My pre-trip and ACTUAL trip reports have been merged. Here is an index to where the newest links are, and I'll keep it updated! New readers can start on page 6, post 86 if you want to skip the pre-trip... Introductions and planning recap, page 6, post #86 The Journey, page 6, post #89 The Check in, page 7, Post #93 The Pool and Mara, page 7, Post #94 Magic Kingdom, page 7, Post #102 Day 2, MK Morning, page 8, Post #109 Day 2, MK Mid day, page 8, Post #110 Day 2, MK Afternoon/evening, page 8, Post #115 Day 3, Epcot Morning , page 10, Post #138 Day 3, Epcot Afternoon, page 10, Post #148 Day 3, Epcot Evening, page 12, Post #176 Miscellany, a small update, page 13, Post #187 Day 4, Animal Kingdom Morning, page 13, Post #195 Day 4, Animal Kingdom, page 14, Post #202 Day 4, Date Night, page 14, Post #209 Day 4, MGM Morning, page 16, Post #231 Day 4, MGM Afternoon, page 17, Post #254 Day 4, Down time and Dinner at Boma, page 18, Post #266 Interruption - Mini NYC Trip Report, page 19, Post #283 Day 5, MK One Last Time, page 21, Post #313 The End, page 22, Post #327 Typing that first word is just intimidating! I became a DISer only a short month ago, when my friend sent me to read a trip report. I was so impressed with both the knowledge base and the quality of writing that I am now certifiably obsessed with the DIS. I can't guarantee that I'll live up to the most entertaining reports here, (or my own expectations) but I figured I'd dabble a little in the pre-trippy and see how things go. First, as always, the characters in order of appearance: Me: cmp1111 - my first name is distinct enough that I'm not sure how comfortable I am sharing it - it would make me awfully easy to find. I had a really weird amazon.com experience when using their "real name" feature for reviews, and I've been wary ever since. So, for now, at least, I'm just "Me". I'm a 34 (will be 35 by the time we hit the World) year-old stay-at-home-mom. I grew up in central Illinois, but now live in NH. I love to read, play with my kids, hang with my DH, and read some more. DH: I'm trying to come up with a clever name for him, but can't figure it out. He says he'd go with Brian, for the character on Family Guy. Sure, why not, though I don't know if I'll remember to refer to him that way. He's also 34 (will also turn 35 before our trip) and is a pilot. He went to WDW once as probably a youngish teen, but hasn't said much more than that. He's not exactly a Disney fanatic, but cheerfully watches the movies with me or the kids, and is a very good sport. He likes to read, obsess over our lawn, and play outside. DS: As it happens, we have twins. Boys. Not at all identical. They will be five by the time we hit the World. "Twin A" in pre-natal speak is my melodramatic one. We'll call him Woody. He tends to get upset if routine is messed up or if people don't behave in the way he thinks they should, but is also very charming and good-hearted. He is usually very happy, but can also get very unhappy very quickly. He thinks he is the sheriff, for sure. Sweet kid, loves, at the moment, Cars and Power Rangers. He was a Power Ranger (red, his favorite color for EVERYTHING) for Halloween, which I found funny as at that point we'd never seen the show. Santa got them a DVD for Christmas, and it's very, very exciting for him. DS: "Twin B" is the mellow one. I'd like to call him Buzz for symmetry, but he's not very Buzz like (though Buzz is his favorite.) Ah, what the heck. I can't think of a good name for him, at the moment, so we'll call him Buzz anyway. He is very "go with the flow" which is handy, considering his brother wants to be in charge, anyway. He can get very silly, and, every once in a while, to keep us on our toes, very, very stubborn. Then, mellow goes out the window, but it's pretty rare. A little bit of a mystery - we're often not quite sure what he's thinking... Also very sweet, loves Buzz (obviously) and his biggest wish for Christmas was a "light saver" (that would be a light saber to the rest of us.) He also has expressed a wish to see "Twinkerbell." Buzz is bigger - he was the smaller twin at a preemie birth, but is now 2 inches taller and about 5 pounds heaver than Woody. Woody will tell you that he's older, though - 4 minutes. Most people seeing them now do not think they are twins. My best friend: We'll call her Belle, because she is independent, smart, loyal, and also a brunette with brown eyes. My dearest friend since elementary school. Defends her dissertation on Friday, woohoo! (Did I mention that she's smart?) She lives in IL, but we stay in touch constantly. She's my Disney expert-in-residence. We lived together through most of college, and she was a College Program intern at WDW one summer while we were in school - did food service at MGM. She doesn't go with us this trip, but I will mention her, probably, more than once, so I thought you should know who she was. I'm sure various other people will appear, but that's the basic cast. OK, so now (trumpet fanfare) The Trip!: We have planned a 5 night, 6 day stay at AKL starting 5/27. I have the package booked, with the DDP, but no ADR's made, nor do we have flights. I really want to fly Southwest, as they tend to be pretty cheap out of our local airport, but they are still only booking flights through 5/10. I check every