Saturday, June 22, 2013

Disney World Part 1!! Traveling & Magic Kingdom

Warning: This is an extremely long post!  My intentions are to document all of our memories so my family can look back and enjoy but also include enough details in case one of you readers is planning a trip to Disney anytime soon.  I remember how helpful it was to read other posts about Disney online before we left!

Back around Christmas time, my mom decided that we would be taking a family vacation to Disney World.  I was stoked!!!  To prepare right before the trip, I was watching all kinds of Disney movies.  :)
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But we had to keep it a secret from our niece, Victoria.  For 2 reasons...we first wanted to surprise her and second, no 6 year old needs to wait months in anticipation of going to such a dream vacation!  It was hard enough for me to be patient.  ;)  For all she knew...we were headed to the beach!! (Which was partly true...we would get there after Disney. hehe!)  There would be 9 of us total and we got to planning as quickly as we could!  My oldest brother, Hubs and I had all been to Disney World once before in our High School days on a band trip.  None of us had stayed on Disney property.  We went back and forth for what we wanted to do for our family and we decided staying on Disney property would be best.  Well, we started calling to book for our June trip around Spring Break so we were pretty limited on our options by this point.  Disney gets booked up fast!!  Most of the rooms left would only hold 4 people, so we would have had to have 3 rooms to accomodate our group of 9 making it much more pricey!  Through a long phone call with Disney, we got our options and decided that staying in a villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge *Kidani Village* would be our best option.  It was more of a small apartment with a master bedroom (king bed and full bath), 2nd bedroom (2 queen beds and full bath) and pull out sleeper sofa (and full bath), full kitchen.  This set up worked perfectly for us!!  Through staying on Disney property, we were able to take advantage of Disney's dining plan, which we loved!  We got the option of each of us getting 1 snack, 1 quick service meal and 1 sit down meal for the 3 nights we were there.  We could use them on any day at any time...stack them or spread them out.  (Which got extremely confusing for us!...but we finally worked it out!)  We chose to use all sit down meal options for character meals.  *Well worth it!!!...We really felt like these payed for themselves in the dining plan.*  You have to reserve these ahead of time.  And again, we were a little late in the game so most of our character meal times weren't ideal (mid-afternoon and one at 9pm!!...but it worked out just fine.  And we were out of the heat at 3!!)  Another part of our plan was figuring out how we would get there!!  With 9 of us, we knew it would be much cheaper to take 2 cars and drive down there, rather than paying for 9 plane tickets.  We tried our best to pack light, but a Disney/Beach trip and being gone for a week and a few extra days at my parents house, didn't help our 'light' packing.  ;)
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My parents had been watching Tye already since we had been on a trip to Corpus recently.  While we were gone to Disney, our only option was to put Tye in a Kennel.  We unwillingly gave him a bath and loaded him up the day before we left to drop him off for his 'summer camp.'
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We were not excited about this but found the best one in our area and were actual VERY pleased with them in the end.  It is Circle Star Pet Resort in Murchison.  And I would highly recommend them to anyone in the East Texas area.  I mean look at these pictures they posted daily to Facebook of our Tye.  He was definitely having the time of his life!!!
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When we picked him up once we got back, he slept the whole way.  Probably dreaming about his new friends at his summer camp.  ;)
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We prepared for our 15 hour car drive bright and early at 3am.  *With 2 FULL cars*
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Whew!  What a time!!  Our Disney Vacation would be 3 nights/4 days at Disney and then 2 nights/3 days at Pensacola Beach on the way home.  We left Saturday morning at 3am and arrived about 30 minutes away from our Disney Resort at about 11pm.  Our 15 hour drive turned into a 19 hours drive with all the stops and breaks we had to take!
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It didn't feel too bad...especially since our car napped and watched disney movies most of the way.  ;)
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We got to Florida...Yay!!!...Not!...Florida is BIG.  You are NOT almost there.  ;)
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 But those last 2 hours were grueling!  Our car was delirious and we started belting out Lion King Tunes.  We finally arrived and unloaded all of our stuff for the night.
