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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our Disney Trip Day 1 -- May 12th, 2009

My name is Kristin. I am a newly born Disney addict. I visited The World once when I was 10 and it was not a fun visit. I have been married to my awesome husband , Jason, for 8 years. He went to Disney once on a choir trip in high school. My daughter Emily is 5 and loves all things Disney. She decided to be Wendy when she grows up after riding Peter Pan 10 times! My son has been obsessed with Mickey since he was 7 months old. His first sentence was “I see Donald!” while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I have dreamed of going to Disney since I was a little girl. I did make it for one day in 1993 but I tend to not count that trip. My brother had just turned 3 and we had to wait in a miserable line for Dumbo. When I tried to move him up in the line he bit a plug out of my arm. My dad got so upset that we left and never returned.

My son has been obsessed with Mickey Mouse since he was 7 months old. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has always been his favorite show. He wasn’t like my daughter who would alternate between shows. If Mickey wasn’t on, he wasn’t watching. We found out that the Mickey Mouse Playhouse stage show was coming to town. We were excited to take him, but when I looked up the price, it was almost $150 for the 4 of us and that was just the cheap seats! I couldn’t believe the cost. So I got to looking at a trip to Disney World.

I always thought Disney would be out of our reach for years. I thought it would cost thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. I didn’t realize that I could do it for just under $2,000! $2,000 for 8 nights. I was stoked. Then I looked into the theme of the year. “What will you celebrate?” Well, my daughter was turning 5 in May, so we thought with the buy 4 get 3 deal and the birthday theme, this was the time to go. Our package was for 2 adults, 1 child and 1 infant. We chose 8 day tickets with park hopper option. We also added the Magic Your Way dining plan. With 8 nights accommodations, our package total was $1906.

When I started planning the trip, I was so lost. So I approached Disney like I would a research paper for school. I checked out over 20 guide books from the library. (My favorites were The Complete Disney Book and Unofficial Guide to Disney) I also joined the Disboards, Tour Guide Mike, Touring Plans, (list more sites). I asked lots of questions and I read tons of threads. By the time we left, I was fully educated and armed with an iron clad plan.

We decided to keep it secret from the kids. I love surprising my daughter and it is kind of easy to do because she is very unobservant. I planned for 5 months, and she never figured it out. We told her that we were going on a trip. She automatically decided we were going to the beach and we didn’t tell her differently.

We left Birmingham on Monday , May 11th. We live about 10 hours from Orlando and we were so excited to be going that we left at 3 am! (Shhh I don’t tell a lot of people this because they think we are crazy!) I think next time we might leave at 3 pm though. My kids did not go back to sleep like we hoped they would. They were up from 3 am until 8 pm that night.

The drive wasn‘t too bad.. We stopped at an awesome McDonald’s in Lake City about 2 hours outside Orlando and let the kids run off some energy. We talked to a few people there that had been to Disney before. They had some good tips for us and it excited us even more. The kids still didn’t know where we were going!

We approached the gate at Disney about 3 in the afternoon. Emily was looking around wide eyed and then she spotted the big Mickey and Minnie Mouse. She started giggling and pointing. I asked her where Mickey and Minnie lived and she responded with Disney World! That’s right! We were at Disney World! She started chuckling and telling her brother. But by then, he had spotted the Disney busses. Every time a bus would pass, he would laugh to himself like it was his own personal joke. “Hehehehe.”

We checked in at Pop. We had chosen Pop Century because of it’s status as a value resort and because they didn’t share a bus with any other resort. We also loved the theming. My kids were fascinated by the huge Lady and Tramp. We got a first floor room across from the computer pool. When we entered our room, there was a birthday card from Mickey Mouse waiting on Emily. How sweet!

We unpacked and decided to drive around Disney and get a feel for everything. It was so fun to see the signs for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, etc. After months of planning, we were finally here. We ate in the Pop food court for dinner. It was really good. The price was crazy though! It was almost $60 for dinner and 2 refillable mugs. (The mugs were $12.99 each but you get unlimited refills for the duration of your stay.)

I had the hardest time falling asleep that night. I was like a kid at Christmas. (I had the hardest time falling asleep every night) I think I was the one in my family that had looked the most forward to this vacation. It’s probably because of my 100 or so hours of planning. But I enjoyed every minute of it!

Tuesday morning was our first day in the parks. We chose to visit Magic Kingdom because I didn’t feel like we were really at Disney until we saw the castle. My son could not believe it when we boarded the bus and he got to ride. He laughed and smiled the whole drive. (The busses turned out to be his most favorite part of Disney.) We met the nicest woman on the bus from Tour Guide Mike. She gave me a lot of great advice such as boarding the busses no later then 8 am if you wanted to make it to rope drop. I didn’t even know that! Hours and hours of planning and I thought you just had to board the bus by 8:30 am.

We got to Magic Kingdom though in plenty of time. We chose a spot up near the right hand gate and my daughter got on my husband’s shoulders to watch the welcome show. The mayor was so fun to listen to and when my daughter saw Mickey and Minnie for the first time, she gasped. She didn’t realize they would be bigger than her! My son could of cared less. Gotta love a 2 year old!

