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Michael Banks -- December 2004 -- Walt Disney World (SOG)


Cast Members

  • Mike (33) - Narrator
  • Becca (32) – My wife
  • Cole ( 3 ½) – Son
  • Mason (5 mo.) – Son
  • Bill (73) – Becca’s father
  • Emily (63) – Becca’s mother
  • Kevin (36) - Becca’s brother
  • Ellen (44) – Kevin’s wife
  • Uncle Dick (67) – Bills’ brother
  • Aunt Shirley (68) – Uncle Dick’s wife

Back as early as fall of 2001 we started talking with Becca’s parents about going back to Shades of Green for another WDW family vacation (Becca and I came with her parents and stayed at SoG in 1999). About a year later Becca and I started putting feelers out to the whole family about interest in a large family WDW trip in 2004. Everyone was pretty excited about the idea (except for Kevin who kindly refers to Disney as the corporate death machine). At a family get together on Christmas Eve 2002 I handed out a budget for each family listing approximate cost based on members of each family and listed how much would be needed to be saved each month. These budgets went over well and everyone was still excited about going.

No major vacation planning was done over the next year until the first week of December 2003, when we reserved 3 rooms for Friday December 3rd, 2004 check-in for 8 nights. Another Christmas Eve came and once again I had another Disney related gift to give everyone. I made a countdown calendar that had a different Disney picture every month and on the any holiday in each month gave the days till our vacation. I also put everyone’s birthday on it and even took the month of July to announce to the family the upcoming birth of our second child (it turned out to be a boy, born on July 24th).

In the spring of 2004 Becca’s sister Melody told us that she didn’t think her and her family would be able to go. We didn’t cancel the room just in case and sure enough in November Bill’s brother Dick told us he and his wife would be able to meet us for our first weekend. We made various PS arrangements here in there in the fall of 2004, a couple of character breakfasts and a couple of dinners. The big reservation I made was for the Magic Behind the Steam Trains Tour for Thursday the 9th. The only other major development leading up to the trip was getting the best airfare we’ve ever gotten, $129 for non stop Buffalo to Orlando for everyone except Kevin who was taking an extended trip and driving down to see a friend in Georgia and Uncle Dick and Aunt Shirley who do not live in this area. Now that that’s covered on to the trip…

Friday, December 3rd

After a not too busy of a night packing we went to bed at a decent time only to be woken after what seemed like a blink of an eye at 4:45 in the morning. We woke up to a wet snow, our first real snow of the season, and chilly temperatures. Our plan this morning was for Becca and myself to get ready to go, eat a little and load our bags into the truck all before waking up the kids to go. Everything went very smooth, always a nice way to start out a vacation. When we were ready to go we woke up the kids, dressed Cole (Mason traveled in his P.J.’s until we got to the airport) and put them into the truck. As we were about to walk out the door the phone rang, we both knew exactly who it was, Becca’s mother asking us where we were. Becca reminded her that we weren’t going to be to the airport until 6:30 and we would see her soon.

Our flight was departing at 7:30 so we arranged to pick up my father at 6:15 and use him as our airport valet service. We were right on schedule, very exciting for us, and made it over my father’s house right at 6:15. The trip to the airport was a quick one, only about 20 minutes, and we were greeted by Becca’s father who helped us with our bags. Check in was super easy as there was no one else in line at the Southwest counter. We were told the flight was not sold out so we could possibly have a seat for Mason’s car seat. Aside from having to fold up the stroller from hell (a reoccurring theme this trip) security check in was painless. We had about an hour before the flight so Becca and I entertained Cole at the Fisher Price play area the Buffalo airport has while Becca’s parents watched Mason. Soon enough it was time to get in line for preboarding (the best thing about flying with kids) and before we knew it we were being herded into the plane. Each of Becca’s parents were able to sit with me and Becca while Ellen found an empty seat two rows in front. The flight was only 2/3 full and even with a majority of that 2/3rd’s being under 4’ tall the flight was very quiet, and quick. More importantly though is that our kids were great even though Cole told me at one point he didn’t like the kid behind him, for no apparent reason.

We arrived right on time at 10:05, wow 10:05 in the morning, I love those direct flights. We met our driver Ricardo from FL Tours near baggage claim and proceeded to start the search for our luggage. Must everyone in the world have a big rectangular black luggage like me? I mean c’mon people let’s help me out a little here. Finally our last bag arrived and we went downstairs to meet Ricardo who was off getting the van. Our first experience with Florida weather was a good one, it was very sunny and about 63 deg and the best thing about this weather is that this was the coolest it was going to be all week.

The van was fantastic, very comfortable seats and a DVD player to entertain Cole. We stopped at Publix, the same Publix I had stopped at on 3 previous trips. We were in and out in no time and finally on our way to our home for the next week. Soon we were on property and driving by all the familiar sites, Epcot, the Magic Kingdom toll plaza, and the Polynesian before eventually pulling on to Shades of Green property, I even saw my first monorail along the way, red in case you’re wondering. As we were pulling up to the drop off for SoG Kevin was already waiting for us, he had left earlier in the week to visit some friends in Georgia and told us he would meet us, well pretty much right when he did.

After checking our luggage we made our way into the renovated lobby. Everyone was very impressed with the upgrades they’ve made. While everyone rested in the comfy chairs they have Bill and I walked over to the check-in counter. Check-in was very painful, it wasn’t crowded at all but trying to sort out what room we have and who goes in what room was a very arduous task, especially since our third room occupants weren’t here yet (Uncle Dick and Aunt Shirley). Eventually everything got sorted out and we were on our way to our rooms, which were ready, bonus. We were give room 5143, 5144 and 5145, exactly what I had requested in my fax, 3 connecting rooms on an upper floor overlooking the golf course.

As we opened the doors we realized that they had screwed up our rooms, Becca and I were suppose to be in room 5143, not 5145 as we were assigned, We waited in Bill and Emily’s room as Bill went down stairs. Before to long Bill was back and everything was straightened out, finally. Our room was very nice, and large. Two large queen beds, a pull out sofa, a table and a balcony, and what a balcony. I don’t know which was better, the great view we had overlooking the first tee box for the Palm golf course or the weather, at this point it was sunny and 75, perfect. The kids enjoyed not moving while we unpacked. I really shouldn’t say they weren’t moving because Mason rolled over for the first time while we were resting, how cool is that.

By the time we finished unpacking it was creeping closer to dinnertime so we started to get ourselves ready for the trip to the Yacht and Beach for dinner at Beaches and Cream. The only problem is that UD&AS hadn’t arrived yet and we weren’t sure when they would. Bill told us to go ahead and he would try to meet up with us at some point. We gave him a 2-way radio and wished him good luck.

We decided to take the direct AK/MGM bus as opposed to taking the bus to the TTC and then grabbing the MGM bus. We arrived at MGM at 4:45 and walked right over to the boat dock. We’ve done this routine before, Beaches and Cream via MGM, on our first night and it’s always gets me excited for the upcoming days. Soon the boat arrived and we were on our way. As excited as I was about where we were Cole was equally excited about the ducks that were floating by the Friendship. After a quick stop at the Swan and Dolphin we arrived at the Yacht and Beach. We were seated at B&C right away and because they don’t have any infant high chairs we were allowed to bring the stroller in for Mason. We ordered our standard cheeseburgers and I’m happy to report they are still delicious. The meal was great and as soon as I was done I told Cole we could go over to the video arcade because he had behaved so well. We hung out there while everyone else finished their meals. The good thing about Cole is that a trip to the arcade is that it doesn’t break the bank; he’s content just picking up the guns and shooting the screen. Becca soon came next door to relieve me and I finished the hot fudge sundae she ordered on the patio, boy was that good.

I finished up the sundae, dragged Cole from the arcade and we continued down the walkway to the Yacht Club lobby. Along the way Cole got it into his head that he wanted to go see the hot tub so we snuck into an empty Storm Along Bay and made our way to the hot tub. Once his curiosity was satisfied we met up with the rest of the gang in the lobby, I forgot to tell them we were making a little detour, sorry. After marveling at the holiday decorations the rest of the family decided they had enough for the night so we gave them instructions on how to get back to the MGM SoG bus and sent them on their way.

Becca and I proceeded to walk toward Epcot on our way to the Boardwalk. For the briefest of moments as we pushed the stroller along the waterfront it felt like Becca and I were on a trip by ourselves again, no kids, no family just us. It was nice. Then Cole stuck his head out of the stroller to ask us something.

Once we got to the Boardwalk I tried to find one of those thick chocolate chunk cookies they have at the sweet shop. Unfortunately they had every flavor but chocolate chunk, next time then. We continued inside to the lobby and were blown away with the all chocolate carnival display they had, just amazing. It was now starting to get late so we decided to head back to MGM after a quick stop in the gift store. We decided we had enough energy left in us to walk back to MGM, and we’re glad we did. The walk was very nice, it was such a beautiful evening; just cool enough where you need a sweatshirt. We passed by a few people on the way and waved to some people on the Friendship coming from MGM. We later found out that Bill was on that boat with UD&AS. We even got to see some of the Fantasmic! fireworks as we were walking. The walking path actually took us right by the SoG bus drop off where the bus was waiting for us. We were relieved to see that the bus was still there and wouldn’t you know it Emily, Kevin and Ellen were on it. Emily came off the bus to help us with unloading our massive double deep stroller, after we frantically waved for her to come out to us.

After a short bus ride directly back to SoG we made our way up to the room and settled in. we let the kids have some down time before we did the whole nighttime ritual and then put them to bed.

Saturday, December 4th

Mason woke up early today, much earlier than we had hoped he would. I jumped out of bed threw on some clothes and took Mason for a walk around the SoG property. It was already a beautiful day, mostly sunny and just a little brisk. The kind of brisk you enjoy first thing in the morning because you just know as the days goes on it’s going to get much warmer. I eventually made my way back up to the room and saw a familiar figure outside our doors, it was Uncle Dick. We talked a little outside the rooms and decided to see who was up. It turned out that everyone was up and Cole was busy running between our room and Bill and Emily’s.

