After a day of travel and our first not-so-great night in Orlando, we were all anxious to get our vacation started! Like I said in my first Disney post, I put a lot of planning into our trip because I just wanted everything to go as smoothly as possible. We had pre-purchased tickets for 5 days in the parks, and we knew we wanted to visit Magic Kingdom (for 2 days), EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom for sure. I used this website to determine what crowd levels were at each park on the days we would be in Orlando, and used those numbers to help me plan which park we would visit on which days. The crowd levels were overall very low during this time of year, so that was not our only deciding factor. Chris and I decided that we would do EPCOT on our first day, and the main reason for this is because we thought it would have the lowest appeal to the kids. We didn't want to to start at Magic Kingdom and then have them be super bored or disappointed in EPCOT later in the week.
We got up around 7:00am and rushed around to get ready. We wanted to be at EPCOT early, but we didn't want to push the kids too hard with the time change (7am at Disney was 6am to our body clocks). We grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel (where the kids entertained the other hotel guests . . . love it!) and headed to Walt Disney World.
I really tried hard to be in the moment during this vacation and not always behind the camera. Because of this, I don't have photos of us as we crossed under the WDW arches, but this is one of the few instances that I wish I did! As we crossed onto Disney World property, Chris and I erupted in cheers and whoops and that got Brianna and Brenson totally excited, too.
When we arrived at EPCOT (at about 8:30am . . . our hotel was only about 15 minutes away), we were all just so excited to be there. There was no waiting at security or admission, so it was just a few minutes before we found ourselves standing in EPCOT a bit awestruck. Our plan was to begin at The Seas with Nemo and Friends, but we ended up just kind of wandering around for a few minutes and soaking it all in. The park felt practically empty (score! We were thrilled about this!) and we just wanted to enjoy it before rushing off to ride rides. As we were literally just kind of wandering around, a cast member approached us and told us that there was no waiting to meet Mickey at the EPCOT Character Spot.
We couldn't believe our luck! Meeting Mickey felt like the PERFECT inaugural Disney experience, so we immediately headed off to meet Mickey Mouse.
Brianna was beside herself with excitement! We waited behind one family, and she was jumping up and down watching them meet Mickey. As soon as the castmember gave us the go-ahead, she ran right into Mickey's arms!
She was SO happy!
We weren't sure how Brenson would react to Mickey, but he loved him, too!
I'm so glad that I had read ahead of time to always give your camera to the Photopass photographer and they would take a photo for you on your camera for free. That's what this photo is!
Pluto (and Minnie) were also there with Mickey. Brianna was overwhelmed with excitement after meeting Mickey, and had her arms in the air waiting to meet Pluto. It was so precious, but I didn't catch a photo of it. Again, too busy being in the moment :-).
She just hugged and hugged him.
Brenson couldn't wait to have his turn hugging Pluto. I think Pluto was one of Brenson's favorite characters to meet. He kept pulling at his ears and nose until a castmember kindly asked him not to do that anymore.
Next up was Minnie Mouse. Brianna ran right up to her shouting "Minnie! Minnie" over and over again.
I love this pic :-).
This is actually one of the very few photopass photos we purchased. The shot on our camera was terrible, and I thought this one was too good to pass up.
After meeting Mickey, Pluto, and Minnie, we headed over to The Seas. To say that Brianna was excited would be an understatement. She couldn't wait to get on a ride and was totally keyed up after the character meetings.
Once again, there was no waiting for the ride. We literally walked right on! On this ride, you sit in sea shells, so we all rode in one shell (Chris holding Bren on his lap).
No sooner did the ride get going, and Brianna FREAKED out. Chris and I were in shock! She is our daredevil, never scared, no boundaries child. AND she loves Nemo! But she DID NOT love the Nemo ride. At all.
That's Disney magic right there, folks :-).
She cried the entire way through the ride . . . fortunately, it wasn't very long. She especially HATED when the lantern fish "jumped" out. Funny thing: Brianna loves to look at our Disney photos, and the two photos above of her boo-hooing are her favorite. She wants to hear all about what "scared Brianna" every time she looks at them, haha!
After the Nemo ride, we headed to Turtle Talk with Crush. We waited 5 minutes to see the "show" and thought it was so cute. Brianna wouldn't sit down in front with the other kids (still freaked out from the ride), but we all enjoyed it. After that, we walked around the aquarium and watched the divers feed some of the fish before leaving The Seas building.
It was a GORGEOUS day . . . right at 70 degrees and sunny!
After leaving The Seas, we stopped and had a snack (it was about 10:30 by this time . . . everything takes longer with littles) and took a few photos. Love this one:
We decided to go into The Land pavilion next. I'm not a thrill ride person AT ALL, and Chris wasn't interested in going on any rides by himself (since the kids were too little to do any of the thrill rides), but we did both wish we would have done Soarin'. Next time :-). We did the Living with the Land boatride, and it was good. Definitely low-key and a more educational type thing, but the kids did great. I think we waited 20 minutes for this ride.
Brenson was getting super sleepy by this time, so we headed over to Spaceship Earth hoping that he would fall asleep while on the ride (I remembered that is was really dark and slow from when I was at EPCOT once before). After no wait (do you see a trend here?), we got on the ride and he fell asleep almost right away. This is the ride that spirals through the big EPCOT ball, so it was a must-do for us. I didn't take any photos, but we enjoyed it.
