Monday, June 17, 2019

Disney World!

We went to Disney World!!!!! 

 It was such a dream trip.  The quality family time, the excitement and shared memories, the together fun, the Disney magic, and the week away together were such an amazing blessing!   There are no words to describe it!

While we enjoyed family camp the past two years, we waited until Larkyn was done with naps and had the stamina to travel all day before embarking on our first family vacation.  After lots of research, we decided our first annual family vacation would be to Disney World.  The kids were ecstatic when we told them!   They were the perfect ages, and all three did amazing!  We did Magic Kingdom for two days, and one day each at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, with one rest day in the middle at the hotel to sleep in and chill at our resort, Fantasy World, which was about 20 minutes from the Disney Parks.   Our typical day started with getting up around 7 with the goal of being on the road by 7:30.  We packed breakfast in the car and read our family devotions on the trip into Disney.  We arrived before park open each morning and hit the day running.  Most days we packed lunches and snacks for the kids, which was very helpful to grab them a sandwich from the stroller as we headed into watch a show.  Three out of our five park days, we left the park about 6/6:30 and headed back near our resort and ate dinner at a nearby family restaurant like IHOP, TGI Fridays, and Perkins.  Two of our five park days, we stayed in the park for dinner and stayed late for the nighttime show.  We made great use of the FastPass+ system, and Paul was amazing at grabbing us fast passes for multiple rides a day, making our wait times under 20 minutes for all rides (except one!) and allowing us to efficiently cover almost all of each park!  The shows were absolutely fantastic and also allowed us to get out of the humid heat and rest our legs for a bit.  It was so much fun to have activities, shows, and rides that we all enjoyed together and we truly made so many amazing memories!  Here are some pictures and videos.

Travel Day
Wednesday, June 5th

We left our house at 4am!

We spent a long time playing on the moving sidewalks before getting donuts for breakfast!

Our plane

SOOOO unbelievably excited!

In our rental car and ready to head to our resort!!

After a lunch stop at Chipotle, we spent the afternoon checking out the lazy river, water slides, and pool at our resort.

So fun!
We showered off, ordered pizza for dinner, and had the kids in bed before 7pm after our early start to the day, and in anticipation of a big first day at Magic Kingdom the following day!

Magic Kingdom Day #1
Thursday, June 6th

We divided Magic Kingdom into two "sides", as we allotted two days in this park.  After taking the ferryboat from the parking lot, we started the day in Adventure Land, enjoying the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, exploring the Swiss Family Treehouse, taking the Jungle Cruise, and going on the Pirates of Caribbean ride.  We then moved to Liberty Square for the Hall of Presidents show.  We then entered Frontierland, where we explored Tom Sawyer's Island, rode Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Railroad, and watched the parade.  Because our fast passes allowed us to conquer this side of the park quicker than anticipated, we were able to get a headstart on rides from the other side of the park including It's a small world, Tomorroland Speedway, and Under the Sea, before leaving the park for dinner.   It was such a perfect and fun day!

Friday, June 7th

Our plan for Epcot was to get to the park and be first-in-line to get to one of the top rides, Test Track, and we did just that!  While we waited for rope drop we enjoyed a fun musical group, the JAMMitors, drumming on garbage cans and doing percussion tricks.  When the park opened, we were in the first group to get on Test Track and the kids loved designing their own race car, and racing at top speeds!  We were also able to hop on Mission Space quite quickly as it was still so early the lines hadn't formed yet.  Paul and Colton did the orange "intense" mission and the girls and I did the "green" mission.  We then headed over to the Seas with Nemo and friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Living with the Land.  We all agreed that Soarin' was one of our all time favorite rides all trip!  We finished up the future world with Figment's Imagination ride and exploring the aquarium before getting something cold before starting to explore the loop of countries.  This day was our hottest, and the sun and humidity combined kept us ducking into air conditioned shops, as one of our kiddos is prone to heat stroke and we have learned to anticipate the first signs of trouble and be diligent in keeping that kiddo cool.  We all enjoyed the Three Caballeros ride in Mexico and we LOVED the Frozen ride in Norway.  Colton especially loved the mini train and tracks in Germany.  Paul and I enjoyed seeing Italy, as it brought back memories of our 10 year anniversary trip.  The buildings in each country were reminiscent of that country and had recreations of famous parts of those countries.  It was really fun!  After walking slowly through the first several countries, we sped up our pace a bit at the end and left Epcot a little earlier than the previous day as the heat index was above 100 and despite spraying ourselves with the giant squirt bottle we brought, soaking the wet towel around the kids' necks, and drinking lots of water, we decided not to linger extra long in the humidity and heat.  All three kiddos were fantastic troopers, and we all had a great day filled with amazing memories despite the heat!

Magic Kingdom Day #2
Saturday, June 8th

We spent our second day at Magic Kingdom with the goal of conquering the "other" half of the park which included Fantasy Land and Tomorrowland.  

