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Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by estherhead, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    We knew going into this trip that we had a lot of kids. 4 adults. 7 kids under 11. 2 kids under 2. But we were surprised by just how many people stopped us & told us we were just like Jon & Kate plus Eight. One woman told me she thought I was amazing. The best mom ever. I’ll take it!

    So, just who was this crazy crew
    Biting off more than they could chew?

    Perla: Me! I’m a fairly agreeable person, if I do say so myself. I believe in planning but I also believe in going with the flow & taking one for the team. That’s probably a good label for me. I’m a team player. Whatever the team needs, there I am.

    Donald: My dh. Total Disney-lover. Really up for any vacation I suggest as long as it isn’t with crazy people (yes, we’ve tried that: choose travel partners with care.) Adores spending time with his three girls, loves swimming.

    Mulan: Our eldest: 8 years old. Serious, but loves to laugh. Struggled a little bit on this trip as she knew it wasn’t all real and was a bit jealous of those less grounded in reality. But personally, I very much enjoy my “feet planted firmly on the ground” Mulan.

    Ariel: Our middle: 6.5 yeas old. Sunny, sunny person, sings constantly but things hurt her feeling very deeply. She is obsessed with thrill rides. Normally likes quiet time but mostly spent this trip chasing her father manically around the parks.

    Boo: 21 months old. The most observant baby of all of mine. She doesn’t talk, she watches. Mama’s girl all the way.

    Suzy: My sister. She’s a mom. And on this trip I think she felt her mom-ness more than normal. Organized, structured, passionate, and adores Disney.

    Milo: My b-i-l, married to Suzy. Did you know Disney had a movie about a linguist? No? Well my b-i-l is not a linguist, but since he actually knows what the difference between a linguist and whatever he is, than Milo is his best fitting Disney character. You can find Milo in Disney by looking for the only man sitting on a park bench with his nose in a leather bound book that is 20 pounds of boring. He loves Epcot and will hold it against me for quite awhile if I make him go see some unplanned, random nature thing at AK.

    Charming (as in Prince): 11 years old. Loves to be loved & liked. Quite charming. Quite handsome. Teenager before his time. Spends a huge amount of time listening to country music on his headphones & not listening to anything we say. Very helpful with his younger brothers, almost an adult. Almost.

    Buzz: 8 year old. He is focused on what he is focused on and completely clueless to anything going on in the real world around him. Because of this he is amazingly happy. Wouldn’t you like to be immune to anything happening around you?

    McQueen: (as in Lightening) 5 years old: Headstrong, hotheaded, and talkative. But super cute. To him, this was his first trip to WDW. He was a big boy & ready to ride!

    Jack-Jack: 1 year old. One word can describe Jack-Jack. Smile. He is just one giant smile.

    So that is the whole crew. The adults are all in our thirties and our kids range from 1-11. Perla & Donald have all the girls. Suzy & Milo have all the boys so it should be easy to keep us separate.

    The planning begins:

    So, early in 2008 my sister & I decided it was high time we took a real life trip to Disney. We hashed out all the details & discussed all of our options. We settled on a 10 day trip over Thanksgiving and the following week. The kids would only miss 4 days of school & the crowds would taper off after Sunday.

    1st Where to stay? We decided to rent a house nearby since we have so many kids & felt they were a bit too young to share a room by themselves. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find the search for a vacation rental house to be exhausting. They sincerely all start looking the same after about 15 minutes.

    In our endless, days long search, one stood out. The Magic Palace in Windsor Hills. It has a princess room, a Winnie the Pooh room, and a Mickey room, as well as it’s own pool and 2 well decorated adult rooms. And it was super close to Disney. Done. We booked it & paid for it.

    2nd we chose ticket options. Donald & I had thoroughly enjoyed our water parks & more option and decided to go with that. So Suzy & Milo followed suit, one big reason was for DisneyQuest. Buzz has Asperger’s and video games are his thing. He LOVES electronics. Did I mention he LOVES electronics. Loves. Loves. Loves. And this would be his first time at Disney Quest. The other reason we chose them was for Pleasure Island so we adults could both have a date night. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well! Anyhow, we ended up buying 7 day park hoppers with water parks. We used our stimulus checks in the summer to buy them.

    3rd we had to decide to fly or drive. We live 14 hours away so it is always a discussion. We’ve driven/flown about 50/50. Both are enjoyable. But when the gas climbed to $4.00 we decided that flying was cheaper. We got a great deal on Airtran & booked. We specifically chose not to fly together. We thought it would be a bit chaotic to all be together & we wanted to establish early on with the kids that we were two separate family units, not one giant family. I think this worked well.

    4th What to drive while down there. Milo & Suzy were the ones who really had trickiness as they are a family of 6 so they had to have a van. Vans were between $600-1000 for the 10 days. Yikes! They just felt like they could not afford that. So the search continued & continued. Finally, Suzy found a deal & purchased of Hotwire. It ended up being about $350.00 at Alamo (on-site) for the 10 days for a van. After that, I decided to do the same deal & get the van too just so we would have more options on who would go with who. This ended up being genius on our part. But more to come on that later.

    5th The itinerary. This is where our title comes from. Our wonderful itinerary. After many months of discussion we decided to have an actual step by step itinerary. I realize that this is not recommended and most people like to go with the flow. But the reality for our families is two fold. One, Milo & Buzz are not go with the flow kind of people. And they have the capability of making us all miserable. So go with the flow was out. And waiting in lines is out too. 10 minutes and less no matter what. Yes, even for Toy Story Mania. That was the goal.

    Second, we felt that we knew the parks well enough to be able to write a doable step by step plan. We lived on the Disboards. I signed up with Tour Guide Mike & she bought Touring Plans. We came up with an itinerary & made our dining reservations 180 days out. We figured with 11 people we better be very prepared.

