Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Walt Disney World & Universal Fall 2018

Day 1 - Rain!

I'm writing this to the sound of shoes crashing in the dryer...

We arrived in Orlando shortly before 4pm after an uneventful flight.  We took the Magical Express to Disney and checked into room 5077 (and 5079) at Boardwalk Villas.  The room is very nice as usual.  It's a two bedroom lockoff, which means it's a 1 bedroom and a studio with a connecting door.  That works perfecty for us because it has plenty of beds for everyone.  We had our Amazon Now groceries delivered to our room and then headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios for a short first night at the park.

It was our first time trying Amazon Now. I placed our order using an app on my phone just before our plane took off, and had a text waiting for me upon landing that our groceries had been delivered! It was cheaper and easier than Garden Grocers which we had always used previously. We will use Amazon NOW several more times on this trip.

We walked and there is a bit of a detour because of all the construction going on near Hollywood Studios.  They are building the sky way there and said it will be finished in the spring of 2019.    The detour added a bit of walking, but not too much.

We headed straight to the Star Tours ride since we had a fast pass for it.  That's when it first started raining.  It wasn't too bad at that point, just a slow, but steady rain that started about two minutes before we got to the ride.  This is one that we can all enjoy and Zachary was quite looking forward to it.

We had fun on the ride and then found a very crowded gift shop as we exited.  Everyone was jammed inside the gift shop because it was pouring outside.  We decided to brave it since it didn't look like it would end anytime soon and we had only been on one ride at this point.

We headed straight to the new Toy Story Land.  We couldn't really check out the new section because we were getting quite soaked by then.  We had a fast pass to Toy Story Mania, but we really didn't need it.  This was the first time I've ever seen that ride without a line!  Everyone loves this ride.  Kyrie had the best score this time.

By now we were getting hungry for dinner and wanted to get out of the rain.  We headed to the ABC Commissary.  The food was decent.  I thought mine was really good, but the others only found theirs okay.  I had something like beef brisket and a corn enchilada.

It stopped raining while we ate - thankfully!  We went back to Toy Story Land, but so did everyone else.  We went on the Alien Saucers ride since that was only a 10 minute wait.

We finished the night with the nightly show - Fantasmic!  We enjoyed it, although Zachary was very concerned about seeing the dragon.  He didn't mind it once he finally saw it, but he was worried until then.

Even though getting soaked was uncomfortable, we ended up having a nice evening. It was a beautiful night- cooler and less humid, but still warm enough to dry off. 

Other than our wet shoes, I think we survived alright.  Luckily we have a dryer to put them in - I hope it works!

Day 2 - Epcot and Pool time

We started the day bright and early at Epcot.  It had an Extra Magic Hour (EMH) this morning, so we spent that time going on Soarin' twice and then going on The Land. (I am always envious of their gardens!) We stopped for a "breakfast" treat before heading over to the Finding Nemo ride and then Test Track and Mission: Space.  We had fun on all the rides.  The kids had a lot of fun designing cars before the test track ride.  There was a surprisingly long line for Mission: Space.  I don't think I've ever stood in any line for that ride.  We also went on Journey into Imagination, which is good because we are all wearing purple Figment shirts today; so that would be pretty silly if we didn't!  We also took a break at the Disney Vacation Club lounge.  I was surprised that they even had snacks this time.

We did a little looking around shops on our way to "Canada." Then it was lunchtime which we spent at Le Cellier.   The kids filled up on breadsticks mostly, so they barely ate their kids meals.  It's PRETZEL bread! I had the Ratatouille pasta and the cheese soup.  Both were very good.  Kyrie selected the pre fixe  menu which included the cheese soup, steak frites, and a delicious chocolate mouse for dessert (which we all enjoyed.)

