Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by TheTXTaylors5, May 29, 2009.
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We are back from a hot and humid week in Florida. Note to self ... NEVER VISIT WDW IN THE SUMMER AGAIN!!!!!!!
I am working on dowloading some pictures for my Trip Report and will post them soon.
Stay tuned ...
I can't wait to hear about your trip!
We were there with ya, sweating it out last week!
Looking forward to reading your TR!
Okay, I've got all the pictures downloaded to the computer. I am ready to re-live an amazing week at WDW ...
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to Lake Buena Vista, Florida
1,128.5 miles (17 hours 30 minutes)
SATURDAY (June 20, 2009)
The alarm clock went off around 5:45 am. Finally, we could get on the road and start this trip! The bags were packed and ready to load into the car. DH loaded the bags while I got the kids ready and out the door. We've made this roadtrip so many times, DH has a method to his loading of the car and everything always fits like a glove in the trunk area. This trip was no different. We pulled out of our driveway around 6:20 am. One quick stop at Starbucks for some caffeine and we were on our way to Walt Disney World!
Let the roadtrip begin!
I have to give the inventor of the in-car dvd player a big THANK YOU! That thing was a godsend on this trip. Since, we've made the drive so many times, the kids have seen the same scenery for the past four years. So, they can get understandably bored during the trip. They can play only so much DS and Gameboy and I Spy. Usually, I end up buying two or three new dvds for our roadtrip. I didn't have to for this trip. I just made sure to order dvds (not Blu-ray discs) from Netflix last week. For the ride, I ordered the kids ... Max and Ruby (for DS3), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (for DS9) and Air Bud (for DD6).
We pass through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and then finally cross into the sunny state of Florida. With each new state welcome sign, we are one state closer to WDW. I packed a lunch for the family that morning. This is the first time I have done this. We usually pick-up fast food along the way. However, for this trip to Florida, I thought it would be nice at some point to stop, stretch our legs and sit-down for a meal. We found a really great rest stop in the middle of the swap in Louisiana (Atchafalaya - America's largest river swamp.). It was better than it sounds. We plan to stop there again on our next roadtrip. The kids received coloring books from a rest area attendent. Also, they have a display of an alligator (fake) and it's surroundings. It was a really nice rest area. It was unexpected right in the middle of the swamp. However, when eating lunch I had to keep checking behind me to make sure there weren't any gators on the prowl. I could read the headlines now ... "Texas woman on a family vacation to Disney World was eaten by a gator."
Atchafalaya Welcome Center
(I forgot to take pictures at the rest stop. These are borrowed from TXRabbit)
We entered and exited LA, MS, AL and FL all in the same day. I am always mesmerized by the battleship we pass in Mobile, AL (USS Alabama). It's right off the highway. One year, I want to actually stop in Mobile and see the battleship up close. Until then, I have some photos from the highway.
Seeing the welcome sign for the state of Florida was such a great site. We decided to make a quick stop at the rest area right across the border. This was another first for us. We usually pass right by. It was so nice to finally be in the same state as WDW. We were one step closer.
Florida Welcome Rest Area
DH has made the drive straight through to WDW before. However, he is always exhausted when we arrive. I didn't want that for his birthday trip. So, we decided to find a hotel for the night. Around 11 pm, we pulled into a Holiday Inn Express (somewhere in Florida, past Tallahassee). It was finally time to catch some zzzzzzzz
Coming Up: Arriving at WDW.
I'm so glad I found this...looking forward to more.
SUNDAY (June 21, 2009/Father's Day)
We put in for a 7:30 am wake-up call. I felt as if I just fell asleep when the phone was ringing waking us to a new day. Knowing we would soon be at WDW, everyone hopped out of bed with a little pep in their step. It didn't take too much convincing to get the kids out of bed and dressed. Since we only had a three hour drive left to WDW, we had a leisurely breakfast of Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls and other other breakfast items at the hotel. Staying at a hotel with a free continental breakfast saves us well over $25 each way. That's $50 more we can spend at WDW!
We pulled out of the hotel parking lot around 9:00 am. It may sound like we got off to a late start. But like previously stated, we were only three hours from WDW. DH can do that drive in his sleep. Also staying at a DVC property, you run the chance of a room not being ready upon arrival if you get there too early. So with one quick stop to fill-up the gas tank at the truck stop next to the hotel ... next stop WDW!
We always feel like we are "almost" at the FL Turnpike and one step closer to WDW when we start seeing the Florida Welcome Station signs with the big oranges on them. Those that have made this roadtrip know exactly what signs I am talking about. There are also the "other" signs too.
Signs we are "almost" there.
When we passed our first toll plaza, DH and I joked we need to get a Sun Pass we make the trip so many times. We've driven to WDW from Texas eight times in three years. My Honda Odyssey has made all eight trips (plus one trip to the west coast and two trips to New England). It is a really great traveling van. No complaints here.
First toll plaza. One more to go!
