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joshua4
02-02-2001, 06:11 AM
Well, here it is. My first trip report. Try not to be too critical because I am new at this:

Cast: Me (crazy planning mom)
My mom (crazy planning Grandma)
My sister (hip graphic artist just along for the ride)
Joshua (my 4 year old son)

January 18, 2001 -- Thursday

Well, we actually got of the house on time and got to the airport for an 8 am flight. We were originally scheduled to be on a 1 pm flight, but thanks to the advice of Beverly on these boards, we went early and successfully got on United’s earlier flight without paying any additional fees or flying standby. At the airport, I give Josh a gift from Mickey Mouse with a note from Mickey telling him that he was so excited that Josh would be in Florida soon. Mickey sent some plane activity stuff – stickers, a travel magnadoodle, crayons. Mickey is such a considerate mouse and the gifts made the time just fly by on the plane. Mickey also gave Josh a disposable camera – which we later began to refer to as the “JOSHCAM” so that we could see what DW looked like from the vantage point of a four year old.

We arrive at Orlando and proceed down the escalator to baggage and were immediately greeted by Darcy from TTC with a sign that said “JOSHUA” instead of our last name. (This had been a request I made when I booked the car over a month ago). I can’t tell you how excited he was to see that sign. Darcy was really helpful hauling our bags to the car (even though we were only going for 4 days, the bags were pretty heavy since we had packed for every conceivable kind of weather). Before we knew it we were at the All Star Sports. Even though it was only 1 when we got to the hotel, they got us into a room right away. We were in building 7 in Touchdown. This was a great spot for us because it was between the big pool and the small pool and really close to the food court and bus stop. Besides, having that room meant that my son could run through the x’s and o’s every time we went anywhere, which he really loved. Anyway, we put our bags down in the room and my son announces that he wants to go swimming “right now”. It was 82 degrees and sunny so I figured we should take advantage of the weather. We immediately got changed and, on my son’s request, went to the smaller pool. What a nice way to start a vacation – we were the only ones at the pool for a long time and the sun was just beaming down. Little did we know that this gorgeous weather was not going to last long. After a couple of hours of pool time, we went back to the room, cleaned up and got on a bus for DD.


I knew it would happen, but as soon as we got to DD, we got sucked in to that kid magnet otherwise known as the Lego Store. My mom and sister quickly abandoned us to go shop and I plopped down on a lego bench. An hour later I had had enough. We persuaded Josh to leave (although not willingly) and proceeded to go find dinner. Along the way, we did our first “ride” of the trip, namely that silly little train they have at DD. That’s right, for a dollar you can ride the train around and around in circles. Even though Josh is four and a half, he still likes doing this. After that detour, we went to Rain Forest Café. Even though it was 5:30, we got right in and made our way through the “jungle” to our table. The food was ok (we mostly ordered appetizers), the service was average, but at least they let me use my Disney Club card to get 10% off the bill.

We went back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep before we would hit the parks the next day.

January 19, 2001 (Friday)

We woke up and were greeted by more wonderful warm and sunny weather and a call from Mickey – which Josh loved. Josh picked two snacks out of the “snack bag” I had brought along and put them in his fanny pack along with his camera. (Got this idea from someone on these boards as well!) We made it to the MK in time for the Adventure Land rope drop. Off we went to BTMR. We were the first ones on the ride and since there was no line when we got off, we ran around and got back on to ride again. Despite my concerns that this ride would be too much for him, Josh just loved this ride. The park was pretty empty, so we meandered around and went on POC. Of all the rides at all the parks, surprisingly, this was the one that scared Josh a bit. It was dark and I think the pirates frightened him. Luckily, based on a tip I got on these boards, I whipped out my handy dandy mini flashlight. Josh seemed much more at ease once he had that in his hand. After we left Pirates we ran into Captain Hook and Smee, our first character encounter. Before the trip I had made Josh an autograph book with clip art of all the characters (I used a spiral bound 5 x 8 index card book). Captain Hook and Smee were very excited to see themselves in the book and made a big deal of the book and Josh. The CM with them had to tell Mr. Smee that it was time to stop looking at the book because other kids were waiting.

