So, we've been back from Disney for 5 days, and I think I'm ready to go back now. The trip was GREAT! Oh, sure, we were all tired and hot. And by our last morning (Friday), we were all seriously ready to go home after four days of concentrated park-hopping. But now that we aren't there, I can't wait to go again.
So, details and background. Back in April, when we were gearing up for our FET cycle and basically thought there was no way in hell I'd get pregnant (a prediction shared by my RE), I was feeling mad and devil-may-care and like the universe could go fuck itself. During one of those moods, I happened to stumble across a banner ad for a deal on Disney vacation packages. Seems we could get free meals during our stay if we booked a package. I mentioned the idea to The Boy, thinking it would probably go the same way as every other time we've ever planned a vacation -- an initial burst of enthusiasm followed by rationalization and, ultimately, the conclusion that we would be better off saving the money and vacationing with family again, instead.
As luck would have it, though, The Boy was in a funk similar to mine. His company had acquired another company, and had decided to abandon its local headquarters in favor of the acquired company's offices in Washington State. As a result, The Boy's perfect job, which he loved, was going away. As were the jobs of every single other person in his company's local office. Morale was low, and The Boy had just done a tally of exactly how much vacation time he had saved up. It was over two months, and, fortuitously, the Boy was feeling like it was time he actually, you know, took some vacation time. So he actually liked the Disney idea.
I did some research, picked a time frame, and we decided to book. Then I went out and borrowed every single Disney guidebook I could get my hands on. I started stalking touringplans.com and allearsnet.com (both great resources, btw). This was the first vacation I had ever planned, and I wanted to make sure it was the MOST FUN EVER! Along the way, we also decided to see if The Boy's parents would like to come, too. To our surprise and delight, they agreed.
Five months (give or take) of obsessive planning later, and we were on our way! We arrived at the Port Orleans Riverside resort on a Sunday. If you haven't been, it's themed like a Louisiana plantation/bayou, and the whole place is pretty. The rooms are fairly large and well laid-out, and the place has a great swimming pool area. We spent the evening at the nearby Downtown Disney shopping complex.
On Monday, we went to Epcot. Now, this was the only park for which I did not have a step-by-step plan made. The guidebooks make it sound like there's just not all that much to see in Epcot, so I didn't think it was necessary. WRONG! Epcot is huge, and it's difficult to figure out by wandering exactly where everything is and what there really is to see. We were there for about six hours, and I feel like we missed a good half of the things we wanted to see, simply because we hadn't planned.
We did manage to get on Soarin', which was really cool, and Living with the Land, which I found fascinating. After that, M decided she wanted to meet Mickey Mouse, so we wasted about a 1/2 hour at the Epcot Character spot. From there, we wandered into Innoventions, where M had a great time making a frog out of velcro pieces. Next up was The Seas with Nemo, which was the biggest disappointment of the trip. We skipped the main exhibits in favor of the ride there, thinking we'd get to see plenty from the ride. Instead, the first 2/3 of the ride was totally fabricated, and hyped-up, noisy and frenetic series of scenes from Finding Nemo. The last third of the ride was a pretty cool trip past windows into the main aquarium, but even then, the Nemo characters remained the focus. That ride made us all a little grumpy and it was almost noon, so we headed over to the World Showcase for lunch.
After a delicious lunch in Norway (oh my god, the Seafood soup. I could have eaten it every meal of every day and still not have gotten tired of it), we headed into Maelstrom. Another "eh" ride, which incidentally scared the pants off of M. She's still talking about the scary trolls. After a little shopping, we headed back towards the exit and the hotel.
To be honest, after Monday morning, I was a little worried the trip would be a bust. M didn't seem too impressed or interested in anything she'd seen, and as I mentioned, we were all kind of grumpy. I started seeing my meticulously planned trip devolving into a morass of sweat and crankiness.
Luckily, we had dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe that night. It's a kind of loud, western themed restaurant at the Wilderness Lodge (aka: one of the hotels where rich people stay). M got to ride a hobby horse around the restaurant, and the wait staff led sing-a-longs of toddler-friendly songs. We ate, we talked, I cried (I, um, cried a lot this trip. I do that. I get excited and emotional and have to dig my sunglasses out inside so people can't see my lameness), and order was restored to the universe. Then M spend a giddy 20 minutes running over and over the bridge in the lobby, then flinging herself into the rocking chairs nearby.
(by the way, am I giving too much information here? Not that it'll stop me, but please feel free to stop reading at any time or post comments asking me to shut up. I don't mind).
Tuesday, we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios. This is the park that I have the fondest memories of from my trip as a college student, so I was really looking forward to it. We (and everyone else) made a beeline right to the new Toy Story ride as soon as the park opened, and my MIL got us all fastpasses. Then I took M to see The Little Mermaid show while the rest of the adults hit the park's two thrill rides. Afterwards, we all did Toy Story. This was, without a doubt, my favorite ride in any of the parks. I wish I could have ridden it 10 times. It was fun, interactive, fast, cute and just overall great.
