Operation Triple S - Land/Sea Trip Report 3/30-4/6! The Conclusion 9/5
Who: My recruits and I, family of 3 from NW Georgia
Me: AKA Commander Mama :cool2: , lover of travel, obsessed with WDW, and soon, DCL. Loves to plan and surprise sons with trips to top all previous trips. Never went to Disney World as a child, and is making up for it as an adult.
DS11: AKA Private Goofy :goofy: , lover of all things soft and cuddly. Obsessed with chocolate and doughnuts. Loves to watch wrestling, SpongeBob, and Naruto. Handsome, smart, funny boy who is still my baby. First trip to Disney was at age 7
DS15: AKA Happy :) , lover of football and paintball. Obsessed with tennis shoes and French fries. Loves to watch Naruto and listen to his iPod. Son, in honor of whose 16th birthday, this “little” trip has been put together. Sweetest, most handsome boy you’d ever want to meet. You’d never think his greatest joy is playing defense on his football team so that he can HIT somebody. First trip to Disney was at age 11.
What, when, where: 7-day Land/Sea combo, March 30 – April 6, AKL and Disney Wonder
As of 4/14/07, Operation Triple S was in effect. I began planning this trip shortly after my son's birthday last year. It dawned on me that he would be turning 16 in '08, so I wanted to do it up GRAND! So, what praytell, is Operation Triple S, you ask? Well, it is the less tongue-twisting version of Operation Secret Sweet Sixteen. My beloved son “Happy” will be celebrating his 16th birthday on 4/6. So, I have decided to take him, my younger son, and myself on a fun-filled vacation to WDW and on the DCL to celebrate. We’ve done many vacations before, but this one is super sneaky and secret :tiptoe: . So secret, in fact, that I’d planned on not even telling my family members about it until shortly before we leave. I can’t afford any slip-ups. It is very important to me that this particular surprise be kept quiet. :ssst: The boys are used to trips here and there, and they love Walt Disney World. So, I know that this trip will be a blast. We are arriving to the Orlando area on Saturday 2/29 for a little pre-trip celebration. We’re going to stay at a hotel near I-Drive, have dinner somewhere nearby and relax for the evening. Then, Sunday 3/30 the “Land” portion of our actual trip will commence. We will be staying at AKL. “Happy” has been wanting to stay at this resort ever since he knew it was in existence. This boy loves animals and being able to stay at a deluxe hotel, with his beloved animals, is sure to be a big hit. Then, on Thursday 4/3, we’ll set sail on the Disney Wonder for a 3-day cruise :boat: . I can’t wait!! I’m so excited I can’t stand it. :hyper: So, this will be our first cruise, and our first trip outside of the country. I hope it is the first of many more to come.
I think I’m going to keep the “sea” part of the trip a secret until we actually get ready to leave the resort, rather than telling them about it when the Land portion of the trip is revealed. Oh, what a glorious day that will be. Maybe I’ll be super mean and let them think that we’re actually leaving the resort to go home, after only four days. That wouldn’t be so hard to do, since I can just say it was too expensive to stay more days. Oooh… that sounds like a plan. A devious, evil, brilliant kind of plan. :stir:
Why: 16th Birthday Celebration for my big guy
My son “Happy” is truly a joy. He is smart, funny, sweet, and quite possibly the most kind person I know. He is very much for doing the right thing, and is always looking for ways to please his mama. He is helpful and protective, and a fierce believer in family. He is the only teenager I know that would prefer to have a birthday party with just his family and none of his friends. He is very popular and everyone just loves him. But, he feels most comfortable, most content, with his family. He is sensitive and just about as cute as could possibly be. I know most parents think their children are nice-looking, but my son is incredibly handsome, if I do say so myself. He’s very responsible, and has grown so much that he has to look down to look his short mama in the eyes. It’s hard to believe that this is the same baby that was born six weeks too soon, and ended up being 4lbs and 13 ozs when he was born. So, I have no doubt that he will be a huge success as he grows up because he is a really strong kid. Even though he was born a premie, he didn’t have to spend any extra time in the hospital. He was perfectly healthy and was released with me. He just happened to be very little. And, of course, that time didn’t last very long at all. So, these past 16 years have been filled with so much and with so many emotions, and ups and downs. But, I can say without a doubt that most of the ups, joys, laughs, and tears of joy have been because of that boy. He makes his mama very proud and I can’t think of anyone in the entire world that I would rather lavish an incredible trip like this upon. He deserves this and so much more. Sixteen is a very special birthday, and it is my wish, my hope, my prayer, that my boy will remember his forever.
