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Old 12-29-2009, 03:29 PM   #1
exwdwcm
wishes she was Wendy Moira Angela Darling
 
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Holiday Dreams Do Come True with Pooh-Pooh Too! Family of 14 at WL (COMPLETED 3/23)

You can visit our PTR here:
PRE TRIP REPORT

So after almost 2 years of planning, the time had finally come for us texans to take our magical journey. Our magical holiday hoorah was here! Would the actual trip live up to all the planning and anticipation? Would it really be as good as we hyped it up to be in our pretty little heads? Let’s find out!




TABLE OF CONTENTSWHEN: Thursday, December 10th through Sunday, December 20th
WHERE: Wilderness Lodge
WHO: party of 14!

Here is a quick recap of our CAST OF CHARACTERs in case you don't want to refer to the PTR:

Mama (my Mom)- my mother and known as Mama to the grandkids. I'll just say late 50s, Super great, considerate, most giving person I know. She is retired and had a brain tumor (benign) removed for the second time this year. It ended up ruining her vision- she has no peripheral vision and very poor vision in both eyes in general. She can no longer drive due to it. She successfully raised the three of us while working full time and hey, we turned out pretty good, so I say she did a fantastic job! She has been looking forward to this trip for a long time and her and my dad are treating us all on this trip. THANK YOU!!!!

Papa (my Dad)- my dad and known as Papa to the grandkids. Again, I'll say late 50s- he is the quiet one, goes with the flow and so super sweet. He still works but plans to retire in a few years probably.

Auntie- my great aunt (my mom's aunt). She just got married a few weeks before this trip. She is retired as well and extremely excited about starting her new life with her new hubby! all the grandkids call her Auntie!

Nancy- my mom's cousin and like a second mom to us. She is single and loving it! She grew up with my mom and they are pretty much BFs. She works for a local school district and is in a 'boot' up to her knee for a torn tendon in her foot on this trip. Nancy is also a breast cancer survivor!

Chase- this is Nancy's nephew and he lives in South Carolina near Clemson. He is 18 and Nancy adores him and invited him along to enjoy some time with us! Chase has a great thick accent we like to tease him about and is addicted to texting on his phone on this trip! Teenagers. LOL

Wowo- this is my sister- the 'middle child'. Wowo is early 30s and has two children, 6 and 3. My son calls her Wowo. She is the one that makes us all laugh and it simply isn't a party without her around. She is a paralegal. The good times always roll with Wowo around! She is a big disney nut and turned me onto the podcast on the DIS!

Mike- Wowo's hubby, my brother in law. They are high school sweethearts, so he is truly a part of our family. He works full time and goes to school as well and just finished his associates. He is quite the class clown and always teasing and joking around.

Princess- this is Wowo and Mike's 6yo daughter- the first grandchild in our family and quite the spoiled princess! She loves pink, dancing, dressing up and drama! This is her second trip to WDW- she went at 2.5 as well.

Mikey- this is Wowo and MIke's 3yo son- quite the boy - loves cars, transformers, dinosaurs etc. He is very excited about seeing Mickey Mouse!

Nene- my baby sister- the youngest! she is a special ed teacher and has been married for a year. She is the fashionista and decorator!

Jeff- Nene's hubby and new to the family and on his first family WDW adventure!

Me- Michelle- 36 and mom to Pooh (2yo). Married almost 9 years to Alan and work in marketing. former college programmer at WDW (Hollywood STudios in 1996- HUGE disney nut! Type A, perfectionist and organize and overall trip planner.

Alan- my hubby- works in real estate, late 30s and not a huge disney nut. Great dad and the more serious type that doesn't like drama!

Pooh- my little boy- he turned 2 at halloween. He is all boy and just learning to really find his voice and words. He loves Muamau (mickey mouse) and his favorite is of course- Pooh bear- who he refers to as "pooh pooh". oh and my son is for some strange reason, obsessed with trash. Yes trash cans. he wants to throw everyone's trash away and find trash cans everywhere.

Thursday, December 10th – Day ONE
Well I say day one, but I don’t even really count this day, since we arrived so late. It had been a turbulent few months for all of us going on the trip, but we had a few specific ‘ooops’ pop up right before.

First, I was in the middle of quitting my old job and starting a new one post trip.
Second, my dad had just been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.
Third, my cousin Nancy thought she broke her foot, but turned out to be a tendon tear and was in a boot up to her knee!
Fourth, my little guy got sick with a bad cold right before the trip

So it was a little chaotic. Mom’s vision was still not improving so that was a concern too.

But we managed. The day before the trip, I officially signed my new job offer letter and took a drug test for the new job. Talk about last minute! My old job knew I was looking and potentially leaving them either right before or after my WDW trip. So on that Wednesday I made it official. I would return for 2 days after the trip, during Christmas week to transition projects to others and say my good byes before starting a new job on 12/28!

Most of us had been putting stuff aside or packing for almost a month now. Mom gave us all a large storage container earlier this year to put our ‘disney crap’ in! Including items like the highly popular dollar store ponchos, luggage tags, space bags etc. My Disney ‘crap’ bin was overflowing. So on Thursday, 12/10, I was off work. I took Pooh to day care that day for a few hours. Alan had to work. I had a hair appt and was worried it would take too long, but she managed to get me in and out in about 2 hours with new highlights, cut and blow dry. Of course my pocketbook wasn’t as happy. After that, I had to drop out other ‘children’, the two boston terriers at the kennel.

This was the dog’s first time EVER staying in a kennel, so we splurged a little. We got them a ‘suite’ at a highly recommended kennel in the Dallas area. They had a 10x4 room with a floor to ceiling window. I figured this way at least they had some room and it felt more open with the window, plus the fresh sunlight. My pups love laying in the sun. My two pups- Sassy and Tinkerbell (wonder where that name came from? Lol) would be sharing their temporary quarters with my sister’s dog, Sadie. Who also, had never been boarded. My dogs are 10yo and hers is a bit older, so it was a change for them to be boarded, but I felt comfortable with the place. So I dropped them off, got a few wet kisses and said good bye for 10 days! It was not cheap though- $70 a day for all 3, but that included the food, treats, walks, love sessions etc.

Then it was time to pick up Pooh from day care. He was very excited to be woken from his nap. Talk about bad timing on my part. We rushed home and got him all dressed and all the bags by the front door. Our town car service picked us up at 1:15pm. This was our first time using a car service (outside of business travel) and I highly recommend it. After our huge debacle earlier this summer, missing our flight to Vegas for my BF’s wedding, well I wasn’t risking it. We were late for that flight because we had to park off site and the shuttle took forever and much longer than we thought. This time, I wanted to be dropped off at the curb and just go. No parking, no worrying or rushing. Not to mention we had a ton of bags, it was like we were moving or something.

So the driver arrived a little early and we loaded up the car…….barely. Barely fit it all! Keep in mind we had a car seat, stroller, 3 checked bags, a backpack for me, backpack for Pooh with his toys, carry on for Alan and another carry on small roller bag. Ouch! My back hurts. We were loaded and already on our way by 1:15. We stopped at Alan’s work to pick him up, but were a bit too early for his liking. So we had to wait in the car for about 10 minutes for him, which didn’t sit well with Pooh. 2 year olds are not big fans of being patient, when strapped to a car seat in a car that isn’t moving.


Finally, Alan arrives and gets in the front seat (no room in the back with the car seat) and we are off. We were dropped curb side to check our bags at the curb with American Airlines. The AA guys were so sweet and playing with Pooh while we unloaded the ‘moving truck’. We left them a little tip and headed off with our carry ons to security. We luckily booked our tickets with AA back in May of 09, before they upped the checked bag fee in August, so we paid $15 per checked bag- so $45 total. Still a good chunk of change. Our flights ran about $350 each for a direct flight.

DFW is a huge hub of course and always packed with business travelers, especially this time of day. So the security line was not long, but it probably got longer after us. It took forever to get through with all our ‘crap’! Trying to juggle getting the laptop out, shoes off, stroller folded and prevent Pooh from running off was nothing less than a miracle! I felt bad for the folks behind us. We finally made it through security without losing anything or anyone. We re-dressed- jackets back on, shoes back on, jewelry, watches, belts. Finally, off to our gate. We found our gate, dumped our ‘crap’ and got out some toys to entertain Pooh. None of the rest of the family had arrived at the gate yet.

