Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Year In Review: 2010

At the end of each year I often take a moment to reflect on the year. I usually don't post it on my blog, but for some reason I feel that 2010 should be documented. Maybe I just want to have a place to look back at how far I've come and what I've made it through. (Honestly I wrote this weeks ago and have been debating posting it for a while.)

Because this is public, I'm not going into the nitty-gritty, and honestly, I'm omitting some stuff. By the end of the post though, I think you'll understand why I'm ready to move on to 2011.

I started my year with a broken heart. It was my first broken heart. The kind that you read about and aren't sure are real. You know the ones: girl lying in bed crying, walking around weeping, sobbing in the shower, unable to really get dressed, to eat, or even to unpack her suitcase. That was me. I'd fallen in love with a man who lived on the Jersey Shore, and I flew to NYC to see meet him and hopefully plan for our future together. I'm not going further into it except to say I flew home the same day with my dreams of marriage completely dashed and my heart being impossibly broken.

With that broken heart though, I grew closer than ever to my sister, LaRae, and best friend, Tracy, who were waiting for me at the airport late into the night when I returned. They took me to Denney's and listened as I recapped the day. Tracy came and made me unpack my suitcase days later when I couldn't face it. I also learned a lot about myself; major things like what I want in life and who I really am. Good came from the bad.

Somehow I got over all that drama (and believe me when I say that's the short story that I actually don't mind putting out there). For my 27th birthday in February I got the *best* present ever: food poisoning! (Please tell me you read the sarcasm there.) I was literally in bed, sick as a dog, on my birthday. The one day a year where a single gal gets celebrated I thought I was dying. So violently ill that a blood vessel in my eye busted and a bunch busted around my eyes. I looked like a druggie when I headed back to work the next day. *ugh* Yeah, I can't put a positive spin on that. Well I got to have my birthday off from work. There. That was good I guess. :-/

From there I thought my year was looking up. I put myself on some online dating sites after two or three months, and I met a great guy... he might be reading this, so I'm going to not really going into it, but I will say that I made an amazing long-distance friend who I hope will be in my life, at least electronically, for a long time.

I started running and feeling like maybe I could be a real runner and do a half marathon at some point. But then my foot started hurting. I mean like limping, had to stop running which I was really enjoying, could not walk... hurting. After my doctor misdiagnosed my foot, I went to a foot doctor who said I had a bone spur. It only took about 5 flare ups over about 4 months including the entire summer before I had a diagnosis. BUT it was something I was able to get under control, so life was good. :) I don't mind being sick as long as I know what it is, am working towards healing, and finally heal.

Summer 2010 was interesting. I realized I wasn't tied down, so after a month of daily swims with Tracy & Meg or LaRae & the kids, Sprinkles and I hopped in my car (with Tracy) and headed across the country to Georgia to spend a month there. The summer brought lots of amazing memories: climbing over the front seat to trade seats with Tracy on the side of the highway in a monsoon, going to World of Coke (twice), spending a girls' weekend in Florida on the beach with Kat and Kelly, going to the family farm (twice) and celebrating my Nana's 90th birthday. It was a great summer, but I was ready to be home when the month was up! I learned another important lesson this summer: being home in GA for a month is too long. I LOVE my parents, but it was crazy. Sprinkles took the summer to learn more English than I ever thought he'd ever understand. Seriously. You'd be surprised what that wee (now fat) pup knows!

You all know what happened after the summer though, right? I started off my 6th year of teaching high school math with a killer sinus infection and then the Headache of Doooooom came on and lasted for 3 months. (Right now it's pretty much gone, so it's really looking up.) It took me on a journey that I never thought I'd have to go through or was strong enough for. I tried accupuncture even though I am deathly afraid of needles. I went to doctors' appointments 2-3 times a week and still balanced work in there. It consumed me, but honestly I now know what chronic pain is and how it can ruin your life. I learned that there isn't much pain worse than a chronic headache too. I will take any other pain over it.

During the time of the Headache of DOOOOOM I had an *amazing* trip to Walt Disney World. I made more memories there than I can ever share on my little blog.

So now I sit here writing this, and I reflect on it all. I've grown so much, and everything has been just another experience. The year wasn't all bad at all, but it had its huge bumps along the way. I've learned a TON:

I've learned that age isn't just a number.

I've learned that you can fall in love with someone intellectually but it still may not work out. I've learned that falling and loving hard makes the heart break harder, but it's worth it.

I've learned that just when you think you're at the brink of not being able to take any more, God gives you strength to keep going.

I've learned that life does go on and that the world keeps spinning.

I've learned that people are put in your life for different reasons, and if you look for those reasons, it's a little less painful when you realize they were there to help you grow.

I've also learned that family is constant. Well I always knew that, but some times more than others make me realize it again. Family loves and supports no matter what, and despite our flaws and fights, I couldn't ask for a better one.

So where am I as I head into 2011? Well right now I'm still recovering from pneumonia (no joke), but hey that's just another life experience I can cross off my list, right? I mean, if I were Laura Ingalls Wilder, that illness could have killed me. How awesome is modern medicine?

Seriously though, I'm looking forward to putting 2010 and its hurts behind me and moving in to 2011 on a positive note. I'm looking forward to good changes (which I'll let you know about as they come), and I'm looking forward to the unknown. So if I reply to your tweet or your facebook status with some obnoxiously positive spin on your whine, or I reply in that annoyingly optimistic way, just know it's because I honestly do try to look for the good in things. I don't just put positive spin on it all for my blog. When "bad" things happen, I immediately try to find the good in it (for my sanity and) because I believe Romans 8:28 when it says "we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

WDW Trip Report - Things I’ve Never Done at Walt Disney World (Still)

Before my trip blogged a list of things I’ve never done at Walt Disney World. I crossed a TON of those off of my list, but I still have some things I haven’t done:

Magic Kingdom• Main Street Vehicles (you know the horse drawn cars)
• Stitch's Great Escape (one of the only things on this list I refuse to do)
• Magic Carpets of Aladdin (It's Dumbo on a carpet...)
• Tom Sawyer Island (I saw a ton of this from the Riverboat. I’m good.)

EPCOT• Captain EO (Wasn’t sure I’d make this anyways.)
• Ellen's Energy Adventure (No one else was interested.)
• Lots of shows/movies: O Canada, Reflections of China, and Impressions de France (One day I will go back and spend a day watching all these.)

