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Old 06-08-2009, 10:09 PM   #1
Mickey_Mom
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Smile How Many Sleeps Until Disney Mommy?! August 2009 PTR **WE'RE BACK!!!**

So I thought I’d try my hand at putting a pre-trip report together for our family vacation in WDW this August. I’d been thinking about it and just decided today to go for it. Welcome along any followers and please post any ideas or suggestions as they are most appreciated! I’ve gotten tons of ideas from fellow DISers and there’s always room for more.

My cast of characters:

My boys, Alex who will have just turned 14 when we arrive, and Demetri who is four and a half and the inspiration for the name of my report. He asks me every day, how many more sleeps until Disney World? We have a calendar on the fridge that he crosses off every night and I have a countdown on my internet home page that he follows too.


My daughter, Ariana (the one in the crown on the right ) who is twelve and the inspiration for our trips. She has autism and loves, loves, loves anything to do with Disney. She is a princess at heart and I love seeing everything thru her eyes.


My ever-so-patient husband George, who in this picture is getting a fairly exuberant kiss on the cheek from Ariana. He really is much more handsome than this pic would lead you to believe


Here’s the family together and there’s me, Tracy, rocking the cool shades.

Our travel dates are August 15th to August 25th. This is our fourth trip in four years but it’s the first year we are including the water parks and more option on our tickets so we extended it a few days. Bathing suit…ack!

We’re staying at the POP Century resort this time – our favorite! We stayed there the first year we went and loved it. Our mousekeeper was awesome and made fantastic towel displays that the kids loved coming back to every day.



On our next two trips we wanted to try different resorts and stayed at the All Stars Movies and then the Port Orleans Riverside. While they were great, we loved the POP the most and are happy to be going back.

I mentioned this is our fourth trip in four years. Disney was always something we’d wanted to do, but felt it was way too expensive to fit into our budget. Our daughter has been getting expensive therapy sessions since she was three and we’d always had this figure in our heads a trip would cost six thousand dollars or so. No telling where that number came from, but early 2006 we were lucky enough to be introduced thru a friend of a friend, to a travel agent who herself is a Disney freak . With the free dining promo, she put together an eight day trip for our family of five, flight included (!) that was just over $2K Canadian. The impossible became possible! Our family was taking its first ever vacation and my husband and I were going on our first trip since our honeymoon in 1994. We had the time of our lives and when we came home, I immediately started looking into booking our next one.

This would be a good time to mention that I am a control freak and a planning freak. I knew nothing for our first trip and that has its advantages for sure, but we left that trip knowing we’d missed a lot of things and I couldn’t wait to get back.

But be careful and don’t fall into my trap where I overplanned our next trip and tried to cram too many things into one trip. We ended up spending most of our time running from one event to the next and couldn’t appreciate the smaller things and the little details that go into making a Disney vacation special. And while our third trip was scaled back in scheduling and even had a day devoted strictly to spending it at the resort enjoying the pool, we still didn’t feel like we’d relaxed enough . You know when you come back from a vacation and feel like you need a vacation? Yeah, that was us.

So I re-introduced myself to my family: “Hi, my name is Tracy, and I am a schedule-a-holic.” Is that a word? The first step is admitting it right ? Don’t get me wrong, we still completely enjoyed our trips, but I hadn’t yet found that balance. This year I’m determined to find it.

Still to come: hits and misses from previous trips, ADRs from previous trips, ADRs for the upcoming trip.

Chapters Links (if you'd rather not read all the extra stuff)
67 Sleeps - The Trip That Almost Wasn't
66 Sleeps - Previous Trips Hits & Misses
ADRs Past Trips
65 Sleeps - Random Fun Stuff
Finally! August ADRs!
Oh and a Bonus Pic!
Random Past Trip Pics
64 Sleeps - The Lost Photos - Part I
64 Sleeps - The Lost Photos - Part II
62 Sleeps - Snow White and the Faulty Camera
59 Sleeps - Day 1 Plans
58 Sleeps - Day 2 Plans
56 Sleeps - Day 3 Plans
55 Sleeps - Father's Day Surprise!
53 Sleeps - Paid Off Trip with Two Bonuses!
Favorite Organizing Tip
49 Sleeps - To-Do List as of June 27th
49 Sleeps - Day 4 Plans
47 Sleeps - Day 5 Plans
45 Sleeps - Day 6 Plans
41 Sleeps - Day 7 Plans
41 Sleeps - Day 7 Plans cont.
36 Sleeps - Part I - Mickey Mail!
36 Sleeps - Part II - Day 8 Plans
36 Sleeps - Part III - Parade Mania at MK
36 Sleeps - Part III - Parade Mania at AK
36 Sleeps - Part III - Parade Mania at DHS
36 Sleeps - Part III - Wrapping up Parade Mania with Spectro Magic
34 Sleeps - Day 9 Plans and a Few Minor Changes
11 Sleeps - Oh Yeah... an Update!
1 Sleep!! - Thank you and Goodbye Everyone!!

