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Thread: Tiffany Azzara, Port Orleans Riverside, July 12-17, 2016

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    Tiffany Azzara, Port Orleans Riverside, July 12-17, 2016

    Tiffany Azzara - July 2016 - Port Orleans Riverside

    Travel dates: July 12-17, 2016
    Travel method: Personal vehicles, Southwest/Magical Express
    Resort: Port Orleans Riverside
    Accommodations: Garden-view connecting rooms
    Ages represented in group: Toddler, preschooler, 30s, early 60s
    Disney Resort experience represented in group: Frequent, occasional
    Cast of characters: Tiffany; Nick, my husband; Andrew, our 5-year-old; Matthew, our 2-year-old; Mom/the boys Grammy; Dad/the boys PawPaw; Brenton, my brother who the boys call Uncle Bee; Brittney, my cousin and Andrews godmother, who the boys call Nanny Britt


    In late June, Nick and I were talking about taking our sons to the World over Andrews spring break in March 2017 when I texted my mom to see if she and my dad wanted to join us. She immediately responded Can you call me? So I did, and she invited us on a big family trip for mid-July! My dad had recently retired and my brother, Brenton, was starting law school in the fall, so the summer was really our only opportunity to all go together for a while. My cousin Brittney, who is Andrews godmother, is a teacher, and she joined us, too.

    Thats how on June 22, I found myself on the phone with the Walt Disney Travel Company, booking two rooms at Port Orleans Riverside for July 12-17 -- only a few weeks away! I was able to use the Florida Resident discount on both rooms, and I bought the Florida Resident four-day tickets with park hoppers for my family, converting our room reservation to a package. I then went online and bought four-day hoppers through AAA (at a slight discount) for my parents, Brenton and Brittney.

    The next few weeks were spent texting and calling one another with plans, getting everyone set up on MyDisneyExperience, making a couple of ADRs and some FastPass+ reservations, and making lists (what to pack, what to eat, what souvenirs to buy ... I like to have a list for everything). Before we knew it, it was go time!

    Tuesday, July 12:

    Andrew and Matthew went to daycare for the morning, while I spent the first few hours of the day finishing the packing, cleaning up around the house and doing last-minute laundry, and loading the car. After forcing myself to eat some lunch (I was so excited!), I picked up the kids at 12:30. Since it was Matthews usual naptime, my hope was that he would sleep in the car (and that Andrew would rest, too), but of course that didnt happen.

    The kids were excited but stayed fairly calm for the 90-minute drive to Disney property. Our family from Louisiana had flown into MCO and taken Magical Express, and wed timed it so that wed arrive about the same time. There was lots of road construction around Disney Springs, so I missed the turn for Port Orleans Riverside and ended up driving through a Disney Springs parking garage before I could backtrack. We finally made it to our resort and went into the lobby, where my parents, Brenton and Brittney had just checked in. (Id done online check-in a week or so earlier.) What timing! We had a nice reunion and spent some time catching up. Tiana was in the lobby greeting guests, but the kids only wanted to watch her from afar.

    I drove my car over to our building, Lodge 38 in Alligator Bayou, while the rest of the family walked over. We had connecting rooms but were on the second floor (even though Id requested the first floor via online check-in as well as Touring Plans room request feature), so after making a few trips between my car and the room for luggage, food and drinks from home, strollers, etc., we were super sweaty. We took some time to cool off in the room, then my parents and Brittney went to the food court for a late lunch while I unpacked and got me and the boys settled into our home for the next five nights.

    When they got back, my mom, Brittney and I got ready to take the boys to the pool. Our first stop was the Muddy Rivers pool bar (it isnt a Disney vacation until I have a Pina CoLAVA), where I couldnt remember the PIN to my MagicBand and got locked out. Thankfully my mom bought my drink for me!

    Mom, Britt and I took turns playing in the pool with the boys and going back to our lounge chair to take a sip from our drinks (since you cant have them in the pool) for an hour or two -- we even spent some time in the hot tub, with Andrew dipping his feet in -- before calling it a day. After quickly changing into dry clothes, we went over to the main building, where I quickly reset my PIN before we went to dinner at Riverside Mill. My mom and Brittney sat with the boys while I stood in line to get food. I dont know if the setup is the same at all of the moderates food courts, but at each station at Riverside theres a CM who writes down your order and passes it to the next CM, who prepares the food -- which in some cases just involves scooping some chicken nuggets onto a plate and throwing on a bag of grapes or scooping up some fries. It seems simple enough, but it took forever! We only ate at the food court a few times, but every visit was the same.

