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Old 10-02-2010, 07:00 PM   #91
BirdsLightyear
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Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
4:45 a.m. is just inhuman, don't you think? No one should ever have to see that time staring back at them from the clock. But there it was, right on the nightstand. There'd better be an incredible reason for getting up that early.

Oh, yeah. We're going to Disney World!

We were taking a week during the school year (please, no flame-wars) and felt that flying down would maximize our time at WDW. Thankfully, we found a good rate on Southwest for flights out of Baltimore. Unfortunately, there's no quick-and-easy way to get from my house to Baltimore--the Chesapeake Bay is in the way. I don't own a hovercraft (yet), so we have to go around either to the north or the south.

My parents were coming with us on this trip, and in fact were a large reason as to why we were going. Currently, my kids are their only grandchildren, and they love spending time with them. So they were glad to help us make this trip affordable.

We drove down to their house in Dover on Friday night to shorten the drive to the airport a bit. Now it would be more of a straight shot across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

But still: we had to get up at 4:45 a.m. Ugh. Somehow, we managed to stumble out of bed and throw our clothes on (we had started our standard Disney practice of showering at night--saves time and I'm just wearing a baseball cap all day anyway in 90-degree Florida heat). Then, we woke up the kids at 5:00 a.m. Sarah and Big Dave got up fairly quickly, the excitement of going to Disney giving them an adrenalin boost. Scotty sat up in bed, looked around and took it all in. Then, he immediately flopped back onto his pillow, like a drunk way past last call. Hopefully my video footage wasn't too dark to capture this.

We all managed to stagger out into the van and get on the road. A quick stop at Wawa (greatest convenience store ever) to think me up a chocolate donut with some of those little sprinkles on it for breakfast, and we were on our way.

The sun's first light hit as we drove on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, giving us a beautiful view of the water. This is a notorious commuter route for Baltimore, and my mother worried that we would hit too much rush hour traffic to make it to BWI on time.

Um...it's Saturday, Mom.

No problems with parking or security or luggage check-in (No bag fees on Southwest! ). Here's my two yutes checking out the plane:



The flight to Orlando was smooth, and Dave and I banged out most of his homework on the flight (as if we were going to do this at Disney World. I mean, come on). And by "Dave and I banged out his homework", I mean Dave did the work himself. No, really he did. I just tried to keep him from distracting himself with his DS. By the time we'd finished calculating the average air speed of an African swallow, the plane was landing in Orlando.

The Magical Express lines were pretty crowded--much more than our last trip in September 2006. I began to get worried--it appeared the word about Free Dining and low crowds in September was out. We might actually have to wait in lines for rides on this trip!

By lunchtime, we were checking into our resort, Port Orleans Riverside. We'd stayed here in the mansions section in 2006 and had fallen in love with the place. We were trying out the Alligator Bayou section this time, since we had 5 people in the room and needed the trundle bed. As I waited in the check-in line, I began to relax. I hadn't entered any part of the parks yet, but somehow it was as though the Disney magic was somehow subtly influencing my mood...



I had done the online check-in, figuring it would move the process faster at the lobby. My father and I confidently strode into the line for online check-in. At the same time, a bald gentleman stepped into the regular line. They had two people working the online group and 4 working the regular group. The bald guy got checked in first.

Check-in was followed by our first free counter-service meal on the dining plan--lunch at the Riverside Mill. One of the better food courts at WDW, in my opinion. Nice variety on the menu.

The room was ready for us, and we dropped off our carry-on bags. We fell in love with Alligator Bayou right away. The area is themed to feel like cabins in a swampy bayou, with a very rustic feel. The landscaping is beautiful. It's sort of a poor man's Wilderness Lodge (which, as some of you know, is my absolute favorite resort on property). Here is our room. Note the rough-hewn wood furniture and lantern-style lighting. Disney is without peer in giving a sense of place.





Next stop: Downtown Disney! One of the best perks of POR is the boat ride to DTD that it offers. We got in line (again, more people than I expected) and waited in the heat. After 10 minutes or so, a boat pulled up to the dock. He then informed us he could only take 25 people--and we just missed the cutoff. Next boat: 20 minutes.

