DCL Virgins No More - 3 Day Wonder 10/28/10
I have been reading trip reports for awhile now and I enjoy every single experience I have encountered. Now is my turn to return the favor. I am still reeling from our very first trip on the Disney Wonder and I am patiently counting the days until our next encounter. I have officially enrolled in the DCL anonymous 12 step program for withdrawal! :goodvibes
Well to begin the trip myself (31) DW (31) and DS Alex (5) and DD Lizzie (3) heading down to Orlando from Iowa....you heard that right, we actually have internet up here and we have heard of things outside of corn and tornadoes. BTW neither of us is from IA :thumbsup2 Well we were hoping to move for a job this fall but that fell through so we decided to finally go on our first ever REAL family vacation. Some of you may know what I am talking about, going home to visit mom and dad for the holidays doesn't really count! So the money for our move went into a quick trip vacation on the Wonder during our son's parent/teacher conferences in October. Alex started kindergarten and we wanted to limit the amount of time he was out of school, and this worked out to only 2 days gone.
So needless to say that was the longest 3 months of my life!!!! I can't believe I was more excited for the trip than for any Christmas I've ever had. I can tell you I spent more time reading Passporters guide and DISboards more than I was working :laughing: So anyway I decided to try to go on the cheap this time around and see how we, and the kids, took to the cruise. We flew down the day before and came back a day late to save on airfare, DW works at a hotel so we get to stay for next to nothing, and rent a cheap car back and forth to the port. I was very proud of my "thrifty" reservations that most would call penny pinching or cheap :rotfl:
OK first off this trip was a complete surprise to our kids. Anyone with little kids can know there is NO WAY we could tell them early and listen to "when are we going on the boat" "when do we get to see Mickey Mouse" for 3 months straight. besides we though it would be a great surprise to both of them for their first plane and boat rides. So we told them we were going on a trip...and the best thing is they really have no concept of distance or traveling yet...so it makes it much easier to keep it a secret. We traveled to the airport and they were excited to finally go on a plane ride, honestly I think we could've gone on a plane ride and that would've sufficed for their trip.
STRIKE 1 :sad1: - Our flight got delayed out of Moline because of thunderstorms and tornadoes in Atlanta. This caused problems because our connecting flight into Orlando was only 1 hr later, and we were already delayed 1.5 hours. So after talking with the gate agent, we came to the conclusion of rebooking for ATL-ORL Friday morning and trying to stay the night in ATL, once we get there. Turns out this was one of the best decisions we could've made. So.....we sat, and sat, and sat...slowly watching every other flight take off and ours get delayed further and further. Working for an airport I realize the closer we get to the magic 6 hour mark, the infinitely more possible it cancels...I was worried! We finally boarded the plane 4 hours after delay, only to sit out on the taxiway for 30 minutes and return to the ate for another delay...increase perspiration - 50%. 1 hour later we try again....after 6 hours of delays the plane finally errupts in applause and cheers :yay::dance3: once we finally lift off the ground. I felt bad the poor kids had such a crappy start to their vacation, 6 hours in an airport holding room. Next was our trip in ATL.
Strike 2 :sad1: - Moline flight baggage carousel #5, 0 bags. Awesome. Spent the next hour running around ATL baggage looking for someone to help. Best news so far...our bags finally showed up in the lost baggage room...so much for bag tags right? At least DW had finagled the GM of the Hampton Inn to help us stay there that night, the delays and cancellations had caused major issues there, we were lucky. Finally got to the room at 10 and ate dinner at 1045....flight in am leaves at 6...and you know you can't show up at ATL 30 minutes before your flight, time for bed.
Tired and drained we make the flight, albeit delayed and hour (wish we could've gotten that extra hour of sleep!). Glad we rebooked early yesterday...65 standby passengers trying to get to ORL from last night...ouch! Finally ORL and all bags accounted for. Get the rental car from Budget and the porter helps us to our car...spot U-19 an Impala right? not even close.
