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Sue Holland -- October 2001 -- Walt Disney World (WL/OKWR/Offsite) / Disney Cruise Trip


Note:  As Sue spent a great deal of time at Pleasure Island and in other adult venues,
on this trip, this report has some information that may not be appropriate for young readers.

Cast of Characters:

  • Sue - me, 42 (turning 43), DVC member

Guest Stars:

  • Kathy (dznynut), DVC member, gorilla lover
  • Darla (iluvdvc), high-kicking DVC warrior woman (hiya hiya hiya)
  • Chris & Mom (dsnymom), DVC member
  • Adie & Lisa, DVC members, Comedy Warehouse fans
  • Sheila - 42, joining me for the cruise
  • Nancy - cm at PI
  • Leesa - Comedy Warehouse regular, computer expert
  • Kim - Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Ft Pierce Family - Dan, Sue & Kelly - Comedy Warehouse fans
  • Maria - stalking from a distance with her hunky hubby John

Dates: October 26 - November 10, 2001

Travel Method: Personal car & cruise ship

Resort(s): Hampton Inn Lake Buena Vista (1nt), Wilderness Lodge (1nt), Old Key West (5nts), Radisson Resort at the Port (1nt), Disney Magic (7nts)

Introduction:

This trip started out as a 2-week trip to WDW to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival, the gorgeous fall weather, and many nights at the Comedy Warehouse. Several things happened to change that plan (as is typical with me, it seems). First, in February my favorite Comedy Warehouse actor was dropped from the cast - a major blow for him and his many fans (thankfully he is very happy in his current role, and hopefully will survive the latest cuts). I toyed with the idea of shortening the trip (thoroughly ticked off at Comedy Warehouse entertainment management) and soon DVC announced a *sale* on the cruise for DVC members again this fall. While the deal was not as good as last year, it was good enough to make me call Sheila and see if she was interested in cruising again. Now, I try to not have any friends who are stupid, so it was no surprise when Sheila responded with a YES!! I called DVC to drop the 2nd week of my OKW reservation and booked a verandah stateroom for the cruise. Boy, if Larry in Scotland thought I was the "DVC Elite" before, he will be really impressed now that I am becoming the "Hoity Toity DVC Elite" (the hoity toity I learned from fellow DVC cruisers Rich/Deb and Darla).

Ok, so now I had 7 nights at OKW and 7 nights on the cruise. How did that change to a never-ending series of one-night stands culminating in a cruise? LOL, I'll explain - for those with nothing more interesting to do with their time <g>. Actually, I think it started as 6 nights at OKW - but then Chris wrote to see if I could come up a day earlier and meet her for the first time. She & Darla were planning a Food & Wine weekend, so I decided to book that first Saturday night (27th) at OKW. She's always struck me as a really fun person - in a funny, tasteless & perverted way <g>....and she assures me her mom is just as much fun, so I could not pass up the chance to meet them! Besides, Darla and I like to get together and compare DVC contracts (she's ahead of me) <g>.

Next, Kathy got back into circulation after taking care of some mobility issues, and we started planning some trips. It turns out she had booked OKW starting Sunday (28th) and was thinking of coming up on the 27th, so I offered to stay with her that Saturday in a non-DVC resort. We were originally booked into All Star something-or-other (the motivation was clear - keep it CHEAP, lol), but after the nightmares there in late September, we rebooked ourselves into the Wilderness Lodge. Cheap is good, but not when the cost is a frustrating vacation! Even though we would only be there 1 night, and really only to sleep, it was worth it to move to someplace decent! The WL works out fine for me - I have never stayed there and although I'm booked into the Villas at WL for Thanksgiving, I figured I would never stay at the original resort. Neither location is convenient - AS vs. WL, but at least we will be in more pleasant surroundings and not be subjected to 6,000 rooms of guests entering through a single security gate!

The night before the cruise Sheila & I decided to stay at the Radisson near the cruise terminal. I had read good things about this place, and except for giving up a night at the Comedy Warehouse, it sounded nice to be able to wake up and see the ship - then leisurely make our way to board without having the boring drive from WDW. We got a rate we were happy with - I think $129 plus tax for a 1-bedroom suite. The bedroom has 2 king beds, so it must be pretty big, and we get to leave both cars in the Radisson parking lot rather than paying $56 each at the cruise parking lot. Oh yes, I saved those Friday night DVC points as well!

Finally, about a week or so ago I decided to add Friday night (26th). I was going to be at Leesa's house that night, to drop off my computer, but we ended up doing the computer stuff the weekend of 10/12 & 10/13. It worked to our advantage, as we went to Comedy Warehouse that Friday night and got to spend time with Larry & Jill from Scotland, my friends Tom & Leanne, and we even got Nancy out from the kitchen for a while! Leesa is out of town this weekend, but said I could still use her place to stay. I appreciate her offer, but decided to pay for a room closer to WDW....preferably close to Comedy Warehouse! A month ago my first instinct would have been to call CRO and check on a $49 rate at All Stars, since I'd be arriving after work and would only be in the room a few hours to sleep. However, there was NO WAY I was staying there again, especially arriving late on a Friday!! No thank you <g>. I had stayed at a new Hampton Inn in Lake Buena Vista a couple of years ago on business, and it was very nice - and just behind Crossroads. I checked their website and saw a $44.10 rate with free local calls (good for internet access), free continental breakfast, and a fridge/coffee maker. Bingo - I booked it online that night. Later, I decided to just take that day off from work (need to use some vacation time to reduce what I will lose this year) but I still prefer the Hampton Inn rather than All Stars at this point.

While the moving around might be a pain, it probably won't be as big of a pain as figuring out how to pack for this epic adventure has been <g>! This time of year it can be cool at night, so just a WDW trip alone would require more clothing than usual. Add the cruise, and I need a whole different type of clothing for nights (both Sheila and I do not subscribe to the "casual is better" mentality and will dress up every night....formal wear on formal nights, but "dressy" on the others. We also do not change into our grungy clothes after dinner, like so many do <g>. Actually, for the cruise I think we wear swimsuits and evening clothes - along with just a few outfits for day. I'll be planning what goes into what suitcase, and will leave some stuff behind when we get on the ship - no point bringing along jeans & stuff, when they will not be worn on the ship.

All the recently announced cutbacks and closures in WDW is somewhat concerning. I fear bigger than normal crowds with fewer places for people to spread out to. Last year I felt World Showcase was too crowded in the afternoon & evening, and with Future World closing at 7 it will probably be even worse this year. However, I will be at Comedy Warehouse, so except for Saturday it will not matter for me. I never bothered with the shows and other stuff that was cut, but I wonder if that will make other areas seem busier - I guess time will tell.

Some highlights of the trip include seeing a wide variety of friends this time. It goes without saying - having Kathy there at the same time is a major plus :-) I'm looking forward to seeing Darla again (I think last time was our week in Hilton Head in April) and also meeting Chris & her mom! Adie & Lisa are people I've met before and liked instantly (despite that crack habit Adie is rumored to have <g>) and since they've become big Comedy Warehouse fans we will be meeting there to see some shows on the night they arrive (which happens to be my last night). I got an email from the Ft Pierce family, mentioned in several previous trip reports, wondering if I would be at PI on Halloween. I think the last time I saw them was last Halloween - they have not been up much this year at all. Sadly, Nancy is working a strange schedule and then going out of town during my trip, so I'll only get to see her briefly. Leesa is also out of town for part of my trip, but should be around after the weekend. Kim should pop up at Comedy Warehouse some night, but her last email did not specify which one. Kathy & I are going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on Sunday night. This will be the first time for both of us - it was not something I had thought about originally, but given all the cuts lately who knows if they will be having it next year! Also, if crowds are down this could be the best year to do it - at least that's what we both were thinking.

Lastly, this happens to be a particularly bad time for me to be away from work, unfortunately. I work for the State of Florida, which is having a major financial crisis right now (please take your trips here - we need your tax dollars!!) and the Legislature is in the middle of a special session called to balance the budget (translation = cut the hell out of the budget). Since I'm the finance & accounting director at my location, they are very concerned about me being gone - and if there had been any way to predict the sucky economy, terrorist attacks, etc 11 months ago when I booked this trip I would have selected different dates. There was no way to know, however, so I will stay in touch with the office via cell phone and email in order to minimize my absence and my fellow administrators' risk of a heart attack. Thank goodness I have good people working for me, or else I probably would not be writing this report!

Whew - If you are still with me, I admire your fortitude <g>. It's almost finished for now - just the plans left to write <g>.

The plans so far:

  • Fri 10/26 - Check In Hampton Inn, meet Darla at BW, meet Chris/mom, Comedy Warehouse
  • Sat 10/27 - Meet Kathy @ WL, Join Darla/Chris/Mom for Food & Wine stuff
  • Sun 10/28 - MousePlanet work, Move to OKW, some parks, Halloween party at MK w/Kathy
  • Mon 10/29 - Park(s), Comedy Warehouse
  • Tue 10/30 - Park(s), Comedy Warehouse
  • Wed 10/31 -Park(s), Comedy Warehouse
  • Thu 11/01 - Park(s), Laundry, Comedy Warehouse w/Adie & Lisa
  • Fri 11/02 - Meet Sheila at Epcot, Food & Wine, drive to Radisson
  • Sat 11/03 - CRUISE!!!
  • Sun 11/04 - Birthday, Day at Sea, Formal Night
  • Mon 11/05 - Day at Sea, maybe Palo's for dinner
  • Tue 11/06 - St Maarten, Tropical Night
  • Wed 11/07 - St Thomas/St John (Eco-Hike)
  • Thu 11/08 - Day at Sea, 2nd Formal Night (Master Chefs Series dinner)
  • Fri 11/09 - Castaway Cay
  • Sat 11/10 - Leave ship, final day at WDW

Day 1 - Friday, October 26th 2001

Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member

Darla, Chris & Mom, Nancy

Where: Hampton Inn Lake Buena Vista

Plan: Check In Hampton Inn, meet Darla at BW, meet Chris/mom, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I left the house at 7:20 and drove through some rain. A cold front was passing through, so although it was very warm at home, when I stopped for gas in Lakeland I immediately broke out in goose bumps from head to toe! YIKES - it was freezing, and windy up here! I quickly ran to the trunk and grabbed a light jacket out of my suitcase, pumped my gas and then sat in the warm car to check in at work. After the call I continued driving and went to the Premium Outlets to check out the Character Premiere store. They had a bunch of good stuff, and I had hoped to find things to finish up my Christmas shopping, but did not see anything for anyone except me (for a change). I got a gray t-shirt with producer Mickey embroidered on the front from MGM for 1/2 price. I also bought a really pretty sweatshirt from Disney's California Adventure ($59 down to $19.99). Normally I would not buy something from somewhere I had not been, but it was so soft and warm feeling I figured it might come in handy today! Besides, I will bring it when I do take my next trip to Disneyland!

Character Premiere was the only store I was interested in, so I drove to the Hampton Inn Lake Buena Vista to check in. The hotel is located behind Crossroads, and was great on my previous visit (a business trip). My room was not ready, but the clerk offered me one that was ready now. Accepting it meant I gave up my microwave & refrigerator, but I really do not need them anyway - especially for 1 night! I moved a small amount of my stuff into the room and got online to check my mail before heading to WDW.

I drove to the Boardwalk, and was not asked for any sort of id at the security gate. Honestly, showing id does absolutely nothing except slow things down <g>...if I wanted to commit some horrific act of terror, showing my id would not scare me away. I told the guard I was checking in, which is not a complete lie - Darla has me registered in her room, even though I will not be sleeping there. I used the side entrance and cut through the BW to get to the path to MGM. They have scaffolding up around the rooms facing the quiet pool, and more scaffolding on the rooms facing the front entrance on the Inn side. At MGM the guard barely glanced at my backpack and did not look in my camera bag at all. As I moved forward to the turnstiles, a foreign-speaking woman cut in front of me, skipping the security guy. She had a large backpack on her back, and a young girl with her - but the security cm did not say anything to her. The turnstile pass reader was not working very well - each of the 3 people ahead of me had trouble, as did everyone at the next turnstile (one cm was rushing back & forth between the 2, but it created a backlog due to the delay), and when I put my pass in it said "access denied". We tried again, and the cm asked for id then pushed a button to let me in. Not sure what the problem was, as my pass worked fine later in the day.

The park was quite busy....nothing like I had been led to believe from reading on the internet. October typically is a busy month, and today looked like a typical busy day - not mobbed, but definitely crowded. The tip board had waits of 20-30 minutes for everything (did not notice TOT or RnR). I do not generally wait 20 minutes for any ride or attraction, so today I just wandered around for a while and did not *do* anything. I browsed the shops on the way out, and as I was ready to leave I spotted an ex co-worker (Terry) and his girlfriend across the street. They saw me first, and said they were just talking about how maybe they would see me up here, lol, and then they saw me. We chatted for a little while, then I headed back to the BW using the walking path again.

At BW, I stopped in the DVC office to see if my guide was still employed. I had read on the internet somewhere that he had left, but I had not called to find out for sure. The cm entered my name into the computer, then called to check on Randy - and confirmed that he IS still employed, and was at Celebration today. So much for believing everything you read <g>. The cm was looking at the computer screen, then paused to look at me and said "You've got 900 points". I laughed, and said "I know". He said "You really like to vacation!" - but then, don't we all?? He was a nice guy; we chatted for a couple of minutes and then I continued on my way. Darla was due anytime in the next hour, so I sat on the veranda in a big rocking chair and started to update my notes. Within 5 minutes my beeper went off - Darla was checking in. I went inside, and there she was - surprised to see me so quickly, lol!

Her room was not ready, so we headed back out to the veranda and called Chris - who was pulling up to valet parking at that moment! We went inside to meet them - my first time to meet Chris! She had her mom Marilyn (dznygram) and her friend Carol with her - they had just come back from the Premium Outlets. Marilyn went to her studio for a while - we could see her balcony from the veranda, and she had decorated it for Halloween! Carol happens to live in my home town, and mentioned the name of one of her neighbors, who turned out to be a girl I went to high school with - small world! It was great meeting Chris - she's as much fun in person as she is in email <g>! We hung out there on the veranda for an hour or so I guess - enjoying the beautiful day (it was not freezing any longer, lol). They were craving hot dogs and wanted to eat at ESPN so I left them there and continued to Epcot for Food & Wine. It was 2:15 by now, and I wanted to spend some time at the festival before going to PI tonight.

At the International Gateway entrance I stopped at Guest Services to inquire about the special deal for Florida resident AP and PAP holders. If you buy or renew one of those passes & activate it by 12/30/01 you get an extra 100 days for free. My PAP expires next July, so what they did was credit me for the unused portion of my current PAP and then sold me a new PAP at the renewal rate with the DC discount - so it cost me about $94 and now my pass expires in Feb 2003 rather than July 2002. I asked about my son Chris - I bought an AP voucher for him a while ago when there was some *deal* going on, and I can turn that in to get the 100 extra days when we arrive on 12/29/01 :-) I will upgrade it to a PAP at that time, also.

With the pass taken care of, I entered Epcot and started walking towards France. I did notice fewer Food & Wine stands than last year, which is a shame. There are a few countries that are combined into a single stand, and while some stands had very long lines (too long for me) others had no wait at all. It was not as mobbed as last year, but it was still early. It was definitely busy, and I noticed entertainment going on in just about every country. Honestly, I did not see any signs of cutbacks (besides the 10am opening and 7pm partial closing). In Morocco I got a glass of the Ksar Vin Blanc ($2.00) and continued walking. I saw several items back from last year, including a few things I tried & liked. My destination was Africa - for the chicken on sugar cane stick! This year it was $3.50 and came with a triangle of pap rather than the tortilla chip. It was delicious, and made my nose run <g>!

Walking through China, I saw the chicken satay and thought it looked pretty good - I may give it another try some day this week. Since I was solo, I decided to head to Future World and do a couple of rides. I walked onto Spaceship Earth and then went to Test Track and used the single rider line to walk right into the pre-show. There was a large group of unruly teen boys acting obnoxious until the mom/chaperone finally read them the riot act and they settled down & acted like teens rather than 4 year olds. They seemed like nice kids individually, but as a group it was a contest to see who could be the most stupid, I guess. When the doors opened I stood back, and as expected the boys rushed past everyone in their haste to be the first ones on the ride.

After Test Track it was back to World Showcase to finish the countries. Ireland has a soup made with cheese and celery root - might be worth a try since I love the cheese soup in Canada. I returned to Morocco for another glass of wine, then returned to the International Gateway and sat on a bench to update my notes. I could hear the British Invasion performing again, which made sitting there very enjoyable :-) When the wine was gone I walked back to BW, drove back to Hampton Inn and got online to check mail while updating the report. The weather forecast is for temps in the 40's tonight....damn, I am bringing that DCA sweatshirt with me to PI!!

At 6:30 I left the room and drove to PI, parking right behind the bus stops. The entrance I normally use (at the Planet Hollywood end) was not manned, and even the ticket booths were not open. I walked through the Island to the main entrance, and those turnstiles were not in use yet either - very strange. There was busload after busload of conventioneers being dropped off, much to my dismay. They had the whole midway games area blocked off for a private party, the Rock & Roll Beach Club had a group, and 8 Trax had another (closed until 10pm to regular guests). Many of the conventioneers left those clubs and were in line for the 7:10 Comedy Warehouse show, and the next couple of shows.

I finally got my wristband and headed back up the hill to wait a few minutes until it was time to join the line. I was seated in long row, with Jaime as my server - who knew I wanted a Bye Bye Blues <g>. On the way down I said hi to Lisa, Deb and Dee - all terrific people. Before the show started one of the other Warehouse regular couples came to sit in the back row of seats and stopped to chat. I think her name might be Virginia - not sure of his (someone can help me out).

Jen K opened this show. She was joined by Mary, Todd, Phillip & Krista, and it was a pretty good show. They tortured Jen K in Cliché, making her guess "If you're waiting on me you're backing up". The guest who gave it had no idea what it means, but it does not have to make sense! Jen actually guessed it before Krista was about to give her the clue for the final word, so they scrambled to get the other actors onstage for the ending. When the show ended I headed out to check the line for the next show. I was #103 (no, I did not count....I asked Sue who was using the counter as people entered the line) and decided to join the line and hope for an empty single seat further down. I knew at 103 I would definitely have a front row, and would not be all the way to the back.

As it turned out there were no empty singles, but my seat was ok (3rd row down from the top). Mary opened this show and was joined by Jen K, Greg, Phillip & Todd. This show was also good. They did Forgotten Songs, which I usually love, and did a pretty good job with Schmeopardy. Phillip was the host and towards the end he sweated off most of his mustache (tape). On the way out Mary greeted me with a hug & we talked for a little while. The entertainment cuts on PI and elsewhere have been upsetting, but of course the remaining actors continue to put on a good show for the guests.

I left the club and headed over to the Jazz Club to find Nancy. This club was very busy - lots of people sitting and eating (and smoking - yuck). We stood inside the kitchen entrance where it was quiet (and better smelling) and visited briefly. Hopefully we can do something after she returns from an out of town trip later this week. Back outside, I decided to check on the Warehouse. The 9:20 show was being seated, but they already had a full row of standby guests, and since I cannot see sitting behind other people, I went to the Adventurer's Club to kill some time. Chris wanted to come to PI tonight; Darla did not....so I left them to battle it out with word to beep me by 10 if they were coming and I would wait for them. I was ready to leave, but did not want to risk it too far before 10. The other "regular" couple from the Warehouse was inside, so I went through the new member induction ceremony with them, then left PI. I wandered around the West Side, and then drove back to Hampton Inn around 10.

Back in the room I downloaded pictures, finished the report and got online for a while. Surprisingly, the night did not seem that cold...although I was glad to be wearing the sweatshirt! I did everything in the plan today, and had a nice relaxing day :-)

Miles Walked: 8.2

Day 2 - Saturday, October 27th 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Darla, Chris, Carol Kathy

Where: Wilderness Lodge (woods view room)

Plan: Meet Kathy @ WL, Join Darla/Chris/Mom for Food & Wine stuff

Actual: Poor Maria IM'd me late last night, having trouble locating where I was. Soon I heard the clink clink of her rappelling equipment, so I was able to sleep soundly knowing she was out there, lol! Poor thing is probably cold - the temperature with the wind chill is only 45 degrees. I left the coffee pot on so she could make some coffee after I leave.

I was up at 6:30, showered, got online to answer a bunch of mail, and then IM'd with Kathy a while (seems silly, since she'll be here in person soon but what the hell), and then with Darla. I went down to the free breakfast - lots of people enjoying the nice room in the lobby, but the food was not anything special to me. They had juices, coffee, tea, cocoa, oatmeal, waffles (toaster), several different bagels, bananas, oranges, a few kinds of cereal, some breads and lots of donuts. I had brought the other 1/2 of my bagel from home (from yesterday's breakfast) so I toasted that & used their cream cheese. The glazed donuts looked good, but when I took one it felt kind of hard in the tongs. When I took a bite I realized it had come from the refrigerator and was still cold - so I threw it in the trash. For me a donut is not worth the calories unless it is perfect <g>. They had some mini-donuts so I took a chocolate covered one, which was not bad. I took my bagel back to the room, where my cappuccino was waiting.

I left the Hampton in about 8:30 and drove over to WL to meet Kathy. She was checking in as I arrived, but the rooms were not ready yet. The cm told us we were on the first floor - Kathy tried to get it changed to an upper floor but nothing was available. She called housekeeping to try to speed it up. We stopped to visit with the DCL cm at the resort, and then headed out. We drove over to Property Control and did some shopping. This is a cast member area, but they can bring in a guest. Sometimes it is all junk (in my opinion, from past experience) but today we found a number of good bargains. We must have spent a couple of hours there!

It was getting to be time to meet the others, so we drove to Epcot and entered the park. The lines to get in were long, but moved fairly quickly. We got back to World Showcase just as the rope was dropping, and walked quickly to France. Since the others were coming from the Boardwalk, they beat us there! We spotted Darla, Chris & Carol, and made the necessary introductions. We immediately noticed incredibly long lines at all of the food courts - lines so long you would not believe it! They had ropes set up form the line, and the lines were easily 2-3 times the length of the roped area! I hoped this was just an unusual thing due to the park just opening, but it was like that the entire afternoon....unlike prior years.

It was also windy and cold...frigid! Kathy & I were the coldest, and she decided to check Company D for an inexpensive sweatshirt. We walked around towards the Co D entrance and Darla went backstage with Kathy to look for a sweatshirt while the rest of us continued walking around. We got in line for cheese soup in Canada - and were joined by Kathy & Darla. That line must have taken 30-45 minutes! Kathy, Darla & Carol each got the soup and either beer or wine to go with it. I skipped it, since I can eat that during the rest of the year in Le Cellier! We continued walking and sat in France. I continued to Morocco to get a glass of wine, but the line at the booth was so outrageously long I instead went to the Tangierine Cafe and got a regular glass of their wine (same brand, but not as good as what is at the F&W booth) to take with me back to France. We sat around talking for quite a while, just having fun. Chris was regaling us with stories of how she got lots of freebies the other night in exchange for certain *favors* behind the flaps of the food booths. I had no idea what she meant, of course ;-) Carol commented that Chris swallowed more than just wine - again, in my innocence I had no idea what that meant. The other ladies thought it was funny, though <g>. Darla will describe their dinner last night in her report, at least the details she remembers after the 6 glasses of wine she sucked down, but they were talking about someone under the skirts on the table and pulling up their skirts....it was so confusing!

Ok, back to business....we started walking again. Darla bought a cinnamon funnel cake in America, and I tried a few bites of it - very good, but more than I would want for just myself. None of the others wanted to try any. We looked in the wine shop, and Kathy bought a bottle of South African wine for her daughter. We kept walking and Carol & Chris stopped in Germany while the rest of us continued to South Africa (next door). Carol & Chris joined us with apple strudel and beer/wine. Darla & I got sugar cane chicken (plus one for Chris) and she got the Zambezi Lager while I tried a chardonnay. The wine was ok - not something I would order again, but everyone loved the sugar cane chicken. Darla said the lager was excellent as well. Darla thrust her perky breasts at the cm and got an especially nice portion. We noticed she had been doing this all around World Showcase and as a result she was immediately allowed to the head of the line.

