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Old 11-24-2013, 04:19 PM   #31
meggiebeth
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Adjusting to Floridian Life- 'To the Pool!'

After a fairly long night of sleep, we were eager and excited to start exploring the Orlando area. The next day we would be attending Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party, so this was to be a fairly relaxed day where we could adjust to the five hour time difference we were faced with. So what to do first? A trip to the supermarket of course!

After having a quick breakfast from the food wed grabbed from a distant Walmart the night before (we had no idea where we were!) we hopped into our spacious mini-van and drove to Publix, a fairly large (by British standards) shop opposite Reunion Resort. Id have rather visited the wonder that is Walmart again, but my parents were wary of getting lost again.

Publix and Tinned Soup

Publix is a lovely shop, but we didnt remember the prices being as high as they were! The fruit and vegetables were laid out in such a beautiful way in particular. We were looking to buy some tinned soup and cringed at the prices until we realised we were in fact in the International Foods aisle and the soup was British. Needless to say we passed that opportunity and went for some different food!

After visiting Publix, we decided that it must be the same standard as a Sainsburys or Waitrose back at home. Walmart actually owns our supermarket brand Asda, but Walmart is so much bigger and better! We enjoyed some lunch at the apartment (me looking forward to the sumptuous meals at Disney lying ahead) and decided to take advantage of the weather- which was in the eighties fareinheight- and go to the Seven Eagles pool- Reunions main pool complete with a gym, arcade and pool bar and cafe.

Reunion Pool Day

At the pool, I decided some seasoned fries were in order- we ordered two portions which were plenty for the five of us to snack on. Overall we had a wonderful time at the pool and really felt like we were on holiday. When I went to buy the fries, I wasnt sure whether to tip the bar guy as the person ahead of me did. So I didnt bother, but I do get terribly confused with your US tipping rules so to speak!

Reunion is a beautiful but very quiet resort, with not much of an ambience like Disney resorts. However, renting from a private owner made it a lot cheaper than a Disney resort, so a good option for the start of our trip.

The view from our balcony...





As you can see, I was thrilled to be back at Reunion, and couldnt wait to get into the pool!



My mum also found it surreal, but a much needed break on our first day...



Willum and Rors enjoyed the main pool, but found the hot tub relaxing too!



Rory is a little water baby- he adores the water! This is probably one of his favourite parts of the holiday. Getting him out of the pool to go back to the apartment was always a challenge- One more minute! was a common phrase we heard. We had a fantastic time swimming and splashing together.



Guys, Im a bit busy here!



WIIILLLLLUUUMM! *Splash*



He finally reluctantly left the hot tub to tuck in on some tasty fries...



Here me and Rors are sitting on a sunbed enjoying some of those much anticipated fries...


Whilst my lovely dad enjoyed his share alongside a puzzle!



Willum, on the other hand, liked to pose for photographs whilst swimming. This one shortly made it to his screensaver on his laptop!



We were honestly thrilled to be back in Florida and excited for what our trip would entail.



As we left, we excitedly awaited our next trip to the pool at Reunion!

Say goodbye! What a great way to start a holiday!



In the evening, we had a simple meal at Dennys, excitedly anticipating the next day- Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party! Before we left, I made sure to go on the internet and print off some coupons for restaurants for our stay at Reunion. We got 20% off of our total bill at Dennys- every little helps! You are very lucky in the US having access to coupons like these- they are virtually non-existent in the UK- everything is a lot more expensive! I saved a lot of money using my coupons, so I would really urge others to do the same if they can.

Exhausted, we went to bed early, preparing ourselves for the day ahead. We had lots to do- and costumes to organize! What else could it be... Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party!
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
~Our 18 day trip to Walt Disney World. Deluxe Dining Plan, Keys to the Kingdom Tour,
MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~




Last edited by meggiebeth; 11-24-2013 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 11-24-2013, 04:42 PM   #32
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Joining in - can't wait to read more!
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Only saved for a little over a year! =D First time home-buyers can utilize a lot of specialized stuff in regards to financing and down payments, plus we got a short-saled home (ie: super cheap house). Our mortgage+taxes are about $300/month less than renting, so it's pretty fantastic for us (We own a home now AND we're doing Disney years sooner than we thought possible.)

