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Disney Trip Report Day 7 December 1st

This will be called the day when my family could have ganged up on me, strangled me, and strung me up by my toes to dangle from the highest point of Cinderella’s Castle!

We are awake at about 5 AM, hoping to be on the road no later than 6:15 so we can get to the Magic Kingdom in time for the Christmas parade taping.  We end up on the road at about 6:30, and we are just arriving at the entrance to the Kingdom at about 7:05.  They are letting in groups of about 50 at a time, but we are pretty much the end of the group, so I think our group may be the last one let in.

They have us standing on Main Street for a while, and then after a good hour, they tell us that we will be moving down towards the castle foreground.  We are ushered down Main Street, packed in like sardines in a tin can, uncomfortable from standing so long, and now it is beginning to get hot and the kids are starting to get crabby.

After another hour, and seeing nothing but the warm up act telling us how much we will all love the show, we will enjoy being on TV, and reading us the rules (no strollers, no kids on shoulders, no logo shirts, etc), my kids are completely done with the whole parade thing.  Granuaile refuses to stand, sit or be held – she’s just completely done, and tired to boot.  I tell Jim I have to make my way out of the pack with the baby – there is no way she can wait for anything to go on, and we are hearing rumors that this could go on until 3 o’clock or later.  I make my way out of the crowd, and hear several cast members making comments about this being way too hard for people with kids to do.  I find our stroller, with Jim tagging behind, and we head over to Tomorrowland, where the rope is still up as the park hasn’t officially opened yet.  Pretty soon, the whole clan has made their escape, and we head right over to Buzz Lightyear.  Most everything is pretty much a walk on at this stage of the game, and that’s good.  This is the first day without rain, and it’s warming up already. 

Eilis is really, really enjoying Aunt Mary and Uncle Ted.  She has taken right to them and is excited about spending time with them.  Jim convinces Brighid and I that we should ride Space Mountain, and like idiots, we all get in line, only to have him step out of   line to take a phone call.  He never comes back 🙁

I am amazed that I can fit on Space Mountain, but I still am not  a fan of roller coasters – especially the ones in the dark.  But, I’m glad I rode it 🙂  

We do a few other things, and about lunch time, Ann and I take a now sleeping Granuaile over to a restaurant to get something to eat while the rest of the gang goes to Big Thunder Mountain.  We have a nice lunch, and the rest of the gang meets us in the restaurant, where they finish up all of the leftovers.  We then decide to head over to Pirates of the Caribbean, which does have a bit of a wait.  The baby is still sleeping, so I sit out with her, and I get to enjoy the Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial show. 

By the time the gang is done on POTC, we decide it’s time to head out of the park.  We have a long drive ahead of us, so we want to get on the road and get as far as we can before stopping for the night.

We end up pulling in to South Carolina at about 8 o’clock, and decide not to put in a wake up call, but try to get up and out early.  We are back on the road by about 6 AM and home by 8.

This was a good trip.  Nothing felt rushed, nothing felt like something we had to do.  We got to enjoy some of all of the parks, and we had some very nice meals. 

The best part of a trip to Disney is knowing we’ll be back again.  And we look forward to our January trip.

Disney Trip Report Day 6 November 30th

As this is going to be our most ambitious day of the week, we are all up and ready to head over to Animal Kingdom bright and early.  Brighid runs to get fast passes for Kali River rapids, and the rest of us head in to Its tough to Be a Bug.  There are no lines this early in the morning, but we do have to wait for the second show to start.  We are hoping Brighid catches up with us, but she does not, and in we go.  As always, a fun show, not to be missed.  Although, with no lines, you don’t get to really admire the Tree of Life.

Our half day at Animal Kingdom goes pretty well.  We don’t have a wait for anything, and in addition to the animals we get to see, we also ride Expedition Everest twice, the safari, Kali river rapids twice, and we do a few other things as well.  We have a late afternoon lunch reservation at Hollywood and Vine to see the characters from Playhouse Disney, so we start our journey out of Animal Kingdom in time to have lunch at 2 o’clock at MGM Studios.