Last edited by Mickey_Mom; 08-25-2009 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:57 PM   #2
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Andddd - here I am! I just saw the thread in the list.
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Old 06-09-2009, 12:12 AM   #3
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Just found your report. We stayed at Pop in 2005 and loved it. We will just miss you in August. We will be there 8/2-8/9. Cant wait to hear more.
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Old 06-09-2009, 11:20 AM   #4
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67 sleeps!!

I’m such a nerd, I was so excited to see all the views my PTR was getting and that I have a few followers now…. Hi Zero to Hero! Hi MinnieNurse! You guys will have to tell me how to put my PTR link in my signature

So this August 2009 trip was almost the trip that wasn’t. We had gone three years in a row and my DH was pretty clear we should put the brakes on it for a while and maybe go back in about five years around Christmas time. While I was initially at peace with that, (sorta-not really) when February of this year rolled around and I would normally start anticipating the free dining to roll out….. I had to do it. I had to start planning again! (Did I mention I am a planning freak??)

So I started talking to my DH about going again and we “compromised” by saying we would have a backyard summer, save up, and only go if the free dining happened to get extended into Christmas time. Ariana LOVES Disney and the next best thing to her is Christmas time. She loves everything about it – she’d have a tree up year round if it were up to her, she loves the presents under the tree, the Christmas carols, making snowmen and snow angels, any sort of Christmas movie, all the lights and decorations she loves with wide-eyed wonder…. you get the idea So imagine my excitement to possibly take her to her favorite place on earth at her favorite time of year!! I would look at any photo I could find of the Magic Kingdom decorated for Christmas and just friggin cry thinking about taking her. I showed her a video of Cinderella’s Castle lighting up with all the tiny Christmas lights and ….. whew!

But alas, all signs were pointing to the rarity that is free dining at Christmas time for us Northern folk, and my DH started recognizing the signs in me of Disney Withdrawlism. He took pity on me and shocked me by suggesting we go in August! I love, love, love my husband. Really. Love. Him.

So back to the DIS boards I went with a new spring in my step! We were going back!! I had already subscribed to the free dining thread and honestly, I don’t know how you guys do it, but someone found out the day the promo was being offered and I called my travel agent to warn her I’d be making the arrangements. She hadn’t heard when it was coming out and I could tell she wasn’t convinced I knew either, but was a believer when it actually happened! She wanted to know my source . She said her daughter was on a similar site and always talked about how great it was and all the information that was shared. She wasn’t sure which site it was but looked it up when I was talking to her and yep, you guessed it! It was here!

Originally, we made our reservation at the POP for August 16th to the 23rd for just four of us. My older son is going into his first year of high school this September (ack!) and was hesitant about going with us on the trip. The hubby and I talked about it and then told Alex he could ask a friend to come with him and he was back on board As much as he adores his sister and little brother, there’s just something different about having a friend come along. He would be the one showing them where everything was, and would be experiencing everything brand new again thru their excitement.

So we bumped up our reservation to two rooms and let his friends know they had two weeks to decide if they were coming with us. Southwest Airlines was opening their scheduling dates for August and if they were coming, we’d have to reserve their seats. Unfortunately, none of his friends could come and he was back to deciding if he was going to go with us. I didn’t want to force him to come, I wanted him to want to come. The hubby and I talked about it again and decided to add Disney Quest to our itinerary. We’d never been and it looked like fun… I could see him wavering.

A fellow DISer suggested if I was going to go to Disney Quest, I might as well add the water parks and more option to our tickets because it included Disney Quest and then we could go to the water parks too. Same price…. Sold! See? Such helpful advice! So I pulled out the Disney Vacation Planning DVD we order every year (my daughter has been watching them for years!!) and watched the part about the water parks. We’d never considered going to the water parks because we assumed we’d get all the swimming in that we wanted at the resorts. Um, yeah… its kinda a different experience at the water parks and now I can’t wait to go!! The hubby suggested we add a few extra days to our reservation to give ourselves enough time to enjoy everything but not be rushed about it so then our trip became August 16th to August 25th.

