I ran across this post today from a very dear and trusted blogger on Gratitude. I know gratitude is one of my love languages so it spoke to me. And I thought what a very appropriate thought for Easter weekend as He gave His life so that we may live. Thank You Jesus! Happy Easter everyone!
Habits, whether good or bad, start off as thin as a single strand of hair – easy to snap. However, if we continue with the behavior, that same strand-like habit will grow to be strong and sturdy like chain links – difficult to break. Having an attitude of gratitude is a habit. This is a habit that I am constantly working toward; it is not easy. It takes work. It requires reflecting, sifting through life experiences, and being aware that there is value in all my interactions. It is not easy to be in gratitude when negativity steps in, when there is illness, death, or when bad news comes our way. However, I know if I search within, there is always something for which I can be grateful.
Over the years, I’ve attempted to keep a gratitude journal, but after a short period, the journaling of my thoughts became a…
Yesterday I started to tell you about our quick trip to Disney World over a long Valentine’s weekend last month, specifically our visit to the Animal Kingdom.
So, as we follow our heroes on Saturday, we find them getting up at daybreak, wolfing down some breakfast, and catching the local park bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
They are about to become stars!
Truthfully no. Mommy is just very thrifty and she likes to get there when the park opens so we can beat the crowds and ride as many rides as possible before the park fills up.
Introducing Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the crack of dawn:
Well done Mom!
But this time no early entrance or song and dance routine before the park opens.
Just a little bit of waiting….
I hear good things follow when you ride on Rt. 66
Mom’s plan worked. We had our Fast Passes set for 9am so we had an hour to kill before then and see how many rides we could get on while the wait lines were at a minimum.
Skylar didn’t like the Hollywood Towerof Terror last June so Dylan and I opted for that one while Mom and Skylar raced to the Great Movie Ride.
Race you down Rt 66 to the Hollywood Tower of Terror
Well, Dylan and I won and wound up being first in line for the day for this crazy elevator free fall.
Right up front
We were in and out so fast that we ended up finding Mom and Skye still in line at the Great Movie Ride.
Now last June this ride was a surprising favorite as it takes you through various elaborate, feel-good scenes in many famous movies and actually getting caught up in a 1930’s gangster movies skit shoot our.
And I like a good movie so I really enjoyed this trip through Hollywood Studios.
Do you like movies too? Here is a movie trivia question for you….
How many movies can you name the title to in the Great Movie Ride’s Grand finale?
So now refreshed, energized and up beat (after sitting down through the ride) and the caffeine kicking in we were ready to conquer Hollywood Studios.
First on the list is a meet and great with none of other than Mr. Disney, the star of the show, the man, er, the Mouse that started it all, Micky Mouse!
But first, a Hollywood glamour shot of the future stars!
And we found out we were not the only would-be stars headed to the launch bay…
We came out and bumped into another Disney photographer who promised us something special in his photos…. a little magic dust. Now we didn’t know exactly what that meant, but we shrugged our shoulders, and full of the force within us, we said OK.
(I have been searching for some sort of magic dust for years now).
Well low and behold look what happened next!
I know, I know, hard to believe, isn’t it?
Next up on the map was a meet and great with Buzz Lightyear and Woody! Its gets me excited just thinking about it…
Yea, that’s right, I’m a Big fan!
This took us up to our second Fast Pass the Buzz Lightyear’s Toy Story Midway Mania. Folks, this is the longest wait time in Hollywood Studios. When we were there the wait time exceeded and hour to 90 minutes all day. Honestly, I don’t understand it. Not for this ride. But this trip, and this ride are truly for the kids. So why not?
And so after shaking Buzz Lightyear’s hand we helped him save the galaxy from the terrible invader Zorn!
ok.. maybe I did have a good time and got into it a little too much. (I so beat Dylan’s score)
So we came out, I hit the shops with my winnings for family high score while the girl’s waited outside and built a snowman
The girls got nice and cold, dare I say, “Frozen” , which took us over to our last Fast pass, the Frozen Sing-a-Long.
Now some folks may know what I feel about this…
What little girl in the US, ages 4-14 does not know the movie and every sing word to each and every song by heart? THIS attraction then should be the mecca of every young girl in Orlando.
Capitalize on the fame and wealth of the Frozen movie. Create a sing-along to the movie and throw it in one of the less visited parks and viola, the park is a success.. Plus you may sell a few more thousand CDs at the end of the show too.
