Once in a very great while Erin and/or I have the opportunity to attend a super-special event that, when the stars and planets align properly, we are able to attend. Or, to be more accurate, we need move heaven and earth to attend because it’s “that” special.
This week an event that special came in the form of a special invitation from the folks at Walt Disney World and Chevrolet as they prepared to open the New Fantasyland and Chevrolet Test Track. (More on Test Track in this week’s show).
For a quick trip to Florida, it was jam packed with things to do and to see. Here are some of the highlights:
During our trip we stayed in a family suite in Radiator Spring’s Wheel Well Motel at the new Art of Animation Resort. The suite was perfectly sized for the family with not just two beds (one being a murphy bed in the living room) but also two full bathrooms. The decor was perfectly Pixar with an automotive/garage feel to the interiors, and characters from Cars lining the “streets” of Radiator Springs.
On the first evening we had the opportunity to check out the new Fantasyland before the official opening the next day. After eating our fill from one of the many buffets lining the streets (the cupcake bar was a big hit) we visited:
The Beast’s Castle and the “Be Our Guest” restaurant which is in the grand ballroom from the movie. The details, not surprisingly were stunning.
Belle’s House where the kids participated in a re-enactment of how Belle and Beast met and fell in love. Sophie looked a little star struck when she met Belle, while Anders seemed content to hide behind his knight’s mask.
On the streets of Fantasyland we met new characters who taught our son to swordfight and our daughter to act as a “damsel in distress” (I’m sure if Sophie wanted a sword they would have given her one).
Out of handkerchiefs, I was handed a rubber chicken to wave.
But the highlight of the night may have been when we saw a dragon flying through the air over the park (which apparently isn’t scheduled to happen again).
The park was gorgeous, dressed up for the holidays in what I can only imagine are hundreds of thousands of lights!
As we left the park, dragging sleepy children behind us, we were given commemorative Mickey Mouse ears, each with a special Fantasyland cover.
The next morning we were up early for one last preview of the park before the ribbon cutting and special opening ceremony. While Anders and Steve took an early morning spin on Space Mountain (not related to Fantasyland) Sophie took a few rides on her new favorite coaster - The Barnstormer.
While we missed the ribbon cutting, we did use our media passes to push to the front of Cinderella’s Castle to watch the grand opening festivities which starred ALL the Disney Princesses, as well as Ginnifer Goodwin, star of one of my favorite shows, Once Upon a Time.
With crowds held back by security ropes, Anders finally figured out why I kept insisting he put on his “credentials.”
Between Sophie and myself, I don’t know who was more excited! I’ll admit, seeing Ginnifer close up made me completely geek out, and take an embarrassing number of photos.
And may I mention it was 80-something degrees at this time? Let’s talk about how the cast members in the wigs and heavy costumes had to be DYING from the heat. And yet, those princesses and princes kept on smiling.
After pushing the kids pretty hard for two days, we decided to let them sleep in on Friday (even though it meant missing the Splitsville event). With a full day before we had to leave for home, we brought the kids to Hollywood Studios to visit a few of our favorite attractions including Star Tours, Tower of Terror (the boys), the Great Movie Ride (the girls), Honey I Shrunk the Kids, as well as a few new ones including the “The Legend of Jack Sparrow.”
While we were there for only three days, we all left exhausted, with Steve and I comparing notes on the various aches and pains that plagued us. Steve even considered whether he could take a short nap leaning against an overgrown blade of grass.
With the holidays fast approaching, there is no question that we did not have time for this trip. But we are also grateful to Disney for giving us a much needed “time out” to spend with the family and soak in the southern sun!