the long and the short of it

Sunday early morning I wake up at 3:45 am. Our plane leaves at 6am. Tristan wakes up great, Braden (not so much). We leave 15 minutes later than planned. Realizing we don't know exactly how long it takes to get to the airport we start sweating it a bit. As we arrive at the airport my heart sinks when I realize that this is a 'real airport' (meaning the parking lot is HUGE and we will not be able to walk from long term). I was completely convinced that we were going to be late and miss our plane. I had not factored in the time it takes to get to the terminal from the long term parking. Just as I thought all was lost the shuttle bus arrived.
We take off on time. But we land late. Not sure how that happens. We run to our next gate. We arrive with just 10 minutes to spare before take off. The doors are already closed. The attendant at the door lets us on, but not without chastising us for being late and giving us a guilt trip for 'making' her open the doors. Whatever. The plane is so jammed packed that we are forced to sit apart. Me and B in the back Mason and T in the front. Half way through the flight we switched. I was hoping T would take a nap on me. No dice. But a young girl did puke in the back bathroom... That was fun for Mason who was now in the nosebleed section with Braden.

We land and take the train to the main terminal. Get the bags - nothing is lost YEAH! The car service is waiting there as planned. We stop at Publix. I run in, grab some cereal etc etc etc I seem way more excited doing my grocery shopping than anyone else is to be there. T starts to doze off as we head to the hotel.

The MINUTE we set a tire onto the Grand Floridan property it starts to pour down rain! I start flashing back to last year's vacation and Tropical Storm Fey.

I check in. Our room is not ready (no surprise). They find us another room. For free they upgrade us to a Magic Kingdom view!!! I am ecstatic! The bellman comes in his golf cart to take us through the rain to our room in Boca Chica. We are on the 5th floor and we have our luggage and we are dry!We settle in. I set up pack n' play then Set up pack n' play curtain system. (we stuffed Tristan in the corner by the sink and then hung a shower curtain rod with black out material from it down to the floor) Everyone lays down for a nap, Mason and T fall asleep quickly. An hour later Braden is still awake. I take him to go explore the hotel. We get some ice cream and sit and watch the Castle with the monorail riding by.

Dinner is at 1900 Park Fare. A character buffet type of thing. Not that the characters are on the buffet... just the food. Braden looks forward to meeting Cinderella the whole meal. When she finally makes it to our table he hides underneath refusing to get out. Cinderella gets down on the floor holding out her hand. No dice. Braden won't budge. I however... get to meet tall dark and handsome.

We head back to the room to get some sleep. After an hour the boys are still up. When you can't beat 'em join 'em... At 8:30pm we head off to the pool.

Swimming was great fun. We try to catch the Electric Water Pageant down at the beach, somehow we only catch the tail end of the show.

As we finally get everyone to sleep and I am about to doze off I hear what sounds like someone banging on an overturned Rubbermaid storage container on our balcony. I think to myself "oh what luck, we got some really noisy neighbors. I listen again and I recognize the sound.... it is the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle. I lie their a bit panicked that the noise (that by now was shaking the building) would wake up the kids. I had been so excited about the Magic Kingdom view I had failed to take the noise of the fireworks into account. Both Mason and the boys sleep through the show. I exhale and fall asleep.

Monday: First day at the Magic Kingdom - The phone wakes us up EARLY. We are all excited. We are out the door and to the front of the park by 8:30am. We wait.
I am worried about the summer crowds and the lines. But being there early proved to be the key. After the (extremely loud) opening show (no tears from me this time) we made our way in. We rode: Dumbo, Pooh, Peter Pan, Small World, and Cinderella's Carousel. We headed to Toon Town only to find that Goofy's Barnstomer was not operational. We hop on the train to Frontierland. It's 10:45am. We are starving. We hit Pecos Bill's for a taco salad, two burgers and a veggie burger... I think we are the first customers of the day. We ride Pirates of the Caribbean, and LINGER in the gift shop. Mason and T head home for a N A P. Braden I get to meet some pirates.Braden and I hang out for a bit. We ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. The park gets crowded. We leave. Not wanting to wake anyone up, we hang out in the lobby watching cartoons.

After nap, we head back to the MK for dinner at Crystal Palace... we are running late. Another character buffet, the characters are better than the last... but not the food.

It's totally worth it though. Eyore, Tigger Piglet and Pooh are a BIG hit!

