As it turned out, I think this was the best day of the entire trip. It was probably because we came into it with the least expectations, but, still.
The park was the closest of all of them - a quick 20 minutes, with preferred parking that meant a hundred yard walk from the car to the front gate. We went in, got another complementary stroller, and started exploring. The strollers, by the way, might have been the most useful thing that were provided to us. It wasn't so much that The Boy needed to be carried around; he is old enough and big enough to walk on his own. For me, it was the security of having both boys seated in front of me in the enormous crowds. I have nightmares of the boys wandering off into the tens of thousands of people and not being able to find us! We stopped at the stingray tank and looked at the rays. I touched one, Little Bear touched one, and The Wife touched one. The Boy wanted nothing to do with it. From there, we went to the dolphin tank and watched them play for a little while. The boys liked that well enough, but only for about five or six minutes. From there, we went towards the Shamuu Stadium, where the big whale show takes place. Along the way, we found a person sized snow globe, and we used our Make A Wish pass and took some pictures inside.
Along the way, we found Shamu's Happy Harbour, which was a Kiddieland inside of the park. It was awesome, and it made the day wonderful! They had a The Boy-sized roller coaster, slides, train ride, spinny thing, and an amazing hundred-feet high net climb! We did the little roller coaster and one of the spinny things before the whale show, and it was a chore to drag the children away.
The whale show is amazing, if you've never seen it. The animals are beautiful creatures, and they do amazing tricks. Check out the "Whale Done" books about teaching and child raising; it has many of the Love and Logic principles that I use daily, as well as tips and stories about training the whales. It makes sense; you're not going to force a dozen ton killer whale to do anything that he doesn't want to do. The boys were somewhat interested, for the first twenty minutes. We left slightly early, figuring discretion was the better part of valor. We went back to the Happy Harbour. The kids played there for another couple of hours, book ending lunchtime. Both boys climbed up to the very top of the net latter, which meant that Mom and Daddy did, also.
Worst part? Getting down, you have to climb to the stairs through an intricate series of plastic tubes. 37-year old knees are not meant to do these things. I made it (thankfully, I'm in pretty darn good shape), and the rest of playtime proceeded without incident.
On the way out of the park, we got caught in Disney traffic on the highway. It turned a 20 minute trip into. 50-minute trip, which was hairy because we were trying to keep the kids from falling asleep in the car and ruining nap time. No issues, there; we got back to the villa and napped as a family.
It wAs a pleasant surprise, all week, to be able to sleep with the five of us in the room. We were not concerned about The Boy and The Baby; neither one of them has any issues with sharing the bed. We were trifled about Little Bear, who only grudgingly shares a room. We needn't have worried. We were carefully with how we timed everything, so that he wasn't trying to fall asleep with other things happening in the room, but we didn't have an issue.
Little Bear snores.
The morning before the park, Mickey and Minnie came to the resort, along with Mary Poppins and Pluto. It was pretty cool. The boys actually got about ten minutes with them, to talk a little bit and to interact with the characters, which they never would have gotten in the park.
At night, we did our wishing star and got our wishing pillows. The star is really cute. You do a gold star, write the child's name on it or draw a picture or something like that, and you go over to the magic fairy box. You put the star in the box, call out the fairy's name, and the fairy flies from the tv screen, bumps her way up the box, and takes the star and flies away with it. By the next morning, the star is hanging on the ceiling along with the others. Every child who has stayed at the resort has done a star. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking thing, to see the thousands and thousands of stars hanging on the ceiling.
Political statement of the day: imagine if 1% of the money spent to bailout greedy and stupid banks and businesses, if 1% of the taxes that corporations do not pay, was put towards research on some of these diseases. Every one of those stars is a child whose family's life was disrupted or destroyed. Many, many of those children are no longer with us
The wishing pillows are also neat. There's an owl living inside of a tree inside the castle, and The Boy had to us the special knocker to wake him up. The owl asks a couple of questions, and then the child puts their hand on the tree's heart and thinks about the people they love best. ("I'm thinking about Daddy!" That's my buddy.) the tree shakes, and the pillows magically appear in a nearby stump. The Boy got a Lightning McQueen pillow, Little Bear got Spongebob, and The Baby got robots.
It was an early night after that. We did get more ice cream - yes, we had ice cream for breakfast and dinner. And, I did pick up some Starbucks on the way to Seaworld, which was frustrating because I was stuck behind a family of people from the Deep South who had to have the entire Starbucks menu explained to them. Sigh. Just let me get my venti Pike's with room and get out, thank you.