Pooh waiting at the gate!
My sister, her DH and two kiddos were down at another gate where there was a playground. Mom and the rest of the gang were still on the way. I had gotten them a towncar too- well a SUV to drop them off. Entertaining Pooh at the gate was no easy task, he tried to escape a few times. Our flight was at 4:50pm and at about 4:15pm, they announced our gate had changed……to a different terminal. Everyone had arrived by now, with the exception of Nene and Jeff. Jeff was already in Orlando for business a few days earlier and Nene would come in the next day. She was missing her last week of school to take off for WDW, so she had to work that Friday. She already felt awful leaving her kids that last week. She teaches special ed so she has a special bond with her kiddos.

So we are all there and have to load up all the crap again and take the little train to the other terminal. That is one thing I hate about DFW- so many terminals and AA flies out of like 3 of them. Talk about confusing and a hassle.

So we get to the new gate finally and only have a short wait. Unfortunately it is really crowded – we are in the new International terminal and people are just everywhere- wall to wall people and hard to find seats together even. I get Pooh a quick snack, since we won’t arrive in Orlando until late. Finally they start boarding- we all get on first – since we have the car seats to install and Nancy has her bum foot. So we get on and struggle with the crappy car seat. I brought an old one that we don’t use in the car much, since it was lighterweight. But it was a pain. We finally get Pooh all buckled in and before we know it, we are off in the skies to Orlando! Pooh slept almost the entire flight, even the landing. This was his second time on a plane, he flew also at 4 months old. This time he was just over 2. Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about him kicking the seat since he slept. My brother in law sat up in first class and treated my 6yo niece to her first time first class experience!
Mama and Papa on the plane!
The flight was uneventful and about 2 hours later, we arrived at MCO. They recently renovated the gate/terminal we come into, so that was nice. We once again struggled with the car seat, but finally managed. Once we got off, I went to wait for the stroller, but they had issues with the ‘elevator’ thing that lifts them up to the brideway. So we waited forever- a good 15 minutes or so. Everyone else headed to baggage claim while I waited. By the time I got caught up, our bags had arrived. We did get a porter to load them all up on a cart for us. Unfortunately, my parents bag had been damaged and the zipper busted, so their bag arrived completely open. Nice.

We headed to the rental car garage where we had rented 3 vehicles through National using Emerald Aisle service- I use them for business a lot as does my BIL. So we headed over and picked out the cars we wanted, got in and drove to the exit to check out. I love Emerald Aisle, no waiting at the desk or long lines…….so I THOUGHT. Our flight arrived about 8:15pm and it was now nearing on 9pm or so. We follow the signs to the exit area where the little parking booth is- this is where we ‘check out’ and simply provide our license and the car tag. It usually only takes a minute, since everything is already paid for and registered online previously. There are two cars in front of us and only one gate functioning. There are two representatives working it though- looks like one might be training the other. We wait and wait and wait. For over 20 minutes. Finally, our turn. We had booked all the cars on my parents credit card, but in our individual names of course, since different folks were driving each car. Well that really threw this guy out of whack and he said we couldn’t do that. That we had to use a credit card in the name of whoever was renting. Which is BS. So that threw him for a loop and we spent a solid 10 minutes at the gate and by this time, the line of cars behind us was at least 15 deep and folks are honking impatiently. It was quite a scene. Now it is almost 9:45pm. I can’t figure out why they didn’t have more staffing??? This was my only bad experience with National ever. My parents were in an SUV behind us and it took them forever too- then my sister and her family were next, in an SUV as well.


What’s the story with the multiple cars? Well we had considered renting one large 15 person van, but it was so pricey, it was cheaper for us to rent 4 individual cars than it was to rent that one big van. This way we had more flexibility to split up as needed too. It worked out great for us in the end.

So we finally all get through the National chaos and head out of the airport……behind some slow moving tourist that is completely lost and driving 5mph. get out of the way, we are heading to Disney!! We stop for a quick soda at a gas station on the way. I always take the 528 toll to I-4, it is just the way I always go. We finally see I-4 and know we are close. The drive was only 20 minutes or so. My sis and her family split off to stop at Wal-mart for diapers. The rest of us proceed to our home for the next 10 nights……the Wilderness Lodge!!!!!

We drive through the downtown Disney area and then see the gates for the Magic Kingdom! as we are nearing the Old Key West area and about to turn right- we see fireworks! they are almost right on top of us- it was Illuminations from Epcot, since were right near the backstage area of the World Showcase. It was so neat to see them in all their glory as we drove in. I told everyone I had planned that especially for them!! No pics though- didn't want to crash while trying to drive and take a pic!

So- We are here! We veer off to the right to follow our way to the lodge. I loved seeing that big old sign to greet us. We check in with the guard and head in. Nancy is riding with us and has a temporary handicap tag for her foot. My mom also has a handicap for her vision issues. So we both pull up and find out they will valet us for free for handicap! Nice! This is great for my parents- dad with his foot problems and mom too. We only used the handicap tag in our car IF Nancy was with us. Otherwise, we took it down and did self parking. Nancy ended up doing her own thing a lot throughout the trip, so we didn’t use the handicap that often at the hotel or the parks. The handicap parking area was always full too in the parking lot. I guess that is why they offer valet for it. We never had a problem with the self parking. It was pretty convenient. My only gripe is that there isn’t a clear cut, direct path for the wheelchairs or strollers. You have to walk all the way around the side basically instead of going directly into the middle of the front of the lodge.

So we were welcomed to our home away from home and they took our bags for us. We walk in and are greeted with this magnificent tree! It really takes your breath away!

We headed to the check in desk and there was barely a line- only one person in front of us. I had done the online check in already for my parents and Nancy, but for some reason it kept crashing on me when I tried to do it for the rest of us. So we all got checked in. We had 5 rooms- one for my mom, dad and Auntie. One for Nancy and Chase. One for my family – Alan and Pooh and I. One for Nene and Jeff and finally one for Wowo and her family. We had paid for water views as well.

So I was hoping for a nice view of the main pool. No such luck. IF we wanted to be near each other at all, they couldn’t give us that view. My mom preferred that we were near each other over that view, so that is what we did. We ended up with a view of the Villas Pool which was nice too. We were all on the 4th floor, but way down near the end of the hall. We had to walk forever!!! NOT good with mom and Nancy. I had requested we be closer to the Roaring forks or elevators, but no such luck. Oh well.

So we finally reach our room- my parents are in 4050, Wowo is in 4052 and we are in 4054. So the three of us are in a row- and my room connects with Wowo’s. Nancy was like in 4042- so just a further bit down. Nene and Jeff would not check in until tomorrow. We get situated in our rooms and I notice it is not as ‘new’ as I expected. The room actually seemed a bit run down to me. It just didn’t meet my expectation. Again, maybe a case of expecting too much? It just seemed there were scratches on the wall/paint and things like that. Then one of us went to use the toilet and it wouldn’t flush. We had to call the front desk and they ended up having to come replace the toilet the next day- a tubing inside was messed up and they ended up just replacing almost the whole back end of it. That was a pain too to deal with. So I was already being a bit let down.

So it is now about 10:30 and we are starving! We head down to Roaring forks since they close at 11 for the hot food. I have a buffalo chicken flatbread pizza with bleu cheese that was so yummy! Alan has a grilled chicken sandwich and we get a burger for Pooh. I order all the food and Alan and Dad stay upstairs to wait on our bags to be delivered as well as our garden grocer order. As us girls are heading downstairs, we see them bringing up two huge carts with all our stuff. LOL! We all enjoy our late night meal, but are pretty exhausted. I think a few of us forgot to use our dining credits for this one- I guess that takes a little getting used too. We all had key to the world cards with free dining for the entire 10 days.
late night dinner - Nancy and Pooh
So after dinner, it is back upstairs to the rooms and I unpack while Alan gets Pooh ready for bed. I am the type A perfectionist and I simply can’t rest until the room is in order and all unpacked! I get all our garden grocer stuff, which includes some diapers, water, juice, cereal etc. I had also shipped a large box with some Christmas decorations to our room too. But I was too tired to mess with it. So by about midnight we are all tucked in our new bed and ready to dream about 9 days meeting the mouse! We had requested bed rails for Pooh, but they still didn’t deliver until after he was asleep, so we ended up not using them the entire trip. We put pillows on the side of him and he did fine sleeping in the bed by himself. He is still in a crib at home since he hasn’t tried to climb out yet. He did fine on the big boy bed the whole trip.