Next post… How I've kept the secret for almost an entire year!
Yay, I love reading about surprise trips, can't wait for more! :yay:
How the Secret Has been Kept...so far
What has helped me keep quiet about all this for almost a year, you wonder? Well, I had some other trips planned to keep my mind and mouth occupied. We had a trip to WDW late May, early June last year, a beach trip early August last year, and a second WDW trip for mid-October. With school commencing shortly after that trip, the holidays and my birthday quickly to follow, I had enough to keep me sufficiently distracted. That was, until January. That was when my final payment for the package was due. Once that was done, I had no place to focus my energy. I would have just had to wait for the days to pass. Or would I? Well, I’m not very good waiting. Although, I was able to do one more thing for the trip (other than shopping, of course). I was able to schedule our excursions. LOL. I say “excursions” as if there were many. I was really only thinking seriously about one, the dolphin excursion in Nassau. Birthday boy will love this, and so will my other son and I. So, I booked it. That took about half an hour, including filling out my travel documents and printing those. Now what? Hmm… well, the boys had a few days out of school for winter break. (What the heck? Weren’t they just out of school two weeks for the holidays? :confused3 ) Anyway, since there was no football schedule to contend with, I thought a trip to WDW would be in order. But, I couldn’t do that, could I? We were already going to WDW the following month. There was no way I could possibly be thinking about that, could I? :rolleyes1
I could, indeed! We booked a trip to POFQ for 2/14-2/17 and it was great! We had a wonderful time! I thought that this was the perfect decoy trip. They would never think in a million years that they would be going back to WDW so soon. So, this little trip assisted me immensely with keeping my secret and throwing off the youngsters!! Whew! I’m so glad we went because I was about to burst!! Here are a few pictures from our trip last month.
Me with the birthday boy at Animal Kingdom.
Private Goofy and his big brother. Hmmm...I wonder what he was up to :scratchin
A picture of the castle.
The boys on Indy Speedway:
Up next… The procuring of the passports…
I have to say the secret keeping has been difficult, but it will be sooo worth it!! :thumbsup2 I see you have a PTR going, so I'm off to check it out! :drive:
Oohhh, very good thinking to use the Feb. trip as your "decoy" trip! :goodvibes I also love how you might not tell the boys about the cruise portion until they think they're leaving for home! LOVE IT!
You are a beautiful family, and I can't wait to read more about your trip!
Thanks BrittBritt!! More info coming up, with the itinerary to follow!! ;)
Mission: Obtain the Passports
My first clandestine mission would be to somehow obtain passports for the boys without them suspecting we would be going anywhere anytime soon. So, I casually mentioned to Private Happy that perhaps we might want to get some passports in case we decide to take a trip abroad in the very far future. He said that it would be cool to visit other countries. Great. One down, one to go. The little inquisitive one might require a bit more thought. So, I had to come up with some answers to his inevitable “why” questions.
