Saturday, August 22, 2015

Disney Day 4 - Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney

When we first started planning our return to Disney this year, I actually debating skipping Hollywood Studios.  We went last year and managed to hit most of the big rides and big shows. I figured there wasn't that much more to do there and we could spend the day somewhere else with more rides.  Well, all that changed when Disney announced that Hollywood Studios would be ground zero for their summer of Frozen fun!

More Elsa and Anna?!?!  Yes, please.

Even before we could get in the gates, it was very apparent that all our favorite friends from "Frozen" would be there...

Since most people run for Toy Story Mania, we decided to skip that early morning chaos and use our FP+ for that later in the morning.  Our bus driver (who was full of fun facts) said that Toy Story Mania is the most requested FP+ in any of the Disney parks.  Since we had the Magic Hour advantage, Nick and I ran to ride the Rock n' Roller Coaster, which is one of my favorite rides in any of the parks.  

Don't I look like I'm having fun!??!?!

Mini-tip --- If you are taking advantage of Magic Hours and are a fan of thrill rides, immediately go right as you enter the park and you can typically knock off the roller coaster and Tower of Terror before the park opens for general admission.  The lines for both of these will be VERY long later in the day.  So, hit them first or use a FP+.

Georgia could have cared less about rides since she was much more into all the "Frozen" hoopla happening around her!

Gotta love the Disney magic at work, even in pictures...

Nick was excited that Georgia was just as excited about the "Star Wars" props on property...

Even Nick found some Mickey ears that he could support at Hollywood Studios...

We had a few minutes to spare before making our FP+ reservation at Toy Story Mania, so we explored the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" play area.  I've said it in past posts and I'll say it again, Disney playgrounds rock!

Mini-tip --- If you have little ones, take advantage of the Disney playgrounds.  They are typically shaded, near big ride attractions, and are a great way to unwind and let kids be kids for a little bit while parents can sit and relax for awhile. They are typically fenced in with a clear exit/entrance, so kids can't escape either!

Georgia might not be familiar with the movie, but a cool playground is still a cool playground!

Next up, one of the coolest rides in any of the parks... Toy Story Mania!  While we were at Hollywood Studios for the day, a Disney conference was happening out in CA and they actually announced that a brand new Toy Story Land is in development for Hollywood Studios!  This area of the park will be massively expanded over the next few years...

Mini-tip --- Use a FP+ on Toy Story Mania or RUN there when the park opens (just follow the crowd!).  

Immediately after riding Toy Story, we headed back to the main street area to watch the "Frozen" parade.  We were about 20 minutes early, so we claimed our front row spot and waited.  It was a tad warm... and by warm, I mean sweltering!

Mini-tip --- If you are traveling to Disney in the summer, be sure to pack multiple outfits per day, including underwear, socks, etc.  We would wear one outfit in the AM, go back and shower/rest/nap in the afternoon, and then return to the parks for the evening. There was NO WAY I was putting on the same sweat soaked outfit from the AM!

Love the photobomb kid behind us!

Luckily, our seats paid off in a HUGE way and we got to see all of our friends...

Mini-tip --- If you want great parade viewing, plan to be along the route (in any park) at least 15 minutes ahead of time!  We were mobbed with about 5 minutes to spare.  Parents have no shame - they will push their kids to the front, sit on top of you, etc.

My personal rule with parades is that I have no problem squeezing in for little kids.  However, I draw the line with parents (get in back - you're taller!!) and their gigantic strollers!  I also have a problem with people who don't listen to cast members and ignore the rules....repeatedly... and go beyond tape/rope lines!  Don't be that person!!  Get there early, claim a spot and be polite.  Keep karma in mind - we saw some people from our hotel with little ones so we helped squeeze them up into the front with us.  Let's just say that it paid off for us the next day!!

After the parade, we made our way over to the "Beauty and Beast Live Show" since we hadn't seen that one the year prior.  It was a nice chance to cool down and sit for awhile!

Waiting for the show to start

Next, we headed over to Hollywood and Vine for our lunch reservation.  However, we had a few minutes to spare and I'd like to name this segment - When Animals Attack!  Within minutes, Georgia got bit by a duck and my mother got stung by a bee!  Georgia was feeding the ducks and reached down to grab a dropped Cheerio when a duck decided he wanted it immediately.  Thank goodness it didn't hurt and she had a cool story to tell for the rest of the day.  My poor mom was just sitting waiting for lunch when she was bit.

