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Old 09-25-2006, 11:55 AM   #1
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The Hill Family's Surprise Vac(PICS)*NEW*Final Thoughts,Tips & Pictures **4/25

Trip Dates: September 9 - 17. POP 60's
Free Dining and MNSSHP

We have been to WDW once and had the time of our lives. We had all became Disneyholics. Ever since first trip we have all longed for the mouse and his house. We were so eagar to get back never realizing it would be within a year...

The Cast:

Myself: Queen Mommy, Planner and Keeper of all Schedules, Bargain Shopper, Thrill Rider, the Photographer, Southern Belle, Kid at Heart

DH: Wears Grumpy Shirts but is really Prince Charming, NYer turned Southener but still NYer at heart, Will Do Anything for Italian Food, Clock Watcher, Family Pack Mule, Gem of a Guy

DS12: Fun Lovin' Goofy Kid, Joker, Animal Lover, Sports Enthusiast, Lover of Thrill Rides, Never Meets a Stranger

DD7: Beautiful, Sweet Princess, Singer, Artist, Dancer, Lover of All Things Glitterey and Girly, Diva in Training, Lover of the Mouse, Hidden Mickey Seeker

I believe…..it all started around March. I was on the DIS and noticed the free dining promotion. We had went the previous fall and gotten the same deal and what fun we had.

That was our first trip and we all feel in love with WDW. For months we had talked about it and relived the magic. So when I saw the free dining promo again my heart went pitter-patter. I talked to my DH and we debated all the pros and cons of another Disney Vacation. This promotion would not coincide with our fall break like our previous trip did so the kiddos would be missing more school. Doesn’t the school board know that they are really messing with my WDW vacation when they change the fall dates??? I think I must write a letter…

Anyway, after a bit of thought we decided it was worth it and booked the trip. However, we decided not to tell the kids. We felt this best to keep their head in school and keep them on track, especially DS12. He is in middle school and we knew it would be harder for him. We knew it would be so much fun to surprise them. Let me say…it was incredibly hard not to spill the beans over the next few months.

So over the summer I planned and researched and made ADRs. I talked to teachers, shopped for a few surprises and goodies. I worked on our itinerary, made lists, read TRs and dining reviews on the DIS, made more lists and subbed to TourGuide Mike. My kids started accusing me of being addicted to the computer and really gave me some grief over it. If they only knew. I thought I am going to make them eat their words….

We thought it would be fun to come up with a treasure hunt of sorts. So we came up with 8 different clues written on envelopes and in each envelope I had put a few letters cut out into squares (all in different fonts…just to make it a bit harder). Once they found all of the clues they were to work together at the kitchen table to solve the clue which was “When You Wish Upon a Star” and then I had written a poem to really reveal the surprise. My poem was entitled “Dreams Do Come True”.

So as the Big Reveal drew closer it was so difficult not to tell. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. My DH and I were about to burst… Another difficult aspect of planning a surprise (especially with older kids) is you cannot pack before hand. So the day before our trip (luckily my DH had the day off work) we are running around like crazy people trying to get it all done. Just a side note…this makes for a really tired and rather grumpy travel day. Oh well…

Last edited by cherokeemamma; 04-25-2007 at 10:53 PM. Reason: changing the title
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Old 09-25-2006, 12:14 PM   #2
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The Surprise Day is finally here…
While the kids are at school and we are running around the house like loons, sneaking to their schools to pickup homework, getting everything ready for our house/dog sitter …basically going nuts. We had all of the luggage and packing stuff in our bedroom and when the kids came home from school we closed the door and told them our room was off limits. That under no circumstance should they go in there. We told them we had a really fun surprise for them and part of it was in our room. They started guessing all kinds of stuff – everything from a new pet to a surprise toy to their Aunt was hiding in there. We said “you’ll just have to wait and see”. After the mandatory ‘after school snack’ we told them we had planned a treasure hunt for them.
We gave them some rules about finding the clues…
1) you must work together that it wasn’t a competition
2) no running or racing ahead to find the next clue
3) not to open the envelopes until instructed to do so
4) under no circumstance should they argue or enter our bedroom

