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Old 04-02-2013, 10:23 AM   #1
FairyGodmotherJen
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"MO-OM! Take Small Children by the Hand!" An October 2012 TR New 11/9

Hello, and welcome to my (rather belated) trip report! Our trip happened last October, but life is just now getting to the point where I have time to do this. Better late than never, right? This was our fifth trip as a family, but we still managed to encounter a lot of firsts. I'm looking forward to sharing them!

Let me introduce the cast of characters for this particular trip. First of all, there’s me.



I’m Jen, a mom of three and teacher from Indiana who loves to read, sing, scrapbook, and (of course) plan/take Disney trips. I took four trips to Disney before we had kids – twice as a child with my parents and brother, once as a married adult with DH, my parents, and brother, and once during my senior year spring break (yes, I was a geek).

Next is my DH, Bryan.


(He's the one in the front)

He’s GoofyJediMaster on the boards, and he says he intends to start a trip report of his own at some point. He got a really cool camera just before we took this trip, and I think he wants to show off some of the pictures he took (can’t say that I blame him!). In fact, I might just have to borrow a few for my report…I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t getting around to posting. He’s just too busy! He’s a Star Wars fanatic (which he’s passed on to our kids), very active in our church, and an all-around big kid. He took a trip to Disney as a child with his parents, as well as the above-mentioned adult trip in 2000 with my parents and brother. He wasn’t really hooked, however, until we took our first trip with the kids in 2005. Since then, he’s been as excited about Disney as I am!

Our next character is our oldest, Haley.



She’s 11 years old and in sixth grade. She is in that pre-teen stage where sometimes she’s my little girl, and sometimes…well, not. That actually became extremely noticeable this trip. I saw much more of my little girl than I’m used to, and I loved it! She loves to sing, read, draw/write in her journals, and watch Disney Channel on TV as much as I will let her.


Next up: our middle child, Jack.



I adore this pic! Jack is all goofy little boy, with a heart so big it still takes me by surprise sometimes. He never hesitates to do something sweet for someone else. His current passions include Star Wars, Tron: Uprising, the Avengers, Harry Potter, and the Percy Jackson series, which we’re reading out loud together right now. He became our little thrill rider this trip, which was so much fun – not to mention a little unexpected. See, back on our 2008 trip, he would take one look at something like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and say, “Not today, Mommy. I’ll ride that when I’m your age.” He swore he didn’t remember saying that on this trip.

And introducing: Will the Performer.



My mother-in-law nicknamed Jack “The Executive Producer of Entertainment”when he was a toddler because he’s always trying to make you smile or laugh. Then we had Will, and we realized that there’s a difference between entertaining and performing. Jack entertains. Will performs. He’s four years old, and loves to sing, dance, and play any type of video game you’ll let him. He’s always moving, and usually singing or dancing or copying some kind of move from Wii Fit or Wii Sports Resort. He loves the Muppets, the Backyardigans, Skylanders, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He’s moody, he’s stubborn, he’s the life of the party if he’s in a good mood, and (though I know I'm biased) he's scary smart. He’s actually the inspiration for the title of this trip report. On our second day, when we got off the bus at the resort, I was looking around for something I thought I’d left on the seat and hadn’t taken his hand to make sure he got off the bus ok. He looked right at me, put his hands on his hips, and in his most annoyed voice said, “Mo-om, take small children by the hand!” He apparently had been listening to the announcements on the bus better than we had! We all cracked up, which of course meant that he repeated it at least once a day during the entire trip.


Our final cast member: Un



Yes, I said Un. This is Bryan’s Uncle Tim. Both Bryan and his brother were very close to him growing up, and our kids are as well. Haley gave him the nickname “Un” when she was only about 18 months old or so, and it’s stuck. I very rarely call him Uncle Tim anymore – in fact, Bryan and I both usually call him either “Un” or “U.T.” Un came with us on our 16-person trip back in 2010, and (unknown to us at the time) got bit by the Disney bug. He actually had planned this trip to be a solo trip originally, but for several reasons we had to move our planned December trip up and he was gracious enough to let us…well, take over his trip, really. But I really don’t think he minded. In fact, he looked at me several days into this trip and said something like, “This could be addictive.” I thought he was talking about something else, but he said, “No – coming to Disney!” See that camera around his neck? That's his favorite hobby, and he's wonderful at it. Some of my favorite pictures of my kids have been taken by him. In fact, I'll probably use several of his pics in this TR - the pictures of Jack, Will, and I above were all taken by him!


