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Old 12-26-2006, 08:16 AM   #1
wrldpossibility
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Joy in the World—10 Dec. days with pics!

Hello Gentle Reader,

Considering this is my first trip report, and I have read so many excellent ones over the past year and a half I spent planning this trip, I am a bit intimidated to give it a try. But I’ll just start and you DISers will have to let me know how I’m doing. I’m writing this for my children, to put in their Disney scrapbooks, so I’ll be using real names instead of cute nicknames. Frankly, it’s easier not to have go back and change them. I’ll start, as all trip reports must, with a bit of backstory.

First me. I’m a 30-year-old mom of three boys. I love having boys. I’m definitely a boy mom. If you’re hoping to find tips on how to get into CRT or Jasmine’s autograph in this trippie, you need to move on, because my boys are young enough to be phobic of all things princess. So no pics with Belle (my favorite) for Mommy on this trip. I have always loved Disneyland, which was 30 minutes from where I grew up, but had never seen WDW. I have English and EMT degrees, but only use the EMT right now. I don’t work, but I am an active Search and Rescue EMT volunteer. We live in rural Southern Oregon, which means that in the last 2 months, I have been involved in two high profile searches involving children—a Crater Lake search involving a missing little boy, and the Kim search, which involved a whole little family. Then of course while we were gone, there was the big Mt. Hood search for the climbers. It’s been frustrating and sad and draining, and a tough fall and winter for my home state. I really was ready for this “escape” from the sadness of the world for a while.

My husband is Charlie, and he turned 32 on this trip (stayed tuned for the part about our Gifts of a Lifetime Event we did for him!). He has a business degree and works in sales at Toyota. He is the kindest man you’ll ever meet. He remembers every name and face, is very friendly and outgoing, and everyone always likes him. He’s the kind who will mow the lawn of his elderly clients or send birthday cards to people he met once (yes, it can get annoying--just kidding, I‘m proud to be married to him). When I told him in Aug. 05 that I wanted to go to WDW, he felt we should save our money until the kids were older and would appreciate it more (which is code for “the kids are still too much work at their ages”). I slowly wore him down, because, as I stated, he’s the nicest guy and usually gives me what I really want. What I really wanted was to go before my oldest was too old to enjoy the characters and parades, and while all three would enjoy some of the same things together. We pushed the trip back to Dec. 06, which was a good compromise.

Nate is our oldest. He is 7. He is sensitive and caring and a worrier. He’s always thinking of the next step throughout this trip and trying to figure out the game plan. He’s a planner like me. He’s hesitant sometimes, but also a first-born parent pleaser. He never gives us a moment’s trouble on this trip, truly.

Calvin is 5. Calvin can be an absolute joy or a huge challenge…sometimes within minutes of each other. He is smart and thinks deeply, but is also stubborn and very quick to anger. He’s the type who will trip over a curb and get mad, kick the curb and hard as he can, and hurt his foot for days. But he also dreams about butterflies, and draws them whenever he can. He also loves to sing. Go figure. He’s an athlete and strong, but we discover on this trip that he gets cranky in crowds. He also gets cranky when hot or hungry. Calvin is high maintenance. We love him.

Tobias (Toby) turned 2 four days before this trip. He is used to traveling around (we travel quite a bit) and used to going along with the lives of his brothers. He is as obedient as a 2 yo can be, but active, active, active. If his feet are on the ground, he is running. If they’re not, he’s asking to be put down. He walked more of WDW than strolled. Most the time, we were pushing the empty stroller just in the vain hope he’ll get in it. Toby has been slow to talk (has anyone else noticed that’s a third child phenom?), but made great strides in WDW. It’s been fun to watch. He loves his big brothers, and they love him. They are both very nurturing and caring of him. If it were legal, I could probably safely let them babysit!

We also invited along my parents on this trip. We travel a lot with them, and they usually pay. Now, we were in a position to be able to afford a nice vacation, so we wanted to give back. Ok, really, we wanted Grandma and Grandpa to come because they will help with the kids at every turn! They are in their mid-50s, active, and consider their grandchildren their “hobby”. They live 10 minutes from us, and spend tons of time with them. My mom, Julie, is a planner like me. Usually she is THE planner. We call it the HBIC in our family (Head Boss In Charge). Sometimes during a holiday or trip and you’re less than thrilled with the leadership, you can exchange the “Boss” part for another “b” word. But this trip is my baby. So I get the HBIC title. It’s both an honor and a curse. My dad, Jerry, is active on the brink of hyper. He has tons of energy. He loves Disneyland--he has a great story about being there for opening day as a child, and being turned away because they were at max capacity, and crying all the way home. Nice, feel-good story! I knew he’d be excited for WDW (he’d never been either).

My first challenge in planning this trip is when to go. No one in my family quite understands how important the time of year is. Charlie and I picked Dec. because Toby would be 2, and with our kids, they always seem to hit the “terrible 2s” at age 1, and are mostly over it by 2. So that was a plus. Also, our kids take a LONG time to sleep through the night regularly, and 2 seems to be the magic number for that too. But when we first broached the WDW idea to my parents, my dad wanted to go in summer. They are both teachers, so that made sense. But they both also hate heat and crowds. I tried to explain that both would be there in number. Then they wanted to go after Christmas, during break. Uh, more crowds, Dad. We finally compromised by going 1 week before Christmas break (my kids missed the last week of 2nd and K before the break and had no problems with teachers on that). That way the trip would flow into break, and my parents would miss less. My dad still couldn’t get away from his job for a whole week, so he joined us on Day 4. My mom had all kinds of comp time, so she was able to come the whole time.

