Hi all. Our family consists of myself, Jeff, a 37 year old aerospace engineer with NASA, my lovely 35 year old wife Susan, also an aerospace engineer with NASA, my 9 year old son Brian and my nearly 7 year old daughter, Katie. Being engineers, my wife and I tend to be very organized, so we had done quite a bit of planning for this trip. We have wanted for some time to experience WDW during the Christmas season but were fearful of the massive crowds that show up during that time of year. After reading in RADP how crowds were significantly smaller during the weeks prior to Christmas, we decided to take our kids out of school and go for it. Come join us on our trip to a very special place!
Day 1 - 12/14/96
We live in Huntsville, Alabama, and as we always do, drove to WDW. It's just over 600 miles and takes us 11.5 hours. We decided to try something new this time and left just after midnight. I had taken off early from work and had planned to get some sleep. I should have known better. The excitement of going to WDW was just too much so I basically laid in bed for 6 hours. We loaded the kiddies in the Explorer and grabbed the caffeine pills and off we went. The drive was uneventful with the exception of the all the meteors we saw. Wow!
We got to Orlando around 12 noon, and since check-in at Fort Wilderness (FW) isn't until 1:00 pm, we decided to stop at Goodings to pick up groceries for our weeks stay. Having been awake for 30 hours I was really dragging but the sight of the Magic Kingdom gate rejuvenated me. Check-in at the FW Campground was slow and took about 20 minutes. We were assigned site 1333 which is on the Tumbleweed Turn loop and very near the Meadow Trading Post. We had requested when we made our reservation to be near a comfort station and thankfully, we were. We have a Coleman pop-up camper which we proceeded to set up. A great thing about camping if you have kids is that there are ALWAYS other kids around for your kids to play with while you're busy getting set up.
We got everything situated and decided to ride our bikes down to Guest Services to try to exchange our annual pass (AP) vouchers, purchased at our local Disney Store, for APs. We found out that we had to go to one of the three major parks to accomplish this task so we took off for Epcot. Guest Services at EPCOT was extremely slow! It took us at least 40 minutes to get our passes and to top it off they screwed it up! More on that later.
We finished just in time to make our 6:15 pm reservation at Cape May at the Beach Club (BC). The BC had a nice Christmas tree in the lobby and it was the first of several resorts we visited during the week. The buffet at Cape May was very good. The tables were completely covered with white paper that the kids colored on while we loaded up their plates with grub. The buffet is essentially a square with salads/appetizers on one side, seafood and veggies on the next, desserts on the next and miscellaneous stuff like ribs and chicken tetrazinni on the fourth. There is a kid's buffet (at kid's level) near the desserts that has macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and some other pasta. The bill, with tip, was $65.
We then walked to the International Gateway to catch the 7:30 Candlelight Processional (CP). There were two waiting lines for the show. One for those that had purchased CP packages and the other for those who had not. The lines were both very long but the theater is large so we all got in. Ed Asner was the guest speaker and he did a wonderful job. The hour-long show was very inspirational and immediately put us all in the Christmas spirit. We returned to FW to get some much needed sleep in preparation for tomorrow's visit to the Magic Kingdom!
Go to Trip Report - Part II
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