Our Grand Family Adventure to Walt Disney World and Sea World Orlando

It is late spring of 2006 and a spark of an idea starts to grow in the dark recesses of a slightly unsettled mind. A mind sitting loosely in the cranium of our intrepid planner, prodder, and born again Disney fan. The idea is to have members from his and his wife’s family all meet for a meet/reunion at The Land That Walt Made 


Below you will find some handy buttons to take you to each day of our amazing family adventure!

The grand idea and Cast of Characters

After many e-mails, phone calls, and the occasional misinterpreted hand gesture a timeframe of January 9th – 18th, 2008 as our “go time.” And with that our basic cast of characters was set:

Me, I’m Mike (38) – I work as a network administrator and help desk coordinator at a community college – I keep the computers talking. 

 I enjoy photography, camping, bowling, and computer/PS2 games. I’m currently working my way up through the ranks on Pirates of the Caribbean Online (the whole family actually plays) 

My Wife Roxanne/Roxy (33) – She is an executive assistant at a precision machine shop. Along with that she’s a verified SuperMom, doing work for Kyra’s PTO, acting as secretary for Gillian’s PTA, working at the gym where both girls go, and coaching Gillian’s volleyball team. And her bowling team is currently in 1st place and jus won their last block – w00t!

Our Daughter Kyra/PumpkinGirl (11) – dealing with the transition to middle school and the increased homework load, she’s a dedicated student, former gymnast, and is currently in the playoffs for volleyball along with getting ready for the competition season for cheerleading 

 In the spring she also does fastpitch softball.

Our Daughter Gillian/Bean (8) – this is our free spirit/daredevil 

 She likes to run and jump and play and does gymnastics off and on along with softball. To give you an idea about the kind of kid she is – she rode Tower of Terror at Disneyland 5 times at the age of 5!

My Mom Mariah/Grandma Dollface (62) – She does some office work in relation to my Pop’s job and is very big into genealogy – tracing branches of the family tree back to 1673 in Scotland. She has post-polio syndrome but doesn’t let it slow her down. She’ll be motoring around on one of those scooters in the parks.

My stepdad John/Pop (60) – works as an industrial park manager, construction foreman, and general jack of all trades for a guy who owns properties in a half dozen states. He lives to work and will never retire if he can help it.

Roxy’s Mom Ann/Nana (66) – She’s the office manager at the same place Roxy works at. She’s struggling with the transition to retirement but is getting to the point where her health isn’t going to let her keep working full time. She has sciatic, hip, and back issues and is also going to be getting around on with some help via an electric wheelchair.

My Sister Maria (42) – She works for a newspaper and is an amateur photographer. She just e-mailed me and said she’d be there for the first part of our trip – yay!!!

Here’s a pic of Kyra

And one of Gillian

And one of the whole fam from a friend’s wedding reception

OK, for background I went to Disneyland when I was 7 years old, but it was just a day there and it was part of a week-long theme park hopping adventure put together by my parents and was all a blur.  I only really remember the bicentennial theming (we went in ’76) and the electric light parade, along with Pirates of the Caribbean.

Roxy went to Walt Disney World as a kid and also only had one day there, mostly spent at EPCOT and left feeling like she missed most of the magic.

I was born in Georgia and bounced around through Tennessee, California, and then spent the bulk of my childhood in Arizona.  My fam moved to southern Oregon when I was 15 and I did HS there except for my senior year, which was done partially back in Georgia (long story). 

I did 4 years in the Army as a rocket artilleryman and did time at Ft. Sill, OK, Ft Hood, TX, and Baumholder, Germany.  I was in Germany to see the Berlin Wall come down, which was very cool.  I was also in during Desert Storm, but our unit didn’t deploy so I spent it pulling 12-hr gate guard shifts in the snow making sure our Bavarian paradise didn’t get invaded by a non-existent terrorist threat.

