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Old 12-20-2007, 07:48 AM   #1
Crystal_27
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Land/Sea Trip Report - I *Promise* to Inform and *Hope* to Entertain!

Okay, fellow DIS-ers, here is my attempt to enlighten (and perhaps entertain?) you with my Trip Report from our recent December Land/Sea trip.

After I first booked our package (3 days at Disney World; 4 days on Disney Cruise Line), I searched for other TRs from those who booked Land/Sea packages, but I never did stumble upon one (although I’m quite sure that there have been plenty over the years). Anyway, I’m hopeful that this TR will help someone who’s “on the fence” about whether or not to book this type of package. At the outset, I thought that bundling the entire trip into one neat package made a lot of sense and was pretty economical (or at least “economical” from a Disney pricing standpoint). It also seemed that we were really getting 2 awesome vacation experiences for the price of 1 – Disney World *and* a Disney cruise.

I do have a ton of pictures which I’m going to share in this TR, but for this first introductory portion, I will just stick to the facts about my sweet family and will give you a little history about why we decided to do Disney this December.

My travel party consisted of myself (age 28), my husband (age 32) and our daughter (age 3). Pictures of my DD are in my signature, and my husband and I lovingly refer to her as “The Big.” I don’t know how or why that nickname started, but since she’s The Big to me, she’ll be The Big to anyone reading this TR. The Big embodies many of the stereotypes of an “only child” although we do our best to not spoil her senseless. During this trip, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (for those of you who are mathematically savvy - - YES, that means I got married when I was 18). I know with this next statement I’m going to lose some DIS street-cred, but I’m going to spill the beans anyway. Previous to this trip, it had been 9 years since we visited Disney. Nine whole years (!!!!!), and I can’t even begin to tell you guys why we lapsed. I love Disney; I drink the Kool-Aid; I “get” Disney magic; and I wear Disney rose-colored glasses most of the time in real life. However, despite my love for all things Disney, our last trip was in December of 1998 during which we celebrated our 1st anniversary. When I realized that DH and I were going to indeed “make it” to the big 10th Anniversary, I insisted that Disney was where we were going to go to celebrate. What I remember from our 1998 trip was only that we were on a very strict budget (ummm, meaning we took about $200 for spending money for the entire 3 days we were there - - and that we actually took money HOME with us ) and also that the weather and crowd levels were fantastic. Since we were booking a Disney *package* for this trip, I really had BIG expectations.

Anyway, back to the introductions…I work as a litigation legal secretary for a large law firm in Atlanta and DH owns his own small business (he is a low voltage contractor). Now, another great reason about this “dream” trip was that, previous to this year (more about that later), DH has pretty much been able to take off the entire month of December due to the fact that here in Atlanta the commercial construction business lightens up tremendously for the holidays. In previous years, slow Decembers for DH meant various “honey-do” tasks for him assigned by me, and, Lord knows, DH was looking for a vacation from my nagging this year.

Okay, okay, I’m done with the introductions - - now I’ll get onto our trip planning.

I happened to find The DIS right before we booked our Land/Sea package. After spending a few days perusing the boards, I read a lot of positive feedback about the travel agency Dreams Unlimited Travel, so I decided to request a quote to see if they could get our trip any cheaper (hey, just because it was a “dream vacation” didn’t mean that I was immune to saving a few hundred). Our quote from Dreams was exactly the same price as that listed on the Disney Cruise website, but Dreams Unlimited offered a $100.00 shipboard credit, so we opted to go with them. As a side note, I know that some people love travel agents and some people hate them, but we had a good experience with Dreams. Our agent (Barb) was very responsive and made all of our ADRs and other schedulings, and she was always very helpful and informational.

Just in case you don’t know, when you book a Land/Sea package, your resort options are tied with your cruise stateroom. Therefore, because we booked a Category 5 (verandah) stateroom, we got to choose from the Disney “Deluxe” resorts (with the notable exception of the Grand Floridian ). Having never stayed on-site before, choosing the resort was really a difficult decision for me. Honestly, my first inclination was the Beach Club (because of the pool), but I went back and forth between the BC and the Poly before finally settling on the Poly. I think that I opted for the Poly simply because I read that there seemed to be more “mousekeeping” problems at the BC than there were at the Poly. (ACK - do you guys believe that the convenience of the monorail never even entered my mind?!? ) (By the way, in this TR, you’ll note the absence of any decisions actually made by my DH – he let me know early in the process that if I was happy, he was happy. I personally think that his lack of decision-making was simply so I couldn’t come back and blame him for something later on but….) Anyway, we booked our vacation which finally made it feel like a reality. WE WERE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

