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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 4 February 6th

February 6 – Up bright and early, grabbed our free bagels and juice/coffee and headed to our resort. I had done online check in so we were in and out in under 10 minutes and on our way to Animal Kingdom to start our day!! Our room wasn't ready so they were supposed to text me with our room # (for the third year in a row, that never happened!!). When we got to AK, it was a little bit drizzly, and our new rain gear was perfect!! The only think I don't like about them is the reflective stripe down the arm reflects back something awful in photos. Oh well, small price to pay for being warm and dry (and compact!!). We watched the Mickey/Minnie/Pluto opener at rope drop – it is now at the front gate instead of by the tree of life?

Then we walked behind the CM's all the way to Asia.

I grabbed Fastpasses for Expedition Everest and we got in line – well we walked through what would be the line – got right on -back row is our favorite!!

Andy was a bit scared to ride this and he has ridden it many times over but again, as soon as it was over,
This is the part that scared Andy, the broken tracks and going backwards - I could ride it all day!!

  we got the “let's go again, let's go again!!” So we did, again no lines, no waiting.   He wanted to do it a third time but it was raining a bit harder now and you get that much wetter on the roller coaster – it was like a water ride, even in a small sprinkle.

So we made the trip from Asia to Africa and hopped in line for a Safari. We had the cutest little boy behind us. He had never ridden before and when the driver said that we were going on a two week safari, he was concerned. A few minutes later, when he told us that there is plenty of food in the Serengeti for everyone, he told his dad that that was good since we're gonna be out here for two weeks!! So sweet :)
Since I am a Thompson, we always get a photo of the Thompson Gazelle's

We had a great safari – the elephants were running and playing and the lion was out, which is unusual for us.

The cheetahs were all out, they are so beautiful!!

There were great views of the rhinos too, but I am never on the right side of the ride for good pictures though. When we ride it later, I'm getting in last!! After our safari ended “early”, we did some photopass pictures and then hopped the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. I love to go out there and see what they are doing with the animals.

This year, they were working on a bird that had just come in – so cool to watch!! The boys got to touch a snake (yuck!!) and we saw Jiminy Cricket, Rafiki,
Here you can really see the reflection from our new jackets

and Flik.

Flik helped Austin search for hidden Mickeys. It was so cute!!
See the hidden Mickey in the bug....

Then Rafiki came over and shook one of the trees and made the leaves fall off – they were so funny!! We checked out all the critters in their homes, like the turtles, blue poisonous frogs, spiders, snakes, lizards, and everything else that they have out there. We decided to swing into the petting zoo since a lot of the animals were roaming freely.

They are so funny – the boys got a kick out of their playground. It was lightly raining again so they wanted to be under cover just as much as we did. A quick wash of the hands and we were back on the trail for the train, viewing the monkeys along the way and the bat houses – we so need one of those and hope to build some ourselves this summer!!
The drums in Africa are always fun to sop and play with

Headed back to EE to use our FP's one more time. Primevil Whirl is closed (so bummed) so no Dinoland for us.

Went back to the car, met some fellow Browns fans on the tram (a nice break from all the Steeler fans on this Superbowl Sunday). Drove over to HS just in time for lunch at Pizza Planet. Lots more pin trading, hidden Mickey searching, and a quick ride on the Great Movie Ride (I never get tired of that one!!) and then off to meet Lotso – that bear can HUG!!

He hurt me actually lol!! He also got mad at me for trying to take a picture of the LGM and stood in front of it so I couldn't have him in it. Andy made one of the CM's day at this point. He asked to trade pins with him and he noticed Andy's Browns hoodie. So he asked him who he wanted to win the Superbowl tonight. Andrew looked at him and said, “ NOT THE STEELERS!!!” The guy about fell over backwards! He said, “He could've just said Green Bay but instead he said “NOT THE STEELERS”!!” He must've told 10 people before we got away LOL! Animation was about to open up at this point so we went in. We drew Pooh this time (it was the first of many – the boys would've done this all day long!!). On our way out, some CM's asked the boys if they wanted to play Toy Story Tic-Tac-Toe for a prize. So they did that and each won a game so they each got a little pack of Toy Story Memory Cards – they have had fun with them!! We decided to watch the new parade. It was really cute but I did miss the interaction that they used to have. It is so fun to see our favorite characters from Pixar though, especially all the Bugs Life Characters!! I don't know how Slim (walking stick) walks in that costume but it is sooo cool!!!

