First-Time! Fantastic Adventures on the Fly!
Welcome! Please come on in! :wave2:
Hello to anyone following/reading this thread! This is my first time doing a trip report and I hope that it goes along as a success. I have lurked the boards for several years now, reading all your trip reports and gleaning information and advice from your adventures. Now, it's time for me to return the favor!
Here's the whole crew at an amusement park, forgive the hot, sweaty faces... and the fact that my two girls were apparently not ready for the picture???--not Disney! :goodvibes
Background--I am a French teacher from the triangle area in North Carolina. My husband of 14 years and I have three kiddos....their names I have been forbidden to share (my hubby!) so I will call them by their nicknames: Monster (oldest daughter), Strawberry (middle daughter) and FatDaddy (son)!
Here is a much better pic of the kids...saturday morning crafting...
Had to add this pic....it describes my kids to a 'T'!
Several years ago, my hubby and I decided that we were going to change our outlook on how we were gifting our kids with material things instead of experiences and opportunities. With our changed decision, we ceased purchasing our kids expensive toys for Christmas and birthdays and started gifting them with new experiences! Now, that is not to say that they no longer celebrate their birthdays with small gifts (we still let them have a small bday party with friends and family, and believe me, that gives them more stuff than they could ever use!), it's just that we are investing in another way of celebrating them and the holiday of Christmas--we are celebrating by giving them our time.
So....our first time of doing this was a trip to WDW in June of 2011! And yes, I know, it is 2013:blush: I'm sorry! I need to put in the disclaimer that I am also a grad student at Duke University (Go Devils!!!) and that also takes up my life in ways you wouldn't believe....
And now the trip! Bear with me as I start the posting...I am trying to do this as best as I can. Hopefully you will enjoy my story as much as I have enjoyed all of yours....:flower3:
So...the way it worked is that we were newbies to the Disney scene. Had never visited, hadn't known anyone who had visited recently, and had not a clue as to how to start the planning. So what's a girl gonna do??? She's gonna go to the library and get a book!
I did my research and immediately became overwhelmed...sound familiar, anyone? :faint: The website itself was only a bit helpful, but with it's prices and lack of suitable accommodations for a family over five, I began to become discouraged. :worried: Doing some web surfing, guess what...I found the Dis! And then everything changed!
I won't bore you with the details...let's just say that I found out what we needed to do, and got all the plans ready....much of the fun of the vacation was the planning itself since I'm a type A! We were going to spend one week with family, one week in WDW and and third week back with family again. My mom came along to visit with family as well and to stay with family as we went off to Disney...was an exciting and eventful vacation!
So one early (early! as in one in the morning!!!) in June 2011, we packed up the van and started down Interstate 40/85.
Monster all bundled up, but excited! Strawberry in the back, looking on...she's excited too, but is still sleepy. The girls have bonnets on their heads--I had just had their hair braided and didn't want them to mess it up! They sleep like tornadoes...
Fatdaddy giving me a grin. My sweetie patootie!
My mom! Thanks to her, the kids went back to sleep. She read them a story. Whew! None of that--'are we there yet?' business, not this time!
We arrived in Georgia later that morning, around 10:00 am. We had stopped for breakfast somewhere (I forget, it's been 2 years!), and arrived in Cumming, Ga. After dropping off our bags, we went to do a bit of sight-seeing in a local mall.
This is our family friend with mom and our kiddos!
Me and the hubby...having a lunch at the local Chick-fil-A.
Daddy's girl, too!
The kiddies playing in the restaurant...guess we should take them out, maybe???
We had a great week visiting with our family--the kids got ROYALLY spoiled, but hey, it's vacation, isn't it? Hubby and I got a chance to have a break ourselves, now and then. After the week was over, it was time to plan for our trip for DISNEY!!! :woohoo:
We are on our way!!!
When I last posted, we were getting ready to start our first trip to WDW! Our kids were past excited, but I have to be honest--I think I was more excited than them! I'm still a kid at heart....:goodvibes
In the morning, around 9, we packed up the car and said our good-byes to those we were leaving behind. Monster is a little irritated by all the photos, but since I'm too excited, I don't mind. Fatdaddy is playing with his new Lightning McQueen hand held player! Mom is waving good-bye. I told the hubby I was driving...I can't sit still, and refuse to waste any time!!!! Excited!!!:hyper:
Hubby is fine with that--he drove all the way down last week, and is more than ready for me to take the wheel...he knows me. I would just bug him to drive faster! For the record, I didn't get any tickets!
And me! We had stopped for gas. A seven hour drive awaited us. No prob! I was ready to burn the road!
