Sunday, March 27, 2011

Disney Vacation

Well it's back to reality after a wonderful vacation in the world of everything Mickey Mouse... Disney World! We returned early this evening after driving back from Orlando and picking up our dogs at Grandma Ruth's house. It's been a long day and we have a lot of unpacking to, but I'd rather write about our vacation.

A little background information:
My friend Stephanie and I wanted to do something special for our kids' 1st birthdays. Stephanie's son Connor will be 1-year-old on April 7th, just two days after Bella. We ultimately decided to plan a long weekend at Disney World. We booked a townhouse, using the website home away and planned a few meals at the various parks. 

Wednesday: Downtown Disney
Stephanie and I packed up her mini-van and headed up to Orlando with Connor and Bella in tow. I was quite proud of our organizational skills. We were on the road by noon and arrived in Kissimmee just after 3:00pm, after a brief stop at Target for a few last minute things and lunch at Steak and Shake. We hit the road and arrived safe and sound. Both of the kids took naps, which made for a quiet and enjoyable car ride. We met the property manager and received the keys to the townhouse and proceeded to unload a mini-van full of "stuff". We had dinner at Downtown Disney and walked around for a bit. Our husband worked all day and joined us at the townhouse shortly after we returned home from our outing. We were all exhausted so we called it a night and went to bed. 

Thursday: Magic Kingdom
We had an ambitious day planned and were in the Magic Kingdom by 9:00am. Stephanie and I ordered Connor and Bella ADORABLE his and her outfits for the day from our new favorite website Etsy. We took pictures and mapped out our day. We got our fast passes for Space Mountain and proceeded to ride a few rides with the kids. We took them on the carousel, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger, the Haunted Mansion and the Tomorrowland People Mover. Bella has been on most of these rides before, but since she is much older and more aware since the last time she's ridden these rides. She sat on our laps, held onto the lap bar and giggled at the various sights she took in. The adults (sans Stephanie) rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and then it was time to head to Main Street for lunch at the Crystal Palace. Stephanie and I had made reservations for a lunch with Pooh & friends at the Crystal Palace. It was so much fun and Bella LOVED it! She loved seeing the characters walk around from table to table and loved interacting with the characters when they approached our table. Lunch was awesome and truly the highlight of our day. The adults (sans Stephanie) rode Space Mountain and literally screamed like we had never ridden it before. They revamped Space Mountain and it is AWESOME! I won't give away too many details on what is different, but it was great. The kids really enjoyed themselves, as did the adults, but we were all exhausted and headed back to townhouse for dinner. 

Mama Lasher, Baby Lasher and Daddy Lasher
Stephanie, Connor and Scott / Ian, Bella and Kim (duh!)
Bella lovin' on Eeyore at the Crystal Palace

Friday: Hollywood Studios
We got an early start and were at Hollywood Studios as soon as it opened. The guys ran to Toy Story Mania to grab fast passes and we ended up riding the ride after only waiting 35 minutes. It was well worth the wait because Bella was giggling and smiling the entire time. She loved the spinning and helping daddy hit his targets. Connor didn't enjoy the ride nearly as much as Bella and was climbing up on his daddy most of the ride. We took the kids to the Disney Jr. show and it was super cute. I've never really watched this channel, but Bella enjoyed the singing and dancing characters and I had the songs stuck in my head for the remainder of the day. We had lunch reservations at the 50's Primetime Cafe and had a blast. We laughed and joked around with our waitress, "Mom." After lunch we returned to Toy Story Mania and used our fast passes to bypass the 75 minute wait. Bella laughed and smiled again and helped me hit my targets. The adults (sans Stephanie) rode the Tower of Terror twice and we left the park after doing some shopping. Everyone was exhausted and so we headed back to the townhouse to relax and unwind.

Thank goodness for the Ergo baby carrier... waiting in line.
Lunch at the 50's Primetime Cafe!

Saturday: Epcot
We took our time getting to Epcot because it's usually the least crowded park. We got a late start because Bella woke up at 4:45am and was down for a nap by 7:30am. She took a 2 hour nap and we finally left the house around 9:30am. We took a few pictures and found the Freedman's legacy picture at the entrance of Epcot. We then made our way to Japan for lunch at Teppan Edo. We "enjoyed" our overpriced lunch and the kids were entertained throughout the entire meal. I use the term "enjoyed" loosely because the restaurant was refurbished a few years ago and it's a totally different place. They don't include miso soup and/or a salad in the price of your meal and they also serve white rice instead of fried rice. We also felt very rushed and the portions were somewhat small. But we enjoyed the time together and Bella enjoyed her first experience in a Japanese restaurant. After lunch we met up with our friends, Sarah and Shawn and their son Taylan. Shawn had never been to Epcot so we took him on Malestrom in Norway, while Sarah waited with Taylan as he napped. We continued making our way through the world showcase and stopped in Mexico to ride the Grand Fiesta Tour. After the ride, we treated ourselves to margaritas, nachos and churros. We parted ways with the Hills after our snack and decided to wait in line to meet the characters. Bella and Connor met Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto. We headed out of the park after this because everyone was tired and hungry.

The Lasher Family at Epcot
Just Bella and me... 

Sunday: Animal Kingdom
We packed up our belongings and loaded up our mini-vans in the morning and headed to Animal Kingdom for lunch. The Freedmans arrived at the park before us because, as usual, Bella was taking a nap because she was up early that morning. We met up with the Freedmans just in time to have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. The kids LOVED the animals and the loud noises they heard throughout lunch. After lunch we went inside the park to take a few pictures and do a little shopping. Bella has been to Animal Kingdom several times so we didn't do too much at the park. This day was really bittersweet because it was the last day of vacation and I knew that tomorrow it would be back to reality. We were on the road by 1:00pm and were back in Tampa by 2:30pm. We picked up our dogs and headed home to unpack and decompress from vacation. 

It was REALLY sunny this day... 

Some mouse ears for Bella!
We had a WONDERFUL vacation and we enjoyed spending our vacation with our friends, the Freedmans. We can't wait until next year... or our next vacation.

We have a busy week ahead of us... appointments for me, appointments for Bella, Pop's arrival and Bella's 1st birthday party. So little time, so much to do! Wish me luck.

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

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