Sean and Toni

Disney Trip

August 15, 2007 9:25 am

Epcot Center


Thursday, January 4, 2007 

Tina came in last night, and we left the house about 5:45 am.  We drove to Al’s house (he was nice enough to offer his chauffer services), and he drove us to the Houston International airport. 

We got checked in just fine, and as we went through security, Sean and Anna were in one line, and Tina and I were in the other.  Sean was trying to fumble with his things, and after Tina and I got through, we turned around and saw Anna sitting in one of the buckets on the conveyer belt while Sean took his shoes off.  He picked her up and walked through, Anna with a confused look on her face.

We walked to our gate and sat down.  We still had an hour and a half before our boarding time, so Tina and I went to go get breakfast.  We walked around the food area, and I found a nice little breakfast barbecue place.  After I got our food, Tina was still wandering around looking for the perfect meal, so I took the food to Sean.  We were sitting by the gate (I was holding Anna while Sean ate) when all of a sudden, Sean looks past me with a confused face, and says, “Oh my God!”  I turned around and looked, and there’s Mom walking up, and Dad is right behind her with a video camera taping us.  We were so shocked, because they were supposed to be flying out of Austin right at that time, but they had gotten on our flight, in the row right behind us.  They tricked us!  It was funny, because as Mom was walking up, Sean saw her and thought, ‘Wow, that looks a lot like Grace.’  Then he saw Dad and that’s when he expressed his surprise. 

After all the commotion was over, Mom and Dad put their stuff down.  They took Anna and went to the food area to find Tina.  Tina saw Mom and thought, ‘Wow, that looks a lot like Mom.  I think Mom even has that shirt.’  Then she saw Dad and Anna, and she flipped out too!  What a crazy surprise!

The airplane ride went very well.  This was Anna’s first time on a plane.  She slept during take off.  I was worried about her ears, but she didn’t seem to mind at all.  When she woke up, she played with Grandma and Grandpa most of the time.  I know they had a blast with her.  She liked popping her head over the seat to look at people. 

When we landed, we hopped on the Disney Magical Express, which took us directly to our hotel.  We didn’t have to take our checked luggage.  Since we were staying on Disney property, they took our luggage directly to our room for us.  It didn’t get there until a few hours after we checked in, but it sure was convenient not having to haul around the bags. 

We got to our room at the All Star Music resort and got everything unpacked into drawers.  I called the front desk and they had a playpen brought up so that Anna had her own place to sleep.  It even had a fitted sheet for her to sleep on.  We put some toys out and let her play on the floor while we were unloading.  She kept crawling back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  I think she was trying to explore the room, but it was hard because it was so small.  Sean said she was just trying to do some laps.  Whatever she was doing, it looked hilarious. 

After a while, we went to Mom and Dad’s hotel, which was in the next complex over (All Star Sports).  We had a very small lunch and got a mug for $12 that can be refilled at any time for free at any All Star resort.  Margie brought hers from her previous Disney trips.  Then we went over to the Expo.  It wasn’t nearly as cool as the Expo in Austin, but we got a couple cool freebies. 

We went back to Mom and Dad’s hotel and ate dinner and hung out for a bit.  We got back to our hotel and got ready for bed.  After Anna and I got settled, Sean went back to hang out at the pool with everyone. 

Friday, January 5, 2007

We woke up and got ready and had breakfast by the pool at Mom and Dad’s hotel.  Sean, Anna, Margie, and I started the day at Magic Kingdom, because that’s what Margie recommended.  Once we got there, we walked down Main Street and went to check out the baby facilities.  They had a fabulous building with a nursing room, changing room, feeding room (with high chairs), and sleeping room (with cribs).

From there we went to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  Since I am a pirate nut, I REALLY liked this one.  Anna got to go on it with us, too.  She enjoyed it, especially the lights and the things that popped up.  We also took Anna on the Haunted Mansion ride.  I thought she’d get fussy, because it was dark in there and she wasn’t able to move around a whole lot, but she really like that one, too.  A ghost even sat next to her on the ride!

Sean and I went on the Big Thunder Mountain ride while Margie and Anna hung out and bonded.  When we were done, we saw a beautiful three story boat called the Liberty Square Riverboat.  We hopped on and rode the boat around Tom Sawyer Island.  We stood on the third deck, but at one point I decided I wanted to walk around and check out the rest of the boat.  So I went to first deck, and caught Anna’s eye (while Sean and Margie were staring off into space) and we started smiling at each other and making goofy faces until Sean and Margie finally noticed.

