Our TR 11/26 thru 12/3/01, with boat rides, Hot Seats, RADP meets, and pin trading s


The View From My Office
Jan 28, 2002
Hola all,

We recently completed another trip to WDW. This trip started Monday 11/26,
and ended Mon 12/3. We stayed at the Swan for the 1st time ( got the $99
rate, which is actually $118 with resort fee & taxes). We wanted to meet up
with other RADP'ers, which we did; we also had plans for the Illuminations
Cruise, MVMCP, and a few other minor things, all of which we were able to
accomplish. I'm not one to set a specific day by schedule in advance, we
pretty much wing it as we go along, with the exception of Spectromagic,
which only ran once during our stay, and the RADP meets we were set up for.
We flew Jet Blue from JFK to MCO, came to $329 RT total for the two of us, a
very nice rate, and worth the drive to NYC. We usually fly out of Albany or
Newburgh, NY, but there were no good deals, and no direct flights from
either of those airports at this time. Since we travel to WDW frequently
36 nights this past year ), we are not park commandos. We are just as apt
to hit a park for an hour or two, watch a show, and head somewhere else,
depending on what strikes our fancy.

Anyways, on to the TR.

Take care,

The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips

When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

We woke up at about 4:00am for our trip to JFK airport ( we had an 8:50am
flight), which can be anywheres from 90 minutes to several hours from our
house, depending on traffic. We hit the road about 5:10am, and arrived at
JFK's long term parking at 6:50am. The way JFK is set up, long term parking
is several miles from the terminals, and is serviced by free shuttles. We
got a spot about 30 yards from a shuttle stop, and wheeled our luggage to
the stop. We waited for about 10 minutes, along with about 3-4 other people.
The shuttle was pretty empty, and we had no problem getting our luggage
onboard. It took about 15 minutes to make the terminal for Jet Blue,
arriving at 7:30am.. We had never flown Jet Blue before, but had heard good
things about them. Once we got inside the terminal, there must have been a
few thousand people in line. In fact the line snaked completely through the
roped of area, and completely circled the entire terminal building. It took
us about 10 minutes just to find the end of the line. In another ten
minutes, we had moved about 10 feet, and at that rate, it looked like we
would be on line for 3 days. While standing there beginning to fret, a sky
cap pulled up with a cart, and asked if we wanted sky-cap checkin. He told
me that if we used it, we would by-pass the line. Our bags were tossed on
his cart before he could finish, and we were taken to to the sky cap checkin
area. It should be noted that when you enter the Jet Blue terminal, there is
no sign indicating you can use sky cap service, nor were any of the JB reps
mentioning this option. For the price of a tip, we saved untold time in the
line, but it sure seemed like a sloppy way to run things. I did notice that
they were pulling people out of line who had flights that were nearing
take-off time, but that only added to the overall sense of confusion in the
terminal. They either need to open more counters, or restructure their
counter area.

Anyway, once we did the sky-cap check-in, we hit the security line, which
was another 10 minutes or so, and again, witnessed them pulling people from
the line who were close to take off. Even so, we made it into the gate area
at about 8:00am, plenty of time to get a quick breakfast at the restaurant,
hit the facilities, and make the plane with time to spare. The plane itself
was much nicer than most other airlines, with oversized leather seats, and a
TV screen with 24 channels at every seat. The service was very good, and to
top it off, one of the inflight snacks was my favorite, Lindens Chocolate
Chip cookies. If you're not from the NY area, you've probably never seen
them, but they are delicious. The plane took off pretty much on time
9:10am), and we had a nice smooth flight, arriving at MCO at about 11:20am.

We were met at baggage claim by JR from Tiffany Towncar, who has been our
driver on past trips, and who we had asked for. We were loaded up, and
arrived at the Swan at 12:30pm. On the trip over JR gave my wife a Disney
pin from the recent Travel Agents convention, knowing she was a pin
collector. That was a very nice touch, and later during the week, we found
many of the serious pin collectors kept trying to trade for that pin, but
she would not give it up.

Check-in at the Swan was rather quick, and somewhat lacking in the
atmosphere I'm used to at Disney resorts, but the clerk was pleasant enough.
I asked if it was possible to get a king bed room, and was told one was
available. We ended up with room 313, which unfortunately is in an inner
courtyard corner, and had a small, limited view balcony, and odd shape
due to being an inner corner. I probably should have stayed with the two
queen bed room, but I wasn't about to ask for another choice, especially at
the rate I was paying. The room was large enough, but didn't strike me as
anything different from an off-site hotel. The TV channel selection is
slightly different than at Disney resorts, although they do include that WDW
Info channel. There is also a Swan info channel, that played the same
idiotic 10 minute loop over and over that purported to show the worlds
sappiest family at the Swan. After several times seeing it while flipping
channels, I wanted to find the "dad" and smack him. If you ever see this
channel, you'll know what I mean.

After we got settled in, we put on our lanyards, and hoofed it to the
Boardwalk, where my wifes true calling reared it's head once again. She just
had to check in at the BW shop, and make sure that no major additions had
been added to the inventory since our last visit six weeks ago. After
finally pulling her out of there with only a few pins purchased, we caught
the boat to Epcot.

We entered Epcot via the International Gateway, endured the security
check, and had no problems with the AP's. Our 1st stop was the fish & chips
stand in the UK. We ordered two orders of fish & chips, plus one sody pop,
and the total came to $15.45. There were no seats available in the small
patio area, so we got a bench along the lagoon, and enjoyed our repast,
while avoiding the annoying seagulls. After cleaning the last of the grease
off our hands, we ambled over to see Off-Kilter. Actually, I ambled over, as
Edna found the UK pin cart, and had to peruse each and every pin on the
racks. She finally made it over just as Off Kilter began their set, and a
great set it was. They performed a nice version of Amazing Grace , among
other songs, and did their usual on stage antics. These guys put on a great
show, albeit a short one. If you haven't seen them, make time on your next
trip. After the show, Edna wanted a picture in front of the stage, and they
invited her on the stage, and I took a picture of her with the band.
Unfortunately, they then sent her back down to join me, instead of keeping
her. Oh well.

