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Monday, October 17, 2016

Doing Disney Day 1: Hollywood Studios

After our trip to Disney World in 2013, the big kids immediately began asking when we would go again.  I told them we'd go back when Ellie was five years old.  At the time, she was nine months old, and it seemed forever away.  About a year and a half ago, they began laying it on thick.  When can we go back to Disney World?  I decided last fall that it was time and began planning our trip.  I didn't tell them.

When I purchased our tickets and made our reservations way back in March, it never even crossed my mind at all that we'd be dealing with a major hurricane in the Atlantic in October!  But that's exactly what happened.  We were scheduled to travel the day after Hurricane Matthew swept up the Florida coast.  Disney World actually closed for only the fourth time in its 45-year history.  Although meteorologists do their best at predicting the paths of these hurricanes, you just never know.  I felt like Orlando was far enough inland that it really wouldn't be an issue; however, I was a little concerned about infrastructure and utilities in the aftermath.  So we watched it carefully.  Needless to say, the hurricane came and went, and so did we.

We told the children in July that we were going to Disney in October.  I also told them I didn't want to hear a word about it before October.  That lasted about a month.  And then they talked about it every. day.  Not only did they talk about it, they even "played" Disney.  Ellie wanted to watch Mickey Mouse constantly.  They were all the time looking at pictures from our last trip.  It was the topic of conversation DAILY for two long months.

A lot of things were different this time around.  

Ellie was a baby, and she was still nursing.  So while I had to stop and take care of her throughout the day, she was really only along for the ride in her stroller.  Mason had never been before so he didn't know what to expect, and he was just fine to do exactly what we told him to do.  Until he discovered his "favorite" ride.  And then it was all over.  And Hannah Kate, well, she's just easy.  But this time we were dealing with THREE different opinions and THREE different expectations and THREE different ideas about what we were going to do each day.  The only thing Mason wanted to do was Splash Mountain.  And roller coasters.  That's a bit of a problem when you have a dad who can't ride because he gets severe motion sickness and a mom who just doesn't like them.  Ellie was SUPER opinionated about everything and wanted to do Dumbo and Aladdin CONSTANTLY.  Mason wanted nothing to do with either of those.  And, again, Hannah Kate was just easy and went along with whatever.

Last time we stayed on property.  This time we did not.  Our condo was about nine miles off property, and we had to pay to park each day, but the savings was totally worth it.  

Last time we didn't have access to a kitchen so we had to eat all of our meals "out."  We didn't do the dining plan either.  This time we had a condo so I prepared breakfast every morning, a picnic lunch that we took into the park each day and we packed our own water bottles.  This was so much better and so worth it.  In case you aren't aware, Disney's water is $3.50 a bottle (times five), and subpar burgers and fries are severely overpriced (times five).

We left Saturday a week ago and drove to Tallahassee.  This posed several problems for Ellie.  The kids had been keeping a "count down" calendar, but they counted down to the day we left and not the first day we would spend in the park.  So Ellie had a hard time understanding why we were not at Disney on Saturday.  We drove the rest of the way on Sunday, went grocery shopping and spent the rest of the evening in our condo.  Again, since we weren't on property, we didn't see the castle or Mickey Mouse or anything Disney.  Yet.  So Ellie was having serious doubts.  Mason and Hannah Kate looked all afternoon for the big Disney World arch, but we had to explain AGAIN that we weren't staying in Disney this time.

Needless to say, they were more than ready to head out on Monday morning.  We spent our first day at Hollywood Studios.
This is honestly my least favorite park, but we went there for one reason and one reason only.  Star Wars.  It seems Star Wars has taken over the park.  This day was mostly for Mason.


We had some time to kill before using our Fast Passes for Star Tours.  We got there shortly after the park opened so the lines were very short.  We split up.  Seth and Mason went to meet Chewbacca (it totally cracks me up that Seth is even in this picture because I can't believe he even let that happen!) and Jawa (I guess . . . I don't know my Star Wars characters, and Mason is asleep so I can't ask him!).

