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Trip Report The Many Adventures of the Figaro Family in Florida

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by Figaro Family, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    We were past the mini crisis, Xander's tummy was full, and family harmony reigned again. Maddie found a cool t-shirt to buy in the gift shop that featured her favorite Rip Ride Rockit in the background. It was just past 7pm and the Universal park wasn't going to close until 9pm. We decided to walk over since the entrance was close to Hard Rock. The plan was to just go to a couple of rides at the front of the park because we didn't have the stroller. We hadn't gone on the Minion Mayhem ride yet so we checked the wait time. It was 45 minutes so I got a return time on Xander's card and we headed across the street to Shrek 4D. We only had to wait for the next showing to start.
    We hadn't seen this before and ended up loving it! It's been several years since we watch a Shrek movie. When Maddie was about seven we went through a Shrek phase and watched all the movies with her as well as Puss and Boots. Maddie enjoyed it and Xander had a lot of fun with the theater seats that moved and actually tried on the 3D glasses and kept them on for most of the show! He has major sensory issues with putting things on his face as well as wearing hats or putting anything over his ears. We've been lucky so far that he does not need glasses, he just recently started wearing headphones for listening to the computer at school and his ipod on the airplane. This past winter was the first time in eight years that I've gotten him to pull up the hood on his jacket when it rains, we haven't made it to hats yet. All this to say that I was very excited when he tried on the glasses and realized what they did and started peeking over them to see the difference.
    When Shrek was done, it was time to get in line for Minions!
    IMG_7199 (2).JPG IMG_7205 (2).JPG Xander examined his minion glasses while we waited in line. He voluntarily tried them on and wore them during the ride! IMG_7208 (2).JPG IMG_7211 (2).JPG IMG_7204 (2).JPG Decorating idea.
    IMG_6575.JPG IMG_6578.JPG After the ride we checked out the gift shop. Xander thought it was funny to try on Minion goggles! Three things on his face in one night!
    Shopping for souvenirs with Xander is difficult. He never asks for anything and if you show him something, he immediately says "no!" We have started to realize that it's not necessarily that he doesn't want anything but that he has a hard time removing things from where he first saw them. So if you pull a stuffed animal off a shelf in front of him, he compulsively wants it put back where it "belongs". Going by this theory we decided not to bombard him with "do you like this? What about this?" Instead we watched for him to show interest in something and then bought it later when he didn't have to watch it being removed from its place. He really loves the minions and I was pretty sure he wanted a big stuffed one.
    As we left the store empty handed for the moment, Xander started to ask for the hotel. We decided that James would take him and start getting him ready for bed while I took Maddie to Rip Ride Rockit since she hadn't gotten to ride it yet that day. She got in the single rider line with a 15 minute wait and I went back to the Minion store and picked out a big stuffed minion for Xander.
    IMG_7213 (2).JPG Very dark picture of Maddie after she was done with her ride. Looks like she went at the perfect time, the single rider wait time had bumped up to 35 minutes! We headed out of the park. IMG_7215 (2).JPG Goodnight Universal Studios! IMG_7217 (2).JPG Goodnight Hard Rock Cafe!

    Xander was taking a bath when we got back to the room, so I put the minion on his bed to surprise him when he came out. It worked! He was very excited and cuddled with it every night for the rest of the vacation!
     
  2. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    IMG_7220 (2).JPG The next morning, Xander still asleep with his minion:inlove:
     
  3. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Wednesday August 23, Last Universal day and the day when this trip report finally becomes a DISNEY trip report!

