Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Theme parks, children, and hurricanes...oh, my!!

I have been super busy since our return from Disney. It has been a crazy few weeks. The kids don't seem to have any activities but I can't seem to find enough hours in the days to get everything done. 

We had a fantastic trip. Taking my 12 yr old niece was an excellent choice. My kids had so much fun with her and there was no fighting. We had 2 connecting rooms at All-Star Sports in building 6, first floor. We walked 20 yards to the pool and 30 yards to the main building. This resort was quiet in the evenings and had plenty to keep kids busy. We swam in both pools and liked both of them equally. For the better part of an hour we were the only people at the baseball pool, which the kids loved. We were really close to the football section and we felt comfortable letting the kids walk over there to play catch with a little Nerf football Xander won at the arcade on the huge football field. Xander even found a nice soccer match going on with some Europeans and Mexicans. He was in heaven to be able to play with adults and people not of our nationality. He learned a lot (and wore himself out) in the couple of hours he played with them. I highly recommend this resort to people with sports loving children. They can be themselves and not have to worry about being quiet all of the time. 

Here is a breakdown to our vacation:

Day 1 (Tuesday): This was a travel day and our plane didn't arrive in Florida until 7:00pm. We did use Magical Express, as we have before, and still love it. This time we did the luggage delivery and as promised, our luggage was delivered to our rooms within 3 hours. It was very nice not having to carry our luggage through the airport.

Day 2 (Wednesday): This was a swim/relax day. We swam for a few hours and then got cleaned up to go to dinner. We had breakfast and lunch at our resorts food court, which was adequate with choices. We especially loved the grilled chicken sandwich. Our dinner was at Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club Resort. The dinner here was good but I don't think we will ever eat here again. There were a lot of seafood choices but I don't like seafood so there just wasn't much for me. 

Day 3 (Thursday): This was Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure day. 

We are big Harry Potter nerds at our house and we hadn't been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet. We started our day by renting a car at the Disney Car Care Center. I didn't this in advance at The day before I called the car center and set up a pick up time to get my mother and Xander so they could pick up the car. I always send Xander because he is really good at directions and can always help her find her way back to the resort. Eve and I usually don't go because they won't transport 4 or 5 people, 2 is their max. Once at IOA, we went straight to the HP area. It was approx. 20 min after park opening and we only had a 20 min wait for the ride, which is awesome. So, we rode the ride, got our Butterbeer and then walked back around to Eve's favorite area, Cat in the Hat. They kids rode all of the rides in that area and we then moved clockwise around the lake, riding rides as we went. We ate lunch in the Jurassic Park area, and the food was pretty good. When we got back around to the HP area, Xander and Eve wanted to wait at Olevander's to get a wand. The line was approximately 1 hour long. They waited and I went back to a store in the area to do some Christmas shopping. During their waiting time, it started pouring down rain. Most of the people in line for a wand got out of line so that reduced their waiting time to about 15 min. :) Once inside, Xander was chosen by Olevander to do the demonstration, he was so surprised. He ended up buying the wand that "chose him." Eve picked out a wand and while we were shopping for other things in the store, Eve ran into a friend from her 4th grade class. This is such a surprise considering we live in Indiana. I took their picture together and told Eve that she is like an old man, seeing people that she knows when she is traveling. Once we were done with IOA, we set out to return to the resort. On the way, we stopped at one of the outlet malls and shopped at the Disney outlet store. I got Eve a Disney shirt for $4.99. After that we went to the resort and parked our car. It was time for dinner at ESPN club at the Boardwalk Inn. 

Just to set up this scenario   you must know that Eve does not like boats. She LOVES to swim but hates boats (IDK whats wrong with her either, shes silly). To get from resort to resort on Disney property you must take a bus to DTD or a theme park and then bus hop. We usually take a bus to HS and then take the cute little boats to Boardwalk or Beach/Yacht club. Eve wanted nothing to do with it again (we just did that the night before), so we decided to challenge the others in a good old Top Gear (UK version only) race. The plan was for Eve and I to take a bus to AK and then a bus to Boardwalk. The other 3 were to take a bus to HS and then the boat to Boardwalk. Eve and I got picked up first and laughed all the way to AK. Once at AK, I called the others to find out that the HS bus wouldn't take them because it was 6pm and HS was closed. I told them to get on the AK bus and change over like we were. About 15 minutes later they called to say that the AK bus wouldn't take them either because AK closed at 6, as well. So, I had to send them on the DTD bus to transfer to the Boardwalk bus. So, our little race didn't work :(

Eve and I decided to get off at the Swan and walk to the Boardwalk. This was a nice pleasant walk. I highly recommend it. The others arrived at the ESPN about 45 minutes after we did. We had a nice meal and will eat there every year. One thing to be aware of, make sure of any major league or college sporting events. There was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game and we had to wait 15 minutes to be seated. Not a problem for us, but it could be a problem for some people. 

