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Sue Holland -- August 2000 -- Walt Disney World (ASMoR, OKWR) / Disney Cruise Trip


Who/When/Where:

  • Who:
    • Sue (me - 41), DVC member
    • Chris (13), my son
  • Dates: August 2-12, 2000
  • Travel Method: Personal car, cruise ship
  • Resort: All Star Movies Resort (4 nights), Disney Wonder (standard inside cabin, 4 nights), Old Key West Resort (2 nights studio)
  • Experience: 1st Disney cruise, but 5th cruise for me (3rd for Chris). My 2nd stay at ASMovies, 1st for Chris. We stay at OKWR several times a year - with me averaging 6-8 WDW trips per year (probably over 100 total by now)

INTRODUCTION:

Besides visiting Walt Disney World (primarily for their resorts and the Comedy Warehouse), my other favorite form of travel is cruising. I've been on 4 cruises in the past - the last one being November 1999. I've always taken 7 night cruises, and frankly never gave any serious consideration to the Disney Cruise Line for a number of reasons. Holland America Line is my favorite, and from the trip reports I've read, it seems like Disney experience just doesn't live up to that standard in many subtle ways. (bear with me thru the negative stuff - it gets more positive, I promise) I'm also leery of having so many kids on board (even Chris expressed concern when we saw a commercial once that he wouldn't want to cruise during Easter break because there'd be too many kids on the ship). I'm not crazy about Disney turning a cruise into a "casual" clothing experience. For me, dressing up (& staying dressed up all evening) is part of the cruising experience and something that enhanced the feeling of elegance on a cruise ship. I love being casual at WDW restaurants - but on a cruise ship I'd prefer to be surrounded by men in suits & tuxedos and women dressed in their fancy clothes. However, Disney sets the rules, so I'll dress down for this one - it will make packing easier, at least. Finally, I didn't like the idea of such a short cruise - less than 7 nights hardly seems worth it, and the itinerary....well, let's just say that the Bahamas is the LAST place I'd ever want to return to - yuck! So, the obvious question is why the heck am I going if I'm so negative about Disney Cruise Line???

Well, a few things tipped the scales in favor of me booking the cruise. First, being such a Disney nut I felt like I should experience it first hand...even if parts of it don't live up to Holland America, it's still Disney, and I'm sure there will be things that I'll absolutely love. Besides, I need to base my opinions on my first hand experiences rather than my interpretations based on what others have written. Also, it's only 4 days - and I booked time at WDW on either end. I've got a bunch of DVC points - enough to pay for the cruise with them and still have a lot of time at WDW, so it's not really costing me any cash (other than the $75 trade fee, tips, and whatever drinks I buy). The REAL deciding factor though, is when a bunch of my DVC friends all decided to book the same cruise I was considering - so I booked the same date as them and if the cruise doesn't live up to what I'd expect, at least I'll have 4 days spending time with friends. From what I've heard since I booked, Disney has made a number of improvements and I DO expect to enjoy the ship and the cruise experience. I've also heard they did away with (or are doing away with) the improv comedy club on the ships - and that's a MAJOR disappointment! I was really looking forward to that, and that's something I've not seen on other ships...a nice way for Disney to set themselves apart from the rest.

Chris has been on 2 cruises before - both Holland America, both 7 night. He loves cruising, and I'm sure he'll find lots to do on the ship. He also has no idea we're cruising - I haven't told him. As far as he knows, we're just going to WDW again. We're giving friends a ride from All Star Movies to the terminal, and we'll be "pretending" to be passengers so we can go inside & see what the terminal looks like. After we're inside then at some point I'll surprise him with the news that we're cruising.

I'm not a spa person, so I won't be doing any of that stuff. I'm not doing Palo's either, since Chris is too young & there's not a night I want to miss in the regular dining room anyway. He loves to eat, and enjoys eating well on cruises, so I'm assuming he'll want to eat in the dining room and not just be grabbing pizza with other teens. Except for meals though, I expect he'll be off doing stuff with other teens most of the time. We may venture into Nassau briefly, but if we do it will be pretty much walking off the ship in order to say we were there, and then getting right back on. We prefer the ships to any ports anyway! At Castaway Cay we'll enjoy the beach unless it's too crowded - then it will be back to the ship. I'm not sure if I'll see all the shows or not - I was planning on the comedy club but that may not be an option. I'll be back on the Magic next month with a friend and assume she'll want to see all the shows so I don't necessarily want to sit through them twice if it's the same shows. The only thing I'm sure of is I won't be anywhere that allows people to smoke. We're in an inside cabin, which will be the first time for Chris (I had an inside cabin on my first cruise - back in college, and swore never again). I always get oceanview, but since this is only 4 night I decided to "cheap out" and save the points. When I saw how many extra points it would have cost and I calculated how many nights those points would get me at OKWR, it was easy to book the inside cabin, lol! So we're sleeping in a closet - it's a short trip. I'm not sure I could do it for 7 nights, though.

We just returned from a 4 day WDW trip and it confirmed that for me a 4 night trip would be way too short. Originally I'd booked 3 nights before and 8 nights after the cruise, but I've since cut it down to 3 before and only 2 after, to find time for an extra vacation in September (the Magic cruise). Since the cruise uses so many DVC points and Chris has wanted to stay at All Star Movies, I booked the 3 nights before the cruise there - and then added another night when a sudden business trip resulted in our going to WDW a day earlier than planned. After the cruise we'll go "home" to OKWR for a couple of nights.

Besides cruising with so many friends, we're planning to spend a day with other good friends during our WDW time. We've got a DisneyQuest day planned with Gail (Jdocter7) and her family, some time with Darla (iluvDVC) and her son, and lunch some day with Nancy (from PI). I really expect this trip is going to fly by - with so many friends to see!

I returned from the last trip knowing it was just 9 days until this trip - and then a business trip came up to fill in 4 of those days. Talk about terrible timing! It ended up working out that we ended having only 5 days in between trips! We left for Tallahassee, FL on Sunday 7/30 for 3 days, and then drove from there to WDW to begin our vacation on 8/2.

The plans so far...

Wed 8/2: - Drive to WDW, check in All Star Movies, visit park, Comedy Warehouse

Thu 8/3: - Visit AK, Comedy Warehouse

Fri 8/4: - DisneyQuest with friends, meet Darla @ AS Movies, Comedy Warehouse

Sat 8/5: - Park, laundry

Sun 8/6: - Leave ASMovies, begin cruise

Mon 8/7: - Nassau

Tue 8/8: - Castaway Cay

Wed 8/9: - Day at sea

Thu 8/10: - Check in OKWR, park or Stormalong Bay, Comedy Warehouse

Fri 8/11: - Magic Kingdom, other park, possibly Comedy Warehouse or DQ

Sat 8/12: - AK, drive home

Somewhere in here we need to eat at Rainforest Cafe, to use a $10 certificate that's expiring 8/13.

DAY 1 - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2000:

PLAN: Drive to WDW, Check in at All Star Movies, Comedy Warehouse at night

ACTUAL: We actually didn't know until we went to bed last night what time we were going to get up and get on the road. Since we've already been away for the past 3 nights (in Tallahassee on a business trip) there wasn't the usual flurry of activity to get ready to leave...that was all done last Saturday. Tuesday night was extremely busy - talking to several online friends and trying to catch up on the email, so thoughts of the WDW trip took a back seat...temporarily <g>.

Even though I'd been up really late, I kept waking up during the night (eager to get going, I guess) so I got up before 6. We had breakfasts of cappuccino, cereal & yogurt, and were on the road by 7:45. The drive was just under 4 hours, but would have been shorter if Mapquest hadn't taken me to WDW via the Belz exit...causing me to back track! I didn't realize it until too late, though. We arrived at All Star Movies about noon, and to my surprise didn't have to wait to check in. I was even more surprised to hear our room was ready!!! However, it was in Love Bug, and the cm sensed I was not thrilled to be staying there (I think the "Oh, yuck" might have given me away, lol) so she asked what section I'd like to be in. Chris mentioned Toy Story, so she checked there & was able to find us a room that was ready.

We drove over and moved into the room - building 10, not facing the noisy Andy's Room, and not a long walk from the parking lot. We're on the first floor, which normally is not my preference, but with all the water/gatorade & soda we have with us, the first floor worked out very well! When we cruise I bring drinks for Chris, so I'm not paying $1.50 or so per can of soda. I don't mind buying him a virgin cocktail, but not soda. We didn't take time to unpack at this point, since it was sunny now & might be raining later. Chris changed into his swimsuit and we headed to the food court.

We got a taco salad ($5.29) for him, and I just ate a few bites of the salad and a bunch of the shell. Not sure why I like those tasteless shells, but I do. We also shared a delicious chocolate chunk cookie ($1.89) - good enough to be worth making a trip here to get one! Chris thought the taco salad was ok, but nowhere near as good as the one at the Pepper Market at CS. We used our Disney Dining Experience card (only for FL residents - costs $55/year with mkc discount) to get 20% off, so lunch was only $7.

After eating we got on the bus to Animal Kingdom. This park was very, very crowded! If it wasn't for fast pass we probably would have turned around and left! We went to Asia first, which was shoulder to shoulder, packed with tourists. We got a couple fast passes for Kali River Rapids - for about 1.5 hours later. We then went to Harambe and got fast passes (using our room keys) for the Kilamanjaro Safari - for about 45 minutes later. It was also crowded in this part of the park, so we skipped the Pangani Forest Trail and instead rode the train over to Conservation Station. From the train, it's quite a long walk to the building over there - a place I seldom visit. We enjoyed the air conditioning inside for a while, then rode the train back to get to our safari.

The safari driver was excellent, and gave lots of information about the animals that was in addition to their usual spiel. It's a shame we couldn't hear part of it due to the other tourists carrying on loud conversations, though (and we were in the 2nd row)! We walked back to Asia, and went through the Maharajeh Jungle Trek to see the tigers - very beautiful animals - to kill the time until fast pass was good.

I wasn't going to be riding, since getting wet is not my idea of fun. Chris was planning to use them both, and this ride is why he was wearing a swimsuit instead of shorts. However, he hates hills and refuses to go on any rides with hills. I knew there was a hill on this, but chose not to tell him. That may sound sneaky & mean, but I knew he wouldn't go on if he knew about it, and I think he'll enjoy the ride if he'd just try it. He got in the fast pass line and I waited for him on that bridge where you can spray the rafters when they return. When his raft came by he was all smiles, and gave 2 thumbs up. He came running off the ride raving about how it's the best ride in all of WDW, lol! He was in the seat that got drenched - he was dripping, and his swimsuit and tee shirt were completely soaked. He said there was a hill, but you go down it slowly - and he loved getting wet. He couldn't wait to get back in line with the other fast pass to ride it again, so he did that while I left the park.

The All Stars bus stop is for all 3 resorts, and the line was completely filled in. I had to wait about 5 minutes for an empty bus to come, and the crowd had grown so much that we completely filled the bus (people jammed in the aisles, the cm trying to get people to move back further to get more on) and still left at least a 1/2 bus full standing outside. We stopped first at Sports, then Music, then finally Movies. This is NOT convenient at all. Previously, the best thing you could say about the All Stars (besides the cheap price) is that they have quick & efficient bus service. This combined route is NOT quick or efficient.

I returned to the room and unpacked. Chris arrived before I'd even finished, saying his 2nd ride wasn't as wet but still a lot of fun. I worked on the trip report; he got dressed and headed to DisneyQuest. He had the option of staying at DQ or coming to Comedy Warehouse with me tonight, and he chose CW because he's hoping to see Layden perform. I think if it wasn't for Layden, he would have chosen DisneyQuest (that's his favorite park). One of my local friends was online (Linda - elfriar), so we im'd and agreed to meet at Comedy Warehouse tomorrow night. A big rainstorm came in, with a bunch of thunder, so I got offline and prepared for the wet trip to Downtown Disney - leaving about 6pm.

The rain had come so fast & so hard that it wasn't draining off right away, creating deep puddles in several spots. I never realized the West Side had so many low spots in the paved areas - in one there was a boy laying on his back in water a few inches deep - soaked to the skin but loving it! The rain had let up by the time I got there, but umbrellas & ponchos were still needed. I bought Chris' PI ticket (1/2 price with the DDE card) for $10 before going to find him at DisneyQuest. You'd think it would be impossible to find someone in that huge place, but I have always found him very easily & quickly, and tonight was no exception. We played some arcade games until it was time to leave.

Chris was hungry so we stopped at Wolfgang Puck's Express and got an order of chicken strips with macaroni & cheese to go ($7.37 - no DDE here since it's not Disney owned). At this point I thought I'd forgotten my PI refillable bottle, and was prepared to drive back to All Stars to get it...but when I went to get my keys out I remembered I'd put the bottle in my backpack - duh! We entered PI and went to find Nancy at the Jazz Club. I was just after 7, but that club normally doesn't open until 8 - and sure enough the front doors were still bolted shut. We went back to the kitchen door, and found her taking her dinner break in the office. We sat & talked to her for about 30 minutes or so, and ate our shared dinner there.

We headed back out into the drizzle but it was still too early to get in line at Comedy Warehouse, so we went into the Adventurer's Club to wait. Graves the butler greeted us, shaking Chris' hand, and kissing mine. It wasn't very crowded, and not much was going on, but at least it was dry. We got in line once other people arrived, and it was questionable as to whether there were enough guests to do the show, but at the last minute enough showed up and we were seated. We got our "perfect" seats (by counting out how many people to let in line ahead of us) and our waitress took our order and brought me a copy of the night's schedule. Chris was disappointed that Layden was not working this show (me too), but at least I got to see who was working each show and what games they'd be doing. Steve was back for another visit - it's always great to see him working here again (he moved to LA but comes back for short visits). The cast was good, but the show was just ok.

We got in line for the next show, and got seats in the same row again - which was great! This time they opened the show with their new game where they make up a song rhyming with a person's one syllable name. Krista started it off, and asked someone to raise their hand if they had such a name. Chris raised his hand, was chosen, and yelled Sue! The actors made a joke about him being named Sue, but took it, and began the show. This show was much funnier than the first show - and I was a little surprised at some of the sexual jokes that Chris seemed to understand...guess almost 14 isn't so young after all!

After the show we talked for a while with Layden. Chris was excited to meet him, and asked him a bunch of questions. He also told him the first show wasn't very good, lol! When we first walked up to Layden, he greeted Chris with "Hi there Sue" - from that opening song. A few of the other actors & the keyboard player recognized me & either said hi or waved, which was nice. We'd missed Layden on the last trip, so it was good to catch up with him again. We left the club, but we'd spent so much time talking that now the line for the next show was really long, so we decided not to stay.

Before leaving we went to Rock & Roll Beach Club to meet Nancy's boyfriend - he's a bartender there. She'd told me which bar he'd be at tonight, and I'd talked to him on the phone once, so we stopped in to meet face to face finally. He's really nice, and very friendly. We visited for a while, and then Chris & I left PI. We drove back to All Star Movies and went to the room. I finished up the report and Chris went to the food court to fill his mug - I think with hot chocolate (not your typical August beverage, lol). We got in about 11pm, and might attempt early entry at MK tomorrow...and a banana nut bread purchase <g>.

The day went according to plan, and we had a wonderful evening at the Comedy Warehouse.

