COMPLETED 2/1 - First TR Ever: A WDW Christmas trip, and the BEST Christmas gift I've ever received.

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by MeghanEmily, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Hoping for some readers for my very first Disney World trip report! I’ve read many a trip report since joining the DIS to get my “fix” leading up to this trip, and then we had such an AMAZING couple’s trip this Christmas that I just felt I needed to share.

    So the title of the report gives some vague hints…but let’s just say for now that this Christmas trip held some unbelievable memories and a few surprises…some bigger than others…

    I’ve never written a trip report before, but I’ve got lots of notes and photos to go from, so please be patient with me while I figure out the way the boards work.

    Here we go!!

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    How this trip came about: a couple’s trip for myself and my partner, Nathan, two Canadian millennials who love Disney. We went to The World for the first time as a couple in April/May 2016 (Nathan’s first Disney trip EVER, 6 nights at POP, did MK, AK, HS, Epcot, DS, and BB), and he fell so in love with it that he had to return ASAP. We booked for Christmas since it worked for our work/school schedules, but fully aware of what to expect in terms of crowds/variable temperatures, etc. As a gift to ourselves (mostly to me, a self-professed giraffe-fanatic) we splurged on a savannah view room at AKL, and my life was made.

    The WHO:

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    Meghan (Me!)
    • Slowly on the way to becoming a Disney World veteran (approx. a dozen trips in 23 years of life) but only been the primary planner for two trips.
    • Lover of all things Disney/Pixar
    • Difficult traveller—has dietary restrictions, and a brain condition that causes motion sickness and restrictions on some more intense rides. (Last trip in April 2016 was a celebration of my two-year “Brainniversary,” i.e. completing my neurosurgery recovery period.)
    • Struggles to walk the line between nerd/intellectual and GIANT SILLY CHILD.

    Nathan (“N” from here on out.)
    • Partner in crime for approx. 8 years. (Relationship began at ages 15 and 19 and continued off and on—mostly on—for the 8 years that followed.)
    • Recent WDW convert (this being his second trip)
    • Loves Pixar, classic Disney animation, and major Star Wars fan.
    • Stomach of steel and loves thrill rides and simulators.
    • Giant teddy bear/kind soul, chill dude but highly protective.

    I will try to keep up with this pretty regularly so I can get all the stories out while they’re still fresh and intersperse photos as they get sorted and edited. I can’t wait to let you get to know us, and to get to know all of you! Please feel free to let me know if you’re following along, or if you have any tips or anything to share. <3
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  2. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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  3. xlsm

    xlsm Snow White

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    I'm here and following!!

    Making chapter links isn't too hard. Let's see if I can explain it ok typing it out, and that it makes sense!

    At the end of each post you make on your thread, there's a little number at the bottom next to the like, quote, reply links. Right click on it and open it in a new tab. Then, in the post you've designated as your table of contents, click edit. The edit box will open, and you can type in whatever you want to call each link, like Chapter One, or whatever. Highlight the words and click the little icon next to the font size/color buttons that looks like two little chain links linked together. A box will open. Go to the tab you opened with your post, highlight and copy the address in the bar, then insert it in the box that popped up when you clicked the chain links. Click 'insert', and save your changes. "Chapter One", or whatever you typed in, will then link to that specific post.

    Does that make sense at all?? I'm not always great at explaining things via type!!

    I'm looking forward to reading about your trip. Since I'll be staying at AKL in May, I'm anxious to hear how you guys enjoyed your stay!!
     
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  5. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Okay, that seems like it could possibly be pretty straightforward. Thank you! I think I understand.

    We loved AKL and would definitely go back, but it was also our first time staying deluxe so we may have felt the same way about pretty much any deluxe just because of the extra level of service you receive and the theming, etc. We were in it mostly for the animals though, and also because we happened to love the theming/ambience (I know people can go either way on this) and wanted to eat multiple times at Boma, so it was a perfect fit. Other than a couple of mishaps waiting for slow busses, we didn't have a single bad thing to say about AKL! I was in love. (Won't confirm whether in love with N or the hotel. :tongue:)
     
  6. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Day 1: Travel Day. Joy.

    I. hate. to. fly. I hate it. Having a brain condition and being naturally prone to motion sickness anyway, I never fly well and always end up feeling sick and having pressure headaches. So this was the day I was most looking forward to getting over with.