Then I proceeded to plan the whole trip. It’s not that I didn’t welcome help, but no one else seemed to get how many choices there were and how big Disney was. We had a family meeting and I talked for an hour while everyone else just stared. Everyone else was frozen in inaction. I spent countless hours on the DIS and TGM (yes, we are TGMers, and I’ll review how I thought that went for us, too). I changed my mind on the resort four times (WL, then POR, then AKL, then back to POR). Because I knew it was hard for newbies to figure everything out, I used Dreams Unlimited. In hindsight, I did so much research I could have done most of it myself just fine, but my agent, Ann, was great and she did get me a Visa card discount right away for over $500. So I may have missed that. Anyway, bit by bit I settled on the resort, the DDP, and what day to do each park. I collected M&M tubes for quarters and pennies (pressed penny machines), autograph books, pins on Ebay so they could trade, lanyards, quart-sized zip locks, dollar store ponchos, made t-shirts, the whole enchilada. Every DIS trick I read I wrote into my planning notebook. Every pathway TGM described I mapped out. Did I mention I was a planner?

Then fall of 06 hit and I had lots of “real life” events that kept me very busy. School started, Search and Rescue was very busy, I had to prepare for Christmas ahead of time, and we had my dad’s and Toby’s birthday right before the trip. Before I knew it, I was posting that I had only 1 month to go, 1 week to go, one day to go. Whoohoo!

Sunday Dec. 10th: Travel Day

It’s finally here. We’re all packed, the dog is at her dog sitter’s house for her vacation from us, we’re ready for Christmas when we return. I set the alarm for 4:15 am. The good part about leaving from a tiny rural airport is that there are only 2 gates, only one waiting area, and a short security line. You only have to be there about 45 minutes before your flight. The bad part is that you have to take a very early flight so you can connect at a bigger airport. That and little airports = expensive flights. Today we’re flying to Seattle, then to Orlando. I have put the kids to bed in the clothes they will wear today, so all I have to do is get myself ready, push Charlie awake (he is NOT a morning person, I am), and pile the kids in the car. My parents pull up (my dad volunteered to drive us to the airport at this hour so we wouldn’t have to leave a car or call a cab…remember, he has to work and join us a few days later) and we’re off.

The day is uneventful, which is just what you want on a travel day. We lug the Britax carseat through all three airports, even though Toby will not use it for the next 10 days (we’re putting our fate in the hands of Disney transportation). But he needs it on the airplanes to stay put, so it’s worth hauling it around. The flight to Seattle is 1 hour, then we have a 6 hour flight to Orlando. The kids were great. They are used to air travel, and we’ve brought a whole backpack of distractions. We also have our carry-on with pjs and swimsuits, and that infamous little quart-sized baggie with 3 oz. liquids we all have to figure out now. I truly cannot remember anything eventful about the flights, which is a good thing. This time last year, when Toby was 1, we flew to San Diego, had to circle the airport for some reason for an extra hour, and Toby and I spent most the time in the tiny bathroom, where I let him unroll toilet paper. Terrible yes, but I was desperate…and trust me, the other passengers would rather have had no toilet paper than hear that kiddo scream to get out of his seat. Anyway, this trip was much better!

We arrived at MCO at 5 pm EST. So it really only felt like 2 pm to us. I am now officially the HBIC. This is my territory…what I have planned for and studied. I lead my little family through the airport toward ME—and immediately go downstairs on the wrong side of the main terminal. We see the ME buses dropping people off, but no ME desk. I know I’ve messed up. My first mission, and I’ve dragged my whole family (and the carseat we’re still lugging) down the wrong side. Back up the elevator we go, and down the correct side. Is it A or B? I still can’t remember. We finally find the ME desk, and I feel overwhelmed and like a failure already. No one else cares. There’s no line, and I check us in. We get stamped and everything is settled. There are about 15 other people in the lines for the buses, and we only wait about 5 minutes before getting on ours (it is going to OKW, POFQ, and POR). We have our pick of seats, and happily sit down to watch the movie. The kids are thrilled with their first Disney bus ride. Toby is in heaven. No car seat! The adults are not so much in heaven because he is trying to bounce from seat to seat, crawl over the seats, and generally cause mayhem. It will turn out that it takes us the majority of the trip to teach him to stay seated on the buses. But he’s a happy boy.

We arrive at POR by 6 and are the only people checking in. The kids sit down to watch the old Disney cartoons in the lobby (which they continue to love the whole trip…they have never seen those older ones) and I check in. I have to immediately confuse the check in CM (and now you, the reader) because we have a confusing request. You see, because my dad is coming later, and my mom wanted to come now, we have our package for our family of 5, then their own package starting when my dad arrives. In the meantime, we have a room-only ressie for my mom (but in our name). We hope it can be an adjoining room, and that when their package starts, it can remain the SAME room. Does that makes sense? Amazingly, it did to the CM, and she had us all settled in minutes. (The only confusion was that the room-only ressie was in Charlie’s name with my mom’s name as secondary, so the poor CM kept referring to it as “Julie and Charlie’s room”, which made us crack a bunch of jokes about my husband and mother shacking up on vacation before HER husband arrives. Yes, we are twisted like that.) We are in Building 36, which is a hike to the Riverside Mill and pool, but we don’t care much. We don’t mind walking. I also didn’t want to seem ungrateful after the CM helped with the room situation so much. We are adjoining and we are happy. I ask about my Garden Grocer order, and she doesn’t have any idea what that company is. Hmm. But she checks, and it’s all there. Bell services will bring it to the room later. Perfect. We get my mom 2 day base tickets to hold her over until her package starts, and we’re off.

