Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 1 - Our Arrival and Hollywood Studios

On Wednedsay morning, we left Valdosta a little after 7:00. The boys were super excited, as were we. We arrived in Walt Disney World around 10:45. I wanted to be sure to get a picture of the gate and the boys when we got there.

There was some mighty big celebrating going on in the backseat!

We chose to stay at the Wilderness Lodge on the property. It was a super choice. From the time we drove up, people were greeting us by name, and saying, "Welcome home!"

Our first view of the Lodge.

Our pictures do not do justice to the beauty that the place is. It is themed like the Pacific Northwest. The entire lobby is wood logs and beams,and there is a huge stacked stone fireplace with rocking chairs everywhere. You really should go to the Disney website and see the pictures there. They are much better.

True to Disney form, every detail was perfect. Here's our hallway.

And the inside of our room. We loved staying here, but right then we were scrambling to get out the door and to Hollywood Studios!

The best thing about staying inside the park is that your transportation for your stay is included. Each day we walked down to the bus stop or dock outside our resort and hopped on our ride to the park. We didn't even see our own car until Sunday morning when we got ready to leave. Here are Brent and the boys waiting on our first bus.

I think Andrew and Coleman had not ridden a bus before this trip. Excitement was around every turn for these boys!

Finally, we were at the park!

Before we left, Andrew and I had done a biography study of Walt Disney in school. He loved it, and remembered almost every detail of the man's life. We also watched some "Steamboat Willie" cartoons on youtube. Andrew recognized this ship immediately as the one from Steamboat Willie.

Below is one of my favorite pictures. Brent and I decided to do the Disney Dining Plan for our meals. I think other than the decision to go to Disney World, the choice to do the dining plan was the best choice we made. It was awesome. Our plan included a snack, a counter-service (fast food), and a table service meal each day of our trip. We ate breakfast in the room each morning before we left. Then, when it was lunchtime, we picked our restaurant, walked up, placed our order, and handed them our dining cards. No stress about how much everything was costing. We had already paid for it, and I'm sure if we broke it down, we came out far better than if we'd paid out of pocket for the same stuff. Here's a VERY happy Brent with our lunch receipt. I don't know if you can see the total or not, but it says $0.00!

Inside the park are areas that look just like movie sets. Here's a New York city scene.

After we ate lunch, we headed over to the Toy Story ride. One of my best friends ever called me when she found out we were going to WDW. They have been multiple times with their children, and she was calling to share some tips with us. She highly recommended using to make a plan for each day before we went. In her words, if we didn't, we would be able to "see the money dripping off your fingernails." So we signed up and made our plans for the parks before we left. It was another brilliant idea. We marked up our map each day before we left the room, and then we didn't have to try to figure out what to do next or when showtimes were, and waste precious time and money doing so.

Here are the boys in line for the ride. I think it was about now when I realized, "Wow. We are really here. This is about to get really good!"

The ride was super cool. We wore 3D glasses and shot our blasters at targets on screens throughout the ride. My riding buddy would probably have stayed on this ride the entire day if he'd been given the choice.

This is what our seats looked like. Brent and Andrew were on one side, and Coleman and I were on the other.

When we came out, we ran into a green army man! Our first character!

Disney has some great 3D movies and rides in their parks. Here are the boys waiting for Star Tours. It was a super fun ride too. We also saw MuppetVision. It was a funny muppet movie in 3D.

We watched some Jedi training.

Next up, we saw the Indiana Jones stunt show. It was great! Andrew and Coleman loved it, though they had their fingers in their ears for some of it. Here's Indy and the girl heading to the plane. It was full of explosions, gun shots and close calls. All that adrenaline pumping stuff the boys love!
And then we got awesome seats for the Pixar Pals Parade. First up were the Incredibles. Here's Frozone with my alter ego, Elastigirl!

And Brent's alter ego, Mr. Incredible!

Almost all the Pixar movies were represented. Here's Ratatouille.

One of the last pictures of five year old Andrew.

The Toy Story float!

Sweet Coleman waving to Woody and Buzz.

Right after the parade, it started raining. Not a downpour, just a pesky drizzle. We were prepared with our dollar store ponchos though, so we didn't get too wet. If it had to rain, I'm very glad this was the day it did. We stopped to see Lightning and good ole Mater.

The we headed over to the Lights, Motors, Action! stunt show. More explosions, cool stuff with cars, motorcycles, and even jetskis. You can see it got a bit loud in some places too.

When the show was over, we got our snack for the day. The boys both chose giant pretzels and we shared a Sprite.
We had had a full day, so we headed out a little after five in the rain. We took the bus back to the Wilderness Lodge and rested a bit before supper.

When we booked our stay, we got a packet full of vouchers and coupons. There were some tokens for the resort arcade, so we let the boys play that night while we waited on our reservation.

We ate at the Whispering Canyon Cafe inside the Lodge. Talk about a misnamed place. It was one of the loudest restaurants we've ever been to. But the food was excellent!

We'd been told that when our food came, Andrew needed to ask for some ketchup. So he did. He politely asked our server, Aunt Jane, if he could please have some ketchup. She hollered, "You want some ketchup? Alright! Bring the ketchup." And all the kids from all over the dining room came to our table with their bottles of ketchup. It was pretty funny. You can see the plethora of ketchup in the picture below. A little later, another kid asked for ketchup, and Andrew and Coleman took it over to him.

After such a big day, we were all glad to see our pajamas and get in the bed. Our room had bunk beds (a big part of why we stayed there) which were a huge hit. Here's the very last picture of our five year old Andrew.

I think it took about half a minute for us all to get to sleep that night. We had a very big day waiting for Andrew on his birthday the next morning! Much more fun to come!

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