Total miles walked: Wore the pedometer, but forgot to turn it on :(

DAY 2 - THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2000:

PLAN: Visit AK, Comedy Warehouse at night

ACTUAL: We slept very well - no noise at all. I'd set the alarm for 5:40, which is awfully early for a vacation but is later than I normally get up for work. With it being so hot and so crowded, combined with the liklihood of afternoon rain, I decided we'd try early entry at MK - something we never normally do. They're expecting heavy storms later today and tonight :(

I got Chris up around 6:30 or so, and he had a package of pop tarts for breakfast. I'd made cappuccino for myself, and we'll stop at the food court and pick up a bagel to share on the way to the bus ($1.71 after DDE). The toaster here is incredibly slow, and there's no way to adjust the setting - very strange. At the bus stop there were at least 3 people smoking, and with the humidity and lack of a breeze, the smoke just hung there. It was completely disgusting (there were ashtrays, so I'm sure smoking is allowed there) and offensive so I moved off to the side to get away from the stench. When the bus came, it was empty, but filled to standing room only. We got seats, and I was surprised to see the bus had several tv monitors mounted - playing WDW information, giving tips for guests, showing the route, the date/time, park hours,etc. It was loud - so that was a little bothersome, but overall I think it's a good idea. This was a regular WDW bus, not a Cruise Line bus.

We arrived at MK at 7:50, and entered the park. Main Street wasn't very busy, and we walked quickly to Tomorrowland. Chris headed to the raceway and I went to Space Mountain. The standby line had a posted wait of 15 minutes, so I got 2 fast passes (8:20-9:20) and then got in the standby line since Chris was already gone. The wait was probably closer to 10 minutes, so it wasn't too bad - but it felt strange to not be on the fast pass side. The cm kept me off to the side and gave me seat #1 (front seat) without my asking, which was really nice. I was on the left track, which in my opinion is a better ride than the right - even though they're supposed to be mirror images. When I got off it was fast pass time, so I used them for my other 2 rides (right side both times). Chris was waiting in the arcade when I got off, so we headed for Fantasyland.

First we picked up a couple fastpasses for the new Pooh ride (9:20-10:20) and then rode Snow White with a 5 minute wait. We rode Peter Pan with about a 10 minute wait, and when we got off the rest of the park was open already. We walked right in to the Haunted Mansion, and then returned to Pooh. The fastpass here works pretty well - it cut out a 25 minute line for us (at 9:30). Chris likes this "kid ride" the best - to use his terminology! At Pooh the cm told us to take row 3, and as I went to stand there a guy tried to get in front of me, saying he'd gotten there before me. Duh - I wasn't budging, and told him the cm told me to take this row. He said his party of 8 was still waiting, so I told him the cm must be holding his party for a specific reason....and I didn't give him my row. For one thing, I didn't want to create a mess for the cm to deal with since I was supposed to be in row 3, and while I can empathize with the guy being frustrated, he's got no business taking it out on me or trying to push me out of the way.

We did one last ride - the Tomorrowland Transit Authority - and then returned to Main Street to buy my banana nut bread. The line was all the way outside of the waiting area, but it moved pretty well. I got 2 pieces ($4.22) and once outside we each ate part of 1 of the pieces (this stuff, like everything else, disappears a lot faster when Chris is with me, lol). We left MK, taking the resort monorail back to the TTC.

We just missed the Epcot monorail, but we were able to ride up front with the driver when the next one came. Horizons is completely gone - it's just dirt down there now. The new space pavilion is due to open in 2003. Epcot didn't look very crowded, although of course Spaceship Earth was mobbed so we skipped it. We did a couple of email postcards, and then headed towards Future World since it was almost 11 by now. They had the walkway roped off by that fountain the kids play in, rather than at the start of the countries. At rope drop we walked to Norway and rode the Maelstrom 3 times - Chris likes this one. We stopped to take a picture with the big troll statue in the shop, and as Chris was about to take the picture some litttle kid (maybe 3-4 years old) came running into the picture and started climbing on the troll! No parent did anything to stop or retrieve the little brat - so I told Chris to just take the picture so we could get out of there. There were several other people waiting to take pictures as well, and I didn't want to hold them up...and didn't want to get arrested for picking the kid up and tossing him to the side <g>. I was astonished at how rudely he was allowed to interrupt someone's picture - with NO intervention at all (not sure where the parents were). Yes, I let Chris go off on his own, but not at that age, and he knew how to respect the other guests. Ok - enough of that rant.

We walked around the World...stopping briefly to see the train display in Germany. We stopped for lunch at LeCellier in Canada, and despite not having made prior arrangements we were seated in a couple of minutes. We both got the cheese soup, and Chris also got a smoothie called Snowman (basically a pina colada with whipped cream on top). Everything was delicious, and even Chris (aka bottomless pit) admitted the soup is very filling. Total check after the DDE discount (but before tip) was $9.54 - a great bargain! We left Epcot after lunch, and returned to All Star Movies.

Once again the bus stopped at all 3 resorts, with us being the last stop. We changed into our swimsuits and went to the Fantasia pool for about an hour. It was HOT, and the pool was very busy. There were a ton of little kids, but not many Chris' age. He swam around a while, but then asked if he could go to DisneyQuest instead, so I let him go back & get changed. After giving him money for his dinner, he was off. He's planning to stop by the Rainforest Cafe to buy a beaded necklace thing he says all the kids wear, and then he'll spend the rest of the day/night in DisneyQuest. I'll definitely get my money's worth out of his DQ AP!

A couple of things about the All Star pools - for anyone who may not know this. They do NOT provide towels at the pool. You're expected to bring them from your room and then call housekeeping to get more (seems like a waste of time to me). Also, there's no jacuzzi, no water slide, and not even any waitress service to get a drink. Granted, that's not the end of the world, but I never really considered those things "luxuries". This is a no-frills resort, for sure, but it's still over $100/night with taxes for this time of year. One thing that did surprise me...a woman wearing a thong bikini! Not too long ago there was a really lengthy thread about inappropriate guest attire, and thongs were mentioned, but many of us had never actually seen one at WDW. Well, today was my lucky (not) day I guess. There's only a very small percentage of the population that can carry off wearing a thong in public, and this woman was not one of them. Nobody was bothering her, and no cm asked her to cover up, so it wasn't any big deal...I was just surprised to see one here.

I returned to the room about 2:45, and watched General Hospital while reading the rest of yesterday's mail & updating the trip report. I also finished the pretzel breadstick left over from LeCellier - those are pretty good! I even got online and read some of today's email before aol committed some illegal function and shut down on me - and I didn't feel like bothering with getting back on! I may regret it later, but tough! So, I got changed back into my clothes and headed to Downtown Disney shortly after 5. Inside DisneyQuest I found Chris eating dinner, so I stole a couple of bites of his Quest Burger. We wandered around together for a while, and then shared a piece of Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake ($5.02 after DVC discount). It was very good, but I wouldn't choose it over some of my other favorites. While waiting in line I met a very friendly cm named Craig who also loves cheesecake. He works in Downtown Disney and comes in often to get a piece - that would be dangerous for me! Chris used one of the internet computers there to send an email card to our friends Tom & Leanne. I tried accessing FreeRide to earn my points, but that site was restricted. We played some more games, and then I left at 6:45 for Pleasure Island.

People were already in line for the 1st show at the Comedy Warehouse, so I joined the line and Linda showed up a little later. For the benefit of any new readers, Linda is a fellow DVC member and online friend who moved with her husband to Orlando from Ohio 1-2 years ago. She loves Comedy Warehouse, but hubby does not, so she usually joins me here on each trip.

The show was good, and our waitress was one of the cm's who knows me. When the show ended & they opened the doors we were surprised to see it was pouring outside. The rain was very heavy, blowing side ways, and accompanied by lots of lightning & thunder. Our server came over & asked me if we were planning to see show #2 (we were planning to skip that one), because she'd try to let us just stay put rather than go out in the rain. The rain was REALLY bad. We decided to stay, and then the manager of the club came out and told everyone that they were welcome to just take a seat and wait out the storm - they weren't going to send anyone out in that rain. Most people stayed, and Carol Stein (keyboard player) entertained everyone. They let us all stay for the 2nd show, since there were only a few people in line outside waiting to get in. This show was also great.

We went back around & got in line for show 3, and by now a lot of cm's had filled the audience. This is typical for Thursday nights, especially the later shows. It sometimes makes me feel like an outsider - and they tend to be pretty rowdy. Lots of the suggestions had something to do with Disney, and it was a very funny show. There were a couple of guests that I hope were really drunk (their behavior if they were sober would be even more unacceptable) - they were shouting out stuff when the person who answered the phone was giving her information (an attractive blonde and her pretty teenage daughter). Krista was the actor taking the information and she had them bring up the house lights, asked 1 of the guys to identify himself (he did), and then asked everyone to look at the guy...then said ok, now we're moving on, so shut up. It did the trick - he shut up after that.

After this show we went to find a pin Linda was interested in, and she made that purchase. The line for show 4 was completely filled in, and I wasn't interested in seeing the show while sitting behind somebody so I didn't stay. She was heading home, after first stopping at Hoy Poloi over at the West Side. I walked most of the way with her, and bought a chocolate pretzel ($1.00) at Candy Cauldron - my first one of the trip. I thought briefly about stopping in DisneyQuest to see if Chris wanted a ride back, but figured he'd probably want to stay a bit longer so I didn't bother to go there. It turns out I made the right decision - when I got back to the resort he was already in bed watching tv! He said he wasn't tired, yet he was asleep pretty quickly. He said it took 52 minutes for an All Star bus to arrive tonight, and then about 3 of them came at the same time. Sounds like their schedule/spacing got messed up.

I finished up the trip report & got online. Tomorrow we don't have to be anywhere until 10:30 when we meet Gail & her family at DisneyQuest...we're not going to bother trying to get to a park for an hour or so before then, so we'll get some extra sleep.

The day didn't follow the plan really. We skipped AK, and went to MK and Epcot instead. Lunch at LeCellier was excellent, but it was a last minute decision. Meeting Linda wasn't planned until after I got up here, and I'm glad we were able to connect during this short trip. Comedy Warehouse was in the plan, but that's probably the 1 thing I'll ALWAYS make sure I do...no matter what else happens.

Total miles walked: 8.22

DAY 3 - FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2000:

PLAN: Meet Jdocter7 family at DisneyQuest, later meet Darla at ASMovies & return to DisneyQuest for dinner with boys, bring Darla to Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: For this morning I'd set the alarm for 8am - positively decadent to be sleeping so late at WDW <g>. Actually I woke up at 7:30, and just got up then. I'd been up until 2am getting all caught up on email and actually reading some of the message board stuff. It was quiet last night again - didn't hear any noise at all until people started walking past the room this morning.

I got Chris up around 8:40 or so, and went to get him breakfast while he showered. He had the kid's breakfast platter (scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, & biscuit) and filled his mug with sprite ($2.99 after DDE discount). I had my cappuccino, the rest of the multi-grain breadstick from LeCellier, and the rest of the 1st piece of banana nut bread. The food court was extremely busy - I was glad to be getting the food "to go"!

We ate our breakfast in the room while I read most of yesterday's downloaded online stuff and Chris watched tv. When the tv was on the Disney Cruise channel & they were showing Castaway Cay he commented that he wanted to go there. I just ignored him & smiled <g>. Little does he know he WILL be there on Tuesday...just 4 days from now!

We left the room just before 10, and drove over to Downtown Disney in order to meet Gail's family at DisneyQuest at 10:30. Gail has an attractive daughter close to Chris' age, and today he not only wore his new "Whassup" shirt, his Rainforest Cafe necklace, and was brushing his hair (which isn't even 1/2 inch long, and he NEVER fusses with his hair)...not sure if there's a connection there or not <g>.

We drove the car, and got to DisneyQuest around 10:15. Gail & her family were waiting for us inside - they'd already let people in even though the official opening time is 10:30. It was wonderful seeing them again - Gail hasn't changed a bit, and Joel is looking very handsome with a new mustache this year. Both daughters are beautiful young ladies - and SO nice!! Lauren is starting high school and Katy's going off to college, and they're delightful to be around. No wonder Gail's so proud of them <g>.

We started with the virtual Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, but had to split up since the maximum people allowed is 5. Gail & Joel were put with another group, and I went with the teens. It was so much fun we got in line to do it again, this time the parents together and the kids together. The teens thought they were going to wipe the floor with us old farts, but we showed them who were superior...the parents beat them!

>From there we went to Cyber Space Mountain. Chris said he wasn't going to do it, being such a complete roller coaster wimp. I agreed to try one with Gail as long as it was completely wimpy. The rest of Gail's family was striving for as wild a ride as possible, lol! Chris finally changed his mind, and we let him design the coaster. It ended up being a level 1 (the mildest), with few hills, no inversions and the slowest speed. He & I rode it, and frankly it was a little dull - but we saw potential in the attraction. He declared he wanted to do another one! We didn't stop again right away, but did Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster first (the bumper cars thing) and then went back to Cyber Sp Mtn. This time he designed a level 2, with medium speed, 1 inversion and lots of spirals. This one was much more fun...we could probably handle a level 3 next time, lol! This is now his new favorite thing here <g> - I'm glad he decided to try it, and I'm glad I did also.

We did the Invasion thing next, which is a lot like Pirates but not as much fun. We did the parents vs the teens again, and this time the teens beat us (slightly). It probably didn't help that I didn't know what I was doing. We decided it was time for lunch (around 12:30 or so), so we went to the Cheesecake Factory Express site inside DQ. Chris & I shared a chicken caesar wrap, and when I showed the cm my DVC card for the discount she rang it in as a cm discount (20%). I didn't realize it until I got my ticket, and didn't bother to have her void it out - there was a huge line of people. The wrap is $6.50, but I only paid $5.52 - and it was delicious. Gail & Joel each got a wrap, Katy had a caesar salad & Lauren had spaghetti. Everyone enjoyed their food - but we were less than impressed with the large group of kids seated next to us...especially the one who started choking & spitting up his food, and then trying it again to get more laughs from his friends. At first it was alarming that perhaps he was choking, but then rather than slap his back you just wanted to slap his face, lol!

We did the car racing game next, and I came in first place on my track (that's a first for me). We did the Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam - my first time, and I won with over 1.6 million points. Gail said it was beginner's luck, and I'm sure she's right! Joel & Chris played air hockey, and then the teens played another car racing game while Joel did a fishing game. Gail & I just watched. I left DisneyQuest close to 2:30, to work on the trip report before meeting Darla about 3:30 at All Star Movies.

The housekeeper was in the room, and I asked her if she had any of the laundry bags you normally find in a WDW resort room. She said they didn't have them here...I guess there is no laundry service here at the resort where "mere mortals" stay, and if you want to use the self laundry you just pile the dirty clothes up in your arms and schlepp on over there???? Hmm, interesting. She offered a recycle bag or a trash bag, so I said whatever would be best for my laundry, and left for the food court. I bought one of those delicious chocolate chunk cookies ($1.62 I think after DDE) and returned to find a JUMBO sized clear plastic bag left on the bed. Oh well, a bag's a bag I guess. I noticed on the back of my receipt where they used to advertise the walk around the world bricks they now advertise DVC.

I updated the report and got online for a while. Darla (iluvDVC) came over about 3:30 - she's also in Toy Story, but in the other building. We chatted briefly, and made plans to leave at 4:30 for DisneyQuest. We'll just take the car, which will be much more efficient than those buses!

Darla & Steven came back over at 4:10...Steven was afraid of the thunder that was starting, and was anxious to get to DisneyQuest, so I quickly got ready to go and we drove over. We got inside just as it was starting to rain lightly, and found Gail watching Chris & the others on the Astro Blaster bumper cars thing. Turns out while I was gone Chris had gone on Cyber Space Mountain several more times, including doing some level 5 coasters! His last one had 6 inversions including a very big loop, and he seemed to turn a little green on that one - enough so that when he was offered cheesecake later he declined. I introduced Darla & Steven to the others, and then we headed downstairs to do the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Chris and the other teens picked the teams...and they stuck me, Darla, Steven & Gail together - as the team of losers (or so they thought). Basically they had 4 very experienced people, and we had 2 people who'd never done it before...how fair is that?? Anyway, we blew them out of the water, and even the cm working there commented on what a great score we got! I was captain (driver), for the first time, and we just did very well. It was funny to see the other team's faces when they saw our score, lol! They'd been so smug, and now we couldn't help but rub their noses in their loss. We got back in line to do it again, and this time they scored better than us but didn't come close to our score on the first time.