So day one (not really day one) ends with a late night and all of us with visions of Disney stuck in our heads! Tomorrow will be a busy and early morning for us all. Hopefully we recover and rest enough. It is going to be a long 9 days and 10 nights!

So we survived day one!!!!




Santa’s Nice List
  • Valet for handicap at WL
  • Town car to airport- so nice to splurge
  • Pooh slept on plane- easy peasy!
  • Yummy flatbread pizza at Roaring forks
  • Nice pool view
  • We are at DISNEY FINALLY!!!!!!





[b]Santa’s Naughty List
  • Last minute gate change with AA
  • Too much CRAP to carry!
  • LONG LONG line at National
  • Saying bye bye to doggies
  • Broken toilet and worn down room
  • Long walk to room
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



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84, 86-FTW, 93-FTW, 97, 98-OFFSITE, 00-POR, 03, 04, 05-GAYLORD, 04-POFQ, 05-POR, 06-CBR, 07-AKL, May 09-DIS Podcast Cruise, DEC 09-DAP/WL, Sept 10-DL, DEC 10 BLT, FEB 10 JOINED DVC! AUG 11 DLH, OCT 11 BLT, NOV 2012 BLT

Last edited by exwdwcm; 03-23-2010 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:48 PM   #2
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Hi Michelle - great start! I feel like I am there with you!

Isn't it amazing how different airport security is traveling alone for business vs with your family? It's really exhausting with a toddler!

You are so lucky Will slept for most of the flight! That makes it sooo much easier!

Can't wait to hear the rest!
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:34 PM   #3
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i'm here...i'll come back and read later!
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:54 PM   #4
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Agree I am here too!!
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Old 12-30-2009, 03:42 PM   #5
exwdwcm
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11TH- DAY 2

So after a short night of rest that was greatly needed, it was time to get going again! Morning came way too soon. Pooh usually wakes up by 7:15am most mornings, so we are up anyhow. This made it easy for us to get to the parks early most mornings- it isn’t like we were going to get to sleep in anyway.

So today’s plan was to hit the MK in the am and tackle most of Fantasyland- basically do all the things we knew Pooh would love. Then a break at DTD for lunch at Earle and shopping, followed by a break in the room and dinner at Chef Mickey’s.

So we were up and at ‘em by 7:15am or so. Alan can go to bed late and wake up early no problem. Me, not so much. I like my sleep. A lot. I am not a morning person, but hey we are in Disney, so things change. It was nice having the different rental cars for each family, because some of the family was doing breakfast at Ohana today. So Alan, Pooh and I headed to the MK in the car and my parents came along as well. We would have taken the boat from WL which is the quickest and most convenient way, but I knew we would be heading to DTD after MK, so we just drove. It was a pain having to loop back around the MK parking lot. We finally got parked, got on the tram and were soon in line for the monorail at the TTC. Talk about a process---car, tram, monorail and finally MK!!



An interesting note- see the blow up snow men on top of the MK sign? they only put those out on the MVMCP days, they were gone the next day and then back up. what a lot of work! I thought that was neat. I would have just left them the entire time though if it were me!


When we were walking up, we saw the opening show and had just missed it. Wowo and her family had done breakfast at Ohana and made it over in time to see the show.

So we entered the MK- headed through security and stepped over the mickey confetti on the ground. The magic hit! It was just a few minutes after 9am. MK opened officially at 9am. The entrance was beautiful, poinsettias galore and decked out in all the Christmas cheer. It was a little chilly this am, so we had on our hoodies/jackets. We headed into the MK and just took in the view- the beautiful tree and the magic of Main Street.


I had promised myself I would take it a little slower this trip and not go totally commando crazy, which is my habit------run with the masses to Space first thing etc. This time, I knew with Pooh we would have to slow down, for my parents too. It was nice, not feeling the ‘need’ to rush down Main St. We took our time and Pooh saw so many trash cans- he was in heaven and then the horse ‘trash can’ for none other than ‘pooh’, and I am not talking Pooh bear! We even saw the main street singers and the trolley and stopped to enjoy them for a bit and join in on a little ‘ding ding ding goes the bell!’. Pooh enjoyed that.



Then we made our way to Fantasyland. Usually I would head to get a FP first for Space or Splash, but we didn’t, we just took our time. First stop was Dumbo. We saw Wowo and her family already in line ahead of us. It was about 9:30am by now. The line was not too bad, posted at 20 minutes, but it took only about 15 or less. Pooh could not wait to get on. The three of us enjoyed our spin on dumbo and Pooh enjoyed making it go up and down. Papa got some great pics of us on Dumbo, so I’ll have to get those from him.

We then tackled the rest of Fantasyland with all of the family. We met up with mama/papa, Nancy/chase, auntie and Wowo’s family. We then quickly were able to do Pooh, Snow White, and Carousel in quick order. The waits were all under 10 minutes for each or less.

We spent some time in the Pooh store, of course Pooh decided he wanted to check out the stuffed animals and of course he wanted another Pooh bear. So he got it. He had already brought his Pooh Bear from home (he sleeps with it every night), so this was now his second Pooh bear! By then we started to split up for bathroom breaks etc. I had to change Pooh’s diaper and I thought everyone was in Philharmagic when we got out, so the three of us got in line and waited only a few minutes. Pooh thought it would be funny to drop his new pooh bear over the railing where we couldn’t reach it. Some nice kid jumped over and retrieved it for us. We got in Philharmagic and Pooh enjoyed it- he loves bubbles and water, so he had fun.


We realized we had lost part of the group on PhilHarmagic- we had caught up with my parents though who now had my niece- Princess Ally with them. Wowo and the rest had taken Mikey to the bathroom. So we headed to Small World while they were off doing that. Princess really enjoyed Small World! She is all girl and loves dolls. Pooh was enthralled too. Alan refused to ride. Yes, I said it, he refused to ride Small World. He sat outside and got some coffee instead. He said he couldn’t take the torture. I think by now it was nearing noon and folks were getting hungry.

We had accomplished a lot this morning- almost all of fanstasyland- with the exception of the tea cups and Peter Pan. Plus we had taken our time and not rushed. We didn’t wait in a line more than 5-15 minutes max. So we decided it was time to call our morning at MK a success and move on to DTD. So we headed back out slowly to the TTC and the car. We drove over to DTD Marketplace side but parking was tough as usual. I knew it would be. It was a Friday at lunchtime. I wish they would build a parking garage here or something. It is always a nightmare to park. We did have Nancy and Chase with us, so we could park in handicap, but none were available. So I dropped them off, so it was easier on her and finally found a spot a bit aways.

SANTA'S NICE LIST
*taking our time at MK
*short lines!
*seeing Pooh's face as he walked down main st and rode dumbo
*watching Pooh ride Pooh



SANTA'S NAUGHTY LIST
*long way around to reach MK
*Alan wouldn't ride Small World- come on now! It's not that bad, or is it?
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



WDW College Program-Fall 96
,
84, 86-FTW, 93-FTW, 97, 98-OFFSITE, 00-POR, 03, 04, 05-GAYLORD, 04-POFQ, 05-POR, 06-CBR, 07-AKL, May 09-DIS Podcast Cruise, DEC 09-DAP/WL, Sept 10-DL, DEC 10 BLT, FEB 10 JOINED DVC! AUG 11 DLH, OCT 11 BLT, NOV 2012 BLT

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Old 12-30-2009, 03:57 PM   #6
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11TH- DAY 2 CONTINUED

So you may notice Pooh isn't smiling in the pics a lot. Well I think he was completely overwhelmed and overstimulated. He is afterall only 2 years and 2 months old. But he was having a blast, we just couldn't capture his smile on camera easily!


We headed straight to Earle to grab a bite! We all love Earle of Sandwich and always eat there at least once or twice per trip. I even make an effort to get over there to eat when I travel to Orlando on business. I love their tomato soup. So for now it was just Nancy, Chase, Mama, Papa, Auntie and us. Nene and Jeff were not here yet and Wowo and her family stayed at MK a bit later than us and would meet up later. Again- loving the flexibility of the separate cars!