Getting on I-4 we pass right by Universal and Sea World. The kids have been asking for a few years to visit Universal. But, we always end up with WDW Annual Passes and have been dragging our feet to venture off Disney property and explore other parts of Orlando. We may visit Universal when they finish the Harry Potter/Hogwarts section. I believe it is suppose to be completed this fall. Hopefully it will open in time for our fall Florida trip. If so, it will be a "must" for that trip. However for this trip, we are doing Disney and only Disney. We bought AP this past May on a quick/unplanned WDW trip. We want to get the most bang for our buck with them. As some of you know, they are NOT cheap! What we paid for Annual Passes for our family of five was more than I paid for my first car.
We're getting closer and closer and closer.
Since we are staying at Saratoga Springs it probably was shorter/easier to take the exit by The Crossroads and enter near Downtown Disney. However, we always have to enter WDW through the main gate. No matter how many times we visit WDW and pass through the gate, we countdown until we pass under the sign and let out a loud cheer in the car. It is so fun to let loose. It's time to let the real fun begin.
We have finally arrived at WDW Resort!
(Poor Minnie always gets cut out of my entrance sign picture. They really need to move that speed limit sign. )
The first thing we saw on property was a Disney bus decorated for "What will you celebrate?". Soon we would be on one of those buses on our way to the Magic Kingdom!!!!
Our GPS navigated us through the property until we pulled up to a pleasant site, the entrance to Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. It never gets old to come "home".
This way to a week of fun!
"Home Sweet Disney Home"
You will probably notice I haven't mentioned that today is Father's Day. We didn't forget about poor DH. He will get a magical surprise soon!
Coming Up: DH's Father's Day surprise, staying out until after 3:30 am (No, that's not a misprint.) at the Magic Kingdom and more ...
More please. I followed you over here from your Disneyland report and I need more reading. Until we go in September I am living vicariously through others.
SUNDAY (June 21, 2009/Father's Day) Continued ...
We pulled up to the Carriage House around 1:00 PM. DH went inside to check-in. I hopped out of the minivan to stretch my legs. Now, I had read numerous posts prior to our trip about the heat and humidity at WDW right now. OMG! When I stepped out of the car, I wanted to crawl right back in. It was so hot and sticky and gross. Those that have been to WDW in the summertime know exactly what I am talking about. We are from Texas, we can stand the heat. It is the humidity that gets you. What were we thinking?!?!?!?! We were here and would make the best of the weather (However, Mother Nature has a sense of humor this week and would toy with us many days. More on that later.). DH came out and we were on our way to the Grandstand section. We normally stay in this area, it is quiet and we usually get a great view of the golf course and treehouses. Not this trip, we had a room facing a wall. It was probably the worst room we have ever got here. Since this was DH's birthday trip, I had him drive back up to the CH and I went in to get a better room. Normally, we don't complain. But, it was comically ridiculous. They didn't have any "better" rooms available at the time. The CM was very helpful and went back and forth with her manager and finally found us a room that would be ready later (around 3 PM). It honestly couldn't be any worse, so I accepted. She said they would call us with the room number when it was ready. One thing to know, they NEVER call you (or at least that is our experience). You have to call the number they give you for an update. We've had this problem at the BCV a few times too. Since, we didn't have a room yet we hung around Community Hall playing games and enjoying the A/C.
As a Father's Day surprise for DH, a few weeks prior I booked him a massage treatment at The Spa at SSR. They are suppose to have the best spa on Disney property. His appointment was for later in the evening (5 PM). But, we had about two hours to kill while waiting for our room. So while DH was entertaining the kids, I popped into The Spa and moved up his appointment. While there I went ahead and pre-paid and added the tip. So, DH didn't have to worry about a thing. They would be ready for him in about 15 minutes. I wasn't sure how to spring this surprise on DH. So, I made an excuse to have the family use the restrooms on the lower level of the spa and then pointed to the door upstairs to DH and said "Happy Father's Day!". He looked at me with an expression of confusion. It's always a success when I can surprise DH. We waved good bye to DH as he entered an hour of pure pampering. The kids and I went back over to Community Hall to play some more. Around 2:45 PM I called the room hotline number and they told me our room was ready. Now, I don't feel like a man without a country. We only had a few minutes to wait until DH would be done. So, we headed back over near The Spa around 3 PM. DH came out looking so refreshed and relaxed. Maybe, I should have planned the massage for the end of trip.
Enter for an hour of relaxation and no kids!
Our new room was in the Congress Park section (right across from DTD). It was a great room in a great location. There were trees lining the courtyard outside our window. So, we couldn't see DTD unless we went out by the path and the pool. We were able to see the characters in flight balloon from our room. That was pretty cool. It was so nice getting into our home for the week. We had a one-bedroom villa. It had a full kitchen with a washer and dryer in the room. I love DVC!
Our WDW Home for the week.
These cuties were waiting in the room for us.
By this time, we were all famished. We still needed to head to Walmart to pick-up some groceries for the week too. But, we try to not step foot in a grocery store hungry. That is when I come out with a pint of Haagen Dazs and forget the basics. Being close to The Crossroads, we decided to have a nice sit-down meal at Pizzeria Uno. DH loves pizza and this is "his day". Also, we like Uno's and don't have one at home near us. We have ordered their take out before when staying at SSR (They have a buy one get one half off deal when ordering take-out pizza.). Okay, people (mostly men) joke about Dads getting the short end of the stick when it comes to Father's Day. We walked into the restaurant with no wait and the restaurant was 80% empty. Sorry Dads. We got great service and the pizza was good. When we were finally done, it was off to spend some money at Walmart. I created a budget of $150 for our Wal-mart trip. We ended up spending $146! Hey $4 is $4. I was glad we didn't go over budget. Having a car at WDW helps immensely and this is one example. We definitely would have paid closer to $200 for what we got if we used a grocery delivery service like gardengrocer.com
Coming Up: We step foot in our first park at 11 pm!
