Monday, August 19, 2013

Russian Adoption Reunion at Disney World--Part 2

Before I get into our first full day at Disney, I should explain something. I know that some of you think that we go to Disney World every year, but it's not intentional. Really.

We took our oldest son when he was 4 1/2 years old, about a year after we adopted him. We had no other kids at the time, and we thought it was the perfect age for the parks. Old enough to enjoy some of the rides, yet young enough to appreciate the magic of the characters. We went in September, the crowds were low, and it was a great trip.

About a year and a half later, my entire family was having a reunion of sorts at Disney World. At this point, we had adopted our second son and he was 2 1/2. It didn't take much arm-twisting to convince us to go to Disney again to meet up with my family. But the trip wasn't our idea. We wanted to try out a Disney Cruise next time for something different. We decided we would go to Disney World again during the off-season when our oldest son was in his last year of elementary school  in 2015-2016 (to make it easier to pull him out of school).

Fast forward 2 years later, we have a third child and we are booked on a Disney Cruise in early June. We didn't plan on going to any Disney parks, but then we found out that Star Wars Weekend was happening at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the two days prior to our cruise. So how could we skip that when we have boys who love Star Wars? So yes, we decided to go to Disney for just 2 days prior to that first cruise.

Then one year later, there is this Russian Adoption Reunion at Disney World. Again, totally not our idea, but we wanted to attend the reunion. And guess what? Yes, next year, we will be at Disney World again for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary/75th birthday bash. We can't miss that! So although we hadn't planned on all of these Disney trips, we have fun on each and every one, and we always find something new to do each time.

So here we are, back at Disney World! If you are counting, this was our oldest son's 4th trip to Disney World. Originally, I thought we might skip the parks altogether during this trip....but since we were staying at a resort where we could actually SEE the Magic Kingdom, we decided to spend just one day there.

So it's Friday, July 19, 2013. We woke up just before 7:00 a.m. and headed down to the boat dock at our resort. We caught a boat right away to the Contemporary Resort, where we then hopped on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

Here are the boys outside of the Contemporary Resort:

We had an 8:10 a.m. breakfast reservation at The Crystal Palace restaurant. The Magic Kingdom doesn't open until 9:00 a.m., and the park lets people with early breakfast reservations in around 7:45 a.m. And it's the very best time, in my opinion, to be on Main Street U.S.A. We got some great pictures with no crowds. (Luckily, one of the shops was open early and I purchased a disposable camera).

By the way, we got the matching Mickey tie dye shirts on etsy.

Have you ever been on Main Street U.S.A. when it's this empty? We love it!

A photopass picture from Disney
After a few pictures, we made our way over to The Crystal Palace restaurant. We were seated after a few minutes, and the Pooh family characters were already making the rounds. The breakfast buffet is quite tasty, too.

We met Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger very quickly, within the first 20 minutes. Pooh, for whatever reason, was much slower to come around. We were done with breakfast, the park was just starting to open to the public, and I was tempted to leave without a picture with Pooh. But Pooh is my younger son's favorite character, so we stuck around. The entire breakfast took about an hour.

After breakfast, we went to Fantasyland. We grabbed a fast pass for the Peter Pan ride, then headed over to ride the Pooh ride. We also rode the carousel, the teacups, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid Ride, Goofy's Barnstormer, It's a small world, and saw Mickey's Philharmonic. We had no wait on all of those rides. Then we headed over to Tomorrowland to ride on Buzz Lightyear and go to the Monster's Inc. Laugh Factory (where we got some serious screen time because of our shirts). Still no lines, it was much better than I thought!

Buzz Lightyear ride
By this time, it was about noon, and we had scheduled to meet up with another adoptive family for lunch at The Plaza Restaurant. It was nice to meet another family that we had known for so long over the internet.

Mickey Mouse sandwich

All of us in front of the castle
Just to keep it real...while Disney is known as the "happiest place on earth", that doesn't mean that kids act happy the entire day. Tiredness and over-stimulation cause many tantrums and meltdowns. Trust me. And my boys are no exception. While they can agree on photos with characters and swimming, there was not much else they agreed on during this trip. So most of our morning at the Magic Kingdom included me standing in between the boys to break up their arguments and fighting. Fun times.

After lunch, we took the boat back to our hotel room for a break. I was praying that the boys (at least Joshua) would nap for just a short while. Please, please! Nope, didn't happen, but we did relax in the room for a while. Then we went swimming in the resort pool. The cast members were throwing the daily pool party with music and games. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the quick-service restaurant, and then around 6:00 p.m. we headed back into the Magic Kingdom.

Of course as soon as we arrived inside the gates, it started to rain. First a little, then a lot. We put on our disposable rain ponchos and carried on. We headed over towards Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain and grabbed a fast pass for later. We rode The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. We tried to use our fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain, but the ride was closed due to lightning. Major bummer!

We saw the Country Bear Jamboree for the first time--mostly as an escape from the rain.Wow, that's an old attraction, and I'm a little surprised that Disney hasn't changed the lyrics to some of those songs, if you know what I mean!

Most of the outdoor rides were closed due to the storm, so we headed back to Tomorrowland to check out the line for Space Mountain. It was 75 minutes and no fast passes were available, so we thought we'd try it again later. We rode Buzz Lightyear a few more times and also the People Mover. Tomorrowland had a big dance party with a DJ and, despite the rain, many folks were out there dancing. Nathan wanted to dance, and we were having a great time dancing in the rain. Except Joshua wasn't dancing, he was sitting on a bench, miserable. So we only stayed for a few songs. I had to compromise to try to keep both boys happy.

At this point, the line for Space Mountain was "only" 60 minutes. I asked Nathan if he wanted to wait for it, he said he did. Joshua was too scared to ride it, but my plan was to have us all wait in the line together, then Joshua and I would exit through the chicken door and wait for Nathan to ride. Inside, there are some interactive video games on the wall, which makes the line more tolerable. We waited for 60 minutes and were about to get on the ride when the ride broke down. We waited another 20 minutes, and the cast members said they didn't know when it would be fixed. Then, we could hear the fireworks starting outside. I asked Nathan if he wanted to wait for the ride, or skip it and see the fireworks. He chose the fireworks, so we exited the line and saw the fireworks show.

In the rain
We had planned to leave after the fireworks show, but then a new light show was happening on the castle, which was actually really neat, so we stayed for that. Unfortunately, we never made it on any of the 3 "mountain" rides at the park. There's always next time!

We got back to our room around 11:00 p.m. We were all exhausted! This was my first time at the parks with kids with NO STROLLER!!! It's definitely faster without one.

Up next: The reunion

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