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Old 08-28-2011, 09:21 PM   #1
kokotg
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Our COMPLETELY New and TOTALLY Different 6th September Disney trip: A pre-trip report

I was not going to write a pre-trip report. “Won't it be more exciting,” I thought, “to wait and write about stuff we actually do at Disney World?” But then.... I just....have SO MUCH to say! And DH has already heard all of these things. Many, many times. Fortunately, he's more of a numbers guy (he's a math teacher, in fact), so his memory for Disney minutiae is not nearly as amazing as mine (if I do say so myself). This means I can repeat all the details of our trip approximately 14 times before they finally sink in and he just can't listen to them one more time. But now we're less than three weeks away from the trip, and even DH has our itinerary memorized.

So here I am.

Our first (grown-up, as a family) WDW trip was in 2006, when the boys were 5, 3, and 9 months old.




SO little!

We went back the next year:



Then again the next year...this time with my in-laws:



Then we took a year off....to go to Disneyland with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and SIL's family:


This one's actually at Legoland, but it has a bigger percentage of the people from the trip in it than anything else I could find

Then it was back to Disney World, this time with a bunch of friends (whose pictures I won't post, since I haven't asked them if that's okay):



...which brings us up to this year. You can read about some of these past adventures in my sometimes completed trip reports, links in sig.

Next up, I will tell you why exactly THIS September trip is so very, VERY different from those OTHER September trips.

Why is this trip so unequivocally NEW?
Introductions
Itinerary
The Five-year-old Chimes In
Vet bills
New shoes
Countdown calendars (such as they are)
Dining plans
First day: Magic Kingdom and Kona
Second day: Animal Kingdom and Tusker House
More shoes! Plus costume planning
Third day: Epcot and Biergarten
Fourth day: Animal Kingdom and Boma
Fifth day: Hollywood Studios and Mama Melrose
Gluten-free talk
More shopping!
Sixth Day: Magic Kingdom and 'Ohana
T-shirts! Kermit!
Mini-update w/itouch replacement action
Umm. More shopping. But just a little
A thrilling (to me) development
LTT and one week to go!
Seventh Day: Epcot/Kim Possible



Last edited by kokotg; 09-09-2011 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:39 PM   #2
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Here is what DH says every year: “I think this year we should go somewhere different.”

Then I say things like:
“But we did something different the year we went to DisneyLAND!”
“But it's my favorite week of the whole year!”
“But think of your children!'
“How can you even say such a thing?!”

And every year, so far, I manage to talk him into one more Disney trip.

This year, as the trip gets closer, he is alternating between being really excited about it and thinking that it's just going to be the same old thing again. So, for my husband, a list of reasons why this trip is going to be completely brand-new, amazingly and wonderfully different from any of our past trips:

1. It's our first trip without a stroller.

This is not actually true. We didn't use a stroller last year, BUT we were with two other families who were using strollers, so it was almost like we did have a stroller, since we had to wait while strollers were parked and retrieved, etc. Now, my youngest is only 5, and I am not one of those people who is of the mindset that all children older than two MUST walk on their own in order to build character. I would be perfectly happy to rent a stroller for Gus. But Gus does not think of himself as a five year old; he thinks of himself as someone who is capable of absolutely anything his older brothers are capable of, and, as such, he absolutely REFUSES to ride in a stroller. Even 2 years ago at Disneyland, when he was still 3, it was very rare that he would consent to a stroller ride. Last year, he wouldn't even consider it. By the third day in, he was clearly exhausted. At one point, I told DH to sneak off and rent a stroller while Gus wasn't looking. But Gus was too quick for us; he noticed DH was gone, and I fessed up about our secret plan. “He's getting you a stroller,” I said. “Why?!” wailed Gus indignantly, “WHY is he wasting our money?!” I caught DH and we abandoned the stroller rental plan.

So, anyway, since getting Gus to ride in a stroller is a lost cause, we will instead enjoy the relative freedom of not having one. And the money saved by not renting one.