We go check out our rooms, which take a while for us to find. When we find them, we’re happy. (We are generally happy, easygoing people, and something has to be BAD for us to complain.) We have a pool view (we have paid for water view and I was kind of hoping it would be a river view), but it turns out great because the kids love having “their own pool” right outside the door. We are on the bottom floor. I was worried it would get noisy at night, but no one else every used the pool, that we could see or hear. We leave our carry-ons in the room and head to Riverside Mill for our first dinner (and first attempt using dining credits).

We got to RM about 7. It was uncrowned (this is a good trend). At our first attempt, we find it confusing to try to get all the elements of the DP CS meal for all of us, all at once. I am holding too many trays, asking the kids what they want, and trying to corral Toby, who is of course running. Come to think of it, where were my mom and Charlie? Hmm. Probably just peacefully getting their own meals. I quickly learned to have one adult and the kids go sit by the lego/coloring table at the back of RM while I get their meals, then trade and get the other meals. But I did not yet know about the wonderful lego table. So we stumble around and finally have all the CS meals settled. Calvin had a mini-meltdown at one point because he wanted a cheese quesadilla and it wasn’t on the kid menu. I thought we had to stick to the kid menu. I learned that some places they’ll let you order anything for the kids, and some won’t. Luckily, RM would. He got his food he wanted, which he turned out not to like (too crispy). Nate got the mac and cheese, which was fine, and Toby shared. I got the vegetable sandwich, which was pretty bad (but the homemade chips were great). I won’t order that again. I don’t remember what my mom got, but I’ll just do overviews of the meals here (I have a dining review up right now too). The kids and I are vegetarian, and the others eat meat, just FYI.

After dinner we returned to our room and our bags were there. A few minutes later, our Garden Grocer order was delivered. Unfortunately, not all of it, though. Bell services hadn’t seen the additional bag we had in their fridge. I called, and it was brought immediately. Double tip for that guy, at least. Garden Grocer was great. We had bought cereal, milk, juice boxes, granola bars, yogurts, and goldfish. All used and saved us some $$ on breakfasts. Because our bags came so quickly, we could have skipped bringing the extra carry-on on the plane, but oh well! We changed into swimsuits and all went to Ol Man Island. Yes, from Oregon, the Florida night seemed very balmy. We were some of the only people at the pool. We had fun, and returned to the room by 9. My kids (and I) are early-to-bed, early-to-rise types (the kids are usually up by at least 6 at home), so the time change was working in our favor. (That would turn ugly when we went home, the kids are adjusted to EST, and get up at 3:30 am for 2 days in a row…but that’s everyday life report, not a trip report, and who wants to read that?) Still, we had gotten up at 4 Pacific time, and were beat from the travel day. The kids had a surprise waiting for them from Pluto (he’s their favorite character and left a note in the door every morning of our trip). On this first night, he had left Mickey pajamas and their first note. (To picture it, all the notes were typed in Disney font on parchment paper and sealed with candle wax. They also had Pluto‘s paw print for a siggie and Mickey head punch outs along the bottom. Very official-looking, if I do say so myself.) This is what he said:

Dear Nate, Calvin, and Toby,

I am so glad you’re here! Welcome to Disney World! You are three of my favorite kids! Calvin, do you remember when I licked your face at Disneyland?! I hope you had fun seeing your hotel room, exploring Port Orleans, and eating some dinner! Now, I want to remind you of some rules here at my house:

1. Try new things! This means new foods, new rides, and new places!

2. There’s no whining or crying at Disney World! Say “ok” the first time!

3. Always stay near your family! You should be able to see your Mom, Dad, or grandparents ALL the time!

4. Spend your money carefully! There are lots of treats here, so wait to make sure something is what you REALLY want!

I’ll be writing to you every day! I can’t wait to see you. When you read your letter from me tomorrow, you’ll know exactly when that is!

Pluto


I should explain that the boys’ Christmas present from mom and dad was $100 each to spend at WDW. (Of course that does not include Santa.) Also, Calvin can be a wanderer, so we’d drilled them with safety rules—they also each wore a silicone bracelet with our cell phone # engraved on it. Here are the kids in our room with their new pjs:




We were all in bed by 10 (7 our time). My plan was to NOT race out to a park first thing in the morning in case the kids slept in due to the time change. Will it happen? Stay tuned…

Up next, Chef Mickey’s, our first monorail ride, and Epcot!
__________________
My 10-Day December Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1305623

Amy , DH , DS 8 , DS 6 , DS 2

Many trips to DL growing up
First family trip to DL March 04
First family trip to WDW Dec. 06, POR
DLR, Aug. 5-7 07, staying at Disneyland Hotel
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Old 12-26-2006, 08:47 AM   #2
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Quote:
I don’t work, but I am an active Search and Rescue EMT volunteer. We live in rural Southern Oregon, which means that in the last 2 months, I have been involved in two high profile searches involving children—a Crater Lake search involving a missing little boy, and the Kim search, which involved a whole little family.
I don't remember hearing about the Crater Lake search, but the Kim search saddened me SO MUCH. It hit too close to home.

On a MUCH happier note, I love your report so far! We are in the process of planning a May trip with my parents and I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes for you!!

And this is BRILLIANT!!

