Thursday: Epcot one last time.

We bought a 10-day pass to Disney so after doing each of the 4 parks twice (once with Mom & Dad and once with just our family before they got here), we had to decide as a group, which parks to do a third time. Epcot won out hands down.

We did a few rides early in the morning when there were no lineups but mostly we wandered around The World Showcase and poked our heads in and out of lots of country pavilions.

Trev bought a snack of Roasted Wasabi Green Peas. The jury's still out. They're good, and hot. One of those snacks that you keep eating because you can't decide if you love them or not.

We were the first ones in line for The Candy Lady again - in Japan. This time she chose our kids to make a candy animal for and they had decided ahead of time that if she chose them, they'd ask for a dragon. SO....they ended up with a beautiful purple dragon. It was amazing to watch her create it - I have it on video - but in the end, when we ate it because it was melting in the sun, it wasn't really that tasty. More art, than candy.

The boys spent some time trying hats and stuff on again -this picture in the American Pavillion.

In Africa: Dad, Trev & the boys played drums for a few minutes - I love these little interactive places they have set up :)

One really cool thing that we tried today was the Kim Possible Missions. You sign up at the entrance of the park and then go to your "Country" to get your first assignment. They give you a "cell phone" that has the characters from Kim Possible talking to you and giving you clues to find in various pavilions around Epcot. It was pretty fun for about 45 mins - 1 hour. You press buttons on your cell phone when you're near the next clue and something happens there to give you another clue - the beer steins in the German store started singing, the cuckoo clock opened up revealing the villain running around the clock, the parrot in the Mexican pavilion sang a song or was pretty cool. A great new way for Disney to get your kids to want to be at The World Showcase and get the families moving in and out of the stores.

We came back to the condo for a swim and nap....actually, Mom & Dad & I ended up reading and napping at the pool while Trev swam with the kids and I would have slept a longer time except there was a few raindrops that woke me up :) And then we ended the day with a delicious supper at Chili's. Better waiter, better balloon artist, better food than earlier in the week....a great meal!

Wednesday: Road Trip

A break from Disney today: A road trip out to the Gulf Coast and beach hopping!!
Today started a little more leisurely than most days have. Coffee :) a good breakfast and out the door at only 9am instead of 8am. We drove out past Tampa to the Gulf of Mexico and spent nearly an hour each at 3 different beaches, driving in between and thoroughly enjoying the scenery out there. We did Honeymoon Island Beach, Clearwater Beach and Pass-a-Grille Beach.

The kids saw these seagulls sitting on the lifeguard stand and though that perhaps these WERE the lifeguards. They talked about them a lot so I had to snap some photos :)

We collected a lot of seashells (which I promptly boiled when I got back to the condo so they wouldn't stink all the way home). The beaches there were amazing - made up of what looked like white sand, but on closer inspection, were actually made up of crushed seashells. There was a line on the beach where the water rolled up to that had bigger shells like this (these are about Dime-sized) but most of the beach was sand-grain-sized pieces of seashell. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
We are bringing some shells home with us....of course. Most of which are broken pieces of shells, still beautiful but not complete. And we also found a few complete bright ones like this one (above).

This picture is taken at Clearwater Beach. Can you tell why they call it Clearwater?

Me and the kids. We're baking today but being smart about the sunscreen this time :)

Tuesday - Day 2 at Hollywood Studios

We did Hollywood Studios again today (I still want to call it MGM). I didn't take as many pictures because we did a lot of the same rides as last time. Except this time we did the big Toy Story was very fun! You get to shoot at targets and rack up points while riding around in a car, wearing 3D goggles. Line-ups for this ride were outrageous and 1/2way through the day the fast-passes were gone completely. Even late in the evening when we went back there was an 90-minute wait to ride the ride. One of the best things about this ride, and every ride at Disney, is the decor you walk through to get to the rides.....all completely perfect, thematic decor that makes you forget that you're walking forever and waiting in a line. This one was amazing....totally appeals, again, to my love of dioramas. If I had to pick my TOP job that I'd love to do at Disney, it'd be this: Designing sets/decor for rides. Here are some pics:

The other thing we did today that we hadn't yet, was The Backlot Tour. You drive around in a bus looking at old movie props and stuff. It's good, but it got GREAT for the boys when some old Star Wars props came into view...and then later when there was some Star Wars thing-or-other that you could sit on and have your picture taken (Apparently our children are unsure which direction you would actually lean if you were going FAST in something - science is not something we study in summer).

And of course, you have to pose with the Darth Maul costume! Seriously, who wouldn't want to have That Guy looking over your shoulder :)

We had planned to do the fireworks show at Hollywood Studios but we got there an hour early and it was standing room only so we scrapped it and went to Ghirardelli's for dessert in Downtown Disney instead :) Yummy Mint chocolate something - Mint Blitz I think it was called. Unbelievable.

