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Old 01-02-2009, 10:03 AM   #1
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The ‘I can’t believe we’re FINALLY going' Trip Report - UPDATED - DAY 3

First, a bit of background for some perspective:

2008, as it was for many people in the US and here in Puerto Rico, was a difficult year for us. I lost the job I expected to be in until my retirement; we had to move and put our dream house on sale (and it still hasn’t been sold, as you might expect); projects that I expected did not occur. Thankfully I found a good job at the beginning of the year. But as time went by I realized that it was somehow a ‘step back’, which made me realize that maybe I had to make a change, either in the industry that I work in or in my career.

We’ve been planning and postponing this vacation since last year: we wanted to go in May, then moved it to December, then to January, then to May this year, and finally settled in December. We moved the reservation from WL to CSR, then back to WL, until the most affordable choice was finally CBR. Whew!

In short, we REALLY wanted this vacation, but I couldn’t believe we were finally going until we bought the new luggage set last Thanksgiving weekend!!

Well, enough melodrama... let’s get on with it!!

The Cast:

Do I need to tell you who's who? Plus, as you will see, this is obviously a PhotoPass picture!

Me (40): Big MK fan; hooked when I was a child.

DW (44): Puts up with my DW craziness; doesn’t like thrill rides, but enjoys the parks anyway

DD (9): We call her Cookie; this is actually her 5th trip, but is really excited about this one, and we have a few surprises for her


Finally, the day is here! I start my vacation time from work today!
We get up and take Cookie to school. She’s taking her last two final exams for this semester. I finish up a few sites that I design and maintain as a side business. I plan to stay connected with my AirCard, since I also need to check on a few things. We rented a car yesterday at the airport to take ourselves there (we now live about 20 minutes from the airport) for the incredible rate of $26!! DW has already packed and we have time to do a few errands. She picks up Cookie from school at about 11:00. She’s all excited that school is finally over for the holidays.

We put the DME tags on the bags, then pack everything into the rental, show a friend how to feed our pet turtle Elia, and we’re off! Then, after returning the car and waiting for the shuttle to the terminal, we realize that we had our first D’OH! Moment... I FORGOT OUR CAMERA!!!!

Purchasing a new one is not on our budget, and I don’t want to use the disposables they’ll be selling there..... again... AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHH!!!!

But... cellphones to the rescue!!! We’ll use our cell phone cameras. It’s not the same resolution as our camera, but I usually bring that down to get more pictures on the cards. Between that and PhotoPass, we’ll be okay.

I love going to the airport. Crazy, I know... frequent flyers are now throwing virtual shoes at me... but let me explain... I certainly don’t like the crowded lines, rude passengers / airline staff, overpriced food and possible delays. To me, since I was a kid, the airport meant I was going off to another place; kind of like an adventure. Especially if I’m going to my favorite place!! I think I'm 'infecting' Cookie with it:

Cookie is already excited... but I have to point out that the crayons on the floor to the right are not hers!

Since American and Delta cut their direct flights from SJU to MCO, the only options left are AirTran, JetBlue and Spirit. Today we’re flying AirTran, and on the return we’ll fly JetBlue. Check in goes smoothly, and we breathe a sigh of relief when we see the bags are under the limit (on our last trip we had a little adventure with an ‘weight challenged’ suitcase... read all about it HERE).

With boarding passes in hand, we get lunch at McDonald’s (nice on the tummy; heavy on the wallet), and go through security. Cookie follows my directions perfectly, and we have no issues. We linger around the airport, and after a half hour delay, our plane finally arrives!!

Yep... you can tell I'm on vacation... I'm snapping a picture of my plane...

Our flight was uneventful, and the service by AirTran is actually pretty good.
We land at MCO about a half hour late (7:00PM), but other than that, no issues.

We finally set foot on MCO!! We’re here!! Well, almost... Cookie insists that she won’t say she’s arrived until she’s actually sitting on the bed in the room!!!

I know it's not a glamorous pic of MCO, but hey... I just wanted to record the moment! Leave me alone!

Check-in at the DME desk is a breeze. After a mix-up with the buses that we would board (the CMs sent us to the wrong bus, the driver sent us back, then we had to wait a little more), we finally board our bus. It’s a DCL bus , but the video and everything else is DME .

As you can see by the color of the seats, this is a DCL bus (DME-marked buses have red seats). And as you can see by the quality of the picture, this was taken with a cell phone and no flash...

And then we wait... and wait... and wait... and then wait a little more... it’s actually about 15 minutes... but I’m really hungry, so it’s like an eternity...