Coming Up Next: It's like Build-a-Bear, but with cars! And it costs HOW MUCH??!!
yeah rub it in your flight was smooth...when my ride was rough and ready and long...my wife said she wanted to drive to see the view...after 17 hours know veiw to see
but the room looks alwsome
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:07 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
After finding a bigger boat (thanks, Barry), we were on our way to Downtown Disney. I love the ride, even though the boats travel slower than your average giant tortoise. It's a very relaxing ride with nice views of Port Orleans French Quarter, the Treehouse Villas, Lake Buena Vista golf course, and Saratoga Springs. Plus lots of trees with Spanish moss hanging from the limbs. We even saw a couple of herons and egrets hanging out by the water's edge. The skipper avoided any accidents or crazy Ivans, and we pulled into the dock.



One of the things we really wanted to do was go up high in the Characters in Flight Balloon here. We'd borrowed a zoom lens for the camera from a friends and thought we could get some great shots.

Not all of us were on board with this idea. I had shown Dave some pictures of the balloon up in the air and asked if he wanted to go up. He said he'd "think about it", which is Dave's polite way of saying, "ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?! I wouldn't go up there if the earth was on fire!"

In the end, it didn't matter. When we walked by the balloon, the message board said it was grounded due to high winds. The breeze didn't feel bad to me on the ground, but we missed out. Maybe it's just as well. It would have cost my family $72 to go up.

From there, it was on to the West Side and



Does the name "Ridemakerz" bother anybody else? Companies that intentionally mis-spell words are a pet peeve of mine. There's one company in our area called Copi Kwik that I refuse to support on principle alone.

Any-hoo, the boys were really excited to build cars of their own. As a Dad, I of course did not share in any excitement whatsoever. The concept is like the Build-A-Bear stores--you pick out the body of your car, customize it with tires and rims, pick a chassis (remote-control or non-remote) and then accessorize with stickers, pimped-up snap-on motors and spoilers, etc.

The only downside is the hit this takes on your budget. The body alone starts anywhere between $15-$30, and it's another $25 if you want remote control (which we did--I mean, what's the point of building this thing otherwise?). The $15 bodies were...um...how do I say this? Ugly. My 2000 Grand Am looks better, and I had to duct tape my window on that car. Mrs. Oblivious and I didn't like the idea of spending more money, but we wanted the kids to have a nice-looking car for their trouble. Finally, Scotty and Dave decided on a Mustang body. Scotty's was electric blue, while Dave went for the chick-magnet red with flames.





The boys were happier than a tornado in a trailer park, running from one station to the next. And the process was fun. They had one building station where you could use a power screwdriver on one of those cords that hung down from the workstation, and the kids felt just like a NASCAR crew doing a pit stop. It took longer than we expected, due to the fact that they had approximately 3 employees staffing the entire store.



Julie and I did the best we could to keep costs down: we found a $10-off coupon on the Ridemakerz Facebook page, brought our own batteries (4 AA's and one 9V, for future reference), and limited the add-ons (so we got the basic sound, stock rims and tires, one page of racing-number of stickers to divide among the two). They still came out to around $50 apiece. We were most definitely officially at Disney World. Their grandparents had given them some money to spend, so we applied that cash as well. Here are the finished products: Shake 'n Bake!





Not to be outdone, Sarah had some building of her own to do. She loves dinosaurs and stuffed animals, so the Build-A-Dino shop at T-Rex was basically designed with her in mind.



At first, she had thought she might want to build a pterodactyl, but then she spotted another creature and opted for it. According to my extensive notes, this dinosaur is called a (mumble-mumble)-osaurus. By its nature, the stuffed animal was less expensive than the cars, so we let her splurge on the outfit to keep things fair. Behold the Super-Dino, or as we named it, Clark Rex:



My job here was to keep the boys calm. Last time we were inside T-Rex, we had to cancel our lunch because Dave was scared of the dinos and went into Global Thermonuclear Meltdown when the "meteor shower" show started. Now, a year later, we stood in the shop and...you guessed it! Meteor shower time! I couldn't tell if he enjoyed it or not, but he simply stood there and watched the ceiling, which is much easier to deal with as a parent than Global Thermonuclear Meltdown. Good job Dave!

We took the Slow Boat to Riverside and spent some late afternoon time in the big pool at Ol' Man Island. It's a great setting--secluded in trees, away from the buildings, with a nice waterslide and lots of spurting fountains. Unfortunately, I haven't uploaded any pictures of it yet, so you'll just have to trust me.

Around 6:15, we gathered our things and caught the bus to the Magic Kingdom. Again, transportation was more crowded than we had anticipated. From here, we walked to the monorail station for a quick ride to the Contemporary...or so we thought.

