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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Epcot Day Together

This is going to be a reeeeeallly long post because we had a realllllly full, fun, amazing day! If you divided up our little getaway into thirds I'd say my favorite part was this day, my second favorite was the shopping, and my third favorite was the night at Magic Kingdom. I'm pretty sure Zach agrees with me. Don't get me wrong, we had fun at Magic Kingdom but we had more fun at everything else. I also think I really prefer the parks during the daylight. You lose some of the magic when it's dark! 

When Zach originally scheduled the trip he had us eating breakfast at 8:30. I changed it to 9:30 so we could just enjoy the room and take our time a little bit. It worked out well! I was hurting already by that point. I do well with my foot at home. I baby it enough and tend to not even have pain. But then we go somewhere and I get SO MAD about it. It's just so frustrating to be so limited and to not be able to do anything about it. 

Checking out the resort before breakfast



Whenever people ask me Disney planning questions I often get asked about dining. I LOVE Disney talk but am not helpful in the area of dining. We just haven't eaten on property at very many places. This trip really inspired me and I want to start exploring more of the options available for dining! We visit Orlando enough to be able to eat at the resort locations on occasion! 

Our breakfast was at Whispering Canyon Cafe...located in the lobby of our resort (Wilderness Lodge) It was so good. We loved the vibe of the place (very fun, the waitress hassled Zach and made jokes, it was a great environment!) and the food was awesome. It was, however, a big waste of the dining plan. We could have eaten cheaper just paying out of pocket and ordering less. We had WAY more food than we could begin to eat!


It was an all you can eat served out of a pan!

Who doesn't love Mickey waffles?
As I mentioned. the restaurant had a great vibe. Zach asked for ketchup...and was delivered all these bottles! We heard from others that it gets crazier and crazier and that sometimes it's a whole table top of ketchup bottles. It made us wish we'd asked for more things!

A perk of celebrating your birthday at Disney....lots of cupcakes ;)
After breakfast we waited...and waited...and waited for the resort bus to take us to Epcot. I thought it was so fun that Zach planned for us to spend the day there. We have enjoyed checking it out with the kids but haven't ever seen the full park and wanted to just enjoy all it had to offer! I'm not an expert about resort transportation. So I don't want to hate on it with my limited experience with it...but it was frustrating waiting for the bus. We like having our own car and just parking. I did hear that you can park for free at the parks when you stay on property...but we didn't know that at the time! And we probably wouldn't have done it anyway. We had to leave my breastmilk with the resort since we had already checked out and would have to go back by there to pick it up regardless!
Epcot was also beautifully decorated for the holidays. 





I do not understand the appeal of Stitch? Both my kids go NUTS when they see him?




Our first plan was for me to pump ;) Then we wanted to do the World Showcase. We never even walk that far usually with the kids (we've gone as far as Mexico and that's it!) and we were looking forward to seeing everything Epcot had to offer. I hate, hate, hate that I was struggling with so much foot pain that day as it did limit us. I pushed through and we still had a BLAST but we probably would have done more if I wasn't in pain! 

We went through Mexico, which we've already seen, and then hit up Norway. Of course we are THRILLED about the Frozen stuff being added. I know most people aren't too happy with it. We rode Malestrum once and it was okay...but we love Frozen :)
I think the most fun thing about Epcot was ALL the detail put into every country. We would never have been able to appreciate those details if the kids were with us! So we took our time and explored! 

Grass on the roof
It was neat learning things about the movie that we didn't know. 
Zach's mascot in high school was a Viking ;)
Another thing I really loved learning about was how all the princess movies are based in different countries. It's something you don't think about when watching them! I'll admit it...I'm more excited about Disney knowledge than I am about the cultures of the countries haha. Zach could have spent all day reading about every exhibit but I breezed through 'em real quick and took a foot break while he did his reading then had him tell me the highlights ;) 

I've never seen Mulan in person!
(ps: the girls with her are ADORABLE)
The coolest exhibit was the Tomb Warriors in China.


