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Old 09-28-2009, 10:57 PM   #1
kokotg
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Five boys and Only One Head Injury! September 19-27 UPDATED 10/20

We’re home! We had a great time! I am jetlagged and exhausted (got in last night around 8:30, then had a full day of activities and classes with the kids today, so I haven’t had a chance to relax and catch up on sleep yet), but I am so dedicated that I’m starting my trip report right away .

For anyone who wants to catch up, here’s a link to the pre-trip report where I go over all the introductions and planning details:

Less than 2 weeks to go! A Not Colonial Williamsburg pre-trip report: 9/19-27

The short version is that we live in Georgia and usually visit WDW, but for this trip we met up with my west coast sister and brother-in-law and nephews, plus my New England mother-in-law to check out Disneyland. Ten of us all together, breaking down like this:

Us:
Gretchen and Dave + 3 boys—Ari is 8, Milo is 6, and Gus is 3 ½

Them:
Amy and Craig + 2 boys—Benjamin is 3 ½ (10 days younger than Gus) and Louis turned 6 months old during the trip.
And Nana—DH and Amy’s mother and grandmother to the pack of boys

For reasons I can no longer remember, I booked our flight out of Atlanta for 8:30 in the morning on Saturday. We live an hour north of the airport, so this meant leaving the house at 5:30. This wasn’t especially fun, but we managed it and made it to the airport and parked with no problems. For some reason, 8:30 on Saturday morning turned out to be a very popular time to fly and the lines to get through security were pretty long. We’d planned to pick up some breakfast after we found the gate and settled in, but we were shorter on time than we expected, so once we got to the terminal I took the kids to the bathroom while Dave ran to the McDonald’s to grab some stuff. While he was ordering he heard them announce “final boarding call” for our flight. It was still a good 30 minutes before take-off, so I’m not sure why they were trying to scare us, but we rushed over and boarded so that we could sit in the plane for 45 minutes waiting for it to take off and eating our egg mcmuffins. The take off was really bumpy, and I was miserable and terrified, because I hate flying and generally assume there’s only about a 50% chance I’ll survive any given flight. After some initial grumpiness on Ari’s part because the TV screen on his seat wasn’t working, all the kids were angels for the flight. I sat with Ari and Milo (I traded with Ari so that I got stuck with the broken TV) and Dave sat with Gus and actually managed to sleep for a good portion of the flight. We landed right on time (around 10:30) at John Wayne Airport.

Dave’s mom had come out to CA a week earlier to visit Amy in Livermore, and then had flown down that morning (Amy and Craig were driving) and arrived at almost exactly the same time as us. We ran into her on our way to the baggage claim, collected our bags, and went over to pick up the rental car.


Milo and John Wayne

We made the drive over to the HOJO and checked in. I’d booked two kid suites and then a regular room for Nana, and we were all really excited about the kid suites and the Castaway Cove play area. It was only a little after 11, and our rooms weren’t ready yet, so we went across the street to get lunch at Mimi’s. I’d printed out a bunch of coupons to Mimi’s and other restaurants on Harbor, but we wound up mostly eating inside the parks or in Downtown Disney. But I got to use my $5 off coupon here at least, and everyone enjoyed their lunch.


Nana and Ari in the HOJO lobby

We bought our tickets from ARES Travel, so we were carrying around a sheet of paper worth $1000 or so. We decided to walk on over to Disneyland and trade it in for 6 smaller sheets of paper worth $1000, so that we wouldn’t have to deal with it the next morning. We’d originally planned to go to the parks for awhile Saturday evening, but when we found out that both Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain were going to be closed until Friday, we changed our plans and decided to wait a day so we could come back Friday. The guy at the ticket counter seemed pretty excited when he found out we were from Georgia. I guess they don’t get that much.


Finished with lunch, off to get our tickets


Look! There it is! DISNEYLAND!

We were walking back to the Hojo when a guy outside of Quizno’s started yelling something at us about “free all you can eat…” Nana, the kids, and I kept walking, but Dave was lured in. “Free” and “all you can eat” are two things he has trouble resisting. We stopped up the street a bit to wait for him, and it took FOREVER. “I bet he’s signing us up for a timeshare presentation,” I speculated. Sure enough, when he finally showed up, he admitted that he had indeed given this guy his name and expressed at least tentative interest in going to listen to his timeshare spiel. We would get a limo ride and $100 in Disney Dollars, Dave explained. “No,” I said. As it turned out, we didn’t make enough money to qualify for the timeshare presentation anyway (I guess that’s one good thing about teacher salaries?) so Dave had given the guy Amy and Craig’s names instead, along with our cell phone number. The guy did, in fact, call the next day, but Dave didn’t answer the phone and Amy and Craig were, remarkably, uninterested in going to the presentation.


Milo waiting, not very patiently, for Dave to finish talking to the timeshare dude.

The HOJO had told us we could check back at 3 to see if our room was ready. It was still only a little after 1, but we had a key card to get into the pool areas, so we got the kids’ swimsuits out of the suitcase and went to check out Castaway Cove. They were very intimidated by the big bucket that dumps water on you at first and stuck to little kiddie pool. But eventually they worked up their nerve and ventured over and had a great time dumping massive amounts of water on each other. The slide was closed when we first got there, but it opened up after a few minutes and they had a great time on those, too.


Safe in the kid pool


Checking out the big bucket warily...


Heading over there (strength in numbers)


SPLASH!





The kids probably would have been happy to stay there another hour, but the grown-ups were pretty hot and tired, and it was almost 3, so Dave went to see if the rooms were ready yet. One of the kid suites was ready, so we all trooped upstairs to check it out. It was really nice! Okay, so seriously? I want a Pirates of the Caribbean living room now, I think. The prints are so nice and subtle...I think they’d look lovely in my living room and it would take people a few minutes to realize what they were. The kids were delighted with the bunk bed and immediately started making plans for who was going to sleep in which bed that night. We put a DVD on the computer for them (They Might be Giants’ Here Come the 1,2,3s, which saved us many times on this trip) and went in our nice, separate grown-up room to relax for a little while. I LOVE having a king size bed when we’re on vacation. We have one at home, and I always feel really crowded when we have to sleep in a queen or double. We had no complaints about the room. We were VERY close to the freeway (I guess we were on the side of the building closest to it, on the third floor. Amy and Craig were on the same floor, other side of the building, and they were significantly further away), but we’re not light sleepers, and it didn’t bother us at all. Nana’s room was ready shortly after ours, so she went over there (across the hall and down a couple of doors) to unpack and rest.




Our lovely view








My new living room art.

We had plans to meet up that evening for dinner with Dave’s friends from college, Jeremy and Amy, and their new baby, who had just moved to the area. They met us at the hotel a little after 4, and we went over to Millie’s (I forgot my coupon—drats!) to eat. Just before we left, Amy and Craig pulled up in the parking lot, so we got to briefly say hello to them and finally meet our newest nephew Louis. It was still early, and the restaurant was very empty. We ate and hung out and talked for as long as the kids’ patience held out, then walked back to the hotel. I took the kids up and got them ready for bed while Dave chatted for awhile longer downstairs. By this time it was after 10 east coast time, so the kids fell asleep pretty easily, despite the excitement about going to Disneyland the next day. We went to bed not that long after the kids, and just as I was drifting off to sleep the sound of the fireworks at DL woke me up. It took me forever to figure out what on earth it was.

Next: Our first day in the parks!

Last edited by kokotg; 10-21-2009 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:51 AM   #2
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I'm subbing... I am excited to hear all about your trip... Sounds good so far.

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Old 09-30-2009, 12:50 PM   #3
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"For reasons I can no longer remember, I booked our flight out of Atlanta for 8:30 in the morning on Saturday..."

Ooh that sounds familiar. I would have sworn that *as I was booking* we were saying "no more early flights! take a later flight, it'll be OK!"

And yet...we have a 7am flight. Very strange.



Look at those boys...you have my dream family. So far only the one...but I sure did think I'd be a good 3-boy parent!
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:56 PM   #4
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I'm subbing... I am excited to hear all about your trip... Sounds good so far.

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Thanks, Beth!

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Look at those boys...you have my dream family. So far only the one...but I sure did think I'd be a good 3-boy parent!
Well, it's never boring, at least

...working on installment number 2 now--I should get it posted later tonight!
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:22 PM   #5
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Day 2:

We were very excited—very, VERY excited—about seeing Disneyland for the first time (actually, Dave went to DL once as a kid, but he doesn’t remember it at all, so I don’t think it counts). So excited that we all woke up at 4 AM. Okay, the truth is, the kids were the ones who woke up because they were so excited. Dave and I were excited, too, but we would have been happy to sleep a few more hours anyway. We woke up because the kids did. Unfortunately, Disneyland wasn’t going to open until 9 no matter how excited we were, so we had a long morning ahead of us. Dave had run out to Von’s the night before for breakfast stuff (and cookies. Mmm…those were good cookies), so we all ate some bagels. Then we thought of a couple of others things we could use from the store, so Dave took the kids there as soon as they opened at six. And I went back to sleep for a few minutes.

Finally it was time to leave, so we, along with Nana, left for the park right around 8:30. Amy and Craig, with their already used to west coast time children, were running a little behind us, so we planned to meet up with them a little later. We got there shortly before the gates opened:


Ari in his Buzz shirt waiting for the gates to open. We designated this, somewhat randomly, Disney character shirt day.

Then we went in, and I took a picture of the train station:


As may or may not be clear from my pictures, the Halloween decorations were going up a little bit each day the whole week we were there. I'm guessing the orange and yellow banners aren't always there and were one of the first steps?

I had a plan. It had been a Magic Morning, so I figured Fantasyland and Tomorrowland would be packed already, and we should start with the other side of the park. We would, in my careful plan, pick up fastpasses for Indiana Jones and then go ride Pirates. Except Pirates wasn’t open yet, which left me sort of at a loss.


Haunted Mansion as it looked Sunday morning. It would look WAY different by the end of the week.

We were feeling a little disoriented, with no map in our heads like we have at WDW. Somehow we got ourselves together enough to make a decision to head over to Winnie-the-Pooh. All the while, we were trying to talk to Amy and Craig and figure out when and where to meet up. We eventually would settle into more of a groove with traveling with such a big group—staying together sometimes for rides everyone would enjoy, splitting up when our big kids wanted to do different things than their little kids—but the first day it was a little confusing. At any rate, we finally made it onto Pooh—I think we were the only people anywhere near the ride, so empty was that side of the park at this point. Gus has been to WDW three times, but he seems to have only very fuzzy memories of it since he was still only 2 during our last trip—so everything was pretty new to him even if he’d done the WDW half a dozen times before. He was delighted with Winnie-the-Pooh and very eager to go on another ride.

We talked to Amy and Craig and found out they had just waited in line to meet Goofy and were now in Fantasyland. We made plans to meet up with them at the train station after riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.



Gus won’t be four until December, but he has two older brothers and does not think of himself as a three year old AT ALL. He’s convinced that he can do absolutely anything his big brothers can do. Fortunately, he’s a fairly tall kid and was measuring 41 inches in bare feet at home before the trip, so we were pretty confident height restrictions would not get in the way of his plans too often. He was completely fearless in anticipation of the trip, talking excitedly about how he was going to ride Tower of Terror and Space Mountain, and I was a bit worried that the reality of the rides was going to prove a little more intimidating than the ideas in his head about them. So I thought BTMR would be a good test…and he loved it! This was his first real roller coaster, and he giggled with delight through the whole thing and announced gleefully, “that was FUN!” when it was over. Ari and Milo loved it, too, despite not having been huge fans in years past at WDW. I hadn’t ridden the WDW one in several years, and remembered not liking it at the time, but I thought the ride was great this time, too. I’m not sure if the DL version is substantially different or if my tastes have just changed.

