Bathroom Remodel Hell

July 2nd, 2017

We interrupt this all-Disney, all-the-time blog to talk about how stupid my house is.

My house is STUPID. REALLY STUPID.

That’s what you get when you buy a house built in 1913. Especially a house built in 1913 that’s had most of the work done by half-assed do-it-yourself-ers over the years, so every time you start any project you immediately discover 10 more things that need to be fixed. It’s the worst.

I am trying so hard to remember that being forced to design a new bathroom is a first world problem. I mean, we still have a (A. One. Uno.) working toilet, so I am still living a first world life (even if I don’t have a working tub or shower). I have access to a line of credit to pay for the repairs so I don’t have to live with a hole in my kitchen ceiling. We have homeowner’s insurance that may help fix that giant hole in the kitchen ceiling. I get to choose which tile and which light and which flooring I want, I don’t have to use whatever is the very cheapest option.

But looking on the bright side and being grateful is taking up SO MUCH of my mental energy I’m completely exhausted. There are people in and out of my house all day, we have a million decisions to make (and they all involve both money and math, the two things that stress me out the most), I feel like an idiot trying to understand plumbing and electrical issues. Feeling like a broke, unshowered idiot is not a fun way to spend your summer vacation.

We had absolutely planned to remodel our upstairs bathroom at some point. We’ve been talking about it for years. Whoever did it last time (a curse upon them) used discontinued/scratch and dent/overstock/ugly ugly ugly stuff and we’ve hated it since we moved in. So when this disaster is over I’m going to have a bathroom I don’t hate. That’s the good news.

It’s also going to have heated floors. That’s the REALLY good news.

But right now, every time I walk past this room, all I can think about is living in bathroom hell.

bathroom remodel during

 

Related posts:

Before and After: New Master Bedroom
DIY Patio Makeover
My Week(178) in iPhone Photos

Our First Disney Trip: Animal Kingdom

June 29th, 2017

Previously: Non-park days, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot

By Friday, I was afraid I wouldn’t actually make it out of bed. The thought of putting my shoes on made me want to cry. But I also really, really wanted to see Pandora and go on the Everest roller coaster and do the safari ride and meet Donald Duck and, funny enough, none of that stuff was available in my hotel room so off to the Animal Kingdom we went!

Sunrise from our hotel room:

Children NOT interested in waking up:

My original plan for Friday was that we would get to Animal Kingdom early enough to be the first (or almost first) people on Flights of Passage so we would have time to see the standby line, then ride the Na’vi River Journey before our 8:30 am Flights of Passage Fastpass. There’s a lot of stuff to see in the line while you wait, but only while you wait, not in the Fastpass tunnel. But because we slept in a little bit and got to Animal Kingdom right as the opened the wait time for Flights of Passage was already greater than 45 minutes. The wait time for Na’vi River Journey was essentially nothing though, so walking onto that and then using our Flights of Passage Fastpass worked out great.

Pandora was fun to look around and explore. We loved how much there was too look at and explore. I took a zillion pictures but it was really sunny and the kids couldn’t even look at the camera so all I have to share are landscape pics. We somehow lost the family photo the Photopass photographer (booo).

Flights of Passage was the most amazing ride I have ever been on. I let myself get hyped up because I had heard such AMAZING reviews and 30 seconds into the ride I was like “Oh this is really nice but I don’t know if I’m blown away…” and then I was totally blown away.

Ok, so, this is where I want to mention that I almost let something that happened that morning completely ruin our trip. While we were waiting to go into the pre-ride show for Flights of Passage, one of the kids said they needed to pee but swore to me they could hold it. They did not hold it. And I did not handle it well. I feel way worse about how angry I was – I was super embarrassed and expressed that as anger – than I did about the actual situation. Even with the Fastpass the Flights of Passage pre-show plus other pre-show plus ride was at least 30 minutes long and when you’re a kid who really has to pee…that’s a long time. So here is the lesson I learned: EVERY time you see a bathroom, make the kids use it. We had had a couple close calls on the previous days, but I hadn’t yet realized we needed to make a rule about at least TRYING to go every hour. Also, bring extra clothes for everyone, not just the babies. And don’t yell at your kids at Disney World, you’ll just feel like a huge a-hole.

Because of that…delay…we ran out of time for E to rider swap immediately and had to go over to Africa for our Kilimanjaro Safari Fastpass. I took way too many pictures of far away animals. And now I’m going to make you look at some of them!

I let Caroline hold my phone during that whole tour because she REALLY wanted to take pictures of the animals. I’ll spare you any of those. Not that you could tell what they are even if I did post them. Bouncing tram + cell phone + 6-year-old = blurry nonsense.