Most of the group was already dressed and ready to go so we told them we would meet them at the café outside the bus stop. During my walk Becca had gotten a bunch of our stuff together and we were just about ready to head out. We ended up leaving the room around 8:15 with hopes of catching the 8:30 AK/MGM bus. When we got down to the café UD&AS told us they still hadn’t purchased their park tickets so Cole and I walked UD up to the ticket sales office. We changed our travel plans for this morning and caught the 8:45 bus to the TTC and then take the MGM bus. As we pulled up to the bus stop the MGM bus was just about ready to pull away so Kevin started to run to the bus but was unable to convince the driver through the closed door to wait for the rest of us. The next bus to MGM came along shortly and gave us just enough time to get a little more organized.

We ended up arriving to the park, which was very crowded, a popular theme this vacation for us, at 9:10. Most of us still hadn’t eaten so our plan for this morning was starring rolls bakery. While the crew grabbed some food I took everyone’s tickets and went down Sunset Blvd. to get some FP for RNRC and TOT. I only had 6 tickets so I got 5 for RNRC and then went over to TOT. I then got three for TOT and the CM gave me one because of a ticket mishap (I later got our 5th FP before we went on to RNRC, it as for a different time but I stuck it in with our others and the CM never checked, I know a little bit of a scam). When I returned to Starring Rolls everyone had their food and was getting ready to eat, perfect timing. I had a cinnamon roll, which wasn’t nearly as good as the ones at the Main Street Bakery. Once we finished we made our way to the ABC commissary where Bill, UD&AS went to get something more substantial to eat. Once again perfect timing as they were walking out just as we walked up.

Our FP time was just about up so we made our way back to the rides. Well, we made it as far as the sorcerer’s hat where we jumped in line for Christmas Mickey and Pluto. Seeing the mouse was a great way to start off our trip and even better was the fact that Cole loved both Mickey and Pluto and we got some great pictures. Speaking of pictures, boy do I love my digital camera, I was able to take almost 400 pictures this trip, nice. Cole did great with the costumed characters the whole trip; it was the regular characters like Aladdin and Mulan that he was super shy around. After the meet and greet we were once again on our way, this time we made it down to RNRC without any distractions.

Bill, Uncle Dick, Kevin, Ellen and I went onto RNRC while the rest of the gang went to see the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. From RNRC we went onto TOT. Both rides were loved but I think TOT was the favorite. We easily met up the rest of our party thanks to the 2-ways and made plans what to do next. We wanted to do something for Cole so we decided to split up; we went to Playhouse Disney while the rest of the Family went to Indiana Jones. The show was pretty good but Cole went into a shy mode right before it started. He kept saying he liked the show and wanted to stay but he didn’t participate in the dancing parts, although he did enjoy the bubbles. After the show we went to hunt down The Incredibles, who I’ve heard hang out in the animation courtyard. We asked around and were told to walk through the art gallery and we’d run into them. Sure enough we did. Cole must still have been in his shy mode because he had no interest in meeting them. Thank goodness, the line was about a half hour long. As we were leaving The Incredibles the rest of the group called us to let us know they were right outside.

Once we were all together we decided to get FP for Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The FP was for 12:45 so we once again split up. Becca and I hung out with the kids doing a little shopping (browsing) while the rest of the family went to get something to eat. Soon enough it was time for our FP but our group wasn’t together yet. Everyone had his or her own FP so Becca and I decided to go into the queue. Bill, Emily and Ellen soon joined us. The show started seating before the rest of our party could join up with us. The show was great and Cole really liked it, which made me and Becca happy. As we exited the show the rest of our group were waiting for us. Aunt Shirley told us that her step mother, who had been very sick died earlier today and they would be leaving tomorrow

Now that we were finally all together we regrouped at the stroller and made a plan for the rest of the day. Since our stroller was right next to One Man’s Dream we decided that we’d take a walk through before we went to the other side of the park. Everyone liked the attraction and Cole was well behaved enough that I was able to enjoy the movie at the end, thanks Cole. As we exited the movie we grabbed our stroller and walked down Mickey Ave. with plans to see Muppet Vision 3D after a pit stop next to WWTBAM.

Growing up watching The Muppet Show helped to make Muppet Vision 3D a big hit with the whole group. As we exited MV3D we felt a definite nip in the air, luckily we alls till had our warm clothes from this morning. The group stopped at Writer’s Block to pick up a cup of coffee to help them warm up. Since I had both kids in the stroller we stayed out of the store and I walked around hoping they would take a nap. After about 10 minutes everyone had their drinks and the kids were still awake. We took a little break across from Sci-Fi Drive-In where Becca checked on our reservation at the podium. It turns out I had the wrong time for our PS so it was a good thing she checked. The much-needed break gave us a chance to give the kids a few snacks that we had packed for them and get the rest of us off our feet for a while.

It was now 3:10 and it was almost time for the parade so we started toward the parade route. It was already very crowded when we walked up to the rope line. I spotted a little alcove at the very beginning of the parade route right in front of the Star Tours FP entrance that had enough room for us. The parade was pretty good, they took the Stars and Motor Cars Parade added a few Christmas decorations and presto you have yourself a Happy Holiday Parade. Cole really enjoyed the parade. Perched atop a garbage can he was able to get a great view of all the characters and frantically wave to his favorites.

After the parade we walked to the back of the park where, with the exception of Kevin and Ellen who went on Millionaire, we went on the Backlot Tour. Since it was so cold the water show was shortened and we were escorted back to the trams. Aside from getting a good look at Lights, Motor, Action the ride was the same old, same old and we can now skip it on our next few trips. We still had some time before our PS seating so we walked down Mickey Ave for no other reason than to walk than to walk by the Sorcerers Hat. We checked into a very crowded Sci-Fi Diner a few minutes before our 5:15 PS. Everyone took a seat inside to wait for our car to be ready. I took advantage of the long wait we had before we were seated to take the kids for a walk down New York Ave where people where beginning to gather for the Osbourne Light Ceremony. When I got back to the restaurant our table still wasn’t ready so I called my mom and make sure my dog isn’t being too big of a pain. She was glad to hear from me and told me that our dog was just fine. She also wanted to hear all the details about where we were right now and what we had done up to this point of our vacation. When I hung up with my mom I went back to the restaurant and everyone was gone so I went inside and found our cars.

The restaurant itself was very unique. Besides the fact that it’s set up like a drive in theater, obviously, it’s also very, very quiet. It was unlike any dining experience I’ve ever had. Our dinner, however, was less than memorable, the food was fine and the atmosphere was very fun but Mason was VERY cranky. He hadn’t napped all day and it had caught up with him. We had talked about going to see Fantasmic! after but it seemed like Becca and I were the only ones who were going to go. Since she was going back to the hotel, Emily offered to take Mason with her and put him down for the night. At first I declined but half way through a dinner, which consisted of either myself or Becca having to walk Mason to keep him happy we decided to take Emily up on her offer.

Once we finished our meal we went over the Mason nighttime details, said goodbye to everyone and made our way over to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. We arrived just before the show was to start (6:45) and I was shocked to see that the theater was filled and it was literally standing room only. This really shouldn’t have surprised me, the park was very crowded all day today, it was not the same attendance patterns we’ve experienced on previous trips in December. We went to the top of the standing area, I never even knew this was here, and I put Cole on my shoulders once the show started. About 10 minutes into the show my shoulders were killing me so I took Cole off my shoulders and held him for a couple of minutes. He wasn’t happy about that and tried to climb on my shoulders as soon as I took him down. Once I put Cole back up everything was right with the world. Cole absolutely loved the show and had a million questions as we were walking out; most were about the dragon for some reason. More than a month after the trip Cole still walks around the house say, “and all the powers of my imagination” in his best witch voice.

From Fantasmic! we grabbed our stroller and walked over to see the Osbourne Lights. I was glad to see that the line wasn’t nearly as long as it was before Fantasmic! It was the perfect night to see the Spectacle of Lights, it was the coolest night of our trip and the crowds had let up just enough so that it didn’t seem too crazy. It was also nice to spend some alone time just with Cole. We bought a hot chocolate in the Happy Holidays souvenir mug, took a couple pictures and saw the rest of the lights before deciding to call it a night. We still had a little bit of time before the bus was going to be here so we walked through a couple stores on the way out but didn’t end up buying anything.

We waited for what seemed like forever at the bus stop before eventually the bus arrived. We made it back to SOG at around 9:00. When we got up to the room we got Mason’s bad report. We were hoping that when Emily gave him his bottle he would pass right out, that wasn’t the case. He needed a little more attention but eventually fell asleep. We put a very tired Cole into his pajamas, tucked him into bed and he was asleep in a matter of minutes, Becca was soon to follow. That left me sitting in the room at 10:00 at night not quit ready to go to bed. Just then, as if the Magic Kingdom was calling to me Wishes began. I got Becca’s blessing and I was out the door on my way to MK, which was open until midnight tonight.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I walked out the room I was so excited. I went down to the bus stop but realized when I got there I that the next bus wasn’t leaving for another 10 minutes so I started walking to the Polynesian. The walking turned into a light jog and in a matter of minutes I was boarding the resort monorail. I arrived at MK at 10:30 and felt like fish swimming up stream with all the people that were leaving. My first stop was right to City Hall to check on availability of the Veteran of the Day for Monday the 6th but was told that the entire week was full. I was really disappointed about that, Becca and I wanted to surprise Bill with it while we were here on Monday.

When I walked out of City Hall my mind was going a million miles an hour. I’ve never had anytime to myself in a park and I didn’t know what to do first. I quickly decided that I wanted to hit the mountain range. I walked through Casey’s Corner with the thought of picking up a hot dog for the walk but it was pretty busy so I continued on to Splash Mountain. Splash was a total walk on and I had the opportunity to stay on for another ride but I decided to head over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which had a 10-minute wait to it. The ride was amazing. I spent almost the whole ride looking up to a clear sky filled with hundreds of stars. I recalled BTMRR having that same effect on me when I rode it at night on previous trips, a truly magical experience.