After we landed, we went over to the train station and rode the train all the way around the park.  Anna made even more friends, like she always does.  We got off the train at our original location and headed to

Main Street.  Margie and I walked through some shops, and then met up with Sean and Anna between City Hall and the Firehouse.  That’s where we sat to watch the parade.  It was neat, they even had Mary Poppins.  Anna got to wear her pink mouse ears with her name stitched on the back that Margie bought for her. When the parade was over, we went back to the hotel to meet up with everyone and eat and rest.  We didn’t get to rest for long before we (Sean, Margie, Anna, and I) were on our way to Epcot.  When we got there, the first thing we saw was the big sphere.  We went inside and rode the ride in it called History of Communication.  All this time I had no idea there was anything in it, I thought it was just a big ball, and Sean thinks that is hilarious.

We were supposed to meet up with Tina and her crew in America (the park was separated into countries that went all the way around a big lake in the center of the park, and America was in the back, in the middle, ALL the way around the lake from us).  So we started walking.  We got to an area between Canada and Great Britain when we decided to stop because the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show was about to begin.  Anna was pretty tired, so she was getting fussy, but she sure liked watching the fireworks crackle way up in the air.  A big spinning globe came out in the middle of the lake and had lights and images on it as well.  After the show we finally met up with Tina, Cory, Chad, Cassie, Rosie, Uncle Victor, Erin, Melissa, and Ashley.

The park closed after the fireworks show, but since we were staying on Disney property, we got some Extra Magic Hours wrist bands so we could stay in there for another two hours.  Anna even got one, but Sean had to wear it for her.  We went to another roller coaster and did the parent swap.  The parent swap is where one person stays with the baby and the roller coaster people give you a fast pass good for up to three people.  That way when everyone comes back, the person who sat out can hop in the fast pass lane and doesn’t have to ride alone.  Sean opted to stay behind on this ride, but after I waited in line for ten minutes, I was too tired to wait any longer (the line was about an hour long).  So I left everyone else in line, and found Sean and told him I wanted to go back to the hotel.  He was really looking forward to the ride, so he used the parent swap pass, hopped in the fast pass lane, and was out in about 30 minutes.  From there we went back to the hotel.  We got there about 11:30, so I crashed ASAP.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

This was the morning of a million nightmares.  Everything seemed to go wrong.  Let me just start from the beginning…

The race started at 6 am at Epcot, went down and through Magic Kingdom, then ended back at Epcot.  Mom, Dad, and Mary were in the third group, so they would start the race at 6:30 am.  Sean, Margie, Anna and I figured that there would probably be several people we knew at the finish line, so we wanted to be at Magic Kingdom to cheer on Mom, Dad, and Mary along the route to give them a little extra motivation. After they passed, we would walk to the Floridian Resort and cheer them on there, too.  Little did we know the fiasco that was about to unfold…

We walked from our hotel to the front lobby area.  The café was closed, but someone was getting it ready to open.  Margie walked in with her all-you-drink mug and asked if they could open a drink machine so she could fill her a cup.  The person told her, ‘I open the condiments first.’  Now there’s customer service.

We got to the bus stop about 5:15, hungry and thirsty.  As we waited, more and more people showed up to ride the shuttle.  There was a charter bus there, but it wasn’t running, and the driver was asleep in the front seat.  At about 5:35, there was a group of about 20 waiting to get on a bus, so someone decided to knock on his door and ask him if he was going to shuttle us.  He was told that he wasn’t supposed to drive the shuttle until 7 am.

At about 5:45, Margie went inside to ask the people at the front desk what was going on.  The brochure clearly stated that the shuttle would run from 3 am until 11 am.  The nice lady called her manager to find out what was going on, and the manager said that the bus wouldn’t come until 6.  As you can probably figure out, we were not happy.  But 6 wasn’t that far away, so we just sucked it up and waited for the 6 o clock.

A few minutes later, the nice lady came outside and told us that she spoke to her manager again.  They were mistaken, apparently the buses were supposed to stop at 5 and resume at 7.  There was absolutely no mention of this whatsoever in any of the marathon materials that we had.  We were convinced that they were trying to discourage spectators.  However, the nice lady called us three Mears taxi vans to take us to the Transportation Center.  They showed up in about 10 minutes, and everyone was so nice as we all tried to get to where we needed to go.  Since it was a taxi, the meter was running the whole time.  The grand total was $13.00, so split between six of us was about $2.17 a piece.  One person told us they would pay for our half (we had three people) since our baby was so cute.  Go Anna!

