Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa Burns' House

On Christmas Eve we went to Grandma & Grandpa Burns' house. While there, Santa took some time out of delivering presents to stop by and give Syd and her cousins Zane and Scarlett theirs in person. As you can see the kids got to talk to him and get their pictures taken with him. It was a great surprise.

The kids had a good time together. Syd and Zane played together the whole time. Grandma and Grandpa Burns got them these very cool trampolines. You can see from the picture below that they loved them. They spent most of the night playing on them.

It was a good time with lots of surprises and fun... a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Disney World Trip 2007

We decided to go to Disney World again this year after receiving and offer we couldn't refuse from Disney. We got an amazing deal and stayed on the Disney property (at the Pop Century Resort). We flew out of Detroit on December 16th. For those of you living in the Detroit area you know that that was the day Northwest Ohio and Southern Michigan got hit with a crazy blizzard. It took us 2 hours to get to the airport (usually takes around an hour), but we made it on time for our flight. Of course, our flight was delayed 2 and 1/2 hours because the flight crew couldn't make it in on time because of the weather. I won't tell you how angry we and everyone else were that we risked our lives and left an hour early for the airport to make it in and the people for whom it was their job did not. As you can see it was pretty bad weather-wise. It took as an extra hour to get in the air because our plane had to be de-iced before we could take off. That was actually pretty cool to watch. The plane in this picture is not ours, it's the one we watched try to pull out for an hour. They were having a terrible time getting it backed up. The crew on the ground were throwing snowballs at the kids watching through the window. Syd thought this was great.

Anyway, we got into Orlando in the evening and settled into the resort. We visited Epcot that night, but made it an early night because we were all very tired from our long day (we got up at 5:00 AM). In the blogs to follow I will go through the trip park by park. These will not be in order by day because with our Park Hopper tickets we were able to visit as many parks as we wanted each day. Every day but Friday we went to one park during the day and another at night. So, again, these are events and pictures per park, not per day.


Magic Kingdom at Disney World

Syd's favorite Disney park by far is Magic Kingdom. This is perfectly understandable since it is the one totally oriented toward kids, especially young kids. There are six different sections of the Magic Kingdom: Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toontown Fair, and Tomorrowland. There is also Main Street, USA, which is what you enter into. We spent most of our time in Mickey's Toontown Fair and Fantasyland, which are at the back of the park. So, we took the very convenient Walt Disney World Railroad train from the front to the back to get there faster and easier. We spent most of our time there because that is where most of the rides and attractions designed for Syd's age are located. Her favorite ride was Dumbo (we have no idea why) and in all we rode it 4 times. She also really liked the Peter Pan's Flight ride (again, not sure why) and Cinderella's Golden Carrousel and we rode both of those twice. The most exciting news is that she rode her first roller coaster - The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm. She loved it so much the first time that she went on it again. If you want footage of this, Dad recorded both rides. In the first one he sat in front of Syd and Mom and got our facial reactions. And in the second one, he sat behind us (we sat in the very front seat). Syd held her hands up in the air almost the whole time. It was very cool, since Zack and I love roller coasters and we had no idea what we would do if she did not. She also forced us to ride It's a Small World, the most annoying ride ever anywhere. If you're a Simpson's fan you should think of the episode where they go to the amusement park and Bart gets kidnapped and put in the ride where they all sing - it's basically the same type of torture and like in that episode, you don't want to drink the water. We also went on the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, which was pretty fun. And the best thing we saw in Magic Kingdom (for Dad and Mom anyway), was the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor. It's this really cool show that has animated characters doing a comedy show. But the super cool part is that even though they are animated it is totally interactive with the audience. The characters react to and interact with the audience. So every show is different. Syd liked this one too, because when it was done she said, "Is it over already? I want to see more." It was very cool and very innovative.

Magic Kingdom is also where the castle that you always see on TV and in the movies is... right in the middle. There was this very cool Christmas show and fireworks display at the end of each night. The first pictures are of the castle unlit and lit. It was very beautiful.

Here is Syd enjoying Dumbo the first and second time we rode it. This was on two different days. As you can see she is loving it.

Here we are on Cinderella's Carrousel.

And here we are on the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.

They also have parades everyday at every park. Here is part of the Magic Kingdom parade.

While at the Magic Kingdom we ate at a place called Tony's Town Square, which had Italian food in the tradition of "Lady and the Tramp". It was really good.