    The kids were starving by the time I sat down with our food: chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, grapes and apple slices for them, and a grilled chicken sandwich for me. There was thunder and lightning outside, so we ate quickly and walked hurriedly back to our rooms, making it inside just before the sky let loose. We took showers and hung out talking about FastPass+ reservations for the next day before calling it a night. I put the boys to bed around 8:30 (Andrew took the Louis bed with the artwork of the alligator from The Princess and the Frog, and Matthew slept in his Pack N Play), then hung out in the other room until it was my bedtime.

    Things I Think I Think (I love that Steve Russo does this and am borrowing it for my report): I think extended-family vacations to Disney World are the way to go, especially when you dont get to see said family very often. I think making our PIN something easy for my husband to remember made it more difficult for me to remember. I think my kids would eat chicken nuggets for every meal if we let them.

    Wednesday, July 13:

    Today was our Animal Kingdom day, and since it was the first day of our vacation, we were all up and ready early, eager to get to the parks. We ate breakfast in our rooms (cereal and milk, granola bars and yogurt, Pop-Tarts and mini muffins, all from home) and were at the bus stop shortly after 8 a.m. The monitor at the bus stop said our bus would arrive in 20 minutes, but it was there in less than 10. We made a few more stops around the resort, then were on our way.

    (As a side note, typically Nick, the kids and I drive to all parks except Magic Kingdom, but since not everyone could fit in my car, we relied on the Disney buses this trip. The buses were reliable and it was nice not having to drive for a few days, but I feel like we get around Disney property much more quickly by driving.)

    Once we arrived at the park, everyone except my dad and brother went through bag check, and we all met up after the turnstiles. We walked through Discovery Island, stopping to look at a few ducks and other birds along the way. My parents hung out with the kids around the Tree of Life while Brittney, Brenton and I went to ride Expedition Everest. It was a walk-on, and we all enjoyed it. It had been way too long since Id ridden it so it felt new to me, which made it even more fun.

    I left Bee and Britt to take another trip on Everest and then hit Dinosaur, while I went to find my sons and parents. Once I found them, we made our way to the Festival of the Lion King theater. As we approached, a CM walked up to us and asked How many? I told her five, and she brought us into the theater and right to the first row! How cool! Id never seen the show before and was pleasantly surprised by how intimate the theater is. I love how youre right on the same level as the performers; they arent on an elevated stage.

    The boys were timid before the show started, and once the music began and it got really loud, they were completely over it. I was holding Matthew, who had his back to the stage and his head burrowed into my chest. I got to see the introduction of the lead characters (I guess thats who they are, anyway -- I didnt get to see the show itself) and watch them select my dad to lead our section in making a warthog sound, but then Matthew started wailing and I had to take him outside. Not five minutes after we exited, my mom followed with Andrew. He was scared, too. Sigh. We found a bench and ate some snacks (and drank water! It was Animal Kingdom hot for sure) while my dad watched the rest of the show. He described it as colorful, which I think means he really liked it (he is a man of few words).

    We texted my brother and cousin to meet us at Kilimanjaro Safaris. On the way, I stopped to buy the boys a misting fan. They started fighting over it, so my dad bought a second one on the sly. (He loves to spoil his grandkids when he can!) While waiting for the rest of our party near the safari, my mom bought some fruit and gave most of it to the boys, and we again rehydrated. Once we were all together again, we used our FastPasses for the safari. It was a really good one! Our driver was just so-so (he was going through the motions), but we saw lots of animals, many of them active, and it felt like a long experience.

    Next we headed to the front of the park for lunch at Rainforest Cafe. This was my brothers choice, and even though Andrew had previously told me he was worried about the audio-animatronic animals and didnt want to eat there, I thought he could handle it. Boy, was I wrong. Wed barely entered the gift shop before he saw a (stuffed) snake hanging from a tree and started freaking out. I made him at least look into the dining room to see if hed be ok with it, but it was an adamant NO.

    So most of our family ate at Rainforest Cafe, while the two of us went to Flame Tree Barbecue -- which probably has better food anyway (its my favorite eatery in Animal Kingdom), but it certainly isnt air-conditioned like Rainforest Cafe is. I had the pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and coleslaw, and Diggy had a hot dog with apples and grapes. We easily found a table in one of the seating areas with a lovely view of Everest and enjoyed a leisurely lunch, just the two of us.

