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Old 10-20-2008, 12:07 PM   #1
SnackyStacky
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Snackystacky's Grand Gathering Experience (LOTS of pictures!!)


I was looking at MousePlanet's Trip Report forum and I liked their format. So I'm going to borrow it! 

Travel dates: September 21 - 29, 2008

Travel method: JetBlue (woo hoo for free DirecTV!) and National's Emerald Aisle Rental Cars

Resort:
September 21 - 24: Portofino Bay
September 24 - 29: Polynesian

Accommodations:
Portofino Bay: Club Level
Polynesian: Garden View

Ages Represented in Group: 2 years - 61 years

Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group:
Everything from complete newbie to veteran!

Comments: In a Disney trip report forums, comparisons to a National Lampoon's Vacation Movie are inevitable. Now I know why. The ground rules have been laid out. My wife and daughter and I have an itinerary. It's been passed out to all other traveling parties. Join us if you wish - or make your own arrangements. It's really okay! We won't be offended if you don't want to spend every waking moment with us! But I have a feeling we're still in for a LOT of hurt feelings and petty arguments. Eh. I'd rather have hurt feelings and petty arguments in Disney World than on the home front!

Cast of characters:

This is long. You may want to take notes.

Me (Dan): Representing the obsessed of the obsessed. In a different way than most DISers are, though. We have our ADRs booked and a rough idea of where we'll be going, but I tend to find that we've been there so much and know that we're going back that don't really feel the need to worry about where we'll be and when. So then how am I obsessed? I'm obsessed in the way that men statistically think about sex every 4 seconds. That's how often I'm thinking about Disney.

Wife: I've NEVER liked that "D" when abbreviating relationships. Darling, Disney, Dear - it all just sounds too cutesy for me. Besides - Wife really only has two more letters than "DW" anyway. That's beside the point! Wife has been to Disney as many times as me, if not a few more. She's a go with the flow kind of gal when making a plan. But she does not take to it well when the plan has to change. She's somewhat over vacationing in central Florida - she goes to humor me.

Daughter: A very mature 2. Is it wrong to try and stall potty training so that potty breaks aren't required as often? Yeah - I'll sacrifice dealing with a brown baby trout for not having to hit the toilet every 5 minutes. She too is pretty go-with-the-flow. Quirks include: crying to see a character because she wants to kiss the character. Then screaming like a lunatic and climbing me like Mt. Kilimanjaro to get away from said character. She gets MANIC when she's tired; not cranky or obnoxious. Just running-around-in-circles-suffering-from-verbal-diarrhea kind of manic. A-stinkin'-dorable, if I do say so myself.


Last edited by SnackyStacky; 10-20-2008 at 01:12 PM. Reason: added picture note to the title
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:10 PM   #2
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Continuing with the pre-trip stuff...


Sister: Last trip to Disney in 2002. She enjoys it very much, but doesn't feel the need to return every year. She's a thinker and very practical. She also knows how to have a good time. A foodie; born and bred! I'm thinking the Epcot Food and Wine Festival will be one of her favorite portions of the trip.

Brother-in-law: Repeatedly finds the mouse's hand in his wallet and does NOT appreciate it. However, he is a ride fiend and finds the Tower of Terror to be top notch! Previously visited in 2002.

Nephew the elder: 4 years old and, as I like to call him, a total gasbag! This kid is destined to be a politician. He can talk when there's nothing/nobody to talk about/to! He's extremely sensitive. And doesn't deal well with transition. It's tough to take him to the park because he screams and cries when it's time to go home. And I'm not talking about a theme park. I'm talking about the neighborhood park! But then who doesn't have flaws? He's a great kid who I love! AND - he's never been to Walt Disney World. I can't WAIT to see the look on his face.

Nephew the younger: 2 years old. An interesting case study in dish-it-out-but-can't-take-it syndrome. He bullies daughter for a toy - but he pitches a fit if she takes it back. A VERY happy little boy who constantly has a party in his head. He's also a very sweet little boy, and he's cute too!

Ma: My mother. Last was at Walt Disney World in 1986. Even though she's NEVER going to read this, I'm having a very hard time writing any negative qualities. That either makes me afraid, or a good son. We'll go with the latter.

Dad: My dad. King of the family - and boy does he know it! For all 3 of his grandchildren, he's the only grandpa! Both wife and brother-in-law come from single-mother, only-child households. Like sister, also a foodie. Like Ma, last trip to Disney World was in 1986. Like Ma - having a tough time writing any negative qualities!

Mother-in-law: Wife's mother. I lucked RIGHT the heck out in the in-law department. My mother-in-law is loving and supportive when she needs to be, and she doesn't get into any business that she feels she shouldn't be in. And she has a keen sense of judgement about her. (Wife probably disagrees - but that's the essence of the mother/daughter relationship)

BFF: This is one acronym that I feel comfortable using because the very essence of it makes me giggle. "Best Friend Forever", for those not in the know. Not a blood relation, but as close to a sister as wife will get. BFF and wife met in law school which explains their bond, which I believe is stronger than super glue. Like a sister, BFF has a tendency to drive wife (and me!) crazy. And I'm sure it's reciprocal.

Current Plan:

Wife, daughter, BFF and I will all arrive in Orlando on the 21st. BFF will arrive in the late afternoon. Wife, daughter and I will arrive late in the evening. The only truly firm plan right now is a reservation for wife at Mandara Spa at 2pm on the 23rd. That was a mother's day gift from me. :-D Other than that, we will use our Universal Express Access for both dining and rides and just have a blast going with the flow for 3 nights.

September 24: Sister and her family, Dad and Ma will check in today. The plan for the morning is for me, wife, daughter and BFF to check in. We will then most likely head to Animal Kingdom (BFF has yet to ride Everest), or Hollywood Studios. (BFF has an illicit love affair with the Tower of Terror). Afternoon nap at the Polynesian while we wait for everyone else. Evening at Epcot with a 5:00 dinner reservation at Marrakesh. Most likely, we'll eat and run. It will have been a long day for nephews so we'll probably go back and enjoy the pool at the Polynesian.

September 25:
Breakfast at Boma at 8:30, followed by a morning at the Animal Kingdom. An afternoon nap and the Magic Kingdom for Spectromagic and Wishes. Dinner plan is counter service. Mother-in-law will be arriving today as well!

September 26:
Happy birthday daughter! She'll be celebrating the big 2 with the ladies at Princess Storybook Dining, followed by a morning at Epcot. Afternoon nap, and then me, wife, daughter, sister and her family and BFF will head to the Magic Kingdom for the Halloween Party. Dad, Ma, and mother-in-law will head to the California Grill for dinner.

