Seven years ago Matt and I went to Disneyworld with my family (Kaleb stayed with Matt's parents in Colorado) and I was anxious to go back. In April of last year I found airfare for only $121/per person to Orlando and we decided to book tickets for September. We always try to go off season so that we don't have to deal with crowds and housing is cheaper. We used the same company (Alexander Homes) to rent a house from that we used last time, it's much cheaper splitting a house than getting hotel rooms and you get your own private pool. And this time the house we were in (this house) was in a really nice gated community. It's nice to have a place to cook and do laundry. There were 16 of us total that were able to go on the trip so we had 2 houses and 2 vans, one 15 passenger van and one minivan.
We had a 10-day park hopper pass that also included days to their water parks and other attractions (miniature golf, Disney Quest, etc.) and we also spent 2 days at Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure. So of the 15 days there, although more like 14 since our flight came in at 11:00pm the first day we spent 14 days at parks. (Ten days at the Disney parks, 2 days at the water parks, and 2 days at Universal/Islands of Adventure) We had so much fun but we were definitely exhausted at the end of each day.
These pictures aren't really in any order, just a bunch that I picked out of the 1,000 or so pictures I had to choose from!
I was most worried about keeping Olivia happy during our flights. The way down we stopped in Las Vegas and headed to Orlando from there and the way back we had a stop in Phoenix before getting to Salt Lake. The one hour flights I wasn't worried about but the 4 1/2 hour flights I worried she might be fussy. Luckily she couldn't walk yet so she was still at the age where she was fine to sit on our lap but I don't think she would do well on a flight right now at 16 months old, she's just too busy. But for being 11 months old she did awesome. We had plenty of food, toys, suckers, books, and extra clothes on hand. Luckily her only blowout happened right as we landed so I hurried off the plane to take care of it. This was the boys first time on an airplane and they loved it.
This was our first day in the parks, part of our group flew out a day later so they didn't arrive until later that night. I also purchased ahead of time Photopass+ (which has now changed to Memory Maker) which gives you a disc/download of all of the pictures taken in the parks plus the attraction pictures. You can have as many photos as you want and with such a big group everyone was able to get pictures on their own card and then add them to the one account and we didn't have to worry about asking strangers to take pictures for us. We don't usually use this service in Disneyland but with this 15 day trip it was definitely worth the money. You also get a disc with amazing professional photos of the park with copyright to print them.
Big Thunder Mountain is always a favorite ride of ours.
This was taken while waiting for a show in Epcot. My uncle always makes beef jerky to take on trips and we're always snacking while waiting in line. Olivia loved chewing on the beef jerky. (Olivia was at the age where any hair clip I would put in her hair would immediately get pulled out and after 10 times or so I would just give up, I didn't care if people thought she was a boy at that point.)
The first time seeing The Lion King musical they had Kaleb and Ashton come up to dance around at the end but Ashton wouldn't go up. We offered him money, legos, nothing could get him to budge. And the boys and my sister are big pin traders so instead of always having to give them their pins they kept them in their fanny packs and could trade on their way to the next ride with all of the castmembers. They love pin trading and it's something else to keep them entertained in lines.
Animal Kingdom is great because there are still rides like any other park but you also have animals and interactive places to go. The goats would run from one shaded area to another shaded area and Ashton would follow them to go brush them.
Olivia did really good for the most part, we were always gone all day so she had naps in her stroller, or a line, or a show, wherever we were that she could fall asleep but as you can see she wasn't always happy at the happiest place on Earth. Although in another picture taken 2 seconds late she is smiling.
I don't think people realize how many rides that babies can go on, yes there are a handful of rides in every park with height restrictions but about 80% of the attractions Olivia was able to go on. Even when she was 5 weeks old in Disneyland she went on all but 5 or 6 rides.
Olivia's favorite ride was It's a Small World. She would clap and smile the whole time and loved looking at everything.
Typhoon Lagoon was the first water park we went to. The boys couldn't get enough of the water slides and wave pool. Olivia was a fan of the lazy river and sitting in the shade. Kaleb even did the snorkeling they have where you can see all sorts of fish, sharks and sting rays. He didn't like the salt water and didn't like the freezing cold water but it's always fun to do.
She found the bag of suckers in the cooler and was able to get one unwrapped.
One of the evenings after a water park we tried to go miniature golfing but the wait was over an hour so we took some pictures and left. It's sad that this was the longest line we encountered and it wasn't even for a ride.
This was also the only time my hair was down the whole trip. I forgot how miserable the humidity is, 2 weeks of non-stop sweating!
The show they projected on the castle was amazing. I couldn't believe how clear some of the images were.
