Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 5 - June 11th Part 3 (Animal Kingdom Lodge and closing up Magic Kingdom)

When I last updated you, my family was reunited after the ER adventure. Our ADR for Boma was at 6 but I wanted us to have some time to enjoy looking around the resort a bit, so I insisted that everyone get ready so we could get to Animal Kingdom Lodge by at least 5. Grabbing a cab was the best plan and very affordable.

As soon as we walked into the lobby at AKL, I was just overwhelmed with the African art everywhere, the enormously tall thatched ceiling, and the window overlooking the savannah. It did NOT disappoint.

We went out the back door to look at animals and had to laugh a bit because right before we headed out, there were 3 older kids considering going outside but they said “It’s too hot out there.” After they left, Kathryn observed that they were obviously not from Texas because it felt great to us. It was humid, and you could tell it was getting ready to rain, but with the overcast skies and the nice breeze - we really liked it!

Someday I want to stay here so I can look out my window and see the animals. Someday….

We met some very nice young men from Botswana who worked at AKL, had a great conversation, and they took our family picture.

It started to rain and it was time to go in for dinner. We made our way to Boma and were seated immediately in the PERFECT location. It’s a noisy restaurant, but our table was off in a little alcove with lots of windows. Especially with the rain coming down outside, it was a very nice atmosphere. I look really happy, don't I? I had a Long Island Iced Tea.
'Nuff said, right?

Boma was on my list of things I wanted to do for two reasons: first, I’d always wanted to visit AKL and second, I’d heard the food was great. Many people who wrote reviews of it were particularly blown away by the soups. The continuous stream of compliments about the soups fascinated me so we started there.

Whoa. I have no idea how they make such delicious soups, people. The Nigerian fish stew made my tastebuds sing. Needless to say, I think this restaurant will always be on my list although my husband rightfully pointed out that we would not have enjoyed it as much if we’d been in the middle of the noisy dining room. Maybe not….but I would stand in a long line in Texas heat just to get some of that fish stew again. I can only guess that the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld must have made soup like this for people to put up with his abuse. I would totally be willing to be yelled at ("No soup for you!!") to get more of that stew. No kidding!

At the end of the meal, while the rest of the family waited for the bill, I went upstairs to the bar and asked for a glass of any African wine that I couldn’t easily find in the states. The nice bartender provided me with a glass of this and I was not disappointed.

After that we went outside again and I sat in a rocking chair, finishing my wine while David and the kids looked at some interesting snails on the foliage. I was slowing us down a bit, everyone was eager to get back to the MK and attack it with everything we had, but I needed that glass of wine and enjoyed every last drop of it!

Once I was properly wined up, we made our way to the buses and went back to the Magic Kingdom. We all stayed in our matching shirts because we didn’t have any family photopass pictures from today. It was time to change that! I told my husband how much I loved the special Disney balloons-inside-balloons and he got a nice picture for me.

Ok - a good trip reporter would be able to tell you exactly what time we arrived, exactly what rides we rode, etc. But...I’m not a good trip reporter. Too bad for you. ;)

Before Dennis and I left the park that morning, we’d changed our Space Mountain FPs because our whole family wasn’t together. Sadly, the only time available was pretty late - like at 9:30 at night. Or maybe it was even 10:30. I forget - but it was late. That was still our 3rd FP so I wasn’t able to take advantage of the “get a 4th FP, then a 5th FP” plan at MK as I originally planned.

We were, however, able to repeat a number of pictures from our trip 5 years before - such as this lovely one of my husband wearing the hanging flowers as a hat.

One of my goals will be to figure out how to do some sort of fun art thing with all our re-do see how we’ve changed in 5 years!

