Tahoe CMas Vacay – Day 1

The trip from Carpinteria to Tahoe, via Sacramento, on Friday was super easy.  We flew Southwest Airlines out of Burbank, and loaded up the back airplane stairs, per usual.  I explained to Lucy and Ro that although we get our seats a bit faster by using the back stairs, since other airports don’t de-plane from the rear, we end up being some of the last to de-plane.  To my great surprise, Sacramento airport used 2 sets of stairs to de-plane.  Awesome!

We are staying at The Lodge At Lake Tahoe, in South Lake Tahoe.  We are about a 10 minute walk from Stateline, NV,  It is a bit strange, being in a place that doesn’t have any Christmas decorations in the rooms.  On Saturday, Roly and I needed to do some last minute shopping and other than that, we didn’t have any other plans.  So, inspired by one of the mini stories in Dragon’s Merry Christmas by Dav Pilkey, we got some art supplies and a bag of multi-colored candy, and decided to make our own Christmas decorations.  We made 2 Christmas wreaths, and 1 Christmas tree.  We used candy as the decorations for the tree and color in the wreaths.  Even Max jumped in to help out.

Tahoe Christmas decorations craft party

Tahoe Christmas decorations craft party

Pleased with the results

Very pleased with the results

Tahoe Christmas Decorations from Matt Theule on Vimeo.

Orlando Vacation – Day 6

Down time day. The Theules had used up all the Disney ticket days, so the Bernards went to Epcot again for the early part of the day. For an early dinner we all went to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. We had a great dinner and a great show. It was a good event with which to end the day and the vacation.

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Orlando Vacation – Day 5

Hello Magic Kingdom. Toby had been watching the weather forecasts all week, and this was the day that was consistently listed as thunderstorms/showers. When we entered the park, it was a cloudy chilly day, but there was no rain. We did a bunch of rides with the Fast Passes and did some walk ons. We went over to the Snow White 7 Dwarves ride and saw that it was an 80 minute wait time, but we used our special Fast Passes to walk on, twice. Since this park has some really good kid stuff that only Roly would be interested in, Jan spent most of the day with the olders while Toby and I stayed with Roly. Roly got selected by Captain Jack Sparrow to be a pirate apprentice. We came together for meals but then split up again. At about 6p, it finally started to lightly rain. I went with Jan and the olders to Big Thunder Mountain while Toby took Roly to some more kids rides. On the way out of the park, Jan saw that the Country Bear Jamboree show was starting very soon, so we detoured. It was fun watching this ‘flashback’ show because it was a staple of every Disneyland trip as a kid.

Roly had pooped out very quickly, so Toby took him back to the resort. However, she had lost her room key and couldn’t get in with Roly. She was super tired but had to wait while we drove back from the park. It was not a good experience for her.

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Orlando Vacation – Day 4

Epcot. This is definitely a 2-day park. There is so much to see here, but not a lot of rides. We got into the park right away and did all the Fast Pass stuff that Toby had planned for us. We had some evening things to do (Dive Quest for me and Toby and the Fireworks show for everyone), so the middle of the day was open. We all elected to go home and take naps to be extra refreshed for the evening. It was a good decision. At 5p, Toby and I went back to Epcot to do our scuba dive in the Living Seas aquarium. It was an hour long ‘back stage’ tour of the aquarium facilities (6+ million gallons of water). Then a 40-minute dive in the tank that was 200+ feet long. It was a great experience. Jan brought the kids over to the glass and they watched us swim around for a few minutes. It was very fun.

At the start of the Fireworks show, we had a great location. We were enjoying some big explosions when a large piece of expended cardboard firework canister came down and hit Roly in the face. There was a Disney employee nearby who saw what happened and went right into action. Roly wasn’t visibly injured although he said that the cardboard was hot when it hit him. We had a couple of managers come over to fill out the incident reports. Toby and Roly and the managers went inside a store to get the information recorded, and to help Roly calm down, they gave him a marshmallow treat. When the rest of the kids saw this (from outside the store), they began scheming how they could be injured to get some swag. We had to wait for a higher level manager to come over, and so all the kids were offered soda and other sugar snacks to pass the time. This incident was a great example of the premium quality of Disney employees and the whole Disney experience. The people involved were over the top excellent. They were very conscientious of asking about the welfare of the entire group. They were working hard to make sure that this negative incident didn’t ruin our whole Disney experience. To that end, when they asked Toby if there was anything they could get us, she said that we didn’t have any Fast Passes to the Snow White 7 Dwarves ride. They gave us two special slips of paper that gave our whole party 2 FP trips to any ride in any park. Not that I would wish my son to get hit in the face with Fireworks debris again, but I appreciate how much Disney worked to ‘make it right’. In the end, Roly was fine.

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Orlando Vacation – Day 3

Back to Disney. Today was spent at Disney Hollywood Studios. Toby had done a ton of research and planned out our park days to give us the most efficient time. In the 30 days before our trip, she had organized our Fast Passes to get us on the best rides with the least amount of waiting in line. The only ride she was not able to get us FPs for was the Snow White 7 Dwarves ride at Magic Kingdom. Those Fast Passes were already completely given out! The Rock N Roll roller coaster was a FP ride we had that Roly was too short to ride on. We asked how to do the switch with him, and we were given an extra FP ticket for the waiting rider. It turned out that this FP was good all day (not just the 1 hour window) and was good for 3 riders! Max didn’t feel good and dropped out of line, and the Ride Operator gave him another FP ticket. So we now had 2 switched FP tickets which was enough for most of our group to ride again. Woo Hoo! We then began dragging Roly all over to get these cool Fast Passes.

I rode Tower of Terror with the entire Bernards family, but none of my family would join me. Toby really wanted to see the Fantasia light / fireworks show, but we were late to it. She ended up getting a pretty good seat, but the rest of the Theules had horrible seats. The Bernards opted to do another ride on Tower of Terror. Nathan got separated from them and ended up waiting at our reunion spot. Kudos to him for waiting 30 minutes alone.