Down at the Hap-hap-happiest Place on Earth!

If it weren't for my wonderful husband's spontaneous streak, the kids and I would have spent Ben's Spring Break in Georgia, amidst the rain and unseasonable cold, playing the Wii, venturing out for dollar popcorn at Target, and visiting the library.  Not that those things aren't fun, and I suspect we'll be doing a lot of them this summer, but the alternative was better.

Walt Disney World

Up until a few days prior, the five of us were preparing for a highly-organized, painstakingly planned trip to central Florida.  Then we got the best news, quite possibly, ever.  My generous and thoughtful mother-in-law offered to make arrangements so that we wouldn't have to take our precocious, often-volatile, but still very cute toddler with us.  And in the moment she delivered the news that everything had fallen into place, the trip went from being stressful to feeling like vacation.

I might get flamed for this by a few random readers who don't know us personally.  We do most everything as a family, day in and day out.  But, how much more fun would Disney World be for a four year old girl and seven year old boy without their antsy toddler sister lagging behind as one of us tried to navigate her stroller through the crowds?  In a word (or two) - A LOT.

Let this stand as my very public and oh-so-gratuitous
Thank You!!!!! 
to all of the folks who made it possible for Sarah not to go to Disney World.  (Or something that makes it sound like I love her as much as I actually do and not how much I was ready to get rid of her.)

I will try to keep this as brief as possible, but seeing how we spent only one long day in New York City a year ago and I managed two entire blog posts about it, it may prove difficult for me to cram eight days at Disney World into one.  I'll give it my best shot.

We left early Friday morning, opting to take Ben out of school for an extra day to get the most bang for our Disney buck.  After delivering Sarah to her accommodating grandfather, who endured half a day with a 22 month old sidekick and lived to tell about it, we arrived in Orlando around 4pm.  Against all of the advice I read about setting a precedent and failing to live up to it with other parks in subsequent days, we went to the Magic Kingdom straight away.

We opted to go just us and the kids - no camera.  We wanted to see the excitement on our kids faces with our eyes, not through a lens.  (Okay, actually those are the wise words of my husband.  It took some convincing for me to leave it behind.)  You'll just have to believe me when I say it - the looks on their little faces were priceless.  Abby's eyes were as big as saucers (whatever that means) and Ben was soaking it all up.  We arrived just in time for a parade, which started, literally, as we entered Main Street.  It felt as if the entire thing unfolded in our honor.  And that was just the beginning of an amazing week.

Here is where I default to photos to tell the story where my words would fall short.  (Okay, so I have to supplement with a few words.)

The Animal Kingdom

Meeting Flik was the beginning of a new, unexpected obsession on the part of our surprisingly social, but always lovable Abby - the wonderful world of meeting characters.  (Ben was skeptical at first, but ended up enjoying it too.)

A man at the Dinosaur ride told Ben, "You have a lizard on your shirt!"  Ben looked down at his shirt, then back up at the man, and glared at him as if he'd heard that joke 100 times before and it had long since ceased to be funny.  Poor kid.  Can't take a joke - just like his old mom.

Here are the before and after shots of the Cali River Rapids ride.  Dry and then...not so much.

We didn't know who this guy was.  We've since been educated he was in Tarzan.  (And we have also since watched the movie, especially since a personality quiz at Hollywood Studios labeled Ben as most like Tarzan.)

Beating the drums in Africa.  On a random note, I actually think that Disney went so far as to mimic the climates of the regions in the Animal Kingdom.  Africa was blazin' hot and Asia felt cooler and more rainforest-y.  I have not confirmed that this is true, but I believe if anyone could do it, Disney World could.

Scanning the horizon for creatures on the Kilimanjaro Safari.  During the ride, Abby declared, "It's a great day to be in Africa!"  I suppose she thought we actually were.  I loved it.  Later, she said, "Thank you for taking me to Africa."  I think it's safe to say she enjoyed it there.

We kicked off a spree of Disney animated 3D shows with "It's Tough to be a Bug".  Maybe a bad idea?  But it ended up okay.  Hopper was a little scary to Abby.  The spray in the face, as the termite in the movie exterminated us with "acid", was a memorable event in her little life.  From that point on, every time we sat down in a theater, including the minute we walked into the Hall of Presidents on the last day, she would ask, "Does this have spray?!"  No spray at the Hall of Presidents.  (Of course, that kept me giggling throughout the duration of the presidential presentations.  I felt so very unpatriotic.)

We decided Ben is infatuated with touching things.  He was constantly laying, rubbing, and swinging on every surface at the parks.  Also, we discovered his deep-rooted fear of being lost.  It would have been physically impossible for us to leave him behind.  Not that I was trying to or anything...  The child had us by the hand with a death grip and if not our hand, our shirt or pants pocket.  If, for 30 seconds, we let go of his hand, he ran frantically in order to get back to us.  This was preferable to the little sister who broke away from us at her whim and even hid a couple of times.  A happy medium between the two would be fantastic.

We used our FastPass for Expedition Everest.  It was awesome.  Turns out, it was Ben's across-the-park favorite.  Who knew he would be our thrill-seeker?  (Not me.)  Ben and Sam are about a third of the way from the front.  Sam's wearing a yellow shirt.

Didn't spot them?  Here's a terrible quality zoom of them.  (Hey, I'm no photo/computer whiz.)   I absolutely love Ben's face.  This was the first of four times he rode it.  He appeared skeptical, but got over that quickly.  I think he told everyone he saw how much he loved this ride, strangers and friends alike.

 I think this picture speaks for itself as far as how much I enjoyed riding Triceratops Spin.

Here's where Abby cooperated for a photo for once, and Ben took the opportunity to impale himself in the eye with a triceratops horn.

And this is the duck who followed us around begging Spicy Doritos.  (She loved them.  Who would've guessed?)   Okay, that has nothing to do with Disney World, but it wouldn't be a blog post by me without something uber-random, right?

And that wrapped up a pretty long day at the Animal Kingdom.  Turns out, these little guys were plum tuckered out.  As I'm sure you are - from reading this post.

That said, this seems like an excellent place to take a break.  I suppose I will report to you by park.  That sounds like a plan!  Before I depart for an adventurous day as a stay-at-home-mom, let me just say that I have almost never been more proud of my two eldest children than I was the entire week of this trip.  Their little legs must've nearly fallen off from the walking and they complained not one single time.  I'm just going to come right out and say it - my kids rock my socks off.

Next park...Magic Kingdom?  Stay tuned...


Brooke said...

Jennie, you make me want to pack up and go down there, but I totally understand about not taking Sarah! That is what is holding us back from going right now. We are probably going to wait until next year or so when Ali is three...It will be better then.

I love your pics, especially Abby's new hobby, character spotting!

Debbie said...

I'll be waiting! This was a great post, and I'm really glad about that decision to leave the camera for a while. (Glad you didn't leave it the whole time, but you know what I mean.) Believe it or not, I actually do that periodically too. Really... I do.

And it was another smart move to wait for little Sarah until she can enjoy it. It was an act of love on your parts to do it the way you did.

My parents went to DW as empty nesters before they had grandchildren. The watched families stuggling with crying, hot little ones who would have absolutely no memory of having gone. Dad decided then to make each of us an offer that if we would wait to take our kids, he and mom would treat them for their fifth birthday.

Watching little Abby in those pictures reminded me of them.

And last, I just love your family. For some oddball reason, probably because I'm pushing 50, this post made me want to cry a little.

Loved it.

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