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Old 06-23-2010, 03:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by belle8306 View Post
It is a Hipster in Mod Pink. I loved how roomy it was. It was the perfect travel purse.
I have the Saddle Up and it's perfect for what I need in the parks. I love those Vera Bradleys!
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:13 PM   #17
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I have the Saddle Up and it's perfect for what I need in the parks. I love those Vera Bradleys!
The Saddle Up is also cute. I am trying to decide what my next one will be.
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:29 PM   #18
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Day 1 - Head 'em Up, Move 'em Out!

Day one for my crew started before dawn on Friday the 11th. Honestly, it almost was just a continuance of the 10th, my packing day! Taking a page from Dan (FauntleroyFan07), it was a lesson learned: never plan to leave for Disney at the end of a week that includes writing a 6-page research paper, gymnastics camp and swimming lessons every day, and two half-days worth of technology in-services for me, plus two evenings out of the house for my DH. By the time Thursday morning arrived, I was in full panic mode. My to-do list was still miles long! And so much of it was things I should have done waaaaay before hand. I don’t know what I was (or wasn’t) thinking. I got the van packed (and packed was the word…I wasn’t completely sure that the kids would fit in there!) and I finally fell into bed on Friday morning at about 12:30 a.m., only to set the alarm to wake me up at 3!

The plan was to hit the road at 4 a.m. The theory was that this would allow us to get through Atlanta between the witching hours of 10 and 4 to avoid traffic snarls, even though our Trip Tik had us going around the city and not through it. In reality, with my husband (and all the adult males in his family), I knew in my head this probably wouldn’t happen, and I’d be happy with 4:30. But 5 a.m. was make-or-break for me…we’d either have to cut our stops short or really push the speed limit if we didn’t. DH hadn’t gotten to bed much earlier than I had (not great when you’re the only two drivers), but I think that adrenaline kept us going that day. I wasn’t much better than DH that morning, though, as there were still too many things on my to-do list. At four, I looked at him and gave him a warning. At 4:30, I got my teacher look going and informed him that I was going upstairs to get the kids, and he needed to get himself ready. We’d put the kids to bed in comfy clothes the night before, so I basically got them up, got shoes on the older two, and loaded them into the van. Will was last, as I wasn’t completely sure he’d go back to sleep if he woke up all the way.

We made it – we pulled out of the driveway at 4:52 a.m. I know, we were cutting it close. But I think we did pretty well for what we were up against! The older two kids immediately settled into their cramped quarters and tried to go back to sleep. Will, on the other hand, sensed an adventure and was wide awake. At one point, when the van was silent and DH was making his final last check of all the doors and windows, he suddenly shouted, “Yites!!” (lights) Apparently, he’d noticed the neighbor’s house had its lights on. We won’t mention the fact that they’d been on the whole time we were sitting there…

Eventually, he did go back to sleep for a few hours. So did I, I’m almost ashamed to say. I’ve always been like that – if I’m sleepy in the least and I get into a moving vehicle, I’m out like a light. It’s a good thing DH is used to it. We were all up about 7:30, though. We stopped at a McDonalds in KY to have breakfast and jumped back on the road. We really were making good time. Not many people on the road, as you can see...


Things were pretty uneventful, thankfully, and we stopped for lunch at a rest stop north of Atlanta. After dragging out the cooler, the kids mainly snacked on fruit and pretzels while Bryan and I ate sandwiches and took pictures of them exploring.








Back into the van, and Haley and Will both fell asleep.





