Penny's First Trip to Disney World - Trip Report COMPLETED

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Allie's picture
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Penny's First Trip to Disney World - Trip Report COMPLETED

Hi all! We're back from the World and of course falling into a Mickeyless depression. My first day back at work yesterday I was sending Jon numbers on how much it would cost for us to go back in February. laugh I think he was tempted but ultimately it was a no-go for now. sad

I'm currently working on pulling together pictures and videos and then I'll start on the trip report! This was both our most magical trip and our most disasterously eventful trip all rolled into one! And we learned a LOT about going with kids that we will be applying in the future. For now I'll leave you with these teaser shots:

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yay great pics! Waiting patiently! Just book it, and when Feb rolls around just say "hey, you better pack... we leave for Disney tomorrow" LOL wink

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Great shots. I can't wait to hear all about it!

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I can't wait to hear about your trip. I love the picture of Penny and Rapunzel.

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Yayyy!! The TR is here!! Ohh the pictures are so cute!! Don't make us wait too long!! Keep those coming! biggrin

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The pictures are adorable! Looking forward to your adventure recap.

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The pictures are so cute! Can't wait to here more Smile

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Can't wait to see more!!

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Magic Mirror's picture
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I was just thinking it didn't seem that long ago I was following your pregnancy blog...then
listening to you say in 2 years it would be Penny's first trip and like BAM! Time passed and here it is!
Many people say that taking a young child to Disney is a waste of money because they won't remember it.
But looking at your pictures I don't know how Penny won't be able to remember those moments! and anyway,
even if she doesn't, YOU WILL!

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The Rapunzel photo is priceless!

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Those pictures are just sooooooo cute! cant wait for more!

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LOVE the teaser pics!! Can't wait for the full report Smile

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Magic Mirror wrote:
I was just thinking it didn't seem that long ago I was following your pregnancy blog...then
listening to you say in 2 years it would be Penny's first trip and like BAM! Time passed and here it is!
Many people say that taking a young child to Disney is a waste of money because they won't remember it.
But looking at your pictures I don't know how Penny won't be able to remember those moments! and anyway,
even if she doesn't, YOU WILL!

Totally true! I know this isn't a "once in a lifetime trip" for us (we obviously will be back!) so I definitely don't feel like it was a waste at all. She may not remember it later down the road, but man does she remember it now. She was totally enthralled while we were there and cannot stop talking about it now that we are home.

Thanks, all! I did get all the pictures sorted through but the holidays have kind of put a hold on the writing. I promise it is coming though! muchlove

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Friday, December 4th

The day of our flight started with the usual mayhem of rushing around the house, throwing last minute stuff into suitcases, scarfing down breakfast, and trying to make ourselves look even halfway presentable. We greatly underestimated the time it would take to do all of these things, but even with having to meet up with Karen and Jimm (MIL & FIL) and then go pick up Tom (BIL) AND with trying to squeeze all six of us plus 14 bags into a small minivan, we still left only about half an hour behind schedule for our 1.5 hour drive to the airport. We parked the van at Park and Fly and Penny was SO excited! She loved the little bus so much that she didn't want to get off to go into the airport, which at least boded well for the Magical Express buses. After a quick stop in the airport gift store to grab some more suitcase luggage, plus a little bit of sorting through bags to double check what we would be checking, what we would be sending on the Magical Express, and which we would be grabbing ourselves, we got checked in and through security fairly quickly. We grabbed a mediocre, overpriced lunch at a sports bar at the airport that you could tell was not used to catering to kids (in fact, no kids menu at all), and by the time we finished there and used the restroom, our plane was just pulling up to the gate and it was almost time to board. As we were getting on, I got a text message saying my, Jon, Tom, and Penny's room at All Star Sports for the night was ready, but another text message saying Karen and Jimm's room wasn't quite ready yet and they would send another text when it was.

