Friday, August 21, 2015

Disney Day 3 - Typhoon Lagoon & Epcot

**Sorry for the delay in updating - the hotel wifi and I were not exactly getting along during this vacation and 10+ minutes to upload pictures didn't mesh with my vacation plans!**

Back to vacation...

Our Disney tickets included some "extras," including park-hopper (meaning, you can go to one of the 4 main Disney parks and then go to a different park on the same day) and water parks (Typhoon Lagooon and Blizzard Beach).

Mini-tip --- KNOW which tickets you have and how to best use them during your vacation!  We love the park-hopper option so that we can go to one park in the morning and another in the evening.  However, it's typically more expensive, so if you want to save some money, there's one way to save.

Since Georgia has been having a BLAST at our pool all summer, we knew we wanted to try and bring her to the water parks while in Orlando.  When planning, I left our Friday morning wide open and only booked FastPass+ for the evening at Epcot since we also had a dinner reservation over at Epcot later that night.

On Friday morning, we packed up our beach gear and headed to Typhoon Lagoon.  Again, Disney does an amazing job with themes and decor.  You really felt like you were on an island that was hit by a giant storm.  Georgia was so excited to try out the big water slides!

Mini-tip --- I had read that children could not wear their own swimmies/life jackets in the park (Typhoon Lagoon does provide FREE life jackets for children).  However, we saw tons of kids wearing all sorts of different life preservers from home, so I'm not sure how well this rule was enforced.  

A note about towels - you can "rent" a towel for the day for $2.  Lots of people seemed to have brought towels from their hotels too, but we just grabbed them at the park.

I had done extensive research ahead of time about how to best keep Georgia's Auvi-Q epinephrine pens safe while we were at the water park.  Most people online seemed to recommend a waterproof case that I could wear around my neck.  I ordered one and it worked perfectly!  Either Nick, myself or my mom wore it around our neck all day long.  The pens stayed dry (the most important part!) and were not left in a hot bag all day, which could overheat them and make the injector not work properly.

Georgia's first request of the day - WATER SLIDES!!  She was tall enough to ride most of the them and she had a blast going down again and again.  She'd get down the slide and want to run up the mountain again with Nick and I chasing her down.

Mini-tip --- Send an adult down first BEFORE sending down a child on the water slides.  My mom witnessed several lifeguard rescues from the water slides as kids came down and struggled to pop right back up in the churning water of the pool.  Also, make sure your kid is a strong swimmer or put them in a life jacket!  We always had Nick go down first, then Georgia and then I followed her down.  That way, one of us could get to her immediately in the pool.

Mini-tip --- Ride the water slides ASAP in the morning.  We were able to do most without any lines.  By the time we finished water slides (10:30/11), long lines were forming.  Save the giant wave pool and lazy river for later in the day.

The newest ride in the park - Crush n' Gusher - had a 48 inch height requirement, so Georgia stayed behind to wade into the pool while Nick and I ran up the stairs for a quick ride.  Who knew a photographer would be at the bottom?!!?

The Typhoon Lagoon surf pool is CRAZY with a giant 6 foot wave that comes every few minutes.  Not surprisingly, Georgia loved it.

Mini-tip --- The surf pool is NO JOKE!  If you aren't a strong swimmer, stay in the shallows.  Even there, you can still get knocked over (Mimi), dragged along the bottom and get scraped up (Nick), or at the least, get some water up your nose (Georgia and I). 

Mini-tip --- When we first walked into the park in the morning, we went to the left and sat on the far left side of the surf pool.  It gave us quick access to the water slides, an entrance to the lazy river, was just a short walk to the kid play area, and was located near the main restaurant on property.  We loved our little piece of beach!

Typhoon Lagoon has a super cute play area for kids called Ketchakiddee Creek with lots of small water slides, pools, sand, etc. for children 60 inches of shorter.  Although, we saw lots of "bigger" kids also having fun in this area.

Mini-tip ---- If you are traveling to Disney in the summer months, don't miss out on these water parks!  I think they are highly underrated and priced fairly well for a day at a top notch water park!  We had an amazing day and were able to escape the heat for a few hours by staying cool in the water.

Nick and Georgia using the giant squirt guns

After playing all morning, we grabbed lunch at one of the restaurants on property - Leaning Palms.  Lunch impressed us all - giant burgers, fries and cold lemonade slushies.  

Mini-tip --- You can bring your own food into the parks (just not glass or hard coolers).  We always had plenty of snacks available, bottled water, and even a sandwich for Georgia on some days.

After a quick ride on the lazy river, we called it a day and headed back to the hotel to nap for a few hours.  We easily could have stayed all day at Typhoon (and debated it since Georgia was having so much fun playing in the water).  But, we knew we had dinner plans, so a nap/relax time was in order for a few hours.

