Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Disney 2011!

I'm not sure if anyone really cares about the details or whatnot, about our trip, but its my blog so I'm going to share :)

Our vacation started Tuesday night- we were staying at an airport hotel because our flight the next morning (Wed.) was SO stinkin' early.  Tuesday night, we drove up to Detroit (stopped at Whole Foods for an amaaazing dinner) and checked into a Best Western.  We chose a hotel that has a park & stay package- I HIGHLY recommend this for anyone who is traveling and has an early flight.  We saved big on parking and we didn't have to wake up at 2 AM to make our flight.  I think the total for room and 10 days of parking was around 100 bucks.  Airport parking alone for 10 days is around 80 (I think its $8.00 a day) so anyways, if you're heading out on vacay soon (ahem, Leslie:) look into some parking/hotel packages ;)

Okay, this is something that I haven't disclosed until now.  It's embarrassing for sure.  But we missed our flight.  Yup, we missed our 6 AM flight out of Detroit, even though we were staying a mile away from the airport.  How, do you ask?  We showed up TWO HOURS before our flight, but stood in line for about an hour and a half- NO JOKE.  When we finally got up to check in, the guy said we were too late for that flight.  I instantly started crying.  And then complaining.  For real?  We got here TWO hours before our flight and stood in this giant line and now WE have to pay for it???  Ugh.  I hate flying.  The news got even worse.  Spirit had no open flights for the rest of the day... so we'd either have to come back the next day or book with a different airline.  I argued for as long as I could possibly argue for, but the man wasn't budging.  Apparently somewhere in your travel confirmation crap they send you it says to arrive at the airport THREE hours ahead of time... so this was "our fault" and therefore Spirit wasn't covering a penny of it.  We hauled our luggage and kids from airline to airline counter, asking for a flight to Orlando.  We "lucked" out (can you call it that after you've been royally screwed?) and US Airways had a flight to Orlando at 9 or something, and it was "only" 150 a person... we really had no choice.  We did weigh the options about returning to DTW the next morning versus spending 500+ bucks on extra airfare- but it would have cost us more in the long run to have driven back home, driven back to the airport the next morning and have missed a night at Disney. 

After we had our airfare all squared away, we relaxed a little bit.  Our US Airways flight was going to Washington and then to Olrando.  Call me crazy, but I was kind of excited to have a quick lay over in Washington.  I'd never been to that airport and I keep a running list of airports I've visited.  We rode on the smallest plane EVER for our flight from Detroit to Washington, but I actually ended up liking that flight a lot.  It was a little more bumpy but we had front row seats, meaning we could let the kids down for a little room.  I was kind of sad to get off that plane.  Washington was pretty cool- did you know that from the airport you can see the Washington monument and the capital building? 

Around 2 PM or so, we FINALLY made it to Orlando.  Something about the sun gives me this instant burst of energy.  I was dragging from being up so early and walking around airports all morning, but as soon as I stepped out into the awesome weather, I was good to go... and so were the kids!

We headed down to the magical express- my mom had offered to pick us up from the airport, but I told her to meet us at the hotel because I really wanted Maeve to experience the magical express.  It's not incredibly great or anything, but its a good start to a Disney vacation.  Maeve was beyond excited to watch the little movie about how to check into your hotel, get into parks, etc.  She was shouting out every character that came onto the screen... "There's Donald!  OH MY GOODNESS I SEE MICKEY!" 

