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Stacey Zitto -- May 2004 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite)


Well, I love reading others' trip reports, so I knew I had to return the favor and make one of my own. It takes some time, but what a great way to relive our wonderful visit! I will warn you, my reports are very long and detailed, so if that bores you, I apologize, but I did not want to forget anything!

Who

  • Me- Stacey (37) and my daughter Annika (16 months), John is going to the Kentucky Derby

Goals for this trip-See Spectromagic, and Wishes for sure. Hopefully see IllumiNations and Fantasmic. Meet some of my "imaginary" friends. Play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-Play it! Explore some of the resorts. Enjoy the Flower and Garden show. Do the attractions we missed the last trip. Let Annika play in the fountains at Epcot for as long as she wants! Do some Pin Trading.

Background-My Dad took my brother and I to WDW the year it opened (I was 6, he was 3) and I was hooked. We took several trips throughout my childhood, some just the family and some with family friends. I remained hooked. My senior class trip in high school was a bus trip to WDW and my first time at Epcot. After college I took a trip with my boyfriend and saw MGM for the first time. In 1997 I won a contest at work and took my sister to All Star Music for a week with my winnings. Some time a couple of years before that trip I started buying the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World every year. (I love travel guides and discovered the UG's on my first trip to Las Vegas.) I wanted to return but never made back (though I had one day at DL in 1999.) Then my life got crazy (in a good way!) In May of 2000 I met John Zitto. In July of the same year we were engaged and in June of 2001 we were married. I thought about a Disney honeymoon but John isn't as much of a fan as I am, and as a wedding gift we were given 2 flights anywhere in the world and a week at a Marriott anywhere in the world, so we decided to go someplace we were less likely to be able to do on our own at a later date, and went to Rome and London instead. So, still no Disney. In April of 2002 we found out that our family would be growing and in December of the same year I gave birth to Annika. I figured at that point that it would probably be years before we got to go to WDW, but when Annika was not quite 10 weeks old we accompanied John on a business trip to Orlando. I had never seen Animal Kingdom and didn't know how the baby would do in the parks, so I just purchased a 1 park/1 day pass and went to AK. Well she did great so I bought another for the next day and took her to Epcot. Great again! The next day, John didn't have to work, so the three of us spent the day at MK together. Once again Annika was great, and let me tell you...it was the most relaxing thing in the world for this stressed out new mommy!

Well in the fall of 2003 John found out he would have a convention in Orlando in late Feb/early March so we planned to have our vacation around that trip. Then we had some MAJOR car repairs and found out we were to have a second baby, and it just didn't look like we'd be able to afford it, so we decided to cancel. Sadly, we lost our baby very early in the pregnancy and suddenly I really needed something to lift my spirits, so we decided to accompany John to the convention after all. Then two other things happened. John earned a companion pass for me on SW Airlines that allows me to fly free with him anytime he flies SW, and the Southeast (including Florida) was added to his sales territory. SO, when I accompanied him in February I bought an annual pass (yippee.) Annika and I spent 5 days in the parks that trip while John worked and I planned to return with him whenever he worked in the Orlando area, and probably make a trip in the fall on my own with Annika. Well John wanted me to get my money's worth from the pass, so I mentioned to him possibly going in May while he was at the Kentucky Derby. We had free flights, points for free rooms and an AP in hand. I only needed a car rental and food/spending money. We could swing that no problem so John agreed and I booked my flights that night. [A few weeks later he planned a business trip for mid June (we're going along on that one) and a few days after that, his boss told him that he needed him at a trade show at WDW in late July! Wow, am I lucky?] So I began the planning, my favorite part of a trip.

The Plan-

Friday, April 30, 2004
Wake up early and take care of any last minute details. Leave for the airport by 7:00. John will drive as his flight is leaving for the Kentucky Derby ½ hour after ours. Depart from Baltimore at 10:30 A.M. and Arrive at MCO at 12:40. Pick up rental car at Dollar using Fastlane service. Stop at a Target or Wal-Mart to pick up water, soda and some room snacks. Drive to Animal Kingdom and do as many attractions as possible before parade. Get lunch/dinner from Flame Tree Bar-be-que. Watch the Jammin' Jungle parade. Head to Down Town Disney Marketplace and get Annika a Guest of Honor badge. Explore a bit and get back to check in at the hotel. Relax and get to bed fairly early.

Saturday, May 1, 2004
7:15 PS at Chef Mickey's. Walk to the MK from the Contemporary. Explore Fantasyland. Meet with Chrisrails. Leave MK when it gets too crowded. Depending on the time, explore monorail resorts, go back to Comfort Suites for a break, or head over to Epcot for 2:50 P.S. for Mickey's Ice Cream Social at the Garden Grill. Explore Epcot. Stay for IllumiNations if Annika is up to it. Go back to hotel if she isn't.

Sunday, May 2, 2004
MGM in the morning until it gets too crowded and/or too hot. Afternoon break either exploring resorts, outlet shopping, or nap and swim in pool. Evening will either be Epcot or return to MGM for Fantasmic.

