A Supposedly Fun Thing...August, 2013 (update 11/10)

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by DrMomof3, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    The title of this trip report comes from a collection of essays written by the very talented late writer, David Foster Wallace. He is best-known for his book Infinite Jest which is as well-known for its length and complexity as its genius (I haven't read it). The collection of essays (which I have read) is named A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. The title essay is about his experience on a cruise ship and, as someone who isn't 100% sure I'm sold on cruising, made me laugh out loud. In the case of my trip report, the "supposedly fun thing" in question refers to our experiences on the Auto Train. But more on that later.... ;)

    Let me first introduce the Cast of Characters on this trip. There were 7 of us and we left our home in the suburbs of New York City early on Saturday, August 24th. We had t-shirts made - one with each of the 7 dwarves - and tried to match personality with the dwarf.

    Doc - That's me. Amanda. I just turned 42 years old and I am, in fact, a practicing physician. I'm a huge Disney fan and a dedicated runner (and runDisney fan). I am chief trip planner and organizer.

    Sleepy - My husband, Tom. He likes his naps. :love: He's a 44 year old physician who likes to pretend that I'm the Disney fan in the family but we all know the truth.... ::yes::

    Dopey - Nathaniel, age 9. He's not Dopey at all but decided that he wanted that dwarf. He's an aspiring black belt in tae kwon do and a gifted artist and musician. He can be a tortured artist at times and is probably the biggest "unknown factor" in any family occasion.

    Sneezy - Jessica, age 7. She has the worst seasonal allergies of anyone I know so this seemed appropriate for her. :lmao: Unless Jessica is overtired, she's an easy-going child who is fun to take anywhere. She does everything - flute, ballet, soccer, lacrosse, tae kwon do, basketball, softball, Brownies, hip hop, etc.

    Happy - Zachary, age 5. Zachary is generally a happy child. He wakes up (early!) with a big smile on his face. He's a huge Disney fan and always wants to know when we are returning. He has mild Cerebral Palsy which affects his motor skills. He walks and runs and jumps but tires quickly. We have used stroller = wheelchair to help him enjoy Disney.

    Grumpy - Popsie, my step-dad. Steve (or Popsie to the kids) joined us on this trip. He's been struggling a bit since we lost my mom suddenly over Christmas and my siblings and I have been getting him to travel to help him. He's a very pleasant travel companion, most of the time. :thumbsup2

    Bashful - Karin, our nanny. She isn't really shy at all but we were down to our last dwarf. Karin is our wonderful Brazilian nanny who had never been to Disney. She's super hard working and very good with the kids.

    Amanda
     
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  3. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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  4. blessedmom4

    blessedmom4 WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! ~~Nearly twice as many chi

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    I am HERE!!! Cute pics, I want a Mickey bar. :goodvibes I can't wait to read more about the trip and the autotrain.

     
  5. lindap1

    lindap1 DIS Veteran

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    Joining! Did you like the Auto train?
     
  6. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    Oh, Yeah! I'm in!!!

    :woohoo:
     
  7. klacey1

    klacey1 DIS Veteran

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    Hey Amanda!! I'm here-- can't wait to hear about your trip. Zach has mentioned wanting to take a train trip, so I'm interested in how it went for you guys! ;)
     
  8. cogero

    cogero DIS Veteran

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    I Sam here. I just realized you and your DH are the same ages as dh and I.
     
  9. ddluvsdisney

    ddluvsdisney DIS Veteran

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    Can't wait to hear all about it!!
     
  10. Queenofallthings

    Queenofallthings DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like a fun time....I'm in!:goodvibes
     
  11. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    Thank you!

    It was an experience....

    Yay!!!

    Hmmm. It depends on WHY you want to take the train...

    Too cool!

    Thanks!

    Welcome!

    Amanda
     
  12. klacey1

    klacey1 DIS Veteran

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    Haha, we're thinking we might take the Acela from penn to dc...not Virginia to FL!
     
