The Twelve Days of Disney (A Christmas/Birthday TR) *UPDATE x2 2/12 COMPLETE!*

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by holleypie, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    :santa: MERRY CHRISTMAS, DISBOARDS!!! :santa:



    We just returned from a two-week birthday/Christmas extravaganza. It involved: a road trip from Baltimore, a two-night stopover at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, nine nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and two bonus nights at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista. We left on December 1 and arrived back home on December 15.

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    This is us. My name is Holly and my husband is Brian (reddog1134). This was our 6th trip together. Luke, our precious baby boy, turned one year old on December 8. Brian and I got (premium) annual passes in October, so this was actually Luke's second trip to Disney World. You can read about his first trip HERE if you're so inclined.

    Here's a picture from that trip of Luke in his first set of mouse ears:

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    Don't be fooled--he wasn't that enthusiastic the entire time. He was only six weeks older on this trip, but the difference was astounding. In October he really didn't have much of a reaction to anything. But on this trip, he couldn't stop looking around at everything. He smiled for the camera. He reached for the characters. He waved. He clapped. He danced. I feel like he actually enjoyed himself this trip, and in October he was just along for the ride.

    Brian and I have only been to Disney in May and September/October, so seeing the parks decorated for Christmas was a completely different experience. We had an amazing time! Early fall is probably still my favorite time to visit, but I would definitely want to go back in December.

    To introduce some suspense to this trip report, I will tell you about my list. Since I turned 29 on December 6, I decided to make a list of 30 things I wanted to do to celebrate our birthdays (29 for me plus 1 for Luke). You can find the list HERE in my pre-trip report. The big question is...WILL I ACCOMPLISH EVERYTHING ON MY LIST? Obviously I'm not telling you now; you'll have to read to find out. ALSO...I didn't know in advance, but Brian had planned a birthday surprise (or two!) for me, so feel free to wonder and speculate about that.

    It was just the three of us for most of the trip, but some of my family (mom, dad, aunt, four sisters, one brother, and my oldest sister's boyfriend) flew down for a long weekend to be there for my and Luke's birthdays. My sister and her boyfriend stayed with us, and everyone else stayed at the Art of Animation.

    Now, to get in the Disney Christmas spirit, let's sing a little song together...

    On the twelve days of Disney my true love gave to me:

    twelve resort visits
    eleven trip companions
    ten pins for trading
    nine storytellers
    eight ride swap passes
    seven sorceror cards
    six Mickey pretzels
    five zeeeeebrrraaaaa dommmmmmmmmmmes
    four citrus swirls
    three bath bombs
    two birthday cakes
    and a hammock in an oak tree!
     
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  3. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS​


    SATURDAY DECEMBER 1
    (travel day)
    Biscuits and Banditos.
    Settling In.

    SUNDAY DECEMBER 2
    (HHI)
    We're Just Walking. We're on Vacation.
    Total Relaxation. And Total Panic!
    We Swim. We Eat. We Shop.

    MONDAY DECEMBER 3
    (AKL)
    More traveling and arriving.
    Magic Kingdom, finally!
    Some eating, riding, and pin trading.

    TUESDAY DECEMBER 4
    A vegetarian and a carnivore walk into the Animal Kingdom.
    We conquer lunch and the yeti.
    A Birthday Surprise
    What's it called? Monorail!

    WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 5
    (Happy Birthday, Walt!)
    A Brief Foray Into the Future
    It's Haircut Time!
    Another Birthday Surprise!
    Birthday Surprise Continued. And the family arrives!

    THURSDAY DECEMBER 6
    (Happy Birthday, Holly!)
    Cranky Birthday Morning
    Holly's Very Merry Birthday Party (Part 1)
    Holly's Very Merry Birthday Party (Part 2)

    FRIDAY DECEMBER 7
    Blue Lantern, Iron Man's Girlfriend, and Sheldon Cooper Walk Into Hollywood Studios
    Nous mangeons mal cuisine française et répondre à un ROBOT!

    SATURDAY DECEMBER 8
    (Happy Birthday, Luke!!!)
    A Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Birthday Breakfast
    Fun Times at Magic Kingdom (and Luke sleeps through his first celebrity sighting)
    Party Time!

    SUNDAY DECEMBER 9
    Napping, Pizza, and Alone Time at Epcot
    Alone Time at Epcot, Continued

    MONDAY DECEMBER 10
    Checking out the Animals at Animal Kingdom
    Camp Minnie-Mickey
    Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree
    Holly and Luke's "Night In," and Dinner at DTD

    TUESDAY DECEMBER 11
    Our Final Adventures at Epcot
    Meet-and-Greets and the Merry Mixer
    Burritos!

    WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 12
    (Wyndham Lake Buena Vista)
    12-12-12!
    Rainy Day at DHS
    Osborne Family Lights
    A Visit to the Boardwalk
    Beach Club and Yacht Club

    THURSDAY DECEMBER 13
    Last Visit to MK
    Wilderness Lodge and Downtown Disney

    FRIDAY DECEMBER 14 AND SATURDAY DECEMBER 15
    The Long Drive Home

    THE TRIP IN REVIEW







    Restaurant Rating Scale:
    4 stars: Loved it. Will definitely have again.
    3 stars: Good. Would have again.
    2 stars: Okay. Nothing special.
    1 star: Bad. Just bad.


     
  4. DreamingPink

    DreamingPink Disney Veteran

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    I am subbing, and may I just say how adorable your baby is, just precious!!!!!! Great start keep them coming!!!!
     
  5. Allieran3

    Allieran3 Live in my magical Disney bubble with Grumpy and a

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    I'm subbing , sounds like its going to be an exciting TR.
     
  6. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    SATURDAY DECEMBER 1​

    One of the big differences between this trip and all our other Disney trips is that when we woke up at 4am and prepared to leave...we didn't have a plane to catch. We were driving!

    I love road trips. I love having our car, and being on our own schedule, and not worrying about overpacking. And guys, I did some serious packing. I wanted to be prepared for all weather conditions, so I packed mostly long sleeves plus a few summery outfits just in case. I had a suitcase for my clothes, Luke had a suitcase for his clothes, plus we shared another suitcase that I'd packed separately for Hilton Head so we wouldn't have to completely unload the car. We had a bag of food. We had a cooler of food. I had a clothes hamper full of hats. I HAD A HAMPER OF HATS. I was still grabbing stuff and cramming it in our bags as we were on our way out to the car. So, yeah. I loved driving instead of flying.

    The drive to Hilton Head was about eleven hours, and I planned to arrive around 6pm that night. I had no idea how Luke would react to all this time strapped into his car seat. One of his grandmothers lives an hour away, but that's the extent of his road trip experience.

    We left on time at 5am (figures...the only time we leave promptly is when we DON'T have a plane to catch). I offered to drive first, but Brian wanted me to drive through Virginia because he thought there were a lot of speed traps there, and I drive like an 80-year-old grandmother. So, Brian drove, Luke slept, and I read a book on my new Kindle. The Kindle was actually my birthday present, but Brian gave it to me early so I could use it on the drive down.

    At 7:30, we made our first stop at a rest area, and I dug my two-liter of Coke out of the cooler. I LOVE Coke, but I don't keep it in the house because if it's in the house, I will drink it. So it's strictly an out-of-the-house treat. A week earlier, they had two-liters on sale for a dollar...so I HAD to buy one for the trip. I stuck the Coke on top of my refrigerator for an entire week and pretended it wasn't there. It was torture.

    Now that we were in Virginia, Brian and I switched places so I could do some driving. I pulled out of the rest area and grabbed my mug to take a drink. Because the cupholders are awkwardly located, I grabbed the mug by the lid instead of the handle.

    And, to the surprise of no one, the lid popped off and I spilled half a mug full of Coke all over my lap.

    I was already too far down the ramp to stop, so Brian fixed the lid for me, threw some napkins in my lap, and I just kept driving.

    After that stop, Luke woke up and was pretty anxious to be fed. At 9am, we stopped at a gas station in Jarratt, VA. I fed Luke then we went inside so I could change him. And myself.

    Since I hadn't been driving that long and knew we were stopping again soon, I kept driving. Since driver picks the music, I listened to one of the CDs I'd brought along--Sleepwalk With Me, a one-man show by Mike Birbiglia. He's a regular contributor to This American Life, and I really like his work. I highly recommend it.

    Around 10:20, we reached our first planned stop!

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    Biscuitville in Rocky Mount, NC.

    I have a friend who moved to North Carolina, and she told me if I liked biscuits (which I do), I needed to go to Biscuitville. This friend lives too far from I-95 to visit on this trip...but I found a conveniently located Biscuitville. I'd actually signed up for Biscuitville's "free biscuit for your birthday" promotion a few weeks before our trip, and I was hoping I would get my coupon before we left. I didn't. It came twelve days later...six days AFTER my birthday. Oh well.

    I had an egg and cheese biscuit and a hashbrown. This is my standard fast food breakfast.

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    I'd pored over the menu before we left, but I'd completely forgotten that Biscuitville had fried eggs and scrambled eggs. I like them scrambled, but I neglected to specify, so I got a fried egg.

    Brian had a blueberry muffin. He'd eaten a bunch of leftover chicken wings in the car, so he wasn't very hungry.

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    Luke had pancakes. Well, Luke had one pancake and we saved the rest for later.

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    Sad to say, Biscuitville didn't impress me. I probably would have enjoyed it better if I'd gotten the right egg. It was a decent alternative to Burger King, but nothing I would go out of my way for. Brian's muffin, though, was REALLY GOOD.

    After we ate, I changed Luke's diaper and put him in real clothes, then we were on our way. Brian drove and Luke took a nap.

    At 1:15pm, we had our next planned stop...

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    South of the Border!