    Of course things changed here & there. We revised things as new info came. But in the end this is what we had printed out & with us:

    27th Thursday –
    Arriving Orlando, FL (MCO) at 10:05 AM
    Alamo: Minivan
    Go to Blizzard Beach?
    Check into house around 1:00 p.m.
    Go shopping at Wal-Mart for supplies

    Dinner: Tacos

    28th Friday –
    7:00 AM Awaken & dress
    8:00 AM Out the door
    Charming & Perla skip & get FP’s for PP
    All of Fantasyland (check Tink line)
    Haunted Mansion
    Get FP for Thunder Mt.
    Ride Splash Mt.
    Ride Thunder Mt. with FP
    Ride Train to Main St.

    Date night: Milo & Suzy to Epcot
    Dinner: chicken nuggets and French fries

    29th Saturday –
    AK by 8 am for rope drop (enter thru Rainforest Café if there by rope drop)
    Ride Expedition Everest
    Ride Primeval Whirl
    Ride Dinosaur (Get FPs if line) (small kids ride Triceratop Spin & play Boneyard)
    10:30 am Tusker House breakfast Table of 8, table of 4
    Do Pangani Trail
    Do the Maharajah Jungle Trek
    See Nemo
    See Lion King (depending on show times)
    See Tough to Be a Bug
    Get Stroller from swap

    Date night: Perla & Donald Cirque du Soleil at 6:00 p.m. Raglan Road 7:45 p.m. table for 2
    Dinner: frozen pizzas

    30th Sunday –
    Don’t wake to an alarm but try to be at:
    Blizzard Beach by 10 am for rope drop if not raining or too cold. Stake out a great Beach spot. Daddies take big kids to wild rides. Mommies play with babies on beach.
    Meet in Lazy River.

    Go home for lunch.

    Disneyquest. Don’t try to do big stuff, just mess around on the arcade games.

    If it is raining, just do Disneyquest & DTD

    1st Monday –
    DHS at rope drop
    Ride Toy Story; Get FP on our way out
    Star Tours & Jedi Training 9:45 a.m.
    Backlot Tour/babies to 10:30/11:20 Playhouse Diz?
    If time: use FP’s for Toy Story
    Split-up: Donald & Perla go to Disney Animation & Little Mermaid Milo & Suzy go to: 11:00 a.m. Indiana Jones & if time Sound’s Dangerous
    Meet at Sci-Fi; One adult go get FP’s for Tower of Terror 12:20 p.m. ADR: Sci-Fi Thomas, Esther 11 people: 3 tables
    Beauty & the Beast at 2:15 while those who need to ride Rockin’ RollerCoaster (single rider line!)
    Use FP at Tower of Terror
    Get snack & take to Lights, M., A. at 4:30 p.m.
    See Muppets
    Get Pizza Planet If family’s separate during the afternoon, meet here at 6:00 p.m.
    Fantasmic at 7:00pm (be there by 6:30)

    2nd Tuesday –

    MK day but not together

    Space Mountain
    Indy Speedway
    Goofy’s Barnstormer
    Mickey’s House and Tent
    Buzz Lightyear
    Laugh Floor
    Carousel of Progress
    Jungle Cruise
    Swiss Family Robison
    Tiki Birds
    Aladdin’s Carpets
    Pirate’s of the Caribbean
    Dream along with Mickey

    Free evening. Possibly Downtown Disney, take-out if not

    3rd Wednesday –
    Epcot at 9:00 am for rope drop.
    Ride Spaceship Earth
    One person get FP’s for Soarin & meet fam at Crush
    Ride Nemo & do Crush
    Meet the characters
    Ride Soarin’
    Someone go get FP’s for M:Space
    Split for Figment & Universe of Energy
    Ride Test Track
    Ride Mission:Space

    Pack a light lunch to take into Epcot.

    Go to MK for:
    Spectro at 7:00 pm, Wishes at 8:00 pm

    4th Thursday –
    Epcot for lunch
    Rose & Crown 12:10 p.m. 2 tables
    See Off Kilter at 2:30
    See Canada movie
    Do Kim Possible if available
    See shows as we wander around Showcase
    Eat dinner at counter service
    Illuminations wherever we are

    5th Fri - Disneyquest at opening for all the cool big games. Blizzard Beach again for just the beach aspect, or chill at our own pool.

    Dinner: leftovers or take-out

    6th Sat –
    Departing Orlando, FL (MCO) at 12:00 PM
    Arriving Dayton, OH (DAY) at 02:12 PM

    Time must leave house is 10 a.m.

    So that was the master plan. We next worked on a grocery list, making matching t-shirts, and kid's itineraries and presents for every morning. And then packing. It really did take a whole year to plan.

    Would it live up to our dreams?
    Could we really follow the itinerary?
    Would we wait in line longer than 10 minutes?

    And our biggest question of all, would illness ruin our trip? We had all caught every cold & flu bug that had come near us for the past 3 months. We had our doubts about there being even one healthy person on the whole trip.

    Stay tune for tons of photos & the whole story and you too can learn How to Disney with 7 kids and no lines.
  2. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    So we started out on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Donald & I were packing up and the girls were off to school. Naturally, they didn’t want to go to school, but we made them. We could get a lot more accomplished without them! And we weren’t really flying out until the next day so it would be a silly absent.

    I am the marketing manager & vice president at my father’s small (30 employees) heating & cooling business. We had a business meeting at 8:00 a.m. on this day also which added a level of stress as ya’ll may know, the economy isn’t that great! So I was back at home by 10 a.m. It’s only a 1 mile drive from my house.