After lunch, Zach shopped...again.  He has been souvenir shopping ever since we left the house.  We've been letting the kids earn some spending money for this trip over the past couple months and Zach is ready to spend it - now!  He's wanted about 10 different things already.  Finally, today we let him go ahead and get the Sorcerer Mickey doll that he wanted.  I'm sure he'll be mad when he tries to buy another souvenir and doesn't have the money for it, but I couldn't keep going to EVERY store that he saw!

We went back to the hotel and spent some time at the pool.  It got cut short by a thunderstorm, but the kids still managed to get in some pool games and some trips down the water slide.

After swimming we were a little too lazy to go back to Epcot for dinner.  We had planned on grazing through the food and wine festival, but staying at the Boardwalk sounded much easier.  So we did that and still had a good time and the food was fine.  We ate at the Boardwalk To Go stand, It was fried food like chicken strips, corn dogs, and such. We also shared some desserts from Ample Hills Creamery and Boardwalk Bakery. We had a relaxing night and look forward to getting to Magic Kingdom tomorrow!

Day 3 - Magic Kingdom

We got up bright (actually dark) and early and headed to Magic Kingdom.  We went on a lot of rides today.  We started with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train then went on Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Cups, Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, Astro Orbiters, Buzz Lightyear, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean - and that was all before lunch! (That's why I drag them out of bed early for EMH!)

We ate at Pecos Bills which I always regret and today was no exception.  The food always looks and sounds good, but it just doesn't taste good.  We ate there because it was convenient (and air conditioned).  We didn't feel like walking away from the rides that we had fast passes on later, so we just ate there.  I had the chicken nachos.  The nachos were actually fine, but the chicken was really not good at all. True! The chicken is not good. I had the fajitas and everything was fine except the chicken. 

After lunch we went on Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (twice), Jungle Cruise, Aladdin's Magic Carpets,  Dumbo, Goofy's Barnstormer and the Walt Disney World Railroad.  Plus we watched the Country Bear Jamboree and walked through the Swiss Family Robinson's tree house.

For treats at Magic Kingdom, we shared a Dole Whip Float, Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Dole Whip, a Cheshire Cat Tail, and an Orange Citrus Swirl Cone.

We left the park about 3:00pm.  We were plenty hot and tired by then.  We enjoyed a nice break at the hotel for a couple hours.  We're going to the water park tomorrow so decided not to swim today.

Day 4 - Uh Oh!

Last night Jacob, Max, and I decided we want to get up earlier than the others and go to EMH at Animal Kingdom to ride Flight of Passage before going to a water park as a family today. When I woke Max up he said, "I don't think I should go." Which I took to mean he was too tired since he's the kind of kid who likes to sleep a lot. Jacob and I got ready and headed out the door without waking anyone else. I noticed a pile of sheets in the hall and asked Jacob if someone wet the bed last night or something. (The kids all slept in a separate bedroom and Marc stays up later than I do, so I am not usually privy to late night happenings.) It wasn't until we reached the elevators that Jacob was awake enough to recall that Max had vomited in the middle of the night. Concerned, but knowing there was nothing I could do, we continued on with our plan. 

They let everyone into Animal Kingdom quite a bite earlier than the EMH of 8am, so even though there were hundreds of people ahead of us all heading to the same ride (the best and most popular ride in all four parks of Walt Disney World), we were actually off of the ride by 8:10am! We rode Na'vi River Journey in the Pandora area too and got some coffee at Starbucks before the rest of the park opened at 9am. Then we rode Expedition Everest twice before going to the bus stop to get to Blizzard Beach to meet up with Marc and the kids.

Last night Max threw up.  We've seen this before.  A couple years ago we were at Disney and one kid threw up and then we spent the next several days one person at a time having the illness.  I don't want that again!  I briefly held out hope that it was just too much junk food and Max would be fine in the morning.  No such luck.  He seemed to feel okay, but he only drank a glass of water and then within an hour he threw up again.  This happened while we were waiting to transfer to the Blizzard Beach bus at Animal Kingdom.  At least it didn't happen ON the bus!  So, I took him back to the room and Kyrie took the others to the water park.  I definitely got the easier end of that deal!

