Lara Thompson -- October 2004 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite)
We have been to Disney World twice this year already, but not with Kaitlin. She was very jealous. Our first trip was part of a time-share sell that my parents had to sit through, but we got a good deal. The second trip was a quick weekend to the Braves Spring Training - a trip that I won, so we got to stay onsite at the Caribbean Beach Resort - loved it.
We found out in Kaitlin’s school schedule that she had a Friday and a Monday off in October, so we started planning. Me being the person who actually works in research, and is a Disney addict, I pretty much planned the whole trip.
We found a good rate on a hotel (was supposed to be brand new, we found out when we got there that their idea of brand new and mine were WAY DIFFERENT) through the AARP website - you only have to be 50 to join!
Our plans were set each day based on what I had learned about park crowdedness and the special events that would be going on at the time. I tried to schedule a break in each day without trying to plan out our entire days.
The trip was a surprise to the girls, we told them on Kaitlin’s b-day as I gave her a box with “Disney World for Kids by Kids” book, a book on Hidden Mickey’s and $20 in Disney Dollars. Man, I have never heard such squealing and yelling as that night. After saving her money, K ended up with $80 in Disney dollars to spend on her trip.
I prepared bags for each of them - Mom and I made autograph books with spiral-bound note cards of various colors (perforated, perfect!), they each had some big sharpies and a disposable camera. I also made a notebook for each of them with lots of pages to color, games to play, word searches, as well as a journal to fill out for each day of the trip!
A lot of reading and a lot of planning and a lot of dad rolling his eyes at me as I mentioned something else new I had read about in someone’s trip report. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was going to be happening the Friday we were there, so we bought tickets for that as well.
My co-workers were getting annoyed with my daily countdown and finally the day had arrived!
Thursday, October 7
The day: Well, we left the house about 10:30, not too bad…except…da da da, Atlanta traffic. Yup, stupid tractor-trailer, and we were stuck for nearly an hour. So we were an hour and a half behind schedule. The other group was planning to leave Atlanta around 1. By this time, they wouldn’t be too far behind us. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we checked into the hotel around 7:30pm. Not a great hotel, but it would do since we were only planning to sleep and shower there - this was Disney, COMMANDO style! We dropped our stuff and headed to City Walk, by the time we got there, the wait for Margaritaville was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Enough time for the other half of our group to catch up and have dinner with us. Good cheeseburger in paradise for dinner, the band was good, but man, they were LOUD for the dinner we were having - no talking amongst the table. Heading straight back to the hotel, we had to get some rest - Magic Kingdom tomorrow and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!!!
Friday, October 8
From there, we headed straight to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, got our FastPasses and the kids and grandfather’s and my aunt went onto Splash Mountain - now, I don’t do water rides, so this was a good time for me and mom to take a break in the shade. We pressed some pennies and watched the people exit the ride wringing out their shirts and shorts. Then it was BTMR!!! K was all for it, but Jamie was a little frightened - everyone rode this one! After which we headed to Tom Sawyers Island, we wanted the group to take a break and get a snack at Aunt Polly’s. Well, Aunt Polly was CLOSED! Total bummer as we were all hungry. Back to the mainland and into Pecos Bill Café - man it was crowded in here! Ended up with another cheeseburger, but my parents shared a chicken wrap, said it was very good.
After lunch, we headed to the Haunted Mansion - the ghost who hitch hiked with us sat on Jamie’s lap! While we tried to get through stroller territory to head to Tomorrowland, we were all getting hot and cranky. We went to see Mickey’s PhilharMagic - it was awesome. The girls were reaching out to touch everything, it was cute. The girls and I then rode the teacups. They spun as fast as they could and I got in my own cup and attempted to take pictures of them. Yup, it was now time for Buzz Lightyear!!! I rode by myself as we had an odd number of people in our group. My suggestion to you, don’t try to use both guns if you ride alone - my score was HORRIBLE! Everyone loved the ride. Time for one quick ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) and we head to the front of the park. The line to get our pictures was way long; we decide to do that when we got back.
We drove to the Animal Kingdom (man that place empties out fast) and had a wonderful dinner. Uncle Mike picked up the tab - I have no idea how much it was. We wanted to get the VOLCANO to hear the waiters yell, but we didn’t have time and we were all full. We all changed into our costumes - I was Smee, K was Wendy and my dad was a pirate. Mom changed into a Tinkerbell shirt and stated that was as close as she would get to a costume. Danna, Mike and Jamie were 3 Blind Mice.