Finally, the family we’re waiting for arrives, and we’re off!! CBR is the first stop. Thank you!! That means I’ll soon have food and won’t have to start eating the seat cushions!

I’m the 4th person on the check-in line, but it moves quickly, and it’s my turn. Yes! One of my favorite parts of the trip is the check-in at the Resort... where will we be... will I get my requests...

Our room is 1434, at Barbados. I requested a second floor room on Aruba 51 or Jamaica 45, as I really wanted to walk through the bridge to OPR. I think about asking if there’s anything available there, but after seeing that it’s close to the Customs House, which means we can walk there instead of waiting for a shuttle, I decide to take it.

The fact is... the location was pretty good!! In no time we are in the room, and Cookie finally declares that yes, we have arrived!!! The walk to OPR is also quite short and very pretty. Plus, since our honeymoon was in Barbados, DW takes the location as a good sign that this will be a fine vacation.

Since DW gets cold really easily, she packs enough jackets for us that some may think we’re going on an expedition to the Pole. The temperature tonight is in the high 40s/low 50s, which for us Caribbean people means that we expect to see penguins at any moment!!

Yes... ready for the 'bitter' Florida cold...

After getting lost and turning the wrong way a few times (happens every time on every resort we stay in until we get the layout), we get our dinner at OPR, buying our mugs for the trip and starting our traditional Pink Lemonade binge. I get the pork, while DW gets salmon and Cookie the Kid’s pizza. Everything is great (especially since we were starving!), and after browsing around the shop, we take a chilly but nice stroll back to our home for this week.

Surprise! Our bags are here! Loving DME!!

We’re really tired, so we tuck in early. Tomorrow, the adventure starts in earnest. Animal Kingdom!

Stay tuned...

'73 - Offsite w/Parents * '75 - CR w/Parents * '77 - Offsite w/Parents * '83 - Offsite w/Parents * 10/94 - CBR - DW * 09/95 - Poly - DW * 11/96 - POFQ - DW * 11/97 - WL - DW * 10/99 - CSR - DW, DD * 08/02 - CBR - DW, DD * 12/03 - Poly - DW, DD * 07-08/05 - POFQ - DW, DD * 12/08 - CBR - DW, DD * 01/12 - AS-Mo DW, DD * 01/14 - POP DW, DD

Last edited by MKFan-PR; 01-05-2009 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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The temperature tonight is in the high 40s/low 50s, which for us Caribbean people means that we expect to see penguins at any moment!!

If you want to see real snow, maybe not penguins come to Wisconsin. I think the high today is 17, with the wind it feels like 20 below zero.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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Sounds like you are off to a great start! Looking forward to reading more!
~Diane , DH , DD (16), DS (11)
CSR January, 2008--1st Magical Trip!
CBR January 2011--Grand Gathering!
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by OhMari View Post

If you want to see real snow, maybe not penguins come to Wisconsin. I think the high today is 17, with the wind it feels like 20 below zero.
Wow! I can't even imagine! I've been in snow a few times (even got snowed in at my hotel during a blizzard while attending a training in Boston), but to us, as soon as that thermometer hits 70, we're putting on our jackets.

Of course, we get 100% humidity with temps in the 90s in the summer (plus hurricanes), but right now I would't trade with you!

'73 - Offsite w/Parents * '75 - CR w/Parents * '77 - Offsite w/Parents * '83 - Offsite w/Parents * 10/94 - CBR - DW * 09/95 - Poly - DW * 11/96 - POFQ - DW * 11/97 - WL - DW * 10/99 - CSR - DW, DD * 08/02 - CBR - DW, DD * 12/03 - Poly - DW, DD * 07-08/05 - POFQ - DW, DD * 12/08 - CBR - DW, DD * 01/12 - AS-Mo DW, DD * 01/14 - POP DW, DD
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:40 PM   #5
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It’s a chilly morning at CBR. I wake up a bit early, and since Cookie is also awake (“...can’t sleep... too excited...”) we both get up and start storing our clothes (DW packs, I store). We let DW sleep a little more, but after a while, she’s also up. We bundle up for our morning stroll to OPR for our breakfast...

”’Ok... are you done with the picture?... We’re hungry and wanna go to the park! Let’s go!!!...”

A nice view of beautiful Barbados... or at least CBR’s version of it...

After loading up on our carbs with Mickey waffles and eggs (the Western Omelet was very good and the Breakfast Bounty platter was huge and almost too much for me... almost... ), we buy an Autograph book and a pressed penny booklet for Cookie.

