View Full Version : All I Want for Christmas...is Another Disney Trip!

12-29-2012, 11:47 PM

Max and Santa!

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12-29-2012, 11:50 PM
Before I get into introductions, details about this trip, or any real trip reporting...let me just say hello!

Max and I posing right before Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Max parading as a Jedi knight in his kindergarten Halloween parade.

I have missed you all and I hope that there are still folks on the Dis willing to read my report. I have been pretty much MIA since returning from Disney in July. I have missed out on numerous trip reports and for that, I am truly sorry. We got home in July, I was a litte Disney-ed out (shh...don’t tell), and next thing I knew I was right back into the thick of things at work and there seemed to be little to no time for the Dis. In addition, I didn’t think there was a Disney trip in my future and I was a little bummed out about that.

While photographic evidence on the Dis would indicate otherwise, 2012 has been the year of Disney for the Caplan family. The Caplan family would be include me...


I’m about to be thirty-seven. I’m a teacher and department chair at a charter school, as well as being a mom to my adorable son, Max, who is five and in kindergarten. Since 2010, I have been to Disney an astounding seven times. More on that statistic later. I just love being at Disney and I love Florida’s weather and the palm trees. “Lady and the Tramp” is probably my favorite Disney movie ever and Big Thunder is my favorite ride, although EPCOT, hands down, is my favorite park.

My husband, Mark, who has grudgingly supported my burgeoning Disney addiction. Mostly because he loves it, too. Not quite in the same way that I do, but he really does enjoy our trips. He’s a huge movie buff and way into Star Wars, so sharing all of that with our son has been very special for him.

And, of course, my superstar, super adorable son Max.
This was taken mere moments after his first ride on Splash Mountain, which he loved!

He’s five and started kindergarten in the fall, which I still don’t quite believe. Just before we left for our July trip, his obsession with Cars was replaced with a serious Star Wars fixation and, as luck would have it, he finally made 40” in time for the July trip and was able to ride Star Tours for the first time. He loves pretty much everything Disney, although his favorite remains “Cars.”

12-30-2012, 04:48 AM
Welcome Back! School can be exhausting! Glad you found time to make your TR over the holidays. (Not that that's much better!;)) Anyhow, maybe you'll squeeze out some time over the next couple of days to get this baby published! Prying eyes want to know. Looking forward to your next installment.

Oops! I just noticed your countdown. So maybe you won't have time in the next few days. ;)

12-30-2012, 08:34 AM
Let’s re-cap...shall we?

To be the most precise, the year of Disney began about a year ago when I convinced myself and my unsuspecting husband that it would be a really great idea for me to purchase an annual pass. I rationalized it saying that I’d be getting an amazing deal at the Poly (which I did) and then if we were to return again for a July trip, I’d at least have my park tickets paid for. And chatter about a Food and Wine trip had already begun and I was sort of thinking about how I could get in on that, too. Thus, purchasing an annual pass seemed to make perfect sense. To me, at least.

We went in February, stayed at the Poly, realized that we’d made a terrible mistake and wished we stayed at the Beach Club again. Oops. But, all in all, it was a pretty great trip, even if Max still wasn’t quite making 40” yet. By the end of the trip, however, I had convinced Mark that we should all get APs because, heck, of course we’d come back in July and that would only make sense. So, we did. It really impresses me that Disney allows you to upgrade tickets after the fact the way that they do, because, really they don’t have to. And at a time when it seems they’re all too happy to nickle and dime us, I appreciate these little things even more.

In the meantime, a friend at school had announced that her aunt was giving (as in FREE) her a week long stay in a one bedroom villa at SSR. I immediately found about plane fare, got a cheap flight on Southwest, and before I knew it, I was off on my first girls’ trip. This was also the first time I’ve done any major travelling solo since I met my husband ten years ago, so it was exciting and fun for a lot of reasons. We had a magical, relaxing trip during which my friend was incredibly impressed by all of my Disney know-how. We had a lot of great meals, great drinks, got not-so-great sun burns, and rested, which we were in desperate need of.

This picture of my friend Lauren and her very first Lapu Lapu experience pretty much sum up the whole vibe of the trip, in picture form.

It was a wonderful, special trip and I only wish I could take a trip like that at least once a year. I can dream, right?

12-30-2012, 11:25 AM
What a wonderful cure for the Disney blues!!! Enjoy your mother/son trip at such a great time of the year! :) Yeah, I'd say your APs were a pretty good investment.

12-30-2012, 12:52 PM
Yay! Can't wait to read all about it!:goodvibes

12-30-2012, 12:54 PM
I'm here!!! Can't wait to hear all about your adventures! :goodvibes

12-30-2012, 01:16 PM
I'm here!!!!!!!

12-30-2012, 06:19 PM
Before I knew it, it was time for our family trip in July.

Did I mention that Max got sit in the cockpit?
Well, he did. Our trip got off to a great start, I musy say.