After BTMR, we finally met up with Amy, Craig, Benjamin, and Louis at the train station:


Benjamin, looking a bit overwhelmed after his audience with Goofy

Ari and Milo spent some time getting acquainted with Louis while we waited for the train (and Dave and Craig ran to grab fastpasses for Splash Mountain).



We had 11:00 brunch reservations at Goofy’s Kitchen, so we’d decided to take the train to Tomorrowland and then take the Monorail to Downtown Disney. Amy told us that Benjamin hadn’t even wanted to stand near Big Thunder Mountain because it was too loud. Benjamin, not having any older brothers, would prove to be far less interested in rides like Tower of Terror than his age mate Gus. But everyone liked the train! I wasn’t sure if it was possible to ride in the front of the monorail at DLR like you can at WDW, so we asked the CM and were told we could. He said up to 5 people (this is, I’m pretty sure, one more than they allow at WDW) so Nana and the 4 older grandkids waited to ride up front:



And now it’s very late back on the east coast, so I’ll save tales of brunch until my next installment!

Next up: Goofy’s Kitchen and more Disneyland
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:34 PM   #6
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How fun. I am here!!
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:19 PM   #7
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awwwh it sure is different reading and looking at pictures with families of boys! hehe I like it. And what sweet looking family you have I might add.
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Old 10-02-2009, 07:59 AM   #8
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Loving the report! The title grabbed me -- I had three boys too, and we definitely had our share of head injuries They all survived to adulthood somehow -- now they are 18, 23, and 26. I just took a mom/son trip with the 23 year old, and we were there around the same time you were (but missed both Space and HM by just a couple of days so I'm looking forward to your reviews of them...we saw the HM overlay last December and it was fantastic!)

The HoJo is great I stayed there with my stepdaughter and granddaughter in February of '08.
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:08 AM   #9
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I can't wait to read the rest of your report! I haven't been to Disneyland since I was 7 and I do not remember it at all. I am looking forward to reading about how you and the kids liked it compared to Disney World.

The HoJo sounds really nice. I wish they had a similar type of accommodations for larger families at WDW, instead of having to get 2 rooms or paying tons for a suite.
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Old 10-02-2009, 02:29 PM   #10
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I can't wait to read more.
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Old 10-02-2009, 02:47 PM   #11
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Sounds like you had a good time! Thanks for sharing the photos and experiences!
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:00 PM   #12
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How fun. I am here!!
Welcome aboard

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awwwh it sure is different reading and looking at pictures with families of boys! hehe I like it. And what sweet looking family you have I might add.
Thank you!

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Loving the report! The title grabbed me -- I had three boys too, and we definitely had our share of head injuries They all survived to adulthood somehow -- now they are 18, 23, and 26. I just took a mom/son trip with the 23 year old, and we were there around the same time you were (but missed both Space and HM by just a couple of days so I'm looking forward to your reviews of them...we saw the HM overlay last December and it was fantastic!)
Thanks! I was reading through your report the other day and thinking about how fun it will be to take grown-up boys to WDW someday...


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The HoJo sounds really nice. I wish they had a similar type of accommodations for larger families at WDW, instead of having to get 2 rooms or paying tons for a suite.
Thanks for reading The kid suites were roughly equivalent in space/set up to getting two connecting rooms at Pop. And very roughly similar in price, too, depending on what kind of discounts you get.

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I can't wait to read more.
Thanks!

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Sounds like you had a good time! Thanks for sharing the photos and experiences!
Thanks for reading!

...working on the next update now, but it may be tomorrow before I get it up...
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:38 PM   #13
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We got off the monorail and walked over the Disneyland Hotel, then wound through the lobby, enjoying the sights, until we found Goofy’s Kitchen.



Once we checked in, the kids were sucked in by the penny pressing machine and passed the time with that until they called us over for our picture with Pluto.



The picture with Pluto turned out really nicely. Everyone looked decent in it, and Nana bought the package for us all to share, so we actually have a picture of the whole group from the trip.

I guess the most common WDW comparison with Goofy’s Kitchen is Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. We’ve only eaten there once, three years ago, but I thought Goofy’s Kitchen was a much nicer atmosphere. Chef Mickey’s is all in one big, LOUD room. I like the way Goofy’s was divided into smaller seating areas. The kids all loved the buffet and went back over and over again. The grown-ups were pleased with it, too. I think we were the only table where no one was celebrating a birthday, as we kept having to stop eating in order to clap along with someone’s birthday song at another table.

My kids have never been super into characters (mysteriously, the only exception to this has been at Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, so I was really disappointed to learn they were no longer doing a character meal there). Goofy’s Kitchen was no different. They mostly tried to pretend nothing was happening when the characters came by, and our pictures are, consequently, not so good. Benjamin was a little more into the whole character thing. We saw Jasmine, Mulan, Baloo, Goofy, and…maybe Minnie? I can’t remember. Twice while we were there, Goofy came out near the buffet area and did some stuff with all the kids. The first time it was dancing. My kids scurried away from that as fast as they could, but Amy took Benjamin over and he got to briefly dance before Goofy left. The second time was some sort of elaborate “cooking” thing that was going on as we were leaving. For this, my kids looked like they ALMOST wanted to jump in and participate. I think if character meals lasted 3 hours, they’d be really into them by the end. They take a (very) long time to warm up to new things sometimes.







We took the monorail back over to Tomorrowland and the boys were invited to sit in the front again (there was pretty much no one else waiting for the monorail either time). This time Dave and I rode up front with them (my first time!).



We picked up fastpasses for Autopia and then took the train back to Frontierland. The train at WDW is not nearly as exciting as at DLR. I knew about the dinosaurs and Grand Canyon things, but I was expecting them to be a lot smaller and less elaborate, so the train ride was a nice surprise.

We all made it over to Splash Mountain, ready to use our fastpasses. I couldn’t believe how far we had to walk to get to the entrance. I kept expecting it to be right there, but they really stick it back in the corner. Benjamin was sort of, kind of maybe interested in riding, so we went up to get him measured….alas, just a bit too short. “I’m not sad,” Benjamin told us bravely. Thank God things weren’t reversed, and Gus wasn’t the 3 year old who was just a tiny bit too short—I think my trip report would have a completely different, darker tone had that been the case. Amy and Nana stayed behind with the short kids while Craig rode with our family. Once we were on the ride, he commented that it was probably a very good thing Benjamin hadn’t been able to come on, as it probably would have freaked him out. Craig made a video of the whole ride with his phone to show Benjamin later.

Our family has sort of a strange history with Splash Moutain. I think Ari’s always ridden it no problem, but Milo has long been conflicted about it. He didn’t ride it at all the year he was three. The year he was four, he refused to ride it for most of the trip, then finally went on it and loved it and was angry that he couldn’t go again. But then the next year, when he was five, he again refused to even try it. This year he claimed he wasn’t going to ride, but when he saw it he decided to give it a try. The drop at DLR looks a lot less intimidating from the outside than the WDW one, so I think that helped to sway him. Anyway, he loved it—wanted to ride it over and over again. I was a little worried about Gus, but, of course, I shouldn’t have been. He thought it was fabulous.
After Splash, Amy and Craig decided to go use their Autopia Fastpasses and then head back to the hotel. We (along with Nana) started back toward Indiana Jones. We stopped on the way to ride Pirates, and it’s true what they say—it’s really much cooler than the WDW pirates—the drops are so fun. As with most rides, Gus immediately asked to ride it again. But we told him it would have to wait for another day so we could get to Indy.

Now here was a problem. Gus was undeniably not tall enough to ride Indiana Jones. We were thinking it was possible he’d make it onto the 42 inch rides, but iffy…so 46 inches was just not going to happen. As an aside, it’s a little mysterious to me that Indiana Jones has a 46 inch requirement when Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, which is virtually the same ride with different theming, is only 40 inches. If anything, Dinosaur is scarier than Indiana Jones, too. Oh well. We planned to try to be sort of sneaky about the whole thing—we worked out a very elaborate scheme beforehand that involved me and Dave taking Milo on first with half of our fastpasses while Nana (who wasn’t interested in riding) took Ari and Gus to the treehouse next door. Then we’d switch off and take Ari. This was the plan. I think where we went wrong was in not anticipating Milo’s newfound, super intense devotion to his big brother. “Where’s Ari going?!” he asked when he saw the other group heading toward the treehouse. We explained things to him, but he insisted he wanted to go with the others. So we called Nana back and switched out big kids, thinking Milo was scared of the ride, and this would solve the problem. Looking back, I suspect it was more an issue of not wanting to be split up from Ari, since Milo was still very upset once we got off the ride (and wouldn’t tell us why). But anyway, the three of us went on Indy and thought it was very cool, though we also agreed it was good Nana had decided not to go, since she’d thought BTMRR was too jerky.




Milo is still VERY unhappy after our Indy return

We still had the Autopia fastpasses, so we headed back to Tomorrowland one more time. I had anticipated Sunday being pretty crowded, so I hadn’t expected to get too much done, but the parks were surprisingly empty. We mostly used fastpasses, but we didn’t see terribly long lines for anything, really (I noticed that both Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear were 5 minutes when we walked by). So I was feeling pretty optimistic about lines during the week.

We’ve never been on the Tomorrowland Speedway at WDW. It looks so boring and hot, and the lines are always long, and I hear such bad things, that we’ve sort of just…never mentioned it to the kids as a possibility. We’ve walked by it a million times, but they’ve never asked about it. I’d heard that Autopia is considerably more fun than its WDW counterpart, though, and, unlike Tomorrowland Speedway, it offers a fastpass, so we decided to give it a try here. All I can say is if Autopia is, in fact, more fun than Tomorrowland Speedway…thank God we’ve kept the kids away from Tomorrowland Speedway. YAWN! Okay, but we didn’t wait too long with the fastpass (still 10-15 minutes, though—probably our longest line all day), and the kids enjoyed it.


That's Dave up there waving

By now it was very hot and we were all very tired, so we headed back to the hotel for a break.

Here’s where I should mention that Dave forgot to pack our stroller. We were on our way to the airport, ten minutes away from home, when he realized he hadn’t put it in the car. We didn’t want to risk taking the time to go back and get it, so we figured we’d either buy a cheap stroller somewhere or rent one at the park. We opted for the latter. Actually, on Sunday we wound up not getting a stroller at all, and when we did get one Gus very often refused to ride in it. And then the main problem was that we didn’t have one for the walk back to the hotel. It’s not a long walk, but it sure did feel like one when it was 95 and we had very tired kids with us. Gus’ insistence that he was big enough to walk on his own completely disappeared on the walks back to the hotel, so we have a lot of pictures like this:



And this:



Next up: evening fun at DCA

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Old 10-03-2009, 04:03 PM   #14
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I have never been to WDW, but from what I have seen the Autopia in Disneyland does look much better. What fun your trip report is. I think was best that Nana missed out on Indiana Jones. I felt like I had been in a car crash the first time I rode on it. But, I loved it just the same.
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:14 PM   #15
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I'm loving your report... waiting for the next update
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Does the Betty Ford clinic accept Disneyland addicts ?

Disneynerd420's January 2010 Birthday trip report!!! http://disboards.com/showthread.php?...1#post35194091
2 Guys, a Mom and The Mouse. Sept '09 (A disneynerd420 Trip report) PIC INTENSIVE! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2268157
Check out my June 5th through the 10th 2009 trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2203536
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