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Old 09-27-2009, 07:46 AM   #1
queenof2princesses
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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my magical journey western september 5-12, 2009

OK. this is all in one shot. 5 pages in word, so get a cup of coffee and hang on. I bored the kids half to death with it, hopefully someone can use some of the info.


Cast:
Me-Angel aka Queenof2princesses
Mom-Bonita aka Nanny
Daughter-Payton (turned 12 on the 12th) aka DD12
Daughter-Brooke aka DD9

Pre-trip report:
We planned this cruise just after disembarking from our 3-night Disney Wonder cruise in 4/08. We all had so much fun on this cruise (our 2nd 3-night Wonder with Daddy instead of my mom), that we decided we should try a 7-night on the Magic. Daddy wasn’t game for this long of a trip, so we recruited Nanny My mom retired in January of 2009, so this was also a retirement celebration. The cruise dates were chosen for the following reasons: cost (cheapest during late hurricane season), Labor Day week (DD’s only miss 4 days of school), and disembarkation on the 12th is Payton’s 12th birthday (which we could celebrate at the Magic Kingdom and get her a $75 free gift card!). The dates of the cruise also happen to fall on my anniversary. I asked DH about a zillion times if he was sure he didn’t want to join us. He always responded that 7 nights was too long for him. So, alas, we would celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary separately.
So, I set up my cruise calendar and joined the Dis-meet about 16 months ahead of the cruise. I booked with 2 other BFF’s and their families: Shawna and Kristi. Kristi had to bow out when she became pregnant with her 3rd child, now beautiful Juliana. We begged her OB to deliver on the required 12 week prior date, but it was a no go…Juliana would only be 11 weeks on sail date, so the family had to either leave her behind, or stay home and enjoy a week of ‘magic’al milestones with her. Now, the party extends to Shawna, Walter, Cole (DS4), and Austin (DD11). We are all (except mom) from Orange Beach, AL, and enjoy the Gulf of Mexico year round, but still LOVE to vacation.
In June, at the 90 day prior to sail date, I stayed up until midnight and booked my reservations for Palo. My mother and I would have Palo brunch on my anniversary, and dinner at Palo the following night with Shawna and Walter. Since I have sailed with Disney Cruise Line before, I am a member of the ‘Castaway Club’, which is their repeat cruiser program. Castaway Club members get the opportunity to book Palo, excursions, and spa treatments at the 90 day mark, while first time cruisers get to book these 75 days out. Since I was a CC member, I was able to book the reservation for the entire party, CC members or not.
In July of 2009, my business had been slow and DH and I were talking about ways I could expand my creativity (i.e. get a part-time job, lol). He reminded me that when my business was booming, I had really dreamed of starting a side business planning Disney trips for others. Friends and family ALWAYS call me because of my knowledge and enthusiasm to help plan their trips to the World. They always want to pay me, but I thankfully decline, and tell them I do it strictly for enjoyment….DH suggested I check into it, so the week of my 36th birthday, another dream came true. I interviewed with ********** on my birthday and was hired as a travel agent specializing in Disney!!! Four of the agents (including Angie- the owner, Patti-the West Coast manager, Lisa- the East Coast manager and Stacy-NY) were going on a 3-night Wonder at the end of July and asked if we would like to join them! This was Disney Channel’s Summer at Sea, and we did not pass up this opportunity! There was a special travel agent rate, and so this was an affordable ‘last minute’ cruise. DH got his quick fix for cruising, so he would have no regrets for not going in September.
So, the DD’s and I got off the Wonder on August 2nd, and boarded the Magic on September 5th!!!

