Monday, November 23, 2015

Disney with Carleigh ...and by myself!

Traveling to Disney World in November or December has always been on my bucket list, so when Carleigh mentioned that the Journalism Education Association National Conference was in Orlando at the Walt Disney Dolphin hotel...I had to chaperone. She didn't mind and we began planning for this, back in June. Katie wasn't thrilled, but understood. She also knew that she would be deep in the rehearsals for this year's musical. The bargain with Katie was also that she got a mother/daughter trip to Broadway over the summer (without Carleigh).

So the planning continued, and finally it started getting closer and I began to get more and more excited. I was traveling with 26 high school students and 3 other teachers from Carleigh's high school. I would have my own room and while the students were in conference sessions, I was on my own. On my own in Disney....this trip kept getting better and better. And better...and better...I found out before we left that they would be filming the Disney Christmas Day parade while we were there. For some, that would be a nightmare, but for me...I couldn't wait and got so excited. The theater/Disney geek inside me couldn't wait to spend some time watching this and see all of the behind the scenes work that went into the 2 hour Christmas Day event. For those of you that know me well, you know that I don't do alone very well, so the thought of doing Disney - at times by myself - was a little bit uncomfortable, but I kept reminding myself that this is my "happy place," and being alone there is not really the pictures will tell.

What follows is a pictorial essay of our adventures with a few captions - it was a great four days with some quality mother/daughter time, some great time with new friends (the LVHS teachers) and some awesome alone time with Disney World!

day 1 - Magic Kingdom

castle stage filming - Seal is up there singing
so excited to see the Magic Kingdom Christmas decorations

better shot of Seal singing - will air on Christmas Day

After wandering for a while, I caught up with the teachers and we went on a few rides and spent the afternoon together. I was excited to go on the "Jingle Cruise" - the Jungle Cruise reimagined for the holidays. It was lots of fun!

After the Jingle Cruise - I found Rafiki - had to try and snap a pic for Katie. She is the Rafiki understudy for the middle school performance of The Lion King Jr.

The four chaperones

The hotel that we stayed in is the Walt Disney Dolphin - it was fantastic! Not on Disney property, so not Disney themed, but I was very impressed.

boat dock right outside the hotel with boats to Epcot and Hollywood Studios

my room

the view from my window

another view

Disney's Boardwalk is a very short walk from the hotel also. It's a neat old style Boardwalk with restaurants, counter service food and fun shops. They had entertainers in the evening also.

walking back to the hotel - very festive.

We then headed back to Magic Kingdom for the night fireworks and got to see the castle "Iced Over."

So much fun and another thing crossed off the list.
Day 2 we headed to Hollywood Studios for the morning/early afternoon.

Hollywood Studios tree

I wandered around the Studios by myself, it was "uncomfortably fun" as I told my sister. I did finally get to go into One Man's Dream, a ride/exhibit that the family never ventured into.

had to go visit the muppets

Love the holiday theming

even inside the fake windows....

I spent a lot of time wandering around the Studios checking out all of the upcoming Star Wars Hype...

brand new Star Wars store - HUGE!!

though about getting each girl a pair - the Light Saber lights up every time the heel hits the ground - only $220 a pair...
After my time at the Studios, I headed back to the hotel - the Journalism teacher then texted me and challenged me to find a dinner reservation for 13 on Disney property for that same night...challenge accepted.....and after 1 hour of mentally exhausting discussions with Disney people (which I loved every minute of)....mission accomplished. Albeit, the reservation was for 9:30ish at the Whispering Canyon at The Wilderness Lodge. I was just a bit excited to be "going home" to the Wilderness Lodge for a few hours. Carleigh was beyond a little excited!!
The Newspaper crew on the boat to The Wilderness Lodge

the girls were excited to get dressed up

Carleigh and I love the Wilderness Lodge and had to pose with Humphrey and rub his nose for good luck!

we did ask for ketchup at dinner and got some....such a fun restaurant
Day 3 - Conference Day for the students and another free day for me. I headed back to the Magic Kingdom to watch the actual parade filming. I was there for 2 hours and saw the first 5 minutes being filmed. I never left Main Street, it was all so incredibly interesting and fun for family would have hated it!

setting up cameras on Main Street - lots of red vests guiding everyone

the Dapper Dans entertained us while waiting for the filming to start

Mr and Mrs. Mayor also visited with guests

Robin Roberts is the co host and she was filming her segments above the Train Station

she turned around and waved during a break in filming

Here is the opening...getting the characters in line and ready to go down Main Street - so excited to see Joy!

and Sadness...

Got everyone in line - and sat there for 30 minutes...poor Santa, it was 90 degrees!

I left and headed back to the hotel - I was reconnecting with everyone at 3:00 to talk about evening plans. As I headed out to the buses...there was no one leaving, and I had the whole bus to myself on the way back to the Dolphin.

Carleigh and her friends headed out to Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney for the evening. I went to Epcot with the teachers.

 Here are some of the pics from Carleigh's adventures at MK, Studios and Animal Kingdom.

So it may look like it was all Disney, and for me it basically was...but there was a JEA National Conference going on with 6,000 teenagers attending...

Wall to Wall Teenagers in the hotel lobby on Thursday, Friday and Saturday

After a few more conference sessions on Saturday and some alone time on the Boardwalk for me, we headed to the airport and arrived back at Dulles at 9:00 pm on Saturday evening. I was happy to be home, but already missing Disney.

So it was a great getaway and my alone time was awesome - just enough and in the happiest place on earth!! I certainly can't complain and can only say thank you to the LVHS teachers Paige Cox, Martha Akers and Marcia Owens for including me and making me feel so welcome and part of the group. It was a blast and Carleigh and I made memories that we will treasure!!

Also excited because we will be heading back to Orlando in March for a 7 night Disney Caribbean Cruise over spring break...See You Real Soon!!

Stay Tuned for Rahn Thanksgiving and gearing up for the holidays...Rahn Style! It's Seldom A Dull Moment in our house!!