Friday, June 21, 2013

June Trip - Days 7, 8, & 9 - Disney Days

So, amid all those Tropical Storm warnings, on Thursday morning, I got up early and packed up the car......errrr....truck. (I still can't believe I drove that big ol' honkin' truck all over SoFla with zero incidents!)  
A line of severe storms from Tropical Storm Andrea had swept over the west coast of Florida (where we were staying) in the wee hours of the morning and more storms were expected that afternoon, but it looked like we'd be just ahead of the storms if we left right before lunch, so that's what we did.
We drove straight from Sarasota to Ft. Lauderdale with a few stops to make sure the tornado warnings being issued were no where near us (I've got to memorize more Florida county names and locations :-)

I had booked a night at the Fairfield Inn near the Tampa Airport.  Reviews were good online and the place was sup-ah cheap.  I don't think we've paid under $100 for a hotel room in ages.  This place was great!  It was uber busy, but clean and safe.  A great place for a mom and two kids to rest for the night.

We swam in the pool for a bit, but the storms finally forced us out and we headed out to see a movie.  We saw Epic, and it was great!  I'd had other things in mind for activities, but I didn't want to be stuck somewhere random with a tornado warning, so we stuck close to the hotel.

The next morning dawned bright and beautiful!  Big Daddy texted to say their flight from Haiti was on time and we got ready to pick him up from the airport.

When they arrived we found out that Grandpa would have enough time between flights (he was headed right back to Chicago) to have lunch with us.  Bonus!  We found this Greek place via Yelp.  It was really good!

I was soooooo glad to have Big Daddy back home!

We weren't sure what to do.  We had 2.5 days and a lot of options.  Head straight home?  Go home a new route?  Go to Disney......... wait...... did someone say Disney????........

We decided on Disney.  It was the last Star Wars Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios and JR wanted to check it out.  Since this will be our last year of AP's for a long, long, long (maybe last ever??) time, we said okay.

We gave 407-WDW a call and they had a great AP rate at Coronado Springs.  We'd never stayed at Coronado Springs before, but we like new things!

We arrived late afternoon and after checking in, checking out our room, and dinner, we decided that some pool time was first priority.  Coronado Springs boats one of the best pools on property in our opinion.  We love the pool area at the Beach Club, but this would run a close second.  Our kids loved the water slide.

We found out that the MK would be open until 1 am instead of the printed 11 pm and we decided to risk the weather and go check it out.

We arrived to DROVES of people exiting the park.  (Every printed material that day said the MK closed at 11, they had only decided to keep the park open until 1am at around noon that day.)

It was great!  Not every attraction was open (several character spots were closed) but rides were practically walk on!

We rode Dumbo, Barnstormer, Winnie the Pooh, Big Thunder Mountain, Little Mermaid and more before deciding we were too exhausted to go any farther and exiting the park around 12:15.

The next morning, Saturday - my alarm went off at 6:30 am I *knew* there was no way we'd be at park opening at Hollywood Studios.  :-)  The beds at Coronado Springs were amazing - so comfortable!  And after all the years of sleeping in full size beds at Disney's Value resorts, sleeping in a queen size bed felt so luxurious!  Ha!  So we slept in, big time, and when we were finally awake we called about extending our stay another night.
(At the bus stop on our way to DHS!)
When we called the front desk they said there was no way we'd be able to get another night at Coronado Springs at the same great AP rate.  We were bummed, but we called up 407-WDW-INFO again and found out that we *could* book a business class room at Coronado Springs for a little more.  (More info about that later......... for now we were off to DHS!)

We knew we wouldn't be able to grab any Star Wars autograph fastpasses.  People line up for those starting around midnight!  Eek!  But we hoped to meet a few Star Wars characters and ride a few rides.
It was HOT that day.  Super hot!  After grabbing Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, and evaluating the lines, we decided to get in line for Princess Leia at the Darth Maul "Mall"  (read: air conditioned heaven!)  The boys rode Rockin Roller coaster in the single riders line and joined us a few minutes later.

It was a long line - about 45 minutes - but we met the nicest family while waiting in line so the time passed quickly.
The characters were rotating at this location.  Princess Leia, Luke and the robots (R2D2 and C3PO?) You don't know who you're going to get until you get to the front of the line.  When we were close it became clear that we'd be meeting Princess Leia, so JR decided he'd rather assemble some legos than meet another Princess:

This whole wall was made of Legos!  So impressive!

I just love this!

Finally, we were back out in the heat:

The boys were off to ride Star Tours, and the we were off to see one of our favorites:  Beauty and the Beast:
Silly girl:

Love, love, love this show.  Totally Broadway quality and all included with your admission to the park!

The Beauty and the Beast pavilion is also a great place to head if it looks like it might rain.  A huge covered space, it's a great way to kill time until the Florida thunderstorms pass.
This time, the storms weren't letting up, so we put on our ponchos and headed to the Art of Animation building to meet a few more characters:

The boys were still going strong, riding rides and not caring about the rain, but ML was done.  So we headed back to Coronado Springs.  Now, about that business class room.
It cost about $40 more per night, but boy was it worth it!  We arrived at the concierge lounge to appetizers and happy hour.  There were board games and televisions to entertain your family and a super attentive staff.
It was so relaxing.  When we arrived there were three ladies enjoying a glass of wine, a multi generational family playing rummy, and another family having a snack before heading out.  ML and I had a snack and watched some Monsters Inc.
Big Daddy and JR finally arrived back from the parks and played some chess:

A rainy day at Disney is better than a sunny day at home?

The rain finally let up and we headed out to grab some dinner at Epcot and see Illuminations:

The next day dawned bright and early.
I headed down to the concierge lounge to grab some coffee and breakfast.  Here's where the concierge lounge really 'pays' for itself.  As a family of 4, we pay an average of $8 per person for breakfast at WDW.  Once we all had breakfast at the concierge lounge (included in our room rate) we really broke even.  Factor in the glass of wine and appetizers the night before - not to mention the awesome memories of hanging out together in the lounge (as opposed to being stuck in our room) the night before and it was more than worth it!

All packed up!

Bye Bye Florida!  It was great as always!

9.5 hours later, we were back in familiar territory.

We love to travel, and are so thankful for all the wonderful memories from this trip, but it is always so nice to be home sweet home!