a day at animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom was our final full day at Walt Disney World. Such sweet sorrow! This park also has the shortest open hours of them all. So we got there right as it opened, which I have learned is an hour prior to the listed start time... And we were greeted by a rainbow! I really wanted to try and get on Flight of Passage so the kids and I along with my sister and her husband and Lena took off at a speed walk to get there. It. Was. Walk. On. I was shocked. The ride was just so so sooo good! Another bucket list Disney ride crossed off my list to be sure. By the time we exited the ride the line was already well over a half hour long so we moved on to the River Journey. Then it was more Starbs... monkeys, Everest for the first timers which they just so loved, the Kilamanjaro Safari, The Triceratops ride, then DinoSAUR which I was pretty excited to scare David by bringing him on.... Tough to be a Bug (David also hated this). We sat in the Relaxation Station a few times maskless and watched the boat cavalcades go by... Minnie and Mickey, Santa, and Pocahontas. We took this train way out to Rafikis watch or some such place and the kids got to pet goats.... something new and different... It was raining or drizzling off and on all day which was a bummer but I took it as a sign that Disney didn't want us to leave just as much as we didn't want to go. We rode the Safari again before our dinner which was at Yak and Yeti, another first! Just so good. 

We left after dinner and got the kids ice cream and their flattened pennies and then did a final stroll around the Boardwalk before bed. Just so forlorn, leaving Disney. I hate it! I know this whole experience was different than normal, but what is normal these days? The masks were annoying but we got used to them very quickly and half the time the kids didn't even remember to take them off! There was still so much Disney Magic that I would highly recommend going! Short lines, less crowds, still so amazing! And so clean. 

And of course! Thank you so very much to my parents for as always wishing to make amazing memories with us and with our kids. We love you so much and appreciate you! 

back at magic kingdom

Magic Kingdom a second time around and we really just took it so much slower.! We didn't have an agenda other than get our butts on Pirates of the Caribbean. We got coffee upon arrival and then rode Thunder Mountain Railroad, as Pirates was down. We watched the Philharmagic before Pirates finally opened up.  Letty and I got matching Minnie ears... Dom got the Mandalorian ship, David a shoulder buddy Porg? And we bought an Olsen Family The Child. He is pretty much a favorite of us all and Dom thinks he belongs to him but no! Family. Child. All the souvenirs! Then it was just a matter of what rides do we want and just walking right on them... Dumbo, Barnstormer, the Speedway, Space Mountain, Little Mermaid, the Buzz ride, the Magic Carpets and Haunted Mansion, etc. All before our very early dinner which was..... (drum roll please) at Be Our Guest!!! This was a first for us, ever and we were just so excited! I've heard such wonderful things about it and was sooooo not disappointed! The Beast comes out and says hello a few times... the ballroom is just gorgeous... the food was delicious, yes we ate the gray stuff and it was delicious, the wine was made specially just for Be Our Guest and the kids got to paint a white chocolate Chip! I mean.... perfect. All around. Loved. 

After dinner we were once more just so shot and so we just said our slow farewells to the castle and Main Street before heading back to our hotel once more. I hate hate hate goodbyes! Especially at Disney!

a day at hollywood studios

This is another park we can walk to from The Yacht Club (see why we choose to stay there?). This park also we had heard had the highest wait times because of the lack of shows and just general attractions. So we had a plan. That plan being that I had to get me and mine on Rise of Resistance. It was a must. I knew a little of the process but my sister did most of the research for me.... At 7 a.m. on the dot you can join your virtual boarding group from anywhere, not just at the park. So that was huge for me. Also she had read you should shut down all apps, get off Disney wifi, restart your phone, and just keep refreshing the several seconds before the clock hits 7:00 a.m. Don't even read the screens just keep hitting join (I think I did it like three times?). So it was the most stressful 10 or 20 seconds of my life but we got in! Boarding group number 44! I needed a drink after that pressure!

So then we could relax until it was time to walk over to get in line for Mickey's Runaway Railroad, another attraction that we wanted to hit but knew had to be done first thing unless we wanted to wait, which we don't, because we got spoiled this trip. The line was incredibly short and we got on well before the park even opened. So there's that. Then we headed to Toy Story Land only to be told Slinky Dog was down and would be for quite some time. So we did the other two rides there that were working, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger and the Swirling Saucers. By the time we were done with them Slinky was up and running and thankfully my sister had already hopped in that line so we joined her without having to wait long at all. So pretty much, the most successful morning ever. 

Then we ate foods. And then we got to go to Galaxy's Edge. And I just cannot put into words how cool this was for us. If you are a Star Wars fan you just need to get yourself there. It is themed to the very max and it really truly feels like you are on another world. Our boarding group was called around one and we just walked right on in there. My sister stayed out with Harrison and Tenley so we scanned a few of our Magic Bands for her to use as a parent swap thing and off we went! This ride is an 18 minute experience. You board a ship as part of the resistance only to be taken hostage by the First Order... and then they interrogate you.... and then you get rescued by the resistance and then you have to escape the ship. I mean I can't. I am not doing it justice. Just know it was amazing. When we got off my sister told us to just use the bands for a second ride since she doesn't care for Star Wars so I took Dom and Letty again, as they are the biggest Star Wars fans in the house. It was just as amazing the second time through. We didn't get to do Smuggler's Run only because the line was like a half hour and it was very crowded and we were the only ones really in to it... so that was a bummer but we still walked around the Millennium Falcon and so on before heading over to Tower of Terror. On the way we saw a cavalcade with Mickey and Minnie... I love these things! The crowds are basically nonexistent so the characters wave at you individually and even comment on like your sweatshirt or your shirt or just thanking us for coming.... it really is cool. 

