Heading Home

I don’t know exactly what time we got up, but after the long MK/DTD day getting us to bed around midnight I know it was way too early. I know we had to have our bags out front by 7:45am. Thank goodness our room was so close to the bag check area. We of course got there and two of the bags were overweight. After some fast strategic shuffling we managed to get all four checked bags under 50lbs w00t!

While I wrestled with that, Roxy checked us out and her and the girls went down to the food court to use up the last of our credits on breakfast and snacks. The ME bus was on time and we were lined up at 8:25pm sharp along with a couple of other very tired families.

I turned around and snapped one last shot of the entrance before getting on board – BYE POP and DISNEYWORLD!

I think we mostly dozed on the way to MCO. We made our way up and through security and so forth after a last quick stop at the Universal Studios gift shop. I browsed but still didn’t find anything that I had to have. The girls made some minor purchases and on we went.

No happy monorail song for the ride out to the terminal.

I still think they should put a big pair of Mickey Ears on this tower

There’s our terminal

We reached the gate after a pit stop and had a 30 minute wait before the flight. From the ME bus and forward every time Bean had an opportunity to sit she would pull out a sketch of Stitch she had been working on. She had been free-handing a full page representation of the Stitch on the Stitch starter pin set that was so well represented on her hat.

She received several compliments on it at MCO and lots of people stopped to look over her shoulder as she sketched. I’ll get a pic posted of it somewhere between here and final thoughts 😉

Soon enough our group was called and we herded onto our plane, which had a 5hr flight time to SLC

The flight was a blur as we dozed through a chunk of it. It is so nice to be able to sleep through the long haul flights. We landed in SLC and were in for a 3 ½hr layover before our flight home.

Knowing this ahead of time I had procured 4 one day passes to Delta’s Sky Lounge. No lousy terminal seats and loud noise for us. We spent the next 3+ hours in comfortable chairs with free wi-fi, a good selection of snacks, and an open bar!

I hadn’t really done much drinking at the parks, but here I had several vodka w/cranberry & OJ that were oh so good and made the rest of the trip a breeze. Roxy stuck to coffee and soda and the girls started with hot cocoas and moved on to Shirley temples. I believe our dear Bean had 4 or 5 of them!

About an hour before flight time it started to snow

I checked at the desk up front and they said our flight was still set to leave on time so as the time drew near we left the comfort of the Sky Lounge and headed back into the hustle and bustle of the terminal. Luckily we were only one terminal over from where our flight was departing from so it was a pretty short walk to our gate.

Boarding went fine, but once we got in it still looked like this

It was still actively snowing when we pulled away from our gate ..and promptly stopped and sat for the next 1/2hr . There was a backlog at the deicing station that ended up delaying our takeoff by about 45 minutes 


Ah well, we eventually got sprayed off and got into the air and the 1 1/2hr flight home was a breeze. Once on the ground I called the Super8 so they could send their shuttle to pick us up. Baggage claim seemed to take forever to get going but we were eventually outside and were greeted by our driver and a shuttle van. This was a relief to us since we had been dropped off in a little dodge station wagon thing that us and our bags only fit in after I used my military packing skills.

The hotel was only a mile away and he was able to park right next to our rig. A quick transfer of luggage, tipping of the driver, and warming up of the suburban and we were on our way to pick up the dogs from the sitters. We talked with the sitters (who are old friends of ours) for a little while and then hit the road for home a quick 30 minutes away.

Once home I unloaded the luggage and we all collapsed. The next day was Sunday so at least Roxy and the girls had that to rest before work and school came back at them. I had taken the upcoming Monday off to do laundry and put away the toiletries and such so Roxy wouldn’t have to deal with it. I can tell you it was a pretty low energy weekend.

And by the time the weekend was over both Bean and I were sick with some cold/flu thing that was different from what Roxy and PumpkinGirl had been suffering from. We must have picked it up on the trip back. And PumpkinGirl’s head cold actually got worse with a chronic cough kicking in with her back in the cold, wet weather of Oregon in December.

Thankfully Roxy was feeling better and was able to function at work. The girls and I spent the next week or so home sick. I am just thankful that it didn’t hit Bean or I until we got back home.

That’s about it; we always seem to come back from these things a mess ;D

Final Thoughts

Hello All,

Sorry it has taken a bit to get back over here and post those final thoughts. You know the deal all that RL stuff gets in the way.

I took the finished product of the TR and copied it into a series of local webpages so I could put them on an USB stick and show them to Roxy’s mom at her assisted living apartment. It has been great in that I’ve been able to go back over the whole trip and keep it fresh in my mind.

Before I get into my thoughts I want to handle the requests from my dedicated TR readers:


No, I didnt get any pictures of the swag it was honestly not very Christmassy anyways. Both girls pretty much focused on Anime/Manga stuff from the Japan pavilion. Other than that PumpkinGirl got a few pins and some earrings. Bean picked up a LOT of Stitch pins, the Stitch stuffy, and her dragons – which are showcased in the window pic towards the end of the TR.

