Thursday, April 23, 2015

Easter

With Daniel working at a church and me volunteering most every Sunday, we have found that Easter Sunday is often not an enjoyable, relaxing holiday.  We know the day is designed as a celebration of the resurrection, but it is easy for the busyness of the day to overwhelm us, or at least me. Most Sunday mornings are stressful at our house, and Easter is definitely not an exception.  I have been working for the past few years to make Easter a good day of celebration for us, and this year was great!

Getting pictures of the girls and our family in our Easter outfits is important to me.  I have managed to do it every year since we had kids, and I'm determined to keep up the tradition.  BUT...I know that trying to take pictures on Easter Sunday morning before church is next to impossible.  (I had to be there at 7:00 am this year).  So most years, I try to get the girls dressed up and do an Easter photo shoot before Easter day.  Everyone is much more relaxed that way!  And then, I have pictures to use to send Easter cards to all the grandparents.

So here are this year's pictures.  Isla has grown to be more cooperative in pictures recently, which is great!  Their dresses are made by Jelly the Pug, and I got them from Zulily for $20 each.  I thought they were super cute.









Then on Easter Sunday, we just had the job of getting one family picture taken.  Everyone was cooperative this year and we ended up with a good picture!

Audrey wanted me to do something special to her hair for Easter.  However, I knew I had to be at church at 7:00 am, and letting Daniel fix her hair was not really a possibility.  So, we found a tutorial on how to do Bandu knots.  Audrey slept with her hair in these bun knots all night.  In the morning, I had Daniel bring her to church with the knots still in, so that I could take them out and fix her hair there.  It ended up being really cute!  I was impressed with how curly her hair was.



Getting an Easter lunch ready after a busy morning at church is also not a reasonable (or fun) idea.  Instead, we went out to lunch at a restaurant and invited some friends over for an early evening Easter cookout.

After lunch, the girls came home and found their Easter baskets.  We've never really talked about the Easter Bunny, but they were really interested in the Easter Bunny this year.  I told them the Easter Bunny was so happy to learn that Jesus is alive, that he wanted to give presents to them to celebrate.  That was my attempt at connecting Jesus and the Easter Bunny.  I don't know how much they cared about my attempt at teaching them a lesson, but they were excited about their baskets!





Happy (belated) Easter from us!




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Magic Kingdom Day 3 (Part 2)

This is still a continuation from my Disney World series last year.  Some day I will finish all these posts...

You can find part one of this post here.

After our Dumbo ride, it was time for our Fastpass at Tomorrowland Speedway.  Also known as the worst ride in all of Disney World.  In my opinion at least.  It never seems to be working, and when it is working, it is just not that fun!  But the girls thought it would be fun, so we went for it.  The line was short and we really didn't need a Fastpass.  But if there would have been a line, a Fastpass is a good idea here.  The line doesn't have much shade and it is not a fun queue, worth skipping the line for this one, especially since the end ride isn't all that exciting.

Audrey and I went together in a car.  She didn't want to drive, so I took the driver's seat.  It's a good thing I was driving because the gas pedal was not working well.  I had to push so hard just to make my car move a little.  It was miserable, and by the end of the ride, I thought my leg might just fall off.


Then, with about 20 feet left to go, they made everyone stop.  We waited in the blazing sun on the black asphalt in a car fuming with gasoline for about 15 minutes.  It was so miserable.  The girls probably had a better attitude about it than Daniel and I did.  They did give everyone an extra Fastpass since we had to wait, which was nice (Although we never ended up using ours!).

After the Speedway experience, we were very hot and thirsty.  It was about 12;15 and we had a 12:40 lunch reservation at Liberty Tree Tavern.  We decided to go straight there and hope to get seated a little early.  We didn't get seated early, but they did have a waiting area that included a bench, ice water and air conditioning.  So we had time to cool down before lunch.

This was our only non-character table service meal of the trip.  While the girls preferred the characters, it was nice to sit down to just a normal meal.  Daniel and I both got the Colony Salad, which was good.