2.I'll have new shoes.

I just ordered them the other day.They should be here in plenty of time for me to break them in for the trip. I tried to order special Disney shoes last year:

Keen Petaluma Mary Janes

Only not that color; they were black with sort of rust colored flowers. They don't seem to make the same ones anymore. They were really, really cute, and when I went for a 20 minute walk in them the day they arrived, they tore my heels up so badly I had trouble falling asleep that night and my heels weren't all the way better for more than a week. I sent them back and wore old, ugly Crocs on the trip. This year I decided not to abandon Crocs entirely, as they've never given me a bit of trouble on trips, but I went with a different kind, that also happened to be on sale on the website:

The Athens

But I was also still itching to splurge on some cute shoes, like I didn't get to last year, so I got these, too:



I've never had Danskos before, but I hear very good things. We'll see!


3. We will be all by ourselves.

Okay, this isn't really new, either. It was just the five of us for our first two trips. But the three trips since then (along with all non-Disney traveling we've done)n have been with family and/or friends. Which is a lovely way to travel, but it's very different touring with a big group, and I'm looking forward to being on our own again this year.

4.We're going to watch the Halloween parade together.

We went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for the first time last year. But we lost track of time before the parade and, long story short, I wound up watching it in one place with Ari while Dave was stuck somewhere else with the younger kids. The Halloween party is a last minute addition to this year's plan; Dave actually suggested it himself, which completely shocked me. Where has my stingy husband gone? Disney does something to him, I guess; one year he surprised me with an overpriced, totally unnecessary refillable mug! It made me so happy.

5. I'll be making my trip report purple for the first time ever.

I've never done anything so...daring before. Always just plain old black, default font and size. But all the kids seem to be doing it, so I thought I'd give it a try. Purple is my favorite color. Okay, I just went and made the font a little smaller. I just couldn't pull off the bigger one. And I changed to Arial instead of Arial black. But it's still purple!

There! You see? TOTALLY different trip this year.

Next up: introductions, itinerary, and all that stuff. I am also working on getting my 10 year old to help me out with his own commentary. He's become quite the blogger lately, so I think he's game.

Last edited by kokotg; 08-30-2011 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:03 PM   #3
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(I might actually like the Arial black better. Has anyone in the history of pre-trip reports EVER obsessed as much over their font as I have?)

I have, on my desk, a sheet of notebook paper that documents all 4700 incarnations of our itinerary. There have been many changes.

The parts that haven't changed:

our dates. Well, more or less. We're leaving on Thursday, September 15 and returning home Saturday, September 24. Our county has a funky fall break that week, which is what makes it possible for me to be married to a high school teacher and still have relatively uncrowded Disney trips. Our kids are homeschooled, so if it weren't for my pesky husband and his pesky JOB, we could go whenever we wanted. Like sometime when the temperature drops below 90. But that's okay. We actually need his money to pay for our trips. Also, we think he's kind of nice to have around.

Our family. There actually was a brief period when my mother-in-law considered coming down for part of the trip, but it didn't work out. So there is only us. Here is what we look like:


Look how active we look here! We are riding bikes!



This is all of us this past June, on our annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod. Dave's mother has a house in Falmouth, that her parents bought when she was a teenager. It is looking like Dave's aunt will be taking over as sole owner of the house by next summer, though, so this might be the last.ever.family.picture we take on that porch. We'll still go to the Cape, but probably another part of it.

Introductions! Milo asks us about 15 times a day what our favorite rides are (and our second favorite. And our third favorite), so I'll throw that in.