Monday - Epcot (take 2)

We're at Epcot today :) It's the biggest park I think, with the most walking, so we planned again, to do the park early, come back to the condo for lunch/swim/nap/coffee, and then back to the park till it closed. Worked Perfectly. This is Cale & me as we're walking out of the park (close to 9:30pm)....we're awake, but barely and if I had stopped walking here I might never have started up again. Bagged. But having fun!

The kids are doing great. Mica's hand is still quite swollen - I think she'll need more than a splint when she gets home but we'll see. She's icing it as much as possible. The boys are great. Egan's pretty tired from all the walking but he's keeping up and he's "checking his attitude" and sitting on my lap for snuggles at some of the shows to re-charge. This picture is just outside of Germany's pavilion as we wait for some more German Chocolate to finish off our Chinese food meal.

We saw some acrobats performing at the Chinese pavilion. They were amazing - this girl was hula hooping with all these hoops (don't ask me how) and when she had them spread out like this Cale said it looked like she was inside a slinky. He also commented that some of the jumps the boys were doing, he probably couldn't even do on a trampoline.

Ok...these pictures are hilarious to me. We've been twice now on Spaceship's a slow-moving ride inside the big Ball at Epcot. Basically it's a ride about how the communication has changed on the earth, starting with grunting and cave drawings, through alphabet and papyrus development, through printing presses, radio & TV and ending with computers and the hint that there'll be even more options in the future. Somewhere during the ride it takes your picture (lots of rides do to capture your surprise and to try to charge you $20 to buy your picture). This ride though, does something funny with your pictures. It cuts your face out of your picture and then uses just the face in a video game-type thing that you do at the end of the ride (you choose what kind of life you think you might like to have in the future: city vs. country; space vs. undersea; etc...) and then it puts your choices into a cartoon with your face in it. This particular time, Egan & I decided to make funny faces when we did it - below are 2 of the many pictures I took of our computer screen as our game/video played out.

Oh yeah, this one's fun too.....a ride called "The Land" It's a boat ride showing how we're changing how we work the land to conserve our resources...and then it ends with a tour of a greenhouse with some amazing plants and technologies that they're testing and trying. Nine pound lemons, plants that grow with little or no soil at all (just a watering system that delivers water and nutrients by spray directly to exposed roots), plants that grow in sand and this beauty.....what I'd LOVE to have in my backyard - a tomato tree. This whole plant is ONE plant....but it's been trained to grow up and across a screen making a finished plant that's probably 10 ft x 10 ft across, all growing from one single plant...and producing tomatoes up to 15 months straight. I'm tempted to put up a greenhouse in my backyard just for this.

Lastly, not Disney, but still fun.....we went to Cracker Barrel for supper last night. Maybe not my favourite restaurant ever but a fun crafty gift shop in the front and I took some pictures of some things to make/do when I get home and have time to scrapbook and play again!

Sunday - Animal Kingdom (take 2)

We did Animal Kingdom today for the second time (first time with Grandma & Grandpa). We knew there were lots of things they'd love there today and we wanted to share those experiences with them....the last time they were at Disney (16 years ago?) there WAS no Animal Kingdom. We started, of course, with the's good Every Single Time - a drive through Africa seeing real animals. I got a few more great pictures of the elephants and giraffe.

Our second stop was Expedition Everest. Mom & Dad did this crazy-coaster with us once and then when Trev got Fast Passes for a second round, they, and I sat the next round out. I can do it once but twice is too much for me. The second time, I thought I'd take pictures of every train coming out of the mountain in the hopes of getting a shot of Trev & the kids in their car....and the second train out had them in it. You can't see them well in here but they're in the back 2 rows. When I get home I'll crop it and you'll be able to see them :) Lucky shot on my part.

We did the Dinosaur ride (Mica's favourite) and we ate lunch at a place called "Restarant-asaurus" in Dino-land.

The rest of the day we watched some shows....The Lion King show which we saw the other day but wanted to see with Mom & Dad. It was totally worth seeing again although Trev & I both thought the main character singers were better earlier in the week than this performance. I guess it's not possible to keep your A-team in 4 shows a day, 7 days a week.

We also saw "Finding Nemo - the musical" today - unbelievable. The music was great (singers were phenomenal) and the puppetry was stunning....singers holding puppets that moved and swayed - you could swear they were really underwater. My absolute favourite was Crush the Turtle -actor/singer with fabulous voice and a very large, very perfect costume!

