Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Best Christmas Vacation Ever

We left for Florida on a Friday after school.  It is approximately a 9 hour drive.  We have had this vacation planned since July so we were all extremely excited.  Even though we had just visited Disney World in October, we have not been to Universal in 3 years.  We went when they first opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We stayed on Universal property at the Loews Royal Pacific.  It is a beautiful hotel that takes you to Hawaii.  This is one of my favorite Florida hotels out of all the Disney and Universal properties.  When you arrive this is what you see.  The bridge to the entry goes across a waterfall.  Serene and beautiful!



The hubby was exhausted after the drive but we checked in and got ready for our 2 day adventure of jam packed fun.


  The next morning, we took advantage of the Rickshaw service over to the parks from our hotel.  The guy was so nice and we had a great chat on our ride.


The first day was spent at Islands of Adventure and the second at Universal.  I have some pictures to share of each day with you.

Some of the most beautiful Christmas ornaments are in this store.  It is a must see.







The end of day 1.  Back at the hotel.


Universal, Day 2....

Jake went "Back to the Future" with Dr. Brown!







I caught a moment of brotherly love.




The picture above is right before we left the hotel.  This was the best Christmas vacation we have taken in a long time.  We had a ton of fun, wonderful weather and will be back again one day in the near future.

Till next time, Merry Christmas!
MS Southern Mom

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spongebob Birthday Party


My youngest son is now 8 years old.  It is hard to believe he is already 8.  We planned a Spongebob birthday party at Jake's request.  I personally love the colors and thought it turned out cute.



One of the first games the kids played was the LIMBO.  They had a blast and played for at least 45 minutes to an hour.


Jake blew out the candles and we cut the cake, then on to presents.....





We had a Pinata after eating.  Ours was one where you pull the strings instead of hit with a pole or bat.  The kids scrambled to get the candy after one of the youngest kids pulled the magic ribbon.


The older kids, my hubby and brother-in-law & some of the dads, played in the batting cage.  You know everyone is a kid at heart...lol.


After most of the kids left, Jake and one of his friends drove the Gator to finish off the day.  


We had beautiful weather and a great turnout.  It was a great day.  Happy 8th Birthday Jake!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Decorations! I love Christmas.

I prepared early for Christmas, the Friday after Thanksgiving this year.  I had a party for most of my close elementary childhood friends the following Thursday so I wanted to get everything decorated.  I took some pictures to share with you because I love Christmas.  Hope you enjoy them.....and Merry Christmas.









Friday, December 13, 2013

Our 2013 Disney World Trip, Day 4


It was our final day scheduled for Disney.  We had planned to spend it at Hollywood Studios.  The park was closing early at 7:00 PM so we spent the remainder of the night at Downtown Disney.  We had reservations to eat at Splitsville Bowling Lanes.  I didn't realize it until we arrived but you have to also reserve the bowling lane.  Luckily they weren't booked and we walked right in and were able to eat and bowl.  I would imagine during peak seasons you would absolutely need reservations for both if that is what you planned to do.

I have always been scared to death to ride the Tower of Terror but this year my oldest son talked me into it.  I am so happy I did.  It is now one of my all time favorite rides.  I normally do not like rides that free fall drop but this ride bounces up and down during the free fall and you never know how high the fall will start from.  Also, when you start the scene you ride through is awesome.  The Disney workers were all in character and had solemn faces and told us, see you later or not...ha ha.  It was really neat and not what I expected.  With us being there at Halloween, it added to the terror and atmosphere.  Needless to say, I will be riding it again.



Another fun thing we did was over at the animation part of the park.  They offer drawing classes.  Each class is approx 40 or 45 minutes.  The class decides on what character they want to draw and the instructor teaches how to easily sketch it.  Our character was Pluto.  All four of us went to the class,  I think it is amazing how good they all turned out.  Can you figure out who drew which picture?



After we rode rides, watched some shows, we stayed until the park closed.  We headed to Downtown Disney.  We rode the bus back to our hotel from Hollywood so we could drive to Downtown.   Well let me inform you, there is major construction going on right now at Downtown and parking is scarce.  We drove up on a Valet service and we hopped on it.  It was so convenient and at the end of the night, we texted we were on our way to the car and they had it ready by the time we got there to pick it up.  I say it was worth the cost to not spend your time driving around looking for parking or waiting in line to load onto a bus that is empty enough to hold your family.