At this point we stopped for dinner, since Darla & Steven hadn't really eaten all day. They got chicken strip meals, Gail's family got smoothies or cappuccino, and Chris & I shared a piece of the brownie sundae cheesecake ($5.02 after discount). We were unable to finish it, so we had to throw a little bit away. Darla & I left for Pleasure Island, leaving one of her radios with Chris so we could find them later.

Darla got in free as my guest (perk of AP holders on Friday night), and we got in line at the Comedy Warehouse. The first show was excellent - funnier than the first show usually is, and we really enjoyed it. We checked the line for the 2nd show, but it was pretty long. I knew we'd be seated behind someone so we decided to skip it and come back for show 3. We wandered into a few of the clubs so she could see them, and then stood listening to Frankie & the West End Boys perform outside. While we were in line for the 3rd show this man waved to me, and I recognized him as Harold (htroupe)! Darla had never met him in person before, but they've been friends for years, and I've met him twice on previous trips. We jokingly refer to him as the "breaded man" following a typo Darla made years ago when she meant to call him a bearded man. He & Rich also joke (or maybe they're serious) about wearing their thongs on DVC vacations <g>.

We went over to talk to him & his wife Denise, and then the line started moving so we went inside. This show was HYSTERICAL!!! Yes, I'm shouting...it was that good! The cast was so "on" tonight, and nothing they did fell flat - it was all amazing. We caught up with Harold & Denise outside after the show and chatted with them some more. They and their 2 teen daughters will be on the cruise with us starting Sunday. I spotted Layden (he wasn't working tonight) talking to some people and he walked past us on his way into the club, but if he recognized me he didn't say anything. Harold would have liked to have met him, but didn't get to. I think Harold thought it was a bit rude of him to not say hi, and assuming Layden saw me I would agree.

Darla & I headed back to DisneyQuest to find our sons and found them with Gail's family still. While we were gone they'd gotten Steven on Cyber Space Mountain (on a basically flat roller coaster he designed) and he liked it. When we'd asked him earlier if he wanted to try it, his answer was an adament NO. Chris was exhausted, and Gail's daughters looked pretty tired also. By now it was after 10:30 and they'd been at DisneyQuest for over 12 hours. We thought about 1 more Cyber Space Mountain, but the line looked a little too long. We left, and spotted Harold & Denise having just come in to pick up their daughters. I introduced Gail to him, they chatted briefly, then we all went our separate ways.

I drove Darla & Steven back to All Star Movies with us, and we were back in our rooms by shortly after 11. Chris was in bed asleep almost immediately. I stayed up to finish the report and read a few messages that I'd downloaded this afternoon. I'll wait to get online to post the report in the morning, so I'm not up for hours. Chris might go to AK tomorrow, to ride Kali River Rapids some more, but I'll skip the parks for most of the day. I need to get to OKWR to do my laundry and have it done before meeting Nancy for lunch at 2pm, so my daytime will be spent relaxing at the pool rather than running around theme park. I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow evening, although I will have to pack.

I've solved the problem of how to get our luggage onto the cruise ship without Chris knowing. On Sunday morning I'll drive our 2 suitcases over to Harold's unit at OKWR. He'll take them in his van and they'll get loaded on the ship along with his stuff. I'll tell Chris I'm taking our big stuff to OKWR early so we're sure to have room for Steven & Darla's stuff. Pretty sneaky, huh??

Today was a wonderful day - and we did everything on the plan. Chris absolutely loved spending time with Gail's family, and who can blame him! I enjoyed my time with them also - each one of them is terrific and a lot of fun to be with. Darla commented too on how friendly and easy to get to know they are, and I think Steven was especially taken with Gail. The Comedy Warehouse shows we saw were probably the best ones of the trip, and unexpectedly meeting Harold & Denise was an added bonus. It's such fun having our online friends here to share time with at WDW!

Miles walked: I didn't bother with the pedometer today since I wasn't park touring.

DAY 4 - SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2000:

PLAN: Visit a park, do laundry, meet Nancy for a late lunch

ACTUAL: I got up around 7:30, but Chris stayed in bed until 9:30. He was really tired last night! I showered, rinsed out a few things, and got the laundry together before getting online to post the report and download messages for later reading. My breakfast was banana nut bread and cappuccino; Chris went to the food court to get sausage & biscuits ($2.82 after DDE) and refill his mug. I wasn't impressed with his breakfast - it was rather bland. We make a much better sausage gravy in the Cafe at work.

He decided against going to AK first, and instead headed to OKWR to go swimming with me. I did hear Lauren mention yesterday that swimming at OKWR sounded like a good idea for today...hmmmmm. So, I'm headed to an ordinary pool at OKWR with a teen who thinks swimming pools are no big deal - but he is asking if we're going to be seeing "them" anymore - meaning Katy & Lauren <g>. We headed out about 10, and drove to OKWR. It was very cloudy, and stayed cloudy until I got dressed & left the pool (it figures). We went to the Southpoint pool, since I can park the closest to the laundry room at that location. Somebody was using one of the machines, so I did my 2 loads using the other one. Then, as I pulled my white skort out of the washer I dropped it onto the wet dirty floor - and had to wash it again. At least I had plenty of time, so it wasn't any big deal.

The pool wasn't very busy - maybe 1/2 dozen or so people at any time. Many people were doing laundry, which was the first time I'd experienced that. Usually I'm the only one. Chris just kind of floated around the pool, not doing much of anything. I was in the water for a while, but mostly sat on my lounge chair and read 2 magazines - which I left over by the laundry room in case anyone else wanted them. A little after 1 we changed out of our swimsuits (I threw his in the dryer) and at 1:30 we drove up to the main building. He was still tired, and decided to take the next bus that arrived and then transfer to an AS Movies bus so he could take a nap. He ended up not even stopping to buy lunch at the food court. He talked to Steven & Darla at our pool briefly, and then went to our room and went to bed.

I walked around, and looked in the shop. They had a couple of new shirts I liked, but the adult smalls are still too big on me, and with a price tag of $56-65 the shirt would have to be a

perfect

fit! At the Gurgling Suitcase I decided to try a Turtle Krawl (bunch of rums, not sure what else) and they take the DDE card so I saved 20% off the $5.95 price. It tasted pretty good, but strong. I could taste the rum on my breath after just a few sips. I sat on a bench outside Olivia's and updated my notes while waiting for Nancy.

She arrived right at 2pm and we went into Olivia's for lunch. She had a strawberry smoothie and the Cuban sandwich with onion rings. I got the mixed garden greens with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The salad was from the appetizer section, but I knew it would be plenty. It looks like they emptied a lawn mower bag onto my plate, but it tasted great. Since I have an AP we were entitled to a free dessert (or kids' meal), so we chose to share a piece of red velvet cake. I'm not sure exactly what the check was - I think $17 or $18 after the 20% discount and automatic gratuity since we'd used Nancy's cm id rather than my DDE card. We weren't able to finish the red velvet cake, so I took the rest with me and Chris ate it.

While we were there Gail & Lauren stopped by and sat to chat for a while. Gail knew "of" Nancy from the trip reports, so she got to meet her in person, lol! Eventually Nancy had to get to work and I left to head back to All Star Movies. It was a nice lunch, and it's always fun to sit around and talk with her.

Back at AS Movies Chris was asleep in bed. I put the clean laundry in the suitcase, and then woke him up before going over to Darla's room for a minute to see what they'd been doing. When I came back, he was in bed again! He slept 10 hours last night, plus his nap - and wasn't sick, so he should have more energy than he does.

We drove to BW and walked into Epcot to get him some chicken strips for dinner. As we got near Mouse Gear it started to rain - lightly at first and then very heavily. I had 1 umbrella with me, and we made to Electric Umbrella without getting too wet. Chris said he only wanted the kid's meal size chicken strips, so that's what I got him ($3.45 including tax). It has 2 chicken strips and a small portion of french fries, and small drink. He didn't finish the chicken, but did eat the fries. He blames his level 5 cyber coaster yesterday for his lack of appetite <g>. The rain stopped, but there was still thunder & lightning. We rode SpaceshipEarth, and I had trouble staying awake...guess I'm tired too. For whatever reason, it took about 2.5 hours for me to get to sleep last night - it wasn't noisy at all, I was just tossing & turning. We got off the ride and headed to World Showcase to see Tapestry of Nations.

We stopped in United Kingdom to await ToN and it started to rain again - very heavily. Eventually we ran across the street and stood in the fake English telephone booth for shelter - the umbrella really wasn't enough. We had to hold the door open, otherwise it was stifling in there. It rained for probably 15 minutes or so, and guests without ponchos or umbrellas were soaked to the skin...like the people getting off of Kali River Rapids, lol! One desperate looking foreign man came running over to our phone booth waving his phone card at us, but I pointed out that there wasn't really a phone in there and sent him on his way. I know years ago they used to have phones, because after Hurricane Andrew many years ago I used one to call home to see if we'd gotten any damage.

Due to the rain, ToN was delayed, but not cancelled. We walked around the world, and eventually they did the 5 minute announcement. We kept walking, and stopped in China to watch the parade. It was Chris' first time to see it, and he thought it was ok. I doubt he'd want to see it again though. We continued around and headed back to Boardwalk, running into some light rain along the way. I stopped at Big River Grille to check it out for a dinner planned there with friends in November. The cm at the podium gave me the manager's business card, and said we could make a reservation with her (we'll be a big group) - so that's great...we should be able to be seated together and get in and out in time for our plans later in the evening.

We drove over to Downtown Disney next. It was only about 7:30 or so and I foolishly thought that was early enough that it wouldn't be too crowded. Well, I ended up having to park almost in Tampa. I think something was going on at House of Blues, because there was a big line outside there. Cirque was just letting the first show out, so that added to the crowd. We went to DisneyQuest and walked right in quickly. The video thing in the elevator wasn't working, but we've seen it too many times anyway. I wish you could bypass that thing but they make everyone go that way if it's their first visit of the day.

I wanted to do Cyber Space Mountain, but Chris still didn't want to ride. We went up & I quickly designed my coaster while he got in the ride line to hold my spot (ok, cheating I guess, but when I joined him it didn't mean anyone behind us was delayed in their riding at all). My coaster ended up being a level 4. When I was about to get into the simulator the cm swiped my card and showed me my coaster. It had 4 inversions, and ended up being a lot of fun. The only concern was it sometimes felt like my earrings were going to come out of my ears, so I kept checking them when I was upside down for any length of time - Chris was outside watching me on the monitor wondering what the heck I was doing!

Next we played some arcade games for a while, and then went to the Wonderland Cafe. I wasn't in the mood for cheesecake, but I got us the chocolate mousse cup to share ($3.34 after 10% DVC or AP discount). It's got whipped cream, then a portion of chocolate mousse, then more whipped cream. It was very rich, and we couldn't even finish the mousse portion. Some of the whipped cream from the top I just scooped off and threw away, realizing we needed to save room for the mousse or we'd never get through this thing. The whipped cream on the bottom we never touched. I'm not sure I'd get this again. I know Chris wouldn't - he ate a bunch but said he didn't like it.

We left DisneyQuest and got back to All Star Movies around 9pm or so. I did a little more straightening/packing, then got to work on the trip report. Chris went to bed and watched tv for a couple hours, while I got online perhaps for the last time until Thursday.

We did everything in the plan, even though it wasn't in the order I'd thought it would be. These last 2 days we've only done a single attraction in 1 theme park, and watched a parade. However, we've had fun and feel like we're constantly busy!

Miles walked: No pedometer today - and I won't be bothering with it while on the cruise.

DAY 5 - SUNDAY, AUGUST 6, 2000:

Plan: Drive to terminal, meet DVC friends, begin cruise

Actual: YAY - Cruise day!! I woke up at 7, showered, and then checked my cruise documents. The other day when Darla & I were talking we realized we'd each assumed the other one of us would know how to get to the cruise, and in fact neither of us did - lol! There were no directions in the documents, though. I got back online - another 2 freakin' local calls since the first one didn't go thru! I checked the DCL website...no directions to the pier. I checked the cruise brochure...no directions in there either, but they do push the "transfers" you can buy. For the 4 of us it would only be about $180 I think...no thanks! I'd rather we share the cost of $28 parking plus whatever tolls there are. I tried Mapquest also - but they wouldn't accept Port Canaveral. Oh well, I'll just get on the road headed East and look for a big ship.

The express checkout was on the door - almost $10 in local phone calls for internet access (ouch)! I made my cappuccino and finished up the banana nut bread for breakfast. I got Chris up around 8:30. He asked if he could just go to DisneyQuest while I took Darla & Steven to the cruise, and of course I said NO, lol! He showered and got breakfast from the food court. He got the kid's Mickey Waffle breakfast ($3.74 incl tax).

I loaded the big suitcases in the car and drove over to drop them off with Harold at OKWR, then returned to AS Movies. Darla & Steven had just arrived, so we loaded up the car and headed out. Chris wasn't very talkative. While he knows better than to sulk, whine, or complain - I knew he was wishing he could have stayed at DisneyQuest rather than taking friends to a cruise. It was an easy drive, and we got there shortly after 11am. Once we could see the ship Chris got more excited, and said now he was glad he'd come.

I drove in to the drop-off area and dropped everyone off. I had Chris take our carryon suitcase so he'd blend in with the crowd, and Darla was able to enter the terminal with both boys while I went to park the car. So far, Chris was still clueless. Parking was $28 for the 4 day cruise - payable in cash only, in advance. Darla met me at the entrance to the terminal (the boys were upstairs inside) and we rode the escalator up. We spotted Donna (iluvWDW) & her family right away, and also Rich (richym1) & Deb (debkay) and their girls. We all hugged & set our stuff down, then I accompanied Darla while she checked in (ordering Chris to go back and sit with my laptop so it didn't get stolen).

We found a station where both cm's were free, so we headed there. I stood over on her side with her and while she was checking in I slipped my documents to the other cm & told her my son was here but didn't know he was cruising. She was careful not to give it away, and suggested that a cm could help us with the surprise. She got cm Tom to pose as if he was going to give us a tour of the ship before it sailed (as a veteran cruiser, Chris knows that only passengers are allowed on the ship). Tom came over to work out the details with me, and then I went back and told everyone that we were going to be allowed on the ship for a brief tour before they all sailed.

Chris was starting to get antsy - he felt that it was a waste of WDW time sitting around the terminal when we weren't going to be able to cruise, but I told him to just deal with it - as I wanted to visit with my friends for an hour and then we'd head back after our tour. I let him play solitaire on the laptop to help pass the time. He was pretty quiet...sad that he wasn't cruising.

We saw a family approach where we were sitting, and thought it might be Kathy (a member we'd never met) - but it wasn't. It was a family who was looking for me, since they read my trip reports! They were really nice, and it was funny...the husband said I was famous, and they asked if they could please take a picture with me for their other relative who also reads the reports. My DVC friends were killing themselves laughing at this point - having fun with the whole thing! We did a couple of pictures and chatted briefly - perhaps we'll see each other onboard the ship.

The real Kathy arrived, and we got to meet her & her family, and then Harold (htroupe) and his family came in. The last to arrive was Tina (tlfarmer) and her family. We were looking for Rick, but didn't spot him in the terminal. So, I guess we've got 7 families cruising together.

At 12:15 cm Tom came over and kept in character the whole time. He said we'd have to be off the ship by 1:30 - but he'd show us around. As we'd go places he'd say "If you were cruising, this is where..." - lol! Darla & Steven came with us, and thanks to Tom we bypassed the line of people waiting to board - we walked right on. We did get our boarding pictures taken, and our names announced, but I told Chris just to play along. Tom showed us where we'd go for the buffet (if we were cruising, lol), told us where the other one was, and then took us to our cabin. He paused in the hallway and I asked if it was ok if I went inside one to take a closer look, and he said yes.