Now – on to some details. This vacation was from Oct. 14th – Oct. 19th, 2012. We had several “firsts” this trip right off the bat. The biggest first time experience was staying at Port Orleans Riverside. I’d been eyeing this resort due to the fact that you could sleep five people in Alligator Bayou. We originally asked our awesome AAA travel agent, Ginny, to book us a room in that section. However, I received a PIN code for 30% our room, and when Ginny went to book the room with the code the only thing that was left was the Princess rooms in the mansions area. Even with the premium for the Princess rooms, it still saved us several hundred dollars. The only problem was the number of people in the room, but Un didn’t even hesitate when we asked if we could “house” a child in with him. So Jack ended up listed on Un’s room, and we had the rest of us in ours. Ginny requested adjoining rooms for us, and we really hoped we’d get them.

As for the other details, we had park hopper passes (which is the norm for us) and the Quick-service dining plan. We have done the dining plan every time we’ve gone as a family, but this was the first time to do the QS plan instead of the basic plan. We still scheduled two ADRs for sit-down meals that we would pay for out-of-pocket: dinner at Chef Mickey’s, and breakfast at the Crystal Palace, which we'll get to later. A highlight for us was Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which actually wasn't a first for us but we couldn't wait to get back to!

That’s it for the introductions! Up next: We're leaving in the morning! What could possibly go wrong?
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:38 PM   #3
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:43 PM   #4
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Three Things You Really Don’t Want to Hear Before You Leave for WDW

Three Things You Really Don’t Want to Hear Before You Leave for WDW

(Just a note: I don’t have pictures for this one, so I’ve had to supplement a little…bear with me!)

1. The sound (and smell) of the dryer blowing a fuse as you dry your second-to-last load of laundry…while your last load hits the final spin cycle. The night before you leave.



Yes, I ended up at the Laundromat at 7 pm the night before our flight to Orlando with a bunch of wet clothes. Not really how I planned on spending the evening, and I definitely paid for it the next morning! I got to bed later than I wanted to on Saturday (though it did have the unexpected benefit of helping me go to sleep faster because I was exhausted). And when I got up on Sunday there were still several things to get done, including packing the car.
This might not seem like that big a deal, but you have to understand my family. We are NEVER on time. Anywhere. For anything. The universe simply conspires against us. I swear, before I married DH I was the type of person who hated to be late. I still hate it, but it’s honestly a fact of life at this point. So my plan had been to be completely ready to go when I woke up Sunday. This would allow me to help DH with his last-minute list (which always exists in some shape or form) and get us out at 6:15 so that DH could drop us off at the terminal, park the car at the place he’d gotten a Groupon for, and get us all to the gate in plenty of time. We also have a tradition with our kids where we get McDonald’s pancakes at the airport whenever we fly to Disney. I know, I know, we’re simple folk.
But, since I was still running around doing some last minute things, I was not ready to help DH with his list, and at 6:15 I was starting to pack the car with Un while DH was running around like a chicken with his head cut off (sorry, honey, but it was pretty bad). Of course, he had a reason for running around like a chicken with his head cut off, which brings us to the second thing that you really don’t want to hear before you leave for WDW.

2. “I can’t find the rewards card.”


(No, this isn't our card - found it on Google Images. I'm not that crazy!)


Yes, our Disney Visa Rewards card. The one with upwards of $250 on it that we were planning on using to pay for our two out-of-pocket ADRs. That rewards card.

