Well, here goes....only doing one day at a time, so it won't be too terribly long to read, doesn't take me a month....AND it will keep my fans wanting more On Monday, June 25th, DH & I both worked and came home to eat dinner. Every year on vacation, DH gets a cold or sick. Today, he came home with a sneezing thing and stuffy head. After dinner, we threw the last few things together in the suitcases and about 6:30pm headed for the Hilton hotel at Philadelphia airport. The hotel was very nice and even gave FREE Tastykakes upon check-in .......the cake of the day? .... Buttercream Cupcakes! DS & I's favorite We were settled just before 8pm, watched an hour of tv and went to sleep. I can never sleep well the night before, and I was up about every hour We had a 4:30AM wake up call scheduled, but we didn't get ours last time, so I'm not too trusting of them, and the alarm set for 4:30am. I woke up at 4:20am, and just decided to get up. That takes us to what is now, Tuesday, June 26th! Fly day! DS did a great job of waking up (we're not morning people) and everyone was dressed and out the door to catch the 5:20am shuttle. We usually ride the shuttle to the airport with nobody except flight attendants and pilots, but this morning there was one other passenger. (Yes..it's THAT early!) We went inside to check our luggage (had printed boarding passes 24 hours prior ) and there wasn't anyone inside...everyone was outside at the skycap (always check inside line...it's usually shorter). We had cleared the security checkpoint and were at our gate by 6am...excellent time! We flew Southwest and (of course) we had "A" boarding passes, but to my dismay, saw 3 other families/parties in line ahead of us in the "A" line. I noticed, and I see this as a starting trend, that people are leaving their bags in the line, and grabbing a seat or wandering around...they are not "sitting" in the line....I see it starting to happen.... So, we sat in the "A" line and waited to board. Finally, it was time to board For a 7:10am flight from PHL to MCO on Southwest, I was shocked there wasn't one single preboarder! (Still hard to believe!) Well, that meant we had a great shot of getting toward the front of the plane..... Not only did we get "toward the front", we got the absolute front row! Now, there are pros and cons.... A GREAT thing was all the extra leg room we had! Loved it! The downside: no trays to rest the laptop on, DS's DVD player or food. Oh well, live and learn! Oh, and the absolute best part?? We were FIRST off the plane We were finished in the potty and looked back to see people STILL getting off the plane! Ohhhh yeah!!!! Down to luggage claim. I was a little concerned when I didn't see our towncar driver (from Tiffany) standing there, but I knew we were early (landed 9:14am vs. 9:30am the scheduled time) and being the first off the plane, we were even earlier. We were at baggage claim by 9:33am, and we weren't scheduled to arrive until that time. Now, I'm sure the driver thought he had time because we should have just been landing, and factor in the time it takes to get from the gate to baggage claim, so, while we waited for our luggage, we also looked for our driver. Just before the luggage started coming out, I spotted our driver. I went to get him and shortly thereafter, the luggage came too. We were off! We got our complimentary grocery stop, which, we weren't supposed to get because we were a one-way transfer, but Raphael @ Tiffany was very generous and offered to throw one in there for free. We stopped at Publix and the first place I went was to the pharmacy to get Sudafed 12 hour for DH...due to the stuffy head he came home with yesterday, his head was still congested and he was in a lot of pain. He could hear/feel every footstep he took and couldn't hear anything. I bring Tylenol and Advil, but it never dawned on me to bring the Sudafed....d-oh! So, after getting Sudafed, we got the styrofoam cooler, beer, milk, cream cheese, bagels, juice, water, snacks, ice, etc and were on our way!!!! Pulling up to the RPR, we emptied the ice out of the bag into the cooler and made sure the cream cheese, milk, beer, juice and some water were cold. We were greeted at RPR and unloaded. Went to the LF Member Express check-in and was a little annoyed it was taking so long for someone to acknowledge us standing there...but, eventually, we were helped. I confirmed our rate, which