Pre-Trip Planning: Danielle's 2008 WDW Christmas Adventure

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by joelp, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    This is my first post to disboards (though I've been lurking around a bit ...)

    MY DW, DD, and I are planning a trip to WDW in December 2008 for the Christmas, Hannukah, and other Winter Solstice-type festivities, :santa: so I'd best start by introducing the Main Cast of Characters:

    Me - Joel - age 48 (going on 12 ... especially when we're at WDW!) ... The picture is from our trip to WDW last May (well, I couldn't insert the picture - have to work on that ... and I can't wait to take Danielle on Soarin! now that she's tall enough!!) I'm a research scientist with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, play drums and percussion in my FIL's Klezmer band (... we were up for a Grammy this year!! ... :banana:... but didn't make the final five ... :sad1: ), and am an avid every-other-day runner ... Also, "Chief WDW Planner" for this crew.

    Vicki - my DW (whose age shall remain a secret ...) She loves WDW, too (especially Boma!!), and seems to get something stuck in both eyes everytime she tells someone about our May trip, resulting in blurred vision ... :lovestruc She's a Planner with the Ocean County Department of Planning, does some web site design on the side (see the Odessa Klezmer site above ... couldn't insert the web site URL either ... something else to work on), :surfweb: and will be amazed that I could somehow manage to insert pictures and Smilies into this post ... (she thinks I don't know how to use a computer too good - but I think I know more than she thinks I thinks she thinks I know ... :confused:

    And last - but not least - (but the shortest, youngest, and best looking ) is

    Danielle - our beautiful DD - who wants to be Princess, but knows she's not (though most times she really is!!) princess: Last year she was crazy about Cinderella, and was so awestruck when we went to Cindy's Castle for lunch that she couldn't bring herself to meet her ... but eventually did after some wonderful words of encouragement from the Fairy Godmother :cheer2:
    She'll be turn 5 in November - and our December trip will be a birthday surprise for her (and I guess that's a good enough reason to let her whear a WDW Birthday button ...)

    Time for a short break - gotta put the laundry in the drier ... :laundy: (really - and so I get to use another Smilie ...)

    Anyway, so far for Halloween she's been (1) a Philadelphia Phillies cheerleader (my idea ...), (2) Belle, (3) Cinderella, and (4) Sleeping Beauty ...

    Our basic plan is to travel to WDW on December 6, and somehow manage to drag our butts back to Jersey on December 13. This is from the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend (which is late this year - November 27) to the weekend before the weekend before Christmas (when I suspect WDW will be CROWDED!!!) And if you go to the WDW web site and check out the listed "Great Times to Visit", this week is highlighted in yellow as being a "Great Time to Visit" ... why? I don't know ... but I'm guessing (and hoping) it's because the crowds will be smaller than usual ... :)

    We're thinking of spending the first 4 nights in a Value Resort (probably Movies - Danielle likes the pictures she's seen ...) and then move over to a Deluxe Resort for 3 nights (probably AKL or WL). This turns out to cost about the same as 7 nights at a Moderate (we stayed at POFQ in May and LOVED it!! :cloud9: but want to branch out this trip ...)

    So the first question I have for you disboards folks is: Of the two resorts - AKL or WL - which has the "better" holiday theming (decorations, "spirit", etc ...)?

    I'm leaning towards AKL - because it is beautiful (we had dinner at Boma last May ...) and we plan to hit Boma for dinner the next trip, too popcorn::

    but I've been reading some great things about WL, too - and it may be more conducive to a 5-year old girl ...

    So - what do you think?? Movies and AKL? Movies and WL? Movies and one of the other Deluxe Resorts? :grouphug:

    I'll be back ... (there's still a bunch of Smilies I haven't used ... :rotfl2:
     
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  3. bigbrian-nc.com

    bigbrian-nc.com Mousin it Up!

