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Old 04-26-2012, 08:08 PM   #1
joleen76
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Thumbs up Was Our GG Great or a Great Flop? 6/10 & Disney Pt2 The Do Over Trip 8/2-Updt x2

This is going to be a crazy adventure through 2 trips a year apart! Were they good, or were they CRAZY?? I promise to give you the real scoop.

Our first trip was almost 2 years ago, but I wanted to still write a TR for 2 reasons. The first reason is purely selfish. As you can see in my signature...we have no trip planned for this year. I know...it's so sad, so I wanted to relive my past 2 trips to ease the withdrawals for not going this year. The second reason is I know there may be some of you out there who are either curious about a Grand Gathering or are in fact planning one. I thought you might want to see how ours went! The second report is a year later and is with just the 6 of us in our family.

I originally did not write a TR on our Grand Gathering because it wasn't the best trip we have had for several reasons....but we'll get into that later. Blended families = drama, but that's real life and let's face it, trips to Disney should be a reality show if for nothing else, seeing the highs and lows. So I promise to share it all with you and hopefully it should be entertaining.

Then we do a "do over" trip a year later with just the core family unit. How did that work out?? There will be drama! How could there not be? We are a family of 6 and there are 4 BOYS!!!

So if your interested in reading our previous adventures you can either click the links in my signiture or click the links below!

Our Wonderful and Totally Magical Disneymoon!! The Dawning of DH's Disney obsession.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2100845

We Invade Disney with a UNPLANNED Wheelchair passenger! A TR affectionately called the "sequel" (but it could have just as easily been called the trip that almost wasn't. I think calling it a sequel was a lot more upbeat. So we'll just go with that!) It was our first trip as a blended family and we had an awesome time.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2100845

So I thought I would take a couple excerpts from my PTR to best explain how the GG came to be...

"When we came back we imediately wanted to go back, but the economy troubles hit my work and I was going to be laid off. I started searching for a new job and we were forced to put any Disney plans on hold indefinately.

I was able to find a great job fairly quickly, one catch though....we had to move. Again we had to put Disney plans on hold. Then in November 09 I got a coveted PIN code for 40% off. Seeds were planted again and I looked at the calendar and looked at our finances and was able to see that maybe by June we could go. We decided on June 5-12 and I called and made our reservations...WE WERE GOING BACK!!

Then I thought....hmmm we've been trying to get my dad to go with us for years. I would try again. So I sent him an e-mail with our plans and asked him if he'd like to go with us. A few days later we got a call and he, my step mom and my little sis were coming with us!

This means a grand gathering! Oh no, I've never planned a GG before. I called and made their reservations (June 7-12). Whoo hoo!

We discussed places they would like to eat over Thanksgiving and I was put in charge of ALL the planning."


Up next meet all our characters!
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Last edited by joleen76; 08-02-2012 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Updating Title
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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Meeting the Cast!!

Who's first....

I guess me...Joleen - 33 (soon to be older) Disney finatic and planner by night and accountant by day. Loves family time and loves a vacation more than anything.

My favorite character is Mickey, but I love them all.
Favorite ride....Space Mountain.
Favorite place to eat....Le Cellier

DH - Kenneth (younger than me and doesn't let me forget it) now ever since our honeymoon he has been bitten by the Disney bug as hard as I have. Stay at home dad, and all around wonderful husband. (he has me spoiled rotten). He's a jokester and loves his music loud and full of bass.

Favorite character is Goofy, and for good reason!
Favorite Rides....Rockin Rollercoaster, Great Movie Ride, and Space Mountain.
Favorite places to eat....Le Cellier, Coral Reef, and The Brown Derby



DS 14 - about to be in high school (I'm so not ready), LOVES sports, playing video games about sports, and did I mention he loves sports? Very good as teenagers go, but he has his moments. Has tried in the past to act like he is getting to old for Disney, but quickly changes his toon when we arrive at the world. He had a 4-wheeler accident in Nov. 08 and I thought I might loose him, but he's so strong and has bounced back fully. (more on that story in my previous TR)

He is most like Grumpy...but he is a lover of the Mouse too.
Favorite Ride...Mount Everest
Favorite place to eat....buffets..I mean he is a teenage boy



DS 10 - 5th grader and a sweet kid. Loves spending time with his family and tends to be my sensitive one. Loves the army and police. Wants to be a cop when he grows up. Loves Disney and isn't afraid to say it.