Me: Gretchen. I'm 36, but I keep thinking I'm already 37 and then being kind of pleasantly surprised to remember I'm still 36. Without me, there would be no Disney trips. And how tragic would that be? In a former life, I did things like go to grad school. Now I homeschool the kids, which is more work than grad school, but also more fun. Favorite ride: hmm...maybe Tower of Terror

DH: Dave, still only 35! So young! Dave teaches high school math and likes Disney a lot, but not as much as I do. But he is very tolerant of my obsession. He's a nice guy. Last year he had side burns in our Disney pictures, and I'm currently trying to talk him into growing them again. He thinks they look silly, though. Then he starts talking about growing a goatee, and I get really worried. Favorite ride: unable to choose. He can only narrow it down to Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Everest, and Rock n' Roller Coaster

Ari: the eldest. Ari is smart and funny and just a wee bit cynical. He is planning to help me out with this trip report...adding in the 10 year old perspective. Favorite ride: umm...I think it's Rock n' Roller Coaster. I'll have to check with him tomorrow and make sure. Shh...he's asleep right now! Edited: nope, it's Tower of Terror

Milo: 8, the middle child, and he fulfills most of the stereotypes. Milo is easily delighted and just wants everyone to be happy. Favorite ride: Rock n' Roller Coaster Edit: I was so sure about this, but today he tells me it's Everest.

August/Gus: 5. The littlest, but he'd rather you didn't call him that. He tells me that he's fine being called Gus at home, but he prefers August “in public.” Before Gus was born, I was a little worried about him, because all the Sagittarius boys I know are so....serious (please excuse my astrology fixation. It is decidedly out of character. Generally I am very skeptical). But then I thought about Jon Stewart. And Walt Disney! And I thought that a super earnest two year old would probably be the most adorable thing EVER. And he was. And still is. Earnest and adorable. Favorite ride: Expedition Everest Confirmed: one out of three isn't bad.

Next up: the promised itinerary run-down!

Last edited by kokotg; 08-30-2011 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:52 PM   #4
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Had I started a pre-trip months ago, there would have been endless suspense and excitement as I changed our itinerary over and over and OVER again. Alas...I really and truly believe things are pretty well set now, leaving my pre-trip utterly devoid of itinerary suspense. Things you don't need to wonder about, because I can just tell you:

Will you REALLY spend the last 3 nights of your trip at the Contemporary?

Sadly, no. That particular plan was launched back before a summer full of unexpected doctor's bills, vet bills, a new air conditioner, etc. etc. Perhaps another year! This year it's going to be, once again, all POP all the time. Which is fine. We love POP, and we have to get 2 rooms there, which means we have lots of room to spread out.

But what about the Dolphin? Weren't you thinking about that, too?

Well, yes. We were thinking about that, as it would have saved some money over the Contemporary but would still have been something new. But, you know, I just couldn't get that excited about it, so when we called and found out we could get another night at POP with free dining, we jumped on it.

I hear that you might not make it to the Magic Kingdom until WEDNESDAY? Isn't that awfully late?

You know, I thought that, too, but I couldn't really figure out any other schedule that worked. So Dave is taking a personal day on Friday so we can leave Thursday night, start our vacation a bit early and go to MK our very first day! Hooray!

Okay, so what's your itinerary look like now?

I'm so glad you asked.

Thursday, Sept. 15: leave as soon as Dave gets home from work, stop for the night in Lake City, FL
Friday, Sept. 16: get a very early start, check in at POP, and head to the Magic Kingdom
Saturday, Sept 17: Animal Kingdom
Sunday, Sept. 18: Epcot, Illuminations
Monday, Sept. 19: Animal Kingdom
Tuesday, Sept. 20: Hollywood Studios, Fantasmic
Wednesday, Sept. 21: Magic Kingdom
Thursday, Sept. 22: Epcot, focus on WS and Kim Possible missions
Friday, Sept. 23: MK, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


Why, that reminds me. OTHER ways this trip will be completely new and totally different:

*We're seeing Fantasmic for the first time ever. We've always meant to see it before, but it just never happened.

*We're planning to do ALL of the Kim Possible missions at Epcot. The kids did 2 last year and loved them so much they decided they wanted to devote a full day to doing all of them next time. Dave and I are looking forward to spending a lot of time sitting on benches sipping international beverages while this goes on.

