Good Morning my TA friends,
I am feeling less depressed today and we are settling back into our routine at home. I have been enjoying looking at my pictures..Hope this isn't too long..
Day 1-Leave Boston on 7:00 am flight and arrive Orlando at 10:30..We got a great rental car rate on Budget and then took the upgrade to a deluxe mini-van fully loaded with DVD. Total price for 9 days was $276. Drove to the Clarion LBV to meet my parents. They are very strict about their check-in time and won't let you in until 4 which was a pain. We all went over to Chick-fil-A for lunch and then over to the Premium Outlet Center to get my daughter some shoes at Stride Rite. This place was packed. It took 20 minutes to get a parking spot. I don't think the stores had any great bargains but if you are coming from overseaas I think the prices are good. It was a nice way to kill some time. Finally got to check-in at 3:30. Enjoyed the pool and then a cheap dinner at CiCi's pizza. Had to get everyone to bed early for our day at MK.
Day 2-Magic Kingdom here we come (first we had to drop my parents elderly shih tzu at Best Friends Pet Care)..Well, I bought the Unofficial Guide to Disney World and read the thing cover to cover. For those of you who are new to Disney let me advice you it takes time to get your bearing. Have a plan. When you have multi-generations touring together you can't see and do it all. Decide what is the most important. For us it was riding the new Dumbo, Great Goofini and Fantasyland. We were able to stay ahead of the crowds but by the middle of the day the crowds were huge in Frontierland/Advenure land. Now here comes the exciting part. My dad is a retired Marine and was chosen to be "Veteran of the Day." We watched the parade, went over to Tomorrowland and then at 4:45 we went back to the flag area at the start of Main Street. My dad was honored and helped with the flag ceremony while the band played. We all got to march behind him and the Dapper Dan's down Main Street and then had a private pinning ceremony and photo shoot. Truly incredible experience. The kids and grown ups were tuckered out by that point and we were ready to head back to the hotel for a swim, dinner and relaxation before our trip to AK..
Day 3 Animal Kingdom-We were far more organized today. Went right to the Kilimanjaro Safari and only had a 20 minute wait. From there we went over to Kali River Rapids and again only a 20 minute wait. My dad took my three year old and went to Everest to get fast passes while the rest of us enjoyed Kali. We only had an hour wait for Everest so we went on the Jungle Trek. Everest was my favorite ride of all four parks. From there we headed to Dino Land for lunch and the Finding Nemo show. We finished the day with the Bugs Life 3D movie and the parade. Animal Kingdom is a great place to enjoy a slower paced day. We didn't do the Camp Minnie and Mickey area. The kids wanted to leave and head back for a swim. We ate at Flippers Pizzeria at Crossroads Plaza and it was far supperior than Cici's.
Day 4-down day..We took advantage of the breakfast special at the Clarion before checking out. We headed to Downtown Disney to walk around. I thought my girls heads were going to explode in the World of Disney shops. We checked into our Kissimmee house rental at 3pm. It was true paradise. I know many people debate whether to stay on a Disney property or get a condo/house rental. I loved having so much space. It was so nice to have our own full kitchen. My parents love to cook and we made some terrific meals. The best aspect was the washer and dryer and our own private pool.We used VRBO.com to find our house. We had my parents Shih Tzu with us so we had to find a dog-friendly rental.
Day 5-Off to Epcot. The Flower and Garden festival was just amazing. The kids loved Tinker Bell's fairy garden and Bambi's butterfly Garden. The guys did Mission Space and we got fast passes for test track. We went in two teams because my youngest couldn't do it. Test Track was so cool. We never made it to Soarin and the fast passes were just about gone when we got there. Epcot is huge. I never realized how much walking there is. My tip for Epcot is that it is the best place for Character Greetings. My girls got to meet and spend a nice amount of time with Alice, Mary Poppins, Aurora, and Belle and the Beast. With young children there isn't tons for them to do in the countries. We went as far as France and took the boat lunch back to Future World. We did space ship earth and headed back to the house. That night my parents stayed at the house and hubby and I went back to MK for Space Mountain, Wishes show, and Haunted Mansion. Pirates of the Carribean was still broken down (2 whole days) so we were disappointed didn't get to ride it.
Day 6-Beach here we come..My hubby and I took the girls over to Seminole to visit family. We left there and enjoyed an awesome afternoon at Clearwater Beach. The waves were huge that day which is very suprising. It is not a bad drive out to the area and I highly recommend doing it for a day trip. They have excellent bath house facilities so you can change into your suits when you get to the beach. It can take a little time to find a parking spot but for we had a nice group that saw us and waved us over to the spot they were leaving.
Day 7-Off to Hollywood Studios. I must say that if you are traveling with small children you may want to skip this park. We didn't have a bad time by any means but the streets are very narrow and it gets very congested. We were able to do the Rockin Coaster and Tower of Terror but Toy Story was impossible. There are so many shows at DHS but not many attractions. Others may have a different opion though. Get fast passes for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid to avoid waiting in the stand by line. That gave us time to go the Character center and meet Sorcered Mickey and Winnie the Pooh. The Beauty and Beast show was fantastic. My girls loved the costumes. I would recommend the Muppets. The great movie ride is pretty lame.
Day 8- Time to start getting ready to go home. We went back to Downtown Disney and then took a little drive to old Kissimme and Lake Toho. The kids were more interested in swimming so we returned to our house and enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon in the pool. The grown ups started packing and that night we celebrated my daughter's 3rd birthday (a week early) with a princess cake and Giordano's Stuffed Pizza..(super yummy)
Day 9-Bye Florida and Disney World, Thank you for a great vacation. It was so nice to travel with three generations. We had an easy time at the airport and a great flight back to Boston.
If I can share this tip. There is no human way to see and do everything that Disney/Orlando has to offer. Don't allow yourself to be disappointed if you don't get to see a certain character, ride a certain ride, or see a show. Have lots of patience and recognize that when it is time to be done for a day and the kids are exhausted don't push them to the breaking point. I saw many families forcing the kids to keep going and that is just not fun for anyone.
My other tip is try and prepare some of your own food. We got very sick of eating out while in the hotel. We did eat cold cereal and muffins in our room which saved time and money. We were able to pack picnic lunches for the parks and the beach which saved us a ton of money and were more nutritious. We all enjoyed the ice cream and smoothie treats at the parks for an afternoon treat.
Thank you all for your help. I look forward to now being able to answer questions for others. I think when the girls are older and do better in restaurants I wouldn't mind staying on property and trying the dining plan. All of the resort restaurants sound so good. I am sure all you pros love experimenting with Disney travels.