    Suzy is the treasurer and also was scheduled to be at this meeting. But lo & behold she awakened to a sick Jack-Jack. She herself had been ill with a terrible sore throat and she spent most of this day trying to decide if they should go to the doctor or not. I was against it as I said they could always go to a doctor down in Florida and I didn’t think they would give the baby anything at this point. She finally decided not to take him in, but it wasn’t that fun trying to pack with a sick baby.

    I, on the other hand, was obsessively checking the weather and there were some days in our 10 day forecast that said a high of 61 degrees! Yikes. So I threw in an extra pair of jeans for everyone. I was very well prepared at this point and pretty much packed the night before because of the meeting. It ended up being a good thing as Boo was a big ole crank butt this entire day! Can I just say, she isn’t the easiest baby in the world?

    At 11:00 a.m. I decided to take a chill pill and throw in frozen French fries for our lunch and watched a saved CSI. By 12:30 Donald was home & we ate and chit chatted about our final plans.

    Here he is making sure he has everything on his fancy-schmancy Mac that we were taking with us.

    At 1:30 we started our final push. It took us only 45 minutes. It was a miracle. We went to the girl’s school to pick them up.

    This is the point in the trip where I start freaking out that I am forgetting something. I actually wasn’t too bad. I just kept chanting “They have Wal-Mart in Florida.” Cause, really, what emergency could I have forgotten that I couldn’t buy there?

    As for the big things, like our WDW tickets, Boo’s birth certificate, and our air & rental car reservation numbers, I was clutching them in my hand. So I knew we were good on that front!

    Once we had the girls we called one of Donald’s sisters to see if she wanted to hang out with us. He has 4 sisters and they all live within 15 minutes of each other. The first sister we called was busy. So we called the next one. And her plans had cancelled so we told them we would be at there house by five. Our girls were thrilled as they would get to see their favorite cousins. Yeah! It’s vacation already.

    We went to Half Price Books and I got a book on scrapbooking and then I went to Michaels which was a very long walk from the book store. I just kept telling myself it was nothing compared to Disney walking. But it was cold and with the threat of illness surrounding me I tried to keep my ears covered.

    After meeting up with his sister and fam, we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. We all ended up getting breakfast for dinner. We had a super weird server. He was really creeping me out. He had this huge vocabulary and an ironic sense of humor. Which is all fine & dandy but I’m not sure I should know that about my server. I feel like I know a bit more about him than I would like to.

    But other than him, we had a great time, fun conversation. We cruised around the gift shop to practice our Disney shopping.

    It really did feel like we were on vacation even though we were still in Ohio. At the last moment I bought a pecan pie as we were leaving. We went back to their house and played cards and ate that super yummy pie. Even the vacation, no rules, eating was starting early!


    Mulan has a cousin who is just a few days older than her. So while we ate & played Ariel & Mulan practiced their High School Musical skills.

    While this was going on something bizarre happened. Boo stabbed herself in the eye with her fingernail. Donald thought at first she was just being whiny, which isn’t that unusual, but he couldn’t deny the swollen eye. It was a weird injury. She screamed quite awhile and I really hoped she had not done true damage.


    Sooner rather than later, it was time to head to Donald’s parents house to sleep so we could get up for our early flight. They were on vacation so we had the run of the place. Which wasn’t all that fun since we just went to bed. We had opted to do this because they live 1.5 hours closer to the airport. It required some extra packing on my part because we needed an overnight bag & I would have to drop all our toiletries in our checked bags at the last minute, but it worked out well.

    Actually, the whole day 0 worked out perfectly.
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  4. Leleluvsdis

    Leleluvsdis DIS Veteran

    Jan 24, 2007
    popcorn:: MORE MORE MORE!!!!! please:cutie:
  5. catinthehat35

    catinthehat35 DIS Veteran

    Mar 16, 2005
    This is a great trip report. I followed it over from the KP Mission thread. We were at Disney over Thanksgiving week as well. I can't wait to read more. I love the pictures.
  6. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    I have readers! Hi guys!

    It's comin'. I'm uploading photos right now!

    I always love photo TRs too. Don't worry, more photos are coming!
  7. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    Well, the night before had ended at 10:00 p.m. We had all slept in the same room, Donald, myself, and the baby in a giant king sized bed and the girls on the floor. We were, of course, all hyper and they could not settle down. Mulan had a giant accident burp in the silence which made us all start giggling. This, naturally, led to fake burps. And more giggling. I finally had to yell at them to zip it up & go to sleep. But internally I was wishing I could just bottle up the giggles & keep them for later. You know, like in 20 years when I’m having a bad time, just whip out those giggles and let them into the room to cheer me up.

    Those were my thoughts as I drifted to sleep.

    Unfortunately, the peacefulness was broken by my excitedness at 3:30 am when I woke to look at the clock. I kind of drifted back to sleep & the next time I checked the clock it was 4:12. Then 4:30. Then 4:40. At that point I got up. Our flight was at 8:00 am and we had about an hour drive, more or less. We were planning on leaving at 5.

    Donald, myself, and Ariel all awoke in a wonderful mood, despite it being 4:40 a.m. We were ready to party. Dancing and singing were immediate. Which is good considering Donald is NOT a morning person. Mulan is also not a morning person and just kept chanting for the entire 20 minutes, “It’s just stupid to get up this early. Stupid. It’s just so stupid.”

    Boo is also not a morning person. And she was not amused. At all. She simply refused to be awakened.


    But after much struggling I got her ready to go & we all piled in the van.


    The air was crisp and the stars were gorgeous. It was a very easy, beautiful ride.

    Which ended in utter chaos. Put on your mom hat & put all fear of being a spectacle in the overhead compartment. We arrived at the budget airport parking lot only to discover that the entire thing was covered in a sheet of ice. What we should have done was drop all of our stuff & me & the kids at the airport & then Donald go get the car. But we didn’t do that. No.