I went into our cabin, and spotted our dining tickets on the desk (with our names printed on them). I picked them up and brought them out to the hall and showed Chris the one with his name on it and said "look what I found in there - I guess we'll have to stay". He glanced at the ticket, but didn't really react. I asked him - did you SEE it??? He shrugged a yes, and Tom started congratulating him, and Darla/Steven were all excited. Chris just seemed to be sort of in shock. Tom took us back to the elevators, shook Chris' hand, and told us to enjoy the cruise. We thanked him, and then went out on deck to see the pools.

At the Mickey pool I went up a deck to take a picture, and Chris stayed down with Darla & Steven. Steven was going on to Chris about isn't it cool that he's cruising, and finally Chris asked him just what the heck he was talking about. At that point Darla realized Chris still didn't know!!! Duh - I guess you gotta hit that kid with a ton of bricks or something, lol! She asked him - don't you realize you're going on the cruise too??? FINALLY it sunk in, and he was excited. I was upstairs so I missed it - lol! He said NOW he was excited. I pointed out that he'd have to skip DisneyQuest today if he's going to cruise, and he said that the cruise is 20x better than DisneyQuest.

We headed for the buffet, and got there just as our friends had come aboard. We were a party of 24 - lol! We ate in Parrot Cay, which is a very pretty room. I was surprised at how small it was, but with 3 different restaurants and 2 seatings, I guess that makes sense. Chris wasn't hungry at all, so he barely ate anything. I had a little fettuccine Alfredo, some pork and cole slaw. They had jumbo shrimp, and crab legs, but I'm not a seafood eater. There were many desserts - it almost reminded me of Cape May. There really wasn't anything that looked irresistible or worth the calories, so I took a couple of chocolate chip cookies thinking Chris would eat 1 of them. He didn't, so we took it with us. Kathy had given each person a bag with a plastic lei, small bottle of bubbles, and a couple of party poppers. Thanks, Kathy - that was a great idea!

Back in the cabin to unpack - when we heard a bunch of noise out in the hall....it was our noisy neighbors Darla and Rich/Deb, lol! I went out to tell them to keep it down out there - and then we explored each other's cabins. I booked an inside cabin - which normally I don't do, but for only 4 nights I figured we could deal with it. They both have veranda cabins - with Rich across from me and Darla next door to him. I went out on Rich & Deb's veranda and we could talk to Darla over on hers. They've got a pull down bed from the ceiling, since they've got 2 kids. I'd say our cabins are about the same size - except they have the veranda. The cabin is somewhat smaller than the one we had on HAL last year. Disney claims to have cabins among the largest in the industry - and they are larger than many lines, but not HAL (the newer ships at least). The closet space here is VERY small compared to HAL, and I had to put our empty suitcases under the bed because there wasn't any other place to put them. I like having a refrigerator (didn't have one on HAL), but it's a dorm style thing and they put it under the desk, where your legs should be. So, as I sit here typing the report my knees are rammed up against the fridge.

Impressions of the ship so far - It's more colorful than the Holland America Line (HAL) ships, and is very pretty. The HAL ships are very elegant and also pretty - but I think DCL might be prettier because of the more whimsical use of color, and I'd say HAL was slightly more elegant. The deck chairs on DCL are really tacky, in my opinion. They're white plastic things, and that's what you lay on. On HAL each chair has a nice thick cushion - all fabric (blue/white stripe), so laying on deck is really comfortable. The kids' pool here is really cute - but Chris is too tall (height limit is 64"). The family pool is small, and ugly. The adult pool looks much better, in my opinion. I think there were jacuzzi's at both the family and the adult pools.

We ran into Rick & his family outside the Buena Vista Theatre, and found that they're the other party at our dinner table. Chris wanted to see the sports deck, having spent a lot of time on HAL's sports deck on our last cruise. On HAL they had a tennis court on 1 side and a volleyball court on the other. Here on DCL they had a basketball court. Up there we ran into Harold & his wife Denise, so we went with them to find the teen area (Common Grounds). Along the decks by the pools they had ping pong tables scattered around, and we saw shuffleboard somewhere. We ran into Rick & his family outside the Buena Vista Theatre, and found that they're the other party at our dinner table.

It took a cm to help us find Common Grounds, and I signed Chris up for the teen excursion on Castaway Cay. He'll bike, snorkel & kayak for the morning with the other teens. It costs $35 and is limited to only 24 teens (there are 250 teens on board - yikes! I'm used to 250 kids total on a cruise <g>). I think Harold's 2 daughters might have signed up as well. Chris & I continued wandering around, and then he wanted to head back to Common Grounds and hung out with some new friends. At 3:30 they closed it to prepare for the lifeboat drill so he came back to the cabin. I walked around a bit (it was raining outside now) and then returned to the cabin to download the digital pictures. There's only 1 set electrical outlets in the cabin - over at the desk. Unfortunately they're so close together I can't plug in the ac adapter for the camera and also have the laptop plugged in. My laptop battery doesn't hold a charge, so I barely had time to download the pics before the laptop started beeping! What a pain that's going to be.

We had the mandatory lifeboat drill at 4pm. They ran it pretty much the same as HAL, except they didn't actually lower any lifeboats. The others were pretty hot, but living in Florida I wasn't as uncomfortable with the heat. There was a screaming toddler next to Darla - guess he/she didn't want to wear the life jacket. Thank goodness it only lasted 15 minutes, but Rich said he'd prefer being on a sinking ship than standing here at the lifeboat drill! After the drill it was mobbed getting back to the cabins. The crew had told everyone to return using the stairs, but Deb grabbed an elevator and we all got in. We're such rebels <g>!

I went to the spa for the 4:30 talk on Body Composition Analysis, which turned out to be a commercial for that particular procedure. It will basically measure what % body fat, % water, & metabolism rate a person has. It costs $27 and takes 1/2 hour. I don't normally bother with spa type things, but I figured I'd go ahead & do this - I might learn something, so I booked an appointment for noon tomorrow.

By the time this talk ended, the 4:45 sail away party had begun 10 minutes ago, and it took a while to find the others on the very crowded deck. They had Mickey & the characters dancing on the stage, and bubbles blowing. Eventually the ship started sailing, and our group set off their poppers. We stuck around talking for a while, but then had to return to our cabins to prepare for dinner (we've got 6pm dinner). Luckily it's a casual night for us, so it shouldn't take as long to get ready as it will other nights. Chris headed back to Common Grounds, and didn't come back to the cabin until about 15 minutes before dinner (that's all the time he needs).

Dinner tonight was in Animator's Palate - the restaurant that starts out black & white and the color is added as the meal progresses. We had the first section of the dining room - a section with 6 tables and we had 5 of the six. Chris & I were seated with Rick, his wife Linda & their 3 daughters. I'd met them over 2 years ago, but that was the only time - so it was good to see them again. We met our servers - Richard and Lynda...both very nice. I was a little surprised to see that dining on a DCL ship meant 3 courses rather than the 4 or 5 I've come to expect on HAL. Perhaps it's because Disney is catering to families with kids and kids can't sit for a 2 hour meal (we had plenty of "dead" time yet were out of there in 1.5 hours). There were kids everywhere in the dining room, and a couple of tables away there was a screeching baby (probably around a year old). Thankfully one of the parents finally took the screaming kid and left the dining room, but they later came back to try again because they ended up having to leave for good the 2nd time - not only with the baby but also with their preschooler who was fussing as well. Having done 5 cruises, there is no way in hell I'd ever consider cruising with a baby or young child. If others do that's their business, but they'll be missing the cruise stuff that's most important to me. Darla commented that on her past DCL cruises there weren't as many kids on board, so perhaps it will be better when I do the Magic next month. Even Chris commented that there were too many kids on board - but then all he knows are HAL cruises.

The service at dinner was ok. Chris & I both started with the caesar salad, which was tasty but not the best we've ever had, and it had a little too much dressing. They didn't come around to grate fresh parmesan cheese on it, either. He had the pasta entree, which he didn't care much for. Normally he loves just about everything - but I tried it and agreed it was just ordinary old macaroni (penne tubes) in a tomato type sauce...nothing special. I didn't like any of the entrees on the menu so I asked if I could get the crabmeat stuffed chicken breast without the stuffing, since the waiter had said the potatoes were especially good. What I got was a baked boneless chicken breast with green beans & carrots, and a plain baked potato! The chicken was delicious - very moist & tender. I had to wait quite a while before I could request sour cream for the potato. The presentation of the food was kind of nice, but not "really" nice...not up to usual cruise ship standards if you're used to other lines.

During the meal some of the pictures on the wall changed from black & white to a color picture, and then changed from one scene to another. Eventually they showed a bunch of cartoon clips (NOT what I'm looking for at dinner on a cruise ship, but I'm sure the families with young kids enjoyed it more) and then all the lights changed and Sorcerer Mickey marched thru the dining room followed by all the servers. The brought dessert out next, and this was the one part of the meal that I think they did especially well - sort of. First they brought out a covered plate and set one down in front of Chris and each of the 3 girls. When told to do so, they lifted the lid to see a chocolate covered Mickey ice cream bar on a stick. Now, Chris is used to more sophisticated food on a cruise than an ice cream on a stick - and Rick's oldest daughter is a junior in high school!! Why on earth they were treating these people like children (they'd ordered meals from the adult menu) was beyond me! Chris wasn't really hungry, and decided to just keep his ice cream (which he didn't even finish) rather than order a real dessert. After dinner I spoke to Richard and asked him in the future to treat Chris as an adult in terms of food selections.

The dessert for the adults was set on a painter's palate type of plate, and consisted of 4 different things all arranged beautifully on the plate. There was a tiny pistachio filled creme puff, a tablespoon of chocolate mousse, some sort of flan (maybe banana), and a cream puff pastry with pineapple. I didn't care for the flan, but the rest was very good - just couldn't finish the pineapple thing because it was fairly big. My overall impression of dinner would be that was good if I was just out at a restaurant somewhere, but since I was on a cruise ship I'd have to rate it mediocre at best - except for the dessert, which was very nice. Soda is free at meals here, which is nice. It cost $1.50 per can even at meals on HAL.

Harold had brought Toyota baseball caps for all the kids and passed them out at dinner. Richard noticed all the kids with the Toyota hats and wondered what was going on, so I explained about how we all know each other through the internet & DVC, and that we're from all over the country just here cruising together. Like everyone else who hears our story, he thought that was really neat.

Another gripe - earlier today and again DURING DINNER announcements were blaring over the loud speakers. It was real important stuff like what time bingo was starting, and when the latest "talk" was happening, etc. They broadcast this into the cabins, too, which really surprised me. On HAL they do not intrude into your cabin unless it's an emergency situation, except on the day you have to get off the ship. Darla mentioned she'd noticed on her last DCL cruises they did it then also - you could be in bed asleep and the dang speaker would start blaring "it's 8:30, you can now disembark for Nassau", for example - which is fine if you're planning to disembark, but if you want to sleep in then you're out of luck. It's like being in the Army! Very tacky, in my opinion. All the information we need is in our Personal Navigators, and since both Chris & I know how to read, we don't need a speaker in our cabin yelling that same information at us.

After dinner Chris headed back to Common Grounds, where he'd been before dinner also. I'm so lucky that he makes friends so easily (much easier than I did as a kid, or do now as an adult) - I'd hate to have an insecure child clinging to me all day long! I met Darla after she dropped Steven at the kids' club and we saw the Voyage of the Ghost Ship show. I'd read many reports of how awful this show was in the beginning, but also read that it'd been redone or changed since then, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The theater was full - lots & lots of kids! It didn't start for 15 minutes while the cruise director wasted time "warming up" the audience and talking about other activities on the ship (all stuff in the Personal Navigator). The show itself was just under 45 minutes, and I liked it. It was typical Disney type entertainment, kind of corny, kind of bland, but entertaining. Quite often the shows I've seen on HAL and other lines leave something to be desired, and I'd rate this show better than most. Assuming this is the worst one on DCL, the next 2 should be really great!

After the show we shopped, and I picked up some pins that Linda had wanted. Darla got some gifts, and we ran into Rich & Deb. Darla was tired so she went to pick up Steven and go to bed. We teased her a little, but it's her vacation - she's gotta do what she feels like doing. I wandered around and checked out the menus at the other restaurants, so see what would be coming up the next 2 nights - along with the breakfast & lunch menus. I really don't see us eating breakfast or lunch at a sit-down restaurant, though - it's hard enough to eat dinner without being over stuffed.

I ran into Donna, Joe & their teen son Justin and stopped to talk to them. We headed to Common Grounds and sent Justin in to see if Chris was there (nobody over 17 allowed). When the door opened I could see Chris sitting at the bar - looking like it's just another night at the bar for him, lol! They serve smoothies & coffee drinks in there (actually they SELL them...on HAL the Starbucks cappuccino specialty drinks are free, but not DCL - darn it). Chris came out, talked to us for a while and then we all split up. I wandered around the decks, and Chris went to play basketball but ended up just walking around.

One of the things I enjoy on a cruise ship is walking around the promenade deck, and on HAL they are beautiful, wide, and made of pretty teak wood. There are wooden lounge chairs lining the deck (with the thick cushions) so people can sit out there in the shade and read or just watch the water go by or people watch. Here on DCL the promenade is more of a narrow wooden path. There are no deck chairs (no room), there is no atmosphere, and it's only a place to walk...not relax and watch the world go by. If I remember correctly both NCL and the Carnival ship 20 years ago had a promenade more like HAL, so I'm not sure what DCL was thinking. Donna was commenting that the ship seems scaled down in general - stairways are narrow rather than grand & sweeping. Hallways are generally narrow on all the ships I've been on, but in many ways the Wonder had tried to be as efficient with the space as possible, and in doing so they've lost any feeling of spaciousness. If DCL was your first cruise, you wouldn't know the difference, and it's not a "bad" thing by any means....it's just not as good as it is elsewhere.

Chris got back to the cabin about 11pm - we'd agreed he'd be home by 11:15 since he was hungry & wanted food from room service. He ordered the Ship's Kettle (tomato soup), tuna sandwich, and Big Island Cookie (2 chocolate chip cookies). Room service said it would be 30 minutes, but I don't think it even took 10. He loved the soup - and I liked it too. The tuna sandwich didn't have a lot of tuna in it, but he didn't seem to mind. For a snack it was plenty. It came with a bunch of chips, which he also ate. The cookies were delicious - I got 1/2 of one of them and let him have the rest. We'll have to order these again <g>.

The personal navigator for tomorrow was on my bed when we returned from dinner, and our beds were turned down with those dark chocolate things on the pillows. They used to give those away after dinner at many of the WDW restaurants, but I haven't seen them lately. They're definitely better than the rather nasty brand or milk chocolate HAL uses for their turndown service! I found several possible things to do tomorrow - pretty much all the fitness related stuff along with time laying on a lounge chair doing nothing.

This day's report is long enough, so I'll describe the cabin another day. We are getting some vibrating pretty much everywhere on the ship, and a little movement. We're not bothered by motion sickness on a ship, and actually like the gentle reminder that we're cruising!

We turned in by 12:30am, not quite sure where the time went! The day went according to plan, and the surprise went better than I expected in terms of how long I was able to keep him from learning he was cruising!

DAY 6 - MONDAY, AUGUST 7, 2000:

Plan: The ship will be in Nassau 9am-3am tomorrow, might get off ship briefly

Actual: This morning Mickey called right at 7am and told me that I'd better get up since there were "big doin's going on", lol! After all these years of frequent Disney trips this is the first time I'd ever gotten a character wake-up call. It was at this point that I missed having a window to see what it looked like outside, but we'll manage for the next 3 days.

