A Family of Four First Timers, Four Full Days in Feb. >>ETA Photos!<<

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by ktjoswanson, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. ktjoswanson

    ktjoswanson Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
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    Chapter One: Pre-Trip Report

    Cast of Characters:
    Me: Age 37 (I visited Disney Land with my mom and Disney World with my grandparents both when I was four and have very few memories)
    DH: Age 34 (has never been to Disney)
    DS: Age 9 (has never been to Disney)
    DD: Age 6 (has never been to Disney)

    Also there:
    Dad: 61 (has never been to Disney)
    Stepmom: 53 (has never been to Disney)
    Half-Brother: 18-19 (has never been to Disney and celebrated his birthday while we were there!)

    Where & When: Caribbean from 2/22-2/27/07

    We had so many family and friends who had taken trips to Disney World over the years that I felt kind of bad that we could not afford to give our own children such a wonderful gift. It is the iconic American family vacation after all. But I didn’t want to go into major credit card debt to do it. So I decided that if I could save up our tax returns for three years, I should be able to take our family of four on a Disney adventure sometime in the winter of 2006-2007. I decided the least active time of the kids’ school year was late February and I used that as the basis for my decision about the trip’s time frame as I was not at all saturated with information about Disney.

    Fate worked for us and the three years worth of returns were safely stashed in our account in August of 2006. I consulted a friend whose daughter goes to school with mine. She has only one child and they go to Disney about once every 18 months. She told me to start at MouseSavers.com. It was there that I found a Disney travel agent who booked our trip for Feb. 22-27, 2007. I was not aware of the existence of the Disboard at that time (gasp!) and so basically picked the Carribbean because it was in the “moderate” price range…might as well have thrown a dart at a board with all the moderate resort names on it.

    I bit the bullet and booked a direct flight because the thought of transferring planes was not one I relished. If we missed a connecting flight we could potentially lose an entire day which could translate into skipping one entire park; best to just increase our chances of making it there by eliminating airport dashes between gates.

    Actually booking the trip was very psychologically daunting for me. My kids are not very well-behaved. How would they fly? Would our family have a meltdown in a park? Also, I cannot sleep in hotels. It’s not my bed and my family members are all very noisy sleepers – they talk, they snore, they grind teeth. The littlest noise awakens me. Would I be Disney’ing on 90 minutes of sleep every night? Finally, it occurred to me that I had to organize our movements while at Disney and I knew next to nothing about the place. What if my ignorance caused us to have a mediocre time? Think of the wasted money!

    So I purchased the Unofficial Guide and started to form opinions about what attractions we could skip. (Mainly those geared towards pre-schoolers.) I continued to consult with my daughter’s friend’s mother who turned me onto character meals. She mentioned they book up 6 months out, so I better make the call asap. DD is pretty into the princesses and the thought of princesses mingling with us as we ate was too much to pass up. At 6, I figured she was at the perfect age for it. And so this is where it feels to me that it all really started – with the booking of the meal at Cinderella’s table. I decided to see if we could do it the first full day we were in Disney just so that we could start the trip off with a bang. I called 1-800-WDW-DINE having no concept at all of the difficulty of the task at hand. (I didn’t have the Unofficial Guide in hand yet.) So I was not at all relieved when I had choices – which meal did I want? I figured a breakfast might be easy to miss if we were late. And dinner was a little more expensive. So picked lunch, wrote down my confirmation number, and hung up thinking of how much fun we would have. I had no idea what a gift it was to get that table so easily!

    So then my stepmom says that she is still on board (as she had been since I’d mentioned years earlier that I was going to do this one day) to go, too. She said she’d have to talk my dad into it. But I hooked her up with my travel agent and she booked a trip at the same time, but departing a day earlier. (The flight was cheaper and she has relatives in Florida that she figured she could visit on the day she was there when we hadn’t arrived yet.) The youngest of my half siblings would be going also.

    Now I have this Cinderella meal booked for only 2. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I call back and book the Storybook Dining meal for 3 for breakfast on the Sunday morning we would be at Disney. I once again had no problem getting my first choice. I feared 2 princess meals might be overkill. But didn’t want her to feel excluded and I figured this was a good way to include her.

