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Thread: Betsyrina – May 12 – 23, 2012 – All Star Sports Resort and Offsite

  1. #1

    Betsyrina – May 12 – 23, 2012 – All Star Sports Resort and Offsite

    Travel dates: May 12 20 at ASSR and then move to Hilton for a conference for Betsy

    Travel method: Alaska Airline Seattle to Orlando direct

    Resort: All Star Sport Resort and Hilton

    Accommodations: Standard Room

    Ages Represented in Group: Betsy (45), DS (Ben age 9 will be 10 in June)

    Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Betsy (numerous trips to Disneyland as a child, 5 as an adult, 1 trip to WDW (offsite)); Ben (2 trips to Disneyland, this is his first trip to WDW)

    Cast of characters: just Betsy and Ben


    I have a conference in Orlando, and I debated about whether to try to combine a Disney trip with it. There were several considerations taking my son out of school for 8 days, missing 4 or so of his baseball games, and whether we wanted to spend the money. But I cant stand the idea of being so close and not doing Disney, and I also cant stand the idea of not doing it with my family (it feels too selfish). My husband and I talked about it for several days when I mentioned that I really wanted to go, and we ultimately decided that its a great opportunity to minimize the costs, and that we could fit it in our budget. He went with us on our two trips to Disneyland, but has decided not to join us on this trip (he said he would rather use the money to buy a new sofa). Hes doesnt enjoy Disney that way that Ben and I do (obviously). Ill miss him, and it will be a different experience without him, but Im sort of looking forward to spending some quality one-on-one time with Ben. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so he spends more time with Ben than I do, and this will be a nice break for him too. Im also looking forward to not having to try to get someone excited to get out the door it will be easy with just the two of us! Ben is always gung-ho!

    When I discussed this with Bens teacher (late January), she had some reservations, but she said she was willing to work with us, if we were prepared for the consequences of him missing 8 days of school she is very concerned that he will get behind. She wanted us to start planning for him to miss school early. These were my suggestions for keeping him on track:

    Having Ben keep a journal where he writes everyday about his thoughts about the trip, our planning activities, what hes excited about, etc. from now until after our trip is over.
    Doing extra reading by researching our trip on line and using the guidebooks Ive purchased between now and May.
    Doing extra work between now and May to get a jump on the learning activities (as appropriate).
    Working together on the plane (both ways) and during the evenings during our time at Disney World to stay current with what the class is doing while he is gone.
    Doing extra work after we get back to catch up (as necessary).
    Working on math facts and possibly other things while we are waiting in lines.
    Choosing one thing (i.e. one of the countries in the World Showcase, the culture and celebrations that are associated with the food that we try in one of the restaurants we eat in, or the history or science behind a particular attraction or show) that sparked his interest during our trip to research and learn more about, and do a report for his teacher by the end of the school year.

    The Planning:
    I started planning in January, just after I submitted two abstracts to the conference. I started by researching the resorts with Ben, and figuring out where we wanted to stay. He loves baseball, and he wants to swim in the Goofy pool shaped like a baseball diamond, so his vote was for ASSR. I thought it sounded fun too, so our first decision was made.

    Next we started looking at the restaurants, reading reviews and trip reports etc. I also bought an Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and purchased a discounted membership on I figured out what parks we would attend each day based on how busy they would be, but also making sure that we could see all four parks. Then we started making reservations. I canceled a few after seeing others that I would rather try. We ended up with 8. We decided to purchase the Disney Dining Plan (I like the idea of pre-paying for our meals and not feeling guilty about eating in nicer restaurants). At one point I said to Ben that we wouldnt have any character meals, and he said why not?. I said that I didnt know he wanted to do that; he said he did, so I moved things around again.

    In early February, I contacted Mary Kraemer from Mouse Ears Vacations. She was great to work with, and I booked ASSR, Disney Magical Express, 9 day Park Tickets (I did not add the park hopper or water park additions), and the Disney Dining Plan. Deposit paid.

    As long as my abstract(s) are accepted for the conference, my company will pay my airfare, but I wanted to use airline miles for Bens ticket, so I booked that at the end of January. In the worst case scenario, we will have to change our reservations and pay a fee, but it will be a lot cheaper than having to pay for the entire flight (Seattle to Orlando is not cheap).

    Ben and I have also been reading guide books, and thinking about the attractions we most want to do. Im driving everyone crazy as plans are solidified I cant wait to hear whether my abstract(s) are accepted, and whether I will be attending the conference. I think it will work out fine.

    To help Ben get excited and to encourage him to keep a journal I made a countdown journal jar (slips of paper with a different journal topic), so he could draw one slip of paper a day and write to that topic in his journal, and when the jar is empty, we will go to Disneyworld. I gave it to him on Valentines Day. Our countdown is 88 days!!!

    I found out in late February that my paper was accepted to the conference, so we are now definitely moving forward with our plans (by now, I dont think I could have not gone, though, so the conference attendance just means that I now dont have to pay for my airfare!). Good news! With my flight booked (thanks job!), I think we are ready.

    I looked into purchasing the PhotoPass because I read somewhere on MousePlanet that the price was going up. I got good advice from several of you about whether it was worth the cost, and I decided to purchase the Deluxe PhotoPass, and Ill make an album for Ben. I also made my final payment (45 days left).

    The Plan:

    Saturday, May 12 Travel from Seattle to Orlando via Alaska Airlines, work on homework on the plane, DM to ASSR, check in, get settled in, dinner, swim, whatever we feel like

    Sunday, May 13 Mothers Day at Epcot! I love Epcot. Late Lunch ADRs at Coral Reef at 1:50. Ben wants to treat me, since its Mothers Day (how sweet is that?!?!?!). We have the DDP, so I will let him take care of the tip good practice on his math skills, to boot. Youre welcome Mrs. B!!! I want to see Illuminations and everything else that we can. Test Track is closed for renovation during our whole trip, so that is a bummer!

    Monday, May 14 Disney Hollywood Studios Hopefully we can see Fantasmic, and try the rides Ive never been on (Rock n Roll Rollercoaster, Toy Story Mania, The Great Movie Ride). I also want to see some of the shows. I also want to be able to go on the new Star Tours. If Ben really wants to, well try to do Tower of Terror, but that ride is not my favorite, and weve been on it before I would rather spend our precious time here doing things we cant do at Disneyland. Dinner ADRs at 50s Prime Time Caf at 7:15.

    Tuesday, May 15 Magic Kingdom, boat to Wilderness Lodge for ADRs at Whispering Canyon Caf for 5:00. We will tour before our meal, and when we need a break head for Wilderness Lodge to relax for a bit and explore. If we feel up to it, after our dinner, head back for the Main Street Electrical Parade (I love this parade) and Wishes.

    Wednesday, May 16 Magic Kingdom see what we missed and repeat favorites. I definitely want to see Mickeys Philharmagic, because Ive never seen that.

    Thursday, May 17 Epcot. I want to see Illuminations again. Well probably do some of our favorites from Sunday again and see the things we missed.

    Friday, May 18 Animal Kingdom, Breakfast ADRs before the park opens at Tusker House at 8:05 and late lunch at Yak and Yeti at 2:00. I want to do anything and everything here if we can. Priorities are Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, the Safari, Tree of Life, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Flights of Wonder.

    Saturday, May 19 Explore some of the other resorts, including breakfast ADRs at Boma at 10:45 and dinner ADRs at Ohana at 5:00, swim at the pools, laundry, pack up, and relax.

    Sunday, May 20 Open we will choose which park we want to go to while were there. EPCOT will be my choice (I think), because its my favorite park and it shows a very low attendance day on Touring Plans. My conference has a social hour on Sunday evening which I may or may not go to. Benihana has a restaurant in the hotel, and Ive always wanted to take Ben there, so we might do that tonight I guess it will depend on whether we have food on our dining plan that we still need to use.