We then wandered around the WS, passing Mexico, Norway, and China, and
settled in one of the tables outside Outpost where I enjoyed a slushie. Just
in time for Tapestry of Dreams, as it turned out, so we had a great vantage
point. The crowds were almost non-existent, and the performers had lots of
interaction with the kids seated at the table next to us.

After TOD, we ambled around to The American Adventure , and caught
American Vibe. They were all right, and did a nice version of God Bless
America, but were too pop-like for my tastes. I prefer Voices of Liberty,
but they are tied up with Candlelight, and were not performing today. We
also saw the Fife & Drum Corp, which was a nice show. We then moseyed on to
Japan, watched the Japanese drummers for a few minutes. Surprisingly, Edna
bypassed the pearl stop inside, I guess she has met her fill at last.

We then walked to France, where we had a dinner scheduled at Chef's D'
France with Bruce & Marta Metcalf. We met them outside the restaurant, and
were soon seated inside, under the glass roof area on the side facing the
small side street. A nice location, and a very nice dinner. I had the
Lobster Bisque, and the duck. Edna had a salad, and the beef. I believe
Marta had the bisque, and a seafood casserole, and I can't recall what Bruce
had. I usually have the Tomato & cheese tart appetizer, but it was not on
the menu today. The victuals were excellent, as was the wine Bruce selected.
The total came to $161, and with Bruce's DDE discount, came to $130 ( not
including tip). After a leisurely walk to the America Gardens Theater, we
bid Bruce & Marta good night, and we went into the theater for the
Candlelight Processional. We got good seats, center rear, and James Avery
was the narrator. We first caught him last year, and really enjoyed his
presentation. He exceeded that presentation this year, really putting his
heart into it. It was a very enjoyable performance, and the weather was
perfect, unlike last year when it was very chilly.

After CP, and Edna scoping out the America pin cart, we ambled over to
Germany, and found a great spot for Illuminations, with only a few minutes
to go before the show. After a rousing ROE, we slowly wandered over to the
International gateway, and since my dogs were aching, we took the boat back.
Once we got to the BW stop though, Edna decided we should get off, and check
in case some new pins had been added to the inventory in the last 8 hours.
They didn't, but she managed to add quite a few to her inventory by the time
she got done. I think Disney might consider hiring a rolling pin cart to
accompany her on our next trip, it would pay for itself over and over.

We finally managed to walk back to the Swan, and got to our room at about
11pm. I scribbled some notes, and then went and hit the sack, sawing enough
logs to build a cabin.

Stay tuned for the next installment....

Take care,

The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

Day 2 started with us wakeing up at about 9:00am, no wakeup call, just on
our own. After the usual morning prep work, we wandered out to the boat
dock, and caught a boat to MGM, arriving at about 11:15am. After a brief
pause at the pin stand right inside the entrance, I wandered over to RnRC to
get our fastpasses, and got two for 12:05pm to 1:05pm. We then made it to
the PS stand , and got PS for Hollywood and Vine at 11:40am, which was in
about 5 minutes, so we went straight over there for our repast.

We arrived at H&V, and even though there was no crowd to speak of, it was
about 10 minutes before we were seated. We must have just missed the
breakfast cutoff, because it was still on the the steam tables on the left,
but that area was closed off to us. It doesn't matter, as I love the buffet
selection here for lunch & dinner. I loaded up on bruschetta, and also the
Buffalo Mozzarella with tomato ( unlike our last visit, this time there was
actually mozzarella in the mix). After a few repeats on those basics,I went
for the regular chow, including the chicken (both fried wings and roasted
chicken), the sausage, flank steak, spuds, beans, etc. Edna had some
bruschetta, and a salad, and then some chicken and rice. The interaction
with the characters was very good today, we were visited several times
during our meal. There was also the cutest sight a few tables over. A group
of four, which I assume consisted of mom, grandma, and two kids was there,
with the one daughter dressed in a Dale costume. The child seemed to be
fixated on Dale, and they returned the favor, with both Chip & Dale
repeatedly stopping by their table to play with them. The costumed kid even
was taken by the real ( well, the Disney real ) Dale to visit Minnie, and
was really made the center of attention. I noticed the child also had C&D
beanies set up at her table. It was really one of those moments you think
you will only see in a commercial, but this one was real, and it was really
nice to see. Anyway, after finishing up our victuals with some of that
delicious coconut cake I love at H&V, the bill came to $43 including tip. If
you've never eaten here, this place is really a good value for the money,
and the food is very good in my opinion. Keep in mind that the Fantasmic PS
does not apply to lunch though, only dinner, and usually only early dinner
times at that. Plus there are no characters at the dinner buffet.

After a satisfied pat on my belly, we ambled back to RnRC to use the
fastpasses. On the way over, since the opening time for the RnRC FP had
passed, I got FP's for TOT, for 1:10pm. Not bad at all, it looked like we
could do RnRC, then head right over to TOT. Edna decided she didn't want to
do RnRC, so I did it 2x, the first time in the 2nd row, the next trip in the
1st row. There was actually no line at all for standby at that time, which
seemed really odd for that time of day. And by no line, I mean, zero, not a
single soul waiting in the standby line.

