Friday, 31 December 2010

Dec 17 - A Day of Rest

Today was our dedicated rest day. We got to sleep in...until 815am! It was also the first day that the temperature went over 20 degrees! When the children woke up, we filled ourselves up with bagels for breakfast trying to use up our remaining 26 snack credits, and dressed ourselves in shorts and T-shirts (because we can!) before our shopping expedition at the Disney Store at Downtown Disney. We had another 20% discount coupon that we wanted to use and it had to be used between 9-12am. We decided that we'd get what really appealed to us now and then buy more if they are a great bargain at the outlet malls when we come back to Florida. It was chaos at the shops, but that was not to deter us tenacious shoppers. We walked out with a suitcase, earrings, cuff links for the cruise, a pin each, a wine bottle topper, Christmas ornaments, a cap, a mickey-head pancake maker, an ice cube maker, a Goofy baseball, a mug, an antenna topper, sunglasses for the children, and croc ornaments.

We strolled across to T-Rex for lunch. We were pleasantly surprised at what we got. Perhaps it was because I wasn't expecting much but the ribs were tasty and melt in your mouth and the shrimp skewers on rice was fantastic. The children were thrilled to get their "Discovery Blast" in a great bone shaped cups that they got to keep. There were dinosaurs everywhere in various themed areas with the occasional meteorite shower. All in all, a whole heap of fun!

If you were wondering why there were no photos in the daytime, it was because I forgot to bring my dSLR and the point and shoot had no battery or memory card...

Boarding area at POR

A view of our dinner venue on the way in

The photos that were not taken earlier in the day...

We made a quick detour in the Christmas shop. Once again it was packed and crazy. It was all getting too tiring so we caught the bus back for a nap, a swim and to do some laundry. We returned to Down Town Disney, this time by boat, for dinner at Fulton's Crab House. It was a pleasant and relaxing journey. Much smoother than the buses! The Seafood scioppino at Fulton's was out of this world. Malcolm ordered Crab claws which were a specialty of the house. They weren't too bad but was nowhere near as tasty as Dessert at Ghiradelli's! The children had a blast at the disco dance party during dessert.

The madness starts again tomorrow as we try to finish off what we haven't covered.

Seafood scioppino
The children dancing away! Note the difference between the attentive styles of the girls versus the wild movements of the boys...

Dec 16 - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

The Magic Kingdom was back on our itinerary today. Up nice and early, we headed straight for Spaceranger Spin and went on twice. Seeing the boys were lucky enough to go on most "thrill" rides twice on account of rider swaps, we dedicated this morning to the girls and the babies. Fantasyland it was with Dumbo, Snow White, Teacups, the carousel and Toontown Fair.

The children enjoyed Spaceranger Spin from beginning to end. Err...can we keep them in there for the whole day? Please...

In the meantime, I had a chance to take photos of things I forgot to or was not able to on our earlier visits to the Magic Kingdom. I also had a chance to stroll down to Main Street by the horse drawn streetcar, listening to the Dapper Dans caroling. Ah...what a relaxing experience. Oh so nice not to have to do head counts every 3 seconds. The destination I was aiming for was the Emporium. I was desperate to browse the Disney merchandise but was so overwhelmed by choice that I didn't end up making any purchases. My parents would have been ashamed of me.

It was 11am and we had to go home to rest for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP)in the evening. We grabbed lunch enroute from the Bakery, picked up our MVMCP tickets and hopped onto the Riverside bus. All 3 children fell asleep! Hallelujah! Probably from exhaustion through parental Disney madness but nevertheless this was a great achivement. We were up and ready to hit the Magic Kingdom again by 4pm. The bus was jam packed.

Some Christmas images from the Magic Kingdom

The Dapper Dans with their oh so sweet voices!
We arrived at the park to find it all lit up. The atmosphere was magical. We were also in time for the flag lowering ceremony. It was fun to be part of the fanfare. We swung by the quaint Barber shop with the intention of getting Jonah a hair cut. With multiple bribes, a roll of stickers and some pixie dust, it was still no cigar. Oh well. So the Haunted mansion as half of us had not been on it. The rest stopped for chicken and wild rice soup at Sleep Hollow to use up our snack credits followed closely by multiple funnel cakes. Mmmmm...We were fortunate to be seated with a beautiful view of the castle.

Getting our bands put on for...
...Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!
Waiting patiently for the others with Minnie and Roy
The very quaint barber shop
and the roll of stickers that didn't work!

Hot chocolate and cookie
Our very own store...

