12/01/2005 - Travel and EPCOT
I have been wanting to take this trip for several years.  In fact, Shannon once accused me of having children just so I would have an excuse to go to Walt Disney World.  While that is not a totally crazy idea, I would like to set the record straight that this is not the reason I wanted children.  Anyway, we have been to Walt Disney World twice since being married but this was the first time that we have been during the Christmas season.  I would highly recommend going during the fall or winter season.  The crowds are lower, the weather is cooler and the rates for on-site hotel rooms are about $50 per night cheaper.  Shannon's mom, Gail, came with us and her help was much needed and appreciated.  It was great to throw the adult/child ratio in our favor.  Hopefully, she had enough time after looking after our kids that she had some time to enjoy herself.

This was Addie's second plane trip (we all went to Key West in 2003) but it was Eli's first time on a plane.  Eli was under the age of two we were able to take him "infant in lap".  Both the kids are pretty thin-hipped so they were able to share the same seat when in the air.  I am not going to claim that our kids were able to sit in the same seat for three hours without poking and pushing each other but it went pretty well.  I highly recommend taking a portable DVD player if you have one.  The first picture is in the plane.  After we landed, we used Disney's free "Magical Express" bus service to get to our on-site hotel.  We checked into our room and then headed straight for EPCOT.  Our first meal was at Germany.

12/02/2005 - Magic Kingdom
The next day we went to the Magic Kingdom.  I flexed my "Dad muscles" and chose the first ride -- The Haunted Mansion.  The third picture is actually part of a long-term case study.  We plan on doing several more Walt Disney World trips while the kids are young and we will track the similarities between my pattern balding and King Louie's hairline.  As you can see, the trend has already started.

Since I have your attention, I am going to put a plug in for the "Disney Dining Plan".  For $35 per adult, per day ($10 for kids) you get the following...

  - 1 table service meal (Appetizer, entree, nonalcoholic beverage, dessert, tax and tip)
  - 1 counter service meal (Entree, nonalcoholic beverage, and dessert)
  - 1 snack (soda, coffee, water, cookie, fruit...)

The great part is that you can use the table service credits for character meals.  Character meals are wonderful because you don't have to wait in line to meet the characters.  Instead, they rotate through the dining room, stopping at each table.  In addition, all of the adults in our party were very pleased with the meals that we received.  I thought that we were going to get pizza and hot dogs but all of the meals were very different and interesting.  The adult fee at a character dinner (after tax and tip) is usually $30 so all you have to do is get a $5 counter service meal in order to break even on the dining plan.  I have all the receipts from our meals so I am going to do a price breakdown/comparison and I'll put it up here in the future.  If you want a good site for menus and prices I found this one to be current. (DISNEY MENUS)  Our first character meal was with the Pooh characters, which Addie and Eli are both in to.  While the family was getting their picture taken with Pooh, Tigger was sneaking up behind.  Eli had been scouting for Tigger the entire meal so he was ready when it was his turn to meet Tigger.  Piglet was at this meal, too, but is not pictured.

12/03/2005 - Animal Kingdom
On our second full day we headed to Animal Kingdom.  This park closes at 5PM so we went back to the room for naps and then headed to the Magic Kingdom for another character meal.  This meal had Goofy, Minnie, Chip & Dale, and Pluto.

12/04/2005 - EPCOT
All of the adults agree that EPCOT was our favorite park.  We also had our last character meal at the Norway pavilion.

12/05/2005 - Disney Studios

12/06/2005 - EPCOT
Waiting to be seated for our lunch in France.

12/07/2005 - Magic Kingdom and travel
We used the last morning to go back to Magic Kingdom.  We did a few rides that we had missed the first time and then let Addie choose the last ride. - Of course, that meant riding "It's a Small World" for a third time. - Here's Addie waiting in line one last time...

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  - Tulip Time 2003
  - Estes Park 2005
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