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We planned to surprise Victoria the next morning before we set out to the parks!  She had no idea up until this point and it had been so hard for none of us to 'spill the beans' this far.  A couple of us had some slip ups but she really had no idea.  She spotted a sign on the way that said "Disney World" and she said "Hey look!  Disney World!...We could go there!!" and Jared quickly responded..."No...I told you we could go when you turned 8".  Whew!  What a cover up!    So we woke up the next morning (Sunday) and put on our matching Disney shirts  * Cheesy I know...but we loved it!* and laid out Victoria's back pack full of Disney things.
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This trip was to celebrate her birthday so she was getting all of her birthday gifts early!  Angela brought her in and we were all there to surprise her with gifts!  Poor Victoria was still in sleepy mode...we didn't get too much of a reaction until it all started to click and she was all smiles.
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We laughed that she was most excited about her new toothpaste and toothbrush. hahaha!
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Starting to realize a little more what is really going on!...Her coin purse was filled with quarters and bright shiny new pennies for her to use in the penny souvenir machines.  On it, it said:
"In a magical place where dreams come true
We wanted to give you something magic to do
Take these quarters and pennies just for you
And watch how the magically turn into something new!"
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Thank you hugs to everyone...Starting with Uncle Clint!
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Ready to pack her bag!  Sweet girl carried around this bag holding her autograph book, coin purse for souvenir pennies and her stuffed Minnie the entire time.  And never complained!!
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I still don't think it was until we got to Magic Kingdom and she saw some of the characters that it really sunk in for her!
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Excited Face!...waiting in line in our car, to get into Animal Kingdom Lodge.
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We drove to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to unload our stuff at the front desk since check-in wasn't officially until 4.  While we waited to get all of our information at the front desk, we checked out the common area of the hotel.
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We also needed to go ahead and get our Disney Cards to start our day.  These Disney Cards were like gold.  They were how we got into each of the parks, how we used our dining plan, etc.  They were basically like credit cards with our names on them.  So we had to keep up with them!!  Anything 'extra' was charged to the room and then the difference would be paid for when we checked out.  We were also given a Birthday Button pin for Victoria at the front desk that gave her instant celebrity status.  Anyone she passed at the park instantly told her Happy Birthday!!  It was hard for her to get used to at first because her actual birthday wasn't until July.  But once she realized we were just celebrating early she was all over it!
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She also got another one later in the park.  Score!
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The rest of us got First Time Visitor passes.  :)  *It helped us to not look so silly when we didn't know what or where we were going.  hahaha!  We used the bus transportation to get us to and from the parks each day and we were finally headed to Magic Kingdom by about 11am!  :)
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Kristen was itching to get some Minnie Mouse ears once we got there, so that was the first thing she did.  Aren't they cute??  She was a trooper and wore them as long as she could...but they hurt her head. :/  Boooo!!
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We were so excited to finally be here!!!
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The Resort had handed us some princess crowns and Victoria wore ours to the park.  I got a good kick out of the worker who greeted us when entering and told me and Victoria both "Welcome Princesses." ;)
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As soon as we got there they were having a little opening ceremony at Cinderella's Castle where all the characters were singing.
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My awesome parents!!
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We watched it for a little while and Victoria loved seeing the princesses dance on stage!!
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Hubs was our go-to fast pass guy!  While we were waiting around...Hubs ran to get fast passes for the Peter Pan ride.  (Fast passes basically hold your spot in line so you can come back during a certain time period and walk through a much shorter line to get on the ride...they are a LIFE-SAVER!!)  After watching the characters at the castle we headed over to the infamous Tea Cups for our first ride!  These are a Disney Classic and we had so much fun riding them!
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Two of my favorite pictures...This shows you how much fun we were having! ;)
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We walked around for a little while just taking in all the sites!  There was sooo much to look at and see.  *And the gift shops were fun too!* :)
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We saw the back of Cinderella's Castle and it was just as breathtaking as the front!
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On our way to the next ride, we saw the Carousel and Victoria wanted to ride it so bad!
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The line was short so we hopped on it and rode around one time.  This was one of her favorites!
