Day 2 The Only Way is Up! New car, new hotel and new friends Part One Well, my friends, sorry to ramble on but anyway I eventually did fall asleep (sort of) managing 4 hours and waking at 4.30am (yuk) Vince also wakes and we try to whisper so we dont wake Becky. This is very difficult as she is sleeping virtually on top of us! (In the night she turned over and managed to whack me in the face!) At 5am we decide its best if Vince nips out and returns the car to Alamo while I try and sort out the hotel, so he creeps around, knocking into furniture and tripping over clothes until hes ready and managing to secure the car boot, is gone by 6am. Becky tries to cheer me up and look on the bright side, see, sometimes teenagers are lovely!J I then decide to ring all the contact numbers I have, both in the UK and US and manage to get the UK Travel office I booked the holiday through, well it is 11am there. I have a good rant, which is spoilt when I get all overcome and tearful, especially when the agent Liz, is really nice (dont you hate it when that happens?) She is appalled and promises me it will all be sorted, just to go and relax (huh!) and have a coffee and shell ring back .. and so it goes, calls to and fro, from her, the US agents, the reception .bit hard to go and get a coffee while Im trying to sort it all out really! By 7.30am Vince is back, thank goodness, one thing sorted all breathe a sigh of relief now! He got his extra insurance money refunded, a different, much newer car (no upgrade offered though which annoys me) and I now have these facts .. 1. They all blame each other for the error (surprise surprise) 2. This hotel has no more rooms, well only for the next 8 days then wed have to change again 3. The American travel agent gets a very sarcastic comment from me when she tells me Well, the hotel were good enough to offer you a free rollaway bed for your daughter .I lost it then Im afraid the air was a pretty shade of blue! sorry! 4. The upshot of all this was our travel agents offer to arrange an upgrade to another hotel but it may take time as some places arent open yet and of course its Christmas so lots of places are full .. Hard to say how I felt at this point. We are thousands of miles from home, packed like sardines into a little room with nowhere to go (no room at the Inn, geddit?) and according to my cunning plan we should really be at MK in 30 minutes time .well there goes the plan!!L At 9am we have managed to find a coffee at least, and a doughnut from the hotel, who are being very unhelpful, and know nothing (if they had a Spanish accent Id have called them Manuel!) I ring Travel Shop back and its then Vinces turn to lose it, as he takes the phone from me and gives the poor girl a real ear bashing I dont feel that sorry though .Its costing us a fortune in phone calls too Liz phones back at 9.15 (obviously been to lunch how nice!) and has tracked down a couple of possibilities for us, one is Sheraton Studio City on I Drive, (Oh I know, the big ugly blue tower) or the Holiday Inn, just down the 192 from us. We all discuss this for several minutes, the three of us, plus 4 travel Shop staff, on a conference call The Sheraton is not in the location we wanted to stay, but is a much higher grade hotel, and we are persuaded to take this option (Thanks Gavin and Liz) at no extra charge I might add! The funny thing is, when we originally booked to stay in Feb 02 we would have been staying just down the road from the Sheraton, how ironic! Things move quickly then, the agents fax through a voucher to our reception for us, we load the car up quickly (shutting the boot how nice!), check out with a few choice comments to reception and scuttle off down the 192 as fast as we can go ..oh yes, must just tell you this ..as Becky went to sit down on the chair in the room she picked up some chicken bones from the seat!!!!!! Not ours, yes, really, chicken bones from some eaten chicken ..comments from the Manager? Oh, thanks . Perhaps its some strange custom ..we laugh hysterically and flee for our lives, and sanity On the way to I Drive I ponder the last 24 hours (seems much longer). Here we are in my beloved Florida, its 9.30 am and we havent seen a Theme park yet, we havent even unpacked! What a horrible start to what should be a wonderful Christmas holiday! Good job its not our first time in WDW, it could be our last! .. Still, we are now on our way in a car with a fully functioning boot, and a voucher clutched in my hot, sweaty little hand for what we hope is a proper hotel .were off to check in The Sheraton Studio City .. Let the fun commence!J Day 2 Part 2 The hotel is on I Drive, across