Monday, February 3, 2014

Disney World 2014

At the end of January, the Spencers took the whole family to Florida for a vacation. We spent 8 days staying in a giant rented house with a private pool and going to theme parks. It happened to be one of the lowest crowd weeks all year at the Disneyworld parks, and we had SO much fun! We were able to hit every park multiple times and every ride multiple times. It was a dream vacation!

All fifteen of us (except Patrick) flew down on the same airplane to Orlando. We were a bit of a circus on the way there (mostly Henry!) but we survived.

We got there late at night and by the time we rented our cars and made it to the house, it was almost 2AM. A few of the kiddos were wired, and a few of them zonked out in the car. So we slept in the next day and then headed to The Animal Kingdom around noon.

First up was a cool bird show, with the best seat in the house (grandpa's lap).

Then we did a Safari ride and drove right up close to some really neat animals. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me! There were no cages or fences, just an open-air jeep riding through their habitat.
Again, with the best seat in the house.

We had to stop and wait for some rhinos to cross the road. So cool.
Then later we experienced our first Disney parade. Henry thought it was cool.
But Emme thought she had died and gone to heaven.

It started to rain that evening, but luckily we came prepared. The kiddos were just getting used to their ponchos in this picture, ha ha. We got lots of use out of them on this trip! But luckily the rain made for smaller crowds in the park, which was awesome.
Braden and Henry zonked out in the stroller and took a good long snooze. The combination of jetlag plus arriving late the night before made them crash hard.
Mom, Emme and Henry on a dumbo-like ride in the Animal Kingdom.
The next day we went to Epcot. It's been probably 12 years since I was here last, and it's one of my very favorite parks.
We of course had to visit Norway. We rode the ride and then Kathryn and I ate some pastries from the bakery. Lefse, waffles, etc. Yum!

Anna and Elsa were at the Norway house. Unfortunately, they had had a three-hour long line every day since the movie came out. Boo! So we snuck into the end of the line through the gift shop and lifted Emme through the curtain so she could sneak a peek. This was as close as we got to them! And luckily she was A-OK with that. Phew.

Epcot was one of the BEST places to meet characters. There were almost no lines if you were in the right spot when the characters came out for an appearance, which happened almost once an hour per character. It was fantastic! First we saw Alice.
Then we saw Mary Poppins. This is Henry asking Mary Poppins if she has lipstick on. Then he told her he also had lipstick on. "I have wipstick TOO!" It was chapstick. :) Mary Poppins looked at me afterwards and told me he was very precocious, ha ha.
Next up was Aurora.
Later in the day we rode the ride inside the big golf ball where you sit in a chair in the dark that takes you through time. Henry got quieter and quieter until I finally looked over and realized he'd fallen asleep on me. He never does that anymore! So I just enjoyed it.
In the afternoon at Epcot, Grandma and Grandpa offered to watch ALL of the kiddos so the parents could venture off and explore on our own. They sat on a bench for almost two hours, playing with the kiddos like this. And we wandered through the countries, ate ice cream and visited exhibits. It was like a date in the middle of the afternoon in the happiest place on earth! So much fun.
The next day was time for the Magic Kindom. Here we are stopping for a snack break.
We visited every princess we could find there. Here we are with Cinderella.
When we were in line for the carousel, the evil stepmother from Cinderella walked up behind us and grabbed Preston's hand and rode the ride with us. It was hilarious and she was so mean, never stepped out of character once. When I turned around to take the picture she said to me, "keep moving lady, you're holding up the line." Ha ha! So great.

Aurora again!
Grandma took one for the team and rode the teacups with all the little kids. I was too pregnant to ride it and everyone else gets sick on spinning ride, so grandma got to be the hero. Shortly after it started, Emme started looking a little green so they had to slow down on the spinning, ha ha.

While walking through Frontierland, Clarabelle the Cow walked up to Emme, grabbed her hand and showed her how to pop her knee like a lady, lol. It was so much fun to get to meet more characters up close when the crowds were smaller!

Henry zonked out in the stroller every day around 5:00. Which meant he didn't go to bed until like 11:00 every night, which was awesome.

