Sunday, October 12, 2014

Education Station WDW

Our family has always looked for opportunities to learn while we are having fun, but since we have been homeschooling I feel like I have been more aware of these circumstances.  Our family found lots of great educational activities at WDW.  Here are a few of our favorites if you are planning a trip and want to add in some school time :)

(1) Wildlife Passport Books at Animal Kingdom- There is a "motto", hand signal, and fun stations all over the property.  The kids moved around to certain booths and earned badges (stickers) for their books.  We definitely could not have finished in a day, so they are something you could use on multiple trips. The kids learned about different animals, countries and met employees who enjoyed interacting with them on their level.

(2) Epcot alone could count in this category, but some of our favorites there included:

Mission Space (Brother is studying Astronomy this year and thought this was AWESOME! We road it a lot, ha!) 
Innoventions- We didn't get to spend much time there (they close earlier than the rest of the park) , but I love the hands on experiences the kids get. 
World Showcase / KidCot Fun Stops-  The countries can be a little overwhelming, so I loved the option of finding the kidstations in each country.  We had to ask where a few were (some are pretty well hidden), but the kids thought of it as a fun scavenger hunt. We made sure to get a stamp from each country and the employees interacted well with the kids telling them about each area. I look forward to going again one day and spending even more time in each country.

(3) Before we left for WDW Brother read 2 different books on the life and childhood of Walt Disney.  He also completed a project focused on what he learned.   He couldn't wait to hear more about him at WDW.  While we were at Hollywood Studios we made sure to visit the One Man's Dream Exhibit.  Brother thought it was outstanding.  We walked around the small museum and then watched a video on his life and the beginning of the Disney enterprise. I loved that the experience wrapped up his study for the last few weeks.

(4) Brother and I also read the first 2 books in the Kingdom Keeper Series this summer.  We both enjoyed them and the trip gave us the opportunity to discuss some of the things we read.

(5) Hall of Presidents - Magic Kingdom.  This actually turned out to be one of Brother's favorite things.  He is a big non-fiction, American history reader (yep, he said that not me, ha!) and being able to "see" the presidents was awesome!  (It was also a perfect rainy day activity.)

(6) Animation Studio - Hollywood Studios  We had a lot of fun in this area at Hollywood Studios.  We had actually heard there is a class you can take, but the line on our day was super long (probably bc it was Saturday).  They have tons of neat art activities though and characters to see too! 

I am sure there are more opportunities that I am not remembering, but I love how many things we were able to discuss while we were there. We actually didn't go on our trip with school in mind.  We wanted the kids to relax, enjoy, and spend quality time together. No school books were packed, but I loved that we could continue learning with the activities around us! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Last, but not least

Hollywood Studios was on our schedule for our last day in the park.  We actually checked out that morning and planned on driving part of the way once we left that evening.  It worked out well and we were all able to enjoy our last day fully.  We started the morning heading straight to Rock-n-Roller coaster.  It was the only ride Sister was too short for, she was a little said, but enjoyed watching all the people's photos while she waited.  We did the ride swap, so we didn't have to wait in line any longer than necessary.  Brother LOVED it and decided it was his favorite from the whole trip.  (It was pretty awesome!)

We knew we had a pretty early lunch reservation, so we squeezed in a couple more fast passes...Star Tours for Brother and I, while Hubby and Sister checked out the Disney Jr. show.  Than we got educated at One Man's Dream and beat each other at Toy Story Mania before we hurried over to not miss our meal at Hollywood and Vine.  It was a fun environment, but one my kids might be too big for next time.  They loved the characters, but I could tell it was more of a younger kid environment.   We don't watch Disney Jr much, so although they knew the characters, I wouldn't say they were their favorites :)

Jake and the Neverland Pirates-
Sophia the First-
Doc McStuffins-
Handy Manny-
One of our favorite rides was the Backlot Tour, the kids enjoyed seeing "behind the scenes" and we got off the ride just in time to see the car stunt show behind it.
We also enjoyed catching the live Beauty & the Beast show and getting everyone on Tower of Terror...even Sister enjoyed it.  Right before we got on a little boy whispered to them "you guys are lucky, you got front row!" ha! 
Flash & Mr. Incredible- The animation studio was another favorite area.  There was so much to see and do.  We were hoping to get into one of the classes, but the line was crazy!

One of my favorite photos from the trip (photo bombed by a green army man, ha!)  Thank you for MANY amazing memories Disney.  We are looking forward to coming again! (someday :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

MK Take 2

We were all looking forward to our second day in Magic Kingdom.  There were some new rides on our list and some of our favorites.  Our morning started with a ride in the double decker bus down Main Street, yes this means we never actually "walked" down Main least not until we were walking out :)

By the way, I totally love how much my kids love each other, don't get me wrong, they have their moments, but they honestly wouldn't want to be here with anyone else and are always thinking of each other. Love them!
Anyway, Sister's princess hair was still good to go, so we started another day in princess mode.   One employee yelled "Hey Princess!" to her and then got a good laugh out of how well she was trained the day before ;)

The figured out today that they could ride a lot of the rides together, instead of with one of us.  They only made us switch one time, so they had a lot of fun with that!

We started the morning in Frontierland since we didn't make it there on Tuesday.  We rode some favorites...Splash Mountain & Big Thunder and then tried to squeeze in some of the traditional stuff we hadn't done yet...Small World, Carousel, etc.  It did storm for a little while, so we also did a few more indoor things, but the storm passed quickly and we got on with our plans!

Silly girl...

Meeting Buzz, always a family favorite...
Chip and Dale...this line made me laugh.  The worked told us they were going to take a short 5 min. break...that caused 3 families in front of us to get out of line and then we got to see them before they left, too funny. People crack me up.
One of our favorite new rides...Seven Dwarfs Mine is awesome! This was the ride they wanted us each to sit with a kid.  They both loved it and I loved the pictures :)  We are behind the yellow poncho people...