STRIKE 3 :sad1: - Spent another 45 minutes trying to talk to the guys at the counter that the car they told me is not the one in the spot. So tired...so drained...just want to get to the boat. Finally find a brand new Dodge Charger :thumbsup2 and we're on our way down the FL tollway. Amazingly enough after all the delays and crap, we were only 1 hour behind my original schedule lol. We turn the car in, take the shuttle to the port and the kids still have no idea we're going on the boat. You know....not until we actually walk into the terminal and they see Mickey and the model of the Magic do they realize we're going on the Wonder :lmao: They were so excited I couldn't believe it. Now you know why I couldn't tell them 3 months ago!
All signed in, kktw cards in hand, signed up for Oceaneer’s Club, Group 7 and waiting like kids on Christmas. The boarding process was absolutely amazing and we waited all of 15 minutes between group 1 – group 7!!!! One of the most amazing walks through that gangway!
Well at work tonight, probably should do some work. Tomorrow: This is what a vacation is supposed to be like!!! Hope to have some pictures of our journey as well.
Wow, after all of your trouble getting to the ship, sounds like it's smooth sailing from now on. Can't wait to hear more and see some pictures. My hubby and grandson are taking our first Disney Cruise on the Wonder in March.
Great start (well, to read - all that airport waiting for little kids had to be tough!) Looking forward to hearing more!
How um...exciting?! No, seriously what a start to your trip :lmao: Looking forward to reading more about your first family trip adventure. Thanks for sharing:thumbsup2
I am sure you all remember the first time you've walked onto a Disney ship, the sights, the sounds, the amazing people waiting for you. It was such a relief that we finally made it and we were going to enjoy 3 days of full on fun and relaxation! The kids were bouncing off the walls but we were ushered like everyone else to Parrot Cay for lunch, a nice buffet with plenty of options for picky little kids! I LOVE the separate buffet with just kids items like mac and cheese, corn dogs, and spaghetti and meatballs. One of the best lines of the whole cruise came while standing in line with Lizzie (DD-3), I asked if she can only get meatballs without the spaghetti, reply: You can get whatever you want, this is your vacation! :woohoo: I was in love instantly! We had followed the advice of so many and packed swimming suits and sunscreen in our carry-ons for the kids. We made it to the room at around 130 and changed. I LOVED the room...small but it didn't feel that small! And the amount of storage was amazing. We didn't spend much time in there before the kids were running around the mickey pool. While doing this DW went and booked spa time at Vista. I felt bad for her, we just found out baby #3 is coming next May, so this cruise was no hot tub and no drinking for her...so a massage is the least I could do :thumbsup2
After crying and pleading we finally tore the kids away from the pools for a quick meet and great with fellows DISers in the lounge, then off for the boat drill. The kids loved it, so did I as we were in Animator's Palette for our station...woohoo air conditioning! :worship: After that it was up on deck for the sail away party. The kids loved dancing and see all the characters. I have to admit hearing the horn in person as opposed to youtube was amazing and finally sunk in we were leaving!
Oh forgot to take pictures, but there was an airshow happening upon our return, and those of us on deck got treated to a practice airshow by the Thunderbirds! It was awesome hearing the F-16s fly overhead!
Our first night was in AP, and it was amazing. We met Vishal and Art our servers and they were wonderful. They could tell DW and I were drained and tried their best to entertain the kids and keep us happy. They learned real quick what the kids preferences were and kept the Sprite and chocolate milk flowing for them. It was almost comical as well....DW and I did not know you were supposed to order 1 of each meal course. Well I didn't feel like a salad and Heather didn't feel like an appetizer...we both got looks like what do you mean you don't want the food!!! HAHA next night we would remember! On a side note, this was our first experience with the rocking of a ship. It was interesting watching her and I try to sit still while the boat began swaying back and forth, the kids seemed oblivious. The show was great for dinner and thank goodness for mickey bars for the kids!
Heather's spa appointment was after dinner so she left for a massage and I talked the kids into seeing the Golden Mickeys. Poor little guys were glassed over and zombie looking by this point in the night. The theater was great and once the show started and goofy came out, they were awake and on the edge of their seats popcorn::. All I can say is that this was my most favorite show of the cruise. Kids stayed awake and were engaged, which shows the true power of this show. It was everything I had read about!