    If you're not familiar, South of the Border is a rest stop/tourist attraction off of I-95, just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina border. It is kitsch at its best. It is Mexican-themed and the mascot is Pedro, an outrageously stereotypical bandito. You are positively bombarded with billboards for this place. Like this:

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    I counted 46 billboards on the drive down. To compare, we only passed about six for Disney World.

    I haven't been to South of the Border in about 13 years, and I'd heard that it had "gone downhill" (as if it had been a nice upscale establishment to begin with?) so I was a little cautious. I had to go to the bathroom, so I left my purse with Brian and took my cell phone in case I had to call for help.

    I didn't encounter any roaming gangs in the bathroom, but I did find something utterly shocking and confusing.

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    A tip jar.

    There have only been a few times in my life when I've been in a bathroom fancy enough to warrant a tip jar. I looked around for the attendant to see if she was going to offer me a nicely folded paper towel, or show me to the lovely assortment of feminine hygiene products available in the vending machine. BUT THERE WASN'T EVEN AN ATTENDANT.

    We were actually ahead of schedule at this point, so we took our time at South of the Border, walking around, taking pictures, and letting Luke cruise for a bit.

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    Reddog with a red dog!

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    South of the Border is one of those places that you either love or hate. Feel free to use that picture of a dinosaur in a sombrero as a litmus test. If you giggled, you would love it there. If you rolled your eyes or just don't understand why anyone would be amused by a dinosaur in a sombrero, then you probably shouldn't bother stopping.

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    I'd planned a t-shirt theme for most days of our trip, but the weather ended up being much nicer than I'd anticipated, so we didn't get to wear all of our coordinating outfits. Today's theme was "cars." I'm wearing a Corvette t-shirt and Luke has on Lightning McQueen. And we spent all day in the CAR! Please take a moment to appreciate how clever I am.

    Trying on hats and looking at cheap merchandise is only amusing for so long, so we headed outside for a few more pictures.

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    I went back to the car to feed Luke, and Brian said, "I'm hungry. I'm going to see what they have in that ice cream shop." He came back with a hot dog, which made me laugh. I guess he'd meant he was going to see if they had any REAL food in the ice cream shop, but I'd been expecting him to come back with...ice cream.

    I drove, and This American Life happened to be on, so I listened to that for a bit. I download the episodes on iTunes and it's been a REALLY long time since I've actually listened to it on the radio. Unfortunately the theme for this episode was "animal sacrifice" and I just couldn't handle it. I turned it off after the first act. Instead, we talked about how we're going to open a rival rest stop called North of the Border, and it will be Canadian-themed, with a mountie mascot named Pierre. After about an hour and a half, we stopped at a rest area and switched. At some point I got hungry and ate the leftover pancakes.

    Luke had been pretty good all day, but for the last 90 minutes of the trip, he'd HAD ENOUGH. I had to climb in the backseat and try to talk him down. I sang songs. I let him eat ALL the fruit-flavored cereal puffs we had in the car. I did peek-a-boo so many times I thought my face was going to fall off. It was rough.

    But finally, we made it! We pulled into Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort at EXACTLY 6pm.
     
  7. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    Thanks! He is ridiculously adorable. But I've been told that he looks like my husband, so I guess I can't really take credit.

    Welcome! I'm going to try to make it as exciting as possible.
     
  8. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    SATURDAY DECEMBER 1 (PART TWO)


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    We parked outside of the Live Oak Lodge to check in. As relieved as I was to have finally arrived, I think Luke was probably the most excited.

    When we walked inside, we were greeted by a familiar face:

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    This key display was TOO CUTE...but obviously just for show. Our room keys were the exact same key cards you get at Disney World.

    Of course, the lobby was decorated for Christmas. So adorable.

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    Check-in only took approximately sixty-five seconds, but we didn't want to torture Luke and strap him right back into the car seat, so we set him free in Big Murggie's Den for a few minutes of exploring.

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    After a quick game of checkers (Luke lost because he couldn't reach the board), we decided it was time to get back in the car and find our room. On our way out, the guy at the front desk handed us a restaurant guide and asked if we had any questions (there are no restaurants at the resort itself except for a breakfast/lunch quick service). Brian asked him something (maybe about the weather?) and the guy admitted that he actually works at Vero Beach and was just filling in while the HHI staff had their Christmas party. Glad we didn't want any restaurant recommendations!

    We were in building 28. As you can see on the map, we were basically on the opposite end of the resort, but it's really not big and it didn't take us long to find our room.

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    I took this picture of our building the next day.

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    Although our studio was on the first floor, we still had to go up a flight of steps because everything was built up (I guess because of potential flooding).

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    We had a great room number (although I could have done without the fish).

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    The kitchen area was to the right as soon as you walked in.

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    The bathroom was straight ahead, and then the rest of the room was around the corner.

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    I really loved the room decor, especially this red accent wall and headboard.

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    Towel animal!