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    (trying to make the best of it...)

    We flew out of Halifax, NS, Canada, as we live on the East Coast. We had had crazy variations of weather/temperatures in the three days prior to our trip, from a miniature blizzard/rain/freezing rain, and temps ranging from -29C (-20F) to 13C (55F). Fortunately, on our fly day it was raining and we got out almost on time, but there were many flights that had come in from other Canadian cities that were cancelled for weather. Phew!! I had chosen our trip dates based on when we could get direct flights, because as someone who hates flying it’s the best way to convince myself I can handle it; however, it turned out to be a verrrry good idea since we would have been delayed in many other Canadian cities if we’d been connecting.

    Our flight went fairly smoothly…as smoothly as possible for someone as anti-airplane as myself. N loves to fly, so he was super chill. (When we take off he gets that excited look on his face and I’m somewhere between envying/hating him, and too miserable to care. I swear I’m not a terrible partner all the time. Travel brings out the worst in me!) We had intended on watching Christmas movies (my guilty pleasure) on the flight and had even bought an earphone splitter and everything…but I hadn’t been feeling well before we left because of the weather (pressure changes mess with my poor little brain,) so I opted to kill two birds with one stone and drug up on Gravol (like Dramamine.) Needless to say, I slept off and on most of the way.

    We arrived at MCO, did the Magical Express deal…

    [Insert necessarily blurry night-time WDW sign picture here.]
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    …and finally made our way to Animal Kingdom Lodge! Oh my goodness, yes!! It was about 11:00 local time when we arrived, which felt like midnight to us, (still being on Atlantic Standard Time) so after some rushing to get settled, we hit the hay, ready for a busy day beginning in the morning.

    My mom had gotten me a Fitbit for Christmas and given it to me early for the trip, so I started keeping track of my steps each day. Travel days were not very active, but Disney days had an impressive amount of walking!

    Steps for day 1: 7285

    Thanks for sticking through the travel day. The real fun is about to begin... (and so are the decent photos!)
     
  7. DisneyLeafsFan2015

    DisneyLeafsFan2015 Earning My Ears

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    Ready to follow along!
     
  8. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Day 2: Epcot and other marginally (VERY)
    important
    GIANT adventures — PART 1


    Not all TR days should be broken into two parts, but this one should for ease of reading. So much happened!

    I woke up wide awake this morning at 5am, ready to start my day…until I realized how little sleep I’d gotten. (About 4-5 hours…) Party due to my brain condition, and partly because I can be a loud and growly bear, I need a lot of sleep. Oh well, this was Disney!!

    So at 5am, in the dark, I looked out from my balcony at AKL and could see a line of 4-5 medium sized animals (possibly waterbuck? Too dark to tell.) walking along the back of the Uzima savannah, and I got very excited for what this trip would have in store. I love animals. Someday, if I could handle the travel, I’d love to see Africa. And I am absolutely crazy about giraffes. Like, drop everything and run and stare and giggle and take photos endlessly if a giraffe comes into sight. Not having a large zoo at home, Disney trips are one of my only options to see giraffes, and it’s the main reason we made a major splurge on this vacation to stay at AKL: GIRAFFES. Forever grateful to N for agreeing.

    So today was an Epcot day, and we got up and out the door in good time. BUT FIRST, we had a breakfast reservation at Boma! I had fallen in love with this buffet a few years ago, and N did on our last trip, so we were seriously looking forward to it and booked it several times over the course of the trip. Having dietary restrictions, it means so much to me that they are so knowledgeable and handle my food so carefully there. We love the variety of things you can try here: enough new African-inspired dishes to keep us excited, but also some North-American familiar favourites. We had the most delicious breakfast, and N complained long after about how hard it was to waddle around after all that amazing bread pudding.

    The first of my many allergy-friendly Mickey waffles…
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    Next up we hit Epcot for rope drop just a few minutes before opening. Today would seem to be the last day of decent crowd levels before the Christmas rush began, so lines weren’t too crazy even close to 9am. Because of my ineptitude with all the cool rides at Epcot, we decided to rope drop Joy/Sadness and Baymax instead. Many times I offered to let N go on his own to do thrill-type things, but he often opted to stick it out with me. (Until we got to Universal. Then I forced him and he loved me for it.)