From BTMRR I walked through Frontierland, through Fantasyland and on to Tomorrowland. Along the way I was able to see part of the 11:00 showing of the Spectromagic parade and let me just say that this was the parade to see. I don’t know how crowded Main St. was but Frontierland was, well a ghost town. For most of my walk I was walking right along the rope line and not blocking anyone’s view. Back in Tomorrowland I stopped by Space Mountain that claimed to have a 55-minute wait. I found that hard to believe but decided to ride the WEDway People Move (TTA) and go on SM next. It was now just about 11:30 so I made my way back to Main St. and stopped at Casey’s Corner and bought the jumbo dog and pop I wanted to get earlier. I took my food and went down to the train station where I grabbed a table on the second floor. While I was up there a CM came by to empty out one of the garbage cans and he told me “You realize your all alone here?” I told him I did and he replied ”Isn’t it great?” A CM after my own heart.

After my jumbo dog I had just enough time to walk back over to Tomorrowland where I was able to finally go on SM, which by this time was a complete walk on. On my way out of the park I stopped by the Main St. Bakery and got myself a Toll House Cookie and a milk to enjoy on my way back to SOG. I ended up finally leaving the park around 12:30 and was immediately seated on the resort monorail back to the TTC. As I was exiting the monorail at the TTC I saw a man talking to the TTC CM about the new monorail narration. As I continued down the ramp I noticed the man was jotting what I assume was his conversation with the CM and wondered if he was taking notes for a trip report. Trip report man ended up taking the Wilderness Lodge/FW bus so I made a note to myself to keep my eye open for a trip report that that fits this description. The SOG bus took so long to arrive at the TTC that I contemplated walking back to the hotel. I wish I had, the short ride back to the hotel was a very awkward ride that consisted of conversations about different nightclubs in the Western New York area. I finally walked back into the room at 1:15 and Becca happened to be up feeding Mason. I told her the bad news about the flag ceremony and went to bed.

Sunday, December 5th

After my late night last night morning came much too quickly. Thankfully today was a planned day off so we didn’t have to rush out to a park this morning. I took Cole for a walk when he woke up, partly to give Becca some more sleep time and also to pick up a paper. There was no paper at the store yet so we just got some snacks and enjoyed them on a couple of chairs outside the store. When Cole and I finally made it back up to the room Becca told me that Mason woke up as soon as we left the room. Being the good husband that I am I offered to take both kids for a walk around the hotel.

We headed down toward the pool area where Cole and I dipped our feet in the hot tub while poor Mason was stuck in his stroller, sorry buddy. The hot tub was too hot for Cole so we went over to the Mill Pond pool so Cole could play in the kiddie pool. Cole isn’t a big fan of the water so our stay at the kiddie pool was short lived. Once we left the pool area I noticed that Mason’s nose was bleeding a little. I started freaking out about this forced Cole to go back up to the room. Cole was having such a good time he didn’t want to go back up to the room but I gave him no choice. When we got up stairs I barged into the room and showed Becca Mason’s nose and she told me that it’s been happening a little bit lately and it’s no big deal. Grateful that we wouldn’t be making a trip to the emergency room today everyone hung out in the room for a little bit. We said our goodbyes to Uncle Dick and Aunt Shirley, who were leaving to go home, and had a few breakfasty type snacks in the room. Becca put Mason down for a nap in the bathroom while Cole watched TV and we enjoyed the balcony on what was turning out to be a beautiful day. We let Cole watch the rest of the Spongebob episode he was watching and got him dressed to head down to the pools.

Cole and I headed down to the pools with plans for Becca to meet us once Mason woke up. We started off at the Mill Pond pool but Cole wasn’t enjoying either the big pool or the kiddie pool so I suggested we go to the hot tub and he agreed. There weren’t to many people at the Magnolia pool but Cole was the only young kid that was there and I kinda felt sorry for the older people that just wanted to enjoy a quiet afternoon by the pool. We unloaded our gear with Kevin and Ellen who were already there and went to the hot tub first. When they say hot tub they aren’t kidding, it was almost too hot for me. Of course if the temperature wasn’t already in the 80’s maybe I would have stayed in a little longer.

The pool was nice and warm, if you gave it a few bubbles you could consider it a large hot tub. The great thing about the Magnolia pool is that they have a huge stair area when you enter the pool, which is perfect for someone who’s not to big on the pool like Cole. I managed to get Cole to walk down a couple of steps and even pulled him in the pool a few times (he didn’t care for that too much). For the most part he just hung out on the first step or walked around the deck reciting lines from Aladdin, loudly. While Cole was marching around the pool deck Becca and Mason arrived so I brought him into the pool with me, he seemed to like the water. Even Becca came in for a little bit.

It was starting to get late and I was getting hungry so Cole, Bill and I went to Evergreens to grab something to eat before we head over to Downtown Disney. When we walked in the greeter, who wasn’t very friendly, told Bill he couldn’t come in because he didn’t have a shirt on and Cole couldn’t come in because he didn’t have shoes on. I put Cole’s water shoes on him so we could go in but Bill decided to go back to the room. Cole was very well behaved in the restaurant and we split an order of chicken fingers, which where just awful. During the meal Cole said his feet were bothering him so I took off his water shoes while we ate. On our way out the greeter made a point of asking about Cole’s lack of footwear, told you she wasn’t the happiest person in the world.

Cole and I returned to the room where everyone was just about ready for our afternoon at Downtown Disney. In the afternoon the SOG bus drops you off at the unused West Side bus stops, which was a nice change for us. Normally we don’t make it past Pleasure Island so we were able to see things we haven’t seen in a while. We walked through the West Side without visiting any stores or restaurants and I remembered why we don’t come down here very often. As we began to walk to the Marketplace Cole started to get out of control. He was upset about something and just wouldn’t calm down. He was so bad that we threatened to take him back to the room. This was the only time of the trip we had to make this threat and boy did it hurt. What if he didn’t calm down? What if he called my bluff? Would I really have to cut my afternoon short? Luckily for me he did calm down, he was still mad about something but he stopped his tantrums and just stayed quiet in his stroller.

Having not eaten lunch the rest of the group was hungry so we walked over to Earl of Sandwich where Becca, Bill and Emily all picked up something. I was still full from my awful chicken fingers from SOG so I strapped Mason into the baby carrier and walked around. I was still on the hunt for those huge chocolate chunk cookies so I stopped next door and finally found them. We stopped at Art of Disney and then checked in with Becca who was still finishing her snack, which she said was great. Since Istill had a few minutes I went over to the pin traders store where, despite Becca’s protests, I purchased a pin and a lanyard. Cole was still grumpy but Mason had fallen asleep in the infant carrier so we took advantage of this time to browse through some of the stores.

Once Becca was done eating we bought my cookies and some snacks for Cole, if he ever cheers up. Next we stopped into Days of Christmas where we were very disappointed to find out that the Mickey series ornament that we were collecting was sold out for the year. I also wanted to get Mason a guest of honor badge to match Cole’s but they were out of stock on those also, next trip I guess. After purchasing a few other ornaments we went to Once Upon a Toy and Cole finally came out of his shell. We didn’t buy anything but Cole had some much needed play time. Now that Cole was in a better mood we took some pictures of him and Mason, who had woken up while we were in the Christmas store. We got a couple of great pictures in front of the inflatable Stitch outside of OUaT and the Christmas tree decorated with toys. The rest of the group moved on while Cole and I stayed back to take a few pictures with the Buzz statue outside OUaT.

We finally caught up with the group at World of Disney, thanks to the 2-way radios. I picked out a sweatshirt and a few shirts for the kids, not too much damage. It was time for Mason’s feeding so while Becca was taking care of that Cole and I watched a high school band performing Christmas songs at the stage outside of WoD. Becca and her parents joined up with us and we made our way to the bust stop, which is moved to the marketplace in the evening for some reason. As we were walking we passed by the Lego store and we just couldn’t walk by without letting Cole play in the playground. While we let Cole blow off some steam we decided that it would be faster to take a WDW bus to the Polynesian and walk back to SOG from there.

We walked over to the PI bus stop and before to long we were on our way. When we arrived at the Polynesian Cole reminded us we didn’t get any pressed pennies at DTD like we promised so we sent Becca’s parents ahead while we went into the Great Ceremonial House and found the pressed penny machine. On the way back to SOG we became worried that Bill and Emily could have made a wrong turn and gotten lost. Along the path we passed a couple coming from SOG and asked if they came across and older couple. They told us they did not and now we were really worried. I sent Becca ahead to the hotel and searched every path between the Polynesian and the Wedding Pavilion but no sight of Bill or Emily.

After searching what seemed like forever, but was probably only 20 minutes, Becca 2-wayed me and told me her parents were in fact back at the hotel. Now I wasn’t mad at the people who told us they didn’t see Bill and Emily, even though they must have walked right by them, I just wondered why they didn’t tell us they weren’t sure. Anyways as exhausted as I was I did enjoy walking along Seven Seas Lagoon, it was very calm and tranquil. Once I got back to the hotel I joined everyone at the restaurant and enjoyed the prime rib buffet. After our late dinner we spent the rest of the night in our room winding down before putting the kids to bed around 9:00. I foolishly stayed up until 12:00 watching T.V. and catching up on my trip report notes.

Monday, December 6th

Today is our first a Magic Kingdom day and we had early PS for Crystal Palace so we were up and at ‘em a little too early as far as I’m concerned, but I knew all this when I was watching TV last night so I have no one to blame but myself. Our PS was for 9:05 (MK opened at 9:00 today) so I wanted a little alone time in the park with the family (minus Kevin and Ellen who were going to Epcot) this morning so we grabbed the 8:00 bus to the TTC, took the express monorail to the park and we walking through the turnstiles at 8:30. We were surprised to see that they started letting the general public in along with us. Everyone was very excited to be let through the turnstiles and just started to get up to speed when a CM at the train station stopped them. Because of our PS we were let through but I felt so bad for the CM trying to contain all the people rushing in.