When it came closer to Southwest releasing their scheduling dates, I was going on their site frequently trying to get a heads up on which days would be cheaper to go. Last year when I was booking our flights, I went on their site the morning the dates were released and I had a particular flight up on my screen going thru the purchasing process. I couldn’t get ahold of the hubby on the phone to discuss it with him and in the ten minutes it took me to reach him, the flight price was gone! Ten minutes! So this year I made sure to scope out which days would potentially be the cheapest and we ended up adding another day to our trip, this time at the start. Another recommendation by a fellow DISer was to add a travel day, room only reservation night at the start of our trip. This would allow us to fly in late, spend the night at the resort and wake up the next morning all ready to go. It cost next to nothing to add on the extra day and it would give us more flexibility in our flight arrangements…. Sold! Our trip then finalized at August 15th to August 25th and the morning Southwest released their flights we got great rates.

The trip that almost wasn’t …. was!

I’ll add some pics when I’m home later today…. my work blocks them, grrrr.

Next up…. I never talked about the hits and misses yet but I will… ADRs then and now.
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Old 06-09-2009, 12:27 PM   #5
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Disney at Christmas time is my favorite time too! Even though the snow is fake.
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Old 06-09-2009, 08:50 PM   #6
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Hi!! I'm in We are going August 24-27 and staying at Pop Century also. We can't wait!! We love it there!! Looking forward to reading more of your report!!
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:07 PM   #7
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Arrow 66 sleeps!!!

Welcome Angie1274!

Sorry no post yesterday, I was caught up cheering on the Pittsburgh Penguins

So here are a few pics of previous trips including my hits:

This is the kids on our first trip at Ohana, breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at the Polynesian Resort. Definitely a favorite, we’ve done it each of our three previous trips and will be doing it again this time. We love everything about it from the beautiful resort to the yummy juice to the marching parades. My daughter has a huge grin on her face from start to finish.


1900 Park Fare. My husband and I were soooo impressed by everyone at Disney with how patient and kind they were to my daughter. Trust me, we’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty cruel comments but each time we’ve been to WDW, we’re bowled over by them. They always go above and beyond. In this pic, my daughter is giving Cinderella some serious huggage and Cinderella gave it right back to her!


Autograph books with BIG pens. This was a huge hit during our first trip. Every character that we met signed our autograph book and the kids absolutely loved getting them. Each character signs it a little bit different (Pluto throws it up on his nose), they got to talk to them just a little bit longer and they had a great time looking back over the signatures and looking for any we had missed.


Kim Possible in Epcot. This was a fluke, but when we arrived at Epcot, a Cast Member approached my son and I and asked if we wanted to participate in testing out a new attraction they were putting together. We love watching the Amazing Race and that’s what it felt like to us - zipping threw different countries searching for clues! If you look verrrry closely at the red phone booth, that’s my son inside getting his next clue! Very fun and we’ll definitely be doing it again now that the attraction is out this year.


Turtle Talk with Crush. So. Much. Fun. It was towards the end of the day and there weren’t many people in the room and Crush talked to both my kids. My daughter actually had a conversation with him – more tears!


Pin collecting. Huge, huge hit! They loved going up to the Cast Members and looking over what pins they could trade for, it was so much fun for them.

Ok, so no misses on our first trip. Not surprising because my son still says the first trip we took was The Best. Oh, actually there was one miss but it wasn’t anyone’s fault. On our first trip we didn’t see one firework show. Ariana was petrified of them and would scream very loudly at every explosion. She loved to look at them, but hated the noise. So at the start of every show, we would run out of the park.

Our second trip was the one that I tried to cram in as many things as possible. Big mistake. The biggest hit of the trip however, was the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. So much fun being in costume, in the Magic Kingdom trick or treating. We had an absolute blast and we still randomly just start singing the song that was playing all evening that we never got tired of…. Boo to you and boo to YOU!

We had an equipment malfunction with our video camera, and heartbreakingly, all the video I had taken of our trip could only be played back in what looked like fast forward mode. We all walked and moved very quickly and spoke like the mice in Cinderella, sigh. I had intentionally used our video camera more than our regular camera so my daughter could watch back the movies whenever she wanted, but it didn’t work out.