When I got out I worked for a year before going to college, where I met Roxy.  We were married less than a year after that and have been together for 14 years.  We rented an apartment, then a house, then bought our first house – a palatial 900 sq. ft. – lol  We lived there for several years, but when our 2nd daughter was on the way we decided that we needed a bigger place.

Roxy’s mom Ann owned a house in the same town and her health/mobility started to go downhill.  We decided to try out living together and splitting the expenses and amazingly enough it worked out, giving her some help doing things and us some help looking after the wee ones.  We did a big remodel and added 1,100 sq. ft., bringing the place to just over 2,600 sq. ft. total!  It is now a 5 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath including 2 master suites with spa tubs 😀

Back to the Disney side of things we realized that our girls hadn’t had the experience and we wanted to give ourselves the ability to have a longer, more enjoyable time there.  We’re west-coasters so it was an easy choice to go to Disneyland.  We did a 3-day package there in January of 2005 doing Disneyland and California Adventure.  We went there with my brother-in-law Robert and his fam.

It happened to be a time of pretty bad rains and even mudslides in the hills, which scared most of the populace away from the parks.  It was overcast 50%, drizzled 40%, and was full-on downpour the other 10%.  The rain itself wasn’t an issue since Oregon is a pretty wet place, and the temps were 65-70 degrees, which for us was workable. 

The end result was only a couple of rides being closed (unfortunately including Haunted Mansion – grrrr) and us being able to ride all the rides we wanted.  The longest wait we had was 10 minutes other than waiting for timed shows.  We rode everything at least once and several rides multiple times – in some cases not even having to get off.

I know we won’t get that lucky as far as ride waits when we go to WDW, but I’ll be happy with whatever the outcome is.  To keep the kiddos engaged as the trip approached I came up with a countdown calendar – each day one of the kiddos get to remove a Mickey Head

I think that’s enough of the background stuff, now we’ll delve a bit into what I have planned for our grand adventure!


(AKA best laid plans and all that)

Mon, Jan 7
Breakfast: at home
9:30am flight to SFO
Lunch: At the airport
1pm flight to MCO
Arrive in Orlando at 9:21pm
Drive to Embassy Suites for 1 night stay

Tues, Jan 8
Breakfast: at Embassy Suites
Check out
Lunch: McDonalds w/largest play area in the world (DD’s saw it on TV and are insisting …darned Travel Channel – hehehe)
Ripley’s Museum
Check in at Grand Beach Phase II on Lake Bryan
Settle in/hang out
Dinner: Pirates Adventure Dinner at 8:30pm

Wed, Jan 9 – Magic Kingdom (9am-7pm) – DTD (9am-11pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Try to be there for rope drop
Hit Tomorrowland and some of Fantasyland
Rope drop at Toontown
Lunch: counter service
More rides and then decide if we will…
…Stay for Dreams parade – watch from Liberty Square HC area
Try to hit Pirates before lines form back up then leave
…Just head back to the resort to rest for the afternoon
Head to DTD for dinner/shopping
Dinner: Reservations at Fulton’s Crab House at 7pm (Dad’s 61st B-day!)
Walk off some of that good seafood by checking out the shops

Thu, Jan 10 – EPCOT (Future World 9am-7pm/World Showcase 11am-9pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Be there for Future World rope drop
Go for FP for Test Track while fam gets in line for Soarin’
Maybe check out the Land Pavilion
Check out Living Seas Pavilion & do Turtle Talk
Maybe ride Test Track
Get FP for Mission: SPACE
Lunch: counter service at Sunshine Seasons
Go on Mission: SPACE
Hit Maelstrom and/or the Grand Fiesta Tour
Back to the resort to rest for a bit
Dinner: ADRs – Coral Reef 4:30pm
Hit whatever else catches our eye/isn’t too crowded until Illuminations 9pm