Lunch involved meeting some of our favorite Disney Jr friends...

Princess Sofia and Jake the Pirate

Handy Manny and Doc McStuffins

Like with every meal, our reservation was flagged for a food allergy, so a chef did walk me through the buffet.  I nicknamed him Chef Grumpy since he wasn't the happiest camper, but he won me over by telling me that he had a special dessert that was safe for her - a brownie!  He didn't mention that it was the size of a full plate and Georgia inhaled 90% of it.  Of course.

Mini-tip --- If your child has severe allergies, ask the chef to bring you food directly from the kitchen.  I witnessed a child using the same serving utensil to help himself to all the different food on the buffet (hello, cross contamination) and then saw another child helping himself using his fingers (GROSS!) while his mother happily watched her little angel.  Since there were no peanuts on the buffet, I was okay serving Georgia from the buffet.  But, I definitely re-thought it after witnessing those acts!

Georgia loved meeting all of the characters from Disney Junior shows!

Since we missed our bus back to Shades of Green, which only comes every hour on the hour, we hopped a Disney transportation bus to the nearby Polynesian and walked home from there.

Mini-tip --- Know the Disney transportation system!  There is always a Plan A to get home and a Plan B.  The Disney buses run like clockwork every 20 minutes or so.  There's also boats, the monorail, and your two legs!  Know which resort is near yours and if it is walkable to your hotel.  You can also grab a bus to another park (aka - Epcot, Animal Kingdom) and grab transportation from there.

We had plans to return to Hollywood Studios later that evening for the Fantasmic show and Frozen fireworks, but rain and thunder impacted our plans for the SECOND YEAR in a row!  We missed Fantasmic the year before too!  So, instead we re-routed and headed to Downtown Disney, which is currently being transformed into "Disney Springs."

Downtown Disney was HAPPENING!  Completely and utterly packed.  We grabbed some dinner from the food trucks and strolled along exploring all the restaurants, stores, and sights.  Lightning flashed in the distance all night long, but we somehow managed to escape the storm.  My goal of the night was to find the famous Erin McKenna's Bakery.  About a year ago, I started hearing amazing things about this vegan bakery that was TOTALLY SAFE for Georgia!  I did my research and although they cannot claim to be totally nut-free (due to a very minor cross-contamination risk for hazelnut and almond, which is why I did those challenges before we left for Disney).  It was amazing to walk into a bakery and let Georgia pick our whatever she wanted!!!!

Georgia promptly inhaled a chocolate cupcake because that is how we roll when it's 9pm and you are on vacation with an already sleep-deprived 4 year old.  Keep the sugar coming!  We left with one of everything and 3 giant boxes of goodies for her to snack on for the rest of the week.

We were so impressed with this area of Disney - you could really spend a whole day exploring all the shops and restaurants.  It's definitely on our to-do-again list whenever we return to Disney in the future!  

Mini-tip --- Many restaurants in Downtown Disney accept the dining plan, so definitely investigate this area if you want to explore the area and grab lunch or dinner!  The food trucks were also a fabulous find.

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!).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Disney Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

You know you are at Disney when your alarm clock goes off before dawn and you leap out of bed all sorts of excited!  We had a date with Elsa and Anna...

Since Shades of Green benefits from Magic Hours, we decided to take advantage and be at rope drop for the opening of the Magic Kingdom on our first full day in the parks. 

Mini-tip --- If Magic Hour is from 8am-9am, get there early because the welcome show begins at 7:40am and they open the gates immediately after Mickey Mouse greets the crowd (about 2-3 minutes later).  That is a 15 minute jump on the people who arrive right at 8am.  At most parks, they allow you to enter and proceed to a roped off area INSIDE the park until the hour strikes!

Even though we had a FastPass+ reservation to meet Elsa/Anna later in the afternoon, I knew we could use the Magic Hour to our advantage and be one of the first people in line to greet them that morning (and allocate our FP+ to something else).  By 7:50am, we were inside Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland after hustling up Main Street with the throngs of early-risers  By 7:51am, Georgia was in full Elsa gown and crown ready to meet her gal pals from "Frozen."

Georgia was SO EXCITED to meet Elsa!