    We parked on a sheet of ice. And then tried to drag our 3 huge suitcases, 1 large carseat, 1 baby in a stroller, 4 carry-ons, and 4 misc. backpacks across said sheet of ice to the awaiting, already full shuttle bus. It was terrifying. Embarrassing. And utterly not safe. I was just praying that no one would break a bone. Please, God, do not let someone break a bone. Or twist an ankle.

    Finally, we were near the bus. No less than 3 men got off the bus to help us stow our luggage. And then a very nice person gave the baby, who was crying, and I her seat. I was so grateful that all the people on this shuttle bus were in a good mood as I was very sure that Boo could have put anyone in a bad mood. I certainly was not feeling as excited as I was 10 minutes ago! Once we started going she settled down and sucked on the binky & played with my hair. The bus was the first place someone called me “Kate.”

    We arrived at the airport & everyone helped us get our bags & children off the bus. Once on safe cement, we could handle the bags fairly easily. The girls did their part and we got in the line to do the luggage shuffle. You know, where you move the 13 bags one inch forward at a time. But we had so much to do with filling out luggage tags and consolidating that it seemed we didn’t have enough time in the line. That plus the Airtran people were really on top of things. They dealt with those Thanksgiving crowds like it was nothing. People & suitcases & tickets were flying everywhere. Once our luggage was checked in, the baby OKed & written on my ticket we were off, almost. I had bought at a thrift store a carseat bag. I had the genius idea of shoving all our winter coats in there so we wouldn’t have to carry them. But the air lady said it made it too big & I would have to pay $35.00 to have our coats in there. HELLO! For $35, kids, you’re carrying your own coat. They were sad. But guess who left her coat in there? Me! Ha. No carrying my coat around.

    Then we were off. Kind of. We had to get through security. It was a massive line. Massive. Donald and I exchanged looks. This was going to be awful. Then some Disney magic hit us in Ohio. There was this lady asking if people had Ziploc bags for their liquids. She looked at Boo and said to me, “Is she yours?” Yup, she’s mine. “Follow me.” And suddenly we were in our own line! No massive line for us. Then I had to have a bag looked inside and the security guy said to just put our shoes back,etc in his little area with his chairs so it wasn’t even the normal post-security mayhem of us trying to get reorganized.

    Boo was sooooo excited to be free. She ran around entertaining everyone in her cute tye-dye shirt and no shoes. After security she refused to wear shoes. And I let her. It’s her vacation too, right? If she doesn’t want shoes on, then who am I to judge? We finally got the shoes on & she ran around entertaining the whole airport.


    We passed by a Cinnabon & having had no coffee yet, this seemed a good idea to me. Who needs a healthy breakfast when there is a Cinnabon? Donald & I both were secretly praying that all the sugar didn’t come back to bite us in the butts. I got these flaky things that I thought I would love but they weren’t crisp. I didn’t eat very much here. But the coffee was critical. And Boo smacked her lips and said her version of Yum over & over again. I wonder how much butter and sugar she consumed in those 30 minutes? She mostly just had frosting.



    Then we went to the gate. By this point it was pretty much time to get right on the plane. There were some adorable little kids who had Nintendo DS just like us. So we made friends and chatted about what games we had and liked and disliked. The time just flew.

    I had checked in 24 hours ahead exactly and got rows 11 & 12 all together. And I didn’t pay a cent. We gate checked the stroller & then I konked Boo’s head as we were walking down the aisle. She certainly can make a lot of noise in a tiny space when her head is konked. Note to self, don’t konk baby’s head in an airplane. We settled in. The guy sitting next to me & I were scoping out the seats in front of us & he said he would move but as he was making his preparations the flight attendant moved some other people into those seats. I felt bad for him as he was a big guy sitting between me & Boo who was asleep on my lap and another big guy. But there was nothing I could do but just try to be as tiny as possible. I played my Nintendo DS during the peacefulness and enjoyed the 2 hours of silence.

    And then we were in Orlando. We decided to split, Donald to luggage with all the kids & stuff, we to Alamo to get the van. I had called to see if I could use the kiosk even though I bought on Hotwire. They had said yes so I figured it would be easy. But when I walked up to the Alamo area there was not one soul in line. The Alamo clerk said, “Can I help you?” So I just did it the traditional way. She told me my van was tiny and I could upsell but since I really only needed a car I said no.

    Then I walked the easy walk to the garage where the cars were. This lovely fountain greeted me.


    The lady at the vehicles pointed me to the row of vans and said, “The keys are in them, pick whichever you like.” What? AWESOME! It was around 10:30 a.m. and row was full. Maybe 20-30 vans! I checked them all out & settled on an 8 passenger maroon Toyota Sienna. This van was brand new and amazing. It had 1,000 miles on it and was just the bomb. LOVED it.

    And that was it. They wrote the plates down & I drove off. Getting back to passenger pick up was easy & Donald had found a porter and cart and had all of our luggage (and kids) ready to go at the curb. I dealt with the car seat and Boo and he tipped the porter and we were off. Just like that.

    It absolutely could not have gone better from start to finish, well other than the icy parking lot but that was a minor blip on an otherwise very successful journey.

    We were free & clear by 10:45 a.m.

    I had called and asked if we could check into our house early since it was Thanksgiving and I assumed it would be cleaned the day before. They had said yes so we drove straight there. Past the $2.50 in tolls. For some unknown reason Donald was a bit bitter about the tolls. This amused me as we had spent thousands on this trip. Sure $2.50 is not too much to pay for the fastest route?

    We pulled off onto 192 and then two red lights later we were turning left to Windsor Hills. It took us 15 minutes to get the house from the airport. Yes, please!