After that we went on JC, Josh was not too impressed, but then again, the ride does seem to be getting a bit run down. Then it was off to Mickey’s Toon Town. On the way, we stopped at the Fantasy Land character area and got some more autographs – and again the characters made a big fuss over the book – especially Rafiki. We did all of the attactions in Toon Town, including spending a long time in the Hall of Fame. There were no lines and the CMS were letting the kids spend lots of time playing with the characters. I really treasure the video tape of Josh getting a “bouncing lesson” from Tigger and playing with Pluto who was running around on all fours. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and one of the high points of the day. I can’t remember our exact order of attractions for the rest of the day, but I do remember some of Josh’s favorites: taking the train around the park, having icecream for lunch (what the heck! It is DisneyWorld after all) and taking the people mover around Tomorrowland (who would have thought he would love that so much?). Of course Buzz Lightyear was also a big hit. The HM was not a big hit with Josh at the time, but later he talked a bunch about the ghost that was in our car with us. We put off most of the Fantasy Land rides because at some point the lines were picking up and we knew we would be back on Saturday for EE.

Anyway, at 2:45 we had a great spot at the curb in Frontier Land for the parade. Josh got picked to bang the drum on the Lion King float during one of the parade “stops” -- boy was he excited and it made for great video. Speaking of the video camera, I thought it would be a big pain to bring along, but really was no problem to carry in my backpack. Anyway, I had to bring the camera with us to capture all of the moments that my husband was missing because he couldn’t get away from the office to join us.

After the parade, we scurried off to Ariel’s grotto – a helpful CM had told us to show up right after the parade for no wait. He was right and we got right in for a picture and an autograph. Then we did something really smart – we went off to Tom Sawyer’s Island. Josh was starting to wear down and running around the island, exploring the cave and the mines really rejuvenated him. Of course, the cave was yet another opportunity to whip out our trusty flash light as Josh led the way like the great explorer. After doing a few more rides we were off to ride the monorail, which leads me to:

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT HOW TO GET TO RIDE WITH THE PILOT:

At the MK station, we asked to ride in the front car and was told that it was already filled. The CM told me that my chances would be greater if we got off at a resort and then reboarded into the first car. We had 5:30 reservations at Chef Mickeys and still had time to kill so we headed off for the Polynesian. At the Polynesian, the monorail operator explained how the “system” worked. Each resort has its own color monorail -- Yellow = Contemporary, Orange = GF, Black = Polynesian. When the Black Monorail comes to the Polynesian, the operator there has the “right” to the first car – sort of bumping privileges. So, we waited for the next black monorail to circle around and boom, he put us in with the pilot. Josh was thrilled and we got to the Contemporary just in time for our PS. So, if you are willing to wait a bit, there never should be a problem riding in the first car.

I had never been to Chef Mickey’s before and was really pleased with this experience. We got in right away, the characters were all over the place, the food was good and the napkin dance was a big hit. Each character came by our table at least twice. Since we had had only icecream for lunch, we were all pretty hungry – so the buffet was perfect. Josh also loved the dessert buffet (what kid wouldn’t?). At 6:45 we left the restaurant to go upstairs to the observation deck to watch the fireworks (yet another tip I got from these boards!). It was still balmy outside and the fireworks started promptly at 7. Heeding the advise of another DIS tipper, we left the deck as soon as the fireworks were over and got an elevator down. Remember, don’t dawdle after the fireworks or you will need to wait forever for an elevator or be forced to take the stairs.

At this point, we should have gone home. But no, we still had some momentum left so we hopped on the monorail and went to Epcot. The ride into Epcot at night really is neat as you ride right through the park. Josh, who had made it all day without a stroller (in hindsight, a big mistake) hit the wall as soon as we arrived there. We made it through Spaceship Earth (big disappointment to Josh who thought there would be somewhere "to play in the big ball.” And through Body Wars – both of which had no lines. I then paid the price for not having a stroller and had to carry Josh from Body Wars to the bus. Oh well, live and learn.