Finally Leaving Home:
My mother drove down from North Alabama on Thursday, the 3rd, and we left Orange Beach on Friday, the 4th around 12pm. The girls are lucky enough to have such a wonderful principal (and school system) that allows them to take 5 days a year of excused absences for vacation. So we checked the girls out just before lunch and headed to McDonalds Our trip was uneventful (thank heavens) and we arrived at The Radisson Resort at the Port at about 10:00 Florida time. I had read so many bad reviews of this place (and told how bad it was by my previous travel agent), that I had my mother and DD’s scared to death! I always keep low expectations if booking an unknown hotel, so that, hopefully, I will be surprised. Well, were we ever! The Radisson was actually very nice. The hotel’s rate was $110, including taxes, and they offered a free shuttle and cruise parking. To park at the terminal of Port Canaveral, the cost is $15 per day, so this would have been $105. So, basically our hotel stay the night before only cost us $5 The room we were in had been updated recently and had sleep number beds…I never found my number and had a bad nights sleep, but that was my fault for working on my computer until everyone had fallen asleep. To change your ‘number’ it is a bit noisy. So, I sunk into a mushy soft bed, and tried to sleep a bit before our big adventure…..not!…I think I got 3 hours of sleep before I woke up to continue working in my office…the bathroom. I am a self confessed workaholic, and I was trying to finish my last minutes of work before boarding the ship…

On the Way to the Ship:
The shuttle process was very annoying, and at the time NOT worth the savings. We were to be on the first shuttle at 10:00, which sounds great. But, having to load 5-10 families and their luggage into the enclosed trailer and then boarding the van, and then the short drive…we did not arrive at port until about 10:30!! This is totally out of my character. The doors open at 10:00, and that is when we should have arrived. We received a boarding pass #6, and so we would have to wait until almost 12:00 until we could board. We used the time in the terminal to pass out the glow in the dark wristbands that I had custom ordered for my Dis-group. I ordered 100 wristbands (a mix of adult and child size) with the following inscriptions on either side: ‘LABORless Magical Meanderers’ and ‘September 5-12, 2009’. This added a bit of excitement to our cruise because we could identify our ‘friends’ by the wristbands…and a nice easily storable souvenir I met a bunch of folks that share a common love of a mouse. We watched and waited as they called….#2, #3, #4, #5, and finally they called our magic number…Time to jump on the ship!
We proceeded to Parrot Cay for an amazing buffet and then off to see our stateroom….You are not allowed to enter your stateroom until 1:30, but ours was right by the elevators, so we snuck a peak We took mom to the upper decks to give her a tour. Since both the Magic and the Wonder are (almost) identical ships, we know our way around. When we finally got to our stateroom, it was unbelievable! We have always booked a Category 12 before, which is a guarantee option that usually gets upgraded. We have been upgraded twice to a Category 9 (Oceanview Deluxe), and the other time to a Category 10 (Deluxe Inside). This was our first time to experience a Category 6 (Verandah Deluxe). Having the extra room, which is basically what the balcony gives you, was ideal since I always wake up early. I was able to wake up and see the sunrise, feel the breeze every morning, and watch us pull into Castaway Cay with my PJ’s on while sipping my coffee!!! At 3pm we met with our Dis-group in the Promenade Lounge for a group picture and I distributed the rest of the wristbands. The wristbands cost each person $1.50 and were a great souvenir.

Saturday night we were able to meet our dining staff, Mladen, Francois, and Anna. This group of servers was indescribably amazing! Mladen was such a dream. He made every night great. On the front of our Key to the World card (which is your room key and unlocks unlimited spending abilities) was our dining rotation, LAPPLAP. This meant the first night we would dine in Lumeire’s, then Animator’s Palate, Parrot Cay, Parrot Cay…and so on. We were on the early dining rotation which was good for us because we are always ready to eat! Let me just say that the food was so good and plentiful that by the time we got off the ship I was seriously tired of eating. I have discovered that I eat more fresh fruit on this boat than anywhere else. It is so easy to get and already peeled and sliced I had Mickey waffles and chocolate croissants almost every morning.