We made great time. I think everyone slept the whole way down. I didn't stop until we saw this sign....
Wake up!! We are in FLORIDA!!!
I needed to see if it was true...they give you fresh squeezed orange juice! And you know what? They do! Grapefruit, too.
So off we went after a brief nature break...was too anxious myself to do much else. The kids and I were pin-balling around in the place anyway. My husband did the right thing--he rounded us up and loaded us in the car. He took over the driving! After a while, we saw this sign...
And I start to hyperventilate....:hyper: But we weren't going to stay on site this time, we were actually going to be staying in two different locations...The first was this place! Which was quite nice.
How was the place? And why did we split our vacation into two locations? Will give my answers next up....
First night! First Impressions!
So...why were we splitting our week vacation into two different places? The reason is simple. We got two different deals!
Since you don't really know me, I will share this brief bio--I am a coupon queen! I am also one who shops for deals and opportunities to save money anyway I can. Long story short, we found two resorts that were offering a deal through Expedia (3 nights on one, 3 nights on the other!) and I purchased both, combining them to create our week-long vacation.
Now, I have to be honest--in retrospect, I spent too much time an energy shuffling between the places that we went to. Yes, I did save money, but I think in the long run it wasn't really worth it. We could have used the time spent shuffling around as time in the parks or just relaxing. :scratchin I won't do it again! Not this year, as we are returning in just about a month! :cool1:
Anyway. The first place was nice and it suited our needs. A kitchen and two bathrooms, two bedrooms and pull-out sofa. Since we weren't on site, we would need the kitchen and we wanted the extra leg room. This I also later found out was unnecessary--we spent most days in the parks!!! Oh well. Live and learn!
The main entrance/lobby.
Our room number--third floor!
Time for the unveiling...don't you just love the anticipation before you open the door? Or is that just me? :confused3
Well, unfortunately, I don't have pix of the condo...for some reason I wasn't interested in paying attention to the necessary pix...sigh. :furious: But I do have more pix later. Sorry folks...I was still learning at the time, and didn't understand how important this would be. :blush:
We dropped our stuff and hurried out. We had a mission to accomplish! I had planned for our first ADR, and we were going to go to the Garden Grove!
First Disney Experience!
So when I last left off, my family and I were on our way to arrive at our first ADR on Disney grounds. We had a dinner appointment for Goofy! My absolute favorite character, and I didn't want to be late for our very important date!
The kids kept getting distracted by all the new sights and sounds. Anytime we stay in a hotel or condo, they are all interested in finding out about their surroundings. On the way to the van, the girls got interested in a snail by the stairs...seriously? You wanna look at snails and we are in Orlando??? I let it pass..they are on vaca too, you know! Teachable moment...
We arrived in plenty of time for our ADR. I love this pic of my hubby leading the girls up the sidewalk to Boardwalk. Gonna have to stay here one day!
Love this chandelier. I began to see what people meant about Disney doing things above and beyond everywhere else...can I say WOW!?!
In the lobby, enjoying the views and atmosphere. I begin to calm a bit here. Feeling good! We are finally in the World!
The kiddies enjoying the bridge--they love the water! The sunset was amazing. We had timed it just right. pixiedust:
Random stranger took our pic...thanks random stranger! This was taken before we boarded our boat.
The view from the bridge.
Here comes our boat!
The pic the hubby took...he says he likes my smile in this one. :love:
I know where this is!!! We will be going there day 3.
Our destination is in sight!
Loading off. Walk up between the Dolphin and the Swan. Words do not do this place justice! I thought it was really beautiful.
We made it to our destination, The Garden Grove! More about that lovely place later....think I'll do more postings later as I can. :thumbsup2
Yea a fellow Tar Heel. I'm down the road a bit, 2 hours from you. Cute kidlets and DS has eyelashes to die for, but don't tell him that boys don't that kind of thing. Good deal on the up coming trip to the world. Will you be staying on property for that one? Where? Can't wait for more. Love the braids on the girls. Looks like it was going to be cool for them. Did you know teachers get a discount at Swan and Dolphin.
Love all the pics! :)
Now, let me be frank...I am a grown woman. I am 38 years old at the time of this trip. I act my age. But I saw Goofy!!!! :jumping1:
So onto the report...so we got into the Swan/Dolphin hotel, and let me just say that this place is awesome! I had stated before that this was a place that I had researched before, but didn't stay in because I was worried it would have rooms too small for our needs. Hah! What nonsense. As I have said before, LIVE AND LEARN! I will say this quite a bit....
We got seated quickly. This place was pretty empty at the time (around 7:00). Here's my hubs with his DD#1.
And me! Was waiting for our waiter who was absolutely cool.