I slept great - no noise at all to disturb me. After taking my shower I sat down to make a few notes about the cabin. We're in category 11 I think...it's the inside cabin without the split bath, but it's not the lowest class of cabin (I think that's 12). I could be slightly off, though. It's #7563, so anyone could look it up in the brochure. As I mentioned before it's smaller than our last HAL cabin, but not by a very large amount. The biggest difference is a definite lack of drawer & closet space on DCL...I think it would be very difficult if there were really 3 people staying in here, even with the cruise being so short. It'll be interesting with Sheila & I sharing a cabin for 7 nights next month if this is all the storage space they have :(

The decor of the cabin is beautiful - I'd say it's prettier than our HAL cabin (also newer). The walls are creamy white, with a pretty wood trim. The king bed is at one end of the cabin, with the head of the bed against the far wall. Above the bed is a pretty round etched mirror in a wood frame. There is a nightstand on either side of the bed, with a really pretty lamp with a shade that resembles a globe and a wooden base. All the wood everywhere matches. The bedspread has nautical stuff, and llittle hidden mickey's. The curtains separating the bed from the rest of the cabin have flags, suns, & ship's wheels (& more hidden mickey's). There is a dresser/desk with a mirror. There's a 13 inch tv, and a dorm style fridge I mentioned yesterday. There are only 4 drawers - (one's a double & the other are single) and each one is only about 4 inches deep...not much room for stuff. Across from the desk is the sofa & coffee table, and the sofa folds down to be a twin bed (kind of short, but Chris just kept his legs bent) that was really cute. The closet is the last thing, and is across from the bathroom. The closet light comes on automatically when you open the door, which is nice. There's a safe which is operated with your room key, and a couple of shelves. The bathroom is your typical small cruise ship bathroom, but it's attractive and I'm small enough that it's perfectly functional. If I was 300 pounds though, I'm not sure I'd be able to use it very well....might not be able to get in far enough to be able to close the door, stuff like that. There is a small bath tub, with the shower in the tub - which is a much nicer feature than the shower stalls found on older cruise ships in the cheap cabins. Water pressure was great, and overall I'm extrememly satisfied with the cabin.

As I was about to leave, Darla & Steven knocked on the door. They were headed to the breakfast buffet, so I walked with them to the elevators (we're only 2 floors down from the outside deck so I use the stairs rather than wait on the elevator. I went to the spa, arriving just before 8am, but the step aerobic class was already full & had started. The cm suggested I could use the fitness center, so I headed in there and did 5 miles on a recumbent bicycle thing. The fitness center is much smaller than I thought it would be (from looking at the brochure), but it was adequate. There were probably 6-12 people working out. When I was done I walked around outside and watched the ship pull into Nassau. Tina and Sam were up on the 10th deck watching the arrival, so I waved to them. Nassau looked much prettier than I remembered from 17 years ago, but after talking later to all my friends who did get off the ship I was glad I didn't bother. The Straw Market was about the only thing open due to some Emancipation Day holiday, and it was as scummy as ever. People were trying to sell marijuana to Rich and cigars to Harold, and were bugging Deb about braiding her daughters' hair. No thanks, that crap just isn't for me!

I passed through Beach Blanket Buffet, and it looked like good food. I think there were 2 lines - one on either side, and it was very busy. They had a guy making omelets, and all the usual breakfast stuff. It only serves until 10am today (then probably gets ready to switch to lunch), so if we decide to eat breakfast food for lunch we'll go to Parrot Cay. The good thing about Beach Blanket is you can get your food and eat outside. The seagulls have discovered this restaurant, and were hovering over tables after people left (the trays with left over food were on the tables).

I walked around some more, and found Harold & Denise on deck. They're headed into Nassau once the ship is docked. I stopped in Beach Blanket and got a cup of hot chocolate to take back to the cabin. Chris was awake and dressed, and within a minute or 2 our 9am room service order had arrived. We got an English muffin for me, and for Chris an English muffin, cereal, and 2 milks. I'd written in hot chocolate (it wasn't on the menu) and they delivered a pot of hot water & 2 packets of hot chocolate. I wasn't sure if I'd get any, which is why I stopped at Beach Blanket earlier. We ate our breakfast while watching the DCL info channel on the tv.

We left the cabin about 9:30 and found 2 lounge chairs up on deck 10 above the family pool - figuring that way Chris could be there if he wanted to. Next month I'll most likely stick to the adult pool area. It was absolute perfection - not another soul was around until mid afternoon!!! Everyone must have left the ship for Nassau, and when they came back the kids pool area was extremely busy and even the family pool deck got kind of busy, but up top where I was it was wonderful! This was better than HAL in the sense that nobody else was around at all - but then on HAL I've never completely skipped a port and stayed on the ship the entire time.

At 9:45 we did the mile walk, along with Tina's family. After completing the 4 laps we each got a pin that said Disney Wonder 2000. Chris went back to the cabin to change into his swimsuit and I went to the adult pool (on cruises I tend to just wear my swimsuit all day long, then change into whatever the appropriate dress is for that evening around dinner time - it's easier that way & more comfortable). The water in the pool was definitely cold, as seems to be typical on cruise ships. I didn't actually go in the pool, but used the shower to cool off before returning to our chairs. When Chris came back we went to the family pool and sat in the Jacuzzi for a little while. He went in the pool, and I returned to my lounge chair. He went to Common Grounds to see what was going on there about 11:30 with instructions to return to our chairs around 12:30 for lunch. We never did make it to a real breakfast or brunch, so we'll shoot for lunch.

At 11:45 or so I headed to the spa for my noon Body Composition Analysis. First I was weighed and asked my age. The technician hooked 2 electrodes to my right foot and another 2 to my right arm, and the machine runs a current thru the muscle tissue to get a reading (it doesn't hurt). While this is going on I had to tell her what I eat in a typical day. I tried to use a non-vacation typical day, lest she run screaming from the room after hearing of nothing but banana nut bread, chocolate covered marshmallows and bye bye blues - but it was still pretty pitiful. My "body fat" reading showed that I was fatter than recommended, which did surprise me. People shouldn't be more than 25% body fat, and I was 27.8%. I wasn't surprised to see that my level of water was way below normal, and my metabolism was about 1/2 what it should be. She was especially concerned about the water thing, so I've really got to start drinking more. I like water (it's generally my beverage of choice) but don't like frequent bathroom breaks <g>. The metabolism should go up when I drink more water but she also stressed I need to eat more, and eat more often. I may repeat the BCA on the next cruise - if I stick to drinking lots of water (8-10 glasses a day) and eat more frequently (& healthier) I should see a difference in the readings. The cost of this was $27 I think.

I finished up just after 12:30 and went to meet Chris. We went to Beach Blanket Buffet (staying in a swimsuit all day rules out the more formal lunch restaurants, and I don't want all that food anyway - I need to eat often, but not a LOT, especially while the metabolism is so low). I found the buffet to be surprisingly limited...on HAL it would be a major embarrassment! There each day is a different theme, some different culture generally, and there is a huge # of choices. Here we had a taco bar, a turkey, and maybe 6 other trays of food. I took a spoon of waldorf salad for the apples, a buffalo chicken strip, and 2 m&m cookies - plus 2 glasses of water, lol! Chris ended up eating 1 of the cookies, long with his chicken strips and a taco. The chicken strip was very good, but the cookie was not very great. If it was, I would have told Chris to go get his own, lol! They did have a very small salad bar that was not very impressive, and a dessert bar with a bunch of stuff. Darla & some of the others stuck with pizza from the place by the pool, saying that was better than the buffet - and I believe her now.

Chris & I ate our lunch outside, then I went downstairs to deck 9 by the kids pool and sat with Darla, Rich & Deb, Donna, and Harold/Denise for a while. After about 30-45 minutes people started heading back to their cabins or wherever, and I happily retreated to my sunny chair. I enjoyed talking with my friends, but didn't want any more time in the shade...it felt great laying in the sun since there was a nice breeze. Rich and Darla had gotten drinks in these really huge ESPN glass mugs, and they said it could be refilled for the price of a regular (much smaller) drink. I decided to get one, thinking I'd not only use it here, but bring it on the Magic next month (sort of like reusing the resort refillable mugs year after year, lol).

Chris was over at the family pool with Steven, and I later found out...with "Ashley". I brought his sandals & shirt up to our chairs and then went back down to the bar. I ran into Darla and she mentioned Chris was in the pool with Steven and a pretty girl, but left it at that. I went to the bar and talked to the very nice cm there to get an idea of which specialty drink I'd like best, and she explained the ESPN glass mug program. It can be used for the frozen drinks as well, and they fill it up for the same price as a regular drink (but holds 6 oz more), but won't put an extra shot of alcohol in it unless you pay $3 extra. For me, the single portion of alcohol is plenty. I mentioned that I'd be on the Magic next month, and the cm joked that if I was taking another cruise next month then I make too much money. LOL - she was shocked when I told her I only paid $75 for this cruise and will pay $75 for the next one, thanks to DVC. I ordered the Bon Voyage, which the cm referred to as the "Hey Mon" drink (think Jamaica). I don't recall what was in it, but it was the closest thing to a bye bye blues, lol! It was good, but very strong. The glass just fit under my lounge chair, so I laid on my stomach reading a magazine and just leaned down to sip the straw - had it sticking up thru the slats in the chair. An hour later I still wasn't 1/2 way thru that drink, and ended up not finishing it until about 5pm (3-4 hours later).

Chris & the girl were still playing with Steven in the pool, but eventually Chris took Steven back to his cabin and then returned to the pool. There was a 2 person band playing by the pool, but they seemed to take long breaks and really weren't that great. I'm used to Calypso music or steel drums on HAL, and DCL was extremely quiet (except for the noise from all the kids).

The Sovereign of the Seas across from us blasted their horn several times, and soon I noticed people on their promenade deck wearing life jackets. I'm assuming it was a crew drill, since if it was a real emergency people could just disembark the ship onto the dock, lol! I'd moved over to the railing and was shocked to see that teen girl hanging all over Chris! The little harlot kept putting her arms around him, swimming arm & arm with him, climbing on his back - and she'd only met him an hour ago....or yesterday at the latest!! He wasn't exactly encouraging her, but he wasn't discouraging her, either. Eventually I went down to meet the hussy, and asked her what her name was and what her intentions were with my son. Well, ok - I only asked her name, and she said Ashley. She seemed friendly, and looked around 15-16 years old. I wonder if she knew how old Chris is, lol!

I went back to the cabin and put the rest of my drink into the refrigerator, then went up to Barrel of Laughs for a Sit to be Fit class. Until recently Barrel of Laughs was the improv comedy club, and probably the thing I was most looking forward to on the ship. Now it's a dueling piano place...which can be fun, but I'm just not interested. The class was a workout you could do while sitting on the edge of a chair, and was led by a cute young cm named David who was a lot of fun. He said we'd be sweating before it was done, and although I didn't sweat thru it, the class was tougher than I'd thought it would be. It felt great though, and we each got another pin when the 1/2 hour was over.

It was 4pm so I got my drink out of the refrigerator and went to go sit on Darla's veranda. Rich & Deb were out on theirs, so we all talked. We could hear the band from the Sovereign of the Seas - they sounded a lot better than our band also. Rich saw a guy being led off in handcuffs, and assumed it was a drug dealer or something like that, but then we saw a couple of guys remove the handcuffs and noticed one person had a camera. They repeated the scene a little further down, filming it again.

Around 4:30 I went back across the hall to my cabin to take another shower. Chris had come in and changed into regular clothes while I was gone, but he came back at 5 (from Common Grounds). We headed up to Parrot Cay for dinner, and tonight was MUCH better than last night! Chris got the coconut shrimp and the surf & turf (lobster thermidor and beef tenderloin) and said it all was great. I had the chilled passion fruit soup, which was one of the all-time BEST things I've ever eaten. They even made a Mickey head with light cream floating on top - it was pretty and delicious. For my meal I got the jerk chicken, which lost all of the jerk flavor when I removed the skin, but it still tasted good. It came with rice that had red beans in it, so I ate some of the rice while being careful to avoid the beans. I also drank 2.5 glasses of water - trying to be better. Chris also got one of the special drink of the day - it was a combination banana & pina colada thing and it was really delicious, too! I skipped dessert, and Chris got the bananas foster. He got too full to finish his dinner and dessert, but that's probably due to the 2 pieces of pizza he said he ate at 4pm!

Harold's daughters stopped by our table to tell Chris that Ashley really wants to dance with him tonight, but he's not going on the Teen Junkanoo Cruise thing. Guess this Ashley chick has got it pretty bad for Chris, if she's blabbing about him to all the other girls...maybe she's marking her territory or something.

We returned to the cabin briefly, and our steward had created a towel animal for us. Laying on my bed was a sunbather - legs crossed, arms up over head, and my sunglasses on the face! It was so adorable, and Chris was laughing at how funny it looked! Some of the others also found towel creations, but not everyone.

We made it to Wavebands for the 7:45 Fred Becker show - he's a magician/comedian. Unfortunately, I thought the show stunk, and Chris was bored too. We'd sat in the back so we could leave without disturbing anyone if the show didn't end by 8:25, and we ended up leaving after about 10-15 minutes! His first trick he picked a guy from the audience, and this guy was such a major jerk face...trying to be funny, but just looking like a big loser. I felt bad for Becker, but even with that rocky start behind him, the show never got better. If I see him on the Personal Navigator next month, I'll be sure to skip it (he works somewhere at WDW, and occasionally comes to the ships).

With about 1/2 hour to kill we wandered through Shutters and the shops, and then left the ship and walked on the dock at Nassau (so he could say he'd been there) before going to the Walt Disney Theater for the 8:30 showing of the movie The Kid. Normally the movies are shown elsewhere, but since there wasn't a stage show tonight they used that theater for this movie. We went in and sat down, then noticed Kathy waving to us. The rest of our group was over with her, so we moved over also. We ended up with 5 of the 8 families (I recounted, we've got 8 families cruising together), minus some of the kids. The movie was good - had some really funny lines, but it wasn't as much of a comedy as I was expecting. We all enjoyed it, though.

Following the movie I think some people headed up to the deck party. Chris & I headed back to the cabin. I think we were both a little tired, and knew we'd be up early in the morning to head for Castaway Cay. Chris was hungry, so he called room service and got a ham & cheese sandwich, manicotti, chocolate milk, and an order of those wonderful chocolate chip cookies. I ate most of 1 of the cookies, and he ate everything else! We filled out the card for continental breakfast delivery tomorrow, since we didn't want to have to rush up to a crowded buffet before getting off the ship. Maybe we'll eat a real breakfast on Wednesday. I finished up the report and got it ready for posting once on dry land again.

The day went exactly according to plan. Our time in Nassau was very brief - not more than 5 minutes, which is plenty of time for Nassau! It was a glorious day on the ship since so many people went ashore, and when they returned they stayed in the kiddie pool area mostly. I noticed today the announcements were being broadcast in the hallways, but not in the cabins...which is some improvement over yesterday. I would have preferred we were only in Nassau for part of the day, and then continued cruising though. Being parked at a dock all day & all night is NOT my idea of being on a cruise. I felt more like I was staying at a resort, since we were not moving at all. Overall though, I am much happier with the cruise today than I was yesterday. There are still way too many kids on board for our taste, and it's too crowded when everyone's on the ship, but I had a wonderful day and haven't ruled out the possibility of doing the 4 night cruise again some day.

DAY 7 - TUESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2000:

Plan: Castaway Cay - beach day

Actual: The personal navigator for today didn't have much on it that was of interest, so it'll mainly be a day of relaxing & being lazy. Chris is doing the teen "Wild Side" excursion all morning, and needs to meet the others at Common Ground at 8:30 am.

Mickey called again at 7, so I got up and showered. Room service delivered just before 7:30, but it was the wrong order, so she had to come back and swap trays. I got hot chocolate and a croissant - the croissant wasn't very good, and was pretty small. Chris had juice, chocolate milk, a doughnut & 2 bowls of cereal. We probably should have just gone to the buffet. Darla & Rich/Deb stopped by a few minutes later on their way up to the buffet, but since we had our stuff we didn't go with them :( I did ask Darla to bring me back a plate with some fruit, which grossed her out - she says she hates fruit!