I'm glad I am not typing to myself anymore. I was beginning to wonder.
Glad to have you aboard! We were at WDW last September. It was still a little hot and humid. Be prepared!
Great to have you along! Are you doing a Trip Report? As previously stated, we will NEVER visit WDW in the summer again. How did you find the weather? Was it different from your home in LA?
We had an amazing week at WDW even with the humidity and crowds. As I will post in my Trip Report, we didn't follow the itinerary I posted. It was just too hot and humid in the middle of the day. Some days we didn't leave the resort until dusk. More on that later ...
Once again, welcome and keep posted!
We had a busy busy Fourth of July weekend. I will get working on the Trip Report soon. Stay tuned ...
Okay, where did I leave off???? Oh yeah, Magic Kingdom at 11 PM.
SUNDAY (June 21, 2009) continued ...
When I was planning the itinerary for this trip, I checked and re-checked the WDW website for park hours. The closer it got to our vacation dates, the park hours kept getting later and later. Which led me to believe, this was going to be a busy week at WDW. I was shocked to find out that the Magic Kingdom was open until 3:00 am our first night. I am a night owl. However, I didn't know how the children would do. So, after we had a light in-room dinner, I tried to get everyone to lay down for a nap. If we were going to MK for EMH (PM), I wanted to stay until the very end. Getting the kids to lay down was easier said than done. Around 10:00 PM, I started getting everyone refreshed and dressed for the evening. Earlier in the day, I had the kids decorate the mister fans with stickers I bought at home. That was a fun little in-room project.
Decorating the misting fans.
I knew the evening was going to still be warm. So, I made sure to pack the newly decorated mister fans and lots of water. With the backpack fully stocked, we headed for the bus stop. Our building was so close to the bus stop I could have thrown a rock. By this time it was around 10:40 PM. We waited about five minutes when a MK bus appeared. As you can imagine everyone was getting off. We were the only fools getting on the bus. Then again, maybe THEY were the fools. One other family got on at another stop and we were off. Next stop ...
I love the feeling of entering a park as the crowds of people are leaving. They looked so tired and beaten down. Here we were at 11 PM all refreshed, bright-eyed and ready for an evening/early morning of fun. Entering the MK and walking down Main Street never gets old. Turning the first corner and seeing Cinderella Castle in person always puts me in awe. I didn't take too many pictures this evening. I was having too much fun. So, I may post some from our May 2009 trip for your viewing pleasure.
DS3's favorite ride at all of WDW is Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. So, we were off to Tomorrowland for our first ride of the trip. We normally visit WDW during non-peak weeks. So, we were not expecting the 20 minutes posted time at 11:30 PM for Buzz. We decided to ride it anyway. The wait time ended up being closer to only 10 minutes. That line moves pretty quickly. While on the ride, EMH (PM) started. Hopefully, that will clear some of these people out of the park.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin - Tomorrowland
This is a really neat ride, not just for Toy Story fans. You enter a two person car that has built-in laser guns. The object is to shoot at the Z on circles throughout the ride to gain points. I am a terrible shot. I can never tell where my laser is. But, it is still fun. We are always comparing our scores afterwards. DS9 and I both got 999,999 this past December. It didn't hurt that we were stuck on the ride in the first room with the big robot. We kept shooting at the back of his hand for bonus points. Before we knew it, we both had 999,999. However, the rest of the ride was pretty boring because we maxed out our points. This is a "must ride" for us each visit to the MK.
After Buzz, we walked over to Fantasyland. There were still long lines for Dumbo and the Carousel. By this time, we could start getting FastPasses. We walked by Peter Pan's Flight and the wait time was 40 minutes. We don't wait in line unless it is 20 minutes or less. So, DH grabbed us some FPs for later and on we went to ride The Haunted Mansion. This is DS9's favorite ride at the MK. It had a posted time of 20 minutes.
The Haunted Mansion - Liberty Square
This is a classic MK attraction. When waiting in line, makes sure to check out the tombstones to your left. Some of them have very clever sayings. Also be warned, someone is watching you. When you enter the mansion you are first led into the library. Here the CM tells you to move into the middle of the room. Before you know it, the room is stretching. If you have younger children, I would hold on to them tightly in this room. At some point all the lights go out and that may freak them out. A secret door is opened and the guests are ushered into a queue to wait to board a doom buggy. These can fit two adults comfortably or one adult and two children. The line goes pretty quickly as it is a continuous flow of cars (like Buzz and Peter Pan). The doom buggy takes you through different rooms in the mansion being narrated by your Ghost Host. The owner of the mansion, Master Gracy, is not home right now. I'll let you figure out why. My favorite scene is the dining room with the ghosts having a birthday party. Make sure to look for the hidden Mickey in this scene (hint: plates). It amazes me how old the technology is on this ride. We had a great ride. Also, it was a great place to get into the A/C for about 30 minutes. It was cold in there! But, I'm NOT complaining.
