Quality Family Time!
Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
253Trip End Dec 31, 2014
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Since our trip coincided with Spring Break for most of the country I had to be organized in making our reservations, both for the campground and air-fare. As luck would have it, I'm pretty good at being organized as well as slightly obsessive!
I had also managed to wear Ken down. His original plan was to stay at the Thousand Trails park located about 20 minutes outside of Disney World where we could stay for no charge per night. It did work in our favor that the entire vacation was charged to a credit card months prior to the kids arrival and that the bill has been paid off in full.
We arrived at Fort Wilderness, set up the coach and the kids 'sleeping quarters' aka: the tent. Did a little exploring of the area and discovered we were set up right across from the pool as well as the nightly campfire & sing-along. Our site also backed right up to the shuttle bus stop. This would prove to be a god-send since we were able to, literally, fall into bed at the end of the day.
We picked the kids up and were off and runnning! We had a 6-day park hopper pass for each of us along with a 6-day magic-your-way pass. We spent time in each of the 4 parks, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Along with time at each of the water parks and Disney's Quest. We had one full day away from Walt Disney World, it was Alicia's 9th birthday, and we spent it in Clearwater, Florida. This is home the Winter the dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale. Besides visiting Winter we spent some time in the Gulf of Mexico floating around and collecting shells. The adult kids took the truck one day and made the drive out to the Kennedy Space Center. We let the little people decide what they wanted to do while the parents were gone and they decided to just hang out in the coach!
The parks were busy, it was Spring break after all, but we took advantage of the Fastpass system and managed to take in quite a few shows, parades and all three of the nightly fireworks displays. We also made it back to the coach each evening for a home cooked meal - all the early preparation paid off!
A few tips we learned during our stay. Any food booth that has a soda fountain will give you a cup of ice if you ask, free of charge. You can also carry in any food or beverages you want, but no alcohol or glass bottles. We had purchased a cheap stroller at WalMart prior to the kids arrival which we loaded up every day with an ice-chest full of sandwiches, snacks and drinks. All it took was getting a few cups of ice and finding a place to sit each day and we had a much healthier lunch option from the foods offered at the parks. And, no $3 sodas, since we brought in our own. It was also much less expensive, which made Ken happy!
The kids also got very into pin trading. This was something I had never heard of. You purchase a lanyard and a 'starter' kit and from there you are off and trading pins with other visitors along with park employees. Now, the employees aren't allowed to tell you no if you want to trade with them. Andy had purchased about 20 pins ahead of time on E-bay for about a quarter of the cost of the pins in the parks - very smart and clearly something his Dad would have done had he known about this! The trading of pins kept the little people from asking for anything from the various stores - no whining about having a stuffed animal, snow globe, t-shirt, etc. They were so focused on trading pins they never noticed any of the other stuff!!
It was a fantastic family vacation filled with memories that will last long after Ken & I are gone. Now, we just have to figure out when to come back with everyone since after nine days it feels like we just scratched the surface!