Monday, May 3, 2004
Go to Magic Kingdom in the morning. Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square areas. Take an afternoon-pool break. In the evening, return to Epcot or return to Magic Kingdom for Wishes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004
Be at Animal Kingdom early enough to see opening ceremony. Explore what we missed on Friday. Take a GOOD afternoon rest and be ready to meet –em and Chrisrails at Epcot for World Showcase and Illuminations. (I decided to skip Spectromagic because it sounds like it will be a zoo!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2004
Go to Magic Kingdom in the morning. Do Tommorrowland and Mickey's Toontown Fair and anything that deserves a repeat. Tour resorts, afternoon rest. Return to Epcot for evening (or Ohana's?)

Thursday, May 6, 2004
Go to Epcot in the morning to make sure to see the butterfly release, take in future world and get some fountain time. Take an afternoon break and MGM, Epcot, or MK in the evening.

Friday, May 7, 2004
Finish up whichever park I feel needs a little more attention and then head to airport to drop off car by 2:00.

The Trip-

Day One-Friday, April 30, 2004

Day one started well. I was actually able to sleep and since we didn't leave too early, I slept in until almost 6:00! I got up and did one final e-mail check and sent a final pre-trip e-mail of to my "imaginary" friend and fellow Trip Writer (dare I put myself in his league?!) Larry Wilmot. I woke John and got ready while Annika slept. Annika woke up on her own so I dressed her while John loaded the car. Our plan was to be out of the house by 7:00 and by 6:50 we were off to BWI. We hit a little bit of school bus traffic but nothing significant and made decent time getting to the airport. We arrived to find both long term parking lots full so had to park in the new indoor structure. A little bit more expensive, but not much. We took a shuttle to the terminal and got into the VERY long Southwest check-in line. There was an older woman in line behind us and Annika a liking to her and kept pointing at her necklace. The woman played with Annika a bit and as we edged closer to the front of the line, Annika reached out to kiss the woman! Annika is very stingy with her kisses and I'd never seen her offer one to a stranger. Very cute! As always, the SW line moved very quickly and soon we were checked in and heading through security. That done, John came to our gate to help me out with Annika until our flight. I was hungry so I got a Cinnabon. Mmmm! Our flight ended up being delayed, so John had to go to his own gate. Annika got very restless, so I pulled out the DVD player and put on Baby Beethoven. What a good investment that DVD player was! She sat mesmerized until it was time to board, about an hour late. We got the bulkhead row with two high school senior girls heading down for Grad Night. As is typical, Annika slept for a good part of the flight and was in a good mood when she woke up. We took a little walk and had a snack. Then she played Peek-a-boo with the girls sitting behind us. Before we knew it we were preparing to land in Orlando. The flight attendants were right across from us and Annika was flirting with the male one. He held out his hands for her to come to him and I handed her over. She sat on his lap for a few minutes and then gave him a kiss! That's two unsolicited kisses in one day, both to strangers! (Side note: When I do something fun with Annika, like put her down the slide, throw her in the air and catch her, etc, I always say "One, Two, Three...Wee!" If she wants to do it again she'll say TEE? (Three) It's very cute!) When we touched down, I said "One, Two, Three...Boom!" Annika gave me a big smile and said "Tee?" Since I didn't think they'd land the plane again so we could go "Boom" we waited patiently to disembark at the gate.

I had gate-checked the stroller, so I had to wait for them to bring it out. Everyone was off of the plane and I was still waiting when one of the baggage handlers looked at me and said "you're waiting for a stroller, aren't you?" I said that I was and he told me that they couldn't get it or any of the bags because the airport was in a weather code red because of local lightning. He didn't know how long it would be until our bags could be unloaded. I told him I'd go to baggage claim if they could send the stroller there too. No problem, so off we went. Annika had had enough of sitting around and it was hard to keep her happy. After about 20 minutes I pulled out Baby Beethoven again. Annika and another little girl who was waiting for baggage as well watched, and then soon, out came our bags. Ours came pretty quickly. I got them loaded on a cart and went down to pick up my rental car from Dollar. I had joined the Fastlane program to avoid the terrible waits, and when I went down I was second in the Fastlane line. The people ahead of me finished up, and I was ready to go, when the girl behind the counter just left! I figured someone else would help me, so I waited patiently, and then not so patiently when 4 groups from the regular line were served while I just stood there. I was getting annoyed when someone finally decided to take me before serving the rest of the regular line. From that point it was quick, although I was disappointed that they couldn't redeem my upgrade coupon because they were out of intermediate and full size cars, but the compact was fine for our needs. We walked right out to the cars and ours was right there in the front. I wasn't sure how I was going to get the car seat situated with no one to hold onto Annika for me, but I just sat her on the seat of the car and while I got the car seat installed, she climbed right into it and waited for me to buckle her in. See, she's smart as well as cute! And we were (finally) off, and only 2 hours later than expected! When we pulled out it was raining lightly and then it started to pour (Annika also fell asleep immediately) so I started to rethink my plans. I could skip DAK and go straight to the hotel and then go to Epcot. I had a bit of a drive so I put of the decision. Well, it rained, it stopped, it rained it stopped...If you don't like the weather in Orlando, wait a minute! When I reached the exit for DAK it wasn't raining, so I decided to go for it. Annika was just waking up so the timing was perfect. We jumped on a tram that was waiting and went straight into the park and toward Africa to watch the parade, stopping only to get my trivia sheet for the Disney Pin Flowers Quest and buy my first flower pin, a Simba in a flower. We stopped to watch the parade just outside of Africa and just a few minutes before it started. What a great way to start a Disney vacation! The parade was fun and EVERY character that was on foot came over to Annika! She was excited to see them but a little tentative when they touched her. Not quite ready for hugs! She was especially excited to see Mickey, her favorite, on top of his float. When the parade ended we headed straight over to the safari with a posted wait time of 5 minutes we just walked on. It was excellent! A lot of animals were out. Annika said "Quack" every time we saw any sort of bird. When we saw the lions I told her that lions say "roar" and she thought that was hilarious! We saved Little Red and were off to the Pangani trail. The Gorillas weren't doing much but we watched for a few minutes anyway. It was getting close to closing time, so we started to walk back toward the front of the park. I stopped in the Oasis and nursed Annika and then headed out to the parking lot and headed to the hotel.