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    Sounds like a nice trip plan, as for input on the rdeluxe resort it sounds like you enjoy the feel of both buildings equally, I would SUSPECT, that Wilderness Lodges Christmas decor would apeal to ME more that AKL's just because you don't have an American Holidays traditions imposed over another culture (or group of cultures), so it would feel more Christmasy, that said the Savanah view rooms would be very special especially with a small child as you will have with you and one who i'm thinking that may REALLY be at the age to appreciate and remember it for the rest of her life so tailoring it more to your group I think Animal Kingdom Lodge will be perfect.
    I notice that the last few days of your trip overlap with the beggining of the "land" portion ofMousefest the annual fan gathering of Disney Internet folks and webmasters, this past year the Dis even was thoughtful enough to schedule a couple of meets that, though not on the official Mousefest schedule, were a FANTASTIC compliment to the Mousefest events already occuring at that time, though it looks as if you will be arriving back home on the day of the "Main Event" the Mega Mouse Meet where you can go around and meet many of the authors of books on WDW, talk to podcasters who do shows about Disney and meet many Disney fan site web masters (not the dis but may of the others)

    SEA: 4-Night Disney Wonder Cruise -- December 7-11, 2008
    LAND: Walt Disney World Events -- December 11-15, 2008
    Mega Mouse Meet - December 13


    The week you are attending is indeed a great time to vist because of lower than average crowds, but it still pays to get to the parks early and ride the things that will have the longest queue wait times later in the day early before the crowds grow, especially trvelling with a small child that way you can get a lot done early then perhaps get out of the park for a more leisurly lunch (or perhaps even a little pool time if the weather cooperates (as it may or may not that time of year) before getting in a few more hours before the parks close in the evening (and they do close earlier that itme of year). For planning purposes you may want to remember that the MK will close early 4 days a week Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, then again with a small child that might be the day to go since if the park closes early it will be a sure way to make sure you don't overdo it, or alternately if the party is something you want to do you can take an extended mid day break/ naptime.
     
  4. tmfranlk

    tmfranlk Love hanging at the World with my sweet girls.

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    I'm liking it already! Perhaps because we'll be there the 7th-15th! My DD will be 5 in February, though she's not quite the Princess yours is. She's a little more Charlie Brown, Buzz Lightyear, Woody with a hint of pirate, Goofy and Donald thrown in. :goodvibes That said, she will almost certainly wear a Princess costume or two during our stay. (Since the Halloween costumes capture it well - 1. Snow White, 2. Jojo, 3. Buzz Lightyear, 4. Charlie Brown Ghost.)

    We finally hit tall enough for Soarin' and the such last year at Disneyland. Terra :loves: Soarin' and also Star Tours now. Our next feat is trying the coasters.

    Loving your plans so far. We'll be at Pop, but Movies is a close 2nd for us. For Christmas, I think I'd definitely go with WL. They have some of the most beautiful decorations. AKL was nice last year when we visited for dinner and the tree is really unique, but I think that WL captures the season the best among them all.

    You know, I think that I may have the same affliction as your DW does. Something always manages to get in my eyes too. It seems to happen alot at WDW...near the castle, during fireworks, during parades, during shows. Hmmm...

    Oh yeah, and it just dawned on my about your picture issue. You need to have a minimum of 10 or 15 posts before you can post pictures or URLs. So once you hit that, you should be able to go back and post pictures and the URL to the band.