On Sunday morning, I headed straight to the Vista Spa Fitness Center and hopped on a treadmill. I plugged in my headphones and watched a movie. Later, I attended the interdenominational church service, which was led by a Jamaican Christian, can’t remember his name, but it was a very enjoyable change. I had never heard a preachin’ from such a beautiful accent! I asked GOD for a blessed trip, and please let us make it home safely especially since me and the DD’s were only travelling with birth certificates and not passports! I think this will be the last cruise we take with the birth certificates as I believe I have pushed my luck as far as it will go….I met up with mom and the DD’s after the church service and we got ready to head off to Key West. I had heard that I might have to shield the girls’ eyes from the culture here, but never saw anything disturbing on our 4 hour tour. We had called ahead to book a ‘funny’ car. Mom called early in the week and they quoted her $90/4 hours, but she didn’t book it for some reason… When she called at 11:30am they said the price was $130/4 hours! She was a bit peeved and said she would call right back. We talked about it and decided that it would be fun, so she called back within 10 minutes. Now they were quoting her $150/4 hours!!! Evidently, the price goes up with every rental they make, or some nonsense. We bargained them down to $140+tax and placed a card to hold the reservation. When we got off the ship, there was a stand offering rentals for $100/4 hours….since we had already placed a card on file, we kept our reservation with Sunshine Rentals, and decided to make a note not to do so again…They pressured us to buy the insurance for $20 more, because if we scratched or dented the car in any way, or if anyone else damaged the car while it was in our possession, blablabla, it could cost a lot of money…and then they showed us a dented fender and told us that it was over $1000 to replace it. We held our ground and declined to purchase their insurance, but snapped several ‘before’ shots of the car to prove the condition before driving away. The car was cute and we had a great time. It drives a bit like a golf cart, and goes up to 25 mph or so. We basically cruised the strip most of the time, and also headed down to the ‘Southernmost Point’. The line to take a picture there was ridiculous, so we just snapped a picture of some happy couple so that we can say that we had been there. We then toured the Butterfly Museum. It was so beautiful. It was incredibly hot that day, but it was nice to sit and enjoy the butterflies, birds, and tropical forest We stopped for frozen key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate….OMGoodness…those are so yummy…a bit rich…but oh so yummy! We returned our funky car without a problem and headed back to the ship.

Monday was an ‘at sea’ day and our scheduled character breakfast. It was a nice ‘sit-down’ breakfast with all of our favorites (food and characters). We were able to get some pics with Mickey, Goofy, and the gang. Mom and I tried to eat light, because our Palo brunch was at 10:30. We were celebrating my anniversary that day, after all! Mladen didn’t let me leave breakfast without taking a cake with me that had a chocolate banner of the ship that read ‘Happy Anniversary’. Palo brunch is a must-do. Other than just because the restaurant being so unbelievable, the service is impeccable, and the food is scrumptious! Palo has a spread for brunch that could keep me happy for days. My mother was most impressed with the split crab legs—no cracking required. I was in lala land with the dessert spread. My mother couldn’t quite handle dessert, so Xena (our Palo princess) brought mom a dessert tray to go! We took it back to the stateroom to share with the kids. DD12 is a culinary enthusiast, so she was really happy to see (and try) the Palo creations. Monday was also Formal night, so we all got dressed up for dinner, which was nice. Oh, and in between the morning meals we delivered our Fish Extender (FE) gifts. The FE exchange is set up by a group of people on the Dis that get together and do secret santa type gifts during the cruise. Outside your stateroom door is a ‘fish’ that serves as a mailbox during your cruise. It is not actually a mailbox, but papers can be left there with info or ‘mail’. Someone came up with an idea to make a fabric ‘extender’ to contain pockets for every member of the stateroom. The gifts are small but really make the cruise fun. We had gifts waiting outside our stateroom door in our FE at least once a day. I made a CD titled ‘Caribbean Beats’ that included some of our favorite music from Castaway Cay, Bob Marley, and Jimmy Buffet. This was the ‘adult’ gift, and I ordered candy tins from Oriental Trading that had a cute girly pirate picture with our cruise dates on it for the kids. Small gifts add up while packing, and most people had an extra suitcase just to lug around the loot! I highly recommend this activity for the cruise. Not only was it fun for the kids to share the gifts, and receive them, but our door was so cute. I got comments from fellow cruisers passing by thanking me for having such a great door. It is easy to get turned around on the ship, but my door was a landmark! Our cabin was 6560, which is just outside the midship elevator corridor. Our beautiful fish extender that I pressed by hand (all no sew) could easily be seen from the stairwell. This afternoon the girls and I (and each girl’s friend) went to Tea with Alice and The Mad Hatter, which was really cute. We all celebrated our ‘un’birthdays, and had ‘tea’ and cookies. This is an especially cute event for the little girls, and is free, but limited, so go to Guest Services early to get your tickets. Since today was my anniversary, I pampered myself with a trip to Treasure Ketch, DCL’s shop for fine jewelry, among many other goodies. I got a ‘bling’ Mickey watch and an afghan with a beautiful picture of the Magic on it