We navigated around the west side of Atlanta around 3…and hit some pretty bad traffic. Indy gets crowded and stop-and-go every day at rush hour, but this was worse. It really slowed us down – I shuddered to think of what it would have been like had we gone through the city! Then, after getting back on 75, we hit construction traffic. I guess it evened out the smooth sailing we had up to that point. We finally made it to our hotel in Byron, GA and were very glad to check in. Just for the record, we’ve decided that Byron might just be the nicest town we’ve ever visited. Even the guy at the drive-through at McDonalds asked us how our day was going as he took our change. The hotel was clean and comfortable (the room was huge – especially compared to what we expected at Disney – I highly recommend Comfort Suites if you have more than four people traveling!) and the staff was great. Here's a not-so-great picture of the room (and me after 12 hours in the van...):



We grabbed a quick dinner and ate at the little seating area in our mini-suite (again, I recommend Comfort Suites – the room cost us $100 and change including tax with our AAA card). The kids were so glad to be out of the car. Will literally ran in place as he at his chicken nuggets! The pool was pretty darn chilly, but it served its purpose.



We got back to the room, washed and jammied-up, and the kids fell to sleep pretty quickly despite having been cooped up all day.

Ok, I’ve gone on long enough. I’ll cover our actual arrival day in the next post!
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:32 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by belle8306 View Post
The Saddle Up is also cute. I am trying to decide what my next one will be.

You guys' park bags are much more stylish than mine! I think those are pretty...I just couldn't ever find a print I liked on sale. I ended up spending about $35 on a Baggalini. It worked really well for us...it just wasn't pretty. Although I think DH would have had a bit of a problem carrying it on Friday when he went to the parks with the kids and without me if it'd been a pretty Vera Bradley print!
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Old 06-24-2010, 07:32 AM   #20
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Day 2 – Saturday

When I left you, we were drifting off to sleep at the Comfort Suites in Byron, GA. We were up bright and early the next day, had breakfast, and jumped back on the road by 8:30 (again, the back end of my preferred departure window, but I’ll take it). Here’s a picture of Will relaxing in the room watching Playhouse Disney before we left…just makes himself at home, doesn’t he?



No traffic woes today…but I tell you, sometimes it felt like GA (and then FL) would never end! Will was getting pretty sick of being in his seat, too. We’d been checking in with family in various points of departure (most of our group flew in that day) all morning. My mom and aunt had ended up being placed on an earlier flight, and we now thought that they would probably be at the hotel at about the same time we would! We stopped at a rest stop just before getting off of I-75 so that the kids could take a potty break and I could make sandwiches. We hadn’t planned on staying to eat to make better time, but that idea was reinforced when I saw the signs every 200 feet or so saying, “BEWARE POISONOUS SNAKES.” Ewwww! So Bryan kept a close eye on the kids as he let them stretch their legs as much as possible.



It was still a pretty place, though.



We jumped back in the van, and all of a sudden the distances on the map seemed to start feeling shorter. I started seeing signs for familiar places (probably from listening to the DIS Unlpugged podcast), and we got more and more excited. Just after we got back in the van, though, Mom called – they were on Magical Express already! They were going to beat us! I think Bryan took it as a personal challenge, because we kept getting to new points on the map quicker than we’d expected to. Finally, we saw this sight:





Now we were all excited – even Will was grinning, though he had no clue why. I started taking pictures of everything – street signs…



Our first bus (I couldn't get a good one – they were either too close or the pictures turned out blurry)…And finally, we were pulling in to the Caribbean Beach Resort!





We were dancing in our seats at this point! I had been texting with my mom and knew they’d just checked in, so Haley and I jumped out of the car with our AAA packet and headed into the Customs House. (I do have to agree with Shelley…what’s the point of having two different buildings?) The building was lovely, though.



My mom and aunt came out of the restrooms and were mobbed by my children before everyone settled down to watch cartoons (and enjoy suckers from my mom – the indulgent grandma thing was starting already!) while I got us checked in.



All of our requests had been taken care of, and we got into our room, though it was only about 2. My mom and aunt’s room wasn’t, however. So they had signed up for the text message and decided to hang out with us for a little while. We left them at Bell Services (I swear, our van was so packed there was no way they’d fit) and went to find Martinique 26.


