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Old 12-16-2013, 05:35 PM   #1
WeatherbySwann
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Smile We Should Be Studying For Finals. But... Let's Go to Disney


Somehow, in the middle of all the studying and the sheer panic that surround final exams, the student body grows closer together. Some of my most meaningful conversations and moments with friends have occurred over various finals weeks. Maybe it's not the exams themselves that prompt this closeness as much as wanting to make the most of the time we have left together before everyone separates over the imminent school break. In any case, finals bring students closer together in a way few things do. Everyone is frenzied about the same thing, which means everyone can encourage one another in the same way (often just being a friendly presence).

With exams being so tiring and stressful, naturally there are needs for study breaks here and there. Certainly a dominant feeling during such a break is wanting to escape from everything. And what better escape is there than Walt Disney World? For about two hours in the middle of the night last week, two friends and I salivated over YouTube vlogs and ride-throughs all about Disney, and when we were finished, one of them remarked, "Dang, I want to go so bad."

The other replied, "Yeah, me too," then jokingly added, "What if we just packed up and went next week. Oh, that would be funny."

Then it clicked. The statement, meant to be unrealistically absurd, didn't seem so strange once spoken aloud. We looked at each other, and we were all thinking the same thing.

Let's go.

So right now, less than a week after that conversation, I'm getting everything all set to leave for Walt Disney World tomorrow morning. I'm kind of waiting to wake up and it all be a dream, and be back in the study room of my dorm. But it's really happening, and, well... finals week didn't seem so important after that decision was made. (We all studied our butts off and finished strong, but there was much weight lifted from our shoulders with Disney on the horizon!)

This is the most last-minute I've ever done Disney. The closest was deciding to go to the Monstrous All-Nighter last May, 4 weeks before the trip. The past week has been a flurry of emotions... every time I remember that I'm going to Disney (so soon!!), I do my best to keep it cool. But most of the time I just get giddy, and, I'll be honest, I've even welled up a few times.

Who's going:
  • Me, Blake
  • Caleb - He loves all things theme parks, which of course includes Disney. He went to the Monstrous All-Nighter with me and can whip up a spur-of-the-moment touring plan of attack like nobody's business. He's great at touring commando style while I prefer to soak in the magic moments, so put those together and we're a pretty swell traveling team.
  • Jeremy - Totally gets what Disney is all about in a way few college students do. He really appreciates the magic and the legacy of everything. Can also make the noises of all the animals on the Jungle Cruise.
  • Brody - Has never been to Disney before and is so excited about going for the first time! He used to go to the Western Montana State Fair and pretend he was in WDW We are gonna hook him UP!

^^^That last part is what got us. We couldn't NOT go after hearing that!

Being someone who likes things organized and planned out in advance, ordinarily I might express trepidation at doing something so spontaneously. But with the concept being something as close to me as Disney, I recognized that this season of my life is unique in that I simply won't have the opportunities to do things like this for very long.

This intro post will be updated to include a table of contents as we go along. Thanks for joining us, and I hope we provide you with some entertainment of what I'm sure will be various displays of things gone wrong and utter nonsense. But also plenty of magic


Table of Contents
You can read the TR, or you can take the FastPass line and watch the vlogs!

PreshowDay 1
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:40 PM   #2
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Subscribed! I just finished finals, and I wish I were going to Disney...have a ball!!
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Old 12-16-2013, 07:39 PM   #3
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Index! LOL! Cool dude!

"Can also make the noises of all the animals on the Jungle Cruise."

I never even thought about that as a qualification... before.



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Old 12-24-2013, 04:07 AM   #4
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Teaser Post with a Teaser Poster


We are back and had a magical time! I can't wait to share everything - it was without a doubt the best Disney trip I've ever taken. A perfect group dynamic that lent itself to lots of fun and quite a few episodes.

