Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Long and Short of It: Disney Edition

Our first moments at Magic Kingdom


I have just finished sewing Michaela's and Jenna's Easter dresses (and it's only Thursday!!), I have shopped for their baskets, I am almost caught up with the laundry, I have edited all 300 pictures from our trip, I have a big plate of spaghetti next to me, and Jenna is deeply engrossed in Peter Pan.

I am now ready to tell you about our trip to DisneyWorld.

It's all about the weather. Like I said before, we had a great time. We had awesome weather, which I was most excited about: warm, low humidity, and mostly sunny. A few passing rainstorms dumped some rain on us, but for less than an hour each time. It was glorious to be comfortable and in our flip flops and sandals and shorts.

Sunset at Epcot: and we live in the frigid Northeast because...???

Getting there is NOT half the fun. While our flight to Orlando was uneventful, we did experience and little... tension upon landing. We had secured seats on the Disney Magical Express, which drives you from the ariport to the Disney Resort you are staying at. As we were exiting the tunnel that brings you to and from the plane, I spotted a big sign that said: "Disney Magical Express Passengers: Bypass Baggage Claim" and I'm like, Awesome! We don't have to get our three suitcases that were juuust under the legal limit and drag them across Terminal A to Terminal B where the Magical Express Check-In is. So I tell Dan this and he's all, How will they know which suitcases are ours? That makes no sense. And I'm all, LOOK, It's Disney, I don't know really how they do anything but it's all magical. Let's try it. So against his better judgement, we dragged the girls, sans suitcases, to Terminal B and of course immediately were asked where our suitcases were and whether they were marked with the yellow Disney Magical Express tags. Oooooh. Right. That would be NO.

So we went back to Terminal A, got everything and made it fine onto our bus. By the time we got to the All Star Sports Resort, we were tired and cranky and it was late and I'd already had enough of everyone. We had a little trouble finding our room, towing our three suitcases and two very cranky children around an unfamiliar place and Dan and I had a little argument about where exactly Room 110 was.

And honestly, this is what we were saying to ourselves in our heads (we told each other later):
Dan: I can't believe I'm taking directions to the room from someone who can't even get to our dentist's office without getting lost.

But then the Pixie Dust started working it's magic on our brains and nerves and we all liked each other again.

Eating Adventures. We bought the Disney Dining Plan, which is possibly the greatest meal plan EVER. For about $11 each per day (we got a slight discount), we got a full breakfast or lunch, with dessert and drink, a snack (we inhaled countless Mickey Chocolate-covered Ice Cream bars on a stick... soooo good!) and a full sit down meal with dessert at any of the Disney restaurants in the Parks or at the Resorts. It was such a great deal that by the third day, I was convinced it is just a huge marketing-research tool so they know everything about what and where and when you eat... because there was no WAY they are making money on it. I guess I'll just chalk it up to the Magic of Disney.

We had a great time checking out new restaurants and had particularly good meals at Tony's on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and at the Whispering Canyon Cafe in Wilderness Lodge (which is worth going to just to see the resort... holy gorgeous). We had a character lunch at Ackershus in Norway and the food, while Norwegian-inspired, was actually very good. We also ate a quick service meal at Yak and Yeti in Animal Kingdom that was really good and different than the usual fare. But really, each place has it's own charm and I was thrilled to not be cooking and to be able to eat these big meals. Because Momma's eating for two and is huuun-gry.

Meeting Cinderella at Ackershus

Hitting the Parks. We went to all four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) and also went to Blizzard Beach water park. Blizzard Beach was AWESOME and I would recommend to ANYONE with kids to plan to pay the extra money (it's not included on a Park Hopper ticket) and spend the day there in the middle of your trip because it's a totally different type of pace and play for them. You don't really wait in lines, there are play areas for all ages, and we really had a blast. I think the girls did a lot of decompressing that day... it's a great break from the hurry-up-and-wait and overstimulation that can happen at the parks. Plus the theme of Blizzard Beach is super cute: a former ski resort finds all the snow has melted, leaving a water park instead. They even have a chairlift to take you to the slides that start high up. They play a mix of winter music (we heard Jingle Bells and Winter Wonderland) as well as more relaxing songs, like Jimmy Buffet. The lazy river ride is super relaxing and we just loved the whole park.

Michaela tries the icebergs as Jenna looks on

We went to Magic Kingdom three times and I'd have to say that Animal Kingdom was the girls' least favorite. Though they did get their hair wrapped there, and that was a big hit.

