kids can get an adult meal and share.

Kids posing with Zurg at Disney World Magic Kingdom.Two girls on the Astro Orbiter.Boy riding the Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Magic Kingdom.Toddler girl riding the Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Magic Kingdom.Girl riding a horse on the carousel.Toddler girl putting on face stick sunscreen.Father and kids spinning on the tea cup ride.Mad Hatters Tea cups at Magic Kingdom in Orlando Florida.Daddy spinning the kids on the Mad Hatter tea cups at Disney World.Mom snuggling daughter on It's A Small World ride.Cinderella's castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom.Boy tipping his sister in the stroller.Kids posing with Tigger at the Crystal Palace at Disney's Magic Kingdom.Kids with Piglet at Disney World.Girl with Piglet at Magic Kingdom.Kids posing with Eeyore.Kids posing with Winnie the Pooh at Crystal Palace.Cute girl cheesing it up outside Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.Dream Along with Mickey show in front of Cinderella's Castle.Kids and daddy watching the Disney World Dreams Come True show.Father and daughter at Disney Safety WristbandFather and daughters riding Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride at Disney World.Boy laughing on Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride.Mother and daughters playing in the water.Girl playing in the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.Girl playing at Magic Kingdom.Boy shooting Buzz Lightyear gun.Girl shooting strangers with a Buzz Lightyear gun.Shooting star over Cinderella's castle at Magic Kingdom.Wishes fireworks show over Cinderella's Castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando Florida.Boy watching fireworks over Cinderella's Castle.Kids watching Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show at Disney World.Crazy fireworks over Cinderella's castle.Tired sisters at Disney World.


The Solars take on Disney World – Day 2

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So, no one warned me not to make early breakfast reservations. And of course, I accidentally made all of our dining reservations for the wrong week (how does that even happen?!). So about 6 weeks ago when I somehow noticed, I had to take what I could get. I figured an 8:30 am reservation at Chef Mickey’s was no big deal. Well, turns out you need to allow at least an hour to get there from Riverside because there’s no resort-to-resort transportation.

Well, at 7:15 am, all three of my kids were still sleeping. So Josh and I had the ‘do we wake them up?’ debate. This was our only chance at getting into Chef Mickey’s for breakfast, so we opted for waking them up. We rushed and ran to the bus stop. We got there just in time to catch the 7:40 bus. BUT, it turns out that Disney’s Princess Half Marathon was today. SO, our bus ride took a lot longer. Then we got dropped off at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) instead of Magic Kingdom. Everybody and their brother was headed to Epcot, so it was a madhouse at TTC.

We finally found the monorail to the hotels and eventually made it to Chef Mickey’s about 20 minutes late. We opted out of the family picture opportunity… SO glad we did! I saw them later going around to tables trying to sell people the photos. I overheard “only $29.95 for the whole package”. My kids would have been super bummed when I turned down the opportunity to buy such an amazing family portrait, but I have better plans for my $29.95. So fifteen minutes later, we finally got seated at our table.

Chef Mickey’s was fun and the food wasn’t bad. It wasn’t amazing, but it was good enough, especially since we were starving by this point. The kids were enamored of the Mickey shaped waffles. And the fresh fruit was great too! We ended up leaving with 2 apples, a banana, an extra apple juice box, and a few jelly packets (for pb&j’s of course!). The food was okay, but the real reason we went to Chef Mickey’s was of course for the company. The kids got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. And they loved it! So, it was worth it. (And of course, we ate free because of our dining plan). P.S. This breakfast buffet WOULD have cost us $96 plus tip if we weren’t on the dining plan (yikes!).

We finally rolled out of Chef Mickey’s around 10:30 am and hopped on the shuttle to Animal Kingdom. I have been researching Disney World for quite a while and had heard great things about the Kilimanjaro Safaris. So we booked it all the way across the park to grab FastPasses. Since the wait was over 40 minutes, we decided that was our best bet. While we were waiting, we wandered through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. This must be a good time of year to see the animals (even though it was in the high 80’s today!) because we saws a lot of animals. The highlight of course was the gorillas. They were fairly lazy, but they were at least around and that thrilled the kids.

Once our FastPass time for the Safaris rolled around, we hurried over there. We breezed through the line in less than 15 minutes. I looked back and saw TONS of people behind us. They probably waited well over an hour. I’m not sure why you would wait in a line that long when FastPasses were available, but whatever. Let me tell you, the Kilimanjaro Safari did not disappoint! I’m pretty sure we saw EVERY animal they had. (I actually just went and looked at the website. We did not see cheetahs, but that’s it). The kids thought the whole thing was just awesome!