Animal Kingdom at Disney World

Syd really liked the Animal Kingdom park at Disney as well. This park is divided into six sections: DinoLand USA, Asia (where the biggest roller coaster is - it goes through Mt. Everest), Rafiki's Planet Watch, Africa, Camp-Minnie-Mickey, and Discovery Island (where you can see the Tree of Life). At the start of the park is a section called the Oasis. We visited Animal Kingdom on the first full day we were at Disney. This was Monday, the 17th. It was really cold (at least for Florida). The high that day was 45 degrees and it was windy. Needless to say we weren't really prepared for that kind of weather so we had to buy some essentials at the park. Fortunately, we had packed some long pants and sweatshirts for Syd so, after buying her a Mickey Mouse hat and gloves and a Disney hockey jersey she was warm enough. Dad and Mom wore shorts and sweatshirts and weren't quite as warm, but Dad also bought a Mickey hat to try and keep warm. It wasn't your typical Florida day, but we had fun anyway as you can see from the pictures below.

We saw a lot of really cool stuff at the Animal Kingdom. Syd's favorite section was DinoLand USA where the Dino-Rama had an amusement park for kids, a huge play area, and a Boneyard Dig Site.

In the Dino-Rama area we rode the Triceratop Spin, which is basically just like Dumbo, but with dinosaurs. and a few other little rides.

Then we played for a long time in the huge play area.

Then Syd and Dad worked in the Boneyard Dig Site.

We also all got tattos while at the Animal Kingdom. As you can see Syd got one related to High School Musical... "Getcha Head in the Game".

We also went to see "Finding Nemo - The Musical," which we really enjoyed. Even Dad thought it was a great show. It was very much in the tradition of the Lion King musical (if you have seen any part of that) with people carrying large characters above their heads. And the show is basically the movie, but abbreviated and turned into a musical. It was really good. Syd loved it.

We caught the parade as well. We were on a quest all week to get our picture taken with Donald Duck and never did get the chance, so this is the closest we got to him.

And we ended our time at the Animal Kingdom eating at a Chinese restaurant in Asia called the Yak & Yeti.

We also rode on a ride called Dino-Sue, which we thought would be too scary for Syd, but she loved it. We're so happy to find she loves the thrill rides. Cedar Point here we come.

The Animal Kingdom also has the Kilimanjaro Safari where you go through the Afica section in a truck and see actual wild animals roaming. We didn't have time to get to this in our day at the park, but plan on doing it next time and have been told that it is great.

Disney-MGM Studios

Disney-MGM Studios (soon to be renamed, Disney Hollywood Studios after the first of the year)is Mom's favorite park and Syd seems to really like it as well. Everything in the park is themed around movies and television, which explains why Mom loves it so much. Instead of areas, this park is divided into streets: Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, Animation Courtyard, Mickey Avenue, Commissary Lane, Streets of America, and Echo Lake.

The Burns family favorites in this park include the following:

-Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
-The Great Movie Ride
-Star Tours
-Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
-The Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour
-Muppet Vision 3-D
-Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage
-Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (though we didn't get a chance to ride this one because Syd is not tall enough)
-Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (again, Syd's not tall enough for this one so we didn't ride it this time)

Our favorite restaurant at MGM is the Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre. Here they seat you in cars and serve you like you're at a drive in while you watch a huge movie screen up front playing old silly sci-fi movies and shorts. It is very cool and the shakes are incredible. Last time we were there (2 years ago) Syd, at 2 1/2, ended up drinking almost all of my shake. So this year we got her her own. I threatened to drink all of hers this time.

Syd's absolute favorite part of MGM Studios was the Wildcats High School Musical 2: School's Out show. Five times a day a float with people singing and dancing would come down Hollywood Blvd and settle in front of the magic hat (from Fantasia) to do a whole show based on the two High School Musical movies. Since these movies are her obsession she enjoyed this most of all. In fact, we saw it three times because she loved it so much. These pictures are from when we sat in the front row for it.

The other cool thing MGM had going on for the Christmas season was the Osborne Family Festival of Lights. On one end of the park there was this amazing city street that was covered in millions of lights. Some family by the name of Osborne had decorated their entire house and all of their property with these lights and then donated them to Disney. The coolest part was that they were timed with music. It was very very cool and Syd loved it. She even sang along to Feliz Navidad (if you want to video let me know).

We also had time to shop in Al's Toy Barn from Toy Story fame.

Epcot at Disney World

Epcot is Dad's favorite park because it includes science stuff and beer from eleven different countries in the World Showcase. The park has the science and technology section up front and then a lake with eleven areas, each representing a different country. The countries included are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada (where there is an amazing steak place). They also have this amazing show they do every night in the lake called Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, that has a barge, cool lights, and lots of fireworks. It's very cool.

