When I shared my plans to take our family to Disney World, several people said our two-year-old was too young. She wouldnt remember it. Well, frankly folks, I planned this trip for myself, and although she might not remember, Ill never forget the magic in my daughters eyes when she first saw Mickey Mouse. My family is a Disney family. I remember driving from New York to Florida for our annual holiday and pulling off the road in a part of Florida where no one ever went, to check out the visitor center that detailed the plans for the future Walt Disney World. We were there the year WDW opened and I remember the ticket packets we used for various rides. How we coveted those E tickets and tried to barter with each other to garner more of them. Two Cs and a few As sometimes got you another trip on the Jungle Cruise! So, it was with absolutely no trepidation that I planned for myself, my husband John, our 18-year-old son Jonny, and our two-year-old daughter Lucy, to experience the magic! Beginning on June 27, 2001, we spent four days at the Polynesian Resort, followed by four days cruising on the Disney Wonder, a new experience for us all. The Land Experience We upgraded our reservation at the Polynesian to stay in a lagoon-view room in the Tahiti building. We had unobstructed views of the castle and Space Mountain, and our patio was a few steps away from the white sand beach of the lagoon, a hammock and a cabana. It was glorious, if a bit of a walk from the Great Ceremonial House. Honestly, with a toddler, there was more than one occassion when we wished for a ride on one of those laundry/maintenance carts. The staff was always friendly and politely refused due to regulations with a friendly aloha. Our daughter was taken with the hospitality of the staff and began uttering a-lo-ha to anyone who came her way. The walkways were beautifully landscaped and on one occassion we saw a momma duck and her seven babies crossing the lawn, and another time we saw a bunny hopping about in the bushes. The gardenias were still in bloom and very fragrant. The hibiscus were bountiful. We confined our explorations to the Magic Kingdom, DisneyQuest, and Animal Kingdom. We planned to get to Typhoon Lagoon, but simply ran out of steam! We took advantage of early admission to the MK and headed straight over to Fantasyland. The lines were do-able and we never wasted more than 10 minutes for anything other than Dumbo! Of course we had to ride Dumbo (the one with the orange hat) twice. We were fortunate to have an E-Night during our visit, so we saved all the big-kid rides for then, when we literally walked straight on every available ride. (Be sure to check your check-in pamphlets for one about E-Nights. It is well worth the 12 bucks to get in.) Our daughter is very tall and she just made the height requirement for Splash Mountain. It was pure luck that as we climbed the big hill, we saw fireworks coloring the night sky! Tinkerbell was very accommodating! DisneyQuest is an adolescents dream, but Ill admit to having great fun there, too! One evening, my son and I went all by ourselves while my husband and daughter ordered a room-service supper and watched the fireworks from the patio. DisneyQuest is a bit confusing with its separate up and down staircases located in different places on each floor. The Cheesecake Factory Cafe is also situated on different floors with different offerings at each site. That makes it difficult for multiple members of a party to each get what they want to eat. Jonny and I decided on a pizza and sat down to review the pamphlet guide. The pizza was spendy even with the Disney Club discount but tasty, and we chose several attractions to target. The lines were manageable that evening (when Jonny returned the next afternoon with John, it was packed to the rafters), and we got in to everything within 10 minutes. The Buzz Lightyear bumper cars are not to be missed. I tried to drive while Jonny fired the cannon at the other cars. We did manage to hit a few targets. It was also fun getting bumped. When youre hit you spin out of control with laughter as much as with motion. As always, the ride was over too soon. My favorite was the virtual reality river-rafting ride. You actually get wet! We had so much fun trying to paddle and maneuver around rocks and waterfalls. It was hard to paddle while laughing hysterically. We must have been entertaining to the folks waiting in line for another attraction, because when we finished the course, they applauded us heartily! There is essentially nothing at DisneyQuest for kids under 10 to do. They probably wont make the height requirements. We saw several families dragging little ones around saying you cant over and over again. I was glad John and Lucy had other plans. Animal Kingdom is grand, exotic, and loaded with mosquitoes! My poor baby was an all-you-cat-eat buffet judging by the welts we were aggressively treating with anti-itch cream that evening. We spent the morning saying we have to get back here. There was just enough time to ride the Safari, Dinosaur, and the Kali River Rapids rides. We had little or no waits at each of these, but we were there at 8 a.m. and headed straight for each, starting with the Safari. The Safari ride was bumpy and not good for video taping, although John tried and got some very funny home video style footage. We saw a lion and lioness lounging on a rocky display, and baby hippos submerged in a pond with their mothers. The ride was entertaining but awfully fast, and we would have opted to ride again if we werent trying to make an 11 a.m. Rainforest Cafe lunch reservation. The Dinosaur ride was scary. Too scary for Lucy, but not lasting. I worried needlessly about nightmares that never materialized. The walkway to the Kali River Rapids ride is framed by two tall poles that serve as monkey houses. You can hear the monkeys call to each other before you even approach the ride. Be prepared, you will get wet. My husband got soaked and was a good advertisement for the ride everywhere else we went. I wished we had more time at Animal Kingdom. We missed the not-to-be-missed Lion King Show. We didnt have time to view the Tree of Life carvings or walk the nature trails. We simply must get back there and plan for a full day. See Part 2 for the conclusion of our land experience. Our sea experience will be posted in subsequent offerings.