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Old 09-05-2009, 08:43 PM   #1
marciemi
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Mom and teenage son take on Pop and Free dining Aug 24-30. NEW Summary!

Day 0

Ok, I’m going to start off with the pre-trip report well after the trip! But I figure I need a day zero at least to introduce everyone (all two of us) and start the trip off right. I’m Marcie and I’m a Disneyholic (everyone...Hi Marcie!). No wait, that’s for something else! Anyways, although we’re huge Disney fans here, our lack of proximity to WDW has made it so we’ve pretty much only been able to do trips about every 2 years. Now that the kids are older and have SO much in their schedules, and everyone is a Disney “adult” and not everyone is as into Disney as I am, we started thinking about a mother/son trip about a year ago when reading about free dining then. Since our kids go back to school here a bit later than a lot of areas (Sept 1st), and with free dining starting earlier, we thought maybe we could squeeze in a trip at the end of summer. But with two of the kids having soccer starting in early August at the high school, there was no way we could all go.

My middle son, Stephen (16 shortly before the trip) is my only “true” Disney fan. He also had been feeling the “middle child” syndrome lately – seems like his brothers are in many activities that they do a lot of travel for, while he gets shuffled around or gets left home. We decided that a mother/son trip might fit the bill – help him to have some fun away from his brothers and allow me to get my Disney fix! Of course the free dining appealed to both of us, so once they announced it back in late March, we went ahead and booked Pop Century. The goal was to do the trip as inexpensively as possible – 6 nights, no park hoppers, no rental car, no water parks. Just do the main parks and of course...the FOOD!

Well, the most important part of any Disney trip is a well organized countdown calendar. I knew from our last trip in 2007 that I could get 77 days worth of Home Depot Mickey heads on a science fair type poster board. So now I had to come up with 77 days of trivia – appropriate for a teenager, and that I hadn’t used before and that he wouldn’t know. And without his help. In 2007, he helped me search the internet, scour books, pick the best trivia, and put it all together for the rest of the family. This time since the rest of the family wasn’t coming, of course they didn’t want to help out and I wanted it to be a surprise for him. So it was all up to me. Honestly, getting all the trivia and the pictures was the hardest part. Putting the calendar together was a bit time consuming, but fun as it all came together.

Here is my son with the completed calendar, hanging in his room:



A closer look at the calendar:



His room with an awesome comforter I found at a garage sale – doesn’t it match the calendar nicely?



A couple close-ups of the pictures or numbers:





And finally, an example of the trivia:



Of course the next thing to do was to plan our ADR’s. Stephen and I downloaded the menu app on our iphone, and spent hours looking over the menus, discussing possibilities, and making choices, alternates, and alternates for the alternates! We read horror stories the week before we made our ADR’s 90 days out of people not being able to get anything they wanted, and even practiced making calls before – to know the prompts and the right buttons. This was of course before online ADR’s. Come 6am (central) on May 26th, we were ready to go!

Well, we got nearly everything we wanted. Got Le Cellier, but couldn’t snag either a Tusker House lunch with the Nemo seating or an ‘Ohana dinner any day of our trip. We reworked and booked Coral Reef instead. I called every day for the next several days, and finally got a 9:40pm for ‘Ohana – probably not the best time for Rope Drop Warriors like us! I was posting on the August ADR’s wanted/trade/etc. thread and found another DIS’er with the exact same time. With younger kids, she wasn’t happy about the time either. We discussed seeing if there was any way we could get a reservation with a party of 6 (if we all went together). I called and VOILA! Got one for all of us at 5:15pm! We started emailing one another and felt that by the time we ate dinner together 3 months later that we already knew each others’ families! It was a lot of fun and a way to meet someone from another party of the country. (Plus I was wondering if Stephen would be getting sick of me by that point in the trip!).

Once online ADR’s came out, we did a little bit of fiddling with the times on a few of them as some things came available, but for the most part, stuck with what we had during those first couple days. Going with a teenage boy, we wanted to do several of the buffet or family style “all you can eat” restaurants, so we chose a lot of those. The more we looked at the menus, the more excited we got. We had a garage sale in mid-July, and set the money aside into tip envelopes so we’d be ready when we got there!

