Sue Holland -- September 2003 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite/OKWR) / Disney Cruise (Wonder) Trip
Note: As Sue
spent a great deal of time at Pleasure Island and in other adult venues,
Dates: August 30 - September 7, 2003
Travel Method: Personal car, Disney Cruise Line
Resort: Leesa's (1nt), Disney's Old Key West Resort studio (4nts), Disney Wonder (3nts)
Experience: Frequent visitor, 5th Disney cruise (11th overall) for me, 1st cruise for Patty
As usual, this trip ended changing from the original plans. In order to maximize my vacation time I tend to look for any weeks with paid holidays and build a trip around those dates. Even though the parks may be busier than normal, I'm quite content skipping the parks entirely on those days, so it becomes a non-issue for me. I figured I'd come up on Friday night and spend the night at Leesa's, then move to OKW for a few nights. Later I decided to spend the entire week instead of going back to work mid-week, so I extended through Thursday night. When I was on the DVC cruise in February I was bummed about not having more cruises booked, so I substituted 7 nights of my early November trip for the Magic cruise. That still wasn't enough - I kept looking at the points chart and although I've always said anything less than a 7-night cruise isn't a "real" cruise and isn't worth the effort, I ended up booking the 3-night Wonder. I figured I've cruised the ship several times, I've been to the ports more than enough, but I can treat the cruise as a nice weekend getaway - kind of like being at WDW (outside of the theme parks), but with more food! I canceled my Thursday night at OKW, which made a tiny dent in the cost of the cruise <g>. One of the really great things about DVC is sharing it with friends, and I decided to invite my friend Patty. She's never cruised before, so the 3-night will be perfect for her, and I'm looking forward to seeing her reaction to everything. She's traveled extensively, just never on a cruise ship. I later ended up canceling the Saturday at OKW, and decided to not come up Friday as planned. Friday night is the last night home game for our minor league baseball team, and the season ticket holder dinner is being held before the game. I decided I could skip the Comedy Warehouse that night, and instead I'll drive up Saturday afternoon and bring Leesa to PI that evening. My friend Sheila & her son Colin will be at All Stars for Labor Day weekend, so I'll spend some time with them while we're all at WDW. Sunday I'll check into OKW for 4 nights, and then it's time for the cruise!
When I booked the cruise 7 months ago, I was surprised that 2nd dinner seating was not available. Normally 1st fills up, since there are so many kids on board. I asked to be waitlisted, but when the documents came it said we have 1st seating. We hope to snag a reservation at Palo one night, so for the remaining 2 nights we agreed it didn't matter what time we ate. I was able to book one of the secret porthole rooms - cabins with a porthole that's obstructed by equipment. These are priced as cabins without portholes, so they're very popular. There are only 6 on the entire ship, and they go fast. Unfortunately, the only one left was one that's connected to another cabin. My biggest concern about the cruise is we'll have noisy people next door, or screaming kids. I've never had a problem before, but I've never stayed in a cabin with a connecting door. I'll have to bring earplugs!
I may spend a little more time in the parks this trip, unless it's still feeling incredibly hot to me. Typhoon Lagoon is a sure thing, as I really enjoy relaxing there and I can always sit at the edge of the wave pool reading to keep cool. Comedy Warehouse is the plan for each night, of course. I know Mary won't be back until my trip is almost over, but hopefully we'll have Mark or other great subs filling in for her. Hopefully I'll get to LeCellier and a few other favorite places, although with the cruise coming up food probably shouldn't be a priority!