    After lunch we needed a reprieve from the humidity, so we wandered into Discovery Trading Co. to look for blind bags for Andrew. When he was younger, hed watch YouTube videos of people opening surprise eggs and blind bags with little toys or trinkets in them, and on one of our trips we discovered that Disney sells its own blind bags with figures of different characters and attractions in them. For this trip, we limited him to one bag a day so he always had one to look forward to.

    We took our time checking out the merchandise, and he chose a Star Wars blind bag (there are different collections for villains, the holidays, parks attractions and other themes) and paid for it using a gift card Id loaded for him. The rest of our family had finished lunch, so they met us outside the shop and we all went into DinoLand USA together. The boys made a beeline for The Boneyard, and my parents sat nearby to watch them while Brittney, Brenton and I went on Primeval Whirl. Right as we were getting into line, the wait time jumped from 10 minutes to 35, but we decided to stick it out and had some good conversations while waiting. Id never ridden it before and thought it was fun for what it is -- a kitschy carnival ride. We didnt know what to expect and kept getting thrown around, so we giggled throughout.

    Mom and Dad had made the kids leave the playground because they were getting overheated, and Matthew was sitting in his stroller eating chicken nuggets when we found them (he hadnt wanted to eat them at the restaurant), while my mom and Andrew were on TriceraTop Spin. Once they got off, we all left the park together -- it was just too darn hot to do anything else.

    Back at the resort, we put the kids down for naps and some of us adults napped, too. I dont remember whether I slept, but I know I at least lay down for a while. Bee, Britt and I were hitting Magic Kingdom that night for Extra Magic Hours, and I was tired from not sleeping well the night before. (I was too excited for our first day in the parks!)

    We spent the late afternoon/evening just visiting, and before leaving for the Magic Kingdom I bathed the boys and ordered them a pepperoni pizza from the resort delivery service. I grabbed a slice before leaving, and it was pretty good -- and not too pricey, except for the delivery fee and automatic 18% gratuity.

    Brittney, Brenton and I left for the Magic Kingdom between 7 and 7:30. The lights on the train station and the buildings along Main Street were on when we arrived, reminding me how much I love this park at night. People were lined up for the first Electrical Parade of the night, but we werent interested in that -- we were there for thrill rides! We went first to Haunted Mansion, which wed made a FastPass reservation for during our afternoon break. That ride remains one of my favorites; I catch new details every time.

    We then ate dinner at Pecos Bills. Id heard a lot about the new menu and love burritos and fajitas but ordered the fajita platter really not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised! The beef was flavored really well and it wasnt at all fatty, and the toppings bar had a lot of fresh options.

    Next up was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which was nearly a walk-on. My brother wanted to take a smoke break, so we hung out with him on the landing across from Tom Sawyer Island before trying to get back onto Big Thunder, but it was closed. We couldnt figure out whether it closes during Wishes, as we saw some of the fireworks as we made our way to Space Mountain. But that was open, and we opted to wait in a pretty long standby line -- I think it was 50 minutes. I was reminded how much I like this queue and its music, and when we got bored actually talking to one another we played the app Heads Up! And wouldnt you know it -- after we started playing, we saw people behind us pull it up on their phones, too. Were such trendsetters.

    After riding Space Mountain (such a nostalgic attraction for me), we booked it over to Big Thunder to see if it was operating. It opened right as we were getting there, so we practically walked on. Wed had enough after that, so even though the park was open for another hour or so, we called it a night and headed back to our resort around midnight.

    Things I Think I Think: I think Disney should stop posting estimated arrival times for its buses if they cant get it right. I think (and hope and pray!) my kids will grow out of their fears before our next trip. I think I need more thrill rides in my life.

    Thursday, July 14:

    We were all looking forward to taking the kids to the Magic Kingdom today. The first time Andrew went when he was 18 months old, he ran up to Cinderella Castle yelling Castle! Castle! and we were hoping for similar levels of enthusiasm. We didnt make it in time to see the welcome show, unfortunately, but at least by the time wed gotten there the rope-droppers had made their mad dashes and we were able to take a leisurely stroll up Main Street.

