Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vacation Day 3 to 4 (Disney World!)

First off - I have to say learning a brand new camera with all kinds of bells and whistles is better done from home - before the key shots of your vacation are happening - but, although some look "aged" or blurry because of my having the wrong setting - most came out great considering these were the first ever pictures I'd taken with this new camera. So here we go -
We all headed to Disney World and got checked into our hotel, the Contemporary Resort. We had a little wait before our room was ready so we headed down to the lake area and checked out the little speed boats - Gordon acted like he was Mr. Howell on Gilligan's Island on a 3 hour tour. Litte stud muffin! First thing we did when we got in our room? We napped. We're just too wild and crazy.

When it was almost dark - dinner time, we boarded the monorail in the hotel and Gordon saw "Mickey's Castle" for the first time - he was ecstatic. Our one and only "character" encounter happened soon after we entered the Magic Kingdom. Gordon got to hug Pluto and was fascinated with touching his whiskers. I was disappointed that he never met Mickey Mouse up close.
I have visited Disney World probably hundereds of times while growing up in Florida and having my sister work there for almost 30 years now (I can hardly believe it has been that long - she started when she was 16!) and we were amazed at the crowds. Even Debbie said she has never seen it so crowded before. Elbow to elbow. Stroller to heel.

Papa bought Gordon a fancy schmancy balloon, Mickey in a bubble...and Gordon was ready to go - he'd have been happy with just that :)

We stopped to watch Mickey and Cinderella light up the castle for Christmas. Beautiful! Then we found a place to sit and wait for the paradeThe parade was "interesting" to me -
The pictures above were the cutest ones, overall it was definitely not as good as the electrical light parade they used to have years ago, similar, but more "flamboyant" - I thought it was like Liberace designed it...a little more on the "artsy" side than the emphasis on the characters and cuteness that there used to be. Gordon watched, completely enthralled from atop my shoulders (my neck will never be the same...40lbs feels like 140 after 5 minutes!) But he was totally enthralled by the night time parade and if I even slightly turned away to adjust his weight he gripped my head with his hands and said "No Mommy - I want to see the parade!!" So setting him down or handing him off to my Dad was not an option. After the parade was over, crawling slowly through the crowds we only managed to ride the Tea Cups (Gordon LOVED these as you can see in the pictures)
and then got to see the Country Bear Jamboree, I think Gordon was a bit perplexed at the singing bears. We exited the show just in time to see the fireworks. The noise of the fireworks really startled Gordon. He loved the showering sparks "the sky is colored", but he wasn't too sure of the loud explosions, although he wasn't too upset, just a bit concerned - as in - "its okay mommy, you don't have to be afraid?" It is funny - when he is a bit afraid of something he tells me that I don't have to be afraid, so sweet. After that we were swept up in the flow of people slowly crushing towards the exits. I still am amazed at the sea of people and it was not a good feeling to be so crushed. The park was open for resort guests until 2 am...we were back to the hotel by 10:30. It was a rough night between my breathing from my cold and Gordon's tossing and turning (normal for him) keeping us all up. On Monday we ate breakfast at the hotel and ventured back to the Magic Kingdom. Due to the crowds, and the heat, we moved slowly and saw only a few things, but we still enjoyed the time, and seeing Disney through Gordon's eyes. Watching the daytime parade - waving to Mickey

A little boy was all tuckered out while waiting in line for It's a Small World...

But he came to for the actual rideThat night I called Guest Relations and asked where we could go eat near our resort where we could sit down and be served...not the buffet style or get your food and find a table types of places that are most "walk in" restaurants at Disney. We were very lucky and there had been a reservation cancellation at the nearby Polynesian Resort, Ohana. It was just Papa, Grandma, Gordon and I (I think we wore Deb out). If you visit Disney World I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant. This is not a picture I took - but it shows the barbeque pit: Get reservations early (as I said, we were lucky and managed to snag a rare cancelled spot) and definitely take the kids. The best thing is this place manages to entertain both the kids and provide an atmosphere that is great for adults too AND amazing food. The view is spectacular - floor to ceiling windows through the whole large room look across the lagoon at the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella's Castle. There is a volcano in the foreground that doesn't block the castle view - and it routinely spouts steam and "lava" as it erupts - Gordon was quite fascinated. While we dined the kids were invited to participate in some games - an emcee who was quite entertaining had them come up and have a race pushing coconuts with little brooms - it was quite fun to watch because the coconuts wobble in every direction but the way the kids wanted them to go. Then there were other games but the most fun to watch was the kids learning the hula...Gordon tried to join in on that one - but he wasn't sure about the hula moves so he just invented a few of his own...I'd say closer to a combination of disco and breakdancing! Besides the great family fun, the food was EXCELLENT! It was Hawaiian barbeque style - with a big open fire barbeque at the center of the restaurant where it was being prepared. We devoured shrimp, pork, steak, chicken, and even turkey - served from 3 foot skewers that are brought around to your table - all you can eat of everything, and accompanied by wonderful sauces, potstickers, veggies, and fruit. It ended with a wonderful dessert. When we'd eaten our fill we all waddled down to the shore of the lagoon just in time to sit on the sandy beach and watch the fireworks and waterfront electric light parade across the lagoon. A blurry shot - but there's our hotel across the lagoon too. This was neat - the fireworks exploded in the shape of the United States - and the water parade tied into the patriotic theme too. It was a perfect end to our Disney visit. We stayed that night at the Contemporary again - we were so full and tired - what a luxury to just hop on the monorail and go to our room. Although, it was rough sleeping with squirmy Gordon who ended up falling out of bed on his head in the middle of the night. Oops. Thankfully we went home the next day just tired, with no injuries :)

To be continued...