Memory maker, sigh, how did I make it without you?

Pirates of the Caribbean was closed in the morning, so we grabbed an extra fast pass for it that evening since the line was long, passes = rock.
Space Mountain fun, Sister did great in the front! 
Squeezing in one more Princess....Tiana, she was teasing Brother bc he went with Hubby to get a drink and wasn't in line.  Sister gave her his book to sign and she was like "What?! Where is he?!" Ha!  He jumped in the photo and all was well. 

After enjoying another magical day in the park (and catching the Rainy Day Parade as we headed out...too cute!)  We jumped on the monorail to head to the Polynesian Resort for dinner.  Sister has a crazy obsession with Hawaii...I don't know why, but I will be glad to go too one day :) So, we booked Ohana for dinner.  It was AMAZING!!  It was my favorite meal of the trip and SO SO good.  My kids tried new things and ate a lot of their favorites.  Sister kept asking the waitress for more "brown chicken" aka steak, ha!

They brought us all leis and taught the kids to do the hula.  Super cute!

It was a great way to end our day!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A New Princess in Epcot

This year we really wanted the kids to experience some of the special "magical" fun they could have in Disney.  I thought Sister was  perfect age to visit the Bippity Boppity Boutique.  We were able to book the first appointment for Thursday in Downtown Disney, so we could get her transformation complete before we headed to Epcot for the day and our Princess dinner scheduled for that evening.  

It was honestly an amazing experience.  I know it is a little costly (I had a gift card I have been saving for 2 years to pay for it), but I really thought it was worth it.  My amazing, wonderful, talented MIL made her dress (she wanted to be Belle) and it was another magical start to our day. Brother also got to spend a little of that gift card at the Lego store next door, as good as being a princess in his book!  

Hanging with the Lego people waiting for the store to open...

The "Fairy Godmothers" came out right on time and got each girl to start preparing.  We changed into her dress and her Godmother got to work.  She choose a traditional princess look.  They did her hair and makeup and of course, tons of glitter.  One of my favorite things was the photo people they have there that was included in my Memory Maker package.  They took tons of photos and I could just enjoy watching her take in the experience!

Beautiful!  She was so shy at first, I think she didn't know what to think of herself. Loved it!
They give the girls a sash, crown, extra makeup and a bag to keep it in.  I was impressed with the overall experience.  For some reason they also gave me a bundle discount and an additional $15 off, which I didn't complain about.

Along with our Memory Maker package they also have a photo studio that they will include pictures additional charge.  The took some adorable ones of her in her dress.  I truly believe they made her feel like a princess for the day, thank you Disney!

We left Downtown Disney and got to Epcot with plenty of time to explore. The employee at the turn style started our Princess Day by bowing to Sister and welcoming her to Epcot.  This was definitely a theme for our day.  The workers were fabulous about treating her like royalty and making the day super special for her.  People would bow, take her hand, let us scoot through a little faster in line, and talked to her in Turtle Talk ("Princess with the brown clam shell on her head", ha!)  It was a day a little girl would dream about!
One of our favorite memories was meeting the characters...the boys ran to ride a quick ride and Sister and I squeezed in last in line to see them.  They knew she was last and took so much extra time and care with her...Mickey danced with her...

and spun her in circles...
Goofy kissed her hand, and bowed to her.  I love the expression on her face.  She was filled with joy!

Minnie treated her like a princess!

And THEN they all joined together for a special photo with all of them. WOW! Disney employees KNOW how to make memories :)
Big hugs before we left.  I was a little sad the boys missed it, but it was one of the highlights of her day!
We spent the morning watching shows and checking out some rides. Brother LOVED Mission Space (we rode it a lot).  We are studying Astronomy this year and he kept saying "come on Mom, it can be for school! Ha" 

Epcot Kidstations- 

We were also there during the Food and Wine Festival, not our preference and we will probably try to avoid it next time.  I know they have some neat foods, but the crowd level was pretty heavy in that area and a little rowdy for us at night.  We enjoyed our quick service lunch in Mexico though.  Our friend recommended it and it was awesome! I would go back now, just for some of their rice.

Family photos around the park, have I mentioned today how much I love Memory Maker?
Sister with her new fan!  They each received a few dollars to spend for the week and she had held off until today.  It was a nice fan!

I love this photo of her...taken by a random photo pass person, so sweet!
He took this precious one of the 2 of them too!

Meeting Duffy!! yay!  The kids received a Duffy bear the night before and were SO thrilled to meet him.  The story behind him is sweet if you don't know it.  Minnie made him for Mickey to take on a trip, so he wouldn't be homesick.  He became the "Disney" bear.  See the Mickey face on his face? Adorable!  Sister is still sleeping with him!
World Showcase fun! I would love to take the kids back, just to spend a day here.  We enjoyed checking out all the Kidstations in each country, but with the crowd and our dinner reservation in Norway, we kind of had to book it around the world.  I would enjoy seeing it at a slower pace and really focusing on each country.

For dinner we booked the Princess meal in Norway.  The characters and atmosphere was great, but we all agreed the food wasn't our favorite...especially for being our most expensive meal. (Well, it was free, but you know what I mean :)  The best part for Sister was meeting Belle at the beginning.  Twins!

Brother totally took one for the team and enjoyed this meal and pictures with princesses for his Sister. He is a great big brother like that :)
Princess Aurora
 Snow White-
 & Ariel (with legs this time :)
After dinner we squeezed in one more fast pass, test track!! Even princesses like to go fast, it was awesome!

And we headed out for the night with the ball sparkling in the background.  It was our longest day, but one we would never forget!