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Old 09-28-2011, 12:46 PM   #1
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A wish upon a starfish to meet Ariel and her royal friends! - Brooke's MAW wish trip!

Chapter 1 – Zimos, zip zips and Panama Jack

So, it's been a little over a week since our return from Disney--and I'm still not certain where to begin! But, I can’t keep you waiting forever. I know you have all been very patient with us but desperately want to know how the trip went. In a word---it was amazing.

In truth, the word does not do the trip justice. The trip was spectacular. It felt so very special, so very momentous—it felt like Disney put those fireworks on just for us and it was all sparkle and bliss and celebration. I don’t know if there are enough ‘shiny’ and ‘magical’ words in the dictionary for it. I wish I had a machine where I could dump all the glitter in all the world and those wonderous words inside, shut the door and press a button. And the machine would spin and then with a ‘beep’ churn out a brand-new word, still in its protective plastic, that just perfectly conveys how wish-filled this trip was.

That being said, I hesitated to put away the suitcases and souvenirs because I knew as soon as I did that the trip would be officially over. But, after a week of pulling out things we needed and running low on underwear and pjs, I figured I'd just have to face the music. I buckled down on Sunday and emptied the bags.

And while doing the mounds of laundry that erupted from the suitcases, I mourned the end of this amazing journey. So much planning, so much wonderfully exciting build-up with the Teddy Bear Picnic, fairy godmail postcards and Big Give surprises and custom clothing and Make-a-Wish reveal party...and now it was all over. The girls couldn't be more thrilled with how wonderful the trip was—and neither could we! It was just incredible. But as sad as they were to leave behind the Ice Cream Palace and the pool, the girls were ready to get back to life--swimming classes, daycare, school, birthday parties, Thanksgiving and Halloween. Meanwhile, I'm the one longingly gazing at the photos and lovingly folding the dresses. I think I have the Disney trip blues! Is there any cure other than planning another trip?

But back to the trip!

Anyways, our trip to Atlantica began on September 8th at 4:30 a.m. I had a hard time falling asleep the night before (I was too excited!), so I only fell asleep around midnight, which gave me a meek 4 hours of sleep. I then got the girls up and changed them into their Make-a-Wish trip. Amazingly, both girls were wide-eyed and raring to go! Brooke was sooooo excited!

She's usually a grump when she wakes up, needing a good little while to really shake off the sleep, but she leaped out of bed and got changed so quickly, no questions asked. She was clearly ready to get this party started!

A long, white limo pulled up our dirt road at 5:00 a.m. Our driver, Daniel, helped us load our luggage in the trunk and invited us to relax inside. The girls were amazed! Brooke couldn't get over it--she just kept talking about how big the 'zimo' was (limosine).

While Pascal chatted with Daniel about the trip and Make-a-Wish, Brooke and Avie crawled all over the limo, checking out things and staring at the lights changing colour on the ceiling. Brooke then leaned over to me and said the most charming words ever.

"Mommy, I'm just soooo 'cited!" She said it with a huge, face-splitting grin on her face. My eyes welled up.

"Me too, Peanut, me too!"

Brooke then spotted the water bottles and champagne glasses and asked if she could have a drink. Why not?

We poured a little in a flute for Brooke and, of course, Avie wanted some, too—so we gave her a glass as well. Thus, the girls got their first taste of the royal treatment—which would follow us everywhere all week long!—by sipping water in champagne flutes in a limo on their way to the airport to catch a flight to meet the Princesses! Luxe life, indeed. Not a bad way to start a trip.

When we arrived at the airport, a WestJet representative met us outside. She took our bags and snapped some photos of us with Daniel and the limo. Then, it was off to check in!

The WestJet lady gave us the VIP treatment. Brooke got a special VIP sticker on her ticket, got to go around the counter and attach her own tags to our suitcases and scan her ticket! And, of course, the WestJet rep also announced Brooke was on a special Make-a-Wish trip to the other passengers at our gate. It was a little early in the morning to be jubilant for the average traveller, but a few people
applauded and smiled at that.

As the ‘special guests,’ we boarded first and the WestJet cabin crew met us at the door, taking Brooke aside to show her around. She was invited into the cockpit and the pilot allowed her to sit in her chair, pointing out some buttons to her. They continued to snap photos of her. Then, we got settled in.

For their first flight—the girls did amazingly! Neither one complained on any of the flights. They just watched TV, amused themselves or dozed off. But, not yet!

On that first flight from Ottawa to Toronto (which is only 37 minutes in the air), we gave Brooke one window seat, while Avie had the other. Like seasoned travellers, Brooke and Avie just slid on their earphones and flipped through the safety instruction manuals! Avie finally fell asleep with about 10 minutes left to the flight. Of course!