I explained to the boys that we would be getting our pictures taken for our new passports, which we would need “in case” we ever decided to go on a trip abroad (in the very far future). My younger son asked what “abroad” meant. :rolleyes: I told him what it meant, so of course he asked where we would ever possibly go. So, I said, “Oh, maybe Mexico or Guatemala (since they have family there), or maybe Jamaica or something.” That seemed to quiet his questions for the time being so that was good. Getting the pictures taken was pretty uneventful, and I was to come back the following day to pick them up. Well, when I returned, lo and behold, they had not been printed, and actually had been “accidentally” deleted from the camera. I was not at all pleased, since I had a schedule to keep as far as getting the applications submitted. After all, I only had 11 months until our trip. :rotfl2: Anyway, I high-tailed it out of there to go and pick up the boys to head back for a repeat performance of picture taking :car: . (So that we could get these passports that were for a “possible trip sometime in the very far future”). My younger son is a bit of a whiner at times, especially when he is hungry. So, he was none too pleased when we arrived back at the same place we were the day prior in order to take pictures again for some stupid passports that we would probably never even use anyway. This time, once our pictures were taken, they were downloaded to the computer right away and processed while we waited… and waited… and waited… and waited. I was certain Private “Goofy” was going to waist away from the lack of food and pure boredom. :rolleyes: This is one child who can not ever stand to be bored, for even one second. Constant entertainment is a must for him. Private “Happy” had been distracted the entire time since he had noticed a paintball store mere yards from the photo shop. So, while PG and I waited for our pictures to be printed, PH took off for the paintball shop to see what goodies they might have to feed his obsession. Finally, the pictures were done, and I got up to get them and pay so that we could get out of there. Then, it happened. The photo processor dude, who we’ll call Grumpy, because, well, he was pretty grumpy, decided to ask “So, I guess you all are planning on a family trip, huh?”:scared1: Man, why did he have to say anything? Couldn’t he just hand me my pictures and not make small talk? So, I say “No, we’re just getting them now in case we decide to take a trip somewhere in a few years.” It sounded so dumb, but he didn’t respond, so maybe he bought it. Whether he did or didn’t was not my concern. I just wanted to make sure that the kids didn’t suspect we’d be going on a trip in the very “near” future. Well, finally, that particular mission was complete. Now, on to the next mission: Submitting the passport applications.
A couple of months after getting the pictures done, we found ourselves at the post office to submit our passport applications. There was a short wait, but everything went smoothly. The lady asked my boys if they were excited about going to the Bahamas :faint: . Of course they didn’t have a clue what she was talking about, so I once again, spoke of a “possible” trip to be had in the very far future. Sometimes people really just talk too much.
About three months from the time the applications were submitted we got these little jewels in the mail.
I was happily surprised that they had been processed so quickly. Now, we can travel almost anywhere in the world we want to. I’m so excited for us! Neither of my parents had passports, which is kind of sad to me. Neither of them had/have ever been in an airplane, either, which is also sad to me. I want to go everywhere and see everything. Now my children do too. We will be world travelers!! :woohoo:
Up next... The Itinerary
The Itinerary & 9 DAY DANCE!!
First let's dance in celebration of being the SINGLE DIGITS!! :cool1: :banana: :woohoo: :dance3: :cheer2: party:
Ok... on to the real update:
Our first official day will begin by arriving at the Animal Kingdom Lodge as close to 8AM as possible. We are park people, and getting to the parks as early as possible will be the order of the day. We will check in, and hopefully, our room will be ready. But, if not, that is just fine. We’ll just hang out at the parks until it is. The first park of the day is to be Animal Kingdom. We love this park, if for nothing else, Expedition Everest. Here’s a picture of us from a past trip just before one of many rides. Why my little PG had such a hard time smiling I’ll never know. He was just in this terrible phase where all of his pictures looked like he was in pain or something. And why didn’t the photopass lady tell me that I was “windblown” and might need a minute to fix my ‘do? Anyway… the pic nonetheless.
PG isn’t too keen on thrill rides, but PH and I LOVE this ride. We’ll likely hit Kali River Rapids if the weather cooperates. Then, we’ll probably do the Safari and not much else this day. We have our favorites, so we’ll likely just do those this trip. After lunch we’ll go back to the resort to rest/swim, and check things out. This place is beautiful from the pictures I’ve seen, and I can’t wait to take many of my own. Hopefully, our room will be ready by this time, so that we can relax before we head out to Epcot that evening. We’ll be having dinner at Garden Grill. This will be our first time visiting this restaurant.