Lena and Dom nailed the Tower of Terror, of course. And Pop got them their first timer t-shirts too! Then we went to the Frozen sing-a-long. It was our first show of the trip. They have every other row blocked off and then seats in groups of four with seats blocked off in between. The show itself was the same as normal holiday years except that the performers definitely stayed six feet away and there were quite a few comments about keeping masks on.... from the performers. And the final song is something along the lines of if we're together that's my favorite place to be and so on and it just  made me feel so sad for the coming holidays.... because we sure would love to all be together but sadly, we cannot. Thankfully the corny jokes of the show brushed off any of my sadness.... 

We had a character dining experience set up for this night at Hollywood and Vine! The food was served family style and wow was there a lot of food! We had to split into two groups and this night we were an hour apart which stunk. We got to see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy quite a few times during the meal!

After dinner I headed to the front of the park to leave to go see my Floridian friend from college, Kerri. I took the bus over to meet her at Coronado Springs to go to the top of the new tower there and have drinks at The Dahlia Lounge with her and her friend. While I did this Matt and the kids wandered back to Galaxy's Edge to see it at night. Any of those photos Letty took for me with Matt's phone. 

The night with Kerri was too short and it's been too long but it was so good to see her face and catch up!

back at epcot

Oh my most favorite of parks! How I love thee! And Christmas decor was added since Monday! The best! We wanted to make sure we got the kids on the Frozen ride so we went there right as it opened, which was later than most parks, only opening up technically at 11. We got in by ten though and got in line for the ride. We passed the little mini Anna and Elsa parade on our way to Soarin. Oh that ride! I just love it so! We then decided that we were there during the Food and Wine Festival so we should really take advantage of all the delicious food and drinks, something we haven't done here before. Shame on us right! So we got all the things!! Letty and Matt and I tried a bunch of fun things, the boys sticking with their normal chicken tenders and fries and pizza, respectively. We rode Test Track twice because it is such a fun ride, and a first again for Lena and Dom...We had dinner at Coral Reef which we haven't done in awhile. Of course we had to ride the Nemo ride again because when they sing "It's a big blue world" I get a bit teary eyed. Each. And. Every. Time. Theeeen it was another Spaceship Earth ride and then some more Soarin before walking back to our hotel for some matching cousin jams and some popcorn.

I really hated saying goodbye to Epcot this night... Normally we just pop in and out of this park several times during the week because of the park hopper and because we are usually within walking distance... so this stung a bit. I think that was the hardest part for me, being here during the pandemic, the lack of park hopper. So I guess if that is the worst then I consider myself extremely lucky!

a day at magic kingdom

I always love me a good Floridian sunrise! I usually see them by myself on my daily run but because masks are required I made the executive decision to take the week off of running. It was a hard pill to swallow but I still walked almost 20,000 steps a day so it wasn't that much of a stretch. We wanted to be at the bus line early because of having such a large party and COVID restrictions we didn't know how that would all work out. They have partitions in the bus between seats of two but they let us just take over the entire back of the bus. So it wasn't an issue getting on any buses the entire trip. They also had the emergency exit on the ceiling open to promote airflow... Which made for a chilly morning ride!

Magic Kingdom was the place to go to today! We had to reserve which park we wanted to go to in advance and there was no park hopper option so we really had to commit! Magic Kingdom had herself all decked out for Christmas and I was here for it! We got there about an hour earlier than their posted opening time because we had a mission: Seven Dwarves Mine Train. As there are no Fastpasses we really wanted to make sure to get on this right away because the wait times were consistently the longest. Like, over an hour. Not the best for those with little legs. And we made it! 

From then on we just popped from ride to ride... wait times were really great, either completely walk-on or ten minutes or so. The lines themselves look ridiculously long because they have markings on the ground to stay six feet apart. So it could look like it'll take forever but basically you're just walking the entire time. They have dividers up in parts of the queue where there are switch backs too. We did Peter Pan, Small World, Dumbo, Barnstormers, Space Mountain (a first for Dom and Lena and they nailed it!), Carousel of Progress, Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, I mean I'm telling you we were just doing all the rides! We found benches heading into Liberty Square for a bit of a break and from there were able to see a few of Magic Kingdom's cavalcades... Santa and his reindeer and Mickey and the list goes on! We did Haunted Mansion, the Magic Carpets and walked through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House before dinner which was at the Jungle Navigation Company. Which is a total favorite of mine now! The food was so good and the jokes were so corny! After dinner we stuck around to see a few of the Christmas projections on the castle. They don't have fireworks during the pandemic but they do this instead! They changed every fifteen minutes so we saw a few before heading home for the day. On our way out we were very pleased to see all the characters hanging out above the exit! And in all their Christmas finery! Main Street is always a fav but Main Street at Christmastime? The very best!

We ended our night with a popcorn and pajama party in our room, as we did every night!