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Old 08-27-2004, 01:39 AM   #1
gopherit
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On the first day of Disney...

On the First day of Disney, Mickey gave to me...
A night in the BCV!



Cast of Characters:

Cindy (that’s me, 37 yr old “Mom”, obsessive-compulsive planner of these trips!)
Rich (DH, 38 yrs young “Dad”, basically wonderful and easy going, but occasionally known to slip into the less-loved persona, Mr. “How Much is This Going to Cost Me?”)
Evan (9 yrs old, our deep thinker and comfort seeker)
Ryan (8 yrs old, our tireless spark on an endless thrill quest)
Caroline (4 yrs old and already has the role of drama queen mastered!)


And now for the story: It was a dark and stormy night... Ooops, wrong story. But where to begin? Our trips are typically 1-2 yrs in the making, consisting of days, weeks, months of the tireless efforts of the planner (that would be me) with the occasional (and largely thankless) input from the crew (“I wanna ride Rock-N-Rollercoaster! Make sure you plan for that, Mom! At least FIVE TIMES… no, six!” “I want to see the Princesses, Mommy!” “Ewww, I DON’T want to see the Princesses, Mom! I’ll eat ANYWHERE but NOT with a princess! GAG!” “You get more food for your money at the buffets, you know. Do lots of buffets!”) You get the idea. And I wasn’t just planning for our motley crew of five; tagging along at various stages of the trip would also be numerous other family members (I’ll introduce them as we go… no sense confusin’ you now.) So where exactly the trip begins is debatable, since I felt I had been on this “trip” for at least 18 months already!

So I’ll begin at the actual onset of our travels. It was early in the wee hours of August 6th, the morning after the night before, wherein we ripped the last ring off the “summer vacation countdown” paper chain and tossed it in the trash. That most-highly coveted ring was at last discarded, the one with the brightly colored cast of characters printed on it, along with the words, “OFF TO DISNEY WORLD AGAIN – YAHOO!” And so, at 4 am, with the van packed and ready, DH Rich retrieved one by one our slumbering progeny from their beds. In the van, of course, they all promptly sprang to life and chatted excitedly. They had new mooshie pillows for the trip (those Lycra* spandex beanbag creations), their beach towels for blankets, and enough excitement to pave every crevice of Main Street USA. As we progressed down I-77 South from our West Virginia lair, I found myself constantly accessing what had become affectionately known as my Disney Brain-in-a-Binder: a 3-ring, 2 inch binder with everything Disney inside. Interstate exit info, all our ressie and PS numbers, photocopies of our passes, Orlando maps, Eisner’s social security number… You name it, it’s in there. The drive is roughly 14 hrs from our home to Disney’s doors, if you had the kahunas and/or caffeine to drive it non-stop. However, for the sake of our children (who had, by the time we exited our development, already begun asking, “Are we there yet?”) and our own sanity, we decided to pit-stop somewhere in Georgia. Our first stop was for just a refuel in Wytheville, Va. A bathroom break was later made at the South Carolina border, and a brief chow break around Orangeburg, S.C., followed. We made it to Kingsland, Georgia in great time – about 4 pm. While we perhaps could have pressed forward to arrive in St. Augustine, or even Orlando, we decided to make our stop here as planned and let the kids stretch a bit. After all, knowing that “Contents Settle During Shipping”, we were a little concerned that Caroline might have packed down by a half of a VERY critical inch and no longer pass the 40” mark for Splash Mountain!

We elected to stay at Country Inn & Suites in Kingsland. If you ever pit-stop here, definitely use a coupon if possible (available at roomsavers.com or at the state welcome centers). We were able to get the room for much cheaper than the rack rate ($58 versus $75). We just used the coupon, and then called the 800 phone # on our cell phone to cancel our prior ressie there. Also – if you are debating between Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, or Country Inn for this city – don’t. Just go with whichever gives you the best price. They are literally side-by-side and seem to be quite comparable in amenities and such. After check-in, we took the kids for a swim in the indoor pool. It seemed nice enough, and thankfully wasn’t overkilled with chlorine. Some indoor pools have a tendency to knock you flat with chlorine vapor (and this is coming from someone who makes her living as a chemist, so if it bothers me… consider yourselves duly warned!) Afterwards, we debated on our dining options. An Applebee’s is within walking distance, but it was a Friday night and the wait was substantial (30 minutes). We ended up walking over to La Cucina – an Italian restaurant also quite nearby. It smelled really good inside – our stomachs made us stay, even though we were told the wait would be nearly the same! We struck up a conversation with another waiting family, also Disney-bound. Ironically, they were from my husband’s hometown (Wilmington, Delaware). With the song “It’s a Small World” ringing faintly in my head, we were finally seated. Food was excellent here, as we all agreed, although DH did have a moment of panic. He’s quite culinarily-challenged and the capers on the salad greatly disturbed him. Service was slow, however. We waited an eternity (or 20 minutes – whichever) for the check and a doggy bag. We finally waddled back to the room and watched “Bruce Almighty”, which the boys thought was a real hoot, and got our stuff assembled so we could make a hasty exit in the morning for Disney.