At this point it was getting late....Darla needed her nap, Chris was off to a wine seminar, and I am not sure what Carol was going to do. We separated in Mouse Gears, and Kathy & I stopped at guest services in Innoventions West to put ourselves on the email list for the recipes from the Festival before leaving the park about 5pm. We drove back to WL and dragged our stuff to the rooms. Wow - these rooms ARE tiny...the size of a moderate, but a higher price. I was not particularly impressed with the appearance of the rooms either - the studios in the Villas side are very attractive, but these were just ok. The view was nice - woods view of a water area, with a couple of ducks swimming around.

We did have a major problem, though. Kathy's room is an accessible room but she was unable to get into the bathroom because a wall between the toilet room and sinks blocked access from her chair. She called the front desk and explained the problem to them. Occupancy was high at most resorts, and certain sections of some resorts were closed off and not available, so it took forever for them to come up with alternative placements. We were also concerned because her wheelchair battery was getting dangerously low, and we needed to be *somewhere* so she could recharge before it died. Spending this time waiting on them and then having to move & get settled somewhere else means no going out anywhere tonight due to the battery needing charging. For me it did not matter if we stayed in or went out, but it would have been nice for that to be our choice.

Finally the manager called back, and after many discussions he found rooms for us at the All Stars! Kathy said no freakin' way, buster! LOL, he had no idea we had changed the reservation for more than twice the cost to be at WL to get AWAY from the All Stars! He found rooms at Coronado, which Kathy also declined that since no refund was being offered for the difference in rate. Animal Kingdom Lodge was offered, and the Contemporary. At this point we decided to try the Contemporary, provided the bathrooms would be large enough. We got our stuff and went back out to the parking lot (they never offered to assist us or move our stuff - they only offered to transfer the money we had already paid over to the new reservation).

We drove to the Contemporary and there were no handicapped parking spaces with a van lift area, so Kathy left her van parked at the front door (she cannot valet park because her wheelchair is the driver's seat). I found a space way at the end of the row, and decided to leave my stuff in the car until I knew what we would be doing (it weighed a ton with the laptop in the overnight bag)! The clerk at the front desk was very nice and found us 2 rooms in the North Wing that were adjoining but they did not connect. We told him that was fine - at this point we would have taken just about anything! We drove to the parking lot, and Kathy got the last available handicapped spot and I took the first available non-handicapped spot, which I think was somewhere near Tampa <g>. She wondered where I had gone, lol - since I needed to get to her van to help get her stuff out. We piled almost everything on her lap. It probably looked bad for the person in the wheelchair to be buried under a mound of suitcases, clothing, bags, etc - while I strolled along carrying a couple of big batteries, but I really was not abusing my friend <g> - she insisted! She wanted to be a human luggage rack, so I merely granted her wish.

Our rooms are on the first floor, right next to the Tower, so actually they are in a great location. The rooms are "quite vibrant", to quote Kathy. I was searching for some word other than hideous, and she came through! No offense to people who love the decor here - actually I like the spaciousness of the room, but the decor is a bit much, lol! We got to the rooms and checked them out. One had a king bed, which means extra space to maneuver around, so Kathy took that one. I had the room with 2 queen beds. Both rooms have a daybed, and lots more space than at WL. I took pictures of my room (we had already trashed Kathy's by the time I thought to take pictures) and will post them on photopoint one of these days. We dropped off our stuff and went searching for alcohol (Damn straight, says Kathy).

We made the short trip to the Tower and headed up to the 4th floor. The smell of chocolate lured us into the first shop there, and as we were talking near the entrance a man came over to introduce himself. Jeff is a DVC member who reads the trip reports and recognized us. We chatted with him for a while about different things, then he went to find his family and we headed for the booze! I hope we made a nice impression and did not seem like a couple of lushes searching for their next drink, lol! At the Sundries Shop Kathy got a beer and some rum, and I got wine. I was surprised how cheap stuff was there - the beer was $1.75 and my wine was $2.25...not bad at all considering this is Disney! On the way back I bought a chocolate covered pretzel in the store with the candy - those have gone up to $1.25 plus tax now, but that is still a pretty cheap snack.

After purchasing our drinks we went backstage because Kathy was concerned that I needed to eat. I was happy with wine, but went along to appease her. Along the cm corridor they have several pictures of the Contemporary Resort dating back to the early 1970's, which were interesting to look at. They brought back memories of my previous stays in the 70's and 80's - and Kathy's honeymoon. The cast cafeteria had your typical stuff, but I really did not want anything to eat at that point, so we left. We went back to the room and got settled in for a few hours of drinking and talking. Once again, Kathy beat me in the drinking game - no fair since she just pours the beer into her stomach without having to swallow!

I updated the report, with her help, and downloaded the pictures and then worked on the next MousePlanet article (subject - Food & Wine Festival...to appear 11/09/01). Of course, the article might have been written more quickly if I had not been drinking all day (not a large quantity, but it is not customary for me to drink from 1-9pm! Around 8:30 I went to the other room to get the pillow off the sofa to provide support for my back, and almost had to call Kathy to ask her what I had gone to get - I forgot why I was there, lol! Eventually I figured it out - most of my stuff was still in the other room, so there were few possibilities in this room! When I returned I cut a piece of the great pumpkin bread she brought me (homemade) and finished my wine. We may not be out in a park doing typical tourist stuff, but it was nice just hanging out in the room and really, how many friends would be content to sit in a hotel room with you in WDW while you worked on a laptop computer, lol!

At 9:10 we heard the fireworks, so I opened the drapes to watch them while I worked on the article. We have a tree outside the room, but it did not block much of the view, which was perfect. I had forgotten about the fireworks, so this was a nice bonus - to see them from the warmth of the room! By 9:30 Kathy was exhausted, and decided she was not going to make it to see the Electrical Water Pageant at 10:05! We made our plans for tomorrow and I went to the other room while she got ready for bed. I had taken out my contacts so I hiked out to the car to get my glasses, and took a chance on finding a closer parking place. As luck would have it, I got one just a few cars down from Kathy's van - very close to our rooms! As I walked by, I noticed her van door was open, and was not able to close it. Back inside I let her know, and since she was already in bed I went out with her keys (it is all controlled by pushing a key on the plastic thing...not by using a key manually) and finally was able to get it to reopen part way and then close. I would hate to have someone break in overnight! I brought her back her keys, said goodnight again, and then headed outside to watch the Pageant.

I was the only one out on the dock until about a minute before it started. I enjoy watching this, although in my opinion it is not worth a trip just to see it. However, staying at the Contemporary it would be silly to not see it! The cm checking us in tonight told us Walt himself worked on this parade and it is the only original parade from 1971 that is still running. As soon as it was finished I went back inside to my warm room to finish the report and get online for a while. With the time changing tonight, we actually have an extra hour today - which is something I always need when I am up here, it seems!

It was a wonderful day, provided you ignore the trouble with the WL room and finding a new place to stay. I hate that Kathy has to deal with some of the frustrations we have encountered this year, from problems accessing the attractions, bus lifts not working and bus drivers who insist on arguing with her, to accessible resort rooms that are NOT accessible to her - compounded by a jerk cm who acted like he was doing her some huge favor finding her another place to stay :( Thank goodness the people at the Contemporary were so much more helpful, and I really like being here - despite having looked forward to the WL. I still consider the transportation from here to be awful (except to MK, which means I walk) and the location stinks if I am going to Comedy Warehouse, but if I was driving to the parks and staying *home* relatively early at night, this would be a great place to stay.

Miles Walked: 4.2 Day 3 - Sunday, October 28th 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Kathy

Where: Old Key West Resort (studio)

Plan: MousePlanet work, Move to OKW, some parks, Halloween party at MK w/Kathy

Actual: Thanks to the extra time in the room last night, I was glad to have finished the MousePlanet article and after returning from the water pageant I was able to get it and the pictures emailed off - leaving me free to play today! I know Kathy was pissed about the WL fiasco yesterday and partly felt bad that it caused us to not be able to go out (due to the battery), but looking back it had some advantages. We still had fun, I got my *work* done ahead of schedule, we stayed warm (it was cold outside), and this morning she only has to hop on the monorail to get to work! It was nice having the time change last night - an extra hour of sleep was definitely a good thing! However, I never seem to sleep much here, even when I allow the extra time. Last night I turned out the light at 1am - which was now midnight, and was awake around 5 (but did not get up until almost 6:30).

The room was quiet & comfortable - except for the traffic in the hall and the kids making noise. Once everyone got home though, it was silent. I showered and got dressed, then realized I brought a hotpot to make cappuccino but no coffee cups! So, I walked over to the Food & Fun Center since it was so close and asked the cm if I could take a coffee cup to use with my own coffee maker, and he said that was fine. Brr - it is chilly outside - they say low 50's but it feels colder than that to me! For breakfast I ate some of the delicious pumpkin bread and drank a big cup (the Styrofoam coffee cups are a larger size than usual. A newspaper was outside all of the guest rooms - a very nice touch!

Earlier I had called over to OKW to check on our studios and found they had not noted to put us near each other, which for a single night would be no big deal, but since we will both be there for 4 nights, it would be a pain to be at opposite ends of the resort. Wendy was the cm, and seemed to have somewhat of an attitude (not a cheery, Disney attitude, unfortunately). She said she would have to move reservations around and to try back after 4pm. I asked if it was going to be a problem for me to check Kathy in - to save her that hassle later, and she suggested I have Kathy call to authorize that. Hopefully one of the rooms will be ready early enough that I do not have to be homeless all day!

Kathy stopped by at 8 and visited for a while. She slept like a log, and really liked staying here after all. WL would have been too hard for her to maneuver in the room even if the bathroom was not a problem. Something to remember for the future! I told her about OKW and we called over there - she got the lovely Wendy and commented to me that she was still acting like a witch. Wendy told her I had called with a whole list of requests (yes, the same stuff that was on the reservation, non smoking, 1st floor for Kathy, & near each other) but they had juggled everything all around and now my studio was ready. I know I made the request for the rooms to be near each other, since I did it as a separate phone call...not when I made the reservation. Anyway, at least it is resolved, and I am glad I called so early otherwise we may not have been accommodated.

Kathy headed off to work in her van, and I finished my cappuccino and packed up my stuff to drive over to OKW to get my studio. Angelo greeted me from the bell services stand as I arrived and we chatted briefly. He pretended like he'd been rejected when he learned I had spent the night at the Contemporary, lol, but I assured him I only spent 1 night there and 5 here so my loyalties had not changed <g>. Check in went smoothly - I was able to check us both in. As Kathy learned on the phone, my studio was ready but hers was not. The cm was not able to give me her room number because it was not ready yet, but did say it was on the ground floor in the same building. We are in building 35, which is one of the "U"-shaped buildings, directly across from the Turtle Pond bus stop. I like this building, and have stayed in my particular studio at least 3-4 times. All of the units are very close to each other because of the shape of the building, so it turned out to be a great spot. When I came out to return to the car, Randy was at bell services with Angelo so I talked to them briefly and then drove to building 35.

My studio is on the 3rd floor, with a nice water view. Not so nice are the family of shriekers using the connecting 1br unit. I had brought one load of stuff with me and was going to get the rest and get settled into the room, but knew I did not feel like listening to LOUD baby talk directed towards a toddler and then the shrieking responses (I swear some people act like their children are hearing-impaired, and it is no wonder the kids themselves talk so loudly). Oh well, if this continues I will make a polite phone call over there, then resort to more nasty measures if they do not quiet down.

Since I still have a valid Contemporary parking permit, I drove back to there to park and walked into the Magic Kingdom. Driving is so much faster and being able to park at the Contemporary today was something too good to pass up - otherwise I would have taken the bus. I parked near the path and walked over to MK, arriving just after 9:30. I decided to do the things I enjoy that Kathy is not able to do, since I was here alone. First stop of course was Space Mountain for a Fastpass (10:20-11:20). There were no cm's at the Fastpass machines so I did a research project for the Larry Wilmot Academy of Fastpass Scamming and tried pushing that black button on the back of a couple of the machines, but they no longer work. Sorry, Larry - back to the drawing board! With no cm's there, I am not sure how a cm visiting the park would get a Fastpass, unless they would need to go find the cm at the attraction entrance perhaps.

Buzz Lightyear had a posted 10 minute wait, so I decided to go ahead. The wait was really not more than 5 minutes. The ride broke down when I was in front of a 5,000 point target, so I was able to get a better score than I normally do (279,900)! LOL - my arm and thumb were tired from the exertion towards the end of the ride! Next I walked to Fantasyland and rode Peter Pan (the ride....get your minds out of the gutter <g>) with about a 5 minute wait. It had been a while, so I rode It's a Small World after that, with no wait at all. I know many people cannot stand this attraction, but a ride about happiness and getting along sounded enjoyable today.

By now it was into the Fastpass window so I walked back through a very busy Fantasyland and over to Space Mountain. The standby line was 20 minutes, which I guess is not too bad - but longer than I would wait. I got the front seat, without asking! It was a fun ride, particularly due to the British boy behind me who talked his way through the entire ride for courage, I guess - too funny! I had one more attraction to do, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. I enjoy riding this even though it is not exciting at all. It's too bad it is not accessible, though.

I left the MK and rode the resort monorail over to the Grand Floridian, which took forever due to all of the stops (Contemporary, TTC, Polynesian, then Grand Floridian). Inside I could see Kathy at her desk - she was on the phone and had several guests there, so I went outside to kill time until she was less busy. I wandered out to the beach and sat swinging on the swing out there updating my notes. The white sand was warmed by the sun and it felt good to take off my sandals and warm my feet up for a while! Eventually I went back inside, and now Kathy did not have any guests around so I went over. I gave her the OKW information and met her co-worker Josie, and chatted for a while. At one point a guest came to check in and I noticed an older man walking with his granddaughter and he dropped his wallet onto the floor. I heard it fall, and figured surely he did too, but he kept on walking away. Finally when he or the girl never went back to get it, I figured I had better pick it up before someone else did, so I went over to pick it up and brought it over to where the man was with the rest of his family. He had no idea he had dropped it, but with a wad of cash tucked into the money clip on the outside it easily could have been noticed by someone else! When the guest was finished I talked to Kathy a bit longer, then headed out. She is going to see Gus after work, then will come *home* by 6.

I took the monorail to MK and got off there to walk to the Contemporary. I almost beat the monorail, since it ended up sitting on the track waiting for traffic clearance! I drove over to Boardwalk, swapping the Contemporary parking pass for the BW one (it also expires today) and parked there to walk into World Showcase. It very busy again today, with long lines but not quite as bad as yesterday. In Morocco I stood in line for the wine that I like (last year I do not remember ever having to wait) and continued walking around. I decided to try the chicken satay one more time, so I stood in a looooong line near China hoping it would be as good as it looked. Sadly, it was not, so it is permanently something I will not order again! I swear one of the pieces was either not cooked all the way through or was just plain fatty (no, I did not stand in line to take it back - I just ate the other parts & threw the nastiest parts away). Yuck! Perhaps part of the problem is they use chicken thigh meat, and I hate dark meat. As Chris & Darla can attest, I like my meat white & tight, lol! Oh, were we talking about chicken??? Anyway, I think thigh meat has a different texture than breast meat, and I don't like the taste or feel of the dark meat. Looks like I am back to sugar cane chicken - which is not a complaint....that stuff is GREAT!

I thought about riding Test Track before leaving, but when I got over there the single rider line was not open and the cm would not be opening for about 15 minutes. Fastpass was not working either - so everyone was in a long standby line. I wondered why single rider was not open, but did not bother to ask. Instead, I just left, not wanting to wait 15 minutes for a ride. The line for cheese soup in Canada was very long again - I will stick to Le Cellier for that! I exited at the International Gateway and back at the BW stopped at the Boardwalk Bakery to pick up a chocolate/vanilla pretzel. I was surprised to see it now has big fat granules of sugar on it rather than powdered sugar and drizzled chocolate. I asked the cm when/why they changed to that sugar, and she said that with all the anthrax scares they do not want to use powdered anything! I laughed and thought that was so stupid...who would think they are buying an anthrax pretzel at the BW??? I wonder about this world sometimes...

I ate part of the pretzel - it was very good and is less messy without the powdered sugar, but I am unsure which way I prefer it. Luckily I have one more of the old ones in the freezer at home - guess I better savor every last bite of that one, lol! While I was in the bakery I heard beeping, but since Kathy was not with me (it sounded like some of her equipment) I figured it was someone else - and it was....me - my beeper, lol! My son's dad wanted to discuss something about Chris, so I stopped at a payphone inside and called him. Chris has spent the weekend at a friend's house and wanted to extend that thru Wednesday, but his dad & I agreed the answer is NO....party time is over for that teen, and it's back to normal life tonight. I know Chris would do nothing but goof around and not do his homework, so the answer was no.

I got the car and drove back to OKW, swapping the parking pass for the one from OKW <g>. The shriek family was not home, so it was a nice, peaceful afternoon. I brought in the rest of my stuff and put it all away since I will be here 5 nights. I absolutely hate a messy hotel room, so I keep it looking as if it has just been cleaned (not vacuumed & all, just no crap laying around). It took a couple of trips to bring it all upstairs, and I noticed the housekeeping cart was still parked in the extra section of the only handicapped parking spot. It was in the space where the wheelchair lift would come out of Kathy's van, so I found the housekeeper guy and explained that it would have to be gone within a few hours and NOT be parked there for the rest of the week since that is the only place Kathy can park & she would be trapped if they put their cart there. He seemed to understand, at least I hope so. I got online and also updated the report. About 5:13 I glanced at the clock and decided to get offline in case Kathy called early. As soon as I plugged the phone back in, the message light was blinking - with a 5:12 message from Kathy, lol! She had decided to skip seeing Gus today since it would have cut her time too close. I went down to her studio and we decided to head to the party - after I made her take an extra sweatshirt because I knew she would be freezing later (she was <g>).

Sun 10/28 - Sue, Kathy (continued)

We had a short wait for the MK bus and except for the driver accidentally whacking Kathy's ankle with a metal thing that should have secured the wheelchair it was an uneventful ride for a change. We got to MK just after 6, and guests were being admitted so we went in. Kathy introduced me to another of the people she used to work with at the MK and he made sure we got the trick or treat bags even though we are not kids <g>. There were still lots of guests in the park who did not have tickets to the party, and we were concerned about whether Disney was going to effectively get them all out of the park before any of the party stuff started. It would not be fair for some people to be paying for the extra ticket and someone else to be crashing for free! We went into the Emporium to find Kathy one of the party t-shirts, but found none. I asked a cm and he said they would be brought out later - around 7 when the party officially starts. They had closed and locked most of the doors also - leaving the ones at the train station end open, to get the unauthorized guests towards the exit and not near the rest of the park. As we worked our way back we soon encountered cm's asking to see our wristbands and turning away anyone without one. Only Main Street and Fantasyland were open prior to 7pm (the party was 7-12), but crowds were very light at this point.

Main Street looked really cool. They had jack-o-lanterns in some of the 2nd story windows, spooky music playing, and the images of ghosts were flashed on the buildings. They did a nice job with the theming. We went to Fantasyland and I rode the Peter Pan ride while Kathy waited (it was pretty much a walk-on). Afterwards we made our first series of candy stops - the cm's did not seem to mind whether adults or kids were getting the stuff. By the end of the night we both had a full bag of stuff - I counted mine out of curiosity - 120 pieces, over 50 of them *real* chocolate candy bars. Nestle was the sponsor, but somehow I ended up with 2 Hershey bars in there (perhaps left over from the All Star Resorts concierge service where they toss a broken piece of a Hershey bar on your pillow <g>). Kathy is bringing her candy home to her 2 teen boys since she cannot eat it, and I will save some of my non-melting stuff for Chris and unload the rest of the chocolate on Kathy's boys. I do NOT need to eat 50 chocolate bars between now and Saturday, lol!

After getting candy we decided to get our picture done - taken against a Halloween backdrop. It should be home before I am, lol! It was about 7:15 so we went to the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon to see the Halloween Revue. I had read somewhere on the internet that someone said not to miss this show, so we were expecting something good. The show started, and it was one of the same shows they do every day....except with an orange vest and at one point saying "boys and ghouls". Once we realized it was the same old thing, we left. I do not like walking out on a performer, but with limited time we were not about to sit through something we can see any day.

We decided to go to Big Thunder, stopping for candy along the way. We made lots of candy stops <g>. Here we had our first unpleasant encounter of the night. We entered through the exit, and this cm came over to us and asked how many were in our party. We said 2, but only I was riding. She then said "If the wheelchair isn't riding then you need to go through the regular line" - in a very curt tone. Kathy said she has a pass that says she & her party are to come in this way so that she can wait with them until they ride - she cannot go sit outside while I waited in a long line. The cm kind of huffed and cut her off and waved her over to the wall saying "well, I'll let you *this* time - go wait against the wall". Yikes!! First of all - and most important, last time I checked Kathy was a *person*....not a wheelchair! Second, the twit was not doing us a favor by "letting" us do anything...she was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing. We tried to get her name but of course she was not wearing a nametag. We did get a good description of her, though. We waited for a couple of trains, then I rode. This ride is more fun in the dark, but I enjoy it any time of day!

We left Big Thunder and the lovely cm, and headed to the 8:15 Halloween Riverboat Ride. It was advertised as "strolling musicians, characters and Halloween treats" - yeah, right <g>. We joined the large crowd getting on the boat and another guest told us there was an easier way for us to board, just as a cm approached to pull us out of the crowd to use the wheelchair entrance downstairs. To get there we had to ride downhill on a narrow path where people were coming from the opposite direction (grrr) and then go through a gate and switchback down to the lower dock and ride over a ramp onto the boat. That put us on the lower level, which is where the musicians played (no strolling, they just stood there). There was a lady in a costume who told a story when the boat got moving, but I think only a handful of people were able to hear her. We were close, but could not hear. They had some of the Country Bears wandering around, and that was about it. We rode around and did see a few Halloween decorations put out on Tom Sawyer Island, but nothing major. For most guests it is a standing ride, but Kathy had her wheelchair and I sat on her lap. Yep, first I pile her with luggage to change resorts and then I use her as an easy chair <g>. But hey, it was her idea, and it kept her warmer - that chair can easily handle the both of us!

When we got off the boat the road was blocked off for the 8:30 parade, so I asked a cm how we could get to Fantasyland. She told us to take this certain walkway, which ended up being very narrow and was full of people coming from the other direction. It as slow going, and eventually we got stuck when a stroller could not pass Kathy's chair. Finally I asked the dad if he could just lift it up and over, so they did that and we were able to continue on...until the next stroller that had to be lifted. We were not particularly pleased to be stuck in and contributing to such a traffic problem, but that is the way the cm told us we had to go. It was a mess - far too many people going in both direction with strollers, wheelchairs, etc, in a too-small walkway.

Eventually we emerged from the mess and headed to Fantasyland. After getting more candy we continued to Tomorrowland and walked into Space Mountain. We can go through the line together here, then Kathy waits at the unloading area while I finish the last waiting section and do the ride. It seemed so funny to see people in costumes riding the rides tonight <g>. It was a great ride - this time I got the left side, which I think is my favorite. Outside they had a little show going on the stage there, with kids dancing. It looked like they were having fun, but we needed to find more candy and then get a spot for the fireworks. We watched them from the bridge between Tomorrowland and the Hub. The benches were all taken, so I used Kathy's lap again. The fireworks at first were just ordinary - we were kind of disappointed in them, but then they had the witch fly from the castle like Tinkerbell usually does and then they did some perimeter fireworks. Overall they were pretty short, but they were pretty.

We went to Adventureland for more candy, and ran into the girl we met at Property Control the other day. Not sure if I wrote about her, but she is in the college program and we met her in line to pay for our stuff. She is not a Disney maniac, but has a terrific positive attitude and has loved her experience working in the MK and was really friendly. She'll be returning home to continue her education in January, I think. We chatted with her for a couple of minutes, then went back to Big Thunder. This time we were met by a very nice cm who had no problem with "the wheelchair" not riding. I did the ride, then we left to go find more candy and a bench to sit and update my notes. At 10pm it was still very crowded, although lots of people left after the 1st parade & fireworks.

