We're back! And we had a great time!
Hubby was there for the Agile 2010 conference, not that it matters for my part of the story, but the conference went well for him.
First of all, turns out we were at the Disney Dolphin, not the Swan. While we're talking about this let me state that The Dolphin is not really a dolphin. It has spikes and scales and is rather un-dolphin like. Hubby thought it's more like a sturgeon.
I was told it is a Dolphin Fish, as opposed to a Dolphin. Though a Dolphin Fish has a big fin up its back... Okay it doesn't look like either a dolphin or a sturgeon but when you say Dolphin, you don't think of that freaky big headed thing, you think of Flipper. A mammal. Smooth, squeaky clean, jumping ahead of the spray from a ship.
I think the Disney Swan and Sturgeon kind of has a nice ring to it, and certainly fits their motif better. Anyway, the Swan and Sturgeon (aka Dolphin) hotels are practically twin hotels separated by a lake and a walkway. They sort of share 5 swimming pools. The difference is at the Dolphin we were closer to the interesting pools. The pool next to the Swan is a big square pool - the one I put in my last post. The Dolphin had one of those, then a large 3 foot deep kid pool, then a volleyball pool, the waterfall pool (also pictured in my previous post) with a slide going into it, and another little pool on the other side. They're all connected by sidewalks, but the elevators right outside our room dropped us down to right by the kid pool and waterfall pool we were interested in, and it all worked beautifully.
Hubby got us a room upgrade, so we had a great big room. Sort of. The hotel room layout left us scratching our heads - so much space that could have been utilized so much more effectively. There was a big wide hallway down the side of the room... just a weird layout but it was bigger than the usual hotel room. The 2nd bed was a small uncomfortable fold-out couch which the two girls shared the first night. Since Thing 2 is a kicker and sleeps really hot and Thing 1 is always freezing, (and there was a perfect nook for it in that big room) we got a roll away bed in the corner the next night. The girls were enchanted with that and they swapped who got to sleep on the roll-away for the rest of our stay.
Hubby knows so many more people at these conferences than he knows in our home town so this was a real social event for him. Standing in line to check in or go to a restaurant or get on the bus and he has people saying hello and talking shop. I'd send him for a yogurt and not seem him for an hour. There's lots of networking with other computer conference buddies. He did blow off quite a bit of the conference to be with us, though.
A guy named David who Hubby works with sometimes has a 7 1/2 year old we'll call Thing A. David was coming to the conference and his wife is out of the country so he contacted us a couple weeks before to see if I would watch his munchkin at the conference while he was busy doing conference stuff. So my girls had someone to play with.
All six of us spent the day on Sunday at Magic Kingdom. My girls are old hands at Disney and were very excited to just fast pass Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain, which in DisneyWorld are very conveniently located right next to each other. Thing A and her dad have never really been to a Disney park before, and she wasn't sure about some of the rides. So we split up by families and Hubby and I took our little Disney veterans on everything we could fast pass. It was all in all a good day at the Magic Kingdom.
The other big Disney day was Tuesday. In evaluating our past DisneyWorld experience we had seen that there were just a few things at the three other parks besides Magic Kingdom that really held the girls' interest. So we figured maybe we could get a park hopper and do all three of the other parks in one day. Thing A came with us while her daddy stayed at the conference. We hit the Animal Adventure to do the Safari Ride, which last time we were there was amazing, this time there weren't too many animals around.
Thing 2 had been looking forward to having her face painted.
Thing A and Thing 2 with their face paint.
We saw quite a few animals, the most memorable was this mother and baby gorilla.
We were at Animal Adventure park for 3-4 hours, then hopped a bus to the Hollywood Studios park. The only thing there for the girls, really, was the Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground and a Toy Story ride. The girls all thought the playground was great, and we let them run around there for an hour. I stayed at the playground while Hubby walked over to fast pass the Toy Story ride, and found that they weren't Fast Passing, and the line wait was an hour and a half the first time he checked, and between an hour and two hours the subsequent times he checked. No Thanks. We gathered up the kids and took them to Epcot.