We arose bright and early the next day. It never ceases to amaze me how kids can arise so readily, so easily, on days like this, yet be immovable, grumpy, protoplasmic lumps on a school day. We ate our breakfast fairly quickly and actually hit the road before 9 am. A quick gas stop and we were off. We had heard all about the “value” of Florida gasoline, and how Floridians prized their gas so highly, they also charged a lot more for it! Funny, however – as we drove down past Jacksonville, and St. Aggie, and Daytona – the gas prices all stayed the same. We never did see the gas gouging we had heard so much about. The Hess station on Buena Vista Drive even seemed as comparably priced as anything we had seen anywhere in Georgia. Maybe Georgia thinks their gas is "special" now, too. We arrived at the Beach Club before noon, and elected to just park the car and walk in, dodging valet.

Another small factoid about DH that you should know: he’s valet-impaired.

He just can’t understand the concept of paying someone to do a job he feels he can do himself. And while he is not cheap, he is, by his own definition, “frugal” or “thrifty”, if you will. Personally, I get embarrassed about the whole thing, and usually we end up in a spat at least once during a trip wherein I say, “Oh just use the valet!” and he looks at me in utter disbelief as if I were tossing Ben Franklins into the air. The Great Valet Debate of 2002 had actually led us to pack up our own vehicle from a stay at VWL, only to realize at about the S.C. border that neither of us had emptied the small drawer in the bathroom… the one that held the medicines, my make-up, my jewelry. WDW sent us the goods, but not before someone had already lifted an opal ring and set of earrings and one Clinique compact. I confess that I still watch folks around WDW with a suspicious eye, looking for anyone wearing an opal mosaic ring and matching earrings on their “Ivory Bisque” skin. In my heart of hearts I still felt that had we used valet, we would have had time to look through all the drawers, and I would still have my stuff. The table was set, you might say, for Valet War II before the trip even began… stay tuned.

But back to our arrival… While the kids checked out the resort, I stood in the cattle line for check-in.

Mooo.

It was slow, but I was excited, and honestly didn’t care, so give that a happy exclamation point:

Moooooo!

No one in the line seemed to share my enthusiasm, though. So many long faces…. Hmmm. Maybe they were all checking OUT, not in, I thought – that would surely depress me too. Like being led to slaughter…

...moooooo....

Finally I got out of the pasture and over the fence, as I was summoned to the desk by the CM! MOOOO-ve over, comin' through!!

There was some initial confusion with our ressie – apparently doing a cash ressie with a DVC discount for two rooms that are separate but together causes issues. Our reservation immediately prompted the appearance and welcome from the Grand Gatherings Liason. Grand Gatherings is Disney's promo for large groups and special events. Personally, I wasn’t keen on this whole Grand Gatherings mess. I had only joined so that we could have access to the special EPCOT Illuminations dinner. Since joining, I had killed (through Disney’s help) no less than 43 trees with endless itineraries that were printed by Disney and sent to us. And they were all like snowflakes, never finding two exactly the same, and none were ever wholly correct. I found it odd that Grand Gatherings had tracked me to BCV, since our BCV stay was a cash night that really preceeded our Grand Gathering stay. Some of our group wasn’t even coming until the next day. Nonetheless, there stood the very cheerful GG contact, giving me her name, number, and promise of aid should we ever need it. Finally the CM gave me some keys to our studio and 1 br villas, informing me the rooms were not yet ready, however. No biggie – we figured as much, since villa check in really isn’t until 4 pm anyway.