Once we made it through the train station, we had the park all to ourselves, well almost; there were a couple of people here and there but good enough for me. We walked down to the hub where we took some pictures without hordes of people around. Cole was very crabby, we decided that he was probably a little overwhelmed with our crazy morning and finally had his fill. Cole didn’t throw any temper tantrums, and he actually came around pretty quick. After a few great pictures we made our way to Crystal Palace where we were seated almost immediately.

Cole’s attitude did a complete 180 and he had a wonderful breakfast, which Becca and I was thankful for. He loved all the characters and even ate like we have never fed him. Cole wasn’t the only one to eat well; man do I love this buffet. The breakfast casserole and the waffles are to die for. We just finished our meal as the last character (Tigger) visited us so we grabbed our stuff said hello to Piglet on the way out and got ourselves together for the rest of the day. Becca took the kids into the baby care center next door while I put away our sweatshirts and organized the stroller. I suggested we get locker but Becca thought we didn’t need one (we made it through the day just fine without one). Now that we were all together we made our way to Fantasyland via Liberty Square.

Our first stop in Fantasyland was Mickey’s Philharmagic, which was sooo good. After a quick stop next door for Peter Pan FP we went on Cinderella’s Golden Carousel next. This is always a fun ride; Becca sat on a bench with Mason while Cole rode on his own horse for the first time. Since we exited right in front of it we went on Snow White next. While in line a family from Give Kids the World got in line behind us, which was quit long at a legitimate 10 minute wait. Becca told them that they could go right to the exit and not have to wait in the lines. They thanked us and where greeted by a CM almost immediately.

Now I have read about other children being scared on this ride but never gave it much thought, until I was sitting next to a 3 year old with his hands over his eyes asking when the ride was going to be over. Needless to say we didn’t go back on again the rest of our trip. We still had a little time before our Pan FP so we stopped into Tinkerbell’s Treasures where we just picked up a pressed penny to add to Cole’s collection. Our FP time was now here so we went over to Pan where Cole once again had a hard time with the ride.

Fantasyland was becoming unbelievably crowded (I thought this was the off season) so we decided to head out. We walked back to Liberty Square where we went on the Liberty Belle Riverboat; this was our first time on this ride since we were here with Bill and Emily in 1999. The ride was very nice; Becca was able to find a seat while I shadowed Cole who was having a great time walking up and down all the stairs on the boat. Once we were docked we kept walking to Frontierland and got FP for Splash Mountain and BTMRR, which were valid in about an hour. Since we had some time we took a loop on the Walt Disney World Railroad. Between the heat and the crowds this little trip on the train was a nice break. Unfortunately when the train pulled back into Frontierland it was still hot and the crowds had not dispersed. We still had about a half hour before our FP time so Bill and I got a pop while the girls looked through the Briar store before we met at the little playground at the exit to Splash Mountain where we let Cole have some play time.

Finally our time was here so we went to BTMRR first. As we were walking down the ramp it appeared we were going to be in the first few rows of the train but the girls in front of us were told to go to the back of the train instead of the second row. The CM then asked us if we were with them. Fearing that we would be given the second row if he knew we were not, I told the CM that we in fact were with them and we were also told to go to the back of the train. From BTMRR we went to SM where I enjoyed the little cool off.

After Bill and I got off of SM we gathered the group and made our way back through Frontierland on our way to Adventureland. We made a stop at the Sunshine Tree Terrace stand where we bought an orange ice cream and raspberry lemonade to split. While Cole was eating I ran over to Jungle Cruise and picked up FP for about 90 minutes from now. I joined back up with the group and we headed toward the hub to get ready for the 3:30 Share a Dream Come True parade. Along the way Becca stopped to visit with Aladdin and Jasmine while Bill and I went to the first aid station to see if they had something to fix his glasses. Sure enough they had an eyeglass repair kit we were able to use, Disney thinks of everything. Luckily for me we met back up with Becca right before they were about to walk up to Aladdin and I was able to take Cole up to meet them. Cole wasn’t too happy about meeting them, but I made the most of my time with Jasmine. I’m sure she still thinks of me often. After Jasmine said goodbye to her young prince (I still say she was talking to me not Cole) we continued onto the hub but got delayed again just over the Adventureland bridge where we saw Baloo, Rafiki and Timon. We asked Cole if he wanted to say hi to them and he said he did, and he loved them. It was this way the whole vacation, Cole loved the costumed characters but real people characters scared him.

It was 2:45 by the time we got to the hub. We made it just in time as it was starting to fill up. Right where the parade enters the hub from Liberty Square that had put up a rope that no one was sitting along. After asking a nearby CM if we could sit there we parked our double stroller right along the rope (finally a use for that large stroller). It was really starting to fill up now so a CM gathered a bunch of kids in the street to play some games while everyone was waiting for the parade to start. I asked Cole if he wanted to play with everyone and he said he did, which kind of surprised me. Of course once Cole got out there he did his own thing, mainly just running around all the kids while they played red light green light and Simon says. It was very funny.

As Cole was enjoying himself I looked over at Emily and our stroller to see someone sitting in front of our stroller on the wrong side of the rope. When the games finally ended the man was still sitting in on the pavement with his camcorder ready. I made my way back to the stroller with Cole when the CM who was running the game told the man, who didn’t seem to speak English, he couldn’t sit there. I knew where this was going so I braced my stroller with my feet and sure enough he tried to squeeze between my stroller and the rope. This didn’t work out and the CM came back over and asked him again to move so he slid onto the curb right in front of a young girl who had been sitting there longer than we were. Everyone was totally disgusted by this scumbag move. Luckily for his own safety he moved back onto the pavement as soon as the CM walked away. This didn’t go unnoticed and soon a security guard was sent over to ask him once again to move and that finally did the trick. I understand why he wanted to stay there so bad; it was an awesome spot to view the parade. We had an unobstructed view as the parade came over the Liberty Square Bridge and then had Cinderella’s Castle as a backdrop as it turned left.

As the parade was ending our JC FP became valid so we made our way back to Adventureland. We don’t go on this ride very often because I think it’s kind of corny but I though that Cole would enjoy it. As it turns out I enjoyed it more than he did, skipper Dan was very funny. From JC we went across the way to Aladdin Magic Carpet, which was good fun.

We wanted to catch the flag retreat at 5:00 so we thought it was a good time to stop for dinner. We decided to cross the park and eat at Cosmic Ray’s, which is always a favorite. By the time we finished dinner and made it to the flag retreat it was about half over. As we watched the conclusion of the ceremony Becca ran over to City Hall to double check if there were any availabilities for Bill to be in the ceremony and sure enough Thursday was available. I don’t know what happened between today and Saturday night when I checked but we were both very happy about the good news.

While we were in the area we stopped to get Mason his first set of Mickey ears. It’s funny to see how huge the hat is on Mason, I can’t help but remember when we got Cole his 3 years earlier it was just as big on him and now it fits perfectly. It was just about time for Mason to eat so Becca grabbed a seat in front of exposition hall and fed him. After Mason’s “dinner” we put the kids, in their matching shirts and Mickey ears in front of a bunch of poinsettias and took a ton of pictures. We managed to get a couple good ones (love that digital camera) and picked one to use as our Christmas card when we got back home. Just as we were finishing the photo shoot they were starting the tree lighting ceremony, which was pretty good, although I thought the mayor was a little over the top.

After the tree lighting it was on to Tomorrowland. Have I mentioned how extremely busy this park was today? Once in Tomorrowland we still had a little time before our Buzz FP that we picked up on the way to the flag retreat were valid so we filled the time with a trip on the TTA. During the ride Mason had fallen asleep so Becca sat out Buzz this time. Once again another dark ride and another ride that Cole spent the whole ride with his eyes covered and that’s too bad because Cole loves Buzz and I think if he gave the ride a chance he really would have liked it. We met up with Becca and her parents after Buzz and went onto Carousel of Progress next. At least we tried to go onto CoP next. As soon as we sat down Cole said he had to go to the bathroom so I told Becca I would take Cole and be in the next theatre.

I left the ride with Cole and took him to the Tomorrowland bathrooms. I put Cole on my shoulders to save time but when we got into the bathrooms I lifted him off without noticing a dropped soffit over the urinals. When I lifted Cole off my shoulders I cracked his head into the soffit directly above us. Now when I say I cracked his head I mean I slammed his head into it. To this day I’m amazed that he never bled but he did scream like there was no tomorrow. I felt awful. He eventually calmed down and I almost tried to buy his forgiveness at the Buzz kiosk outside of Space Ranger Spin. When Becca walked off of CoP she was surprised to see us waiting for her. I explained what happened and we went over to the first aid center for and ice pack for his big bump.

We crossed Main Street on our way to the first aid center and it was packed with people for Spectromagic Once finished up at the first aid center Becca and Emily went next door to the baby care center to feed Mason while the rest of us boys went to Pirates of the Caribbean to buy Cole a sword he saw earlier. We picked up the sword (a bargain at $3.50) and went onto Aladdin because there was no line. Once the ride was over I started to hear Spectromagic approaching Frontierland so we slipped through the pass thru and watched the parade. I called Becca to meet us but she still wasn’t finished feeding Mason so Cole, Bill and I enjoyed the parade by ourselves (and the thousands of other people). As the parade was ending Becca showed up, just in time to turn around. We walked back through Adventureland on our way to the hub to watch Wishes, which was starting in a little bit. This was our first time seeing Wishes and everyone loved it. We had a perfect viewing spot for it right I the middle of the hub.

