Monday, February 11, 2019

An All-Star Vacation

Hello again friends!  The past few days have been a bit brighter around here.  Not only has the sun been shining, but it's been a little warmer outside.  (I'll take mid-30s over the single digits and freezing cold wind I've been out in recently.)  I've also had a bit more of my usual cheerful disposition.  Once again, I want to thank you for allowing me a safe space to unload the other day.  I really needed to let that out and I've been feeling much better afterwards.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

As I mentioned in that post, Eliot and I did just get back from Walt Disney World a few weeks ago.  I don't have time to tell you about the entire trip, but I thought I'd do a quick recap with some highlights for now.  (We had so much fun and I'd love to delve in deeper when I have time to.)  We were only gone for 11 days- not counting our travel days.  But because we did so many new and different things, and also flew out to California at the end of the trip, it felt like we were away for weeks, not days.  It was truly glorious.  Here's a quick review of our All-Star Vacation.

Wednesday, January 16th: Traveling Down to Orlando
After a whirlwind day finishing mouse ears and packing, Eliot and I left Maine around 4:30 during a beautiful sunset.  I enjoyed watching the sunset above the clouds for most of our flight to Baltimore.  We had a short layover but it was long enough to stretch and get something to eat before our second flight to Orlando.  We arrived at MCO, got on our Magical Express and were riding under the giant welcome sign and onto property at 11:44 pm.  We checked into All-Star Sports Resort and went to bed so we could be ready for our first day at Walt Disney World!

Thursday, January 17th: Settling In, Magic Kingdom
While we had plans to get up early, we ended up sleeping in.  We eventually made our way over to the Magic Kingdom where we purchased our new Annual Passes.  We went into the Magic Kingdom and hit up our favorites: waffles and fried dough at Sleepy Hollow, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.  We wandered around though the stores, caught the Festival of Fantasy Parade (which Eliot hadn't seen in ages) and finished the evening watching Happily Ever After.  It wasn't a crazy busy day, but we were in our happy place and enjoyed easing into our vacation.

Friday, January 18th: Surprise Celebration, Festival of the Arts
Friday was all about new experiences.  We woke up to teams of college cheerleaders practicing on the field at our resort.  After watching them for a few minutes, we went to the Magic Kingdom to see the new version of the street party: Move It, Shake It, Mousekedance It!  It was adorable.  The music was catchy, the costumes were fun, bright and beautiful!  I thought Mickey and Minnie's party outfits stole the show.  I loved it!  We spent the later part of afternoon and evening over at Epcot checking out the Festival of the Arts.  I was obsessed with all of the art in the tents.  Eliot and I fell in love with a bunch of pieces.  We went on Frozen Ever After and ended the evening watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  Then, we returned to the resort and waited in the lobby for Eliot's dad Rick to arrive with the rental car.

Saturday, January 19th: Tampa Bay vs San Jose Sharks 
We checked out of All-Star Sports and rode over to the McDonalds next to the All-Star Resorts for breakfast.  Then, we hopped in the rental car and checked into our next hotel, the Marriott right off property.  Next, Rick, Eliot and I went over to the Walmart next door to buy some snacks.  After dropping them off at the hotel, we got dressed in our Sharks gear and got on the road to Tampa.  We arrived early so we walked around the new restaurant area near the arena.  Then, we went to the Sharks vs Lightning game.  Our boys lost the game, but the highlight of the entire day was when my favorite player tossed Eliot a puck over the glass- which he promptly handed over to me!  I was SO excited!!!  (Eliot had taken his jersey off and held it up to the glass while they were warming up so it caught his eye.)  Rick, aka Captain Half-Beard, had so many Tampa Bay fans ask him to take pictures with them.  It was a ton of fun!

Sunday, January 20th: Festival of the Arts, Toy Story Land, Patriots Game
The three of us decided to hop around parks on Sunday.  We parked the rental car at the Ticket and Transportation and hopped on the monorail to Epcot.  We showed Rick some of the art booths before hopping on a boat over to Hollywood Studios.  None of us had seen Toy Story Land yet, so we headed in that direction.  We loved it.  After exploring and taking a few photos, we had an impromptu lunch at the new lunchbox restaurant.  Then, we headed back over towards the Boardwalk to try to get into the ESPN Zone to watch the Patriots game.  After freezing our butts off (it was COLD!) outside for over an hour, we gave up and left after the first quarter.  We went back towards the car, but decided to make a quick stop over at the Magic Kingdom to catch the fireworks.  Then, we went back to the car and headed off property to get food.  We ended up catching the last quarter of the game at a Texas Roadhouse.  We sat at the bar while I picked at my food watching the game.  Finally, after the tumultuous game was over, I was able to eat before we went home for the night.

Monday, January 21st: Travel South, Florida Panthers vs San Jose Sharks
Monday morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed for Vero Beach where our next hotel was.  (It was about halfway between Disney and Miami.)  After relaxing at the hotel for a little bit, we got into our Sharks gear and headed south for the Florida Panthers game.  We got there right on time and went straight into the arena to watch warm ups.  Once again, the Sharks didn't fare so well with the game results- but we still had a blast following them on their Florida road trip!  Eliot's sister Elissa informed us that Rick even made the highlight video back on the California broadcast!

Tuesday, January 22nd: Travel Back to Disney, Outlet Store, Fantasmic
We got up and left Vero Beach the next day.  Rick was flying out later in the afternoon so we needed to get back to Disney and checked in.  Eliot and I checked back into All-Star Sports, dropped off our stuff and jumped back into the car with Rick.  He dropped us off at the outlet mall since it was on the way to the airport.  Eliot and I really wanted to check out the Character Warehouse, a Disney outlet store that sells merchandise from the parks.  Luckily, we found both of the things I was looking for- my Christmas Dress Shop dress and the matching ornament handbag.  (And both were deeply discounted!)  Unfortunately, the dress was two sizes too big, but there were only two of them left so I grabbed it to get altered.  We took an Uber back to the resort to drop off our stuff, then headed over to Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic.