Germany!
My family heritage is part German and my mom has a coo-coo clock JUST like these! 
I was all joking with Zach about walking down the "Romantic Road" together and when we did we were super pumped about it...it's this whole village with a train running through it. It's one thing we saw on the World Showcase that I for sure want the kids to see!

Italy!!!

I'm sure people who travel love Epcot. It's like revisiting all your favorite places in ONE place! If we hadn't had the meal plan we for sure would have been enjoying the foods! I think our next solo trip should be another day at Epcot to just EAT haha! We LOVED walking through "Italy." It brought back a lot of memories from our trip! 
We also walked through Japan. I LOVE to travel but I've just never been interested in visiting Asia. Aflac is actually going to Japan this year and I was relieved that Zach ended up not qualifying. I'm sure it's awesome once you get there, but it's just not somewhere I've ever really wanted to go? I think the Asian culture is so different from our own that it's hard to appreciate it like we should. I had a step-mom from China for a few years and I adored her and loved listening to her stories about her culture! 

My favorite was Morocco! It was so beautiful and I loved how the gift shop was set up like a mart with incense burning. It was the one area that I truly felt like we'd be teleported to another country. Maybe we need to add Morocco to the list of places we want to visit!
Another place to reminiscing...France!
France had the prettiest holiday decorations! And, again, we had so many great memories of our trip there. (Which we need a re-do b/c I was only 7 weeks postpartum after having Kye haha!)
A lot of our day was about people watching. Disney is a pretty awesome place to people watch. I dare say it's even better than an airport! While I was taking these pictures a lady was beside me also taking pictures. Her son was standing beside her and he kept saying "blah blah blah I'm so fancy blah blah blah" in a French accent. It was hilarious. I tried not to laugh and told Zach to come over so he could hear it too. Priceless. 
The French Santa was so cool too!

This was my favorite part of France. When we went to Paris we did a lot of walking and walked down so many streets that looked exactly like this. I also loved the trees there. I assume they are fake, right? Because they were perfect for Spring/Fall in Paris! 
I also know the kids would have LOVED to see Mary Poppins!!!
I need to go back and scan all my pictures from my trip to England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales back when I was in middle school. I'd love to travel to England with Zach as I think he'd really enjoy it! 
For some reason this makes me laugh out loud!
We did the whole showcase. And somehow, I was still able to move haha. We hit up Nemo and then were MEGA early for our lunch reservations at Coral Reef. I'd heard mixed reviews about Coral Reef and was interested to check it out for myself. 
We had a super, mega, extremely long wait. We were about 30 min or so early for our reservation but my foot was just DONE. I had to sit. I couldn't walk anymore for awhile and just needed the rest. But then they took a good 30 min after our reservation time to seat us. We really weren't sure why? Because the restaurant wasn't even full when we got seated? It was strange and a LOT of people were angry. I told Zach we should have complained because those that did were given fast pass for things. But we didn't really need a fast pass anyway! 

I will say that it shocked me the amount of families we saw who had made reservations and then left the restaurant without eating once they saw the kids menu. It's not a typical menu. But that's common for ALL Disney dining! I think it's neat that they have a variety of options for kids meals at every place you go eat. I get it. My kids love chicken fingers and french fries too. And, nope, Coral Reef doesn't have them. Wouldn't you check the menu before booking a restaurant? What a waste of park time waiting to get a table only to leave! And then still have to go eat somewhere!
Trying to get a pic of our Magic Bands haha
We LOVED Coral Reef. Every single thing was awesome. Including our server. She was the BEST service we had the whole trip. I did not like my main course. BUT could have skipped it. If/When we go again I will get the soup. It was soooo yummy and Zach loved his steak!

Meal Plan Perk: Dessert!
Sea Turtle (yummy cheesecake)
Of course a Happy Birthday sign :)
Our waitress was originally from Hawaii so of course we started talking about Hawaii. It's my favorite culture and we discussed it a good bit. She was SO sweet and brought me out a little card that said Happy Birthday in Hawaiian and gave me a light up Ariel :) 
Our favorite Epcot ride is Spaceship Earth! 