We arrive just in time for the lunch ADR, but they are switching out characters as we get there, so it’s a few minutes before we see anyone.  Not only is Eilis thrilled to see the characters she has grown up with, but Brighid and Granuaile are equally excited to see characters they know and love.  Because we have made a late lunch, we find ourselves at the tail end of everything.  We get very quick visits from each of the characters, but only as they are on their way “home” for the day.  They are taking down the Playhouse Disney meal decorations as we are sitting there, and we soon notice that ours is the only table that still shows any indication this is a character meal.  Our waitress is a bit snippy, and when I inquire about soup on the buffet, she says there is none.  I tell her I’ve recently had gastric bypass surgery, and wonder if they can discount my meal, since I won’t be able to eat much of anything.  She tells me they can’t do that without a card from my surgeon.  My surgeon doesn’t give out cards 🙁   I grab a small piece of salmon and a couple of cubes of cheese, and plan to make this my meal.  In the end, she must have noticed that even with the small amount of food on my plate, I still left stuff, and she only charged me for a kids’ meal.  Believe it or not, the bright spot of this meal is the guy who is cleaning up for the change over to dinner.  He is an older guy from Ireland, and he spends some time chatting with us.  He is funny and completely adorable, and he even brings Ann a birthday card, signed by the Playhouse disney characters. 

We do a few more things around MGM, and then meet up with Dori and Spider and Aviva to take in the Great Movie Ride.  Eilis is grateful to have a new best friend, and after the movie ride, Dori and I have a few minutes to sit and talk while the gang goes in to see One Man’s Dream.  We head over to see the Osbourne lights just as they are about to be turned on.  Amazing is about all I can say.  I didn’t love the dancing aspect this year – it wasn’t awful, I just don’t think it added much to an already amazing display.  We stood around at least a half hour admiring everything here – the lights and everything are just so pretty.  The fake snow is such a nice touch.  The holiday music is great.  The only disappointment I had this year was the t-shirt I wanted was only in stock in a size 3 XL – my size just 4 short months ago, but now no where near what I wear 🙁

Because it has been such a long day, we decided to head back to the hotel.  We say our goodbyes to Dori, Spider and Aviva and head back to our hotel.  Dinner tonight is at the Turf Club restaurant at Saratoga Springs.  I know it’s been a long day, and we’re all pretty tired, but the dinner did not go well.  Jim is bitching at Eilis, Grace doesn’t want to sit still, Brighid has a terrible attitude, and the only thing they have here that I can safely eat is chicken soup, but they have to send the chef out to discuss that with me.  Poor Ann, I’m sure, is ready to head home at this point in time!   The waitress is way to chatty with another table, and gets the order wrong.  I end up leaving with Eilis and Granuaile in tow before our dinner gets there.  Fortunately, this is our last night, and we can get in bed early.

Back at the room, we are waiting for my Aunt Mary and Uncle Ted to come down from Ocala.  We ended up scoring 2 extra tickets to the taping of the Walt Disney World Christmas parade, and we all have to be there at 7 AM sharp tomorrow for the taping.  Interestingly enough, my Aunt and Uncle were having a drink at the Turf Club as we were having dinner, but we all must have walked right past them when we left the restaurant at our different times!!

When Aunt Mary gets there, we end up talking a little later than I think we planned to, but it’s so nice to have time with the family – especially the ones we don’t get to see very often.  We are all packed, clothes laid out for the morning, and pretty much ready to go by the time we go to bed.  The only thing we should have done is pack the car with as much as we could, but we decide to do it in the morning.

We’re all off to bed for the last time on this trip at Saratoga Springs!

Disney Trip Report Day 5 November 29th

We have nothing planned for today, except meeting Dori and her family for dinner tonight at 1900 Park Fare.  I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to that!   I have had at least a half dozen reservations at 1900 Park Fare and have yet to make one of them for various reasons.  Plus, it will be nice to see Dori – I haven’t seen her in ages!!

We decided to try and get up a little earlier than we have been getting up and head over to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  We get there just as the park is opening, and make a quick decision to do Universal Studios first, since we don’t know how much time we’ll have to spend.  As soon as we go in, we find that there are no lines and no waiting for Jimmy Neutron or Shrek, so we do both.  I’ve never done Jimmy Neutron, so it was fun to try something new.  Outside of Shrek, the kids get in line to meet the big guy and the Mrs. while I go grab the stroller. 

