Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our Trip to Walt Disney World 2014 - Part One

On September 25, I drove my six offspring to Walt Disney World for an 8-night family vacation. This, mostly, is a copy of the trip report I posted on Fort Fiends is an on-line community of people who love to camp at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground on the Walt Disney World property. Since our trip in 2010, many "fiends" have been hoping and praying that we could return to Disney. This trip report, in part, tells of some of the ways they helped make this trip possible and even better than our last trip.

The title for this thread on is Blessings upon Blessings Trip Report. Here it is:

This trip report is in a large part thanks to the Fiends. Many, many fiends helped make this trip possible. I don’t think any one person knows all the fiends that blessed us this trip. But I am grateful to each and every one of you. I pray that God will bless you for blessing us. The only thing I can do to show my gratitude is to write a Trip Report. So here we go.

Driving down, ears were worn.

We saw wet palm trees! (Also known as foreshadowing!)

We saw the monorail!

Eventually, we saw this:

We checked in at around 3:30pm. There were four empty lanes at check-in, which we took to be a good sign!

Picture taken from vehicle at check-in (note the stone shaped like South Carolina):

I was surprised when we were checking in that another cast member came out to our vehicle to bring us some “mail.” I figured it was something about the Disney Student Seminars. Boy, was I wrong! It was gift cards from some anonymous fiends. What a major blessing!

When I finally stopped crying from the joy of feeling so loved, I drove to our campsite. We had requested 1506, but got 1504 instead. We liked it even better, as it was closer to the comfort station (CS). I thought we might be bothered by the noise of people going in and out the CS, but we never heard anything.

As soon as we opened the camper door, we saw a very big gift bag. It was filled with fun things from the Fiends! There was a kitchen towel and potholder set with Mickey and friends on it. There were water bottles in Mickey bottle carriers (very helpful when the bottle carriers I made started to fail.) There were hair things for my girls and games for my boys. So much more!

Checking out the "swag":

A quick shout out to Curt and Fort Camper Rental. Our camper was great. We were cool and dry all week. He offered us a choice of themes for the blankets and pillowcases. We had said our first choice was Mickey, our second was Avengers, and our third was Mickey and Friends. He used all of them, with things on one side done with Mickey and Friends and the other with Avengers! He also had presents on the bed for the kids. We had one small problem during the week and he came right out and fixed it for us.

Anyway, on with the TR! Shortly after we arrived, Fiends started to visit. First Gretchen stopped by, then Lou. Later, Monte and his wife Dianne came by. Definitely get your Fiend sign. It works!

A fiend bought us a GAG for dinner. Yum! We don’t eat much fried chicken because mine always ends up too greasy. This was just right.

For dessert, we headed over to Bob and Kathy’s site. I knew they were in the 600 loop. So I left my site in the 1500 loop and got on a Yellow Settlement bus. Oops. That won’t take us to the 600 loop. So at the Settlement, we took an orange bus to the 800 & 600 loops bus stop. Um… which way is the 600 loop from the bus stop? I had no idea. We asked a passing looper who told us we needed to get a bus back to the Settlement because the 600 loop was on the Yellow Bus route. Thanks so much. We found a path to the 600 loop and started wandering around. Remember that this is me and my 6 offspring in the dark. At that point, we saw our helpful looper again. He tried to tell us again how to find the 600 loop. I tried to convince him we were in the 600 loop. Why do I bother?

At last, we found the Fiends! I saw Kathy and Bob, Lorna and Richie, Doodle and Mike, Jason and Sil, Cheryl and Jeff, Julia and clan, Brent, Melissa, TJ and Missy, Kelly, and of course, Lou. There were all kinds of goodies to eat, including cake and cupcakes for Kathy’s birthday. I was also told at the party that some fiends had paid my portion of a Memory Maker share, so I could have the photopass photographers take as many pictures as I liked! I was overwhelmed with the generosity of the Fiends!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long at the party. We were planning to make rope drop at Animal Kingdom in the morning, and they were having Extra Magic Hours and opening at 8:00 am. I had made detailed touring plans for all our parks days and getting to the parks before they opened was huge part of that. So, off to bed we went!