Part of the holiday season included special shows and such that were holiday themed. This one group was singing Christmas hymns near the Spaceship Earth and we passed by them singing a couple of times. Don't get me wrong...I'm no singer. But omggggg they were singing this song and it said "hosanna hosanna hosanna" over and over and over and over and it was LOUD and high pitched and there was clapping and I basically wanted to hide. My luck. We walked by them singing that exact song twice. Haha! It was pretty hilarious! 

I wanted to get the kids souvenirs and had a gift card to spend so I went and did a little shopping and Zach went to ride Test Track. 
Being the birthday girl and all I was also able to convince Zach to let me meet characters. Haha! I was so excited to see Mickey!


I love love love this picture. You can see the fun we are having together :) 

Goofy and Zach ALWAYS make jokes!


Zach relates to Goofy in his height and I relate to Minnie ;)


When Zach made the reservations for our trip the Cast Member he spoke with recommended for us to see/hear the Candlelight Processional. Of course we wanted to check it out! Thankfully there is a boat that can transport across World Showcase to help my foot from having to walk. The guy who does the voice of Christof in Frozen was reading The Night Before Christmas. It was very cool and beautiful singing. We got there a few minutes late and stood and watched some from the back. It was funny seeing how many kids were SO BORED by it!


We had dinner reservations outside the park so we headed back and on the boat ride back we were being silly and Zach said he thought it'd be funny if anytime someone yawned they sang like Ariel. So he did a little Ariel impression and the boat captain happen to hear him. But she didn't know who it was who was singing. It was SO funny because she kept asking ME to sing and kept saying she knew it was me. Bahaha. I tried to tell her it was Zach but she didn't believe me. And she kept saying what a beautiful singing voice I have! Guess Zach missed his calling as a Disney Princess ;) 
We did a little more shopping before leaving the resort. I bought a book bag last year from Downtown Disney and LOVE the design of it but omg it's so junky. The first book bag didn't even make it through our trip last year. The seam came undone after just a couple days of using it. And this time the zipper broke! I was SO annoyed but thankfully they let me exchange it again. Hopefully the 3rd one will work out better! 

Our dinner reservations were at The Grand Floridian. We ate there for dinner for my 29th birthday and it was beautifully decorated for Christmas. 


Gingerbread House!





When Zach told me he made our dinner plans for 1900 Park Fare I was a little unsure. I mean a character meal? Without the kids? We've never eaten there before and I knew it was dinner with Cinderella and her crew. I wasn't sure if I'd love it or not? But it was so, so, so fun. Zach said it's the best meal he's had at Disney. The food was great! And the characters were AWESOME. Cinderella was just ehh and it was kinda awkward asking for pictures with her when we weren't with any children haha. We made lots of jokes about it and a cast member told us you wouldn't believe some of the weirdos that come through...which makes sense. We spent a lot of our time talking to a cast member who helps the flow of the character meetings go well. She makes sure every character visits every table. Like...that's her job. It was very interesting! The best part of the meal though? The step-mother and step-sisters. Seriously SO fun!

Mary Poppins!
Waiting to go into the meal

Cinderella!

While this meal would, of course, be fun with the kids...it was super fun without them. We were able to really pay attention and listen to the hilarious stuff the characters were saying. It was all cut downs but like under their breath and where the families didn't even catch it. Some examples of stuff we heard:


  • A little girl asked one of the step-sisters (who, btw, are mega offended when you don't know their names...which I don't. Oops!) where Prince Charming was and she responded "Not my husband! Not my problem!"
  • Another little girl came running up to them while they were at another table and they told her to go back to her mother and that she needed to be punished for being rude
  • Then the step mother was talking to a little girl and the little girls sister had a signature book and shoved in front of her sister so she could get the step mother to sign it. The step mother said "Yes! I will sign your book! I will reward you for being so greedy and selfish" hahahaha
I know it may sound crazy that two 30 year old adults enjoyed a princess character meal, but we really did! The food was great and the entertainment was awesome. I DO feel like it was a more rushed character meal though. I've heard a lot of people say they feel rushed in Chef Mickey...but I NEVER have felt rushed. Here though? Yes. We were rushed. Our waitress was horrible. She didn't even wish me a Happy Birthday or anything and literally stood over us waiting for us to pay the check and leave. Rude! 