We used the keys to get our wristbands and towels at Storm-Along-Bay pool (SAB) and decided to hang out there until the rest of our party arrived and our rooms were ready. I secured a lifevest for Caroline – our 4 yr old actually swims quite well, but she was feeling a tad nervous and wanted the vest for reassurance. Personally, looking at the vast pool, I wanted that reassurance too! That pool is HUGE. To call SAB a "pool" is to call Wilderness Lodge a “cabin”. With 3 children of differing swim talents and preferences, it could easily be this mother’s nightmare. I mean, I know the WDW lifeguards are good, but it’s still my job, first and foremost, to look after those 3 tadpoles, and logistics-wise, it would be a situation to be reckoned with. We set down our stuff on some chairs near the slide entry into the pool. The boys immediately pumped me for info, “Ooooh, a slide! Where does it start – is it back there?” And without waiting for an answer, they vaporized, off to find the answer themselves and leave me sputtering in the dust. So from then on, Rich and I took shifts, either playing with Caroline in the kiddie-friendly areas, or chasing the boys, or making the occasional call to the desk to see if our room was ready.

I think that “early room” stuff is frustrating – I began to wish they had just told me to suck it up – room ain’t ready ‘til 4. As I called the phone number to check on our room status, I began to sound like the familiar ad…

“Can you house me now?"
"Can you house me now?"
"Can you house me now?”

Except I didn’t get to say “Good”… I just kept hearing,

“No, not yet… Have a Magical Day!”
"No, not yet... Have a Magical day!"
"No, not yet... Have a ..." (yeah, yeah, alright already, magic schmagic.....)

But in truth, the kids were having fun in the pool, and the waiting surely didn’t seem to bother them in the least, so who was I to complain? Rich’s brother and his wife and their 2 sons (ages 4 and 8 mos) were due to arrive that afternoon, having flown from Philly. So some of my phone time was also spent calling them to check on their progress towards us.

Prior to injecting them into this tale, I should give some preface of how they came to be part of the story. Rich’s brother and his wife accompanied us on a trip 2 yrs ago to Disney, staying for 8 nights at the Villa at Wilderness lodge. They loved it (but not so much that they felt inclined to become DVC members themselves). Our kids loved having their cousin, aunt and uncle along, too. So rewind back to last year as I am neck-deep in the plans for our 2004 trip, and they suddenly express interest in coming again. We were a bit surprised – after all, they were expecting a baby in Dec. 2003, and while we ourselves had taken our dd to Disney when she was only 8 months old, we took her in January – not the brutal heat of August. Our amazement grew as they continued to plan for this trip despite several critical events: the baby was born with a serious heart defect that required surgery at only a few weeks of age. A second unexpected surgery was then required in May. They elected to sell their house, build a new house, and move, all right around the exact same time of this trip – but still, they insisted, they were “in”, and full throttle ahead, Sulu, with all trip planning. They were committed (or should have been, if you know what I mean.) Part of the agreement in their inclusion was that they wanted to contribute in tsome way, so Rich and I agreed they could provide one night’s lodging prior to our DVC stay (as it would be a Saturday night and the DVC points are always so high on a Saturday). Somehow we arrived at the decision to split the stay between 2 different resorts – do one night on cash at BCV so the kids could enjoy SAB pool, then move over to Boardwalk Villas (BWV) for the remaining 8 nights. Rich and I actually own our DVC points at BWV since 1999, and yet we had never stayed at that resort -- ahhh DVC, so many resorts, never enough time or points! So it would be one night at BCV on cash coutesy of Rich's brother and his family, then over to BWV for 8 more nights. After those plans were set, I then added 3 more nights at Saratoga Springs Resort for just our immediate family of 5 (I wanted some “just us” quality time, and the curiosity over SSR was killing me!) So the trip was therefore scheduled to include 3 resorts over 13 days’ time. That’s not our typical vacation (we usually like to just grow wherever we plant ourselves. Too much risk of leaving stuff behind in small bathroom drawers, after all…) But that was the game plan, anyway, good , bad, or otherwise! And somewhere in all this craziness, my sister and some of her crew would join us over at BWV for a few days. (Have you got all this down? There will be a quiz later...)

So around 2:30 p.m., BIL, SIL, and our 2 nephews finally make their arrival to BCV. We sit around the pool a bit longer, and at around 3:45 I make yet another call (“Can you house me now?”) to which I FINALLY hear the words, “Yes!”