Character would be Stitch.
Favorite Rides...Rocking Roller Coaster and Space Mountain
Favorite place to eat....Sci Fi



DS 8 - Also a sweet boy. Sensetive as well. Loves video games, especially car racing games (Daddy's boy for sure), and riding his bike. Lives in New Mexico with his mom, so we don't see him hardly enough. We took him on his first trip to Disney 11/08 and he had the time of his life. He is looking forward to this trip maybe more than I am which is hard to believe.

His character would be....the Red Power Ranger.
Favorite Ride....The cars Tomorrowland Speedway....(yeah I know)
Favorite Place to eat...anything with ice cream



DS 6 - He is a firecracker. Too funny and full of energy. Loves matchbox cars, riding his bike, and playing with his brothers. Also lives in New Mexico. Took him to Disney for the first time in 11/08 and he fell in love. He is counting the days until our trip.

His character is ..... Lightning McQueen
Favorite Ride...the cars...
Favorite place to eat...anything with pizza, spagetti, chicken nuggets...you know...kids stuff



DD (won't disclose his age) - my dad. Loves golf, snow skiing, and his family. Planted my Disney bug on my inagural trip. Is excited to be going on vacation with all of us and is a great grandpa.

DSM (again no ages) - my step mom. Loves tennis, snow skiing, shopping, and my DSis. She can't ride all the big rides anymore and is loving that my DH will ride everything so my little sister can ride too.

DSis 10 - Loves competition cheerleading, Twilight, and her friends. She is beyond excited for our trip. Very sweet girl who loves her nephews. It will be the first time we have been on vacation together and I have a special dinner planned for her.



Up next...our travel day...how do we get to Disney again?
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:12 PM   #3
joleen76
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Travel Day Part 1

Day 1 Travel

Before I even get started I will apologize for the lack of pictures in this update. I truly have about 500 pic’s of our trip so I will overload you some days, but this one…not so much.

With 6 people in our family, we always drive to Disney. It’s a LONG drive from central Texas to our beloved vacation spot, but it’s worth it to us to spend 17 ½ hours in the car to get to where we are going. Plus the thought of saving $1,500 seals the deal! It also allows for us to vacation more often and not go completely broke. To make things easier I will affectionately call the boys T (DS 14) G (DS 12) K (DS 9) J (DS 7)

Our plan was to pick up my dear step son’s (K & J) the weekend before and have them at our house a couple of days before we left. They lived in New Mexico at the time, and a 8 hour drive, no way we could do that trip and then drive to Disney close to the same time. So DH and DS12 picked them up on the Friday before we left and tried to get them acclimated to our rules etc. It’s an every visit thing and I completely understand since I was a child of divorced parents myself. I don’t know why we always plan to take our vacation with minimal time between when we pick the boys up and when we leave. I guess mentally we think 1 week will make a difference in temperature and in crowd levels. I think it does some on the crowd levels, but oh well. One day we will learn…I hope.

So we have my DSS’s at the house already. My boys (T&G) get out of school for the summer on 6/4 the day we are leaving to head out at 12 noon. The plan was for me to leave work early about the same time and finish any packing we needed to do. DH has been a stay at home dad since we moved to our new city 9 months ago, so that has been nice. I am a stickler for packing early so we had our clothes laid out the weekend before with lists of what needed to be added laid on top of each set of clothes. Too much experience traveling and getting to my destination only to realize I forgot my dress shoes for a corporate visit and having to go buy some to avoid showing up to work in my Disney Croc’s. Sorry, I am rambling! We finished our packing the night before minus the last toiletries and pillows/blankets. I took Kenneth’s car to work so that he could get a head start on packing the car. We always take my car to Disney since it seats 7. It fits us pretty well and as the boys grow we go from completely comfortable to more like chicken in a can. Hey it’s better than sardines! At least that’s what I tell them.

