Sunday, December 8, 2013

Disney 3: Studios & Sunshine

Those who were following along during our "help!" planning plea to Facebook know that one of the biggest questions we were grappling with was where to actually spend our time (and money) while at DisneyWorld. We knew we wanted to do two days at Magic Kingdom, but that third day baffled us. In the end, we ended up deciding to spend the extra day at Hollywood Studios - mostly because our kids are still more into the Disney Junior characters found there than they are the Disney Princesses found elsewhere. We knew Josie would love Epcot, but we weren't sure about Beatrice. We decided to save Epcot for next time and we SOOOO made the right decision!

On Friday morning we ventured out early with a plan to take the boat shuttle over to Hollywood Studios. It was the girls' first real look at the back half of the Dolphin hotel in the sunlight and they were totally dazzled by the rows of huge palm trees, gigantic fountain, waterways and sunshine. Our Magic Kingdom memories from the day before ensured we had another awesome day ahead of us. We were all giddy with the thought of another day!

I managed to capture some of Bea's best "WHOA" expressions - repeated countless times across the span of our days at Disney.

After a little planning hiccup, we grabbed a cab to Disney Studios instead, because we had an important breakfast reservation to keep. The outside of the park was all set-up for the release of Monsters U, which was perfectly timed because the girls and Lou watched Monsters, Inc. for the first time on the plane ride down to Orlando.  They had fun playing with these familiar faces. (Sidebar: You sort of haven't lived until you've heard Beatrice say "Mike Wazowski".)

We were all smiles as we entered the park, where the girls knew we were having breakfast but knew very little else.

See, Hollywood Studios is the home of Disney Play & Dine - where the kids' favorite TV (err, ipad) characters reign supreme. It was sort of the best place on earth for the wee one set.  A kids' height buffet with Mickey Mouse shaped waffles and all the fixings, and circulating characters that came right to the table to say hi, sign autographs & pose for photos.  As you can imagine, as soon as the girls realized what was about to happen, they couldn't believe it!
Jake (& the NeverLand Pirates)

Special Agent Oso (and Bea's face!)

Handy Manny

June (of The Little Einsteins)

And, then, the happiest moment of their little lives happened. For a good six years now, we've had a little one who stops everything and hops up to dance whenever 'The Hot Dog Dance" comes on (as it does at the end of every Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode). So, when the girls found out we were going to DisneyWorld, "Will we get to do the Hot Dog Dance?" was one of their first questions. We promised they would, so thank goodness they did!!!

After a pretty amazing breakfast, we set out into the park. Truth told, that part was way less impressive than the walk into Magic Kingdom.  We grabbed fastpass tickets for the only real ride appropriate for our kids' ages there - The Toy Story Mania - and then headed around for a little walk.

Then a very favorite Disney memory happened!

Storytime:  Josie really wanted to wait in the 20 or so minute line to meet Buzz Lightyear and Woody, but Bea wasn't that into it. She wasn't thrilled with the idea of waiting in line, especially when that meant Buzz (who can be a little intimidating if you're two) was the reward for her patience.  So, Beatrice and I headed outside the window to wait for Josie's turn where we'd watch from behind the glass. It wasn't long before Josie had her chance! Josie was so cute & happy with them, and Bea was second-guessing her decision to miss out on the fun...

...Then GUESS WHAT HAPPENED? Buzz looked at Josie, pointed at her dress, then looked at Bea and pointed at her matching dress. Then walked over to the glass and put his hand up on the window for Bea to touch. When he realized Bea wasn't afraid, he turned himself sideways and hobbled OUT THE DOOR (with his handler trying to pull him back in) to pat Bea on the head, put a kiss on her nose and escort her in.  Bea was smitten. And we ended up with another round of photos, this time with our whole family. Thanks Buzz! That was some pure Disney magic that none of us will ever forget.

As per our plan, we spent the morning hanging out at Hollywood Studios. It's true, it would be VERY hard to spend a whole day there with kids this age, but it worked in perfect harmony with our plan for the day.
Muppets 3-D

The other reason we knew we had to do Hollywood was this Disney Junior Show with Doc McStuffins, Sophia the First, Jake & the NeverLand Pirates and Mickey Mouse & Friends! They were more than a little amazed to see their familiar faces "live."

Jake drops gold doubloons. 

Before leaving the Studios and heading back to the hotel for a break, we had some really amazing ice cream bars.

As per the plan, since it was well into the mid-80s and since our hotel had a really amazing pool/beach/playground set-up, we spent the morning at Hollywood Studios, took a break for lunch and pool time at the hotel, then headed back to Hollywood Studios in the evening for more fun!

It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day!

After a nice couple of hours away from the parks, we headed back to the Studios to use the fastpasses from the morning!

Of all the rides in our three days at Disney, Toy Story had the longest line. Our fastpass window that we picked up at 10am wasn't until 4:30pm.  Once we got inside and Bea realized there were 3D glasses involved, she was having NO part of it. We were all a little disappointed, because Lou & I both wanted to ride it and knew we couldn't if Bea bailed. But, with an understanding sigh, I headed out with Bea and sent Josie & Lou on their way.

Then, more Disney magic happened. One of the workers realized what was happening and handed me a RideSwap pass so that I could immediately get back on the ride with Josie as soon as she and Lou were finished. So, Bea & I waited for Josie & Lou and, five minutes later, Josie and I went for another round. No wonder it's such a popular ride. You wear 3D glasses then move through a kind of arcade where you hit various targets to earn points. Josie whooped me. (Her score is on the right.)

Out of order, but here are a few photos from our photopass. Josie insisted on this one and thinks it is absolutely hilarious.

Meeting the real monsters was so much fun! They were hilarious (and enormous)!  Bea was content to sit this one out.

How tired do they look?!

Then, after a day and a half, the big moment happened. They got to meet Mickey Mouse!!!  Watching the girls meet Mickey was every bit as precious as I ever imagined it would be. They were both bursting with joy!

And then, we met (in Bea's words) "da real red dress Minnie."

After dinner at Mama Melrose restaurant, we headed to the big Fantasmic show. It was the most people we saw in one place the entire week. The show was a true marvel of sight and sound and, for that reason, way too intense in several parts for Beatrice. A couple images were even a bit frightening to Josie, who still can't get the whole way through a Disney movie because the villians are too scary for her.  The show was part light show, part water show, part parade, part concert, part fireworks display and all Disney magic.

Disney definitely knows how to put on a show! We ended the night amazed and exhausted.

It was quite a hike back to the boat shuttle with two girls that insisted on being carried. It was a silent, sleepy, dreamy float back to the hotel where we all crashed HARD and dreamed sweet dreams of the next day at Magic Kingdom that would follow.

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