We drove to Disney this year:
And we drove straight through the night on the way down:
On the way home we stopped in NC for the night but after having experienced both driving straight and stopping halfway, we both preferred the straight drive. By leaving at night on the way down (or in the morning on the way up) you hit the high traffic areas of DC and NY during the night hours. We had no traffic on the way down at all, but on the way home, day 2 was all traffic. It took us an extra 3 hours to get home. Plus, when you stop overnight and are not site-seeing, it's 2 full days of, "let's just get there already."
It was awesome to get to drive through the Disney sign!
So the first day, Thursday, (we left on Tuesday evening and arrived Wednesday evening) was spent at the hotel. We didn't go to a park deliberately because we figured we would be exhausted. Actually, it wasn't too bad. We slept in and just spent most of the day at the pool, which was AMAZING. This was the Beach Club resort, fyi.
The pool is all sand bottom. Part of it is like a true beach, with sand all around and it's about 3 feet deep. Super warm water, too! (Actually, almost too warm - it was hard to be "refreshed" during the daytime).
It had a shipwreck that had a slide inside that Austin just loved:
The pool complex is huge. There are a bunch of different sections, with waterfalls, a real whirlpool, and a lazy river.
There's also a cute little kiddie pool with fountains that Austin wanted to play in about 90% of the time.
For dinner we went to Captain's Grille at the Yacht Club (which is next door to the Beach Club). That was incredibly yummy! I ordered the crab legs and there was so much that I was still eating them when Brad and Summer finished their food.
On Friday, we hit Magic Kingdom. Austin got a haircut at the barber shop on Main Street:
The Miss America 2014 contestants were in the house!
We enjoyed dinner at The Plaza, one of our favorite spots to eat, before heading back to the resort for a nighttime swim.
Saturday was our first Epcot day. We had fun walking around the countries and Austin especially loved the fountains and the drums:
Obligatory picture in front of the ball:
Dinner was Teppan Edo, a Japanese steak house. Another favorite spot that we always hit when we visit. Brad even let me order sushi!
Sunday we drove up to Tampa to meet my brother, Rick, and his wife Jali at Busch Gardens. There was a whole Sesame Street zone with rides and fun things for Austin.
I got to feed the kangaroos, something I didn't get to try the last time we were there because they were all snoozy and full. Kids under 5 aren't allowed in, so Austin fed the ducks.
Yes, I did deck myself out in Disney gear to visit Busch Gardens. Tacky.
Unfortunately, it rained much of the day, and there were threats of severe storms, so around lunchtime, Busch Gardens closed all the rides and Brad & Summer only got on one coaster. I didn't get on any. Oh well.
We walked around for a few hours before heading to dinner at a nearby German restaurant, Mr. Dunderbak's. Austin found this giant leaf on the way out which we took home.
Sunday is when Austin's temper tantrums started. Sunday night was a doozy at the hotel, just kicking and screaming and hitting me and nearly destroying his pack & play. They continued for the rest of the trip, several times a day. It was so hard to figure out how to properly handle them. One day at Epcot, he flipped out because we couldn't stop to splash in the fountains, and an Epcot employee, very nicely, asked us if we'd like to go into the baby center. I felt scolded. I could easily have gone back to the fountains but I don't believe giving in when a child has a tantrum teaches him anything. Instead, we tried distraction. After this freak out at Epcot, we got him a strawberry popcicle, which he seemed to love, and that helped take his attention away from the fountain. Those tantrums became so tiring that by the end of the trip I was really ready to leave.
Anyway, Monday was supposed to be our "day off." But we booked an early morning character breakfast at Animal Kingdom, which was fun, and spent about half the day at that park.
Ride in the Dinosaur area of the park. I took Austin on this about 6 times.
We spent part of the day at Downtown Disney (after a stop for a swim at the resort), and then finished up the night at Magic Kingdom.
I had one issue at Magic Kingdom. There's a new Dumbo area. They added a second Dumbo ride and there's a playground inside the queue. I brought Austin into the line, and they asked me if we wanted to ride or play. The playground says it is for ages 2-12, and I figured, we'll play. The time was 7:58pm.
Inside, there's a small, tiny little area that says is for 2-3 year olds, and it really is for about 1 year olds. It's a small slide about 1 foot off the ground, a little car to sit in, and something else to climb. Lame. The big structure, however, is labeled 4-12 years old. Um, ok? So Austin's begging to go in there, I checked with the woman at the desk and she said it was fine for him to go in. Then THIRTY SECONDS later, our buzzer buzzes and they close the playground.
Austin threw such a fit (and I couldn't blame him on this one) I had to leave through the emergency exit. I actually felt terrible for him. They should not have offered us to play 2 minutes before they closed for the night, that is a terrible thing to do to a child.
So to calm him down, it was a nighttime run through the splashground:
Tuesday was a special day. It was Brad and Summer's birthday. We actually had an amazing day at Magic Kingdom. Someone gave us free fast passes to any ride in the park, so we chose the brand new Little Mermaid ride. We had an incredible dinner at Be Our Guest, and then we took a special fireworks cruise to watch the Wishes celebration from the lagoon.
This view was perfect. The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage was such a great thing to do. They give you a bunch of food, you take photos with Captain Hook and Smee, and you go out on a boat and they play the Wishes music during the fireworks. No crowds, no people talking. It was so wonderful.
After two late nights in a row, we decided that we would cancel our Wednesday plan for Animal Kingdom, sleep in, and stroll into Epcot. So Wednesday was much more relaxed. We hit a few rides, and went back to the hotel for a nap for Austin. Brad and Summer headed back over to Epcot to get a few of the big rides in, and they got stuck inside Test Track for awhile while a big storm rolled through. I stayed at the hotel with Austin, caught up on some of my Disney mini album scrapping, and let Austin nap.
After he woke up we went over to meet Brad and Summer at Epcot and had quick service dinner in Japan. I got sushi again! After dinner, though...oy. Austin wanted a popcicle, so I ended up running over half of Epcot just to find one. That was the last straw for me and I was pretty much done at that point. We stopped to watch the Illuminations show (which, actually, we could see from our balcony at the Beach Club all week).
The last day, Thursday, was planned for Hollywood Studios. I'm not a fan of this part, and if it weren't for the Rockin' Roller Coaster (which I didn't get to go on this trip), I would skip the park all together. I find it mostly boring and in need of some new rides and attractions. Brad and Summer headed over early so they could hit the roller coaster and the Tower of Terror, and I let Austin sleep in and met them later.
Obligatory Hollywood Studios shot. This actually turned out to be my favorite photo of us for the trip:
Friday morning, we started the two day trip home.
The kids were asleep before we even made it out of Florida:
Something funny from the road trip: Brad and I kept pointing out every Cracker Barrel and Waffle House sign along the way. There have got to be hundreds. Every 3 miles it seems was another Cracker Barrel or Waffle House.
Also, this road name cracked us up:
It is apparently quite historical but we kept saying "take three random words, make a road." :)
So, we're home now, back in a routine and Austin's tantrums stopped a few days after the trip. I know why he freaked out - tired, hungry, thirsty and overstimulated just like us, but it was rough figuring out what to do to control them.
I think next year Brad and I are going down by ourselves for the Food and Wine Festival for a little adult alone time. Looking forward to that, but for this year, I am Disney-ed out! :)