Dessert is included with the dining plan, so we had to get dessert too!  I wasn't hungry for it at all, but I had heard lots of rave reviews for the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake.  Here's what it looked like when they brought it out to me.

It was really good.  But very rich.  No one else in my family wanted to share it with me, as they all had desserts of their own.  This was as much as I could eat of it.  Sad that all that ooey, gooey goodness had to go to waste!

With full stomachs, we headed across the street to the Hall of Presidents.  I had never seen this before, but Daniel loves it and wanted to go.  I wasn't sure what the girls would think or if they would be bored, but they seemed fairly interested through the whole show. I think it was about 20 minutes.

Then it was just about time for our Anna/Elsa fastpass.  I replanned our whole trip for the sake of that coveted Fastpass!  On the walk there, Isla fell asleep in the stroller. We tried to wake her up when we got there, but she was out and totally missed seeing Anna and Elsa.  Audrey was awake and ready to bo though!  She got an Anna/Elsa doll at Hollywood Studios on the previous day.  Anna's head is on one end, and then when you flip the doll over, it is Elsa on the other end.  Audrey was ready to get her doll flipped to match whatever sister she was meeting.  First up, Elsa!


And then Anna.  Elsa was kind of boring, but Anna was a lot of fun!


This was our third Fastpass for the day, which meant we were eligible to get another one.  We checked out what was available and decided on another ride on the Little Mermaid, Audrey's favorite.  Isla was still asleep so she and Daniel sat this one out.
Isla was STILL sleeping after the Little Mermaid ride.  It was getting close to 4:00, and Gaston was set to arrive for a meet and greet by his tavern.  Audrey and I decided to hop in his line, while Daniel walked around with Isla asleep in the stroller.

I'm so glad that we decided to stop for Gaston.  He was a hoot, and one of the more memorable character greetings of the trip!





And that was the end of our last park day of the trip!  We were off to a new resort for the rest of the night...Art of Animation.  I will share more about that in a later post...someday!






Monday, April 6, 2015

Magic Kingdom Day 3 (Part 1)

I recently made two Shutterfly photo books from our Disney pictures, which has caused me to reminisce about our Disney trip last year.  And then several people have been asking for my Disney advice lately, which has led me to do some Disney trip planning research (for them, not us).  All of this reminded me that I never finished my series of Disney posts last fall.

So I'm determined to finish them, no matter how long it may take me!  I left off right before our last day in the Disney parks, which we spent at Magic Kingdom.

This was the 5th park day for us, which was different from our original plan to only do four park days.  It wasn't that much more money to add an extra day.  This whole decision of adding a day started when I tried to get an Anna/Elsa Fastpass.  The only possible time during our whole trip to meet Anna/Elsa was on Sunday (our 5th day).  So I ended up adding another park day and rearranging our whole schedule just so we could meet Anna/Elsa without standing in line.  It was totally worth it!

According to Touring Plans, this day was predicted to be a 1/10 on the crowd level scale.  The lowest possible crowds!  I was very curious to see what Magic Kingdom looked like with such low crowd levels.

This was at about 8:25, waiting outside the gates for rope drop.  It still felt just as crowded at this point in the morning.  I don't think there is ever really a "low" crowd day at Disney.  Just days that have lower crowds than others.

However, once we got to the back of the park in New Fantasyland (and everyone else had sprinted towards Mine Train, Anna/Elsa and the mountains) it was completely empty.  And I could take pictures like this, without a single other person in them.




Our plan was to head straight to Enchanted Tales with Belle, since the girls both liked this the first time and it tends to have a long line as the day progresses.  But when we got there, it wasn't working.  Well, they didn't tell us it wasn't working.  They had some reason about Belle being busy with something, because they never actually tell you when something goes wrong at Disney.  There is always a story in keeping with the characters!

Instead, Daniel and Audrey went to ride The Little Mermaid ride, yet again.  Isla didn't want to go, so we sat out and waited for them.  Then we went back to Enchanted Tales with Belle and it was up and running.  We walked right in.