    Both kids were taken by the castle (though neither ran up to it exclaiming), and we stopped to take pictures of them as well as the whole family before walking through the castle into Fantasyland. Our first ride of the day was going to be Under the Sea, but Andrew started crying while we were still in the queue so I had to take him out of there. Matthew was upset, too, but my dad brought him onto the ride hoping hed calm down (he didnt; he cried the whole time, poor baby). Andrew and I waited near the strollers, and after the rest of the family met up with us, I made the decision for us to split up. Id take the boys while everyone else got to actually enjoy some attractions. They all headed for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the boys and I headed for Dumbo. Surely an outdoor ride would be tame enough for them right?!

    Andrew and Matthew were fine in the queue -- until we got to the indoor section. Matthew became clingy and I practically had to push Andrew into the building, but once he saw the play area he ran off. I sat in the middle of the room with Matthew on my lap, and after several minutes of clinging to me he climbed down to play with some other kids. (But every time the lights dimmed for the Dumbo show overhead, he came running back as fast as his little legs would carry him.)

    I let them play for quite some time, knowing they will grow out of this phase and figuring it could be much worse. After all, even if we didnt make it to any other attractions, I still got to eat and shop my way through the parks! I eventually tore them away from the play area, and we rode Dumbo, all three of us together. My mom met up with us afterward (after riding the Mine Train and its a small world as a group, she went on Winnie the Pooh while my dad, Brenton and Brittney headed to Splash Mountain), and we caught the train at the Fantasyland station.

    Id intended to ride it around the park for a leisurely open-air experience, but the funniest thing happened to us. Andrew had wanted to ride right behind the engine, so we were in the first row of the train in an otherwise empty car. But when we stopped at the Main Street station, a lady boarded the train and got RIGHT INTO OUR ROW with us. As if we had room! And as if the rest of the train wasnt open! The look on my moms face was priceless, especially since the woman kept trying to make conversation with her.

    We then got stopped before making it to the Frontierland station. Im not sure what the issue was, but it was sooo hot and the air was sooo stagnant that by this point I was Over It. Once we finally got to the Frontierland station and unloaded the kids, our strollers and bags, I decided to call it a day. I left one of the strollers and our cooler full of bottled water with my mom, and the kids and I headed back to the resort.

    It was now almost 2 oclock and we hadnt had lunch, just some snacks, so we got off at the bus stop nearest the main building and hit the food court. Luckily Nick had just made it to the resort (he had to work the previous two days), so he met us there and sat with the kids while I got food for everyone. The boys had their usual chicken nuggets and fruit, and I ordered the Cajun turkey sandwich which again took forever to make, but this time the food was worth it! Especially with the house-made chips.

    We went back to the room and got the boys down for their naps, and Nick and I lay down to rest, too. After a couple of hours, everyone was up and we cracked open the connecting door to see what the rest of the family was up to. They were lounging and snacking, and we all made plans to head back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and rides (or, in our case, play areas).

    Once we arrived, we for some reason headed to Tomorrowland Terrace for dinner. The boys ate some ( wait for it ) chicken nuggets, and Nick and I shared an order of buffalo chicken tenders, which were surprisingly good! The tenders were meaty and not too batter-y, and the buffalo sauce had a nice kick. It sprinkled a bit while we were eating dinner, but it stopped within a few minutes. Nick and I had a little tiff during dinner, so afterward he and Matthew headed toward Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, and Andrew and I went to the Dumbo playground. My dad headed back to the resort because he was chafed and it hurt to walk, and my mom, Brenton and Brittney went to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.

    After getting a couple scoops of mint chocolate chip (and getting it all over Mattys face) and taking some selfies in front of Cinderella Castle, Nick and Matthew met up with me and Andrew at Big Top Souvenirs, where it was our turn to get a treat. I chose a gigantic chocolate chip cookie in the shape of Mickeys head, Diggy got a cake pop and we got a couple bottles of water. We sat on a bench outside to eat our snacks, and a nice custodial CM stopped to talk with us -- mostly about the brutal humidity.

    My mom met up with us (Bee and Britt went off for more thrill rides) and Matty wanted to play, so we went back into Dumbo for a while. After wed all gotten our fill, we walked to Tomorrowland for a ride on the TTA/PeopleMover. Both kids freaked out as we rode through the dark sections, but the lights were on in Space Mountain so that was interesting to see.

    We then stopped to watch the Incredibles Dance Party. Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and Frozone were dancing on the floor with guests while a DJ was spinning tunes (is that what they do?) up on stage. He was playing some really great party music and we tried to get the kids to join in, but they werent having it because of the characters. Brittney and Brenton found us then; theyd tried to get on Space Mountain, but it was down. They left for Big Thunder, my mom went to Carousel of Progress, and Nick and I decided to head back to the resort with the kids. Another fun day was in the books.

