Talk of the Trains

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hollywood Studios and Hollywood & Vine

Our last day in Orlando was spent at Hollywood Studios. We slept in, got around slowly and headed that way. We had a late dinner reservation there, so we knew we would be there all day and again just took our time. 

Our schedule was this:: 
Fast Passes - Disney Junior - Live On Stage - 10:15 AM
Toy Story Midway Mania - 11:10 AM 
For the First Time In Forever - A Frozen Sing Along Celebration - 12:35 PM
Dining - Hollywood & Vine - 6:40 PM 

For some reason, I was thinking we had an hour for our first Fast Pass check in. I totally forgot that it was a live show (um, LIVE on stage should have been the reminding keywords) and we stopped for Starbucks and were late. 

The show was about to start and we could have tried to throw the stroller and run in, but we decided we would just orient ourselves to the park, enjoy our drinks and be on time for the next ride. The park was not crowded at all and so we met the Toy Soldier, snacked and pressed pennies before hopping on Toy Story Midway Mania. 


The kids loved it and squealed while I held on for dear life. I was also holding Moose so between the 3D glasses and the thing spinning like crazy, we didn't shoot (or hit) much. It was fun though and one I definitely recommend using a Fast Pass on. 

After that was the Frozen Sing Along. I'm not going to lie. I am over Anna, Elsa, Olaf and crew. We listen to the soundtrack in the car, we sing to it in Spanish - which I do not speak, but own both English and Spanish soundtracks, so I make muttering attempts and the kids constantly fight over who is Anna, Elsa, etc. I knew the kids were excited and I was excited to sit in a cool theater and them be entertained. 

Despite my lack of enthusiasm to hear "Let It Go" one more time, this show may have been one of the best ones we saw. It did play all of the songs for the kids to sing along to, but the cast who led it was hysterical. The puns, Disney jokes and their acting as they played off of each other was second to none and both the hubs and I laughed and laughed. 


After this, we went to grab lunch and we passed a Fast Pass Kiosk and added the Disney Junior Live On Stage (again) for later that day. 

The boys were tired, so Daddy and Annie M went to catch a few rides and I pushed the stroller and walked. Boys slept, Annie M and Daddy got some one on one time and knocked out a few quick rides and I got steps in. Winning all around! 


They woke up shortly before the show and we headed in. The kids like this but we were sitting on the floor and Moose just wanted to run up to the stage so Hubs and I were sweating trying to manage him. After the show, we snapped a few pictures and just let the kids all mosey and walk. 



We took our time getting to dinner and the kids enjoyed their freedom and not having to be some where immediately. As we got ready to go in, the dark clouds rolled in. You could barely see a rainbow coming off of the corner where the brick and white stucco buildings come together. Hubs and I threw a poncho over the stroller and we hustled the kids in to eat. 

This was my one faux pas of the trip. Apparently at dinner time they do not have characters there. The kids were expecting Handy Manny, Sofia, Jake and Doc McStuffins to be there and unfortunately, they weren't there for dinner. I remember reading online it at one point, but when I went to book it through My Disney Experience and then selected character meals and it gave me that time slot, I took it and didn't think twice - actually I thought that they must have it then otherwise it wouldn't have been an option since I had gone through the character dining option. 

Turns out we weren't the only ones who had done this in error as there were kids crying in the bathroom and parents trying to console them. It was the end of our trip and we just told the kids they were so lucky to meet so many others and we would remember this for next time. With the promise of an extra dessert, they forgave me and moved on. 

The manager was really nice and actually offered to work with us on another time to come back. We opted just to pass since we were leaving the next morning, but we really appreciated him taking the time to do that. Since this was our first Disney World trip and since I really wasn't sure how it all would go or what to expect, to have this as our only "major" issue was okay. 

They said they are starting the characters at dinner again in November (2015) so if you have a reservation after that, then you will get to meet them. 

Dinner was great and we wrapped up and headed home. We got a final souvenir and we bid our farewells to Mickey and crew - til the next time! 

It really was a fabulous trip. We had a few fussy moments, but the kids did great. We paced ourselves, had fun and got to see and do a ton. We got a great package and planned well and it was enjoyable for us all. At this point, we have not yet set a goal for our next trip back, but I am assuming it will be a few years off. I have a conference in Orlando next year and sometimes we beach vacation nearby, so I can see us throwing in a day here or there, but as for almost a full week at Disney, I am not sure...that said the kids are already begging to go back so who knows! 

