Apr 27, 2013

Loges in Disneyworld- Day 9

(sniff- all good things must come to an end)

We were now becoming accustomed to ridiculously early hours, and since this was our last day to play in the parks, we were up and out of the room to get to the Magic Kingdom park as it opened. We got to the restaurant and looked around for the Rinks, who are far better at being early birds than the Loges, but didn't see them. We did see a bus just pulling out for the Magic Kingdom and figured that we just missed them.  But history had proven it would work out, and so we rushed through breakfast to catch the next bus to the park confident we would catch each other there.

This extra magic hour worked out, and we were able to move freely in the park; there were no crowds to wade through (yay for small miracles!!!!!). We set about putting as much fun as we could into the day.

We quickly got onto Thunder Mountain, riding it a couple of times. Then we grabbed a fast pass and set off to explore other parts of the park. As we wandered past Stitch's Great Escape we saw that it had no wait time, so although we didn't know what the ride was about, we popped in. Turns out, it was a multi-sensory ride where they surround you with a harness to stream puffs of air so make it feel like your hair was being flicked and the sensation of Stitch jumping on your shoulders. The best(?) part was Stitch belching after eating a chilli dog and the scent of just that filled the air. Avery was disgusted....

We walked out of the ride, and into the Rinks.  They were heading to the Tomorrowland Speedway, and so we joined them. Avery and I rode together, and I was so very thankful for the little bumper that ran between the tires to keep you on the road as she 'steered' around the track!

Avery carried on so much about the horrors of the chilli dog that naturally the rest of the Littles wanted to experience it too. Which distressed my little, who then tried to get out of going again. In the end she figured going again would be more fun than sitting outside the ride and waiting for the rest of us, if only just barely!

We went into the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor comedy show, which was surprisingly awesome! Digital characters interact with the audience; the technology to make animation in real time was very interesting.

We also rode the Pirates of the Caribbean (fun!) and It's a Small World. It's a Small World is the silliest, hokiest thing on the planet, but it was shut down for maintenance when we went to Disneyland, so we felt we had to experience it here. For some reason- can't really justify the choice actually. At least the lineup was short.

We stopped for lunch, and because we had a ton of meal credits left, we were able to get lunch for everyone. If I were to go again, I don't think I would get a meal plan. Or maybe get a smaller one. I don't know what we were thinking to buy a meal plan for days that we were not in Disneyworld, but in the end we didn't use up all our credits.  Anyways, it was nice to share- that part was good!

We set out after lunch with the intention of photos in front of the Magic Kingdom castle.. and were delayed by Fritz the horse...

TaDah! Pictures happened, and a gorgeous day for it!

La la la! When in front of a princesses castle, one MUST twirl!

All of us! We realized that we could not have been less coordinated if we had tried!

Disneyworld is truly a magical place... even give you a place for your naughty children!
We explored around the small world a bit, and found nothing that really interested the kids. But we did see a whole passel of princesses all decked out in their finest attire. It sure brought back memories!  Littlest Rink wanted to go through the haunted house, but the bigger littles were not even close to getting into that kind of adventure, so Mark and I headed off with the bigger littles to Thunder Mountain.

We spent the majority of the afternoon racing between Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, lining up, fast passing and screaming!  Most excellent:0) Somewhere in here we managed to get on the Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger spin...

We watched a special Easter parade...

Enjoyed ice cream...

And watched a 'regular parade'...

... complete with princesses and princes!

and stopped to twirl the marble ball one last time.
We finished off our day at Magic Kingdom with one last ride on Space Mountain. As we got off, we all agreed that it actually felt kind of slow, compared to some of the other roller coasters we had been on!  A pleasant trip through space is fine way to end a theme park adventure!

Everyone was tired; the kids were cranky, and its possible the adults were too. All the early mornings were catching up to us. That paired with a (finally!) hot day, everyone was regretfully ready to head back to camp.

We went for one last session at the pool. The bigger littles joined in some poolside hula hoop and song lyric games, while the littlest little slept on a deck chair.

As the Rinks had a middle of the night departure (as in up at 3am!!!!), they decided that supper at the hotel and as early a bedtime as they could muster was in order. We decided that we would head to downtown Disney for supper and shopping as we still had some souvenirs to pick up and we also needed clean socks!