I’m renting a car for the week, which we’ll return on our next to last day, so that we can have some ‘freedom’ if we want to go to DTD or somewhere else when bus travel is not that practical. We decide to go straight to AK, but then... on our second D’OH Moment... we forget that we left our ‘park bag’ (you know... where you put all the stuff that you think you might need but that most of the time you never end up using anyway...) in the room!! Soooooo.... we return to CBR, then head out to our bus stop for our first park – AK!

As we arrive, we get some ‘touristy’ pictures with the huge Christmas tree...

Cookie: “Dad... imagine the size of the gifts on a tree this big!” Dad: “Yeah... and imagine the size of Santa’s sleigh...”

After meeting Meeko (he was in Pocahontas... and yes, I had to look at the autograph to find out who he was... ) we go inside, gawking at the animals we find on the way, and snapping more pictures.

Here’s another touristy pic...

We decide to start with the ITTBAB show at the tree. Basically no line. We snap a nice pic of a giraffe carving (one of Cookie’s favorite animals) along the way...

A petrified (or is it ‘woodified’) giraffe at the Tree of Life...

The show as usual is great, but I have to warn Cookie of the ‘bugs leaving the theater’ so she doesn’t freak out... After that, we head to the right, to Dino-rama, where we find some canine characters (and get our PhotoPass card):


... and after...

After riding Triceratop Spin, Primeval Whirl breaks down when we’re about 5 minutes from getting on. We bypass Nemo the Musical (a mistake, since we wouldn’t be able to catch it later... third D’OH Moment of the trip...) to head out towards Asia and Expedition Everest (referred heretofore on this post as EE). Now, Cookie was psyched to get on, as I was, but after listening to the screams and seeing the trains speeding by downhill, she got cold feet. After trying various methods, including regret (“well... it’s your loss..”) and jealousy (“I’m gonna have a great time, and you’ll just be watching...”), she wouldn’t budge. Well, I’m not going to force her... but I will rub it in after I ride :roftl:

So, I ride it by myself... and it was awesome!!! It gets really fast when you’re going backwards (never felt that before). I usually don’t get my hands up on these type of rides (yes, I know... I’m a 40-year-old wuss...), but on this one I REALLY held on... just fantastic... Of course, I had to give all the details to Cookie...

We continue on our journey to Kali River Rapids (KRR), where Cookie and I are mercifully spared of any major wetness on our ride... but since there are almost no lines, the CMs let us go as second time if we want to (a couple of kids were on their 5th trip already, and they were drenched!!!). Cookie really wants to, and since she gives me the “Puss-in-boots-from-Shrek-Pretty-Please-Daddy” eyes, well...

But, of course... now we’re tempting fate... and, of course... we get SOAKED. I am soaked all the way to my wazoo... just like a previous time... I never learn...

A third time is out of the question, so we head out, where Cookie gets a change of clothes, but me and my wet wazoo will have to do with the air drying me...

Since we came in late by now we have to start getting a strategy for the Parade. We basically did the one big thing we wanted to do, so as long as we get on KS, we’ll be done for the day. We head out towards Flame Tree Barbecue, where we chow down with some ribs and chicken. BTW, the seating area for this place (first time I’ve been here) is quite secluded (they put about a million signs plus CMs because you can easily miss it) and very nice and quiet if you go outside meal rush hours.

After that, we start our pilgrimage towards KS, looking for a spot for the parade as close to it as possible, so that we don’t have to fight the post-parade traffic in the other direction. We finally settle on a spot at the exit of Pizzafari resturant. There we get to see one of the most thankless jobs a CM can have... parade crowd control guy... basically he has to tell people, in the nicest way possible, that you cannot go this way, because the parade is coming. Need to go that way? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until the parade is done. Man, the expressions on people’s faces and the comments! Didn’t catch the CMs name, but... parade crowd control guy in front of Pizzafari on 12/13... you have my admiration... With the stuff they have to endure, I hope they rotate them!

After the parade, we dodge the traffic and get on KS, where once again we help save the baby elephant from the poachers (man, you would think they would build better fences or something...), while getting up close to other animals:

The animal world version of the tank...

This is an Indian elephant. How can you tell? Well, because the guide will tell you

By then we’re basically done. We try to catch the last showing of Nemo, but we’re too late. After eating a few goodies, we head out, but not before snapping a few more pics...

Wow! You can see the Everest from here!!!