Disney's Hollywood Studios• Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
• Journey Into Narnia
• Lights, Motors, Action!
• Sounds Dangerous
• Studio Backlot Tour (The kids hated DHS and weren’t into the shows. One day I’ll do these.)

That still looks like a lot, but here’s all the stuff I took off of the list and my impressions of them:

• Astro Orbiter (I rode this twice and loved it both times! The view was great!)
• Liberty Square Riverboat (It was quite peaceful. I’d go again if I needed a rest.)
• Splash Mountain (Ponchos are a must if you don’t want to get wet. I was so worried about the final drop that I missed a lot. Eager to do this again.)
• Hall of Presidents (I’ll wait until they add a new president. It was pretty dull. I enjoyed The American Adventure much more.)
• Tiki Room (This was highly entertaining, a good resting stop, and fun!)
• Swiss Family Treehouse since I hadn't been since HS. (This exhibit needs cleaning and fixing.)
• Test Track (Rode it once and enjoyed it, but it’s not a new favorite for me. I’d ride it again.)
• American Adventure (This made me tear up. America has come a long way in a short time.)
• IllumiNations (Nothing beats Wishes for me, but this was amazing! From this point on I will always make time to see this. I need a better view next time though.)
• Playhouse Disney Show (I’ll go again if the kids want to, but I was a little bored.)
• Voyage of the Little Mermaid Show (Felt fast forwarded. I liked the rain and effects, but I felt like I was constantly getting misted with water and got pretty cold.)
• One Man's Dream (I needed more time in this exhibit. So much cool stuff! If you are a true Disney fan, you need to make time for this to see the history.)
• Fantasmic! (It will be years before the kids are brave enough for this show, but we loved it! I’d go see it again, but I’m not sure I’m willing to wait in a 2 hour line for it.)
• Animal Kingdom – I’m not listing the things I didn’t do yet, but I did a TON here for only a half day in the park. It was fun, and I’d love more time to explore it. I’m not going to say it’s my favorite but it tops Hollywood Studios for me now. I’d like to go back when I’m not as tired and see the shows there.

I can’t believe how much I took off my list and how much is still on it! I can’t wait to go back and finish marking things off my list. I mean, what better reason is there to go to Walt Disney World than to strive for completeness? ;-)

So there you have it: my trip report is complete. Hope you enjoyed reliving the journey with me!

WDW Trip Report - When Are You Going Back?

When I return from WDW, people always ask me, "when are you going back?" Before I answer that, I want to take a second to give a shout out to the Disney Community on Twitter (which @Drantis82 really opened my eyes to). You all made my Disney Vacation so much fun! The whole time I was at WDW I tried to take pictures and tweet them or randomly tweet things going on in the Parks because I knew it was the little bit of magic I could share with all of you. It was even more fun when you all responded to me and retweeted me at times! When some of you go to WDW I look forward to the tweets and the twitpics you provide because for that one second when I read your tweet or see your photo, I’m there with you. I hope that magic happened for all of you while I tweeted. You are part of the reason I’m writing this trip report because I like sharing the pixie dust!

That out of the way…I love going to Walt Disney World with my family. This makes the third trip I have made with them, and I would go again if they’d have me. However, next trip I have some different plans.

While on the trip I realized I’ve been spending part of my life waiting. I’ve been waiting for Prince Charming to come sweep me off my feet and take me to a Deluxe Disney World Resort on our honeymoon. Honestly, that may not happen, and waiting is foolish. I mean I've built up a lovely home around me with nice furniture, decorations, my own china dishes, and such all based on the principle that I don't have to wait for a wedding to have nice things. Why is WDW any different?? I’ve decided I have a couple of options for my next trip:

1. We have family friends that live very close to WDW. They’ve said I can come stay with them for free, borrow a car for free, come and go as I want, and go to WDW from there. That would save me a TON of money, so if I have a WDW itch that I really need to scratch, I’ll go back in that style next time. I love our friends down there and would enjoy staying with them, and best of all I know they really would love to have me.

2. My long term idea is to save enough to go back and stay at The Contemporary for 4-5 nights. Who needs Prince Charming when you can go solo?

Next time I want to sleep in (except the day I go to Magic Kingdom for Rope Drop), enjoy a few morning attractions and lunch, head “home” to rest during the hottest part of the day, and then go back to the Parks and stay late each night. That way I could go during summer and still enjoy my time there. I love the Parks at night, and I’d like to not be so tired by the end of the day that I can’t enjoy that time.

So there you have it. I have a plan. I’m not sure how long it will take me to save for The Contemporary, but one day I’ll stay there. It’s my style. I love that the monorail goes right through it, and the close proximity to Magic Kingdom is a definite plus. (I am willing to bring someone with me on my trip if a friend wants to join me or Prince Charming does come along.)

I do want to go to Disneyland sometime. I think it would be neat to see where it all began, but of course that's a completely different undertaking...

Last post in my Trip Report - Did I finish all my "haven't dones"??

WDW Trip Report - Day 8 - May I Go Home Now? (and How We Beat The Crowds)

My flight was much later than the rest of my family’s flight, so I slept in a little and left the room later than they did. While they headed back to EPCOT (which I kind of wish I did), I went back to Magic Kingdom. I know this sounds lame, but I really wanted a picture in front of Cinderella Castle with the Partners statue. I think it’s a gorgeous and touching piece of art, and I’ve never gotten that shot before. I also wanted to do a few “haven’t dones” from my list.

I’ve been careful not to mention my three month long headache (much) or any major stresses from the trip because those aren’t the things I remember vividly from my trip (or want to remember). My headache actually went away until about Wednesday, and by Saturday it was coming back in full force. I’d been nauseous since Thursday evening, and by this day I was really not wanting to eat at all. It didn’t make for a super enjoyable day in the Parks, but I braved it and headed to Magic Kingdom anyways. Honestly if I hadn't been feeling so sick, it would have been an amazing day.

After getting my photo made (and eating a couple of chocolate covered strawberries), I decided to go see the Hall of Presidents. It was interesting but not a “must do”. I also rode the Liberty Square Riverboat.

I wanted to go walk around on Tom Sawyer Island, but I saw so much of it from the Riverboat that I was ok skipping it. I got quite a few more photos with the PhotoPass (which I haven’t much mentioned yet, but I got pictures as much as I could using it since we ordered the CD). That photo above is really the only one I have from that day. Others are on the PhotoPass which I'll post on Facebook soon.

After that I was so nauseous, I went back to the resort to try to eat lunch and doze in various spots I could find until time to get on the Magical Express back to the airport.