Penny has been on a plane before but it was when she was 3 months old so we were very anxious/nervous to see how she would do. We also were set to take off at 2pm and Penny's naptime normally starts at 1pm so this was kind of a recipe for disaster. Overall she did pretty ok, especially considering how we had kind of set her up for failure. She was very excited about the entire concept of the plane, and while we were flying she kept asking where the plane was because she didn't quite get that we were actually IN the plane. Being on Southwest, we chose our seats as we got on the plane and we were at the end of boarding group A so we all got seats together about half way back. Penny sat on my lap (leaving her paid seat open), looking out the window and watching Disney movies on Karen's tablet for the majority of the first flight. We had a quick layover (I don't even remember where...I think Milwaukee maybe?) where we didn't have to change planes, but the flight attendants did let us move up to the front two rows of the plane so that was really nice. We gave Penny a sucker during takeoff for both legs of the flight to try and curb the pressure in her ears, and on the second takeoff she fell asleep laying on my chest, sucking on her cherry sucker which ended up getting all over me and her. Worth it for some rest, though! She slept for maybe 40 min and woke up with a good 1.5 hours of the flight left to go which she wasn't super happy about. We did have some small tantrums that we were able to calm down quickly, but we were all VERY relieved when we finally touched down in Orlando. Overall a fairly smooth flight, though.

Because we landed around 7:30pm (6:30pm our time) and Penny is used to eating dinner at 6pm, we grabbed dinner in the airport food court before heading to the Magical Express. Karen got Panda Express, Jimm and Tom got Quizno's, and Jon, Penny, and I ate at Moe's Southwest Grill. All of the food was decent and Jon and I actually really enjoyed our tacos from Moe's. We rushed through our meals, tired from a day of traveling and anxious to get to the hotel. I realized around this point that I had never received a text or email with Jimm and Karen's room number. So much for "direct to room"; we were going to have to stop at the front desk to find out where their room was located.

We grabbed our couple of bags from baggage claim (they were very easy to find since they were the only ones left on the carousel) and headed down to the Magical Express. We scanned our bands, and for some reason Jimm and Karen's didn't work. The man working the desk that we scanned at said that he couldn't find a room reservation for All Star Sports on their bands and that he showed that they weren't coming in until tomorrow to Saratoga Springs. While I sat panicking, trying to pull up proof that I had indeed linked their room reservation to their bands correctly, the helpful employee found their room reservation in the computer system and just printed off a sheet that we would have to scan rather than the bands in order to board the bus. Crisis averted, we quickly got on the bus and were soon headed off! Penny went between bouncing up and down with excitement to almost crashing several times throughout the bus ride. Coronado Springs was the only stop before us, which we were grateful for as we were all exhausted by this point.

Let me give a little back story here about how we handled our luggage. This will be important later. I have never arrived in the evening to Disney before (we normally take a 6am flight down to Orlando) so I wanted to be clear on how the luggage would be handled. Because we knew we'd be arriving at the hotel past Penny's bedtime and that we would want to be putting her down right when we got there, I wanted to make sure that we weren't going to have luggage delivered to our room that night. I called several times before our trip and was assured by multiple cast members that, because we were arriving so late in the evening, baggage would not be delivered to our room and would instead be held at the baggage area at the front desk. We planned for this by sending half of our luggage (7 bags) through Magical Express with the yellow tags, and kept half our luggage/carry-on's (7 bags) with us on the bus for items that we would need access to that night and the next morning. This plan would work perfectly since we were checking out of All Star Sports the next morning and transferring to Saratoga Springs, anyways. Or so we thought....

Jon, Tom, and Jimm waited for our luggage to be unloaded from the Magical Express bus while Karen, Penny, and I went and got in line at the front desk to try and figure out the room situation. There was a huge line at the regular check in area, but we were first in line at the Online Check In desk. However, there was only one cast member helping the Online Check In line and she was clearly having issues with the guests that she was already helping. They kept looking frustrated and she kept making several different phone calls. We sat in line for around 20 min before another cast member finally came over to help us (we now had several people in line behind us). She pulled up our room reservations to find the problem, and asked us if we aware that our two rooms were in two different buildings and if we maybe wanted to be closer together. Um....yeah....especially since I called when I first made the reservation and requested adjoining rooms, requested adjoining rooms at online check in, AND faxed in a request for adjoining rooms a few days before our arrival. She made some phone calls and ended up switching us around so that we had....ADJOINING ROOMS! I was pretty annoyed that this request wasn't granted initially since they clearly had the availability to do so, but whatever. She scanned in all of our bands to get them setup with the new room accesses and we trekked off to our second floor room assignments in the Surf's Up area. Jimm and Karen easily got into their room BUT Jon, Tom, and my bands would not let us into our rooms. Great.

