To learn more about the wish-granting aspect of my family’s Orlando trip, read my previous article, “How Dream Factory and Give Kids the World Village Made My Child’s Walt Disney World Wish Come True” (here).
Maria’s Travel Notes: November 13-19, 2010
Saturday, November 13th: Arrived in Orlando around 2:30 p.m. A nice volunteer from Give Kids the World Village met us at the airport and escorted us to baggage claim and the rental car place. It was 40 when we left Kansas City that morning, and 75 in Orlando!
We checked in at Give Kids the World Village. The kids were both given gifts immediately–a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal for Audrey and a dolphin stuffed animal from SeaWorld for Zachary–and we settled into our lovely villa and ordered food to be delivered. We could easily walk to the main village, where the train station/mini golf course, theater, ice cream palace, Castle of Miracles, Gingerbread House (buffet restaurant) and Katie’s Kitchen were. There were also two pools-one was more of a water park-but it was a bit too chilly to swim. We golfed at Dino Putt (fun!), played arcade games, ate ice cream, checked out the castle, rode the train twice, rode the carousel twice, and never stopped smiling. Dan (my husband) and the kids went to Mayor Clayton’s Surprise Birthday Party that night as I attended Orientation, where I received our package of theme park passes and lots of other cool perks. (Mayor Clayton is an adorable bunny.)
Sunday, November 14th: We drove to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and stayed there all day, until the end of the Wishes fireworks show (best fireworks show ever!). Our favorite attractions were Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (roller coaster), Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jungle Cruise.
Zach and Audrey wanted to do rides, rides, rides, rides, so we didn’t watch many shows. Audrey was tall enough to do all the rides at Magic Kingdom. As long as you’re over 44 inches, you can do just about everything in Walt Disney World.
Monday, November 15th: In the morning, we met Disney characters at Give Kids the World Village-Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, and Mary Poppins. We ate breakfast at the Gingerbread House, as we did every morning during our stay.
Then we went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We all loved Expedition Everest (another roller coaster) so much, we rode it three times. The Bug’s Life “It’s Tough to Be a Bug!” show was fun. We saw the Festival of the Lion King show-awesome! We took the Kilimanjaro Safaris tour, seeing lots of African animals (real animals, not animatronics). The kids loved the DINOSAUR ride; we did that one twice. We did the Kali River Rapids ride and let the kids go without ponchos–big mistake! They got completely soaked, and Audrey cried all the way to the tram. We swore off water rides after that.
Then we drove over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, rented a stroller, which cheered Audrey up, and did The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Audrey loved it. She’s fearless. Had some yummy ice cream and cookies. Zach and Dan did the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Audrey was too short to ride that one because it goes upside-down), then Zach and I did the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The initial blast-off part of that ride was fun, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the rest of it, no offense to Aerosmith. It was the corkscrews, not the music, that gave me a headache.
Zach and Dan loved Toy Story Mania!, a shooting-gallery ride. Dan the Sharpshooter’s score was higher than all the rest of our scores combined. We were disappointed to discover that the Star Wars exhibit was closed. But The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Christmas lights display) was unbelievable!
Tuesday, November 16th: We took pictures with Aang, the main character in the “Avatar” cartoon, at Give Kids the World Village, then went to SeaWorld. The kids enjoyed feeding the dolphins (we got to feed them for free-one of our many Give Kids the World perks) and petting the stingrays. We saw the Shamu Believe show. There is a baby killer whale there right now, so we were lucky to see that. All in all, though, SeaWorld was a letdown after our two days in Walt Disney World. We were ready to leave after less than three hours.
We ate a late lunch, stopped at Walmart to buy some cheap flip-flops, and drove out to Cocoa Beach, which is about an hour away from Orlando. The sun was close to setting by the time we found public beach access. This was the kids’ first time seeing the ocean, and they weren’t disappointed.
Zach fell in the water and got soaked. Audrey and I almost lost our flip-flops when the wet sand sucked them off our feet. The kids used a bucket and shovel that Zach got with a kids’ meal at Disney World to make sandcastles, and I collected seashells. I couldn’t believe that there were guys surfing in that cold water. We found a nice seafood restaurant on the end of a pier and had dinner. We saw a Ron Jon Surf Shop in town, but didn’t stop in.
In hindsight, I wish we’d spent even less time at SeaWorld and more time at Cocoa Beach.
Wednesday, November 17th: The day started off with horseback riding for the kids at “Keaton’s Korral” in Give Kids the World. Then we grabbed some muffins and headed to Epcot for our Breakfast with the Disney Princesses in the Norway Pavilion. Audrey got to lead the princess procession at our breakfast. We met Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Ariel there. She also met Alice in Wonderland in the United Kingdom Pavilion. Fortunately, she got to meet Belle from Beauty and the Beast-her favorite Disney princess-at Give Kids the World Village the next morning.
