She's free before she's three, touring the world with a toddler (COMPLETE 12/4)

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by GrandCalifornian, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    Hi everybody, here is our trip report from our September 8-17 2012 trip to WDW. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and had a ball. We hope you will enjoy following along as we recap the fun we had, the things we did, the treats we ate, and post lots of pictures. We were able to do lots of neat stuff this trip after learning about it in trip reports, so now that we're home we decided to share our experiences with everyone. We both will be contributing to this, and posting with the same username. Paul will post in Blue, and Melissa in Orange, so you can follow our different perspectives on the trip in one report. So, let's give this a try and get started!

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    I'm Paul, a 32 year old Mechanical Engineer who's favorite character is Mater and favorite WDW park is Epcot. I first visited WDW with my parents when I was 5 and we took a cross country motorhome trip to stay in Fort Wilderness. I grew up in Southern California and loved Disneyland, but really got into it when I bought Annual Passes for my then girlfriend Melissa when we had been dating a bout a year. It made a great date spot, and we even got a discount on food! It was probably one of my smarter gift ideas ever. Since then, we have had passes almost every year, we bought a paving stone at the entrance to Disneyland, and that is where I proposed. By some crazy coincidence, two years later (to the day!) we got married at the Grand Californian Hotel. (Hence the username, we're not really that egotistical). We followed up our wedding with a honeymoon to WDW, and stayed in the Wilderness Lodge. We had the best trip and couldn't wait to go back someday. Well, that someday ended up being five years and a couple months later, as our daughter was about to turn three. When she was born my parents said they wanted to take her to Disney World, so they joined in for the fun this time as well.

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    Hi, I'm Melissa, I'm 28 and I'm Allie's mommy. My family owns an elevator company here in Southern California and Allie gets to come with me to work everyday. My job is mostly database administration stuff and data entry, Allie signs for UPS packages. I have a degree in Agriculture Science and I love animals and agriculture. My favorite WDW park is Epcot but thats followed very closely by Animal Kingdom. My favorite disney character is Stitch and we even have a dog named Stitch! I'm a huge Perry the Platypus fan too!

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    This is Allie, she'll be two for this trip. When we originally started talking about a return trip we wanted to go in December but after figuring out that we could save a ton by going a few months earlier we moved the trip up to the week before Allie turned three. She loves going to "Mickey's House" and her first trip was at 7 weeks old. Her favorite rides are Small World and the Ariel ride at CA Adventure. She is also recently enamored with the carosel. Her favorite princesses are Belle and Ariel, its a toss up whos going to be the favorite one day to the next.


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    Grandpa Jim is a 62 year old recently retired middle school teacher. He basically picked an age he liked and stuck with it, so Grandma says he's really about 12 himself. His favorite Disney character is probably Lightning McQueen or Mater, since he is a car guy.

    Grandma Nancy is a big Disney fan as well, and is retired from being a librarian and school teacher. She loves Beauty and the Beast and collects fun watches, especially Disney ones.

    They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on this trip, since it was initially scheduled for December when their anniversary actually will be.
     
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  3. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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  4. Reberella

    Reberella Mouseketeer

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    Following along! Your daughter is precious! :goodvibes Sounds fun!
     
  5. dvcmbr94

    dvcmbr94 Mouseketeer

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    What a beautiful family! Looking forward to reading your report. I have already read you mini-report on the resort board.
     
  6. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    Thanks for joining in. We have the first day just about ready to post. We hope you enjoy following along as much as we enjoy reliving it through the pictures!
     
  7. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    Saturday started off with me waking up from a dream where we overslept by two hours and missed our flight. Thankfully when I looked at the clock I still had an hour before the alarm was supposed to go off. Getting out of the house was fairly uneventful and we grabbed McDonalds on the way to the airport. Surprisingly enough Allie was wide awake and really excited about the trip.
    When getting my suitcase out of the back of the truck it fell and one of the wheels broke off! I was hoping the wheel coming off the suitcase wasn't going to be an omen for the entire trip and it did still have the other three...for now.


    My biggest source of anxiety for the whole trip was making it through security at the airport. I always worry about this a little when I travel, but with everyone else and Allie and all her stuff I envisioned it being a real pain.
    I had everything planned to leave our house by 4:45 for our 8 AM flight to allow time for driving through breakfast and the 20 minute drive to the airport. That way they could search us for over an hour and we'd still be ok. We met up with grandma and grandpa and made it out of the house almost on time. The McDonalds drive through didn't help things, since they didn't exactly have their A crew working before 5 in the morning. We made it to the airport by 5:30 though and got a parking spot right up front. This allowed us to make two trips, first with the checked bags and then we came back for the carry ons, car seat, and stroller that would be going with us.