January 20, 2001 (Saturday)

Well, again I paid the price for not having the stroller with us the previous day. The plan was to get to MK by 730 for EE. Josh woke up with the Mickey call, but was far less enthusiastic about getting up. “My legs hurt” he announced. I told him I would rent him a stroller at the park and somehow we made it to the MK by 815. Mind you, I had my umbrella stroller with us at the hotel – but it doesn’t have a “roof” so I opted for the rental because it looked like rain. The weather was much cooler, in the 50’s and cloudy. Thanks to these boards, we had come prepared, Josh was in two fleece sweatshirts and had fleece gloves to wear as well. We went directly to Fantasy Land and did all of the rides there as well as the attractions in Tomorrow land. No lines because it was pretty cold and cloudy out. Josh pronounced Peter Pan to be his favorite, followed by the Tomorrow Land Speedway as a close second. We also collected a bunch more autographs. I was feeling pretty good about all of the time it took to make that autograph book after getting praise from both the characters as well as onlooking parents. I did feel a little badly for the parent who had to deal with the child screaming “BUT I WANT A BOOK WITH THEIR PICTURES IN IT”. The exasperated parent actually asked if he could buy the book from me. I think not.

At some point late morning, I noticed it getting more crowded and we stuck with our plan to evacuate immediately once it started getting crowded. We returned the stroller (being careful to save our receipt so that we could get another stroller at MGM) and hopped on the monorail to the TTC and then a bus to MGM. Given the weather, it was a perfect day for MGM. We ate lunch at Pizxa Planet (again, no lines) and went to the Doug show. Josh really liked the show and it was good to get out of the cold. We made our way around the park and saw Bear (great little show, but we got stuck off to the side which was a bad viewing spot), the Muppet Movie, the Movie Ride (I had warned Josh in advance about the scary Alien part and he was prepared with his trusty flash light). A highlight of the day was meeting Buzz and Woody. They were excited to see their pictures in our book. Woody made a big production out of pretending that he had hurt his arm and ran after me making kissing noises to get me to kiss it and make it better. Did I stoop so low as to kiss a large cowboy doll’s arm? To the delight of my son, yes, I did., and he is still talking about how “mommy made Woody’s arm better.”

We saw the parade, during which Josh fell asleep. After his little nap, we went to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. Like Tom Sawyer’s Island, this was a great place for Josh to run around and relax. I think I lost him there at least 5 times, which was a little unnerving to me – but Josh later explained that he was never lost, it was just me that was lost. Go figure. After an hour (yes a full hour!) at the playground it was time to go to our 430 PS at Mama Melrose’s (Fantasmic package). The information I had received on these boards made me paranoid about getting closed out of Fantasmic, so I insisted on getting the package. The pizzas were good and then we trekked off to see the show which was to start at 630. We got to the gate by 6 and when we got into the theater we were told that we could sit in the middle section instead of the reserved section because there was no crowd. Two sections remained entirely empty during the show because it must have been in the 40’s by then. We had our jackets and gloves though so we were fine. The show was fun and afterwards we got out of the park quickly and headed back to the hotel.


January 21, 2001, Sunday

The plan for the day was to spend the morning at AK and the afternoon and evening at Epcot with a break mid-day at the hotel if necessary. Josh was less than enthusiastic, but I got him out of bed, got a Mickey waffle in his stomach and off we went. The weather was cold, but sunny. This time I came armed with my umbrella stroller because I didn’t think Josh would even want to do the walk from the bus to the park gate. We got to the AK 8-ish and were greeted at the door by a bunch of characters. Josh was delighted to see Mickey again and loved seeing Turk (because he was one of our missing autographs). After revelling in the characters for a while, we wandered off to do the safari. All of the animals were out, although Josh was not that impressed with it. We did the walk through the gorillas and such, again Josh not that impressed. I think he was still tired from all the activity the day before. I tried to adjust our pace to make the morning relaxed. We stopped and got Josh his first pin – a monorail of course. Josh wore it proudly on his jacket. Josh perked up more at Camp Minnie and Mickey where he collected more autographs and visited with Mickey and Minnie once more (again, no lines). He also snagged a hot chocolate chip cookie from the cookie station there. Amazing what a cookie can do for a kid’s mood.

It was so cold out, however, that the morning shows had been cancelled. Apparently, the performers thought it was too cold to go on. This played a bit of havoc with my well laid plans. We went up to Rafiki’s planet and played with the animals. Josh really liked this and we had some great talks with the CMs who work there. Did you know that each goat and sheep has a name? There is a “face book” in the back and each keeper works to learn all of the names. The CM we spoke with confessed that after a few months she still could only identify three of the sheep – but she was learning more each day. I have to confess that all of the sheep looked the same to me. At Rafiki’s planet, Josh discovered his first pressed penny machine -–he loved it and I knew that this was going to be trouble when he discovered that there were machines everywhere (those pennies start to add up after a while)

Anyway, after that, the Lion King show finally reopened. The video of that is a bit amusing because the performers are all wearing turtle necks under their costumes.