We watched the race for a few minutes at the Transportation Center, then we hopped on a monorail and rode to Magic Kingdom.  We picked out a good spot, right where the runners come out of the castle.  I left Sean, Anna, and Margie there so I could watch for everyone at Main Street.  I saw Dad and Mary run by, then less than a minute later I saw Mom.  I ran over to the castle and waited with Sean, Anna, and Margie.  We saw Mom come out first, so we waved and cheered.  I wondered why we didn’t see Dad and Mary first.  We waited about five more minutes just in case they got behind.  I figured we had missed them already, so we left for the Floridian.  I found out later that they stopped for a potty break and the line was long.  The saga continues…

We left Magic Kingdom and headed for the Floridian.  We thought it would be neat if Mom, Dad, and Mary saw us one more time on the route.  Margie didn’t think that the monorail was running over there that early.  She did think, however, that there was a path that you could walk to get there.  She figured that we could beat them there since we were going a more direct route.  We saw a sidewalk that disappeared in the general direction of the Floridian.  There was a port that said Boat Launch, but the boats weren’t running that early.  As we were leaving Magic Kingdom, we asked a guy who works there, “Does this sidewalk take us to the Floridian?”  He said yes.  Margie asked again, “This sidewalk that goes to the boat launch, if we keep walking, we will end up at the Floridian.”  Again, he said yes.  So we stepped up our pace and headed down the sidewalk.  It was a nice walk right next to the water.  They even had a little mini-beach.  We walked about a mile when I noticed that there was a bench up ahead in the middle of the sidewalk.  It was a dead end.  The Floridian was just across a small canal, but we couldn’t get there because there was no bridge.  If Anna’s stroller had inflatable tires, I would have swum across.  We were furious.  We sat for a moment to catch our breath and take a picture, and then we headed back down the brick path with every intention of beating up that man who told us to go that way.  By the time we reached Magic Kingdom again, the boats were running, but my parents would have been long gone.  So Margie told that guy what we thought about his directions, then we hopped on a monorail and went to Animal Kingdom.

We got to Animal Kingdom at about 9:30.  We had been awake for almost five hours and hadn’t eaten, so we were STARVING!  Margie treated us to breakfast at the Rainforest Café.  We sat next to a big elephant that moved around and, at times, wailed.  A few times during the ruckus Anna saw and heard the elephant and started crying.  Poor thing got scared of it.  The breakfast was delicious.  It definitely hit the spot, especially after all we had been through that morning.

As we walked in we saw the Tree of Life.  It was huge, and beautiful!  Next stop was the Kilimanjaro Safari.  We saw all kinds of wild animals, including, rhinos, elephants, giraffes (there was even a baby), gazelles, hippos, gators, ostriches, and antelope.  It was so neat.

After our safari, we went by the Mount Everest ride to get three fast passes.  Our return time was between 2:50 and 3:50.   So we walked around for a bit more.  We got some ice cream, and as we were walking away, the single rider line was short, so Margie and Sean hopped on while Anna and I waited at the bottom.  We met up with Tina and her crew around noon.  Uncle Victor didn’t want to go on Mount Everest, so I took his fast pass and went while Margie, Sean, Anna, and Victor waited at the bottom.  After that we split, and Sean, Margie, Anna, and I went to Dino land, and Sean and I went on a couple rides that were really fun.

We headed back toward the Tree of Life, and underneath the tree was a virtual movie (they gave us 3-D glasses) called “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.”  Anna started to get a little cranky, so I sang Itsy Bitsy Spider to her, which was quite appropriate since we were in bug world.  During the movie, things would happen that you could actually sense.  For example, a big on-screen stink bug sprayed and we saw a cloud of smoke and could actually smell a foul odor.

After that, we went back to Mount Everest.  We got a parent swap pass, and Margie sat down while Sean and I went on the ride using our fast passes that we got earlier.  After our ride, we had the parent swap pass (which is good for up to three people) and Margie’s fast pass from earlier.  Sean and Margie went on the ride next, and Anna and I watched them from down below.  When they got back to the bottom, they took Anna and I went back up by myself using Margie’s fast pass. 

