As a Christmas present this year Gabby and Grandaddy took us to Disney World along with Matt, Katie and Trinity. Everyone was in on the secret except Everett, who we told on Christmas Eve. Remarkably, he didn’t find out beforehand despite several close calls at home and in Cincinnati. After a few of these we concluded that Melissa is probably not cut out to be a spy.

The Disney trip was exceptional. We arrived about midday on Saturday with our wristbands on and went straight to the Contemporary Hotel. It seemed too late in the day to use a park pass, so instead we went to the pool in the afternoon and went to bed at a reasonable time that night. We didn’t know if at the time, but this would be our last reasonable bedtime for about a week. Most days we got up to have an early breakfast and then went to one of the parks, then came back to the hotel to rest in the afternoon, and then went to the parks again in the evening. This time of year was high season and the parks were open long hours which were extended even further for people who were staying on Disney property. We could have gone to the Magic Kingdom from 7am to 3am almost every day of the week. A photo gallery of the trip is here.

Day 2: It was raining so we went to Disney Studios, which seemed the best option for the weather. One highlight of many was the Star Tours ride. After returning to the hotel and resting in the afternoon, we went to the Magic Kingdom for a couple hours where we got to experience short lines and lots of repeated rides like the Barnstormer roller coaster. This was our first roller coaster of the week with Everett and he loved it. We also went on Splash Mountain a few times. On the way out of the park that night we discovered that there is a magic system where kids can become sorcerers and interact with seemingly inert objects and window displays around the park.

Day 3: We went to the Magic Kingdom during the day, and Everett practiced more sorcery.

Day 4 (New Year’s Eve): We went to Animal Kingdom. The safari was by far the best attraction. That night we had a fantastic dinner at Sanaa before returning to the hotel for a toast and nightcap.
At midnight we watched the fireworks from the hotel.

Day 5: We had an early start with a 7am character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s.
Then went to Epcot. It was raining off and on, but we were still able to get in all of the rides we had planned on. And Everett was able to experience the magic of becoming a secret agent. Like the Magic Kingdom we discovered that there is a whole other world at work within Epcot. It is brilliant, simply too cool to describe in words. The short of it is that you get to be a secret agent who is trying to defeat Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and there is a different adventure in each country. In each adventure you use a cell phone to communicate with headquarters to receive your mission instructions. Then you use it to interact with seemingly inert objects all over the park.

Day 6: On the last day we had a quick breakfast and went straight to the park to ride the Thunder Mountain Railroad. Then we met the rest of the family at the front of the park for photos,
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and then went on two more rides before returning to the room for our midday rest. By late afternoon we were ready to go again, so we dropped the babies off with Gabby and Grandaddy and took the monorail to Epcot where we did an Agent P adventure in Mexico, had dinner in Germany, rode Maelstrom, and finally had dessert in France. We took the monorail home and as we passed the Magic Kingdom on the way to our hotel Everett realized that this was our last day. Chris and Melissa were both really tired, but Everett looked deflated and really wanted to go on one more ride. So he and Chris stayed on the monorail and went back around to the Magic Kingdom where we arrived just in time to see the fireworks and watch Tinker Bell fly down from the castle. Then we rode Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain one last time. As we got off Splash Mountain we realized that the train back to the park exit had closed and that we had to walk, which worked out ok because we saw the parade once more on the way out.


-We have never seen so many strollers in our lives. There were huge stroller parking lots in many areas of the park, each with attendants.

-The twins and Everett were fantastic during the trip. We got into a daily rhythm of breakfast, park, lunch, nap, dinner, park (with Everett). The daily nap seemed to be the key element to keep everyone sane and happy. Many nights we accepted the generous offer from Gabby and Grandaddy’s En Suite Babysitting Service to watch the twins while Chris, Melissa and Everett went back to the park for the evening. Everyone in the family did surprisingly well considering how tiring it can be to have fun all day.

-We learned Everett’s signal when he is ready for a ride on Chris’ shoulders. He walks right in from of Chris and stops, then puts his arms straight out to the sides and says “I’m ready for the comfy seat!” Interestingly, Everett often reported that he was not tired, but that he couldn’t walk any farther. That must be another manifestation of the magic in the Magic Kingdom.

-Everett observed during this trip that Gwen looks right in your eyes when she cries, while Teddy closes his. Also, Gwen’s eyebrows turn red when she is upset.

-Disney is much more advanced than when Chris or Melissa were kids, and even more than we imagined. Examples are the Fast Pass system, the bracelets, the line system for families with infants.

-Everett worked his way up the roller coasters from Barnstormer to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to Expedition Everest and finally Space Mountain. He never expressed the slightest reservation about getting on any of them. In fact, he used the word “awesome!” pretty often.

-We never anticipated that a platypus would have such a huge role in our lives. Everett doesn’t ask for much in the way of toys, so when he expresses interest in something then people try to do what they can. He now has Perry the Platypus pajamas, curtains, 3 platypus stuffed animals, Mickey Mouse ears, shoes and several other things that I am probably forgetting. The amazing thing about this is what an odd superhero Perry makes. He doesn’t talk, and in fact he makes on one sound (kind of a teeth-chattering grrrrr). His major appeal seems to be his intelligence, sense of adventure and the mystique of being a secret agent. Good stuff.

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