Family Trip 2010

It’s hard to believe another year has finally passed and it’s time for our annual pilgrimage to Disney with the whole family. Travel day, Sunday, was pretty non eventful and went like most of our travel days do. Everyone was up early actually, no one had to be drug out the bed except the youngest one who then slept to somewhere around Daytona I think, and we had no problems or arguments even. :) We got our Little Guy trailer loaded pretty quickly and were on the road 15 minutes before planned.

Marc and Erin winning hula hoop contest

Marc and Erin winning hula hoop contest

Our room wasn’t available yet when we got to Old Key West around 11:30 so we went ahead with check in and got that behind us. They get your cell phone number now and call or text you with your information on your room when it’s ready so we had time to get lunch at Olivia’s, decide we wanted to go downtown, and while sitting at the dock ON the boat waiting for it to depart, my phone rang so we all jumped up and went to the room to unpack. We were given room 3510, I requested a ground floor for this trip with so much stuff to lug, stairs would suck. This room/building is in a nice area we’ve stayed near before, but not actually in this one. It has a nice view straight out the balcony but the particular room we have is on the corner and one side of the balcony looks to the parking lot and bus stop so it’s not as peaceful as others outside, but inside has been quiet. After that it was pool time for a little while, we didn’t stay long but the kids did get to participate in a hula hoop contest where they proceeded to kick butt. Kellie was going steady and then some other kid trying to get her hoop going ran in to her and knocked her out which sucks because you can’t restart, fortunately Marc and Erin spread out away from every one and were the last 2 standing. The event director and all the life guards were trying to come up with things they had to do to see which would win, turn on one foot in both directions while fist pumping and such, but in the end declared them both the winner and let them go to the Community Hall and choose one of the premium crafts as their prize, they chose to decorate beach balls.

Downtown Disney Hot Air Balloon

Downtown Disney Hot Air Balloon

Then we went to Downtown Disney for dinner at Planet Hollywood, I advise against this. I had a chicken sandwich that had a taste closer to cardboard than flavorful meat, I’m not sure if a bottle of ketchup could have helped. The rest of the evening we just walked around Downtown Disney in a few stores but not really “shopping” just killing time but not staying out too late because we were going to Rope Drop at Hollywood Studios in the morning. Don’t know what Rope Drop is, click this link and watch last year’s video, Rope Drop at Hollywood Studios. We did stop for a while to watch a dance contest thinking the kids would want to get involved but the whole time we were there it was kids picking their parents and then 20 minutes of watching the parents act like fools, not certain where the logic was of having a bunch of bored kids watch other peoples parents dance. Some were funny granted, but I think they would have had a full dance floor if the kids were actually doing something.

Mrc, Erin, and Alyssa with Sully

Mrc, Erin, and Alyssa with Sully

Park day 1, Monday, started fairly early as we were going to Hollywood Studios first to get a few rides in on Toy Story Midway Mania, we were all curious to see the recent changes they’ve made including a new game, and yes we did make it there in time for Rope Drop (see above) snagged some fastpasses and rode standby. Next we split up and I took the older 3 kids to Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster for a ride or 2 and a fastpass grab, while Kriss took Kellie to grab a bagel and some coffee and to see the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. She also tried to make a ressie for Sci-Fi Drive in, Kriss loves that place, but they told her to go try at 11:00. Next we did Star Tours as it’ll be the last time the kids get to do it since it’s coming offline in August from what I understand to be refurbed and updated, Disney has a LOT of potential here to bring this ride into this century, can’t wait to see it. By the time we got off it was 11:01 and we walked right over and got a car for 6 at Sci-Fi, amazing, and only sat maybe 5 minutes. I’ve never been a huge fan of this restaurant, I don’t hate it, but with the Tables in Wonderland 20% discount, it makes it tolerable, and my smoked turkey sandwich was a rare delicacy when compared to my chicken sandwich from the night before (see above.) After lunch came Muppetvision 3D and Backlot Tour where we got to watch some of the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show from the tram, and finally used our fastpass at Toy Story Mania from the morning. Next we decided to head to EPCOT for a while and we got on a Friendship boat headed that way.