While eating, we watched the Early Show on tv - it's strange to get current tv shows while on a cruise. I also read more of the messages downloaded last Sunday. There was no pressure to get to them in a timely manner, since I wouldn't be bothering to reply, knowing my reply wouldn't be seen for 4 days!

Darla brought me back a slice of cantaloupe & some watermelon, which was pretty good (not the best tasting fruit ever, though). Chris headed up to Common Grounds shortly after 8 to await the rest of his excursion group. I went with Darla & Rich/Deb to the disembarking area, and we met some of the others there. Once on land we got beach towels and then rode the tram to the family beach. Castaway Cay looks a lot like HAL's private island (Half Moon Cay), but is probably longer. It should be, since it handles 2600 people and HAL brings about 1/2 that. There is a small area with a couple shops, but I didn't get around to looking in them. There's a kids club area, but I heard they don't let the kids in the water, so most of our friends just kept their kids with them most of the day. There's the typical barbecue area - actually 1 near the family beach and another down by the adult beach. There's also a "sports" beach, which might be intended for the teens, but I'm not sure.

We pretty much got off the tram and settled right there. We had several umbrellas, lots of chairs, and a hammock, and all of our families gathered in this same area. It was fun having so many friends around - it really made the entire day much more fun than if we didn't know anyone. Everyone shared their rafts and kept an eye on each other's kids.

I did the 10:30 Island Walk, and so did Rick & Linda. It was a very fast walk, out to and down the landing strip to the adult beach. It was a hot walk on the pavement in the sun, and from there the 3 of us rode the cool tram back to the family beach. We walked out on the adult beach, and I was really impressed with this one! This is where Sheila & I will be next month, for sure! It was not crowded, the water & beach was beautiful, and everyone had plenty of room to spread out. There was a bar and a bbq place right there, too. At the family beach it was mobbed - both on the beach and in the water! We had to be there, since we had kids, but the adult beach is so much nicer.

They had cm's walking the beach bringing drinks, and even 1 cm pulling an inflatable boat in the water with drinks! I used my giant ESPN mug and got a mudslide - I think it was my first one, as I don't recall having a drink with chocolate syrup before. It was delicious - like a coffee milkshake. It was really too much for 1 person, so I poured half into Darla's ESPN mug and she'll repay me with 1/2 a mudslide some other time.

We alternated between laying on our chairs and floating in the water. Several people snorkeled, but by afternoon it was too cloudy in the water to see anything - even far out. Chris enjoyed his snorkel time, bike riding, and kayaking. He snorkeled again later, and took Steven over to a kids playground area out in the water.

Lunch was at Cookie's BBQ, and frankly it was nothing special. They had some salads, burgers, chicken, ribs, cookies & fruit. The burgers were really big, and Chris ate most of 2 of them. They had a dj playing music on the beach, and it was a nice day despite the huge crowds. Chris & I headed back to the ship about 2:30.

We dropped our stuff off in the cabin and went up to play ping pong - where I whupped his butt! I got a small ice cream cone from scoops (ok - nothing special) and he got a virgin version of today's drink - Conk Cooler. It had passionfruit and orange...very tasty, and we got it in the big ESPN mug.

Back in the cabin I caught the end of General Hospital while Chris showered, and then I took my shower. Chris headed up on deck to watch us set sail at 5pm, and I went to the fitness center. About 1/2 way through the treadmill program a cm came back to tell me I wasn't allowed to use the equipment without tennis shoes, so I left. It was pretty warm up there anyway, so no loss.

Tonight's dinner is at Triton's, the fancy restaurant. Chris is wearing a white shirt & tie with a pair of dress pants, but I didn't bring a full suit for him since Disney doesn't seem to care. I wore a black-tie optional short dress, and will bring it along again next month. They were taking family portraits outside the restaurant, so we got in line behind Rich's family and had the picture taken. In retrospect I shouldn't have, since there was a photographer taking pictures at dinner, and it's very unlikely I'd buy an 8x10 picture of us.

Dinner was excellent, and we all went around taking pictures of everyone else since we were all dressed up. The only family I missed was Rick & Linda's - because the window was behind them and the sunlight would have washed them out. For dinner Chris got the creamy lobster soup and the shrimp cocktail, plus tried one of Rick's escargot. The shrimp had 4 very large shrimp on there, and Chris said it all was good. For his meal he got the herb crusted sea bass, which he liked after scraping off the topping. He also ate some of my meal, and got crème brulee for dessert. I had fruit cocktail and the breast of chicken stuffed with leeks and served with some sort of cheese polenta - very good! My dessert was the triple chocolate truffle thing...3 layers of dark chocolate candy with chocolate mousse in between, and a little vanilla and something else on the side - it was also great, and very pretty on the plate. I had 3-4 glasses of water with dinner, and couldn't wait to run back to the cabin to use the bathroom, lol!

I also changed into casual clothes after dinner. As much as I hate that Disney is destroying the elegant tradition of dressing for dinner and staying dressed for the evening on a cruise, I didn't see the point in being all dressed up when most of my fellow passengers would be wearing shorts & tee shirts. I was so stuffed from dinner, I wanted to get out of my dress anyway.

Chris went to the 8:30 showing of the movie Gone in 60 Seconds. Most of the others went to the show Hercules the Muse-ical. I decided that since I'll be back next month and I expect Sheila is going to want to see all the shows, I'd wait & see this one with her. I don't want to see them all 2 months in a row! I went shopping for a while, then went to some deck and got another cup of ice water. I walked around the promenade deck, and also the upper decks. The ship was wonderfully deserted since everyone was either at a show or at dinner - it was really nice, and I loved being able to roam without crowds. I stopped by guest services and took care of my tips for tomorrow - no need to wait in line with everyone else tomorrow to do that!

Back at the cabin, the steward had made us an elephant with the towels, and it was wearing my sunglasses again - very cute. I took the camcorder and wandered around filming parts of the ship, and will shoot some more tomorrow during the day. I stopped at the ESPN bar, to see what merchandise they had. The whole place reeked of cigarette smoke, and I could barely stand the shop - I'd never even attempt going up the stairs into the actual bar...yuck! However, Chris might like one of the ESPN/DCL tee shirts, so I'll bring him in there tomorrow sometime.

At 10 I went to join the others at Wavebands for a game called WonderQuest. Our team was Harold & Denise, Donna & Joe, Darla, Rich & Deb, and me. The cm would call out some unusual item - like a woman wearing a man's shirt or a man wearing a woman's shoes - and each team that had the item would run up to get a point. He asked for 2 women with a bra, but off their body...Donna & I took care of that for the team, but I'm not going to tell what we did <g>. We ended up coming in 2nd place, and each family won a $.99 DCL pen, lol! It was fun, though, and that's all that matters. Unfortunately, as more people came some of them started to smoke...whether they were in the no smoking area or not. The final straw for me was when a couple came and sat down immediately next to me & I saw the pack of Marlboro's on the table - I was outa there in a flash. My apologies to the others, but I cannot/will not tolerate cigarette smoke.

I wandered around a bit, and found Chris & Justin up by the pizza place. They'd both seen the movie, and were now each wolfing down 3 pieces of pizza before they ran back for the 10:45 movie Shanghai Noon. It sounds like I would have liked the Gone in 60 Seconds film, but I'm definitely not interested in Jackie Chan stuff, so I didn't join them for this one. I'll call room service later to have food waiting for Chris when he gets home.

I stopped at the bar by the pools and ordered a glass of white zinfandel. The cm listed the 3 choices they carry, & I selected the Beringer because I know I like that one. The cm was really nice, and poured my wine into a plastic coke glass. He stopped half way, then gave me a look & grinned & filled it all the way up. Egads - I told him I'd be floating around the ship after drinking all that, and he reminded me that I was on vacation, lol! The glass of wine was only $4.25 plus tip, so I'd say I got a good value on this one! Actually, in my opinion all the drinks on the ship are very fairly priced - not expensive or outrageous at all. Specialty cocktails & frozen drinks are $4.50 (compare that to $5.95 at WDW) and the virgin versions are $3.50. Disney adds an automatic 15% gratuity, which is clearly shown on the receipt, and then there's a line for any additional gratuity and then the total. I normally tip $1 on a drink, so I've been adding in whatever amount is needed to bring the 15% up to $1. Otherwise, the tip would only be something like $.68 on a frozen drink, which seems kind of chintzy.

With my wine I went down to deck 4 (Promenade Deck) and walked around once or twice. I really missed the HAL promenade with the comfy deck chairs. It would have been so relaxing to sit there and enjoy the music & cruise atmosphere - sitting on the few benches Disney has scattered just wasn't enough to keep me there for very long.

Back in the cabin I updated the trip report and downloaded today's pictures. I don't expect to get the cruise pictures posted to photopoint until after I get home from WDW, so please don't waste your time checking before 8/12 or 8/13/00. As much as I'd like to get it done, I'm not going to spend 2-3 hours of my WDW time loading & labeling pictures when the Comedy Warehouse is right next door.

I called room service and ordered the All Hands on Deck (international cheeses & crackers) to have with my wine, and the chicken tenders and chocolate chip cookies for Chris to eat after his movie. Tomorrow we don't have to be up early, but I'll put in a wakeup call to prevent me from sleeping too late. Without a window, my body may not know when it's daytime!

The day went according to plan, and it was the best day of the cruise so far. Castaway Cay was wonderful, despite the crowds. Living on the Gulf of Mexico, where white sand beaches & palm trees are an everyday thing, I didn't expect Castaway Cay to be anything special, but we both really enjoyed today. I was glad when we finally set sail though - it's nice to be actually cruising again rather than just being on a parked cruise ship!

DAY 8 - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2000:

Plan: Day at Sea...cruising!

Actual: Mickey called at 8:30 this morning, but I'd gotten up a little before then. Sleeping has been great the entire cruise - with no noise at all (other than some ship vibrations). It helps that I have no cabin on 1 side of me, and I selected a deck sandwiched between 2 decks of cabins. I'd never cruise in a cabin underneath a disco! Next month I'll be directly underneath Lumiere's, which I'm hoping will be quiet since 2nd seating dinner ends around 10pm. After a quick shower I dragged Chris out of bed, figuring if I didn't he'd sleep half the day away and then not be able to sleep tonight. Tomorrow we have to be up & out very early.

We went to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast, and it wasn't bad. We got a table outside along the railing, and despite the hot weather it was very pleasant. We set up 2 lounge chairs in the same spot as the other day, and then it started to rain lightly. We went into the ESPN store to look at the tee shirts (got 1 for Chris for his birthday next month) and by the time we came out the rain cloud had passed. Chris went to the family pool and I went to find the walk a mile group on deck 4. Once there, we found part of the promenade was closed off, so the cm told everyone (it was a big group) to take the stairs up to deck 10. I didn't have a problem climbing 6 flights, but we lost a lot of the group to the elevators, lol! It's amazed me all trip that people will stand and wait for an elevator, even when they're going DOWN only 1 flight. Usually these people are young, and have no visible mobility problems....but I guess I shouldn't automatically assume they're incredibly lazy <g>. We had 1 guy doing the mile walk in an electric scooter - and with the deck change it was very difficult for him to maneuver his scooter with all the deck chairs out. Several people were pushing strollers, and 1 kid did the walk while riding on his dad's shoulders <g>. At the end of the walk we all got a pin - one I hadn't seen yet.

I went down to the 4th deck and looked in Shutters for the pictures taken last night. Darla & Rich/Deb were in there buying pictures, and commented that the pics of Chris & me had turned out nice. I ended up buying 1 of the 8x10's and got the folio with a picture of the Wonder to display them both together. It was almost $40, but it's a keepsake of Chris' "surprise" cruise. After putting the stuff in the cabin I returned to my lounge chair.

Darla came by to see if I was ready for a mudslide - sounds good to me. She went & got one in her ESPN mug, then poured 1/2 of it into my ESPN mug. It was delicious, just like yesterday! She was heading back to bring Steven chicken strips in their cabin. Today I didn't see any of our friends out in the sun...they must have gotten enough yesterday on Castaway Cay and were staying in the shade & wearing clothes rather than swimsuits today. For me, when I cruise I'm pretty much in a swimsuit all day long, and I enjoy being outside. On HAL cruises there are a lot more activities that are of interest to me, so I'm in and out more than I have been here. On DCL there's really not much for adults to do other than a wine tasting, bingo, and a belly flop contest. They did have a foot massage thing, a makeover seminar, a scrabble tournament, but not stuff that I was interested in. I drank a LOT of water today, trying to be more healthy. I'd get 2 glasses at a time from the restaurant, and drink them both - did this 2-3 times, plus had my bottled water. I got a slice of pizza at lunch time and later went in to the dessert bar and chose an apple rather than the cakes/pastries. I wasn't all good though, I did eat a jumbo chocolate chip cookie in the cabin. Chris had checked out Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch and came back declaring it "gross". It had an oriental theme, and he hates Chinese food. I went to take a look, and it didn't look bad - but I still stuck with my pizza. He ate some pizza and a couple of ice cream cones, then later I found him with chicken strips & french fries - so he wasn't going to starve.

The deck & pool areas were much busier than the other day, but it wasn't bad. Thankfully there were no smokers near me to ruin the day. The deck was very hot on bare feet, yet the other day I could walk without shoes. They had a band playing part of the day, and Goofy came out for a pool party at the family pool at 2pm. When he left Mickey & Minnie took over, then finally Chip & Dale. The kids were all enjoying themselves. Chris wandered around, played some basketball, and then went to the cabin & watched Aladdin. He commented that the ship is really geared towards little kids, and I tend to agree. With so many of the little rugrats on board Disney has to have a lot to keep them busy, so it's a very different experience than a HAL cruise. I'm not sure he'll want to do another DCL cruise...but time will tell.

Around 2:30 or so I'd had enough sun, so I returned to the cabin to start packing and take a shower. I watched the first half of General Hospital and then went to the 3:30 Sit to be Fit exercise class. I was disappointed that DCL only has a couple of fitness related things each day - I enjoy doing more of that stuff while cruising. This class was much easier than the one the other day, and there were only about 6 of us who showed up. When it was over I ran into Kathy and talked to her. We're going to try to get a group picture taken after dinner tonight.

I went back to the cabin to work on the trip report and do more packing, and Darla came over with her ESPN mug. She thought perhaps Sheila would like to use it on the cruise next month - what a thoughtful gesture! We sat around talking a while, and made sure we were in agreement that in the morning our priority would be to get off the ship right after breakfast so we could get to Old Key West!! Knowing we're going to OKWR makes it very easy to leave the ship...it would be really depressing to be going home, though.

Chris came back from playing basketball, and took his shower, then we dressed for dinner. Tonight we were back in Triton's again, and all 3 restaurants were serving the same menu - Disney's Master Chef Series. Your dress was determined by your dining location - in our case we were in the most formal place so most of us dressed up again. I'm not sure why they put the "family" people with kids in the rotation that ends up with 2 nights in the dressier place - you'd think they'd put the adults without kids there.

Dinner was outstanding!! Chris got the shrimp & lobster cocktail, and then the prime rib from Yachtsman Steakhouse. He ate every single morsel of his dinner - saying it was excellent. I started with the mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette & roasted walnuts from Narcoossee's at GF, and then the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Polenta from the California Grill at the Contemporary. The pork was supposed to come with balsamic smothered cremini mushrooms, but I had them leave that stuff in the kitchen! My dinner was also excellent, and I ate almost all of it.

