I am going to have photos - really, lots and lots of them. In fact my partner, Gwen, was up at 4:30 AM on Black Friday and on her way to Best Buy by 5:00 AM so that she could "steal," for only $39.00, a 1 GB memory card for her new toy - a digital camera that she bought special for this trip. So there will be photos, really, just as soon as I figure out how to wrestle them out of her camera and on to this board. In the meantime, here is the cast of characters: Viki: that's me, a 47 year old consultant who grew up in Florida, endlessly shepherding northern family and friends through the Magic Kingdom as they visited in June, July, and August, loving those 100 degree days and those 90 minute waits. The only relief in sight was the "free" (this was back in the days of E-tickets) Eastern Airlines continuous load ride. I loved that airline. For years afterwards, I flew that airline no matter what. I didn't even compare fares. If Eastern flew where I was going, I flew it there. That's product loyalty, but they had earned it, saving me from more than one summer swelter! Gwen: My partner of nearly years, a research scientist who came late to her Disney addiction, but with my determined enabling, she has blossomed into a proud DVC owner who even allows - sometimes even encourages- cash-based supplemental trips, when my TA and I can come up with some great group rates. DD (17) and DS (16): Let's sum up their relationship with disney with this story- we've raised them since birth, but when their adoptions finally came through five years later we left the courthouse promising that we'd book the first trip to disneyworld that we could find. We've been booking such trips ever since. Danny and John: two long time "menz" friends who we've been attempting to tempt to disney for years. John's been good to go, but Danny (the adorable snob), was more than reluctant. Finally, 15 months ago I assured him that while they were always invited to join us, I was never going to invite them (beg them) again. Of course that promise immediately elicited his conviction that he was coming with us on our next trip no matter what. Oh my, how's that for contrarian? We were also joined 8 nights in by my sister, BIL, and Dear Neice, all of whom still live in the Orlando area where we grew up, for a festive night at Ohana. As an aside let me add that although I'll write up dining reviews, complete with photos of course, at some point in the near future, I will also mention the quality of our meals in passing here in this thread and I'll do this because we are all total food addicts and for us good eating is good vacationing. NIGHT ONE: LET'S TALK WITH THE ANIMALS OK, this trip was always conceived as a Beach Club Villas vacation, at least from the point at which I asked Danny which he would prefer: the rock and roll experience of life perched on the edge of the BW or the more laid back Cape May experience of BCV. Being an adorable snob we all know which he chose. But here's the kicker: Gwen and I had to fly out one night earlier. Yup. We HAD to, no choice in the matter, and that's because we could not find a decent fare for a trip out on a Saturday, so if we were going to spend the money anyway, we reasoned, let's spend it on disney and not the airlines (Easter airlines went backrupt years ago, now prices matter). So, given that we have already booked a 10-night disney stay for August 2007 at AKL in celebration of our 20th anniversary, we decided to spend one night at AKL concierge just for the pure heck of it. Now understand, we have never resort hopped. We are much more likely to nest and root than hop and skip. But we love animals and we knew, from all of my research, that we would love concierge, so there we were, flying in for one very short, late night stay. Later, as it turned out, than we anticipated. Our flight landed before 7 PM, but it was well after 9 PM before we landed at AKL. We love disney transportation. We never complain about the in-house buses. We wait when waiting is called for and we like it. No driving, no parking, no worries. But this Magial Express is something else. I guess we're pampered, used to hiring a small van that takes us and only us from airport to resort and back again. I was prepared for our luggage arriving hours after touchdown; I was not prepared for us arriving at our resort hours after touchdown. But that was the case. First there were the waits for the bus to leave, and then there was Pop Century, Coronado Springs, and finally AKL. But that was the bottom and really not such a low one and it was all up, up, and away after that. A very nice cast member whisked us up to the 6th floor concierge lounge, even giving us a brief but informative tour of the resort on our way up. An attentive staff checked us in, offered us refreshments, and took care of several items for us at check in. After that we quickly checked out our room on the 5th floor, quite a hike away, but worth it for the stunning Savannah view. The room was nice, but we didn't dally, thinking there's got to be a meal here somewhere and headed - we thought - straight towards Mara to find out exactly, after months of wondering, what a zebra dome actually tastes like. Well here's where things really go UP! Bottoming out on the first floor, where I knew all the good eats, Jiko, Boma, and Mara were, I was struck giddy when turning the corner from the elevators, I realized we were standing in Boma and I could spy EMPTY tables. I jumped. I didn't even ask the kids and barely asked Gwen. I just jumped and then begged the lovely CM staffing the counter, "Is there any chance we could eat here?" She must have seen the gleam in my eyes, because she smiled brightly, pulled out a beeper, and said with such a sweet smile, "I think something can be arranged." Wow. And it was, just like that. And it was great. It was nearly 10 PM and there's no way we should have eaten spicy food at that hour, but we did. And it was great and what the heck the zebra outside our room kept me and my reflux company the rest of the evening, right up until to dawn. Yum, yum. After dinner we continued our tour of the beautiful pool with its aqua waters and two satellite hot tubs. The kids got right into the swing of things by hitting the arcade; we checked out the firepits, further savannahs, and good times were had by all until we collapsed into bed, exhausted from travel and a wonderful arrival. Let me wrap this up by saying that AKL draws you right in. I can easily imagine arriving at this resort in August and never even making it to Vicky and AL's for that anniversary dinner. More to come, but probably not until Wednesday!