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Old 04-22-2012, 10:57 AM   #1
2Monkeys
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Our Big Fat Family Vacation - update 2.4 Is that a Castle I see?

I like writing...well, typing. I just find I dont have enough time to do it. I have decided to make myself accountable and write another trip report!! Hopefully you will enjoy reading my writing, err typing, as much as I enjoy doing it. If you would like to check out my last report from 5 years ago (see how I need some accountability?), here it is The Top 10 Things I Learned - Magical & Not So Magical Moments.

Now on with the show!

Pre-Trip

The Who?

Not the band, the cast of characters:



Me: The Queen I am in charge of the family, no matter what anyone says. My idea of roughing it is a hotel with no pool or room service! Not that I ever order room service, but there is a level of niceness with a hotel that offers it.

DH: Goofy there is just no better description. The biggest kid of them all and the official adrenaline junkie of the family!

DD13: The Princess she is like me about roughing it, likes to be the center of attention, and cant pass a mirror, window, or other reflective object without looking at her reflection! (When I originally wrote this description, she was 8, but some things never change!)

DS10: The Pirate Not afraid of anything that he is in perceived control of, which means he does not like scary rides. He will go 90 to nothing down a hill on his bike shouting no hands but wont ride Big Thunder Mountain. Go figure.

This trip will include 9 more players, so it might be hard to keep up with, kind of like our family tree, but I wont go into that here. Im not going to give the rest of the fam nicknames, b/c then I would have to keep up with them, and I'm just not that good. Here they are:

*My Mom & Dad aka 'Gma' & 'Gpa' they are retired, just sold their farm that they have lived on for the past 15 years, and they are going because the rest of us want to. They are troopers!!

Brings the head count to 6

*My older sister - not a planner - but just wants to have fun
*Her DH totally a planner
*DD15 totally a teenager. Says she would rather go to the beach than to Disney, but well see how long that lasts. We went when she was 8 and she had the most fun of any of the kids.
*DD12 6 months younger than my DD13, but thinks she is older. She is now taller than her sister, cousin, aunt (me), and is just about taller than her mom - she tells us every time we see her.

Are you paying attention? Head count now 10

*My younger sister - into more planning than our big sis, but she is kinda busy with her
*DD2 Will be this princesss first trip to Disney and we are all soooo excited! She loves the princesses, and we are having breakfast in the castle. Her favorite princess is She-Doe (thats how you say Cinderella in 2-year-old speak).
*Her DH - they went to Disney on their honeymoon, so he is excited to go again!

Party of 13, your table is now available!

The When?

June 6-16. Not everyone will be there the whole time, but well get into that later.

The Why?

We usually take a family vacation every other year. The last one we took was over 4 years ago, and little sis couldnt go. Lucky her. That one was a cruise at Christmas time - think Poseidon Adventure - well, not quite that bad, but close. Think puking, tears, puking & tears together, crying I have brought my children on the cruise of death, DH saying "we'll fly home when we get to Mexico" (we didn't), etc, etc - never again. I guess we needed a few years to get over that one.

So after informing my family that all future family vacations must be on land, my older sis suggested Disney. I was quite surprised. You see, my family of 4 has gone to Disney many times. It all started when my DD was 3 - we took her for her 4th bday celebration, and she was hooked (along with her mama). I had been a few times as a kid, and twice as an adult without kids. But nothing compares to seeing Disney through the eyes of your own child.


Now 13, DD has been 5 times, DS10 has been 4 times (poor guy, we left him at home the first trip b/c he was only 15 months - dont worry, my mom stayed with him). The next time was when DD was 5, and DS was 2 - big sis & her fam went too, and we had a great time. The next 3 trips were one right after the other - 07, 08 & 09 - but 09 was the last one. DD & I are in a bit of withdrawal. The rest of my family does not understand our Disney obsession, so for my sis to suggest that we all go there together....shocked, but excited! Let the planning begin.

All of this started a little over a year ago, and I have been planning ever since. The rest of the family, not so much. They know that I will handle it, in my obsessive compulsive sort of way.

