Let me start by saying that I have never created a trip report before and although I've been a liner for sometime I've only commented in TP forums and this is my first post to create. I may make a few mistakes trying to share all of our experiences so please excuse any mistakes on my part.
About a year ago I started planning for my DS17's senior year. Having taken our DD and friends on a trip to Disney for their senior year I felt that I could plan something for him and his friends as well. This time however we wanted to try something we had not done before so I started planning for NOJ. I am aware that this concert has had some bad reviews and that some went so far as to say that it was nothing but a night of teens running crazy and bad behavior, however we decided to go anyway and I am so glad we did.
We invited 5 friends for a total of 6 teens to go on our trip. This worked out really great for a lot of reasons but mostly because we had a good number for riding rides. Because 2 boys play football and 2 girls cheer, we had to miss the Friday night concert. We left our homes at 3am Saturday morning and arrived in Orlando by 4pm Saturday afternoon. We were staying off property at the Marriott Imperial Villas so we checked in, changed clothes and drove to Mk. We had FPP booked for 3:30/4:30/5:30. We didn't make it to our first FPP but managed to arrive in time for Space Mt. 2 kids in our group had never been to Disney so DH and I were so excited to be a part of their first Disney experience. After Space we decided to eat and they choose the first thing they saw, Cosmic Rays! I am not a fan!! I had only been once before I now I remember why. Very long lines and if each person wants something different then you have to order at a different window. And forget finding a seat. It was a madhouse made worse by the fact that a lightening storm had started. At first I thought the storm would miss us but, I was wrong. It was like a monsoon. I'm a firm believer in poncho on but, this was a bit more than a pop up so we waited out the rain as best we could. Thankfully I was prepared and had purchased a case of ponchos on amazon for about 80 cents each so I had plenty. We did our final FPP at Buzz then went to see about the concert. It was delayed which was understandable so we decided to split up. Girls wanted to do Ariel M&G and ride JoLM. Can't recall how late the first group got started but guys wanted to see "For King & Country" so we waited. It really was good but I think the sound wasn't working correctly after the weather. I have heard them before and they are awesome so I'm not sure what was different. Unfortunately they were cut short for time. We went to HM during the break and returned to watch LeCrae. So I must say that this was a really good show. I was impressed with how much they had put into these groups. Large screen was setup so even from as far back as we were we could enjoy the concert. At this point I decided to get a coffee and do a little walking on my own. I spent a good 30-45 minutes people watching and enjoying a Starbucks. I never saw anything that was like what others had reported. I was actually surprised at how many families I saw and not as many large youth groups as I had expected. I travel with kids often on youth trips and I know that some kids can be pretty bad when mom and dad aren't around but, this was not what I saw. Anyone considering NOJ I would say it was a great experience. After LaCrae we met up with the rest of our group at 7DMT. Wait was posted at 30+ minutes but wasn't bad until we got in the area where you are about to separate into corrals. This is when the ride broke down. We waited about 15 minutes but I was worried we would continue to lose valuable park time so we left and went to Frontierland. Turned out to be the best idea of the night. The area was practically empty. They rode Splash and ran back through line to ride several more times and then repeated the process at BTMRR. We closed the park down and made it back to our room by 2am. We had a full day planned for Sunday so we got a little sleep before it was time to get up.
Prior to our trip we had heard about a place called Give Kids the World. I had everyone apply online and sent in all documentation prior to arrival. We arrived at GKTW at 7am for assignments. When we first arrived I was amazed by this place. The website does try to help you understand how great this place is but it really is something when you see it for yourself. It is so perfectly designed for children and their families. I thought I was prepared but I must tell you nothing can prepare you for this experience. It is as difficult as it is amazing and I know I will never be the same. My kids did so awesome!! In a world of "meism" these seniors gave of their time and did something awesome! Please look at this link and perhaps you will feel lead to look at giving or volunteering. http://www.gktw.org/about/ We all met some amazing people and kids! I spent some of my time meeting a family from the UK. They were amazing. We were asked to respect the families and not discuss anything about what brought them to GKTW but this family decided to share their amazing story with me. Needless to say they have been through so much and their child was so inspiring. The boys in my group spent the morning playing with him and his little brother. It truly was an experience that put things in prospective. We stayed till noon and then went to HS.
At HS we had FPP for TSMM,ST, and ToT. We had lunch first and then went to TSMM and on to ST. At ToT lines were reasonable so they rode twice and then went to RC. We took a few pictures with a great CM, got starbucks and then went to Epcot by boat. The ride was nice and quite. We all enjoyed the rest because the lack of sleep was starting to hit us all. I'm not as young as I think I am. At this point we have only had 5hrs of sleep since we left Mississippi at 3am on Saturday morning and it is now Sunday around 6pm. Once at Epcot we decided another round of Starbucks was in order! I have my addiction and coffee is it. We went to wait at Soarin but CM would not let us in with our coffees so we stood outside the cue trying to finish. Finally we got in line with about a 20 minute wait. Kids loved it, and I'm so glad they got top row because I completely forgot to ask. Some wanted to do TT and others did Soarin again. Now we knew park was closing early at 9pm and the last ferry to HS (which closed at 7:30) was at 9:15. Both groups were walking with extreme purpose to make the ride back. To make it worse we were going against the normal flow but we all made it! I'd say we were back to our hotel by 10 and had ordered Pizza on the way back so kids decided to all stay up and watch a movie. At this point I was exhausted so I went on to bed.