We were very pleased with the location of the room. It was extremely close to Old Port Royale (we’d paid for a preferred room, especially for our group), and there was a nice little courtyard behind it that we thought would be good for visiting. Before we knew it, Mom and Dee had joined us (they’d actually walked because Bell Services told them it would be at least 10 minutes before they would load) and we were checking out the room (sorry…my kids had already descended before I took the pictures!).





We were pleased with the room, especially after spending our last three trips at All Star Movies! The kids were complaining they were hungry (lunch wasn’t eaten well again), and we knew they probably wouldn’t eat well where we’d planned to eat dinner, so we headed to the main building to get them some food. We enjoyed getting a good look at the resort on our way! The kids really were excited about it.








The kids’ second lunch/early dinner consisted of two pails full of chicken nuggets and fries. I’d heard about these meals here on the DIS, and was glad they were there (chicken nuggets are usually a staple for my older two, who are insanely picky) with applesauce and jello. I’m sure being cooped up in a car for 5-6 hours had something to do with it, but they just didn’t eat well. Will wouldn’t have anything to do with sitting down. While we were there, my in-laws called to tell us they were on the ground and headed for Magical Express, and Shelley and Tim called to tell us they were delayed – what a bummer! As it was after 3 when we left, we went ahead and checked on Mom and Dee’s room…no luck.

We wandered a bit more until everyone got there. To our surprise, everyone else was assigned a room! Now, there had been a housekeeper still working near the room we were assigned to before we left for OPR. But she was gone now, and my in-laws had been assigned to the room we’d last seen her cleaning. So why didn’t my mom and aunt have a room yet? We didn’t want to leave for Downtown Disney until they had their room, so we ended up hanging out until 5 when they would send someone out to check to see if the room was clean in person. I managed to unpack most of our things while we were waiting. Once we finally had everyone settled, we hopped our first bus of the trip – we were headed to Downtown Disney! (We actually had to run for it!) This is my FIL, MIL, Will, Jack, and Bryan's Uncle Tim (Un to my kids)



Dinner was at Earl of Sandwich. I took the kids to Goofy’s for a snack, since they had already eaten (I figured it would make everything a little easier) and then met up with everyone else. We had fun catching up with each other while we ate (I had the Hawaiian Barbeque sandwich – yummy!), and the kids did fairly well despite the fact that the place was packed.



We then headed to World of Disney to get the kids their traditional “huggies” (that’s what Jack calls stuffed animals). Bryan and I have gotten one for each kid every trip, and we have started out with a shopping trip the past few times so that they could have it the whole time we were there. We ended up with a stuffed Wheezy (the penguin from Toy Story 2), a stuffed Rosetta (one of the Fairies), and a stuffed Mickey in a Sheriff Woody costume.

We took several more pictures,





(This is one of those "every trip" shots)


but it was getting later and we still needed to make a Wal-Mart run. So we hopped the bus back home and went back to the room. Bryan finished cleaning out the van and asked at the desk for the nearest Wal-Mart, and my MIL and I took the kids to try out the pool. Wal-Mart ended up being quite an experience – Bry texted me at one point to say that the crowd there put the after-Thanksgiving crowds we were used to experiencing to shame! Stoney (Bryan’s dad) called his mom to say that every single shopping lane had been open with a line at least 7 or 8 people long – insane! Apparently, Wal-Mart is the place to be on Saturday nights in the Disney area! They eventually got back (My mom and aunt, as well as Bryan’s grandmother and great-aunt, had also gone along with them) and we all settled down for the night. We had to be up and at ‘em pretty early to be ready for Star Wars Weekends!

Coming up – would the Force be with us??
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:05 AM   #21
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glad you could utilize my lessons learned...

we hit our ATL traffic on the way home about 30 miles out of the city, it was terrible.

on the way down not a problem for us though.
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:08 AM   #22
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Whoa. Walmart sounds really crowded.

I think it's sweet that you always buy a stuffed animal. I used to do that but the last two trips I haven't. I plan to get one in October for sure.
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Old 06-24-2010, 03:23 PM   #23
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Sunday June 13
DHS Last day of Star Wars Weekend
May the Force be with us!!

