I am SO PLEASED to report that Mom woke up on Thursday feeling a million times better. So, they opted to take a trip on their own to Universal Studios. They both have read and loved the "Harry Potter" series, so they knew they'd regret not getting a chance to see the world created in its honor.
As for the rest of our crew, we had originally planned on setting aside Thursday as "Epcot Day". But, honestly, in comparison to the other parks, Epcot didn't offer a whole lot that was thrilling for our family. It was a place we wanted to visit, but not devote a whole morning too. (Especially since our Fast Passes there were lame...). So, we opted to return to Magic Kingdom to start things off.
While waiting for our Fast Pass attractions, we visited the "Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor". It was cute, but not amazing.
Of course, "Buzz" is right around the corner...
Oh no - Whitley and Nati ended up in jail this time.
We visited "Tomorrowland Speedway" next - its been a long time since I've done that ride. Sheesh, it is hard to steer! John made a very wise decision bypassing that one - between the exhaust and bouncing against the middle bar, it was a little rocky.
I'm pretty sure Whitley was aspiring to be "Dale Earnhardt Jr." in this one.
We split off to different attractions at that point - our kids kind of bounced around with the Whites and Schillings - while John and I partook in some treats.
And, then, literally, he took a nap. =)
As we went to meet up with the rest of the gang, we bypassed the parade - and saw this guy. John was eager to catch a pic of "Baloo" as its Tyson's favorite.
I didn't remember seeing as many ducks in Disneyworld last time we went - so it was kind of special thing to behold this mommy with her ducklings as we walked by.
"Peter Pan" was another very difficult Fast Pass to secure. So, we were very happy to overlap our FP's enough to all be able to go on together (along with the Schilling family).
That about wrapped up our time at Magic Kingdom for the day - so we parted ways with the Whites and the Schilling and Riley families headed over to Epcot for the afternoon.
The Fast Pass options over there were PATHETIC - so we found ourselves at the mercy of attractions with shorter lines. Fortunately, "Mission Space" was one of them.
This became one of the highlights of my day as we were giggling with our group about how we were going to fail. Brayden, Nati, Traig, and Michael were in their own group and were standing in their assigned positions giving us "You're going to fail" encouragement. That is, until, Michael realized this ride would be too intense for his equilibrium and bowed out. Ha! They were the ones going down. I don't know why it was so funny - it was just one of those "can't stop laughing" moments.
In the cockpit...and, "Spoiler Alert" - we made it!
Next up - the "Finding Nemo" ride. We took the long way to get there, but saw some pretty sights along the journey.
Brayden was somewhere....not even sure what happened to him at this point.
Awwww, their own little clamshell. (I had to ride solo). =(
After the ride, we exited into the aquarium which was a new feature since we'd been there before. (Or I hadn't seen it back in 2010).
This ray was HUGE!!!! But, he was very well trained and would sit on the trainer's arm before he got fed.
Because we were determined to stick around in the parks until the Hoe-Down that we had planned for our dinner, we opted to stand in line at "Test Track" to give that a whirl. We missed Travis as we all have a very expressive picture from 2010 of us looking at him in exasperation because of the long wait for the ride he wanted to go on, that was less that stellar.
The wait was shorter this time, though. And, they had upgraded the ride so that part of it involved creating your own vehicle in a kiosk. I was with Traig and John as they designed a vehicle.
This was the other vehicle. They look absolutely thrilled, don't they?
We look marginally more excited.
Next up on our itinerary - "Mickey's Backyard BBQ". We had hoped to do this activity on our previous trip, but by the time we tried to book it (several months in advance), it was already full. So, we started as early as we could in the booking process this time around and successfully secured our attendance. It was kind of character greeting/birthday celebration/big dining hurrah for us all.
One of the reasons I was most excited about it was that it was located at the "Wilderness Lodge" - a Disney resort property. If money were no object, hands down, this would be where I'd choose to stay. I mean, combining my love for the outdoors- with kind of a Yellowstone feel, with my love for Disneyworld - could you ask for anything more?!!!!
Note the "cousin love" going on here-
Upon walking in to the lodge, we were even more impressed. This little bridge went over a faux bubbling hot spring.
I was practically drooling at this point.
So, naturally it was necessary for me to mandate a family photo be taken.
To get to the pavilion where the Hoe-Down was going to happen, we were to either take a bus at the front of the lodge, or ride a boat after walking through the property. Since we were a little early, we chose the more "adventurous" route.
There was a bit of a problem with the boats at the dock, so it took a while to load up - but eventually we were all aboard and on our way. (Mom and Dad and the Whites hadn't stayed at the parks like we had, so they were coming from the hotel and took the bus option upon arrival).
When we got to the "Fort Wilderness" property - it felt like we were taking a leap back in time to the nostalgia of family resorts and less-worried times.
And, we arrived. =)
This was not an "uncommon" occurrence. I'd say something snarky about it, but obviously I was using my phone to take the picture. And, let's face it, these kids had earned some downtime.
What follows is a very, very long series of pictures of an evening that was just plain "Disney Magical". The bbq buffet was DELICIOUS!!! (Oh the ribs and cornbread!!!)
But, that was nothing compared to the entertainment of a talented and interactive band, various specialty performers (rope tricks/bull whip), and of course, the characters - Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Chip, and Dale (my favorites...though I'd switch out Goofy for Pluto).
We all fought over who got to interact with Whitley - dancing with her, holding her, drawing her close to the characters. She was definitely enamored.
Whitley enjoyed the food choices as well - in this case, this ice cream treat was divine. (It was my treat that she stole).
Then the adults got onto the dance floor - and this are the sort of moments that are PURE GOLD.
At this point, Dale cut in on Michael's dance with Nati and chose to take over as her partner. PRICELESS!!!!
Michael had to let Dale know that he wasn't going to just roll over and let this happen.
But, they made up. =)
Traig took a turn with Whitley.
I'd say she was having just a little bit of fun!
LOVE this pic of Mom. =)
"I want in on this!"
Time for some character pics. My only complaint about this set-up was that the picture quality was horrible based on the fact that we were in a corner facing the sun to take these. Oh well, you can't ask for everything to be perfect!
With Stephanie having a very strong
I was so giddy when I was smiling in these pictures that my eyes look like they were barely open. Oh well, at least I look happy.
We have pictures of us with Chip and Dale on every Disney adventure we've taken - all the way back to a trip when we were Whitley's age. Given Chip and Dale are twins - they hold a very, very special place in our hearts.
Back to the dancing -
Eventually, the evening came to a close and we all wisely chose the faster option to get back to our vehicles to drive home (however, Mom and Dad actually opted to head over to Epcot to watch the spectacular Fireworks show that we had marveled over in 2010).
Waiting for the bus.
DAY SEVEN PRICELESS MEMORIES:
- Uncontrollable laughter with the girls about crashing our spaceship in outer space.
- Almost everything about the Hoe Down. Particularly watching Dad dance with our girls, witnessing Whitley interact with her favorite Chip and Dale (yes, she LOVES their cartoons), and of course, my own interaction with those mischievous chipmunks. =)