Max was okay the rest of the day.  He still didn't feel well, but he didn't get sick anymore.  So far, everyone else is okay.  The others had a great time at the water park.  Jacob and even Ella went on the biggest slide there.  There's no way I would have!  Those steep ones are too scary for me.

When they returned, I took Jacob and Ella to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.  There were a lot of people there.  We ended up just having dinner at the quick service restaurant in the Mexico pavilion since the food stands all seemed so busy and just tastes of food.  We did end up going through a couple of them on the way out of the park to bring back dinner for Kyrie and the lines we actually not that bad - and Kyrie said the food was excellent.

Tomorrow we head to Universal for a few days and I'm hoping everyone stays well from now on!

Day 5 - Cabana Bay/Universal Studios

We checked into Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando this morning.  I really love this hotel.  This is our second time staying here.  It's themed to a 50's motel and it's just a lot of fun.  Even the little soaps and shampoos and alarm clocks are retro.  In the cafeteria they play old time commercials.  We have two connecting family style rooms which have two queen sized beds each, a small living room with a pull out couch and a little kitchenette each.  Lots of room for us to spread out.  The only downside to this hotel is having to take a bus to the parks and that it doesn't include Universal Express like the higher end Universal hotels do.  We definitely didn't need Universal Express today.  Most of the lines were about 15 minutes maximum.

It is such a relief to have relatively low crowds! I have never seen crowds at both Universal and Disney as we saw in March Easter time, and we will do our best to avoid such times from now on.

After checking into the resort we took the bus over to Universal Studios.  We went on the Transformers ride first and then had lunch at Louie's pizza place.  Decent pizza. Then we walked over to the newest ride Fast and Furious.  I haven't seen any of the movies and haven't read about the ride so I had no idea what to expect.  Well, almost no idea.  Like most of Universal's rides, this one has a ride vehicle going by various screens.  Nothing wrong with that kind of ride, I just think they should mix it up a little.  That being said, it's a really good ride and it was a lot of fun.

I agree. The 3D video rides are cool, but there needs to be more roller coasters and other rides without 3D or motion simulators too. Having said that, there is little at Disney that compares technically to the two Harry Potter rides and the Spider-Man ride that started this sort of thing. Still, for some reason we get bored pretty quickly at Universal (2-3 days max) and never get bored with Disney World!

Then we went on the Simpsons ride and some kiddie alien ride next door to it.  Then we went on ET, which I guess was also an alien ride.

We had a good time today.  After leaving the park, we stopped at Voodoo Donuts for a treat and then headed back to the hotel for swimming.

Day 6 - Islands of Adventure

Early entry was at Universal Studios today (and all of the days we are here), so we started the morning there.  Only two rides were open - The Mummy and Escape from Gringotts.  We went on both of those.  I've never heard Zoe scream so much as she did on The Mummy - and I've heard her scream plenty of times!  It was still fun and everyone enjoyed Escape from Gringotts.  We had plenty of time to spare, so we explored all of the Harry Potter area while we waited for Islands of Adventure to open.  The kids had fun looking around and Zach and Zoe spent some of their souvenir money on lollipops.

More rides should be open during early entry! I did like taking our time exploring Diagon Alley though. We've never done that before an the details in there are great! Makes me want to read the Harry Potter books to appreciate it all more. 

We took the Harry Potter train over to Islands of Adventure and immediately went on the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff.  We spent the rest of the morning going on the Jurassic River Ride, Pteronodon Flyers, King Kong Skull Island, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Storm Force Accelatron.  All of the rides were great - though I didn't appreciate the scary King Kong line!

We had lunch at Confisco Grille.  This was the first time we ate here (except once for a Character breakfast).  The food was good. The prices were pretty much the same as quick service restaurants too, but you got to sit down in air conditioning and be served- and get a bread basket to boot.

