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The Gator Family's WDW Trip

XGatorHead 8904

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Yes, Avatar, it's finally here! ;) I really liked the way you set yours up, so I'm going to follow the same model.

Around January or February of this year we got a flier in the mail for 40% off WDW Value Resort rooms during certain times of the year. We noticed that many of these times were during the school year, and since GatorGirl isn’t in school yet that was perfect for us. We made our reservations for Pop Century back in March, and counted down the months to GatorGirl’s third visit to the World.

We typically do two parks with a day of rest in between. Two years ago was just MK, last year was MK and Epcot, so we decided on MK and Studios this year. I was put in charge of the video camera, and Mrs. Gator took most of the still photos, with a few exceptions. Note: We took the least pictures on Day 1, so in the parts to follow, there will be more of them!

On this trip, we even had some magical moments which I will highlight, as well as some of the best customer service we’ve ever had there or anywhere.

Day 1: Saturday, Sept. 13th - Epcot

We flew out of CVG to Orlando with no problems. Our flight landed around 3:00, and we had made plans to meet our friends Paul and Aaron at Epcot around 5:00. So we had two hours to get our luggage, get our rental car (where I had a heck of a time figuring out the installation of the rental child seat), drive to Pop Century, check in, and get to Epcot. To save time, we decided to have Mrs. Gator run in to Pop Century to get our room situated, and we would take our stuff to the room after Epcot. Our room was in the 70’s section, appropriate because 2 of us were born in the early part of that decade and remember the latter part pretty well!

Paul and Aaron had originally made reservations at Tokyo Dining for us, but after looking at the menu online, there wasn’t much that GatorGirl would have eaten (even though there was plenty on there that sounded wonderful to us adults). Paul works for Disney, and Aaron, his brother, is an annual pass holder there. Whenever we go, we let them pick the place to eat since they have much more knowledge on the subject than we do. Two years ago we went to Mama Melrose's at Studios, and last year was Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. Both were very excellent choices. So with Tokyo Dining out of the picture, they were able to make reservations at Garden Grill for a character buffet dinner and at Chefs de France. On our way to the park we decided on Chefs de France since we were doing a character buffet meal the next morning, and we rarely have French food.

We met Paul and Aaron at the gate and walked back to France. I had the Jarret d'agneau, tian de legumes (or braised lamb shank with ratatouille vegetables). Mrs. Gator had the Filet de Saumon, salade de choux avec pomme et mais, coulis aux herbes (or broiled salmon served on mixed cabbage with cubed apple and corn salad, fresh herb vinaigrette). My lamb was wonderful, extremely tender, and the veggies were very good as well. And Mrs. Gator was very happy with her choice as well. Despite the good selection on the kids menu, GatorGirl didn’t want to eat anything and was very cranky. We would eventually find out late that night why…

After dinner, we decided to take in a few rides. We had told GatorGirl the day before that we were going to Epcot too, and ever since that point she kept asking if we were going to ride rides (that’s my girl!). We walked through World Showcase on the way to Norway, since we missed riding Maelstrom last year. We found out on the ride that GatorGirl definitely does not like trolls! She hid in my lap when we got to that part of the ride. Next was Gran Fiesta Tour at Mexico, where she did much better …she liked this one last year and we had to cheer her up after those pesky trolls! She can handle that troublemaker Donald Duck better than them.

We moved on to Future World, and snapped this pic along the way.


Our first stop in Future World was The Seas with Nemo and Friends. A cute ride with a LONG queue line. Both times we’ve ridden it it’s been a walk-on, but I can see why they made the queue area so long for those busy days. We just love the EAC section of the ride, it makes you feel that you’re going way faster than you are. And I'm still trying to figure out how they get Nemo and the gang in the real fishtank!

On the way to Turtle Talk with Crush, we had an encounter with Bruce. Doesn’t he know “Gators are friends, not food!”


GatorGirl sat in the front on her own at Turtle Talk, and even raised her hand to ask a question, but I guess Crush didn’t see my little offspring… We asked her later what she wanted to ask him, and she wanted to know why turtles have shells.

We left The Seas, and we kind of started gravitating towards The Land. As much as we would have loved to have ridden Soarin’ again, I didn’t feel like dealing with an unhappy three year old since we didn’t have to much time left in the park. So we headed to Spaceship Earth.

This was rehabbed since our last visit, and we liked the addition of the screens in the pods. After you leave the ride, you can send a postcard from the future to yourself. Apparently this is what GatorGirl and I will look like in the future.


I thought she would have grown a little by then.

We left the park while Illuminations was going on behind us. I know a lot of people love this show, but it’s never really done much for me. Maybe I just haven’t watched it from the right place or something, but there seems to be a lot of “down” time during it, especially when all that is going on is the globe. Give me a straight out fireworks show like Wishes instead, and I’m happy.

We parted ways with Paul and Aaron, and drove back to the resort to unload our car. Mrs. Gator and GatorGirl fell asleep fairly quickly, but as usual, I stayed up.


And now the reason GatorGirl didn’t eat dinner…

At about 11:45, GatorGirl starts vomiting in the bed. This wakes up Mrs. Gator next to her, and we quickly grab towels, garbage cans and anything else we can think of to help clean up the mess. We called the front desk to have Mousekeeping bring replacement bedding and towels, and they said they would have someone there in 30 minutes. GatorGirl’s forehead was hot, so we also asked them where we could get some medicine. They told us the store in the main building had it, and if it was closed when we got there the manager would get it for me.

