I just couldn't wait to start a pre trip report...I think I'm about 97 days away from leaving now for Orlando (booked our package Thursday night online and then made slight changes to it and got nearly all the meal reservations I wanted on Friday - still haven't heard from my mom if all those sit-down dinners are okay with her, hehe). I'll try to not make the pre-trip part too long, I promise (if any of you read my two trip reports on TGM, you know I can get wordy). Well, let me back up a bit and just give a hopefully quick background story of my history with Disney World.
I'd wanted to go there for YEARS as a kid (and as a grownup) and my family never went. I grew up in California (I have lived in Colorado since early 2004) and was used to going to Disneyland once or twice a year ever since around 1972 when I was two years old and cried on "It's a Small World" (somewhere, someone in the family has a photo of my grandma holding me over her shoulder on the ride while I'm bawling - I guess those creepy little dolls freaked me out at that time). Anyway, life went on and I grew to like that ride and others, and it was nice to live about 30-45 minutes away (by freeway) from Disneyland. When Disney's CA Adventure park opened across the way, well, there went all the close parking spaces to Disneyland Proper - but I went to DCA once some time after it opened, with my sister and a friend of hers, and honestly didn't remember that much about it. I think we rode "Soarin' Over California" and saw the Bug's Life show ("It's Tough to be a Bug") and I had photos of what were supposed to be fake movie star trailers (as in, where Cruella DeVil lived while "filming" 101 Dalmatians) and that's all I remember. Other than the two attractions I mentioned, it seemed pretty boring (take note: it's not boring any more...they have plenty of good stuff, just not as much as at Disneyland). So, as I got older, for some reason real life took over and I hardly ever went to Disneyland any more. The final place where I lived, in Orange County, was only a couple miles from Huntington Beach - and I rarely went to the beach! That's how much adult "real life" takes over and keeps you from doing what you used to do when you were younger. My hubby (married him in September 2001 and had known him since 1998) had been to Disneyland a few times during his childhood - he grew up in the high desert area of California (think Barstow, Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia if you're familiar with those areas) so it was rare when his family would get out "into civilization" and do stuff that I'd grown up doing (all the theme parks, for example). He hates crowds, by the way. Fastpasses are his best friends at Disneyland now (once we knew how to use them....so far I've only used them on two different days there, and I'm so glad they exist). He thinks that when we go back there some day (I've been there with him twice now, two Decembers in a row when we've gone back to visit our families over Christmas) we'd just keep going back and forth between Space Mtn and Big Thunder Mtn Railroad, collecting Fastpasses as the new windows open for them. That's alright with me, because I think our daughter is starting to tire of the kiddie rides - she's a real thrill seeker now.
That brings me to our daughter, Kimberly. She turned six in late May. The year she turned 4, we took her on a Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral (our first time in Florida) in November 2009. It was great, and she met her first Disney characters (Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Goofy....we never did catch up with Donald or Pluto on that trip - Donald proved to be kind of elusive, as did the Chipmunks - and we missed the special Tiana meet but we eventually met them all later at Disneyland and Disney World). With everyone trapped on a cruise ship out at sea (this was one of the shorter cruises...we only stopped at Castaway Cay once and at Nassau. Castaway Cay was well worth it, but Nassau not so much), the lines are somewhat shorter to meet the characters when you're only in line with all the other passengers and not an entire theme park, hehe.
And then in December 2009 we took Kimberly to Disneyland for the first time. And I hadn't been there in a very long time by that point. Busiest I'd ever seen it. It scared Hubby off big time. It was the Monday after Christmas (with Christmas being on a Friday that year, I think). We didn't know about special touring plans then....actually, all I knew was to do Dumbo first thing and then get through Fantasyland. Well, that only works if you're there when the park opens. We got there, had to buy our tickets, and were on Main Street around 11 am. Met Pluto, almost got to meet the chipmunks but they left before we could get to them (that had happened before, on the cruise). I had Hubby, my sister, my parents, my daughter and my grandma (in a wheelchair) with me and there was no way they'd all be there for rope drop. We got to Dumbo around 12 noon. Suffice to say, we really only got on about five rides that day. Saw a great Christmas parade, though, with good seats, and had a nice dinner. Three of the rides we rode were after dinner, after my parents and grandma left to go home. And that was the first time Kimberly rode Star Tours - which she LOVED. She had been on motion simulator type stuff before, at places like iT'Z and Chuck E Cheese (basically, all your family friendly buffet-pizza-fun-arcade-ride places). This was before Star Tours was revamped, of course, and we'd all been on it several times before (to the point where some of us were "ho hum" about the ride), but Kimberly enjoyed it so much at age 4 - and being tall enough to ride - that we all just enjoyed watching her enjoy it. Disneyland's Star Tours is in Tomorrowland, so right after we rode that we went over and rode Buzz Lightyear's ride. Video game, none of us were very good at it but it was fun to do once. We tried to ride the train afterwards but it had stopped running (getting close to fireworks time, and Fantasmic). Tried to get over to Pirates but the line got very long after the Fantasmic show ended just across the way and all those people got in line. We had pushed the rental stroller "against the stream" of people to get there on foot, and by that point, Hubby was done. Time to go home. Sis and her friend (who met us there with her Annual Pass) stayed and said later that the line was only 30 minutes, but we left with the fireworks going on behind us and Kimberly slept from the moment she got on the bus to the parking lot all the way until the next morning.
Hubby decided then that he wasn't going to go with us on our WDW trip in May 2010 (which had been planned and booked already). So, that WDW trip went on with just my sister (who met us in Orlando from Houston) and Kimberly. It was my sister Jenn's second visit (she went there with her work group once, on business, doing some leadership convention or something - so she saw a lot but not everything and had special seats for Fantasmic, etc.) but first time ever for Kimberly and me. Thanks to the help we got on TGM we had a GREAT time, and Jenn benefited from my touring plans and strategies that I'd learned from the TGMers (a lot of them are here with easyWDW now). We did rope drops at every park except for Animal Kingdom (and we were only about 40 minutes late...still managed to do all we had planned there). Did one day at each park (I couldn't believe we managed Magic Kingdom and got it all done by 6 pm including two long meet'n'greets to see Ariel with her prince and Tiana with her prince). At that time Kimberly was I think 42 inches tall (she's little for her age but she has a lot of spunk) so she couldn't ride Space Mtn, Expedition Everest and maybe a couple other things that we never told her about anyway. We steered clear of the 48" height requirement rides, and RnRC was shut down for refurbishment the week we were there anyway. We took her on Tower of Terror, though - and note that she expressed no concern about it whatsoever until we started dropping in the elevator. After the ride, she cried for ten minutes, swearing, "I'll never ride that again!" over and over. And to this day she won't ride it. Even a couple days after that, when we were at Magic Kingdom, she refused to ride Haunted Mansion. Maybe I should have just called it Mansion, leaving out the word Haunted. Someday she might ride it but not in the foreseeable future. We didn't ride HM that trip. And she hid her eyes during most of the Beauty and the Beast Live show (why do they show all the scary parts in that condensed version of the movie? And I don't think there's any mention of Belle's father at all), but overall she enjoyed it when it wasn't scary. Didn't stick around to see Fantasmic - I figured it would scare her too much and we'd have to leave the show early. I even had a F!Dinner Package that I wound up canceling and just having a regular ADR at Brown Derby (which we enjoyed immensely...the food was great and it wasn't crowded at all, but we dined pretty early....it was around 4 pm when we came in out of the heat and asked if they could seat us earlier than our reservation time. No problem).
I'll end here and continue later in case this post might be too long.