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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Doin' Disney (Behind the Scenes Details)


Well all the months of saving money, booking dining, racing to get the right FastPasses, and hours of online Pinterest-pinning, blog-reading, and Touring-Plans itenerary planning finally culminated in a Fisher Family Fun (First Time for the Kids) Trip To Disney World April 1st through April 5th. Here's a run-down of our what our picture-perfect schedule was supposed to look like: 

April 2nd
Welcome to Walt Disney World! Arrive early for Rope Drop

Magic Kingdom (8am - midnight)
Grab a FREE 1st Time Button and park map with show times, get Sorceror pack of cards from Firehouse-5 for EACH person, ask cast members and transportation members for trading cards too, Look for Hidden Mickeys while waiting in line with app?
Space Mountain      9:15 AM - 10:15 AM
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin      10:20 AM - 11:20 AM
Festival of Fantasy parade    12:00 and 3:30
Peter Pan's Flight      12:25 PM - 1:25 PM
2 snack credits for every person (could be 20 oz. drink or food)
Leave between 2 and 3 for hotel
Check in to Disney’s Pop Century-ask for Scavenger Hunt, wipe down room and remote, get refillable mug, and free stickers, and Character Greeting call (make this a secret)

Disney Springs *take bus to Disney Springs for dinner and evening entertainment
Dinner at T-Rex (Disney Springs)    6:30pm –includes drink (alcoholic too), entrée, and dessert
Grab a FREE Chocolate from Ghirardelli Chocolate or a Slushie Sample from Goofy’s Candy CompanyIn the evenings there are moving statues you can see. You can take pictures with them and they will move unexpectedly. You can find silhouette artists at Disney Springs, and Magic Kingdom (Main Street and Liberty Square). Single portraits are an affordable $12, doubles are $20. 3 copies

April 3rd
Hollywood Studios (9am - 9pm) Allow plenty of time to get to the park
Breakfast at Hollywood & Vine - Disney Jr 8:05am- includes drink (alcoholic)/entrée 
Sign up for Jedi Training at Indiana Jones Adventurers Outpost store just beyond 50’s Prime time 
Voyage of The Little Mermaid     10:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue     11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Build Your Own LightSaber- Tatoonie Treasures (end of ride $25-30)
2 snack credits for every person
Toy Story Mania!     1:20 PM - 2:20 PM
Dinner at Sci-Fi Dine In   5:00pm
Grab a FREE Animated Drawing from Animation Academy
Try and catch Character Palooza (unannounced meet and greet)
Fantasmic nighttime show     8:30pm
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular    9:15pm
April 4th
Magic Kingdom (8am - 2am)
Get 20 more cards- Sorcerer’s and A Pirate’s Adventure
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad     9:05 AM - 10:05 AM
Splash Mountain     10:05 AM - 11:05 AM
Lunch at Be Our Guest     11:50am –includes drink (alcoholic)/entrée , order the Grey Stuff dessert extra?
Festival of Fantasy parade   3:00pm if we didn’t see it on Mon.
2 snack credits for every person
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train     4:25 PM - 5:25 PM
Columbia Harbor House-Quick Service inc. drink (alcoholic)/entrée, try the Lobster Roll 
Happily Ever After fireworks    8:55pm

April 5th
Check out from your resort by 11am
Depart for home L


 Disney Day 1: Magic Kingdom

Things didn't work out quite as I had planned and envisioned on paper, but nonetheless, we had a great time! We were running late on the very first day. Unfortunately, the traffic into Disney was thick to say the least and our Magic Bands ended up not being synced so we had to wait even longer to get some help from Guest Services. Fortunately, the Disney Crew Member gave us an additional TWO FastPasses to use on pretty much any ride so that helped a tremendous amount with our wait times. Unfortunately, we had picked the BUSIEST time of year to go to Magic Kingdom. I mean all the crowd predictor calendars blared a big red 10 out of 10 for having the most people per square foot. Fortunately, we went straight to our Space Mountain and instead of the hour long posted wait time, our first FastPass of the day had us in and out in about 20 minutes. For their first real rollercoaster (and one that goes around in the pretty much pitch dark), Riley and Maggie did fabulous and I think it ended up being Riley's favorite ride of all. We were able to ride about 5 or 6 rides and catch a glimpse of the Fantasy parade before heading out of the park around 3. We thought we'd have some downtime to take the kids swimming, but by the time we checked in and got settled, we really only had about half an hour to clean up and get to Disney Springs. The bad news was the closest parking garage to the T-Rex restaurant was closed and we had to walk a really long way. The good news was we had a great meal together in this themed restaurant that resembles the Rainforest Cafe. I particularly loved my adult drink that was included in our Disney Dining Plan. It helped to not worry about how much we were spending on food because it was already "paid for" months ago when we settled the balance with our Disney rep, Jennifer Pyrock from Once Upon A Vacation (who did a great job keeping us updated on what needed to happen when and giving us some insider tips). 