Next up The Where? and more on The When?

TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Where and the When - All Mixed Together
The Plan
Deals & Steals
I am on Vacation!
It's a Twister!
Islands of Adventure - day 1, part 1
Islands of Adventure - day 1, part 2
Islands of Adventure - day 1, part 3
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Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned

Last edited by 2Monkeys; 02-05-2013 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:03 PM   #2
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dananbethany View Post
Thanks for joining the party!
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:28 PM   #4
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The Where? And a little bit more of The When? All Mixed Together…

It started out that this trip was to be June 9th – 16th. My 15 year old niece is not at the age to be taken out of school anymore, my older sister’s job has limitations on when she can take off, so we settled on right after school lets out and dance recitals are over.

We debated on staying onsite or offsite, and had pretty much concluded that we should stay onsite for the transportation. We settled on Port Orleans Riverside and the new royal rooms. They looked so cute, and of course, we loved the idea of a newly refurbished room. The food court at Riverside is awesome, so this seemed like the best choice. Until I started doing some more research.

I started looking at houses offsite, and discovered that we could do better financially by sharing a house. I talked to the sisters, and after much discussion, we decided to see what was out there. Our main criteria was that the house must have 4 master suites so that each couple would have their own bedroom & bathroom, and that each of the older kids must have their own bed. That seemed like a pipe dream in the beginning. Until I found the Emerald Magic…insert hallelujah chorus. http://www.emeraldislandrentals.com/...-pool-home.htm. This house has it all – 6 bedrooms (4 masters, 4 twin beds, and a crib for little bit), 5 ½ baths, private pool & hot tub, game room…and it came out to be less expensive than staying at POR, even with paying for parking. We booked it and paid our deposit –

On our last trip in 2009 on the week leading to Memorial Day, we nearly drowned. Not really, but it rained. A lot. Central Florida got 11 ½ inches of rain during our stay, and most of that came down, of course, during the day. We had to ditch the dollar store ponchos and get real ones from Walgreens…we were much happier once we did. Anyhoo, on that trip I had given DH a gift certificate for indoor Skydiving (I think it is called SkyVenture), so we did that one day. It was really fun for him! It just so happened that SkyVenture was across the street from Wet n Wild. The kids BEGGED to go there, but since we were already very WET and they were a more than a little WILD, we told them ‘next time’. Well, they did not forget. They will forget to brush their teeth or put away their laundry in the 5 minutes since we told them to, but our promise to go to Wet n Wild ‘next time’ that we made 3 years ago in the pouring rain, they did not forget. Sooooo, we decided to leave a day early so we could go to Wet n Wild. So our plans now provided for us leaving on June 8th.

In July 2011, DD13 started getting all excited about the last Harry Potter movie. She saw it with a friend on opening night, and now really wanted to go to Wizarding World. Then I started thinking, which is always dangerous. If we were going to be down there anyway, maybe we should go to Wizarding World. DH does what he does best, smile & nod , so now we were leaving on June 7th.

Then the 14 day unlimited ticket for Universal/Wet N Wild came out. The kids & I looked online at Universal Studios and decided that we would like to go there too. I asked DH if we could leave on the 6th after work so we could get there midday on the 7th, and like a good husband should, he said ‘yes, dear’. So now we are leaving on June 6th after work.

It takes about 9-10 hrs to drive to Disney from home, so we will spend the night somewhere on the way, then drive the rest of the way the morning of the 7th. I have several options for us to stay the night, and as any good OCD planner would, I have checked them all out on Tripadvisor & AAA. Our options are Best Western Plus, Madison, FL (5 1/2 hrs), Country Inn & Suites Lake City (6 hrs), Country Inn & Suites Gainesville (6 hrs 40 min). I think we are leaning toward Lake City, b/c we think that is the most reasonably doable. Also, I have some Carlson points, so if we reserve ahead of time, we can get a nice discount. Since we will leave around 5 (or 4 or 3, whenever I can badger DH enough to leave work ), we are planning to save time by eating sandwiches for dinner in route. We have started doing this on most long trips and it really saves a lot of time & $$!!