September 27:
Photo session with a photopass photographer at some point. Not sure when!
Magic Kingdom in the morning, followed by an afternoon break and an evening at Epcot. Dinner at Spoodles.

September 28:
Hollywood Studios today. Dinner reservations at Jiko for the adults. Nephews and daughter have a date with a sitter from Kids Nite Out. 

Since the trip report also includes the pre-trip report, I’ll also share with you my anal, type-A organization of everyone’s “stuff” before the trip:








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Old 10-20-2008, 12:12 PM   #3
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He was a sloth
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Originally Posted by SnackyStacky View Post


Daughter: A-stinkin'-dorable, if I do say so myself.
You're right about that. Ava's one of the cutest babies I've ever seen!
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:12 PM   #4
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On to Day 1!!!



Day 1: Arrival

Isn’t it funny how time ticks slowly away until about the week before vacation? Actually – time moves slowly until that “Aha!” moment, when you realize you have prep work coming out your wazoo for the vacation that you don’t have time to do.

I’m all too familiar with that theory. And I was bound and determined to NOT let that happen to me. I began cleaning the house tip top to tip bottom about 2 weeks before the trip. As I cleaned, I made sure I was keeping up with the laundry so that wouldn’t stack up. I work 2 jobs – and I made sure that EVERYTHING was ready at each job.

Would anyone care to fathom a guess what I forgot to do? Oh heck – I’m never good at writing out the waiting game anyway, so I’ll tell you. I forgot to pack. After I got out of work at about 3pm the day before departure, I began to pack. We’d been to Target and had purchased all the little stuff – the laundry had been done – everything was ready. And yet it still took me until 11 pm that night to pack. Part of the reason was because I had to go to my parent’s house to get Wife’s bathing suit. We have no pool – however my parents do. So they keep our swim gear over there. I had remembered to bring mine home as well as Daughter’s. So that took about an hour.

So anyway – Sunday morning comes and I’m up at my usual 5:45 am to go to work. I’m a church musician, and I had to play the 3 Sunday morning masses, beginning with the 7 am mass. After the 11am, I RAN home to get out of my stupid, itchy church clothes and into comfy travel clothes. We left for the airport at 1pm, schlepping the array of toddler “stuff” – you know – the portable DVD player with Sesame Street, Super Why!, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Backyardigans and the Doodlebops. Quite frankly, I don’t understand WHY kids are drawn to the Doodlebops. They creep the hell outta me! But I digress – in addition to the DVD player and DVDs, we had the toys, the diapers, the wipes, the change of clothes, the car seat, the stroller – I will REALLY look forward to the day when Daughter can pack her OWN carry on, and CARRY it!

We did get some shots at the airport.







I don’t know HOW some DISers take pictures of their kids on the plane! That camera was put away – and I didn’t have a chance to dig it back out of my bag until we got to the hotel!!!!!

Anyway, we arrived at Orlando International at about 8:30. We got a luggage cart, all 4 pieces of luggage plus our 2 carry on bags, the stroller, the cart and a partridge in a pear tree – and we went out to the National section of the garage. We had originally booked on the Emerald Aisle – but after we had a fifth passenger added – we wanted to be sure we had a bigger car, so we upgraded to a midsize SUV.

We encountered our first spat. As we passed the Emerald Aisle – it was STOCKED with mini vans. We walked by and went to the midsize SUV section and found a row of RAV4. That’s what we drive at home and it’s not suitable for 4 people and a car seat. When we reserved, it said a Chevy Equinox or similar – and I wasn’t sure that it would be big enough. Wife disagreed. She said it would be big enough.

Well, we saw those RAV4s, and wife immediately said that it wasn’t a midsize SUV, it was a compact SUV and she wanted a minivan. I told her that we had moved off the Emerald Aisle and up to a midsize SUV – but the minivan was more and I didn’t know if we’d be able to switch. She asked me to run to the little counter in the garage and ask if we could switch.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

So I run back to the counter – and fortunately, it’s okay. But now, I have to run back down to the SUVs, get wife, daughter, and the luggage and schlep it all back to the Emerald Aisle – which is near the little counter in the garage.

This woman is lucky I love her!

So I strap in the car seat, strap in daughter, and dig out the GPS and we’re off to the Portofino Bay. BFF had arrived earlier – and they had allowed her to check in and have access to the room! Which I was glad of so she had someplace to relax – but at the same time, a hotel room is kind of like a magazine. DON’T TOUCH IT UNTIL I’VE LOOKED AT IT FIRST!

That notwithstanding – it was by now after 10pm. We were STARVED, and exhausted. After a VERY ill-advised call to room service, we had dinner. But now I know why people pay the premium. It came up on a cart with a heater!!!! We had a hot meal at 11pm in our room, served by a wonderful butler.

Before I can go any further – I HAVE to comment on the staff at the Portofino Bay. We encountered not a single bad employee. Usually you’ll run into that one person who’s having a bad day and you know it. NOTHING of the sort at the Portofino Bay. I had stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel last year, and I had the same experience. That’s why I couldn’t wait for wife and BFF to experience a Loews hotel. When we checked in, Daughter got a cute MagnaDoodle with a Loews logo on it. There were no bellman available, so an employee from another area of the hotel came immediately took us and our luggage up to our room, gave us a tour of the resort, as well as a tour of the room.

May I just say? I LOVE the Star Service button on the Loews hotel phones. No matter what you need or want – Star Service is your button!!! Whether you want in-room dining, theme park information, hotel information, reservations, housekeeping – Star Service has got your back.

But once again – I digress. We got a crib from Star Service, put on pajamas and fell asleep as SOON as our heads hit those pillows.

Some photos of our room and the resort:








The view out of our window.


The view out of one of the hallway windows as you walked to our room.

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Old 10-20-2008, 12:13 PM   #5
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You're right about that. Ava's one of the cutest babies I've ever seen!
Thanks!
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:19 PM   #6
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Day 2, part 1


You know what else I love about Universal? Not ONCE during our three days there did I have to set an alarm or wake up call. That lovely unlimited Universal Express with your resort stay eliminated the need to wake up at the crack of dawn and race to be first in line at the gates.

So we slept as long as daughter would let us. I got up, took a shower and made a cup of coffee. That’s another thing I love about the Universal hotels!!! The Keurig coffee maker.

But anyway – we got ourselves ready for the day.