Georgia was just as happy to run over and give Anna a huge hug too!

8:04am and we had officially crossed off the #1 thing to do on our priority list!  Sigh of relief.  Since we didn't have to use the FP+, I quickly reassigned them for an Ariel meet/greet later in the morning using the Disney app.

Since luck was on our side, we thought we might try to cross the Seven Dwarf Mine Train off our list, but one look at that line and we decided that we would just use our already planned FP+ for later in the evening. 

Mini-tip --- Decide what your priorities are ahead of time!  We knew Anna/Elsa was #1, but if the Mine Train was our top choice, we would have hustled to there first.  If you waiver in your decision, it's not worth it.  Use your Magic Hour bonus time wisely.  Pick a big ticket item and head there immediately after rope drop.

Georgia made a request for a Dumbo ride, so we off we went...

Beautiful morning for a Dumbo ride!

Dumbo is another big draw attraction.  However, early in the morning, we've never had a problem riding it a few times before the park gets crowded!

**We definitely noticed a difference in morning crowd size from our April/spring visit to our current August/summer visit.  The park was PACKED immediately in the summer vs a more slow-rising crowd in the spring.  Our theory: it's warm/bright/light earlier in the summer, so people are more apt to rise and shine.  Also, it's much cooler in the AM during the summer vs peak heat in the afternoon and people want to get things done in the morning before that afternoon heat comes along**

After Dumbo, we went right next door to Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster.  Georgia was too short for this coaster a year ago, but she easily cleared the 35 inch height requirement this summer!  Mimi must have taken her brave pills because she even went for the ride.  Georgia looked terrified at the end, but then promptly declared she wanted to go again, so Nick and her headed right back up to the start and got front row!

Mini-tip --- If you have little ones, know the height restrictions on each of the rides at the parks.  They are easily accessed through the Disney website and app.  We measured Georgia with and without her sneakers a few days before we departed.  She was 39.5 without her sneakers and 40.5 with them on.  She had no problems getting on the 40 inch height restricted rides at Magic Kingdom (and later at other parks).

8:15am and some major rides checked off the list!  Moving along.

Since Daddy got a solo ride on the coaster and Mimi doesn't do spinning, I was the lucky winner of the tea cups ride!  Georgia could ride this attraction all day long.  She loves it!

Mini-tip --- If you're going to be in FL in the summer months, say adios to any sort of hairstyle.  I went with the wet hair in a bun look daily!  Even with that, it's hot and you are sweating within minutes of being outside in the sun.  Poor Georgia's pony tale was driving her crazy sticking to her neck, so I even had to braid her pony.  Disney is not about style, unless you find some cute ears to wear as a headband.

Out of the way - student driver!

Again, the Florida heat is no joke in the summer!  By 9am, we all needed a cool down, so we hit up the People Mover to relax for a few minutes and take advantage of some AC as it weaved in and out of buildings.  These rides might be "boring," but they serve a purpose.  It was also a great time to chug some water and grab a quick snack.

We managed to do a few more rides in TomorrowLand, including the Buzz Lightyear ride (a favorite of Nick's) and the Astro Orbiter.  I checked my watch - 9:30.  Whew.  We packed a ton of rides into the first 90 minutes in the park, but it's so worth it to be there early and hammer things out before the huge crowds and big time heat of the day arrive.  We also managed to grab a drink at Gaston's Tavern (proper hydration is key!), stop for a sunscreen re-application, and take a quick spin on the Carousel.

Busting some aliens!

Carousel time

Nick and I took advantage of a built-in Mimi babysitter and used our FP+ reservation to jump on Space Mountain for a quick ride while Georgia and her wandered over to use their new FP+ to meet Ariel in her grotto. 

Meeting Ariel

Mini-tip --- Your group does NOT need to have the same FP+ reservations.  In fact, every person could (theoretically) do their own thing.  We try to use Mimi's dislike of big/fast/spinning rides to our advantage and use her FP+ to take Georgia to character meet/greets and parade VIPS while Nick and I get to ride the fast/scary rides at the same time.

