The plan was for my family to all drive down. We debated back and forth on flying, but realized we'd have to pay for a ticket for Bean since she was turning 2. So Bean and I ended up riding down with my parents while Steve flew down. Then all three of us flew back. With Bean and I riding down and flying back, we had to be strategic on getting to my parents. Steve drove us to Ft Wayne after work on Tuesday and we met my dad there. We grabbed a quick dinner, then Bean and I went home with my dad while Steve returned to Ohio. He had to work the rest of the week and met us as we arrived in Florida.
(Helping to pack for Disney World. She made sure she got all the essentials - toy bag, tissues, soap, what else do you need?)
Bean and I hung out at my parents on Wednesday while everyone else was finishing up packing (and projects like making costumes and shirts). We left Indiana on Thursday morning and started our trek south. I had big plans of having a "schedule" in the car with Bean. Things like, an hour of activities - coloring, stickers, playing toys, reading - and then letting her watch a movie. Then we'd stop for lunch, she'd nap right after that, and then we'd do another routine or activities and movie to get us to dinner. In reality, the trip was more like 15 min of stickers/coloring, followed by "no no no stories", watching the Little Mermaid back to back to back (for the record, we always skipped the end when Ursula became a giant monster), only eating ketchup at mealtimes, and refusing to take naps in the car.
We made it to our hotel in Georgia around 9:30. Bean maybe napped 20 min in the car, so she was exhausted! We split a room with my friend April. We quickly got the pack'n'play set up, showered, and in bed just a little after 10. All of us zonked out! In previous hotel experiences, Bean ends up sleeping for an hour and then wakes and cries or wallows around in bed all night. But this time, she slept straight through the night. It was amazing! We never got a straight answer as to when to be ready the next morning, but we got up and went to breakfast, expecting to see everyone. We ended up eating alone and only passed by others towards the end. We got the cars loaded back up and continued the trek!
(A trip down south would not be complete without a stop at the original KFC in Corbin, KY!)
Friday was Bean's birthday, so while we were on the road, I pulled out decorations and we decorated the van. Bean just thought we were being crazy. Our Friday morning car experience was like the day before - 15 min of coloring, rest of the time just watching Dora or Little Mermaid. We stopped for lunch at a Chik-fil-a. I brought party hats and had a little party for Bean. My parents needed to do a Walmart run so the rest of us stayed at the restaurant and let the kids run around the play place (Bean's first time). She loved it so much and was upset to get back in the car. Not only did she choose not to nap, but also chose to cry about it for an hour. We pulled into our Disney resort (Pop Century) just a little after 4. We got the car unloaded and began to settle into our rooms (parents/sister had one, sister + fam had one, and we shared a room with my friend).
(Waffles for her birthday breakfast!)
(Happy Birthday Bean! You get to spend the next 6 hours in your carseat. Love, Mom)
(This is what 15 minutes of stickers looks like.)
(The guys eating lunch in their Mickey ears.)
(The girls all had Minnie ears, but Bean wouldn't wear hers. Whatever the birthday girl wants!)
(Having a blast in the play place.)
(Climbing like a big girl!)
(You would think by this picture that the play place wore her out. Not so, this is what crying for an hour about wanting to play on the slide does to you. Notice her foot in the bag, too. This beautiful sleep only lasted 20 min. Waaaaahhhh.)
Steve showed up about 45 min after we got to Disney (what timing!). We had tickets to go into the park that evening, but with Bean not napping, she was pretty cranky by evening. So we went down to the food court, got some dinner, and called it an early night. We kept telling her we were at Disney World, but she couldn't grasp the concept. To her, Disney World was the same 3 rides we showed her YouTube videos of. It took her a few days to grasp what Disney World was really like.
Saturday was my dad's 60th birthday. The day was all about him so he chose the agenda. First up -- head to Magic Kingdom just so we could get a group picture in front of the castle. Once that was achieved, we boarded the monorail and headed over to Epcot for the rest of the day. We went on a few rides and then headed to lunch. From there, we kind of split up and made plans to meet back up at dinner. As the day went on, the crowds got thicker and thicker. Epcot was celebrating their Food & Wine festival -- who knew that was the place to be on a Saturday night?! Actually, I personally thought the crowds all week were out of control for October! Apparently everyone else's fall break fell at the same time (we choose that week based on my nieces' fall break).
(Bean's entourage. They actually did fairly well about not fighting over her. These were the shirts we wore for my dad's birthday. The ears make a "60" and "WALT" stood for Wonderful Abo's (what the girls call my dad) Legendary Trip. We have a group photo, but I downloaded it wrong. It'll take me another month to try to track down the real photo, so for now, you just get to imagine what we all look like in matching blue shirts.)
On Sunday, we had special tickets to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party. So we started off the morning at Magic Kingdom (nieces had appointments at the Bibbidy Bobiddy Boutique). We took Bean on some of "her" rides while the appointments were going on. Bean immediately fell in love with the Ariel ride ("Ariel again??") and even Cinderella's carousel ("Ride horse?"). We have tried to get Bean to go on several carousels and have had many major freak outs on said carousels. But for whatever reason, she loved the Disney one (Magic of Disney?? Or maybe the fact that I got on the horse with her?). We took Bean back to the hotel after lunch so that she could get a good nap in. Once she was up, we put on our costumes and headed to the party!
