Traveling: Our flight to Disney went off without a hitch. It rained all morning last Tuesday until we got to O'Hare and then stopped so we could keep dry on our way from economy parking. Watching the kids on take-off was fun, all wide-eyed and happy. Our flight back last night was delayed an hour before take-off because of some difficult Chicago weather, but it wasn't a problem. After getting in the air Danny (our youngest, 4) said that we were flying through space. I think he took the pixie dust at Disney a little too seriously.
Flying was a good experience.
The Hotel: After arriving at the Orlando airport we went to the Disney welcome area where they registered our arrival. Our bags had already been tagged so they would pick them up and all we would have to do is worry about ourselves. We hopped on a Disney Magical Express bus We stayed at the All-Star Music hotel on the Disney property. It was one of the less costly hotels that had a suite for our family of six. We got to our room, rested for a bit, and then our luggage showed up at our door.
Our room was spacious enough for our needs (especially with two bathrooms!). We were on the first floor just down the hallway from the very large guitar shaped pool. Each night at the pool they would play music through the stereo, then play some songs the kids could dance to (you know, those line-ish dancing kinda songs) and had a couple of workers teach the kids the dances, and then at 8:30pm every night they played a Disney DVD on a big blow-up screen by the pool. Really cool party atmosphere. The kids went swimming every night after going to the parks.
The Parks: We visited all four main parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney-MGM, and Animal Kingdom. We loved them all. Molly and I couldn't ride anything jarring or fast, but all four kids rode everything they were tall enough to ride. And that was pretty much everything.
The kids had similar likes. They loved Expedition Everest and rode it three times. Danny (4 1/2) calls it "Yeti" because of the Yeti who attacks the ride. Space Mountain went over huge with the kids, as did Tower of Terror. Only Sarah (10 1/2) and Jack (9) could ride the Rock'n Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith, and both consider it a favorite. We all enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Safari, two stunt shows at MGM, and a bunch more. My favorite ride was Soarin', where they put you in seats that elevate in front of a huge curved screen and made you feel like you are flying over trees and mountains, smells added to the breeze. Brilliant.
We all VERY much enjoyed the 3D shows at each park: Mickey's PhilharMagic, It's Tough to be a Bug (Bug's Life), Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Muppet Vision 3D. The technology is very good and they add lots of fun stuff like smells and water and seat movements and the sensation of stuff on your head or feet. Along with these, Jack most of all wanted to ride Stitch's Great Escape. Previously known as Alien Encounter, this ride is where Stitch (of Lilo and Stitch) escapes in the room you are in and lots of stuff happens to you as they try to recapture him. At one point he eats a chili dog and burps and you smell it. Yuck.
The Magic: I was really blown away by the "magic" of Disney. Lots of people can make amusement parks and big rides that go fast. But Disney can make the smallest and most insignificant of rides seem like a dream and the big rides like another world. They can get you singing songs NOT because they are annoying, but because they are catchy and wonderful.
Everyone was super-friendly. Despite the massive amounts of spoiled, crying and disobedient children we saw, I never once saw a worker seem upset or angry or tired or frustrated. I never once saw a worker do anything to children but talk to them, ask them questions, encourage them to enjoy themselves, and listen to their every word as if the most important they would hear that day.
When we checked in they gave everyone kazoos and people were playing them like they were artists. We immediately felt like the hotel manager was our best friend. When we got to our room there was a personalized message on our hotel room phone from the girl who checked us in and who talked to us just 3 minutes before.
Jack's birthday was last Wednesday. They gave him a special button to wear that day that said it was his birthday. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who worked at the park said "happy birthday" to him. That included bus drivers, the lady selling popcorn, and the security guards who checked our bags for explosives before entering the park. He thought he was the king of the day, and in many ways he was.
Verdict: We had a wonderful time at Disney World. It was everything we hoped for and more. It was everything I remember as a child and more. All of us were healthy the whole trip. I was in pain most days, but it was manageable. Every day as we would pray together we were just so thankful to God for how well everything was going. And we are very thankful to be home. Thanks to all who prayed for us.
See all my Disney World photos. Will there be a video? I dunno. Not immediately, at least.