Then we decided that we just didn’t want to be dependent on buses all the time. I was worried about getting to the parks on time in the mornings (as you’ll see in later pics, we’re determined to always be first at a turnstile). I also can never find a comfortable pair of shoes to last all day at Disney, and since we were planning several long days, I thought with a car I could at least bring a spare pair of shoes and run out and change during the day (well, not at MK, but at the rest). Fares seemed to be in the $250-300 range, but finally, about a month before the trip, I found a basic car for $170. So we decided to go with the car and make our lives simpler. Of course with Stephen’s navigational skills (or lack of!!), that may not have ended up being the case, but I think it was a good decision overall. Getting the car with the black leather interior was definitely not a good decision, but I didn’t realize that until we did all the paperwork and climbed in. I strongly recommend checking out your interior before deciding on a car!

Unfortunately, I had a very busy time coming up before the trip itself. My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on August 22nd back in Michigan, and my brothers and I had decided that we’d all fly home to spend time with them that weekend. Well, of course that spiraled into a party, family portraits and a vow renewal ceremony at the church. I ended up trying to coordinate much of that from home (none of us live in the same state as my parents) and flew out on Friday afternoon. I returned Sunday afternoon with enough time to unpack, repack, and try to get some sleep before driving the two hours down to Milwaukee early the next morning for our flight! As if we didn’t have enough stress already!!

So I guess that’s it for the pretrip! I made it home, luckily on time, and did all the last minute checklist things I had written up that simply couldn’t be packed before I left for Michigan. We tried to get to bed early so we’d be ready for the 5am wakeup call! One quick picture of both of us from the trip here, just so you know what we look like!



Hope all of you enjoy the report and I’ll be glad to answer any questions! Looking forward to sharing our journey with all of you!
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Old 09-05-2009, 08:53 PM   #2
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Aw! I love the calendar!
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:51 PM   #3
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Hey, Marcie! Checking in!! Can't wait for the rest. Your son has a very cool mom!
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:10 AM   #4
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Hey there Marcie, I am here and waiting...so far so good

My youngest ds is sitting on my lap and he wanted me to use the "banana"!!!
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Old 09-06-2009, 05:27 PM   #5
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Day 1

Glad to see all of you around - thanks for stopping by and reading!

Okay, on to the actual trip report! Day 1 went as well as we could have scripted it, which is always a good thing! We decided we had to be out of the house by 5:30am, which didn’t end up being that hard. My husband and oldest son were coming down with us to Milwaukee, and were heading on to the Great Lakes Naval Station north of Chicago for a tour after that. My older son is usually good at getting up, and my husband is normally up by that point, so they weren’t a problem. I did have to wake Stephen up, but since we were both excited to get going, it didn’t take us long to get up and out of there, just a few minutes behind schedule.

We didn’t encounter any trouble and made it to the Milwaukee airport by about 7:40. Got the bag checked and through security quickly. Possibly a bit too quickly, since when we looked at the breakfast options in our gate area, they were very limited. Finally decided on a ham and cheese and “generic preformed egg substance patty”. Stephen opted to discard his egg patty. This was not particularly good, but we needed something in our stomachs since our flight left at 9:25am and didn’t get into Orlando until after 2:30pm (with a short stop in St. Louis – not enough time to get off and get anything). Our flight boarded on time, and we were delayed by a short medical emergency while they requested a doctor onboard. Not sure what the problem was, since it was up in business class, but they resolved it quickly (I don’t think the passenger got off) and took off. Made it in and out of St. Louis without incident. Although we haven’t been happy with Air Tran’s schedule changes (3 major changes in the first month after we booked our reservation), our experience with them this time and in the past is that they have the quickest, most efficient boarding of any airline out there.

We landed in Orlando nearly 20 minutes ahead of schedule and got off quickly. Here’s where we made one small mistake. We had our car rented from 3pm on Monday through 3pm on Sunday, and since our flight on Sunday wasn’t until after 5, I figured we didn’t want to get to the car rental too early since it was only about 2:30 at this point. We decided to wait for our luggage together, rather than splitting up. Of course it took quite awhile for the first bag to make it onto the carousel, and by the time we got ours and walked down to car rental, there was a pretty long line. We did all the paperwork and had to go out to the garage and choose a car, and go through the whole checklist there. By the time we actually left, it was closer to 3:30, so we really could have started on that process earlier.

However, after settling in to our very hot black leather seats (did I mention this was a mistake!), Stephen had already plotted Pop Century into his iphone so we headed off. We made it there without any issue (although $3.00 in tolls!), which was about the only time that happened this week (not getting lost, not the paying tolls part!).