We got back to the Magic Kingdom and the Monorail was PACKED - this was a sign of the night to come. The signs out front state that the night was SOLD OUT. The lines just to get in were OUTRAGEOUS. We went straight to pick up our pictures. Why did I have people asking me if I was an elf? - know your Disney characters people!!!
Then, we were off to Tomorrowland, unfortunately, we had to make it down Main Street while the parade was going on, we did see the Headless Horseman ride by. Space Mountain had a 20 minute wait - well, that 20 minutes was really just the time it took you to walk up to the top - what a GREAT ride that was!! Next we watched some party thing that had Chip & Dale, Buzz and Stitch. Kinda cute, but in my opinion a waste of time. During that time, Buzz Lightyear shut down with problems. We “trick or treated” some (wow, 1 piece of hard candy, gee thanks!) and then we were off to Fantasyland. I still couldn’t find the places where you could have your family pictures taken. The map was not labeled well and I was having a hard time figuring out where things were.
We rode Dumbo with about a 20 minute wait and watched the fireworks from there. What a view, it seemed we were surrounded by fireworks! Once again, I rode by myself and attempted to take pictures of the girls. They had Cinderella’s carriage out and princesses were out to have your picture with - that line was SO LONG!!! I bet people were standing there until midnight - we moved on. Tried to get a good view for the later parade, after hearing that people would leave after the first one - boy were they ever WRONG! That is about all we got done that night. We were all tired, cranky and disappointed that the park was more crowded during this special even than it was all day long! We got to bed about 1am.
Saturday, October 9
After our great adventure in Africa, most of the group decided to walk the Pangani Trail - Mom, K and I headed to Camp Minnie Mickey to save us a place for the Festival of the Lion King. Stopped on the way to get some water and ice cream - man I love those premium Mickey bars, but they can be messy and rich. The group finally caught up with us inside the Lion King show - we were in the Wart Hog section, snort snort! Next we met the man himself, Mickey Mouse in all his safari gear (yes, I had to get my picture with him too). The line was too long to see my favorite - Goofy - but the line for Koda (say it with me, Ko….Da) and Kenai was not bad, we stood in line to meet them too - they are SO CUTE!!
We then headed to the Tree of Life to see It’s Tough to be a Bug! I love this show, but didn’t tell the girls anything about it. After standing in the queue for awhile, I started to think about Jamie and bugs - SHE HATED THEM! I decided to ask Aunt Danna if I should warn her about the big bug interaction during this - she said no, she would be ok - and she was.
Danna and Mike then headed to see the Tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The rest of us headed to DinoLand USA!!! We first stopped for more water (did I mention how warm it was today?) then on to Dinosaur. Man, this ride is pretty cool. Not long of a wait, and we were heading ‘back in time’. Dad and I were in the front of the car and Mom, K and J were in the 2nd seat. The picture was so darn funny, I almost bought it. You couldn’t tell K was in the seat between mom and Jamie at all; she was entirely bent over to get away from the dinosaurs! Next, that whirl roller coaster, I always get the name wrong. Wow! K and J on one side and me on the other, I was whipped around so much on this thing, I don’t need to see the chiropractor for awhile - the girls LOVED it. Then on our way to the front of the park to meet Mike and Danna, my Dad and I argued about the cut through out of DinoLand - I give up, you are always right. We met up with the relatives, headed out the park and made it to MGM just in time for our PS at Prime Time. Uncle Mike got in trouble right away, as he didn’t ask for permission to get up from the table. The girls got quite a laugh at his expense during the whole meal. Our waiter, Cousin Mickey (no relation to the mouse) was funny, but didn’t make anyone stand with their noses on the wall like the girl we saw on our way in. The girls both ordered a drink with the glowing ice cubes - Dad got one too - lots of banging them on the table to turn off and on. I got in trouble for not eating all my vegetables, Mom and K helped me with the green beans and Dad ate a piece of my chicken - I can’t eat 3 pieces of chicken, are you kidding me!? He still let me order desert, I got the s’mores! Oh my, were they good. Mom picked up the check on this one, I never saw the bill, but it couldn’t have been cheap!
We waddled our way out of Prime Time and headed towards Star Tours where we picked up a FastPass and headed to Muppet Vision 3-D; we were hoping to catch the parade, but we ended up missing it all together. We did, however, meet Kermit and Miss Piggy!!!! I love the Muppets! Took the time to show that yes, there is a key under the mat; my family thinks I am crazy now. Enjoyed the show, avoided the exploding building, and then headed to Star Tours. We had FastPasses, but you couldn’t tell - the line was long! We finally boarded our ship and helped the other Jedi in a fight against the dark forces.
