Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Our Disney Adventure...

After months of planning and anticipation, we finally set off on our journey to Orlando and Disney World! Traveling with us were our close friends, Lee and Dawn Brown, their kids (Mylee, Landen, and Leah), and Lee's dad and step-mom. My parents were meeting us down in Orlando since they were flying in from Michigan. We were set for a great vacation! The kids had their dvd players, ear phones, and Game Boy, so entertainment was not going to be an issue (hopefully!). They did, however, begin the "Are we there yet?" almost as soon as we left the driveway, but that was to be expected.
The picture at the top is probably my favorite picture of the whole trip. Playing around with my new camera, I thoroughly enjoyed trying new settings and experimenting with different backdrops. Most of the water pictures were taken from really far away, but my telephoto lens made it possible to get right up close! My hubby is the BEST for making sure I had this camera before our trip!

On our way down to Orlando, we were able to make plans to stop in and see my dear friend JoAna, her hubby, and her daughter. Jo and I hadn't seen one another for 5 years, so this was an exciting time for the two of us! Unfortunately, I was only able to take a few pictures before my camera died, so you'll have to visit HER blog to see the rest! :) It was so nice getting to spend some time with them, and we vowed that it will not be ANOTHER 5 years before we get together again! Love you, JO!

Upon our arrival to the resort, we were pleasantly surprised by the many amenities AND our fabulous location! For one, we were on the first floor! Our back door opened to this excellent view and as you can see from the pictures, we were just a hop-skip-and-jump from the paddle and bumper boats as well as the waterpark (in the far right of the first pic)! We couldn't have asked for better! Also, the Browns were just a door away, so our kids were able to wear a path running back and forth between the two rooms! Everything was set for the perfect Disney vacation!

Having traveled for two days, we decided that it would be best to spend Monday at the resort swimming and resting up for the week. The resort had a wonderful little waterpark that was perfect for the kids! The waterslides were just big enough to give them a thrill and to keep them entertained so that the adults could relax a little. (although we adults did have to play NUMEROUS games of hide-and-seek in the pool once the novelty of the slides wore off! :)

Looking for entertainment for the evening, we headed for Downtown Disney. The kids thought they were "something" when they got to get on a Harley at the Harley Davidson shop on Pleasure Island (don't worry, we didn't have the kids "clubbing" at Pleasure Island after dark!). You can see that Cade was trying to look as "cool" as possible and making Xander do all of the work as usual!
After walking around for awhile, we stopped by the fountain to sit and enjoy the wonderful breeze and to take some pictures. As usual, you can see the boys found SOME way to get into some mischief! I'll give you one guess as to who was the first to fall in and get wet...BINGO...for those of you who know my children at all, you will know that Xander is the klutziest (although Cade is a CLOSE second) of the two! I know, I know...they come by it naturally. I'm just hoping that SOME of Shane's coordination got in their genes somewhere!

Beginning our Disney park tour, we headed for Animal Kingdom. This was our first visit to this particular park, and I must say that it is well worth the hefty price of admission! Starting off with a little parental "chat", Lee sat the kids down and made sure they understood what behavior was expected of them and what to do should they get separated from the group. I'm not quite sure they were listening, but they pretended to at least.
It was a pretty hot day, but there were enough attractions that cooled us off to keep it tolerable. We set Hayes' stroller up with a battery operated fan, so he was able to keep cooler than the rest of us. In spite of the heat, Hayes did remarkably well; and by 5 o'clock, we were all able to find relief with a typical daily rain shower. If anyone is planning on visiting Animal Kingdom, I would not leave the park without hitting the kids' favorite (well...they were petrified, but somehow that made it the favorite!) --The Dinosaur Ride, and the adults' favorite--the Safari Ride. On the Safari Ride, we were literally within arms reach of rhinos, elephants, and other wild animals! The lions and cheetahs were farther off, but there really wasn't anything keeping them from coming closer...a little disturbing, I know!!! Excellent attraction though, so make sure you get to see it someday!

