Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Anniversary #2 (w/ a 5 year old!)

After 2 years of experiencing Disney as a couple, we were thrilled that our 5 year old nephew would be able to come along for Anniversary #2. It was quite the treat to see Disney through the eyes of a child. There were 6 of us on this trip: DH and I, my mom, the nephew and his parents.  We stayed at the All Star Sports Resort, which has a fun, football-themed food court and giant hockey goalie nets.

Once again, we spent arrival day in Downtown Disney. After an early morning of travelling, wandering around DTD is a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon getting into the "Disney vibe". We had dinner at the T-Rex restaurant. It was a little loud but that's what made the atmosphere so much fun. I mean, if your dinner conversation is going to be interrupted, a meteor shower is a pretty good reason. Obviously, we were able to come out alive and escape extinction, unlike some of the dinosaurs.

Of course, we couldn't officially indoctrinate the kid without a pair of Mickey ears.

Animal Kingdom
The 1st full day at the parks, I usually like to go to Animal Kingdom right away. I love doing the safari right away when the animals start to come out. The lion was a little too fast to capture, but  the rhinos were extremely playful that day. They chased each other back and forth and we even had to stop to truck to let them cross our path. I'm pretty sure they were oblivious to us.

I was so excited for my nephew to experience the Festival of the Lion King show. The monkeys and the fire-twirler are always my favorite!

Normally we don't spend a lot of time meeting characters, but we happened across a Jungle Mickey Meet & Greet and stopped by to say hi to the big cheese.

Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania was, of course, a big to-do. I just adore this series and how well thought-out all the toys are, the queue really makes me feel like I've shrunk and joined the world of toys. And the nephew, being an all-American boy, was enamored with Buzz and Woody.
I don't think he could stretch his arms out any further to give Buzz a hug.

One of the best things about this trip was that they offered Free Dining. They've scaled back what they offer for free dining now, but this particular year we got 1 Counter Service, 1 Table Service (app, entrée and dessert) and 2 snacks per day. Now they've eliminated the appetizer and 1 snack, but they've thrown in the much-debated mug (FYI - expect a blogpost on this at some point in time).

We tried lots of amazing restaurants this trip. It was the first time we tried the Hollywood Brown Derby. We booked it on my mom's birthday because she is a big 'I Love Lucy' fan and thought it would be fun. The meal was amazing and they brought us out champagne on the house for mom's birthday and our anniversary. And here is a testament to never going hungry in Disney, in addition to the desserts, they brought out extra dessert to celebrate! The Grapefruit cake has been a staple every trip since.

Other Memorable Moments
  • We experienced Turtle Talk with Crush in Epcot. I was over the moon when Crush called out the nephew to talk to him. I think this is one of the most innovative attractions to date in the World. An interactive cartoon character who can hold a conversation with anyone in front of him. "I want to talk to the dude with the brown fur on his head and the red shell."
  • Tomorrowland Speedway in MK is a race car track that kids can steer. The 5 year old was thrilled to drive. The extra magic came upon exiting the car. The CM presented him with his very own "driver's license". He beamed about it for weeks after the vacation.
  • Other great restaurants included The Wave and Chefs de France. We were not impressed with Nine Dragons.
  • I had not experienced the Country Bear Jamboree since I was a little kid and didn't remember anything. We thought it would be kid friendly, so we tried it. Honestly, when it ended, we 5 adults looked at each other and said "What the heck was that?!?". It has been a running joke ever since where we tease each other about liking Liverlips. Or singing "All the bears who turn me on, turn me down". For the record, if my children ever misbehave, I fully intend to punish them by making them watch this all day long.

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