After we wrapped up our family photo session, Kyle took Eva back to our hotel room for her nap and I wandered around in search of my family. It is a huge inconvenience to worry about nap time when you’re a pair of Disney die-hards like we are, so I appreciated that Kyle was willing to take it on the chin most of the time and be the one to take her back to the room.
Funny story: I knew that my family was somewhere over around New Orleans Square, but the park was crowded and I had gotten up pretty early. I decided to sit down across from The Haunted Mansion and wait until I saw them. I gave my aunt a buzz and we chatted for a while because she was out with my grandmother, waiting for the rest of our family to finish riding Splash Mountain. About five minutes into our conversation, I noticed that the woman next to me kept giving me pointed looks and I thought maybe she was annoyed by my phone call. I stood up to find a quieter place to chat and realized that my aunt was sitting on the other side of her. Can you imagine being that woman – sandwiched in our phone call?! (She was not amused, btw, and left shortly after. Some people have no sense of humor.)
Once my family regrouped, we went up to the Hungry Bear for lunch (healthy options but underwhelming overall) and then made our way over to the Winnie-the-Pooh ride because there was no wait. I thought my grandma would like it because she’s a bear fanatic, but my entire family thought it was lame and blamed me for dragging them onto a bad attraction. Apparently it doesn’t hold any real charm for non-kids and non-Disney fans.
Around this time, our group fractured. It was really impossible to keep moving with all fourteen of us staying together, especially since we were sort of divided into six mini-family groups. On the verge of being sucked into the slowest examination of the Pooh store that the world has ever seen, I snuck away with my brother and my cousin so we could ride Big Thunder Mountain. Anyone who remembers my wedding trip report will remember that my extended family moves at an agonizingly slow pace, so by the time we made it through the stand-by line and on/off the attraction, my family was just finishing up at the Pooh store and found us in front of Splash Mountain. This is why I advocate for breaking up those family groups, even when it’s a reunion trip. It’s truly impossible for a dozen people to efficiently enjoy anything together in a Disney park for more than an hour!
Kyle had made it back to the park with Eva at this point and we caught up with him in Tomorrowland while waiting for part of our group to ride the revamped Star Tours attraction. Eva was beyond pleased to see her fan club in attendance and made a big show of showing off her new ears and generally being adorable. We did pop over to It’s a Small World for a quick ride with the baby, but it turns out that two times in one trip was a little much for her and she was drop-her-off-the-boat annoying for most of the ride.
As dinner time approached, we decided to make an attempt to eat as a group even though we had no reservations and headed over to Downtown Disney around 5 in the hopes of getting an early table. I stopped in at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen first and was told that it would be a 45 minute wait, even though there were no visible patrons inside. So, I checked in with the Mexican restaurant across from the jazz kitchen and found that they could have a table together in 10 minutes. Suspiciously, when I went back to the jazz kitchen to take our names off the list, they said they could seat us immediately. Shady, no? I honestly would have preferred some Cajun food, but the weirdness of the situation led us over to the land of tacos and margaritas where we enjoyed a thoroughly reasonable (if forgettable) meal.
Parent note: the Mexican restaurant was a great choice for Eva because it was noisy enough to mask any fussing but not so crowded as to be overwhelming. We ordered a side of beans as soon as we sat down so that she’d have something to nosh on right away and it arrived within five minutes. It was a volcanic temperature, unfortunately, but they still get an “A” for the effort.
Confession: Kyle and I once again dumped the baby on my parents mid-dinner and snuck back to the parks for some “us” time. We’re basically horrible people who shirk our parenting responsibilities like the plague when we’re anywhere near a Disney park. Luckily we live in Salt Lake City where all of the fun has been thoroughly eradicated, so Eva has our full attention 90% of the time. (Just not when Phineas and Ferb is on.)
We stumbled back to my parents’ hotel room at park closing, soaked in Splash Mountain water and sure that the baby would be fast asleep. Psych! The downside to having on-site family child care while on a Disney vacation is that everyone was so excited to play with her that they kept feeding her cookies and tickling her to wind her up. The result was a baby who was practically vibrating with a sugar-high and the late night walk back to our hotel was marked by howls of disappointment as the space between Eva and grandma’s cookies got wider and wider.