We get on our bus back to CBR, where we get a nice dinner of salmon for the ladies (Cookie loves fish. You don’t know how grateful I am that my DD like so many types of food and not just ‘nuggets and fries’), and I have chicken. We play a little in the arcade, then stroll a bit around OPR. We spend a good 3 hours in here, and by now it’s Cookie’s bedtime. But first we get to see the high fireworks from Illuminations. Great! We get back to the room, where Cookie goes to bed, after which DW and me chat a little before turning in ourselves.

Nice first park day... tomorrow – Epcot!

Stay tuned!

'73 - Offsite w/Parents * '75 - CR w/Parents * '77 - Offsite w/Parents * '83 - Offsite w/Parents * 10/94 - CBR - DW * 09/95 - Poly - DW * 11/96 - POFQ - DW * 11/97 - WL - DW * 10/99 - CSR - DW, DD * 08/02 - CBR - DW, DD * 12/03 - Poly - DW, DD * 07-08/05 - POFQ - DW, DD * 12/08 - CBR - DW, DD * 01/12 - AS-Mo DW, DD * 01/14 - POP DW, DD
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:18 AM   #6
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The cold has gone away... the temps are getting into the 70s now, which is just like home. Yes! That means less stuff in the bag... and much less “honey, can you carry this for a while?...” requests between DW and me...

After getting ready, we head out for another nice stroll to OPR for breakfast. DW and me take a croissant sandwich, while Cookie chooses french toast.

While the girls finish up, I go ahead and purchase our tickets for the Tuesday MVMCP and the Concierge desk in OPR. I know it’ll be the most crowded of them, but it’s the one that’s offering the discount, today’s (Sunday) party is too early and Thursday’s is too late (we leave on Friday). Turns out it would be great, but I’m getting way ahead of myself...

After we’re all filled up, we head out to the OPR bus stop for transportation to Epcot. It’s late morning, but it’s fine, since today we’ll stay until closing.

We go through bag check and ticket entry, and stop for the obligatory picture with ‘the big golf ball’...

Yep... we all have a thousand of pics just like this... and we wouldn’t imagine going to Epcot without taking it...

Since there was little line, we ride Spaceship Earth (SE). Man, I remember when all the guidebooks recommended leaving it for the end, because everyone coming in would want to ride it first. Now, there’s hardly any line. I’m excited to see the makeover...

...and then I come out disappointed! The new narration is fine, with the requisite British voice to make it more dramatic (who is the narrator? At first I though Judi Dench, but I’m not sure). But I think the Jeremy Irons version was better. No big deal. The interesting parts are there, and the new approach is actually pretty good. But for the second part... where did it go? Where did they put it??? A video presentation??? I mean, that would be fine for the post-show area, but in the ride itself? It’s borderline disgraceful! Where’s the creativity???? The stuff and games at the end are better than the whole second part!! :mad

Ok... I’ll calm down now...

We go right on the fountain and the girls wait for me at the entrance for The Seas with Nemo (TSWN), while I go to The Land to pick-up FastPasses for Soarin (the line is already at 70 minutes wait). As we enter TSWN, we observe an elderly couple coming in with us. We let them ahead and watch them taking silly pictures of themselves, holding hands while they walk... I don’t know if this applies, but the only word that came to mind was cute. Maybe the word is lovely. DW and I thought “that’s how we want to be when we’re at that age... like two highschoolers on a date, enjoying WDW...

...of course Cookie would pay for the whole trip as our silver anniversary gift

After my disappointment with SE, I’m a little anxious to see how the did on this refurb. But thankfully, they did right this time. Although I liked the exhibits of diving equipment, the ‘beach-at-night’ themeing of the queue area is great. And the “clammobiles” (is that how it’s spelled, or are there too may ‘m’s) are actually pretty nice. It’s not a ‘classic’, but I liked how they were able to put the characters ‘in the tank’ with the other fishes.

The exhibits at the former ‘Sea Base Alpha” were nice...

Another gratuitous ‘Help... I’m being eaten by a shark’ picture that nobody seems to resist...

, and of course Turtle Talk with Crush was awesome (for a real treat, ask Crush if he can ‘blow bubbles...’ ).

After Crush, we go into the Imagination ride, and as usual we lament this ‘half-butt’ effort at replacing a classic. After that, we wait for the next show of HISTA, while Cookie plays around with the jumping water fountains...

No matter how hard she tries, Cookie cannot hold on to water... which is a great symbolism for me and my paycheck...

After enjoying the HISTA film (BTW, I miss the old ‘True Colors” pre show...), we stroll around and find some characters (which were everywhere, more than any other trip)...