My plan had been to check in, get settled and then head to Downtown Disney for the evening, but the weather wasn't looking so good and we were tired from our longer-than-expected trip. Also, we had early priority seating at Chef Mickey's for the next day, so I decided to get a few groceries, pick up some Taco Bell and make it an early evening. Check-in was smooth, we got a pool view room and Annika got to press the "butties" on the elevator (her favorite thing to do) because we were on the third floor. There was a supermarket in the shopping center right next to us, so I picked up some milk, diet soda, and Pop Tarts, and went through the Taco Bell drive-through. We made it back to the room just in time to avoid a thunderstorm that lasted the whole evening and into the night. I felt good about my decision to skip DTD that night! We ate our dinner and watched Joan of Arcadia (my favorite new show this year.) Annika fell asleep and I watched a Law and Order: SVU until I fell asleep.

Day Two-Saturday May 1, 2004

I had arranged a wake-up call, but of course I was too excited about my first full day at WDW to need it. We were up, showered, dressed and out of the hotel in plenty of time. We drove over to the Contemporary, checked in with security, were given a 3 hour parking pass, and we parked the car. I didn't display the pass because my plan was to go straight to the MK from breakfast. We walked all the way to the hotel when I realized that I left the camera in the car, so I walked back and got it. We checked in at Chef Mickey's and called John to check in with him. We said "hi" to Goofy, but no pictures because Annika was a little nervous about him. We had the obligatory photo taken and were taken to our seats. I got us some breakfast lasagna, eggs, bacon, hash browns, Mickey waffles and pancakes. Annika wouldn't eat anything except a bite of waffle, and I was already too hot to eat much of anything myself. We had visits from Pluto, Chip, and, of course, Mickey. Each time Annika spotted another character she would point excitedly and clap and dance in her seat. When they came to our table she was very excited to see them, but was still unsure about them touching her. We had a family sitting next to us and the youngest daughter was celebrating her birthday, so she got her b-day cupcake and special visits, singing and of course towel waving from the characters. One thing that amazed me-They had an old autograph from Goofy from Disneyland 4 years earlier. They compared it to the one they had gotten from him that morning and they were so identical that they could have been photocopies. I hadn't realized that the characters had to learn a signature. It gives me a whole new level of respect for them. After a lot of water, OJ and a little bit of food, we headed out to make room for the next family. On the way out I grabbed a brownie, which Annika was more than happy to share with me! We walked around the hotel a bit, checked out the pin station and the very impressive model monorail setup. It was getting close to the time I wanted to head over to the MK, so we wandered up to the monorail stop and waited for a few minutes, during which Annika wandered from person to person trying to make friends.