We woke up early to be at DHS at opening. Today was the day my DH was really excited about. We ate bagels (bought at the crazy Walmart) in the room. The bus for DHS came pretty quickly. Our large group tended to break up into smaller groups during the day. The good thing about our TS meals was that it always brought everyone back together.



Oh, I forgot that before we left for DHS we all went to guest services to get our Park Hopper tickets and meal plan added. We had added an extra night before we left. So, Saturday night was a room only reservation. We had to get new Keys to the World for the rest of our trip. The transactions went smoothly. DH was able to trade some pins. He loved pin trading on this trip. He got me some really cool ones. I will share pics at the end of the TR of all of his finds.



So, on this day we began our day with me, DH, Jen, Bryan, Jack, Haley and Uncle Tim. The day was already pretty steamy. That is my nice way of saying so hot you want to attach ice packs to your body. We got into DHS and right away we could see the Stormtroppers and my DH's favorite character Boba Fett.

We finally were let into the park and they took us up to a rope where we waited another 15 minutes or so. Finally, they let us in. We split up and my memory is fuzzy here. I think Jen went to get fastpasses for TSM. Bryan went to get the kids signed up for Jedi Training and Tim, UT and I went to find Boba's Bounty the Star Wars store.
I snapped some pictures on the way.




I wanted to run through this water. It looked really cold and inviting.

We finally saw this:


One good thing about going on the last day of SWW was a lot of the merchandise was marked down 50% off. We shopped for a while and then Tim looks up and he said "I can't believe it! It is Jeremy Bullock". Now if you are not a SW fan or married to one like me you are probably saying "Who?". He is the actor who played Boba Fett (which as I stated above was my husband's favorite character). He was shopping with a special Disney guide. I think by this time Bryan came with the kids. He was excited to see him also. DH and UT were able to talk to him for a few minutes and he was very nice.
Here he is shopping with his VIP guide:






That was a special highlight of their week. DH made some purchases and we all headed out. Around this time I think we saw some SW characters. Bryan got in line with the kids to get pictures. Jen and I went in search of a good parade spot. It was super hot by this point so our ultimate goal was to find some shade. We were able to find a bench that had an umbrella on it.

In the next update:
SW Parade
A great place to get cool
Sci Fi Dine In[/SIZE][/COLOR]

Last edited by belle8306; 06-29-2010 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 06-24-2010, 03:51 PM   #24
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Great updates! We are leaving in 17 days to drive for the first time with two eight year olds...any last minute advice?
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:54 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FauntleroyFAN07 View Post
glad you could utilize my lessons learned...

we hit our ATL traffic on the way home about 30 miles out of the city, it was terrible
on the way down not a problem for us though.
We hit Atlanta at 8 p.m. on a Sunday on the way back, so it was pretty smooth sailing.

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Whoa. Walmart sounds really crowded.

I think it's sweet that you always buy a stuffed animal. I used to do that but the last two trips I haven't. I plan to get one in October for sure.
I couldn't believe it when he told me how crowded it was! Yes, the kids love getting their "huggies," as Jack calls them. We didn't start it as a tradition, necessarily, but we've really come to enjoy it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by disneydreamingdebby View Post
Great updates! We are leaving in 17 days to drive for the first time with two eight year olds...any last minute advice?
Do you own a DS and a DVD player???? Honestly, those saved our sanity a few times. I really wanted to listen to an audiobook as a family, but our kids' ages are a bit too skewed to do that easily. I also had more than enough goodies to give them whenever we stopped...I really don't have to buy stocking stuffers this year because I have so many extra! One of Haley and Jack's favorite treats was a little zippered pouch with a couple of dollars in it to spend at our next gas stop. They really got into picking their own things, and I made myself sit back and honestly let them pick what they wanted...as long as it didn't have caffeine in it!