This is probably a good spot to end this introductory portion of my TR here. As you can see, I’m very prone to being wordy (comes with the profession, probably ). Anyway, I hope you all have found this to be a good start. Pictures will follow in the next installment – I promise!!
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Me (34); DD (9)
December, 2007 Land/Sea Trip Report
9 Days of Disney Dining (Food Report)
March, 2009 Trip Report
September, 2009 Eastern Cruise Trip Report

Next trips: Aulani in September, 2014 and Thanksgiving, 2014 on the Magic (YAY).
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Old 12-20-2007, 09:29 AM   #2
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Great start Crystal! Looking forward to reading more
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Old 12-20-2007, 11:34 AM   #3
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Great Start! My first cruise was a land and sea package (3/4 night) in 2000. I loved the "package" idea (not knowing that I could probably save money booking them separately). I liked the idea of having my suitcases whisked away and not seeing them until they showed up in our room (at that time they did not have Magical Express), then not seeing them again until they showed up in our stateroom. We stayed in a CAT11 so our choice was the Dixie Landings (now known as Port Orleans Riverside). I think your choice of the POLY was an excellent choice even if you didn't remember about the monorail. Having a young child and more than likely spending a lot of time at the Magic Kingdom works well when you can hop on a monorail and back to your room for those little naps.

Can't wait to hear the rest!!!
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Old 12-20-2007, 03:38 PM   #4
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I'm signing on and am looking forward to more!

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Old 12-20-2007, 05:36 PM   #5
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Can't wait to hear about your trip!
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Old 12-21-2007, 04:08 AM   #6
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Cute start. Funny, but I have a child who has autism and hates to sleep in his own room - he sneaks into his brother's room or our room to camp out on our floors whenever he thinks he can get away with it. We've gotten away from hotel rooms and stay in condos (because the boys have gotten big) which he isn't crazy about because he prefers to sleep with "The Big Ones" as he calls us.

I told him, don't worry, if we go on that Disney cruise, you'll definitely get to stay with the Big Ones.
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Old 12-21-2007, 06:18 AM   #7
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Awwww, thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm working on my second installment now and it will be up soon. In the meantime, hope everyone is having a great Friday!
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December, 2007 Land/Sea Trip Report
9 Days of Disney Dining (Food Report)
March, 2009 Trip Report
September, 2009 Eastern Cruise Trip Report

Next trips: Aulani in September, 2014 and Thanksgiving, 2014 on the Magic (YAY).
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Old 12-24-2007, 09:55 AM   #8
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Part II - Gearing Up

So, our trip was booked and we were gearing up for the big vacation. Now, I’m going to tell you savvy DIS-ers something that you may not know - - to a newbie, the 180-day ADR window is a scary concept. Being the compulsive person that I am, when our ADR window was about to open, I prepped DH on our choices with not only my stack of menus (care of Allears) but also with my newfound knowledge of the DIS Restaurant Review Board. I was expecting DH to praise my restaurant itinerary, which included table service meals for breakfast (or lunch) and dinner every night. It was at this point, however, that DH decided to interject his very first suggestion about our trip. He suggested that instead of planning our trip around our meals, that we should instead plan one table service meal per day and just “wing it” the rest of the day. Now, most days I appreciate that my DH is a wonderful “yang” to my stressed-out, worked up, and anal “ying,” but I was really NOT happy that DH just torn to shreds our (my) dining plans. I mean, c’mon people, I am a DIS-er - - I compulsively read the boards; I *trust* your input; and, for Heaven’s sake, I prepared an Excel spreadsheet for our itinerary. Anyway, after pouting for a few minutes, I decided that perhaps there was some validity in DH’s suggestion, and I compromised (although I admit that my wildly dramatic disposal of the menu and spreadsheet probably was a bit childish). So, we were set for dinner at O’Hanas on 12/6; breakfast at Cindy’s Royal Table on 12/7; breakfast at Crystal Palace on 12/8; and breakfast at Kona’s on 12/9. We also booked Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for The Big on 12/7. As a side note, one thing that endeared our Dreams Unlimited TA to me was that our ADR window fell on a Saturday. I much appreciated that our TA was up at 6:00 a.m. in preparation of booking our ADRs so I could sleep in (ummmm, that is, “sleeping in” in my world – which usually means until our sweet Big comes bounding in at, oh, 6:30 a.m.).