Roxy had picked up several items on our trip the year before so she didn’t do any real shopping for herself, nothing really called out to her. I focused on random pins plus one Mickey Head Pirate Shirt.

Bean Stitch Pic:

The next request was for the picture Bean drew of Stitch on the way back home:

She used one of her pins as the reference and I think she did a great job!

On with those Thoughts:

First off: Disney during the Holidays WOW!

It was pretty amazing and so very magical. From the decorations to the special events to the general feel Disney does a fantastic job of representing the holiday season. And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the job that Universal did for their park.

The difference between the two is that in 3 days I feel like I experienced everything that Universal had to offer in their parks for the season. But with our 5 days at Disney I feel like we barely scratched the surface!

For Resorts:

– We only checked out the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, and the Yacht Club, along with our home resort POP and Art of Animation so LOTS more to see on that end.

For Events:

– We did Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but as you read it wasn’t the best experience so we’ll contemplate giving that another go with a sleep in/restful resort day beforehand.
– We decided not to do the Candlelight Processional, which the girls didn’t care about but I know it is something Roxy and I will see sometime down the road.
Holidays Around the World in World Showcase was very cool and is worth the time if you haven’t done it yet.
The Osborne Lights were amazing and I know we’ll want to experience that one again.
Mickeys Jingle Jungle Parade didn’t do it and nobody in the family seems to have missed it. I think I’m the only one in the family who is truly into parades.
The Festival of the Seasons at DTD just seemed to make the place more crowded the decorations were nice though.
– I would also like to do the Carriage/Sleigh Ride through Fort Wilderness
– I’m sure there’s more but that’s what I know of as a novice holiday DISer
– As an honorable mention I do think you should check out the Macys Holiday Parade at Universal and Grinchmas at Islands if you have the opportunity.

Okay, I think that covers the Holiday-specific content other than answering the question would you want to come back and do it again at this time of year?

– That would be a BIG YES for me! The timeframe coming in at the end of November and staying through that first week of December was just perfect event/weather/crowd-wise. The weather was just fantastic, sticking between 75-80 degrees with basically zero precipitation and very low humidity.

Crowds topped out around a 5 out of 10 (with the exception of DTD) and most times it was lower than a 5. I could see doing the exact same trip on the same days, except stretching it out a few more days 😉

Best Moments of the trip:

– The Peter Pan and Aladdin/Jasmine interactions with the girls
– All of the SMILES!!!!
– Christmas lights on everything
– The girls and I being called out to participate in the Singing Ladies in Red routine in the Italy pavilion
– Bean doing the big “aaaaahahahaaa!” pose under Ursula at Art of Animation
– The girls handling so much of the camera duties and doing such a GREAT JOB with it!
– Bean finally getting to ride the Jurassic Park River Adventure
– Getting the then and now shots of the girls at different spots at WDW/US
– PumpkinGirl finally meeting Mulan
– Snow on Main Street and the Streets of America
– Panoramas!
– Dinner at Le Cellier
– All of the great family PhotoPass pics!
– Walking through EPCOT for our Akershus reservation and feeling like we had the whole park to ourselves
– Bean going Stitch-crazy
– PumpkinGirl’s great interactions with the Princesses at Akershus
– The Norway Christmas Story
– Getting to spend quality one-on-one time with both of my daughters
– The girls finally getting to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
– Getting so completely soaked with my girls in Toon Lagoon
– The girls mostly getting along
– Characters, Characters, Characters!
– PumpkinGirl finally getting to ride Minion Mayhem
– PumpkinGirl and Roxy bonding over their enjoyment of The Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue
– Scaring the Whos with our Grinch shirts in Seuss Landing
– Bean being able to make up for her sick day by having such a good time at AK on our Daddy/Daughter day
– MaW moment at the Merida character meet

Worst Moments of the Trip:

– Roxy and PumpkinGirl suffering with head colds the whole trip and Bean getting sick on our AK/MVMCP day
– Not getting a date night with Roxy
– Missing Wishes and the parades during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
– Wizarding World of Harry Potter not having the Dancers/Acrobats/Singers anymore (other than for static posed shots)
– Realizing that I cant walk 30 miles through 8 straight days of theme-parking anymore without my feet basically saying ‘stop or I wont carry you anymore’
– Not a worst moment, just a regret not pushing the “No Muggles” button on the elevator in Hogwarts
– Another regret not being able to do any DISmeets

As you can see the Best far outweighed the Worst so big YAY for that!!!!!

