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Old 05-21-2008, 10:50 AM   #1
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Fred, Wilma and Family do Disney - Day 8

Fred, Wilma and Family do Disney Day 8 – Disney Magic at its best

Friday 18th April

Remember back on Day 1 when I said this:

Originally Posted by wilma-bride View Post
I felt completely elated to be here and didn’t think that feeling could possibly be surpassed. It was, however, but I’ll save that for later in the trippy.
Before we left home for this trip, back in April, I had read every bit of information I could get my hands on about Wilderness Lodge and the Villas and compiled a list of all the special (not necessarily advertised) things we could do during our stay. One of them was the opportunity to be ‘Flag Family’ at the Wilderness Lodge. This entailed going up to the roof of the Lodge, early in the morning, and raising all the flags. I had read that it was really difficult to be Flag Family as it only happened once a day.

Still, when we checked in, despite the late hour and my tiredness, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I was absolutely beside myself when the lovely CM checking us in said there was an opening for Friday 18th April, the day we were due to check out. What better way to end our stay at Villas at Wilderness Lodge.

So, here we were, at 7:30 in the morning, ready to head down to the lobby and meet the famous Ranger Stan. We had been told that only 6 people were officially allowed up to the roof area but that we should all go along anyway and see whether Stan would let us all go. I was more than prepared to stand down, if needs be, but Stan was great and said it wasn’t a problem. I think the relief must have showed on my face because he gave me a little hug and said ‘You’re going to love this’.

We took the elevator to Level 7 (Club level), then took the stairs up to the roof. What a fantastic view! We could see every single inch of Disney World, all of the parks and the resorts. It was incredible.

First up was Rea, with the most important – the US flag. She and Stan posed for a picture, and then she hoisted the flag to the top of the pole.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a breeze – it was really warm, even at 8 in the morning – so it just hung there limply. Even so, we all stood in a line while Stan pledged allegiance to the flag. Both he and the in-laws got a little teary – it was very touching and he and Mother hugged. Then Stan took a picture of us all with the US flag (ignore the sticker on Daniel's nose!)

Next it was me, with the Wilderness Lodge flag. Again, I posed for a picture – Stan said he could never resist having a picture taken with a pretty lady. He’s such a charmer.

It was a great feeling, knowing that I was lifting a flag that hundreds of people would see that day. Daniel was next, with Mickey’s flag. It was so big he had to hold it right under his chin to keep it from trailing on the floor.

He was so excited to be pulling the rope and he did a great job. Sian’s job was to raise the State of Florida flag.

Finally, Chuck and Reeny raised the second Wilderness Lodge flag

Then Stan took a picture of the whole family. Typically, Daniel went into his 'I don't want my picture taken' routine.

After Stan presented us with a ‘Flag Family’ certificate, we went back down to the 7th floor, where we were invited to have breakfast in the Concierge lounge. As we already had a breakfast reservation at the Polynesian for 10 am, we all just had a drink and Daniel had a piece of fruit.

All in all, it was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had at Disney World and I’m sure I will think back fondly on it for years to come. If you ever get the chance to do it, I would highly recommend it. Stan even asked the Concierge desk to print out an extra certificate with Chuck and Reeny’s surname on, for them to take home. He was such a lovely man and I hope we get the chance to meet him again.

Back in our room, I took a few moments to say a silent goodbye, knowing that it was going to be really hard to leave. Without a doubt, this has been my favourite Disney resort. Bell Services arrived to collect our luggage and assured us it would be available at Old Key West by 3 pm. By this time, Daniel was crying, saying he didn’t want to leave. He really loved the villas and the lodge as much as I did and I know we will definitely return.

I will leave you with this picture, taken from the roof of the lodge.

After collecting the car, we drove out of the lodge exit for the last time and were soon at the Poly. This is one resort I’d never seen before (other than from the resort monorail) and I was excited to explore. We were a little early for our ADR but we checked in anyway and were given a pager. The kids went off to look in the shop and the rest of us had a good look round. The Poly is beautiful but (in my opinion) just doesn’t have the ‘Wow’ factor that Wilderness Lodge does. I fear I may now be biased forever.

Our pager was buzzing pretty soon and we were seated at a table for 6 with a chair stuck on the end for Daniel. The others took a while to peruse the menu but I didn’t need to. There was one reason – and one reason only – that we were here. Tonga Toast!!!