So a few of us got in line while others tried to find a table- another nightmare at DTD. I hate how Earle is laid out. I really think they could do a much better job with how it is done. The crowds end up building in the indoor seating area, since that is where you pick up your food then there is a ton of wasted space over to the other side near to the Pantry shop. It just seems they could use that empty space to re-organize Earle a bit or at least add more seating? But I am not in charge, so I digress. I am sure Disney is aware of the issue there. Everytime I go in Earle, there is a huge line, but it always moves quickly. We found a booth inside and Nancy/Chase found a table for two nearby. We all enjoyed our meals. Using the dining plan, we got the sandwich, drink and dessert (or side). I had the ham and swiss and I forget what DH had- something with ham too. I had the tomato soup as well. We got the jello and fruit and yogurt sides for Pooh and he ate bites of our sandwiches too. He loves yogurt and ate it all up. All of us declared the food delicious, especially the tomato soup. I could only eat half of my sandwich and was stuffed.



This would begin the first day of EATING our way through Disney 2009. Seriously, it is a LOT of food on the dining plan. I remember when Alan and I did free dining in 2006 and then it included an appetizer for each person too. Even though they took the appetizer away, it is still a lot. I simply can’t eat it all.

So after a great meal, we start shopping. First up was the pantry store next door. I found a few dish towels, cutting board and a few other things- including a cup for Pooh. We had it all sent back to the room. Next was the Christmas store. By then Mama was pretty tired. But we managed to get around and shop. I found a number of ornaments- including a tink one, a 2009 mirrored one, a gold mickey bell one and more. I got a set of holiday cup towels, a door hanger and some rice krispy holiday treats. Mama kindly bought me the light up holiday village Castle! It is gorgeous! They also had the haunted mansion and other village buildings. I have a few Disney village items at home that I found at Target years ago- including a snow white house, Cinderella castle (not like this one) and a Pooh’s treehouse. So this will fit in nicely. Mama got herself one too plus a bunch of ornaments. We had it all shipped back to my mom’s house back home, since most was breakable. Since it was still early enough (12/11), we were able to send it ground.

Next was the old scrapbook/art store which now also houses the new Hanes t-shirt store. We skipped that part, but looked through and found the scrapbook materials to be VERY lacking. I was quite disappointed. I no longer do scrapbooking except for my Disney trips. Now I do the rest online. So the only time I buy scrap stuff is for Disney trips. Not much there. We did get a few things though. We also checked out the Art of Disney store and enjoyed checking out all the nice stuff. By now, Alan and Papa were done with shopping- neither are ‘shoppers’, so they were sitting outside on the bench with Pooh waiting for us. While shopping, we got a call from Wowo that they were now in DTD. We also decided to go ahead and get Pooh his first Mickey ears. I went ahead and ordered them there and they said they would be ready in 15-20 minutes. So Mama and Papa were tired out and Nancy and Chase as well- her foot was swelling quite a bit in that boot by now. So they all headed out. Nancy rode with Mama/Papa. We had to wait on the mouse ears to be done, so we walked around a bit more and checked out the Pooh store. I found a really cute sweat suit for Pooh that is embroidered with WDW. We also did a quick scope out of the Once Upon a Toy Store and saw the light saber and potato head stations we would come back to later in the week. We didn’t buy anything here right away.

I also wanted to check out the new Trend-D store. Very cute stuff. I had my eye out for the white Dooney and Burke Disney purse. No luck here, but they had the black one. Saw some cute stuff in here, but again, didn’t buy.


By then we headed back to the shop to pick up Pooh’s mouse ears. He was melting down by now and it was after 3:30pm now.

MELTDOWN TIME!!!!! Where is my nap and who put these tight silly ears on my head???


We stopped on our way out and checked out the lego dogs. Pooh thought they were funny!



We found the car and headed back to the lodge. It was so nice walking into that huge decorated lobby each day. I think I have decided I like the AKL better though. I really thought I would prefer the WL, but in the end, I like the theming of AKL better for some reason. Alan and I stayed there for 4 nights or so in 2007 when I was in Orlando on business- and yes, the AKL was on the list of approved hotels for the show I was at! We loved AKL. WL is just as great though and by week’s end, it was a pretty close second.

So it was now time for a little rest and nap. Poor Pooh crashed out pretty quickly. Alan and I rested a bit too. I think he went down to check out the gym too. He is a work out freak and planned to work out while we were there, especially with all the crazy eating we would be doing.


So during our break, I unpacked the Christmas decorations and we got the 4ft tree all decorated that we had shipped for my parents. They were surprised to see it and happy to have some holiday magic in their room. I also added some lights on our balcony and had a mini tree for our room. Alan thought it was silly, but I thought it was fun! I noticed other balconies later in the week with lights and other decorations.

Here is the view from our room


SANTA'S NICE LIST:
*Food at Earle!
*Shopping, shopping, shopping!
*Tomato soup!
*cute sweat suit for Pooh- good deal on it too
*nice weather- just a chill in the air
*Pooh's first Mickey ears!
*Finally got to look in Trend-D

SANTA'S NAUGHTY LIST:
*horrible parking at DTD
*crowded Christmas store and crowded Earle
*no seating at Earle
*didn't get to look in all the shops I wanted- too tired!
*no D&B purse or hoodie!
*Pooh's meltdown!

MEAL REVIEW- Earle of Sandwich at DTD Marketplace- YUMMY! Our favorite. Great food, and affordable. HOrrible system and seating though. We give it 4.5 out of 5 mickey heads!
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



WDW College Program-Fall 96
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:48 PM   #7
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so I would be remiss if I didn't mention another part to our first full day- the arrival of the rest of the family. You thought I forgot them, didn't you? Well, i did!

Chase actually was coming in from Atlanta on Delta, arriving about 2pm or so. He was just going to use Magical Express since the rest of us were going to be busy at downtown disney. This ended up working just fine for him, although I think it took forever to get his bags. None of us had ever used ME before, but I had heard about the bag challenge before. Nancy was very excited to see her nephew and almost forgot about his arrival time- we were so busy shopping and having a great time. Auntie happened to mention it and so Nancy called right away and we ended up meeting up with Chase back at the hotel later during our break.

My sister, Nene also was arriving this evening. Due to being a teacher, she wanted to work that Friday and come after work. She already felt bad taking a week off. Originally, her hubby was going to come down with her Friday night, but plans changed and he ended up coming down a day early for business actually. So poor Nene was arriving all by her lonesome on Friday night. Her flight was supposed to get in at 10;30pm. Jeff had a rental car for work that he was going to return and then exchange for another car (prior booked by us on a separate reservation-under Nene's name). So he was going to meet her at the airport at least and drive with her to the lodge. They ended up not getting to the room until almost 1am if I remember right! They were not happy with their initial room- it had 2 queens and they really wanted a king. So the next day, they ended up switching.

So now the entire family is here and in tact. Yeah!!!
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by wdwgirl03 View Post
Great report so far! Christmas is such an awesome time to visit. And the WL is an amazing resort! We stayed there for the first time over the summer and loved it.
Yes, loved the WL, so gorgeous at Christmas- I will have a lot more pics of it shortly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollito916 View Post
Sounds like a good first day! Do you have a picture of the castle your mom bought for you? Would love to see it!

Alex is the same way at restaurants too. When we go back to WDW, I will definitely schedule fewer sit down meals and I don't think I would do the dining plan with him again unless it is free. Just too much time spent in restaurants trying to keep him calm and enjoy my meal, which isn't very enjoyable sometimes that way.
I do have a pic of the castle, I will have to upload to shutterfly tongiht though. i think it was like $85 for it. i love it- the led lights in it shine up like they do on the castle!

Yes, next time will be fewer sit down meals- especially if we aren't on the dining plan (which hopefully we will buy DVC and not be!!). I guess the free dining made us feel like we HAD to eat those meals.

