Friday, May 31, 2013

Walt Disney World - Day Three...

This morning we headed for Animal Kingdom!  
  We all wore blue in honor of Gavin...
...and our Super G buttons that were given to us at the funeral by some of my high school friends.
The first thing we saw when we walked into the park was the Tree of Life.  The tree is the iconic symbol of Animal Kingdom - their way of honoring and celebrating all living things. 
If you are thinking about going to Disney World or have a trip coming up, you should keep your eye on the comments here and on my Facebook Page.  Wonderful readers have been posting little tips and insider secrets for me this whole time.  Thanks to a reader named, Aubry, we found a little hidden path that took us behind the tree and allowed us to be all alone by a beautiful waterfall.  Brian led us there...
...and we took a moment to honor Gavin who would have LOVED that spot.
Once again, Disney came through when Brian announced he was SO hungry about an hour before our reservation.  I walked into Tusker House and asked if we could come earlier and she immediately fit us in!  Disney rocks.  Donald greeted us at the door!
Brian was VERY excited for this character lunch because last night he never saw Daisy!  Who knew he had a crush on Daisy!!  
And he was once again very interested in getting autographs, which was so cute.
After lunch we decided to walk over to the Finding Nemo Show.  It was a beautiful walk with so many fun, cultural things to see.  And we found another great photo-op in front of the Tree of Life along the way, too.
We are so happy that Miss Sara came along with us.  We've been having so much fun - and I'm so glad she's able to be here to see Brian's reactions to everything.  
We made it to the Finding Nemo Show!!
We even scored seats in the very front!  The show was amazing and Ed, Miss Sara and I all cried.  Some of us more than others.  We all were thinking of Gavin.  The story line... the music... the colorful costumes... and, at the very end, they dropped bubbles from the ceiling.  I could just imagine Gavin's laughter as bubbles rained down on him.
After the show, we decided to go on the Safari ride and then call it a day.  Brian was hot... tired... and, quite frankly, he needed to get somewhere private to go to the bathroom.  (I totally get it, dude.)  The Safari ride was a lot of fun!  Brian sat on my lap to get a better view and Ed captured some great photos of the animals.
We were so close to the giraffes!
And we learned that Mommy elephants are pregnant for 22 months.  Most Moms on the Safari groaned, but I thought it was pretty amazing.  I love being pregnant!
Speaking of which, I am already slightly showing.  It seems impossible at only ten weeks, but I wouldn't make this up!  And it's not a belly from eating too much ice cream (which definitely is a goal I have accomplished on this trip).  We've been doing a lot of walking, but I'm making sure I'm drinking water and taking breaks.  Lots and lots of bathroom breaks, that is.

Tomorrow is our last day here and Brian is very much anticipating our trip to Hollywood Studios.  We'll be having lunch at Hollywood and Vine for Gavin - there is where we can meet his favorite characters ever... The Little Einsteins.  Brian is excited to see the Star Wars characters and we got very lucky that there is a Storm Trooper Parade and other Star Wars activities this weekend.  There's something called a Jedi Training Academy that we're hoping he can experience.  He's also excited to go on the Toy Story ride which I hear is quite similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride he loved so much in the Magic Kingdom.  We are going to try to make it to the Art of Animation Resort if we can fit it in without stressing Brian out with too much.  My friend, Amy, told me that they have the place set up to look just like Radiator Springs from the movie Cars.  Brian loves that movie - and he would be very excited to see Lightning McQueen and Mader.

Another successful day.  The only thing that could have made this trip better is Gavin.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Walt Disney World - Day Two...

This morning, after breakfast at the hotel, Brian had his first exciting moment of the day.  His very first bus ride.  It did not disappoint.  He must have told me four times on the shuttle from our hotel to Magic Kingdom, "Mama - I'm having so much fun."
We arrived at Magic Kingdom around 10:30 and just about 10:40 is when my waterworks began.
I was so emotional - it took me by surprise!  And then, as soon as we walked onto Main Street - a parade started.
Music and dancing and colors and energy - Gavin would have loved it.  I couldn't control the crying at that point and was glad it was a parade with many floats.  It gave me time to collect my sad self.
We all wore our Super G shirts in honor of Gavin.
Including Miss Sara!  
We got lots of questions from people - asking what the shirts meant.  It was always a struggle for me as to whether we should tell the story or not burden them with an awkward, sad moment at the "happiest place on Earth."  I would say 9 out of 10 times we told them about our Superhero, Gavin.