After the safari we went back to Pandora because E couldn’t wait any longer to ride Flights of Passage. Which is a valid way to feel, it’s incredible.

While E and the kids were using their rider swap, I went to Pongu Pongu to try out one of the drinks I had heard about.

The drink is called a Night Blossom and it’s “a mix of limeade combined with apple and desert pear flavors finished off with passion fruit boba balls”. I loved it so much I drank all of mine and then stole Lincoln’s. He only really cared about the boba balls so I left those for him at the end. The food thing is pineapple and cream cheese deep fried inside…something? I can’t remember what they are called but they were SO GOOD.

Finnegan agrees the pineapple things are delicious.

After my family got off the ride, I made them all buy Night Blossoms too. They agreed it was an excellent decision. Also, it was our last day in the parks and we still had a bunch of snack credits to use up, so using them in Pandora seemed like a good call.

Animal Kingdom is a really big park and I had done the least amount of minute-by-minute planning for our day there – all our Fastpasses were very early – so we had a lot of free time. We ended up crisscrossing back and forth and back and forth around the different countries many many times. There isn’t really a good way to completely avoid that, but I’m definitely going to do more planning if (when) we go back. We rode Kali River Rapids and the kids were disappointed to not get soaking wet. I think they would have ridden it all day just hoping to get splashed.

Some of the walking is unavoidable though. The Animal Kingdom is maybe just a little bit like a really fancy zoo, so we took one of the trails to see the tigers and then just wandered around checking out the cool Disney imagineering.

After some exploring, we checked into our lunch at Tusker House. Shocking information: it was a character meal and a buffet. Other shocking information: it was great. It was also not at all crowded and some of the characters came back around to visit the kids (mostly Lincoln) again. ALSO, they let us bring the stroller into the restaurant because both babies were sleeping in it. Finn slept through almost all of lunch but we woke Linc up. He never would have forgiven us if he missed Donald Duck.

Grumpy 8-year-olds who don’t want to be in the picture don’t stand a chance against Mickey.

After lunch we took the train out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where we met Rafiki. Doc McStuffins was also out there, so if you wanted to see her that’s the secret no-wait spot. The train ride was relaxing, the actual area was not super exciting. But it wasn’t crowded, which was super nice!

Caroline isn’t as miserable as she looks in that photo, I swear.

Then we FINALLY made it over to Expedition Everest, which Evan and Caroline were most excited about.

HE REALLY WAS EXCITED. Did I mention this was day 4 of the parks? We were all so tired.

We spent a lot of time in Asia section of the park in the afternoon. It wasn’t too crowded, there were places to sit, and the kids really loved riding Expedition Everest so we rode it a bunch of times. Considering it’s the only real coaster in the park (I am anti-Dinoland, we didn’t ride any of that junk besides the Dinosaur ride) I have no idea why there were always Fastpasses available, but as soon as we swiped in with a FP we’d book another for a little later. I think I rode twice and E rode three times which means the kids rode five times.

Pro tip: $5 bubble gun from the craft store can keep a toddler busy while he waits for the big kids to ride their roller coaster.

The Anandapur Ice Cream truck will make you ice cream floats with any combination they have. The kids got chocolate soft serve and root beer. E and I got vanilla soft serve with Orange Crush. They were all delicious and such a good refreshing snack.

I took more photo at Animal Kingdom than anywhere else. It was partly because our day was a liiiittle less busy, partly because the crowds weren’t bad so I could set up shots, and partly because it took me that many days to get into my photography groove. I even have a roll of film to develop from this day. We also managed to get a couple family photos from the Photopass people:

 

 

Our lunch with the characters was actually part of a package that included seating for the first showing of Rivers of Light. It meant we didn’t have to waste a Fastpass on a 9 pm show and we didn’t have to get in line hours early to get a seat.

Poor Finnegan was DONE by the time we picked out seats at around 8:45. E tried wearing him to get him to calm down but the only thing that helped was letting him just nurse and nurse and nurse until he fell asleep. I had a hard time working my camera around an angry, nursing baby, so a lot of these photos were actually taken by E.

After ALL OF THAT, we still had to head back to Pandora to see it at night.

Pictures don’t really do it justice. It’s so cool. Also cool: one of my friends from high school did some of the lighting! We were in drama together. That last part was probably obvious.

We got a family photo with the members of the family who were still awake:

And then I decided that no matter how tired we were, eating something for dinner needed to be a priority and I really wanted that dinner to be in Pandora. So we stood in a (pretty short) line in the canteen to try the Pandora food.