We went back to Main Street and saw there were very few people waiting for the 10:30 parade. We decided to get Kathy's t-shirt now, and found it in the Emporium. Here we met a cm with zero personality at all. She was kind of hanging on the counter (a big woman - not very neat looking, hard to miss) ignoring everyone. Kathy asked her a couple of times if she was working...was her register open, before she responded that she was. It was so weird. She did not seem ill or anything like that, just bored out of her mind and not interested in being there. Anyway, we got the shirt and headed out to the wheelchair viewing area and were the only ones in there. After the parade started, a family ducked under the ropes & came in there to use the rest of the bench I was on. The parade was pretty cute - no match for Spectromagic, though. After it was over the other family was asking how they were supposed to get out (the wheelchair viewing area is completely roped off on all sides) and I felt like saying - how about the same way you got in here...climb under the rope where you don't belong and sneak away?? But, I kept my mouth shut.

When the cm came to let us out Kathy went to guest services to complain about that first cm at Big Thunder and I went to try for a picture of the parade as it started down Main Street. I joined her at Guest Services, and the cm they had given her to take her complaint did not seem to understand very much English. Kathy explained what happened, and stated the need for the cm's to be better trained, but the cm was clueless. She wrote down the description of the nametag less cm at Big Thunder, and hopefully someone will say something to her about how to treat guests.

We went back to Fantasyland, and a man came over to introduce himself - it was Jay McGuire from the dvctalk list that I am on! It was great meeting him in person, as I enjoy his opinions on DVC/WDW and his sense of humor. His ability to cite specific sources to prove or dispute some hair-brained rumor or legend is amazing at times. Jay - thanks for introducing yourself!

We got more candy, ran into the girl from Property Control again, did Space Mountain again, and then met Brianne - daughter of a fellow DVC member on the DVC boards. We told her Mom said hi, and she knew exactly who we were at that point, because Barb (mom) had called her to say some friends would be saying hi to her tonight. She's a pretty girl, and had the nicest, most sincere smile of anyone we saw that night - so Barb should be proud of her :-)

By now it was almost midnight so we decided to leave. The OKW bus was waiting, so after moving a few people to other seats we were loaded for the ride back to OKW. We made our plans for tomorrow, stopped by Kathy's studio for a minute, then I headed up to my studio to finish writing the report.

The day went according to plan, with the exception of the MousePlanet stuff being done the night before. Except for that hag cm at Big Thunder, it was a great day. The Halloween Party was fun, but for me at least I think that was mostly just because we were hanging out together & doing stuff that was slightly new. None of the particular shows or parades were particularly *great* in my opinion, the crowds were horrendous at times, and the rides are no different at the party than they are during regular hours. However, it was a fun experience and definitely worth doing for the first time. It will not be an every year thing for me, though, and definitely not if I was buying more than 1 ticket. Oops - one other negative - that nasty chicken satay. I should have learned from last year <g> but I have learned now!

Miles Walked: 8.5

Day 4 - Monday, October 29th 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Kathy

Where: Old Key West Resort (studio)

Plan: Park(s), Comedy Warehouse

Actual: After the party last night I debated about just going to bed and doing the report in the morning, vs. staying up to write it that night. Kathy & I have no plans until late morning, but I ended up staying up to write and figured I would sleep in and post it late today. I had not counted on the Shriek family waking me up at 6:30 on the dot! I really do not think it is asking too much to keep your voices down when you are in a hotel - particularly when you have a door connecting you with someone else. I ended up getting up around 6:40, and turned the TV on as loud as I could stand it to drown them out. I think I will have to remember they are there when I come home later tonight, and take time to enjoy some loud music....perhaps singing aloud (badly).

One other thing I forgot yesterday - I bought a marshmallow thingy on the way out of the MK! It has been a while, but they looked pretty good. I have not tried it yet, so hopefully I won't regret buying it <g>.

I took it easy this morning - showered, talked to Darla, posted the report, etc. Breakfast was cappuccino and pumpkin bread. The weather looks warmer today - mid 70's. Around 8:15 I called Kathy - she had not been able to get to sleep until almost 4 (she said she was worse than me, lol) so she needed to rest a bit longer. I used the time to write an article on the Halloween party for MousePlanet and send it off. She called back around 9:15 saying she was up, so we agreed I would come get her at 10.

This morning I had some trouble with the phone here. After 6:30 when the Shriek family were carrying on I called their room - and ended up getting some guy who was sleeping, and claimed to be the only one in his room! I was mortified - I had been very polite, but still - the idea of waking somebody up like that was awful! I apologized profusely, and figured maybe I dialed the wrong number, although I was sure I had dialed correctly. Later when Kathy beeped and I called her room, I got some guy on the phone. Now I know that is no surprise, especially when she is on vacation, but this time in the background I heard a woman rather than more men, and it was not her! <g> I said I was trying to call room # xxxx, and he said that is the room he is in - so I apologized saying I must have the wrong room number. I called the operator and asked for Kathy's room, she answered the phone and I asked her what room # she was in - and it was the same room number I dialed (dialing a "7" first, of course). I can only assume somehow the numbers I dialed ended up at some other resort - so I called the operator to report what was happening. Kathy later had trouble dialing my room, too. At least the internet access works <g>.

Got Kathy, and we headed to the bus stop for the Studios bus. Once there we checked under the big hat for the internet pin (Kathy had printed the coupon from somewhere on the internet) but the cm said they were not in yet. He said many people were putting the 100 year pins back when they found that out, not wanting to buy them until they could get the free internet pin. The freebie pin sounds better to both of us than the ones you have to buy - it is a real metal pin rather than that cheap looking plastic! The plastic ones are the ones that light up, though. I thought they sounded nice in the Mickey Monitor, but when I saw them in person I knew I did not want any - they are too big and in my opinion are just plain ugly, but they must be popular enough to sell a bunch of them!

We decided to see the new Walt Disney - One Man's Dream attraction, and were both very glad we did. It has a walk-through exhibit with artifacts from each decade of his professional life and the company after his death. The exhibit was followed by a film comprised mostly of clips of Disney himself talking about what he was doing. It was quite interesting for adults, but as a 25 minute attraction kids might be climbing the walls from boredom. We were lucky there were none in our showing to disrupt things. I do not see it as an attraction I would repeat each trip, or even each year, but I am glad to have seen it.

We browsed in the Animation store and a few other shops, then stopped at Guest Services to ask a question on the way out. We took the boat from MGM, which stops at Swan/Dolphin, YC, BW and then Epcot. There was a screeching toddler onboard who would not do anything her mother told her to do, and insisted on running up and down the aisle. Finally the mother grabbed her & tried to hold her on the seat so she could look out the window and the kid tried to hang out the window - screeching all the while. The boat captain came on the microphone and said "It's ok - you can throw her out the window, ma'am"! LOL - The mom looked like that's exactly what she wanted to do <g> - just one of those horrible moments. She had 2 other little girls who were sitting quietly with Grandma.

We entered Epcot and went to France to check out the upcoming wine seminar, and decided to stick around and wait for it. We had time, so we went to Morocco and I got a glass of the white wine to bring back. We sat on a bench chatting while we waited 1/2 hour or so for the seminar. The sun was to my left, blinding me on that side, and Kathy was on my right. All of a sudden some woman came over on my left and hugged me, and when she blocked the sun I saw it was Linda Friar! She was on her way to have sushi for lunch in Japan, in for the afternoon. We all talked briefly and then Linda went to eat. Kathy & I got in line for the seminar.

It was billed as being 45 minutes, but Kathy thinks it actually took less time than that. It featured Banfi vineyards in Italy and we sampled 4 of their different wines - white, rose, Chianti & summus. The presenter was the granddaughter of the founder, and did a great job. The white was pretty good, we both hated the taste of the sumus (so Kathy poured both of our glasses of that one into her tube since I was not going to drink it), the Chianti was ok, but the rose was really good. It had a bit of rose petal and raspberries in it, but was not overly sweet. They said it was excellent with chocolate, so maybe it is no wonder it appealed to us, lol! The tables were set up to seat 2 people at each one, with 4 wineglasses at each seat, along with a pitcher of water and a basket of flatbread to sample with the wine. It was fun, and since it was free we decided to take advantage of more of them tomorrow.

We continued walking around World Showcase and were going to shop in Japan when we ran into Jeff (dvctalk member we met at the Contemporary Saturday night). He introduced us to his wife and the 4 of us hung around talking for quite a while. They are so nice, and such a cute couple - it was really a pleasure meeting them. By now it was about 2pm and time for Kathy to get over to see Gus. I decided to stay in Epcot a little while longer, and would check out information on the seminars the next couple of days. Kathy was wanting me to eat some real food, which is what I had planned to do before the wine & flatbread filled me up, so I figured walking around a while more eventually I would be ready to get my sugar cane chicken. Otherwise, I would be hungry later and would be munching Halloween candy and marshmallow thingy (come to think of it, even with the chicken I will be eating junk later <g>). I walked her out towards the front of the park, and we split up at Spaceship Earth. There was no wait there so I decided to ride, then checked on the seminar information before returning to World Showcase.

I started in Mexico and reversed our earlier path, stopping to get the sugar cane chicken. It was delicious, as usual! I found a sunny bench in Germany and sat there facing the water, with birds chirping, the breeze blowing, and German music playing in the background - it was really pleasant being out there today :-) I realized I would be missing General Hospital, but it was worth it. When I finished eating I continued walking around through the rest of the countries - thought about another glass of wine in Morocco but decided against it.

I left Epcot about 3:30 and got one of the new buses back to OKW. The new buses are pretty cool - they have fewer seats but hold more people (standing room). They are also easier for people in wheelchairs to access. Back in the studio I updated the report and relaxed for a while, then went out rollerblading. The weather was perfect for skating and it felt good to be out there doing something physical. Afterwards I ate some of the pretzel and drank some water while waiting for Kathy to get home from AK. She was back about 6 - chilled to the bone from sitting outside watching Gus, and getting pissed that she was unable to reach her boys. She figures they are probably at a friend's house but since she told them to be home they may be in trouble! She plans to give it another 30 minutes, then go home & find them to get them home, and then return - lousy way to spend a night on vacation :(

I headed out about 6:30 to go park at PI and then wander around the Marketplace until it was time for the Comedy Warehouse. The Marketplace was wonderfully uncrowded, even in the World of Disney! I entered PI around 7:30 and sat across from the Adventurer's Club until it was time to get in line. I ended up in long row, so I was happy. I was kind of tired and figured I would not be staying long, so I decided to skip the Bye Bye Blues and just got water instead. Jen K opened the show and was joined by Todd, Josh, Mary & Jake. It was a good show, and the first time I had seen Jake in a while (not since before he got married and grew his mustache). The did Emotions, where an actor calls out emotions for another actor; 2 actors create a scene while having to continually change to the emotion called for them. It's usually funny and tonight was no exception. They did an Up Your Alley that kind of struggled, more due to the audience than the actors. The subject was mathematics and they were only able to get a few questions from the audience (mine, the person next to me and then 1 other person after Jake begged). When they needed an embarrassing story to end the show, again nobody responded, so finally the person next to me told a story about a girlfriend of hers who was not even there - and Mary took it. Normally the person has to be there, but I think Mary was afraid to risk not getting anything if she rejected his one, lol!

After the show I went right out and got into line again, pretty far back but thanks to an empty single seat ended up with a great seat. Unfortunately a couple of rows behind me was a fairly large group of cast members (I could tell from their LOUD conversations) who were completely obnoxious, prompting a few other groups to also get loud & obnoxious. They went overboard with whistling & cheering when Carol walked over to the keyboard, and after the show started would not stop yelling things out at the wrong time - very loudly! Actors would be creating a scene, NOT asking for a suggestion and these people were literally screaming out words, sayings & other suggestions. It was hard to hear the actors at times, and they once kind of paused so they could be heard over the idiots, and some of the actors told them to shut up (in various ways). Ugh! I realize the majority of cm's are fine, but it's the few bad ones who can ruin a show for the entire audience and give cm's in general a bad name. The manager went up to talk to these people sternly about mid-show, which also distracted from the show. She had to go up a second time, also. Why she did not have their butts tossed out of there is beyond me.

Anyway, the 2nd show was very funny despite the jerks in the audience. It started with Carol playing a children's' song and then asking for 2 different composers so she could improvise what it would have sounded like if written by each of those performers. She took a really long amount of time on the first composer, and when she finished that one Mary came out on stage to open the show! Carol was stunned - I am not sure if Mary came out because it was going on too long, or if she just goofed and came out too early, lol! That's what happens when it's live <g>!

The actors this time were Mary, Joy, Josh, Jen K & Todd. They tortured Josh with "Kiss it up to a fart in a mitten". He has a tough time with this game because he just doesn't *get* so many of the clues. Tonight they blamed it on him being Canadian....they're dumber than Americans (joking, of course). Each time he would get stuck, he would say "I'm too dumb to know that - I'm from Canada". Todd was the one leading the torture, and at one point he screwed up and started leading Josh to a word that was not even in the saying! Carol caught on, and tried to get his attention with the keyboard, but he was completely oblivious. Eventually Jen came out and took charge to fix it, and Todd ran backstage to check the words again - sheesh! It was still very funny, though :-)

I left after this show. None of the actors came out - perhaps to avoid the over zealous cm's who were in the audience! The line for the next show was pretty short, but the show was 1/2 hour away and I was too tired to stay. I drove back to OKW, ate some of the marshmallow thingy (it is good this time), finished and posted the report. I was glad to see Kathy's van back - can't wait to hear what hell she gave those boys tonight, and I'm glad she made it back safely.

The day followed the plan, and was great. The wine seminar was fun, the crowds at the festival were much lighter, and the weather was warmer! It's wonderful being here :-)

Miles Walked: 5.1 Day 5 - Tuesday, October 30th 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Kathy

Where: Old Key West Resort (studio)

Plan: Park(s), Comedy Warehouse

Actual: On the 11pm news last night it was announced that the Carousel of Progress is closed - since they said nothing to indicate it was temporary, I am assuming it is permanent.

I slept soundly, from 12:30 until the radio came on at 6:00. I could have slept longer, but have things to do, places to be, people to see, etc <g>. At least I was not woken up by the Shriek family...no sign of them yet. I showered and had breakfast (cappuccino and some of the chocolate/vanilla pretzel), then read the rest of the posts downloaded last night. Kathy called before 8, so I finished getting ready then went down to tell the men waiting at her door to try again later since we were going out for the day.

We drove to Animal Kingdom and stood in line until the park opened at 9, then went directly to the Pangani Forest Trail. Both Spike and Zawadi were out on the bachelor side, and Gino was out with his 2 babies on the family side. Gus had been hiding behind some bushes, and when he heard or saw Kathy he came closer and we could see him. He sat there watching her for a while, as she talked to him. I went to watch Gino for a while, and when I returned Gus was moving down closer. At one point he moved and I moved to another area for a different view and he seemed to be looking at me some of the time as well - by now he probably associates me with Kathy and figures I am ok. As Kathy moved to come down to where I was he made his sound that means "hey - where do you think you're going???" so she told him what she was doing and he followed her over. We were there for about an hour, and up until the very end we were the only ones there except for a couple of the cm's, so it was really nice. Kathy thinks I *put up with* being there with her, but really I enjoy being there since I know how important Gus is to her, and it's fun to watch the interaction. I know she would be right there with me if there was something/someone who had my interest like Gus does hers :-)

We left AK at 10 and drove to Epcot. We headed straight to Innoventions West and lined up for the 11:00 wine seminar. It featured a white zinfandel, Riesling, and a rosado - and was conducted by one of the master sommeliers at WDW. He (George) did an excellent job - he was funny, informative and pretty darned cute <g>. The wines were all excellent, as well. Kathy was able to taste each on her tongue, then used the syringe to send the wine through the feeding tube. These things are really fun!

We got out shortly before noon and had guest relations there check on a certain wine we liked, then decided to wait for the 12:30 seminar. This one was "Best Buys" of the festival and was conducted by Gary Lee, the area manager for Spoodles (& also a master sommelier). This one was also excellent, with 4 wines to taste (about 1/2 glass each). LOL - I was having a little trouble keeping up with Kathy, but I managed! We learned a lot of interesting details about selecting wine, and most of what we sampled was very good. Afterwards Kathy wanted me to ask Gary a question, so I talked with him for a while - he's very nice. I told him I was disappointed when Spoodles closed for lunch, and that I am usually elsewhere during dinner time. We mostly talked about wine - and he agreed that the wine I love in Le Cellier is an excellent wine.

We headed out to World Showcase - hopefully without staggering and weaving, but it is not often we have 7 glasses of wine (1/2 glasses, actually) in such a short period of time. Our first stop was another wine tasting, lol!

We did the Vine to Wine thing by Mondavi, where we got 3 more samples of wine - the same wine, but in various stages of completion. I did not drink the first 2 after the initial taste, but Kathy was able to with the syringe! The last one was the finished product, and although I do not like red wine (it was a cabernet sauvignon) I guess I had enough wine at that point that it was drinkable <g>. I do not recall what we actually learned during the presentation, nor do I care!

We walked around for a while, stopping here and there. It was a positively gorgeous day today - each day has gotten better & better, and spending this time wandering around with Kathy was a perfect way to spend my vacation. We stopped at the wine tent, but they did not have the specific wine we were interested in. By now it was 2pm - time for Kathy to get back to Gus. I was torn between heading back there with her and staying in Epcot, and in the end decided to stick with Epcot. She & I will spend tomorrow together, including seeing Gus before the park closes. Tonight she has Candlelight Processional rehearsals, anyway - while I am meeting Josh & Dann at Comedy Warehouse.

I continued around World Showcase, and based on Cora's report on dvctalk I went to the Spain/Portugal kiosk and got a glass of the white wine. It was from Portugal, and very good. I took it over to Canada and sat to listen to Off Kilter while I drank the wine. Off Kilter is always great, and with those blue eyes and manly legs.....wow, it does not get much more pleasant than that <g>. For whatever reason, they kind of played off of me, which was fun. Their set is very short (about 15 minutes), but they do a great job and appear to be having lots of fun.

When Off Kilter was done I walked back around World Showcase and exited at the International Gateway to buy another chocolate/vanilla pretzel at the Boardwalk Bakery. The one from the other day is almost gone, as is the pumpkin bread, so this should hold me for breakfast the rest of the week. Coming back in, the security officer was really chatty - talking about Pleasure Island (I was wearing my PI shirt).

I re-entered Epcot and this time stopped in Morocco and got a glass of white wine (yikes - I sound like a drunk, lol) and sat to listen to Mo Rockin' on Kathy's recommendation. They were pretty good - they reminded me of a guy I went to high school with who used to work as a male exotic dancer (not a stripper....more like a VERY attractive male belly dancer) until he died - it was a similar type of music. When they finished I continued walking around enjoying the afternoon. I saw or heard entertainment in just about every country during my walk, and really could not tell there had been any cutbacks at all.

As I passed by Africa I saw Hugh & Arlene at a table, and they saw me, so I sat and joined them for a while. It was nice talking with them - they are such a nice couple. By now it was after 4 - time for them to continue eating and also for me to find something to eat to absorb all of this wine! We headed in opposite directions, and I had to wait at the bridge - it was up to let the Earth and fireworks barges through. When it went back down I continued walking and stopped in Mexico to try the quesadilla pollo y chorizo.....and omigod, it was excellent!!! I think chorizo is some sort of sausage, so this was a quesadilla with melted cheese, chicken and sausage. It was the perfect size for me, and tasted really great! Damn, now I like sugar cane chicken and this thing....it is going to be so hard to choose!

I ate the quesadilla as I walked towards the exit, then got on the waiting bus for the ride back to OKW. Back in the studio I updated the report, downloaded pictures and got online to check mail before heading out for the evening. I had left my warm jacket in Kathy's van, but she brought it to her room and left me a message before she went to rehearsal. I got the message when I got offline to leave, so I stopped at her studio to pick it up in case I needed it tonight. I rushed over to PI and entered to meet Josh and Dann. They were waiting outside the Comedy Warehouse, so we hung back until enough people got in line ahead of us. Although we have only met once before, just in passing, it was a lot of fun seeing the shows with them - they're both great, and I am glad they suggested we meet tonight!

We were seated in long row, all the way down - the absolute best seats in the house. The 8:00 show was opened by Jen Br - I was glad to see her back again, as I have always enjoyed her but she does not work very much. She was joined by Joy, Josh, Jen B & Krista. The first structure was a 2-actor scene directed by Josh, but he did not intervene quickly enough to keep it moving when it started to die. It was like he got caught up in watching it and forgot to do his job. It was kind of strange, it was so bad. Thankfully after that brief lapse the rest of the show was good. They tortured Jen Br with "Beer is proof there is a god and he loves us". It took quite a while, and was very funny!

After the show we went outside and Gretchen (zosmom) was waiting for me. We had not met before, and I was looking forward to meeting her. She lives so close to WDW it is no big deal for her to pop over for a show - yet she had never been to the Comedy Warehouse before! The four of us got into line for the next show, and this time were seated further back. The 9:05 show was opened by Greg, who was joined by Joy, Josh, Jen B & Krista. This show was also good, and moved along quickly due to a few very short pieces that were thrown into the mix. Dann ordered a Bye Bye Blues this time, and said it was better than the drink he ordered the first show (from the current menu). When the club emptied out cm Lisa took pictures of our group for us, and I will put one out on photopoint. We stood outside talking for a while, then went our separate ways. I really enjoyed spending this time with them :-)

I got in line for the 3rd (10:30) show and was happy to get long row again. This time it was Krista, Greg, Mary, Jen Br and Josh - a great cast! I would rank this as the best of the 3 shows I saw tonight. Josh has been very funny lately, and tonight was no exception - some of his stuff was off the wall, but very good! The rest of this cast are real pros - they are consistently excellent.

After the show Greg came out and talked with me for a little while - catching up on the latest goings on. It's really nice that he takes the time to initiate a conversation when he could be in the break room <g>. When I went outside they had already closed off the PI exit by the stage, so I had to walk around the long way to get out to the parking lot. I could have waited for the NY Eve show to start/end, but it was easier to just walk <g>!

Back at OKW I finished up the report, downloaded more pictures, and sent a bunch up to photopoint. (They are at www.photopoint.com Go to my albums by entering wdw1972@aol.com in the appropriate box and then click on Fall 2001 WDW & Cruise album.) For whatever reason, I was not tired when I got home. I ate more of the marshmallow thingy and did some online stuff until about 1:30-2:00. I told Kathy I would be ready to go out at 8:30, so hopefully I can get some sleep! I noticed the Shriek family has either gone home or lost their voices - no noise from over there lately <g>.

Today was another wonderful day. Damn, I sure do love this being on vacation stuff, lol - and being on vacation here is the best! I'm loving having Kathy around, the wine, the near-perfect weather, the wine, meeting others for Comedy Warehouse, the wine, yummy food, and of course the wine <g>! I could definitely get used to this!

Miles Walked: 5.25 Day 6 - Wednesday, October 31st 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Kathy Ft Pierce Family

Where: Old Key West Resort (studio)

Plan: Park(s), Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I set the alarm for 6:30 and woke up then feeling refreshed. Breakfast was cappuccino and the rest of the pumpkin bread, then I stayed offline but got caught up reading most of what was downloaded last night. Today it is warmer this morning, so hopefully I can get by without dragging a jacket along. I went out on the porch and a long line of the white egrets were walking around the edge of the water - it appeared to be a mother with her children following (based upon their sizes). We have these birds all over my neighborhood at home, but I have never seen them walking single file like a family of ducks before <g>! They are really pretty birds - and that is spoken as someone who generally does not like birds at all (except from afar).