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    Just a note about our gear. We decided to fly with Allie in a carseat for a number of reasons but mostly because she knows how to behave in one and we figured it would make it more familiar for her. It worked amazingly well. We purchased a carseat specifically for flying (used on craigslist). It's a Radian 80 by Sunshine Kids (new name Diono). The seat folds up and it is narrow to fit in the width of the airplane seat so you can still use the arm rests and it sits low enough so she could still use the tray table. We definately reccomend this carseat for flying with a toddler. Our stroller is a Baby Jogger City Mini. I call it my little red sports car. We use this stroller all the time when we go to Disneyland and we were very impressed with how easy it was to use with all the transportation at Disney World. We use the Britax B-Agile travel bag with it. It does fit perfectly despite some chatterings that it won't, ours is a 2011 model and not a GT so maybe newer models or the GT wouldnt fit but ours worked perfect. We also use the Britax brand cup holder console and that worked great on the trip too.
    We spent a long time debating and analyzing what to bring with us while traveling with Allie. With my concerns about getting through security and being mobile in the airport I would have considered just carrying her and a backpack with a couple toys, but in retrospect having the stroller and car seat worked out very well. Gate checking was really easy, and having the stroller for her or the car seat to ride in worked well.
    Once we had everybody through security and waiting for the plane, we had just about an hour to kill before boarding. We watched airplanes, took pictures, and tried to convince Allie to use the potty. Then they started the boarding, and we were in group 2 so we figured we would be in good position to get the carry ons loaded up and figure out installing the carseat.

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    Then she turned to me and I got the dreaded "I have to go potty!" I swear the kid has impecable timing. So we made the quickest potty trip known to man and made it back to be in the very last group to board, but at least we made it! Toddler Tip: Fly with pull-ups on, she didn't end up needing to use them but it gave Mommy a great piece of mind.
    I hoped I could keep Allie entertained during the flight and before we left packed her a little backpack full of new things to do, coloring books, wiki sticks, and a new Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye.

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    Getting situated on the plane was really pretty easy, and before long we were on our way to Texas. A little over half way through that flight Allie fell asleep, and she travelled really well. Our transfer was in DFW, and we had a couple hours so it was really easy. We had lunch, rode the skylink, and made it to our connecting gate with plenty of time.
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    We made our way over to Magical Express and there was no one around. It was empty.
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    So they put everyone there on one bus (or so it seemed) so we had to stop at Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs, and Ft. Wilderness before they dropped us off last.


    Once we arrived at WL I was so excited to show Grandma and Grandpa the lobby and to find out where our rooms were. We walked in and walked right up to an empty checkin desk. We found that our rooms were right next to eachother and directly above the checkin desk on the sixth floor. This turned out to be an awesome room location, and the view out into the lobby continually impressed us all trip.
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    Allie fell asleep on the bus and then slept through dinner.
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    Then we headed back up to the rooms to go to sleep and excitedly wait for our first full day at WDW
     
  8. Reberella

    Reberella Mouseketeer

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    Wilderness Lodge is gorgeous, I would love to stay there sometime! Especially around Christmas, it would be beautiful. Great start!:goodvibes
     
  9. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

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    I am looking forward to your trip reports. Our daughter and son-in-law are just about your age and our two grandchildren are age 5 and 3. Like your parents, we started taking kids to WDW when they were quite young, age 4 and 1 at the youngest.

    When did you tell your daughter that she was going to go to WDW? My daughter wants to wait until the morning of the trip.
     
  10. KTgE

    KTgE Mouseketeer

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    Joining in! Your title grabbed my attention because that is the excuse we use ALL the time for going to Disney with small kids. :)

    We are staying at WL for the first time in November for a surprise trip with the kids and I can't wait to see it all decorated for Christmas!
     
  11. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    We started talking about it about a year beforehand with our daughter. We go to Disneyland once or twice a month, so she is used to going to "Mickey's House" but we told her we would be going to "Mickey's Big House" and would be flying on an airplane. Our main point in talking about it was to get her used to the idea of the plane, which she first was scared of. We convinced her though by saying it was like riding a train (which she enjoyed) and that Grandma and Grandpa would be there.