To reiterate, the plan was: 2 nights at the Motel 6, 1 day with a Base Ticket for Magic Kingdom. We'd arrive Tuesday, do MK Wednesday, then go home early Thursday morning. That being said... How, oh how, and why, oh why, did I find myself Thursday night craning my neck more vertically than I knew possible to see the high-altitude pyrotechnics of IllumiNations' Christmas finale? Wellllllll.....

Just a tease of what's to come...
  • We did not not stay at our initially planned accommodations.
  • It is possible to experience 10 modes of transportation in 1 day and not enter a theme park during any of it.
  • It is also possible to kind of sort of maybe attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party from outside the park.
  • The best parade spot in all of Magic Kingdom is at the barber shop and wait 'til you hear why.
  • FastPass+ is confusing!
  • Caleb is the next Mowgli.
  • Walt's head may or may not be frozen and we've gotten some pretty good leads from Cast Members as to the whereabouts of its secret hiding place.
  • We had double the amount of time in the parks than we planned on thanks to a very special Cast Member.

Looking forward to sharing the magic right here.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:44 PM   #5
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"...and why, oh why, did I find myself Thursday night craning my neck more vertically than I knew possible to see the high-altitude pyrotechnics of IllumiNations' Christmas finale?"

Don't care why, just glad to read that you did! YES!



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Old 12-28-2013, 11:16 PM   #6
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Joining in.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:55 PM   #7
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Part 1: Not Quite According to Plan

Woohoo! Ready to get this TR started. It is my hope in writing this that anyone reading gets some fun out of it. I always LOVE writing trip reports - not to blab about myself, but so that YOU will take something away from our experience: perhaps a touring tip, perhaps some trivia, perhaps some lessons that we learned the hard way, perhaps even some inspiration.

(Just as a side note, each part's title will allude to a different Disney movie or attraction. Do you know what this one is from?)

Without further delay... let's get started!

We shall begin with this nifty little montage to set the stage for our adventure. I'm the one who gets messed with in the car:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fnu87...ature=youtu.be

IS THAT HYPE OR WHAT. LET'S GO. Anyway. As I type, Jeremy is busy putting a cohesive vlog together of the trip, so I'll post those here as he finishes up with them as well. You didn't know you'd get a whole entire rootin' tootin' multimedia experience when you subscribed to this thread, did you?

So let's rewind for a minute. When we decided we definitely wanted to make this trip a reality, there wasn't a whole lot of time to pull everything together. We chose Magic Kingdom to give Brody the quintessential "first Disney trip" experience, and decided on Wednesday to go to the park because that was the only day that week that was not MVMCP, which meant the park would close at 11, not 7. As much as we wanted to let the anticipation build up, we knew we needed to go head and go before the Christmas/New Year's crowds got there.

There were several thresholds to get through... permission slips, if you will, that had to be approved in order to go on the trip: my family, Caleb's family, Brody's work, Jeremy's grades, and Jeremy's family. As each one got approved, it was like deciding to go all over again. Much happy dancing. And the wait in between each one was AGONY! We knew all along we'd *most likely* go, but there was no guarantee of anything. We knew everyone who had a say so would *most likely* let us go in a heartbeat (which they did!), but there was still always the possibility of them saying no. If any one of them disapproved, there would be no vacation. Simple as that. That's why I had the dually wonderful/torturous experience of not knowing whether to allow myself to get excited or not. Usually I look forward to Disney trips months in advance, and here I was DAYS beforehand not knowing what to do!! I didn't want to get too excited for fear of everything falling through, but at the same time I didn't want to miss that blissful pre-trip excitement that I know every person on this forum is familiar with. It was just bizarre!! I remember sitting in my room the Saturday before the trip and thinking to myself how weird it was that I didn't know if I'd be in Disney World in 3 days. Just weird!

But alas, Saturday afternoon the fateful final wave of permission came through, and it was official: We'd be Disneybound on Tuesday!


Trying to find the aux chord plug. There was none.

