4/18/14

Day 4: Epcot - part 5

At this point, I was really craving a drink from Starbucks. I had a $50 Starbucks gift card with me, which  was quite eager to spend, but I didn't think that a hot coffee drink and a restless toddler would be the best mix, so I decided on the next best thing to keep myself from crashing: sugar! And lots of it!

We then stopped at the Refreshment Port where I ordered three croissant donuts for $14.35. At that kind of price, I figured that we could share them and that the kids did not need to eat their own - I do think that I was nice enough though to let my husband have his own.

They were messy (for the kids anyway) but very good. Kyle still refused to sit in the stroller, so Emma sat in the empty seat for a few minutes




It wasn't long until we were joined by several birds, and even though Evan was very scared of them and tucked his legs up close to his body and kept his donut covered with his hands as best he could, he greeted them and said "Hiya, Friends!" But some friends they turned out to be when they turned their backs and walked away from us when they realized that we weren't sharing with them!




We quickly walked through Canada - one of these days I'd like to walk through the gardens and also see the waterfall - and we made our way to the United Kingdom. Even though we met Pooh and Tigger the day before, we really wanted to meet them again.

There was hardly a wait to meet them at all, but we arrived right before they were meant to go on a honey break. The character handler said that Pooh & Tigger would be back in a few minutes, and Kyle did amazingly well waiting for them to return, possibly because he already saw them and knew that they were coming back. He kept saying, "honey" and "eat" over and over, because he thought it was hilarious that they were taking a break to go and eat some honey.

The photopass photographer never returned while we met the characters, so I took a few photos while James videoed it, and I'm so happy to be able to watch it over and over again. Kyle ran into Tigger's arms when he saw him and at one point I noticed that he gave Pooh a kiss on the belly. Pooh giggled and Kyle started to giggle, too. Evan also had a lot of fun bouncing around with Tigger, and I'm just so happy that we decided to meet them a second time!

Here is another video (again, slightly shaky at times, sorry.)

 





4/16/14

Day 4: Epcot - part 4

While the rest of the family was enjoying Turtle Talk with Crush, I tried to keep Kyle entertained inside the Seas pavilion. I tried to show him the fish in the fish tanks, but he preferred running around the fish tanks instead. I managed to get him to sit down while I retied my shoes, but he managed to run away before I even finished, and I'd like to think that I'm pretty quick at tying my shoes!

[As a side note, I was wearing an older pair of Keds mules that I was so thankful for remembering to pack at the last minute! They were open-backed so my feet didn't feel too warm in them, and they were oh, so comfortable to walk in - they were wonderful to wear when chasing after a certain toddler! I had blisters on my feet that were caused by my Lands' End sandals, because I failed to break them in before our trip, something that is kind of hard to do when you live in a snowy winter climate! I don't think I would have survived this day if I didn't pack spare park shoes].

A few times Kyle tried to run back to Turtle Talk with Crush in order to rescue his dad and siblings, but I kept walking him back to other areas where I tried to distract him. He cried for them for a bit, and I guess that my plan to keep the family together kind of failed.
Eventually, I decided to take him over to the play area, where he had a lot of fun spinning a wheel to match the fish. A slightly older kid was getting annoyed with Kyle playing there, but his dad quickly lectured him about being nice to little kids. I would have liked to have gotten a picture of Kyle sitting in Bruce the shark's mouth, but there was a small queue behind him with kids who were waiting their turn, as well as other kids who were taking their time and playing around in his mouth.

While Kyle was happily exploring the interactive play area, I changed one of our fastpasses for Journey into the Imagination with Figment. I didn't think we actually needed it, but we now had 2 unused fastpasses each and there weren't any other real options.

