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disney world

4 days of recovery

New Orleans has been on our minds since we started planning this trip. Both Gino and I were looking forward to discovering the music, food and architecture. Yet the cool thing of not having plans is that plans can change.

In our last night in Orlando around 9pm, we were planning our next stop – New Orleans. We were online and looking for a place to stay…which lead us to checking out what we could do there – walk around, museums, music, etc and the neighbourhoods looking into safety. It was a bit overwhelming and finally we decided we were just too tired to try to tackle New Orleans with 2 tired kids and a dog. I suggested “Lets just rent a little beach cottage and recover from all this “Disney” (and Andy’s flu-bug in the middle of it all!)”…. Gino agreed.

So by 10:30pm, I was sending out requests for little beach cabins along the gulf coast…and by 8am sunday morning, we had a positive response! Someone accepted our offer and we rented a little cottage in Orange Beach, Alabama.

This place is awesome!   I had never heard of, nor thought of Alabama as a beach destination, but I definitely want to come back here someday.   The people are super friendly – seriously – everyone you meet is just like you’ve been friends forever.  It is a refreshing attitude to find. And RELAXED doesn’t begin to describe it.  Dogs, boats, fishing and beaches everywhere.

The cottage we rented comes with:  a surf board, a stand-up paddle board, a sea kayak, boogy board, fishing gear, crab net, beach chairs, coolers, 6 bikes, a kids-bunk-house, a sandy volleyball court and a golf cart!

We came here to relax, yet have kept busy fishing, swimming and playing on the boats.  We’ve used the golf cart to go everywhere…super fun for all especially when we let the kids drive it.

Anyway, in my last post, I said yes Disney is worth it, but I’ll add in a last line — plan an extra week of recovery time.  We left Disney with two kids we could hardly tolerate.  When my kids are fatigued, that comes with attitude, fighting, huge tantrums (eh Dan/Sophie?), and frustration for all.  It took 4 days of good nights, long naps and easy days to “find” our kids again.  It seems like they are finally back.  ;-)

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Now how awesome is this mode of transport?

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Our little beach house. Actually it looks little, but still is a comfortable 2 bedrooms + bunk house.

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Best friends

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Finally brave enough!

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She caught a huge fish…but he got away by breaking the line.

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Andy is getting braver in the water every day

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Toys for everyone here.

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The monarch flutters back in our life for a day. This one at a butterfly exhibit in the park.


 

Is Disney worth it?

I’ve been quiet on the blog this week because I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to even think about communicating.  Since arriving in Orlando last week, we have moved into a little condo that we arranged via house exchange (meaning at some point the owner of the condo will come stay in one of our cottages in exchange for our stay here). It is so nice to a) have a bedroom b) have a kitchen and c) be in one place for 11 days!   We also arranged a pet-sitter via Dogvacay.com – what an awesome website.  It is like an AirBnB, but for dogs!

We came here to go to Disney World. It is something we would have preferred to wait on for a few years, but since we were in the area and had time to burn before crossing into mexico, we made it a destination.

Out of our 11 days, we would spend 6 in the park. Since WDW is made up of 4 parks and each of those are huge, you could easily spend 10 days to do absolutely everything. Yet we wanted to have enough rest days to really enjoy the days we were at the park, so 6/11 sounded like a good balance. Plus, who needs to do everything anyway?

Our kids had never even been in a Disney store, nor amongst such crowds or excitement. On our first day, we decided to tackle “Downtown disney” as an initiation. This is basically a shopping area full of official Disney stores and restaurants without the rides (and hence, no entrance fee). We just let them run around the stores, touch everything and be totally overwhelmed by the merchandise. They each had $20 to spend on whatever they wanted (and thats “It” for the week!) and they both managed to spend all their money on the first day.

This turned out to be a super plan. The next day we had a “rest” day as they were exhausted from the excitement of just the shopping and were happy to play with their new toys.

Finally we went to Disney and it has been great fun for all of us. We’ve currently done 4 days (with 2 rest days) and have 2 more disney days with 1 rest day left. I love that since the kids have spent their money, we have no need to dwell in the gift shops (which at WDW are at the exit of every single ride!). They totally get it and are happy with just the rides and meeting the characters.

Millie at 6 years old is a perfect age for WDW. She is tall enough for every ride and loves them all (the faster the better!)…yet she is still young enough to enjoy the characters. I get asked at least 50 times per day “Is that real mama?”.  It is funny to see her trying to figure out the real vs. pretend.  Plus, it’s nice she can tough out the long days. Oh, and I am very happy to report that her favorite thing at WDW is NOT the princess castle – it is the roller coasters!

Andy at 3.9 years old is a bit young, but fortunately he is 40″ tall so can do almost everything. He LOVES the characters and the rides (again the faster the better!)…yet he is tired. The excitement, heat and long days are a lot for him. We still get him to nap in the afternoon (on our shoulders!), but even with our rest days, I think it will take him a week or so to recover from this!

And for us at ‘adult’ age, it is fun, totally beautiful and magical, yet also challenging. Parenting 2 tired, over-excited kids while running around in 30-40 deg is exhausting!

There are so, so many parents here with children under the age of 4. Gino and I just shake our heads and silently laugh. I don’t know what they are doing here. Why would anyone want to go through that?  It is almost hilarious watching them trying to get their two year olds to pose for yet-another-picture with a character while the kid just wants to go jump in the puddles.

Anyway, the point of my post – yes I think Disney World is worth the experience. I’m really happy we came and we are having a wonderful time. However, my advice – don’t rush it, wait until the kids are old enough (6-17), come in september (low crowds) and put the camera down. Experience it for the memory of the moment, not the picture to take home.  See it for real!

And that said…here are some pictures.  ;-)   Disney has a photographers placed all over the park, so it is cool to let them do the work for us!   If for some reason you haven’t seen enough here, there are more on our flickr account (just click on any picture).

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The classic.

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Andy likes all the characters, but not the princesses. He is too shy around the “real” people.

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Super nice how each one takes the time to interact a few minutes with the kids before the picture. It makes “character” time their favorite part!

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A bit of the Disney magic.

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Glamorous Minnie showing Millie what to do!

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Ariel is telling Millie that she’ll go look for her missing teeth when she gets off work. Super cute.

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He’s not real…. right mama?

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No matter how many times you see it, it is still a beautiful sight lit up at night.

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Our faces are smiling and our eyes are tired!

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The toy story characters were the best we saw so far! Super funny with the kids

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Video games are not my thing, but I can have fun on these rides.

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Buzz was flattered by Andy’s hat.  A very teethy vs teeth-less photo.

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Lines can be a perfect place for a little nap

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At the “Frozen sing-alone show”. She was completely enchanted. Gino looks half impressed too.

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This classic is a favorite of the kids. As you can see, not much of a line either…