The next morning, I got up early to shower and start getting ready for our longest day of touring. At 6:30am, we left the campsite after checking that we all had our MagicBands (most hand decorated by my 19 year old with paint pens).

We headed for the bus stop. It was then I started worrying that they may not be running internal buses in the campground that early. A bus soon arrived, but going the wrong way. We decided to take that bus to Wilderness Lodge and wait there for a bus going to Animal Kingdom. It was a long wait! After 3 buses had come for Disney Hollywood Studios and 4 for the Magic Kingdom, a bus finally arrived going to Animal Kingdom. We and the other disgruntled guests quickly board and were off.

Once at Animal Kingdom, I made my way to Guest Services. I wanted to make sure everything was good with our tickets we had gotten through the Disney Student Seminars program. Also, I had one day left on my 4 day hopper from January which would expire 09/28/14. It was important to our touring that I use that ticket that day so I would still have 3 days left on my Disney Student Seminar ticket. The kids had four day hoppers so everything should work out fine. (Foreshadowing!) The cast member said we were good to go, so we hightailed it to Expedition Everest, downing Sausage Muffins on the way. The plan had been to eat those waiting for rope drop, but because of the bus delay, we had just missed it. I was a little worried, taking everyone on a huge roller coaster right after eating, but thought empty stomachs might be worse.

Pictures taken (I think) on our way to Expedition Everest:

The good news is that everyone’s stomachs did fine.

But my 7yo was terrified.

I have never heard anyone scream that long without pausing for breathe. She declared right then that she was not riding anymore roller coasters. Uh-oh. My touring plan was full of them. More on that as we go along.

My older kids decided to ride again.

From there, we headed to the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride. On the way, we found great viewing spots for the Tree of Life, just as TCD outlined with his purple crayon. The offspring loved finding different animals and pointing them out to each other.

Photopass Photographer photo:

Next we saw a Cast Member from Indonesia who taught us to play on a native instrument called a Angklung. She played Happy Birthday and I played Jingle Bells. Some of the offspring were brave and tried it.

The Safari was great.

My big cat loving 17 year old got to see his first cheetah.

From there, we went on the Pangani Nature Trail. I had wanted to do the Maharajah Trail but Pangani was right there. It was cool when a gorilla came out and banged his chest at everyone. A cast member said he was trying to impress the females across the way. I think he was just trying to impress my 19 year old daughter. ;-)

After that, we went and watched Finding Nemo, the musical. While waiting for the show to start, we had a snack of string cheese. We enjoyed the show.

Before I continue with the next update, a quick explanation of Disneybounding. Some years ago, a young lady named Leslie Kay wanted to combine her love of Disney with her love of fashion. She came up with Disneybounding - "Using items you can find in your own closet or local mall [or thrift store], create looks outside of costumed or cosplay looks, which represent your favorite Disney character, while having fun with fashion."

For our Animal Kingdom day, my 19yo Disneybounded as Robin Hood from the Disney animated movie. She wore Robin Hood type colors with a fox purse and some fox jewelry because in the animated version, Robin is a fox. Here is a picture of her outfit for that day:

I covered that here because this is where in the day she had me snap a picture of her outfit.

After this, we headed out of the park. But wait! There was a Photopass Photographer. Remember that Memory Maker some fiends had paid for? I was determined to get their money's worth.

Here is my 7yo getting posed for a magic shot:

Here is the magic shot:

Here is another Magic Shot:

A Magic Shot with the whole family:

Standard shot of whole family at Animal Kingdom:

As we were leaving AK, I noticed that my 13 year old son did not have a hat on. Turns out he had not brought a hat to Florida. Fiends to the rescue! I pulled out one of the gift cards I had gotten and bought him a hat. He chose a really cool one that you can see in later pictures.

After that, we “hopped” over to Disney Hollywood Studios. More on that in my next post.

Click here for Part Two

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