After Wishes we joined up with the hordes of people leaving the park and after walking through a few of the shops we were soon in line for the resort monorail. The monorail took forever to get there, so long that by the time we were loaded they had shut down the express monorail. Once we finally arrived at the TTC we caught the SOG shuttle and took the long walk up to our rooms.

Tuesday, December 7th

After our exhausting day yesterday I was looking forward to getting some sleep. Unfortunately Mason had other ideas and woke up way to early. I threw on some appropriate clothes, grabbed Mason, the baby carrier and left for a little walk to give Becca and Cole some more rest. I was feeling extra adventurous today so Mason and I walked to the Polynesian. It was great walking around the Polynesian again and when we finally got back to the room Becca and Cole were up and just about ready to head out to the Animal Kingdom. The whole family was going to AK today but they weren’t quit ready to go so we told them we would look for them at the park.

When Becca and I got down to the busses we missed the AK bus so we took the TTC bus to catch the AK bus from there. We arrived to the park at 9:10, just after opening and walk right to the Festival of the Lion King. Cole of course didn’t want to go (he never wants to do anything until he’s doing it). The theatre was pretty empty when we walked in and we took our seats in the warthog section right near the exit just in case. As soon as we sat down Cole had to go to the bathroom so we stepped out while the theatre was still filling up. When we got back the show had just started. Cole was so-so about the show until the guy with the fire came out. Once he saw fire guy he started to get into it, he loved the tumble monkeys and a stilt walker came over to shake his hand.

After the show we walked back to Kilamanjaro Safari to get FP. On our way back to KS we ran into the rest of our party. I was amazed that we met up. To pass the time the rest of the family took a walk on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. While we waited we had a couple of snacks, got Cole a pressed penny and browsed through shops. Cole spent most of the time playing with the rubber snakes outside of the shop. The family finished with the trail just as our FP window was about to become valid. Before we went on the ride Kevin needed to go to first aid to get a band-aid for a blister on his foot.

When Kevin finally returned he was without the band-aid he was looking for. He said he couldn’t find the first aid station but did run into someone from England that he got to talking to. KS was great and there were tons of animals. From KS we walked over to Asia to get some FP for Kali River Rapids where we made plans to meet up at the end of the FP window at 1:30 which gave us about 2 hours.

Becca and I took the kids to Dinoland with the rest of the family joining us for the walk to Flametree BBQ. Once in Dinoland Becca took Cole onto Triceratop Spin while I stayed with Mason who had fallen asleep. By the time Cole and Becca returned Mason was awake so Becca fed him while I took Cole on TS again, which was a walk on. After the ride we met up with Becca and Cole convinced us to buy him an orange bar, of course he had to give the CM the money. While Cole enjoyed his treat and Mason was still in the middle of his lunch I went over to Primevil Whirl. I ended up in a car with 2 other girls but still had half the car to myself, which proved to be a painful experience. Without anyone to lean against, you get thrown all over the place. After the ride I hobbled back to the family where everyone was just about done eating. Cole was covered in his orange popsicle. We cleaned him up and took him over to Dino Dig to blow off some steam.

Cole and I walked into Dino Dig together but 2 steps in he was long gone. I found a spot up high where I could keep an eye on Cole, who from the looks of it was having a great time. Up to this point today (and through the rest of the night) had been the perfect Disney day, the weather was perfect, everyone was in great mood and our pace was perfect, not too fast so we were able to enjoy everything we were doing. After letting Cole have his fun I found him getting in trouble (for the second time) for climbing where he wasn’t suppose too. I somehow managed to drag him out and we made our way to Kali River Rapids by way of Expedition Everest.

We made it to the arranged meeting place just before our FP window expired and made our way through the queue. We convinced Cole to go on the ride with us by telling him it was “kinda like a sprinkler ride”. Cole was excited to go on the ride and was actually enjoying it until we got turned around just before we were to go down the big hill. Cole and I ended up going down the hill backwards and just about went under water. Once we came back up for air Cole was freaking out to the point it was all Becca and I could do not to laugh. We managed to calm him down almost right away and as I looked around I realized everyone else was almost completely dry.

After the ride it was time for us to head back to the hotel for a little down time before our night at Epcot. On the way out we stopped to visit with Pluto and Meeko from Pocahontas. Cole really enjoyed seeing the characters and the pictures of him still soaking wet from KRR interacting with them turned out great. We had about a 15-minute wait for the bus, which cut into our hotel down time. Once we finally did get back we had about an hour before we had to head back out. We took this time to give the boys their tubs so we didn’t have to do it later tonight when we were dead tired. Too soon our hour was up and most of us headed out (Kevin said he would join us at LeCellier for our 6:30 dinner. We took the SOG bus to the TTC where I ran ahead in hopes of getting the front of the monorail to Epcot. As I approached the monorail platform a group was just being loaded into the front cab so I was all set for the next train. Becca’s mom was nice enough to take Mason for us so Becca, Cole and I could enjoy the front cab together.

Once we finally made it past security and through the gates everyone walked over to the land pavilion while I ran over to Mission: Space and Test Track to pick up FP for Bill and myself. Mission: Space was a total walk on when I stopped to get the FP and I debated on calling Bill on the 2-ways to have him meet me but I decided not and joined the crew outside the land after picking up the TT FP. Back at the land everyone was waiting outside while Becca fed Mason. When she was done we went inside and got in line for Living with the land. The ride is a favorite of ours but this time the skipper wasn’t the best. From the Land we walked over to Honey I Shrunk the Audience where we were able to see the whole preshow. We liked it but would have enjoyed it more if the woman right next to us wasn’t talking on her cell phone through most of it. Everyone enjoyed Honey and once we were outside Bill and I left the group to go on MS and TT. We went on MS first, which still had no line but the preshow took forever. I was made the pilot and let me just say it was a wise decision on their part because I performed all my jobs flawlessly. That’s more than I can say for the girl who sat next to me. She was too busy screaming to hit her assigned buttons. The ride was great and my stomach was fine until the end when you land on Mars. I kept thinking to myself “Gary Sinise said not to close my eyes and keep looking forward, look forward, look forward”. As we exited the ride I didn’t notice anyone vomiting so everyone else must have been saying the same thing as me.

By the time we got off of MS it was just about 6:30 so we skipped TT and walked over to LeCellier where Kevin was waiting for us. Kevin had checked us in and had the pager but I still had to talk to the hostess about whether they had an infant high chair (they did not). Becca and the rest of the family joined up with the group just as the pager went off, perfect timing. We were seated in the corner, which worked out great for us because we were able to keep Mason in his removable stroller seat. I had the cheese soup and prime rib (I don’t remember what everyone had), which was very good although I really didn’t care for the glaze they put on it. When the meal was over Cole was starting to get cranky so I told him we could go sit in the stroller after he went to the bathroom. For whatever reason Cole didn’t like this idea, I think he wanted to go right to the stroller, the day was taking its toll on him. I did manage to get him into the bathroom and after took him outside where we walked around for a few minutes. Cole started down the path to the Oh Canada movie until he got scared (I think he saw he waterfall and had KRR flashback).

The rest of the group came out just as I was putting Cole into the stroller and we walked down to UK. We camped out here for a while and everyone scattered. The girls went into the different shops while I went into the Rose and Crown pub and got myself a Black and Tan. I was able to sit down and enjoy my drink before everyone finished what they were doing and we walked onto France. We wanted to look at the pastries but the line was so long we skipped it so we continued onto Morocco. At this point both boys were asleep, which was a big relief for Becca and me. In Morocco I parked the stroller and hung out while everyone else browsed. Morocco was a fan favorite, of course.

We skipped Japan but the funnel cake stand was too much for everyone to resist. Becca and I split a regular with chocolate syrup while Kevin chose to add the ice cream to his. We sat in America and enjoyed our yummy treat while listening to the Candlelight Processional. I have never seen the CP before and both Becca and I were blown away by it. Watching it on our video tape doesn’t do it justice and this trip report can’t even come close to describing how magnificent it was but I will say there was one song that was so powerful it almost took my breathe away. After watching a few minutes I joined the rest of the family at a table outside the American Adventure and we all enjoyed our funnel cakes. Our little break here was great, the weather was perfect, the snacks were delicious, we had CP as a backdrop and of course the kids were sleeping.

Once we finished our funnel cakes we walked to Italy where we claimed a spot for Illuminations. We had about 30 minutes before Illuminations so we all went our separate ways. Of course as soon as everyone was out of sight Becca and I found a better spot about 150 feet further down with no trees to block our view. As Becca and I were relocating, Mason woke up so I picked him up and looked for everyone to let them know we had moved. As Mason and I were walking we were stopped twice, once by a CM and once by a girl in her early 20’s who couldn’t get enough of my cute son. As I was walking away I thought to myself that I need to bring this kid with me to the Norway pavilion.

I managed to find everyone right before the show was about to start and joined back up with Becca. The show was very good and had a special holiday ending that consisted of red and green fireworks and a bunch of very loud explosions. Mason stayed awake through the show and Cole, who had been sleeping before the show, woke up a couple of times during the fireworks and he wasn’t happy about it. As much as Becca and I loved the show I don’t think the rest of the family appreciated it as much. Kevin asked me a couple of times during the fireworks if it was almost over and they ended up leaving right before the holiday ending, oh well.

When Illuminations ended we began the long walk back to the monorail (we were in Germany) along with everyone else. We stopped at the World Showcase gateway to take a few pictures of the Christmas Tree and give Becca a little bit of a rest. She was sore from having to hold Mason through the whole Illuminations show. When we finally got to the monorail both kids were sleeping. They must have been exhausted because they stayed asleep through the whole ride. So as not to disturb the kids I told Becca to take the bus back to SOG and I would walk back with them. I love the walk to SOG from the TTC so this wasn’t really a big sacrifice for me. Since I had time and the kids were sleeping I took my time poking around the TTC enjoying the sights and sounds, I love the TTC at night, there is very few people around and the music they play is always so good and you also get the occasional monorail passing overhead. Before I left the TTC I found our brick on the walkway to the Polynesian so we wouldn’t have to search for it tomorrow. It took me a while to find it mostly because I was looking in the wrong area for 15 minutes. When I finally got back to the room we put Cole right to bed and after a quick feeding Mason was off to sleep too.