After lunch, we went to Seuss Island and spent some time going on the rides there.

The rest of the afternoon was spent back at the pool.  We had to dodge some raindrops and eventually a storm kicked us out, but everyone still had a good time.

Afternoon rainstorms have happened more often than not. We definitely have a pattern so far on this trip: Early to theme park, lunch then leave (because it's too HOT), swim but get kicked out of the pool due to threat of lightning, do laundry, hang out in room and "rest", break up bedtime fights from overly tired kids. 

We went back to City Walk for dinner at ate Antojitos.  Good food and surprising to find green olives in the salsa and guacamole.  Wouldn't have thought that would be very good, but it was.

Day 7 - Universal and Swimming

Kyrie and Jacob went to early entry again at Universal Studios while the rest of us slept in - a little.  Zach and Zoe were up soon after, but it still took the rest of us an hour to get out of the hotel room.

Jacob and I stopped at VooDoo donuts which opened at the same time as Universal's early entry. (Since there are only two rides open and I wasn't going to go on The Mummy again, we were in no hurry.) I ordered the Mexican Hot chocolate donut thinking it wold taste like cinnamon and chocolate. Wrong! Fire hit my lips. I didn't even get a bite out of it before I threw it away and searched for a water fountain. We leisurely made our way to Diagon Alley and rode Escape from Gringott's which is an excellent experience. We took in the scenerof the area and shared an American breakfast at Three Broomsticks. Then the rest of the park opened and not hearing anything from Marc, we walked over to Men in Black, one of the few rides we had not already ridden on this trip. We were first to ride it today then walked to the front of the park to meet up with Marc and the kids.

We met up at Universal Studios and went on the rides we missed the other days - Minion Mayhem and Race through New York.  Then Kyrie and Jacob went over to Dr. Doom's Fearfall (they are the only ones brave enough for that) while the rest of us went on the Men in Black ride before meeting back up again.

We went on a couple more rides before heading to lunch at the Toothesome Chocolate Emporium.  The food was good and it was a fun atmosphere.  It has a steam-punk theme and a "robot" came to our table to talk to us several times.  The highlight here are the ridiculous milkshakes.  The all have a full dessert on top of the thick shake.  We split three of those and could not even finish them between the seven of us.

Kyrie took Max and Zoe back to the hotel for swimming - it was super hot today.  The rest of us stayed for a few more rides at the park.  We finished with Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges.  I think we got more wet than the three that went to the pool!  We were crazy soaked after that ride!  I decided we should walk back to the hotel to give us a little chance to dry.

The rest of the day was just swimming and more swimming. And don't forget, swimming! We tried out the other pool but ended up back at the one closet to our building before the others even got there.

Day 8 - Pop Century/Swimming/Disney Springs

We headed back to Disney today and moved forward in time two decades!  We went from the 50s of Cabana Bay Beach Resort to the 70s building of Pop Century!  It's kind of fun going from one to the other so that we can compare them.  Disney definitely beats Cabana Bay on the outside, with giant representations of items from each decade.  Also, there are fun pictures and various things from each decade in the lobby.  But, once in the rooms the theming is basically limited to the colors and I'm not sure that it's even intentional.  So, kind of a toss up with the theming overall. I'd choose Cabana Bay all day long. The inside of the rooms are WAY better...and not just because we had bigger family rooms. Also the pool was better and the bus service was better (although admittedly less complex than Disney's.) 

Anyway, it's always good to be back at Disney. Agreed! Even though the rides are pretty cool at Universal, I was bored with the parks after a couple of days. I never get bored of being at WDW! We had a quiet day today.  We spent most of the time at the Hippy Dippy Pool (surrounded by the 60's buildings.)  There wasn't enough shade available near the seats, so we were happy when our rooms were ready.  Jacob and I are a little under the weather, which is extra unfortunate because we had purchased the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan for this 1 night that we are at Pop Century.  Since we only booked it for 1 room and could use it over 2 days we figured we could spread out our credits and make good use of it.  However, we ended up only using 2 credits during dinner tonight (at Homecomin' in Disney Springs) since several of us weren't hungry.  Hopefully tomorrow everyone will be feeling better and hungry because we will have a lot of credits to use!