Once on the cruise, since it's Patty's first time I may end up doing some things I otherwise wouldn't bother with. For example, I've seen the shows - and it's not important to me to see them again, but unless I'm REALLY not in the mood to sit through them, I'll go with her if she wants to see them. There is a brand new show that began 8/28 on the Wonder, so I'll definitely see that. It's called Golden Mickeys and my friend Kathy (works for DCL) saw video of some of the show and said it looked good, so I'll trust her opinion! In Nassau I generally stay on the ship, since I just plain don't like the Bahamas. If I was a gambler I'd go to Atlantis, but gambling bores me. Besides, the ship is so nice when it's not crowded! I'm looking forward to have a nice dinner each evening, and hopefully working off some of the calories so I'm not a different size when I get off the ship on Sunday. With hurricane Fabian out there it's possible DCL may alter the itinerary. I won't shed any tears over missing Nassau if that happens, but I hope Patty gets to see Castaway Cay! We'll be heading to Palo (adults-only restaurant) to make a reservation there one night. This will be especially important since we've got 1st seating - sure hope we're not seated surrounded by a lot of kids in the dining rooms! Note to self: pack extra roll of duct tape <g>
Finally, I'll be making this trip driving a crappy rental car - with none of the conveniences & features I'm used to in my own car. Actually, they claim it's a mid-size, and it might be, but it's a cheap piece of crap! Last week I was in a traffic accident (I wasn't hurt and wasn't at fault) and my poor 4-month old car had to be towed away with a couple of others. Until the insurance gets settled and my car is fixed (both front end and back end were smashed in) I'm slumming it in the rental. The only bright side is I'll be putting the miles on the rental instead of my car, so I'll try to keep that in mind when I start grumbling about the rental <g>.
The plans (subject to change) so far...
DAY 1 SATURDAY AUGUST 30, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: Drive to Leesa's, Atlanta Bread dinner, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: My workout place opens at 9 on Saturday, so I was there shortly after that for one last workout before returning home to shower and finish the last minute packing. I was on the road by 11:15 (I'd figured I'd leave somewhere between 11 & 12) I knew I wasn't planning to go to any theme parks or water parks today, so I only needed to arrive in time to get Leesa, and allow time for an early dinner before arriving at Downtown Disney. With it being a holiday weekend, I had to be extra careful on the drive up due to all the cops expected to be out. Unfortunately, the rental car doesn't have cruise control (why do they even bother to make cars without that??) and I realized I was going to have to hunt for all of my favorite radio stations (they're programmed in on my car - home, Tampa & Orlando). Life can be challenging, but hey - I'm on vacation so I'll try not to sweat the small stuff! The drive actually went well - no cops sighted but I hit an awful lot of love bugs. I was glad to have the rental car then <g>!
I hung out at Leesa's for a while, before dinner at Atlanta Bread. The Kissimmee location has always been and still remains very spotty. Sometimes they're fine, sometimes they're not nearly as good as Gainesville or Tallahassee. Today the crust on the bread was a bit hard - but it was still better than not being there at all. Sheila called as we were ready to leave, and was just finishing a meal at Rainforest Café. We drove to Downtown Disney and parked at PI, then went to meet Sheila & Colin outside Ghiradelli. After getting our chocolate sample and standing around talking, we went to Basin. I tried the sugar scrub at someone's suggestion, and did like it better than the salt scrub. I didn't buy any though - not wanting to carry around a heavy glass jar of scrub stuff! I was able to swap out an item that had gone bad - the manager was very apologetic, and hopefully it was just a fluke problem.
We sat outside for a while, then when it got closer to 7pm we walked back to PI. Once inside we checked in with Susan at CW. The first show had a really small audience, and hardly anyone spoke up to offer suggestions - which makes it tough. Jamie was on the keys tonight. The 7:20 cast was Chris, Joy, Krista, Brian & Lynne (new sub). Joy & Lynne did Fill in the Blank using the entire audience (actually just the 1 or 2 people down front who'd say anything) in a scene at Usinger's Sausage House in Milwaukee. It was a strange scene, and ended with them leaving the sausage house to open an ice cream beer factory in a barn. Overall I enjoyed it, and thought Joy did a good job. They also did Letters to the Editor, writing about dogs. Brian was a geeky guy named Skippy who wrote to People. He was the funniest one here! Krista wrote to Cosmo about having dogs put down and used as decorative items around the home - a little too sick for me. Chris was a woman from Kentucky writing to Playboy wanting them to photograph her wearing some dog fur - not bad, but weird. Overall it was a fairly good show, but not their best work. We talked to Brian after the show, then waited for the next one.
