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Old 12-22-2013, 08:41 PM   #46
IheartDDuck
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I was a few updates behind, so I'm catching up now.

Oh man, three hours to get through customs! That's insane. It took us about 2 1/2 when we flew to London last year. It's definitely the roughest part of overseas travel.

The resort looks really nice! For that lengthy of a trip, it's definitely nice for you guys to have an apartment style accommodation.

Hahahaha. Trust me. Walmart is no wonder. I'm teasing. We all have opposite ends of the spectrum. The big stores take over everything here, and I miss the days of smaller establishments. Walmart certainly wins on price, I give them that. But what they give in size they lose in other areas. Ours in my area are terrible.

Tipping is always tough country to country. Here, because they pay so poorly (servers generally only make $3.25 per hour), we tip higher. But I still tip low if the service is bad. Because they have to work for it, they deserve it when they get less money. IMO.

Crowds will always get you in the end. I love the idea of the parties, but I know they just get so crowded, so we tend to avoid them. Plus, they're so expensive now!
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Old 12-23-2013, 11:13 AM   #47
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The Kennedy Space Centre

After a tiring and somewhat disappointing night at MNSSHP, we got up at about 9am to visit the Kennedy Space Centre. It opens at 9am, and all said and done, we didn’t arrive until 12pm.

The roads are so straight in Florida! Ours are twisty and compacted to accommodate all the housing and buildings. What a beautiful, bright morning it was...



We finally arrived and got incredibly excited upon seeing the first ‘official’ sign...



Considering it was Saturday, it was incredibly quiet. And by incredibly quiet, I mean it was honestly a ghost town! Restaurants were completely empty, exhibits had few people in them, shops had very few shoppers. We decided to head first to the brand new Atlantis exhibition.







It was spectacular. Very patriotic, but even I felt a little emotional watching the videos and looking at the displays. Seeing the ‘real’ Atlantis space shuttle was an incredible experience.



There were interactive play areas and a neat slide that children could slide down. Sadly I could not- I was too tall. (Rarely hear that one- my height often causes people to think I am eleven or twelve which certainly gets tiring.)





Typical novelty for us- the space toilets! We of course had to get photographs. In case you were wondering what the photo was in my introduction- you now know we were sitting on a unique, somewhat strange space toilet!







After looking through the enormous Atlantis exhibition, we rode the astronaut simulator, which was a ridiculously huge hype for what it was. We then headed over to the main cafe and got some lunch. It was fairly pricey, but no more than what you’d pay for a meal in a Disney CS restaurant. I chose pizza which was surprisingly pretty nice!



We were running out of time so headed over to take the bus tour around the area.





Our bus driver was really enthusiastic and told us all about the history of KSC. It was incredibly surreal seeing the sights we’ve only seen in documentaries and on the news before.





We were then dropped off at the Saturn V Centre (?) and explored more exhibits. Overall, it was fascinating. We got back to the main visitor centre and headed back to the car when Rory saw the Angry Birds exhibit and insisted on going in. It was a bright and colourful exhibit although definitely aimed at young children- not much of it being space related.





Rory was in a strop because he wanted to go back to the shop and buy something, so refused to get into our picture...



I find this statue to be so patriotic and lovely...



If I’m honest, the Kennedy Space Centre felt a lot like Epcot with its educational stance and the concrete layout. Although I am not a big fan of concrete, I found the Kennedy Space Centre to be a fantastic day out; heartwarming and patriotic and a real tribute to space travel.

The Hard Rock Café

We had a priority seating request for the Hard Rock Cafe, and headed straight over to Universal to make use of it! William is a big fan of the Hard Rock Cafe in London and so visiting its Orlando counterpart was a good idea. The menu is pretty much the same, and the food was just that of a standard burger bar.





We strolled around CityWalk afterwards and weren’t very impressed. Our friends have told us that Universal is fantastic- better, even- than WDW, but we just didn’t see it. My dad described it well as ‘seedy’. It’s for adults, clearly, and Willum, Rory and I felt out of place. The theme park was right next to CityWalk and we saw some of the rides on offer- they just looked like regular roller coasters.

More coming up soon!
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MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-23-2013, 11:49 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moodyzblu View Post
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.
Glad to hear you've had some good times at MNSSHP! Raining all night would be dreadful- I've heard horrible stories about parties like that before.