    We set the alarm slightly earlier so that James and I could get ready and make sure we were all packed up to leave the room. Once we left for the parks this morning we wouldn't be back. James made a run to the rental car with the first load and picked up our usual snack breakfast. He must have been in a good mood because he stopped on the way back and took this picture to show us.
    IMG_6583.JPG He was tickled that the duck was taking advantage of the pool. Spoiled resort ducks:rolleyes:.
    Once we were ready and the car was loaded, we set off for our last day at Universal. IMG_7223 (2).JPG Waiting for the elevator down to the walking path.
    IMG_7228 (2).JPG Last early morning walk to Universal.
    We made it to Hogsmeade shortly after 8am and I demanded a family photo. I'd realized that we hadn't gotten a good family picture the entire time we'd been at Universal! We found someone willing to take the picture for us. Family photos with Xander are hit and miss.
    IMG_7230 (2).JPG Here's one where he decided he hadn't gotten in enough morning stretches.
    IMG_7233 (2).JPG This is the one I deemed good enough for Facebook. James looks a little pained.

    Maddie had to have one last ride on Dragon Challenge and James took Xander on Hippogriff. On our one Universal day two years ago the thing Maddie wanted to do the most was to go to the wand chooses experience and for a wand to choose her. I took her to the experience but she wasn't chosen the first time, so I took her again and that time a wand chose her! She had saved up her money with the goal of getting a wand, so of course she bought the one that chose her and was so excited to follow the map and do all the spells. Two years later, she brought the wand with her on the trip but has gotten very self conscious and worried about looking "babyish" so the previous two days wouldn't get the wand out. James and I pointed out that we'd been seeing adults running around with wands and not worrying about what other people were thinking. "you can't bring that wand all the way to Florida and not use it!" She finally agreed to get it out the last morning and do some spells. James stayed with her while I took Xander on Hippogriff one last time.
    IMG_6591.JPG IMG_6593.JPG IMG_6595.JPG Maddie, not too old for magic spells after all.
    IMG_7237 (2).JPG Someone in line for Hippogriff was nice enough to take this picture for me!
    IMG_7236 (2).JPG
    Maddie felt like two time on the Hogwarts castle ride was good enough and didn't need to go again. Xander and I met up with Maddie and James at Honeydukes where Maddie was eyeing the bakery treats in the case. They did look pretty great, so we decided to share some!
     
  4. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    IMG_6600.JPG Maddie and I chose these pumpkin cakes, I wish I'd taken an up close picture of one. They were really good, covered in extremely sugary icing:hungry:.
    The sun started getting a bit intense while we were finishing up the treats so we ducked into this shaded alley and admired all the details including the sound effects of pots clanging bubbling coming from the side window of the Three Broomsticks.

    IMG_7243 (2).JPG
    By the time we were done with the treats it was 9am and we could enter the rest of the park. The Reign of Kong ride was one on Maddie's list that we hadn't done yet. I had consulted the park map and figured out that we'd missed it the day before when we'd gone to Jurassic Park, We just had to walk a little further. Everyone enjoyed the ride, though Xander did not want to wear the 3D glasses for this one. We looped around the path through the comics area that we hadn't seen yet and James and I reminisced about looking forward to the Sunday newspaper comics when we were kids. Maddie didn't get why this area still exists at all. We got to Hulk and the wait time was only 15 minutes so Maddie went for her second Hulk ride. I waited for her while James and Xander went ahead to Dr. Seuss. We met back up with them a short time later and we all enjoyed some water time.
    IMG_6611.JPG IMG_6606.JPG IMG_6617.JPG I really want a replica of this play area in our hometown!
    IMG_6626.JPG IMG_6629.JPG Another trip for Xander with the Cat in the Hat.
    IMG_7251 (2).JPG
    James and Xander took another spin on One Fish Two Fish.

    Since we'd gone to the Universal side twice on the Hogwarts Express and wanted to ride it the other direction before we left for good, I thought it would be better to exit Islands of Adventure now and go to the other park through the front entrance.
     
  5. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    IMG_7253.JPG Going this way meant we could finally get a family photo in front of the Universal globe!
     