After RnRC, we went over to TOT. The standby was about 15 minutes or so, but
we used our FP's. We made it no in a few minutes, and I asked for and got
the seatbelt seat once again. It seems they check the seatbelts more closely
then they used to, it used to be you could slip some slack under you to get
a bit more airtime, but the last few times I've rode it they actually pulled
on both sides to make sure it was tight. We enjoyed our trip to the top and
back again, and again, and again, and then when we were done, we decided to
try Millionaire, at least Edna kept pushing to go there. On our last two
trips, I made the hot seat each time (2x in May,1x in Sept), and she wanted
me to try again. On one of the May shows I got to $250,000, but got it
wrong, and reverted to $32,000. I got to $32,000 a second time that trip
(before they had the 30 day ), and got to $1,000 in Sept (can't get easy
questions all the time). They are back to using the pre-show video with
Regis, and playing up the grand prize of a trip to NY, which they didn't use
in Sep/Oct when we were there. The show started from scratch, no returning
contestant. They did the fastest finger, which I got wrong as always. A lady
from right in front of us got it correct, in about 1.1 second. She said she
just took a random guess, and it showed, as she only got to the $1,000
level. When they showed the scores at the $1,000 level, I was in 4th place.
She went two more questions before getting one wrong, and I knew I had
gotten them both right, and sure enough, when the scores came back, I was #
1 again, with another hot seat trip. I flew thru the first series of
questions, had to use the audience poll on an English grammar question
knew I should have paid attention in English class), and used the 50/50 on
a different question. I then was at $500,000 before I knew it, and the
question was : Who authorized the writing of the Domesday Book, and the
choice was 4 English monarchs. I was stumped, and had never heard of the
book, which wasn't a good sign. One of the choices was an obvious throwaway,
and I had it narrowed down to 2. I went with phone a stranger, and got some
tourist who seemed to be thrilled by the fact he was actually on a phone.
Obviously he had no clue as to who wrote the book, as he was too busy doing
the I can't believe I'm on the WWTBAM phone schtick to his family. That's 0
for 2 with me on the Phone a Stranger, when I used it in May, the stranger
gave me an answer that he said was positive, and it was positively wrong.
And when my daughter made the hot seat in Sept, she did the phone a
stranger, got a wrong answer, but realized and picked another ( and correct)
answer. I went with the choice of William the Conqueror, and lo and behold,
got it right. And now I was at the final question, with no lifelines left.
I hadn't even realized I was at that point, and it got really quiet in the
studio. I was really nervous, and was hoping for some question to which I
had the useless bit of trivia stored in my noggin, but it wasn't to be. The
$1,000,000 question was who designed the Mickey Mouse ears cap? The choices
a) Roy Williams
b) Floyd Gustaffson
c) Ub Iwerks
d) Clarence Nash

I had not a clue, and had only heard of Ub, so I picked him. I figured it
was a one in four shot, and wasn't worth walking away for just three extra
pins. The correct answer was Roy, so there went my trip to NY, and my WWTBAM
leather jacket. Oh well, maybe next trip.

After stepping out of the WWTBAM studio, we decided to see Walt Disney: One
Man's Dream. Once we got in the doors, It was packed. You really couldn't
stop to gaze at the displays in the first room without being pushed along.
We got into the second section, and it was a little better, but still much
more crowded than on our last visit. The displays in here really deserve
some time to look at, and it's tough with so many people crammed in. We made
it to the theater entrance, and when we were allowed in, it seemed like
there were very few people in there. Hard to figure, as packed as it was in
the two outer rooms. We enjoyed the film once again, and made our way out
afterwards. We then walked around the VOTLM theater, and found they were
letting people in for a show right then. So we hopped in with no wait, and
found the theater about 2/3 full. Perfect timing, and we got a seat towards
the rear, in the center.

Next stop was The great Movie Ride, with about a 15 minute wait. They were
only running one car, which accounted for the line. We made it in, and they
were doing the gangster side today. I prefer the western, but sometimes you
have no choice. We had a pretty good host, and the ride was enjoyable as
always. But as someone had posted recently on one of the boards, they really
need to clean up the screen or the movie at the end, the same flaws are
visible year in and year out.

The next stop was over to Star Tours, where it was also a walk on. Edna
didn't want to ride, so I went on by myself, while she checked the local pin
cart. The car was about 1/2 full, and after it was over, and the exit doors
opened, I waited for the CM to come in and asked if I could re-ride if there
was room. He said sure, and I asked when he was going to let the next batch
in, as I didn't see anyone coming in. He told me there was nobody at all
waiting, so he let me ride by myself. Thats was a funny experience, to have
a whole star cruiser to myself. I can't ever remember riding any ride by
myself at WDW in all my trips. After saving the galaxy a 2nd time, I had
enough, and exited and found the missus still checking out pins.

We then headed over to Muppet Vision, and stopped to chat with the CM's at
the entrance. They were interested in our pins, and we spoke with them for a
few minutes, until they told us it was time to open the theater doors, and
we waltzed right in to a less then 1/4 full theater. We had a great choice
of seats, and picked the rear center area. This show is much better from the
rear than the front. After finishing up with the Muppets, it was about 2
minutes before the Osborne lights were turned on, so we walked over there.
They gave us our glasses, and we discovered that this year the glasses give
you the angel effect, as opposed to snowflakes last year. This was a very
nice touch. They did the usual act before hitting the lights, and soon we
were in the mass being pulled along the street into the lights. While it was
crowded, it was certainly manageable. We were able to take our time, and got
some nice pictures.

We finished up, and by now it was time to catch a bus to AKL, for our 7:15pm
Boma dinner. The bus ride was uneventful, and we soon were in the AKL. The
lodge is done up very nicely for Christmas, with a nice African styled
decorated tree in the main lobby. Boma seemed to be pretty busy, and it was
a few minutes before we were seated. The victuals were fabulous as usual,
and we were glad we chose this restaurant once again. Dinner was around $50
with tip, but I forgot to write down the exact amount. The soups there are
excellent, as is the sauces that are by the carving station, and the
desserts. And I always sneak a quarter of the PB&J's they have, it's on a
delicious bread, and tastes so good.