We had checked in online, but it really didn’t make a difference since when we walked into Pop shortly before 4pm, we were the ONLY people in either check in line. Went to the online one, handed the CM my Drivers’ License, she handed me a packet and our room keys, and we were ready to go. Well, not really, since I’d never been to Pop before, didn’t know where to go, and wanted to make sure we were on the top floor in a quiet area like we’d requested. She pulled out a map of the property, showed us where our room was and where to park, and we headed off.

We had no trouble finding the room:


We were on the 4th floor in the 50’s section. Our room overlooked kind of a woodsy area, although we could see some of the 60’s and if we looked right, some of the lake. I decided to do some unpacking, and Stephen went down to the Bowling Pin pool for a quick swim. Timing worked out well – I had most things unpacked by the time he got back, and put him to work hanging our Packers’ decals on our window:



We had problems with these since they were obviously designed to hang on the outside of the window, not inside. We hung them all facing out and they kept falling off. Finally, we turned them backwards and figured people could still figure them out. Even so, they still kept falling off throughout the week – oh well, it was an idea!

We got some ice and filled our water bottles and headed off to Epcot. We had a 7:10 ADR for Garden Grill, but we’d met some TGM’ers online that we were hoping to meet up with. They had a 6:00 ADR, so we were optimistic that if we arrived together for theirs, that they might be able to seat all of us at that time. I hadn’t wanted to try to change ours, just in case our flight was late. So we made it to Epcot by around 5:00. Again didn’t get lost, but that was due in part to the many large signs all over Disney property – we quickly found that getting TO a park wasn’t the problem, but finding Pop again afterwards was.

One piece of quick advice here that I’d read on the boards. We brought a Packers’ car flag and put it on our car window. I can’t tell you how many times this helped us find our car. We never saw another car that used this idea – even with a different flag. At the parks we tried hard to remember where we were parked, but at our resort and the other resorts (we ate at 3 different resorts during the week) and Downtown Disney, we didn’t always do such a great job. Definitely a life (okay, maybe just time) saver! I will recommend though that you put it on a back window, NOT the driver’s window because then every time you open the window when you enter your resort to put your card in the gate, the flag will fall off and you won’t notice until you drive a bit and then you’ll have to stop the car and run back and get it and everyone will look at you like you’re very, very clueless. Just hypothetically of course!

Anyways, we got there and got a very close parking place and walked into the park. Through the gate with no trouble and since Stephen’s favorite ride is Test Track, we headed there to try to grab a FP first. Well, didn’t have to go all the way there because we could quickly see that the board said that all FP’s had been distributed, and it currently had a 120 minute wait! Decided even the single rider line would most likely be too long right now, so we headed back and did Spaceship Earth without a wait. This was closed on our last trip in 2007 so we enjoyed the changes, and especially the fun ending sequence. Unfortunately, we chose the Spanish option, which although Stephen’s in Spanish 4, and I had many years of Spanish, was just a bit beyond our grasp. We knew we could handle most of the written Spanish on the screen (and we were right), but had forgotten about all the narration, which was a little too quick for our limited comprehension skills! Vowed to choose English next time!

We decided to head over to the Land for Garden Grill since it was about 5:45 by this point. Right then we got a text from Kerry (the TGM’er we were meeting) and her family saying they said they probably could seat us together and to head over. Got there quickly, got a buzzer, and were all seated together by about 6:00 anyways!

Now, keeping in mind that we hadn’t really eaten anything since our crummy airport breakfast around 8am, we were starving (for about the only time during this whole week)! We got both the kids and the adult options at the meal, since Kerry was traveling with her daughter, Nicole, and grandchildren (Logan and Mackenzie). On that note, the best part about this trip was meeting so many people I’d communicated with online through both the DIS and TGM, and Mackenzie and Logan were definitely at the top of the list! Seeing Disney through the eyes of younger kids helps give you a true appreciation of Disney (especially when they’re not your kids and you don’t have to have them 24/7 – just the fun parts!) Back to the food though, we went through several platefuls of all the types of food, and since neither of the kids liked the macaroni and cheese, Stephen was willing to eat the two bowls of it they’d brought by himself. Along with I think 8 pieces of the flank steak, several servings of salad, and some of everything else! Stephen set as a goal for the trip to gain as much weight as he could. Unfortunately, I was much more successful in this regard than he was! He’s about 6’1 and 140 pounds, so he could use the weight. Me – not so much! In the meantime, we tried to get pictures with all the characters:





You’ll note in the pictures that Stephen is a good head taller than Mickey these days. He actually had fun figuring out how many (or more correctly, how few) of the characters he would be able to play if he ever worked at WDW! Well, we wrapped up dinner with dirt and worms (pudding and gummy worms) for everyone except Kerry, who was willing to try the blueberry buckle. I tried a bite of it, but it was too much blueberry for me! We said goodbye to our new friends and headed out! (Actually, we’d met Kerry and Nicole a couple weeks earlier in Milwaukee on a drive out to Detroit, but since it was a surprise trip for the kids, we hadn’t met them yet).