On the 7th & 8th, we are staying at Royal Pacific Resort at Universal. I debated this one and still have a bit of a war going on in my head over it. We NEVER pay this much for a hotel!! But since we are going in June, I felt like it would be worth it to get the unlimited Express Pass and not wait in line as much. I got a AAA rate, so it took off a bit, but we are still paying over $500 for 2 nights. Please tell me we are doing the right thing!!!!

On the 9th, we & the rest of the fam will check into the Emerald Magic at Emerald Island Resort. We have never stayed in a house before, we usually stay on-site. This will be a new experience, but hopefully in a good way. This house looks amazing and has great reviews, so we are excited to try it out. One of our trips in 2008 was a surprise weekend trip that was primarily free! We stayed at a Residence Inn and DH LOVED it! Why? Because it had a separate bedroom & living room and we had some space to spread out. I don’t really care too much about the room, b/c we are not in there a whole lot. Except when it rains 11 ½ inches in one week…but I digress. He is very much looking forward to staying in this house and having a bedroom & bathroom separate from the kids. We are glad to have a kitchen too, so we can eat breakfast at the house that doesn’t consist of pop-tarts and granola bars. Well, maybe it will, but we have more options. And, we will be able to keep drinks cold without having to empty and refill our cooler on a daily basis like we did at the Value resorts. We have hit the big time!!


Up next – The What?

If you want to follow along with my DD13's first pre-trippie, you can check out her version of events at PeaceLuvTheMouse
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:03 PM   #5
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Getting in on this one early!!! You're going to have so much fun - can't wait to hear more details!
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:27 PM   #6
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Getting in on this one early!!! You're going to have so much fun - can't wait to hear more details!
Thanks for joining in! We are so excited we can hardly stand it! Getting anything else done is practically impossible!!
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:17 PM   #7
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My family has opted to let me pretty much plan everything. They have left it up to me what kind of tickets they should buy, when they should buy them, and from where they should buy them. I have decided what days we should do what, based on crowd calendars and recommended parks. My little sister actually made the Cindy’s breakfast reservation, but I told her when to do it. I made the reservation for the house and made sure everyone had their share of the money in on time. Do I sound like I’m complaining? I don’t mean to…because I LOVE the planning!! It is part of the fun and anticipation of the trip! So I am totally fine with the family leaving it to me…in fact, I prefer it that way. I am a bit a control freak. Moving on...

Sooooo, after much pouring over the Disboards and Touring Plans and Easy WDW, here is the plan:

Thursday June 7th – check into Royal Pacific; Islands of Adventure; Margaritaville for dinner

Friday June 8th – Wet n Wild; Nascar Grill for dinner

Saturday June 9th – Universal Studios; Islands of Adventure if we’re not done; Wolfgang Puck Express at DTD for dinner; maybe DisneyQuest; check into the house with the rest of the fam

Sunday June 10th – Magic Kingdom in the morning; meet the rest of the family who slept in at either DTD or Beaches & Cream for ice cream; grocery shopping

Monday June 11th – Epcot – Eating & Drinking around the World – oh yeah baby!

Tuesday June 12th – Blizzard Beach; Gma & Gpa (my parents) are going to Vero Beach for the day; order pizza at the house for dinner

Wednesday June 13th – everyone is doing their own thing today. My fam of 4 is planning on DHS. Reconnect for dinner at Big Fin Seafood.

Thursday June 14th – breakfast in the castle, Magic Kingdom til we drop!!!

Friday June 15th – um, well, there is really no plan for this day. WHAT???? We are just going to play it by ear and see what we feel like doing! This is unheard of for us, but we are going to make it work. I may very well be hyperventilating by Thursday night, but I need to learn to be more laid back, right? Right? RIGHT????