  6. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    IMG_7259 (2).JPG IMG_7258 (2).JPG Maddie was eager for one last ride on Rip Ride Rockit and the posted wait time for single rider was only 10 minutes! I finally got a daytime picture of her in front of her favorite ride and sent her to the line. See, right behind her it says 10 minutes. For such a short wait time James and I decided we would get some lemonades from a nearby stand and wait with Xander by the exit for Maddie to come out. It took over 45 minutes! The listed wait time kept bumping up and I was starting to get worried about where she was when I finally spotted her. She said that the wait to get on was more like 30 minutes and that the ride stopped a couple of times while she was on it, thankfully not upside down:eek:. Xander was pretty frustrated about being stuck in the stroller for so long. We promised him we'd all be going on a different roller coaster really soon.
    Revenge of the Mummy was nearby and the wait time was short. This was another one to check off Maddie's list and we decided to all ride it together. Really fun, but a little hard on my neck. I was doing OK until the part where you're tricked into thinking the ride is over. I started to relax and turn my head to say something to James when we were jolted (because the Mummy wasn't done with us yet) and off the ride went again. I try to face forward and keep my head as steady as possible when I do go on a ride, so that jolt with my head turned was a bit unpleasant. Luckily I was able to do some stretches afterward and didn't get a spasm.
    It was now noon and we were starved for lunch. I had been wanting to go to Mel's Drive in diner and Maddie thought that sounded cool so we headed that way. This is a sentimental pick for me, I loved 50's and 60's music and all things 50's decor when I was a kid and really wished I could jump into the 50's part of Back to the Future. When my family went to Universal for the first time in 1989 I was so excited to get to eat in a 50's diner!
    We had a good time at the diner. I loved the background music and kept saying "I love this song!" and "I used to listen to this one all the time!" It's funny because now Maddie likes a lot of 80's music that I mostly ignored when it was actually new. We joked that Universal needs to make the 80's themed diner from Back to the Future 2.
    IMG_6636.JPG IMG_7267 (2).JPG
    Maddie was a little disappointed that the mini jukebox was just for decoration. She wanted to try out the "original ipod". IMG_7278 (2).JPG IMG_7282 (2).JPG Chocolate Oreo milkshake:hungry:.
     
  7. gdisneyfans

    gdisneyfans Well-Known Member

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    Oh shoot! Would have been fun to see you guys!

    Kids:)

    Thank you! We are really enjoying having her!! She has her moments like we even do, but we're all in love with that little thing:inlove: Yay Wisconsin too! You should bring her back, I bet she would love to see where she's "from"!
     
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  8. gdisneyfans

    gdisneyfans Well-Known Member

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    Me too! My Saturday morning ritual is turning on the "Oldies" music channel and cleaning - it just gets me in the mood for some reason:joyfull:
     
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  9. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I do this with baking! I also love big band music like Glenn Miller. Maybe I was born in the wrong time period?
     
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  10. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Mel's Dinner photos are making my stomach growl! I agree with Maddie - juke boxes should work. also like the Back to the Future Idea.
     
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  11. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Maddie has had a fascination with jukeboxes for awhile now. I've been surprised with her determination to find one that works, it's one of those times when she lets her guard down and acts like a kid:). She finally got her wish later in the trip when we ate at Beaches and Cream! We watched all the Back to the Future movies with her during the week in 2015 when Marty was supposed to arrive 30 years in the "future". She became as big a fan as us and got a kick out of the things that were predicted to happen. She was really mad when I told her there used to be a ride at Universal that was replaced with the Simpsons:joyfull:.
     
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  12. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Wednesday August 23 continued

    Our goal for the day was to leave Universal around 3pm. Our next stop on this vacation was THE CONTEMPORARY!! We had an ADR at Chef Mickey's for 5:20. When we were done with lunch we had about two hours left at the Universal parks. Everything on Maddie's list had been checked off except a trip on the Hogwarts Express the other direction. We decided to spend time at Xander's favorite area on the Universal side before visiting Diagon Alley one last time.
    First a ride on the Woody Woodpecker coaster
    IMG_7288 (2).JPG This coaster has nets that cut into your ankles too!
    We moved on to the Curious George play area and Xander surprised us by whipping off his shirt:jawdrop:.
    IMG_6637.JPG Apparently this was his solution for not getting wet going through the splash and spray area:joyfull:. We talked him into putting the shirt back on and he had some fun while protecting his ears. IMG_7300 (2).JPG IMG_7306 (2).JPG IMG_7304 (2).JPG Maddie checked things out for a second before remembering that she's "way to old for this".

