Happy Birthday to ME!!

This honestly needs to start with once upon a time as it was once upon a time Michelle and I decided for my 30th birthday we should go to Disneyworld. So without further ado, once upon a time in Houston, Michelle & I were talking about our mutual love of Disney and the fact I’d never been to Disneyworld. And so the plan was born that in 2007 we would go to Disneyworld. As the time got closer we began planning and decided to go in March. I’m still not sure how it got to be 2007 but it here it was 2007!

My dad had United Airline miles he wanted to use up and so offered them to me to use on my birthday trip. I was grateful for the free plane ticket even though it meant a red eye flight connecting through LAX. Diane met me at my house and my mom drove us to the airport. We landed in Orlando a little after 6 a.m. on March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day!). I’d planned ahead and worn green. I find it funny that so many grown-ups will wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. It can’t be fear of being pinched, can it? But I digress. We made our way through the airport. Because we were staying at a Disney property we were able to use their Magical Express service which meant we didn’t have to pick up our luggage and they took us straight to our hotel. We were pleasantly surprised when the hotel had a room available for us. After showering we headed to Downtown Disney in search of breakfast and coffee. We had breakfast with the Earl of Sandwich, however we never found coffee. Where is a Starbucks when you need one? Shopping beckoned after breakfast and then it was back to the hotel for a little nap that turned out to be a little longer than 40 winks. After we woke up, we headed to the Magic Kingdom. Walking down Main Street a huge smile started at my mouth and continued to my toes! It really is the happiest place on earth. In a bakery on Main Street our quest for coffee ended successfully. Not quite Starbucks but it definitely hit the spot. We started off in Adventureland, fastpassing the Jungle Cruise (one of my favorites) and waited in line for Pirates of the Carribbean (another favorite – in fact you should probably get used to me saying such and such is my favorite as I say it about a lot of things). Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had a 50 minute wait so we decided to go for it and wait in line. About an hour and 15 minutes later we boarded our out of control train. We were trying to decide what to do next when Michelle called to let us know they had landed and were on their way to the hotel. Not knowing how long it would take us to get back to the hotel we set off. Walking through the masses of people, green was the predominant color of choice. Again, it’s funny to me how you are never to old to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. On the bus ride home we learned that Daisy Duck has three neices – April, May and June which is something I never knew.

Not to long after we got back to the hotel, Michelle, Stacy & Bailey arrived. We had dinner at our new favorite spot, The Earl of Sandwich and then dessert at Ghiradelli’s. Yum! After we got back tothe hotel Janette arrived (Michelle’s mom) which was wonderful as we weren’t sure when she was going to make it with the winter storms in the east.

Magic Kingdom Day! Angie met us at the hotel & we set off. After breakfast at the bakery while watching a mini parade, it was time to begin. I had gotten a button that said it was my birthday and one of the park workers told me happy birthday. When I said thank you he told me to get used to it and he was right! Everyone told me happy birthday that day, including people standing in line with me. The day started in Fantasyland on the Winnie the Pooh ride. Pooh and the gang are probably my favorite group of Disney characters. It was on this ride we discovered my ride karma as it stopped a few times. Snow White was next, followed by It’s a Small World, and then another favorite, Peter Pan! I think part of the reason I love the Peter Pan ride is flying over London. We then went to one of my new favorites, Philharmagic. It’s a 3-D experience with lots of songs which of course I sang along too! With Fantasyland basically complete it was time for lunch in Tomorrowland. We split up after lunch. Seeing that Space Mountain had a huge line Diane and I fastpassed it and went to check out Buzz Lightyear. It was a very fun ride, but once again the ride stopped in the middle, which allowed us to rack up a lot more points. We then hurried over to Adventureland and Splash Mountain with a stop at the teacups. Splash Mountain and I have a love/hate relationship. I hate the anticipation of the drop but I love the ride and at the bottom I’m always glad I did it. It had gotten hot by then so the splash was actually a good thing. It was time to meet up with Michelle, Stacy and Angie for Haunted Mansion where once again the ride stopped in the middle. As I was the common denominator on the rides that stopped we figured out it was my ride karma. We headed back to Tomorrowland to use our Space Mountain fastpasses but before going on Space Mountain we rode on another new favorite of mine, the Blue Line ride or the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority. What was so great about this ride? You got to sit down and relax! Before getting on Space Mountain we pastpassed it again for that evening. After Space Mountain we headed back towards Main Street to watch the nighttime parade before watching the firework show above Cinderella’s castle. I took probably about a gazillion photos in hopes a few would turn out – and I think some of them really turned out well. It was Magic Hours that night for Magic Kingdom which meant we could spend an extra 3 hours at the park since we were staying at a Disney property. I immediately spoke out and said “oh, there is no way I’m going to be here until 2 a.m.” So when we left the park at really close to 2 a.m. I had to eat my words but the extra time was worth it! We rode Space Mountain, the teacups, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Carribbean without really waiting in line at all before doing a little shopping. By the time we got home it was after 2 and by the time we were asleep it was probably closer to 3! Climbing into bed, I felt like my body was still moving and I was still on some sort of ride.