Saturday June 16th – breakfast together, then head for home

Up next - planned photos and matching shirts
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:25 PM   #8
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We are at the beach for the next 4 days. We are 1/3 of the way to Disney, and it seems almost ridiculous not to keep going! But...we are at the beach, so we will enjoy that and wait not so patiently for our remaining 40 days.

Poor little DS is sick though...just a virus, but a 101 fever nonetheless. Soooo frustrating for him to feel bad in such a beautiful place. Hope he feels better tomorrow and can enjoy the rest of our mini-vacay.

Will have more updates soon, in the meantime, I'll put my toes in the water and a cold drink in my hand!
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:31 AM   #9
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As I reported, we went to the beach last weekend. It was part work, part fun...we were at the beach, it was mostly FUN!! Ocean front room, no cooking, only playing (well, after the work part was over for me)...I could really get used to that.

Anyway, this week is back to the grind. And DS is sick AGAIN...or maybe STILL. Took him to the Dr. Monday. Double ear infection. Last night he wakes up around 2:30 & tells me his head is killing him. I get up to give him motrin and bam! He starts puking! Oh my word...he needs to get well, because we leave in....drumroll please....


33 DAYS!!!!!!


Hopefully the sickness will get over with now and no one will be sick on our trip. Fingers crossed!!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....


So I am a great bargain hunter. I really don't clip coupons much, but I try. I have been hunting any bargain I could spear for this mac-daddy of a trip b/c we are dropping a crapload of $$ on it! I have been scouring the boards and looking googling things endlessly trying to get the best deals possible. Here is what I have come up with:

Tix from Undercover Tourist - got 2 days free (this seems to be their norm, but it really is like 2 days free compared to Disney prices)

Tix from UT for Universal - got about $20 off per ticket for the unlimited 14 day ticket

Got a college student to babysit my house & dog for $100 for the time we are gone. Would have cost me closer to $200 to board the dog, and she would have been in a kennel for 12 days!

About $700 saved up in Disney Visa rewards - this will go a long way for food & souveniers!!

The latest in my quest for a bargain is being able to get the AP rate at Royal Pacific. It is only saving us around $50, b/c I have to buy one AP, but 50 bucks is 50 bucks.

But the greatest, absolutely rock-bottom price I got is for our hotel on our trip down. Guess how much I am paying? Just guess. You'll never guess.



Do you have your guess?




Alright, alright. I won't keep you in suspense any longer...




$15!!!



How did I manage that, you ask? I signed up for Hilton Honors last year - hubs got points for a business trip, and I think we stayed somewhere one other night. But, I got the Hilton Honors points for our stay at the beach, and it put me at a level to get a free night, so we booked in Lake City and all I have to pay are the taxes!!! Free parking, free breakfast, free room!!

Promise that next time we will talk t-shirts!! I know you are waiting with bated breath, my faithful followers...
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Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:41 AM   #10
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So obviously a pre-trip report was not in the cards for me. Here is what happened...I'll try to keep it short.

The receptionist at my office was pregnant and due July 4th. She kept telling us that she would probably have the baby early, and we should plan for her to be out starting mid-June. I got a temp to start in late May so that we could train her and have her work some days so that A (the receptionist) could work less hours. Plus, with still planning details, shopping for clothes, having a yard sale, finishing up the school year, class parties, teacher gifts, etc, etc....that was May.

May 31st the temp came to the office and quit. She said it just wasn't working out for her because she didn't want to wait to get all of her hours until A had her baby. That afternoon, A went to the doctor for a pain in her belly. Guess what? You'll never guess. They sent her straight to the hospital and she had the baby the next day. On Friday. Before the weekend. The last weekend before I left for vacation. I was leaving on Wednesday the next week. So with lots of scrambling and people saying "I know someone looking for a job", we interviewed 2 people on Friday, one person on Monday, hired someone Monday afternoon, she started Tuesday, I spent a few hours with her Tuesday and a few hours with her Wednesday, then left for vacation Weds afternoon. Baptism by fire baby...that's how we roll.