At this point I’m trying desperately not to think about the fact that all our spending money will be taken up with dining if we can’t find it, and move on to the next thing. What was it again?? Oh, that’s right – I was about to pack the car. It’s up to Un and I to try to get the four large suitcases that we were checking into the van. I have to admit that Bryan usually does the physical packing of the bags in the car. I am absolutely not a visual-spacial person, and it takes me twice as long to get things like that figured out. So Un and I are looking at the back of the van muttering to ourselves while Bryan is running upstairs and downstairs trying to find the card, and the kids are standing at the door to the garage asking when they can get into the van. Have I mentioned that it’s currently the time I wanted to leave?

I finally give up and call for Bryan – we’re just going to have to bite the bullet and leave the card. We have to get going! He comes out to the garage, tells me that he found the card (he got it out the day before and just hadn’t remembered what he’d done with it), and immediately figures out what needs to be done to get all our luggage in when all but one of the seats in the van will be occupied. I shoo the kids into their car seats…ok, it’s only 6:30. We can do this. Then Bryan disappears back into the house to look for something else, and I realize I haven’t given the kids any ibuprofen. We always have issues with their ears on a plane, and I’ve learned to give them ibuprofen beforehand to help them out. I can’t give it to them too early, though, because the descent is what kills them. I need to remember to look for a carry-on acceptable bottle before our next trip. So, I run inside and measure out the syrup (because none of my kids will take a pill yet)…which brings me to the third thing you don’t want to hear before your trip.

3. The sound of your four year old gagging up his medicine all over the inside of the car you’re about to park in long-term parking for six days.


(Yeah, I know...told you I was a little thin on pictures for this one. )



Yep. Remember how I said he was the most stubborn one? Well, he decided that he didn’t want anything to do with this medicine – he wasn’t going to take it. Nuh-uh. No way, no sir, no how. At this point, I had to keep a tight hold on my temper. Bryan was still searching for something (else) in the house, we still had to jockey cars so that Un could get his car into the garage, and Will won’t take his medicine?? I stormed inside, got a syringe, and proceeded to make him take it.

Bad idea.

Remember, he’s strapped into his car seat at this point. He has nowhere to go. I thought I’d managed it – got the whole dosage into him, gotten him to swallow. And then he gagged and it all came back up. UGH!! He, and his car seat, were now a sticky, grape-smelling mess. It was definitely my worst mommy moment of the trip. I believe I told my child (who can’t stand to have anything on his hands – he’s even refused to eat donuts because they’re sticky) that he was going to have to deal with being sticky because I was not going to wash his hands because he’d done this to himself.

Ugh.

Thankfully, I did come to my senses, and got into my backpack and grabbed my wipes container. He was cleaned off, I juggled the cars, and Bryan finally made it out to the car with us. The adults piled in to the extremely snug van, and we were off.

At 6:45. Typical, for my family. I told you – we’re NEVER on time.

But - we WERE on our way to Disney! More about our departure in the next update!
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:44 PM   #5
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:54 PM   #6
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Wow sounds eventful so far, hope the holiday was more relaxing
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:11 PM   #7
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I'm in! Waiting for more.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:22 PM   #8
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I have to join in this one, just to see how it turns out!
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:17 PM   #9
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Wow sounds eventful so far, hope the holiday was more relaxing
Things are never boring with us around, haha!

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I'm in! Waiting for more.
Great! Glad to have you along!

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I have to join in this one, just to see how it turns out!

Ha! It really was a great trip. It's just a circus actually getting us anywhere!
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:02 PM   #10
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sounds like a great time!
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:03 PM   #11
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I Need to Learn to Tell Time...

We finally made it to the airport!

I was stressed about being late, but trying to remember that we were on our way to Disney and it wasn’t going to be that bad. Maybe if we were getting dropped off instead of Bryan having to go park the car I wouldn’t have been as worried. As he dropped us off, we saw lots of other people with ME tags on their suitcases. It looked like Disney was a popular destination, especially with so many area schools (like mine) going to an extended fall break with the balanced calendar. The plan was for the kids to each take their rolling carry-on bag and for Un and I to wrangle the four checked bags to the ticket desk right inside the doors. We could do that, but we’d forgotten about the stroller. Bryan waved us off, telling us he’d bring it. He pulled away, and we dragged ourselves and our stuff inside and got our bags checked. It was actually very quick and painless, despite the less-than-enthusiastic Airtran employee at the desk.