I got a build-your-old bowl with rice, beef, and creamy sauce. E and Caroline got steamed cheeseburgers. I think Evan got a grilled cheese, but it was gone before I could even take a picture. And then we had these blueberry cheesecake things for dessert.

It was all delicious. I’m still thinking about rice bowl and trying to figure out how to recreate it at home. I also tried the steamed cheeseburgers and although I was skeptical, they were actually really well spiced and the bun was surprisingly good. I’m not sure it would be worth a super long wait, but it was definitely a great use of our meal plan credit and completely different from any other food we had all week.

And then it was time to go home! I tried to take a picture of the Tree of Light waking up on our way out, but nighttime photography needs a tripod and instead of a tripod I was wearing a toddler.

And that is it! Our whole Disney vacation!

I’m working on a post now about what I learned while planning the trip (about stuff like Fastpasses and dining) so if you have any questions feel free to ask so I can include the answers. I’m not a Disney expert by any means but that’s not going to stop me from offering advice based on what worked for us.

This trip was so fun and so magical and gave us all the core memories we could possibly want. If you’re a Disney-person at all, you should go to Disney World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

Kids on Film
OK, Winter Can Be Over Now
My Week(346) in iPhone Photos

Our First Disney Trip: Epcot

June 26th, 2017

Previously: Non-park days, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios

Our Thursday at Disney World was supposed to be all Epcot: a calmer day to walk around the World Showcase, ride a couple exciting and a lot of less-exciting rides, eat things, drink things, and meet a bunch of princesses. But because our Jedi Training on Wednesday was cancelled, we had Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning before we even started Epcot. Because Epcot didn’t open until 9 and our check-in for training was 9:40, we actually had a “relaxing” morning. We got to the park right after they opened and E and Caroline got to ride Tower of Terror with only a couple minute wait. Evan did not want to do it again, so he and the babies and I found a coffee stand near the exit and ate donuts the size of our heads while we waited.

Then we headed across the park for Jedi Training, past the lake with the dinosaur. The kids were obsessed with this dinosaur.

Here’s my short review of Jedi Training: I loved it. The kids also thought it was “cool”, but I am not sure it was the super duper awesome amazing unbelievable thing I thought it would be for them.  To sign up, you have to rope drop the park, run to the sign-up area, stand in line and then hope your spot doesn’t get rained out later. It gets rained out a lot, especially in the summer thunderstorm months. I don’t know if we will bother to make that effort if (when) we go back, unless the kids specifically ask for it. Or if Linc wants to do it (he was too young this year).

It was worth it at least once for the photos though.

The PhotoPass photographers took a LOT of pictures of the show too.

That’s the Seventh Sister, she’s a Jedi hunter trained by Darth Vader. *takes off dork glasses*

On the way out, the kids talked us into buying lightsabers. I wasn’t THAT hard to convince. Mostly so the Photopass person could take this pictures.

The park looks really crowded in those photos, which is weird because I don’t remember it being crowded.

Even though we had planned just one day in each park, we had purchased park hopper passes (thanks military discount!) so it wasn’t a problem to get into Hollywood Studios and then hop over to Epcot. We choose to take the 30-minute boat ride instead of the 10-minute bus ride, because I hate the buses. On the boat, we got a nice view of several resorts and we didn’t have to fold up the stroller. I recommend the boat.

Our original plan was to get to Epcot super early – they opened at 8 am for Extra Magic Hours – to rope drop Soarin’, since we used our Tier 1 Fastpass for the Frozen ride. But because Freddie The Best Castmember Ever had booked us those spots in the morning Jedi Training, he also turned our two morning Fastpasses (which were for a character meet and the Nemo ride) into magical, open-ended Fastpasses, good for anything in Epcot. That allowed us to start our day in Epcot with our princess lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at noon, then use our original Fastpass for Frozen and the two special ones for Test Track and Soarin’.

Our princess lunch was SUPER. I had heard mixed things about the restaurant because it’s located in the Norway pavilion and serves actual Norwegian food. Not everyone is a fan of pickled fish, but the way the menu was set up meant there was PLENTY of choices. You order drinks and a main course and then can eat from the “appetiser” buffet as much as you want. But we could have made entire meals of the buffet – meats and cheeses and salads and fruit and rolls. The non-meal-plan babies ate a TON of food. I had a delicious seafood casserole, E had meatballs, and the kids had pizza and mac & cheese, so don’t be afraid of Akershus.

Also, it was a really pretty building with good light, so my photos of the kids with the princesses look great.

This Ariel was amazing. She spent so much time with Caroline, admiring all the sea animals on her dress and whispering things together.