We went to bed very early tonight because tomorrow we have "Passholder Playtime" at Toy Story Land from 7am to 8am so we will be up very early! And no one is allowed to be sick!

Day 9 - Passholder Playtime and the rest of Disney's Hollywood Studios

This morning we had Passholder Playtime at Hollywood Studios.  This was a special event that allowed a limited number of annual passholders to enter the park at 7am to go on rides in the new Toy Story Land before the park opened.  It was still dark when we arrived, and they let us in at about 6:45am.  There were very few people at the park during this time and we basically got to go on all three rides without any wait.  Kyrie and the kids really took advantage of this, by going on the popular Slinky Dog Coaster 10 times - in a row!  I went for the first couple rides, but that was enough for me.  I was still not feeling great from yesterday and I enjoyed just resting on a bench for a while.  Eventually we went on the Alien Saucers and Toy Story Mania as well.

Once the park officially opened we headed over to Tower of Terror and Rock 'n Roller Coaster.  This was Zach's first ride on Tower of Terror and he loved it.  Of course Ella and Zoe were once that way as well, but now neither of them will go on it.  Zoe screamed her head off on Rock 'n Roller Coaster - no surprise there.  She still wanted to go again though.

Then we checked out the Walt Disney tribute at One Man's Dream (and also saw Baby Groot.)

We had lunch at Mama Melrose's and then went on Star Tours and watched Muppetvision 3D. Again, people's appetites were slight. We only used three dining credits. 5 down and 7 left to use by the end of the day!

We were hot and tired by then so we headed to the hotel.  We switched to Animal Kingdom Lodge today.

It has been VERY hot every day.  The first couple days it rained a bit to help cool things off or at least make it cloudy, but since then it has just been hot, burning sun on us non-stop.  We had to wait forever at the bus stop and it was so hot.  We were relieved to board the air conditioned bus and even more thrilled to walk into the almost cold lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Unfortunately, we had to spend a lot of time in that lobby.  The kids did enjoy some crafts while we were waiting.  Our room wasn't ready until 4:45pm!  Even then the housekeeper was still in the room and they didn't even sweep the kitchen.

We stayed at the hotel for dinner since we really didn't feel like going out again at that point.  We ate at Boma which is an African buffet.  We all enjoyed it. Initially, Marc and I were going to go to Jiko, a fancy restaurant in the lobby of AKL tonight while the kids chilled out and ate in the room. But with so many credits left and with everyone actually hungry, the buffet was perfect. I think it was everyone's favorite meal so far of this trip!

Our room is nice, but I wouldn't recommend this particular one (room 5306/5308 2BR Lockoff).  The appliances are beat up and the furniture seems a bit run down.  Not too bad, but I always expect the best from Disney and usually get it.

The villas are bigger at the Kidani section of Animal Kingdom Villas (AKV or AKL), but we chose Jambo because of the convenience of restaurants. The big draw of AKL is the savanna view though which was amazing as usual. And the resort itself is beautiful! It's just a long bus ride away from almost everything.

Day 10 - Typhoon Lagoon

Because some of us (mainly me) didn't really feel like getting up early again today and because it's been so hot, we decided to rearrange our schedule a bit and go to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon waterpark today.  We had originally planned to go to early entry at Magic Kingdom and then go to the waterpark a few days from now.

Definitely glad we switched it.  It was plenty hot and sunny all day (as usual) and I really appreciated getting to sleep in as well.  Although Zach tried to get me up at 7:00am when he was the first kid up and he couldn't find Kyrie.  Luckily, I knew that Kyrie would be sitting out on the balcony looking at giraffes (instead of sleeping like a normal person), so I walked him out there and went back to bed for an hour. And I enjoyed my coffee buddy.