The flight home was uneventful, and Sprinkles was overjoyed when I walked in the door. Our trip was amazing, but I was happy to be home, in my own bed, with normal food again.

Since there’s room in today’s post, I’m going to take a minute to explain how we handled the crowds and NEVER had more than a 25-30 minute wait. My sister is amazing. She knew that if our Fast Passes said to return between 1:30 and 2:30, we could go anytime after 1:30 and still go through the Fast Pass line. Also, we paid good attention to the times we could go get a new Fast Pass, so whenever that happened, off Randy went to gather more for us. (Seriously, thanks a TON Randy!) The mornings we spent by first getting a Fast Pass to a big ticket ride and riding a ride that gets a long line later in the day. Then we’d ride some shorter line rides (like Small World), enjoy lunch, grab another set of Fast Passes, and go back to the resort for nap time. When we came back from rest time, we’d get another set of Fast Passes, and then we would ride all our Fast Pass rides (typically 2-3 rides) and a few more shorter line rides. That way we never had to wait in a long line.

People told me that the crowds would be HUGE over Thanksgiving week, and they were right. They also told me that I wouldn’t really notice the crowds because we had a touring plan, we knew the Parks well, and we knew what we wanted to do. They were more than right there. The only time I noticed the crowds was during shows and fireworks. Otherwise, I’d walk by 70 minute lines and giggle because I knew I had a Fast Pass or that I’d already enjoyed that ride earlier in the day.

I would definitely return to WDW during a holiday season. It doesn't scare me. I do greatly enjoy the off-peak season more though since all the ride are pretty much walk on rides, but the decorations at Christmas are phenomenal and worth going to see. I'd like to go at Halloween sometime.

Having a good touring plan, understanding how the crowd moves and how to get ahead of them, is a MUST. Understanding and using the Fast Pass system is another MUST. Disney World is never over-crowded if you know what you’re doing. People that leave complaining often forget that they’re in charge of their own happiness. Disney World didn’t sign up to make you have more logic or sense. ;-)

A few meals I didn’t mention:

The Tangeriene Café in Morocco was amazing and a change from the ordinary. I really enjoyed trying something new! I've got hummus in my fridge right now because I learned to love it in EPCOT.

The honey mustard (in the pumps not the packets) was like nectar of the gods for me the entire trip. I now know that the honey mustard at Whataburger is the closest to WDW around here. :)

The Sunshine Café in the Land Pavilion gives you so much food, and it’s as good as any home-cooked meal! I could eat there forever! Mom and I shared a meal there, and I was more than full by the end of it.

The Boulangerie Patisserie in France is my favorite place for a snack. Hands down.

In the food court in our resort you could get a chicken alfredo dish that was one of the best things I ate at Disney World.

No other food places stand out (that I didn’t mention elsewhere), so I’ll leave it at that, but I felt like those deserved a mention.

Next Post - I answer the question "when are you going back?"

WDW Trip Report - Day 7 - Wait! This is a Rollercoaster?!

Magic Kingdom’s Rope Drop is one of the most magical moments at Disney World. You enter the gates but wait outside of the entrance a bit, so you can see the Magic Kingdom Railroad Depot. When MK opens, the train drives up with various Disney characters riding it. The Main Street Singers/Dancers sing and welcome you to MK. Everyone sings along and gets a little misty-eyed... oh wait... that's just me? Ok... awkward... moving on. Needless to say, I look forward to it every trip and was NOT going to miss it this year. We made it with time to spare and (I) sang along as we were welcomed into the Magic Kingdom. Mom and Dad joined us for our final full day in the Parks, and they were excited to see all of the Christmas decorations with us.

Joshua, still holding on to the idea that Aunt Joanna was a racecar driver before she was a math teacher, decided to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway with me. I think the jig was up after the ride because those cars are ridiculously hard to drive without bumping all over the place! We spent the morning in Fantasyland riding Small World and the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. We also walked though the Swiss Family Treehouse and relaxed in the Enchanted Tiki Room. The Astro Orbiter and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (which I kind of sucked at this year) were highlights, and Katelyn got to see Woody and Jessie. All in all we got a lot done in the morning before we headed back to pack during naptime.
We ate lunch at Pecos Bills - I think - which was the absolute last full meal I ate before I pretty much went on a hunger strike because I couldn't stomach even the idea of food. Not sure if it was the return of the Headache of Doom or if it was sadness over leaving soon, but food was not good after this point in the trip.

When we were in Magic Kingdom in 1987 when I was 5, I vividly remember riding Snow White’s Scary Adventure (think they forgot to mention that it was "Scary" back then) and The Haunted Mansion with my dad and being scared and crying through both. I asked Dad to ride both rides with me, so that memory could become a happy one. While everyone else rode It’s a Small World, Dad and I split off to ride Haunted Mansion (walked right on). We laughed through the ride together as I pointed out neat things I read about on And while I still won't ride that one alone, I do really enjoy it after this trip. We got back in time to wave to our family from Pinocchio’s Village Haus as their boat went into the ride. When they finished, they went to the Carrousel again as Randy joined Dad and me for Snow White’s Scary Adventure (he had not been on it since his honeymoon). Both rides were fun and created a nice memory that I’ll hold on to tight.

Forgot to mention when I first talked about Haunted Mansion on our first day at MK that LaRae and I looked up at the right time and got to see our "ghost host". Cool to see something most people miss. Dad didn't see it, but I think that's because his eyes are bad...

We spent a little time in ToonTown walking through Minnie's Country House. After waiting in line about 15 minutes for Goofy’s Barnstormer with the ride swooping around our heads, I boarded in the same car as my mom. As the Barnstormer was pulling out of the barn, she looked at me and quite seriously asked, “is this a rollercoaster?!” We had all forgotten that she hates them! (In fact, back in the 80s she rode Space Mountain by accident, and Dad thought she'd fainted on the ride!) She wailed “I don’t like rollercoasters! Get me off of here! Make it stop!” over and over again for the whole 2 minute ride! By the end we (and most of the line) were laughing at (with) her!

That evening we stayed for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Last time I saw that parade was my band trip in high school. We sat on the ground at the rope for about 45 minutes before the parade, so we’d have good seats. Right before the parade a CM came up and looked at Randy (who is over 6 feet tall), and said, “um, like the kids behind you can’t see, I think, yeah, that you might be blocking them.” Randy stared at him like he had two heads and the CM gave up. I mean, really, when we sat down, no one was behind us. The “kids” were teens who chose to sit behind the tall guy. Sorry. Not moving. I mean it’s not like we were those people who sit right until the beginning and then stand up!

