Disclaimer: This may be my longest post ever, but this was a week we will remember forever!
The back story on how our amazing Disney vacation came to be starts back at Camp Lejeune. I’ve written about the amazing friends here… and here… and here… and here again. But what’s one more recap – because I love these people so much 🙂
Exactly three years ago all four of our husbands were in Marjah, Afghanistan as infantrymen assigned to 2nd Battalion 8th Marines. Long story short, two of our husbands (not mine) were in a vehicle that drove over an IED and were blown up. Among their injuries were a broken neck, a broken back, a couple bum knees, and a broken jaw. And I’m still forgetting some. Anyways, they’re “okay” now, if you don’t count chronic pain and debilitating injuries. If you saw them walking down the street, you would never know. About a year ago, they both medically retired from the Marine Corps. We’re the only ones still in the Marine Corps, but somehow, three of our four families ended up in Florida!
I remember the day I saw this picture and how genuinely happy I was their boys were home safe!
During their time with the Wounded Warrior Battalion and since their medical retirements, the Shanks and the Jones’ have had nothing but positive things to say about the support they have received from organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Foundation. Well this week, Wounded Warrior Family Support gave Lindsay and Matt (the only ones not in Florida!), a week-long trip to Disney World! With… a 3 bedroom condo! And lucky us because they were so nice to invite us all to spend their [what was supposed to be a relaxing] vacation at Disney World with them! I honestly think God put all three of these girls in my life, and He knew we needed each other during our time at Camp Lejeune. And of all the places for the Pennsylvania natives to be sent on a free vacation… it just so happened to be a central distance between the rest of us who just happened to end up in Florida and happened to include lodging big enough for every one and happened to be a time we were all able to make it? Believe what you want, but I say it’s a God-thing. I think really think it’s the hardships you face in military life that draw you close to the friends you make in the military. These are friendships I am confident will last a lifetime, and I love seeing where their lives take them!
Back story over. Here is the story of our trip, full of excessive amounts of pictures and sunscreen. Tuesday finally came and Mitchell and I loaded up the Exploder with two carseats, two strollers, a week’s worth of Mickey Mouse t-shirts, and headed East to Orlando, to meet the Shank’s at the airport. We ambitiously planned our week full of parks, swimming, delicious food and more!
Day 1 – Downtown Disney
Yay, we got it! Take Three!
We ate out at the T-Rex restaurant. My Kansas City friends know this place well! I was so excited to finally take Mitchell to see the dinosaur restaurant! It’ll be fun when he’s a bit older and knows what’s going on 🙂
Day 2 – Animal Kingdom & Splash Pad
We tackled Animal Kingdom on our first full day at Disney! The munchkins were dressed in [one of] their best Mickey & Minnie attire! They have so many pictures together since Mitchell was born, but what’s one more because I can’t help it! Arranged marriages are still okay, right? That would make Lindsay and I… sister-mother-inlaws? Anyway… we did mostly walking around and not a whole lot of riding… but we did make it to the It’s a Bug show and the Safari! Somehow Mitchell decided the best time for a nap wasn’t when he was cruising around in his relaxing stroller, but when we got out of the stroller and sat on the safari van, driving around through bumpy terrain, across noisy bridges, and with a lady on the loudspeaker telling us about all the animals the entire time. He was completely limp, dead asleep on my chest. We were cracking up!
Of course we got pictures in front of the iconic Animal Kingdom tree! In retrospect, I definitely should have help Mitchell up Simba-style for the picture.
Our safari adventure 🙂
That evening we decided to take the kids to the splash pad at the resort… It was still 90 degrees after dinner time, so how could we not? Maybree took a little bit to warm up, but Mitchell had no fear. He was playing up a storm, and when he discovered the zero depth area kept getting deeper and deeper, he thought he was off for a swim. He’s working on learning that you have to exhale instead of inhale when you put your face in the water… a lesson I think he’s going to have to learn the hard way a few more times before he catches on 😉
And I’m learning the pool is the perfect way to work on my tan and wear Mitchell out simultaneously.
Day 3 – Magic Kingdom
We spent the next day at the classic Disney Magic Kingdom. We got a morning picture of the kids in their Disney outfits to start the day!
Then we made it to the castle! I tell you, loading up two kids in strollers, parking, taking the monorail in, and loading and unloading about three more times… just getting there is an accomplishment in itself!