The plan for this night had been that we would set Penny's playpen up in our room and then leave the adjoining doors open and give the monitor to Karen and Jimm while Jon, Tom, and I went over to the Poly for drinks. At this point, however, Penny was way past her bedtime and barely had had a nap on the place so she was past exhaustion. Jon stayed with Karen and Jimm to get her setup in their room instead while Tom and I went back to try and straighten out the bands. We waited in yet another long line before we finally got up to a cast member. We explained the situation, she took our bands back to another guy sitting further back behind the desk, they played around for a bit with the bands, then she came back and gave them to us. She said that the bands were reading fine on their end so she was going to send someone to our room to let us in and if we were still having issues in the morning then we could come back when they weren't so busy. Umm, sorry you're busy but thanks for making me feel like our issue isn't a priority. Whatever, it was already past 10pm now, we were still wanting to go out tonight, and we were checking out the next day so rather than sit and fight with it, I gave in and we went back to our room. We sat outside for a bit until someone came to let us in, then we opened the adjoining door, made sure Penny was calm enough that we thought she would be able to get to bed ok, took Jimm's band so that we could get in through their room when we got back, and headed out to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

We caught a bus almost immediately that we had totally to ourselves, and by 10:30 we were on our way. Once we started moving, all of the stress and exhaustion from the day started to melt away and I got giddy at the fact that we were finally back in my happy place! We saw some of the Christmas party excitement happening inside the Magic Kingdom as we passed by to catch the monorail to the Poly. The castle lit up was so beautiful, I could hardly believe it. As our monorail pulled into the Contemporary, Jon got a phone call from Jimm saying that Magical Express had come and tried to deliver our luggage. Jimm told them that we were checking out the next morning and didn't want to carry all that luggage down just to leave, so would they please take it to the front desk as we had been told before that it would be. The cast member was not happy about it but gave in, however this entire exchange had (as we feared it would) had woken up Penny who was now extremely overtired, in a strange place, and without Mom and Dad and was now screaming bloody murder. Fantastic. We decided to end our adventure and take the monorail back around to the Magic Kingdom and catch a bus back so that we could help calm her down. However, by the time the monorail got to the Poly we had gotten another phone call saying she had stopped crying and was almost asleep. What a rollercoaster ride of emotions today!

Our minds at ease, we decided to still attempt Trader Sam's. We checked in and was told it would be a 30 min wait. Considering that it was already 11:15 and it closed at 12, I took a buzzer but had pretty much given up hope that we would get in. Bummer. To kill time, we got in line at Captain Cook's because I really wanted some pork nachos, but it turns out that the only hot food they were selling at this time of night was flatbreads. Double bummer. We skipped it and went upstairs to Tamu Lounge so I could at least get one drink before we called it and headed back to Sports. I ordered a backscratcher, and just as the giant drink was handed to me, our buzzer went off! I downed the VERY strong drink as we walked down to Trader Sam's and grabbed three seats at the bar. SO worth it! The servers there were AWEOME (most notably Nick and then our bartender Simoh) and the environment was FANTASTIC. I couldn't believe how small it was! Simoh helped me pick out a drink based on my three criteria 1) It had to be strong and delicious 2) It had to come with an awesome souvenir glass and 3) There had to be some show element with the making of the drink. I ended up with the Shrunken Zombie Head on Simoh's recommendation that it would hit all three points. The "show" was a little underwhelming for that drink, but it definitely was strong and the glass was bad@$$ so I was happy. Plus we got to see some other pretty spectacular "drink performances" throughout the night. I wanted to order food too but no one else in the bar was eating so I was worried it was too late at night, so I skipped it. After the backscratcher and the zombie head, I was feeling pretty tipsy but I decided that I also need to order a Polynesian Pearl so that I could see it come out of the oyster. Another strong but delicious drink that I enjoyed greatly. Because of the time and my tipsiness that was now bordering on embarrassing, we decided to skip the Christmas party bus crowds home and called for an Uber driver instead. This was our first Uber and our driver Shawn was fantastic. We rated him 5 stars and commented that he was " 6'3" of awesomeness". We arrived at All Star Sports, set an alarm for 8am, and fell into bed. I'm pretty sure I was asleep before we even made it to the room.

