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Old 04-02-2012, 11:45 AM   #1
preschoolmom
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The Third Time's a Charm! Our 2012 spring break trip report. We found Perry!

Well, we brought Perry with us anyway

Hello Everyone!

I've never written a trip report, but I've read lots of them We just returned from our third trip to Disney World as a family - it was our best trip ever. Truly. And I want to get it all down so I can remember it. And share it with all of you!

Introductions... Let's see.

I'm Suzi, mom and Disney Planner for our family. I'm a Stay At Home Mom. I do laundry. And Dishes. And Bathrooms. And in Disney World, we stay on site and leave good tips for housekeeping We live in the suburbs of Chicago.

My DH is Joe. He works, LOL. And has become a big Disney fan. And he is an amazing dad and husband.

My kids are Will (9, 3rd grade) and Rebecca and Isabelle (8, 2nd grade).

Will has PDD-NOS, which is sort of a very mild form of Autism (for him, the diagnosis really varies). His main symptoms are severe anxiety and ADHD. Good times. We got the GAC for the first time this trip - but you'll have to read this trip report to see our thoughts/experiences about that

Rebecca and Isabelle are identical twins. That's all I have to say about that.

We have always wanted to go to Disney in October - to see the Halloween Party. But the truth is, I couldn't wait until fall for this trip, LOL. Our first trip (as a family - I went a couple of times growing up and as a young adult) was in Feb. 2008. Then we returned late May/Early June 2010. So, it had been about a year since our last trip when I started thinking about this one.

We really planned for October - picked our week, wondered about free dining or a pin code... And then I got cold feet about pulling the kids out of school. And I really didn't want to wait until Oct. 2012. And last spring break we were so bored (and cold!) at home - and I really thought that instead of staying home for spring break and going to the aquarium and a movie and etc. etc. etc. - we might as well go to Disney!

So, I was scanning the free dining offer at some point, when I realized that our spring break week for school lined up with free dining - and I called and booked it that afternoon! I just couldn't believe it! I had hopes that because our spring break was a free dining week that Disney was predicting lower than usual crowds for spring break...

So, I know you are all mostly just curious about what we look like - so here is a picture from this trip - and I'll be back to start the actual report when I learn how to make the links

Gatorland - We went there, too
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Old 04-02-2012, 12:51 PM   #2
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Day 1, Departure Day

On Saturday, March 24th, we got up at 3:30am. We got the kids up and into the car. Yes, we were driving. Yes, it would take two days down and two days back. We don't mind the drive too much - and our kids are veteran car riders... And it's cheaper. And I can over pack.

Here are the kids for our departure picture:

That's pretty excited for 3:30am. If only we could get them up this easily for school!

We had packed and loaded the car the day before. Here are the girls with some of the 500 stuffed animals they brought with them. Oh, There's Perry





And we were off! We like to get out of Chicagoland before everyone else even crawls out of bed.

I promise this trip report will not be filled with political comments - but as we drove into Indiana, my pretty independent, not strongly politically affiliated husband said, "Did you feel the tax burden lift?" Yes, yes I did.

Our plans were to get into Indiana and stop at a Waffle House for Breakfast. We actually made it south of Indianapolis before we stopped.




We were making great time. On our first trip, we drove - and two of the three kids had a stomach virus. I'll spare you the details, but someone threw up in every state from Illinois to Florida. So, needless to say, we are always (always!!!) incredibly thankful when no one is sick for our trip.

We did not make a hotel reservation for this night, because we didn't know how far we would make it. Chattanooga is halfway. Dalton, GA was the goal. The dream was south of Atlanta. Here we are in Georgia with Perry:





We did make it south of Atlanta! Which we were thrilled about! We stopped in Locust Grove and got a functional, cheap, not our first choice room at a Super 8. It was cheap.
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:00 PM   #3
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I'm excited to follow along!

I teach third grade and one of my students will be going in April and needs a GAC card. Can't wait to hear how it all works out for your family!
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:57 PM   #4
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I love wills smile in the departure pic
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Old 04-02-2012, 02:03 PM   #5
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Day 2, More Driving and getting to Pop Century!

Okay, hopefully I'll figure out how to link this post back on the first one. Meanwhile, we spent the night at the Super 8 No, honestly, it was very clean, but run down and not where I would have liked to spent the night. But, nothing else was available, and we were wiped.