We also did the Christmas party (coming up) and we did prefer it to the Halloween party- although some of that may be because William didn't come and complain. It was still ridiculously crowded though- sidewalks were absolutely packed and I would say it seemed to be just as busy as the last MNSSHP. What night did you go?

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Originally Posted by IheartDDuck View Post
I was a few updates behind, so I'm catching up now.

Oh man, three hours to get through customs! That's insane. It took us about 2 1/2 when we flew to London last year. It's definitely the roughest part of overseas travel.

The resort looks really nice! For that lengthy of a trip, it's definitely nice for you guys to have an apartment style accommodation.

Hahahaha. Trust me. Walmart is no wonder. I'm teasing. We all have opposite ends of the spectrum. The big stores take over everything here, and I miss the days of smaller establishments. Walmart certainly wins on price, I give them that. But what they give in size they lose in other areas. Ours in my area are terrible.

Tipping is always tough country to country. Here, because they pay so poorly (servers generally only make $3.25 per hour), we tip higher. But I still tip low if the service is bad. Because they have to work for it, they deserve it when they get less money. IMO.

Crowds will always get you in the end. I love the idea of the parties, but I know they just get so crowded, so we tend to avoid them. Plus, they're so expensive now!
Wow, sorry you had to endure that too! The last thing you want to do after a nine hour flight is wait another three and a half hours to get through customs. What was annoying was that only half the booths were open and the domestic booths were open yet only a few Americans breezed through them!

Reunion is nice, and the accommodation is better quality than SSR, but SSR and Disney resorts just have a magical 'feel'.

I have to admit, whilst we have big supermarkets, Walmart is in a category of its own. We still have all the nice little village and town businesses though. I am having withdrawal symptoms from Walmart's cheap scrapbooking and ribbon supplies.

I agree with your idea of tipping- we tipped generously in most cases. But when serving is mediocre, would you tip Disney's suggested 18%? That's what we really struggled with.

I expected crowds, but not to the extent they were. MVMCP was just as crowded despite being predicted as low crowds. That was pretty disappointing.
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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 12-23-2013, 12:29 PM   #49
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love the TR so far...you're pretty amazing young lady,planning all of this,saving money,and bringing you entire family! WOW! (BTW, you do look young for your age,at 17, you probably get sick of hearing it, but trust me, you'll love it when you get into your 40's ) Also,I love your mom's "minnie" outfit for the party,cute dress! looking forward to reading more...(BTW,I agree about Universal)
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Old 12-23-2013, 06:54 PM   #50
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Subscribed! I'm really enjoying your TR so far, though I'm sorry the Halloween party wasn't very good we went to a sold out Christmas party and it really was a zoo, especially with the parades and Wishes! I'm looking forward to seeing how your Christmas party went, along with all those ADRs!
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Old 12-23-2013, 09:55 PM   #51
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I've never been to MNSSHP but I've done MVMCP several times. I'm convinced by now you can't do everything. It seems like it becomes a dance between doing rides with short lines versus the specialty parade and shows and characters. It's imperative to have a solid game plan going in. Even as veteran MVMCP goers we failed miserably this trip to do a good job of planning ahead. It left us feeling a bit disappointed at the end of the party. We felt like we wasted so much time without really accomplishing much and leaving a lot on the table.

Loved your pics of the Kennedy Space Center. I've never been before but your pictures sure have me much more intrigued than ever before.
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:06 AM   #52
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Hello! I'm enjoying your trip report so much I'm a disneyland semi-regular who's been doing some research on WDW and I stumbled upon your report.

Great photos and writing, and you and your family are adorable. The space toilet photos cracked me up Can't wait to read more
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Old 12-29-2013, 04:54 PM   #53
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Celebration

After a day at Kennedy Space Centre, we decided to do something more local to Kissimmee. We decided (after much insistence on my part) to visit the beautiful town Celebration. Even the entrance to the town is beautiful with perfectly maintained white picket fences. Celebration is a town built and planned by the Walt Disney Company, I believe. Taken from Wikipedia:

“Celebration is a census-designated place (CDP) and a master-planned community in Osceola County, Florida, United States, located near Walt Disney World Resort and originally developed by The Walt Disney Company. As part of the Orlando–Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area, Celebration's population was 7,427 at the 2010 census.