In the line-up for Nemo, we saw a grasshopper. Nothing special about that except that this thing was 1/2 the size of Mica's hand. Can you believe that thing? We actually saw another one later in the day closer to our condo. Freakish. Can you even imagine if this was the "locust" from the plagues of Exodus? Eeeeeeewww.

Oh, and earlier in the day we did the Maharajah walking tour though the forest (cages of Komodo Dragons, tigers, bats and tons of birds). Bet you didn't know this about me....but I LOVE bats. I'm fascinated by them and could watch them for hours. Part of my fascination comes, I think, from the fact that I had bats living in the rafters/roof of the farmhouse I grew up in and when my bedroom was in the attic for a few years, I could hear them skittering around up there sometimes. I even had one in the house once...and when we tore the porch off our house to move the house to a new basement, a whole "family" of them swooped out of the siding that was being ripped off. Crazy. Cool.

Anyway....that's Sunday. Can't believe we're here already - tomorrow we're doing Epcot, next day the Gulf of Mexico and then several more days of Disney. Thanks for hanging in here with me :)

Saturday - Magic Kingdom with Grandma & Grandpa

We used our "this works for us" trick today to make the most of our day at Magic Kingdom. What is our trick, you ask? This: Up early, good breakfast, get to the park before it opens. Hit the good rides first and make use of fast passes until noon-ish when the line-ups start to get longer. Home to the condo for a quick lunch (sandwiches), a swim in the pool to cool down, and a nap! Today we actually all slept in the afternoon - it was lovely! And we took the time for a leisurely cup of coffee before part 2 of our "trick" which is: Head back to the park around 4pm or so just as everyone else is getting tired of the park and heading home. Now we're rested and ready to go with enough energy to stay for the late night Light Parade and Fireworks show. Just before midnight the kids ran through the shower and hit the hay. We wouldn't run this long a day too many days in a row, but today was very nice. The clouds never materialized into a storm but they did keep the blazing sun at bay so that was very nice too.

A few quick pictures....I need to let Trev get back to the Bomber game soon :)

The kids didn't want to line up for character autographs and photos anymore but Stitch happens to be Cale's favourite and there was no line-up so we did this one and one more today.

Mica did great with her splint on today - no complaining even though it was hot in there. She even stuck some Disney stickers on it.

In Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Dad got to be "That Guy" - it's a long story - but that's HIM up on the screen beside the main stage.

Yes, we did "It's a Small World" and if anyone starts singing that song to me ever again, I may throw up :) I did realize though, that NOTHING Canadian is in that ride, at all....not even the politically incorrect Eskimo anymore. They just took us out altogether.

Mom & Dad with the kids at Magic Kingdom.

Friday....a little bit of lazy, a little bit of OOPS.

Today was our planned lazy day. We knew we had to be at the Orlando airport to pick up Trev's parents after lunch so we spent the day cleaning the condo a little, having coffee, watching Animal Planet and lazing around. Our "little bit of lazy" was just lovely - especially in light of yesterday (see last post - Epcot marathon) Then came our "little bit of OOPS." Mica & I were tearing bedding off her queen bed so we could remake it for Mom & Dad with clean bedding and somehow she tripped over the pile of blankets on the floor and fell wrong on her hand and OOPS...fractured her hand. D'oh! Trev took her to a clinic that is seriously, 1/4 block from here - they don't DO hands apparently but they recommended another clinic that's a couple blocks from here at the Walmart parking lot (we DO know where that is!) They, of course, didn't have an X-ray tech in till 5pm so they made an appointment for 5pm and came back home. She iced it all day and at 5 (after picking Grandma & Grandpa up at the airport, another grocery trip to Walmart and an afternoon swim), Trev took her back for her appointment and sure enough....fractured. She came back with a really nice black splint. We'll have to get her checked out when we're home but for now this will do - she's going to baby it this week....and she can take it off to swim and shower for now.

After her appointment we tried to make reservations for supper at Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney but they don't take reservations after 4pm so we went there anyway hoping to get a walk-in seat. When we got there though, we changed our minds and went here instead: T-Rex. The whole restaurant is done in dinosaur decor and the room we ate in actually was inside a glacier of some plastic roof that glowed blue most of the time except for the every-20-minute-meteor shower that rained down, then the roof glowed red and purple. Very very cool!
Of course, the boys had to show Grandma & Grandpa The Lego Store...
....especially the Wall of lego that you can choose from to buy buckets of...
and the lego sculptures outside that you can pose with. In this one picture - 4 of the people are made of Lego, 3 are our kids, 2 are my in-laws and 1 is some kid who wouldn't get out of the picture....thanks a lot mom...we got out for your picture.

After supper we did a little walking around checking out stores....and we found this street entertainer doing some juggling and a few little sleight of hand tricks. I love this about Disney - everything's a show.