So, a week ago yesterday we got home from our best family vacation yet. It was our annual End of Summer trip to Walt Disney World. (In case you weren't already aware, the entire Smith family *big, red, puffy hearts* Walt Disney World.) We really had a ridiculously spectacular time.
We had a totally awesome room with a view in Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort....
We were chosen, out of the blue, to be the First Family of the Day one morning at Epcot:
Then, two days later, we got up slightly before the crack of dawn, put on our homemade, matching, bright yellow Disney shirts and headed out to the Magic Kingdom in the hopes of being chosen as First Family of the Day, but knowing that lightning doesn't often strike twice. We were the first people onto the first monorail of the day and then the first people in line at the turnstiles. We chatted with a lovely Cast Member (as all Disney employees are called) who worked at the turnstiles. We were chosen. It. Was. Amazing!!!
First, Kiddo was given her very own envelope of pixie dust. Then, we were taken on a tour through the Magic Kingdom in the antique fire truck, before the park opened. The Cast Member giving us the tour even let Kiddo get behind the wheel...
It was a good thing the park was empty at that point!
We were hanging out in front of Mickey's house in Toontown when all of a sudden, a whole gang of characters (and I mean characters) showed up:
After shmoozing with the gang for a bit, we all boarded the train together...
The train pulled out of Toontown and made its way to the front of the park. Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit were seated in the row directly behind us, and Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen (who, btw, *hubba hubba hubba* - total hottie!) and Chip & Dale were also in our car. Kiddo chatted with all of them, cracking up Alice, Tiana and Naveen several times, but she was mostly enthralled by her new BFF:
Before we knew it, we were approaching the train station at Main St. USA and rolling right into the middle of the morning opening show - a show we've seen countless times before (we're diehard Rope Droppers) and a show to which we know every note and word of the medley. It was surreal pulling in to the station and being part of the show instead of just a spectator singing along from down in the crowd. (Not that I did, you know, sing along or anything. Okay, fine, I did. I sang a few bars as we stepped onto the platform. But I didn't project or anything, nor did I engage in any dance moves.)
We were introduced to the crowd and got ready to officially open the park for the day by counting down with Mickey:
After we opened the park, we had a little more quality time with the big Cheese and one last photo op -
and then we had to say goodbye to Mickey because he had places to be and people to see. It was a somewhat bittersweet parting.
Being First Family of the Day at the Magic Kingdom was really a dream come true. It was so incredibly cool and fun and we wish we had a video recording of every single second of it. We did luck out in that a woman who belongs to a Disney-related message board that Hubby frequents happened to be in the crowd at Rope Drop that day and she sent us the video of the show portion, which was so awesome of her - a total stranger! - to do for us and we were so psyched to get.
Besides the Nothing Will Ever Top This Unless We Get to Have a Dinner with George Clooney and Hugh Jackman Instead of all the Princesses aspects of the trip, there was all the usual fun.
The traditional spin on the Flying Dumbos...
Kiddo and I also did our traditional self portrait while riding the boat across the lagoon to the World Showcase at Epcot -
We met lots of various characters, royal or otherwise:
We ate lots of fantabulous food -
Teppan Edo, one of our all-time favorite WDW restaurants
Hubby pretending he's eating all the table's bread pudding at 'Ohana
dessert at the 50s Prime Time Cafe
Hmmm, I seem to have mostly photographed desserts. We ate lots of great other food, too, including steak and shrimp and lots of fruits and veggies.
Of course, there were also the rides.............
This ride is the Astro Orbiter. Yes, it really is that high up. I refuse to ride this one anymore, and so was photographing with both feet safely on the (two stories up) platform.
Kiddo decided she was "big enough" and "brave enough" to ride some rides that in previous trips, she hasn't liked at all, namely Expedition Everest, the Tower of Terror and Dinosaur. Now, I was quite skeptical about this, since she had most recently tried EE and ToT just last summer, but Hubby thought it was great that she wanted to try them again and so, she did. And she hated each one. Again. (And yes, I might have unleashed an "I told you so!" or three, too. Le sigh.) One of her favorite rides at WDW, however, is Splash Mountain. (It's actually a family favorite!) Kiddo was clamoring to go on it the very afternoon we first arrived in Orlando, so we did. Hubby brought along our new waterproof video camera and aimed it back over his shoulder at Kiddo and me when we reached the summit and took the first plunge on Splash Mountain for this trip. Following, you will find a chronological series of stills taken from a maybe 5-6 second long segment of that video footage, starring Kiddo (and portions of my left boob):
Isn't that something, how Kiddo goes from giddy with joy to sheer terror back to giddy with joy again in a few second span? In the last two frames, she is actually complaining that she didn't get wet enough and was still so dry that she wanted to go again. So we did. Several more times over our trip, as it turns out, and we recorded a few other splashdowns in this same manner. Kiddo has the same gamut of emotions each time. (Taken out of context, of course, there are a few stills there that might be alarming, but when you look at them in context or see the video footage - which Hubby has yet to edit and convert or whatever it is he needs to do to render it playable on the interwebz - it isn't so much alarming as it is just hilarious. Even Kiddo cracks up watching it.)
As you can see from all the pictures above, for this pixie-dust sprinkled trip, there was sunshine the entire time. The pool was delightful, all the folks we were seated with at the different restaurants were good company, the crowds were light to nonexistent. There was nary a bad thing to be said for this particular vacation (besides the occasional blister from all that walking in sneakers while sweating profusely in the late summer, Central Florida heat). Well, okay, there was one bad thing, and I promised my friend Andy I'd blog about it, so here goes, for those of you who are still reading all the way to this point.
Kiddo was eaten by a shark.
No, really, she was - look:
Okay, okay, fine, she wasn't. I mean, she was, but it was just Bruce and he knows better, so he spit her back out pronto. She's a bony little toothpick, anyhow, hardly an appetizer for a big shark like him.
There was something else that happened, but it deserves its own post - or rather, my fantabulous and lengthy vacation recap post deserves to stand on its own and not have the Vacation Tale of Feminine Woe spadged on to the end of it. (In other words, yes, Andy, I'm chickening out. For now - I cut and pasted the VToFW into a draft and will do a separate post soon. I promise.)
So, for now, I will leave you with fireworks over the castle and an end to the recap of our best vacation, ever!