    Happy planning! Maybe I'll have to start a ptr of my own. With DH going along for his first trip, this should get interesting. :upsidedow
     
  5. castmemberb4

    castmemberb4 DIS Veteran

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    Before you book an AllStar resort for that week you should read Nebo's report, the AllStars are mobbed with unruly Pop Warner players then.
    This should take you to the right page:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1673993&page=14

    It's post #210. If you don't want to read the whole thing just start reading after the picture of the pool. He does say later on that the crowds in the parks weren't bad, but someone else who is a local said they were heavier this year than in past years during the Pop Warner tournament. I'm sure that's just a difference of perspective. I'm planning to go for my Birthday that week but I'm staying away from the value resorts.
    Lynn
     
  6. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the link - I'll definitely check it out. I was aware of the cheerleaders :cheer2: and had heard various things about how "annoying" it could be. We stayed at POFQ last May and loved it!! So, trying to keep within the same general budget - and get the DW excited about heading back to WDW after only 19 months (she loves it there - she just doesn't quite have that "12-year old WDW mind set" yet ... but I'm working on it!! :clown: ) I figured for the cost of 7 nights at a Moderate Resort, we could spend 3 nights at a Deluxe if we spent 4 nights at a Value ...

    Plus, we want to do something different this time - which means not going back to POFQ (or POR - I'd go back to POFQ first) - and CB and CS don't really excite us ... So we might just suck it up and do All-Star Movies as "payment" for AKL or WL ...

    But combined with how splitting resorts messes up using the DDP, and maybe also results in other additional costs and hassles, (I'll have a post on that shortly), you've definitely given us something to think about ...

    Thanks again!!

    Joel
     
  7. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    This reply is to tmfranlk:

    Thanks for the WL/AKL comparison - it's a tough choice!!

    DW and I had dinner at Boma last year and she loved it! So we definitely have to go back in December (or my WDW planning days are over ... :laughing: )
    So, from a practical standpoint, staying at AKL would work better.

    But I keep hearing great things about WL, too ...

    What do you think about staying at a Value Resort when the cheerleaders are there? - since you'll be staying at Pop I assume you don't think it is too bad ... :scared:

    I should have 5 posts buy the end on the night, so I'll be 1/3 along the way to pictures. I figured there was some kind of intitial "accepatability" criteria, since I couldn't even insert a link to another web site ...

    Thanks again!! :thumbsup2
     
  8. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Since this is "WDW Month" at AAA, I decided to stop by yesterday (Monday) and see what kind of deals they actually had. :teacher:

    Well, it turns out that - other than the "usual" room rate savings (which are pretty good in themselves), there wasn't much else that was of use to me. There's some deal if you visit WDW in April (which doesn't apply - so I don't know what it is ...), and then you can save another $50 or $100 if the Land portion (i.e. no airfare) of the trip exceeds certain $$$ levels ... again, they probably wouldn't apply ...

    However, I did find out (or rather, had my suspicions confirmed) that spiltting resorts as we have planned would be a little more costly than staying at the same resort the whole time ...

    First off you need to make 2 separate reservations - one for each resort (this I knew). However, you can load up you MYW pass with all the tickets you need at the first resort, thus getting the $$ savings for the longer stay :yay: and you can book the DDP for the entire duration of that first ressie :woohoo:

    However, in order to use the DDP for the second ressie, you have to purchase at least a 1 day park ticket, which in our case (2 adults - more or less ... :rotfl2:and one kid ... at least ... :rotfl:...) would cost about $200. And that would be more expensive than the savings I estimated using the DDP for the whole 7 nights (about $125 ...) :sad2:

    So, at a minimum, that means no DDP for the second ressie, and I'l only save about $65 with the DDP - I can live with that.

    But - there could be another added cost: travel insurance!

    Because we would have two ressies, we may need to take out travel insurance twice - which be another $130 ... and there goes the DDP savings for the first ressie ... :headache: But the TA needs to check on that ...

    I could opt out of insurance for the second ressie (the flight would be covered on the first, I would think ...) and take the risk of something happening (and with a 5-year old DD, 70+ year-old parents, and global climate change - you never know ...)

    This needs some further research - anyone know something I don't so far?