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    Brian brought in our bags while I took pictures. When he came in, he told me he'd just met a magician in the parking lot, which conjured up some very amusing mental pictures for me. It turns out it was B'Lou Crabbe, the chief entertainer at the resort, and he'd just finished doing a magic show.

    We were hungry so we decided to put poor Luke back in the car to procure dinner. We didn't need the restaurant guide--I knew exactly what I wanted and I even knew where it was! Based on Disboards recommendations, I wanted to try Giuseppi's Pizza. I'd spotted it in a shopping center on our way to the resort, so I was able to expertly navigate back there ("I think it's this turn. No wait...I think it's the next one. Ummm. This doesn't look right. Actually...yeah, that was it. Turn around.")

    We were all exhausted, so we decided to get the pizza to go. It might have been a better idea to call ahead and pick it up, because we waited a pretty long time. I let Luke cruise around and destroy the restaurant guide while we waited.

    Here's the box:

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    And the inside:

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    We also got an order of fries:

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    The pizza didn't knock my socks off, but it was filling. The fries were the crispy kind that I like but Brian doesn't, but for some reason these didn't taste that good to me either. It definitely wasn't BAD, but the next time we're in Hilton Head I would try another pizzeria before I returned to Giuseppi's.

    By the time we finished eating, it was close to 9:30 so we went straight to bed!

    Travel Day Summary: Luke did so much better than I expected! The drive down wasn't bad at all, and we even arrived "on time." The Hilton Head Island Resort was absolutely adorable and our room was perfect. I couldn't wait to spend the next day relaxing!

     
  9. Pixie*Pirate

    Pixie*Pirate It IS the happiest place on earth!

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    Enjoying thus far! popcorn::
     
  10. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for reading!
     
  11. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    SUNDAY DECEMBER 2ND


    Luke woke up at 4:15am to eat, and then fell right back asleep. But I...didn't. Since we'd gone to bed early, I'd already gotten a decent amount of sleep so I read for about an hour. That's another advantage of the Kindle--normally I would have sat in the bathroom reading so the light wouldn't disturb Brian and the baby, but I could read the Kindle in bed!

    Brian stirred at 5:30 and I told him I was going to go find the fitness center. I put on my comfy travel clothes from the day before, because workout clothes were just about the only thing I DIDN'T pack. I figured there was no way I would have the time or energy to run on vacation (Spoiler Alert: I was almost correct. This morning was the only time I worked out in two weeks.)

    I couldn't find the resort map, and we hadn't figured out how to access the internet in our room yet, so I wasn't sure exactly where the fitness center was. I figured it was near the Live Oak Lodge, so I walked along the dock in that direction.

    If you've been to the Hilton Head Island Resort, you know that the fitness center, community hall, Broad Creek Mercantile, and Tide Me Over are not ANYWHERE NEAR the Live Oak Lodge. Oops. So I had a nice, long walk around the resort. I was super excited to see both HAMMOCKS and HORSESHOES all over the resort. Obviously I love hammocks--who doesn't? And I used to play horseshoes with my grandmother, so they make me happy too.

    I finally came across a man who worked there and asked him to point me in the right direction. It probably goes without saying that no one else was in the fitness center at 6am on a Sunday morning. I put Roseanne on the television and ran on the treadmill for half an hour, then did 10 minutes on the bike for a cool down.

    After a much shorter walk back to the room (but still NOT a direct route, as I would learn later), it was about 7am and the boys had gotten up. Brian was watching Roseanne too! I fed Luke, then we all got dressed.

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    Remember that bag I'd packed for this portion of the trip so we wouldn't have to unload the entire car? Yeah, that ended up being pointless. I'd thought it would be cold in South Carolina so I'd packed pants and sweaters, and we definitely needed t-shirts and shorts. After we got dressed, we took a walk around the resort and over to the Live Oak Lodge.

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    There were always a few feral cats running around. And they were all black and white, just like my cats at home!

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    These are the doors into the lobby. So cute.

    We asked the front desk about the internet password, and they wrote it down on a post-it for us. Then Brian made the first pin trade of the trip when he acquired an orange bird.

    We found a cute area with a hammock behind the lodge, so we spent a few minutes there loitering and taking pictures.

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    Then we decided to walk over to Tide Me Over and get some breakfast.

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    Since I'd already been there that morning, I expertly navigated there ("It's this way, follow me! Okay, that's the pool. This is where I got lost. You can lead now.")

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    I think it's funny that the exercise rooms at all the other Disney resorts have clever names like "Survival of the Fittest" at AKL, but at Hilton Head it's just called "Exercise Room."

    Fortunately, Brian has a better sense of direction than I do, and we were able to find Tide Me Over.

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    We both had french toast. It was pretty good.

    After breakfast, I figured it MUST be time for Luke's nap. But Brian told me it wasn't even 9am yet. Oh my God. So we just wandered around for a bit.

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    Hidden Mickeys on the bar stools.

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    The pier.

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    312 miles to AKL!

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    We saw this sign with the day's activities listed, so we popped into Community Hall to see if Luke was old enough for whatever "Toddler Time" entailed.