day, and am waiting impatiently for them to put the schedule out. We bought 6 day MYW's, hoping that when we CAN book the flights, we'll be able to do something on both the afternoon/evening of arrival, and maybe even the morning of the departure. And, the difference between 5 and 6 day passes was $8. Total. It didn't seem like a big waste if it doesn't work out. I feel like this is getting wordier than I meant for it to. Thanks, if you're still with me! So, the story of the "Decoy Trip" goes like this: Our anniversary is in November. A few weeks prior, my DH won't get off the internet once the kids are in bed. I ask what he's up to, he won't tell me. We make jokes about mail-order brides. This goes on for a while. One Sunday, we were sitting around, and he says to me, "Do you think it's time to start talking about Disney?" See - it's HIS idea! We've been talking about it for a while, off and on, but want to be sure the boys are big enough to do enough things, since we don't have any older kids, and we've been kind of asking around, but this is the first time I've heard anything definite from him. I say that I've heard of some good deals at the value resorts, but he says, "If we're doing this, we're doing it right. Look at the deluxe." I am doing the happy dance. And, again, this is all his idea! See, I went to WDW in '77 when I was 5, but stayed with family friends in FL and just drove in an out the same day. Epcot didn't exist. I went back with Belle for a 3 night stay at ASMo for a friend's on-property wedding, and thought it was great - this on-property thing has some definite advantages! I did DL a bunch as a kid/teen/younger adult because I have an aunt who lives in southern CA, and I went to visit her kind of often, but obviously have more experience with an MK/DL kind of deal than with the whole WDW routine. I've always loved Disney, but just haven't gotten down there (or to DL) for a long time. I am a definite WDW newbie. I immediately get on the Disney web site and also, simultaneously call Belle. "DH says we can go. DH says we can go to a deluxe resort!!!!" We talk for quite some time. Belle & her fam LOVE WL. My boys, looking over my shoulder, insist on bunk beds. DH, however, just falls in love with the pictures of AKL. I read great things about AKL, so we focus on that. Belle mentions SSR, as that's where her folks and also brother have DVC, but no. We are now locked in on AKL. (I'm by no means sad about this. I think it's going to be absolutely awesome.) Belle makes her first mention of "You should check out this site called the DISboards," but I didn't. Yet. So, frantic (obsessive?) web surfing goes on for several days. We start looking into January prices. January is cheap! However, I happen to be a bridesmaid in a wedding in IL in the beginning of February. We often drive to IL, but have to fly this time, as we are only taking a long weekend. The kids have preschool. I absolutely don't mind them missing preschool - I don't think it will affect their chances of getting into Harvard - but I pay for it, of course, whether we're there or not. SO, January might not be the time to go. That pulls them out of school for a week, back in for a week, back out for a week for the wedding. Plus, knowing what I know now for the DIS, I'd have been in bad shape. I start saying, "I think we should go around Memorial Day." Contrary to anything I had growing up in IL, school here goes until mid-June. However, our preschool gets out the week before the Mem. Day weekend. Flights probably won't be crowded. The kennel for our doggie won't be full-up. We'll have a tax refund and maybe DH's bonus $. Our anniversary (if you're interested - we have been a couple for almost 12, but married for 6. The 5 y.o. twins aren't so scary if you understand that we knew each other forever before they came along...) rolled around. DH and I have a lovely date night, and as we are sitting around at dinner, he says, "I hate to mention this now, but I was really planning a trip to Ireland for the two of us. I only mentioned Disney so that you wouldn't figure out what I was doing, but now you're so excited about that..." AACK. I have wanted to go to Ireland for a long, long time. In 2004 and 2005 we managed to get away, just the two of us, for a week. It's nice for me, because he's away so much for work. (I don't mind this. I'm an only child. I enjoy my alone time, but I also didn't count on twins. However, I still do get "me" time when they are in bed. They are getting much easier to deal with each and every month. And, I know I'm much luckier than people who have spouses in the service, or are completely on their own. But, I do enjoy the time to get away.) We cannot afford both trips. Now I am very torn. However, we did decide that the kids will only be 5 once, but Ireland will be there for us in another year or two. This assumes, of course, that we won't decide to do WDW again, and again, and... I'm not sure that won't happen... Disney it is! OK, this is hard work. Part of my problem is that I'm more of a natural-born editor than a writer. I want everything to be perfect, and so continually am changing a word here or there, and it makes for slow going. I'll stop for now. Next up, a month of stress over "maybe we will join you's..." and finding the DIS!