When we got to the Magic Kingdom after dinner, I think the first thing we did was wait in the Under the Sea line for an annoyingly long time. Over and over, I’d read tons of comments about how if the sign said the line was 20 minutes, it was probably just 10 minutes. This ride wasn’t high on my list but I figured, what the heck - the line will be short. IT WAS NOT SHORT. The time was understated and then the ride itself kept stopping. Although I didn’t time it, if I had to guess I think the whole experience at the Ariel ride sucked up the first hour of our time back at Magic Kingdom. Luckily, it was a cute ride and there was an ADORABLE little baby in the clam shell right behind me and Kathryn. No problem, really!

Then we enjoyed some of the other charming sections of New Fantasyland like the gorgeous Tangled bathrooms (I know that sounds weird if you don’t know what I’m talking about but I'm actually ok with you thinking I'm a freak for taking pictures of the inside of bathrooms because they are JUST THAT FABULOUS.)

We were finally able to walk through the Castle together and David took this picture of me in front of the amazingly gorgeous mosaic. (Heaven...I'm in heaven just remembering it...)

We rode Dumbo and it was very nice because the sun was just setting as we were up in the air.

In case you’re curious, it’s very much worth it to get a few lovely sunset castle pictures with your family when you see those PhotoPass photographers…so STOP and get those pictures. Trust me!

Once it was dark, we went to Gaston’s Tavern where we ordered a LaFou’s brew (way too sweet for us) and a cinnamon roll. Then David insisted that Kathryn take our picture like this. Yay for embarrassing your kids at Disney World!!

It was getting dark so I wanted us to head over to Adventureland so we could enjoy the Jungle Cruise at night and hopefully Pirates of the Caribbean as well. As we went by Peter Pan and It’s A Small World, we were able to ride both of those without much of a wait at all. As we came out of IASW, we heard the fireworks and although I tried to rush my family (I had this list of rides I wanted us to try to knock out before 1 a.m.), they smartly insisted that we stay right where we were so we could watch the fireworks.

It was cool, people. My family was TOTALLY RIGHT for telling me to chill out and watch the fireworks. We were near IASM and some of the fireworks were over our castle to our right and some were further back, to our left. Pretty cool. Of course, it's difficult to tell from this photo but I'll try to incorporate the video into our big trip video and hopefully that will give you the feel. If you don't like crowds, it's a cool option!

In Adventureland, Jungle Cruise was a walk on and so corny of course. Pirates of the Caribbean was also a walk on at that time of night. After that it was time for our Space Mountain FastPasses - yea!!!

We were all very excited because, of course, Dennis learned he loved roller coasters on this trip and Kathryn was looking forward to the ride. Too bad the SM cars don’t fit 4 people - my picture didn’t show up at first on PhotoPass but I’d taken the wise advice of many on the advice forums and taken a cell phone photo so I knew my PhotoPass number and they were able to track it down for me. Dennis loved the ride but Kathryn did not like it at all. She said she felt like she was about to fall out all the time and I can see what she means - the walls are rather low on those cars!

I knew my son was very much looking forward to a spin on Carousel of Progress and it surprised me to learn my daughter was as we rode that. And I will spare you the argument I got into with the rest of my family (it was them against me) because after the ride stopped three or four different times and started replaying the last scene for (I believe) the third time, I joined others who arose and tried to exit out of impatience. The very young teen boys running the ride hollered at us over the loudspeaker saying it was our fault the ride was stopped.


I was not happy (we had rides to do before 1 a.m.) but my family told me I should have been much more obedient and remained in my seat.

I’m such a rebel. Luckily - I was able to access my inner rebel on Buzz because there was no line at all. Kathryn’s gun didn’t work AT ALL and the confused look on her face contrasted with her father’s intent look cracks me up.

My family was ready to start heading out. I was a little bummed we didn’t make it to Monster’s Laugh Factory, but that’s ok...we planned to find ice cream. As we got close to the front I asked if they’d do “one more thing” for me and we rode the carousel - all of us had big smiles.