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    As you can see, the place was packed so we decided not to stay.

    Instead, we walked back outside and checked out the pool.

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    (continued in next post)

     
  12. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Loving this....your little boy is SO CUTE!! :)
     
  13. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    SUNDAY DECEMBER 2ND (PART 2)


    We walked down to the pier. It's actually a fishing pier, but fortunately no one was there doing any actual fishing.

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    Then we walked back to the room and I laid Luke down for a nap. Of course Luke didn't fall asleep right away...but Brian did. I went out and sat on the balcony and read until Luke fell asleep.

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    Then I went down to the hammock in our backyard area.

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    I can't even tell you how wonderful and relaxing it was. It was pretty much heaven. Totally quiet and peaceful. I imagine it's not quite that serene in the summer time, but it was awesome.

    After I finished the book (it was a graphic novel, the only tangible book I'd brought on vacation) I decided to walk to Broad Creek Mercantile to get a postcard for my friend Tom (co-star of our previous trip, and sadly absent on this one). As I started off in the direction of BCM, I realized I COULD SEE THE BUILDING FROM THE HAMMOCK. That's how close it was. I'd walked all over the resort that morning looking for it, and it was like fifty feet away.

    I found a postcard, but sadly the store didn't sell stamps (why don't places that sell postcards EVER sell stamps?). I spotted a pin board downstairs below the store (I think it was the rental window, maybe?) and I found a pin of Dumbo and his mother. I was SO EXCITED to trade for it, thinking it was some kind of rare find...then I saw the exact same pin at least two or three more times after we got to Disney World. Oh well. I still love it.

    When I got back to the room, Brian was awake. I told him about the pin trading board and he went to check it out. He didn't find anything he wanted for himself, but he came back with two acorns for me, because I collect food pins. Luke woke up, so I fed him, and then we discussed what to do next. Brian wanted to swim, and I wanted to take Luke to see the ocean, so we decided to go swimming at the beach house. I got Luke ready then changed into my bathing suit.

    When I walked out of the bathroom in my bathing suit, the scariest thing happened.

    I felt something on my hand.

    I looked down.

    And it was a stinkbug.

    Are you familiar with these vile creatures? I hesitate to even post a picture, because they make me gag. They are called stinkbugs because of their (in the eloquent words of Wikipedia) "tendency to eject a foul smelling glandular substance secreted from pores in the thorax when disturbed." We find these in our bedroom every summer, and I FREAK OUT. Most bugs don't bother me much, but when I see a stinkbug I yell for Brian and cover my head, or I run from the room in a blind panic. My fear of them heightened considerably this summer after the Water Glass Incident. Back when I had a job, I used to get up really early in the morning to work while Luke and Brian slept. Early one morning I took a drink of water and felt something in my mouth. I pulled it out and, you know where this story is headed, it was a stinkbug. In my mouth. And I guess it had felt "disturbed," because it ejected its foul smelling glandular substance INTO MY MOUTH. It was exactly as terrible as you're imagining it was. I had to get a friend to google it for me and find out if the substance was poisonous (it isn't).

    So, having a stinkbug on my hand might not sound like the end of the world, but given our history, I was QUITE UPSET. I flailed around like a fool, and screamed at Brian, "GET IT! GET IT!"

    He calmly got it and threw it outside.

    "I THINK IT WAS IN MY CLOTHES THIS WHOLE TIME!" I yelled. "I NEED TO WASH EVERYTHING IN MY SUITCASE."

    "You know, you're not supposed to introduce foreign species into a new environment," Brian said.

    Oh great. Now I was responsible for introducing stinkbugs to the State of South Carolina.

    I took a minute to regain my composure, then we left for the bus stop.
     
  14. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

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    SUNDAY DECEMBER 2 (PART 3)


    After I recovered from my near-death experience, we walked to the bus stop to catch the shuttle to the beach house.

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    There was already a van idling there, just waiting for us.

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    As you can see, it was just a regular passenger van. I don't know why, but I was expecting...I don't know, a trolley or something odd and old-fashioned. We sat Luke between us and buckled him in. I'm sure that was completely safe and legal.

    We chatted with the shuttle driver about the beautiful weather and how South Carolina is such a great place to live.

    "Do you have stinkbugs here?" I asked.

    "Oh yeah," he said. Good. At least I'm off the hook for that. But I guess he mistook me for some kind of entomologist, so he started telling us about other disgusting bugs they have in SC, so we had a LOVELY conversation all the way to the beach house.

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    All the signs say that the shuttle runs every thirty minutes, but he told us to just call when we were ready to come back, so I guess it's different in December.

    After I'd slathered him in sunscreen, Luke crawled around in the splash area.

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    I felt bad that the pool at the beach house was just an ordinary pool and didn't have a slide. I actually don't even know how to swim, but Brian loves a good slide.

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    Brian did some swimming, and Luke and I splashed near the stairs.

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    Then I took Luke down to look at the ocean. As you can see, it was packed.