I was supposed to get out of work about noon, but it was really more like 1pm before I left. My team was telling me to leave they had everything covered, which really helped to ease my mind. My team is an awesome group of individuals and they make going on vacation a lot easier. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get out of the house by 2 like we planned, but I was going to do my best to help us get there. Luckily I live about 2 miles from where I work (a great perk of us moving here and a demand I made when we moved, I hated commuting every day).

When I got home I saw Kenneth outside pacing waiting for me. He really has come to share my Disney addiction which is awesome for vacation planning. He gave me the half relieved half upset look as I pulled into the driveway, and then I saw that the car was packed and the baggage bag (improper English I know) was ready to be strapped down to the car. I was so proud!

I ran inside changed into my traveling clothes and did the mad dash to be ready in time to leave at 2. I have no idea how I did it, but I made it. I was winded and breathing like I had just been in a 500 yard dash….but I made it! I was proud. Kenneth’s look began to ease and it was a complete happy and ready to go look he gave me now. First we had to say goodbye to our fur babies and make sure they had plenty of food and water.

Goofy



Minnie



Bless their hearts, they knew we were leaving. They know when the bags come down they are going to be sad…

Poor babies.

Ok…where was I…oh yeah…we’re going to Disney World Baby!
We all got everything loaded…boys had their games; we had a cooler of drinks and snacks, and boy were we ready.

We were in the car, had the GPS locked in on our destination, well close anyways (more on that later) and we were headed that way.

Up next….where are we and how did we get here????
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:07 PM   #4
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Travel Day Part 2

I think I will post twice tonight! I want to get through the travel part and on to the TRIP!!!!!

We pulled out of our driveway about 2:05. I was impressed all things considered. We all couldn’t wait to get to our happy place. We were driving a new route this year from our new city so we were both excited and nervous. We knew we’d be seeing some of Texas we had never seen before. Kenneth was taking to first shift at driving, so I was supposed to nap. I have an issue sleeping in a moving vehicle; I have the same problem with planes. It’s weird, I hate it, but what are you gonna do? We were all excited. We were on the road about 3-4 hrs when the first bathroom visit was requested. Something very strange happened at this stop, so I just have to tell the story. We stopped in a small town and visited a gas station that looked like a log cabin and you could smell the BBQ outside. Everything looked good. T, K, J, & I went in first while Kenneth & G stayed with the car to get some gas. The boys get their turn in the bathroom while I wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. I swear it was like 10 mins. I mean I contemplated going in the men’s room but it was not a single stall bathroom so I passed and waited some more. Kenneth was getting really irritated. Finally the bathroom opens and the lady walks out. Kenneth and I both look at each other and he leans in and says…how long have you been waiting? I say ummm about 10 mins or so. He says….good luck with that. I hope you have spray in your purse! I am quick to be done and head back to the car. Kenneth then proceeds to tell me about what I had missed. You see there was an old man sitting on a bench outside the store. I thought nothing of it besides he was there and probably just enjoying a minute being out of the house. Sometime between when I went in the store and when I came out, G had come to take his turn in the restroom. When he was walking by the man, the man offered to give him money. At first I was like what is the big deal? But there was more. He became insistent that G come and get this money from him. It got creepy fast. G, being pretty smart about weird things ran in the store and found Kenneth and told him the whole story….How CRAZY!!!

We get back in the car and celebrate that we are 3 hours closer to Disney!! We then have a pretty uneventful drive from there on out until we get to the toll road (the back way into Disney). We had made this same journey about 18 months before so I wasn’t too concerned when we couldn’t use the address of our resort to link the GPS to. I remember once you get close there are TON’s of signs. So I put in a nearby address and went with it.

So when we got off the toll way, the exit looked familiar enough. Little did I know….it was not the way I was used to AT ALL.

We kept following the road for a little while thinking surely we will see a sign soon. Nope…not a one! Finally I decided I needed to mess with the GPS and have the helpful lady tell us where to go to the right place. We were close enough I could just look at the map and pick a location I thought was closer. We had never stayed at Fort Wilderness before so we knew we needed to head toward Magic Kingdom but didn’t know how close we were to that. Luckily my sense of direction was good and we were super close. We ended up driving in through the employee entrance area and with a couple of turns we were driving past the bus entrance to The Kingdom and the Contemporary! I knew we were getting close…. Man I should have taken pictures, but in the moment, well it was to frustrating for pictures.