UP NEXT: More All Star Sports frustration, a day at Epcot, Saratoga Springs saves the day, and WWoHP Diagon Alley

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Wow I'm exhausted just reading about your first day laugh It sounds like Miss Penny really was a little trooper for such a long, busy day!

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Sounds like a very busy travel day, but in the end, well worth it Smile Sorry about the frustration at the hotel, ugh.

The Poly is always our first stop as well! We are looking forward to Trader Sam's in a couple weeks and your pics/drinks make me even MORE excited!!

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MandaLynn wrote:
Sounds like a very busy travel day, but in the end, well worth it Smile Sorry about the frustration at the hotel, ugh.

The Poly is always our first stop as well! We are looking forward to Trader Sam's in a couple weeks and your pics/drinks make me even MORE excited!!

Yeah, All Star Sports was a major bummer but Saratoga Springs more then made up for it. And Trader Sam's could not have been a better experience. We all had fun there, even the two that weren't drinking.

Sorry for the delay on this report, I'm hoping to get the next day up today or tomorrow. crossfingers

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Magic Mirror wrote:
I was just thinking it didn't seem that long ago I was following your pregnancy blog...then
listening to you say in 2 years it would be Penny's first trip and like BAM!

I know! You took the words right out of my mouth (off my keyboard?) . She's such a big girl, and you guys look like you had a great time.

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Kristen K. wrote:
Magic Mirror wrote:
I was just thinking it didn't seem that long ago I was following your pregnancy blog...then
listening to you say in 2 years it would be Penny's first trip and like BAM!

I know! You took the words right out of my mouth (off my keyboard?) . She's such a big girl, and you guys look like you had a great time.

Thanks! We definitely did, though were more mishaps on this trip then I've ever had on any other Disney trip before combined! But it was just the most magical thing being able to see her experience Disney World and she has been asking daily if we can go back. So far Daddy hasn't caved though... laugh

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Allie wrote:
she has been asking daily if we can go back. So far Daddy hasn't caved though... laugh

That is adorable! Tell her to keep it up! I think art projects may be in order. laugh

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Haha already working on it! I'm presenting him with my "16 reasons why we should go to Disney the last week in April" speech tonight and Penny has been working on her pathetic face laugh

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Saturday, December 5th Part One

Due to the paper thin walls at All Star Sports, the next morning started bright and early. We could easily hear people walking by our room and, unfortunately for me, I'm a light sleeper and can't fall back asleep once I'm awake. So, slightly hungover with only a few hours of sleep under my belt, I got up and got ready, then woke Jon up to do the same. I had already checked through our adjoining door to see if the other room (Jimm and Karen and Penny) were awake, which they were not, but soon after Jon got in the shower I heard talking in the next room so I knocked on the door. After a pause, Jimm came to let me in, telling me that Magical Express was back. They had woken up the whole room, Penny included, to try and deliver our bags again. Frustrated, I went to the door and tried to explain the situation to the cast member and ask if he could please take the bags to the front desk as we would be checking out and moving to Saratoga Springs in a couple of hours. The cast member barely spoke English, however, and kept pointing off to the left and saying "Coronado Springs". I patiently explained the situation again a couple more times, asking that he please just take the bags to the front desk. He finally agreed and, as I shut the door, I wished that I had just taken the bags myself as now I was very worried that they were going to get lost.