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    My sister-in-law had posted a picture on Facebook of Luke's cousins outside enjoying the "warm December day" in winter jackets and hats, so I couldn't resist taking this picture of Luke on my phone and uploading it to FB:

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    After Brian was done swimming, we changed out of our bathing suits and called the shuttle to come get us. This time we had a different driver. She was nice but not as chatty, and she dropped us off right in front of our building. It was getting late in the afternoon and we hadn't had lunch yet, so we decided to head to another Disboard recommended restaurant: Kingfisher.

    I mentioned that there are no restaurants at the resort, but there are some within walking distance. The photos I'd seen of Disney's HHI Resort make it look secluded, but it's actually at the edge of a big resort/restaurant complex. Kingfisher is literally just outside of the resort. I stood in front of Kingfisher taking this picture of the welcome sign:

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    Kingfisher didn't look busy. Awesome!

    Actually...not so awesome. They didn't look busy because they weren't open for lunch. Argh.

    It was after 2pm, so we decided to walk over to the Live Oak Lodge and let Luke meet Shadow.

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    While we were there, I went inside and asked the front desk if they sold stamps. They didn't, but they could use their postage machine. Eh, better than nothing.

    When I went back outside, Brian and B'Lou were talking about blue crabs. Ohhhh...I finally got it. B'Lou Crabbe. B'Lou wasn't what I'd pictured at all, but he was a nice guy. I wanted to get a cute picture of Luke with Shadow, but then a bunch of other little kids showed up and I didn't feel like dealing with the chaos, so we left.

    We walked over to Tide Me Over so Brian could look at the menu, but he didn't see anything he wanted. We went back to the room and I fed Luke while Brian consulted the restaurant guide. He found a place called Wild Wing Cafe. We plugged the address into TomTom, who led us astray! He told us the restaurant was on the left side of the road, so he took us down to the end of the road and around a traffic circle, then back up the road and said, "We're here!" But we could NOT find the restaurant. We turned around to try again...and spotted it on the RIGHT side of the road. TomTom is such a liar sometimes.

    Brian had wings for an appetizer. For some reason, he let ME select the level of hotness, and it ended up being too hot and burned his mouth. Sorry, Brian.

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    I had an ordinary garden salad, but it came with an awesome piece of Texas toast. I also shared a side of broccoli with Luke.

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    Brian had a bacon cheeseburger for his entree. I assure you, there is a burger underneath that mound of cheese.

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    It was almost five o'clock already when we finished eating. I suddenly remembered I'd wanted to get a Hilton Head sticker (because my initials are HH), and since we were leaving super early the next day, I should probably do it NOW. So I made Brian drive around and find a souvenir shop for me.

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    We found this one just as they were closing, but they let us come in and shop anyway. I bought a sticker and also a Christmas ornament.

    Luke fell asleep in the car, so when we got back to the room we let him nap for a bit while I wrote in my trip journal and Brian played Angry Birds. Brian walked to Broad Creek Mercantile before it closed and got a pin for me that I'd had my eye on and a Mickey ice cream bar for himself.

    Here are my pins for the day. This was the only day of the trip where I had more than Brian.

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    When Luke woke up, we decided to go back to Kingfisher. Neither of us wanted dinner, but I'd really only been interested in Kingfisher for the dessert. It was a little cooler now that the sun had gone down, so I put Luke in the Moby wrap to keep him warm, and we walked over. I was pretty shocked at the amount of walking we ended up doing this day. We joked that it was good we were getting in some walking now, since we would barely be doing any at Disney World and Animal Kingdom Lodge. :rotfl:

    The wait for our dessert was a little excessive, considering we were just getting cheesecake. I got the Baileys chocolate chip, and Brian got key lime. We walked back to the resort and watched some of Princess and the Frog on the outdoor screen while we ate. We were both initially confused when we opened our containers, because my cheesecake was round, and they were both drizzled with a raspberry sauce, and we were sure we'd gotten the wrong desserts. But I tried mine, and it was correct AND DELICIOUS. The raspberry was an interesting choice, but oh well.

    Luke wasn't interested in the movie, so we headed back to the room for another early bedtime. We had to get some rest because we were getting up early the next day and driving to Disney World! :cool1:

    Day 1 Summary: I loved, loved, loved HHI. I could have easily spent two or three more days there. I wish we'd gotten a chance to play horseshoes and swim in the "real" pool, but overall I think we had a good balance of relaxation and fun.

     
  15. Reddog1134

    Reddog1134 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,875
    I like spicy food and I really love chicken wings. The menu at Wild Wing Cafe showed the different levels of hotness. They had special names and a color coded chart but I'll use numbers to illustrate the level of hotness.

    Let's say that "no sauce" is a "0". The hot wings you get at any particular restaurant would be a "2". Since this is what is normally available to me, I decided to be a little adventurous and get something hotter. Initially, I thought "3" but then I thought "Should I go higher?" So, that's why I asked Holly. She said to get the "4".

