Our week at WDW exceeded my every expectation. Apart from the hour delay departing initially, everything airport and airline-wise went smoothly. The twins behaved markedly better then they did while travelling to Hawaii last June (if we weren't travelling over the pacific ocean at the time the plane probably would have landed and we would have been kicked off). But the individual little 2-inch screen video players that John acquired from Jeff who picked them up in China earlier this year, and an additional 16 months of maturity made all the difference in the world. And it's hard to know which contributed more to the improvement.
For anyone not familiar, there are four different, huge disney parks in orlando, and also two waterslide parks (one of which is closed in winter and the other we didn't consider going to with such young kids).
We first stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge on the border of that park and had the "african savannah" outside our windows. The kids discovered that they could watch many of the animals right from the there at various times, but not when I finally decided to take a picture from our balcony of course.
We organized this trip with some friends from New Hampshire who have a 6 year-old son...old pals of John's whom we rarely get to see these days. Definite highlights at AK park were the Lion King and Nemo shows, and the safari ride.
Cutler and the girls, Erin in particular, got along very well. She found his dinner conversation especially charming that first night.
The twins ogling the genuine gingerbread carousel near the restaurant on our first night, and our group checking out the fireworks at Epcot after dinner:
The next day we headed to Epcot and the girls loved the Nemo ride and aquarium. On our second evening we had dinner in a restaurant inside the aquarium and the kids enjoyed watching the divers feed the fishes.
The tree in the AK lodge lobby:
And finally after three full days at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and MGM, we changed resorts the the Polynesian, right outside the Magic Kingdom and spent our final two days in there.
The Nile River Guide asked the twins to drive the Jungle Cruise boat for him:
Additionally, the girls were made "guest conductors" on the railroad and got to yell "all aboard!" over the loudspeaker while wearing the conductor's hat. In fact, even though it was a very crowded week there, so many of the employees went out of their way to talk to the girls and give them stickers or cards. Also, thanks to the Fastpass system, we didn't wait more than about 20 mins to get into any attraction.
Kate was her usual contrarian self much fo the time. "I don't WANT to get in the stroller!" "I don't want to get out of the stroller!" "I don't WANT to go on a ride!" "I don't want to get off the ride!"
Flashback: Erin at A Small World Disneyland at 18 months old and at A Small World at WDW:
All this fun is exhausting:
Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream:
On our last park day some friends who moved to Ft. Meyers a few months ago joined us in the Magic Kingdom. Their 4 year-old son Cameron and Erin are old pals:
We did three "character" meals over the course of the week...meals where characters come around to each table to say hello to all the children and pose for pictures with them. The girls LOVED these and the most anticipated meal was the lunch at Cinderella's Castle I arranged, where the girls got to meet each of the Disney princesses. A dream come true for Erin. Each child was given a wand and a wishing star and the fairy godmother led them in a "wishing ceremony".
The girls really had a fantastic time--there was so much for them to see and do and we did our best to take as much in as we could. We kept the kids up and in the parks too late on several occasions, but we just HAD to stay to see fireworks, or the electric light parade, or whatever else was going on. And they ate more than plenty of ice cream. But...it was a vacation and what's a vacation without dessert every night? Surprisingly, fresh fruit and veggies were available for all the meals we bought for them so they really didn't have a week of solid junk food, which I thought might be the case.
Five days in the parks was just enough but next time I'd like to stay even longer as this experience has changed me from fairly disney-neutral to a disney fan. John and I talked about when our next trip might be...at some point when everyone is tall enough to ride on everything is a minimum requirement. I think it will be several years before we're back but hopefully we'll squeeze in a Disneyland trip before then.