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Old 05-25-2009, 10:29 PM   #1
King Charming
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The Exploding Trip 5/29-6/1

Hi all. For those who visit the cruise board I might be familar. I'm also Hypermommy's husband, for those who may know her. I wrote a pre & post TR about our first ever (and almost free) cruise Apr/May 08. We got bit real bad by the cruise bug and Castaway Cay, so our second (and last) family cruise will be Nov 09. (and there is a current PTR over there).

Anyway, we try to go semi-often, even buying Fla res passes in 06. But Mickey's boat cost too darn much, so future trips were put on hold to save for the return cruise. We were cool with that, even though it's been 18 mos for DW, and 30 months since I've last been there. Then the Mic said we could get in for free! Well, one of us at least, and only on our birthday. That got me thinking we could go down without the two boys, for just a day trip, and spend very few dollars. (I know, I should know better by now). I missed kidnapping my wife the morning of her Bday in April and hauling her away, mostly due to her job situation and my thin wallet. Then I kinda let slip that I wouldn't mind a quickie at the end of May for my Bday, provided she get a different job (or something like that). Ka-pow! she put in her two week notice and lined up a freelance gig. She also has a Disney related website, so we have another acceptable reason to show up there once in a while. The eating machines (aka DS 15 & DS 13) are even OK with staying behind, as a greater payoff looms large. (Yes, they had a blast on the boat)

But oh how a simple day trip did morph. Did ya know we could get Fla res 2 day passes for only $99 and a merchandise credit on my Bday? So we need a room, hum... extra magic hours Fri night at MK? Book us a room at the All Stars will save us parking fees also, so sure, I was fine with the upgrade. We'll go the 29 & 30 May. The only real snag wasn't what to do with the kids, but what to do with the 2 dogs. Heck, we know lots of fools, er.. friends who will make sure they don't kill each other, but taking in big and medium dog, no, not really. Boarding? I think not, as there is no line item for it in the new budget and this could kill the whole deal. Thankfully a fellow Boy Scouter will stay here with everyone both Fri & Sat night, allowing us to stay late on Sat night before heading home.

And then it happened again, he reached right into my pocket with barely a how ya doin? They stopped selling the 2 day pass! They now sell THREE day passes. Whoa, that means another night at A/S. Well, I guess I'll have to deal with it, we will just leave Sunday afternoon and be home by dinner.

Then D23 makes reserved seating available to the concert and fireworks at Epcot on Sunday evening. Of course DW's a first year member, and wouldn't it be nice.... Oh fiddle sticks, not again. How can this be happening to me? Just as that sinking feeling set in I remembered the kids. Oh good, we have kids and no one to watch them. That didn't last long as the neighbor said they could sleep over there Sunday nite. Ouch! So a third night was added to the reservation.

At least it won't cost the old checking account much as creative financing has again bailed me out. Some very insured clown rear ended me 2 weeks ago, and his insurance company has been very generous to me when they found out I wasn't claiming injuries. So I get to take a rental car to Orlando and I'll just let Mickey cash the check. Just tell me one thing, how does he ALWAYS know when I have a few extra bucks?

Last edited by King Charming; 06-06-2009 at 01:40 AM. Reason: add dates to title
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:43 AM   #2
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I believe I left off crying about costs that keep increasing, so I'll continue. Why should we be limited to only three parks in 3 days? Aren't there FOUR parks? When you have been away for as long as we have, all the parks have something new. Since another pit stop in Orlando is at least another 18 months away.... No! Not another night, please, I can't take all this pre trip fun. Instead we will add the park hopper option, only adding $25 to the $139 +tax tickets. Oh yeah, this is starting to sound more and more like the free cruise we won that only cost me $4.5K.

But I've found a way to save a few bucks by taking as much food as we can carry. I must have looked pretty silly packing all our stuff into the Pop 2 1/2 years ago. I even brought my own 2 wheel dolly to move our mini-frig, microwave, coffee maker, cases of food & soda, suitcases, et al. for a nine night stay. While the dolly will stay home, I'm sure a couple of good sized coolers will come along.