    Next, I get an e-mail from DD’s friend’s mom detailing their visit to BBB. She sent me a link to the pictures. Oh, yes – this is a must-do item. How cute if I could get her in before lunch with Cinderella? I’d already ordered a brand new Belle dress for the lunch. The hair-do seemed the perfect precursor. So I called and booked that, too, without any problem.

    So now it seems that my trip plan will be dictated by these appointments. And I was fine with that because having no idea when we should go where, I at least had some direction. I decided it would MK on Friday (for lunch with Cinderella), MGM on Saturday, Epcot on Sunday (for breakfast with Belle), and AK on Monday. I thought AK might not be our cup of tea and we could leave midday and return to MK for the afternoon before we left. I figured if we weren’t to pooped the Thursday afternoon we arrived, we could go to AK to make up for the half-day on the last day. I made no ADRs because I figured this might be our only trip to Disney and we weren’t there for the food. We were there for the shows and rides. We’d be happy with quick CS to get in as much of those as we could.
     
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  3. Motherofboys

    Motherofboys DIS Veteran

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    How exciting a new trip report by a first timer! :) Subscribing to read more of your adventures! Great start :thumbsup2
     
  4. mas6010

    mas6010 Mouseketeer

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    Making me want to go back really bad. Waiting for more. popcorn::
     
  5. VanniGirl

    VanniGirl DIS Veteran

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    Great start - looking forwad to hearing about your first trip!
     
  6. ktjoswanson

    ktjoswanson Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    Thanks for anyone who read this and to all who replied. I kind of feared no one would be interested in our trip. And I want to share my newfound love of Disney with those who would understand.

    On with the show:

    Chapter 2: Departure

    3 am on Thursday, Feb. 22nd and I am awakened by the howling wind. I worry it will be strong enough to cancel our flight! I listen to it until a little after 4 and then I get up to start getting ready. The whole family gets up and is well-rested. Maybe it’s because we’ve not been before so we don’t know how excited we should be, but we all got a great night’s sleep. So we’re chipper and getting along. What do you know?

    We drive to the airport and park in the close lot. With the kids I just want to keep it easy. We check-in and board with no problems. The kids are excited about being on an airplane for the first time ever.

    The day is overcast and we are excited to show the kids that we are going to fly up through the clouds and then travel above them. DD looks down at the clouds. “It looks like a fluffy world.” She has a knack for spewing out these little poetic lines. I tell her to put that down in her journal that her teacher asked her to keep on the trip.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We land, board Magical Express, and get to the Caribbean around noon. The room isn’t ready yet and I know check-in is at three. The front desk clerk tells us to grab lunch and check out the arcade at the food court. She suggests calling before 3 in case the room is ready early.

    We did not do the dining plan and let me say that I’m glad we didn’t. There is so much about WDW that I understand now that I have been there. I still do not understand how to make that thing work to my advantage financially. I had a delicious Oriental Salad from the deli there – it had noodles and a yummy Oriental dressing and big chunks of fresh mushrooms and chicken.

    After lunch, DD and I are not interested in the arcade so we go check out the pool while the boys check out the video games. We have shorts and short sleeved shirts and the weather is perfect. I let her wade in the pool and regret not tossing a swimsuit into one of our carry-ons.

    [​IMG]

    It’s getting closer to 3 so we all walk over to the pool by our room and DS really wants to swim. I figure our room has to be ready soon and our luggage should arrive at the same time so I let him take off his shirt and swim in his shorts.

    [​IMG]

    Needless to say the room is ready before 3 but we don’t have luggage yet! Now we’re stuck waiting for it because of my ill-fated decision to let DS swim in the only pair of shorts he’s got until the luggage comes. I’m kicking myself because I know that if I had kept him out of the water we could be on a bus to MK already. We are wasting precious hours!

    The luggage comes between 4:30 and 5:00. We change DS and we head out. I’m excited…really excited. They are, too. But I think vague, residual psychological impressions from my childhood that aren’t even clear enough to qualify as memories are making me subconsciously aware of the fact that lots of incredibly great things are right around the corner.