    I'm starting to fade here (DD crawled into bed with us last night at 12:30 - and she likes to toss and turn in her sleep ... We just got her a new "big kid" bed ... correct that, we bought her new bed on COLUMBUS DAY!!! and it was finally delivered Saturday ... [talk about a slow boat from China - literally!!] and even though she loved it in the store :love: loved it when it was delivered and set up in her room :Pinkbounc ... :upsidedow ... and loves the Tink/Fairy comforter I got for her at the Disney Outlet Store for about $11 (originally $50 ... marked down to $19.99 ... another 40% off of that ... and I had another 15% off coupon!!! :banana: ... ) of course, she now "hates it" ... :headache: [But the DW loves it ...!!] (I also picked up PJs that were originally $16.50 for about $2.50 ... I LOVE the Disney Outlet store! :cloud9: ... but they do need to come up with some more shirts and stuff for us "big guy kids" ... we're not all "Grumpy" ...)

    So with that, for those of you who have read this post, I'll leave you with this:

    :thanks:

    Joel
     
  9. tmfranlk

    tmfranlk Love hanging at the World with my sweet girls.

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    I've been at Movies and POR during cheerleaders and Pop Warner before and never had much issue with them. The food courts seem a little more crowded, but otherwise they were usually just a bunch of excited, talkative kids. But then, so are DD and I. ;) That said, I do like that they haven't been at Pop in the past. Unless things have changed, they try to keep the groups at the All-Stars and leave Pop mostly free of them.
     
  10. castmemberb4

    castmemberb4 DIS Veteran

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    PopWarner is not the cheerleaders, I've been at an AllStar during a cheerleader competition and that's not bad, but that's in Jan. Pop Warner is baseball players, and I hear it's pretty bad, beer and pizza boxes everywhere, fighting, bad language that you wouldn't want your DD to hear. Nebo and Smidgy were up calling the front desk 3 times during the night. Just really don't want you to encounter that. I wonder though if they are at Pop Century or just at the AllStars, it's worth finding out, that could be your answer.
    Whatever you decide I hope it's a wonderful stay.
    Lynn
     
  11. castmemberb4

    castmemberb4 DIS Veteran

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    I just thought of one more thing. I recently got the 40% off code from Disney, I don't know for sure but I believe that it was associated with my name because I recently ordered a Disney planning DVD and got quotes from www.disneyparks.com If you haven't already done that try it, then wait a couple of days and call 407-wdisney and just ask if you have a pin number associated with your household. If you do it will get you 40% off the Deluxe and a lesser amount off the value (maybe 20%) OR maybe it will bring down the Deluxe enough for you to stay more days there. Be sure to write the number down because it's good all year. If you get a "no" the first time keep trying on different days, it worked for me, hope it works for you.
    Lynn
     
  12. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the tip - I will definitely look into this weekend ... And if I can get 40% off at AKL or WL for the whole week, my DW will start getting REALLY excited!! :dance3:

    Coincidentally, the 2008 Planning DVD arrived in the mail yesterday ... So DW and I put it in the DVD player after I got the DD to sleep, and wouldn't you know it? There must have been a lot of dust or something in the room, because she got someting in both her eyes, again ... :love:

    I also ran some numbers, and it would cost about $250 more to stay at a Moderate Resort instead of an All-Stars for 4 days (but if I can pull off your 40% deal, that won't matter!)

    And I checked out the Pop Warner sites - they don't have any info posted for 2008, but in 2007 the cheerleaders (not sure about the the football players) were staying at either AS-Sports, AS-Music, or Port Orleans :eek: ... so All-Star Movies may be OK ...

    Thanks again!!
     
  13. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    While I'm still working on where to stay, I might as well start planning for Day 1 - the flight down to WDW and what to do that night ...

    It's WAY too early to start looking into flights, so let's skip right to "What do we do on the first night at WDW?"