Wednesday, December 8th

Today was a day off from the parks so Becca and I were looking forward to catching up on some sleep. Unfortunately we forgot to tell Cole to sleep in and he was up waaay to early. Before he had a chance to wake up Mason I put on some shoes and Cole and I went for our morning walk. We played Buzz Lightyear, where Cole was Buzz and he was trying to shoot Zurg (me) with his forearm laser beam, for about the next 45 minutes. Cole was having a great time but I already needed a rest so I convinced him to go back up to the room. By the time we got back up to the room everyone was awake.

Mason was practicing his rolling when we walked in. We put the TV on for Cole to give him some down time and Becca and I enjoyed our balcony and had some morning snacks to hold us of before our big breakfast. Our quiet time lasted about 15 minutes before Cole realized where we were and joined us. Since Cole pried himself away from the TV we took this time to get him and the rest of us ready for our morning. Once we were dressed and ready to go we grabbed Emily and Bill and started the long trek to the bus stop. We took the bus to the TTC and then took the Fort Wilderness bus to Pioneer Hall for our breakfast at Trails End Buffeteria. Becca and I ate here a few years ago and loved it; the food was delicious and very reasonably priced.

Fort Wilderness was wonderful from the moment we walked off the bus. Wonderful for us at least, as we were walking up to Pioneer Hall we past a bunch of kids who were hanging out along the fences. Moments later we heard screaming coming from the group. It turns out the one of the kids who was sitting on the fence fell off and broke his arm. Becca was behind me quite a bit and said she heard the break. One of the women in the group who we’re assuming is a chaperone kept screaming. We felt sorry for the women who had to call the parents and break the bad news.

We were seated right away and once again the meal did not disappoint. Becca and Bill especially loved the grits. Midway through the meal Cole had to go to the bathroom so I volunteered to take him. As we were coming out of the restroom we encountered a bunch of pirates. They were a surly bunch that swept down on us to take our riches. Actually they were a bunch of 6 year olds from the pirate cruise taking a potty break. I talked to one of the CM’s that was with the group who was very nice. She told me that they cruise with children ages 4 – 10 and the best part was as we were walking away she told me to have a grand day (the pirate cruise is based out of the Grand Floridian). When we got back to the table everyone was just about done so we loaded up and walked over to the petting zoo.

The petting zoo was a fun time, for a while we were the only ones there. Cole enjoyed looking at all the animals and he even took a ride on one of the horses. After picking his horse (Blueberry) I led the two of them around a the little route they have for them, all for the bargain basement price of $3.00, pretty reasonable. Cole loved the ride and wanted to go again when we made it back to the corral but we thought once was enough. We walked around the petting zoo a little more before we stopped to watch a horse get shoed. Becca and I had both never seen this and thought it was really interesting. There were two guys working on the horse. The younger guy was kinda watching while the older guy was adjusting the shoes. All the while peacocks and various other animals are freely walking by. When we went into the stables next door we saw a few of the horses and an area with a bunch of old WDW pictures showing how the horses are used. We noticed the older guy in one of the pictures. This picture must have been pretty old because the CM looked quit a bit younger.

It was just about time for Mason to eat so we grabbed a few rocking chairs on the porch at pioneer hall while Cole played on the playground. This was another perfect moment (there were a lot of them this trip). The weather was perfect, we had great chairs in the shade and there was wonderful background music being played, not too mention there wasn’t anyone around. Fort Wilderness is a great place to get away from things and relax. When mason was done eating we took a boat to Wilderness Lodge and walked around a little. We always try to visit WL once a trip. After our little walk through we grabbed the bus back to the TTC where we said goodbye to Bill and Emily who went right back to SOG while we decided to walk back.

Our first stop on our way back to SOG was to visit our brick. We always take a picture of Cole next to our brick every trip, and this time we had another kid to add to the mix. The bad part is that we always seem to visit our brick in the morning, which means that Cole has to look into the sun while we try and take his picture. Even though we took about 10 pictures none of them turned out so we’ll try and come back later in the trip and hopefully it won’t be as sunny. After visiting our brick we took a nice walk through the Polynesian grounds, we didn’t stop but still enjoyed the walk. It brought back some nice memories of our trip here 20 months ago.

When we got back to the room I took Cole down to the pool for a little. Since we weren’t in the parks today we wanted to get the kids down for a nap we didn’t stay too long before heading back up to the room. We got the kids down and I went next door into B&E room while Becca went down to the pool. Naptime didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. Mason screamed his little lungs out. After hanging out in B&E room for about 15 minutes I had all I could handle so I took B&E up on there offer to look after the boys so I could join Becca down at the pool.

I finally found Becca hanging out in the hot tub. I joined her in the tub for a few minutes before we walked over to the Mill Pond pool so we could get some sun (the shadows we too long at the Magnolia pool). I grabbed us a couple of drinks and we took about a half hour break before heading back up to the room at around 5:00. When we got up to the room we got a bad report on Mason. He pretty much screamed for about a half hour until Emily came into the room and rocked the crib until he calmed down and fell asleep. Oddly enough Cole slept the whole time, shows how totally exhausted he was. We were back in the room about 5 minutes before Cole woke up and his brother woke up soon after that.

We were debating on where to go to dinner tonight but ended up just going down to the Garden Grill again. We were thinking about going out for dinner to the Polynesian or DTD but decided to take it easy. I didn’t want the buffet again so I opted for the ribs, big mistake. They were pretty bad and they shorted me a few ribs. We mentioned it to the waitress who apologized, ordered me more ribs and took it off the bill. On top of the meal being awful it was excruciatingly long. We were hoping to walk down to the Polynesian after dinner and watch Wishes. As we were waiting to flag down a waitress to get our bill we heard the fireworks going off, so much for that.

As we left the restaurant we still kind of wanted to walk around the Polynesian and GF but a couple of minutes into our walk we decided to give ourselves a break and just relax in the room for the rest of the night. When we got up to the room we had a surprise waiting for us, a bunch of surprises actually. I had left the sliding glass door open when we went to dinner and now our room was filled with flies and moths. Cole was freaked out. Becca did her best to comfort Cole while I killed all the bugs. I managed to get them all except 1 moth who hid somewhere after a failed hit attempt. After getting almost all the bugs it was time for the kids to go to sleep but Cole wouldn’t leave my side. Since it was my fault I left the door open I offered to sleep with Cole. When we crawled into bed Cole literally slept right on top of me with the covers pulled up over his head.

Thursday, December 9th

I was up bright and early today. I had reservations for the Behind the Steam Engine Tour that was starting at the MK at 7:30 this morning. I had found out that the resort monorail started running at 7:00 so I panned on being there for the first monorail of the day. I set up a wake up call for 6:15 this morning but I was up a few minutes before the call. I had set my clothes out last night (after killing all the bugs) so I quickly got dressed, grabbed some breakfast snacks and started my walk to the Polynesian. I arrived at around 6:50 but the door to the monorail station was locked so I waited patiently.

At 7:00 on the nose the doors were unlocked and I boarded the pink monorail. When we pulled up to the MK I was surprised how many people were already at the MK gates for early entry. I was allowed to pass through the security checkpoint and join the group of fellow train tour people waiting for our guide. At 7:30 we were joined by the tour guide (whose name I can’t remember) and we boarded the Roy O. Disney and took it to Toontown. Along the way we heard stories of the Walt’s youth and his love for trains. Once we were at the Toontown station the track was switched and we went back to the roundhouse. Contrary to popular belief the roundhouse is not actually round but the monorail are stored above them. After leaving the roundhouse we made our way back to the Main St station where the tour ended with a few more stories about the trains themselves and various other topics. Overall I enjoyed the tour but probably wouldn’t take it again until I’ve done a few other tours I’m interested in.

After the tour I met Becca in the castle at 10:30. As I was walking up Cole was getting reprimanded and I felt really guilty about making Becca deal with the kids on her own this morning. I told Becca I felt bad for making her go it alone but she assured me the morning wasn’t as bad as the last 5 minutes have been. Mason was in need of a change so Becca took him while I tried in vain to find Woody and Jesse. Although I didn’t find W&J Cole did have a great time at the Tiki statues in Adventureland. After asking him to leave for about 5 minutes I finally dragged him away and we met up with Becca at the baby center. Once we were back together again we started the monorail journey to Epcot to meet up with Bill and Emily. From the highway in the sky I saw B&E waiting for us in front of Spaceship Earth.

Inside Epcot we joined B&E and started into the park. Since we didn’t get to do TT the other day that was first on our list and wouldn’t you know Bill was ready with a couple of FP that were valid now so that’s right where we headed. As we were on the ride Becca took off Cole’s sneakers and shirt and let him play in the fountain area between Mousegear and TT. Bill and I enjoyed TT and were thankful it didn’t break down while we were on it. After TT we met up with Becca and Emily who were watching Cole play in the water, boy was he soaked. It was such a warm day and he was having a blast so we thought nothing of letting him blow off a little steam, especially at Epcot which doesn’t have as much for him to do as the other parks.

It was time to eat so we decided to hit one of our favorite lunch spots, Mexico. Along the way Mason was kind enough to fall asleep in the stroller, thanks buddy. I ordered the usual, the combination platter and loved it. I picked up a churro on the way out and ate it on a bench with a sleeping Mason while the rest of the family went into the pavilion. I enjoyed taking a break with Mason and people watching. Soon enough the group came out and we continued onto Norway where I stopped in to see the newest Norwegian recruits. I was not disappointed, well done Disney, well done. We skipped China, but did stop at the train display in Germany. Becca wanted to eat at Morocco so she walked ahead. Cole really enjoyed the trains and Mason was still sleeping so it was a good experience all around.

