Thursday, July 4, 2013

Disney 2013 {Day 1-EPCOT}

Our first family EPCOT picture. Obviously, Natalie didn't want her picture taken.  

When we booked our Disney vacation, we bought Park Hopper tickets.  We haven't done this for years....not since our first trip 6 years ago.  That means that we can go from park to park anytime.  Otherwise, with base tickets, you can only visit one park per day.  Since our visit was only 4 days, we went with Park Hoppers so we could get the most out of our time.  Our resort was so close to EPCOT, that we could walk to the International Gateway entrance {which leads to World Showcase} in about 5 minutes.  

Natalie practicing her curtsy before heading to breakfast.  

We had an early morning reservation at Akerhaus, the sit down restaurant in Norway.  We chose Akerhaus so Natalie could see all her princess friends, the boys could get a good breakfast, and we could be in the park before it opened.  We left our room around 7:15, anticipating that we could get in.  Typically, you can get into the park with no problem if you present your reservation number.  Well, since we were at the back entrance, and the park wasn't ready for opening  yet, we had to wait about 35 minutes.  Not fun with two hungry boys, one excited princess, and I was sort of stressed.  I didn't want to be late for our reservation, and I had hoped to have a fairly empty World Showcase in which to take pictures of the kids.  Not so much.  The gates finally opened around 7:55.  We made our way to Norway, and we only waited about 5 minutes before they announced the "Royal Hurst Family" was ready to be seated.  Cool!  

When we walked in, Belle was our "hostess" princess.  She was in an alcove where we could have a photo taken with her, and get Natalie's autograph book signed.  Natalie was so cute interacting with Belle.  She was afraid to hug her, for fear she'd mess her up.  Anyway, we had our photo moment, and then we were seated at our table.  We helped ourselves to the "cold buffet"-bagels, fruit, yogurt, etc., while they took our drink orders and brought the hot plates out.  We had eggs, sausage, potatoes, etc. brought to our table, family style-yet it was all you could eat.  As we were eating, the princesses started making their way around to the tables.  The first one who visited us was Cinderella.  She was nice, but we've interacted with nicer Cinderella's before.  She was sort of in a hurry, but it was really fine.  Natalie was excited to see her nonetheless.  

Next was Princess Aurora {aka Sleeping Beauty}.  She is Natalie's absolute favorite, mainly because she wears a pink dress :).  She oohed and aahed over Natalie's beautiful dress, addressed the boys as princes, and Derrick as "sire".  Fun!  I had brought along Natalie's Little Golden Books for the princesses to sign.  It was so cute!  Now she has autographed princess books!  

Snow White visited us, and she was so cute too!  Natalie's dress had glitter on it-which smudges off easily-and Snow White mentioned that it looked as if she had been playing in the mines with the dwarves and that she had pixie dust on her dress now, too.  Natalie just kept staring at Snow-rightly so, because she was so heavily made up and looked so much like Snow White it wasn't even funny.  

Along came Ariel, who had the cutest and most playful personality.  She giggled with Natalie, and had big hugs for her.  Right as Ariel was finishing her photos and autographs with us, it was time for the Princess Parade.  Basically, the princesses line up the little princesses and they parade through the restaurant.  Natalie followed right behind Ariel with the rest of the little girls. So cute!

After breakfast, we made our way out to the park.  It had JUST opened, so we headed straight for Test Track-it had been refurbished and was closed last year when were there.  The boys were SO looking forward to riding it.  You design your own car, and take it for a "test" drive.  Then, you board a race car-similar to one you'd ride on a go cart/speed track-and test it.  It goes through series of stops and gos, and then it opens up to an outdoor track, and your car goes VERY fast.  It is really super fun.  It's one of our favorite rides at Disney.  

Matthew and Lucas were so proud of their car!  

So, we got Fastpasses, Rider Switch passes, and stood in the standby line.  Derrick and the boys rode standby, while Natalie and I went to The Land.  We rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Imagination with Figment, and then it was time to meet the boys and Derrick.  We swapped kids, and I rode FastPass line with the boys while Derrick took Natalie into a few shops and to ride Living with the Land and Figment again.  We made our way up to the front of the park to ride Spaceship Earth.  That's always a fun one, and everyone in our family loves it.
Matthew and Natalie

Matthew, Natalie, and Lucas
We visited Club Cool, and tried Cokes from around the world.  Some of them are pretty good, but others are nasty.  The kids ran through the water sprayers a bit, and then we made our way to Soarin' to use our RiderSwitch passes.  Lucas refused to ride, so Matthew and I rode while Derrick waited with the other two.  After all this, we made our way back to the resort for some lunch and some quiet time.  We hung out for a few hours, to wait the rain out.  