It took quite a while for our server to take our order. I think there was a mix-up over who was looking after our table. Gary and I both ordered the Tonga Toast, Sian went for blueberry pancakes and the others all chose French Toast. Rea and I planned to share anyway as I wasn’t sure I could manage the Tonga Toast by myself.

The food came quite quickly and it was all absolutely delicious. I was right about the Tonga Toast, though. It was huge and I couldn’t even finish the half that I did have (although I had some of Rea’s French toast as well).

This was the first time during the trip that Chuck and Reeny managed to finish a meal! Once we’d finished eating, we waited ages for the server to bring the check and, in the end, I had to resort to getting up and asking someone. Finally, after about 25 minutes, we got our check. The service had been particularly poor but, of course, being a party of 7, there was an 18% tip included. I really couldn’t be bothered to argue over it so just paid the check but didn’t tip extra (which I normally would have done) and we left.

Next, we drove over to Old Key West to check in to our new ‘home’. I checked in while the others waited in the van. Our room was not ready (not surprising at 11:30 in the morning) so I told the CM we were going out for the rest of the day and would be back at tea time. She was quite amused by the phrase ‘tea time’ as she’d never heard it used before. I explained it meant about 5 pm and she said our room would be ready then and to call or come back at that time. She gave us our keys and explained that, when our room had been allocated, they would automatically be programmed accordingly so there was no need to go back to Hospitality House if we didn’t want to.

We had already decided to take advantage of the broken up day and do some shopping so first it was off to Prime Outlets.

We split up so that Chuck and Reeny could shop in peace. The girls also decided to go off by themselves so Gary, Daniel and I went to Skechers, where we bought Daniel two pairs of trainers. In the Character Warehouse, we bought a Pirates of the Caribbean baseball set for our nephew’s Birthday and Daniel spent $1 on a pair of toy binoculars. The cashier gave Daniel a load of Disney stickers, which he was really happy with. They had some lovely Mickey t-shirts but, unfortunately, didn’t have my size so I didn’t get anything for myself.

We met up with the others and decided to drive over to the Florida Mall. First stop was Gamespot, where I managed to buy two Nintendo DS Lites (one for Daniel, in blue and black and one for Nat’s son Matthew, in red and black). An absolute steal at $130 each. We split up at this point and the girls headed off, in search of the Build a Bear Workshop. Chuck and Reeny also went off by themselves, leaving me, Gary and Daniel to shop by ourselves. I bought some candles for Nat at the Yankee Candle shop (I’ll bring them with me on Friday Nat ). Gary then threw a childish tantrum because Daniel was playing up and ended up storming off so Daniel and I found the girls and we carried on looking round the shops. In M&M World, we bought some mint crisp M&Ms (different but nonetheless delicious). Rea decided against spending her money on a Build-a-Bear and opted instead to return to Gamespot to buy a DS game. On the way back, we stopped in the food court, where Daniel and the girls shared a portion of bourbon chicken and rice.

Rea bought her game and we met up with the others at 3:30. Charles was not feeling very well so we decided to call it a day and head back to Old Key West and see if our room was ready. We stopped off at Hospitality House and were told we had been assigned a second floor room in building 32. I asked if they had any ground floor rooms available, as I was concerned that Charles was struggling. Luckily, a 2-bedroom was available in Building 45, on the ground floor, which was perfect. On the way out, I stopped at the Bell Services desk and asked them to deliver our luggage and we drove down to our building. The location was perfect, not too far from the main area, with a lovely view of the river, where we could see all the boats going past. Daniel had a fine time, over the next few days, standing on the balcony and waving to everyone going past.

The room itself was lovely. It was noticeably bigger than our room at VWL and much brighter. Sorry about the pictures, the camera must have been having an off day.

Although we were still sad to have left the lodge, I was perfectly happy with Old Key West in terms of the room and the location. Our luggage was delivered promptly and we were able to unpack before heading out for our Illuminations Cruise. Other than the chicken and rice the kids had eaten at lunchtime, the rest of us had not had anything since breakfast so we decided to stop at Goods to Go for dinner. I have to say now that I was incredibly disappointed with the counter service option at Old Key West. Firstly, the menu was extremely limited considering it is classed as a deluxe resort. Secondly, there was no inside seating area and, what they did have outside, was very limited. Still, we managed to get some food (nothing exciting so I won’t bother with pictures) and then left to drive over to the Boardwalk. We parked up at the Boardwalk and walked through.