E Ticket Family Ride Stats:

– Tower of Terror 4 times
– Rock’n Roller Coaster 3 times
– Soarin’ 1 time
– Haunted Mansion 4 times
– Pirates of the Caribbean 3 times
– Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 2 times
– Splash Mountain 2 times
– Expedition Everest 6 times!!
– Dinosaur 5 times

I can tell you that being a west-coaster, specifically coming from the northwest, makes any journey to WDW an involved one. Just the cost of flying 4 people coast to coast and coupling it with the 14+hrs involved in getting there or back makes one really think about making the trip. But even with the hiccups and roadblocks we always come away with more than enough new magical memories to make it worthwhile.

I’m so happy that we decided to go when we did in the girls life. They were truly able to enjoy the parks with a bit of that kid-like wonder that they had when they were younger. By the time we do our next family trip (which will be to DLR) PumpkinGirl will be in college and Bean will be a sophomore in HS.

And by the time we make it back to WDW they will both be adults and who knows if they will even want to/be able to go. No matter what the future holds well be able to look back on this amazing trip and smile.

For specifics in our future here is my off the cuff thoughts (plus my recap of what actually happened those years)

2013camping/pirate festivals (ended up doing NorCal Pirate Fest along with “kind of” camping at the Petaluma KOA plus the kid’s first KumoriCon)
2014 – PumpkinGirl’s HS Grad/Roxy & our 20th Wedding Anniversary trip to San Fran (ended up doing Willy Wonka, Kyra’s grad, Canal Creek & Grayback Camping, our 20th at an area Bed and Breakfast and KumoriCon again)
2015 – Disneyland Trip (ended up doing NewCon and Mary Poppins, plus a rained-out Grayback camping trip)
2016 – camping/pirate festivals (ended up doing B-Day Brookings trip, The Outsiders, Dean’s Wedding, and Amanda’s Wedding)
2017 – Beans HS Grad (ended up doing another B-Day at the coast, Medford Comic-Con, Jinx’s Grad, seeing Shinedown/New Politics/311, Sherlock melodrama, and Disneyland for Kyra’s 21st B-Day)
2018 – camping/pirate festivals (ended up doing 4 coast trips, Maria and I visited Grandma Dollface and Papa John, and KumoriCon)
2019 – Roxy & My 25th Wedding Anniversary/Disney Alaskan Cruise (ended up doing several coast trips including for our 25th anniversary and one at the end of the year with our new RV. Plus Medford and Meadowlark Comic-Con, and Jinx and I finally on stage together in “It’s A Wonderful Life”)

And of course 2020 brought us back to WDW/Universal for Jinx’s 21st B-Day despite all of the COVID weirdness. And we’ll finally be taking that Alaskan Cruise with the whole family in October of 2022!

Now back to our story…

As the last part of my final thoughts I usually do a top 10 (or so) favorite pictures from the trip in no particular order. This is a REALLY TOUGH ONE given that I have over 2,700 pictures in this TR. Sooooo, I’m going to cheat. I’m posting my top 20 non-family pics in this post and will immediately do a separate post of my top 25 of family-related pics!


Tree and Balloons

Looking back towards the Hub at DHS from ToT

Big finale of IJSS

Merida’s expression while talking to PumpkinGirl

Catching the air cannon going off during Harbor Attack on the Backlot Tour

EPCOT is Ours!

Toon Lagoon at Night

Castle at Night

PumpkinGirl’s capture of Drac jumping during the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue

Osborne Lights

Indy and Marian falling from the rooftop during IJSS

Shot of Universals Nighttime Spectacular

Macy’s Tree at Universal

Main Street hub

Jack Sparrow saying Only you ..Can Be a Pirate!

Rivers of America

DHS Tree and ToT

Castle and Carousel

SE from the Japan Pavilion

Tomorrowland Terrace


Roxy’s Smile

Fam on Streets of America at DHS

Bean hamming it up with Ursula at AoA

MVMCP Snow on Main Street Shot

Bellhop Photobomb at elevators in ToT

Ariel discovering that Ursula has stolen PumpkinGirls voice!

Grinches with Santa Grinch

Cotton Candy!

The fam with Mickey and Minnie

Osborne Lights Pic

MVMCP Castle Shot

Ladies in front of Hogsmeade Village

Soaked at Toon Lagoon

Bean and I with Gru

PumpkinGirl with Mulan

Bean and I blowing a raspberry on RnRC

Bean and I going whaaaaat? on Dinosaur

Tigger about to surprise Bean

Girls with Snow White at Akershus

Bean kicking back and talking to Pan

PumpkinGirl doing the same

The fam at 1900

Girls with Aladdin & Jasmine

Roxy giving a smooch

Bean sipping yet another Shirley Temple on the trip home

There were MANY more but I had to stop myself from just re-posting the whole TRs worth of pictures.

I hope you have all enjoyed sharing our magical journey. Thank you for all who have posted and also to those who have silently read along. I appreciate all of the good Disney mojo that comes from making a TR and how it keeps the magic going long after we have pulled into our driveway from our Disney adventure!

Cheers and have a Disneytastic Day!