On our first day, we had noticed a store called Little Miss Matched. A store completely devoted to to.... can you guess? Miss matched socks! Sold in sets of 3!  That way, it never matters if you lose one, or so they claim. Desperate times led us back to this store so Avery and I (who did not pack enough socks, anticipating more sandal weather than we actually had) would have socks to wear home.  Avery and I set about choosing socks, and Mark spent his time in the loose sock bin trying to match them up.... It is a wonder he did not get escorted out of there!

We ended with what we thought was a perfect finish to our adventure. We went for supper at Wolfgang Puck's, and the meal was fantastic. Best part was that we got to use our meal plan here! Only four meals were left behind....

Tired, full and full-up with adventure, we headed back to the hotel.

Our 5:30am departure would be upon us way too soon.

Apr 21, 2013

Loges in Disneyworld- Day 8

It was extra magic hour at Hollywood Studios, and so we were up for the challenge. Now that we have become extreme fans of the Tower of Terror, that was our main focus- to ride it as many times as possible! So we fast passed it, and lined up for it, and grabbed another fast pass before we lined up for it, and generally screamed ourselves silly all morning. This worked pretty well until one half of the ride was shut down... We got stuck on slow speed in a fast pass line and we speculated about what might have happened. Not wanting to seriously consider mechanical problems, we went with a protein clean-up. A very serious one, because it was quite a delay.

Some long line-up lovin'! A little bit of yoga happened just for fun too. AND! We tried to start a line-up wave. Our best effort involved a dozen people and a lot of wary looks.
Hey! Wouldn't it be cool if we got a group photo with the Tower of Terror in the background? Unless, of course, it is not cool at all. Valiant Mark took a half dozen photos in the attempt and none were any better than this! Tough crowd to organize.
Hey! Maybe a candid will work out better. Nope. Not better....
The Tower of Terror adventure ended with a sad/happy discovery. On our very last time riding it, we thought it would be fun to try dropping down an elevator shaft while lifting our arms in the air! This meant actually releasing the death grip on the handle bars. That grip was hard to override, but SO WORTH IT! If only we had discovered this earlier!!!!!! You momentarily get to float like a space man. Well, as far as your seat belt will allow- but still! Way. More. Fun.

A late discovery at Hollywood Studios was the Rockin' Roller Coaster. We had looked at it the other times we were here, but the lineups were always long and the fast passes didn't work either because we were already holding one, or the return time didn't work. Today we happily got to experience this ride. We had to ride this one in shifts because Littlest Rink was not tall enough to ride. The parent swap on this ride was the best! They gave the waiting parent a fast pass, plus two more. That meant the bigger kids got to ride this one a few times, right in a row. In the end, all the bigs got to ride it twice, and the eligible littles got to ride it four or five times. That nearly did not happen, however.  In typical Disney style, the lineups snake around in hidden ways, and at one point the line up meanders past the start of the roller coaster. You see the people get loaded on, you see them leave, and then you see the roller coaster stop for a traffic light.... and sit there. And then, all of a sudden, it takes off at mach speed!!!!!! Total whiplash zone!!!!!  This completely freaked out the littles and they nearly refused to get on.  It took some convincing and some almost-tears, but they relented, albeit filled with trepidation. And you know what? As soon as they got off, they hollered, "Let's do it AGAIN!"

Littlest Rink has more patience while waiting than pretty much any other child on the planet. While the bigger girls were riding the Rockin' Roller Coaster, she made grass sculptures! So cool!

While waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean show, the girls noticed a young woman sketching. Their curiosity  was pretty obvious and the artist was quite accommodating, and so she showed them her sketch book and made princesses on demand for them. She told us that it is her dream to work for Disney studios when she is finished college. How cool was that?

One of the park street performers... she was dispensing 'Hollywood Advice' for free! I have to say she was pretty astute because she noticed the star quality of E right away!

The crowds were getting thick, and it was warming up, cueing us that it was time to leave the park!

Time for some pool fun! (For real this time!!!)

Pool bliss!

And what could be better than a nice massage after a long day of walking?

Next stop: Epcot! We really have not seen enough fire works on this trip, so we made our way to see the light and explosion show over the water. And eat supper at the world pavilions... tacos from Mexico and Bratwurst from Germany. So yummy!!!!!!

Playing peek-a-boo at the entrance.

Egads, a person needs a tripod for pictures like this! Nonetheless, the lights across the lake were brilliant!

 With a slow pace, we headed home knowing that the sooner we got to bed, the sooner our last day at the park would come....

Apr 14, 2013

Loges in Disneyworld- Day 7

Return to Universal Studios....