I mean, look at that. That’s Caroline’s best life.

We were all STUFFED by the end of the meal but dessert is included so they brought us two of these trays. The apple cake in the middle was definitely the winner. It was SO good.

We also met Belle at that lunch! I let the PhotoPass photographer take that one because the alcove was sort of small.

Lunch was right across the pavilion from both the Frozen ride and the Anna and Elsa meeting spot. The ride was really fun and I was super glad we had the Fastpass, because the wait time was around 45 minutes. But for some reason the wait time to meet Anna and Elsa was…nothing, basically. It was amazing. I’m almost sad we just walked through the whole line, because we missed getting to look at all the fun details Disney puts in the buildings so you forget you’re waiting in line. But not THAT sad. When Frozen first came out, the wait times for Anna and Elsa were FIVE HOURS OR MORE. 5 minutes was way better.

 

And then I made Caroline pose for a few photos.

Don’t you love her very authentic crocs with socks look?

After we were done in Norway, it started to look like it might rain and we wanted to make sure we did Test Track before they closed it due to weather. So we headed in that direction with a quick stop in Mexico to ride the dark boat ride there. We managed to knock out Test Track with the FP and rider swap, then Soarin’ with the FP and rider swap, and then Spaceship Earth before it started to POUR. We were prepared with ponchos (although we forgot the stupid rain cover again!), so we dashed across the park to the character spots to wait for Mickey and friends and then Joy, Sadness and Baymax.

I was not expecting Epcot to be the park where we met the most characters, but I think it wins!

The wait for Joy and Sadness was the worst wait anywhere that week – the line moved soooooo sloooooow and it was just a back-and-forth line in a big empty space. We were really tired, and damp, and it was boring, and we didn’t have the stroller so we had to wear Finnegan. I made the kids pose for photos to keep us all amused.

It was only sort of pouring when we left the characters, so we hiked over to the Land and Sea section and finally rode the Nemo ride. It was adorable and there was NO wait. There’s a real aquarium at the end so it looks like Dory and Nemo and Marlin and Crush are swimming with the real fish. There was a ton of stuff in that area that we skipped, so Epcot is top of my list for parks to go back to if (when) we visit again.

We decided it was too wet to try to do anything else right away, so we caught a bus back to the hotel to change clothes, pick up the stroller rain cover, and unload the lightsabers. The middle-of-the-day buses are less terrible than end-of-the-night buses, so it was an easy trip. Right after we got back to the hotel, it completely stopped raining and the sun broke through the clouds. We decided it was a good time to go back to Magic Kingdom to try to ride Splash Mountain (which we had missed the first day because it was broken). We checked the app and there were still Fastpasses available for around 8 pm, so we snapped them up and headed back.

On the bus to the park, we noticed a rainbow. When we got into the park. you could still see the rainbow. And then as we headed towards Frontierland, I realized if I could stand in the right place, we could see the DOUBLE rainbow leading right into the castle. I took probably 300 rainbow photos (as did every other person at the park).

 

Between the sun coming out and the rainbow and the general feeling of magic in the park, we all forgot we were tired. We used our Fastpasses to rider swap Splash Mountain. By the time I got on it was sunset, which was super fun. Then we tried to grab dinner but it was 9 pm and the quick service places were closed. So we decided to go try and see Tomorrowland, since we had missed most of it on our Magic Kingdom day. We also wanted to let Caroline ride Space Mountain, since I had previously told her she was too short but I was wrong. The fireworks were going on as we crossed the park, so we cut through Fantasyland behind the castle. When we got to the other side, we realized almost everyone in the park was still watching the show, so the wait for Space Mountain was almost nothing. E and the kids hopped on. About 5 minutes later, the fireworks ended and at least a hundred people RAN towards Space Mountain. The wait time went from 10 minutes to 45 minutes almost instantly.

Once I met up with the coaster riders, we decided to do the Toy Story ride before we left, just because Linc loves Buzz Lightyear so much and had been such a champ with not riding Splash Mountain or Space Mountain.

Then the park was closed, so we (and eeeeeeeeverybody else) left. The bus was stupid again. It was 11 pm before we got back to the hotel. And no one had eaten dinner. The kids were too tired to care and E chose sleep over food, so I went down to the hotel food court on my own and got a huge plate of pasta and some cupcakes. Finn nursed SO MUCH on this trip, both for comfort and to stay hydrated in the heat, so I was constantly starving. No skipping meals for me.

Because we had such a late night, we adjusted our plan for Friday just a little bit. Although we did still rope drop Animal Kingdom. There were no days off during this vacation.