    Yes "night" - because by the time we get down there most of the day will be shot ... Why? -

    We'll take a 12-1 pm flight out of either Newark or Philly (or even Atlantic City if possible ...) because (1) I have to get the DW and DD into the car (not a problem since we'll be going to WDW and both of them will be on their best behavior!! :cool1: (2) have to get our dog Ranger into the car (again, no problem - he loves going in the car!!), (3) drive to Ranger's "vacation resort" and get him settled (and get the DW out of there, cause she likes to talk ... :upsidedow, then (4) drive at least an hour to one of the airports (maybe longer if either the DD or DD needs to stop ... :rolleyes1 ), (5) find and park in the remote lot, (6) unpack the car and drag the luggage to wherever the remote lot shuttle pick-up area is (hopefully, it will be close ...), (6) take the shuttle to the airport (which - by the way) we probably passed on the way to the parking lot!!, (7) drag all our bags off the shuttle bus ... (8) get in line to check-in ... wait ... wait some more (where is a Fastpass when you need it?) ... and finally check-in ... (meanwhile, DD is either on her best behavior - cause we're going to WDW!! - or not ... :eek: ... (9) then scramble through security (why do they make kids take off their shoes?!? ... put our coats, shoes, etc. back on and make sure we haven't left anything behind at security ... :headache: and the (10) hoof it down to the boarding gate ... stopping for a "potty break" along the way ... and then, hopefully, finding out that (a) the airline hasn't changed the gate on us and (b) the flight isn't delayed because the plane's wings were about to fall off ... ;)

    Not that you were asking ... :laughing:

    Anyway, that will get us to our resort about 5 pm (assuming everything works out at the Orlando Int Airport ...

    So we check-in, rest up, and ...?

    Last May we met up with my brother, his wife, and their DD-3 at DTD - together with my DW's father and step-mother - and two of their friends -

    :jumping1: and had a nice and fun dinner at the Rainforest Cafe ...

    This year it will just be us and my brother's family again (but who knows - DW's dad had such a great time last May ... and there's some other family we may hook up with ... :jumping1: and we could make some new friends on the plane (that happened in May ...)

    Anyway - I was thinking of doing something different, and came up with the following options:

    (1) DTD again - but dinner at a different restuarant (suggestions with 4- and 5-year old girls?)

    (2) Tour the monorail resorts and check out the holiday decorations, gift shops, and grab dinner "on the run" ...

    (3) Do a Character Meal at one of the resorts (Chef Mickey's or 1900 Park Fare? - other?).

    (4) Hit the Hoop-de-Doo Revue or Mickey's BBQ (if running) at the Ft. Wilderness Campground ...

    (5) Or head over to the WL and have dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe ...

    (6) ????? :idea:

    So - what do you think?

    Keep in mind that we will have been traveling all day and will most definitely be getting up early the next morning to be in line at the MK for the "opening ceremony" (that's Day 2 ...) :yay:

    That's it (enough) for now ...
     
  14. tmfranlk

    tmfranlk Love hanging at the World with my sweet girls.

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    I've noticed that Movies gets a lesser number of kids groups than the others. They try to put them in Sports and Music for the value choice. Sometimes there is some overflow into Movies. I think that Movies is the most popular of the All-Stars and thus they try not to use up much of it for a group when there are lots of other guests willing to book it as well.
     
  15. ArielSRL

    ArielSRL DIS Veteran

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    Subscribing! popcorn:: I'll catch up when I get a chance!
     
  16. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Welcome Ariel - particularly since it was your PTR (via the ears-to-ears site ...) that pretty-much motivated me to start this one ... :)

    So finish moving into your new apt and let's hear about your trip!! :)

    [And for some reason, the screen is cutting off the right side of the margin, so I can't access the Smilies ... :( ]
     
  17. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    I called WDW yesterday - no PIN # ... :sad1: ... but maybe by calling I started something? :idea: ... let's hope (for that 40% discount!!)