Other appetizers were oven baked eggplant with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes from the Disney Magic, butternut squash soup from Wolfgang Puck Cafe, and Clear Oxtail Soup from the Magic. Other entrees were a pasta dish from Palo, roasted breast of chicken on braised vegetables and potato dumplings from the Magic, and panfried halibut with prosciutto on cheese grits and red eye gravy from Coral Reef at Epcot.

Tina & Sam had a cake for their anniversary, and so did Rick & Linda - but they couldn't figure out how the cruise line knew it had been their anniversary a couple of weeks ago. We ordered dessert - that menu was incredible tonight also! There was a tropical fruit napoleon with raspberry coulis from the Wonder - but none of us ordered that. Our server Richard recommended the cobbler, but he pronounced it like cobbiler, so at first we didn't know what he was saying...and then we teased him about his English (he's from England). Everybody except me got that - it was apple & cranberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream, from the Wonder. I was a total pig and got 2 desserts, because I couldn't decide, and ate them both! I got the chantilly koko puffs with chocolate sauce from the Kona Kafe at the Poly - and the warm chocolate and hazelut pudding with vanilla sauce from the GF. After reading about those koko puffs on the boards for so long, it was great to be able to try them! I expected it to be a tiny little creme puff, but it was quite large - and filled with delicious chocolate cream. The pudding was more like a warm brownie or truffle, as opposed to regular pudding, but it was very good. Chris also ordered both of these desserts in addition to the cobbler and the piece of Rick & Linda's anniversary cake!

The whole group posed for a picture by the Ariel statue outside of Triton's, and then I headed to the cabin to get changed before meeting everyone else at the show. Tonight's show was Disney Dreams, which is considered by most people to be the best of the 3. I figured it it's really good I won't mind seeing it twice in 6 weeks, and wanted to join the rest of the group anyway. We had good seats - all together, and it was a nice show. It's typical Disney stuff - Disney songs & stories. It's not sophisticated entertainment, but it was certainly appropriate to the audience. Just about all 954 seats were full. There wasn't supposed to be any flash pictures or video taping, out of respect for safety of the actors (it was announced before the show started), but many of the same rude people who take flash pictures on the darker rides were in the theater tonight. I really would not have minded if Disney would have stopped the show right then, brought up the house lights & made the announcement again (or remove someone), but of course they didn't.

After the show we went back to the cabin to finish packing the 2 suitcases that had to be put outside our door. It's so depressing to see all those suitcases lining the halls, since it means the cruise is just about over for everyone. We went up on deck and got a virgin frozen drink in the ESPN mug - a blue pina colada that was very good. We stopped by Shutters to see if the group picture was up, but it wasn't. Many of the other DVC friends were there doing the same thing! We were back in the cabin around 10:30 or so, kind of tired an dreading having to get up so early tomorrow morning. I put in a wakeup call for 5am - figuring if I'm ready early I can walk around up on deck a little bit. Chris called room service and ordered 3 of the chocolate cookies and some milk. We only ate about 1.5 of the cookies between both of us, but I wrapped them up in case he (or we) eat any tomorrow.

I finished today's report, got it ready for posting, and hopefully will be in bed around 11:30-12:00. It was a great day...very relaxing, and went as planned. My next cruise will start off with 2 days at sea before we stop at any ports...that will be wonderful - but I'll have to pace myself with the sun. After 3 days on this cruise I'm as dark as I care to be, so I'll need to spread that out over 6 days next time.

Breakfast tomorrow is at 6:45am, and we should be off the ship an hour later - on our way to WDW :-)

DAY 9 - THURSDAY, AUGUST 10, 2000:

Plan: Debark ship, Check in OKWR, Post cruise portion of trip report, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: Mickey called at 5am and after a shower I went up on deck to get some hot chocolate from the 24 hour coffee station. I was surprised to see we were already parked at the terminal. They were cleaning the ship to get ready for the next group of passengers, and there were quite a few other guests up wandering around for one last time. My express checkout was slipped under the door by about 5:30...and everything was in order. While I finished getting ready to leave the ship I watched ABC on tv - the early morning news in New York. It's been really neat to have an actual tv station in the cabin, and it was nice to catch part of my soap - that'll save me time watching the tape when I get home on Saturday.

I got Chris up about 6:15. The cm's here were telling us breakfast for 1st seating passengers used to be 6:15 on the day of debarkation...so we should feel grateful for the extra 1/2 hour! We left the cabin for the last time at about 6:40 and had our first sit-down breakfast of the cruise. We were in Triton's again - that makes 3 meals here, but since it is the nicest restaurant we didn't mind.

Everybody made it to breakfast except for Rich/Deb and Tina's families. We had our final nice meal, and said our goodbyes. I checked up at Shutters for the group photo taken last night, but didn't see it. With Darla & Steven we left the ship, found our luggage, and drove to WDW. We arrived at OKWR by 9, and Chris & I were on the bus to Epcot at 9:15. Unfortunately no studios were ready - but we didn't expect to get one this early.

I headed to Test Track for the single rider's line while Chris made a bathroom stop and then waited for me in the exit area where he can play with the interactive exhibits. Test Track had broken down though, and eventually asked all the guests waiting to leave. They were given passes so they could skip the line later - but the single rider line didn't get one. I walked around to the exit & found Chris, then we went to the Land.

We walked right on to Living with the Land, and enjoyed that ride. I was pretty tired, and Chris was too. We went to Fountainview and got a couple of iced cappuccino's - almond for him, hazelnut for me. The cm put a lot of syrup in them - they were very sweet, but they were good. Chris sucked his down in no time, and then went to Ice Station Cool. I took my time, and enjoyed relaxing in the shade while I drank. He came back with a big snowball he'd picked up - FL kids don't get to see snow!

By now it was after 11, so we headed to Norway and rode the Maelstrom 3 times. We took a hot walk around World Showcase, and then went to try Test Track again. It broke down again, but just briefly, so I got to ride this time. Afterwards, we decided to leave Epcot. As we neared the Coronado Springs bus stop their bus pulled up, so we decided to go to the Pepper Market for lunch. I called OKWR, but our studio wasn't ready yet, and no other ones were available. We shared the Market Nachos ($9.04 after 10% svc charge) and then took the bus to Downtown Disney.

It stopped at BW first, and a pair of identical twin women got on board. They come down and spend 12 days every year for their birthday - without husbands or kids. During these 12 days they dress in identical clothes & even identical jewelry & nail polish. They don't live in the same state, so this is just their time to act silly & have fun.

We got off at the Marketplace and went into some of the shops. At guest services I called OKWR again, and while our studio still wasn't ready, this time there was another one ready so I took it. We rode the Trumbo Ferry back to OKWR, and Chris retrieved the stuff we'd left with bell services while I went inside to get our keys recoded. I'd loaned something to Gail & Joel while I was on the cruise, and they'd left it for me at the front desk when they checked out this morning. They also left me 2 pieces of banana nut bread - THANK YOU, lol! That was so nice - and is the perfect gift for me <g>.

We went to our studio, and brought in the stuff we'd need for the next 2 nights. We're in the Old Turtle Pond area, building 40, top floor, non smoking, water view if you look around the corner. We've been in this building once before, in a 1br unit. It's close to the bus stop, and I like this area. After getting settled, I got online to post the cruise reports. Darla was online, and we IM'd to exchange room #'s. She'd gotten her studio at noon, and is right across the parking lot from us. A little later there was a knock on the door, so I told Chris to get up and go let Darla & Steven in, lol! I was looking at the titles of my mail & responding to 2 friends who'd IM'd, so it was hectic. They were headed to DisneyQuest, so Chris went with them. I stayed behind to get caught up on the downloading, and might stop by after Comedy Warehouse later. I ate one of the chocolate chip cookies from the cruise, and continued drinking water. I swear I saw the inside of every ladies' room in Epcot, Coronado, and the Marketplace, lol - no wonder I never drank much water before! The spa person said my body would eventually adjust though...in a month or 2 (if I survive).

I barely made a dent in my mail and before I knew it was 6:30 - time to get ready to head to Comedy Warehouse!! Linda (elfriar) may be stopping by there at 7 to pick up the pins I'd gotten for her on the Wonder. When I went outside I saw that it had rained, but it was over now and it didn't rain again all night. I drove to PI and sure enough Linda came by shortly before 7 to collect her pins. While we were talking I saw Mary (actor at Comedy Warehouse) & her husband walking by, so we said hi. She's not working tonight, but must have been inside because she told me Layden would be in show 2 - without my asking. Linda wasn't able to stay for any shows tonight, so after telling me what other cruise ship exclusive pins she was interested in on my next cruise, she headed home.

Now since I wasn't going to see show 1 I had time to do a couple of things. I left PI and walked down to DisneyQuest. I didn't see Chris or Darla & Steven, so I stopped to play Qbert before leaving. Darla found me there, and the boys had just gone to wait for the air hockey table around the corner. They'd already eaten and I must have just missed them when I was looking for them. We chatted for a while, and then I left to get back to PI. Now I went to the Jazz Club to find Nancy on her break to tell her how Chris' surprise went. I picked up my Bye Bye Blues at the bar outside the Comedy Warehouse because I didn't know if I'd be staying beyond the 2nd show (still tired) and would need enough time to drink it. The bartender I knew was a new person, and she said No when I asked her if she knew how to make it. However, I just showed her the recipe and she did just fine.

I left Nancy to go get in line at Comedy Warehouse, and although I was further back than I'd like, because I was a party of 1 I got the last seat in my favorite row near the front. The actors came out...and no Layden. A very pleasant surprise was having Peter back from Los Angeles (most likely for a short visit, but I didn't find out how long). He's one of the Peter/Paul identical twins - the heavy set guys with dark hair, who are both absolutely hysterical! I was so sorry to see them leave last year! There was a new guy - I think his name was Brian, a tall skinny guy who was pretty funny. Rounding out the cast for this show were the 2 Jennifers and Philip. So, it was a great cast, but the show was just ok. Supposedly Layden will be in shows 4 & 5 - ordinarily I wouldn't stick around, but since I canceled next week's portion of the trip tonight would be the only night to see him work.

When show 2 ended the entire chained queue area was filled in, so I definitely wasn't going to be seeing show 3! I'd grabbed a granola bar from the room when I left this afternoon, so sat down and ate it now since I was getting hungry. I listened to a new band - Joe Trippi and the Fantasy, who were doing a pretty good job playing on the West Side Stage. I did some shopping too, and wandered around some until I got in line for show 4 about 10:10 or so.

I met a really nice couple in line - Loretta & Richard from Panama City Beach, FL. They're cruising this November on the same HAL ship (Ryndam) and itinerary we did last November - so we had lots to talk about! We were seated in the front row of bar stools, but over on the right side. This show we saw Peter again, Jake, Krista, Layden, and the thinner Jen. It had some funny moments, but it wasn't really that great. When Layden first came out on stage he got a big reaction (shouting, whistling) from a section of the audience. Tonight's cast night, so it's mostly cm's in the audience, and it's not unusual for big groups of them to cheer for their favorite actor - I've seen it happen to thinner Jen, and quite often for the keyboard player Carol Stine. I think a lot of the time it's groups of their friends that are making the noise.

When the show was over, I headed out. Layden saw me & said hi as he was heading to talk to some of his friends who were just a couple of people behind me. I wasn't sticking around for show 5 - it was already 11:30 and that's later than I'd planned to be up. I had to walk the long way around because they close the PI exit near Comedy Warehouse at 11:30 until the fireworks are over with at midnight, but I got back to OKWR (in my car) before midnight.

Chris was in bed watching tv. They'd left DQ about 7 or so, and then went swimming for a while at OKWR. We did everything on the plan today - and despite being very tired we had a good time. It's rough coming off a cruise ship and going to WDW on the same day - but it's better than NOT going to WDW, lol! It feels wonderful to be back "home" at OKWR...I can't express what a great feeling it is simply driving onto the property, knowing I'm staying here again.

Since it's so late, I decided to not get online to post this report right away - I know I'd end up staying online for 2-3 hours and want to get up fairly early in the morning. It'll be posted before we head out for a park in the morning. Total miles walked: 10.0

DAY 10 - FRIDAY, AUGUST 11, 2000:

Plan: Magic Kingdom, other park, possibly Comedy Warehouse or DQ

Actual: I got up at 7, but didn't get Chris up until 8. After a shower, I had cappuccino and banana nut bread (thanks again, Gail & Joel) along with a 20 oz bottle of water while checking mail & posting yesterday's report. Chris ate a package of pop tarts. There are a few minor things wrong in my studio. The throw pillows that belong on the beds are missing. The refrigerator was turned off, and I didn't realize it until I reached in this morning for cold water & it was still room temperature! There are tiny little ants or fleas (non-biting) that I've seen scurrying across the night stand. Also, there's no pen or message pad by the phone. The bathroom had 2 bars of facial soap, but no bath soap. It's all picky little stuff, but it's the details that Disney is supposed to do so well!

We left the room about 8:35 and must have just missed the MK bus because all the others came pretty quickly. We arrived MK about 9:15. We stopped at Buzz Lightyear to get fast passes, and then did the same at Space Mountain. We had about 15 minutes before it was time for Space Mountain, so we were going to ride Pooh before the line got too long but instead rode that stupid Gran Prix Raceway with about a 15 minute wait. This is not my favorite attraction - the line was in the hot sun, and I hate the smell from the cars' engines. Oh well, at least it's not a long ride.

After this we headed to Space Mountain, and to my total amazement Chris decided to ride. I'd been trying to talk him into it for days, pointing out that the biggest drop isn't any bigger than the one on the Maelstrom, which he loves. I never actually expected him to ride though, and even when we were in the boarding area I expected him to bail out. I think he needed to prove to himself that he could do it, and I'm glad he was able to do it before he was 40 years old...unlike his mother! I talked him through what to expect, and told him to remember to breathe on the drops. We were seated in seats 1 & 2 (I took the front seat - he didn't want it), and it was hysterical. He was back there breathing like a woman in labor - Lamaze type stuff, lol! He kept saying he was going to be sick - but it was just his nerves. He actually admitted it wasn't that bad, and kind of cool. He didn't want to go on again today, but said he might do it another day.

Next we rode Buzz Lightyear, and I got a pitiful score under 20,000. I hate this ride anyway - I'm not interested in shooting targets with that gun, and when you ride with a teen who's constantly turning the vehicle so he can get a better aim, there's not much point in worrying about my score! We got on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and as we returned to the station we saw that Darla & Steven were on the ride & were just starting out of the station. I headed back to Space Mountain for 1 more ride, and Chris waited to talk to them when they got off TTA. He met me at the Space Mountain exit, and we decided we were done with the MK.

On the way out we stopped in the candy store. He got a push pop (a lollipop thing that you push up out of the tube, using your finger) and we shared one of the little truffles. We were planning to head to DisneyQuest, and figured the fastest way would be to take the bus there from 1 of the monorail resorts. Rather than ride the slow resorts monorail, and in order to catch the bus at it's last stop before heading to Downtown Disney, we took the waiting boat directly to the Grand Floridian. It looks like they've got the main building pretty much closed (the guest rooms part) for refurbishing, with scaffolding all over the place. This would not be the ideal time to stay at this resort. I didn't even take a picture, due to the scaffolding.

We went to the GF bus stop & after sitting there a while it dawned on me that their bus to DD might not start until 4pm, so I went inside to check - and I was right. I should have known better, but it really ticked me off that the supposed "flagship resort" of WDW doesn't even give their guests direct service to DD during the day. They have to ride the monorail over to that scummy disgusting Ticket & Transportation Center so they can stand in the hot sun and wait with the hordes of people coming in from off-site to catch a crowded bus to DD. Hmmmm - even the All Stars & moderates treat their guests better than that! I was not at all happy to see our day slipping away with all this wasted travel time. We decided to skip Downtown Disney and just go back to OKWR. We waited (and waited, and waited...) for the resort monorail to arrive, and got standing room for the short ride to MK. A filled to capacity monorail from TTC arrived as we did, so it was a zoo heading down the monorail ramp (at 11:45 am). We saw the ferry from TTC arriving - also filled shoulder to shoulder with people, so we walked quickly to get past that area before they let down the ramp & the cattle (oops - I mean guests) began moving as a herd towards the turnstiles. I can't imagine arriving at this particular park at this time of day, even during slow season - never mind during summer vacation!

