The Griswolds and The Bradys hit Disney: Part I

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. You’re surprised something by me showed up on your blog reader. I’ll admit it, I’ve been a little bit incognito. If you check out the kids’ individual pages, you’ll find some comments and funny fodder. But as most of you know, I’ve been busy trying to ensure that Thing One and Thing Two didn’t inadvertently smother their now four-month-old sister, Thing Three. It’s been an interesting four months, let me tell you, full of sleepless nights, poop, some crying, poop, spit-up, dairy allergies, and — wouldn’t you know it — more poop! It’s been a wild and crazy ride, one that I wouldn’t change but that takes me back to my comments on Baby X’s page, so check that one out.

However, I finally have something I really must blog about: Disney World. Our family — aka the Griswolds — finally make the trip to that money sucker in the south: Wallyworld. Well not Wallyworld — Disney World — but close enough. But we didn’t do it alone, oh no. This is the tale of the Griswolds AND the Bradys taking on Orlando: 8 adults, 8 kids and 1 infant. Cousins, cousins of cousins, and in-laws. Yikes. The following is a summary of our time in the incredible Florida heat.

Takin' the castle by storm Back row, L=>R: Nate, Victor, Alex, Jack, Lauren, Will Front Row, L=>R: Elle, Matt

Takin’ the castle by storm
Back row, L=>R: Nate, Victor, Alex, Jack, Lauren, Will
Front Row, L=>R: Elle, Matt

Day 1 & 2: While Carole’s 1/2 of the Brady Bunch flew, Mike’s 1/2, Alice and Sam the butcher (aka my in-laws), and we Griswolds decided it would be just swell to caravan down the eastern states. I actually have little complaint here. Since Nate wanted to ride with his cousins in the mini-van, and Matt chose time with Alice and Sam in the pick-up, we Griswolds had only one kid in tow for the majority of the trip: Peyton. So yeah, there was the occasional cry for a bottle and the smell of baby gas, but mostly it was quiet. Probably the quietest I’ve had a car ride since 2005! I actually read a book! I listened to music that wasn’t sung by Laurie Berkner or the Sesame Street crew, and I took in the sights as we cruised through the Virginias and the Carolinas.

The highlight of the drive was the lack of my need to repeat: “Stop it,” “No,” and “Don’t hit your brother,” three hundred times. Plus since the kids abandoned car I got to personally eat all the cool snacks I packed for them. Probably the biggest negative was our stop at my least-favorite restaurant of all time, Cracker Barrel (where I got away with only buying each boy one thing at the dreaded “booby trap of crap” as you walk in the door) and my father-in-law’s complete lack of a lead foot. Nevertheless, we eventually made it to our destination: A re-brokered week in a time-share at The Bonnet Creek Resort by Wyndham, right on Disney property.

Sunday, Day 3, Animal Kingdom

Peyton and I on safari.

Peyton and I on safari.

 

Sunday began with Alice and Sam abandoning ship for the closest E.R., as Alice arrived feeling a little under-the-weather, the cause of which was never really determined, but brings me to my first lesson:

Lesson #1: Do NOT go to Disney in August. The heat, my God the heat. Despite my incredible efforts to stay hydrated, by the time I arrived back to Del Bocca Vista on Day 3 my pee was nothing short of bright yellow. Since I didn’t get to nurse Peyton all day, my boobs should have resembled a Hooter-girl by the time the park closed, but they were strangely deflated and dried up like the rest of me. And Animal Kingdom was a short day.

Lesson #2: On the first day at the first park, do NOT head to a ride that your small-for-his-age kindergartener cannot ride (Expedition Everest). You’ll be seeing and feeling the results of that meltdown the whole d**n day.

But otherwise, Animal Kingdom… some pretty neat stuff, but overall a really over-priced zoo. Sure, we all had a great time. Sure, Peyton was a champ who never fussed despite the H-E-A-T. Sure, Elle did wander off and was lost for about ten minutes, during which we began an Elle-hunt in the rain. Sure, the Kilimanjaro Safari and Dino rides were pretty awesome. Sure… sure… sure. I’m glad we had the chance to try Animal Kingdom, which didn’t exist the last time I went to Disney back in the Stone Ages, but I was never so happy to ditch when the park closed at seven and head to a Hibachi Grill off-site. I didn’t think I could handle another frozen and thawed Uncrustable PBJ.

Lesson #3: Skip Animal Kingdom, or make it a 1/2 day combined with Hollywood Studios or a water-park.

