9 Days of Celebrating DS3’s Cancer Recovery (10/26-11/3)

Reading trip reports was invaluable to my planning process over the last 18 months. They inspired me, informed me, and entertained me. Now it is my turn to contribute. Unfortunately, my trip has left me completely exhausted and I need to catch up on work, so this may take some time to complete. First, I’m just writing an outline for each day before I start forgetting things. Then I am going to go back and color in the story as I have time. When each day is complete, I will post it. For today, I will just share the background.

I know there are a lot of veteran Liners reading this, but also a lot of newcomers. I will try to include something for everyone.

Before I begin, I’d like to thank specifically the following Liners that in some way helped me over the last year and a half. Sorry if I’ve left anyone off, which I’m certain is the case (I stopped keeping track a few months ago). Thank you @bbailey1021 @bethro23 @bswan26 @Cgerres @davej @DeepInTheHeartofTexas @DumboRunner @jeremy1002 @JJT @kerrilux @Laura_hastings @maryroyal @melcort10 @missoverexcited @mousematt @Nickysyme @OBNurseNH @Pod @PrincipalTinker @qwerty6 @Randall1028 @sbbradshaw @SillySamsMom @Wahoohokie

BACKGROUND

WHAT: In 2018 my youngest son (18mo at the time) defeated a rare form of Cancer after 4 months of chemo and a major spinal surgery - they removed his 2 lowermost sacral vertebrae and his coccyx (tailbone). To celebrate his recovery and the passing of a very dark time for our family, we decided to take an epic trip to Disney World.

WHEN/WHERE: Halloween, starting Oct 26-30 at Wilderness Lodge (WL), then finishing up at Boardwalk (BW) until Nov 3 for a total of 8 nights

WHO: Me, DW, DS4 (turns 5 next week), DS3 (warrior Cancer survivor), DD1 (well, 10mo), DW’s parents (GG and PP) the first 4 nights, and my parents (GM and GP) the last 4 nights). All 1st timers except for DW and her parents.

From left to right: GG and PP, Me, DD1 and DW, GM and GP, DS4 and DS3


MISCELLANEOUS: DS3’s surgery left him with special needs related to bladder/bowel management which comes into the story in the form of needing the Disability Access Service (DAS), and needing long mid-day breaks. If you want a really detailed background story, you can read about TheProphet’s story, which is remarkably similar to my own (wink wink): A Dream Delayed. DS3 also has severely allergic to eggs, bananas, and a few other minor foods, so I will mention some things about allergy-friendly dining. We rented a double stroller from Kingdom Stollers to use on property, but also brought our own single umbrella stroller for DD1 to have before and after (and also to have a 3rd seat while touring). I’ll add more “misc” stuff here as a I remember it. We carried a diaper bag for DD1 and medical bag for DS3 every day. Lots of stuff to carry and push around…

Finally, I want to warn you that I tried very hard to keep my phone in my pocket on this trip and stay present with my kids. Because of that, I did not take very many “remarkable” photos without my family in them, and I’d like to minimize their exposure for privacy. So there may or may not be very many pictures to satisfy your vicarious cravings. But I’ve barely started going through pictures, so it may be better than I think.

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I wish I could thank more Liners, but the system would only let me tag 25 usernames. I think it’s ok though, I don’t want to be too “spammy”. I’ve thanked most of you already anyways.

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Your trip report! What a wonderful gift for all of us! Thank you!

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I don’t know what I did to help, but I’ve loved following along and praying for your family! I can’t wait to read all about it :heart_eyes:

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A great trip report maybe, or just helpful questions/answers!

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Wow. I am honored to be mentioned. I can’t wait to read the whole report.
This is a wonderful picture.
Bring it on!!

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You and your family inspire all of us with your joy, love, and strength.

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I thank you for sharing your story. what an incredible story

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Love the group photo and I am so happy you got to go on your trip!

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I’m excited for this report! Thank you for sharing and I’m so glad you all got to spend this valuable time together!

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That photo of your family is awesome! I am happy that your family (including all 4 grandparents) finally got to take this trip! I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip report.

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Love the photo! I’m honoured to have helped you and I’m looking forward to reading more!

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Humbled to be mentioned, thrilled about the trip’s success as well as the news of being cancer free, and eager to hear/read the report!!