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And her 'paparazzi' was there to follow.  ;)  Mom sat this one out and watched from the sidelines.  Angela did too so she could get a good video from the outside.  :)
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Next we headed over to check the line out for "It's a Small World".  It was more of a time-filler ride before Peter Pan but we quickly figured out we were HUNGRY!  So we walked over to The Pinnochio Village Haus for a quick service lunch.
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Hubs & I ordered a flat bread sandwich that was DElicious!!!  We all felt better after cooling off in the air-conditioner and filling up our tummies.  So we headed back over to "It's a Small World" and waited for this small boat ride that takes you through different characters/countries...all the while singing "It's a Small World."
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My dad told me later this was his least favorite because he could not stand that song being played over and over!  hahaha!  I can't quite blame him but we gave him a hard time once he told us.  ;)  After this ride we went straight across to Peter Pan.  I had never ridden this ride and it is now one of my new FAVORITES!!!  You get into a 'ship' and then it lifts you up and takes the track away so you feel as if you are flying around...It is all set in the dark with glowing scenery of images from Peter Pan being played out the entire time.  It was soooo neat!
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Next we had a little bit of time to fill before we needed to be at our Character Meal at 3pm.  So we rode the Dumbo flying elephants ride.
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Man, Disney has a way of making a 30-45 minute wait feel like NOTHING.  We quickly got into an air conditioned waiting line where we were given a number to listen for over the loud speaker.  Once we got to this spot, kids were able to play in an indoor playground while parents could sit around and watch on benches.  What a great way to 'wait' in line!  It didn't seem like much time before we were up and ready to get on the ride.
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This was a fun one for all...and Victoria loved being able to control their elephant to go up and down.  :)
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We quickly went to watch a Walt Disney through the times movie ride.  On the way we spotted our first Souvenir Penny stop.  Victoria was very intrigued!  She put her quarters and penny in, but when she got only her penny back she quickly wondered...WHERE'S MY QUARTERS?  hahaha!  We had to explain that one to her.  ;)  By the end of the trip she was a pro!
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For the Walt Disney ride, we sat in a theatre that would rotate around in a circle and display a set that would explain how things had evolved and changed through the ages.  It was fun to watch, nothing spectacular.  But the comfy seats and cool air were worth it!  All of us were tempted to take a power nap...and I'm pretty sure most of the boys did!  We quickly headed over to lunch after this.
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There was an afternoon character parade beginning around the same time, so Jared & Angela watched while we waited for our seats and then hurried back once they called our name.
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And there was a beautiful view of the Castle from near our restaurant!!
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Our Character meal was at the Crystal Palace with the Winnie-the-Pooh characters.
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It was a buffet meal and one of my favorites as far as characters go.  The characters walk around to each table and should reach your table every 1.5 hours.  So, the waiters tell you that if you don't see the characters nearby...go ahead and help yourself to the buffet.  But, if they are near your table, then wait for them to come and then go get your food after.  The characters were so fun and interactive at this meal!  The first up was Tigger and he was just so energetic.  Bouncing around everywhere, we loved his energy!
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Next was Eeyore who, of course, moved a little slower but he was so funny with Victoria.  He kept covering and uncovering her face with his arm.  She laughed so hard.
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Grandma helping with Victoria's autograph book.  It didn't take long for Victoria to have the routine down to a tee!  Hand character book, Put book down, Give them a hug, Smile for all the pictures, One last hug, DONE!  :)
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Next was Pooh Bear, and we had a family shot taking with him.  He was so fun.
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 And last, but not least, Piglet who was just as cute as she could be!
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We celebrated Victoria's birthday at all of the meals, so she got a little cupcake surprise at the end of all of them.  Lucky! ;)
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The waiters & workers are so good at coming around and making sure all characters have visited your table before you leave.  After lunch we took a few pictures before we decided to split up for a little bit.
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I love this picture of Victoria 'holding' the balloons.  ;)
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Everyone was due for a little sunscreen renewal too!!
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Mom & Dad went back to the resort to have our stuff moved to the room, unload a little bit, and most importantly...REST!  Jared & Angela took Victoria to see Merida from Brave, Rapunzel's Castle and some different areas of the park that she really wanted to see.
