The Cast: Me - Geoff_M, age 36, 7th trip Mrs. M - Diane, age 35, 4th trip Daughter - Kristina, age 9, 2nd trip Son #1 - Charles, age before 6, age after 7, 2nd trip Son #2 - Steven, age 19 months, 2nd trip Cameos by: My Sister - Sally, age 28 Her Boyfriend - Tom, age ?? Duration: 6 days (1/1/01 to 1/6/01) Stayed On-Site at Wilderness Lodge 01/06/2001 - Charles' Special Day / Goin' Home When we told the kids in September that we were returning to Disney the first week of January Charles made the immediate connection that we could celebrate his Birthday there. We asked him what special thing he'd like to do on our last day there. He said he'd like to celebrate his birthday by eating breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle. So we set up PS reservations to grant him his wish. But before breakfast we took advantage of Early Entry at MK. On the way in we stopped by City Hall and picked up a birthday button for Charles. We only had about an hour before breakfast, so we split up. Diane took Steven and went to Fantasyland and Kristina, Charles, and I went to Tomorrowland. We agreed to rendezvous at the castle at 9:00. Diane and Steven rode Dumbo, Pooh, and Small World one last time. The older two kids and I took in Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear and before we headed to the castle. On the way into Space Mountain Charles noticed the sign stating "riders under 7 must be accompanied by an adult". Since he was now seven he wanted to ride alone. So when we got to the boarding area Charles said he was a party of one. The CM assigned him to different car than Kristina and me. As Charles entered the car the CMs noticed his birthday button and clapped for him. Charles beamed. He was now a "big kid". We exited and walked to the castle. We still had a little time to kill so we went next door and walked on Snow White's Scary Adventure. We all linked back up at Cindy's right on time and checked in. In about 10 minutes we were called upstairs and seated. The breakfast at Cindy's is one of our favorites. The cream cheese stuffed French toast is outstanding. Our hostess gave Charles a "Magical Moment" certificate for celebrating his birthday at MK. All of the characters signed the certificate in addition to his autograph book. In attendance were Cinderella (or course), Snow White, Jasmine, Aladdin, and the Mad Hatter. The highlight for Charles was when Cinderella kissed him on his cheek for his birthday. We have a picture of him pointing to the lipstick on his cheek afterwards. After breakfast we shopped for a while and then decided to ride a few more attractions before needing to head back to WL and check out. We went to Adventureland and hopped on Jungle Cruise. Steven LOVED it. His jaw dropped when he saw a number of the "animals". He would then point and let out a long string of babbling jibberish with great zeal. One of Diane's "must see" attractions at MK was The Hall of Presidents. We tried a couple of times to catch it earlier, but couldn't time it right. We marched right to HoP after Jungle Cruise and JUST missed the start of the show. I was bummed out, but Diane suggested we pop next door and get a snack during the 30 minutes wait before the next show. I got some carmel corn, and the others ate brownie ice cream sundaes. Having downed the snack we moved back next door and got our Presidential fix. Time was starting to wind down. One part of MK that we hadn't really visited yet was Toon Town. We did make a brief visit there earlier in the week, but it was too busy for what little there is to do there. Kristina lobbied heavily to go see Minnie's House. We said, "OK" and off we went. Toon Town was packed again. We thought it would be best to split up. Diane took Steven and went shopping in the fair tent. I took Kristina and Charles to Minnie's House. It was wall-to-wall people. We slowly wormed our way through the house. After the kids got to play in the kitchen for a little we squirted out the back. Charles then lobbied for equal time and asked to go to Mickey's House. So off we went. After we left Mickey's House we linked back up with Diane and Steven at the store. It was time to head back to WL. We opted to take the train back to the front of the park instead of walking. As we boarded the train we heard a couple that had just disembarked tell a CM that their stroller fell off the train between Frontierland and Toon Town. There's one you don't hear often. After we got off at Main Street we saw the Mayor talking to guests in the street. The kids wanted to say "hi" so we paid him a visit. He asked us if we were having a good time. Charles made a point of showing him his birthday button. The Mayor then sang a rather impressive rendition of "Happy Birthday". We said goodbye to MK and took the boat back to WL. We completed about 80% of our packing before we left in the morning so it didn't take long to get our stuff loaded into the car. Our flight back to Indy wasn't due to leave, assuming the Delta pilots decided to show up