September 30, 2011

Countdown to Walt Disney World 2011 (6)

2 days until Disney!

One year ago we went on our biggest trip yet. Lisa, Maddy and I, along with Ryan and Tyler made our (newly) annual fall trek to WDW. And we were finally staying at our home resort of Kidani Village!
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village is an African lodge-style Resort boasting accommodations that include kitchenettes/kitchens and multi-bedroom units. Featuring over 30 species of wildlife that roam free amidst a 21-acre wildlife preserve that includes lush, tropical savannas, Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village offers you the unique opportunity to observe exotic animals in their natural habitat from special viewing areas throughout the Resort – and from the balconies of select Guest rooms.
And it was worth the wait and the DVC investment. We already loved the Animal Kingdom Lodge (now Jambo House) and Animal Kingdom had been a favorite destination since out first visit so it was pretty easy for Kidani to win us over. Smaller and quieter than Jambo House, Kidani Village has a great variety of its own animals to be seen on the savanna, and their restaurant Sanaa has a great view, great menu and wonderful service. And as always, we did not spend enough time just relaxing and enjoying the hotel itself. Thankfully we'll be going back again and again so we can experience more.

We sent Ryan and Tyler off on their own for the majority of the trip and Lisa, Maddy and I did our usual thing. And since we do make a point of trying something new on each trip we did get a chance to see and do a lot! This time down we took Maddy to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and we had dinner at 1900 Park Fare where Maddy met Cinderella, and we had breakfast at 'Ohana with Lilo & Stitch!

I think we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, I got to reconnect with an old friend who now lives in Orlando, and we were just plain exhausted by the end of every day so I'd say: Success!

Here are the video highlights:

And some snapshots from my Facebook Albums (WDW-10/12/10, WDW-10/13/10, WDW-10/14/10, WDW-10/15/10, WDW-10/16/10):

September 29, 2011

Countdown to Walt Disney World 2011 (5)

3 days until Disney!

January 2010, just three months since out last visit and we're back at WDW! We decide on a quick 4-day trip to tide us over until our next fall excursion. Lisa books us at the Boardwalk Villas and we invite our friend Barb to tag along (she can use a break).

The Boardwalk turns out to be a great location for access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, but the atmosphere and surrounding amenities are a little too grown-up for our tastes. That and the fact that we can hear our neighbors crashing in at 11:00-12:00 at night doesn't help either. Seriously, knew when they were home, in the bedroom or in the shower, very annoying!

But that matters little to the fact that we have another great stay at Walt Disney World. Maddy appreciates things that much more, Barb is great company and we have some great character meals and see some favorite locations in all of the parks.

Best Meal:
Donald's Dining Safari Breakfast at Tusker House

Best Show:
Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

Best Nighttime Activity:
SpectroMagic! Parade and Wishes™ Nighttime Spectacular

Here is the video from our trip:

And select photos from my Facebook albums (Disney - Jan. 2010 - 1, Disney - Jan. 2010 - 2.1, Disney - Jan. 2010 - 3.1, Disney - Jan. 2010 - 4.1):

September 28, 2011

Countdown to Walt Disney World 2011 (4)

4 Days Until Disney!

It's 2009 and we have been blessed with the arrival (Surprise!) of our very own princess, Maddy. As an excuse to return to WDW, celebrate Maddy's birthday (late) and subconsciously create an annual pilgrimage, we decide to book a vacation.

Jumping in feet first Lisa starts the research and planning process. We buy every possible WDW guidebook, bookmark every relevant (and useless) WDW related website, and begin the all-important making of lists (Which are discarded, revised and updated with gleeful abandon!).

We settle on a time (September), and length of trip (6 days) and then book the hotel; the Wilderness Lodge. In the process of making the hotel reservations Lisa is asked if she wants to upgrade to a Villa. Since it's a great deal and we'll have our own kitchen and laundry facility the answer is YES! Again, we had not been thinking about Disney Vacation Club and were only peripherally aware of it. Were we in for a treat!

The trip is a rousing success! Maddy loves Disney World (Who doesn't?), we fall in love with the place all over again and marvel at all the small things we had never seen or done before thanks to Princess Maddy. And of course we can't help but smile and melt a little inside every time Maddy breaks into a dance, gets a huge smile on her face or falls asleep on our shoulders. That Disney magic is working overtime to suck us in!

And suck us in it does. Thrilled with our room and the peace and quiet of the Villas, the private pool, and beautiful surroundings we stop by the DVC desk in the lodge. We talk briefly with the DVC rep and decide to take the tour and get the sales pitch. Two hours later we are the proud owners of a small parcel of Kidani Village property and are now helping to feed and house the Animal Kingdom Lodge critters. And before this trip is even over we're already planning our return trip so we can take advantage of our new DVC membership!

I now have a new video camera, purchased just for making Maddy home movies, so I have much better video clips to share. Here is a look at our trip:

And here a few photos too (from my Facebook albums: Maddy in Disney World, Maddy in Disney World, day 2, Maddy in Disney World, day 3, Maddy in Disney World, day 4, Maddy in Disney World, day 5, Maddy in Disney World, epilogue):

September 25, 2011

Countdown to Walt Disney World 2011 (3)

6 Days to Disney!

We'll take another trip back in time... The year is 2006; Disney's Animal Kingdom opens with a new mountain. Expedition Everest puts Disney's Animal Kingdom back on the map as a popular place to visit. Disney announces the Year of a Milion Dreams.

This time Lisa and I are headed to WDW for our first joint venture. Our good friends from PA, Barb & Mark, have invited us to go on a grown-ups only trip. Barb was able to get a good package deal through a friend, we got Park Hopper passes and we'd be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge!

We had just about perfect October weather, the hotel was amazing, the food was excellent and we got to go, go, go without slowing down for diaper changes, naps or early bedtimes. Even though we missed Wishes and the SpectroMagic! parade at Magic Kingdom we did get to see Illuminations at Epcot. We also spent some very relaxing time at the lodge (at night and early in the morning) spotting many of the local animal population.

Luckily for Lisa (since I'm not much of a thrill ride guy) she had Mr. Mark to go with on all of the bigger, faster rides like Mission Space and Expedition Everest. And it was our first time on Soarin'.

The Disney Vacation Club wasn't on our radar yet but we KNEW we'd be coming back to WDW soon and most likely staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge again.

Since we weren't expecting Princess Maddy (surprise!) I hadn't bought a new camcorder yet. So I only shot one short clip with my digital camera and Mark did the same with his. Unfortunately there was no sound and the clips were REALLY short. I spiced them up a little with some editing and music. Here they are:

And here are select photos from my Facebook album: Walt Disney World 2006