Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Spring Vacation: Part 2 of 3

The next leg of our trip was all about the kids!  We had a crash course on Disney movies before we left, so they were well versed on the Disney characters we thought they would see.    
We stayed at Disney's Art of Animation Resort.  This resort has 4 themed areas:  Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Cars, and The Little Mermaid.  We stayed in a Finding Nemo Suite.  It was impressive!    

 This was the outside of our building.

The Finding Nemo pool was huge!

Music is played underwater---the kids thought this was magic!

William was getting tricky with his jumps---

The kids would have been happy to spend the whole day at the pool and skip the parks!

This was a mural in one of the hallways of the resort.  

The resort's lobby walls were decorated with sketches of Disney characters.  Here is Nora with Sebastian from The Little Mermaid.


Nora and Simba.

This mural was on the wall of the bathroom at the resort.  Audrey and Nora had to have their picture taken with Ariel!

Prince Eric with William in the Little Mermaid section of the resort.

 Our first night we had dinner at Chef Mickey's with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. 

Nora and Mom ready for dinner with Mickey!

Chef Mickey!

Audrey could do nothing but marvel at Minnie! 

Donald was a lot of fun!

The pictures with the characters didn't turn out as well as I had hoped (the kids do NOT stand still), but I was pleased with this family shot taken before dinner.

Our first day we headed to The Magic Kingdom.  We happened to get there early, and were able to see the opening ceremony. 

The girls adore the Little Mermaid, so our first ride had to be Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid.  This is not the best picture, but look how excited the girls are!!!

Audrey outside The Little Mermaid ride.

Next stop was the Enchanted Tales with Belle (from Beauty and the Beast).  This was an interactive story adventure with Belle and the audience.  My son, who was tolerating the princess rides for his sisters, was chosen to be the Beast for this interactive adventure.  That meant he had to DANCE with Belle.  He went along with it, but insisted the next ride not be a princess one.

Belle and William.

Audrey and Belle.  Audrey was very proud of her brother!

Nora and Belle.

It's absolutely necessary to ride It's a Small World your first time at Disney!

The kids loved it.  We did too, and both agreed it smelled old, exactly the same as the last time we rode it!  It's endearing that some things never change, even at Disney World.

We watched a performance in front of Cinderella's castle called "Dreams Come True!"

Nora watching the show from her stroller.  She must have really taken it all in because she still says "DREAMS COME TRUE!"

Audrey catching a ride with the Husband.  He could not figure out why his forehead got really sunburned...some little dolly was rubbing her dad's forehead and must have taken off his sunscreen!

Audrey had her eye on this ride--Prince Charming Regal Carousel--all morning.  It was such a pretty carousel, we had to take a ride!

Neither the husband nor I had been to Disney in many years.  It's amazing how much it has grown!  We all enjoyed Magic Kingdom, and we did and saw everything we hoped to.  Some of our favorite rides were Peter Pan's Flight, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (way scarier and faster than I remember!).

Day 2 was spent at the Animal Kingdom, Disney's newest park.  

Our first destination of the day was the Kilimanjaro Safari, a safari ride through an African savanna to see live animals.  This was our safari vehicle.

 What a fun experience!  Below are some of the animals we saw....

 William and the Husband went on a 'big kid ride' called the Primeval Whirl roller coaster.  This was William's favorite ride!

Finding Nemo-The Musical was one of the live shows we saw at Animal Kingdom.  The production was outstanding--the stunning theatrical puppets and innovative special effects had us all in awe!

 The pictures do not do justice to how detailed and spectacular the stage and puppets were.  

The second live stage musical we saw was the Festival of the Lion King.  This over-the-top performance used song, dance, puppets, and acrobatics to portray a tribal celebration in an African savanna filled with lions, giraffes, birds, zebras, and gazelles.  

 The kids are still singing "Hakuna Matata!"

The end of the second day.....we were tired!

Rest up kids, we're headed to the beach next!!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

2013 Spring Vacation: Part 1 of 3

We decided it was the 'right' time to take the kids to Disney World, but instead of flying, we decided driving would be our mode of travel.  This not only afforded us lots of flexibility (schedules/luggage/the need to be spontaneous on vacation), it also allowed us to make some fun stops on the trip down. We decided that Disney would be a part of the trip, and the beach would make up the other part.  A little vacation for the kids, a little vacation for the parents......  

We left after school on a Wednesday and drove through the night.  The kids woke up in Nashville, Tennessee Thursday morning!   

After a quick search of "the best breakfast in Nashville," we landed on the Pancake Pantry.  This mom and pop restaurant is known for a line that extends out around the building.  I figured, if people were willing to wait that long for pancakes, it was worth a try!  

Everyone was famished!

The pancakes did not disappoint!  I have this thing about ordering food that has won awards, so the Pancake Pantry's award-winning sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon cream syrup were an easy choice for me!!  

Next, we headed to downtown Nashville.

The Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge spans the Cumberland River.  

The bridge offers great views of downtown.

 We walked through the Music City Walk of Fame Park.

The kids outside the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Nashville was a hip, vibrant, fun city to visit!

Back on the road!
It was a picturesque (and hilly) drive through Tennessee.  I had taken my turn driving through the night, so I gladly passed the keys to the Husband.  

We made such good time on the trip down, we had 2 nights before our reservations at Disney.  It was the perfect time to head to Hilton Head, South Carolina!  I loved Hilton Head---an island that has fertile salt marshes, huge oak trees, and miles of sandy beaches!

Despite the cool weather, the kids loved the Atlantic Ocean.  

Little Nora loves the water!

We were fortunate to happen upon a hotel that had vacancy for 2 nights, was on the beach, and had a great pool!

Savannah, Georgia was another place I hoped to see, and it is a short drive from Hilton Head.  Back in the car, and we were off to Savannah for an afternoon!  

Savannah is historic, classy, and dripping with southern charm.  We really enjoyed our time there! 

The regal City Hall.

When in Savannah, one must have a meal at Paula Deen's restaurant, right?!  We scored lunch reservations!  

My first sweet tea (and was it sweet!), and the hoe cake and cheddar biscuit you are served as soon as you are seated.  

Audrey was so impressed that Paula was even on the hot sauce.

Bucking the trend, I opted for the Asparagus Sandwich, a New York Times favorite (you know my thing about ordering the award winners, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE asparagus) instead of the lunch buffet.  I will be trying to make this at home, it was my favorite meal of the trip!

Husband chose the popular lunch buffet.  Here he is with fried chicken and Paula's famous Gooey Butter Cake.  YUM!

We did not meet Paula, but couldn't resist this photo op!

 We needed to walk off our lunch and found an elegant little chocolate shop.  The owner, Adam Turoni, looked vaguely familiar to me, and I realized Audrey and I had recently watched him one Saturday morning on The Food Network.  The chocolates were fantastic!  Adam was sweet and great with the kids.  It was cool to watch him work!

What an exciting start to our trip.  Next stop....Disney World!