Well they were so excited at this point that I thought they were going to burst. They started the hunt and found most of the clues easily and quickly. A couple were more difficult than the others but eventually they figured it all out. The last clue instructed them to work at the kitchen table together to solve the puzzle.
They opened all of the envelopes and spread all of the letters out. They were stumped for a minute or two but then all of a sudden my DD said, “I think it spells out When You Wish Upon A Star”. My DS said “no, it doesn’t” My DH and I looked at each other in disbelief that she had figured it our so quickly. They kept working. I could hardly contain myself any longer and said, “Why don’t you try Allison’s suggestion and see”
Well low and behold, it did spell out When You Wish upon a Star and of course, she got in an “I told you SO!!!” or two.

I still do not think they ‘got it’ so I handed them the poem to read. My DD had grabbed hold of her brother’s arm and as he read it she jumped up and down and squeezed him harder and harder. Here is my poem…
The Kingdom we’re going is magic they say
And we are all going for an eight day stay

For eight days straight pixie dust will do
For fun in the sun and free dining too!

We will meet with Mickey, Goofy and Pooh
We will fly to Mars, see Dinosaurs and Rock on a coaster or two

There will be laughs, squeals, and princesses galore
You really can’t begin to imagine all the fun we have in store

There are Mountains to conquer … space, big thunder and splash too
And let’s not forget that the Yeti is waiting for you

The Pirates will be there along with some Grim Grinning Ghost
But you are the ones we want to be with the Most

We will enjoy parades, shows and wishes
And at the end of each day we will give each other hugs & kisses

You see, this surprise has been in the making for a very long time
We are sure all your homework will be completed, turned in and fine

You guys are extra special…We are sure that you already know
Our love fills more than a kingdom and will continue to grow!!!

It is off to Neverland for one more night
Soon we’ll be seeing the castle and hearing squeals of delight

Now you’ve been sprinkled with magical pixie dust-
It’s off to bed now for sleep is a must!
Now, they got it!!!! They ran up and down the hall and jumped for joy. We got a ton of hugs and kisses and shouts about how much they loved us and how awesome we are.

But they still did not know when we were actually leaving.

My DH asked them, “when do you think we are going?” They answered, “Christmas, Spring Break, my Birthday” We said, “No, we are going in the morning!”. They said What!!!! In the morning!!!! Oh my gosh, We are going to Disney world in the morning!!!!” Well, with that they ran into the front yard cheering, laughing and running around like wild crazy people. We finally told them that we would be flying this time instead of driving and that called for a whole other series of hoots and hollers. Then they opened their goody bags which had a new T-Shirt, Disney dollars, and some pins I had purchased on Ebay for them to trade.

It was awesome and I am so glad we pulled it off. I do not know if I will ever want to do it again though!

We finally finished packing around 1 am and had the clock set for 3:30 am. That’s right ... 2 ½ hours of sleep. I told you we were tired and on the grumpy side.
My Dad took us to the airport and it was truly uneventful with the exception of the Osama Bin Laden security …what a pain. We do not fly often so it probably seemed more inconvenient to us than those who are accustomed to it. The big problem is my DH suffered a brain aneurysm several years ago and it left him with a few struggles; one of which is inflexibility with his legs. So taking off and putting on shoes can be slow if not difficult for him. You know you feel like people are staring at you and they can be very impatient so I think it just really stresses him out more than anything. But who cares…We are on our way to WDW!!!