Well, sort of – they said the studio was ready, but not the 1 BR. I recalled that the 2 were joined, however, per the front desk’s own words, so technically, we knew our room numbers for both rooms. SIL and I made our way with infant nephew over to the rooms. Housekeeping was still quite deep into cleaning the 1br room. The rooms were ground floor – and I of course cringed. The one comment I had ever made about BCV was Lordy, don’t give me a ground floor – you can look right in ‘em! It was at least NS and non-HC, and they were together. For that much, at least, I felt we should be thankful! When I reported back to the gang what the room numbers would be, everyone kept asking me, “Is that the best room? Did we get good rooms? Are those the ones you had wanted?” DH had even made a scrunchy face when I gave him the room numbers – he recognized the ground floor status and gave me a look that said, to me at least, “How can this be, if you’ve done all that Disney homework, how could we have ended up on the lowly peon ground floor?!” I felt a bit pressured – and said a silent prayer the rooms would be all right.

But ironically, we found that the ground floor room proved to be our advantage! The rooms (172 and 170) have patios that face the bridge / sidewalk over the canal. This was VERY convenient to the parking lot (are you seeing a bright, shining point of light here for my aforementioned valet-impaired DH?) We could easily grab a bag or two as needed, then stuff it back in the car the next day, all on our own. And there were no stairs to navigate the stroller through (or elevator buttons for the kids to fight over!) It was more convenient than we had even imagined. Easy walk to the bus stop, too, which was a good thing, as we needed to head out for our Chef Mickey reservations. We put ourselves in high gear, got ready and headed out to the BCV bus stop to catch a ride to MK and the Contemporary for our dinner ressie.

The buses seemed slow to us, so when a DTD bus finally approached, we took it instead of waiting for MK, happy to be on the go and out of the now drizzly rain. Possibly this was a moment of weakness and bad decision - we'll never know for sure. At DTD, our changeover to a Contemporary bus was fast and painless… but the remaining ride was NOT. We must have “PLEASE CHANGE THE BUS DRIVER!” posted on our foreheads, because it seems whatever bus we take, we must so repulse the driver that he or she feels a need to ditch us ASAP. After the driver changeover and a few more DTD stops, we then went to Typhoon Lagoon (TL).

By this time it had begun to rain – hard. All the sopping wet TL folks boarded – and they packed ‘em in well enough to wring them out in the process. The fellow in front of me apparently was still reliving his TL glory days and felt compelled to “surf” on the bus – using no hands, and occasionally striking a pose on one foot as the bus moved along. I can’t fully do this scene justice – it wasn’t like he was showing off, it was more like he was zoning and totally into riding the Big One, Hawaii-five-O style. Now music from Lilo and Stitch was humming in my head. I was convinced that any minute, he was going to lose his virtual righteous wave and find my face with his posterior.

Not good.

So I sat half-flinching, pressed flush against the seat, all the rainy way to the Contemporary. We arrived at Chef M’s a fair bit late, thanks to all the bus issues. But to Chef Mick’s credit, this did not phase them! They took our party of 9 almost immediately. We were seated in the very back this time, which was a different perspective (last time we were right up front). Personally, I didn’t mind. We were seated by the big windows (although we couldn’t see anything, due to the rain). We had lots of space to move around, too. The kids ate fairly well (I think it helped being out of the big hub-bub and just letting the characters come to us!) The buffet was as good as ever, although some old faves weren’t present (like the seafood pasta that tasted like Lobster Bisque!) That chocolate pie was there, however -- it is to die for (the one with the little chocolate Mickey faces stuck in it!) DH loved the parmesan potatoes (hey, no capers there!)

One interesting note about the characters – we noticed that while Goofy and the characters played around with the kids, as soon as we pulled out a camera, the character would strike this pose with their arms in this, “Look Ma, No Hands / Lawsuits!” pose. It was especially notable with Goofy. I guess we have the "Tigger Trials" and other recently publicized character "groping" incidents to thank for that. After our dinner, we cruised around the Contemporary a bit, got some pressed coinage for the kids, and hopped the monorail to MK. From there, we bussed on back to BCV. The kids were pretty tired from all their play at SAB, so we got them settled for the night.

