Thursday, September 12, 2013

Unschooling Disney World Day #1-- Downtown Disney & A Mini Tour of Saratoga Springs

We woke at the crack of dawn to start our vacation yesterday.  I have to say it was pretty much the best first day of a vacation we've ever had!

We got dressed and headed to the airport for our trip to DISNEY!  We are a huge Disney family and this was not the boys' first trip.

This is our first trip to Disney since we started homeschooling though and I found myself looking for all the little ways that we were learning as we were having the best family vacation ever.



Here are just a few of the ways my boys taught themselves today while travelling:

  • Along the way the boys started looking for the stars, talking about the constellations, the moon, the phases of the moon, shooting stars, meteors and all that "space" stuff.  It was great.   
  • My boys really enjoy the airport, in fact my oldest has been telling everyone for weeks that he thinks the airport is the best part of Disney.  Once inside the airport, they tried to determine which way was East so we could watch the sunrise.  
  • They played Scribblenaughts and Super Scribblenaughts on their DS's so they were working on spelling skills (or letter recognition in Evan's case as we spelled things out loud for him to type).   
  • They were all friendly and happy and we got settled onto the plane without any mishaps this time.  Alec has severe problems with his ears on take off and landing so we've bought him earplanes to help reduce the pressure.  We had a great discussion about what causes that pain and talked about sea level, above sea level and below sea level.  
  • We were talking about the different jobs at the airport and Evan remembered learning about the signs they use with the lighted cones to help back the planes up and move around on the ground.  
  • We looked out the window and discussed what we saw below as it got smaller and smaller.  The boys noticed all sorts of shapes in the clouds and we even had an opportunity to talk about turbulence (thankfully it was very mild) and what causes that.  
We arrived in Orlando a full 25 min. early!

We went right to the Disney Magical Express to get on our bus and found that there was no line!  We walked right into our bus line and were taken immediately to our bus.  The boys enjoyed watching the introductory video that reviews all the rides and attractions at Disney.

We've been many times, but there's always something new for us to do.

We arrived at our hotel and were shown right to our room; it's really a 2 bedroom condo/ timeshare at Saratoga Springs and it was amazing.

We try to stay a different resort each time to go so we can be exposed to all sorts of new decor and themed areas.

This trip we have two rooms, two bathrooms (complete with a whirl pool tub!), a full kitchen, living room and balcony.  Even better was the discovery that our room was a short 1- 2 minute walk to the pool, food, and buses.  While I love staying on sight at Disney (and checking out different hotels every time) we have found that some hotels are so large and so spread out that we have lots more walking to do after our long days in the park.  Sometimes this is a problem (like when one of them falls asleep!) but we were excited to find that this wouldn't be a problem this time. 
our little patio

The master bath and bedroom

the kitchen, dining and living room

the second bedroom

The only downside to our day was the discovery that I had forgotten to give my mother in law her luggage tags and I was dismayed to think her luggage might have been lost.  One of the perks of staying on Disney property is that they give you these special luggage tags with your name and your resort name on them and then once you check your bag at your departure airport they'll claim your baggage for you and deliver it right to your room.

 I called the front desk, who referred me to bell services and within 5 minutes they had the problem resolved.   Disney is just amazing that way!! 

They had already picked up all 6 bags at the airport regardless of the missing tags.  I was amazed.  I am always amazed by just how helpful and efficient workers are in "The World."  We once lost our son's camera while on vacation, filled out a lost and found form on one of our last days there (when we realized it was missing) and figured we had pretty much seen the last of our camera.  Imagine our surprise when the camera beat us home and was waiting on our doorstop with a note from the hotel staff.  They had taken his digital camera around and took a few photos of the staff and the hotel for him.  They handle everything so well and promptly and are so willing to help.

Travelling in the off season helps too since they're all eager to have something to do. 

We had lunch and checked out the pool, then we decided to head to downtown Disney.

  • We tried out a new (to us)  attraction called Disney Quest, a 5 floor indoor arcade.  All the boys (hubby included) were in heaven!  
  • We played so many new and different games as well as many favorites.  It was amazing and we had no problems with crowds at all.  
We were told by several workers that there was hardly anyone checking in or out and that we picked the perfect week to visit.