When the next people were seated, Kelly & Alan of the Ft Pierce family were at the end of our row. Kelly came down and talked to us until the show started - it was nice seeing her again. The 8:15 cast was Joy, Krista, Chris, Brian and Jenn (Br). They opened with a funny poem called "Universal is a dumb place". Krista rang the bell for Should Have Said, set in a Denny's. Jenn was a monotone waitress picking her nose, Chris was the harried other waitress, and Brian was Jenn's customer. She ended up leaving her job to run off with Brian, and except for the people in the audience who wouldn't leave with their crying baby - it was a great scene! Just as the kid quieted down, the guy behind me got a call on his cell phone and was having a loud conversation. His wife saw me shoot him a dirty look and he told the caller he had to go, and of course it rang again as soon as he hung up - what is with people?? Anyway, despite the distractions, this show was terrific! After Should Have Said Joy led the others in a Madrigal. In this structure they start with singing 4 tabloid headlines, and then rearrange those words to make new headlines. The original headlines were: 1. Alien mom gives birth to elephant 2. Richard Simmons marries a woman 3. Fabio goes bald 4. Count Chocula's secrets revealed. The different combinations were very funny!
Next was Styles, where the scene has to be done rotating between different styles of tv, music, theater, movies & books. Krista & Chris were sisters, with Chris being the favored one and Krista being the black sheep. This was also very good. The closing number was about a girl at her bachelorette party here tonight who asked a strange man for a condom and when she opened the package and blew the condom up there was numbing gel that got onto her lips and into her mouth. She swallowed some of it, and later at dinner took a drink and since her mouth was numb the drink just spilled/drooled out of her mouth. The rhymes were hysterical, and Krista got the biggest reaction by telling the girl it's ok to spit it out! Krista had a big audience response this whole show - it was a big crowd and they'd scream & whistle when she'd come out on stage! After the show Sheila & Colin headed back to All Star Music, while I talked to Jamie for a while, and then Jenn.
The 9:15 cast was Krista, John, Jake, Lynne & Chris. They did Story Telling, with Jake & Chris telling about the Symbiotic Tree. It was ok - it got some laughs but I know I'm biased because I hate this structure and find it too boring. Next was Forgotten Songs, which is something I DO like! John, Chris & Jake came out as Peter, Paul & Mary to sing Ballad of Chicken. John rejected the suggestion of "My name is Rex and I love sex" so we didn't have a song by that title. Lynne came out on crutches to sing "My foot's killing me" as the lady who'd answered the phone at the beginning of the show & has a broken foot. I thought it was clever to tie back into that, but the song just wasn't funny at all. Krista came out as Judy Garland to sing "I never did get my drink". Not only was her song very funny, she sounded a hell of a lot better than Judy Garland ever did!
Next Chris rang the bell in Should Have Said. Krista was depressed, having had a nervous breakdown because she hates her husband's (John) bratty son (Jake). Eventually John sent Jake away - he wasn't a very likable kid <g> and the scene was very funny. After the show Karl & Philip came in, working as Streetmosphere characters on PI tonight. They were handymen, and came through doing their routine before heading back outside.
Of the 3 shows tonight, the 2nd one was clearly the best, although none of them were bad. I didn't really get a good feel for the new sub - in some things I thought she did pretty well, but it can take a while to get "good" consistently. We left after this show - and drove back to Leesa's. Staying for the next show and having the drive back to Leesa's makes for too late of a night for me - and I was fading during the 9:15 show. I finished up the report, got it posted, and was in bed by not too long after midnight.
Tomorrow I plan to be up and out early - once I check in to Old Key West, then the real vacation begins!
DAY 2 SUNDAY AUGUST 31, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: Move to OKW, Typhoon Lagoon, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: I'd set the alarm for 7:30 and since it's across the room now I bolted out of bed when it went off, hoping Leesa couldn't hear it in her room. Of course, if she did miss the alarm noise, chances are she heard me knock over some knives in the kitchen and send them clattering into the sink (oops - sorry, Leesa). 7:30 to her would be like 3:30am to me, so I try to be quiet at her place! I took a quick shower, got dressed, and made some hazelnut hot chocolate for breakfast. I got online for a while, but was out the door by 9, eating the leftover piece of soft pretzel from Friday night's baseball game (microwaved it's still pretty good - but I didn't bother with any beer).