The next morning, we’ll hit Chef Mickey’s for breakfast. We love this place, especially for breakfast. We weren’t all that impressed with dinner, though. Here’s a picture of the boys on a previous trip. PH is not the easiest to get to smile in pix with characters. I guess he thinks he’s too old for that stuff.
After breakfast, we’ll head over to the Magic Kingdom. We’ll hit our favorites, The three mountains, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Buzz, and of course the TTA. We rode that about ten times last trip. Oh, please don’t let me forget to mention Private Goofy’s favorite: Indy Speedway. He loves that! Anyway, we’ll grab lunch there somewhere and then head back to the resort for a bit before hitting DHS for the evening. We will have dinner at Mama Melrose, and try to hit ToT and RnRC. We, in this instance, will consist of Private Happy and myself since PG will have nothing to do with ToT. I took him on it once, and he will not set foot anywhere near the place again. The birthday boy and myself, however, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this ride. We’ll also try to catch Fantasmic this evening. This is such a great show!
The next day, we’ll be hitting Epcot. We’ll hang out here for most of the day and then head back to the resort to relax and swim for the evening. We have dinner reservations at Boma this night. We haven’t been there before, so it will be new and interesting for us.
The “last” Land day will begin with breakfast at Donald’s Breakfast at Tusker House. We’ll spend some quality time with the Yeti, then head over to POFQ shortly after lunch. Why would we be going there, you ask? Because I have booked a fishing excursion for PH, and I’m having the boat pick us up at the dock at POFQ. I was going to have them pick us up at the DTD dock, but figured it would be easier to make it to POFQ from the park. So, that’ll be a great surprise for PH. He loves to fish. His brother and I, not so much. But, it will be a great experience for us as a family. After this, we’ll head back to the resort to get cleaned up for the final park night. We’ll be at MK and we have a dinner ADR for Crystal Palace. We’ve had breakfast here before and it was great. I’m looking forward to seeing what dinner will be like. Here’s a pic from our breakfast there last year.
As you can see, I have a lot of buffets scheduled. Well, in case you missed it, I have a soon-to-be 16-year old who is eating me out of house and home. And, he LOVES to eat as much as he wants. PG likes to eat, but not quite as much as his brother… so far. PH is going to be in pure heaven when we set sail on The Wonder! :love:
The following morning will be met with breakfast at The Mara and a little laundry before we hit the road for “home” AKA Port Canaveral, for our 3-day cruise on the Disney Wonder. The first port is Nassau. We are currently booked for the Dolphin encounter. That should be really fun. I’m looking forward to that, and PH will really enjoy it, I think. He loves Dolphins and loves to get close to animals to which he’s not normally exposed. The next day we’ll be docking at Castaway Cay. I am very excited about this day. I’m planning to just relax and enjoy our day in paradise. We’ll be returning to Port Canaveral on PH’s actual birthday, leaving the lovely Wonder behind. But, we won’t really be done with our vacation. We’ll have one more day left on our park hoppers. So, the plan is to give PH the choice as to which park/s to hit before we hit the road back home.
So to re-cap:
AK – morning
Epcot – evening, Garden Grill dinner
Chef Mickey’s breakfast
MK – morning
DHS – evening, Mama Melrose dinner
Epcot – morning
Relax at resort, Dinner at Boma
AK – morning, breakfast at Donald’s Breakfast at Tusker House
MK – evening
First day aboard Disney Wonder, fun, fun, fun
Dolphin encounter in Nassau
Head back to WDW for a little while, then head home.
Up next: final preparations
Oh, I'm with PG on the ToT. There is just something about that ride that gives me the heebie jeebies! Somehow I always end up going after DH teases me relentlessly about my fear of a silly ride. He's quite the sympathetic one, huh?
I love the idea of fishing for PH. I think he'll really appreciate that you set that up just because you knew he'd love it.
