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Disneyworld.

Where do I even begin?

We had an awesome time. Simon is an amazing little traveler. Just fantastic. He exceeded any possible expectations we could have had for a positive air travel experience. Basically, he rocked. He walked right on, found his seat, sat down and looked out the window. It was a huge sigh of relief for both Chris and me that he was ok with flying.

The DVD player and video iPod were key in keeping him happy and occupied. We also left really early yesterday morning so he was still tired and feel asleep fairly quickly on the first flight.

We stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and it was perfect. With Simon's love of animals this was a really easy decision for us. We went with a safari view room and got to see giraffes eating right outside our window daily. Next time we go we will probably choose a hotel closer to Magic Kingdom - one that we could get to quickly. We rode the bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to each of the parks and found that to be easy and convenient.

My sister Jessica was able to join us for the first day - that made the experience that much more wonderful. We hit the Magic Kingdom first. Simon was in heaven. We would ask him who he wanted to ride with and he always said "Jessie." We loved having her there.

For us, going at this time of year was the right choice. None of the parks were too crowded, lines were tolerable for Simon (we did have an access pass for people with disabilities and used it just a couple times), but the weather was not so great - including a major downpour just as we were getting off the bus at the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. We were completely SOAKED. Now, we are from Oregon and we are used to rain but man we were WET. Right when we were about ready to call it a night the rain stopped and we stayed for a couple more hours and had a great time. The fireworks and parade were awesome (the stage show at the castle was cancelled due to the weather). Seriosly amazing fireworks - Simon likes fireworks so it was all good.

We attened one character breakfast at Crystal Palace. We were totally unsure how Simon was going to react to the characters and the result: not his thing. We went to the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom for breakfast with Pooh (and asked for a table away from the action when booking). Simon LOVES seeing the characters from a distance but wanted absolutely nothing to do with them up close. We worked with him to just say "hi pooh" and then "bye pooh" (rather than screaming) as they came up to the table. The characters were great in that they did not push it at all and just waved and moved on to the next table. That made it all ok for Simon. (We had scheduled another character meal but decided to cancel and be able to do something else.) All about going with the flow.

Here were Simon's favorites:

1. The show right in front of the castle. We saw it twice. Got to see characters from a distance + music and dancing. He loved it.

2. Playhouse Disney @ MGM. So totally fun and interactive. 

3. Dumbo, Winne the Pooh, and the smaller kids roller coasters. He really loved every ride we went on. Both Chris and I were surprised at how much he loved the rides and was totally into and willing to try them out.

4. The big train at the Magic Kingdom. He was all over this one. He really wanted to check out the wheels - that was what was important to him - he was able to get close enough as the train took off (santa picked up a replica of this train in the gift shop) and was so excited.

5. Nemo ride at Epcot. He was grumpy in general on this day but he wanted to go again so I count that as something he enjoyed.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the week:

Each day we rented a stroller - a must have in our opinion. 

SEA WORLD

One of our days was spent at Sea World - another natural choice for us due to Simon's affection for animals. There were a couple things there that Simon really liked. First was this trampoline set-up. We watched a little boy go first, asked Simon if he wanted to go and he said, "OK." We were so surprised and delighted at his adventurousness.

While at Sea World we went to see the Shamu show - totally thinking that sitting in the splash zone up close (front and center) would be totally fun. NOT FUN for Simon. Hated getting wet and we ended up leaving early...fixed the upset with a treat of course and headed over to the cool play area they have right across from the whale stadium. He loved that area - including a cool whale roller coaster.

We also really loved the seal/pirate show. Lots of laughs.

Not sure that we will go back to Sea World if/when we head that way again. Glad we went and experienced it, but I loved the Disney parks so much more.

Food-wise everything was ok. Not great, but ok. We did get to eat right in front of the big fish tank at the Coral Reef restaurant at Epcot which Simon loved and was a really cool experience. Also enjoyed eating quite a few meals at Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge (convenient) and lunch at Rainforest Cafe in Animal Kingdom park. We signed up for a Disney Meal plan this time and I think that next time we will forgo that and just pay as we go. For us, it just became more of a hastle than anything (hated having to think about it). Also, next time we will pack some cereal/breakfast stuff and other snacks to have in the room.

By the end of the week we were all tired. It is so fun and exciting but just SO MUCH. Next time around we will plan a day just to hang out by the pool (weather permitting of course) and be around the hotel or watch TV - essentially just BE a bit more than the pace we set for ourselves. Most days we ended up coming back to the hotel for an afternoon nap and then went back out again in the evening, but even that was a pretty hectic schedule. By the last day at Epcot Simon was super grumpy and just plain tired so we cut the day short and hung out at the hotel before leaving early Sunday morning.

Overall, a totally crazy wonderful experience. Nothing like seeing your kid get so SUPER excited about rides and seeing Mickey and riding the bus and just having time to be together as a family. That was a huge part of it for us. There were so many moments where Chris and I just looked at each other and smiled as we saw the pure joy on Simon's face. That was what it was all about.

We will totally be going back again in a couple years.

