Saturday, June 27, 2015

Disney World!!!

Well, back to spring break week (yes, I realize it is now summer).  Part of the reason this post took so long was organizing the hundreds of pictures we had.  Doing that task from just our camera would have been easy, but unfortunately, I brought a camera charger that didn't seem to work so we lost battery to our camera about half way through the trip.  The remainder of the trip we used my phone or borrowed a camera from Mama Kay or Madgie.  Plus, we got the Disney picture package, which meant we got to keep all pictures taken by professional photographers in the park (it was actually a good deal for us).  So, that is a lot of different sources of pictures to gather and organize.  I am not making excuses, just explaining why it has taken me so long.  Oh, that and the fact that I have 4 kids that keep me rather busy...

Anyway, we had a fabulous trip to Disney World!  Matthew was quite a trooper and seemed to enjoy the rides that he went on.  We started Day 1 at Epcot.  It was a bit rainy when we got there, but I snapped this quick pic of the kids before going in.
Although it was raining, I got this picture my friend texted me of what was happening back at home....we were thankful for the rain!!
We went on a fun boat ride that everyone seemed to enjoy!

The girls inside a shark!

Next to some beautiful gardens in Epcot.  

Tinkerbell Gardens!
Here is our family outside of the Nemo ride.  But wait, we are missing 1...

He was asleep and Papa was walking him around in the stroller so he could get a little snooze in.  Thank you so much to Papa, Mama Kay, Patch and Madgie, who all took turns walking Matthew around in the stroller during the week while we went on rides with the kids.  To be honest, it was a hard week for Matthew.  He got sick about half way through the week and all he wanted to do was be in his stroller and sleep.  He perked up by the end of the week though and had a good time.  Poor Baby :(

It has been a very long time since I have been to Epcot and I was a little nervous about taking the kids because I wasn't sure how much there really was there for kids, but we really enjoyed it.  They had a lot of rides the kids liked that were different than what we have done at the other parks.  It was a lot of fun.  Towards the end of the day, the boys headed off to Test Track and I took the girls to France to meet Belle!

The line for Belle moved quickly, but we had to run to our dinner reservation after that.  We had dinner with all the princesses.  The first person we met was Belle and she had changed into her ball gown from her country dress (in which we had just seen her).  She must have heard us saying that because when we went up to her she said that it was lovely to see us again and thank goodness that she has a magic wardrobe to help her change quickly!  Wow, she was good!
Before dinner started all the kids were invited to be in a parade around the restaurant with all the princesses.  The girls joined in.  Strangely, Ben was not interested....
Then each princess stopped by the table to say hello, give autographs and pose for pictures.  We anticipated meeting a lot of characters over the course of the week, so we got the kids some autograph books and they really got into getting everyone's autograph.  It made things a lot of fun!  So here is Cinderella!
Snow White!  Ben did not want to be in all the pictures with the princesses, so he stopped getting up when they came to the table.
But to make sure Ben was not excluded, Mama Kay made sure to ask each princess if she would pose for a picture specifically with Ben.  It was hilarious and he hated (loved) it!
Cinderella even gave him a kiss!

Sleeping Beauty!
Ben got in this one, reluctantly!  Maybe he figured standing in the picture was better than having each princess give him a separate hug for a picture!
The dinner was really good and a lot of fun.  The girls were thrilled to have met so many princesses on Day 1!  On our way out, we stopped by Mexico and saw Donald Duck, where Ben got his first autograph (for some reason he didn't offer up his autograph book to the princesses!).

Even Dad got in this one - who can resist Donald Duck?

