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crocko 06-03-2009 03:54 PM

PTR; Joshua and Samantha's 1st Trip (Sep 17-26 '09) [Train Tour Pics!]
I've been a DISer for about 2 weeks now (something like that) and am ready to put together my first ever Pre-Trip Report. Since September hours finally came out, I feel ready to start discussing the pre-trip plans.

First, some introductions.

The Guests: (the entire Crocker family)
7 total in the group [will update soon with pics]

John (me) à I am 28 years old and have always been a huge Disney fan. Growing up, my favorites were actually the Disney comics. I love to read the old stories by Carl Barks, and even more I love the stories and artwork by Don Rosa. I believe the #1 contributor to my current vocabulary skills is those comics. I need to check old family pictures, but I believe I have been to Disney World 8 times – 5 while growing up with my family, then two long vacations with my wife (including our honeymoon) and once this last December with my wife and my sister (first non-Spring/Summer trip to Disney).

Bridgette (my wife) à She is 27. We met in high school and have been happily married now for 8 years (come June 9th…which yes, is also Donald Duck’s birthday). She’s a big Disney fan, too, just doesn’t get quite as pre-trip planning crazy as I do.

Joshua (our son) à He is currently 4, but will have turned 5 before our trip. He is a big Disney fan. Loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, and Phineas & Ferb. We went and saw UP on Monday and he is ready to go back and watch it again. Thanks to Lego Star Wars on the Wii, Joshua has also become an avid Star Wars fan…so watch out Jedi Training Academy and Star Tours. (First-timer to Disney World)

Samantha (our daughter) à She just turned 3 and despite my initial efforts, she loves to be a princess and loves the color pink. Oh well, she’s cute about it. Samantha loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and My Friends Tigger & Pooh (she’s completely unaware of a Pooh world that doesn’t have Darby in it). Her favorite princess is Ariel and she really likes Marie from the Aristocats. Her 3-year old birthday party is this Saturday and it will be Alice in Wonderland-themed. (First-timer to Disney World)

Mary (my sister) à Mary is my only sibling and is a few years older than me (I’ll just leave it at that). Last year, Mary called me one evening and sprang the news that she was calling from Orlando (not Plano, TX where she lives). She had taken an impromptu weekend trip to WDW and while there caught the DVC bug and joined up. Turns out to be great news for our vacation, though. Originally, my immediate 4-person family was planning on staying at All-Star Movies. Now, because of her DVC membership and points, we will get to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Woohoo!! :cool1:

Linda (my mom) à A big Disney fan. Besides several trips to WDW, she has been to DisneyLand a couple times and she and Mary even recently took a trip to Paris and visited DisneyLand there as well. She loves her grandkids and is very excited to join us on their first trip.

Jim (my dad) à Not necessarily a big Disney fan, but he has fun on these trips and will enjoy vacationing with Joshua and Samantha. He refuses to wear shorts, so despite September heat, will be wearing pants throughout the trip. :confused3

The Calendar and Travel:
Our trip will start on Thursday, September 17th. My family will be leaving from Oklahoma City early Thursday morning, with a layover in Houston and a 1:30ish landing time in Orlando. My sister and parents will be leaving from Dallas (my parents live in OKC, but are driving down to Texas on Wednesday) and have a direct flight which should get to Orlando around 12:45ish.
Our flights back will be on Saturday, September 26th. Both flights will leave Orlando sometime around 6:00pm.

The WDW Home:
As mentioned, due to my sister’s DVC membership, we will get to spend 9 nights/10 days at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. She has just enough points to get us in a 2-bedroom, savannah-view for the entire stay in the newly opened Kidani Villas. I have seen Jack Spence’s pictures from and am very excited about this location.

The Purpose:
Purpose? Who needs a purpose to go to Disney World? Basically, Bridgette and I have tried to plan two big Disney trips in the past several years….each time, within about 2-3 weeks of deciding to start planning, we found out that she was pregnant and thus put Disney on hiatus. Well, we’ve been planning this trip for quite some time now and no baby news. The kids are both at an age where we feel they are ready for this kind of trip and are more than itching to go. We spent 3 nights in WDW this past December…the excuse then was to get in one more no-kids trip and do some scoping out (since that was our first trip in over 6 years…quite a few new things had popped up).
In general, though, the big purpose is that this is Joshua and Samantha’s first trips to Walt Disney World and they are super-excited.

I’ll let these introductions be all for now and will add more later today or tomorrow.