We were really excited to be staying at Disney's Coronado Springs.  It's a "moderate" resort, so I was thinking better food, better pool, etc.  Now, very rarely do I have things to complain about when it comes to Disney, and I almost feel like I'm betraying them by writing this, but I want to give you the honest truth... Coronado Springs would probably be the last on my list of resorts to stay at.  :( I know, sad!  But here's why (bullet style):
  • the resort is out of control HUGE.  And somehow we got put in the building that was as far away from the main building as you could get. 
  • the resort is a convention center (I had no clue) and of course, they were having this huge convention (for tools or something- bleh) while we were there.  It was packed- and not with cute little kids sporting Mickey mouse ears, but instead, drunk adults who were on this business trip thing.  Not cool.
  • the food is not my style.  It's a Mexcian themed resort, and I do like Mexican food, but not 24/7.  I cannot wake up and eat a Mexican burrito, and then nachos for lunch and enchiladas for dinner.  
  • it's about 5 minutes closer to the Magic Kingdom than the Pop Century resort- and that was the main reason we chose it- we thought it was way closer to the MK, but nope- just a mere few minutes. 
If I could do it over again, I'd save a hunk of money and stay at the Pop Century.  I personally, love that hotel.  I love all the food options and I love how its super kid friendly.  Anyways, that's my beef with Coronado Springs.  Everything else about the resort was great- the pool, the rooms- BEAUTIFUL.  :)

We had a red carpet greeting when we arrived at the hotel.  My mom and grandma were both waiting there to grab the kids and help with anything.  It was great!  Ryan and I checked into the hotel and squared away all of our dining reservations while the kids were running around with my mom. 

The first night we were there, we checked out the hotel.  I am not exaggerating a bit here when I say it was a 3/4 of a mile walk from our hotel room to the main building.  So we ended up doing a LOT of walking that night.  We saw the pool (have I mentioned that was amazing?), the kids played on the playground, which was also super cool and then we walked the frickin mile up to the food court to eat dinner.  We ate at the Mayan Grill, which was pretty good- but you guessed it, ALL Mexican!  (I really should have done some more investigating before booking this resort ;)  I think the kids ate bread that night- they're not big fans of salsa and/or anything spicy.

We got back to the room a little after 8 or so, and the kids passed right out.  Disney does that to kids- even if you don't go to a park- the magic of the whole place wears them out... that's what I think anyway.

The next morning we had breakfast at 1900 Park Fare.  This was by FARRRR my favorite breakfast.  It was amazing, fantastic, awesome, incredible, and any other great word you can think of.  It was my first time eating there, so it was just as exciting for me as it was for the kids.  If you have little girls, I'd definitely suggest this character breakfast.  It's different from others, because its a bit more "fancy"- and you get to meet Alice and Mary Poppins :).  Maeve was in another world, seeing and meeting the characters.  And while, she doesn't look too thrilled in the photos, she really was.

Besides the characters, breakfast itself was divine.  Ryan had smoked salmon and lobster egg Benedict.  I stuck with Mickey waffles and sausage...

After breakfast, we spent our first day at The Magic Kingdom.  I had the highest expectations for our first day there.  I was expecting tears of joy from Maeve as she walked in and saw the castle, and squeals of delight as we rode on the rides...  I seemed to have forgotten she's a year older and a year wiser since we last went to Disney.  She did love the castle- she really did, but as for the rides?  Umm, this was our riding schedule:  teacups (which I sat out on), Dumbo, It's a Small World and the carousel.  AND THAT'S IT.  She wouldn't even go NEAR "Snow White," or "Peter Pan" or any of the other classic rides.  We tried forcing her on Pirates of The Caribbean and ended up ditching it half way through the line.  You would have thought we were taking her to a torture chamber or something...

I think both Ryan and I felt a little defeated, that we were going to be riding the same 4 rides over, and over and over again... so we headed back to the hotel for naps- praying that after a good rester, she'd be up to doing a little more.

I think we made it back to the Magic Kingdom by 6 or so, and unfortunately, Maeve stuck to her guns.  We rode "It's a Small World" and the carousel, back to back for about 2 hours.  I kept telling myself that this trip was for the kids- and if riding "small world" over and over and over again made them happy, then whatever.  One thing I was really looking forward to was the big fireworks show and electrical parade.  Maeve lovvved the electrical parade, but as soon as she heard the first loud "BOOOOM" from the fireworks, she was on the ground screaming.  Embarrassing?  Yeah, a little.