Quote:
Dear Nate, Calvin, and Toby,

I am so glad you’re here! Welcome to Disney World! You are three of my favorite kids! Calvin, do you remember when I licked your face at Disneyland?! I hope you had fun seeing your hotel room, exploring Port Orleans, and eating some dinner! Now, I want to remind you of some rules here at my house:

1. Try new things! This means new foods, new rides, and new places!

2. There’s no whining or crying at Disney World! Say “ok” the first time!

3. Always stay near your family! You should be able to see your Mom, Dad, or grandparents ALL the time!

4. Spend your money carefully! There are lots of treats here, so wait to make sure something is what you REALLY want!

I’ll be writing to you every day! I can’t wait to see you. When you read your letter from me tomorrow, you’ll know exactly when that is!

Pluto
Great report - You sound like my kind of planner!!
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What I learned from the DIS - Spring Break 2006 (with pics!!)

Are We Turkeys? - Thanksgiving 2006 at WDW

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Old 12-26-2006, 09:32 AM   #3
MomofCKJ
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Looking forward to your report! We were there Dec 15-22 and I recognize you from TGM (TGM-er here too!). I am planning to start my report later today, need to upload pictures!

Can't wait for more!
Allyson
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Old 12-26-2006, 09:44 AM   #4
wrldpossibility
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Thanks guys! I can't wait to read your report too Allyson! It's fun to read different prospectives on the same time period!
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My 10-Day December Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1305623

Amy , DH , DS 8 , DS 6 , DS 2

Many trips to DL growing up
First family trip to DL March 04
First family trip to WDW Dec. 06, POR
DLR, Aug. 5-7 07, staying at Disneyland Hotel
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Old 12-26-2006, 12:14 PM   #5
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Monday, Dec. 11th:

Note from Pluto left in the door:

Dear Nate, Calvin, and Toby,

I hope you got a good night’s sleep last night! Today is going to be FUN!

Today you’ll ride the monorail when your adventure begins,
Then eat lunch with me and my friends!
Next head to Epcot (there’s so much to do),
You can eat with fishes and and talk to a turtle, too!

Pluto

So we were hoping to sleep in. Did we? If you go by Eastern time, yes! Toby woke at 7:45 (4:45 our time). Could we have still gone to a park at rope drop? Yes, but it was still nice to relax. Nate and Calvin woke at 8:30, so we were glad to have stayed put for the morning. We gave the boys a bowl of cereal, since it would be a while before eating at 10:30 at Chef Mickey’s. We let them watch TV, and rolled out the door at 9:15. We wanted to have plenty of time to try out the transportation. We looked at our map and discovered that the North Depot was very close to our room, so we tried that one out. It was great. Hardly anyone waiting, so no stress (I get stressed out when I see a big crowd waiting for something.) The MK bus came right away, and we enjoyed seeing the WDW grounds in the daylight. I should stop for a moment to say how impressed we were with POR. It was lush and quiet and peaceful. We loved the pool area, but I especially enjoyed the theming around the main buildings. One reason we (I) chose POR was the theme. We were tempted by WL, but that’s the architecture we already see (and love) near our home. We wanted something that spoke of the south, and we got it. For our entire stay, we had nothing bad to say about POR; the grounds or the service.

We got in line for the monorail, and I remembered that we could ask to sit in the front section with the driver. I asked, but when the monorail came, the compartment was full. No biggie. We enjoyed zooming into the CR for the first time, and easily found Chef Mickey’s (you’ll quickly learn that while I studied WDW as if I were back in college, I am still very directionally challenged—a cross I have to bear in life).

We checked in at CM and took our picture. We were given a buzzer and waited only a few minutes before being seated. The boys could spot the characters across the room, and were SO excited. We didn’t know what Toby would think, but he was waving and yelling “hi” and “here” over and over. We went to the buffet and the boys settled on Mickey waffles, fruit, and eggs for the most part. I liked the breakfast pizza and some kind of frittata. I didn’t eat much, because I spent all my time getting the kids to eat something and getting my camera out. We saw all the characters pretty quickly, and the kids loved it. When Pluto came around, the boys gave him little notes they had written him to thank him for the letters. He played it off well, and kept the notes in his pocket. Very cute. Toby loved the characters, but got very shy when they came close. He was excited to give them his autograph book to sign (he must have had no idea what this is about), but then couldn’t look them in the face when they were hugging him or taking a pic. So in all my pics, he’s looking down at his feet. He looks miserable, but in fact was having a great time.

We were done at CM’s by 11:30, bought our family picture (you’ll see we’re suckers for these) and made our way around the monorail to get to Epcot. Before leaving the CR, I asked again about the front compartment, and the CM told me to ask at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Charlie and my mom looked at her blankly, but I, our source of Disney knowledge, did not drop the ball. I filled everyone in that we were headed on the monorail to the TTC (I even said TTC…the DIS has gotten me in the habit of using acronyms for everything), then switching monorails. At this point, I’m still trying to make up for my ME desk blunder in MCO.

We get to the TTC, and low and behold, we are able to ride in the front. Well, four of us—so the kids and I do. Here’s a pic:



The monorail driver (or is it conductor?) is great. He gives the boys “transportation cards” that look like sport trading cards. They have the monorail on one side, and stats about it on the back. He tells us these are new, and there are cards for buses, monorails, boats, and trains. We can collect them all! That’s all the boys need to hear: they love to collect things.

At Epcot the monorail wraps around through the park and the kids are eyeing all the attractions. I’m just scanning the crowds…how crowded will it be? While planning, I was very worried about this day because we were getting to our first park in the afternoon. I didn’t want our first experience to be with crowded rides, but I also didn’t want to force the kids (or Charlie) up early. So as I scan the crowds, I’m wondering, “How long are the lines?” “Is mid-Dec. really less crowded like the UG says (oh yes, I‘ve read them all), or getting more so like the wise DISers say?”