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Old 08-29-2011, 09:01 PM   #5
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(I'm just going to keep posting as if someone's reading. Sort of a visualization exercise. If I imagine myself with readers, the readers will magically come into being. Like with Walt and the birds and stuff on Lost.)

Do you want to see something very sad?

This is how Gus spent his morning:



He's allergic to EVERYTHING, we found out. Well, everything they tested him for, anyway. So to make him feel better, we had brownies for dessert tonight, we're ordering expensive, dust-mite proof mattress covers, AND...I promised him he could help me write my pre-trip report!

Gus' favorite color is purple, too, so I'm not sure what color to use for his contributions (more font fretting!) Hmm....how about green? Green and Gus start with the same letter!

First, he wants to share some general thoughts on Disney:

My top 4 rides are:

1. Everest: because it has the Yeti
2. It's a Small World: I like it because of the guy with the boomerang at the end
3. Test Track: because it goes really fast
4. Tower of Terror: I like it because it is so scary

I'm most excited about Fantasmic because I've never seen it before. And, according to our Disney book, it says that it's scary, and I like scary things.

My second most excited about thing is the Crystal Palace because we've never been there before as well.

When we went to Rock n' Roller coaster, I wasn't tall enough, but my brothers went on it. And the person who was standing in front of the ride gave me a family fast pass. This year I might use it if I'm tall enough.


At this point he was kind of running out of steam, so I decided to conduct a Disney interview with him:

Who's your favorite Disney character?

Mickey, because we have a video game about him called Epic Mickey.

What's your favorite Disney restaurant?

My favorite restaurant is Boma...in the world, because I love buffets for one thing. And two, it has so much.

What's your favorite park?

Animal Kingdom, because that has my favorite ride in it. And it has lots of animals, and I LOVE animals.


So there you have it. More exciting glimpses into the mind of a five year old in future installments!

Also, I'll get around to talking about our dining reservations.

And my 10 year old still has things to say. Maybe I can even get the 8 year old to talk.

Last edited by kokotg; 08-30-2011 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:05 AM   #6
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Do you want to see something ELSE sad?



Isn't she pathetic? That's Lucy the dog. But the cone of shame isn't actually the saddest part.

The saddest part is: do you know how much surgery to fix a hematoma in Lucy's ear costs?

About the same amount as a couple of nights at the Contemporary with a 35% off code.

But Lucy's worth it (right?)


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Old 08-30-2011, 02:32 PM   #7
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They're here! They're here!



I just put them on. So far, so good, but I haven't walked anywhere in them yet. They are not as adorable as the Keens I bought last year, for they lack adorable flowers, but they are also not cutting huge gashes in my heels, so I guess it's a fair trade.

ETA: incidentally, I swear I shrank all those pictures from the first posts in photobucket, but they're still showing up huge. At least for me. Sorry. Not my fault!



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Old 08-30-2011, 04:43 PM   #8
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Okay, so, to sum up. We'll be arriving on Friday, September 16, with luck around 10, and checking in to POP for 7 nights. We're actually still hoping to add another night on at Pop at the end (as it is, our check out date is Friday the 23rd). If we can't get that (and it's not looking good) we'll probably book something off property for that last night. We were planning to drive back to Lake City and stay there Friday night, until we decided to go to the Halloween party. A 2 ½ hour drive after leaving the party at midnight seems like a little much. 8 day tickets, no park hoppers, free QS dining, which we've upgraded to regular dining.

I think this is the point in most pre-trip reports where people post pictures of the amazingly crafty countdown calendars they have lovingly made so that their children will have the most magical experience imaginable, even before the trip starts.

I am not crafty.

I take approximately 4000 pictures every year at WDW, but I do not spend countless hours organizing them into scrapbooks. One year I managed to order prints and get them into a photo album. It is somewhat likely that one of these years I will do that again, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that I will even get really ambitious and write some captions. But that is it.

Here is our countdown calendar:



Ari's, in particular. That's right—my kid actually asked me for a countdown calendar, and, instead of making him one, he had to go find an app to download.


