Quick summary so far....
Friday we drove to Minneapolis - and it went fabulously well. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites using their Park N Fly package - highly recommend it!
Saturday we flew non-stop from Minneapolis to Orlando, arriving by noon. Picked up our rental vehicles (due to a delay in getting there we ended up getting a free upgrade to an extended van because they were out of the "short" ones - mental note for next time, take your time getting to the rental counter!). Got to our house, (check out Romancing the Mouse - amazing vacation home rental company!!) ordered in pizza for a super late lunch. Swimming!!! Went to Walmart Supercenter to get groceries and autograph books for the girls.
Sunday we went to Animal Kingdom - perfect weather, not too busy, minimal lineups by using one of the Unofficial Guide to Disney Touring Plans. We went to Giordano's for supper - yum-o!
Monday Nathan took the girls to IHop for breakfast, then we stayed at the house and relaxed and swam in the morning. Later we did some shopping. We went to Prime Outlets at the north end of International Drive. We tried a short cut to get there, and thanks to my amazing navigational abilities, we didn't even get lost. Don't think it was much of a short cut however. :) Definitely some excellent deals there. The only complaint is the lack of coffee shops down there - what's up with that? They had a big food court in the middle, but there should have had coffee shops at both ends of the "mall". If that was in Canada there likely would've been 2 or 3 Tim Horton's. We went to Ponderosa for supper - that was a mistake. Blech.
Tuesday we went to Magic Kingdom where the girls got to meet the princesses - total highlight! We went to Uno's for supper - absolutely fabulous!! The girls were so tired they all fell asleep at the restaurant. Emma fell asleep right away and didn't even eat any supper till after we got back to the house.
Wednesday Nathan took the girls back to IHop and we spent the day recovering from the previous day, relaxing at our pool while Mom & Dad, Shaun & Lynn went to Epcot for the day. It was great! We did a bit of shopping late afternoon and then we all met up at TGI Friday's for supper.
Thursday Mom & Dad, Shaun & Lynn went to Blizzard Beach water park while we took the girls back to Magic Kingdom...... by ourselves! It actually went really well. We went knowing that we'd just do what we could do, stay till they got tired and go home. The only downside was that it turned out to be Extra Magic Hours (which means the Disney resort guests get to come to the park at least an hour early and stay late which means you lose the advantage of getting there at park opening) - which would be why the UTG didn't recommend MK on Thursday - oh well!
While Nathan and the girls waited in Ariel's Grotto to see The Little Mermaid, I grabbed fastpasses for us all at Peter Pan's Flight as that was one of the girl's favorites. Toontown (and, therefore, the princess autograph lineup) officially opened at 10, so I went and fed Jacob nearby around 9:30 to wait for it to open so I could go stand in line for them. I knew it would open early and it did - at 9:45 - people literally RAN to the lineups. Craziness! Jacob & I restrained ourselves from running, and still managed to get a decent spot in the lineup - in fact I ended up having to let some people go ahead of me before the girls got there. This was my first time seeing them in a character lineup (usually I used those times to feed Jacob) so it was really neat to see them interacting with the characters. BTW - make sure to warn your kids ahead of time that the only characters that actually talk to them are the face characters (like the princesses), the others (like Minnie, Donald, etc) do not actually talk.
The girls rode Goofy's Barnstormer rollercoaster again and then got to tour Minnie's House because it was open today after having been closed for renovations before. Then we rode the Peter Pan ride using our fastpasses. We wanted to go see Storytime with Belle but it was full when we got there and we didn't want to stick around till the next show. We let the girls take a peek inside the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique - the only way to see any part of the castle at all since we were unable to get reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant. Then we went around to the front of the castle where we watched Dream Along with Mickey - a live performance by numerous characters including some princesses - this was definitely another highlight for the girls. After the show we wandered the gift shops a bit, buying the girls each a hat (except Olivia because she insisted she didn't want one). Then we left and went back to the house for a late lunch, swimming and relaxing till we met up with the others for supper at Red Lobster.
Here's some more pictures....