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Animals, Wookies, and Friends Oh My!!

Normally our lives won’t be WDW Parks every day, but because of Craig having vacation this week, we have made it our goal to get to the Parks to do “something” at each one.  The only day we had to make early and make the most of, was today, due to it being “Star Wars Weekends.”  I promised I would share the magic, so here goes nothing!

Yesterday- we waited again, this time for furniture being delivered to the house.  We bought a beige couch and love seat, so we could FINALLY have something to sit on!  They came and went, and after Craig got back with the kids, we decided it was time to head to Animal Kingdom for some Disney magic.

Since we live in the AK area, it takes minutes to get there, so we left after lunch at home to enter the wild.  We enjoyed hearing the sounds of AK as walked into the gate, and I stopped by Guest Relations to get a refund on the parking I had to pay at Epcot the first night before we got our AP’s.  Everything went smoothly and we were in, enjoying every inch of the Park. Emily bought a new hat, she looks so cute in the Safari ones!!

We fastpassed Dinosaur and had an early dinner at Flame Tree BBQ while we waited it out.  No one around, sitting near the water, watching Everest, and purely relaxing.  We laughed, we played, and just got to have our moment without being in the crowds.  I am sure you all have been there- where you are just sick of the heat, the crowds, and you just need a “piece” of the “peace.”  I want to encourage all of you who vacation to WDW, to find your moments of peace throughout your day or you will lose your mind- like many we have seen all week.

Kyra and I rode Dinosaur, and as we walked past the Carnival area, my friend, Sharon, said “Hey Amy!” It was so nice to finally meet her, another friend.  We found Craig and Emily and we all walked over to the Pangani Forest Trail to say hello to the Gorillas, one of my favorite parts of AK.  Well, we found out that the family of Gorillas go to bed at 4:45, but the Males were still out, who live on the opposite side.  Before even getting to them, we had a very active Hippo who swam over and over again to the large glass viewing area- Emily and I sat and took pic and after pic of it- was the closest I had ever gotten to a Hippo before.  The Male Gorillas were out, so we snapped some pics and just stared- so beautiful and amazing to see.  We called it an early day and it felt great to know we could come back.

After we all swam in our own pool, Kyra and I headed to Publix to grocery shop.  I would say they were very expensive, and I would compare it to “Festival” in WI.  The frozen pizza, which was made in WI, was around $2.00 in WI, but it is $5.99 here- needless to say I didn’t buy it.  I will either have a case sent to me from WI or I will see what Walmart charges around here for it.

We have been hitting bed hard every night- like we are on vacation, but not.  We have that “Disney Exhaustion” yet we have it while living here- its an odd thing when you know you don’t have to have it.  I am sure we will find the balance soon between play and life, but with it being summer, our big change, no school, and Craig being off this week- nothing is normal right now for us. LOL

We set the alarm this morning, and we got to DHS by 8:15.  Well… they had opened the gates EARLY at 8:00 a.m., so if you ever are coming for a special event, you may get in sooner than you think.  We took an immediate left to the “good” side of the Park, and got in line for Chewbacca right away.  He came about 9:30 and it was worth the wait, he is so fun and friendly!  Before we got in line, we fastpassed STAR TOURS so we could ride it after the Meet N Greet with Chewy.  By the time we got out of line, it was 9:30 and right on time to walk on to the ride.  We loved the new stuff in line, and we were lucky to be in the first row.  Emily held on to Craig for dear life as we did Pod racing and then dipped underwater- very cool!  I liked it a lot, and liked that they pumped cold air in while we rode- I seem to get sick after this ride because of how hot it is in the simulator and all of the moving around.  I didn’t feel sick at all after getting off,  but it was incredibly hot in the store where everyone pours into.  We got out asap and headed to the next drawing class in the Animation Building.

The classes run every 30 mins on the hour and half hour, and you have to be in line at least 15 mins early or you won’t get in.  Yes, they are WORTH it, and they make a great souvenir.  If you ask in the Art Store, they will give you bag and rubber band, or someone told us they bring in Pringles cans to house their drawings. We did Piglet, which mine turned out horrible, and we learned they WILL do Tangled Characters, so make sure to ASK when you walk in right away. Some will do what you ask, some have their mind made up, so it doesn’t hurt to try.

Lunch would be at Pizza Planet, and we found our table first before we ordered.  Yes, there is a lot of seating inside, and a fair amount outside- but don’t ever assume you will get one because of the amount.  Have an adult and child sit, and another adult order with someone else to help carry the tray. We did see Cast Members help someone carry their many trays, so do make sure to ask if you need help. We like the little pizzas here, and they now offer ceaser salads with them- I’m pretty sure the last time I had them was with garden salad.   They also offered Darth Vader cupcakes here for about $3 each.

After a wonderful lunch and some down time to reboot, we looked to offer our table to someone who was looking for one.  I love to spread the magic to someone who just needs it at that very moment, and bam, we found a great family who were more than thankful to have ours.  It’s ok to eat and relax, but when it’s so busy, make sure to offer your table to someone who really needs it.  Spread the kindness and WATCH what it can do in your life!

So I headed to meet Luke and Leah in Jabba’s Hut (the SWW Merchandise Area) while Craig took the kids on the “Great Movie Ride.”  As I walk behind “American Idol” I find myself literally walking behind an Ewok. As I’m taking pictures, and giggling at the luck of it all, I look up to hear “AMY FALK PETERMANN??!?!?!?” and it is Mr. Lou Mongello himself with his AWESOME wife, Deanna, and his cute kids!!  I hugged them both like crazy and it was so kind to hear them say “We were just talking about you.. welcome home to FL.”  I love that family, and I am so excited to get closer to all of them- it helped to see a familiar face today, after the home sickness yesterday.