Disney Day 2: Hollywood Studios

We were up and at them early the next day around 6:30 AM. I think we all slept a lot better than we did the first night at the Baymont Suites with the noisy air conditioner. The Pop Century room was smaller, but cleaner. There weren't quite as many teenagers running around at all hours of the night and honking cars, but the closest pool was shut down for repairs and you had to walk a good ways to get to our refillable mug station (aka coffee and drinks). We decided to catch the bus to get to Hollywood Studios. Unfortunately, we ended up waiting a really long time for a bus to come. Fortunately, we still made it in time for our Hollywood and Vine character breakfast and as an added bonus we were able to register the kids for the special Jedi Training event before we ate and avoid the rush at 9 AM. Some more good news is that the kids were able to get some more autographs added to their photo frames. The bad news is that Riley really wanted to get Kylo Ren's signature, but found out that the Star Wars villains don't give those out. He had to settle for Chip and Dale later. Hollywood Studios has a lot more inside theater experiences than rollercoaster rides. The kids didn't seem to mind but they were disappointed when the Toy Story ride was closed for several hours. We managed to find a few things to do in the meantime but by the time we made it back Maggie was having one of her bad allergy spells with itchy eyes and skin. Fortunately, a kind "cast member" (aka Disney employee) was able to find us some Benadryl for her and Maggie ended up taking a nap while we waited in line. One of our favorite dining places was the Sci Fi Drive-In. It was so cool to go into a vintage car and eat our food at the adapted booths. The funny short films and cartoons kept the kids entertained and we all enjoyed a break from the heat and the hours on end of walking. We didn't stay for the fireworks because the kids were really wanting to swim for a bit back at the hotel. So we made our way back. Unfortunately, Maggie hopped in without waiting for Chris and in the two seconds I took my eyes off of her she started going under the water and gasping for air. Fortunately, there was a very vigilant lifeguard seconds away who jumped in after her (white tennis shoes and all) and got her safely in my arms within moments. How scary though!! I'm so glad she was okay!! 

Disney Day 3: Back to Magic Kingdom

We woke up early again so that we could take advantage of the sparser crowds in the morning. Since we had focused on Tomorrowland and Fantasyland rides on Monday, we targeted Adventureland, Liberty Square, and Frontierland this particular day. We did follow the Touring Plans suggested itinerary for most of the morning, but we weren't able to squeeze in Pirates of the Caribbean like we had hoped. Maggie really loved Splash Mountain and thought it was hoot that she could ride a ride and get wet without her bathing suit on. For a nice break from the lines, we rode a "raft" to Tom Sawyer Island and let the kids run around and explore for a while before lunch. We weren't super impressed with the Be Our Guest restaurant. It was fine, but definitely more of a rushed feel. We had planned to head back to the hotel to swim and rest for several hours, but the bus took a really long time to arrive and we ended up with only about an hour of swim time and the rest of the time was spent getting ready to return. We raced back for our final FastPass of the Seven Dwarfs only to find that it was closed temporarily. We ended up meeting up with one of Riley's buddies from school (Kellen and his dad) for supper. While in Adventureland we smelled some awesome Mexican food and decided to change our supper plans to Pecos Bill quick-service instead. I love the fact that you can order on the app ahead of time and they'll have your meal pretty much ready when you arrive. We were even lucky enough to snag a table for all 6 of us. After dinner, we checked out the Hall of Presidents which was on Chris' list for sure. Then afterwards, I really wanted to get the kids' profile portraits made. I had tried once before at Disney Springs and arrived at the booth (after a bit of a wild goose chase in the rain) only to find out that the artist was on break. Unfortunately, that was exactly the case when arrived at the booth in Magic Kingdom as well. Fortunately, after we rode the Seven Dwarfs ride that evening, we were able to fit this in AND the lady there told us we could stay near her area and have a great view of the fireworks. So we grabbed some funnel cakes and lemonade for the kids and watched one of the best firework shows I've ever seen in my life! The illuminations on the castle were absolutely amazing and they went so well with the choreographed fireworks and music. It was really neat. However, what was not so neat was trying to exit after the fireworks ended. I've never in my life felt more like a sardine and a herded cow at the same time! It was terrible. I think my foot got ran over by at least 6 strollers and I was so tired of holding Maggie's hand for 3 days straight that it literally hurt. I was thankful for the crew members who opened up some secret passageways and got us out in record time by letting us go through the backs of the buildings. Our beds couldn't be found fast enough! 

After 36 hours of the most magical place on earth, we were ready to kick up our aching feet and pack away the tight schedule. We all slept in later the next day and then grabbed breakfast at the resort. Then we let the kids check out the arcade for a bit before having to load up the car and drive home. The estimated travel time is about 8 hours. Unfortunately for us though we got stuck in a terrible traffic accident 20 minutes from Rock Hill. Both sides of I-77 were shut down and we saw the Lifeline helicopter arrive and depart (after a really long wait). Fortunately, we did make it home in one piece about an hour and a half later. And we had some fun house surprises awaiting us that our interior decorator, Brittany Kelly from Copper Design and Dwelling, had worked on while we were gone including new rugs, office furniture, kitchen lighting, accent chairs, and built-in decor. 

We were able to finish our Spring Break by fitting in a visit with Amanda, Tripp and Liam, going to Union to see Poppaw in rehab and wish him an early happy birthday, give a quick hug to Mommaw, eat some icecream, catch up on laundry, play an amazing obstacle course that Grandmama set up, and meet up with Rodger, Melissa, Dylan and Brooke at Dave and Busters for some more arcade action. It definitely wasn't the most restful Spring Breaks I've ever had, but it certainly was one of the most memorable! 

April wrapped up with soccer practices on Tuesday nights and games on Saturdays for Riley with Maggie making all kinds of outlandish fashion statements as one of his cheerleaders, impromptu trombone lessons initiated by Riley, pounds of edamame eaten by Maggie (while wearing her kitty ears that are a new wardrobe staple), and a date night by Chris and I to an Indian restaurant in Fort Mill and then Moonlight Jazz and Blues that's part of the Come See Me Festival that we go to each year. Whew....I'm exhausted just thinking about all that happened this month!

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