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    Since I don’t do a lot of bigger rides, I love doing character meets. On his first trip, N didn’t really understand the whole meet-and-greet thing, but he quickly learned they were important to me, so he made a sincere effort this time to be more enthused. I appreciated it.

    See the following slew of photos of my super excited morning of meetings: (Still a child inside…and out.)
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    (Baymax was the one character N thought was genuinely pretty cool. He loved when he poked him and Baymax's head rolled down to try to look. Go figure.)

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    After this we checked a few rides off the list: Figment, Living with the Land (a favourite for us both,) and Nemo. We still had a fair bit of time until our lunch at Teppan Edo, so we lined up for a few Photopass pics before moving on to World Showcase. We had been toying with the idea of a summer trip at the end of August so we were thinking about upgrading our tickets to annual passes. I hadn’t intended to buy Memory Maker on this trip, but knowing Photopass would be included with our APs, we started taking advantage of more of the PP photographers.

    We made our way around World Showcase. Now being from Canada, we think the Canadian Pavilion is kinda campy and a ridiculous representation of our country…and yet still find it SO pretty. We were keeping the idea of a Disney Escape wedding at Canada Terrace in mind for future, so we thought we’d walk around and check out all its nooks and crannies this trip. Lovely!

    At this point I was getting warm and tired. It was really hot for December, and I hadn’t had much sleep, so we popped from one air conditioned location to the next, exploring shops and whatnot, until we got to Japan and checked in for our lunch.

    This was our first experiences with Teppan Edo, or any kind of Japanese teppanyaki steakhouse for that matter, and we were appropriately impressed. I took a 15-minute video of Chef Ken’s cooking performance, but suffice it to say that he was fab. (There are lots of videos on Youtube if you've never seen it done.) I was a little concerned about cross-contamination with my allergies on the grill, but he cooked my food first and I didn’t seem to get sick.

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    After waddling out of Japan after lunch, we finished the round of WS, before boarding Spaceship Earth for one of our FP selections, and then decided to return to the resort for an afternoon nap/animal watching. (The afternoon break has kind of become our park touring MO.)

    Little did I know that the “GIANT adventures” were about to begin…
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  9. Plucker001

    Plucker001 Mouseketeer

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    Following! The Photopass pictures are really cute!
     
  10. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for following along!

    We had fun with our Photopass this time around. We'll be going back with a larger group before the year is out, so we're looking forward to getting their pictures, too.
     
  11. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Day 2: Epcot and other marginally (VERY)
    important GIANT adventures — PART 2

    …where were we? Ahh, yes. The afternoon resort break of Epcot Day. So this was the first opportunity we had to take a nap and take advantage of the resort. We trudged back to our room, and while N flopped on the bed, I went out to the balcony to check out the wildlife. I was disappointed to see that the savannah was pretty bare. I pulled out my camera and binoculars and made the best of the pelicans and other birds while also taking a few notes for this TR.

    All of a sudden I looked off to my right, and at the very edge of the savannah I could see three giraffes walking into view! I was so overwhelmed and excited, I didn’t even have the words (or want to waste the time) to go in and tell N the giraffes had arrived! I was afraid I’d miss some amazing moment or photograph. So instead I just reached behind me and knocked and banged on the glass window to the balcony. Out of the corner of my eye I could see N come out on to the balcony beside me, but my focus was on the giraffes through the lens of my camera.
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    N asked me, “Is this the best day of your life?”

    To which I responded, “Pretty close!”

    Then he said, “Can I make it better?”

    I turned around to see him on one knee with an open ring box in his hands. He asked me to marry him, and I said that of course I would. We hugged and kissed…and then I asked him if I could take more giraffe pictures. He sighed and laughed at me, and we held each other on the balcony as I took more photos.
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    We decided to walk down to the public lookouts outside the lobby of the resort, and there were more giraffes surprisingly close by. (For the record, the afternoon break is the perfect opportunity to see animals at AKL because it’s when they’re being fed. We tended to see animals out and about any time between 2:30pm and 6pm on our trip.) I took some more photos, and then we chatted with a cast member from Botswana who was giving information about the animals. He was interested in cameras and photography, so he asked me some questions about my SLR and told me about his. He noticed my ring and overheard us talking about our engagement, and he was so excited for us that he asked if he could take a photo of us on my camera:
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    Afterward we went to the front desk and asked for buttons to celebrate our engagement. (Turns out we got “Just Engaged” pins there which had been discontinued and disappeared from most of WDW about a year ago, and along with the dozens of “Congratulations!” we received each day, cast members were asking us the rest of the week where we got them.) Proudly sporting our buttons, and me with my ring, we hopped back on the Epcot bus for our next FP and dinner reservation.