I have to say, by now, it sure was feeling that way to us too!


Practicing shooting hoops



Evan loved this game and played many times-- he even came in first once

Alec tries his hand at basketball too
We walked from one end of Downtown Disney to another and stopped to check out sights and stores along the way.

  • The boys all picked out some toys at the Lego store and spent quite a bit of time at the free building stations they have set up.  


  • They built cars and raced them against each other and a few of the other kids that were hanging around.  
Racing vehicles

We got sprayed by Stitch for some much needed cooling off.  We stopped to have dinner at the Rainforest Café.  We were at the restaurant a full 45 min. early for our reservation, but they seated us early anyway; the restaurant was 1/2 empty!

Getting cooled off by Stitch
We had so much fun looking around trying to spot all the different rainforest animals, watching the fish in the tanks, and especially hearing all the animals come to life.
  • They colored their menu's and played games like tic tac toe while waiting for their food.   
Everyone was starving and dug into their food when it arrived.  The  boys were jokingly covering their foods when the thunderstorm rumbled through and we talked about prior trips to Disney, to the Rainforest Café, and even to a similar restaurant called T- Rex (which our kids hated when they were younger!).
  • The bill came and we talked about prices, discussed tips, and were extra thankful for the free dining plan promotion. 




The boys couldn't wait for dinner to end so they could go swimming in the pool.

  •  On the way to our bus they stopped and played in the sprinklers a bit and Evan pointed out that it was a compass with N, S, E and West labeled.  
  • Alec informed me that north on the compass really points to the magnetic South Pole and vice versa.  We learned that through the Disney Imagineering video called Magnetism.  I found that portion of the movie confusing but he definitely understood it as he recapped that whole portion of the movie for me on the way to the bus.  

We were amazed to find our bus pulling up to the stop right as we walked up.

  • They eagerly read the signs on the bus, on the bus route and looked all around checking things out.  
Looking back through our day we talked about math, science, did plenty of reading and spelling, we're learning geography and life skills too.  We even learned a bit about history through the photos and pictures of the real Saratoga Springs in New York during it's heyday. 

But, best of all we're making priceless family memories.

We finished off our night in the pool.  It has a giant (and fast!) waterfall.

The boys had so much fun going down it over and over and turned it into a competition.  We (or they) would count how many seconds it took them to get from the top to the bottom.   They jumped, swam, splashed and cooled off.

The perfect end to a perfect day.

We saw tiny lizards, and many new insects around as well new and unusual plants.  The boys were eager to check them all out and extremely fascinated with the geckos.  We finally got the boys inside, changed into PJ's and settled down for bed.   It was the best first day of vacation we've ever had!



Unschooling Disney:

Day #1- Travelling, Saratoga Springs Room Tour and Downtown Disney
Day #2- Hollywood Studios and Jedi Training Academy

Linking Up With:



10 comments :

  1. It's always so fun reading about my hometown! Is this where you guys are heading for vacation now, too?

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    1. Nope, this year we're going to explore Tampa and the gulf coast!

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  2. I love this!! Totally agree with you on how wonderful the Disney Staff are! And I love all the learning aspects you've included! Hope you have the best holiday there, will look forward to reading more! #ExplorerKids

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  3. love Disney. We spent a lot of time Downtown on our last visit also. Very cool place. #happynow

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    1. It is really neat; I can't wait to see all the changes they've made.

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  4. Disney is high up on my kids wishlist - I would love to take them there some day but it may have to be Paris for us. Sarah #ExplorerKids

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    1. Yeah adding international airfare to Disney's high prices would certainly put me over the top!

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  5. OMG! Disney sound absolutely Amazing! How very helpful they were with the luggage. That's is what I call service there! We are going to Rome in October and we are so excited to by on the plane once again. I haven't been out of the country for almost one whole year! I will also take notes of what you have discussed with the boys at the airport and on the aeroplane with my kids too. I can't wait! :) x

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #ExplorerKids.

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    1. I have always wanted to see Rome! That sounds like fun.

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