Next: our LAST DAY in Disney at the Animal Kingdom and the new Pandora world!

Related posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Spring Break 2016
Our First Disney Trip: Telling the Kids!
Our First Disney Trip: What I Learned That Can Help You Plan

Our First Disney Trip: Fashion

June 24th, 2017

I wrote most of this post before we left on vacation, so I’m just adding notes and photos, which is why some of it sounds like we haven’t gone yet.

This is where I admit I went WAY SUPER OVERBOARD with our Disney trip outfits. I started with a plan to get us matching family Disney shirts for just our first day in the Magic Kingdom. Then I decided we needed matching family Disney shirts for EVERY day of parks. I eventually backed off the fully-matching idea and went with park-themed shirts for each day, plus a few extra shirts (it’s June in Florida, I have a nursing baby and a toddler, we all need extra shirts) and a princess dress or three (oooooor a few more) for Caroline to wear to character meals. Oh and pajamas. And maybe a bathing suit or two. I bought all those things. (Many links in this post are affiliate or referral links – if you don’t want me to get any pennies for your click just type in the stores and search for the items instead of clicking through.)

Short version: I found that the best sources for Disney t-shirts were normal stores – Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s – and sometimes the Disney Store. I did almost all my shopping online. For custom shirts, Etsy was my go-to. My NUMBER ONE TIP if you’re shopping for Disney shirts would be to sign up for Ebates. Everywhere from Etsy to the Disney Store to Target offer cashback – I’ve made almost $40 with the shopping I’ve done for our trip, and that doesn’t include extras like new prescription sunglasses. If you use my link to sign up, I get a bonus and you get $10 free to get you started. Ebates are great, sign up even if you don’t use my link, then get the plug-in for Chrome so it alerts you when they’re available.

Long version: Day by day guide with sources!

FREE DAY/PRINCESS DINNER

We have reservations at 1600 Park Fare the night before we start doing the parks. Beginning with a magical princess character meal means even if every other day is a hot mess, at least we get to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming.

I am wearing a princess tank top from Zulily (if you haven’t purchased from them before and use my link to sign up, I get a credit). E is wearing his Gaston t-shirt also from Zulily. Caroline is wearing a vintage Mickey print dress made by Rainbow Waters, who I’ve recommended before as one of my favorite spots to buy Caroline fun clothes. Evan is wearing his Kylo Ren t-shirt from the Disney Store. Lincoln is wearing a Moana shirt from Old Navy and Finnegan is wearing a Mickey shirt from The Disney Store. I also bought Disney bathing suits for most of the kids. The two best were the absolutely fantastic Stitch full-body wet suit for Finnegan and the Moana bathing suit for Caroline, both from The Disney Store.

Disney bathing suits

Various Nemo pajamas were super on sale from Target online.

Finding Nemo Pajamas


A note about costumes: Caroline owns a lot of princess dresses and is generally a kid who LOVES to play dress up. Since we’re going to be eating character meals with several princesses I wanted to make sure Caroline had the option to wear her dress up. Unfortunately, a lot of our dress up isn’t really Disney-World-friendly – either I bought it too big so she could get more years of use out of it, it’s too long for walking around, or it’s the cheap kind that gets itchy pretty fast. People in one of the Disney FB groups I joined highly recommended Mom Approved Costumes and I ordered a couple dresses for Caroline and Jedi capes for the boys. I LOVE them. They’re packable, machine-washable, have completely finished interior seams and no itchy parts. If you use my link you’ll get 10% off your first order and I earn points in their loyalty program. The dresses run about $30 a piece, which is more expensive than the cheap ones you can get from AliExpress or even the toy department at Target, but a lot less than the nice ones from The Disney Store. I’m bringing: Elena (from The Disney Store), Cinderella (from AliExpress), Ariel ballgown (Mom Approved), Ariel day dress (Mom Approved), Anna day dress (Mom Approved),  Moana (Mom Approved), a Dark Side cape for Evan (Mom Approved), a Jedi cape for Linc (Mom Approved), and pirate costumes for both boys (AliExpress). The princess dresses ended up working out perfectly but the boys never wore the pirate costumes because of time. Next visit we’ll do more pirate stuff.

Caroline wore all but one of her princess dresses and said she found the Mom Approved Costumes even more comfortable than her regular clothes. She bonded with all the princesses over her great outfits and reveled in being called princess every day (to be fair, they call all little girls princess, but she felt extra special).

princess dresses at Disney

Caroline also ended up in Linc’s Jedi robes, because he didn’t care about them and she did VERY MUCH. There weren’t any other kids at Hollywood Studios with their own robes, so ours were a big hit and I would definitely recommend them.