As I was leaving to get the medicine, there was a knock on the door. It was Rose, our Mousekeeper, with all the linens we needed. She was there in about three minutes after the call, not the thirty that we were told. ^_^ Rose was very helpful and understanding, and we could not apologize enough for the big mess.

The store was still open, so I got the Children’s Tylenol and headed back to the room. We gave GatorGirl a couple doses throughout the night, and hoped that she would be well enough for the rest of our WDW visit.

Will GatorGirl get better? Or will we need to completely change our plans? Does a spoonful of sugar actually help the medicine go down? Tune in Wednesday for Day 2: Touring the Resorts, in which we receive a visit from Mary Poppins, to find out!

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XGatorhead8904 – what do you mean finally, I was hoping you would have taken more time. In your post in the thread of your trip report from your last day at KI you said that you would be working on this report, so I said to myself that when he gets his Florida report up I will do my last day report. Looks like another evening is planned for this week. I like your style on your report I feel right at home Ha ha ha.

I am enjoying your report and descriptions that had to be a stressful first couple hours. I have never dinned at the any of the French restaurants, I knew someone who did and said the portions where so small that they had to eat after they left. Sounds like we may need to go now after reading you description. I like you Spaceship Earth picture and you would think your daughter would be a least a little older looking not to mention a bit more grey hair for you.

Sorry to hear Gator Girl was so ill on your first night I hope it got better, and we had a similar incident on our first trip where the Maid at 12:30 at night was right there when we needed extra towels.

Just a bit of warning if you announce when your next part will be up, some smarty pants may call you on it if you get delayed. I will be looking forward to the next part; in the meantime I’ll try to figure out the hints.

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Thanks RailRider, Terpy and Avatar!

Avatar, I was a little concerned about the portion size when they brought it to the table, but it was just right, not too filling. And it was sooo good too. Besides, while at Epcot, its good to try foods from the different pavilions (not that we did on this trip, but last year, WOW!).

I did wonder if I should post when the next installment would be up, but I find myself with the most time on Monday, Wednesday & Friday of each week (and now that I've said that it will probably not turn out that way, so go easy RailRider! :lol: ) It's looking like it will be five parts, and I have most of the parts close to done already, just need some final tweaks here and there. And when I was writing the teaser at the end, the idea of an old radio serial came to mind, so I had to let people know when to tune in next time...

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Day 2: Sunday, Sept. 14th – Touring the Resorts

We woke up, and GatorGirl was feeling MUCH better. We made the drive to the Grand Floridian for our Supercalifragilistic Breakfast reservation. This resort is very impressive.


Breakfast was very good. Everything we tried was very tasty. We all agreed that the strawberry soup was our favorite, and I really liked the citrus syrup for the pancakes too. We had many friends come visit our table while we were eating. First was Tigger.



Then Alice asked GatorGirl how old she was.


Alice asked if we had fed GatorGirl mushrooms because she was “awfully small”.


Mary Poppins stopped by to say hi…


And Pooh snuck up on her.



But when this guy showed up…


…GatorGirl was terrified.


She said he was too loud and she didn’t like his nose and teeth. This guy was perfect though, he had the voice and mannerisms down! Mary Poppins stopped by and cheered her up by singing a little “Spoonful of Sugar”. I was impressed that Mary remembered GatorGirl’s name on several occasions throughout the morning.

After breakfast, we rode the complete monorail circuits. We got on at Grand Floridian, rode around to Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, and got off at the TTC. We switched monorails and rode over to Epcot. This is the first time any of us had been on this monorail line. As the monorail enters the park, I just have to smile as I hear a woman say “I didn’t know this went into the park!” I guess she never noticed the track above her that goes around Spaceship Earth. GatorGirl points out the window to The Seas and says “We were there last night!” Back on to the TTC to switch back to the original line and back to Grand Floridian to drive to our next destination, Wilderness Lodge.

Having been to Yellowstone, we wanted to check this place out. They did a great job modeling it after Old Faithful Inn.


Even the lobby was great, with its huge fireplace and tree-like columns.


GatorGirl loved tossing pennies into the hot spring, something I would absolutely not condone at Yellowstone!


We went out back to the pool area, which had a fun looking waterslide inside the rock formation.


We took a walk along the boardwalk path and came upon a hot spring…


…and Fire Rock Geyser.


We continued down the boardwalk and came to Bay Lake, and a boat dock.


We decide to take a nice boat ride around Bay Lake.


It made stops at the Contemporary and Ft. Wilderness Campground.


It was very hot and humid outside, so we grabbed some drinks and found a nice cozy couch in the lobby. We sat there for close to 45 minutes, just relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere.

MAGIC MOMENT #1: On our way out of Wilderness Lodge, we were walking through the carport area to the parking lot. A voice behind us starts calling for us to come back. The valet gives GatorGirl a Goofy sticker, which just made her day. She kept going on and on the rest of the day how “That man was nice for giving me the sticker”.

We went back to Pop Century to swim. When we got back to our room, Buzz Lightyear was waiting in our window, and all of his friends that we brought along were arranged on the bed. We didn’t leave them this way, who knew Toy Story was based in fact?


