Well, the big secret was... we went to Disney World! We spent a week in that magical land and had a fine time! I have a few pictures, of course. Be warned, an extremely long post follows! ~:-D
We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It opened sometime when I was in high school and I remember seeing it on Good Morning America... ever since then I have wanted to stay there. It was beautiful! Here is the lobby.
It was very homey and comfortable feeling while still being grand. We "splurged" on the club level room... well worth it for the concierge service and breakfast every morning (and snacks throughout the day if you wish). Another perk of the club was a guaranteed savanna view from your room. Let's just say there are animals involved...
There were so many different animals outside... it was funny. We'd be getting ready in the morning (or whenever) and Michael would yell out "COOL!" That's how I knew there was a neat new animal outside. I giggled at him (*ahem* with him) a lot on this trip!
Our first night there (after hitting up Target for baby supplies) we headed to Epcot. We figured we would find a good place to eat and take in a few calm attractions. We walked around for a while being indecisive about where to eat. We finally decided and had our first dining plan experience (worth the money if you're wondering). Then we headed over to ride Epcot's Finding Nemo ride. It was very cool. Clara could ride! You hop in a clam shell and ride around a track "interacting" with a movie. Connor had fun finding Nemo as we rode along. At the end was a small aquarium area.
After Nemo, we headed toward the lake to get a spot to see the fireworks show. That lasted less than a minute. The fireworks at Epcot are very intense as you are right under them. Little did we know, Connor is scared to death of fireworks. The first bang and he started to scream his head off. There was no consoling him. Poor kid. We made a quick exit (well, as quick as possible).
The next day we headed to the Animal Kingdom. Connor had his first character experience there. He met Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger. At first he said he didn't want to see them, but as soon as it was our turn he ran right up to Pooh and gave him a hug. It was very cute. As we were leaving, it was time for Eeyore's break. To our surprise, he wanted Connor to walk up the path with him.
Although he was a little unsure at first, he quickly warmed up to the idea.
It was at the Animal Kingdom that we discovered Connor's other terror... dark movies with special effects. We went in the Bug's Life movie and Connor once again freaked. We finally figured out that it is mainly the volume of things that scares him, but if it's dark as well... things are going to get nasty.
We also found out that he loves rides. We started out slow with a simple up/down circular ride. He giggled and laughed the whole time. It was great!
That evening for an early dinner we ate at Wolfgang Puck's and then headed home "early" due to the weather (Barry was starting to show his rain). It rained through the night and the next day we headed to Epcot again... we had to make sure to see everything! We went in the exhibits (Connor learned if there is a fire in your house to "Get out and stay out!") and hit up the rides. Connor loved Test Track. Michael and I rode Mission Space. I must say, even with the little ones along, we didn't have much trouble riding what we wanted to. We would get a fast pass (a little ticket that gives you a time to return to the line and have a very short wait before you ride) and whoever went first would ask for a "baby swap" as they entered. This was another fast pass that wasn't time bound and allowed 3 others to board... so you could swap babies. It was great. It would've been more fun to ride together, but you take what you can get, right?
That night we had French food. It was very good and Michael was very happy with his meal full of salmon... smoked salmon appetizer and salmon entree. Once again I giggled as the waitress asked him if he was going to eat all the salmon... he couldn't understand her (she had a French accent). It was cute. That night we got nearly to the parking lot before the fireworks began. :-)
On Sunday we decided to venture into the Magic Kingdom... Saturday is too busy a day there and there was a "special" event... Gay Days. Needless to say, we chose not to participate. It was still very busy on Sunday, but we had a good time anyway. Here's Clara taking a little rest from her stroller during the parade.
It got a little hot and tired for me by the middle of the day and I (along with the kids) was ready to get home. We tried to get them to take a little nap, but it just wasn't happening (darn 10 min car naps!), so we headed to the pool. Connor did so well once we put a float vest on him (I've already gotten him one for the pool here this summer). He loved the slide and had fun swimming. I went in early with Clara and started getting ready for the evening... Michael and I were going out!
We headed over to Fort Wilderness for the Hoop-dee-doo Review that was recommended to us by some friends. It was fun. Afterwards, we headed back into the Magic Kingdom for some extra hours. We took in the rides together that we knew wouldn't happen with the kids along and just enjoyed ourselves in general. We got a babysitter for the evening through Kids Night Out. I would recommend them to anyone traveling to Disney with kids. It was good to have a evening to ourselves. I would even say I'll use them more on our next visit.
Our next stop was Disney/MGM Studios. I'd say this day was the most child oriented. Here we went to the Playhouse Disney Character lunch at Hollywood and Vine. It was a buffet. I was very impressed when the chef came out and walked me through the line explaining what Connor could eat. Of course, Connor was too distracted to eat much of anything, but at least I didn't have to worry about him keeling over dead. After this day, I was Playhouse Disney'ed out... I still have the Little Einsteins theme song stuck in my head... of course it alternated with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme, so I guess it could be worse. ;-)
Other than Playhouse Disney stuff, we went to the "sump'in sump'in" Extreme Stunt Show (yeah, I can't remember what it's called and that's what Michael said). It was very cool. Anytime you see cars driving on two wheels right in front of your eyes is cool. We took the backlot tour and went on the Tower of Terror. Connor's favorite part was the Honey I Shrunk the Kid's playground... everything was huge and there was spraying water involved. That made it a sure winner for Connor. Connor also met Buzz and Woody. He was very calm about the whole thing, but you could tell he was excited.
We also saw Sully from Monsters, Inc. (this photo is the only proof from our camera that I indeed went on this trip... I need to stop letting that happen!)
In our final full day, we went to Blizzard Beach. If we visit again next year, this probably will not be a stop... much better for older kids. It was fun playing in the kids area, but it was not fun dealing with the tantrum that came once Connor found out he couldn't really do anything else. I think we'll stick to the pool until we have elementary aged kiddos.
After a nap we headed back to Animal Kingdom, for a ride on Everest and for a wind chime that was just lovely...
It was then back to the Magic Kingdom. This time we were all about Futureland and the Buzz ride and the Laugh Floor. We took a break for the fireworks. With a little prep (a warning of what to expect and showing him how to cover his ears) Connor was good to go. He loved them and even cheered! He then got to drive a race car twice! As we were headed out, the final parade was starting. Connor loved it! His favorite thing was seeing Peter Pan. Even though it sounds cliche, that final night was truly magical!
We had a great trip and are planning on returning next year. Hopefully more of our family can join us next time! There will be more pictures coming (ordered from Disney) and I'm sure I'll remember more things I want to talk about as time goes on... but for now I'm done blabbering! TTFN!