One day when it started to rain later in the afternoon, I took the kiddos back home to the house with Stan and Chris and Kathryn stayed and rode rides together. It was like a mommy son date. Chris took this selfie of them on main street together.
My twinner Ariel girls. Emme had a special Disney outfit for almost every day we were there.
The whole group.
Taking a potty and snack break.
Uncle Erik teasing Emme like he always does.
Me probably instagramming pictures. Did you know they have free wifi in all of their parks? Awesome!
Emme and Hannah riding It's A Small World.
Henry and Grandma. (He was either in the stroller or on someone's lap prettymuch the entire week. Which means he was in heaven, the little snuggler.)
Emme and Aurora at the lego store.
Visiting Mickey on Main Street. He talks & interacts with you! It was so neat. I love Preston's reaction in this photo.

 Visiting Ariel. It took us two tries through the line to get to see her. The first time we got almost to the front and then Emme had to go to the bathroom RIGHT THEN so we had to hop out of line. Sadness. And it was a shame because she was wearing her Ariel getup that day! The next day we tried again and I made Emme go potty BEFORE we got in line to see her. :)
A little crack action from Henry. Like father, like son.

Rapunzel. She was awesome. Emme is pointing out the different colors of flowers in her hair. So cute.

The Snow White interaction was my favorite princess visit of the trip! She was so amazing, and Emme was wearing her Snow White outfit that day. She sat and chatted with Emme and Henry for probably ten minutes, it was SO sweet. I <3 br="" her.="">

My two Minnie Mouse girls.
Visiting the Beauty & The Beast interaction. The wardrobe talks!
A very attentive Emme and Henry.
Emme got to play the part of Philipe, Belle's horse.
Belle & Lumiere.
Belle talking to Philipe.
After the little "show" we got to take a picture with Belle. Every time you take a picture in Disneyworld, the photographer hands you a card with the photo number on it so you can look the photo up online later. Henry got all out of sorts because he wanted the card, so Chris handed him a Subway gift card from his wallet. When he walked up there to take a picture with Belle, he held the Subway gift card out to her. She saw it, broke character and threw her head back and laughed. It was hilarious.

My favorite Henry moment of the trip -- meeting Tigger and Winnie the Pooh. He is obsessed with Winnie the Pooh everything. He gave Tigger the LONGEST hug I'd ever seen. It was SO precious. What a sweet boy.

Henry picking his nose while meeting Daisy Duck.
Minnie Mouse.
Donald Duck.
Emme and Chris having a moment. It was such a magical trip for the kiddos. And all of us, really!
Selfie in the rain for mom & Bubba. We were buddies a lot of the time because he was too short for certain rides and I was too large-with-child for certain rides. So we ate a lot of churros and onion rings. :)
Grandpa & Chris carrying Emme and Henry on their shoulders in the rain. I love how Emme and Henry are talking excitedly to each other while they walk. So sweet.
I made a serious plan to not buy a million souvenirs there while we were visiting. I went to the dollar store and the dollar spot at Target, and I bought a little Disney toy or trinket for each kiddo for each day we were there. I wrapped them up and each morning they were both allowed to choose one, and that was their "souvenir" for the day. On our last full day in the park Chris (the softy!) let them both pick a toy that they wanted. Emme chose a stuffed Ariel doll and Henry chose a stuffed Mickey Mouse. As we headed out of the park, they were both happy as clams, snuggled under their blanket holding their new stuffed animals. And dad was the hero. :)
On Saturday (our last day in Florida) we had one more day left on our park passes, and even though we'd done all the rides we still had a few characters we hadn't hit. So we went to the park for half of the day to visit a few more. Here we are with Tinkerbell.
Henry snuggling up to Jasmine's boob.
Emme had a minor meltdown right before we got to meet Jasmine and Alladin, when a park employee asked her not to climb up on a railing because he didn't want her to get hurt. She took it personally and had to go get some ice cream with Chris while Henry and I visited Alladin and Jasmine.

A damp Emme in Hollywood Studios.

 This is how just about every day ended in the car on the way home...

Getting ready to swim in the back yard.
I crashed on a lounge chair while dad swam with the kiddos.

 On the flight home. The only place Henry would only ever sit still on the airplane was on Grandpa's lap.

We had to get up very early to catch our flight home. So by the time we got home from the airport, everyone crashed good and hard for a nap.

A HUGE thank you to Grandma and Grandpa Spencer for yet another fun vacation. We love you so much! Thank you for creating such happy family memories!