Now it is true that I can make Lincoln cry when I squeeze a penny, but I seem to have a soft spot in my heart for Mickey. (or is it a soft spot on my head?, or in my wallet?). It must be the joy that he spreads so thick that I can't resist. When you see that special Mickey smile on a family member's face, you just know that you have to do it again.

Hey, maybe the Mic will cut back on these free offers and I'll actually be able to save a few $$$. Naw, that takes all the fun out of it.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:01 PM   #3
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Itinerary

At 7:30am I'll be at the car rental place that is 3 blocks away. They called the other day to tell me the insurance co. notified them so I made a res.
8:00 Home to load the car 8:15 Leave
1pm Arrive All Stars, attempt check in. NLT 1:30 Bus to Hollywood Studios
4pm Bus to A/S 5pm Swim/Check in 6pm Dinner 7pm Bus to MK 1am Bus to A/S
Sat
??am Hypermommy out Noon wake up/swim/eat 2pm Bus to A/K 7pm Bus to Epcot 10 pm Bus to A/S
Sun
8am Bus to Epcot (EMH) 10 pm Bus to A/S
Mon
10am wake up/swim 11 am Drive to Downtown Disney 1pm Leave Orlando 6pm Home

As you can tell, Fri's stop at HS is nothing more than just a photo op and being able to say we went. It's our least fav, but I'm sure we will find something interesting or new to do. The fireworks at MK are a must do for me, so doing it the first night gives us a second chance Sat if it rains. The forecast for Fri ain't so good, but Sat & Sun look alot better. The extra 3 hours tonight were at the top of the list for staying on property.

Being the hyper one, DW sleeps very little when near Disney. So she was OK with doing her own thing Sat am while I was sleeping off my Mickey hangover. We'll meet over at A/K, as it has great photo ops, Everest, and cool hats. Then over to either M/K or Epcot for the fireworks show. As long as we get a picture with Mickey, today will be considered a success.

There will be EMH Sun am at Epcot, so being here all day might take some of the sting from knowing we won't be back for many a moon. This is DW's fav park, and the ending of the Flower Festival. Tony Orlando will do a concert before a special(?) fireworks show. I love drinking and eating around the world when the buses run so promptly. If I end up recording Illumination both Sat & Sun nite it will give me a chance to edit to two together for something that might approach watchability. Maybe the reserved seats will offer a better angle to shoot from. I'm sure the video camera will get plenty of use as I'll be taking a neat little mini-tripod.

Monday morning we will try to stretch it out as long as possible before hitting the road. Getting back home is always such a reality slap; nobody asking what they can do for you, but plenty of obligations that can't be ignored any longer. Kinda make me wonder why it is even part of the plan....
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:44 PM   #4
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So if I'm reading it right, it's 1:45pm (eastern) on Friday so you are bumping your way to DHS on the lovely Disney transportation!! I'm sure you're going to have a great trip!!
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Old 06-05-2009, 06:18 PM   #5
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We are back