After that we met my freshly calm and serene DW in the room, with a look of enjoyment I had not seen in a long time. Apparently the massage was a hit :goodvibes Sat down and watched the best channel on the tv, the one showing old Disney cartoons back from the starting days of the Disney Channel, you old guys know what I am talking about, back when you actually had to pay for the Disney Channel...just like HBO! It was like I was a kid again :laughing: I hadn't seen those cartoons in forever...and now my kids were enjoying them right along with me. Didn't take long before we all passed out from exhaustion. All slept soundly, the kids never fell out of bed, or even moved for that matter.
Tomorrow: The number 2 industry in the Bahams is banking!!!
TIPS so far:
- Carry stuff in your carry-on like bathing suit and sunscreen for activity time until your bags arrive (Ours were waiting for us before dinner).
- Snacks for the theater are not included, if you don't want to pay grab some stuff before you go in.
- Take a nightlight with you for the bathroom or stateroom. The inside rooms get pitch black and we didn't like leaving the doors open.
- I really think on a longer cruise a shoe organizer would be nice, but I really didn't think it was necessary on a 3 day cruise.
- Practice walking around before you get on your cruise without your phone and wallet. I felt so out of place like I had forgotten something all day long...I never leave the house without them lol.
- On that note wear a watch!!! I didn't need a a bill the size of the national deficit so I didn't use my phone while at sea, other than as an alarm clock (another tip...use wakeup call, cell phone, or bring a travel clock as you may sleep in until noon in those rooms!) and there seem to be a lack of clocks around the ship.
I love your tips with wearing a watch and feeling empty without the wallet and cellphone, DH kept thinking he lost his wallet all trip until I kept reminding him it was in the safe.
Great report, can't wait to hear more
Thanks for taking the time to read it :) We really had a great time and want to share our experiences with others...if not to hold us until our next DCL adventure!
So glad once you got past the fiasco of flying out, the cruise was wonderful! Sounds like a heavenly evening for DW with the massage and all. And I agree...Golden Mickey's is incredible!
Banking is the Number 2 Industry in the Bahamas!
Alrighite...for some reason I couldn't get back to sleep at 4 in the morning. I am one of those people that loves to sleep in my own bed and really struggle sometimes with "strange" beds. So I decided to go for a little run. I had been slacking off lately in the morning and was kind of hoping I could do the Castaway Cay 5k maybe tomorrow. So found the whole entire ship sleeping, with the exception of a huge crew cleaning everything in sight. It's amazing what people don't see going on overnight, there was a huge crew of people all over the ship cleaning making everything perfect, I am very impressed. So I found deck 4 and the jogging track and threw the IPOD on and jogged/walked for an hour. It was SOOO peaceful and nice and cool at 4 in the morning. I highly recommend heading up fore to deck 10 after something like that, the breeze cools you down very quick. Plus at about that time through the twilight I could see 3 very tiny protrusions on the horizon...Atlantis!!! After a quick shower (at 5 in the dang morning on my vacation!!) I grabbed the camera and just walked around on deck for awhile.
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I had to get the family up early, because at 830 in the lobby was the princess meet and great, there was no way I was going to let Lizzie miss that opportunity. We had brought both their Halloween costumes on board for the October festivities, Lizzie was Cinderella! We made it in what I thought was going to be enough time, but the line already stretched from the lobby passed Tritons...might miss breakfast for this one. Moved pretty decently and we visited Snow White, Belle, Tiana, and Cinderalla. Lizzie was in heaven, or in hyperventilation, one of the two.
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Standing in line we got to see the boat dock in Nassau, which for some reason all the little mundane stuff like docking, and turning the ship around etc seem to fascinate me. We barely had time to rush to breakfast, get the kids to the Oceaneer's Club and get to the lounge to meet for our excursion. We were doing the Sea and See Sightseeing tour of Nassau at 1000. We have never been anywhere on vacation really, so I really wanted to sight see and gather as much local influence as I could. Would I recommend this tour for sightseeing, yes and no. We started off the boat, amazingly fast and organized BTW, and headed to a harbor sightseeing boat. It was nice, plenty of room, open warm air and great views of the harbor. The tour guide offered us picture taking opportunities of Atlantis, stars homes, and movie sets; dabbled with the occasional this house cost THIS much!?!? After 10-15 minute ride we disembark to a underwater boat, where we sit in a glass boat beneath the surface. Wasn't much to see until you get to the sanctuary and they start throwing food over to entice the fish, then a few nice shots of a small reef, even some barracuda were off in the distance. But honestly I have seen more diversity in my saltwater tank at home. The tour guide here was repetitive and seemed to tell us he liked Grouper with lemon and pepper and was going to eat that for lunch...a lot.