The next task was finding a spot to view the Holiday Wishes fireworks. This was again difficult. With our numbers, we didn't have the option to be too picky. In the end, we had good views of the castle and the fireworks and what a wonderful way it was to end the evening. The fireworks were simply spectacular. There were smiley faces, love hearts, pixie dusts, and many others, all exploding in time to beautiful music. My photos though, turned out to be horrible. Despite all the reading up pre trip, it was still more difficult then expected. The lack of a tripod as well as numerous heads in the way did not assist me in my quest for the perfect fireworks and castle combination shot. Another reason to return I told Malcolm!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Dec 15 - MK Mk II

Please insert afore mentioned short cut here. We got up early again for rope drop, this time at the Magic Kingdom. It was warmer but still cold with a predcited high of only 13! However, it was nice and sunny. The Yeohs joined us for breakfast but then attended a special private clinic to get Sam's foot checked out as he was still limping. There was no fracture! They reported VIP treatment which was good to hear. I digress...Rope drop was a spectacular ceremony with songs, dancers, and then characters arriving on the steam train. The children counted down enthusiastically before we made a beeline for Adventureland. It was empty. We walked straight onto Pirates of the Caribbean followed by Aladdin's flying carpet. There was also no line for photos with Aladdin and Jasmine who were all decked out in their winter coats! We then walked onto the Jungle Cruise. The Tiki room was under new management and I was very disappointed with the change. It had lost all its charm and I couldn't sing along the the tune that I loved. However, all in all it was an extremely productive morning!

One of the firsts to be in Adventureland

Let's go on a carpet ride

Trying to take photos of each other
Getting ready to fly

More empty rides

At Tomorrowland, I took the older children into Stitch's Great Escape. The men took the littlies for an early lunch at the Lunching Pad where we had our first hot dogs in America! We met up with Yeohs after their clinic visit and lined up for Speedway. The boys were only 53 inches tall! One short of the requirement for them to be able to drive solo. Andrew insisted that his hair "obeyed" him. However, despite all the scrunching and rearranging, we couldn't make that hair any higher. All that practice with standing with the heels just off the floor also came to no avail! They simply had to share a car.

Our next destination

They came to terms with this fairly quickly withe the knowledge that Space mountain was next. The People Mover was next. I really enjoyed it and was seriously considering going around twice. It was so relaxing. To our surprise, Spaceranger Spin was full. The fastpass line was longer than regular line!!! The others were not appreciative of my suggestion of Carousel of progress. They slept inside while I snoozed outside. My short nap in the sun with Jonah outside of the Merchant of Venus was bliss!

On the people mover
One of the last photos I took before I fell asleep...
I stupidly then asked Malcolm to get an iced coffee float forgetting that they used horrible American style coffee. It was disgusting. But I finally got to eat some churros! After such a long lead up, I was disappointed. It was not how I remembered it to be. The churros in Spain were infinitely better. Even the ones in Melbourne were more delicious. However, it was an opportune time for a snack as the parade was about to start. I still enjoyed it despite the disappointment. Through a stroke of luck, oops I meant genius, we managed to get a prime spot where the parade headed towards us front on before making a turn. We had great views! Again the children oohed and ahhed and clapped. I thought Aladdin was so very handsome I wished I were Jasmine!


Waiting for the parade to start
Look Mum, I can fit through the hole...Daddy said so
The lovely Minnie
Pinocchio dancing away
My handsome Prince...sigh. So annoyed I didn't get a better close up.
Lara's favourite, Belle
After the parade, Splash mountain was a surprise walk on! We then utilised our Big Thunder Mountain Railroad fastpasses before we hopped onto Mickeys railroad back to the front of the park to head home. It was the men's turn for dinner at California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. I fed and put children to sleep, grateful that they succumbed quickly. Rest was paramount for yet another big day tomorrow at the Magic Kingdom with Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. It certianly was nice to be home and in bed by 730pm for a change!

The sign that means that bed is that much closer...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Dec 14 - Animal Kingdom

May I surprise you all by telling you that we had another early start for the Animal Kingdom! Today we had a 7am appointment to meet at the bus stop. Jason unfortunately slept in so we had to go help him with his children. Although the forecast was for a warmer day, it was still very cold. I really thought that it was nearly as cold as yesterday. Those down jackets are really earning their keep!

Guess where we are!

A clue?
Animal Kingdom
Of course, being true Disney fans, a little sleep in did not stop us from reaching our target on time. We made it to Donald's safari breakfast at Tusker House and had to wait in line to be seated. Enroute, we saw HUGE heater guns everywhere spewing out yellow flames. And this being a crucial moment, I forgot to take a photo. I was too busy wondering if that were really enough to keep the animals warm...I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be relying on other's photos on this trip.

A glimpse of what's to come later in the day...
Striding into Africa...
to Tusker House

Waiting in line
Finally seated!
Tusker House was just beautiful inside, especiall the buffet area. We enjoyed our jungle juice and the slightly unusual food. Donald duck was so lovable as were the other characters. The children lapped it up and didn't seem to have tired at all of the character meets. Jonah was slowly coming out of his shell and gave Goofy a high 5!