Once at the MK we had an easy trip through security. We had to wait for about 20 minutes for the Good Morning ceremony, during which time I nursed Annika and changed her diaper. When they opened the gates we went to the left, cut through the Emporium to the hub, turned left and into Fantasyland. We head directly to Dumbo which I haven't ridden since I was a small child myself. We got on the 3rd ride of the morning. Annika is fascinated with watching the cycle rides, and said "Wee" while we rode. Then we went over to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We had less than a minute's wait and Annika said "Pooh" when she saw the characters in the queue. She said "wow" a lot, but was a little scared by the lightning. Then we went to Peter Pan and waited for less than a minute. This ride got lots of "wow's and "wees" Then we were across to It's a Small World (last day of operation before rehab!) I don't think she blinked. She was big eyed the whole time! There was no line for the Carousel, so we got on and sat in a bench seat. About halfway through, Annika fell asleep! I put her in the sling and went over to Mickey's Philharmagic. We waited while she slept and then went in. I LOVE this show. I just think it's great. About halfway through, Annika woke up and immediately started dancing to the music. You've got to love a baby who wakes up smiling! She said "quack" as soon as she saw Donald Duck. Did I mention that I LOVE this show? Afterward, we did a quick diaper change, bought a bottle of water and headed over to Jungle cruise, My plan for MK had been Fantasyland and at 10:30 I had done every ride (except the Teacups, which I don't like.) Jungle Cruise had a significant queue, so I got a fastpass. It was l less than an hour until my window, so I got in line for Aladdin's Carpets. From the queue I noticed that a Tiki Room show was about to begin, so I hopped out of line and went right into the Enchanted Tiki Room. The last time I had done this attraction was 1989, so I really don't remember the old version very well. I thought the new was entertaining and a nice sit down break. Annika pointed a lot and said "quack." She also danced. We still had plenty of time so we walked over to Pirates of the Caribbean. The posted wait time was 5 minutes but it was essentially a walk-on. This was Annika's 3rd trip on POTC, but her first awake. As it is one of my all time favorites, I was anxious to see how she liked it. At first, when it was dark and foreboding, she was a little bit scared, but as soon as the mood lightened up, she was clapping, dancing and saying "wow" and "wee!" She especially liked the "doggie, doggie...woof, woof." By the time we finished at POTC, our FP window was open and back we went. This was only my second experience with FP and let me say, FASTPASS ROCKS! Wow, it was awesome walking past the hot sweaty schlubs who chose to stand in line instead of FPing it! We were on the second boat, essentially a walk on, again. This ride (and Haunted Mansion for the same reason) have sentimental value to me because I remember them from my very first trip to WDW in 1972ish. We had a great skipper and Annika loved seeing all of the "animals." She REALLY liked the waterfall (both the front and the back and when we went through the cave she said "wow!" (Really, she has a huge vocabulary for a child her age, but "wow" seemed appropriate to her for many of the attractions!) When we're finished it was time for lunch. I wanted to check out the famous fixin's bar at Pecos Bills so that's where we head. It was worth the effort. Wow! That's one impressive fixin's bar! I had a burger, fries and diet coke and shared with Annika. It rained a bit while we were eating but had finished by the time we were through. Then I wanted to head over to check out the play area outside of Splash Mountain but Frontierland was MOBBED! Who let all of these people in?! It was only noon. I had already accomplished much more than I had planned AND eaten lunch. The park was getting mobbed. It was time to get outta Dodge! On the way out Annika fell asleep in the stroller. I stopped in to buy my flower pin and headed out. She slept on the monorail and continued to sleep when I transferred her to the car at the Contemporary (it hadn't been ticketed or towed. Yippee!!)

I have two very good friends from the company for whom I used to work. For years we had talked about going to WDW together as they are also big fans. When I was there in March, it turns out they were also there and neither of us knew it. We were so bummed that we had missed each other. So, to be funny, on my way over to Epcot, I called Myles (one of the guys) just to make sure he and Jimmy weren't in Orlando! He got a laugh out of it and we had a chat for a while. He was in a bad cell and eventually we got cut off. Annika was still asleep so I called my brother for our regular weekend chat. He's also a Disney. I parked at Epcot and talked to Drew until Annika started to stir. I said goodbye, put her into the stroller and we were on our way into my favorite park. My AP doesn't work so I have to show ID and reprogram my biometrics. Man do I love that Epcot entrance music. It's so uplifting! We had a bit of time before our PS for the ice cream social at the Garden Grill, so we took my traditional first-ride-at-Epcot on Spaceship Earth. Annika said...you guessed it..."WOW!" She really liked it when we saw the planet earth and she said...nope, not wow..."Ball!" She loves balls and anything vaguely ball like is a ball to her. I want over to the pin station to answer my trivia question and buy my flower pin and then headed over to the Garden Grill. We were 20 minutes early for our PS so I let Annika run around a bit while we waited. She ran up the ramp to the restaurant just as our pager went off. Is she psychic? Our waitress Cheryl was terrific! Dale came by first and Cheryl took a picture of the 3 of us. Annika was very excited to see the characters by this time. At first she wouldn't touch him, but Dale was very patient and let her pet his paw. Then she beeped his nose. She was definitely getting more comfortable! Dale left, and before Cheryl could get out her spiel, Mickey came to our table. Annika was VERY excited to see Mickey. She pointed and stared and beeped his nose. Cheryl took our picture, and once again, before she was able to get out her spiel, Pluto cam by. Annika pet his paws and played with his ear and tongue, and beeped his nose. Cheryl took our picture and finally got to explain the procedure for the Ice Cream social. She gave Annika a coloring book and a couple of crayons and Annika colored for the first time ever! Chip came over to the table and Annika gave him her crayon and said "thank you." He started to color and pointed to another crayon and to her, wanting her to join him in coloring! I got such a cute picture of the two of them coloring together! The ice cream was huge and Annika was very happy. Mmmm! It was $10.00 including a generous tip. On the way out I did my very first pin trade ever!