So now we crossed the park to go to…. TOWER OF TERROR! Mike ended up making a stop and since the wait was posted at 15 minutes, K, J and I went on into the hotel, thinking he could catch up - he never did. It was practically a walk on. J started to chicken out and K wouldn’t let her. Once we were up and then dropping, K grabbed my arm and started yelling that she didn’t want to be on this ride anymore. She totally freaked! I felt so bad - will never ride ToT with her again. I took a break with the folks while Mike rode by himself. Danna, Mom and the girls headed into the Beauty and the Beast show while Dad went to the line for Fantasmic! I met Mike at the exit of the hotel and we headed to the Rock’n’ Roller Coaster where the wait time was listed at 45 minutes (there were no more FastPasses available when we checked earlier). They weren’t kidding, at 45 minutes later Mike and I were in the front seat of the stretch limo heading through LA to the concert. What a great ride that is!
We then met the rest of the family at Fantasmic. I just love this show, and the girls loved it too - with the princesses and Mickey on the mountain, fireworks, fire on the water….oh, I don’t want to give too much away, but you know who our hero is!!!! We left and were back at the hotel around 10ish - iced the feet, some took showers and we were all in bed before midnight.
Sunday, October 10
Then the argument came, where would we be going next? My Dad loves The Living Seas, I wanted to hit The Land - mainly because they have counter food there and we had not had any breakfast. The guys went to The Living Seas; the girls went to The Land. The guys ended up meeting up with us at The Land since The Living Seas was so packed, you couldn’t move. Do rice krispie treats count as a breakfast item? - it is made out of a breakfast cereal! Afterwards we rode Living with the Land, K got to sit up front with our guide and point out all the things he was talking about. He asked how old her Mom was (he meant me, we get that all the time, I need a button that says “No, I am her Aunt”) and she said 23, got the whole boat laughing. Remember to point with 2 or 4 fingers, Kaitlin. We had a great trip and saw the pumpkins growing like Mickey heads. Next up, that environment movie with characters from the Lion King - this always makes my Mom cry.
It was now time to head back over for our FastPasses to Test Track. Jamie chickened out about ½ way through the line and Mike had to take her out to the Grandmothers. He ran back in and caught up with us. Man, K loved this ride; she was giggling and laughing all the way through, jumping up and down when we got off yelling “again, let’s go on it again”. We checked the FastPass return time and it was for 6:30pm ALREADY! No way, we would be way into the World Showcase by that time.
Mike and Danna headed into Mexico, I went to the store in the middle to pick up the Kid’s Passports for them. They had a GREAT time with these and really made them willing to travel from country to country. That, along with the Kidcots really filled their day with stuff to do. Met everyone in Mexico where the girls did their first passport stamp and Kidcot project. The guy there was so nice, I wish I had gotten his name (ed: Mom thinks it was Gilberto, we have cousins named Gilbert) Mike and Danna went off to find some food and wine to taste and Mom, K, J and I went on El Rio de Tiempo, so cute! I think D & M got a wet burrito, I wanted something, but being a picky eater, they couldn’t find anything I would eat.
Then to Norway! The girls had to have their picture in front of the large Troll, very difficult to do in a busy shop. We then split up so that they could ride Maelstrom or whatever it is called. Remember, I don’t do water rides. Mom, Dad and I headed to the UK for some fish and chips. Stopped at the tasting for Greece for some spinnakopita and baklava (we had missed the Greek Festival at home this weekend, my cousin got a Greek Pastry sampler for us when she went - yeah!), can you believe it, the tasting was SOLD OUT of baklava...
Had the fish and chips - so yummy! I heard a rumor that Mary Poppins was to show up in the toy store soon. I adore this movie, and LOVE the penguins; they are not with her very often. We did get to see them on our trip to Disney last year - I got my picture with just them, and they were so happy about that! Met up with the group in Canada, could barely drag my Uncle away from the band performing, why can’t I ever remember their name? (ed: Off Kilter) They ended up having fish and chips in the UK as well. While standing in line, a woman ahead of us was drinking one of those large multi-pint things of beer and letting her daughter - who couldn’t have been 2 yet - run all over the place, crossing the street in front of people and playing in the trash can. The mother would just turn around and look at her and laugh and wave her back to her. Good grief, that girl could have been grabbed or caused an old person to fall or been run over by the electric wheelchairs. It continued for a long time, as it was a long line. My Aunt and I just couldn’t believe our eyes. I know you have this feeling of being safe at the World, but this was beyond that.