    Monday, May 21 Conference attendance, but I purchased 9 day park passes, in case we can sneak away (or even just go back to one of the parks for the evening). Ben will hang out in the room working on homework, reading, playing on the Kindle, and playing Nintendo DS while Im in the conference. The sessions are 1 hours each, and I can go back and check in on him between every session. I will have my cell phone as well, in case he needs to reach me.

    Tuesday, May 22 Same plan as yesterday.

    Wednesday, May 23 Conference attendance, and then fly home.

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  3. #2

    It looks like you have everything pretty much planned for a great trip. While you are at the conference and Ben is in the hotel room, the timing of daily housekeeping might be an unknown factor, so you might want to check what the hotel policies are around that before your trip.

    Hope you have a great trip - looking forward to your trip report.

    “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” - Roy Disney

  4. #3

    Good tip, Barberella! I was thinking that I would use the do not disturb sign, but I'm also thinking that some coworkers spouses will hang out with him too. That would be ideal, but I'm not sure what they are planning. I'm not going to go to every session at the conference either.

  5. #4

    If you find the scheduled meal times aren't working for you, you may be able to bump them up by asking the cm at the podium of your restaraunt. They may not be able to take you early, but it never hurts to ask politely. I found out on our last trip we were usually hungry earlier than I had anticipated when making the ADRs. Every cm I asked said "let me see what I can do, I can't promise anything" and yet every single one had me seated in a matter of minutes. Gotta love that Disney service. Does your little guy like trains? The Steam Train Tour would be a fun surprise for him if he does. My hubby is a train nut, on our 17th anniversary trip I surprised him with the tour. They take you backstage to the round house (maintainence area) and show you how they start the trains up in the morning using a fireball (kerosene soaked mattress batting), you get some Disney history, trivia, and a chance to climb all over the antique trains, and take pictures of Main Street before it opens to the public! I'm not sure what the price is currently, check the disneyparks site for tours. It was only a few hours long, we got a neat pin, and even though I'm not a train person I enjoyed the experience.
    Best of luck!

    Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.

  6. #5

    Thanks for the tips TulaBelle! I had a thought a bit about booking a tour, but many of them are not available to us, due to Ben's age. I'll look into the train tour. I have seen a lot of trip reports that mention trying to check in early for ADRs, and that is great. We will definitely try that if we feel the need. I'm just so excited to go now! I can't wait!!!

  7. #6

    Hi your trip sounds like it will be a lot of fun! Have you asked if your Conference Centre has a kids club? That might keep your son entertained while you are at the Conference. I think 9 is a great age for Disney World, he's going to have a blast


    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  8. #7

    I think there is babysitting available at the conference hotel. I know that a couple of my coworkers have spouses that are joining them too. I'm thinking that he will find something to do. I'm really not worried about that. And honestly, I'm not planning to go to all of the sessions. I will need to go to two - the two I am presenting in, and I'll need to earn my keep by going to some others, but I'm not going to go crazy about it...

    Today, Ben and I finalized our dining plans (I had more reservations than table service credits, so we looked at all of our reservations and talked about what we liked about them, and then we took turns choosing which ones we wanted to keep). This is the order in which they were chosen:'

    50's Prime Time Cafe (Monday night for dinner) - Ben's first pick
    'Ohana (Saturday night for dinner) - my first pick
    Coral Reef Cafe (Sunday afternoon for Mother's Day) - Ben's second pick
    Whispering Canyon Cafe (Tuesday night for dinner) - my second pick
    Tusker House (Friday morning character breakfast) - Ben's third pick
    Boma (Saturday morning breakfast) - my third pick
    Cape May Cafe (Sunday morning breakfast) - Ben's fourth pick
    Yak & Yeti (Friday night dinner) - my fourth pick

    The two restaurants that didn't make the cut - Askerhaus breakfast and Biergarten dinner. I also had different times at Yak & Yeti and Cape May Cafe that we canceled as well. So, more decisions in the bank... Now we just need to wait for 40 days!

  9. #8

    Perhaps you could make definite arrangements for the times you are presenting - as you've pointed out, you could make prearrangements with a coworker's spouse, enroll him in a supervised activity or even just finding out before you go, if childminding is available at the convention.

    That way, you would know that you wouldn't be interrupted and would be able to concentrate on giving your full attention to both your presentations.

    “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” - Roy Disney

  10. #9

    Are you missing three park openings for breakfast? I really wouldn't do that personally.


    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  11. #10

    We're not missing any park openings. We have ADRs for Tusker House at 8:05, and the park opens at 9:00, so I'm expecting we will be done by then, and can mosey over to the Safari... Our ADRs at Boma are on our relax/laundry/packing day. We aren't planning to visit any park that day, and our ADRs at Cape May Cafe are for the last breakfast seating, so we will be at rope drop at either DHS or EPCOT and then make our way over to The Beach Club Resort. Ben wanted to go to a couple of character meals, and this seemed to be the best way to do this. Plus we both love to go out for breakfast. Do you think that will work okay?

  12. #11
    Registered User kuchfam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Arnprior, Ontario Canada

    Sounds like a fabulous trip you and Ben are going to have! My kids call these types of one on one excursions/outings a "You and Me Day or Time"
    Our first time ever on a family vacation was to WDW when our youngest literally just turned 9. His sister was 12 and his older brother 17. They were all out of school for a week. I too approached the teachers (9 and 12 yr. olds) and they were given extra reading and extra math to do at home starting a week or two before we left. Also, to putt away at on holiday. It all worked out extremely well. One year my youngest came back from holiday AHEAD of his class. He thought that was awesome! Who can miss over a week of school and come back to no homework!!?? The highschooler however, busted his buns catching up but even his teachers were aware and helped him out before our trip as best they could.
    You will find that every free moment won't be filled with school because you'll be amazed how much they get done on the planes and in the mornings before parks. Looking forward to hearing all about it!! HAVE A BLAST TOGETHER.

    Life is magical at Walt Disney World!

  13. #12

    Thanks Kuchfam! I feel okay about him missing school, and he has been working hard to make sure he doesn't get behind. However, so far, his teacher has not seemed cooperative at all. I hope she will be when it gets closer to the time for us to leave. But if she's not, he will have only one month of school left when we return, and we can work over the summer to try to catch up...

  14. #13
    Registered User Silvercat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Birmingham, UK

    Teachers can quite often be like that, they are the ones who will get the flack from the Head if kids in their class aren't up to scratch. But it is only 8 days!! I'm sure he will be able to keep up. Don't be disheartened by her attitude; your little one will be fine, and no-one ever failed school by missing a mere 8 days!

    Have a great time, and just think that you are getting some real quality one-to-one time with your son - creating memories that neither of you will ever forget.


    (Enjoy reading trip reports? Why not try my books, "Tiggerific Travels Parts 1, 2 & 3" - available now as e-books)

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by betsyrina View Post
    We're not missing any park openings. We have ADRs for Tusker House at 8:05, and the park opens at 9:00, so I'm expecting we will be done by then, and can mosey over to the Safari... Our ADRs at Boma are on our relax/laundry/packing day. We aren't planning to visit any park that day, and our ADRs at Cape May Cafe are for the last breakfast seating, so we will be at rope drop at either DHS or EPCOT and then make our way over to The Beach Club Resort. Ben wanted to go to a couple of character meals, and this seemed to be the best way to do this. Plus we both love to go out for breakfast. Do you think that will work okay?
    Yeah that's a good plan

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  16. #15

    Thanks Silvercat - I'm actually not too worried, at this point I mostly just want it to be settled. But I'm having a hard time getting her to respond to my educational plan for him missing school.

    Thanks Scooby! I appreciate the advice!