from W & W, in a quieter stretch of road. It is rather unattractive looking from the outside, a massive many sided tower, with a big globe on the top, you cant miss it! However, never judge a book by its cover (and there speaks a library manager!) The entrance is vintage Hollywood, with old cars outside, red carpet and real, red-suited bell hops (look friendlier than those at Tower of Terror luckily). Wow is our comment, even Becky, who doesnt really do excited! Inside its all marble and black and white tiles, chrome and glass amazing! ..Welcome to the Sheraton Studio City where everyone is a star! is the greeting from the receptionist ..I was very good, I didnt cry, but I had a big beaming smile on my face Dh says. Good choice Travel Shop, well picked up! We explain what has happened (very briefly ) and hand over our voucher very nervously, but its all ok, the lovely lady tells us where the pool is, and the Beauty salon, the fitness room, the restaurant, bar and shop ..wow! We head off down Sunset Boulevard a corridor leading to the lifts, and using our key cards operate the lift to take us up to the 11th floor .. ..and Wow! again. Becky and I are open mouthed at the room. OK so anything would be good after the last one and maybe this clouds our judgment a bit, but it really is wonderful. Movie posters everywhere, Rita Hayworth and Cary Grant look down at us, Art deco lamps, and mirrors and Beds very Hollywood, and very luxurious, all silver and sea green lovely!JJ Enormous entertainment cabinet with massive TV, In house movies and Play Station, giant dressing table, real armchairs, a proper big wardrobe, and a bathroom thats bigger than the old room!!! It has all the amenities in it, loads of fluffy towels, soaps, shower gel, body lotions, flannels in pretty shapes, hairdryer and a wonderful coffee maker too. Think I might have died and gone to Heaven! (Helps that Im a real movie freak too!) I may just be an Essex girl and not used to swanky hotels but I do love this, the velvet armchairs, and 2 (yes, 2) lovely big comfy beds oh, and 2 phones!. I look out of the window and suddenly realise Im looking across to USF theres Dr Doom and Hulk! Wow again! What a view! We open the wardrobe and find a large safe, and an ironing board (wont be using that!) You know its quality when the tourist information is in the shape of a very large, leather bound book!! Things suddenly look much brighter as Vince goes to arrange for the luggage to be brought up and I shed just one more tear, of joy this time. I ring home quickly to tell Mum the change of venue, and a small bit of the tale (dont want her to worry). Then we unpack as we decide that as its now 11am MK is out for today (this loss of a day puts us out all holiday really) What?!!! We always do MK first day. I need to see that castle! Oh well, as we already know this holiday will be full of firsts! Some nicer than others .We stroll around the hotel, love the look of the restaurant, must try breakfast tomorrow! The pool looks very quiet and inviting too, especially as its now in the low 80s!! decide the best thing to do would be to find the AAA office and pick up our APs for USF being as were so close to the action now. (As we walk thru the foyer of the hotel I can smell popcorn and the lovely lady in reception calls Becky over and gives her a big bag of freshly made pop corn!) Well try the one on Colonial Drive as its probably nearer and weve never been down that way before. Lots of traffic on the way, but we spot a walmart on Kirkman Road that looks good and is not far from us. As we spot the AAA office (thanks for the directions Dis-ers) I notice its almost next to the public Library talk about a Busmans Holiday! Theres a queue in the office, but only takes 10-15 minutes to hand over our AA card and get our bargain Annual passes (thats 8 please nice lady..thank you ..see Fiona, very easy!!) cant believe how cheap these are! Becky is starving by now, poor thing, so food is next on the agenda, and her eagle eyes have noticed The Orlando Fashion Square mall just down the road so off we go. This is a lovely little mall, and has some beautiful Christmas decorations, it has a lovely atmosphere and is really quiet. We find the food court where we are offered a taste of some barbequed Chinese chicken mmmmm yes please. We eat chinese chicken, rice, veg and big sodas for $18 for 3 of us very big meals too that we cant finishJ Find a Pac Sun (there everywhere her arent they Kaz?J) and Becky buys her first tshirt of the trip, so shes happy now! Time is marching on now and we have a date with some US Dis people at FW for a FiTS cruise later so we decide