At this point, I have to pause and explain to you readers why we’re headed to Epcot instead of MK. It’s because I’m trying to be a faithful follower of TGM. Epcot is a “green” day (I think I can reveal that here because this day has already passed, right fellow TGMers?), and MK is not. I figured if I had to enter a park in the afternoon, it had better be a green one. Our plan is to try to do Nemo at least, then whatever we want until dinner at Coral Reef. No strict plan, since I didn’t know how crowded it would be.

As it turns out, there are very few crowds, and as we head to Nemo, it states there is a 15 minute wait. It turns out that this first line will be the longest we wait in all trip. Not bad, I think! We wait a moment for Charlie to get FP for Soarin’, then jump in line. I think it’s really less than 15 minutes. Just enough time to enjoy the line, then we’re on. I thought it was cute. Not blow-you-away awesome, but cute. The older boys enjoyed it (it was a great first ride to start with), and Toby LOVED it. He was the kiddo we didn’t think would get as much out of WDW, and he’s proving to love everything the most!

We exited and checked out the line for Turtle Talk. It looked long, and I knew we wanted to be in the front to get a good seat, so we decided to come back later. I just wanted the kids to not have lines as much as possible. Instead, we went over to M:S. The older kids, my mom, and Charlie all decided to do the “easy” version. They all loved it. The boys got very worried about pushing their buttons (they really thought they could mess it up). Toby and I played in the tubes at the exit of the ride by the video games. I hate dark video game areas (and Charlie loves them as much as I hate them), but the playspace was nice. When the others came out, the older boys wanted to stop and play, and Charlie tried a few games (told you).

At this point, there was no wait for Test Track, so I tried to talk the boys into it, but they both chickened out. I have to stop and say that Calvin had me measuring him every week since summer to make sure he’d hit the 44” mark before our trip. Watching the planning video, he was determined to go on Test Track, Tower of Terror, and Splash, to name a few. Well, let’s just say we needn’t have bothered. He opted out of all those rides. Charlie, my mom, and I didn’t really care much about TT, so we skipped it altogether this day and headed in search of a snack. It was in the high 70s, and we Oregonians were not used to it. The boys were hot and getting hungry after eating next to nothing at CM. I knew Sunshine Seasons would be a good bet for our family, so we headed for The Land. (You notice we keep crossing back and forth in the park, which is a no-no and gets you very tired.) We are just not oriented yet. On our way, we passed the character connection, and the boys wanted to get autographs. We stopped to do that (no lines), and the boys traded pins with Cms, which was fun, but still should have eaten our snack first. By the time we got to The Land, Calvin was losing it he was so thirsty, and darn it, I can’t find Sunshine Seasons. I have this thing I do sometimes when my kids are super hungry or thirsty (or what have you) and I can’t meet their needs. I seem to go into this super maternal mode. I get very stressed and borderline frantic. I try not to, because it’s ridiculous…they’re not starving. But I can’t seem to help it. So we’re at the upstairs entrance to The Land, so you experienced DISers know that SS is right below us (out of view). All I know is that I read SS is in here, and I can’t find it. Toby is starting to cry. I start getting frustrated and frantic looking at the map. Charlie calmly walks to the other side and looks down. There it is. He’s practical like that. I’m not. We head down and use 7 snack credits right off the bat. It’s worth it. I got these great pesto wraps, the kids get fruit bowls and lemonade, and the others get drinks. All is right with the world. After that, we learned to take breaks before we’re about to lose it.

We had a few minutes until our Soarin’ FP started, so we went on Living with the Land. It’s peaceful and perfect for us. This is the kind of ride my kids like. They’re weird that way. They loved seeing the mickey ear pumpkins. Toby loved riding in a boat. Win-win. After the ride, Toby is ready to fall asleep, so my mom takes him on a little walk-around in the stroller so he can nap, and the rest of us ride Soarin’. Charlie and I had done this one at California Adventure, and loved it just as much this time. Nate and Calvin also loved it (they were worried). Then, with the help of our cell phones, we found my mom and sleeping Toby (he sleeps easily) outside The Land and gave her her FP. She went on Soarin’ and the boys explored a store with Charlie while I sat with Toby. Nate used $20 of his money to buy a huge trading pin, which he wore with pride for two days before it grew too heavy. That’s how big it was. We called it his “bling”. I know we could have used the baby swap for Soarin’, but we were content with this system. It turns out we’d only use the baby swap once in the trip. As a side note, I noticed a lot of Cms educating people about baby swap, especially when kids were going on rides “against their will” (which is a sin as a parent, IMO). There are even signs saying “Let them decide” or something like that. It must be a big problem.

We walked over to Figment, and they loved that one too. By this time Toby was awake, and we all went on Spaceship Earth. It was walk-on (as was Figment), and the kids wanted to know what was in “the ball”. This again, was their type of ride. They went twice (snooze). Luckily we had to tear ourselves away to make our 6:10 dinner ADR at Coral Reef.

