Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Our First Disney Trip: Hollywood Studios

Friday, 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.

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Lake Compounce 2017

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Lake Compounce provided us with free tickets to visit this month, but all opinions, statements, and photos are my own.

Here is the Top 10 List of reasons we had a great time at Lake Compounce:

  1. Right in the middle of Connecticut, so it’s close to us and lots of other places.
  2. Tons of rides in the kid section that everyone over age 2 could ride without grown-ups.
  3. Super fun scary roller coasters for the grown-ups.
  4. Wicked friendly employees.
  5. Lots of shade and places to sit down when you’re tired.
  6. Free fountain drinks all over the park so no one ever complained they were thirsty.
  7. Stroller-friendly.
  8. Nursing-friendly.
  9. Parent-friendly (My husband changed all the diapers all day, because the men’s room had changing tables.)
  10. Just the right size to spend the whole day.

E and I took Evan to Lake Compounce several years ago, back when he was Baby Evan, and had a great time then too. But I had a very tiny Baby Caroline and didn’t get to ride very many things myself, so I mostly remember just the toddler area. Since then, they’ve done a bunch of renovations, added new coasters and spruced things up so even though it’s the oldest amusement park in the country it’s beautiful and clean. Don’t worry, about the nostalgia though, because it’s still got plenty of that.

We got there at 11 am on a Sunday and the kids walked on to every ride until at least 1 pm. They’re the only ones on those drums!

The only photo of me from the day: Caroline LOVED this thing and was super mad she couldn’t go on the grown-up version.

We got free soda while we waited for E to ride Phobia. It took me several more hours to decide if I was also going to ride Phobia. I did. It was fun.

Praise hands for this Joovy stroller we still love. Finn was happy riding/sleeping/chilling in it all day, between rides in the Tula so I could nurse.

After Evan suddenly, drastically changed his mind about roller coasters (Saturday: “I WANT TO RIDE THEM ALL!” Sunday: Won’t even get on the kid-sized coaster Linc rode with his arms up) I wasn’t sure he would try any of the rides. But he loved the log flume.

Evan also loved the Ghost Hunt ride, probably because he likes shooting games. I did not partake, because haunted houses are not my thing. Caroline and Linc both rode, because they take after their father.

That is possibly the best picture I’ve ever taken.

I don’t remember the dinosaurs from the last time we visited, but the kids loved it.

Caroline clearly didn’t enjoy herself at all.

Despite Evan’s skeptical face, we rode Thunder Rapids twice in a row and got SOAKED. It was great.

The lake/waterpark opens this weekend. I promised the kids we could come back for it later this summer.

I bought extra clothes JUST IN CASE they got wet, which is why they’re in different clothes than the beginning of the day.

Goodbye Lake Compounce! See you again soon!

If you’re in the New England area, I would definitely recommend making the trip to Bristol to have your own super fun day. You can use this link/code to get a discount on your internet tickets:

Link: https://www.lakecompounce.com/blogreader?promocode=BeBehSBlog17

Promocode: BeBehSBlog17

Thank you again to Lake Compounce for providing us with the tickets (p.s. kids under 3 are free)!

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Summer is Almost Here

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Huge thanks to Gymboree for once again sponsoring this post and outfitting my constantly-growing children.

We are T-minus 4 days away from the unofficial start of summer around here because this weekend our lake opens! I’m not actually sure how we survived summer before we had a lake membership, but for the past few years it has been a lifesaver for hot summer days, the cure for too much screen time, a meeting place where we almost always find friends to play with and a much-needed break for me from cleaning up the same mess day after day.

But it’s not just the lake I look forward to in the summer. I’m an ocean devotee – the sand, the salt, the smell, all of it is necessary to my happiness. Just knowing I can be at the ocean in a few minutes makes me feel better. It’s why I don’t know if I could ever live in a non-coastal state. How do you handle so much dry land?

Thanks to a few true summer weather days last week we’ve already been to the beach once this May and are going back during Memorial Day weekend to share it with some flyover state relatives coming to visit. They specifically requested the ocean be on the itinerary, so we’ll probably take them to Ocean Beach where they can get the full Atlantic experience: cold water, hot sand, the boardwalk, the rickety rides, the overpriced ice cream. It’s all important. And thanks to my friends at Gymboree the kids are going to look stylish and patriotic for all our weekend plans. Their new Star Spangled Days collection is perfect for Memorial Day, 4th of July, or any summer day where you’re feelin’ the red, white and blue vibes.

