Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Disney World 2012

We just took our second trip to Disney World (for the kids, that is... Mark and I, we're probably well past fifty visits from our Florida days, but it's still just as magical as ever).
 This was our second stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  We LOVE this resort for its African safari feel...
 And for the loads of exotic animals that are literally right outside our room.
 Kidani Village, Animal Kingdom Lodge.

 I love the Chihuly glass!
 And dinner at the lodge... it's pretty much a zoo.
Here's the pool area, where we watched movies poolside late into the night.

 We spent our first day at Magic Kingdom.  Lorelei loved trading these pins we got off of Ebay with all the Disney employees.  She sure traded up on some of them (the employees can't refuse, and have to take whatever pins the kids want to be rid of).
 Lorelei's reaction the moment we pulled into Magic Kingdom.  Yeah, she was kind of excited about that.
 Call me Clark W. Griswold (Mark does :o), but of course we had to have matching shirts for each and every park (thanks, Julie Anderson, for the patterns)!

 They let us into the park half an hour before everyone else for a very special appointment...
 Oh yeah, we've joined the Pirate's League!
 First the makeup:
 Then the oath:

 It's a pirate's life!
 Gryffy has been asking to watch the Pirate League YouTube video daily for the past three months and couldn't WAIT to become Multi-eyed Jack Sparrow.

 And Lulu became an Empress of the Seas.
Excuse the blurry picture: 80/80 vision.

 They scared the quack out of that duck.
 And lo, who did we see but Cap'n Jack Sparrow!  He promised Gryffy in Las Vegas he'd be sailing the high seas to see him again.  A man of his word, that pirate.
 Jack was so impressed by his mini-me that he kidnapped him for Pirate Training.
 Highlight of Gryffy's life.

 Yeah, they're buds.  Gryffy and Jack.

 Later they called a large group on stage, so Lorelei got her fifteen minutes of fame, too.

 Daddy treated us to dinner inside Cinderella's Castle.
 Gryffy has a new favorite pose:
 Lorelei loved meeting all the princesses at our table.

 Gryffy channeling his inner Dopey :o)
 There's that pose again.

 We had a view of the Sword in the Stone from our dinner table in the castle, so first thing after dinner the kids had a go.

 Bummer.  That thing wouldn't budge.
 Cinderella's carousel.
 We got glimpses of the new Fantasyland... Beauty and the Beast's castle, Ariel's castle... the thing is massive and will be supercalifragilisticexpialidociously spectacular!
 We finally got to ride the teacups--they were closed last visit.
 So was Small World, a favorite from my childhood in California.
 And after Gryffy braved it, we finally convinced Lorelei to hop on a log down Splash Mountain.  (Okay, so we bribed her.)
 Poor girl.
 But once she conquered it, Splash Mountain was Lulu's favorite ride.
 We had a perfect spot for the fireworks.

 The next day was a hot one at Hollywood Studios.

 I signed the kids up for Jedi Training.  They loved it.

 Even I was terrified of Darth Vader!

 Gryffy's fencing lessons have come in handy.

 And luck, we returned home to find that Grammy had hit a garage sale with dozens of Star Wars toys.
Gryffy was in intergalactic heaven.
 This brave boy was tall enough for the Tower of Terror, and I couldn't just pass one of my favorite rides by...
 Just before we got on the elevator, sporting that oh-so-fashionable Wheel of Fortune fanny pack.
 Gryffy was a bit terrified, but he held his Momma's hand and made it through... duh-duh-duh... the Twilight Zone.
 Day three was at my absolute favorite park, Epcot.  I love that you can travel the world all in one day with very few lines.  
 These girls sewed their dresses.  Aren't they amazing?
 I'm preparing the kids for our trip to Scandinavia in summer 2013.  Mark has a conference in Stockholm and I'm determined this will be a family affair.  
 We love to eat at the indoor restaurant in Mexico right next to the boats.  The candlelight is always relaxing, and it's a great place to cool off mid-day.  Here are the kids before lunch sporting sombreros.
 When Mark and I were dating, we always came to Mark's home and native land for root beer floats.  The tradition lives on.  We loved seeing Chateau Frontenac (in the background) after having been to the real one in Quebec City.  And of course, we had to watch the 360 Vision movie, O Canada.

 But this here was the delight of my trip!  We walked into the American Pavilion, and lo--out came my old Boone High School show choir and chorus teacher, Krista Anderson Abbott.
 She's the lead singer for the Voices of Liberty at Epcot.  Yeah, they're kind of famous.
 Just as much spunk as I remember :o)
 I just loved being part of show choir my sophomore year, so it was such a treat to introduce Ms. Anderson to my kids.  We were all a bit starstruck.
And I couldn't believe it but she told me she reads this blog--she even knew my kids' names!  :o)
So here's a shout out to my favorite choir teacher!
 We scheduled dinner at our very favorite restaurant in Germany.  It's like the Hofbrau Haus, with fewer drunks and a long buffet.  The kids were delighted to hear Edelweiss on cow bells (I used to sing it to them every night when I'd rock them to sleep, and add their names).

 Polka time.
This restaurant was one of our favorite things last trip, and it's really the best party at Disney.
Ziggy Zoggy Ziggy Zoggy Oi Oi Oi!!!
See the Oktoberfest shade in the background?  It's in there.  We made reservations in advance because you never know about Disney dining.
 Day four was all about the Animal Kingdom.
 Mark had to present at a conference in the morning, so I took the kids to Finding Nemo...
 ...and to ride Dinosaur.  Gryffy was thrilled and couldn't wait to take Daddy.  Lorelei, not so much.
 After a 90 minute wait (I kid you not), we finally embarked upon the Kali River Rapids.  We all got soaked.
 This was the one theme park in which I splurged on a stroller, and I'm so glad I did.  The Disney strollers are so easy to get around--no sticking wheels or difficult turns.  Since I was solo half the day, it was the way to go.
 After Mark and I conquered Expedition Everest, we went on the Kilimanjaro Safari, our favorite "ride" at Animal Kingdom.  We saw a ton of wild animals up close.

 To end the day, the kids got called on stage for the Lion King musical.  The woman who picked them said she loved the matching Mickey-in-safari-hat shirts: I think they sealed the deal.

 Here's the performer who picked the kids to join the show.  She brought Gryffy right back to his seat personally.  So sweet.
The Tree of Life.
 Our Disney adventure done, we left our lodge and taxied in to the Peabody hotel from Downtown Disney, where the American Psychological Association conference was held.  This place was massive.  And gorgeous.
Our favorite things were the TV inserted into the bathroom mirror (and yes, we actually used it), the pool complete with a kids' sand area, and of course, the famous ducks.
That's right.  They're the stars of all Peabody hotels, and make their royal procession to the fountain down the red carpet twice daily to a crowd of adoring fans.
The mouse might rule Disney, but here, the Donald trumps him.
 Two of my high school friends, Erin and Dawn, saw on Facebook that I was in Orlando and drove all the way over to see me.  We spent the whole last day together catching up on old friends and our grown-up lives.  Oh yeah, and the Olympics.  I love friendships that pick right back up where they leave off!
Dawn's kids were just amazing, and Lorelei and Gryffy loved them.
All in all, we had a blast.  And we can't wait to go back.

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