Wednesday, January 23rd: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom
We spent most of Wednesday at Animal Kingdom which usually gets overlooked on our Walt Disney World trips.  We did quite a bit this time.  Eliot got to go on Everest twice.  We saw the Nemo musical.  We had pizza at Pizzafari.  We watched the UP bird show for the first time.  We killed a little bit of time exploring more of Pandora than we ever have.  Then, we went on a dusk safari ride for the first time.  (We usually do the safari early in the day.)  We headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the evening since it was open later that night and was closing early on Thursday.  We went on a few rides while it was quiet and then we left after closing.

Thursday, January 24th: Epcot Merchandise, Ear Pictures, Magic Kingdom
Thursday was our last day at Disney for this trip so we had to take pictures of all the ears we brought with us.  (Eliot and I had plans to take pictures earlier in the trip, but we never did it.)  We went to Epcot to purchase the artwork we'd picked out.  After getting all of those, we bought the Aurora doll that matches my Disneyland Diamond Anniversary doll and had her shipped home with all of our artwork.  We took a ton of photos of my new Festival of the Arts flower crown.  I bought a paint palette cookie and loved it!  We eventually left Epcot and split up.  Eliot took the Epcot ears back to our room so we could switch for the Magic Kingdom ears.  I headed over to the Magic Kingdom and took the ferry boat to do something different.  I eventually met up with him out front by the train station.  Then, we took a ton of product photos in front of the castle.  After spending about 45 minutes doing that, we were hungry so we headed over to Sleepy Hollow for one more waffle and fried dough.  We took more photos, caught the end of Move It, Shake It, Mousekedance It and headed back to All-Star Sports to drop off the ears.  We finished the evening at Epcot seeing IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth and going on Frozen Ever After.  We went to Disney Springs to pick up a few last minute souvenirs before returning to our resort.  Then, we stayed up late packing our stuff before going to bed to get a few hours of sleep.

Friday, January 25th: Traveling to San Jose, and All-Star Skills Competition
Eliot and I got up early to shower and finish packing.  (It was an early morning... to the tune of 4:30 to be exact.)  Then, we got on our 5:45 am not-so Magical Express to the airport.  We got all checked in, had breakfast at the food court McDonalds and headed though security in record time.  Then, we took off on our direct flight to San Jose, California!  Before landing, I took a bunch of photos of the landscape from the plane.  I even caught a glimpse of SAP Center (aka the Shark Tank or "tank") where the Sharks play!  Rick and Elissa picked us up from the airport.  (She had flown home the day before.)  We stopped at Eliot and Elissa's high school to visit a few friends, ate at Taco Bell and headed back into the city for the All-Star Skills Competition.  It was so much fun to see all of the athletes and their hockey skills.  (I can't possibly describe all of it in quick detail here.)  After, we went to Eliot's parent's house and to bed.

Saturday, January 26th: NHL Fan Fair and the 2019 NHL All-Star Game
We got up and got ready to head back into the city.  We parked and walked over to the NHL Fan Fair, stopping to take pictures with all of the NHL All-Star player hockey pucks along the way.  (They were all over the place.)  We had fun at Fan Fair, even though we were only there for about 2 hours.  We took so many pictures there.  Then, we left and walked over to the tank for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game.  We got there as soon as the doors opened and headed right in.  We had a lot of fun even though the Sharks and Pacific Division didn't make it past the first round.  It was so much fun to cheer on our three guys though!  Afterwards, we all went out to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory right in downtown San Jose.  I'd never spent so much time in San Jose and it was fun to see so much of the downtown this trip.

Sunday, January 27th: NHL Fan Fair, Mascot Showdown, Stanley Cup
Eliot and I wanted to go back to Fan Fair since we didn't get to do everything we had wanted to on Saturday so Rick came with us while Elissa and Eliot's Mom Nori stayed at home.  On the way, we signed up for the virtual queue to take pictures with the Stanley Cup.  We got there and took more pictures, checked out a few booths, and went to the store one last time.  We checked out the trophies.  Eliot and I watched the final Mascot Showdown, a relay race.  (It was the funniest thing I have ever seen.  Eliot and I both laughed so hard.)  After, we headed right over to the Stanley Cup since we'd gotten our text message that they were ready for us.  Then, we got to touch and take pictures with the greatest trophy in all of sports!  It was so cool!  After, Eliot and I got in line to make our own personal trading cards.  Then, we stopped at the art booth to pick up a few prints and we headed home.  After carefully packing everything back up in our suitcases, we headed out to the airport so Eliot, Elissa and I could return to Maine.  We ate at In-and-Out Burger before checking in at the airport and boarding our flight home.

Monday, January 28th: Returning Home to Maine
Eliot, Elissa and I landed in New York early the next day.  Eliot and Elissa went to find us breakfast while I sat at our gate with the luggage.  After a long lay over (about 4 hours) we finally got on our last flight.  We landed in Portland a little after noon and drove home.  We returned completely exhausted, but it was definitely worth it!

There you have it!  That's just scratching the surface of our trip.  As you can see, it truly was an All-Star Vacation.  Between staying at All-Star Sports Resort, to seeing the Sharks play on the road at new arenas, to seeing actual NHL All-Stars at the Shark Tank, to feeling like All-Stars at Fan Fair to having once in a lifetime experiences like touching the Stanley Cup, it was definitely a trip that I'll never forget!  °o°

1 comment: