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Old 12-31-2006, 01:26 PM   #1
j_lehr
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Christmas with Tour Guide Mike! - A Trip Report with pics *Updated 3/18/07*

Hello & Thanks for stopping to (hopefully) read our trip report. Although this is my 2nd "DIS" trip, this is the first time I have attempted to write a report. I am an accountant during the day, although studying to become a math teacher. Either way, writing isn't really in the job description. Therefore, I must give the following disclaimer: I am a rambler! I tend to give too many details, I think, but if they help out another DIS'er, then

OK, I warned you! Now on to the trip report. (If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask here or private message me

Cast:

Paul
– 41 year old comedian. He always joking around (making jokes and he loves to make up his own funny songs) but he can be serious too. Responsible and task oriented type person. He has a lot of patience when it comes to me, very little patience when it comes to crowds, lines, rude people and un-behaved teens. Favorite character is Tigger. Hasn’t been to Disney World in over 20 years.

Nichole (also called Nickie) – 13 year old “typical teen”. It seems like just yesterday she was just a kid and loved everything and everyone and today she hates everything and everyone. She recently developed a love for hoodie sweatshirts (as you will see she wears the same one in almost all of our photos) and pirates . She loves Disney but won’t admit loving Disney. Favorite characters are Tink and Piglet. The last time at Disney World was September 2000.

Jessica (Me) – 30 year old “big kid”. I LOVE Disney and would go every year if I could. I love riding rides and seeing shows and meeting characters. My favorite characters are Eeyore, Grumpy and of course Mickey! I am the resident “planner”. The last time at Disney World was September 2000.

Pre-Trip Report

I can’t remember how long we have been planning this trip, but it’s been at least since the summer. I remember this because my DD Nichole was in Erie, PA, visiting my mom & other family for the summer. We decided the trip would be a Christmas surprise. It was easy to plan and research while she was gone. She came home at the end of August in time to start school.

We originally were supposed to go to Paul’s sister Sue’s house for Christmas. They live outside of Ft. Lauderdale in Margate. Paul’s parents, who are retired, go down every year for Christmas and Paul has been going every year since he was divorced. Last year was our first Christmas together and we went to Sue’s house as well. But this year we knew we wanted to do something different. We let Nichole believe we were going to Sue’s house “as planned”. So when we finally gave her the surprise, she was already packed to go to Florida.

The last 4 months about killed me. We had to do everything on the sly. Of course, by this time our package is booked and major details including dining reservations were made. But I became addicted to researching the trip, especially on the DIS boards and I also subscribed to Tour Guide Mike. I would be sitting in the computer room and she would walk in and I would have to close everything quickly or Paul and I would be whispering and I would become paranoid that she could hear. And about a week before we were to leave, we received our Christmas presents from Paul’s sister…the very place we were supposed to be going. I thought we were caught for sure. But Nichole as always lives in “her” bubble and being very gullible, we were able to feed her some weak excuse as to why Sue mailed the gifts early. There was a million times when I thought there was no way this girl couldn’t know what we were up to.

December 22, 2007
It's finally here!!!


The last time Nichole was at Disney was when she was 7. It was our first real vacation to Disney (we had gone for one day to the Magic Kingdom when she was 5) and I had a ton of photographs of her with various characters. I put together a scrapbook to let her know about the trip. The first two pages were those pictures of her from 2000 and on top of the first page I titled it “Remember When?” The next two pages said “Surprise, We are spending Christmas at Disney”. The look on her face was priceless. She was confused at first, she was like, “so we are going to Disney when we are at your sister’s house?” Paul said “No, we are just going to Disney”. And Nickie being Nickie, is still confused says “you mean we’re not going to your sister’s house? LOL! It was a great moment! I was so excited that we had kept the secret and that we had really surprised her.






Paul’s Surprise

Paul and I have been together for almost two years. We had talked several times about getting married so I knew we were getting married “someday”. Paul had promised early this year, that we would be engaged by the end of the year. Every time I thought he was going to propose…he didn’t. So here we are almost the end of the year and I thought, I bet he is going to propose at Disney World.

So we had just given Nichole her surprise trip and our car service was due to arrive in about an hour. I was on an emotional high already…the excitement of going on vacation and the joy of giving Nichole the trip (and the fact that she was really surprised). I was standing in the doorway between the computer room and the hallway and Paul comes towards me and I said so she was really surprised, huh? And he says, yeah, were you surprised and I respond why would I be surprised, I knew about the trip. And he says, are you surprised now and he holds up the engagement ring and oh my God, I can’t even describe with words how I felt. I knew we were getting engaged, I knew it would be any day soon, yet, he knocked me off my feet. It was crazy moment and I was near tears and Nichole was dancing around the house singing, “She got the rock.” He then says, So, Do you want to get married and I am still in shock and I am laughing and crying and I finally respond yes…although he knew the answer was yes long before he even asked.





The trip to Florida


The car service came around 6:05 pm, ten minutes early. The ride to the airport was smooth, meaning no traffic. Anyone from New Jersey knows how traffic can be on any of the major routes to the airport so we were pleasantly surprised. We knew before we left the house that the plane was delayed due to ground delays in Newark. Our flight was due to leave at 9:35 and we finally left Newark around 11 pm. The flight was bumpy and the seats not so comfortable (Jet Blue) and I couldn’t sleep as planned. We got into Orlando around 1:30 am. We used Disney’s Magical Express but we didn’t receive our yellow tags in time for our trip, so we picked up our own luggage then headed for the desk. It was very smooth process – we checked in and they directed us to the bus. The bus was comfortable and they showed a video to get you ready for your visit that was hard to hear. We sat there for a little while waiting for more passengers. We stopped at 3 other resorts before finally arriving at Pop Century. We checked in and finally got to our room around 3:30 am.


Next Up: Day 1 at Epcot
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My Family: Jes (Me), Paul (DH), Nichole (DD15)
I didn't Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!! A trip report with pictures.
I've been Sprung!! by VroomVroomLightening and DisMomAmy

Apr 1998: 1 day teaser at MK (drove from PCB)
Sep 2000: All Star Movies Resort
Aug 2005: 1 day teaser at Disneyland & California Adventures (stayed offsite)
Dec 2006: Christmas at Pop Century
Sep/Oct 2007: Honeymoon at Poly

Mar 2008: Mom/Daughter Spring Break trip at Pop Century
Upcoming Trips!!
July 2008: Disneyland & California Adventures(staying offsite)

Last edited by j_lehr; 03-18-2007 at 07:05 PM. Reason: title update
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Old 12-31-2006, 02:10 PM   #2
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What a great start to your trip! The scrapbook you made was awesome and I'm glad you were able to surprise DD. And of course, congratulations on your engagement!
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Old 12-31-2006, 02:13 PM   #3
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Wow! What a start to your trip! First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! What a beautiful ring! Do I see a Disney wedding in your future? Glad you were able to pull off the surprise. We surprised our three on Christmas day with the news we're heading to the World in two weeks. Love those surprises! My dd8 has also discovered the hoodie. She has three, including a cute Pirate Princess one we got her for Christmas. She wore it to church this morning!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Get typing!!!
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Old 12-31-2006, 03:05 PM   #4
j_lehr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellester View Post
Wow! What a start to your trip! First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! What a beautiful ring! Do I see a Disney wedding in your future? Glad you were able to pull off the surprise. We surprised our three on Christmas day with the news we're heading to the World in two weeks. Love those surprises! My dd8 has also discovered the hoodie. She has three, including a cute Pirate Princess one we got her for Christmas. She wore it to church this morning!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Get typing!!!
My DD has a few of those hoodies, but only brought one on the trip. But they all look the same...black or grey and oversized. She got a cute pirates zipped up sweatshirt while we were on vacation. I bought her a cute blue tink one for Christmas but it's not black so she hasn't worn it yet.

We are getting married at home in our church but probably going to Disney for part of our honeymoon. I think it would be neat to get married there but we have too many people that we want to invite to our wedding that wouldn't be able to make that trip.

I will have more on the trip soon...the writing part is easy, it's getting all the pics together. Thank for reading; I'm glad you enjoyed!
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My Family: Jes (Me), Paul (DH), Nichole (DD15)
I didn't Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!! A trip report with pictures.
I've been Sprung!! by VroomVroomLightening and DisMomAmy

Apr 1998: 1 day teaser at MK (drove from PCB)
Sep 2000: All Star Movies Resort
Aug 2005: 1 day teaser at Disneyland & California Adventures (stayed offsite)
Dec 2006: Christmas at Pop Century
Sep/Oct 2007: Honeymoon at Poly

Mar 2008: Mom/Daughter Spring Break trip at Pop Century
Upcoming Trips!!
July 2008: Disneyland & California Adventures(staying offsite)

Last edited by j_lehr; 12-31-2006 at 03:08 PM. Reason: forgot to answer something
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Old 12-31-2006, 03:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swankybeth View Post
What a great start to your trip! The scrapbook you made was awesome and I'm glad you were able to surprise DD. And of course, congratulations on your engagement!
Thanks so much! I'm glad that you enjoyed hte report so far.

Jes
__________________
My Family: Jes (Me), Paul (DH), Nichole (DD15)
I didn't Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!! A trip report with pictures.
I've been Sprung!! by VroomVroomLightening and DisMomAmy

Apr 1998: 1 day teaser at MK (drove from PCB)
Sep 2000: All Star Movies Resort
Aug 2005: 1 day teaser at Disneyland & California Adventures (stayed offsite)
Dec 2006: Christmas at Pop Century
Sep/Oct 2007: Honeymoon at Poly

Mar 2008: Mom/Daughter Spring Break trip at Pop Century
Upcoming Trips!!
July 2008: Disneyland & California Adventures(staying offsite)
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Old 12-31-2006, 03:41 PM   #6
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Great start .

We are a Hoodie family we all wear them all the time.

DD13 has a bunch but wears her Tink one from DL the most.
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:28 PM   #7
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Congratulations!
This looks like a great trip, so I am susbscribing...can't wait to hear more!
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Old 01-01-2007, 01:15 PM   #8
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Day 2 at Epcot

Day 2 – 12/23/2006
Epcot


We got to Epcot about an hour later than originally planned. My family just didn’t want to move when the alarm went off and neither did I. Paul is a pretty good morning person (I am the anti-morning person ) so when he didn’t move, I knew we needed more sleep.

The night before when we checked in, because it was so late and for whatever reason they did not have our reservation included in the pre-printed box, we only had a temporary key. Paul and I showered and went down to get our “real” keys and breakfast to bring back to the room while Nickie got ready. She is 13 and I guess like most 13 year olds, takes an unbearable amount of time to get ready. She did get better as the week went on.

We caught the bus to Epcot. I loved the bus system and I will review it separately later. I can’t remember the exact time we got to Epcot; I think it was about 9 am. We fast passed Soarin’ and then rode Soarin’ with less than a ten minute wait. Paul and I had rode Soarin’ in Disneyland so we knew what to expect but Nickie really enjoyed it too. I think it is one of the neatest rides at Disney. I love coasters but I can ride those anywhere, I love Disney for all the stuff you can’t do anywhere else. We went over to Test Track and fast passed that. We walked back over and rode The Seas with Nemo & Friends (cute but not something we needed to do again),


Paul, Nichole and Jessica in front of Nemo

rode Soarin’ again with our fast passes, then got in line for Living in the Land. It was less than a ten minute wait and something Nickie and I hadn’t done the last time we were at Disney. We loved the last part with all the plants.


We loved these pumpkins!

We ate lunch at the Electric Umbrella a little before 12 and despite the less than stellar reviews we read about the place, we enjoyed it. We then rode Test Track. I love this attraction. It was Paul’s first time and I thought he would love it but he wasn’t overly impressed.


Disney was able to add this ride picture to our photopass. It was the only ride we saw the entire trip that had this option.

We fast passed Test Track again but never made it back to use. We left the park around 1:30 to go back to the room for a nap. Or at least Paul and I napped and Nickie walked around the resort. 13 years old don’t nap, LOL.

We went back to Epcot in the evening, walked around World Showcase but didn’t really do anything. We took some pictures while waiting for our dinner reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse.


Nichole & Jessica


Paul & Jessica

Dinner was amazing!!! The food would be the best we ate our entire trip and our waitress was really sweet. Nickie and I both ordered the 7 oz Filet Mignon, her with the cream cheese mashed potatoes and I substituted the Roasted Yukon Potatoes. We are both really picky eaters so I was a little nervous eating here to begin with. Nickie still raves about this meal. Paul ordered the Herb Crusted Prime Rib with the Roasted Yukon Potatoes and loved it as well. I would have loved to get pictures of everything but my family was starving and probably would have killed me if I made them wait a second longer! Here is the one picture I got of Nichole's "moose".


Nichole's "moose"

We then saw the Candlelight Processional. Again, I can’t think of another word but amazing!!!


Candlelight Processional

As we left the Candlelight Processional, Illuminations was getting ready to start. We were in Moroco and decided against my better judgment to stay there so missed parts of it because of an island that blocked the Earth. My own fault because I didn’t follow the advice and tips I had gotten…but we didn’t think we would have time to make it far with the crowd leaving the Candlelight show. We still enjoyed it though and loved the music. It was a great way to end a great first day. We spent about 20 minutes in Mouse Gears so that some of the crowd could move out. Nichole loves looking in all the shops now that she has discovered pins and pin trading. We caught the bus back to Pop Century without a wait, although we had to stand, but we didn’t mind.

Up Next: Day 3 @ MGM
__________________
My Family: Jes (Me), Paul (DH), Nichole (DD15)
I didn't Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!! A trip report with pictures.
I've been Sprung!! by VroomVroomLightening and DisMomAmy

Apr 1998: 1 day teaser at MK (drove from PCB)
Sep 2000: All Star Movies Resort
Aug 2005: 1 day teaser at Disneyland & California Adventures (stayed offsite)
Dec 2006: Christmas at Pop Century
Sep/Oct 2007: Honeymoon at Poly

Mar 2008: Mom/Daughter Spring Break trip at Pop Century
Upcoming Trips!!
July 2008: Disneyland & California Adventures(staying offsite)
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Old 01-01-2007, 01:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swillis View Post
Congratulations!
This looks like a great trip, so I am susbscribing...can't wait to hear more!
Thanks! It was a great trip!

Thanks for reading...
Jes
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My Family: Jes (Me), Paul (DH), Nichole (DD15)
I didn't Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!! A trip report with pictures.
I've been Sprung!! by VroomVroomLightening and DisMomAmy

Apr 1998: 1 day teaser at MK (drove from PCB)
Sep 2000: All Star Movies Resort
Aug 2005: 1 day teaser at Disneyland & California Adventures (stayed offsite)
Dec 2006: Christmas at Pop Century
Sep/Oct 2007: Honeymoon at Poly

Mar 2008: Mom/Daughter Spring Break trip at Pop Century
Upcoming Trips!!
July 2008: Disneyland & California Adventures(staying offsite)
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Old 01-01-2007, 01:36 PM   #10
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First of all, Congratulations on your engagement. Secondally, I can't wait to read more.
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Old 01-02-2007, 08:16 AM   #11
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Jessica,
CONGRATULATIONS! What a wonderful engagement story and a great guy! Sounds like you had a great trip, I can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:03 PM   #12
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my TGM update

Thanks to all for the congratulations and for reading my report!

I am going to try to get Day 3 up tomorrow...I had to go back to work today :-( and we have been trying to find a place to hold our reception. No one told me planning a wedding is so much work!!!

I am not sure why I didn't mention it before...it's am important little fact...this was a TGM (Tour Guide Mike) trip. (actually I think I briefly mentioned it, but it really deserves it own post!) Of course, after reading everyone here on the DIS rave about him, I had some expectations of having an ok trip, meaning no crowds. But I thought to myself, it is Christmas so don't get your hopes up. I thought maybe I would be dealing with the "best of the worst" type scenerio.

After our first day in the parks (our Epcot day) I was still skeptical. Ok, we had one good, I mean GREAT day, that doesn't mean there won't be crowds tomorrow. Well here's a preview for our MGM day and the other park days as well....NO CROWDS ! ! ! Mike is my hero. Seriously. Now I had prepared...over prepared...my fam for crowds. I think I reminded them everyday, LOL, so much, they were like kids, "We knoooowwww Mom". I figured that would be better than disappointing them. So...where was I...yes, Mike is my hero. I talked about him so much that my fiancee, Paul, jokingly asked if I was having an afair with Tour Guide Mike!

Anyway, that is my little update for today. I have seen some posts asking if TGM is worth the money...YES ! ! ! I spent over $3000 to go to Disney (including airfare of course) and I firmly believe that the small fee that Mike charges for all of his info was the best Disney investment I made ! ! !

(Disclaimer: I do not work for tourguidemike.com nor am i having an affair with him! As always, past returns are not indicative of future performance )
__________________
My Family: Jes (Me), Paul (DH), Nichole (DD15)
I didn't Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!! A trip report with pictures.
I've been Sprung!! by VroomVroomLightening and DisMomAmy

Apr 1998: 1 day teaser at MK (drove from PCB)
Sep 2000: All Star Movies Resort
Aug 2005: 1 day teaser at Disneyland & California Adventures (stayed offsite)
Dec 2006: Christmas at Pop Century
Sep/Oct 2007: Honeymoon at Poly

Mar 2008: Mom/Daughter Spring Break trip at Pop Century
Upcoming Trips!!
July 2008: Disneyland & California Adventures(staying offsite)
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:44 PM   #13
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Enjoying your report! Congrats on the engagement! And planning a wedding rivals planning a Disney trip!

Also a fellow TGM-er, loved all his advice and feel our trip was so much better for it!

Allyson
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:50 PM   #14
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Hey, I have a Paul and a 13 year old daughter that I surprised with a Christmas trip to Disney too! but no one gave me diamonds before I left

Oh well!

I am loving your TR so far, you daughter is such a pretty girl!

Congratulations on your engagement, all the best
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Old 01-03-2007, 09:23 AM   #15
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Great start and congratulations on your engagement. I also surprised my DD's with a trip but it was to Lapland to meet Santa! We only told them the morning that we went, we even got to the airport without them realising, admitedly they were only 6 & 4 at the time! By the way it was a super holiday and up there with a WDW one.
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