After the HM, the park looked like it was starting to thin out a bit. We walked through Liberty Square to Frontierland. We had planned for this to be the first trip our whole family would ride Splash Mountain together. In the past we would have to do the Rider Swap. So, DH and I never got to ride together. DS3 was finally tall enough and willing to ride it. However, when we got to the ride entrance, it was DD6 that started to freak out. She had a scare last year where she felt like she was falling out of the log. She wasn't, but it scared her. We decided to not ride at that time and hope that she would calm down enough to maybe ride it later. We casually walked over to Adventureland. We noticed no line for Pirates of the Caribbean. So, we entered into the queue.
Pirates of the Caribbean - Adventureland
Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirates life for me! You will be singing that after riding this attraction. I was surprised even at this time of night, there was no line. We walked all the way through the queue into a waiting boat. If you have younger children, I will warn there is one drop on this attraction towards the beginning of the ride. After that, even with the skeletons and darkness, the ride is pretty mild. Keep an eye out for sneaky Jack Sparrow. With the refurbishment a few years ago, they added some new touches to this old Disney classic. Like HM, this is another great attraction to ride on a hot Florida day or night. It was like being in a dark cave, cool and damp.
After POTC, DH went to get the family FPs for Splash Mountain while I took the kids towards Aladdin's Flying Carpets. I totally forgot to get our KTTW cards from DH. So, we were not able to ride. The kids had fun playing at the tiki drums/water sprayer across from the ride. DH met back up to us with FPs in hand. By this time the kids didn't want to ride The Flying Carpets. We were right near The Jungle Cruise. So, we decided to hop on a waiting boat. I kid you not, we walked straight through onto a boat.
The Jungle Cruise - Adventureland
If you like puns, you'll love this little voyage through Asia and Africa. You board a boat with a very corny Skipper. He (or she) leads you on an adventure where you encounter wild natives, hungry hippos and the backside of a waterfall. The narration by the Skipper is what makes the ride for us. They make corny jokes left and right. We love to heckle the Skipper and give a "Booooooooo!" to a bad pun where needed. We've ridden this ride in the daytime and at night. It is very eerie and takes on a whole different vibe at night. It was pretty cool.
By now our FPs for Peter Pan's Flight were valid. So, we left the peacefulness of Adventureland for the chaotic Fantasyland. It was still bustling with people at 2:00 AM. The posted wait time was 30 minutes. However, there was no way that line was only 30 minutes. It snaked around the building. Luckily, we had our FPs. We rode this a few years ago. I didn't remember too much about it and was underwhelmed at the time. I could never figure out why people rave about this ride or are willing to wait an hour to ride it. I now have a newfound appreciation for this ride.
Peter Pan's Flight - Fantasyland
You enter a two/three person flying ship on your way to Neverland. It swoops you into different scenes of the story Peter Pan. Keep an eye out for Ariel. My DD6 spotted her a mile away. This is a whimsical ride. I wouldn't wait an hour to ride it. But, I would ride it again with a FP. Very cute!
After PP, we decide to ride one last ride before calling it a night ... Splash Mountain. By now, DD6 had calmed down and was willing to ride it for DH. Since this is his birthday trip and she wanted to make him happy. We walked through a deserted Liberty Square to an even more deserted Frontierland. We didn't need the FPs for SM, there was no line.
Splash Mountain - Frontierland
We boarded our log and were on our way to see Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. DH rode with DS3 to help comfort him if needed, DS9 rode in a row by himself and I rode behind him with DD6. I've never seen the movie Song of the South. So, I don't know how the movie ties into the ride. I like the storyline and theming of the ride. It is cute and colorful. You know going through all the scenes what is to come ... the big fall. DH had already gotten wet earlier in the ride when the log coming down splashed on his side of the log. So, he didn't care about getting wet on the big fall. He was already soaked. DD6 started freaking out when we made the ascent up the hill. However, by that time it was too late. DH said DS3 was fine. Go figure. When we went down the fall, DH said DS3 said "More!". That's my boy! Needless to say, even the cheerful Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah at the end of the ride couldn't get DD6 to smile. She wasn't happy. We'll try her on the ride again in a few years. Happily, DS3 has found a new ride he loves and can't wait to go back to MK and ride again and again.
After Splash Mountain it was around 3:00 AM. We closed the park down. By this time, we were all VERY tired. We made the slow long trek down Main Street to the exit. Walking into the park earlier in the evening Main Street looked so short. However when heading out, the exit seemed so far away. It was like one of those movies where the hallway keeps stretching. Finally, we made our way to the line already formed for the SSR bus. It wasn't too bad. We'd definitely get a seat. We waited about ten minutes before a bus arrived. As soon as the driver turned off the lights on the bus, all three of our kiddos were fast asleep as well as a lot of other children on the bus. I was surprised how many children were still up this late. I guess when on summer vacation at WDW, all "normal" schedules go out the window.