Well, we got out of dinner around 7:10, just a tad bit too late to head to either Imagination or Nemo, so we decided to try our luck at Test Track again. Unfortunately, that luck wasn’t good, since it had started to rain in the meantime. We determined it wasn’t running, so decided to head up into World Showcase and try a few of the attractions there. We made it onto the Gran Fiesta Tour ride in Mexico, but with the “no speak English, take lots of flash photography” group ahead of us! (Who incidentally spoke English quite well except when being told not to take flash photographs). The young woman ahead of me was the biggest offender, so after the 3rd or 4th picture, I tapped her and explained the rules. She just shook her head. Took another pic. So I tapped her and told her again. This went on for several pics and eventually she probably decided she was tired of listening to me, so she stopped taking the pictures. Of course the rest of her group further up didn’t, but at least theirs weren’t effectively right in my face. Always lots of fun.

Quick picture of Stephen before heading into WS:



When we got off, it was still raining lightly, so we walked up to Norway. The line for Maelstrom was still long (I believe 40 min), so we grabbed a FP and decided to go try Test Track again and come back for the FP later. We got in the single rider line, which showed 20 minutes (but the regular line was still 90 so we decided it would be the best bet). It wasn’t actually that long, because in about 10 minutes we were near the front where you go into the briefing room. Right at this point, I got a text from Kerry, asking where we were. I called her and she told me they were heading out of the park and had Soarin’ and Test Track FP’s if we wanted to come meet them. We quickly decided to let Stephen go in and ride single rider, and I weaved my way back through the line to meet her. Got many glares from people while I was doing it and people would look at me like they were going to say something, then figure out I was going OUT of the line, rather than cutting into it. So I met them, and got their 4 Test Track and 2 Soarin’ FP’s! Looking good!

As soon as Stephen came out, we decided to ride again using the FP. Went in, probably waited 10 minutes and rode with no problem. But by this time it was getting late – probably 8:30 so we figured there was no way we’d have time to ride it again and make it to Soarin’. We decided to give our extra two FP’s away to another couple. We watched them as we headed out and the CM at the entrance REFUSED the FP’s! We paused and watched them argue. Now granted they were from late morning and it was nearly park closing, but they’d taken ours without any problem (for the same time). We were shocked because we’d simply never seen this happen before, and I’ve been using “late” FP’s since 2003 when I found out about it on the Disneyland boards. I then felt really, really bad because I’m certain they figured that we knew they weren’t any good and that was why we’d given them away. Sigh.

So all we could figure was that maybe in the last half hour or so, they stopped accepting late ones in order to close the ride down on time. We headed over to Soarin’, without any real confidence they’d take our FP’s (which also were for an early afternoon time). But we got in with no problem – so I guess it just depends on the CM. However, we timed it wrong. We found this happened EVERY time we went to Soarin’ during the course of the week. Got there about 5 people after a “flight” had filled and had to wait for the next one. Now, the positive flip side of this is that nearly every time we then ended up in the front row (on the side, but I still would prefer the front row to center section in another row – those dangling feet are distracting!). We did get a chance to talk to a couple funny CM’s this way – one time they had one slot remaining in the previous flight and asked for any volunteers “Any solo aviators?...Anyone flying alone? Anyone not like the party they’re with?” Stephen and I both tried to volunteer at this point, but they didn’t really believe us!

So by the time we waited, got on, and then off again, it was nearly 9:15. We knew Illuminations would be ending soon, and wanted to beat the crowd out. Literally, we walked outside and could tell the finale was going on, so made a quick dash for the exit. Out to our car, out of the lot, and onto the road. Um, it might have been better to take a few minutes to establish just exactly where we were heading first. Stephen’s trying to pull Pop up on the phone again and I’m driving and he’s insisting we’re going the right way. Hm... I’m not quite as sure as he is. I know I’m not sure when we next encounter the MK parking lot. Nowhere to turn around, so we go through the tollbooths (not manned anymore since it’s about 9:30 at this point) and follow the signs to the exit. So although we managed to beat the crowds out of Epcot, it’s always nice to try to catch up to them at the Magic Kingdom too! Meanwhile, I’m explaining to Stephen that I know that Pop and Epcot are fairly close and that MK is nowhere near them!