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After a short ride back to the pier, we boarded a couple buses (air conditioned!) and took a tour of downtown Nassau. Again this was nice because I knew next to nothing of the area, but it seemed a lot repetitive of the same stuff. We had some fun with the other guests to see how many times we could count the same sentences over and over again. By the time the tour was over, we all knew the #1 industry in the Bahamas was tourism, and #2 was banking....go on the tour and you'll understand what I mean! We made a short stop and Fort Fincastle, which in my mind is if you bypassed the vendors and straw market, this was how they'd get you on the backside. But needless to say we didn't want to come to the Bahamas and leave with nothing, so a few souvenir shirts for some kids and trinkets and we were heading back to the boat. All in all I give the tour an 8, if you've never done sightseeing in Nassau before I'd try it out, however it's something you only need to do once for sure!
Back on the boat, about 3-4 hours after we left, grabbed a small bite of fruit and picked up the kids from the Club...and they were green!!! I wish I had taken a picture; Colonel Green (one of the green army guys from Toy Story) had come to teach the kids to march and crawl and be a soldier, so they had green face paint and bandannas on. They had a blast and loved it. We just watched more of my favorite channel (The oldie Disney cartoons) until trick or treating time. All the kids on the boat got to dress up (adults as well) and go to several stations set up around the boat and trick or treat. It was a blast seeing all the costumes, plus I felt bad we would be away from home on Halloween night so this was their only opportunity, I think they forgave us though :) Tonight was Parrot Cay; nice restaurant, and being just below it on deck 2, it was a short walk for dinner. In fact aft deck 2 is amazing, a short walk to all 3 restaurants, and straight shot up to the drink station on deck 9! Gotta love the service as well, already sprite and chocolate milk out waiting for the kids, booster chair and not a high chair this time for Lizzie, servers greeting us like we were old friends! This time...we ordered 1 of each course, much to the delight of our servers, however Vishal grimaced when I ordered some shrimp and avocado salad for an entree. Breezed through until the salad came, which I thought wasn't very good at all. Normally I can breeze through dinner but this just wasn't doing it for me. So a few minutes Vishal came over and asked how it was, all I said was it's OK, and he said that wasn't good enough. He noticed I was taking my time and didn't really seem to enjoy it, then asked if I wanted something else, actually more insisted I try something else. He brought me the grouper, which I have to say I was already eyeing anyway and between Heather and I we had it gone in a matter of minutes...amazing fish! Another great level of service that I just loved!
We all went to see Toy Story after dinner. It was a great rendition, but I have to say for some reason I didn't like it as much as the other 2 shows. Maybe because it's like a retelling of a movie, which I can turn on in my room, as opposed to something new and fresh!? It was fun nonetheless and after we really wanted to get spots for Pirate night. Lizzie was tired so she and I stayed up on deck 10, and Alex and Heather ventured into the thick of things on deck 9. He had a blast! They really know how to party it up for kids on the boat. I admit I wasn't into it as much as I will be next time. Why not go all out, it's my vacation too, I've never been to Disney before so it's like I am a little kid as well! Loved the show, loved Mickey zipline, and LOVE the fireworks! But no buffet for us, we were stuffed and drained and headed to bed.
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Tomorrow: No, I put sunscreen on this morning, I am all good!
TIPS for today:
- Bring your own cups if you can, we find the ones on deck 9 don't hold much at all.
- Bring spare batteries with you, not just on your trip. 15 minutes into the excursion my batteries started to die, all I could think of was the 4 charged spare batteries I had, sitting in my stateroom...DOH.
