Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm too excited to sleep!!

Well, suffice it to say, we had a great time, but we aren't a "theme park" family. Read on for more info:)

We raced around the house on Saturday getting packed and trying to keep the kids from asking 8 thousand questions about Disney. We managed to get to the airport just in time to wait in line (4 separate lines to be clear) and immediately board the plane. The flight uneventful and got some good "catch up" time with Angela on the flight (including a few cocktails:)) Orlando was drizzly and cool when we landed, but no matter! We had arrived!

Sunday was up early (for us 9am) and off to our 1st theme park - Magic Kingdom. Again, perfect weather... mid 60's, overcast and cool. The park was too crowded for us, but probably very lightly attended from Disney standards. The highlights? the "train" roller coaster, the Laugh Floor (interactive comedy cartoon with Mac & Cheese as the Siamese cartoon hosts - how'd they do that?!), the 3D movie that included smells, water and mice running under your seat, the BIG parade and seeing the castle lit up at night. We road as many rides as we could (given height limitations and long wait time frustrations) and I even convinced Jimmy to go on Its a Small World with Billy. He complained the whole time but at the end did relinquish with "this is a waste of time, but it is a catchy tune".

Monday was Animal Kingdom and not our best day as a family or our proudest day as parents. The kids were overstimulated and tired of crowds and lines. We had a few major melt downs and voices were raised. Its too bad because Animal Kingdom is gorgeous! There is tons of green space, animal, bird and plant "hikes" and regional food from all over the world. In hindsight, we should have gone here 1st... oh well, live and learn! Highlight of this day included: another 3D movie, safari ride, bird scavenger "hunt", a Jungle Jingle parade, a dinosaur excavation and a HUGE ropes play area that the kids ran wild in for an hour (and gave us a much needed break). Half way through the day, Jimmy asked "do we HAVE to go to a theme park tomorrow?" we don't....

And so...Tuesday was our "day off" on vacation. We slept in, ate late, caught a trolley, road through Orlando, ate at a Chinese buffet for lunch and found a great little spot (Fun Spot) that had rides Kay & Bill's size with only 1 entrance/exit. Why is is important you ask? because they were able to ride as many rides as they wanted without Mom & Dad hovering and without having to wait in line! We also did a little pool time (finally got into the lower 70's and sunny - perfect pool weather when you are 9, 7 & 6, but then again, any weather is good pool weather for our kids). We ended the night with their all time favorite event, a Pirate Dinner. It was an interactive dinner on a ship where pirates took over and the kids had to "save" the princesses. There were magicians, acrobats, sword fighting, guns, singing, cheering, bad guys, good guys and fireworks. What's not to love?! They are still talking about how much fun that was. Definitely a recommendation if you go to Orlando (to add on to the above, while it seems we aren't a theme park family, I guess we ARE an interactive dinner theater family. Who knew?!)

Wednesday we were back at it at Sea World. Much more our speed but I think our day off helped. We saw an amazing dolphin show, rode on a "splash" ride, hung out in the "kids park" and rode kiddie rides for hours and even saw the REAL Santa Claus waiting in line behind us on the Polar Express. Really, he had silver white hair, small glasses, candy canes in every pocket and a red polo shirt. He was waiting in line on vacation like the rest of us. We figured he needed a quick get away before his big night out. Plus, what a better place to see who's being naughty or nice but at a theme park! We also stayed for the ice skating show (interesting watching an outdoor ice skating show in Orlando in December) and made the most of our time.

Thursday, we took advantage of the 2nd day free clause on our Sea World tickets and went back for 2 hours to: see the sea lion show and feed the dolphins, sea lions and sharks. (oh, and to ride more kiddie rides). We then high tailed it back to the hotel for more pool time. Our flight was off at 7:45pm and we were exhausted.

Other items of interest:

It was awesome to travel with friends - the kids had built in distractions, we could divide and conquer on rides and attractions, plus you get a much needed break and change in conversation. I think we had the right balance of together and alone time as well as park vs down time. But, you might want to ask the Millers:) We have a water park weekend planned with them in January, so if they don't cancel, we'll know it was a success.

My parents gave each of the kids a bit of cash for the trip as their Xmas presents. That was awesome! Jimmy had a very cute and accurate characature made, Kay bought a cool pink Shamu hat & Tinker Bell rings and Billy got a Pirate sword and "surprise" Disney souvenir (remember how Billy likes surprises, well, there is a new collection of "surprise" souvenirs at Disney. You pick a box, open it and then can pick/trade up to 2 more times by choosing other "doors' that have prizes behind them - it was the PERFECT thing for him). THANKS Grandma and Grandpa, they loved the thought and had so much fun picking out their souvenirs!

The word of the trip was obstreperous - It basically means rude, loud, aggressive, orger-ish and a bully. Jimmy learned it in his 3rd grade class and when anyone acted up, they got reprimanded for being obstreperous (from everyone, even the kids!). Too funny.

So, I slightly take back my above remark about not being a theme park family. Kay is ALL about theme parks. She was the kid on every ride, arms in the air, eyes wide open and ready to go. Jimmy is a big talker until he gets to the start of the ride, then he chickens out. Billy has no interest. He'd rather go from learning "station" to learning "station" to learn about nature and get his "stamp" on his card. I suspect none of the above comes as a surprise to anyone:)

So, we are back, happy to have had a fun, active vacation, but ready to cross theme parks off our "bucket list". On to the next adventure!!! (hopefully it'll include an interactive dinner theater experience!)