The parade was great! Alice in Wonderland and a few others had an actual microphone, so they were speaking and interacting live with the crowd. That was a really neat touch that I’m glad they added. I love Spectromagic, the usual nighttime parade, but this still had quite a bit of magic. Something about all the beautiful lights, the music, the interaction with the crowd - it just all puts a huge smile on my face and makes me clap like an excited child!

From there we went to stake out a place for Wishes (another highly magical moment). The sky was very cloudy and it was muggy out, so through all of Wishes, the smoke from the fireworks stayed low in the sky. It was a different Wishes experience than I’ve had before, but it was also very beautiful. While I wish the sky had been clear, I still enjoyed the music and magic of the moment. Once again I found myself singing along and smiled as I heard my sister singing along beside me. After Wishes we waited for the crowd to clear and the PhotoPass Photographers to reemerge, so we could get a nighttime photo in front of Cinderella Castle. I had purchased a "Memories" frame that mentioned Cinderella Castle for Mom and Dad for Christmas, so I wanted to make sure I had a photo in front of it for them. On the bus ride home, a child threw up all over our bus. I’m not going to rant about it (stuff happens, but I’m not ok with the mom or how she handled it) because honestly I’d rather forget the experience. I can tell you the story if you ask, but I’d rather not put it out there over the internet. Let’s just say I got off the bus and wanted nothing more than a hot shower and my bed!
All in all it was a great day with lots of rides and fun.

Tomorrow I head back for one last day at Magic Kingdom, so I can get in a few more "never dones". What will those be? ;-)

WDW Trip Report - Day 6 - It's *Just* a Dinosaur!

The Plan said that Magic Kingdom was a definite bad idea for Thanksgiving Day. It also said (really it was quite talkative) that people knew that and were also overcrowding EPCOT, so we decided to go to Animal Kingdom. LaRae and Randy went there on their honeymoon, but the Park had only been open 3 months, so their experience was less than stellar. The kids and I had never been there.

Anticipating this being a Park we’d all hate, we planned to go to Downtown Disney to shop that evening. I was surprised to discover that I LOVE Animal Kingdom. I kinda can't believe I just admitted that because I told my friend Kyle (who's probably laughing at me now for being proved so wrong) numerous times that I realy really didn't want to go to DAK, and I lamented the fact that I was going to *have* to spend time there. The only downfall was that there’s just so much walking, and I was so tired by this point that I didn’t have the energy to spend a full day here.

When we got to the Park, the crowd was very small. I was amazed by how beautiful it was and the differences between it and the other Parks. It's much more spread out and full of lucious greenery and, of course, animals. The entrance is back a ways from the parking lot and has a tucked away feel to it.

The first place we went was Dinoland USA. It’s kitschy and carnival-like and a total surprise theme! We walked on (0 minute wait) to TriceraTop Spin. The kids dug in The Boneyard on their own for a long time. LaRae and I had a 15 minute wait for Primeval Whirl (which was really jerky and not something I’m dying to ride again).
I have to pause here for an anecdote that Randy reminded me hadn't made an appearance here yet. In Toy Story 3, there's a scene at the computer where an IM pops up and Trixie, the dinosaur, hurries to close it and delivers our favorite line: "It's *just* a dinosaur!" LaRae and I say that line all the time. You'd be surprised how many times it's appropriate, especially when you change the word "dinosaur" for something random. Somehow that became our WDW catchphrase: "It's just a tree! It's just a pirate! It's just a princess!" (Gotta say it with Trixie's hilarious delivery though.) Anyways one person would say it, and then it would get repeated and giggled at... a lot. When we were walking into Dinoland USA, Joshua pointed at a big dinosaur skeleton, and before LaRae or I could say anything, Katelyn looked up and said with perfect comidic timing (yeah you guessed it), "It's just a dinosaur!" We about died laughing. I know it's not as funny here, but we said that phrase a TON on our trip, so I had to take time to mention it. :)

We also headed over to ride Dinosaur. I suspend reality a little too easily and too much when I’m on rides (I mean, I was actually *flying* with Peter Pan the other day!), and I’d already had nightmares about this ride. It takes you back in time to go get a dinosaur before the asteroids hit. About a minute and a half before the ride was over I was clutching LaRae’s shoulder crying out, “I don’t like this ride! Can it end now?!” No amount of "it's *just* a dinosaur" was going to comfort me enough to open eyes! Seriously, the photo is below (we’re in lime green in the front). Everyone laughed at me when they saw the picture (and by everyone I mean all the complete strangers standing there)! I doubt I’ll ride it again unless Prince Charming can convince me it’s safe.

Randy had grabbed Expedition Everest Fast Passes for LaRae and I, so we went and rode it next. I really enjoyed it and only wish I’d been in the front car and that I'd known when to expect the Yeti. After the disaster that was Dinosaur, I was a bit nervous about the Yeti, but it wasn't bad. Also, while we went through the Fast Pass line I noticed we were dashing by a lot of neat things on the walls. I don’t think I’d mind waiting for the ride in the regular queue. I’d like to take time to see all that stuff.

After the rollercoaster (the 4th Mountain that we conquered on the trip), the whole family went to ride the Kilimanjaro Safari. I was amazed at how close we were to the animals and took as many photos as I could. It was worth the 30 minute wait. We were in the very back of the vehicle which gave us a great view. The dialogue the driver provides is cheesy but had me laughing the whole time. It’s full of puns, dry humor, and general hilariousness! I think it’s even better than the Jungle Cruise over in Magic Kingdom!

Lunch at the Flame Tree BBQ (another Kyle recommendation) was an excellent Thanksgiving meal. Again, we ate with ducks at our feet which I found to be fun, but Joshua was completely freaked out by it. Afterwards we went back to the resort for a swim before naptime and Downtown Disney.

At Downtown Disney I went CRAZY shopping! I had been looking around the shops the whole trip and had a list of things I’d like to purchase. I split from the group to shop and promised to meet back at Wolfgang Puck Express for dinner. Sadly we had a bit of drama with Katelyn losing her purse (my sister tells the story better than I do), but in the end she found it and all was well. I joined the community of Vinylmation traders, and started buying and trading. What a blast!