Also just a side note about the dining plan...people talk about how easy it is and how you don't have to think about the cost. But that's not true. Even with the magic bands and a dining plan you still have to pay the tips. And trust me, the tips make it VERY clear how much you're spending on that meal!!! I think at lunch we did 20% and it was over $20 for the tip. So I mean we def thought about the cost! 

This was the louder of the two sisters...she was the one getting most of the spotlight so, naturally, we liked the other sister better ;)


She was awesome :) 


If I ever worked at Disney I'd so want to be the step-mother or step-sisters. It must be SO FUN!

On the way back we had to go to Magic Kingdom to get transportation to our resort. The timing worked out awesome as we ended up getting to see the light show on the lake and got to watch it on our ride back as well! It's one of those free Disney experiences and I for sure want the kids to get to see it sometime! 
I took a video of it too :) I knew Britt would LOVE the crocodile!
We got back to the room and got my prized breast milk then headed to our other hotel for the night. Going from a fancy resort to a $35 a night cheap cheap hotel was def a bummer! We got spoiled!!! Luckily we were too tired to really notice :) 
For my birthday present Katie had gotten me a Disney gift card which was SO thoughtful! She told me to spend it on something I wouldn't usually buy. I took this very seriously and was on mission ;) I am not a big fan of Disney themed clothing. I rarely even have my kids wear it unless we're at the parks. So I don't ever wear it either and typically don't even wear any myself at the parks either. I was excited to find this really cute necklace and earring set and it had "hidden mickeys" on it! Just my style...a little touch of Disney but not an obvious touch!
I cannot express enough how wonderful of a trip we had. It was HARD for me to leave Tess with her being sick. BUT it almost forced me to have a better time because I appreciated so much that Mrs Charlotte was keeping the kids for me and didn't want her efforts to be in vain. I wanted for it all to be worth it and if I was miserable then it'd be such a waste! This may sound silly but I often look back at our trips just Zach and I and regret not being more "in the moment" with him. I'm not a natural physical affection type person and it takes a conscious effort for me to be "lovey dovey." I really made it a goal during this trip to be all about Zach. To really look at him. Really listen. Touch him often. We held hands more than I think we ever have and we laughed so, so much together. It truly felt like we were back in the early dating days of our relationship. I'm so thankful for him. And it meant the world to me all the thought and care he put into planning our trip. We had THE best time. Probably one of our favorite trips we've had together ever!!!

So thankful to come home to a much better feeling baby girl :) She loved her new Minnie ;)

We had one snack credit left on our meal plan...did you know you can use snack credits at the gift shops for food items? They had to be under $5 so we got each of the big kids a Frozen rice kris pie treat. Which were $4.99 each. I mean I'd never spend that but it made for a great gift for them and didn't cost us any extra money out of pocket! We also gave them our resort cups...which we never used. I don't really get when you would use them? Nor did we see a place to fill them? Maybe if you're at the pool all day or something? 

So grateful for my amazing husband who puts so much care and love into his gift giving for me. He really knows me so well and that's such a blessing to have in a husband. He wants me to be happy and strives to make sure I always know how much I'm loved and appreciated! I only hope he, too, feels the love I have for him and appreciation I have for all that he does! I'm also SUPER thankful for my amazing mother in law who allows us these opportunities to reconnect. I hope that I can be half the mother in law to Kye's wife someday that she is and that I can be as hands-on and involved with my grandchildren like she is with hers. 

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