  17. #16

    27 days to go!!! Today we actually made two more ADRs. We decided to add Sci-Fi Dine-In and 1900 Park Fare meals. We decided to keep all of our ADRs and pay out of pocket for the two that seem like they will be the least expensive (i.e. if we aren't too hungry and share an entree, etc.). We have been reading the guide books that I have together, and talking about which attractions are not-to-be-missed.

  18. #17

    Saturday, May 12

    The Plan: Travel from Seattle to Orlando via Alaska Airlines, work on homework on the plane, DM to ASSR, check in, get settled in, dinner, swim, whatever we feel like…


    We got to the airport with no problem, taking a minor detour to my work to pick up my tennis shoes that I keep at work to walk with friends during the day that I forgot to bring home. I love these shoes, so I really wanted them. We had breakfast at the airport and sat next to a couple who were also going to Orlando. It was nice chatting with them.

    I hadn’t quite finished everything I needed to at work last week, so I worked on the plane while Ben worked on his homework, played on his DS, etc. The flight was uneventful, but we did chat with a few other families who were visiting WDW.

    We got to the line for DME at 5:30, and were one our way to the resort by 6:04. We checked in at ASSR and were in our room (in homerun hotel, building 9, just what we had requested) by 7:00. We talked to my husband and learned that we lost our baseball game today. Oh well!

    We went down to eat dinner – I had flank steak with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts (quite good) with a rice crispy treat (I saved it for later) for dessert and a bottle of water (which I’ll take into the park tomorrow) and Ben had a hot dog and fries with a cookie and a Powerade. We also got our refillable mugs – I got hot tea (I’ve developed a bit of a cold) and Ben got water.

    After we finished our meal we came back to the room and dropped off some things. He changed into swim trunks, and we went to the gift shop. He has saved about $150 in allowance money and he got a $25 gift card from us for Valentine’s Day, and a $25 gift card from the Easter Bunny. My sister also sent him a $25 gift card as an early birthday present. We browsed for a bit, but he didn’t buy anything. Then he went swimming and I read on the deck.

    They were having a dance party that was fun to watch. We thought about watching the movie, but instead we went back to the gift shop, and Ben made his first purchase – a Perry football. We stopped at the baseball pool and he was playing with his football, and then a few other boys joined in. I think this is the perfect place for us to stay for our first trip. There are a lot of boys staying her, so Ben has made friends already.

    We came back up to the room around 10:00, took showers, and settled down. He wrote in his journal, and I got on Facebook, and then wrote this. We scheduled our wake up call for 7:15 for tomorrow. Mother’s Day at Epcot!

    Final thoughts: Yay! We're here!!!

    Sunday, May 13

    The Plan: Late Lunch ADRs at Coral Reef at 1:50. I’d like to see Illuminations and everything else that we can.

    Actual: We had a wake up call at 7:15. We got dressed quickly and went down to grab a bite to eat. Ben got the pancakes with strawberries and bacon, another Powerade, and I got a banana (partially because I knew he wouldn’t eat all of the pancakes, so I could eat a few bites of that too). I paid for the banana and we used a quick service for the pancakes.

    We made it to the EPCOT buses at about 8:15, and were on a bus within 15 minutes. We were in the park very quickly after we arrived. We saw Stitch when we walked in and got an autograph and a picture with him. We then went to the Character Spot and got autographs and pictures with Mickey, Pluto, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy.

    Next stop Soarin’ – about a 10 minute wait, then we walked onto Living with the Land, and saw The Circle of Life movie with less than a five minute wait. Then we walked over to see Journey into the Imagination with Figment (I had never been on this ride, and I thought it was really cute) and Captain EO (neither of us liked EO, although I’m glad I’ve seen it).

    We stopped at a food cart and got a soft pretzel, using a snack credit. It was time for the World Showcase to open, so we headed into Canada. We shopped a bit, and Ben bought me a bracelet for Mother’s Day. Next we saw ‘O Canada; Ben was reluctant after Captain EO, but I talked him into it, and we both enjoyed it. We looked around the shops in United Kingdom for a while and as we were leaving, we noticed that the World Showcase Players were going to start a show, so we stopped to watch. It was fun. The audience participation was good, but the show was “rubbish”.

    We decided to head back toward The Seas Pavilion, and we saw The Seas with Nemo & Friends with about a 10 minute wait, then we saw Turtle Talk with Crush (I just love this!). We saw some of the aquariums, and then we shopped for a little bit. Ben bought a stuffed Crush and a Puka shell necklace for himself. I bought him a Passport kit, and I also bought some postcards.

    It was pretty close to our ADRs so we went and checked in. They told us they were running late, so we might be seated late, but we were seated 10 minutes early. Our server was okay – I ordered the Lobster Pasta and the Cheesecake, and Ben got the Lobster Bisque (they substituted this for the soup of the day for him, which was very nice), and the Grilled Fish of the Day (which was salmon), and he ordered the brownie for dessert. During our meal, he decided he didn’t want the brownie because everything was so rich, so we asked if he could switch to apple slices, and she was nice about making this change. Two table service credits later and a $9.00 tip, and we were out of there.

    It was much hotter than we are used to, and we were getting tired, plus I am not feeling well (got a cold just before we left, and I really had trouble sleeping last night due to coughing), so we decided to head out soon. We decided to do Mission Space: Mars (green side) and Spaceship Earth. We also checked out MouseGears.

    We walked up to the bus stop and a bus arrived (what a huge relief that was). We got back to the hotel around 5:00, and we decided to rest for a bit. Then we went down to the pool, and Ben swam, and I relaxed for a while. Around 7:30 we grabbed dinner at the resort, and then he played in the game room for a while.

    Showers, journaling, Facebooking, and trip reporting, and then bed time…

    Final thoughts: I wish I had the energy for more of the World Showcase, but it’s smarter in the long run, I think (and hope) to take it a bit easier today, try to feel better, and go back another day. I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful son, and that I got to spend the day with him at EPCOT on Mother’s Day.

  19. #18
    Monday, May 14

    The Plan: Disney Hollywood Studios – Hopefully we can see Fantasmic, and try the rides I’ve never been on (Rock ‘n Roll Rollercoaster, Toy Story Mania, The Great Movie Ride). I also want to see some of the shows. I also want to be able to go on the new Star Tours. If Ben really wants to, we’ll try to do Tower of Terror, but that ride is not my favorite, and we’ve been on it before – I would rather spend our precious time here doing things we can’t do at Disneyland. Lunch ADRs at Sci-Fi Diner at 1:50 and dinner ADRs at 50’s Prime Time Caf at 7:15.

    Actual: We woke up at 7:30 to Mickey again. Ben went back to sleep for a little bit, but we still got on a bus around 8:15, grabbing a couple of muffins, using snack credits, to eat when we got hungry. We waited in line until park opening, and then walked back to Toy Story Midway Mania. I loved it! Ben scored better than me (56,500 to 47,200). This was one of my favorite rides of the whole trip. I can see why there are long lines here.

    Next we did Rock n’ Roller Coaster, with about a 10 minute wait. I am not a fan of this ride. It is too fast for me. I kept my eyes closed. Ben enjoyed it a lot more than me. We then made our way over to Tower of Terror, where we waited for 10 minutes or so. When we got to the elevators Ben chickened out. This surprised me because he has been on it before. I’m not sure what spooked him. I asked him if he was sure he didn’t want to ride, and that we wouldn’t come back and do it later if we didn’t do it now, and he still didn’t want to do it. This was fine with me, because I don’t like the free falling feeling of this ride. I will do it once a trip, but that is enough for me.

    We walked onto The Great Movie Ride next. We had a screaming kid right behind us. He didn’t want to go onto the ride, but his parents made him. He, of course, was scared during much of the ride. Poor kid (stupid parents). Who has fun when that kind of thing happens? No one, that’s who (not even the strangers around you…).