I went back to my room and only minutes later Jimm came back to get me because the ME cast member had returned again. The cast member told me that he had just gotten off the phone with his supervisor who had told him to have me write my name and the resort we were moving to on the baggage tags and that they would just transfer them there. I told him that I'd rather we just take the bags and forget the whole thing, but he kept telling me "not to worry" and handed me a pen. I wrote my name and Saratoga Springs on the bags as he instructed and shut the door, very worried despite his instance.

I got a very sleepy Penny dressed and then, while everyone else in the rooms finished getting ready, Jon and I ran to the food court to pick up Mickey waffles and bacon to bring back to the room for everyone.

After a quick breakfast, we brought the remaining 7 bags of luggage to the baggage area outside the main building, where we asked that they be transferred to Saratoga Springs. The cast member there filled out a small form with our information and then told us that our bags would be at the Saratoga Springs front desk for pickup by 4:00pm. Hoping for a better day, we hopped on a bus to Epcot to officially start off our trip.

Once at Epcot, we had planned on starting with Spaceship Earth as Penny's first Walt Disney World ride, however the line was over 30 min so we decided to save it for later (we had a FastPass+ for later in the week) and moved onto Living with the Land which was sure to have a short wait, right? Nope, a 40 min wait in fact. I have never seen this ride not a walk on...what is up with that?! So back over to the Seas pavilion to use our FastPass+ for The Seas with Nemo and Friends with about a 5 min wait. Again, I've never not just walked straight onto this ride and even with a FastPass+ we waited a good 5 min or so. Obviously this is not a terrible wait, but it just shocked me as I thought the FastPass+ was going to be a total waste. Anyways, Penny enjoyed the ride.

While we were in the Seas anyways, we decided to forgo our later Turtle Talk with Crush Fastpass+ and just go now. Jon sat up front with Penny while Jimm, Karen, Tom, and I sat about half way back. The show was cute as always, but there was a severely autistic man with what I assume to be his parents a couple of rows in front of us. He wanted to be called on by Crush so badly, and when Crush said that he was going to take the last question and picked a kid from the front, the man put his noise cancelling headphones and glasses on and just shut down. I felt so awful for him. I really hope that the parents took him back to another show and asked a cast member if he could please ask a question because you could really tell it meant a lot to him.

We knew that Mulan had a meet and greet coming up in the China pavilion so we headed back that way in order to see her since Penny had on her Mulan shirt that day. On the way we stopped for a few minutes to play in the water and then spotted a reasonable line at the old Duffy pavilion to meet Daisy. Penny LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so we knew she'd like this. For it being her first character meet, she did really well, even if she was a little shy about hugging Daisy. We had a hard time getting a good picture of her though because she just wanted to stare at Daisy the whole time instead of smiling at the camera.

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Despite her tentativeness while we were up there, Penny could not stop talking about Daisy as we walked away. "Did you see Daisy?!" she kept saying. It was pretty adorable.

We headed back to China and got in line the queue that had already formed for Mulan. She was even shyer with Mulan since she was a face character, and Mulan was VERY chatty and didn't seem to notice or care how overwhelmed Penny was. She seemed more worried about getting all of her one liners out which was a little off putting. No big deal though as Penny is never super excited about Mulan to begin with so it ended up being more of a practice run for when we met some of her favorites.

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We were pretty hungry by this time, so after some debate we decided to retrace our steps and stop at La Cantina in Mexico. While ordering here, I learned the hard way that if you are using both the dining plan and paying out of pocket (Penny didn't have the dining plan since she was too young plus I wanted a margarita), you have to do two separate transactions. I held up the line for a bit while the cast member had to call a manager over to void my transaction and start over. I apologized profusely to the people around me and everyone was really nice about it. We got our food and brought into the super-secret indoor seating that no one seemed to know about because it was empty despite the crazy busyness outside. What a view and what great food! How have I never eaten here?! I don't remember for sure what Jimm and Karen got, but I got the fish tacos, Jon got the chicken tacos, and Tom got the beef tacos because I tried some of each. They were all good but the fish tacos were out of this world. Penny barely touched her empanadas so we got to eat most of those, as well, but she did greatly enjoy the grapes and the churros.