We found our way there no problem after this. The signs at Disney are so great. We pulled into the resort checked in with the gate and headed to check in for the beginning of our Grand Gathering. !!!

When we checked in, it was about 8 am, I assumed our cabin would not be ready, and it wasn’t. We were exhausted but that was okay. We decided we’d head to a park and get this vacation started until we get the message our cabin is ready and then come back for a nap. (hopefully) We went back to the car and got everyone sunscreened up and walked to the main bus stop just across the parking lot. The bus was maybe a 5-10 minute wait and we were headed to our first park of the trip!!!

If you didn’t read my PTR, my dad, step mom, and little sis don’t arrive until Monday so we have 2 days of touring with just our family. How did that work out? Stay tuned to find out.

Up next….Where did we go? Did we make rope drop???
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:22 PM   #5
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Day 1 part 1 - Our First Park of the Trip!

We arrived at the park about 8:30 and headed toward the turn styles. I had learned from reading all of the wonderful TR’s on here that we could head to any of the entrances and be okay. So we headed toward the right and to an empty gate!! I was thrilled because I knew I would be the official runner for our first Fast Passes and I was headed right while Kenneth and the boys would head left.

Any guesses where we are?

Does this give it away?




You can see the boys are ready to go, and you can see our “rockstar” parking. Well that’s what I call it when we get a front row parking spot at the grocery store, so I think it’s fitting in this case.

Before long we were let in and to our second wait to get to the rides. EPCOT has 2 waits before letting you go to the rides. I think DHS has the same thing right?

I had to document my race for the passes, and I think my position was pretty good no?




We were on the side with Goofy and Donald

Goofy saw me and wanted to tell me he missed me!




At least that’s how the story goes in my mind anyway.

He came and chatted with us and was really happy to see us.




There were some speeches welcoming us to EPCOT and then the ropes dropped and I was following my flight attendants to get some of these Babies!




Great return times no?

I then did my best power walk over to meet Kenneth and the boys. They were waiting for me at Test Track. I had told them to go ahead and ride and then we could ride again together so I met them at the entrance for their second turn. Here is a picture of their first ride.




You can tell it was early…no single riders to fill the empty spot I would have been in. I like to think it was in honor of my absence, but I know that’s a stretch!

The wait was only 10 mins at this time and we hopped in line.

Here is the complete cast!




You can tell from how shiny we are the sunscreen hadn’t even soaked in yet!

Next we were on to Mission Space, but not without a shot with the planets.




The kids were acting like they were holding up Jupiter with their backs. They are so funny sometimes. T was being a teenager and decided he was to “old” for pictures like this.




K really likes his picture taken and had no problem with me taking more to remember the morning.

Kenneth and the boys went on the Orange side and I rode the green. I usually only ride this ride once a trip and only if it’s early in the day on an empty stomach because it makes me dizzy and give me a headache if I do it any other time. Even on the green side. (sigh) Usually I play the game at the exit while they ride and I enjoy myself.

Great start to a great day right?

Up next….We see an old friend and honey what is that in his nose?
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:53 PM   #6
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Great start to your report--what a weird thing to have happen at the gas station, though!
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:02 PM   #7
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Great start to your report--what a weird thing to have happen at the gas station, though!


You are my first poster! Thanks for reading!

Honestly it freaked me out more than a little when they told me about it. I told Kenneth floor it...HAHAHA I hate to think badly of an older person, but there is so much out there these days! Better safe than sorry.
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:51 PM   #8
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Day 1 Part 2

We headed toward Soarin to use those fabulous fast passes I’ve been holding on to, and ironically enough it was with in our time window. We are notorious for holding on to Fast Passes and using them when we get back to that area of the park. I know that Disney has recently changed its policy and you have to use them during your window. That is going to be so hard for us but we will find a way!

We checked into the fast pass line and noticed the standby entrance was 60 mins! I am so glad we know how to get around that wait! When we lined up to board our flight, we kindly requested the front row. Our flight attendant assured us that would be no problem. I love Disney; the cast members are so nice. We don’t usually make requests except for our first ride of the trip.