We picked up a fastpass for Living with the Land, and went upstairs to see Circle of Life. I get tears in my eyes every time I watch the beginning of that film. Annika liked the animals and said "roar" when Simba roared. Our window for LWTL was open, so we went down and go in the FP line. There was a nice family behind us, all wearing matching t-shirts. Very cute! I just love this ride (I have a thing for veggies. I think they are cute) and Annika liked it too, but her only real reaction was a "woof, woof" for the doggie.

We went over to Journey into Your Imagination and rode the ride with... you guessed it...no wait. Annika seemed entranced with all of the colors in the upside down room. We didn't hang around and play afterward because it was pretty crowded, so we went out to play in the little fountains, but they weren't working! Annika loved them so much the last trip and I was looking forward to letting her play again. Oh well, maybe next time.
On our way into the Living Seas, we saw the big Nemo leaving. Annika said "ishy!" She LOVES fish! We skipped the movie because Annika was very squirmy. She was much less interested in the fish than I thought she would be, so we didn't stay long. I put her in the stroller to take her to play in the interactive fountains, but by the time I got there, she was fast asleep. I decided to take the opportunity to stroll about World showcase a bit. On my way toward Canada I stopped to chat with a couple from TN, chaperones for a band trip who were leaving that night to drive back. Very nice folks! I went over to the Yorkshire County Fish Shoppe for fish and chips. I sat on a bench and listened to British Invasion for a little bit, and then walked back through Canada and over to Innoventions East. Annika woke up along the way and had a few fries. We sent a video d-mail to Larry Wilmot and then went to wait for the House of the Future tour. We were waiting with a very nice family from Saskatchewan with two kids, daughter Avery and son Eli. Eli was very interested in my hat with the trading pins. He had bought his first pin and was interested in the trading rules, so I filled him in. I commented on how much I liked Avery's name. We are looking for another A name if we ever have another girl, and I liked the name. The tour was great. I asked if I could move in and they said it would be O.K., but that there is no running water! I really want the hot tub with the 42" plasma TV built in! Eli and Avery's family were especially interested in the wheelchair, as both kids are in wheelchairs. When we were done, we exited at the play fountains. Annika played, but didn't get too close to the action. The weather was looking questionable, so we headed back to the hotel, (Annika pressed the "butties" on the elevator) got ice, watched an SVU rerun, and fell asleep. All in all, it was a very full day!

Day Three-Sunday May 2, 2004

Sunday morning Annika woke up not feeling quite herself. I think the heat from the day before had gotten to her. She was not really sick, just kind of droopy. We played for a while and then got in the car to take a drive so she would sleep a little more before MGM, She fell asleep immediately and we drove around a bit and then headed over to MGM where I sat in the parking lot until Annika woke up. It was still early so we were in no real hurry. I loaded Annika and the stroller into the tram and off we went. There was a nice older couple from St. Augustine sitting next to us on the tram. They were pin traders and said that they came over almost every week for a day. We were about 40 minutes from park opening, so I just let Annika run around and burn off some energy. The inline skate marathon was going on and we watched a lot of skaters skate out of the Studios on their way to their next stop. Annika played in the dirt of one of the planters until they opened the gates and in we went. They just let us through the turnstiles, but not the whole park yet. I had wanted to get Annika a Guest-of-Honor badge, so while I waited I went into the shop and had it done. While the CM was engraving the badge, her manager, Donald, was playing with Annika. When he found out that she loves Mickey, he gave her a pin of Mickey and Pluto in a car. Thanks for the Pixie Dust, Donald! By then the park was fully open, so we went and picked up fastpasses for Voyage of the Little Mermaid. While we waited for the first showing of Playhouse Disney, I bought us a bottle of water to share. When we got in line for Playhouse Disney Annika saw the sign with all of the characters on it and got VERY excited. For the first part of the show she had a great time, clapping and dancing, but then she asked to nurse and seemed droopy again. I nursed her until the show was over and then went straight over to VotLM. We pretty much walked right in and were seated at the far end of one of the rows. Shortly after the show began, Annika fell asleep. I enjoyed the show. I love the music! After the show we walked over to pick up a fastpass for Who Wants to be a Millionaire-Play It! We still had time and Annika was still asleep, so I walked into One Man's Dream and looked around. Annika wake up and ran around the displays and played with a very nice young CM. We watched the film, headed out for a diaper change and bought a chocolate covered banana to share. We finished just in time to get to WWTBAM-PI! I was impressed with the show, but it was very hard to participate with a toddler in my lap! Before the game began, Annika made it up on the Jumbotron! Just shows that Disney cameramen have terrific taste! The fastest finger round was won by a young man on his honeymoon and he made it to 32,000. Annika was very squirmy so we left early. We walked over to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground, but Annika was asleep again by the time we got there. I opened up some of the crates at the Prop Shop to hear the noises and headed over to the ABC Commissary to get some lunch while Annika slept. I had the Cuban sandwich, Diet Coke and Flan for $12.54. I took trip notes while I ate. The food was pretty good for fast food but not spectacular. When Annika woke up I gave her a plantain chip which she sort of choked on. She cried but was O.K. It was definitely time to go. We stopped at the BAH (which I like, by the way) to buy my flower pin and answer my trivia question. We went directly back to the room. On the way I called my parents to wish them a Happy Anniversary and my sister to wish her a Happy Birthday. Annika perked up a bit in the AC so we played a little bit and then took a good nap together. We woke up refreshed and headed over to Downtown Disney. We walked through World of Disney but bought nothing. We went to the Lego store where I was going to buy a container of loose Lego for my best friend, but they were out of most of the cool colors, so I skipped it! Annika had fun playing in the little play area outside of the store. We stopped at Ghirardelli and had a sample and then went to the play fountains outside of Once Upon a Toy where Annika had a great time playing for quite a while. It was warm enough that I even jumped in a few times. Annika thought it was very funny seeing Mommy getting wet in the fountain. We dried up and went into Once Upon a Toy where a very nice CM played with Annika and gave her some stickers. I almost bought Annika a book but decided to wait (and of course forgot to come back for it!) We went to the pin store to buy my flower pin and answer the trivia question and ended up talking to a couple of very nice CMs who gave Annika a bunch of Mickey stickers. We went into the Earl of Sandwich. It was modes so I just bought a sprite and walked into the sweet shop where I bought a treat that was marshmallows on a stick, dipped into chocolate and then sprinkles. It was Yummy and Annika thought so too! We traded two pins with a very nice CM and walked out to play in the other play fountain. I quickly checked out the scrapbook store and it was time to go. I traded another pin near the pin store and went back to the car. Annika fell asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel. Back in the room, we played a bit and Annika fell back asleep. I watched Cold Case and the first part of the mini series 10.5 and fell asleep myself.