DH took this picture with his phone. DS9 and DD6 on the bus after a late night at MK.
We got back to our room at SSR around 4:00 AM. We'd definitely be sleeping in tomorrow morning. Oh wait, it was already morning. I had plans of going to Epcot later. Will we make it? You'll just have to stayed tuned to find out ...
Coming Up: Did we make our Nine Dragons ADR at Epcot? What time will we actually get up? Extra Magic Hours (PM) at Animal Kingdom tonight!
MONDAY (June 22, 2009)
We didn't put in a wake-up call since we had been out so late. I got up around 10 am, the rest of the family was still in dreamland. I knew there was no way we were visiting Epcot today. So, I called Disney Dining and canceled our Nine Dragons ADR and made one for lunch on Thursday (DH's birthday). I had an itinerary in place. However, being flexible is also essential to have a magical time at WDW. The rest of the family arose around 11 am. We decided today would be a nice day to check out the resort pool and relax. We're on vacation afterall. There should be some "relaxation" time on this vacation. Before heading out to the pool, I decided to make the family a brunch of pancakes and bacon. That hit the spot and off we were to the pool. There was a pool right behind our building. So, we made the short walk to the pool area. The pool was in an amazing location. Downtown Disney was right across the water. Great scenery. It was a simple non-main pool. So, no waterslide or frills. But, it was a pool and the kids (big and little) had fun. After swimming, we decided to head back to the room to relax a bit more to get ready for Extra Magic Hours that evening at Animal Kingdom.
Since DAK is a pretty easy park to get in and out, DH drove our car to the park. We left SSR around 7 PM. The park was going to be open until 11 PM this evening!
We love DAK at night. The lights highlighting the Tree of Life bring out all the animal carvings. It is truly amazing all the detail that went into the tree.
We have past DAK EMH (PM) memories of riding EE over and over again until we couldn't ride anymore. Not on this trip. This evening we again encountered the summer crowds for EMH (PM) that we had never seen before. Usually DAK is a ghost town during EMH (PM). Since the Safari was done running for the evening, everyone was at Expedition Everest. So, DH and DS9 went ahead to get an EE FP for later and then get into the stand-by line to ride immediately. I casually made my way over to Asia with DD6 and DS3. I brought along the misters and drinks again this evening. They were both needed. The air was humid and our clothing was just sticking to us. Gross!! When I made my way to EE, I was shocked at what I saw. The stand-by line out the door and the FP machines were covered. I called DH to see where he and DS9 were in line so I could get a Rider Swap. Since, there were no FPs and I didn't want to stand in a 50 minutes line when they were done. They were already inside the building. A CM at the entrance overheard me talkng to DH and handed me a Rider Swap ticket. I know she didn't have to, that was very appreciated. I took DD6 and DS3 into the gift shop to get into some A/C and meet DH and DS9 when they got off the ride. We were waiting near the photo screens when we noticed no one was coming through the exit. I overheard a CM tell another guest the ride was down. We waited a good 30 minutes until the ride was up and running. I called DH to make sure they were still in line because the line would be moving again. It was well over an hour from the time I kissed DH good bye until I saw him again coming through the exit at EE. Since I had the Rider Swap, I got to take DS9 with me on the ride. It's always nice to not have to ride alone. I always feel awkward in the single rider lines because 95% of the people in line are with other people. After waiting for DH and DS9, it was now my turn to have fun hooting and hollaring on EE. RNR and EE are pretty neck in neck to me on my favorite ride at WDW.
Expedition Everest - Asia
Since I had the Rider Swap, we got into the FP line. The theming and decor in the line queue is amazing. You can tell they took some time to re-create the artifacts on display. The Rider Swap/FP went pretty quickly. From the time we entered the queue to the time we were hopping onto a train was about six minutes. Not bad! It sure beat the 60 minutes stand-by time now posted for EE. At night, this ride is eerily dark and makes it more intense IMO. I loved it! Of course when we got to the part with no track, I had to turn to DS9 and say, "There doesn't seem to be any track." (my Stacyism for the night. ) I have ridden it back when the Yeti was actually working and throwing his arms around. That version rocks! They now have him positioned closer to the track and it looks as if he is going to grab you, but he's not moving. It was cool if you had never ridden the older version. Another great ride on EE.
DH and DS9 on EE.
DS9 and I in front of EE on a past trip.
After EE, we headed back towards Kali River Rapids to cool off. However, there was a long line and we were too hot to wait in line. So, we found refuge from the heat at It's Tough to be a Bug!. It had no wait and A/C! It was very eerie walking through the queue with no one in front of us or behind. It also gave us time to leisurely walk and pick-out the animal carving in The Tree of Life.
It's Tough to be a Bug! - Discovery Island
We had tried to watch this movie a few years ago and had to leave because it freaked out our children. Would we get to watch it in it's entirety? Well, three of us did. DD6 started to freak out once again. I didn't want to bother those around us and DS9 and DS3 were behaving. So, I took DD6 outside to wait for the others. A nice CM came up to us outside and was talking to DD6 to ensure her she is not the only person who doesn't like the attraction. We only waited about five minutes and then the crowds exited the building. DH came out and said it was good and that DS3 sat through the whole show without incident.
