Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Disney's Hollywood Studios

When we go on a theme park vacation, I REALLY want to get the most bang for my buck. Because you have to fork over A LOT of bucks.  So, I do all the research that I can and basically run my family ragged.  And I *think* they appreciate it in the end.  :)  At both Magic Kingdom and Legoland, I tried to get us there half an hour before the park opened, so we could be the first in line.  But Andrew's back was hurting him again (arg!  Had flashbacks to our last Disney trip when he needed a wheelchair!) and he REALLY wanted to sleep in just a little when it was our day to go to Hollywood Studios (HS).  I tried to put myself in his shoes and decided that, yes, that extra hour of sleep would sure feel good.  So, we did it.  Of course it messed up my well-mapped-out-plan for the day there.  But, HS is small enough that it worked out just fine.  And everyone was a little less grumpy because we'd slept in a bit.

Outside of meet-the characters:

We noticed they broke all sorts of Scrabble rules.

My schedule.
It included the ride order and who would want to do each one.
Andrew thought it was funny that Tower of Terror said "MOM!"
next to it.  I was just a *little* excited about that one.

The line for Toy Story Mania had this HUGE Candyland replica.
This ride was EASILY the family favorite of the whole trip.
Unfortunately, everyone else in the park loves it, too.
It was the only ride that the whole family stood in line for close to an hour.
And we got fastpasses to go back a second time,
but then they ran out
and we didn't want to wait 70-80 minutes to ride it again.

Whit and Mr. Incredible

The carousel horse ridden by Mary Poppins

My girls riding on a giant ant.

 My kids are really into cars.
They are always on the lookout for mustangs,
camaros, jeeps, convertibles, punch buggies, taxis, etc.
So, the Lights, Motors, Action show was perfect for us!
 We got to see Lightning McQueen driving around (eeeek!),

cars driving on two wheels (watch out!),

 motorcycle chases with jumps (hold on!),

guys engulfed in flames (oooooooh!),

lots of sweet stunts (aaaaaaah!),

 and I think we all got our eyebrows singed during
the final explosion.  So worth it.

Amy and Dave will appreciate this highlight:
The girls got to meet Phineas and Ferb!

 And see Ducky Momo!
If you were thinking about going before,
this must seal the deal, right?
Let's plan on meeting here in early spring 2014?

The big kids had fun with Andrew at the Indiana Jones stunt show
while I took Caroline to the Disney Junior show.
She got to see Mickey and his friends as well as the Little Einsteins.
We had fun.  And she got to dance in the aisles.

Then we headed over to the Beauty and the Beast show.
So cool to see the characters come to life.

Fun music and costumes.

Brandon and I had a BLAST on the Rock n' Rollercoaster.  Super fast and fun.  I couldn't stop laughing.  Too bad they ran out of fastpasses and the line was too long for B to go back with Drew.  We did manage to score a bunch of fastpasses for the Tower of Terror.  B and I rode it twice.  The second time, we talked Whitney into riding with us.  Poor. girl.   This ride is 13 stories high and it lifts you up and drops you down several times.  You have a total freefall sensation, with just a seat belt holding you in around your waist, no harness over your shoulders.  She told us she didn't want to ride any roller coasters, but since this wasn't *technically* a roller coaster, she decided to give it a try.  I think I traumatized her.  She had a look of pure horror on her face when the lights came on. "Is it over?" And she was shaky for the next 15 minutes after we got off.  I felt terrible.  She will probably never ride another attraction with me.

After meeting their lego versions,
Care Bear got to see a Buzz and Woody
that she could actually hug!

The nighttime show at HS is called Fantasmic.
I had read great things about it and couldn't wait for it to start.
It was spectacular, but also intense and scary.
At least for Caroline.
She spent half the show with her eyes covered.
But no tears were shed.
And I don't think she was traumatized.

We sat a few rows too close because the fountains were
spraying a light mist and I didn't want to get my camera wet,
so I didn't get many pictures.
A boatload of characters at the end.

At the end of the day, we tried to sneak in one more ride on Toy Story Mania,
but it still had a 70 minute line.
So we gave up and headed home.
But first, I asked a woman to take our picture
in front of Mickey's big sorcerer hat.
Notice anyone missing?
I guess if you leave your child sitting in the stroller,
it might appear that you don't want them in the photo.

I had to find ANOTHER stranger and ask her to
take one with all FIVE of us.
That's better.
Except for Whit's silly face.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Magic of the Magic Kingdom

I am still a kid at heart and get caught up in the magic of Disney myself.  We had such a great time at Magic Kingdom.

Almost there!
Just have to pay the $14 to park!  (Boo!)