    Let me just say now that this day seemed to be filled with the biggest highs and lows possible for me. I should explain now that I am severely emetophobic, which means I have an irrational fear of vomit. Even writing about it in this post makes me slightly uncomfortable. I look away or change the channel if someone is sick on TV. I have a brain condition that makes me perpetually nauseas, and yet I refuse to allow myself to be sick almost 100% of the time. So when we were on the bus to Epcot and N suddenly looked worried and told me calmly to just keep looking at him, and then to plug my nose, I knew exactly what had happened. I tried not to panic and just kept talking to him for the five minutes of the ride that remained, never breaking eye contact. I made it to the park ok and got off the bus as fast as I possibly could, but what I didn’t realize until I was told later was that the little girl directly across from me on the bus had just vomited and it had landed about an inch from my feet. Shuddering just thinking about it.

    Once at Epcot, we walked around a bit to calm my nerves, took some more Photopass pictures, and made our way to our next FP.
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    I had been seriously looking forward to Frozen Ever After after hearing all the great reviews about it, and I had avoided any videos or anything so there would be no spoilers. I was sad that N would never experience Maelstrom, but Frozen did NOT disappoint! It was fabulous! Because the boats go backwards for a fair bit, I probably couldn’t do it twice in a row without feeling a little seasick, but I was crazy about it. N put up with it for me, but even he thought the animatronics and the ride progression were really well done.
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    Our dinner that night was at Le Cellier in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot, which was a first for both of us. Yes, we ate steak for lunch AND dinner this day. I have no shame. Both times were delicious. I think we both ordered the filet mignon (Go big or go home on the dining plan, I guess,) but mine was done with the risotto swapped out for some vegetables instead for allergy reasons. Apparently when they saw our "Just Engaged" pins, they had these "personalized" menus that they brought to our table for us. A very neat touch.
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    We’re from Canada, which made it cool enough, but they told us that the restaurant was divided into sections to represent the Canadian provinces, and that we were sitting in the New Brunswick section. (New Brunswick is on the east coast and is one of the smallest and least well-known parts of Canada.) Our waitress asked us, “Did you know that New Brunswick is the home of the McDonald’s McFlurry?” …”And us!” we said. N and I are both originally from N.B. Which was a wild coincidence, seeing how small the population is there. Later they began telling us about Canadian maple syrup…to which N responded that his father owned/ran a maple sugarbush for years! …hehe, I guess we took all their thunder…but it was an amazing meal! I ended up with fruit for dessert because of allergies (why are fruit salads always full of melons?? The only fruit I don’t particularly like…) but N ordered a chocolate mousse…which they served like this… Moose Mousse!
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    It was nice to be surrounded by our people (so much “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Sorry!”) but we said goodbye and went on our way. I had swapped out a FP for N to go on Mission Space Orange if he wanted to, but it ended up being right after our dinner. He had never been on, and while he doesn’t really ever get motion sick, this ride is unlike any other. He debated, and even with a full stomach decided to give it a try. Apparently big mistake. He didn’t get sick, but he felt pretty headachey and gross the rest of the evening.

    It poured rain while he was on the ride, but then it cleared when he came out, so we returned to the resort, more than ready for sleep. When we got there, the perfect end to the night: another giraffe was right outside our window in the dark. The rest of the trip would have a hard time topping this day, but I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

    Steps for Day 2: 26189
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
    brittanidp, Klinger13 and xlsm like this.
  12. DisneyLeafsFan2015

    DisneyLeafsFan2015 Earning My Ears

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    Congrats on the engagement! Great meal to celebrate it. N is pretty brave to go on Orange level MS on a full stomach. Looking forward to the rest of your report.
     
  13. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Thank you! We were basking in the glow of it all at this point. :-) N has always been the braver of the two of us. Or the craziest.
     