We had a blast!! The 'vacation' ended up a tad more expensive (as always), but we deserved a childless weekend. There were a few sore spots, some surprises and free stuff, and lots of celebrating.
Friday
Up at dawn for the both of us. Routine for DW, unheard of for me. We both slept fairly well. A quick ride to the rental car place had me there at 7:20, 10 mins prior to opening. Back home (3 blocks away) by 7:45, so we packed, loaded the car, and were away by 8:45. Huh? An hour? Well, the first trip out the driveway was appearently just practice, as we came back for (her) sunglasses. We made good time on the highway. It was a smooth ride until we neared Orlando, when my navigator went AWOL . Grumpy showed up pretty quick and was most unkind to his wife . I pulled it together at exactly 1:05 when we entered the lobby of the sports hotel. Check-in went fast (room was ready), and bought our tickets. I loved/hated our room location; Hoops hotel, way down at the end. On the plus side it was on the first floor and where nobody would be walking past. But I don't think you can find a room (3111) much further from BOTH the parking lot and food court. With the rate I got ($240 total for 3 nites), I didn't care. We made it to the bus stop by 2.
For some unknown reason we went to AK. I guess I wanted my new hat more than I was willing to admit. We did Everest (25 min wait), but mostly wandered around. The weather was iffy, raining on us while unloading the car, but it stayed dry the rest of the weekend.
Back to the bus and straight to MK. One of the highlights of the weekend occured at 7:15 when we walked under the railroad bridge and onto Main Street. First stop was the bakery for a turnover and choc milk. There was no parade tonight (boo), so more wandering until Wishes, which I videotaped. We had a fine angle with the fireworks just to the right of the castle, even with an obstructed view (darn that popcorn stand ). We expected the park to close at 9 with three more EMH; everything got pushed back an hour (hoo-ray). The longest wait was at Haunted Mansion, 30 mins at 10:30 and Peter Pan, 20 mins at 9:30. Small World was boarded up but open! I didn't ask why, but was glad so many other people assumed otherwise as I walked right on. We also walked right onto Pirates around midnight. We did everything we wanted to (no mountains), and were extremely content as we walked out at 12:53.
The bus situation could have been depressing, as only resort guests are leaving at this hour. There was only about a bus load of folks at the A/S Movie & A/S Music loading areas, but A/S Sports is slap full and we are at the end of the line . As we walk up bus 1 comes in for a load. After it leaves we watch we watch the other two A/S busses gobble up those people. 15(?) mins later bus 2 arrives for a load. About the time it fills up and everybody outside the bus begins to groan, bus 3 swoops in, pinning bus 2 in place, and gets us. We had to stand as we where the last to get on, but at least we were moving. After a minimal wait in a situation that had Grumpy raring to go, it was nice to get back to the hotel so fast. We were in bed by 3. It had been a great day, hitting two parks, and we still had 2 full days to go!
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:59 PM   #6
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But it's my Birthday

The best overall experience from the whole weekend was walking slowly. It was so darn nice to not be in a hurry. While families around us are whizzing by, we ambled. You get to notice the finer details that way; like hearing the music and talking from the open window of the Music & Dance Studio on the second floor, or strolling down the deadends to photograph the icons from a new angle. Without having to consult others (ie the kids), we just waltzed around like we owned the place and had all day to get there. It was totally stress free.

