I have been really dreaming of a way to get back to WDW already....like, driving my DH crazy kind of dreaming....so, I thought I'd write a TR and relive some magic that way instead!! First TR - so bear with me I am a 33 y/o mama of 2 little girls, now ages 6 and 3. My Star Wars queen: My candy queen: They each have December birthdays, so this trip was in celebration of their birthdays and our holiday celebration as well. My DH is 34 & a hard-working daddy. I work part-time for a non-profit arts organization. Us then: Us now: I am fortunate enough to have a very generous brother, who happens to be a DVC member. He had asked us to go to WDW in December of 2010, but we had just bought our first home and were really pinching pennies, so we were afraid to commit. We told him that maybe 2011... So, New Year's Day 2011 my brother asks us if we're "in" so they can book the trip. We said "Yes"! We figured we'd use our tax return for a good portion of it and put our remodel plans on hold.... my DH is the reluctant mouseketeer, so he would just grimace. I was bouncing!!! My brother also has 2 kiddos, a DD age 9 and a DS age 13. I love these kids so much!! My nephew is an aspiring actor, and I am a recovering actor, so we have a lot in common My niece is a dancer and is like a big sister to my daughters. They think she hangs the moon! My SIL is awesome! She is a real friend. Our families live over 4 hours apart, and with busy calendars and work schedules, we only see each other a few times a year... So, that brings our tally to 8...but, WAIT! There's more...my parents signed on for the trip, too! Quasi-retirees, my mother also had double knee replacement in the spring of 2011. She got her knees done for Mickey, b/c she didn't want to slow anyone down for the big trip!! She was so brave and I am so proud of her!!! I also have a sister with 2 kiddos. Although, she could not commit to the trip this year. (She went with my brother on a Disney cruise the year before...) However, my parents offered to bring my other niece and nephew along! Yay!! They are 15 and 12. That brings us to 12! My SIL tells me that her mom & sister are going too - we have a grand total of 14 headed to WDW in December - yahoo!!! SIL called the next month to tell us that she booked a 2 BR villa and 2 1 BR villas at the Wilderness Lodge!! **Squeal!!** And so my obsession really began...... Last year I found the boards and read up like crazy on the world. I booked breakfast at the CRT as the girls' birthday treat. I was hoping for a nice late seating breakfast, but my SIL requested the earliest seating so we could gain early entrance to the park. So, I set an alarm on my phone and scored an 8:20 am seating at CRT for our princesses!! In anticipation of our trip, I sewed a few special outfits for the little girls. I also made hair bows and began to buy souvenirs in advance to keep our in-park costs low. In August, my DH and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. My grandma had suffered congestive heart failure for some time and the morning of our anniversary I got a very early call from my dad that she had passed. It was devastating to all of us. She was the matriarch of our family and not only a most loving granny, but also someone we all admired and aspired to be like. I miss her every single day. We buried her on my birthday, four days later. I still can't help but cry every time I think about her. She and my grandpa bought a little house in Florida when they retired in the 80's. Their little house in Spring Hill housed us on many road trips to Florida. We'd load the van early in the morning and enjoy a full day at the parks before loading back in to the van half-asleep and riding back to Spring Hill. There was a little drawer in their living room that always had park tickets in it for anyone coming to visit. I have many happy Mickey-memories from my childhood. A few days of Florida sunshine with my grandparents were always a welcome retreat from bitter Pennsylvania winters.... Our hearts were heavy this fall, but Disney gave me hope. That may sound silly, but having the trip to look forward to was a real blessing. Our airfare was paid, our park tickets were purchased, my bags were mentally packed... my brother even surprised the kids on a late fall visit with Disney gift cards <3 he has that generous Disney spirit, too <3 And then December arrived!!! We were scheduled to fly out of Buffalo on an early Sunday morning. We opted to take advantage of a Park&Fly rate and drove to Buffalo Saturday evening, I had to work an event on Saturday, so we left around 4. At about 5:30pm we met up with my parents and niece & nephew at the Buffalo mall. DH needed sneakers for the trip, so bought a pair and we poked around the mall a bit. It was really busy!! Nowhere to eat without a long wait, so we went to find our hotel instead. Kids were getting crabby (and hungry!!) There was a Cracker Barrel across from the hotel, so we stopped for dinner. Our server was awesome and there was something on the menu to make everyone happy. We popped back over to the hotel to check in. Horrible customer service at the front desk!! But, we got our keys and headed up to the rooms. DH went to park the car in the P&F lot. The kids were super wired and just bouncing off the walls!!! Everyone was excited. I brought little gifts for everybody and passed those out. We were all a *twinkle*. I gave the girls a tub and scheduled our shuttle for 6:15 am. I put them in their comfy sweatsuits to sleep since they'd barely be awake to load the shuttle/head for the airport. The kids had a hard time falling asleep, and so did I! I barely slept at all, waking every hour from midnight to 5am before giving up and jumping in the shower. We were all packed and headed down for the breakfast buffet at 6. The kids grabbed fruit and dry cereal and the van was ready for us. Bleary eyed and yet anxious, we headed for the airport. We checked into JetBlue no problem and headed for security. I had to oust the girls from the stroller and suffer the process. The girls were in no mood, and they kept rescanning DH's laptop..... but, we made it. We headed for the gate and grabbed juice and a quick potty. It was sweet to see all the families obviously heading to WDW!! Our seats were 2 in one row and 2 in another row. Wish I had done 3 in one row and DH in another b/c both girls wanted to sit with me! They did pretty well on the flight. I thought my older DD would be more excited to have the window seat and look out at the land below, but JetBlue has TV and cartoons won out.... She told me later she was actually nervous. These are just crummy phone pics, but: (she's holding her earbuds in place...) And one of my little Bee: We landed in