Now, as if the whole ADR process wasn’t stressful enough, now we come to the “Sea” portion of our package which allows newbie cruisers to book 75 days out. Since I was DIS-savvy, I knew that Palo was a must do (I wanted Palo for dinner on our actual anniversary – 12/12), but I also knew that Palo was a VERY hot ticket, especially since concierge guests and Castaway Club members get first crack at everything. I therefore knew that getting up at midnight to reserve our cruise plans was mandatory. One of the things that surprised me about Dreams Unlimited was that they didn’t offer to book anything related to the cruise. That was fine with me (because I knew that insisting that my TA get up at midnight to book Palo might make her a bit hostile) but I kept expecting some sort of request in that regard. So, I guess a word of caution would be to make sure if you are using Dreams (or perhaps any TA?) that you plan to make your own cruise plans - - better safe than sorry, right? Anyway, getting up and midnight and booking Palo and an exotic rasual (more about that later) went off without a hitch. Now, the only thing I had to do was shop, which essentially consisted of princesses dresses for The Big, a pirate costume for The Big, and, oh, a swimsuit and shorts and sundresses for The Big since, in a moment of mindlessness, I gave all of her “warm weather” stuff to Goodwill in October. D’oh!

Okay, so things are just rocking along perfectly and we are getting more and more excited as the weeks progress (except perhaps The Big who has become a bit lukewarm to this “Disney thing” that I’ve been going on about for 9 months now). I’m actually at peace (for once in my life) because in a few weeks we’ll be embarking on our wonderful journey which during which we will be immersed in Disney magic for 8 whole days! Then, the other shoe drops.

As I said in my introduction, DH owns his own small business which consists of himself and his partner. They have been doing this for 7 years now, and December has always been a light month for them (and for the construction business in general). I mean, my DH typically doesn’t work for the entire month of December!! Well, imagine my horror when DH tells me that he’s got 2 fairly large projects that need to be finished by December 5th (the day that we are supposed to leave for Orlando). For the month of November, my DH starts working longer and longer hours, until finally, after Thanksgiving, he becomes this machine who is working from 6:00 a.m. until at least midnight every night. Oh, and in typical guy fashion, not eating for the entire day, which really ticks me off. So, my poor DH is dealing with a ton of work stress, coupled with a toddler who misses him terribly and who cries for him when they talk on the phone; coupled with me who has become a weepy basketcase at the prospect that our “dream” trip (which is nonrefundable at this point) is going to be cancelled. I really was a wreck. My husband is my very best friend in the world and I suffer when I’m not with him. He really makes me a better person and I love him dearly. I think that one of the best things about a vacation is sharing the planning with those traveling with you, and I resented the fact that I was missing out on that. So, the days leading up to our actual vacation, which should have been filled with joyful anticipation, were instead filled with angst and bitterness and fret and tears. Fortunately, as typically happens, things did work out and, although DH didn’t make it home until 1:00 a.m. on the day we were to leave, we actually did get to leave on December 5th.

Um, yikes! This installment is already boarding on a novella. Sorry guys!! I know I promised you some pictures, so I’ll share one (though out of order) to get you in the Christmas spirit. I will make it up to you all in the next installment - - I promise!

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December, 2007 Land/Sea Trip Report
9 Days of Disney Dining (Food Report)
March, 2009 Trip Report
September, 2009 Eastern Cruise Trip Report

Next trips: Aulani in September, 2014 and Thanksgiving, 2014 on the Magic (YAY).

Last edited by Crystal_27; 06-05-2008 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 12-26-2007, 11:53 PM   #9
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More Please!! I'm loving what you've written so far. Keep it comin'.
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Old 12-27-2007, 07:39 AM   #10
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ME DH (15) (13) (10) (twins 5)


lots of trips as a kid ...
Feb 20-22 2005 Asmov (left little one behind)
June 8-16 2008~POR (first whole family trip)
Sep 18-20 2009~POP~ mommy and DD6 bday trip
June 6-8 2010~POR~ GAD trip with Ds,YDd ,sister and nephew
May 2014 for the twins first trip.. first offsite WBC
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Old 12-27-2007, 09:40 AM   #11
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I've been informed and entertained so far! Lovely photo of the castle.
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Old 12-30-2007, 01:29 PM   #12
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Part III - Our First Night

The drive to Orlando was pretty uneventful. We got up at 6:00 a.m. that morning (which is typical for us) and had planned to be out of the house by 8:00 a.m., which means we finally left the house at 10:45 a.m., laden with way too many suitcases and resigned that our next 7 hours were going to be spent in the car.

Our Land/Sea package didn’t allow us to check into the Poly until Thursday (12/6), but our “master plan” was to drive down on Wednesday so that we could maximize our 3 days in the parks. We managed to “score” a room at the Howard Johnson (for $29.99 with my AAA rate – ) about 3 miles from the WDW Entrance. The HoJo was actually not the dive I was expecting - - we got a King-sized bed and the room was actually clean and quiet.