We headed back to the hotel to try and get our room. It was ready and we were surprised with an upgrade to a premium room – it was perfect, just steps from the parking lot in one direction, and the pool and food court in the other – we loved it!! I do have some complaints but I will leave them between myself and Disney :)
This was on the bed when we walked in the room

After we got things into the room, we headed for the buses to Magic Kingdom – EMH's started at 8 and we were set to go til 11 (at this point).

We headed straight for Big Thunder since it is Andy's favorite MK ride. No line to speak of so we rode it twice. Then we hopped on the train to Mickey's Toontown Fair. Our last time there before it closed. Took one last ride on Goofy's Barnstormer.

It's so fun but too short and I always hurt afterward – Bob is way too tall to ride it too. The boys didn't want to ride it a second time so we moved on. I should mention that we were pin trading, or at least browsing all the way around the park.  The kids talked to so many CM's that they wouldn't have otherwise, it was great for them!! We walked over to Buzz and it was walk on, then on to the Peoplemover, stopped for some pressed pennies before heading to Cosmic Rays for dinner. We ate outside and watched Wishes. Before the fireworks started they showed the memories on the castle – how cool that was!!! I could just sit in that park and do nothing but take it all in forever – I love it!! We had a great view of Tinkerbell as she flew out of the castle at the start of the fireworks!! From there we headed over to Pirates and again, no wait.
Sometimes, I'd like one of these at home!!

We were so tired at this point that we decided not to stay for the remaining EMH's! Oh and I should mention that I did something so dumb tonight! Our tickets are through the homeschooling program so the media couldnt' be on our room keys and not thinking, I told Bob we would only bring ours with charging privledges and leave the boys in the room. As soon as the bus pulled up to the stop it hit me – they need them for EMH!!! I went to City Hall and they were so nice – they issued me new keys for the boys right there. It made the other keys invalid but it worked – then of course, when we went on the rides they only wanted to see one room key lol – not for pirates though, they wanted all 4. We pin traded through all the shops on Main Street, had a happy birthday call from Goofy, and headed for the buses to go home. Set an early wake up time for tomorrow because we have our special day at EPCOT and we can't be late!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day three February 5th

February 5 – As part of the mousesavers rate, we got free breakfast for two. This means a free bagel and coffee or you can upgrade to the buffet for $6 each. The kids were 3.99 so against my better judgement, we did it. We should've stuck to the bagels and let Bob pay the $8 for the buffet. It was awful – my kids hated the syrup and wouldn't even eat the Mickey waffles!!

There isn't one thing good that I could say about the breakfast and it was a big waste of $20 because even Bob wasn't full when we left and that is unusal for him!! We went to Downtown Disney to pick up our tickets for the week. We went down on the homeschool plan and our tickets couldn't be added to our room so we could choose when and where we wanted to get them. I chose the day before our room reservations because we got the water parks and more option so we went to Typhoon Lagoon for the first time ever! Can I say it was AWESOME!!! We had so much fun!!

