Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Big Disney Vacation; Day Six

We have a tradition for our Florida vacations that, much to my delight, we’ve maintained even though the girls are no longer babies; we love the Disney character breakfasts.  A few years ago, someone gave us some shit about this, saying that our kids were “too old for that kind of thing” and generally trying to make them feel bad for enjoying it.  To that, I say, “bullshit.”  Disney does a lovely breakfast buffet and having characters stop by for hugs and photos is a fun way to spend a morning.


Punk and Bean at a character breakfast in 2004.  I have a picture of them at a breakfast when Bean was an infant (and terrified of Pluto), but that was taken on film and the photograph is tucked safely in a box, inaccessible to me where I am writing from now).

We decided to book our breakfast for this trip at the Grand Floridian (we’ve had stints at Chez Mickey, the Polynesian, and the Beach Club resorts).  This was a much more “grown up” character breakfast; we met with Pooh and Piglet, Mary Poppins, and Alice and the Mad Hatter (who gave Bean a tea bag from his pocket by way of inviting her to a tea party) and it was very low-key (unlike at Chez Mickey and the Polynesian, where there were regular intervals of dancing and napkin-waving).  We noshed on Mickey-shaped waffles, some lovely omelets, and all the fruit we could eat.

It was perfectly lovely, and I’ve decided that, no matter how old we get, we’re going to keep going to character breakfasts.  Hell, Mr. Chili and I decided that we might just do a character breakfast our own if we ever go to Disney without the girls…

After the meal, we strolled around the hotel for a bit (it’s GORGEOUS; huge and grandly appointed with chandeliers and wide, sweeping staircases), then made our way to the Monorail station so we could head to the Polynesian resort to look for a Hawaiian shirt for Mr. Chili (which was a good excuse for the Monorail ride, which I wanted to take, anyway).  We perused the shops at the Polynesian, but Mr. Chili didn’t find a shirt to his liking and I was disappointed to find that there wasn’t any good Lilo and Stitch merchandise there; I figured there would be, and I was after something Stitch for my souvenir..

After a bit of shopping, we got back on the Monorail to the Grand Floridian, then back to the car, then back to the apartment to change for Typhoon Lagoon.

Yep; today was a water park day.

We had a fantastic time.  We found a spot in the shade to leave our things, then we headed straight for the lazy river feature, which circles literally the entire park.  We were surprised to find that the water was quite a bit colder than we were expecting; our recollection of our last Disney water park experience (at the now-abandoned River Country) was that the water was significantly warmer, though whether that’s because the water was heated or because we were there during a different part of the year, I don’t know.  In any event, it took us a while to acclimate to the water, but once we were used to it, it was a lovely trip.

Every Disney attraction has a back story; this one’s is that a huge storm hit this little community and changed everything.  The first attraction we hit after the lazy river was the “Crush ‘N Gusher” ride.  Set up as a “fruit washing facility” that was damaged in the storm, the ride is a set of three tube slides that are more like roller-coasters than flume rides; you actually get to go UP as well as down, and it’s a hoot.

*disclaimer* I didn’t shoot this video; I found it on youtube.  It’s a really great representation of the ride, though

We did that a bunch of times, then we heard the alarm horn for the wave pool.

Typhoon Lagoon has a gigantic wave pool in the center of the park, and periodically, it spits out a series of body-surfable waves.  Mr. Chili was invested in playing in those waves, so we made our way to the pool and bobbed about for a bit.  Punk and I swam out into the wave zone, thinking that the big waves would be forthcoming, but we kind of wore ourselves out waiting (note; if you’re not a really strong swimmer or you’re even a little nervous in the water, do not – I repeat, do NOT – swim out into the middle of the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool.  I consider myself to be both competent and confident in the water, and staying out there was a LOT of work for me).  We finally gave up waiting and headed back behind the ‘red line’ where we could touch the bottom and weren’t being tossed about quite so much.

I think we misunderstood the alarm horns, because it was a really long time before the big waves were pumped out; in fact, I’d about given up waiting and was making my way out of the pool and back to our stuff when another alarm horn sounded and we heard the big “whoomp!” of the wave generators.  Mr. Chili was out like a shot and I have to admit a tiny bit of panic when I lost sight of him (it’s a big pool and there were a LOT of people in it; it was hard to keep track of one person).

*I didn’t shoot this video, either.  In fact, I didn’t even bring my phone in the park; it stayed in the glove box of the car the whole day, so I don’t have many personalized images of this part of our trip.  Mr. Chili brought his camera, but he only took pictures of us before we started the day.

After the big waves subsided, we all decided that we were peckish, so we headed to the gift shop to grab a snack and made our way back to our towels for a bit of a rest (seriously; staying afloat in that wave pool is a LOT of work, and I don’t think you realize it until you’re out.  I can’t imagine being a lifeguard at that station; you’d have to be on high alert ALL the time).  Properly restored, we decided to take another trip on the lazy river to the other side of the park so we could check out the other tube rides.  We took a spin on the family flume ride (the tubes were big enough to accommodate all of us at once), we each took a turn down the body slides (those, frankly, are my favorites.  Tube rides are fun, but I like the body slides best) and then Bean and I did an individual tube ride while Punk and Dad beelined back to the wave pool.

