Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Magical Night...

After a quick nap, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner reservations at The Crystal Palace and to catch the evening fireworks.

Tip #5 -- If you are staying at the Shades of Green resort, ask the bellhop to drive you down to the end of the driveway.  They will gladly strap you into their golf cart (stroller and all!) and zip you down the driveway to the Polynesian Resort.  It easily saves 5-10 minutes of walking.  Georgia loved her nightly "ride" in the golf cart!  Tip them a few bucks and save yourself 10 minutes and 1/4 mile.

Speaking of walking... make sure you have your most comfortable footwear packed, broken in and ready to go.  Nick bought new sneakers a few weeks before our vacation and I made sure he wore them a few times before the trip to break them in.  I wore my running sneakers with my custom inserts that I normally save for my treadmill runs and races.  According to my FitBit, we walked 7.3 miles on our first day at the Magic Kingdom.  My mom also wore a FitBit and she was within that same range (we are convinced the woman must walk laps in her sleep because she beat me daily --- and we were walking around the same places together!!).  Disney is not the time or place to experiment with new shoes, flip flops or heels.  Yes, I saw all three, including a pair of super high wedge sandals on a crazy woman who looked like she was going to topple over at any moment.  We made sure we had band aids on us at all times and a small first aid kit, which we luckily never had to use!  For those nights that my piggy toes just had to be free (it's Florida, I HAD to wear my flip flops at some point), I always kept my sneakers in the stroller and I would inevitably change into them before the walk out of the park/back to the resort.

Back to our return to the Magic Kingdom...

Georgia took monorail safety extremely seriously throughout the duration of our stay.  When the automated voice told her to "hold onto the pole," she immediately complied... every single time.

Did I mention that she also made other people comply with the direction?!?  Mimi was a good listener too.

Our dinner reservations were for 6:00pm and when we arrived a few minutes early, they informed us that they were running at least 15-20 minutes behind for the evening.  So, Mimi and I stayed with the pager in front of the restaurant (and I even managed to bump into a friend and her family - it truly is a "small world" at Disney) while Nick headed out to explore a bit with Georgia.  They managed to stumble upon the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party, which was an excellent accidental way to kill 30 minutes while we waited for our table.

I sent Nick a text at one point to ask whether or not Georgia liked the street party.  His response was classic, "Nope and yes."  So, typical Georgia!  He managed to snap the perfect selfie to accompany his quote...

What a sour face!

When we finally got seated in the restaurant, we were told that Winnie and all his friends would be visiting our table shortly.  Georgia, still not 100% sure of these giant life-like creatures, wasn't too impressed and was way more interested in her coloring book.  

Tip #6 -- Pack lots of "to-do" activities for waiting if you are traveling with a toddler/young child.  We had our diaper bag/backpack stuffed with coloring books, our iPads, books, etc.  Mimi also had a few little distractors on her too.  We only needed to access them a few times during the trip (mostly while we waited for food), but they were a great distraction when we needed to buy ourselves a few minutes or we needed to prevent a meltdown.

Again, a chef immediately came out and walked me through the entire buffet to explain what she could/could not eat.  This time, I asked lots of clarifying questions and double-checked on items.  Georgia had several bread, fruit/veggie, and chicken/fish options.  I was really impressed with the lack of peanut products.  Disney doesn't use any peanut oil in their facilities and peanuts/peanut products are primarily only used in their desserts.  Dairy was a little tougher to avoid, but there were always options.

Tip #7 -- In my opinion (and my traveling companions), the buffet at The Crystal Palace is much nicer than the buffet at Chef Mickey's.  We all agreed that we enjoyed our meals much more this night than the previous night.  We had many more options, including some new and interesting choices that we really enjoyed (like Mediterranean Chicken!).

The first character to hop on by was Tigger!  Georgia gave him the stink eye, so Mimi did her best to convince him that he really was just a big ole cuddly friend...

Big hugs for Mimi

Tigger tried his best to entice Georgia into a hug.  She did her best to ignore him!

Her bread was much cooler than Tigger!

Piglet was our next little friend to swing on by.  He took one look at Princess Grumpy and knew to not even try it!  But the rest of our table wanted a pic with the pink guy!  Interestingly enough, even though G didn't want to spend any time with the characters, she wanted to make sure they signed her special autograph book!

