Friday, July 10, 2009
"Now, that's what I call magic!"
Those were Hazel's exact words about halfway through the 4th of July fireworks show at Disney World. I had her on top of my shoulders so that she could see when I heard those words whisper from her little mouth. It brought tears to my eyes. Sappy, yes. But, it's those kind of moments that I will treasure forever.
Originally, Bryan and I were supposed to take the trip to Disney by ourselves. We've been married going on 5 years and, thanks to the hectic military schedule, never got to take a honeymoon. So, we finally made time for one before he deploys again next month. After spending 5 days in the park just the 2 of us, we agreed that we HAD to bring the kids back... on our way home to North Carolina for the 4th of July. It was the best decision I have ever made. I've never seen my kids so happy, and that was an amazing feeling.
Anyway, as I said, Bryan and I spent a few days by ourselves while the kids stayed behind with Mimi and Grandpa. There, they caught lobsters from a crane machine and helped Grandpa boil them up for dinner!
Hazel says, "Why don't we eat like this at home, Mom?" If only we had crane machines where you could catch a lobster for only $2... or if lobsters grew on trees!
Meanwhile, Bryan and I explored the parks. It was a Tuesday, and the park was amazingly uncrowded. We got to ride EVERYTHING! The teacups were Bryan's favorite. And, I think this has to be my favorite picture from the whole trip. It was hard to hold down my lunch and try to get this picture, though. LOL!
Disney was most amazing at night. The fireworks, the light parade... awesome!
I was really bummed that the Cinderella pumpkin float was excluded from the light parade when we took the kids back. Cinderella is Hazel's favorite. :0(
The next day, we check out Epcot. That was, by far, our favorite park (although, the kids wouldn't have been able to do much there... the height requirement for most of the rides was too tall).
Epcot's food was most amazing. We booked some great dinner reservations for our trip (including one of Emeril's restaurants), but Epcot still reigned superior. Well, at least to me. We ate lunch at The Biergarten Restaurant. Although the food wasn't the absolute BEST I had, the atmosphere was insanely fun. In fact, the whole German area of Epcot's World Showcase had me really crossing my fingers that Bryan gets stationed in Germany next time around. I just love the culture!
Dinner was at San Angel Inn. I had been there years before on a trip to Epcot with my parents. The interior of the restaurant is gorgeous... a faux outdoor (it's actually inside) Mexican cantina under the "night sky" with Mayan ruins in the background. The atmosphere is insane! And, I had the best chicken mole I've had since we discovered a little breakfast joint down an alley in Cozumel. You just can't find mole like that in the states! YUM!
I must admit, though... I had the BEST sushi ever at Rangetsu of Tokyo (outside of DIsney). If you're a fan of sushi, and find yourself in Orlando... this place is NOT to be missed! And, if you're into teppanyaki a la Benihana... Mikado's Japanese Steakhouse at Orlando World Center Marriott Resort (that's a mouthful) is to die for! If you can spring for the lobster and steak... go for it (*drool*)!
Okay, back from the food diversion... Bryan and I also got to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom, where we saw the tree of life:
Which is where I got my pic snapped in front of this amazingly carved monkey...
I also got to meet MY most favorite of Disney characters: Stitch!
Our last day was spent at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park. (Sorry, no bathing suit photos... that would be just criminal). If you want to check out the water park, I recommend getting there when it opens. Believe me, even at 9 am, Orlando is HOT enough to enjoy a water park. We got to go on every ride in the park (with hardly ANY lines), and were ready to leave the park by 12:30.
Then, we checked out Downtown Disney... lots of SHOPPING and FUN restaurants (even a Cirque du Soleil show). This was a nice way to unwind in the afternoon (and the parking is FREE... no admission to the area either). They have an amazing World of Disney store full of every souvenir you could imagine! Seriously... 12 ROOMS full of Disney goodies! Totally overwhelming (and not recommended to take kids to if you're on a strict budget... LOL!)
The best part of Downtown Disney was T-Rex Cafe. It was created by the same folks that brought you The Rainforest Cafe... same gig except with animatronic dinosaurs instead of rainforest creatures. Bryan and I saved that restaurant until we brought the kids back. If you have a boy like mine that loves dinosaurs, this restaurant is a MUST-DO! And, the food isn't half-bad either (although, a little on the spendy side).
Another part of Downtown Disney I was most impressed with was The Lego Imagination Center! It's a HUGE Lego store. There's even a room full of different bins containing various Lego pieces, where you can put together your own Lego kit to purchase. Just fill up one of 2 different-sized cups with WHATEVER your heart desires... for one flat price. Then, you can go check out the AMAZING Lego statues outside...
Seriously, that whole sea serpent... made of LEGOS! Pretty amazing, huh?
Then, it was time to head back to Mimi's and Grandpa's for a couple of days before taking the kids back for some fun! The first stop we made on the way back was to SeaWorld. We met Shamu...
Fed and pet on some dolphins. (Hazel says the feel "soft, yet rubbery.")
And, got our faces painted...
Then, it was time to rest-up for our fun-filled day at Disney! Luka eagerly waited while the mayor of Disney S.L.O.W.L.Y. (well, slow to a 2-year old) opened the park...
We met princesses...
visited Minnie's house...
ate suckers bigger than our heads...
and tried to help Daddy extract the sword from the stone...
And my daughter, my darling daughter... she makes friends wherever she goes. This child has never met a stranger (which probably isn't a good thing, as I am constantly reminding her). While we were waiting for the 4th of July fireworks in front of the castle (a 2 HOUR wait!), she was busy making friends with this church group of 13-15 year old girls from Brazil. They barely spoke English, and the only Spanish Hazel knows she learned from Dora. But, they kept each other entertained for that whole 2 hours. The girls thought Hazel was so cute... they all took turns posing for pictures with her. Then, Hazel wanted her picture taken with all of them. Too cute!
It was a fabulous trip filled with memories that I will treasure for a lifetime! Not to mention that I have over 300 of those images recorded on camera to sort through and scrap soon. ;0) So, please bear with me while we get settled back into non-vacation life... it's tough!
**I know that many of you are heading to Orlando for CHA later this month, and might be contemplating a trip to Disney. If you have any questions for me, I would be happy to answer them. If you've never been to Disney before, or if you haven't been in years like me (believe me, A LOT has changed), I have lots of tips... places to eat (or NOT to eat), ways to beat the heat, shops not to miss, the best rides, etc. Just post your questions in the comments section, and I will answer them there!**