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Old 08-13-2015, 09:55 PM   #1
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PTR: The Dunning Family's Triumphant Return to the World

I am having trouble figuring out exactly how to start this PTR, not because I don’t have a lot to say, but just because I’m having difficulty coming up with the words to express how insanely excited I am to be returning to Walt Disney World after an agonizing three year hiatus! So, for now, I’m just going to jump right into the basics and introduce the cast of characters, and I’m sure you’ll pick up on my mind-numbing excitement as time goes on.

WHEN: September 10th-18th 2016 (I know I’m starting this early, but oh my GOODNESS I could not contain my excitement anymore and simply had to start writing my PTR!)

WHERE: Art of Animation Resort, Finding Nemo Family Suite

WHY: Why not? (I’ll get into our official reasons as the PTR progresses, as there are a lot of them!)


First, there is me. I’m 27 years old (28 at the time of the trip), and I was bitten by the Disney Bug when my Aunt and Uncle got married in the Great Movie Ride (Wizard of Oz section) when I was 9 years old. One ride on Splash Mountain and I was hooked. My first trip as an adult was March of 2009, when we went for our (6 month delayed) honeymoon, and then David and I returned every September from 2010 to 2013. I’m an obsessive planner, but have relaxed just a tiny bit since having my kiddos...funny how becoming a parent changes things. My favorite Disney Princess is Belle, because she’s just like me - a little different (I’ve never felt like I really fit in, no matter the crowd), avid reader, and she has a big heart. I also adore Tinkerbell, because she’s a sassy little thing, which I like to pretend I am, on occasion. I’ve got many other favorite characters, but those hold my two top spots!

My DH! He is also 27 (28 at the time of the trip), and he will tell you, 9 days older than me. (He used to tease me about that, but since we are nearing our big 3-0 the teasing has slowed down quite abruptly.) We met when we were 13, starting “going out” when we were 14, and married when we were 20, on the 6 year anniversary of the day we started dating. His first trip to the World was our honeymoon in March of 2009, followed by our yearly September trips from 2010 to 2013. We will be celebrating our 8 year wedding anniversary while on this trip! David mostly likes to follow along with my plans, but he has firm ideas about restaurants we cannot skip, and occasionally puts his foot down when I get a little bit too crazy with my planning. He’s a great daddy to our two little girls. His favorite Disney Character is Goofy.

My darling oldest daughter is 2, but will be 3 at the time of the trip. (She will actually be nearly 4 by the time we go...yikes!)She came into our lives in November of 2012 and has been making our world go ‘round ever since. She’s highly intelligent, incredibly sassy, and melt-your-heart sweet, all rolled up into one wonderful package that makes everyone she meets fall in love with her almost instantly...And I’m not biased at all...oh, no! She has been to Disney World once before, when she was just 10 months old, back in September of 2013. She is currently a big fan of the movies The Princess and the Frog, Frozen, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, and Up. She also loves Sofia the First. If I had to pick her favorite character...I honestly don’t know. She’s been more into Tiana than Elsa lately, and she also really loves Sofia and Tinkerbell. So how about we just go with she likes Princesses and fairies, but also lions and beasts and “fishies,” because you know...she’s two.

The newest addition to our family was just born June 5th, 2015! She will 15 months old when we go on her very first trip to Disney! She is currently only two months old and therefore has no preference for Disney characters.

Anthony, more commonly known as AJ
I am SO excited that AJ is coming on this trip with us. We have known AJ since we were sophomores in high school and he started as a freshman. He and David played in band together, and as time went on he became both of our (David’s and mine)best friend. I truly and honestly consider AJ to be my brother, if not by blood then by choice. In some ways he has been more of a brother to me than my biological brothers ever have. He is also our daughter's godfather, and Briana refers to him as Uncle AJ. He is 26, and will be 27 at the time of the trip. He says his favorite Disney character is Gaston, “Because he’s so ridiculous, but still like...I KNOW guys like him!” AJ is weird. It makes him loveable.

We have been trying to get him to come on a trip with us for about five years now, but his finances have never allowed it. This time, way back in March, I told him, only half-kidding “Start saving now, dude, because if you don’t come with us in September of 2016, I’m never making you cookies again.” I figured with more than a year to plan and save, he would make it happen, especially if he knew how important it was to me. He asked about budgeting and what expenses to expect, we sat down and did some math, and he shrugged and said “I can totally do that. Let’s go to Disney World...You’ll make me cookies now, right?”

At which point I started practically jumping up and down in my seat and gave him a huge hug and yelled at David (who was in the kitchen) “AJ’s coming to Disney with us! AJ’s coming with us! WOOOHOOOOOO!” And David and AJ both shook their heads at my childish reaction and laughed at me, and Briana looked at me like I had lost my mind. (To be fair, I did look absolutely ridiculous, as I was 7 months pregnant with Chelsea at the time…) Ah, well. They can laugh all they want, AJ’s coming to Disney with us!

Two first time visitors! SO exciting!

A Little Bit of Background
We haven’t been to Disney World since 2013 because life just kept throwing hard punches and curveballs every time we turned around. It really felt like every time I would scrabble and scratch my way out of one disaster, another would be waiting at the top of the hill to throw me back to the bottom. There was David’s breakdown, which I’ve talked about here before, and then a miscarriage right as we were losing our apartment and moving in with my in-laws, and then David was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II...Getting him the proper doctors and care and figuring out our new normal took a while.

