Thursday, April 6, 2017

Disney vacation...Day 7: Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center!  This was the day that I (John) was looking forward to most and the only agenda I had for the trip.  I've been an astronomy geek since I was Greyson's age and have always wanted to go to the KSC.  It was everything I had hoped for and more.  The only bad thing all day was the fact that it was SUPER hot and humid!!

Shuttle Atlantis Boosters and Tank                             Rocket Forest

The kids had a great time in the Rocket Forest.  They climbed into Mercury and Gemini capsules and I got the show them the Mercury and Redstone rockets.  My father Dean worked on the safety crew for both of those project while in the EOD in the Air Force.  He saw all of the Redstone and all but one of the Mercury launches from the closest view point on the entire base. 

This is the NASA mascot
This is a T-38 Talon jet.  Each astronaut pilot was assigned one for personal training and use.

This is the memorial for all of the Astronauts that have died in service to NASA

It's hard to put into perspective how large the booster/tank assembly's really big!!

The Atlantis exhibit is one of the best theatrical reveals I have ever seen.  You come into a small theater and watch a short film about the last shuttle flight and Atlantis' journey to KSC.  Then at the end the screen open suddenly and you are face to face with THE Atlantis.  It was very impressive and kids and parents alike run cheering to get closer to her.  Have seen almost every launch on TV I was amazed at the size of her.  It is a massive aircraft and you can see the punishment she has taken flying to space and back.  The way the have her hung is truly amazing and allows you to see every angle.  It was super cool and a highlight of the trip for me.  In the hall they have a shuttle cockpit and all sorts of hands on science stuff for the kids.  The kids liked the actual practice escape slide you could go down......over and over and over again.
A replica a the Hubble Space Telescope
Space suit and EVA module
The kids loved the cockpit and made up an entire space mission and spectacular near crash while playing inside.

This was a mini space station set up the kids had a blast playing in.  


This is the building where the mate the spacecraft to the booster section
This was really cool as well.  It is the actual control room from the Apollo program.

We took a bus to the Saturn V exhibit which I have wanted to see since I was 5.  It was astonishing.  Julie and I talked about how it was similar to seeing the Giant Sequoia trees.  You can try to explain to someone the scale of it but you can't explain it.  Seeing the size and complexity of that machine left me in a state of awe.  I couldn't imagine being an astronaut and riding up the elevator to strap into that thing.  That is bravery on a very rare level. 

Newspaper front pages from all of the worlds major papers the day of the moon landing.  The lined the walls for hundreds of feet.

Replica of the lunar lander.
The command capsule

I just hope the kids and Julie had half as much fun as I did!!

Disney vacation...Day 5: Animal Kingdom

Anyone who has been to Disney World knows how exhausting a vacation like this can be.  Months and months of planning, hundreds of hours (in my case) designing the vacation of a lifetime and it comes down to a series of days of jam-packed excitement and miles and miles of pounding pavement.  By this day our kids (and John and I for that matter) had run out of a bit of steam.  It was nice to have this day be at Animal Kingdom to take in a bit of nature.  This park is smaller and is considered a "half day" park; in other words if you are the general public and not of the Stenen blood line you could maybe do it in a half day?  In my opinion there is plenty to keep you busy for the entire day and I like not to miss a single thing so we did in fact spend the entire day here.

We got to the park a little later than every other day and missed opening hour.  Did I mention how tired we all were by now?  Ha!  Understatement.  We started by getting some pictures at the front of the park (of course!).  After we checked off that mandatory activity we proceeded to get the kids their Wilderness Explorers booklet where they earned stickers throughout the park by visiting areas and answering questions along the way.  It was nearing lunchtime so we got some pizza at a place near the front of the park.

We took a peek at the Tree of Life.  Pretty cool but never went inside.
Got some more obligatory pictures of the kids in front of it.  Here they are showing off their Wilderness Explorers passports.

The park is really done well.  Other than the overwhelmingly number of white tourists felt like we were in Africa.  The heat played a part in that as well!  We went through the Pagani Forest Exploration Trail and saw some cool birds.