    Things I Think I Think: I think the Dumbo playground isnt the worst place to be on a hot, humid July day. I think interesting people will always be inexplicably drawn to my mom. I think I will definitely embarrass my kids with my dancing in public one day or many days.

    Friday, July 15:

    Our Epcot day began not-so-bright and early, since wed been out late the night before. Once we were up and at em, we all headed out together and caught the bus, arriving at the park a little after 9. We went first to The Land, where the grownups had FastPasses for the new Soarin. My dad and I went first, while Nick, my mom, Brittney and Brenton sat with the boys in the Sunshine Seasons seating area.

    I must admit, Im not crazy about the new Soarin. Theres too much CGI and surprise transitions for my taste; it just doesnt feel as relaxing and natural as the original. But Disney still hasnt asked me what I thought, so

    While the other group went on Soarin, my dad and I took the kids to see the tanks in The Seas, walking in through the gift shop. We spent time watching the eels, seahorses, manatees, sea turtles and fish, then once Nick texted to let us know they were off Soarin, we met up with everyone else.

    We headed for Italy (alllll the way in the back of World Showcase) for an early lunch at Via Napoli. This is one of Nicks and my favorites, and I was excited to introduce my family to it. We had fried calamari to start, then most of us had pizza (the Carciofi with artichoke, white cheeses and truffle oil is my favorite), while my dad had lasagna and Nick had spaghetti and meatballs. We had white wine, red sangria and a pitcher of beer to drink. Once again, I thought the pizza was outstanding. My family didnt rave about it like Id hoped they would, but at least it was free for them (Nicks and my treat).

    It was extremely hot -- and the all-concrete look at Epcot wasnt helping matters -- so Nick took Matthew back to the resort after lunch for a nap in the air conditioning. My dad was ready to head out, too, so he, Andrew and I completed the World Showcase loop and headed into Future World, while my mom, Brittney and Brenton stopped for the Grey Goose lemon slush in France before meandering back to Frozen Ever After. The line was about an hour, and they thought the ride was really well-done.

    My dad went to catch the bus, while Diggy and I went into Mouse Gear for some much-needed A/C and souvenir shopping. We picked out some pencils for Andrews classmates, chocolate-covered Mickey head pretzels for Nicks and my coworkers and the boys daycare staff, and -- of course -- another blind bag. We headed back to our resort for a rest, then did some swimming once both boys were up.

    Everyone but Brenton went out to the pool, and Nick and I took turns visiting Muddy Rivers (Id forgotten Port Orleans serves Abita beers!). After a couple of hours, the two of us and Brittney headed back to our rooms to get ready for a kids night at Epcot, while my parents stayed in the pool with the boys.

    We started with Spaceship Earth (I cant remember whether wed made a FastPass+ reservation; if not, there was no standby line), followed by dinner at La Cantina in Mexico, where I had chicken tacos and Nick had pollo cascabel (Im not sure exactly what it was, but safe to say there was chicken involved). I dont remember what Brenton ate, but I know Brittney ate nachos because they were HUGE and really tasty! We all shared some mini churros, too. As we were sitting there, a South American tour group was walking between La Cantina and the Mexico pavilion. The leader of the group blew into a whistle, at which the kids stopped in their tracks while he ran about 10 yards ahead of them. At his next whistle, they all charged him, screaming the entire way. This was the only time I saw a tour group do something unsavory; it just seemed really selfish (I HATE when people stop in a walkway) and unsafe with the stampede.

    After dinner we walked along the Odyssey back to Future World, where we went on Mission: SPACE. It was the first time for all of us, and Brenton and Brittney braved the orange side while Nick and I stuck with green. It was an ok experience. Bee, Britt and I were itching to ride Test Track, so we used our FastPasses for that while Nick wandered over to the lagoon to watch IllumiNations. That was ending just as we were getting off Test Track, which was as fun as I remembered it, so we met up and left the park.

    Only one more day to go.

    Things I Think I Think: I think Disney should run the old Soarin in one of the three theaters. I think I could eat pizza from Via Napoli once a week. I think teenage tour groups are generally mild, but they could benefit from a Disney chaperone as well as their own. I think 60 mph on Test Track feels much faster than 60 mph in my car.

