An unexpected, unplanned trip to Disney dropped into our laps when Isabelle’s Cheerleading Squad made their way to Nationals for their super cute choreographed dance routine! The girls worked hard and actually had a good shot of doing well at Nationals too! With a little luck and help from Grandma Ann and a few fantastic kiddos the trip was pretty much awesome!
Everything about it was a little overwhelming and crazy and well… unplanned. Brian had to be in Texas for work on Monday, so he flew out Sunday and would meet us in Florida on Tuesday afternoon just after the kids and I landed from Manchester, all followed by Grandma arriving from Arizona shortly thereafter.
Arlo had been building excitement about the trip (mostly the “plaaaaane” ride) all weekend. I crept into his room early Tuesday morning and woke him up and the first thing he says..”plaaaaaane” haha. I myself had only 2 hours of sleep, as I was up late working and packing everything the night before! Oh it would be a long day already I could tell. We picked up the big kiddos and got to the airport. It was a bit icy on the roads and a yucky day. Colin got stopped at security because he was packin’ scissors in his backpack…. uh-oh… luckily they were just below the size limit and we were on our way. Little did we know it would be a while before we were actually in the air. Due to some mechanical issues and then having to de-ice the wings, we sat forever in the plane before our adventure could even begin. Quickly running out of entertainment for our not-so-baby-anymore lap child who was squirmy and being bounced back and forth between the three of us snug in a row.
Finally we were on our way! I was already nervous traveling with just me and all of the kids, (Colin & Izzy ended up being a huge help of course) and now we were behind schedule, there was a decent size layover planned but we now have used that up sitting on a runway. We quickly made our way to what we thought was our gate in Baltimore and grabbed a quick bite to eat, just as we were sitting and eating, Colin says, “it says 3pm to Orlando on the sign is that right?” Me: “No, that is not right” I check. Not our flight number. FUDGE. No one at the desk, I go around to the other side to the gate next to us where there are attendants at the desk and see that our flight gate changed to this one and is now boarding… YIKES and PHEW! Thank you Colin for speaking up!
We made it to Florida in one piece. Hey, this picture spot looks familiar, Arlo and I were just here at the Orlando Airport last year visiting Great Grammy! Obviously, needed another updated pic of all the kids.
We met up with Bri and Grandma at the airport and then the kids and I boarded the Disney Magical Express bus to our hotel. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Which is where the team was required to stay. Grandma stayed outside the Disney parks and was renting a car with Brian and met us over there.
The kids sporting their personalized Park Hopper bracelets on the bus
The resort looked really nice and overall I suppose it was…
We arrived tired and hungry and the kids and I had to schlep with our luggage and all the way down through this long building to a certain conference hall to “Check-In” in a special area for the Cheerleading group, rather than right at the front of the hotel. Then had to walk all the way back and had received a map showing we had to also walk quite far to our room as well. This place was huge. Both me and Arlo who was much more vocal than I, were displeased with this arrival/check-in process. I call Brian with Arlo screaming in the background, “Where are you?” Thankfully they were one minute away and we met up with them back at the front by the time we got there.
The kids all went with grandma and the luggage in the car over to the room as we found out there was some parking back there, and Bri and I took a nice walk to the room alone to catch up after days apart and a crazy travel day.
We had dinner at the resort lobby in a restaurant that was overpriced and not very yummy, but it filled the need at the time. We bid goodnight to Grandma and went back to the room. Another great first impression came when we got back to the room and the group staying in the room next to us was most likely drunk and fighting/having very loud drama in and out of their room as we tried to get Arlo to sleep. I was NOT HAPPY, we called the front desk, I think someone in their room may have even called the police, either way things died down and we didn’t have to change rooms, like I was getting really tempted to try to do.
As it was, 5 people in our one room was a lot! It got messy and cramped and hard with sleeping times being very different, but we figured out to put Arlo’s crib behind the sliding doors to the vanity area and put the fan in the bathroom on for white noise so that we all didn’t have to go to sleep by 8pm every night, although we ended up not being long after that most nights as we were usually wiped by the day’s end.
Izzy had practice with her team in the morning and then after that we all headed over to the Animal Kingdom park for the day!
Every park had their own specially decorated huge Christmas Tree, Arlo loved it!
We saw lots of Animals (of course), Gorillas, Goats, Zebra, Elephant, Hippo, Giraffe, Tarantulas, Lions, Birds, Monkeys, Rhinos, Alligators, so many things!
Attractions we checked out were:
The Affection Section
I made everyone stand in line so I could meet Pocahontas!… (worth it!) :) It was a really fun day and great start to our Disney parks adventures.
Some videos from Animal Kingdom:
Dinoland Dance Party:
Drums: (arlo knows when he is on camera/he is also tired and zoning out for the first part, ha!)
Isabelle needed to be in bed by 8pm Wednesday night by strict order of her coaches since Thursday Morning was their big competition day.