Yes, I got the usual pose too... but I think she’s cuter on this one

We head out to Soarin’, as our FP time is approaching. DW asks if Soarin is elegible for her “one-thrill-ride-and-that’s-it” goal for this trip. After conferring, Cookie and I agree, so off we go. We luck out and get the first row, which is the one that ends up on top, so you don’t see feet on top of you and get the most unobstructed view.

Once again, the ride was Fantastic! The sights and the smells! DW was a little freaked, peering with her head turned and one eye closed, but by the end she was able to relax a little.

Since we were a little hungry, and there was a Food Court there, well, why not? DW and I each had a great sandwich, while Cookie had fish. For dessert, some yummy-licious Strawberry Shortcake. We rode the ‘Living with the Land’ boat ride, which we noticed it didn’t have a guide/driver anymore. Obviously, cost-cutting has also reached WDW.

We linger around a little more, while Cookie gets some more pressed pennies, and then we get on the road again. We get into the line at Test Track, when suddenly I remember that today my Steelers have a big game against the Ravens (DW told me I could stay back and watch the game while they went to the parks, but the fact is WDW is one of the few places I could be in instead of watching the game), so I check out periodically the scores on my cell phone... turns out I would be a VERY happy guy by the evening, but I’m getting ahead of myself...

After getting the ride picture into PhotoPass (great idea; I wonder why they haven’t done it on the other ride pictures), I ride M:S on the ‘Orange’ or ‘more intense’ side. Awesome again. But even with the ‘Green’ side, this ride still has people scared. With TT and Soarin all having wait times of an hour or more, there was absolutely no wait on M:S. Sad.

After enjoying the start of the light show on the walkway to the ‘promenade’, we start heading towards World Showcase (WS), for our trip around the world: Cookie gets her Kidcot mask for coloring...

The Holiday-themed semi-creepy Kidcot mask... and, yes, I know it's dark, but my cell has no flash, and you might have read I forgot my camera... stop reminding me of my stupidity...

while DW and I browse around and enjoy the exibits. Notables...

> the Maelstrom ride at Norway, where I show Cookie the hidden mickey in the huge mural in the loading area (look at the “headdress” of one of the crew on the Viking ship)

> DW loved the coffee at the bakery there

> Cookie gets her name written in Chinese, along with an extra tiger stamp (born on the year of the tiger)

> Finding out in Germany, which perfectly complemented a nice sit down for people watching while Cookie gets her stamps...

> ...and having another one at the ‘piazza’ in Italy

Earlier in the day, Cookie was curious about Pin Trading. After I explained it to her, she told me she would like to do it. So as we reach American Adventure, we find the pin cart, where we get her a starter set of 4 pins and a lanyard. She loved it and, after being a little shy at first, she would be trading like a pro by the end of the trip...

We have our ‘All American’ dinner at Liberty Inn (burgers, hot dogs and fries), and then enjoy the last part of the CP (we did it on our previous December trip, with Andy Garcia as the narrator, but we didn’t want to do it this time, as it mostly conflicted with our touring plans). After that, we grab a spot right beyond the CP theater, for IllumiNations... which of course was fantastic!! It’s DW’s favorite fireworks show, while I like Wishes better (but not by much). Of course, as usual, we watch both the show and Cookie’s face... and even at 9 she still has that same wonder in her look. That alone makes the trip worth every penny...

We slowly head back to the bus stop; no rush, let’s milk this time for all it’s worth... we enjoy some final treats, the ladies take some bathroom breaks and I enjoy the scenery. By the time we reach the bus stop, we don’t have to wait much and there’s almost no line, so we can sit on the return trip.

As we reach the room, we freshen up, and, tired but happy, the girls go to sleep, while I catch the game highlights on ESPN, my laptop and anywhere I can find them. After all, I’m at WDW, but I’m still a fan...

Tomorrow – The Disney-MG... sorry, Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Stay Tuned!

'73 - Offsite w/Parents * '75 - CR w/Parents * '77 - Offsite w/Parents * '83 - Offsite w/Parents * 10/94 - CBR - DW * 09/95 - Poly - DW * 11/96 - POFQ - DW * 11/97 - WL - DW * 10/99 - CSR - DW, DD * 08/02 - CBR - DW, DD * 12/03 - Poly - DW, DD * 07-08/05 - POFQ - DW, DD * 12/08 - CBR - DW, DD * 01/12 - AS-Mo DW, DD * 01/14 - POP DW, DD
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:18 PM   #7
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Hope you find the time to come and finish your Trip Report.
And how is your job going, did you change careers?
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