    We then saw the Voyage of the little Mermaid with a 10 minute wait. Ben was very skeptical about this, but he agreed to see it with me, and he loved it. He said this was now his favorite show of the trip, “easily!” We made our way over to the Studio Backlot Tour which had a 20 minute wait. We both enjoyed this quite a bit. We walked down New York Avenue toward Star Tours, and I bought a water at a cart. Ben said he was hungry and asked if he could have a pretzel, so I asked the cast member if we could get a pretzel too, and charge a snack credit. She said “I can do one better than that; it’s on Mickey today.” What a wonderful surprise. We were definitely feeling the magic by now…

    We next rode Star Tours with about a 20 minute wait. This was quite fun. I’m not sure where we went or who all of the characters (I know, sacrilege, right?), but it sure was fun. I do know that on our last ride, Darth Vader tried to stop us… See, I’m not a total Star Wars idiot! Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular was just about to start, so we booked over there, and walked just after it started. We missed just the set up for the first stunt. Ben wasn’t sure about this show either, but he loved it. I told him that I know what I’m talking about (I read MousePlanet, for Heaven’s sake), so he should start trusting me. He agreed.

    We then walked over to check in for our ADRs at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. I ordered the steak and a strawberry milkshake for my drink (which I gave to Ben) and the cheesecake for dessert and Ben had chicken nuggets with fries and apple slices for dessert. The food was okay, our server was great, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Overall, I enjoyed the meal, and I would definitely go again. We “saved” $48.63 by using 2 table service credits. I left $10 for the tip.

    We decided to head over to Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, but we walked by Toy Story Midway Mania and saw that there was a 30 minute wait, so we got in line. For the second time today, when we got near the front, because we were a party of 2, we were put into the FP line, so our wait on both rides was a bit shorter than the listed wait time. This time through, we both scored better (I got 56,200 and Ben got 72,100).

    Then we walked through the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream exhibit, and we watched the movie. Ben and I both enjoyed this very much. It was getting close to the time for the last showing of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, so we made our way over to that. We got a nice seat near the front. This was very fun to watch. I really love how much they do to explain how they do things. Ben loved it too!

    As we were walking out it looked liked it was about to start to rain. I wanted to see the Muppets, but Ben suggested we see if we can ride Star Tours again. The wait was short, so we got in line. Again, I don’t know where we went or who we saw. After the ride, Ben bought a make your own light saber. He had fun doing this. Later in the week, we were in another park, and he found a bottom piece that he liked better, so he went to buy it, and the cast member just gave it to him. That was nice.

    By now it was raining pretty hard. We walked out of there, and I said something about loving the rain, because we are from Seattle, and a little girl who also was not wearing a poncho said that she was from Seattle too. I said that us Seattle people are tough and we don’t need ponchos, and she agreed. I loved it every time it rained. I also love it every time when I come home on an airplane and it’s raining when we land. It just feels so good to me. I guess that just goes to show that I live in the right city… Anyway, next we decided to go watch the Muppets. I love this show. I think it’s the same one as in Disneyland, but it’s cute and fun.

    Next we made our way over to the Animation building. We went into a show where the cast member talked about how they came up with the character Mushu from Mulan. Our dinner reservations were at the 50’s Prime Time Caf. I had the Mom’s favorite trio with hot tea and apple cobbler. Ben had the grilled fish (salmon) with a salad and a sundae. He had cranberry juice mixed with sprite to drink (I ordered this on the plane, and he’s been drinking it ever since). The meal came to $41.50. We paid with 2 table service credits, and I left an $8.00 tip. I have to say that this meal was a big disappointment. It wasn’t fun, the food wasn’t that good, and to top it off, they gave Ben an adult menu, despite the fact that they asked at the counter to see my Dining Plan Card and noting that it was for one adult and one child. I didn’t notice as we were walking back. Well, of course, he found something on the adult menu that he wanted, and then was told he couldn’t get it. This was their mistake.

    We tried to get on Toy Story again several times during the evening, including right after our dinner, but line never went down. We rode Star Tours again, and this time Darth Vader was the one who tried to stop us. I still don’t know where we went or anything else, except that it was fun. Ben noticed after our second ride that it was different every time. He liked that. I liked that he noticed. We also rode The Great Movie Ride for a second time after dinner.

    We then made our way toward Fantasmic to get in line for the 10:30 show. I bought one of the light spinning things for Ben before the show. We enjoyed the show. After the show, we tried to get on Toy Story again, but the line was still at 50 minutes. We walked out to the busses and went back to the hotel on a standing room only bus (and we were part of the standing group). We were in bed by midnight.

    Final thoughts: The food is not too good at Hollywood Studios, but I did enjoy eating at Sci-Fi. I absolutely loved Toy Story. I think this is one of Disney’s best rides. I wonder what Walt would think about it. I think he would love it. I wish we would have been able to fit in Beauty and the Beast.

    Tuesday, May 15

    The Plan: Magic Kingdom, boat to Wilderness Lodge for ADRs at Whispering Canyon Caf for 5:00. We will tour before our meal, and when we need a break head for Wilderness Lodge to relax for a bit and explore. If we feel up to it, after our dinner, head back for the Main Street Electrical Parade (I love this parade) and Wishes.

    Actual: We had a little less enthusiasm for waking up today (I’m sure due to our late night), but we still got up at 7:30. We were on a bus to MK by 8:30. We headed toward Space Mountain when we got into the park. We rode after about a 10 minute wait. Next Buzz Lightyear - I did terrible, but Ben did pretty well. I can’t remember our scores. We decided to ride People Mover next, and then Ben rode the Tommorwland Speedway next. I waited in line with him, and then I walked out, and took a couple of pictures of him from the bridge.

    From there we decided to make our way into Fantasyland, and rode the Mad Tea Party. He did a pretty good job spinning the tea cup (I never spin it, because I don’t want to get too dizzy, but I was dizzy when we got out). We got a raspberry lemonade slushy from a stand just outside of Mad Tea Party (using one snack credit), and shared that. We then picked up Fastpasses for Peter Pan, and while we were waiting for them, we rode It’s a Small World and saw Mickey’s Philharmagic (I totally loved this), basically walk-ons.

    We rode Peter Pan after this, but then Fantasyland was crowded, so we decided to head over to The Haunted Mansion. We walked onto this, as well, after walking through the interactive queue area. We got a quick bite to eat at the Columbia Harbor House (we shared a fried shrimp plate using one quick service).

    We then headed to Splash Mountain, and picked up Fastpasses. We used our time between now and our FP window to go to Tom Sawyer Island and Ben played around for a while, and I sat in one of the rocking chairs. The heat is really getting to me, but in addition to that, I broke my ankle a little over two years ago. It was a severe break, and I still have pain when I use it a lot. By now, my ankle was feeling very overused. The break at Tom Sawyer’s Island was exactly what I needed, and Ben had fun too.

    We then used out Fastpasses for Splash (and we got soaked – it was awesome, because it was very hot today, and this was also what I needed). We purchased the digital picture after the ride. Then we walked over to see what the wait was for Pirates, and it said 10 minutes so we got in line. It was pretty accurate. We then enjoyed the Enchanted Tiki Room show. We were hot, and decided to try to get something to help us cool off, so we found the Sunshine Tree Terrace and got a Citrus Swirl (just what we needed).

    Ben then rode The Magic Carpets of Aladdin after about a 10 minute wait. We had 5:00 ADRs at the Whispering Canyon Caf, so we started heading down Mainstreet, shopping in the stores, and watching the tail end of the parade. We sat on a bench at the front of the park for a little bit, and then the Dapper Dans showed up for a performance. That was fun. I hadn’t seen that before, and I really enjoyed it.