Day Four-Monday May 3, 2004

We were able to sleep much later tan we had been. At 7:00 John called. Annika was still asleep so we chatted and I wrote some trip notes. When Annika woke up she was feeling MUCH better. We played, watched some TV, (when the Wiggles came on Annika said "Widdle!") shared a pop tart and got some juice at the hotel breakfast buffet. Then we were off to Epcot. We were fairly early and able to park very close. It was overcast and drizzly, but not terrible. At rope drop we went straight into Innoventions to send a Video D-mail to John. I love Universe of Energy and even though I had done it twice in March, I had to go again. Annika needed a diaper change, so I did a quickie and in we went to spend 45 minutes with Ellen, Bill Nye, Alex Trebec, Jamie Lee, and Einstein. (Oh, and a few dinosaurs too!) After UoE, I walked over to the Electric Umbrella to try to find the talking trash cans. I couldn't find them but did have a drink from the talking water fountains. I was hungry so I got us a chocolate croissant and water to share at the Fountain View Espresso and Bakery. When we were finished it was time to walk over to the butterfly garden to watch the 11:00 daily butterfly release. While we waited we talked to two very nice CMs, one student (sorry, I don't remember your name) and a photographer named Garth. The program began and the butterfly expert came out and did his spiel. When it was time to do the release, he said that each day they chose a special helper and he looked at Garth and asked him who he had chosen. Garth pointed to...yep, you guessed it...Annika! We went up to the butterfly house and the butterfly guy opened it and took a butterfly out and tried to place it on Annika's arm. It flew away but he tried a few more times and finally the big Monarch Butterfly sat right on her hand. She stared at it and then showed it to me and said "thank you." It was terribly cute! The whole time we were up there Garth was snapping photo after photo. When we were finished, he asked me to wait a few minutes. He finished shooting photos while guests gushed over how cute my little girl is! When he was finished he came over and had me sign a release to use the photos and to be able to send a press release to my local newspapers. All of the cast members said that Annika was the cutest volunteer that they had had and how Garth must have gotten "the" picture. Of course I already know that she's the cutest baby ever, but it's nice to have outside confirmation! What Pixie Dust!

I was on cloud nine. It had been such a wonderful experience that I didn't even mind it when it began to rain. We walked toward Norway to ride Maelstrom. It was early so there was no wait. Annika said "weeee..." On our way out through the shops, Annika beeped the nose of the giant troll. It was raining harder as we headed out toward Japan for our 12:00 PS at Mitsukoshi Teppanyaki. We were seated quickly with two other groups. We chatted throughout the meal with a mother, daughter and niece from Tennessee and found out that Mom was Debbie TN from DISboards. I ordered the Hata Moto, chicken and shrimp which was very good. Annika had eel sushi and sushi rice. She didn't eat much of the eel, but enthusiastically ate the rice. We were finished by 1:00 and Annika fell asleep almost as soon as I put her in the stroller, so I walked over toward Canada for a beaver tail and the stand was closed. Is that place ever open? I walked back and checked out the fragrance garden and ultimate backyard garden and traded a couple of pins in Morocco. With no beaver tail and Annika still asleep, I decided to walk over to the boardwalk. I had never used the international gateway so this was a little adventure for me. I walked out and clockwise around the boardwalk. I stopped and briefly chatted with the CM at the DVC booth and kept walking. Annika started to stir and was awake by the time we reached the Yacht and Beach Clubs. We stopped and fed goldfish crackers to some very friendly ducks. Annika was delighted and said "kak, kak." I then decided that since I had been denied my beavertail that we should have a sundae at Beaches and Cream, so that is exactly what we did. It was hot fudge and delicious! When we finished we walked back to Epcot. Along the way we stopped to check out Stormalong Bay. WOW! What a pool!