- IF you go on a trick or treat cruise, it starts at 400 pm, don't go when it starts, there are kids EVERYWHERE and it's a huge mess waiting in line. Fortunately Lizzie had some "sparkle issues" with her dress and getting in her eye. A short bath and we tried again at about 20 minutes later, and we never had to wait in line as everyone had cleared out already. It was a blast and there was no shortage of candy, in fact we got more then my DS did because they were trying to get rid of it!
- Don't worry about leaving kids in the Oceaneer's Club and leaving the ship, the staff are great, and the kids barely knew we were gone, they didn't want to leave when we picked them up.
- Bring your wallet on your excursions, I would feel bad not tipping at least something for the effort.
- For the princess gathering, get there early!!!!
- If you don't want your camera to die in the middle of a trip, buy a couple of the disposable ones for the kids. Alex had his little camera and rarely ever held ours. in fact I was more interested to see what he took shots of and how they developed more than mine ( I can see them on the digital camera). He had a blast with it and actually some of them turned out well lol.
What a fun trip report to read! I am encouraged by your enthusiasm and by the fact that you are an adult male. :rotfl2: My husband is usually game for anything, but I my have over-exposed him to WDW. I hope he loves our upcoming Feb. Magic cruise as much as you seemed to have enjoyed yours.
No, I put sunscreen on this morning, I am all good!
I actually slept in early the morning of Castaway Cay, all the way to 700 am :lmao: We got woken up by the thrusters kicking in to turn the ship around at the pier, nothing loud at all, just a small vibration, nothing that would keep me from the room again. It was a warm windy morning, the breeze was really blowing. I think para sailing and jet skis had been canceled for the day because of the wind. We headed to breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet, love the Mickey waffles and the amount of different food they had there. The staff was so friendly, helping us with all our trays to the deck to enjoy the morning breeze and sun. Looking out over the lagoon was brutal while waiting for the little ones to finish their breakfast! I swear they can be the slowest eaters...don't they know what awaits us!?! :laughing:
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Heather and I really, really wanted to go snorkeling (not very much snorkeling going on back home in the Mississippi!). So we found out Scuttle Cove was the Oceaneer's Club on the island. We lathered up the kids with sunscreen and dropped them off to build sand castles. Not very many kids and a lot of counselors, I felt very safe leaving them there for a little bit. So we grabbed our fins, goggles, vests, and underwater camera and headed into the water. It was our first time snorkeling and we had a blast!!! We saw a lot of sea life and small artifacts on the bottom. We had read that the sooner you get out into the water the better visibility you had, since the swimmers tended to mukky the water up during the day. We got lucky half way through, we turned around and there was probably 500-1000 fish behind us. A woman told us her son had just thrown up and lured all these fish to the area :rotfl2: we got some good pictures! Thanks bud :thumbsup2 We spent about an hour or so in the water before turning in our gear and wanted to go swimming, we really wanted the kids to come so we went and grabbed them from Scuttle's Cove. Well they just got done digging for whale bones and about to start treasure hunting...Alex declined to come with us! Grabbed Lizzie and headed into the warm water, she had a blast. I really thought she'd freak at the sight of the fish swimming right up into the shore, and walking on the sand; but she surprised us and had a blast.
Went looking for Alex again, and they had taken all the kids to lunch, awesome!!! So we went to Cookies, amazingly fast for a buffet, we didn't even wait in line. Good food, loved the Mahi Mahi! Grabbed Alex after lunch and we spent hours in the sand and water. It was warm, sunny, and amazingly different than the hotel pool we normally visit! I am not normally a sun loving person, I don't tan I burn, as you can see from some of the pictures :laughing:.
