Sunday, June 16, 2013

Florida Vacation Trip Report

This is a brief summary of our trip to Florida!!

Day 1, flew in.  Curbside baggage check with SWA and no baggage fees were awesome.  Chucked 5 bags from the van to the SWA curb check.  Away they went, to arrive in my room that night.  Wow!  What an awesome service!  The girls LOVED the plane ride!  Both of them were so excited about the entire plane ride!  When we arrived, we walked down to the Magical Express check in.  It was fast, no lines, and very quick service.  It felt like Disney was rolling out the red carpet for us!  We got onto the bus and were entertained by a video of various disney rides and shows, followed by some fun disney cartoons.  The girls didn't want to get off the bus!  We arrive at Port Orleans Riverside and checked in with a very friendly 'cast member' (Disney for employee)  Unfortunately our room wasn't ready and we had some problems with it, but everywhere you turn is a disney employee trying to help.  The hotel was neat, with log themed furnature and the best part, a pull down twin bed!  (Our girls do not do well sleeping in the same bed, Kaela kicks and does thingsin her sleep!  On our first night, our travel agent booked us at "Chef Mickies".  I was kind of bummed, it was a ways away (bus trip to Magic Kingdom, then a walk to the Contemporary hotel.  All of a bufet.)  Boy was I wrong!  The girls were excited to meet each character that walked up to our table!  The food was ok for a buffet, but the character experience was amazing!  Oh and they had beer on tap.  :)

Day 2, we got up early (following our travel agents advice) and headed to Magic Kingdon.  Boy was that a great idea.  The weather os overcast and windy, we weren't hot at all!  Leah was really nervnous about the rides.  I bribed her with picking a stuffed animal if she would be brave and try to have fun.  She told me she would if I would ride with her on all of the rides.  We walked on to Winnie the Pooh, Leah hated it and said it was scary.  Then we walked on to Peter Pan, which both kids liked, but Leah was still a little nervous.  I grabbed a fast pass for Little Mermaid, then we headed for the Haunted Mansion which we also walked on to.  The girls both loved it!  We hit Pirates of the Carribean (5 minute line), they both loved that, then Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  This isn't the mild runaway train I remember.  Kaela loved it, Leah did not.  But Leah was very brave and didn't complain or cry.  The next ride, It's a Small World (10 minute line) more than made up for it, both kids loved it.  Next we used our FastPass to walk onto the Under the Sea ride which both kids loved.  Kaela bought a princess dress and accessories for $150 for our Friday Princess dinner and Leah cashed in her bravery for a Marie stuffed animal.  We headed back to the hotel for lunch and a quick nap, then back to MK to their new restauant Be Our Guest.  OMG, our travel agent is amazinng in the reservations he made for us 6 months ago.  I sprinted accrossed the park to grab some fast passes for Splash mountain, then we were seated in the grand ballroom from beuty and the beast, complete with a snow scene out the windows.  The beast (our host) appeared several times in the dining room.  I had a delicious pork chop and Shanna had a really good stead, complete with beers and cream puffs for desert.  We went to the study after dinner where Kaela danced with the beast and we took some pictures.  Kaela and I road Splash Mountain while Shanna and Leah got us front row seats to the parade of lights.  Splash mountain was Kaela's favorite ride and Leah had a blast usingour misty mates to cool off guests on Main Street.  Both girls loved the parade of lights and the amazing fireworks show.  Tip:  Give the kids a coke at dinner, it is amazing at bringing out their second wind.  :)

