Friday, December 3, 2010

Vacation to the Happiest (Most Crowded) Place on Earth

During the weekend of November 19-21, we traveled by car (only about two hours) to Orlando to visit the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.  Mungee was quite a trooper, even though we turned her world upside down by completely disregarding her schedule.  It was the first time she'd slept anywhere other than our house and she didn't take well to that, but she did okay while we were at the parks, dozing off several times in her stroller or while we held her in lines.

Food-wise, Mungee ate a lot of chicken tenders and I ate a lot of "the most delicious slightly-too-sweet butternut squash soup on earth" at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo house where we stayed.  If you and yours ever decide to visit the Animal Kingdom theme park, may I recommend dining at the Yak & Yeti take-out window, where you can score a fairly large portion of honey chicken (basically the same as the kid's chicken tenders, only covered in honey and served with white rice, carrots and broccoli) and a side of chicken-fried rice for just $14-15, a steal in comparison to some of the other park delicacies.


We visited the Magic Kingdom on Friday and I was surprised that we didn't really wait too long for any of the rides.  Our longest wait times were for Dumbo and It's a Small World (which she was quite enthralled by).  We got a Fast-Pass for Peter Pan, one of my favorite rides.  Unfortunately, Mungee was asleep for that one.  She liked the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Railroad (just kidding about that last one).  

We were going to leave the park around 6:45, since it closed at 7, but we noticed that people were hanging out in front of the castle, so we sat down.  Apparently all the people hanging around were there for Mickey's Christmas show, which normally you would pay extra for.  One cast member was walking around asking people to hold up their wristbands.  We just acted cool and didn't draw any attention to ourselves so we got to see the show.  We didn't stay for the parade though.

That night, Mungee refused to sleep in the crib the hotel brought into the room so we just let her sleep in the bed with us.  I slept terribly since I was constantly waking up to check on her.  We told her she wasn't going to get a sibling anytime soon if she kept up that trend.


Saturday we went to the Animal Kingdom.  Mungee had a slight fever, so she was a little cranky.  BIG difference in the crowds between Friday and Saturday, but that was to be expected.  We saw the Finding Nemo show, which was superb, but Mungee was scared for most of it since it was loud and very theatrical.  She was terrified in A Bug's Life and I don't really blame her.  It was dark, loud and the bugs were huge!  DH and I liked it though.  It's shown in 3-D and has some interactive elements.

The Animal Kingdom closed at 5 on Saturday (boo).  As we were leaving, we noticed that there was a Rainforest Cafe just outside the park, so we decided to go in and check it out, since DH had never been to one before.  We sat at the bar while Mungee snoozed in her stroller.  By the time we decided to order some food, the kitchen had already closed (boo again).  So of course we wound up eating in the cafe at the hotel again (yay, butternut squash soup!)

Again, Mungee would not sleep in the crib, so we let her crash with us.  DH and I switched sides of the bed and I was more comfortable, so I slept better, thank goodness.

Sunday I wanted to go back to the Magic Kingdom to get in the ride that we missed on Friday (The Jungle Cruise) and hopefully get in a few repeats.  Biggest, most awful crowds ever.  Wait times were at least an hour.  Around noon, DH got a Fast-Pass to go on Space Mountain and the return time wasn't until 4:30 pm.  On Friday we walked right into the Haunted Mansion; on Sunday the line started a mile away.  By 2 or so, the three of us were over theme parks and we went over to Downtown Disney, so we could eat at Planet Hollywood, only because we had a $15 voucher (which honestly doesn't get you much there).  We also had a voucher for a free gift, which wound up being a keychain.

After we ate, we made our way back to the hotel, gathered our luggage and packed up the car for our trip home.  I decided we needed to make a detour off I-4 in order to find a Starbucks.  Sometimes you just need coffee to make a road trip authentic.

The nice thing about staying at a Disney resort was that we never had to leave the Disney grounds, nor did we get in our car once.  We took the Disney buses to and from the hotel.  Obviously the downside is that it's pricey, but luckily and thankfully this trip was an incentive that DH was awarded through his company, so our only expenses were gas and food.

Would we do this again had we known how Mungee would behave?  Yes.  It would have been less of a physical strain if she was walking, but she really adapted well to the crowds, lines, waiting and sleeping in her stroller when she was tired.  I'm normally such a stickler for her schedule, but I felt comfortable changing things up so we could enjoy our first family vacation.  She won't remember her first trip to Disney World, but DH and I will and it will be a joy to tell her about it through the years.
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