Friday, July 23, 2010

Fun in Florida--final chapter

The last two days in Florida we spent at the Magic Kingdom. I think I enjoyed these theme park days more than the others, for two reasons: (1) our entire family was able to go on nearly all of the rides together (the only exception was Space Mountain), and (2) we had two days in one park, so we could stretch things out a bit. In fact, we didn't stay until late in the evening on either day.

Our kids get along well for the most part, but I have observed that theme parks (or even vacations in general) are the great leveler. They all have such a great time together.

Arriving in the park Friday morning

Chris and Kieran on the Dumbo ride (which we always go on first because of the massive lines later in the day)

Because of our clever touring plans (especially heading for Fantasyland first thing on Friday), we were able to go on tons of rides by 10:30 a.m. The best way to experience a theme park! We even had spare time to wait in a (short) line to see Wendy and Peter Pan:

And glimpse the mean stepsisters--wouldn't that be a fun role to play?

Getting ready to watch the 3-D Mickey's Philharmagic:

With Goofy the pirate at the Pirates of the Caribbean (or the "Pirates of the Caribee," as Nick calls it):

Last time we were at the Magic Kingdom in 2008, I coaxed Kieran into going on the Pirate of the Caribbean with us. The Disney cast member loading the ride assured him that it was not scary. He was terrified! Ever since then, I've sworn I would never pressure a child into riding a ride. However, our Nick was delighted by pirates. He is a brave soul!

Having fun in the gift shop--my cute pirates!

True to form, Kieran ended up on stage in the Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial show! (In 2008, it was Chris who was chosen as one of the select few.)

He was instructed to sword fight to the right and left, and then jab in the belly. Then he was to point and shout "Look, it's the governor's daughter!" and flee in the other direction (in true Jack Sparrow fashion).

Kieran took to his part like a true pirate:

And then shouted: "Look, it's the president's daughter!" which elicited a big laugh out of Jack.

Any kids in the audience could come up to get training certificates, and there's Chris:

Between the two days in the Magic Kingdom, we went on Splash Mountain (my personal favorite) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad four times each (all with Fastpasses, of course). Nick LOVED Big Thunder, and enjoyed Splash Mountain too, until he sat in the front one time and got just a bit too wet. I've never seen such a thrill-seeking 3-year-old!

Nick and Kieran in the Laughing Place gift shop:

We are rare Disney parents in that we do not buy souvenirs for our kids or pay extra for fancy face painting, etc. We gave each one $10 to buy souvenirs, which doesn't get you very far in a Disney gift shop! Nearly every ride exits into a gift shop, but fortunately the kids were content to window shop for the most part.
On Saturday morning we started out in Tomorrowland, where Mike, Chris, Kieran, and I went on Space Mountain and got fastpasses for the Buzz Lightyear ride. Kieran was not the least bit scared to go on Space Mountain, and he loved it! Chris didn't venture on Space Mountain until he was 11. I guess it goes to show the influence that older brothers have on younger ones.
Look at the way the kids have grown in the past 2 years (especially my 11-inch-long, 1 lb, 6 oz. baby Chris, who now towers over me):

On "It's a Small World"--completely hokey, I know--but good for a cool space on a hot afternoon.

I have to take a moment to compliment our teenager Chris. He delighted in the small things and constantly interacted with his younger brothers, telling them about upcoming rides or asking them what they had liked best. Some teens would have complained bitterly about the kiddie rides and "It's a Small World." Not our Chris though.
In fact, Chris INSISTED we go on the completely ancient "Carousel of Progress," which debuted at the World's Fair in 1964 (I can say "ancient" because it's as old as I am!!). It's a theater that revolves around stages that feature audio-animatronic people talking about the progress in their lives resulting from electricity and technology. Walt Disney apparently decreed that this ride should go on forever and it was his favorite ride. Scholar of Disneyana that he is, Chris had his heart set on this ride. Unfortunately, the moving theater got stuck at one point, so we had to see one scene again. Kieran and Nick watched patiently, and I found it interesting as a historical feature. I doubt I will ever do it again, though! Mike missed it as he was running to the other side of the park to get fastpasses. I'm sure he's terribly disappointed.

With Emperor Zurg after the Buzz Lightyear Spin (and did we ever spin, with Nick in charge of the spinning!!):

A show in front of the castle--with a few fireworks:

Another day of Splash Mountain--this was the time Nick wanted to ride in the front with us, but ended up ducking down low!
Toward the end of our time in Florida, the heat was scorching. We closed the day in Toontown, which we later learned will be closing in 2011 so Fantasyland can be expanded. We all went on Goofy's Barnstormer (rollercoaster)--first time for all of us except for Chris--and sought out the water features nearby to cool ourselves off! Here stand Mike, Chris, and Kieran, waiting to be squirted from the boat overhead:

We insisted on leaving the Magic Kingdom in late afternoon on Saturday, because we had to make a really early start the next morning to return home. The kids were disappointed they didn't get to the Haunted Mansion, but the lines were an hour long right in the hot sun, so we nixed that idea. They did get to venture onto Tom Sawyer Island, though, something else we'd never done before. I think they would have enjoyed more hours to explore it (great caves!), but Mike and I were very hot...and Nick was napping.
Headed home to beautiful Oregon--Kieran snapped this photo of one of our wonderful mountains:
Those theme parks are exhausting!

Part of me feels guilty that our kids have been to Disney parks so often. If Mike didn't have relatives in Orlando, we would most likely have never gone (or perhaps only once). During this trip, the theme park tickets were our biggest expense. We used frequent flyer miles for tickets, and our condo was insanely reasonable (about $645 for 8 nights). However, I would rather have done Europe, Mexico, or even Hawaii...but the kids enjoyed themselves and it was great to catch up with Mike's relatives.

Since we returned, Nick has been performing pirate shows constantly, featuring himself as Jack Sparrow. He's memorized the words of his favorite book, Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, but substitutes his friend Asher's name for Flynn and Jack Sparrow for the pirate captain.

Kieran and I have started reading Tom Sawyer, which I will leave to another blog post all its own.

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