We then went and played at the park in dinosaur land – Josh loved the slides and ended up in the Bone Yard where Josh happily digged away. Then disaster happened. Josh lost his pin in the sand. The CM brought out sifters – but we could not find it anywhere. The CM saw how upset Josh was and brought us a coupon for a free replacement pin. I just love DisneyWorld because it seems like things like that happen all of the time. That gesture saved our morning. We headed off to Restrauntasaurus for lunch. The added bonus was that the happy meal toy was a squirting dinosaur with the Animal Kingdom logo. Perfect and cheap souveneir.

Then it was off to do the Dinosaur ride – we used Fastpass and passed the time before hand on the big plastic dinosaur nearby. Josh joined a bunch of other kids climbing all over it and running around. During the ride itself I though Josh looked pretty terrified and began to regret bringing him on. He surprised me when it was over by asking “Can we go on again?” – which we did.

By this time, it was getting pretty late, almost 4. We decided to go back to the hotel room and rest a while. On the way out, I stopped at guest services to see if we could get a last minute PS at the Garden Grill. No problem, we got a 630 PS.

After a good rest, we went to Epcot. Dinner was good – but did not measure up to the fun we had at Chef Mickey’s. There was not as much character interaction. Josh did, however, love that butterfly cookie that they give the kids to decorate for dessert.

After dinner we did Imagination and Honey I shrunk the audience. Josh was tired so we opted to skip TON and Illuminations (next trip I guess) and go back to the hotel. We stopped along the way so that Josh could play with the light up sidewalk.

We went home and packed most of our things.

January 22, 2001 – Monday

Josh and I got up and ran off to MK – we got there by 8 during an EE day and did all of our favorites (like Buzz) at least twice. My mom and sister quickly grew tired of MK and left for Epcot. We met more characters and did a few attractions we had missed before, like the Tiki Room. (I really like the overhaul of that attraction). Josh went on a quest for more pennies so I bought him one of those pressed penny books to display his new collection. He just loved that book!

We wandered around just enjoying the last bit of our vacation and happened to get to Belle’s story hour just as it was about to start. Do you have small kids? Well, I would highly recommend doing this. There is a little stone theater in between fantasy land and tomorrow land. Belle comes out to tell the story of Beauty and the Beast at the times posted. There were only 20 or so kids there (that is about all it seats). Belle picks kids from the audience to play the parts in her story – with a little encouragement, Josh got picked to be Gaston. Talk about great video! He looked so cute in this padded shirt that was meant to give him fake muscles. After the story, the kids get to spend some time with Belle and get her autograph.

We had a late lunch at Pecos Bills which was good, did the Big Thunder Railroad once more, got Josh a badge that said “SHERIFF JOSHUA” in Frontierland, picked up a few gifts for the folks back home and then it was almost 3, time to go back to the hotel to meet the TTC at 4. I admit, I was a bit sad as I walked down main street back towards the entrance. Josh consoled me by saying we would come back when he was 6. Such a sweet kid.

We took our final pictures with a few characters that were hanging out in the front of the park and then headed back to the hotel.

The TTC arrived promptly at 4. At the airport, Mickey had sent another small gift –some more stickers and a new coloring book. Josh colored happily and before we knew it we were home.

Some Final Thoughts and Tips

I have been to WDW at least 6 times before, but never with a child. We probably saw a lot less on this trip, but I think it was worth going at a fairly sane pace through the parks. It really doesn’t bother me that we missed certain things (like most of Epcot) because Josh and I have already decided we are going back when he is 6.

Some random tips:

1. When you run into a character and there is a picture taking CM, don’t be shy about asking the CM to also take a picture with your camera – they were always happy to do so and that way we got a lot of pictures with all of us and the character.

2. I know it was easier to do with just one kid, but I think that a lot of the success of our trip came from paying attention to Josh and being sensitive to his needs. When he wanted to just sit on a bench, that is what we did. When he felt like going back to the room, that’s what we did. We saw a lot of kids melting down along the way – and I think that happens a lot when the kid just gets overstimulated by WDW.