Fri, Jan 11 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios (9am-7pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Be there for rope drop
Try and beat the crowd to Rock “N” Roller Coaster/Tower of Terror
Get fastpasses for Rock “N” Roller Coaster and get in main line
Do Tower of Terror and then Fastpass Rock “N” Roller Coaster
Hit MuppetVision
maybe do another attraction or two depending on lines
Go back to resort for a leisurely lunch and rest
Back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Stars and Motorcars parade at 3pm
Hit some more attractions
Dinner: Reservations for Fantasmic! Dining package at Hollywood and Vine at 5pm
Wander around a bit to walk off dinner
Fantasmic! At 7pm
Back to resort

Sat, Jan 12 – SeaWorld (9am-6pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Walk around and catch shows
Lunch: counter service
See more shows/exhibits
Leave when we’re tired
Dinner: at resort
Have a restful evening

Sun, Jan 13 – SeaWorld (9am-6pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Leisurely morning at resort
Lunch: at resort
Back to Sea World
Catch whatever we hadn’t seen on Saturday
Dinner: SeaWorld Orlando’s Backstage at Believe…Dine with Shamu

Mon, Jan 14 – Typhoon Lagoon (10am-5pm)/Magic Kingdom (9am-8pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Be at Typhoon Lagoon when it opens
Splash splash splash
Lunch: counter service
Leave when we’re tired/done being wet
Back to the resort to rest
Head to MK between 4 & 5pm
Catch a couple of fast passes or just check out the shops
Dinner at Pecos Bill’s (counter service) at 6pm eat outside by the fence for Spectromagic Parade
Wishes Fireworks show

Tue, Jan 15 – Animal Kingdom (9am – 5pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Be there for rope drop – go in via Rainforest Cafe’s separate entrance
Get FP for Expedition Everest on the way to the ride so we can ride it twice without too much of a wait ;-]
Head to Dinoland USA
If the timing is right go to Finding Nemo The Musical
otherwise let the kids ride Primeval Whirl
Back to Asia for Kali River Rapids & Maharajah Jungle Trek
It’s Tough to Be a Bug
Get Fastpasses for Kilimanjaro Safari
Lunch: Flame Tree Barbeque (counter service)
Hit Kilimanjaro Safari
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
See Festival of the Lion King
4pm Catch Jammin’ Jungle Parade
Wander & shop
Dinner: Reservation at Rainforest Café 5pm
Back to the resort

Wed, Jan 16 – EPCOT (FW 9am-7pm/WS 11am-9pm)
Breakfast: at resort
Get to EPCOT when we feel like it
Check out the different country exhibits
Check out anything else we didn’t have time for on the first day
Fastpasses for either Soarin or Mission: SPACE
Lunch: counter service
Use Fastpasses
Leisurely strolling/checking out more exhibits
Back to resort to rest
Dinner: Reservation at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion 5:10pm
Hit whatever else catches our eye/isn’t too crowded until
IllumiNations (if we have the energy)

Thu, Jan 17 – Discovery Cove (9am – 5:30pm)
Breakfast: provided at DC
Lunch: provided at DC
Dinner: Thai Thani – just down the road from DC

Fri, Jan 18 – Magic Kingdom (9am – 8pm)/Downtown Disney (9:30am – 11:30pm)
Breakfast: at resort
At MK for rope drop
Route will depend on what we were able to get through on 1st MK day
Lunch: Reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table at 12:15pm
Try for FastPasses on rides we really need “one more time” on
Catch ‘Dreams’ one last time
Do a couple of more rides or head back to resort
At some point head to Downtown Disney so the ladies can shop one last time 

Back to MK
Dinner: Find a spot around 7pm at the Plaza Pavilion for Wishes
Wander around and catch another ride or two – stay until they kick us out

Sat, Jan 19 – Heading Home :(
Breakfast: on the way to airport/at airport
8am flight to SFO
Lunch: at SFO while we wait for connecting flight
12:45pm flight home
Arrive at home around 3pm