These are some of my favorite memories from our trip to Disney World.
Opening Magic Kingdom
The first is from our first day. We arrived at Magic Kingdom early so we could open the park. While we waited to get in, we took family photos and then I slapped some sunblock on the kids while we waited. Right around opening time, Disney has a little show on the train platform. We were all so excited, especially the kids, as they saw Mickey, princesses and other characters for the first time. They waved to the crowd and welcomed us to Disney World. It was the best way to start our visit.
Use the Force, Young Jedi
We spent our second day in Hollywood Studios and the first two things we did were get Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania while Buddy and I went to the Jedi Training Academy to sign him up. A few hours later his training started. They dressed about 20 kids in brown Jedi cloaks, gave them “training” light sabers, and taught them how to fight as a Jedi. Two Jedi trainers showed the Padawans a little routine, then the music cued, the doors opened, and two Stormtroopers accompanied Darth Vader and Darth Maul, who tried to recruit the new Jedis to the dark side. To prove their good intentions, they had to fight one of the Darths (Darth Maul fought the group on the floor level and Darth Vader fought the group on the stage). Watching Buddy fight Darth Vader was amazing. Following the show, the kids received a certificate and we went into the Star Tours gift shop and Buddy made his own light saber. We rode Star Tours later that afternoon, which he loved as well.
A Fantastic Fantasmic Show
While we were in Hollywood Studios we caught the Fantasmic show at the end of the evening. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Disney really does know how to take something and make it over-the-top amazing. The show takes place in an open air amphitheater with a pool of water as a stage, with a real stage in the middle that has a huge mountain. In front of the stage they had fans of water, on which they projected scenes from various movies. This alternated with live action on the stage. Periodically boats floated in front, my favorite were the thee princess boats. Fireworks were incorporated into the show as well, which I was a little nervous about because Sass is not a big fireworks fan, but she loved it. (I have no photos because it was too dark, but trust me, it was awesome).
We spent our third day in Epcot, which is probably my favorite park (it’s a close call with Hollywood Studios). I love the countries. I could spend days just exploring them. For the kids, however, it’s not quite as exciting. Disney realized this and now has a free Kimpossible spy game (which they are changing to Phineas and Ferb soon. Buddy loved them and I didn’t have the heart to tell him he missed it). Buddy and I loved, loved, loved it. It was so much fun and just cool. To play, you sign up at one of the Recruitment points and they send you to one of the countries, where you get a cell phone. Seven of the countries have missions that send you to different parts of that country. In the UK we had to go to the Tea Shoppe and tell the cashier a secret code and she gave us a tea bag, which was the clue that we put into the phone. Then we were sent to one of the red telephone booths, pushed a button on the phone and a golf ball came down a hidden tube. We were then sent to the sports store to find a golf display, where we put the goofball. The front of the display was actually a video monitor. Then we went to the toy store window display, where the toy soldier came to life and a game was also a hidden video monitor. It was amazing how the clues were hidden in plain sight, and if you weren’t playing the game you didn’t even know they were there. We made the coo coo clock start in Germany (pictured above), a jade monkey rise from a pond in China, and a rocket shoot from a volcano in Mexico. While we were making these things happen, other visitors didn’t even notice. We completed all 7 missions over the two days we spent in Epcot and it was one of Buddy’s favorite things. One of the best parts was that while we has playing the game, I was able to simply enjoy the atmosphere.
We capped off our first day in Epcot at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway. We had booked the meal with the princesses far in advance, and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to. To make it special, Sass dressed up in her Rapunzel outfit and I made her hair into a braid and added every little barrette and clip she owned. I had decided not to do the Bibbity Boppity Boutique because I think the girls look a little too pageanty for my taste, and I knew I could make it special enough for Sass without spending $50. I let her use a little make-up, which really consisted of some pink eye shadow (that you can’t really see) and lip gloss. We topped it off with a tiara. I wore a matching Rapunzel-inspired shirt that I made and a matching tiara that my mom made us. The hall was beautiful and when we entered we took formal portraits with Belle, one with Sass and one with Sass, Buddy and me (the rest of our family didn’t want to be in the photo). We received the portraits before our dinner ended and it was included with the dinner, which we can also add to our Photo Pass. Sass got to meet Aurora/Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Snow White and Cinderella. It was the only place we saw Ariel and Snow White, so I’m really glad they were there. We got photos with all of the princesses and they had all of the kids to a promenade through the restaurant with the princesses. It was magical, and both me and Sass were grinning ear to ear the entire time.
A Wild Ride
Our fourth day was spent in Animal Kingdom and the one thing we all wanted to do was the Safari, and I’m so glad we were able to. It was so great. Driving through the African “animal sanctuary” was so much fun. We saw so many animals that I don’t get to see often, and my favorite were the hippos who were swimming in the water. We saw a Rhino rolling in the mud, giraffes snacking on trees and elephants strolling about. Buddy had just had an entire unit in school on Africa, so it was great for him to see the animals and places he had learned about. I only wish we had been able to be more leisurely about it, because it seemed like it went so fast. I would have loved to have spent hours there. (P.S. Buddy is not playing on his DSi in the middle of Animal Kingdom, he’s taking a photo with it. Also, those are white rhinos in the background.)
A Wild Ride Part II
This one is actually not my magical memory, but while Sass and I went and saw the Festival of the Lion King (which was also amazing), the “big kids” went on the Mt. Everest roller coaster. Where they got stuck. As they were cresting the final hill (which, since it was their first time, they didn’t know how much was left), the ride stopped. There is a part of the ride where it stops and goes backwards, so they weren’t sure if this was part of the ride or not until a boy sitting with my mother-in-law, who had ridden it before, told them that it wasn’t supposed to stop there. They were pretty quickly clued in by the cast members that a safety mechanism was set off. Then they had to get off and walk down 9 flights of stairs to exit. To make up for it, they were given Fast Passes that were good for the rest of the day once the ride was running again. They rode it without incident later, but that experience was the one they kept talking about. My husband loved seeing the inside of the ride the hidden parts that only employees see.
When You Wish Upon a Star
Jonathan and I spent a second day with Sass in Magic Kingdom (Buddy opted to go to Hollywood Studios with his aunt and uncle) and we capped the day off with the Wishes fireworks show. Right before the show, they do a very elaborate projector show onto the castle with photos and video from the day included. It was very cool, although we had trouble finding a good spot and it was hard to see the bottom of the castle. I also didn’t have my glasses on (I’m near-sighted), so I had trouble seeing the photos and I have no idea if we were in any of them. The fireworks started with Tinkerbell flying from the tower over the crowd – literally. Her dress was lit up and she waved as she passed over the people. Sass yelled “She’s real! She’s real!” and it was just awesome (we had been clued into this earlier and saw the zip line during the day, so we knew where to look, which was helpful). Then a single shooting star shot over the castle, and audio from every movie that mentioned “wish” was played. The show was so good, I can’t even describe it as anything but magical. The only bad thing was that they like to throw in a villain everywhere, and Sass was so tired (the show started at 10 p.m. and we had been in the park for about 12 hours at that point) that she cried during the villain part and then fell asleep as we left the park. She just doesn’t like it when it gets scary, but even as she cried, I still loved it.
While the entire experience was magical, these are the moments I have been recalling and reliving the most.