Next, we headed over to Be Our Guest for our 11:05 lunch reservation.  This is my #1 lunch recommendation for anyone looking to eat while in the park.  We pre-ordered 30 days out, but still had to wait about 20-30 minutes to go thru the cashier process before finding a table (you self-seat) and then waiting for our meals to be delivered to our table.  Since Georgia is flagged with a food allergy, a chef promptly found us and made sure everything was safe for her.  Chef Stuart came out to let me know that the regular bread has a peanut and walnut cross-contamination warning, so he made a substitute for her!  Thanks, chef.

Georgia DESTROYED this turkey sandwich and fries!

MOST AMAZING - all of that was done thru our GPS tracking devices in our Magic Bands.  WHA?!?!?!?  They knew where to deliver the food and the chef knew where we seated ourselves just from the bands we were all wearing.  Slightly creepy, but really cool.  The food is fabulous and for $50, you get to eat in a beautiful setting with air conditioning!  You spend the same amount eating outside the castle for hot dogs, fries and drinks.

Next stop... the big question mark for our trip in terms of rides... Splash Mountain.  I made the FP+ reservation for all 4 of us not knowing if Mimi would go on (she never has in the past) or if Georgia would pass the height requirement.  We approached and they had Georgia step under a L-shaped bar to see if her head hit.  If so, she would pass.  Well, Miss G walked right up and knocked herself silly hitting the bar on her forehead.  WAHOO!  The whole line applauded as she screamed, "I passed!  I passed!"  Mimi's brave pill was still on full throttle so she joined us too.  I may have been more concerned about my mother than my kid...

Says it all...

Love the expressions - Nick and I screaming with smiles, G looks perplexed and my mother is terrified!

Mimi survived.  G loved it... of course.  As we got off the ride, an announcement was made about rides being suspended because of an incoming thunderstorm.  Perfect timing!  We were ready for a nap break anyway, so we hiked to the monorail and caught it for a ride back to the Polynesian.  A quick walk back to the resort and it was naptime for all while I recharged in the lobby and made a few new friends attending the Naval Warfare convention at the hotel!  It thundered and poured for a few hours as predicted for just about every afternoon in Florida in the summer.

Stars and Stripes Mickey in the lobby

The skies cleared just in time for a return to the park for some evening activities.  First up... dinner.  It's important to eat a healthy and nutritious meal, which is why my mom and I split our Nutella waffle and added fruit to it!  ;)

Our Nutella waffle from Sleepy Hollow

Don't worry - Nick ate a healthy hamburger macaroni concoction from The Friar's Nook in Fantasyland that he devoured too.  That left Georgia, who kept repeating that she was not hungry at all.  Seeing as though she ate almost all of her turkey sandwich and French fries from lunch, we weren't surprised.  But she did jump at the chance to eat a Mickey pretzel for "dinner!"

Disney magic = There are no rules for dinner!

Our main goal of the night - use our last FP+ of the day to ride the new Seven Dwarf's Mine Train.  All I can say is that it totally lived up to the hype!  It was an amazing ride and just beautiful to be on, especially inside the mines.  The technology is incredible - within minutes of leaving the ride, we already had images of us sent to our Disney accounts and a video with us riding the coaster.  Hello, GPS monitoring!

Mini-tip --- Either FP+ the mine train ride or get there first thing in the morning.  It is the newest ride at Magic Kingdom and the line was crazy all day.  Well worth using a FP+!

We managed to sneak in a few more rides before heading down to Liberty Square to stake out a spot for the electrical parade.  It was a gorgeous night, so the place was PACKED!


Mini-tip --- If you want great seats (guaranteed) for the parades of fireworks, use a FP+.  However, you can still find spots with semi-obstructed views with just a few minutes to spare before each OR you may have to sit/stand directly behind people. 

We headed over to Adventureland immediately after the parade (mainly to avoid the chaos on Main Street and in Liberty Square).  There was no line for Aladdin's Flying Carpet Ride, so Georgia and I took a spin as we waited for the fireworks to start.

We made an executive decision to get as close to the park exit as we could before turning around to view the fireworks.  We got stuck on Main Street for 60+ minutes last year trying to exit after the fireworks and learned our lesson.  People are not so kind at that point in the night and there are LOTS of cranky kids (and adults).  We had a beautiful view and were on the monorail within minutes of the fireworks ending.

Mini-tip --- Wear your MOST comfortable shoes/sneakers on this trip.  Daily Fitbit report - 8.66 miles (and that's including several hours back at the hotel relaxing/napping).