First I would like to thank you for all of the extremely kind and encouraging comments from last week’s feature at Rhoda’s Southern Hospitality. They are extremely appreciated.

It seems like there are a bunch of new friends here now too - welcome!

In preparation for the feature, I updated my “Our Home” page if you would like to go visit it. There are a few rooms that I have not shown before and I will be sharing all the details over the next few weeks.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that we had a surprise in the works for our kids. Last Friday, we picked them up from school and informed them that instead of going to their Grandparent’s for the weekend, they were going to Disney World for a week. I have always wanted to give them that total shock and surprise feeling. And it worked. They had no idea! It was so fun to do.

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It. Was. Fantastic.

Yes, Disney World is amazing, everyone knows that. No one does it better than Disney.

But, for me, it was about 7 whole days with my family.

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And to share these moments at these ages – 9 and 11 with my girls is so precious and unforgettable.

One of the greatest pleasures for me of the week is how much they truly enjoyed meeting the characters. I honestly thought my older daughter would not be willing to have her picture taken, get autographs, all of that. Instead, she was giddy and had a blast with it. My younger one just melted with each one. It was priceless and so unexpected.

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So, I am not going to bore you with a million pictures of how fabulous our vacation was, but I will, if you will allow me to, share my Disney observations and thoughts.

- The Lion King show at Animal Kingdom, to me, was amazing. Not because it rivals the Broadway show (which if have not seen), but to me, it is fantastic to see people doing what they really love. I am sure they were all told, you will never have a career as a gymnast, a fire eater, a singer or a dancer. But everyone of those people stuck to their dreams and they are doing what they love. I love to see that.

- I am amazed at some of the jobs at Disney. What do you do for a living? “I hand out stickers to children as they enter Epcot.” or “I pull a string on the arm of the Duffy Disney bear in a stroller to wave goodbye to everyone as they leave Epcot.” Seriously, what could be better than that?

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- If you happen to get stuck on the Toy Story ride for about 25 minutes, please note that your score tops out at 999,999 until they reset the system.

-If you are in the world section of Epcot on a Saturday night, you are likely to see a lot of large bridal and groomsmen parties drinking their way around the world. There is A LOT of alcohol served in this part of the park.

-When a child sees Pooh Bear or Mickey Mouse for the first time, it is universal. It doesn’t matter what language they speak – the joy on their faces is the same.

-The same goes for a parent’s love for a child – it is the same in every language. Watching families together was just another part of the experience.

-Disney World is such a global place - we watched the Super Bowl with a couple from Boston and a large group from Panama. It made for a fun experience, although it would have been more fun if our team had won!

- The Chefs de France restaurant in Epcot is incredibly realistic and a great buy for the meal plan (there is more included for adult and kids meals). However it is not a great deal when you add wine to the bill!

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- The drawing class at Hollywood studios was so worth the time. We all enjoyed it so much

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My Pooh Bear!

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- If you go during the off season, as we did, know that more things will be closed down for refurbishment. Also note, that the whole back right section of the Magic Kingdom is being completely redone and expected to reopen sometime later this year.

-The Boardwalk Inn was a fabulous place to stay. We found it very convenient, nice and very appropriate for our kids’ ages.

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-Learn about Fastpass before you go and use it well!

- When they are offering aggressive discounts at the resorts and promote them heavily – it works and affects the level of traffic.

-They do have a ton of photographers taking pictures and then scanning your photopass card so you can retrieve them online. Be warned – they are very expensive to order but the shots are great.

- We pushed ourselves out of comfort zones and tried some fast and crazy rides. Some we did not like – Space Mountain and Expedition Everest. And some we loved – FastTrack – best ride ever! We went back several times!

-The Disney fireworks at Magic Kingdom are unbelievable. Sit on the ground up in the circle, it is a great spot to watch.

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And, finally, if you are like me and you know when they are over that is time to go and this “magical” time has come to an end, you will not just get teary eyed, but sob your eyes out. Then you will look around and feel better because there are several people doing the same thing.

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Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you.

February 13, 2012 — Laura Putnam