Matthew was a trooper.
On the way out I snapped this really cute shot of our whole group!
Then we had a photographer take a picture of all of us (including me!).  What a fantastic group to spend a week with in Disney World!!!
The next morning we were up early as the girls had appointments at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique!  Abbey jumped right in the chair and was ready to get her hair done!
I was quite surprised that Juliette was very timid and didn't want to sit in the chair.  So, I sat down and she sat on my lap to get her hair done.  A very nice woman saw that she was nervous and came over to read a story to her.  She was fantastic.  She had Juliette laughing and talking and relaxing.
She was reading her a Frozen book, but kept getting the story all wrong so Juliette kept having to correct her!
Abbey, on the other hand, was just loving being pampered.
Juliette feeling much more relaxed and actually smiling!
After they were all done up - hair, nails, make up and sash - they went over to the photo booth and had some pictures taken, which were included in our Photo Package!  I love the sisterly love here!  Now a lot of girls come in princess costumes to get all done up and we talked about that with the girls.  They ultimately decided that they would be uncomfortable walking around the park in costumes, so they wore these cute shirts that sort of looked like costumes, but were more comfortable, to wear instead.  I thought it turned out cute!  The whole experience was really sweet.  The girls loved it and felt very special doing it.  They also loved getting their pictures taken!

Elsa powers!
Channeling Princess Anna!

Meanwhile, Paul took Ben over to the Pirate Experience and when we were done with the girls we went over and found this scary Pirate waiting for us!
Here he is taking the Pirate Oath!  He even spent his own money to buy the costume, which was not included in the package we bought.  He was very into it and it was fun to see him so transformed.  
He got a huge kick out of walking around the park all day in this and having everyone look at him.  When he noticed a kid looking at him he would sort of smirk like a pirate, but I could see his proud smile as we would pass by.
We met Merida.

And Ben and Juliette tried out shooting her bow and arrow.  Ben got very close to the target.
And Juliette hit the target right on the nose!  Awesome shooting Juj!
Then we stopped for a lunch break.
Cutie in his Mickey Mouse shirt (unfortunately I didn't snap a picture of him in his shirt before he had lunch all over his face and shirt!).
Happy baby :)
It was getting hot out, so we went inside for a bit to stand in line and meet Goofy, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck and Mini Mouse!

Mama Kay got a special picture with Goofy too :)

Daisy Duck
Donald Duck - Matthew was actually getting a kick out of meeting the characters - love his smile in this one!
Mini Mouse

Ben really wanted to get Pluto in his autograph book, so they went to meet him while I took the girls and Matthew back to the hotel for a break.  We had dinner reservations for late that night, so we thought they would need a break mid-day.

This was the girls on the boat back to our hotel for the mid-day break.  Honestly, they played around at the hotel the whole time.  I thought maybe they would crash on the couch and watch some TV and rest, but they were full of energy.  I think they could have easily kept going at the park.  Matthew, however, crashed in his crib for a long nap!
In character in front of the castle!

When we came back from the hotel we met up with the others and got in line for the tea cups!

Madgie loves this ride!

We all enjoyed it, as you can tell from the faces!  Paul stayed out for this ride as it makes him nauseous.  

Then he took Ben and Juliette to ride Dumbo.
And Matthew rode it with Mama Kay!

I would say he liked it!
We also went on the carousel!

Uh oh, NO HANDS!!!

Then came a very exciting time for the girls....time to meet Anna and Elsa!!!

Mama Kay stayed true for Ben and asked Anna to give him a hug!
Elsa!  They were in awe of meeting her - I love Abbey's face in this picture!

We bought the picture package from Disney, which meant any pictures taken by the professional photographer during the week were ours.  So, we took full advantage of that whenever we saw a photographer walking around.  We were sure to get some shots by the Castle with our whole group!

Love these kids all done up in their Disney ways!
Finally it was time to go to Cinderella's Castle for our late dinner reservation.  They gave the boys swords to play with.
We could not get a table all together for this, so Mama Kay and I sat with the girls and everyone else sat at a bigger table together.  Our tables were right next to each other though, so nobody missed out on anything.
Then each princess got introduced to the ball room and then made her rounds to each table, very similar to our dinner in Epcot.  I was extremely impressed with how very alike the characters were.  The Snow White from both places had the same high pitch voice and laugh and even had the same signature.  Well done, Disney!
Matthew was in awe of Snow White!

