Thursday, September 3, 2015

Disney Day 8 - Animal Kingdom...

Our final day at Disney was spent at Animal Kingdom!  Like our visit last year, our first stop was the safari.  It was a magic hours day, so the park was opening up one hour earlier for guests staying on Disney property and we wanted to take advantage of that extra time, so we were there when the gates opened.  We immediately entered the park and hiked back to "Africa."

Mini-tip --- Always do the safari first thing in the morning since it it cooler in the day and most of the animals are out and about eating!

Georgia loved checking out all the animals...

Once our safari journey ended, we walked off to "Asia" to get in line for the Kali River Rapids Ride.  

Mini-tip --- Kali doesn't have a magic hours opening time, so it opens one hour later on a magic hours day.  Take advantage and go do the safari or ride Expedition Everest before heading over to Kali.

Since it was much cooler when we last visited in April, we skipped out on this water ride.  Since it was 95-100 degrees in August, we figured we'd do it!

Warning note... We knew there was the possibility of getting very wet on this ride and we decided to risk it.  I packed flip flops for each of us and we quickly disposed of our socks/sneakers and put those on before the ride.  However, we didn't bring our ponchos.  BIG MISTAKE!

Mini-tip --- For guaranteed dry clothes after Kali River Rapids, wear a poncho or bring a complete change of clothes (including underwear and bra!).

Well, good luck was not on our side and we took a direct hit from a waterfall.  I was wet, but Nick and Georgia were absolutely soaked.  We managed to strip Georgia and put her in a change of clothes that I had brought while Mimi was a team player and walked around waving Georgia's underwear around to help it dry more quickly.  Nick, on the other hand, didn't have many options.  He had packed a change of shorts, but he was soon also the proud owner of an Animal Kingdom t-shirt!  Disney could make some huge money if they had dryers available right outside the exit for the ride.

Mini-tip --- If you need a high powered blow dryer, head to the restrooms across from Flame Tree BBQ.  The ladies room had a dryer high enough on the wall that you could stand under it to dry your hair.  Unfortunately, we didn't discover this restroom for several hours and it is NOT near Kali at all!  However, it might be worth the walk if you get soaked.

Nick and I managed a last minute FP+ to one of my favorite roller coasters at any of the Disney parks - Expedition Everest!  Georgia and Mimi waited just a few minutes for us so we could all regroup and head to our brunch reservation at Tusker House.  

Georgia was so excited to finally see some of her favorite Disney characters!




Goofy was absolutely amazing!  Every now and again, you get a character who goes out of their way.  He got down to Georgia's level and played with her for a few minutes.  She absolutely LOVED the attention from him and it made her day.

Overall, we loved Tusker House!  Even more so, we loved the time of our reservation - 10:15am.  It was late enough that we got to enter the park and ride a few things before heading to breakfast (and taking advantage of a less crowded time to hit the big rides).  Eating a huge meal from 10-11am let us enjoy the rest of the day without having to stop for lunch too.  The adults thought that the food was above average - we enjoyed trying a few African inspired dishes and loved our staples.  Georgia must have had a tape worm for this meal because she inhaled the Mickey waffles!  I'm not 100% sure what is in the jungle juice (that bright orange drink in the photos above) - I think it was a passionfruit/orange/guava mixture.  It was beyond delicious and all of us chugged multiple glasses as it just kept showing up.  

The regular Mickey waffles were peanut and tree nut free!  Although they had milk and egg in them, they were cooked, so Georgia could eat the without any issues.  WOOHOO!

After brunch, we headed over for our FP+ reservation for the Nemo show.  We managed to score 2nd row seating and had an awesome view!

After the show, we headed to Georgia's favorite place at Animal Kingdom - the dinosaur playground.  Even I have to admit, it's a super cool playground with huge slides, climbing equipment and a "dig" for dinosaur bones.  She could have easily just spent the day there!

Mimi took a shift watching Georgia so that Nick and I could do our final FP+ reservation for the day - "Dinosaur!"

By the time we got back, Georgia hadn't moved an inch!