I was so relieved when Turtle Talk was finished and Kyle was happy, too! The kids wanted  to have their picture taken inside Bruce's mouth, but the wait was still too long for my liking, so I promised them that we'd do it another time. Then, on the way out, Evan spotted a large plush Nemo toy and he begged me to buy it for him. I told him, "no" not only because it was kind of expensive and because he's never had a huge interest in Nemo before this trip, but mainly because you can't really buy a toy for one kid and not the others. Emma would have been okay, since she already had other things in mind that she was wanting to buy, but it would have been a nightmare with Kyle!

We spotted this little guy while we were looking for our parked double stroller:


The kids thought it was hilarious, and good thing we didn't leave snacks in the bottom of ours!

We then walked over to the Imagination Pavilion to ride Journey into the Imagination with Figment and we tried to use fastpass+ but unfortunately the Mickey reader did not turn green. Even though I was successful in changing the fastpass on my phone, it never showed up under the My Disney Experience app on James' phone. It may have been because I was logged into two phones at the same time?! It was strange, but oh, well. We just took a few steps back and entered the standby queue instead then and the ride was a walk-on anyway.

It was the first time on the ride, and I actually enjoyed it. James thought it was cool to see Eric Idle in it, and all the kids enjoyed it except for Evan who says that the ride was really scary and that he never, ever wants to go on it again. I think that he was mainly bothered by the stinky skunk and the blast of air near the end of the ride.

It was now almost 2 o'clock and we had finished all that we wanted to accomplish in Future World in 2.5 hours. Next stop: World Showcase.

4/15/14

Day 4: Epcot - part 3

After meeting Mickey and friends we decided to head over towards the Seas even though our next Fastpass+ time was still 45 minutes in the future.

On the way there, Kyle started to run around again, both in circles and away from us. At one point Kyle ran away, stopped, turned around and then asked for us to take his picture. So, James quickly took a few photos of him with his phone and then we grabbed him.



A few moments later, Kyle split his knee open yet again.  There was blood dripping down his knee, and he tried to run away from me as I attempted to clean his wound and apply a band-aid. James had to lift him up and hold him still as he tried to kick me away from him, but I eventually manged to apply the band-aid and he fortunately he didn't try to take it off.

He was getting rather difficult for me to handle, and I couldn't help but notice all of the other little kids who were either walking nicely or sitting in strollers and not screaming or fighting to get out. I felt so jealous of every parent with a well-behaved child and I had to fight back the urge to cry. I was simply feeling overwhelmed, and we probably should have called it a day at this point, even though we hadn't been in the park long at all.

When we got to the Seas, there was a very short wait for the Seas with Nemo and Friends so we decided to hop in line instead of waiting to use our 1:30 fastpass+

Oh, what a horrible queue that is, but Kyle thought it was just so wonderful as he ran through it saying "wheeee!"  It was long, winding and there were hardly any other people in it. What more could he want?! I ended up having to chase after him, because I was worried that he was going to hit his face on a metal bar or trip and fall and do more damage to his knees. I kept telling him to stop running and tried to grab a hold of him, but my efforts were useless. He was just having a great time and a cast member spotted him and said, "Swim on, little fishie, swim on." It was cute, even though I was slightly annoyed that she unknowingly encouraged him further and I was starting to feel very stressed out with him.

It was such a relief when we were one on the ride. I rode with Emma & Kyle and we all seemed to really enjoy it, even though I think that I mainly enjoyed it because it gave me a brief moment to be able to rest and a chance to sit.

It was now just after 1:00 and our fastpass+ time for Turtle Talk with Crush wasn't until 2:45. I tried to change the time, but was unsuccessful in doing so, so we decided to get into the standby line instead, since I didn't want to have to backtrack and return to the Seas later. It was a great plan, because we ended up getting into the next show, but it was a not-so-great plan, because Kyle wasn't doing well with waiting in line. He kept trying to play with the ropes, and I kept trying to explain to him that the ropes are not there to be played with them. He then attempted to run away several times, but once he saw that we were surrounded by so many strangers, he returned to us and I could tell that he was on the verge of a meltdown.

