R’s one-week-long ‘summer vacation’ happened to coincide with my last free week before returning to work, so we decided to take the opportunity to head down to Florida. We had a wonderful time! To avoid a completely unruly post, I’m just going to hit the highlights here. But beware – even a highlights-only account of a week at Walt Disney World is bound to be lengthy! :)
** Listening to the first two Harry Potter audiobooks during our drive down and back. They were just as good (and funny) as I’d heard! More on this in posts to come.
** Staying Saturday night with my sister and brother-in-law. They recently moved to Florida for their new teaching jobs and it was fantastic to spend time with them and eat their yummy homemade pizza!
** R and my brother-in-law having a boy’s night with football and rocket launches while I checked out the beautiful artwork around my sister’s apartment. (She paints and he sculpts – both very well. Between them, they have covered every wall and flat surface with incredible art. If you want to see more of his work, check out his website: Thomas Manley.)
** Getting ice cream with my aunt, uncle, and three cousins who also live down in Florida.
** Staying at the festive Port Orleans-French Quarter resort at Disney. The hotel was beautiful, the beignets weren’t bad, and we found some friendly critters on the property.
** The Magic Kingdom! Our favorite ride (largely because Space Mountain was closed) was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, although Pirates of the Caribbean with the new(er) addition of Cpt. Jack Sparrow was also worth two rides. We got halfway up one of the big hills in Splash Mountain when they abruptly shut it down and evacuated us out of the ride. We never made it back through, but we did get to view the inner workings of the Mountain. Seeing plugs coming out of the backside of the Brer animals takes a bit of the magic out of things… We also thought the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor was hilarious and we’re still not sure how they do it. R made me stop spinning our tea cup in the Mad Tea Party because he was starting to get sick, something I will never, ever allow him to live down!
** Epcot! Soarin’ lived up to the hype – we both thought it was one of the best rides of all the parks. If the wait hadn’t been the longest we saw in all of the parks, we definitely would have ridden it two or three times. I loved the mini-aquarium at The Seas with Nimo and Friends and fell head over heels for the two manatees. We had a great time walking around the World Showcase. I was thrilled to find an entire Christmas tree full of German pickles – how many extra presents does that get me, Santa? We caught one of the British Invasion performances and were pleased when they opened with I Want To Hold Your Hand, our wedding recessional song. It started raining halfway through our World Showcase stroll, so we unfortunately saw some of the countries at only a fast walk. (Even with rain coats and ponchos, we still managed to get pretty wet!)
** Animal Kingdom! This ended up being our favorite park and we spent a full day and a half wandering around. All of the animals were wonderful; we loved the Kilimanjaro Safari and really enjoyed all of the walking paths. We got tons of great animal pictures because they were surprisingly active. Expedition Everest was thrilling, although my hands were definitely trembling afterward!
** Spending a day learning that water parks are really more for kids than adults (Blizzard Beach), that I am a far better minature golfer than R (two holes in one!), and that virtual reality masks really hurt (DisneyQuest). We loved CyberSpace Mountain at DisneyQuest, going out of our way to create the scariest rollercoaster we could ride in the simulator.
** Eating tons. Some of the meals were lackluster, but others really stood out. A dear friend and Disney connoisseur recommended some great places to us. As promised, Earl of Sandwich served some truly excellent sandwiches. R ordered some fabulous Moroccan wine and mint tea (and watched some belly dancing) at Restaurant Marrakesh. R taught me how to eat crab and lobster at Fulton’s Crab House – it was so fun! Narcoossee’s helped us celebrate our anniversary (we celebrate around the 1/2 year mark, since Christmas and New Years get in the way of the actual date) with festive dessert plates. At Boma, in the gorgeous Animal Kingdom Lodge, I added ‘fufu’ to my collection of best named foods I’ve ever eaten (a mashed potato dish, it joins ‘toot’, a mulberry drink).
** Laughing at the hilarious things kids do and say. When Crush at Turtle Talk asked the audience for the name of the bikini top hanging around his neck, a kid up front yelled, “It’s an over-the-shoulder boulder holder!”
** Discovering that fall comes very early at the Magic Kingdom.
Despite coming home almost as tired as we were when we left, it was a wonderful week. Just what we needed before jumping back into real life this past week!