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Old 09-16-2013, 01:08 PM   #1
aprylann28
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After Years of Dreaming We're Finally Going to See the World-Nicholas's Wish Trip PTR

Hi, my name is April, and this is my PTR for my son’s wish trip to Disney World. I was going to wait until March of 2014 to start this, but based on some information I found out today, I decided to go ahead and start now. This may be way too early to start a trip report, or it may not be. Anyway, I hope I get some readers who enjoy following along and will stay for the whole journey if it does turn out to be really early.

My son, Nicholas, has been approved to receive a wish through the Sunshine Foundation, and his wish is to meet Mickey Mouse, so we are wishing for a trip to Disney World. We don’t have our dates yet, but when I first talked to our granter on the phone, she said it could be up to two years before we get to go, which is why this PTR may be really early. But when I talked to her today, she said that sometimes they can find sponsors or donors to adopt a dream, and if that happens we may get to go sooner than two years. So I decided to go ahead and start the PTR now, for in case we get to go much sooner.

Next up: Introductions and Why We Have Been Dreaming for So Many Years.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:14 PM   #2
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Chapter Links

Introductions

Why We Have Been Dreaming for So Long - Part 1

Dreaming Part 2

Dreaming Part 3


Dreaming Part 4

Dreaming Part 5

Nicholas is Getting a Wish

A Bit of Good News Followed by Some Bad Luck

Real Life Update 10-22-13

Happy Halloween

Long Life Update

Has It Really Been Two Months?
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:16 PM   #3
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Keep us posted!!!
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Next trip July 2016 POP and AOA about 70 people
Dec. 2013 Pop Century to celebrate 25 anniversary Adults only
All Star Sports family trip 25 people Feb 2011
Pop Century September. 2009
Pop Century Adults only 20 year anniversary Dec 2008
Pop Century Big family trip 42 people July 2007
Contemporary and All Star Music Dec. 2006
All Star Music June 2005
Port Orleans- Riverside and Disney Wonder Nov. 2002
6th grade trip To Magic Kingdom had my first kiss on Tom Sawyers Island June 1977
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:16 PM   #4
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Following along!
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Old 09-17-2013, 09:21 AM   #5
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Yah! I have readers!

I am working on getting some pictures uploaded to photo bucket, then I will introduce our cast of characters.

Thanks.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:30 AM   #6
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Introductions

This is me, April:

[IMG][/IMG]

I am a full time administrative assistant and even more full time mommy of four wonderful children. I love all things Disney. I have only ever been to the Magic Kingdom, and that was when I was a kid, so I was never on the planning side. I must say the planning has been overwhelming at times, and still is sometimes. My favorite Disney movies are Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty.

This is my dear husband, Chris:

[IMG][/IMG]

He is a welder and an awesome daddy to our four wonderful children. He is not so much into the Disney stuff like the rest of us, but he does have his moments. After all, this trip was originally his idea (more on that later). He also has only ever been to the Magic Kingdom, and that was when he was a child. He has turned all planning of the trip over to me and occasionally gets annoyed when I try to ask his opinion about Disney World stuff. His favorite Disney movies are Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.

This is our oldest son, Chris Jr. (CJ from here on out):

[IMG][/IMG]

At the time I am writing this he is 16, but will be 17 in about a month. He is at that age where he doesn’t want to admit that he likes Disney stuff, but when one of his favorite movies comes on, he gets as excited as a five year old. He has never been to Disney World, or on any vacation for that matter. This is true for all of our kids, and this trip to Disney World will be our first family vacation ever. Unfortunately, I found out today that if CJ is already 18 by the time we get our trip, we will have to pay for him ourselves. He will be able to stay at the Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village with us, but nothing will be free for him. So here’s to hoping we get to go before October 2015. CJ’s favorite Disney movies are Tarzan and The Lion King.

This is our second son, Noah:

[IMG][/IMG]

Noah is 11 and is not really into Disney that much. He likes some of the teenage sitcoms on the Disney Channel and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He is also starting to get into Star Wars, but ultimately he is our Harry Potter fanatic. He swears that nothing will ever take the place of Harry Potter in his heart, and he wants to know why we can’t go to Universal Studios instead of Disney World. But, I know that he is secretly excited about this trip, because when we watched the planning DVD, he kept whispering “Oh, we have to do that. I know he’ll be even more excited once he finds out there is Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean stuff there. And, since we also have the option of getting Universal tickets from the Sunshine Foundation, there might be a special surprise for Noah in the mix. Noah’s all time most favorite movie is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His favorite Disney movie is Pirates of the Caribbean.