I am not a big water person, thanks to some bad experiences as a kid and of course, the first waterslide we choose, is the kind I HATE!! Gang Plank Falls – a family waterslide so we all fit in the tube but the water comes down on top of your head!!! That's the part I hate the most!! After that we did Keelhaul Falls and Mayday Falls and then walked forever (I highly recommend watershoes – our feet were so sore from walking on that rough concrete!!) to the storm slides. First we went the wrong way and then we ended up at the bottom of them so we had to walk all the way back up again. Andy wasn't too sure about this one (it's a body slide, no tube) but I told him he had no choice because there was no way that I was walking back down. It was the only way out!!  He went before me and when I got down there, he said “Let's go again!!” Again, my answer was, I'm not walking back up there lol!! So we decided to take a ride on the lazy river or Castaway Creek as it's known. That was awesome. There were literally no crowds at all so we had the river to ourselves, it seemed. The boys took turns being in tubes and just swimming. They were so good to me, making sure to push my tube away from any water that was running into the creek (that was no heated water coming out of the hoses)!! I felt like a real princess with all of that attention :) When we made it back to the start, we headed over to Shark Reef. We were going to swim with the sharks and sting rays but the feel of that 60 fresh water deterred us!! I do regret it a bit but even the 80 air temp. couldn't get me into that cold water!! We went under and watched the swimmers from below – it was so cool to see all the different fish and the sting rays are incredible!! I didn't mention this before but Andy is always very apprehensive to try a new ride (or slide in this case). We made our way over to the Crush-n-Gusher water coasters. These tubes are for 2 or 3 people and you have to carry them up many flights of stairs. I could've stayed at this ride all day except for the fact that my princess status was now gone and I had to carry said tubes up all these stairs. Since there are 4 of us, we always needed 2 tubes and they are not small tubes!! The boys weren't much help, although they tried to be. I did it 3 times and let them go with a 3 seater once. Again, we got to the top and Andy was my partner, he didn't want to do it. So we stood there aside and let others go ahead of us. I finally told him that he had to try it just once. The CM's told him that he would love it and they weren't wrong!! We did the Pineapple Plunger on our first trip and Banana Blaster on our next two. When they went back up, they did Coconut Crusher because Banana Blaster is only for 2 riders (it's the fastest of the 3!!). After we were done with the slides, we walked in the sandy white beach sand for a bit and then went to get our stuff. The boys did some pin trading and one of the CM's challenged Austin to a game of checkers. Andy and daddy were off in the changing room at the time.

When they came back, Austin wanted to finish his game so Andy and I headed up front to take some pictures. I purchased an underwater disposable camera from Amazon for a little over $7 and we used that on all the rides. We still have photos left on it so they aren't going to be developed for a little bit but I can't wait to see what kind of pictures we get from that day!!

After we went back to the hotel and changed, we headed over to The Boardwalk for lunch and to see the Syracuse game at the ESPN Club. The game was being shown on one of the outside TV's so we got lunch at the little hot dog stand and ate outside in the warm weather at half time. After the game, we did a little browsing in the gift shops and then headed back to the car. It was a bit drizzly out at this point but not bad.
I love these Surrey bikes and we will be back before the week is over to finally rent one!!  This year's trip is gong to be all about firsts!!  We aren't going to skip things that we have never done before.

The flowers are always so beautiful, no matter which resort or park you go to!!

We had some discount coupons for an outlet store so we drove down to that and wasted our time – it was a hole in the wall!! They claimed it was a Disney outlet but even though it had Disney items in it, it also had SpongeBob and the like and most of it looked fake. So we left there and decided to try the Cici's pizza with the coupon that they gave us at the hotel for that. Second time in the same day that I didn't go with my gut instincts and run away!! We had a coupon for a free buffet if you buy 2 drinks and a buffet. The adult buffet was $5.99 and the kids was $3.99. They gave us one free adult buffet and one free kids buffet but the four drinks that we had to buy cost us $9.96!!!! The pizza was GROSS, the soda was gross!! I decided to try the iced tea so I put a little in the cup to taste it and all I could smell was sulfur!!! YUCK!! So another $22 down the drain and again, nobody (but Andy) was full when we left. Back to the hotel because tomorrow we get to check in at All Star Sports!!!

The beginning of my trip reports/February THIRD

I have been trying to write up my trip reports and did really well right when we got home but have not done so well since. I figured that I could at least get the first few up. I hope it's okay to do them this way instead of on the group page....

Driving South – we woke up to snow showers but nothing we couldn't handle. The boys got all their travel entertainment in the car and we were on our way!!Were on the thruway by about 7 and despite some yucky weather on I-81, we made awesome time through both NY and PA!! The sun started to come up and the falling snow stopped before we got to Binghamton.

The mountains in PA are so pretty - it's not a bad ride as long as the skies are clear and the wind isn't blowing!!