Monday, Day 4, Blizzard Beach

Monday began with a rational debate over which of Disney’s water-parks we should visit, Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach — a debate I lost so we headed to a “frozen ski resort” in the middle of August. As Peyton really hasn’t put her sea legs to much use, and Alice needed some recovery time, this was the only day Peyton stayed back at the condo. I don’t have any pictures at Blizzard Beach, as we Griswolds have a peppered history of camera versus water where two cameras have lost. As it is, I almost had to upgrade my text phone to a child-neglect-encouraging smart phone, as my phone got pretty darn wet when I forgot an important lesson:

Lesson #4: It rains every day in Orlando. Most of the time, it’s nothing more than a 5-10 minute squirt.  Our day at Blizzard Beach was the only day the squirt took on a down-pour quality. As a matter of fact, we pretty much rode everything on the red slopes with our eyes closed, to avoid the pummeling of rain drops. However, a good time was, again, had by all at the water park, and Blizzard Beach turned out to be a good choice. Plenty of family stuff to do, and as it turned out only about three people in our party of fourteen wanted to brave the steepest and wettest of the slopes. Most of us were content with some tubing and the wave pool. The water shoes I never bought weren’t necessary, as it was a balmy low 80s thanks to the rain: Not hot enough to scramble an egg on the pavement. But the second time the rides closed for a half-hour from the threat of a thunder-storm, we decided to head out. But there was one more lesson from Blizzard Beach:

Lesson #5: Make sure your kids don’t see the giant sand pail full of ice cream, complete with a shovel for a spoon. Lesson #5.5: Don’t promise your kids said pail of deliciousness, ’cause you won’t stop hearing “Can we get ice cream now? Can we get ice cream now?” until you break down and buy that $10 pail of ice cream. Lesson #5.75: Don’t buy that pail of ice cream that will feed your whole family and even think you can stay on your dairy-free diet. Ooops. It was so worth it, though!

Orgasm in a souvenir pail.

Orgasm in a souvenir pail.

Tuesday, Day 5, The Magic Kingdom

Matt "smitten" with Princess Jasmine.

Matt “smitten” with Princess Jasmine.

We began our trip to the heart of Disney with a monorail trip, followed by a sit-down breakfast in the castle. This was a great way to meet the Disney characters, since they always seemed to be walking at a break-neck speed despite the heat of their costumes. During meals at the castle you get to meet all the princesses. Princess Jasmine was Matt’s favorite. Princess Jasmine was every guy in the room’s favorite, including that Disney staffer looking on wistfully in the background. (Remember those Griswold scenes with Chevy Chase and Christie Brinkley?) Princess Jasmine — what can I say.

Lesson #6: Your 8-year-old kid, who never gave two s**ts about the Disney princesses before, will suddenly find himself wailing in despair that you failed to purchase him an autograph book so that he could collect all the princesses’ signatures. Lesson #6.5: You can stop the wailing by suggesting he get his menu autographed. Completely does the trick.

"On guard!"

“On guard!”

Lesson #7: All tears over the princesses’ autographs will cease when your boys are given their cheap castle sword. Lesson #7.5: The castle swords are C-H-E-A-P, and at least one of the crew will break his within hours of leaving the castle.  Lesson #7.75: You won’t hear the end of the sword breaking until he buys a new sword outside the pirates ride. Ahhhhh Disney merchandise.

We all had a lot of fun at the Magic Kingdom. I would say the highlights for all were Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and Under the Sea. Peyton had a starring role in the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show, where she was recognized on screen as a “cute little baby, fresh out of the oven.” Matt, my kid who wants to be a train when he grows up, could have ridden the monorail and the train all day. Nate remained naturally obsessed with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and his swords. As usual, I remained strangely fascinated with It’s a Small World and the Carousel of Progress (a blissfully long, air-conditioned ride/show).

We had planned on spending two days at the Magic Kingdom, but thanks to the magic of Disney’s Fast Pass, we were able to pack it all into one day, as long as we kept up a frantic pace in the middle of that d**n heat. By late afternoon, this had Matt clamoring to go back to the condo, and “Sam the butcher” was crabbier than Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid. So grandpa, grandma, Matt and Peyton called it quits and headed out early for the monorail, while the rest of us trooped onward, which brings me back to Lesson #1: Do NOT go to Disney in August, as well as Lesson #4. It rains every day in Orlando. Thankfully it cooled off after the days’ ten-minute squirt, unfortunately shortly before our Fast Pass window opened up for Splash Mountain.

The rest of us quit Disney World during the middle of the finale light parade, which we had to cut through via crossing guards to escape the Magic Kingdom. We headed back to Bonnet Creek and got some pool-side tiki bar take-out, where our extremely awesome surfer-type bartender/waiter was strangely reminiscent of “Crush” from Finding Nemo.

Nate & I pose briefly with over-sided mouse shrubbery.

Nate & I pose briefly with over-sized mouse shrubbery.

… To be continued shortly when the Griswolds and Bradys continue to hit Disney, Part II…

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dawn Jones
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 09:38:08

    Love reading your posts. Can’t wait for the second half.

    Reply

  2. Jennifer
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 11:42:38

    Great recap. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy animal kingdom – we only had a little over half a day last time and wished we had more time. It’s definitely more of a “wander and enjoy” park which doesn’t always work with kiddos. Here’s hoping my two kids will tolerate two days when we go!

    Reply

  3. Jenny Whitehead
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 13:54:27

    Just makes me NOT want to go worse that I already do NOT want to go 😉 Even though it sounds like you had fun… it also
    sounds like a lot of work. I think I am the only person in this whole world that could care less about going to Disney. Glad you had fun & made memories, thanks for sharing 😉

    Reply

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