After finishing dinner, we hit the savannah, but there were no animals to be
seen. We then browsed the gift shop, with nothing really new to interest us.
We then hit the bus stand, and waited for an Epcot bus. We caught the bus,
and entered Epcot with no lines. We decided to ride Spaceship Earth, again
with no lines. I never understood people who wait on line for this in the
morning, when you can always ride it in the afternoon and evening with no
wait. I noticed on the video newscasts at the end of the ride, they had
updated the video, and it showed the ending of this years World Series, and
some patriotic fans . I don't recall the last time I've ever seen them
update those videos. If you look closely, it's the first video as you head
back downwards after leaving the big room at the top with the planet in the

After SE, and an obligatory stop at Pin Central, we meandered over to WS for
Illuminations via the lighted Christmas Arch, which is one of my favorites
at this time of year.. It was now about 5 minutes to show time, and we
snagged a spot right on the bridge to Mexico. I have never seen it that easy
to find a good spot, especially so late. The show was awesome as always, and
when it was done, we took a leisurely stroll around WS via Canada, to the
International Gateway. On the way out, we saw an older gent wearing a jacket
adorned with dozens of WDW patches, some appeared to be quite old. We struck
up a conversation with him, and found he has been doing the patches on his
jacket for about 15 years. Most of them are ride or attraction patches which
are no longer available, and all in all, it was a very nice jacket, and he
was a very nice guy. We then bid him goodnight, and walked back to the Swan
rather then taking the boat, and were in the room at 10:45pm.
The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips

When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

Day three began with us waking up at 8:30am, again no wakeup call, just on
our own. Our plan was to hit the MK today so I could get a haircut, and then
hit PI at night to visit Comedy Warehouse and the Adventurers Club.

We arrived by bus at the MK at 10:45am, and I went right to the new location
for the Barber Shop. There was only one woman cutting hair, and three people
ahead of me in line. Eventually a second women came in to work, but it was
still almost an hour before I got my hair cut. There did not appear to be
any a/c in the barber shop, and it was getting quite uncomfortable. The
barbers stated this had been an ongoing problem since they moved to this
location. While in the barber shop, it appeared they were setting up for a
commercial right in front of the barber shop, but with all the time I spent
in there, they still hadn't started filming when we left, so I have no idea
what exactly they did film. Anyway, my haircut came out nice, and the barber
put some Mickey glitter in my hair to top it off. I got some funny comments
throughout the day over the glitter. The haircut was $15, plus a tip, much
more then my hometown barber, but he certainly doesn't have the same
atmosphere, location, or Mickey glitter.

After finishing up with the barber shop, we made our way up Main St, and
across the Plaza to Tomorrowland, where I got FP's for Space Mountain. We
then made it over to Harbour House for lunch, where I had the fish platter,
while Edna had the Fish & Chicken combo platter. The eats came to $22, and
were good as usual. While she finished up, I ran over to BTMRR for FP's, as
we were now in our SM FP window. I grabbed two, and made it back just as she
finished up her lunch. We then went back to Tomorrowland, and she decided to
check out pins while I rode SM. I rode 2x, once in the front seat, and once
in the rear seat, both times on the right side, which I prefer. The left
side was open the 1st time I rode, but when I got back on, the left side had
closed. There was no line to speak of for standby, maybe 5 minutes or less.
After Space, we headed back to BTMRR, and rode that using our FP. Again,
there was a minimal line, even though it was mid-day. After BTMRR, we went
on Splash Mtn, which wasn't even using FP's that day due to a lack of
crowds. We were on in under 5 minutes, which is almost unheard of in the day
time. After Splash, we rode Pirates, again with no wait. I picked up a
Pirates Pin in the gift shop, which is only available at the POTC gift shop,
and is smaller and different then the one you see on most pin stands. We
then made our way to the Hall of Presidents, and were just in time for the
show. The narration was better then it had been, and we enjoyed the show,
and especially enjoyed the fact that Clinton has been moved from the main

As HOP ended, it was just about parade time, so we found a spot along the
walkway that runs from the riverboat along the river, adjacent to the main
road in Frontierland. We were allowed to sit on the wall, and even though we
were set back from the road, still had a good view of the parade. I enjoy
this new parade, and the music is pretty catchy. It does seem a bit short
compared to most other Disney parades though. When the parade ended, we were
in a perfect position to hit Haunted Mansion, so we did, and again there was
practically no wait or crowds to speak of. After finishing up with our ghost
host, and leaving the hitchhiking ghost behind, we wandered over to the Dole
Whip stand, where we each got a dole whip, and sat down and relaxed near
Jungle Cruise. There was good sized wait for JC, so we passed on that. We
then crossed thru the underpass to Frontierland, and I decided to try the
Shootin' Gallery, something I have never done before. I don't know if I'm a
bad shot, or had a defective gun, but I don't think I hit anything at all.

After that, we walked back to Tomorrowland, and saw there was no line at all
for Astro-Orbiter, so we went on that. It's the first time we ever rode this
ride when it wasn't an e-ride night. There were lines at the other rides in
Tomorrowland though, so it wasn't that the whole area was deserted. We then
walked over by the Castle, and caught the Cinderella show in front of the
castle ( I can't recall the name of the show). It was actually pretty good,
for some reason I had been thinking it was just a kiddie show, but we both
enjoyed it.

After the show ended, we walked up Main St to the exit, with the obligatory
stop at every structure that might have sold pins. We then hit the monorail
over to the Polynesian, where we planned on dinner at Kona Kafe. The
Polynesian is really not that well done up for Christmas, maybe it's because
the lack of space in the lobby for a tree. We browsed the shops downstairs,
and we ran into the Big Kahuna, the Hawaiian guy who sings at 'Ohana, and he
remembered us from our last visit. He invited us to join the Torch Ceremony
, which was about to begin. If you have never seen this, it's done at 6:00pm
at night and involves the Big Kahuna ( I always call him that because I
can't remember his name, I know he calls himself The Big Hawaiian Guy)
playing the large drum, while a scantily clad dancer (unfortunately a male,
at least unfortunately for me) does a dance with the lighted torch, and
then lights the outdoor torches along the walkway. It takes about 5 minutes,
and is fun to watch. We then headed upstairs to Kona, and were seated
immediately. There could not have been 10 people in the restaurant. We had
heard so many good reviews and wanted to try it. We recently spent 10 nights
at the Polynesian and never made it to Kona, as we always seem to end up at
'Ohanas. Anyway, I ordered the pot sticker appetizer, Edna ordered the
Caesar Salad, and we both ordered the Beef Teriyaki which is a marinated
sirloin strip.. The appetizer was ok, nothing special. The salad was kind of
routine also. The beef teriyaki's were very poor in our opinion though. They
seemed to be the same quality as you would get in a sizzler or ponderosa
steakhouse. In fact, Edna ordered medium, and got her's extremely rare, and
had to send it back. But I was really disappointed in the quality of the
meat. I can't believe we both got lousy cuts, I've since heard from a few
others that they might have gone to a different supplier, which accounts for
the quality ( or lack thereof). To top it off, the a/c was on full bore in
the restaurant, and it was freezing in there. We decide to bypass dessert,
even though they looked fantastic, just to get out from under the arctic
wind tunnel. The tab came to $56 including tip ( no alcohol), and based on
that meal, I doubt we'll be back there anytime soon. We'll stick with
'Ohanas, which costs about the same, and has much better, and more food for
your money.

