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 didnt 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 trips 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. Its 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 Disneying 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 daughters friends 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 Cinderellas 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 didnt 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 Id mentioned years earlier that I was going to do this one day) to go, too. She said shed 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 hadnt arrived yet.) The youngest of my half siblings would be going also. Now I have this Cinderella meal booked for only 2. I dont 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 didnt want her to feel excluded and I figured this was a good way to include her. Next, I get an e-mail from DDs friends 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? Id 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 werent 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 werent there for the food. We were there for the shows and rides. Wed be happy with quick CS to get in as much of those as we could.