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We finally had enough sand in our swimsuits, sunburn on our shoulders, and energy left in the water. We found some great t-shirts at the store (you have to get something from Castaway Cay right!?!?) and headed back to the boat around 2 or so. We showered and got dressed and dropped the kids off at the Oceaneer's Club. Heather and I wanted to visit Shutters and the cruise desk without kids in tow. They had NO problem going and playing in the club. They were going to have their friendship rocks program at around 445 and they wanted to be part of it. So we hit Shutters, we had NO plan on buying any photos, but there so many good ones we didn't have that we had to purchase some of them, and we're glad we did. It was a little busy but we made it out alive and ready to hit the cruise desk. We had talked about doing a week long cruise in the future, and I was lobbying to her to book a couple years out to give us time to save money. After the amazing time we had on the boat, it really didn't take too much convincing :goodvibes We booked for June 2012 on the Fantasy and can't wait to go on the Eastern cruise!!!! So we visited the theater and watched Mickey and Minnie and the kids have a great little presentation. After that it was dinner in Tritons, a very nice restaurant, and sooo many red faces in there after a sunny day on the island, my wife's included! We had another great meal and were very happy to give Vishal and Art their tips for a wonderful first cruise. We did a little shopping after dinner, we promised the kids, I know bribery isn't the best option....but parents...come on we know what works right!? The captain was signing and greeting so we picked up a nice little ornament to get signed...I love every little thing is going to be a memory for us now! We found Clayton, our cruise director there and spent a good 15 minutes talking with him. He is from Minneapolis, as am I, and talked about our days working at the Mall of America. Great guy, made the whole cruise feel warm!
Tonight was Disney Dreams, another amazing production! These performers are truly talented! We all loved the show, and I believe it's on par with the Golden Mickeys! Post show we got the luggage ready to go for the next day and spent the night winding down and dreading waking up tomorrow and leaving the ship :( Because of Castaway Cay, without a doubt the best day we've ever had as a family!
Tomorrow: When do we get to go back on the Mickey Boat?
TIPS for the day:
- Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Or if you are my wife...aloe vera HA! I told you to reapply more often :rolleyes1
- We had tickets to go bike riding, which we should've done first. There was no way I wanted to ride bikes in a wet bathing suit and chaffing lol
- As much as we hated to leave Castaway Cay, it's a good time to get stuff done on the boat as it's quiet.
- Forgot to mention we dropped off 2 pillowcases, markers, and candy at guest services for the characters to sign. It was in our FE after we returned from the island, amazing service!
- Also if you have the chance to do an FE, DO IT!!!!!! To the kids it was the best part of the cruise, checking our FE every few minutes it seemed. They loved getting things and also walking the ship to drop off our gifts!
- Also plan ahead. We got a nice location in the shade on the beach...BUT...remember the sun moves and so does the shade of the trees. In the afternoon when we really wanted the sun, our shade had relocated.
- I am sure I have more words of wisdom and I might update when I think of them :)
Photos of last day:
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Thanks so much for sharing! :)
So the last day was kind of sad. I swear when you're on the boat time goes by slow since there is so much to do and look forward to, however the 3 day trip was not long enough! Woke up extra early since our breakfast was at Tritons at 7. Had a very nice sit down breakfast, the service even on the last day, and after they had already gotten their tips was great. I was actually sad to be saying goodbye to Art and Vishal, They were genuinely nice guys! Alex and Lizzie gave them big hugs when we departed :)
Unfortunately there was a small snafu at the debarkation location. Somehow the doors were not open on time and there was a long, long line waiting to get off the boat. Normally I hear it quick and smooth, but they didn't even open the doors until 8. So it took us awhile to get off the boat and down to baggage. Now I was a bit unhappy with the luggage situation. We were told that our bags would be grouped together by stateroom in our section. Well the bags were in our section, but all 3 of them were spread out all over the place! Not what I was expecting! Customs was a breeze. Have all passports and the form ready to go for the inspectors, and only one person needs to take care of it. Out the door and onto the shuttle bus for the rental car in only 15 minutes!
That drive from the port was bittersweet. Best time we've ever had, but knowing we wouldn't be back for 18 more months :( At least the trip home was slightly less uneventful than the trip there. No missing car, no delays, no weather :cool1: (Just a sick little girl who threw up all over our bed sheets at the hotel, twice! I knew I should've gotten the boy to sleep on my bed :)
Well I hope this report has been entertaining for anyone and everyone that likes to read them. I love to read other trip reports for the great stories and time they had on board, and the tips and tricks I learn from them. Wish I didn't have to wait until 2012 for our next one.
- Most everyone has black bags for luggage; one of the best things we ever did was grab some Christmas ribbon before we left and tied it around all the handles on our bags. It made finding our luggage so easy in the airports, gate check, and DCL baggage area. All we had to tell the kids was find the bags with the purple ribbons!
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