So, we waited until everyone else had disembarked before we woke up Avie and uninstalled her carseat. Another WestJet rep was waiting for us and she escorted us through the airport, through security and customs. We weren’t certain about customs, because the line was pretty long and our next flight was only 40 minutes away, and we know that the folks there are very thorough. But, when they heard we were with Make-a-Wish, they allowed us to skip the line. We didn’t have to wait in a single line-up the entire time! It was wonderful.

When we got to customs, the customs officer even let Brooke stamp her own passport! I bet that’s something that NEVER happens. Those customs officials are pretty serious folks! That was incredibly sweet of them.

Then, off to the next gate to catch our flight from Toronto to Orlando (about a 2.5 hour flight). Another uneventful flight--both girls stayed awake the entire time and just watched tv. They were pretty excited by the snacks. Turns out Avie loves Bits and Bites!

Finally, we touched down in Florida. The minute we got out of the plane, we just were enveloped in sweat. It had been warm in Ottawa—the usual September weather which is comfortable and sunny, but not nearly as hot or humid as Orlando. I’d forgotten just how sticky it could get!

We were immediately met by a lovely GKTW greeter named Betty. She had a baggage cart for us and showed us where to pick up our luggage. Then, she took us outside to get our car rental sorted out.

Brooke chose a red van because her cousins have one. Good enough reasoning for me! Betty gave us directions and a map to GKTW and then wished us a great trip! We were finally on our way.

Well, we had just pulled out of the airport parking lot when both girls crashed. It was now about 3:00 p.m. and it had been a long day. We let them snooze while we found our way to GKTW.

What an enchanting place! Truly—if I could live anywhere in the world, it would be in Mayor Clayton’s cottage in that tiny Garden of Hope. Yup. I think Brooke and Avie would happily join me right there. Forever.

Anyways, we woke up the girls and in we went. We were met by Brian, who handed a stuffed Mickey doll to Brooke and a little Shamu doll to Avery (the girls later switched as Brooke, being a mermaid fanatic loved the whale and Avie was in love with ‘Mickey Minnie!’), and he guided us through the paperwork and then had a volunteer show us to our villa. We were staying at #118—a little colonial house on the older side of the resort. Brooke was kinda thrilled by the bunny sign with our last name on it.

Avie was more amused by the ‘zip zips’—those little lizards sure can move! We called them ‘zip zips’ because they would zip across the path wherever we went and before we could finish the sentence of "Look! A liz—" the little guys had already darted into the bushes.

We opened up our villa to find such treasures inside! The girls went a little nuts exploring.

SPOILER ALERT!!! If you are a future wishtripper who would rather remain surprised by your entrance into GKTW, please read no further. I will describe our suite in detail the next few paragraphs, so you can simply skip ahead to the next set of stars for more on our first wish day!
************************************************** ********
The villa was wonderful. Upon entering, we walked into a spacious dinette area (our rented double stroller--which was amazing!!! Definitely rent from Orlando Stroller Rentals. Incredible!—was already waiting for us there with a lovely orange ribbon and a plastic nametag). It had a fridge, a microwave, a dishwasher, a sink, a stovetop, some cutlery, some dishes, a juice jug, some pots, dishwasher soap, a recycling bin, a garbage can, a coffeemaker and a table and four chairs, with a breakfast bar with two stools.

Then, the villa opened up into a living area with a sofabed, armchair, TV, coffeetables and some lamps. The TV unit could act as a drawer for more clothes, but as there was sufficient storage in both bedrooms, I used this space to hold all of the papers and goodies we accumulated during the week. I stored all of the princess dining photos, menus, certificates, maps, etc. there, as well as the daily presents the girls received (they were spoiled rotten! Insane!) that weren’t already open. I also used the TV unit to stash all of the souvenirs and bags.

The girls room was off to the left—and it was decorated in brightly coloured jungle prints—both on the walls and on the two twin beds. There was also a dresser with a Mickey-head lamp and two enormous bookshelves. They also had a portable crib for Avie (with linens), so we just pushed the two beds together and set her crib up beside the beds.

As everyone who knows GKTW knows, the kids have their own HUGE bathroom—with both a bathtub and an accessible shower which Brooke. B got a kick out of that! She couldn’t get over how big the bathroom was! She was happy to announce that staff had left out some toiletries for her. For some reason, she was so excited by the fact that some Panama Jack sunscreen had been included. Every day, as I put sunscreen on her, she would ask if I was using ‘her sunscreen.’ I wasn’t planning on using it, as I had brought our own, but she kept insisting we needed to use that kind, so I just caved and used it. Turns out its pretty good stuff!