Now, in the 9 years since we had visited Disney World, I had evidently forgotten how sprawled out the Disney enterprise is. The maps make the parks and resorts seem so quaint and close to each other when in reality they are separated by different interstate exits. So in our quest to find the HoJo, we passed the exits for MGM, Epcot and Downtown Disney, and Disney seemed so close yet so far away. Since I was still in a bit of a funk about the stress surrounding our departure (and, oh, since DH’s cell phone rang every 20 minutes on our drive down), I really wasn’t feeling in a Disney state of mind. When the question of dinner arose, I got a bit snippy at DH. I told him that there was a Waffle House on the left and an IHOP on the right and that we might as well disregard the notion that we’re on vacation and eat there. Are we having fun?!? Well, affected not by my sarcasm but in an effort to make me happy, DH made a suggestion (are you keeping track, guys; this marks the second time) and it was a doozie. He suggested that we go to Downtown Disney and find something to eat there. Now, DTD was not on our (my) itinerary for this trip, but I certainly was not going to pass up the opportunity to eat at the DIS-endorsed Earl of Sandwich! I also knew that there was a store at DTD wherein you could present your Disney Visa and save 10% off your purchase, so I thought that DH’s suggestion really was wonderful on all counts. So, despite the fact that we had JUST gotten out of the car, we piled ourselves back in, in search of some Disney magic.

We managed to navigate ourselves to DTD with no problems at all. By this time, we were all ready to stretch our legs a bit and do some walking (in our DIS-endorsed Crocs, which I were convinced (nay, determined) would prevent any blisters, soreness, or other foot issues).

DTD wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I was expecting some sort of rowdy, night-club experience, and instead was greeted with a laid-back, beautifully decorated, family-friendly atmosphere. So, we took off toward Earl of Sandwich. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until we came to the end of the boardwalk (or whatever it’s called) that we realized we should have headed in the other direction.



So, we turn on our heels and head the other way. We know we are heading the right way when we encounter Lego Land. DH (probably like all other guys - - maybe it’s genetic?) is absolutely fascinated with Legos. Literally, when he sees any type of cool Lego display, he goes “wide-eyed-wonder” on me. The Big was apparently just as wowed, which actually allowed me to quickly snap this shot:



I’m probably dogging DH a bit, but I’m certainly not immune to how very cool the Lego “creations” are, and, of course, Disney adds its own flava’ making them even cooler. Well, I finally get DH and The Big away from Lego Land we headed next door to The World of Disney. This is the store that allows a 10% discount for any shoppers with a Disney Visa. Since we had done so much shopping prior to our trip, I thought we’d be done fairly quickly...eh, not so much. DH disappeared with The Big for a few minutes and I find him transfixed in a section of the store that I would have never expected (ready for this?) - - the pin trading section. Now, a word about pin trading, if I may…. As we were gearing up for the trip, I thought that it would be great to get The Big a few pins from Ebay to see if it was something she would be interested in. DH totally nixed that idea, stating that pin trading was just a money wasting pit. Whatever. Since we have a joint checking account, I’m required (at times) to respect his wishes when it comes to money, so dropped it. Weeellllll, DH was fingering pins and comparing lanyards like an old pro, and started telling me how special this type of keepsake would be for “The Big.” Heh – “The Big” - - -right; okay, honey. So, The Big (ummm, DH) got herself (himself) a great lanyard with some really cute pins. At least everything was 10% off, though, right?

I think at this point we were all ready to eat, so we headed out to find Earl of Sandwich. I was expecting a great sandwich and we all got just that (although DARN IT that place is chaotic). We ate on the patio and, as we were eating, 4 carolers came out and started caroling for the crowd, which was very sweet.

I think that we were all starting to feel a little Disney magic, so we just kind of browsed a bit more and enjoyed the sights.



As we were making our way back, The Big found a sidewalk that randomly shoots water out. I managed to get this picture:



Given that it was a bit chilly, we really didn’t want her getting wet, but also realizing that it’s her vacation too, we ended up just letting her play. We actually found that The Big employed some sort of bizarre sixth sense about knowing where the water was going to come from, and she bopped and weaved her way through that for a good 10 minutes - - until a shoot of water hit her squarely in the face. Then the fun really started, and, anyone who’s ever seen children play in this type of thing knows exactly what I’m talking about. It was just hysterical, and was a great way to end our trying day.
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December, 2007 Land/Sea Trip Report
9 Days of Disney Dining (Food Report)
March, 2009 Trip Report
September, 2009 Eastern Cruise Trip Report

Next trips: Aulani in September, 2014 and Thanksgiving, 2014 on the Magic (YAY).
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:09 PM   #13
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Part IV - We've Gone Wild!