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Clint, Kristen, Hubs & I headed to Adventureland to ride some bigger rides.  :)
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We wanted to ride Thunder Mountain.  This was one of the longest waits we had the entire time at Disney.  *A first advertised 45 minute wait turned into about a 90 minute wait*...EEK!  Good thing they had things for us to play with inside the ride to entertain us and help pass the time.  :) We should have gotten a fast pass, but it just didn't work for our schedule.  Plus, we already had fast passes for Space Mountain later that night that Hubs & Clint had gotten us and you can't overlap them.  So we waited it out.  (It was definitely worth it!)  While we were waiting in line Jared, Angela & Victoria saw the ride that we were waiting for and watched it for a little while.
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After the ride we headed on back to the hotel to rest & change before the firework show & light parade that night.  Jared & Angela weren't too far behind us and we were all waiting for them on the balcony when they arrived.  :)  We loved checking out the hotel room.  It's amazing how much detail Disney puts into every little thing.  The room was decked out in a safari theme, full out with leopard carpet that had little Mickey's in it.  We were in love!
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Shortly after, we were headed back to Magic Kingdom that night for the night activities.  :)
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Once we got there we split up a little bit.  Hubs & I went on a hunt to find my P.E. teacher down Main Street, but unfortunately we never saw her.  Instead we met back up with my family in Tomorrowland.
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Clint, Kristen, Jared and my dad joined us to ride Space Mountain and then Mom, Angela and Victoria went to watch Monster's Laugh Floor.
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Space Mountain was DEFINITELY a hit.  If you are wanting to ride a more adult ride at Magic Kingdom, Space Mountain is definitely the one...and get a Fast Pass for it too!!  We walked right through the line and passed a ton of people with our Fast Passes.  The ride is all in the dark and takes you on unexpected curves extremely fast.  We loved it!!!
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The girls also said they loved the Monster's Laugh Floor show.  Angela said it was extremely interactive and once she almost got picked!! She was glad she didn't though.  ;)  On our way to find a spot for the fireworks show, we spotted Stitch and Chip & Dale hosting a dance party.  So we met up with everyone there to have a little fun with the characters.  Victoria was a little too shy to get out and dance with the characters by herself so it took a little coaxing on our part.
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We were about done and ready to head out when I feel a tap on my shoulder and Chip (or Dale) was standing there asking me to dance.  It was the funniest thing!!
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Next up: Fireworks!!!
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Definitely some of the best I've ever seen.  And the added touch of Tinkerbell was soooooo neat.  Victoria's comment was "She's not flying!  She's on a rope!  I see it!" hahahaha!  After the Fireworks show, we headed to get some Dole Whip Ice Cream to help us hold over until the Light Parade.
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We were headed over to find a spot for the Light Parade when a sweet, sweet family told us that Tinkerbell was in the room right next door to us with one of her fairies and there was NO WAIT.  So we should go take advantage of the opportunity right now!  We definitely did and it was one of my favorite meet & greets because we had the room all to ourselves.  And those fairies were so funny and sweet with Victoria.  I loved how they talked and interacted with her while staying in character the entire time.  She obviously loved it too.  Look at that smile!...
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After the meet & greet with Tinkerbell, we found a good spot and then enjoyed the show.
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The floats were beautiful!  We couldn't believe they do all of these things every single night.  Wow!
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Victoria gently waved at all the floats and characters that passed by...The best part was when Cinderella's float passed by, she spotted Victoria in her Cinderella dress and then Cinderella shouted out in her sweetest little voice "Look, it's a princess!!" and she then blew Victoria a kiss.
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Victoria barely remembers it as it had been a LONNNNNG day and she was ready for bed by this point!  ;)  Poor girl was fighting sleep the entire night.  What a trooper!
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Day 1 at Magic Kingdom was completely Magical!  It was by far my mom's favorite park and she kept saying she would have been perfectly happy going back to that park every day. We loved our time there.  :)
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And a little video of our traveling and day at Magic Kingdom.  :)

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