As I was soaking in the carousel, I noticed the insane line for Elsa and Anna (even at 12:40 a.m.!) but wondered about seeing Cinderella and Rapunzel. They were listed as 20 minutes but I asked the CM - is it really 20 minutes? She shook her head. We followed the line around (passing all the Elsa/Anna people on the other side of the rope) and walked right in. Oh, I”m so glad we did! One of the best parts of the whole experience was the 2 year old boy behind us who told Cinderella “I just saw your CASTLE!!!” It was great.

And I hugged princesses! (They both asked us what our secret was for 21 years of marriage and we told both of them that the kids were our secret to success.)

As we left, we picked up a couple of ice cream sundaes (yum) and my only regret about that is that by the time we got to the front of the park, it was past 1 a.m. so my last minute idea to meet Tinkerbell didn’t work. Oh, well….next time!

We were all very tired, but what a day! We truly did so many rides together at MK (especially considering the fact two of us were at the ER for a few hours, we had a nap, then dinner at AKL). It turned out to be a wonderful MK day, although I’d love to have so many more days there very soon!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 5 cont'd - June 11th MK (when I cover my head with a pillow for a while)

As I mentioned in my previous report, everything turned out ok with my lovely daughter although she and my husband spent quite a few hours at the ER. He entertained her with corny jokes and did a great job of keeping me up to date via text. (In one he texted that they felt sure it wasn’t appendicitis because when they hit the bottom of her feet she didn’t feel the pain all the way up her legs and into her abdomen. Hmmm. Who knew? That’s a handy little tidbit for you guys to keep in the back of your heads, I suppose.) But it took a while for x-rays and answers. 

After the cute pictures Dennis and I grabbed right outside of the First Aid station, we found him a frozen lemonade and one of the new cake cups at Cheshire Cafe. It seems like they are actually “icing cups” (which they sort of are, but how is that a bad thing?) - they were rather tasty, to be honest.

Then we headed over to Adventureland for more SOTMK. My son enjoyed SOTMK until it was time for the two of us to go to Be Our Guest. We had a FP for lunch and I told them at the front it needed to be for 2 instead of 4 since my daughter was at the ER. (I think I was still freaking out a bit and wanted some sympathy. In hindsight, I was telling EVERY SINGLE CAST MEMBER my daughter was at the ER. Can you really BLAME me??) They said that was fine to just be 2 people and the FP option turned out to be highly preferable to waiting in line on the bridge (of course). We still waited in a short line but the building was so beautiful, the knights in armor were really cool, and the food was…..WOW. Super high quality, especially since it’s a counter service meal! In case you’re curious, I had the ever-popular braised pork and my son had potato leek soup. (Both my kids are huge fans of potato leek soup. They are also - apparently - huge fans of Carousel of Progress. I have no idea if those two factoids are related…perhaps someone could conduct a study?)

How’s about if I just insert some various BOG pictures here. You won’t see great food pictures on my TR because other people are SO MUCH BETTER at food pictures than I am. You also won’t see great pictures of the building because I was busy trying to capture video to show my missing family members later. (I failed miserably at that effort.)


Can we all just give Dennis a round of slow-clapping for his patience as his increasingly stressed out mom insisted on repeated blurry camera pictures? (Bravo, Dennis.)

The ONE exception I will make in terms of food pictures is the before and after picture of the Master’s Cupcake that I saved for Kathryn. Be Our Guest is so beautiful and the food is beyond scrumptious. It was the only point I allowed myself some sadness that David and Kathryn were missing this part of our day. So...I got a very fabulous to-go cupcake holder and saved my cupcake for her. (That’s right, I didn’t eat the Master’s Cupcake even though I’d wanted one for months and months...what a mom I am!) I was dying to try the grey stuff but I didn’t even put my finger in it! (It was something I could do to show my girl how much I loved her while she was in the ER.)