This is Mary, our only daughter:

[IMG][/IMG]

Mary is 9 right now, but will be 10 in about a month. She is our total Disney girl. She loves all the princesses, but her favorite is Ariel. She loves to dress up in any fancy dress and any princess type accessories (it doesn’t have to be Disney, just princess). She is overly excited about this trip, and her number one priority is to go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and become Ariel. Since our time for the wish trip will be limited, I don’t know if we’ll be able to squeeze this in, but I’m sure going to try. Her favorite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid (and all the sequels.)

This is Nicholas, our youngest and our wish kid:

[IMG][/IMG]

Nicholas is 3, and to look at him, you would not know that anything is wrong with him. But, he is autistic. Chris and I thought he might be autistic for a long time because Chris has a great nephew that is autistic, and we could see a lot of the same traits in Nicholas as in Chris’s nephew. However, we did not get the official diagnosis until June of this year. He is still my precious little boy, and even I have trouble believing that anything is wrong with him other than a speech delay, until I see him around typical children, and then some of the differences become more obvious. Nicholas is doing great, though. We have him in some various therapies, and he has come a long way with his speech and behaviors since starting those therapies. Nicholas loves Mickey Mouse, so when we found out he had been approved to receive a wish, we knew what it probably would be. But I wanted to make sure it was what he wanted, so I tried to explain to him what was going on. I showed him pictures of three things that I thought he might want and asked him to show me what he wanted the most, but he just walked away like he wasn’t interested in any of them. But then over the weekend we were getting ready to go to a park, and I asked him if he wanted to go to the park. He told me very loudly, “No! I go Didny Wuld!” He told me this again three more times, so we decided Disney World it is. I don’t think Nicholas really has a favorite Disney movie right now since he can’t sit still through a whole feature length film. But his favorite Disney Channel shows are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Possibly also coming with us are my mom, Lynda (on the top), and Chris’s mom, Ann (on the bottom). The Sunshine Foundation has said that they can come with us and stay at the Dream Village, but we will have to pay for their tickets, airfare, food, etc. Since there is a possibility that we may have to pay CJ’s way, we will have to wait and see how much money we can save between now and then to take extra people with us.

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

Up Next: Why we have been dreaming for so long.
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:15 AM   #7
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Why We Have Been Dreaming For So Long - Part 1

We have been planning this trip since March of 2011, long before we even suspected that Nicholas was autistic. Shortly after Nicholas turned 1, we discovered that he loved Mickey Mouse, and especially the Hot Dog Dance. So one night at the dinner table, Chris says “Hey, guys! Guess What!” So, we’re all sitting there expectantly waiting, when he says “We’re going to Disney World!”

WHAT??!!

Had we won the lottery? Impossible - we don’t play the lottery.

Had we won a free trip to Disney World? I didn’t remember signing up for anything.

None of the above. Chris just wanted to go to Disney World.

How on earth did he think we were going to afford that?

Well, his theory was that it couldn’t be too awfully expensive or so many families wouldn’t be able to go there. He convinced me to look into it and get an idea of what it might cost before saying no, so I agreed.

When I asked Chris when he would like to go, he said he didn’t care, I could pick the dates. He just wanted to wait about a year so that we would have plenty of time to save. So after looking online and finding out that there are many many sites that tell you the best times to go to Disney World based on crowds, prices, weather, etc., I decided on the week before president’s day in 2012.

Also, Chris wanted to camp while we were there. Now don’t get me wrong. I like camping, and I love Disney, but in my mind camping and Disney World were not two things that should be put together. But I checked the website for the KOA campground that he had stayed at with his family when he was a kid, and then I went to Disney’s website to compare prices of hotels. Lo and behold, Disney World has their own campground. I couldn’t believe it. That must mean that people really do camp while visiting Disney World. It still seemed like a strange idea to me, but after reading all about Ft. Wilderness and all there is to do there, I decided that’s where we should stay. During this time I also found out about the Disney Dining Plan and decided we just had to have the deluxe plan. All the food we could possibly eat, and I wouldn’t have to cook or clean up for any of it – sounded good to me. Chris is a huge eater, by the way, which was another reason I decided on the deluxe plan despite the huge cost.

So I priced everything out (I had to use 2011 prices to get an estimate because 2012 prices were not published yet), and I think my original total was slightly over $5,000 for our family of six. We decided that we should be able to save that in about a year. So we started on our journey.