    Yeah, they were hot. My tongue and the roof of my mouth felt raw afterwards. When I tried to take a bite of my burger, it hurt where ever the bun touched my mouth. So I drank my soda and waited a few minutes for my mouth to recover.

    I can't say the wings were good because the hotness kind of overpowered the taste for me. But I also can't say they were bad, just because my taste buds were immolated. The burger was definitely good, though.
     
  16. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Messages:
    363
    Thanks so much! He really is incredibly adorable.

    I think the fact that you had to use the word "immolated" in your review should preclude you from endorsing them.
     
  17. bellaally

    bellaally DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2012
    Messages:
    625
    Hey great vacation you got like three for one! We were in wdw from 10-15 as well. If you ever saw a lady with two babies in a double stroller and heard a lot of screaming and crying it was us. Well they were actually well behaved,I would have been the one screaming and crying lol. Can't wait to read about Akl that were we decided to stay for our upcoming vacation.
     
  18. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Messages:
    363
    It really did feel like a few different vacations. After a couple days at Disney I was like, "Hey, remember that one time we went to Hilton Head? That was so long ago!"

    If I remember correctly, you got there just in time for the icky weather!

    AKL is awesome. You will love it.
     
  19. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Messages:
    363
    MONDAY DECEMBER 3rd​


    We woke up, using Luke as our alarm, at around 4:30. Brian took a shower while I fed Luke, then I took a shower while Brian loaded all of my bags back into the car.

    These are my bags on the floor.

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    These are more of my bags on the counter.

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    Brian had one backpack. Not kidding.

    We left the resort at 5:30am and after stopping at a gas station so Brian could get some tea, we were on our way.

    We stopped at the Georgia Welcome Center because I wanted to get some pamphlets for my mom.

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    They're going on a big road trip next summer. Unfortunately, the big room with all the pamphlets was locked up so I just grabbed two magazines that were sitting in the lobby.

    I drove and Brian took a little nap. He woke up around 8am and I told him I wanted to stop at 8:30 for breakfast. Of course, it started raining promptly at 8:30. Ugh! We drove a bit more hoping the rain would let up, and then stopped for breakfast at a Burger King somewhere near Jacksonville. No pictures; no one needs to see that.

    After breakfast, Brian drove the rest of the way. I remember calling my mom at some point because I was bored, and Brian's throat hurt so he wasn't as enthusiastic as I wanted him to be about playing Mad Libs with me. When we were about 45 minutes away, Luke got REALLY fussy. We stopped at a rest area and I tried to nurse him, but he got irate and just wanted to roam free. I felt bad, but we were SO CLOSE and I didn't want to let him play for long. After we got back on the road, he cried for a bit and then fell asleep for the last 20 minutes of the trip. So I climbed back in the front seat and took all these pictures of road signs.

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    WE'RE ALMOST TO DISNEY WORLD.

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    WE REACHED THE ARCHWAY.

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    WE'RE IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM RESORT AREA.

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    WE'VE REACHED ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE.

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    WE PASSED THE JAMBO HOUSE SIGN.

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    THERE'S JAMBO HOUSE.

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    WE'RE INSIDE JAMBO HOUSE.

    We arrived at noon--ahead of my predicted arrival time of 1pm. We checked in and went to the room to unpack.

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    We were in a savanna view studio on the fifth floor. It was a bit of a hike from the lobby, but I don't think it was as terrible as our Kidani stay in 2010.

    I took photos while Brian dealt with our luggage. I really enjoy the division of labor we've established since having Luke.

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    The first time Brian used our bathroom, he thought, "Why is there a bunch of toilet paper on the floor? Why is all the soap thrown in the tub? Oh. Luke was here."

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    Brian's unplugging the phone in this picture. Instead of keeping Luke from playing with the phones, we just unplugged them as soon as we arrived. We're getting really good at this whole parenting thing.

    Next, we went to check out the balcony.

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    To the left.

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    To the right.

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    Straight ahead. I think I see a giraffe!

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    Do you see it, Luke?

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    Yep. Hello, giraffe.

    As nice as it would have been to hang out on the balcony and stare at the animals, we did have plans for the day.

    We're three days into the trip and we're finally at Disney World. Where do you think we're going first???
     
  20. Reiana

    Reiana Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2007
    Messages:
    61
    Great report so far. Love it:goodvibes
    Luke is such a cutie :lovestruc
     
  21. holleypie

    holleypie Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Messages:
    363
    MONDAY DECEMBER 3RD (PART 2)​


    So there we are, in our room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. All checked in. All ready to have some fun. Our first stop?

    Publix.

    Actually, we stopped at Chick Fil A because Brian was hungry...THEN we went to Publix. Brian ate his chicken in the car while Luke and I went inside.

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    This shopping cart was much more fun than the ones at home.