    We walk into MK around 5:30. It’s pretty full. But that doesn’t matter to me at all. Remember, I have nothing to compare it to. I expected there to be lots of people and there are. Besides, I am finally here! I am a Wisconsinite enjoying a 70 degree day in February. That alone means someone would have to actually cut off both of my legs to make this a bad day. Add to that the fact that I am at MK with my family; this means that a crowd would have to actually be trampling us to death to ruin this for us.

    I can’t see the castle. I imagined I would see it right away. I recognize Main Street and know that castle will be in full view when we come around that corner. I know that it will take my breath away. I tell my family that we are about to see it. They are a little overwhelmed, I think, and worried that mom is getting too smarmy for them to handle.

    We turn that corner and there it is. I have never done intravenous drugs. I imagine the rush I felt upon seeing the castle is very much like the needle in the arm. I haven’t done a thing in MK yet. I haven’t left WDW yet. And still I know that I will have to come back one day. This trip will not be enough, no matter what it is. I got tingly and my eyes watered. My daughter and I would be inside there the next day eating with a princess! Aah…the magic…now I get it!!!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I thought that since the next morning would be taken up with my daughter and I splitting off for BBB and lunch at the castle, we should take in lots of stuff all four of us would enjoy together. So we make for HM. There was a wait. (Thirty minutes, I think? I can’t remember now!) But we were all kind of numb. We saw lots of people all around and were uncertain if we would find a shorter wait anywhere else. And we wanted to do something…not just walk around. So we get in the line.

    I will not blaspheme HM. It has been there so long that is part of the heart of MK. And I know that. But let me tell you my most memorable moment on it. At the end when the ghost is in the car with you I had a flashback. (Sorry for all the drug metaphors!) Something I’m not sure I would ever have remembered again if I hadn’t returned to HM. I could remember clearly looking in that mirror and seeing myself as a 4 year old in that car with my grandparents flanking me on either side and the ghost squished in with us. I remember thinking in the way a 4 year old thinks how cool that was. I almost had to shake my head to clear the image and see my present-day family in the mirror. I can barely recall it even now! I can only remember the time with my grandparents. The magic again. (My grandfather passed away in 1986. My grandmother is 91 now.) My family liked HM. But it won’t be the same for them until they return 33 years from now and have an experience like mine. And now they can…all because I planned this trip. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I gave them all this gift.

    Off to Thunder Mountain. The wait is long so we get our FP and decide against Splash Mountain because it is cool and tomorrow we’ll be back and it’ll be warm. So we do POTC. Long line. It’s fine. We’re on vacation. It’s family time. We love spotting the Jacks on the ride and DH and I debate whether they’re animatronic or actors. (Newbie here is still not sure – I think only the Jack at the end in the rocker is animatronic. DH thought none of them were actors. Little help?)

    It’s getting dark by now. We head back to get cheeseburgers and ride Thunder Mountain. DD drops her burger on the ground. She will drop more food on the ground on this trip than entire families in China eat in a year. Not because she doesn’t want to eat it either. She’s just all thumbs.

    We use our FP for Thunder Mountain and the CM manning the line says that someone working ahead of her mucked it all up so there is actually a wait. It’s not bad, though. I ride with DD. She smiles and screams her way happily through this ride. I thought it was great fun. Fonzy said it’s great at night. I’ve never gone on it in daylight, so I don’t know if the experience is better at night than in the day. I think it was super for me to see my daughter love the speeds and the turns. It was her first roller coaster ride ever.

    Next we head over to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain and BL. We grab BL FP and do standby for Space Mountain. Another 30 minute wait, but DS gets the front seat and I was so excited for him. I personally that TM was more fun. But this ride is fun in its own right. DH loved that Gary Sinise was “there.”

    I’m ready for the whole family to love BL. I am shocked that only DD thinks it’s better than average. I am awful at video games. DH and DS are addicts so I think it’s below them. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t wasted time. It just wasn’t the hands down winner with my family that I anticipated it would be.

    [​IMG]

    Next we ride Winnie the Pooh. DS is grousing about it because he’s 9 and feels too old for such a ride. I expected it to have all the charm of Peter Pan which I could remember just a little bit. I was not disappointed. DD likes Pooh. I think it was even a little to babyish for her at age 6 ½. But it was Pooh so it was not a total loss for her. I think it’s a great Disney attraction.

