Last week we were fortunate enough to finally (!!!) take our very first family vacation to Disney World (and by our "first family vacation" I mean our first vacation since our honeymoon that didn't involve visiting Paul's family, visiting my family, or attending a friend's wedding- a trip for just the three of us with no one else involved). And it was fabulous. We had a fantastic time!
We decided to stay in one of Disney's hotels, the Port Orleans French Quarter and it was great- from the free transportation to and from the airport (including our luggage which we didn't have to touch once we checked in at the airport in Providence- Disney got it from the baggage claim in Orlando and delivered it directly to our room!), to the shuttles to and from the parks, to the staff and the grounds and the room- it was great. It's one of the smaller hotels on property and we really loved that after the end of a long day in the park we didn't have to walk very far to get back to our room- nor did we have to walk far in the morning to breakfast on delicious beignets! We had purchased the Disney Meal Plan (one snack, one counter service meal and one sit-down meal per person per day, plus a refillable beverage cup) and used our snack credits in the mornings for breakfast bagels and pastries.
We arrived in Orlando at about 9 a.m. on Friday morning (after leaving our house at 3:30 am- yikes!) and were in the Magic Kingdom by 11. LP has enjoyed the few small amusement park rides he's been on over the years but we weren't sure how he'd react to the crowds, the larger rides, and most of all, the characters. He did great with everything though. There were, of course, a few little meltdowns here and there when he was tired or hungry or wanted a toy that we wouldn't buy him but otherwise behaved really well. He had ZERO potty accidents the entire time (until the very end when he fell asleep on my lap on the way to the airport, his pull-up shifted, and he wet his pants. We had a change of clothing for him but I had to dry my pants with the bathroom hand dryer....) and was only Pukey McPukerson twice.
Ok, I took more than 500 photos and have posted more than 300 on Flickr (see them here) so here are just some the highlights:
Our hotel- our room was that blue door on the ground level!
The backside of the hotel is next to a man-made "river" with boats that take you from the hotel to Downtown Disney where there are shops and restaurants:
The courtyard of the hotel:
Our first ride- Aladdin's Magic Carpet. LP LOVED it. Paul, with his fear of heights, not so much. Baby #2 and I enjoyed it except when the carpets suddenly went from high in the air to low- yikes!
The "Dreams Come True" show in front of Cinderella's castle. LP adored this show and we watched it at least 3 times while we were there. He wanted nothing to do with the parades but could have watched this all day. He kept talking about how his dreams had come true already because we bought him a toy and asking us if our dreams had come true. Of course, they have!
Our first real character interaction was Pluto. We weren't sure if LP would go for it (he refused to meet Santa at the mall and freaked out when Curious George came to our library) but after a little initial hesitation and a promise from Daddy that he'd go too LP went for it....
Family shot! LP thought it was hysterical to keep smacking Paul in the face while the photographer had our camera so this is the best shot we got from this angle...
The Buzz Lightyear ride in the Magic Kingdom. We rode this at least a dozen times.
As well as Small World- the first ride LP wanted to do again immediately after we got off. He loved it (with the exception of the French can-can dancing dolls- he told us he doesn't like the dolls who lift up their skirts when they dance- hah!)
When we sailed past this hippo I said, "LP! There are birds on the back of that hippo!" He looked at the birds and then said, "Mommy- they're probably eating ticks and bugs off his back- that's why the hippo let's them sit there." Smarty-pants.
And of course, we had to say hi to Woody and Jesse.
And to Buzz (who was a little more intimidating)
We rode one of my favorite rides, the People Mover. Paul thought it was lame but LP thought it was a roller coaster.
And here's a much better photo of all three of us!
Even if you're not into rides, at Disney there are so many great things to see. All of the little details are amazing. Here's a topiary Minnie and Mickey:
And this little Donald Duck statue was a fence post topper- he was about 10 inches tall...
One day we hopped over to Hollywood Studios to check out the much hyped Toy Story Midway Mania ride and to eat lunch at Pizza Planet. We enjoyed the ride (you wear 3D glasses) but ultimately liked the one in the Magic Kingdom better.
We also fit in some more Toy Story photo ops:
And said hello to Woody and Buzz again.
Lunch in Pizza Planet was a big hit with LP (although Paul and I could have gone for tastier pizza):
And then we headed to Epcot as most of the other rides and attractions at Hollywood Studios are for older kids.
LP's favorite Epcot ride was the Finding Nemo ride. It ends in an aquarium which was a big hit as well.
In Epcot LP also had the chance to talk to Crush the sea turtle from Finding Nemo. This was quite possibly my favorite moment of our whole trip. Our first Crush viewing was while Paul was outside on the phone with his parents. LP sat close to me and when they asked if any one had questions for Crush he told me he had one. I told him he needed to sit up front and raise his hand to ask the question. He ran up, sat down, put his hand up, and then got nervous and came back to me. Did this a few more times, asking me to go with him. Eventually he missed his chance. When we met back up with Paul he said he wanted to ask Crush a question so we went back in. This time he immediately sat right in the front. I edited the video a bit so the other children's questions weren't included but LP asked the only good question (and yes, I'm totally biased but the other questions were: "Why do you say Dude so much?" and "How many times a day do you say Dude?" The other kids were 2 or 3 times LP's age). I was so proud of him!
