Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekend Adventure - Part 1 - Walt Disney World

We started our Clergy Kids weekend adventure on Thursday night as we left Ocala and headed for Walt Disney World. We made one night reservations at a new-to-us hotel, Disney's Port Orleans-Riverside. We made our reservations back around Thanksgiving and received the first part of our adventure in the mail - our MagicBands. Disney has gotten rid of traditional room keys and uses these instead now. Besides unlocking your hotel room door, your MagicBand is linked to your park ticket, linked to your credit card for food and souvenir purchases and also linked to your FastPass reservations. We had the opportunity to customize our bands online and Disney mailed them to our house. 

When we got to Port Orleans to checkin, our bands were activated by computer without having to present them. The cast member checking us was chatting up the boys and realized it was Davis' first time at a Disney hotel. He gave Davis a "First Visit" button and the rest of us got "I'm Celebrating" buttons. We really, really liked the hotel. Made to look like New Orleans, it has two sections - Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend (mansions). Our room was in Alligator Bayou. Forgive the quality of these pictures - it was nighttime and I was using my phone. The boys thought all of the theming for the rooms was great and Wesley especially loved the Tic Toc Croc picture on the headboard above his pull down bed. 

After dumping our stuff in the room, we headed in search of a late supper. Boatwright's Dining Hall has great Cajun and Creole food. Daryl enjoyed shrimp and scallops with grits and I had a sweet-tea brined pork chop with sweet potato mash. Parker ordered multigrain pasta with turkey marinara and loved it while the little boys had macaroni and cheese and a cheese pizza (always something for everyone at Disney). 

Right next door to the restaurant was the River Roost Club with Yeehaw Bob. His act is famous around Disney and we caught a few minutes of his show after dinner was over.

Not anxious to return to our room with three excited boys, we decided to brave the cold and walk around and explore the hotel. We walked all around Riverside and then followed the path along the river to its sister resort - Port Orleans French Quarter - where we did some more sightseeing, shopping and pin trading.

Our building in the light of day.

Friday morning, we packed up the van and drove across Walt Disney World to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for breakfast. They have a breakfast buffet at Boma - Flavors of Africa which always gets great reviews and it did not disappoint! Since Boma is tucked into the corner of the ground floor, we spent a few minutes checking out the lobby before heading down the stairs.

The food was so good. They had all the usual breakfast buffet items and the boys dug into the cereal, eggs, waffles and pastries. But Daryl and I certainly enjoyed all of the items from Africa - it reminded us of the wonderful international buffets we enjoyed on our trips to England and Egypt. The big hit for the whole family was Jamba Juice - a mix of orange, guava and passionfruit - that Parker declared was even better than orange juice. Seriously, the kids got to-go cups of this stuff to take with them. 

More exploring around the lobby and outside. This hotel is setup so that the animals from Animal Kingdom can roam right up next to your room balcony. It was too cold for any of them to be out that morning, but it was still cool to look around. 

Time in the gift shop. The boys met an awesome cast member here who let them each get pins from her lanyard without having to actually trade - they just had to hand out high fives and fist bumps. She thought they were adorable in their matching shirts. 

We spent the rest of our day hanging out in Downtown Disney. There's a lot of construction going on right now as they redevelop this area into Disney Springs - the expansion will more than double the size and won't be done until 2016. But we managed to weave around the construction walls to browse and  pin trade. 

Burning off some wiggles and crazies while running around on the grassy field. Davis developed a good strategy here - wait for the big brothers to tackle each other and fall to the ground and then jump up on top of the pile! 

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