We left home early in the morning on Tuesday, January 22nd. Dave's parents and sister had stayed at a hotel close to the airport, so met up with us there. We had some time at the airport to get something to eat before our flight. A pilot gave Norah and Abby wings to pin on their matching sweatshirts as we waited for our plane.
Norah did surprisingly well on the flight--she fell asleep during take-off, and woke up just as we were about to land.
Abby sat with Dave's parents and enjoyed her toys and movie. Once in Orlando, we made our way to the Magical Express bus that would take us to our resort.
We got to see the Animal Kingdom resort before being dropped off at the All-Star Music resort. We got checked in and were able to drop off our carry-ons and get ready to head to Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios.
It was just a quick bus ride there, and we headed right to get seats for the show. Greg joined us, since he works right behind the Tower of Terror.
The show was so good--unfortunately, the pictures that turned out are all on my phone. We told Greg that we'd give him a call later that night to meet up, but we ended up being so tired after a long day of traveling that we just headed back to our resort, had a quick supper, and put the girls to bed. We enjoyed a good meal at the All-Star Music's food court while Dave's mom stayed with the girls.
Wednesday was our Animal Kingdom day. It was a little chilly in the morning, but warmed up throughout the day. We ate a quick breakfast in our room, then hopped on the bus. We knew we wanted to get on the safari right away, since we had heard that the lines get long later in the day. The animals weren't too active since it was so early, but we walked right on, and were able to see some giraffes, lions, zebras, and other animals. Lots of fun!
We were going to try to meet some characters afterwards, but realized that the character trail didn't open until later, so we headed to the dinosaur area next. We rode the Triceratops Spin (like Dumbo), which Abby loved. Nancy and Mike watched the girls while the rest of us went on the Primeval Whirl (small rollercoaster with a spinning car that you sit in). It was a pretty mild ride, so a good warm up for Everest later. We went on Dinosaur (fun, but a little jerky for Dave and his healing ribs) while Nancy and the girls had a snack. Abby was ready to meet some characters after waiting for us to go on rides, so we went to the character trail that had opened up. Meeting characters was definitely the highlight for Abby this trip--she LOVED getting her autograph book signed and posing for pictures.
At 11, we went to the nearby Tusker House restaurant for our first character meal. We got to meet Donald Duck, Mickey, Daisy, Minnie, and Goofy at this meal. The buffet was delicious!
After lunch, we had some more time to meet characters before the Lion King show.
A family friend of ours, Kelsey, is a dancer in the show and had arranged for us to have VIP seats. We got to go to the special entrance for reserved seats, which was actually the exit of the show. Once it was time, we were led to our front row seats. The show was amazing, and it was so fun to see Kelsey perform in it. Abby was of course too shy to participate--she was chosen twice to help out with something or dance with the characters, but she didn't want to. Norah was so enthralled by the music, dancing, and colors. Afterward, we were to taken out a special exit and got to meet the cast and get our picture taken with them. It was so sweet of Kelsey to hook us up with the VIP treatment!
We had some time after the show to go get FastPasses for Expedition Everest...I wasn't sure if I really wanted to ride a rollercoaster that goes backwards, but we got the passes anyway. We decided to go to the Bug's Life show before getting spots for the parade--Abby enjoyed it until the end when they make it feel like there are bugs crawling underneath your seat--her scream was SO loud--definitely not something she'll probably ever want to do again. We sat right outside the show's exit for the parade. The Animal Kingdom parade was definitely one of our favorites. It was lots of fun, and we even got to see Kelsey dancing in it.
After the parade, we knew we didn't have a lot of time left, so we went to see Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore at another character spot.
We had to get to our FastPass time for Everest, so Nancy watched a sleeping Norah and snacking Abby for us. I was pretty nervous for the ride, but ended up going and enjoying it a lot--it was not as bad as I had thought--just one big drop. When we got off, we assumed that they would be closing the ride since the park was supposed to close at 5. They were letting people in through the FastPass entrance, so we decided to go again. It was lots of fun the second time around! When we got off again, they were still letting people through, so we thought we might as well go one last time. We had front row seats this time--Dave and Tracy in the front, Mike and I in the second row. Three times on a rollercoaster in 10 minutes is probably not the best idea...I was definitely feeling a little off-kilter afterwards!
We had originally thought about going to Epcot to see Illuminations at night, since our Animal Kingdom day was a little shorter, but we were all pretty tired after getting back to the hotel. Another quick meal at the food court, then Kelsey came to do Abby's hair for her princess meal the next day. Abby was so excited when Kelsey pulled out a special package from "Cinderella" with a flower hair pin, sparkly bobby pins, a necklace, and blue nail polish. She got all dolled up, and it was nice to have a chance to visit more with Kelsey.