Disneyworld--the first plane trip Samantha had, the first place I ever wore both kids at once outside the house, and the first vacation we took as a family of four! We were back, for five nights at the Contemporary Resort and five days in the parks--Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot again, and the Magic Kingdom again, respectively. Yes, it was warm, humid, and fairly crowded, but we all managed to survive and have lots of fun.
Robert was amazed at how much (uh, everything!) Marcus remembered from the last time we were here, eighteen months ago, and we were both thrilled at how much he loves roller coasters (he was too little for them all the last time) and at how much Samantha loves, well, everything. Marcus's favorite rides were Test Trak in Epcot ("It's a really fast roller coaster and you get to design your own car and race it!"), Splash Mountain ("a roller coaster with logs that gets you wet! And there are all those singing frogs too."), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ("That ride went really fast and then it turned and you all went over but you didn't fall out because of the seatbelt."), and the Buzz Lightyear ride in the Magic Kingdom (where he racked up 300,000 points the last time we rode). Samantha's favorites were "It's a Small World" ("Baby singing! Baby dancing! Mommy, there is baby! Again!") and the "Land" ride in Epcot (she loved the farm and animals and the gardens), but also anything with a boat, either that she got to ride on or watch (like watching everyone's logs go down the big hill at the foot of Splash Mountain).
We made frequent use of our Fast Passes, and then the Rider Swap pass, so we'd typically get a Fast Pass for a ride that Samantha was too small for, get a Rider Swap pass too, then let Robert and Marcus do the Fast Pass line for that ride (usually 10 minutes or less), then let me and Marcus go right back on through the same lane. We darted from land to land to take best advantage of the crowds and lines and passes, and we hit two parades, two big outdoor singing shows, the live "Lion King" show in the Animal Kingdom, and assorted other small attractions on the way. The only rides that none of us went on were the Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, and--bizarrely, because both arecompletely friendly for Samantha and just all-around fun--the People Mover and Ellen's Energy (somehow the timing never worked out for that).
We used the Disney Dining Plan and really enjoyed our meals, and Marcus got a kick out of "meeting" some of the characters. On my birthday I wore one of the Disney buttons and lost count of how many staff members (sorry, "cast members") greeted me by name and wished me a happy birthday. (Incidentally, I also lost count of how many people referred to Samantha as "princess." That's probably for the best, though.) Marcus appreciated the "warnings" of the guides on the safari to look out for poachers; Robert researched whether there really were any good pirates; and we all debated whether stormtroopers or poachers are more evil. In the pool three sisters from Nigeria made friends with us, petting Samantha and carrying her around the pool (she was fine when the twelve-year-old did this, but protested when passed to the eight-year-old, who promptly decided to carry Marcus around the pool instead). In the Animal Kingdom Marcus spent at least fifteen minutes engaged in discussion with a cast member who didn't think the rope bridge was dry enough to open up after a quick rainstorm; he essentially talked her into submission, and she opened up the bridges for all the kids to enjoy.
Overall, the five days flew by (we spent 12, 10, 10, 9, and 7 hours in the parks each day, so of course they did), and we also loved the hotel pool and waterslide, the ping pong table, the nightly campfires with marshmallows and the outdoor movies, and the convenience of the monorail to the parks. Robert returned home favoring his aching shoulders and feet, Samantha humming "It's a Small World," Marcus talking people's ears off about "Test Trak," and me planning our next trip back (staying at the Polynesian, when Marcus is 48" tall and can go on everything in the parks).
Arriving: Magic Express to the hotel!
Hanging out by the marina and pool in the afternoon:
Dinner at the Polynesian that night:
Walk around the Polynesian after dinner:
School bread in Norway at Epcot:
The Land ride through the greenhouses:
African drumming in Epcot:
Photo stop in Italy:
Japanese shaved ice:
Dinner at Chip and Dale's Garden Grill:
Posing at the Nemo ride:
Breakfast at Chef Mickey's:
Drivers and spectators:
"How do you walk? Where did your feet go?" asked Marcus.
Dole Whip--there are two straws:
Iconic castle shots:
Marshmallows back at the hotel:
Animals and puppets while Daddy and Marcus rode a ride:
Dinner at Tusker House:
More happy sleepers:
Star Wars poses:
Leaving Hollywood Studios:
Two sleeping kids--Epcot date night!
Be Our Guest restaurant for lunch:
Saying goodbye to the Magic Kingdom:
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Created: 8/7/13. Last Modified: 8/7/13.