    So, what did we think of our decision to rent a house?
  8. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    These photos were taken the last day we were here as the first day I was too excited and hungry to take photos. So it does look nice & the beds are made when you first walk in. Actually, I was surprised at how clean. You know how the vents in the ceilings always have dust in rental houses? There was not a speck of dirt in this house, even in the vents. And I looked carefully.

    It was also over the top decorated. But you’re seeing it more in the chaotic state it will look if you rent it.

    OK, so pre-photos let me tell you our requirements & why we chose this house. Then post-photos I’ll tell you my summary of how it met our needs.

    We wanted to be as close to Disney as possible as we were intending on being at Disney every second we could. So we didn’t want to be far away and we were willing to pay more for the location. We also wanted a heated, private pool. We really wanted a hot tub but the British who own most of the Orlando rentals don’t really do the hot tub thing, I guess, because they are tricky to find. And we needed 5 bedrooms. 3 kids rooms and 2 adult rooms. And we wanted Disney décor so our kids wouldn’t care that we weren’t on property. And we didn’t want to ever be on I-4.

    So here is the Magic Palace, day of checking out. For the gorgeous pre our destruction photos, see their website.

    Here is our bedroom. This was a king sized bed. It was ginormous. Huge. Donald, Boo, and I all slept in here & never touched each other (other than Boo playing with my hair.) Sometimes I would stretch my arm or leg out to touch Donald and couldn't find him. It was also an uncomfortable bed. I didn't mind too much but Donald hated.

    Our other issue with this bedroom was the TV remote also worked the TV in the main living room. Which meant we couldn't lay in bed & surf the channels until everyone in the living room was done watching TV. This was very stupid.

    But our least favorite thing about this bedroom was how dark it was. The canopy and lack of lighting made it impossible to find anything & the storage was ill thought out so we kept losing our stuff. We are organized and not used to searching for our stuff so this probably irritated me the most.

    I did love, however, having my own room & not sharing with the noise, messiness and general chaos of having all three girls with us.


    Here is the pool:

    When we first got here it was little chilly because no one had put the cover on. Milo put it on & by the next day it was 100 degrees plus. Very nice.

    Here is Milo & Suzy's room. At first their TV didn't have cable at all. But Donald figured it out and got it working. But it was a few days in & I think they would have like having cable from the beginning.


    Every bedroom had it's own bathroom. This is Milo & Suzy's. Ours was similar.


    The living room. I liked this furniture. It was huge in the room but it was comfy & fit a lot of people.

    The front door from the living room.

    Here was the big entertainment center. Here is where the one idiotic thing about this house. The downstairs thermostat was behind this center. Now perhaps normally this wouldn't matter. But one night while we were here it was 38 degrees. It would have been very nice to have the heat turned on. But despite our trying to pull the center out or change the t'stat with this big thing in front of it, we simply could not change this. We wore coats & socks in this house. And often were surprised upon getting outside that it wasn't freezing cold. Plus the shared remote thing.


    The formal dining. We moved all the breakables & froo-froo and used this to eat on paper plates and to play cards.


    The kitchen. I have no complaints with this kitchen. It met my rental house kitchen expectations. We didn't cook anything other than tacos so I didn't really care about it. There weren't any little surprises & there weren't any little disappointments.


    The pantry. All of our food fit here. And we could keep the door closed & the babies out. Though we did quite often find McQueen in here sneaking cookies. Shame, shame!

    This table never looked this. It was covered in child breakfast mess constantly. Very useful table.

    The fridge. We used the little counter there as the lunch launch pad for our snacks and drinks we took into the parks.

    The toy room:

    Combined laundry room:

    Charming's bathroom. This was on the first floor with everything else.


    All of the closets are behind the beds. It's a very goofy set-up:

    And on to the second floor & Mulan & Ariel's room:


    And McQueen & Buzz's room:

    All of the rooms had lots of toys for little ones so no need to bring your own.


    See the bed in front of the closet again? How are you supposed to find your stuff? Climb on the bed? Good thing no one wears dress clothes at Disney.


    And here are our vans & the lovely front of our house.

    And the lovely front of our house looked identical to the lovely front of all the other houses.

    So that was the house. And here is my summary:

    Would I stay here again? No. I wouldn't. The lack of normal organization, the blocking of the closets, the strange electronics, and the uncomfortable beds would turn me off. That being said, I would stay at Windsor Hills in a heartbeat. It was a lovely resort. Perfect location. Beautiful. Loved it.

    I loved having my own bedroom & bath. I loved coming home from the parks and not having to deal with the kids. I loved that. And I didn't have to go into their creepy bathroom or worry about cleaning up their icky room. I cleaned one day and it was scary. I didn't go to WDW to clean and cook. And I loved not having to.

    I also loved the Disney decorations. I have already found other houses at Windsor Hills that I would try next time.

    Donald, I know, would prefer to stay on site & take Disney transportation. Me, not so much. I hated waiting for buses. I admit it. I hated that. I loved having my own car, I loved not having to have Disney food & having a kitchen. Yeah. I loved staying offsite and I loved staying with family and sharing our stories in the evenings.

    I also loved high speed wireless internet. And I loved no obnoxious kids while my kids were swimming. And I loved my kids swimming without me having to watch them.

    Yeah, my vote is for renting a house and a car every time. Every time. Windsor Hills rocks.
  9. DisDreamz

    DisDreamz Mouseketeer

    Dec 10, 2008
    Can't wait to read rest of your update! popcorn::
  10. earthfaries

    earthfaries DIS Veteran

    Jan 22, 2007
    HI :goodvibes I'm in ~sounds like a great trip! Now, off to catch up ;)

  11. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

    Apr 25, 2008
    Can't wait to read more!
  12. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004

    More to come today! Maybe we'll actually get to WDW! :rolleyes:

    Are you kidding me? You are moving to Davenport? I couldn't help go and read a bit of your report. Dh & I talk about moving there every time, well at least near WDW somewhere but there are just too many ties to keep us here. But it is a dream, that is for sure! Good luck on your move & I can't wait to read more once you are settled!