That about wraps up my Disney posts! I have a few more thoughts to throw in and a costume tutorial I want to do, but am going to get back to normal business round here! Thanks for reliving our trip with me and happy traveling to any of you who may soon be going to see the mouse! 

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

More Magic Kingdom and Crystal Palace

If you are just joining us, here is the quick trip rundown thus far.

Day 1 of our trip was spent at Epcot, Animal Kingdom and dining at Akershus.

Day 2, we spent the day at the Magic Kingdom, ate at Chef Mickey's for lunch then to Downtown Disney for the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and wrapped up the night back at Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Since the night before was a late night, I was thankful that our Day 3 fast passes weren't too early and we were all able to sleep in a bit. We had a late lunch reservation too, so the kids ate a late breakfast and we were rested, fed and off and running!

Here was our schedule for the day::
Fast Passes: Enchanted Tales With Belle -10:40 ish
Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin - 12:15 ish
Monsters Inc., Laugh Floor - 1:20 ish
Jungle Cruise - (added after our first three were complete) - 4:25
Dining at Crystal Palace at 2:20
Anna and Elsa - 7 PM
Main Street Electrical Parade at 8 PM

Since we knew we would only be at Magic Kingdom that day and not park hopping, and since we weren't high tailing it in early - nor did we have to stay late if the kids tired out, we opted to ride the bus from our hotel. If it had been during the morning rush or if we were doing multiple parks or if we were going to be super late that night, I would have done the drive and park thing - just to have options. Since we had flexible plans this day, we went with Disney's transportation system and prayed the kids would behave!

We walked to the bus stop just before 10 and a bus pulled up immediately. I held the kids, hubby folded the stroller and we headed to the park. There were only a few others on the bus so we had seats and room.

We got off at Magic Kingdom, threw the kids in the stroller, entered the park and walked up to our Fast Pass at Enchanted Tales With Belle at about 10:45. Again, I would not do this with three squirmy littles at peak travel times, but we didn't have to wait and the hotel to park service was nice. 

As for the Enchanted Tales With Belle, it is an interactive thing where the kids act out a story. They get to hold props and be a part of it as it it told. I thought for sure my kids would be all into it - given how Annie M will hop on stage any chance she is given. It was funny though that she was quite the opposite! Shy, almost! Anyway, if your kid wants to be in it, have them stand towards the front and interactive as they fill the roles! Annie M says, "next time she is going to be in the front and yell loud so she can be a part." Haha. 

After Belle, Brother got really, really fussy. I was surprised as we had slept in and it was early, but he just wanted to be held. We gave the kids snacks, did something else - that I cant remember right now - and then we walked to our net ride. 

As we walked little man fell asleep in my arms. I was really sad that he missed the Buzz Lightyear ride as I thought he would love it, but I didn't mind the extra snuggles....even if I did carry him for over AN HOUR AND A HALF sweating to death, walking all over Florida! Also, this photo was taken one armed in the dark as I aimed at them behind me. I was so happy it came out!


Since Brother was still asleep, after Buzz, we hopped on the Tommorrowland Transit PeopleMover. I have no idea if this is considered a ride or leisure activity or what, but right then and there, I decided that it might just be my favorite thing in the park. 

I was hot and tired and had a snoozing baby in my arms and the wind blowing and perfect pace of the people mover in and out of air conditioning and sunny skies about did me in. I was so relaxed I could have ridden that thing all day. 


It was almost our time to hop in line for the Monsters Inc. Fast Pass, so I forwent my desire to sleep on the people mover for the rest of the day and I carried my sleeping baby to the next show! He slept through most of it - which was good because Moose was a handful!! He wanted to be moving and did not like us sitting still! The show was really funny and cute though and it was fun how they incorporated the crowd. 

This little one got all giggly when she found her face up on screen as "Boo" in the show! ...sorry for the awful iPhone pic, but it was one of those shots that I held my phone and when she flashed up again, I did what I could to get it - with Brother sleeping on me! 

As Monsters Inc. ended, Brother was waking up and it was almost time for us to walk to Crystal Palace for our super late lunch. We passed a Fast Pass Kiosk and stopped to add the Jungle Book ride to our afternoon schedule.

