Make Believe

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The school year is over for the boys and to kick-off the summer, we heading down to Disney Hollywood Studios–which happens to be my favorite of the Disney theme parks!

DHS Entrance

So much to do! First things first: The Rockin’ Rollercoaster…

Rockin Rollercoaster Entrance

LOVE THIS RIDE!

Rockin Rollercoaster

What else? There are 3D specs and Jawas…

3D Specs Jawa Boys

and a couple Storm Troopers harass an old lady on her scooter…

Stormtrooper

which turned-out to be a prelude to a little storm trooper recruiting by Captain Phasma of the First Order…

Anyway, it wasn’t all about Star Wars. There was “Pigs in Space”…

Pigs in Space

and the live Frozen show, which was absolutely hilarious!!

Frozen

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Today the boy’s classes took a field trip to Fort Menendez in St Augustine. This interactive museum is great for young kids. They learn about the Timucua Indians and early colonial life in Spanish East Florida through hands-on activities that give them a feel for the pioneer life.

Alex’s teacher, Ms Stanton, got into the act…dressed as a Timucua Indian, she helped teach the kids about the various tools used by the pre-European residents of the area…

Educating the crowd

And for some reason, Alex wasn’t very happy about something…

Not too happy

Until he got to play a game…which looks a lot like the football drills today’s pro quarterbacks participate in!

Football drill Football drill Football drill

Adam, on the other hand, and true to form, took advantage of the face painting with his friend, Adalyn…

Face Paint Face Paint

Alex, also true to form, just stuck to the games…

Alexs Game Alexs Game

Mom? Well, she just took the pictures. Naturally. 🙂

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This year, the boys are going through a Ninja phase. You have to look real close, though, because, you know, they’re Ninjas…

Ninjas Ninjas

Mom took the boys trick-or-treating, while I stayed behind to give out candy and enjoy some of Cindy’s yummy guacamole…

Guacamole

Meanwhile, a couple of states away, Grandsons Mario and Luigi (a.k.a. Oliver and Carter), prepare to battle their arch enemy, Bowser, while Granddaughter Kameran is the most adorable Cheshire Cat…

Mario and Luigi Cheshire Cat

Needless to say, the boys cleaned-up on candy, and if they had their way, they’d eat it all tonight (and Adam was doing his best to negotiate that possibility)

Oh, and before I forget, here’s a picture of Cindy’s jack-o-lanterns. I cleaned-out the guts, and mom and the boys added the faces. Although I;m a little biased, I think they did a very nice job!

Jack-o-Lanterns

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It’s the last day of our Disney Weekend, and what better place to be than Hollywood Studios?

Disney Hollywood Studios

Naturally, we have a Fast-Pass to Star Tours, which is the number one ride for a couple of Star Wars geeks like Alex and Adam…

Star Tours

After the boys build a light saber in the Star Wars store, we still have about an hour before our Fast-Pass to the Rock-n-Roller Coaster, so we jump in line for one of my favorite rides: The Great Movie Ride…

The Great Movie Ride

This ride is sponsored by Turner Classic Movies, which happens to be my favorite cable channel. And movie host, Robert Osborne, introduces the crowd to a ride through some of Hollywood’s classic movies, like Casablanca…

Casablanca

There was enough action to keep the boys attention (although Adam commented that it moved too slowly), and plenty of nostalgia for me! And with that, we’re ready for Aerosmith and the Rock-n-Roller Coaster! Upon entering, we’re greeted by Steve, Joe and the rest of the band…

Aerosmith

This is a great roller caoster…and F-A-S-T! It goes from 0 to 60 in about 2-1/2-seconds as it thrusts you through a series of “loop-the-loops” (as Adam likes to call them) and corkscrews…and all the while you’re listening to Aerosmith: “Love in an Elevator,” “Walk this Way,” and “Lick and a Promise”. After we finished, we saw that it was raining outside, so decided to get back in line and ride AGAIN! AWESOME!

RocknRoller Coaster

Next, we grab a bite to eat, and head over to the “Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show”. Lots of tires screeching, fire, and car jumps to keep you riveted to the set. It’s a great glimpse into how movie studios film all those fancy car chase scenes! And who doesn’t liked the smell of burnt rubber?