When we arrived Downtown, we had to hit Lego.  OMG, it was so crowded.  Kids screaming and the lights are so bright in there and of course Jake wanted a set so here I go to stand in the checkout line.  When it was almost my turn to checkout the guy in front of me was giving the Lego checkout guy so much lip.  He wanted some kind of Disney World discount.  He was telling him he stayed at the luxury resorts and he received VIP service and discounts wherever he shopped.  His wife finally told him, leave this $8/hr guy alone he doesn't care about your money.  I was thinking, well if you have so much money why are you giving this poor guy grief over a 5% discount.  The dude would not buy the Lego set, he said he would come back with proof that he could get the discount.  It was like a $25 Lego set.  He got all upset over $1.25.  The Lego checkout guy apologized to me for having to hear the guy rant and said his dad had always taught him to remain calm in those situations and let it blow over.  I told him, well the guy was going on and on over his luxury this and luxury that but was demanding his $1.25 discount....something just wasn't right.  But hey I was entertained for a short while.  It did rub me wrong when the wife demeaned the Lego guy by saying he was an $8/hr guy and he doesn't care.  She should be more careful, for all she knows he could be the owners son or the owner.  Assumptions get you in trouble fast.  You know the saying---Assume makes an "ass out of u and me" and I do not like to curse but it had to be said, sorry.

After the Lego shopping, we went in the worlds largest Disney shopping store.  I bought my niece some things.  I had already purchased some really pretty ornaments for my other nieces.  Again this store was horrendously packed with people.  I grabbed some items and went out the door.  I can't enjoy shopping when it is too crowded.  Next, we went to a store called Curl or Wave, I don't remember but it had some cute clothes for the boys.  Jake got the cutest Hurley hat, shirt and jacket.  He wears the jacket to school almost every day.  After shopping, it was time for our dinner reservations at Splitsville.

Believe it or not that food was some of the BEST food I ate the entire trip.  My pizza was wonderful and the french fries were so good.  My only complaint about the facility is regarding spacing and seating during bowling while eating with another party across from you.  They have long tables & benches you have to slide out of when it is your turn to bowl.  This is an inconvenience for everyone beside you on the bench because they have to move to let you bowl  while they are trying to eat.  The neighboring tables are so close you could bump butts with someone as you are trying to get out from the table/bench to go bowl if the other group is doing the same thing.  Except for that, it is a great, fun atmosphere, with great food.  We will go back and I would recommend it.


After bowling we called it a night.  Sad it is over but I am happy to be blessed we could take the trip.

On the way home, we stopped at a shopping mall, I do not remember the name.  We were there mainly to eat but my goodness, a girl gotta shop.  This place was beautiful to be a shopping plaza.  The breeze was blowing, the music was playing throughout, someone was blowing bubbles in the air, it was a glorious day.  I made it out without too much damage to my pocketbook.  Joel did most of it.  It was a nice break before we started our LONG journey home.


The next day my niece greeted me at home to see what gifts I had bought for her.  I could not resist inserting a picture of her posing in them.  She is so cute and sweet.



Until next time...MS Southern Mom

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our 2013 Disney World Trip, Day 3

This year we did something different, we visited two parks in one day.  Normally, I plan one park/day and we stay at that park all day.  On our third day, we started out at Hollywood Studios and ended it at Magic Kingdom.  The extra magic hours were at Magic Kingdom till 2:00 AM and Hollywood Studios was scheduled to close at 7:00PM for the next two days.  Hollywood is one of our favorite parks so we wanted to spend as much time as we could there on our last 2 days at Disney so that is exactly what we did.  I had to visit guest relations at Hollywood Studios and they worked with my tickets since I did not purchase park hoppers.  However, they gave us complimentary tickets and made it happen for free.  I love Disney!  This was by far our best day while we were there this year.  Here we go.....