Note the color on her cheeks.  Again, it was a sweltering day!  For some reason, the air just doesn't seem to move around Animal Kingdom like the other Disney parks.  Bring lots of water and indulge in some of the treats.  I'm not a regular Coca-Cola girl, but I happily ate a Frozen Coke that afternoon!

After a few more rides and shows, we decided to call it a day since it was approaching late afternoon.  Some people complain that Animal Kingdom doesn't have enough to do to warrant a full day at the park, but I highly disagree.  We didn't get to see/do everything and we were there from magic hour until almost 3pm.  Avatar Land is already under construction at Animal Kingdom and a few new rides are also in development, as well as a nighttime show.  So, soon enough, it will definitely be a full day/night park.

After a quick ride, we arrived back at Shades of Green just as an afternoon thunderstorm fired up!  Georgia was quite content to just hang out in the lobby watching a movie!

We debated some evening options, but decided that Georgia was just too exhausted to head back out since she missed a nap that day.  Mimi volunteered to stay at the hotel with G while Nick and I headed over to Downtown Disney (soon to be called Disney Springs) to grab dinner and explore.

A new Frozen nightgown and a picnic with Mimi and she was set for the night!

Nick and I scored a reservation to a restaurant in Downtown Disney called Bongos. The cuban food was excellent and the place was happening - live music and dancers!  Georgia would have loved the place.  After some tasty cuban and mojitos, we wandered over to Disney Quest (it was included in our week ticket, so we wanted to use the pass).  The place was amazing - 5 levels of video games, interactive games, etc.  It was every teenage boys fantasy... and maybe a boy in his mid 30's...

We had a blast playing games, participating in a gigantic bumper car shooting game, battling pirates with 3-D glasses, etc.  Our only regret was that we didn't have a longer time to spend there.  

Mini-tip --- If it's a rainy day or you want to entertain some pre-teens/teens, head to Disney Quest for an afternoon of video games!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Disney Night 7 - Hollywood Studios

After a long day at the Magic Kingdom, we headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit and hopefully sneak in a nap.  Unfortunately, Georgia had different ideas and had ZERO interest in napping.  Oh boy...

The typical afternoon thunderstorm hit and quickly left, so we decided to head back to Hollywood Studios for their nightly Fantasmic show and "Frozen" fireworks.  We attempted to go to Fantasmic last year when we were at Disney, but we were rained out, so we never left the hotel to return to the park.  It seemed like we were doomed because earlier in the week, we got rained out of Fantasmic for the second time.  Third time is the charm???

We jumped on the bus as we all pulled up our weather apps and realized it was going to be a close call!

Georgia picked up a new wolf pup when we visited the Ft Wilderness resort.  Thankfully, Mimi's brush was always quick entertainment during all of our bus rides!

By the time we got back to Hollywood Studios for the evening, a lot of the rides were shut down (or in the process of closing).  Any of the other major attractions had very long lines and were not worth the wait since the Fantasmic show started in an hour.  We strolled up Main Street and found a massive dance party with a dj and even some characters.  I may have danced with Goofy!

Minnie even made an appearance.  Unfortunately, Georgia was in an epic cranky mood and wanted nothing to do with these guys.  Too bad kid because I had a great time dancing with the characters!

In the best news of the night, Hollywood Studios sells alcoholic slushies... exactly what the doctor ordered after a week of Disney with a cranky and sleep deprived 4 year old!  Nick also found a delicious mac-n-cheese-pulled-pork bowl that we inhaled during the dance party.

Since most things were closing and it seemed like they were encouraging people to head toward the front of the park, we started walking towards the Fantasmic arena about 30-40 minutes before the show was scheduled to start.  We planned to hit the early showing (9pm), but there is also a later show (10:30pm) on some nights. 

By the time we walked there, the arena was already halfway full. 

Mini-tip --- You can use a FP+ for Fantasmic.  You get access to the center rows of the arena.  Also, check out the VIP Fantastmic lunch and dinner reservations available.

