The Cast:

Lara (age 33): Your lovely TR and Disney addict, planned trip

Lynne (age, ahem, not mentioned): My mom, big Eeyore fan

Robert (age, 50-something): My dad tolerates our Disney fascination

Kaitlin (age 9): my niece, the whole reason we planned the trip

Danna (age, she is my dad’s “younger” sister, ha ha): My aunt

Mike (I don’t know his age, sorry): My uncle

Jamie (age 10): Their granddaughter, good friends with my niece

Pre-Trip Planning:

We have been to Disney World twice this year already, but not with Kaitlin. She was very jealous. Our first trip was part of a time-share sell that my parents had to sit through, but we got a good deal. The second trip was a quick weekend to BRAVES Spring Training – a trip that I won, so we got to stay onsite at the Caribbean Beach Resort – loved it.

We found out in Kaitlin’s school schedule that she had a Friday and a Monday off in October, so we started planning. Me being the person who actually works in research, and is a Disney addict, I pretty much planned the whole trip.

We found a good rate on a hotel (was supposed to be brand new, we found out when we got there that their idea of brand new and mine were WAY DIFFERENT) through the AARP website – you only have to be 50 to join!

Our plans were set each day based on what I had learned about park crowdedness and the special events that would be going on at the time. I tried to schedule a break in each day without trying to plan out our entire days.

The trip was a surprise to the girls, we told them on Kaitlin’s b-day as I gave her a box with “Disney World for Kids by Kids” book, a book on Hidden Mickey’s and $20 in Disney Dollars. Man, I have never heard such squealing and yelling as that night. After saving her money, K ended up with $80 in Disney dollars to spend on her trip.

I prepared bags for each of them - mom and I made autograph books with spiral-bound note cards of various colors (perforated, perfect!), they each had some big sharpies and a disposable camera. I also made a notebook for each of them with lots of pages to color, games to play, word searches, as well as a journal to fill out for each day of the trip!

Lots of reading and lots of planning and lots of dad rolling his eyes at me as I mentioned something else new I had read about in someone’s trip report. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was going to be happening the Friday we were there, so we bought tickets for that as well.

My co-workers annoyed with my daily countdown and finally the day had arrived!

Actual Trip:

Thursday, October 7

The Plan: I had to get up early to finish packing and head to the DR. Planned to get a cortisone shot in my heels – I have bone spurs and walking a lot can cause a lot of pain. Well, he didn’t want to do that and prescribed some meds – I never got them (stupid insurance). I ended up setting my feet on ice each night, but I digress. We planned to leave the house at 10am and hit the road. Stopping south of Valdosta at Chick-fil-a for lunch. Arriving in Kissimmee around 6 or 7, checking in and then heading to City Walk Universal to go to Margaritaville for dinner. And me being a Hard Rock Café addict as well, I had to get my guitar pin.

The day: Well, we left the house about 10:30, not too bad…except…da da da, Atlanta traffic. Yup, stupid tractor-trailer, and we were stuck for nearly an hour. So, an hour and a half behind schedule. The other group was planning to leave Atlanta around 1, by this time, they wouldn’t be too far behind us. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we checked into the hotel around 7:30pm. Not a great hotel, but it would do since we were only planning to sleep and shower there – this was Disney, COMMANDO style! We dropped our stuff and headed to City Walk, by the time we got there, the wait for Margaritaville was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Ok, enough time for the other half of our group to catch up and have dinner with us. Good cheeseburger in paradise for dinner, the band was good, but man, they were LOUD for the dinner we were having – no talking amongst the table. Heading straight back to the hotel, we had to get some rest – Magic Kingdom tomorrow and MNSSHP!!!

Friday, October 8

The Plan: Since we have the tickets to MNSSHP, we don’t have to be there when the gates open. We all plan to wear the matching shirts my dad made for each of us – this came in handy later, and was a big hit with people stopping to ask where we got them – we MADE them! Each of us had our own pink flamingo character on the back and our names on the front – we had CM’s calling us by name all day – well everyone but me and Danna. We would hit the park and head to Adventureland, Going clockwise around the park – hit as much as we could before we would have to leave for our PS at the Rainforest Café at the Animal Kingdom. Change into our costumes there and head back to MK and trick or treat and ride rides to our hearts content.

