I never know how to start a trip report, so Ill borrow from Mr. Dickens... It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. It fits this trip that had more ups and downs than Rock n Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and the Triple Mountain Whammy combined; but it's a little high falutin' for a TR that's also about shenanigans, tomfoolery, and general mayhem; so here's take two... My niece's FIRST VISIT! Christmas and New Year's at Walt Disney World! The trip of a lifetime! Never again, my friends. Never again. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Return with me now to the days of yesteryear, when Christmas sparkled on the horizon like twinkle lights on steroids and the new year floated just beyond it, glowing with promises of adventure and surprise...a whole new world, shining, shimmering, splendid! First, the particulars: What: A ten-day trip to WDW When: December 24, 2012 January 2, 2013 Where: Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms Who: Me (Laura) Gabriel (my BF) So here's the thing. Gabriel forbids me to put his picture in this trip report. He's so adamant about it that I'm worried he's on the run from the law...or in witness protection...or a CIA assassin a'la Jason Bourne...or maybe just a plain old International Man of Mystery! Clearly, he has some deep, dark secret he hasn't seen fit to share with me in the ten years we've been together. And since we want what we can't have, you're all DYING to know what he looks like, right? Of course you are! Hes Latin...tall(ish), chocolate brown eyes, black hair that's going a bit salt and pepper (swoon), and a killer smile...an older, broader Benjamin Bratt. Hey, I never said Im not completely biased. Or maybe he looks like this: ] If you looked like this, you wouldn't want your picture splashed all over the Internet either, now would you? Trudy (my mom) With baby Asa (He wasn't on this trip, but how cute is he?) Earl (my brother) and Lenny (my SIL) Brianna (my 9-year-old niece) AND NOW ON WITH THE SHOW! Day One: Monday, December 24, 2012 The Wait is Over...Almost I love Christmas movies, so I'm going to use quotes from my favorite holiday flicks (and TV shows) to open each chapter. To get us going, here are a couple about the season: "Ho, ho, but no matter. Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved." (A Christmas Story) "Christmas is just about my favorite time. Ever since I was a little kid, I always felt like it was my own personal holiday." (Ernest Saves Christmas) I opened my eyes and immediately realized that after almost a year of planning, it was here: D-Day! No more sleeps til Disney! Needless to say, I was a happy girl. I was mostly packed and only had to add a couple of things to the top of my suitcase before I could start gently (ahem) reminding my mom and Gabriel that they needed to get 'er done. Much to my dismay, neither of them was inclined to shift into high gear. Since the plan was for us to leave on the big one-hour drive to Orlando around noon, they didn't see what the big rush was, so I had to turn it up a notch. I made coffee and turned on my favorite Christmas music. I threatened Gabriel that if he didn't get a move on, I would BLAST Christmas, Don't be Late by Alvin and the Chipmunks and follow it with I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Gabriel is not a fan of novelty Christmas songs. In fact, the only thing he likes less than novelty Christmas songs is Air Supply. Are you singing All Out of Love? You're welcome. My brother and his family were driving in from Indiana and expected to arrive in Orlando around 4 p.m. I wanted to get there a few hours before them so I could put a few surprises in place. However, as John Steinbeck said, "The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry." My phone rang a few minutes after 11, and I heard Brianna's excited voice, Were HERE! At DISNEY WORLD! In a PRINCESS room! Which was a surprise engineered by yours truly, and I had missed seeing her reaction. Ding dang double drat darnit! My brother got on the phone and happily informed me that they were checked in, their room was ready, and they were going to check out the pool. It was about 50 degrees, which is cool for Florida, but warm compared to the 12 degrees they'd left behind in Indiana. And Disney's pools are 80 degrees all year round. I was happy for them...extra hours at Disney can only be good...but I was disappointed, too. Having no other choice, I sucked it up and told him we'd be there as soon as we could, then reminded him that they could use their dining credits if they were hungry. Because I'm nice like that. I clicked off the call and started cracking the whip over Mom and Gabriel with purpose. They lollygagged. Dragged their feet. Refused to be rushed. When I could stand no more, I grabbed my keys and announced that I was leaving without them. Which I did. To go to Walgreens to pick up Mom's prescription. And Starbucks for an iced vanilla Chai latte. Like I needed more caffeine. I may have said, And you'd BETTER be ready when I get back! Up next: Disney-bound at long last!