We swam in all 4 pools (50’s Bowling Pin, 60’s Hippy Dippy and Kiddie pools, and 80’s/90’s Computer) and played in the water jets at Goofy’s Pop Jet Playground. After drying off we headed to our car and said hi to Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head on the way.


This Rubik’s cube was too hard to solve.


Sunset on Hourglass Lake, which was behind our building.



We went to the Boardwalk resort for dinner.


We had nice cool chicken salad sandwiches from the Boardwalk Bakery, which we ate at a table outside. What a nice atmosphere Boardwalk has, with the lake and all the roaming performers. They even had a guy playing a piano that he pedaled like a bike up and down the boardwalk. Unfortunately most of our pictures didn’t come out too well that night.

We watched Epcot’s Illuminations from here. From our vantage point, it looked like the fireworks were coming out the top of the ESPN Club restaurant.


While at Boardwalk, we received a call from my sister telling us of the high winds we had gotten from Hurricane Ike. She told us that there was no damage to our house, but there were quite a few branches, trees and fences down around the neighborhood. And to top it off, the power was out and Cinergy was saying it could be a week before they got it back up again. I thought of the food that we had in the fridge, and wondered how bad the smell would be when we got home.

Back to Pop Century, and off to bed.

Will our power come back on in less than a week? Will we need some SpectroMagic to bring the Electric Light Parade back to our castle? Or will we be forced to live like the Swiss Family Robinson when we return? Tune in Friday for Day 3: Magic Kingdom, in which GatorGirl is put under a magic spell and transformed into an enchanted teacup!

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Gator – thanks for part 2 I am enjoying reading your report. First I just want to tell you your Daughter is adorable, on the last day at KI I seen her with her full costume on, so seeing your daughter in the pictures really shows her true beauty.

We love having dinner at the Grand Floridian too, that resort is nice and grand, if you know what I mean.

The Mad Hater seems to be casted very well and I don’t think I have ever seen one not on his game.

Looks like you had a great off day from the parks and did a lot of free activities while touring the deluxe resorts. Those towel animals are great, the kids really love them, last year we got tons this year just a couple, I am glad the maid took the time to go above and beyond to help cheer Gator Girl up.

So which deluxe pool did you like the best and what Pop pool is the best?

I am looking forward to part 3, great job so far. The long hints are great too.

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You MUST have breakfast at the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom...and Tepan Edo over at Epcot. Another great place to eat is the 50's Diner at Disney Hollywood (MGM)..your waitress is "mom"..and she is exactly like a 50's type "mom". She will make you eat your greens..and get on you about your elbows being on the table.

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Thanks Avatar! That Elmo costume she was wearing at KI kind of hid her face, but I have to agree she is a cutie. Of course I'm majorly biased!

I had read reviews of the Supcalifragilistic Breakfast where the kids were afraid of the Mad Hatter, one even went as far as saying that she didn't know why he was there, he had no place at the breakfast and he should have been way more subdued. But the Mad Hatter character is anything but subdued, he was very great and true to the movie. Reading those reviews I thought, "Afraid of the Mad Hatter? Not my kid, she loves Alice in Wonderland!" Oops!

The only deluxe pool we got a chance to see was Wilderness, we completely forgot to check out Grand Floridian's, and we didn't get off the monorail at Contemporary or Polynesian. As far as Pop pools, we spent the most time in the Bowling Pin pool. We liked the pavement around it that looked like a bowling lane. GatorGirl's worn life jackets at KI before, but this was the first time she's ever let go of mommy and daddy while wearing one. She loved the freedom of swimming on her own, and kept going up and down the length of the bowling pin. We liked the squirting flowers around the Hippy Dippy pool, and our least favorite was the Computer pool, with it being just a plain rectangular layout.

HoundDog - You're getting ahead of me on the 50's Primetime Cafe, I refer to that in Day 5! :lol: We ate there in '95 but didn't get the chance to this time. Our waiter "uncle" made sure we cleaned our plates and got after me several times for having my elbows on the table! Its our favorite restaurant on property, the wait staff really get into their jobs there.

And the toys didn't move on their own? I started thinking Toy Story was a true story! ;) But seriously, I knew about Mousekeepng doing this so we made sure the toys were left out for them!

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We stayed at All Star Movies..I loved that pool. After checking prices though we realized we could have stayed at Carribean for only about $600 more. We are going back Dec 2009. I have even checked into a welding job there ..and we are considering moving down there. I love Disney..no place like it on earth..they really know how to treat people.

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Day 3: Monday, September 15th – Magic Kingdom

We took the bus from Pop to MK, as I’ve always read that it’s better to take resort transportation than your own car to that park because of having to take the boat or monorail to/from the parking lot. We found out at the end of the night the car would have been better.

We got there about 10 minutes after gates opened… pretty good for us. And there to great us is Pinocchio!


Our first ride of the day is Dumbo since this line can get long later in the day. This is the first time that any of us had ever ridden it (this was my 6th MK trip, Mrs. Gator’s 5th and GatorGirl’s 3rd). Of course GatorGirl had to get her favorite color.


After that is Mickey’s PhilharMagic (we all love this movie), Small World, and Peter Pan. While in line for Peter Pan, the woman in front of me is checking her email on her phone. She says to her husband “The power’s back on in Anderson!” I ask if they’re from Cincinnati, and they are. She works at Mercy Hospital in Anderson, and that’s what she was referring to from the email. The power at their house was still out. It was about this time I figured that I could call our home number to see if our answering machine picks up, and that would tell me when the power’s back on. So I call several times during the day, but the line keeps ringing and ringing every time. As it turns out, the answering machine finally picks up on Wednesday morning when I call before we leave for Disney Studios. So we were only without power for 2 1/2 days. Thank you Cinergy, it could have been much worse!