You may remember the fiasco we had when I tried to save a cupcake in my baggalini at DHS. Well, that was just in a plain ol’ box and I carried it around for hours. In this case, I had high hopes that it would work because we planned to head right back to the hotel and I carried this cupcake in its fancy plastic container. was getting pretty warm. And, as it turns out, the Grey Stuff melts when it gets hot. That, in turn, makes the cupcake much less attractive. I wish I’d opened up the container for a better picture, but I think you can still see the change here. Not. Terribly. Attractive. 

Dennis and I did a little shopping as we left Main Street I was still worried at this point that Kathryn might end up with an appendectomy...sooooo... if that happened I wanted to buy a get well soon card and have the princesses sign it for her. Luckily she didn’t need surgery because there were no get well soon cards to be seen. (And the folks in the store looked at me sort of oddly when I asked for one. Maybe I’m the only one who’s ever needed a get well soon card at Disney??) I guess it’s also lucky she didn’t need surgery because that would have… you know... sucked. 

On our way towards Main Street we came across the cool dance party parade (which I know has an actual name...I have no idea what it is right now) and I swear on all that is holy, if I hadn't been so stressed out I would have been in heaven dancing with those characters. That is my idea of heaven on earth! But....that wasn't going to happen. Too hot, too tired, too worried (although even with all of that...I felt the siren song of pop music calling to me...).

I learned first hand how strict Disney World is about the whole “costumes must stay in a certain area” rule when Dennis needed to go to the restroom as I was hunting for a get well soon card or a magnet or something villain-y (I forget which at this point in time) because when we got directions from a CM about how to find the bathroom outside and around the corner, I told him to go on and just come back and find me later. Approximately seven minutes and thirty-two seconds later I regretted that decision with a white hot intensity. 

He’s 11 and, although I’m protective in many ways, I’m also aware that the MK is a super safe place and he’s growing up. NORMALLY, I wouldn’t worry. Of course, NORMALLY my husband and daughter wouldn’t be at the hospital in downtown Orlando. 

So perhaps I should cut myself a little slack that I suddenly began to go a little insane with worry. What if he made a wrong turn? What if something happened? I waited outside the bathroom and he didn’t come out. It probably wasn’t very long but it felt like FOREVER to me. I went back into the store and asked a male CM if he could help me. 

He immediately seemed very, very stressed and said “Let me see if they’ll let me do that.” He came back and apologized, explaining that they can’t go past a certain boundary in their uniforms but he pointed out a custodian and suggested I get his help because the custodians “can go anywhere.” So I got the nice custodian’s help and he informed me that Dennis was in there, he would be out soon, and was fine. I learned that they aren’t kidding about keeping those uniforms in a certain area! (No problem of course - the CM in the special uniform made sure he helped me find someone who could go into the forbidden no-plaid zone.)

In hindsight, I was fading fast. Not only was it warm and we’d gotten an early start, but I was worried about my girl. Right after arriving at the hotel (and happily finding it clean with a towel swan holding Kathryn’s Ariel - picture inserted again below just because it’s so adorable), I got word from my husband that Kathryn was fine and they’d be back in a few hours after dropping by a pharmacy for the necessary medicine.

It was at this point that I put a pillow over my head and pretty much passed out. I was barely coherent when they came in the room a few hours later. I think the rest of my family joined me in napping when they got back but I'm honestly a bit fuzzy about the middle of that day. I know that I managed to get everyone up and going later in the afternoon and we caught a cab to Animal Kingdom Lodge so we could enjoy those grounds for a little bit before our ADRs at Boma.

I do remember them coming in, I remember the big smile on my daughter’s face (and their funny stories) and I remember she was thrilled with the melted cupcake and said it tasted amazing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 5 - June 11th - Magic Kingdom Part 1 (the morning with the trip to the ER)

( read that right A TRIP TO THE ER.)

We managed an AWESOME rope drop at MK. I’m reasonably certain I made another hot chocolate run on our MK day because this time I managed to get a few pretty morning pictures of our resort!