Wolfgang Puck Express was the most expensive (but free for us) counter service meal that we experienced at WDW, and it was probably on the list of the better ones we ate. I, however, was starting to feel ill and didn't hardly eat. In fact, I think I ate one full meal after this point before I got home. Enough of the whining though - the food was great!

After dinner, we went to Once Upon a Toy for LaRae and the kids to get special Disney Potato Head parts. CM Kathleen really made our evening magical as she helped LaRae get as many parts as possible in her giant potato head and shared stories with us. (Her stories are the reason I got my Figment Pook-a-Looz.) She was amazing and shared so much pixie dust with us! After that it was time to go back to go to sleep since we were getting up so early for Magic Kingdom Rope Drop the next day.

Tomorrow - we head to Magic Kingdom. Do our "Wishes" come true?

Friday, December 17, 2010

WDW Trip Report - Day 5 - Remember When I Cried Through This?

I have about 5 photos from this day... I know we have a TON from our PhotoPass though, so while I don't have many to post here, there will be a bunch more on Facebook later.

Wednesday was the first day that Mom and Dad joined us in the Parks. We last went as a family to Walt Disney World in 1987. I was 5, and Mickey still wore a rainbow jumpsuit! EPCOT scared me. What part of it? All of it. My father carried me around the Park for most of the trip. I don’t honestly remember much more than crying.

This time there was much less crying (on my part). We started by taking Mom and Dad on The Seas with Nemo and Friends and chatting with Crush in Turtle Talk. We (Randy) gathered Fast Passes for Soarin’, Test Track, and Mission Space during the morning time as well. Katelyn decided to accept a mission from Kim Possible and was entertained with it for a while. Mom and Dad have always had a garden (and both grew up on farms), so Living with the Land was a must do for us. We also journeyed back into our imagination with Figment.

Ducklings in Canada - further proving to me that I want a house with a little pond with ducklings in the backyard

The order of the day gets a bit hazy for me on this day because no one went back for rest time. At some point we headed over to the World Showcase (which LaRae joked that I ate my way through because I tried School Bread, got a baguette and some chocolate crepes, and kept wanting hummus from Morocco). We rode Maelstrom in Norway and the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico. I got a yummy mango and strawberry margarita in Mexico as well. Then we headed around the Showcase starting in Canada and going counterclockwise (since for some reason we always tend to go the other way). The American Adventure was touching and the Voices of Liberty were amazing!

Voices of Liberty

Mom and Dad loved Soarin’, and Joshua took Dad on Test Track later in the day. I took the kids on Nemo again as Mom, Dad, LaRae, and Randy headed over to Mission Space. When we left the ride, Joshua burst into a rousing chorus from the Nemo ride which we all sang quite robustly while walking through EPCOT hand in hand. As soon as we finished he started singing the chorus from Imagination, and Katelyn and I happily joined in. I didn’t care that people were looking. Most were smiling. I was having a blast with my niece and nephew!

Randy and LaRae on one of the boats

By the end of the night Joshua was fading fast and LaRae and Randy weren’t far behind, so they all headed back to the resort for bed. Mom, Dad, Katelyn, and I stayed and rode Spaceship Earth (this time I got to shape our future) and then ran around to Morocco, grabbed dinner there, and watched IllumiNations from there while we ate. It was a beautiful show that I can’t help but think I missed parts of due to our location. I can’t wait to see it again and am glad I stayed.

We were exhausted by the end of the night but content that we’d seen all that we wanted to see. We let the crowds clear quite a bit before we attempted to leave the Park and since we were coming all the way from the back, that wasn’t hard to do. On the way out we got one last photo in front of Spaceship Earth and were thankful that Animal Kingdom wasn’t an “early” day for us tomorrow.

Tomorrow - I really didn't want to go to Animal Kingdom on this trip (or ever, really). Does the park surprise me and make me fall in love with the 4th and final WDW park, or do I leave feeling like I wasted a day?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WDW Trip Report - Day 4 - Hey Look! It's Steamboat Willy!

If you recall our “I Want to go to Disney World” Saturday, you might think it’s odd that we decided to spend another day at Hollywood Studios, but we chose not to purchase Park Hoppers on this trip and wanted to see Fantasmic. In fact, Mom and Dad were staying with some friends in town and said they would watch the kids while the adults had dinner at Hollywood & Vine and then got priority seating for Fantasmic, so we needed to head back to Hollywood Studios on this day. None of us were super excited about it though, so we got to sleep in a little. :) I love DHS, but the kids really didn't this time.

We got to the Park just after Rope Drop. Randy got in the forever long Fast Pass line while Katelyn and I walked through the One Man’s Dream exhibit. It makes me sad that Walt never got to see Walt Disney World. He was such a visionary. (Random trivia - yesterday was the 44th anniversary of his death.) We rode Toy Story Mania again (I won!), and spent the morning at a leisurely pace. We saw Muppet Vision 3D, watched the street show, shopped a bit (which involved exchanging Josh's Mickey that was ripped which really really upset him), and went back to the resort to swim and do laundry.
Laundry and swimming complete, Mom and Dad joined us to visit for a bit and wait for the kids to wake up as the adults went back to DHS for our dinner at Hollywood and Vine. I *love* WDW buffets, and this one was good, but the service was worse than I’d stand for here in Texas. Our waiter, Kyle, didn’t bring us our drinks until about 10 minutes after we had started eating. Then he waited until we had a pile of about 5 plates before he came to take any of them (but I saw him chatting with another waiter in the side of the room during that time). We ran out of drinks fairly fast, and he only refilled them once after we had sat there with them empty for a long time. The service was so opposite of how Chris treated us at Garden Grill the night before, and yet both meals cost about the same (close to $50). It was disappointing, and I won’t go back there.

I will take a minute to mention the food. It was delicious. There was a seafood alfredo that I enjoyed, and for some reason the bread was a real draw for me. I think all WDW buffets have a carving station, and I always love to visit it (multiple times). The beef there was moist and delicious. Once again the salad was a huge winner in my book, but all in all, it just wasn't worth $50 (tax and tip included). There aren't characters there in the evenings, so I personally believe the price of this meal should go down.

The dining reservation came with a ticket for priority seating for Fantasmic, but we still had to head over there about 45 minutes before the show. Our seats were great, and the show (another thing none of us had done before) was excellent. I did feel the storyline was a little disjointed at times, but the Disney magic was strong, and the effects were cool (projections of water, boats with characters, dancing, singing, fireworks, water set on fire). I’ve seen water get set on fire before, but I still thought that effect was exciting. The steamboat at the end was a highlight for me. As it rounded the bend, I jokingly said, “Oh look! It’s Steamboat Willy!” Imagine my surprise when Steamboat Willy really was the one captaining the steamboat! The rarely seen characters on the boat were an added bonus. I’ve never seen Meg (from Hercules) in the Parks, and Randy had no clue who she was.