Next up is Pooh, Cinderella’s Carrousel and Snow White. GatorGirl didn’t like Snow White at all, with all the dark scary things in there. Her face was buried in my chest most of the way through.

To cheer her up, we took her on her first Teacup ride.


It was time for Storytime with Belle.


Belle comes out to tell us her story, and she pulls kids from the audience to help tell the “tale as old as time”. The first Maurice gets scared and has to be replaced, then Lumiere has to be replaced, followed soon after by Chip. And who’s the new Chip?


Chip tags along and saves the day!


Curtain Call


After pizza at Pinocchio Village Haus, it’s time for Haunted Mansion. This has always been a favorite, and I had been working on GatorGirl for months to get her to be ok riding it by telling her it’s just like Scooby, only without Scooby. She’s not too thrilled with it, especially when our car stops for a while in the graveyard scene right in front of one of those heads that pop out. But I like what they’ve done with the recent rehab.

We grab a frozen Strawberry bar in Frontierland and wait for Woody’s Cowboy Camp to come around.


They ask for cowboy and cowgirl volunteers. She didn't want to do this last year, but guess who's first in line this time!



Hokey Pokey with Jessie


Woody joins in


We hope that GatorGirl falls asleep during Hall of Presidents like she has the past two years, but that’s not the case this time. She comes close though. While George W Bush is speaking, Andrew Jackson’s entire body starts shaking wildly left to right for about a minute. I wish we had gotten video of it, it was hilarious. This was the first time I ever laughed in this attraction.

It’s soon time for the Dreams Come True Parade


Our friend Mary Poppins


Peter Pan and Wendy


Cinderella and her Prince


Belle waves hi to Chip


GatorGirl’s favorite princess, Ariel


Next was Adventureland. We got FastPasses for Jungle Cruise and did Tiki Room, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet and Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse while waiting. On Jungle Cruise, I was hoping we would get Delorean Rider for our guide, but we couldn’t wait for him because GatorGirl can get a little impatient when not doing anything. Instead our guide was named Alissa (I believe), who did a fine job warding off the dangers of the jungle while cracking some really bad jokes.

We each got our own Dole Whip float this year. Last year GatorGirl ate more of mine than I did! If you’ve never had one, get one! Yummy! Pineapple soft serve in pineapple juice, there’s nothing better on a hot, sticky Florida day.


Waiting for Dream Along With Mickey


Enjoying the show


We head off to Tomorrowland and get FastPasses for Space Mountain, which Mrs. Gator and I haven’t ridden since 1994. We do Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor (funny as always), Buzz Lightyear, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (which we still have a habit of calling the WEDWay People Mover).

I ride Space Mountain first, and I had forgotten about the quick movements of this ride. Mrs. Gator rides next as soon as I get off. While Mrs. Gator is away, GatorGirl and I ride Astro Orbiters, which is another ride I had never been on before. It makes me a little nervous that we see lightning in the distance while riding, but I figure they would have closed if it wasn’t safe.

Back to Main Street for SpectroMagic, which is a must see for us on every WDW trip. After that, we dash back to Tomorrowland to see Carousel of Progress. To us, no trip to MK is complete without seeing this. “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow…” While we pull into the last area (the exit room) of the attraction, we hear fireworks starting...

We exit just in time for Wishes. We've always stood and watched it behind the castle, right next to Cinderella’s Carrousel and Dumbo. We like that spot because the action is all around you. But we didn’t have time to get over there so we watched from next to the Astro Orbiters elevator. Not as good a spot, but while we’re there…

MAGIC MOMENT #2: I’m holding GatorGirl, watching Wishes, and a “Litter Gitter” (to borrow an old KI term) approached us. He gave GatorGirl a Tinkerbell pin. She loved it, and kept going on and on about how that man was nice.

Time to leave


We have to wait 45 minutes for a bus back to Pop. But in the meantime, we’re able to see the Electrical Water Pageant from the bus station, which we’ve never seen before. As we pass the MK parking lot, it’s completely empty. I think we would have gotten back quicker driving our car.

The only thing that we wanted to do but didn’t have time for was Goofy’s Barnstormer, so GatorGirl didn’t get her coaster credit #3.

What could possibly pull us away from Disney in the middle of our trip? What two special guests join us on the trip to Studios? And what Magic Moment is questionable in its execution? Tune in Monday for Day 4: A Day Away From Disney Property and Day 5: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in which GatorGirl gets a special surprise gift from Mickey, to find out!

WOOHOO!!! 500th POST!!!

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I have always heard it is better to buss it to Magic Kingdom too, but have learned to never leave when 85% of the park leaves too, as that is a long wait for busses back to the resort. I have never had a car when we went down so I don’t know which way is better, the busses are hit and miss at times, but I have gotten somewhat used to them. I bet you had a tired little one hanging on you when you left.

The picture of Gator Girl in the tea cup makes her look a bit older than in the others. I think it is wonderful that Disney makes sure most children are given extra special attention when down there and it looks like Gator Girl got her fair share.