Since we just booked our 3-day cruise on the Wonder, I will be super interested in reading about that part of your trip! Let's just hope no more nosy passport people try to ruin the surprise again! ;)
Ready to go, and Land Portion Revealed
So, yesterday afternoon, I finished up all of the little to-do lists and got all the packing done. It was a lot of packing! I'll post pics when we get back in case you don't believe me. ;)
I surprised PH by making a silly videotape of myself describing how I came upon his invitation from Mickey to come celebrate his 16th birthday. He was really totally surprised! I was glad because I thought he might have had an idea about what was going on. Turns out, I'm a pretty good sneak! :rotfl: I'll post pictures of his face when he was watching the video and realized he was going away to celebrate his birthday.
Well, today, we are at a hotel near I-Drive waiting for our check-in day tomorrow at the AKL. We can't wait! Then Thursday, we set sail on the Disney Wonder. I hope I can keep the secret until we leave for the port! Wish me luck! Can't wait to report back on how everything goes! :thumbsup2
Hi, I cant wait to hear about the Cruise. Ive never been and want to oh so bad.
So, I had thought for months about how I would reveal the big surprise to PH. I couldn’t think of what to do for the life of me. :confused3 So, I just decided that I would come up with a little silly video giving him clues during the dinner before our departure. So, that evening, I got dinner ready and everyone sat down. We were watching our video from the Boo to You parade that we went to last October. :happytv: (Which was awesome, by-the-way) I’d added my silliness to the end of the parade video and as I came on the screen, I grabbed my camera from under the table and got ready. PH’s face lit up once he heard his name mentioned. Then, I went on (in the video) to tell him about a surprise trip and surprises within that trip. You should have seen his face!! Well, actually, you can do just that..sort of… the angle wasn’t the best.
He and his brother were so excited. I had him find a letter “from Mickey” that told him when he was leaving and where he would be staying at the WDW resort. He was so excited and so was I. He was completely surprised and I was glad, because I was certain that he had an idea we were going somewhere.
Once dinner was done, the boys got their stuff together and made sure that mom had packed everything they needed. I think I packed way too much, but that’s another story
So, everyone went to bed that night, anxious about the day to follow and the many surprises that mom had eluded to. Hehehe :rolleyes1
So, we got up early, had a little breakfast and got on the road. :car:
It was so gloomy outside, so I was extra glad to be escaping to our happy place. Surely, the weather would be wonderful! So, after I finally got around a slow driver, I was able to hit the highway and head towards Florida. First, I had to go through my city. (Atlanta)
After a few hours, we hit this spot.
A little while later, we were exiting the turnpike to hit our digs for the evening. We decided to make it to the Orlando area a day early to maximize our first actual vacation day at the World. After settling into our room, we made our way to Boston Lobster Feast. I had heard about this place on the Dis, and if anyone was up for an all you can eat seafood buffet, with lobster no less, it was my boy Private Happy. We chowed down on crab legs, lobster, shrimp, veggies, salad, fish, etc. for a while. PH was in heaven :cloud9: . He loved that place and asked if we could go back on our next trip to Disney. I said sure!! Here he is after chowing down!
I tried to get him to pose for a picture with the Lobster car, but he refused. Luckily, PG wasn’t afraid to get his picture on.
Next up… Operation: AKL Arrival
Operation: AKL Arrival! Day one Part one
So, after spending the night at our off-site hotel, we packed up, checked out, and were on our way to Walt Disney World :drive: . We weren’t that far away, and about ten minutes after hitting the road, we were pulling up to this.
Then, shortly after that, we saw this!
We pulled over to the parking area, and hopped out of the car full of excitement. It was about 8:30 AM. As we got out, we marveled at how big and beautiful the main building was. We made our way to the amazing lobby and took a few pictures.