Unfortunately the next morning 4 kids had to return to school. So I got up and helped get breakfast ready for them. When I asked how late they stayed up and what movie they watched I was so touched. DS had brought Disney movies for the car ride so they went through them and choose Toy Story 3. It is probably a good thing I went on to bed that night because I would have cried if I had watched that with those kids. I should clarify that DH and I had also invited 2 moms to join us on this trip. One of the moms was driving back with the kids going back to school. The other had her family and her DD was one of the seniors and they were staying 2 extra days with us. After the group driving home had left we got dressed and went to the Poly for a late breakfast at Kona. Our friends had never been in the Poly so they enjoyed walking around and looking. Breakfast was awesome! I had been before and it has now become one of my favorites. We returned to our hotel for a few hours and went back to Epcot to enjoy it at a slower pace. Finished the night with ADR at Via Napoli. Warning: That xl pizza is really big but we ate every bite.
The next morning the plan was to RD at AK however we were a little late. Line was very long at the gate but the line thru Rainforest store was empty. 10 minute wait at EE so the group got to ride several times. Had one of my best mornings on KS that we've ever had. Lots of animals out and weather was very nice. We decided to hang out at the new Hambre Market and wait till it opened at 11. This was a great QS lunch! I had the chicken and DH had the gyro. Everyone enjoyed the slower pace. My only regret was we didn't walk by the construction walls to see what the area is like for Pandora world of Avatar. Went to watch Bugs life and then I went to my locker to get my laptop. I was so worried about early AP registration for the Dark Side 10k. I sat in GS with some sweet CMs but had all sorts of issues trying to login. When we returned to our room about an hour later DH was able to use his computer and sign our group of 3.
Now the plan was to rest and get ready for MNSSHP! DS17 was still working on his costume. The original plan was I would be Ursula, DH would be King Triton and DS would be flotsom/jetsom. While researching for DS costume we were considering using green light to run through his costume and that was when he saw IT! Electroluminescent tape... Now he was wanting to be Tron. Of course I was just happy that he wanted to do a costume but wasn't sure about this. We ordered everything separately and of course when the parts for the legs arrived they were the wrong color. We went back and reordered and had them shipped to our hotel. DH and DS worked any chance they got. Final hours were spent making sure everything was going to pull together and the final result was awesome! Of course it decided to start raining before we left so we waited till closer to 5 to leave. This was the first mistake of the evening. It was crazy at MK but we got in and decided to go straight to JC since we hadn't been this trip. Line was a little long but with the mix of park people and party people it didn't seem terrible. While walking the line DS disc suddenly decides it doesn't like the humidity and begins to fall off his back. This was were the battery pack was so we had to rethink the costume while standing in line. We decided to reroute the wire down his arm and he would have to carry the disk/battery pack. It turned out to be great because later that night we realized he really GLOWED so he needed to turn it off during dark rides. We took in a few sights and made our way to BTMRR. This was the only time we saw a CM turn a guest away for not having an armband. The guest was not asked to leave which surprised me but we went on to enjoy the ride. We noticed later that there were large numbers of families that didn't have an armband but I assumed they would be turned away at rides and eventually leave. After reading reports including KTP this may explain why even the 2nd parade was soooo crowded. However I must say I stopped noticing and was wrapped up in the moment of enjoying the party. The only character photo we did was Goofy at Barnstormer. We did get several other photos. We watched hallowishes at 10 and it was a great show!! Love love love special fireworks and these did not disappoint. We tried to stay and watch Hocus Pocus but it was so crowded that it was difficult to see. Also I must say while I do love the new hub area something about the lights bothers me and I felt like it made it harder to see the stage but, it may have been where we were standing. We went back to frontier to find a spot for the parade and again I did wonder about the crowd. We could barely walk. We did find a spot along the wall and watched the parade. It was great!! Wish I could have seen a little better but it was still a great time. Loved seeing a few villains I had never seen before. Bowler hat guy & oogie boogie to name a few. We went back to HM (had ridden earlier) and got in the much shorter line for special HM photo. Wish I had known about others. We had tried to ride 7d earlier but it was stuck. DH took a picture and we spoke to a few of the people sitting on the track. When we went back they had already shut the line down. We also rode several other rides that I can't remember the order of but it was a great night. We wrapped up the evening by sitting in Tomorrowland terrace and watching the final Hocus Pocus show. It was fun to have chairs and feel like we were at our own personal show. We chose to shop on the way out to help with the crowd issues that always happen at the monorail. If I'm going to wait I might as well be able to enjoy it. I have since decided that I will not do a first party night again. I think CMs and CPs are awesome but I think they still had a few things to work out so maybe a later party is better. We have done MNSSHP before and this party was different. Felt a little hectic but I'm glad to hear others are having a great party.
So that was our final night. Sadly it will be 204 days till we return.