So eventually we get back. Getting late at this time, so we quickly get some ice and some cold water, decide we’re not up to finding the food court or refillable mugs tonight and that we just need some sleep. Find everything we need for the morning, figure out the alarm clock and call for a wakeup call, and day one is done!
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:22 PM   #6
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Great TR

Keep it coming
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:31 PM   #7
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Stephen's cute

And he's my age

(Plus, I'm in Spanish 4 this year, too)

You've got me on board!
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:38 AM   #8
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Hey Marcie:

Great trip report. Love the picture of you and Stephen at GG. Can't wait to read more.

Maryann
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:25 AM   #9
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You're off to a great start and I'm looking forward to reading more!
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Old 09-07-2009, 04:01 PM   #10
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lol, I love funny "getting lost" stories!! Can't wait for more!
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:10 PM   #11
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Day 2 - Part One

Day 2

I’m glad to have all of you reading! Today will be the test, since it’s a LLOOOONNNGG one!

Well, today our plan for the day was a mistake, but thanks to the weather, it all worked out for the best. We decided that since we were early in the trip, rested, and it was just two motivated teen/adults, that we could easily do MK from opening until our ADR at Whispering Canyon at 5pm. I will say in retrospect that I won’t try to do that again. However, since the evening ended up being non-stop rain and storms, we were at least able to accomplish everything we wanted to – just a bit more hot, tired, cranky and sweaty than we would have wanted to!

We are definitely type-A people. I’ve never gone to a park and arrived at like 10 or 11am. Have no idea what it would be like to arrive with the masses, and really don’t want to find out! We have park-hopped in the past, so I’ve arrived places early afternoon, but I think that has to be better than late morning, and by then we’ve usually accomplished a whole day’s worth of plans anyways! Most days on this trip we decided we wanted to be hungry for our CS and TS meals, so we’d just brought a few granola bars to hold us during the morning. Mickey woke us up bright and early, and we were showered and in the car quickly, and ate our “breakfast” on the way.

Made it to the monorail by about 7:50, which was still fairly late for us. But we figured with the fact that MK has 2 internal rope drops, plus the fact that we weren’t heading to a popular location first, that we didn’t need to be quite as early. Found someone to take our pic on the monorail:



Of course we were still early to the turnstiles, which gave us a brief chance to get on suntan lotion and talk to the CM’s:



However, when I say brief, I mean brief. Unlike all of the other parks, where we were let in at say 8:45 or so (what I was expecting), at MK they started to let people through the turnstiles early. As in 8:15. As in I was still sitting on the ground and hadn’t even thought of digging my KTTW card out of my fanny pack. Suddenly we realize people are going in and we’re sitting there. I frantically pull out our cards while the people behind us glare at our cluelessness – yep, I would have been doing the same thing! But we get in with no trouble and find a shady spot near one of the tunnel entrances. On the key note, I will say that the plastic key cards you get from the resorts are WAY better than the papery tickets you get if you purchase them online from somewhere else. On our last trip, I would say nearly every time we went into a park someone’s ticket wouldn’t work and we’d have to go to guest relations – sometimes they’d pass us through and just tell us to get it replaced before we left that day, other times we’d have to go over there immediately. With the plastic keys this never happened once.

Anyways, before we’d left we’d bought a lot of 50 pins on ebay for I think $1.20 per pin. Our goal was to trade the “less fun” pins that we’d received for character ones and then pass them out to kids who needed some “magic”. So we had our first Ziploc baggie of pins in my fanny pack and managed to find a couple CM’s to trade the boring pins with for some Mickey/Tink/Pooh ones. The CM’s handed out confetti (Mickey heads) and we were ready to count down. We got in the park and made our way down Main Street. We were surprised by the bubble blowing trash cans – hadn’t seen those before!