Two other misses for us were Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner time and the food at Arkershurs in Epcot. Again, not anyone’s fault, they just didn’t work for us. At CRT, we assumed it would be like the breakfast one we had gone to our first trip, but it was only ten minutes of the Fairy Godmother singing a song. My husband and I looked at one another when she was done and both said, “that’s it?!?” simultaneously. To top it off, none of us particularly cared for the food we had so it was a big disappointment all around. At Arkershurs, the princesses were fantastic, you don’t see Ariel (with feet, lol) and Pocahontas visiting anywhere else so we really enjoyed that part of it. But again, we didn’t really enjoy our food at all so we just had a so-so experience there.

The hits were aplenty though: We were determined to condition Ariana into watching the fireworks, so we started off covering her ears for her as tightly as we could. At first she would still try to run away but slowly she started watching the shows and enjoying them. My husband then slowly started uncovering her ears until she eventually could watch them on her own and really love them. Now it’s a highlight of our nights!

More hits: Swimming at the resort - make sure you give yourself at least a full day to just hang out at the resort, we did this last year and it was one of the more memorably fun days. The Transit Authority at Magic Kingdom – always fun to just chill out and enjoy the views. The evil stepmother and stepsisters at 1900 Park Fare - they switched out the mice for these new characters and they are absolutely hysterical! The Jungle Cruise of course – we were spoiled with the guide we had on our first trip. No one yet has been as funny as he was! Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial – can’t wait to see the really good skit (looks just like Johnny Depp, sigh) on the new stage built for it. And lastly, the character greet with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee across from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I’m not sure if Mr. Smee is like this with all children or if he just has plenty of experience, but when we briefly explained to the characters that Ariana was autistic and wouldn’t necessarily answer them if they asked her questions, Mr. Smee gently placed his hand under her chin and slowly raised her head until she was looking directly into his face. Tremendous interaction between the two of them and when it was time for the next child in line and Ariana started to walk away waving, Mr. Smee took her hand and pretended to go skipping on his merry way with her, lol. Ariana was thrilled he was coming with her until mean old Captain Hook demanded he come back!

Next post…. ADRs then and now. I promise.
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:22 PM   #8
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Okay, hope this helps. A fellow Dis'er Lady Lallie helped me out getting the link in my signature from my PTR. Here are her instructions which I found very easy to follow:

You would copy the web address...I assume you know how to do that.

Then you'd edit your signature.

Type out your title or whatever you want your link to say.

"MinnieNurse goes to Disney" for instance.

Then you highlight that with your mouse the entire title.

Then click on the little glove with the paperclip looking thing on it, it's near where you can edit your font and such on a post.

Then paste the web address in there and voila, you have link!


Good luck. We will just miss you at WDW we will be there 8/2-8/9.
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnieNurse View Post
Okay, hope this helps. A fellow Dis'er Lady Lallie helped me out getting the link in my signature from my PTR. Here are her instructions which I found very easy to follow:

You would copy the web address...I assume you know how to do that.

Then you'd edit your signature.

Type out your title or whatever you want your link to say.

"MinnieNurse goes to Disney" for instance.

Then you highlight that with your mouse the entire title.

Then click on the little glove with the paperclip looking thing on it, it's near where you can edit your font and such on a post.

Then paste the web address in there and voila, you have link!


Good luck. We will just miss you at WDW we will be there 8/2-8/9.
Thanks! It worked! Now I'm off to read yours !
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:35 PM   #10
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On to ADRs past and now!

Our first trip had our ADRs arranged by my travel agent. I had no idea what was there, didn’t know to look them up on the computer (my how things have changed!) and so just left it totally in her hands based on her experience of what was good. Here’s what she booked for us, 30 days before our trip:

Day 1 – Crystal Palace 5:25pm
Day 2 – Cinderella’s Royal Table 9:45am
Day 3 – Cape May Café 10:00am
Day 4 – Ohana Breakfast 10:00am
Day 5 – 1900 Park Fare 5:50pm
Day 6 – Chef Mickey 6:20pm
Day 7 – Mickey’s Backyard BBQ 6:30pm

Knowing what I know now about how quickly ADRs can go, I’m surprised she got us what she did. We’ve gone each year on our trip around the same time period. We really enjoyed each reservation she made for us, but ended up canceling the Backyard BBQ. By the last day we were ready to just relax and take it easy. We are definitely the stay late and sleep in the next morning kinda family.

The second year we didn’t stray a lot from favorites and went again to the Crystal Palace, 1900 Park Fare, Ohana, Chef Mickey and the aforementioned disastrous CRT for dinner as well as the so-so Arkershurs. I went for earlier times so we could spend more time in the parks and that backfired on me. We were always tired and in a rush. Time for a new plan.