Cooling off in EPCOT at Rose & Crown

Cooling off in EPCOT at Rose & Crown

When we got to the International Gateway, back entrance to EPCOT, Donald Duck was there with a very short line so we took some pics with him. Then we headed to the Rose and Crown in England for a Guinness and Harps to go watch Off Kilter perform. We watched one set and then headed to Future World for a few rides. We rode Figment unfortunately, I hate this waste of a space “ride” that should be removed and burned and the ashes thrown into the Atlantic. By this time the fastpasses were all gone at Soarin’ and Test Track so everyone headed to ride Nemo while I went to Mission Space for fastpasses and then met everyone at Club Cool for some free beverages. After a quick cool off there we went to ride Mission Space and then started thinking about dinner so tried San Angel Inn at Mexico but they had no walk in seating so we decided to play roulette around the lake and find a country we could eat at. We ended up at a counter service, Yakitori House, in Japan though and I’m surprised that all 4 kids loved it, even with white rice, I don’t think we threw anything away. I was hoping to get a few evening pictures in EPCOT but when we finished eating there was a dark cloud line to the west, with a west wind blowing, so we headed back to the boat trying to decide if we should hunker down for a while or head back to the room. It started raining on us while in the boat but by the time we got to Hollywood Studios it had already quit, and being an Extra Magic Hours night, the park was closed to all except resort guests and there weren’t that many people there.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I was holding 6 fastpasses each for Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster and since Kriss didn’t ride either that morning I sent her ahead with the kids to do ToT. Fortunately the lines were so short they saved the fastpasses and rode standby, we swapped and I did the same, and I then one of us went back and rode again and used 3 of the passes, I lost count. Next we went to Rockin’ Rollercoaster and used fastpasses with 3 kids but I miscounted and only gave the cast member 3 tickets so we still had 3 so afterward I sent the kids back alone to use the remaining 3 while I took some pictures. By now we were within 45 minutes of park closing so we went to the big hat and watch Mulch, Sweat, and Shears, a band, perform on stage and then headed back to the room for the night after a quick stop at the Gurgling Suitcase.

Erin, Kellie, Alyssa, and Marc

Erin, Kellie, Alyssa, and Marc

Pool Day, Tuesday, everyone slept in. I woke up around 7:00 and got online to check out some of my pics I took and update the website sitting on the back porch drinking coffee. Usually this is the day I take 2 of the older kids to a water park but I just wasn’t really in to it and they were all sacked out from 14+ hrs in the park so I let them sleep, which was ’til around 9:30. Everyone got their suits on and we packed a bag with some essentials and headed up to the resort pool. Fairly uneventful day just chillin’ pool side, playing with the kids, I think I even dozed a little under an umbrella while everyone else was in the sun. We ate from Goods’s Food to Go, probably the cheapest meal yet since we’ve been here and pretty decent food for pool side grub, and miles above that Planet Hollywood chicken sandwich. :) For dinner we went to Downtown Disney and ate at House of Blues, one of my newer favorite restaurants to eat at now. Always seated almost immediately, good food, good music, good service, what more could you ask for in Disney? We walked around for a little while just killing time after our meal but left around 9:00 to head back to the room.

Typhoon Lagoon Crush N Gusher

Typhoon Lagoon Crush N Gusher

Water park day, Wednesday, a day later than usual, and also happened to be my birthday. Typically we do the water park on Tuesday, just me and two older kids, but since we slept in Tuesday we went on Wednesday. There wasn’t much crowd at Typhoon Lagoon, I think the longest line I saw all day on the board was 25 minutes for the family tube, Gang Plank Falls, everything else was 5-10 minutes including Crush N Gusher and Humunga Cowabunga. I really prefer Blizzard Beach over Typhoon Lagoon but Erin had never been there since last year was her first year at a water park and we did Blizzard Beach. We always go at opening, ride all of the rides within an hour or two and then we’re bored with it. Blizzard Beach I can slide all day long and not want to leave. I didn’t take my camera to the water park so only have Photopass pics from there.

That night we went to a new restaurant, at least new for us. Back in December Kriss had found a coupon, I forget what the “deal” was but similar to those half price online coupon deals, but it was for The Outback, so she bought it without reading too much of the fine print. Later on we did read it but wasn’t sure if we would even be able to use it because you had to spend like $150 and we weren’t sure we were going to spend that much, and it was at the discretion of the manager as to if alcohol was included in that minimum, so we didn’t think much about it for several months. Well, what I didn’t know, and still aren’t entirely clear on, is somewhere in there my parents decided to surprise me for my birthday and show up in Disney, so then Kriss got the coupon out thinking we wouldn’t have a problem spending $150 with extra people. The plot thickens. You probably didn’t even think twice when I said the coupon was for The Outback, neither did we, but this is NOT Outback Steakhouse that everyone knows and would have assumed this to be, they aren’t even affiliated with them. Nor is this a freestanding building with a big sign out front and a lot of people standing in line waiting for a table. They are aptly named Outback however because that’s where they are located, WAY Outback of a hotel in Downtown Disney across the street from The Marketplace at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa. So apparently they had all made plans to meet there and Kriss had made reservations for 12, still not knowing that this was not Outback Steakhouse. When we got there and told them who we were and went to be seated, there were my parents, Hollie, Chad, and Hayden all sitting there waiting for us, definitely didn’t expect that either, especially still in shock/wonder about this whole “Outback thing.” It was a typical looking hotel dining room, fairly good sized, but almost completely empty, I think there were two other table seated and one left not long after we got there for 7:00 reservations. The food was good though, although a little pricier than an Outback Steakhouse, their menu is here. They had even brought a birthday cake and gave it to the restaurant who all came out and sang “Happy Birthday” to me and brought the cake out, what a crazy experience. Afterward we all wagon trained across the street to Downtown Disney and walked around a bit, Chad had never been to Disney at all, but knowing we had an early and long day in the parks on Thursday, we headed back to our rooms by 10:00 to rest up. Since I thought this was “just Outback” for the 7 of us, I didn’t even bother to bring a camera so I have no pics of this evening either :(