With the bags checked, we made our way towards the large food court area that is just outside the security gates. I left the kids and Un at a table in the main food court area and got in line for their traditional McDonald's pancakes ("Hotcakes, Mom," Will corrected me when I got back).

I have to admit that I kept a really close eye on my watch while we were waiting for Bryan to get back from parking the van. He knows me very well after 15 years of marriage, and he was very helpful by texting me when he’d gotten on the shuttle, etc. But it had been a few minutes since his last text and I was getting antsy. See, our plane left at 9. It was now about 20 after, and I was starting to sweat it. I gave in and called him, and of course he was just walking past the ticket counter. Relieved, we ran to the bathroom and headed for security.



I’ve always loved the Indy airport because it was so small and accessible. At least it was until Indy decided they wanted to host the Super Bowl. Now it’s gorgeous and fancy…and a lot less convenient. But I still had never had to wait in a security line more than about three people long. So I didn’t worry too much as we rounded the corner – until I saw the line. Definitely more than two or three people.

Now I was starting to seriously panic. We weren’t going to make it. It was half past – they’d be boarding by now! And the boarding passes said they closed the gates 10 minutes before each flight. I looked at Bryan and asked him what he thought we should do. He looked at me kinda funny, so I realized I had to be more explicit. We’d been trying really hard (at least I had) to not let the anxiousness spill over to the kids, but now was the time to just give it up. “They’re boarding – we’re not going to make it,” I explained. “The boarding passes say they close the gates ten minutes before hand.”

Now Un was looking at me funny, too. Finally, Bryan asked me why I was so worried. “It’s a quarter till!” I said simply.

“Yeah…that means we have an hour and five minutes before they stop boarding,” Bryan said simply.

Oh, jeez.

It was a quarter till 8, not a quarter till 9.

We all had a good laugh over that (well, they had a good time laughing at me). We were through security and putting our shoes back on by 8.

Now, let me take a minute to tell you that I almost used a different title for this trip report. That title was, “Dude! Where’s My Stroller?”

Yep. This was the first time the issue reared its head. It wouldn’t be the last.

I looked at Bryan as we started moving away from security and realized he didn’t have the stroller for Will. “Did you check the stroller at the desk?” I asked him. It didn’t make sense, but it was the only explanation since he didn’t have it with him.

Then I saw the look on his face. Nope, it wasn’t the only explanation.

“It’s still in the van.”

It could have been worse. Will was 4 months old the first time he went to Disney, and two the second time. For both of those trips, we still had another child that was young enough that we actually brought two strollers. This time, at least it was only him, and he was 4. But even though he’s tall for his age, he’s still got much smaller legs than ours. Bryan immediately went into recovery mode. “I’ll be the stroller – I’ll just carry him on my back.” I squashed that idea pretty quick – we would just be renting a stroller. I figured we could go online and look at how Disney compared to Orlando Stroller Rentals and go from there. This was overcomable. (Is that even a word??) We would even have some extra cash to spare on the rewards card that we could put towards it. It was still good.

We made our way down to our gate and settled in for a short wait. I grabbed some yogurt for breakfast (I’d been too nervous at McDonald’s) and the kids got to play some of their new games/read some of their new books.





As we were sitting there, I realized that there would be two Wish families on our flight. I listened to them a little, and sent up several silent prayers of thanks that we were bringing three healthy children with us to Disney!!

While we were sitting there, the attendant at the desk came over the speaker and asked if anyone would be willing to check their carry-on bags at the gate (it was a sold-out flight and they were worried about overhead storage). I didn’t need mine, and since they assured us we’d be able to pick up the bags as we got off the plane much like a stroller, I decided to leave it with them. It really only had swimsuits and pjs in it, anyway. One less thing to drag around, right? Yeah, well – I’ll get back to that later. I made sure I slipped my Kindle and my trip notebook into the backpack I’d planned to use for the parks and handed over my bag.