they had correct. (Had my confirmation printout ready, just in case.) I made sure to get Tower 1 and rooms near the rest of the family that would be joining us in a few days. Our room was not ready, so weleft the luggage and headed toward the parks! We were walking past NBA City Restaurant by 11am.... What great timing...only 4 hours ago we were in Philadelphia!! Bubba decided to go to the Studios first. Upon entering, we saw Lucy sitting down near Boulangerie and I snagged a picture. This part of the park (Hollywood Blvd) was still empty this early...everyone goes in through Jimmy Neutron and Shrek and that area gets very congested early on. On our way to MIB, I remembered the trick photography spot damo brought to my attention. Bubba & I got our picture taken and so did DH & DS. Of course, DS wanted to try, so he took our picture. The line for MIB wasn't bad, while the EP line was nothing...walked right in! We did a few spins on MIB, scoring rather well for not "playing" in a few months. After getting "warmed up" on MIB, we headed to Jaws. We rode this ONE time last summer, and DS would not ride it again...not sure why? So, I was able to get the pictures I didn't get last year. Jaws PIC 2 PIC 3 PIC 4 PIC 5 PIC 6 PIC 7 PIC 8 After Jaws, the "I'm hungries" were being heard from both my boys...we decided to stop into Louie's for pizza/lunch. This turned out to be a great idea, since some sprinkles were falling from the sky. The pizza was good, and DH said the meatball sandwich was "okay"....just getting there, I forgot to take pix of the food, but I remembered the rest of the trip! We headed toward Mummy, where DS said he would "try it again". He wasn't fond of it last year, but I convinced him he would like it now that he was 8 and a half; unlike last year, when he was only 7 and a half So, we take a spin on Mummy and wait for the verdict from DS. He likes it now...woohoo...lets go again! After the Mummy, we took some pictures in New York. Bubba PIC PIC After some photos, we decided to give Twister a whirl... PIC PIC here. After Twister, we did Jimmy Neutron DSand Shrek with a (maybe) 5 minute wait....the crowds were nothing like when we first got there. After these two, we headed over to the Horror MakeUp Show. I had never seen it before, and we got some of the last seats available for that show. Our "volunteer" was funny...an Asian gal named Anita, who could NOT scream to save her life! The entire place roared when she was supposed to scream cuz she just could not! The other hilarious part of the show, is the interpreter for the hearing impaired. She sits up front just off-stage, and boy did they have fun with her! Some of the signs were practically X-rated.... Some of the "signs" for what they were saying, had everyone rolling in laughter! I mean, the audience, the interpreter AND the peeps puttin' on the show. I didn't find it too "PG13" and Bubba laughed at all the jokes...even tho most of them went over his head! Not a show I could see over and over, but I would like to be sure to catch it each time. After this, we missed the Terminator show, so we decided to hike it to IOA to ride Hulk. PIC on way out. We exited thru the Universal Store because DH had to finish his beer before leaving the Studios. my "fashionable" son THING merchandise MORE THING merchandise! When we first got there, we heard the HydroAction (water) Ski Show starting and just walked up to a spot to see it. We managed to get a spot behind Captain America Diner,which is a Soak Zone (and right near the performers' platform). Except for being a "soak zone", this is a good view area, as is around Me Ship the Olive and in front of Jurassic Park Discover Center and over by Mythos. (Anywhere around the lagoon is a good view, just watch for those "soak zone" signs.) In no particular order, here are pix of the show: crowd outside of JPDC PIC PIC leaving the platform PIC PIC waterskiers jetskiers reason they call it "soak zone" skier PIC PIC PIC PIC dual skiers yet more even shoot fireworks PIC view from in front of JPDC looking from JPDC steps toward Me Ship the Olive/Marvel I think it's a good show (lasts appx. 15 min.), but like the 360 show, once is enough for me. After the show, we exited thru the Diner and well, wouldn't you know? Spiderman ride was right there... how could you NOT do it?? So, we took a spin on Spidey. Then, I heard it again...."I'm hungry". So, we walked