We stopped at the club lounge on the way out to pick up some quick breakfast. A yummy yogurt parfait, fresh fruit, some cereal and toast, with some juice and water. Afterwards, we walked out to the dock and took the water taxi to City Walk.





First stop? Seuss Landing.



Now normally, we should have gone to If I Ran the Zoo – but Father of the Year here forgot to pack a swim diaper and bathing suit or change of clothes. So we passed it up for the Caro-Seuss-El. I wasn’t quite sure how to read her face – she was either having a REALLY great time – or dropped a load in her Pampers. When we were done, a quick diaper check revealed she was having a REALLY great time.

We crossed the way and hopped onto One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Daughter paid no attention to the song and just sort of had a fun time with the joystick. Daughter needed a diaper change. Her diaper got a bit water logged, so it was time for a change.



While I waited, I took some pictures of the Seuss Landing atmosphere.




Saw LOTS of this throughout both parks!!!!











Next it was time to try out The Cat in the Hat!!!



Now, I sat with BFF while Daughter sat with Wife. The ride was so loud I couldn’t hear what was going on between Wife and Daughter. But we got off the ride to a lot of hysterics. Daughter was upset too. The Cat in the Hat got two HUGE thumbs down.

After some comforting words, a beverage and a snack, it was time to move on. We proceeded through Seuss Landing and happened upon Thing 1 and Thing 2. Between the ride itself, and our previous experience with over-size, novelty animated characters on the Disney Cruise – we weren’t sure how well this would go over. At the sight of Pluto, daughter screamed so loud I’m surprised the hull didn’t crack and sink the ship. She tried to climb up and over me like Mount Kilimanjaro. Needless to say, the first few moments were tense – but it was a go! Daughter managed to give 5 to Thing 1 or Thing 2, and even a hug!!!!






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Old 10-20-2008, 12:23 PM   #7
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Day 1, part 2


Moving on, we took a spin on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train ride. Daughter thoroughly enjoyed herself!!! We continued walking around the park. On our trek, we stopped to take pictures of the Declaration from the Ministry of Magic…






..and moved ever forward through Jurassic Park…



…and Toon Lagoon and into Super Hero Island.





Wife and BFF went on Spider Man, while Daughter and I waited. We checked out the Spider Man shop, and relaxed with a snack of Cheez Its and Finding Nemo gummies.

Afterwards, BFF and I went on the Hulk. While we were riding, Wife took daughter across the way to meet Spider Man. Apparently, unbeknownst to either Wife or myself, Daughter can make the Spider Man hand gesture. She LOVED him!!!



After all those rides and Florida Sun, it was time to go back to the resort. We were pooped, and daughter desperately needed a nap. So on to the water taxi, and over to Sal’s we headed. We may as well have eaten sit down!!! The food was delicious – but it was expensive!!!

After lunch, Wife took Daughter back to the room so they could take a nap. BFF and I took a walk around the resort. We checked out all three of the pools, played Gulliver with the little lizards around the resort, and checked out the club lounge again. That stinkin’ lounge spoiled us ROTTEN. Now that we’re home, I look for the club lounge where complimentary bottles of soda are served along with hot hors d’oeuvres. Alas – I still have not found it.

We grabbed a bunch of water bottles to take back to the room. As we arrived, BFF got a call from a friend with whom she and wife went to law school. They had plans to meet, and we had plans to take Daughter down to the pool. Mother nature had alternate plans for us – as it began to pour!!! Daughter was NOT about to let the stinkin’ rain stop her from getting wet. After a tantrum (the likes of which John McEnroe has never seen), Wife took Daughter out and they played and splashed in the rain.





We had a reservation at the Hard Rock Café for dinner – so back up to the room we all trudged to get ready for dinner.

The rain just would NOT let up! There was NO good way to get to the Hard Rock Café without a long, soppy walk. But we (read: I) determined that we might be able to minimize the wet by driving to the parking garage, and enjoying the covered walkways most of the way. Right in front of the Loews’ Theaters, we each bought a poncho, threw the hood over Daughter in her stroller – and made a bee line for the Hard Rock. It’s positioned just so such that there’s no quick way to walk to it. I decided to head towards the Studios. They need to build a bridge over the MIDDLE of the lagoon!!!!!!!!!

After a mediocre dinner, we all geared ourselves up for the long, wet walk back to the car, threw on our ponchos and walked as quickly as we could to the shelter of Universal’s brilliant covered walkways.

Except for the poor saps that have to park on the top level – I LOVE that your car isn’t out in the blistering sun all day. It makes it MUCH more pleasant getting into your car. I don’t know if it’s the same situation at all the Loews hotels – but Portofino Bay had a multi level garage – so I was able to keep the car out of the sun, even at the resort!!! With an elevator that let out right at the front of the resort – with more covered walkways!!!!! No getting soaked getting to and from the car at the resort!!!!!

So after some goodbyes to Wife and BFF’s friend from law school, Wife got Daughter ready for bed while BFF and I ventured out in search of a Target - and to drop off law school friend at the theme parks parking garage. Law school friend opted for a $12 charge at the theme parks garage, and water taxi ride to the Portofino Bay instead of a $20 parking charge at the resort. So – rather than her having to wait in the rain for the water taxi, and walk soaking wet – we just swung back to the parking garage and dropped her off at her car, then making our way to a Super Target. I have never been in one before. It’s SO huge!!! I needed a treasure map to find the stinkin’ baby diapers and wipes. First, I tried near the paper products – but I couldn’t find the paper products!!! So I had to ask a team member. Come to find out – the diapers and wipes are on the grocery side of the store – near the pharmacy. :shrug:

So I’ve been talking a lot about what I love about Universal. Something I don’t like? The park hours in the off season!!! 6:00 pm closing is too early!!! Without an infant – that’s plenty of time to get EVERYTHING done – especially if you’re staying at a resort and have the Unlimited Universal Express. But with a toddler sleeping until 3, and not being ready to get out of the hotel by about 4 – it’s 4:30/5 ish by the time you actually GET to the theme parks. That leaves only an hour! So we were really limited to mornings in the theme parks only.

Anyway – what a day! To bed we went.
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:29 PM   #8
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Day 2, part 1


Another day that began without the blaring scream of an alarm clock; truly a luxury on a central Florida vacation!!! Although, instead we were awakened by the blaring yell of a toddler.

“MOMMY! PICK YOU UP!”

Oy. That’s Daughter’s way of saying pick ME up. So wife got up, got her out of the crib while I took a shower, did my hair and made a Keurig cup of coffee. While I was doing that, wife got daughter dressed. Then, while wife got dressed, I did daughter’s hair. Didn’t turn out too badly if I do say so myself!!!!!!