Soooooo, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Weds morning I took the doggie

Aren't I adorable???

to the kennel. She had to stay there for 3 days until her sitter got back from the beach. 3 days is much better than 12!! Bless her heart, she was excited to go because she loves riding in the car. I guess it is better she didn't understand that I was leaving her!

I went on to work from there, having left the kiddos with a list of chores to accomplish so that we could leave as soon as Daddy & I got home. They ordinarily would have grumbled over the chores, but since they were preparation for vacation, they happily got them done.

My mind was totally not in my work, but I had to get a few things done so that payroll could be done in my absence. Payroll is one of my main responsbilities, so I had to pass that on to someone else so that everyone could get paid. Nice of me, I know. So my plan was to stay until 12, but at 11:30 the opportunity to escape presented itself, and I took it. And ran. Fast.

I texted hubs & my sisters...I AM ON VACATION!!! Woohoo!!
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Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned

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Old 01-20-2013, 05:34 PM   #11
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It's a Twister!!

Maybe I still have readers, maybe I don't. It has obviously been quite some time since I last posted, but life got in the way. I think I was also depressed because our trip was over. But, since I leave in 3 sleeps for a mother/daughter trip to WDW, I figured I better get back to business and finish this baby!

Shortly after I texted hubs that I was on vacation, he called to say that he had left work too! I called the kids and said to make sure everything was done because we were ready to go!! We got home, changed clothes, finished packing the car and got going!! We had at least 6 hours to go before stopping for the night, so we wanted to use as much daylight as possible.

We headed down the highway and didn't hit much traffic. After about an hour, we had to get off the freeway and get on smaller highways that take us through some smaller towns. About 3 hours after leaving home, DH decided that I should drive for awhile, b/c I'm not much help after dark. We pass our last 'big' city, and start down through the farmland that will lead us to the Florida line.

The road is a little windy (that's windy like a clock, not like a breeze) through that area. I look up ahead and see what appears to be smoke. I asked DH if he saw it - he had not because his eyes were closed. He looked at it then, and said it looked really strange. I kept watching, and then it looked like it was in a different spot, but it was hard to tell because the road was so curvy. I said jokingly, "You don't think its a tornado, do you?" We came around another bend, and it was no joke - a small tornado was right there beside the road. And our car. DH says I should stop. I say "Are you out of your mind? It is RIGHT THERE! I'M NOT STOPPING!" I am using all caps here to indicate that I was screaming. Because I was. And hyperventilating. And saying words that I do not say in front of my children. And flooring it.

The speedometer got up above 90 and we watched in the rearview mirror as the funnel cloud crossed the road at the spot we just passed. DH once again told me I should stop. I said "I AM NOT STOPPING!" and kept the pedal to the metal. Once we were back in sunshine and the scary funnel cloud was far behind us, I started feeling a bit like I was going to pass out. So I told DH, "I think I should stop now." I pulled over and got out of the car, rushed around to the passenger side with DH asking if I was ok. I said "I'M FINE, JUST GO!" still feeling the need to put a little more distance between me and the twister.

Now seeing a tornado, however small, right beside your car is enough to freak anyone out. However, I have a history with funnel clouds. My sister and I were home alone as kids when a tornado ripped its way down our street. Trees came down and the power went out. And I have never heard a noise louder than that. Thankfully everyone we knew (including us!) was ok, but it was a traumatic experience nevertheless. We also live in Alabama and watched on television the massive tornados that tore their way through the south on April 27th, and saw the aftermath of their wrath firsthand. The one we saw this trip really did not have much force or noise behind it, and had only picked up a little dirt, and dissipated after it crossed the road - but I would have preferred not to encounter it.

I slowly got my breathing back under control, but spent the rest of the trip that evening watching the clouds. There were some storms and lightning along the way, but thankfully no more funnel clouds.

One of the chores that the kids were charged with was making sandwiches for the road so we did not have to stop for dinner. We ate those around 5 or so, after I had settled down from our storm-watching event. After a potty break at a Florida rest area, we were nonstop until we arrived at our hotel.