The gorgeous buffet area

Glorious details

The much loved Goofy!
Being fast pass obsessed, Malcolm obtained some for Expedition Everest before the end of breakfast. When we walked past Expedition Everest, we noted that the ride was shutdown due to ice. Kali River Rapids was also closed and scheduled to open at 1pm. They were giving out fast passes so we collected some of those too. We followed Kwan's plan despite the Yeohs absence. Lo and behold when we hit Dinoland, we saw the Yeohs! Sam was walking and so they decided to press on. Sharon had already gotten herself on Primeval Whirl. The rest of us were behind the eight ball! When we finished at Dinoland we aimed for Dinosaur where we were re-acquainted with the lovely Mrs Huxtable! The rest of the morning was a whirlewind series of fastpasses and rider swaps ending with lunch in Asia by the river looking at the monkeys. They were the first active animals we saw!

The children waiting while the adults collected "free" Kali rapids fast pass handouts
The then quiet monkey enclosure
I just loved the details on this snack truck!

A true find of the day for the little ones!
A wonderfully themed playground
being towered over by dinosaur bones in the festive spirit
Auntie Sharon on kindergarten duty
A ride that was rather intense but a lot of fun!
The girls posing after lunch and waiting for the monkeys to come out
Aping around right on cue. Glad they knew our schedule!
Some images of Africa

After a relaxing lunch, we went on Kilamanjaro Safari where I developed a new found level of respect for wildlife photographers! I am obviously not cut out to be one so I won't bore you all with too many animal photos but the animals were abundant. We had another photo op right after the ride with the photopass photographers then rushed to the Festival of the Lion King. Once again, in great Disney style, it was a stunning show. What phenomenal sets! They were detailed, smooth, and had great movement. The whole show was not just visually spectacular but also an auditory treat. We were the bleating giraffes.

My favourite animals...sleeping hippos!
We got so close to so many animals. Simply amazing!
The highlight of the ride. The boys followed the rangers instructions to the letter for fear of being shot by the poachers! A classic moment
We stalked our front row spots for the Jungle Jammin parade and waited patiently for the white tape gang to lay down the lines before plonking down our children and belongings. As we were right outside the entrance for Tough to be a bug, the children were able to go on it to ease the waiting restlessness. I only had one complaint about our spot, the light made it tough to take good photos!

Staking our claim...
right by...
The parade
Wonderful Christmas details from front... back!
I enjoyed looking for the cute details on the floats

so much so that I missed this being a kangaroo until I the back of it!

Beautiful costumes
Being clever Australians, we were one of a few to go on Kali River Rapids. What else could be better than a water rider on a frigid winter's day? Besides, we had to make full use of our water proof ski jackets and snow boots. We then used our raincoats to cover up our jeans. To our surprise, there was no wait! We walked straight onto our raft. We escaped relatively unscathed. Jason, on the other hand, received a direct hit and got drenched. A disappointed Andrew shouted out "It's not fair, I wanted to get soaked like my dad".

Images of Asia

The Tree of life was just fascinating. The details were incredible but so very difficult to take a photo that did it justice. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the resort. The men looked after children and the women went for dinner at Artist's point at the Wilderness Lodge. We caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then another bus to the Wilderness Lodge. It took less than 30 min from door to door!

The HUGE tree at the Wilderness Lodge
Wonderfully themed Christmas decorations

Close up of one of the tree hangings
The Wilderness Lodge was a beautiful resort. Dinner was magnificent. The three ladies shared an appetiser of mussels. For entree Sharon and I shared the venison and spatzle as well the tuna. Dessert was berry cobbler with black raspberry ice-cream and apple tart with vanilla ice-cream. I remembered to take photos! We caught a cab home back to the resort so grateful to have been given the opportunity for some adult time. At the same time a little sad that the fourth member was not present. Malcolm, in the meantime, had fed the kids and then bathed all 6 children. When we arrived home, the children were asleep, the washing put away and the nexy day's clothes ready and the bags packed for tomorrow. What a champion! I will have to replicate this tomorrow for the men's night out...

Mood lighting above...

and on the table

Mussels to share


Apple tart

The details in the theming have been phenomenal so far. This is for parks and resorts, down to lamp posts and decorations. This is notable with the christmas decorations all individualised to the various areas. This great attention to detail really added to the experience.

We also received some sad news. Ethel's father had passed away. We were relieved to hear that Ethel made it home in time to see him before he passed away. However, it was still difficult to be separated as family during such difficult times. We pray that the Lord will take them under his wings and provide them comfort.