I called OKW from the road to see if my studio was ready - nope, not this time. So, I headed first to Animal Kingdom Lodge. The security cm there seemed a little suspicious of me when I said I was going to Mara - probably because I was wearing a swimsuit and coverup. Most likely she thought I was one of those obnoxious unauthorized pool hoppers <g> but I only use the AKL pool when I'm staying there. She asked if I was staying at one of the resorts, and I showed her my reservation to prove I was checking in at OKW after my visit to Mara. That seemed to satisfy her, and I was allowed to enter.
Mara was a zoo! Omigod - what a miserable place it was this morning. There were only 2 yogurt/granola things left, so I quickly grabbed one and got in the shortest of the many long lines at the registers. In an "oblivious tourists" moment, nobody seemed to realize the register I went to was open - they were all standing in the other 2 lines without noticing I got right through very quickly (just a couple of people in front of me). The cm at the register was a really nice kid, too - he chatted with me, but perhaps he should have been telling some of the other guests to come on over to his line!
I put the yogurt thing in my little cooler and FINALLY was ready to start my trip! At OKW Angelo was missing, but Casey (bell services) told me he just had a few days off. Check-in went quickly, and then I went back out to drop off the laptop and talk to the bell services guys for a few minutes. As I headed to the car I ran into my friends Tom, Leanne, Kim & Chris, and Tom/Leanne's son Steve, dil Andrea and adorable granddaughter Sidney. They were checking in today for Sidney's first WDW trip!
I drove to Typhoon Lagoon and arrived about 10 minutes after it opened - and it was very busy since it was a holiday weekend! I found a spot in my general area and set up camp, then alternated laying in the sun, reading at the edge of the wave pool, and bobbing in the little waves. A breeze kept it much more pleasant than last month - it was actually a nice day for a water park today. The only negative thing was the lovebugs - they were swarming everywhere! The family next to me said the cm at the lunch place said the lovebugs would be here for the next 5 months! LOL, I corrected that misinformation for them - along with several other wrong things they had been told. Some people were really freaking out over them, but usually someone would tell them the bugs don't bite <g>.
It started raining off & on around 1:30 or 2:00 so I decided to leave. I'd been checking on the studio but it still wasn't ready. Back at the car I ate a little of the yogurt/granola thing and drank some of the orange juice a guy at work had given me (friend of his owns a grove). Being so grungy, I didn't want to go anywhere to eat lunch without being able to shower/dress first! I drove back to OKW and went to the Turtle Pond pool. It was not too busy and nice and quiet - for about 5 minutes. Then a family with 4 kids arrived, and the 2 youngest were 2 boys who were constantly shouting "DAD, DAD, DAD" to get his attention and then would cannon ball into the pool regardless of whether other people were nearby. They drove away the lady who was way off on the side reading her book, and I got sick of them pretty quickly and retreated to my lounge chair also. Even on my chair, I'd occasionally get splashed by the kids - wonder if duct tape works in a pool??? A fairly big group was gathered in the shade by the grills and were having a cookout - looked like fun, and the coals smelled great! I wanted a cup of ice, but every time I went to the snack bar the cm was hiding in the back. Finally I just helped myself to a cup and got my ice from the laundry room.
Around 3pm the studio was finally ready, so I moved my stuff in. I've got one of those weird corner rooms with no windows other than the glass doors to the porch. However, at least I don't have to worry about people seeing in from the outside! I unpacked everything - yes, home at last! There were a couple of errands I needed to run before showering, so I pulled last night's clothes on over my swimsuit and headed out the door - looking like hell but not really caring! I did a brief search for a haircut place, but found none in Crossroads. After a couple of stops related to a future article I went to Premium Outlets to check out Character Premiere but didn't find anything I wanted there. The outlets were busier than I've ever seen them, due to a Labor Day sale. Before returning to OKW I drove back to the Publix shopping center but there was no hair place there either. Guess those areas are too touristy for "ordinary life" shops like a haircut place. I may drag out the yellow pages, or call one of the Disney resorts that has a hair salon. If I can do it on property without paying a completely ridiculous price I might do that.