The thing I loved about Disney is that I truly felt like there was something for all ages and I didn't feel like we had to stand or wait in lines for rides for kids to be entertained. There was always a show to watch, a band playing, a parade that would soon be coming by and more. As my kids get older, I know the rides will be there thing and we wont stand and watch the princesses at the castle over and over - but for this year and for our ages, the combination and the variety was just perfect. 


We arrived at Crystal Palace (inside Magic Kingdom) and the character dining was the same experience (buffet style, boys eat off of our plate and character interaction, signatures and pictures). Winnie the Pooh, Tigger - or Tiger as Brother calls him, Piglet and Eeyore were at this restaurant and we had a great experience. I wasn't sure that the kids even knew who Piglet was, but Brother was excited nonetheless!


My Mom has a former student who works at Disney and so we met up with her and said hello before parting ways for the kids to go ride the Jungle Book ride and me to walk around with a tired Moose in hopes he would nap. He did fall asleep so he and I parked ourselves inside Starbucks so I could get a treat and charge my phone (hello hard to find plug spots in Disney!) and him sleep in the cool. 

After the quick rest, we went towards the castle to go watch the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party. The kids loved this parade as towards the end of it all of the characters and cast come off of the floats and everyone dances in the street. 

After the parade, there was one thing left to Anna and Elsa! I have to say that this was probably the best character meet and greet that we did. Anna and Elsa listened as the kids serenaded them with song and then posed for picture after picture. We were in such a rush, I forgot the autograph books. Mom fail, for sure, but the kids were so happy and the pictures are worth a thousand words - and signatures!


It was just past 7 pm at this point, so we ran and grabbed dinner and headed to a spot to watch Disney's Electrical Parade. Again, we took glow sticks for the kids and they were happy to have them and I was happy that they weren't asking for me to purchase some for them. 

The parade brought back childhood memories for me! I remember the lights and music and to see my kids experience it all was really fun. Not that it had anything super fancy or crazy, but the kids loved it all. Moose just clapped and pointed and cheered and the two bigs would squeal at the lights and their favorite characters that passed. This was a fun way to end the night. 


The fireworks would soon be happening and since we had watched (and Annie M hid) the night before, we opted to go ahead and leave. We made a quick pass through a store for a goodie for each kid and went to the bus. We also did not want to wait in post firework bus lines and this put us at the front of that.  

It ended up being perfect as we could "see" the fireworks as we waited and Annie M was happy to be far far away. Mommy and Daddy were glad to be first in line on the crowded bus! With that, we called it a night and bid farewell to the Magic Kingdom for this trip! 

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Tips and Thoughts on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


The Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parade (MNSSHP) event only happens a few nights a week starting in September and then running through October  (I think). I am no Disney expert, but if I recall correctly, in November is when Christmas at Disney starts - which I have heard is gorgeous.  

The MNSSHP event does require a special event ticket to be purchased and a kind family member gifted us with our tickets. We were so excited! 

The morning we got to Magic Kingdom, there were still some available but by afternoon it was sold out. The Magic Kingdom closes early that day and if you don't have tickets for the evening event, you are not allowed to stay. 

If you read my earlier post, you know that the day was a crazy day. Fast passes and a bunch of rides in the morning, lunch just outside of the park at the Contemporary and then to Downtown Disney before heading back to Magic Kingdom for the MNSSHP. 

We arrived back to Magic Kingdom and were walking in the gates right at 7 pm when the evening started. 

To be completely honest, I thought the event would be more exclusive and the crowds small. I am not sure how many tickets they sell or what the cap is or if they just aren't doing a good job of getting people without tickets out, but it seemed crowded to me. We still had a great time, just wasn't what I was thinking based off of the reviews I had read.  

We walked in and the streets were already lined and people reserving holding their spot for an 8:30 pm parade. WHAT!? I figured we could get in a few rides and then walk over to snag a spot, but no. It looked like if we wanted to be able to view it at all, we would have to go ahead and find a spot, park ourselves and wait the next hour and a half. 

We have a friend who is a performer at the Magic Kingdom and she tipped me off on one of the best places to stand and watch. We headed straight for her recommendation (near the Liberty Bell in Liberty Square and on that side of the street - as you can see the parade coming and watch it pass. It is also near the start of the parade, so after it completes, you can take off and do stuff - versus on Main Street where you have to wait and wait for the parade to get to you and then wait for it to complete to fight crowds back to rides.)

