Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WDW Family Trip, December 2007, Day 1, Part 1: YOU AGAIN??!!

I had my alarms set for 3:30 and 3:35. Sheri had her foghorn set at 3:30, and we had an additional alarm set across the room for around 3:30. We wanted to make sure we were up. Of all the alarms set, it was our newest alarm clock that woke us up. We've only had this one for a little under 3 years.

Eric came flying into our room thinking he could jump in bed with us and sleep.

Instead of sending him back to bed, we let him stay in for a little bit while we got up and got ready. He stayed awake wondering what the heck was going on. After we got dressed, we handed him Pal Mickey and asked him if he wanted to wake Aaron up.

He was READY for payback for all the times Aaron had woken him up. We told him to ask Aaron if he wanted to go to Walt Disney World today. In my mind, I expected Aaron to sit up in shock for a few seconds and then start running up and down the stairs, shedding clothes every couple feet, and screaming "WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!" for about 5 minutes. Then he'd tell Eric what that place was like, and the younger one would start tearing off his clothes and screaming for joy.

I forgot it was only 3:45 in the morning and that he was still quite tired (the Tooth Fairy came by for the second time the night before, and I think Aaron wanted to stay up to catch him/her).

Here's the wake-up:

I think it finally dawned on him about 55 seconds into it as he's about to head out the room and then makes a quick U-turn back in. I wish I would have kept the video on for about 20 more seconds because Aaron asked me in a most serious tone, "Do we have enough money to go now?" Refer to the pre-trip…that was one of the reasons I used to tell him why we weren't going to be able to go to WDW for a long while.

They get dressed in record time…you could tell the excitement was building:

Ummmmmmmm…..you feeling okay, Eric?

I go all OCD as we pile into the van…checking the heat setting again, the humidifier again, making sure the cats have food/water, etc. The temperature is around 19 degrees, but it's supposed to be 85 in Orlando. We opt for short-sleeved shirts and jackets. We packed shorts in our carry-ons to change into when we arrived. We tell the cats bye, and they're already pissed at us (@#$&*^&#^$ bastards are leaving us AGAIN…you just wait and see if there's a tree standing in this house when you get your sorry selves back!). I open the garage door and nearly gave the paper deliverer a coronary as she had no idea that door would be going up at 4:05 just as she was walking by. She was already to her car by the time I figured out where she sprinted to.

A short 10 minute drive later, and we're pulling into the Central Illinois Regional Airport. The first argument occurs at this time... "Drop us off at the terminal or park and use the shuttle?" I looked for the shuttle and didn't see it, so I gave in to wifey's request and pulled up to the terminal. I then unload six bags-of-checking, three ons-of-carrying, two strollers strollering (?), and my wife who simply hates me. We drag the pile into the entrance, and they all wait while I go park the van. As I start walking to the terminal, I see the shuttle pulling up. I can't win.

We head into the terminal, and I proceed to do the check-in. All the boarding passes except for one of Eric's print, and we head to the counter to let them deal with the pile-o-crap. While the bags were getting checked, I talked with the station manager for AirTran a little to get caught up on where some of the old employees are (I used to work for AirTran back in '98-'99).

After getting all of that taken care of, we make our way towards security. Before that, we stop and grab a donut (of course, the boys have to get chocolate ones in an attempt to get as messy as possible before the flight). Security is a breeze, though we monopolized the conveyor belt with the carry-ons, the strollers, and the bins of pocket/shoe/belt stuff.

How do those of you with more than 2 kids do it??!!!!

We've got about 25 minutes before we're supposed to board, so we do the potty rounds. In looking at our tickets, Sheri and I are to board in Zone 6, while Aaron and Eric are to board in zone 5. I considered suggesting that we let the boys board, and we could just catch a later flight for a calm, quiet trip. Needless to say, that wouldn't have gone over very well. We gate check the strollers, make our way down the jetway, hop on the plane, and watch Aaron go straight for an empty business-class seat. After convincing him that we have to sit farther back, we get to our seats and strike up a conversation with a couple behind Sheri and Eric who are going to Disney too. It's their first time using Magical Express and staying on-site, so they were full of questions.

We blast off and are in the air in no time. I work with Aaron on the jaw-thrust technique of keeping your ears clear (for those who don't know it, if your ears are popping, just take your lower jaw and push it forward…worked wonders for me when I was flight training, and I didn't have to take my hands off the controls like I would have to if I were to do the valsalva technique). I won't bore you with the flight details…just that Eric slept a bit (good!), and Aaron mastered the jaw thrust…his ears were fine.

We landed in Atlanta and did what is becoming a tradition at KATL...the "land and sit" dance. We exited off of the active (the "outer" parallel runways) and sat on the tarmac with about 10 other flights waiting for clearance to cross the outbound active (the "inner" parallel runways). Once they get a 757 or 767 departing (because of the wake turbulence, they require the next plane to hold for a minute or so), it becomes a mad dash across the active as all the recently-landed planes scoot across and then jockey to get to their gates (complete with horns and one-fingered waves, I'm sure). We deplaned and were pleasantly surprised to see that our connection was only 5 gates away (I had visions of one of my friends (Tricia) trying to make her connection in Detroit for a cruise a few weeks before). Potty check…Eric's still dry! We hopped on the connection and noticed that there were quite a few folks from the BMI-ATL flight on this one too.