    Then we went to Diagon Alley. IMG_7312 (2).JPG IMG_7316 (2).JPG Maddie cast a few more spells.
    IMG_7320 (2).JPG We went to the wand chooses experience just for fun since James and Xander hadn't gone last time. We watched two siblings get their wands. Maddie admitted that she enjoyed this. "I thought it was funny when the wizard gave them each a wand and then had to switch them when the spells didn't work" she commented.
    I was surprised as we were leaving that Maddie started asking the wizard serious questions about her own wand and they had a whole discussion about it. Awww still my sweet kid:inlove:.
    After that we decided to get our final souvenirs from Harry Potter world before going to the train. Maddie picked out a shirt, I got a Hogwarts Express Christmas ornament, and James decided that he needed a Hufflepuff house scarf. "Seriously?" I asked. He was very serious, he walks our dog Hattie every night and has a collection of dapper old man hats that he wears for walks in the winter. He decided that he needed a scarf too, and why not Hufflepuff? I can't wait to get a picture of him when it gets cold out!

    We took one last look at the Magical Menagerie and I took a picture of Maddie holding a Hungarian Horntail since I'd forgotten to when she picked hers out the other day.
    . IMG_7323 (2).JPG We were all thirsty for one last Butterbeer but I suggested we wait until we got to Hogsmeade, so we were off to King's Cross Station for one last ride.
     
  13. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    IMG_7325 (2).JPG Platform 9 and 3/4!
    IMG_6653.JPG IMG_6655.JPG IMG_6659.JPG You really do get a different experience going both ways on the train so I'm glad we took time to do this!
    We went to Honeydukes and got some more candy along with the chocolate frogs I'd promised Maddie. Then it was time for Butterbeers. IMG_6666.JPG Final butterbeers of the vacation deserved a picture in Harry Potter world.
     
  14. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    It was just about time to leave Universal but as we passed Dr. Seuss land we couldn't resist Xander's pleas for "playground!".
    IMG_7330 (2).JPG I had to get a picture of Xander with the Mr. Brown can Moo sign first. We've read that book with him more times than I can count.
    IMG_6668.JPG IMG_7341 (2).JPG IMG_7343 (2).JPG IMG_7344 (2).JPG Love this water area!
    I ducked into the Cat in the Hat store to buy a Thing 1 plush to surprise Xander with later. Every time he rode Cat in the Hat he would start giggling at the parts with Things 1 and 2 rampaging through the house.
    IMG_6677.JPG IMG_6680.JPG As Xander had one last bit of fun in the play area, we started feeling drops of water on our heads. At first we didn't understand that it wasn't coming from the water features. What was this? Uh oh... the first rain we'd had since our first night at Universal! We loaded Xander up in the stroller and tried to hurry out of the park. Just when we got to a sheltered area under a bridge the skies opened and sheets of rain started falling. We debated how long we should stand there and whether we should give in and break out the ponchos. About five minutes went by and the rain started easing up a little bit. I noticed that a nearby gift shop stretched almost to the park entrance. "let's go through there and put on the ponchos if we need to" Magically when we came out the other end of the shop the rain had died down to a sprinkle, no ponchos necessary. "That was weird how it didn't really start raining until we got under the shelter then stopped as soon as we decided to go through the gift shop." I commented. "huh" said James. That wasn't our first or last bit of luck with the weather. Before the trip, every day was forecast to be 80% or more chance of rain but we hadn't had any problem so far. Right then I predicted that our luck was sure to run out and we'd be in ponchos before we knew it. So happy to be wrong!
    We exited the park and took our last walk down the path to the resort. It was time to get the rental car and drive to Disney World at last!