The Honey I Shrunk The Kids Playground
I hadn't given Epcot enough credit. We could have spent a lot more time there. Last time it seemed that Epcot was just about food and shopping from different countries, and we spent the whole time looking for the two or three rides that are there. But this time we went through Spaceship Earth, and didn't have time for all the other things to see in the front circle, before you even get back to the countries. As expected, we ran out of time. The girls wanted to shop in Japan for Pokemon stuff, and we promised them dinner in Mexico. We hit it all kind of quick, and didn't even get over to the Aquarium part, which we've seen before and is very neat. We ended up meeting David back at the hotel at 10:30 at night or so. 3 parks with 3 little girls in 12 hours. As we rode the bus back to the hotel Thing 2 told me, "Today's been a LARGE day."
At Epcot they give the kids a paper mask on a stick that they can color. At every country there is someone from that country at a desk who will stamp the kids' masks and put a hang tag on it representing their country. The kids think this is really cool.
The girls liked Japan.
The other days we mostly spent at the pool, or letting the girls play at the hotel room. They like to get me out of their hair when they're doing their pretend play, but with me there in the room with them they were a little inhibited.
I took the girls to a restaurant that had the kids menus on viewmasters. What a clever idea!
The last night we were there David and Thing A were going to a restaurant over in the Swan where they have Disney characters come around to the tables to say hello. We joined them and saw Pluto and Goofy. The girls were tickled pink.
We were scheduled to come home Saturday evening, tonight. However, on Thursday night as we were assessing what to do with our last day we looked at reviews for Universal Studios and saw that apparently the whole world is visiting Universal Studios to see Harry Potterville. There were reports of 2 hour lines for rides, and huge lines just to get into the shops. Since we hate lines so bad, and based on our experience with Disney's Hollywood Studios that there are more shows there than rides, we decided we'll wait until the kids are a little older to do that. We could have done a Cirque du Soleil show at Downtown Disney on Friday night. David and Thing A saw one and said it was wonderful. Then Hubby told me he was leaving home on a 6:00 a.m. flight Sunday morning, and had a boatload of stuff to do to get ready for that. So instead of getting home at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and having him pull another all-nighter on Saturday, we decided to end our fun a day early. After Hubby went to the closing keynote speech on Friday morning he called Delta and found they could get us on a plane that evening.
The girls were very disappointed to hear they wouldn't have another day at the hotel pool, but we placated them with a couple hours at the pool with Daddy while I stayed in the room and packed us up. We were out by 2:00 p.m., which meant we didn't have to pay for the hotel that night, and we caught our plane to make it back last night.
Did I mention the rainstorms every afternoon while we were in Orlando? Anything from a good sprinkle to a real gullywasher would hit at least once each day, if not two or three times a day while we were there. As we were boarding the plane they said there was a micro storm burst coming in and if we didn't get out ahead of it we'd be stuck there for a while. Apparently we made it out just in time, and landed early back home. We quickly got in and unloaded the car, fed the last two living crickets to the gecko (who did just fine and is still fat tailed and happy), and got the kids in their pajamas. As we were brushing the girls' teeth the doorbell rang and who should be standing on our doorstep but my sister, with Kelso and her dogs. She and her darling husband drove the hour and 45 minutes down to drop off the dog, then they hugged everyone and turned around to drive an hour and 45 minutes back to their house. That's a three and a half hour drive for them, just because they're sweet, completely saving us a trip to go get him. Above and beyond!
Hubby started printing last night and has had the printer going most of the morning today. I doubt if he would have gotten much sleep at all if we hadn't have come home a day early. I'm sad to have missed a day of playing, but all in all this was better. The girls are upstairs happily pretending in their room, the dog is asleep at my feet, I can blog and run some laundry, and the gecko will have dinner today. Hubby can help me move the old TV out of the new Toy Room in preparation for the friends from out of town who will get here at the end of the week, in addition to getting ready for his next trip. It's good to be home.