I should mention OKW is having all day trick or treating today at locations throughout the Hospitality House, and from 12-5 Community Hall is a Halloween Funhouse for all ages. They are supposed to have themed games, activities, prizes, etc...probably lots of fun for kids. This morning at 9 is the landscaping tour, for anyone interested in Florida plants and gardening. As at all of the DVC resorts, each day the resort has a variety of activities scheduled. Also today that new Character Caravan thing makes it's appearance twice this morning - something neither of us plans to attend <g>.

I checked in with Kathy and we decided to head to MK this morning. Neither of us had anything at WDW we *had* to do, so we are just hanging out. She was dreading the Disney buses, but going to MK there really is not a better way to get there, unfortunately. We left around 8:30 and brought each other up to date on any dirt/gossip we had heard since yesterday afternoon (including Gretchen discovering the Fortress Popsicle <g>). We ended up deciding to drive after all - we parked at the Grand Floridian and rode the monorail over to the MK. It did not save any time, but it did avoid one bus hassle.

At the MK we stopped to chat with some of Kathy's cm friends, and then entered the park about 9:30. It was not busy at all - much less busy than any previous day. Perhaps the warnings of doom & gloom about the world coming to an end today were keeping people away. We headed to Liberty Square and found the merchandise shops there do not open until 10am - who would have thought Disney would have a delayed opening on a shop <g>! There were very few people in Frontierland either, with both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder being walk-ons at this point. We went over to Big Thunder and I was able to walk on to a waiting train - one of the cast members hopped into the car ahead of me and took a ride as well, since the train was less than 1/2 full.

Next we walked into Country Bear Jamboree, where there were only 11 other guests! This show seemed different than I remembered, but it has been a long time since I had come here. We did the new Tiki Birds next. This attraction is not very good for people in wheelchairs, since there is no real designated place for them. The wheelchairs clog up the exit area - I am not sure why they did not cut out part of the benches to make room for wheelchairs when it closed for rehab last time.

We wandered around the shops and walked around the park for a while, riding only Space Mountain (10 minute standby wait posted). On the way out Kathy got her sons each a marshmallow thingy, then we rode the monorail over to Epcot. Our timing worked out perfectly - we walked onto the waiting monorail and at the TTC the Epcot monorail was waiting for us! The monorail is so much easier than the buses when someone is using a wheelchair.

At Epcot we checked at Innoventions West for information on today's wine seminars. Sometimes the information in the printed book changes, but today everything was scheduled the same as what was in the book. We decided to attend the 1pm seminar in the Terrace (by France & Morocco), so we walked towards Mexico and made our way around the World. I called into work as we walked, and found things were under control. We stopped in South Africa while I ate some sugar cane chicken, (delicious) and then continued walking. In France we checked on a wine we wanted to try, but they were not featuring it today :( We had assumed they have the same wines each day, but that is not the case. We had 30 minutes to kill before our seminar, so we went to Morocco and I got a glass of the white wine from there.

The 1:00 pm seminar was by Arcadian Winery in CA. We could tell immediately the speaker was not meant to be a public speaker.....it was so boring. Rather than talk about interesting information on the wine he talked about how the first wine we tried had 30 hectoliters per hector...whatever that means, and we learned how many ounces per cluster he prunes his fruit to. Yeah, real useful <g>. When he started talking about how they add coagulated milk to clarify the wine because the milk has negative iso-electric charges.......people began leaving in droves. The wine itself was ok - not something either of us would buy. Eventually we left also - we hated to be rude, but this was our vacation and we did not want to miss the next seminar.

We were glad to be out of there, and figured nothing could be that bad, lol - and rushed over to Innoventions West for a 2pm seminar by Lockwood Vineyard (CA).

This speaker was better, but nowhere near the same league as the speakers we enjoyed yesterday. If we had not been subjected to the previous speaker, we probably would have immediately declared this guy awful, but instead waited a while before coming to that conclusion. He went on about average rainfall, the hourly average daily temperatures in several cities, and all kinds of stuff that was not really useful. The seminar was only 1/2 full, and again a few people left early. We stayed until the end, although we did not drink the 2 samples of merlot....neither of us liked them. The seminars we did yesterday were mostly conducted by WDW cm's and they were excellent speakers and kept it interesting. Today our seminars were conducted by the winery/vineyard person, who is definitely not a public speaker and who focused on minutia of interest to other winery owners more so than wine consumers. Although, the person from Banfi did a good job - but still not as good as the guy from CA Grill and the one from Spoodles.

We left Epcot after this, and took the bus to Animal Kingdom. We had a terrific bus driver here :-) I boarded the bus first and explained a few specific needs, so when he boarded Kathy he just did what she needed without any hassles! He then got off the bus and a new driver came on, but he must have said something to her...she came back to check that we were ok, and asked if I was able to take care of things if anything happened. We assured her I could, and she drove us to AK. On the way I went behind Kathy's chair to get something out of her bag for her, and the driver saw me and was concerned something was wrong and we needed help - so we assured her everything was fine <g>. Didn't mean to scare her! When we arrived at AK I started undoing the tie-downs and she started raising the wheelchair lift - before I got off the bus. She told me I could just ride the lift with Kathy - there was just enough room for me to stand on there with her, and then the driver gave us a ride on the "Bus of Terror" - by making he lift go up and down a few times! LOL - she was so funny :-)

We entered the park and headed straight back to the Pangani Forest Trail, where we found Gus sitting in the cave. He popped his head up and keep an eye on Kathy, but did not rumble as much as yesterday - perhaps due to the presence of someone Gus is not real crazy about. The family was very active - Gino, his 2 women and their 3 kids - so we watched them for a while also. At 5 one of the keepers staged the other 3 bachelors (Zawadi, KJ and Spike) down near the waterfall so Gus could go into the backstage area with the stress of the younger boys. The keeper blows a horn to make a certain noise, and that is their cue to go to the staging area. Once there, she throws them a specially made treat that they can eat. When she gets the word that Gus is in, then she makes a gesture with her hands and that cues the other 3 that they can go in - and they run off to their bedrooms backstage. It was really cool to watch this. We spent an hour or so on the trail, just watching Gus mostly, and it was nice & peaceful back there.

By now the park was closed, so it was time to leave. This is the end of my time with Kathy for this trip - she's going back to Epcot then has to get her van from GF and will have an early night, then is working tomorrow and rehearsing tomorrow night. We parted company at the bus stop area, and I went to wait for the bus back to OKW. I must have just missed it, as it took almost 20 minutes for the next one to arrive. It was freezing cold, also! It's a good thing nobody got on at Blizzard Beach, or they would have really been uncomfortable! There was only 1 other family on the bus - a dad, mom & daughter. They sat up front near me and I was a bit surprised when the woman exposed herself and began nursing the daughter....the girl spoke in complete sentences and was already out of diapers, so I would guess she was around 3-4 years old. I guess it seemed strange that such an old child would still be nursing, but also that there was no attempt at keeping her breast covered on a public bus. Oh well...they seemed like a nice couple, and were headed to the Halloween party tonight so we talked about that.

Back in the studio (the bus went directly to our stop, since all 4 of us had the same stop) I updated the report and snacked on the marshmallow thingy before getting ready for Pleasure Island. I heard last night the costume contest was canceled for tonight, so I am not sure if the Ft Pierce family will still make the trip. For them they would be driving up here, spending the evening and then driving back home (couple of hours each way) so they can go to work tomorrow, and without the costume contest it could be just like any ordinary Wednesday.

I left the studio after 7 and parked at PI. As I entered the turnstiles Dan came up behind me and greeted me. The others were already inside - his wife Sue, adult daughter Kelly, and Kelly's boyfriend Alan. We exchanged hugs and I met Alan for the first time - nice guy. They had got some black Halloween beads from somewhere on PI and they gave me a couple of strands to wear. We pretty much got right into line. I was a bit uneasy - I knew our seats would be at the tables on the floor and mentioned this to them but they were all ok with it, so I did not suggest we hang back. What the heck - it is not my preferred row, but it beats being way in the back, or not being there at all! We had about 20 minutes or so to wait, but the time passed quickly since we were busy talking.

We were in the 2nd row of table seats, over by the keyboard. Carol was working tonight. In front of us was a couple who I have seen in the club before, and who were in one of the wine seminars with Kathy & me yesterday. She has some degree of Down Syndrome, and her husband may be disabled as well, but not to the same extent. Yesterday when she saw Kathy she was curious about the medical equipment, and like a young child came over to look and ask questions - which Kathy was glad to answer for her. During the wine seminar the master sommelier was talking about wine, and she mentioned she likes wine coolers, lol - it was really cute. Well, tonight Dan was wearing a devil's hat with 2 red horns sticking out of it, and she just loved that. She kept looking at him and blurted out to him loudly that "You're my hunk of man"! Poor Dan turned all shades of red, and we all laughed. There were some people in costumes - but the majority of guests wore regular clothing. The costume contest had been canceled, which was a disappointment.

The 8:00 show started - featuring Josh, Greg, Todd, Mary & Phillip. It was a good show - Kelly volunteered and went on stage for Fill In The Blank, which she loves to do. They also did Schmeopardy, with Phillip playing a doctor who only treats "dis knee"....not both knees, just dis knee. Greg was a dj - Spinning Marty, who claimed to be a party guy but played as a very monotonous character...it was funny.

We left right after the show and got in line for the 9:05. This time we were pretty far back, but could see well. Jake opened this show, and was joined by Phillip, Todd, Mary & Josh. They played several short structures this show, so it moved along really well and felt like they did a lot. Everyone did a great job tonight. On the way out I stopped to talk to Jake for a while. He just got married last month and I had not talked to him since before then. He had info from Layden at Hoop Dee Doo, and some of the others, so I was glad to chat with him. The others were waiting for me outside, so I said goodnight to Jake and left the club.

I decided to not stay for the 10:30 show, since I was a little tired and did not want to be up all night. Tomorrow I expect to stay out later, since it is my last night for Comedy Warehouse this trip and I'll be with Adie, Lisa and Leesa. Leesa has no ride home until 1am, but I doubt I will last as long as her!

Back in the studio I finished the marshmallow thingy and downloaded the online stuff while I finished the report. It was another great day (despite the boring wine seminars) and it went according to plan. I enjoyed seeing Dan, Sue & Kelly again, and meeting Alan. It'll feel so strange to be roaming around tomorrow without Kathy, but part of my day will be doing fun stuff like laundry, so perhaps she's better off working, lol! It is starting to feel like the trip is passing more quickly, and I just want it to slow down so it does not come to an end so soon! :-)

Miles Walked: 4.5 Day 7 - Thursday, November 1st 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Adie & Lisa Leesa

Where: Old Key West Resort (studio)

Plan: Park(s), Laundry, Comedy Warehouse w/Adie & Lisa

Actual: Time is flying by! I was up until after 1am, and still have some emails to reply to - definitely before I leave on the cruise, so if you are waiting to hear back from me I apologize for being so slow.

I did not set the alarm, but woke up around 7. There was no rush to be anywhere, and although I love my solo trips, after spending the last several days with Kathy it was kind of a bummer to be alone today :( I went to the Turtle Pond pool and did laundry early, sitting with a magazine while the clothes were washing, then returning to shower once I put them in the dryer. Breakfast was cappuccino and part of the chocolate/vanilla pretzel - same old thing <g>. I read all the messages downloaded last night, and just generally putzed around - in no hurry to get anywhere. About 10:20 I left to drive to Epcot, and checked at Innoventions West for the 11pm wine seminar.

It was featuring Italian wines, so I decided to wait and attend. The next seminar was the 1st one Kathy & I attended yesterday - no way was I going to repeat that, lol! The guests on either side of me had all lived in New Jersey at one time (me too) so we talked about that, and the time passed quickly.

The seminar was conducted by Aldo Rafanelli of Antinori, and he did a super job. He did not kill us with information on hectoliters and average rainfall, lol - instead he gave information someone wanting to drink wine would want, and he included enough humor that it was very enjoyable. They had 1 white and 3 red wines, and the white was a chardonnay that was only introduced in this country 2 days ago. All of them were pretty good, even though I do not ordinarily like reds. Of course, the more I drink, the easier it goes down <g>. Kathy - you would have liked this guy - he was pretty cool, and with his Italian accent he was fun to listen to :-)

Afterwards I went to Test Track but the cm said she did not think they were going to open the single rider line at all today. I told her the ride was not worth it without single rider line (standby was 35 minutes), and I left to go wander around. The Mission Space attraction construction is proceeding - I took a picture for photopoint. There is no sign with any anticipated opening date, though. Eventually I headed to World Showcase via the Odyssey, and arrived just as the rope dropped. I rode Maelstrom on the first boat of the day, which was fun. Today is an absolutely gorgeous day - sunny, breezy, around 80 degrees or so! I thought about going to Typhoon Lagoon, but Food & Wine was calling me <g>.

I walked around World Showcase and as I passed into America I heard my name called and recognized Marti working at the DVC booth!! She is so terrific - I went over to say hi & exchange hugs, and ended up staying there quite a while. It was so funny - she said she was going to call me at OKW because she had run into some DVC members entering the park and they asked if she was Marti, saying they had heard of her in Sue's reports....and Marti said "Sue Holland?" and they said yes. LOL - what a coincidence that then we run into each other. I met Marti on the Magic cruise last September, and hit it off right away. She is a wonderful cm...I noticed that even though we were talking, whenever a DVC member would pass by (recognized by either their clothing or the DVC pin) she would call out to greet them "hey DVC member", while most of the other cm's at the booth just stand there like lumps and do not initiate any contact with guests. She helped people with all kinds of non-DVC and even non-Disney related stuff while I was there as well. Dennis - I told her you said hi :-) She won't be on my cruise next week, unfortunately, but we hope to get together for Comedy Warehouse over Thanksgiving if she does not have to work. Eventually I had to leave to get to my 1pm wine seminar, so we said goodbye for now and I continued on.

This seminar was by Palmer Vineyards on Long Island, and was also very good. They had 2 whites (a gewürztraminer and a chardonnay) and 2 reds (merlot & cabernet franc). I liked everything but the merlot, and especially liked the gewürztraminer. That one wasn't for sale though, and they mostly distribute to the northeast, so it's unlikely I'll ever see it down here. Kathy - I learned Shiraz is an "aggressive" wine...meant to be drank with venison or other "aggressive" food. I enjoyed the seminar (especially having 2 servings of both of the whites) and was feeling no pain when I left <g>.

As I walked away, I ran into Adie & Lisa, who were sitting near the exit of the seminar. They said they met Marti, so I figured they were the people she entered the park with, but it turned out they had just recently met her....not at park opening. They were at the DVC booth and someone mentioned my name, and Marti said she knew me, so they asked where I had gone. Marti told them I had gone to a wine seminar, and they told her it figured - because I am a lush, lol! Marti said she'd be doing the same thing if she did not have to work, lol! So, Adie & Lisa were there waiting for me, and we sat around talking for a while. I'm so glad I ran into them :-) They had already seen Kathy over at Riverside, and had given her a mouse pad with a picture of Gus they had made for her - I can't wait to see it! Lisa had told me what they wanted to do several nights ago, and I sent her a picture to use. Eventually we headed out separate ways, but will be meeting later at Comedy Warehouse. It has been so great today finding Marti, and then Adie & Lisa!

I continued walking, and got a glass of wine at Morocco. As I passed America I stopped to talk to Marti again, and told her I had found Adie & Lisa <g>. While I was there I talked to a few prospective members, and at one point Kelly (luvmickey) and her dad John were walking by and came over to say hi! I was amazed at how many friends were here today, but was loving it. We talked for a little while - she planned her trip a whole 6 hours in advance, which may be a record! I talked to Marti for a little while longer, listened to Barrage play (good) and then left to continue walking.

In S Africa I got my sugar cane chicken. I was not hungry after all the wine, but figured some food would be a smart thing to do. It was a fairly small portion today, but that was good! I kept walking, and at Morocco got another wine. I think I could easily spend another week doing this - what the heck did I book the cruise for, lol? I kept walking back & forth around the countries, trying to get un-full. The park was pretty busy, but there were no real lines at the food kiosks, thank goodness. It was perfect! I sat on a bench in Canada and called my friend Tom in Gainesville. He has the same job as me in that location, so I wanted his perspective on some budget issues that will affect us both. He asked if I had gotten their email, but I had not - he & his wife are going to meet me & Sheila here tomorrow - great news! This day just keeps getting better and better <g>.

I finished my wine - the end of the alcohol until tonight at the Comedy Warehouse (my liver is saying thank you, lol) and continued walking around some more. The bridge was up next to China, so I decided to call it a day. I stopped at the Mexico kiosk for a quesadilla (these are *really* good) and ate it on my way out of the park. Stuffed, I returned to my car and drove back to OKW to update the report. Kathy got home just after I did, and called my room. I went down to visit with her for a while and saw the Gus mouse pad - very cute! Kathy headed off to her rehearsals, and I went back to get online briefly before going to meet friends at Comedy Warehouse.

Thursday 11/1

I drove over to PI, arriving about 6:30. At the Comedy Warehouse cm Joe was standing outside, so I asked him if he had seen Leesa. He thought I meant the Lisa who works there, and said she was inside and offered to get her for me. I figured out who he was talking about, lol, and explained which Leesa I was looking for, but he had not seen her. We talked for a while since there was nothing going on, and then I went to look for Leesa. Joe mentioned it is rumored that one of the clubs will be closing after the first of the year, and it could be Comedy Warehouse or Adventurer's Club. He thinks it is more likely to be Adventurer's Club because they are not making their budget and the Warehouse is.....I sure hope so, at least! I heard from another cm that the club to close is more likely to be Jazz, since they have already eliminated the food there (this week) and the entertainment is down to a single person several nights.

I did not see Leesa on the street, so I went into Jazz to talk to Nancy. She knew Leesa was at the movies, and asked if I had heard the news yet (about no food at Jazz). She will be transferring to cast meals at Pleasure Island, since she has enough seniority. Otherwise she would have had to go somewhere else - other than PI.

I headed back up the hill and found Joe, Leesa, Adie & Lisa standing around in the street talking to each other. Soon Joe had to get to work, and the rest of us joined the line when it was the right length. We ended up getting long row, the most perfect seats :-) Before the show Adie & Lisa slid a bag over to me, with a birthday present inside. Anyone who knows them already knows that they are the most thoughtful people out there, but it bears repeating! They had put together a gift bag - I first found some packets of my favorite hot chocolate, some Hershey bars, cappuccino, and a couple of milk chocolate lollipops. I pulled one out to see what it was shaped as, figuring it was Mickey or some character, and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what it was, LOL! I unknowingly pulled it out of the bag and was holding it up in front of me - and it was a penis (with the related parts)! They said they didn't understand why anyone would want one <g>, but searched and found them online. I then noticed a mug in the bag, and once again assumed it was a Disney mug - guess I was naive tonight or something. It was not a Disney mug - it was a Layden mug! It's so cute - they pulled a couple of pictures of him from CW and Hoop from my photopoint site and put them on the mug along with the caption "Lifelong Layden Fan" - LOL! Leesa was in awe - that mug is one of a kind, and the entire birthday bag was a wonderful surprise :-) Thanks again, Adie & Lisa!

After I stowed the chocolate male reproductive organs away, the show began. Jake opened, joined by Phillip, Jeanette, Todd & Krista. It got off to a pretty slow start, thanks to doing Fill In The Blank with a child audience volunteer on stage. The actors would touch the kid for a suggestion and most of the time the kid would not say anything.....we all kind of groaned when the kid got chosen, but it was a small crowd and none of the other adults was raising their hand. Thankfully, they did Schmeopardy next and Phillip stole the show as a really whiny little boy who complained about everything. He is so funny.....wild, but funny <g>!

After the show we talked to Dee (server) - Adie & Lisa befriended her on their last trip and they all share a love of cats. Leesa was off talking to some of the other servers, and Todd came over to talk to me. I was surprised he knew my name, and I surprised him by telling him I was not a local. He assumed I live here because he's seen me so often - but this was the first time we have ever talked beyond a brief hello/goodbye. He's a really nice guy, recently married, new to the area, etc, and we talked about all sorts of things until it was time to start seating for the 2nd show.

Leesa was slowing down and was going to try to walk up the ramp to get to the regular line (stairs were out of the question), but we told her to stay put and use the back door, because otherwise she would not have made it. All night she had trouble with the paralysis, at times moving pretty well, but at other times being immobile. We went back to our same seats, and Jaime brought her ice so she could take some meds. This was the 8:15 show, with Jeanette, Todd, Jake, Mary & Phillip. They did Forgotten Songs, and Mary did an outstanding one titled "Drinking My Way Around Epcot"....wonder who suggested that <g>?? She got tremendous applause when she finished - it was both difficult musically as well as lyrically, and very clever. They also did Emotions, where they change the emotion of each actor while maintaining the continuity of the scene. It was a very good show :-)

We went outside and Dave (another regular) arrived and joined us. We chatted until it was time to go inside and all sat together in long row. This show (9:20) featured Greg, Jake, Jen K, Krista & Todd. They started with the name rhyme game....they asked for a one-syllable name and some girl raised her hand and said "Sarah", lol! Most of the show was devoted to them creating a new Broadway musical, starring Greg, Krista and Jen K with her funky teeth as the dysfunctional son of the stripper Krista who was at Greg the fired brain surgeon's garage sale. Greg had to explain to Jen's character how sex is like a horse, and do it in a song. He did this wild song, with the repeating part being "Whip it hard" - as he pretended to use a whip and did a bunch of pelvic thrusts. The audience went wild, and we were laughing so hard our faces hurt! It was hysterical - the entire show was excellent!

After the show Greg came over to talk to me...we were still standing in our row, so he came over to the stools below and talked over the railing. I told him his song was hysterical, and he asked "which song", and I did not want to say Whip It Hard, lol, so I just said the sex song <g>. He said he doesn't usually push it that far <g>, and he's right, but it sure was funny! He wished me a happy birthday, and I showed him some of the *gifts*, lol! I knew he wouldn't be offended - not after singing a sex song about whipping it hard, that is <g>. He mentioned he will be hosting a talk show with Linda Dano at the Super Soap thing this weekend. Last year I saw (actually I *heard*...it was too mobbed to *see*) Mary hosting one of those shows.

We went back outside. Adie & Lisa left so Lisa could watch her Yankees in the World Series. It was great seeing them again :-) Leesa & I went in for 4th show (10:40), which featured Jen K, Greg, Mary, Phillip & Jeanette. As usual on a later show on Thursday cast night Jen K was met with thunderous applause just for walking onto the stage - she has a huge following with cast members (no surprise - she is excellent). She opened the show and did the phone thing, getting a guest from DC on the phone who is a fund raiser for the Republican party (insert joke about how republicans are the only ones who can afford to come to WDW) and his interests included his wife and church....when Jen did her verse she told the guy he wasn't going to get any money out of her because she is a lesbian Jew - an unexpected comment but it got a big reaction <g>! They also did a funny musical this show, and did Up Your Alley. Jen was the host for Up Your Alley - Oliver Clothesoff, lol. The subject was cooking, and Phillip came out as Julia Child, and was hysterical as usual. The guest who suggested cooking was on stage as the *expert*, and mentioned being from Puerto Rico - so Phillip in his Julia Child voice perked up and claimed to have lost her virginity to a Puerto Rican back in the war years....with his voice, gestures and dress it was really funny. It was another excellent show - tonight was a great night for comedy!

When the show was over, we waited in our row for the crowd to clear, and Mary came over to talk over the railing. The current edition of Orlando Weekly just came out, and there is a letter in there written by Mark (former Warehouse actor) and she thought I especially would like his letter, based on conversations/emails we've shared. Hmmmm, I trust her judgment, so now I need to find this darn paper before I sail off to the Caribbean! She mentioned a few places to look, so at least that will help! I found the website, but that is not as complete as the actual paper and I could not find any letters or anything by Mark. Greg walked by and shouted to have a great cruise...that should be easy to manage <g>. Leesa & I left, and she saw Nancy had called so I walked down to Jazz with her to make sure she got there ok. We chatted with Nancy briefly, but I could not wait to get out of that club due to some people smoking - it was really hard to breathe that disgusting fog of carcinogens.