Overall, AofA was really cool and seemed to have that “new resort” smell. If large, brightly colored plastic icons are your thing, you’ll love AofA. And I have to admit that walking through the Cars section, you do feel like you’re in the movie, so they did do an excellent job there. But I fail to understand why the values can’t have basic things like pool slides and hot tubs. The linens were scratchy, although the Cars-themed suite was cool and Max did love it.

The table that turns into a bed! How cool is that? Max thought it was pretty cool, actually.

Tires, anyone?





Again...Disney does all this work “theming” these resorts, but it would be too much to put in waterslides and a hot tub? What do I not understand?


Oh, how I love Doc! OK, so I really love Paul Newman, but still... Fun fact: both his wife, Joanne Woodward, and his daughter graduated from my alma mater and they were big benefactors. I had a friend who waited on Mr. Newman at some college fundraising event or another and while eveyrone else was enjoying elegant little glasses of wine, Mr. Newman wanted a beer!

Mark tried very hard to get Max to make the peace sign!


During the Muppets something else amazing happened besides Max magically getting to 40 inches. He was able to see 3-D for the very first time! He got new glasses after his last eye surgery and one of them is a prismatic lense that really helps with depth perception, thus allowing him to see 3-D. It was a moving, magical moment in the Muppet Theater, for sure, when Max started reaching for things for the first time.

Right before we left on this trip, Max discovered that he loved Star Wars. My husband is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so the new Star Tours was at the top of our list. As some of you may recall, while Max is adorable, he is also a tad vertically challenged, and had yet to hit that 40” mark that’s necessarry for almost of the coolest Disney rides, including Star Tours. So, we bought Max a brand new pair of sneakers right before the trip that we hoped would help, and when we got in line at Star Tours, our first heigh-restricted ride of the trip, we were holding our breath. When he made it (with space to spare!) we let out a whoop of whole-hearted joy! Max loved Star Tours and over the course of the next week, we rode it many times.

AofA was nice and the food court was great . I really appreciated the food court after staying at deluxes that lack this level of food service. It was nice to know that even later in the said, we were thrilled when we drove through the gate and the lovely CMs at my beloved Beach Club welcomed us home.


Some our trip highlights included Max’s participating in the Jedi Training Academy. This has to have been one of the coolest experiences ever at a Disney park! The kids really felt special and were part of the show, getting signed up was pretty simple, and when Darth Vader and then Darth Maul came out...well, it was Disney magic at its absolute best. I wish there were more experiences like this, especially for boys.


We had a lot of great meals and it has become quite clear to me that one of the things we love most about Disney trips is the signature dining. We finally took Max to his first signature; an early-ish dinner at California Grill. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Max so well behaved in a restaurant, before or since!

After our wonderful meal, we headed out to MK where we snagged a great position for the castle show and the fireworks. It was Max’s first time seeing them from inside the park and he was absolutely enthralled. It was a truly magical evening!

Max loved all the new rides he was able to finally experience, Splash Mountain and BTMRR among them, and I was thrilled to have access to the best rides in the parks. Space Mountain and EE can wait, as long as we have so many other great rides to occupy us in the meantime. I was reading the height restrictions on rides at Universal...and, well... no wonder Disney’s known for being more family friendly.

It was a great trip and our love for the Beach Club was only solidified!

12-30-2012, 06:26 PM
OK...so not much of a surprise, but anyway...

After a lot of angsty decision making involving way too many people, I finally took my girls-only October Food and Wine trip. I wish I had taken more pictures, but after several trips where I felt like I was in a constant rush to document everything (and I’m not that good or experienced a photographer, so it isn’t as enjoyable a process for me as it might be for some), so I have a few camera phone shots and that’s about it.

What had begun as a quick trip for me to see Food and Wine and meet some fine Dis-folk quickly morphed into a family trip with my mom, my godmother, and her two daughters. Just a little backstory here: my mom and my godmother have been best friends since they were five. I was raised with her being like my aunt and her two daughters being like my cousins. They’ve always lived in the greater D.C. area and we see each other regularly, but it isn’t always easy.

We ended up in a two bedroom villa at Old Key West that, for the space alone, felt like the lap of luxury!. I loved the decor, the theming of the resort itself, and Olivia’s. We were halfway between a quiet pool (complete with its own hot tub, so I was happy) and a bus stop, so the sheer size of the resort was not the issue I had been afraid it might be. If we ever vacation with a group again, I’d go to OKW in a second.

The trip was pretty much everything you’d want a trip like that to be. Lots of inter-generational bonding, laughs, and some tears as we all talked and had a second to relax and enjoy our surroundings and each other. On that Saturday evening, after a great meal at Via Napoli, the daughters and I got dessert in France and then headed over to the landing area just below the bridge between France and England. We plopped ourselves down for a thirty minute wait for Illuminations that was so worth it, given the amazing location of our seats.

My mom sitting in front of Olivia’s, where we ate twice! Great food and always a convenient walk-in!