Back out in the park we hit Aladdin Magic Carpets and the Tiki Room. I wait with T while Braden and Mason ride Splash Mountain (again) and Big Thunder Mountain (two more times). We jump on the Jungle Cruise (with no wait) and I decide that the ride is MUCH better in the dark. We catch a bit of the parade while we head home (thinking that we will catch it on Wednesday - we don't stay). At home we finally reap the benefit of a MK view... in our PJs we watch the fireworks from our balcony over the castle.

Tuesday: Animal Kingdom - Big let down. Not only were we tired from the night before, but I don't care for the Animal Kingdom that much. It is probably better for bigger kids, who have the time and patience to notice the little things and to be able to spot a tigers backside among the trees. Dino-land was a replica of a state fair and its rides (including the heat). All the animals were sleeping on the Jungle Trek, and all the animals we saw from the Kilimanjaro Safari were ones we have seen before. And the ones that were new and different were hiding among the grass and bushes ... so while you are driving along at 10 miles an hour and someone says "turn to your right and you will catch a glance at the rare and hardly ever seen Kookaburra... " it would really help to know what a Kookaburra looks like... because if you don't know by the time you think you might have spotted some sort of animal type thing your truck has already moved on. Regardless of all that, Braden really liked the Safari truck. I, however, did not enjoy being reminded every 2 minutes that we humans are destroying and killing every animal and resource on the planet.

We enjoyed lunch at Yak and Yeti (and since we were the first ones there at 11am) there was no wait. Amazing decorations and yummy Asian food. The day wasn't a total bust though. We got two rides in on Expedition Everest with Braden. The ride home on the Disney bus system took 45 minutes. Should have cab'd it like we had done in the morning.

After a nap we head off to dinner. With not enough time for a proper swim, but too much time to just sit in the hotel we decide to take the boat from the Grand Floridian to the Contemporary. It took the whole hour (and 4 boats) we were hoping to kill (with only a minor meltdown from T at the Wilderness Lodge launch).

Chef Mickeys was not as loud as I remember, but the food was still bad. Not horrible, completely edible... but we had become spoiled our first night at the GF 1900 Park. But to me it is worth the food and the cost. We got to eat, and they are going to want to see the Characters... so combining the two just makes sense. It totally cuts down on the time you spend waiting in the lines at the parks.

Braden LOVES Goofy. He loved him last year, and he loves him still this year. Tristan seemed to favor Pluto... we enjoyed seeing them along with Donald Mickey and Minnie - I never understand why Daisy isn't apart of the group... oh well.

It was a really fun time for the boys. We head home (on the monorail) and hit the pool before bed. Swimming after 6pm is perfect! No sunscreen needed!!!

Wednesday: back to the MK - I have always wanted a picture of us as a family in front of the Castle. What better way to get the perfect shot than to be there when no one else is.... After breakfast at Crystal Palace we had some time before the park opened to get some shots of us without the crowds (CP for breakfast was the worst so far.... pretty good for dinner... but for breakfast Blech!)

At rope drop we hit Tomorrowland Speedway and Astro Orbiter and we get two rides on Buzz Lightyear to boot. What we lost on Monday with Barnstomer we gained today by riding it 4 times. It was so early in the morning that we were able to stay on and ride again without getting off! It was Tristan's first roller coaster... and he loved it! (not so much the having to get off part though)

Next were Tea Cups and Mickey's Philharmagic (which Tristan kept his glasses on the WHOLE time). More Pan more Pooh more lunch at Pecos Bills. Mason and T head home.

Too cool for school!

And now comes the best part of Braden's vacation to Walt Disney World.... the best, coolest, most awesomest thing ever.....

The Frontierland Shooting Arcade!!! Just like his cousin Chuck did with my father over 20 years ago. I think I dropped at least 20 bucks in under 30 minutes while Braden went hog wild shooting every thing in sight (and hitting not one target!) For the rest of the trip that is all he wanted to do again... and again... and again. We were able to see Cowboy Goofy, and the piano and band on Main Street. We finished off the afternoon with some ear buying.

Wednesday night was to be our big night out with just Braden. We had a sitter come for T. Mason, Braden and I headed back out to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and more fun. We ate at Tony's (from Lady and the Tramp), walked around the castle, caught a mini-parade and rode Pooh again (we had left over fast passes from earlier in the day). As we made our way into Frontierland to go ride on the roller coasters the heavens opened up. We made it safely to cover in attempts to wait out the rain. It was a HUGE storm with nerve shattering thunder and lightening. And it never stopped. During the times when it lightened up a bit we were able to obtain an ice cream snack and go to see the new Hall of Presidents, ride Pirates again and see the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (which was pretty funny). But the parade (which I was really wanting to see since we skipped it the night before) and the fireworks were canceled. We went home early.