Orlando no problem on a hazy day. It was beautiful and spotting palm trees for the first time with the girls was great! I told them to keep an eye out for gators! We headed to the Magic Express and after ironing out a few things, the guys got us checked in. Our bus came and we were on our way! My younger DD did her wild wind-down before crashing on the bus and catching a few winks. Driving up to WDW was so exciting!! I had only remembered doing this part in the dark before. The Poly and Grand Floridian were our first stops. Poly looks like so much fun and the GF was just gorgeous! When we pulled up to the WL I had to hold back tears it was so beautiful!! i carried my sleeping girl out and Wayne loaded the stroller up with our luggage. The lobby was amazing and the tree was gorgeous!! I was in awe. I set DD on a couch with my mom and explored the lobby a bit with my older DD and niece - it was just incredible!! I texted my brother that we were there and he met us in the lobby. We waited about 30 minutes for our room and headed to the villas!! The kids were excited about the pool! The walkways were beautiful and I loved the smell of pine and all the holiday decor!! I just couldn't believe we made it!!! Our villa was on the 4th floor and overlooked the pine trees. It was beautiful. My brother gave us an entire room with 2 beds and a bath. It was very spacious. We unpacked and just poked around a bit. Little DD (let's call her Bee from here on out) was still asleep and older DD (Fee) was ready to check out the pool, so I took she and my niece down to check it out. It was not quite warm enough for me to swim, but the kids didn't care! Fee wanted to try the slide but wouldn't go down unless I caught her, so I went in the pool and caught her. She was so proud! We all enjoyed the bubbling hot tub a bit before heading back up to the room. Being dramatic: Bee was up and DH had brought some food up from Roaring Fork. We had plans to head for DTD and ressies at TREX. The girls got all dolled up in their minnie dresses and ears. They looked SO cute! Since Bee had such a great nap, we left the stroller behind and caught the bus. DTD was bumpin! Lots of people out and about. I guess it was POP Warner week and there were just people everywhere. DH went to TREX to see if we could add everyone on to our TREX ressie, since we'd only made it for 6.... It would take 45 min. - which was fine b/c the kids were exploring the Lego store. I took Bee to the potty and that is when she spotted "Minnie's Boutique". She flipped out! She was so excited to have found Minnie's Boutique just like on MMClubhouse!! Watching her buzz around and oooh and ahhh at all the cute stuff was adorable!! She and sissy picked out identical Minnie polly pocket type toy sets and Fee got some postcards for her friends back home. She has just started writing and was thrilled to be sending notes back to her kindergarten class. We went t o be seated for TREX and made our way to our seats. It was very loud!!! The girls were a little sketched by the dinos, but it was cool. They love dinosaurs!! We had a great dinner, and all the kids ate really well and were very well behaved. They played with their new toys at the table while mama finished her tasty beer. I'm a vegetarian and my pasta dish was very good, better that your usual chain restaurant attempt at a veg offering where I end up with oily noodles and frozen/steamed veggies. DH had ribs and the girls had mac & cheese and pizza. They redeemed their reward charts from Landrey's website for free meals, too! Bee's was for using the potty and Fee's was for reading. For a table of 10 with the tip our bill was still only like 160, not bad (my bro. SIl, and her mom and sister went to earl of sandwich and got fun drinks...) We wanted the kids to get a decent night's sleep since tomorrow was MK day and we had an early ADR. We walked back towards the buses but stopped at Goofy's candystore and let Bee fill a bag of candy. This child is a candy NUT. She dreams about candy, talks about candy, and refers to herself as "CAndyGirl" much of the time. We gave her a bag and told her she could fill it up! She was, well, like a kid in a candystore!! My DH took video, but, sadly, it didn't turn out We met up with everyone else at the bus stop and Bee shared her candy with everyone. We were all still wired and excited to be in WDW!! 7am came early for my kiddos, but I got them in their regal wear and ready to meet the princesses!! Sleepy Snow White: We headed for the boat launch at 7:30 and waited for my SIL - she was looking for my brother - something about getting her tickets on her KTTW card, they kept missing each other and nobody had their phone. It was a mess. The girls, my mom, and I waited on the dock. I didn't realize (or had forgotten) that the boat doesn't go directly from WL to MK that early. I read the little sign that the boats to MK began 1/2 hr. before park opening and had a mini panic - but I asked the princess-y family waiting at the dock if they were going to have a princess breakfast and they said yes and politely told me to just take the Contemporary boat and them monorail to the MK. I was relieved, but still worried about time b/c my SIL was still MIA!! She finally showed up (it felt like forever!) and we loaded the boat to the Contemporary. I was trying to play it cool - but I was very worried that we'd miss our ADR and I'd lose over 250.00 on a pre-paid meal that we missed and severely disappoint my little girls who know that this is their birthday event. SIL was on her phone trying to switch the time to no avail. She tells me we can still be seated up to 20 min. past our reservation time. We hop outta the boat and book it for the monorail when someone tells us we could just take the pathway, but its about 1 mile. Now, I was ready to do this, no problem. I had my jogging stroller and sneakers on! But, my mom has new bionic knees, but I'm not makin' mama run to the MK. Not happening! We find the monorail and head for the MK. I was feeling nauseated and just sick at this point. i was trying to keep perspective, but I was really afraid...time was a ticking....it felt like the monorail was inching along! We get to the MK and book it down the ramp to the MK! Rush through security and they flag us to the reservation entrance. No problem. SIL says she'll run ahead to the castle and with her DD and mom and I can meet her there. We managed to stop for one quick pic since the Main Street clock said I was only a few minutes behind and SIL was checking in. (I am still freaking...) We head for the castle and I see my SIL heading toward us, she pulls me to the side and says, "I dont want to upset the kids, but, they say they don't have a reservation for us..."