  14. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily Mouseketeer

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    Day 3: Animal Kingdom, Blisters, and Changes of Plans — PART 1

    I would tell you when I woke up this morning, but it would be easier to write about the times I was asleep. N is the loudest and most violent sleeper I know, and many nights end up with me waking him up, telling him to roll over, or banishing him to finish the night sleeping in a bathtub, etc. This time I thought I would try sleeping with ear plugs, but they bothered my ears and kept me up most of the night.
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    We took our time getting ready in the morning because AK didn’t open until 9 and we didn’t have our Tusker House breakfast until after 10. Apparently we ended up being slower than planned, though. When we got to the buses around 8:30 or so, the next bus wasn’t scheduled to leave until 8:53 (or so the new bus screens at AKL told us. However, the time kept changing. Next it said 8:53, then 8:59, 9:04, 9:07, etc.) So eventually we opted to take a cab rather than waste all our park time. (I had been hoping to get on the safari, my favourite ride, once before our breakfast.) We split a cab with folks from Montana who were already late for a breakfast reservation, but by the time we got there it was a bit after 9am, and by the time we got to Africa the safari had a 35 minute wait. Guess that would be our first change of plans. Instead we took some Photopass photos and then did the Gorilla Falls/Pangani Forest trail.

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    Heading back to Tusker House we still had another 5-10 minutes before I’d feel comfortable checking in early, so we stopped to watch some drummers/performers setting up on the street. They were friendly and great artists, but the one dancer/singer down on street level was wild! He saw our pins and came over to chat with us. I don’t usually have trouble with accents, but for some reason I was having a harder time understanding him. And my mind was in another sleep-deprived place, so I spent most of the following conversation/game confused. It went like this:

    Performer: Kids!?
    Me: NOT YET!
    Performer: (looks at N) Say 10.
    N: 10?
    Performer: (looks at me) Say 8.
    Me: (Not understanding) …?
    Performer: Say 8.
    Me: ??? (getting confused and worked up.)
    N: (looks at me expectantly.) ?
    Performer: (looks at N) Uh oh! Guess you’re having 10 kids!!!
    Me: What??
    N: WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY 8???

    [​IMG]
    (10 Kids Man. On the upside, he told me to bring them all back to AK and he'd babysit.)

    After that scary little conversation we checked in at Tusker House and had an awesome server who told us all about how he got engaged under a rainbow and teased us a lot. I had great allergy-friendly breakfast, including more waffles.

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    After breakfast, still disappointed about the safari, we took a look at wait times. We had no other important plans until dinner time, and we were finding that this was the first day of near-Christmas crowds. When the app showed MK having some shorter waits, we decided to take the bus directly over there and give it a shot. Before leaving we decided to bite the bullet and upgrade our tickets to APs since we were now engaged and would definitely be coming back in August for a Disney wedding!

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    Unfortunately by the time we got to MK it was near lunch time and wait times had suddenly jumped. Should have expected that since it’s not my first rodeo, but oh well. We took some more pictures (my theory was the longer the vacation went the less I would feel like doing hair/makeup, so better to get more photos early!) and then tried to find somewhere less crazy for quick service lunch. We settled on Columbia Harbour House, and still ended up waiting about 30 minutes to order, and another 15 for allergy-friendly food, but everything was hot and tasty.

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    By this time our feet had already started developing blisters. I was doing ok in broken-in sneakers, but N’s sneakers were bothering him, so we opted to take the train back to the front of the park. N had never ridden it and it was nice to get off our feet. We returned to AKL for yet another afternoon for a break and took advantage of the pool.

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  15. xlsm

    xlsm Snow White

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    Congratulations!! I love that the engagement involved giraffes...that won me over immediately!

    (also, I love your nail polish!)
     
  16. Stitch808

    Stitch808 Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations on the engagement! I proposed on our trip in December as well. Planning on starting my TR soon after going through all the pictures!
     
  17. Plucker001

    Plucker001 Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations on your engagement!
     
  18. TCB in FLA

    TCB in FLA Mouseketeer

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    What a wonderful engagement story! Congrats!

    Very much enjoying your TR, esp the great pictures.
     
  19. ChaseTheWind

    ChaseTheWind You are valued.

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    Congratulations on your engagement! You look so happy!
     
  20. Dentam

    Dentam Dreaming of Disney

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    Just found your report! What an awesome engagement story! Look forward to reading more about your trip!
     
  21. adisneyaunt

    adisneyaunt LTD

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    Congratulations! Enjoying ur TR!
     

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