Monday, September 14, 2009

Goodbye, Disney annual passes; we'll miss you

Last week we made our fifth and final trip to Disney World since purchasing annual passes last September. It's sad to see them expire, and there was much temptation to renew them at a discounted rate with three bonus months, but we held strong to our plan and let them go.

We had a wonderful time at the parks this past week. It was our longest trip yet -- eight days and seven nights. We've been there enough times that we know which things we do and don't want to do. We know which rides or characters you should skip if the line is too long (and we know what too long is). We know the layout of the parks without having to consult the maps. We know where the best places are to get the most out of your dining dollar. We're comfortable with leaving after a few hours and going back to our hotel for a nap. All of that makes for a much more relaxing and enjoyable time at a place that, for some, can be more stressful than it is fun.

But best of all, on this trip, we tried out a lot of things we'd never managed to fit in before. We visited the Hall of Presidents (and saw the new addition of Barack Obama -- even Emily gasped in awe when the curtain opened up to reveal all 44 animatronic characters), rode the Liberty Belle riverboat, explored Tom Sawyer Island, rode the Carousel of Progress, saw Finding Nemo the Musical, packed in for Fantasmic (a big let down, if you ask me), and lined up along the street for Spectromagic (hands-down the best parade).

Emily was finally big enough to ride Expedition Everest (she rode it 5 times), Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (once was enough for her), and Mission Space (she loved it). She also had multiple turns on Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours, and Test Track. She's turned into quite a little thrill seeker.

Kendall, in the meantime, just made it over the height requirement for Goofy's Barnstormer, though she did not enjoy her first mini-coaster experience (she's more partial to It's a Small World).

We met the fairies of Pixie Hollow, the characters from Winnie the Pooh, the cast of "Up," the "stepmothers" (as Kendall calls them) from "Cinderella," and a number of other characters. The face characters (those without costumed heads) really got into their roles and played it up for the girls.

Kendall and Drizella
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
We ate twice at Boma (our favorite restaurant), watched giraffes and wildebeast outside our window at Sanaa, watched belly dancing at Marrakesh (and Emily joined in), watched fish swim by at the Coral Reef, and had a wild time at Whispering Canyon Cafe. The food is always one of our favorite parts of the trip.

Here's a huge set of photos from our vacation.

I'm not sure when we'll get to return to Disney World, now that Emily is in school (they granted her an excused absence, but I don't expect that to continue happening). Plus with Misty's new job starting, she won't have as much time granted for vacations for a while. Nevertheless, our run was a blast while it lasted. I'm looking forward to our next trip, whenever that may be.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Vacation off to a grim start

Misty called me today, very upset, and told me, "I need you to leave work right now. I was just in a bad car wreck." These were grim words that no husband wants to hear, but I was out the door minutes later, headed to pick up Emily from school. Once I gathered Emily (who was in a very cheerful mood), I cautiously explained to her what had happened. She wanted to know if Mommy and Kendall were dead, and I explained that no, they were OK. It was so sad to hear her concern over something like that.

Since we were right by our State Farm office, I stopped in there to go ahead and get things rolling with insurance. I also used their phone to call Misty for an update (because even in 2009, I still don't have a cell phone). She wasn't able to tell me much because she was speaking to the police, but I learned that she'd hit someone else from behind, and she said her car was totaled.

Emily and I got back in my car and went to pick up Misty and Kendall from the scene of the accident. When we got there, the police officer was just finishing up paperwork with Misty, and the car had already been towed. Misty was visibly shaken, but seemed OK for the most part. She said that her nose hurt from where the airbag had hit her, but she didn't think it was broken. Kendall had a cut on her leg, but it wasn't anything major -- it had already scabbed over on its own (how she actually got cut is beyond me). I still haven't seen the car, but the officer shared his opinion that it would probably be considered totaled.

We piled the things Misty had snatched from her car into my trunk, and drove back to State Farm. Since we're supposed to be leaving for vacation this weekend, we were concerned about getting things in order as quickly as possible. Unfortunatly, we learned that our insurance does not cover a rental car (we've added it now, and the cost was next to nothing, but it won't do us any good this time). Now we're debating whether we drive my car (which is even smaller than Misty's) to Orlando or if we shell out the money for a rental.

It's not the best way to start out our vacation, obviously, but I'm trying to look on the bright side. While we're away, Misty has no need for her car, so at least she's not burdened in getting to work. In the hopes that the car can be repaired, the auto shop can be working on it while we're gone. Hopefully, our vacation will also help Misty take her mind off the trauma and stress of the accident. We'll see.