On Tuesday we visited Grand Cayman. We had no plan here, so we basically walked around aimlessly until an unmarked cab asked if we wanted a ride. Before I could think clearly, we were all inside the van and on our way to Seven Mile Beach. I always have a plan, so this was very unsettling to me. I am very paranoid, especially getting in a car with a stranger in a strange country! Well, thankfully my prayers were answered, and the guy was harmless. We got to the beach safely and wandered through the crowds. The piece of beach where we were dropped off was very congested and small. We tried to sign up for the banana boats, as we watched it throw others off and flip. About that time, the message got back that a ‘rope’ on the banana boat had broken and the boat was now inoperable. So, we signed up for a triple parasail! The boat taxi took us out to the parasail boat and I parasailed over GC with my daughters on either side of me, with mom taking pictures from the boat The boat driver offered to drop us off directly at the port dock when we were finished, but we had left some things in lockers back at the beach. This was a bummer, since it cost $20 to get us back by bus. Hard to be bummed too long when you have to get ready for a dinner at Palo with good friends. My mom and I joined Shawna and her husband, Walter, for dinner at Palo, which is another must-do, incredible dinner. We were lucky enough to have Xena again for our server. She is so knowledgable about Palo and very sweet. I even asked if I could take her home with me She said people ask her that all the time.

Wednesday was Cozumel and I had booked earlier in the year with Dolphin Discovery for half price on their website. I had the Royal Swim with the dolphins for $75 per person! Mom, the girls, Austin and I took off on our adventure. We met up at Dolphin Discovery with other Dis-friends and had our swim. My mom still can’t believe that I made her do the foot push. It was priceless for all of us. The dolphins are so cute. Be ready to spend a little when you get here, though. The video is so awesome that you just have to buy it. DD12 bargained with them and got them to give us the DVD and 5-4x6 pics for $110. She is very savvy with money…I have taught her well. Their published prices are much higher, so it never hurts to ask After the dolphin swim, we met up with a man that worked at Chankannab Park who promised us a tour of the ruins after our swim. There was no charge for this very educational and interesting tour since we were already admitted to the park. He shared about the history and culture of Cozumel, while stopping along the way to take pictures of us at the best spots. At the end of the tour, we had lunch at the restaurant at the park. Mom and I had discussed tipping the man since he spent over an hour and he was very friendly and entertaining. Unfortunately, she didn’t notice me hand him a 20, and she gave him another one! OK, well, his service was worth $40 anyway…The lunch was not so great, and way overpriced, so I will do some research before eating on the island again.
Pirate night followed on the ship and we dressed for the part! The party was great and included dancing on deck with characters, fireworks, a dessert buffet, and a showing of Pirates of the Caribbean on the AerialView under the stars. I couldn’t ask for a better night.

On Thursday, we enjoyed another ‘at sea’ day. I took this day to enjoy Disney’s Behind the Scenes: Stageworks in the Walt Disney Theatre. This was an adult only event where it was possible to try on the princess dresses (or Cruella’s cape), whichever you prefer This provided an opportunity to see the inner workings of the Walt Disney Theatre. Then, I went to see Disney Innovations: Animation, which was another adult only event that showed the ‘Top 10’ greatest innoventions that the Walt Disney Company has introduced in the field of animation. I spent a lot of time this afternoon enjoying the Quiet Cove Pool, which was packed! I was so amazed to see so many young singles and childless couples on the cruise. In the early evening, I took the ‘Art of the Theme Ship Tour’ another adult only tour. Have I mentioned that I didn’t see much of my children today? Or for a lot of the week for that matter! I felt a little guilty at first, but then saw how many friends they had made, the fun they had, and the experiences they enjoyed, and got over that quickly! DD9 had a new BFF for the week, and DD12 enjoyed some new freedom. DD12 was in OceanQuest, which has no check-in/out procedure and they come and go as they please. So parents must provide their own rules for their child. The counselors are great and the kids are always chaperoned, but are allowed to come and go at will. DD9 was in the Oceaneer’s Lab where self check-in/out is a special privilege that has to be given by a parent. Overall, I think 9 yrs old is old enough for this privilege, but the ground rules must be laid down early. There were several times that I had no idea where DD9 and her BFF were on the ship. This was very unsettling, but I knew she was always safe. The ship is a very safe place, but I still wanted to know her location at all times. So after a few days of confusion, she was instructed to use the dry erase board on the inside of our stateroom door, and all was well. Later that night I went to see the 10:30 showing of ‘The Proposal’. DCL’s Buena Vista Theatre provides first run Disney movies throughout the cruise. If a movie is showing in your local theatre, more than likely it is showing on DCL. You can call one week prior to your sailing day to get a list of movies showing during your cruise. The movie showings are included in the cruise price