So, this is kind of a whole long story, but a guy that I was friends with in middle school named Sean (we went to church camp together) saw on FB that we were planning a Disney trip. After a few private messages, we figured out that we would be at Disney at the same time as he would be there with his two daughters and several friends. We exchanged phone numbers and planned to meet up. Well, we ended up straight up running into him and his crew at EPCOT right after we came off of the Spaceship Earth ride. CRAZY!!! We didn't even know he was at EPCOT that day. So, for just about an hour, we stayed with his crew and got to visit a bit and have a few fun Disney experiences together. I should have taken a photo with Sean, but I didn't even think about it. Apparently, I am a horrible vacation photographer!
On our way to Mexico in the World Showcase, we stopped with Sean and his crew to meet Duffy the Disney Bear. I have no idea who this guy even is? Apparently, he's Mickey Mouse's teddy bear or something.
At this point, Brianna just wanted to meet everyone, so she was happy.
Brenson had literally just woken up from his nap, so he was less than impressed.
After Duffy, our large group trucked on to Mexico where we rode the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros (another boat type ride). It was cute and Brianna loved it.
After the ride, we split ways with Sean and his group and went to meet Mexican Donald Duck. He was so animated and fun!
He danced with Brianna and she really got into it!
He also shook his tail feathers for her, haha!
Donald was one of Chris's favorites as a kid, so he was excited, too.
Love this pic!
As soon as we walked away from meeting Donald, we randomly ran into another person we know. SO strange. This time, it was a guy Chris works with but who works out of an office in another state. While Chris visited with him, I snapped a few photos of the kids.
She was too busy people watching to look at the camera.
I love this shot, though!
By this time, it was a little after noon, so we grabbed a quick lunch in Norway at the Kringla Bakeri og Kafe. It was just sandwiches and fruit, but it filled us up and was pretty yummy (and, while it was pricey for sandwiches, it didn't break the bank!). Before even going on this trip, Chris and I decided that we would be returning to the room each afternoon for naptime. We just thought that it would be best for the kids and help make the trip happier for everyone. Well, once we got to EPCOT, we had SUCH a hard time leaving. We really had to talk ourselves in to sticking with our plan, and it was hard to leave! We were having so much fun!
However, both kiddos fell asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel and had good naps. We got up at about 4:30pm and headed back to EPCOT for the evening. On our way back into the park - as our kids were happily eating a snack and riding in the stroller - we passed child after child after child melting down and screaming with frantic parents exiting the park. We knew then that we FOR SURE made the right decision!!!
We really wanted to see the rest of the World Showcase, so we started in Canada after coming back into the park and worked our way all the way around back to Norway.
Here are Chris and Brenson in the United Kingdom:
And here we are in France in front of the Eiffel Tower . . . only you can't see it in the photo!
Chris used an App on his phone that told us where we would find different characters throughout the day. When he read that Aurora would be in France, we knew we had to find her! Brianna was pumped to meet her first princess! Chris, unfortunately, missed this moment due to a diaper emergency that he volunteered (totally a keeper, I know) to take care of while we stayed in line.
She was so sweet with Aurora and complimented her clothes, tiara, and hair, haha!
After Aurora, it was off to Morocco. The park traffic had really picked up at this point, so it was taking us a little longer to get around.
We thought the architecture in Japan was fun. Notice how we were quickly losing daylight . . . a downfall to visiting in the winter.
However, watching the sun set in the park was beautiful!
Chris had also read that Snow White would be in Germany by the wishing well, so we booked it over to Germany only to miss her by about 1 minute. However, she was going to return in 20 minutes, so we just waited for her. I'm SO glad we did. Here is Brianna telling Snow White about her shirt:
Miss White was very complimentary and Brianna ate it up!
I couldn't believe how much she acted, sounded, and looked like Snow White! Impressive!
Brenson was not that impressed, but I'm glad we got in on a photo anyway.
After meeting Snow, we headed to China for some grub. We wanted something fast and inexpensive, and this fit the bill. It wasn't very good, but we were all hungry and scarfed it right up.
I regretted not taking any photos in Norway earlier in the day, so we went back to Norway so I could do that. I thought this little guy was cute, but Bren hated him. He cried and screamed and had a fit!
Of course, we were right at the exit of the Maelstrom ride and everyone was craning their necks to see what all the fuss was about. Soooo, I just took a photo of Brianna instead :-).
You may notice in the photos above that both of my kids are holding a glow stick. You can buy (for an outrageous price) all kinds of glow things at the park once the sun sets, but I brought my own from home that we purchased at the dollar store. The kids loved them and never asked to buy any of the expensive stuff.
After watching a street dance, we went to Italy for a quick photo op. If it seems like we backtracked and retraced steps a lot, we did. Food and bathrooms dictated our route . . . vacation with kids :-).
At this point, the kids were pretty worn out so we found a spot and ate funnel cake from the United States. It was super yummy, and by the time we finished eating, we only had about 15 minutes before Illuminations. It had really gotten chilly so we all put our jackets on. I thought Bren looked adorable in his Mickey Mouse jacket on Daddy's shoulders.
We had a great view of Illuminations. Everyone but Brenson really enjoyed it, although he did okay as long as someone was holding him. I don't think he loved the noise. It was just as spectacular as I remembered it.
It didn't take us too long to get out of the park once Illuminations was finished which was surprising to us. By the time we made it to the car, both babies were sacked out. I felt pretty guilty about this, but they transferred fine to the car and again to the hotel room. Having fun is exhausting! :-)
Up next: Our day of rest and Animal Kingdom!