Ok, here I go finally! For those of you that don't know, the cruise involves myself (a single mommy) and my dd7 (Maddie) on the Wonder for a 4 day cruise this past August....exactly one month ago today actually. This is our third cruise. The first was in 2004 with my parents, and last year was our 1st WONDERful Mommy/Maddie cruise. This is the cruise that we booked while still onboard last year and have been waiting patiently (or maybe not) to arrive since the day we left the ship almost one year ago. Saturday, August 4th, 2007 TODAY IS THE DAY!!!! We waited all year and it's finally here. We were so excited that we could hardly get to sleep the night before. We were jumping off the walls until after 11pm so it was a VERY good thing that our flight this year was not until 11am and not 6am (God help us) as it has always been in the past. Of course the only thing this meant to Maddie who could care less about a silly thing like sleep is that we are in Orlando for less time....but once there she certainly didn't complain about not already being exhausted! We flew into Atlanta (if you read my TR last year you can pick yourself up off the floor in now knowing that we did go back to that city - although - NEVER AGAIN!) and then to Orlando where we would stay at our home in Orlando, the Hyatt at MCO. When we planned this cruise we decided to do things differently so we were not comparing our cruise to last year. Our trip last year was amazing and I know things don't ever go as planned or rarely the same so this year the only thing that remained the same was the ship (down to the room we were in - OUR ROOM - 6092), our staying at the Hyatt, and our attitude which is no matter what happens, WE would have a great time and not discuss when we had to go home. When we woke up Saturday morning it was incredible at the lack of sleep we had and the amount of excitement that were spilling over with. Our cat, who HATES all things travel if it means we are leaving him home, had been stretched out on our suitcases for days. This morning, he thought we had lost our minds....Maddie at 7 1/2 and myself (slightly older than 7 1/2) were literally jumping up and down. The only thing that would stop me for a moment was the gripping fear of the airport after all of our luggage was lost. But then I would think of the ship, the wonder, the excitement, the absolute bliss, peace, magic and pixie dust and I was fine and ready to go, luggage or not! Our friend (THANK YOU GJM!!) picked us up for the airport, we kissed the cat and we were off! Of course, Maddie and I both were anxious about the flights....especially through Atlanta (see trip report from last year for hellish nightmare of grounded flights and lost luggage) but getting out of Myrtle Beach was no problem at all once we finally consented to hand over the luggage. We FINALLY arrived in MCO around 4:30. Maddie was such a trooper. I still say that I would travel to the moon with her as she is so great at keeping up with me and keeping her spirits up no matter what! (sorry....proud mom speech there ) Once at MCO we had to go down to the Disney transfer station with ALL OF OUR RECENTLY ARRIVED LUGGAGE in tow to get an extra luggage tag. By the way....in case anyone ever needs to know, they will gladly give you more and then take the bags no problem at all. We got there and I was shocked to see the line winding through what seemed to be all of eternity. One kind gentleman in the infamous blue and kaki suit walked over to us and ask us if he could help. When I told him what I needed he so sweetly (and at this moment became my new hero!) guided us to the side of the line where he walked behind the counter, grabbed some luggage tags and said, "no need to wait in line, you have a wonderful cruise." Whooo hooo!! NOW I knew we really were in Orlando the land of Mickey and all things great. Oh yea, at that moment is when we got a bit teary and so happy of all that was to come.....it is the service and the people giving that excellent service that makes the beautiful ship what it is to us. Once we had the extra luggage tag we were off to the Hyatt. It is SO nice to have "been there done that" this time. Knowing where to go and what to do took all the stress away. We checked into the Hyatt and were escorted to our beautiful room which we LOVED! It was just as we remembered - but completely different too as the view this year was an interior one overlooking the courtyard of MCO instead of the runway. It was nice because a part of me was afraid that some aspects of the trip would not seem as magical because we did know what to expect so this was an added bonus to us. Maddie proceeded to jump into the room and straight up onto the bed because we all know the number one rule (except for those who will flame me for this) at a hotel....YOU CAN JUMP ON THE BED! So she proceeded to watch Zac and Cody and jump for about 