Once again, we headed out for the water taxi and made our way toward the Universal Studios entrance. All decked out for Halloween Horror Nights, it was truly a sight to see!





First order of business, get to something daughter could do!!! We headed immediately to the Woody Woodpecker kid zone – but the area was closed until 11:00!!!!!! Now, I’m the first one to admit that Universal Orlando is light on kid’s rides. But at Universal Studios? That area represents EVERYTHING that the height-challenged can do. So we were somewhat out of luck in terms of riding something together. So we decided to try out The Simpsons Ride until 11:00. BFF and I went through first. The Express Line was not open, so we ended up waiting about 20 minutes since only TWO cars were running. That’s right – when I finally got onto the ride, I looked up and around. There were TWO cars. Which meant 16 people per ride cycle. I don’t care how many people are – or in this case, aren’t – in the park, you need to have more than 16 people per ride cycle unless that capacity is your limit. (Think Dumbo……. But I think even Dumbo has a 32 person capacity per ride cycle!!!) I rode Back to the Future only twice. And both times, I came off VERY unhappy. Once I was pretty nauseous with a rotten headache – and the second time I just had a rotten headache. They improved on the Delorean a LOT. I didn’t get smacked around because they took out the “roof”, and because they toned down the movement by a lot. So it was better than Back to the Future – but I certainly wasn’t blown away.

Wife wanted her turn, so I sat with daughter and waited. We took a little walk and looked in the Kwik-E-Mart gift shop, and strolled down to the area where you can watch the night time show.

Before pictures – I just want to say that this is one more thing that I’m not in love with about Universal. I understand if there’s not enough crowds to warrant a night time show (or if you don’t keep your park open in the dark to SEE a night time show…) – but for god’s sake – move the alien-like bubbles that block up an otherwise beautiful photo!!!!!!!!

I digress. Photos while waiting for wife and BFF to finish with The Simpsons. I apologize for the awkward red overtones. I don’t know WHAT setting my camera was on – but all the photos from that day, and a few others over the course of the week came out this way.














Wife, and, after two rides, BFF agreed with my sentiments on The Simpsons. It was a’ight, but nothing spectacular.

By this time, it was after 11 so we made our way back to the Kid Zone, which was finally open. First order of business was E.T. As we stood in the preshow, I should have taken the hint that daughter was giving. She wasn’t out and out screaming or protesting, but she was a bit uncomfortable. But we pressed on and eventually got onto the bikes. She started crying a bit, but by that time, the bars were in place and we were moving. She was NOT pleased. She threw a fit on the ride. Fortunately, though, the ride was so loud that nobody was bothered by her fit. Being as loud as it was, I figured maybe that was part of the problem for her. So I covered her ears, and she did relax. She still was not happy to be on the ride, but the hysterical crying stopped.

After earning my second nomination for Father of the Year, we picked up a little plush E.T. which seemed to make up for the terror that was the E.T. ride. We had a diaper change and then headed out towards the Curious George playground. She absolutely LOVED it!!! We took her dress off and just let run amuck in the water. The huge dumping buckets of water made her extremely happy!! There were also a bunch of Asian folks who had seen the bucket of water dump and came by waiting, very impatiently, for it to dump again. I have never seen anyone as happy as those people were when that bucket dumped and soaked them to the bone. I think what puzzled me the most is that they were in their regular clothes. Not bathing suits – not skimpy clothes that would dry in no time – but rather jeans and t-shirts! The t-shirts, no problem. But walking around in 90 degree, humid weather in wet jeans is not my idea of a good time. The chaffing is KILLER! But, different strokes!

After daughter had had her fill of the wet play area, we had another diaper change, a corn dog and a churro – and made our way over to the New York section of the park. No visit to Universal Studios is complete without a ride on the Mummy. There was a bit of miscommunication. I thought wife was going to take daughter back to the hotel and we’d meet her there. But no – she actually waited. And BFF decided to stay with daughter so wife could ride. You know what that means? I GOT TO RIDE IT TWICE!!!! WOO HOO!!!!

By now, daughter was deliriously tired. We needed a bed – and fast. So we went back to the hotel. On the way though, we met a familiar face that daughter just couldn’t pass up!!!! Why, I don’t know. I’ve never seen a creepier character. But there she was – Dora!




We finally made it to the exit and the Water Taxi. Daughter NEVER sleeps in her stroller, or in the car – except in extreme circumstances. Check out what happened on the water taxi.



For mother’s day, I gave wife a card that said she had a spa treatment during our Florida vacation. Today was the day. I got her a deep tissue massage and a manicure. So after a relaxing hour or so watching Scrubs and just relaxing, wife made her way down to the Mandara Spa. BFF went with her and used the exercise facilities. I watched more Scrubs while daughter slept.

When she finally woke up, I suited myself and daughter up for the pool. It needs to be said that I was pretty careful about making sure daughter had on adequate sun protection each day. Well – we usually came back to the hotel and did non-sun activities, so I never had to worry about re-applying.

Well, in putting on her bathing suit, I forgot to re-apply!!! We were having a great time until I looked at her and wondered if she really was that red. I wore amber-colored blue blockers which tend to distort colors a bit. So I took them off.

Aw CRAP. She was that red. I PANICKED. I took her back up to the room and gave her a shot of ibuprofen and drew a cold bath and soaked her. While she was in the tub I took a second look. I seriously wondered if I was crazy. She wasn’t red anymore. She was DEEPLY tan. Well – she didn’t burn. She tanned.

I hate that kid and her ability to get a nice tan!!!!!!!!!!!

After the bath, and after wife came back from the spa, it was time to eat. We all freshened up and headed out to the car. We were going to CityWalk again – this time to the Latin Quarter. I don’t remember what I had – nor did I take any pictures of any it – but it was all delicious.

Then, we took the car and did a quick tour of the other 2 Universal resorts. BFF and Wife agreed that I made a good choice when picking the Portofino Bay.

I don’t know why, but after daughter fell asleep on the water taxi from Universal Studios, no pictures! But anyway, we went back to the hotel and began packing so we could switch over to the Polynesian tomorrow.