Try as we might, we were unable to secure a fastpass+ for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which regularly had a wait time of 60-90 minutes,but because the ride wasn't working when we got there, we got a lucky opportunity when we walked past it one time we saw the ride doing a test run, and we hopped in line right then and only had to wait 20 minutes!  Score!  

A highlight of Larkyn's morning was the Enchanted Tales with Belle show, an interactive show where kids got to play different roles in the story of Beauty and the Beast.  While in line, Larkyn overheard a girl saying that whoever got to play the Beast got to dance with Belle.  When it came time to show off their best growl, Larkyn stole the show with hers, and earned herself the part of the Beast (most petite Beast there ever was, lol!).  I included two videos below, one of her playing the Beast with her huge growl, and the other of her getting a solo dance with Belle.  It was definitely Larkyn's lucky day!  

 Video of Larkyn as the Beast:

 Video of Larkyn Dancing with Belle:

Other highlights of the day in Fantasy Land  included the Peter Pan ride and the Winnie the Pooh ride. 

Larkyn loved the Barnstormer roller coaster too!  We also rode the traditional Prince Charming Carousal and the Dumbo ride.

In Tomorrowland, all of us enjoyed the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and with fastpass+ we even got to ride it twice!  

The carousel of progress was interesting and the kids were fascinated by the way the audience spun around the show.  A highlight show for all of us was the Monsters Laugh Floor, which had us all laughing and Colton even got to be up on the screen as "a kid who thinks he's funny" lol!  When Daddy and the big kids went to go ride space mountain, Larkyn and I did some character meeting, including Daisy, Pluto, and Cinderella.

We had time to ride a few rides for a second time, thanks to the FastPass+ system, and then we all enjoyed one of our favorite meals all trip!  We did the family style dining at Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square.  Besides having a cool atmosphere of everything decorated and run like in 1776, the food was delicious!  They announced us as the "Tommerdahls from the territory of Minnesota (because Minnesota wasn't a state yet) and brought out a big salad and yummy bread to share as a table, and then all you could eat from several platters of pork chops, beef brisket, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and green beans.  Paul and I agreed it was so nice to eat "real" food, and the family style atmosphere was such a fun way to enjoy a meal.  

After dinner, Colton and I caught one last ride on Splash Mountain, while Daddy and the girls met a few more princesses.  

Then we staked out our spot for the Happily Ever After show, which exceeded all expectations.  It was FANTASTIC!  The fireworks, combined with projections of movies and moving characters climbing around the castle brought Disney stories to life, changing the castle into various forms and even having a real tinkerbell fly (zipline) out of the top of the castle.  We were all mesmerized!  What a magical day at Disney today was!  

I was amazed at Larkyn's stamina this week.  She kept up with the four of us like a champ!  Her one and only time falling asleep all trip was on the hour long trek through crowds, monorail, parking lot, and car back to our condo after the 10pm show

Rest Day
Sunday, June 9th

When we planned our Disney Trip, we decided to build in a rest day in the middle to regroup as we didn't know how tired everyone would be after three days of going strong morning til night.  We planned our two late shows to be the day before our rest day, and the night before we came home, which worked out well because we could let the kids sleep in, without missing any of our Disney Parks day.  After sleeping in, we all went out to brunch at Cracker Barrel and enjoyed a leisurely family meal.  The older two especially had fun playing the triangle peg puzzle game and tried to be the first one to get it down two two pegs.

We then came back to our condo and got everyone changed and sunscreened up to head down to the pool.  Within minutes of arriving at the pool, a huge thunderstorm rolled in and stuck around for the rest of the day.  The kids were equally, if not more, excited for our plan B, watching Disney movies!  While the kids were familiar with most of the Disney characters and story lines due to the many library books we have read, the only Disney/Pixar movies that had watched going into the trip were Frozen, Lion King and Toy Story.  They were so excited to watch Monsters Inc and Beauty and the Beast for the first time, along with popcorn!  In order to have time to finish both movies before bed, we ordered Olive Garden to-go and enjoyed our dinner while we finished up Beauty and the Beast :).  It really was the perfect rest day!

Animal Kingdom
Monday, June 10th

Animal Kingdom was one of our favorite parks!  We started the day off in Africa with the Kilimanjaro Safari followed up by the Gorilla Falls Exploration trail.   AH-MAZ-ing!  The animals were incredible!  Definitely a highlight of the trip!

We then went to the Lion King show.  WOW!  The music, the costumes, the acrobats, the fire juggler.....the talent!  We loved it!

 We then moved on to Asia where we all loved the Kali River Rapids Ride!

We ate lunch while waiting for the UP bird show.  Colton, sitting on the end of the row, got to help make a canopy tunnel for a bird to fly through.

We continued our loop around the park entering DinoLand and the Finding Nemo Show was incredible!  One of the top ones we saw, in my opinion!  The way the actors made their puppet/kite/sail characters come to life was amazing!

