Friday, June 19, 2015

Rych Fam: Disney Vacation Highlight Reel

I originally thought that I would tell you all the story of our trip to Florida in painstaking detail. You know, one post per day of the trip with a timeline of events and photos to match. But nope.

I just......don't want to spend my time on that.

It's not that I don't want to remember. I do - I really really do - the memories were the #1 thing I was after on this trip. But I've already journaled each day's experience, and I will scrapbook them into our 2015 family album, and treasure them personally. There are Disney bloggers in the world who can give you detailed reviews of rides and restaurants and share tips for the dining plans and traveling with babies, and I feel like I should just leave them to it. Many (many) more people read them on the regular, and that would be worth their time. For me? Not so much. My babies are little, my blog readers are few, and my time is precious.

But I did want to share that - our trip was amazing.

Rych Fam Disney Vaca

All of that crazy-town, hyper-organized stuff I did before the trip paid off big time. I didn't feel lost at any point, because I familiarized myself so well with every place we'd be going. I already knew what my kids would and wouldn't like. I didn't stare at menus for far too long, indecision overpowering me, because I'd already reviewed the offerings. We only waited in line twice on the entire trip (one for Be Our Guest - despite having reservations - and to meet Baymax, which was so, so worth it). Aside from the antsy nature of a toddler being confined to a stroller all day, and agonizing, upper 90 degree heat and mega humidity all day errr day, our trip was phenom.

Here are the highlights, for me:

* Our pilgrimage to Maria's in Bonita Springs for the best enchiladas and fresh guac on the planet.

* A spontaneous golf cart jaunt at dusk, cruising through the golf course in my in-laws community, dodging the sprinklers and getting soaked as lightening loomed in the distance. It was oddly magical and thrilling - Luke was beside himself with happiness. (These pictures are from a daytime cart ride, though - we went on many!)

* Pulling up to our resort in Disney. Everyone was tired and anxious, but everyone's initial reaction was so great. Excitement buzzed through all of us, the littles pointed out the giant Lightening McQueens on the building, and I was nerding out over seeing everything in person while poppy Little Mermaid music was playing. I'll never forget it.

* Seeing the kids reaction to a physical version of Radiator Springs, and the decor in our room. They LOVED it. I think next time we go, we will stay somewhere else (don't get me wrong, we loved it, but I didn't really understand why it was considered a "value resort" until we got there), but it was 200% perfect for the little guys. I'm so glad we stayed there.

* Our first evening there was a rough one, but I remember a couple of things about it that have stuck with me like little bits of comfort. Henry and I took a walk to the gift shop by ourselves, and there was just something novel about seeing all the kids in their pj's shopping in the gift shop, looking for a toy to keep Jake happy through our trip, and seeing the Florida  evening lightening in the distance. I liked having that slower moment with my little H - I don't get a lot of alone time with him. And also - Disney programming includes ABC, and I was able to lie in bed and watch Dancing With The Stars while we fell asleep - which was oddly comforting after an evening when we weren't sure if we could stay (our kids were all sick!)

* The kids excitement at Magic Kingdom was beyond. They loved it so much. Despite the fact that we did absolutely everything on our "must do" list (and even a couple extras!), I think we will spend more time there next year. The kids really wanted to re-do things, and there will be lots more to explore next time.

* The kids liked the Buzz Lightyear ride so much, we went on it again. On our second ride, it broke down, and we were stuck sitting there for a long time! The laser guns still worked while we waited, and I maxed out the score - twice! haha

* Be Our Guest was a moment for me. It was so, so cool to be in there. The food wasn't the best for the kids, but I really, REALLY loved it myself. I wish it wasn't as crowded and crazy as it was, but there was just something special about being there.

* The Prince Charming carousel. All three kids loved it & wanted to go back on. It's such a simple ride you can go on anywhere, but it made them all happy.

* Dinner at Raglan Road. I think it was memorable for all 7 of us (Matt's parents joined us). The food was amazing, the Irish dancers & live music were awesome, Matt's beer snob side was satisfied, dessert was killer - it was a crowd pleaser, and I bet we'll visit it again next time!

* Nemo, Spaceship Earth, and Living With The Land at Epcot. Those were all great!

* Spending time in the UK pavilion in Epcot was a highlight for me. I loved everything about it. The shops (doctor who stuff??? a tea shop??!), the accents all of the cast members had there, the tea garden, the atmosphere. I don't know why I feel so connected to all things British, but I do, and that was super cool for me.

* The melon kakigori in the Japan pavilion of Epcot is still on my mind!

* The Disney Card meet & greet was amazing. If you don't have a Disney Card, it's worth getting one just to do this. The wait was super short, and then you get one-on-one time in a private room with Disney characters. Ours were Mickey & Goofy. We also got a free family photo with all of the boys looking adorable. It was so, so, so worth it!

* Dinner at the Garden Grill in Epcot. The food was SO GOOD - I loved every single bit of it. The characters came around twice and interacted really well with the kids. They actually kept Jake entertained enough for me to eat with both hands for one meal! lol Our waiter was really great (he even told us some recipe secrets!), and the rotating room was super cool, and slow enough that you didn't feel it happening. It was perfect. I would definitely do dinner there again.

* Overall, Hollywood Studios might have been my favorite day. It seemed to be the least busy, and have the most character opportunities. Though really, the kids didn't get really into the character thing until they started collecting signatures late in the day at Epcot. I wish there were more rides, so that there was more to do later in the day and more fast pass availability (I couldn't get anything in the afternoon, likely because there are so few rides, everyone scoops them up!). But every ride we went on that day was on our list of favorites. We all LOVED Toy Story Mania - that was SO fun! There was just something special about HS overall that was the best for our family.

* MEETING BAYMAX AND HIRO! You guys. This was the most "Disney" experience, in that we had to get in line super early and then stay there for 40 minutes before doing what we came to do. But it was SO WORTH IT! The 2 big boys and I sat in line and ate snacks while we made friends with a pair of 20 year old BFFs who were madly in love with Baymax. They chatted with Luke about the finer points of Big Hero 6, which was pretty hilarious to witness. But seeing Baymax in person - giving him a hug (he's seriously squishy), and seeing the way my kids all stared at him with equal parts joy and disbelief, was incredible, and probably one of my very favorite moments of our entire trip.

* Breakfast in the resort restaurant on our last morning was a moment I won't forget. We scored a table near the window that overlooked the massive Nemo pool, and the early sunlight was gorgeous. We saw families in their matching t-shirts walking towards the parking lot, their days in the parks just beginning, and though it was sad to be leaving, it was kind of nice to reflect on the excitement and fun we'd had by seeing it on their faces. The kids were happy, eating their character waffles, while other tired but happy families sat nearby. It might sound like a sad moment, but I was happy to slow down and have one more little Disney experience before we had to leave.

* We still had a day in Florida to enjoy, and after the drive back to Matt's parent's house, we spent the day in and around the pool. I floated around with Jake (who had just gotten back into dry clothes after being in his bathing suit and wanted back in - haha), and even convinced my big guys to come in quickly. We had yummy fruit sorbets and made a quick trip back to the outlets. It was a great, slower-paced way to wrap up our vacation.

Despite a few hangups and the exhausting heat, we can't wait to go back! We have a loose dream for what next time will be like - maybe in 2017 or 2018, possibly in a Moderate level resort, and maybe in mid-November, so we can get a taste of Christmas in Disney. I can't wait to plan it!

I'll always cherish this family trip, and I can't wait to make more big memories like these with my boys. <3

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