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Originally Posted by praisehisname View Post
I'm joining in!
Thanks for joining Denise- welcome!!
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



WDW College Program-Fall 96
,
84, 86-FTW, 93-FTW, 97, 98-OFFSITE, 00-POR, 03, 04, 05-GAYLORD, 04-POFQ, 05-POR, 06-CBR, 07-AKL, May 09-DIS Podcast Cruise, DEC 09-DAP/WL, Sept 10-DL, DEC 10 BLT, FEB 10 JOINED DVC! AUG 11 DLH, OCT 11 BLT, NOV 2012 BLT
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:18 PM   #9
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Hi Michelle!! I just found your TR and I'm excited to read it as we are planning a trip to WDW in December!! I cannot wait to go when the parks/resorts are decorated for Christmas!! How were the crowds while you were there? Would you recommend going the week you were there? Why or why not? I can't WAIT to read more!! (Oh--and BTW--my youngest DD is the same age as Pooh--she turned 2 on October 10th)
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ladybugmom View Post
Hi Michelle!! I just found your TR and I'm excited to read it as we are planning a trip to WDW in December!! I cannot wait to go when the parks/resorts are decorated for Christmas!! How were the crowds while you were there? Would you recommend going the week you were there? Why or why not? I can't WAIT to read more!! (Oh--and BTW--my youngest DD is the same age as Pooh--she turned 2 on October 10th)
Welcome- i did the same thing- scoured for Dec TR to read to get excited about our trip!!! so welcome and thanks for reading.

We had been in 2005 during the first week of December (during pop warner and christmas parade taping weekend), also for 10 days. This time, we pushed back a week as BIL was in college and couldn't go until then. So we were not sure what to expect crowd wise. It wasn't too bad at all until the last couple of days. The first weekend was fine and we always got up early and used FP and used some EMH too. That worked out well for us to do all we wanted to do ride-wise. I think really getting there at park opening and wisely using FP is the best way to avoid the crowds. We would be done with all the top rides by 11am and heading to lunch while the crowds were just pouring in.

It really wasn't that much more crowded than when we went ni the first week of Dec years ago. So I would recommend either week. However, our last day, Saturday, Dec 20th- we took it easy- we had done most of the big rides and noticed the crowds were building. That night, we had dinner at the Poly and decided to head to the MK one last time to say good bye. BAD BAD BAD!! it was so crowded! it was crazy and insane. We literally went to get a dole whip (hadn't done it yet this trip) and then walked back out down main street. It was too crowded to barely walk, much less ride anything. Main Street was nuts. So I wouldn't recommend getting much done if you are still there that weekend before Christmas.

here are some sample crowd pics. This was Friday, 12/19- it was raining, so that must have kept the crowds away (or folks were leaving and their vacation was ending, not sure, but it was pretty dead!).

this is MK at like 11am- near Dumbo looking towards Pooh/Fantasyland. pretty slow!


here it is exiting Main St the next day- Saturday, 12/20, which is when I assume a lot of folks were starting their Christmas WDW vacation! and this wasn't super late- this was only about 8pm at night, before the fireworks!
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



WDW College Program-Fall 96
,
84, 86-FTW, 93-FTW, 97, 98-OFFSITE, 00-POR, 03, 04, 05-GAYLORD, 04-POFQ, 05-POR, 06-CBR, 07-AKL, May 09-DIS Podcast Cruise, DEC 09-DAP/WL, Sept 10-DL, DEC 10 BLT, FEB 10 JOINED DVC! AUG 11 DLH, OCT 11 BLT, NOV 2012 BLT

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Old 01-04-2010, 09:33 PM   #11
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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12th

So after a well deserved night’s sleep, we were up and at ‘em early again. Our group was splitting up some again today. Wowo and her family had scheduled some extra meals, mostly breakfasts and they had one this morning. Everyone except us (Alan, Pooh and I) were taking part. They were doing breakfast at Trail’s End Buffet at Fort Wilderness. We had all heard great things about Trail’s End. I am not a big breakfast eater, so we passed on these extra meals- it is hard enough to get Pooh to sit through one sit down meal a day. The meals we did do were hard enough, so I am glad we passed on some of these extras.

The rest of the family raved about the meal though.

So we were up by 7ish and out the door to Epcot this am. Auntie and Chase actually came with us this am instead of doing breakfast. My plan was to hit Soarin or TT for fastpasses and maybe try and catch Turtle Talk with Crush. This is not what ended up happening, but remember, I was trying to be more flexible! Lol….actually it wasn’t too bad, flexing just a bit! So our little group did the usual parking, walking, security check dance and were through the gates. I have to say, Epcot is one of my favorites parks. I really love it here. We took a few minutes to enjoy the holiday topiaries and Pooh checked out the fountain- he loves water. Water, lights and trash. What more could a kid want?




So we were at Epcot just after opening of 9am. We headed over to Soarin immediately. We had missed the rope drop stampede, so it wasn’t too bad. We parked the stroller outside and headed in to grab fastpasses. Standby wait was only 15 minutes and FP return was for like in 45 minutes. So we grabbed fastpasses for all of us, including Pooh, even though he couldn’t ride. We knew we could use his for another family member. So now, who was to ride first, while someone sat out with Pooh? We went up and got a child swap pass too. So I figured maybe Auntie and Chase could go first, but he said I should go with her, so Auntie and I rode together and just got in the standby line. We had a short wait or so, it actually seemed a lot longer than it actually was. We finally made it down and boarded our flight over California. I had been listening to this soundtrack for over a year and now I was finally hearing it live on the attraction! We enjoyed our flight and next Chase and Alan rode together while Auntie and I sat out with Pooh- they used the child swap pass, so we still had all of our fastpasses intact. Pooh was getting pretty restless by now. I took him over to the Sunshine Season food court to get something to snack on. Of course he selected some ‘bips’ (chips) at 9:30 in the morning. Hey, it is vacation, why not. So we went back to sit down and entertain him with eating some bips. By this time, it was nearing 10:30 or so, and the rest of the family was arriving at Epcot finally. So we met up with everyone and handed off our leftover fastpasses, which totaled 5. So of course, 5 fastpasses were not enough for everyone. My parents, Nene, Jeff and Nancy ended up going. That left Mike, Wowo and the kids with no FP. Mike decided he wanted to go so he went ahead and got in the standby line with Princess. I think it was over 35 minute wait or so now.


So Wowo, Mikey, Auntie, Pooh and I headed to Living with the Land- the boat ride. Alan and Chase had gotten a drink (coffee) and decided to sit this one out to enjoy it. We enjoyed our boat ride through the gardens and took tons of pics. The huge 10lb lemons were so cool. We found a hidden mickey in the fish tank. And they had decorated some of the hydroponics with ornaments hanging from them etc. very cute!While this ride is nothing spectacular, it is always fun.

After our ride, we decided to head over to the Journey into Imagination pavilion to see if my old roommate who works there. I worked on the Walt Disney World College Program (WDWCP) back in the fall of 1996, during my senior year of college. I worked at the then Disney-MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) from August 96-Dec 96. It was one of the best times of my life. Don’t get me wrong, the work was hard (bussing tables, cashiering and even serving food cafeteria lady style), but it was a great time and awesome program. I had 5 roommates (6 per apartment) from all over the US- PA, AZ, NY, MI etc. We all still keep in touch, with the exception of one who was much younger and never clicked with the rest of us who were a bit older. So anyhow- I worked at Hollywood and Vine which at the time was a cafeteria serving only breakfast and lunch.

I lived in an apartment with all the other college program students (from all over the world- INTL ones worked in Epcot World Showcase). Then we attended classes each week to learn about how Disney operates, from finance, to HR, to Marketing, to engineering. It was a great experience. So while my job was not exactly fun, my actual roomie was ‘friends’ with the characters at the Studios and was in the parade each day (Toy Story at the time). Anyhow- my old roomie had worked in entertainment for years- she was in the Hunchback stage show, many parades and other venues. She had settled down in Orlando for good with her mom. Heather now worked at the Imagination pavilion in the Kodak area when you exit the ride. You know the big camera there with a mad scientist looking character that does a little camera spiel? Well she does that. She actually contracts out with Kodak, not directly with Disney (who doesn’t pay very well). She has worked for the mouse since 1995 now!

Heather and I in 2004.


I knew Heather was working that day- she had called and left me her work schedule so we could meet up. Heather belongs in entertainment! She is purely hysterical, everything is a show to her. When we lived together on the WDWCP, she was constantly playing ‘dress up’. She would come out of her room dressed as princess lea or a waitress wearing my apron from work. It was always entertaining around her. So I was hoping I would catch her working and not on break. So we boarded our ride through Imagination and had a good time. Of course it is nothing close to the original. But what can you do? Of course there was no line to speak of. Is there ever? Once we exited the ride, there she was!!!!! We gave each other a big old hug and caught up a for a bit. She had just finished a ‘show’ and was about to go on break. We took a few pictures and she got to meet Pooh- who she had not met yet. We spent some time chatting it up and then had to head out for a lunch reservation at Coral Reef. We said good bye to Heather with plans to meet up later in the week before she was off on vacation.