He really is coming of age on this trip, first Splash Mountain and now It's Tough to be a Bug! My baby is no longer a baby. DS3 loves The Boneyard at DAK. So as a treat, we were off to excavate in Dinoland USA.
The Boneyard - Dinoland USA
This is a play area for the kids to run off some energy. There are slides and caves to explore. There's even an excavation site across the bridge where the kids undig a dinosaur's remains. Our kids always love playing in there and it is shaded. DH and I usually sit by the entrance/exit to make sure our kids don't escape. There's only one way in and out. I use to follow the kids around in here. But as they are getting older, they want to explore without Mom as their shadow. DD6 does a pretty good job at keeping DS3 with her as it can get crazy with kids. There are fans and even water areas to cool off. While in there, the park closed and we were told to leave. We closed down another park. This was starting to become a common theme this trip. The evenings were just so much more enjoyable.
Hanging out at The Boneyard.
It was time to head back to SSR for some sleep. My head hit the pillow after midnight. I had grand plans of getting to DHS for rope drop the next morning. We'll see if that happens.
Tomorrow ... we have plans to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios and a lunch ADR at Sci-Fi Dine-In. However, Mother Nature may have a thing or two to say about our plans. Stay Tuned ...
TUESDAY (June 23, 2009)
Today, we planned to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios. Since we closed down DAK last night, we were all getting up a little slow this morning. DHS opened at 9 AM. However, it was 9 AM when we all were finally awake. So obviously no rope drop this morning. We still wanted to visit the park today. We had an 12:30 PM ADR for Sci-Fi Dine-In. So, we decided to stay in the A/C of our room for as long a possible before venturing out into the Florida summer day. DHS is another park we like to drive to. So, we all hopped into the minivan around 11:00 AM.
Pulling into the parking lot, we knew it was going to be a crowded park that day. We had to park in the farthest lot away from the park entrance. We hopped onto a waiting tram and were being whisked to the front of the park. That is one nice thing about parking at the parks, it doesn't really matter how far out you park. The tram takes everyone to the park entrance.
Today was going to be another melting pot. The weather forcast was in the 90's with a chance of scattered thunderstorms. More on those thunderstorms later. For right now, the sun was shining and there was a table at Sci-Fi Dine-In with our name on it. Upon entering the park, DH made the TSM dash to get us FPs for later. I went in the other direction to check-in for lunch. We would meet back up with him at the Sci-Fi Dine-In. On the way, we ran into a CM taking pictures. So, I had some PhotoPass pictures taken of the kids.
DHS PhotoPass Pictures
I checked-in and we waiting in the crowded lobby for about five minutes when DH came up with the TSM FPs. Since we arrived to the park so late, I was honestly afraid we wouldn't get any. The return time was for 7 PM that night. That was fine with me, at least he got some. I had read about them running out of FP around 11 AM on most days. We cut it close today. We waited about another five minutes and our name was called. It was so loud in there, I almost missed our name being called. They really need a better system. Maybe, those little hand buzzer machines or something. We were headed back in time to drive-ins and cheezy sci-fi horror movies.
We were seated in a six person convertible. DD6 and DS3 sat in the front row, DS9 sat in the middle row and DH and I sat in the back seat. It was fun! The movies on screen were so ridiculous they had to be fake. But, DH looked them up on his phone and they were real movie clips. I had read about the yummy onion rings. So, we ordered them as an appetizer. They lived up to the hype. They were hot and crispy. Yum! Yum! However, we wish there were more of them. We let the kids split a vanilla shake. They enjoyed the treat. We all ordered burgers for our lunch. DH and I both got bacon on ours. They were really good and tasted grilled. The french fries that came with them were crunchy and not too bad either. Since this was DH's birthday trip, I noted on all our ADRs we were celebrating DH's birthday. So, when our waitress brought the kids their desserts that came with their meals, she also brought DH a little sundae with a candle on it. She also gave him a birthday card signed by all the carhops. It was unexpected and very appreciated by DH. Our server was on top of everything and kept our sodas full. Great service and great atmosphere. We'd definitely eat there again.
Appetizer: Crispy Onion Rings ~ A generous portion of battered onion rings. $6.99
Adult Entree: Angus Chuck Burger ~ Flame-broiled beef patty topped with cheddar cheese and crispy bacon served with french fries. $12.99
Child Meal: Garden salad, cheeseburger w/french fries and ice-cream sundae. $7.59
Vanilla Shake $4.29
Birthday Sundae (gratis)
Munching down at Sci-Fi Dine-In.
DH's "surprise" birthday treat.
After lunch, we decided to get FPs for RNR and ToT for later and head out of the crowded park. I don't do well in crowds and with the heat and humidity, it didn't make for a great combo. Also, the sky was starting to look a little ominous at this time. So with FPs in hand for TSM, RNR and ToT we headed back to SSR to relax with plans of returning later that evening. On the way back to the resort the storms began. This was not a little storm, the wind was blowing and then came the thunder and lightning. We just made it into our room when the sky fell and the rain really began to pour down.
Coming Up: Would we get back to DHS to use those FPs?
TUESDAY (June 23, 2009) continued ...