The Reunion Resort is absolutely beautiful! Also, I love your younger brother's name. It was one of my top picks for my son, but I wasn't sure how well it'd go over in the States, lol. He still got a pretty UK name (Top 10, I think?), but at least it's gaining popularity over here, lol!
That sounds fantastic! You're so lucky to already own a home! And to be less than renting is pretty amazing too- I am not sure that would happen here! I think once you start renting, it's a lot harder to get on the housing market, too.

Thanks- I'll tell him you like it! I love his name too- I think it is really sweet. (Although uncommon in England as it is a very Scottish name!) I'm wondering what name you chose for your son, surely a top 10 name in the UK can't be too uncommon in the US!


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I'm here! can't wait to read more.... we leave in 6 days can't believe it's finally here... I will try to take notes and do a trip report when I get back but no promises..haha
Hi again! It's lovely to have you! You must be so excited for your upcoming trip- I will keep my eyes open for your trip report if you decide to do one!

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Subscribed! Hoping you get a chance to enjoy the international program. You'd be a great asset, and I'm a huge advocate after my college program
Thanks for joining in! Thanks so much for that, I'd love to join the college program but am not sure I'd be able to move so far away from home, even for a short time! I am hoping I can do it though.
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
~Our 18 day trip to Walt Disney World. Deluxe Dining Plan, Keys to the Kingdom Tour,
MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 11-25-2013, 11:02 AM   #33
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Joining in ! Looking forward to reading more about your trip.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:05 AM   #34
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I am joining in, I am on the November 2013 facebook group!
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:22 AM   #35
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Came over from our Nov Facbook page!
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:25 AM   #36
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Old 12-01-2013, 02:47 PM   #37
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Dinner at the Plaza Restaurant

After a chaotic morning of explorations of Walmart and preparing for MNSSHP, we excitedly headed over to Magic Kingdom- our first Disney park of the trip! Needless to say, we were thrilled. We could enter the park at 4pm using our party tickets, so had plenty of time to get to the Plaza Restaurant for our early dinner ADR of 4:15pm. Or so we thought!

We arrived at the PARK at 4:15pm, and as typical with our family (you will almost come to expect it later in the TR), rushed over to the Plaza Restaurant. The park wasn't very busy yet, but a large proportion of guests walking around were in costumes, so we knew that MNSSHP would be busy later on in the night. In fact, when we drove to the park and paid for parking, we saw the 'Sorry, tonight's party is sold out' sign and realised- oh heck- this party is going to be PACKED!

For the record, we were attending the very last MNSSHP of the year on the 1st November. This is known to be one of the busiest parties of the year, next to the party on Halloween night. We (or at least I) came with expectations that took the crowds into account. So, we weren't surprised to say the least when upon our rushed arrival at the Plaza Restaurant when the seating hostess told us they were running behind. We waited nearby to be called, whilst I went off to the nearby merchandise cart selling Mickey ears and autograph books to buy two autograph books- one for Rory and one for myself. We were eventually called and taken to our table.

The restaurant is beautiful, but very small, so it isn't surprising that it was running behind so much. Our table was in a conservatory-like room and we had a wonderful window seat with a fantastic view of the castle and passers-by. It was lovely watching people in costumes walk by. The family seated next to us were dressed as surgeons- which was really cute!

Here my lovely dad and I are, happy to be back at the wonderful Magic Kingdom.



Our waiter was polite- but very distant, and not very friendly. It wasn't the greatest start waiter-wise to our trip, but he wasn't rude so I shan't complain too much! He took our drinks orders and then we ordered our entrees- we weren't on the deluxe dining plan until we checked in at SSR so didn't want to order appetizers.

Our entrees were brought out fairly promptly and we really enjoyed them. We actually shared entrees as we had eaten at McDonalds at Walmart earlier and everyone but me wasn't very hungry. (I tried to tell them that we were eating just after 4pm, but no, that didn't seem to matter! )



Adult's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I ordered the adult's grilled cheese sandwich, which isn't listed on the main menu. It was very nice, but just a typical cheese toastie. I am vegetarian, so for any vegetarian readers, this is a good option to opt for!