    Keep that popcorn handy! And welcome to our little tutorial. ;)
  13. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    So after checking out the house it was time for me to grab our groceries at Wal-Mart. I have been to all the Wal-Marts near this area and the one I chose was on 27 where it hits 192. In Clermont. It is very nice, relatively new, only 10 minutes from Windsor Hills and best of all there aren’t too many tourists. But before I go into all of that, as I have lots of opinions on Wal-Mart shopping in the Kissimmee area, I need to tell you what we ate for lunch.

    McDonald’s. Yeah, it isn’t exciting. But the kids fell in love with our house instantly. And the next few hours would be their only time in the house without all the boys. So they didn’t want to give up one second. But Donald really likes to pick his own food out. So we forced them into the van and told them the first fast food place we saw, we would eat at & just grab it and bring it home. And they could play the day away.

    So we turned left out of Windsor Hills. Drove half a mile. And tried to turn left onto 192. But for some reason this particular stoplight hated me the first few days we were there. It did not turn green forever! And I mean forever! Finally we were on 192 and bam! There was a McDonalds. So French fries for everyone.

    I zipped them all back home lickety split and I was off to grocery shop. I had a plan as I knew I couldn’t fit everything we needed in one cart. The plan was to get all the bulky stuff like beer & soda & toilet paper, etc in the first cart & then go back in for actual food. Milo had given me $250 in cash to spend and then Donald and I would match it. We ended up spending $450.00 I know this sounds like a lot. But we have 7 kids, ya know? And we didn’t want to cook so it was all convenience food.

    So to the south of Clermont Wal-Mart. Here is my issue with Wal-Marts in Florida and I hope it doesn’t make me sound crazy or mean or racist. But I’m from Ohio. From a college town. My Wal-Mart is filled with college kids (and their parents sometimes) foreign people, mainly from Africa or Asia, and rural low income Americans. Now I’m not saying this is how a Wal-Mart should be, I’m just saying it’s what I’m used to. And my Wal-Mart irritates me sometimes too, don’t get me wrong. But every time I go to Kissimmee I am frustrated by Wal-Mart. It is filled with Hispanics and elderly people, many, many of them on scooters. In my opinion, Wal-Mart was simply not set up for this. The elderly are on scooters. And Hispanics grocery shop as families. Which is lovely. I love that they are family people. But a narrow aisle with 4 scooters and 5 family groups of 5 is a bit crowded. No, it is really, really crowded. Good thing I speak some Spanish. It’s the only way I can find what I’m looking for.

    OK. So I thought, idiot that I am, that shopping on Thanksgiving was genius. At noon on Thanksgiving. Surely everyone would be having Thanksgiving. Fool that I am. I arrive all excited because I’m on vacation to the beautiful Wal-Mart. I find a nice parking spot. It’s gonna be great! Oh, look, there is even a liquor store! Perfect. I grab my cart which is handed to me by the sweet greeter with a sunny “Hello”! And then I see it. The MASSES are at Wal-Mart. Millions of scooters. Millions of families. And because it is Thanksgiving people are in a hurry. Family groups in a hurry. Speaking hurried Spanish. It was bad. Really, really bad. I barely escaped injury.

    I started in the infant’s section which was pretty silent and then started in the dairy. From the get-go it was a disaster. This lovely elderly lady said to me next to the orange juice, “I thought it would be dead on Thanksgiving! Why are all these people here?” I could do nothing but agree with her.

    So once my cart was filled with drinks (all that water!), cleaning supplies, and paper goods I went to check out. I found a wonderfully short line with a super friendly cashier. So far so good.

    I found my van, always tricky in a rental, and dumped off all the stuff in the huge & roomy storage area. Did I mention I loved this van? And I love my van at home too!

    Back in I went. This was going to be the really hard shopping session as I had to make choices for 11 people. We had no intention of setting foot in a grocery store again. So I needed everything. Peanut butter, bread, cheese sticks, ham & swiss cheese, frozen French fries, cereal, Bagelfuls, chips, cookies, etc.

    I got it all. The only thing I could not find were Slim Jims. I didn’t want to ask. Anyone know how to say Slim Jim in Spanish? Ha! Anyhow, I just decided we could survive without the Slim Jims. And here is where my luck ran out. The lines were mania! I read 3 magazines while I stood in this line. Sigh.

    Then I got to the front & my cashier was CRANKY! Which was really bad as my credit card had decided that I had stolen it because why would an Ohio credit card be on two shopping sprees at a Clermont Wal-Mart? Good question, little credit card, but I swear, it’s me! So that was stressful.

    But the good news is, from the moment I drove away from Windsor Hills to the moment I drove back into the driveway was only 2 hours. And I had spent $50.00 under budget.

    And the best news was when I got home Donald had completely unpacked us. Yippee! So we unpacked the groceries and prepared to begin our vacation.

    Ahhhh, I laid down. It was so delightful. I also opened a bag of my favorite chips: Sour cream & onion Baked Lays. I mention these because I can’t buy them in Ohio. So I only get them in Florida. I love them. It’s a bummer they aren’t here. Yum. Let vacation begin. While I rested, the girls swam.

    So wonderful.

    At 4:30 Milo & Suzy and the boys came. They had not had a charmed day. Jack-Jack was really sick. Suzy gave him a breathing treatment (he & McQueen both have breathing/asthma issues so she has a machine.) He had thrown up on the airplane. So everyone smelled like puke. Don’t ya just love smelling like puke all day while traveling? No, they were not doing so well.