Mini-tip --- If you have a child under age 10 or a husband between the ages of 24-100, plan a nap or break time for the afternoon, especially if you have night plans or you are traveling in the heat of the summer.  I LOVE heat, but Florida August heat is a whole different beast - it sucks the life out of you!

After a nap, we planned to head over to Epcot for the evening.  We spent an entire day at Epcot last year, but planned to just do a 1/2 day this time around.  However, we did want to go on a night with evening Magic Hours so we could stay later and enjoy all the sights/sounds/tastes of the different countries.  

On our monorail ride over to Epcot, we could see the storm clouds coming.  We didn't really think too much of it since there always seems to be storm clouds looming in the afternoons in the summer.  However, these seemed to be rapidly approaching.  

We immediately headed to Fast Track since we had a FP+ booked for it before our dinner.  We had just gotten into the attraction and were about to take our ride when the dreaded "Ride is now closed due to weather" announcement was made.  We didn't have a ton of time before dinner, so we stuck around for a few minutes before making the decision that we would have to come back after dinner.

Sometimes, even at Disney, the best laid plans do NOT work out!  Always have a Plan B.  We were reassured by the cast members at Fast Track that since we did not use our FP+ to ride, we could come back at any time that evening to ride and use our FP+.

By the time we found Mimi, the thunder/lightning and rain were right on top of us.  We were trapped at Fast Track and only had about 15 minutes to make it to Germany for our reservation at Biergarten.  Again, we gave it a few minutes, but decided that we were going to have to make a run for it at some point.  We dug out the ponchos and umbrellas and prepped for the run.  We covered the stroller with a spare poncho with Georgia tucked safely inside (no worries - we gave her a breathing hole!).

Mini-tip --- Don't ever, ever, ever travel to Disney without ponchos.  They sell them in the park for $9+.  We bought ours at the dollar store for $1.  

Note that our run from Test Track from Germany does NOT look far.  Total deception!

So, we ran.  And ran.  And ran.  The entire time, I kept thinking that we were going to die.  Lightning was striking all around us and there we were running in the open while carrying metal umbrellas.  

We made it to Germany and we were wet.  Not just a little wet.  Not just an inconvenient wet.  I'm talking a soaking to the bone wet.  Even with the ponchos, our sneakers and socks were just soaked.  We squeaked when we walked. 

Dinner at Biergarten was okay.  I'm not sure it would go on the top of my list or if we would ever eat there again.  The food was okay, but the service was very slow (my wine arrived as I finished my meal).  Our table was in a very far corner, so we couldn't really enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant (which included polka songs, live music, dancing, etc.).  It's family style seating, so we were seated with 4 other people who weren't the world's friendliest.  Plus, we were just wet!

Nick and Georgia enjoying the show

The highlight of the meal was our waitress bringing Georgia lots of awesome Enjoy Life special desserts!

By the time we walked out after dinner, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, but the temperature had dropped significantly.  It was the only night of the trip that I wished I had a long-sleeved shirt or sweater with me.  We stopped in the Germany sweet shop, Karamell-Kuche for a treat.

Mini-tip --- No matter the weather, always throw a poncho, umbrella and a sweater into your backpack!

Mini-tip --- Don't pass up a caramel treat in Germany.  The smell alone coming from the shop was drool-worthy and it tasted just as good.

Beautiful Germany

Making silly faces while waiting for Nick/Mimi to grab a chocolate treat

We decided to stroll around the countries and explore while we waited for the nightly Illuminations show to begin around 9pm.  We got all the way to France before Nick realized he left his credit card in Germany, so he ran back while we enjoyed the start of the show.

Beautiful Morocco

We slowly made our way back to Test Track and attempted to swipe in using our Magic Bands when we met the only nasty cast member of the week!  She and I exchanged some words since she declared that we would not be able to use our FP+, even though we were forced to leave because of the storm/dinner reservations.  Luckily, several other people in line had similar stories and she finally asked her boss.  He immediately let us in!  WOOHOO.  She was definitely NOT representative of the typical Disney cast member, who always go out of their way to make sure you are happy!  Someone was on a power trip.

We let Georgia design our "car" for the ride, so it was purple all the way!

Ready for the ride holding Daddy's hand!

Of course our little speed demon loved the fast ride!

Bottom line for the night at Epcot... it wasn't what we planned.  We actually didn't even use our other two FP+ reservations because everything got delayed because of the weather.  By the time we finished Test Track, we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.  We were still wet and our feet were destroyed by wearing wet socks/sneakers for several hours.

Mini-tip --- If the weather looks like rain, throw in a spare pair of flip flops or sandals in your bag.  I'd rather dry my feet than blow dry my sneakers late night (true story!).

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