We had a glorious flight and the kids had so much fun. I love the wind effects. I feel like we are flying through the air. It’s so awesome.

As we are walking out of the Land Pavilion I hear a very weird sound and turn to Kenneth. Our conversation kinda went like this:

Kenneth or some part of him: “Grrrrrruuuummmmbbbbblllleeeee”

Me: “Wait was that your stomach?”

Kenneth: Yes, I’m starving.

Kids: Us toooooooo.

Have you ever noticed with kids when they whine they make a single syllable word into and extra-long word just for effect?

They were right though. It was about 11 by now and we hadn’t eaten breakfast, so we quickly discuss our options. I wanted to head to the countries and get something there, but the kids wanted something RIGHT NOW but said in their most pitiful voices. With this being the first day of our trip, I gave in. We ate at the Lunching Pad. We all had hamburgers.

Now I am not one to typically criticize Disney food, but the buns were hard and there were no condiment bars like at Magic Kingdom. I know I know, I am so spoiled I am being a brat, but I LOVE those mushrooms in MK.

Next we start toward what I affectionately call “The Countries”. When we walk toward Mexico, we notice in the grass is one of our friends from our Disneymoon. Kenneth and I look at each other and say Mallard. It’s an inside joke, but every day of our honeymoon trip, we would add a new random word from our experience that day. Even to this day if one of us says one of the words it instantly takes us back. I know I know…sappy but I still love it.

Here is our old friend…




Next we started through Mexico and rode the Three Cabieros then we window shopped to Norway. We rode Malestrom and waited 15 mins! We love it though and were killing time until we could head to the resort. We love the shop at the end of the ride. The kids love, well ummm taking advantage of statues being statues.




Of course I have to make a comment to Kenneth. Look honey…what’s that coming out of his nose. Funny enough…the kids actually turned and looked. I wish I had caught that in a picture. It was so funny.

Then we finally get the message we’ve been waiting for all day. Our cabin is ready! YAY!!!

As we head back to the front of EPCOT, we stopped and picked up Test Track Fast Passes, and quickly make our way to our bus stop. I know I mentioned how tired Kenneth and I were, neither one of us really slept much on the drive in, but I didn’t realize how tired Kenneth was until I looked over to talk to him on the bus and saw this.




LOL!!!!

Poor thing.

We got back to the resort picked up our car and headed for our cabin. I was exhausted….so much so…I did something I have never done before…I did not take ANY pictures of our cabin. AT ALL.

So I went to Wikipedia and copied this one. Our cabin was just like this one from the outside.






I loved we could park our car just right outside our room. Felt a little like home.

We went inside cranked up the A/C and laid down for a little bit. It was about 2 and we had dinner reservations at 5:20 in EPCOT.



Up next ….. Will we make it to our Dinner?
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Old 05-05-2012, 05:13 PM   #9
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I'm in....

Loving your report so far~ can't wait to hear more and also looking forward the the arrival of the rest of your group!
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:21 PM   #10
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Loving your report so far~ can't wait to hear more and also looking forward the the arrival of the rest of your group!


I promise an update soon. I have had the flu the last couple of days! There is so much more to come though I promise!
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:32 PM   #11
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Day 1 Part 3

We got up around 4. That was the longest the kids would let us rest. Splashed some cold water on our faces and headed toward the bus stop. The buses have 4 colored routes. At first this was very confusing, but the map helped a lot. It was color coded with the colors of the bus routes and which way they traveled. Once we got the hang of it we were good to go.

We got to the main bus stop and got off the internal bus and waited for the EPCOT bus to arrive. It was about 4:10 now.

It didn’t take long for one to arrive. The buses today have been really good. Short waits and even got a seat every time! We got to EPCOT about 4:45 and headed to our Dinner at the Coral Reef. Our ADR wasn’t until 5:20, so we took our time getting over there and soaked in EPCOT ambiance. It really is a beautiful park. We arrived about 5 and checked in. It was so cold in the waiting area, which was a wonderful thing. It was so different than outside, and a welcome break. We were seated about 5:20 on the lowest tier toward the far end of the restaurant. This was our view.