(Okay, I know, not the best picture, but it’s hard to do while moving quickly!). We worked our way over to the entrance between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (nearest Pooh). Went to get a quick picture with the Photopass photographer and realized we’d already managed to lose the Photopass card we’d gotten the previous evening. Luckily I’d already texted the number on it to my husband to look up the pics, so we didn’t lose those (eventually we would find that card in our hotel room). But we got a new card and back to the second rope. Where we were the only ones waiting. A CM came to lead us to our first attraction choice, and when I say lead us there, he led us (and ONLY us) ALL the way through the line queue and onto the ride platform! Well, since we were the only ones on the ride, I took a few pictures of the ride with flash photography (gasp!), which you’ve probably already figured out my feelings toward!



Off Pooh, and onto Snow White. We quickly decide that this is one that although we always seem to have to do for old times’ sake, we can probably skip in the future. On to Peter Pan, where we wait maybe a couple minutes. We both enjoy this ride, but we always do!



At this point, I have Stephen break off to get our Splash Mountain FP’s while I walk quickly to Big Thunder. Evidently I don’t walk fast enough, because he’s already there waiting for me, FP’s in hand, as I get close (yes, it’s easy to pick him out in this shirt!). We ride this with nearly no wait – just getting through the long queue line. As we board, Stephen realizes that one of the CM’s has a pin that he’s been looking for – one of the Pirate Mickey series (our high school mascot is the Pirates). We determine that it’s probably not a good time to trade, and wait until after the ride. Stephen trades for Pirate Goofy, and is now determined to collect all the pins in that series (despite my intentions to give pins to kids – not 16 year olds related to me!). Oh well, what can you do?

We head from here to Pirates of the Caribbean. Not a huge fan of the ride, but on a day like today we’re a huge fan of the cool air inside! We ride and enjoy the song at least with the air and too quickly it’s time to head back out into the heat and sun. We go to Jungle Cruise, again with no wait. We weren’t impressed with our “skipper” this time – a college aged girl who mumbled the whole spiel into the microphone. Stephen managed to catch a few of the jokes, but most people (myself included) were looking at her blankly. Okay, whatever – we’ll come back to this one on our next day here! The picture from this is back in post 1!

Off JC, and time to go back across the park to Haunted Mansion – this was closed during our trip in 2007, so we’re interested in seeing the changes. One funny story here – we’re walking into the darkness of the stretch room (again after waiting only a minute or so). I notice my son has his iphone out, texting his friends, which is of course illuminating the room. I turn to him and hiss “Put the phone AWAY!” Well, the teenage boy in front of me looks startled, and quickly slips HIS iphone into his pocket! I tried to explain quickly that I wasn’t talking to him, but I don’t think he bought it! We did manage to pick out a few changes in this ride, but not a lot since it’s been so long since we have ridden it. We still enjoy the ride though, except for the fact that when we get to the part where the ghost hitchhikers join your car, the car in front of ours contained a girl who was NOT happy about that fact. VERY not happy, as in screaming at the top of her lungs. We got off the ride and I was surprised to see that she was probably around 7 or so, not the 2 or 3 year old I was expecting. Stephen (with a teenager’s sense of humor) said to me that he could go up to her and tell her "It’s okay, it’s all over, it’s not like the ghosts will follow you home or anything....oh, wait, that’s what they said isn’t it? Well....good luck!”

We quickly figured out the way to get rid of any of these ghosts was to head directly to It’s a Small World. No self respecting ghost would be caught dead in there. We ride and it’s the same as always. On our trip in 2005, I was really disappointed that this ride was closed. The last two trips, I’ve wondered just exactly why I felt that way! Okay, we did it – we can check it off our list.

We are planning to meet Kerry and family in Pinocchio’s Village Haus at 11 when they open and thought it would be around that time now, but it’s only 10:30 at this point, so we decide we can use our Splash Mountain FP’s. Back over there quickly, grab a new set, ride with literally no wait. This is one area where I have to say Disney just excels. With the exception of our poor timing at Soarin’, everywhere else we rode with Fast Passes – we literally walked onto the rides. They do a great job of keeping that line short, which of course makes us question why people would wait in a 60 minute or longer line, rather than just getting one themselves! Oh well – ours is not to reason why!



Yes, that’s us in the front – I know you can tell! Incidentally, I always tried to take photos like this of the monitors. Maybe half of them came out clear and crisp. The other half like this or worse. Not sure if they’re scrambling them now or something so people don’t do this – I know on our last trip we got a lot of nice pics of the monitors. This time, not so many.