Day 3 (Friday): Animal Kingdom in the a.m. and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in the p.m. We enjoyed Animal Kingdom but not the Rainforest Cafe. The food was OK but the service was not. None of us were impressed so we have another restaurant for the "NO" list.  MNSSHP is our favorite. It is so much fun. With being able to enter at 4, you can ride the rides that close at 7 for the party. That ride for us is the Jungle Cruise. After that we make our way over to Tomorrow Land and ride some rides there, moving counter clockwise around and then we ended up back at Tomorrow Land. We like Cosmic Rays and ate there again, another tradition for us. I did learn that I cannot do a park in the morning and then the party at night. We were going non-stop from 8am-12am. It was a very long day. In the past we just swam and resort hopped on the party day, I think we will go back to that next year. 

Day 4 (Saturday): This day was VERY cold because Hurricane Sandy was moving in. Blizzard Beach only had about 50 cars in the parking lot. We wanted to swim at our resort but it was too cold, so the kids and I went mini-golfing at Winter Summerland. This course was so much fun. 
I think this might be our Christmas card!!

I am glad we decided on this one. The kids really enjoyed it. Our dinner was at Chef Mickey. We will definitely do this again. The kids didn't like the characters but we all loved the food.

Day 5 (Sunday): Epcot day, my FAVORITE!! 

This was a good day, until the end. The girls did the KidCot stations and enjoyed it. Xander did the Perry the Platypus phone thing and liked it. We have done the KimPossible one before in Germany but now its Perry and we got Japan. It was a lot of fun. We had dinner at Coral Reef. Xander and Mammie said that they got the best steak they have ever had at Disney here. We loved the food, the staff, and the atmosphere. We think we have a new Epcot tradition, although we will miss Garden Grill. 

During the end of our Epcot time I got a call from US airlines saying that my flights were cancelled for Monday and I needed to call and reschedule. We were flying Orlando-Washington DC-Indy. Hurricane Sandy strikes and we lose :( I called and spoke with someone who couldn't get me home on Monday. She tried getting me to Lexington, Columbus Ohio, and Dayton Ohio. There was nothing. The best she could do was Tuesday Orlando-Charlotte-Indy and we had to split our group up. 

This meant another night of hotel stay. I went to the front desk at All Star Sports and told them my situation. The CM called someone on the phone and told them my situation. I explained that I was displaced due to the Hurricane. When she put the phone on hold she said that an extra night would be $82 plus tax and fees. I asked, since I was displaced, if we could put all 5 of us in one room (2 adults, 2-12 year olds, and 1-9 year old) especially since I had to leave at 3 am due to my flight. She said "No" that I couldn't put 5 people in there, even for the night. I thought about it and although it upset me, I asked how much it would be for the 2 rooms for 1 night. She did some math on her calculator and said $372. Are you freakin' kidding me? How did $164 (2 rooms at $82 each) get up to $372? I then told her that I didn't need the dining plan or anything else, just the room. She looked at me like I was crazy and said that it was just the rooms and taxes/fees. That's a lot of taxes and fees. I told her never mind. Disney crushed my magic at that point.

Now we were hotel displaced as well. My mom called around and found a Holiday Inn at the airport that would put 5 of us in 1 room for 1 night for $150.

The next day we had to take the Magical Express to the airport then transfer to the Holiday Inn bus. Once at the Holiday Inn we were stuck with 3 kids and nothing to do. It was too cold to swim and they didn't have a game room or anything. I think they drove us crazy. It was just too much to handle. 

We got home safely on Tuesday and I am thankful that we did. I am also thankful that I don't live in the areas affected and I hope people can get their lives back soon.

On an up note, don't you just love Mousekeeping? We had a great one that kept rearranging our candy, it was funny. She even decorated our window with Eve's sock monkey and sunglasses. One day we came back to find the picture of my parents (mammie and my dad, who passed away May 2011) decorated with a towel heart and a pretty lei. They are so thoughtful!!

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