Our timing was perfect. It was only 10 minutes until the next showing of The American Adventure so we went straight there. Annika danced to the music at the pre-show. I loved the show as usual. It had been years since I had seen it. Annika wasn't as enthralled. She sat for a bit and then got kind of squirmy, but we made it through. It was time to leave Epcot.

We headed out and drove to the TTC. I didn't want to break down the stroller to take the shuttle and it was a LONG walk from the parking lot. We took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and went straight to the baby care center to nurse and to do a diaper change. We walked to Adventureland and rode Aladdin. While we waited in line, Annika loved watching the ride in motion and cried whenever it stopped. We headed for the Haunted Mansion but Annika had fallen asleep. We walked to Tomorrowland and into Cosmic Rays. I looked for the talking trashcans but had no luck. At that point I decided to call it a night. Annika woke up on the way out of the park, so I broke down the stroller and took the tram back to the car.

It was still early when we got back so we took a swim. The water was very warm but Annika was a little bit clingy at first. Eventually she relaxed and we had a nice swim. We showered off, had a snack, and hit the sack. I started to watch to conclusion of 10.5 but fell asleep halfway through.

Day Five-Tuesday May 4, 2004

We woke up, got dressed and headed out to Animal Kingdom. While waiting for the gates to open, we saw "Wes Palm." He told Annika that she was "snug as a bug in a rug" in her stroller. We headed straight to Dinoland to ride Triceratops Spin. On the way we stopped for pictures with Pooh and friends. First we had a photo with Pooh and Piglet. I told Pooh that Annika could say his name. He was very pleased. I told Piglet that she didn't know how to say Piglet yet. He looked sad, so I told him that she COULD say "oink." That cheered him up! Then we took a photo with Eeyore and Tigger. There was no line at Triceratops Spin so we rode twice. I did a pin trade with one of the ride CMs there. When we finished, we walked over to catch Festival of the Lion King. On the way over, I overheard a boy asking his mom "Where do hissing cockroaches live?" "Madagascar" she answered. He responded "I don't like hissing cockroaches. I just like the regular little ones!"

Festival of the Lion King was great as usual. I think it is my favorite attraction at WDW and maybe Annika's as well. There was an older woman from Scotland sitting next to us. Annika was chattering to her and pointing to her jewelry. The woman let her play with her bracelet and necklace and the next thing I knew, Annika had climbed into her lap and was watching the show sitting in the lap of her new friend. I really need to work on her stranger anxiety! Poor kid is just too shy! She also made friends with a little girl sitting in front of us.

On our way back to Dinoland to watch Tarzan we stopped at the DVC booth. Annika liked the brilliantly decorated safari van. I made an appointment for Thursday to take the DVC tour. We headed over to Tarzan, but Annika wouldn't sit still, and I wasn't interested enough to push the issue, so we headed over to Africa to take the train to Conservation Station. The crowds were terrible so I decided to skip it. Annika had fallen asleep, so I headed over to Flame Tree Bar-B-Q for some lunch. I had the pulled pork platter. Yummy! Annika woke up so we went over to the pond/fountain and watched a family of ducks. There were about 7 or 8 tiny babies and they were SO cute! Then we headed out. I had forgotten to note where I had parked, but I remembered the general area so it didn't take too long to find the car. I drove over to POP Century to buy my flower pin, get my card stamped and just check out the resort as we would be staying there in June. The resort looked like a lot of fun and I was glad to have chosen it. When we were done we went back to the hotel for a nap because we would be out late meeting our "imaginary" internet friends at Epcot for Illuminations later.

