So, we just got home from 9 days in Disney World! Ok, that's not technically true. We've been home since December 5th, but it's taken me a little while to catch up on... well... everything and I'm just now catching everybody else up!
We had truly and extraordinary time at Disney World - it was an amazing trip for everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean basically everyone we're related to - our two sets of parents, my grandfather, and Steve's two sisters with their husbands and a niece! 14 people and 4 generations - now that's not a trip you have the chance to take every day.
We stayed on-property at the Pop Century hotel, and it was so nice to take Disney transportation everywhere and not have to worry about driving. We hit a great time of year because it's not super-hot and the crowds are minimal, plus everything's decorated for Christmas, which is so cool! Even though it was downright cool by Florida standards, our kids still had to adjust to the "heat" and humidity. As soon as we walked off of the plane, Sam turned to us with complete disgust on his face and gasped, "What's wrong with the air here?!?" Obviously he's gotten used to the nice dry Utah air in the last 6 years. Sam never did get over the fact that "it felt like he was made of clay," but on the up side it made his hair super-adorably curly.
In 9 days we hit all of the parks (of course), Blizzard Beach (a water park), and 4 golf games on 3 mini golf courses (Sam was *really* into mini golf). And with really short lines, for the most part, we got to do *everything*. We did all of the roller coasters - Sam and Ben loved Big Thunder Mountain and Sam got to ride Expedition Everest and Space Mountain. The only one he was too short for was the Rockin Rollercoaster, which is great since he *loves* roller coasters and would have been disappointed if he didn't get to ride most of them. The boys also went bananas for Test Track at Epcot, which is sort of a roller coaster I guess.
Both boys went on the Tower of Terror. I was surprised that Ben agreed to go on it, but he was a total champ and didn't freak out in the least. Sam thought it was the coolest thing on earth, but Ben merely looked at me after it was over and said "I'm never, never doing that again." Oh well, at least he tried.
Ben's big thing, beside the carousel (which he rode as often as possible. He chose an armored horse, which he named "Chainy" since it had a mace thingie on it), was pin trading. His aunt and uncle bought him a pin lanyard and a few pins to start with and then Mommy and Daddy augmented it with several copies of our Grand Gatherings pins (we did a few bigger group things that you had to pre-register for, like going out on the lagoon in a pirate ship to watch the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom. They were really cool outings, and we each got pins to commemorate the experience). Lots of the "cast members" (employees) at Disney World wear pins and you can go up to any of them and trade pins, which Ben thought was the best. He ended up with *lots* of Pirates and Stitch pins... he's going to be a pin trading pro by the 2010 Olympics!
It's hard to say what the best part of the trip was. Honestly, as cliched as it sounds, I really loved hanging out with our families for such fun, extended time. The mini golf was really fun, too... I love mini golf. It was really cool always having 5 or 6 (or 14) people to hang out with. It was also really fun to celebrate Steve's 30th birthday, Susie's 33rd, and Poppop's 79th as one big family. That's a pretty special chance to have.
Ben is still analyzing what makes Disney "so magical." I think that his thinking is currently tied between it being magical because it never closes (it sure does feel that way!) and because the cartoon characters are really alive there. Actually, that lead to a bit of a family controversy because we always stress that what's on TV, especially on cartoons, isn't real. But the other day, Ben turned to us and said "Woah, woah, woah. Cartoons must be real because we saw them at Disney!" We did counter with the "Did you notice that none of the characters at Disney talked?" and he decided that was because they all had their tongues cut out. I'm not sure how that's less disturbing to the child than people dressed up inside the costumes, but whatever.
Anyway, I could go on *forever* about our adventures and fun at Disney. It was a great trip, one we'll all remember for a long time.