Sleeping Beauty

Matthew liked Ariel's hair

And this was the only place we got to see Princess Jasmine, who Juliette really likes.  We tried to see her in Epcot, but it didn't work out, so we were thrilled when they announced her at dinner as we didn't know she would be there!
We had intended to leave the park after dinner, but when we left the Castle, we noticed that everyone in the entire park was seated between the Castle and the exit waiting for the fireworks show.  We definitely were not going to make it through that crowd, so instead we found a seat and waited for the show to start.  I must say, it was amazing.  I am so glad we stayed because they did a fabulous job and we had front row seats by the Castle since we had just come out from dinner.  The kids loved it.

Even Matthew, who was utterly exhausted, was amazed by the show.
The Castle looked beautiful all lit up.  After the show ended, it was tough getting out of the park.  Although we had great seats for the show, that put us pretty much last at getting out of the park once it ended.  The kids were all troopers though and eventually we made it back to the hotel and fell into bed!

Luckily, we had planned a rest day for the next day.  We stayed at the Wilderness Resort and it was a fantastic hotel.  We were lucky that the day we had planned to hang around the hotel ended up being a nice day and we spent most of the day at the pool.  Thanks to the grandparents who stayed in the room so Matthew could actually take some naps in a crib!

Matthew did make it out to swim for a bit though and enjoyed splashing in the water!

The kids really enjoyed the water slide!

And there was a pool party going on with all kinds of fun games that the kids enjoyed too - what a fun place!

Matthew playing in the water with his siblings.

Daddy and Matthew

Juliette enjoying the water slide.
Abbey and the water slide.

That night we went over to the Polynesian for a luau dinner.  I think I booked the wrong thing, but it ended up working out.  The food was delicious, the service was outstanding in helping us get our tired and cranky kids into the spirit, and the entertainment was a lot of fun.  And we all got festive in our luau gear and had some fun!

Mama Kay and Papa
Matthew in his lei

Madgie and Patch
Our family.  Paul and Matthew are wearing matching shirts that we actually got in Hawaii when Paul and I went for our 5 year anniversary.  We brought back a matching shirt for Ben (at the time) and it worked out perfectly for Matthew and Paul to wear to this luau!  And I am pretty sure I am wearing the dress that I wore to the luau we went to in Hawaii as well :)
Our whole group!

Because of my mistake in booking this, we didn't end up with great seats, but they weren't terrible and we could see fine.
Matthew didn't eat anything, but drank a lot of milk.
The kids' favorite part was the guy that danced (and ate) flames!
Matthew seemed to enjoy the entertainment.  Here he is with Mama Kay holding him.  I think this was taken right before he threw up all over her :(  Sorry Mama Kay!!!
After that he felt much better.  I figured it was because he drank so much milk and didn't actually eat any food.

After the luau ended, we played a little on the beach.  You can get a better view of their matching outfits in this picture.
Trying to get a good shot of the kids.

I was so excited about Matthew and Paul's matching outfits and getting to use them again (and for an appropriately themed reason), so I took a lot of pictures of these two!
The girls doing their best luau dances.

They did have a portion of the show where kids were invited on stage to learn how to hula dance...but of course none of my kids would actually go up there to do it!  That's OK, they watched and learned and practiced after the show ended.

Paul, Ben and Juliette trying out the dancing!  It ended up being a really fun night.
Day 4, Thursday, we headed back for a full day at the Magic Kingdom.  We got to take advantage of the Magic Hours on this day (if you stay at a Disney Resort, there are certain days you can enter the park an hour before it opens to the public), so we were at the gate ready to go before it even opened (along with every other person staying in a Disney Resort).  By the time we got through the gate and to where we wanted to go, the lines were already long.  So, we decided to split up for a bit.  Paul waited in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train while Papa and Mama Kay took Ben on the race track.  This was the first year Ben was big enough to drive and not just be in the passenger seat!
Madgie and I took the girls to go meet Rapunzel as the line for that was relatively short and she was one we had not met yet.
Love this picture.  This was when they were talking to Rapunzel - they both look so amazed!
Although we really wanted to meet Rapunzel, it worked out that you stood in line and got to meet both Rapunzel and Cinderella right next to each other.  Even though we had met Cinderella twice already through our princess dinners, we got to see her again.  And I will say again that she looked the same, acted the same and her signature was the same each time we met her.  I was very impressed with how well Disney casts and trains their characters!
Matthew was not feeling that great at this point in our trip, so Patch walked around with him so he could sleep in his stroller.  By the time we got done meeting Rapunzel and Cinderella and Ben was done racing, we met up in perfect time with Paul to go on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  This is a relatively new roller coaster at the park.  My kids do not like roller coasters, but this one is fairly mild and just thrilling enough for them to be scared, but enjoy it.  They came off loving it, but check out their faces on the ride!