I decided to skip the late show, since I had a lot to do still, but Leesa went back for it. Hopefully it was as good as the other shows tonight :-) I drove back to OKW and packed up most of my stuff, then finally sat down to finish the report while eating one of my chocolate lollipops. I have a bunch of Warehouse pictures to download also, and I usually share any really good ones with those particular actors, but not tonight - it can wait until after the cruise since time is running out! It was 2am before I even began posting or downloading pictures, so sleep will end up being a nap. I can always catch up on my lounge chair on the cruise - and we can sleep in on Saturday morning since we are spending Friday night at the port.

Today was a fantastic day! I loved seeing so many friends, and was thrilled that all the shows tonight were so good. The wine seminars were also good, and it was a very enjoyable day wandering around Epcot.

Miles Walked: 4 Day 8 - Friday, November 2nd 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Sheila, 42 Tom & Leanne, DVC members Kim & Chris (Tom & Leanne's daughter & grandson)

Where: Radisson Resort at the Port (1br suite)

Plan: Meet Sheila at Epcot, Food & Wine, drive to Radisson

Actual: Before going to bed at 2 I changed the alarm from 6:30 to 7:30, but ended up waking up at 7 anyway. After showering & dressing I brought some stuff to the car and drove around trying to find that Orlando Weekly paper - with no success. Most people I asked had no clue, but nobody knew where I could get one :( I got gas while I was out, so at least I got something done <g>. Back in the studio around 9, I got online to check directions to the hotel tonight. I did what I should have done right from the start regarding that Orlando Weekly also - asked Mary to just send a copy of Mark's letter to my home. I am curious to see what he wrote.

I made cappuccino and finished the chocolate/vanilla pretzel for breakfast, and finished packing up my stuff and getting ready for the day. I left the studio by 9:45 and ran into the housekeeper walking out of Kathy's studio with the jacket to her costume (work uniform). Kathy's van was gone, so I knew she must have accidentally left it behind. I talked to the housekeeper - with difficulty due to a language barrier, and determined that the jacket would be left at OKW lost & found. I knew I would not be in the same place as her, and since I was meeting people I couldn't run around searching for her. She wanted to know about the gift from Adie & Lisa - she had seen it earlier that day but had been sworn to secrecy, just as I had kept her mouse pad a secret <g>. Today she got stuck at her studio - the housekeeping cart was parked in the spot where her wheelchair lift comes down from the van, so she was trapped. I do not know if I was around to call (or was out searching for Orlando Weekly) - if so, I could have found the person who parked there, but she ended up waiting 35 minutes until someone with a key came by. Because of that she never got to see Gus this morning :(

I parked at the Hospitality House and went to the payphone to call Kathy and let her know about her jacket. On the way out I stopped at bell services and gave all the chocolate Halloween candy to Angelo for the people who work there. I saw no point in bringing it on the ship, and then having it melt in the car next Saturday while we were back at the Food & Wine Festival again - I barely ate any during my WDW week, and sure as hell was not going to be eating that stuff during my cruise with all the other options available! After talking to Angelo for a little while I went to the bus stop and rode to Epcot.

I entered Epcot around 10:15 and saw huge crowds of school-aged kids on field trips. There were lots of people at the turnstiles but it moved pretty quickly. Security did not spot the chocolate lollipop in my bag, thank goodness! There was a long line at Spaceship Earth, so I went to the Land and walked right on the Living With The Land boat ride. Afterwards I browsed through MouseGear and Sheila had arrived at our meeting spot when I returned. Soon Tom, Leanne, Kim & Chris arrived. They encountered a longer than expected delay checking in to All Star Movies (go figure....slow service at All Stars?? <g>). They got the $49 rate & decided to save the 118 DVC points they were using this weekend.

I gave Sheila one of the issued-issued Mickey head flag pins Leesa had gotten, making her an honorary member. She loved the pins when she saw mine - she happened to be at my place the day they arrived. We all agreed the DVC version of the pin is nicer looking than the regular one - not that we are biased or anything <g>.

We went to ride Test Track, but it was down due to technical difficulties. Instead, we saw the movie in the Land - Circle of Life. That's a great movie :-) By now World Showcase was almost ready to open so we headed back there. When we got to America we went in to see the first showing of the American Adventure (12:30), along with maybe 20-30 other people. It was early enough in the day that I did not snooze through part of it - I enjoy the attraction, but it is so long and the seats are comfortable enough that the music makes me sleepy. When we came out the others wanted lunch, and they wanted to eat at a regular place. Sheila & I were sticking with the food kiosks since the festival was going on, but we walked around with them for a little while as they searched for which counter service place they wanted. Tom & Leanne ended up getting something at Somerfest in Germany, while Kim took Chris back to America. They were headed to watch Off Kilter after that.

Sheila & I said our goodbyes to the others and set about to sample some food & wine stuff. We shared a sugar cane chicken in S. Africa, which was delicious (her first time). Later we walked to Mexico and shared one of the quesadilla, which she also really liked. By now it was 1:30, so I suggested we do the 2:00 wine seminar. We went over to Innoventions West and waited for the seminar to start.

It was a Taste of Germany - some of the alleged best quality German wines. Rudi Wiest of Cellars International talked about what makes a really fine wine and the differences of various white wines. We had 3 Rieslings and 1 spatlese. These particular wines are served in the California Grill, Emeril's and other 5-star restaurants. My phone rang during the seminar, so I grabbed it and ran outside without disrupting the seminar. My boss was on the phone - I'd told her to hang on while I moved outside and explained that I was furthering my education at a wine seminar. She laughed and asked wasn't I at a wine seminar last time too?? LOL - anyway, the good news is she feels comfortable with me not staying online next week after all and asked when I would be back again....and she commented that my cruise was *just* another week. It was a refreshing change for her to be so calm....rather than worried about my absence, and that's mostly due to a probable reprieve from the FL Legislature where our funding is concerned....at least for the next couple of weeks or months. So, I will not be paying $90 for internet access and therefore will not be posting from the ship. Staying connected via email would be important if something important was going on - which could be a selling point in the future <g>. Anyway, this will most likely be the last post until late on 11/10/01.

I returned to the seminar and joined the tasting. The dry wine was too dry for either of us, and the sweet one (spatlese) was too sweet. We both liked the other 2 Rieslings, though and decided to get one to drink on the ship. Of the 2 we both agreed either would be acceptable, but we differed on which 1 of the 2 was our favorite. After the seminar we went to look at them and since my choice was $7 less we decided to go with that one - a Munchhor Estate Riesling. The cm wrapped it in tissue & put it in a box for us. We went out and wandered around World Showcase again, and in Germany I bought an inexpensive corkscrew so we would not have to mess with finding one on the ship.

We were pretty much done at that point, but stopped & did the single rider line at Test Track on the way out. Sheila drove me back to OKW to pick up my car, then followed me to Port Canaveral. I ate the 2nd chocolate pop in the car, but not while at the toll booths! We ran into drizzly rain several times, and it was downright gloomy when we arrived at the Radisson. There was a line checking in, but it moved pretty quickly. The guy who checked us in was lacking in customer service skills, but went through the motions. We signed up for the shuttle to the port - 11:20 was the first available time. Actually we will probably drive the checked luggage over there before then, and probably leave me there - with Sheila coming back on the shuttle without her luggage.

We went to our suite - which the front desk guy said faces the ship. We are on the first floor though, so I am not sure what we will see. The suite has a funky smell to it - not sure what it is (not smoke). It is 2 rooms - the first is a living room & kitchen combination. There is a desk, big-screen TV, sleep sofa, easy chair & ottoman, glass dining table with 4 wicker chairs (did you know Wendy is the patron saint of wicker??? Interesting trivia <g>), and mini-kitchen. The other room has a set of double French doors and is the bedroom - with 2 king beds, another TV, a huge Jacuzzi tub in the actual bedroom, and a small bathroom. The bathroom has a toilet and large shower stall, with the sink area outside the bathroom. It is attractively decorated, and kind of cute & homey, but I am glad it is only for 1 night. We paid $129 plus tax, and that includes parking for both cars (which would have cost $112 at the port), so really the *cost* to us was $17 divided by two. I took some pictures of the room and sent them to photopoint. Besides the suites they also have standard rooms at a lower price.

We wandered around to see the hotel - not much to see <g>. We watched the 6pm news to get the latest hurricane update, not sure if it will alter our itinerary at all - and not caring if it does. We decided neither of us wants to bother with St Maarten this time anyway, so assuming we make it there we will remain on the ship while everyone else goes ashore. Anything else that we miss is no big deal - there will be many more cruises in the future :-) and just being on the ship is far more important to us than being at some island.

Later we rode down to Publix and got dinner and some fruit for breakfast in the morning. Neither of us felt like bothering with a restaurant! Sheila got Lean Cuisine & I got Healthy Choice - good stuff, but not typical vacation food!

We spent the evening in the suite playing a word game. Since we were here rather than at the Comedy Warehouse, and Adie & Lisa were at the Comedy Warehouse, we called them a different name for each letter of the alphabet <g>. What goes around, comes around, Adie - but hopefully you had some good shows! Mary at Comedy Warehouse sent me Mark's letter in an email, and I later saw a post on radp and on Fortress on the same subject - Mark was featured in an article on the fired actors. He's an incredibly talented man, and it is a shame Disney has treated him this way. I have no doubt he will find something else and do well - and it'll be the Disney guests who are the losers in the long run :( His letter was full of details that never made it into the article & did an excellent job of pointing out the erosion of quality at Disney due to too much emphasis on the short-term bottom line, which is damaging the future. It raises a lot of the same points I mentioned in some of my past letters (which I do not think Mary has seen), so obviously I think it's a great letter <g>. I just hate to see anyone as talented as Mark treated so poorly, since it violates everything Disney knows is the right thing to do.

The day went according to plan, with the added bonus of seeing Tom, Leanne & the others. The weather kind of stunk (cloudy, drizzly), and I would rather be at the Comedy Warehouse than sitting here typing this, but overall it was a good day :-) The rest of the report will be posted the night of November 10th. Until then, everyone have a great week - I sure plan to! Day 9 - Saturday, November 3rd 2001 Who: Sue, 42, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Radisson Resort at the Port (1-BR Suite)

Plan: CRUISE!!!

Actual: Last night I was in bed around midnight, after a busy night of email & reading the day's message board posts. It will be strange to be offline for a week, but in a way I am looking forward to it (just not looking forward to getting caught up).

I heard Sheila get up around 6:30 and since I was awake I got up just after that. She was out in the living room watching TV - we could see on the news (live cam) the ship was in port, but being on the ground floor even though we face the port we cannot see the ship through the buildings. Oh well, we will see it soon enough :-) Breakfast was cappuccino/hot chocolate and the fruit we bought last night. Neither of us wanted to eat much since there is so much food on the cruise - that's the one downside of cruising...too much food. The hotel is pretty noisy - lots of noise from people in the halls, upstairs, etc, and the door to the building is right by our door and it slams shut. It didn't keep me from sleeping, but I am curious to see what is upstairs since it sounds like a bowling alley <g>!

I got online and talked to Darla, then the DVC cruise master Rich! I ended up losing my aol connection again (happened last night), so I just said "screw it" and stayed offline from that point. We brought our luggage out to Sheila's car, since we'll be driving over to drop it off later, and then watched the weather. The hurricane could make things interesting, which I am looking forward to - any change to the routine can be fun, and I have no fears about our safety - from weather, anthrax, or anything else! I checked out about 9, and the staff said the terminal should be open for dropping off luggage. We drove over to the port and found the terminal will not accept luggage until 10:30, so we went back to the Radisson to wait.

Sheila watched TV while I read the newspaper that was at the door this morning - and found the article about Mark (noticed his picture). LOL, I swear I've seen this article a half dozen times in different places since last night - thank you to everyone who posted it or sent me a link to the story. I actually had heard about him being laid off a day or so after it happened, but had not heard all the details until I read his letter last night (most of which was not picked up in the article).

The weather was not real good - sunny one minute, cloudy and drizzling the next. It was very windy, and pretty humid. We went back to the port at 10:30 and dropped off the luggage and water with the porters, then I went up to the terminal while Sheila went back to the Radisson and rode the shuttle over. Check in took a while due to 2 large parties ahead of me (only 2 stations are open in the Castaway Club section). The cm checking me in was from the city I was born in, and her mom still lives in the town I grew up in, which was a funny coincidence! My check-in took just a few minutes, and then I went to sit in line to board the ship (about an hour wait). Eventually Sheila arrived and joined me in line.

We got to talking to a DVC couple (new BW owners, never been there though) in line with us and as we were walking in she asked if I was Sue....and about banana bread <g>. She reads the reports (nice meeting you, Jessica). I think she said this was their first cruise. Boarding the ship was painless, and soon we were being announced onto the ship. We headed to our stateroom and dropped off our carryon bags. The message notifying me of the $150 shipboard credit (from DVC) was on the account, and there was a tote bag on the bed. Like an idiot, I thought the steward had left his bag behind, but when I later looked at it, there was a card with my name on it - it is my repeat cruiser gift. We met our steward, and asked him who we would need to talk to about getting one for Sheila, since she's a repeat cruiser as well, and he said he'd talk to his manager. Since we are not a *couple*, we each need to have our own.

We headed downstairs for lunch in Parrot Cay and were seated with 3 other people who we had seen in line behind us - Sheila, hubby Mark & cousin Brian. They were lots of fun - friendly, good sense of humor - and we enjoyed meeting them. I tried the Jamaican beef turnover (like an empanada) that was so good I ate the whole thing. The chocolate mousse was ok, but not good enough to justify the calories. I tried the chilled orange/mango soup, but the mango taste was too strong for me. Sheila ate what she liked, and loved the blueberry cheesecake (and brought me back one of those yummy but huge chocolate chip cookies). Brian was claiming a cm said his piece of the blueberry cheesecake was too small and gave him another one, and we teased him about that *not* being true...that in fact he has 2 because they slapped his hand when he reached for the 3rd one <g>. It was fun :-) Hopefully we'll see them again - Sheila said she might give us her stateroom number so we can call to get her butt out of bed for the mile walks, depending on how she does!

We left them and went to walk around. Palo's was open for reservations so we went up there and booked Tuesday at 6pm. This way we can get to the movie (Tues night is movie premiere night - showing Monsters) at 8:15. I looked at the menu, and was thrilled to see my favorite wine (from Le Cellier) on the menu!! Yay - I love that wine, so this is perfect. None of the entrees really appeal to me, but I can make a meal of the tomatoes & mozzarella cheese, and the warm chocolate hazelnut soufflé with vanilla sauce - maybe throw in a small green salad so it does not look like Sheila is eating alone. Most guests were booking Monday night, and some of those seatings were sold out by the time we got up there (15 minutes after it started).

We went out and walked some more, taking pictures and enjoying the sunny weather. The clouds had pretty much disappeared, but it was still windy. About 2 we went back to the stateroom to check on the luggage, but only the water and Sheila's garment bag had arrived. Eventually her suitcase came, but no sign of my stuff yet. She had to figure out how to open the door to the veranda, since I was trying to open it out and the door slides to the side <g>. We are in stateroom 7556 - category 5. It is located on deck 7 (obviously), mid-ship very close to the elevators & stairs, and we have a veranda. The DCL verandas are really tiny - especially compared to those on HAL (Holland America). On HAL there is a lounge chair & a sitting chair with table, but here on DCL there is just room for 2 small sitting chairs. It is only about four feet deep.

We looked over the stuff in the stateroom, and Sheila filled out the paperwork signing us up for the St John Eco-Hike on Wednesday morning. We also booked our float rentals for Castaway Cay. Finally my first suitcase arrived, so I was able to partially unpack. Unfortunately the cable for the digital camera was in the missing bag, so I was unable to download the pictures taken so far. As I was going down to drop off our shore excursion form a man a few doors down brought me my other bag - it had been delivered to his stateroom by mistake.

I unpacked and then went down to drop off the shore excursion form. One of the nice things about being a repeat cruiser is we both already know where everything is, so we are not wandering around lost! The only problem was when I though Palo was forward and Sheila insisted it was at the stern - and she was right. At 4 they did the mandatory lifejacket drill - always the worst part of the cruise. The drill was not too bad in November - compared to August & September <g>.

After dropping off our lifejackets we went up to the Sail Away party on deck 9. We stood up on deck 10 to watch the festivities, where we had a better view. The characters came out just before we sailed, then the horn sounded with When You Wish Upon a Star and we were off.....

It was very breezy and getting kind of cold. I may abandon my usual practice of staying in dress clothes all night in favor of wearing a sweatshirt later at night! About 5:30 we returned to the stateroom to dress for dinner. Dinner tonight was in Lumiere's - we have the same rotation as last year, presumably because we are once again traveling without kids. Tonight's dress was listed in the Navigator as casual, even for this restaurant, but we really only packed dress clothes. I may do it more casual next time, since Disney is clearly headed rapidly down that road.

We were seated at a table for 10 (I had requested a large table, no kids) and soon were joined by a party of 4. The other 4 seats remained vacant, so we were kind of strung around the long side of the table, making conversation difficult for the people on the ends. We met Tim, his wife Barb, his Aunt Bea and his Aunt Bern. Bea & Bern are sisters, and I was shocked to learn Bea is 84 and Bern is 82! I would guess Bea to be *maybe* 64....not 84! According to Tim, they're both lots of fun...very lively! It is their first cruise ever, and they are here on a cm deal because a relative is a Disney animator here on the ship to draw characters for a few days. We had a nice time with them, although I mostly talked to Tim since I was sitting next to him. For some reason on cruises I spend more time with the husbands.....preferring the company of men I guess (but not the same way I prefer Maria's husband, lol).

We met our servers - Sylvester and Gregor....Sylvestor is very funny. He told us his mother was cooking in the kitchen for us, and gave us his recommendations on what she does best. He encouraged everyone to order more if they wanted more, and in fact did bring Tim 2 desserts.

I started with Sylvester's recommended Camembert Fritters (fried cheese, but round rather than sticks), which were unusual but good. The portion of this seemed pretty large - 3 fritters, and I only managed 1.5 of them. Sheila got the shrimp cocktail appetizer, which she enjoyed. For a main course I got the ravioli - boring, but I did not want beef and do not really like seafood. They were ok - I had them last year. Sheila got the herb crusted sea bass on a bed of spinach with champagne sauce, and said it was excellent. Most of the others got the garlic roasted tenderloin and garlic mashed potatoes, except Bern got the lamb. For dessert I ordered the grand Marnier soufflé, which Sheila got last year & I really liked. It is a vanilla soufflé, with chocolate sauce, and was very good. She got the torte with hazelnut bottom, chocolate mousse and raspberry. She loved it, and Tim thought it looked so good he got one after his apple tart dessert.

We were stuffed...and soon I was really uncomfortable. I guess the last week I had not eaten much, so today was a shock to my system.....no wine & lots of food <g>. A storm started while we were eating, and rain was blowing all around us - we were unable to go out on deck. The ship was rocking more than I have ever experienced on DCL, due to the effects of the hurricane. It was fun to watch everyone staggering from one side of the hall to the other as the ship would roll! The bridge report shows waves 8-13 feet, as opposed to 4-5 feet last year. Sheila wears a patch when she cruises, but I have never gotten seasick and do not take any precautions. Even with the rough seas, I do not expect to have any problem - rather, I see it as an adventure <g>!

We stopped by the shops and looked around, and I got the last 2 of a special Halloween cruise pin for a pin trader friend. Some guy came up after me and sighed that he had been looking everywhere for those (he had a huge pile of other pins in his hands), so it was lucky I checked when I did. After shopping we went to the Internet Cafe because they were having a free hour of service - I guess to get you hooked. I read my mail and sent a couple emails, then left so others could use it. While I was there Vicki recognized me as she was walking by & came over to introduce herself. We will meet (again) at the Castaway Club reception later this week.

Sheila & I went to the 8:30 Welcome Aboard Variety Show - noticing the wind howling outside on deck 4! It was tough walking down to our seats, as there are no railings and the ship was moving quite a bit. The silvery curtain hanging at the back of the stage was just swinging back & forth, and the entertainers lost their balance at times (not to the extent that they fell or anything like that). The show itself was ok....not as good as the entertainers last year. It was geared to all ages though, so some of it was a bit much for adults <g>. Afterwards we sat while the crowds left, watching people swerve to the side and lean down to hold onto the seat backs while climbing the stairs when the boat would rock.

We decided to skip Mickey Mania - a game show. If it was for adults only, we might have gone, but the rocking of the ship was making us both tired and spending the evening with kids was not on our list of things we wanted to do - no offense to parents....we did our time with young kids and now enjoy that those days are over <g>! We went to the stateroom and were glad to see that our steward set up both beds - last year we had to tell our guy we wanted 2 beds - geesh, it's not like I'm cruising with Maria or something <g>!

We made one more trip up on to deck 9 to get coffee cups for our morning cappuccino & hot chocolate. They have 24 hour milk, coffee, tea, and most importantly - Styrofoam cups - up at the beverage station. The pools were sloshing all over the place, spilling onto the deck. It was pretty cool - I hope the pictures look ok on the computer :-) We staggered back to our stateroom and decided to call it a night. Sheila read for a while and I finished the report and downloaded the latest pictures.

Tonight we turn the clocks ahead 1 hour, since the Caribbean does not observe daylight savings time. Also - there is no alarm clock in the stateroom this year, which is disappointing. We have no room service menu, either. We'll have to ask the steward tomorrow, in case we want to order something. We also need to get wine glasses to use with the wine we bought in Epcot.

That's it for today - I hope to get to bed early for me, and am looking forward to a couple of days at sea (assuming the weather cooperates). Day 10 - Sunday, November 4th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - Verandah Stateroom #7556

Plan: Birthday, Day at Sea, Formal Night

Actual: The ship settled down after we went to bed last night. I was looking forward to more movement, but it almost seemed like a regular night - just slightly more rocky. The bridge report is still showing "rough" seas of 8-13 feet, but I think the ship has slowed down. Most likely last night we were rushing to cover as much ground as possible to get south of where the hurricane would pass, and from past experience when a ship really speeds up it gets much more unstable than when traveling at normal speed. I missed having a clock in the room - when I woke up I had no idea if it was almost time to get up or if it was only 2am! Mickey called at 7 (6 our time) to let us know it was time to get up. Sheila took the sofa bed again, which she said was very comfortable (Kathy reported the same thing, so I did not feel badly about having the real bed for the 2nd time). Actually, from her bed, Sheila looks outside since we left the drapes open. I went out on the veranda at 7, but it was too dark yet to see much besides some whitecaps. Sunrise is 7:18 today. When it did lighten up, we saw it was very cloudy - at least for now.

I heated the hot water and we had cappuccino & hot chocolate, and watched CNN briefly until it was time to head for the 8:00 Fat burner Aerobics in the spa. Sheila gave me a travel candle set and a Captain Mickey (to remember cruising on my birthday). For months now my son Chris' dad (ex-husband) has been saying I was going to *love* my birthday gift....that I would be elated, ecstatic, etc....and would never guess what it is. He's right - I have no clue what it is that would be that great. Sheila knows, and she agrees he's right - so I will have to wait until I get home to see what the heck it is!

We headed up to the spa just before 8, and joined the dozen or so others for the class. It was not terribly strenuous, but not losing your balance with the ship's movement was pretty challenging <g>! The class lasted about 45 minutes, and then we went to meet for the Walk a Mile on deck 4. There was a pretty good group for this also - but everyone goes at their own pace so it does not matter how big or small the group is. A mile is 4 laps around and I wore the pedometer to check it. After walking we did the cool down stretches and then walked around up on deck 10. The Mickey (kids) pools was really choppy - it had whitecaps, lol! Some guest was joking that they would be bringing surfboards to the Mickey pool later <g>! Few people were on deck, due to the wind.

We went to Topsiders and got some breakfast. They make waffles & omelets to order, and have the regular buffet stuff. There is also a bar with big fat blueberries and all kinds of less common fruit. I just got a little scrambled eggs and a piece of bacon, and 1/2 bagel. It was ok - nothing special. Perhaps tomorrow I'll have an apple with peanut butter, since I saw peanut butter on that fruit bar. Neither of us wanted to eat much, knowing we have the DVC reception with food right before our formal dinner - which includes the warm chocolate lava cake!