this time, until 9:20 PM that evening. We ate lunch at the snack bar at WL and decided to go to Epcot. We'd leave the park right after the 6:30 PM ToN parade. We asked Charles and Kristina what they wanted to do before we left Epcot. Of course they said "Ride Test Track!" Diane wanted to check out Mouse Gear one more time so Charles, Kristina and I headed for the singles line. We were in and out in no time. There were still a couple of countries we hadn't visited in World Showcase, so off we went. We decided Steven needed another boat ride, so we went to Mexico. He got upset when they launched an empty boat in front of us as we entered the boarding area. Many people complain that the El Rio del Tempo is boring... not by Steven's standards. His rule of thumb seemed to be "If it floats, I love it!" Time was starting to get run out on our Disney vacation. We opted to skip past Norway and China since we visited them last time and headed for new territory. We spent some time walking through the shops of Germany and Italy and watched some street theater. Next to Germany we noticed something we probably had walked by several times and never paid any attention to. It was the outside model railway and village next to the restroom. It was a very pleasant surprise. I don't know how we missed it before. All three of our kids like model trains, so we spent some time watching the trains go around the layout and through the tunnels. It was getting dark and it was time to find a spot for ToN, our WDW swan song. We went to the entrance/exit by Morocco and took up position. Shortly before the parade started the kids started to interact with one of the Moroccan CMs. Rachinda directed pedestrian traffic before ToN with her orange flashlight in front of us. She took a liking Steven. We were a little disappointed by Steven's somewhat muted reaction to ToN when we saw it earlier in the week. We found out how to warm him up... We took him out of the stroller. Once the parade started he really got into it. He was still a little apprehensive about the puppets when they shook Kristina and Charles' hands, but other than that he loved it. Rachinda got a kick out of Steven's dancing and clapping. She took a short break from directing traffic, came over to us, and danced with Steven. Charles and Kristina joined in. Rachinda give Steven her flashlight to wave at the parade for a time. As the parade was about to end Rachinda asked if it was OK to take the kids a few feet down the route. We said "Sure." So they all walked down to where the Sage of Time was about to stop and address the crowd and bring the parade to an end. Afterwards she talked to us and told the kids how much she liked their dancing. We needed to start heading to the airport, but didn't want to pass up her kindness. She took us into the gift shop outside Morocco and pulled out "Magical Moment" certificates for the kids. She filled them in and also wrote each of our kids' names in Arabic. We all thanked her and said "Good-bye". It was a great way to end the trip. It was a true "Disney Moment". We started walking back to the car. We only stopped one time. It was for a Beavertail outside of Canada. They, and the sweet pretzels in Norway, were one of our favorite WDW snacks. We read before we left that the Beavertail stand at Epcot had been closed temporarily. We were glad to see that it was open for business. After we snarfed the snack, we reached the car in no time and headed to the airport. The scene that greeted us at the Orlando airport was the antithesis of the scene that greeted us in Indianapolis at the start of this whole adventure. The front page of the Orlando Sentinel had been clear of Delta horror stories for about three days and it looked like things were back to normal. Other than one person waiting at the counter, the place was empty. I asked the Delta agent if his life was a little calmer now. He said "Oh, yeah!" He said between his house catching fire right after Thankgiving, the weather delays, and the pilots not showing up for overtime, his life was just starting to get back to normal. We had a quick supper at the airport Burger King and headed for the gate. Our plane was right on time and the flight was perfectly uneventful. We actually got to sit together for the first time in our lives! It was a two and half hour flight and all three kids were asleep about 45 minutes into the trip and slept the rest of the way back. 01/07/2001 - Back Home Again In Indiana We landed on time and collected our luggage around midnight. All three kids were understandably bushed. We caught the shuttle back to the car park and finally reached our Indy hotel around 1 AM. We all were asleep in no time. For once there was no wake up call. We slept in to until around 10 AM, got up, ate brunch at the hotel, swam in the pool for a bit, and drove back home to Michigan. So when's the next trip for Clan M? We feel it probably won't be until Steven turns 5 or 6... but that assumes that we can stay away from the zoo until then!