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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. Kelley Popp says…
    12/18/2006

    So happy to see that all of you enjoyed DW. It can be an overwelming place-that's for sure. We've gone twice with Max at ages 3 and 4 and it was an experience. You and Chris are awesome parents for introducing Simon to the magic and letting him decide if and when he wanted to go with it all. It looks like he had the best time and that just rocks!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. ksharonk says…
    12/18/2006

    The last photo was my favourite ... so glad you guys had a great time! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Gayle says…
    12/18/2006

    Ali,
    So cool that you all had a great first time family vacation at Disney. Getting sucked into the magic is contagious. What wonderful photos!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Jessica says…
    12/18/2006

    Thanks for sharing your trip and the amazing photos. I am so glad that Simon had a good time. I look forward to seeing the layout from this trip. I loved the expression on Simon's face. The last picture of father and son rocks:)
    Jess

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Rachel Greig says…
    12/18/2006

    Ali - it all looks so great! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Rachel says…
    12/18/2006

    yay!! so glad you had a good time. Love seeing the pics :)
    R

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. mom78968400 says…
    12/18/2006

    It's all about the Magic! So glad that Simon enjoyed his trip. Every time you enter the Magic Kingdom it is amazing. So glad that it rocked for you all. You deserve it! Now, relax and enjoy Christmas!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Stacy says…
    12/18/2006

    So Happy that you all had a great time and that Simon did well and was able to enjoy himself.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Jolene George says…
    12/18/2006

    What a magical and unforgetable trip for your family. All the pictures brough a smile to my face and happiness in my heart, just knowing what a good experience it was for Simon. http://jolenegeorge.blogspot.com/

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

    As I sit here reading this I have tears running down my face. Sounds weird, I know, but I'm moved by your descriptions and just how much you put Simon first on this trip, and not try to force Disney on him, but let him absorb it in his timing and his way. I'm thrilled for you and your family, after what has seemed to be an unbelieveably hectic year for you all. Thank you for sharing your lives with so many... even those of us you've never even met.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. PROLIX from la Normandie says…
    12/18/2006

    Bonjour Ali!
    Merci beaucoup for these pics! They are wonderful and make us dream so much!
    I love the seaworld with the pics of animals just in front of you! I's so impressive!!!
    I'm very happy Simon played & enjoyed so much!!! It's so great!!!
    His smile is the better proof!
    ;oD
    {ThE fReNcH tOuCh}
    http://prolix.typepad.fr

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Sarah says…
    12/18/2006

    My best friend Jeremy works at Disney (in fact, I do believe he may have been at your character breakfast at the Crystal Palace and at the parade you saw), so I'm going to pass along your blog about the experience. He loves nothing more than to see the joy families can experience at Disney!
    I'm so glad you had a wonderful trip, and that Simon could experience so many things.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Kirsten says…
    12/18/2006

    honey, just to let you know...we have plenty of pictures of my son hovering in the background around Woody and Pooh...so overwhelmed...

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Angelique says…
    12/18/2006

    WOW- it looks like you all had the time of your lives!!!
    I CAN NOT believe how BIG and old he looks!!! He is growing up so fast! He looks like your hubby!
    Love the photos!

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

    so very happy you three had an awesome experience, especially the flying part! that last photo of your dh with your son is very cool. tfs all you do girl!
    peace.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. leah says…
    12/18/2006

    Wonderful. like Erin just posted. THANKS FOR SHARING!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Avital Gertner says…
    12/18/2006

    Hi Ali;
    I'm so happy you had such a nice time. Parents of autistic children deserve every minute of joy they can get !! I totally understand the tension of not knowing how will Simon react to things and the relief when he loves it.
    I can't wait to see some of the layouts you will fix from the amazing pictures you have posted. Capturing so many different kind of feelings ...

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. corinne delis says…
    12/18/2006

    I am just so happy for you guys trhat Simon loved it all! I just had to laugh at a few things since I so recognize Anthony in it, like with the characters that come by the table and stuff like that.
    We also plan to go to Euro disney next year, I hope we have as much fun as you did!
    corinnexxx

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  19. Alice Hess says…
    12/18/2006

    LOVE the very last photo. What an amazing shot. I also love the one of Simon looking out of the ride. Super cute. I am so happy to hear that Simon had a great trip. I am learning quite a bit about autism from reading your blog, and I am sure many other people are too.
    Super excited to meet you at ARTistry in Vancouver in march!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Miranda Wedekind says…
    12/18/2006

    Sounds like a very nice time. I hope to see the Disneypacs some day....

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

    Wow!! Sounds like an amazing vacation. I'm glad Simon's experience was a good one. Great pictures, by the way.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Kelly says…
    12/18/2006

    Wow. What an amazing vacation for your family. I'm glad that you all had such a great time and especially glad that everything went so well for Simon. Your pictures are fantastic (I especially love the last one of Chris and Simon looking at Cinderella's castle together!) I"m so happy that you got to take a well deserved family vacation and that you enjoyed it so much.
    Can't wait to see what you create with these photos :)

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

    So happy for your family, and Simon is looking so grown up! Missed you.

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

    It is such a magical place.
    Your last picture is my favorite it tell so much. Glad you had a great time, welcome home.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Ania says…
    12/18/2006

    What a wonderful tale! So excited for you, and thank you so much for sharing this tale and your thoughts! Would totally love to bring my children to a Disney attraction either in Europe or US if I ever get the chance :)

    Reply 0 Replies

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