I just want to get all this stuff about our vacation down before I forget. This will probably be boring to most people. Later in the week (if I ever survive this crazy busy week) I’ll try to come back with something more coherent.
I told her on Saturday the 14th, in the afternoon. It was AWESOME. She had no idea, and kept thinking I was kidding her. What happened was that I had already told her that she was going to get to have a playdate with her friend W at the park. She was looking forward to that. Then on Saturday afternoon, I mentioned that D@ney was a park. She actually led up to that by pointing out all the Mi*key Mouses that were on a display in a store, and asking me when we could go see him. So I asked her which park she wanted to have a playdate at and gave her three choices–the park near our house, a favorite park upstate or D&ney. It was awesome.
On Sunday, we got up super early and got on our crazy flight. We flew to Baltimore and then on a plane that went to Orlando via Raleigh-Durham. While we were on the ground in R-D, Selam was chatting up the flight attendants while waiting in line for the bathroom. The next thing we knew, she got an invitation into the cockpit. She got to sit in the seat, flip a few switches and she and W (when he found out what she was doing, he bee-lined it to the cockpit) each got to make an announcement over the PA. We landed in Florida and got directly on the magical express. That is the most awesome thing, folks. How cool is it to not have to collect and drag your luggage? When we got there, we checked into our super cool room and headed to the amazing pool. We swam for quite a while, and then went back up to our room. The luggage had arrived and we were unloading things when the third family got there. The kids ran around like banshees for a while. Dinner from the hotel snack bar and off to bed.
On Monday, we got up and after playing a bit, went to the pool to play for a couple of hours. After lunch we headed to Downtown Rodentland and walked about. Selam got tired and we headed back early. Dinner and bed.
Tuesday, was the day. Penelope, one of Selam’s fairy godmothers, arrived bright and early. After some squealing and jumping around, we all got on the bus for the park. We were pretty early to arrive, maybe 9:30. When we got in the park and got a stroller (yes, this is my confession–I should have brought a stroller….everyone was right. I was wrong.) first thing in the park, we got the chance to go see three princesses with only the tiniest line. We did that, and I think Selam’s eyes very nearly popped out of her head. She was enchanted. When we left that little building, we saw a horse drawn carriage, and caught a bit of a little show (I’m sure there’s an official name, but it was a little song and dance thing). Then we saw the castle. That’s when it began…the constant refrain, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” She must have said it 20 times. It was awesome. Penelope and Selam and I went through to Fantasyland and we did the Snow White ride (sort of boring, but it was her first ride, so she liked it) then the tea cups which pretty much made her explode with joy. We did Dumbo and then the Barnstormer which she LOVED. By then it was lunch-time and we had agreed to meet the others then. We headed to where they were and got a hot dog for lunch. After that W went home with his mom, and N and Selam and Penelope and N’s mom and I forged ahead. We had hoped for the Peter Pan ride, but the line was outrageous, and the fast track was 5 hours, so we went to Small World, which was great. I wish I could have taken a picture of Selam’s face inside the Small World. She was lit up with her mouth open the whole time. After that ride, we ducked into a movie type of thing (I don’t remember the real name) which both girls ended up loving–it was 3D and the girls kept reaching out their hands to grab things. After that, the grumpies were in full force, so we tried to go home….BUT then we ran into the parade, and Selam was over the moon waving at all the characters. Once we finally, headed home, Selam fell asleep on the bus. We went swimming for a while. Dinner, more playing and then bed.
Wednesday, I probably should have taken Selam to a different park, as she expressed some interest in it–and as the week went on, all she wanted was princesses. We stayed home with the group though, and swam for hours. After a while, we took the boat over to Downtown Rodentland and got ice cream at Ghiradelli’s. There was a little shopping to be done (Selam spent every penny of her saved up 27 bucks), and we headed back home.