Going to the parks on your Bday is a blast if you like being recognized. They gave me a special button upon check-in to wear that you print your name on. Of course I wrote King Charming on it and received a warm welcome from darn near every CM I encountered. Most were amused and a few of them really got into it with me. I also got hit with some pixie dust and it really threw me for a loop. As we were leaving the park Fri nite (starting from the back), I stopped for french fries as the stand was closing. "That's alright" she said as she handed them to me, "and happy birthday!" (Yeah, I wore the button both Fri and Sat). Now I know what that usually means in the real world, but here? "No, really" she says as she shoos me away. The fries were hot and tasty.
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:39 PM   #7
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Sat
We got our wake-up call at 10, then went back to sleep. 11 seemed more reasonable. This is how I planned on starting my Bday. DW, knowing we had 14+ hours at Epcot tomorrow, also wisely slept in. We probably starting moving around by 11:30. We didn't go swimming, but still didn't make it over to HS until 2. We got a great spot to video the block party, then did a few rides/shows. It was a Star Wars weekend, so I bought a hokey T-shirt (that I returned on Mon). We left around 5. The crowds this whole weekend were acceptable, not the mob scene I would have expected between Memorial & Labor day.
Anyway, we stopped back at the room to make sandwiches before making a brief appearance at Epcot tonight. While in the cooler I found my ice cold beer stash, so I'm sure I enjoyed some refreshing beverages for the next few hours. Around 7 I was headed straight to the UK for 2 orders of fish & chips (4 me) from the stand near the Rose & Crown. Then over to the bandstand area to listen to the British Invasion (yes, they're still there!) play Beatles tunes. I munched and drank to my hearts content. This is one of the places/meals I like best, and did it again the next day. After seeing the Canada movie, we left during Illuminations. I was just too relaxed (?) to fight the crowds. It paid off as it only took 35 mins from park exit to laying on the bed!
We tried something new today, moving the car to the front of the parking lot on the way out. We are not saving any time OR distance by using the car for our bus commute, but it sure seems like we are at the end of the day.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:55 PM   #8
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Sunday
Being in bed at a respectable hour allows this old man (hey, I'm 52 now) to be up and ready for early EMH. So we are moving the car at 7:45 and realize that we will have to wait for the bus, stopping to pick-up more folks from the other A/S resorts, and we might not get there till 8:30. Hum, if only...
Duh, why am I parking the rental here when I could be parking it there? Oh, OK. It's a short drive and soon we are parking at the near-in end of row 2. We were in EPCOT by 8:05, and there was no line for Spaceship Earth. We rode it twice. There is a room full of kid level interactive stuff as you leave, so save time for it. DW was there for a long time, trying it all. D23 (more about them later) provided Soarin FP in the welcome packet for tonight's get together. So we collected one for Fast Track, then did those two. Wait times were already over an hour by then. Then for some serious wheeling and dealing with the mouse. Over at MouseGear I traded only $110 for 3 T-shirts, one hat, and one throw! I drive such a hard bargin they were glad to be rid of me. I quickly took my loot out to the car before they changed their minds. Next was a photo with Mickey, then with Minnie. Everything looked great, with flowers everywhere. The clouds had completely disappeared yesterday afternoon, never to be seen again, so today was picture perfect. In the world showcase we turned left, doing Mexico, China, et al. I finally gave out at Morocco after nearly falling asleep in the American show. We split up at 4 as I took the bus back to the hotel. I ate and drank my fill of Pepsi (just gotta have it sometimes), and was back in just over 2 hours.
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Old 06-07-2009, 11:59 PM   #9
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D23 is the first official fan organization and the only reason we are still in the park (or Orlando) at 6pm. They gave us VIP seating for the concert & fireworks. Only Tony Orlando is playing and he only has 3 good(?) songs; oh pleeeeze. We went over to the concert area after 6:30 to look for a check-in station and heard the last 10 mins of the second of 3 shows he is doing this pm. Man oh man was I ever glad to be wrong. He really seemed to be enjoying himself and the band sounded great. I started looking forward to his farewell show, as they are usually the best of the set. Since D23 also issued passes on lanyards, no check-in necessary and they seated us all first and together. At 7:30 Mr O put on a show. At first only his Mickey hands appeared from behind the curtain, and he wore them for the first few minutes. No one plays to a crowd as well as this man. He asked that someone post online his singing of the Mickey Mouse Club song while wearing the hands, and later asked to be photographed with the D23'ers as we stood and waved our arms. "It will look like I got a standing ovation" he said. He has been with these musicians for 12 years, 5 years longer than with Dawn he proudly claimed. They started with a Paul Simon tune and ended with the Beatles. He had a great playlist and the show never slowed down. When it was over we waited for everyone to clear out and were then led over to the private on the water viewing area in front of France. They served coffee and desserts during the hour we were there. I spoke with a local passholder who said the show hasn't changed in years, and flower show finale or not, it was the same show. I still taped it as it is one of DW's favorites.
After grabbing another coffee and bottle of water, we left there to hide out at the UK bandstand area (no one around). We took endless pictures as we watched the crowd slowly pass. Having a car that is much closer than the bus stop area was a nice perk that I fully appreciated tonight. Getting back was easy and we were asleep by midnight.
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Old 06-08-2009, 04:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King Charming View Post
There is a room full of kid level interactive stuff as you leave, so save time for it. DW was there for a long time, trying it all. D23 (more about them later) provided Soarin FP in the welcome packet for tonight's get together.
I have to disagree with KC's assessment of the postshow area of SE. I don't think it's "kid level" stuff at all. Or, to put it more accurately, aren't we all kids at WDW so why shouldn't we have fun too? Admittedly the race driver thing is definitely something more geared for kids (although it was a great way for Siemans to show off some of the technology that we'll hopefully have in cars in a few years) but I really enjoyed the remote medical training game and my favorite was the morning checkup example they had. They said you'll have a medical assistant computer in the house and every morning you'll do little tests whose results get reported to your doctor. The example tests were all neurological. There was one like the old game Simon where you had to remember the order in which buttons were flashed and repeat it. And there was one that tested your hand/eye coordination by having different colored diamonds come on the screen and you had to tap the button when the moving part and the stationary part on the screen were in the same spot. I know there was one other station but I can't quite remember what it was.