When we finally arrived at our free room in Lake City, check in couldn't have been smoother, and the room was fantastic! There were two queen beds, a pull out couch, a chair, an ottoman and a table - this room was massive! We watched a little tv then hit the hay early, so that we could be up and out and on our way in the morning.

I am a bit of an insomniac, and after our eventful day, sleep was not happening for me. I attached the light to my kindle and read most of the night while everyone else slept soundly. I finally fell asleep pretty hard about the time we were planning to get up, which is par for the course for me.

We got up and got ready in a hurry, repacked the car, and headed down for our free breakfast. It was really a nice breakfast, with several cooked items as well as the standard cold stuff. We ate our fill, then checked out. Turns out, I did not have to pay the taxes either! So, the room and the breakfast were completely free!

Soon we were on our way to the Dark Side! The drive today was blissfully uneventful, and we cruised on in to the Royal Pacific parking lot. Let the vacation begin!!
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Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:18 PM   #12
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Royal Pacific & Islands of Adventure

We walked in to the Royal Pacific and the kids...well, all of us...thought we had hit the big time! It is absolutely beautiful! I am ashamed to say I do not have any pictures of the lobby - I'm not really sure how that happened!

Check in was a breeze, but our room was not ready yet. I gave them my cell # and they said they would call when it was. We went back to the car to put on sunscreen and get our tickets so we could head to IOA. We decided to take the boat this time, but walked for the remainder of the trip. It is such a pleasant and short walk, that we really enjoyed it.





The boat docked and we headed into IOA for our first park of the trip!


Photobucket is not cooperating, so I will continue later!
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DD's 1st trip ASMo 2003 DS's 1st trip ASMo 2004 9 nights at POP 2007 Surprise Weekend 2008 Rain, rain & more rain POFQ 2009 Big Fat Family Vacation Offsite 2012 Girls Only POR 2013 ToT 10-miler/MNSSHP/F&W 10/2-10/12/14



Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:58 PM   #13
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Ioa

We headed into Islands of Adventure!



DH wanted to ride Hulk, and since the rest of us weren't so adventurous, we took a few pictures.



The kids rode this


We then rode Spiderman. Can I tell you how much I LOVED the unlimited Express Pass? It was FABULOUS!! The regular line was a 70 minute wait. But we zipped into the Express line, rode the ride and were out the door in 15 minutes! Totally worth the extra money we paid to stay onsite!!

Next we headed to Seuss Landing.


And the kids rode One Fish, Two Fish...



and the Carroseussal.


Seuss Landing was so cute! The colors were vibrant and the detail was really amazing! We absolutely loved it!
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Me DH DD15 DS12 DPup5

DD's 1st trip ASMo 2003 DS's 1st trip ASMo 2004 9 nights at POP 2007 Surprise Weekend 2008 Rain, rain & more rain POFQ 2009 Big Fat Family Vacation Offsite 2012 Girls Only POR 2013 ToT 10-miler/MNSSHP/F&W 10/2-10/12/14



Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned

Last edited by 2Monkeys; 02-04-2013 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:52 PM   #14
OhMari
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My friend traveled to WDW from Virginia, and that exact same thing happened to her. A tornado passed right in front of them.

What kind of dog is this.


I finally have you moved. Hope to hear more.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:04 PM   #15
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That tornado was the scariest thing! I think I still have PTSD!!! Our dog is a Yorkie-Poo. She is the BEST dog ever!! We would like to get her a playmate but don't think we will ever find a dog as great as her!!

Thanks for the move!
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Me DH DD15 DS12 DPup5

DD's 1st trip ASMo 2003 DS's 1st trip ASMo 2004 9 nights at POP 2007 Surprise Weekend 2008 Rain, rain & more rain POFQ 2009 Big Fat Family Vacation Offsite 2012 Girls Only POR 2013 ToT 10-miler/MNSSHP/F&W 10/2-10/12/14



Check out my trip report: Magical & Not So Magical Moments - The Top Ten Things We Learned
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