OK, I may be getting cynical here a bit. But if you love your little girl and you want to see the best smile on her face, let her sit through a presentation of the movie Frozen where you get a chance to sing a long with every song. That smile is priceless. Or as they like to say in Disney World,
I would say, ‘take a look’ but some non-Disney photographer was holding his camera the wrong way apparently. But if you want to see a glimpse of the show, its special effects, and that coveted smile, tip your screen on its side and take a look:
And it really is a great, Broadway type show. The acting is great! The singing is even better. Its funny!
So if some of you are out there and think you are tired of hearing about Frozen, tired of seeing all their Frozen swag, tired of hearing their songs…
Really, get over it… its all about the smile on the kid’s faces…
Now, next up for some excitement was my turn. We went from Frozen to red hot!
The attraction boasts of Hollywood stuntman and drivers putting on a show and the showing you the secrets to how they pull off some extreme stunts in Hollywood.
Ladies and gentleman, this is what I want to be when I grow up! I scare my girls on the way to school now if we are running behind with my ‘extreme’ driving (just kidding mom and dad).
This attraction was everything I though it would be and more. They even brought out the most famous race car, Lightning Speed McQueen.
That extravaganza took us right up to dinner time. We made reservations at a restaurant on property, Hollywood and Vine. This is another ‘table service’, character themed, buffet restaurant that the nice person helping to set up our reservations suggested. Folks, it was another great experience!
And who is there to great us, the famous maitre de himself…
this mouse really gets around!
Good readers out there, I know world-wide non-Americans frequently view Americans as a culture of living in excess. And I am here to tell you….that was me at this restaurant!
It was great!
Our kids found their new favorite dish and it starts with the letter ‘L’.
And that stands for Lobster Mac and Cheese!
And then, AND THEN… not only was there a dessert buffet (you know how I like a buffet), it had a chocolate fountain at the dessert buffet too….
Yes DESSERT was so intense that I couldn’t stand up straight!
Do you think the kid’s enjoyed their first chocolate fountain at all…
Like Father like Daughter
Yes, that’s a chocolate dipped marshmallow in her mouth from a plate of various cheesecakes and chocolate treats….plus that bowl of ice cream on the plate…I see a sore belly coming on later tonight.
Yes, living in excess.
Now folks, here is where I lay the Disney meal plan out a little bit. At first glance it appears to be too pricey but….
Do you know how much that nice dinner buffet costs for two adults and two kids at a character themed restaurant where ‘table service’ means a server will get you drinks and clear your table of plates?
The ticket on this meal came to just over $125… for a buffet. But since we were on the meal plan we didn’t even need to get out our wallets…or wash dishes.
But imagine if you walked into this ‘buffet’ and they handed you a ticket like that at the end for a buffet or at the end of your day?
I think we paid about $170 for my family per day on this meal plan, which includes one ‘Table Service’ meal, one ‘Casual Service’ meal and one snack and drink per day. And there are some great ‘casual’ dining places to eat for lunches there too. To me its is a no-brainer, you can travel the parks and not have to worry about money or how much or where to, its all taken care of for you with the meal plan.
3 Reasons for getting on the Meal Plan:
To make trips feel all-inclusive. This is why our family likes the DDP. When your food is pre-paid, it can make your trip more fun when ordering isn’t about checking prices so closely and worrying about the tab.
Sometimes it’s free. Disney sometimes offers the Free Dining promotion (usually in fall) which allows guests to get the DDP for free. If you book a trip using the Free Dining promotion, you give up the ability to use other promotions. People staying in Deluxe Resorts are usually better off using a room discount than Free Dining.
To save money. If you play your cards right, you can actually save money on food by purchasing the DDP and then eating meals that cost more than the DDP. i.e. $125 dinners.
And when you take worrying about funds out of the equation on a vacation all you have to worry about is fun.
And the girls had plenty of that meeting even more Disney characters at Hollywood and Vine...
Yea, ‘Characters’ about sums it up…..
They weren’t worrying about money. They had their fun as our Disney Adventure Continues….
I apologize. I have all but shut this blog down. it has just been like work trying to crank a post out lately. Like tonight, dinner, wash heads for lice on both kids, laundry, pay bills and now write. And what I have found is when I am tired my typing just goes out the window! …. have you seen it?
But I got tired of looking at the 3-year-old Christmas retread, which was my last post, every time I checked out my blog and I just had to fix that.
So I wanted to tell you about our latest trip to theMagic Kingdom in Orlando, FL that we took for a Valentine’s weekend (Mr. Romance!) and try to liven this blog up with some smiles and some color.