We decided to wrap-up the day with the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, but was distracted by the face painting…

Alex wanted to be a Tribal Warrior…

Alex Face Paint Alex Face Paint

Adam, chose a Lion Prince…

Adam Face Paint Adam Face Paint

By the time we finished with the face painting, the Indiana Jones show was about half over, so we decided to call it a day. We made our way to the park entrance and picked-up the packages we had transferred there earlier, climbed aboard the tram and made our way back to the car. It’s been a whirlwind few days, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow, so I can relax a bit! 😉

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{{ YAWN }} We’re up early and heading to Epcot…

Epcot Entrance

Our first stop? A Fast-Pass to “Mission Space”…

Mission Space

Where we board a simulator for an exciting mission to Mars. Adam, of course, loves the adventure, and naturally, assumes the Pilot’s role; Alex, on the other hand, is a bit cautious and after a bit of prodding, take his seat in the Captain’s chair…

Mission Space Mission Space

In the end, though, Alex came through and with his leadership, our mission was successful. He’s thrilled (it’s over) 😉

Alex and Dad

The park was not very crowded today, which made it much easier to get through the lines at Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and The Circle of Life. The only ride we missed was Fast Track, which stayed at 60-90 minutes for Stand-by throughout the day (we’ll Fast-Pass this one next time).

The highlight of our Epcot adventure was Soarin’…a simulated hang-gliding ride over California landmarks. It’s really pretty cool, and feels so real that Alex was picking his feat up as we flew over the tops of trees. Basically, you buckle yourself in and your seat is lifted to the center of this OMNIMAX screen, an inverted dome-shaped screen that provides a sense of depth to the ride…

Soarin' Soarin'

Finally, we closed-out our day at Epcot with a visit to Mickey and his friends…

Mickey Goofy Minnie

Anyway, the day was still young, so we climbed aboard the Monorail and headed-over to The Magic Kingdom to ride Big Thunder Mountain, which closed just before we got on yesterday…

Alex and Mom and Big Thunder Mountain

and Alex insisted he take Adam to Tom Sawyer’s Island…

The boys on Tom Sawyer's Island

and with that, it was back to the Monorail for a return ride to Epcot where we picked-up our car and took-off for a nice dinner in town.

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First stop: The Magic Kingdom. We’re up early today to get a head-start on the crowd.

WDW Entrance

I’ve reserved a Fast Pass for Space Mountain at 9:00 a.m. and Adam is in a hurry to get started on his roller coaster weekend! Naturally, mom is in picture-taking mode as we board the tram for the park…

WDW Tram

Alex opted not to go on Space Mountain, so mom took him on what seems to be his favorite ride at Disney: The PeopleMover, which actually goes into Space Mountain.

Space Mountain

If Alex’s favorite ride is the PeopleMover, then his second favorite ride is The Grand Prix Raceway! Of course, Adam really likes it, too…

Adam Drives Alex Drives
Alex and Mom Drive Alex and Mom exit

After the race, we made our way toward Adventureland. We stopped by The Haunted Mansion, which mom and Adam went on alone, while I and a spooked Alex hung-out at the exit waiting for them to finish. Thankfully, Alex was able to summon his courage for The Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean

The boys always get a kick out of locating Captain Jack Sparrow in various locations throughout the course of the ride…

Captain Jack Sparrow

Then the Magic Carpet…

Magic Carpet

And the Tea Cups…

Tea Cups

Later, we make our way to Frontierland to Fast-Pass Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, one of the two roller coasters at WDW that Alex likes to ride. However, just before we were to get on the ride, they closed it due to some malfunction. They gave us a pass good until the end of October that could be used on any number of rides, but we’ll likely try to swing back by the park tomorrow after Epcot.