The drive was, thankfully, mostly uneventful. We had a catastrophe when we realized my mom's car doesn't have a plug-in for an aux chord, but that crisis was averted with a quick trip to Walmart to buy some CDs. There was a terrible accident just ahead of us in Georgia - not sure what exactly happened, but a truck was on fire in the median and there was smoke everywhere. It was actually kind of disturbing, but it looked like any ambulance that might have been there had already come and gone. Scary.

As we inched closer to Orlando, we played a new game: "Are they going to Disney?" Basically, you examine the occupants of every car you pass and determine whether or not they are on their way to Disney.

We started seeing familiar sights... first the billboards... then the horrid Days Inn... then Hogwarts... then the WDW Casting building... and then... finally...


We actually missed the turn to Motel 6. The particular Motel 6 we had reservations for was actually remarkably close to the Wide World of Sports, so we were following signs for that, but then missed Motel 6's exit. But it just so happened that RIGHT around the corner from that exit was the WDW entrance! And, I mean, it's not like we could turn around anyway so... why not go inside lol. We have the moment on video - I saw the sign before Brody (driving) did. I told him to look ahead, and he didn't see anything. "What?" "Look in front of you!" "What? OH! DISNEY WORLD!"


Now is a great time to talk about traveling with someone who had never been to WDW before. Wow. What a thrill. I think so much of the Disney experience is something that we take for granted because many of us have visited multiple times. Parts of each vacation might just seem like going through the motions. ("Well, I guess let's go on Pirates, I mean, we've got to do it every trip, you know.") That's not to say that the magic is lost--we still appreciate every ounce of it and soak in this wonderful, wonderful place that is so special. But sometimes we lose that sense of wonderment we first had when it was all new to us, and seeing Brody's face light up at everything--ALL of which was new for him--was something I feel very privileged to have been part of. If you know someone close to you who hasn't been to Disney - plant the seed to take a trip, go together, do it right, and soak it all in. It is priceless.

And speaking of priceless... it was 2:00pm, we had the whole day ahead of us, we couldn't enter any theme parks for the day (since we'd be using our 1-day ticket tomorrow), and we STILL had a full afternoon and evening of extreme fun without paying for anything except meals. BOOM. It's actually remarkable how much fun you can have without ever paying a dime.

First things first: We realized that we could check in to the Motel 6 at anytime, including at the end of the day. So... why did we plan on wasting time by checking in there first? Idk, but we figured since we were already on property and we just planned to go from Motel 6 to Downtown Disney anyway, we might as well head to DD and check in at the hotel later. Sounds good! Besides, I really think the excitement in that vehicle was so through the roof once we crossed on to Disney property that we couldn't have turned that car around even if we tried.

So to Downtown Disney we went!! We really didn't have a set plan, other than we knew we wanted to be at the Contemporary by 9:30 to see Wishes. (Like I said... you can see amazing stuff for free. ) We headed to Guest Relations to get Brody his 1st Time button, and then headed to Pollo Campero. While we were in line, we got to scheming... it was his first trip. We needed to really do the full Disney experience. And in the trip all about spontaneity, it wasn't 5 minutes later that we had cancelled our Motel 6 reservation and booked 2 nights at All-Star Movies.


This statue of Olaf pretty much sums up my entire feelings about arrival day.

All this happened in the Pollo Campero lobby, and as we were working through everything, a Cast Member approached us and asked if we needed any help with the menu. Menu, what? Oh yeah, this was a restaurant. We had kind of forgotten where we were lol. We politely said no, and she left us as we continued talking. We stood there a few minutes longer working through it the hotel stuff, and the CM, whose name was Sheryl, approached us again. "Hey, you know the family meal is really the best deal here! It pays for 4 people and you'll save a ton of money!"

"Oh, thank you! We really appreciate the help, but we're actually trying to figure out our hotel accommodations right now."

Well tickle her pink and call her Nancy. Turns out she's worked at WDW for 10 years, and from our conversation, you could tell that she loves interacting with guests and sharing Disney knowledge with them that can make their vacation even better. She was very nice and probably talked with us for about 10 minutes. Even though we pretty much had it covered by the time we starting talking with her, it was fun hearing her insight and interjecting CM stories here and there in between her advice. Turns out she went on vacation in 2004 and never left, and soon after started working at the Yacht Club for several years before moving to Pollo Campero.