First order of business:
Write my cell phone number on all of the kids.
Easiest way to locate a lost parent, right?

In accordance with my plan,
we made it there half an hour before the park opened.
So did a couple of hundred other guests.
I had read that they open Main Street early
and thought the girls could shop for souvenirs.
Not this day.
We had to wait until 15 minutes before park open time.
And then they had a little Welcome Show.
They sang the song that says, "Good morning.  Good mor----ning,"
which is an inside joke for Andrew and I.
Cracked. us. up.

As soon as they opened the gates, B and I darted for Space Mountain.
Walked right on.  LOVE that ride.
And we grabbed fastpasses to come back later.

Andrew and the girls headed to meet Rapunzel.
And it's a good thing they did because that place
stays packed ALL. DAY. LONG.
The purple girls!

While we were waiting out a little rain shower
and enjoying a snack, Brandon's curious nature paid off.
He was reaching into
 this beanstalk growing out of the building,
and found a set of old-fashioned looking skeleton keys.
It said to return to City Hall if found.
 Andrew took him there,
and they rewarded him with two five-person
fastpasses for any ride at any time.
Super sweet!
Thanks for being so curious, buddy!

The girls had fun meeting Tinkerbell.
She has an awesome setting.
And she taught Care Bear a little dance.

A fun family ride was Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger. It's another laser shooting game. Caroline (probably still terrified from the Lego ride) started crying the first time we rode. But then Andrew showed her how she could spin the car around herself.  She liked that. I had read online about a couple of targets that are worth big points.  And during our second time riding, our cars paused right at one of those targets.
Both Brandon...

and Whitney maxed out their scores:  999999.
Galactic Heroes!

Zurg was NOT happy about that.

There's a brand new activity that I hadn't heard anything about called Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom.  It reminds me a lot of Magiquest, which my kids LOVE.  Brandon and Drew heard about it when they were at City Hall.  It is free to play (with park admission, of course).  You sign up and are given a set of spell cards and a map.  You go through a little orientation and then are sent on your way.  It is not timed, so you can go along at your own pace.  The girls didn't really care to participate, but Brandon was totally into it.

There are several different quests.
You look for these keyholds,
hold up your card to it,
and little video screens light up in the windows.

The bad guys are up to no good and you cast different
spells to defeat them.  B-train was enjoying it so much,
he decided to skip the nighttime activities and continue on his quests.

Caroline missed the nighttime excitement...
but for other reasons.

Whitney and I, on the other hand,
LOVED watching the Electrical Parade.


 And the fireworks show.

The park stayed open until 1 am.  If it were only up to me, I would have stayed until they kicked us out.  But Caroline was SO done and Andrew's back was bothering him.  So, our long, magical day lasted until 11:30.  Awesome.  Awesome.  Awesome.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Power of Legos

My kids are 10, 7, and 3.  One boy and two girls.  There are not a whole lot of things that all three of them enjoy.  In fact, I can think of a grand total of three:  Phineas & Ferb, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and....LEGOS.  Hooray!  I've always thought legos were cool, but I gained a whole new appreciation after going to Legoland. 

I am your father.

Caroline fulfilled her dream of driving a yellow convertible.

Giant floating Einstein head.

All of us rode the little safari ride (though B wished he
could have opted out).  My favorite part was the meerkats!

Loved the bright colors on this dino.

One of my favorite rides: Lost Kingdom Adventure
You use these blasters to shoot targets throughout the ride.
Caroline was smiling at the beginning,
but SCREAMING at the end.  It was a bit too intense for her.

Skeleton band

Brandon's dream job:  to build miniland buildings like these ones.

One of Care Bear's favorite things was going in to the stores
 and building minifigures.  She didn't want to leave.

Happy to see Andrea and Andrew still hanging out side-by-side.

Since Legoland Florida is new, I didn't do a whole lot of reading up on it.
Because there just isn't much out there yet.
But one of the things I read online was that the employees wear
minifigures on their nametags and they will trade with you.

We brought a bunch of figures from home.
The kids had a great time looking for cool ones.
We ended up with some pretty sweet minifigs to take home.

 Care Bear has not played with legos much at home,
but was adamant that she wanted to buy this little box
as a souvenir from Legoland.
She was so good at building it!
B might need to share the Lego love here at home more.

Since Legoland was only open from 10 am to 5 pm,
(which Andrew believes are the perfect theme park hours)
we went to Downtown Disney afterward and
continued the Lego mania at the giant Lego store there.

Maleficent and Prince Phillip

To infinity and beyond!

There's a snake in my boot.

They have a couple of different areas where you can just build.

B's Lego sign

The kids were in heaven.
And I loved seeing them enjoying something