 

MAGIC KINGDOM

We are all wearing our Best Day Ever shirts from MouseApparel. I cannot recommend this shop enough, the owner was helpful and gracious and almost as excited about our trip as I am. She went out of her way to make sure every detail of our shirts are exactly what I imagined. She even wrote me back immediately after I asked my first question even though she was AT Disneyland. My in-laws kindly embroidered the kids’ names on the backs of their shirts.

family disney shirts Best Day Ever

Family matching Disney Shirts

EPCOT

We have a princess lunch booked, so we went with a Frozen theme. This was the moment I knew E was going to be just as into this whole over the top Disney thing as I am: when I showed him these shirts and he said “Definitely order those.” Sandwiches shirts from Once Upon A Mickey Tee. Caroline’s Frozen tee is from Kohl’s, Finn’s tee is from The Disney Store, and the two Miles from Tomorrowland shirts are from ThredUp (if you use my referral link, you and I both get a $10 credit), which is a website/app that consigns kid’s and women’s clothes. Lincoln’s is new with tags and was only a few dollars. I would start browsing there as long in advance as you can, since they add new stuff all the time.

family disney shirts Epcot

Family matching Disney Shirts at epcot

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Our plans for Hollywood Studios are 90% Star Wars, so that’s our shirt theme. My husband and oldest child insist they are Sith Lords (There are always two) so they get dark side shirts from Teepublic. The rest of us are good people, so we’re on the right side of the rebellion. All our shirts are from Kohl’s. Linc was BB8 for Halloween, so he’ll wear the hat from his costume too. He wears it all the time. I cut my Rebels t-shirt into a tank and a friend hemmed the edges for me. Then I decided I needed a second Star Wars shirt and bought one that says “A Woman’s Place Is In The Resistance“. Perfect for Hollywood Studios AND everyday life.

family disney shirts Star Wars Hollywood Studios

Family star wars shirts

ANIMAL KINGDOM

The shows and characters at Animal Kingdom are animal based (duh) so I went with animal movies for our outfits. My shirt and E’s shirt came from Teepublic (I spent a lot of time browsing there, they have some really great shirts). Mine is hard to see but it has Disney birds in cages – Donald, Kevin, Zazu, Wise Old Owl, etc. The kids thought it was HILARIOUS. Evan and Lincoln’s shirts came from ThredUp. Caroline’s Lion King shirt came from Kohls’ and Finn’s shirt came from The Disney Store. I was worried Linc’s shirt would be way too big for him, so I did some more browsing and found a Mickey-lion shirt on the Disney Boutique Custom Resale group page. People destash all the shirts/dresses/shoes/things their kids wore ONE time in the parks, so it’s a great place to look for discounted but original stuff.

family disney shirts Animal Kingdom

Family animal kingdom shirts

I also ordered two custom embroidered shirts to put over our Tulas. Lincoln and Finn both love being worn. It’s also the easiest way to nurse Finn without having to take lots of sitting-down breaks. After reading some advice in the Tula Love group, I ordered a 4T for Finn’s standard Tula and a size 8 for Linc’s toddler Tula. Using a t-shirt as a cover is cheaper and easier than either buying new Tulas or having custom covers made, even if we only use them for this one week. The shirts worked well! I didn’t get a SINGLE good photo, but we got tons of compliments. Unfortunately, the white shirts got filthy pretty fast and I ended taking Finn’s off.

To prepare for our trip, I’m collecting all the clothes each kid needs each day (shirt, shorts, socks, underwear) into large Ziploc bags and labeling them by day/park. That way when we’re trying to get out of the hotel at 6 am no one struggles to find their shirt or puts on the wrong one. I’ve also packed separate Ziplocs for each kid to bring to the park with back-up clothes. I plan to put the bags they take their clothes out of each day into our park bag, so I have large Ziplocs available for storing dirty/wet clothes, protecting electronics if it rains, or holding unfinished snacks. This system worked really well. It was great to streamline our mornings and make sure nothing was missing.

Post-vacation note: BRING EXTRA CLOTHES FOR EVERYONE. Even if you’ve been carrying them around for 3 days and no one has needed any extra clothes and you think “We’re fine, I can stop lugging this extra stuff around.” No. You cannot. That is the day you will need them and buying shorts at Disney World will cost you at least $25. 