I know this is a sticky subject but man you just had to put a picture of the Dole Whip Floats up didn’t you? Now that craving for a Dole Whip for the next couple days, Thanks.

If I read this report right you said this is your third trip to stay at Disney right? Well I went back through and looked at all the photos; I must have missed one because I did not see one of your rooms window being decorated. I would expect that from a newbie like RailRider but not from a Disney Veteran; please tell me its coming.

The Ariel in the parade on your day and ours was ok but I thought the one in Ariel’s Grotto was by far the best I had seen from any of our visits.



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Sorry to torture you with the Dole Whips!

This was our 3rd stay at a Disney resort, and we've never had our window decorated. Our first night this time, Buzz was looking out the window, waiting for us to return, but that was the only thing they did with the window. They did arrange the toys on the bed every day though, and left us towel animals.

We tried waiting for Ariel's Grotto last year, but GatorGirl had the patience of a 2 year old then so we didn't last long even with me taking her over to the water play area while Mrs. Gator held our place in line. But I do have to agree with you, the one in your picture is probably the best Ariel I've seen.

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Day 4: Tuesday, September 16th – A Day Away From Disney Property

We spent this day at Grampy & Grammy Gator’s house (my dad and stepmom). It was very nice to have a home cooked meal and spend time with them since we haven’t seen them in over a year. We did however carry on the Disney theme by watching Beauty & The Beast.

Day 5: Wednesday, September 17th – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We drive to the park where we’re supposed to meet Grampy & Grammy Gator. We get on the tram and call them to see where they are. They say they’re on a tram and sure enough, we look a few cars up and see them.

After a quick visit with Paul (thanks again for everything Paul!), we’re in the park.


First thing we do is get FastPasses to Toy Story Midway Mania. Good thing too, because they’re out of them by the time we ride and the line is close to an hour long.

We go back towards the Sorcerer’s hat and there to greet us were Pluto and Goofy. I had read it’s rare to get two characters in the same picture, but we did it!


Our first ride was The Great Movie Ride. In the queue, GatorGirl immediately recognized this horse from Mary Poppins.


Speaking of her…


The Duke


GatorGirl hasn’t seen this movie yet, but we took her to see the play at Aronoff this past Saturday. She loves the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” but didn’t know it’s from a movie. We didn't tell her about the song being in there just so we could see her reaction when we saw the play. As soon as Dorothy started singing it, she smiled and started singing along. I had to remind her that we need to be quiet while in the theater. But the rest of the day she was singing that as well as "If I Only Had a Brain".


We go to Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which GatorGirl loves since it stars her favorite princess. Then on to Playhouse Disney Live, where GatorGirl has a near meltdown. But after taking her outside twice before the show starts, she’s settled down enough to watch it and ends up having a great time.

We have lunch at Pizza Planet


We eat at a table outside, and GatorGirl says she’s not feeling good. Uh-oh. There’s a park associate who had been talking to us and overhears her say that. He tells us he’ll be right back.

MAGIC MOMENT #3???: He comes back with saltines and Sprite to ease her tummy. Of course, it would have been better if he had taken his gloves off while giving us these items, because this associate EMPTIES GARBAGE CANS. Now I’m not saying anything negative about his position at the park. Heaven knows its an important job, and I’ve emptied my fair share of trash cans at KI over the years. But his gloves that touched the saltine packets and the cup have also touched countless amounts of trash before that. Well, I guess it was the thought that counts.

Up next is MuppetVision 3D


GatorGirl doesn’t like this one as much as PhilharMagic. She likes The Muppet Movie dvd that we have at home, but she doesn’t like the character Waldo in MuppetVision 3D, and the ending proves a little boisterous for her too.

New York street


It’s time to use our FastPasses. Grammy Gator’s knees are bothering her and can’t handle the stairs, so we go to the wheelchair accessible loading area. We miss seeing the talking Mr. Potato Head this way, but we get to Andy’s room faster.



Ready to play


This ride is so cool. 2nd best darkride ever (it’s awfully hard to overtake Spidey at IOA). Even though all it is is traveling from screen to screen, the effects and the interactivity make this a great attraction.


GatorGirl shows her support for the troops.


The girls apparently like a man in uniform.


Grampy & Grammy Gator want to rest and try to escape the heat a little, so we decide to let GatorGirl play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids area while they rest in the shade at Studio Catering Co. While we’re parking the stroller…

MAGIC MOMENT #4: A park associate comes up to GatorGirl and tells her, “Mickey Mouse called me and he said that you could have some ice cream!” Then he hands her a Mickey ice cream bar. If she thought the sticker and pin were nice, just imagine her reaction to ice cream. We thank him and head over to where Grampy and Grammy Gator are sitting. As you can see she liked it. (Looking at this picture, she kind of looks like the Joker! :o)


At this point, Grampy and Grammy Gator decide that they need to head on home to get out of the heat. We say our goodbyes, and it’s getting to be time for Block Party Bash Parade, which I’ve read is very good so I want to see it. GatorGirl has other plans however, and makes it very clear she does NOT want to see a parade. So we go over towards Sunset Boulevard.