When I got to the front of the line, there was another single rider in my row.  I asked him if I could sit on the right side, and he said yes and switched me.  Then he asked if there was something special about that side, and I told him that I just wanted to wave to my family below.

The ride got started, and once we got to the BIG uphill climb, I was so excited and started searching the crowd below for Sean, Margie, and Anna.  I waved with all my might just before I went behind a mountain peak to where they couldn’t see me anymore.  That’s when the train stopped.  I thought maybe things had just malfunctioned for a second, but seconds turned into minutes.  From the looks of things, the front cars were already on their way down the mountain.  In case you don’t know, I have a fear of heights.  I officially met Paul, the guy sitting next to me, in case he was the last person I ever talked to before I died.

The view was beautiful behind us, so we started taking pictures.  After about 15 minutes (but what felt like eternity), some people came and asked if we could walk down fourteen flights of stairs.  I looked at the staircase they were standing on, and my first thought was, “NO WAY!”  The scary staircase beside the big uphill was grated, so you could see all the way to the ground.  I looked directly down next to me and through the tracks I could see the ground, fifteen stories down.  That’s when I started to get a little panicky.  I called Sean and told him that I loved him, and that we would have to climb down.  He was so jealous.  He said that a little crowd had gathered around to watch the drama.  He asked if I was in the car in front of the guy with the red shirt.  So I turned around and looked, and sure enough I was.  That was the last car he could see because our car had already started to go in between the mountain peaks.

At that point, they told us that we would start unloading our train from front to back.  Each car has three rows in it, so when they unlatch the safety harness in the car, they ALL unlatch.  We were in the third row in our car, so while the first two rows were unloading onto the scary staircase, I kept hoping that the ride didn’t accidentally resume because I wasn’t latched.  But, with the help of the other people on the train, I made it off safely, and stood on the staircase waiting for everyone else to get unloaded.

We then began our trek into the mountain.  THANK GOODNESS, we didn’t have to go down the scary grated staircase.  We went further into the mountain and eventually got to a stairwell.  No grated steps, not even any windows, just your typical concrete stairwell.  We walked down the fourteen flights and ended up on the ground underneath the mountain.  When I looked up I could see up to the top, almost.  I got out my camera to try to take a picture, but one of the workers said “NO CAMERAS PLEASE!”  One of the guys in front of us said, “Yeah, they don’t want us trying to build one of these at home.”

When we got to the purchase hut at the end, they gave us a priority pass to come back to that ride at any time.  I found Sean, Anna, and Margie and gave everybody hugs and Sean was still so jealous.  I looked again at the pass they gave me and saw that it expired on December 31, 2006.  Not only that, but I wouldn’t be able to use it, because we would be leaving the park soon and not coming back during this trip.  It was doubtful that they would have the ride back up and running by the time we needed to leave.  So I asked the manager if he could exchange it for me, and he gave me one that was good for any ride in the park.  Since all the rides had short lines anyway, I just kept it as a souvenir.

After that, I was famished.  It was about 4, and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 9:30.  I had so much adrenaline pumping through my veins that I felt like I hadn’t breathed in two years.  We got to a bridge where we could get a good picture of the ride still stuck at the time.  Margie noticed that they were getting someone off the ride that couldn’t walk down all those stairs.  Apparently they save the last seat on the ride for handicap people, and that’s where she was.  While we were watching, some guy was asking all these questions, and another guy, who was stuck at the top with us, was answering him.  We turned and looked and it was Red Shirt Guy.  Sean said hi and officially met him, and we found out that he was behind us on the safari ride earlier, too.  Small world, huh?

As we walked to get a bite to eat, we passed a parade with large puppet-like animals.  It looked very beautiful and cultural, but I was too hungry to stop and watch.  The pavilion where we ate had a great view of the top of Mount Everest, so we could keep tabs on the train.  It stayed stuck up there until just before we finished eating.

We left the park and moseyed over to MGM Studios.  We got there around 6:30ish and went straight to the Osbourne Christmas lights.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  I love Christmas lights, so seeing them covering these buildings, and blinking to correspond with the music was incredible.  They even had snow machine blowing snow off the top of the buildings.  That was the first time I have seen snow in Florida.  Most of it melted before it got to our level, but I felt a few on my face and got to catch a few flurries in my mouth. 

Sean really wanted to go on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride, so I told him I would go with him.  While we were waiting in line, I started to realize that my body was completely exhausted from my adrenaline rush and I wasn’t sure if the ride was going to push me over the top.  But I made it, and it ended up being not as bad as I thought.