We had a lazy morning and didn't leave for the waterpark until about 9:45am which was about 1 minute too late.  We saw the bus leave as we were walking up to the bus stop.  It took forever for the next bus to come and we didn't end up getting to the waterpark for another hour!  That was fine though, Typhoon Lagoon wasn't very busy and we didn't have any problem finding chairs or anything.

There weren't lines for any of the waterslides although the giant wave pool and the lazy river were pretty busy all the time.  We all had a good time throughout the day.  Max and I got a bit too much sun, probably because we missed the base tan that everyone else got at the first waterpark day.  Just a minor bit of sunburn though.

Max especially seemed to enjoy this day. He loved swimming into the giant waves and turning around at the last second, bodysurfing nearly on top of the wave and riding it like he he was flying. The waves come about every two minutes with a break every hour. He did this for a couple of hours and got a great workout! Zach and Zoe really liked it too but from much further back.

We had dinner at Sanna, at Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is one of my favorite restaurants at Disney.  I love the Naan bread and the butter chicken.  Just wish they had spinach paneer - then it would be perfect!  The kids didn't appreciate it as much, but the girls did like the cookies that they could decorate.

Day 11 - Animal Kingdom/Grand Floridian Villas/Happily Ever After Fireworks

We had a busy day today, but we did manage to sleep in - again!  After a leisurely morning we checked out of Animal Kingdom Lodge and spent the afternoon at Animal Kingdom.  We went on most of the rides.  Max went on Expedition Everest for the first time today!  He really liked it and seems to be ready to try out some more that he's been avoiding.

I really enjoy being at Disney in the "off" season. It's much less busy (although still busy) allowing for some flexibility in our plans. Due to the generous length of our trip and it being too hot to spend afternoons in the parks, we've rearranged our plans quite a bit. It also helps knowing we get to come back in March. I especially needed to de-stress. Is that even a word? I'm so laid back at this moment, I won't even look up the proper way to say this! And Marc always enjoys a less hectic pace-or at least more sleep!

We had lunch at Yak and Yeti.  That's usually what we end up doing at Animal Kingdom.  It isn't perfect, but better than the other choices.  We definitely appreciated being able to sit in the air conditioning for a while!  Once again it was way too hot for us, which made us not too eager to run around the park going on a bunch of rides.  So we took it pretty easy and mainly just killed time until our Pandora Flight of Passage fastpass at 2:30pm.  We all enjoyed the ride of course.

We went to our fifth (and final!) hotel today - The Villas at Grand Floridian.  These are our favorites at Walt Disney World.  A great location and really nice rooms - it's hard to beat.  I will complain that they cost too many points though!

We finished our day at Magic Kingdom.  We went mainly to see the Happily Ever After show, but we also managed to get on a few rides first.  We didn't pick the best spot to see the show and everyone sticks their phones up in the air to record it which was annoying.  I practiced being laid back again about this even though it's terribly annoying that tall people raise both arms above or to the side of their heads into a spot with an unobstructed view so that not only does their own head take up a spot but also their arms and phones take up more spots obstructing the views of the children behind them. And you know they're never even going to look at their recording again! But, I stayed in the moment and made the best of it especially to provide a good example to my children. But, it is a really great show and it was worth the trouble.

Day 12 - Epcot/Magic Kingdom/Bibbity Bobbity Boutique

This vacation is just flying by!  Can't believe it's already been 12 days.  The heat is wearing on us though.  I will definitely appreciate fall when we get home.

Epcot was our first stop today.  We went on Soarin', Journey into Imagination, Finding Nemo, and Test Track.  We would have tried to fit in a few more rides or shows, but we decided to try to squeeze in some pool time.