    Unfortunately this is the moment when Xander had his second meltdown of the vacation:arghh:. Our transition to part two of this trip would not be a smooth one...
     
  15. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    This post will be very text heavy since I was in no mood to document the following events with pictures:grumpy:.
    We have made so much progress with Xander in all areas since our spectrum journey began when we finally figured out that something was "different" with him at the age of two. His vocabulary has gone from zero to being able to communicate with short sentences and phrases. We were thrilled when he finally learned how to say "yes" and "no" at the age of seven, then went through the developmental stage of the terrible two's where everything was a "no" (such a powerful word!). About two years ago he started to grasp the concept of feelings and is now able to answer the question "how do you feel?" with sad, mad, excited etc. He can read aloud fluently when at one time everyone but us was skeptical that he had the potential to learn how to read. Same thing with handwriting. It is still awkward but he's doing it and can spell a lot of words on his own! With all of this, our philosophy is never say never. I still have hope that someday Xander will be able to participate in a complex conversation where I can ask him questions about why something made him sad or mad. Or "what are you thinking right now?" "what did you dream about last night?" It could happen, but that day hasn't arrived yet so that leaves us scrambling to predict how Xander might react to things and to figure out why he's having that reaction.
    The incident at the Hard Rock Cafe took us a bit by surprise. The difficult transition between hotels was not so surprising but the intensity of it certainly was!
    I had prepared for this moment as much as possible. The vacation schedule book clearly said that we'd be going to a new hotel today and we'd read it together in the morning. He'd even been saying "first Universal Studios, then Disney World" all day, showing that he was excited to finally go to Disney World. I am certain that Xander would have been fine if we'd gone straight to the Contemporary after leaving the room that morning or if we'd been able to get in the car at the park and head out from there. Unfortunately we had to walk back through the Sapphire Falls lobby to get to the parking garage.
    It was the minute that we went toward the garage instead of back to our room that Xander broke down. We had been explaining to Xander "We can't go back to the hotel room. All done hotel room. We have to get in the vacation car and drive to the new hotel." It didn't matter, he couldn't get away from the intense feeling that we needed to go back to our room like we always did when we got back to the hotel. At least this is how we interpreted his reaction. Unfortunately we were all checked out and could not complete the circuit of going into the room and then leaving. Xander's howls of distress echoed through the parking garage as we struggled to get him into the car and James loaded up the stroller. We have the child safety locks engaged on both of our cars at home as well as buckle guards because Xander had started unbuckling himself and jumping out of the car to bolt as it came to a stop last year. We brought along a buckle guard but were dismayed that the back door did not have a child safety lock installed. I buckled him in, but he kept opening the door while still screaming as we were trying to organize everything and get the driving directions set up on the GPS. "Xander cut it out!!" Tempers were getting frayed all around as James asked me to give him the room key cards. We needed to swipe one in order to get out of the garage and have the parking charges applied.
    As I dug the key cards out and handed them over, Xander tried out the Jedi mind trick technique. "This is a new hotel! This is a new hotel!" he cried as he gestured toward Sapphire Falls. "Is he trying to trick us into staying here?" we asked each other. Xander quieted down a little as he waited to see if it had worked. "No Xander, I know you are sad but we have to go to the next hotel. We are all done with this hotel." :cry::cry::cry: :bawling: was Xander's response to that. James had to get something out of the back of the rental van in the middle of this, I can't remember what. He got back in the drivers seat and started driving toward the exit. "I need those room keys" he says to me. "I already gave them to you." I said irritably. "I don't have them." He starts frantically rummaging around. We end up re parking as Xander continued crying, both of us rummaging through everything for the key cards (and maybe throwing around some snarly unkind words):cautious:. James even ran back to our previous parking spot to see if he'd dropped them on the ground. While he was over there I looked one more time in the little compartment in between the front seats that I'd already searched through three times and magically there they were! Finally we could leave this parking garage of torture!
    Xander continued to cry piteously but more quietly, every once in awhile throwing out a "this is a new hotel" pointing back toward Sapphire Falls" It was raining again, echoing the mood in the car.
    As we followed the GPS directions I kept expecting to get onto the main highway but we kept turning onto small back roads. It was a pleasant drive with no traffic so we decided to just keep going. As we started to see Mickey shaped signs here and there, I said "This is strange, we haven't gone through a main entrance gate yet." I had my phone out waiting to get that first picture of entering the Disney "bubble". We started to suspect that the GPS had taken us in a back way, possibly on roads meant more for backstage cast members. Xander had started noticing the Mickey's and his mood improved dramatically. "Disney World!" he said and giggled "Arrggh:banghead:" I said. How does he shift moods so fast?
    IMG_7347 (2).JPG Pictures I took as we started to realize we'd entered the bubble without knowing it! There are Mickey head signs on the left. Yep that looks like Disney property on the GPS map! IMG_7349 (2).JPG IMG_7356 (2).JPG Look! Fort Wilderness!
    IMG_7357 (2).JPG