We then took the monorail, and got off at the grand Floridian, and admired
the excellent Christmas decorations. We browsed the shops, and then caught a
bus to Downtown Disney. We walked through the Marketplace, made a few stops,
but nothing heavy. We got some pins and trinkets at World of Disney, and I
bought my daughter a Christmas watch (Eeyore), which she had asked for on
our last trip, and had it shipped to the resort. We then hit Pleasure
Island, but not after going over the crossbridge by Portabello's, where
there is a PI turnstyle, and getting to the turnstile to find it closed
down, with no advance sign. So we then had to walk back over the bridge, and
around to the entrance by the Jazz Club. A simple sign by the bridge would
have been a nice touch, as we weren't the only ones who walked over that way
expecting to get into PI, but I guess a sign is not in the budget. We
stopped at the pin cart, and looked but there was nothing special. We then
hit the Adventurers Club, watched a bit of the antics, and then got on line
for the 10:30pm Comedy Warehouse show. The cast included Jen, Krista, Jake,
Todd, and Phillip, who are all outstanding performers, and the show was very
good. We then exited after the show, and browsed the Art of Disney store for
awhile, then got back in line for the 12:05 show. This show had Jen, Krista,
Mary, Todd & Phillip, and besides being about the perfect cast for me, it
was a hilarious show. A perfect way to end the evening. We then walked to
the bus stop, and were the only people on the bus, with a couple from Texas
who had just bought into DVC. We talked with them, and we all got off at the
BW, they because they were staying there, and us because we wanted to enjoy
the walk along the BW to the Swan. We got to our room at 1:30am, and I was
soon sawing logs.

The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

Today started with us sleeping until 10:00am, after the late night the
previous evening. After the morning necessities were taken care of, we
headed over to Beaches & Cream (via boat from the Swan to the Beach Club),
for lunch. We got there at about noon, and were quickly seated inside. I had
the Cheeseburger platter, with a chocolate malted, while Edna had the
Cheeseburger platter, and an ice tea. The food and drinks were very good,
much better then what you usually find at WDW burger spots. The tab came to
$32 including tip, and we were both stuffed. One of the other servers was a
pin collector, and he kept stopping by to talk pins with Edna, which added
to the nice atmosphere in this restaurant.

After lunch, we waddled over to the International gateway entrance, and
entered Epcot. We walked around the UK, while Edna stopped and chatted with
the CM at the UK pin cart. We then went to pin central, where Edna was able
to trade for the wedding set pins she had been looking for. All during this
trip we met many nice traders, and they were almost all willing to explain
to her what to look for when trading, and what to be careful about. Edna has
been collecting the WDW pins for a couple of years now, but not seriously
until the last two trips. She is now getting the hang of it, and has been
able to acquire some pretty good pins, while avoiding the "sharks". While
she was haggling at Pin Central, I walked over to Test track, and got FP's
for it. I lucked out, and ended up with 4 instead of two, for 1:50pm to
2:50pm. After walking back to retrieve her, we moseyed back to test Track,
and it was time for the FP. We rode once, and there was a minimal crowd on
standby. When we went to use the 2nd set of FP's, the crowds were light, and
we ended up the only ones in the whole car. We knew when the picture was
taken, so we got a nice smooch for the camera, and it came out great on the
picture, so we bought the picture. I'm getting used to no lines and empty
rides, but I'm also very saddened at the reason for it. I guess I'll be glad
when more people start to come back to make things back to normal. We then
walked back to Pin Central, and Edna talked pins for awhile. She was told
that the cart in USA had just gotten Candlelight Processional pins, so guess
what our next destination was. We then caught the boat to France, and
walked to USA, where we bought a few of the CP pins. We then headed to the
International Gateway exit, and returned to the Swan, to get ready for MVMCP
at the MK that evening.

At 5:20pm, we caught a bus to the MK, with intentions of hopping a monorail
to the Contemporary for chow at Chef Mickey's. As luck would have it, the
bus made a detour to Contemporary for another group, and we got off there,
saving ourselves some time. We went up to Chef Mickeys, where we had PS, and
were quickly seated, and soon enjoying the repast provided by the buffet.
The entertainment was in full swing, and we were paid a few visits, albeit
brief ones, by the characters. They spent most of their time with families
with children, and rightly so. Dinner and tip came to $56, and was well
worth it. We then checked the pin stand in the Contemporary, and Edna found
a LE Traders Pin, which was exclusive to the Contemporary, so she bought it.
We then monorailed it to the MK, arriving at 7:20pm. The lines to get in
were easily navigated, and we were inside shortly after. We of course had to
stop at the Emporium, where we allowed to purchase two LE MVMCVP pins ( they
marked your ticket when you bought them, to preclude repeat purchases). We
then did the free photo at POTC, and then rode POTC. The crowds tonight were
much heavier then the ones we had last year, the streets were quite
congested. But POTC was under a 5 minute wait even with all the crowds. We
then went on Splash Mtn, while the 1st parade was going on. Splash was a
walk-on, most likely due to the parade. We went to the Diamond Horseshoe,
where one guy looked like he was about to punch a disabled guy, accusing him
of stealing a seat from his family. Since the guy was already seated when we
entered, and the loudmouth entered after us, I didn't see how this was
possible, and at first I thought he was talking to me. When I asked him what
he was talking about, he told me that the disabled guy stole his kids seat,
which he had his eye on while in line. It was as ridiculous as it sounds. He
kept threatening the disabled guy, to the point where I was about intervene,
when the rest of his group pulled him away and they moved down the balcony.
The disabled guy basically sat there, seemingly not comprehending what was
going on. It was quite sad. We watched a small bit of the show, but didn't
find it that entertaining, and left about 10 minutes into it. The jerks kid
was even telling his father that he was mistaken, but the jerk didn't want
to listen. What a lousy example to set for his kid.