We settled in for a wait and snacked on popcorn, pretzels and a bevy of other junk food.  Gotta love Disney dinner on the go!  All the while, we watched the lightning fire up all around us.  As we pulled up the weather app, an announcement was made that at any point, the show could be cancelled or postponed.  AHHHH!

Mini-tip --- If it's raining or looks like bad weather, check with your Disney hotel staff to see if the Fantasmic show is still happening as scheduled for that evening!

Kharma was again on our side as the show started! 

Mini-tip --- The middle section of Fantasmic may not be for your little guy/gal.  I think Georgia was confused, so she didn't quite get that the villains were "winning," but it's intense, loud and a tad bit scary.  Of course, the end, in my opinion, is amazing (hint - Mickey always wins at Disney!).

As we exited the Fantasmic show, the remainder of the park was lined up and ready for the "Frozen" fireworks to begin.  Unfortunately, for us, the Shades of Green bus picks up at Hollywood Studios at ten of the hour.  We didn't want to miss the bus and have to wait an additional hour since Miss Cranky Pants was quickly deteriorating without a nap.  So, we watched the fireworks right at the entrance and hightailed it to the bus stop as the final fireworks were going off.

Mini-tip --- If you are at Shades of Green and don't want to rush out, just take the Polynesian Hotel bus transportation back to their hotel and walk back to Shades.  Looking back, we should have done that!

Overall, I'm just excited that we FINALLY got to see the Fantasmic show! 

Onto our final full day in Florida... Animal Kingdom!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 2015 Favorites...

I'm interrupting my Disney recaps to squeeze in a last day of August monthly favorites post!  I couldn't let the month slide by without recapping some of my favorite things and moments.  Back to Florida later this week to finish off my Disney recaps and tips!

UGH... and just like that, summer is over.  HOW?!?!  WHY?!?!  I love fall, but there is something about summer that I will always love the most.  Not working for two months is always a huge bonus, but it's all the other stuff too - the long days, the pool, BBQs with good friends and cold beer, etc.  We tried our best to take advantage of the long hot days with lots of fun activities.  A few things that haven't made the blog yet that we loved during the month of August...

1 - Visitors!
We had our yearly summer visit from the Brodeurs and Georgia loved every minute of having "the boys" attention...

Sharing a snack with Nathan

Hanging with Matthew

Hugs with Auntie

We visited the International Spy Museum and the National Archives and just ran around the city having fun.  Although I've been to the Spy Museum a bunch of times, this was my very first time in the Archives.  Bottom line - it was awesome and very cool!  We may have come home and immediately watched "National Treasure" after Georgia went to bed.

Checking out the US Navy Memorial

Hunting down spies!

2 - My big girl

As much as this child can drive me crazy some days, she is also the most lovable little huggy bear that I know.  I'm so glad that we got to spend the summer together and I cannot BELIEVE that she is headed into her final year of PreK and will be off to Kindergarten next fall!  She is pretty darn excited to be a "Butterfly" this year.

3 - Gaithersburg Bohrer Park
Before we jetted off to Disney, Georgia and I spent one of our final days home at Bohrer Park.  She loved all the water slides, fountains, pools, etc.  It was a nice change from our community pool and it was a great deal on Groupon!  It made me even more excited to see her at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon because she was so excited to spend the day in the water.

If you are local to MoCo, check this place out!

4 - Reading
We spent the whole summer visiting the library and I LOVE that Georgia LOVES to read and is so interested in books.  Although our schedule is much busier during the school year, I hope we can continue our summer tradition of hitting the library every few weeks.  She loves to check out non-fiction books about animals.

5 - SkyRobics
A group of neighbors and I tried out a super fun aerobics class at our local SkyZone called Skyrobics.  The class was no joke - I could barely walk the next day!  But we had a blast.  Neighbors that jump together... get sore together???

6 - Elsa/Anna
I couldn't publish this post without at least mentioning one Disney memory... Elsa/Anna.  Since we started talking about Disney, it was all Georgia wanted to do - meet Elsa/Anna!  Most importantly, she couldn't wait to show Elsa her dress, crown and wand.