Vegetarian Sandwich ~ $11.99

Fresh Mozzarella, Hummus, Basil Pesto, Cucumber, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and lettuce on Freshly Baked Focaccia with choice of Broccoli Slaw, Homemade Chips, or French Fries

My parents ordered the vegetarian sandwich to share, which they very much liked. They said it tasted fantastic, although the focaccia bread was quite stale. They said they would recommend it not only for vegetarians but for those who don't feel like a stodgy meal filled with meat!



Angus Chuck Cheeseburger ~ $14.99

Served on a Flour-dusted Kaiser Roll with Lettuce, Tomato and Onion. Choose from the following toppings: Cheddar, American Cheese, Bacon, Grilled Mushrooms or Grilled Onions. Veggie Burgers available upon request. Served with choice of Broccoli Slaw, Homemade Chips, or French Fries

William thought this was OK, but he found the burger quite dry, I believe. He orders burgers without all the fancy accompaniments so there was even less to distract from the dry-ness of the burger and bread. It is worth noting that Willum has braces and so struggles with meat anyway, so this may have altered his opinion. Despite loving meat, he often had to pass up entrées he wanted due to the risk of the food altering or getting caught in his braces.

Willum and I decided to order dessert- he wanted to order a sundae all to himself but I knew we ought to share one together- the portions are huge! Earlier in the meal I saw another table ordering the Plaza Brownie Sundae and decided then and there, that was what I wanted! For some reason, we didn't take a photograph of dessert, so here is a photograph I took off of the internet!



Brownie Sundae ~ $6.49

Vanilla Ice Cream and a Fudge Brownie topped with Hot Fudge, Whipped Cream, and a Cherry

In one word, this was DELICIOUS! It is absolutely suitable for two people- I don't think one person could possibly finish it on top of an entrée. It is a huge chocolate brownie cut in half, served with two scoops of ice cream. I vastly prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla, so asked if one scoop could be chocolate (for me) and the other remain vanilla (for Willum). Absolutely no problem, and we still didn't finish the dessert- it just filled us up too much! It is pretty good value for $6.49. Desserts we get in restaurants in the UK cost upwards of $8 and for much, much less actual food.

After the meal, we hurried on out to enjoy MK before the party started! A slight inconvenience is that the Plaza Restaurant doesn't have restrooms inside, so you have to head outside the restaurant to the nearby public restrooms heading towards Tomorrowland.

We tipped the waiter 18%, but not very happily. It was almost like he expected a tip, so wasn't very attentive, nor friendly. On our last trip we encountered some unfriendly behaviour due to lower tipping so were too scared to tip lower than 18%. I don't actually think it is very fair to recommend an 18% tip as a minimum, when 15% is still very much OK in our eyes. In the UK, we tip 10% generally for outstanding service, so it is hard adjusting to US rules when you know a waiter does not deserve it, even though you know they don't get paid much hourly.

Overall, we would rate this restaurant...

/ 5

Atmosphere: 7
Value: 7
Food: 7
Service: 5

It is a good choice for a cheaper TS meal in Magic Kingdom, although not good value on the DDP. If you are paying OOP, this place is a great choice! We really enjoyed it- only the waiter put a slight damper on it. It really is a little hidden gem in the MK, and it really is very small!

Off we went further up Main Street USA, where we found the Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Parade happening in full force, before admiring Cinderella's castle.



What a lovely view, right?

Coming up- more MNSSHP, costumes, rides, shows and more!
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
~Our 18 day trip to Walt Disney World. Deluxe Dining Plan, Keys to the Kingdom Tour,
MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~




Last edited by meggiebeth; 12-01-2013 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:00 PM   #38
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Joining in ! Looking forward to reading more about your trip.
Thanks for joining in, hope you enjoy the report!

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I am joining in, I am on the November 2013 facebook group!
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I just have to say your picture is adorable.
I have to agree!
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
~Our 18 day trip to Walt Disney World. Deluxe Dining Plan, Keys to the Kingdom Tour,
MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-01-2013, 04:00 PM   #39
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Yay! Another update!