After that escapade, we walked by the bridge from Liberty Sq to the Hub,
just as Fantasy In The Sky was about to begin. We had a great view of
Tinkerbell, which was actually Rudolph tonight, but our spot wasn't all that
great for most of the fireworks which were mostly to area behind the HOP,
and was blocked from our view, except when they did the 360 degrees of
fireworks, which was awesome. After the fireworks, we walked thru
Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. I rode Space Mtn with no wait, seat 4, on the
right side. Then we both did Buzz Lightyear, where I became a Planetary
Pilot with a score of 128,900. We then walked back to Haunted Mansion, and
rode that with no wait. Afterwards, it was time for the second parade, and
we got a great spot right in front of the Liberty Sq stocks. The parade was
very nicely done, as always, and is certainly much longer then the afternoon
parade. Most people began to head out after the 2nd parade, and we headed to
Fantasyland. We rode Peter Pan with no wait, first time in quite awhile we
had been on it. It's still as much fun as always. We then saw Dumbo had no
line, and in all my trips to WDW, I have never ridden Dumbo. So tonight was
going to break that streak, and we quickly got on the ride. The CM obliging
took a picture of us in our Dumbo, which had a Santa cap for the season. The
ride was certainly fun, but not as good as Astro, probably due to the
height. We then did Winnie The Pooh, again with no line, and finished off
the evening with a spin on the carousel, a perfect ending to a perfect
Disney Day.

We then exited, and caught the bus back to the Swan, arriving at about
The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

Friday started early, for me at least. I was up at 7:45am, for the RADP
Animal Kingdom meet. Edna wanted to sleep in, and take her time. I was at AK
@ 8:45am, and in the gate soon after. I headed over to Kilimanjaro, but
first got a Danish at Tusker House to get me started. At KS the crowd was
already gathering, I met up with Bruce & Marta, Deb Wills, Dave Marx,
Sorcerers Apprentice Rob, and many others from RADP. After some group
photos, we were all onto our safari. I believe we ended up with two safari
jeeps, and the one I was on had a pretty good driver. After the Safari, most
of the group split up, with some of us going to Asia to see the Jungle trek.
On the way over, we passed the living grape tree, at least I think that's
what she is called. Very interesting, I had never seen that before. I would
put it somewhere as an Animal Kingdom version of the Living Statues in
France at Epcot. After we did the jungle trek, I bid adieu, and hit the bus
stop, to go back to the Swan. The missus was just finishing up, and was
ready to go, perfect timing.

We then left the room, and caught the boat to Epcot. We stopped at the Teddy
Bear & Doll Convention, which was being run in the Millennium Village
building. We got a few of the LE pins, and the artists was there, and signed
them for us. Most of the bears and dolls were very expensive, and we didn't
see anything we wanted, so we passed on that end. They said if you bought a
LE bear or doll, they would give you another pin, which was separate from
the LE pin, but we couldn't justify buying a $200 or more bear to get a free
pin. We walked over to Mexico, and had lunch at the outdoor restaurant,
which came to $19, and was a very good bargain. The food was good and
plentiful, although I can't recall the exact names of the platters. We then
hit Pin Central, and Edna did some pin haggling while I rode Spaceship Earth
again. After SE, we walked back to the International gateway, and caught the
boat back to the Swan. I had laundry to do, while Edna had pins to
re-arrange. On the boat ride back, a lady spoke with Edna about her pins,
and said she had the pin that came with a Limited Edition Doll or Bear
purchase, and that she really didn't want. She wanted to trade Edna for a
regular rack pin, and even when Edna told her that it was regular rack pin,
the lady said that she didn't care, as she didn't like the special Teddy
Bear pin, while she liked the rack pin. So Edna made the trade, and ended up
with her special Bear pin afterall, without having to buy an expensive doll
or bear.

The laundry facilities at the Swan are non-existent it turns out, you have
to go to the Dolphin to do your own laundry. It was kind of a pain in the
neck to lug laundry from one resort to another, so while it was washing, I
hit the grotto pool. it's billed as a pool for both resorts, but is actually
adjacent to the Dolphin, and is quite a hike from the Swan. The water in the
pool was freezing, and I didn't stay long. I went back in the Dolphin, and
played a couple of arcade games while the laundry completed. I then had the
pleasure of lugging the laundry back from the west end of the Dolphin, to
the east side of the Swan. They really need to put a laundry room in the
Swan, it really wouldn't involve that much.

After getting the laundry squared away, we changed, and caught a boat to
MGM, and then a bus to AKL, for the Boma RADP dinner meet. We arrived a bit
early, and did some browsing and had a drink at Victoria Falls. We met up
with Bruce & Marta, Sean & Pam, Rob & Keith, and Lori & Kathy for our
dinner. We were promptly seated, and with Bruce choosing a fine wine, we
were on our way to another fine repast at Boma. I had two of the soups, the
Chicken Pepperpot, and the Corn Chowder, and also managed to sneak my usual
PB&J quarter. I also had the beef, with two of the different sauces, and the
roasted veggies. I don't remember what everyone else, as it seemed
everything was being sampled . We also made the most of the dessert area,
having definitely gotten our moneys worth on that area alone.

