Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our Disney Hootenanny 2012!!!

(Warning...long post ahead)

In June of this summer, we took our long-anticipated, much-celebrated, overly-planned for Disney extravaganza trip and it was every single magical moment I had thought it was going to be! This was a trip that will go down in the family vacation history books, and will be talked about for generations to come!

This trip was particularly special for me because it was Regina's first time in Disney, and although Keegan has been two times prior to this, it was really her first time that she could participate and comprehend the fun! We pulled out all the stops to make this a special time for us all. We stayed at the new Art of Animation Resort in the Finding Nemo family suites...AWESOME is an understatement. The resort has only been open for 2 weeks prior to our arrival and it was absolutely perfect. Everything that you would expect from Disney and more! Here are a few shots of our resort:

The splash area at our resort pool

LOVE the pool!

We were in the Mr. Ray building, and this was the mural that greeted us coming off the elevator

As is our family's tradition, we started the trip having dinner with Mickey and the Gang. I really talked a lot about Chef Mickey's with the girls, and they were super excited to have Mickey cook them dinner. As usual, Mickey did not disappoint! For me, Chef Mickey's is the real starting point of my Disney vacation, it's the perfect Disney welcome, the transition between the stress of travel and leaving home behind and getting into the vacation attitude. Plus, the food is not so bad! A highlight from this trip is seeing Regina hug Mickey for the first time...I had to hold back tears (I did see Nana shed some though)! Keegan is a bit more reserved with her emotions than Regina is, but I know she was thrilled to meet them as well. Giana is an old pro at this character stuff, so she knows what to expect.

The highlight of every Chef Mickey dinner is seeing Dad wave his napkin in celebration!!!

I'm not acting here, I am THIS EXCITED to be kicking off our Disney Hootenanny!

Day 1: Magic Kingdom
Another Disney vacation tradition for our family is to go to Magic Kingdom on our first day. And what a day it was! We started off in Fantasyland and first rode the dueling Dumbos-what a treat! We rode all of our favorite rides including It's a Small World, Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Keegan went on this too--she LOVED it, what a brave girl!!!), and Pirates of the Caribbean (my absolute, hands down, most favorite attraction). We also tried a new restaurant this time around: Tony's on Main Street. A big thumbs up for location and theming, but the menu leaves a lot to be desired.

Day 2: Hollywood Studios
This park used to be my least favorite (and by least favorite, that doesn't mean I didn't like it, just liked it the least), but is now really moving up the ladder. We had to take the afternoon off to nap the girls (BOOO...) so I didn't get as much time as I would have liked, but it was still fantastic! Thanks to the dining plan, we tried a new restaurant, Hollywood and Vine for lunch. Two great big thumbs up. Good food (lots of healthy and vegetarian options) and not very crowded. A lot of time with the characters too!

Apparently there is an ice cream shop in the dino. High on my list to try next visit!

Keegan and I rode Toy Story Mania together...we decided this will be our special ride forever!

All refreshed after our afternoon naps!

OMG...Giana was petrified on Rockin' Roller Coaster!!
Day 3: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (or, Every Person Comes Out Tired!)
Our day at EPCOT started out with the Princess Breakfast in Norway (Barf, if I ever have to do the princess breakfast again...). We then toured a few places in Future World, and laughed ourselves silly riding Soarin' with Mom! It rained a lot, so we ended up calling it a day before doing much else around EPCOT.

The original Disney crew...we've added to our club through the years!

Belle is Regina's favorite princess

Ariel is Keegan's favorite princess

The world travelers!!!

Day 4: Animal Kingdom
I know I've pretty much said this about every park so far, but I really like Animal Kingdom. It has such a different vibe than the rest of the parks. I feel it is peaceful and respectful and slower paced. But, just like the other parks, it's very crowded! Saw the Festival of the Lion King show for the first time, and in true Disney spirit, it was fabulous!

Doesn't this remind you of Jurassic Park?

You know it's been a good day at Disney when you fall asleep in the stroller!

Day 5: Back to the Magic Kingdom
One last trip to see what we didn't on the first day. It was hot and very crowded, and we were all a little tired and achy, so we called it a day early in the afternoon. Here are some additional pictures from our trip (we had about 1000 total, so it was pretty hard to choose my favorites).
Keegan on the magical express waiting to arrive at our hotel

View of the Castle from Swiss Family Tree House...looking at the castle never gets old

All tuckered out

This was waiting for the bus on our last day...not happy to be leaving.