No DisneyBounding for me on this day, it’s the only day we wore matching t-shirts. We bleach-decorated our t-shirts with Mickey. Here we are on the bus to MK…

By the time we got through bag check and scanned our handy-dandy Magic Bands, there was plenty of room on the left side of the entryway and we grabbed a spot right near the tree. We waited 30-40 minutes for the Welcome show to begin (I think), I told my family they weren’t allowed to laugh at me when I cried during the countdown to open MK, and we made our way down Main Street.

Side Note: For those of you who haven't been to a Magic Kingdom opening show yet and have no idea why it's worth being right up there for it (other than making it onto the rides without a long wait!) - my 14 second video of it might give you a little bit of a feel for it!

Our plan (which began well enough) was to go straight to Frontierland for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. We made it over to the spot where some CMs had the sidewalk sort of blocked. They warned us that BTMRR might not be up and going yet, but Splash was, then they had us put our hands in our pockets and mosey down the street behind them. Although I could see some guests who’d sort of gone around them I have to say I thought the mosey-ing down the street was rather fun.

We hit Splash Mountain first - the kids couldn’t wait and I think we were probably on the second or third boat with humans because the boats going down the hill as we floated around it were totally empty. I highly recommend taking an artistic 15 year old on all family trips. Kathryn instructed all of us to put our sunglasses on and look cool as we went down the hill for the Photopass picture. As an added bonus for our picture, it turned out that the couple in front of us kissed on the way down the hill.

Have you ever seen a better Splash Mountain picture? Love it!

After Splash, we went on BTMRR with no wait, then I led my family over to Liberty Square so that we could pick up Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom trading cards for my son. I figured we’d all 4 use our Magic Bands so he would have 4 packs, then we’d go on Haunted Mansion together and split up (boys playing SOTMK and girls doing other things) before lunch.

As we were waiting for our cards, Tiana walked by. She is so gorgeous!!! There was no line yet since she’d just started visiting with people, so my family humored me and we went over to meet Tiana. I guess there wasn’t a photopass photographer there, but my husband took pictures. Dennis wouldn’t join me and Kathryn so it’s a ladies picture. I was terribly impressed with Tiana. She had a perfect accent, asked if we’d ever to been to New Orleans and I told her I went for the first time last year with my husband. She asked if we’d eaten at her restaurant. I thought for a second and told her we tried, but the line was so long we just couldn’t get in. She told me that does happen sometimes but we should at least have her beignets at some point, and informed me that the restaurant over at Port Orleans French Quarter uses her recipe. Too cute! And, honestly, the most naturally lovely princess we met on our trip!

Then it was the Haunted Mansion, no real line at all at this point in the morning. The interactive queue is fun, even when you’re walking right by it. Dennis had a little bit of ambivalence (as mentioned previously, he doesn’t like “spooky”) but I assured him it was a jokey-scary sort of ride, not a ride with spooky surprises or anything. We had a good time and I had fun noticing some of the details along the way this time. After that, our FP+ time for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train was open, so I had us boogie on over to that ride.

Thank goodness for FastPass when it comes to the 7DMT because….the line, people...THE LINE! We waited a bit with FP but no more than 10 minutes. As we were waiting, however, my daughter almost doubled over in pain. She suddenly started hurting pretty badly. We finished the ride and we all enjoyed it. It really is a cool ride. Lots of fun with great details.

David and Dennis went off to start SOTMK and made a point to stop for a PhotoPass photographer "so Mom would be happy." What great guys...

Kathryn and I went off on our own. I was beginning to think that I might need to get her to first aid and I was also beginning to fear appendicitis. At first, she insisted that she would be fine and she didn’t want to stop because she knew this day was a big deal for me. She said maybe she should get some food and something to drink. We went over to Cosmic Rays and got some french fries and orange juice for her.

As we sat there, she was in more and more pain. When she finally said “Maybe I should go to First Aid,” I feared it was a serious situation. Kathryn always puts others before herself, to a fault. If she was stopping our only Magic Kingdom day because of pain, I knew I needed to get her right to First Aid and probably the ER.