Considering the night before (which overflowed into this morning) we were not the most animated group as we left the hotel. But we did manage to make it to breakfast with Winnie the Pooh! Yay! Pooh was there along with his pals Piglet, Tigger & Eeyore. Why Rabbit got left out? I’m not sure. He probably was working very hard in his garden. Breakfast was very fun! We took the monorail from the Magic Kingdom (where breakfast was) over to Epcot. Our first ride was another ride where it stopped in the middle. However, the folks behind us had a plausible explanation (as opposed to Emily’s ride karma theory) which was that on the continuous moving rides, when someone with a disability gets on they have to shut down the ride in order to help them on. From there we ventured over to the Nemo ride where we got to ride in clammobiles!! I don’t know why but the clammobiles cracked me up! We then waited for Turtletalk with Crush, however due to technical difficulties they had to cancel the show. We tried to fastpass Soarin’ (a hang-gliding adventure over California) but all the fastpasses had been distributed for the day. So we fastpassed Test Track and started our journey around the world. In Norway, we went on a Maelstrom, a Viking adventure. We continued on our journey when we landed in Italy, just in time for lunch. Yummy!! After lunch we did Test Track before splitting up – Michelle, Bailey & Janette headed back to the hotel to get some rest while Angie, Stacy, Diane & I finished up our tour of the world where I learned that apparently you don’t have to be in France to take a gazillion photos of the Eiffel Tower! We also celebrated a wedding in Morocco (between Angie & the Genie from Aladdin). Unfortunately (or fortunately!) it was only valid in Morocco and as soon as we were in France it was null and void. We finished up in Canada and we really began to feel the effects of the night before and so we too called it a day and headed back to the hotel. Thinking it would be just as quick to head to Downtown Disney and visit the Earl for dinner as it would be to grab some food from the store at the hotel Diane and I headed out. It was just as quick to get there, however, it was the getting back part that took awhile. We sat and waited and waited and waited for our bus back to the hotel. Granted the hotel was not that far away, but it was dark and we knew if we tried to walk, we’d probably end up lost so it was easier to wait. But finally the bus came and we were able to go home and get some much needed sleep!

Today was Animal Kingdom day. After the Magic Kingdom, this was the place I was most excited to visit! Angie was spending the day with her family and Diane left that morning to visit her family in Georgia so it was a smaller crew that set out that morning. I was definitely not disappointed by Animal Kingdom – they really did an excellent job with that park. We started off the day exploring Mt. Everest where we met a Yeti Monster!! Oh no!! The Yeti ripped up our tracks so we couldn’t go forward. But thankfully our train was able to backtrack and take us down the mountain away from the Yeti. We fastpassed the safari adventure and watched the Lion King Festival which was amazing!! Very colorful and of course filled with the songs from the movie. The safari was fun – I couldn’t believe how close the animals were! It had started raining so we hurried to It’s Tough to be a Bug (a 3-D adventure with Flick) inside the Tree of Life to get out of the rain. It was really starting to rain and so we broke down and bought a Mickey poncho – of course, after we bought our poncho, the rain stopped. After lunch we watched the parade, watched the Finding Nemo musical, got scared by a Dinosaur and said good-bye to the animals before heading back to the hotel. That night Michelle, Stacy & I met up with Angie and her sister Mary to explore Pleasure Island. We had dinner at an Irish Pub and then went to an improv comedy club.