  13. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    Our trip started bright and early on a Saturday morning. My step-dad showed up nice and early and we got the car all loaded up. Karin was also on time. We thought we needed to get on the road by 7am. We made a not-so-quick stop at our local bagel store to grab breakfast and actually hit the road by 7:30am. The plan was to buy gas in New Jersey where prices are much cheaper and everything is full-service by law.
    We hit the Jersey Turnpike and already needed a bathroom stop. Between the slight delay at the bagel store and an early stop, we weren't moving as fast as we would have liked. Tom and I took turns driving down which was a good thing. There were 2 major accidents on the Turnpike and driving was frustrating at times.
    The road between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. was super slow with stop and go traffic. Which, of course, makes Zachary car sick so there was the vomiting episode in there. We finally reached Lorton, VA around 12:30 or 1pm. We stopped at a strip-mall for some lunch (we ordered a pizza). I was exceeding nervous about being late for the train and getting stuck with a 9pm dinner seating. This did not make me feel super patient with my family's shenanigans and might have been my lowest point of the trip (my husband just reminded me of my super high stress levels at the pizza place....). :smokin:
    We finished our pizza and drove the 2 minutes over to the auto train station. We dropped off the car, took our carry-on bags, and went to check in. It took about 6 hours to get from NY to Lorton, VA....
    We were lucky enough to get the last 7 seats at the 7pm dinner seating (there were really only 6 seats left but they created a 7th spot for us) and found some seats to wait to board. One advantage of being relatively late to the train station is that our wait wasn't too terribly long. Boarding started around 2:30pm.

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    Amanda
     
  14. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    That's a nice train ride. I've also taken the Acela to Boston. Very civilized.

    Amanda
     
  15. klacey1

    klacey1 DIS Veteran

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    I've taken the Acela from Penn to Boston & Prov and agree it's very nice. Comfortable seats!

    I can definitely imagine getting stressed out at the pizza place! I'm glad you got the dinner seating you wanted-- 9 pm sounds way too late for kids as young as yours!
     
  16. blessedmom4

    blessedmom4 WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! ~~Nearly twice as many chi

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    Sounds stressful getting to the autotrain; however, at least you were smiling in the photo. :goodvibes
     
  17. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    As I was writing about the trip down to the autotrain, my husband reminded me of my melt-down at the pizza place! :lmao: I guess it was pretty epic.... One of my only melt-downs for the whole trip!

    I think we just weren't completely prepared for how long it would take to get there. I had been told to leave the night before and stay at a hotel near the train or to leave really early but we just didn't think it would be necessary. :confused3 I was totally fine once we were checked in at the train station. :thumbsup2

    Amanda
     
  18. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Following along! :)
     
  19. blessedmom4

    blessedmom4 WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! ~~Nearly twice as many chi

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    That is good to hear! :thumbsup2



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  20. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    Welcome!!!

    Thank you! :lovestruc

    Amanda
     
  21. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    The auto train is divided into 2 parts: Coach and Sleeper Cars. Most people just sleep in a seat in Coach (the seats partially recline similar to Business Class). I knew that if we slept in Coach it would be a disaster and nobody would sleep at all. There are various types of sleeper compartments and we chose to get 2 family sleep rooms, each of which sleeps 4 people. There are a few "shared" bathrooms down the hall, including a shower. Each Sleeper Car only contains ONE family room so we were not sleeping in the same car of the train. For both the trip down and back, our sleeper cars were separated by the Lounge Car (containing booths like at a diner and selling drinks and snacks) and the Dining Car. It wasn't a huge deal to go between the rooms but it did mean that we weren't all together for most of the trip.
    The family sleeper room was MUCH smaller than I expected. I was thinking it would be the size of a cabin on a cruise ship and it was not.
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    Similar to a cruise ship, we had a room attendant who turned our seats into beds while we were eating dinner. We hung out in the room for a while before checking out the Lounge Car and the boys' room (Zachary slept in the girls room because he's a huge mommy's boy). The man who was in the Lounge Car on the trip down was incredibly friendly and nice. He's a grandpa and loves children. He spent a lot of time exchanging jokes with the kids and was truly a highlight of the trip down. At 7pm we headed to the dining car for dinner.
    There was no children's menu per se but plenty of kid-friendly options (chicken tenders, pasta, etc.). As was a theme on the trip, my children wanted grown-up food and ordered the filet mignon. The food was surprisingly good. We had heard that the wine served on the train wasn't fabulous (it was free) and we had brought our own bottles which were delicious!

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    Karin and Zachary at dinner
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    Tom and Popsie
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    White tablecloths and fresh flowers!
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    Sunset from the train window.

    The kids were literally falling asleep at the table so we headed off to bed. Karin and Jessica slept on the 2 top bunks (the adult bunk went the long way across the room - the width of the train - and the child bunk went the short way across the room). Zachary chose to share the bottom adult bunk with me. This bed was slightly wider than a twin so it was fine. The train was very bumpy and I got super claustrophobic during the night and spent some time reading a book in the Lounge Car.
    In the morning we woke up early (except Karin who was still sleeping) and I took the kids upstairs for a continental breakfast. When Karin got up, we hung out in the Lounge Car so the attendant could make our room back into a sitting room. Pretty soon after that we were in Sanford, FL.

    Amanda
     

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