(We got the meal plan while we were there, meaning every meal came with a dessert. That made for one happy 2 year old - and an even happier Momma! And yes, another set of matching shirts. Out of the 7 days, we all matched 4 days, the girls all matched 5 days, and then the little girls matched 6 days. That's a lot of matching shirts - but boy does it make it nice getting the whole group on a ride!)
The weather was hotter than we thought it would be, so luckily our costumes were 'minimal'. I didn't think Bean would keep her hat and scarf on, but she did. You were supposed to be able to go around to different stations and get candy, but as the party got started, crowds came rolling in and lines got really long. We attempted a couple rides, but then decided to go eat dinner. By the time we got food and ate it, it was time to go find a spot for the parade. Bean started melting down around that time and I saw our party clock quickly ticking. We ended up leaving after the parade while other stayed for fireworks and even did more rides late into the night. (Let me just say, Disney World with a toddler is a way different experience than without. It was fun in its own way, but brought a lot of challenges, too.)
(Steve = Bernard from Rescuers; Lindsey = Bianca from Rescuers; Bean = Orville from Rescuers; Amber = Disgust from Inside Out; April = Sadness from Inside Out; Chris = Anger from Inside Out; Gabbie = Joy from Inside Out; Allie = Anna from Frozen; Emily = Merida from Brave; Patty = Fairy God Mother from Cinderella; Sara = Hiro from Big Hero 6; Les = Sorcerer Mickey from Fantasia)
(We did actually have 1 cast member call us by character names, so I felt validated in our costumes. Ha. As the night went on, hats and ears were taken off. Funny side note, we all went to go get on Pirates of the Caribbean together (all 12 of us). I had to go park the stroller so when I got back to Steve, it was just him and April and the rest of the family was in the cue already. So we went ahead and got in line. Then we realized we were in 2 different cues and couldn't get to them and had no idea what they were doing and thought they ditched us. After we got off the ride, we realized they were in a candy line so we had in fact ditched them - ha!)
The rest of the week is a blur. Bean and I went to the Magic Kingdom every day (we made good use of our hopper tickets!). Anytime we were in Magic Kingdom, we spent most of our time back in Fantasyland riding Ariel, the horses, and Pooh. Steve and I did get to go on some of the "grown up" rides. Someone would always volunteer to take her either on a kiddie ride or entertain her for us. (Perk of traveling in a big group). Some days Bean would fall asleep in her stroller (or even in a show) in the park, and other days we'd take a break midday and go back to the room for nap. Just depended on her attitude and what the need of the day was.
(A Disney trip would not be complete without the purchase of Mickey - or in this case Minnie - Mouse ears!)
("Sharing" a Mickey Bar with daddy while we waited to meet up with the group.)
(Never in a million years did I think Bean would like this kind of ride. I for sure thought she was scared of heights and would freak out over the cars going up and down and "flying" through the air. But ends up, she loved them all - Aladdin's carpets, Dumbo's elephants, and even Tricerotops Spin!)
(This is what we call the "Disney face" or simply pure happiness!)
(Riding with daddy on the horses!)
(The three of us had an early morning breakfast at the Beast's castle.)
(We were some of the first people in the park. If you have a breakfast reservation, your name is on a special list and they let you in the park before it is officially open. The emptiness in the park made for some great photos!)
(This is another form of "Disney face" or simply pure exhaustion - ha!)
(I Love Love Love that I got to experience this lovely friend's first Disney trip! She is an absolute blessing in my life and like the sister I never had - ba hahahaha).
(Group photo of us in our shirts with the group on them. Mind blown.)
("It's My First Time!" -- Should've made April turn around and stand next to Bean since her shirt said the same.)
We flew back on Friday afternoon. We woke up early that morning and checked our luggage for the airport at the resort (a nice perk!). We then headed back to Magic Kingdom to hit up Ariel, horses, and a few other rides one last time. We quickly grabbed lunch, said bye to everyone, went back to the hotel, and caught the bus for the airport. It made for a hectic day to go into the park in the morning, but seeing Bean say bye to all the rides was worth it. I thought there would be a meltdown, but she was fine about it. Meltdowns did occur for the next week, though. We had a great time, but I can't see signing up for another trip anytime in the near future (well, that is until Bean says, "Go to Disney World please??").
(Last family Disney photo. This photo is also a shout out to the fact that I saved up all my Jamberry money I've earned from the year to help pay for the trip.)
(My mom bought Bean a Duffey bear for her birthday. Duffey is marketed as Mickey's personal teddy bear. There's even a channel in the hotel that plays the same Duffey cartoon every 10 min for 4 hours each evening! Bean has really attached to this bear and sleeps with him almost every nap and bedtime.)
(This is our "we don't want to be home and want to go back to Disney World" faces. One of us is having to act more than the other one.)