This meal was going to be a buffet, and I was glad to get it because we were kinda starving at the time. And guess what? Yep, if you have been reading about me before, I had scored a coupon! It was actually a Restuarant.com coupon, giving us $25.00 off if we spent some arbitrary amount (don't remember how much). We went way past that amount, but the $25.00 off was certainly welcome!
As we were eating and hubs and I got the kids straight with their meals guess who WALKED IN???
I'm freaking out! OMG! I so love this guy! Had the funniest cartoons when I was little. Do you guys remember those??? "Tomorrow, We Diet" has got to be one of the funniest ever, and is even more relevant now that I truly understand what's going on!
The kids were almost as excited as we were...hehehe! Not sure what was going on with my son???? Blinked? :laughing:
Didn't take any food porn pix, but we were beginning to get tired, and the little ones were drooping into their plates. We decided to take the bunch home and rest up. Next day was super exciting...we would be going to the Kingdom!
Joining in for the ride! Your family is just beautiful :goodvibes
ah the split stay...yes, you can lose a full day if you aren't careful moving but the important thing is you are there!
Bright and early we (I!) awoke. We were going to go to the Magic Kingdom today, and I wanted to be early! ::yes::
As I bullied the family out of their beds, I brought out some surprises that I had for the girlies...I had some little items that I had purchased from the Dollar Store earlier last week.
Yes, I was happily thanked by my excited ladies who were going to be princesses for the day!
We stopped into the Fort Wilderness and visited a friend of mine who worked there...they were letting us park our car in the parking lot! :worship: As we were leaving to catch the bus, they gave us some buttons that identified us as first timers! The kids were glad to get such fun paraphernalia...it was already magical for us. Each kid had been given a camera. I wanted to see the sights as they saw them! Let's just say it was a good idea at first, but after a while I ended up carrying them. Oh well...Live and learn!
We caught the bus! Already it was HOT and SWEATY degrees outside! Please excuse our sweaty faces...the bus was nice and cool though.
Fort Wilderness is gorgeous! We might have to stay in one of the cabins one day! My friend let us see an unoccupied one, and I have to say that it's a deal for a larger family. Perhaps in the future!
So we made it to the dock, and waited for our boat. By this time I'm getting anxious because I had wanted to make it to rope drop. It's ten to 9, so it's not happening. :worried: Oh well. I am not unhappy long. I am at the World!
Here comes the boat! And you know what? You guys are right. I learned throughout my time using the Disney transportation system that although it is convenient, it is slow. I should have declined my friend's offer maybe???
The ride was quiet and peaceful. Loved the spanish moss--it reminded me of my father's home in Louisiana. Louisiana creoles!
The monorail! We must be getting close!
Neat resort...not sure what it is. Anyone?
Oh WOW! We are here!!!
So we missed the rope drop, but it's not too late to start the day rather early. In the next trip, I am gonna try harder to gauge the arrival time a bit better!
We enter in. The kids are asking all kinds of questions about the place and are recognizing character pictures and statues! I'm glad that they recognize the pictures...they are wide eyed as they take it all in!
My hubby leads the way. For late June, it's not as crowded as I thought it would be....but ohhh, boy, was it ever later on!
The man with the plan!
We got into line for Dumbo--this was primarily because I had heard this was a long wait if you didn't do it first thing. Let me just say that it was a long wait in the sun regardless! The kids liked it, but were more interested in the sight of Pinocchio nearby!
Hmmmm. Looks like some fussing is about to happen...I think they worked out who was going to control the lift!
After that ride, we went off to Peter Pan! Not as bad a wait, or maybe it was because we were in the shade! :confused3
This is the picture Monster took--she didn't understand what I was trying to tell her about focusing, but I think she did a good enough job for an 8 year old!
What to do next? Why, let's go see those evil sisters! Boy, they were great! They stayed in character when Strawberry asked them questions about why they were mean to Cinderella--she told them that they were not nice and they can't make friends if they are mean! :rotfl: She was totally convinced that these were the real deal! Again, she is 6 yrs old. I love that they buy into the fun so completely!
It's a Small World was nearby, so we decided to give it a try. Song is still in my head! Still!
Gotta stop here because I have too many pix...will continue later!
That's the Grand Floridian in your pictures, it is gorgeous. The cabins are great for a family your size while the kids are smaller. We stayed there as a family of 6 and well...lets just say 4 of us were a bit too big for the double beds :rotfl: but we loved loved loved them despite that.
Very fun to read a "first time" report.
The Floridian? Wow...really nice! When I grow up, maybe I will try that with the hubby. He and I are long overdue for an adult trip.:love:
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