We moved on to the Killmanjaro Safaris because we had a Fast Pass.  This was neat until we got stuck in the middle of the tour in a Jeep traffic jam.  Apparently there was an animal up ahead of us that was blocking the trail so we all had to wait a while for it to move to continue on with seeing the elephants, hippos, rhinos, etc.

After our "safari" we decided to check out the Festival of the Lion King because we had heard excellent things about this show.  One cast member told us that it was her favorite thing in all of Disney so we couldn't miss it.  Today John and I were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary and we decided we'd actually wear the buttons that Disney provided.  Hunter had been wearing his "Birthday Button" for the entire trip (because he learned early on that he received special treatment for doing so) but this was the first time we had put ours on.  When we got to where the auditorium for the show we saw a gigantic line of people waiting to get in.  I thought we might not even get in but then a cast member came up to us as we were parking our stroller to mosey on over to the line and waved for us to follow her.  She proceeded to let us in the back door before anyone else and marched us over to front row seats!  I swear it had to have been the buttons!!!  We couldn't believe it!  It felt like heaven in the air conditioning while we waited for the other audience members to be let in and the show to begin. 

This show was quite impressive!  The colors, the costumes, the was super entertaining and a show I won't soon forget!  The boys liked it too!  Greyson was a little timid being that close to the action and insisted on sitting in my lap the entire time.  That made it difficult to take pictures but I found a way nonetheless!

Hunter was pulled out on the stage at the end of the show to "dance around" (mostly walk) the perimeter of the stage which was pretty cool.  Great show!

We then had a fast pass for the Kali River Rapids ride which is a big raft/water ride.  It was super fun and definitely cooled us all off.  It was really funny watching the kids and John get soaked while the raft rotated down the "river."  Everyone said they were wetter than anyone else by the end of it all.  BIG smiles from all the boys.


Afterwards we went on the bridge where there were some buttons that shot out water that you could aim at the rafts of people passing down below.  The boys got a kick out of that and we spent a good chunk of time there.

Believe it or not we were still HOT!  Florida heat is ridiculous and it was only May!  I can't imagine what it would be like in July or August.  So we used our meal plan to get our snacks for the day...big popsicles!  They were so refreshing.  We found a cooling fountain near a restroom that kept the boys busy and entertained for quite some time.

Back to some site seeing...we went to Maharjah Jungle Trek and saw some more animals, got some more stickers for our passports.  At this point the clouds had rolled in and it suddenly started to look like it was going to rain.  John was talking about heading back to the hotel to get the car rental because we were heading out of Disney late that afternoon when the park closed.  We decided it was time to split up.  He left the park, I stayed with the kids and saw some more attractions.

Hunter really wanted to go on Dinosaur so we made our way over to the other side of the park.  It was a pretty long walk.  We entered Dinoland (where Dinosaur was located) and headed straight for the ride. 

While Hunter rode the ride the boys and I went over to get Donald's signature for their signature books and a picture of course.  We also went into a gift shop and got our pressed pennies for the boy's penny books.  Hunter was beaming from ear to ear when he got off the ride and couldn't stop excitedly talking about it.  I think it might have been his favorite ride of all the way he was acting!  He said the ride broke down in the middle which is why it took him so long to return to us but it didn't bother him one bit.  He said he made friends with some of the other people on the ride to pass the time.  Crazy 10 year old!  What a birthday for him.

The park was closing up so we headed toward the entrance.  I tried scouting any last minute sticker opportunities but all the stations had pretty much closed up.  We stopped at the front of the park to wait for daddy and enjoyed some ring pops as well.  The lighting was better with the cloud cover so I asked the boys to pose one last time at the entrance before heading out.

We told the boys before even leaving Wisconsin that they were going to be allowed one souvenir from the trip (otherwise it gets out of hand).  Brody and Greyson chose a light up Mickey Mouse wand/light up sword thingys.  Tyler bought a Test Track remote control car when we were at Epcot.  Hunter still hadn't chosen his souvenir.  He wanted to head back to Epcot because he liked a souvenir shop we went through earlier in the trip.  We met Daddy in that shop.  He ended up choosing a really nice photo album to put all of his pictures from the trip.  John and I gave him his first "nice" camera (Canon point and shoot) for his big birthday gift a few days earlier.

What a GREAT Disney trip!  We were all very tired but made memories to last a lifetime!