Cast (Pics)
Introduction to Disney Alphabet Countdown Project
Samantha's 3rd Birthday Party (Alice In Wonderland theme)
Itinerary & ADR list as of 98-day mark
First Disney shirt of the trip is made (Joshua, I am your shirt.)
The Pin is mightier.....first post regarding my current Pin collection.
ADR Day -- Disaster or Relief?
June, St. Louis TR starts
Day 1 Gameplan
Day 2 Gameplan
Day 3 Gameplan
Day 4 Gameplan
Day 5 Gameplan
Day 6 Gameplan
Day 7 Gameplan
Day 8 Gameplan
Day 9 Gameplan
Day 10 Gameplan
August, Plano TX Trip Report
Booked the Dining Plan! (Revised ADR List)
A Christmas Carol Train Tour

crocko 06-04-2009 10:23 AM

Okay, time to add some pics.

Above I have mentioned who the cast is but now to put a friendly (or something like that) face to the name and info.

First, me (John)...your author and my wife (Bridgette)

These pics come from the 3-day trip my wife, my sister, and I went on back in December last year. I'm excited because I've currently lost about 21 pounds since that trip. You can also see my wife and I posing for shots in Agrabah and in Japan.

And there's one of my beautiful wife with Pocahontas (was really cute how excited my wife was to get a picture with her)

Next, my sister (Mary)

We did MVMCP our first night and it rained off-and-on that night. Mary is very camera-phobic so this is one of the few I have of her, but I really like this one of Bridgette and her. You can tell that despite being wet we are having a good time.

Then, my parents (Jim and Linda)

Picture of my dad during his birthday last year

Not sure of the event, but picture of my mom sometime last year as well.

And now, for the kiddos....Joshua and Samantha

Joshua with his new Cars bike
Samantha looking very mysterious and pretty at the zoo
and the two together laughing about something silly Bridgette said to try and get them to smile (I love that pic)

cheap traveler 06-04-2009 11:08 AM

Just wanted to hop on over andcheck out your Pre-trip, since you were kind enough to respond to mine. Now all I have to do is figure out how to put the link in my signature:confused3

Beautiful family, love the picture of the kids cracking up. Those are always the best - really seem to capture the essence of childhood.
Looking forward to reading more!!

crocko 06-04-2009 11:11 AM


Glad to have my first reader. If nothing else, we can keep each other entertained. :teacher:

crocko 06-05-2009 10:15 AM

Okay, before I get into the daily planning, I want to take a post to talk about some things we've been doing with the kids to get them excited and prepared for the big trip.

We are homeschool parents (more-so my wife since she's the stay-at-home parent) and even though Joshua and Samantha are currently only 4 and 3, we still try to come up with appropriate work/projects to start their learning process. Our trip starts on September 17th, so back on March 17th, I remember being excited about hitting the 6-months to go mark. In "working the math" I also realized that in two days (March 19th) we would be exactly 26 weeks away. 26? :teacher: Wait a second! That's how many letters are in the alphabet! :yay:

So, I came up with idea that each week (Thursday - Wednesday) the kids would start a new letter as a "countdown to Disney" So, on March 19th, we would be starting the letter A.
Part of the goal for each week would be to introduce Disney World and Disney friends to the kids based on the letter of the week. The other goal would be to have a few "school" tasks to be done as well that somewhat followed the letter of the week.

So, March 19th...Week "A" -- let me give some examples:

The Disney portion --> the goal here is to talk about a WDW ride, a WDW non-ride, Disney friends, and try to find some A character coloring pages/worksheets.

So, Disney ride = Astro Orbiter!
5 pics were printed and then we told Joshua and Samantha about the ride, where it's at, and how cool it will be.

They've been loving this. Joshua loves rockets and both kids are excited about this ride.

Non-ride --> Animal Kingdom Lodge!
This is where we will be staying, so it is a perfect choice for the letter "A"

We printed a few pictures showing what AKL looks like inside and outside and a picture of some of the people that may be welcoming us.

Now, when I ask where we'll be staying, even little Samantha can remember and spit it out...of course, the joke now is that they love to be silly and say Animal....Kingdom.....Ice Cream! :laughing:

Disney friends --> Then we also printed out pictures of several famous "A" Disney friends:
Alice, Aladdin, Abu, Arthur, Aurora, Archimedes, Andy, and of course...Ariel.

And then, through some various websites, I was able to find worksheets, bookmarks, and coloring pages featuring these "A" characters.

Next....some examples of our weekly "school work".....

cheap traveler 06-05-2009 11:45 AM

That is such a great idea!! Now I wish we had 26 weeks left!! So creative! We are working on theme-dinners for Sunday nights.

crocko 06-05-2009 11:46 AM

Theme dinners is very cool. If someday our kids start eating actual foods, that would be something really fun to do.

chicagoshannon 06-05-2009 02:02 PM

I LOVE your countdown! Too bad we have less then 26 weeks left. Maybe I can do it but skip a few letters. LOL X would be hard I'm sure I want to see what you did for the other letters. :)

You guys are such an adorable family. I can't wait to read how your kids liked their trip.

crocko 06-05-2009 02:05 PM

Thanks for joining in.