This is the beginning part of the show in Maurice's cottage.  There is a magic mirror...

That turns into a magical passage into the Beast's castle.

The passage leads into a room with the wardrobe and a cast member.  The cast member opens up the wardrobe to reveal the props for the show, then passes them out to volunteers.
Then everyone goes into the library for the show with Belle, Lumiere and all the kid volunteers.  It's fun!
 Next, the girls wanted to ride It's a Small World once again.  So we did.  They didn't ever get tired of this ride!


It was about 9:50 at this point, and I knew that the Fairy Godmother was supposed to meet at the castle at 10:00 (according to Kenny the Pirate's character app...highly recommend that if you are interested in finding these lesser known characters!!).  Maybe we could catch her!  We had not had the best of luck catching the minor character meet n greets, so I warned Audrey it might not work.  We sent Daniel and Isla off to Starbucks, while Audrey and I went in search of the Fairy Godmother.  We got there and the stepmother and the stepsisters were currently greeting.  The cast member said that the line was full.  Then I asked if the Fairy Godmother would be out next.  She looked surprised that I knew this, and then said yes, the Fairy Godmother is supposed to be next, unless she is too busy helping in the kitchen!  The stepmother/sisters left and so did the line of people.  Audrey and I just stood there for about 2 minutes, and then the Fairy Godmother appeared!  We were first in line, so it worked out perfectly.  That really is the way to catch these characters...get there about 10 minutes AHEAD of their scheduled greeting time, and you just might get lucky.



We met up with Daniel and Isla at the magic teacups ride.  Isla wasn't sure she wanted to ride this one, and I definitely did not want to ride it.  I can't handle spinning rides.  So we sat and watched while Daniel and Audrey rode.  And Intook a picture of Daniel's Starbucks drink.  Which was totally free as a snack credit on the dining plan.



After a quick bathroom break, we took in a show at Mickey's Philharmagic, a $D cartoon featuring lots of classic Disney characters.  The Philharmagic was undergoing renovations most of our trip, but this was it's first day back open.  The place smelled like new carpet, so I'm thinking that must have been what they were renovating.  I think this is a really fun little show, but my sensitive little girls weren't too sure about the 4D effects (mostly the air blowing on them and water being squirted on them).

Then it was time for our Seven Dwarves Mine Train fastpass.  This is the newest and hottest ride at Magic Kingdom, and the lines were at 60 minutes as soon as the park opened.  Isla was too short to ride this one, and Audrey chickened out.  So Daniel and I took turns using our fastpasses and riding solo.  Neither of us had to wait in line at all with the fastpass.  Which is good because the ride is about one minute long.  In my mind, not worth waiting for an hour (or more!).  I'm not much of a roller coaster rider, and this was is fairly tame as far as roller coaster rides go.  Much tamer than Big Thunder Mountain, which I rode with Daniel last December.  I think Audrey could have handled it.  Maybe next time!  I tried to snap a couple of pictures with my cell phone on the ride, but they aren't too great.


After the mine train, we were right next to Winnie the Pooh.  I really wanted the girls to try it again, since they were scared of it the first time.  Isla wouldn't do it, but Audrey agreed.  Daniel and Isla went ahead to play in the Dumbo playland (Isla's favorite) while we rode Pooh.

Here is an example of how you can't really believe the posted Disney wait times.  The sign said it was a 40 minute wait.  But I looked at the line, and it did not look that long at all.  The touring plans app had the wait time at 25 minutes, which seemed more reasonable.  I timed our wait from when we got in line to when we got on the ride, and the total wait time was 12 minutes!  Audrey liked the ride much better the second time, and she was glad that she gave it another chance.  SOrry we are so blurry, but I wanted to document Audrey being brave!

We met up with Daniel and Isla and rode Dumbo, yet again.  It was a definite favorite, and I'm so glad that they have updated that ride to accommodate more people and make the wait more tolerable.  We didn't ever have to wait, but often we chose to wait, just because the girls liked to play in the play waiting area so much!