    We caught some of the fireworks while waiting in line for Pooh. But we were all beat by now. So we headed out knowing we’d be back in the morning. I was glad we had tried so many things once because I wanted DH to be able to re-do favorite things while DD and I did BBB and lunch with Cinderella. Now he would have a working knowledge of the park layout and the types of things they liked and didn’t like to keep them busy while we did princess-y schtuff.

    Next installment: You mean BBB is in DTD and not at MK?!?!??
     
  7. Motherofboys

    Motherofboys DIS Veteran

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    That is such a great description :thumbsup2 This is such a great report, it brings all of the memories of our first family trip to WDW flooding back :goodvibes I can't wait to read more!
     
  8. photo_chick

    photo_chick Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about

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    I'm on board for the adventure!!!
     
  9. missj1975

    missj1975 DIS Veteran

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    Wow, I'm hooked. Your story about your Haunted Mansion experience brought tears to my eyes, very touching story. Thanks for sharing.
     
  10. princessjv

    princessjv DIS Veteran

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    Great start! I am glad you had some help in planning...and eventually found the DIS! I am sure now you know way more of what to expect...expect the unexpected.

    I loved that you basically 'threw a dart' at a dart board to pick your resort! Sometimes, I think it would be great to go without any plan...land where you land...go where you want!
     
  11. ktjoswanson

    ktjoswanson Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    I would've been thrilled if one person said they wanted to hear my story. Thanks to every single one of you for replying!

    I could add lots (& lots & lots) of pictures if I could figure out how to post them in the gallery? I know how to post the link here within the thread. I just don't see an option when I go into the gallery to post. Can someone help the pathetic newbie?

    Katie
     
  12. OhMari

    OhMari WDW PreTrip and Trip Moderator Moderator

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    I don't get the picture thing either. You need to load them onto your computer frst and then load them up on the DIS. You have to sign in with your DIS name and the same pass word. Set it up so it goes to "your favorites"
    Enjoying your TR, where in the midwest are you from?
     
  13. sharkB8HooHaHa

    sharkB8HooHaHa DIS Veteran

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    Katie,
    What a great start! And I LOVE a TR from a first-timer. We were there last month,too, but I think earlier in the month than you were. It was COLD (at least by my South Carolina standards...:) )

    Your cliff-hanger has me worried. Your daughter's friend's mother never told you BBB was in DTD??? That's just not right!

    Can't wait for more.
     
  14. KimAshton

    KimAshton DIS Veteran

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    Love this. :)
     
  15. sham101505

    sham101505 Mouseketeer

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    What a wonderful TR! Tell your DS that I am 32 and still love Winnie the Pooh ride. I might just be me but I love all the "kiddie" rides at MK.
     
  16. ktjoswanson

    ktjoswanson Earning My Ears

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    We are not far from you, OhMari. We are in Wisconsin, too. South Milwaukee, to be exact. Both DH and I were raised here and now we're raising our kids here, too. I am a UW-Madison alum, so I know approximately where Lomira is.

    I frequent scrapbooking message boards a lot and have done tons of image posting there. I'm familiar with galleries and uploading. But when I go into the DIS gallery, I don't see the option to upload images. Really this is not off-topic as it pertains to me adding photos to this TR.

    Katie
     
  17. jimmiej

    jimmiej I invented the Naked Segway Tour

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    I'm subscribing so I can read the rest. :thumbsup2

    :rotfl2:

    ETA: I've been to WDW many times now, but I still get that same feeling you had when I see the castle.
     
  18. mt mommy

    mt mommy Mouseketeer

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    love hearing about the first timers!! I'm subscribing!
     
  19. bransworld

    bransworld Mouseketeer

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    Great report. I love hearing about a newbie's trip.
     
  20. winkers

    winkers <font color=blue>I was stuck in that position and

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    Great report! I'm taking my 4 kids for their first trip in May, so it's great to here from a "newbie" like myself!
     
  21. ktjoswanson

    ktjoswanson Earning My Ears

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    Chapter 3: Our First Full Day

    We arrived at MK the next day before the gates open and I have my game plan to grab the first CM I see and find out where the BBB is so that we will be on time for our 10:30 appointment. I figure we can even do a few rides before then.