This was our last day in Walt Disney World (we had a three-day Park Hopper pass). We sped through Epcot. We walked through all the Pavilions from around the world, then did the Test Track, which Zach loved. Then we took the monorail back to Magic Kingdom to do the kids’ favorite rides over again–Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, plus a few rides we’d missed the first time. The kids both enjoyed driving/riding in the race cars at the Tomorrowland Speedway.
We had to leave Disney World fairly early because we had dinner reservations at Medieval Times in Kissimmee that night. Dan enjoyed looking at all the swords and suits of armor. We cheered for the Green Knight, the good-looking bad guy who’d kidnapped the prince. Audrey was pretty bored. Zach and Dan liked the jousting and swordfighting. I enjoyed booing at all the non-green knights. The food was pretty good.
Thursday, November 18th: We slept in, ate, then went to the Universal Studios Orlando Resort. In Universal Studios , we met SpongeBob, The Simpsons family, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, and saw the Mystery Machine. We did Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast “ride” and The Simpsons Ride “ride” (our seats moved up and down and shook, but all of the action was on a big screen-those aren’t real “rides,” if you ask me). We all love The Simpsons television show , so we had fun visiting the Kwik-E-Mart and seeing real-life Squishies and Lard Lad donuts for sale. We watched the Terminator 2: 3-D show (lame!). Zach, Dan, and I all enjoyed the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster (Audrey was too short to ride). Then we did the JAWS boat ride.
The kids were really tired and cranky that day, but they perked up in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the other Universal theme park. We saw a show called Poseidon’s Fury. Then we went to the Dr. Seuss-themed kids’ area called Seuss Landing and rode the Caro-Seuss-el (carousel with colorful Dr. Seuss creatures) and did The Cat in the Hat ride. The kids took pictures with The Grinch (Audrey was thrilled!) and The Cat in the Hat.
Then we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. AMAZING! We were in Hogsmeade! We saw Zonko’s, Honeyduke’s (candy store), Ollivander’s (magic wand store), an owl store, the Three Broomsticks (restaurant), the Hog’s Head (bar), and Dervish and Banges. We rode the three roller coasters: two racing dragon coasters called Dragon Challenge (Audrey was too short for those) and a family roller coaster called Flight of the Hippogriff, which Audrey loved. She rode it at least ten times.
We bought Butterbeer-yum! It’s like caramel soda. We also tried pumpkin juice. The most incredible part, of course, was Hogwarts Castle. Audrey was too short to do the ride inside Hogwarts, called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but anyone can walk through the castle, so we all did that. And Zach, Dan, and I did the ride. “Ride,” I should say. It did move more than the other “rides,” but it wasn’t a roller coaster–most of it was looking at scenes on a big screen while sitting in a chair that moved back and forth, up and down. What I really loved, though, was just walking through the parts of the castle leading up to the ride entrance. We saw Dumbledore’s study, a bunch of moving and talking paintings, the Sorting Hat, Quidditch trophies, stuff like that. We also saw Ron, Harry, and Hermione on a balcony. They were projected in a way that made them look almost three-dimensional.
Some of the Harry Potter stores were so packed, you had to wait in line just to go inside. Lots of tourists were dressed in robes. There were a few shows going on with wizard-student street performers. That area was the most busy part of Universal Studios, by far.
Thursday night was Winter Wonderland at Give Kids the World Village. We had pictures taken with Santa. Audrey picked out a Christmas gift (Operation board game), danced in the snow, and met some more costumed friends. Then we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the village.
Friday, November 19th: We checked out and got our awesome farewell package from Give Kids the World. Our flight wasn’t until evening, so we had time to go back to Universal’s Islands of Adventure and visit Jurassic Park. We rode the Pteranodon Flyers and almost lost the kids in the Camp Jurassic play area. We also walked through Marvel Super Hero Island, where Dan and Zach rode The Incredible Hulk Coaster. Then we revisited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and ate lunch in Three Broomsticks-fish and chips and Butterbeer. (They serve frozen and regular Butterbeer, and we tried both. Zach preferred the frozen; the rest of us liked the regular kind better.)
We left around 2:30 to go to the airport…and then we came home. And we’ve been talking about our unforgettable Orlando trip ever since!
Check out more pictures from our “wish” week in Orlando here:
” 2010 Christmas Decorations in Walt Disney World Pictures” (here)
“Character Pictures from Disney World, Universal Studios and Give Kids the World Village” (here)
This article is excerpted from my CarePages blogs, 11/21/10: http://www.carepages.com/carepages/roth377
How Dream Factory and Give Kids the World Village Made My Child’s Walt Disney World Wish Come True