Caroline’s favorites from here look are the sunglasses and her “high heel” wedges.

 4

You can find the shoes here, which you should definitely do because they’re so adorable. They also come in big kid sizes.

One of my favorite things about Gymboree is that they still make clothes for ALL my kids so it’s easy to match even when my cool-guy 8-year-old maybe doesn’t want to wear exactly the same shirt as the 2-year-old. Although who doesn’t want super sweet glasses like those?

My very attractive and well-behaved children are the perfect fashion models. In opposite world.

Evan has worn that hoodie every day since we got it, which is about as strong of a recommendation as anyone can give.

Four more days before Memorial Day, 18 more days before we ditch school to start our summer vacation, 43 days until the 4th of July, and my fingers are crossed every single one of those days is perfect New England summer weather. What are your plans for the holiday weekend? Is it summer yet where you are?

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Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

This week feels like it happened months ago. I was SUCH a mess just seven days ago, I can’t even believe I didn’t end up in the hospital. Fingers crossed that’s as sick as I get this pregnancy, I can’t handle any more than that.

You’ll notice a lot of messy house and couch pictures this week as a result of my convalescence. At least let’s pretend that’s why.

Sunday:

sunday1

View from my sick bed

 

sunday2

My children being kind and loving

 

sunday3

My children being annoying because I don’t have the energy to stop them

 

Monday:

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Big kid swings

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Little kid naps

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Big kids nap too

Tuesday:

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He’s a Target Pro

tuesday2

With their Vacation Bible School goodies

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He insists on walking up the stairs like this all the time now

 

Wednesday:

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New pregnancy craving: fresh bread

wednesday2

Seems like a perfectly good place to park

wednesday3

Evening lake life’

Thursday:

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HASHTAG REAL LIFE HASHTAG MY CHILDREN ARE THE WORST

thursday2

Sea Swirl is my favorite

thursday3

They’re all obsessed with this statue in Mystic

 

Friday:

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A week of VBS plus lake equals SO TIRED

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Bread thief

 

friday3

Storm’s a’comin’

 

Saturday:

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I’m currently obsessed with film

saturday2

Caroline is obsessed with changing diapers (we have a rash situation, I’m still using cloth mostly)

saturday3

You should smell this lavender farm. It’s AMAZING.

 

Tomorrow Caroline starts Seaport Camp, which means she’s going to be an exhausted mess basically every night. But that just means she (and I) can go to bed extra early. I am toooootally fine with that. I’m getting to the point where I want to sleep as much as possible because I know in another 8 weeks I won’t be sleeping again for 2 years. I’m not really looking forward to that part of having a baby.

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Monday, June 6th, 2016

I actually couldn’t handle looking at vacation pictures yesterday when I was supposed to do this, because it was dreary and pouring rain and my house was a disaster and my children made me insane and basically it was too depressing to think that THIS is my life versus the beach. But today I am facing reality. At least until Friday. Then school is out and we can pretend life is all just vacation again.

Sunday:

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Bubbles on the pool deck

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He actually DOES like lunch, I swear

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Bo ssam: aka the MOST delicious meal I eat all year

Monday:

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As long as it’s not ACTUALLY raining, it’s a beach day

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Tiny frog friend in the outdoor shower

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Hand and foot, because we force everyone we know to play

Tuesday:

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Vacation breakfast of champions

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So much driving

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That face is because this is NOT the beach house

Wednesday:

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MORE DRIVING

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A+ relaxing

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Embracing lake life

Thursday:

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Not bad

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Super happy it’s almost summer

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Tents for Linc’s upcoming party

Friday:

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Cannot be trusted with my iced coffee

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I think she’s tired of pictures

friday3

MORE CARDS BECAUSE ALWAYS

Saturday:

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Visiting the cows

saturday2

That was supposed to be MY beach lounger

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Inescapable floaty is inescapable

Did I mention this is the LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL? I’m feeling a little unprepared for summer (who is going to feed these kids all day?) but I’m so ready to not get up at 6:15 every morning. Plus summer is exhausting, so EVERYONE will do more sleeping. More sleeping is basically my only goal in life right now at 28 weeks pregnant.

 

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