    I took the baby while they unpacked. Phew, he smelled. And then I made tacos. The kids all went to the playground which was right next to our house. Unfortunately, I never made it to the playground. Not the whole 10 days. It just got dark so fast and we were at the parks during the day. And they didn’t stay very long. It looked cool!

    So we watched football, we all play fantasy so we had to watch of course, ate tacos, the kids swam. And we went to bed early since we’d had an early start and were going to Magic Kingdom early the next morning.

    And by early I have to tell you my favorite thing of this day. Boo fell asleep for the night at 7:00 p.m. this day!!!! It was so blissfully peaceful to have the kids watching a movie in their own playroom and the baby asleep.

    Here are two pics of that first perfect night.

  14. ProudMommyof2

    ProudMommyof2 DIS Veteran

    Feb 21, 2007
    Signing on. Soo impressed with your organizational skills! Can't wait to hear more.

    Also- don't wish to be "Kate", your family sounds much closer and pleasant.
  15. earthfaries

    earthfaries DIS Veteran

    Jan 22, 2007
    All caught up! Wow, what a great TR so far!! Your trip started off so perfect ~ hopefully it stayed that way too :goodvibes
    The house looks nice and the vans too. I have a Sienna, a 2002. My mom just got an 08 Sienna, and she loves it. I love the burgandy color! We also love staying offsite. We had a condo for our first offsite visit a couple of years ago and just can't go back :laughing: I love all the space and eating my own food and being able to just throw our dirty laundry from the day in the washer after returning from the parks.
    Your daughter's are so cute:cutie: I can imagine how nice it was having a quiet evening that first night ~ and the chips, yummy! Why don't they have them where you live? I can't find my fave anywhere here where I live either. Dorito's Natural . Yum :lovestruc

    I can't wait to hear more! Great report :thumbsup2

  16. houseful of boys

    houseful of boys Mouseketeer

    Oct 25, 2008
    Suzy here!

  17. NotSoEvilStepmother

    NotSoEvilStepmother *Not a real stepmother*

    Jul 3, 2008
  18. overthemoon4mickey

    overthemoon4mickey Mouseketeer

    Jun 13, 2007
    I'm in! You speak to the planner in me! I can't wait to hear more!

    Hah! I love the walmart comments. I never get why people think it's okay to just stop and park their cart in the very center of the aisle. Umm, Hello I'm trying to shop too!:lmao:
  19. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    Why can I be so organized on vacation and not at home? :lmao: I just signed up for Flylady to give me some help and am killing time playing on the computer (and watching football) instead of working on my laundry room which is still in disarray from a mini-flood we had & fixed in August! Hmmm, how many months is that? 4 months & I've not even touched it. So I vowed to spend 15 minutes today. Flylady says anything in 15 minute increments. But looking at that horrid mess I have my doubts.

    As for Kate, I really like her. I feel sorry for her with all her quirks. But all parents are doing their best, ya know? And they laugh a lot. I always give people who laugh a lot props.

    Ah yes, I forgot about how much I loved just doing laundry & not having it be such a big deal. I did laundry at All Star Sports last year & it was fine. I got up early and had my choice of washers & dryers and read a book in the sunshine. It was a nice moment for me. But it was still 2 hours early, early in the am and the dryers didn't really dry everything so we had slightly damp laundry :laundy: which was a little unpleasant. This was sooooo much better.

    Donald does not appreciate this at all. He had brought so many clothes this time & mainly just wore the same ones that he didn't need laundry done & didn't want to "burden" me with doing laundry on vacation. Of course then he came home where our laundry room is a mess & downstairs and emptied his suitcase into our hamper. Still folded. Like at home it isn't a burden because we have little laundry elfs that do the laundry here. :rotfl: :rotfl: I then dragged it downstairs, washed it, dryed it, folded it, carried it back upstairs, and put it away in his drawers. No, certainly I wouldn't have preferred to do it there where it was easy! :laughing: And where he would have had to put it away himself. And he was sleeping while I did laundry at All Stars. So he doesn't get the perks of a house/condo vs. the resorts.

    As for the chips, I don't know. We have a store that will order stuff for me and I've asked them to get the Baked Lays in this flavor since we have Baked Lays in other flavors. And Frito-Lay says no! They say we aren't in their market. Go figure. Ohio isn't a sour cream & onion market. :confused:

    Hey Suzy! Welcome. Feel free to comment at any time. Especially about things & places where I wasn't. I'm quite sure Donald will pop on at some point to throw in his 2 cents. :rolleyes: Good thing I don't let Mulan on here unsupervised. Suzy, Donald, and Mulan are my very own force of accuracy police. I wish I could say I didn't need accuracy police, but darn it if they aren't normally right. :laughing:

    As a total side note, I have a very close friend, after my immediate family she is my best friend, who is at Magic Kingdom right now! I called earlier (at 9:37 a.m.) and they had just done Buzz & AstroOrbiter. Space Mt. had been closed & they had FP's for later. Laugh Floor was opening at 10 a.m. so I told them to do the cars while they waited (their with all boys.) I made them an itinerary and am on-call for questions this week. :yay:

    I was just so excited for them and they said they'd already had a ton of fun in just the first 37 minutes. And not jealous at all. Cause I just got back! :cloud9: Now ask me how I'll feel about my friends visiting in 6 months!

    OK, more to come. I hereby promise this TR will enter Walt Disney World property by the end of the night.
  20. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    Welcome, welcome!

    Oh good, I was hoping I wasn't just being cranky & others could relate. There really is a marked difference between the chaos at Wal-Mart in Kissimmee & Wal-Mart where I live. The one on the other side on 192, like near Medieval Times, I refuse to enter. So many times someone has almost killed me in the parking lot. :eek: I always say a vacation where I have to enter that Wal-Mart is simply not a vacation. :rotfl2:
  21. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2004
    Do you guys know the movie Stuart Little well?