We arrived in 1 hour and 12 minutes. YIPPEE!!! It was 9:15 in the morning and we were already in Orlando. That was great. I personally loved the Orlando airport. It was my first time there and I thought it was very pretty and clean. We used ME and it was very convenient and quick. My only gripe…and it is my own fault…is that I thought you had the option of getting your luggage or leaving it and they would pick it up instead. I did not realize if you tagged it they took it directly from the plane and you would not have the option of getting it yourself. Big mistake since my DD sneakers were in the suitcase and not the carry on. It all worked out in the end but I had much rather be in charge of my own luggage. If you use ME be aware of that. It is a great and convenient service but it can take several hours to get your luggage.

We arrived at POP Century within 45 minutes.

just after arriving at POP!

The check-In line was huge compared to our last trip but it moved along quickly. Our room was not ready and since we did not have DD sneakers we decided to eat and visit the game room. We could have used the DP but opted to pay OP for lunch. We shared 2 hamburger meals and just sat there zoning out for a while. My DD and DS found a pink wallet that obviously belonged to a child. It had a fair amount of money in it; around $35.00 or so. It was a good time to teach a lesson in honesty so we took it to the concierge and turned it in. I was a little disappointed in the CMs lack of conversation about it. She never even thanked my children for turning it in. They did not need big pats on the back but a little thank you for being honest or something to that effect would have been nice. Then I wondered what she did with it. Would she pocket the money? It really left me with an uneasy feeling.

In the Game Room at POP!
About an hour or so had past since check-in so we checked to see if our luggage had arrived. That was another ½ hour to 45 minute wait. But thankfully our luggage was there. We got my DD sneakers and went to check and see if our room was ready. The CM we spoke to asked, “Why did they put you in a room that wasn’t ready?” We said, “I don’t know.?” He typed and checked this and that and said…”I have a room for you that is ready. It is in the 60’s, is that OK?” We said, “Absolutely, that’s great” So went back to luggage services and informed them that our room was ready. We took our carryons to our room and changed clothes and headed out to the MK.

looking for the castle
It was a beautiful afternoon...just before entering the gates

By this time it was around 2 pm and the MK closed at 6 pm for NOJ. Later that evening, we had ADRs at Chef Mickey’s at 6:40.
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:47 PM   #3
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Wow! How exciting and your poem brought tears to my eyes! I can't wait to read more
Me(32) DH(30) DD(12) DD(11) DS(8) DD(baby)
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Old 09-25-2006, 02:29 PM   #4
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How lucky your kids are with such creative and WDW-loving parents!!! A treasure hunt! What a big fun! I wish i would have seen their thrilled faces when they read the poem.

Great start so far! Already hooked!!
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Old 09-25-2006, 03:49 PM   #5
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Another TR I'm hooked into! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 09-25-2006, 05:36 PM   #6
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Now we enter the kingdom...

It was a very beautiful afternoon. We were thrilled to be there and smiling all the way down Main St. We saw a couple of characters on the way and noticed that they had already removed most of the gold from the castle. It looked kinda naked...still beautiful though.

We had a fun afternoon despite our sleep deprived state. Our first ride was SM (one of my personal fav.), BTMR (I don't like...too rough), Pirates (love it...HUGE JDepp Fan, so I loved the addition as well as the Davy Jones), went to Fantasyland and rode several rides there. Saw Philharmagic, which I think is just fantastic.
It was quickly approaching 6 and the skies suddenly looked stormy. On the way out we stopped to see Ariel. She was sooo funny. She definately stayed in character.

As you can see from the picture she was combing her hair with a dinglehopper! My DD thought that was quite funny.
BTW, everything was walk on. Which was great. I think we waited maybe 5 minutes for Peter Pan. I wasn't sure how the restaurants would be since I had read about how crowded and fully booked they were.

We were so excited to be there and all day my kids kept saying, "We're at Disneyworld!!! Oh my gosh." "I can't believe we are here! This time yesterday we were at school!"

We head out to the monorail and onto the CR. It was really looking stormy now and by the time we got up to the podium at Chef Mickeys it looked like the bottom fell out. It was a rather intense storm. I felt really bad for all of those at NOJ in the rain. I wondered if the groups could still perform in the rain.