We woke up at 4:15 and went over to the Wilderness Lodge to buy the flower pin and get our final stamp. Then, we drove toward Epcot and parked at the Swan. We walked over to Epcot through the International Gate and walked toward Future World. I got my free Figment flower pin at the pin station and waited for the folks to show up for our meet. While we waited I let Annika run around and play with the fiber optics in the pavement in front of Innoventions. Teri was the first of our I-Friends to show up. She noticed us and the Laughing Place button Annika was holding. We chatted a few moments and then Teri noticed another LP button. We walked over and introduced ourselves to –em and Chrisrails. After a few minutes of conversation, we decided to take a walk around World showcase. Chrisrails and –em used to work together on the monorail (Chris still does), so they caught up while Teri and I chatted. After an hour or so, Teri had to leave so we worked our way back toward France ad Morocco and staked out a spot for IllumiNations. I got some Yakitori and shared the rice with Annika. When U gave her a pea, she exclaimed "Ball!" She also did some commentary on my utensils..."poon" = spoon, "red" = my red fork, and "caw" = straw. Her vocabulary and comprehension continue to grow. It was actually a bit chilly and I was glad to have her wrapped in the sling. IllumiNations was excellent, and the noise didn't frighten Annika at all. In fact she said "wow" a lot and when the globe came out she pointed and said "Ball!" When the show was over we said our goodbyes to our new friends and walked back to our car at the Swan. It was a beautiful evening and it made me really miss John, so I called him and talked to him as we made our way around the boardwalk. Back at the room I watched some TV and fell asleep.

Day Six-Wednesday May 5, 2004

I woke up not really having a set plan. Annika was a little bit stuffy and was coughing a bit so we took our time. We had breakfast at the hotel buffet and headed over to the TTC and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We watched Cinderella's surprise celebration. While we watched my friend Denise called to tell me that her parents, sister nephews and niece would be at the Magic Kingdom that day and to give me her mother's cell phone number so I could try to meet up with them. Then we headed over to Tomorrowland and rode Buzz Lightyear with no wait. I have to assume that it is easier to shoot when you don't have a toddler on you lap, because my scores have been consistently lousy! We walked to Toontown and visited the Pooh characters. Annika was GREAT! She was so excited to see them. We got some good photos and headed out and over toward Liberty Square. On the way over I heard a voice that sounded familiar and turned around only to find my friend Denise's family! (...it's a small, small world...) I snuck up and surprised them. We exchanged hugs and took some photos and then parted ways. We headed straight to the Haunted Mansion. There was no wait at all. I barely had time to see Madame Leota's eyes move before we were ushered in. As seems usual for her, Annika fell asleep on the ride. With her still asleep, I headed over to the Hall of Presidents. I hadn't been to this attraction since 1989 and was anxious to see it again. I enjoyed it a lot and actually stayed for a 2nd showing when Annika was still asleep at the end of the first. About halfway through she woke up and fussed so we left. I got a churro and then we went for a bathroom break. While in the bathroom, Annika started to cough so much that she threw up. I took her to the baby station and got her cleaned up. Of course, I had a spare pair of shorts, but no shirt for her so we went to the Emporium and bought her a new pink t-shirt with Minnie Mouse on it. I had a quick lunch at Casey's and then we headed back to the car. We made a quick trip to the Character Premier outlet and bought a few pins before heading back to the hotel for a nap. At 4:45 we headed over to the Polynesian to meet –em and her friend Rachel. We were early so Annika colored a little bit. We walked around and explored and then had a sprite from the bar. Rachel and –em showed up and we went in. The food and the company were excellent, but Annika wasn't feeling well and was cranky. She fell asleep in my arms and it was kind of hard to eat. The pineapple with caramel was worth the price of the whole meal! We regretfully said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel for TV and sleep.

Day Seven-Thursday May 6, 2004

Annika woke up not feeling so well. I kept my appointment at the DVC anyway, but was unsure of the rest of the day. Her cough was getting worse and I was starting to be a bit concerned. The DVC tour was neat, but it just isn't for us at this time. When we finished I called John to see if he could pick us up at the airport later that day if we could catch an earlier flight. He said he could and I called the airline right away. They were able to get us on a flight with no charge because we were flying on a free certificate. I rushed back to the hotel, packed, checked out and was off to the airport in a little over an hour and a half. Our flight home was uneventful and I got Annika an appointment for the doctor for the next day. As it turned out she did have an ear infection so I'm glad I got her home, even though I hated to cut my trip short.

Some Final Thoughts

Though I had planned to wax eloquent on the minute details of this trip in this final section, I think I'll make it short, seeing as it has been nearly 3 months since I returned. In no particular order, some thoughts:

1.Traveling alone or alone with a baby is fun and though limiting in ways, it also enables a certain amount of freedom that traveling in a group does not.
2.Meeting "imaginary" friends is a lot of fun. I hope to see you again, and to meet more of you in the future!
3.The best laid plans...be flexible and roll with the punches.
4.The Flower Pin Quest was a lot of fun I really enjoyed it, even though I bought several pins I would not otherwise have purchased. (Take note of that you Disney officials who read these boards!)
5.The Flower and Garden Show is impressive and well worth a visit.
6.FastPass Rocks!
7.Walt Disney World never gets old. There is always something new to see or do.

I'm sure there is more I could say, but I have two more trip reports to write (a day at California Adventure and a short trip to WDW in June) and I'm leaving In 2 ½ days for WDW again, so I'll put my words of wisdom in those reports. Sorry it has taken me so long to get this finished, but I've got a toddler and a baby on the way (in February) so I have a good excuse!

Faithfully yours,

Stacey Zitto

staceyrbz@aol.com


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