In the end, we boarded the plane on time, got into the air before the storms that were heading our way hit, and enjoyed a fairly event-less flight. In two hours, we were sitting on the plane in Orlando waiting to disembark! Needless to say, we were all a little excited. Of course, we were sitting pretty far back on the plane, so we had to wait for a while to get off. Will spent his time trying to amuse himself by checking in on us.



The line to get off the plane finally made its way back to us, and we gathered our things. I needed to grab my carry-on bag as we left. We made our way to the front and I looked around…no bags. Just strollers. I asked one of the employees standing there, and he acted like I didn’t know what I was talking about. The lady behind me said she had done the same thing, and she’d also been told the bags would be waiting for us. They directed us to the ticket desk by the gate, so we headed there. The gentleman manning that desk looked at us like we were nuts and told us we would need to go to the baggage claim area they’d mentioned when we were on the plane. The lady behind me and I just looked at each other. “I used Magical Express so I wouldn’t HAVE to go to the baggage claim,” she said simply. Me too! Plus, I had no idea what baggage claim area to go to – didn’t think I needed it, so I hadn’t listened on the plane. After asking at two different information desks, I finally found it (it was already on the belt) and we proceeded to Magical Express. At the time, I was highly annoyed. Now I’m thinking that maybe I need to practice relaxing a little more before I leave for Disney…


Off we go on the fake little monorail. Funny how much fun it is on arrival day, and how depressing it is when we leave!


And...what's a fake monorail ride without a little pole dancing?

It’s been 4 years since we’ve flown to Disney. DH sorely missed the Magical Express experience last trip when we drove (no joke…he debated about making his own version to watch once we got close!), so he was excited about this trip. I got my packet from AAA out, and told Un to do the same. Expecting the same thing as last time, we left Bryan and the kids at a group of chairs with our bags and headed towards the line at the desk. A helpful cast member, however, stopped me and told me that I didn’t need to go to the desk – the vouchers were all I needed! Nice streamlining!



We really only had to wait about 10 minutes for a bus, which was great because they were letting people from our line on the bus as we entered the queue.


Ready to go!

While we were in line for the bus, Haley and I had discussed the fact that we were looking forward to seeing the Beach Club/Yacht Club and Boardwalk resorts as our bus made its stops, since we’ve never visited them. I was sure that we would be the last stop, since we were the lowly moderate resort. But once we got seated on the bus, the driver explained that our first stop would be POR. Woohoo! Even better!


DH's beloved video!

I did enjoy the video, I must say. It’s hard not to when you’re on your way to Disney! Before we knew it, we crossed the gates onto Disney property (no good shot of the sign…sorry!). We watched for glimpses of other hotels, the parks – anything we could find. Before we knew it, though, we were pulling up to POR.

Up next...I find a new favorite resort!
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:05 PM   #12
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sounds like a great time!
Welcome aboard! We had a great trip...can't wait to share a little more!
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:16 PM   #13
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My New Favorite Resort

Port Orleans, Here We Come!

We had never stayed here before, but I’d hurried from the boat dock to the bus stop once when we were with Bryan’s brother and his wife. They stayed here for their honeymoon, and were hooked from the start. We’d rushed too much to be able to really get a feel for the place the last time. But I wasn’t quite ready for how elegant it felt!


(This is one of the fancy panoramic shots DH can take with his new camera… cool, huh?)

Un and I checked in while Bryan took some pics and kept the kids under control.


These are some of the seasonal decorations we saw in the lobby.

We enjoyed the short walk to our room in Oak Terrace. I was quickly falling in love with this place!



Our room was 9046. We couldn’t wait to get in and see what Princess Tiana had in store for us!






Needless to say, we were impressed. The kids loved looking around finding the “treasures” left behind by each princess. Some of them were easier to find than others…

Reading the letter from Princess Tiana on the desk that told us about the treasures:





Cinderella



Jasmine (loved these!)