Here's a great video (great as in cute- not great as in quality- apparently I should have positioned my phone the other way to take the video):
We also toured the world at Epcot a bit.
And ate dinner with a lovely family from Tennessee in the Biergarten in Germany.
This was Paul's favorite moment. LP is not a dancer unless we're home or at day care. When I take him to story time at the library he hates it when they sing songs and dance. But that polka music came on and he just couldn't contain himself. Oh, and see that little girl in the pink dress behind us in the photo above? I took LP to the bathroom at one point and she was in there. She told him he was so cute several times. When we got back to our table LP wanted us to find out her name so we told him he could go and ask her. Unfortunately she left before he got a chance but he kept saying, "Daddy- come with me to ask that girl her name! She was a stranger but now she's my new friend!" She was a little old for him but oh well!
Here's video of LP dancing. I normally am not one for hitting the dance floor (sober, anyway) but he needed to get his groove on to the chicken dance.
After the Biergarten and all of that excitement LP fell asleep in his stroller and Paul and I just walked around and watched the fireworks and lightshow. LP slept right through it despite all the noise.
The next day we headed to the Animal Kingdom and went on the safari ride where we saw some great animals up close:
And then we had a character lunch with Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy:
This is the "Africa" part of the Animal Kingdom. We didn't stay to check out the India part or Dinosaur land as the park was so crowded and we weren't that into it. There isn't very good traffic flow at Animal Kingdom- it's a beautiful park but just too hectic.
And so we headed back to the comparative quietness of Epcot and one of LP's favorite rides: Spaceship Earth. In Spaceship Earth you ride in a little car up to the top of the Epcot ball and then back down and they tell the story of communication through dioramas (i.e. cavemen painting on cave walls, a man inventing papyrus, the first printing press, etc.) At the end you are "in space" and they show you Earth. On our first ride I sat with LP and Paul sat behind us. When we got to the Earth part I said, "LP- that's Earth, the planet we live on." He said, "there's a very hot planet too but you can't live there. And you can't live on the coldest planet either. You'll get frozen!" Don't know where he picked that up but this kid remembers everything! We rode Spaceship Earth several times!
And went on Nemo again too. LP said he wanted his picture taken in Bruce's mouth but freaked out when Paul got him in there:
And yet more time was spent at the Magic Kingdom watching the "Dreams Come True" show...
One night we took the boat from our hotel to Downtown Disney:
And ate dinner at T.Rex which is similar to a Rainforest Cafe (and owned by the same people/group) but is all dinosaurs. LP was really into it (until he threw up his dinner right as our dessert arrived. Poor Paul had to deal with it- I'm usually not bothered by LP's puke but this pregnancy has made my gag reflex much more sensitive and I had to walk away so as not to create more mess to clean up). Despite the upset tummy, we had a fanastic dessert here that Paul is still talking about (basically ice cream sandwiches layered with whipped cream, fudge, and topped with Heath bars)- think I'll recreate it for his birthday!
On our last full day we headed back to Magic Kingdom for a few more rounds of Buzz, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh. Paul and LP also had their first chance at the Speedway as the lines were nice and short.
And then we headed to Epcot for dinner in Morocco:
Some time in Japan:
And a look at the Epcot Flower show topiaries and gardens:
Which we enjoyed while LP relaxed in his stroller.
We then headed back to the Magic Kingdom to watch the light show and fireworks:
Until LP freaked out and told us he "likes fireworks but not TODAY!" and we had to leave a bit early. Granted it was 10:30 at this point so the fact that we made it that long without any major meltdowns was pretty good...
The last morning we left our bags at the hotel (where they checked our luggage for us so we only had to go through security at the airport) and headed to Epcot for a little while and then for a few last spins (literally) at the Magic Kingdom:
Phew! Sorry for the photo overload! We really had such a fantastic time and I know this was a vacation we'll remember for years to come. We're so glad that we decided to go now and enjoy this special time as just the 3 of us before baby arrives. It was so much fun for Paul and I to watch LP enjoying himself so much and it was a great chance for Paul and LP to spend a lot of time together. LP wanted Daddy next to him on almost every ride and every shuttle which was fine with me since I spend a lot more time with him than Paul does.
LP was the perfect age for our first trip and I imagine we'll go again when baby #2 is 3 or so. There were a lot of families there with babies but it didn't look like too much fun for the parents- so much work! Going with a 3-year-old who doesn't need naps (although we did hit our hotel every day in the afternoon for some rest time), can eat on his own, doesn't wear diapers, and can tell us what he wants/needs was pretty easy. The weather was great, the crowds weren't too bad, and we can't wait to do it all again!
And now, back to reality!