On our way out, we stopped by the Star Tours ride.  It is a simulator that makes you feel like you’re in the Star Wars movie.  It was pretty neat, we got to travel at space warp speed, fight the bad guys, and our pilot was a clumsy robot.  We almost crashed several times.

After that ride, we all agreed that it was time to go home.  We got back to the hotel at 9:30.  We had been gone for seventeen hours and were absolutely wiped out.  We all slept pretty hard that night.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Thanks goodness we didn’t have to get up early this morning for the marathon.  We tried to sleep in as much as possible, even Anna wanted to sleep in.  When we finally got up and got ready, we went to Downtown Disney.  I had a $15 voucher for Planet Hollywood that I wanted to use before our trip was over.  Sean, Tina, Cory, Anna and I had a couple appetizers to hold us over until the big lunch at 2.  After that we walked around a bit and took some pictures.  Our time was limited, so we didn’t get to shop much.  By the time we got back to the hotel, the first group of people had made the trip to Golden Corral.

Uncle David came back to pick up Sean, Anna, Tina, Cory and me.  When we got there, our family had gotten a private room in the back and we took up most of it.  Attending lunch were Gabbi, Papa, Aunt Denise, Uncle Victor, Erin, Melissa, Ashley, Dad, Mom, Me, Sean, Anna, Tina, Cory, Uncle Eddie, Aunt Nelda, Edye, Ily, Nicole, Alexis, Mary, Chad, Cassie, Rosie, John, Ralphie, Marie, Margie, Uncle David, Uncle Gerry, and Aunt Joyce.  I think I got everybody.  When we met Nicole and Alexis, Edye and Ily introduced us as Anna’s parents.  Alexis said, “Well no wonder she’s so beautiful!”  As you can imagine, she became my new best friend.  There were actually two tables that we didn’t occupy, so the Golden Corral staff filled them with others.  Tina busted into song, singing “We are Family.”  One of the other tables looked at us funny and probably wished they had a different table.  The other table joined in and started singing along!  It was pretty darn funny.

We wrapped up dinner and began to try to figure out who was riding with who, and where everyone was going.  My group ended up at Gabbi and Papa’s condo.  We hung out for a little bit, then walked down to a pool party at the complex.  It was a lot of fun.  They were playing some sing-a-longs, some dance music, and the pool was heated!  Anna got to swim for a little bit, and she loved it.
At one point, they had a hula hoop contest.  They asked for everyone 14 and under to come up by the stage, so I tried to convince Rosie to go up there.  She didn’t want to go.  After a few minutes, only two kids were up there, so the d.j. invited all ages up front.  I convinced Rosie to get up there if I would get up there.  Long story short, I ended up winning the contest, and Rosie called me a hula hoop geek.  I got a free t-shirt, WOOHOO!

After spending a while in the hot tub, we met a very nice lady and her daughter.  The daughter used to live in Austin, and she ran the Freescale Marathon last year.  She remembered how cold it was.  We told her that we were all there too.  She was also on the front cover of the program for this year’s Disney marathon.  I wanted to get her autograph, but didn’t have a copy of the program.  She did the goofy challenge this year.

Another fun filled day, and we were ready for a long night’s rest.  Uncle David took us back to our hotel and I started packing up for the morning.  It was sad to go, but I think overall it was a perfect vacation.

Monday, January 8, 2006

Happy Birthday to Anna!  She is nine months old today!

Since we stayed at Disney, we were able to go downstairs, check out, then check in with the airport crew right in the lobby.  We checked our luggage, and they took it to the airport and put it on the plane for us.  They gave us our boarding passes, so all we had to do when we got to the airport was go through security and wait at our gate.  It was so convenient.

In the security line, we met a nice guy who was by himself with two kids and looked like he was struggling a bit to get all his stuff down the conveyer belt.  So I helped him out, and he was very thankful.  Turns out he is from Dallas and they were on their way home from Disneyworld too.  We chatted for a few minutes, and they rode the tram with us to our terminal.

We met up with Tina at the gate.  I was waiting for Mom and Dad to show up and surprise us, but they never did.  Again, Anna slept on take off.  This time she was with Daddy, and he slept with her.  I guess they were just so comfy cuddled up together that Anna’s nap was contagious.  She was a little fussy during landing, but we survived our first vacation.  And what a blast we had!

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