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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. maria says…
    12/18/2006

    Disneyworld is indeed a magical place. And you got it right...it's "the pure joy" on your child's face that makes it all worth while...That's indeed what it is all about! I love Walt Disney's legacy.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jennifer McNeely says…
    12/18/2006

    Wow - so glad you had a fabulous time. Can't wait to hear more.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Liz Ness says…
    12/18/2006

    So cute (and awesome shot there of Chris and Sion in front of the castle!). Also, the photos really show how grown up Simon is getting to be -- and tall, too! So glad you had fun and hope your holidays are great!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Erin Wells says…
    12/18/2006

    Hi Ali!
    Welcome back! So glad you had a great vacation as a family. It sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing your memories with us!
    Have a wonderful holiday!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Kelley says…
    12/18/2006

    I am so happy to read of your adventure with "the mouse" at WDW. I love to read about Simon and how he does with new situations and adventures. You and Chris are so wonderful and amazing with him. I am glad that this trip turned out to be as magical as it was for you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Glad that you are all home safe and sound. Merry Christmas!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Anne Thompson says…
    12/18/2006

    I'm sitting here with my 2 year old daughter and we were looking at all the disney pictures and she was naming all the characters (we were just there last month) so she had a lot of fun looking at all your pics! Looks like you had fun too!

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

    Great vacation! I am so happy for you!!
    I love trampoline photo. Simon looks so cute!
    Now I feel like going to the Disney world
    much much better than CHA... Ha!

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

    Looks like you had a wonderful time! Great to hear that Simon did so well and loved it as much as he did! You never know what to expect but it sounds like he exceeded all expectations. Beautiful photos too - hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas Ali!

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

    oh man you got to sit next to the fish tank in the coral reef???? I'm SOOOO jealous!! We've eaten there like 5 times and NEVER got closer than about 5 rows away! Lucky duck!! :)
    Love seeing all the pics. Brings back so many good memories we have of Disney and our boys! Makes me wanna go back with them right now!

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

    totally wanna pack up go right now! maybe soon. great to have you back!

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

    So fun to read about your adventures, especially as been wishing for a great time for you, Chris, and Simon--even without knowing you personally. (the power of scrapbooking and blogs!) Haven't been to Disneyland at Christmas, but would love to, and looking forward to a first Disney experience for our (now) 5- and 6- year olds someday. Magic. Merry Christmas to you!
    Amy from Oregon
    (and looking forward to your class at CKC-Portland!)

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

    I am so glad Simon had a great time (and the two of you as well!) That last sentence and picture made me tear up.

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

    love this post ali.
    so glad you all had a great time.
    the picture you posted the other day of your sister and simon was amazing.
    the look of pure joy and delight on his face was such a treasure!

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

    Welcome home. So happy to hear that it was such a wonderful experience (on the whole) for all three of you. Love the looks on Simon's face.

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

    especially love the last photo!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Nichole Black says…
    12/18/2006

    SO GLAD you guys had such a great time! I especially loved the last picture. It sounds just perfect. I truly believe the most fun a grown-up can have is watching your child have fun.
    I'm also going to use your pictures to try to convince my DD to visit Disney. She's so scared the characters will touch her - I'll quote you that it's not the case.
    Welcome home!

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

    So great that you were all able to experience and enjoy the Disney magic. It really is the happiest place on earth. Nothing like it.

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

    The first pic you posted has kept me amused all week - love the excitement on Simon's face. And I can see it continued all week long - that is so awesome. The final picture with dad just brought tears to my eyes - love shots like that. So glad you had a wonderful family time at Disney. Can't wait to FINALLY meet you at Split Rock in ONE month!
    Denise

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  19. Ksea says…
    12/18/2006

    So, So happy that you had a great experience and that you guys are back safe and sound.

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

    WOWIE! Great pictures!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Stephanie Homburg says…
    12/18/2006

    I am going to blame hormones for the fact that I got teary throughout this whole entry and then totally lost it on the last picture.
    I'm so happy for you guys to have had this vacation together. Nothing beats family. Nothing.

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

    That last picture is (sigh)..so good! Glad you had a wonderful time. Those memories will stay with Simon forever!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Jenny A. says…
    12/18/2006

    Very cool Ali! So glad you all had fun. Love how you and Chris totally adapted to Simon's needs to make sure he had fun. What very cool pictures. LOVE the last shot. You have a beautiful family. I'm glad you had so much fun and welcome back home!

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

    very cool! thanks for sharing as always. simon is a cutie & u got some wonderful expressions on that sweet face of his! welcome back to reality & can't wait to see your scrapbook from the trip!
    ciao-
    maryjo

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

    I'm so glad that you guys had such a great time. Those pictures are treasures for sure! Now I'm even more excited about our trip in February.

    Reply 0 Replies

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