Disney World / DIsney Cruise
November 17 - December 8, 2011
 
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We took a few weeks to drive down to Walt Disney World with Brad's parents, Keith and Sandy. We stayed for a week at the parks then my parents, John and Phyllis, flew down and we went on the cruise while Keith and Sandy traveled around Florida on their own. We all met up again and Brad, Connor, Keith, Sandy, and I drove home while my parents flew home. It was a wonderful family vacation we will all never forget! I'm so glad both sets of grandparents had a chance to watch Connor experience the wonder and joy of Disney at this age.
 





Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Loved seeing the wildlife right outside our window and the rooms were spacious and nice. Here's a tip . . . you don't necessarily need to pay the extra amount to be on the "safari" side . . . my in-laws paid less to be on the "non-safari" side and had the exact same room and while their overall view wasn't as expansive, they saw just as many animals.






Animal Kingdom . . . my favorite park, mostly because it's the most photogenic. Makes me want to travel! Thinking of somewhere exotic, say Nepal or India, for later this year. We had a nice day with a bit of a light rain for a short time. Connor LOVED Kalahari Rapids and begged to go on all the other "big" rides as well. Loved the parade and had a great spot for some up-close pics of Mickey, Minnie, and the gang.




























Not sure we'll ever see Typhoon Lagoon in the same way again . . . Connor took off right as we entered the park and were changing at the lockers and ran into the huge wave pool. We were separated for nearly 30 minutes and had the whole emergency staff searching for him. Brad and I were in a panic. I found him just as a woman pulled out of the pool (5ft. depth) crying and struggling. The most terrifying moment I've had yet as a parent. Mommy gave him a very stern talking to about why we don't run off without telling someone and why we NEVER go into a pool unsupervised. He talked about the incident for days. Gulp . . .





Hollywood Studios . . . (aka "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones"). Spent a significant amount of time here over two days. Lots for Connor to love. Star Tours, Indiana Jones show (he's a true convert), Backlot Tours, the Movie Tour, and the Muppets Show more than once. Connor met a new friend and fellow Star Wars fan, Ben from Texas, while we stood in line for an hour for Star Tours. It was a blast watching him chat with this young boy and "connect" about all things Star Wars. Ben had a Darth Maul face that Connor later HAD to have as well. We also discovered "Jedi Training," for which we returned early (before the park opened) and RAN from the gate to the sign up line to get Connor into (what other measure of good parenting than a bit of pushing and shoving to get MY kid into the cool event). As it turns out, Connor was not quite ready for true Jedi knighthood. He got a little scared half way through the show and wanted to get off stage. He really enjoyed the remainder of the show from the audience side. Oh well, we had fun documenting every moment nonetheless. Brad and I rode our all-time favorite ride, Aerosmith's Rock-N-Roller Coaster. Always a rush!
































Magic Kindgom! What's not to love? We spent one and a half full days in the park (our full day was Thanksgiving). We had turkey drumsticks for lunch and ate Thanksgiving dinner in Cindarella's Castle. It was fun but a bit frustrating to wait over an hour WITH 8:20 reservations. But it was memorable. Had a great time on all the rides and visiting all the lands. Somehow, it felt like we spent most of the day stuck in Frontierland. Connor LOVED Splash Mountain (loves the water thrill rides). I took a pedometer and clocked close to 12 miles in this place! Even with the fatty food, it's beyond me how anyone GAINS weight on a vacation to Disney world.

Feeling pretty proud of my Cindarella's Castle pics (bottom of this portion). Used the 70-200mm 2.8 the whole trip and cranked it up to ISO 1600 at night. Stood very still (no tripod). Used the 85mm 1.2 during some days but it was a pain to lug around both so just used the 70-200mm. 5D bodies on both. Very well worth the weight of carrying both cameras. For me, a huge part of any vacation is getting to take great pics just for me!

































Epcot! Land of lands. Always so colorful! Brad and I ate at France one night by ourselves (made me SO miss living and traveling to Paris!) then we all spent a full day in Epcot our last day with our final dinner at Marrakesh. Traditionally, we've experienced low crowds the day after Thanksgiving but this year it was packed!

Disney screwed up our package and at first (they told us we had purchased 6 days in the parks when we had only purchased 5 . . . the manager went into his office and must have checked to see our history of spending and what we had spent on this trip alone) and after straightening it out, they gave all five us a FREE day (that's about $400 of tickets) PLUS several group "fast passes" to jump on all the hot rides. It was stressful but ended up being even more magical in the end. The best part for me was that I separated from the group for a bit to do nothing but photograph the park.





































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