    Anyway, back at Post #1, I outlined where we were thinking of laying our tired and sore bodies down after a hard day of "parkying" :cool2: during our Dec 2008 WDW adventure - 4 nights at All-Star Movies followed by 3 nights at either AKL or WL. My thinking was that this was essentially the same price as staying at a moderate for the whole week (which is what we did in May 2007 - POFQ), and by "sacrificing" a little by staying at ASM we could afford to stay at AKL/WL - which made the DW very happy :love:

    I crunched some #s and came up with a cost of around $2,700, including the AAA discounts, MVMCP tix, and travel insurance (but potentially another $125 for travel insurance for the second reservation ...) [and not including airfare ...]

    But then I found out it we'd have to make 2 reservations, it would not be "cost-effective" to use the DDP for the second half of the trip, and ASM may be overrun with Pop Warner football players ... and I didn't really want to go through the hassle of having to pack up at ASM and then move, check-in, unpack, etc. at AKL/WL ...

    So I thought it may be better just to stay at a Moderate ... but we really loved POFQ and didn't really want to stay at any of the other Moderates ...

    And then I had another idea - what would it cost to stay at AKL or WL for the whole time?

    So I went on to the WDW web site and priced it out ... about $3150 - so the difference was only around $450 compared to the "original plan". Could I "find" $450 to make a week at AKL/WL more comparable to the original plan? (without the PIN discount - if I can get one of those, it would be a no brainer ...) :teacher:

    First off, the price quote from WDW doesn't include the AAA discount for the room - 15% ... that saves me about $265 right there!! I'm more than halfway to my goal !! :cheer2:

    Then, since we'll be able to get the DDP for the entire trip because we won't be splitting reservations, that will save about $65 in food costs ... so I'm up to $330 in "savings" ... :yay:

    And then - "coincidentally" - since this is an election year and the economy is not doing too well - our good buddies in D.C. decided they need to bribe us ... uh, make that "stimulate the economy" - by not wasting some of our tax $$ and sending it back to us instead ... :santa: And - as a good American - it is my patriotic duty to stimulate the econimy as much as possible ... :woohoo:

    So it looks like we'll be spending the whole week at AKL or WL!!! :dance3:

    But - I'm not going to tell my DW (it'll be tough to keep this secret!!)... I can't wait to see her expression when we go to catch the ME bus at the airport:

    DW: "Which bus is ours?"
    Me: "This one, I think" (pointing to the AKL or WL sign ...)
    DW: "No - that's not right. We're going to All-Star Movies for a few days, THEN we're going to AKL [WL] ... didn't you plan this trip? Dummy (under her breath ...)"
    Me: "Yep - I planned this trip - and this is our bus." :rolleyes1:
    DW: "Aren't you listening? This bus goes to AKL [WL] - not All-Star Movies!"
    Me: "I heard every word you said - and this is our bus ...(with a s**t-eating grin on my face ...)
    DW: "This is not our bus!"
    Me: "Yes it is - trust me!!"

    and the light bulb finally goes off in DW's head ...

    I can't wait to see the expression on her face ... :banana: :hug: :lovestruc

    So this Saturday I plan to head over to AAA and - if my costs estimates were right (and we're not talking rocket surgery here ... :rotfl: ...) book this baby!!

    And remember - this is going to be a surprise - so don't tell the DW ... :thumbsup2:

    Later
     
  18. castmemberb4

    castmemberb4 DIS Veteran

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    I haven't been online all weekend and am just reading your post from 1-24, your description of getting to the airport has me :rotfl:
     
  19. tmfranlk

    tmfranlk Love hanging at the World with my sweet girls.

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    Yeah, Fuzzy Disney Math!! I love it. To me, no trip is complete without it!

    Love the plan. DW will be excited!
     
  20. castmemberb4

    castmemberb4 DIS Veteran

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    and keep trying on the pin number, have you gone on their website and gotten quotes? It's all just speculation of course, none of us really know why we get pin codes.
     
  21. castmemberb4

    castmemberb4 DIS Veteran

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    Oh Duh ! If I would stop posting before I read all of your posts I'd have my answers.
     

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