The day: We arrived at MK by boat; we just love seeing the castle across the water! The crowds were not that bad, and we had our group picture made on Main Street – kinda nice, we had never done that. Heading over to adventureland, the kids (and grandfathers) went up the Swiss Family Treehouse (I’ll pass). The wait for the Jungle Cruise was 15 minutes; it was really less than that. Then we headed over to Yo Ho Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me! This was a walk on – not bad so far! We had been there less than 30 minutes had our picture taken and 2 rides down! Went to the tiki bird show next– what a let down. I think I like the older version better. However, the girls had their first PIN TRADING experience here with the Cast Member letting people in. I had told K to pick out 3 pins each to bring, I wasn’t bringing the entire 100 years of MM pin book that Mom and I had both worked on. If I had known that they would like doing this so much, I would have brought the whole book - oh well, next time! During the show my mom had to endure the little kid next to her climbing and hitting her. Parents – control your kids please!

From there, we headed straight to Big Thunder Mountain, got our fastpasses and the kids and grandfather’s and my aunt went onto Splash Mountain – now, I don’t do water rides, so this was a good time for me and mom to take a break in the shade. We pressed some pennies and watched the people exit the ride wringing out their shirts and shorts. Then it was BTMR!!! K was all for it, but Jamie was a little frightened – everyone rode this one! After which we headed to Tom Sawyers Island, we wanted the group to take a break and get a snack at Aunt Polly’s. Well, Aunt Polly was CLOSED! Total bummer as we were all hungry. Back to the mainland and into Pecos Bill Café – man it was crowded in here! Ended up with another cheeseburger, but my parents shared a chicken wrap, said it was very good.

After lunch, we headed to the Haunted Mansion – the ghost who hitch hiked with us sat on Jamie’s lap! While we tried to get through stroller territory to head to Futureland, we were all getting hot and cranky. We went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic – it was awesome. The girls were reaching out to touch everything, it was cute. The girls and I then rode the teacups. They spun as fast as they could and I got in my own cup and attempted to take pictures of them.

Yup, it was now time for Buzz Lightyear!!! I rode by myself as we had an odd # of people in our group. My suggestion to you, don’t try to use both guns if you ride alone – my score was HORRIBLE! Everyone loved the ride. Time for one quick ride on the TTA and we head to the front of the park. The line to get our pictures was way long, we decide to do that when we get back.

Drove to the Animal Kingdom, man, that place empties out fast. Had a wonderful dinner, Uncle Mike picked up the tab – I have no idea how much it was. We wanted to get the VOLCANO to hear the waiters yell, but we didn’t have time and we were all full. Changed into our costumes – I was Smee, K was Wendy and my dad was a pirate. Mom changed into a Tinkerbell shirt and stated that was as close as she would get to a costume. Danna, Mike and Jamie were 3 Blind Mice.

Back at the Magic Kingdom and the monorail was PACKED – this was a sign of the night to come. The signs out front state that the night was SOLD OUT. The lines just to get in were OUTRAGEOUS. We went straight to pick up our pictures. Why did I have people asking me if I was an elf – know your Disney characters people!!!

Then, we were off to tomorrowland, unfortunately, we had to make it down Main Street while the parade was going on, we did see the Headless Horseman ride by. Space Mountain had a 20 minute wait – well, that 20 minutes was really just the time it took you to walk up to the top – what a GREAT ride that was!! Next we watched some party thing that had Chip and Dale and Buzz and Stitch. Kinda cute, but in my opinion, a waste of time. In that time, Buzz Lightyear shut down with problems. We “trick or treated” some (wow, 1 piece of hard candy, gee thanks!) and then we were off to Fantasyland. I still couldn’t find the places where you could have your family pictures taken. The map was not labeled well and I was having a hard time figuring out where something was.

We rode Dumbo with about a 20 minute wait - watched the fireworks from there, what a view, it seemed we were surrounded by fireworks! Once again, I rode by myself and attempted to take pictures of the girls. They had Cinderella’s carriage out and princesses were out to have your picture with – that line was SO LONG!!! I bet people were standing there until midnight – we moved on. Tried to get a good view for the later parade, after hearing that people would leave after the first one – boy were they ever WRONG! That is about all we got done that night. We were all tired, cranky and disappointed that the park was more crowded during this special even than it was all day long! In bed about 1am.