Saturday, December 17, 2011

Disney = Done

Disney Photos

Click the link above to see photos from our Disney World Vacation 2011.
It has been three years since we were last in Disney World (October 2008), and prior to that we were last there in December 2005.  We seem to be on a three-year rotation with Disney for some reason.  (Although Angie and I made a pit stop in Disneyland, California a few years back because I was attending a convention out in Hollywood at the time.)

We drove down in 2005 and stayed in a house rental with Angie's family (and we only had the twins, who were two), flew down in 2008 with my parents (along with the twins, 5, and Adrian, 1 1/2), and drove down again two weeks ago (with the twins, now 8, and Adrian, now 4 1/2).  Cameron, 1, stayed behind with Mom Mom and Pop Pop and had a great time.

We left on Friday morning, Dec. 2nd, around 9am from Maple Shade, stopped in Virginia for lunch at the Virginia Welcome Center, and then stopped in Darien, Georgia around 10:30pm at a Hampton Inn to stay the night.  We left the hotel Saturday morning around 9am, stopped at the Florida Welcome Center for free juice and information booklets, and continued on our way to Downtown Disney.  We had lunch reservations at T. Rex's at 1:35pm.  We ended up pulling into the Disney Marketplace parking lot around 1pm, so I felt like we made pretty good time.  Lunch at T. Rex's was a little on the expensive side, but the food was very good.  We all enjoyed it very much, and the kids loved the dinosaur decor.

We checked into Disney's All Star Music Resort around 4-ish, and hung out at the hotel mostly.  Sunday was Hollywood Studios, Monday was Animal Kingdom, Tuesday was breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey's (at 7:30am!) and Mickey's Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom from 7pm to midnight (free hot cocoa and sugar cookies all night!), Wednesday was out Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure day, Thursday was back to the Magic Kingdom, and Friday was Epcot Center.  Angie had planned out each day so that we got the "extra magic hours" at each park.  Most nights we didn't get back to the room until after 10pm (Tuesday night it was 1am).  By Friday we were all pretty exhausted.

And we had a long drive ahead of us on Saturday.

We left the hotel around 9am and decided that we'd drive straight home with no stop at a hotel.  According to the GPS, if we had driven straight home with no stops at all we could have pulled in the driveway around 11:15pm.  But of course, that wouldn't include bathroom breaks, gas stops, food, etc.  We ended up pulling in the driveway at 1:10am.  16 hours later, including stops.  Not bad.

We all had a blast, of course.  The kids even got to spend some time in the All Star Music pool on Tuesday.  Temperatures were usually above 70 degrees.  We had one day (Thursday) that was pretty chilly (when we left the room at 8:30am, it was about 40 degrees outside).  But we really couldn't complain about the weather.  And the only time we saw rain was on Wednesday at Universal Studios, but it didn't last long and may have even helped chase people out of the parks.

Wait times for the rides weren't bad either.  We never waited more than 15-20 minutes for a ride and only used Fast Pass2 or 3 times (and not until late in the week at Magic Kingdom and Epcot).  If you want to do "Soarin'" you pretty much need to grab a Fast Pass unless you like standing for more than 60 minutes.  Oh, we skipped exactly ONE ride: Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios.  I never saw the wait time posted at less than 50 minutes.  At one point late in the day it was posted at 90 minutes.  it's not even that great a ride!  We didn't use Fast Pass on it because this was on Sunday and I had never used Fast Pass for anything before (ever).  So the thought never crossed my mind; otherwise I might have done it just so the kids could do it again.  They probably don't remember riding it in 2008.

It was strange to me that we were able to ride "Star Tours" four times (which was awesome, btw; some nice improvements over the old version), Tower of Terror three times, etc., but Toy Story Mania was always the longest wait time.  What is it about that ride exactly?  We even got on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom three or four times and never had to use a Fast Pass.  The kids did Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure four times (I rode it twice) because it was not crowded there at all.

We'll probably head back in another three years...  Can't wait.