The way down was MUCH easier than the ride back up. We found $10 DS games at Walmart before we left and gave those to them after our first stop on our second day of driving home (the longer day). That ended up working out really well...we honestly didn't hear a peep out of Jack! And they both spent a lot of time playing with figures - Jack brought his Star Wars figures with him (and picked a few new ones up while we were there) and Haley ended up buying two different Polly Pocket-type sets while we were there and played with those. Hope this is helpful!
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Old 06-25-2010, 07:30 AM   #26
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Star Wars Time!

As Shelley mentioned, we were up and at ‘em early Sunday morning. There was a lot of excitement in our room – Star Wars Weekends was something my older two had been talking about for a long time (of course, their Dad had nothing to do with that…).

Before we could get out the door, however, my aunt knocked on the door to tell me that my mom was sick. She wasn’t sure what had happened, but apparently Mom had woken up nauseous and was in no shape to head to the park. Add this to the fact that my aunt was just now in the clear because she’d been taking antibiotics for strep throat for 48 hours now, and they were the room to avoid. Aunt Dee told me she would stay with my mom because they could both use the rest, and they’d try to meet us for our late lunch at Sci-Fi.

Ok, we were two people down. Then my MIL came over and offered to take Will. He was still sleeping, and she was worried about him keeping up with us as we ran around DHS looking for Star Wars people. That ended up being great – he had much more fun with them that morning at Epcot, and we were much more mobile as we toured in the fairly high crowds that day. So when we hit the bus, it was just us, Tim and Shelley, and UT.

After the show (nice pictures, Shelley) and rope drop, we made a beeline for the Sounds Dangerous attraction to get the kids into the Jedi Academy. We originally had thought we’d leave this until Friday, when we’d be back at DHS. But now I was going to be at the Keys to the Kingdom tour that day. Plus, we’d heard that you could sign up for a show today and avoid standing in line! So we went for it. I grabbed the kids and actually managed to get there first. Since we were already in line, I told Bryan to go ahead and go to the store (my DH loves to shop, especially for SW things!). We waited in line…thankfully, we got to some shade fairly quickly. It was getting hot! I was a little concerned about standing in line and then not getting a spot, especially since Haley was having a hard time adjusting to the heat and was very vocal about not wanting to stand there. But we got through, and ended up with two spots in the 4:15 show! The kids were excited!!

Then we headed to find the others…I knew they were in the store, but had no idea where that had been set up. I called Bry’s cell…no answer. We had that a lot this trip, because it was hard to hear your phone. I ended up putting it on vibrate later, but then I didn’t hear it if it was in my bag in the room, so I still missed calls. As we wandered, we saw a character meet and greet that had almost no line, so we jumped in and broke out the autograph books for the first time! For those of you who are not crazy about SW, this is Commander Cody, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s general in the Clone Wars cartoon (yes, when you live with it, you absorb some of it!).



The kids were excited to see him. Then there was this cut-out that we just had to pose with…


Nothing like a two-headed storm trooper!

Bryan called me back in the middle of the meet-n-greet and managed to get through to me the name of the store, so I was able to ask for directions. We headed to…



…and promptly heard the story about Jeremy Bulloch…apparently we’d just missed him. Too cool! At this point, I left and got FP for TSM. I also was in search of sunscreen. We tend to put sunscreen on the kids on the bus ride to save time. Well, when I went to use the spray sunscreen I’d brought in my bag…it wouldn’t spray. We tried to collect the dribbles coming out to smear on the kids, but it wasn’t working. Several of the guys tried to take it apart and use it anyway, but it wasn’t working. So now I was going to have to buy sunscreen in the park before my kids fried in the sun. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap! When I eventually found it, I paid $14. Ouch! Another lesson learned: test the sunscreen before you leave the room!

After I got the fast passes, I sat outside the store exit and visited with the very friendly cast member there. We shared stories about people we’d seen in costumes around the park already, and how hot they must be on a day like today. When everyone came out, we headed over to where I’d seen people waiting for Boba and Jango Fett, as I knew the guys and the kids would want to see them. We saw this lady walking around, but she wasn’t willing to stand still for a line of people to take pictures with her.