3. With an older child, I think that the umbrella stroller is the way to go. Josh like the MK strollers (which are easier to push than an umbrella stroller) but the park strollers really don’t have anyplace to store all of your stuff anyway, so why not save money and go for the umbrella stroller. Besides, the time that Josh really needed the stroller was walking out of the park to the buses. Another option (say if you have one small kid and one older one) is to bring one umbrella stroller and use it to get one kid from the bus in to the park, then give the stroller rental place your umbrella stroller to store (apparently they do this all the time) and rent a double stroller for the kids. This is the plan we will likely do when we return in a year an a half with Josh and his little sister.

4. Dried fruit snacks were a big hit because they fit easily into his fanny pack and did not mush or melt during the day.

5. Don’t forget that little flashlight! Also, we brought a night light for the room which eased Josh’s mind about staying in a strange place.

So, that’s it. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks again for all of the tips I got from these boards in planning this last minute trip. I am already getting excited about planning our next trip in 2002 or 2003. Next time we plan on staying at either WL or one of the Epcot resorts and I know that once again I will be lurking around the boards trying to figure out how to get the best room at the best price.

Joshua’s Mom

snuggles
02-02-2001, 07:57 AM
I think having Josh's name on the TTC sign was just the cutest idea! He will probably tell everyone about that for years LOL. I'm glad that the boards helped so much with your trip. Thanks for posting all of your great hints and remember to write another report when you go next time :)

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Mimi70
02-02-2001, 08:30 PM
Your trip report is quite enlightening! I love the idea of creating your own autograph book with clip art - did you paste the pictures in, or did you find a way to print them in? You know, if enough parents have a go for it, you could <u>patent</u> that idea, create more (or have someone create them), and allow it to pay off for you! ;) No more scrimping to save! :D

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Winston112
02-03-2001, 02:23 PM
Did you find that 5 days was enough time at WDW or do you regret not having more time? With a younger child (my son will be 6 when we go in November)do you think that a week is too long to stay? Your opinion on this matter would be appreciated.

sherrie
02-03-2001, 05:13 PM
Thank you so much for taking the time to post your wonderful report. I would like info on your book also. My kids are 16, but I plan to collect autographs for myself this trip. I think if you would post instructions on how you made this on the theme parks strategies board it would be be a big hit. TIA for any tips. Sounds great. Best regards, Sherrie

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joshua4
02-05-2001, 06:19 AM
Let's see. Was 5 days enough? No, probably not. But this was not really our big Disney trip -- just a long weekend getaway. (see my pre-trip report) My husband couldn't get away from work to join us and I wasn't going to take a week's vacation without him. Ideally, I think I would do 8 days or so which would allow for some off days in between park days. This would be a better pace. Also, if I was doing a big Disney trip, I would have pushed the trip back to the end of Feb or so to get better weather (so that we could use the pool during our non-park time).

The autograph book? I got this idea from someone on these boards. She did hers on blank index cards that she slipped into a mickey mouse photoalbum (you know, the kind with the sleeves for pictures). I forget whose post it was, but she even scanned in pages from the signed book. She got all of her clip art from disneyclipart.com -- which by the way -- is very simple to use. Someone else on these boards said that he always used a spiral bound book of index cards for his kids instead of disney autograph book because it opened all of the way (easier to sign) and besides they cut out the autographs for the scrap book anyway, so who needs the pretty cover. I mushed these two ideas together to make my book. (I didn't want to always be pulling those loose cards out of the photo album) All you need to do is pull off the master list of characters (I think this is at rustyscupper.com) which tells you where all of the characters can be found. Then go to disneyclipart.com and copy your favorite image of each character. Print it in color and cut it out. Each of my pictures filled about 1/3 or so of a 5 X 8 card. In some cases, I put multiple characters on the same card -- like Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore were a group picture and all three signed the same page. (Jasmine and Alladin were together, chip and dale, donald and daisy, Smee and Hook, you get the pattern) Anyway, the character spread sheet was in alphabetical order so that was the order I did my book in -- which made it easy to flip to the right page quickly. For the cover, I used some more clip art with big blue letters "Joshua's Autograph Book". Leave time for this project as you will have a lot of copying, clipping and glueing to do. Use a glue stick because it is easier to work with and works really well.

So there you have it -- I had a lot of fun doing it and Josh loved to look at it before our trip and talk about the characters.

Have fun!

Marla Hellwig
02-18-2001, 07:38 PM
You all had a great Disney get a away. Thanks for posting!