The floor plan was completed by another large bedroom with a king-sized bed for the parents, as well as a smaller bathroom and a closet with a washer and dryer. Included in the bathrooms were some toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, soap, etc.), and some single-use detergent packages, as well as a laundry basket, were included on top of the washing machine. They really had thought of everything!
Inside the kitchen, we found some coffee packages on the counter, some sodas and waters in the fridge (what a great idea to have something cool to drink when you arrive! Aaaah!) and a little gift bag of chocolate treats and pretzel snacks, as well as a package of GKTW postcards. There were also some welcome goodies for the girls on the table—a box of various Hallmark cards, a little stuffed bear with figure skates on his feet and a stuffed Mr. Potato Head.

************************************************** ********
And, just as the volunteer was about to leave, someone knocked on the door and said “Mail’s here!” Curious, we opened the door to find someone holding two Big Give packages! Big Give found us even on our trip!

Brooke couldn’t believe it. We’d only been here 20 minutes and already she was getting more gifts! So, we took a few minutes to open the pressies.

The first package was an assortment of amazing ribbon-festooned hairbows and headbands—perfectly co-ordinated for our many outfits. There were blue, navy and white ones to go with the girls Sea World outfits, red and white striped ones to go with their Cat and the Hat outfits, candy coloured flower-shaped ones to go with their pettiskirts or candy outfits—and an adorable one shaped like Ariel. Here’s Brooke modelling the Ariel hairbow!

The next package was for me! Cool!!! A very stylish—and very useful!—zebra-printed diaper bag, complete with changepad and insulated bottle pocket (which kept our water bottles much cooler! We didn’t think to bring a cooler bag and this acted as one. Perfect.) I used it (as well as the Mickey totes I received) every day. They all came in handy. We used a large biner clip (from our WestJet bag given to us at the reveal party) to hang the bags from the stroller handle whenever we went through bag-check and to keep snacks and water bottles close at hand. Perfect!

Anyways, thank you so much for the bows and bag! What a way to get started on this trip....

After, we unpacked a bit and then reviewed our GKTW guidebook. Even though we had had some sandwiches on the plane, we were ready for some real food and decided to head out and explore the resort a bit before Pascal had to attend orientation. And, as I had been eagerly awaiting for months now, it was Christmas night and I couldn’t wait for the girls to find out who they would be seeing later on....

Last edited by mom2pixies; 09-28-2011 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:14 PM   #2
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Oh so exciting! I love that they had sips of "champagne" in the limo, how cute!

I felt the same way when we came back (and still do . . . . .) - it is truly an amazing experience and it's hard to see it end.

I look forward to reading more about your trip!
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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looks like you had an awesome jumpstart to your trip report cant wait to see the rest esepcially the part when we got to meet you all
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:10 PM   #4
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I'm so excited that you started your trip report! But most of all I'm so happy that you all had such an amazing time! And I love all the pictures -- keep them coming!

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Old 09-29-2011, 07:39 PM   #5
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What an amazing first day! I can't wait to read more (and see all of your great pics - you do a fantastic job of really capturing each moment.)


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Old 09-29-2011, 10:44 PM   #6
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Your daughters are soooo adorable! They are beautiful! What a wonderful day! I can only imagine how I would've felt as a little girl, waking up and getting into a big limo! They felt like princesses, I'm sure! What a great beginning. I can tell it is going to be good! I also love the girls' Disney pins!! It is so cute that they are already doing that!
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2806814 <----- Read My Pre trip report!!!

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Old 09-30-2011, 12:02 AM   #7
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I'm doing the "happy dance" over here!
I just the pictures and I feel like I can hear your voice reading the post (not that I've ever heard you talk - you just have a very expressive writing style that makes me feel like I'm having a chat with a friend) . . .

Can't wait to see/read more!
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Old 09-30-2011, 06:28 AM   #8
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Yeah you started your Trip Report. You can see all the excitement in Brooke's face.
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:15 PM   #9
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I loved the report for Day 1. I can't wait to read about Day2! Your girls are so cute! I loved the picture of Brooke playing pilot. How cool was that!
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:03 PM   #10
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Joining in. What an amazing start to the trip! Can't wait to read the rest!
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:07 PM   #11
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Love it so far!!

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Old 10-03-2011, 09:42 AM   #12
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Happy Birthday Brookie!!

Just a note to say that today marks the day I received the best gift in the world! I was made a mama four years ago and I'll cherish the day forever.

Wishing my sweet B the happiest of birthdays today! May your fourth year be as incredible as your third, peanut. Lots of magic and memories, love, luck, and laughter. We love you!! Today, tomorrow and always....
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Old 10-03-2011, 05:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by petals View Post
Happy Birthday to Princess Brooke
Thank you! I'm going to try and post up some pics of our last-minute Ariel and Jasmine party from yesterday afternoon to share with everyone tonight.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:28 PM   #15
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Happy 4th Birthday Brooke!!!!

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