Back at the stateroom, it had not been cleaned yet. Tomorrow we will put out the "service stateroom" sign when we leave for our Ultimate Muscle Sculpt class (we picked up a schedule of all the classes at the spa this morning). Since laying by the pool was not an option, we sat out on the veranda and read for a while. Just before 11:30 we went to the Buena Vista Theatre for a Disney Behind the Scenes thing. Ralph Kent (who happens to be the cousin of our tablemates) is discussing the artists role in Walt Disney's vision as well as insights into Walt himself. Ralph was hired by Walt, and worked with him for many years. He actually wrote to Walt as an 8 year old boy and said he wanted to work for him. Walt wrote back and said he currently did not have any openings for an 8 yr old, but that he promised to write back any time Ralph wrote to him - and that began a regular correspondence. Walt encouraged him to go to art school, and then to get his military service out of the way, then gave him a job.

The seminar covered from the creation of Mickey Mouse through the development of the theme parks, and was very interesting. He showed some clips of Walt - most different from what is currently being shown at the Walt attraction in the Studios. He said Walt was constantly changing his ideas, and loved any new technology. Ralph is due to retire soon, and will be writing a book full of anecdotal information on Walt and the theme parks, and will print some of his letters in the book. The book will talk about the artist's role in designing everything from the Disney name tag to the Grand Floridian (Ralph's team is the one who designed the GF concept and resort). We both enjoyed the seminar - it was so much better than the thing we sat through last time!

After the seminar we noticed the waves were huge from deck 5. Up top they appear smaller, but down here their size appears massive! We checked on our stateroom and it was still not cleaned, so I put the "service" tag out and we headed up to deck 9. The pools were sloshing wildly and I went up to deck 10 to videotape it - and nearly got blown over by the wind. It was pretty much deserted up there, since the winds were so strong it was not very safe. Sheila went to get some hot chocolate - a first on a Caribbean cruise!

We stopped at Topsiders to look at the Italian buffet - nothing special really. We did stop at the pasta station where they cook pasta to order. I got a small portion of linguine with chicken, tomatoes and Alfredo sauce - very good, but filling. She got some penne pasta with red basil sauce and chicken. Neither of us finished the pasta - we were too stuffed, but it was very good. Sylvester & Gregor were working near our table and we talked to each of them.

At 1:30 we did the 2nd of the Behind the Scenes seminars for today - a tour of the Walt Disney Theater. It was also very interesting, and several of the key people talked about their department's (stage manager, costume dept, technical dept) role in putting on the shows. Not all of the effects could be demonstrated, because tonight's Hercules the Muse-ical show had been canceled due to the severe rocking of the ship, so the stage had been set for Mouseketeer and that blocked access to some of the stuff normally demonstrated. They will try to do Hercules tomorrow if the seas are calmer. No loss if they do not - I really do not care to see it again.

We learned each cast on the ship (entertainment cast) is together for about 9 months. They rehearse in Toronto for 7-8 weeks, then spend 2 weeks on the ship crossing over with the outgoing cast, and then perform for 6 months. The theater has 60 speakers - total surround sound. The C'est Magique show is gone (thank goodness - we both hated that thing) and the new show premieres this cruise - Morty the Magnificent (a musical comedy with magic). The costume department is 3 people, and they do at least 70 loads of laundry per day for the entertainers and characters. Whew!

When the seminar was over they let people go backstage to see things up close, but I have spent enough time backstage elsewhere that it was not something I needed to do (Sheila said the same thing). We each got a Behind the Scenes poster and a fact sheet about the theater, then we began the climb up the stairs to the exit - weaving back and forth as the boat rocked, lol!

Our next activity was the 3pm Arms & Abs class, but it was canceled due to the boat rocking. In it's place they did an Abs, Hips & Thighs class - since that was done on the floor rather than standing up. Sheila decided to not stay, and returned to the stateroom to shower. I did the class - it was great, and when it was over (3:45) went down for my shower. Tonight is formal night, the dressiest night of the cruise :-) Sheila wore a long dress - halter top style with blue glitter - very pretty. I wore a short black velvet dress with gold lame trim & spaghetti straps, with a matching gold lame short jacket.

We arrived at the 4:45 DVC Social Hour in Rockin' Bar D shortly after it started, and found a table. I was shocked and disappointed at the changes since last year. No more nice buffet with beautiful ice carvings and imaginative hors d'oeuvres. Instead, we had a bowl of pretzels. Some other people had peanuts, and a few had chips & salso! Yuck-o!! Last year we had wine and champagne. This year we had rum punch - not very good. Damn - we wanted wine, so we could hold onto the wine glasses for later use with our wine from Epcot.

They did trivia questions - but no skill was required at all. I won 2 koozie cups with 2 DVC key chains because my birthday happened to be today, and Sheila won a really nice DVC fanny pack for being from Delaware. Lots of prizes were given out, but it seemed to be stuff they needed to unload. For example, the mouse pads awarded had the first 4 resorts...but not VWL, which leads me to think they are *old*. After it was over they gave 2 baseball caps that said DVC member to each family. We left our rum punch on the table, since neither of us really like it.

We browsed through the shops since it was not crowded, and then returned to the stateroom to drop off the DVC stuff before dinner. Tonight we eat in Animator's Palate, but it is the formal dinner rather than the regular rotation dinner.

When we arrived at the restaurant we found they were doing the Master Chefs Series dinner rather than the Captain's welcome dinner. We also were joined by 2 more tablemates - making us 8 at the table for 10. The new couple are on their honeymoon - married at the wedding pavilion last Friday with their reception at the Grand Floridian. For dinner I skipped the appetizer and just went to the pork tenderloin medallions on polenta (without the mushrooms). It is what I always order, and it was excellent as usual. Sheila had scallops followed by a sirloin steak dinner with baked potato. The regular menu did not appeal to her, and the steak was very good. Some of the others got a turkey dinner, lamb shanks, and Bern had Wolfgang Puck's butternut squash soup and a plate of steamed vegetables. For dessert most people got the apple strudel with vanilla sauce, but Sheila & I both got the chocolate coffee tart. The tart was huge - 2 big pieces, where really 1 would have been plenty. It was delicious! They also brought me a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday. Nobody wanted any of the cake though - and I don't blame them after seeing the dessert menu! So, the birthday cake is in our stateroom - we will probably eat a few bites and toss the rest. We also got a couple of wine glasses to use when we open the wine.

After dinner we found a towel swan on my bed, and had a message from guest services saying they would not give Sheila a tote bag because they give one per stateroom and since I am the *primary* name on the room that is why it went to me. For the $2.50 or so the bags must cost Disney, I was a little surprised they are still saying No, but whatever.....

We went to the 8:30 Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer show, which of course is like that god-awful TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I know the TV show is popular, but I personally can't watch it - too boring and hokey for my taste. However, I *can* stand the version of the show at MGM Studios and hope to see my friend Larry from Scotland make it back to the hot seat on our December visit and see the revised pre-show film. Here on the ship guests are randomly selected by seat number, and play for shipboard credit starting at $20 and going up to a free 7 day cruise for 2. It lasted an hour, and thank goodness it moved faster than the TV show! As it was though, many guests left before the hour was up. Several people made it to the hot seat, including Sheila! All the questions were Disney-related, but most were about the movies rather than the parks. I thought they were hard, but I guess that is because I don't watch cartoons (although I will see Monsters since it is playing here on the ship - I would not bother going to the theater to see it). Anyway, Sheila left with $20 after missing the $60 or $80 question. She also got a cool pin that identifies herself as a contestant :-)

When the show ended we went down to Beat Street to the OffBeat club for a game called Bim Bam Boom. This is the dueling piano club, but they used it for the game. The game consisted of 24 questions and each table was a team. Each team answered each question and the majority ruled - any teams with that answer got a point. It was fun, but we did not win. We did score some bonus points by shamelessly sucking up to Shawn (the host). Sheila got a coffee with Bailey's and possibly something else in there, and it was so strong she did not finish it by the time the game ended. She asked if she could take it with her to add more coffee to it, and they added the coffee for her and told her to go ahead.

We stopped at the stateroom to open the wine for me, and had a hell of a time with the corkscrew. I bought the cheapest one because it was the smallest one and I figured it was the easiest to pack. Once I figured out how to get it in the cork, the cork was so tight the 2 of us working together could barely make it budge. Sheila grabbed the bottle and went out to the hall to flag down the nearest man (sounds like something I would do, lol) and this big beefy man struggled but finally got it open for us and then said he needed to go to bed now because he was exhausted, lol! I poured myself a glass of wine, and we headed out.

We tried walking on deck 9 where it is partially enclosed, but were still too windblown, so we ended up sitting inside deck 4. I noticed the majority of the guests did remain in their formal clothes all night - the few who did not definitely stood out in the crowd and frankly looked bad. The Navigator said the dress was for the "evening"....not "dinner". We only saw one guy nearby in the dining room who was not properly dressed (slacks and polo shirt) - everyone else was in formal wear (more dark suits than tuxedos) and even many of the boys were in tuxedos or dark suits. Several little girls wore their princess gowns - Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, etc.

Today the weather really sucked, but it was still a nice day. I enjoyed the exercise classes and the behind the scenes stuff. I missed not being at the Comedy Warehouse for this birthday - the first time in a few years. Hopefully tomorrow will be sunny. The ship's movement has been wild all day long, but nobody seems to be bothered by it (unless they are sick in their staterooms & I do not see them). Day 11 - Monday, November 5th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - Verandah Stateroom #7556

Plan: Day at Sea, maybe Palo's for dinner

Actual: When we boarded the ship we decided to do Palo's on the tropical night (Tuesday), so tonight we will be in our regular dining room. I arranged a 7am wake-up call so we could be at the 8am Ultimate Muscle Sculpt class up in the spa. This morning looks much more *normal*, with some clouds but also signs that the clouds will clear enough for the sun to shine. We made cappuccino and hot chocolate to have before going to class, and watched CNN for the latest on the hurricane. It looks like it will cross over or very near to Nassau today, so I wonder where they sent the Wonder yesterday.

We were at the muscle class at 8, along with 2 men and 2 other women. The class was a series of exercises (45 minutes) using free weights. Everyone chose their own size weights, from 1-6 pounds. I used a couple of 5 pound weights, and Sheila stuck with the ones that were 3 pounds. We both enjoyed the class, and if we have time to do it Friday morning we may do it again.

After class we got our lounge chairs up on deck 10 where we always stay (near adult pool where it is quiet and kid-free). It was extraordinarily windy once again, making it very difficult to maneuver on outside stairs or even just walking on that top deck. We ran down to deck 4 to meet for the 9 am Walk a Mile, and there was only 1 other guest doing it this morning. I think it's actually better with fewer people - no traffic jams and no waiting for the last of the group to finish <g>. We went back to the stateroom after the walk and were glad to see it had already been serviced (I had left the sign out this morning). We changed into our swimsuits and went back up on deck.

We had breakfast at Topsiders again, and enjoyed a nice table by the railing (outside). Sheila had worked up an appetite and had a bunch of different things. I stuck with fruit and one of the little French toast triangles. I wanted an apple, but there were none on the buffet so a cm went and got me one, which I sliced and ate with peanut butter - very delicious!

The rest of the morning was spent reading on our lounge chairs. It was too windy to hear the music, and since the pools were still full of big waves the water from the pool on the deck below would splash up and spray us! At one point Sheila said a big wave was building and coming towards us, so I got up to take a look. LOL - it was a shadow caused by a cloud! I told her I had better go check the wine & see if there is any left, since she must have gotten into something <g>! At 11:30 we went downstairs to the DVC information talk - about 1/2 the people there were current members. I was hoping for some slick presentation full of nice pictures, but they had technical difficulties and used a flipchart and marker. It was pretty boring, and I missed having Gib & Marti (from last year) doing it - this group just was not as good - I will not mention their names, so as not to offend anyone. We sat with the other Sheila, Mark & Brian at the session, and enjoyed their company.

When it was over, we went back to our chairs. Eventually I went and got us each a cookie from Topsiders and picked up a couple of chicken tenders for myself from that outdoor place. The buffet today was Asian, and did not look like something we would enjoy - plus Sheila ate a big breakfast as her meal for the day. It was still pretty cloudy at time - alternating clouds and sunshine. I know I ended up falling asleep on my chair, which is very unusual for me. When I did, I looked at my watch and was afraid we were going to be late for the Castaway Club reception, but I was off by an hour (thank goodness). I never changed my watch, so it is 1 hour off from the actual time, and have to remember whether it is earlier or later than what my watch says. I checked the Navigator and realized we still had time, so laid back down for a while.

Around 3 I left to return to the stateroom, and stopped by Parrot Cay to see the dinner menu for tonight. I saw stuff Sheila would like, but nothing that excited me. I swear it would be easier to skip dinners on this cruise - the menus are the same as last year, and I have already tried all the stuff I like. I just need wine <g>. I showered and threw on some comfortable clothes, then Sheila returned and took her shower. I updated the report and we watched the TV waiting for the shore excursion film to learn more about our Eco-Hike on Wednesday.

This afternoon at 5:15 we have the reception for Castaway Club members (repeat cruisers), and we will be seeing Vicki from the internet there. This reception is by invitation only and it says guests must bring the invitation, so perhaps that means it will be a little fancier than a bowl of pretzels! We arrived right on time, and found Rockin' Bar D just about full - very big turnout. We found one of the few tables left and grabbed it! The cruise director, Captain, and some other officers greeted each person as they came in. It appeared they did the same buffet as last time - lots of seafood, some sushi, eggrolls, wontons, and fried jalapeno peppers. There was an ice carving and a watermelon that had been carved with Castaway Club. Servers were walking around with trays of drinks - wine, champagne and non-alcoholic cocktails. I gladly took a glass of white wine, and Sheila got red wine. There were about 300 people here! The Captain and cruise director each spoke briefly, and then the chef said a few words. Vickie (IamVick) came over and sat with us for a while - it turns out she & Sheila had ridden the shuttle from the port to the terminal building together on Saturday. Anyway, she's really nice and we enjoyed talking with her :-)

At 6 we left for our dinner in Parrot Cay. The missing couple was seated at our table tonight - honeymooners Lonnie & Jeanine from Alberta. They had been too sea-sick the past 2 nights. It turns out several people were sick earlier in the cruise. Sheila didn't understand why they didn't take some precautions (she is wearing a patch of some sort) if they were not sure they would be ok - I had no idea, never having been seasick in my life (despite being a thrill ride wimp). I would not want to go on vacation and be sick!

There were only 6 of us at dinner - us and the 2 honeymoon couples. The other family was dining at Palo tonight. Our server Sylvester is pretty funny - it's always his "mommy" in the kitchen cooking - tonight cooking her special Caribbean food even though he is Indian <g>. Sheila got the coconut prawns with onion rings, and I asked for that without the prawns and Sylvester brought me a plate of onion rings - very good. For an entree Sheila got the rib eye steak and I ordered the pepper crusted grouper. I do not like seafood, but I was not hungry at all and if this makes any sense - wanted something I would not eat much of. I can stand a limited quantity of seafood if it is white meat, does not taste fishy, and has some breading or something to disguise it <g>. Sylvester wanted to bring me something else, but I assured him the grouper was fine. It came on a bunch of green beans that I did not touch, and with some fried sweet potatoes that I tried a tiny bite of and found out I do not like sweet potatoes unless they are in a pie with lots of nutmeg and cinnamon! The grouper was not bad - I ate about 1/3 of the piece of that, with the spicy salsa served on top of the pepper breading. For dessert we both opted for one of the sugar-free offerings since nothing on the regular menu was appealing (bananas flambé, Kahlua trifle, rich vanilla custard, etc) - Sheila got the carrot cake and I got the chocolate mousse. The mousse was strange - it had cake down in there, and small blackberries. I ate the chocolate mousse part and left the rest. Before we left I let Sylvester know we would be eating in Palo tomorrow night - he pretended to be crushed that we were leaving because we didn't like him, lol! We really liked Jalidi on our last cruise, and Sylvester is turning out to be just as much of a flirt as he was - really nice, and lots of fun :-)

We stopped by the pin cart, but since neither of us are pin collectors or traders that did not hold our interest for more than 20 seconds. We went to the 7:45 Magic Quest game in Studio Sea. This is similar to an adult game I played on my first cruise, but suitable for families. Each table was a team, and the host would ask for an item and someone from each team would have to run up on stage with their team # and the item in question. The sooner you got up there, the more points you got. We did not win, but we had fun.

After the game we wandered around and looked in the shops. I bought a Christmas ornament since this is the first year in about 4 years we will be home for Christmas (which means it is the first time in that long that I will bother with a tree) and some Mickey gummi bears for my son Chris. I mentioned to one of the cm's in the nicer shop that I had bought a certain shirt (still selling) last year and within a day the thread on the hem started unraveling. If I had it with me they would have exchanged it, but I wore it Friday and it was in the trunk of my car in Florida! She told me to call the 800 number on the bottom of any sales receipt and they would send me a replacement, which I thought was really nice considering the shirt is a year old now!

We returned to the stateroom briefly and I updated the report. The Hercules show was going on, so not much else was happening - but neither of us wanted to see that show again. I tried a few bites of my birthday cake, but it was not very good <g>....it needs to be disposed of tomorrow, I think! Our cabin steward made a towel elephant out of the swan he made last night, and it was wearing my sunglasses.

I poured a glass of the Epcot wine and we headed back upstairs before I fell asleep <g>! We walked around out on deck 9 and then sat inside on deck 3 and did some people watching. At 9:45 we went to Off Beat for the Who's the Boss game. This is played like Family Feud - with the women against the men. It was lots of fun, and the women won!!! We had about 20 women and 20 men, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

When we left Off Beat we went up a deck to the Walt Disney Theater and caught the end of a question and answer period with the cast of the shows - but it was not particularly interesting. We were glad we chose the game rather than this! To be fair though, we missed most of it.

We headed back to the stateroom and turned in for the evening. Sheila read for a while, and I finished up the report and downloaded the latest pictures. We need to be up early tomorrow - the exercise classes start 1/2 hour early since we will be in port and most guests will be going ashore. It was a fun day - relaxing, but it seemed to fly by!

Day 12 - Tuesday, November 6th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - Verandah Stateroom #7556

Plan: St Maarten, Tropical Night

Actual: When we woke up we were arriving in St Maarten. Our stateroom is on the opposite side of the ship that is at the dock, and I could see a Royal Caribbean or Princess ship docked behind us. Finally the winds have stopped, but it is very humid outside. Just opening the door to the veranda was enough to cause the mirrors and glass inside the stateroom to fog up!

St Maarten is a pretty island (from the ship), with small mountains or big hills - depending on your perspective. Now that this dock is completed I believe people take a short cab ride to the shopping area ($3/person), a water taxi ($5/person unlimited all day), or they walk. There is a beach there as well - or guests can take a cab to one of the other beaches.

This morning we are doing the 7:30 Arms & Abs class - assuming our abs are not too sore to do those exercises for the 3rd day in a row! We headed up to the spa and joined 1 other woman for the class. By now we are feeling the effects of all this exercise, but it is a good feeling despite sometimes having to move very gingerly <g>. The class was great, and we were out of there after 45 minutes.

We set up our chairs on deck 10 (just put some towels on a couple of chairs) and went down to deck 4 to meet for the Walk a Mile. Once again we were joined by just one other guest, and the time passed quickly as we chatted our way around the ship 4 times. After the walk we changed into our swimsuits and brought our stuff up to our chairs. To our surprise, our chairs had been put away! So, we got 2 more and some towels and set them up again - we were the only people up on deck 10 since most guests were going ashore.

Our ship had pulled in on the right side of the new pier, with another ship behind us and the new Carnival Pride next to us on the left side of the pier. There is no nice way to put this - that Carnival ship is a monstrosity. It is very big, and just plain ugly from the outside. It was featured recently in a cruise magazine I subscribe to and the pictures of the interior were garish and gaudy (in my opinion)....just really overdone to the point of being tacky. Seeing the ship in person only confirmed that I would never want to cruise on that class of ship. Bigger is not better when talking about cruise ships, in my opinion. I actually prefer a ship with fewer guests than the Magic - but at least on the Magic a large percentage of those guests are kids who are tucked away in their clubs rather than competing for space in the public areas.

We took some pictures of St Maarten and then went to get some breakfast at Topsiders. St Maarten is a picturesque island from the ship, and makes a nice backdrop. Today was a beautiful sunny, breezy day. Sheila got a full breakfast again this morning. I had to ask for an apple again, and it took quite a long time for them to round some up. I took 2, so I have an extra for next time <g>. I ate the apple sliced and with peanut butter, plus some melon and some melba toast with chive cream cheese. As we were sitting out on deck with our breakfast (waiting for the apples), Sheila noticed a young girl stop in her tracks and look at me. Later the girl pointed at me and yelled to her parents "That lady looks like Aunt Janet". Whew - I'm glad I don't look like Uncle Fred <g> - I will assume that Aunt Janet is a lovely woman, lol! When the family passed, the girl said "Hi lady who looks like Aunt Janet", lol.

We finished our breakfast and went up to our chairs on deck 10. It was peaceful up there, and we sat with our books until it got too warm. We went down to the adult pool and Sheila went all the way into the chilly water, but I stayed on the deck where the water is just a couple of inches deep. We used the Jacuzzi also, but I did not like it - it smelled too heavily of chlorine! There were very few people around for most of the day, which was really nice. While we were down in the pool I saw a man set up a chair near us, but then he did not stay - his wife used the chair. The wife happened to be Vickie, lol! Sometimes it really is a small world :-)

Around 1pm I went down to Topsiders to see the Mexican buffet. It looked much better than the Asian buffet yesterday, lol - but all I got was a mini beef burrito (appetizer size) and chocolate flan. They had Mexican pizza, rice, pork, seafood, and a fajita station. I was surprised at the flan - normally I do not like flan at all, and was surprised at how good this tasted! I went back later and got another one to put in the stateroom for another time <g>! Sheila was not hungry and did not get anything - she may do Scoops later.

Eventually the shade from the ship's stack was chasing me, and I was having trouble staying awake up there. Sheila moved into the shade to keep reading, but I had finished my book. Eventually I decided to go in, but stopped at the Oceaneers Lab and Oceaneers Club to look around and get information for a future article. The staff there welcomed me into the places, even though I did not have a kid there.

Back in the stateroom I downloaded the pictures, updated the report, and took my shower to get cleaned up for the evening. I really am not making that much use out of the verandah, although I did rinse out my swimsuit and put it on one of the chairs to dry <g>. In the beginning it was too windy out there, then this morning it was too humid, but hopefully I will get more use out of it the rest of the cruise. I booked a verandah for my June cruise to Alaska on HAL, and since they have bigger verandahs (the ones on DCL are tiny...more like hotel room balconies) I can sit out there on the chaise lounge with a cup of cappuccino and watch the glaciers go by :-) For future DCL cruises a verandah is not really essential for me - but being up here on deck 7 is certainly convenient.

Sheila came back - she had walked around, gotten ice cream, and hung out for a while. While she showered & dressed I had a glass of wine and sat out on the verandah with a magazine. We left about 5:30 or so to see the sunset before our dinner reservation at Palo. The ugly Carnival Pride ship had already left - we could see it off in the distance - and they were undoing the ropes of the Golden Princess behind us.

We went to Palo at 6 and were seated by the window. Our server was Zita from Hungary, and she was a very nice young lady - excellent service. She showed us the 4 specials for today (not on the menu) and described each one. It's nice that they have specials - that way you can eat here more than once and not be so limited on your choices. I explained to her that I was not wanting an entree, and she was concerned I would not have enough food and would be hungry - but I convinced her that would not happen. I knew the dessert I was getting was a killer - that alone would fill me up!

Zita brought us some antipasto, but neither of us really ate any of that. I ordered my all-time favorite wine, the one I get in Le Cellier! It was $6.50/glass here vs. $6.00 there, and no DDE discount, but I did not care. Sheila had a glass of wine from the stateroom, and brought it with her to Palo. The food here is excellent, with many items or ingredients that are more unusual than the stuff found in the dining rooms. Eating there is like being at a wedding or some other catered affair - mass produced food intended to serve the maximum number of people in a short period of time. At Palo it is individual service and food prep - and the difference is obvious.

