Monday, July 29, 2013

millions of wdw photos and zillions of unsolicited advice.

^^^ Kudos to that guy for driving us to and from the parks every single day!  

^^^Remember that time when McKenna got poison ivy rashes all over her arms and legs right before we left for Disney World???  What a trooper that girl is!  It meant walking all over the parks covered in calamine lotion and bandaids, but she was unstoppable.

^^^ I guess we have a thing for cultural hats.

Thanks to Jim and Heidi for the pics below!

Betwixt the four videos and all of these photos, I think this family vacation was well documented {heck, yes!!!}. In six days, we experienced more Disney than we could ever possibly hope for. I think that pretty much makes us Disney World experts and so I feel compelled to offer unsolicited travel advice. I mean, who wouldn't want the inside scoop from a professional monorail rider?  

So, here goes...

1.  We purchased 5-day Park Hopper tickets from AAA.  We got a little discount plus we paid no tax.  We also were given Diamond Parking Passes which allowed us the luxury of parking near the entrance!  Booya!  I have to tell you, Husband had a hard time purchasing these tickets.  He prefers riskier behavior, which means purchasing cheap tickets from seedy gas stations near the park.  He still wishes he would have tried it, but I honestly don't understand how that works.  Disney World parks now have these tricky machines that match your fingerprint to the card now, so my vote is to go the legit route, suck it up, and pay the dough.  

2.  Our ticket package also came with free passes to other Disney attractions, like Disney Quest {a giant arcade at Downtown Disney}, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon.  This was insanely awesome, as we spent two full days at each of the water parks.  They were such a wonderful break from the amusement park lines and heat.  Highly recommend!  Also a lifesaver... cabana rentals.  It's expensive, but worth the money.  We paid $300 bucks to rent our own covered cabana and totally thought it was worth the money.  A shady place to relax away from the crowds?  Sold and sold.  Our rental came with towels, water bottles, and drink refills.  We also had cabana-side food service, which we had to obviously pay for our food, but it was brought to our cabana.  No food lines!!!  Cabanas are good stuff, however, if you don't prefer to rent one, it is still really easy to get to the park at opening and put towels on chairs for saving.  There was no running or racing for spots.  Actually, there was ONE lady running, but she looked like a dork and no one else cared to race after her.  There are TONS of lounge chairs.  It's Disney, sillies.  These people think of everything.

3.  Ponchos.  Bring them if you're traveling in July.  It's too hot for jackets, trust me.  But everyday {without fail} there is a downpour at a nonspecific time and those cheap, plastic ponchos were a lifesaver.  It also works to run to the nearest shop or covered ride, but that's what everyone else is doing too, so get there first to avoid a long line.  The rain is also another reason not to bother putting too much effort into your hair.  I survived on braids, bun and hats.  

4.  Columbia Harbor House in Magic Kingdom.  Get there.  It's a quick serve restaurant and it never seemed busy, which is crazy.  It's right next to The Haunted Mansion and on the way to Fantasy World.  The fish and chips are to die for.  I'm totally serious.  I would go back to Disney World just to eat these things.  

5.  We rented a house as opposed to a hotel.  We had a pool, laundry, kitchen, need I say more.  

6.  If you want to be at a Disney World park at opening, remember that to get to Magic Kingdom, you need to take the Monorail or the Ferry, so leave yourself plenty of time.  And if you close the park down after that crowded Electrical Light Parade {of my worst nightmare}, remember that there will be a loooooooooong line for the monorail to get back over to the the parking lot.  Take the ferry.  It's a much shorter line and many more people can ride that thing.  Plus, the cool breeze over the water feels pretty darn good on tired faces.  Or go ahead and squish onto the monorail.  I won't judge.

7.  Let's go back to that darn light parade.  It hasn't changed since it first started back in the day, so you have my permission to skip that madness if you want to.  Do take a gander at the castle, however, as awesome images are projected onto it before the parade.  That is amazing!  

8.  Do cool off in the Tiki Room.  It's usually empty and it's a perfect spot to collect your brain cells to endure more hot sun and long lines.  Do also cool off in It's a Small World.  I think it should be a law that you have to ride that thing.

9.  Use the Fast Pass like a coupon.  Always have one going.  You'll need it for Splash Mountain, Peter Pan, Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain Railroad for sure.  If you don't use a Fast Pass and I catch you waiting 120 minutes in line for Splash Mountain, I am going to thump you on the head.

10.  Download the Head's Up app on your phone and play the heck out of that game while you're in line.  You'll have others doing the same thing after they see how happy you are.

So, that's it.  I think.  It's all I can remember for now, so you're off the hook.  It was a fantastic, drama-free trip and that's all I can really ask for.  Disney knows how to deliver.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

i drove three hours across pennsylvania and all i got was this photo.