    Our first order of business was ordering Luke's birthday cake. Yeah, I hadn't done that yet. A whole month before the trip, I'd found a cute cake online and contacted a bakery near Disney asking for a price quote and their response was, "Sorry, we're all booked that week." I don't know WHY, but my immediate reaction was that they were lying and just didn't feel like making my cake. So I got irrationally irritated with all Disney area bakeries and decided to just order one from the grocery store when we got there. I am not always this crazy. But sometimes I am.

    I had intended to get Brian's input on the cake, but by the time he finished his chicken and came inside I was halfway through ordering it. Oh well. I picked out a good one. It also came with a free smash cake for Luke, so that was nice.

    We bought some snacks and quick meals for the room, and then drove back to AKL to drop it off. Instead of us all going back inside, Brian loaded the bags into Luke's stroller and pushed them to the room.

    NOW we were finally ready to have some real fun.

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    Apparently, they painted the sign sometime since our last trip. Now when Luke looks back on those old photos, he's going to roll his eyes and say, "OMG, the Magic Kingdom sign used to be PINK?"

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    We parked on the villain side of the lot, for the first of many times.

    We got the jogging stroller out of the trunk and unfolded, strapped Luke in, then loaded it up with bags. Then we got to the end of the row and remembered we had to take everything out again and fold it up so we could get on the tram. Argh.

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    Today's t-shirt theme was supposed to be "Peter Pan." I bought that Tinker Bell shirt just so I would have something to match Luke's Lost Boys hoodie. But, as you can see, it ended up being way too warm for long sleeves.

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    This was NOT the first of many tram rides. We did it once or twice more, then we decided it would be easier to walk. Sometimes, it was also QUICKER.

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    We exclusively used the ferry when getting from the TTC to MK, because it's easier with the stroller. A ferry had just left so while we waited I found some chalk and did some sketching.

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    Okay, I'm lying. But aren't they adorable?

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    Here's Luke's stylish ride. And that's my Burger King soda leftover from that morning. Cupholders rock.

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    The ferry came and we enjoyed a nice ride over to Magic Kingdom. The ferry is always delightful the first time on every trip. And then it's like...seriously, guys, why didn't you realize how annoying and tedious it would be to cross this fake lake every single time?

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    We checked out the progress on the Grand Floridian DVC expansion.

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    Then we arrived at the Magic Kingdom!

    I thought I'd taken more pictures of the Christmas decorations, but all I have is a blurry picture of a toy soldier, and this:

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    But trust me--it was beautiful.

    I had really wanted to get Luke's first haircut done as soon as possible, but the barber shop was only open until 5pm. We had about an hour, but I wanted him to eat first. He was actually ASLEEP, after having not really napped all day except for those twenty minutes in the car. But it was also 4pm and he hadn't eaten since breakfast that morning, and I thought he would sleep better with a full stomach. So I made the boneheaded mistake of WAKING HIM UP.

    Brian went to the fire house to get sorcerer cards while I took Luke to the baby care center to feed him. He took these pictures inside:

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    Meanwhile, Luke and I caught our first glimpse of the castle!

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    Then I took another picture of the castle. I'm not sure why. I think maybe there was a stage show happening?

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    In my previous trip report I wrote about how the Magic Kingdom baby care center freaked me out. There was no one else in the nursing room that afternoon, so I took a picture:

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    I spent a LOT of time in that nursing room on this trip, so I got used to the creepy babies.

    After Luke ate, we still had time to hurry back to the barber shop, but I thought it would be a better idea if I let him nap. So, no haircut today.

    We met back up with Brian and walked over to Frontierland. He went into the Frontier Trading Post to do some pin trading while I walked around with Luke.

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    I figured Luke would fall right back asleep. He did not.

    Brian bought a Hilton Head Island Resort pin (they hadn't had any at Hilton Head Island Resort). It didn't say it was discounted, but it rang up $3! He showed his premium annual pass to get his 20% off discount, and the cashier said, "Did that say DVC? You get another 10% off for that." So he paid $2.10 for it. Score.

    Next, we stopped at Sunshine Tree Terrace (for the first of many times) so Brian could get a citrus swirl.

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    I asked him to get me a cup of water and he said, "How about you get a soda so I can buy that orange bird cup?" And I said, "How about you just buy that orange bird cup and have them fill it with water?" So he did.

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    It was disgusting Florida tap water, not filtered-from-the-soda-fountain water, but I felt compelled to choke down as much of it as I could.

    Brian wanted to get on Pirates of the Caribbean next, but I wanted Luke to FALL ASLEEP, so I told him to go alone.

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    I was sure if I just walked around a little bit longer, Luke would be out. I was so optimistic.

    Readers of my previous trip report might recall that our last visit to the Magic Kingdom was a bit of a disaster. We kept Luke out too late at the Halloween party, he woke up irritated, and I had a treacherous journey back to the resort. This evening was starting to feel like a repeat of that night. I worried that the big swanky jogging stroller we'd brought this time wouldn't make any difference, and we would have to deal with an irate non-napping baby for two weeks.

    I walked. And walked. And walked.

    Luke did not sleep.

    And I was pretty sure Brian was NEVER coming back.

     

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