Taking a day off from the parks, we stayed around the resort and enjoyed the many amenities it offered. Hayes had his first "swim", Cade mastered the waterslide at the pool, and Xander took the term "bubble bath" to a whole new level! (I think maybe we put a little too much soap in the water! :)

Also, my parents took the boys on the paddle boats and searching for minnows! It was a relaxing day all around! (except for my dad who ended up doing all of the paddling! :)

On Thursday, we went to Magic Kingdom for FULL day of fun! Because of the miserably hot day we had at Animal Kingdom, we decided to take Shane's Aunt Michel's offer to watch Hayes at our resort. She and her daughter Caitlyn showed up bright and early and came ready to spoil Hayes rotten! :) The day was hot and humid but cooled off after a shower in the late afternoon. Even though we kept moving the whole day, we didn't even touch but a third of the park! The kids LOVED the different attractions but were sufficiently scared in a few. The Lilo & Stitch ride just about put them over the edge; and had there not been harnesses, they would have BOTH been climbing the walls! The kids favorite attraction would have to be the Buzz Lightyear ride where we could shoot each other (okay, so we were supposed to be shooting the bad guys!) with laser guns; and the adults were partial to the Monsters Inc. Laugh-In (absolutely spontaneous and hilarious!).

In the evening, we made sure we got great seats for the lights parade and then for the fireworks. It was a spectacular display and a perfect ending to the day! As you can see, Cade was passed out before we even left the park! Oh, to be a kid again!

Needing a break from the hot theme parks, we decided to hit Typhoon Lagoon on Friday. The kids AND adults had an absolute blast and didn't want to leave even after an exhausting day in the water! Xander mastered the tallest water slide (we called it the "wedgie" because...well...I'm sure you can figure it out! :), and Cade didn't want to leave the wave pool! My mom and I split the day so that she stayed in the room with Hayes in the morning, then I came back to stay with him in the afternoon. The heat was just too much for a little guy like him to be out in it all day! All in all, it was a super-fun day; and I think it's safe to say that we will be returning to Typhoon Lagoon on our next Disney trip!

Finally! Friday night was time for the parents to go out for dinner while the kids stayed back at the resort with the grandparents. However, the grandparents didn't have TOO hard of a job since the kids were pretty worn out from their day at the waterpark. We originally wanted to try a restaurant that was original to the area; however, after driving past a few empty parking lots (a sure sign that the food isn't good), we ended up at Carraba's and had an excellent meal. After talking for 4 hours, we ended up closing the place down!! I guess we needed a break more than we thought! :)
On our last night of vacation, we spent some time in Downtown Disney. After dinner in the Rainforest Cafe, the kids had a lesson in dancing along with a big crowd of kids (and some adults too!). They really got into it...even if they DIDN'T quite get it right! :) It was a really fun night, and we got a good laugh watching the kids "boogie"!

Heading home was bitter-sweet. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, but we were pretty exhausted from it all! You know you've had a great vacation when you have to go HOME to rest! On the way home, we stopped off in Jacksonville to visit Shane's brother IV and his kids, Bailey and Lyric. We ate at the most interesting restaurant on the water with stuffed wild animals in every nook and cranny! Cade freaked when we walked into the place, and he was eyeball to eyeball with a tiger! In addition to the "unique" decor, we had plenty of exotic items from which to choose on the menu. Kangaroo, snake, turtle, and gator tail are just a FEW of the dishes!!! Hmmm...I think I'll stick to chicken; and I DID!!!! Even Shane with his iron-clad stomach did not venture out of his comfort zone; and the boys were happy with their mac-and-cheese!
Well, if you've made it to the end of this post, then you are either a true friend OR you have absolutely nothing else to do with your time! I'll take either one! :) Anyway, we had a terrific time and can't wait to go again! If you have kids (or if you ARE a kid yourself! :), Orlando is a place that you can seriously go every year and do something different! I took so many pictures and video that I had to put them on 3 CD's! Aren't you glad I didn't put them all on here?!? :)


Just Jumpin said...

Now I remember why you are an English teacher....great entry. I love the pictures. What kind of camera do you have .... LOVE IT!

Theresa said...

Thanks! :) As for the camera, it's an 8.1 Sony Cybershot with a 10x Optical Zoom. I've been lusting after the Sony Cybershot for several years now (since my sister-n-law got one), and then I saw this one with the zoom! It was love at first sight! :)

Papa said...

Nice job, though you needed more pictures of the grandparents!

Sara said...

Super cool!!! Camera did a great job!! Next time, we're in!!

Steve Francis said...

Hey I had to sign up for an account again, so now I can post.

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