We had a fast pass for this ride later and the faces are just as good the second time around!

We watched some 3D shows.

And we got some new Mickey ears.  We gave each of the kids some money to spend how they wanted and Ben chose to get new ears because his previous ones from our last trip broke.
That's a happy kid!
In the happiest place on earth!

We had dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant, which is set in the Beast's Castle.  Here are Abbey and Matthew in front of the falling rose petals from Beauty and the Beast.  You can tell that Matthew is not feeling great this day.
Abbey and Juliette by the rose.  I thought the scenery in the rooms was very well done in regards to showing scenes from the movie.  We got to eat in the Beast's bedroom, which was fun to see.
After our meal we got to meet the Beast!  Ben gave him a big hug.  We asked for his autograph, but the photographer told us that the Beast didn't know how to write.  It's no wonder - look how giant his hands are!
Family picture with the Beast!  Funny story, but you may remember from prior Disney trips that the girls were terrified of meeting the characters.  That was not the case at all this time - they were so beyond excited to meet everyone they possibly could!  But when it came time to meet the Beast, they both wanted to be in the picture, but not close to him and with Paul or I in between them and the Beast.  So funny!
I think Juliette wanted to be held too.  Her smile is much better in this one than the previous one where she is on the ground not protected by Daddy!
We went on the Toy Story ride, which was a lot of fun.  I loved getting these pictures taken from the ride as part of our Disney Photo Pass.
I think Matthew got the high score out of all of us.  You can tell the poor baby is just not feeling well :(
Madgie, Patch and Juliette taking their shooting pretty seriously!
I love Mama Kay's face in this one - she's either scared or disappointed in Papa and Ben's shooting abilities!
We went on the People Mover, which the kids really enjoyed.
And when we got off the People Mover in Tomorrowland, we noticed there was a big dance party going on with The Incredibles, so we had some fun there for a bit.  Mama Kay really got into it :)

And Matthew started to perk up a bit and enjoyed giving Mrs. Incredible a high five!

After some dance party fun, we decided to go over and meet the main mouse...Mickey!!
Family shot!

When we came out from there, it was almost time for the afternoon street parade, so we grabbed a spot and settled in.
The afternoon street parade was also really well done.  The kids really enjoyed it!

After the parade, we went back to Fantasy Land because we had a Fast Pass to meet Ariel in her Grotto.  Here are some goof balls hanging out by the Statue of Gaston, showing off how strong they are!

Then we went in to meet Ariel.  Now we had already met her in Princess Form, but in her grotto we got to see her in mermaid form!  Matthew was impressed!
Ariel has been a long time favorite of these two, so this was fun!

Happy Baby!

We also went to Enchanted Tales with Belle and Matthew got to see Belle again, with the help of Madgie (it's possible Madgie really wanted her picture with Belle and used Matthew as an excuse - I don't blame her!).

We were having so much fun that before we knew it, it was almost time for the night time parade!  The kids desperately wanted to stay to see it again, but this time we snagged a spot very close to the exit so leaving would be easier.  And we had some time to kill and saw a photographer, so we made some more use of our Photo Pass.  Matthew was pretty done at this point, so Madgie and I took him back to the hotel and put him to bed while the rest of the party stayed for the parade.  That was a long day - we got there before the park opened and then closed it down again!

Day 5 - Friday - our last day!  We went to Hollywood Studios on our last day.  The kids were all exhausted and grumpy at the start of the day, but we were able to turn it around and have some fun before leaving.  Mama Kay and Matthew with a Toy Story army guy.
Hollywood Studios has a lot of shows, which was probably good for our last day as it was a lot of sitting and being entertained, which worked well for us all being so tired.  This was the Disney Junior Show, which the girls liked.