Aaron was sitting by me again this segment. An AirTran pilot grabbed a seat across the aisle from me, and Eric took an instant dislike to him ("I don't like pilots! Daddy, you like pilots, but I don't!"). He refused to take his eyes off of him, and he physically got a little closer to Mommy. I made a mental note to have a DNA test done on Eric and the UPS man as soon as we got home…any son of mine would surely love pilots. The boys again did great…Mommy helped by giving them new books and old toys to play with. On our approach into MCO, the pilot and I were engaged in a good conversation about the airline industry, Illinois, and other stuff that bored Sheri. We were landing north, so we were able to see WDW in the distance. We could make out the Golf Ball, the Swolphin, the Contemp, and Space Mountain while on our final approach. We land on time, grab our stuff, and make our way off the plane. While waiting for the gate checked strollers, the couple doing M.E. for the first time pass by us and ask where to go. We tell them that we can show them where to go once we get the strollers. The strollers come, and I realize that the baggage claim tags are attached to the ticket sleeve and that the ticket sleeve is in the pouch in front of my seat.

Great…more ammo for Sheri's eternal quest to prove I'm an idiot.

The flight attendant gets it, and we make our way up the jetway about 5 minutes later. We hoped that the couple waiting for us didn't actually wait. They were waiting, but they were doing the bathroom run. We meet up and head for the tram. It's then that I realize just how many folks from BMI were on the plane…lots of University of Illinois and Illinois State University apparel on the tram.

Off the tram and on the elevators on B-side as far down as we can go. A few minutes later we see a guy with big white hands, and hardly anyone else (WOOHOO!). Sheri and the boys head over to sit, while I get in line with the guy using M.E. for the first time. He has the M.E. envelope and asks what all he needs in order to get on the bus. After talking for a minute or two he looks in the envelope and notices that there are some yellow tags in there.

"What are these for?"

All together now….UH OH!!!

After telling him what this means, he does what all men are trained to do in situations like this…he blames it on his girlfriend/wife and hops out of line towards the baggage claim.

I get us processed, and we cross the red carpet into our line. Sheri calls her mother to let her know that we made it. Sheri pointed out an interesting thing here…when it was just us traveling, there was no need to call. With the boys, we had to let her know we made it with them. Perhaps she was worried that we would forget that we were traveling as a family and left the boys in Atlanta. While waiting in line, the boys chastise me for being in the way of their viewing of a TV with Disney commercials on it. About 13 minutes later, we're on the bus. I noticed that we weren't the first resort to get on the bus, so I expected that we'd be towards the back of the bus (another hint for all you paying attention…when on Magical Express, shoot for the front of the bus if at all possible…reason: if you are in the back, those getting off in front of you will also be in the check-in line in front of you). Surprisingly, everyone was sitting in back, so we hopped in a couple of the front rows.

We're on our way, and Eric sees his first palm trees. His comment? "JUNGLE BOOKIE!" Naturally, I start singing the song that is now in your head and probably will be for the next 2 hours.

I dare you to watch it...

You're welcome.

They start watching the video on the bus (GPS is what starts the video…interesting). Every character that pops up on the screen is called out by name by our boys. I've almost got watery eyes watching them smiling and watching…and we're not even on property yet! The bus driver gives us a countdown to the WDW sign, and the bus erupts in applause and shouts of joy as we hop on site. I figured that, since we were a value on a bus that contained folks staying at AKL and CBR, we'd be the last. Nope…we're the first stop! I look at the time…I had hoped that we would be on property by around 12:15…right on time! We get to the Pop, hop off the bus, and wait for the strollers (oops…forgot to factor in time to get those…and all those people are now in line to check in…oh well). After tipping the driver, opening up the strollers, and nearly duct-taping the boys in them, we head inside for check-in. A CM gives the boys a couple of stickers while we're waiting.

The line moves rather quickly, and, finally, it's our turn. We hop up in front of Gary, from Miami and give him our name. He gets this quizzical look on his face and states that he's heard that name before. Sheri immediately pipes up, "You checked us in last time we were here back in October!" Gary smiles and nods in agreement. Sheri and I start going back and forth with, "yeah, you lived in Danville for a while…not too far from where we are now!" I comment to him that I was thankful he didn't give a disgruntled "YOU AGAIN?!!" when we walked up. I then look at Sheri and ask her if it means we've been here too much when we start recognizing individual cast members.

He asks us where we stayed at last time. "The 90's." He pulls out a map and simply says, "where do you want this time?"

"Howabouthefifties? Arethereanyroomsavailableinthefifties?"

He clicks around for a couple of minutes and gives us the good news…we're in the Tramp building, second floor, and the room was available! We get our keys, thank Gary and tell him we'll see him next week for our next stay and are on our way! Bathroom break first, though. We head out the back door, and the overstimulation of the boys commences with all the stuff.


We head towards Tramp, and Aaron comments on the 500 foot-tall doggie (according to him). I took the long way to the elevator...didn't know the area behind the Tramp statue was open access to the elevators, and Sheri rubs it in. Up to the second floor…we get out of the elevator, look left, and see the ass of a huge dog! After laughing about the view, we turn around, take a right, take a left, turn around because I should have taken a right, then take a left, and go 4 doors down. It's our room!!!

We open the door, and the boys immediately jump out of the strollers and start jumping on the bed. Eric starts singing "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!" Then he fell off the bed and starts crying because he bumped his head (talk about irony). Other than the tears, Eric's still dry! We wrestle the boys out of their jeans and into shorts. We make sure we have what we need for the parks and head out!

Lunch first…gotta have food! I get my cheesesteak wrap (it's becoming a tradition at the Pop). The boys split a chicken fingers meal, and Sheri got fricassee of lamb (I don't remember what she had…she didn't write down anything in the journal for the first day, so I'm going to make it up as I go along for her!).

Since I foresee the length of this report rivaling War and Peace, I figured I'd do the same thing as I've done with the other trip reports andbreak the days up a little so as not to put as many people to sleep as typically do.

Day 1, Part 2 Located HERE

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