As we head over to First Aid (which is near the Crystal Palace restaurant), I’m texting David. The First Aid guy (who was awesome) calls an ambulance after telling me that Disney will pay for the ambulance. Kathryn wants her dad to go with her because, as she said, “You’ve planned this day, Mom, and I want you to enjoy Magic Kingdom.” (She actually started telling me this at Cosmic Rays and repeated it many times so I didn't argue. I just began to stress out. A LOT.) :(

Although I gave awful directions to David via text, he finally showed up to join Kathryn and the nice EMTs while I went off with Dennis. In case you're curious, it's an important but very difficult mental exercise to coach yourself through something like that as a parent. You know that things will probably be fine and that your awesome co-parent is right there. You also know that you have another kiddo still in the park with you and you want to do your best to keep the morning calm and fun. Luckily for me, I have a very sweet son who was also worried about his sister but probably was trying to stay calm for MY benefit. He didn't even fuss when I asked him to stop with me for photos right outside the First Aid station where I don't THINK I cried when I told the photographer all about how my daughter was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. She was very supportive and took some cute pictures. You can just tell that Dennis is doing a great job supporting me through this morning!

Since I’m sure you’re very curious at this point - the good news is that Kathryn did NOT have appendicitis. I won’t go into the details of her diagnosis, but they figured out what was going on, it wasn’t anything critical, and she and her dad ended up back at our hotel around 1 or so that afternoon, after spending a few hours at the children’s hospital in downtown Orlando.

There are always silver linings, my friends...even in situations like this! Here were our silver linings:
- We were able to enjoy our morning rides before the pain started and the pain wasn’t anything dangerous.
- We all ended up back together later that afternoon and had a great day after all.
- Dennis got more SOTMK time. According to our original schedule, he really would have just played one round before I insisted the family do stuff together again. Once it was just him and me...and he preferred SOTMK to rides, I wasn’t going to argue about it and I enjoyed doing the Adventureland SOTMK with him.
- Kathryn got to ride on a gurney and in an ambulance. “How is this a silver lining?” you may ask. Well, Kathryn’s always been fascinated with medicine and her dream is to someday be a pediatric ER nurse. She ended up bonding with the ambulance driver, the doctors, and the nurses at the hospital. They told her she was the best patient they’d had all day (yes, it was still morning, but still!).

See, she was ok...

There’s a lot more to our MK day, which will probably take up a few more posts. I’m proud of myself for powering through and finding the joy with Dennis, even though we were both worried about Kathryn. I’m so grateful to David for being an awesome Dad, going with Kathryn, and keeping me in the loop and keeping her laughing all morning. I’m grateful to Dennis for taking pictures with me and being great company when the two of us were on our own (we ended up having a son/mom date at Be Our Guest for lunch - such a gorgeous restaurant!). So, although I had grave worries about the status of our day that morning, we all ended up loving it and actually having an excellent family vacation day. (More details about the good stuff in future posts!)

I’ll end this post with a picture of my awesome son playing SOTMK. It’s cool to see grownups and older kids with their huge books full of cards. If we lived closer, that would be Dennis!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 4 continued...DHS (Here comes the rain...)

During my last spellbinding report (well, other than the towel and window decoration mini-report), I told you about our great start at DHS. I was DisneyBounding as Princess Leia, our whole family fell in love with Rock n Roller Coaster right off the bat, and we met baby ducklings. Of course, no day is perfect, even if you’re at Disney World. My mission for this trip report (other than my obvious attempt to share family photos) is to let you know what worked for us and what didn’t work for us, in hopes that another family might benefit from our experience.