    We took the boat over to the Wilderness Lodge, and explored that for a while, while we were waiting for our ADRs. That was fun, and the meal was great. I had the skillet meal with a Berry Smoothie, and Bread Pudding for dessert. Ben had the meat macaroni, carrots, and apple slices for dessert. I was waffling between the Bread Pudding and the ‘Smores for dessert, because I thought Ben would really enjoy the ‘Smores. I asked our waitress, and she said we could have both. That was nice, and he LOVED the ‘Smores. It all came to $67.99. I left a $13.00 tip. It was definitely our best all-around meal of the trip so far.

    We took the boat back to MK, and found our bus back to ASSR. We were on the bus with one other family, and they had a son very close to Ben’s age. It started to rain pretty hard while we were on the bus. We talked to them all the way back, and then we learned they are in the room next to us. The boys played some more. The family is from Brazil, and the boy doesn’t speak a lot of English, but the two of them are still finding a way to communicate. I’m glad Ben has found a friend. Ben and I went for a swim around 9:00. We are just about ready to sleep at 10:30. We decided to sleep in tomorrow.

    Final thoughts: I’m tired, but we are still having fun. I loved our meal at Whispering Canyon Caf. Our travel agent, Mary Kraemer, recommended it, and I’m so glad she did. It’s nice that Ben has made a friend. Splash Mountain is still one of my all-time favorite rides.

  20. #19
    Wednesday, May 16

    The Plan: Magic Kingdom – See what we missed and repeat favorites. I definitely want to see Mickey’s Philharmagic, because I’ve never seen that.

    Actual: I woke up at 8:37. I quietly got ready and then got online to check my email and do a little bit of work. Ben woke up around 9:00. Yesterday, I learned that Ben’s new friend didn’t know anything about pin trading, so I chose a few of my pins that I could live without, and Ben had an extra lanyard, so we put them in a zip lock bag, with a short note, and hung it on their door handle on our way out. We left the room around 9:20, and arrived at MK a little after 10:00.

    We got FPs for Pooh, and then rode Snow White with about a 20 minute wait. We still had a little bit of a wait for Pooh, so we walked on to It’s a Small World. After Pooh, we went into Tomorrowland where Ben rode the Tomorrowland Speedway again (this time I didn’t wait in line with him, instead I went to the stands and waited until he was in a car, and then I walked over to the bridge to take a picture), and then we rode the Stitch ride, which was fun. I have only been on this many years ago when it was the Alien Encounter (or whatever it was called). I like the Stitch version much better.

    We bought some more postcards and Ben bought some mouse ears and a set of pins and we had our purchases sent to the resort (what a great service!!!). Then we went into the Laugh Floor. That was really fun. We still hadn’t been on the Jungle Cruise so we headed over to Adventureland for that.

    We decided to head back to the resort for a rest. We rested for a little while, and then we went to the video arcade with the boy we met on the bus yesterday. They played for about an hour. Ben had a tough decision tonight – to hang out at the resort with his new friend or to go back to MK for the parade and fireworks. We tried inviting his friend to come with us, but they weren’t planning to go to any parks today. We ended up having dinner with his new friend, and then we went to MK.

    We made friends on the bus with a 12 year old girl and her mom. They told us all about a new game that MK is doing called Sorcerer’s Apprentice. They told us how the game is played and encouraged us to play. We followed them to the Firehouse to pick up our cards. We got one pack for each of us. No duplicates, but our new friends got two duplicates so they gave them to us. How sweet people can be!!! We defeated Cruella D’Ville on Main Street and then found a place to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade. It rained throughout the parade, but it was a bit cooler because of the rain, which was great for me.

    We decided to try to ride a ride before the fireworks, so we headed into Tomorrowland, and found that there was a 5 minute wait for Buzz, so we got in line, and walked right onto a car. I decided not to play the game, and instead just watch the ride. That was fun. We finished, and then walked back toward the castle and saw the end of The Magic, The Memories, and You. Then we watched Wishes – I loved it!!! We walked out with a big crowd and got on the second bus (which actually blocked in the first bus, so we got back before the people who were in line in front of us). We went straight to bed and fell to sleep with no trouble.

    Final Thoughts: My highlight today was Wishes! I'm glad Ben decided he wanted to go back into the park. I am also so thankful for the rain! This was our last scheduled MK day, but because of the Sorcerer's Apprentice game, I think we will go back a few more times. We had a lot of fun playing!

    Thursday, May 17

    The Plan: Originally, our plan was to go to Epcot, but then we thought about going to Islands of Adventure to see Harry Potter this day, and moving our Epcot day to Sunday. Then yesterday, we decided that it sounded better to stay on the Disney property and do another park again. When we went back to MK last night to see the fireworks, we learned about the Sorcerer’s Apprentice game, and that sold us on MK for today again. We had a lot of fun playing the game.

    Actual: We started playing the Sorcerer’s Apprentice game yesterday, so we picked up some new cards today when we arrived. We went back to our last clue to make sure we knew where we needed to go, and then we took the Disney Railroad to Frontierland. We picked up FPs for Splash, and then did our Frontierland clues.

    Then we saw the Hall of Presidents. I bought a couple of Christmas ornaments (this is a collection my family has – an ornament from all of our vacations since my son was born). We went back and used our FPs for Splash, and then I had to take a work call. We got a second set of FPs and then went into Adventureland for our next set of clues.

    We grabbed lunch while we were working these clues (I had a turkey leg, and Ben had a corndog, using a quick service meal for the turkey leg, and paying cash for the corndog). We found a bench on the boardwalk in Frontierland to eat our lunch. It was nice and relaxing. We went back into Adventureland and finished the clues. We defeated Scar – so there!

    Then we saw Country Bear Jamboree, and went back and used our FPs for Splash. We got immediately onto the Disneyland Railroad for a ride to Fantasyland. We got in line for Goofy’s Barnstormer Rollercoaster. That was pretty fun. We were hot, so we decided to skip doing the next set of clues in Fantasyland. The parade was just ending, so we grabbed a Raspberry Lemonade Slushie (it was so hot that we got one for each of us) – YUM! We sat for a minute to try to avoid the parade crowd.

    When we started walking out we got into a little of the parade traffic, but it wasn’t too bad. We relaxed for a little while in the room, and I iced my ankle. We then went down to the pool, and I read and Ben swam. We had dinner at the resort (2 more quick service meals), and then we came back to the room. Off to bed early tonight, because we have an early morning with 8:05 ADRs at Tusker House.

    Final Thoughts: Today was really relaxing. I really enjoyed the day. We only had plans to play Sorcerer's Apprentice, so all of the rest of the stuff was a bonus! It was a really fun day!

  21. #20
    Friday, May 18

    The Plan: Animal Kingdom, Breakfast ADRs before the park opens at Tusker House at 8:05 and dinner at Yak & Yeti at 5:45. I want to do anything and everything here if we can. Priorities are Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, the Safari, Tree of Life, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Flights of Wonder.

    Actual: We arrived at the park just before 8:00, and made it back to our ADRs for Tusker House a little late. There was a long line there, and it was not very well organized. The biggest disappointment was that we were seated in the back room, and then a bunch of people were seated in the front room after us, and the characters all started in that room. We were finished eating and paying by the time we saw any characters. The food was not that great. I wouldn’t do this again. Our server was nice and when I told her I was disappointed, she did go out and try to get a character to come to our table. I was mostly disappointed because this ended up being our only character meal, and Ben had requested that we do one. He was good natured about it, of course.

    We left there and went over to the Kilimanjaro Safari. We had about a 10 minute wait, but the Safari was wonderful. We saw all kinds of animals: lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinoceros, cheetahs, elephants, alligators, ostrich, flamingos, etc. My camera batteries died during the ride, but I was able to quickly replace them. We then headed over to Expedition Everest and rode that with about a 10 minute wait. I loved this ride. In my humble opinion, this is Disney’s best rollercoaster. It’s not too fast or too scary, but has just enough of both to make it really fun.

