Most people know that I have an extremely close family. Since it's so large, we're often gathered for birthday parties and celebrating each other's accomplishments.  If one of our children is involved in something at school, most of us will be in attendance.

When I say most of us, I mean parents, grandparents, aunts, and even a great-grandmother! And when we decide to go on trips, it's usually all of us.  Such is the case for our family vacation.  We'd begun taking trips to the beach about 6 years ago. Then, my grandfather got ill, and we took smaller vacations with our immediate families. My grandfather passed in late 2016. So, my grandmother wasn't up to taking a trip in 2017, which was understandable.

But this year, Jireh asked if the family could go to Memphis for her birthday. She absolutely loves Incredible Pizza.  So, I planned her birthday party and asked the family to join us.  Once again, we were on the road.  Our dad and his sister even drove from Chicago to join us.  We had such a great time that my niece and a cousin celebrated their birthdays a month later and wanted to go back to Incredible Pizza.  Again, everybody packed up and took the drive. (Side note: It sure would be nice to see one in Tuscaloosa.  Maybe the old Kmart on Skyland would be a good location.  Just a suggestion.)

These were weekend trips, but on the way back from the second trip, I thought it might be time for us to take another family vacation.  So, I put the feeler out with the family and started looking for a house(s).  When we were going to Destin, it would take two houses to accommodate a group our size at an affordable rate.  But for a few years, I'd been trying to convince everyone to travel a bit farther to the Orlando/Kissimmee area, where large homes are much more affordable.  This was the year!

I found us a 13-bedroom home. Each bedroom had its own bath, except for two rooms which were joined by a Jack and Jill bath.  The house included a pool and hot tub, a theater, and access to a water park at the property in addition to clubhouse amenities.

To be completely honest, we didn't have to leave the house once we'd gotten groceries.  It was so comfortable, and the children were having the time of their lives. We played games, watched movies, sat in the hot tub, and swam most of the time we were there.  But being that the house was only 5-10 minutes from Disney, we'd be cheating ourselves if we didn't go at least one day.  So, on Friday, we took to Magic Kingdom.

During our trip, I went Live on Facebook to show the house for the most part.

For more information on how to book one of Encore Reunion's homes (which are 4- to 13-bedrooms), click here. We've decided we'll be doing this trip again, and we're planning to stay at the same resort.

One of our outings was for dinner, and we found Giordano's, one of our Chicago-original favorites.

Oh!  One more thing, the Walmart in the area also sells tickets to Disney at a slightly lower rate than purchasing them at the gate.  When you purchase your tickets, go online to set up a Fast Pass.  It's completely free but gives you a chance to avoid standing in lines.  For instance, we signed up for one ride where the wait was 45 minutes.  When we got to the feature, there was no wait in the Fast Pass line. So, we got on immediately.  Fast Pass is DEFINITELY the way to go!

P.P.S. (<----- I just lost the young readers right there. LOL)  There are a number of vacation planners in our area who are more than willing to help you plan a trip to Disney if that's your primary focus.  They can also help you plan other trips.  I'm not one of those. If you want help in planning a trip, I can help you; but you have to do the work yourself.


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