Thursday, June 3, 2010

Let the "Magic" begin....WDW part 1

On to the Magical leg of our trip;)

They don’t call it the “Happiest Place on Earth” for nothin’!

Upon our arrival at the airport in Orlando, we were directed to the baggage claim area where we were to meet our “Magical Express” bus that took us to the resort. I must say, the “Magical Express” made our trip to and from the airport VERY PAINLESS! It was so nice not to have to deal with our bags AT ALL! However, if you have more than 1 small child, it could become a difficult process because you need to wait in line for about 20 minutes before loading your bus to the resort.

After a 30 minute bus ride to our resort, Disney’s Yacht Club, we were greeted and quickly shown to our room. After getting a few things organized, we loaded Rutledge in his stroller and walked the pathway that connected our resort to Epcot. It was about a 5 minute walk along a canal. We spent a couple of hours in Epcot just walking around, getting our bearings, figuring out what we wanted to do with Rutledge. After our walk it was time to head back to the room and get ready for CBAA’s Welcome Reception. Upon our arrival at the reception, we were greeted by Minnie Mouse….she really is sweet;)

I realize now that this was not the wisest choice of dress for me.....not exactly flattering..oh, well;)

 Our conference did a great job planning this event and made sure that at each gathering there were characters greeting the children. It really took the pressure off of us to “meet and greet” characters at the various parks. Because honestly, Matt and I were not about to wait in a long line in the hot sun to meet a character that our child will not remember.

When the reception was almost over, I took Rutledge back to our room where we were met by a Walt Disney World babysitter. I was a little hesitant to use this service but then some good friends (shoutout to Melissa & Granny Gowan) shared their experience with this service and I went on and booked a sitter for 2 nights during our stay. And boy, are we glad that we did!!! We needed a sitter Sunday night because a couple of sponsors wanted to take us out for supper. Our sitter was Felicia and was in school to become a pediatric oncology nurse…pretty nice:) She was VERY professional and asked about Rutledge’s day and how his routine had gone and all of those usual things. I gave her the usual info like bedtime and off we went! We had a private dining room at Shula’s Steakhouse and the steak was great! The company was even better because we had a chance to visit with friends that we have made on the Community Bankers Association of Alabama's “Conference Circuit”. We love Joe and Shawn!!! They crack us up! Joe works with Mauldin Jenkins Accounting Firm and Shawn is his lovely wife. All of their children have double names…..all 4 of them;)  I can only remember 3 of them....Davis Ann, Joe Barbour, Alan Jennings (aka the caboose) LOVE.  We hope to see them this football season in Auburn and next summer at the Leadership Community Bankers Conference in SanDestin!!!

Monday morning we headed to our conference area for breakfast after which Matt had to stay for a few hours and attend some meetings. That meant that Bubba and I were free to relax and finish unpacking and check out the resort. Seriously, we watched leaf blowers, gardeners, maintenance people…he was in HOG HEAVEN. We were ready to go when Matt returned to the room, so we headed downstairs to the bus station where we could catch a bus to the Magical Kingdom…..Ummm, we didn’t realize that there were different buses that went to each park…..we accidently got on the bus to the Animal Kingdom. We decided not to worry and just keep going because we already had an itenerary for the Animal Kingdom and we could just switch our days up and everything would be fine!

We arrived at the Animal Kingdom and went straight to the Rainforest Café for lunch. I had not made a reservation beforehand and was a little nervous about the wait time. Fortunately, the wait was only 15 minutes and we amused ourselves with the big aquarium in the lobby and giftshop while we waited. Now, typically, you need to make reservations for any table service restaurant on the resort, but since it was before Memorial Day, I took the chance on this place for lunch. The Rainforest Café is a really great place to take children. The food isn’t great…well, its really decent food, but it’s a chain and it serves chain restaurant food but does have a great variety of choices and pricepoints. The reason you go to the Rainforest Café is because of the atmosphere. The ceiling and walls are COVERED in vines and foliage and hanging from all of it are tons of animals and bugs. All along the walls are stations with large animals. Every 15-20 minutes there is a “Stampede” when all of the foliage and animals start moving and making noise and there is a light mist that falls in special areas. I was worried about getting wet but Matt pointed out that all the water that falls goes directly into a tray several feet below. Rutledge sat there for an hour just staring at everything and naming everything he could see! It was a great time filler and diversion while waiting for lunch.







