Friday, March 25, 2016

Yet Another Hotel...and Some Animals...and Some Shows...(Day 9-3/13)

We slept SO good last night.  None of us wanted to get up.  Unfortunately, not only did we get in late the night before, today is Daylight Savings, so, we lost another hour.  We REALLY loved the resort and wanted to stay and enjoy it.  But, we packed up instead and headed out yet again.

We woke up so late, it was lunch time by the time we packed up and left the hotel.  So, we decided to hit Steak 'N Shake one more time.  It did not live up to our expectations.  The waitress kept complaining that they were running so behind because they were severely understaffed.  One guy even came in from the drive-through and said he'd been waiting for his food for over 20 minutes!!  When we were finally able to get out of there, we could see at least 6 employees sitting outside smoking and chatting.  Really?  We headed out to Port Orleans-Riverside resort in hopes of checking-in.  But, no such luck.

So, we parked the van, grabbed our stuff, and caught a bus to Animal Kingdom.  Dave and Owen took off to wait out the line at Expedition Everest and Liv and I walked around Asia checking out all the animals.  Dave and Owen took WAY longer than anticipated and it was SO hot and humid!!  We kept hoping for rain because it was so stifling.

Liv and I headed off to do the Jungle Trek while Owen and Dave went to wait in line for the Mount Everest ride.  It was so stinking hot and miserable and their 30 minute wait was over an HOUR!!  Liv and I were bored outta our minds and dying.

Apparently, Owen wasn't a fan of the ride, you can kind of get that from his photo, hahaha!!!

Dave really wanted to do the Jungle Trek, so, Liv and I headed off to find Pocahontas.  Unfortunately, with her mom's sense of direction, we got lost.  So, we stopped to visit with Baloo and King Louie instead.

When Dave found us, we realized that Pocahontas wasn't even in the park for another couple of hours.  So, we stopped for some family photos and then we opted to meet Goofy and Pluto on our way out of the park.  Unfortunately, it took FOREVER.  So, Dave took the kids for a spin on the Triceratops Spin while I held their place in line.  They both love that ride.

We hadn't heard from the hotel still and we had Fast Passes to make at Hollywood Studios, so, we hopped a bus over to the other park.  Liv and I headed straight for the Disney Jr. Stage show and Dave and Owen for Indiana Jones.

We were really afraid that we'd be late to the show since it was all the way at the back of the park.  But, we actually arrived about 5 minutes before our fast pass started.  So, we hopped in line to meet Sofia the First.

The Disney Jr. show was more interactive than I remember.  Liv's doing the Hot Dog dance with the Mickey Mouse Club gang in the picture below.  She LOVED the show.  I did NOT enjoy it...they make you sit on the floor and then they bring the puppets up out of a 3 foot high stage.  So, unless they're standing at the front of the stage, you can barely see the characters...such a poor approach.  Don't know why there's been no effort to improve it.  It's a very popular show with the teeny crowd.

Dave and Owen's Indiana Jones show started 20 minutes after ours did, so, I figured we had time to kill.  So, we took advantage of it and Liv met Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins.  She was thrilled.  We debated stopping for a picture with Minnie, but, the line was long and we decided that would be pushing our luck.

Unfortunately for us, we still had a LOT of time to wait.  So, we  got a snack, an ice cream cone for Liv that looked too big for her...but, she proved me wrong...and a cinnamon and sugar funnel cake for me that I had trouble saving enough to share with Dave and Owen!

Our next stop was Star Tours, although, Dave opted out of it.  It's one of those rides where you sit in a movie theatre style seat that's on a platform that shifts along with a 3D movie.  First of all, this one wasn't 3D last time and second, they've updated the entire show with new characters from Star Wars 7 (or so I've been told) and new twists and turns.  It was INTENSE and for the first time, I felt a little nauseous.  There were a lot of these shows last time and I LOVED may have gotten a little too real for me though! ;O)  Of course, it would have been a lot more enjoyable if I didn't have to keep reminding Liv to close her eyes when it got to be too much for her.  She toughed it out like a man, but, she definitely did more than she was comfortable with while we were there.

After the ride, we had lunch at ABC commissary and then we decided to do a little looking around.

Because of the weird Tiered Fast Pass System at Hollywood Studios (actually, this annoying system is at all the parks except Magic Kingdom), our last Fast Passes were Aerosmith for Dave and Owen, and the Fantastic show for me and Liv.

After the Expedition ride at Animal Kingdom, Owen was hesitant to ride any more extreme rides and decided that Aerosmith would be too much.

So, we ended up all heading over to the Fantasmic show.  Because Liv and I had a Fast Pass however, we split up and separated before the show.  On top of that, my cell phone was long since dead.  Liv and I ended up with some pretty crappy seats on the far left of the stadium, but, down close to the action and without any big heads in front of her.  Unfortunately, she decided she had to go to the bathroom RIGHT before the show started and we had nobody to save our seats without Dave and Owen.  Since there aren't actually any Fast Pass seats, the hoards of people flooding in took our seats.  We ended up at the very back of the stadium in the overflow area and could see nothing happening down on the water, just the fireworks.  I was SO mad at her since I had BEGGED her to try right before we went into the show!!!  I do not like this show in the first place and would have been far happier riding the rides while everyone else watched the show.  Liv seemed to enjoy it regardless though, so I guess that was the important part.

