Today was Hollywood Studios and, as predicted, the best day was saved for last.
Forgive me that this entry is heavy on photos - but you'll see that it would have been impossible to cut any of them out!!
We wore another set of Super G shirts again!
The first thing we did, on the advice of many readers, was split up. Ed ran to get fast passes for the Toy Story ride while Sara, Brian and I ran to sign Brian up for the Jedi Training Academy. Fortunately, Ed got tickets to the ride for that afternoon. Unfortunately, Brian and I were relegated to the "alternate" line. We were told we'd have to check in twenty minutes before each show and take our chances that people wouldn't show up. We weren't very hopeful!
As soon as we left there, we found a spot in the shade for the highlight of Brian's life - the Storm Trooper Parade. Brian was so patient for a whole HOUR waiting for the parade to start... but it was worth it to have front row (shady) seats. He was completely mesmerized and so happy to be up close to all of these Star Wars characters!
Seeing Chewbacca (and his size) made his jaw drop... especially when he waved at him!
After the parade, we headed to lunch at "Hollywood and Vine" - the character meal I was looking forward to the most. Gavin's favorite show was "Little Einsteins" and that was one of the characters promised to be there.
The first person Brian met was "Jake" from the show, "Jake and the Neverland Pirates."
Jake signed Brian's autograph book and then pointed to the Super G symbol, obviously wanting to know what it meant. I told him the story and the next thing I knew Jake was hugging me... hugging Ed and hugging Sara. It was very sweet.
Next was "Special Agent Oso" who, admittedly, we didn't really know at all. But he's cute!
And then, the big moment. June from the "Little Einsteins." Brian got her autograph and a photo...
...and so did Gavin.
Handy Manny was the last one around and was so sweet. He must have chatted in the back with Jake because Manny had hugs for all of us, too.
After lunch, I made the decision to try only ONE time to get in to the Jedi Training Academy. I told Ed and Sara - "Let's see if Brian is chosen as an alternate for this next show - and if he's not, we'll just forget about it and go do other things." I couldn't imagine checking in every 40 minutes all afternoon.
I checked in with the alternate registration desk and, once again, was asked what my Super G shirt meant. And, once again, I debated whether I should tell him what it really meant - or just say simply that the G stood for Gavin, our son's name. In the end, I decided to tell the story.
We sat down and waited for the alternates to be called and suddenly we heard "Is Brian L here?" I jumped up and screamed!! Who can know if we were chosen because people didn't show up... or if Gavin had something to do with it. Either way - we were so excited for our future little Jedi. He was given a Jedi robe and placed in line with the other children - and then they paraded outside to the main stage for their training.
Brian really wasn't sure what was going on - but was completely mesmerized by everything.
They gave each child a light saber and instructed them verbally how to activate them, but Brian was clueless. Luckily, a Jedi trainer was right there to hook him up!
Soon, the two Star Wars characters from the "dark side" that these little Jedi's were going to battle arrived. Darth Vader...
...and Darth Maul.
Brian battled Darth Maul (after he was helped again with activating his light saber!) and was so brave!
From my perspective, he looked hot... a little unsure of what was going on... and not really impressed. But as soon as he took my hand to walk out of there, he wouldn't stop talking about the experience. He had so, SO much fun!!!
We took off for a walk to the Toy Story ride... but stopped for a quick photo-op.
The Toy Story ride was hilarious. Brian and I sat together and had a lot of fun!!
After the ride, we were able to meet some "Toy Story" characters! The Green Army Man...
Brian and Ed had a great time at all three parks collecting pressed pennies and quarters from machines all over.
We even got a souvenir book for him to store all of them and he loved filling it.
As we were walking along, we found a Storm Trooper wandering around and Brian was psyched!!
He was even MORE psyched when he saw Darth Vader nearby!
The final stop was a visit to meet Lightning McQueen and Mader the Tow Truck.
After some ice cream (that melted in two seconds in the extremely hot weather!), we headed to the parking lot to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Most days we took a free shuttle back and forth from our hotel (which was near Downtown Disney and purposely away from the parks). But a few times we took a taxi for convenience. Many taxis have carseats available (it is Disney World after all!) - you just have to ask! It was so nice that we didn't have to rent a car.
We also didn't bring our own stroller. I found out about a WONDERFUL stroller rental company, "Orlando Stroller Rentals" that rents high end strollers and drops them off and picks them up at your hotel. And, as if that isn't enough, they are more comfortable than the hard plastic rental strollers you can get inside each park - and the entire rental time was cheaper. We had a very comfortable Citi Mini Stroller with a great sunshade, a huge basket and a rain cover that came in handy a few times. I was asked, when ordering online, to type in our family name for the stroller tag and chose this:
When we got back to the hotel, we all headed down to the pool for one last swim. Brian has amazed us. He went from fearful to fearless...
...to almost TOO fearless!
We'll definitely be signing him up for swimming lessons when we get home!
Tomorrow morning we'll be leaving the hotel at 10am for the airport. We're excited to get home. This has been an unexpectedly wonderful vacation. I think all of us - Ed, Brian, Miss Sara and I - needed this happy diversion. We loved devoting our time and energy into Brian while dedicating the trip to Gavin. He was there...in everything we did. Down to the details.
We will be back, Disney World!