Here are some touring/itinerary notes, which might come in handy as you plan your own trip:
- Although the animation class used to be a “hidden gem,” as indicated in some of the forums, that’s not really the case anymore. The word is out and it’s quite popular. We went over to the Animation Building right after David and Kathryn rode ToT and made it into the waiting area for the next class. The waiting area was already pretty full and we needed to wait a while to go in as the class before us finished up. There were people behind us that ended up waiting through our class also, so I’m glad we went straight there after ToT and didn’t have to wait through 2 classes. The animation class is definitely worth the time - it’s cool. Warn any perfectionists in your family that there won’t be an eraser on the pencil and they need to try to go with the flow. My daughter is an artist and I love the picture my husband got of her as she was concentrating.

Here’s her Pluto. I know, right?

- As mentioned above, we only waited in line to meet Ralph. After the animation class, we went down to find him. He and Vanellope weren’t out yet and there was already a line that looked sort of long but as it turned out, it was just a 15 minute wait (and I think that included us waiting for them to start meeting). The Wreck it Ralph queue is sort of fun, so don’t be scared of the wait, especially if you get there before they start meeting.

I told Wreck it Ralph that we wanted to meet him since our last name is Reck. He went bananas with excitement when he heard our name and started pounding his hands up and down showing us how to pose for the picture. So we did. Perfect! Here are the Recks wrecking it up with Ralph….

- Some of our most fun PhotoPass pictures are from our DHS day. A word of advice, if a photographer asks you to be silly, you should totally go for it. Luckily for me, I just had to follow my kids’ lead…

- If you meet the Green Army Men and one of your dreams is to get a picture of your son with them, make sure you do that too…

- When we went to Star Tours the first time, it was our FastPass time and the standby line was just 10 minutes. I was going to use our FP anyway, but my brilliant daughter pointed out that we should do standby then come back through to do it again with our FPs. Of course! I’d even read that suggestion on the boards but I was so singularly focused on my plan that it didn’t occur to me. As it turned out, that was a fabulous suggestion because by the time we got back around to use the FP, the standby line was much longer. And....(I can't believe I forgot to mention this when I first posted)...I was chosen as the Rebel Spy the first time we rode!!! So fabulous. (And...I was hoping for a repeat of that later because, you know, I was dressed as Princess Leia so...DUH...of course I'm the rebel spy, right? Nope - just the first time, but that's still great!)

- If one of the outside shows is important to you, make time to go earlier in the day so if you run into a hitch you’ll have time to go again later. (See disappointment discussion, below.)

- Family traditions are fun. Back in 2009, we sprung for a Star Wars family portrait and we all four wanted to do the same thing this time around so after our first Star Tours ride, we posed again. This is our 2014 portrait which looks almost EXACTLY like our 2009 portrait. that I look more closely at this, I can tell that I look rather older and more worn out in this one. So...if I was a smart blogger I would post the 2009 version and tell you it's the 2014, but that would require me to go find it on my other computer and right now I'm very you guys have already seen me without makeup in the other What was I writing about? Oh, yeah....our Star Wars family portrait tradition. Voila!

- Ponchos. Pack ponchos.

- We ate lunch at Starring Rolls because I’d read good things about the food. It was way too much food (we used 4 CS credits there instead of splitting meals like we did on other days) but it was pretty tasty, especially the obscenely huge butterfinger cupcake.

- We tried to carry my daughter’s cupcake with us for the rest of the day but that was a big messy fail in my Baggalini. (No photographic evidence of that, but trust me….if you really think you will want to carry leftovers, use a bigger backpack and bring plastic containers.) For those of you wondering why on earth I would even consider carrying leftovers…I don’t have a good explanation other than the fact that I have this thing about wasting money and food. By the end of the week I got over it….

Now for disappointment #1: my son and I were both very, very excited to see the Indiana Jones show. I thought we’d catch an earlier one but it didn’t work out (we were so busy re-riding Star Tours and such) -  but no worries, right? The shows happen all day long and we made it in time for seats way up close for the 4:00 show. Dennis was looking forward to it. I told David I was going to try to get picked as an extra. I jumped up and down like a crazy woman when they wanted volunteers and was chosen first off. So far, so good! Sadly, once we got in our outfits, the casting director said bad weather was heading in so they had to cut the whole show short. We went on stage in our outfits and “acted” a bit (really, nothing) but that was it. I’m in the red robe.