We also saw the Playhouse Disney show (eh), then headed over to a late breakfast/early lunch at the Play and Dine restaurant. The in-laws opted out of this meal, but M, the Boy and I had a blast there! Because of the strange timing of our reservation, the restaurant was only about 1/3 full, and M got to visit with each of the characters several times. Then she got to get up and dance with the Little Einsteins. She had a ball, and we had a great time watching her. I maybe cried again.
We finished off the morning with the Muppet 3-d movie. It's a long-time favorite of mine, but M was decidedly unimpressed. At least, I think that's what she was trying to tell us with her piercing screams and audible sobs. I left feeling like the worst mom ever for making her see it.
Tuesday evening, the in-laws headed off to a grown-up dinner in Epcot's France. DH suggested a short trip to the Magic Kingdom. I agreed, even though I knew the park would close early for the Halloween Party they host there. I'd begged and wheedled and tried to get The Boy to agree that we needed to get tickets to the party, but he disagreed. Something about bedtimes and responsibility. I dunno. I was too busy pining over the idea of trick-or-treating at Disney to listen.
Nevertheless, we went to the MK and picked up some Minnie ears for M. Then we headed straight towards Toontown, where M wanted to see Mickey again. Alas, he'd just left there to get ready for the Halloween party (see, Boy, SEE?). She did, however, have a good time exploring Minnie's house, then I made her ride the roller coaster (with The Boy, of course). I was a little apprehensive about that one after her response to the muppets, but I needn't have worried. As soon as the ride ended, I headed to the exit, thinking to collect my sobbing puddle o'toddler. Instead, I saw her get off the train, then turn around and get back on again. Since the place was empty, they allowed her to do that. After ride #2, The Boy pried her off, and she ran down the ramp to me and asked if she could go again. She rode it four times, then spent another 40 minutes running around the tiny playground in Toontown. Then The Boy dragged me kicking and screaming out of the park as the Halloween music started.
Wednesday morning found us back at the Magic Kingdom again. Fearing crowds, I'd forced everyone to be out the door at at the park 20 minutes before it opened. As it happened, there were no crowds at all. We walked onto every single ride in Fantasyland (some of them several times) before 10:00 am, then the rest of the adults walked onto Space Mountain. We played for several hours, then had lunch with Pooh and Friends in the park. Afterwards, I agreed to take M back to the room while the rest of the adults went to Animal Kingdom to hit the rides there that are not kid or prego friendly.
Sadly, it started raining and thundering while M and I were napping. The boy and his parents returned to the room having gotten to AK just as they were closing down all of the thrill rides due to thunder. They saw the bug movie, which creeped them all out.
Foolishly, that night we decided to go back to MK again, despite the rain. My in-laws wanted to take M on the Jungle Cruise. We got there, waited in line, and just as we got to the front, we heard that ominous rumble of thunder and they shut down the ride. Thwarted, we decided to grab some dinner instead. We ended up at the Pinocchio Village Haus for what was, undoubtedly, the worst meal we had all week. Seriously, this place stinks! But we did get entertainment in the form of M having a tantrum because she wanted to ride It's a Small World again, followed by my MIL having a tantrum because The Boy took M on IASM before dinner. Tempers were appeased when we agreed that the in-laws could have M all to themselves the next morning while The Boy and I explored on our own (oh, the sacrifice!)
So Thursday morning? ROCKED. The Boy and I headed back to MK yet again, to ride all the stuff we'd deemed inappropriate for M. We started on Buzz Lightyear, where we won dream fastpasses! Now, the park was nowhere near crowded enough that we needed them, but we were still happy to win. We zoomed through the rest of the stuff we'd wanted to see (I highly recommend the Carousel of Progress), then met up with M and the ILs after they finally got on the jungle cruise.
In the afternoon, the guys took M back to the room while MIL and I went to Downtown Disney for some shopping. Sadly, it started pouring on the boat ride back to the hotel and didn't stop for hours. We had dinner reservations in Epcot that night, so we slogged through the rain to get there. Luckily, dinner was delicious and because the service was so incredibly slow, we got out right in time to see the fireworks. M oohed and aahed, then as soon as the last firework had faded, she melted into tears that didn't stop until we were back at the hotel. Poor kid. Despite her daily two-hour naps and our efforts to enforce bedtime, she was exhausted.
Friday was leaving day. We slept in, packed, ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and finally got to swim in that great pool. Then we did one more quick shopping trip (to make good on our potty-training bribe to M. More on that some other time), and drove home. We spent the rest of the weekend sleeping and basically not moving.
Overall, it was a great trip and I'm glad we went. I don't see us becoming a "Disney every year" family, but I did get The Boy to agree we should go back in five years. And next time, even he thinks we should hit the Halloween party.