It was a Halloween Party night, so groups were arriving en masse and in costume (I dressed as a tourist Dad, in case you were wondering). The monorail station was packed with people leaving the parks, presumably those who didn't have Party tickets. We barely had room to stand on the platform. When the monorail arrived, many in the car didn't get off at the stop. We were going to try to squeeze on, but a 280-lb. (or so) man shoved his way in front and cut off Dave in line, so we had to stop and wait for the next train. If I remember correctly, I said something to the effect of, "Have a magical day, sir!"

We caught the next monorail, somehow squeezed on, and barely made it in time for our 7:40 p.m. reservation at Chef Mickey's.



Apparently, we were lucky enough to be there during the test week when Mickey was posing with guests outside the restaurant instead of visiting tables. Nobody liked this, so they've now gone back to the old way.

I need to upload some more pictures, so I'll stop here for now and come back with a mini-update about dinner (with pictures!) later on.

Coming Up Next: Our stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite!

No, not really. It'll be Chef Mickey's, like I just said. Geez, pay attention.
Did you ever ride the zoo ballon in philly...if not it is pretty cool...i have free passes to go to the zoo so if you ever want to go hit me up...did you eat at t rex...I thought it was cool for the kiddos..butt pricey...they charge extra for every thing
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:28 PM   #93
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Joining! Your kids are adorable!!! Also, I, too, hate when companies purposely spell words wrong just to be "cute"... it's NOT cute!

Can't wait to hear about Chef Mickey's!
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:46 PM   #94
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Enjoying your report, I am not good with movie quotes but I did get the one from Cars! My youngest son made a car at Ride Makers too and $78 later he was thrilled! Now the car is sitting in his closet in the box!! POR is one of my favorite resorts and the first one we stayed at, just love the feel of the place. Can't wait to read more!



Melissa
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:54 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
I would say yes overall. I would recommend cutting costs as much as you can--bring your own batteries. They try and hide the stock rims and tires that come with the car, but there's no reason to pay more just for extra colors. If you're on Facebook, you can become a "fan" of their page and get a "$10 off $30 purchase" coupon. Julie did this too and then we got in line and paid separately so we could both use it. My boys haven't stopped playing with them since--either in our hotel room or since we got home. They're all plastic, but so far they've run into our walls/chairs/feet/each other countless times and are still going just fine. I guess we'll see if they last or break down over time.
Thank you for this - it means a lot to me. I'm pretty sure that it's going to be the "big present" for my son. That's right up his alley.
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:13 AM   #96
Captain_Oblivious
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenjolt View Post
I followed over from Tink's TR and I have to say I'm loving your report so far!!

I just have one question for you...was the African Swallow by any chance carrying a coconut????? Sorry I'm a huge Monty Python fan and while I might not catch all of your quotes...I immediately smiled when I read that line!! That and the Witch scene are my two favorite scenes of the movie, but I digress.....

Can't wait for more!


Why yes! I'm pretty sure it was an African swallow, not a European swallow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleeping*Beauty View Post
I'm enjoying your trip report, however I am not doing too well at identifying qoutes yet.


Thanks for joining in! Don't worry about the quotes that much. Don't tell anyone, but it's really just a meaningless gag to sucker people into reading the TR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
Pirates of the Caribbean.
+1

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegoMom3 View Post
Ok, no time to quote and banter and all that this morning, but I followed you over here from Tinkerbellarella's TR (Hi Tink!) because your title made me ::snortlaugh:: .....You see, "What About Bob?" is the most-watched, most-favorite movie in the LegoClan house hold.

FAN.TAS.TIC Trip Report! I'm lovin' it [NOMcDonald's]. Love that you stayed at POR -- that's been our "home" resort the last few trips and I would live there year-round if they let me. Despite the fact that I now must stay in Building 34 because it's the only one wherein I can find my way there and back again....(A Tourist's Tale.)

Can't wait for more!

.


You have excellent taste in movies. And I got a snort-laugh! Anytime I can write a report that produces actual snot, I consider it a job well done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlm1017 View Post
I dont post much, I just lerk and read mostly, but I have to say I love your trip report

"Global Thermonuclear Meltdown" just a guess, is this from Armageddon?


Wow, I got a lurker to post! You guys are making my day. The Global Thermonuclear Meltdown term is actually a subtle reference to WarGames, which glennbo123 sniffed out.
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:21 AM   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BirdsLightyear View Post
yeah rub it in your flight was smooth...when my ride was rough and ready and long...my wife said she wanted to drive to see the view...after 17 hours know veiw to see
but the room looks alwsome
Well, it took 2 hours, I had a comfortable (for an airline) leather seat, was served snacks and a soda, and was able to relax and read on the way down. Other than that, it wasn't that much better than driving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BirdsLightyear View Post
Did you ever ride the zoo ballon in philly...if not it is pretty cool...i have free passes to go to the zoo so if you ever want to go hit me up...did you eat at t rex...I thought it was cool for the kiddos..butt pricey...they charge extra for every thing
No, I haven't done the zoo balloon, but the view looks pretty cool. Thanks for the offer!