Snow White



Ariel (and Aurora?? The only thing we could find that seemed to be hers were these pink and blue jewels)



Belle



Tiana



And these little critters hanging around on the boarder.







(Continued next post)
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:32 PM   #14
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My New Favorite Resort (continued)

And DH got these great pics of the fireworks in the headboards.





We were really glad to see that our request for adjoining rooms had been filled, as well. It would make keeping track of Jack much easier, and it really probably made our rooms feel much bigger than they were.

I’d been texting back and forth with my friend Jen during this time (yes, we have the same name). We’d been friends since high school, made it through four years of rooming together in college, talked to each other once a week faithfully while she lived in Boston for four years, lived in the same town for three years when they’d moved back, and now lived 45 minutes away from each other. With five kids between us, it can be kind of tough to find time to get together, but we do the best we can. Both their school corporation and ours went to the new schedule this year, and we found out by accident that we were planning a trip at the same time! They’re no strangers to Disney, either – they even spent New Year’s 1999 there with her husband’s family. We actually ended up 2 buildings away from each other at POR! They’d arrived earlier that day, having driven over from her dad’s house in Tampa, and she’d let me know that they were en route to Epcot for their ADR at Le Cellier at this point. We made plans to meet up later, as I had anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to wait for our Garden Grocer order to arrive.

We dropped our things after taking pictures and headed to the food court. I stopped to take some pictures in the courtyard when we left – it was fun to find all the details!








The kids loved the fountain in the courtyard.


Our destination - right across the river!

We were very pleased with the food court, as well! We felt like there were plenty of options for us, and it was fun not to have to worry about finding a bargain with the QS plan. Bryan, Un, and Jack did have to wait a REALLY long time at the grill for their burgers and Jack’s chicken nuggets on this day, but that was the only glitch we had. Will tried the kids mac ‘n cheese (not a hit..he’s really addicted to the boxed stuff), Haley got a plain pasta, and I tried the make-your-own-salad bar. YUM! The wonderful CM behind the counter recommended the mandarin orange-sesame ginger dressing that was soooo good! And it was nice to have an option that wasn’t a burger. I made a note to try the make-your-own-pasta section later on, too. Sorry...I was really bad about taking food pics this trip. Well, except for this one...


Jack enjoys his ice cream!

We got our refillable mugs and settled in to eat. Well, Haley, Will, and I did. Jack, Un, and Bryan were still waiting for their food! In fact, we were pretty much done by the time they got to sit down. Bryan thought his burger was pretty good, and Un got a Mahi Mahi sandwich that looked wonderful, though he did say it was a bit salty. Since we were done, Haley and I traveled down to Fulton’s General Store to check out their sunglasses selection to replace the ones I’d forgotten at home. (Yes, something else that had been forgotten. Wish I could say this was the last thing…) I took some pictures of the cute display inside…







…before finding a pair of sunglasses that would work and heading back to the guys. We refilled our mugs one last time and went out in search of the pool area. A few more pics on the way…






And then we made it to Old Man Island!









Jack was ready to go get his swimsuit and jump in right away! But I’d gotten a text from Garden Grocer that our order was in, and since I’d ordered milk to go with our cereal for the mornings I didn’t want to wait to get it. I headed to bell services and found out that they’d deliver it to our rooms once we got back there, so I headed back to the room and called. I thought they’d send it our direction right away. Bryan and Un came back with the kids, and I set about unpacking what we had in our carry-ons while we waited.

Jack had some fun on the carpet…



And the kids enjoyed just hanging around and watching TV while we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Unfortunately, bell services didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry. Our luggage actually arrived from ME about twenty minutes into the wait, so at least I got to start unpacking before we left. Finally, we got our groceries, put them away, and headed to the bus depot. Next stop: Epcot!
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October 2012 Trip report


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Old 04-05-2013, 11:29 AM   #15
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I'm in!!! Great posts so far. We are heading to POR in August. We love it there and have no desire, except maybe Poly, to stay anywhere else. Looking forward to reading more.
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