10 minutes until the thrill wore off and the female shopping gene kicked in. It was at that moment she remembered why she loved the Hyatt, aside from the comfy pillows and the cool pool on the roof....THE SHOPPING! "MOMMY! Can we go to the Disney Stores, Sea World, and Kennedy Space Center now??? I have MY money...can we can we can we????" Well.....what else would I say while on vacation with my dd sporting her own cash....WE WERE OFF TO THE STORES! Maddie looked at everything for all her friends back home and grandparents too but I had her hold off on that until the cruise and instead look for herself something. We were in a Disney Store when she found the jewelry that you make yourself....they are different colors of plastic held together by a silver clasp and then you add on your chosen charms. She was in love instantly! I had also fallen in love with a beautiful porcelain Tink! Maddie's favorite character EVER is Tink and has a section of her room devoted to her. I wanted to get this for her as a special gift from me, however although nobody else would ever notice it, this Tink had a small chip on the very back on the bottom. I ask the clerk (who soon became my NEXT hero!) if they had another one. Once he looked over the store he returned to me saying that no, they did not but that the manager had said they would take 10% off for the chip. I was not going to buy it, but Maddie had already seen it and loved it chip and all so I agreed. Then after much consideration Maddie had created her masterpiece bracelet and was also at the register with her wallet in hand (also Tink - what else!). The bracelet should have come to over $11 and Maddie knew this as she had added it up while making it. BUT....(here comes the hero part and the tears) the clerk looked at her, winked at me, and without missing a step said, "That will be $5.25 Miss." Maddie gave the wonderful Disney man her money and looked at me with questions in her eyes. The gentleman then leaned over to me and whispered, "I don't believe 10% was enough of a discount for a chip in Tink." I almost cried and Maddie knew it....I got the look of, "Oh no Mom, not now!" We walked just outside the store and Maddie told me the bracelet should have been $11.50 and she needed to tell the man inside. I then explained his kindness and THIS is when I really cried. She walked back into the store and gave him a hug telling him thank you. OK - that chipped Tink is now a prized possession with a wonderful story in our home. Once we had shopped and looked all over MCO we went to eat at Chili's - which we still loved! The service is great....food good and it's NOT fast food. We then headed back to the Hyatt when we saw a gorgeous German Sheppard in one of the stores. She was one of the MCO security dogs. We walked into the store where only her owner and the store clerk were. The owner proceeded to tell us all about Heidi and how she could understand 4 languages and then showed us a few examples as well as some tricks. We even learned how to say "sit down" in Russian which Maddie is still very happy to show off at anytime. I don't know why, but even the multi talented Heidi seemed magical to us. It was just so cool and everyone so kind. The gentleman even gave Maddie a card telling everything about her in great detail with her photo on the front. Heidi's card now has a special place in Maddie's room. Once we were back at the Hyatt we got dressed for bed and started the task of getting everything together to leave outside the room the next morning when we would BOARD THE SHIP!!!! Yippee!!!! We attached luggage tags, packed a small...very small day bag and we were DONE with any and all work! Poof! This was incredible to us because last year I spent what seemed like the entire night arranging travel docs and deciding what we needed in what bag and what we simply had to take with us. This year - piece of cake! It was a snap and I felt like I could make a how to DVD for packing for DCL and doing it simply. A HUGE improvement considering last year I thought I would die packing and stressing over it all. I also learned that NO MATTER what you forget (in my case this year - underwater camera...ok - so I'll hold off on my DVD making afterall) it really will not make a difference in your trip unless you allow it to. After the work was done we each hit the comfy pillows and drifted off to sleep with sweet salt water dreams of DCL the next day.......... I PROMISE to try and get to day 1 on the ship tomorrow evening. I'm going to also try and include photos with each post and then include a link to all pics at some point as well. Tomorrow - DAY ONE - arriving at the terminal and finding the most amazing CM EVER who began our cruise with more pixie dust than Tink herself and an amazing send off!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU - you know who you are! Kelly Pics to come in next post.