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Old 10-20-2008, 12:37 PM   #9
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Day 3


I got up as early as I could muster – but I was TIRED!!!! I packed up the bags and with BFF, took them down to the car. BFF, daughter and I all piled into the car and made our way to Disney property. We took the “back way” – Sand Lake/Turkey Lake road over to Apopka/Vineland Road. Because of all the construction – it may have actually taken longer, but I LOVE being able to avoid I-4; especially at rush hour. Driving on a 4 lane highway with a mixture of retirees, frustrated locals, and lost tourists is NOT my idea of fun. I almost got into a pretty bad accident a few years ago. We had a problem with the rental car, and because we had to take the car back, they gave us a convertible for the inconvenience. Well, it had a HUGE blind spot. The canvas top was covering where a window should have been so it could fold back. There was a car in the lane, hiding right in that blind spot. I almost side swiped him. Since that time, I avoid I-4 at all costs!!!!

Anyway, we got to the Polynesian and had a relatively smooth check in. It took the cast member a while to realize that BFF and I had 2 separate rooms. But eventually, we were all set and got the little business cards with the number to call and check on the status of our room.

I had requested Tokelau, but the cast member told us we were in Tahiti. Initially disappointed, I came to truly appreciate and love our location in Tahiti.

Anyway, we got back into the car and went back to the Portofino Bay to get Lisa. By this time, it was about 11:00, so we had to vacate Portofino Bay. I was STARVING since I hadn’t had anything to eat. Wife, daughter and I went to Perkins at the Cross Roads plaza, thinking we’d do Disney afterwards. But wife was just itching to get on the Hulk. So we made the trip all the way back to Universal.  For the first time ever, we parked in the second garage!! I’ve always parked in either Jaws, King Kong or Jurassic Park. We ended up in Cat in the Hat!!

As we were walking to Islands of Adventure, wife got a pretty bad pain in her side – to the point we had to stop and sit for a moment. She felt better, so we pressed on and went into Islands of Adventure, hoping to meet up with BFF again. We started out in Seuss Landing again. We went over to the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. We got a call from BFF and decided to meet up at Toon Lagoon. We once again made our way over to Super Hero Island. I got a chance to go on Spider Man by myself. Wife had had a few more instances of that horrible pain in her side, so she decided that it would probably be smart to sit out the Hulk. As much as it killed her to do that, she knew we’d be back.

BFF, BFF’s friend from law school and I all went on the Hulk one last time. At this point, daughter was once again delirious. She was EXHAUSTED, but we had NO place to put her down for a nap. So we put her in the car and went to Whole Foods for water for our room at the Polynesian. We had never been to one. Having heard great things about them, we were REALLY anxious to see what it was all about. Gotta say? Not at ALL impressed. Coming from Western New York, we’re extremely spoiled by Wegman’s. We have access to organic foods anytime we want them, and in addition to entire market size section devoted to organic foods, good choices abound throughout the ENTIRE store.

Meanwhile, as all of this was going on, the rest of our group was at the airport and getting ready to make their way down to the Mecca of Mouse.







But I digress – we called and finally our room was ready!!! While on our way to the Polynesian, Dad called and said that everyone was settled and ready to go. I told him we’d be there in about 20 minutes.

After parking in the lot that was REALLY close to Tahiti (one of the reasons I loved where we were), I gathered ALL of our luggage: 2 big pieces, 2 medium pieces and all of our carry on bags. This was all without assistance – it was just me, wife daughter a stroller and luggage. I put the key into the door and heard rustling. I just assumed that one of my family members opened the inter-connecting door and was waiting for me.

Alas, no. It was a housekeeper. She had not finished cleaning the room. I told her no problem, I’d be happy to come back later, but I just wanted to leave the luggage. She gave me attitude about how she needed to vacuum. Now, if this was just one bag – fine. I could take it out to the car. But we were bogged down with a LOT of luggage, and an obviously cranky and tired 2 year old. I was not in the mood. I asked her if it was okay with her if I put the luggage on the bed. With some reluctance, she agreed. I was REALLY upset, and I don’t even remember what we did in the meantime. But we left for a while and came back to the room. She was finally gone. I connected with the rest of my family. We had a reservation that evening at Marrakesh. Everyone was itching to get to a park. I asked my parents if they wouldn’t mind taking daughter with them and we’d meet up with them. That was just fine with them. They all took the monorail to Epcot. (Another reason I loved Tahiti – the walkway to the Monorail was RIGHT there!!!!!!)





As my family made their way to Epcot, wife and I made our way to the front desk. I know check in time is 3pm – but I wasn’t happy that our room wasn’t ready sooner. It’s tough keeping a 2 year old awake all day without a break. And then, when it’s AFTER 3, and I come into a room that I’m told is ready, but isn’t – not thrilled with that either. But she was almost done. I really could have dealt with that. It was the attitude I got from her that really sent me over the edge. Wife and I went to the front desk for a manager.

Brooke, the manager on duty was WONDERFUL. We explained the problem. At that point, all I wanted was an “I’m sorry.” Had she asked if she could do anything, I would have told her that “I’m sorry.” was more than sufficient. Well, she certainly said that and then offered to take 25% off of that night’s room charge. I could have kissed her!!! I told her that we appreciated the gesture, but it wasn’t necessary. I just wanted to let someone know to prevent it from happening to someone else. But she insisted on it. She made a rotten moment truly wonderful!

Wife and I got our car and drove over to Epcot. In my frustration, I completely forgot to pack a cell phone, or anything else in my day bag. We had our admission – but the whole way in, I was praying my family was waiting at the restaurant. They were!

But on the way to the back of the park, it was SO nice to be away from EVERYONE for just a few minutes. Wife and walked hand in hand, just enjoying each other’s company for those few brief moments. I hate to sound cliché, or like I’ve just snorted a line of pixie dust – but it was truly magical.

We were seated, and everyone really enjoyed their meal at Marrakesh. I’ve ALWAYS loved Marrakesh – from the first time we ate here. It’s a tradition now to have our first night’s meal there. But after a less-than-stellar review on the DIS podcast, I was concerned that my family of foodies might not care too much for it. We had a FABULOUS experience. Impeccable service, delicious food – and daughter and nephews LOVED the belly dancer. In fact, daughter threw a loud fit when we had to take her back to the table to eat.

There was no way we were going to make it to Illuminations. Little children and not-so-little children (ie: adults) were all exhausted. We did make a stop at Test Track on the way out. Nephew the elder waited, holding his breath the whole time that he’d make the height requirement to get on. He did! He did NOT enjoy himself, however. On the ride he was petrified, and admitted it when we got off. Oddly though, he was ready to go on again!