We were determined to get to Universal Studios and Harry Potter world before the crowds so we got up before any earthly creature should and hopped into a van early enough that we would be at the park as it opened.

Our tickets that we begged approval for last visit still worked, although we discovered a curious thing. Unlike our Disney Park tickets, our names were not on our own tickets, but it does matter that you use the one that you signed in with. If you happen to mix them up (and why wouldn't you get nameless tickets mixed up?) you don't get into the park. This small problem was sorted out in short order, and a pen fixed the issue for good. Onward!

Along with everyone else on the planet! We moved as one with the crowd straight to the farthest edge of the park, straight to Hogsmede, straight to the Forbidden Journey ride in hopes that we could ride it at least once without an hour plus wait.  WRONG! We arrived with the crowd and queued up with the crowd and discovered there was already a 75 minute wait with the crowd. Fine. Foiled. The mamas decided to ditch the lineup and took the littlest Rink to the empty Dr. Seuss park where fun could be had as easy as sneezing!

It's like walking into a Seuss book!
 We rode a little train over the rooftops of Seuss land. It really is an awesome place! And then we browsed around, where the gift shops have little people sized doors!

Anyone home?

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street!

After an hour, we figured we had better get back to the insanity that was Hogsmede and I suggested a shortcut that I was *pretty sure* I knew. See Hogsmede behind us? We MUST be close!  Only we were not so much close, and so set about sorting that out... until...

SQUIRREL! Friendly little guy came right up to Mama Rink for a bagel bite, except he reached right past it and started to crawl up her arm! The Rinks almost had a new pet!
Anyone who has travelled with me should know that I pretty much always end up taking the scenic route to my destination, whether walking, driving or... I guess that is it. Walking or driving, sans or. How happy I was to discover a bit of a kindred spirit in Mama Rink, who I learned is also well acquainted with the scenic route. I think it's the best one because that is where you find all the squirrels! After all, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans!

Minor detours out of the way, we reunited with the successful Journeyers and decided to leave Hogsmede to actually see the rest of Universal Studios. Upon leaving, we were advised that we could not get back to this area of the park without a number and call back time.  They noticed that maybe there were too many people looking for the Harry Potter experience. When we asked how often that happened, we learned that it was practically never. Lucky us.

The escape from Hogsmede was exhausting. Better stop for a snack!

A pause... it is good to breathe!

We left the Islands of Adventure Park and headed to Universal Studios. First stop- catch the Blues Brothers! But we had time to kill in New York, so we paused for what could be my favorite holiday picture!

This cool guy could play!
Songs actually came out of his mouth! AWESOME!

A little bit of singing and dancing along, and it was time for lunch. Lunch for holiday champions... turkey legs and ice cream!

Mmmmmm.... bet you want a bite!
Even without Harry Potter, there is plenty of thrills to be had at Universal Studios. We watched a 4-D Shrek mini movie, attacked aliens with the Men in Black, played in a playground (well, the kids mostly did that. The Bigs sat around and talked, or watched the bottom of the mini water slide in hopes that children we actually knew would spurt of the tunnel), and went on an E.T adventure (which sparked an interest in seeing the E.T. movie.)

And! Burned by the fact that today she still wasn't big enough to ride the Duelling Dragon roller coaster, Avery was eager to ride on the Rockit Roller Coaster. She was certainly tall enough, and with the determination of the unfairly rejected, she stated that she would even go on as a single rider! The line ups were long for the ride, but really the attraction to it baffled me. Ride straight up for about a million stories and then plunge into a loop-de-loop, except that it is not good enough to just loop. You have to twist around the loop for it to be really fun!!!!!  Avery set off with the Papas, and the rest of us grabbed lemonade and a patch of fake grass. We didn't take a picture of this roller coaster, but just for you, I found a you tube of someone sitting right in the front! So if you want to (almost) experience it, here you go:

We were almost ready to leave, except for one thing. The Incredible Hulk. This green roller coaster had been taunting me for the two days we spent in the park. It really looks awful. And exciting. And scary. And wrong.  But I finally decided that I would rather regret that I rode it, than regret that I didn't. And so I did, along with Mama Rink. And you know what? IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!

Awesomeness on tall green poles!!!

And because we are Canadian, a wet ride as the sun goes down and the crowds leave seems like a great idea! Kids rode Dudley Do Right's boat a few times! 
And just because Connie told me that Hogsmede is also awesome at night, we made one last stop.... They were letting people back in again. Still crowded. But now it was also dark! And a whole other experience because of the lights and special touches. Truly magical!