Now I have to apologize. I read all the bad reviews of Coral Reef, and yet, I still kept my ADR. Why, oh why didn’t I listen, oh wise DIS board? Why didn’t I follow my instincts and eat CS? We had our worst meal (maybe ever, really) on that first day. I know some of you love Coral Reef, but we really hated it. And remember, we don’t complain easily. We got there and were seated within 10 minutes. I have to say I expected the aquariums to surround all the tables in a circle, not just in the front, but it was fine, because we got a pretty good table in the second tier. We enjoyed watching the huge sea turtle and the divers for a while. Then we began to wonder where our waiter was. It was 20 minutes before he brought menus, and when he did, he literally slapped them down and walked away. We were stunned. Charlie wondered aloud if this is how DDP costumers are treated everywhere, and I started to worry too. He eventually came back for our drink orders, and we did notice that he didn’t speak English very well. We tried to excuse his behavior, which was sharp and rude the whole night, based on the language barrier, but I don’t think that was it. But it’s a consideration, anyway. We ordered, and got our salads (and veggies for the kids) fairly quickly. But then we waited, no joke, 55 minutes for our entrees. By this time, Toby is DONE sitting here, and I don’t blame him. I take him outside to look at the “mine, mine” seagulls outside of Nemo. We check every once in a while for our food. When it comes, the boys’ pizzas have chicken on them (we ordered just cheese, which he seemed to understand at the time). We can understand the language problem, so this would have been no biggie, but it had taken so long to get here! By now Toby is whimpering with hunger, and I have to send the pizzas back. They won’t eat them with the chicken, and it’s too much to pick off. Meanwhile, my mom eats her salmon, and it is raw in the center. She cannot eat it. Charlie’s steak is also raw (he asked for well done). I am still playing with Toby waiting for the pizzas. 20 minutes later, they come, and the boys eat. Toby eats, then wants out of his seat again. My mom takes him out and I eat. I have to be fair and say the veggie strudel was very good. Usually the veggie dish at a seafood or steak place is terrible, and I was expecting that, but it was good. We had to wait for dessert, because we’d promised the boys the make-your-own sundaes. When ordering, the waiter asks about the steak and salmon, and we explain they were raw in the middle. He tries to say salmon is supposed to be. No. We are from the northwest…we know how to prepare salmon. He offers to bring a new one, but we decline…it just takes too long and the kids need to get going. We get dessert which is good. Meanwhile, Toby has ridden Nemo two more times, so bonus for him! The other boys are wilting in their seats after almost a 2 hour meal at the end of the day, but they are good and hang in there. In the end, the waiter comped my mom’s salmon, even though we didn’t ask him to. That was nice. Maybe it was just an off night with an off waiter, but that meal made us very worried about the rest of our TS meals. As it was, my poor mom was sick all night from the salmon.

We headed out and home on the bus. We were frustrated, because before that long meal, we were feeling pretty rested and together. Now, the kids were beyond tired. To make matters worse, we got off on the wrong bus stop, got disoriented in POR, and walked forever to find our rooms. Duh! So our first day seemed very long and tiring toward the end. We vowed to make sure we took breaks BEFORE we thought we’d need them from then on. And in a moment of panic about TS, I cancelled our ’Ohana ADR for the next day. I thought we’d rather just eat two CS meals. In the end, it was a good decision for other reasons, but we never had another bad TS meal, so we probably would have been fine!

Up next, MK and Wishes!
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My 10-Day December Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1305623

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First family trip to DL March 04
First family trip to WDW Dec. 06, POR
DLR, Aug. 5-7 07, staying at Disneyland Hotel
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Old 12-26-2006, 12:48 PM   #6
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can't wait to read more.
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Old 12-26-2006, 04:49 PM   #7
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TGM-Member here too.

I was so tempted to try to the Choral Reef, but I have not made my ADR.

Anyway, I to heard about the climbers and I know they stopped looking for the last 2 climbers. How sad-it seemed to be in the news everyday with hope and now we don't hear anything.
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Old 12-26-2006, 05:50 PM   #8
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OhMari,

Yes, that search was sad. It wasn't in my county, so I would not have been a part of it even if we were home, but I read the paper every day in WDW to get news on it. There comes a time when searches must end, for the safety of the searchers, when all probable chance is gone. It's a tough situation.
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Amy , DH , DS 8 , DS 6 , DS 2

Many trips to DL growing up
First family trip to DL March 04
First family trip to WDW Dec. 06, POR
DLR, Aug. 5-7 07, staying at Disneyland Hotel
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Old 12-26-2006, 05:54 PM   #9
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Wonderful report so far, can't wait to see how the rest of your trip went.

Thanks!
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Old 12-26-2006, 07:17 PM   #10
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Tues. Dec. 12th:


Dear Nate, Calvin, and Toby,

I loved seeing you yesterday at Chef Mickey’s!

Today head straight to the castle and ride some rides!
Fight some pirates and learn how to fly.
In the evening there’s something new to try:
race with coconuts and see fireworks light up the sky!

Pluto


We had vowed to take it a bit easier today, not criss-crossing through the park or pushing it too far. I’d say we did well. We were able to get up earlier, thanks to going to bed early the night before and being a bit more adjusted to EST. We had breakfast in our rooms and were ready to catch the MK bus at 8:15 for rope drop. We did this morning by the book…any book. They all say to get there by rope drop and get to Fantasyland ASAP if you have little children in tow. We arrived in time to see the opening ceremony at the train station, which nearly made me cry. Why? I have no idea. I never got to DL in time to see this as a child, and I was just so glad my kiddos got to. They enjoyed it, but I don’t think anyone else shed a tear. Their loss.