Upon exiting, it was time to change Pooh, so I rushed to do that. I missed one of our favorite things to do- take a photo with my sisters in front of the jumping fountains back near the 3D movie area. In rushing to change Pooh, I totally forgot and missed it. Darn it. We have pics of us there as kids and adults, almost every trip. It was not to be this trip I guess.

So apparently, as we were chatting with Heather, the rest of the family had come over and saw us through a little window before they boarded the ride. We didn’t see them though. So we all headed over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion to check in for lunch. Our lunch ressie was at noon. So we had managed to do Soarin, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination and chat with Heather and play in the Imagination area for a bit in those 2.5 hours or so. Not too bad. We checked in at Coral Reef and sat outside to wait our turn. The kids ran around and burned off some energy. I listened to the gulls call “mine, mine, mine’ over and over. I love that. Coral Reef was a first time restaurant for all of us. I don’t eat seafood, but I knew they had a great menu with other selections. I wasn’t sure if we would be seated together due to our party size of 14. So after a 15 minute wait or so, we were called and headed back.





We were seated in a huge curved booth along the back wall which seated 10 of us. The other four were seated at a table just across from us. The view was great- we really enjoyed watching the sea turtle (huge!) and fish throughout our meal. There were even divers doing some cleaning down there on the coral too. While we were sitting far away from the aquarium, we could still see fairly well. Service was a little slow here, but overall good. We all ordered a drink and a few of us decided to have an adult beverage! The kids got a drink with a glow in the dark tinkerbell or car on it. And yes, a few of the adults thought it was so cool, they got one too (Wowo, Mama…….lol). The menu offered a good selection from fish to steak to chicken and vegetarian. I ordered this:
Seared Chicken Breast - served over spaetzle finished with Applewood smoked bacon - chicken broth $20.99
Alan had this:
Grilled Mahi Mahi - topped with a spicy pineapple chutney over cashew-jasmine rice finished with a coconut rum beurre blanc $20.99

We ordered Pooh the kids plate where he picks an appetizer, entrée and dessert- so he had the lobster chowder (which Alan ate and enjoyed!) and then the mahi mahi with broccoli and mashed potatoes. He had a sundae (build your own) for dessert. It was a lot of food! Pooh enjoyed his food too. He loves broccoli.

I know my mom had the wild mushroom lasagna and someone had the steak. I knew I would be eating steak later this trip, so while I am a huge steak fan, I went with the chicken. The chicken was very good- large portion, juicy and not dry. Overall, I was very pleased. Alan enjoyed his as well. It seemed everyone really enjoyed their food and the atmosphere.

For dessert- I had the butterscotch crème brulee, it didn’t have much of a butterscotch taste, but was very good. I shared a bit so I could have some of Nancy’s dessert- the infamous chocolate wave! Yum! Alan had Bailey’s and Jack Daniel’s chocolate mousse. I did not try it, but it looked good. He said there was a huge shot of Jack at the bottom. Our meal for the three of us (including child) probably would have come to about $75 for lunch. Pretty good deal considering it was all free to us with free dining! Overall, I would recommend Coral Reef for lunch. We enjoyed the atmosphere, theming, service and food. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve read both bad and good reviews here. Originally we were hoping to have the customized menus and the diver with a sign, but they stopped offering that earlier in 2009. Still a great meal and we will probably go back in the future.

Once again, we struggled when it came time to pay. Having five separate room accounts to deal with made it difficult for our servers it seems, every single mealtime. I had to walk Will out while Alan waited on the bill. I really feel for the CM’s now having to print out a check for the meal (to be paid with the KTTW card for free dining) but then also one for the tip, which most of paid with cash or charged back to our rooms. It meant a lot of paperwork and receipts every meal. Quite the hassle. Oh, to remember the days when tip was included on the dining plan.

So after our big lunch, we were pretty stuffed. Pooh was almost in meltdown mode. We had been going since about 7:30am that morning and it was now nearing 2pm. The rest of the family stayed to check out the Nemo pavilion, ride the ride and do Crush. We simply couldn’t- Pooh wouldn’t make it that long without a complete fit. And who can blame him. As much as I would have liked to stay and get more accomplished, I knew I had to bend to his schedule and Alan and I both knew it was time to take a break. So we headed back out of the park. I think Nancy and Chase came with us. Her foot usually would swell up and she needed to get it on ice for a bit before starting out again in the evening.

We headed back to the car, which was not a long walk since we had a pretty good parking space near the front from arriving so early. We were back in the room by 2:30 or so- stopping to fill our refillable mugs with something to drink. We had water and juice and milk in our fridge for Pooh that we had ordered through garden grocer.

We got back to the room and let Pooh nap. He was pretty good about going down for his nap. Alan headed off to the gym at the wilderness Lodge to work off some of his lunch! I stayed in the room with Pooh- straightening up the room a bit more and watching some tv. I didn’t ever nap the whole trip, but did rest a bit. We had planned to take a 2-3 hour break each day. I know this is a great debate among many, to take a break or not to take a break? Pooh usually naps at day care from 12pm-2pm each day, so we were pretty certain it was a must for us. Otherwise, he would be a complete monster in the evenings. So break it was. He won’t sleep in his stroller for long, so that wasn’t really an option for us to keep going and wait for him to fall asleep in the stroller. Even when we travel sans children, we almost always take a midday break- it just gets us out of the parks in the height of the rush and heat (if there in the spring/summer) and we can come back refreshed and stay until closing.
fireplace at WL
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



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,
84, 86-FTW, 93-FTW, 97, 98-OFFSITE, 00-POR, 03, 04, 05-GAYLORD, 04-POFQ, 05-POR, 06-CBR, 07-AKL, May 09-DIS Podcast Cruise, DEC 09-DAP/WL, Sept 10-DL, DEC 10 BLT, FEB 10 JOINED DVC! AUG 11 DLH, OCT 11 BLT, NOV 2012 BLT

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Old 01-05-2010, 12:06 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by exwdwcm View Post
Welcome- i did the same thing- scoured for Dec TR to read to get excited about our trip!!! so welcome and thanks for reading.

We had been in 2005 during the first week of December (during pop warner and christmas parade taping weekend), also for 10 days. This time, we pushed back a week as BIL was in college and couldn't go until then. So we were not sure what to expect crowd wise. It wasn't too bad at all until the last couple of days. The first weekend was fine and we always got up early and used FP and used some EMH too. That worked out well for us to do all we wanted to do ride-wise. I think really getting there at park opening and wisely using FP is the best way to avoid the crowds. We would be done with all the top rides by 11am and heading to lunch while the crowds were just pouring in.

It really wasn't that much more crowded than when we went ni the first week of Dec years ago. So I would recommend either week. However, our last day, Saturday, Dec 20th- we took it easy- we had done most of the big rides and noticed the crowds were building. That night, we had dinner at the Poly and decided to head to the MK one last time to say good bye. BAD BAD BAD!! it was so crowded! it was crazy and insane. We literally went to get a dole whip (hadn't done it yet this trip) and then walked back out down main street. It was too crowded to barely walk, much less ride anything. Main Street was nuts. So I wouldn't recommend getting much done if you are still there that weekend before Christmas.

here are some sample crowd pics. This was Friday, 12/19- it was raining, so that must have kept the crowds away (or folks were leaving and their vacation was ending, not sure, but it was pretty dead!).

this is MK at like 11am- near Dumbo looking towards Pooh/Fantasyland. pretty slow!


here it is exiting Main St the next day- Saturday, 12/20, which is when I assume a lot of folks were starting their Christmas WDW vacation! and this wasn't super late- this was only about 8pm at night, before the fireworks!
Thank you sooo much for taking the time to answer my questions!! I really appreciate it!! You are exactly right about scouring the boards for December trips!! I want as much info as I can find!

