For Mommy's 30th birthday and a magical family vacation, we sailed the seven seas lagoon to the happiest place on earth! It was the kids' first trip to Disney World!
We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House.
The lodge was every bit as magical as you'd expect!
This is the view from the fifth floor into the lobby.
We stayed in a Vacation Club Villa--a deal on EBay!
The views from our balcony were out of this world--or, at least, out of Africa. Giraffes, Zebras, Ostrich, Antelope, and countless other animals frequented our backyard. Full herds slept outside our window at night.
We spent our travel day soaking in the pool.
And tempting the waterslide.
Both the kids took the plunge! They were so brave!
For our first full day, it had to be the Magic Kingdom. Here's Mommy & Gryffy at Mickey's Philharmagic. The kids' other favorite Fantasyland rides included Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan's Flight. Gryffy made us circle back to Snow White again and again.
Next we were off to Frontierland and Adventureland for the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. (Look at our happy little pirate--he's home!)
Lorelei had a special pampering session of hair, makeup, and nails at Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique inside of Cinderella's Castle. She loved it! The beauticians asked her who her favorite princess was, and Lorelei said "Mommy." The lady sitting next to me thought it was so sweet she started to cry! Her husband remarked there was far too much estrogen in the room!
A sprinkle of fairy dust, and voila!
(Fairy Dust only takes an hour!)
We return to the lodge for a rest, then it's back to the Magic Kingdom in full-on pirate flair!
There were barely any lines all week--I think the longest we had to wait at Magic Kingdom was 8 minutes. Before Wishes fireworks began, we just kept circling back to the front of Buzz Lightyear, our favorite ride in Tomorrowland.
Mommy looks a little intense competing for top points!
Lorelei was game for everything, and pictures prove it!
You can see Mark in the close up of Splash Mountain, with Lorelei's purple head tucked beside him. I couldn't believe she went on that ride four times!
She even braved Big Thunder Mounatin Railroad twice!
Love those tall genes from Grandpa John!
Mommy chose EPCOT for her birthday. She and Daddy spent nearly every weekend here back in 1996-97--brought back loads of memories!
Daddy shows off Canada, his native land.
Lorelei practiced her photography skills on Mommy & Daddy.
La Belle et La Bete en France (the topiaries--Lorelei's Daddy is her Prince Charming).
We ate in Mexico by the river ride.
Lorelei got lost somewhere in a sombrero.
Lorelei got lost somewhere in a sombrero.
When one of the performers heard Lorelei had a penchant for violin, he let her play. She started out with proper bow hand, even.
We got rained out in Norway, and rode the Maelstrom through the land of vikings and trolls at least four times in a row. Good place to be stuck in a storm.
Kids can't decide if they're vikings or pirates.
We ran to China through the squall, and had a surprise visit with the Princess Mulan.
After Spaceship Earth (the big EPCOT ball) and several rides on Finding Nemo, we saw some of our favorite characters...
But our favorite part of EPCOT...?
Germany's Bavarian Biergarten!
The Oompa band had the kids dancing a polka--a definite highlight of the trip! It reminded me of one of my favorite nights in Bavaria--sharing tables and flagons of beer, and dancing with the locals.
They love each other so much--this is joy to my heart!
We ventured to Animal Kingdom on our fourth day.
The highlights of Animal Kingdom were the shows--Lion King and Finding Nemo--and the Kilimanjaro Safari.
We saw an amazing assortment of wildlife; this safari was Mark's favorite part of our trip.
Gryffy and Daddy saw the Tree of Life...
...while Lorelei and Mommy got soaked to the bone on the Kali River Rapids.
Lorelei was definitely the smallest person I saw on the Dinosaur ride. It was terrifying, but that didn't stop her from riding twice in a row!
Lorelei took center stage at a character dance party.
We spent our last full day at Universal Islands of Adventure. It was a nightmare! The lines were long, our family got separated, and we had to endure a very nasty old witch staring daggers at poor Gryffy for making a few peeps in Ollivanders.
Even at the Hogwarts Express, we're not having fun.
But Hogwarts Castle's ride was not to be missed (too bad the kids were too young--they did miss it).
The village of Hogsmeade was truly out of the movie.
But it took a lot of Butterbeer to get us through the day...
Poor Gryffy just got scolded by the old Death Eater lady in line before this photo with Ollivander. Look at his sad face--he's plain tired.
We had a decent lunch at the Three Broomsticks, adjacent to the Hog's Head, and loved the cidery Pumpkin Juice.
Inside the Hog's Head.
Gryffy rode his first rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff. Our little HippoGryffin was scared, but begged to go "again" as soon as the ride stopped. Unfortunately, Mommy and Daddy didn't want to wait in line another 45+ minutes.
Hagrid's hut--looks just like the one at Duke Gardens.
Ah, back to Disney at last! We spent our last night at Disney's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the highlight of our trip! This made up for our squib day at Universal, and then some. We felt like we owned the park!
Besides special spooky shows, character (villain) appearances, and parades, the kids got to go trick-or-treating. They loved it!
The headless horseman was a fright! He kicked off the parade.
This would have been my first job if I hadn't moved to Kansas when I was sixteen--in September of '96, I was hired as a Disney cast member. (Admittedly, though, I'm glad we moved to Kansas--I don't miss living in Orlando!)
A fellow pirate floated by to greet us.
He gave Gryffin John some pirate pointers--see the admiration in Gryffy's eyes?
Avast! A Motley Pirate Crew!
Awaiting the villainous show and fireworks.
A haunted castle after a spooky fireworks display.
We spent our last morning at the beach.
The happiest kids on earth!