Monday, May 30, 2016

The Most Magical Place on Earth - 2016

We just got back from a fabulous vacation in Florida.   We knew after going on the Make-A-Wish trip in 2014 that there was no way to top that experience so we weren't planning to return to Florida or Disney World anytime soon.  However, earlier this year the stars aligned and we got a super deal on flights and a condo in Florida that was too good to pass up.  So, we booked another trip to the Sunshine State.
We had a wonderful time even though there were a few bumps in the road.  I ate a bowl full of ants cheerios one morning but that's a whole other story.  And unfortunately, Parker did end up getting sick a couple of days into our trip.  Thankfully he made a turn for the better after two days of taking it easy in the condo and we all got to enjoy the last couple of days together.
We started the fun at Animal Kingdom.   We went on the Safari first thing and saw lots of animals.   Parker looked around at things a lot more this time than he did on our last trip. 

We tried out a character dining experience at Tusker House restaurant and got to meet Daisy, Donald, Goofy and Mickey.  Parker got such a kick out of all of them but especially enjoyed seeing his old friend Mickey again!  Alexa had fun getting autographs from all the characters this time.

We got to do most of the rides and attractions in the park.  Alexa's favorite was Expedition Everest although you sure can't tell she enjoyed it from this pic.  And, well, Parker hid his face and squeezed me tight the whole time and then clapped a lot at the end.  I wasn't sure if that meant he liked it or he was glad it was over?! 
We decided to meet up with Mickey and Minnie at Adventure's Outpost later in the afternoon.  This time around, Minnie was the favorite.   Parker LOVED getting a kiss on the cheek from her! 


Other highlights included the Lion King Show and the Finding Nemo show - I'd highly recommend them both!!  We stopped for one more photo op in front of the Tree of Life before heading out of the park.

The next day we visited Hollywood Studios.  We didn't go to Hollywood studios in 2014 so it was a must-do this time around. 
This was the best family pic we could get in front of the park.  Parker wasn't having it at that point.

 We went to a lot of shows.   My favorite was Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Alexa's favorite was the Frozen Sing-A-Long celebration, Parker's favorite was probably the Beauty and the Beast show and Paul liked all of the Stars Wars stuff.  

The highlight of the day for me was when we met Chewbacca.  Parker wasn't scared at all and they even blew kisses at each other.  It was seriously the cutest thing ever.  

We didn't do many rides in the park but Paul did take Alexa on the Tower of Terror.  I'm pretty sure we scarred her for life...

 We tried to keep it more light-hearted after that.
At the end of the night we watched "Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular".  It was a fireworks display set to Star Wars music.  It was pretty incredible.

Then we were off to Magic Kingdom.  Parker got sick shortly after we arrived so he and I left and he spent the next two days like this.  Luckily we were equipped with oxygen and breathing treatments and antibiotics so we were able to stay out of the hospital.   
Paul and I took turns spending time in the park with Alexa and then Parker did get to visit on the last day.   Alexa met lots of princesses and characters and had a blast.


Parker's favorite character meeting at Magic Kingdom was Tigger.  This is fitting since Parker loves his Tigger toy back home more than just about anything.  I wish we could've captured some better pictures but his smile was huge and everyone in line got such a kick out of his reaction.

We also met Tink as a family.  All of the princesses and characters sure did do a great job portraying their roles!
Our favorite ride of the trip was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.   It was broken down when we visited in 2014 so we were thrilled to get to ride it this time around.   The line is crazy long for this ride so luckily we were able to get one fast pass for it and then Paul and Alexa got stuck on Splash Mountain for awhile so they gave them a free pass ticket to ride something of their choice.  This meant Paul and I both got to ride on it with Alexa.   It is loads of fun!   

Check out this fun video of Paul and Alexa on the ride:
I went on Space Mountain with Alexa (I think her face is funny in this picture)
and Paul rode on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain with her a few times.

Alexa did most of the other rides and attractions in the park as well and she liked them all...except the Haunted Mansion.  She wasn't a fan this year.   Parker liked it though and really liked all the rides that were in slow moving vehicles in the dark with things to see/hear/experience.  His favorites were probably Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World and Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid which happens to be my most favorite as well.

We tried getting some more family pics in front of the castle throughout the day.   


And what Magic Kingdom visit would be complete without eating a cookie shaped like Mickey Mouse that is as big as your head?
We also visited Cocoa Beach while we were there.   It was a BEAUTIFUL day and we all had a great time.   Parker thought the sand and water were awesome and had so much fun!  He giggled every time the tide came in and touched his feet.   He couldn't get enough!   Alexa had fun looking for seashells, jumping into the big waves, playing in the sand and pretending to have a mermaid tail.  It was such a relaxing day and we all wished we had more time there!

Before we flew home, we stopped at Disney Springs and ate at T-Rex Restaurant.  It was a really neat atmosphere and lots of fun to see the animatronic dinosaurs and neat lighting and sound effects.   Parker really liked when the "meteor shower" would come every 20 minutes.

We had such a great time in Florida and are glad we decided to go back so soon! We appreciate Disney so much because of how accommodating it is to families with children with special needs.   All of the rides have handicap access to some extent and they go above and beyond to ensure everyone gets to participate in the fun.   This isn't something you can really find anywhere else.  I just wish Florida was closer so we could go back more often!