After the show we went over to Toy Story Mania to use our Fast Passes from the morning. LaRae & Randy rode together and I rode solo (which is honestly the easiest way to get a higher score since no one else is shooting on your screen). I remain the Price/Crawford Family champion!

On the way out we walked by the line to get into the later showing of Fantasmic. It stretched close to the front gates! So glad we did the dining package. Just another one of those things that helped us NOT feel like the Parks were overcrowded. It’s all in timing and planning really.

Tomorrow we head back to EPCOT, but this time Mom and Dad will be with us.

Side note - Every shirt I'm wearing in the photos you are seeing, except the brown one yesterday, I created by making the images in PhotoShop and ironing them on the shirts. Most of LaRae's and the kids' shirts were created the same way with lots of love and time from LaRae and me. The Incredibles shirts were made by us, and the awesome Mick Fury and Minnie Widow shirts LaRae and Randy wore today were also homemade.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WDW Trip Report - Day 3 - Look! The Fountain of Nations is Going Off *Again*!!

Day 3 we went to my favorite park: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT for short). When we walked in the gates, Randy and Katelyn immediately split off to get Soarin’ Fast Passes for us while LaRae, Joshua, and I went to The Seas with Nemo and Friends. On the way, the Fountain of Nations started its show, so we stopped at watched it. I always missed it in 2009, so I was eager to see it this time. LaRae will tell you that this year the fountain was timed to go off every single time we walked by, and that I was so obsessed with it that I always stopped dead in my tracks to watch it. She’s kind of right. It’s a cool fountain!

Return of the Fast Pass Runners!
After Randy and Katelyn met us there, we went through the “Big Blue World” and then chatted with Crush in Turtle Talk. Katelyn was chosen to ask him a question, and asked, “do sea turtles like pizza?” When he asked what she meant (since he didn’t know what pizza was), she misunderstood and said, “I don’t know, my aunt made it up!” We had prompted her on possible questions before the show, so we got a good laugh out of that, and he did tell her what sea turtles like to eat.

My order for the day is a little messed up here, but at some point we rode Journey into Imagination with Figment (both kids sat with me which was awesomesauce). I know there are old school purists who hate the new version of this ride, but I love this one just as much as the original. The song makes me smile, and we all always end up singing along. We played around in the Imagination Pavilion for a while and Joshua particularly had fun with the fountains outside of the Pavilion. (If you can’t tell by now, the fountains at EPCOT are a huge highlight for my family.)

LaRae's hand being eaten by a Figment of her imagination ---^

At some point Randy ran off to get Test Track Fast Passes, and we went around to the Boulangerie Patisserie in France for a snack. I got my favorite Disney World treat: Napoleon and a Baguette with real butter.This is one of the only photos where you will see me with my hair down at WDW. I totally misjudged the Florida humidity and as the day went on, my hair got bigger and bigger (a la Monica on Friends when they went to Jamaica)! By the end I was ready to put it all in tiny braids with beads. ;-)

Katelyn had missed a cheese tasting experience at school when she was out while flying to WDW, so she got a cheese plate and did her own cheese tasting. Her and Josh (all of us really) enjoyed each of the cheeses. I was surprised that she gave each one a chance. It was super cute and a fun experience.

We ate lunch (based on my friend Kyle's recommendation) at the Tangierine Cafe in Morocco. The chicken platter was a yummy change from the burgers and chicken sandwiches we had been eating. My favorite part of the meal was the hummus, and I am definitely a new lover of chickpeas. Katelyn, brave from the success of the cheese tasting, tried and loved the baklava. It's always fun to try new things, and we all left happy and full from this new experience.

We quickly rode Spaceship Earth on our way out of the park (again I rode with Katelyn and had fun watching her “choose” our future at the end). After that it was rest time. All the adults went back to the resort to chill while the kids slept. LaRae and I played a rousing game of Fruit Ninja on my iPad while Randy played something else (not nearly as cool) on his iPad. I could tell you what other games we played, but I'm betting you don't really care, eh? ;-)

We returned to EPCOT in time for our dinner reservations at Garden Grill. Since we had free quick service dining, we only did a couple table service meals (out of pocket) this trip. This experience was my favorite table service by far! The waiter, Chris, was thoughtful and attentive. The food was melt-in-your-mouth amazing: steak and potatoes, grilled mahi-mahi, and turkey with dressing. The salad with greens from Living with the Land was phenomenal, but that might have been because I'd been eating meals of beige so far, and my body was craving green. The restaurant allowed for fun character experiences with the perk of feeling like you were the only ones in the restaurant thanks to the booth set up. The whole spins (very slowly), so part of the time you are actually in the Living with the Land ride. I can’t say enough good about this dining experience. I left full and with a huge smile on my face.

Adding to that smile was something that happened at the bathrooms. I’ve debated writing this, but Randy was a good sport about the event, so I’m hoping he’ll continue to laugh. LaRae and I took the kids to the bathroom as Randy finished paying the bill. The kids were still going/playing around, so I headed out to wait on a bench. (These particular bathrooms you entered the door to the women’s restroom and then went down a kind of hall before you entered the sink area and then the toilets.) As I headed around the corner, I practically ran into Randy as he was about the enter the sink area! Needless to say, we were both surprised to see each other! I quickly exclaimed, “sorry it’s taking a while! We’re coming! You don’t have to come get us!” Both of us, laughing at what just happened and the near miss, exited, and he went off to find the appropriate restroom. :D (Yeah, I'm still laughing about it now!)

After dinner we used our Soarin’ Fast Passes (first time Randy and the kids rode it). Joshua sat by me since Randy convinced him we were shoe buddies and that meant we needed to sit together. See? Our crocs (on the right) are the only ones with straps! Thank you for that, Randy, because it made my evening! For the whole ride, Josh held on tight to the handles on the seats. I think he really thought we were flying. He was adorable as he lifted his feet as we went over water scenes so his shoes wouldn’t get wet. We all greatly enjoyed the ride and left saying how we wanted to bring Grammer and Granddaddy on it when they joined us in a couple of days.

