Saturday, May 17, 2014

Georgia Turns 3!

With all the Disney recaps going on, I haven't had much time to devote to talking about Georgia's big 3rd birthday!  Since her actual birthday fell on a week day, we had a low key little cupcake/gift celebrating at home that night after dinner.  Of course, she also had a little birthday cupcake celebration at school with her friends too, so it was a cupcake kind of day!  It feels like we've been celebrating this birthday all month long.  As someone who firmly believes in birthday months, that is okay with me...

Waiting for her cupcake...

We may have forgotten to tell her that we bought trick candles that keep re-lighting.  She LOVED them!

Again and again and again...

She had a blast unwrapping a bunch of presents that arrived in the mail all week long.  Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate Georgia's birthday (Thank you cards should be on their way out -- it took awhile with Nick being in Texas for work all week and my work being a little crazy at this time of year!).

Checking out the new track suit from Auntie Pat!

Reading a card from Nick and myself

Yea for a super fun Tuesday birthday!  Happy 3rd birthday our wild little child!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Norwegian Fest...

Our final night at Disney... sob!!  We hadn't even packet yet and I was already sad to leave.  

Our final night included plans to head back to Epcot for dinner at Akershus, the restaurant in the Norway Pavilion.  No, I still have no idea how to pronounce it, even after eating there!  I'm fairly certain I say it a different way every time I even attempt to state the name of the place.  Let's just call it "dinner at Norway."

Again, Georgia wanted no part of wearing a princess dress to dinner UNTIL she saw all the other little girls wearing their dresses.  Thank goodness we packed the Sofia dress again!

Tip#32 -- Even if you kid is not a "dress kid," pack one!  I never thought our daughter would put on a fancy/puffy and somewhat itchy dress!  But, once she spotted other kids with them, she was all in.  Mini-tip: Put a shirt on underneath that itchy dress!

When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by Belle!  Georgia was fairly excited to see her since she had been asking about her since our dinner with Beast.

Cuddling up to Belle

The dinner at Akershus was a tad different than our previous dinners.  It started off with a cold dish buffet heavy on fish, cheese and a few other Norwegian specialties.  I had read mixed reviews about dinner there since a lot of people seemed to not like the appetizer buffet.  We enjoyed the various salads and especially a brown cheese called brunost.  Dinner was ordered from a menu and was quite good.

Again, a lovely chef came right out as soon as we arrived and promised to whip up Georgia some tasty pasta noodles for dinner!  

While we waited for our dinner to arrive, the procession of princesses began.  We watched as they slowly made their way around the room.  Of course, they arrived right as dinner also arrived at the table.  Poor Georgia faced a momentous decision - food or princess.  She quickly shoveled in two big gulps of noodles and practically threw herself at the visiting princesses!  

All smiles for Cinderella

There was a brief moment after Cinderella and the next princess arrived, so Georgia quickly inhaled a few more bites (while frantically looking around!)...

Big hugs for Snow White!

Georgia completely charmed Aurora.  She even offered to take Georgia home with her to her castle!

And our final visitor for the evening was Miss Ariel...

The best part about meeting multiple cast members playing "their role" is that you certainly see how different cast members portray the character.  I absolutely loved the Ariel at the Magic Kingdom's photo opportunity.  The one in Norway was just okay.  However, we were blown away by the Aurora at Norway vs another one we had met earlier in the trip.  It really is about that special little attention they pay or that extra hug they give the adoring little girls.

After dinner, it was announced that there would be a princess processional parade throughout the restaurant.  All the kids were told they could participate, but parents had to stay behind.  I wasn't thrilled with letting my 2 year old wander around a restaurant without me, especially since the kids were going to disappear from sight into the other dining rooms.  But, Georgia looked so excited to go, especially since Ariel was assigned our area of the restaurant.  We were assured that our kids would be returned by Ariel to our section after they paraded around and waved to everyone in the other dining rooms.  So, I sat and waited as the other groups came through and waited for Ariel to return.  She did... without Georgia.  

And the blood pressure rises!  Nick was in the bathroom and not in our dining room, so he had no idea what was going on.  After all the kids in our section were returned to their seats, I walked up to the manager and asked if there were any other children.  He replied that he always stood by the door during the processional "to make sure no one escapes!"  Great.  Now where is my kid exactly (as I envisioned her heading straight for the monorail!).  As I started to get a tad panicked, I rounded the corner into another dining room and there was my mini princess proudly spinning away with Aurora!!!  Best part - her daddy was standing there filming the whole thing.  So, not only was she safe with a princess holding her hand, but her father was also standing right there the whole time.  