    We then rode Dinosaur, which was okay, but I would skip this next trip, followed by Primeval Whirl, which I thought was boring and jerky, and I wouldn’t do this one either. I didn’t like Dinosaur land much – I think the carnival games are a rip off too. We then went to see Finding Nemo, which I loved. This is basically a shorter version of a Broadway show. It was wonderful. The costumes are amazing.

    Ben found a mug that he wanted to buy for his dad just outside of Nemo. It’s one of the “mine, mine, mine” mugs. We had it sent to the resort. Next we went to get Fastpasses for Kali River Rapids, and then we walked the Maharaja Trail. We saw a couple of the tigers walking around which made me happy, because I love tigers. We also saw the Komodo dragon, bats, some kind of gazelle, and some really beautiful birds.

    Then we got ice cream treats – I got a frozen banana and Ben got a Hagen Daz bar, and learned that we could bring them into the Flights of Wonder show, which we did. This show was wonderful too. It was funny and educational. How could you ask for anything more? We then used our FPs for Kali, and we got soaked, but I really enjoyed this ride.

    After that, we went back to the Safari and grabbed a set of FPs. We then took the train ride out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and explored out there. It rained a bit while we were out there, which was nice. We came back to the main park area and walked around on the Pangani Forest Trail, where we saw gorillas, meerkats, lizards, and frogs. Then we rode the Safari again, and again my camera batteries died. This time I didn’t have a replacement set, so I didn’t get any pictures of the elephants who were more active on this ride. Bummer and lesson learned…

    We then headed toward Camp Mickey to see The Festival of the Lion King. We caught the tail end of the parade while we made our way there. We were a bit hungry from not having any lunch so we got a parfait in Pizzafari and ate that. Then we went to the theater and got there in plenty of time to get a great seat. We were in the Lion section, which was great. I loved this show too. I don’t think I can pick a favorite show at this park – I loved all three. Animal Kingdom has the three best shows in all of the parks, in my opinion.

    Next we made our way toward the Tree of Life, so we could get some pictures of that. Then we saw It’s Tough to be a Bug. I’m not too squeamish when it comes to bugs, but I am not too much of a fan of this show. It was getting close to our ADRs for Yak & Yeti, so we made our way there. We got there about 5:30, so we decided to see if we could get one more ride on EE, which we were able to do. It was a walk on. Perfect. We made it to Yak & Yeti just in time for our ADRs.

    We had a great server who was helpful and very attentive. We had daiquiris (virgin) for our beverages. We decided to order an appetizer of potstickers – these were very good. For dinner, I ordered the ribs and Ben got chicken strips. We both enjoyed our food tremendously. For dessert I had the Mango Pie which I’ve seen recommended on here several times – thank you for that!!!! It was the best thing I ate the entire trip!!! Ben had a sundae. When we were settled up ($55.34 which was covered by 2 table service credits, $9.58 for the potstickers, and a $13.00 tip), we slowly made our way out of the park all by ourselves, and caught a bus to the resort.

    When we got back to ASSR, Ben played with his friend at the pool, and I sat there and read while they swam. His friend’s dad came down after a while, and we visited a bit more, and at 8:30, we called it a night.

    Final Thoughts: This was my favorite day of the whole trip (and Ben’s too). I loved Animal Kingdom. I love that it is a park that you can pretty much see in a day, and the variety of things that are offered was wonderful. And then top that all off with a beautiful setting, and you have the makings for a perfect day (despite Tusker House).

    Saturday, May 19

    The Plan: Explore some of the other resorts, including breakfast ADRs at Boma at 10:45 and dinner ADRs at ‘Ohana at 5:00, swim at the pools, laundry, pack up, and relax.

    Actual: I got up a little early, and did the laundry. Ben’s friend from Brazil was leaving today, and Ben was hoping to be able to play with him. They had a “do not disturb” sign on their door, so we eventually wrote a postcard for them with our address. I also attached my business card with an extra pin that we had, and we left it for them. When we were leaving for our breakfast ADRs they came out, and the boys were able to say goodbye.

    We stayed a little too late waiting to say goodbye to Ben’s friend to allow the use of buses to get to Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we took a taxi over there ($10, including tip). We arrived for our ADRs in good time, and were seated right away. We had a nice breakfast, settled the bill ($31.93, covered by 2 table service credits and a $6.00 tip) and then decided to explore the lodge a bit. We walked around on the first floor, and saw a few animals, then we went to the second floor and saw a few more.

    In addition, there were some cast members (3 were in training) who were doing an activity, and they invited Ben to do it with them. They had a stuffed Mickey with a tracking devise and a tracker. One cast member hid the Mickey and then had Ben track it down. They did this with him a couple of times, and the last time, she hid the Mickey behind her back in her belt. He struggled with this for a while, and then it finally dawned on him that she must have it. That was fun. I chatted with one of the trainees while they were doing this. He was from South Africa, and he told me about the college program that he was in. When we were done, they gave us both a piece of rope with a bead on it. That was really sweet.

    We then went inside the building and walked down the hall to see more of the Savannah and we saw a number of giraffes. This was really fun. We shopped for a bit in one of the stores after this. I tried on a few watches, and Ben did too. We only ended up buying a carved giraffe for my husband and a couple of pins.

    We took a bus to AK, and then caught a bus to ASSR from there, and we were back in plenty of time to swim for a bit before having to head out for our dinner ADRs at ‘Ohana. We got ready to head back out around 3:00, and took a bus to MK where we caught the Monorail to the Polynesian. We got there by 4:00, and walked around in the shops and then got in line to check in for our dinner ADRs for 5:00.

    Dinner was fun, and the food was good. I didn’t like our server though. It was very obvious that he was catering to the larger tables for bigger tips. I had ice tea and water to drink, and both of my glasses were empty twice during the evening. The total for the meal was $52.17 which we paid for with 2 table service (all gone now) and I left $10.00 for the tip.

    We then went back to MK, and we decided to go into the park to defeat another villain. We had longer lines with Sorcerer’s Apprentice tonight, but we were able to do some card trading too. We picked up FPs for Peter Pan, but we didn’t end up using them, because we tired out pretty quickly and decided to head “home”. Tomorrow we would move to the conference hotel.

    Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed exploring the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I would love to stay here sometime. I liked the Polynesian too, but not as well as AKL. It is sad that we are moving tomorrow, but I’m glad that we are just moving hotels and not going home.

  22. #21

    Wow you and Ben packed a lot in! Is sounds like you had a tremendous visit and all your planning paid off, I'm so pleased for you Are you able to explain a bit more about the sorcerers apprentice game? I've never heard if that and I'm not too sure what is involved.

    Sorry about your Tusker House breakfast. We had a bad lunch there once where the service was poor.

    Looking forward to the last part.


    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  23. #22

    Thanks Scooby! Sure, I'll try!

    The Sorcerer's Apprentice game: First you need to get a map, a "key", and a set of spell cards at the firestation (they have a help wanted sign up there, to advertise the game). You can get one set of spell cards for each person, each day you enter the park, and each set has 5 cards. We heard that there are a total of 70 spell cards, but the cards from 61-70 are extremely difficult to get. Once you pick up your first set, they will tell you where to find your first clue. Each key card has a different experience. Our first clue was in the train station. So then you need to go to that location and find the portal. There is a round metal circle with the symbol on the ground in front of the portal, but some are not easy to find. Then you hold your key card up to the key hole, and it activates the video, sometimes curtains open, or something like that to reveal the picture. Then you listen to the video, and at somepoint it tells you to cast your spell, at which time you hold up one of your spell cards, which ususally just does some damage to the villain. When you defeat your villain, you hold up your spell card with the back exposed (the Sorcerer's crest). And then you are given the location of your next clue. We had a lot of fun playing it, and trading cards with other players.