Last year we stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside and wanted to make sure we gave ourselves time to relax. The year before my daughter had taken to announcing first thing in the morning which park she wanted to go to, regardless of what meals we had booked. We don’t get the park hopper option, so where we planned was where we had to go. This would usually cause her to get anxious if her plans didn’t match ours and we would spend a good part of each day convincing her our plans were better . So for last year, I put together a picture itinerary using photos from past visits and internet photos for new plans.



I hung it up on the fridge about a week before we went, and she had her own copy she could look at during the trip whenever she wanted to. She then just followed the schedule and she had no problems at all.

It’s a little tough to read, but last year we did try new things and I made sure to call as soon as possible for the more popular things we’d never been to like Le Cellier.

We went to Crystal Palace


Cape May, Ohana


Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood and Vine (to check out my younger son’s favorites Little Einsteins!) Le Cellier, and the previously cancelled Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.

The Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood and Vine was great, except that my DS3 Demetri for whom we had booked this for, was sick from the air conditioning in the room (this happens to him everytime – anyone else find this?) He wasn’t grumpy or anything but he definitely was not as into it as we’d hoped he would.


Everyone to Rocket… rev it up now!!


LeCellier was fantastic and we had a great time! Mmmmm, steak with mushroom risotto (drool!)

Next we went to the Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. Friends of ours had gone to the one we’d cancelled from two years earlier and said they had a blast. Course, they took full advantage of the drink-all-you-want part of the night so yeah, they had a good time. My husband and I don’t drink so that wasn’t a perk for us and personally, while I’m glad we did it to see what it was all about, I wouldn’t go again.


It was a good show….


and the kids enjoyed dancing with the characters…..

…. but for me, it was a long way to get there on an open boat in the rain and I wasn’t really up for the mob fest that was all the kids clamoring around the characters. I didn’t like having to fight the crowds for the kids to get their turns to dance and I was ready to go well before it was actually over. That’s just me.


We even unexpectedly got into the Coral Reef Restaurant as walk-ins the evening of the day we spent at the resort. We had decided we wanted to catch some fireworks after a full day of swimming, and opted for dinner instead when they could take us. Tip: Don’t ask at the Epcot customer service if they have available dining space, they’ll likely say no like they did to us. Instead walk right into the restaurant and ask if they have space. We were seated within 15 minutes. Bonus!


Next up… this years ADRs.
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Old 06-10-2009, 10:12 PM   #11
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Ohana's breakfast is a favorite of ours as well. We were able to get an ADR for our last day. We are so excited to go back as my boys love Stitch. My oldest is still talking about the yummy juice.

That's so awesome that your kids were able to talk to Crush. That show is so much fun. My son had his question all ready on our last trip in April. It was so cute!! Unfortunately he wasn't picked but I told him that maybe he would get his chance next time.

We also missed the fireworks on our first visit. My son didn't like the sound of them and we didn't want to take any chances. Our last trip though he loved them.
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Angies1274 View Post
Ohana's breakfast is a favorite of ours as well. We were able to get an ADR for our last day. We are so excited to go back as my boys love Stitch. My oldest is still talking about the yummy juice.

That's so awesome that your kids were able to talk to Crush. That show is so much fun. My son had his question all ready on our last trip in April. It was so cute!! Unfortunately he wasn't picked but I told him that maybe he would get his chance next time.

We also missed the fireworks on our first visit. My son didn't like the sound of them and we didn't want to take any chances. Our last trip though he loved them.
We love Stitch too. One new thing we want to check out this year is a tip we read here - 'If you sit on the stone ledge on the side of the castle, you will hear Stitch giggle and tell you to be quiet because he's hiding!' Can't wait to get the kids to take a break and listen!
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:21 PM   #13
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New post coming up, but I wanted to ask people's opinion about the Flame Tree BBQ in AK. I'd heard much good things about it, but l've also heard now there are lots of birds. Is it still a great place to go? Or do the birds bother too much?
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:34 PM   #14
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I don't know about the birds, but even if there are a lot, I'll still go to it. I think it's the best counterservice.
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Old 06-11-2009, 08:18 PM   #15
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I don't know about the birds, but even if there are a lot, I'll still go to it. I think it's the best counterservice.
I'm pretty sure we'll still go to it but I'm hoping its not an issue. I remember when we were poolside at the POR the birds were so brazen they were landing on people's tables and eating their food!
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