    Saturday, July 16:

    Everyone was slow to get up and ready, but all of us except Brenton made it to the bus stop before 9 a.m. and headed for Hollywood Studios. Nick and I hadnt been to this park since 2005 and Im sure my family hadnt been since the 90s, and we had a really lovely day!

    It didnt start out great, though. Our first FastPass was for Star Tours. Now, Andrew LOVES Star Wars, so I thought for sure hed be ok with this ride. Nick took him through the queue with my parents and Britt while I sat outside Backlot Express sharing snacks with Matthew. Andrew and Nick barely made it into the queue before Nick was bringing Andrew back out to me, then he went to try and meet up with the rest of the group. The boys and I sat and watched a Jedi Training Academy show until it got too loud for them, then we watched from just inside the door of Backlot Express, being careful not to block anyone from coming in or going out.

    When my mom, dad and Britt got off Star Tours, they sat with the boys so I could use my FastPass. Once wed all ridden, we headed over to the tables over by Gertie to figure out a game plan for the rest of the day. While we were sitting there, a Star Wars show (I think it was the Stormtrooper march) started in front of the theater. The boys were intrigued, which gave the grownups time to strategize. My parents wanted to go on the Great Movie Ride, so they did that while Nick and I took the kids to see the Frozen sing-along. This was really cute! -- the storytellers were hilarious -- and the boys enjoyed it, too.

    By now we were ready for lunch, so we headed back to Backlot Express, where Nick and I got bacon cheeseburgers and the kids split the chicken tenders and waffles. (Give these kids anything with syrup for dipping, and they are happy little boys.) We had a couple of beers with lunch, then opted to keep our buzzes going as we split up; Nick took Andrew to see if hed ride Toy Story Mania, and I wanted to walk Matthew in his stroller to see if hed nap since we werent taking a midday break. He wasnt falling for it, so we met up with my parents, Britt and Bee, whod just arrived, and my parents took Matty into a gift shop while Britt, Bee and I went on Tower of Terror (theyd made a FastPass+ reservation for the three of us). I enjoyed it, as always, but it felt really short to me; I couldve sworn there were several more drops, even though I know its a random sequence.

    Brenton and Brittney went on Rock n Roller Coaster while I went to find my parents and Matthew. They were in a gift shop near the ToT, where theyd picked out a pair of Mickey Crocs for Matty. He was also wearing a ridiculous hat with pictures of The Fab Five and a propeller on top, and clutching a ball. (The kid LOVES balls of all kind.) It was clear he wasnt parting with either, so my parents again took the opportunity to spoil their grandson.

    Nick and I were texting -- hed persuaded Andrew to ride Toy Story Mania, and he loved it! -- and we headed to Tatooine Traders to meet them and let both boys pick out some Star Wars souvenirs. Andrew built a new droid to add to his collection, and each boy got a lightsaber (Andrews red like Darth Vaders, Matthews blue like Luke Skywalkers). Nick and I got more beers as our souvenirs.

    My dad had gone back to the resort and Im not sure where Brenton was, but my mom and Brittney met up with us and we all went back to Toy Story Mania, which Andrew wanted to ride again. The line was about 30 minutes, so we waited. It was a cute queue, and Matthew finally fell asleep with Nick holding him. Id never ridden this before and thought it was fun, but I wouldnt wait more than 30 minutes for it (and even that would be pushing it now that Ive ridden it).

    Before leaving the park, we stopped at Hollywood Scoops for an ice cream cookie sandwich with mint chocolate chip ice cream, which the boys and I shared while Nick got a Sierra Nevada from Rosies. My mom and Britt got ice cream, too.

    We left a Disney park for the last time this trip and headed home on the bus. Brenton and Brittney spent a final night riding coasters at Magic Kingdom, and the rest of us spent the evening having dinner in the food court, packing and soaking up the last of our time together.

    Things I Think I Think: I think Hollywood Studios may take Epcots spot as my favorite park. Maybe thats because its smaller and therefore more intimate and manageable, or maybe its because my kids actually enjoyed some attractions there, or maybe its because I hadnt been there since 2005 and everything felt new but our time spent there made for a really enjoyable day overall. I think I need to eat ice cream cookie sandwiches more often but probably not too often. I think four days in Disney parks is not enough.