We also ate at The Plaza on our MNSSHP night and we were less than impressed with our server, too. She was prompt so I guess that's all that matters, but just on the unfriendly side.
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Old 12-01-2013, 04:35 PM   #40
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Phenomenal overview! You should blog!
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:49 PM   #41
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I agree about the whole 18% tipping thing. I hate the fact they put only two break downs on the bill, 18% and 20%, especially when 15% is still very customary here in the US. It really puts you in a tight spot even when you feel like you've left a good tip.
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:23 PM   #42
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Just joined in.....as far as tipping goes I have been a waitress so I tip according to what service I get and if others don't like that ......well I could care less if you don't treat us right then that's your problem. On the other hand I tip very well if my waiter/waitress is on top of there game...
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Old 12-02-2013, 03:51 PM   #43
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Yay! Another update!

We also ate at The Plaza on our MNSSHP night and we were less than impressed with our server, too. She was prompt so I guess that's all that matters, but just on the unfriendly side.
Strange, maybe the Plaza attracts the less enthusiastic servers? Sorry to hear your experience with service wasn't great either. I'd give it another chance, but pray for another server!

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Phenomenal overview! You should blog!
Thank you, that's very kind of you to say. I really love English and writing in general!

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I agree about the whole 18% tipping thing. I hate the fact they put only two break downs on the bill, 18% and 20%, especially when 15% is still very customary here in the US. It really puts you in a tight spot even when you feel like you've left a good tip.
Exactly, it does! I am glad others agree- when I have said it before here I have been told that 15% is no longer acceptable, and 18% is the new norm! I think 15% is a good tip...

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Just joined in.....as far as tipping goes I have been a waitress so I tip according to what service I get and if others don't like that ......well I could care less if you don't treat us right then that's your problem. On the other hand I tip very well if my waiter/waitress is on top of there game...
Nice to hear it from a waitress- and I'd have to agree if their service is good they of course deserve a tip! I am also a part-time waitress despite being in school still, so can sort of understand where they are coming from. However we get paid a lot better here, so I can never totally understand what it must be like for wait staff in the US. (Although still, as I am less than 18 I get paid a terrible hourly rate which bugs me...)
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
~Our 18 day trip to Walt Disney World. Deluxe Dining Plan, Keys to the Kingdom Tour,
MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-22-2013, 04:48 PM   #44
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Welcome back- I am so sorry for the lack of updates. With the Christmas season coming up and a very chaotic few weeks at school, I’ve had little time for anything else!

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

After leaving the Plaza Restaurant for our early dinner, we walked up Main Street for the first time in two years- and it felt incredible. Our favourite park is Magic Kingdom and we’d waited two years, saving frantically, for this moment to come. As we took in the atmosphere, we walked past the Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Parade and headed right over to Haunted Mansion. The line was pretty short, and we got right on.



Here's us in our costumes! William brought a costume but it was supposedly too hot for him to wear it. I have to admit it was 30 degrees celcius and pretty baking. My dad isn't really wearing a costume- more his own kilt- he wears it to parties and barn dances and weddings (including his own!)





After riding Haunted Mansion, I really wanted to get in line for Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. It was 6:30pm by now and I had read prior to the trip that this line starts forming an hour in advance! Of course, William and my dad were totally reluctant to do this, and grumpily insisted on going elsewhere whilst my mum, my brother and I queued up for the meet.



We ended up waiting for about 45 minutes, and the time in line was certainly interesting. A few people ahead of us, a lady dressed up very authentically as Giselle and was talking to little girls throughout the wait. They ended up sitting on the floor, a big circle of them, talking. It was very sweet to watch, and a few of the other guests waiting chatted to us about how she must be a Disney CM- she knew all the actions that a princess would be expected to do and flawlessly spoke about Andalasia!

I spoke to a few little girls, who were also very sweet- dressed as Rapunzel- and their mothers. Of course they thought my accent was strange, and whilst they didn’t understand where England was, they gave a sigh of relief when their mother told them ‘Where the Queen lives!’