    Hopefully, I'll get the rest uploaded today. I have most of it written, I just need to finish one of the days and review it.

  24. #23
    Sunday, May 20

    The Plan: This ended up being an Epcot day when we decided to make Thursday our open day. We also needed to move to the conference hotel. We decided to sleep in until we woke up, move to the new hotel, and then go to Epcot. Our goal was to stay and watch Illuminations. We also wanted to visit all of the countries in the World Showcase.

    Actual: I got up a little early and did one more load of laundry. While I was waiting for my laundry I walked up to the gift shop and got four bags of candy to use up our remaining snack credits. When the laundry was done I went back to the room, where I finished packing everything up, and when Ben woke up around 10, we headed down to the lobby with our luggage. We got a cab and took it to the Hilton. I paid $21 with tip (work will pay this).

    Luckily they even had a room for us, so we didn’t have to leave our luggage with the bell staff. We came up to our room, and it smelled like whiskey. I called down to the front desk, and they said it would take 10 minutes before they could figure out whether they could move us, and we wanted to catch the 11:00 bus to Epcot, so I asked if they could do something to try to eliminate the smell while we were out. They said they would.

    So we caught the 11:00 bus to Epcot, and arrived around 11:30. We could tell by the gate, that today was going to be more crowded than the previous Sunday. We got into the park, and went straight to Innoventions to see if we could do Sum of all Thrills. It was a 50 minute wait, so we decided to skip it. We went outside and got on Ellen’s Energy Adventure with only a short wait. This was fun, and when we got out we checked and the line for Sum of All Thrills was down to 30 minutes, so we got in line. Ben wanted to build a crazy rollercoaster, so I decided to sit this one out. I took some pictures of him building his rollercoaster and then took the chicken way out…

    We were hungry by now, and decided to make our way into the World Showcase. Since we had been to Canada and UK last weekend, we decided to start in Mexico, and have lunch there. We used two more quick service credits to get tacos for me and the kids meal (I think it was a quesadilla) for Ben. We rode the Three Caballeros, and explored Mexico a bit. Ben got his passport stamped.

    Next stop, Norway, where we rode Maelstrom with about a 30 minute wait, although it showed as a 20 minute wait. I wanted to get rice pudding here based on recommendations from some of you, but I wasn’t hungry, and I didn’t feel like carrying anything. Ben got his passport stamped and we walked around in the shops.

    In China, we arrived just as a show of acrobats was starting. Ben watched it for a while, while I sat on a bench in the shade resting my ankle. We decided not to see Reflections of China, because my ankle was pretty sore, and I didn’t want to stand on it for that long (standing was a lot more painful than walking). We again explored the shops and got Ben’s passport stamped. I really like the buildings and the garden in this pavilion. I took some pictures while I was resting in the shade.

    We stopped in the Haiti garden and got a mango slushy (it was refreshing). The garden was lovely. I enjoyed our rest here. We walked through the Germany Pavilion, and Ben got his passport stamped. The bakery smelled so good when we went in there, but we didn’t make it back. In Italy, Ben got his passport stamped again. He picked up a Duffy Bear to color in Germany, and colored for a bit here. I sat at a table in the shade and drank some ice water. When we were leaving there was no one getting their passport stamped so I asked the CMs if I could take his picture with them.

    When we got to The American Adventure, we saw the line to see The Monkees, staring Mickey Dolenz, and thought about joining it, but we decided to skip it. We went into the American Adventure Show, and after about 10 minutes they let us into the theater. When we got out, there was about 10 minutes to go before The Monkees concert would start. We walked over there and I asked a CM if there were any more seats. There was a section in the back that she walked over to ask if they were saving the seats, and they made room for us. The seats were okay, but it was fun to hear the music. I loved The Monkees when I was a kid, and Mickey was my favorite. After the concert, we went over to get Ben’s passport stamped. While he was coloring his Duffy, I walked around in the Toy Story Alphabet garden. I’m so impressed with how they do all of the gardens at Epcot!

    Next we went into the Japan Pavilion. Ben got his passport stamped, and while he was coloring, I found a restroom. When I got there there was a lot of activity at the stream through Japan. It turns out that a baby duck got separated from its mother. Several CMs were trying to rescue it, but a guest was the one who was able to rescue it, and return it to its mom. When I got back to where Ben was, we decided to walk through the shops in Japan. Ben especially liked watching them opening the oysters to find the pearls. That was fun. The CM was great! I was hoping to see the Miyuki Show, but no luck…

    We then made our way to the Morocco Pavilion. We found the passport spot, but we didn’t have Ben’s passport. He had left his passport in Japan, so we worked our way back there, and they had it there for him. So, back to Morocco… He got his passport stamped, but we decided to skip the coloring at the rest of the countries, so we could finish that before Illuminations. We walked through the shops after we got his passport stamped.

    Next stop, France, where we got Ben’s passport stamped and walked through the shops. We then made our way to Guest Relations just outside the park, because we wanted to add one more day to our Magic Your Way tickets. The CM that helped us was sort of rude, but we got what we wanted.

    Back in the park, and we headed toward UK again. We decided to get some Fish and Chips to share, and used our last counter service credit. We found a bench right on the water to sit and eat it. We decided to keep this spot for Illuminations, so I gave Ben some good markers to look for and he went to UK to get his passport stamped, and then he came back. He felt confident enough to go to Canada too. No problems.

    At one point, I left him on the bench to use the restroom, and I bought him some light up Mickey Ears. I helped him put the stickers into his passport book, and we talked to the people around us while we were waiting for Illuminations, and soon enough, it started. We really enjoyed the show. We exited the park through the back entrance and took the boat over to the Boardwalk. We walked around there for a little while, and then caught a taxi back to our hotel. When we got back to the room, we unpacked a little, and settled down for the night. Tomorrow, I start the conference.

    Final Thoughts: We had fun getting Ben’s passport stamped in all of the countries. That will be a nice keepsake for him. It was more crowded at Epcot than I was hoping, but we were able to do most everything we wanted to do. I’m starting to feel ready to head home.

    Monday, May 21

    The Plan: Conference attendance, but I purchased 9 day park passes, in case we can sneak away (or even just go back to one of the parks for the evening). Ben will hang out in the room working on homework, reading, playing on the Kindle, and playing Nintendo DS while I’m in the conference. The sessions are 1 hours each, and I can go back and check in on him between every session. I will have my cell phone as well, in case he needs to reach me.

    Actual: I got up at 7:30, and headed down to registration and to have breakfast. I checked my email, and reviewed my presentation for the afternoon. The first session was at 9:00. I went to that, and when it was over I went back to the room to check on Ben. He was watching TV and he was hungry. He didn’t feel like eating the granola bars in the room. I was kind of hungry too, because I didn’t have much for breakfast, so I took him downstairs and we got the breakfast buffet at the hotel. It was pretty good.

    I skipped the next session, because there wasn’t anything that I was too interested in, so I went back to the room with him. We listened to one of the Harry Potter disks while he read along, and I worked. I skipped lunch too, because I wasn’t very hungry after eating a second breakfast. I found my colleagues and asked if they were planning anything for dinner. No one had planned anything. I suggested we go to the Benihana in the hotel, because I’ve been wanting to take Ben to that. They thought that sounded good, so I made a reservation for the 6 of us.

    My session was at 1:30. I asked Ben to do two pages of homework and 2 postcards while I was gone, and if he did that, I would take him swimming before dinner. My presentation went well, and I got back to the room, and Ben had done his work. I suggested that we go to Downtown Disney now, and swim after dinner. He agreed, so we walked over to Downtown Disney and did some shopping.