We were approaching Penny's naptime so we speed walked over to the UK pavilion to get in a meet with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger before she went down. We also got a wave from the UK Santa as he walked by to go backstage after his show, which Penny thought was pretty cool.

After a very short wait (I love that this Meet & Greet is so hidden because Mary Poppins out front had a huge line!) Penny got to go in and meet Pooh & Tigger. She even showed Tigger her bouncing!

She looks so unhappy in this picture but I promise she was excited!

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We had to pry Penny away from all of the Winnie the Pooh merch outside the meet and greet and got her to lie down in her stroller by letting her look at her autograph book for awhile. We hung outside the UK pavilion for a bit while Karen, Jimm, and Tom did some shopping, and we caught a bit of the Quickstep show before moving on so that Penny could fall asleep.

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We weren't sure how she would do sleeping in her stroller, but she did awesome which was a huge relief since that meant we could stay in the parks during her nap. Jimm, Karen, Tom, and Jon explored the France shops while I continued to walk around with Penny until she fell asleep. Jon and Tom waited in line to get me a Grey Goose Slushie while the rest of us moved on to Morocco. I really think this is my favorite pavilion; I just love walking around in there. Jon and Tom met up with us (with Grey Goose Slushie in hand!) and, now that we were sure Penny was truly asleep, we left her in the stroller with Jimm and Karen while they continued around World Showcase and we went and used our Soarin' FastPass+.

It's important to note here that this entire day Jon and I had been looking for our friend Brandon. He was in the college program while we were down there visiting and though we hadn't made solid plans to meet up yet, we knew that he was working at Epcot today stocking the carts. We also knew our chances were slim of seeing him since he didn't work in one location. As we walked over to the Land pavilion, we were talking about how we wished that we would see him. Jon kept yelling "Brandon" at the top of his lungs, and just as I was remarking that he should be easy to fins because he was so tall, we saw him a distance away, walking away from one of the carts just outside the Land. Jon sprinted after him and caught him just as he was about to turn off another way and pretty much jumped onto his back. It was so crazy to have spotted him just as we were talking about him, though it doesn't hurt that he is probably the tallest person I have ever met. We chatted for a bit before rushing off to our Soarin' FastPass+, remarking on our good luck.

Soarin' was great as per usual, though it did make Tom slightly motion sick. We requested to wait for the front row and had fun chatting with the cast members while we waited. As we got off the ride we realized that we never took a picture with Brandon. Bummer! We left the Land pavilion, sad about our forgetfulness, and there across the courtyard-y area was, you guessed it, Brandon! We chased him down again and got some pictures before promising we'd try and find him again once Penny was awake.

UP NEXT: Our luggage goes missing, We <3 Saratoga Springs, and Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Great pictures!! I love Mulan! Your group picture w her is very nice!
Looks like Penny did great with the characters.

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Penny is so adorable! Can't wait to read about (and see) more of her meet and greets.

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Thanks Barb and Boomer! muchlove

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I interrupt this trip report to announce that Penny and I worked our magic and wore Jon down! We're going back for a quick 5 day trip April 25th - 29th! yay yay yay

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Allie wrote:
I interrupt this trip report to announce that Penny and I worked our magic and wore Jon down! We're going back for a quick 5 day trip April 25th - 29th! yay yay yay

clapping clapping yay yay stars

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Allie wrote:
I interrupt this trip report to announce that Penny and I worked our magic and wore Jon down! We're going back for a quick 5 day trip April 25th - 29th! yay yay yay

Fantastic! yay yay

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loving the trip report but super excited that you twisted Jon's arm!!!!! yay yay yay

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How could anyone ever say no to adorable Penny?? Super excited for your trip!

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Really enjoyed the first part but oh no lost luggage on part 2!

How adorable is Penny, so cute Smile

clapping for going again in April Smile