At the OKWR bus stop a bus came in about 5-10 minutes & immediately took us and 1 other lady to the resort. We went up to Olivia's to have a nice leisurely lunch, figuring it would be empty in there. Well, for the 2nd time today I was very wrong. The place was almost full....and rather noisy. I'd say well less than 1/2 the guests were vacationers. Most of them appeared to be cast members or other business people on their lunch hour. The men were in shirt & tie, and the women were in business attire. I'm not one of those people who whine that their vacation was ruined because they ate a meal next to someone in business attire while at WDW, lol - I just thought it was curious that this particular restaurant was such a hot spot for lunch. Actually, I found the business people much more pleasant to look at than several of the tourists <g>.

Since we've got the refrigerator, leftovers are not a problem - so we each ordered a lunch and then used our annual passes to get free desserts. My DDE card is also good here, so we got 20% off the food we had to pay for. I got the mixed greens salad with chicken breast, and Chris got the bbq pork sandwich with fries. My salad was excellent, and I brought 1/2 of it back for dinner. Chris' sandwich was just ok - the bbq sauce was sort of sweet, but not really that great. He ate all his french fries, and enough of the sandwich that he was full - we threw the rest away. For our desserts we both chose the chocolate chip pecan pie, which comes out warm & is really good. We took most of both pieces of that home as well, but since it was free we didn't want to pass it up. Service wasn't very good - our server didn't pay us much attention, and when she brought our food out she set the tray up next to our table, and left the food there while running off to 2 other tables to bring a bill or other things that could have waited. My salad wasn't going to be affected, but I didn't want' Chris' food getting cold while she was flitting off elsewhere. Then, I had to ask her to show us the dessert tray....and then that took her forever to do. The total check after the DDE card was just under $14 - but with the free stuff & discount added back in it would have been $27, so that's what I based the tip on.

We went to Hank's next, to see about renting Chris one of those Hydro Bikes. That's a bicycle that sits on a couple of pontoons, so you ride it on the water. Minimum age to ride is 12, but someone 18 or older has to sign the release. As we were standing at Hank's window being ignored (must have been an "invisible" pill slipped in my water or something) it started thundering & got real windy. The cm in there on the phone told 1 of the other cm's that he was closing the pool, so I knew right then they were shutting the marina until the storm passed. CM Mary Ann helped us, and confirmed they weren't renting now, but I told her I'd like to do the release paperwork so Chris could get a hydro bike later without me having to make the trip back here - and she was ok with that.

We walked to Peninsular Rd bus stop and waited (and waited and waited...again) for ANY bus to arrive, so we could get back to Turtle Pond without walking in the rain. Of course, 2 came right together, so we got on the first one & rode to our stop & went back to the room. It was about 2pm - time for a break, and from 3-4 it's General Hospital time <g>. The sun came back out, so we headed to Hank's again just before 3pm. After parking and walking over there we were told they were only renting the motorized boats right now...that due to lightning somewhere they'll only rent the boats with motors because if a storm comes those boats would be able to make it back in faster. Chris was disappointed, and unfortunately chose to express that by grunting "just gimme the money" to me - meaning I should give him the money for the rental & he'd wait there for the ban to be lifted. However, I don't respond well to be grunted at, and didn't appreciate the disrepectful tone, so he didn't get any money. I told him we'd try later, and that I was going back to the studio - he was free to hang around there or come back...and I left him standing there and drove back without him. He came back shortly, in a better mood.

After General Hospital it was still sunny, and he wanted to try again, so I suggested he call Hank's first so we didn't waste a trip. Good news - they are, so we headed back there again. We took the car - having had quite enough of Disney transportation today! Chris got his hydro bike, and took off down the Trumbo Canal. I got a Turtle Krawl (drink) from the Gurgling Suitcase ($5.05 plus tip after DDE discount) and sat in a rocking chair in the shade. The Sunset Celebration started at 5, and I went over to see what was going on. They had a guy playing songs from tv shows, and whoever guessed the show first got a token. They had old shows, new shows, kids shows, and mostly ABC shows, lol! Chris came back during the game, and joined in as well. We ended up getting 11 tokens, which he traded for a keyring with a little skateboard attached.

We didn't stick around for the rest of the party - it was after 5:30 and I wanted to do a couple of things and then be back in the room early tonight to get online. We took the Trumbo Ferry to the Marketplace, and the took the boat to the West Side. We got to DisneyQuest about 6:45, and it wasn't as crowded as I'd thought it would be. We went straight to Cyber Space Mountain, which we got on within 10 minutes. We both created a level 4 coaster - mine had 3 inversions and Chris had 4. The 2 little kids riding in our pod after us had 10 inversions, lol! I took Chris upstairs to get him dinner - kids' pasta with marinara sauce and an order of garlic rolls with marinara sauce ($6.64 after DVC discount). The garlic rolls were delicious! There wasn't anything else Chris wanted to do at DQ, so when he was almost done eating I went down to play a game of Qbert before we'd leave.

Chris & I walked over to the Marketplace and looked in some of the stores, but didn't buy anything. We took the Trumbo Ferry back to OKWR - it was a beautiful ride, just after sunset, and with a nice cool breeze. I'd left my car at the main building, so we drove back to our studio. I had messages from Darla and also Kathy (kpuls).

Darla had come home to her studio and found a plate with a dozen huge chocolate cookies on it. She was begging me to come take some, as she's leaving in the morning and could not take them home on the plane. Kathy called because she'd gotten the group photo we had done on the ship. We went across the parking lot to Darla's and took some of the cookies to bring home. She & I walked over to Kathy's studio in building 19 to see the photo. We both took pictures of it with our digital cameras, but mine didn't come out well. She's got a much better camera, so hopefully she'll have better luck. We stayed & talked to Kathy & her family for a while - they're so nice & friendly, and we only met last Sunday! Finally, we walked back to our part of OKWR and went to see Chris & Steven at the Turtle Pond pool. By now it was 10pm - so much for getting home early, lol! We gave them another 30 minutes to swim, and then we each returned to our studio. I ate the rest of the salad, finished up the report, and then will finally get online! There's not too much packing to do, since we were only here 2 nights. Chris got back from the pool about 10:40, got changed, and went back to throw his swimsuit in the dryer for a little bit. He'll be back shortly, and will eat some chocolate chip cookies before going to bed.

The day went pretty much according to plan. I didn't bother with Comedy Warehouse, since it's so crowded there on weekends. We had a great day, but it seemed to go by so quickly, and it doesn't seem like we did very much.

Total miles walked: 8.94

DAY 11 - SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2000:

Plan: AK, drive home

Actual: Well, like an idiot last night when I set the alarm I didn't notice it was on "pm" - so of course it didn't go off this morning, lol! I woke up around 7:30 though, so it wasn't too bad. We were headed to AK but I hadn't intended to be there at opening since we would be there for lunch and don't really have 4 hours worth of stuff there to keep us busy.

I showered and made some cappuccino, but left the banana nut bread to take home. I'd brought some breakfast bar things from home, so I threw one in my backpack for later. I got Chris up at 8, and made him some cappuccino after his shower. He had a package of pop tarts for breakfast again, and we loaded up the car and were on our way to the main building by 8:30. He dropped the laptop & camcorder off with bell services while I parked the car, and our empty AK bus arrived in less than 5 minutes. We had to stop at Blizzard Beach, but still arrived at AK by 9am.

We went first to Dinosaur, and it was a complete walk-on (as expected). The ride seemed slower than usual, but maybe I was just imagining it. The little kids in the row behind me didn't think it was too slow - they were pretty scared and were in a state of panic that their parents would want them to ride it again.

Our next stop was Asia, so Chris could ride Kali River Rapids repeatedly. He wore his swimsuit today and we carried a change of clothes in a plastic bag. We thought he'd need fast passes here, but it was so uncrowded he was able to ride 7 times in about an hour! He never got to just stay on the raft, but most of the time he was able to get back in line without going all the way out the exit - since there weren't other guests in the line that far back. He was soaked, of course, and had fun.

While he was on Kali I sat on a bench for a while & watched the monkeys while eating the breakfast bar. I also went to Harambe & got us fast passes for Kilamanjaro Safari (10:40-11:40) and then returned to Asia and went to see the tigers on the Maharajeh Jungle Trek. They were out, but were sleeping. Some teenager in there was telling his friends that the tigers were all tame, and the keepers "play" with them & stuff - which is "the problem" with them being here. Not sure where he gets this stuff from.

When Chris was done with Kali it was about 11:15 so we headed to the Safari. As we were walking down the fast pass lane, a family of about 6 people cut under the rope from the standby side. I figured no big deal - when they get to the loading area the cm will see that they don't have a fast pass & they'll be sent back. I was shocked though to see the cm let them go thru, and even let us thru without asking for our fast passes. I stepped back to give her ours, and asked her directly "why did you let that family thru on the fast pass line when they don't have fast passes?" She replied to the effect of "they don't??". I asked her if they'd shown her any fast passes, and she said no. I told her they cut under the rope to get in this line. She asked how far back were they, and I told her. She yelled over to the next cm handle it, and he questioned the family. They told the cm that another cm had told them it was ok to use either line (yeah, right - and you decide to change lines during the last 1/4 of the wait). He explained that they can't use the fast pass lane without a fast pass (next time), but then let them stay there & board the ride. From where they were they only probably cut about 5 minutes off their wait, so it wasn't a big deal - but at the risk of appearing "snooty" I did want to know why the cm's weren't enforcing the fast pass program. It defeats the whole purpose if line cutters are allowed to use that lane without having gotten the pass.

Anyway, the safari was very good - but the driver skipped some of the lines. I guess he must get bored doing the same spiel all day long. We saw quite a few animals, but not as many as we typically see earlier in the day, or around dusk. By now we were hungry, so we headed out of the park & into the Rainforest Cafe - just as it was starting to rain. I showed the Safari Club card and we were sent to be seated right away. People without a Safari Club card only had a short wait - it wasn't really busy today. We were seated at a table right where the servers bring the drinks out from, so it was pretty noisy & busy, but since we'd been there before it didn't bother us. We'll be back again, too, so we can "miss" some of the sights and not feel slighted.

Chris got the Planet Earth Pasta (penne pasta with Italian sausage & tomato sauce) and a coke. I asked if I could get the appetizer sized Junior Islander Caesar Salad and have chicken added to it, and the waitress said I could. My salad was $4.25 and the extra charge for a VERY large portion of chicken was only $2! Chris must have been hungry, because he polished off his meal and then finished my salad! Neither one of us had room for dessert, but some day we just might have to try the Volcano (a huge brownie sundae thing that costs about $11 or $12) when we've got friends with us. I had a $10 award certificate from the Safari Club, so after that discount the check was only $11.45.

When we left it was pouring outside, just like last month when we had lunch here. It was about 12:45 and I wanted to get the 1pm bus back to OKWR, so we headed for the bus stop. The bus came about 12:55 and most of the seats got filled up with people leaving AK. We stopped at Blizzard Beach again, and were back at OKWR about 1:15. We got off at Peninsular Road and walked over to the main building. Chris wanted some candy for the trip home, and there really wasn't anything in the general store, so we picked up our laptop & camcorder and drove over to the Marketplace.

Parking was tough, which is no surprise considering it's Saturday afternoon! We went to the Gourmet Pantry and got a package of that rock candy stuff on sticks, and a chocolate covered pretzel that we ate on the way to the car. Chris also used his money to buy a box of Nerds. We were on the road by 2, back home just after 5. There was heavy rain from before Tampa until we were less than an hour from home, so that slowed us down a little bit.

The day went exactly according to plan, and was a nice ending to the trip. I'm exhausted though, so the final thoughts & posting of the pictures will have to wait for another day. I'll try to get it done Sunday 8/13. Total miles walked: No pedometer today

SUMMARY:

It was a great vacation, and even though I canceled the last 6 nights in order to have time to do the cruise next month, it still felt long enough. It was kind of strange starting out as a 3 night business trip, but that was sort of like vacation too (except for the boring hours in a meeting).

The weather was very hot, as should be expected in the summer, and the afternoon/early evening rain gets tiresome. When Chris is grown up and gone, it's not likely I'll be spending much time at WDW during June/July/August - it's just not worth it to me.

The cruise was wonderful, and cruising with the group of our DVC friends played a MAJOR role in making it so wonderful. The Wonder is a great ship, and we would have enjoyed ourselves even if we were cruising alone, but constantly running into different friends and joining them for meals or other activities is what made the difference between a good time and a great time! There was no pressure to hang together as a group - everyone did what they wanted with their families, yet we all drifted together at times...it was a lot of fun, and I'm sure I'll miss that on the next cruise.

As for the HAL vs DCL comparison, it's my opinion (take it for what it's worth - it's not intended to be the ONLY point of view) is HAL does a better job overall on the type of cruise experience I prefer. However, if you're a family who wants to take your young kids on a cruise - you're better off cruising with DCL rather than HAL if your kids are really young. Once they get to school age & older, HAL does a great job during school vacation periods - but DCL's kids program is probably the best in the industry. The overall feeling of elegance is much higher on HAL - due to fewer kids running around everywhere, people "dressing" for dinner & staying dressed all evening, and many other subtle touches. DCL is more "family friendly" though - many of the people I've talked to who like HAL sort of shudder at the idea of several hundred (or more) kids on a cruise ship <g>. Bottom line, they're both terrific cruise lines, but would appeal to a different market. The key is to know yourself and select a cruise that will match your interests & preferences.

We enjoyed All Star Movies, but didn't appreciate sharing buses with the other 2 resorts. We were much happier to return to Old Key West. Spending time with friends during the WDW portion of the trip was a lot of fun, also. The new annual pass available at DisneyQuest is a terrific value for us. We've already gotten more than our money's worth out of it, and we've got several trips planned before it expires! I hope it doesn't lead to unmanageable crowds, or problems with local teens hanging around, but we'll see. If they cancel it in the future, at least we'll have had a great year with it!

My next trip may be a short visit to WDW in mid September (might have a meeting there on the 11th & 12th, so I'd go up the Saturday before), and then on 9/23 I'm doing the 7 night Magic cruise with Sheila. She & her son have traveled with us before, and since Chris will be in school and there was no way I'd pull him out for a week for a vacation, I invited Sheila. Our interests are similar enough that we'll get along great, but we're also independent enough to go off and do something without expecting the other one to tag along. Chris' next trip won't be until his Winter school vacation. It's tough being a kid <g>!

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

  • I won't waste time dwelling on any of the minor little annoyances we may have encountered. There wasn't anything specific to WDW or DCL that merits being listed as a "disappointment".

MAGICAL MOMENTS:

  • Our DisneyQuest day with Gail's (jdocter7) family was our best day at WDW! I couldn't believe how much fun we had in there, doing the different attractions as a group. I amazed myself by going on Cyber Space Mountain, and just about fell to the floor when Chris tried it! Now we're both doing inversions on the thing - and loving it!
  • Chris finally riding Space Mountain - this was a big step for him, and he's decided it's a "cool ride" rather than something to be avoided now. The down side is I'll no longer be able to use his fast pass & ride twice <g>!
  • The Comedy Warehouse cast allowing people to stay inside to wait for the next show during that rainstorm was really nice - and Carol Stine entertaining between shows was an added treat. They could have just sent us out into the storm, but they didn't.
  • Chris' excitement when he finally realized we were going on the cruise was priceless! The cast members did a great job of helping with the surprise, and it was a lot of fun. He won't forget this trip!

Thanks for reading, and until next time - Sue Holland

Sue Holland

wdw1972@aol.com


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