We had lunch at the Crystal Palace.  We weren't sure how Brian would be around the characters - whether he'd be scared of them, shy or excited.
I'll let the photos tell THAT story...
He was loving every moment of the experience.  He even got into asking them for autographs!
After we left the Crystal Palace, the skys turned dark and the wind started blowing - it was clear a storm was brewing.  We ran to shelter and stayed under cover until it blew over.  We all had ponchos, but none of us were interested in walking in the rain.  As an aside, I looked around for my fellow curly haired folks in this humid Florida weather.  Hardly saw a one!!  I'm guessing they were all the people with hats on.  (Note to self:  break out the hat tomorrow.)

Brian was very interested in seeing the Disney Castle.  I think he had an idea in his head that we could go inside and he'd see a house with all of his favorite characters living there.  He was slightly disappointed.  But I faked it when I brought him down a hallway and told him whose doors were whose, but they were out walking around the park and not home.  The poor child knocked on every (employee entrance) door in that hallway.  But he fell for it and can't wait to tell his friends that he was "inside Disney Castle!"
The three of us followed Brian's lead when he nixed the Alladin Magic Carpet Ride for a tour of the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.  He couldn't wait to climb up to the top.
I couldn't wait to meet him at the bottom!  I was not wasting my energy on 500 stairs!  Miss Sara and I happily waved to Brian and Ed from below.
By this time - about two o'clock - Brian had had it.  He was tired from the (regrettably late) night before and very hot.  All he wanted was to go back to the hotel.  I was worried because I knew we had reservations at "Chef Mickey" at 6:40pm where he would meet Mickey, Minnie and friends.  I was hoping we could get him to rally.  I chose for us to go on "It's A Small World" - a calm boat ride in the air conditioning.  The poor kid was not impressed.  Every turn into a new room of countries I heard, "Is this the end now?"  I can't say I blame him - it is a bit of a boring ride.
Ed and I chatted after we got outside.  We reminded ourselves that we weren't interested in forcing Brian to do anything he didn't want to do on this trip.  Dragging him around to experience things if he was miserable would be selfish.  But we also thought it would be a big bummer if he missed out meeting Mickey Mouse.  So, while I went for a walk to Disney's "Guest Relations" - Ed, Sara and Brian waited for me in Tomorrowland.

Disney customer service is incredible.  I'm not sure how they manage to satisfy everyone, but it really seems like they do as a rule.  I explained our situation - how Brian really wanted to leave and our Chef Mickey Reservation was hours away.  Next thing I know, she changed our reservation for less than an hour from that moment.  I was so relieved... and grateful.  I ended up crying in front of the poor Disney lady.  I was just a mess today.

When I got back to the crew to tell them the good news, we all decided to go on the "Buzz Lightyear" ride.  I was shocked that Brian was for it - and we had just enough time to go on the ride before leaving for dinner.

Ed and Brian were the perfect pair shooting their missles at the aliens that were floating around in 3D!
Sara and I were in the car in front of them laughing our heads off.  It was hard to tell who was more intense about defeating the aliens - Ed or Brian!  They both had SO much fun.  It was the only ride Brian went on - and I'm hopeful that it will be fresh in his memory tomorrow when he'll have more rides like that to choose from!
We got to Chef Mickey's and were thrilled that Brian had found his mojo.  He was much happier and really, really psyched to see more characters.

We ended the dinner with a napkin twirling dance party and Brian was getting the whole room going!  Check it out...
I was so happy to end our day on such a happy note.  I know Gavin was right here with us the entire time.  I could see it in his brother's shining, happy eyes.
We got back to the hotel for a bath and a normal bedtime for Brian and he's been sound asleep for hours now.  I'm hoping a great night's sleep will help him attack tomorrow.  We've decided to go into Animal Kingdom with a shortened plan for the day and let Brian be the ultimate tour guide.  This trip has truly always been about him.  It's the ultimate Love Bomb from his Mommy and Daddy.

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