We were in our front row spot near the Liberty Bell by 7:25 and the kids were hungry. Hubs and Brother went off to find food while Annie M and I made friends with those around us and Moose and the stroller held our spot. We got out the glow sticks we brought and had a grand ole time waiting. This was the longest we waited for anything the entire time we were at Disney, so no complaints. 

The parade was fun but some of the costumes are very zombie-ish, just for anyone who is wondering. My kids hid behind the stroller once - when the grave diggers were hitting their shovels on the ground and it was making sparks. Annie M is skittish about fire stuff and she was not a fan. She came out of her hiding spot to watch the parade finish. 

From there, we ran straight to a few spots to trick-or-treat. I was a bit confused with this. It was listed on the map where trick or treat spots were and then pumpkins were lit up at the actual rides to indicate where you could run through. It was indicated on the map where character meet ups would be too, but it was fairly spread out and I was a bit turned around and found it hard to see in the dark. We ended up asking cast members as I would rather just ask then walk and wander. I don't think its not well marked, more of just my lack of familiarity with Disney and my inexperience with the event and trying to keep an eye on three littles in the dark in large crowds. 

They were more than generous with their candy giving and the kids went through four or five lines and ended up with bags full. If you have older kids I think they will love running from one to the next to the next, but for ours and their age, we stayed in one general area and made the most of it - doing some candy lines multiple times. 

After doing that for about an hour, the kids were getting tired. It was going on 9:30 and so we decided we would walk to the front of the park and try to find a spot on Main Street to catch the fire work show before heading out. 


Moose fell asleep, Brother liked it but wanted to be held, Hubby and I loved it and Annie M was again, a bit skittish.....She has never been scared of them before and all of this came up this summer when my sister had sparklers at her wedding and I a tiny spark hit AM's shoulder and it startled her. 

Since Kristin's wedding she has been panicky about sparks, fire and now fireworks. It didn't help that we were standing under one of the buildings that they wet down just prior to the show. She asked if it was raining and where all the water was coming from and we told her it was in preparations for the show - as a precautionary to keep everything safe....I'm assuming this is what it is?? Maybe shouldn't I have given her this answer, but she seemed happy that they were "safe" but still wanting to get far, far away!

I fed her candy as she watched from behind the stroller and all was well as she peeked around and occasionally told me how pretty they were. She is not asking to go watch fireworks anytime soon, but we did watch them from afar the next night and she loved that - and was happy to be far away! 

While the MNSSHP party would continue on, our littles were fading. It was pushing 10 PM and we still had to get back to the hotel and get them to bed so we called it a night. 

Here are my tips and thoughts if you are going to the MNSSHP. 
  • Definitely dress up. Everyone there (all ages, shapes, sizes and no right or wrong to the dress!) was dressed up and our kids loved fitting right in with all of the costumes. 
  • If your kids can make it til the end of the night, skip the first parade and get in rides, character visits or trick or treating. My suspicions are that the later parade time is a lot less competitive for front row seats and that you can maximize your time in the park while others are watching the early parade. 
  • Take glow sticks. They are selling them left and right and so having them will help you avoid spending money on these for kids.
  • Eat before you go. Not all food service places are open and we planned on using one of our walk up services that night, but when we had to go straight to our parade spot, we really limited our choices. Stuff was closed and then nothing nearby, so eat ahead and snack there if you must. 
  • They give you a candy bag as you enter. We took Dollar Tree ones but if you don't have one, they will give you one. Don't worry about packing anything fancy or that you have to keep up with. They gave one to Moose, Hubby and me, so between the five of us, we had plenty of bags for candy stashing. 
  • The candy they give out is the good stuff...Air Heads, Reese's, Skittles, etc. No cheap candy for Disney!! Not allergy/nut free though.
  • It was a long day, but we had time to leave, go nap, come back, etc. It worked out well for us being on property and leaving, them napping in the car, etc. If you can leave and squeeze in an afternoon nap, I think it would be worth the effort to enjoy the night! 
It was a fun night! The kids loved seeing all of the costumes and I was impressed with how we left Disney World that afternoon and came back and the whole thing had been transformed into Halloween! It's like you just blink there and stuff happens! Magical for sure! 

Talk of the Trains - Disney Trip 2015
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