    [​IMG]

    I should have known it was a bad sign when the CM I asked said he didn’t know where it was. Why should he? It’s not even at MK! It’s at DTD. I didn’t learn that until I went into City Hall, though. (This is what I get for spending only minimal time on the Disboards before going.)

    I did not freak out. (Very unlike me – I’m a frequent freaker.) But my heart was breaking for my DD. I figured she would probably miss her BBB appointment by the time we took a bus from MK back to a hotel to catch a bus to DTD. And even if she didn’t, she’d certainly never make it back to MK for lunch with Cinderella.

    I considered skipping the BBB appointment and just staying in MK so the castle lunch would be a sure thing.

    Can you all say magic?

    My stepmother is a pistol. My own mom would’ve said forget it. Let’s just enjoy a leisurely morning at MK and skip the boutique. But my stepmom owns a salon and she really wanted to see BBB. Besides, I’d shown DD the photos of her friend in BBB and she was looking forward to getting pampered and both my stepmom and I knew it. (I know – my fault. I should’ve kept it as a surprise so just such circumstances would not leave DD disappointed. But I never foresaw this!)

    As my stepmom is goading me into trying to do it all, it occurs to me that DD’s friend’s mom did tell me the boutique was in DTD. It all seemed familiar now. I had let that fact slip from my mind at some point.

    So stepmom and I are running back to the buses and cheering on DD to move quickly. She wasn’t crying. It was early in the day and early on in our trip. She just didn’t want to hustle quite that much. But she was a trooper.

    My head is spinning. I’m jogging to the buses but not really looking at them. Suddenly my stepmom is squealing, “Downtown Disney!” I’m thinking, yes – we all know that’s where we’re supposed to be. “That bus says Downtown Disney!!!”

    I looked up and focused on our targets. I’ll be danged if it didn’t! For some odd reason we were looking at a bus going straight from MK to DTD.

    If not for my stepmom’s spirit and this stroke of luck, all would’ve been lost.

    The driver did have to stop at two hotels, but not the Caribbean which was good because that involves a lap around the whole resort to catch all the buildings. They were two really quick stops and we arrived at DTD with time to spare. (I even got a few minutes to browse in the scrapbook store!) The bus driver informed us that it was an unusual thing for a bus to go direct from MK to DTD. It just happened to be something he was doing right then.

    Magic.

    This photo is my stepmom and DD:

    [​IMG]

    So we have a blast at BBB and I’m trying to just enjoy it. I don’t want to fret away a precious moment of it worrying about lunch at the castle. Her 10:30 appointment is done by 10:55 and DD does the obligatory pose out front by Princess Aurora and…

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    (Love expression on DD's face in this one.)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We’re off!

    Jogging back to the buses my poor stepmom is really pushing it now. But she’ll be darned if we’re going to miss it. We’re hoping to come right up on a bus to the Contemporary.

    Guess what it says on the bus we can see sitting there.

    MK

    We get on. We explain what’s going on to the very sympathetic bus driver. He tells us that he will go to the Contemporary. He drops off the only other 2 passengers at some stop first. I can’t remember which. It’s all a blur now. No one else gets on. No one else gets on. No one else gets on.

    We come up on the Contemporary.

    He drives by.

    “I’m going to take you straight to the MK.”

    Not only did he do that, but as he pulled up, he got on the overhead speaker (remember - it's only us 3 on the bus at this point!) and announces, "Sophie, you're here at Magic Kingdom for your lunch with Cinderella."

    Too bad Sophie dozed off and didn't even hear it. My stepmom and I loved it, though!

    As we de-bussed, I could’ve just cried in gratitude. I took down his name and bus number to write a letter about him later. We took a picture with him. We got off the bus and had time to spare to make it to the castle for lunch at 12:10! We even stopped first to buy some princess underwear for DD and to change her out of her Belle dress because it was too scratchy and it was driving her nuts. I kind of wanted her to wear to lunch with Cinderella, but I wasn’t going to make her be uncomfortable just for the pictures I wanted to take.