We got our own apartment again and things seemed to be getting better - I found out I was pregnant again back in September, and David was going to work every day and doing SO well...and then, BAM, he got laid off in December, along with 30 or 40 other people in his department. After everything else that we had been through in the past couple of years, it was the straw that kind of broke MY back. I didn’t let David see it, but I was seriously depressed and felt like the Universe needed to find someone else to pick on. I definitely let myself feel a little bit “woe is me, whine whine whine.”

But David didn’t. He buckled down and started looking for work right away. I know he had bad days, but he never let it stop him from turning in applications and hunting down every possible opportunity he heard about. And then, in March, he finally got a new job. It was a good job. And then in April, he got another interview, with an even better company. Which turned into five more interviews with the same company, and a job offer. THIS was our turning point.

I told him that we needed to celebrate. He said “How should we celebrate?” And I said “We need to go back to our Happy Place.” He kind of hesitated, and I said “Not this year, but definitely next year. We’ll give ourselves that long to make sure we are financially stable. But I’m betting that by September of 2015 we will be able to book it.” And I was right…

So here we are. Heading to Disney World again after a really crummy couple of years, and we are SO SO ready, so INCREDIBLY ready, to walk down Main Street and smell those lovely Main Street smells, see that Castle at the end of the road, ride our favorite rides...We’re ready to go home.
My three little princesses...

Check out my mommy blog!
My Countdown Counting down to: Our Triumphant and Long Awaited Return to Disney World!
Enjoying the magic!
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My Previous TripsWDW Pop Century 8Yr Wedding Anniversary/Daughter's Early BDay Celebration 2016, WDW Pop Century 5 Yr Wedding Anniversary/Daughter's Early BDay Celebration September 2013, WDW Pop Century 4 Yr Wedding Anniversary September 2012, WDW Pop Century 3 Yr Wedding Anniversary September 2011, WDW Pop Century 2 Yr Wedding Anniversary September 2010, WDW All Star Music Honeymoon March 2009, WDW The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort Feb. 1997
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:24 PM   #2
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Great start, Jessica! I am so excited for your little family plus AM to have a magical, happy vacation, even if it is a year away. Can't wait to hear all you planning and kiddo stories between now and then.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:47 PM   #3
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Great start! So glad things are finally looking up for you guys!

My 2017 trip - Home is Where the Mouse Is COMPLETE
My Countdown Counting down to: Sailing through the Caribbean on the Freedom
Relaxing on my cruise
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:17 AM   #4
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Great start! You guys need this!
Tracy (aka Coop)

My Countdown Counting down to: Sept 24, 2016- 20th Anniversary at Disney AND June 2, 2017 - B2B Double Dips on the Dream!
Happy Anniversary!
My Previous TripsWDW April 2010 CSR (1st trip ever) - WDW Nov 2010 AKL (honeymoon after 14 years of marriage) - WDW Nov 2011 (1st DVC trip) BLT - WDW Sept 2012 OKW - WDW Dec 2013 Christmas time split stay SS/OKW - WDW Oct/Nov 2014 Land and Sea -Halloween/ Kidani/4 nights on the Dream - Nov 2015 OKW/7 nights on the Fantasy. WDW Sept 2016 OKW.
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Old 08-14-2015, 05:44 AM   #5
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Wow, what a great start! I can't wait to read more.
me, dh, dd (18), ds2(13), and forever missing ds1
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:11 AM   #6
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Great start Jessica! Planning and looking forward to a Disney trip is the next best thing to actually being there! Can't wait to hear about all your plans!
My Previous Trips1976 - off site, 1991 - PO, 1994 - off site, 2004 - POR, 2008 - ASM, 2009 - POFQ, 2010 - POFQ, 2011 - POR, 2012 - BLT, 2013 - BCV, 2015 - BWV, 2016 - BWV, 2017-BLT, 2018-OKW
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:17 AM   #7
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Great start. I'm glad you're getting to go to Disney after all the hurdles your family has been through!

My Countdown Counting down to: Our Anniversary at Disney
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:52 AM   #8
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Great start Jess!
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Old 08-14-2015, 07:43 AM   #9
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Your excitement is already bubbling off the screen! Both you and David have done an awesome job of rolling and kicking back at life's punches and I can't wait to follow along this happy path with you.
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:54 PM   #10
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Great start!
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:49 PM   #11
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Great Start Jess, Welcome back. I'm not on Face book or anything so I have been wondering how you have been doing. My son went through a hard spell too and was finally diagnosed with ADHD and now that he is on medicine it is like a little miracle. I'm sure you felt the same. So happy life is turning around for all of you and that you are finally able to head back to your happy place.
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Old 08-14-2015, 03:01 PM   #12
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Wow!! What a story!! You guys really need this trip!!. Glad your life is back on track and your little girls are gorgeous!!

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Old 08-14-2015, 02:24 PM   #13
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I'm so glad to hear life is treating you all better! We have been through 2 layoffs in a year as well so I know how you feel. I'm ready for my turning point as we speak!
Those little girls make everything bearable don't they though?!
And so exciting that AJ is coming with this time!
Disney Magic - Oct 2015
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My Countdown Counting down to: Spring Break @ the Poly!
no parks, but still Disney!!
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Old 08-14-2015, 04:02 PM   #14
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Such a great start!! Can't wait to hear all about it!!

Magic Kingdom, March 2015
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Old 08-14-2015, 04:17 PM   #15
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Great start!! Glad after a few years, you're finally going to be able to get back to your happy place!
PassPorter Co-Guide for: Making More Magic
My Countdown Counting down to: Christmas
Merry Christmas
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