We saw Rapunzel and Flynn first, followed by Snow White and the Prince. The attendant was very nice, and lent us a pen because we forgot- taking care of our PhotoPass card and even chatting to us about what to do at the party later on. Rapunzel and Flynn loved Rory’s costume and insisted he join Maximus in protecting the kingdom, whilst we had an interesting talk with Snow White and the Prince about the pantomime we are in- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves- in February (I am Snow White!) They didn’t know what a pantomime was, so we explained it is an English tradition of a comical and somewhat corny show- a little like the Hoop De Doo Revue.









We met back up with my dad and brother who insisted on riding more rides. The party was absolutely packed, and I was desperate to do some of the party-exclusive offerings that we had PAID to do. We didn’t even get a good spot to watch the fireworks- we were walking through Frontierland when they went off. It was a nice panoramic view, but it didn’t make for great photographs.
We did some trick-or-treating trails which were absolutely painful because they were so busy. We had to wait twenty minutes just to get a scoop of candy, which certainly made for an even grumpier Willum and Daddy.



Afterwards Willum, Daddy and Rory went off to ride MORE rides whilst my mum and I watched the second parade. People kept shoving their children in front of us which got irritating, but our view was okay so I can’t complain too much. I was very stressed and couldn’t really enjoy the parade properly- we’d spent all evening arguing about what to do! The parade was pretty good, although there was a mad dash for candy whenever a walker in the parade gave any out.



We caught the final Villains Mix and Mingle and met Captain Hook. The characters were only out for 10 minutes before they ‘had to go’- pretty poor show according to my dad. Some of the guests in the character lines never got to meet the character they’d queued for. It would not have taken much more effort for them to stay five minutes longer to meet all the guests.



We went home tired and a little disappointed. It was probably the second worse day we had on the trip (there was a very bad day later on...) and whilst a lot of it was due to disagreement within my family about what to do, the crowds really put a dampener on things.

Final Thoughts on MNSSHP

1-10 (1 being absolutely terrible, 10 being great)

Atmosphere: 7 ~ A vibrant atmosphere with lots of fun! There were simply too many lines, though- and we came prepared for them!
Entertainment: 7 ~ Fabulous entertainment, but the crowds ruined it for the most part
Rides: 9 ~ Even on one of the busiest MNSSHP nights of the year, lines for rides were non-existent
Trick-or-Treating: 4 ~ Trick-or-Treating lines were horrendously long and not really worth the wait
Crowds: 2 ~ Crowds were close to unbearable. At points we were shoulder to shoulder with people, and battling the crowds for parade spots really devalued the experience for us
Value for Money: 6 ~ Maybe on a quiet party night, this would rise considerably. We got very little done and overall it was a disappointing evening.

Overall my experience is probably affected by the disagreements between family members. Despite paying a fortune for MNSSHP to enjoy the special events, my family seemed more intent on riding rides. I planned the whole trip and felt they could have at least joined in a little with me! William is the main culprit- he’s fifteen and hates the gooey Disney shows and all.

If you are thinking about going to MNSSHP on the 1st November I would think very hard about it! The entertainment is fantastic, but the crowds are rude, uncivilised and overwhelming. We saw 2 characters, half the fireworks show and the parade (with a terribly limited view) and left feeling hard done by. Disney lets way too many people into these events and it really does suck when you have to face the crowds after saving up to do such a thing! Every character we saw in the park had a fairly long line, and parade spots were sought literally four hours in advance- we had no chance whatsoever. We aren’t the type of people to arrive at 4pm and spend our whole night sitting on a curb reserving a seat, so this is just our opinion.

Sorry for the lack of photographs- there will be lots in the upcoming updates!
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Dad Mum Meg (17) William (15) Rory (9) Oscar (4)

$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
~Our 18 day trip to Walt Disney World. Deluxe Dining Plan, Keys to the Kingdom Tour,
MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-22-2013, 05:55 PM   #45
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Oh no .. so sorry MNSSHP was a disappointment ! We've been to several and had great times and not so great times (like when it rained the whole entire party one year). It's definitely hit or miss.
We did the Christmas party this year and rather enjoyed it. I think I prefer it over the Halloween party.
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