    I bought him the shirt we saw at Animal Kingdom in the right size (they didn’t have the right size at AK), so I bought that for him as a surprise. I also got a couple of pins and one more Christmas ornament, and a small purse for myself. We had a nice time. We got back to the room, and relaxed for a short while, and then went down to dinner. Benihana was fun. We had a fun cook, and we enjoyed spending time with my colleagues. After dinner we both swam. We got back to the room by 9:00, showered, and I read a bit before lights out.

    Final Thoughts: I liked walking around in Downtown Disney better than I thought I would. I’m having a really nice time with Ben. I’m so proud of him. I’m also starting to look forward to going home.

    Tuesday, May 22

    The Plan: Same plan as yesterday.

    Actual: I had a hard time sleeping because of my cough, so I was up for 2 hours in the middle of the night. I then slept until 8:30. My conference started at 9:00. Luckily, I had taken a shower at night, so I quickly got dressed, and headed down to grab a quick bite to eat and get into the first session. I sat with my colleagues in the session, and then headed back to the room when it was over. I needed to do some work during the second session and nothing really appealed to me anyway, so I worked, and Ben read Harry Potter while listening to the CD.

    At 1:30, I attended another session, and when it was over I headed back to the room to get ready to head to Magic Kingdom. We still want to finish our Sorcerer’s Apprentice tasks. I worked on packing up, and I had to take a work call before we left, and by the time we got down to the bus, we had apparently missed the Magic Kingdom bus. We asked the driver for the Epcot bus, and he confirmed that we had missed it, but he suggested going with him and taking the monorail to MK, so we hopped on. Well this turned out to be a big mistake, because when we got to Epcot we learned that the monorail was down. So we walked back out to the buses. The bus for the TTC was very crowded, so we hopped on the closest resort bus thinking we could go to a resort and catch a bus to the MK. We caught a bus to Coronado Springs, but the MK bus that we caught when we got there was crowded and it took a long time to load/unload at four stops, and finally make it to MK. We would have been better off waiting 30 minutes at the hotel for the next MK bus (lesson learned).

    By the time we got there it was 5:00, and we were both hungry. We then could not agree on where to eat. We made our way into Tomorrowland, and realized we hadn’t done The Carousel of Progress, so we jumped on that. Ben really enjoyed this, which was great. Then we finally agreed to eat at Cosmic Ray’s. He got a hotdog, and I got the half chicken and ribs combo. Work will pay for my meal, but it was a bummer to have to pay out of pocket for Ben’s meal. I definitely got used to the dining plan.

    Then we walked through Fantasyland to try to get to Frontierland where we needed to pick up our Sorcerer’s Apprentice game. We went into It’s a Small World, because I wanted to get out of the crowd when I saw a mom totally lose it with her kid. We then got into Frontierland, and we quickly defeated one of our villains, then we got assigned a villain in Fantasyland, and then two in Adventureland, and by 9:00 we were finished with all of the villains. We also found more people to trade cards with tonight, and there were a couple of people who had set up tables at one of the portals who were giving away some cards. We really only want one full set if we can get it, but it was nice talking to these folks. One guy helped us make a trade with someone else, and then traded one of his cards to get us another card we were missing. We are missing 14 cards in the 1-60 set, and we learned that the 61-70 cards are very very very difficult to get, and you might only have gotten them if you started collecting in February. I guess that these cards are selling on line for over $100 each. No thank you. If we can get 1-60, I will be very happy, and even if we don’t we had a lot of fun playing the game, and we came very close to getting a full set just by playing in the park for a week.

    Anyway, when we finished, we decided to head out for the night. We stopped in The Emporium to buy a book, because Ben has a book report due on Friday. Luckily the book is a fairy tale this time, so we bought a book of stories, and he will read one tomorrow, and we can start the report on the plane. We took a bus to Saratoga Springs, and then immediately caught a bus to Downtown Disney from the stop where you can walk to DTD, and then we walked over to the conference hotel. Back in the room, we both took showers, and we packed up a bunch of things. I iced my ankle and read a chapter of Mockingjay, and Ben fell asleep.

    Final Thoughts: We have really enjoyed playing the Sorcerer’s Apprentice game. I wonder who thought up this game, and how they figured out how to do it. I wish I was this creative.

    Wednesday, May 23

    The Plan: Conference attendance, and then fly home. :-(

    Actual: My presentation was during the 9:00 session. The presentation went well, and I headed back to the room. Ben had just woken up. I finished packing up while he got dressed, and we left the room around 10:30. First we took our luggage to bell services, then we checked out, then we said goodbye to the conference organizers, and then we made reservations on a shuttle for our return trip to the airport, then we headed to the buses to go to the Magic Kingdom one final time. Our hotel shuttle is definitely not nearly as good as the resort transportation. This has been frustrating. We didn’t get to MK until almost noon. We needed to be back at the hotel by 3:00.

    We went and picked up our final sets of spell cards, and the bonus pack for defeating all 9 villains. We were hungry so we went to Tortuga Tavern to get a quick lunch. When we were there we decided that we would each pick one more ride to do. Ben was waffling between the People Mover and Stitch’s Great Escape. I said that let’s just do both of those, because I probably would have picked one of those anyway. So we headed to Tomorrowland – we rode the People Mover first after about a 10 minute wait and then we walked into Stitch’s Great Escape.

    We stopped and got some pictures on our Photopass on the way out. We then caught the monorail to the TTC, but by the time we got there we had missed our bus, so we caught a taxi back to the hotel. This wasn’t what I wanted to spend my money on, but oh well. I’m excited to be going home by now. We got back to the hotel in plenty of time, and on the way back I realized that I don’t remember packing my bracelet that Ben got me for mother’s day. We asked at the desk, and since our room hadn’t been cleaned yet, they gave us a key to go back and check. We couldn’t find it, so I’m hoping it’s somewhere in our luggage.

    On the flight home, I was coughing a lot. It was pretty miserable. I finished my book and worked on the trip report. Ben had finished his homework, so he read his story for his book report and wrote some in his journal and played on his DS. He also went to the bathroom A LOT. I think he was just bored, but it was irritating, because I was in the aisle seat. Our flight landed over 30 minutes early, so I called my husband when we landed. He hadn’t left yet, but by the time we made it all the way out and through baggage claim, we sat down on a bench outside and within 2-3 minutes he was pulling up. Yay! It was nice to see him. It was nice to be back in tolerable weather (it rained for me when we were landing).

    Final Thoughts: There’s no place like home. I think we stayed at WDW either the exact right amount of time or maybe one day too long. It wasn’t too short of a trip, which is great.

    Favorite Meal: Yak & Yeti (Both)
    Least Favorite Meal: Tusker House (Betsy); on the plane (Ben)
    Favorite Ride at MK: Splash Mountain (Betsy); Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Ben)
    Favorite Ride at AK: tie between Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safari (Betsy); Expedition Everest (Ben)
    Favorite Ride at DHS: Toy Story Midway Mania (Betsy); Rock n’ Rollercoaster (Ben)
    Favorite Ride at Epcot: Soarin’ (Betsy); World Showcase (Ben)
    Favorite Show: Flights of Wonder (Both)
    Favorite Day: Friday at Animal Kingdom (Both)

    Things I wish we had done:
    • Soarin’ a second and maybe third time
    • Beauty and the Beast
    • Flame Tree Barbeque
    • Kim Possible
    • Impressions de France
    • Some of the other shows in World Showcase (Miyuki, the chair show in France)
    • Strawberry Rice Pudding in Norway

    Thanks for reading my trip report. I hope you enjoyed it. I really enjoy reading all of yours.

  25. #24

    I've posted some of my pictures here if you want to take a peak:

  26. #25

    That was just a wonderful report!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved how you gave details and then some final thoughts on favorites! I am going to have to borrow that

    I also enjoyed reading about the convention and your role as a working mother. Great job!

    PS. The Rice Cream in Norway really is the BEST you have to try it next time

    Formerly tinkinparis



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