And see those hats my girls are wearing? We got those when we were in Disneyland (we got Kendall's when she was only 18 months old), so we were happy to get more use out of them. Kendall never took hers off the entire time we were there! Of course, we had to get Tucker one during this trip.
Our first day, we went to Epcot. Here's both of the families...
Before our trip, Michelle and I both did tons of research on the best way to do Disney with small kids (we had 5 under the age of 5!). One of the things I read about were these Character Spots, where you can wait in a (long) line to get pictures with characters and their autographs. Each Character Spot is different with who they have - some are princesses, some are fairies, some are the classic characters. The advantage to doing these Character Spots is that whenever you see one of these characters walking throughout the park, or set up at a temporary spot in the parks, you don't have to stop and see them, because you already did! Even though you stand in a long line - 1) it's air conditioned, and 2) it saves time in the long run, because you're not waiting in other lines for one or two characters whenever you see them out and about. So our first stop in Epcot was a Character Spot with all the classic characters - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy. I saw on Pinterest an alternative idea to the autograph book - have the characters sign a photo mat, and then after the trip, you can put it in a frame along with a picture of the child. So that's what you see in a lot of these pictures.
After that we went on the Finding Nemo ride, which was a little scary for some of the kids. When the ride was over, it was pouring in typical summer-in-Florida fashion, so we just kind of hung out in that building for a while to wait out the rain, and let the kids settle down. They have a really nice aquarium there, so we checked that out for a while. When the rain let up, some of us went on Soarin' while the others rode a smaller boat ride (I don't remember what it was called).
We had late lunch reservations at the Coral Reef restaurant. I'll take a side step here for a second and just plug the Disney Dining Plan. We loved it! If you're going to Disney World for several days, it's well worth it. We got the second plan (the "Magic Your Way plus Dining"), and had plenty of food for everyone! In fact, at the end of the trip, we had to scramble to finish all of our snacks. With the dining plan, you're able to eat at several nice restaurants - that's something we wouldn't normally do! The Coral Reef restaurant is one that I had always wanted to eat at when I had been to DW previously. One wall of the restaurant is part of the aquarium. So when they had a reservation available, I took it! we didn't sit that close to the aquarium wall, but it was still cool to be there.
Since we had such a late lunch, we decided to not go back to the hotel for naps/rest time. This was the only day we didn't. So after we ate, we headed out to the part of Epcot where you go to different countries. We actually ran into a co-worker of Grant's right around Japan, I believe! Here's some pictures from that part of the park...
So that was Epcot! The next day we went to Magic Kingdom. You'll notice in some of the pictures they had the Fall decorations up, and it was really beautiful!
We had a pretty easy morning, but our big thing we were coordinating everything around was our early lunch reservation at the Crystal Palace. This was our first character meal (Winnie the Pooh characters), and we were all pretty excited. So before lunch, we went to ride the Buzz Lightyear ride, and we met Buzz afterwards...
The boys were totally starstruck when they met Buzz! They just wanted to push all of his buttons! It was really cute.
After that, we went to a Princess Character Spot. Grant was really smart and saw that they had Fast Passes for it, so even though there was a 45 minute wait, by the time we were done with Buzz, our Fast Pass window came up, and we just walked to the front of the line! It was awesome. The girls loved meeting the Princesses (and the boys did, too). I loved the way the Princesses took time to really talk to all the kids, and ask them questions. It was really special. And the picture of Cami looking at Rapunzel is my all-time favorite picture. Ever. And in the one picture with Belle, she's pointing to Cami's shoe, because Cami was wearing light up Princess shoes. Belle was showing her that she was on her shoe. So in the next picture, you can see Cami still looking at the shoe. I think her mind was blown.
After we met the Princesses, we headed over to the Crystal Palace for our character lunch. Before the server came, we had a fun time of making funny faces. Again, Cami gives me one of my most favorite pictures ever! She is so full of personality!
The characters finally came!
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a little rest. On our way to the shuttle buses, I saw someone else we knew! My friend Janet, who lives in Pensacola! It is a small world after all! Mike and Michelle thought we knew everyone in the state of Florida, since we ran into two people we knew, but I promise, that was the last of it (although I did know of a few other people who were there at the same time. We just didn't run into them).
Speaking of small world, we rode It's a Small World After All when we got back to the park after naps. That's always...interesting!
After that, Michelle and I got caught in the gallows, we rode on Aladdin's Magic Carpet, and we got stuck on the Carousel of Progress. Literally. The ride got stuck for 5-10 minutes, and we heard the song over and over and over again! After that, it was time to go!
The next day, we had a character breakfast at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios. This time it was the Disney Jr. characters. We're not huge watchers of Disney Jr., so it wasn't as exciting as the other characters we saw. But the food was really good!
Let's see, after that, we did Star Tours, Muppets 3D, saw Mater and Lightening McQueen from Cars, and did a Character Spot with Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and rode the Toy Story ride. There's a story behind the picture of Tucker with Buzz. Tucker was so over the line to meet Woody and Buzz. He screamed and cried most of the time. But when he saw Buzz, everything changed! It was kind of amazing!
Michelle and I rode the Tower of Terror, but there's not a ton to do at Hollywood Studios when you have small kids. So it was pretty easy getting back for a nap that day. After resting for a bit, we headed back over to Magic Kingdom, because we wanted to see the Electrical Parade, which happens after dark.
On our way back to the shuttle buses after the parade, it started pouring down rain! With the park closing, and the rain coming, everyone was making a mad dash for the exits! It was exciting, and a little dangerous, with all the running parents behind strollers running over non-stroller people.
The next morning was our last full day at DW. We spent it at Animal Kingdom. We started out with the Bug's Life 3D show. I think all the kids got scared during this one. For what it's worth, they do have black widows coming down from the ceiling. And bugs that spray you in the face. So for small kids, it's pretty much a nightmare!
After that, we needed something laid back and fun, so we went for a safari!
After the Safari, I needed to feed Tucker. One really good thing about DW is that they have care stations in all the parks. That means an air-conditioned place to feed and change babies! The day that we were at Animal Kingdom was particularly hot. I think it's because there's a lack of things to do indoors, so we were just outside in the heat a lot. So it was nice to go take a break and cool off. Everyone else walked around the nature trail and saw more animals.
Here are some more pictures from Animal Kingdom...
Once we were done with Animal Kingdom, we went back for naps (I can't tell you how needed that rest time was each day!), and then we went back to Epcot. We had dinner reservations at Biergarten in Germany, to celebrate Michelle's German heritage. It was so good! And yes, we had beer!
The next day was our last day together. The G Family headed back to California, and we headed back to Crestview. Before we left, though, we had one more meal reservation at the Grand Floridian Cafe. I've seen the Grand Floridian in pictures and on TV, but had never been there in person. It was so worth it! It's such a beautiful hotel! And the breakfast was delicious! I'm telling you, the dining plan is the way to go! The kids loved playing in the beautiful lobby. They were playing Peter Pan, can you tell?
Then it was time to say goodbye. Goodbyes are never easy, especially with great friends!
We had an amazing time! I kind of still can't believe we actually did this with so many small kids, but it was so much fun, and many memories were made.
By the way, if you're still reading this, you deserve a prize. I'm not going to give you one, but you deserve one.