    And there it is folks, the backside of the welcome to Disney World entrance. We'd already been in the world for several minutes, surprise!
    IMG_7360 (2).JPG The Contemporary!
    I had done the on line check in several weeks earlier and had been anticipating a room ready text all afternoon but it never came. During the drive I thought to check My Disney Experience and sure enough, there was a link to our room number!
    IMG_7362.PNG Everything was happy and right with the world again. We were in Disney World at last:happy:.
    Except as we entered the Contemporary parking lot, Xander uttered these dreaded words...
    "Do you need to go to the potty?!!" :jawdrop: I'll translate for you, Xander makes a lot of statements about what he wants or needs as if they are questions someone is asking him. This particular statement means "I have to go to the bathroom right this minute! I'm about to burst! Emergency! Emergency!"

    Xander was also late to the toilet training game. We finally stopped doing diaper changes when he was seven:eek:. We bless our good fortune every day that he is in big boy underpants now. However, we have to make Xander take bathroom breaks throughout the day because he will only admit that he has to go at the very last second. James and I looked at each other in horror as we realized that we hadn't stopped at the hotel lobby bathroom earlier because Xander had started his meltdown:facepalm:.
    So this is how we arrived at the Contemporary. James frantically wheeling Xander in his stroller at lightning speed to the lobby men's room where they made it just in time (no wet pants in the posh Contemporary lobby for us, thank you very much!) I'm sure James had a wild look in his eyes that scared a few people. Maddie and I followed behind with as much of the luggage as we could handle. Both of us too stunned to properly enjoy the moment of entering the coolest hotel we've ever stayed in:(.

    Next: Don't Worry, Everything gets way better from here. Disney Magic cannot be stopped:joyfull:!
     
  16. riverside

    riverside Well-Known Member

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    Aaawww...I feel so bad that all of you had to go through that. It broke my heart just reading it. I'm happy to hear that things get better!!
     
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  17. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    alright! Made it to WDW. I hope thing go better for Xander.
     
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  18. harleebug

    harleebug New Member

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    Following along-our oldest DS (6) is on the spectrum and our youngest DS (3) is now going through the evaluation/diagnosis stage. So much of what you describe we also face. We were set to check in at the Fort the day Irma so kindly made her appearance, so now we are checking in for the last week of October. Glad things were better once he realized he was in the Disney bubble.
     
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  19. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I got a little stressed out again when writing about it:p. Seriously though, I didn't want to gloss over it and pretend every minute of the vacation was total bliss but also didn't want to get too down about it. There definitely were funny moments in retrospect! "This is a new hotel!" is one of our favorite family sayings right now. We'll just randomly say it and start cracking up:happy:. There were some other bumpy moments throughout the trip but it was mostly smooth sailing from that point by comparison!
     
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  20. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Thank you! Xander had a few more "moments" but was mostly happy the rest of the vacation.
     
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