Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth

I believe that Friday morning was the happiest day of their lives.  I couldn't sleep at all the night before, not wanting to miss the kids when they woke up and came upstairs.  We had our packed suitcases sitting by the breakfast table and the Magic Bands from Disney World sitting on the table.  I did tape it but really, they just sat in silent awe, not quite believing what they were seeing.  So it doesn't make for good video.  But let me tell you, they were as happy as I've ever seen them.

First, before we get to the Disney World part, on Thursday night Ella had her big chorus performance.  They did a beautiful job singing tunes from Hans Christian Andersen movies.

 The little peanut is front and center.

After the concert we went to Ella's favorite sushi restaurant to celebrate the start of our mini-vacation, even though the kids didn't know it at the time.

Once the news was out of the bag, the kids got dressed faster than they ever do on schooldays and we headed out of the 10 degree weather and took the subway straight to the airport.

Our hotel, The Wilderness Lodge, was grand.  

We spent the rest of Friday swimming and exploring the resort.  Then we headed to Downtown Disney for dinner and more exploring.

Saturday morning we rose early to make it to the Magic Kingdom in time for the opening Mickey show.  From our resort we could take a beautiful boat ride straight to the park.

LOVED the Magic Bands!  They are your park tickets and hotel room key.  You can charge anything at all within Disney World on your band.  I never brought my wallet anywhere.

Meeting Merida from the movie Brave.

Saturday evening we took a shuttle over to the Animal Kingdom Resort for dinner.  The resort is set up like a real safari park and you can come very close to real African animals such as wildebeest, giraffes, and zebras.  A nice ostrich kept us company throughout our dinner on the other side of the glass.

Long day.

On Sunday we took a break from the parks and just relaxed at our resort all day.  Believe it or not, the kids were every bit as happy to swim in the pool all day as they were to be in the Magic Kingdom.  There was a crazy waterslide for the kids and a poolside bar for the adults.  Everyone was happy.

We even rented a four wheeled bicycle contraption and rode around the resort and over to the campgrounds.  We happened upon the horse stables where Cinderella's horses are kept and the kids got to take their own pony ride.

The kids doing a scavenger hunt in the resort.  There sure are a lot of hidden Mickey heads around Disney World.

We were all completely exhausted from the day of "relaxing" plus, the Academy Awards were on that night, so we ordered dinner in and watched the Oscars from the comfort of our hotel beds.

Monday we headed to Epcot Center.  I don't know why but Kevin and I both had low expectations and even considered just doing a second day at the Magic Kingdom instead, but we were both pleasantly surprised.  Epcot was really very nice.

 NASA Space Shuttle Simulator

 "Morocco" at Epcot

The kids doing an incredible game.  They're given a cell phone and they have to watch short videos (from Phineas and Ferb) to get clues.  Then they have to find certain things in Epcot and when they're there, they press a button and grand things happen like water spraying out of the moat or an enormous cookoo clock over the German biergarten going off.  People all around would look when the kids would make something happen.  It was a huge hit with them.

We woke up on Tuesday morning to Holden crying in his bed.  He was so sad to have to leave.  It was a long day of travel back home, leaving our 80 degree weather and returning back to snow and cold, traffic and subways.  We went from the airport straight to Wall Street where Ella's class was performing their Mexican Dance performance for a big fundraiser gala.  It was in an enormous ballroom and the tickets were $1,000 a plate.  Her class was chosen out of all the schools and classes in Manhattan.  It was a huge honor.  Ella and her friends were over the moon.  They got to dress up and sit at their own table and eat pizza and watch the entertainment.  They felt so grown up and important.

Only a few parents were able to attend, so I didn't see the performance, but I've been promised photos, which I will post here.

Even though it was freezing out and taxi horns were blaring, walking down Wall Street, seeing the tourists taking photos of the stock exchange, all of whom had come far distances to be here, I didn't feel sad to not be in Florida anymore.  Surprisingly, I just felt really lucky to get to live here and happy to be home. 

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