  I took Ellie and Hannah Kate to see Olaf.  As we were standing in line, I realized that might not exactly be the best way to introduce Ellie to "characters."  We'd talked about it, and she'd seen pictures, but she can also be very shy and reserved and, well, pretty much refuse to come out from behind me.  So maybe Olaf wasn't our best first choice.  I began to think that I might come away with a picture of only Hannah Kate with the snowman.  Ellie was very skeptical and unsure, but she did manage to (barely) stand beside him so I could get a picture.  At least she didn't scream and cry.

I took Mason and Hannah Kate to ride Star Tours.  It was a 3-D motion simulator that left Seth sick for the next two days last time we were there.  Mason enjoyed it just as much this time around, but Hannah Kate LOVED it.  She grinned and giggled the whole time.  The best part of the ride was watching her!

Ellie wanted to meet Sofia.  Again, she was super shy.  But super cute.



I tried to get her to meet Doc McStuffins.  She LOVES Doc.  But she refused.  She also didn't want to meet Jake.  I was excited about taking her to see the Disney Junior Live on Stage show.  We saw it last time, and I thought it was super cute.  And since she LOVES Mickey Mouse and Sofia and Doc and Jake, I was sure she'd love it.  Well.  She was in a mood.  I don't know why.  It hadn't even been two hours at this point.  She didn't exactly love it.  I think it's safe to say she just wasn't impressed with Disney at this point.

We rode the Great Movie Ride, which we didn't do last time.  I have to say that Seth and I really enjoyed this one!  I was reminded of how many movies I love!  I was also reminded that all of the movies I love were prior to the 21st century.  They just don't make them like they used to!  Even the kids liked this ride.

We ate our picnic lunch and then went to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  We all enjoyed this one, too.  Ellie was still somewhat in a mood and sat with her fingers in her ears the whole time (there was lots of fire and explosions and such), but I think she liked it.

We had Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania.  Mason and Hannah Kate rode together, and Seth, Ellie and I rode together.  We had a lot of fun on this one.


We stopped for a cold treat.  You can't go to Disney without a Mickey on a stick (except for Mason who opted for a Coke icee instead)!


At this point, I think we all could've gone back to the condo for a rest.  That was my original plan.  But Hollywood Studios currently has a Star Wars themed fireworks show at dusk so it didn't make sense to leave and come back considering the short amount of time we had.

We decided to wait in line to see Mickey and Minnie.  It was a long line, but it was in the shade, and it ate up a lot of our time.  It also brought Ellie girl to life.  When she saw Minnie, she could hardly contain herself!  She ran up and gave her a big ole hug.


I told Mason he didn't have to be in the picture with Minnie.  But she had other plans.  After she took a picture with the girls, she sauntered right over to him, grabbed his hand and pulled him to her.  Let's just say he thought he lost his man card that day (not that he is even old enough to have his man card yet, but she sure thinks he is)!  But he was such a good sport about it.

And then we saw the Mouse himself.  Again, Ellie could hardly contain herself.


As soon as we rounded the corner, she put her hands over her mouth, doubled over in laughter and let out a big ole squeal.

Day made.

On the way out we ran into one of the army men from Toy Story.

By this time, I had a horrible headache.  I could barely move.  I wanted nothing more than to leave, but I knew Mason really wanted to see the Star Wars fireworks show, and I didn't want to disappoint him.  So I stuck it out.  

I had my heart set on seeing the Beauty and the Beast stage show.  Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney princess movie.  We missed it last time.  We went this time, but I hardly saw any of it.  I spent pretty much the whole show with my head in my lap.  Ellie spent the whole show with her hands over her ears.  Why?  I don't know.  She's just being Ellie.

The same thing goes for the fireworks.  So I don't have any pictures of either of those.

We finally headed back to the condo after 12 hours at the park.  We were all so tired, but we were also so excited for the next day at the Magic Kingdom!         

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