So, about mid-February BFF and I decided that we’d like to attend a professional conference in Tampa, Florida to earn some CEUs. It sounded like a good conference and my Mom (Grandma!) was down with babysitting for both Au and Em so we started planning.
We got our Hyatt hotel rooms reserved, plane tickets, and the car rented. Then I realized that I hadn’t booked the right flight home. Instead, I had booked another outbound flight. When I went to book the correct flight it was going to be more than $300. Jawdropping. I mean, I love Southwest, but I like the cheap seats! So, I looked to see if there were any nearby airports I could fly out of. Turns out, Orlando is only about 50 minutes away. Turns out, rather unexpectedly, that tickets into and out of Orlando were several hundred dollars cheaper.
That set all kinds of new gears spinning. Okay, new car rental? Cheaper in Orlando! Unexpected! (Oh, I don’t think I mentioned that this was the week after Easter which is one of the busiest weeks Orlando has which is why the lower prices were really, really, really unexpected.)
So, then I brainstormed a little more…is there a way to tack some additional fun onto this trip? It is BFFs birthday after all! Well, unexpectedly, we got a great rate at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort at Disney for the front end and a savannah view room at Animal Kingdom Lodge on the backend! Yahoo! 3 days of conference 2 1/2 days at Disney! What fun!
On Wednesday we got on the way-too-early o’clock flight, unexpectedly landed early, got the rental car, and were at Magic Kingdom by 10:00am. We decided to start out with lunch at Tony’s Town Square. I was able to arrange a surprise birthday cake (not personalized, I totally dropped that ball. 😦 ) and boy, was she surprised (we had the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and it was yummy!). I forgot to give the waitress my Tables in Wonderland card (this was TIW fail #1).
We rode Pirates of the Carribean (now none as Pirates of the Terribean!) and poor Em was scared, scared. My little copycat looked over at her friend screaming and clinging to her Mama and began immitating. Awesome! No, other than yay for that developmental milestone, I wasn’t pleased and told her she was just fine and could sit right back down. We walked around a little bit and decided to go check into our hotel and put the bitties down for naps (with hopes of Mama naps too!)
Can I just say, I heart Port Orleans French Quarter? It looks like a clean, puke free version of New Orlean’s French Quarter. Beautiful quads with fountains and flowers, mardi gras themed swimming pool, and jazz music. Our room was on the corner and while not spacious certainly adequate. We got the bitties down to sleep but were unable to nap ourselves. We went back and forth about our upcoming Plaza restaurant reservation but ultimately decided to keep it. So, the girls didn’t get very long to nap but are congenial souls who put up with it.
We treked back over to the Magic Kingdom and made it to our reservation right on time. We were seated in the window and had a glorious view of the castle. Dinner was really good. I had a vanilla milkshake and a cheeseburger. AU had the grilled chicken tenders and fries. The food was tasty and I forgot to give the waitress my TIW card again (fail #2!).
After dinner we decided to ride the train around. MISTAKE. The cast member was rude and unhelpful. I understand that the stroller has to be folded to go on the train but why, oh why, was it so important to her that I hoss it over the turnstile? I asked to go through the handicap door and she said, “No, you have to lift it over the turnstile.” Really? I’m expected to heft my stroller and safely hold my baby? Seriously? More helpful would have been giving me the option to park it somewhere or letting me go through the handicap entrace (oh, and there wasn’t anyone else there, I could understand if they had wheelchair using visitors who needed exclusive use then) or just tell me I cannot ride. Grrr. I think I might still be upset about that. The train ride was lovely and the girls seemed to like it.
After our train debacle we went to get a spot for the Electric Light Parade. I don’t think I had ever seen it (at least I have no memory of it). We didn’t have the best spot for it but it was still fun. The girls seemed to like waving at the people and seeing the lights. I liked seeing their joy.
After the parade we waited in the same spot to watch the show (cannot remember the name of it) that is projected on the castle and then the fireworks. As we were waiting a woman comes and sits between my stroller and the stroller of a UK family. I was a little annoyed since she essentially pushed her way in between and now I would not have access to assisting my child but I didn’t say anything. When AU began pulling on the strap of the woman’s shirt I also didn’t say anything. The woman kept turning around first one direction (the UK kid and AU seemed to be taking turns!) and then the other to say, “No.” I didn’t say a word. First, because my kid is 14 months old and words mean only slightly more than nothing. Second, because she saw the situation and chose to worm her way between 2 kids less than 2 years old. Third, because of where she chose to sit I couldn’t physically intervene which is what getting AU to stop would have taken. The show was okay. A good bridge piece between the parade and fireworks.
