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Old 12-29-2009, 03:29 PM   #1
wishes she was Wendy Moira Angela Darling
exwdwcm's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pixie Hollow (Dallas)
Posts: 5,061

Holiday Dreams Do Come True with Pooh-Pooh Too! Family of 14 at WL (COMPLETED 3/23)

You can visit our PTR here:

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
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

Last edited by exwdwcm; 03-23-2010 at 10:54 AM.
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