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Monday, August 5, 2013

Florida 2013

This year Mom & Dad Loebrich had two weeks at their Hilton Head time share & decided to split them up - one in SC & the other in Orlando. Debbe & Derek were with them for the whole trip, while we met them in Hilton Head at the end of the first week & caravanned from SC to FL (I stopped counting Buicks at 200, about half an hour outside of Orlando, & at that time we'd also seen 34 cops!). The hardest part of the trip was probably checking into the condo!

Once we got to it, our place was very nice. We had a 3-bedroom lock-out with a full kitchen in the main unit & a kitchenette in our room. Our building was a short walk from the pool & the complex was about 5 miles from Disney. We had dinner that first night at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Downtown Disney - yummy, & great music & dancing! - & we saw a full rainbow as we were leaving. We were pretty sure that the rainbow ended at Disney World. :-)

Debbe & Derek & Mom & Dad went to Legoland on our first full day in Orlando. They had such a good time that they upgraded their passes so they could go more during the week. Meanwhile, we went to Universal's Islands of Adventure so we could go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was awesome! They did a great job of capturing the look & feel of the movies & the books. The main ride - Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey - is a blast, & the wand choosing ceremony at Olivander's is worth the wait even when it's 100 degrees out! We bought wands & some Ravenclaw gear - oh, & frozen butterbeer is quite tasty!

The rest of Islands of Adventure is fun, too. Dr. Seuss-land is neat & colorful, Jurassic Park is almost as creepy as the movies, & Toon Town is fabulously full of both old & new comic strip characters. Plus, we randomly ran into Spiderman in the gift shop! What a treat - I've been reading Spidey since I was 7! - loved getting my picture taken with the famous web-slinger.

We went to EPCOT on our second day in Orlando. Bruce & I did not have Park Hopper passes, so some of the time we were on our own while the rest of the group bopped around. That was okay. We enjoyed the lands - I finally got to see the Canadian Celtic band Off-Kilter! - & we just happened to run into Tigger & Pooh in the toy shop in EPCOT England! We had a family character dinner at 1900 Park Faire at the Grand Floridian where we met Cinderella, Prince Charming, & the stepsisters. The food there is also excellent, btw!

The next day we went to Hollywood Studios & rode Toy Story & Star Tours. Plus we ate at the 50's Prime Time Cafe again - we didn't get our favorite waitress from last year, but we were well taken care of & the food was yummy! I took my phone out to check the Disney app to see what to do after lunch & our waitress chastised me saying, "This is family time - no toys at the table, princess!" :-)

Wayne & Abby drove up Wednesday evening after work & met us for dinner before following us back to the condo. They stayed with us till Saturday morning & we had a good time as a big group. We went over to the Magic Kingdom in a convoy (Derek rode over with Bruce each day - he had fun riding in Anakin!). We broke up into small groups & reconvened throughout the day - it was great fun to explore & ride rides & take pictures. We also managed to get into Be Our Guest for lunch in New Fantasyland. It was worth the half-hour wait in line, the food & the ambiance were amazing!

Friday we were back at EPCOT & started the day with lunch at the Rose & Crown. We also saw an adorable little girl, dressed as Minnie Mouse, playing with Alice in the garden - cutest thing ever as they skipped about the town square! Watched the Serveur Amusant ("balancing guy") in EPCOT France & two taiko drum shows in EPCOT Japan. Caught the Spirit of America fifes & drums as well as the Voices of Liberty concert in EPCOT America - one of the guys picked me out of the audience, took my hand, & sang just to me! It's part of the act, but it was still pretty amazing. (I was embarrassed until Wayne & Abby told me later that it was part of the show.) We also finally managed to meet up with my friend - & former coworker - Lucy for an early meal in EPCOT Mexico! So good to see so many loved ones on our vacation!

Saturday it was back to the Magic Kingdom, just the family. We had lunch at the Crystal Palace for a delightful visit with Pooh & the guys. Derek got picked to perform with the Giggle Gang clown show in the Storybook Circus & had a blast! He got a red clown nose for a prize & we all had fun wearing it & being silly. We debated about staying for the fireworks, but it was rainy & muggy, we were all tired, & we opted to go back to the condo. As we were leaving, Debbe spotted Dopey posing for pictures all by himself! He's one you don't see out much, plus the line was short - & he's a favorite of both Bruce & Debbe - so we grabbed the opportunity!

This was a much less structured trip than last year - & that was part of the plan - it was a little crazy to coordinate & find things that everybody could do together, but it was good just to BE together & enjoy our family time - some of it with extra loved ones - at the Happiest Place on Earth.  :-)

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