On our way to meet up with Becca in Morocco we bypassed all the pavilions along the way with plans to double back and visit them then. Becca was just ordering her food when we caught up to her at Tangierine Café so Cole and I walked around the pavilion. Cole ended up finding some assorted musical instruments and played with them for quite a while. I had to make him stop because I was afraid he was going to end up breaking one of them, he never did. Becca had finished her lunch when we joined up with her and we continued back to all the pavilions we had walked through. Our first stop was Japan where I finally saw the candy lady. She had a huge crowd around her but from what I did see was amazing, she is incredibly talented. Becca walked through the store while I took Mason, who was still asleep, for a walk through the Japanese garden. As we were walking I saw them starting to bring out the drums so I decided to get away from there so Mason doesn’t wake up.

While walking up to the American pavilion we decided to get a funnel cake since it was so good last time. We upgraded to the ice cream funnel cake and were very happy with our decision, delicious. After enjoying some downtime eating our treat we made a quick bathroom break where we saw them shooting a DVC infomercial. Mason finally woke up as we were leaving America. When we got to Italy we decided to split up, although I’m not exactly sure why, Bill and I took Cole to China and made plans to meet up at the living seas pavilion, yes the complete opposite corner of the park. On the way to China I bought Cole a strawberry bar and by the time we were in China it was finished.

After another bathroom break for Cole we were on our way to the Living Seas, by Norway Cole was asleep in the stroller. The kids didn’t sleep well at night but they were napping champs during the day. On our way to meet up with Becca I bought an Incredibles mug for Cole from the mini McDonalds stand next to Canada. Becca was waiting for us when we walked up to the Living Seas. She was disappointed to see Cole sleeping because she wanted to give him some playtime in the pavilion. At least Mason was awake for us. We took him to the Nemo display and took a few pictures in front of it. Robotic Nemo was also out so Mason was able to have his picture taken next to him (with his parents of course). After our little photo shoot we left the park to grab the monorail back to MK for the Flag Retreat Ceremony.

We arrived back to the MK a little early and checked in at City Hall. The time spent waiting was very nerve racking for Becca and myself. We’ve planned this event for almost as long as we planned the whole trip and it was finally upon us. This is probably the most anticipated part of our trip. We were so nervous that something would go wrong, whether it’s cancelled or double booked. I stationed myself right at the flagpole as if I was claiming my territory. All our worrying was for naught. A couple minutes before 5:00 a CM came up to us and Bill was given a practice run. At 5:00 exactly the band appeared from back stage. Bill walked up to the flagpole with 3 color guard CM’s and watched while the flag was lowered. Once the flag was all the way down it was folded and presented to Bill. They then turned around and walked towards the Main Street train station where Bill was announced as the Magic Kingdom veteran of the day and given a certificate. After the band finished playing thier song they marched toward the fire house and continued backstage. Bill and the color guards marched to just outside Tony’s Town Square Restaurant where a few pictures where taken before we had to return the flag. The ceremony was very emotional, both Becca and I had tears in our eyes through just about the whole thing. A few other guests even came up to Bill after and thanked him for his service. We were told that the pictures would be available in about 20 minutes so we stayed around to see them. After 20 minutes we went up to the counter at the Main St Expo hall and we were told that it would probably be another 30 minutes. We decided to leave it for tomorrow night when we come back for MVMCP. At this point we split up. Bill and Emily went back to SoG wile Becca and I dragged the kids over to MGM to see Fantasmic!

We were held up at the TTC for about 15 minutes waiting for a bus. We later found out that there was an accident in front of the Wilderness Lodge entrance. A few busses finally arrived and we squeezed into the second bus. Once at MGM our Fantasmic! plans were smashed by a CM at the base of Sunset Blvd informing guests that the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre was full. We were hoping that Cole would be able to see it again since he loved it so much the first time. Before deciding to head over to Epcot for a late dinner we walked through the villains store and bought a few treats for later. As we said goodbye to MGM for the last time this trip we saw a long line waiting for the Friendship to Epcot. To make matters worse we were teased by the Fantasmic! fireworks while we waited, cruel.

When we finally arrived at Epcot we walked over to UK to get some fish and chips, I had them last trip and loved them. They were once again very good; I was even able to grab a table outside of the Rose and Crown. After our dinner Becca called her sister while I took Cole to the bathroom. The bathroom had the most disgusting smell; on our way out I saw what the problem was. Apparently sushi didn’t agree with someone.

It was around 8:00 while we were debating on whether to see Illuminations tonight so we took the long walk around the World Showcase Lagoon. Somewhere around Morocco both kids fell asleep. This let us stop at America and catch some more of the Candlelight Processional, hosted by Marlee Matlin this time. Once again it was breath taking. Since the kids were sleeping and we had seen Illuminations several times we decided to call it a night and walk back to the Monorail. Since it was just before the official park closing the monorail wasn’t packed and we were both able to sit down. Once back at the TTC Becca took Mason on the bus back to the hotel while I offered to walk Cole back to the room. Even though I was exhausted and my feet were aching I still took an indirect route back to the hotel so I could take a look at the castle one more time. I have to say, I enjoyed walking to SoG every time no matter how tired I was, this time was no exception. When I got back to the room Mason was already asleep and Cole was soon to join him.

Friday, December 10th

Mason once again had a horrible night of sleep last night so when 8:00 rolled around and he woke up once again I strapped Mason into the baby carrier and took him for a walk around the property. After checking in with Kevin and Ellen, who were getting ready to head out to AK, next door I walked down to the Garden Grill to give Bill and Emily their MVMCP tickets for later tonight. While I was down there Ellen joined us and we talked about what attractions to see at AK.

I had given Becca enough wake up time so Mason and I went back up to the room. On the way I picked up a muffin and bagel from the express café. When I got back up to the room Becca and I had our breakfast on the balcony while Cole watched TV and Mason layed on his back. We had originally planned on going to MGM and AK today but decided to take the day off since we’ve been going so hard all week. As we sat on the balcony eating our treats we talked about what a good idea it was to take the day off from the parks, and then it started to rain, we looked at each other and smiled. The rain was on and off for most of the morning. During one of the longer breaks in the rain I managed to pull Cole away from the TV and take him down to the pool. Because of the rain the temperatures were quite a bit colder than it had been all week. The pool was still pretty warm but not warm enough to make up for the cold air. I begged Cole to go into the hot tub, which he agreed to but after about 2 minutes he wanted to go to the Mill Pond pool. We only lasted about two minutes at the other pool before Cole had his fill of swimming.

After changing out of our wet clothes we had some fun around the hotel. We picked up an army pressed penny and played Buzz Lightyear throughout the hotel. Our Buzz adventures led us to the video arcade where Cole had a blast, all without putting a single quarter into a machine. Once again it’s nice that he’s too young to know the difference between the real game and the demo they show. After playing around for about 30 minutes I pulled Cole away from the games and we went back up to the room. Becca was out looking for us and showed up after a few minutes. Since we were going to be having such a long night at the Christmas party we put Cole down for a nap. Bill and Emily were still out so we rested in their room and ordered lunch that Mason and I went to pick up. While we were eating our lunch Bill and Emily came back. They told us they had a good time at AK and managed to stay pretty dry the whole day. By the time I finished my lunch the rain had stopped so I put mason in his stroller and we went for a little walk.

When I got back to the room it was around 3:00 so we got ourselves ready for our night at MK. We ended up walking out of SOG around 4:00 and were at MK shortly thereafter. We were allowed into the parks with our MVMCP tickets 2 ½ hours early and made plans to go to Toontown first since we missed it our other times here. Along the way we stopped at the exposition hall and picked up the flag retreat photos and Bill and Emily got some ice cream at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. In Toontown I took Cole into Minnie’s house and then into Mickey’s. As we were leaving Cole wanted to keep visiting characters houses, he asked me where Pluto and Capt. Pete’s houses were. By now everyone was back together again, Becca had finished feeding Mason and B&E arrived with their ice creams. Across the street was Goofy Barnstormer, it took a lot of persuading and a little bribing but I managed to get Cole on, after the whole Kali River Rapids fiasco I’m amazed he came to trust us on this trip again. Even though he liked it he said he didn’t want to go on it again. I made good on my Barnstormer promise and let him play on the playground next to Mickey’s house.

Since the park was closing soon to get ready for the Christmas party we thought it would be a good time to eat our dinner so we made our way to Pecos Bill through Fantasyland. Along we were walking we saw that Pooh had no line so we decided to ride that first. As we walked in they closed the attraction entrance right after us. The ride was good, although Cole wouldn’t know; he spent most of the ride trying to hide. After the ride we were going to make our way to Pecos Bill but were told by a CM that they were trying to get everyone to Tomorrowland so they could clear the park for the party. We switched our plans and decided to eat at Cosmic Ray’s and catch the Sunny Eclipse performance. Cole even danced a little with some other kids.

After dinner Cole saw the tea cups outside and luckily we had someone else in the group who would take him on it so my stomach could be spared. Cole liked it so much they went on a second time, this time he decided to lay down. Thanks again gramma. While Cole was on the ride Becca took Mason over to the baby care center so after Cole’s second ride I grabbed him before he had a chance to go on it a third time and we went over to meet her. Along the way we crossed over Main St., which was already packed for the 6:45 parade, it was about 5:45. When we arrived at the baby care center Becca was just finishing up so we packed up and walked back over to Tomorrowland. On the way we stopped at the Plaza Pavilion where we picked up our complimentary cookies and hot chocolate (they were both super good). While we were eating I noticed that a person at the table next to us had on all the buttons from previous Christmas parties. Bill and Emily finished their snacks and went to see the Night Before Christmas. We made plans to meet up at 7:45 at Buzz.