We booked it out of the park and made it back to the bus.  That night, around 2 AM or so?  Maeve woke up in her sleep, sat up on the bed and said "NO FIREWORKS MAMA!" and then passed back out.  Whoops... apparently that was traumatizing for her.

Friday, we declared it to be "Epcot" day.  We had breakfast reservations again- but this time at "Chef Mickey's"- another AWESOME place :)   The kids had a blast meeting Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto and I took advantage of the "all you can eat" waffles, pastries, fruit, eggs, etc.  OH MY YUM.

After breakfast, we took the monorail to Epcot.  I had good thoughts for Epcot- I was thinking "Finding Nemo" would be a huge hit.  Also, it was the garden and flower festival, so around every corner, the incredible Disney gardeners had created huge flower/plant statues of characters.  Very cool :)

True to Maeve form, as soon as she realized "Finding Nemo" was a darker ride, (meaning not out in the open) she refused to go.  We dragged her on it, literally kicking and screaming, thinking that once she rode it, she'd love it and we'd be over this "I'm not riding anything," hump.  She did not like it.  In fact, she ruined the ride for anyone around us... again, very embarrassing... but it was then that we decided we were done pushing it.  If she didn't want to ride, we wouldn't ride.  And that's pretty much how the rest of the trip went.

We found a splash pad at Epcot and the kids played in that for about an hour.  They loved it.  We had brought their suits and swim diapers, hoping that we could push for a little longer of a day (not having to go back to the hotel).  But its seriously just NOT possible or practical with kids this age.  We were back at the hotel by 2 or 3 and the kids were zonked again. 

My parents (and sister and brother and grandma!) got into Orlando Friday night.  It was so much fun :)   It felt like I was a kid again with my family there!  They came to our hotel room and brought us goodies (milk, juice boxes, snacks and diapers) and we sat and caught up for a bit.  They were staying at Fort Wilderness which is kind of on the other side of Buena Vista, but its the only resort that has big enough rooms to fit the whole fam.  Maeve decided she wanted to spend the night with Nana (big surprise, huh?), and we were all scheduled to meet the next morning for breakfast.

Saturday was Magic Kingdom day #2 for us.  My mom has this spell over Maeve-  I was really hoping she could persuade her to join in on the fun.  It didn't work.  BUT, what was really, really awesome about having my parents there, was that my grandma and mom took Maeve on her rides and we (Ryan, Henry, me, dad, Alec and Emily) got to do everything else.  I of course sat out any of the thrill rides, but I did get to do Pirates, Buzz Lightyear, and a few others that Maeve would never do.  We ended our Magic Kingdom night with dinner at the Kona Cafe- at the Polynesian.  SOOOOOO wonderful.  If I ever hit the jack pot, I'll dole out 300 bucks a night to stay at the Polynesian- it's like Hawaii- but in Florida. 

After dinner, we all headed back to the MK to finish out our night.  We watched the electrical parade again (can you ever watch it too many times??? :) loaded up on the best rice crispy treats and cupcakes EVER, and enjoyed the much-less crowded park.  We were able to walk onto most of the rides which was great.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast reservations at "The Crystal Palace."  Another one of my fave. places.  This was a winnie the pooh themed breakfast, and once again, the kids loved it.  It was a ton of fun to eat at a giant table, just like the old days at Disney (with all 5 of us kids) and to talk about our schedule for the day.  We decided to do Epcot again, because we really, reallllly wanted to ride Soarin. 

We spent the entire morning (or late morning, rather) waiting in line for Soarin.  It was a 90 minute wait (OUCH!) but it was worth it.  :)  After riding, we broke off into two groups:  one group went to ride all the big thrill rides (I couldn't ride any) and the other group went to get ice cream... haha guess which group I chose?  After everyone had done their riding (and eating), we all went on the ride in the giant ball- I think its called "Planet Earth?"  Anyways- Maeve loved it- which is so weird, she calls it the "Epcot People Mover"- and this became her new fave.  At least its way more entertaining than the carousel.