We made it to Wednesday!! Our day of rest!! And boy did we need it. Stacy spent the day with her brother, Angie with her family, and Diane was in Georgia. Michelle and I started off the day with a massage. We walked over to the spa and were surprised to find out when we got there we had the time wrong and so missed the first part of our massage. Bummer! Oh well, but at least we still got close to an hour (it was originally scheduled for 90 minutes) and some massage is better than no massage!! After the massage we were feeling quite relaxed and headed over to Downtown Disney for lunch & shopping. Several hours later, and many shopping bags later, we needed a pick-me-up and stopped by Ghiradelli for a sweet treat! Michelle, Stacy & I had dinner at the restaurant at the resort and then headed back to Downtown Disney and met up with Angie & Mary to watch a Cirque du Soliel show (La Nouba). I had never been to a Cirque show before and I was very impressed! Starting with the first act I thought it would be my favorite but then the next act would start and I was sure it was going to be my favorite. Even now, I’m not sure I could pick one act that was my favorite – they were all so good!

Today was Disney-MGM Studios day. The park was designed in the fashion of old Hollywood in the 1940’s. I loved it!! We headed directly over to the Tower of Terror, Michelle’s favorite ride. Based on the Twilight Zone, it drops you 13 stories. Sometimes having an active imagination is a good thing, sometimes it’s not. Had we visited MGM earlier in the week I might have attempted the ride, however having many days to think about it, as well as seeing how tall the tower was from the road, my imagination took over and I pysched myself out of doing it. So while Michelle, Stacy, & Angie were being braver than me, I went and got us fast passes for the Rockin’ Rollercoaster. I’m very glad to say Michelle, Stacy & Angie survived the Tower of Terror and we made our way over to the Great Movie Ride which took us through the sets of several movies, including two of my all-time favorites, Singin’ in the Rain and Casablanca. We then made our way over to see the Playhouse Disney show where we sang along with several Playhouse Disney characters including Bear in the Big Blue House. Diane arrived at MGM while we were at Playhouse Disney and just in time for our fast passes on Rockin’ Rollercoaster. Now this is another one where I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to try as it goes upside down but upside down wasn’t as scary to me as dropping 13 floors so I sucked it up and I was glad I did. I kept my eyes tightly shut so I wouldn’t see when they flipped us upside down and that seemed to work. Lunch was next on the agenda and we had it at the Prime Time Diner. It was a really neat place, decorated like a house from the 1950’s. The waiters/waitresses treated us as if we were like family, including telling us to sit up straight and get our elbows off the table. When they found out we were there celebrating my birthday, our waitress, Aunt Elaine, brought out a cupcake. I made a wish but before I blew out the candle Aunt Elaine said my wish wasn’t going to come true so I should wish again. Darn! And I had thought it was a good wish. After lunch we headed over to the Drew Carey show which was in total darkness for part of the time. I do have to admit that I closed my eyes for just a second (or maybe a couple of seconds) and was on my way to sleep. When we emerged from the show it was time for Angie to leave to go to her nephew’s birthday party. The rest of watched the afternoon parade. After the parade we boarded Star Tours, for a trip to Endor. Diane, Michelle, & Stacy went back to ride Tower of Terror (since Diane missed it in the morning) while I once again chickened out. Afterwards we split up with Stacy, Michelle, Janette & Bailey watching Beauty & the Beast live and Diane & I watching the High School Musical pep rally. We met back up and made our way over to Lights, Motors, Action, an extreme stunt show, where we were all entertained by the hero trying to make his escape from a town on the coast of France. We took a quick trip to New York and San Francisco (by way of movie set magic) before taking a backlot tour. At the beginning of the tour they warned us that people sitting on the right may get a little wet. I was sitting on the left so felt safe, until they said the next thing, which was people sitting on the left will get soaked! Meandering our way through the tour we came across a canyon. Nothing bad ever happens in a canyon, right? Once the train was inside the canyon we were subjected to all sorts of movie magic, including tons of water coming straight towards us! I did get a little wet, but not soaked. Whew! By this time it was getting close to the start time of Fantasmic, a light show on the water. The first time I went to Disneyland, my mom and I stumbled across this show and were amazed! I was very excited to see it again, and to see if it was as good as I remembered it. And it was! I think this show is one of my favorite things to see at a Disney park.