We wanted to get to Animal Kingdom by rope drop (but we first had to check into the Poly to get our Keys To The World), so we were out of the HoJo like a flash. As DH was checking us out, though, I saw him fiddling with the gas cap. Now, I didn’t really think too much about it because I was trying to finish filling out the immigration documents for our cruise, but when he came back to the car I asked him what the deal was with the gas cap. He then proceeded to say a phrase which literally stopped my heart – “the check engine light just came on.” Oh.Dear.Lord! Definitely NOT the news I wanted to hear when I'm 450 miles from home. But, since we had stuff to do, we found our way to the Poly entrance and I tried not to imagine the car blowing up at any second.

Much to my surprise , we made it the 3 miles to the Polynesian and prepared ourselves to be wowed with this resort that comes so highly recommended from those on The DIS. I must say, the lobby of the Poly is as lush and beautiful as everyone says. Check in for the “land” portion took about 15 minutes and DH promptly joked – “hey, Crystal you’ve just been “’lei’ed” when we received our leis – that’s my man ! We didn’t officially have a room assigned, but our CM gave us a card and told us to keep calling until our room was ready. Next came the check in for our “sea” portion.

In case you all don’t know, one of the great perks (perhaps the greatest perk) about doing the Land/Sea package, is that you check in for your cruise at your resort, so you can bypass all the waiting around at the cruise terminal. I didn’t fully realize what a wonderful benefit that was until we actually arrived at the cruise terminal and surveyed the craziness, but, believe me, checking in at the resort is a fabulous perk!

So, now, we were finally on our way to Animal Kingdom. Now, at this point, the monorail was still a big unknown for us. I had planned on using the monorail only in case of dire emergency. I mean, we had our car, so I reasoned we didn’t really need that monorail “thing.”

Because I was navigating, we didn’t quite make Animal Kingdom at rope drop (shhhhh – I got us lost), but we came pretty close.




Since I am a DIS-er, I knew that our plan of attack was to grab a FastPass for the Safari and hit Kali as soon after that as possible. The Safari was fabulous and I welcome you to enjoy a few snaps:





After the Safari, we headed over to Kali. I came prepared with ponchos for all of us because I knew that there was a high likelihood that we were going to get wet. Well, DH scoffed the entire notion of the poncho, so I warned him that he was inviting the karma gods to get him soaked. He assured me he would take his changes with the “gods.” The Big had hit the magical 40 inch mark before we left, so I knew that we would get to ride the majority of the "fun stuff."

The Big loves anything water-related, so I thought that she would LOVE Kali (especially since *I* was uber-prepared with the ponchos). She was fine...until she got splashed a bit - then the tears started. I think that The Big was more surprised than anything at the water, but she assured us that she wouldn't be riding that one again. Also, apparently the karma gods were in an ironic mood because I (you know, the girl who planned ahead with the poncho) got drenched. I mean SOAKED! And you can bet that my (annoyingly dry) DH made sure that I knew he was royally amused.

At this point, we made our first call to the Poly to inquire about our room. One thing that I neglected to mention earlier was that I had booked a family photo shoot at the Grand Floridian at 3:00 p.m. I bought (and convinced DH to wear) matching Christmas outfits, so you KNOW that I was expecting some beautiful pictures. Do you all see the flaw in my plan yet? That’s right - - check in isn’t until 3:00 p.m. So, technically our room wasn’t supposed to be ready until the exact time of our photoshoot. However, I trusted that Disney magic would prevail and that our room would be ready, so we bummed around Animal Kingdom, calling about every 45 minutes to check on our room. The Big enjoyed Animal Kingdom, but was traumatized when we took her to It’s Tough To Be A Bug. Heck, it was a bit traumatizing to me. Since I frequent the DIS, I knew the risks going in, but The Big loves bugs so I thought she would be one of the 10% of toddlers that loved the show. Ummmm, not so much. We heard a LOT about how much the "Mean Grasshopper" ride scared our sweet Big.
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December, 2007 Land/Sea Trip Report
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Next trips: Aulani in September, 2014 and Thanksgiving, 2014 on the Magic (YAY).
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:11 PM   #14
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Wonderful TR so far...thanks for sharing!!
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Old 01-08-2008, 08:24 PM   #15
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Can't wait to read more!! Great so far!! (I hope on one of your calls to the Poly that you mentioned you had a photo shoot. We had a tea reservation and needed to get in our room one time at Beach Club...and after mentioning that they made sure we got in the room....with just a little time to spare)
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