Sunday, July 13, 2008

Walt Disney World - Day 2 - May 21 - Chef Mickey's, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios

We began our first full day at Disney World with breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort. The Contemporary Resort, which I don't think looks like much from the outside, is absolutely gorgeous on the inside! I hope to stay there someday if we ever win the lottery. (Although really I would love to stay in each and every one of the hotels eventually.)

The breakfast was such a great way to start our day! The food was of course fantastic. They has these really yummy Mickey-shaped Belgian waffles! We looked for mickey waffle makers all over the park, but sadly we never found one. Each of the characters stopped by our table for a photo op. Yeah, so maybe we were the only people there without kids, but we had a great time acting like big kids!

After breakfast we headed to Animal Kingdom. As we walked in, we wandered though the Oasis and saw the Tree of Life.

Next we went to the Africa section.We got fast passes for the Kilimanjaro Safari and went for a walk through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Here we saw many different animals, including the okapi, naked mole rats and gorillas. We learned that if you ever meet a gorilla in the wilderness, it would not be a good idea to pound your chest unless you would like to be permanently maimed.

Next we rode Kilimanjaro Safari, which was one of my favorite rides at Disney World! We saw giraffes, elephants and lions. It was really amazing how close we were to these wild animals!

After the safari, we trekked to Camp Minne Mickey to see the show the Festival of the Lion King. It was one of Dustin's favorite things we did all week! The show was great, and my favorite part were the acrobatic monkeys!

Next we went to explore the Asia part of the park. We got fast passes for Expedition Everest and went to see the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Here we saw a variety of animals including giant fruit bats and tigers.

Finally it was time to ride Expedition Everest! Wow! This ride is so amazingly fun! Definitely my favorite ride of the week! We liked it so much that we got in the single-rider line so we could ride it again right away! After that we went and rode Kali River Rapids. We all got soaked, of course, but Karen really got the worst of it! I wish I had gotten a picture of it!

Next we headed to Dinoland. It is set up to look like a carnival with dinosaur-themed rides. We rode the Primeval Whirl, which is like an old carnival ride, and Dinosaur which is a ride in which you are on a mission to travel back in time and bring back a dinosaur.

The last part of our time at Animal Kingdom was spent seeing Finding Nemo: The Musical. This musical is awesome! It is a combination of people and puppets that is colorful and beautiful to watch.

After we left Animal Kingdom, we took a bus to the gorgeous Boardwalk resort. The guys wanted to have dinner at the ESPN Game Zone. It was pretty neat, the guys loved all the TVs playing sports everywhere, even in the bathroom! The food was average and I thought overpriced, but I realize you are paying for the atmosphere.

We walked down the boardwalk and boarded a bus that would take us to Hollywood Studios. We planned to see Fantasmic, but we had a little time to do a few other things first. We rode Star Tours and then went to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. We all had a blast! Dustin was hilarious! We all just kept hearing a very high-pitched voice saying "Oh my Lord! Oh my Lord!" When we got off the ride and saw the picture they had taken at the top, Katie and I were looking at each other screaming. It was so funny and I can't believe we didn't buy it.

Finally we went to see Fantasmic. We were all super tired by this time and in general people were just getting on our nerves. But when the show started I think we all enjoyed it. To be honest, I thought it was a little strange, and not exactly what I expected. I thought it was mostly a fireworks show, but there were hardly any fireworks at all. I think the show would be scary for kids, there were a few times I jumped myself. But overall it was entertaining. When Fantasmic was over, we were all completely exhausted. We headed back to our hotel to get rested for what would be another busy day on Thursday!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Walt Disney World - Day 1 - May 20 - Part 2: The Rest of the Magic Kingdom

After visiting Tomorrowland, we headed over to Main Street to see the "Dreams Come True Parade." Here are some pictures I took during it.

After the parade we headed over to Fantasyland, where we rode It's a Small World and one of my favorite rides, The Mad Tea Party. Andrew spun our cup so fast I was dizzy for a while afterward!

Next, we left Fantasyland and headed to Liberty Square and rode the Haunted Mansion. While we were there, we also went to the Hall of Presidents. Andrew and Karen are both big history buffs, so they really enjoyed it, while Katie, Dustin and I smiled politely, anxious to go ride Splash Mountain!