Anyway, we got to Fantasyland and headed straight to Dumbo. Why? Because you have to, that’s why. It’s a staple of the Disney canon, and must be done. There was a 5 minute wait. No problem, except that I’m constantly stressing about the OTHER FL rides, you know, the good ones, that are completely empty right now. Toby loves Dumbo. It turns out that he loves all the circular up, down, and around rides. Aladdin and Triceratop Spin are high on his list too. Once we’ve taken the obligatory picture of Toby waving from high above FL in his little elephant, we cross Dumbo off our list and head for Pooh. Another winner. I love this ride. At the exit, my mom subcombs to the Disney marketing pull and buys Toby a Pooh baseball hat with Pooh ears. It’s very cute. As a side note: my mom has very specific rules pertaining to the buying she can do for the kids. Otherwise, she will spoil them rotten…and I do mean rotten. They have their aforementioned spending money, and in addition, my mom is allowed to buy hats, t-shirts, and any stocking stuffers. That’s it. She tries to break the rules many times, but Charlie and I are cold as stone. We have very specific categories of souvenirs, and a budget for each. Otherwise we know we’ll buy too much junk and have whiny, spoiled, entitled kiddos. And THAT’S not a picture I want to see in the scrapbook.

So now Toby has his parent-approved hat and we go to Peter Pan. Another favorite. IMO, you really can’t go wrong at FL unless it’s really crowded. It’s not. We walk on all these rides. Next we see Small World, and Nate wants to try it. All the adults make cynical, sarcastic comments. We all hate Small World, but for Nate we go. And go again, because he has fallen in love with it. I told you he’s sensitive and sweet. We even bought the ride music later in the trip (that fell under the “family souvenir“ category, if you‘re wondering). Now you know we really are insane.

We moved on to the teacups and Pooh again. Still no lines at all. I don’t know if this is because it’s a “green day” or just the time of year, but we’re loving it. I try to get everyone to go to Philharmagic, but no one gets what it is, and since DL doesn’t have it, everyone balks. Not a very adventuresome group, I tell ya. It’s almost 10, so we decide to head over to Toontown.

On the way, we see Chicken Little. Nate and Calvin liked that movie, so we stop and get autographs. Toby loves characters and autographs, so he gets his little book out and is game. They were wearing cute Disney shirts with their names on them (thanks NickandJuliasmom!!) and Chicken Little made a big deal about them. Here’s a pic of their shirts, taken that morning outside our room:



We arrived at Toontown just a few minutes after 10, and Charlie, Nate, and Calvin go on the barnstormer (we don’t have that at DL either, but we do have the Go-Go Coaster, which I told them is similar, and they love that). Barnstormer is a hit. In the meantime, Toby, my mom and I have toured Minnie’s house (Toby was annoyed that he couldn’t move any of the objects in her house) and were playing at the little play area. My kids love play areas, and I spent a lot of time convincing them we needed to do rides when the lines were non-existent instead of playing. They didn’t want to get autographs, since we’d gotten this group’s twice already, at character connection and CM. Instead, we headed to the railroad station to take the train around to Frontierland. Today, we’re following our touring plan almost to the letter, and it’s working for us, baby.

When the train arrives, the boys decide they want to sit in the very back. It turns out to be a wise choice, because the conductor back there asks them if they’d like to yell “All Aboard” into the microphone. Of course they do! They do a great job.



They ask if she has the transportation cards, and why yes, she does! Now they have two of the four, if you’re keeping track along with them. It doesn’t take long to wrap around to FL, and we get off. First we check out Splash…wait time, 5 minutes. Then Thunder…10 minutes. We decide to try the baby swap at Thunder. It works great. First Charlie, Nate, and I go (Calvin just couldn’t get himself to go, which is too bad, because I know he would have enjoyed it. He said, “My brain is telling me I’ll fall out.”). Can’t argue with Calvin’s brain, so off we go with my mom watching Toby and Calvin. The line is more like 5 minutes, and we’re out in no time. Nate loved it. It’s his favorite from DL when he was 4. Still a top 5, I’d guess. We swap, so that my mom goes with Charlie and Nate again. This time they go through the FP line (baby swap). It works great. Charlie and I want to do Splash, but we get no takers from the others. Nate and Calvin took one look at the drop and crossed it off their lists. My mom isn’t a big ride person. So she takes them over to Aladdin and the treehouse and Charlie and I ride Splash alone. Not the most mature date activity, but we’ll take it. We love Splash, and don’t even get very wet.

We meet back up and head to Columbia Harbor House for lunch. It’s 11:30. When we get in line, there’s hardly anyone there, but by the time we have food it’s getting full. I conjure up my Disney knowledge from the deep recesses of my brain, and tell them all to go upstairs. There, it’s empty. Literally. We grab a table and relax. Nate and I liked the veggie chili, but the first thing I do is spill it on my white tank top. Lovely. To this day I’m trying to get the stain out. Calvin gets his tried and true mac and cheese, and Toby shares it. The kids all love the sugar-free jello they give them for dessert. They end up eating that all vacation. Go figure. In fact, we have no complaints about the kid menu in general. Some places I ordered them adult choices, but when not, they always got mac and cheese or pizza. No biggie when you’re on vacation.

After lunch we force ourselves to head back “home” to POR. We’re not too tired (yet), so we fight it, but we march ourselves out of there. It was a good decision. It doesn’t take long to get back to POR at that hour; the bus is nearly empty. We arrive back and I lay Toby down for his nap. As long as he has his sippy of milk and his beloved paci (judge away, but we can’t get it away from him yet), he’ll fall asleep whenever and wherever. The other boys put on swim suits and we all hit the pool (Charlie stays back and naps with Toby…he can sleep anywhere and anytime too). I spent almost an hour in the hot tub, loving life. Toby woke after about 1 ½ hours, and Charlie brought him over to swim (Toby loves to swim…can’t do it, but loves to try). The baby pool there was great. We bought a few noodles ($3...a Disney bargain!) and he played in there most of the time. It was warm enough for us as long as we could take breaks in the hot tub. At 3 we dragged ourselves away from Ol Man Island, changed and grabbed a snack. We were at the bus stop by 3:30 to head back to MK.