So, we got up at 6 and were on the road by 6:30. We didn't have breakfast, we just fed the kids snacks in the car (I had packed just a ton of cereal, crackers, snacky type stuff, so no one was going hungry).

We were excited when we made it into Florida! We had to stop at the official welcome center!



It was CROWDED. You could tell it was spring break for sure. Everyone was excited and lots of people were headed to Disney World.

At that point, we were pretty excited to get to Disney.



Perry was enjoying the ride. We were all playing I Spy. Listening to 80's music. The weather was gorgeous and we were all having a blast.

We stopped at some point to eat lunch at a Bob Evans. We weren't in a rush to get to Pop, because we had no plans to go to a park that day. For our family, taking the first night to just rest seems to work the best.

Finally - we got there:



We drove directly to Pop to check in. We got our connected rooms - but the location was... Not the best. We didn't pay for preferred and we had free dining - so I'm not complaining. And we don't have any little ones that ride in a stroller or any older family members that need a wheelchair - so really - the walk would be fine. Our rooms were in the 90's section, but facing the computer pool (but you couldn't really see the pool because it was behind a building). But really, it was very close to the computer pool, and fine for our family.

The kids couldn't wait to climb into this zero:



Here is Joe showing them where the rooms were on the map:



They were thrilled to be back at Pop:



So first things first - off to the pool! We were so excited to have perfect swimming weather.



And Will was pretty excited to see all these Pac Man icons.



Tomorrow is our first real day - Gatorland and Epcot. (Photobucket is giving me fits, so I'm having to wait on uploading pictures).
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:16 PM   #6
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Looking forward to follow along!
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
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Your Children look so sweet.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn57 View Post
I'm excited to follow along!

I teach third grade and one of my students will be going in April and needs a GAC card. Can't wait to hear how it all works out for your family!
Thanks for reading! The GAC is coming up
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 15isto2 View Post
I love wills smile in the departure pic
Awwww, Thank you! And thanks for reading!
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bna16 View Post
Looking forward to follow along!
I'm happy to have you reading!
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TillyDe View Post
Your Children look so sweet.
He He... It could be that I just spent 2 days in the car with them, but I think looks can be deceiving! Thanks for reading! I'm getting the next chapter up now!
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:24 PM   #12
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Day 3, Gatorland and Epcot

Okay - First things first - I can't figure out how to link these posts back to my original - so I'm sorry, but you'll have to scroll through to read.

Moving on. When I left off, we had just gotten to Pop Century and finished swimming. We went back to the rooms and got changed for dinner. We went to the Pop food court for our first dinner. We had the quick service dining plan - which was perfect for our family. We didn't do any ADRs this trip. The kids are not as into the characters (already? sniff...) and it was so nice not having to be at restaurants at the prearranged times.

So, Day 3 - Gatorland! I've wanted to go to Gatorland since I was a kid and saw the billboards when we took our family trips to Florida. Thanks to a trip report here on the Dis, I also knew I wanted to do the Adventure Hour - so we could feed the gators and get a picture with them, inside their enclosure.

Gatorland opened at 10:00. We left Pop around 9:15. It took us about 15 minutes to drive there (and a few dollars in tolls).

Here we are with the famous entrance



Joe's picture is funnier





We were the second car in the Gatorland lot. We did sunscreen, and then walked through the gift shop. We decided to buy things on the way out of the park. In the gift shop they had a little tank filled with baby gators (like 6 inches long) and a tiny baby turtle swimming with them (the turtle was about 1"). So cool!

So we paid to get in, and it was exactly what I was expecting/hoping. There were a TON of alligators. They were everywhere. Sunning themselves, swimming - so very cool. It was only March, and not hot in the morning - so they were pretty inactive. We tried to watch the first Jumparoo show, but the gators weren't that interested in the food. It turns out, in the wild, gators only eat 5-7 times per year. Turns out that the alligators at Gatorland are very, very well fed (and chubbier than most gators in the wild ). One employee said that they could probably live the rest of their lives not eating ever again. Fascinating!



This is one of the kids' favorite pictures from our whole trip!



After checking out all the alligators and snakes on display, we did the swamp walk. It was so COOL. And so beautiful in such a unique way. These are some of my favorite pictures from the trip:




At some point we had lunch (I can't recall exactly when) - it was good - simple hot dogs and pizza.