Day 3, the earliest I could convince everyone to wake up was 7 AM.  And Shanna demanded a real breakfast (instead of the frosted flakes I got her on Saturday.)  We got breakfast at the hotel and headed to Animal Kingdom.  This day wasn't the beutiful cool day we had Saturday, it was HOT!  But that was to be expected.  I blew it on the schedule managment.  We hit Dinasaur!  (10 minute wait)  I loved it, everyone else HATED it.  Whoops.  Ok, next ride was the Rapids.  No fast past, 70 minute line.  Whoops.  That was a fun line but did everyone in.  We ate at Flame Tree BBQ, we brought Shanna her lunch so she could rest.  The food was amazing!  (Another amazing recommedation from our travel agent!)  I tried to come up with a better plan for our schedule in the afternoon and blew it!  Thank god, it worked out amazingly!  I got a FP for the Safari Ride, then used a FP we got before lunch to ride the Everest Rollar Coaster with Kaela.  We headed to the Lion King Show and I relized we were going to miss our Safari Fast Pass.  We walked in and a disney cast member heard me talking up this show to Leah and put us in front row reserved seating!  It gets better, this show was AMAZING.  Singers and dancers meer feet from us.  They invited Kaela and Leah to play instruments and go around the stage with them.  Leah declined, but Kaela amazingly jumped at the chance.  She was on stage in front of hundreds of poeple!  Wow!  The show was awesome, I've never seen Leah have wider eyes!  After the nice air conditioned break, we decided to bust it over to the Safari to try to convince them to accept our fastpass.  We were almost cloeslined by a rope closing the road for an amazing parade.  While the street was cloes, we had inadvertantly scored front row tickets to a really cool parade!  The fact the our fast passes had expired was a moot point, they cut people slack becasue of the parade.  We walked onto the Safari ride and saw amazing animals up close!  After we left, we had a fantastic dinner at Yak & Yetti (How amazing is my travel agent?)  Before doing this, I had the bright idea to try and score a fast pass.  They were all closed, but I ran into a lady who was leaving and gave me two FPs for the Everest Rollar Coaster.  Yak and Yette was the bomb!  Fantastic food!  Kaela and I jumped on the Everest Rollar Coaster again, then we headed to the gift shop for seom seuvineers (Kaela got Giraffe Micky Ears).  We headed back to the hotel for an early evening.  Shanna had a fantastic idea!  Use some of our unused snacks with our Disney Dinning Plan to get some fruit for breakfast to avoid the breakfast run tomorrow!  Nice job, Shanna!  As much food as they are ramming down our throats on the dining plan, we don't tend to use the snacks.  All girls are asleep as I enjoy a cocktail while writing this.  (Interesting point, I packed a bottle of jack to bring along to avoid paying Disney prices for a nightcap at the end of the day!)

Day 4, Nobody would get up before 8:30.  We had breakfast in the room so we got to Hollywood Studios at around 11.  A little cooler, it was overcast.  Lots of fun, we started off with a fastpass for Toy Story which already had a return time of 7:30 PM!  DOH!  Did Star Tours, then MuppetVision 3d which was very cool.  We grabbed lunch then let the kids play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground.  We did the backlot tour, Voyage of the Little Mermail show, the Great Movie Ride (which we all liked), and the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (a car stunt show.)  We ate dinner at the 50's prime time cafe, which was hilarious.  All the tables were 50's dining room tables complete with black and white TVs.  The waitresses told Kaela to mind her manors (she almost cried) and threated to send Shanna to the woodshed if she didn't finish her veggies.  (I had to set the table.)  After dinner we did the Toy Story ride and the girls went back to the hotel while I did the tower of terror and the Rock n' Roller Coaster.  We got back to the hotel and found a bear made of towels left by housekeeping and all of the stuffed animal arranged in funny places!

Day 5, Nobody would get up until 9:00!!  We went to Epcot which was pretty neat.  We did Mission Space, Spaceship Earth, then had Fish and Chips in England.  After lunch we did the test track (Leah and Kaela were not amused.), The Seas with Nemo & Friends, the Talking with Crush show, Circle of Life (stupid), and Living with the Land (Shanna's favorite).  We ate dinner at Teppan Edo (Japenese Steakhouse) which was great!  After dinner we rode Soarin' which everyone loved.  It started raining on the way out, welcome Tropical Storm Andrea!