Fortunately, just as I was thinking that I would need to leave with him, they opened the doors and we were let into the room behind everyone who was using fastpass.

Emma and Evan went to sit up front with the rest of the kids, while Kyle stayed with us and we ended up in the very back row. That was definitely another downside of not using fastpass for the show since our family was separated and we were so far back. If I had better planned out our fastpasses or had been able to change our time, we could have been sitting closer to the front nearer our kids and Kyle might have been happier.

So, as it happened, almost as soon as Crush appeared, Kyle started to scream and have a meltdown. Then, almost as soon as Kyle started to scream, I picked him up, whispered to my husband to enjoy the show, and then left the room.

It's not the first time Kyle has been carried out of the Turtle Talk with Crush whilst screaming and crying - my husband had to leave with him when Kyle was 12 months old and when he started to scream. Fortunately, my husband managed to get him to go to sleep when he was a baby, but screaming toddlers are a whole different kettle of fish.

4/14/14

Day 4: Epcot - part 2

We made it over to Character Spot a few minutes before our FP+ window opened, and I think I made the right choice to visit characters together as a family instead of using a fastpass to go on Soarin'  which meant we would have needed to split up twice since Kyle is slightly too small for the ride and not really mature enough for anyway. (I've never been on Soarin' but hopefully one of these days I'll be able to do experience it!)

There were two families ahead of us who were also using fastpass, but it was overall a very short wait and it wasn't before long when we were meeting Mickey Mouse. Kyle adores Mickey and he used to say that he wants to give him a hug and kiss when he meets him. Unfortunately, he never did hug or kiss him, but he did try to show Mickey his puzzle, which I thought was very sweet, before he ran back towards us and hid instead of getting his picture taken.

Here is a video and it is not the best quality, but we had a lot of fun meeting Mickey, especially Evan, who was very excited and he also likes to do silly poses when he meets characters



And here are some photos from the meet and greet:




 We then met Goofy and Minnie Mouse. Goofy acknowledged Kyle's puzzle, which he was happy about, and we managed to get Kyle included in the photo with Minnie, which I was happy about.









Day 4: Epcot - part 1

The next morning I woke up at 7 am and started to get ready for the day. I had had nearly 12 hours of sleep and was feeling great! I let the family sleep in a bit longer, and it wasn't until long before everyone else was awake and ready for the day.

I had the following fastpasses scheduled for the day:

12:30 - 1:30 FP+ Soarin
1:30 -2:30 FP+ Living with the Land
2:45-3:45 FP+ Turtle Talk with Crush

Even though I would have loved to have made rope drop, we figured that it would be best to have a relaxing morning instead and figured that we weren't really in any rush to make it to Epcot early anyway, since I planned to return to the park later in the week, as well

At 8:30 I asked James if he would like to go to Target to pick up some bottles of water and food for the room and he thought that it was a great idea. We didn't know if either of us would be up for going shopping later, and the sooner that we got drinks for the room, the better. He then asked Evan if he'd like to go with him, and he happily agreed. 

After they walked out the door a short while later, Kyle started to scream and cry again. I latched and locked the door shut, but Kyle was able to undue the latch and he managed to open the door on his own, which I thought was very frustrating - why did the put the latch so low that a 2-year old could reach it?! At 39" I know that he is quite tall for his age, but I do wish that they installed the latch a bit higher.

I managed to distract him with his puzzles while I changed a few of our fastpasses around. I knew from the day before that Kyle wasn't doing well with rider swaps and not coping whenever our family had to split up, so I decided to change our Soarin' fastpass to Character Spot. Then, since we wouldn't be going into the Land to ride Soarin', I changed our Living with the Land fastpass to the Seas with Nemo & Friends.

After our success on TriceraTop Spin and with meeting characters in Animal Kingdom the day before, I figured that doing as many toddler friendly rides and character meet and greets as possible would be the only way we'd have a successful day in Epcot with everyone feeling happy. 