Subsequent to founding Celebration, Disney followed its plans to divest most of its control of the town. Several Disney business units continue to occupy the town's office buildings, and two utility companies, Smart City Telecom and Reedy Creek Energy Services, both operated from Walt Disney World, provide services to the town. The town itself remains directly connected to the Walt Disney World resorts via one of its primary streets, World Drive, which begins near the Magic Kingdom.”


We drove right into the town centre and parked near to the gallery shop. William and Rory, being miserable, refused to get out of the car. Eventually I dragged Rory out by persuading him to come and see if there were any toy shops.

We walked along the streets and were really surprised at the general ‘feel’ of the place. It is an incredibly clean and well-kept place. The houses were perfectly maintained and decorated with festive ornaments and decorations. The pavements and roads were also incredibly smart and all the grass was bright, green and fresh.

My mum and I particularly enjoyed the shops. I saw a really lovely dress that I regret passing up now! My mum also saw a black one that she’d like, but she passed also. The shops are all boutique-style and incredibly smart.







We peeked in the Celebration Hotel and were in awe! It was incredibly smart. If you are thinking of staying off-property but nearby- this would definitely be an option. It’s so much more convenient and pretty than staying in Kissimmee or International Drive.



The smart Celebration Hotel car parked outside attracted my dad’s and Willum’s attention: pose for a photograph!



A restaurant that particularly impressed us was the diner located just opposite the lake. It looked incredibly authentic and we felt like a meal there later in the day was worth considering. I believe we ended up just eating at the Florida Mall in the food court instead.



This was one of the main roads with all sorts of shops and boutiques open for customers. It was fun to ‘discover’ what each was selling. I got a few things to take home as souvenirs.



The lake is beautiful, and there are deck chairs and parasols for everyone to enjoy it. What a fantastic way to spend the day- right?! That building in the right hand corner is the Celebration Hotel- it’s clear how nearby it is to all Celebration offers!



There are handy directories to help you get around the town. There are also some truly unique shops, with an adorable dog shop and some others worth a visit.



[IMG][/IMG]



Of course, my dad and brothers dislike shopping and were begging to leave after an hour or so in Celebration. We headed on to the Florida Mall to do some more... shopping! Rory wanted to get a Minecraft sword and Willum wanted to buy some trainers.

Overall, if you have a morning or afternoon to spare and want to do something a little different, a visit to Celebration is a great idea. My parents found the ‘feel’ really strange because it was SO clean and SO well maintained. I really liked it- I thought it was very ‘Disney’- but I must admit it didn’t feel like a place where one could actually live and work. Everything was so perfect, clean and pretty.

More to come soon!
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MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-29-2013, 07:19 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hsmamato2 View Post
love the TR so far...you're pretty amazing young lady,planning all of this,saving money,and bringing you entire family! WOW! (BTW, you do look young for your age,at 17, you probably get sick of hearing it, but trust me, you'll love it when you get into your 40's ) Also,I love your mom's "minnie" outfit for the party,cute dress! looking forward to reading more...(BTW,I agree about Universal)
Thank you for all the compliments- they mean a lot! I am used to being told the whole 'you'll love it when you're older' thing, so only hope it is true! My cousin is 4"11 and aged 35 yet got refused alcohol last year (and in the UK the legal drinking limit is 18). It is nice buying cheap clothes from kidswear instead of adult sizes. It's just hard to get things to fit sometimes!

Thanks- that's my Minnie dress but I let my mum borrow it. She didn't have a costume and couldn't fit into my Chinese dress. Glad to har someone agree with me regarding Universal- most people tell us it is superior to Disney (but haven't stayed onsite at WDW...)

Thanks for joining in!

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Originally Posted by courtneybelle View Post
Subscribed! I'm really enjoying your TR so far, though I'm sorry the Halloween party wasn't very good we went to a sold out Christmas party and it really was a zoo, especially with the parades and Wishes! I'm looking forward to seeing how your Christmas party went, along with all those ADRs!
Thanks for joining in!

