Friday, February 17, 2012
A Very Merry Shrek-mas
Life has been so crazy the past month, I'm totally behind on blogging! Back to our post-Christmas trip to Dallas (which I started back in January and am only just now finishing *blushes*)...
We stayed at the Gaylord Texan hotel. We've never been there before, but it first caught my attention a few years back when they had a whole Alice in Wonderland themed summer experience, complete with Mad Hatter's Tea, a Queen of Hearts puppet and magic show, and some sort of 3-D trip down a rabbit hole. I really wanted to go back then, but every time I came ready to hit book on the website, I would remember I was the mom of two boys. Two boys who don't like anything to do with Alice in Wonderland. Even when it stars in a movie with Johnny Depp.
And then last December, mom went to visit a friend and they went and toured the Christmas lights and she just raved and raved about it. So I filed it away in my mind for things to do in the summer AND at Christmas time.
Originally, we were going to go to New Mexico for a week over the holidays to ski and play in the snow. But when Alex got sick, we decided to cancel that trip so we didn't lose too much money, not knowing where he would be HSP-wise during the winter break. Happily, he is doing better, so we went ahead and splurged on the Dreamworks Experience package for the Gaylord.
We had a fabulous time!
After our day at Legoland and dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, we headed to the Gaylord. The Gaylord is right across the road from the Great Wolf Lodge - another place on my radar for a future weekend trip. Fortunately, the kids don't really know what that is or we might have been in trouble we weren't also going to the water slide hotel.
Since we checked in late, we pretty much just spent the first night walking around and looking at all the beautiful lights and decorations inside the hotel.
In addition to the incredible sculptures - Dragon was my other favorite - the main attraction is the giant ice slide.
We had lots of fun just wandering around the hotel, and looking at the amazing holiday decorations.
The second win was that we got to meet three characters, Shrek, Princess Fiona and Puss.
Third, we got to drink Swamp Juice which Alex thought was the best thing EVER.
Fifth, there was a puzzle on our table and upon completion, we got Shrek Ears (which Ryan and I are modeling below. Alex wasn't having anything to do with wearing a "girl's headband.").
After lunch, it was time for Po's Snow Tubing... basically indoor snow tubing slides in a Kung Fu Panda theme, and Po would come out and dance to "Kung Fu Fighting" every 30 minutes.
The boys loved the snow tubing, and with our bands, we had unlimited runs and, most importantly, we got to go in the short line. Carl petered out first, and after about 10 runs, I took a break and just had fun watching the boys enjoy themselves.
Carl and I are big fans of the Madagascar penguins, so we opted for a full family picture for this one.
Our gingerbread house decorating went about as well as all my other previous attempts at gingerbread decorating. No one in our family has the patience for this. But we had fun, and the boys especially loved that we let them dismantle it and eat it right after building it. (No way was this sucker coming home to Austin with us!)
We were all pretty exhausted at this point, so we decided it was time to take a break from the Gaylord, and headed back to the Grapevine Mills to try out the big AMC 24 theater we had spotted next to LEGOLAND. Its like the Drafthouse, in that they serve you food inside the theater, except that kids are welcomed. We watched The Adventures of Tintin, and ate our dinner. Team Danger was fascinated by the concept of waiters inside the movie theater.
The next day, Carl slept in while the boys and I went in search of breakfast. We (read: Alex) was thrilled to find a buffet awaited us at the Riverwalk restaurant. The inside of the Gaylord is made to look like a mini-Texas... there's a Riverwalk section, one for Big Bend, the Hill Country ...even a Treaty Oak. Which would be kind of fun in its own right, even without all the Dreamworks activities.
This buffet also included Shrek waffles, which would have made Donkey very happy. "In the morning, I'm having waffles!"
And at the end, the boys were given a few souvenir prizes. They were thrilled to be given their very own magic bean, that we would plant at home and then it would grow and give us a code to enter online for a chance to come back. Thanks, Gaylord.
It was then time to say goodbye to the Gaylord, and we headed home to Austin via Dinosaur Valley State Park. This was a lovely little bit of Texas I had never been to before, and it was fun hiking and climbing down fairly steep cliffs (that's Safety Mommy talking) to find dinosaur prints from long ago.
Suffice it to say, Team Danger was in their element here.