This is when Shelley and I decided to find a spot for the parade (and a snack, since our ADR was for 2:55). We tried a few different ones before finding a bench with an umbrella (technically, it wasn’t offering much shade at the moment, but we hoped it would as the sun moved. Tim and UT caught up with us, and eventually so did Bryan and the kids after they got Jango’s autograph.



We got some snacks – smoothies, pretzels, and ice cream – as we waited, and befriended a guy next to us from Kentucky who was very friendly. As we waited, they started lining people up in front of us! So DH went to the line and sat down, along with UT, to get a prime spot for pictures and video. And as you can see from the pictures below, it was worth it! These are some of the best ones he took.









(continued on next post)
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Old 06-25-2010, 07:36 AM   #27
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A few last parade pics...







He got some great video, too. Meanwhile, we stayed back by the bench…along with several others who came along at the last minute. They kept bumping into us, which was really annoying. It got hard for the kids to see, so for a while, Tim put them up on a railing.



About 1/3 of the way through the parade, though, someone told us we couldn’t have them up there. Tim put Jack on his shoulders, but Haley was content to just stand on the bench. Jack could see the people coming, and was shouting out the names of all of them. Someone standing next to Tim said Jack could’ve been an official announcer because he knew all of the characters!

At this point, I later found out, my mom and aunt had made it to the parks. This was the crowd they were facing...



So my aunt knew they wouldn’t get any good pictures, but as they walked, she put her camera up and tried to get a few shots. It turns out, she passed right by us. In this pictures, you can see the umbrella we were standing on, and Jack’s bright blue hat as he’s up on Tim’s shoulders. You can also see Bryan sitting on the ground in his floppy hat taking pictures using his monopod. We laughed when we saw this one!



Mom was better, but still feeling pretty woozy. They went in search of an air-conditioned attraction, unbeknownst to us, and we decided to do the same as the parade ended. We went over to the Magic of Disney Animation and joined the next drawing class. We drew Daisy, and we all ended up with decent pictures! This was a first for my little family (Tim and Shelley had done it before, and really enjoyed it). It was a great respite from the heat! I don’t have any pictures of the drawing class itself (got any, Shelley?) but afterwards we saw Frozone and Mr. Incredible, and had to stop to get a few shots.


We still had time before our ADR…what did we do? Stay tuned to find out!
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Old 06-25-2010, 09:09 AM   #28
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You all are very brave to conquer those crowds!

How neat that they were able to meet an actor! That must have been such a thrill for them.
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Old 06-25-2010, 09:27 AM   #29
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You all are very brave to conquer those crowds!

How neat that they were able to meet an actor! That must have been such a thrill for them.
They were so excited to meet them! You can see the look of excitement on their faces in that picture of Tim and UT! DH couldn't believe they could just walk up and talk to him when people had stood in line for hours before the park opened just to see him!

The crowds were nutty, but we knew they would be. The goal on this day was SWW. Everything else could wait for the other day we had planned here. But you'll see later that we did get a few things done!
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Old 06-25-2010, 09:47 AM   #30
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Do you own a DS and a DVD player???? Hope this is helpful!
We don't have a DS- I have considered packing the Wii for the ride home. I just have to figure out how to rig the sensor bar. We do have a DVD player. I like the idea of giving them money to buy stuff in the gas stations. Candy, candy and more candy...not too worried about it. Soon, they will have to have expanders and won't be able to have the sticky stuff they love. I will have to figure out some items for the ride home.


Shelly, Tim must still be so excited about meeting Jeremy Bulloch!

Great pictures of the parade. I plan on having my daughters watch the Star War movies before we go. I better get on that soon!

I love that you have pics of your gang watching the parade.

Sorry part of the party wasn't well. I hope it doesn't become a problem for anyone else and Mom enjoyed herself anyway.

Deb
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