Which Christmas party did you go to? Sold out raises huge flags for me... And the crowds just don't bring out the best in people. People grabbed spots for the parade 4 hours prior to it starting... We had no chance whatsoever!!

Lots of ADRs to comment on- hope you enjoy the rest of the report!

Quote:
Originally Posted by B&WMickey View Post
I've never been to MNSSHP but I've done MVMCP several times. I'm convinced by now you can't do everything. It seems like it becomes a dance between doing rides with short lines versus the specialty parade and shows and characters. It's imperative to have a solid game plan going in. Even as veteran MVMCP goers we failed miserably this trip to do a good job of planning ahead. It left us feeling a bit disappointed at the end of the party. We felt like we wasted so much time without really accomplishing much and leaving a lot on the table. Loved your pics of the Kennedy Space Center. I've never been before but your pictures sure have me much more intrigued than ever before.
I'm so sorry you didn't have a good MVMCP experience either. People say MNSSHP is more fun, yet we still preferred MVMCP- the atmosphere was more magical!

I suppose I shouldn't have expected to do as much, but to see the parade and fireworks and ride a few rides should be fairly realistic. With MVMCP in particular, which wasn't forecast to be crowded, the crowds were very hard to handle.

Thanks! The KSC really was great, and I would highly recommend it for pretty much anyone. There are loads of different things to do and I actually enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. The Atlantis exhibit is brand new and IMO the highlight of the visitor centre whilst you can't really beat the tour of the KSC site either.

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Hello! I'm enjoying your trip report so much I'm a disneyland semi-regular who's been doing some research on WDW and I stumbled upon your report. Great photos and writing, and you and your family are adorable. The space toilet photos cracked me up Can't wait to read more
Hi there! So glad you joined in! I've always wanted to visit Disneyland, but that probably won't happen for a while.

If this is your first time to WDW you will absolutely love it- there's so much on offer! Thanks for the compliments! With regards to the space toilets... My Scottish father has a very 'unique' sense of humour and I guess he passed it on to us...

Meg~ Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
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MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-29-2013, 09:32 PM   #55
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To answer the question early, about Disney's recommended 18%, I would not tip that at all for mediocre service. I believe they put the recommendations on there because of so many overseas customers, and the fact that tipping customs are so different everywhere else. But if the service is bad, you don't tip the recommended amount.

I haven't been to Kennedy Space Center in years! We went when I was 4 and again when I was 9, and I was so bored, not a fan, and told my parents I never wanted to go back again. I'm sure I would have felt very different if I was older.

Universal is geared more towards the older crowd. They have several high speed roller coasters. I go, because of Harry Potter and such, but I'm truly a Disney girl at heart.

Celebration is a really nice place to see at least once.
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:41 PM   #56
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Subbing in a bit late!

Your trip sounds like a lot of fun so far, despite a few bumps in the road! You also sound a lot like me! It's nice to see another girl similar to my age also planning her family's Disney trip. Anyway, I can't wait to read the next update!
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:37 PM   #57
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Check-In at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa

Today was the day! Check in at Saratoga Springs and we were incredibly excited. This fabulous event meant many things, among them:

Getting our customised Magic Bands
Gaining park entry for 14 glorious days
Access to the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan- that meant 165 TS credits and 110 snack credits!
Staying in the MIDDLE of the magic, and TOTAL immersion in all things Disney!


Luckily, we didn't get lost on the way to SSR. Need I remind you about our dreadful two hour drive across Orlando and beyond in our attempt to locate Reunion Resort. It turns out WDW is signposted pretty well. Other Floridian signposting is fairly terrible!

We were all incredibly excited. Whilst we loved the space and luxury our Reunion apartment offered us, it couldn't compare with a villa at Saratoga Springs... a stone's throw from all the excitement of the theme parks and shopping districts WDW offers. Plus, whilst staying at Reunion, we ate at Mcdonalds, Denny's, food courts... at SSR we could indulge in the best dining WDW offers.

Rushing up to the Carriage House Check-In...



We had to wait a while to check in as the people in front of us were taking ages. What a beautiful welcome!





Happy to be back 'home'... we truly love SSR.



We got our Magic Bands... or rather the box was handed to my mum. I attempted to take it from her and she stopped me! I felt like reminding her if it wasn't for me... we'd have grey, boring Magic Bands.