That was our first really good Cast Member interaction of the trip, and thanks to it we made a point of striking up fun conversations with CMs as much as we could. They are always a pleasure to talk to, and you know they love interacting with guests just as much as we love interacting with them. We especially made sure we talked to anyone we saw who was on the College Program, as we would LOVE to do that in a couple of years!

But anyway. Yes. Remember Sheryl. She'll come up later in our story.

So once Motel 6 was ditched and we settled on All-Star Movies, there was nothing keeping us at Downtown Disney lol. We drove the car to All-Stars and checked in!! Yowza. I can really say that is one place I never expected to be on this trip. It was surreal. Just surreal. One more surprise awaited us at check-in: Magic Bands!

We asked all 3 CMs at check-in where Walt Disney's frozen head was hidden. This became a running gag throughout the whole trip. We all knew Walt was actually cremated, but it made for a fun conversation-starter. We got everything:
"It's at the top of the castle."
"If it's anywhere, it's at Disneyland."
"We're not allowed to say."
"The family actually did look into cryogenics."
"That's not true, he was cremated."
"Umm, I'm not sure, but hold on, let me ask someone for you."



We got assigned to Mighty Ducks. I had stayed here once before during the 2004 hurricane so I have fond memories of these buildings and the 18 hours we were ordered by Florida law to remain in them haha


Upon finding our room, we held the Magic Band up to the door and waited for something cool to happen......... nothing. Tried jiggling the handle. Didn't work, it was still locked. Tried the Magic Band again. Nope, still nothing. Well, maybe you have to lift up on this black covering thing, maybe that's---oh. That fell off, we broke it. Dang it. Oh wait, it goes back on easily, thank goodness.

A few Magic Band tries later, we eventually made it in, and at the precise moment we did, the room's clock alarms started going off. It actually caught us off guard and rather startled us.


As soon as we entered, I quickly become very excited as I remembered all of the wonderful Disney extras we now had the privilege of experiencing. The first came when I looked at the phone. THE PHONE! That means... yes, a wake-up call from a character tomorrow!!! Next was the tv. THE TELEVISION! Wait! Does that mean... let me turn it on... YES! It does! STACEY AND THE MUST-DOS!! Then I turned around and look at the bed... towels in the shape of Mickey Mouse. That just about did it for me. It was real. We were here. Let the memories begin.
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by courtneybelle View Post
Subscribed! I just finished finals, and I wish I were going to Disney...have a ball!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by ejud View Post
Index! LOL! Cool dude!

"Can also make the noises of all the animals on the Jungle Cruise."

I never even thought about that as a qualification... before.



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Originally Posted by scottny View Post
Joining in.

Glad you all are here! Hope you enjoy it.
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeatherbySwann View Post
We had a catastrophe when we realized my mom's car doesn't have a plug-in for an aux chord, but that crisis was averted with a quick trip to Walmart to buy some CDs.
LOL! Oh you kids! When I first went to Disney, we had to sing our own songs! And walk there! Uphill both ways! In the snow!!!!



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Old 12-29-2013, 08:28 PM   #10
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PS: That crash you mention: what date was that?



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Old 12-29-2013, 09:28 PM   #11
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Joining! I remember those trips from my college days. Can't wait to hear what happens next! Also, want to hear about the Magic Bands.
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:28 PM   #12
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Off to a great start. Can't wait to read about the rest if the trip
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:51 PM   #13
scottny
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Great video.
I agree going with a newbie is great.
That is great you switched to a Disney resort.
Love Stacey. LOL
Great start. Looking forward to more.
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:16 AM   #14
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Hi Blake! How did I miss your new TR? I'm here and enjoying your spontaneity with ditching your original hotel! I remember your last trip with such awesome magical moments aside from the fact that you did 24 hours of Disney!

Cute video.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:49 AM   #15
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Following along!
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