But more, much more than this, I did it my way.
I figure I'd better bring some kind of conclusion to this report or it will be left in the air in perpetuity so here we go. It's been just over eight months since we returned from the trip so enough distance has passed by in order that I can look back objectively at the good, the bad, and the ugly things that happened.
So if I was in that position again would I take an eight month old, a 2 year old and a 6 year old all the way to WDW again? Without a doubt, I'd do it again like a shot. Yeah it's definitely harder work than just two adults but it's so worth the effort. We saw things that we'd never seen before thanks to those children. We saw their eyes light up at things we'd never ever dreamed of stopping to look at before. Not just the child oriented attractions, but the small things in the parks like the theming around the lands, the wildlife that lives in the parks, the different interaction you get with Cast Members when there are children with you, and many more things.
If anyone asked me if their child was old enough to visit WDW I'd always answer yes now, regardless of the child's age. But I warn them that it does need careful planning, and the younger the child the more forward planning needs doing. If you're prepared to do a bit of work and extra planning before you go then the rewards can be unbelievable.
Things I'll not forget:
1. Steven and Ellie's captivated faces at the Festival of the Lion King.
2. Harry hugging Stitch just a couple of minutes after deeming him too gairy to approach.
3. All of us sitting in Tomorrowland eating Mickey Bars.
4. Ellie's face when meeting Piglit at her birthday dinner.
5. Steven slapping Cinderella round the face with a piece of brocolli.
6. Strange one this - but I'll always remember us sitting in our cars in Denny's parking lot, singing along with the Christmas music radio station.
Things I'd do again:
1. Cinderella's Gala Feast
2. Go in early December
3. Have cheeseburgers in Beaches and Cream.
4. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
5. Well so many other things there's too many to list
6. Shop for drinks/snacks at Publix and bring them into park
Things I wouldn't do again:
1. 8am seating for the Breakfastasaurus - just a little too early for us to trek so far for our breakfast.
2. Tower of Terror. I just can't do it any more. I'm getting too old to be dropped from that high up.
3. Go to Downtown Disney on a Saturday in December.
All Star Movies - without a doubt we wouldn't consider staying anywhere else on site. We need a room with sleeping and washing facilities. You get that here at a good rate and with a bit of Disney magic thrown in. We don't need anything else, and the kids loved the fact that the huge Buzz Lightyear was just a few feet away.
Virgin Atlantic - no complaints really. Steve and Lisa had their pre-booked seats waiting for them and the kids meals turned up for Ellie and Harry. Our pre-booked seats were switched to bulkhead seats because of Steven so that was a bonus. Food edible, service ok. The stewardess who looked after our bit of the plane was very helpful regarding anything Steven might need. Entertainment systems all working, good choice of films. Can't really find anything to complain about.
Dollar Rentals - no probs again, pick up was quick and painless, negotiated a nice upgrade to 7-seaters for us so had 2 Dodge Caravans which were practically brand new and very easy to drive. Extra bag space was very useful too.
Disney Transportation - we only used the monorails as we had the rental cars but getting the buggies on and off the monorails was painless.
Cheerleaders - we honestly noticed them very little. We appeared to hit the food court each morning before the breakfast rush, and often ate dinner off site in the evenings. During the day we were out at the parks and only saw a few small groups there. The only time we saw any "trouble" was coming home one night there was a bit of a party going on in Andy's Room but Security dispersed them a few minutes later. So I would happily share a resort with the cheerleaders again, although I think requesting a room away from group bookings definitely helped here.
So that's about it really. We have tentative plans for a November/December 2006 trip, but this depends on a lot of things, not the least our finances. We want to make it a 3 week trip this time, spending two weeks at a villa and a week at All Star Movies again. Three weeks would make some trip report. And we may have an extra traveller. Before you all get all excited and start the sibling nonsense again the extra person is my sister in law Anne. She has decided she might want to come with us for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. My brother Roy, her husband, says he'll stay at home and feed the fish.
There you go then. The longest trip report ever is hereby declared closed. I will now take questions from the floor.