Our last day! The week had gone by so fast. We decided to split up with a plan to meet up later. Diane, Stacy & I started out at Animal Kingdom since Diane had missed it. We fastpassed the safari and watched the Lion King Festival. When we emerged from the Lion King Festival it was time for our safari. Even more animals were out on this safari – we even saw an elephant taking a bath!! We then went back to Mt. Everest where that silly Yeti was still ripping up train tracks. Diane & I headed over to the Dinosaur ride but as we got to the entrance there was a huge stream of people exiting. The ride was broken. But it wasn’t my fault this time!! I wasn’t even on the ride at the time. We waited for 5 minutes to see if it would open but when it didn’t, we left and met up with Stacy at the front of the park. We got on a bus and headed over to the Magic Kingdom. It was at the Magic Kingdom we decided to see if we could visit all 4 parks in one day. With that goal in mind we got our picture taken on Main Street as photographic evidence. The only problem with this was that we hadn’t done it at Animal Kingdom. Too bad, if only we had thought of it earlier in the day. After a quick snack at the bakery we made our way over to Toon Town to meet Mickey!! We toured Minnie’s house and then headed over to Mickey’s and we met the Mouse himself! We had fastpassed Space Mountain and still had time so we headed over to the barn to meet a few more characters – Minnie & Goofy. We still had more time and took a ride on Goofy’s plane. Goofy wasn’t the greatest pilot and the plane went through a barn before landing us on the runway. It was time for our fastpass so we left Toon Town and headed to Tomorrowland. We did a bit of shopping before saying goodbye to the Magic Kingdom and hello to MGM. After we got our picture taken we headed for the Rockin’ Rollercoaster but all fastpasses had been distributed and the line was long. We were feeling “lined” out and decided to skip it. We we went on the Great Movie Ride and walked around before heading over to Epcot. We made our goal of all 4 parks in one day! At Epcot we met up with Michelle, Janette & Bailey to watch IllumiNations. Disney definitely knows how to put on a fireworks show!! Epcot had late Magic Hours so we thought we would hit Soarin’, Test Track and Mission Space. Soarin’ and Test Track still had long lines so we headed to Mission Space. Once again, I chickened out. Mission Space is a spinning ride and those who are claustraphobic are warned not to ride it. Every once in awhile I get very claustraphobic so I opted out. A group of high schoolers had just finished the ride while I was waiting and several were very sick, and one even needed a wheelchair to leave so I felt validated in my decision not to ride it. Feeling tired, and realizing how much packing we had left to do, we headed back to the hotel.

Diane had a very early flight the next morning. Originally I was on the same flight but instead of flying home I was flying to Germany to meet with co-workers before heading to London for training. So we said goodbye. Stacy left to spend the day with her brother. I did laundry most of the morning and finished up packing before Michelle, Janette, Bailey & I headed to the front of the hotel to wait for my bus to take me to the airport. We said goodbye and I left on the Magical Express bus.

What a wonderful birthday trip!! Thanks to everyone who made my birthday trip so special!!

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2 Responses to Happy Birthday to ME!!

  1. Mandi says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time! Turning 30 is a good excuse to take some time to celebrate!

  2. diane says:

    Wow, I’m a little late in reading this re-cap, but it is actually more fun this way. I was reminded of so many fun little things about our trip that I’d forgotten about!You forgot to mention Bailey’s bottle of beer at the Earl of Sandwhich 🙂

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