Since we had Fast Passes for Test Track, we went there next. None of us had ever ridden Test Track before, so we had no idea what to expect. We told Joshua that his Aunt Joanna was a racecar driver before she was a math teacher, so once again we got him to sit by me on a ride. I’m not sure if he believed us, but he really seemed to easily accept that story. Through the whole ride, he sounded like that pig in the commercial that goes “wheee” all the way home! So adorable to hear his quiet “whhhhheeeeeeee” the whole ride! We all LOVED Test Track, but Katelyn got really scared by the semi that looks like it’s going to hit you and declared that she never wanted to ride it again. Honestly she conquered two of the Mountains, and I was super impressed by that. Test Track isn’t for everyone. :)

We might have ridden The Seas again, but I’m not sure. We headed home not too early but not too late. By this point in our trip we were all getting tired early. The kids would wake up around 6 every morning, so we easily made Park opening, so by night time, we were ready for some sleep. Honestly though, morning is the best time to get on rides with short lines, so it was ok.

Looking back, we crammed so much into that day without it ever feeling rushed! Tomorrow Disney amazes me again with water as an evil queen sets a lake on fire!

Monday, December 13, 2010

WDW Trip Report - Day 2 - Only Those With Good Attitudes Make It In The Photo!

Finally we were at “Disney World!” The crowds were still fairly low. We *just* missed Rope Drop (the most magical moment at WDW), but we made it to Dumbo with only a 25 minute wait. Joshua was still having a hard time finding his pixie dust, so we joked that in a photo someone took for us that he was cut out (by the railing) because you weren’t allowed in the photo if you had a poor attitude. He was fine after a quick flight with Dumbo though. Katelyn was happy to ride with me even if it meant being stuck with the crazy aunt who maniacally took iPhone pics of the Fantasyland Expansion the whole ride!
Following The Plan we sent Randy for some Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Both kids were tall enough to ride it this year and were willing to try. We went over to try The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The new queue is amazing! It’s interactive and fun. For a ride that tends to get a long wait time early in the day, this switch was genius. The kids had a blast, and we enjoyed watching them. About 20 people passed us in line while the kids played, but we didn’t let their impatience run our enjoyment of the ride. Randy caught up to us, so Katelyn jumped BACK in line to join him. (Notice we didn’t let him line jump in front of all the people in line to be with us… that’s rude.) Joshua was still adamant that he didn’t want to ride with me, but we put him in the Hunny Pot first and I jumped on behind him. Finding me riding with him, he was quite content, and I enjoyed the ride all the more because of it.

While Randy and Katelyn rode Pooh, LaRae, Joshua, and I went over to It’s a Small World. The change in the queue (entrance and exit switched) hurt my head a bit. It just seemed so backwards. Randy was vocal that he didn’t like it as you spent most of your time in line behind the clock and decorations that you used to get to look at while you waited. The interior of the ride was obviously cleaned and re-painted while it was closed for refurbishment. LaRae and I were fairly convinced that they moved some items and changed others. We rode it so many times in 2009 that you’d think we’d know for sure, but we could have easily been wrong.

I’m a little muddled in what else we did this day. I know we rode the Walt Disney World Railroad and the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. At some point LaRae and I took the kids back to the resort for naptime, and Randy stayed to ride some rides that he knew the kids would not want to ride. I ended up napping hard during that time and was happy I went back to the room.

When LaRae and I returned (rested) with the kids, we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (another ride the kids enjoyed but didn’t want to go on again). We also had Fast Passes for Splash Mountain which LaRae, Katelyn, and I rode with ponchos on. Our photo looked like three colorful sacks of potatoes, but we came off the ride dry! Splash Mountain was a fun first for me. We also enjoyed Mickey’s PhilharMagic. (That's me in ToonTown outside of a Character Spot - thanks to LaRae for spotting this fun place for a photo.) Randy kindly took the kids back to the resort for bed, so LaRae and I could ride some of the rides he rode that afternoon. We did Space Mountain (with Fast Passes of course), rode the Astro Orbiter (first time for both of us), drooled over Captain Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean, got some pixie dust to join in on Peter Pan’s Flight, and went through the Haunted Mansion (which I was super brave on this time). It was a lovely night out with just me and my sister that was a highlight of my trip.

On a side note: my camera broke that evening. It started vibrating like a cell phone, but LaRae was kind enough to share her camera with me for the rest of the trip. The photo below is Cinderella Castle from Astro Orbiter with my broken camera. Pretty, right? (No seriously, it's kinda cool...) Also from here on out, I’m not going to mention character meet and greets unless they were particularly memorable. We did have a smattering of meet and greets throughout each day though.

Friday, December 10, 2010

WDW Trip Report - Day 1 - I Want To Go To Disney World!

LaRae and I spent a large amount of time before this trip planning it out. For me that meant PhotoShopping a TON of images for our family to use to make t-shirts, sweatshirts, pillowcases, and window clings. For LaRae that meant pouring over Tour Guide Mike and Touring Plans to make the absolute BEST plan for the Parks that she could that would allow us to ride everything we wanted to ride, see everything we wanted to see, and wait in the shortest lines possible.

According to The Plan, we should go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Day 1. Magic Kingdom was going to be crowded, and we were sure that the kids would understanding waiting to go there. Tour Guide Mike and Touring Plans did not take into account the 3 year old (Joshua) that would spend the day wailing that he wanted “to go to Disney World!!!” It took a minute the meaning of his screams to sink in: to him no Cinderella Castle meant he was not at Disney World. Since we did not want to spend the extra money for Park Hopper tickets, we were stuck at Hollywood Studios, so we made the best of it.

That morning we discovered that Joshua was no longer a fan of meeting the characters. I’m not sure there was any character he was ever happy to go near on this trip, but we’ll revisit this discovery a little later in the day.

Since it was only the Saturday before Thanksgiving the crowds were not bad at all. We were right at the front of the group waiting to go into the Park. We joined in the madness that was the “Toy Story Dash” to get Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania, but we’ll never do that again. It was insanity! Honestly people – the ride isn’t closing for good. I mean, it’s a fun ride, but there’s just no reason for the craziness and the running to the ride.

Early on LaRae and I also split off from Randy and the kids, so we could ride Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster. (They went to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Area.) ToT had a 5 minute wait. We basically walked on. We sat right in the front of the “lift” and laughed while we screamed the entire ride! Nothing is better than laughing with my sister! For some reason the time from the beginning of the ride to the first drop freaked me out, but after that I was having a blast. RnRC had an 11 minute wait when we got off of ToT, so we headed over there and got to ride in the very front of the car. If you haven’t ridden in that seat, I really recommend taking the time to do it. We’re talking cheeks flapping in the wind!