After the Safari, we grabbed some lunch. We ended up with pizza again (this time from Pizzafari), mostly because it was the closest thing to us. The kids opted for macaroni and cheese, though they didn’t eat much. After lunch, we headed directly to the Festival of the Lion King. I had heard great things about this show and IT WAS AWESOME! The kids really enjoyed it. I think if they had ever actually seen The Lion King movie, they might have really loved it! Of course, I grew up with The Lion King, so I was thrilled! All the music was of course from the movie and they had a giant animatronic Simba and Pumbaa. Timon was a live person and then there were other performers. It was very entertaining!

Next we headed to Discovery Island and the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is amazing! It’s pretty much a giant tree with tons of animals carved into it. We decided to hit up the ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug‘ show while we were there. I read that it was a little scary, but failed to heed that warning. Lia flipped out about half way through and I had to go running out of the theater with her screaming. Take that as a warning! It’s not ideal for sensitive little ones!

From there, we headed to DinoLand. They were prepping for Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade, so we decided to hang out and watch it. The kids thought it was great, but I was totally regretting our choice of location, directly in the hot sun. Our next stop was Finding Nemo: The Musical. Lia wasn’t having it, as she was still scared from the Bug show. I had to take her out of the theater. She finally decided she did want to go in and watch, but we had bad timing and came in right at the part where Marlin is being chased by the fish-friendly shark. So, out we went again!

While Josh watched the Nemo show with Max and Ava (which they loved, by the way!), I took Lia to ride the Triceratop Spin. She loved it so much, we rode it three times while we waited for everyone else. Once we met back up, we all rode Triceratop Spin together.

Then we headed to The Boneyard. I was certain that I had read that there was a bone-digging area here, but we could not find it right away. We did find it about 10 minutes before the park closed, so the kids go to play there for a little bit. The Boneyard is definitely not a good place to go if you’re playing zone defense with your kids. You definitely need to have man-to-man coverage AND you need to be willing to go down the slides. Otherwise, you will probably lose your kid(s).

Since the park was closing, we headed to the resort shuttles. Of course, Ava decided she had to go potty right before our shuttle go there. It was a long run back to the main gate area to find the bathroom. But, we eventually made it onto a shuttle to the hotel. Once we got back, we headed straight to the general store to buy a loaf of bread. Josh and I grabbed some dinner at the Riverside Mill Food Court again and I whipped up some PBJ’s for the kids. Max loved his, and no one else ate any. Lia ended up sharing Josh’s chicken nugget meal and Ava went vegetarian on me for the evening, eating pretty much only fruit for dinner. P.S. The make your own pasta was amazing!!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for baths, bed jumping, and finally, sleep. Oh, and Lia is apparently asleep under the bed instead of on the trundle. Nice!

Things I learned today:

1. 8 hours of sleep is not enough if you’re trying to catch up from 2 weeks of 4-hours-of-sleep nights.
2. iPhone apps for Disney World work better if you actually use them.
3. All macaroni and cheese is not created equal.
4. 8:30 am is way too early for breakfast reservations.
5. You should check to see when Disney’s marathon and half marathon are before booking your trip!
6. If your kid is sensitive, you should totally pay closer attention to the warnings about scary rides and shows.
7. If you make breakfast reservations, you should probably still eat something before you leave in the morning. It will take a long time to get there and then you will still have a short wait.
8. If you stake out a seat for the parade, you should take note of whether you are in the sun or the shade. It gets really hot in the sun!
9. Animal Kingdom is a really cool park, but there aren’t really very many rides. It’s more of a zoo with shows. You should make sure your kids know that ahead of time!

Family posing with Minnie Mouse at Chef Mickey's in Orlando, Florida.Mom and kids posing with Mickey Mouse at Disney World.Family with Donald Duck at Disney World.Donald Duck hugging a little girl.Tired girl at Disney World.Father and son playing at Chef Mickey's.Funny faces.Sisters playing.Funny face through a Mickey Mouse chair.Family posing with Pluto.Pluto playing peek a boo with a girl.Pluto playing peek a boo with a girl.Cool Chef Mickey's picture.Kids looking at fish at Disney's Animal Kingdom.Fun times at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.Girl playing with a leaf.Cool tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom.Planning the next Disney move.Cute picture of a four year old girl.Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.Girl tickling her older brother.Mom tickling son.Sweet tree of life.Animal Kingdom parade at Disney World Orlando.Finding Nemo show in Orlando, Florida.Digging for dino bones at Disney's Animal Kingdom.Playing in the sand at Animal Kingdom in Orlando.Girl playing in sand at Disney's Animal Kingdom.One shoe on, one shoe off.Girl pretending to be a dino.Mom tickling daughter.Mom tickling son.