to drive straight there. Oh no, I look a real mess! Never mind, theyll have to take me as I am! Twenty minutes later we drive under that beloved purple and red sign, which welcomes us to WDW you dont know how glad we are to be back guys!!J I have to wave to mickey to embarrass Becky but shes used to her mad mother. We find FW ok and after showing our passport to the security man we drive in and park. Wander thru the lobby, the decorations are lovely, and the rocking chairs in front of the fire look inviting, but its so beautiful and hot outside we but some drinks from the café and sit outside in the sun for an hour just relaxing at last! At 5pm we make our way to the boat dock, quickly realising its the wrong boat dock!! Stroll over to the other dock (doh!) where you rent boats from, not a problem as we have plenty of time, and its so wonderful and peaceful here, looking out over the water, at the beach, watching the little ducklings .. We wait at the dock for 10 minutes, there are very few people about .is one of them Tabitha? We are due to meet Tabitha, and her husband John, and daughters, Ashley, Amber, Andrea and son Brennan, all from Ohio, and Brian & Joyce from Pennsylvania. Kath picked up from the USDis that tabitha was looking to share the cruise with someone and I am very gratefulJ A couple strolled down to the dock and waited near us, none of us spoke must all be shy! Then along came a family, with a few kids..perhaps thats them? No wait 5 kids not 4! Actually it was them, but they had brought a family friend along too, Britney age 14 so Becky now had Ashley nearly 15 and Amber 13 as well as Britney to chat to great! What a friendly bunch they were! We all introduced ourselves, and although becky tried to maintain her painful shyness, Ashley soon had her under her wing, and as we boarded the boat the older girls all made their way to the back of the boat to giggle and chat and talk girl-stuffJ Dont know how much they saw of the fireworks, but they had a great time! If you have never thought about doing this cruise do give it a go, its wonderful. I dont have words to describe it, but as the sun started to set across the lake as we puttered out with captain Dave chatting and pointing out interesting bits, I knew it would be a special experience. We circled the lake, passing the hotels all lit up, seeing Egrets (no, not chickens girls!) and water turkeys (Brian is a biologist, he knew these things!) Brian and Joyce gave all the kids big bags of candy, which was very nice of them and I gave the 2 couples a calendar Id bought them of SE England, with local pics on as a souvenir of UK. (bit naff but they seemed pleased) Sat on the boat and watched the castle changing colour, then the fireworks, what a great view! We hadnt got our camera or video camera with us, how stupid! Never mind, we just cuddled up and enjoyed it. There was a very smart large boat near us and Capn dave told us that cruise costs $300!. I decided then that life was pretty great after all . The cruise took about an hour, Dave pointed out the bear on the fro of the FWL, that is shown by the position of its windows and roof etc. It stayed very warm, we still had only our shorts and Tshirts on - is it really December? Must remember next time to smother ourselves in insect cream though as Becky and Vince got bitten badly! Tabitha then invited us all to share dinner with them at Peaches and Cream, at the Y & B Club. Brian & Joyce were leaving very early the next morning so declined (probably had enough of the teenage girls by then too!) but taking a look at beckys face we accepted. Great fun at this small café! I had a wonderful turkey sandwich with fresh fruit and real coke in a bottle, Dh had a double burger & fires, and a marvellous strawberry shake,, Bek had a cheeseburger, fries and an ice cream soda all for $33! I remember (was it Hilary?or Fiona?) telling us about the Kitchen Sink ice cream and I did warn the girls but they went ahead and ordered it for dessert between them anyway!J Gave the whole café a laugh anyway needless to say they didnt finish even half of it. I loved the little taps and kitchen sink bit of it wow! It was enormous and had everything you could think on it!!!!! What a waste! We all chatted and realised we all had tickets for the next evenings MVMCP at Mk so decided to meet up again so the girls could go off for a while on their own together. Thanks so much Tabitha for arranging all this .you made our day! On our way back to Hotel we noticed the tower of the hotel changes colour and is all lit up bit like the castle ..lovely! Back home at 10.30 and sleep at last .sigh . See, it got better!