Day 6,  We went to Hurrican Harbor which is one of the water parks.  It rained off and on during the day, but nothing too bad.  I convinced Shanna to do a couple of water slides, and Leah loved the lazy river.  At about 5 Tropical Storm Andrea was in full force, 30 MPH winds and tons of rain.  We bussed it to Epot for a princess charactor dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  We rode Maelstrom  right before dinner.  The food was great and all of the princesses came to our table!  After, me and the kids stayed for the fireworks show which was spectacular!  A new towel animal left by housekeeping, a rooster.

Day 7, pouring rain.  (Tropical Storm Andrea still with us.)  We went to Epcot where Leah had a complete meltdown.  Shanna and Leah went back to the hotel and Kaela and I took the monorail to Magic Kingdom.  After braving the storm throw the gates and grabbing some lunch, the storm backed down and we rode Splash Mountain, then Space Mountain (Kaela hated it.) and drove the cars in Tomorrowland.  Back to Epcot for Mexican food at La Hacienda.

Day 8, nice day and we got up early to head to Magic Kingdom!  Rode the Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear, Stitch's Great Escape, went through the Swiss Family Treehouse, the teapcups, the magic carpets, then the Tiki Room.  Back to the hotel for lunch and a nap, then Kaela dressed up as a princess for our princess dinner.  When getting on the bus, we heard an announcment as we departed that said "Please be on your best royal behavior as we have a Disney Royal Princess traveling with us today!"  Kaela loved that!  We did the PhilharMagic show before dinner then dined at Cinderella's Royal Table, the restaurant inside the castle.  All of the princes came to visit our table.  After, Leah insisted we do the Haunted Mansion again, so we did.  Housekeeping made the girls a towel Bunny!

Day 9, we woke up and packed up to head to Sanibel Island!  Driving through central florida, we hit severe rain and flooding, driving through back neighborhoods to get through!  What a crazy drive!  Our condo is beutiful, a $1.6 Million condo on Sanibel Island!  We went out to dinner at a great little resturant and went grocery shopping.

Day 10, we were very worried about the rain so we went out to the beach first thing.  Beutiful, warm water.  Kaela started gathering shells.  In the afternoon the girls and I hit the pool while Shanna did laundry.  I had a few beers with a pharaceutical sales manager who was here from Philidelphia.  (Don't worry, he isn't a Steelers fan, he's from Ohio.  :) )  They had a 7 year old and 4 year old so they played for hours.  I cooked hamburgers and corn on the cob for dinner.

Day 11, another beutiful day on the island!  We slept in and hit the beach, then the pool.  Shanna made pizza and salad for dinner.

Day 12, we decided to drive up the island and shell at another beach. It was beutiful.  We went to a shell store then ate out at the restaurant we ate at the first night.

Day 13, we took a boat cruise with Adventures in Paradise to Cayo Costa island, a state park island only accessible by boat!  We found great shells and the girls had a blast swimming in the gulf.  We saw several dolphins on the way and way back.  We had lunch and beers at Barnacle Phil's, a local favorite for Roberta’s world-famous black beans and yellow rice! This restaurant is on North Captiva Island, an island only accessible by plane or boat.  Cars are not allowed on the island, everyone gets around in golf carts.  We saw a family moving by using a uhaual on a barge!  The food was great!  On the way back a storm rolled in.  When we got back to the condo a HUGE thunderstorm rolled in.  Our timing is amazing!

Day 14, just a boring day at the beach and the pool.  Ate at the condo.

Day 15, another pretty boring day.  Leah lost her water shoe about 5 minutes after we got to the beach, so I grabbed some beers and just hung out at the pool all afternoon.

Day 16, Drove the 4 hours back to Orlando, had lunch at the airport and flew home.  My sister was awesome enough to pick us up at 9 PM!

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