    A surprise sounds like so much fun, but I don't think we could do it. We spend so much time talking about the trip and preparing for it beforehand that I don't think we could hide it from her. Another neat thing we did before this trip was with about 100 days to go we made a paper chain with links counting down each day until Disney. After brushing teeth each night, we would take a link off the chain. Allie still asks about doing the chain now before bed, so I think we will be doing that again before the next trip.

    Thanks for following along and we hope you have a great trip!
     
  12. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    Oh fun! That was why we first started planning for a trip in December, we would love to see WL decorated for the hollidays. They do similar decorations and a big tree here in the lobby of the Grand Californian and it is just beautiful.

    We are so glad we decided to take our daughter at this age. She clearly remembers the trip and really enjoyed it. Let's take advantage of all the free fun!

    We're glad to have you here an hope you enjoy hearing about the fun we had.
     
  13. WDWKOOK

    WDWKOOK NOW WITH LESS TAG!

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    Just realized that I had read the intro about a week ago then went to make dinner and forgot to post:rolleyes1. But, I'm back now and enjoying your introduction and of course, your photos!
    popcorn::
     
  14. luckylady

    luckylady DIS Veteran

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    I'm in. What a great traveler DD is. Can't wait to read more.
     
  15. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    Cool, we're glad to have you both following along.
     
  16. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    We started the day by getting up and heading downstairs to Roaring Fork for breakfast. We shared a breakfast platter, but Melissa didn't want much of it because she wasn't feeling well. After breakfast, we took her back to the room to rest while Allie, Grandma, Grandpa and I went out.

    I had apparently caught some kind of stomach bug and slept while everyone else went out to play. I also hung out on the balcony a bit and watched the park busses come and go and figured out the back up beepers and banging outside was from luggage being delivered. It didn't bother me nearly as much once I figured out what the beeping was.

    It had started to rain, but we still headed for the boat dock.
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    We waited under the cover, and a few minutes later a small boat headed for the Contemporary arrived. We got on and found all the seats to be wet because it had been rainy and windy. We had to sit on them, and the rain was blowing onto the boat, so I started to queston my decision, but at least we were in Disney World.
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    At the Contemporary we hopped off and headed for inside, and soon were exploring the lobby. Allie wanted to ride the train (monorail) right away, so we headed upstairs. I carried the stroller folded on the escalator because I hadn't figured out which elevator has a stop at the monorail level, which is a partial floor above the main lobby. We hopped on a monorail and found seats, but it was pretty full. Just outside of the hotel, it had to stop for "other traffic". I guess there was a monorail traffic jam, and we were too close to the one ahead of us. After a few minutes we headed to the TTC, then between the Poly and TTC we had another 5 minute wait. We stayed stopped for a long time with the doors open at the Poly, and made it to the Grand Floridian without an extra stop. Finally we made it to MK about 35-40 minutes after we got on, and we were ready to go have fun.

    We went through a particularly thorough bag check and into our first park of the trip.
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    It was fun to be walking down main street, even if the shops weren't in the same places as in Disneyland. (This was a surprising thing from our honeymoon trip, we actually didn't like MK because it felt to us like everything was out of place.) Determined to find Small World, we headed to the back of the park. It was still raining lightly, and the rain cover worked really well for the stroller, since Allie wouldn't wear a poncho. she would sit under the cover though, so she stayed relatively dry. We found small world where the Casey Jr. train should have been (ok, I'll stop the incessant Disneyland location comparisons) and were excited to see it had an inside waiting area. We all rode it, and Allie pointed to all the different things and was excited to show them to Grandma.
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    Then we rode the carousel, and next she wanted to ride the Ariel ride. We had heard they built an Ariel ride in the MK like CA Adventure has at home, and since that's one of Allie's favorites we decided to find it. We walked around and saw the expanded Dumbo ride and the construction on Beast's castle, which we knew was under construction. It was still raining, and I was feeling more than a little lost, so we found some space under a roof in tomorrowland to look at a map on my phone. I couldn't find the Ariel ride, but I knew it was in MK. Finally, a wikipedia search pointed out to me that it would be opening in November. Oops, how did we miss that in all or our trip planning. Oh well, I remembered the peoplemover was fun, so we hopped on it for a better guided tour. After that, Grandma waited with Allie while Grandpa and I rode Space Mountain with a 10 minute wait. That turned out to be the time it took to walk through the lines, as there were only a couple of people ahead of us. It was fun, but Grandpa didn't enjoy it as much as he remembered from DL, and didn't like not seeing what was coming. While we were on the ride, Grandma and Allie had gotten popcorn, and the rain had stopped.
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    We called Melissa and agreed to meet her at Roaring Forks and headed for the boats back to WL. This was Grandma and Grandpa's first time to get to cross the water bridge that I had been telling them about since our honeymoon.
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    Back at WL, we stopped at Roaring Forks on the way to the room and Allie and I shared chicken nuggets. Then Melissa, Allie and I did some resort exploring in the early afternoon. We sat in the nice comfy chairs in a sitting area on the fifth floor above the main entrance.
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    I fell in love with this red chair. I really wanted to take it home but I think they'd notice it was missing and it wouldnt really fit in my suitcase. I felt a little better by lunch but you can see I'm still pretty pale.

