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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. tina b says…
    12/19/2006

    wow, so glad to see that you had a wonderful time as a family - the pictures are priceless!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Leonie says…
    12/19/2006

    sister, you ROCK for sharing all of this...
    blessed BE!
    also, have you checked out doreen virtue's "crystal children"?

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Keianna says…
    12/19/2006

    The very last photo on your post speaks volumns and is my fave. Glad Simon enjoyed himself.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Stacy says…
    12/19/2006

    Amazing pictures. Your description of the trip was great. I love forward to taking my 1 year old when he is ready. The last pic was amazing. Way to go, Simon!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Tammy M. says…
    12/19/2006

    Your pictures make me miss Disney World!! We went at Christmas time last year and had an AMAZING time..want to go back badly!! Glad Simon did so well..sounds like fun was had by all!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Danielle Collins says…
    12/19/2006

    wow. looks like a super trip. we just got back from disneyland yesterday. you are so organized to have pics posted and a scrapbook ready go! dang! thanks for the idea with the sandylion product. and i have to totally agree with the seaworld thing. we went to the san diego one... it was okay, but probably wouldn't do it again. although, that is an awesome shot of that orca!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Crystal says…
    12/19/2006

    Oh, I'm do glad you had a marvelous time!!! This will be a family memory that you treasure forever. Thanks for sharing your highlights - I wish I could be there right now. But we have 2 new granddaughters so maybe in 5 years!!!! Good luck with the moving - if I lived closer I'd come help you!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Sarah says…
    12/19/2006

    What a gorgeous post. Thanks for sharing Ali. Merry Christmas to you all!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. carla says…
    12/19/2006

    wow, sounds like you guys had a fun time. looking at simon in these pics (i feel like i've watched him grow up through your layouts and blog) i noticed the little toddler in him is gone. he is looking like such a handsome young boy. my son is just about a month older than simon and i have recently noticed the same thing with him... the time goes sooo fast...

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Lisa Russell says…
    12/19/2006

    We go many times a year since we live closeby on the east coast. We are going next week. So glad you had a great experience! It really is a magical place. I never tire of the place. PLEASE post your disney book when you get it completed! I'd love to see it!
    Lisa

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  11. Stacey Bogert says…
    12/19/2006

    Looks like you had an awesome time! What great memories Simon will have of this trip. Good luck with the move!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Sue says…
    12/20/2006

    So glad you had a great time. I loved the photos and am glad your little one enjoyed himself. I would love to wake up and watch the giraffes eating! Wow!
    Sue

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  13. Audrey says…
    12/20/2006

    Thanx for sharing these magical pictures with us.
    We will be travelling to Orlando in 4 weeks with our almost 3 year old and Im soooo looking forward to it.
    Can't wait to see if she'll like the Pooh-breakfast!
    Have a great X-mas!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Sarah says…
    12/20/2006

    Wow, Simon looks like such a young man now...amazing how fast they change!
    Lovin' the rides makes total sense to me; Zeb's vestibular/proprioceptive systems need certain types of stimulation, and the spinning, swinging, whirling stuff is right up his alley. He uses it to calm himself when the other stimuli are overwhelming (too much stress, being still too long - school). I bet Simon really felt "right" on those rides. And the getting wet thing, also completely familiar to me (can you imagine doing papier mache with someone who doesn't want to get his hands dirty? LOL)
    You did an amazing job of predicting and preparing for this trip, gave Simon (and yourselves) a wonderful vacation. When we "did" Orlando, we stayed at the Nickelodean hotel; 2 pools, the SpongeBob Squarepants room, slides, snacks poolside, and a little kitchenette in the room. We only planned one day at the hotel but my crew mutinied and would not go to a park the last day - just wanted to hang at the hotel. Next time, we will alternate park/hotel every other day - much calmer.
    And, of course, awesome photos. My fave is the one of Simon peering through the little gap in the ride.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Julie says…
    12/20/2006

    You know, I'm about 90% sure the engineer in the train picture is the same guy that married two of my friends this weekend.
    He works at the Magic Kingdom trains and 'moonlights' as an ordained minister.
    It is a small world!
    I'm glad you had a great time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Donna Shultz says…
    12/22/2006

    We were at WDW 12/2-12/9. I was standing in line at Big Thunder Mountain, wearing my CKU - A Week in the Life T-Shirt from Stamford CT. A lady in the line next to me asked if I had been there, and wasn't that the class that Ali Edwards taught? We chatted on and on and she was telling me that she reads your blog every day and that you were going to be in WDW shortly after we left. I have to admit, I did know you were going to be there, but I was unsure of the dates. I decided to wear the shirt just in case!!! LOL! I'm thrilled to hear that you had a wonderful time there.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Cheri says…
    12/22/2006

    Really enjoyed your Disney story. Have always enjoyed the parks. So glad that your family did too! Great photos!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Renee says…
    12/27/2006

    So glad you had a magical time in WDW. there is a reason they call it the "Happiest Place on Earth". We missed you by only a week as we were there in early Dec with our 3 year old (and we even spent 1 night of the vacation at the Animal kingdom lodge). While this was her 3rd trip to the World it was the first time she "got it" and to see the sparkle and wonder in her eyes was so worth it. (note she had the same reaction to the characters at the Crystal Palace. the only ones she would go near were the princesses and Minnie Mouse...). Enjoy your new year and your new house! i look forward to seeing some disney memories in future pages and projects of yours!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. chel says…
    06/28/2007

    Oh my gosh, that last photo of Chris and Simon makes me want to cry! We are taking Gracie to Disney later this year. She'll only be a little over two, and I totally know that she'll get parts of it, hate parts of it, and won't remember most of it. But as long as we all stay in the moment, I think we'll have fun. We're really going for ME, but how could I go and not take my daughter? I am so excited, and your entries made me more excited :)

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