Whilst my parents finalised things at the front desk, I went and took a few photographs of the lovely lobby. It probably isn't in the same league as BC, YC, BWI or the GF, but it is still pretty impressive.







We had requested a two-bedroom dedicated villa. (Rather than a two-bedroom lock-off villa which is essentially a one-bedroom villa and a studio joined together.) We also requested a location in the Springs, the closest to the main pool, restaurants and shop. It was a five minute walk from the Paddock Pool which we ended up loving.

This is the block of the Springs we were in. It's incredibly pretty!



Our Two-Bedroom Villa

I was incredibly excited to see the newly refurbished rooms at SSR. I wasn't disappointed- I knew it was only a soft-furnishings refurbishment. I think my family was expecting a completely different look as they looked at me and muttered...

"It looks exactly the same..."

Here's the living area with kitchen...



We didn't use the kitchen much but found it very handy. The plates, cups, mugs and glasses we used along with the cutlery in the morning were always put into the dishwasher and clean by the time we returned mid-afternoon from the parks, courtesy of 'Mousekeeping'.

The bedrooms were really lovely, with new furnishings and throws among other things... I'm afraid I didn't for whatever reason get a photo of the main bathroom, which was lovely with a Jacuzzi tub. The refurbishment missed out the kitchen and bathrooms pretty much completely, which I think was a let down.





Willum, Rors and I shared the second bedroom which had a convenient en-suite bathroom.





The view from the balcony wasn't great. On our last stay we had a fabulous view looking out onto one of the beautiful lakes SSR boasts, so this wasn't nearly as enamouring. However we didn't plan to spend much time on the balcony, so it wasn't too bad. It's just nice to sip some tea or coffee admiring the lake sometimes.



We also received a leaflet with information on all the movies and events happening at SSR for that week. Loved this!



To finish our exciting check-in experience... here's a photo of Rory proudly sporting his green Magic Band. What fantastic little devices to have. They really did make our trip.



Coming up- our debut DDP lunchtime treat at Beaches and Cream!
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$5 A Day Means Disney MY Way! An October TR
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MNSSHP, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and MVMCP all in one trip!~



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Old 12-30-2013, 12:52 PM   #58
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To answer the question early, about Disney's recommended 18%, I would not tip that at all for mediocre service. I believe they put the recommendations on there because of so many overseas customers, and the fact that tipping customs are so different everywhere else. But if the service is bad, you don't tip the recommended amount.

I haven't been to Kennedy Space Center in years! We went when I was 4 and again when I was 9, and I was so bored, not a fan, and told my parents I never wanted to go back again. I'm sure I would have felt very different if I was older.

Universal is geared more towards the older crowd. They have several high speed roller coasters. I go, because of Harry Potter and such, but I'm truly a Disney girl at heart.

Celebration is a really nice place to see at least once.
I'm glad you confirmed that for next time! I've been told tipping less than 18% for mediocre service is still expected. Apparently if service is good, 18% is an insult.

I'm sure KSC has become more kid-friendly than when you were a kid- Rory sure enjoyed it! It really is worth a visit.

I sensed it was geared towards the older crowd when I saw a tattoo parlour, haha! After visiting Citywalk I am not inspired to pay to visit the parks.

Quote:
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Subbing in a bit late!

Your trip sounds like a lot of fun so far, despite a few bumps in the road! You also sound a lot like me! It's nice to see another girl similar to my age also planning her family's Disney trip. Anyway, I can't wait to read the next update!
Welcome and thanks for joining in! Oh, how old are you? Nice to meet someone closer to my age planning a trip!!
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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 12-30-2013, 01:10 PM   #59
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Welcome and thanks for joining in! Oh, how old are you? Nice to meet someone closer to my age planning a trip!!
I'm fifteen, a tad younger than you are. However, I think I'm definitely closer in age to you than a lot of other DISers! Born in the glorious year of 1998.
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Old 12-30-2013, 01:32 PM   #60
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Subscribed!

It's funny how different tipping is across the US. In my state, servers make more per hour than in most states, but I've always been led to believe I should still tip around 20%.

My mom used to be a waitress here (mexican restaurant) and she made more doing that than she did working for the schools. Around $100 a night just in tips.
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