Matthew, Derrick, and I

We took the monorail over to EPCOT, and when we arrived it was pouring down rain.  We donned our ponchos, and made our way to Innoventions.  These buildings have some cool, experimental things in them-sort of like COSI.  The boys LOVE playing in here, and there were a few things Natalie enjoyed too.  While the boys explored the making of video games {shocker}, I took Natalie through the Great Piggy Bank Adventure. 

 I'm not 100% sure she learned anything about saving money, but it was fun and kept us out of the rain.  Since it was still raining, we made our way back to the resort and got some pizzas.  We watched movies until we fell asleep!  Overall, it was a great day, despite the rain.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Disney Vacation 2013

Vacation has come and gone.  It was SO awesome again this year!  We started our journey on Tuesday night, June 22.  We packed the car during the day, I finished cleaning up the house, and Derrick and I tried to nap.  We had planned to drive through the night, letting the kids sleep in the car.  After supper, we cleaned up, locked up, and we were off.  We left around 8:00 pm.  The kids bedded down in the car with a movie.  After one last restroom stop, and a snack, they fell asleep.  Amazingly, they did well!  No one made a peep until around 7 in the morning.  Although I am not a fan of driving over the night, only because we arrive exhausted, it ended up working very well.  The kids slept so well, and that meant no fighting, no feeding, and no boredom!  As a kid, I always remember that time passed so much quicker when I slept on road trips!  So, as our littles dozed in the back seat, Derrick and I chatted, and I dozed every once in awhile, all the way to Orlando.  

Natalie, Lucas, and Matthew all ready to go!  

This sweet girl slept so soundly! Mouth open and all!

We arrived at our resort, Disney's Beach Club Resort, around noon.  Granted, we were tired.  But we were SO excited to be there that we didn't care!  So, Derrick dropped me off at the entrance so I could check us in.  I was greeted by a cast member, who took me straight up to the Fifth Floor.  We had booked a room on the Club Level, which entailed some additional amenities that we wouldn't have had otherwise.  They are SO accommodating!  While I was being checked in, she offered me a drink, told me about the access to the lounge, offered to make dining or special event reservations for us, and even ended up giving us a few hundred dollar credit because we had requested a room with a daybed and they didn't have any available.  So, we got a roll away for Nattie, and a few hundred dollars to spend :).    Our room view was pretty great, too.  We had a view of EPCOT's Spaceship Earth from our balcony.  We could walk to EPCOT in about 10 minutes and to Hollywood Studios in about 20.  

Our resort was on the Boardwalk.  Lots of shops and restaurants!  

The view from our balcony.

After we went to the room, the kids watched a movie and enjoyed snacks from the lounge.  Derrick started to unpack, and we decided it would be a good idea to get some lunch.  We decided on Beaches and Cream for our lunch.  It's a small diner style restaurant, and is very famous for its ice cream.  After some burgers and salad, the kids and I hit the pool while Derrick finished unpacking.  The pool was super fun!  The waterslide was huge, which the boys loved.  The bottom was sandy {in keeping with the beach theme}, and there was a lazy river.  It was so hot that day, and the pool was awesome!  After some swimming, Derrick came down to join us for a little bit.  We swam a little longer, and decided that we needed some dinner.  We went to the lounge for some appetizers, and then we went to Downtown Disney for some shopping.  

Since the boys had money burning a hole in their pockets from Grandma and Grandpa, we let them do some spending.  They each decided on a new Vinylmation figurine and a pin for their lanyards.  While the boys and I shopped a little more, and stopped for a Mickey ice cream bar, Derrick and Natalie went to the World of Disney in search of a mug for one of our church members.  

Lucas and Matthew can't go to Disney without enjoying one of these!
Since his had broken, his wife wanted us to pick up a new one to replace it.  I also replaced my Tinkerbell mug that I had dropped earlier this year {which cut my foot deeply and gave me 6 stitches}.  While they were in the World of Disney, Derrick and Natalie picked out some jewelry for her!  

Matthew with his new Vinylmation figurine.  

Lucas also got one.   His is an Ewok.  
After Downtown Disney, we were so tired!  So we headed back to the resort for a late dinner and bed time.  We had an early morning reservation at EPCOT the next day to dine with the princesses!