We walked around the world showcase for the rest of the afternoon.  That has got to be one of my favorite things/places at Disney.  I could spend a whole week just visiting all the different countries and restaurants.  Ryan and I ate in Norway, my dad and brother ate in China, and my mom, sister and grandma at in Mexico.  We all met at this picnic area after we had gotten our foods- it was way too fun :)

Sunday night my parents had to leave :( booooo.   It was really sad to see them go, even though we'd be seeing them on Tuesday.  Maeve had a hard time understanding how Nana was there one minute and gone the next. 

Monday morning we had breakfast at "Ohana's" which is at the Polynesian.  To be totally honest, it wasn't my favorite.  If Iwere going to make breakfast reservations again, I'd leave Ohanas off the list.  It was fun for the kids- and Maeve loved seeing Lilo and Stitch, but I wasn't really digging the food.  We decided that Monday would be our "off" day- meaning, we would spend it at the pool- because, after all, we had spent the extra money for this great pool, and we wanted to swim in it at least once!  It always turns out to be, that our "off" day is one of the best days.  We had a blast with the kids in the pool.  We ate at our hotel, relaxed, took naps, walked around, steered clear of crowds!  We did get a memo that the Magic Kingdom was open until midnight, and we kind of thought it was a shame to waste an entire park ticket.  Around 8 or so, we packed the kids up and headed back to the Magic Kingdom.  It was FAAAAA-REEEEZING.  We only lasted a couple of hours, but we did manage to do all of Maeve's faves again.  And yes, we caught the electrical parade for the 3rd time.

Tuesday came way too soon.  I remember leaving the Magic Kingdom Monday night and thinking, "there is NO WAY this vacation is over- we haven't even made it to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom!"   But sadly, it was :(... 

I think this was my first time going on an all-Disney vacation, that we didn't visit each theme park.  It definitely feels like we missed out a little bit.  It doesn't matter if I've been on the "Great movie adventure ride" 100000 times, if you're at Disney, it's really a must!  I was definitely bummed we had missed that (and the little mermaid show, and toy story, and beauty and the beast, and the jungle safari, and the lion king... etc. etc. etc.)  On another note, we spent a lot of time at Epcot, which we hadn't ever really done before.  We saw new things and really got to tear that place apart. 

All in all, it was magical, and something only Disney can be- that goose bumpy feeling that everything in the world is PERFECT- even if its just for a few minutes. ;)

For our next Disney vacation (yeah I'm already thinking about it)... we'll hopefully be living in Florida (YES- I realize I am the girl who cried "FLORIDA!"  But really, for REAL, this time- I am pretty sure we'll be down there by October).  Living in Florida will open up new doors for our Disney dreams- first off, there's this thing called Florida residency!  YEAH BABY! :)  Huge discounts on tickets!  Also, since we'll be within driving distance of Disney, we won't have to spend any moolah on airfare.  With all this in mind, I'm thinking 3-4 days at Pop Century with a 2 day hopper would suffice for the year.   And here's why- hopping from park to park for 7 days with kids under the age of 3, isn't fun.  It's just not.  Disney is too overwhelming for youngins (and for adults- especially preggo adults!)  I think next time we go, we'll pick TWO parks to completely explore, and give up on trying to see everything at every park.  And yes, the Pop Century is a fabulous resort- not only for the cost, but in general.  Unless you can afford to plunk down the big bucks to stay in a MK resort, I'd pick the Pop Century. 

That's it!  That was our trip and my guide to Disney :)  I hope you ALL get to take a super magical Disney vacay at some point- it's seriously the best!

I have way more pictures, but I've been so beat lately... I'm sure you'll see more pop up over the course of time :)

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Erin Stomber said...

You have the cutest kids ever!!!

Angie B said...

always love reading :)

Leslie Collins said...

Great recap~Love the pic's, as always. Your mom and Grandma are just too sweet.

You know...I was a little curious why you were on a little puddle jumper plane. That explains it! Oh, my. :) Definitely an experience.