I send Stephen back ahead to Pinocchio’s so that we can grab a table overlooking Small World. Why? Who knows – it just seemed like a cool thing to do when we read about the restaurant on the boards. I get there and find him and Kerry and her family join us shortly after. We go in line to get the food (although there’s not really a line yet) and quickly have pizzas, salads, sodas and desserts. Yes, just starting to find out that even the CS meals are WAY too much food for me. Stephen manages to polish off his food, but I only eat about half of my pizza (which was just normal pizza – nothing spectacular, but not bad either). I eat a little of my salad, and a few bites of my dessert (strawberry cheesecake; Stephen had the chocolate cake). Didn’t get any food pictures from here, but at least one of us with Small World in the background:



We decide to do a few rides with Kerry and her crew, especially since Mackenzie is a big fan of spinning fast on the Tea Cups (as are Stephen and I), but the rest of her family is not. We decide to do Philharmagic first, and by now Mackenzie and Logan are best buddies with Stephen:





Well, of course the kids loved this ride and Stephen thought it was hilarious watching them trying to grab at the 3D objects. We headed from here to the Tea Cups. I ran ahead and grabbed a FP for us for later for Buzz Lightyear, and still made it back in time to join them in the tea cup. A picture of Stephen with his new best friend:



We come off the ride and Kerry is motioning to us to follow her quickly. We get in a line, to realize it’s a character meet with the Stepmother and Stepsisters from Cinderella. Not something we’d do normally, but hey – we have little kids with us. We let them go up first and get their pictures and autograph books. Then it’s our turn (with many curious looks from the families of small children behind us!). The characters here were hilarious. We walk up and the Stepmother takes a look at Stephen’s Guest of Honor nametag (which we had made back in 1997 at the 25th Anniversary party). She turns to him and says “Guest of Honor? Why? What did YOU do?” Meanwhile, one of the stepsisters starts bowing deeply and saying “Oh – Guest of Honor, Guest of Honor” while the mother is snapping at her to knock it off! Bowing to Stephen:



The family shot:



Well, it was time to say goodbye to the Kerry Crew as they headed back to their hotel for a swim (really, this would have been the best thing to do at this point!). But we figured we were doing mostly indoor stuff, so we’d be okay. We quickly grabbed another FP for Buzz and then went in and watched Monsters, Inc. We really enjoyed this show each time we did it. Stephen texted some jokes this time, but none of his were chosen. But it was nice and cool and we were both laughing much of the show.

We went from here over to Carousel of Progress. Another one that we just have to do every time. Part way through though Stephen was whispering to me “I’m bored”. I pointed out it was cool, he was sitting, deal with it. Not too long later, it was done and we were ready to head to Buzz to use our FP’s. We never do spectacularly on this ride, and even with the ride stopping for a minute, we both score somewhere in the 200,000 range each time we ride. But it’s still fun. Ride photo on the way out:



Next we decide that we want to go over to Frontierland. Rather than walk all the way, it sounds like a better idea to take the train. So we take the secret trail (okay, not really) by Space Mountain over to Toontown. Since much of the area is barricaded, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to get to it, but finally we find the trail. We stop for a couple pictures on the way:



Stephen’s opinion of Space Mountain being closed:



We get there right as a train is pulling away, so we sit down to rest. We get on the train finally, and another family joins us with three young girls. By now everyone is hot, crowded, and cranky as the train finally pulls off. We stop at the Main Street Station, and a lot of passengers disembark. So part of the family moves to the row behind us, in order to have some more room. Meanwhile, mom and middle daughter (probably 5 or so) remain. The girl is NOT happy. She is pouting, turning away from her mom and whenever she looks at her, sticking out her tongue. I mention to Stephen that she looks like she needs a pin. I pull out one of our Tink pins and Stephen gives it to her. Well, her attitude did a 180 degree change. Her face lights up and she gets all excited. Gets mom to pin it on her Princess dress and is all excited that she has a pin. Then the sibling rivalry thing kicks in (yep, ALWAYS with my kids too) as she turns to her sisters in the row behind her just gloating that she now has a pin (and they don’t). It was just hilarious to watch. We get off at the next station and she grabs Stephen’s hand and says “Thank you, thank you, thank you SO much!” However, she was covered with glitter, and after that, so was Stephen!