Innoventions, though... man that place has so changed since I"ve been there. I'm darn near kicking myself for not insisting on a seasonal pass so I can go back and check that place out because I know it's got a lot of stuff in there that would meet Scouting requirements and it'd be great for my website! I didn't get to do the Stormstruck activity because it was a 25 minute wait until the next show and KC wasn't going to be at the car that long. I did do the Waste Management activity, though and it was great the way they taught you what happens to your garbage. They're set up for a team of four players (but I was playing alone so all of my partners were computer players). First you had a station where you had to answer some questions about your habits. Then you had this garbage truck you had to push around the floor and plug into the receiving slots at each station. Sure, they could have used a USB key or something... but pushing around a garbage truck is so much more fun! Then you go to the sorting station where each player has a type of recyclable trash that they have to sort out of what's coming by on the conveyor belt. I had paper so I had to grab every piece of paper that came along and put it in my bin while sending non-paper pieces along to my teammates for them to collect. After that station there was a station where you were burning the trash and generating electricity from the burning. Then it was time to take what was left to the landfill. But my landfill is productive becuase it harvests the methane produced by buried trash and uses that to make electricity. My landfill ended up being a wildlife refuge area once all the trash was covered up.

And they had an exibit/show/activity about problem solving put on by Velcro and then there's the Great Piggybank Adventure neither of which I got to test out. Boy, there was so much new stuff I'm just jonesin' terribly to get back!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by King Charming View Post
He really seemed to be enjoying himself and the band sounded great. I started looking forward to his farewell show, as they are usually the best of the set. Since D23 also issued passes on lanyards, no check-in necessary and they seated us all first and together. At 7:30 Mr O put on a show. At first only his Mickey hands appeared from behind the curtain, and he wore them for the first few minutes. No one plays to a crowd as well as this man. He asked that someone post online his singing of the Mickey Mouse Club song while wearing the hands, and later asked to be photographed with the D23'ers as we stood and waved our arms. "It will look like I got a standing ovation" he said. He has been with these musicians for 12 years, 5 years longer than with Dawn he proudly claimed. They started with a Paul Simon tune and ended with the Beatles. He had a great playlist and the show never slowed down. When it was over we waited for everyone to clear out and were then led over to the private on the water viewing area in front of France. They served coffee and desserts during the hour we were there. I spoke with a local passholder who said the show hasn't changed in years, and flower show finale or not, it was the same show. I still taped it as it is one of DW's favorites.
After grabbing another coffee and bottle of water, we left there to hide out at the UK bandstand area (no one around). We took endless pictures as we watched the crowd slowly pass. Having a car that is much closer than the bus stop area was a nice perk that I fully appreciated tonight. Getting back was easy and we were asleep by midnight.
I'm in full agreement with KC here. TO was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The way I've said it to other people, he was obviously enjoying himself up there and we were along for the party.

I got teary eyed at Illuminations again. Hey, what'dya want.... Illuminations will always hold a special place in my heart especially since the last trip where my mom got to see it. And to be lucky enough to view it in the private viewing area with no one jostling you around and to enjoy Disney desserts and delicious coffee (with vanilla and caramel - hey.. I'm on vacation... why choose?) was just wonderful!

KC was also wonderful about me wanting to amble out of the park. Like he said, we hid out in the back of the UK and must have been one of the last 50 people out of the park. Once we did start moving again we just strolled right along in no hurry at all.