Although it was still quite early, there was some entertainment going on, in the form of a magician. He was very good and really funny. He asked Daniel to help him with a trick, involving making a ball of paper disappear. He gave Daniel a small ball of paper and had one himself, then told him to make it disappear. The magician himself was just chucking his ball over his shoulder but poor Daniel didn’t realise this and was quite perplexed that he couldn’t do it.

He tried several times and then, eventually, the magician tapped the bottom of his hand, making it fly over his shoulder and he got a round of applause. He was really chuffed and announced he was going to be a magician when he grew up.

We wandered round to the Yacht Club, where we checked in for the cruise and waited for Joanne and her daughter, Fiona, to turn up. We had arranged for them to share our cruise. This was their last night so Joanne thought it would be a nice end to the trip for them both.

They arrived shortly after 8 and we all introduced ourselves, then went off to get life jackets for the kids. Rea was really happy that she didn’t have to wear one this time.

The cruise was fantastic and our captain was brilliant. She gave us loads of interesting information about the various resorts and Disney in general. She also told us a bit about the Dream Team, as that was her job before she started driving the cruise boats. We stopped at the MGM end of the river and caught the beginning of Fantasmic – I’m really looking forward to seeing this on Wednesday as this will be another first for us. Then we headed back up (or down) river to Epcot and tied up under the bridge.

Shortly afterwards, Illuminations started and it was brilliant. Chuck and Reeny absolutely loved it, but Daniel said he preferred Wishes (it’s a 5 year old thing, I think).

Our captain dropped us off at Boardwalk (rather than the Yacht Club dock) and offered to drive Joanne and Fiona up to MGM, so they could get the bus from there back to Pop Century, which was really kind of her.

We stopped to get a funnel cake, which we all shared. Mother really liked it but Daniel wasn’t too fussed. It was pretty late by now so we went back to the van and drove back to Old Key West. Due to the change of sleeping arrangements, Chuck and Reeny now had the master bedroom and Gary and I were going to sleep in the lounge so the kids could share the second bedroom. After sitting on the sleeper sofa, though, I had second thoughts so, once again, the girls were resigned to the sleeper sofa and Gary and I opted to share with Daniel.

We were in bed by 11. Tomorrow we’re back to Epcot and we have a mini DIS meet.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:12 AM   #2
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Another great trip report and photos. I can't wait to read more.

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Old 05-21-2008, 11:33 AM   #3
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ooh ive been waiting for this report since you got back ! what a fab experience for you all the photos from the roof are brilliant x

Tonga toast.....put that on the list for October 09
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Old 05-21-2008, 12:14 PM   #4
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Fantastic views from the roof!

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:10 PM   #5
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OMG I have a tear in my eye. Those flags! what an amazing thing to do, and so few folks get to see that view of disney, you lucky gal.

your rooms look really nice and comfy. always nice to leave behind the mess you create in one place and start again elsewhere

fab day Joh
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:11 PM   #6
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Another great day Joh. The raising of the flags sounds like a fun thing to be able to do

Mmm Bourbon chicken - I love that, along with all the freebies that are given out at the Florida Mall
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:46 PM   #7

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what a fantastic day,the raising of the flags sounds like a great thing to do
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:50 PM   #8
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Lovely report - have never had Tonga Toast but definitely will next time, it looks yummy!
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Old 05-21-2008, 03:09 PM   #9
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Brilliant Joh - a wonderful experience.
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Old 05-21-2008, 03:17 PM   #10
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What a magical day Joh! Good idea on swapping with the girls!
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Old 05-21-2008, 03:47 PM   #11
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great reports, looking forward to next one
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Old 05-21-2008, 04:46 PM   #12
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What a fantastic thing to do at WL Joh, I love the flag photos too!

The cruise sounds lovely and your OKW room looks good!
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:08 PM   #13
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What a great experience raising the flags must have been. Clever you Joh for arranging it. So enjoying your trip report.

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Old 05-21-2008, 05:15 PM   #14
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What a great start to the day raising the flags. Really enjoy reading your reports Joh.
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:05 AM   #15
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sounds like a really special day with lots of happy memories. Disney is so great at it.
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