The main activity for Jenna was meeting the characters. We met Mickey, Minne, Pluto, Goofy, Donald (twice), Daisy, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle (twice), Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pocahontas, Chip and Dale, and The Incredibles (Mr. and Mrs.). The girls both loved getting hugged and posing for pictures. Michaela also went on some big-girl rides with Daddy: Space Mountain, Test Track, and Thunder Mountain Railroad. She and I had an adventure on our own one night while Daddy took a very tired Jenna back to the hotel: we waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes (an hour and twenty minutes of my life I will never get back, I might add) to ride the Toy Story Midway Mania 4D Spectacular. She loved it and I... well, the important thing is that she loved it.

Meeting Donald in Mexico at Epcot

Legs Libutti and her sister, Tall One

Meeting Daisy on Main Street In Magic Kingdom

Lots to See at the Resort. We stayed at a value resort because all the Moderates were booked. It was completely fine: clean, fun, utilitarian, and CHEAP. But it did lack some of the small-scale details and amenities of the Moderate resorts. The major downside (and really only downside) to staying there is that it was flooded with high school students taking Senior Trips. 90% of the kids were fine but we heard some language I was not thrilled with and saw LOTS of FLESH. I mean, the girls wore SCRAPS of clothing: tiny little string bikinis and low cut tops and itty bitty cut off jeans. I actually felt bad for the teenage boys by the end of the week, all hormonal and surounded by all this flesh being flaunted. And they were all tanned up and manicured and belly-pierced and sported very carefully done "casual" updo's. The old fart worrying mother of two daughters in me kept looking around for the chaperones and wondering, "Who's SUPERVISING all these kids?? How do you know they are not all fornicating in the rooms?"
And the girls were all attached to their cell phones, texting away, and at least once a day we sat next to some poor girl who was angst-ridden with some kind of drama about a boy. We actually heard one girl say, in a fabulous mock-Valley Girl accent, "ALL I am gonna do today is LAY OUT at Blizzard Beach and SLEEP because I am so SICK of his CRAP!!" and I was suddenly, overwhelming, profoundly happy that I was married, fat and pregnant with my third child.

On our last night, we were riding the bus back to our resort from Magic Kingdom and I said to Dan, "Don'y you think it's more crowded this week than last?" and a Senior Tripper girl, in a very helpful but unbelieveable self-centered way, says, "Well, it's Senior Trip!" And I thought to myself, "WELL, unless you brought about 500,000 students from your high school, I don't think YOUR senior trip is making the difference." But I really just said, "Oh, there were kids here last week on Senior Trip, too." and she seemed somewhat shocked by this nugget. It was really quite precious.

The Wrap Up. We were really sad to leave by Wednesday... if Jenna was not completely exhausted and overstimulated by the whole trip, I would have looked into staying an extra few days. It was a fantasic break from the routine, lots of fun together, and while every night one of the girls was quite cranky at dinner, we made it through and I think the girls really enjoyed it. Dan and I always leave Disney World with utter awe at the level of perfection demonstrated throughout the whole property: it's so clean, so fun, so big, so well-run, so incredibly pleasant, so magical. We plan on going back again when this baby is three or four, and we plan on bringing reinforcements to help us out.

Jenna in front of the gorgeous topiaries- they had every princess- at Epcot

I leave you with my favorite piece of video from the trip: Jenna on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. We stopped for a moment, the driver was talking to us and Jenna, somewhat hopefully asks...

It just perfectly encapsulates her whole experience: yeah, I'm having fun, but can we go home now?


Anonymous said...

The Libutti Family had a wonderful time, and I enjoyed reading about your adventures in your typical hilarious writing style. What memories you have AND the blog preserves them all-yeah! Love, Mommy

Mark, Carrie, and Luke Winterhoff said...

Maybe I have no life, but from the time I knew that you returned from vacation, I stalked your blog several times a day, anxiously awaiting this Disney update! And... it DID NOT disappoint! Will you please be our tour guide when we go in a few years? Write down ALL of these details for us! Sounds like you had a great time (and Mark and I thought your story about the luggage/family dissent was hilarious!). Welcome home! Love, Carrie

Anonymous said...

Disney IS magic.....couldn't we get them to fix the economy, end the wars and capture the pirates?! You did a great job of capturing the ups (and inevitable) downs of a family vacation.....made me long to do it with our gang! Love, LW