Along the way, GatorGirl falls asleep in the stroller. We get FastPasses for Tower of Terror, but then we realize we didn’t need to because the return time was 45 minutes later, but the standby wait was 5 minutes. Everyone was at the parade, so that helped. Mrs. Gator rode first while I waited with Sleeping Beauty in the stroller, then I rode for the first time since 1995. I forgot what a fun ride this is, and the themeing…

I get FastPasses to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and we head over towards Sounds Dangerous, which Mrs. Gator wants to do to kill some time. While she’s in there, I see that Jedi Training Academy is taking place, so I head over there. That show proves a little too loud, as it wakes GatorGirl up. I remember that the exit area of Sounds Dangerous has a theremin, so we go there to play with that and the other sound effect equipment.

Mrs. Gator comes out, and I tell her that Star Tours wait is only 5 minutes, so I ride while they continue to play. I didn’t like it as much as I did 13 years ago.

We book it over to the Beauty and The Beast show.


Happily ever after…


It’s now time for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The loading area and the trains really impressed me. It was very similar to FoF, but I liked the different LA landmarks along the way.

While I was riding, GatorGirl was getting antsy, so the girls went for a walk and met some friends.


Mrs. Gator decides to ride Star Tours while I take GatorGirl to Honey I Shrunk the Kids, where she gives a new definition to “antsy”.


On her way to Endor, Mrs. Gator first visited New York…


…and The Streets of San Francisco


Girls on Film. Great, now I have that song stuck in my head.


Oh what a tangled web we weave…


Catastrophe Canyon on the Backlot Tour


Walt’s plane


The set of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, which was unfortunately closed during our visit because they were resurfacing the performance area.


In the exit area of Backlot Tour, they had a villains display. GatorGirl quickly recognized this dress from Enchanted.


We decided at this time it was best to get seats for Fantasmic. We get some popcorn and drinks along the way and head towards the amphitheater. We ended up with a great spot, second row, a little off to the left. We missed this show in 1995, and with the rumors that it’s getting cut to two nights a week soon, we wanted to make sure we saw it on this trip. We warned GatorGirl that there would be a dragon, but she was fine with it.

We loved this show! The effects were great, with the projections on the water and the fire, the dragon, everything was very well done. It's right up there with Wishes in our book.

Ariel & Eric


Belle and The Beast


One last look…


Sadly, we didn’t get to see Indiana Jones or eat at one of our favorite restaurants on property, 50’s Prime Time Café. But we had a full day, and were ready for some rest.

What unforeseen event would force us to spend another day at Disney? How many toys can one play with in a single day? And do chipmunks like smores? Tune in Wednesday for the thrilling conclusion, Day 6: Unplanned Bonus Day and Day 7: Goodbye World!, in which XGatorHead's creativity is put to the test, to find out!

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Another great installment on your overall report Gator, thanks for taking the time to write it. So is Dad considered “The Beast”?

Oh those melt downs, I feel your pain there.

You need to frame that picture of Gator Girl eating the Mickey Bar, priceless!

At the same park Lisa and Miss Rae while getting ice cream from a stand, while I was ridding Rock “n” Roller Coaster, where told their ice cream was on Mickey too. That Mickey sure knows how to treat his guests when they pay a visit to him, what a great guy.

Yeah I think a serious update to Star Tours is badly needed, I did not even ride the last time we went and probably won’t until it’s updated.

Nice pictures and from the looks of them some special family moments took place as well.

Well I have already tuned in the channel for your final episode and look forward to it.


RailRider – I am glad you responded to my last post; now you have no excuse later. To think I was tying to give you an out excuse too. Well more responses like that will be cause for double pours.

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RailRider – thanks for the warnings you are very patent and understanding (a sign of a great father). Just one question are you trying to introduce me to Lorenzo the Magnificent (you know he’s R.I.P.) or are you hinting at inviting me to a wonderful trip to Italy?

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Great trip report Gator. With you and avatar creating such wonderful WDW reports, I won't even attempt one.

Looks like GatorGirl had a good time with all the "Magic Moments". We only had one magic moment for each kid and my wife. (None for me). My girl got a Tinkerbell Pin for talking so much with a security guard, my son got a sticker for speaking "galactin?" while in line for Stitch's Great escape, and my wife, an animal nurse, got a personal tour of Rafiki's Planet watch.

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RailRider – thanks for the warnings you are very patent and understanding (a sign of a great father). Just one question are you trying to introduce me to Lorenzo the Magnificent (you know he’s R.I.P.) or are you hinting at inviting me to a wonderful trip to Italy?

No trip to Italy yet, but more along the lines of a wonderful drink that was enjoyed by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Although if we partake in enough Tuaca we may see Lorenzo is some shape or form...

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Aerosmith Rock and Roll Rollercoaster is awesome! I looove Tower of Terror. We actually got stuck in that one with the lights out for about 30 minutes...that was kindy creepy. To bad you missed 50's Prime Time Cafe...that is always fun...just don't order anything off the menu that comes with greens!! :blink:

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Awesome trip report!

Does this look/sound like you Jungle skipper:

If so you're correct her name is Alicia but she prounounces it with a completely soft C, like Al-ee-see-a.

I love the Pop Century resort but it always makes me so sad about how the Legendary Years section isn't happening. If you've ever looked acrossed the hourglass lake and wondered what those abandoned buildings were, they're supposed to be the 1900's-1940's. They even have the giant, "00", "10", "20", "30", and "40" over there but nothing is painted so it looks more creepy than anything.

From what I understand construction was halted on the section after 9/11 with the drop in tourism. As of now I'm pretty sure there is nothing released on what is going to happen to this section.

