~~ July 2001 ~~

This was our first BIG family vacation since Jeff and I got married 2 years before.
We had gone to Vegas and also to see the Redwoods but this was the first time we all went someplace on a plane together.
This was also the first time any of us had been to Disneyworld and we had no idea it wasn't simply a big Disneyland.
We went for 4 1/2 days plus one travel day and barely scratched the surface.
And I also found out that WDW in July was NOT ideal, crowds OR weather wise.
I learned my lesson for future trips.
I also did not take many pictures.
I had not yet become the "over the top, document every little detail" person that happened the more trips we took.

I started out OK though with pictures at the airport.
This is Alex (5) & Jeffrey (6 mos).
This was the first plane flight for both of them. 

Sarah (13) & Emily (11) all bundled  up because who knew it would be 500 degrees in Florida. In Summer.

Jeffrey got to sit on our laps and we passed him around a lot because of course he did not sleep much on the 51/2 hour flight between LA and Orlando.

Our first park was the Animal Kingdom.
The first time seeing the Tree of Life:

Our first ride was the safari.
My picture taking got so much better in later trips.

Em watches some antelope:

Wildebeasts with a decidedly purple glow.
Not sure if was the developing or my camera that added this little feature to all these pictures.

 OK, confession: I thought these were real termite mounds when the tour guide told us about them.
 I also did not know at that time that those big "upside down" trees were not real either.
The innocence of a first-timer.

Our first park meal was The Flame Tree BBQ.
It was also our first experience with the birds who wanted us to share with them.
That's Chris (14) in front. 
He spent most of the trip trying to look cool and like he wasn't enjoying himself TOO much.
(Even though I knew he was).

Since we were completely unprepared for the heat and humidity, anyplace the kids could get wet was a good place.

Look, 4 of my kids in a cage.. quick shut the door!

We stayed at the now closed "Disney Institute".
At the time it was the best choice for a family our size.
We had 2 bedrooms upstairs and a pull out couch downstairs.
It also had a nice size kitchen. Though we almost never used it.
It was very roomy. And I did not think to take even a single picture inside.
I did take a few outside showing how we were right across the water from Downtown Disney.
We got lots of birds visiting us every morning asking for bagel bits.

Day #2 we went to EPCOT.
There's Chris trying to look cool again.

We sent the older kids off by themselves because they had no interest in strolling around 
and exploring with the parents and youngsters. 
We headed off  to the World Showcase.
We were thrilled to find Japan. One of our favorites to this day!

Jeffrey wasn't as impressed as the rest of us.

We were even more excited when we found a Shaved Ice Cart.
Alex's first Kakigori.
This would become our favorite snack.

We took time to meet some characters.
Alex was really happy to meet Timon:

Day 3 we headed to MGM and Alex got his first ride on a landspeeder:

Again, the younger boys came with Jeff and I and the older 3 took off to enjoy bigger rides.
Goofy, grinning brothers:

This was our first trip to the Sci-fi Dine-in.
I had no idea I was going to love it so much!
The older kids didn't know what they were missing!

Alex was too short to ride Rock 'n Roller Coaster but he loved the giant guitar.

The heat was really getting us, so we headed back to the room for a swim in the pool which happened to be right next to the laundry. We were running out of clean clothes since everyone was going through 2 outfits a day due to all the sweating.
Instead of swimming, Jeffrey sat on a towel and talked to anyone who noticed him.

Alex made good use of the giant cat towel we purchased just for this trip.

Once the laundry was done and we were all showered and in clean clothes, we headed back to MGM to catch the stuff we didn't do earlier.
We once again have a picture of Mr Too Cool To Smile (complete with his goofy ears hat souvenir which proves he really is a just big kid at heart).

Apparantly I was having a hard time getting anyone to smile.
This is what happens in the days before digital cameras were common when you can't check what the picture looks like before you send them out to be developed.
I probably would have retaken quite a few of these!

Jeff took the older three on the Tower of Terror while I smartly and safely waited outside with the younger two. 
I have no desire to fall on purpose THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

That night we explored Downtown Disney and discovered the Rainforest Cafe.
GEEZ why didn't I take more pictures?

On the 4th and final full day we finally made it to the Magic Kingdom.
Just a few people on Main Street.
No idea was I was expecting in the middle of summer.
This was my first view of the castle and I couldn't get over how HUGE it was. 
(Once I got used to this castle, the next time I went to Disneyland, I couldn't get over how SMALL that castle was.).

We stopped and watched a show up on the train platform:

And I only managed to take pictures on the jungle cruise.
You know, of stuff I've seen a dozen times at Disneyland.

On our last day we only had a few hours before we had to head to the airport.
The older kids voted to go back to MGM so they could eat at the Sci-fi Dine-in too. 
This is only picture of all us (minus Jeffrey) together. The very nice waitress took it for us.

On our way out of the park,  Em stopped to get her picture taken with Gideon.
(OK I admit I had to look up who he was because even though I knew he was from Pinocchio, I had no clue as to what his name was.)

And that was that.
The beginning of our family's love of WDW.
We would return many many times and make lots and lots of wonderful memories.
I would also take a lot more (and better) pictures!