For some reason, this is ALL the pictures I took for the dinner. I don’t know what happened. I must have been on my first day at Disney high, or completely exhausted. Not sure.

If you happened to have read my Disneymoon TR, these pictures may remind you as they do me, of watching that couple get engaged!

The dinner was so good and for a change no one complained! With a family of 6 that is a rare thing.

We decided to hop on Nemo and Friends. Well not literally on them, that would be cruel, but you understand what I mean. It was cute as always, but really let Kenneth and I know exactly how tired we still were.

We decided we would use those awesome fast passes we had and then head back to the hotel.

Somewhere after the preshow and the before the entering the car. T decided to be a real teenager and get upset because he was not going to be able to ride in a side seat. Kenneth and I both felt we needed the side for comfort reasons, which left T . As you can see from the picture below……he must have REALLY been behaving like a teenage boy! LOL



Yep we’re tired and we’re going back to the cabin!

Great first day though….really it was. I promise my picture volume will increase and I WILL have pictures of food. I mean obviously we like food, but we LOVE Disney food.



Tally for the trip to date:

Rope Drops: 1

Table Service: 1 (Coral Reef)

Counter Service: 1

Pouty Pants: 1 (HAHAHA boy am I glad T is not on the DIS)



Before I leave the cliffhanger for the day…..where was this picture taken?



No, really I have no idea…I just know from the date on the file and Kenneth’s shirt it was the first day. I have my suspicions but wondered what you thought? Think of it as a challenge.



Ok ok…the cliffhanger…..Day 2 EPCOT is RED, and DS is YELLOW. Which GREEN park to we go to, and what Family First did we check off our list?

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Old 05-19-2012, 07:27 PM   #12
Mkbnoc
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Thank you for the update on the trip. Love all the pictures. Looks like it was a great trip.
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:21 AM   #13
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Thanks for the great report so far
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Old 05-20-2012, 02:34 PM   #14
joleen76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mkbnoc View Post
Thank you for the update on the trip. Love all the pictures. Looks like it was a great trip.
Thanks for reading along! I know my pictures aren't great quality, but I try to make up for that in quantity!

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Originally Posted by 15isto2 View Post
Thanks for the great report so far
Thanks for coming along for the ride!


I am going to post an update today!
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Old 05-20-2012, 02:51 PM   #15
joleen76
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Day 2 Part 1 "Let's get this day started"

This was the last full day of the trip before my extended family arrives. We decided to get up pretty early and head to the park for rope drop. The alarm went off as planned and Kenneth and I got out of bed no problem. It was a great morning, until …… we woke up all 4 boys at the same time. If you thought boys were easy…..just try having 1 bathroom and 4 of them needing to use it at one time. Where girls will whine or pout….boys…well they all think they are tough and want to fight it out. I am not talking fist fights or anything, but pushing past each other, maybe knocking down the other as they run by. Definite….I’m next because I’m the biggest kind of thing.

I have a secret cape I wear under my clothes that I pull out when they fight so I can be the referee. No…..not really….. but there are days I wish I did just so I could, just to shock them back into reality.

Anyway….30 minutes later we are all sunscreened up and pop tarted up and headed to the boat dock.


Pictures of our ride over.







Kenneth looks like something smells, but I think he was just making a face because I was already taking so many pictures this morning.




Wilderness Lodge




The Contemporary



And Bay Lake Towers



I was getting so excited. We were getting so close! You see today is the day of every trip I look forward to the most. Today is our first Magic Kingdom day.

We took our first picture in front of MK of the trip! For some reason, boys think poses and expressions that mom can’t see or is too busy trying to smile to pay attention to are funny. I knew they were dying to act silly so before the rest of the family came I encouraged them to get it out of their system. Did it work??? You will have to stay tuned to see.


Up next….what do we do first? And what faces will the boys make?
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6th grd DL; 7/95 Swan; 5/03 ASMo; 5/04 POP; 5/05 POP; 5/06 POR; 5/07 POFQ; 11/07 BC T-day/MVMCP ;6/08 YC & CR DISNEYMOON ; 11/08 AS Sp. T-day/MVMCP 6/10 Ft. Wild Cab; 6/11 POP; 8/12 ASMo; 6/14 CBR Grad Trip
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