Wreck It Ralph
One of the times we went on Splash Mountain I didn't have the card with me so I had to take a picture of our ride picture. The boys were having too much fun in the front.
The boys bought some plastic pirate knives and were sword fighting the whole way out of the park this night.
The last thing we did before leaving for the airport was watched The Lion King musical one more time and this time the boys were picked again to come up and Ashton went willingly, no bribing or anything! This is also the only really bad day of rain so unfortunately after this we had to get to our car in a downpour and we were all soaked heading to the airport. I had a cover on the stroller but Olivia didn't like it so I was carrying her a worker felt bad that she was getting wet and gave us one of the park ponchos to cover her up. We were lucky to only have a couple of mid-day quick rain showers while we were there and one day it rained for a couple of hours but other than that we didn't have to use our ponchos and umbrellas very much. We really lucked out with good weather.
Olivia just chilling in the stroller.
Another favorite ride of ours is Pirates of the Caribbean.
This is Ashton at Universal Studios on the back-lot tour. It had been a long time since I had been to Universal Studios in either California or Florida and a lot had changed from what I remembered.
Olivia waiting in line for the 3-D Minion Ride. What's nice about Universal Studios is for some of the rides where you have to be a certain height they have a non-moving section for little kids or people who don't want to motion part of the ride. So while everyone else was in a "car" for the minion ride Olivia, my grandpa and I sat on a bench in the front and were still able to watch the movie.
Kaleb was really excited to see the Harry Potter land and go on the rides. I don't read and I've only seen the first 2 movies so although I didn't understand everything I thought they did a really good job. Although the main ride made me really motion sick. Kaleb really wanted to go again before we left the park and nobody wanted to go again so I went and closed my eyes the whole time hoping to not get as sick.
The dueling dragons roller coasters were really fun and fast. Ashton wasn't tall enough to ride and wanted a picture by the sign although I don't think we could have convinced him to go on the ride anyways even if he was tall enough. As you can see by the 5 minute wait we didn't have a lot of lines to wait in.
The Men in Black ride was like the Buzz Lightyear ride in that you have guns and are shooting at things as you go through the ride. You have to be careful to only shoot the aliens and not the humans though.
There was an area with music to dance after the minion ride and the boys wanted their picture taken with some of the workers.
Olivia trying on a pirate hook.
And some pirate Minnie ears.
Eating some beef jerky waiting while waiting in line.
This is at the Blizzard Beach water park. More fun slides and pools to play in.
Olivia was ready to get in the lazy river.
Olivia took plenty of stroller naps throughout the 2 weeks we were there.
The last ride in Magic Kingdom we went on was Big Thunder Mountain and the boys love when they get to sit in the very back.
The rest of the pictures are some of the pictures from our Photopass.
Kaleb's first time on Everest. This picture is taken as you go backwards in the dark.
And here's Ashton for the first time.
As scared as he looks he loved it and he wanted to again right after so he did. I love how Ashton is plugging his ears from the noise. I think the 2nd time they knew what to expect so they were even more scared but still loved it.
This is at Hollywood Studios with all of us.
The Rock "n" Roller Coaster is definitely the most intense ride at any of the Disney parks. The first time Kaleb went through the line and then changed his mind so then I went with him and he went on it. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and I forgot how fast that really was. He screamed so loud but when I asked him after if he liked it he said yes but that it was really fast.
By this time Kaleb was getting to be a pro at most of the new rides. A big change from the first day he went on Everest.
Then this was right after going on it again, something about the second time in a row Kaleb's always scared and Ashton plugs his ears.
We don't really wait in lines to meet the characters because the boys would rather go on rides but while some of the adults were shopping they stood in line to meet Doug and Russell. Kaleb yelled "squirrel" to Doug and he ran over to a wagon he had and pointed and there on it was a stuffed squirrel.
Olivia made the Buzz Lightyear ride more challenging by trying to steer us where she wanted while we were shooting.
This time we put my dad and uncle in the front and the kids in the back so we were soaked after this ride.
We all said we would keep our hands down but Kaleb couldn't resist so I'm trying to hold his hands down.
It wasn't worth waking up Olivia from a nap for the picture so she stayed in the stroller for this one.
Kaleb wasn't quite as scared this time.
And now he even is brave enough to put his hands up on Everest. I think that's what's so fun about going on thrill rides, you're scared but having fun and want to go on the ride over and over again.
This is obviously just a small glimpse of our trip to Disneyworld, there are so many rides and fun things to do and we really had a blast the whole time we were there. After a difficult year for much of our extended family it was nice to have so much fun together even if everyone wasn't able to come on this trip. It was a much needed vacation and maybe in another 7 years we'll be able to go back!