We actually manage to see a good bit of Universal in a relatively short period of time, and Brighid even gets asked to do a taste test of some french fries, in exchange for $15 in Universal Dollars (we didn’t even know there was such a thing!   What will we do with all the Itchy and Scratchy dollars we bought???).  Then came the turning point of the day.  We are breezing by the Fear Factor Live stage show theater when they make an announcement that they are looking for two teams of two to participate in the show.  I love the show Fear Factor, and I ask to get in line and see the show.  As we’re waiting in the line, they are still calling for these teams, and I tell Jim and Brighid they should go and see about doing it.  Jim jumps right on it, but Brighid is hesitant.  I tell her it’s a theme park.  OBVIOUSLY they are not going to serve you anything nasty – you’ll get sick, leave the park, and won’t spend money here anymore.  She finally agrees, and the two of them head off to join the show.

Once in the theater, my little Eilis gets selected to participate in the show as well, and she is very excited!   She gets to turn the wheel that raises and lowers some of the other contestants.  She is excellent at it, and we are looking into  colleges that offer this as a major.  She was so good, she could make it a career.  We soon find out that Jim and Brighid have been chosen for the eating portion of the show, and their challengers are two big, muscular, manly men with foreign accents.  Remember Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live?   This could have been them.  I am still convinced that there is no way on this planet that Universal Studios would accept the responsibility of these guests getting sick and puking all over the theme park, all the way up to the point where they are dumping awful, nasty things into a blender.  They start with fish parts – lemon juice containing oysters, clams, mussels, and squid, followed by meat scraps, and sour milk.  Then they add the piece de resistance.  On top of the already nasty mess, they give them live bugs – crickets, meal worms, cock roaches, and other nastiness.  Part of me is still looking for the out – like they are going to switch the smoothie that they’ve created using Dr. Frankenstein’s recipe with a regular old milkshake.  Then it’s time to drink.  Hans and Franz pretty much gulp theirs down, swallowing it in about two swigs, high fiving each other, and acting all victorious.  Jim has put his cup to his lips, made an awful, creepy, nasty, I’m gonna puke face and then puts his cup down.  And there’s my little Brighid, one hand daintily holding her nose, the other hand wrapped tightly around the cup of doom, drinking as fast as she can.  What a proud Mommy moment that was for me 🙂

So Jim and Brighid lose the challenge, and lose out on the fabulous prize – a plastic cup that says Fear is Not a Factor for Me.  Brighid walks out of the show crying because her father, at the last minute, decided to fake her out and never actually drank any of the drink.  She is soon recuperated from the trauma of the deception and now she is answering questions from her adoring fans, most of whom also assumed Universal would never give them something so awful to drink.  While her five minutes of fame eases the pain of having her father fake her out at the show, food is not on her list of high priorities.

 We plug on through, finishing most of what we wanted to do at Universal.  Brighid rewards herself with a Fear Factor t-shirt, using those fabulous Universal dollars she was offered when she ate the other experimental meal of the day (those french fries), and we move on over to Islands of Adventure.  As we visit some of our favorite parts of this park, we come to realize that dinner at 1900 Park Fare is not going to be in the cards.  Something about sour milk, mixing with the lemon juice and the fish parts probably has a hand in this.  We do as much as we can at Islands of Adventure, then head back to the hotel.  Since, regardless of what Brighid has eaten today, the rest of us still have to eat, so the decision is made to just stay pretty local and have a light meal, so we go to Olivia’s at Old Key West.

I have never eaten here, and it’s a very casual, fun environment.  The restaurant is smaller than I imagined, but because we opted to eat so late in the evening, it’s not terribly busy.  I am disappointed again by the extremely limited, exactly like every other restaurant kids menu.  Eilis likes some more grown up things, and I am trying desperately to get her into a healthier eating pattern – and these foods stick to kid basics.  Granuaile doesn’t eat much of a kids meal – she’s not big on burgers or chicken nuggets – so for her second meal in a row, she ends up with the fruit and veggie platter, less the veggies, because they are served raw, and she doesn’t have enough teeth to truly appreciate raw veggies at this point.  But it seems as though everyone else enjoys their meals, and we are soon back at the hotel relaxing.

Tomorrow is a busy day.  We are going to try to do some of Animal Kingdom, and then head over to MGM so we can see the Osbourne lights.  If luck is on our side, we’ll catch up with Dori and her family at MGM before the lights, so we can at least see them for a little while!