Headed into the toy store where the girls did their Kidcots and we turned around - there was Mary Poppins herself! I had each girl armed with a question to ask her. K had to ask where the penguins and Bert were, J had to ask her to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (sp?) backwards. Boy, were they impressed when she could. Next up was Pooh and friends. Mom was so excited, Eeyore was there! He even came up and kissed my hand and hugged me. Mom got jealous so he got on one knee and kissed her hand too - should my Dad be worried? We all had to get our pictures taken and then it was off to France.
We passed the International Gateway and saw Aurora down the hill; the girls and I ran to meet her. This is where we ran into the rudest CM I have ever met! She didn’t nicely explain to these 2 panting (I did say we ran) girls that she had to go in and would be back. She put up her hand and said, “This is the last family she will see”. And that was it; we left and went to France, hoping that some pastries would make us feel better. You know what did make Kaitlin better? We saw Belle and the Beast in France!!!! Mike had come running into where we were eating pastries to yell “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST!” He had K with him when he left, he left her there, I panicked, but a nice CM was keeping an eye on here while he ran to get us, unfortunately, he didn’t tell me to go into the perfumery and I ended up walking around France wondering where my niece was. Mike had to get his picture with them as well as Jamie. Awesome, we at least got to see one princess!!
Somehow in the crowd, we all were separated. K and I ended up heading into Morocco as I told her that this was the location of the story of Aladdin and Jasmine. We head into the building to find the Kidcot station and who do we run into with NO LINE? The Genie!!! He kidded with K about her not having her book out yet. I said to K, I told you this was the place; wish we could have met Aladdin and Jasmine. To which this kind lady turned around and whispered “If you go around to the back, they are there now”. We TOOK OFF running. Saw my Dad and Aunt - told them we had a princess to see!!!
Jamie caught up with us in time to meet the royal couple. She had this issue with allowing other kids to cut in front of her at Kidcots and meeting the characters - it was driving me crazy. But cute picture, quick camera battery change and we were off to Japan. I just love this stop in Epcot, the stores, the buildings….LOVE IT! Kaitlin and I both got a fan with our names written on them in Japanese - my name is too short. We toured the toy museum as that was where the Kidcot was located, such interesting things they have there, don’t miss it! Oh, we also got to see the candy lady, the one who makes the animal figures out of candy. She is fascinating to watch, but get there early if you would like one of her creations. A lady had obviously camped out in front of the booth with 6 of her kids and they all had to have one!!! Moving on.
Well, I went on to find the restrooms, the next ones were listed as being in Italy - yeah, they were really in Germany. The park was getting crowded and I told the group I would meet them in America. What was I thinking; the stop at the USofA is HUGE! Well, I did find them, they had decided to take in the show - Mickey Thomas from Starship was performing for the Food and Wine Festival. I grabbed some lobster corn chowder, a cheddar crab cake, some waters and honey lemonade for my Dad. Take note, when you get something from the F&W booths, they are just samples, very small servings. Of course, none of this is stuff I would eat and that fish and chips seemed like a long time ago.
Moving on, now K had to visit the restrooms - we will meet y’all in Germany. That done, K and I backtracked to Italy to finish her Kidcot and then went to the Germany Kidcot. At this time, K stated she was hungry, I got her a pretzel, but she couldn’t stand in line with me as the smell from the sauerkraut was making her sick. The family all caught up, Mike, Danna and Jamie taking in some more F&W samples from Italy; we were all enjoying the music and ambience of the Germany pavilion. I love the Christmas store here; wish I could afford some of those Disney figurines.
And we were off. The girls were determined to finish their Kidcot projects as they saw some kids finish in USA and got some prizes. The small African stop was not a Kidcot stop, and we passed by heading to China - their last stop. It was kind of a let down. They finished to no flare - like the kids in USA received - got their picture of Goofy and that was it. They both asked me about some book, but because I had not seen the kids finishing in the USA pavilion, I had no idea what they were talking about.
We took our time exiting, as there were TONS of people. By this time, my feet hurt; my Mom’s hip hurt and K had pulled some muscle in her leg. We all limped to the front of the park. Took some pictures of K in front of the globe, enjoyed the illuminated sidewalks and headed to the car. One CM saw all of us moving slow and stopped to ask if we were all right - we are fine, but thank you for asking. We headed back to the hotel and I think we were in bed by midnight. Tomorrow we leave for the real world, but we have a surprise for the girls before we do!