Tip #8 - Buy your autograph book ahead of time.  They were selling for almost $10 in all the Disney stores.  I bought our Little Mermaid notebook in the $1 bin at Target before the trip.  I had also read a great tip somewhere along the way to bring your own Sharpie pen with you.  Since the characters' hands are covered by their costume, their dexterity isn't the best . The Sharpies are easy for them to hold and maneuver.  I read that the click/retractable Sharpies were better than the Sharpies with the cap, so I bought those at Target too.  All the characters seemed to be able to handle those quite well, no matter the size of their "paws."

Getting a squeeze from Mimi

Yes, my sun-burned chest may have matched Piglet's fur color!

And then, it happened.  The man of the hour arrived at our table!  He even managed to sneak up and surprise Mimi...

As Mimi was having her picture taken, I may have mentioned to Winnie's "handler" that Georgia was still a tad suspicious of all these costumed friends.  He immediately turned to me and said, "Don't worry - he's amazing with the little ones!"  He was spot on.  All it took was for Winnie to pay some special attention to Georgia and she completely cured her of all her fears for the rest of the week.  If I could have personally tipped Winnie-the-Pooh, I would have done it.  He was amazing!

I love that Winnie played peek-a-boo with her and that was just enough for her to realize that these characters could be fun to interact with off the tv screen!  Her giggles were priceless and worth the entire cost of the trip.

Tip # 9 -- If you have a little one who is a tad bit hesitant of the characters, let the handlers know.  That was the first time that I told the person accompanying the character and I think that helped with the situation immensely as he was able to let Winnie know that she was a bit scared.

As we waited for our final character to come around, the waitress brought out dessert for Georgia - Enjoy Life cookies!!  We all know how much I adore this company, so I was beyond thrilled when I heard that their products were served in the Disney parks.  Georgia's eyes lit up in delight when she spotted these chocolate chip cookies.  She inhaled not one, but two packs within minutes!  Mimi mentioned to the waitress that Georgia loved the cookies, so she brought out even more for her.  We all know that Georgia could survive on only Cocoa Loco bars (which we brought with us) for months, but it was nice to have some cookies too!

Dessert #1

Dessert #2 - A whole platter of Enjoy Life cookies!  Love, love, love this company!!

Finally, Eeyore made his way around to say hello.  Georgia loved waving to him!  But, she had cookies to eat.  Priorities!

Nick & Eeyore

Giggling at Eeyore

Waving to Eeyore

We finally wrapped up dinner and hustled over to the TomorrowLand Speedway.  Since we didn't use our FastPass+ that we had earlier booked for Enchanted Tales with Belle (because we were able to walk right in during the quiet morning hours), we re-booked for a night ride on the speedway.  Georgia was sooooo excited and it was great to bypass the long line, use our FastPass+ and get right into a car.  Georgia thought that she would really be driving her hero, Lightning McQueen!

Ready to drive!

One of my favorite pictures from the day!

Tip #10 -- Layers, layers, layers!  Even in mid-April, we were surprised by the wind and how quickly the nights cooled down.  We often started our days wearing jeans/long sleeves, stripped to short sleeves/shorts for mid-day, and were back in long pants and sweatshirts for after dark!  We also brought our own ponchos and umbrellas from home.  We never needed the ponchos (we happened to be back for nap time during the one thunderstorm while we were there), but we pulled out the umbrellas for a few quick bursts of misty showers on different days.

After our trip around the track, we hustled back to Main Street to figure out a good place to stand and watch the fireworks.  We were amazed at how early people claimed spots hours and hours before the show.  We found a decent place on the bridge to TomorrowLand and enjoyed the Celebrate the Magic show and then the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks.  We had a fabulous view of Tinker Bell's flyover, but one lonely tree managed to block our perfect view of the fireworks.  Luckily, we were able to slide over a bit to see most of them.  

Georgia liked the music, but wasn't a huge fan of "the booms!"  

Tip #11 -- Disney never passes up an opportunity to make a quick buck.  Before the fireworks, all sorts of light up devices were for sale all over the parks.  Luckily, both Mimi and I had gone to the dollar stores and bought all sorts of light up wands, necklaces, glow sticks, etc. before leaving home.  Spending $10 before the trip provided us with nightly entertainment all week long!  During nap time, I would re-stock our diaper bag and sneak a few toys to whip out later while we waited for our nightly entertainment.

What a day!  It took us quite a while to make our way out of the park, along with the tens of thousands of other people who left after the fireworks.  Again, the monorail convenience was fabulous and soon enough we were back a the resort and prepping for our next adventure - back to the Kingdom tomorrow!

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