James and Evan returned just before 10 am with two cases of water, and plenty of snacks and things for sandwiches. Most importantly, peanut butter and jelly for the kids!

We then had a  late breakfast/early lunch in the room and I told Kyle that we were leaving the lunch box in the room, but that he could still take his puzzle into the parks with him. He agreed, so we put his puzzle in a Ziploc bag and then put the baggie into a Disney Parks bag - that way, if the Disney bag ripped, the puzzle would still be safe inside.

We decided to take the bus this day since we had a miserable time driving and dealing the park lot the day before, and we figured it would be better to get dropped off close to the entrance rather than deal with a large parking lot again

We arrived at the park at 11:30, so had a bit of time before our 12:30 fastpass+ time at Character Spot. So, after walking at a very slow toddler-friendly pace and after taking a restroom break already, I thought we'd ride Spaceship Earth. There was a posted 25 minute wait and Kyle was already restless and starting to run around so I thought it was the perfect time to use an anytime fastpass that a friend passed on to me. One of my friends went to Epcot earlier in the month and received a few anytime fastpasses, possibly from an unexpected ride closure, and they didn't expire until the end of the month, so she was kind enough to pass them on to me. They weren't valid for Soarin' or Test Track, so I figured that now would be a good time to use them.

I rode with Emma and Kyle while James rode alone with Evan. While on the ride, Kyle and Emma both got into a bit of a finger slapping fight when they both tried to press the options on the menu in the beginning of the ride. Emma thought her brother was being a bit annoying since she was wanting to think about her answers and he just wanted to play with the screen. Ah, the joy of little brothers!

Kyle did okay on the ride. He complained a bit once we reached the outdoor starry night scene, but once we were moving again, he really enjoyed it.

When we were finished we decided to head over to Club Cool. We had a lot of fun trying all of the flavors and my favorite was easily the Fanta Pineapple.




4/9/14

Day 3: Animal Kingdom - part 7

We made our way towards Dinosaur so that James and Emma could ride using Fastpass+  It was already a little past 5:00 pm and our fastpass return time was good through 6:00 so we had a bit of time. Evan, who is tall enough to ride, said that he thought it was going to be too scary so asked if he could wait with me and Kyle.

On the way there, Emma noticed a sign that was pointing towards Donald Duck on the Cretaceous Trail. I did not know that Donald was now meeting there, so it was a pleasant surprise, and even more of a pleasant surprise when we walked up to discover that we were the only family there.

Meeting Donald was a lot of fun!!

Emma and Evan both handed over their autograph books and pens, and Donald kept throwing their pens down, because they had Mickey Mouse on them. The kids were laughing hysterically and the cast member explained how Donald is just jealous of Mickey, because he wants to be #1 instead!

Kyle even shared his lunch box with Donald!




I don't know why Kyle looks like he was about to cry, since he was really enjoying himself, and it was such a fun character meet and greet.

We then continued on towards Dinosaur and I told James and Emma that we'd wait for them. At this point Kyle threw a massive tantrum and tried to chase after them, which meant that I ended up chasing after Kyle. He was screaming and crying, but somehow I managed to steer him towards the ride exit, so that we could wait there.

Near the ride exit, I noticed that there were quite a few stone benches and that there were hardly any people around, so I said to Kyle, "Do you want to work on your puzzle?" Oh boy, did he ever!! Within seconds he was kneeling down and had his puzzle out and began to work on instantly.

And this is where a different kind of magic happened.

The puzzle is actually too easy for him, but fortunately he was happy to take it apart and do it over-and-over again, and at the same time, whilst working on his puzzle, he was able to calm down and relax because he entered into what we refer to as "the puzzle zone" - he is so highly focused when it comes to his puzzles.



When James and Emma came back, James told me that he really enjoyed the ride, but that it really freaked Emma out. She absolutely hated it, but I think that their reactions to the ride are kind of obvious though when you look at the ride photo!