It was very comforting being inside during the storm. I was thinking about all those poor people still at the parks. I sure hope they brought ponchos and a boat because it was raining cats and dogs by this time. We got back to our room around 4:30 PM, DHS closes at 10 PM this evening. I kept looking at the clock to gauge when we might be able to head back out to DHS. Not anytime soon. We got comfortable and I put in a dvd for the kids. I decided to make some dinner (hot dogs and mac & cheese) and we would re-evaluate the weather situation after dinner.
Around 7 PM it was still faintly drizzling. I decided everyone needed to get dressed anyway. We would take a chance and head back to DHS for the evening. Once again we drove to DHS. By the time we pulled into the DHS parking lot, the rain had stopped. Also, we got to park in the first section lot. This was a good sign!
When we got back to DHS it was still bustling with people. But, it definitely was not as crowded as earlier. Maybe the weather drove some people away. Bad for them, but good for us. We were back and ready to ride!
By now our TSM FPs were valid. So, we made a bee-line for Pixar Place and Toy Story Midway Mania. Good thing we got the FPs earlier. The stand-by line had a wait time of 110 minutes and no more FPs. We love WDW. But, I am NOT waiting 110 minutes for anything at WDW. Sorry, just me. But, there were people out the door waiting. They sure have more patience than me.
Toy Story Midway Mania - Pixar Place
We rode this on past trips and loved it. The queue area makes you feel as if you are the size of Woody and Buzz. The game boxes and toys always take me back to my childhood. I grew up playing with Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs. DH and I were pointing out childhood favorites. Being in the FP line, before we knew it we were grabbing our glasses and were on our way up the stairs.
The ride vehicles are made for two persons on each side. So, you ride back to back with another couple. DH rode with DS3 and DS9 rode behind them. DD6 and I rode together in another car. The shooting mechanism take some getting use to. You pull it back over and over to shoot and get points during each game. It is fun. But, I was pulling so hard my wrist was hurting when we got off. That always happens. Of course when we got off DS3 said he wanted to ride again. However, with a 110 minutes stand-by line, his re-ride would have to wait until our November WDW trip. We'll be back to ride again.
Racking up points on TSM.
After TSM, we decided to head down Sunset Blvd. to ToT and RNR. When we were walking past the entrance to Fantasmic!, I could hear a CM tell a guest it was standing room only. Personally, I didn't find the park too crowded. I guess they were all at Fantasmic! We had seen it on previous trips. So, we were fine skipping it this trip. We wanted to ride! We decided to ride ToT first. I rode first with DS9 and DH got a Rider Swap. DH took DD6 and DS3 to meet us in the gift shop/exit.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Every other trip we get a ride on ToT. And every time we ask, why don't we ride this every trip??? It got my adrenaline going. This is a very intense free-falling ride and I wanted more! It's back on my "must do" ride list for every trip now.
When DS9 and I were done free-falling, it was time for DH to ride. DS9 had enough. So, DH grabbed the Rider Swap ticket and rode alone. We waited for him in the nice A/C of the gift shop area.
DH and DS9 hanging out at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
After DH met back up with us it was time to ride RNR with the earlier obtained FPs. DH went first while I grabbed a Rider Swap from the CM. The children spotted a kid's activity area outside the ride. So, we went over to check it out.
On the Road Activity Area.
The children were given an oversized CD as the CM called it, I called it a 45. They were also given a sticker sheet with guitars and silly wording on license plates to decorate the CD. They had fun and the CM even let them decorate two as we were there so long waiting for DH.
The kids having fun decorating their CDs.
While there it started to drizzle again. When DH came outside to meet us, we did the switch and now it was my turn to ride. Since it was starting to rain, he took the children into the gift shop/exit to wait for me.
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
I grew up in MA and grew up listening to Aerosmith and have the "need for speed". So, this ride is right up my alley. Always after I come out of the recording studio area, I have to stop for a minute and watch the take off of the next set of cars. It gets me pumped and ready to ride it myself. It's amazing how quickly this ride takes off. The great music with all the twists and turns puts this ride at the top of my WDW rides.
We still had one FP left for RNR (DS9 didn't want to ride). So when I got off, DH went to ride again while I hung out in the gift shop with the kids. They had fun trying on the different hats and sunglasses. It made the time go by quickly.
The kids having fun at the RNR gift shop.
By the time DH came through the exit it was 9:55 PM. Only five more minutes until the park closed. DS9 loves The Great Movie Ride. I honestly don't know why??? He's a silly kid for his age. We usually try and ride in every visit to DHS. However, our chances were looking pretty slim this evening. Why is it when you are in a hurry, every slow person cuts in front of you. I had an ECV parade in front of me and people aimlessly walking. It was very frustrating. We raced to the GMR. Would we get to ride????
We arrived right at the front door as the two CMs were closing the doors. We were so close! Better luck next time. Then, I see the doors pop back open and the CMs tell us to hurry if we want to catch the last train. They must have seen my face as the doors closed and showed pity on us. I know they didn't have to re-open the doors (We've had plenty of other CMs close the doors or put the chain up right as we got to an entrance.) We ran through the empty queue into the last four seats on the train. I couldn't believe the ride was packed. DS3 had to sit on DH's lap. As soon as we sat down the ride started to move. That was close. We were off to experience some movie magic ...