We did not do the family picture because we were soooo tired. I felt like I needed toothpicks to hold my eyes open. We were early and they gave us a buzzer thingy to hold. . We went over and sat in a lounge area. My DH and myself could hardly stay awake. I must admit I fell asleep for a few minutes here and there while waiting. We did wait for about 40 minutes. I was so sleepy I really do not recall what I ate. I do remember the desserts being yummy and there was a great selection. Our waiter was awesome...very helpful and quick to fill our drinks. We told him how sleep deprived we were and he said it was probably the best way to be come in there.
Our bill for Chef Mickey: 3 adult and 1 child 127.20.

On Monday I finally remember to start taking pictures of the food. And once I had a good nights sleep I do remember what I ate.

Here are a couple of pictures with the characters. My DD loves Mickey more than anything. She was so excited to see him again.

After dinner we visited the CR gift shop. We had a thing about trying on all the hats!

We left CR and headed to POP. We got in and all of our luggage was there as well as the groceries from gardengrocer.com. We had ordered some milk, yogurt, sting cheese and bottled water as well as 2 styrofoam coolers. We had bought some granola bars, crackers and poptarts from home. I am so glad we ordered the water. We could have done without the milk and probably 1/2 of the cheese and yougurt. It was great having the cold water.

I unpacked and tried to organized all of our stuff in that tiny little room. The room really small but very clean. The beds did seem alot harder than I remembered from the last trip. I also thought the room seemed much nosier. I must say my DH and I did not sleep well all week. I wonder how the beds are at other resorts? Next time we need to find a good deal at a moderate.
Mousekeeping was great and they brought us extra towels whenever we asked.

We put in our wake up call for 7 am. Tomorrow was an Animal Kingdom day. Couldn't wait to ride EE.

Last edited by cherokeemamma; 09-25-2006 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 09-25-2006, 05:53 PM   #7
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I love the poem. Your kids are so adorable! Hopefully I can suprise my DD.
DD 18 And me
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Old 09-25-2006, 06:59 PM   #8
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Your children are beautiful and they look so happy to be at WDW!

Loved your poem and the surprise you gave them ~ magical!
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:03 PM   #9
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subscribing! Super cute report...waiting for more, please!!!. BTW, LOOOVED the surprise!!!!!
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:05 PM   #10
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What a sweet family! Can't wait to read more!!
10/3-10/8 2004 Disneymoon! (CR & BW)
9/30-10/5 2005 POFQ-Free dining!
9/30-10/5 2006 ASMO-Free dining!
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Woot woot! Last minute trip planned 9/28-10/2! Also planning to do the Disney College Program in '09!!!!!!!!

Boo! To You!
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:21 PM   #11
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subscribing for more!
me DH DD10 DS6

8/1990 - Offsite 4/06 - CSR 5/09 - Wyndham Bonnet Creek 4/10 - Poly 8/11 - AKL 8/12 - AKL 6/14 - AKL
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:22 PM   #12
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Oh, what a perfect moment - to surprise your Disney lovin' cherubs with a trip THE NEXT MORNING!!

Enjoying your trip report, adorable, adorable children.
April 2002 Orange Lake
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April 2005 Pop Century
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April 2006 Pop Century
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:40 PM   #13
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This is my first report so thank you all for the encouraging comments!!!! It has been fun writing the report. I have let the kids read it and they get all excited again.
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:52 PM   #14
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Great report - I bet the kids were pinching themselves! What a surprise!

I have a strange tendency to pay attention to the background and had to laugh at this pic:
Originally Posted by cherokeemamma
Is that girl getting ready for a hundred meter hurdle?! In training for the rope drop?!
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:57 PM   #15
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we just missed u,

bummer, we left the 10th.....
great report and fun reading about the surprise!
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