Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Disney World

This November Steve and Christina had an academic conference in Orlando, FL - so they were able to take Clara and Elena along to see Disney World!  (This was only possible because Grammie Ellen and Nana Rose agreed to join us too - two grandmas make working and vacationing at the same time much more possible, and we thank them so much for coming along!).

We spent our first day at the Magic Kingdom, which was indeed magical.  Christina only cried three times (all happy, "can't believe we're really a family and here together" kind of tears) and no one else cried at all, so it was a great day.  We were truly amazed at the girls - they  never whined, threw a tantrum, begged for anything, or even got in a bad mood.  We stayed from morning till the fireworks, which we hadn't expected at all.

Who will pull out the sword from the stone?  (None of us, as it turned out, were worthy enough).
Racing cars with Grammie and Nana!

We only stood in line for one photo op in the Magic Kingdom, and it was for Tigger and Pooh.  It only took a little while, and the girls were so happy!

When the girls were a month old Christina heard about the Bippity Boppity Boutique in Cinderella's castle.  You make an appointment, go INSIDE the castle, dress up like a princess, etc. - and she was convinced her girls would get to do it one day.  (Good thing she started saving five years early for this!).  This is where many of the tears came in - it was amazing to see the day finally happen.
Well, okay.  It was magical for Christina, it was happy for Grammie and Nana, and for Steve it
The two pretty princesses were SO excited, though!  Clara chose to dress as Aurora, and Elena chose to dress as Belle.  Then they waited to get called for hair and make-up.
They got to choose everything (hair style, makeup, colors, etc.).  They seemed to really enjoy having a team of people work on them!

A grateful, lucky mom and her two beautiful princesses.
Another big highlight of our visit was that a brand new section of the park was open for a "dress rehearsal" while we were there (it was only open that week, then shut again until the grand opening just last week!).  It includes Belle's village, and for a girl dressed as Belle that was pretty exciting.  After they got dressed up all the Disney workers would say "Hello, princess" whenever they saw the girls.  But when we got to Belle's village and walked down the sidewalk a cast member said "Hello, princess" to Clara and then "Welcome home, Belle" to Elena.  If we could capture that moment forever we would - she was spellbound, and proud, and felt so recognized. 

We ate at Gaston's tavern (pork shanks were the only thing on the menu!) and then were able to go to "Storytime with Belle."  Since it was brand new we had no idea what it was, and thought at first it looked kind of boring - we just stood in Maurice's workshop and saw all of the things he invented.  Suddenly, though, a mirror turned into a door and we walked through into the Beast's castle.  We were invited to put on a show for Belle (her own life story, as it turned out) and Nana, Steve, Clara, and Elena were all given parts.  Nana was a picture, Steve was a guard, Clara was Belle's father, and Elena was the Beast.

And it turned out that "real Belle!" came in, and acted out the scene with everyone.  It was astoundingly  magical.  Again, especially since Elena was dressed up as Belle (under her Beast cloak) it kind of made everyone realize what a big deal it was for her - Christina cried, random audience members cried - it was incredible.  Sadly, it was hard to take pictures in this dim room, but we hope you can see how very special this was for Elena.
And also wonderful for Clara - she just glowed with happiness to get a hug like this from Belle.  It would have taken us hours (and quite a bit of money and advance reservations) to have this kind of encounter with Belle in the park.  We really feel very lucky that we had this experience just by chance.
The next day we went to Epcot - it was a different pace, but still fun.  Since we were in the parks on almost the lightest attendance week of the year we pretty much had our run of the place at Epcot.
In China-

In Norway?
In England - they loved this street performance!
In Canada.
There were characters roaming all around Epcot -the girls go their moment with Daisy Duck-
And Goofy!
Grammie Ellen bought the girls lanyards and Disney pins.  We did not really understand why, until we figured out that she understood the whole pin-swapping plan way better than we did.  You start with any pins you have/like, but every single cast member at Disney World is given pins every morning - you can walk up to any of them and ask to trade, and they will.  You can also trade with other kids.  It's pretty cool - and makes any wait you have way more interactive!
The next day was Hollywood Studios - we had soft pretzels in the street, saw a Pixar parade, went to a Jake and the Neverland Pirates/Mickey's Clubhouse show, so how animation was made, and kept ourselves pretty busy!
We met Mickey, and were so excited that it was cousin Suki's birthday on this day that we asked Mickey to Facetime with her over Christina's phone.  He did, and it was so cool!
The only ride we really had to wait for in all of Disneyworld was the Toy Story ride in Hollywood Studios.  It took us 45 minutes, but we had a 3D adventure that the girls were thrilled with.
And outside we ran into one of the Toy Story soldiers (literally, we were running down the sidewalk to get to Grammie and Nana and suddenly there was this soldier smack in front of us - we thought he was a statue!).

The girls also went to Animal Kingdom with Nana and Grammie (which we don't have pictures of) and to see Winter the dolphin in Clearwater, FL.  We DO have pictures of that, and will post those next!

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