After dinner was done, we took a bus to DD/PI, where we hit a few more
shops, and then made it to the Adventurers Club for the Night of Roy Meet.
If I recall correctly, Beth was there, as was Dave, Lori, Kathy, Art, and
Gretchen arrived later on. We did the Disney Trivial Pursuit, and were each
given a nice magnet with Roy's picture, and the Night of Roy Message on it.
All in all, a very nice evening. We spent a few hours there, and never made
to the Comedy Warehouse that night. We eventually caught a bus back to the
Swan, arriving at our room at 12:30am.
The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

Saturday was a late starting day for us. We took our time getting started,
and finally caught a boat to Epcot, arriving at about 12:30pm. We made it in
time for the big RADP Meet & Greet, and met up with many of the regulars on
the group, as well as some we had never met before. We posed for our group
shot, and were given a packaged prize from Prizemaster Bruce, which turned
out to be a beanie doll. We had a nice time milling around, and Edna chatted
with some of the pin traders, although she didn't make any trades. We then
entered Epcot, and went over to Yakitori House for a quick lunch. We had the
combo platters, which consist of a beef, chicken, and shrimp skewer, with
broccoli and rice. With drinks, and two platters, it came to $20. This
place is often overlooked by many and we feel it is one of the best lunch
spots in WDW.

After lunch we walked over to USA, and Edna got a few more Candlelight pins.
We then caught a boat from France across the lagoon, and headed over to Pin
Central. Edna had been told that they had a LE boxed set 4 park pin set, for
$75, and there were only 1,000 on property. We got to Pin Central, and were
told they were already sold out. Oh, well, can't get them all. We wandered
over to Innoventions, where we saw CM Art, and chatted for awhile. We then
went over and rode Spaceship Earth, and headed out, and caught the monorail
to the Magic Kingdom,as this was the only night to catch Spectro during our
stay. We walked up Main St, which was not overly crowded for a Saturday
night. We snagged some seats outside of Casey's Corner, and I hit the bakery
and got some croissants to tide us over. We watched the parade from our
table, and while not front row, was certainly a nice enough spot, especially
with us getting there about 10 minutes before the parade. The sound was
great from that spot also. Unfortunately, they were only running the one
Spectro that night, so we left afterwards, with the obligatory stops at the
Emporium and the Expo Center to check for new pins. We left the MK, and
decided to ride the small boat to the Polynesian, where we had PS for
'Ohanas. Our timing was perfect, as we left our 1st stop at the GF, and were
in mid lagoon, the Fantasy In The Sky Fireworks started, and the boat
stopped, and we had a perfect vantage point to watch the fireworks. After
the show was over, the boat started up, and we exited at the Polynesian
dock. We stepped inside and upstairs, and had our feast at 'Ohanas, and were
warmly welcomed back by our cousins, including the Big Kahuna. Dinner came
to $60 with tip, and was worth every cent, and then some. I really love the
pineapple with caramel sauce they give you at the end of the meal, it's an
excellent finish to the meal.

We then headed downstairs, and found there was a large Dizpins Group having
a trading meet, so needless to say, we were sidetracked there for some time.
Most of the people there were very nice, and helped Edna out with explaining
what she had that was valuable, and what to be careful with. They were a big
help, and a very nice group of people. When we finished up there, we went to
catch a bus to Downtown Disney. We exited the lobby, and went to the bus
stop. And we waited for a bus. And we waited some more. And then we waited
some more. As did about a dozen other people. In fact we waited almost 40
minutes, when a bus with no destination sign pulled up. He asked where we
were all going, and we all told him Downtown Disney. He told us to hop on,
and he drove to the TTC, where he told us all to get off, and take another
bus to DD. This did not sit well with most of us on the bus, but he said
that was as far as he was going, and he was done for the night. We all got
off, and found we had to wait on a line for a DD bus, along with about 20
others who said they had been waiting for quite some time. I went to the
dispatch, and made a complaint about the bus drivers actions ( Bus # 2637).
At first the supervisor couldn't believe that the driver did it, he thought
I was mistaken, but I took him over to the line, and he got an earful from
some of the others on the line. He arranged for another bus to come over and
take us, but still, it took us almost 90 minutes to go from the Polynesian
to Downtown Disney, which is totally unacceptable. If the idiot who drove
that bus should somehow happen to read this (Bus # 2637, Sat 12/1, around
9:30pm), thanks for nothing!!!

We finally arrived at DD, pretty much in time for the stores to start
closing soon, and hit World of Disney, where Edna checked for pins and pin
traders, with no luck, while I bought the new parade CD, and had it shipped
to the resort. We then walked to PI, checking the pin cart on the way, and
avoiding the closed entranceway, and hit the Adventurers Club, where we met
Art, and another RADP'er. They didn't stay long, and neither did we, and we
were soon back on the bus, and safely ensconced in our room by 11:45pm.

The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

We once again had a late start, as we were in no real rush. We took the boat
to MGM, arriving around noon. Our first stop was the BAH, where Edna wanted
to check on pins (surprise), and where she found they had some new LE
Reflections of Earth Pins, which she scooped up a few, as did I. She asked
about the LE 4 Park Box set, and they checked the computer, and made some
calls to the other parks, and said there were none left. Once done with the
pin shopping, we made a PS for Hollywood & Vine for 12:30, and scampered
over for a hearty meal. Once again, it was not crowded, the food was
delicious and plentiful, as were the characters ( plentiful, not delicious).
We had a nice selection, and I topped mine off with the coconut layer cake,
which I love. The tab came to $42, and was well worth it. We then left MGM,
and stopped by the room, where Edna retrieved her pin satchel, or rather I
retrieved it, as I ended up lugging it for her. We then walked
to Epcot, as there was no boat nearby, and it seemed like a nice enough day.
We stopped at the UK pin cart in Epcot, and Edna began to talk to two ladies
from England. They had bought a few of the Walt Birthday Locket pins that
were released the previous day at the Disney Stores, and offered to trade
one for a generic Pooh pin Edna had. That was a nice trade, and Edna was
happy to have one of the locket pins, which we had heard were hard to find.