But, hold the phone sister! The casting director said that if we wanted to come back for the 5:15 show we could be volunteers then. My Disney math brain started buzzing. Our ADRs for Jedi Mickey were at 5:50. Hmmmm. I posted on the Lines App: “Fast! Tell long does the Indy show last?” Got the answer - 30 minutes. (whew) Called the ADR line and asked “If I’m a few minutes late for my ADR will I be ok?” Got that answer - yes as long as you’re there within 15 minutes.

Good news for the family! We went on Star Tours again (so much fun!) - I think we got two more FP+s for this ride during the evening since nothing else was available that we’d want like RnR. Then we came back for the 5:15 show. Long story short - it was a total repeat. We got there early and got great seats, I got to be a volunteer, but they canceled the show AGAIN for weather reasons after Act 1. Same jokes, same spiel. My son said “Well...that sucked.” Yup - but we tried! In hindsight, the 2 hours we spent either waiting for the 4:00 and 5:15 shows to begin (so we could have good seats) and watching the same Act 1 two times would have been better spent elsewhere in the park. HOWEVER, this was a big thing for us so I’m actually glad we gave it our best shot.

H&V was fun because we got to see Chip and Dale as Ewoks, Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Stormtrooper Donald, and Darth Goofy.

The food was (of course) not entirely impressive, especially for two table credits, although none of it was BAD and I have to say the lobster mac and cheese was rather tasty. My husband still talks about it. Here’s a picture of the Yoda cupcake.

I insisted that my daughter pose with me in a lightsaber battle. Everyone had a paper placemat thing that you could roll into either a blue (light side) or red (dark side) light saber. My kids prefer the dark side, which is probably not a parenting “win” on my part, although it could just be that they’re way cooler than me. ;)

From a weather perspective, we lucked out because it poured while we were eating and wasn’t as bad when we got out (at least not at first). Our H&V dinner was a Fantasmic dinner so I had our passes for the first show. Back in 2009 I hadn’t seen any nighttime shows (Kathryn and I rode Spaceship Earth while Dennis and David took Illuminations photos on that trip) and it was a big deal to have one planned for this trip. Yea!

Except...not so much. It was raining off and on all afternoon and this led to disappointment #2. Sadly, the rain increased during the course of the evening so the 9:15 Fantasmic was cancelled and nobody (not even me...the insane Disney mom) was up for staying for the second showing because who knew if the second one would also be cancelled, we’d been there since 8:10 a.m. with no break...and tomorrow was Magic Kingdom.

Other than those two let downs it was a great DHS day.

Great but exhausting….we were very wet at the end of the day from all the rain, as you can tell from these lovely before (at the bus stop) and after (heading out of the park) pictures…(notice I'm smiling just as much at the end of the day because I am THAT MUCH OF A DISNEY/STAR WARS NERD - who wouldn't be on cloud nine when she's dressed as Leia and exploring Disney World???)

Regardless of our exhaustion, we found our new favorite ride that day (Rock n Roller rules!). I loved singing the wrong words to Aerosmith as I rode it although I didn’t realize until later that it’s “Dude looks like a lady” - not “You look like a lady.” I was a nerd in the 80’s. And that was before being a nerd was cool.

Anyway...we went back to the hotel and even though I missed my shot at a night show, I was secretly glad for the extra sleep. The next day was Magic Kingdom rope drop. If my family thought I was being a dictator for an early start at DHS...well they hadn’t seen anything yet!

But we were all going to have a nap tomorrow and I had a great MK touring plan. I wasn’t worried at all. I went to bed confident that our Magic Kingdom day would run perfectly.

Boy was I in for a few surprises…