Okay, I got it done! Before I recount our trip day by day, let me begin with some lessons learned.
- A Disney vacation with 6 adults and 7 children, ranging in age from 17 months to 13 years is not a time for relaxation.
- It rains in Florida every day in June. It's known as the rainy season.
- When you cram 3 panchos into a back pack, it makes it really heavy.
- Strollers are a godsend!
- Carseats are really heavy and difficult to lug on and off an airplane.
- When scheduling a vacation such as this, do not return on Sunday and expect to be at work Monday morning as a fully-functioning human being.
- It's a good idea to pack a carry-on with at least one change of clothing in the event that your luggage is lost by the airline.
Now that we have that out of the way...here goes the recap!
Day One - The Flight & Disney's Hollywood Studios
The flight over to Florida went really well (at first). Elise was a happy camper, and the flight was really smooth. But our good fortune came to a fairly ubrupt end when we got to baggage claim, only to discover that Jamie's suitcase was nowhere to be found. This happened to me once before the last time we went to Vegas. My bag was located immediately and put on the very next flight to Houston and we had it back the same day. So, I wasn't too overly alarmed right at first. Jamie was understandably upset, but we just assumed we'd have the bag later that evening or the next morning. So, we proceeded to the area where we were to catch the shuttle bus to take us to pick up our rental car. One hour and a half later, we finally got the bus. Strike Two. Let me tell you, it was a rough start to the trip, and we were a little concerned at how this boded for the rest of the week. The luggage never did show up and still is lost at this very moment. But everything else did improve, luckily. We checked into our suite and had a beautiful room with a view. That evening we met up with the rest of the crew. Candace & Jeremy brought their kids (Porter, Keaton, and Reese) and Todd & Marcy came along with their little ones (Hailey, Logan, and Hagan). We had a great meal and went to the light show at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Day Two - Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table
This was a definite highlight. We spent half a day at The Magic Kingdom, and Elise finally got to go to Cinderella's Castle! She's been talking about this for months, and let me tell you - it was worth the wait. Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table was fabulous. We were greeted by Cinderella first, and we also got to meet Belle, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. Plus the food was amazing as well as the service. After breakfast, we met up with Angie & Marcos and their kiddos and Maggie & Ryan and their 2 kids. It was so wonderful to see them! The kids rode the carousel, Dumbo, and the teacups. Unfortunately we had to cut things short in order to go shopping for clothes for Jamie. Luckily there was a great outlet mall next to our resort. Once our shopping trip was over, we headed back for swimming and met up with Candace, Jeremy, Marcy, and Todd and all the kids at the pool.
Day Three - Magic Kingdom & Lunch with Pooh at Crystal Palace
Magic Kingdom is really the best park for little kids, so we spent another full day there. This time everyone was along for the fun. The guys were able to ride some adult rides together while us girls took the little kids on some more suitable rides for them. We hit all the famous rides, including Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, the Teacups, etc. Lunch was really good at The Crystal Palace too. Elise was a bit skittish around the characters, but she did warm up to them enough for us to get a few cute pictures.
Day Four - Animal Kingdom & Lots of Rain
Animal Kingdom was my favorite park by far. Each area of the park was made to look like a different region of the world, and they did an amazing job with it. It's a gorgeous park! We went to a really cool Lion King show and did the safari ride. The rain set in around late afternoon, and it never did blow over. Normally after about an hour, it would clear up, but not on this day. We made the best of it, though.
Day Five - Rest!
We took a day off from the parks to hang out at the resort. After a few days in a row of hitting Disney, it was a much-needed break. Jamie got a massage, and we enjoyed laying by the pool, swimming, and a nap. It was great! We had planned to go back up to Magic Kingdom in the evening for the light parade and fireworks, but rain prevented us from doing so. Plan B turned out great, and our whole gang headed to Benihana's for dinner. YUM!
Day Six - Disney's Hollywood Studios (again) & The Hoop Dee Doo Revue
We were back at Hollywood Studios (Jamie's favorite park) to check out more attractions and rides, since we'd only seen the show during our previous visit. They have a really cool Toy Story ride that is in 3D that we all enjoyed. We also took Elise to see a Playhouse Disney show and Little Mermaid show. Those were both really great. They had a few great roller coasters that the guys enjoyed too. Later in the evening we went to a fun dinner show called the Hoop Dee Doo Revue - and Marcy even got pulled on stage to be a part of the act!
Day Seven - More rest, parade, and fireworks
Our last day was supposed to be spent at Typhoon Lagoon (a Disney water park). However, we were exhausted, so Jamie and I stayed behind with Elise to rest. We were able to spend one more day around the resort. Elise got to feed the fish, turtles, and ducks & check out the playground. And of course there was swimming. That evening we went back to Magic Kingdom to catch the parade and fireworks that we had missed earlier in the week. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful trip.
All in all, we had a really great time. We are still trying to recover, but it was worth it. I hope Elise will have some fun memories of her first family vacation.