Unfortunately, Wednesday night the whole PopWarner organization rented out Hollywood Studios park for just the Cheering and Football people for a big party event and private access to the park from 8-midnight on Wednesday night. So we missed out on that, but we were there for a reason and that was to kick some butt at Nationals the next day! and so we did…
We all woke early to prepare Isabelle for her big day. I of course was on hair duty. This being my second time getting to do the fancy “Victory Curl” style on her for her little “Rosie the Riveter” theme I was feeling a little more confident than the first time, but wanted to make sure it didn’t fall out at all so we stuck about a thousand bobby pins in and hair sprayed the heck out of her! :) And if that wasn’t enough, I decided that I too would wear my hair done up like the team to show team support in the stands!
Izzy was off with her team to head over to the ESPN sports complex and we would catch the later bus over once we met up with Grandma. The sports center was cool to see and was all decked out for the competition. We were so excited! We watched as the other teams danced, even Arlo got his groove on to some songs! The costumes and performances were great, some much better than others of course. There were 13 teams total in Isabelle’s age group and dance category.
Video of the beginning of their routine:
Isabelle’s team had a visit after their routine from the Vice President of PopWarner, who told them that they looked great and did great and invited them to be runway models for their little fashion show during the intermission break to model the new PopWarner Cheering clothes and bags etc. It was really cute when the girls came out one by one with their names called and they really strutted their stuff!
At lunch break we got to see the gals finally! Arlo was so excited and proud of his big sis I think! He only wanted to hang out with her and her friends, wanted nothing to do with me or dad at lunch. :) So cute to see.
The awards ceremony was in the afternoon. Teams got to have only two girls and their coaches to come out to potentially receive the trophy’s and awards. Isabelle was one of the lucky girls from her team and we were so proud to see her out there with her coaches. My heart was so full when I heard them call Bedford Junior Bulldogs for 5th place! I know they worked really hard and we found out later that for a first time team at nationals to get a trophy is pretty unheard of. We waited for a long while afterward for their team to come out from getting their photos taken. (I hope to have those professional photos soon, one of the other parents bought the disc of them and is going to share). While we waited, Arlo made friends with some of the other girls’ siblings that were there waiting too. Peek-a-boo around the palm tree. So cute.
Then finally we got to see our happy gals and the big shiny new trophy that they earned.
To celebrate that night the team had a special dinner at Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney. Colin and Arlo stayed back with Grandma and Me and Bri took Izzy out for the celebratory team dinner. It was a nice night out.
We checked out the Magic Kingdom. It was another fun- filled and tiring day, and down-right chilly too.
We went on rides like:
Mad Tea Party
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
It’s a Small World
Pirates of the Carribean
I had almost expected Arlo to be a little suspicious of the characters at Disney, however this kid LOVED them. Everytime he saw a dressed up character big smiles big waves, big “Hiiiii’s”! One of the cutest parts of the whole trip was when Arlo got to meet Whinnie the Pooh and Tigger. Bri and I took him on the little ride and like all other rides at Disney it feeds you through a ride specific gift shop at the end. Arlo grabbed a Tigger stuffy off the shelf and would not let go, so I guess that was meant to be his souvenir of the trip. We got him the Tigger and then went out and waited in line to meet Pooh and Tigger. He was so excited. And did really good being patient.
Finally it was his turn. The video is a MUST watch to understand the complete cuteness. Arlo, would not let go of his hug with Pooh. It was the best hug ever! Then, Tigger had seen that I was holding the little stuffed Tigger and took it to give to Arlo himself. Arlo grabbed it from him as if to say “hey, that’s mine!”.
We caught the little parade of characters as we were on our way out. :)
We went to Hollywood Studios in the morning where we found some more fun things like:
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme stunt show
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Rock N’ Roller Coaster
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
The stunt show was great, entertaining and educational as to how stunt scenes are really shot and the cool stunt cars that they use, like the one that has been re-arranged inside to be able to drive it and make it look like it’s going backwards really well! :) And of course my little car lover LOVED it! :)
We also had a great time at the Honey, I shrunk the kids movie set playground. I remember really liking that movie as a kid and it was really cool to pretend to be a part of it and have some fun being kids ourselves! :)
We had some lunch and some ice cream treats while we waited for our “fast pass” time for the Aerosmith Rock N’ Rollercoaster. That was a really fun ride and the first time the kids went “upside down” on a roller coaster! :)
And when we came out from it we saw that Grandma had managed to get the little guy a cat nap. :)
We decided to squeeze in one more park so, we caught the ferry boat over to Epcot for the afternoon/evening and would have our last dinner there. We didn’t spend a long time there and didn’t get to see too many things but from what we did we realized it seemed pretty cool and we wished we had more time.
The kids and grandma checked out Mission Space.
Bri, Arlo and I checked out Living with the Land, and saw the greenhouses that provide food for a lot of the parks.
We all checked out the iconic “ball” as Arlo called it which housed the ride Spaceship Earth.
We had a nice sit-down dinner at a chinese restaurant in the park before heading back to the hotel.
Of course on Sunday the weather warmed back up. I relished in the warm sunshine as we waited for the bus to take us to the airport and back to the cold north.
As Arlo says, we were “Good to Go” (his first string of words together).
Giggles with Daddy on the plane ride home
It was a really fun family trip, there were lots of giggles and play and good times had by all. And looking back on it only makes it seem even more special to have had the chance at our first Disney Experience together.