We were eating lunch in Maryland by 12:30!! I brought lunchmeat and pb&J from home along with sodas and chips so our lunch was free!! We try not to spend anymore than we have to on the trips down and back to make up for the rest of the time in between lol!! We took the risk of driving through DC and the beltways and sailed through without a hitch - those traveling north weren't so fortunate though.. It was getting to be dinner time when we hit North Carolina and we had decided we wanted to eat at Wendy's. One of my fellow co-op moms had told me how awesome their new fries are and I wanted to try them. I have to say that I was not disappointed!! We have tried to stop the McDonald's habit and wanted to avoid it as much as possible on this trip. Andy is a fan of Mickey-D's so I wasn't sure how well this would go over!! Of course, because we were looking for a Wendy's, there weren't any until mile marker 105, I believe!! We waited it out and finally got there. It was in a gas station with a Subway and a huge convenience store and that truck in the photo below.

After we ate, we continued on for another 125 miles or so until we stopped at a Best Western in SC at mile marker 181 – I don't recommend it as a Mickey's Mile Marker!! We got a good price by picking up the book at the Welcome Center, I think we paid $54. The room was nice but their staff was less than friendly and not readily available. THey did have free wifi in the room. The deluxe breakfast that they advertised was less than we hoped for (and we don't hope for much). They had cereal but no milk, lukewarm “grits”, and coffee that looked like amber colored water. The plus side was, we were in SC and there were palm trees outside our window!! Andy described the scene as paradise lol!!

We went from needing heavy sweatshirts, to short sleeves by afternoon on day 1!!
We got up early on the second day and drove the rest of the way through SC and all of GA without stopping – we were at the Florida Welcome Center having free orange juice by 11!! We continued on to our usual stop in St. Augustine for lunch at Sabaro's and a visit to the Disney outlet! I totally forgot to bring our ponchos with us and I hate them anyway. They had a bunch of them in the outlet that were actual jackets but they fold up inside of themselves and have a handle - $7.95 each, down from around $25 or 30, I believe. We grabbed 4 of them and some frames for $1.99 and 3.99 (I always buy last year's frames there, the one that was 1.99 was $19.99!! Andy got some legos of park rides (9.99 down from 19.99) and Austin decided to wait til we get to Downtown Disney to spend any of his money.

                                       We always get a photo beside this fountain at the outlet!

We left the outlet to continue our trek south. We finally arrived in Orlando to 83 degrees!! I booked the mousesavers rate at the Best Western in Downtown Disney. It was a great room!! Queen sized beds, a balcony, fridge, coffeemaker, and a nice big bathroom area!
 There is nothing like the feeling we get when we finally see this sign for the first time!!!We went over to Downtown Disney to get it in our system, do a little pin trading, and just take it all in. I am so glad that I got a pin deal off ebay – the boys had the best time trading on this trip!! They got a lot of them that they wanted for a simple trade, instead of $8 - $12 each!! The pin traders store in DD had the board open (the only time we were there for the whole trip that it was open while we were there!!) They each traded for 2 that they wanted and we moved on. For those of you that don't know, you can go in as a family and trade 2 pins or you can go in individually and trade 2 pins each. To me, that was strange but whatever.. We then headed to Walmart to get our snacks for the week, grabbed subs at Subway and brought them back to the room to eat them on the balcony. After dinner we went down to the pool. The water was very warm but it was a cloud free night and 83 degrees dropped pretty quickly so I chickened out and only put my feet in. It was a cold walk back to the room for those that were wet lol!! We went back to the room to try and get to sleep a little early but ended up watching the must dos channel til after 11!!! Why does that channel never get old?

One of my most favorite sights is the Mickey topiary and all of these amazing flower pots!!  I love this fountain so very much!!! I even did a photopass picture here where I got Tinkerbell's wings!!!

We found this familiar sight in a new place this year - we assume because they are remodeling Pooh's corner

WOODY!!! How cool is a larger than life Woody made out of legos? We discovered him in the make shift lego store while the real store gets remodeled. I could not stand being in this store - the smell of that plastic top or whatever it is was nauseating to me!!!

The boys had to pose with this pirate - when I said we have lots of pictures of you with him, Andy said - not one from Twenty Eleven!!!