I’ll stop here and say that one mistake I made when planning this trip was to purchase park hoppers. I love park hoppers at DL, where the two parks are so close, and for some reason I envisioned us hopping a lot here too. We didn’t. In fact, we hopped only twice. So with a little planning, I could have saved money on that. Live and learn.

Getting back to MK took a little longer than anticipated, because there were several scooters they needed to load. I will not get into a handicapped/scooter debate with you fine people (I have seen the aftermath of that before on the DIS), but I will say that regardless of whether they are abused/needed, the problem to me seems to lie in how long it takes the driver to get the scooters loaded. It does seem like there could be a faster system. That said, we developed our own system for reducing our wait time if a scooter is loaded at a park heading back to POR. We simply get off at the first stop at POR (we are the 3rd stop usually) to avoid waiting on the bus while it’s unloaded. Sometimes it took over 10 minutes. We walk further, but don’t wait with a squirmy toddler on the bus. If we didn’t have said squirmy toddler, it wouldn’t be a big deal to wait at all. IMO, the whole thing is not a big deal, but maybe that’s because we didn’t experience really crowded buses or long wait times.

Anyway, we’re back at the MK, it’s about 4, and we know we want to see Wishes at 6 that night. So your trusty HBIC is running the numbers in her head: Wishes at 6, find a spot at 5:30, eat dinner at 5, hmmm. Charlie teased me the whole trip for constantly looking at my watch and doing math while walking through parks. But hey, someone had to do it. We decided we had time for Pirates and Jungle Cruise (another family favorite). There was no line for Pirates, and Jungle took about 10 minutes. I will stop here to say that we all really enjoyed the changes to Pirates. It was just enough--not enough change to truly alter our beloved Pirates, but just enough to update it. We are fans of the movies, though, so take that into account.

Turned out we had time for Aladdin again for Toby before going to eat dinner at Peco Bills. This was the night we were supposed to be at ‘Ohana, but now I was glad I cancelled it because we would not have had time to do any other rides or even re-enter MK. We would have tried to see Wishes from ‘Ohana, which would have been fun, but since we have never seen it (gasp, I know…we never stayed for it in DL, because we were there during spring break when we took the kids and it was too darn late…and pre-kids, fireworks were just not on our radar) we wanted to view them in the park. Peco Bills was ok. I know lots of people love it, but the veggie burgers were pretty bad. It’s not hard to make good veggie burgers…you just have to get a decent brand. You can’t mess them up after that. But Charlie and my mom liked their burgers. I made the boys eat half their veggie burgers just so they wouldn’t be hungry. The topping bar was good though, I have to say.

We were done at 5:40 and headed for the castle. I know you’re not supposed to view Wishes right there if you’re a savvy DISer or TGMer. I had been properly trained to go elsewhere, but when we crossed by the castle, the show was just starting. What this show is called I can’t remember…Dreams or Magical Dreams…I’m just guessing here, but it must have the word “magical” in it somewhere, right? Anyway, the kids plopped down right in front of the castle to watch it. All the characters, even princesses (the only ones we’d see all trip), music and dancing. Perfect. I gave up on finding the perfect viewing location and went to get Mickey bars. See, this is one of those times you have to roll with the punches. I had a place I wanted to go to watch, but I hadn’t anticipated the kids would want to watch that show. Even though I’m a planner at heart, I really tried to let the kids be spontaneous when I could…and I was so glad I did. They loved the show and the bars. We used a LOT of wet wipes. After, we moved down the street with everyone else a little bit, and settled down for Wishes. I should mention that the whole time we were finding a spot for the show and getting the snacks, Charlie was begging me to go with him on rides instead, particularly Space Mountain. He views shows, parades, and fireworks as a great time to ride rides. I view them as a great time to take pictures of the kids with rapture on their little innocent faces and cry softly to myself with joy. So thus we differ.

Once Wishes started, even Charlie was amazed. We’d never seen them remember, and now we wonder why we always left before they started. We ended up buying that soundtrack later too, and we listen to it in the car. We decided to leave the park when it was over, along with everyone else. I know lots of people recommend waiting and browsing shops or sitting down until the crowd lessens, but they don’t have Toby in their group. He doesn’t do “browse” or “sit” very well. It didn’t take long to walk down Main Street though, and when we arrived at our bus stop we were amazed to get on the first bus. We were home by 7! We gave the kiddos baths and went to bed early again (yes, we’re pretty boring people—or at least pretty tired people).

Up next, Disney Studies, DTD, and Grandpa arrives
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My 10-Day December Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1305623

Amy , DH , DS 8 , DS 6 , DS 2

Many trips to DL growing up
First family trip to DL March 04
First family trip to WDW Dec. 06, POR
DLR, Aug. 5-7 07, staying at Disneyland Hotel
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Old 12-26-2006, 08:01 PM   #11
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What a great report!!! I'm lovin it!!
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Old 12-26-2006, 08:11 PM   #12
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Great trip report - can't wait to read more!

We are going next December and my husband is giving me "that look" as I started our planning and jotting down notes already!

Looking forward to the next installment!
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Old 12-26-2006, 08:21 PM   #13
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enjoying your report! I have three small boys, too, so it's bringing back lovely memories of our september trip...
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Old 12-26-2006, 08:55 PM   #14
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I'm really enjoying your trip report--I have a 7 year old who seems to be quite similar to your sweet Calvin. Am I allowed to ask a dumb question--what is a TGMer?
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Old 12-26-2006, 09:00 PM   #15
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I'm enjoying your report. The boys are such cuties!
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