We both started with the natural mozzarella and tomato salad - which was very good. I still prefer this dish at Shutters in Vero or Olivia's in Old Key West, but this was a nice smaller portion. Sheila ordered the salmon, which came on a bed of delicious cheese risotto - Zita later explained how they prepared it to make it taste so good (the risotto). I had the appetizer field greens as my entree, and it was also very good - not too filling. Zita brought us an appetizer portion of a new menu item to try - pumpkin ravioli with shrimp sauce. It is one of the new entrees. The ravioli was made with spinach pasta, which sort of overpowered the pumpkin. The shrimp sauce was creamy & mild - even I kind of liked it, and I hate shrimp.

The dessert was the main attraction for us :-) Sheila got a new item - cappuccino cheesecake, which was served with a creamy raspberry sauce to beautifully counter the coffee flavor. I stuck with the old favorite - warm chocolate hazelnut soufflé with vanilla bean and chocolate sauces. Mmmmmm - this is so good, but so rich I thought I would explode before I stuffed the final bites into my mouth! There is no way I would let it go to waste, though.

We left Palo in time to watch the Magic cast off from the dock and sail away from St Maarten. It is amazing how easily these big ships can maneuver and turn on a dime! Soon we were on our way to St Thomas. Unfortunately, new US immigration rules require any ship coming from a foreign port (like St Maarten) into a US port (like St Thomas) to clear immigration. This means that every single passenger on board must present themselves to immigration before they will let even 1 person off the ship. It's a major pain in the you-know-what, and Disney has been very apologetic about it, but has no control over this nonsense. Our time to report is 6:30am!! If someone had planned to stay on board the ship and sleep in - they would be out of luck, since they would have to report at their appointed time - which would be no later than around 7 or 7:30 I would guess.

At 8:15 we went to the premiere of Monsters, Inc - playing in the big Walt Disney Theatre. They had the red carpet rolled out, with ropes on the side to simulate a real Hollywood premiere <g>. The theater was full - we got a couple of seats way down front, but the screen covered the entire stage (bigger than in movie theaters at home) so no seat was bad. I had heard great things about this movie, and although it was cute I do not think it lived up to the hype. We were both glad we had not spent the time & money to see it at a theater at home, but did not regret seeing it for free on the ship.

After the movie we went back to the stateroom. Tonight is the tropical deck party, which I planned to skip. I'm not a deck party person at all. Sheila was thinking of going up for a while, but pooped out and stayed in. Having to report to immigration at 6:30am may have had something to do with that decision, lol! We are directly 2 decks under the party, so we hear the band coming through the closed verandah door. Sheila was out on the verandah, but it was so loud she came in.

Today was a great day - the kind of day we are supposed to have on a cruise (sunny, lol). We never left the ship in St Maarten, and do not feel that we missed a thing. If we had not booked a shore excursion to St John tomorrow, I could have very happily stayed on the ship again. However, we are looking forward to seeing St John, because everyone says it is gorgeous there! After our excursion there is someone in St Thomas Sheila is going to try to meet, and I may take the laptop and see if I can get onto AOL to send the report thru today and download mail & message board posts - using a local Parcel Plus.

Day 13 - Wednesday, November 7th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - Verandah Stateroom #7556

Plan: St Thomas/St John (Eco-Hike)

Actual: I had put in for a 6am wake-up call so we could be at immigration at 6:30. We headed there a little early, and joined the very long line of guests who were dragged out of bed far too early on their vacation! Disney had coffee and pastry set up, and a line going into each side of the theater. At the door a Disney cm checked off your cabin number, then you went into the theater and were herded single file into a seat (think Fantasmic <g>) where you waited until it was your rows turn to walk to the front and show your paperwork to the Immigration person. It really seems pointless - yet another knee-jerk commandment that does/means absolutely no good but the fearful may consider it as extra security and therefore a good thing (insert sarcasm here). In both of our cases, the name on the birth certificate is different from the name on our id, and even the states do not match up. I could have the birth certificate of anybody named Susan, and doubt anyone would know something was amiss.

We had taken stuff from the breakfast buffet yesterday and kept it in the stateroom for breakfast this morning in case we did not have time for Topsiders before leaving on our excursion. Room service was an option, but I wanted my apple & peanut butter, and that was not on the menu. It is extremely humid outside today (again)! I went out to the verandah to take a picture as the sun was just coming up, and immediately the camera fogged up....by the time it cleared, the photo opportunity was over. Despite the humidity, I ate my breakfast out on the verandah, and then got ready for the day. There are big dark clouds hanging over St Thomas, and I heard thunder earlier while Sheila was getting ready :( Last year it rained on us this day - I sure hope we do not have a repeat of that!

By 7:40 it was raining :( We met in Off Beat at 8:10 for our tour, and found it had stopped raining when we got off the ship. The Golden Princess was in front of us and the Veendam behind us - all 3 ships lined up at the dock. We were brought to a rickety old boat for the ride to St John - which was very pretty but I had not realized it was so far away! It was a nice ride though, with lots of pretty scenery. As we got to St John we realized it was raining again - pouring! Sheila & I each used our umbrellas and some guests wore their WDW rain ponchos.

We met our guide, and he walked us to the entrance of the National Park. The path was a rocky dirt road up the mountain. There were mud puddles everywhere, and he warned people their white sneakers would not be white by the time we finished. It reminded us of the rainy, muddy mountain biking from last year, except we were walking. The guide stopped to point out different plants & flowers, which allowed the mosquitoes to swarm around us - I was not having much fun at this point <g>! One plant he pointed out looks like holly, but if you brush against it about 48 hours later you'll have blisters erupting....sounds lovely. The worst was a type of apple tree that he said if you stand under during a rain storm, it can kill you - its so toxic. Just what we wanted to hear in the rain, lol!

Eventually it stopped raining, and one of the other guests passed around bug spray for everyone to use. That really helped with the mosquitoes. We hiked up the mountain and then down to Honeymoon Beach, which is part of Caneel Bay. The beach is the #7 most beautiful in the world, and it was very pretty. Due to the hurricane the surf was rougher than normal, but nobody really cared - the guide just cautioned people not to go out far. We had over an hour here - for us about 10 minutes would have been perfect, as we were ready to move on. Our last stop was at Caneel Bay resort - which we were told is a 5 star resort but it did not impress either of us at all. I was dying from all the water I drank - needing a restroom, and the guide stopped at every freakin' plant to say what it was! Arrgh! From the resort we got in a taxi to where we started, and had a shopping time....we both bought some coconut rum and pineapple rum (Cruzan). Finally we got back to the dock and on the boat for the ride back to St Thomas. It was beautiful & sunny in St John, but of course we get back to St Thomas and it is raining slightly, lol!

Sheila went to a nearby school to meet someone and deliver some letters from her sons school. I ended up walking all over the place before finally finding a place I could get online with my own laptop. The Parcel Plus place had gone out of business, and most other places would only let me use their computer. Since I wanted to send & post the trip report, as well as download my mail & messages, using some other computer was useless. Someone in a coffee house suggested I try Soapy's - which is located upstairs over Budget Car Rental. To enter I had to climb up this long narrow flight of stairs and go through a basically unmarked door. I was a bit concerned I might be getting into some weird place, but it turned out to be ok. They assured me I could use my own laptop - internet access would be $2.50 per half hour, so I walked back to the ship to get the laptop, ate the other apple with the leftover peanut butter, then returned to Soapy's.

It was very frustrating making the connection, since I did not have an AOL access number for St Thomas, and they had codes on their phones to prevent people from using the phone lines for internet. After many attempts the guy got it to work, but I had a slow connection (16,800)! However, I was not going to risk trying it again. As soon as I got online, people who saw me started IMing to find out what was going on, lol! Yikes - it was nice to hear from them, but I had to keep it very brief in order to do my posting/downloading. Also, I could not get a local AOL access number to work, so I used the 800 # which has an extra charge ($.10/minute). It was worth it, though - and I spent about an hour or so online before heading back to the ship.

When I returned to the Magic there was a line waiting to board - evidently many people were finishing up their shopping or whatever. I was surprised to learn that St Thomas has the highest crime rate, murder rate, and teen pregnancy rate in the Caribbean, along with one of the worst school systems. I guess it is a nice place to visit on vacation, but no place to live. Sheila spent the afternoon with a teacher who taught at her sons high school last year but now lives and teaches here, and he said it is awful for young people - there is nothing for them on the island. The few good students get an education so they can get off the island and make a better life for themselves. I sat out on the verandah and called my boss, just to make sure nothing important was going on. Thankfully, all was quiet, and all my departments were humming along fine - whew!

I showered and worked on the report, and Sheila returned a little after 4. We swapped stories about our afternoon, and when she opened the door to the verandah I heard the Magic horn blowing the tune to When You Wish Upon a Star - a sign that we were leaving St Thomas. Sure enough, we were backing out from the dock and sailing away. I poured myself a glass of wine to enjoy as I got ready for dinner; Sheila took her shower and also got ready.

Tonight we eat in Animators Palate for the regular rotation dinner. This is the meal we skipped last year in order to do Palo, so it will be the first time Sheila sees the colors change. We met some of our tablemates on the way in to the restaurant. I remember on my first cruise having the characters march through the dining room (4 day cruise), but tonight there was none of that. The wait staff marched through twirling napkins before dessert, but that was it. The color changing was the same as always, with some of the pictures being very pretty.

For dinner I got the Caesar salad for my appetizer and Sheila got the baked tomato stuffed with vegetable rice. For my entree I got the herb crusted veal chop on corn risotto with asparagus. I love veal, but have only had a cutlet or medallion - thin veal. This was a big ole fat hunk of veal on a bone....a veal chop, lol. I did not realize veal was somewhat fatty, but in this thicker cut it had a different texture. The flavor was good, but it was way more than I could eat. Just as I cut the first bite something got in my contact lens and hurt really bad. I could not fix the problem there at the table, so I left the dining room quickly and went to the restroom - my eye was all red from the irritation by then! When I returned Sylvester had covered my plate to keep it warm, which I thought was really nice. He wanted to bring me something else since I did not eat most of the dinner, but I really had enough - although I would not order this again. Sheila got the maple glazed salmon, which came on a huge pile of green beans! LOL - she joked that she had the whole farm on her plate!

The desserts were not too exciting (Animators Palate night is another good choice for Palo <g>). Sheila got the cheesecake and I got chocolate cake. Both were good - but not spectacular. Some of our tablemates got Boston Cream Pie or strawberry shortcake.

After dinner we were looking forward to seeing the new show - Morty the Magnificent. Unfortunately, once again the show has been canceled for the safety of the entertainers because the ship is rocking too badly. Gale force winds are blowing across the ship, causing it to jerk back & forth constantly. Drapes are swinging, water and sloshing in our water bottles, and walking is a lot of fun, lol! The wind is blowing so hard some doors to the deck will not open, and when someone gets one open they get blown back a few steps before they hurl themselves to the outside (where they stay only briefly). On one side of the ship the rain is blowing in to the deck, but our verandah is dry. Of course, when we open the verandah door, a very loud whistle sounds (like a tea kettle) from the wind blowing in. We heard it from other staterooms down the hall, as well. I sure hope the weather is not crappy tomorrow - I don't mind the rough seas (actually prefer wild seas over calm seas) and the wind is not entirely bad, but clouds & rain will upset me.

Normally when we cruise we would have dinner, then walk the deck until it was time for the show. This cruise we have not been able to walk on the deck even once after dinner - it has been too windy, raining, or both every night. This is a freaky thing, as I have cruised in November before and had beautiful nights and calm seas. Yesterday they offered to refund the money of any people who wanted to cancel their snorkeling excursions, because the water was so stirred up there was nothing to see.

Since the show was canceled they are doing Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer again. Neither of us wanted to do that again, though. We checked the movie schedule, and Max Google (or something like that) was playing. We did not know what it was about, but since it is rated G we figured it would be a kid-magnet. There were a couple of movies we would gladly see, but none of them were playing tonight. We went to the shops, and Sheila bought a plush Sully from Monsters Inc for a great-nephew.

We went back to the stateroom to check the TV movie schedule, but we did not like that movie either. Our steward had left a towel monkey on my bed - I think this is my favorite of the towel animals <g>. Sheila found a TV show on the making of the Disney Magic (the ship) and started watching that; I updated the report and downloaded more pictures. We cannot believe we are sitting in our stateroom at 9pm, lol! However, the rocking of the ship is as much from the wind blowing it (causing it to jerk back & forth) as from the waves, so being outside would be no fun. So much for that verandah, lol!

After that show there was another on Walt's life, so we watched that as well. Eventually we headed out to walk around - most likely indoors <g>. We went down to the 3rd deck first, and looked out the big porthole windows at the waves. It actually did not look nearly as bad as the first couple of nights. We went up to deck 4 and opened one set of doors - but the deck was completely soaked from the spray from the waves, and it looked like rain (but was not) in the lights so we did not go out. Across to the other side, a man was saying he had talked to a cm who told him there were a couple of other storms and that is why the weather is rough. I really wish there was a place to get current weather forecasts, and any tropical information so we would have some idea what to expect for the next day or 2. Its like we are prisoners - kept in the dark about what is going on in the world. I am not concerned from a safety standpoint, I just want to know when I might get to enjoy the outdoors! Anyway, we have no reason to think this guy really understood what he was talking about - there are always disturbances in the tropics but mostly they are nothing to worry about (especially on a ship - the ship would just move out of the way). Someone from up north may not realize that, and may hear *storm* and think it is bearing down on us right this minute - while in reality it could be hundreds of miles away.

Anyway, a woman and her son were going out on deck so we hung back to watch. The guy helped open the sliding door for them, and they were hit with a blast of wind that knocked them both backwards, lol, and they changed their mind about going out on deck. We decided there was no point in our attempting deck 4 either. We tried deck 9 and were surprised that it was not nearly as bad up there (thanks to being sheltered almost completely around. We did a couple of laps around the deck. The water level in the pools had been lowered several inches, which greatly cut down on what was sloshing over the sides. The deck area was actually dry - it was not raining - except where spray from the pool had come out. A few people were out using the pools, but not many. We went headed back to the stateroom, and it was hysterical walking when the ship started to dip forward and then pull back - we were giggling all the way down the hall, but we had not been drinking.

Back in the stateroom we turned on the ship information channel, and currently waves are higher than during hurricane Michelle - they are now 13-20 feet. Last year the waves were around 4 feet. At one point I had trouble on the computer - I would move the mouse to something and the ship would lurch, causing my hand to jerk slightly and not hit what I wanted, lol! We figure there will be more people sick again tonight, but thank goodness not either of us.

Overall it was a pretty good day :-) The rainy weather was a pain, but it did not last all day like it did last year, at least. It was great IMing with some friends at the internet place - I miss keeping in touch with some friends who are not here, and have come to rely on the internet a lot! I do not regret doing the shore excursion, and enjoyed the hike, but realize without any doubt now that I am not a shore excursion type of person. I like to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and do not have the patience to be waiting for the rest of the *herd*. My dad & I hated our Grand Canyon day trip last April for that reason (we are alike in that we prefer to be on our own instead of being herded like cattle), and I did not like the *herd* aspects of the mountain biking last September, so I think in the future I will save the money and the frustration and just do things independently from organized excursions. When I am cruising the Caribbean, for me the best thing to do is enjoy the ship like we did yesterday :-)

Day 14 - Thursday, November 8th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - Verandah Stateroom #7556

Plan: Day at Sea, 2nd Formal Night (Master Chefs Series dinner)

Actual: I had set the wakeup call for 7:45, but got up at 7 on my own. Sheila was already awake - she was laying in her bed and watched the sunrise from there. The ship was still moving a lot, but the waves were down to 8-13 feet and the winds had been downgraded from gale to strong. The humidity was down as well, and it felt great out on the verandah! Best of all, there was a lot of blue sky visible :-)

We were free until the 9am Walk A Mile, since neither of us wanted to do the 8am Cardio Kickbox class. We did not want to eat breakfast until after the walk, also. We heated up water for cappuccino and hot chocolate, and just lounged around the stateroom & verandah. Wow - for the first time in 6 days I really *like* this verandah <g> - and take back my earlier comments about it not being worth it for me, lol! When the weather is nice, it is really great to be able to spend time outdoors without being up on deck.

Around 8:30 we went up to deck 10 and set up our chairs, leaving our stuff there while we walked around that deck and then went down to deck 4 for the Walk a Mile. Anita led the walk again, and told us we were lucky we skipped the morning class as the air conditioning was not working in the spa and it felt like a sauna! Plus, with the rocking she said she should have switched the class to something else - she ended up lurching and hurting her ankle at one point. We were glad to have missed the chance to sweat while getting tossed about in the spa, lol!

One other lady joined us on the walk, and the time passed quickly. With a small group you can talk the whole way and before you know it, you're done. Anita said the rocking last night was the worst she has experienced - normally the ship rocks her to sleep, but last night it woke her up a few times. So, anyone reading this report be aware that this was a very unusual week, and there is no reason to expect seas this rough on your cruise. I may be twisted, but I'm glad I got to experience it - it certainly livened things up :-) and gave us something to laugh about.

Sheila and I headed up to Topsiders for breakfast. She got her usual stuff, and so did I - apple with peanut butter, melba toast with chive cream cheese. We ate out on deck - I am going to miss this next week when I am back to eating 1/2 bagel at 6am before going to work :( Before we left I took another couple apples, some peanut butter and a couple of the small croissants back to the stateroom for future meals. Today the weather looks gorgeous - sunny, breezy and not too humid.

I dropped the food off in the stateroom and then met Sheila up on deck 10. We laid on our chairs and read until it was time for the 11:30 Behind the Scenes thing with Ralph Kent. Once again, I enjoyed this very much. He showed several film clips and talked about a lot of first-hand experiences working for Disney over the years. He currently is responsible for teaching the new generation of Disney animators, and is the person who developed the first Traditions training at Disneyland. As we left we ran into our dinner companions (Ralph's relatives) and they told us one of the honeymooners (Lonnie) won $80 at Mouseketeer last night!

Sheila headed back up to deck 10 and I stopped at Guest Services to charge my tips - figured I would take care of that while there was no wait, rather than stand in line later with the hordes of guests. I then went up to deck 10 and joined Sheila. A big dark cloud was covering the ship, and it was rather chilly! I heard Goofy so I went to look down on the family pool to watch him leading kids in a fitness class - sit-ups, arm twirls, jumping jacks, etc. It was cute, and the kids were having fun. While I was there our dining room server Sylvester stopped by to say hi - he was working from Topsiders this afternoon. I went back to my chair and read for a while - Sheila had brought a book called Inside the Magic Kingdom, and I read it all today. It is written by a guy who has no Disney experience or authorization (other than having taken a Disney seminar once) and it is basically a management book on how to get your company to experience the great customer service Disney does. It was easy reading, but nothing new. In the past I have done Keys to the Kingdom, a quality management seminar put on by Disney, have read a bunch of stuff on Disney, have a number of cast member friends and have talked to different managers there - and this book did not have anything new beyond what was available from those different sources. I still enjoyed reading it, though.

We went to Topsiders for lunch, which was the seafood buffet and sandwich board today. Sheila got some shrimp and crab claws, and I just got a chocolate chip cookie. On the way back we stopped at Scoops and each got ice cream with peanut M&Ms and a little chocolate sauce - very good! We sat at a table near our chairs - at the railing overlooking the adult pool. The wind was very strong, and when my ice cream was almost gone the wind picked it up and blew it onto my lap, lol - but I salvaged my M&Ms!! Sheila got some napkins so I could clean up the mess, too <g>. The waves in the adult pool were huge again - when the water would slosh from one end to the other the water depth would vary by over 2 feet (in a 4 foot pool). One lady was in the middle of the pool bobbing in the waves, but when a big one broke on top of her she decided enough was enough and got out! Sheila saw it happen, but I missed it.

We went back to our reading, and as I finished the Disney book a couple came and set up next to us and lit up a stinkin' cigarette. The smoke stunk, and there was no way I was going to subject myself to that, but since it was not a no-smoking area I was not going to tell the people to put it out. I got up and moved to another chair, as a guy was setting up close by. I think he thought I was coming over to be near him, which was not true - so I kept focused on the other direction. Within 10 minutes he lit up a cigarette - crap! So, I got up and decided to call it day. It was getting late anyway (after 3). I dropped my stuff off in the stateroom and then went up to check the dinner menu (formal night menu tonight, since they did master chefs on formal night), and then walked around deck 4 a couple of times. It was perfect deck-walking weather today!

I returned to the stateroom and sat on the verandah for a while, then showered and updated the report. Sheila returned, and she got ready for the evening as well. We left before 6 for dinner in Parrot Cay. This is the 2nd formal night, which now is billed as semi-formal - which for gentlemen means the same dress as formal night except no tie. To me that seems strange to wear a suit without a tie - I would think wearing the shirt/tie without the jacket would make more sense, but I am basing this on Holland America guidelines and assuming that is standard. On Disney I imagine just about anything goes. Last night in Animators Palate we saw idiots (sorry, but in my opinion anyone who chooses to snub their nose at the dress code and do whatever they damn well please IS an idiot....as well as rude) wearing short and jeans in the dining room, despite the Navigator and brochure clearly asking people not to. The people at our table followed the dress code - as did the majority of the guests.

Dinner was great. We seem to have lost the first honeymoon couple - there has been no sign of them for a few nights. Almost everyone in the dining room was very dressed up, including several men in tuxedos :-) Tonight lobster tail was on the menu, and that is what most of the people at our table ordered. Sylvester or Gregor took the meat out of the tail for them, to make it easier. I got the tropical fruit cocktail and then the pan fried halibut. As a non-seafood eater, this fish was very light and did not taste fishy at all. I thought I did a really good job of eating over 1/2 of it, but Sylvester thought maybe I did not like it and asked if he could bring me something else. Lonnie cleaned his plate, and Sylvester tried to tell me I would have to do the same if I wanted dessert, lol! Sheila got the salad, followed by the lobster tail - but she got a baked potato rather than the rice that came with it. I had thought about getting the beef tenderloin, but opted for the fish since beef is so heavy (and the steaks on the ship are HUGE) and when I saw the beef Jeanine got I was glad for my fish! It was huge of course, and covered in a white sauce (béarnaise). Sylvester would have had a fit for sure when I would have only eaten a few bites of it.

The real highlight of tonight's dinner was dessert - my overall favorite food item on the entire cruise :-) It was........warm chocolate lava cake with double chocolate sauce! Oooooh, this is sooooo good, and can be had at Flying Fish by people not wanting to cruise. The portion is not huge, but it is so rich it feels like a lot. I ate every damn bite and would have wiped the extra chocolate sauce off the plate with my finger if Gregor had not removed it <g>. I told Sylvester his mommy did a great job on the cake, and he asked if he could bring me another one, but I said no......one is almost a killer, two would definitely be deadly! It was nice of him to offer, though. Tonight I ordered a drink with dinner - a melon ball (midori, vodka & orange juice). I took a sip and just about fell out of my chair, it was so strong!! Sheila tried it and confirmed it was very strong! It lasted me from 6pm until after 8:30, lol - I added ice to it and drank it as the ice diluted it. At least they don't skimp on the alcohol <g>!

Tonight was Gregor's birthday, and one of the other tables in our section arranged for a birthday cake to be delivered to him during dinner. We all sang happy birthday to him, and he got the cake to take back to his stateroom later :-)

After dinner we walked around deck 4 several times. It was so nice to finally be able to do that at night - without being blown to bits! Many people were out enjoying the night air - playing shuffleboard, walking, and unfortunately - smoking.

We went in and got seats in the Walt Disney Theater for the 8:30 Morty the Magnificent show, which premiered this cruise. We both saw Ce'st Magique last year and absolutely detested that show - it was horrible. This show replaces that one, but it is basically a remake of that show. They left each of the magic tricks/illusions and added some songs and humor to create a different storyline. It was a big improvement! The show was not bad.