After that, I asked the boys to please busy themselves checking out the lobby and taking pictures while I checked us in. I had a feeling the CM would mention something about the cruise and that was still a secret at this point. So, the boys went their way and I checked us in. The check-in went smooth enough. I was glad, however, that I’d instructed the boys to stay away, because the CM did advise me to head over to the cruise line desk to check in for the cruise portion of the trip. As we were finishing up, PH comes up to me and I can’t even recall what he wanted because my focus was on getting him away from the registration desk ASAP. I then whispered to the CM that the boys didn’t know about the cruise just yet. Then, lo and behold PG decides he needs to come up there as well. I couldn’t get rid of him as easily, so the CM was really good about speaking in code after I’d told her about the secret. Whew! Well, our room wasn’t ready, so I got the little card with the phone number to call later to find out our room number. I made sure that we would have a savanna view and all was good. We bid the CM farewell and went on our way.
Once that was done, I took PG and went over to find PH. He was sitting down relaxing, waiting on us.
I asked both boys why they had come up to the registration desk, after I had explicitly told them not to do so. Then the inevitable, “I don’t know” came out of their mouths.:confused3 Ah well. Anyway, I hoped the secret was still safe. I then told them that I had something to do, and so they needed to sit down and stay there until I got back. So, I went over to the cruise line desk which was pretty far from where I left the boys. Check-in here was a breeze, and I was done within minutes. I got everything confirmed, and my directions to the port. Then I was off!
I went over and asked the boys what they wanted to do. Our plan was to hit AK, but PG was acting a little moody. He gets this way when he’s hungry. So, I asked if they wanted to eat at the hotel or wait until we got to AK. Of course, they wanted to eat then. So, we made our way down to The Mara, and grabbed some breakfast. After some basic breakfast food, we made our way over to the bus stop for the AK and there was a bus there waiting for us. We hopped on for a short ride over to the park. Once inside, we made our way over to Expedition Everest. PH and I love this ride. We got fast passes, and then headed over to Dinosaur. Well, the wait time said 20 minutes, but the line looked much longer than that and it wasn’t moving. So, we decided not to hunt for dinosaurs that day. We went over and had a seat on the bench across from this.
We sat and thought about what to do and then, went on over to this.
We enjoyed this ride a lot!
After that, we went over to grab FPs for Kali River Rapids. This is PG’s favorite ride in the park. Once the FPs were secured, we found another bench to sit and people-watch for a few minutes. We decided it was time to do something, so we went to see It’s a Bug’s Life. It was cute. I was glad for a second opportunity to see the show since the first time was ruined by some loud man in the row behind us, talking on his cell phone during the entire show. :mad: Why a CM said nothing to him, I don’t know. Anyway, the show was good, and we left there ready for our next adventure. PH and I headed directly towards EE to meet up with our friend the Yeti. It was a great ride, as usual. Then, we decided it was time to get wet. :scared:
So, we made our way over to Kali River Rapids. PH and I were arguing about who would sit with PG. PG seems to be somewhat of a wetness magnet. So, whomever sits with him gets the brunt of the soaking. As luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to PG. And, yes, I got pretty soaked. But, so did PH, who was sitting with a total stranger. PG of course, was only half as soaked as his brother and I. This is not fair!! He had a great time laughing at us, and PH and I vowed never to sit near him again.
After getting soaked, we made our way back to the bus stop to head for AKL. I’d called to check on the room after we rode Kali, so we decided to get our bags and make our way to the room. Well, we had a lot of bags and it was tough carrying all those things all the way to our room. Had I known how far it was going to be, I would have definitely used bell services instead. Next time, I will check the room distance for sure! Anyway, we got settled in the room and took a few pictures.
Once on the balcony, we met a few of these guys. We decided to hang out and look at the animals for a while.
A bit later, everyone was ready for lunch, so we made our way down to The Mara again. We decided to get a table outside and enjoy the afternoon. Lunch was good, burgers and chicken nuggets. After we were done, we went up to the room to relax for a little while before going for a swim. The pool was great and the boys really enjoyed themselves there. PG went down the slide a few times, and had a great time. PH decided he was too big for the slide, but still had a great time at the pool. After a little while at the pool, we went up to get ready for dinner that evening. We’d be heading to Epcot for our date with farmer Mickey and friends!! :thumbsup2
Up next: Operation: Garden Grill, Day one Part Two
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