Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Week of Parks - The Disney Edition 1

To jump back into our Florida adventure, after our visits to the National Parks we spent a week in Orlando with family visiting the Disney and Universal parks. It was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. The only camera I carried was my phone and I didn't take any pictures of the amazing house we stayed in. Fail.

Jim's mom found a house to rent so we could all stay in one place. It had 7 bedrooms and an enclosed swimming pool. There were other cool things too, but I think the pool and hot tub was the most utilized feature of the home. Jim's brothers and their significant others were there, plus any offspring, and his parents. His mom purchased the Disney picture package so we could get all the pics taken at the park and that contributed to my not carrying a camera. So did the idea that I didn't want to leave it unaccompanied in the stroller to go on a ride, just to risk it going missing. I love the camera too much for that.

We had three day passes to Disney parks, and our game plan completely changed after every single day. We ended up spending two days at the Magic Kingdom and one day at Hollywood Studios.

The first thing we did was meet Mary Poppins. I'm not even sure half of the kids have seen the movie, there was just something magical about her being right there when we walked in. Aeryn and I used to watch it when she was little so I know that she was familiar with those characters.

We took a chance and tried the teacups with Tater Tot. The spinning was kept to a minimum - just in case - and he seemed to like them fairly well.

Aeryn was hesitant about many of the rides because she is so afraid of getting motion sick. Star Tours was the first one she absolutely loved and said without hesitation that she would ride again.

Occasionally the grownups went off on their own and someone would stay with the kids. We learned really quickly that the fast pass system could be utilized by this sort of family arrangement - one person would go on the ride and they would give a complimentary fast pass so the adult hanging back with the kids could trade places and go on the ride without waiting after the first group had gone. It was pretty sweet actually. After the first day we used this quite frequently and it enabled a lot of adults to go on a lot of rides.

Of course the kids loved the gift shops. Aeryn and N had similar interests in the shops and ended up both picking out the pink Cheshire cat as their souvenir.

One of the best parts for me was just that all the kids got to be together.

Tate was absolutely mesmerized by It's a Small World.

I learned that when Ellie gets her learner's permit I am going to stay far, far away. Although as she was quick to point out "this isn't anything like a real car," so it may not be as scary as I fear.

One of the things we learned about from actually reading the park map was a free portal game that is scattered throughout the park. Every member of our group was given a pack of trading cards with different characters and spells. We were on a quest to solve mysteries and capture villains. Each portal would give a clue how to defeat a villain, or where to go to find the next clue. Occasionally they would have to "cast a spell" or other such tasks. We ended up capturing four of the eleven villains and the girls have said this was one of their favorite parts of the park. T was sick this day and I think this was the perfect activity for him to miss, if he had to miss something. It was quite a girly day.

It wasn't our intent to stay for the electrical parade but I'm so glad it happened that way. Not all the kids were with us at that time, but it was pretty spectacular. I had never seen it myself. It was pretty amazing.

Of course that meant we were also able to see the fireworks. It is a classic part of Disney that I'm so happy to have been there for. I'm not sure anything will top the magic of Aeryn's first trip to Disneyland when she was completely amazed by every little thing, but this was pretty fabulous too.

It was definitely a magical experience. There were adjustment pains like trying to keep a group of 15 together, learning how to structure the day so we weren't just running back and forth across the park for every ride, adapting to what the kids were ready and willing to do, etc. I'm so thankful we were able to go and I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

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