Then we attended our Adventure Tour. I don't want to ruin it if you attend - but we got to throw raw meat to the alligators inside their enclosure. It was so cool. A once in a lifetime experience. Then we got to turn our backs on the alligators and take a picture with them.



I know I already posted this one - but really - what a cool picture! That one might just end up on the Christmas Card!

This next one cracks me up



And this one is a classic



Before we left, we got one last shot

Gatorland was exactly what we were expecting. Feeding the alligators and the swamp walk were well worth the price of admission. It was a nice, relaxing start to our vacation. We didn't do it all - so we could easily go back and spend another half day. Some of their advertising calls it Orlando's best half day attraction. We were there at open - and stayed easily through lunch. We left around 2:30. We bought several things in the gift shop - Isabelle found a purple hat that she just loves - and both girls got a very round alligator stuffed animal. Will got a little electrical fan and a Gator Head claw thingy. Joe got a hat. I got the two pictures on the CD.

So, we headed back to Pop to swim and change for Epcot. Continued in the next post.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:47 PM   #13
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Day 3 Continued, Epcot

After spending the morning and early afternoon at Gatorland, it was time to head back to Pop to swim. We swam every day on this trip (or rather the kids and Joe swam every day - I really wasn't up for swimming).

After getting cleaned up and changed, we got on a bus for Epcot. We originally only planned for four park days on this trip - we were planning to skip Epcot... But, in looking over the pictures from our previous trips - the only one that I got exactly the same was the Epcot ball (see my siggy pictures)... So, we added the fifth day to our tickets so we could run over to Epcot and get a picture in front of Spaceship Earth.

So, that was our main goal for this evening. And the first thing we did.



Then we rode Spaceship Earth.



I figured we might as well do the Character Spot, since we weren't doing any Character Meals on this trip - and it was right there. The kids really surprised me by seeming awkward with the characters. Isabelle LOVES animals, so she was the warmest with them - but Rebecca was pretty tentative. They mostly just stood where they were supposed to stand and smiled for the pictures. There were a few high fives - and I'm sure Isabelle hugged Pluto and Donald.







After the Character Spot, we headed over to The Land for dinner. There was no wait for Living with the Land, so we hopped on. Then we walked over to the Sunshine Seasons for dinner. We were totally unimpressed with the options for the kids. That was disappointing, as we had eaten there more than once on each of our previous trips. So, we went to the Electric Umbrella instead.

One disappointing thing we found on this trip is that the new children's options are really limited. I guess they were limited on our previous trips as well - but it seems the main go to option everywhere is Mac and Cheese - and unfortunately - none of our kids like Mac and Cheese. So, we ordered some adult meals for the kids - and Joe and I ate the kids' choices (a chicken wrap and cheeseburger, I believe).

After dinner, Joe and the girls went to ride Mission Space, and I went with Will to get his GAC at guest services. Will and I walked over to Mission Space to wait for Joe and the girls - but they never came out. We waited and waited (and then walked around in the gift shop while we waited). I didn't realize there are two exits for Mission Space, and we were waiting at the wrong one. The girls hated it - they were terrified. I'm glad I didn't ride

So, the kids really wanted to ride Test Track. We thought we'd give the GAC a spin (we never got one on our first two trips). We rode Test Track, and everyone LOVED it. Then, we left the park.

We were happy to get out of the park right at 9 (as Illuminations was starting) - we wanted to be out ahead of the major crowd.

Tomorrow is our first Magic Kingdom Day!
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:29 PM   #14
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Smile

Glad to know we are not the only one's that get out of the park by the time the fireworks start. Waiting for the buses is bad enough, after the show it's terrible.

We use the GAC card everytime we go. I have had 7 back surgeries, and 2 back and 1 neck fusion, it is a life saver for us.

Thanks for the pics, they great.
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:35 PM   #15
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Glad to know we are not the only one's that get out of the park by the time the fireworks start. Waiting for the buses is bad enough, after the show it's terrible.

We use the GAC card everytime we go. I have had 7 back surgeries, and 2 back and 1 neck fusion, it is a life saver for us.

Thanks for the pics, they great.
I'm so glad the GAC is available for those that need it!

We really did a lot of staying ahead of the crowds on this trip - more on that coming up

Thanks for reading!
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