    The very opening before they’ve gone to the orphanage & George is so excited to be getting a new brother. And he comes just a runnin’ out of his room & all around yelling:
    “It’s today, it’s today, it’s today, it’s today!”

    And then his dad says, so logically, “It’s always today, George.”

    And then George says, “I mean, this is the day!”

    That is how I felt on this day. So many months of planning. And then the whole day of airplanes & shuttles & rental agencies & grocery stores.

    But today, today is the day.

    Today I’m at Disney World.

    Because of this, and because of my early start the day before and therefore my nap & early to bed the night before, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. Now I don’t know about you, but personally I almost never need to be up at 4:00 a.m. Only when I have an early flight which is like once ever 3-5 years. Other than that, I like to be sleeping at 4:00 a.m.

    But today, today is the day.

    And I couldn’t sleep.

    So I grabbed my Quest Trio cartridge and my Nintendo DS & ducked under the covers (like when I was a kid with a flashlight and a book) and played. I was really hoping to getting sleepy again. Not to mention our house was freezing. Because the t’stat was inexplicably behind the biggest entertainment center I’d ever seen.

    Fortunately, I did go back to sleep. But at 5:45 I was awake for the day. I laid there in the silence pondering the joy and at 6:00 a.m. I heard little feet and excited little voices in the living room. Finally, I could get up.

    And quite obviously, we would have no problems following the first cardinal rule of not waiting in lines. Get there early.

    I made coffee, Folger’s chocolate coffee which Donald felt tasted like chocolate milk instead of coffee. Maybe that’s because he puts so much sugar & milk in his coffee & drinks it lukewarm. Then we had cinnamon Bagelfuls.

    OK, side note, this is an unpaid advertisement for Bagelfuls. But these are delish. And filling. And warm. And take 30 seconds to nuke. I LOVE cinnamon Bagelfuls. And warm cup of flavored brew. It just feels like you are pampering yourself. Mmmmmm…

    Then I braided Mulan’s hair and we painted & lipsticked up the kids with glow in the dark lipstick and fingernail polish and spray. It was fairly cool. My fingernails glowed the rest of the week at night. It was a little disconcerting to wake up at 2 am and have your hands glow. But it was somewhat fun on the rides. We didn’t do again, but it was worth it the first day.

    It was a great start.

    We piled into the vehicles and zipped to the TTC.




    We parked in Pluto/Chip & Dale which is pretty close to the front but we still decided to ride the tram. We only had one giant stroller this day. Let me tell ya, those giant, double, In-Step strollers are tricky to get into trams. But more on the strollers later.

    The tram scared Boo to death. I was not paying attention to her as I was making sure we had all our bags & all the children were in the center and safe. And all of the sudden we take off and she was not prepared for it as she doesn’t understand English well enough to hear the tram driver do his announcement. Scariest ride of the trip.




    McQueen on the other hand, had a huge grin on his face and said, “This is even better than the game!” We had been playing the board game, “The Magic Kingdom” which is basically a map of Magic Kingdom with all the rides & you race the other teams to do the rides & get back to the entrance. It’s a really fun game, but obviously not like living it. Kind of like in Toy Story 2 when Rex says he doesn’t need to play the video game anymore because he lived it!

    I have to say, I’ve had some great tram rides. At AK on one trip we’d had a hilarious tram driver. And once I had a really cool moment with a tram driver who was rushing because she was a mom trying to see her daughter in a school play and I got to see a little bit of the inner workings of Disney. But of all the good tram rides, that was the best. Because of Boo & McQueen, it felt more like a ride than a simple tram.

    Because it was chilly we opted to take the Monorail when we got to this choice:



    Milo and I stopped to record the moment.


    And when we got to the monorail we realized that we had been left behind.


    Oops. Bye-bye. I guess some of us were a little excited to be at MK! Fortunately, the monorail is a pretty good place to lose your family as you know where to wait when you get off.

    McQueen just chitchatted and chitchatted as we waited for the monorail. He was a blast this day as he really did not remember being here. Only from photos and videos had he been to WDW. He was just bursting with fun.

    We knew the day after Thanksgiving would be crowded but the crowds still took us a little off guard. We had followed the website’s advice perfectly. Here was the point where Suzy & I pondered if no advice would help us avoid waiting in lines. LOTS of people. Yikes.

    See all the people?

    After bag check, OK, wait, I just want to say something about bag check. I remember life before bag check. Loved it! Hate bag check. Ruins my magic before I ever even get to the park. But, since there is bag check I just have to tell you that I am a master at choosing a perfect bag check line. I hardly ever wait at the bag check line. I just have a knack for it. You have to scan the area, see how many bags each person has, how careful the security guy/girl is being, etc. Often I will get in a little longer line & still be out way ahead of Suzy. I’m an excellent bag check line finder.

    Don’t want to wait in line to get your bag checked? Follow me!

    OK, so after bag check we watched the little show. I’ve never seen this before. I always get here right at 9:00 a.m. and the train is leaving the station. I really enjoyed watching this & Boo loved this. Just a pointing away. There were all her favorite characters from Disney together. And they were waving at her! Hiya Mickey!




    And then, it was time to go inside. We grabbed a few maps and show schedules, though we didn’t need them this day. This day it was a day to do things we were very familiar with. I took a few photos. And though we had prepurchased the Photopass CD we didn’t waste our time this day to get shots.



    And here Buzz who at 8 years old & a Disney veteran thought he had everything figured out proclaimed this his first animatronic animal:


    :rotfl: :lmao: :rotfl: :rotfl: :lmao: :rotfl:
    We did pause as this very nice CM braved the crowds to hand our babies stickers. They were excited. Even at MK stickers are a good thing.



    And on to Fantasy!!! Land, that is. We were already in the fantasy. And it was only 9:01 a.m.!

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