<b>Carole : (40) Organiser and chief adventurer. Compulsive shopper. Stephen : (43) Head beer drinker, and food taster. Trainee shopper.</b> <I>As this was our third year running at Orlando, the plan was to take it all at a slower pace, and enjoy the atmosphere. No queuing and no commando tactics. We have annual passes for Disney and length of stay passes for Universal. Were giving Seaworld a Miss this year rather than try to cram too much in.</I> Day 8 Thursday 20/10/01 Todays planned itinerary Epcot, Illuminations cruise Weather Warm and dry. Just about perfect. Another lazy morning. We munched on bagels and cream cheese in our room, before going out at about 11am. We were going to go straight to Epcot, but decided to do a detour to the shops first. We went to LBV factory outlets, as I wanted to visit the VF factory outlet. I like the socks from there and wanted to stock up. We were very happy to see that they had a sale on, and even happier to find that everything was half ticketed price. Sigh, I do love a bargain. I got a lot of socks! Stephen got four or five pairs of shorts. One pair was originally $38 and he paid $5 for them . While Stephen staggered to the car with the bags, I popped across to a designer wear store and picked up a rather nice pair of shorts for me at $5. I also got some CK jeans for $30, but I was as impressed by the fit as I was the price. I just love shopping in the US. I get to be a size smaller . Next, we headed for the Beach Club. The plan was to try to park on there for a quick exit after the cruise, but I was expecting to be turned away, and possibly to be allowed in just before the cruise. When we pulled up at Beach club security, I had all the details of the cruise written down, ready to hand to the guard. He hummed and hawed for a while and explained that he was only allowed to issue a 3-hour pass. Then he asked if we had any photo id. I whipped the passports out but he declined to look at them, he just wanted to know that we had them. Then he hummed and hawed some more, while we sat politely smiling at him. Then he said ok, he would let us in, as we were Brits! Whoopee!! What a nice man. Maybe he thought we were related to the royal family or something . Now he had said he was only allowed to give us a 3 hour pass, but he asked us what time we thought we would be finished, and gave us a pass till 11.30pm. This was at 2.30pm. A very, very nice man. So, once in, we walked down to Epcot and down to Canada to start snacking. Today was the first day of the International food and wine festival. Hooray! We started off with Paella at Spain & Portugal. Very nice. Next was tuna and olive oil salad at Ecuador. Very nice also. While we were in the line for Ecuador, the couple in front of us noticed Stephens DLP t-shirt and started chatting to us. They told us about the limited edition pins for the F&W festival, and told us that if we wanted them to get them straight away as they would sell out that day. So, after munching our tuna salad, we went and fetched them. The pins themselves are nice, but I love the way theyre mounted. Ok, enough distractions, theres some serious snacking still to be done. Next stop Canada, where we both had the honey-glazed salmon. Very very nice. Id love to try the pearl icewine that they have, but occasionally after having a drink I get a migraine, and Im not sure if its coincidence or not. More food needed so on to Poland & Russia for todays winner, beef stroganoff. I could have gone for seconds and thirds of that but there are so many more places to snack at before we finish. I should add here, that we were slowly meandering round, taking in the sights, looking in the stores etc, not just marching from one booth to another. That would be greedy . We stopped at the UK to see the British Invasion, which we really enjoyed. Then on the way round we caught the end of the show in Morocco, which we also enjoyed. This brought us to the Mediterranean booth where we had lamb kabsa. Huge chunks of lamb. Very filling. Were getting a bit full now so I suggest a pudding to wash down the assortment of main courses that weve just consumed. A quick glance at our guide tells us to head for the United States booth for honey lemon tart. Washed down with a couple of coffees. Yummy food. At this point, we admitted defeat and conceded the rest of the snacking for another day. Time to go back to the car for a change of clothes and freshen up in the Beach club. We agreed that the bathrooms at the BC were far superior to any wed encountered so far in our travels . We wandered over to the marina, which wed cunningly located earlier in the day, and sat down to watch the people passing by on the bikes. We were a bit early but it was nice to just sit and relax for a while. We strolled over to the boats and found ours. We were to have Capn Ron. Spotted Hilary and family walking over towards us. Thank-you for the idea of swapping photos, Hilary. Made life a lot easier. We chatted for a while before Mick, Lou and boys joined us and then we went on our cruise. We went all the way up to MGM, before going to our spot under the bridge at Epcot. Capn Ron was very informative and fed us lots of trivia about the area around us. Illuminations, of course was excellent. As we were so low down, we had an amazing view. I hope to be able to do that again next year. As well as the superb view of the fireworks, its great to meet people from the boards. Must add in here, a huge thank-you to Kazzie for phoning up for this cruise for Hilary and myself. We then waved goodbye to the others at the international gateway, while we carried on to the Beach club to get the car. If anyones doing the cruise and has a car, try to get onto the BC car park. No tram, no crowds, no traffic. Got back to the hotel for the daily game of find a parking space. This was a bit of a sore point. Wed found out before leaving that parking was no longer free, but was being charged at $5 per night. For that, I expect to be able to find a parking space. Tonight there were about a dozen of us cruising round, hopefully. We decided that wed ask if we could go in the other car park, the big empty one with a no entry sign on it . They wouldnt let us in there, but said as there were no spaces in self-parking, we could have valet parking at no extra charge. Gee, thanks! So, with us thinking that all had been taken care of, (more to come on that) we went into the store and purchased another three HRH pins, and went up to our room. Now in our lovely comfy room, we had wine glasses, tall glasses, and chunky mugs for our coffee. Or rather, we had. Our mugs had been kidnapped! There were no glasses, even the ones in the bathroom had gone. To add insult to injury, theyd been replaced by Styrofoam beakers. The sort you get in cheap vending machines. Why? We hadnt taken the rock star lifestyle to heart and started trashing the room or anything! Bloomin cheek! We marched down to reception to ask why, and they hadnt a clue. Didnt know anything about the mystery of the missing mugs, but promised to get them reinstated. A bit later, we had a knock on the door, and there was a MIB standing there with Styrofoam beakers in his hand. We explained that we actually wanted our nice china mugs back, and he told us that theyd been taken out of all the rooms and shipped out of the hotel. Bummer! Still, we thanked him for his trouble, and a bit later he was back with two contraband mugs that had missed the round-up. He handed them to us, furtively glancing over his shoulder, whispering that we should probably put them in the safe when we go out so the mug Gestapo doesnt find them and abuct them. It was all very conspiratorial and made an interesting end to a wonderful day. Pins bought today 5 Tomorrow IOA water rides & Fantasmic dinner package.