Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laurel goes to Disney World

From October 11th through the 17th, Laurel, Alex and I took a trip to Orlando to visit Disney World. Laurel is all about Disney right now, to my great pleasure! She is also free to the Disney parks until she is 3, so it's really the perfect time to take her. She knows lots of characters, loves the princesses and really enjoys the rides and shows. So we scheduled the trip and has a blast! It also turned out to be a heat wave, so we did have to fight some humidity and uncomforable heat, but Laurel was always a trooper and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

We flew out early in the morning on the 11th and Laurel was a peach on the flight. She played with sticker books, watched movies and took a little snooze and we were there! We rented a time share that had lovely grounds, nice pools...and a free shuttle to the parks! Once we arrived, took a taxi to the resort, we checked in and got some groceries. With the exhaustion of the trip, we all dove into bed, despite the time change.
We spent Monday in Hollywood Studios which we thought would be similar to California Adventure but really only had 1 or 2 sites in common. Laurel really enjoyed the live shows, one of the Little Mermaid and one for Beauty and the Beast. She also had fun playing in the Honey I Shrunk the kids play area. We had a picture opportunity with Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc., but she was quite shy. Thankfully, a lot of the activities were indoors, so we were able to escape the heat.

We spent Tuesday at the Animal Kingdom. That park is usually one of my favorites because it is so beautifully laid out and is a nice time in the outdoors...but in the heat, not so much! We took in the safari ride and strolled through some of the animal walks, but ultimately found ourselves ducking into gift stores to escape the heat. We stayed long enough to watch the Finding Nemo Musical, which was broadway quality, and then shuttled it to Downtown Disney. We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. Laurel was startled by the animatronic animals at first but then seemed fascinated. We took a really relaxing water taxi down the river to one of the Disney resorts and hopped a bus to the Magic Kingdom for the after-hours Halloween fun. Laurel dressed as Minnie Mouse and ultimately...fell asleep:). Laurel was always very good at choosing to lie down in her stroller for naps, but the naps usually lasted only 40 minutes or so. On this night, she was exhausted. We had thunderstorms nearly every day, so we had to duck out of an evening storm when we first arrived. After the rain let up, we strolled around the park and did trick or treating, people watching and took in an awesome Halloween parade. The night was capped with fireworks and then we had to hurry to make our shuttle back to the resort.
We took Wednesday for a mid-week break and just hung out at the resort. We chilled in the condo for the first part of the day, I spent most of the time reading the new Dan Brown book. After Laurel's nap, we ventured over to the club house pool, which was heated, and we all had a great time swimming and relaxing. A warm rain even came down while we were in the pool and everyone stayed in. Laurel was learning to blow bubbles in the water. She's a fish ready for swim lessons! There was a pier off of the pool area that went out into a neighboring lake. Laurel enjoyed buying fish pellets and feeding the fish in the lake.

Thursday was my favorite day, but I really love Epcot. We weren't sure Laurel would like Epcot as much, but we found lots to do and had a really fun time. Laurel is a little interested in dinosaurs, so she liked the ride in the Energy building. The Seas building was modernized to include a Finding Nemo ride, so of course she loved that. But she thinks fish are awesome, so so was content looking at the aquariums and watching the manatee and dolphins in the larger pools. At a little before 3, we had reservations in Norway for a princess lunch. We were greeted by a photo with Belle and later were visited by Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and Ariel. Laurel was shy with Belle when we first arrived but opened up and was hugging the girls as they came around. She was so excited to watch them make their way around the room and come closer to our table. It was so sweet to watch her. We rode some of the rides in the countries and strolled in and out, enjoying the cultures. We left after the evening's lights and fireworks show.

Friday's trip to the Magic Kingdom was my least anticipated but one of the best times we had on the trip! Laurel loves everything about the Magic Kingdom, from the characters sightings to the fun rides, great parade, etc. There was a lot of cross over with Disneyland, but some of the rides varied in layout or was completely new to us. The weather had cooled and wasn't nearly as humid, so we were all comfortable, energetic and so was Laurel. We made excellent use of the fast passes and found ourselves constantly occupied with rides and activities and waiting in very short lines. While waiting for the parade, Laurel had fun chasing bubbles that some of the "cast members" were blowing for the waiting crowd of people. Here she is spotting Mickey in the parade!

On Saturday afternoon, we flew back. Laurel was great on the plane once again. We returned having had a great time, but we miss our vacation time already!

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