Monday, October 11
Well, some shopping done, the gang catches up with us and we check in at the podium. We are pushed along to the picture taking - where did Mike go? He had to run back for the camera - why didn’t he bring it, who knows. We postpone the picture taking and head to the waiting area - man it was PACKED! Mike finally arrived and we had our picture (Mike bought the set since I was picking up the tab for breakfast). Hanging out in the lobby, we ended up with seats right next to where Goofy was holding court. It was so cute to see some of the kids interact with him! I got to where I was telling people not to walk through as other kids were having their picture taken. Goofy turned to me and “said” thank you. I said I got your back Goof, as I did the head up nod and pounded my fist to my chest - y’all know what I mean, right? After that, we were best pals. He asked if the girls were mine - kind of difficult to explain, but we got through. K and J would tug on his chef’s jacket and he would turn around playing who did that? It was cute! FINALLY someone walked up to me and asked if we were ready - oh yeah. We were lead up into this room and I was almost disappointed that we were out of the way of all the action - boy was that thought proved to be wrong. First of all, we had a FABULOUS view of the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s castle - amazing! I sat both of the girls on the outside of the table so they had better access to the characters. We also had a fabulous waitress, Deb. Every character came to our table, and J, K, Mike and I all got our pictures taken with each one. We waved our napkins in the air to the party music as Minnie or Mickey danced around our room! We all stuffed ourselves on the good food - it really was good. And we all very happy with our last official Disney experience. I got a present from M, D and J - some really nice Mickey Mouse earrings - I have already worn them to great compliment. They also gave Kaitlin a flag pin in the shape of Mickey - how nice of them.
K and I went to press pennies - we got all they had there. Mom went to buy some glasses for my cousin to thank her for taking care of our animals and then we were off. The other group decided to skip Downtown Disney and head home for Atlanta. We were not ready for it all to be over, and besides, K had some Disney Dollars left to spend! Unfortunately, it was still raining and it was going to get worse.
We hit Downtown Disney, parking on the Market Side. We went into World of Disney first. I could find NO Goofy earrings, what is up with that? Kaitlin found some clip-on earrings that looked like the Mickey ones I was wearing - she had to buy them! By this time, it was torrential rain! Dad ran to the car to get our ponchos, and he ended up soaked. We ran to the Basin store where K spent the last of her money - we even counted out change (um, do you accept pressed pennies?) to buy some bath salts that she REALLY WANTED!! Next, we ran to the toy store. I wanted to fill a box of Mr. Potato Head parts, but the crowd around the bins was awful. Not going to fight with that, we headed to the princess room in the back of the store. Kaitlin loved this and ended up making a princess charm bracelet while my mom picked out some Goofy charms for me to make earrings with. Love this store, and the CM that checked me out was so nice, I asked her to explain the difference between the green and the black lanyards. If a CM has a green lanyard, they will only do pin trading with kids. I think that is great! I think I said this earlier, I wish we brought the whole book of pins, if I had only known.
We were gonna try to make it to the other stores on my list, but the rain was just coming down and we were wet and tired and we just went back to the car. Unfortunately, our car was not happy, and would conk out every time you hit the brake pedal - we were STUCK at Downtown Disney in the rain. It would be 2 hours for the tow-truck driver and he could only take 2 of us. I told Mom and Dad that I would take Kaitlin to Planet Hollywood for some lunch (she was hungry again, I think she was too excited at breakfast to really eat much), they could stay in touch with us by cell phone. We ended up at McDonald’s - man that place was busy and GROSS, the floors were covered in napkins and ketchup and mustard. I was afraid to touch anything. I have never seen a place on Disney grounds that were in such bad shape. Kate, and Mom and I sat and entertained her. Dad waited for the tow truck driver. When he finally got there, the car started. We drove around the parking lot to make sure - and it seemed fine. The driver said it was the weather, positive and negative ions or something. Yeah, I think we will still drive to the dealership in Orlando and have them check it out. Turns out it was a faulty throttle valve. They replaced it and we were finally on our way home.
We got home after midnight and got everything out of the car. Glad to be home, but looking forward to our next trip.
Wow, did you stay with me the whole time? I know it was long, especially for a short trip, but I wanted to get everything in - plus give you a chance to get to know us. I am hoping to make more trip reports in the future, because that means more Disney trips!!!