Once we finished we also went to Tomorrowland. As soon as we entered Tomorrowland we saw Buzz next to Timekeeper (which wasn’t open) with no line. Cole loved seeing his buddy. After our visit with Buzz we tried to get our family photo taken but the line was super long so we passed. The photo area wasn’t the only crowded place, all and I mean all of Tomorrowland was packed. It was just about time to meet up with B&E but they were nowhere to be found. Cole was a little restless so I took him onto the TTA. He loved this ride and wanted to go on again but I told him we had to meet up with gramma and grampa, he was bummed. When met back up with Becca her parents were also there. They told us that they got in line for the free photo.

We decided since Tomorrowland was so packed we’d try our luck somewhere else so we walked over to Fantasyland, which was less crowded. Dumbo had a surprisingly short line so we went there first. Wouldn’t you know we were just about to be let onto our elephant when Cole told us he had to go to the bathroom. The CM’s were nice enough to let me stay in line while Becca took Cole. When they got back it was just about our time to go on. After Dumbo we wanted to go onto Peter Pan but the line was super long so we passed and continued down to Liberty Square where we went onto Haunted Mansion, which had no line at all. The crowds at the Christmas party were very odd. It seems like there were pockets of huge crowds in some places and open spaces in others. HM was as good as usual. I was even able to reach into B&E’s doom buggie and grab Emily’s shoulder; it gave her a good scare, I love doing that.

We met Becca in front of HM after the ride and she told us how she watched some of the parade with the boys. Becca told us that during the parade she had Cole on her shoulder and tried to ask him a few questions during the parade and was scolded by the women next to her for yelling to loud. Becca nicely told the women what she thought of her and left to meet up with us. I was very amused by this story. It was now just about time for wishes so we found a spot on the Liberty Square bridge, which we found out as soon as the show started that it wasn’t the best viewing location, we had a few trees blocking our view. Half way through the show Mason finally woke up, he had been sleeping since our dinner at Cosmic Ray’s.

After the fireworks we walked over to Adventureland, where we tried once again to get our family photo. We stood still for about five minutes before we decided to skip it. B&E had been browsing the area so we grabbed them and went over to Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates had a huge crowd. So big that we had about a 20 minute wait with both the left and the right side loading stations open. I took the left side because it’s so rarely open. After the ride we stopped in the gift shop and bought a new plastic sword to replace the one we bought the other day (Cole broke that one). It was getting late so we decided to head back to Main St to do a little shopping and claim a spot for the second showing of the Christmas parade. When we got to the hub it was pretty crowded so we ducked into the shops to make our way down to the town square. Along the way Bill got himself a hot dog from Casey’s and we exchanged a shirt we bought for Cole the other day for a fleece jacket.

By the time we walked out of the Emporium I was surprised to see how empty it was. Like I said before odd crowd patterns. It was so empty we were able to get a rope spot 15 minutes before the parade was to start. As we were waiting we noticed that Santa was still seeing guest and there was almost no line so we took the kids over to see him. He was a really good Santa, what else would you expect from Disney. Shortly after we left Santa had to go and get ready for the parade. While we were waiting Cole tried to get us to buy him something from the merchandise cart nearby. When we said no we heard that famous line, “Gramma, come here…”. A few minutes later Cole was back with a Tinkerbell magic wand.

The parade route was still empty enough that I was able to cross the street right before it began so I claimed a spot where I could tape the family as they watched the parade. The parade was very fun. Cole was on the verge of falling asleep through just about the whole thing. The finishing touch to the day was when Santa came out at the end of the parade and looked right at Mason and said “Merry Christmas little baby”. Becca loved it. After the parade it was about 11:15 and Becca and the rest of the family went back to the hotel. She was kind enough to let me stay for the rest of the party, which I graciously accepted.

After seeing them off I made my way back to the hub following behind the end of the parade. When I got to the hub I was shocked to see that the crowds were 4-5 people deep for the parade. Another odd crowd pattern. The first thing I wanted to do was Space Mountain but it had a 20 minute wait so I decided to go see Mickey’s Philharmagic and then come back. When I got there I just missed a showing and had to wait for the next one. The show was very good and especially funny because a woman the row in front of me and a couple of seats over sat down with this crazy tall Christmas hat on. I heard a lot of people around me complaining that it was blocking their view. She never took it off. By the time the show ended it was just about midnight so I had to hustle over to SM. Unfortunately I arrived to late. As I was walking up I saw the CM’s chain the gate and walk down the queue. Looking back I probably should have tried to get their attention and plead my case about leaving tomorrow but I didn’t. Even though the party was officially over I went back to Main Street where I bought a cookie, milk and some chocolates and ate them on the train station platform. Trying to order them was no easy task, by now my voice was gone for some reason. I felt sorry for the girl behind the counter trying to make out was I was saying in a very noisy Confectionery.

I took my time eating my treats knowing this is my last time I’ll be in the parks for about 14 months. I finished most of my snacks, saving half of my cookie for tomorrow, but still didn’t want to leave so I took a stroll through the Expo Hall. I had no idea that anything was even back here. They had a Disney animation history; a small movie theatre and some cut outs that you can stick your head through a hole and be part of a cartoon scene. It was one of those things that’s perfect to do when you’re by yourself and doing anything you can to keep yourself in the park. Before coming into Expo Hall I walked through the Emporium but even 30 minutes after the party was over it was still packed. On the way out of Exposition Hall they had a bunch of great pictures from around the parks since the parks opening. All in all a perfect ending to a great, albeit busy, night at the Magic Kingdom. I took the monorail to the Polynesian and took one final nighttime walk through the grounds. I finally made it back to SoG and was in bed at 1:15.

Saturday, December 11th

Our last day at WDW, kinda sad. Last night wasn’t any different than the last few nights, Mason slept awful so when 8:00 rolled around and Mason woke up once again I put him in his stroller and took him for a walk around the grounds. After walking around for 30 minutes I went back up to the room but it was still dark so I kept on walking. This time on our walk Mason almost fell asleep, I’m surprised he didn’t, he had to be exhausted, I know I was. Our walk took us down to tee box #1 where I saw Cole open the curtains in our room so I made my way back up. When I got to the room the door was locked and Becca was in the shower so I went next door and Emily let us in. Cole tried to figure out how to let us in but after a few failed attempts I told him I would just wait until Becca came out of the shower.

Once we were finally let in Becca and I packed while the kids played in the room. We were doing pretty well with the packing so I took Mason with me down to check us out. At this point Mason was exhausted and really started screaming. I felt sorry for the other guests who were in the elevator with me. Mason kept screaming all the way to the check out desk and I was doing my best to ignore him. A couple of times I tried to explain to this 5 month old that if he had slept better the night before he wouldn’t be so upset now. I don’t think he completely understood what I was trying to tell him. With Mason screaming I began the check out procedure when a woman behind the counter came over and began to say “Ohh that poor kid…” I cut her off and told her that the boy is to receive no sympathy. Instead of going back up to the room I decided to keep walking with the beast in hopes that he would fall asleep. On our walk this time I took us by the original SoG wing and saw our balcony from our trip in 1999. Finally after walking for what seemed like forever Mason fell asleep, of course I had to push the stroller with one hand and hold the pacifier in his mouth with the other.

With Mason asleep it was now safe to go up to the room and check on Becca’s progress. I was happy to see that everyone was just about all packed so we called bell services and had them store our luggage. It was now about 10:20 and we began our walk to the Polynesian for our breakfast. We checked in a few minutes before our PS time and were seated soon after. I was hoping for a window seat, I probably should have requested it at the podium, but we were seated near the entrance, as far from the window as possible. We were probably put here because it was an out of the way place to put Mason who was still asleep in his stroller. The food was great, we especially liked the Hawaiian bread. The chef even came out to talk to Ellen about her food allergies and made her a meal that didn’t look too appetizing to me but she said it was delicious. The character interaction was wonderful, Cole loved them all. On our way out Mason woke up just in time to get his picture taken with Pluto.

Our plan was to do a resort monorail lap stopping off at the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary before heading back to SoG to catch the bus. We only spent about 20 minutes at the Grand Floridian; half of the time spent in the gift shop the other half spent sitting in the lobby. On our way back to the monorail everyone made plans to go their separate way, Ellen wanted to try and get into the MK to get some doggie souvenirs for her dog back home while B&E wanted to go back to SoG because Emily’s feet were bothering her. We also decided to skip the Contemporary and go to the TTC and try and get a few more pictures with the kids next to our brick.

We tried to get some decent pictures at our brick but Cole was complaining the sun was in his eyes, despite the fact that it was an overcast day. We put Becca’s sunglasses on him and finally got a decent picture. On our walk back to SoG we made a stop at a swing on the Polynesian beach and took a group shot with Hawaii building in the background, it turned out really nice. We made it back to SoG by 1:45; B&E were waiting in the lobby for us. 2:00 rolled around and Ellen arrived in style. She was met at the security gate by the Shady Shuttle golf cart and given a ride up to the hotel. She was able to get into the MK, she explained what she wanted to do to the CM at the turnstile and was let in. Ellen was very grateful and after her quick stop at the Emporium she once again thanked the CM on her way out.

FL Tours was suppose to pick us up at 2:00, so when it got to be 5 minutes after Becca and I became worried so I gave them a call. It seems there was a mix up of some sort, apparently FL Tours called the hotel yesterday and was told we were checking out on Friday instead of Saturday. Needless to say I was very upset. I was talking to the owner, Andy, who apologized profusely and sent a van right over all the while assuring us we would make the flight and if we didn’t he would take care of us. We arrived at MCO at 3:15 for our 4:10 flight and were met by Andy. He had arranged for a curbside check-in attendant to be waiting for us and sure enough we made our flight, thanks Andy. The flight was about 2/3 full which gave me and Becca a row to ourselves and one kid each. This was seriously the best flight ever, the flight attendant was super funny and both kids were asleep 30 minutes into the flight and slept the whole way. We landed back in Buffalo on time to very cold temperatures and snow… great.

Michael Banks

banks37@localnet.com


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