I finally got to check out the room a bit more. For starters, it was NOT small. I don’t know why, but the longer I stay away from Disney, the more convinced I am that a particular room will be cramped or small. Must be the way pictures always flatten things, or perhaps the way some folks always dish on the newer DVC resorts as "so tiny" relative to OKW -- who knows. In any case -- the studio had ample space from my perspective, even with the sleeper sofa fully deployed. Everything seemed in good working order, and clean too. I liked the layout fairly well. And over in the 1BR, I really liked that table. It seemed to create more space (using the oblong table versus the round) and have more seating. The room did seem a bit dark, but then, we kept the curtains drawn so as not to become a spectacle for passing tourons. The sight of us lounging about in our pjs might make some poor soul lose his No Way Jose' – can’t feel responsible for such a travesty as that, so we kept the curtains pulled.

The lizard issue did haunt me at least once at this resort. Lizards seemed to be lurking outside our patio door in the thousands, all just waiting for the opportunity to get to know me better. They did not seem as personable as the one that drives the car on TV, nor interested in saving me money on my insurance, and I didn’t care to share a bed with them to find out otherwise. I’m not afraid of such critters – I just prefer not to get walked on in my sleep by tiny little feet. Call it a personal policy. I looked at least a few times to be certain none were lying in wait for me in the curtains or at the door frame or in the covers… you name it. In the midst of my lizard paranoia, I somehow ended up crashing on the sleeper sofa with my dd while DH hogged the queen bed with our eldest son. Our middle son had already mooched a spot in the sleeper bed next door with our elder nephew and both were fast asleep.

Incidentally, I found the sleeper sofa at BCV to be not wholly uncomfortable – there was no Seinfeldian cursing of the bar, at least! Wish same could be said of my daughter’s feet. (Recall that I don’t care to be walked on?) Well that girl is a carnival contortionist… she moves in a bed like hands on a clock. Every hour I awoke to find her in a new rotation, often of which involved placement of her appendages across my midsection, chest or yes, face. Nonetheless, knowing we had a wonderful long stay ahead of us, we all slept happily, glad to be in Disney together at last!


COMING NEXT: The Second Day of Disney (click here)
More people, more details, and one day closer to Charley….

Last edited by gopherit; 04-18-2005 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 08-27-2004, 02:26 AM   #2
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Excellent!! I truly loved it...your humor and your descriptions...great job!! More, please!!

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Old 08-27-2004, 03:44 AM   #3
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Great report ~ Thanx for sharing.
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Old 08-27-2004, 08:01 AM   #4
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Great report so far! You are a very funny writer -- keep 'em coming!
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Old 08-27-2004, 01:00 PM   #5
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great report, very humorous!
please be sure to continue!!!!
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Old 08-27-2004, 07:43 PM   #6
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i'm loving your trip report. can't wait for more.
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:31 PM   #7
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Wow, gopherit! I didn't know you were such a great and hilarious writer. I remember you getting seperated from your jewelry that time, that just bites. Please do write some more, I believe we're all enjoying it so far!
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:49 PM   #8
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This is hysterical - keep them coming! Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Masonpips
This is hysterical - keep them coming! Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:56 PM   #10
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Can't wait to hear more! The part where you described your kids' personalities cracked me up because there are 3 kids in my family too and we all have the same personality types as your kids do dependent on order in line.

I am the oldest girl- very much a deep thinker and comfort seeker
My middle sister- very much a thrill seeker and somewhat of a rebel without a cause
My youngest sister- DEFINITELY the drama queen of the family
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Old 08-31-2004, 03:53 PM   #11
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What a great start, you have had me chuckling away to myself all the way through. Looking forward to reading the next one
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Old 08-31-2004, 10:39 PM   #12
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Woohoo! I whole new trip report for me to read. I love when that happens. I'm really enjoying this- thanks for writing it!
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Old 09-01-2004, 04:32 AM   #13
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Thank you for posting your report. It is awesome. Off to read day 2
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Old 09-01-2004, 10:50 AM   #14
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Wonderful report!! I really like your style! I think all 4 year olds sleep that way. I remember waking up on a trip home from college with my neices long hair in my mouth while she was laying across my chest. And both my kids did the same thing when they were that age.

Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip.
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Old 09-15-2004, 02:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by jennymouse
Please do write some more, I believe we're all enjoying it so far!


And Jennymouse, your picture in your signature is just adorable! Wow what a cutie!
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