Vacation 2011: Part II

Disney – June 18, 2011

The second half of our trip started out a bit rough.  We headed north for our three hour drive to Orlando right after dinner on Friday evening.  Lydia couldn’t get comfortable, so she started crying in her car seat.  It was my fault dressing her in an adorably cute tutu outfit.  Tutu’s are super cute, but can also be super itchy. You know me: “fashion before comfort”.  Who am I kidding? I’m the one who is always seen in a pair of jeans wearing a t-shirt. 

But I digress, I made Jay pull over in the middle of Florida nowhere so I could try to get Lydia to calm down. I stripped her down, changed her into jammies and then we hit the road again.  She then fell asleep  in 2.2 seconds after we returned to the road.  (Note to self: never again put your daughter in a tutu outfit when you are wanting her to fall asleep in the car. Check.) 

We made it to our hotel late that night.  When we first pulled in the parking lot I thought to myself, “Oh, Priceline, you failed me!”  Let’s just say it didn’t have the best curb appeal.  Once in the complex of the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised.  Our room was clean and stylish.  And there were plenty of kid-friendly activities including an arcade and a water park.  I would recommend any family staying there.  After successfully getting the kids from the car into their hotel beds, Jay and I also hit the hay.

A great day at Disney!

The next morning we woke up and headed to Magic Kingdom ® at Walt Disney World.  The four of us had the best day! Though Father’s Day was the next day, Brayden wanted Daddy to have his present a day early so they could wear their sort of matching “Phineas and Ferb” t-shirts to Disney. 

Sort of matching "Phineas & Ferb" T-shirts

Mommy & Lydia on the tea cups

When we got to Disney it was quite the scorcher.  The water misting fans kept us going throughout the day.  We also made a point to stagger the indoor and outdoor rides.  That way we could get a break from the heat every so often.

It was a hot day!

Besides the heat (which is expected in Florida, especially in the month of June) we couldn’t have asked for a better day.  The longest we waited to get on a ride was probably 10-15 minutes (most of our wait times were only 5), the kids were on their best behavior, and meeting Mickey and the Disney Princesses at the end of the day was special! 

The whole family with Mickey!

Lydia with Sleeping Beauty

The only sad part of the day was when Lydia decided to take a little nap right before we went on the “It’s a Small World” ride.  Jay says she was smart! I disagree. The funny thing about it though is that when we brought Brayden to Disney when he was about the same age as Lydia, he too fell asleep right before getting on this ride.  My parents came with us that time and I remember my Mom being really sad that Brayden was going to miss it.  So I guess, at least in our family, you have to sleep through your first time on “It’s a Small World.” Lydia will catch it on our next go ’round!

Sleeping during the "It's a Small World" ride.

There is something about watching the parade right in front of the castle that gets me everytime.  I always get a little teary eyed thinking that we are so blessed to be able to give our kids these experiences.  We are so blessed to have happy, healthy, beautiful, smart, <insert myriad adjectives here> children.  And we are blessed as a family to get to experience the magic of Disney together.

Watching the parade in front of the castle.

Brayden said his favorite part was the Buzz Lightyear ride.  Which is totally made for the boys (Daddy’s included).  You get to shoot your little laser gun at the targets throughout the ride and it keeps score for you.  Of course, Brayden stomped me on my score. But hey, I was working on shooting the pictures on the camera!  He also liked riding the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster.

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

We left Magic Kingdom® at a decent hour. We didn’t stay for the fireworks.  We hopefully will someday when the kids are a little older and don’t require a certain bed time in order to have a good next day.  We leisurely left on the ferry and I just remember thinking to myself, “This was a great day!”

Mommy & the kids

The next morning we were up and at ’em again. This time with plans to head to Universal Studios. it was also Father’s Day.  It takes a special kind of Dad to spend his special day at an amusement park!  Brayden & Lydia do have the best dad.  They couldn’t have asked for a better one.

The whole fam at Universal Studios

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

My sister, Mindy, and my oldest niece, Ellie, met us there.  Mindy and I both love Harry Potter.  We went to the traveling “Harry Potter Movie Memorabilia” exhibit together when it was in Chicago.  She and I also went to a midnight showing of the first installment of book 7’s movie together.  So naturally going together to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure® was a must.  And of course, if we are doing anything that involves Harry Potter we have to wear our Muggle t-shirts!


This was my favorite thing about Universal Studios of course.  The whole area looked just like we had walked into Hogsmeade (for the non-wizarding folk – that’s the little village where the wizards buy wands, sweets and owls.)



Chocolate Frogs

The Harry Potter ride was one of the best I have ever rode, though everyone else thought they were going to be sick from all the motion.

Classic family pic in front of Hogwarts

We decided to grab some lunch at “The Three Broomsticks.”  With our drink of choice being a Butterbeer.  It was better than cream soda with this whip cream topping that had a butterscotch flavor. It was the best! I’ve been craving it since we left.

The "better than cream soda" Butterbeer!

Brayden will tell you that the best part of Universal was Rocky the Fountain, which Daddy didn’t have the presence of mind to record or photograph. Rocky was a talking fountain that told Brayden he’d grant a wish, asked him to recycle a cup someone left lying around, and told him about some “hot babes” standing behind him.

Even though the kids liked the Harry Potter area, they really enjoyed themselves in Seussville.  Brayden also really liked the Superhero and Jurassic Park areas of the park.


Fun day together at Universal Studios

Brayden & cousin Ellie chatting

We ended our best vacation ever with one of the worst vacation days ever. First, we discovered we forgot to return mycbrother’s pack and play, giving us one more thing to haul (and pay for) on the plane ride home. 

Our fun hotel

We had a free day with the flight leaving around 8 p.m. Jay woke up feeling a little bit sick, but it was OK since we decided to visit the hotel’s water park. The water park was great fun, but Jay developed the worst headache ever late morning.

Part of the hotel waterpark

Waterslide with Daddy

He ended up buying some overpriced Tylenol and falling asleep at the table during lunch while the kids and I played in the arcade. Brayden cashed in his tickets and relived my youth by getting a slap bracelet. Jay woke up feeling much better, and we headed to Downtown Disney.

Slap bracelet!

At Downtown Disney, we visited the Lego store (of course), where Brayden spent much of his hard-earned money buying a new Star Wars Lego set and a Harry Potter set.

Brayden buying his lego sets.

Lego puppies

We also had dinner at Planet Hollywood, where I was thrilled to see One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship from my all-time favorite movie “The Goonies” hanging right above us.

Dinner at Planet Hollywood

"The Goonies" Pirate Ship

From there, we headed to the airport. As Jay was gassing up the rental car to return it, Lydia puked all over herself in the back seat. Luckily, the car stayed clean and we had some spare pajamas. But we had to throw the mostly uncleaned carseat into a garbage bag. By the time we picked it up at baggage claim back home, it stunk to high heaven.

A fun end to our vacation

Shortly after we returned home, we also learned our troubled Jeep (or the “Stupid Jeep” as I call it) was a safety hazard, forcing us to buy a new vehicle.  That’s a whole other story and I hate reliving it, so I won’t.

Fortunately, we didn’t let a rough last day ruin a vacation full of memories.

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One Response to Vacation 2011: Part II

  1. Mindy P. says:

    I love Part II… Family Time is the BEST! Wizarding World of Harry Potter couldn’t have been more fun to spend with you guys (especially the butterbeer… yuuuuummmm)… I love that some of the coolest Harry Potter things to do we have done together from Chicago to Florida… Thanks for sharing that with me. Spite the ending… you tell a great story and I loved the recap (and the vertical progressions of Brayden and Lydia)! Love and miss you all!!!

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