After the show we stopped by the stateroom to see what towel animal was waiting for us - tonight it is a peacock. We checked the TV - currently sea conditions are wave of 4-8 feet, for the first time this cruise! Last year it was 4-8 feet the entire time, but this cruise it has been mostly 8-13, and 14-20 at times.

Sheila left with a packet of hot chocolate to go sit up on deck 9 or 10. I went to Rockin' Bar D to see Dan Riley's 10:15 show, but the bar was already pretty full, and people were smoking, so I decided not to stay. I walked around the ship for a while, then returned to the stateroom and relaxed. Today was a very relaxing day - the kind of day cruising is all about <g>!

Day 15 - Friday, November 9th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - Verandah Stateroom #7556

Plan: Castaway Cay

Actual: It was a calm night, and since the time changed back to FL time we had an extra hour of sleep! I got up around 6:40, and Sheila was out on the verandah. The sun was up, but there was no sign of land, so I checked the TV and found we were still 56 miles from Castaway Cay. We heated hot water and had cappuccino as we approached Castaway Cay.

Tonight they are doing Disney Dreams, and the Farewell Variety Show will not take place. Due to the cancellations earlier in the week, they had to cut something, and I figured they would not cut Disney Dreams since it is the flagship show of DCL! We do not plan to attend, though - Sheila mentioned last night she did not want to see it again, and that was ok with me.

I went up to the spa for the 8:00 Ultimate Muscle Sculpt Class while Sheila stayed on the verandah to relax. It was our last morning - she wanted to be lazy & I wanted to take advantage of one last class <g> - the nice thing about cruising is we can each do what we want. We were approaching land as I headed up - but not Castaway Cay yet.

The class was very good, and with 7 people today, was one of the most crowded classes this cruise. I thanked Anita and told her Id enjoyed the classes this week - she asked if we were walking today, but I told her we would be eating breakfast to get ready for the island. When I returned to the stateroom Sheila was gone - she must have gone up on deck. The air felt cool to me outside, or at least the breeze was cool. Hopefully when we stop moving the sun will feel warmer!

We arrived at Castaway Cay by 9:30, and slowly backed into the dock. Our stateroom was on the side facing the island rather than the dock - which is what I prefer. There was no sign of Sheila, so I eventually assumed she was eating breakfast up at Topsiders, so I ate my breakfast out on the verandah as we approached Castaway Cay. It was really nice out there except for when the people in the stateroom next door came out on their verandah and loudly berated their 7 & 9 year olds for not putting on their own sunscreen, for wasting time, for making them be the last ones off the ship (we were not even docked), for talking back, etc. Geesh - I think that mom needs a solo vacation somewhere - and the rest of the family would benefit as well!

Sheila got back before we docked, after having run into the other Sheila up on deck and stopping to chat. We gathered up our stuff and headed down to get off the ship. People were lined up waiting to get off, and eventually a cm came and said it would be at least 20 minutes before we could get off. At that point there was nowhere to go - we were pretty much trapped, so we stayed put and talked a little with the family in front of us. When we were given the all clear guests started to leave. As we approached the machines where the cm swipes each resort id, a pushy obnoxious woman with a son pushed her way in front of Sheila - handing their ids to the cm even though she was behind us. She said the rest of her party were already ahead. I suggested they would probably wait for her at the dock once they got off the ship, and she replied that she had been waiting for 30 minutes. Duh....I replied And we haven't?? Then the truth came out - she said Well, I don't care. We couldn't believe how rude she was, and she was gone at that point - off the ship. The cm shook her head, and we heard other guests talking about the rude witch. We spotted her later on, harassing some CMs over something...as all the people she had cut in front of passed her by <g>.

We waited for the tram and rode rather than walked, and then went to the next tram to ride out to Serenity Bay, the adult beach. We were on the first tram load of guests out there, so we got a great spot. It was uncrowded for the first 1/2 hour or so, but never got really bad. The adult beach has a single row of chairs.....the family beach has multiple rows and people are packed in like sardines. Its really awful - but if you have kids that is where you must be. We got a couple of lounge chairs with an umbrella for Sheila and a hammock for me. The hammock was wonderful!

The group next to us also had a hammock (the 2 hammocks were next to each other) and they were a fun bunch. However, at one point I was in my hammock daydreaming happy thoughts and the guy in his hammock fell asleep and started snoring loudly! Yuck - I hate snoring, and friends know I will not travel with anyone who snores (except staying in separate rooms). LOL - this guy was snoring up a storm <g>. Later his friends were teasing him mercilessly - he had no idea he was snoring. The other guy said he kept taking off his sunglasses to show people around that he was awake and it wasn't him snoring, lol!

We tried the water, but it was too cold for us! We each paid $6 for a float rental, and never even turned in the ticket to get the floats - so that was a waste. Unless I cruise during the summer, I will just wait until I get to the beach and feel the water before renting one again. They had a cm walking the beach bringing drinks to guests, but otherwise it was a nice quiet day at the beach.

We rode the tram over to Cookies BBQ for lunch, since the food at the adult beach was more limited (and most importantly they did not have any cookies). Lines for lunch were long, and of course ours seemed to be the slowest one. The food was good, though. I ate part of a cheeseburger - I think my last cheeseburger was last year here - some ribs and a banana bread thing, and part of a big chocolate chip cookie. Sheila had the same, except she had a lobster burger rather than part of a cheeseburger. After eating we took the tram back to our beach and laid around some more - me in my hammock, since Sheila was not interested in using it.

We left around 3 to return to the ship. It had been a perfect beach day, except for the cold water, and I was sorry to see it end. We rode the tram from Serenity Bay and then walked from there so I could take a few pictures of the ship. Back in the stateroom we showered and started packing some of our stuff. Our steward had dropped off the luggage tags and customs paperwork - a sure sign we really had to leave in the morning :(

At 5 the ship was due to sail, so we went down to deck 4 and waved to the CMs wearing Mickey gloves who saw us off. On the way back to the stateroom we ran into Mark, who said (his) Sheila wanted to get a picture of us, so we made plans to meet between our dinner times. I finished off the Epcot wine, and may buy another bottle there tomorrow. Sheila & I headed up to Lumiere's for our final dinner just before 6.

Tonight is the Its a Small World menu, featuring a variety of dishes from around the world. We were the first to arrive at our table, and were joined by Tim, Barb, Bea & Bern. Bea & Bern are so cute - born 13 months apart they do a lot of things together at age 86 & 84. Ralph Kent (Behind the Scenes guy) is Bern's son-in-law.

Sheila ordered a glass of white zinfandel and I got a glass of a white German wine. She started with quesadilla from Mexico and I had the Greek Salad. For the main course I got the fettuccine Alfredo with chicken - it was good, but not excellent. Sylvester brought it without the other stuff I do not like (ham and peas). Sheila got the Indian chicken dish, which ended up being dark meat but she ate it anyway. She said it was a little spicy - and Sylvester brought her a baked potato instead of the rice that came with the meal. Most of the others ordered the prime rib & baked potato dinner.

After the main course the Chefs staff and servers marched through the dining room with baked Alaska and big flags from all of their countries - while that lovely song played (Its a Small World), lol! The other family all had baked Alaska for their dessert. Sheila got the bread & butter pudding, and I got the Canadian apple pie with vanilla ice cream. We were stuffed!

After dinner Sylvester gave me his email address and asked me to send him the picture I took of him marching with his flag (India). He & Gregor have been terrific all week, providing excellent service and making it fun in the process. We called Mark & Sheila's stateroom and they came down to take some pictures outside of Lumiere's.

We decided to walk on deck 4, but it was pretty chilly in our sleeveless dresses so we did not last long <g>. Back in the stateroom we got changed and finished packing, watching the debarkation talk in the process. When we were done it was 9pm, so we went walking on deck 9 and then deck 4 for a while. Eventually I returned and sat on the verandah reading, and Sheila hung out on deck a bit longer.

The rest of the night was pretty quiet - we were both tired and there were no variety acts scheduled later that either of us were interested in seeing. Plus, with having to be at breakfast at 6:45am tomorrow, an early night sounds pretty good! We watched some Disney stuff on TV, and I read for a while before turning out my light.

It was a great day - the best Castaway Cay day I have had in 3 cruises!

Day 16 - Saturday, November 10th 2001 Who: Sue, 43, DVC Member Sheila, 42

Where: Disney Magic - WDW (day visitor)

Plan: Leave ship, final day at WDW

Actual: I was up before 6 - and could tell by looking out to the verandah that we were back in Port Canaveral. After dressing I took our hot chocolate packets (better stuff than what the ship provides) and went up to the beverage station on deck 9 to mix it with hot chocolate and bring them back down to the stateroom.

Our breakfast is 6:45 in Lumiere's - everyone eats in the same restaurant they ate in last night. Topsiders serves a continental breakfast for those who do not want to be waited on, or who want to sleep until the very last minute and then just grab a piece of pastry on the way out! We went down to breakfast about 7. After dinner last night we were not really hungry - I got yogurt with granola and Sheila got the blueberry pancakes. I commented to Sheila that it would be an adjustment to not be called "madam" at each meal, and to not have someone treating us like royalty at each meal (our teen sons sure won't, lol).

We said goodbye to our tablemates, and to Sylvester & Gregor one last time. We waited on the steps outside Lumiere's until the doors to exit the ship finally opened. They let a group of people out, then held up the line. We got out in the 2nd group, and had to show our id to Immigration (for a very cursory glance) on the way by. We next went to find our luggage, and were out the door. We dragged our luggage (on wheels) across the street to the far parking lot and took the Avis shuttle van back to the Radisson to get the cars. Sheila & I each had different things we wanted to do today, so we went our separate ways - it had been a fun week, though!

I was headed to Epcot, and since I had electronics in the trunk I wanted to park where there would be some shade. Going to OKW and leaving the stuff with Angelo in bell services was my first thought, but then I just went to the Swan and parked in their lot. From there I walked into Epcot without any problem, arriving just before the park opened at 10.

I headed first to check on the 11:00 and 12:30 wine seminars, but the 11:00 was all pinot noir and I do not like red wine. The 12:30 featured shiraz, which is a new type of wine (at least new to me) and Kathy & I had wanted to try one that was not featured when we went back to try it. When I talked to her from St Thomas last week she said she got back to try it and it was so awful she did not even put it through her tube <g>! Yikes, with that sort of recommendation (she knows what I like well enough for me to trust her opinion) I knew I would not be a good candidate for the 12:30 seminar either <g>!

Instead, I decided to ride Test Track. At 10:15 the standby line was over an hour, and of course no Fastpass for this ride anymore. Thank goodness the single rider line was open, or I would not have ridden. I walked right into the waiting area for the preshow and passed the time silently listening to this cm from a Disney Catalog place in Kansas filling 3 other guests full of miss-information about some of the Disney resorts. I kept my mouth shut, though, since there was no way to correct her without making her look stupid, and it did not appear that the 3 ladies were going to be changing their plans to take advantage of any of the stuff the lady was telling them about. She spoke in such an assured manner....it's no wonder the 3 guests thought she was an authority on WDW <g>.

The ride was fun, as always - but in the beginning it jerked around and broke down briefly. Once we got past the brake tests though, everything was fine. I went to Wonders of Life next - first time in a very long time. It was not very busy in there, so I just wandered around and did some of the exhibits. Back outside I sat on a bench and realized that just 24 hours ago I was laying in a hammock on Castaway Cay......coming back to the real world is such an adjustment <g>! By now the park was getting very busy - lots of people everywhere!

I decided to look at the fish in the Living Seas for a while, but the line was extended outside - so I skipped that. At the Land, the line was long for Living With The Land, so I instead snoozed through Food Rocks. I enjoy the music, but today enjoyed catching a quick catnap in there <g>. When it ended it was about quarter to noon, so I went outside to wait for World Showcase to open.

There were LOTS of people headed to the Food & Wine - no surprise since today is Saturday. When the rope dropped it seemed like the food stands in the first few countries immediately had 10-20 people in line, so I kept on walking. By the time I got towards the back of the "world" it was uncrowded since people had not gotten that far yet. I checked on the 1:00 wine seminar, but it was also all Shiraz wines, so I skipped that. In Morocco I got the white wine, then kept walking except for when I sat in Germany for a while. In South Africa I skipped the sugar cane chicken and continued to Mexico for the quesadilla. By now it was about 1pm and there was nothing else I needed or wanted to do, so I headed back to the Swan.

The drive home was uneventful, except for a tedious stop at Sam's to pick up $22 worth of my favorite hot chocolate (thanks for the tip, Sheila). Chris was still at his Dad's house and was not due home until tonight. His dad (Tim) had been telling me about a big birthday surprise that would be waiting for me - something I would never guess, but would be ecstatic when I saw it. Well, there was nothing there, lol! He called just after I got home - turns out whatever it was did not arrive until today, so he would be bringing it over when he brought Chris home.

It has nothing to do with Disney, but a number of people want to know what it is. 

Years ago, when Tim & I were engaged/newly married we moved to New Jersey. When we bought our first place it was close to Princeton, and we used to go down there a lot for meals, wandering around, etc. There was a candy/ice cream store called Thomas Sweet that was our all-time favorite place - I loved their chocolate, and when I left one of the Marriott Hotels I worked at in NJ I got shopping bags full of Thomas Sweet chocolate computers, calculators, etc - since everyone knew I love chocolate. Anyway, Tim called Thomas Sweet in Princeton and ordered up 4 boxes of different chocolates - involving Chris even though Chris' visits there were only in utero <g>. There was a box of chocolate/hazelnut truffles, a chocolate cruise ship, a box with a few chocolate lollipops (none quite like Adie & Lisa's, lol), and box of their milk chocolate nonpareils that I always used to get. I couldn't believe it - but when he gave me the box and I saw a NJ address I guessed Thomas Sweet - but not seriously <g>. It's a wonderful gift, and very thoughtful. Chris got me the new Barbra Streisand Christmas CD - I love her, and Chris hates her, so now I can threaten him that I will play it in the car with him if he gets on my nerves <g>!

Ok - back to the report....as I said earlier, final thoughts to follow.....soon! The pictures are all up on photopoint now (91 of them....and there are probably another 50 or more that I did not bother to put up). Go to www.photopoint.com To view my albums enter my full email address (wdw1972@aol.com) and then click on the Fall 2001 Disney/Cruise album (or something like that).

Summary:

What can I say??? It was a great trip, even despite any *disappointments* I may list and the cruddy weather at the beginning of the cruise. There's good and bad points to everything, and in my opinion the good far outweighs the bad - otherwise I would not visit WDW, DVC & DCL so often.

I absolutely loved the week spent at the Food & Wine Festival, and easily could have stayed there the entire 2 weeks, although I did enjoy the cruise also. Those wine seminars and hanging out with Kathy each day, meeting friends for nights at the Comedy Warehouse....it does not get any better than that, and I missed that while I was on the cruise that second week! There were WDW things I normally do that I never got around to - more roller blading, time at water parks - but they will be there for future trips.

The cruise was also fun, and I enjoyed the more relaxed pace we took this time. Sheila is a good friend and is great to travel with, and although we mostly did the same stuff, there were times that we each did separate activities and then met up later. Since this was my 3rd and her 2nd DCL cruise we felt no pressure to see or do it all - pretty much we had already seen and done it by now, so we picked what we wanted to repeat & skipped the rest. Staying on the ship on St Maarten day was a great decision - that day and the day at Castaway Cay were probably my favorites :-). One decision I regret was seeing Morty the Magnificent instead of going to the movies to see Legally Blonde...I expected the show to be more of a *new* show and less of a remake of C'est Magique, but not every decision is the right one <g>. While it was nice having the verandah, I do not consider it essential for future cruises - although I may be biased by how little we actually used it, due to the weather. Speaking of weather, I came home with a very dark tan (both of us did), so the cloudy weather at the beginning of the week ended up not being a problem, and except for not being able to walk on deck at night until night 6 I actually enjoyed the novelty of the rough seas. Nothing like 20 foot waves and gale-force winds blowing the ship back & forth to make walking the halls and stairs more interesting, lol! Would I cruise again during hurricane season? Absolutely....if a storm was close enough the ship would simply divert to some other ports (the ports mean nothing to me - I can be happy wherever the ship goes) and if it's not that close to make us change course I will enjoy the *rough* seas and make the best of it. You will never find me on the Tower of Terror, or even Splash Mountain, but the rough seas do not affect me at all (well except for the occasional crashing into the wall, lol).

This is probably the last long trip for quite a while....perhaps for many years. It is too hard to be away from work for that long when there is a lot going on, and you have a boss who is prone to panic over a possible assignment from the Legislature or central office coming up if I am not there. Besides, since so much of my enjoyment of my trips comes from seeing friends up there and going to the Comedy Warehouse, I would rather go more frequently for a shorter duration than to wait longer between trips.

Speaking of trips, my next one is a very short one (2 nights), but it begins November 21st....a mere 11 days after returning from this trip....10 days from when I am writing this, lol! I know, it's a tough life but someone has to occupy those WDW resorts <g>. Chris decided he wants to come along, so it will be the 2 of us in a studio at Villas of Wilderness Lodge. I was planning to activate his AP on Dec 29th, but will just start it on this trip, especially since he gets the extra 100 free days tacked on to the end. If Sheila decides to come up for the first night, we can put Chris on the floor for that night - on the air mattress. Oh - when he (Chris) came home last night he commented that he wants to go on a cruise again. He doesn't know it, but he is going on one - we are cruising Alaska right after he gets out of school this summer, and I do not know when I will tell him....I mentioned we may go to Seattle next summer, and I may keep the cruise a surprise until that morning (I know - mean mom, lol).

One last thing before I get to the Disappointments & Magical Moments stuff....I know AOL pulled some of the days of this report off their message boards due to the content and sexual innuendo I had included. They were very nice about it, and I certainly respect their right & position to remove whatever they feel does not meet the criteria for their boards. They suggested I remove or tone down the specific paragraphs that were questionable and repost the report, but I will not be doing so. Three of the four items noted were accounts of specific skits/games at the Comedy Warehouse, and I reported them exactly as they happened. I know many CW fans read my reports looking for details of what goes on, and to omit them because of the sexual nature (they were acceptable enough to Disney to be performed on stage, so I did not feel they were too over the top for a message board...which children should not be reading unsupervised) does not feel right to me. Perhaps in the future I will post a "spoiler" to warn people that something that could be questionable is coming, so as not to shock anyone, and if that does not work then I will limit posting my reports to the Fortress and RADP where the AOL rules do not apply. However, it was not my intent to offend anyone reading, yet I will not go back and change any of the words already written. That night at Comedy Warehouse the actors were definitely pushing the limits - Greg admitted to me he doesn't usually push it that far and he was not kidding <g>. However, it did happen, and it can happen again.....there were kids in the audience that night, and there likely will be kids in the audience in the future since Disney most likely will never ban kids from PI. However, maybe someone who read my account of that night's shows will have a more realistic idea of what can happen at the Comedy Warehouse and will decide to leave the kids elsewhere when coming to PI. Ok, enough said on that topic <g>.

Will I cruise DCL again? It's no secret I prefer HAL over DCL (and so does Chris), but I do not dislike DCL and do plan to cruise again. The big draw is using DVC points for the cruise, so it is almost like being *free*. I may book Chris' Spring break 2003 on the Magic, and possibly Sheila & her son will book a cash stateroom for the same week.

Disappointments:

  • Chicken Satay at the Food & Wine Festival was awful - never again. The lines were also miserable, making it not worth my while. Last year no matter when I went I could walk up to a kiosk with very little wait, but this year the lines sometimes had 20 or more people ahead of me.
  • Resort problems at Wilderness Lodge were handled very poorly. Approximately 2 hours of our time was wasted waiting for a resort to be found that was comparable to WL but would accommodate our needs - and then having to schleppe all of our stuff to the new resort without any offer of assistance. Every cloud has a silver lining though, and without this headache we may not have tried the Contemporary and we were both very happy with our night there - much happier than we ever thought.
  • The extra security measures seem like a waste of time, in my opinion. I do not mind security measures if they are meaningful & justified, but generally it seems like something done for show....without any real benefit. For example - showing a photo id when you drive into a resort. They do not write down your name, they do not check to see if you are a registered guest - so what's the point? On St Thomas day on the ship (this is not a Disney rule - this our government requiring this one) - we have to come down at 6:30 am to show the same documents we showed when we boarded the ship. Since no new people can board after we leave Florida, what is the point of checking us again on Wednesday?? Like I said, I do not mind if Disney or anyone does something that slows things down IF it makes sense and there is a benefit, but throwing out the pretense of security like this slows things down, costs the company money, and from what I can see serves no purpose.
  • The shore excursion - St John Eco-Hike. The hike part was ok, except for the rain & the mud (nothing like a hike through the bush while carrying an umbrella <g>), and the beach was beautiful, but I am just not an excursion person. I could care less about every dang plant we passed, and would have rather just done the hike and then returned to St Thomas rather than spending another couple of hours on boring (to me) stuff. I think it is safe to say my shore excursion days are over <g> - I will either do something independently (easy to do in any port) or just wander aimlessly & return to the ship early on future cruises.
  • The DVC members social is such a disappointment compared to the previous year. A yucky rum runner and bowl of pretzels is NOT what I expect from DVC :(

Magical Moments:

  • Meeting Chris (dznymom) & her friend Carol - they are so much fun! Spending the afternoon with them, Kathy, & Darla was a good time and lots of laughs :-)
  • The wine seminars - what fun they turned out to be! I actually learned a lot about wine, and of course enjoyed tasting the free samples. Only 2 of the seminars were boring, but man oh man were they awful, lol! I never gave these seminars a thought in the past, figuring they would be boring or for people who were more sophisticated wine drinkers than me, but clearly I was wrong.
  • Friends - It was so nice to have a longer time with Kathy and seeing Gus with her. He may get to recognize me as well <g> but I'm sure will reserve the special rumbles for his #1 fan! I told her she's the perfect travel companion for me, since she is not wanting to stop & eat - plus if I don't like my wine we can pour it into her tube and she gets a second helping, lol. I also enjoyed spending the evening with Josh & Dann, and meeting Gretchen for the first time. Seeing Marti from DVC again was an unexpected bonus (missed her on the ship, though....those other DVC people are not fun like her), running into Kelly at Epcot - nice surprises. Adie & Lisa were so sweet to remember my birthday, and to bring Kathy that Gus mouse pad (or is that a Gorilla pad?), and I'm glad they are such Comedy Warehouse fans. Like Leesa, any CW fan is a surefire friend <g>.
  • Comedy Warehouse - whether alone or with friends is lots of fun, and this trip they did not disappoint. Some nights the shows were good, but others were really great. It was nice seeing the members of the cast I've gotten to know better, and I enjoyed talking to Todd that night. They are all really nice people, besides being talented.
  • The rough seas - what can I say, they were fun!
  • Service from our dining room staff, Sylvester & Gregor was wonderful. Last year Jalidi was so personable (those French guys are soooo appealing, lol) we though he'd be hard to top, I do think this year's team was better in terms of attentive service. Gregor never let the water glasses or sodas get more than 1/2 empty, and did so many little things. Sylvester repeated over & over that he wanted us to have excellent service and food, and was quick to check on each thing and offer to bring something else if he though we did not love it, or bring more if it thought we did love it. He joked about his Mommy doing the cooking in the kitchen early in the cruise, and I think I was the only one at the table to pick up on that and continue teasing him with it - which he enjoyed.
  • Meeting Sheila, Mark & Brian on the ship - they were a lot of fun, and we wished we had seen them more often onboard. They had the late seating, though, and we had early. It would have been great to have had them as tablemates!
  • That warm chocolate lava cake with double chocolate sauce....mmmmm! I really could do without dinners on the cruise, since there is so much food available all day long, but that dessert is not to be missed!
  • The fitness classes and healthy stuff are lots of fun, and feel great. I do not take time for that stuff when I'm not on vacation, even though I should. Anita was really nice, and made the time pass quickly when we were walking.

That's about it - thanks for reading if you've gotten this far!

Sue Holland

WDW1972@aol.com


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