I'll try to get some pictures posted on here later this afternoon. Right now I've got to get back to work. Oh, but this was a marvelous trip!!!!
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Old 06-08-2009, 04:48 PM   #11
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I was wondering if she'd show up here too, and now I'm not so sure it is a good thing. Please excuse me a moment while I help her understand. As you may recall dearest, disagreeing with ANY assessment documented by the King is strictly forbidden!! I rule my kingdom with an iron fist! Now to the back of the line with you and we'll hear no more of this nonsense. (If it's alright w/ you dear). There, that should take care of it. Now where was I? Ah, yes...
Monday
We were both up early and took turns being lazy. We never did go swimming (rats), and packed the car (too) slowly. DW pointed out that we didn't ride the monorail, and because it goes right by EPCOT.... Off we go, parking out near the far end of the first parking lot. We make the circuit to T&T Center and back, then some final photos. As slow as we were moving I'm surprised we weren't busted for loitering. Back in the car to DD for another Grumpy Tshirt and Earls lunch. We came, we spent, now it's time to leave. We drove off Disney property at 12:30 for another quick and uneventful 263 miles.
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:19 PM   #12
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Ouch!*!

Inasmuch as I enjoyed the relaxed pace we moved at, I once again experienced the painful reality of my feet. I found out many trips ago that my feet just can't take the pounding they receive by walking around on all that concrete. The last time we went for a week I brought along my mom's scooter chair. I felt great at the end of the day and couldn't understand why more people don't ride these carts. I'd park it in a stroller area and walk in. I knew there might be trouble this time but hoped they would hold out for a few days. The only real trouble with the power chair was getting it on and off the busses; which is why it stayed at mom's this time. Big mistake! Even with new sneakers, deluxe in-soles, and new socks each day, I still managed to tear my feet up. So this was my last (again) stroll in the park, I'll be riding from now on.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:58 PM   #13
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Random thoughts

I had one of my best time there despite the sorrow and regret that nearly a dozen Franklins had to be sacrificed. There IS a reason Mickey wears those big oversized glove, ya know. It had been too long since we've been, and DW was able to get the low-down on most of the new stuff for her newsletter. This is how we justified this trip, as a research mission (although it could have been sub-titled 'The kids get to live a little longer'.)
For other ramblings that didn't fit anywhere, read on.
Although it's good to be home, I think I had a better time away.
The busses, EMH, and no parking fees again swayed me into staying on property.
The grey rabbits running around the hotel grounds loved teasing the little kids; who would get within 5 feet of them before the rabbit hopped 20 feet away to start the game again.
I thought it quite ironic when I found the black box rodent traps around the property; seems Mickey doesn't like the compitition.
When I looked at the costs I was surprised how much the Fla discount actually took off the list price. It almost makes these weekends appear affordable.
D23 and Tony O ROCK!!
Hunting for a 'stone' color car, when you're not sure exactly what it looks like, in a large lot, was amusing. Thankfully it had a horn blower button on the key.
I got the greatest Grumpy T-shirt ever, better than "I'm Grumpy because you're Dopey". This one says "Genius by birth, Grumpy by choice".
I wish I hadn't lost my video camera Mon morning, or that maybe Walt's friends had found it.
I'm glad my feet heal quickly, limping stinks!
I'd do it again next weekend if it was even possible my tiny checking account would put up with it.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:48 PM   #14
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Ramblings part 2

ANY of the buttons they give you at check-in will be commented on by the various CM's you see if you wear it high where it can be seen.
Car insurance is good. Thank you what's his name for having a prompt ins. co. My truck bumper looks good now that Mickey fixed it.
As a dad you always say don't make a big deal out of my Bday. As a result I had the most memorable day in 30 years.
Driving a new car is fun, even if it is a rental (Ford Focus BTW).
Get your sailor suit ready Mickey, I expect alot of photo ops in Nov.
The recent 1% of the year we just spent at Disney make the other 99% a bit easier.
I still can't believe we saw and did so much at a snail's pace.
Just like on the ship, adults can and do have a great time in the parks without kids.
FYI - the child trading centers are closed, in ALL the parks. You HAVE to take home the same kids you started the day with.
Everyone WILL enjoy the place as much as we did. Truely celebrate YOUR trip.

And finally, as a great man said not so long ago, 'You can only spend a dollar once, memories last a lifetime'.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:26 PM   #15
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Oh you guys sound like you had a wonderful time! So gald you could do it the way you wanted. I love research trips! I need photos and it was hard to tell, did you lose your video camera? I hope not.
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