The Great Movie Ride
We never thought this would be a ride for us. DS9 had to beg us to ride the first time (many moons ago). We reluctantly rode and adored it. It is neat with all animatronics. It takes you out of the park and makes you feel as if you've been dropped in the middle of the movies. On this tour, we encountered the Gangster (we've only had the Cowboy once). She was great and I could tell from some of the people's reactions in the tram, it was their first ride. I always have to hide DD6's head during the Aliens scene. This ride was no different. After that, she was fine. It was a great ride to end the evening at DHS.
After we exited GMR, we headed back to the front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre to retrieve DS3's stroller. I left it there in haste when hurrying into the ride. In the past, we had never taken the time to check-out the handprints and footprints out front. It was such a quiet area at this time of night, we decided to hang out for a bit.
I can't believe we closed down another park. Heading out to the parks in the early evening was the only way we really could handle the heat and humidity. It was energy-draining. We visit WDW at least three times a year (usually off-season). So, we don't have to tour commando anymore. However, I know for some people there that week it was their first and maybe only trip to WDW. They were in the parks during the day sweating it out, standing in long lines (You wouldn't believe how many people still don't understand the FP system) and wondering why people rave about WDW so much. At least we know better.
After such a great evening at DHS, we reluctantly headed for the exit around 10:45 PM.
Coming Up: Doing some damage to the bank account at Downtown Disney, DD6 bakes DH a birthday cake, three parks down, one to go ... (and more rain!)
WEDNESDAY (June 24, 2009)
After getting to bed after midnight, we awoke a little sluggish this morning. No one felt like battling the crowds today. So, we decided to take it easy and just visit Downtown Disney after lunch. But first, DD6 wanted to make DH's birthday cake for the BIG day tomorrow.
DD6 was so excited to make the cake. She loves to be my little helper in the kitchen. Usually, I make DH's birthday cake (yellow cake with chocolate icing). It has become a tradition. However, DD6 wanted to make the cake this year. She did everything from dumping the mix into the bowl to measuring the water and oil. She did such a great job this year, I may turn the task over to her for next year. It was so sweet watching her present her Daddy the cake with such pride on his birthday.
DD6 making her Daddy's birthday cake.
Having some hidden Mickey fun in the kitchen.
The finished cooling product.
After the cakes were done, we left them to cool. We would ice them later. We headed out to DTD. Our room was pretty close to DTD. If we were there in the spring or winter, we definitely would have walked. It was that close. However, we decided to drive because it was VERY hot and the sky looked overcast. I only had one umbrella and five people. You do the math.
Just being at DTD still make me feel like I am at WDW and on vacation. All the Disney-themed shops and specialty stores kept us busy for hours. Our first stop is always World of Disney.
World of Disney
Stitch was up to his usual trick of spitting on passerbyers. Beware!
I normally don't shop in the parks or even at the resort. I save all my Disney shopping for WoD. They have everything you can imagine and we get an Annual Passholder Discount. For this trip, we gave each child a budget of $20 each. They could spend it on anything they wanted with the exception of food. DD6 picked out a Slinky Dog (from Toy Story) at MK the first night, DS9 picked out a Webkinz and DS3 got a Buddy's Songs CD while at DAK. They each still had a little money left. Being at DTD would definitely empty their pockets and ours.
DS9 with his Webkinz and DD6's Slinky Dog.
DH and I don't buy ourselves souvenirs while at WDW. If we did each trip, we'd definitely be broke. However prior to this trip, I read about Vinylmation and was intrigued. So, I bought two while at WoD. I got the Ariel/Flounder and the Dalmation (mystery figure for the set). They are so cute and I can totally see how they can be addictive.
My Vinylmation figures.
After WoD we popped into Ghirardelli and got our free chocolate samples. Yummy! I didn't know about this until I read it on the DISboards. Thanks DISers! Now, we plan to stop in there every trip. We did the "pretend" browse and then headed out.
Once Upon A Toy
Another must stop on our DTD visits is Once Upon A Toy. The kids had fun playing with the Mr. Potato head part and DD6 found the My Little Pony dressing area. DH said he needed to go look for something. So, he took off while the kids and I played some more.
Playing around in Once Upon A Toy.
DS3 was ecstatic to find this Wall-E display. He loves anything Wall-E.
DH met back up with us and I decided I wanted to look for another birthday present for DH. So, DH took the boys to the Lego Store and DD6 came with me to Mickey's Pantry. Last year I saw a really cute Mickey waffle iron. Just like the ones they use in the WDW restaurants. When I entered the store I expected to see them. I didn't see them anywhere. So, I asked a CM. That is when they told me they are discontinued. How could that be possible????? Note to self for next time, if I see something I really want, get it at that time. It may not be there next time. I was so bummed. Maybe, they will come out with a newer version. I'll just have to check back next time. I told DH when we got home what I was looking for. He found a used one on ebay. Personally, I don't want someone's used waffle iron. Yuck! However, it was a nice gesture for DH to check online for me. But, I can wait for a new one.
I have posted too many pictures. I will continue this day in the next post ...
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