We retrieved our on-ride photo by means of a photopass card:

To make it clear who’s who: Front row left to right: brother-in-law, nephew the elder, sister. Back row left to right: Me, wife

We all went back to the Polynesian. It needs to be mentioned at this point that we hadn’t heard from BFF since we parted ways at Islands of Adventure earlier in the morning. After dinner, I used Dad’s cell phone to leave a voicemail for her. We found her and friend from law school relaxing at the Polynesian. Come to find out – they’d only arrived shortly before we got back from Epcot!!!! Friend from law school had gotten lost and apparently they drove around Disney property for hours because they couldn’t find it. BFF told friend from law school that she was pretty sure they needed to follow signs for the Magic Kingdom area resorts, but friend from law school didn’t listen. They ended up calling the phone number on the Key to the World card. That was somewhat useless too. The agent they spoke to couldn’t really understand where they were because Disney’s roads are so poorly marked! I’m not sure how, but eventually, they obviously found it.

After settling in and taking a look around, I realized just how not worth the Polynesian is for the money!!! Wife and I stayed here on our honeymoon and we LOVED it. It’s one of the reasons we ended up here again. But it was truly lacking this time. First and foremost, when I took a shower? I noticed that the shower head came down to about my neck. I had to duck to wash my hair! I’m taller than most, but I’m also not gi-normous! I’m 6’2”.

But what killed me the most – is that after an extensive renovation, you should never see something like THIS:



Can you see it? Let’s zoom in:



That big obnoxious piece of plywood. Daughter tripped and smacked her head on it. Not something you want to see in a hotel charging Disney’s prices.

And lastly – this one killed me because of what happened to us this morning. House keeping came VERY sporadically. Most days, we got back from the parks between noon and 1pm. Our room wasn’t made up. If I have to wait until 3 on the day I check in, they need to make sure to service rooms of guests staying there early in the morning. And further, at one point – the room wasn’t cleaned until after FOUR in the afternoon. And wife and BFF had to listen to the house keeper rant about her bad day. NOT fun. And because we saw them daily I know – I didn’t see that housekeeper from the first day for the rest of the 4 nights. So I’m not inclined to blame a vengeful attitude.

I don’t think I’d choose to stay at the Polynesian again any time soon. Maybe in time – but the headaches we had over the course of our stay just weren’t worth the inflated, premium prices we had to pay. I was truly disappointed.


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Old 10-20-2008, 12:42 PM   #10
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Day 4, part 1


We had breakfast reservations at Boma, followed by a day split between the two Kingdoms: Animal and Magic.

I had never been to Boma for breakfast. I’m not sure how to word this so that it doesn’t come out like a complaint. But there was a large difference between what I expected and what we got. The food was delicious, and the service was wonderful. I was just expecting a bit more of an “exotic” experience, for lack of a better word. There was only one buffet with choices that fell in line with African themeing of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Everything else was your standard breakfast fare. Again – I’m not complaining. It was just very different than what I expected. I think I had set up those expectations based on our dinners here. I love dinner at Boma! It’s not your typical dinner buffet.

But I digress. For any over-charging elsewhere on property? We made up for it with nephew the younger at the buffets!!!!!!!!! This kid can EAT!!!!! I think he packed away more than I did!!! He loved it!!!!

We all trekked over to Animal Kingdom park. On our way in, we spotted Rafiki!!!! We also had our first lesson that any photo with 3 kids, two of whom are 2 years old, will turn out completely different than expected – but still will turn out VERY cute!!!!!!







Everyone was itching to get on the Safaris, so I gathered up admission from everyone who wanted to ride Everest and made a beeline for Asia. After getting Fastpasses, I ran back toward Africa. I met up with the rest of the troops right at opening of Harambe. While I was running for the Fastpasses, the troops met up with a Fastpass photographer.


Let’s review one more time, shall we?
Left to right: brother-in-law holding nephew the younger, nephew the elder in sister’s arms, Ma, BFF, wife holding daughter, Dad



Waiting in line for the Safari:








And a couple of the good animal shots:







We thoroughly enjoyed our Safari, and took a potty break on our way back to Asia. Pictures!!! (these are G rated shots people…it’s the people WAITING during the break – not the break itself!!!)





Then it was off to Asia for Everest! I had only ridden once before, and there was one itty, bitty strobe light. I couldn’t see the stinkin’ Yeti!!!!!!!! I was ticked! So I was looking REALLY hard this time. And I saw him – red eyes all aglow!!!

Daughter was once again in quite a state of exhaustion. Not to mention, after E.T., I was hesitant to take her on ANYTHING else. The rest of the family wanted to do a few more things – including Tough to Be A Bug. Yah – no, I don’t think so. We took Ava off in search of an apple. This kid has NEVER wanted an apple, but she had a taste for one!!! I actually had to ask someone because every single food stand I came to did NOT have apples. Apparently, I had to go ALL the way back to Africa. I had no idea where in Africa this stand was. Turns out it was near the safari!!! C’mon Disney!!! Give us some fruit at the front of the park too!!!

By the time I got back to the stroller, she was passed out in her stroller. Remember – this is the kid that NEVER sleeps in her stroller or car seat. For the second time, she fell asleep in her stroller!!!!!

So anyway, family finally met up with us. We all agreed we were ready to go back for a nap and some lunch.


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Old 10-20-2008, 12:51 PM   #11
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Day 4, part 2


Back at the Polynesian, Lisa put Ava down, but it was in futility. She did NOT want to nap after her brief half hour stroller snooze. I went to Captain Cook’s and got us some lunch. This isn’t a slam against the Polynesian – so much as personal preference. I did try some of the sandwiches on the Captain Cook menu and they were all good. But sometimes you just want chicken fingers. Alas, there were none to be found. So put some familiar favorites on the menu in addition to the adult grilled cheese and pulled pork sandwiches.

I decided to take daughter to the pool so wife could take a cat nap.




Anyway, mother-in-law had called and was at the airport, catching a cab to the Polynesian. Family was getting itchy to do something, so wife and BFF would wait at the resort for mother-in-law while everyone else went to the Magic Kingdom. As it turns out, we ran into mother-in-law on the way out. We asked if she wanted us to wait so she could join us. She just wanted something to eat and to sleep. So we said we’d be back later and headed out. I think we used the resort loop once. Most of the time, we just walked over to the Ticket and Transportation Center.



Arriving at the Magic Kingdom, we took the obligatory shots of the train station, Main Street, and the Castle – but this time, everything was decked out in autumn finery.









After stopping a Photopass Photographer to take our picture…






…the first order of business was apparently meeting Mickey Mouse. I advised that the best way to try was the judge’s tent in Mickey’s Toontown Fair. This was at my sister’s request. We got to the judge’s tent and there was a SIXTY minute wait for Mickey Mouse. My sister said nay nay. Instead, we decided to take a tour through Mickey’s house.

