    I took pictures of the lobby with varying degrees of success, something I would continue to do all week.
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    We made our way over to the Mercantile and Allie picked out a toy Ariel cell phone and I got a couple of postcards to mail home. She talked to Grandma through the whole lobby on our way back down to Roaring Forks to buy her her very own handle cup (mug).

    Then we got everybody together and headed by boat over to Fort Wilderness for our dinner at Trail's End. We loved eating here the first night of our honeymoon trip because it was relatively quiet and had good normal food. I knew my parents would like it and Fort Wilderness. We were surprised at the complete lack of crowds, since the restaurant was probably half empty. We had a great server Joy who took care of everything and made the meal great. She brought out a strawberry shortcake for my parents anniversary, since they had their celebration noted on the ADR. (I decided to edit this to add how much I enjoyed this meal. We liked it before, but this time the ribs were the best I have ever had. I usually don't even bother with buffet ribs, but these baby back prok ribs literally fell right off the bone. Yum, my mouth waters thinking about them.) After dinner we walked around and showed Allie the horses.
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    We rode the FW internal busses to go up to the other end of the park and see some RV spaces. The park was much how they remembered it from 27 years earlier. Then we headed back to WL and instead of going out to another park we decided to try the pool. It was a little cool for me, but was still enjoyable and getting out wasn't bad at all. We watched the ELP boat parade on Bay Lake and then relaxed in the hot tub for a bit before heading back up to the room.

    The hot tub was just what I needed after feeling crummy all day. Allie needed a bath after swimming but she wasn't too fond of the idea until I pulled out a magic towel that had Belle on it (I bought it at the dollar store at home and brought it with us) and she happily splashed in the tub after that.
     
  17. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

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    Allie looks so cute in her pretty dress. I love the idea of the magic towel.

    The cozy red chair on the 5th floor looks like a good place to relax.
     
  18. hulagirl87

    hulagirl87 DIS Veteran

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    I'm so glad that I found your trip report! We are traveling with DD for the first time in January and she will be almost 3 (I'm with you on free before three!! :goodvibes) I'm very nervous about taking her down there because I'm not sure how she will be, will she fly well, will she sleep in the hotel ok, will she nap in her stroller. And then I saw your daughter conked out in her stroller and thought, "ok, it's possible" :rotfl: I can't wait to read more and that dress that she is wearing is adorable!!! :goodvibes
     
  19. GrandCalifornian

    GrandCalifornian Can't Wait To Go Back

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    We are so glad you found us too! We thought it was a great age to take her for the first time. She absolutely had a ball. She slept great in her stroller and in the bed in the hotel. We brought lots of familar things from home, her favorite stuffed friends and one of her favorite blankets that hadn't been freshly washed so it smelled like home. Her Minnie dress is one of her favorites :-) I did alot of sewing before the trip and you'll see more cute stuff as the TR goes on.
    ~Melissa
     
  20. Sandite

    Sandite If only I had been a Halloween Baby!

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    Joining in! I will have to say your TR just made my day...from what I remembered the cut off age was 2, so I was bummed we were going to have to pay for our little man to go next year, but since it's actually 3 he will be free!!! YAY!!!:cool1:
     
  21. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

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    My daughter is busy sewing a dress for her three year old. I can't remember if it is Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. :)

    Did your daughter have any trouble with nightmares or anything like that from the rides? There are a lot of scary and loud ones out there.
     

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