The girls had a surprise appointment at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique this afternoon that Kyrie arranged, so we only had a couple hours to spend at the pool and we spent some of that time eating lunch at the surprisingly overpriced poolside restaurant.  There is a certain amount of overpriced that I expect from Disney, but this place was one step beyond that.  Even Zach's Uncrustable sandwich was quite a bit more than other Disney locations.  We ended up spending $75 for 3 hot dogs, 2 bacon burgers, 1 crab sandwich all of which were served with tater tots, and the Uncrustable which was $4.25 all by itself with no side items.  In comparison, our dinner at Grand Floridian Cafe only cost us $80 and it was MUCH better! To be fair, the dinner was two kids meals, 2 entrees, and 2 soups since many of us weren't very hungry after that huge lunch. LOL! But seriously, there is a noticeable extra up charge at the Grand. 

The girls were looking forward to our planned tea at Gardenview Tea Room, but they expressed disappointment a few times that I didn't allow them to pack dresses to wear. I found a couple of very reasonably priced sundresses on Amazon and had them shipped and called to make the BBB appointment just a few days ago. The girls totally weren't expecting it and it really made their vacation! They enjoyed every minute of the experience and next 24 hours of wearing their made up hair and reapplying makeup.

So the girls left for Disney Springs to go to Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and the boys and I went to Magic Kingdom.  Max and Zach both went on Space Mountain for the first time and they both liked it.  Zach wasn't so sure until it was over, but he later said it was his favorite ride of the day.  We also went on Splash Mountain.  I think Zach has been on that before, but I'm not sure.  He liked them both better than I expected.  We went on several more rides and then met back up at the hotel with the girls.

The girls loved the Boutique and told us that we need to call them princesses now.

Day 13 - Magic Kingdom/Tea Party

We spent the morning at the Magic Kingdom.  We went on Peter Pan, Goofy's Barnstormer, Space Mountain (Zoe and Ella's first time!), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Little Mermaid, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain.

There isn't much to say about it all.  The girls both liked their first rides on Space Mountain.  Zach wouldn't go on Splash Mountain today.  It was super hot again today, but there was more cloud cover so that helped a bit.

In the afternoon, Kyrie and the girls went to an afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian.  The boys and I walked over to the Polynesian resort for a Dole whip.

We stayed in tonight.  We ordered pizza and picked up a movie from the front desk - Flubber.  None of us had seen it before.

It's tough to explain the days we spend in the parks when they sound the same over and over. But each day is unique and fun in real life. I really like being at the rope drop (opening) of the parks and riding a lot of rides before they get busy. Using this strategy along with well planned fast passes, makes for fun and stress free days!

This vacation has been a good mix of intense fun and also relaxing down time. We're not always very good at having down time. 

Day 14 - Blizzard Beach part 2

We went back to Blizzard Beach today.  Max and I hadn't been there, and the heat has made us mostly want to swim anyway.  It was mostly cloudy today, and there was a rain shower in the early afternoon.  There was a breeze today which has been a welcome change. Ironically, the weather would have made for a nice park day. Still, the kids were really wanting another water park day.

Not much to say about the water park.  We had fun going on slides, swimming in the wave pool and going along the lazy river.

After the water park (and going back to the hotel to get real clothes on) we headed over to Fort Wilderness to have dinner at the Trail's End buffet.  The food was great as always.  The boat ride back in the dark was a little off putting because of the huge swarm of bugs that surrounded the boat the whole time.  Thankfully the bugs mostly stayed on the outside of the boat where the lights were.

Day 15 - Epcot and Moonlight Magic

We slept in this morning and then took the monorails to Epcot.  We arrived around 10am and went on Spaceship Earth.  We had to get a fastpass for it.  It's weird how some of the rides are so much busier these days.  A couple years ago there was never a line for this ride and several others like that.