    Sunday, July 17:

    I woke up early to see my parents, Brenton and Brittney off; they had to catch the Magical Express bus at 7 a.m. We said our goodbyes, then I spent some time in their room crying (I really hate living so far away from my family!) and playing on my phone. Around 7:15 I went back into our room to get myself and everyone else ready for the day.

    Wed made reservations for a mini portrait session (20 minutes) through Disney Fine Art Photography, and we were meeting our photographer at the Poly at 8:30. We drove over, and Nick dropped us off and went to park. He met us inside after just a few minutes and we found our photographer, Emily, at the back of the lobby. We first went out to what she called the grotto near Luau Cove, then over to this grassy knoll so she could get Cinderella Castle in some of our pics. Matthew wasnt being cooperative at first -- he was acting shy and not wanting to smile -- but eventually he came out of his shell. Still, it was hard to get all four of us to look at the camera and smile at the same time. Nick kept looking at Matthew to encourage him to smile, then Id elbow Nick, and Andrew would be all Whats going on? It didnt help that it was ridiculously hot and muggy out; I dont know why I even bothered curling my hair that morning.

    Anyway, after the shoot we went into the lobby, where Emily transferred the images from her camera to a jump drive for us. We took a quick look at them on her laptop and saw a few cute ones of the boys and one or two of all four of us.

    After a restroom stop, we went to Capt. Cooks to grab breakfast. The four of us split a Bounty Platter and an order of Mickey waffles. Everything was as good as a Disney resort breakfast can be, but Capt. Cooks serves its meals in containers like the takeout ones from a Chinese restaurant and I found it difficult to cut up and eat our waffles and French toast out of them.

    With full bellies, we drove back to Riverside, where we started the task of getting all of our things into Nicks and my cars. That didnt take long, and after a quick check of the room to make sure we hadnt missed anything, we hit the road home, the boys riding with Nick and -- of course -- Matthew sleeping all the way. We were home by 12:30.

    Things I Think I Think: I think I love living in Florida for many reasons, but I miss the heck out of my family. I think its hard to get a 2-year-old to look at a camera for 20 minutes at least our 2-year-old. I think Im already planning our next extended-family trip, for 2019.

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    Great report! Thanks for taking the time to write it. It must be nice to live only 11/2 hours away from the Parks!

  4. #3

    What a lovely family visit in such a magical place! I enjoyed reading about your family's experiences at WDW. I can empathize with your mixed feelings about living apart from your family. I am 550 miles from my grown children and soon-to-be first grandchild. Hopefully in four or 5 years, I'll be able to write a report about his first visit to Disney World! Thank you so much for sharing Tiffany.

  5. #4

    Thanks for both reports! I hope the boys get over their fears sooner than later so you can get back on some of these rides with them!

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Big V View Post
    Great report! Thanks for taking the time to write it. It must be nice to live only 11/2 hours away from the Parks!
    Thank you! It is super convenient; I just wish I could convince my husband to visit more often! Maybe when the kids are more into the attractions...

    Quote Originally Posted by ems225 View Post
    What a lovely family visit in such a magical place! I enjoyed reading about your family's experiences at WDW. I can empathize with your mixed feelings about living apart from your family. I am 550 miles from my grown children and soon-to-be first grandchild. Hopefully in four or 5 years, I'll be able to write a report about his first visit to Disney World! Thank you so much for sharing Tiffany.
    Aww, thank you, and congratulations! I look forward to reading that report someday!

    Quote Originally Posted by spectromen View Post
    Thanks for both reports! I hope the boys get over their fears sooner than later so you can get back on some of these rides with them!
    Thanks, me too! I think my youngest, at least, will be a daredevil before long.

  7. #6
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Apr 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teenkerbell View Post
    Tiffany Azzara - July 2016 - Port Orleans Riverside

    Things I Think I Think (I love that Steve Russo does this and am “borrowing” it for my report): I think extended-family vacations to Disney World are the way to go, especially when you don’t get to see said family very often. I think making our PIN something easy for my husband to remember made it more difficult for me to remember. I think my kids would eat chicken nuggets for every meal if we let them.

    Can I expect a royalty check anytime soon? ;-)

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    Can I expect a royalty check anytime soon? ;-)
    It's in the mail!

  9. #8

    Hi! Great report! I too wish Disney would use one of the theaters for the old Soarin. Thanks for sharing with us!

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by baylakebeliever View Post
    Hi! Great report! I too wish Disney would use one of the theaters for the old Soarin. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Thank you! Doesn't that seem like the best solution?! For us, at least. ;-)



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