Our first and most important mission was to get to Dumbo. There is an awesome touring plan by Unofficial Guide to Disney called Dumbo or Die. And that was our goal. It was a little frustrating because we didn’t know exactly where we were going, but I had my awesome map to guide us. (If you want one, it’s from the book Passporter. It has times on it that tell you how long it will take to get from place to place.) We made it to Dumbo in record time and we were able to ride it on it’s second take off! My daughter chose a pink elephant and rode with my husband. I chose to ride with the 2 year old, because honestly… I’m scared of Dumbo. It’s ridiculous I know, but I am so scared of heights.

After Dumbo, we grabbed a Fastpass to Peter Pan before riding it. Emily could not believe her eyes when we flew over London. She had never seen the movie, but the story was told so well through the ride, it was like she knew it by heart. We rode Pooh next. This ride became Jacob’s favorite. I think the part when you bounce like Tigger was the main factor behind his choice.

Next it was time to spin in the tea cups. We didn’t have to wait in line at all! We were kind of nervous about spinning at first because we didn’t want to get motion sickness, but we ended up sitting back and letting the kids for it.

Toontown opened while we were on the tea cups so we headed over to Goofy’s Barnstormer. No line! But I am going to be dead honest, I was scared out of my mind. Isn’t that crazy! A 26 year old woman scared of a roller coaster her 2 year old loved. I wish I could just get over my fears. But both the kids loved it and wanted to ride it again and again!

We decided to let the kids play at the little playground in Toontown while DH ran to get Fastpasses to Jungle River Rapids. This probably wasn’t the best idea in hindsight, but it’s really kind of hard to plan when you are a first time guest. Jacob loved climbing up the slides. I tried to stop him! I really did. But up every slide he went.

By now, it was 10:30 and time to head to Chef Mickeys for our breakfast reservation. This was the first time we got to ride the monorail. Jacob didn’t like it quite as much as the busses and the kids were kind of irritated when we got off at the first stop.

The restaurant was kind of crowded and we waited almost 20 minutes for the table. Emily made a new friend and the 2 girls danced around the waiting area entertaining everyone. We got a decent table with a great view of all the action. My kids had NO IDEA we were dining with the fab five. They weren’t in our dining area right away so I had time to run and get the kids some Mickey waffles. Delicious!

Goofy was first to our table. Jacob was excited and pointed at him. Emily was giggling and jumping up and down. When Jacob spotted Pluto, he started shaking with excitement. He couldn’t wait to get close to him. Pluto did not disappoint. He signed the kids handmade autograph books (Thanks Karyn!) and posed for a picture and a hug.

We had to be patient and wait for Donald to make his rounds. We always managed to sit towards the end of the rotation. But my kids were happy to pig out on their Mickey waffles and I was glad for the opportunity to run to the buffet without having to worry about missing the character interaction.

Next it was time for a kiss from Mickey. I had been waiting for months for Jacob’s reaction to Mickey. He acted like it was no big deal! He was more excited to meet Pluto. Huh. Who would of thought! But Emily was more excited then a kid in a candy store. And Minnie Mouse was as sweet to Emily as she could be.

All in all, Chef Mickey’s was awesome! It is definitely a place we wouldn’t hesitate to visit again. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was fun! There were even birds flying around. They weren’t suppose to be, but with the monorail opening there isn’t much they can do to prevent it.

We took the monorail loop around to the Magic Kingdom. The kids were all smiles since their tummies were full. We picked up a Birthday button on our way back into the park. The button lady even wrote Emily’s name on her button and gave her a Mickey head for the I. The Celebrate street party was just starting so we grabbed a spot to enjoy it. Emily didn’t understand why all the dancers thought it was her birthday (it was the next day).

Next, we made the hot, hot mistake of watching Dream Along with Mickey. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and the sun was high and hot. We were miserable through the whole show. But it was a great show that definitely should not be missed!

After the show, we headed behind the castle to use our Peter Pan fast pass from earlier. Emily quickly declared Peter Pan her favorite ride. We also rode the carousel with no wait. Did you know there is a horse with a golden ribbon on her tail? This is Cinderella’s horse!

Next, it was time to catch the 3 o clock parade. Emily took her place atop Jason’s shoulders for a great view. Jacob and I stayed back away from the crowds. He wasn’t really interested in the parade and it was so hot!

Right as the parade ended, a light rain began to fall. It was refreshing. It sent people running and we used the opportunity to go ride The Jungle Cruise. It wasn’t one of our favorite rides but it was neat to hear all the corny jokes.

But then the rain started to come harder, so we decided to call it a day. On our way out of the park, Emily spotted Rafiki. She had no idea who he was, but she wanted to meet him. She was squealing and jumping up and down. She was so excited to present him with his own special page to sign in her book.

We decided to just eat from the Pop Century food court for dinner. It was delicious, but it was really crowded because of the rain. We found out that we could get these huge sundaes as a desert credit with our meal. It was big enough for the four of us!

Getting to bed that night was easy. We were exhausted from the long day and the heat. We are used to the higher temeperatures since we are from Alabama, but we usually aren’t out in it all day long. It was not fun to feel your feet burning through your shoes.

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