Afterwards, we waited out the crowd and Dave and Owen found us at the back of the stadium.  We had our hearts set on watching the Star Wars themed fireworks, Symphony in the Stars.  It was worth the wait, it was UNBELIEVABLE!!!  Definitely a not-miss.

But, we were really glad to go home afterwards and check out our new digs. 

Based on something the girl said at check-in, we were suspicious that we had been upgraded again.  When we got to our room we were not disappointed!!  We had been upgraded to a "royal" rom.  SO much fun!!!  The only difference is in the decorations and the fireworks headboard....but, that added about $40/night to the bill, not something I could justify!!!  So thrilled that we got it anyway!

Pictures to come...

High:  84
Low:  79

Steps Taken:  19,042
Distance:  8.2 miles

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Alligators, Parks, and an Escape! (Day 8-3/12)

After leaving the condo, we headed to Whole Foods for breakfast, I just love their hot buffet and baked goods!!  Dave and I both felt better already just by putting some space between us and the condo.

We were a little behind schedule, but, headed straight for Gator Park for an airboat ride.  SO much fun!  We saw two baby alligators and one turtle hanging out in the swampy areas during our ride.  Afterwards they did a little show and showed us a scorpion, toad, and of course, more alligators.  Afterwards, the kids were ecstatic to get a picture with one!  They had quite a few more alligators in pens on the grounds that we got to look at too and a beautiful peacock walking around greeting people. On the way out, I noticed a huge alligator just sitting on the side of the highway not far from the park. It was shocking and by the time I could process what I was seeing, it was too late for everyone else!

The alligators did not make it easy to see them!  I helped you out by putting an

I'm disappointed the kid's picture didn't turn out better.  The setup isn't super conducive with the backlighting from every angle.  I wish I'd brought my camera too...

After a stop for lunch at Sonic (yum!) we headed off for the Everglades National Park and Flamingo Visitors Center.  Everything I had read said they no longer had boat tours because of damage from the last hurricane, but, apparently, that had changed.  I was super disappointed.  We didn't have time to do the tour since we had to hit both parks before they closed.  So, we looked around the visitors center a bit and then headed for Biscayne and Dante Fascell Visitors Center instead.

There were tons of people picnicking and playing in boats on the water here.  Looked like lots of fun.  We looked around and took some pictures and then it was back in the car headed for Orlando!

Dave and Owen went down to the very end of the bluff to check out the water.  

So, I entertained myself by taking pictures...

This plant fascinated me.

Again, the drive back was super boring and took far longer than anticipated.  Another 5.5 hours to be exact.  To make matters worse, I could not find a hotel with any availability.  I used every website I could think of, but, every time I clicked on one in our price range, it said there was nothing annoying!!  They all ask for dates prior to searching "available" rooms, so, I don't understand the issue.  Anyway, Dave reccomended calling Disney to see if there had been any cancellations and they could sneak us in one night early.  I called, but, they could only get us into Art of Animations Little Mermaid room or one of their $400+ rooms at a Deluxe hotel.  Art of Animation is considered a "value" resort and I had heart ache paying more for a room there than we were paying at the "moderates".  So, I declined and continued my online search.  But, after finding absolutely no available rooms anywhere, we decided just to pay the higher rate and get a Little Mermaid room.

When we arrived in the room it was already almost 11 and we were EXHAUSTED. It took us a minute, but, Dave pointed out that the room was Nemo, not Little Mermaid themed and it was actually a 1-bedroom suite.  It took another minute, but, I remembered seeing these online.  At first, the second  bed appeared to be a small pull-out couch that I was super upset about.  I had no idea how Owen could sleep on it.  But, it turned out that it was actually a third bed.  The dining table was actually a Murphy bed.  So, the kids each got their own bed which was greatly needed and Dave and I got our own bedroom and bathroom!

This place was absolutely unbelievable.  It was themed down to the bubble sheets.  I looked up the price online, we paid $195 for a $495 room!  Not too shabby!  Especially after the miserable mess we left behind in Miami!!

This was the kid's bathroom made to resemble the submarine scene with the sharks, unbelievable.

Even the mirror says Fish are friends...

All the signs were this custom laser art around the hotel.  Even the Bar label.  Super cool.

This was Owen's bed that pulled out of the wall.

Check out the chairs even!

And light fixtures...

Olivia saw this picture and I kid  you not, she gasped and said, "Oh my gosh, we even get to sleep with the fishes!!"

This is the Master room...

The ceiling lights were my absolute favorite though!!

The theming didn't stop there, the entire building inside and out was addressed.

This is the pool, SO cool!

There's also a Cars and a Lion King section.  Dave was hurrying us, so, I didn't get to scope out the Lion King area, but, I got a glimpse of the Cars.

How crazy is it that they added telephone poles to make it look like the street on Route 66?  The Motel sign in the background actually rotates even and the Traffic Cone Motel rooms are just beyond that.  SO COOL!!!

So, part of the downside of this hotel is the amazing volume of people staying at this hotel.  It's not exactly an escape from the parks.  There were people streaming through EVERYWHERE even at all hours of the night.  I took this picture of the lobby during the day.  You can only imagine the excessive stimulation it provides when it's dark outside...those lights are unreal!!

High:  82
Low:  64

Steps Walked: 12,890
Distance:  5.54 miles