Fortunately, the line at Splash Mountain wasn’t that long, so Mom took Adam, while Alex, who abdicated his seat on the log-ride, and I caught the raft to Tom Sawyer’s Island. This is actually one of my favorite places at Disney because there’s so much to see and it’s typically pretty quiet. Alex ran wild among the tree houses, pontoon bridges, Harper’s Mill, Injun Joes Caves, and Fort Langhorn (formerly Fort Sam Clemens) where he discovered the air rifles in the towers…

Alex on the Raft Alex Shoots

Whew! What a busy day! Now, it’s time to head back to the hotel for dinner and a good night’s sleep. After all, tomorrow will be another busy day!

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Tonight me and the boys are playing around with the new Star Wars app on my iPhone…

“I sense a disturbance in the Force. Of course, I heard the heavy breathing and ominous music well before that.”

Jody Wan Kenobi

“Okay, okay, I got it! Try-do-not-try-just-do-it. How ’bout you try to stick it in your pointy ear!”

Adam Wan Kenobi

“Okay, Boba Fett is a bad guy, but I really like Boba Fett. So, do I kill him or ask for his autograph?”

Alex Wan Kenobi

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It’s DAY TWO of our Star Wars Weekend and at the top of the agenda is Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. This is the last in our year-long pursuit to ride all of the Disney roller coasters. This one was BY FAR my and Adam’s favorite…mom and Alex, not so much.

Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith

I mean, not only did we get to listen to Aerosmith, THIS THING WAS FAST!! Oh, and as Adam wouldn’t stop talking about, it had a loop-the-loop.

Riding the Rock n Roller Coaster

After we recovered from the roller coaster, we took a break and had some pictures taken…

Our Family

and with a little Disney magic, the boys are fighting Darth Vader!

Adam fights Darth Vader

Adam fights Darth Vader

While we were walking back to the Star Wars side of the park again, we witnessed Boba Fett, as her prepared to blast-off to Tatooine with Han Solo encased in carbonite.

Boba Fett

I couldn’t resist getting a picture of the boys loitering outside a shop on Tatooine. Evidently, Alex is using the Force to push-off some stormtroopers.

Tatooine Boys

Of course, the Empire was EVERYWHERE and questioning EVERYBODY! The boys couldn’t avoid being stopped and questioned…these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Empire Questions

Finally as the day was coming to a close, we had dinner with Disney Star Wars characters at Hollywood and Vine. The food is good, but the company is GREAT!

Of course, Jedi Mickey greets the boys at the door!

The boys with Jedi Mickey

And Chip-and-Dale Ewoks, Donald the Stormtrooper, and Princess Minnie visit at the table.

The boys with Chip the Ewok The boys with Donald the Stormtrooper The boys with Princess Minnie

and last-but-not-least, was Darth Goofy, who was a blast!

The boys with Darth Goofy

This experience was the icing on the cake of a great weekend getaway! One our way to the car, we turn for a final look at the sun setting behind the Tower of Terror (which, by the way, I have absolutely no intention of riding!)

The sun sets behind the Tower of Terror

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading back home, but tonight the boys can relive their Disney Weekend Adventure in their dreams…

The boys are fast asleep

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As Alice Cooper once said, “school’s out for summer,” and what better way to kick-off the boys summer vacation than Star Wars Weekend at Disney Hollywood Studios! We drove down to Orlando and started-off bright-and-early this morning. We started DAY 1 with the “Legends of the Force” parade. The boys enjoyed watching the Star Wars characters they love so much, like

Jedi Mickey…

Jedi Mickey

the evil Darth Vader and a squad of Stormtroopers

Darth Vader Storm Troopers

the bounty-hunter, Boba Fett and R2D2

Boba Fett R2D2

And their favorite, the dreaded Darth Maul!

Darth Maul

One of the first rides (just about any time we come) is Star Tours. We had a “Fast Pass,” so there was virtually no wait! Afterward, the boys got to buy something in the gift shop. Adam picked-out a lightsaber favored by one of the characters on the Star Wars Rebels cartoons, while Alex chose to construct his own Darth Maul lightsaber…

Alex builds a lightsaber Alex builds a lightsaber Alex builds a lightsaber

Too cool! Of course, then we had to carry it around the rest of the day. We should’ve thought that one through. Anyway, waiting in line f-o-r-e-v-e-r for Alex’s lightsaber, it was time for our next Fast Pass event, Light’s, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show. We had never seen this show before and it was AWESOME!