May I also strongly suggest these Old Navy compression capris I now own in four different patterns? Yes, we went in June and it was very hot, but I haaaaate shorts and I needed something that prevented thigh chafing and wouldn’t fall down or stretch out. These leggings were perfect. They dried quickly when I got wet, looked cute, and some even had cute matching sports bras to wear under my tanks. I actually saw at least half a dozen other moms wearing those pants, so I’m not the only one who thinks they’re perfect for Disney.

Another note: Crocs were great for the kids. They were a good choice and I’m super glad they broke them in ahead of time. 

Ok, one last note: You can wear almost anything you like and will be comfortable in. No one will care. You can’t be too earnest or too dorky at Disney World. I’d say about 30% of people were wearing Disney shirts, 30% had matching family shirts, and 30% were just wearing regular clothes. So don’t let it become something you stress about too much, unless you are like me and having things to stress about is actually part of the fun of planning.

Let me know if I missed anything you were looking for or need help finding Disney shirts!

Related posts:

My Week(109) in iPhone Photos
My Week(183) in iPhone Photos
My Week(283) in iPhone Photos

Our First Disney Trip: Hollywood Studios

June 23rd, 2017

Previously: Disney Non-Park Day, Magic Kingdom

Right now (Summer 2017), Hollywood Studios is majorly under construction. They’re adding Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land (rumor says those will open in 2018 and 2019, respectively) so the park feels a little…messy. But some of my all-time favorite stuff is at Hollywood Studios, so we planned a full day at the park – and still ended up missing a bunch of things! Honestly, I used to think people who spent 10 days at Disney World were crazy, but after this trip I totally get it. If (when) we go again, it will be for a full week at minimum.

We got to Hollywood Studios before rope drop because we needed to get to the Rock’n’Rollercoaster as soon as they opened. I used my Tier 1 FastPass for the Buzz Lightyear ride and since we had our special Star Wars tour starting at 2:45 we couldn’t afford to stand in line for too long. Just like at Magic Kingdom, they let us part of the way into the park before officially opening and then held us at the end of the street until the real rope drop. We ended up stopped right in from of Starbucks, so I popped in and got two enormous mint frappuccinos (enormous frappuccinos are still only worth 1 snack credit each on the dining plan) and we got our morning buzz while we waited. It was perfect. Once 9 am hit, we scurried over to Rock’n’Rollercoaster where E and Evan basically walked right on. Caroline, Linc, Finn and I watched the line go from nothing to SUPER long, back to reasonable length, so my advice would be if you’re running 5-10 minutes late and aren’t there right at open, give it a few minutes before getting in line.

I rider switched with E, rode Rock’n’Rollercoaster with Evan (who loved it), and then we ran – almost literally – around the park to get all our other non-Star Wars stuff done as fast as possible.

We had a Fastpass for Disney Jr Live On Stage. We didn’t actually need the FP but I super recommend the show if you have little kids (or even medium sized kids) who like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sofia the First or Doc McStuffins. Linc lost his mind and even the big kids had a great time.

PhotoPass pictures from meeting Pluto:

We had another character meal planned for lunch at Hollywood & Vine. Sometimes it’s a Minnie Mouse and Friends lunch, but this month it was Disney Jr characters again. It worked out perfectly for us because we didn’t have time to do the character spots outside the show but all those same characters were at lunch. Once again the food was good, they let the babies eat as much as they wanted, and the characters were great with the kids. It wasn’t crowded and it took the right amount of time – long enough for us to take a rest in the air conditioning, but not so much time we got off schedule for the day.

We also stood in line to meet Buzz and Woody. 10000% worth it. 1000000000%. No matter how long that line is, we will always stand in it.

PhotoPass Photos:

Look at this photo. I can’t even handle this photo:

Right outside Buzz and Woody we ran into Green Army Man who was also an amazing meet. The kids played with him for a long time.

In the afternoon we had a Tower of Terror FastPass. E was kind enough to let me go with the kids first, but then we ran out of time for his turn before our Star Wars tour. (Don’t worry, he gets to ride it eventually.)

Caroline and I loved it. Evan, not so much.

And then it was time for our Star Wars Tour!

Here’s our two sentence review of the tour: It was fine, but not the best to do with small kids. It was ABSOLUTELY worth the money.