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Oh, hooray! I loved reading the planning, can’t wait to hear about the execution!

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This picture!!! :heart_eyes::sob::heart_eyes: I am honored to be mentioned but more than that simply thrilled you and your family were able to celebrate your son’s triumph over cancer with this epic trip!!! I can’t wait to see it all unfold. Thank you for sharing with us!

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This is terrific.

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I’m very, very happy things have turned out so well & thank you so much for coming back and sharing this beautiful picture with us. I’m glad my metaphysical ramblings were of some use to you. God bless you & your family, and can’t wait to see the rest of your trip report!

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I am super happy to have been able to help you out! I wish we had run into each other but I hope you were able to stay cool enough and enjoy the low crowds!

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I’m still waiting on everyone to send me their photos, but I wanted to go ahead and post the first day’s report. I just can’t wait any longer to start sharing our story! I’ve included a few photos, but will hopefully add more soon. I’m also going to wait until I have more photos to post Day 2. While waiting, I’m going to polish my race report and post it to my charity running blog. Stay tuned…

DAY 1 (SAT OCT 26): THE MAGIC BEGINS!

Sleep night before: 6h35m (1h25m sleep deficit)

Steps: 23,574

Miles: 11.7

Weather: 76-89°F (record warm low), 70-90% humidity (heat index ~100°F in afternoon)

Crowd Level: 8 (predicted) 6 (actual)

5:00AM Woke up, finished packing, woke up kids, loaded up car and left at 5:40 for Love Field (flying Southwest). Got the closest parking spot in the garage at the airport (not quite a “magical moment”, but pretty awesome way to start off), and walked inside around 6:15.

6:20AM Went through TSA-pre-check security, which was quite an ordeal with DS3’s medical bag and DD1’s baby bag with bottles and formula, but going through the pre-check line was really quick. Only took a few minutes, and we made it to our gate at 6:40. GG and PP arrived from their connecting flight, we got water and snacks at the sundries shop, potty break, gate-checked umbrella stroller.

7:30AM Boarded after group A with family boarding, but GG and PP were early in group A and had seats saved for us with them. We installed DD1’s car seat with great difficulty (yes we brought it for the airplane because we’re crazy). Comment: I really don’t like how Southwest does their boarding. We were assigned group B, which is crazy because I checked into our flight literally the second I was able to – I was on the website hitting refresh a few minutes before check-in opened up. I think the inlaws must have gotten group A because of their early connecting flight.


8:14AM Wheels up. Boys did really great on this flight, they mostly colored and put stickers on some Disney coloring books we got from the DVC marketing people. DD1 drank a bottle on the way up then napped for an hour and a half. I got a bottle of whiskey with my snack (figured I should start the vacation off the right way). We hit a little bit of turbulence, but not too bad. Nothing else remarkable on the flight.



(CST->EST)

11:32AM Wheels down. Shuttle to the main terminal; boys thought that was fun. Potty break, then walked across the airport to Disney’s Magical Express (DME), waited about 20 minutes to board. No issues whatsoever. Departed around 12:20.

12:49PM Entered “the Bubble” and arrived at Wilderness Lodge around 1:00. I talked with the front desk about getting a room early since our son needs a full, private bathroom for medical reasons. There was one room available, and we decided to take it even though it was furthest from the elevators (we wanted to be close). We got into the room around 1:15 and got settled. I picked up the double stroller we rented from Kingdom Strollers (we also brought a single umbrella stroller). Here is when I had my first mini-heart attack of the trip. Bell Services couldn’t find the stroller, and Kingdom Strollers assured me over the phone that it had been delivered at 8:18 the night before. After searching everywhere, we finally found it in an overflow storage area outside behind a locked gate. The bellman didn’t even know that area was used for strollers and had to go find the key.

2:00PM Lunch at Geyser Point. This place was fantastic. Only negative was that we had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated even though there were several tables ready. Not too big a deal though. Great atmosphere and great food/drinks. I had the bison burger and a beer. Highly recommended. Allergen menu: none, but talked with chef.