Anyway, next we went to Soarin' and then rushed to our 11:30 lunch reservation at Tutto Italia.  After lunch the kids did the new Kidcot experience in World Showcase.  It consists of cards from each country that you put in a ziplock "suitcase".  Ziplock sponsors this. Ziplock sponsers cell phone bags at Splash Mountain too. Nice! But not really needed for Splash Mountain. They should sponser shoe bags at the river raft rides.

We also looked for the hidden Remy's scattered around world showcase, but we weren't very good at that (we found 2).  I didn't know we were trying! We went on the Frozen ride (managed to get a fastpass while we were eating lunch).  We also went on the 3 caballero ride in Mexico.

We also went to the circle-vision movie in China (much to everyone else's chagrin.) The best part about that was wandering into a room that displayed info about the Disney Park there. It looked cool and made me want to go!

Zach and Zoe played in a Wreck-it-Ralph themed playground while the others checked out the Food and Wine Festival Pavilion.

Then we spent some more time at the DVC rest area - not sure what it's really called, but it's this nice area above Journey into Imagination where DVC members can sit around, drink some soft drinks and even get a bag of chips or granola bar.  We were mostly just relaxing this afternoon anyway.  We were going to a party at Disney's Hollywood Studios tonight, but it takes too long to go back and forth to the hotel so we decided to stay at Epcot until it was time to head over to the Studios.

Some of them stayed in the DVC area while Jacob, Ella and I went to the Disney/Pixar Short Films in the next building.

By then we were ready to take the boat to Disney's Hollywood Studios, but Ella was impatient so she and I walked there.  It was kind of weird walking through the Boardwalk resort remembering our first day at Disney when we walked to Hollywood Studios - it seems like a long time ago now!

We beat the boat by about 10 minutes.  We met up with the others when they arrived and checked into the Moonlight Magic party.  It's a DVC only party and it was only open to people who had DVC reservations that night, but it was still pretty busy.  (It was available to DVC members without reservations that night too- the window to book was just different.) The party was really nice for being free though.  They gave us each a quick service dinner and drink and unlimited Mickey bars.  All of the rides were open and some of the shows.  Only the Slinky Dog Coaster and Toy Story Mania were busy.  They each took about 20 minutes to get through the line while we were there. The posted times were 45 minutes though, deterring some I imagaine. We stayed until about 11:15pm and were lucky to get squeezed onto the bus.

We took some time to meet BB8. It's rare for us to wait to meet characters, but Zach was really into it and the line wasn't long.

Day 16 - Evening at Animal Kingdom

Even though it's been a LONG trip, it still seems short at the end of it.  Hard to believe that we are going home tomorrow.  It will definitely be nice to get home to our regular routine and some cooler weather, but we will miss it here as well.

After sleeping in after our late night we had breakfast at Kona Cafe (our favorite breakfast place.) It was good as always.  We spent the early afternoon at the pool.  I won't be missing this humid 90 degree weather! The last few days have actually felt cooler even though still reaching 90 degrees. The heat index in the prior days indicated that it felt like over 100 degrees. No doubt!

In the evening we went to Animal Kingdom.  Zachary had his first ride on Expedition Everest which he liked, but wasn't eager to go on again anytime soon.  Now everyone rides it except Ella.  We had a fastpass for Flight of Passage and Kilimanjaro Safari, so we did those.  Had dinner at the Pandora canteena restaurant.  Some weird looking food, but pretty good.  We finished the night with the Rivers of Light show.  None of us liked it.  It was not our kind of thing, plus Zach and Zoe were VERY tired and crabby and we had to sit there for more than 40 minutes before the show started.

I think it would have been a "fine" show if Zach hadn't melted down just as it began. (I mean, really? The wait is finally over-just watch it! Or at least let us!) I finally got Zach to be quiet, and Zoe insisted on laying her head on the popcorn bucket (not watching the show either) and her hair was on me which felt gross in the heat. I don't think I saw any of the show worrying about my Zs instead.