And here we are sitting on Olivia’s beautiful patio, enjoying lunch and a good laugh! And my Pina Colava wasn’t too bad, either!. Though they taste a bit better out of a plastic cup with your toes in the sand at Storm Along Bay...

Speaking of pools...this was the lovely one right next door to our villa.

My mom posing with the crystal figurines that are for sale in that cart across from Pirates of the Caribbean.

I really loved Food and Wine! Its like World Showcase on steroids. I wish I had been able to spend even more time there, as the food and drinks were delicious and there was just so much to try. I was lucky enough to run into Mickeynicki and her husband near the China pavillion and we had a lovely visit. Nicki is just one of those people who just feel like you’ known forever. She’s one of the warmest, sweetest people you’ll ever want to meet and its no wonder that she and Kathy have bonded like they have.

I also had to share this picture:

My mom and I were in the gift shop in Germany (obviously) and when I walked out, I found my “cousin” Melissa perched atop the fountain in the plaza. For some reason, and perhaps you have to know Melissa to understand this, I found this hysterically funny and just could not stop laughing.

Here we are in Germany, minus my mom.


We had an amazing meal at California Grill, which everyone agreed was one of the highlights of the trip. We had a wonderfully attentive waiter who was just entertaining enough, without being overbearing. He also did a fantastic job of timing our meals around the fireworks. We were able to sip champagne while watching Wishes! A wish come true, if you ask me.

We were also lucky enough to hit the soft opening of the new Fantasyland expansion. We tried Le Fou’s brew, which is totally disgusting, so save your money! And I ran into Gaston... who I had to stop and meet! There was a very informal line that had formed and just as I approached him, who should I spy?

None other than Mary Ellen (MEK) and Cynthia (EANDESMOM), who I had had plans with that I can cancelled due to some serious family pressure, so imagine my amusement when we just ran into eachother! As with almost all Dismeets I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, I had no question that it was the two of them as soon I laid eyes on them. When I blurted out to Gaston that I was more excited to meet them than I was to meet him...well...hillarity ensued.

It was a bittersweet trip only because I wish I had had more time down there and it made me realize how much I just love Florida. I love palm trees. I love the beautiful breezes and all the sunshine. It really makes me want to try and figure out what a way to move down there, but that opens up quite the pandora’s box of questions and what if scenarios, so I’m pretty sure it won’t happen for a long time. Sigh. The trip was also a little sad because, at that point, I wouldn’t be going back to Disneyworld for awhile. Probably not until July of 2014. That one always makes me laugh; for most people a break of a little more than a year and a half is nothing, but to us...well.. you all get it.

12-30-2012, 10:13 PM
I'm here! How wonderful that Max was able to see the 3D effects! I'm sure that you were overjoyed seeing that. And I have to agree on the Jedi Training Academy -- it was one of the best moments we've ever had at Disney, back when James was just about Max's age. :thumbsup2

And how cool that you ran into MEK and Cythia! Poor Gaston. :laughing:

12-31-2012, 06:31 AM
Tried to sub yesterday from my phone, but obviously it did NOT work!

But I'm here now and all up to date. Great background stories, wonderful recaps, great pictures. What's not to like?

I hope you and Max have an awesomely fantastic trip! Enjoy!

12-31-2012, 08:34 AM
I'm here....will catch up later

01-01-2013, 09:25 PM
How did I not know about this TR?!? :confused3

Anyway, I enjoyed reading about your July trip highlights. I think we are going to sign Reid up for the JTA if we do indeed get to pull off an "extra" vacation this year. And that was such a sweet story about Max being able to see the 3D effects for the first time!!

And your October trip sounds like it was a lot of fun! I would love to go back for Food & Wine one day with just adults. Don't get me wrong...Reid let us try a lot of food. But, I felt like couldn't really linger and spend tons of time on that.

By the way....it's so nice to have you back on the boards!! :goodvibes

01-02-2013, 10:48 AM
Hi, I know I've seen you around in other TR's. I usually always miss catching a new TR until it's half over and end up lurking so I thought I'd say hi since I'm not behind on this one!

That is great that you were able to get an AP and really take full advantage of it.

Having had the opportunity to watch some Gaston meet & greets last month, I can only imagine how interesting it got when you told him you were more interested in meeting some Disfriends. Something tells me we might find out a little more about this story in another TR... :rolleyes1

01-02-2013, 12:09 PM
Hi Tina!

Missed you on the boards! Just caught up on all your trips and am so along for this one.
Can't wait to read all about it.

01-02-2013, 04:38 PM
subbing TIna, saw your update on FB. Looks like a fabulous trip!

01-19-2013, 11:31 PM
I subscribed and meant to go back to read... and then I thought I unsub'd. :sad2: Such confusion...

Anyway... all caught up. Looks like your summer and fall trips were successful. Too funny that you ran into Mary Ellen and Cynthia!

Can't wait to hear more of your adventures!

01-20-2013, 11:59 AM
Hi there, I'm a newbie to your reports but I'm signing on for the story!