Here is a photo from google earth showing the area:


Obviously in the middle in the hourglass pool named for it's shape. As you can see the current area has 10 buildings and the "legendary years" was going to be a flipped mirror image with 10 more buildings including the check in building. You can even see the ground preparation or building for all 10 would be buildings. The last time I went to Pop Century which was probably mid October, there was no apparent construction going on over there, as there hasn't been any of the trips I've taken since 2006. (That doesn't mean that nothing has been going on, there hasn't been anything apparent.)

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Thanks DeLorean!

I'm pretty sure that was our skipper in the video. Afterwards Mrs. Gator repeated these three gems over and over to make sure she remembered them.

"Why didn't the kid go to the pirate movie?

Because it was rated Arrrr."

"Why did Aladdin go into The Haunted Mansion?

He was looking for Abu." Yeah, say it out loud if you don't get it... he was looking for a boo.

"What did Snow White sing when she went to get her photos developed?

Someday My Prints Will Come."

And it's funny that you mention The Legendary Years... I discuss that in the final installment! I have a theory on the future of that site, but we'll have to wait a few years to see if I'm right.

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Day 6: Thursday, September 18th – Unplanned Bonus Day

We were supposed to leave to go to Daytona Beach this day, but Mrs. Gator was extremely sick throughout the night, with the same problem that GatorGirl had on night 1 (and then some), and, without going into too much detail about her maladies, there was no way she would have been able to make the trip without having to stop at a rest area every five minutes. So we made the decision to stay another day at Pop Century. I called the front desk, and we were able to extend our stay but at the regular, non-discounted price.

This left us with a problem. How to occupy a 3 year old while her Mom is sick. There was no way that we were going to stay in the room with her (even though I felt bad for leaving), and I wasn’t sure how GatorGirl would feel about swimming all day (she probably would have loved it though). So I had to get a little creative and plan a day on the fly. There were a few things that I had in mind to do at some point if we ever found ourselves with some spare time, so I figured we would do them then.

GatorGirl and I left Mrs. Gator, with the stipulation that she would call me if she needed anything, and went to Downtown Disney.

Our first stop was World of Disney. This is the largest Disney store anywhere, and we had fun playing with all the toys and trying on the hats.

She looks a little goofy in this one.


She doesn’t make a very convincing pirate.


Two princesses


Pretty in Pink


Next we went to the Lego Imagination Center. There was a big area outside the store with these tables with bins of Legos in them. We played with Legos for about 2½ hours, making different buildings and cars. They had these giant Lego sculptures outside the shop, including a Transformer, a tourist family, dinosaurs, a shark and fish, and this dragon.


We had lunch at Rainforest Café. GatorGirl loved the elephants, gorillas and the rain. She had chicken nuggets with a whole banana and I had a pretty good grilled chicken sandwich. Afterwards we played for quite a while in their gift shop with all of their toys.

After quick stops at Mickey’s Mart, Goofy’s Candy Company, Pooh Corner…


…and Disney’s Pin Traders…


...we rode the little carousel they had there, then stopped by Once Upon a Toy. There was a large table with a bunch of Mr. Potato Head accessories to play with. We made different Potato Head combinations for quite a while. We liked doing Malificent’s hat with Cinderella’s slippers, Darth Vader’s helmet with Ariel’s tail, etc.

Our next stop was Ghirardelli’s for some ice cream. I had the Warm Caramel Sundae and she had a scoop of vanilla with sprinkles (even though she asked for no sprinkles). It was good, but I’m not used to paying $7.95 for a sundae and $3.95 for a single scoop. Graeter’s isn’t even that much!

We had spoken to Mrs. Gator on the phone a couple of times, but it was time to go check in on her. While we had been at Downtown Disney, she experienced…

MAGIC MOMENT #5.1: Mrs. Gator lay in bed all day, drifting in and out of sleep and watching TV in between. When Mousekeeping came to clean the room, they could tell right a way she was not feeling well. The Mousekeeper, Stacy, was very kind. She prepared Mrs. Gator an icepack, a cool wet washcloth, and made sure that she had everything in reach that she would need. Stacy was new to Disney (had only been there a little over a week if I remember correctly), and she had worked at a health clinic before that. She went out of her way to make Mrs. Gator feel as comfortable as she could be.

When we arrived, Mrs. Gator was feeling better than when we had left her. I had an idea on how GatorGirl and I could spend our evening, but I had to make a phone call to verify times. And I found out that we had just enough time to drive over to Ft. Wilderness Campground for Chip & Dale’s Campfire Sing-Along.

GatorGirl and I arrive at the campground and take the bus to the stop closest to the campfire area. If you’ve never been to Ft. Wilderness, their bus system can be a little confusing, but I had read enough on it ahead of time to have a general idea of how it works. The site has wooden benches, bleachers, a little stage, a big movie screen, two campfires and a booth where you can purchase food and drinks.

We go to the booth and get a large bag of marshmallows, a smores kit which consisted of a Hershey bar and a small box of graham crackers, some drinks, and sticks for roasting. GatorGirl had never roasted marshmallows before, but she did it like a pro.


She liked the roasting, but didn’t want to eat the marshmallows or the smores. She did, however, insist on eating a majority of the Hershey bar!