The fireworks? FANTASTIC! I had never been right down in front of the castle for them and they were magnificent. Em was scared and crying and I felt bad because we were trapped and couldn’t really leave. BFF handled it well and I don’t think let it ruin the experience or her birthday eve celebration. I think AU was awake for the fireworks but she may have been asleep. I have slept since then thankfully! Either way they were spectacular! We waited until the crowd dissipated and then headed back to the hotel.
Since the girls were sleeping so peacefully in their strollers we decided to take a quick hot tub to relieve the aching muscles. It was bliss! (Oh, and we got a snack at the Floatworks (TIW fail #3!)
The next morning we had breakfast over at the Floatworks which was pretty good (TIW fail #4!!!) and headed out to Animal Kingdom. We did babyswap and road Expedition Everest (yahoo!) and tried to see the Nemo show but the girls got antsy after about 4 minutes. We headed to Yak and Yeti for lunch. I had eaten at the counter service place last trip, thought that they took TIW, and was looking forward to this meal. Unfortunately it was TIW fail #5 (thankfully the last!) and just eh. It was horrifically expensive for lunch considering the food was just okay (the counter service is just as good, if not better because of the lower price). Granted there was a clean bathroom and air conditioning which was nice but overall I won’t be going back.
In the afternoon we headed over to Dinoland and let the girls explore the playground. Then we found the sand (gravel?) box! They were in heaven! I think we played there for an hour. It was awesome.
We loaded up, said goodbye to Disney, and head to Tampa to pick Mom (Grandma) up at the airport. We had an excellent dinner at Pizzeria Bavaro which was divine! The Hyatt messed up our room order (we neeeded adjoining rooms having 2 babies and one babysitter) and it was a mess! Our Hyatt experience was not improved by the lie that we could have new rooms at 8am the following morning. Stressful! The conference was great though. Probably the best I have attended.
Due to our bad Hyatt (ongoing) experience we decided to check out early on Saturday and return to the World rather than spend the last night in misery. Unexpectedly, there was a vacancy at a price point we could justify! Yahoo! So, we dropped Mom (Grandma) off at the airport and headed back to Orlando. We pulled into the Studios parking lot around 6:30pm and wandered.
We rode the Great Movie ride and had my first unfortunate encounter with a surly parkgoer. There was a man, a little girl, and an adolescent boy sitting directly behind us. The ride started and the man and teenager’s conversation did not stop and in fact got louder so they could talk over the guide. We couldn’t hear. I turned around and said something like, “Could you please be quieter we can’t hear.” The man’s response was something like, “Do you mind? I’m talking to my son. I won’t be quiet.” The teen’s response was, “Sure. I’m sorry.” Dad, “No. They can ride the ride again. We are talking.” At this point I start cringing. The Dad and teen continue to go back and forth and the Dad says something like, “She told me to shut up!” The teen says, “No, she politely asked us to be quiet. You should apologize.” I continue to cringe and imagine that Dad as a raging abusive man who probably drinks too much and that I have put his children’s lives in danger. The daughter pipes up and says, “Daddy, that lady was nice. She said please. You should apologize.” To which the teen prompts her, “Dad won’t apologize. He’s too stubborn.” Silence. I continue to cringe and then feel a heavy hand on my shoulder. Momentary panic! How do I keep my baby safe?!? Then, “I’m sorry. Everyone has had a long day. We’ll be quiet.” Confusion sets in. I had fully expected to be hit or otherwise harmed. I say I’m sorry as well and continue to silently wish the ride finished. When the ride is done we go to get off and the little girl starts talking to us. So we have an extended conversation about their light sabers and wish them a good evening. It was an unexpected experience to say the least!
We headed over to Rock N Rollercoaster and wait 40 minutes for BFF to ride and then try to do babyswap but the fastpass line is 30 minutes long. I really dislike the new (not sure when it went into effect) babyswap policy. Basically, it has doubled a families wait time. If we all stood in line together, first person rides the ride, then swaps it is one wait time plus ride time. With the current set up, first person waits in line, rides, swaps, second person waits in line and ride. It is hard on the girls not to be moving in their strollers. They don’t mind being in their strollers but don’t tolerate just sitting for more than about 30 minutes. So, we walked around and used the bathroom and waited for the line to go down. Then I rode and we headed to Allstar Movies!
This was our first Allstar experience. It will likely be the last. The room was okay but just. For a quick one night, sure. But for more than that, no thank you! Em loved the giant Buzz and Woody statues? figures? decorations? We had some egg Mcbiscuits on the way to check in at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Amazingly our room was ready even though it was 10am! We settled in and BFF was amazed. I was pretty thrilled too. I will say that we didn’t see many animals on the savannah. I chalk it up to not being in the room 24/7 but our January savannah had almost constant animals (at least when we were out looking for them!). We headed over to Epcot… more to come…