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Old 05-09-2011, 11:07 AM   #1
FreezinRafiki
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Houston, We Have A Secret: A TX Vacation With A WDW Surprise ...aaand Done! Page 43

This trip started with two deaths. It was prolonged with another.

Those aren't two sentences that you would usually expect to hear from what turned out to be a fantastic family vacation. But then again, this wasn't a typical family vacation. This trip was really two trips, combined into one awesome vacation.

The first part, Phase 1, traces it roots back many years. My mom's only sibling, my Aunt Jo, has lived in the Houston, TX area for years. Since we live up in Wisconsin, we don't get to see her or her family very often. My mom did take my brother and I down there when we were both in high school back in the early 90s. Since then, my Aunt has reminded us - repeatedly - that we have a standing invitation to come back to Texas any time we want.

Then in September of 2010, my mother passed away. Two weeks later, her mother died. (For those of you keeping track, those are the first two deaths mentioned in the opening.) My Aunt was up in Wisconsin a lot that fall, and we got to talking. She again reminded us that my family had an open invitation to come down and spend time with her in Houston. We decided that there is no time like the present, so we started planning a trip around my daughter's kindergarten spring break during the last week of April, 2011.

The second part of the trip, Phase 2, has it's roots going back to circa 2008, when my wife Bambi's parents moved to Lakeland, FL (a 45 minute drive away from Walt Disney World). We've been down there numerous times to visit them, and they come up once or twice a year, but our kids don't get to see their grandparents very much. It's hard on the kids, but it's hard on the grandparents as well. For this reason, we've never been able to keep a trip to Disney World a surprise. The kids always know when our next Disney trip is because it is when we get to see grandma & grandpa next.

Well, around the middle of February, just as we're getting into the heavy planning for our April trip to Texas, Bambi's father's father passes away. (Death #3 on your scorecard). We all gather up in Northwestern Wisconsin for the funeral. Her dad stays up there for an extra week or so to help out his mom, but then has to return to his normal life down in Florida. Bambi's mom calls about a week later and says that he is feeling pretty down in the dumps about being so far away from everyone. And that's where the interesting ideas start to flow...

Our plan for Houston was to fly down on Friday, April 22 and only stay until Wednesday or so. What if instead of flying back home, we fly to Orlando for 4 days, then come home? I had been watching airfares, but hadn't booked any yet. A quick check showed me that adding that third leg to the flight really wouldn't cost that much more money. We had a DVC reservation for the trip we have planned in June, but we can cancel that and use those points in April. (We'll just stay the entire time in June at grandma & grandpa's house). We bought annual passes for a trip last December, so tickets are taken care of. And we can keep it a secret! I've always wanted to surprise the kids with a trip to Walt Disney World, and here was our chance! And since they already knew we were flying to Houston, they wouldn't suspect a thing until we landed in Orlando! I love it when a plan comes together!

So who are we?

This is who we are:


Left to right, we have:
  • Me (Barry). Husband, Father, all around pretty good guy.
  • DS4 (Evan). Evan is....well, Evan. I'm sorry, but I've been speaking English my entire life, took Advanced Placement English courses in high school, and took all of the required English classes in College. And I don't know of a word to describe Evan. He's an awesome little guy that has exactly two speeds: sleep and Go!. He's always on the move and wanting to do things. He's been a Disney veteran since we celebrated his 1st birthday at Walt Disney World.
  • DD6 (Madison). Madison is a very sweet little girl that we were foster parents for that we eventually adopted. She loves music, dance, art, princesses, fairies...she's girl through and through. Her kindergarten teacher says she shows "emerging leadership". I said that we see that too at home. But we call it being bossy. Her first experience a Disney World was when she was only seven weeks old. She was placed in our home, and we decided that she was coming on vacation with us!
  • DW (Bambi). Bambi is the light of my life and the glue that holds our family together. She does such an amazing job with the kids, especially considering she not only has the regular challenges of being a working mom, but she has to deal with me too. It's hard to tell if her passion for Disney World is bigger than mine, but suffice to say they're both way up there. She's E3yore here on the Disboads, and you can expect her to pop in here and correct any inaccuracies that I may have. And trust me, there will be several.
(If anyone is interested, that picture was taken at Hermann park in Houston.)