Waking up Friday morning to see Castaway Cay from our verandah might be worth that extra expense The island is so beautiful, and there is so much to do…and eat. We started off with a nice breakfast at Topsider’s buffet and then walked off the ship into paradise. We took the tram to save some energy. Be aware, that if you take the tram to the beach instead of walk the short distance, you will miss several must-do photo opportunities with characters, including the one and only Jack Sparrow. Shawna had packed snorkel gear, so we snorkeled for a while. I personally enjoyed sitting in a beach chair at water’s edge and just basking in the glory of the sun. Mom and I took the tram over to the adult beach, and came right back. I really enjoy the family beach more, because half of the fun on a beach to me is watching the kids play. Lunch at Cookie’s BBQ is so good, and so plentiful. My family has picked out our own little cove of beach chairs which has easy access to the BBQ, restrooms, etc. The first chairs you come to are not always the best! DD12 decided she would get her hair ‘corn-rowed’, so she took a friend with her to say ‘braid mine just like this’. The lady explained to her that she didn’t have rubber bands, only beads, and that her braids would be smaller. This didn’t sound like much of a big deal, until she got 18 braids done and was only half-way finished. The other girl had 11 total. At $2 per braid, to complete the job would have been over $60! DD12 is pretty savvy, remember, and stopped the process. We later spoke with guest services about this on the ship, and showed them the rubber bands that were in her hair. They agreed to rebraid her hair at no cost. In my opinion, the island braiders (not Disney cast members) braid smaller in order to charge such high fees. I highly recommend having the braids done by the ladies on the ship.
Mom and I booked a 4pm appointment for the Salon Taster at the Vista Spa and Salon. We waited throughout the week until we had the best deal for the salon. Finally, for $89 each, we could choose 5 from the following; foot and ankle massage (which I gladly took after running barefoot on CC to get my camera for a photo-op with Goofy!), neck and shoulder massage (also couldn’t pass up), a mini-European facial (my very first facial), a collagen eye treatment (got this), and a scalp massage (as the horn went off while we were leaving CC). We were very happy with the choices we made We passed up on the hand treatment and the Sunglow makeover.
Another thing that is a must-do for the ladies early in the trip is to have a shower in the Vista Spa, just outside of the gym. If you ask the ladies at the desk of the Spa, they will lead the way. The showers here are wonderful and I HIGHLY recommend doing them early in the trip because you will surely do it more than once!
Somehow throughout this review, I have neglected to mention that the kids stayed out until 12am-1am almost every night, so mom and I had to find something to do We spent a lot of time alone together (which is also a great bonus for couples) in the Rockin’ Bar D watching various entertainers, and even fellow cruisers during karaoke night! DCL really knows how to entertain EVERY age. The entertainers were top notch. There was a juggler, a ventriloquist, a singer/songwriter, and a hypnotist. Each entertainer did a family show and an adult show. It was amazing to me to see how they tailored each show for their audience while completely entertaining everyone each time. I am still laughing about some of things I saw in that club! The cruise staff did a skit on the last night that was so great that it was etched in my mind for days! The staff on the ship love what they do and you can see it in their eyes.
It is very important to see all of the night’s shows. The Disney Cruise Line production’s of Disney Dreams, The Golden Mickey’s, Twice Charmed, and Toy Story-The Musical, are amazing productions. To see what they can accomplish on the ship is truly unbelievable. I believe every show must be seen at least once…but I still watch them every time!
We got off the ship at about 8am with little trouble on Saturday, which was Payton’s birthday. I say little trouble because I was able to find out what happens if your bill is left unpaid. I had a friendly reminder under my stateroom door that morning that my card had been declined and my Key to the World card had been deactivated and could I please come to Guest Services before 7am to pay my bill! I learned the hard way that my bank likes to be notified (this is very common now) if you are travelling out of the country and planning to use your check card. With the ship’s registry being in the Bahamas, although you are in the USA, the charge comes from the Bahamas. So, unfortunately, I straightened out my bill, and was allowed to leave the ship I never asked what would happen if I could not pay the bill….We had planned to go straight to the Magic Kingdom, but it was raining and so we decided to check in at Port Orleans’s Riverside. We checked in at about 9:30 and hopped on the bus to the Magic Kingdom by 10:30. Since we did not arrive at the MK at rope-drop, DD12 decided to use her birthday wish for the free fast passes rather than the $75 gift card! Fast passes are ALWAYS free, but the birthday fast passes are given at Guest Services and do not require you to wait for a attraction. So, basically, we arrived around 11 and it was crowded, of course. But, we had plenty of fast passes in hand, so it did not matter. We walked on several rides and used most of our ‘immediate access’ fast passes. We never waited more than 10 minutes for an attraction. Payton got her ‘Happy Birthday’ button from City Hall at MK and was greeted the entire day with birthday wishes We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at POR and would love to stay there again.
Our trip was as magical as I had imagined. The 7-night cruise was so magical that I can’t wait until I can book my next one! In the meantime, I hope to share all of the information that I have gathered to help others have as much fun as my family had
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:52 AM   #2
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Great report. Thanks for sharing all of the details.