By the time I arrived back in our dining room with Georgia and Nick in tow, poor Mimi was about to have a heart attack since Georgia still hadn't surfaced!!

Thank god for Aurora!  And thank goodness for Nick who managed to video tape the entire thing as I was frantically running around a restaurant looking for my kid (not to mention - my food allergy kid in a restaurant with a giant buffet!!)...

Tip #33 -- If your child wants to do the processional, be sure the assigned princess for your dining room keeps a close eye on them.  OR they could end up wandering around until another princess picks them up.  Aurora to the rescue!

If Georgia learned anything during these princess dinners, it was how to properly bow and curtsy.  An obvious skill needed now that she is back to her boring life as a commoner...

Overall, Akershus was a great experience, even if we almost lost our kid.  It was significantly cheaper than Cinderella's Royal Table and a great experience to meet a few of the princesses up close and get photo opportunities without waiting in long lines!  It was also an "easy" reservation to get.  It was the last table I booked and I changed our time just a few days before we left for FL.

Tip#34 -- If you want to skip eating in the castle or can't score the reservation, head to Akershus in Epcot instead!

By the time we made it out of the restaurant, darkness had fallen over Epcot.  We managed to sneak in a quick ride on Maelstrom, the Norway ride at Epcot, before we decided to stroll around the worlds and wait for the Illuminations show.

Georgia was a huge fan of the African outpost...

Yup, she totally fell asleep wearing that Sofia dress that night!

We didn't make it very far around the lake because Georgia was completely awed by the giant train set that was in Germany.  Another little girl was running around and Georgia joined her in running around and watching all the train sets.  So, we ended up watching the Illuminations show from the Germany/Italy area, which turned out to be a great view of the lasers and fireworks.  

Tip #35 -- For a great view of Illuminations, make sure you are past all the trees and "islands" that are in front of Norway and China.  We thought we would have to be closer to the other side of the lake, near the England/Canada pavilions, but our view was just fine.

Another benefit of our location was that we were as far away from the exit as possible.  So, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll to get back to the monorail knowing that we would have to wait in a long line anyway.  Along the way, we enjoyed all the beautiful flowers and character creations for the garden show.

Snow White and her dwarves!

Georgia promptly passed out in the stroller, which was a blessing!  Disney finally got to the girl - it only took 5 days!

Beast/Belle, Cinderella/Prince Phillip, and Winnie the Pooh

Bambi and friends, Peter Pan & Captain Hook, and the alligator from Peter Pan!

By the time we got to the monorail, we only had to wait a few minutes for an empty train to pull up.

Tip #36 -- Kill some time after Illuminations.  Don't bother running for the exit!  Enjoy the beauty of Epcot and take your time walking to the gate.

After some late night packing, we set our alarms for an early morning wake-up call for our flight home to DC.  It's amazing how fast time goes by in Disney.  We easily could have used another few days.  However, I would definitely throw in a rest day mid-week on our next trip and a side trip to Sea World!

FitBit count for the day -- 8.5 miles walked!  So, our winning day was most definitely the combo of Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom!  6 days = almost 45 miles walked!!!  I don't feel so bad about my cupcakes and iced coffees now.

We did learn a valuable lesson about Georgia at the airport the next day.  She can pack and carry her own luggage for the next trip...

So, in conclusion, I had people tell me that we were absolutely NUTS for bringing a toddler to Disney and I had another group of people who thought that Georgia was the perfect age for Disney.  Honestly, we had a blast.  And most importantly, she had a blast.  Was it exhausting?  YES!  Would it still be exhausting if we waited until she was 5 years old?  Probably!  Will we probably go back within the next year or so and do it all over again?  Absolutely!  We considered it a major success that a barely potty trained 2 year old survived the whole week without an accident in the most distracting place on Earth.  Celebrate your small successes!  Definitely bring a spare adult.  We're debating launching our new business - "Rent a Mimi" any day now!  Take breaks, pack snacks, sneak in a nap every day and know that you aren't going to be able to see and do everything.  Go with the flow, leave the park when crankiness ensues (child or adult) and just enjoy the magic of Disney.  Pack your sneakers, stay hydrated, and learn the FastPass+ system before you go.  The best part about Disney - no one is judging your parenting because everyone is in the same boat or has been at some point in their lives.  For food allergy parents, it was by far, the least stressed eating experiences of our lives.  Disney has their program down to a science and they know it!  It's one of their major selling points to me.  Hmmm.... who wants to cruise next???   Maybe we'll do swim lessons first.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Final Disney Day.... Epcot!