If you have less than 26 weeks, you could always try to break each letter down into smaller portions and just do a little less. Since we're trying to throw in math and other school topics, we need a full week.....but even with 4 months to go, you could do a letter every 4 days....OR just come up with your own fun idea :-)

As I finish telling about our projects, I'll make sure to give a list of WDW items for each letter we've covered so far.


crocko 06-05-2009 02:21 PM

As promised, I'm going to continue sharing our weekly Disney projects. My last full post mentioned the Disney items, now I'll give some snip-its of the school work.

My son LOVES math and looks forward to his weekly math problems. My goal is to give him 4 math problems each week (with a different focus) and try to incorporate Disney characters into the problem. A couple letter "A" examples:

[The Astro Orbiter has 12 rockets on it. Each rocket can hold 2 people. How many people could fit on the ride at one time?]

[Arthur and Archimedes came to Disney World and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. While watching the animals, Arthur counted 4 zebras and 3 giraffes. Archimedes counted 2 ostriches and 7 deer. How many animals did Arthur count? How many animals did Archimedes count? How many animals did they find together?]

For Social Studies, we have a big U.S. map and a big World map that we got from Sam's Club. They take up a full wall in our kids' hallway. So, for each letter I'll pick a state and country or two for them to locate (with Mom's help) as applicable. So....Alaska or Afghanistan....
Sometimes, I'll think up a topic as well....for example for the letter "C" they saw pictures of Cinderella's castles, so it was a perfect week to read about castles and do some projects with building their own castles.
Another favorite of Joshua's is the Disney maps that I create using Excel.

He loves these! One of us will give him a coin (or pawn from a game) and tell him that his character wants to go to "this" ride and then to "this other" ride. We started using this to teach N,E,S,W directions and have worked up to teaching NE,NW,SE,SW directions as well. He's done a great job picking up directions while having fun along the way.

For English, we'll try to pick out some books with a topic that goes with the letter -- "Bear About Town" (a book about jobs) for the letter J.

Then, for science I'll pick one project each week for the kids to do...sometimes it fits in with the letter, sometimes it doesn't. :confused3

For the letter D, the kids were to talk about Day and Night...and using a Venn diagram, figure out things that could be seen at Night...during the Day...and at both times. a memento, Bridgette has been keeping a BIG folder of all their work (26 weeks times a lot of pages = BIG folder). Plus, she's preparing for each child a small scrapbook (one page front/back for each letter) that highlights pics of the ride, non-ride, and Disney friends for that letter. The goal is to be able to take these on the plane with us to look at and talk about on the way.

Next up, I'll share with WDW things and Disney characters Joshua and Samantha have learned about so far.....

3princesses+aprince 06-05-2009 02:36 PM

Hi, joining in on your pre trip report fun. I followed your link from the Homeschool thread!!!! We're planning on going back September 2010, so I can't wait to see what kind of weather and crowds you have. We just came back from our first trip to Disney, we stayed at All star movies from May 12-19 and we cannot wait to go back. We Loved it of course!!!!!!!!

crocko 06-05-2009 02:38 PM

Thanks for joining! I've been having fun following along with your current Disney Trip Report. Anthony and those 3 girls seem like a lot of fun :cool2:

my2disneyboys 06-05-2009 03:32 PM

Chicago Shannon directed me this way... I LOVE your idea with the letters. We do Disney Nights each week- we have posted lots of pictures of them on our previous pre-trip report but I would love to do this idea with the kids as well!! Right now, my 5 year old's favorite thing to do lately is print out pics from the computer and color them!

crocko 06-05-2009 03:39 PM


Originally Posted by my2disneyboys (Post 32147621)
Right now, my 5 year old's favorite thing to do lately is print out pics from the computer and color them!

LOL, Joshua loves to do that, too. We usually give him a limit of how many printouts per day, but then he gets over to Grandma's house (where there are no limits) and he goes printout crazy. He always brings home "books" from her house.

Glad to have you on board!

my2disneyboys 06-05-2009 04:10 PM


Originally Posted by crocko (Post 32147732)
LOL, Joshua loves to do that, too. We usually give him a limit of how many printouts per day, but then he gets over to Grandma's house (where there are no limits) and he goes printout crazy. He always brings home "books" from her house.

Glad to have you on board!

That is hysterical... same thing here! My son goes to Nannies on Tuesday's and every Tuesday he comes home with a whole bag of print outs... he makes her cut them all out after he colors them and then plays with them for hours... kind of like paper dolls when I was a kid!

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