On the way back to join the family, LaRae squirted hand sanitizer down my entire arm. We ended up almost literally rolling on the ground with laughter. We also stopped by Starring Rolls and got one of their HUGE cupcakes. I think I’m a cake snob because I just wasn’t very impressed. While eating, we strolled over to the Playhouse Disney Show. Sitting on the floor isn’t really my cup of tea, but the show was cute. I kept thinking how the hostess does that show a million times a day and how amazingly perky she was.

At some point we convinced the kids to go on The Great Movie Ride. Even I hide my eyes for the Alien part of the ride, so the kids watched me to know when to hide. Katelyn enjoyed the ride but didn’t want to ride it again. Joshua was still wanting to “go to Disney World!”

Randy was bummed that Star Tours was closed, but the Jedi Academy was going on as we walked by. We heard the trainer ask if anyone knew who Yoda was: “he’s small, green, kind of a big deal” and laughed like crazy. Randy actually kind of gravitated towards the JA as if The Force was pulling him there but decided not to participate. :)

The last time we were at WDW, we wanted to eat at Pizza Planet but never ended up there, so this time we ate there for lunch. I don’t know why I order pizza at WDW. It’s always disappointing. We sat upstairs in Pizza Planet and right at the end of our meal, we had a huge surprise! Katelyn was finishing up her pizza crust when a bird swooped out of the rafters, grabbed her crust from her hand, dropped it (because Katelyn’s scream scared it), and flew off! LaRae, Katelyn, and I all screamed and that kind of did it for lunch for us.

We stopped and shopped a little on the way out of the Park as we headed back to the resort for naptime. I did find my Dooney and Bourke purse (the medium Cindy) that I’ve been wanting for months, so that was fun for me. It’s my first (and most likely only) designer bag. Honestly it’s not really about it being designer or not, it’s about how incredibly adorable the bag is. :D

During naptime, LaRae and I took a bus over to Downtown Disney. I needed new Mickey Crocs, and my sneakers were already killing me. Apparently Crocs are on their way out of WDW, so I did not find any there, but we did try the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop. The Cable Car Sundae was a scoop each of dark chocolate, chocolate chip, and rocky road ice creams topped with real whipped cream, a Ghirardelli square, and chopped almonds. It was the best $9 I’ve spent on food! So rich, so creamy, so amazing, and we couldn’t finish it! I wish I had another one right now…

From there we navigated the busses to go back to DHS. LaRae, Randy, and the kids were wearing their Incredibles shirts, so we decided to go over to the Animation Courtyard to get their photos made with The Incredibles. Again, Joshua was NOT into taking photos with characters.

First things first, we headed over to Frozone and Mr. Incredible. I stayed out of the shot to take the photo, but Mr. Incredible had different ideas. He slowly walked toward me, chin slightly down, and beckoned to me with his finger. I laughed and told him I was going to take the photo. He walked closer (very creepily might I add – I mean does Mrs. Incredible know what he does when she’s away?) to silently insist I get in the picture. I told him I was more “behind the scenes like Edna” when he took my hand and pulled me into the photo. Alrighty then… I jumped out after the shot and took one with just my Incredible family and the Mister.

After that LaRae and I ran over to have our photos made with Chip and Dale. Both of us got kisses from the flirty duo and had a great experience. I also stood in line to get the Queen of Hearts’ autograph for Katelyn (and a picture), and Katelyn and Randy got in the long line to see Sorcerer Mickey. In the meantime, Joshua was happily playing with a couple of toy cars he had purchased with his Disney Dollars earlier in the day. LaRae and I stood on a ramp that zig-zagged up half a floor to be able to watch Katelyn and Mickey. Joshua roamed a bit up the ramp and around a pillar from us.

While Katelyn and Randy were in line, all of the characters in the room besides Mickey traded out. LaRae and I enjoyed seeing the new characters enter the room. Pocahontas and Meeko had been near us, so we didn’t think twice when Captain Hook and Smee came out. We figured they would go elsewhere in the room. I was quite excited to see Stitch as he’s one of my favorites. Our attention refocused on Katelyn, and LaRae said, “I think this is the most content Josh has been all day” quickly followed by “OH CRAP!” I turned to see the tails of Captain Hook and Smee’s coats as they strolled past us up the ramp towards Joshua who was playing quietly behind the pillar they were about to round! LaRae ran as fast as she could but the pirate duo had a head start and arrived at the unsuspecting child first.

“WHAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Joshua’s scream echoed through the room! I looked over to see him screaming, clutching his cars to his chest (safe from the pirates), and trying to climb under the railing and across the barrier to me! LaRae scooped him up while Smee covered his mouth with his hands and worriedly turned in circles. Captain Hook was actually starting to flee the scene! That’s right, my 3 year old nephew is one of the only people to have a villain flee FROM him! Through laughter, we comforted Josh, and went to have my picture taken with Stitch.

Stitch gave me a big hug and “surfed” with me for our photo. He was obviously excited to hear he was my favorite and to see the “Super Stitch” shirt that I made and was wearing. Adorable character meet and greet! As I walked away from Stitch, Joshua SCREAMED “I want to go home!” and melted down! He was still so scared he was shaking! (We thought his silence was a sign that he was calming down. Wow were we wrong.) Stitch made it clear that he wanted to know what was wrong, and when we told him, he went over and made faces at and turned around and waved his rear at Captain Hook and Smee! It was hilarious and a great memory (for us since Joshua wanted nothing to do with any of it). The main handler on the floor wasn’t too happy with Stitch for leaving his area, but when we explained, she seemed ok with it.

Shortly after that Randy took Joshua back to the resort while LaRae and I stayed with Katelyn to see The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Does anyone else feel like that show is on fast forward? After that we went back to the resort since we were very tired from our first day in the Parks

Once at the resort it was clear to me that my sneakers were not going to make my feet happy, so I stopped in the resort gift shop to look for Mickey Crocs (which were in every shop in abundance in May of 2009), but there were very few there. :( Chagrinned I went back to the room and mentioned walking to the other All-Star Resorts to look in their shops. Randy, being the awesome brother-in-law that he is, offered to go with me, and we had a lovely (but long) walk to both resorts. It ended with us finding Crocs for me and LaRae. It was kind of nice to see the other resorts and realize we had the coolest pool. I think I was asleep by 9 pm that night. Fun is exhausting!