First, we came home from the weekend with the 10k behind us, and I knew I needed to sign up for another race to keep myself moving. In a momentary loss of sanity, I signed up for the Disney Half Marathon in January. What! A half marathon!!!! I never thought I'd see the day! But, I really feel that having my first major race be a 10k was helpful to me - I knew I couldn't just get up and do it; I had to actually train for it. So, I was afraid that if I signed up for another 5k or 10k, I wouldn't take it seriously because I knew I could do it. Apparently I thrive on the fear of failure, folks. So Eric and I both signed up for the Disney Half Marathon, and the kids are signed up for their respective races for that weekend, too. We're doing all this again (except longer!) in 2017!
And that is what inspired the next crazy thing: we became Disney Annual Passholders. We had never really considered it before, because 1) it's expensive and 2) with Eric's next career move still being so up in the air, we could possibly be leaving the state at any time. So it didn't seem wise.
But, this year Disney raised the prices of the Florida resident tickets we usually get for three or four days at the parks, and adjusted the prices of annual passes in our favor. When we realized we'd be back for another three or four days in January (regardless of where we are living at the time), we realized that the cost of those tickets plus what we already paid last month nearly added up to the cost of annual passes. For just a little more, we could also get free parking, discounts and a few extra days here and there at the parks. Knowing that we could put the ticket costs we already paid towards the annual passes, it just seemed to be the smart way to go!
Apparently, if you want to upgrade previously purchased/used tickets to annual passes, you have to do so in person. So, when Eric had a Friday off school at the end of last month, we took the opportunity to drive down to Orlando to do just that. And of course, we wouldn't just drive down and back, right? We decided to put our passes to use right away and spent the day at Epcot!
The kids were very excited to have another day at Disney so soon.
The Flower & Garden festival was underway, and there were lots of cool topiaries to be seen.
Our first stop was France in the World Showcase, to meet Belle (in the blue dress!).
The kids and Belle
Then, we wanted to head back to "Headquarters" to meet Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. On the way, however, we stumbled upon a spot with five characters to meet: Baloo (Jungle Book), Goofy, Rafiki (Lion King), Eeyore and Mickey. So, we had to make a stop!
Man, these kids love character encounters.
After that, we made it to Headquarters but had a pretty lengthy wait. For the most part the kids did okay with it. When we finally made it up to meet Joy and Sadness, they were so cute! Ellie was just thrilled (she wore her "Joy dress" for the occasion and everything). They danced with Joy (Sadness did a very sad slow turn herself) and waved quietly at Sadness. It was very sweet.
Ellie with all the memories on the walls (as we waited in line)
Fun with Sadness and Joy
The happiest baby in the world gets hugged by Joy herself
By then we were pretty hungry for lunch, we went back out to the World Showcase for a pizza lunch in Italy. Afterwards, we caught a flag show out in the courtyard.
E.J. was so excited, he asked to take a picture with his pizza: "Mama! Pizza! Picture! Pizza! Picture!"
Italy really brings out the blue in her eyes, doesn't it? Perhaps we should go to the real Italy...
The flag show performers, and my three favorite Italians!
From there, we continued around the World Showcase...
We had to stop for a photo in Japan for Aunt Heather!
...and ended up in Morocco, where we met Aladdin and Jasmine. Ellie was so excited to meet Jasmine (and immediately put on her Jasmine pajamas when we got home that night), but in the moment, she was so shy!
E.J. in Morocco
Visiting with Jasmine and Aladdin
Our last planned stop was Turtle Talk with Crush, so we headed out that way. Ellie sat down in front for the show and both kids enjoyed it! They also liked all the aquariums in the building, and totally loved the "Bruce the Shark" photo op.
Family photo with Nemo, his dad and Dory
Turtle talking with Crush
By that time, the day was getting on and we had to head back to Jacksonville. Both kids passed out immediately in the car, so I'll take that as a good sign that they enjoyed their day!
So, our little spur-of-the-moment day trip was a big success! We're planning another overnight Disney trip for this weekend, but then the Disney stuff will die down (I can hear you all sighing, "finally") because the passes we got are blacked out for the summer. So, this weekend's trip will likely be our last until the fall, depending on where we are by that point!
If you want to see the rest of our Epcot pictures, click here to see the full set!