Afterwards, brother in law, ride fiend that he is, decided to start out nephew the elder with a small coaster. They got in line and rode the Barnstormer. As we waited, I got a call from wife and BFF. They were in the park and they’d meet us at the Barnstormer. On the way, they also stopped a Photopass photog.



We met up and decided sustenance was in order. So we all made our way towards the Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square. After a delicious, highly un-nutritious meal of flash fried tidbits, we decided to give the Haunted Mansion a go.

I knew that daughter would NOT do well in a dark enclosed space, so I asked the hostess if we could ride without going through the stretching room. She was VERY nice and took me through a couple of hallways right into the loading area. Again, daughter was getting a little antsy so wife and I just made it seem like any other house. It did the trick beautifully. The only snag we encountered was when the bride “threw” us out the window – as the story goes. Ava was neither expecting nor appreciated leaning backwards. She flipped out. And of course this was when they had to load a handicapped guest, so we were stuck there for a while. But once we got moving again, we made the graveyard seem like a big party, and she really liked it.

My nephews on the other hand? They did not fare so well. They were really spooked out – to the point that they wouldn’t go on anything else any time soon.

We headed through Liberty Square, into Frontierland, and came into Adventureland, where we decided to try out Pirates.






Brother-in-law and sister had to sit out with nephews. But everyone else got on. Daughter did well again – except for one part. That’s right – the downhill slide. In my defense, I’d like to say she’d been on this twice before. She just cinched up her butt cheeks, and that was it. But again, we just made it seem like a big party. She was then okay with it.

By now, it was 7:00 and there was only an hour left before Spectromagic, which meant we had to scope out a spot. We headed to Frontierland and grabbed that big gallows in front of the shooting gallery. This is the part I had been dreading. My father waiting an hour for a parade? Not so much. I was more worried about him than 2 tired toddlers and a tired pre-schooler.

But all four children made it through just fine.



Yeah. Boredom’s a bad thing.







After the parade, no way was ANYBODY going to stick around for the fireworks. So we went back to the hotel. All except brother-in-law and sister. They were really upset about having to miss Pirates. After REPEATEDLY telling them it was okay to stay at the park and ride Pirates, they did. I took all 3 kids back to the hotel. Wife got daughter ready for bed, and I took care of nephews.


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Old 10-20-2008, 01:02 PM   #12
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Day 5, part 1


HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAUGHTER!

Everyone was ready to get over to Epcot for our 8:30 reservation for breakfast with the princesses. It was WONDERFUL walking through Epcot without the crowds!!!!







We arrived, checked in and waited only a few minutes…



..and were on our way in for our photo session with Belle.





Of course we ate breakfast, but who comes here for the food? It’s all about the princesses!!!

First we met Aurora:


Nephews were not too hot on the idea of palling around with the princesses. But after Aurora, they were ALL about it. They came from the other end of the table to where the princesses walked by. Next up was Jasmine:



Then came Snow White:





Then we met Mary Poppins. (or, as daughter calls her, Mary Puppins. Some wiseacre at the table said her name with a British accent. So now she’s Mary Puppins.)



And it was then time to move on. Dad was anxious to try Soarin’ so we went over to that quadrant of the park. BFF and Wife took the youngin’s over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends…



.. while everyone else did Soarin’. Afterwards, we met back up with wife, BFF and the kids for a ride on Living with the Land. We made our way toward the front of the park, bound for Spaceship Earth. Daughter fell asleep in mother-in-law’s arms, so we knew it was time to make our exit. Wife, BFF, Daughter, mother-in-law and I all left. BFF and wife took daughter back to the resort on the monorail while mother-in-law and I took the car to Walgreen’s. Because of aging family members, mother-in-law wasn’t sure she could come until the last minute. Her manner of packing was, and I quote: to “throw some stuff in a suitcase and buy whatever was forgotten”. She also just likes to shop. So off to Walgreen’s we went.

The rest of the family had a great time at Epcot! They chased jumping water…





…played in the Imagination Labs…





…and met Donald in Mexico.




When wife, BFF and daughter got back to the resort, they had a wonderful surprise!!!



NO! Not that. THIS!






So anyway, we had a bunch of Disney Visa Reward Dollars, so wife and I figured we would just buy daughter’s costume for the Not So Scary Halloween Party at Downtown Disney. After thinking it over, BFF and wife decided she’d be an adorable Jasmine.

So BFF and I got into the car and went to the Marketplace in search of a Jasmine costume. We got to the World of Disney and found the Halloween costume section. They had princesses out the wazoo!! I eventually found the Jasmine costume. But I couldn’t find her size. I looked at the costume next to it – which happened to be Belle’s red Christmas Dress, and it came in an XXS. First I went to a register to ask if they had additional sizes in a stock room somewhere. She told me she had no phone and I had to go to another register. Hoping to avoid another line, I asked a cast member near a register, thinking she’d be able to go to the register and make a phone call. Not so much. So I waited in ANOTHER line. She called, and they had no XXS in the Jasmine costume. So we looked – even looking in the princess room. They had a couple of XXS costumes, but they were all crummy dresses that you’d have to ask who they belonged to! For $65, I want everyone to know who my kid is supposed to be.

Instead, we found a rack of Halloween shirts and bought her a cute orange shirt with a Mickey pumpkin on it. We also got her a bunch of other “stuff”: a pair of Little Mermaid sunglasses, and a pair of “Happy Birthday!” mouse ears. There were some other things, but I don’t really remember what else I bought.

A quick stop at the Candy Cauldron for some Caramel Apples, and we were set. Well, as quickly as one can run from World of Disney to the West Side and back to World of Disney.


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Old 10-20-2008, 01:12 PM   #13
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Day 5, part 2


BFF and I got back to the resort, and by this time, we had a chance to rest for a quick minute. But we had to leave for the party soon. BFF would not be joining. Instead, she was going to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal with friend from law school. Dad and Ma were going to have dinner with mother-in-law at the California Grill. So it was just wife, sister, brother-in-law, the kids and I going to the party. But mother-in-law decided to come along until she had to get to the Contemporary.

First stop? FANTASYLAND!!! THE TEA CUPS!!!







We did the rest of Fantasyland before mother-in-law had to leave. We did skip Snow White though. Definitely not testing the waters tonight!!!!!

We walked her out of the park and got some dinner at Casey’s. Nephews changed into their costumes. They made the cutest scarecrow and dinosaur!!!




