Getting 12 people to Florida with two babies and different flights, drives and times throughout the country is no small thing, that's right, it's a HUGE thing. It took a lot of planning and a lot of patience and a lot of breaths being held, and a lot of Tom thinking that my family is insane, and him being right.
I will say upfront that the two grand babies - Beckett and Catcher - were the just about the easiest part of this trip. In some ways they were fantastic! We were all so worried from the get-go about the very idea of taking two toddlers to Disney World, and they blew our expectations out of the water, like sunk our battleships 'amazing'! Even the crazy 4 1/2 hour flights - the longest to date for either of them - proved to be very simple and without any fits.
So to begin at the beginning...
Catcher was so happy on the plane. We were lucky to get an extra seat between me and Tom, especially a seat we didn't pay for. He was so happy, we could have sworn he knew he was going to see Mickey, or really loves to humor us.
He took an excellent 2 hour nap underneath our seats...
Airplane lunch of champions: tapas and babas...
Our descent into Orlando. Such a pretty sight...
We were so relieved to arrive intact, regardless of how smoothly it went. We basically just took that long walk from our gate to the transpo terminal of MCO and got right on The Magic Express, headed towards Pop Century.
Magical express entertainment.
Magical Express had to make one stop at Art of Animation, and then we were on our way. Cool sign though, eh? I feel like Zooey Deschanel should be standing under it though.
So, Tom and I (due to flight cost issues) got there the day before most of the Utah family got there, as did my parents and Mackey. Here are some photos Mom and Mack took of their journey.
Krystal is something I've never been on board with, but it's been my parent's tradition for like 35 years, so good for them.
Just looking at the boxes makes me want to ralph.
Basically, we had already booked 6 days at The Animal Kingdom Lodge before we booked everyone's airline tickets, and it turned out that the 'through-the-night' flight was by far the best deal, so we needed one more night at the beginning in order for people to get in and sleep - mom realized it would be a scary day indeed if no one had sleep -and that turned into one very cheap night at Disney's Pop Century resort. We needed our lodging to still be a Disney resort so that everyone could take the Magical Express from the airport, which is basically the best thing ever. Seriously.
So we arrived at Pop Century, where my parents and Mackey had already been for an hour or so...
Itwas a very happy reunion. Catcher played with Grandma and Uncle Mackey, while Tom and I unfortunately checked in for about half a day. It was a little nuts, that checking-in process.
Pop Century did the job and was fun to take Catcher around to see all of the life sized memorabilia. I was wondering where NSYNC was in their 90s section though, and why "Crunk" wasn't on all of their 'sayings' decor. But this is what our section looked like...
When we got in and settled, I had planned a surprise to take Tom to the Chip 'n Dale Campfire Sing-A-Long at the Fort Wildnerness Campground, but due to arrivals at the hotel and a lot of getting ready and then a LOT of hungry people, we decided to take it easy and go to the Sing-A-Long another night, and we just used our reservation at the Trails End Cafe.
Tom was SO happy. He already had like 6 pieces of pie before we even had our waiter come talk to us.
I imagine he's saying something to me in the voice of Churchill in this photo...
He was happy a few minutes later, because he got some apple juice from the waiter and ate half our desserts.
The desserts were out of this world. I wish I had thrown those pumpkin pies in my purse. That's right, it's tacky good, which in my opinion means something is legitimately good, if it makes you want to do tacky things, like shove it in your purse and make a break for it.
As buffets go, this gets top marks. All home cooking, all like Grandma would make. Everyone was so hungry and so happy.
The boys also participated in a lot of horseshoe while Mom and I changed like 5 of Catcher's diapers -- he must have been nervous. We also talked to the Hoop Dee Doo Review cast before they walked into their show. That was fun.
They were completely in character with us the whole time and got a good laugh out of our group. I have a special love of The Hoop Dee Doo Review. One of my fondest childhood memories was seeing that show with my Grandparents and having the cast spotlight my blind, wheelchair-bound grandpa or 'papa' the whole night. The sound of his tea kettle laughter still rings sweetly in my ears. They even kissed his bald head and left lipstick marks for days. The decade before he died was a hard time on him, fraught with illness; one thing after another it seemed. I remember it was so great to see him thoroughly enjoying himself and getting the attention he deserved. Maybe that was a strange aside to put here on the blog, but it's been on my mind.
When we got back that night, although it was pretty dern cold for Florida, Mack and I decided we had a death wish and couldn't possibly pass up a chance to swim. This is a family tradition. Here's a picture of Mack tricking me into it.
So we headed down to the pool, Tom was smart and went to sleep, and Catcher played with Grandma and Grandaddy.
When I got back and was doing anything I could to not feel freezing, my mom and I decided to walk the property and see what was in store for us and our morning, and yes, get me hot chocolate from the commissary. So we took Catcher on the walk with us to get him to sleep and he made the funniest sound ever when we turned the corner and saw this guy...
Then we went to bed.
The next morning is the stuff of legend. It begins with Mom and Mack coming into our room at 6am, and ends with giraffes outside of our door.