We didn't eat at T-Rex. We were going to eat there last year when we were going on our cruise (see my earlier trip report for gory details), but my sons freaked out. We didn't go this time because we did free dining and T-Rex isn't on the dining plan. My daughter really wants to try it, so someday we'll bite the bullet (and send my sons elsewhere...).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracy161 View Post
Joining! Your kids are adorable!!! Also, I, too, hate when companies purposely spell words wrong just to be "cute"... it's NOT cute!

Can't wait to hear about Chef Mickey's!


It's simpull: if'n youse wunt my bizniss, lurn 2 spel.

Thanks for the compliment...my kids obviously got their mom's looks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAJ RN View Post
Enjoying your report, I am not good with movie quotes but I did get the one from Cars! My youngest son made a car at Ride Makers too and $78 later he was thrilled! Now the car is sitting in his closet in the box!! POR is one of my favorite resorts and the first one we stayed at, just love the feel of the place. Can't wait to read more!



Melissa


Hopefully my boys will play with the cars enough to justify the expense! They did really love putting them together. And the novelty hasn't worn off yet. So here's hoping...

Agree about POR. Really a beautiful resort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rental01 View Post
Thank you for this - it means a lot to me. I'm pretty sure that it's going to be the "big present" for my son. That's right up his alley.
No problem! I think another part of our justification for the expense was: it's Disney! Everything is expensive! (But we still tried to cut costs as much as possible)
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:27 AM   #98
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Current Standings after 3 entries:

MissLiz 3
Trennr 3
FreezinRafiki 3
glennbo123 2
Melk 1
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:22 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Current Standings after 3 entries:

MissLiz 3
Trennr 3
FreezinRafiki 3
glennbo123 2
Melk 1

Thanks for not listing the 0s.

I agree about Disney just being spendy. Once DH processed that fact, it made our trips much more enjoyable.

I wish I could get DH to join the DIS.
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:45 AM   #100
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Day 1 concludes: Chef Mickey's

In our previous installment, we left our heroes at the Contemporary Resort, having braved the crowds of the monorail to arrive just in time to make the reservation time at Chef Mickey's.

Again, I began to get worried about crowd levels. Our previous experience with September had been with a fairly empty park everywhere. But this year, we had found a full resort, a crowded monorail, and now a packed waiting area just outside the restaurant. Scores of people sat around either looking bored, trying to control restless kids, or waiting in line to take their picture with Mickey. Everyone had a pager in hand. Considering it was 7:40 p.m. and my kids typically go to bed at 8:00 (and we'd been up since 5:00 a.m.), I was wondering if we'd end up spending our first full day at Disney sleeping.

As I mentioned earlier, we didn't know it at the time, be we were "lucky" enough to be there while Chef Mickey's was testing a couple of new wrinkles. The first was having Mickey pose for pictures outside the restaurant by the big dinner plate rather than visiting tables inside. The other was the removal of prime rib from the menu and substituting regular ol' roast beast. I would prefer prime rib, but don't have a problem with roast beast. Besides, this food was free, so it doesn't feel right to complain.

I prefer having the characters visit the table. Our kids get a lot more personal interaction that way. Plus the Photopass people made it hard to get a decent picture with our own camera of Mickey. Not that there wouldn't be plenty of other opportunities, of course.

Anyway, our pager buzzed not long after our picture, so we basically skipped ahead of just about everyone in the waiting area...I assume they didn't have ADR's?

By the way, what's the proper protocol when that happens? I'm sure we were getting dirty looks as we got seated in the restaurant. Should I have:

a) Jumped up and down like a madman when the pager buzzed, screaming, "YEAH! WE GOT A SEAT!! IN YOUR FACE, NON-ADR-MAKING-PEOPLE!!! WOOOT!!!!!"
b) Silently kept my head down and eyes straight ahead and gone into the restaurant quietly.
c) Said nothing, but attempted to high-five Mickey on the way in.
d) Given my seat to anyone who looked particularly desperate, or
e) All of the above?

I went with b).