After lunch, we headed straight to “Africa” to get a Fast Pass for our safari. We discovered that the Fast Pass is a wonderful thing. You put your ticket into the kiosk and it prints out a “boarding pass” that tells you what time to come back and board that particular ride. Our passes told us to come back in about 75 minutes, so, we headed over to the train station and took a 5 minute ride to the Observation Area.
Here is a pic of Bubba waiting on the train....tired boy!


But, he woke up as soon as he heard the train:)

What a cool African train!

Once there, we were able to visit an animal hospital and pet an animal. The animal of the hour was a crocodile…..Rutledge loves “diles” so, of course, we had to let him have his chance. I have to say that it was just such a professional, non-chaotic experience because they had a zoologist handling the animal and then another person wrangling people and making sure that the line kept moving.



After petting the “dile”, we walked around the building looking in the observation windows of the animal hospital. It was really neat to see because they had a little chalkboard up that had a schedule of procedures and times. We had just missed a wound cleaning on a guinea pig!

Before we left the building, Rutledge got to see the animal that was about to become the “animal of the hour”, Mr. Hedgehog!

Outside the building is an area called the “Affection Section”. They had a bucket of brushes and you could go up and brush a particular animal. At the time we were there, this sheep was on duty;)

Matt said that this poor sheep was going to have all of his wool brushed off due to all of the "affection"

After these wonderful activities and time killers, it was time to board our train back to Africa and take our safari! We went into the Fast Pass entrance and zoomed past everyone else;) We waited a total of 5 minutes to board our jeep and head out on our safari!!!


A pic of our jeep.



 This was a great although bumpy ride! We were able to get really close to several animals and it was really cool to see how Disney had recreated their natural habitats. This was no zoo people. Really, really neat!
We saw lots of animals.  Here a few of the decent pics. It was rather bumpy, so, lots of pics didn't turn out.







This is a lion...taking a nap.  See his front leg in the air?

 
Our afternoon in the Animal Kingdom was over after our safari and so we scooted out of the park just as they were roping things off for the Animal Parade. We loaded up on a bus and headed back to the Yacht Club to go swimming and cool off a bit.

The pool at the Yacht Club is amazing. They have a “no entry” zone for little kids which means they can walk down into the pool from a sand pile. And speaking of the sand, they have “Magical” sand. If anyone out there is a baker, they know that sugar comes in various granular sizes. I would compare this sugar to the consistency of “Raw Sugar”, if you know what that is….It was extremely large “grained” sand. So, it never stuck to you!!! I HATE sand, so this was like witnessing the miracle of turning water into wine….;) But, it makes perfect sense because it eliminates the tracking of sand all over hotels. We all had a blast digging in the sand and hanging out each afternoon. It was a perfect way to cool off after a few hours in the park.
Alas, I don't have any decent pool pics.  I had a major issue with too much light and don't know enough about my camera to fix it:(  I'll look on my other SD card and maybe we can come up with something.

Monday night we had a cocktail reception and dinner sponsored by the convention. The theme was “Nights in Nantucket”. You all know that I LOVE a theme. So, I dressed Bubba up in the most “Nantucket” attire I could find in his packed closet;) He was precious of course.


Our night in Nantucket ended with children's games. 

Bubba saw the line forming and had to join in!

He didn't know what he was in store for!
LIMBO!!!

When it was his turn, he went right up to the pole and looked at it....

Then, he looked under it....

After thoroughly inspecting the limbo pole, he decided to play the game.

Daddy was waiting on the other side!

Come on Daddy, Come on!  Again, Again!
He played limbo two  more times and then it was time for "Magical" sleep;)

Part 2 of our adventure coming soon!

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