To be continued…
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Old 09-19-2013, 06:51 AM   #8
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Dreaming Part 2 - We Book our Trip and Then Have to Change It

Sometime around August of 2011, we booked our trip for February 2012. I think we originally booked 7 nights at Ft. Wilderness with 6 day MYW tickets and the deluxe dining plan. I paid the $200 deposit, and a few weeks later paid some more with some unexpected money that came in. Our final payment was due at the end of December. A few days later I was able to make all of our ADR’s. I did everything online, and found it to be a fun experience. I was even able to get us into Cinderella’s Royal Table at 8:15 am on the day we wanted.

Around mid-September Chris started complaining of pain in his lower stomach. After a couple of days he wasn’t feeling any better, and he started having trouble going to the bathroom, so I took him to the doctor. It turns out he had a hiatal hernia. The doctor said it was really bad, and he wanted to operate that same day. But, Chris had to set some things up with his work and the short term disability people because he would have to miss six weeks of work for recovery. So we set the surgery up for two days later. Everything went fine, and Chris was allowed to come home later that day.

Unfortunately, short term disability only gives you about half your regular pay while you are off work. So during the next six weeks we were not really able to save any money, and we had to dip into what we had already saved to help pay bills. We hadn’t saved a whole lot anyway, and the odds that we would have had the whole amount for the trip by December were pretty slim.

So after Chris got better and went back to work, I told him that I didn’t think we’d have the money for Disney by December. He got a little irritated and told me he didn't want to go to Disney World in February anyway. I reminded him that this whole trip was originally his idea, but I was informed that his idea was to go in December 2012 to see the Christmas decorations.

What – since when?? I distinctly remember being told that I could pick the dates as long as it was about a year later. But when Chris gets an idea in his head that he said something, you can’t argue with him. So I calmly replied that I would see if they would let us change our dates to sometime in December. He of course knew that they wouldn’t let us do that without charging us a bunch of fees. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we could change our dates, apply the money we had already paid to the new dates, and not incur any additional fees or penalty charges. Of course, I had to cancel all our ADR’s, and that made me sad. But now I was able to look forward to making them again in June of 2012.

So we now had a trip booked for the first week of December 2012.

To be continued…
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Old 09-19-2013, 07:01 AM   #9
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You've got me hooked
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Old 09-21-2013, 02:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeerMe View Post
You've got me hooked
Welcome aboard.
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Old 09-21-2013, 02:53 PM   #11
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Dreaming Part 3 - We're Not Going

After changing our dates to December of 2012, we tried to start saving our money again. Let me just take this opportunity to say that Chris and I are not very good at saving money. We both like to spend it too much. I got into some bad habits when I was single of not caring how I spent my money and thinking that I could just go out and get a loan or another credit card when I didn’t have the money to pay for stuff. Since I have gotten married and had children, I have learned to control my spending, but I still have my bad moments. However, my bad moments may be some $20 kitchen gadget that I justify because it will help me be a better cook, or a $30 blouse that I justify because it was 75% off.

Chris has never learned to control his spending. He is not nearly as bad with loans and credit cards as I was, but if we have extra money he thinks he should be able to take that money and go out and spend it on whatever he wants. Unfortunately, he always wants some new bowling ball that costs $150 or more. Or some piece of hunting equipment that costs $200 or $300. And even if I tell him we can’t afford it, he goes out and buys it anyway. He paid $125 for a bowling ball two months ago after I told him we absolutely could not afford it. But when our checking account was overdrawn, he blamed it on me for spending $20 more on groceries than I was supposed to that week. Really?

Anyway, I am not here to complain about my husband’s spending habits, just know that we are really bad at saving money.

In May of 2012 we had been trying to save for about eight months. Our final payment for our December trip was due in October. We were actually doing pretty good and had almost half the money for the trip. And then, BAM! One morning on my way to work, my car just stopped right in the middle of the road. No sputtering, no warnings, nothing – just a sudden dead stop. I feel lucky that I wasn’t on the express way yet. I tried to restart the car, but nothing would happen. It wouldn’t make noise or anything. I knew it couldn’t be the battery because the radio and the headlights still worked. So I called AAA and had them tow the car back to our house, because if I had it towed to the wrong shop or mechanic I would never hear the end of it. When I got a hold of Chris at work he told me where to have it towed, so I had to have AAA come back out and tow it somewhere else. I don’t even remember the name of the place now, but it was some mechanic that Chris’s brother recommended. He was supposed to be very good.