Upon entry to the Hollywood Studios, they have Monsters Inc decorations.  I grabbed a back shot of the hedges which was just as awesome as the front.  We wandered through the park and took our time.  We did not have fast passes scheduled so we rode what we wanted as we walked by it.



We saw a new ride, Pirates of the Caribbean.  It is where the Narnia ride used to be.  It is actually a pretty cool short show.  It is inside a building and you stand while you watch it.


Then we strolled down and watched the 3D Muppet Show which is one of our favorites.



We tried to stop and eat at the Sci/Fi Theatre but the wait was too long and the kids were starving so we walked on down to the ABC commissary and ordered right away.  It was a very nice environment.  The food was the Disney usual.  I have a shot here for you to see the atmosphere.


 We rode some more rides and then headed over to the animation section.  We met up with Mickey Mouse on our way out and Joel had his picture taken with him.



Jake was afraid of Mickey and was standing back.  We were the only ones in there.  One of the cast members came up to us and Jake and said I have a surprise for you I think you will like and won't scare you.  He told us to follow him down the hall and when he opened the door, I was amazed at how beautiful the room was.  They had crystal pin cushioned walls, beautiful decorated carpet, white fringe table cloth and there stood Minnie Mouse.  She was all by herself.  I have no idea why she was in that room by herself.  It was obvious we had received some sort of special treat.  It was not advertised and no one knew she was there.  Minnie tried to reach out to Jake but he was still afraid of her.  He refused to get close or take a picture.  I did sneak this one.


Not Joel, he hopped on in there and she hugged up to him and snapped a picture.  I thought it was absolutely adorable and so nice of the Disney World team member to do that for us.

We finished up at Hollywood Studios and headed over to the Contemporary Hotel to eat dinner and then ride the Monorail over to Magic Kingdom.



We ate at the Contempo Cafe and it had very good food.  While you eat, the monorail is going by overhead.  It is a neat atmosphere.  You also order from an electronic menu and then pay at the register.  They then serve your food.  They have an array of sweets in this Cafe as well as the gift shop on the same level.  We bought some deserts and then went to the Contemporary Grounds and picked up some Frappuccinos.  It was 8:00 PM and we were planning on a 2:00 AM stop time.  On our way to get the coffee, we saw this...


We saw several people wearing bandannas following Captain Hook throughout the Hotel.  I asked the Disney team member working the event what it was and she informed me, it was a party they have with Captain Hook in the hotel and then they load onto the boat and sail out onto the lake and watch the fireworks from the boat.  Kids and adults are welcome.  I have never heard of this event but it looked very interesting.  I would love to do this maybe next year.


After we ate desserts, drank coffee and rested in the lounge we were able to watch the Electric Parade glide by on the lake from the lounge.  We were rested and fueled up, ready to go until 2:00 AM!  We loaded the monorail and off we went to Magic Kingdom at around 9:00 PM.


This was taken right when we arrived.  Another shot at the pumpkins, can't resist it.



We headed down to Princess Fairytale Hall.  It had opened up for the first time a few weeks before our arrival.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  Joel took his picture with the Princesses.  Snow White and Rapunzel were there.  As you walk down the hall waiting to meet the princesses, they have each of their portraits shown on the walls.  The design of the building is beautiful.  Once you reach the end of the hall you can see Cinderella's glass slipper.  It is in the middle picture below, at right.  It is hard to see in the picture but it is so neat to see in person.  Oh, and if you are going in the summer, it was air conditioned which would enhance the wait from the outside summer heat.


I am in the middle and of course Joel is with his Princesses.


Next, we visited Enchanted Tales with Belle.  This was a first for us.  We did not know what to expect but it was lovely.  You first enter a room with a talking china cabinet.  They pull people from the audience to participate in a skit and then you move through an illuminated door that opens up into a library, picture below middle at right.  This is where you meet Belle and the talking candle man.  They put on a skit with members of the audience.  The small children, especially girls, love it.


After this we rode several more rides.  We stayed until the park closed at 2:00 AM.  Most rides had no lines after midnight.  You could walk right on the ride.  We had a blast on our last day at Magic Kingdom.  I have some random pictures to share below.  Hopefully, we can come back next year.






Till Next Year Magic Kingdom!