Jackson is off to Science camp for the week! From a Disney vacation, straight to camp. That kid is having the time! Obviously his friend/roommate is stoked ^^^ and I know Jackson is excited too. It was a three hour drive to get them there and then a three hour drive home for me, so you can imagine my exhaustion. I brought my camera so I could take beautiful scenic photos but then I got into driving mode and just wanted to get home, so no photos. Maybe I'll capture some scenes when I drive back to pick them up. Just maybe.

At one point in my journey, I saw a sign for Williamsburg, PA - "The Other Williamsburg." I was only 3 miles away. I can't help but wonder what I missed in that little town.  :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

oh boy! another vacation video!

Here is a look at our blast-of-a-time at Typhoon Lagoon!  Of all the Disney parks we visited this trip, the water parks were definitely my fave.  Husband and I, in his words, are just "water park people."  Both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are incredible.  And, although a bit expensive, renting a private cabana really made the experience that much more awesome.  We had a quiet place away from the crowds, shade from the sun, refills on drinks, all the water we could ask for, rental towels and food service right at the cabana.  There was no rush to find beach chairs, no waiting in line for food and drinks, and no worrying about our valuables.  We were able to relax and just enjoy the time with our kids.
I honestly don't think I've had a more fun experience than riding those giant waves and getting thrashed about in the water {as you'll see in the video}.  It was so stinking fun.

*For those wondering about my camera, it's a Pentax Optio waterproof-shockproof, coldproof, crushproof camera and I wore it clipped around my wrist at all times.  It worked great on water rides and roller coasters and I used it for all of the videos I put together.  It's small and handy and way easier to carry around than my big old Canon.  :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

more vacation rubbing in.

It has been kind of relaxing to put these videos together each time I find quiet.  It's a great way to reflect upon our time and remember the good stuff.  Because let me tell you, although this vacation has been amazing, the heat is always intense, there's always one giant rain-pummeling per day, the crowds are inescapable, and hunger comes viciously after walking constantly.  I will say, however, my kids are awesome and they make this theme park venturing pretty darn rad.  It's always a good time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

the vacation extravaganza continues...

The vacation continues!  This has been quite the Florida adventure.  We are going to need a vacation to recover from this one.  :)

vacations are the bomb-diggity.

Here's what this family has been up to.  A TON of fun, that's what.

Friday, July 19, 2013

four for friday.

Flashback Friday!  These photos are from last year on July 19th, our last night in Spokane.  We spent one last night in a hotel room and woke up early the next morning to get on the road, beginning our two week road trip adventure across the country: Destination Pittsburgh.  What an amazing year we've had!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

three for thursday.

ONE.  A little girl with poison ivy all over her arms and legs and face.  
TWO.  How I feel about it.
THREE.  Saving my sanity.

My poor kid.  She's such a trooper.  Kids are just resilient, aren't they?  Much tougher than I.  First of all, she was weeding in our yard and being such a helper, so it stinks extra-big-time that she now must suffer the itchy-scratchy consequences of being a good helper.  Mom guilt much?  Yes!!!  

Kids with poison ivy rashes.  Geez.  They are a lot like kids with lice.  Have you ever had the pleasure of treating lice?  We have.  Lice are a nightmare; cleaning hair, cleaning sheets, cleaning toys, throwing out brushes, and suffering through that phantom-sympathy-itching.  Rinse and repeat for days.  Poison Ivy is basically the same because the oils from the plant get on your skin, which gets on whatever your skin touches.  I've washed sheets, towels, blankets, clothes and the entire sofa and ottoman.  And the poor girl has to shower with special oil-removing soap and then dowse herself continually with calamine lotion.  Yet, right this second, she's in the living room laughing with her brother and having fun.  

These kids are my heroes.

P.S. This afternoon I had my first random experience of running into one of my readers.  She spotted me in Target and I'm so happy she said something!  It just goes to show how small this world really is.  I move all the way to Pittsburgh and someone recognizes me out in public.  So, hello Kristin {spelling?}!  It was so nice to meet you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

one year ago, today: moving day.

Would it be completely insane of me to start a blog about our move from Spokane to Pittsburgh and then not do a recap when we reach our one-year anniversary?  I should think so!

On this same day last year, the movers came and packed up our house.  I remember it being bittersweet.  I was so happy to be getting out of that house and off that busy street, but I was also sad to say goodbye to friends.  We celebrated by having pool parties at our hotel, while our belongings were getting packaged for shipping.  Looking back through these photos, I would say that {for being nervous} we all look pretty happy and content.  Contentment.  That's the look I see on Husband's face.

There is peace even in the moments of moving-across-the-country-chaos.


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