A cowboy comes out on the stage with a guitar and starts singing campfire songs for us all to sing along with. He’s soon joined onstage by Chip and Dale, who eventually make their way around the crowd to greet everyone. The cowboy sings Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance, so GatorGirl just has to join the crowd and dance!

After these two songs, we head back to our bench and are soon visited by Chip. Trivia: the way to tell Chip and Dale apart are their noses. Chip has a black nose (like a chocolate “chip”) and Dale has a red nose. Their teeth are also different, but the nose thing is easier to remember.


After Chip and Dale have greeted everyone, and the cowboy is done with his set, it’s time for the movie. The movie that night: The Little Mermaid. They show different ones each night, and we got lucky that it was one of GatorGirl’s favorites. It was great watching the movie under the stars, with GatorGirl leaning against me as she watched. We could see some of the fireworks from Wishes, and some of the flashes from either Illuminations or Fantasmic in the other direction. It was some great daddy/daughter time, I’m glad we got the chance to do this.

A little after Ursula gives Ariel her legs, GatorGirl wants to go because she’s tired. We walk to the nearest bus stop that will take us back to our car. We have to wait about 40 minutes until the right bus comes, but it was fun watching the moon rise through the trees, and we could hear the music from the Electrical Water Pageant as it went by on Seven Seas Lagoon.

During our time at Ft. Wilderness, Mrs. Gator managed to sit out by the pool for a little bit to get some fresh air.

GatorGirl is asleep by the time we get back to Pop Century. I manage to get her changed into her nightgown, and I go out to the food court to get something I had wanted to try all week. The Tie Dye Cheesecake.


For the record, it wasn’t all that good.

Day 7: Friday, September 19th – Goodbye World!

Mrs. Gator is feeling much better, so we’re able to make the trip to Daytona Beach.

When we open our door:

MAGIC MOMENT #5.2: Taped to our door is an envelope with Mrs. Gator’s name on it. I hand it to her, and when she opens it, it’s a Get Well card from Stacy, our Mousekeeper from the previous day. This just blows us away. We never in a million years would have expected this. She was so kind to Mrs. Gator and this just topped it all off. When we checked out, we made sure to compliment Stacy on a job well done. The person at the desk wrote everything down, hopefully it was passed on that Stacy went above and beyond the call of duty!

Before we leave, we take a quick trip around Pop to take some pictures. We like this resort the best out of the three we’ve stayed at (All Star Music and All Star Movies being the other two).

50’s Bowling Pin Pool


50’s Building


50’s Staircase


Lady (note GatorGirl in the stroller on the right for scale)…


…and the Tramp


60’s Hippy Dippy Pool



Mowgli and Baloo (and there’s GatorGirl again)


The Generation Gap Bridge, which goes across Hourglass Lake.


On the other side of the bridge is an abandoned resort project, Pop Century: The Legendary Years. This was supposed to cover the decades 1900’s – 1940’s. They got the main building and two of the guest room buildings up (see DeLorean Rider’s post above for an aerial photo). It looks kind of weird seeing abandoned buildings at the World. The guest room building that we could see from the bridge looked run down, with deteriorated railings and peeling paint. I have a theory that come the 2050’s, this resort will open covering the decades 2000’s – 2040’s.

70’s Building with Giant 8-Track Tape


Mickey Phone and Giant Foosball Court (does she keep getting smaller?)


Big Wheel


The sticker below the handlebars says it can take a rider up to 877 lbs.

80’s Buildings



We then left for Daytona Beach to visit Nana Gator (my mother-in-law). Not much to tell from this part of the trip. It was very windy, a little chilly because of that, the tide was high throughout most of the daytime, and there was lots of seaweed on the beach. It was probably the least enjoyable trip we’ve had to Daytona because of all these factors.

On Sunday 9/21, we flew back to CVG from Orlando, with a two hour layover in Atlanta, and with that, we return to reality.


We had a great time. There’s plenty to do outside the parks that don’t cost an arm and a leg, such as touring the other resorts, playing at Downtown Disney, and the Ft. Wilderness campfire. Our days were full, and we were very satisfied with the level of service we received on this trip.

In order to receive special little extras, such as our little magic moments, it helps to have a cute kid along with you!

Looking at all the pictures of GatorGirl with the characters, its hard to imagine being so innocent that you think they’re real, that there is no thing as make believe, and that fantasy IS reality.

We’ve now gone to WDW three years in a row. As much as we love the place, we’re talking about possibly taking a break from it next year. I’m torn about this. GatorGirl will only be little for so long, but there’s so much else that we want her to see. If Disney comes out with a discount that’s too good to pass up (and their current offer is mighty tempting, but we’re not sure how we would do 7 days in a row with GatorGirl as young as she is), then we might change our minds about that.

Mrs. Gator’s family has a reunion in PA every summer. We’re talking about possibly starting our vacation with that and doing a “Parks of Pennsylvania” tour, consisting of some combination of Idlewild, Kennywood, Hersheypark, Sesame Place, Dorney Park, Knoebels, and Waldameer. We’ll have to see what each park has to offer for each member of the family. And as the time draws nearer, I’ll probably start a new topic to get the opinions of people on here that would have insight into these places, as we’ve never been to any of them.

If you ever have any questions about visiting WDW, just ask and I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions, or at least point you towards some good resources!

Thanks for reading this TR, and for all the nice comments you’ve left along the way. I hope you enjoyed it!


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