As we continued into Dinoland, our plan was to hit up the rides next.  However when we arrived for our first ride, everything shut down due to an incoming thunderstorm.  We ran through the rain to Discovery Island and all enjoyed the 4D Bug's Life Show - it really felt like the bugs were popping out at us and you could "feel" the bugs running under your seat!  It was still raining when we came out of the show, so we decided to do our remaining two hikes in the rain: the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree of Life and the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia.  It was the perfect time to do these hikes as the trails were almost empty and we really got to see a lot of cool animals and get a great view of the tree of life.

The rides were open at that point, so Paul took the older two on Everest (which they loved!) and Primeval Whirl (which had a 44" height restriction) while Larkyn and I rode the TriceraTop Spin and played at the The Boneyard.  Then the older kids joined us and we all played at the Dino-playground for a while while Paul and I tried to get fastpasses for the remaining two rides we wanted to do: Dinosaur and Avatar, which both had hour long waits.  We were able to secure a fastpass for two (Daddy and Larkyn) to ride Dinosaur and for three (Mommy and the older two) to ride Avatar Flight of Passage.  Daddy and Larkyn even snagged a last minute fastpass for the Na'vi River Journey while they waited for us to be done with Flight of Passage (which was incredible - my personal favorite ride!).  

We left the park about 6:30 and drove back to our condo and had dinner at Perkins before getting to bed for our last big day at Disney!

Hollywood Studios
Tuesday, June 11th

Our goal for this day was to rope drop Slinky Dog, a ride in Toy Story Land that seemed to be impossible to get a FastPass+ for, and had average wait times of 60-90 minutes.  As we started the mad dash toward Toy Story Land at park open, it became quickly apparent that the line would immediately be 90 minutes, if not longer, and it was almost clausterphobic being caught up in such a crowd.  Halfway across the park, we were told that Slinky Dog was having issues and was currently closed.  While the sea of people swarmed past us to get in line, we found the nearest Disney worker and asked where was the best place to go AWAY from the crowds!  At their advice, we headed to Star Tours in Echo Lake and walked right into the Star Wars ride with 0 wait time!   We continued our tour of the park, avoiding Toy Story Land, as reports were that it was CRAZY over there - the ride still hadn't opened an hour later and the crowds were camped out!  We enjoyed a relatively quiet side of the park visiting Olaf and Fancy Nancy, watching the Star Wars March, and sliding right into see the Little Mermaid Show.   The kids all loved the Beauty and the Beast show as well, but the top show of the day for all was Indiana Jones, with live "behind the scenes" footage of the stunt double's tricks.  We ate our packed lunches/snacks during that show and then headed to see a 3D muppet show and use our FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania, which was SUPER fun!  We headed over to Lighting McQueen's Racing Academy which was pretty cool for our CARS fan!  We then crossed back across the park for our 3:50 dinner reservation at Mama Mia's Italian Restaurant.  Not only was it delicious (and a great price point!) but it offered free reserved seats to the night show Fantasmic with the purchase of any meal all day.  Because normal dinner reservations were already booked, we did an early dinner and got ice cream before the show.  At that point we decided to head over to Slinky Dog and wait in the longest line we did all week!  It was a long line, but we were all glad we waited, as it was pretty fantastic!  We also were able to get another FastPass+ to do Toy Story Mania again!  While we couldn't squeeze in Rockin' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror (both hour+ waits) before our show, we we all felt it was a really fun day filled with lots of great shows and Toy Story fun!  The evening show Fantasmic, although intense for our girls (it was a dream sequence where the Disney Villains direct Mickey's dream, but ultimately Mickey defeats them all) was amazing!  Images on water, floats, boats, and acting all combined to make quite the show and a super fun way to celebrate our last evening in Disney!

Travel Home Day
Wednesday, June 12th

After checking out at 10, we spent the rest of the morning at the pool and in the lazy river!  When the afternoon storms rolled in, we showered off in the workout center and headed to Arby's for lunch.  We made a quick stop at the Discount Disney Souvenir shop, as all three kids chose stuffed friends from there to take home with them as a souvenir for the trip :).  (They all understood that the stores on Disney property were all WAY over-priced, so we skipped shopping any of those and made a one-stop shopping trip out of a Discount Disney store a few blocks from our condo for their choice of souvenier!)  The kids spent the entire car ride to the aiport playing with Pluto, Dumbo, and Simba and the stuffed friends continue to bring Disney smiles back in MN :).  The flight was delayed, but otherwise uneventful, and the kids loved watching movies all flight!  When we finally all rolled in to our house at midnight body time, we were ready for a good night sleep and filled with wonderful memories of our week together!


The Baum Family said...

I LOVED reading this post so much!!! Looks like you all had the most amazing time together. Can't wait to hear more in person!

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