Now, I've read a lot of negative reviews about Chef Mickey's. For the most part, people say they like the characters but the food is below par. I can honestly say we enjoyed our meal there. The menu had ham, roast beast, bourbon-bbq chicken, mango-bbq ribs, parmesan mashed potatoes, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, shrimp creole, shrimp 'n beans, and various salads/side items. Everything tasted good to me. Perhaps my palate is not discriminating enough?

The desserts were nice, too. You can never go wrong with make-your-own-soft-serve sundaes. I also had a mini-key lime pie and cheesecake, while my wife went for the Mickey mousse. All in all, we gave Chef Mickey's two thumbs up.

Characters? You want characters? Fine. Here's Goofy, who was very energetic:



Pluto also got high marks from the kids, as they were clearly more interested in him than in the camera:



We have no decent picture of Minnie. Why, you ask? She seemed barely interested in interacting at all. It was kind of like having the bride visit your table at a wedding reception when you're all with the groom's family. "Hi...thanks for coming!" And...that's a wrap. Not that that's ever happened to me before. Ahem.

Donald made up for it with a very fun dance to "Celebrate Good Times" and going around to everyone at the table.



Goofy even came around for a second visit and hit me with the old "tap him on one shoulder while coming around the other side" trick. Being a veteran of this savvy move myself, I easily saw it coming*.

After dinner and having learned our lesson from the monorail ride over, we walked back to the Magic Kingdom. It took, um, less time. On the bus ride back to POR, many mothers with small children climbed aboard, so I gave up my seat and stood. DIS Dads Man Law...UPHELD.

Coming Up Next: Our first full day in the parks. And Sarah loved all these rides as a 4-year-old. Therefore, Scotty will love them, too.

*Ok, I fell for this simple trick hook, line and sinker. And my kids all laughed at me. Then Goofy took my hat off and started making fun of my receding hairline. Don't tell anyone, ok?
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:55 AM   #101
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:25 AM   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Considering it was 7:40 p.m. and my kids typically go to bed at 8:00 (and we'd been up since 5:00 a.m.), I was wondering if we'd end up spending our first full day at Disney sleeping.
Bedtimes? On vacation? At DISNEY WORLD?! To quote my 3 year old's favorite phrase: NEVER! (He says is with such flair, though - sort of a cross between Bugs Bunny and William Wallace.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
but don't have a problem with roast beast.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say the roast beast is from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And it sounds delicious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
a) Jumped up and down like a madman when the pager buzzed, screaming, "YEAH! WE GOT A SEAT!! IN YOUR FACE, NON-ADR-MAKING-PEOPLE!!! WOOOT!!!!!"
b) Silently kept my head down and eyes straight ahead and gone into the restaurant quietly.
c) Said nothing, but attempted to high-five Mickey on the way in.
d) Given my seat to anyone who looked particularly desperate, or
e) All of the above?

I went with b).
Dude, it's your TR. We weren't there. Go ahead and say A. Or at least C. Or F: walked past all the people like you owned the place, and when someone looked at you, scream "How dare you make eye contact with me! Don't you know who I am!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Goofy even came around for a second visit and hit me with the old "tap him on one shoulder while coming around the other side" trick. Being a veteran of this savvy move myself, I easily saw it coming*.
*Ok, I fell for this simple trick hook, line and sinker. And my kids all laughed at me. Then Goofy took my hat off and started making fun of my receding hairline. Don't tell anyone, ok?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
On the bus ride back to POR, many mothers with small children climbed aboard, so I gave up my seat and stood. DIS Dads Man Law...UPHELD.
Your momma should be proud.


I'm with you on the food. I can't say I've ever ate at a Disney restaurant where there was bad food. Some of these "reviews" make it seem like they're serving you low grade dog food or that you can still see the marks on your steak where the jockey was hitting it.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:08 AM   #104
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Great update! I missed the lines, sorry, busy day at work today.

I would have gone with either a) or f) from FreezinRafiki. Both would have been completely acceptable and very Disney-like in spirit.




I will say that when we ate at Chef Mickey's, we were waiting in line with our pager and I saw that they were starting to seat people, so I commented to DH that our pager would probably go off right as we were getting to Mickey. And guess what? Our pager went off right as the people in front of us were getting their picture.

I was tempted to start yelling "Don't give our table away! Don't do it! We'll be there! It's Mickey's fault!" but I didn't.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:41 AM   #105
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Ok everyone beat me to the movie references (Forrest Gump and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, just for the record!)......but honestly all I could think of while reading the various incarnations of shrimp was "Spam, Eggs, Sausage and Spam," "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans, and Spam...." and so it goes!

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