Apparently, my engine had completely blown up and the whole thing needed to be replaced. With the parts for the engine and labor it was going to cost us $3300 to fix. We didn’t even have that much saved yet. Also, my car is so old that I didn’t feel it was worth the $3300 to fix it. I tried to talk Chris into getting a loan and buying a newer used car, but he insisted that would cost us more than getting my old car fixed. Well, I knew that, but I was thinking a newer car would be a better investment in the long run.

But Chris is the decision maker when it comes to the cars, so we took what we had out of our savings, and had to borrow the rest from my mother in law. I saw my Disney dreams starting to slip away.

Well, that stupid car ended up costing us $5,000 to fix. Now, I don’t know anything about cars, engines, or anything like that, but I am suspicious of most mechanics. This guy installed the new engine, turned the car on, and it was making a knocking sound. So he tried some various things but could not get rid of the knocking sound. I don’t know how, but he eventually determined that the new engine we had bought was already bad. So we were going to have to get another engine. Fortunately, Chris had bought some kind of warranty on the engine, so it would be replaced for free. But the mechanic would not put another engine in without charging us the total cost of labor again. This is where I started to think we were being scammed or ripped off. Chris justified the second labor cost by saying that this guy did the work once and now was going to have to do it again, so it only made sense that he should be paid for his work both times. While this makes sense to me, I questioned the honesty of the mechanic. How do we know he didn’t do something to the engine so that he would have to do double work and make double the money? How do we know the engine really is bad and that he’s not lying to us? How do we know he just didn’t install it correctly? After arguing about this for a long time I gave up and let Chris win. So we borrowed another $1700 from my mother in law and had the stupid car fixed a second time.

So we now owed my mother in law almost $3000, had no money in our savings, and had five months to save a little over $5000 for a Disney Trip. I crunched and crunched and crunched numbers in our budget trying to figure out a way that we could start making payments to my mother in law and save that much money in five months. It wasn’t going to happen. I cancelled our trip and was able to get the money we had already put towards it back. We used this to pay my mother in law some of what we owed her.

Bye Bye Disney Dreams.

To be continued…
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Old 09-23-2013, 12:17 PM   #12
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Dreaming Part 4 - Planning a Trip That We're Not Going On

I continued to research things about Disney World for the rest of 2012. I had gotten so used to looking at the touring advice sites and checking the DisBoards for tips every day that I continued to do it. I would make sample itineraries and check prices on things at least once a month. Chris told me I was crazy for continuing to plan a trip that we were never going to get to go on. I told him we would make it someday.

By this point, we had also had our suspicions about Nicholas being autistic for almost a year. But the pediatrician would not even consider it a possibility until he was three. If he had not improved in some of his developmental areas by the time he was three, then she would recommend further testing.

Also, I don’t remember when or how this happened, but somewhere between the time we started planning the trip and the time we cancelled it, my mom and my mother in law were invited to come with us. I know this was mostly Chris’s idea, but I went along with it. My mom and I used to travel together all the time when I was single, and we hadn’t done that since I had gotten married, so I thought it would be fun to have her along. But adding two people did give a significant increase to what the trip was going to cost.

It was during this time after we cancelled our trip that I really started looking into free dining and what that actually was. When I found out that you could get the dining plan for free during the times that we had been planning on going in December, I was elated. This would save us a ton of money. But, you couldn’t get it if you were staying at the campground. So I really upped my pricing research. Fortunately, 2013 prices had already been published so I could get an accurate estimate. After days of pricing out various options and looking at menus and prices online, I finally determined that it would be cheaper for us to stay at Pop Century and pay the cost to upgrade to the basic dining plan than it would be to stay at Ft. Wilderness and have to buy the basic dining plan. Remember, I had been planning on the deluxe plan, but I decided that saving some money was more important than gouging ourselves on huge meals for 7 days. Plus I had also determined from tips here on the Disboards that having the deluxe plan would cause us to spend more time eating than touring the parks, and that it also is not as good a value as it used to be. I also priced out some of the moderate hotels and the hotels that had two bedroom suites since we could get the basic dining plan for free at those hotels. But it turned out that for us, two rooms at Pop Century with the upgrade was still cheaper.

So I set my sights on a December 2013 trip with free dining. But I decided not to book the trip until later in 2013. My goal was to have at least 75% of the money saved before we booked, that way we wouldn’t have to cancel again if we couldn’t come up with the money.

Cinderella’s Castle was slowly coming back into view.

To be continued…
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Old 09-24-2013, 06:47 AM   #13
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Dreaming Part 5 - We're Still Not Going

Hopefully, this will be the last part for the “dreaming” posts. I didn’t realize our back story was so long. I hope I haven’t bored my readers to death.

