Sunday, June 17, 2012

Disney Part III: Chef Mickey's and Epcot

I'm back after a longer-than-planned break, but at least I'm back! M. returned on Wednesday from Kuwait, so the presence of adult conversation made it tougher to dedicate myself to blogging for the last few nights. But rather than shower my husband with the accolades he is due, rant about the kids (I could definitely get ranty after this past weekend), or go on and on about Finn's "graduation" from preschool (I only cried a little), I will resume my vacation summary efforts.

I left off at the end of our first day at Disney, which we spent at the Magic Kingdom. Our second day was launched with a character breakfast - Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary hotel. Our party numbered 16 - six kids and ten adults. Combine that with buffet-style eating and roaming, larger-than-life animals, and it was every bit as chaotic as you might think it could be.

Only about half of us had already managed to get some food from the buffet spread before we were greeted by our first table-side visitor, Goofy:

After the requisite autograph book signing and photo-taking, we all had time to shovel a few bites of food in before we had our next visitor, Donald:

Sorry the Big D.'s head is cut off in this photo - for each character, a different complement of kids decided they were game to pose for photos, and my kids must not have been that into Donald, because I don't have any nice group photo shots of them with him.

Then we were graced by the big guy himself, Mickey Mouse! All the kids were excited to see him (except JoJo - she stayed far away from ALL the characters), though I still didn't manage to get a group photo:

Finn scored all sorts of hugs

This is her excited face

Ned's, too, if you couldn't tell

Minnie was another winner, especially with the girls in the group:

And finally, we met Pluto, who was pretty adorable, but still scared the crap out of JoJo. Here she is hiding her little blond head (bottom right-ish part of the photo) pretty much in her mother's armpit:

After we had all eaten our fill (finally), we headed off to Epcot for the day. Because of the breakfast, we arrived at the park well after opening, probably around 10:30. We headed off to try to get fastpasses for the two most popular rides - Soarin and Test Track. Test Track was already sold out, but we managed to get some for Soarin, though our window wasn't until late in the afternoon. We then proceeded to see as much of Epcot as we possibly could, while also battling a pretty steady stream of rainstorms. The Seas with Nemo, Turtle Talk with Crush, Spaceship Earth, that Imagination ride with Figment - we did pretty much everything that was remotely little-kid friendly. We had lunch at the food court in the Land pavilion, and (after another rainstorm and the Figment ride), made our way over to the OTHER side of Epcot - the World Pavilion.

The World Pavilion at Epcot is one of my favorite places in all of Disney. I love the way each "country" is so detailed and so different from all the other surrounding countries. There is a LOT to see and do, and if one has the time and inclination, a lot to eat and drink, too.

It's a different experience with kids, though, especially tired and soggy kids. We pretty much raced around the entire pavilion, stopping briefly to watch the drummers in Japan, chug down a teeny cup of wine in France, and ride the Three Amigos ride in Mexico (where we ended up drifting aimlessly for a little while during a period of "technical difficulties"). We also let the kids get their faces painted during one of the rare dry spells:

I have never seen the two of them sit so still (and quietly!), EVER. And the make-up turned out great - the kids still like to talk about it (and beg us for more face painting, of course).

We also got some nice family photos:

M. likes to point out that it looks like I'm wearing a big white hat, and then I like to hit him.

Bonus picture of Finn getting tribal (I think this was part of the Canada section, maybe?):

We dashed over in the pouring rain to use our Soarin fastpasses, where we learned that Lucy was about half an inch too short to ride. So M. took Finn on the ride, Lucy cried, and I bought candy to placate her (it worked). Once they were done, I headed back in with Finn for a turn (we did the "parent swap" option that Disney is kind enough to provide for families with small kids), while Lucy apparently cried a lot. The ride was definitely fun (you are suspended up in the are in an IMAX-like theater, and soaring over the state of California), which was fortunate given all the crankiness that we took on in order to experience it. It was after 5 pm by the time we finally turned our weary feet toward the Monorail and home. But a lengthy delay on the monorail kept us from getting back to the hotel until almost 7 o'clock. The evening before we had managed to squeeze in a quick pool trip after the Magic Kingdom, but there was no way to make that happen on this night. It was a really, really long day. Fun, definitely, but really long.

Baths, dinner with the cousins, and bed for the kids ensued shortly thereafter. And M. and I vowed to try to make the next day a wee bit shorter.

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