Our Magical Grand Gathering - Jan 21-28 2013

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by NHKristy76, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. NHKristy76

    NHKristy76 Senior Mousketeer

    Jan 18, 2009
    Hi everyone! We are just back from our eagerly anticipated trip to Walt Disney World with at least 10 but sometimes as many as 13 people. We had an absolutely magical time and I can't wait to relive our memories by sharing them with you!

    The Introduction...

    The Cast:
    Me - Kristy, 36, an extreme Disney addict (this was my 18th trip!)
    DH - Eric, 37, enjoys our vacations to Disney World but wouldn't really
    seek one out on his own. KWIM? Although I've never really given him
    the time to come up with one on his own now that I think about it...

    DD - Allison, 10, this was her 8th trip to WDW, and she loves our
    trips. She conquered her fear of The Tower of Terror on this trip!

    The Fab Four My sister, Candice, her husband Jonathan, and their sons Jack (7) and Nicolas (6) This trip is the first ever for the boys, in fact, they had never even been on vacation before. This entire adventure was about sharing the magic with them as they saw everything for the first time.
    Here is the video of the boys finding out that they were FINALLY going to Walt Disney World! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvWlsLUhrNM

    My dad and stepmother Sandi They had been to Disney a couple times together but they were mostly focused on golf.

    Jennifer, my step sister This was Jen's first on property stay. She had been to DTD and MK/Epcot when she was a kid but only on day trips so this was exciting for her!

    We were also joined by my brother in law's parents, Paul and Jeanne, and his brother Will for a few days as well.


    We booked our trips through Dreams Unlimited and worked with Kathy. I don't plan to use their service again as I found no value in it. I suppose if you have never been to WDW it might have been helpful but I was actually quite annoyed dealing with the agent.

    We stayed at All Star Movies and had four rooms all in a row. My room connected to Jen's room and my parents' room adjoined with The Fab Four's room.

    The rooms were clean and in good shape. Although we prefer the more deluxe hotels, we all wanted to stay in the same place and my sister couldn't swing anything more than a value resort. The sleeping situation was rough - a double bed? Eek. By the middle of the trip my husband said that he would only stay value again if there were queen beds AND good toilet paper. I hadn't noticed it before but I'm fairly certain that the toilet paper used at values is closer to sandpaper than actual toilet paper. :crazy2:

    We ate several meals, most of them breakfasts but a lunch once or twice, at the food court and had no complaints. The food was pretty good and the service was quick and friendly. We had no issues if we hit the food court early in the morning (7-8) but the one day we slept in and arrived there around 9am it was packed! We still managed quite well though - just ate our breakfast at the tables outside. It was quite nice.

    I'll share our daily experiences in the next post...
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  3. NHKristy76

    NHKristy76 Senior Mousketeer

    Jan 18, 2009
  4. NHKristy76

    NHKristy76 Senior Mousketeer

    Jan 18, 2009
    We flew on a nonstop Southwest flight out of Manchester. I know Southwest has a reputation of being the "cheap" airline, and it certainly is the least inexpensive option in our area, but there level of service always amazes me. During our flight my dad asked the flight attendant if they had an "first flight" wings for my nephews. She looked and came back apologizing but offered something even more memorable! She asked Jack and Nick if they would help her deliver snack to the ENTIRE plane! The boys were beaming and absolutely loved their special job!

    Our flight was due to arrive in Orlando at about 11:40am and we actually rolled into the gate a few minute early. We were off and running towards Magical Express. I'm not sure exactly how long it took us to get on a bus but it moved pretty quickly. We stopped at All Start Sports, All Star Music, and then finally All Star Movies a little after 1pm.

    I had no expectation that our rooms would be ready, especially given that we requested 4 rooms near each other, but we were pleasantly surprised! Our rooms were ready! :cool1: We made our way to our rooms in the 101 Dalmatians section (4922, 4923, 4924, and 4925) and dropped off our stuff. The room had a "view" of some trees but nothing spectacular - but we definitely didn't stand around looking at the view either! We had places to be and new friends to meet!

    We headed to Epcot and were there a few minutes before 2pm. We slowly made our way over to the Imagination! pavilion where we rode Journey Into Your Imagination and then played in the Imageworks lab for what seemed like FOREVER! Afterwards we walked over to Captain EO because, well, it was here and we had some time to kill before our 4pm reservation at Garden Grill. I am so NOT a Michael Jackson fan but I endured this for the sake of my party... After the show, which got mixed reviews from our group, the kids chased the jumping water for a bit and then we made our way to The Land.

    At The Land we hopped right on Living with the Land and enjoyed the little boat ride. When it wrapped up, we walked over to Garden Grill and checked in. Once the restaurant opened, we were seated right away. My DH, DD, and I had eaten here years before but didn't really have a memorable experience so we hadn't been back. This meal was quite different! The food was AMAZING, the service was great, and the character interaction was fantastic! We were all ravenous after not eating since breakfast (other than the kids having a granola bar) and this food did not disappoint. It was a great first meal at Walt Disney World!