Kriss, Erin, Alyssa, & Marc at Thunder Mountain

Kriss, Erin, Alyssa, & Marc at Thunder Mountain

Park day 2, Thursday, started pretty early because we were planning on going to Early Entry at Magic Kingdom, 8:00, and stay in one park all day. There were several reasons for this, and with my family there a few more were added since buying a one day Park Hopper sucks, but we were already planning to do a single park day because we had participated in Disney’s Give a Day Get a Day promotion where you can volunteer for a job and get a free ticket, we planted trees on Arbor Day. The three older kids all have multi day, no expiration park hoppers that we use every year until they are used up, and we usually only use 1-2 days each year off them so a 6 or 10 day ticket will last them several years and by using the Give a Day ticket on one this year, we only burnt one of their days off their regular park hoppers. I won’t bore you with the details of every ride in the correct order and such, we pretty much hit every possible ride in magic Kingdom though, and we hit all of the big ones many times thanks to FastPasses and being in the park from 8:00AM-11:00PM. Hollie wanted Chad to see a lot of things since it was his first visit so we made effort for that. The biggest thing though is that with 12 people ranging in age from 1 to 60, you just can’t all walk around together for 12+ hours in 90 degree heat and do everything, especially eat. I’ve advised many others taking large parties on the same thing, and the whole key is people have to realize that you can’t walk around like you’re on a 7th grade class trip with a chaperon, which we did look like a lot of times. :) You have to strike a balance between being together and doing what everyone likes and wants to do. So we would split off into 2, 3, and sometimes 4 smaller groups and I think it worked well for everyone, no one got their feelings hurt or angry, although we saw quite a few other people having blowouts with each other, even early in the morning before it was hot.

Tinkerbell Main Street Electrical Parade

Tinkerbell Main Street Electrical Parade

That evening we got to see the Main Street Electrical Parade which just returned to the Magic Kingdom this week for the first time since 2001. I don’t remember the first time I ever saw MSEP but I have seen it several times over the years with my grandfather so it brought back a few memories thinking of him taking me to Florida as a child in the 70′s just to go to Disney. We actually almost didn’t see it because we were going to leave after Wishes, but the line at the monorail was insane, as usual so nothing surprising there, so we walked up to the train station and got a seat inside in the A/C all alone, there was no one there. 11:00 got closer so we walked out to the railing overlooking Main Street and there may have been 20 other people up there, if that, we basically had a birds eye view of the parade, while sitting in cushioned chairs instead of radiating hot sidewalks, and snapped a few pictures to boot. By the time it was over we walked out and waited on one monorail to pass, and were in our room showered and in bed by 12:30AM.

Travel day, Friday was pretty uneventful, other than packing and loading 7 people into a Jeep and the trailer, which is made easier because I try to get us a ground level room so no stairs to carry stuff down, and the fact that my wife can have almost everything packed up by the time I shave and shower, including the kitchen and kid’s stuff. We made our usual stop at Cracker Barrel, Kriss’ mom works there and gets a discount, except we waited until we got north of Daytona this time, somewhere around Ormond I think, and some of us ate lunch.

So another family trip to Disney is behind us and already talking about next year. The kids all want to stay at Bay Lake Tower so we may try that but I’ll need to book it at the 11 month window, you DVC people will know what I’m talking about, if not just email me and I’ll be happy to explain it to you. We’re going back again in July with just Kellie, and staying at Bay Lake so check back then for a new trip report.

Please check out some of the pictures below. Some of this post was written during the trip so please forgive any tense inconsistencies. Be sure to follow me on twitter for live tweets from the park.

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