After more hugs, I took off for the tent to find Luke or any other SW Character. I loved the alone time, walking around the park, darting in and around crowds and having a bit of freedom for awhile.  I was shocked to find that the line for the SW Characters had been closed, so I just hung out and talked to “Jerry” a kind Cast Member in that area.  I hung out around enough to shop with the family, then get in line for Luke while they went to walk the Park.  Let me tell you, Luke was HILARIOUS!!  He looked at my pins and said “I see you have a lot of medals from all of your battles won” and I said “Well it’s nothing like nuking the Death Star” and he started laughing.  Then I told him that I thought his “feathered hair” looked quite real, and he again started laughing.  He asked where I was from, and I had that moment of “Well, I’m from WI, but now live in Kissimmee” and he said “WI is probably cold like Hoth” and of course I busted laughing and said “WI is colder.” LOL  He spent 10 mins talking to me, and he was my favorite Character of the day.  He actually asked me if I work at WDW, I said “No, not yet.”

I met Emily for a meet with Woody and Buzz, while Craig and Kyra visited “One Man’s Dream.”  Toy Story Characters don’t come out until  after 3 in the Pixar area, so keep that in mind when you visit. Always check Guest Relations when looking though for your specific one!  We were maybe 10th in line to see them and it still took 30 minutes to get through the line, so be prepared, they are a wait!

My friends, Dawn and Wayne, met up with us with their friend to FINALLY say hi in person. I met Dawn on and became very close to her- we have a day planned next week for just us girls which I am SUPER excited about!  We took pics, then I heard again “IS THAT AMY FALK PETERMANN?” which was Deanna Mongello, with the family, going into “One Mans Dream.” The kids and Craig got to say hello to them, and they were pretty shy with Lou.  He is such a force in our lives, so to see him today was just an awesome treat- dinner soon Deanna!!!

We ate at the “Backlot Express” and split the Turkey sandwich and fries, Kyra had the chicken sandwish, and Em the chicken nuggets.  I wanted to let you know these sandwiches are HUGE- split them if you are watching your bottom or waist line.  We also asked for cups of water and got large ones with ice water, for free, which was really nice. (I thought they didn’t hand them out)  This area is another one that has a lot of seating, and is nice for the large fans they have running.

We ended up drawing again, Donald as the Sith Lord or normal, and then used our FP’s for “Toy Story Mania.”  A stop at the Narnia exhibit, which was actually very cool- the table that Aslan dies on is in there and it was like a spiritual experience for us.  We were pretty tired after, so we headed out of the park to make it an early night.  I hope to see the Hoopla some day, maybe next year- my feet just weren’t having it this time around.

A week ago we left WI to follow our dreams, and we were in Indianapolis right now getting ready for bed. So much has happened since then, that it’s really hard to take in.  Once Craig starts work again next week, it will start to settle down.  We have Premium passes, so we will take advantage of the Water Parks soon and also more times to come with FL friends here in the area.  I do miss my family and friends in WI, but I know that they will come to see me eventually.  Tomorrow is Epcot for Lou’s Meet in Japan and then our Welcome Party at Sunshine Seasons at 6:00 p.m. with a ride on “Soarin’” after.  If you are in the area, come say hello to us!!


  1. Loved reading this… and have loved seeing all your photos from your journey on FB. You ARE the Relocated Tourist. The “WDWorld” is your oyster…. so happy for you. Loving the story and the pictures. God is good!



  2. I’ve only just found your blog a couple of days ago and love it! I decided about a month ago to move to Orlando the first of the year by myself, no friends or family in the area, to have an adventure! I’m sure I’ll pick up great tips from reading here, and its great that y’all are having a fabulous time so far!


  3. Another great blog and what fun pictures! Your sofa and love seat look oh-so-comfy. Just a little suggestion about groceries: Do you belong to Sam’s Club? We never did up in PA but joined here after lots of people told us about it. It does save $$$ especially on paper products (TP, paper towels, paper plates, etc.). We love it.


  4. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months & I love living vicariously through your words and photos! Please keep up the good work as it is just as important for us to understand the realities of a relocation as it is the realization of a dream! Wishing you & your family the best.


  5. Hi, I just started reading your blog. My family and I are such a huge WDW fan. It is my dream to one day move from NC to Orlando or an area close to WDW. Love your blog. Have fun at your new home.


  6. I love reading your blog! We (me, my daughter and my mom) are moving to the Orlando area early next year. We’ve been thinking about it for a few years, and have just decided it’s time to get on with it. Your blog is SO inspiring!

    We do plan to rent for the first year or so to make sure about which area to settle in. Do you have a recommendation for a real-estate agent or rental company to deal with?

    How cute that you had an ewok in front of you!


  7. Hi, I posted earlier (I thought!) and must have done something wrong with it. Anyway, I love love love your blog, it’s so very inspiring! I had tears in my eyes when I read about your first day there. My family (myself, my daughter and my mother) are planning a move to the Orlando area early next year. We do plan to rent at first, until we are certain of the area we want permanently. Would you be able to suggest a realtor/property company for rentals? (if not, I understand!) I especially love that you were following an ewok, how cute!
    Best wishes to you and your family!


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