In years past, I have made some attempts at non-virtual countdowns:


The problem with this one was that we kept forgetting to cut a chain off and then having to count to make sure we were staying on track.


The absolute pinnacle of my craftiness

The last couple of years, I have not even managed anything like this. One year we put Mickey stickers on our regular calendar.

I can only hope my kids don't spend TOO much time in therapy lamenting their utterly uncrafty childhoods.

Oh, my! I was just upstairs putting laundry away, and I noticed this:



on Ari's bulletin board. You'll notice he hasn't been keeping up with it very well. I asked him why, and he shrugged and said, “now I have the app.” Non-crafty genes: successfully passed down to the next generation!

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Old 08-30-2011, 04:49 PM   #9
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Sounds like you guys are going to have a blast...count me into your PTR!

And might I add you'll LOVE the Crystal Palace, it's a must do for us

Its a dream of mine to stay at...well any Deluxe, but alas as newly weds where one (me) is a student it's not in our foreseeable future. We had plans to stay at Wilderness Lodge for our honeymoon, but ended up going to Spain instead...

...however we too are staying at POP next June and I'm super excited can't wait to see some pictures!!
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:25 PM   #10
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Wow! I feel like I learned so much from these reports! Thank you kokotg! Btw, you have a gorgeous family!
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fallen_angel727 View Post
Sounds like you guys are going to have a blast...count me into your PTR!

And might I add you'll LOVE the Crystal Palace, it's a must do for us

Its a dream of mine to stay at...well any Deluxe, but alas as newly weds where one (me) is a student it's not in our foreseeable future. We had plans to stay at Wilderness Lodge for our honeymoon, but ended up going to Spain instead...

...however we too are staying at POP next June and I'm super excited can't wait to see some pictures!!
Whoo hoo! I have readers! Welcome! Now I won't feel quite so much like a crazy old lady talking to myself

I'm excited about the Crystal Palace; it was a last minute addition when we decided to do the Halloween party. It will be nice to finally see the inside after all those years of walking past it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by pheno View Post
Wow! I feel like I learned so much from these reports! Thank you kokotg! Btw, you have a gorgeous family!
Hi there, Pheno! Your very first post; I'm honored . Thanks for reading!
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:55 PM   #12
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Joining In! I love Fantasmic its my favorite fireworks show! I'm hoping we will make it but we will see how DD is doing. Can't wait to read more.
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RooRach0906 View Post
Joining In! I love Fantasmic its my favorite fireworks show! I'm hoping we will make it but we will see how DD is doing. Can't wait to read more.


It's only been in the last couple of trips that we've really dared to keep the kids out for much nighttime stuff. My oldest, in particular, was pretty unbearable when kept up past bedtime until he was older.
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:01 PM   #14
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Our trips are so close together! So it's people like you who kept me out of the POP this trip Sigh... I guess I can forgive you.
It sounds like you have a great trip planned so far... and it's so close! Do you have any other ADRs or are you playing it by ear?
I'm actually heading to your old Disneyland TR now to read it... I've always wanted to go to Disneyland and I may have starting some very rough, very tentative plans for a future trip (*shhh* don't tell DBF!) :
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BerrysGirl View Post
Our trips are so close together! So it's people like you who kept me out of the POP this trip Sigh... I guess I can forgive you.
It sounds like you have a great trip planned so far... and it's so close! Do you have any other ADRs or are you playing it by ear?
I'm actually heading to your old Disneyland TR now to read it... I've always wanted to go to Disneyland and I may have starting some very rough, very tentative plans for a future trip (*shhh* don't tell DBF!) :
Yay--thanks for reading!

We tried to add another night w/ free dining at Pop, and there was nothing. Then we asked about just adding a night room only and STILL nothing. I guess Pop is very, well...POPular this year

We have lots of ADRs booked...I'll get around to talking about them eventually, once I get all the really important stuff like my new shoes out the way
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