We then wandered over to Pin Central, and while Edna did her pin thing, I
did my Spaceship Earth thing, and rode it once again. After SE, she was
still busy with pin trading, so I went to Universe of Energy, just as the
pre-show started. And even though this pre-show is much better then the
previous boring one, I just don't find Ellen to be a funny person ( and this
has nothing at all to do with her lifestyle). But like I said, it is an
improvement over the previous pre-show they had, which always was guaranteed
to put me to sleep. The cars only ran one set, and even so was still
mostly empty.

After Universe, I met up with Edna at Pin Central, and we walked around
World Showcase via Mexico. We passed a group of RADP'ers who were on the
side along near Norway, and then we stopped by Yakitori House for a quick
bit, as we were not hungry after the big lunch at Hollywood & Vine. We had
the 2 piece platters, and with drinks, it came to $17. It was tasty as
usual, and we ate outside and listened to the Candlelight Processional while
eating. We were able to hear it pretty clearly too. After finishing our
eats, we walked past France, saw Rob & some other RADP'ers, and exited to
head out. We then walked over to the Yacht Club for our RADP boat ride, and
met up with our crewmates, Bruce, Marta, Randy, Del & Family, and Deb was
there with her boat mates. The boat ride was much nicer then I expected. I
thought it would just go right to Epcot, and park for the fireworks. It
actually cruised around, going to MGM, then to Epcot, with the skipper
telling us about the area. Of course we had Bruce on board, who was a better
tour guide with his knowledge of all things Disney. We eventually parked the
boat under the France to UK bridge, and enjoyed Reflections of Earth. This
cruise was an exceptional addition to our trip, and our thanks to Jenn Reall
who did the work setting everything up for us all, even though she wasn't
going to WDW this time.

After our cruise returned, we walked to BW, stopping at the Pin Cart. We met
an elderly gent who is a big pin collector, and talked with him for quite
some, eventually walking back to our room at 11:45pm.
The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3

WDW Swan

Our last day at WDW started early. We were up and packed as we had to meeup
with the Disney Dollarless group for the trip to Belz, for the outlet
shopping. We packed our luggage, found we had way too much once again, and
went downstairs where we met up with Judimouse, Lori, and crew for the
excursion to Belz. Judi drove Edna & I, and we arrived just before the
Character Warehouse opened, allowing us time for a quick bacon & egg
sandwich in the food court. Once the store opened, we made our way through,
scooping up some bargains in a mad rush, as we had to leave by 11am, to make
it back to the Swan for our towncar to the airport. Once we finished, Judi
drove us back with time to spare, and we were soon met once again by JR from
Tiffany. After a brief ride back to MCO, we were soon in the terminal, and
on our way back to NY via Jet Blue, which was one of the most comfortable
planes we've ever flown on.

We arrived at JFK at 4:30pm, and I expected horrendous traffic at that
time, but there were no problems on the road. The shuttle back to long term
parking was a pain, mainly because it was totally packed and the luggage
didn't help. But once we got out, we were upstate in no time at all. In
fact, on the way home, Edna called the Disney Store in Poughkeepsie, and
found they had some Walt Birthday lockets left, so we ended up making a
detour to Poughkeepsie, where we picked up the lockets and had dinner at a
restaurant at the mall.

We ended up arriving home around 10:00pm.
The basics :

Who :
Bill, 43, NYSP Investigator, PAP holder, numerous WDW trips
Edna, 37 - Nursing Home Nurse, PAP holder, numerous WDW Trips
When :
11/26/01 thru 12/3


WDW Swan

This trip involved several new things for us :

The Swan : While the location was very nice, as was the rate, I doubt we
would stay there again unless we got a spectacular rate like we did this
time, and there were no good discounts to be had at the other resorts. The
atmosphere was very un-Disney, and too much like a generic corporate hotel,
which is what it is. Also the grotto pool, which is advertised a big
feature, is quite some distance from the Swan, and the fact there are no
laundry facilities, and we usually stay at least a week, and usually
require laundry facilities.

New experiences :

The Shootin' Gallery at MK, I did it once, was not too impressed, just felt
like trying it out.

Dumbo, was alot of fun, especially late at night, but definitely would not
wait on a long line for it.

Share A Dream Come True Parade: We caught this in late Sep/early Oct, but it
seems to be catching on with us. A bit short, but nicely done.

The Living Grape tree at AK : Definitely worth seeing, ask about this when
you're at the park.

Kona Kafe : Doubtful we'll go back there, unless there are some major
changes in the dinner selection. Especially not when 'Ohahas is right next
door ( we'll be back at the Polynesian in May).

Illuminations Cruise: This is an excellent experience, and we will most
likely do this on our next big family trip. Although we'll miss having Bruce
along to provide insight into things, unless we can convince him to come
along for the ride???

Jet Blue : An excellent airline, one that really makes a difference and
provides a very nice flying experience. They just need to straighten out the
mess at the JFK terminal.

The Dizpins people were also very nice, and we are now planning for a pin
trading cruise on the Disney Wonder, coupled with a WDW stay, for 5/12/02
thru 5/19/02.

And of course, the many fine folks from RADP, who are too numerous to
mention here, but who made this a very wonderful trip indeed.

Thanks, and take care,


PS - Stay tuned for our next one, the 7 day land/sea cruise combo 5/12 thru 5/19!!!
You've given me many ideas for my upcoming March trip. I never think about the Yakorti for lunch. I liked the way you posted. Reading the whole trip was fun. Thanks for posting.

Thanks for responding. Yakitori is a nice place to eat lunch. It's sort of off the beatnen path, and the prices are very reasonable. There is also a nice outdoor seating area, and the water gardens are right nearby.

Any other questions feel free to email.

Take care,



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