Quick question - Are they playing Toy Story on the Magic now too? We just saw it on the Wonder, but it wasn't on the Magic when we went in January. Just curious. Thank you.
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by OurOhana View Post
Great report. Thanks for sharing all of the details.

Quick question - Are they playing Toy Story on the Magic now too? We just saw it on the Wonder, but it wasn't on the Magic when we went in January. Just curious. Thank you.
No Toy Story on the Magic. It is twice charmed.

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Old 09-27-2009, 11:11 AM   #4
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Smile Great Report

Loved this report Angel!!

It was almost like being on the MAGIC again

What is your facebook name? I'd like to see your pictures.

Here is Shannah's email address: shannahc1234@aol.com

She would love to hear from Brooke.
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7-1957 Disneyland, 7-1976 WDW – Polynesian ,9-1976 WDW – off premises, 7-1979 WDW – Polynesian, 7-1995 WDW – Boardwalk & Laurel and Hardy Carnival Cruise (4 nights), 12-1996 * Bought into Disney Vacation Club (260 points), 2-1997 Hilton Head, 7-1997 Hilton Head – Grand Villa , 9-1997 WDW - Old Key West, 12-1997 Aruba , 7-1998 Vero Beach, 5-1999 WDW – Boardwalk, Polynesian ,12-1999 WDW – Boardwalk ,7-2000 Clearwater, FL, 12-2000 Disney Cruise - Disney Wonder (3 nights, Eastern Caribbean) , 3-2002 Carnival Cruise – Triumph (7 nights, Eastern Caribbean) , 3-2003 * Bought 100 additional points in Disney Vacation Club, 4-2003 WDW – Port Orleans Riverside, 7-2003 Hilton Head – Grand Villa, 4-2004 WDW – Beach Club Villas, 7-2004 Punta Cana , 5-2005 Disney Cruise - Disney Magic (7 nights, Eastern Caribbean) & WDW – Grand Floridian,
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:19 PM   #5
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sorry about the Toy Story reference...I was on the Wonder in July and just wanted to include it as a must-do...

Marlene..Facebook, I am Angel Phillips Lanier.I will tell Brooke tomorrow. She will be thrilled to catch up with Shannah
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:02 PM   #6
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awesome report! we did totally different things but had a great time as well. so much variety available,and all so much fun!
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BWK: Dec 2011
BC: Sep 2010
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SSR: May 2008
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