We saw Mickey and Minnie’s show at the castle!
And Mickey’s parade on Main Street USA!
Mitchell and I enjoyed an ice cream sandwich 🙂
And crashed for a good long nap in the stroller. Victim # 1.
Disney World Exhaustion Victim # 2.
And Maybree got some Minnie Mouse ears! How darling is she ❤
Guy time with Uncle Matt!
And Aunt Lindsay!
It was a hot day at Disney… 92 degrees! In the evening we cooled off in the pool at the resort. And Mitchell rehydrated with some chlorine water… We’re working on that 😉
Day 4 – Epcot, Hollywood Studios, & Friends!
We opted to go back to Disney by ourselves for another day (everyone else had other plans). I seriously had a blast with Mitchell. I remember Disney being so much fun as a child, but taking your little one is so much better! It really is for the parents as much as it is for the children – especially this trip because I know Mitchell really wasn’t quiiiiite old enough to understand what was going on 🙂 He’ll definitely be back someday. We loved the Finding Nemo ride, the aquarium, and Turtle Talk with Crush. But the highlight of the day was meeting his favorite character, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates! And I’m not just saying that… he actually recognized him – he was squealing and clapping when he saw him! And to top it off, we saw him again at Disney Junior Live on Stage! Mitchell was dancing right along with the rest of the children and I was just soaking up his cuteness!
Mitchell made a friend at the aquarium! Hard to believe this little guy was six months older! I love my big boy 🙂
I told Mitchell about the time his Grandpa Brim was picked as an Extra on the Indiana Jones show, in front of a huge audience, complete with a turban and all! If you know my Dad at all, you know why seeing him get picked out of an audience to perform is pretty funny.
After our day at the park, everyone else arrived! It was soooo good to see all our friends and we couldn’t believe it had been almost a year since all four of us were together! All three of our babies have grown up so much into beautiful, fun little handfuls! Perfect time for some pictures 🙂
Macy, Mitchell, and Maybree!
Mitchell has so many lady friends, he can’t pick a favorite! Macy is a cutie 🙂
And in honor of Mother’s Day weekend, we took some pictures with our babies!
After the pictures, the boys went out to dinner, and we put the kiddos down in each of their Pack & Plays. What’s a Disney trip without matching Mickey & Minnie pajamas?! Maybree didn’t really want to be in the picture…
Macy tried to console her.
And then they tried pulling her back in the picture.
But this was the best we could get. Ha! Getting a good picture of three little ones is not as easy as it looks!
After they were asleep, we had a good old girls night. Of course there was so much to catch up on! And as if we had planned it, we ditched the cute clothes and busted out the comfy clothes – USMC motivated style 😉 Just like old times 🙂 This tradition started about three years ago!
Day 5 – Universal Studios
The very last day the girls, along with Maybree and Mitchell, hit up Universal Studios. I really just wanted to see the Harry Potter world, and it was really cool! We walked the entire park, stopping for a few rides and two ice cream stops. I definitely want to go back when I can actually ride the rides, as much as I loved hanging out with the kids and taking selfies 😉
And how could we not conclude the hottest day of the trip with another trip to the pool?
Day 6 – Mother’s Day
We just relaxed on our last day of vacation before heading back to our side of the Sunshine State. And surprise, surprise. Yes, another trip to the pool!
And treating ourselves to Olive Garden and our favorite cupcakes 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to us!
We had such an amazing vacation week. We learned a few things along the way for future Disney trips. Go before they turn three! Mitchell was free! For all you military people out there, they have 4 day (with park hopper) tickets for $169! Much more reasonable than the over-$400 for a normal ticket package. Bring your own food and drinks! We brought water and PB&J almost every day – we figured for just one day this saved us about $40! And lastly, I recommend making your stroller easy-to-find… When you go on a ride and opt for the stroller parking, they park it for you, leaving you to find your stroller in a scene like this after you are done. Ha! But I could not imagine having done Disney without a stroller. No way.
Sadly, Steve was busy with his school, so he was unable to come. I reallllly wanted him to come, but he didn’t hesitate when he told me to go and enjoy myself. Lucky wife right here 🙂 He knows how much our friends mean to me, and I know he’ll be at our next reunion. So thank you honey 🙂 And a huge thank you to the Shank’s for such an incredible week and an amazing friendship. We can’t wait to see you again! Steve, Mitchell, and I love you all 🙂