It wasn't your normal trip, those this won't be your normal trip report. We started at home in Racine, WI, drove to Chicago to fly to Houston, then flew to Orlando, then back to Chicago for the drive home. I'll keep most of this TR focused on Disney, but there will be several posts worth of Houston activities.

The external tank has been fueled, weather is clear, and mission control has given us the green light. We are Go For Launch in T minus 10...9...8...

Coming Up Next: We head south - and a little west.
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Old 05-09-2011, 11:15 AM   #2
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Table of Contents

Southbound
A Three (non-Theme) Park Day.
Easter In Houston - Part 1
Easter in Houston - Part 2
NASA
Galveston Island
Houston's Last Day
The Reveal! And Our First Dose of Disney Magic
Wandering Magic Kingdom, Looking for our Kids.
Swimmin', Eatin' 'n Shoppin'
EPCOT in the AM
The Rest of Epcot
The 'Ohana Mahna Mahna Phenomena
Oh The Terror! (And not just the Tower)
Lights! Motors! Action! French Paper Towels!
DHS in the afternoon
Finishing Up DHS
The Last Full Day - Magic Kingdom Morning
Frontierland Hoedown: A Tale of Enchantment, Loss, Heartache, and Joy. And Dancing.
We Say Good Bye to the Magic Kingdom
Homeward Bound
...aaaand Done!
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Old 05-09-2011, 11:22 AM   #3
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Barry, you put us to shame with your TRs! I'm in!

And FIRST!
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Old 05-09-2011, 11:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
This trip started with two deaths. It was prolonged with another.
I remember you guys were getting hit hard all at once for a while there. I'm glad you used the family tragedy as a way to create more family time together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
I love it when a plan comes together!
The A-Team! Sorry, old habit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
(If anyone is interested, that picture was taken at Hermann park in Houston.)
I was interested.
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Old 05-09-2011, 11:32 AM   #5
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Here!
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Old 05-09-2011, 12:07 PM   #6
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Count me in Barry!
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Old 05-09-2011, 12:29 PM   #7
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I'm down with the sickness...er, FreezinRafiki Trip Report...er, sickness...


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Old 05-09-2011, 12:39 PM   #8
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I'm in! <== thumb
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Old 05-09-2011, 12:44 PM   #9
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I think your DS and mine should get together. Diego also age 4 only has two moods sleep (when we can finally get him to bed) and go. Excited to see how you do Disney with a kids like that (we are going for our first trip in Jan).
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Old 05-09-2011, 12:54 PM   #10
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I'm here....and can't wait for Bambi's great one-liners.
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Old 05-09-2011, 01:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post

It's hard to tell if her passion for Disney World is bigger than mine, but suffice to say they're both way up there.
This is not even a competition. I blow your level of "passion" for Disney out of the water. How many years did I have to beg you to take me? How many years have I begged you to move us to Central Florida? Who do you think puts the ideas of all these trips into your head?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
She's E3yore here on the Disboads, and you can expect her to pop in here and correct any inaccuracies that I may have. And trust me, there will be several.
I have already seen a few inaccuracies.
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Old 05-09-2011, 05:21 PM   #13
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Woo hoo new trip report and maybe page one.
Can't wait to see what you did in Houston....We are planning to be back down that way for July shutdown. I miss the convenience of everything, but I don't miss the TRAFFIC!
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Last edited by kaileighbug; 05-09-2011 at 05:42 PM. Reason: went back to read...
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:11 PM   #14
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Count me in!!
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E3yore View Post
This is not even a competition. I blow your level of "passion" for Disney out of the water. How many years did I have to beg you to take me? How many years have I begged you to move us to Central Florida? Who do you think puts the ideas of all these trips into your head?



I have already seen a few inaccuracies.
Yes, Bambi has already started.
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