After an educational history lesson, we headed to Frontierland. We went to Splash Mountain first. It was Katie's very favorite ride and she had been looking forward to it all day! We got absolutely soaked! Luckily, we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad next, which helped us dry off a little.

By this time it was getting dark and it was getting close to time for the SpectroMagic parade. But first we needed to ride one more ride, Andrew's favorite ride, Pirates of the Caribbean! So off we went to Adventureland. (I did say we went and went and went our first day, right? Seriously, we did A LOT on our first day.) We got to Pirates and there was no line at all! Andrew loved it and it was neat to see how they have incorporated Jack Sparrow into the ride.

We headed back over to Frontierland where we found a great spot to watch the SpectroMagic Parade. It was pretty neat, but I think one of the cheesiest things I saw our whole trip (which is saying a lot considering it's Disney World and they kind of survive on cheesiness), but all the lights on the floats do create a neat effect. By this time we were all exhausted (we got up at 4:00 AM!) so we skipped the Wishes fireworks show and headed for the bus, hoping to beat the crowd and get back to our hotel. We ended up being able to see some of the fireworks from the bus on the way to the hotel. Once we got back to Pop Century we grabbed some dinner (at nearly 11:00 PM, did I mention we hadn't taken the time for a real meal all day?) and slept the sweet slumber of those at Disney World. Tomorrow, breakfast with Mickey!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Walt Disney World - Day 1 - May 20 - Part 1: Arrival and Tomorrowland

Our first day at Disney World was Tuesday, May 20. We made the most out of our first day there, enjoying the light crowds and seeing almost all of Magic Kingdom! Andrew and I arrived in Orlando around noon, a few hours after Karen (my mother-in-law), Katie (my sister-in-law) and Dustin (Katie's husband). We were picked up from the airport by Disney's Magical Express.

The Magical Express took us right to our hotel, Disney's Pop Century Resort. Pop century, as you can tell from the name, is decorated with pop culture items from throughout the 20th century. There are sections for the 1950s through the 1990s. We stayed in the 1950s section. Here are some pictures from around the hotel. We stayed in the building in the picture with Tramp.

After quickly checking in at our hotel, we hopped on the bus and headed over to Magic Kingdom to meet up with Karen, Katie and Dustin. I was so excited to see the castle!

The first thing we did was head right for Tomorrowland. There was a short line for the Astro Orbiter so we hopped in line. Now usually, I do NOT like heights and I've never had any desire to ride this ride whatsoever, but there was no way I was missing out on the first ride of Disney World and since this is the one that got picked, I bucked up and rode it. It was a little high for me, but I survived, and there really is a good view of the park from up there.

Next up, one of my favorite rides: Space Mountain! We got a fast pass that allowed us to return in a short amount of time, so we were quickly on board! This was Dustin's first ever trip to Disney World and he LOVED Space Mountain! This was the first of several times we rode it during our trip. Next up was the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which is a slow moving tour around Tomorrowland. Not too exciting but a nice break. Also in Tomorrowland, we rode Stitch's Great Escape, which is a multi-sensory kind of show. We rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and Indy Speedway. Last was the Carousel of Progress, which put Katie to sleep and left the rest of us singing "It's a great big beautiful tomorrow" for the rest of the day. Tomorrowland: Check!

Exciting News!

Wow, I just read my previous post and I am so relieved that I have a new job! I will be working in the Registrar's Office at the University of Alabama! It was the first interview I had at the university (although I had a a couple of others after it). Looking back on it, it seems like all that worrying was for nothing! It worked out so perfectly, we are moving into our apartment on July 25 and I am starting my new job on July 28! I am really looking forward to starting this new chapter in my life! Wince graduating from college, I have felt like it was my calling to work somewhere in a university or college system. When I finish my master's degree in Library and Information Services, I want to work in a college or university library. I am just so thrilled that I have started on the road to fulfilling one of my life's goals!

Now then, I am going to take advantage of a little bit of extra time (and procrastinating) this week and FINALLY blog a day-by-day account of our trip to Disney World. Yes, this was over a month ago, but I really want to have an account of it so I can read back over it later and relive these happy memories! To anyone out there reading, enjoy!