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119 thoughts

  1. suetreiber says…
    12/18/2006

    You took amazing shots, as I expected. So glad to hear that Simon enjoyed so much of the trip. DW is very overwhelming, even for adults. I know I was crabby by the end of each day.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Anna-Marie Still says…
    12/18/2006

    Thanks for sharing! Love the last photo of Simon & Chris from behind! Have fun settling in before Christmas! Peace!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Kim Bolyard says…
    12/18/2006

    Wow!!! I am so glad you guys had such a wonderful time. My favorite photo is the last one with Chris and Simon looking at the castle. Looks like an ad for Walt Disney World.
    peace
    Kim

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Gloria B. says…
    12/18/2006

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience at WDW w/Simon. I've wondered what it would be like for my family to take a vacation there, as my son also has sensory integration issues. I think we may wait a few years, but I'm so thankful for the information that you've provided here. And that last picture did me in, too! LOL I'm glad you had a great time! Glad you made it back safely.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. beth j says…
    12/18/2006

    ali...thanks for sharing your trip and memories! all of the photos are awesome. so, so glad you had a wonderful time with your family.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. kristina proffitt says…
    12/18/2006

    Oh, Ali I am SO glad that you and your family had a wonderful time! Those pictures brought a smile to my face! I could see the joy in them and you're right - just being with family is what it's all about! SO happy for you, Chris and Simon! I'm glad it all went so well! I'm sure you have lots of great memories and photos to scrapbook! ;)

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  7. Jennifer says…
    12/18/2006

    Congrats on a wonderful family vacation...happy that Simon enjoyed his Disney experience. The last photo (of Simon and Dad in front of castle) is the best. Love the trampoline and carousel horse photos too. He looks so happy...so glad for your family to have had an enjoyable time. Great blog! Merry Christmas...

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  8. Jenny Rebecca says…
    12/18/2006

    So glad you had a wonderful time!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. ashlie says…
    12/18/2006

    It truely is "where the magic happens"!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Freddi says…
    12/18/2006

    I'm the teacher from your Sunday Favorite Photos class that has the high school HOSA group working for Autism Speaks this year.
    Well-- I'm so tickled pink that you had what sounds like an awesome time at Disney. It is so very special that you Chris and Simon were able to share in the MAGIC. Sorry that our weather was not the best but I am glad that Simon did so very well with all the new experiences.
    It was so very great meeting and talking with you at the class in Tampa.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. karen says…
    12/18/2006

    what a wonderful trip-thank you for sharing it with us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Chris Hauck says…
    12/18/2006

    Well it looks like you had an amazing time! So glad that everything went smoothly. I'm looking forward to the time when we can take our four children there. It's so expensive and we want everyone to enjoy it to the fullest.
    Chris

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  13. Ana Maria Magloire says…
    12/18/2006

    I can't tell you how happy I am to read this. You sounded so concerned before the whole experience... And obviously it was wonderful.
    His little face is just priceless, he's turned into such a little man. You must be so proud.
    So gald to have you back! Tell us how you liked the Tampa classes, OK?
    Anilu.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Tara Kelly says…
    12/18/2006

    I know how you feel. When we took ds (5 with autism) to disneyland for the first time we were apprehensive. But it turned out to be the most wonderful experience. It was amazing to watch.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Diane says…
    12/18/2006

    Welcome home to you all! Thanks for sharing your story -- it was fun to read! Loved the photos, especially the one of Chris holding Simon and you view them from the back. You guys are awesome -- Simon is a lucky boy to have all that love and care around him. Peace , Diane from Cape Cod

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  16. Lara says…
    12/18/2006

    great...great...great post. thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. jenn says…
    12/18/2006

    wow... what an awesome recap ali :) i felt like i was there with you heheheeh :) soooo happy you had an amazing time as a family!! what an awesome christmas gift ;) to see simon so open and excited :) LOVE the last pic of chris and simon, and the castle in the nackground... that {rocks}!!

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  18. kristy says…
    12/18/2006

    welcome back ali... sounds like you had an amazing time!! makes me super excited we are leaving for disney on thursday!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Joan says…
    12/18/2006

    When is Simon going to get a trampoline?? I think he needs one! It is great for sensory stimulation!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. jenn says…
    12/18/2006

    Glad you had a wonderful time!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. ArtsyMama says…
    12/18/2006

    So much fun to re-live your trip with you. What fabulous photos and memories you have shared! So glad to hear you had such a grand time. Simon is such a darling:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Kate Wishnowsky says…
    12/18/2006

    Dear Ali, Chris and Simon,
    I am so glad that you have made it back safe and sound and that you all had such a great time. Of allthose photos, I think my favourite is the last one of Chris and Simon backs as they watch the Castle.
    Enjoy being *back* and getting back to the normal day-to-day routine.
    Take care
    Love Kate Wishnowsky

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Shannon says…
    12/18/2006

    LOVE that last shot!!
    Totally going to have to get one of my boys like that.:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Katie says…
    12/18/2006

    I am so happy he had a great time. And what a brave guy, there is no way I'd be doing that bungee thing, lol! Glad you went with the flow and just did what was right, that's what it's all about, right?
    xoxo
    KT

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  25. Katie says…
    12/18/2006

    looks like you had a wonderful time--memories to last a lifetime! welcome home & happy holidays :)

    Reply 0 Replies

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