Love your Epcot update!! I love Epcot as well! The food at Coral Reef looks soooo yummy! That creme brulee especially!! And how neat that you used to work at WDW!! My DH's cousin worked there when she was in college as well. And your friend still works there--fun!! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:43 PM   #13
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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12th- DAY 3, part 2
So our break lasted until 4:30 or 5. I think we all met in the lobby again around 5pm to head over to the Hollywood Studios for the evening. We had BIG plans tonight! That is why a break was so important today. The rest of the group ended up staying at Epcot a bit longer and didn’t really have a break.

So we all headed over to HS in our individual cars. The plan tonight was to get in a viewing of the Osborne Lights first, then possibly ride a ride or two before dinner at Sci Fi at 7:10pm. Then we had tickets to a private party (DIS-apalooza) that was from 9:30pm-midnight.





So what the heck is Dis-apalooza, you might ask? Good question! This was a party was hosted by these message boards- the DIS- more specifically by the DIS Unplugged Podcast. If you haven’t ever listened to the podcast here, you should. Lots of great tips, reviews, debates, restaurant discussions and updates on the latest news. Wowo turned me onto the podcast almost 2 years ago. I’ve been listening ever since. They have started hosting more listener events of late and this was going to be one of them. Typically in early December, WDW played host to “Mousefest”, a casual gathering of Disney online communities- or fans of websites like this one. While Mousefest typically hasn’t been a huge event, it is fairly large with a short little expo showcasing some of the different sites in a ‘tradeshow’ like setting. There are also many casually arranged ‘meets’ throughout the weekend- where folks gather for a dole whip together, a quick ride or a meal. This year, Mousefest was no longer taking place- the original organizers decided to take a break. The DIS unplugged podcast decided to host their own private event in lieu of the usual Mousefest for its fans. So Pete Werner, Jon of Dreams Unlimited and their team hosted and coordinated this party. If you had booked your trip through Dreams, you were automatically given a ticket (if requested) for entry. If you had not booked through them, you could register, but it was limited and had a small fee. This party was to be the official event for the Dis-apalooza weekend. The DIS also hosted a live recording of their podcast on Sunday, as well as hosted an amazing opportunity to hear Marty Skylar (yes, you have seen him on all the Disney travel shows- original imaginer who worked with Walt directly) as well as Lee Cockrell, former Executive VP of WDW Operations and author of the book “Creating Magic”. I had heard Lee speak on the DIS unplugged podcast cruise in May. I would have loved to hear Marty Skylar- a once in a lifetime opportunity, but he was speaking on Friday and that was our first day at Disney and I really thought time with my family and son took precedence.

So back to the party- after much anticipation, it was announced that the DIS would host a private event at Pixar Place at the Studios, like it had done the year before- but this year on a grander scale. Basically we would get to ride Toy Story Mania over and over all we wanted with minimal lines from 9:30pm-midnight! The park closed at 8pm, so it was only for us! Plus there would be a street carnival theme with entertainment, characters and food. So we were looking forward to this special party- labeled as TSM 2.0 or Toy Story Mania 2.0 (since TSM 1.0 happened in 2008).

So back to story………….We arrived at HS and did the usual bag check and headed in and noticed it was fairly crowded. Since this was our first time at HS on this trip, we took in the great view of the park from the entrance. We decided to head back towards the Osborne Lights to see how crowded it was back there. We made our way towards the back, but they had the Streets of America blocked off- they were controlling the flow of folks in and out of the lights area. That was new to us- our last trip in 2005, it was a madhouse- people coming and leaving every which way and crowds so large it was scary in there.

So it was sort of nice to see them controlling it a bit better, at least the ‘flow’ anyhow. However, this meant we had a long ways to walk. Once we saw the area, we realized how crowded it was and decided to do something else and try and catch the lights after dinner or another night. We would be back at HS the next night for EMH.

So instead, we were back near the Muppets and opted to do it. We walked in with perfect timing- only waiting about a minute before the show started. Pooh did pretty good in this show. It may be an oldie, but is a goodie. We enjoyed it as always. Upon exiting, we happened to catch Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen with a short line, so we got in line for a pic. They closed the line down right after us.


We got a few pictures and then headed over towards the Sci Fi- it was nearing time for dinner and we wanted to try and check in early. Sci Fi usually runs behind, even for ADRs, but we thought it was worth a try. It was CRAZY trying to get over to the restaurant. The controlled ‘exit’ area for the lights was right on that walkway near Sci Fi and the book store. We could hardly get across the crush of people exiting the lights. We finally got over and I checked us in. I actually had made this ADR with all our others originally by phone at 90 days out. However, once the party was announced, I tried to get our time bumped up a little earlier with no luck. I finally kept checking back online and was able to get two separate reservations for 7:10pm. I couldn’t book it as one, since the online system won’t let you do one for 10 people or more. So we all waited outside for a bit and could see some of the lights and hear the music. We finally were called in- well at least one party.

Alan, me, Pooh, Nancy and Chase all went in and shared a car. Alan and Pooh sat in back, I sat in middle and Nancy/Chase in the front. Pooh seemed to really like this setup with the dark theatre atmosphere and car. Shortly after we were seated, they seated Wowo, Mike, Princess, Mikey, Mama, Papa and Auntie. Nene and Jeff were not joining us this night- they had made reservations for a nice romantic dinner at Jiko at the AKL. Sci Fi is a favorite of my dad’s, so we usually try and eat here. While the food is not stellar, the atmosphere and is pretty fun and we are all sci fi nerds- well at least my dad, Wowo, Alan and I. And I love the old drive in concession stand commercials. And yes, I do remember the drive in- I am old enough. I remember my parents taking us 3 girls in the station wagon and we could sit in the back with an ice chest of snacks and drinks. I saw the original Indiana Jones at the drive in and remember it. That was in 1981 and I was 8!




Anywho- we had a pretty good meal here. I had had the BLT soup before and it was actually delicious, but I decided to pass on it since we would be having snacks at the party later too. So I ordered the:
Smoked St. Louis-style Ribs - Basted with barbecue sauce served with cole slaw and a choice of cucumber-melon salad or french fries $21.99
And Alan had the:
Italian Grilled Chicken Sandwich - With bruschetta topping served on a Kaiser Roll with cucumber-melon salad or fries $13.99

I think we just gave Pooh some of our food instead of ordering him a meal (he wasn’t covered on the dining plan since he was under 3). It was nice having a meal where Alan handled Pooh almost the whole time. My ribs were okay, nothing off the charts. Nancy really enjoyed her burger. Btw- there is not a burger on the menu, but you can order one. I had the hot fudge sundae for dessert and talk about yummy. I had not had one in ages, so it was divine! I think everyone loved dessert. Alan had the cheesecake which comes with caramel popcorn, m&ms and caramel sauce. Talk about sugar overload! Pooh isn’t much on sweets, but loves M&Ms, so he ate those up! Surprisingly the restaurant didn’t look full or super crowded. I guess because the park closed at 8pm. We probably wrapped up dinner around 8:30pm or 8:45pm. With our tables split up, the bill didn’t take quite as long.

After dinner, Alan and I headed to the Osborne lights- Auntie and Pooh too. I don’t remember where everyone else went or why they didn’t join us. I think maybe my mom was going to the front of the park to see about renting a wheelchair for the party or something. I can’t remember, or maybe they were still eating. So we had a nice time viewing the lights. By this time, the park was actually ‘closed’, but the lights were still on and there were still people around. But we really enjoyed it since it wasn’t crowded! We even got a photopass pic, one of my favorites of the trip. We spent a good 20 minutes in the lights, just enjoying and letting Pooh catch the snow. That was his absolute favorite part.




Then it was time to head to the front of the park to get ready for the Toy Story Mania Party! We were supposed to meet up front by 9pm to be escorted back into the park turnstiles by the green army men! So we headed towards the front and ran into the rest of the family. Mom wasn’t feeling very good and not sure she could stay through the party without a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the wheelchair station was closed. She debated it quite a bit, but finally decided to leave the park and call it a night. She had looked forward to this party, but just wasn’t feeling well enough. I really felt bad for her.


Nene and Jeff called and were done with dinner and wanting to come over to the party. They misunderstood and thought it was extra magic hour night and that they could get in. We had not ordered them tickets to the party, since they were doing their own dinner separately and she had said they would pass on the party. But they had finished dinner early and were wanting to come over. They drove all the way over only to realize they couldn’t get in. As they were driving away is when my mom decided to leave the party, so we called and told them to come back and use my parents tickets, but they decided not to.