The waves were still going when Bean and I hit the bottom of our ride, so we decided to make our way back to the Crush-N-Gusher for another go.  We ended up on the one run we hadn’t hit in the morning, and it was the best one, so we went on it again, then made our way back to the towels.  When Mr. Chili and Punk returned, we took them back to the Crush-N-Gusher to make that run and, by then, the park was starting to close.  We dried off, gathered our stuff, and made our way to the car.  We were pretty wiped out, but very, very happy.

The rest of the day was very low-key.  We went back to the apartment for dinner, then Mr. Chili, Punk, and I wandered down to the central pool to watch Big Hero 6 on the big screen (Bean was wiped and wanted to stay in the apartment scrolling through Tumblr).  The ladies had some trouble getting the movie to work (at one point, Mr. Chili got up and offered to help, it was that bad), but it was eventually sorted.  I decided not to stay through the whole film; I was tired and I didn’t want to pass out on the deck chair, and while I enjoyed Big Hero 6 when we saw it in the theatres, I wasn’t overly invested in seeing it again, so I wandered my way back home and did some reading.  Mr. Chili and Punk came back from the movie a little less than an hour later, and we all slept the sleep of the water-logged.  We wanted to make a relatively early night of it; tomorrow is our last full day here and we’re planning to have the whole Magic Kingdom experience.

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The Big Disney Vacation; Day Five

Today was a low-schedule day.  Our big plan for the afternoon was to see Avengers; Age of Ultron, and I had managed to make a plan for us to meet with a girlfriend from college (who was also one of my bridesmaids) who lives in the Orlando area for dinner.

We began the day in the apartment, enjoying a leisurely breakfast of cereal, watching the river, and generally chilling.  Mr. Chili got online and bought the movie tickets while I was texting with Anne Marie about where and when we should meet for dinner.  She and I decided on a spot at Downtown Disney called Paradiso 37, and I made a plan to head over there before the movie to make reservations (it’s Friday, after all).

We finished breakfast, tidied up, showered, dressed, and strolled down to the boat landing to catch the next run to Downtown Disney.  While we waited (we timed our walk exactly between the runs, so we were watching a boat leave as we were walking in the other direction.  It wasn’t really an issue, though; the weather was fine and we were on vacation), we admired the flowers, checked out what movie was going to be screened at the pool later tonight, and perused the gift shop for the resort for a Hawaiian shirt for Mr. Chili (he really likes the uniforms that the Old Key West employees wear, and was hoping to find a similar shirt in the shop.  No such luck, but it was suggested to us that we should stop by the Polynesian and check out their gift shop).  The boat arrived, we got on, and enjoyed a lovely float to Downtown Disney.

Bean and I hoofed over to the restaurant and asked the nice lady at the podium if we could reserve a table for 8 at 5:30.  That it’s Friday should have clued me in to the idea that making reservations might be a bit more difficult than I imagined, because that nice lady looked at me like I was crazy.  She could give me reservations, she said, but the only openings she had were all after 8:45.  Since Anne Marie and her boys wanted to make an early night of it (they’re running a 5k tomorrow morning), that wasn’t going to fly.

Undaunted, Bean and I headed over to the T-Rex restaurant down the way, but we got almost exactly the same story; nothing available until after 8:00.  I figured that the tune would be the same all over the place, so I texted Anne Marie to ask her to call a Macaroni Grille Mr. Chili and I had seen on our way to pick up the rental car to find out if THEY could seat us before bedtime.  She made the reservations while we were watching previews, and just like that, we had a plan.

The movie was good for what it was.  I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I liked the first Avengers film much more.  There were a couple of promising directions that the story started to investigate, but it never really followed through.  I think that a nuanced and in-depth story was sacrificed for action and special effects – which were good (see “the movie was good for what it was”), but I have to admit leaving the theatre a tiny bit disappointed.

The timing worked out that we needed to head right back to the boat to get back to the rental car to meet Anne Marie and her boys (her husband wasn’t able to join us).  That went pretty seamlessly; the boat we needed to get on was just disembarking its incoming passengers, so we were able to get right on.  We walked back to the apartment, got the car keys, and arrived at the restaurant literally just as Anne Marie and her kids were parking their car.

We had a lovely dinner together.  I hadn’t seen my friend in a very long time – years, in fact – and it was very nice to catch up.  She is a wonderful person, and I have long admired how she moves through the world.  She’s always seemed to me to be a little bit of peace and calm among the noise and chaos, and I aspire to her grace.  I was very, very grateful that she took the time to visit with us – and that she was willing to brave traffic on a Friday night.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the apartment, where we enjoyed some ice cream and down time.  It was a quiet day, but a good one.

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