    Us with the bus driver that I love:
    [​IMG]

    We had a great lunch at the castle. About halfway through, the waiter came out to our table and apologized because my pasta dish did not have the vegetables it was supposed to have. He asked if I wanted a new dish with the veggies in it. I’d eaten half and was getting full. So I told him no, I’d gotten my veggies in the BLT salad appetizer. He came back a few minutes later with a box and said the chef felt bad and so this was a gift to me.

    Two “Cinderella’s Royal Table” champagne flutes.

    I don’t drink, but I love sparkling grape juice. I never have anything nice to drink it out of. For the rest of my life I will feel like a princess drinking my sparkling grape juice from my flutes.

    [​IMG]

    With the day’s princess events over it was almost time to meet up with DH and DS. But we had time to catch Mickey’s Philharmagic first. I had read that this was a great movie but I had no idea how fantastic it was! We both loved it. I wished we’d waited for DH and DS because I knew they’d love it.

    The guys weren’t at our prescribed meeting place which was fine because we had two times set up. I didn’t want DD to miss Splash Mountain so we headed over there. It said 50 minute wait, but we had PP FP, so I decided to just get in line.

    The line moved along for a little bit. And then we sat in one spot for 40 minutes. We nearly had a riot on our hands. None of us thought we’d get on that ride for another hour! But we did actually end up climbing into a boat 47 minutes after we’d gotten in line. It’s funny how those lines work sometimes. I’ll tell you the problem I have with this is that no CM came back to tell us all we could still expect to be on the ride within the posted time. If one of them would have done that, I would have been fine sitting and waiting because I would have known that even though I was not moving at all, my investment of my time would be the same as I anticipated it would be when I read the sign and decided to get in line. When you don’t move for 40 minutes, you get really mad about the lack of truth in their advertising. So it wasn’t the wait that annoyed me as much as the lack of communication!!!

    Mini-rant over.

    After that we managed to meet up with DH and DS. They’d spent the day repeatedly riding Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain. They never even tried the Indy Speedway! I couldn’t believe it. But DH is like that. If I don’t cook it, he doesn’t like it. If I don’t wash it, it’s not clean. If I didn’t introduce him to the ride on the previous evening, he won’t try it for the first time without me. It just seemed like a boy thing to do so I left it to them to do alone on Friday while DD and I princessed. No clue why it didn’t appeal to them.

    So we get on Stitch.

    There’s your proof that I spent only minimal time on this board before I went.

    I was so disappointed. DD and I are big Stitch fans and DH and DS think he’s pretty okay.

    Nuff said.

    I told DH and DS they had to see Mickey’s Philharmagic. So we split up so DD and I could use our PP FP. We were a little early. So we got on It’s a Small World. I think DD liked it. She was getting a little overwhelmed and tired at this point. I mean, magic was everywhere and she was starting to take it for granted. Not in a sassy way. Just in a way that caused her to be very even keel instead of getting wowed around every corner.

    Did Peter Pan, loved it, conjured up more memories of doing it with my grandparents when I was a kid.

    On the way out, I knew we would probably not be back to MK on this trip. I really wanted to buy something there – regardless of whether or not it was an item that was also for sale at my hotel gift shop. I couldn’t decide what. I saw the watch shop and knew I needed a Mickey watch. Not an expensive one. I would never wear it because I would be afraid that it would break. So I went in and almost bought a Minnie one. Then I decided it’s really all about the Mickey. So I grabbed him instead.

    On the way out all the arrivals were showing up for the Princess and Pirate party. I had a few pangs of regret for not buying tickets ahead of time. Then I took a moment and observed my family as we were trudging toward the bus stop. We’d had it for the day – but we weren’t fighting yet. That meant it was actually the perfect time to stop. I felt better about my decision to skip it.

    We caught a bus and I called my mom back home in Wisconsin to let her know about our day. At the end I told her about my watch. She said she wanted a Minnie one! D’OH!!! So I hit the hotel gift shop and found one exactly like mine. Perfect. I knew she would love that we had matching Mickey/Minnie watches.

    So the next day would be MGM. I was so excited about it! And I couldn’t wait for the kids to do RRR and TOT. I knew MGM would be DS’s favorite and so I was so excited for him to wake up the next day ready for Star Wars and all the other cool boy stuff at that park. However, we decided to finish the night off swimming with my brother. That may have been what did in DS…
     

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