So it was Alan, Pooh and I. Plus Wowo’s family. Mikey and Princess were pretty beat, as they didn’t have a break really today. Mikey was passed out in his stroller. Auntie had also left with my parents. Nancy and Chas were still with us. So we waited, and waited and waited. Seemed like an eternity (doesn’t everything with a restless toddler?). I saw many of my old online friends I met on the podcast cruise, but I was too busy keeping Pooh occupied to go socialize. So all of us were waiting in the huge crowd outside the turnstiles. Folks leaving the park kept looking over wondering what was going on, so it was pretty cool to be part of a special after hours event like this! Finally at about 9:15ish or so, they started letting us in. The green army men welcomed us and led us back to pixar place. We were so far back in the crowd, that we didn’t see them. But once we arrived at Pixar Place, we got some pics with them. There were quite a few around and available for pics. They had tables set up with tons of food- including sausage and peppers, nachos, cotton candy, funnel cakes, apple slices with caramel sauce, popcorn and more. It was all free, but we did have to pay for drinks. A tiny bottle of water was $4. I am talking a small small bottle. So that was a bummer and we were dying of thirst! We split off from everyone to change Pooh’s diaper. Finally we got in line for the ride. It was a short line, like 5-10 minutes max. It was actually sad to miss some of the great themeing in the queue line. We had a blast riding, it was our first time. Unfortunately, I did not score too high, as Pooh was helping to operate my gun. Alan really enjoyed the ride too.





After riding, we found Nancy and Chase. Wowo and her family were getting tired and heading out. We found a table together and got some food. I know- more eating? How could we possibly? Well Chase had room apparently- he ate a ton! Lol next I took Pooh to get a pic with Buzz and Woody. Only one person in front of us in line. Sweet!


We saw a great balloon artist doing Disney themed balloons animals. But the line was too long for him. So after having a few snacks, we rode again. This time, the wait was almost nothing, as we went with Nancy and Chase. Since she has the boot on, they let her go on the FP line which was shorter and didn’t require going up the stairs.


We had another fun time playing. I really wanted to go a third time, but Pooh was getting pretty fussy by now. It was 11:30pm. Nancy and Chase rode like 3-4 times and had a ball. So we all decided to call it a night. I got to say hi to a few friends, but not as many as I would have liked. Most of them were there alone for just the weekend, not with their entire families like me. So I felt a little oddball. I was so busy watching Pooh that I couldn’t chat up with everyone. Oh well. This vacation was all about Pooh and this party/Disapalooza only was announced later after we had planned this family vacation. So I kept my focus on Pooh. It did look like all my DIS friends were having a blast though, I was sort of jealous!

It was a great event and the DIS team did a fantastic job with it. Now we wouldn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and fight the hordes of people to run to the Toy Story ride one morning, since it is the most popular in all the world it seems. Now we could mark it off the to do list. So, really tired, we marched our way out. It was fun exiting a nearly empty park. We got a few pics of the empty streets! By the time we got in bed, it was well after midnight. But fun was had by all! Success! Once again, we had a good, but packed day.


We had managed to ride Soarin, Living with the Land, Imagination, Muppets and Toy Story Mania 2x. Plus saw the Osborne Lights, ate 2 sit down meals and visited with some friends. Not to mention a 3 hour break!

SANTA’S NICE LIST
*Osborne Lights- amazing!! Pooh loved them.
*Coral Reef- surprisingly good meal
*Toy Story Mania Party- awesome!
*Chocolate wave at Coral Reef
*Seeing Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Buzz and Woody
*Watching Pooh catch ‘snow’

SANTA’S NAUGHTY LIST
*huge crowds at Osborne Lights initially
*Mom getting sick

MEAL REVIEW
CORAL REEF- EPCOT- A delicious surprise! Loved the atmosphere, even though are seat wasn’t perfect. The theme is great and carried through the entire restaurant and check in area down to the littlest details. Service was standard, but the food was pretty good. Almost everyone in our party of 14 enjoyed their meal and most cleaned their plates! Servings were generous and everything was served hot. My son’s kid’s meal was extremely generous in size and portion. Restaurant was not too loud. Only complaint was the wait to get in, even with an ADR. Will recommend lunch here to friends and plan to visit again! I’ll give it 4.25 out of 5 mickey heads!

SCI FI DINE INN-HS- An oldie but a goodie for us. We’ve all eaten here many times. We realize the food isn’t the draw for us, but the theme and atmosphere. We all love the old movie clips and sitting in the car. Food was slightly above our ‘low’ expectations. Service was actually swift and delightful. Our server offered to take our picture for us multiple times and was very attentive. Dessert was really good! We might skip this next time in order to try another restaurant, but it will stay on our list as one to do again and again. I would recommend to friends that like ‘sci fi’ with the caveat that the food is pretty standard fare and nothing spectacular. We went in with that expectation and were pleased. I give it 2.5 out of 5 mickey heads!
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:10 PM   #14
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This might be a REALLY dumb question but how do you listen to the Podcasts? Where do you find them? How often do they do podcasts? Are they live? Can you go back and listen to previous ones? I know nothing!! Do you know if they're planning on having Dis-apalooza again this year?! It sounds like such a fun night!!!
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladybugmom View Post
This might be a REALLY dumb question but how do you listen to the Podcasts? Where do you find them? How often do they do podcasts? Are they live? Can you go back and listen to previous ones? I know nothing!! Do you know if they're planning on having Dis-apalooza again this year?! It sounds like such a fun night!!!
not a stupid question at all- many folks don't know what a podcast is. it is like a radio show (some daily, some weekly etc.) that you can listen to on your computer or download to your ipod or other media to listen to later.

if you go here:
http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-podcast/
You can click the 'listen now' button on the left (down near hte center) of the page. It will bring up your media player and you can listen to the show. Or you can download it to your itunes account and then upload it to your ipod if you prefer to listen while taking a walk or something. I always just listened on my computer and plugged my headphones into that (as not to disturb others). If you have speakers on your computer, you can listen that way. They have a weekly discussion show and sometimes also an email show where folks can email in questions and they answer them on the show for you. It is always fun and interesting. There are other podcasts for disney out there too on other websites as well. I only have time to barely listen to this one, but I hear there are other great ones too. They will discuss all the newest things, changes in disney mgmt, new movies, new attractions, restaurant reviews etc. Folks call and email in with great tips too. They are not live, but pre-recorded usually the day before so they can edit as necessary for a streamlined show.

as for another disapalooza next year, i assume they will have one again. The first real official party was in 2008, but I know they have had other meets before then too in 2007 and maybe even 06. There is also the DIS unplugged message board much like this one- it is where a lot of the folks that listen to the show post about the show or other things. It has become a tight knit group, but don't be afraid to go over there, they don't bite! They also hosted the first ever DIS UNPLUGGED Cruise this past May on the Disney Wonder. Dreams Unlimited offered special packages and the cruise was filled with fans of the show as well as the hosts themselves that we listen to each week. They held a live taping (with audience) of hte podcast on the ship, had a welcome reception, party on castaway cay, private presentation by Disney Institute and more. Lots of special events, including a wine tasting, martini tasting and other get togethers. it was a lot of fun and I got to meet some of my 'online' friends in person. They are now planning another DIS unplugged cruise (2.0) for December 10-14, 2010. I am not sure if they will do disapalooza due to the cruise- and if they do, it might be at a different time, I just don't know. We will have to wait for details. you can check the dis unplugged forum often for any updates throughout the year. I also recommend booking with Dreams if you are not DVC- they have always provided great service to us. Booking with them also usually guarantees you placement in any special events they will be hosting during your stay.
here are the boards:
http://www.disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=158
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MY TRIP REPORTS: NOV 2012 PTR OCT 2011 BLT TR DEC 2010 BLT TRSEPT 2010 DL TR DEC 2009 WL TR AUG 2006 TR
ME (Michelle) , DH, DS (3), Tink & Sassy



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,
84, 86-FTW, 93-FTW, 97, 98-OFFSITE, 00-POR, 03, 04, 05-GAYLORD, 04-POFQ, 05-POR, 06-CBR, 07-AKL, May 09-DIS Podcast Cruise, DEC 09-DAP/WL, Sept 10-DL, DEC 10 BLT, FEB 10 JOINED DVC! AUG 11 DLH, OCT 11 BLT, NOV 2012 BLT

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