Thursday: EPCOT - a late start (we left the hotel around 9:30ish) out the door to EPCOT. A ride on Nemo and Friends and some playing in Innovations was enjoyed by all (mainly because of the A/C). Lunch was in France - which was mainly enjoyed by Me and Mason... although a visit from Remmy was kinda fun.

What is NOT fun however is eating a HUGE meal topped off by really good wine and then going out in the Florida sun/heat. I hadn't really thought that through when I was stuffing my gobb. Braden and I met with Princess Aurora (he said he was still shy of her, but not as much as Cinderella) Mary Poppins and Alice. I am not sure how excited he was to meet them, but he got less and less shy as the trip went on. We rode on Test Track twice Mission Space once and finished off the early day with Spaceship Earth. The rain picked back up right around dinner. So we don't make it to the Poly for our reservations at Kona. We go back to 1900 Park Fare buffet... to which all the boys eat are pizza and cookies... but they were really good cookies.
Proof that I do let my children have sweets! HA!

Friday: Last day at the Parks... We sleep in and hit the Magic Kingdom around 10am. Mason takes T on a train ride around the park. Braden and I go to Tom Sawyers Island (I am reminded why I haven't been since I was a kid) go to the shooting arcade again, drop another 10 bucks and hit Splash Mountain 2 more times - we get SUPER wet! I got brave and was able to go down with my hands it the air. For some reason Braden and I had the most fun on those two turns down Splash Mountain. We catch an audience with Peter Pan and Wendy. Wendy was totally in character... I caught Peter yawning between clenched teeth a couple times. Jungle Cruise remote controlled boats were next up....with 2$ per 5 minutes it was a short attempted to navigate the small boats around the pond. Braden stopped to listen to the Main Street Barbershop Quartet for like 3 songs... he really was digging it. We hurried back to the hotel because my Auntie and Uncle Phil had just arrived. We all headed down to Gasparillas for video games and ice cream. We have a wonderful time visiting and catching up. Then it's date night. Off to Italy in EPCOT. Wonderful food and wine and conversation. We catch the U2 tribute band aptly called " 2U " for a while .... with eyes closed he sounded just like Bono. Hit Norway and Spaceship Earth before heading home.

I was grateful for the little picture of the woman... I would not have been able to guess which bathroom to go in...

Saturday: Pool/Beach Day - we rent a totally over priced but totally worth it cabana down at the pool. We spend the day swimming, ordering fancy drinks from the bar, snoozing, sliding down the water slide and generally taking it easy and visiting. Dinner is at the Rainforest cafe... I think everyone else humors me on that, it gets pretty loud in there with all the animals and thunder and rain noises going on. To me its like being in the Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise combined. It feels very "Disney" to me. I really enjoy it and now it is a tradition - so I can force them to go!

Braden with his Uncle Phil

Me and my Auntie Ann

Roasting marshmallows for s'mores on the beach!

Sunday: leaving day - Big delicious breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Pancakes, mimosa's the works. Pack up, head to the Poly for lunch. Remember how good the quick service food at the Poly is. Braden and I stay to play video games (20 bucks doesn't go as far as you'd think). We squeeze in a quick ice cream bite and a quick zoom around the lagoon in a sea racer then it's off to the airport.

Waiting outside The Grand for the car to the airport.

Our plane was scheduled to leave at 7:30pm - due to weather in Atlanta we don't take off until 8:30. I was SO sure the kiddos would sleep I would have bet the house on it. ...... and I would have totally lost! Tristan didn't fall asleep until we were landed and we were in the car driving home.... at 12:30!!!! On both flights the stewardess were complete b!tche$. I must remember not to fly at night ever again. At one point one started to insult me and turned to Mason and said (in so many words) "would you please back me up here" which of course he just ignored. On the plus side though we did have a celebrity sighting. Retired 4 star General Wesley Clark was on our flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. I didn't speak to him directly but I did tell Braden not to ram the 'nice gentalmen's legs' with the stroller... so that coutnts... RIGHT? All of our baggage makes it, and we make it home by 1am!

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