And here’s the long version: They took good care of us. We got ponchos and water and a chance to preorder whatever food we wanted for everyone (including babies). There were electronic earpieces so we could hear the tour. Our guides, Freddy and Harry knew a TON of stuff about Star Wars, the history of Stars Wars as it related to Disney, trivia about the rides and shows and other Stars Wars stuff. We got a tour of the concept art gallery, front row seats to the two Star Wars films, a ride on Star Tours, and a delicious dinner at the Backlot Express where we were stopped and questioned by Storm Troopers (which was super cool). Unfortunately, the weather was bad so the afternoon First Order parade was canceled, which was, like, the #2 reason I signed up for the tour. Even worse news, the Jedi Training also got canceled because of the rain, and that was definitely the #1 reason we paid for the tour. I started to worry we were going to miss everything I had really cared about and I was pretty bummed. We were not the only people on the tour missing those things – half the people didn’t care because they were grown-ups, but everyone with kids had signed up basically just so they could get guaranteed spots in Jedi Training. (Freddy and Harry told us that was a surprise to Disney. They thought the tour would be mostly adults super into Star Wars who wouldn’t care at all about missing Jedi Training, so having to come up with a way to fix it for people like us was hard.) But during dinner when they warned us things might not work out they also said: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” And they absolutely did.

It turns out Freddy had the power to give us pretty much anything. He looked at our schedule for the next day, booked us spots in the 10:10 am Jedi Training, changed our scheduled Epcot Fastpasses to magical, open-ended Fastpasses that worked on any ride at any time in Epcot, and then set up meets with Darth Vader not once but TWICE during the tour. He said if we hadn’t had park tickets for Thursday he could have gotten those for us too. And when we got to our rescheduled Jedi Training, one of our new tour friends told us his request had been both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren in the show, so that happened too (those photos are in tomorrow’s recap). Freddy even showed up on Thursday to make sure we were 100% happy. The level of customer service was everything you would expect from the most magical place on Earth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

 

In the evening, we went to the dessert party in the Launch Bay. You can buy tickets to JUST the dessert party, and I would absolutely recommend it. We might even do it again, because it was so fun.

I had read on some blogs that if you bring things to trade with the Jawas who hang out in this area they will give you droid parts or other small things. There isn’t a lot of advice on the internet about what, exactly, they will trade for, so I brought a baggie full of various things: dress up beads, marbles, Happy Meal toys, and a sparkly hair tie. The Jawa was super aloof and uninterested in us, refused to trade and kept walking away, so went to the dessert party. A while later we came back and Caroline tried trading her hair tie. The Jawa was much nicer that time, checking out her trade and admiring it because it was very sparkly. He (she?) ended up trading Caroline the tie for a glowing bouncy ball. Then the Jawa started “talking” to Lincoln, and a romance was born. They LOVED each other. It was honestly the cutest thing I have ever seen. E took some video of them, but there was another 10 or 15 minutes where they played together. The Jawa pretended he was going to keep Linc and I am pretty sure Linc was totally ok with that. Then I offered to take the Jawa home to Connecticut, but he didn’t know where that was. I told him “a galaxy far, far away” and we had a moment where he was very excited about my answer. At the end of the video you can see the Jawa tell us to wait there, which we did. He went and found another glowing ball to give Lincoln, even without anything in return.

Seriously, it was one of the absolute highlights of our trip and maybe the best character interaction the whole week. There were other kids and grown-ups around who took pictures with the Jawa or tried to trade – including one adult man who tried to boss the Jawa around – but none of them had much luck. I would recommend being as nice and gentle as possible. DON’T be pushy. The Jawa did not like pushy people. And bring the sparkliest things you can think of to trade.

Part of the dessert party was getting to meet BB8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. Because we were tour guests we didn’t have to wait at all, but even for just dessert party guests there was almost no line. That meant Chewy could spend a ton of time with the kids and again Disney showed off why their character interactions are SO amazing.

After dessert and drinks (alcohol for the grown-ups, all included) we were collected by the Storm Troopers and marched out to the special center-of-the-park viewing area for the Star Wars Gallactic Specactular. I am pretty sure there are regular Hollywood Studios fireworks earlier in the evening, but we didn’t see them. The Star Wars ones were very cool.

hollywood studios star wars day

 

hollywood studios star wars day

hollywood studios star wars day

And here are our PhotoPass pictures from all the Star Wars stuff:

And then we were done with Hollywood Studios day! Although we weren’t quite done with Hollywood Studios, because we came back for Jedi Training in the morning. Up next: our crazy Thursday where we went to THREE parks.

p.s. We did see Indiana Jones in there…somewhere. But we missed The Muppets and The Great Movie Ride. Next time!

p.p.s. I would REALLY love if they added Rey and Jyn Erso character meets. I realize they don’t currently have any Star Wars face characters (like the princesses in other parks) but maybe once they open Star Wars Land. I’ll go back pretty much just for those photos.

Related posts:

My Week(137) in iPhone Photos
Gingers At The Shore {Rocky Neck State Park}
Summer is Almost Here
Get Adobe Flash player