Summer School 2022

What can I say about this year’s summer school? One thing is for certain…I know I’ll never top it!

Yes, we had a reading list, and there were some amazing choices on there (Ladybug in particular really enjoyed many of the titles), but this summer was all about travel and experiences, including visits to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It was like four days of field trips on steroids, where we went on rides, built things, and even learned things! (And let’s not forgot the three days of field trip equivalents in Washington D.C., where we visited monuments and memorials and museums, toured the US Capitol, and walked the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon! Plus the day at Kennedy Space Center after our Disney fun concluded!)

Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:

And games:

And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:

Ladybug and Bunny especially enjoyed baking and decorating some Mickey Mouse cookies:

It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!

And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!

We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.

Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!

50 Years of Disney World

The sliver lining in the cloud that was us having to postpone our Disney World vacation for a year is that we were there for the park’s 50th anniversary, the “World’s Most Magical Celebration.” The celebratory atmosphere was everywhere at the parks, but especially with the golden statues of Disney characters scattered throughout the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. We didn’t see all of them, but we also didn’t do too badly!

There were other hints of a celebration, including cakes with “50” toppers:

There were other 50s here and there, as well, including on the castle, in the landscaping, and on the lamppost signs:

And the main characters have special anniversary costumes…I got pretty close to Donald Duck in his!

I love being part of a celebration, and no one knows how to celebrate like Disney!

Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Eleven

Animal Kingdom; 28,465 steps

Our final day at Disney included visiting all four of the parks, starting with our first trip to Animal Kingdom:

Every Disney park has a central, iconic location…at Animal Kingdom, it’s the Tree of Life:

We headed straight for the Kilimanjaro Safaris upon our arrival.

We got to see a lot of animals in fairly realistic habitats.

After the safari, we walked the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (and saw an adorable baby gorilla!), and then walked around the park a bit:

We got to listen and talk to a talented musician who played the kora:

There was a cool kite show on the water:

We didn’t forget to take a family photo!

We only went on one other ride (we had talked about the Kali River Rapids, but at that point, I was just over being wet and wearing a plastic poncho, and the Expedition Everest roller coaster, which some of us thought about riding was closed)…the TriceraTop Spin, which I thought was fun.

We only spent a few hours at Animal Kingdom, because we had some other things we wanted to do. We drove over to EPCOT so we could hop on the monorail to visit a few of the resorts that had anniversary pressed pennies we wanted to add to our collection.

One of those resorts was the Contemporary, which is home to a fantastic Mary Blair mural (details to come later).

While we were riding the monorail, we passed by Donald Duck in his 50th anniversary finery:

Once park hopper hours began, we stopped by the Magic Kingdom to collect a few more pressed pennies…and see Eeyore, who waved his ears at me (I was really good at frantically waving at characters by this point!):

We then headed into EPCOT, where we finally found Goofy:

At this point, we split up so we could maximize our penny finding. Bunny and I headed off in one direction, and I’m pretty sure we had the best time, starting with the views on our route:

And then I finally met my favorite Disney character, Daisy Duck!!!

Bunny and I decided we would take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios while everyone else drove. I feel bad that they missed out, because it was a really fun ride, and we even got to make a transfer at one of the hotels!

At Hollywood Studios, we found Donald and Daisy (again). I told you I had the waving thing figured out, because they definitely noticed me!

Since Bunny and I had a little extra time, we shared yet another Mickey-shaped treat:

And took a look at The Hollywood Tower Hotel. I had no interest in riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but I did want to see it.

Once we regrouped, we got in what I think was our longest line of the trip, to ride Rise of the Resistance, which was really, really cool.

We also rode Star Tours twice, and Darth Vader showed up both times, which was very exciting. A few members of our family actually managed to ride all three Star Wars rides that day, which was quite an accomplishment given their popularity! Plus, those who were interested also managed to squeeze in a ride on the previously-mentioned Tower of Terror, and they had a great time, especially since they got to ride it as the sun was setting!

It was really had to leave, because we knew that even though we still had a few days of vacation left, our time at Disney was over.

Up next: Kennedy Space Center!