James waited with the kids while I went inside to add the photo to our Memory Maker, and then when I returned we waited for Kyle to finish his puzzle while we figured out what to do next.

Evan still wasn't interested in riding Dinosaur, and Emma wasn't wanting to ride again, so I decided to skip it since I wasn't wanting to ride alone. James then said that he was interested in riding Expedition Everest though, and because Emma said that she really wanted to go on it with him, we walked back to Asia.

It was just after 5:30 pm and there was a very short 10 minute wait for Expedition Everest.

There was really no place for Kyle to sit down and work on his puzzle this time and he became very restless and was running around. He even tried to run through a cast member only area.

Growing increasingly frustrated with him, and because I was starting to get a bad headache, I grabbed his puzzle away from  and held it high up in the air out of his reach. Of course he started to scream and cry, but I told him that he'd only get it back if he promised to sit in the stroller next to his brother. He reluctantly agreed, and so I lived up to my end of the bargain. I reclined his seat and placed the puzzle in the back, telling him that his puzzle needed a nap.


It only bought me a few moments of peace though, before he jumped out of his seat again.

It wasn't long really before James and Emma returned, and James said that he wasn't feeling well at all. He said he really enjoyed the ride until it started going backwards, and that it really messed up with his orientation and made him start to feel ill. Emma, however, said that it was a lot of fun, even though it made her feel breathless at times.


We then decided that it was time to leave and head back to our resort. On the way out, Kyle kept running along the path, occasionally running in circles, but never running away from us. Even though I had a headache that kept getting worse and James was feeling sick and pushing the stroller to help to help maintain his balance, I did my best with Kyle. Evan then started complaining very loudly again about how didn't want his brother getting lost, stolen or hurt, and once again, I kept trying to reassure him that his brother is safe and that I wouldn't let anything bad happen to him.

Emma started to cry when she saw that we walked past where the people were waiting for the tram. She didn't want to walk to the car, and honestly, I didn't either. James just said that he wasn't in the mood to fold the double stroller and Kyle was restless. There wouldn't have been room for us on the next tram anyway, and even though walking with Kyle was very exhausting, waiting in line for a tram would have been much worse.

When we finally got back to the car, James said that he was feeling okay enough to drive, and we both agreed that we'd save a trip to Target for snacks and drinks until the next day. Neither of is were in the mood to go shopping!

Once we were back in our room, we were greeted by all of the kids' toys lined up on the bed, which they thought was pretty awesome. However, those toys soon found themselves on the floor as we quickly got the kids ready and tucked into bed.


I was then very thirsty, and even though we had 2 bottles of water left from our drive, I didn't want to drink it in case the kids were thirsty. Instead, I finished half a bottle of lukewarm coke zero, because I didn't have to energy to run to the food court for juice or more water.

We then turned the lights out and everyone was sleeping and in bed for the night by 7pm!

4/8/14

Day 3: Animal Kingdom - part 6

After meeting Pooh & Tigger, we noticed that Mickey's Jammin' Jungle parade had started, but we were too far back for the kids to actually see anything and I didn't want to try to get closer, so we turned around and headed back towards Dinoland.


When we were in Dinoland, Emma & Evan asked if we could play any of the games, and unfortunately, I had to say, "No." James and I knew that it just wouldn't have been a great idea with Kyle, so James promised the kids that he'd waste some money with them later on back at our resort in the arcade. That seemed to be a good enough compromise! Emma then asked if she could go on Primeval Whirl, but, once again, we had to let her down, because neither of us wanted to go on it with her. She could have gone on it by herself, but because of her little brother's unpredictability, we didn't want to stand around and wait for her either.