We handed out a lot of pins during the week and many times the kids/parents just took them and said thanks, sometimes they were more excited, and many times the people we chose obviously didn’t speak English but would get the idea and smile and nod when you gave the pin to their child. But this one was definitely the most fun! One other funny one was when Stephen gave a Mickey pin to a young boy – maybe 4 or so. He had a British accent (didn’t know this until he gave it to him) and the boy spent the next few minutes in line saying (in completely accented tones) “I got a Mickey. Father, I got a Mickey!” We will definitely do this on our next trip because it was just an easy way to share in some of the joy of young kids at Disney (since I no longer have those cute young kids anymore!).

Anyways...(yes, just a short OT there!). We get to Splash Mountain, again use our FP, and again marvel at all the people standing in the long standby line:



Head over to Adventureland and decide that before we do anything else, we need to use a snack credit to get something cool. We look at our Dining app on our phone and decide slushes sound good. Head over to Aloha Isle, and apparently everyone else has the same idea. This was definitely our longest line of the day. Stephen was asking why they don’t have a fast pass for the snack stands! We get our slush, a large glass of ice water, and find some shade. After eating, we quick duck into the next showing of the Tiki Birds. Okay, it’s totally corny, but we both love this show. And it’s a nice break from the heat. We come out and realize the 3pm parade is passing nearby us in Frontierland (we can see it through the restaurant), so we head through to watch for a bit. This is the first time I’ve watched a daytime parade since 1997 (we’re not big parade buffs) and it’s not at all crowded. We manage to walk right up into a shady spot behind a group of kids (all of them a good foot shorter than we are) and watch the parade. Just one token photograph since probably most of you have seen all the parades and I’m not a great photographer!



Well, we’d debated doing the Swiss Family Tree House. Stephen wanted to since it was one attraction he had never done (and the last time I did it was on my first trip in 1978 when I was 12!). I was afraid it would be too hot in the afternoon sun, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that nearly all of it was in the shade. There was (obviously) no line and especially as you get to the top, beautiful views of the rest of the park:







-----Quick break in the action since I have too many image codes - Part Two continued below!------
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:14 PM   #12
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Day 2 - Part Two

By now it’s getting near 4pm, and since we have our ADR at 5 (and don’t know how great of a job we’ll do getting there), decide it’s time to head out. Out to the monorail, to the car, plot Wilderness Lodge in our phone, and really, really soon we’re there. Like by 4:15. Since we’re both exhausted and tired, we decide to see if there’s a chance of checking in early. Luckily there is, and within a minute or two we’re seated in Whispering Canyon.





We both ordered the skillet meal and it was good, but once again, WAY too much food. The corn bread and especially the whipped butter were awesome. This was one meal where I didn’t feel as rushed, probably because the restaurant was still mostly empty. As it filled in, it became more and more fun. Our server just did some standard stuff (threw the straws at us, had us ask for ketchup):



But a lot of the tables around us were even funnier and watching them was more fun than actively participating ourselves. This was one of the restaurants I managed to actually get some pictures of the food:





Well, by now we were just completely stuffed, and asked if we could get our desserts to go. We got the smore cheesecakes for each of us, and were amused to note that they were packaged up with a silverware packet, but also salt and pepper for each of us. Ended up being critical later in the week (and no, we didn’t need it on our cheesecake!). We walked around the Wilderness Lodge for a bit and took a bunch of pictures of it, most of which didn’t come out that well. Found a Photopass photographer and got a few more pics. One last shot, and we were ready to head back to our resort:



Got back as it was sprinkling lightly. One quick photo for Stephen who told me it was an inside joke with his friends. Never figured out what that was about:



We wanted to go to the pool (and had been thinking about it all day), but by the time we got unpacked, got some ice to put the cheesecake on, and started digging our suits out, it was lightning. The progression from our room over about a 10 minute period:







We decided to brave it out in the room and not head anywhere. Stephen with his new towel buddies:



It eventually stopped lightning and we made it to the pool, but it was still raining steadily at the time. A quick swim, in much cooler temperatures, and of course the A/C in the room was even cooler! Again got our stuff ready for the next day and...WAIT! Have to eat that cheesecake! Still not hungry, but we weren’t sure it would make it until morning! Yes, it was very good even then! Set the alarms and decided to call it a night!
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:26 PM   #13
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I'm on board! I love it so far, it seems like you had a great time! :]
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:39 PM   #14
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Great TR.I have'nt been to Disney in along time,so I'm loving this.
Cant wait for more.
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:48 PM   #15
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checking in

still laughing re 'the other' kid putting down the cellphone

congrats on snagging the pinocchio table overlooking small world, quite a feat!
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