Stunt Cars

It was LOUD and FAST and the boys LOVED IT!

The boys watch the stunt car show

And what would a Star Wars Weekend be without a little hob-nobbing with the characters. Although he had bravely fought the Darth Maul during Padawan Training, Alex was a little apprehensive about meeting the Sith Lord…

Alex watches Darth Maul

But in the end, he mustered-up some courage, and stood his ground during a face-off with the evil villain…

Darth Maul Face Off

They also got to meet Commander Cody! Although the commander was a little perplexed at their “The Dark Side” tee-shirts…

Commander Cody Commander Cody

but in the end, it was all good!

Commander Cody

It was a very busy day and we can’t wait for the adventure to continue TOMORROW!

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After a great night in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were ready for a day at the park. I paid the valet for the van and we headed down the road for the short trip to the park entrance.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

We had almost an hour before the first “Fast Pass” attraction I had scheduled the day prior. We went to the gate to activate our annual pass and in the middle of the process, Cindy realized she had forgotten her ID in the car. So I (literally) ran back to the van to retrieve her ID card. Once back at the ticket booth, panting and out-of-breath, we completed the admission process (or so we thought) and preceded to the park entrance.

Bag searched, we each held our magic band up to the scanner. Everyone cleared except for me. Evidently, in the confusion of the forgotten ID situation, the ticket-taker failed to activate my ticket. So, I had to accompany an attendant to the Guest Service Office where she processed my ticket manually, and then gave us an “Fast Pass” ticket for the inconvenience. The process didn’t take too long, and the boys played with the iPads which served as park information centers.

Anyway, despite the delay, we were still on schedule to make our first “Fast Pass” experience, The Kali River Rapids ride! So, we get to the attraction entrance and head to the “Fast Pass” lane where we discovered that Adam had inadvertently changed all our fast pass selections while he was playing with the iPad in the ticket office. Needless to say, I was not too happy.

Fortunately, one of the guest service guys was there and he helped us cancel Adam’s selections and rebook our original selections. Then he have us a complementary Fast Pass ride on the Kali River Rapids. Talk about great service!

Of course, Alex didn’t think it was so great, as both he and I got soaked!!

Kids Soaked

of course, Mom and Adam got a little wet, too, but not quite as bad as me and Alex!

Family Soaked

We figured walking would help us dry-off, so we headed to the Dinoland USA looking for DINOSAUR, a time-machine themed ride. We all road aboard these “time rovers” through a lot of bumps and flashing lights. There were lots of dinosaurs, but certainly not my favorite ride…

Time Rover

After recovering from the whiplash induced by the time rover, we took in the Primeval Whirl (which was, interestingly enough, one of the attractions Adam re-scheduled us to ride). Alex wasn’t crazy about this one, so he and I sat-it-out while Mom and Alex took a whirl.

Adam and Mom Ride

By the time they finished, Alex was good-to-go, so we got back in line, so he could ride.

But the highlight of the Animal Kingdom experience was the Expedition Everist roller coaster!

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest

We used our “Fast Pass” to get through the line quickly. Here we are going into the 80-foot drop. And despite the looks on the boys faces, they absolutely LOVED the ride! So much so, they wanted to get back in line and go again…

Expedition Everest Roller Coaster

Sometime during the day, although at this point it’s really a blur, we stopped for ice cream…

Adam eats ice cream Alex eats ice cream

Oh, and the boys jammed on some bongos, and Alex got sillier and sillier, as Adam lost more and more enthusiasm…

Bongos Bongos
Bongos Bongos
Bongos Bongos

As the day was winding down, we headed to Africa for our last attraction, the Kilimanjaro Safari. But on our way to Africa, guess who popped out of the ground?!?

Stitch

Then it was on to the safari. There were a lot of animals, rinos, elephants, but the boys really got a kick out of the giraffe that crossed in front of the truck.

Giraffe

And so, with one more look at Mt Everest, we crossed the bridge and headed back to the van, and home.

Mt Everest from the lake

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