Monday, October 31, 2011

Magic Moments Trip - Day 3 (Oct. 11)

We spent Day 3 at Sea World.  After entering the park, we rushed to the Whale & Dolphin Theater to see “Blue Horizons.”  Other shows we attended were “Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island” at the SeaLion & Otter Stadium and “One Ocean” at the Shamu Stadium.  There was A LOT of walking.  The park is fairly large, and you often have to race to the opposite side of the park to get to the next show.

We stopped at the “Sharks Underwater Grill & Bar” for lunch.  One wall of the restaurant is the side of the shark aquarium.  The kids enjoyed watching the sharks & other fish swim by as we ate.  Afterward, the kids fed shrimp to the sharks in the tank outside the restaurant.

We also enjoyed many of the other rides and attractions in the park, and Criss and the kids had a great time on the ropes course.

One of the highlights of the day was feeding the dolphins at Dolphin Cove.  Autumn’s GKTW button got us into the feeding at no charge.  They walked by and asked how many trays we had purchased.  I said I didn’t know, that we had gotten in with Autumn’s button.  She said, “You get as many as you want then,” and left us four trays.  J  We all had such fun holding the fish up for the dolphins and then petting them under the chin.  (They said the dolphins don’t like to be touched on the top of the nose.) 

A couple of them even plopped themselves on the ledge in front of us and let us rub their sides.

Tuesday evening we attended the Poolside Cookout & Bash at the GKTW Village.  We ate grilled hamburgers, and the kids ran through the fountains and played in the pool.  The pool was VERY cold.  Silas hardly noticed, but Autumn didn’t stay in very long.

Give Kids the World (GKTW) has a snow cone machine that they bring out for all of their parties.  The kids couldn’t have any of the syrup because of their food allergies/intolerances, but they loved eating the ice!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Magic Moments Trip - Day 2 (Oct. 10)

We were very fortunate to have arrived just as some pretty bad weather was leaving the area.  Remnants of the flooding and rain were still present when we arrived on Sunday.  Storms and rain were still expected for the next several days, but we never saw any of it.

At the orientation, they gave the four of us three day park hopper passes at Disney, 2 day tickets to Universal Orlando, and one day at Sea World.  There was also a list (several pages long) of other parks that we could visit for free (or at a discount).  Despite the bad weather that was expected for the day, we decided to start at Magic Kingdom.

Before we headed to Disney World, there were some special activities Monday morning at the Give Kids the World Village (GKTW).  Several days a week, some of the local parks send characters to GKTW to visit the families that are staying there for the week.  On Monday morning, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Mary Poppins came to visit.  Autumn was told that she could bring the Mickey they gave her the day we arrived and Mickey and Minnie would sign it for her.  They said that this is something special they do just for kids in the village.  (I guess they’ll only sign their names on paper in the parks.)

Next, we found our way to Magic Kingdom.  We’d tried to plan ahead, but it still took some time to come up with a plan for the day.  We had passes for free parking and stroller rentals.  After all that was taken care of, our first stops were at a parade making its way down Main Street and a special show at Cinderella’s Castle.  From there, we visited most of the attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Since it was Columbus Day (and the kids were out of school), it was pretty crowded.  Thankfully, we had been given a pass that let us skip most of the lines (or at least let us get in the Fast Pass line).  After every ride, Silas asked, “Can we do that one again?”  Since Criss can get a little queezy, I was the official delegate for all of the spinning rides.

One thing I didn’t do a good job of the first day was realizing where all of the characters were.  We ran into Rapunzel and found out that Autumn’s pass also let us skip the character lines.  (Wow!!!)  You can imagine some of the looks we got.  I just tried not to look at the people who’d been standing in line for 20-30 minutes (with a tired child) just to see one character.  Rapunzel was so sweet to the kids!  Later, Silas’ eye lit up when he got to meet Buzz Lightyear.  Another freebie – GKTW gave us a special photo card.  We could have as many pictures taken as we wanted (by the Disney World photographers).  When we got home, I could order a CD of all of the pictures at no cost.  (That alone normally costs $150+.)

The park closed early that day (for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party).  We chose to attend Mayor Clayton’s Hare Raising Halloween Extravaganza at GKTW.  The kids changed into their Halloween outfits (Cinderella & a football player), and we headed to the party.  The kids enjoyed climbing into a police car, motorcycle, and fire truck.  They also made crafts and played games. 

There was also a racecar the kids could sit in.  Since the door on a racecar doesn’t open, the man had to help the kids in through the window.  While he was being pulled out of the car, Silas told the man, “We use the door handle on our car.”  It was hilarious!

We ended with a train ride and then headed to the villa for the evening.  Another fun day!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Magic Moments Trip - Day 1 (Oct. 9)

We’re back!  Autumn’s Magic Moments trip to Disney was October 9-15.  I’m going to try to write about all that we did each day.  So, today, I’ll start with Day 1.

We’ve been on “free” trips before that ended up costing us a lot of money – but not this trip.  Magic Moments & Give Kids the World Village provided everything.  They flew us to Orlando, got us a rental van, gave us a place to stay (that provided free meals), gave us money to pay for meals while we were in the parks, gave us tickets to several parks, and even gave Autumn spending money.  And we had such an amazing time!

The graduate class I’d been taking was scheduled to be completed the Friday while we were gone, so I worked non-stop the week before we left to finish the work for the class.  It was such a relief when I finally finished and began packing for the trip.  We checked three bags, and carried several more.  I had to carry some of the kids’ food with us, and I could not risk it getting lost or smooshed in the checked luggage.  (Our luggage never tends to fair well on airplanes.)  I also had to keep the medicines, etc. in a safe place.

This was the kids’ first time to fly, and it was so much fun!  I sat with Silas and Nana (my mom) on the way down.  Criss sat with Autumn and Papa (my dad).  Just as I thought, Silas loved looking out the window as we flew.  When we landed in Orlando, everyone chuckled as he called out, “We’re here!”

Once we exited the plane, someone from Give Kids the World was there to greet us, help us find our luggage, and take us to the rental van.  There was a whole row of vans, and we got to pick the one we wanted.  Autumn chose blue.  That ended up being a good thing.  It was much easier to find in all of the large parking lots throughout the week.

We navigated our way to the Village where we were greeted, given some introductory information, and taken to our villa - #290.  They gave Autumn a stuffed Mickey Mouse and Silas a Shamu.  When we arrived at our villa, the kitchen table was filled with even more gifts for the kids.  (They tell you to bring an extra – empty – bag with you so you’ll have room to take all of the toys home with you.  They were not exaggerating!)

We mostly hung around the Village for a while so I could attend the Orientation meeting where they give you all of your tickets for the week and go over everything you need to know.  There’s SO much to do in the village itself.  They have several places to eat, an ice cream parlor, a train, a golf course, their own carousel, and more.

The kids “made” pillows at the Pillow Tree in The Castle of Miracles.  Then, Autumn gave her star to the Star Fairy to place in the castle with the other stars from all of the wish recipients who have stayed in the Village.

Another neat thing is that the Village has video cameras that they will let you use for the week.  You just give it back to them before you leave, and they give you a disc with your videos from the week.  (So nice!)  Since we don’t have a video camera at home, it was the perfect opportunity to get the kids on tape.

That night, we took the kids to Old Town Park (a permanent outdoor fair near the Village) to let them play for a while before calling it a day.