Anyway, we entered 2013 with renewed hope that we might actually make it to Disney World in December. Everyone seemed to be healthy, our cars were running fine, we were on a steady payment plan with my mother in law, and we had even managed to pay off a couple of credit card bills. So I went back into full on planning mode. My excessive planning of this trip has driven Chris nuts, and I think he’s gotten to a point where he no longer cares if we ever go or not. I always have to remind him that this trip was his idea in the first place.

Our new plan was to arrive sometime in December 2013, based on free dining dates, stay for six nights, visit the Magic Kingdom twice, and visit each of teh other Disney parks once. Due to the addition of people and the cost increases since 2011, our new estimate was around $7000. By the way, these estimates are always for our full trip – meaning hotel, tickets, food, gas, souvenirs, gratuities, and anything else I think we might need while we are there. I just wanted to let you all know that for in case my numbers seem a little high to anyone.

I had thought about throwing in one day to go to Islands of Adventure so that Noah could see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but the extra day and extra tickets just made it too expensive.

So, Nicholas had his three year check up in January 2013, and the doctor finally admitted that he might be autistic. So she referred us to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (CCH) for the evaluation. Our biggest concern at that time was his speech. At three years old he was still doing a lot of babbling, and we could only understand about 10% of what he was saying. A friend of my aunt’s who used to work for one of the school districts here had told me several months earlier to call our local school district and ask about getting Nicholas into an early intervention education program, and that would help with his speech. But when I called them, they also told me that Nicholas had to be three before they would evaluate him. Why do children have to be three before their parents’ concerns can be addressed?

The pediatrician recommended that we go ahead and get him set up with our school district because it might be a while before we could get in at CCH. So I started a long process of meetings with education teams at the school and appointments with medical teams at CCH.

Nicholas and I had to meet with the education team four different times. After evaluating him a couple of times, they said that they also believed he may be autistic based on their knowledge and experience with autistic children. But they of course could not officially give me a diagnosis because they are not doctors. After two more meetings, we had Nicholas set up on an IEP to start preschool early and receive speech therapy and occupational therapy services through the school.

About the time Nicholas started preschool, CCH finally called to start setting up our appointments with them. This ended up being four more appointments and we finally got the official diagnosis in June. The doctor wanted us to get Nicholas into private therapy sessions through CCH because she said what he was receiving at school would not be enough. They also assigned a social worker to us. The social worker referred us to a different place to get Nicholas’s therapies started because she said the sooner we start the better his chance for leading a normal life later on. She said it could be up to a year before CCH calls us to set up therapy, so don’t wait for them. She wasn’t kidding. At the time I am typing this it has been almost four months since we got the diagnosis, and CCH has not called to set up one therapy session.

However, getting Nicholas set up for therapy at the other place required more evaluations so that they could set up their own treatment plan. These evaluations occurred over two days within the same week – much faster than the school or CCH had been.

So after all that, plus my being sick twice this year, and Nicholas has also been sick twice this year, I ran out of paid time off from work in July. So regardless of whether we have the money, we cannot go to Disney World this year because I am not allowed to take off work anymore this year.

So we now have our sights set on December 2014. I told Chris that if we do not make it by then, I am giving up and we just aren’t going to go. I think he was okay with that, except for the fact that I continue my obsessive planning, and it continues to drive him nuts.

Up Next: Nicholas is getting a wish
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:57 PM   #14
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Hi,

Joining in!!!

Wow I thought I was a planner!!!

I'm looking forward to the next update!!!

Happy Planning,

Madeline
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http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2602026 Mallory Makes a Magical Wish! -- UPDATE -- I wish for... Rudolph!? pg. 4 Post #46

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Old 09-25-2013, 09:48 AM   #15
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Welcome aboard, Redwavess. I didn't intend on being this much of a planner for the trip, it just somehow happened. It started because I wanted to make sure we got to do as much as possible while we were there, so I started using touring plan sites and became addicted. I have had sample itineraries that planned out every minute of our day, including restroom breaks. However, after all this time, and after reading lots of tips here on the DIS, I think I am going to just lay back, try to hit our top priorities first thing in the mornings, and just relax and do whatever in the afternoons. I want this trip to be enjoyable, and I know rushing around trying to get to certain rides at exact times will not be enjoyable. I had to convince myself that it will be okay if we don't get to see every ride or attraction (or at this point, even every park). I have a friend who took her family for the first time last year, and they didn't get to do everything. But they had a wonderful time with what they did get to do and are looking forward to going back.
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