The third night, we went to EPCOT to have dinner at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in The Norway pavilion. It was a cast event with multiple princesses in attendance. The upside of this place was that the primary food and dessert were not buffet style. And, it was possibly the best food we had while at Disney. As far as the Princess side, it felt like the least interactive. It’s possible that this was because it was a late dinner for us and everyone was exhausted. That said, Snow White spent some time chatting with Claire, which she early enjoyed.
Harper interacted with Aurora a bit, returning her blown kiss. Very adorable. At any rate, we booked it out of there straight back to the hotel as soon as our meal was done because everyone was exhausted and we had an early breakfast set up for the following morning.
Sorry for the delay. I’ve been working some extra hours.
We went to Tusker House in Animal Kingdom for breakfast. It was a meet the cast event with Safari Mickey and friends making appearances. You know, a lot of these things are buffet style food. Which, with two young kids, means somebody stays at the table and somebody goes to collect food. So, if you go, just be sure to have your drinks waiter let you know the route and time line the characters take. It’s stressful to be at the table on your own with the kids wondering who will arrive first. Also, assume their timeline is wrong by at least an order of magnitude.
Harper started to consider warming up to the idea of giant cartoon characters interacting with her in real life. But, mostly, she was keen on their doughnuts.
Three quarters of our way through the meal, Daisy Duck led a conga line for all of the children in our section. They got noise makers and played thematic music. It was cool. Claire conga’d and Harper watched with a What Is Going On Here?!? expression.
After that, we had fast passes for the Jungle Safari tour. It’s a ride in giant land yacht of a vehicle. I enjoyed the ride and was pleased with the park. I have no memory of having been there. They had a neat selection of animals. Claire seemed, I’m not sure what the right word would be. I want to say unimpressed. Claire seemed unimpressed. She thought the animals were cool. She enjoyed breakfast. But, the rest of our time in the Animal Kingdom – excepting The Festival of the Lion King – she was mostly like “When can we go ride Peter Pan?”
Which, let’s be clear, I’m fine with that. People aren’t going to like everything. For various reasons. I enjoyed the park and so did Danielle and Harper. Harper went through the safari ride pointing and going “WOW, doggy!”
We all enjoyed the Festival of the Lion King. We had fast passes for it and that made it much less stressful with much better seats. Well, Harper slept. And, Claire took that last picture. In fact, I want to say Claire’s indifference might have been exhaustion because she made it to the end of the show and pretty much blacked out.
Dinner at Crystal Palace was a character meet function for the cast of Winnie the Pooh. When you’re kid has a Mommy Pooh and two iterations of Daddy Pooh, a Winnie the Pooh dinner date is a must do!
I can tell from her expression alone in the pictures that this was super cool for her. I’m glad it was. I can’t imagine what it’s like to meet a larger than life version of your bear. It’s like Calvin actually meeting Hobbes.
Harper, on the other hand, seemed totally weirded out by it. Or, possibly she thought she’d fallen in to the television. I particularly love her expression in the Eeyore photo.
Claire really got into the idea of taking photos. So, we tried to make sure she could do some shooting of her own. But, waking out of the park that night, you could tell she felt like she owned the place. The Great Disney Trip was shaping up to be quite the success.
Brandon and Michelle linked up with us for Day 2. Claire and Harper definitely enjoyed that. We slept in and made our way to the park. Thanks to the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, the park wasn’t particularly crowded. In fact, we had a good view of Dream Along – With Mickey without even trying.
After that, we rode the Winnie the Pooh ride and then met up with B and Seashell. Claire spent just about the entire time Brandon was around hanging on, walking with and climbing on him. Only, she kind of doesn’t make it easy when she knows she’s got someone not familiar with her tricks on hand.
Casey’s Corner for lunch and a host of rides was the course for the day. Following that, Brandon and Michelle escaped back to Tampa and we made our way to dinner at the Crystal Palace.
Dinner at 1900 Park Fare had reasonable good food. It was one of the best series of cast interactions. We were fortunate to have Anastasia, Druzilla and Lady Tremaine spend a bit of time chatting with Claire.
Claire mentioned to Anastasia the crying at one of the other tables. Anastasia told her that Cinderella cries, too, so she can steal all the attention and that Claire should tell her not to cry so much when she sees her. Claire agreed and immediately called out Harper for crying. It was hilarious. As hilarious as Anastasia’s reaction to that interpretation.
Druzilla played dolls with Claire for awhile. Claire invited her and her family over to our house to make cookies. If you notice, Claire started trying to pose like them.
Lady Tremaine spent quite a bit of time listening to Claire talk. Claire told her about the crying and Harper. She told her about inviting Druzilla and her family to our house for cookies. The Lady subtly rebuffed Claire for not having a grandiose invitation for her. Claire told her about a lot of stuff.
Cinderella also came by and talked with Claire about her dress. But, as the character everyone was there to see, we didn’t really have the same interaction time.
Prince Charming was pretty cool though. He danced with Claire.
I was really happy about that. Cinderella and the Prince danced briefly and Claire spent the following five minutes telling how much she’d like to dance with him. So, I think it made her night.
All in, it was a great way to kick off the trip.
Our first day was mostly travel. The flight was super easy. The kids relaxed. I watched a soccer game. The first picture is in the Orlando Airport. Claire asked to have her picture taken so she could show her friends at school.
We stayed at Port Orleans – The French Quarter. Since we were staying on the Disney property, we rode the Magical Express. They had massive lines set up for all the different routes. And Disney is all about line management. Even still. It was a short wait.
Christmas decorations and themes went up during our stay as we crossed in to December. The kids were suitably impressed with the trees at every turn.
Upon arrival, the primary event was dinner at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian, another hotel on the Disney property. When we got there, a choir was singing Christmas carols in front of a nearly three story Christmas tree. While we were waiting for our table, the kids were invited to come up and hold some bells to jingle while they sang Jingle Bells.
This segued into a couple of songs. Claire was slightly bewildered, but enjoyed herself nine the less.
A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We spent ours at my parents house with my sister. Everyone had a pretty good time.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Danielle, Diana, Claire and myself went to see Frozen at the theater. After, we went out for Chinese food. Who knows, maybe a new Thanksgiving tradition! We all thoroughly enjoyed Frozen. But, best Disney Animated picture since The Lion King? That’s a stretch billboard!
My mom made a great meal, which was enjoyed by all.
As my mom has noted elsewhere, Claire used our annual Thanksgiving Picture moment to steal a dollop of mashed potatoes. With her finger. So, it’s pretty clear we’ve been doing something right with that kid.
Harper helped us end the night by spending about four hours returning the contents of her stomach. Which, I think you’ll agree, was a truly special way to conclude Thanksgiving.
My thinking is that for Thanksgiving last year, I worked ten nights in a row, during which I had the flu and my family was out of town. This year was a definite improvement! For which I’m thankful.