We rode a couple of the rides here. One is Mission: Space. On this one you go into a closed in, dark simulator and your crew of astronauts goes on a mission to Mars. This was one again that we weren't sure Syd would like, but she loved it and kept saying, "That was awesome!" The other ride we went on was Test Track, which is one where you ride in a car that they're putting through tests. You go off the road and almost crash, go back and forth between cones, do a crash test, and it ends by going 80-100 miles per hour around a track, making sharp turns. They describe it as the longest, fastest attraction in Disney history. Syd was just tall enough for this one and we let her watch if from outside to be sure she wanted to do it. She said yes, so we went. Well, it was nightime so it was dark and she was sitting in the backseat behind a neck rest that was blocking her view. She really didn't like it at all and we suspect it was for two reasons. One, she couldn't see what was coming and everything was a total surprise to her and two, it went way faster than she ever thought it would and she's never done anything like that before. Her belly hurt after and she didn't want to do it again. Guess she wasn't quite ready for that one. Oh well, we'll try again next time we go.

We also looked around Innoventions, which is this really cool place (well, actually two places - East and West) where they teach kids about science and technology. It also had a section this time where they were teaching kids all about fire safety with some really cool technology.

One of Syd's favorite things in Epcot was the The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Turtle Talk With Crush. The ride includes sitting in a big "clamobile" that takes you underwater to view Marlin searching for Nemo. The ride includes real fish in a tank and the animated fish (looking very real) "in the tank" as well. The pictures are of the big aquariums they have outside the ride and the diver that we got to see emersed in a big tank they have. She came out after and took pictures with the kids.

We also walked around all of the countries. We spent the most time in Japan where there is the largest collection of Hello Kitty items you could ever imagine AND an assortment of snacks and candies made in Japan.

We were told, by almost everyone, that the coolest attraction at Epcot is Soarin'. We went to get on it around 5:00 PM and there was a 2 hour wait, so we got Fast Passes for it that would allow us to get right on between 8:15 and 9:15 PM. Well, this was Thursday - our last full day at Disney - and we were all really tired, so by the time we ate and walked around more Syd, especially, just wanted to go back to the resort and rest. Dad and Mom really wanted to ride Soarin', but we decided to let Syd make the final decision so we didn't end up riding it. We'll put that on our list of "have to" for next time.

Pictures with Characters at Disney World

While at Disney we took every opportunity to get our picture taken with the characters.

Animal Kingdom is pretty cool because they have a section in Camp Minnie-Mickey where Winnie the Pooh and his friends Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet stand in one spot from open to 4:00. So, you can go there and stand in line to have your picture taken with them. Magic Kingdom has a similar section where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy stand all day for pictures. In the other parks the characters are in set spaces around the park, but for very limited times. So it's hit or miss with the rest of them.

These are some pictures from Animal Kingdom.

We ran into Mickey & Pluto and Handy Manny at Disney-MGM Studios.

Chicken Little was hanging out at Magic Kingdom.

And we saw Mickey and Minnie at Disney's Beach Club Resort where we went for dinner one night. We took a boat from MGM to the resort and ate at a place called Cape May Cafe where they have a seafood buffet that is to die for.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Downtown Disney at Disney World there is a huge Legoland store. And in back they have tables where kids can build things. While we were there, Syd built a railroad track. This picture was sent to this blog through my camera phone in real time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Tree Shopping with Grandma & Grandpa Capwell

Mom and Syd went shopping for Christmas trees with Grandma & Grandpa Capwell over the weekend. Mom was so happy to have Syd see what it was like to get a real tree for Christmas since her Grinchy husband has settled us with a fake one. Mom really don't like fake trees, they're so... fake looking.
Anyway, the place we went to had acres of trees, a sleigh ride, free hot dogs and hot cocoa, and a campfire to keep you warm. The hot cocoa and fire were great since it was a very cold day, especially as the sun went down. Syd enjoyed two hotdogs while we were there. The farm also cuts the tree for you, shakes the tree to get excess needles off, wraps the tree, and loads it on your car all for the cost of the tree. Very cool...

Here are some pictures of Syd walking through the trees. She was very excited to see that some were smaller than her or her "perfect size".

We also took the sleigh ride, which was very fun. Syd loved it.

Then we sat around the fire to get warm before going home.

It was a great experience and we had a lot of fun.