During that show Papa walked around with Matthew.
Then I took over with walking Matthew around so everyone could go see the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, which they said was really cool!

Ben had been saying all week that he really wanted to meet Chip and Dale.  He had a goal of getting all the characters that were pictured on the outside of his autograph book to sign his book and those two were his last ones.  I saw them come out and quickly jumped in line and texted Paul to come meet me there with Ben after the stunt show ended.  Luckily, they made it over just as I was coming up next in line!  Ben was so happy to have accomplished his goal and kept saying the whole time that he was getting all of the autographs for Matthew and they could share the book.  Each time he got one, he would show it to Matthew.  It was very sweet.

Then we had lunch at Hollywood and Vine, which was a buffet style lunch, but all the Disney Junior characters were there and stopped by the table for pictures.  Matthew had slept all morning in his stroller, but when he woke up, he seemed to feel a lot better and was finally acting playful again.  He got a big kick out of seeing these silly characters!  He liked Jake and the Neverland Pirate's nose!

Ben and Abbey with Handy Manny.
Matthew was giving high fives to Princess Sofia the First!
The girls liked meeting her!
Finally, it seemed our baby was feeling better and getting back to his happy self!
Doc McStuffins!!!  Juliette has since become a huge Doc McStuffins fan!
The girls and Jake
There were 3D shows at Hollywood Studios too.
We had gotten to the park fairly early and were able to sign Ben up for Star Wars Jedi Training Academy, which he was pretty excited about.  Here is he getting his training.
He was supposed to be able to actually fight against Darth Vader, but the stage was outside and it while it wasn't raining during his time slot, it had rained a lot and the stage was all wet so they deemed it unsafe and canceled that part of the experience.  That was really unfortunate.  But he still got to go through training, wear the robe, and get his picture taken with Darth Vader crossing swords.

He was pretty disappointed.
After that, the kids decided to shop a little to spend the rest of their Disney money and then it was time to go.  But first, let's take some last pictures!

Happiest Place On Earth!!!

I had also bought Matthew his first set of Mickey ears, but the poor baby wanted no part of that!  Despite my multiple attempts at putting the ears on him for a cute picture, it always failed.

Only smiling because the ears fell off!

And then finally, it was time to leave.  We got in the car and headed up to Jacksonville for the night.  The kids were exhausted.  We stopped for gas and a quick treat.  The kids picked slurpees and before we knew it, Juliette was throwing up.  So we had to stop again.  Luckily she made it the rest of the way, but threw up again in Jacksonville before going to bed.  It was a long week and I assumed she was just tired and probably a sugary drink wasn't the best decision for her at that moment.  But she threw up again during the night.

The next morning, we started our two day drive back home.  We gave Juliette a plastic bag in case she needed to throw up, and unfortunately, she did use it.  It was like a contagious yawn.  As soon as Juliette started throwing up, Ben started throwing up and Abbey was crying hysterically, even though she wasn't throwing up.  So we stopped again and got everyone cleaned up.  We gave everyone plastic bags and kept going.  We stopped at Mama Kay and Papa's house in TN on the way back.  Day 2 of the drive home had Abbey and I getting sick multiple times as well.  It was a very long drive home, but we were thankful for the plastic bags that kept things fairly contained and so thankful that Paul didn't get sick too and was able to keep driving and eventually get us home safely!

Looking back on the week, we realized that poor baby Matthew was actually sick and not just tired from missing naps.  He must have had some sort of stomach bug because he did throw up a few times, barely ate anything, and was very cranky.  At the time, we just thought he was so thrown off his routine and that was making him a little sick.  Only when everyone else got sick did we look back and realize he must have had something.  Poor baby number 4!!! 

Despite the rough end to our trip, we had such a fabulous vacation.  It took a lot of planning and a lot of money, but it was all so worth it.  Disney does an amazing job of making everything so outstanding and worth the time and money.  We can't wait to go back!  A HUGE thank you to Mama Kay, Papa, Madgie and Patch for coming with us.  We had so much fun sharing this experience with you and your help throughout the week was invaluable, especially with Matthew.  What a fantastic spring break!!!