I don’t know HOW he managed to wear a flannel shirt and thick denim jeans around that 80+ degree park for ANY length of time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



We went over to Tomorrowland for a bit, taking a ride on Buzz Lightyear and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.




THIS IS THE BEST PICTURE EVER! And I swear, it was totally candid. We were in one of the pitch black portions of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Anyway, it was by now 8:00. We had to scope out our spots for the Boo to You Parade. Only this time, we were contending with 3 kids – instead of 3 kids and Dad.

Photos of us waiting…









While we waited, we watched the Villains have their dance party.



I had a few shots from the parade itself, but this is my very favorite:



After, daughter once again made it very clear that she needed to go home and go to bed. On the way out, I mentioned how disappointed I was to miss the Hallowishes fireworks. Wife graciously told me she’d take daughter back to the hotel and I could stay with sister, brother-in-law and nephews to watch the show. While we waited, we stopped and bought some mouse ears.



I really was glad to have been able to see them fireworks! They were very enjoyable! LOVED the 360 degree portion at the end!!!

We all went back to the resort, and on the way out, had our pictures taken by the Photopass photog again.




Brother-in-law took his ticket and went back to the Magic Kingdom by himself. He had his picture taken in front of the mansion with a hitch hiking ghost super imposed onto the hearse. Pretty awesome!!!!!




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Old 10-20-2008, 01:17 PM   #14
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Day 6, part 1


I had my first attack of LMTHA syndrome today. Otherwise known as Leave me the Heck Alone syndrome!

We had our photo session with the Photopass photographer today at the Polynesian. We woke up, and spent a lot of time getting ourselves showered, coiffed and dressed. We met up at the Great Ceremonial House at about 8:45 where we met up with our photographer – whose name completely escapes me!!!! But she was great. The LMTHA syndrome comes in after the photo session, so I’ll first share the pictures.















































We had a great time. The photog told me to wait while she verified that she had gotten all of the photos to transfer onto the photopass card. I guess she had a problem with the sand from the beach.

Anyway, while she was doing that, I went to Captain Cook’s to get breakfast for wife, daughter and myself. I went back up to the Photopass desk, took a look at the photos, got the photopass card, and went back to the room.

At this point – it’s almost 11:00 and I’ve had NOTHING to eat. I was STARVING. And I had a big ‘ol plate of Tonga Toast I was ready to dive into. As I began eating, I had Dad and Ma beating me down to get moving. They were ready to move, and they made it quite plain. Thus kicked in the LMTHA syndrome. If they were completely dependent on me, I could maybe understand. But they’re adults! They had a car! They had Disney transportation. He told me it was because he didn’t know how to get to the parks. I had a GPS, there are signs all over the roads, AND there are busses! I was NOT happy.

I wolfed down my Tonga Toast, put on a pair of shorts and we were on our way to Hollywood Studios. I use the signs to navigate property. So naturally, this can involve some last minute lane changes, last minute turns, etc. Well, I had clearance to get into the right lane when I needed to make a right hand turn. But there was a big pick up truck that would have prevented Dad from moving over. So instead, I made the left and made a series of turns to get myself where I needed to go. And of course – as soon as we got out of the car, I got a very sarcastic “Made a wrong turn?”

I reminded myself that by the time we left this wouldn’t matter and just said “Yup.” I pierced my tongue with my canine teeth I had to bite my tongue so hard.


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Old 10-20-2008, 01:23 PM   #15
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Day 6, part 2


Any who…more Photopass…





We went over to MuppetVision 3D, then after a potty/Honey I Shrunk The Kids Playground/Mike Wazowski break…







…we went over to the Backlot Tour. Wife and BFF decided to try and get Toy Story Midway Mania Fastpasses. So we parted company and agreed to meet after the backlot tour.

Come to find out, all of the Toy Story Fastpasses were gone by that time. Lisa and Koviena weren’t familiar with the Fastpass rules. They went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid and got Fastpasses, and then wandered over to Sunset Blvd. to the Tower of Terror. They must not have been familiar with the rules of Fastpass because they unsuccessfully tried to get Tower of Terror Fastpasses.

We met up after the backlot tour. Dad and Ma were tired and ready to go back. So were the kids. So we asked if they’d be willing to take them so we could stay at the park. They, along with mother-in-law took the kids back to the hotel and sister, brother-in-law, wife, BFF and I stayed at the park. We ditched the Fastpasses for Mermaid, and walked over to Sunset Blvd.
Sister has never been on Tower of Terror and refused to go. Well, at first. After much convincing (and some mocking and clucking like a chicken), we got her to go on. She did not care for it. And we have the picture to prove it!!!!!


Left hand side, middle row.

Afterwards, we got in line for Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Should have bought the picture from that one too! Anyway, after that, wife and sister were done. They decided to grab a bus back to the hotel. Brother-in-law, BFF and I stayed at the park. Let me sum up. We went on the Tower of Terror 9 times in succession. Literally. We went right from the gift shop back to the queue.

Some of the cast members really got into it. “Checking in again, are we?” But my absolute favorite was during the safety spiel on our 7th or 8th time. “Please hang on to any possessions you wish to keep, and say your final goodbyes – except for you 3 because I know we’ll see you again!”. That was Kev. We loved Kev.

Anyway – when you go on that many times, you tend to get a little stupid. We decided to start doing weird poses for the camera. And I ended up buying another.


First row, right hand side. Yes, we are, in fact, smiling with our pinky a la Dr. Evil.

I had finally had my fill. Brother-in-law went for a ride on the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, BFF went for another ride on Tower of Tot. I sat out and had a lemonade. When we finally met up, we stopped at the candy shop near the corner of Hollywood and Sunset. After loading up on treats, we made our way over to Star Wars. Brother-in-law went while BFF and I waited. In the meantime, sister had come back to the park with nephew the younger. By now, it was 7:30 and time to make our way to the Hollywood Hills amphitheater.

I still am just not a huge fan of Fantasmic. It’s alright, but I don’t think it’s worth the wait. Anyway, the lines for the busses were RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!! The bus for the Grand/Polynesian/Contemporary snaked its way past the bus stop next to it, and to the stop after that one!!! I ran over to the Epcot bus where there was NO line. We all ran over and went to Epcot. We got into the monorail and eventually made our way to the Polynesian.

While we were having fun at Hollywood Studios, everyone else was having fun at the Polynesian pool.











I got to the Tahiti building and found our room empty. I called wife’s cell phone. She was down on the beach with daughter and mother-in-law. BFF and I went to join them, where we watched Wishes. It was WONDERFUL. We went back to the room and piled into bed.


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