Actually I thought I would try to spread our trip across three blog posts as the Disney photographers and I have a gazillion photos to harass you with. Tonight, however, my eyes are already starting to close, I can’t find my typing, and the creative juices have about dried up.
So I thought I would just be your guide around Disney’s Animal Kingdom once again and let some pictures do the talking for me….
Oh, and another thing, this baby probably isn’t going to get proofed to well tonight either. Its late. So all you grammar Nazi’s out there can you please cut me a break just this one time?
OK, so Valentine’s Weekend is actually a pretty big weekend at the Magic Kingdom.
Accordingly all the parks opened an hour early. BUT! Not everyone knew that! Which was pretty cool for the day we did visit the Magic Kingdom theme park.
At the Animal Kingdom we arrived about an hour early, knowing they actually let you in the park… a little ways at least, 30 minute early.
We opted to hang on the fringes of the park at the Rain Forest Cafe, browsing through their souvy shop, practiced telling the kids NO, and listened to a talking tree.
The Rain Forest Cafe is so cool, isn’t it?
Well we walked right up to the big main gate(s) by the Tree of Life as the opening hour drew near.
Tree of Life and some colorful birds flying in to open the park
The Tree of Life, I’m not quite sure what it is but it has a lot of very interesting carvings all around the tree. Our Disney photographer for the Memory Maker perk told us then, when the park opens a flock of parrots actually fly in to rest in the tree of life and that opens the park.
Parrots fly into the Tree Of Life to open the day in the Animal Kingdom
That was pretty cool I thought. Then we turned around to start our day and almost tripped over a few Disney celebrities rough-housing a bit before the crowds got too big.
The Animal Kingdom is really similar to Tampa’s Busch Gardens with the animals and rides. The most sought after ride is actually a safari, the Kilimanjaro Safari. So we hit that first while we were over in Africa.
I love Africa! I love the fun African music.
These guys were fun!
While in Africa you can also walk through some large zoo like exhibits; elephants, lions, birds, gators, and even a large spread for a family of gorillas.
So you can either take a jeep ride safari or take a leisurely stroll through Africa and take your time sightseeing the animals.
But Africa is not the only thrill or continent at the Animal Kingdom for that matter. After we saw lots of the wild life in Africa we toured Asia next. Asia, now, is the place for the real thrill seeker! It is the home to Mt. Everest!
The Mt Everest Expeditionwas Skylar’s first roller coaster ride last summer. She did not like it! Maybe it was speeding to the top only to find the tracks were all torn up and mangled. Or maybe it was seeing a glimpse of the Abominable Snowman yelling and taunting us.
What ever it was, she was NOT going up the Expedition Everest ride this trip and risk life and limb!
The Expedition Everest ride is my, as well as the house favorite roller coaster at Disney. Here is a little of the Abominable and what she missed:
Yea, maybe a little intense for a five-year old.
After the ride and a creative, musical, incredible puppet-show thingy presentation of Nemo we hiked back over to Africa to one of my favorite places we ate at last June, the Tusker House.
The Tusker House is an African themed buffet. And it is really good!
Did I tell you I like an all-you-can eat buffet?
This buffet however is a Disney character themed restaurant which means some of the lovable Disney characters come over so you can get your picture taken with them.
Me and the rest of the family acting Goofy!
That also means these buffets are triple the cost of a normal buffet (get on the meal plan)
They have a dessert buffet, filled with lots of, dozens of, hundreds of tiny desserts you can sample.
(sigh) I put on five pounds walking around Disney that weekend…
I love a dessert buffet
Yes, good people, I had a few. I had a few too many! They had to cut me off!
But everyone enjoyed the Tusker House, the good food, Disney characters and desserts. Everyone was all smiles!
We can walk it off, right?
We walked it right around the corner to the Lion King Show.
“Hakuna Matata! Right? That’s their motto!”
“Whats a Motto?”
“I don’t know. What’s a motto with you?”
This show was our family’s favorite show too. It wasn’t a musical like you would think of. It was a great monkey gymnastics, singing, circus, character shout outs extravaganza. Check this out, your kids will love it….
Well our kids did love it! Again, all smiles!
We rode a few more rides and then headed back to the Rain Forest Cafe for dinner. It was a great first day on our Valentine’s Vacation getaway (we don’t celebrate Valentines at our house.)
I have a few more days to share with you. So stay tuned. If you have any questions about visiting the Magic Kingdom, ‘where everything is magical’, let me know..