Goodbye Universal Studios! You sure know how to throw a party!

Apr 13, 2013

Loges in Disneyworld- Day 6

As we parted the night before, our two families agreed to meet for breakfast and get on the bus early enough to enjoy the extra magic hour at the Animal Kingdom park. But when we got back to the room, Mark and I didn't have the same recollection of what the time was! I thought the park opened at 7, but he thought 8, and he found a schedule that backed up his memory. Because I am often wrong about such things, we set the alarm to to be in the restaurant at 7:15.

And found out that I was right in the morning!!!!!  (I'm not saying, I'm just saying....) Once we realized we were late and that the Rinks had already left we started off to the park on our own, although Avery was distressed by this.

It was very chilly this morning! Only about 5 degrees celsius, we cuddled together, puffing our cloudy breath in attempt to warm up.
At 8am, the sun is still just rising! Brrrr......
Even though we missed the extra magic hour, the park was not that busy yet.  We grabbed a fast pass for Expedition Everest, and headed to the safari to see us some critters! I absolutely loved this adventure, despite the almost freezing conditions.

Clutching my coffee in hopes of some residual warmth, the bus is boarded! Safari time, Ba-by! And yes- my Ukrainian thermometer is working. Red nose=cold outside!

As the sun rises at the watering hole, some kind of cool bird sips peacefully...

Some springy animals standing there, not at all springy. Must be too chilly for them too....

nom, nom....

Giraffe, cleverly camouflaged as a tree root...

Is there anything more adorable than a baby elephant??? Nope! Didn't think so!

Peaceful scene...

Lions waking up and greeting the morning sun! So cool:0)
Alright! Awesome safari done, we wandered into an aviary- also very cool!

In the background, you can see the magnificent 'tree of life'. The longer you look at the trunk, the more animals and figures you can find embedded into its design. This actually housed a theatre for "It's a Bug's Life", and we did catch that show later in the day.



'Nother bird...

Sleeping tiger. This exhibit included some asian animals too. The whole park was divided into two distinct areas/themes. Asian and African animal exhibits, building styles, food, etc were found in their appropriate part of the park.
And then!!!  Oh happy day for our little! Mid-morning we ran into the Rinks. They had devoted their morning to riding the Everest Expedition as many times as they could before the crowds arrived, and we met them as we headed that way to use up our fast passes.

Together again! Bliss...

Mama Rink took all the littles to the safari, while Papa Rink and the Big Loges went to check out the African trek. Like the asian one, there was an aviary section, where we saw this little guy happily weaving a nest onto a branch.

His kind are prolific builders- their pods were everywhere!

You can't look at a meerkat and not smile! See? Told you!

Enjoying the gorilla habitat.

There were two areas for the gorillas- one for a gorilla family, with a mom, dad, auntie and baby. The other was for the single guys to hang out, and this is one of the bachelors.

In the center was a square where all sorts of entertainment happened. African drumming, traditional music and dance demonstrations happened all day long.

Once the girls got back from safari, we knew they would want to see the gorillas, so we went back. While there, they participated in an animal science activity and figured out what kind of animals were in the area by looking at the scat and tracks.
Yes, we did ride Expedition Everest many times! And by mid-afternoon it had warmed up enough to ride the Kali River rapids, so we did that a few times too.

A yeti + a bit of going backwards= AWESOME!!!!

parade time!

Go critter, go!
Satisfied that we had drained all the fun we could out of Animal Kingdom, we headed back to the hotel. The children had the crazy notion that they would like to go swimming, despite the temperatures that barely reached warm in full sun. By the time the sun was setting, it was quite cool again but our undaunted littles dived right in. Oddly enough, they practically had the pool to themselves. The pool was heated, and they had a great time! It was the poor parents who were hanging out on the deck chairs that suffered!!!!  What we don't do for our children. Eventually, we had enough of that sort of fun and...

...apparently we ended up back at Hollywood Studios! But I have park soup and have no idea what we went there for, or what we did. I do know we didn't see Fantasmic, and I hope I rode on the Tower of Terror again!

Remember I mentioned the turkey leg t-shirts? True story....
In the end, I have to say that Animal Kingdom was probably my favorite park. I loved all the vegetation that surrounded every exhibit. I loved the animal enclosures that looked open and accessible, using natural barriers to keep people and critters on the appropriate sides of things. In fact, during the safari, we had to stop the jeep to let some giraffes pass in front of us. Now, that doesn't happen every day!