    After dinner we made our way over to Universe of Energy. For some reason my dad had great memories of our very first time on this ride so he'd been talking about it non stop. As we approached the ride, I remembered how long it was and said, "Hey guys. We should really hit a bathroom before going inside..." Everyone agreed and then I realized the closest bathroom was all the way back where we had just come from. Oops! (I'm a good tour guide, I swear!)

    Once our bathrooming was done, we went in and really enjoyed the experience. In fact, throughout the trip my nephews said that "Ellen's Dream" was one of their favorite rides. :)

    At that point, many of us were exhausted. My daughter, The Fab Four, and I all decided to head back to the hotel for a quick swim and then hit the hay. My DH, Jen, and my parents decided to wander around Epcot some more.

    By the time we got back to the resort and got bathing suits on, the adults were wondering why we ever agreed to swimming. We were wiped out! So we kept the swim time short and then headed in to hit the hay. My husband was back in our room by the time my daughter was done showering and we all called it a night.

    Tomorrow is our first day at the Magic Kingdom and boy were we all excited! :wizard:
  5. NHKristy76

    NHKristy76 Senior Mousketeer

    Jan 18, 2009
    We were up and at the bus stop by about 8:15am and arrived at the Magic Kingdom right before rope drop. We saw part of the show but we spent most of the time trying to navigate the new entrance procedure. The lines were a big confusing mess and finally I saw a CM carrying a giant Key To The World card on a stick. I asked her if AP holders could go in the line and she said yes. So we all piled in and waited awhile to get through.

    Our plan, all along, was to go directly to new Fantasyland to see Enchanted Tales with Belle. But as we waited in line Jack started begging to go right to Space Mountain. (Those darn Disney videos gave him a taste of what to expect and, in the process, ruins my well thought out plans!) My sister and her husband decide to let Jack decide and everyone was staring at me. I explained that I had been here enough times that I wasn't worried about getting to see something but that I had planned things a certain way to ensure they got to see everything they wanted to see. The plan for the day was Fantasyland. I explained that if they wanted to go to Space Mountain right away, we could do that but that I didn't want to hear ANYONE complain later that we missed out on something in Fantasyland. The decision was made to head to Space Mountain so off we went...

    I made a quick detour into City Hall (is that what it's called?) to pick up our PhotoPass Plus. Then I walked up Main Street, took the short cut by Tomorrowland Terrace, and beat them all into Tomorrowland.

    Candice, Jon, Jack, and my stepmother headed off to Space Mountain. My DH, my dad, Jen, Allison, Nicolas, and I went on the People Mover and then Buzz Lightyear. We also looked around in the shops and my dad bought the kids some cotton candy to enjoy while we waited. The wait for Space Mountain was 40 minutes (yes, 40 minutes right after rope drop in late January!) so we waited a long time for them to emerge... Just before they popped out, I got pooped on by a bird. A big 'ol splat of bird poop on my brand new red shirt - the shirt that matched everyone else in our group so we could wear it for our pictures. Our pictures that had not yet been taken! I was SO upset. We used napkins and baby wipes and it made it slightly better but... Ugh!

    We continued on and did everything in Tomorrowland, with the exception of the Speedway, and then headed for lunch at Caseys. Normally I love Casey's but this was one of the worst meals we had during our whole week. My hot dog was mostly cold and a couple of others complained about the temp of their dogs too. two people in our group ordered nachos which came out with sprinkle cheese UNMELTED. How in the world are you supposed to eat nachos with unmelted sprinkle cheese? I wanted people to go back in and either get them melted, get different cheese, or request something else. Unfortunately my step mother likes to complain and pout but didn't really want to do anything about it. So I just ate my cold hot dog and watched them throw away their nachos.

    We made our way over to Adventureland and grabbed fast passes for the Jungle Cruise. The kids rode the Magic Carpets and wandered around a bit and then it was time for our cruise. The CM was pretty good and we enjoyed it although it was hard to explain to my nephews why they were fake animals when they were real on the planning DVD (AK).

    We headed out after that and made our way to the boat to Fort Wilderness. We had a 4pm reservation for the Hoop Dee Doo and wanted to spend some time over at the Fort beforehand. We arrived at the dock just before 3pm and made good use of our spare time by playing tether-ball, shopping in the Trading Post, rocking in the chairs, and watching the kids play on the playground.

    I have seen the Hoop Dee Doo before but my stepmother, Jen, Jon, and the boys had never seen it. We were in for a special treat. Although we only paid for Category 2 seating, we were right up front. My dad ended up being the guy "picked on" by the blond character and my nephew Jack was the "hero" in the audience participation number. The food was tasty as always and we had a FABULOUS night!

    We had originally planned to go back to the MK after the show but ended up taking a boat over to the Wilderness Lodge instead. We LOVE this place and it was fun to walk around, sit by the fire, and shop even though we couldn't stay this time. All told I think we were there for about 2 hours before we decided to head back to the hotel. It was FREEZING outside so we decided to take a bus to MK and then a bus back to our hotel. It was an early night with everyone in bed by 9:30 but we needed it!

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