I then suggested TriceraTop Spin, but because Evan said that he didn't want to go on it, and said that it looked too fast and scary, I went on with Emma & Kyle. I was so impressed that Kyle actually agreed to go on it this time and it turned out that he LOVED it! Once we were off, he ran back towards the ride entrance, and shouted, "Again!!" and we then went on it a second time. He probably would have gone back on it a third, fourth and even fifth time had I let him, but going around in circles twice was more than enough for me, and James wasn't in the mood to spin around in circles, either.

At this point, I started to think about food and feeding the family. I wasn't very hungry, but I knew that my kids were interested in eating at Restaurantosaurus because they thought it sounded fun to have their meals come in sand buckets. So, I lead my family over in that direction and it worked out well since we didn't have to walk far.

We parked the stroller and walked inside to order. I was going to send James and the kids to find a place to sit while I ordered the food, but no one could decide on what they wanted to eat. I knew that I needed to order at least 3 kids meals so that none of the kids felt left out, but no one could make up their mind. Also, Kyle started to spin and run around in circles since we were in such a wide and open space - the place was literally the opposite of busy.

I then just said, "You know what. I don't want to eat here with you guys" so I left and the family followed. James felt relieved since we were all probably on the verge of a meltdown whilst trying to control Kyle and get our order figured out.

Initially, in the pre-trip planning stages, I had made a 2:00 pm dining reservation for Tusker House, but I cancelled it because I didn't know how well Kyle would handle the characters. I anticipated a horrible experience, and in retrospect, and after seeing how much he loved Tigger & Pooh, I started to question whether or not I made the right choice. Trying to figure out where and what to eat with my family probably wasn't any less stressful, especially when I previously thought that Restaurantosaurus would have been a great choice!

When we were back outside, Kyle started to spin around in circles again. He was still holding onto his lunch box, and even though he was in a wide open space, a little boy came running towards him. I then had to lunge forward to stop Kyle from spinning, because I was so worried that would have ended up accidentally hitting the boy in the face.

His mother came running over and she apologized, because she felt bad that her boy almost ran into Kyle, but I just said, "No, it's okay" and said that I was worried that the little boy was going to get hit and said that Kyle just needs to stop spinning around like that.

We ended up walking over the Flame Tree Barbecue.

While I as waiting to order, James went to go and sit down with Kyle, but they came back a few moments later with James saying that Kyle tripped and fell again and that he burst his knee open again whilst trying to run back to where I was.

Oh, Kyle! *sigh*

I still didn't know what to order and my family still didn't know what they wanted to eat either.

James wasn't interested in anything on the adult menu, so for James and Evan I ordered two kids chicken drumstick meals, both with grapes, a cookie and apple juice, but one of the cookies and juice boxes would be for Kyle. I then ordered a peanut butter and jelly uncrustables sandwich for Emma, along with the same sides and drink as the boys. Then, for myself and for Kyle to share, I ordered the Safari Fruit plate. I then asked for a cup of ice water to share with James instead of buying a drink.

It came to $26.05, which is fairly cheap to feed a family of 5 in the parks, but it turned out be the perfect amount of food for us. My fruit plate was fairly disappointing though. Kyle took all of the grapes off my plate and started to line them up on the table, and I was actually too tired to sit and peal the orange half, which wasn't very juicy and sweet anyway.

Flame Tree Barbecue was fairly empty when we were there and I don't know if it was a good or bad thing, because we had a few unexpected visitors..


Both Evan and Kyle were frightened of the birds, and I probably wouldn't have been too upset if they had been successful in stealing the fruit off my plate, since it wasn't that great anyway.

I like to think of those birds more as a winged babysitters, who not only were keeping a close eye on our food, but were also making sure that a certain little boy didn't run around the tables.

We then thought about leaving at this point and heading back to our resort, but Emma said that she hardly had a chance to actually go on any rides. She had a bit of a point, so, even though we didn't know how well Kyle would cope with a rider swap, because it would require the family to split up again, we decided to head back towards Dinoland for Emma to be able to ride Dinosaur with her dad, because I had a Fastpass+ for 5:00-6:00.