To celebrate being done with treatment, but more to cross “Take Ryan to Disney World” off my bucket list, we went to Orlando over Halloween! The trip started off with Ryan’s first plane ride, which I’m proud to say he did incredibly well during. The first couple days of the trip we went to New Symerna Beach, about an hour outside of Orlando. I booked a room at the Best Western based on reviews and we were super impressed, I didn’t know they made Best Westerns like that! Separate bedroom and living room/kitchen areas, with shutters in between so Ryan could watch TV and go to sleep in there while we stayed up in the other part, all while being able to peek in on each other. Brilliant! We were looking forward to some fun on the beach, but it turns out there was little beach and a bunch of waves. Super Storm Sandy was headed up the coast when we were there, so the waves were huge, coming all the way up to the wall of the hotel. Not that I’m complaining, I feel bad for those who really had to deal with the brunt of that storm. We agreed we’d love to go back to this specific hotel, maybe when it’s not hurricane season and a little warmer.
On Monday the 29th we headed into Orlando to go to Universal Studios. I don’t officially have “Go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” on my bucket list, but it was something that I HAD to do if we were going to be within a 50 mile radius of the place! Ryan loved the Dr. Seuss part of the park, I love this picture with him and The Cat in the Hat. Look at how happy he is, his little hands clinched up with excitement :)
Ryan rode his first roller coaster, The Flight of the Hippogriff and he “did not like that at all. Please do not make me do that again”. Which was pretty much his mantra for the entire trip concerning rides. My goal was to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which ended up being my single favorite thing the entire trip. John and I were both able to ride it separately in a span of about 25 minutes thanks to the single rider line. What a wonderful thing! Oh, and the Butterbeer! I waited in line longer for that than I did for the rides. I wanted to browse the shops a little more, but I think 75% of the people in the park were in Ollivanders. I did end up getting a wand from a different place… I mean Ryan got a wand :) Another highlight of the day was meeting Shrek & Fiona and the parade with a bunch of Despicable Me Minions running around. I could have spent several days in Universal, John & I both agree it’s more fun for adults and has better rides than Disney.
So I’d been trying to keep the whole Disney part of the trip secret, like I said in my last blog post. So I told him we’d find a place to stay in Orlando that night instead of going back to the beach because it was late. In all actuality we were meeting up with John’s brother Jim, Amy, Amy’s Grandma Ann, Audrey, Will & Cashel at Shades of Green, the military resort in Disney World. Turns out we had an adjoining room so we had Ryan knock on the door to be greeted by his cousins! He humored me by saying it was a surprise, but just the other night he told me he heard us talking to them on the computer one night (Skyping about the planning while he was supposed to be sleeping).
We had 4 days in Disney World, the first day (Tuesday the 29th) we went to Hollywood Studios. I think the highlight of that park for us was the Disney Junior live on stage show. It was just puppets, but it was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins… all shows Ryan loves. That was the first excited pic I captured:
The next day was Halloween! They do “Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party”… for an extra $70/ person so we opted not to do that. We did do something special that day, I had made reservations before we left for Chef Mickey!! Mickey is hard to catch just strolling through any of the parks and during this lunch, he comes to your table! Along with Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald. I think this was the highlight of my time at Disney.
Earlier that morning we had gone to Magic Kingdom as soon as it opened. John & I each took turns riding Space Mountain (single rider), we did the Buzz Lightyear ride, Monsters Inc laugh floor, the Teacups, Dumbo, the race track thing and It’s a Small World all before lunch! So then after Chef Mickey we went back to the room and took a well-deserved nap. That night Epcot was open until midnight so we went there for the rest of the evening. Our favorite thing hands down was the Finding Nemo ride and the aquarium you go through afterwards. Epcot does a fireworks show over the big lake in the middle, which I think Ryan enjoyed. I call the first picture “Like Father Like Son.”
The next day it was back to the Magic Kingdom to see the rest of the park. We all rode Splash Mountain, which Ryan again replied “I don’t ever want to do that again!” That day we met Woody and Jesse, another highlight. Ryan’s favorite thing of the whole trip were the parades (there was a daytime one in Hollywood Studios, one at Universal too). We watched the fireworks behind the castle then reserved about 9 spots on the curb (we were with Jim, Amy, Kids and G-ma Ann) to catch the parade.
Our last day we went to Animal Kingdom in the morning. Some of the highlights from this park include the Kilimanjaro Safari, a Finding Nemo Musical, Everest (roller coaster) and my favorite ride (interaction, show?) at Disney: It’s a Bug’s Life – It’s Tough Being a Bug. It’s a 4D movie, I don’t want to give too much away in case anyone is planning a trip, but it was my favorite!
I think one of the things we loved best about Disney is the pin trading! You get a lanyard and buy pins, then you can ask any Cast Member (Disney employee) to trade with you. The last half of our last day we headed back to Epcot with the mission of trading all the cheap pins we’d bought for cool ones :) The best one we landed was a Halloween pin from 2008, the year Ryan was born.
That night we went to Giordano’s, the best Chicago-style pizza place in Chicago (yes I do like it better than Gino’s) has two locations in Orlando. The whole crew went and it was a great way to end the trip.
The trip was a lot of fun, although exhausting! Kind of like writing this blog post ;)