5:00PM Not sure of exact timing here, wish I had more photos (and their timestamps) so this would be more useful to people. Bus to Magic Kingdom (MK), through security pretty quickly, maybe 2 or 3 minutes which turned out to be the norm for our trip. I went to activate my Annual Pass (AP) and get Tables in Wonderland (TiW) at the guest relations window outside the tapstiles while everyone else went inside. They watched Flag Retreat and got cotton candy at the Main Street Confectionery. After I met up with them inside (probably 20-30 minutes later, there was quite a line at guest relations), we went to the City Hall guest relations to set up the DAS. We also got our 1st visit buttons. Finally, we went over to Town Square Theater and used a FP+ to meet Mickey at 5:55 – only 7 minutes late on my touring plan (TP), not bad! Meeting Mickey was pretty awesome. The boys hugged him and gave him high fives. We got a family picture. I was happy that there was an actual photographer there, instead of just the camera hidden in the bookcase like I had feared.





6:00PM Walked down Main Street, slow, soaking in the sight of Cinderella Castle ahead, and savoring the feeling of being here after fantasizing about it for so long.


By the time we made it through Cinderella Castle into Fantasyland, the boys were hungry. We found a spot to sit outside at Pinocchio Village Haus. I had planned on eating at Casey’s Corner ( TP adjustment #1 ), but no one was hungry 5 minutes ago when we were there… I also forgot to get a popcorn bucket on our way down Main Street ( TP adjustment #2 – got it the next day). Fail! Anyways, we mobile ordered drinks for everyone and a pepperoni flatbread for the boys to share. Mobile order is awesome, it’s amazing that everyone isn’t using it. Even if the lines were short (which they sometimes were), why not sit down and use your phone to order? Surprise: DS4 said it was the best pizza ever, LOL! The adults didn’t eat since we had a late lunch and we were planning to go to the Fireworks Dessert Party. Allergen menu: available in the mobile order app.

7:00PM Used FP+ for “it’s a small world” (IASW). I planned this as our first ride because it seems quintessentially Disney to me. I’m sure that could be debated to the ends of time, but it just seemed right to be our first ride. After a potty break we started getting behind in the plan. Had to drop the Carousel and Mad Tea Party ( TP adjustments #3&4 – rode them the next day), but decided to still squeeze in Mickey’s PhilharMagic at 7:45. This was amazing to me. I’ve seen quite a few 3D films, but this was somehow better. Different technology? Maybe just the Disney kool-aid. At one point, DS3 actually reached out and tried to touch Tinkerbell, saying “Why can’t I touch her?” Haha. Another one - when Donald gets sent to the first scene with (can’t remember who, Lumiere I think?), DS3 shouted out “Hey, he’s not supposed to be in this movie!” I thought it was hilarious.

8:18PM At this point we were about 20-30 minutes behind, so we rushed over to Tomorrowland Terrace to check in for the Fireworks Dessert Party and scarfed down some goodies. This is where the first “magical moment” happened on our trip. Our son has severe food allergies to eggs, bananas, and a few other minor things. When we got to our table, the chef brought out this amazing plate full of desserts just for him. Only a picture will do it justice:

8:36PM We were escorted over to the plaza garden, which to my horror was packed. Mini heart attack #2. The garden was much better than the public areas which were about “shoulder-to-shoulder” packed, but I remember reading reports of kids running around and playing in the garden before the fireworks. This was certainly not the case. There was barely room for us to get the stroller in (which we had to justify to them because DD1 was sleeping in it). Perhaps it was because we got there so late. BUT, to my amazement, another “magical moment” occurred: there was a spot just big enough for us along the back railing. Exactly where I wanted to be. When we got there, this very sweet woman said she was saving it just for us.

9:00PM Happily Ever After. No description necessary. Everyone knows how amazing this show is. The climax for us was when they were playing “I Can Go the Distance” from Hercules. This song has become sort of a rally cry for our family, with lines like “And I won’t look back, I can go the distance” and “But I won’t lose hope, 'till I go the distance, And my journey is complete”. I looked over at DW and we both had rivers flowing down our cheeks. Thank you God for giving us people like Alan Menken whose art moves us so profoundly.

10:00 Boarded bus to WL, then prepped for tomorrow (cleaned bottles, restocked diaper and medical bags for DD1 and DS3, tidied up the room, etc.), crashed!

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Do you plan to make me cry with every update, or just this one? :wink: I have two boys about the same ages as your two older ones, and I can’t imagine what your family has been through - I’m so so delighted that you all get to have this experience together, I hope it was everything you dreamed it would be.

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