Thursday was princess day. We got up and headed to the parks at about 10:30. Things were a little bumpier. It was very humid out. We all went on the train to check out the whole park. After that W decided he wanted to go home. Selam and N were both a little out of sorts, so we split up. N went on Dumbo. Selam originally wanted to go back to the roller coaster, but chickened out at the last minute and decided that she preferred her roller coasters with two adults! We did the tea cups again, instead. After that, we headed back, hoping to go on the Buzz Lightening ride, but instead saw a big crowd gathering in front of the castle, and decided to check it out. It was an awesome show with princesses and MM and friends. We were up pretty close and Selam LOVED it. After that was over, we headed to a bathroom to change into her princess costume and sandals. We then went back to the castle for the princess lunch. Oh my goodness, the princess lunch. This thing was worth every penny. It was in the castle. How cool is that? We waited in a very castley room and got pictures taken with Cinderella. When our name was called, the girls climbed the red carpeted stairs and entered the fancy dining room. They each got a wishing star, and we were sent to our tables. The menu was perfect–Selam picked salad, cheese pizza and decorate your own cupcake. I went with tomato soup, a salmon-pasta dish, and chocolate mousse. Each princess came out and stopped at every table for autographs and pictures. The kids got magic wands, and eventually we got a nice 8 x 10 of our picture with Cinderella– over the moon happy! After we floated out of the castle, we went on the peter pan ride (we’d fast passed it), and then headed on home. The girls both fell asleep on the bus. After dinner, we all (including W and W’s grandma who had arrived while we were princessing it up) headed back to watch the electric parade, which was awesome, and then the fireworks. Between the parade and the fireworks, we got popsicles. Selam dropped a small portion of her popsicle and then had a MASSIVE meltdown. This is really not like her at all. I think she was just utterly exhausted, and there was some kid drama over the week, just with sharing toys and seats and whatnot, and for an only kid (they all were only kids) this jockeying can be emotionally tiring. Anyway, as we sat and tried to calm her down, she asked me for cotton candy, which I’d actually promised her earlier. I said it would be great to go get it and we could share it with everyone while waiting for fireworks. That was the wrong thing to say, though. She did NOT want to share. So we got the cotton candy, but hid it in my bag because she was NOT sharing. She was still sniffly while we bought it and the storekeeper gave her a chocolate dipped marshmallow. She liked a little bit of the fireworks, but then decided they were too loud, and started crying again. So we left, but discovered that watching the fireworks from outside the park was fun. We got on the bus, and discovered our friends were on the same bus. So, what did Selam do? Yes, she asked for her cotton candy to share with them. After a little pure colored sugar, all three kids fell asleep on the bus home.
On Friday, Selam was really tired, but wanted to go back to the park to see Tiana, the only favorite princess who wasn’t in the princess lunch. We went in (another super humid day), and got to ride the horse drawn carriage, then we saw the same song and dance show–and saw it twice!, and then asked a park person how to find Tiana. As luck would have it Tiana was there with only two kids in line. Perfect. Selam talked Tiana’s ear off and had her sign 3 different things. She was so excited. We then ran into Donald Duck and got a picture with him, walked into a western style show with bears, but walked out after 15 minutes. We went into a Tiki room show for about 15 minutes, but left when we didn’t like thunder. we did the jungle cruise. We bought popcorn. We wandered about doing nothing in particular. We happened on the lunch-time parade –Celebration something or other, and Selam loved that and actually did the dancing in the streets thing. Then she decided to go home. I suggested we get pictures with Mickey. Not interested. Buzz Lightyear ride? Nope. She wanted to go home. It was her day to be in charge, so we headed in that direction, stopping to let her spend a 10 dollar gift certificate. We made one last stop at the hat store to get her mickey ears. After that, we decided on a bit of lunch before leaving, which is when I realized I had lost my phone. The result was a mad dash through the park, retracing steps and panicking. At the last possible place, my phone was sitting on the cash register. Amazing. We got lunch, went home, did a little swimming before we had to get out due to lightening. That night we went out to an Irish restaurant. They had some great Irish dancers. Naturally, they invited the kids to get up and dance with them, and naturally N and Selam agreed (W held fast).
Saturday, we were supposed to go to Sea World with Penelope, but Selam just didn’t have it in her. Instead, Penelope came to us and we swam all day long. We went back to the room at dinner time, and were surprised by W’s mom’s sister (and family) showing up for a surprise visit. We tried to go out to eat with them, but the traffic was so bad that they stopped at a pizza place and grocery store and returned home (we were going to go in shifts–I missed the gridlock). We all had pizza and birthday cake (several birthdays were upcoming), and finally fell into bed.
Sunday was a blur. We got up, visited a bit with W’s cousins, aunt and uncle and grandma, and then headed to the airport. We did a little shopping, had lunch and got back on the plane. Selam slept through the first flight and I sure wanted to!!!
It was a great trip overall.
If I were to give out tips, they’d be these:
- Princess lunch is worth every penny.
- Bring your own snacks. This saves money, of course, but also saves time. Lines for little snack stands were significant.
- Don’t lose your phone.
- If you’re vacationing with other families, it’s probably good to schedule some family alone time closer to the beginning of the week. I should have gone with Selam to Animal Kingdom on Wednesday. We had fun swimming, but I think emotionally she needed to have some just me time earlier than Friday.
- The crowds were MUCH lighter on Tuesday than Thursday and Friday was the most crowded.
- A just swimming and playing day on the first day was a good thing.
- These things are really worth it for peace of mind.
- No matter how long it’s been since your kid has ridden in a stroller, bring one. Selam struggles with long walks, but more importantly, she needed the stroller, I think to just kind of check out from the stimulation of the place. Several of you told me to bring a stroller, and I didn’t. You were right. I was wrong.
- I brought almost all of our discretionary money in 2 D^&ney gift cards–one a gift, and one I bought. This was a great way to a) not bring a credit or debit card into the park, and b) control spending. The gift cards come with favorite characters on them, and Selam has kept them was “credit cards” in her little purse. They are good in the park for everything (even popcorn), at the hotel, and everywhere in downtown Rodentland. If you’re worried about money or nervous about losing your wallet, they’re totally worth it.