For our final day in Florida, we jumped on the monorail and headed for Epcot for the day.  I'm not even sure we needed to go to any of the parks.  Georgia would have been more than happy with just riding the monorail all day long.

Early morning #5 and we finally conquered that toddler energy!

Just kidding - she is up and ready for the day!

We weren't sure what to expect with crowds since it was also Easter Sunday.  Again, we managed to be there as the park opened and there appeared to be a huge crowd ready to head into Epcot for the holiday.  Our only disappointment was learning that Anna and Elsa from "Frozen" were not in the park that day!  Bummer.  However, the International Flower and Garden Festival was occurring at Epcot during our stay, so we were able to check out all the beautiful flowers and sculptures around the park.

View from the monorail as we arrived at Epcot

Beautiful butterflies

Since it was Easter Sunday, I figured if we weren't going to sport Minnie or Mickey ears, then maybe we should at least sport some bunny ears???

Hopping into Epcot for the day

The family that sports ears together, stays together???

Jenn Victory #1 of the day = Getting Nick to wear bunny ears in public

I should have made them wear bunny tails!

Before we headed into the park, I made Nick and Georgia take some iconic Epcot photos in front of the giant ball and they are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

How can you not love those faces???

We immediately headed to Test Track after we entered the park.  Georgia was beyond upset that she wasn't tall enough for the ride.  I don't blame her - she would have loved the ride.  Nick and I got to design our own car and take it for a little spin on the track!  While we were on that side of the park, Nick and I also managed to hit up Mission Space.  It was the only ride from the week that I think I would skip the next time around.  Holy dizziness!  I can see why there are so many warnings as you are walking onto that ride.  They aren't kidding around.

Since Mommy/Daddy got a few morning rides in during the extra magic hour, we decided to focus on G for a bit and took her over to the "new" Nemo ride.  

As cute as the Nemo ride was, we loved the area outside the ride, especially the aquarium tanks with all the fish.  Georgia loved checking out all the tanks, especially the manatees...

Just hanging out with Bruce the shark!

We LOVED the Turtle Talk with Crush show in the same area.  Crush was hysterical and Georgia was quite punchy.  She was quite entertaining yelling out things at him!  She may have been one of the youngest kids in the group, but she wasn't the least bit shy to introduce herself to the other kids or scream out, "It's my birthday" a few dozen times.  

Tip #31 -- Even if you don't have young kids, don't skip out on the Crush show!  He was cute AND funny!

After Nemo, Nick and I had a FastPass+ reservation for Soarin, which may be up there as one of my favorite Disney rides.  I loved the feeling or flying through the air!  

While Nick and I soared through the sky, we used one of Mimi's FastPass+ reservations to skip the line and take Georgia to see the characters at Epcot.  We left Georgia with Mimi knowing that the characters would either go amazingly well or poorly depending upon her mood.  Luckily, G was in high spirits and when we reunited,  Mimi shared that G did amazing.  She ran right up to the characters to give them big hugs and Minnie even got everyone to sing "happy birthday" to G!

Goofy and Mickey were there too!

Apparently she gave a great big hug to Goofy!

Great pic of G with the big guy!!

After a few more rides, we decided to take a mid-morning snack break.  And then I had a moment of bliss - I found the same ice coffee stand from Animal Kingdom at Epcot!  WAHOO!!!  What is in that stuff?!?  It's beyond amazing.

Mimi brought a few Easter novelties of her own to Epcot - Easter bunny masks!  We were highly entertained during our snack break...

Georgia & Mimi (and G's beloved dinner rolls!)

After a few more rides, we decided it was time to head back for a quick rest and to do some packing before our dinner reservation back at Epcot.  Our final ride was in Spaceship Earth (aka - the giant Epcot ball).  Georgia really liked the ride and LOVED the funny photos that they take and show you during the ride...

Time certainly does fly at Epcot!  We were looking forward to dinner and their nightly fireworks/laser light show later that evening after a short break...