around to Enchanted Oak for dinner. It was pretty good. I got the chicken and ribsand the chicken very moist and tender. The corn muffin was a little "crispy", but nonetheless, yummy. My boys each got the cheeseburger and said they were very good....and large (DS finished his whole burger to my surprise!) Now, on a full stomach, what do you think we did next?? Yep, you guessed it...DD! (You're talking about the same family that had Louie's and then went on Mummy!) Well, again, we were right there, we just HAD to do Dragons! We did Fire first and then waited appx. 15-20 minutes for front row of Ice. (I thought this was a good idea to give dinner a chance to settle.) If possible, we wait for front on Ice vs. Fire because we feel Ice is so much better front row than Fire (altho, both are great in front row). The "wall" is especially good on Ice....we love that part!!! After DD, we walked thru Seuss Landing, where I can't remember if we rode anything, but I did notice this place open. Although I really wanted to try some, I was so stuffed from dinner (ate more than I usually do ) We went over to Hulk, which if you remember, was the whole reason we left Studios and came to IOA in the first place . Awesome ride, as usual. We only did it a couple of times and left our stuff in the locker and went over to have DS ride Dr. Doom for the very first time.....heck...it was ALL our first time riding! DS is not a "drop" type of ride person...hated ToT at WDW. Told him he was older now, to give it a try! He was nervous as all heck, but we were/are so proud of him for trying it! He said he liked it, but he didn't go on it the rest of the week...so, I'm not so sure We thought it was great, and we had a awesome view of the park! It was now about 8pm-ish, and it's been a long day for us. We stopped at the Trader souvenir shop on the way out so I could buy a Thing 1 nightshirt (and NO, you are not going to see THAT picture!) We headed back to RPR to get our room and we were in 1541..an adjoining room right next to the ice machine. Now, I was worried being right next to the ice machine, but all was kewl...never heard it. Also, being an "adjoining" room, I was concerned with noise there also...again, never heard anything...I'd swear nobody was in the next room. I do believe, however, that adjoining rooms are slightly larger than standard single rooms. The wall that separates the bed from the sink area is not straight in an "adjoining" room...it's on an angle...giving you a bit more room on the other side of the bed. PIC 1 PIC 2 PIC 3 PIC 4 the closet...safe, iron & ironing board Not too bad of a view. view view 2 We were concerned because the room was a warm 75 degrees, but the temperature was set for 72. I am already set to complain and move us, but we dropped the thermostat down a couple degrees, and then the temperature started to drop. We asked the belldude when he brought the luggage up what the story was with it, he said it might need some time to "adjust". WTH??? Well, we gave it an hour, and it was fine. Apparently, it is one of those where you have to set it lower than you want the temperature to be. All was well, and we didn't have to move...yay! Here's our cooler set up. A concern I had was our welcome gift was not there So, I called Star Services and inquired why. She didn't know, but called me back in less than 5 minutes with a reason. My LF number wasn't on my res. HUH??? So, I gave her our LF number and she said they usually deliver between 5:30 and 9pm and they were really backed up/busy, would I mind if it came the next night?? I said that was fine. DH and I finished watching the movie we didn't get to finish on the plane that morning (only missed about 15-20 minutes) while DS had a snack and fell asleep watching tv...which he NEVER does...so, I know he was tired. After the movie, I unpacked and settled us in while DH watched tv and relaxed. To sum up this day: The longest line we stood in all day was at the entrance to the park. EP lines were no longer than 10 minutes and most standby lines were 25-60 minutes. Hulk was 60 minutes (and I know there was a problem and got backed up) and Spidey was 45 minutes (which I didn't think was really all that bad for end of June!) Even tho the lines didn't seem too bad, the parks seemed busy/crowded...but manageable. Okay, this killed most of my day today, I'm off to get something accomplished! Stay tuned for Day 2!