Back in the studio I finally showered and got dressed, then updated the report before heading out to find dinner! Amazingly, I never had time to get online today. By arriving about 6:30 I was hoping to have an easier time parking, but it was very crowded like the other Sunday nights of holiday weekends. However, I lucked out and found a single empty space in the front row! I went straight to Wolfgang Puck's Express in the Marketplace to get some dinner. This location is so much better than the one on the West Side (which I've pretty much sworn off since they went downhill and never recovered). The menu has a lot more items, including the tortilla soup I love. With the dvc discount the soup came to $4.31, which is a great bargain! I sat at a shady table and ate my soup, and then Sheila & Colin arrived. We browsed through some of the shops before entering PI, and once inside headed straight for the Comedy Warehouse. I expected it to be busy, but the line was already fairly long at 7:30 (45 minute wait)! We got in line, and once seated I went over to talk to regulars Bob & Virginia, David, and Bonnie. Sheila, Colin & I were seated by the phone, and to my surprise it rang! Carol Stein was on the keys, and Chris opened the show with the phone. Sheila did a good job answering the questions and then the cast (joining Chris were Matt, Joy, Brian & Jake) did a great song about her & Colin.
Matt & Brian did Story Telling, and it wasn't bad. The story was called "Gender challenged male" and Matt was a scientist studying Brian. Brian got in touch with his feminine side and went too far, and now his back side is female and the front side is male. There were a lot of pretty clever barbs traded back & forth, but unfortunately I didn't write any of them down! Forgotten Songs was next. Brian & Joy were very funny as a somewhat rude couple from NJ singing about the drivers in Florida - "Green means go, you dope". Brian pretty much walked away with the whole scene, while Joy tried her best to keep up as his wife. Chris & Matt were wanting to secede in a song called "Philadelphia - it's old". It was done as a heavy metal number, and although I don't care for that kind of music, I thought they did a good job. Jake was funny - playing a guitar, wearing a cowboy hat but supposedly an Asian guy singing a song about diversity called "No, speak English". He twisted it around, and was telling people who'd try to talk Japanese or Chinese to him to just speak English.
Next was Scene Freeze, where the action is frozen and they move between 4 different scenes. Chris started with Jello Shot, Joy had meatloaf, Jake had water tube, and Matt had flossing. It was a funny and fast-paced scene that worked well. The couple on my left were visiting CW for the first time, and they loved it. They had no idea what to expect, but they enjoyed the show very much. After the show I talked to Carol for a while, then headed outside. Sheila & Colin headed back to their resort, and I stuck around a little bit longer. The line upstairs was completely filled in, with extra people outside the queue area! I ran into Bonnie & we ended up going back in for the next show.
The 9:15 cast was Philip, Chris, Jake, Brian & Joy. They opened with the name rhyme game, which Christine won. It was a great start to the show! Next Brian led Joy & Philip in a 1-act play. They were teachers at a dog obedience school. Joy had been bitten by a rabid dog (Jake) and Philip was a bedwetter. They fell in love and while in bed the rabid dog came back. To cure the rabies they had to ride Small World repeatedly, and Chris came in as one of the dolls from that ride. It cured Joy, but not Jake --so Joy surprised Philip by getting them a basset hound that meows. Philip closed his eyes, and Joy brought out Jake as the new dog. Jake said "meow" and Philip ended the scene by saying "I only want one pussy in my life" - referring to what he thought was the cat, of course. The audience went wild, lol.
They did Up Your Alley next, hosted by Joy as Wanda Whymihere (why am I here). The topic was N'Sync and Brian came out as Justin Timberlake, with Chris as Britney Spears. Jake was a flaming choreographer named Serge Triggs who was suing the band for stealing his moves. In turn, N'Sync had a restraining order against him for improper touching of the band. Unfortunately, most of the questions were pretty predictable and although the interaction between Brian & Jake was good, the scene overall never really went anywhere.
When the show ended I was a little hungry so I went to McDonald's hoping to get the small size fruit/yogurt parfait. They only sell the big ones here, so I bought one anyway. Back at the studio I mixed up half of it and put the rest away for another day - gotta love these dvc resorts with all the conveniences of home! I got online to download messages while I finished up the report, then got it posted.
Today was a good day, and I finally feel like I'm here! It's wonderful being back "home" at OKW, Typhoon Lagoon was great despite the lovebugs, and the CW shows were very good. It's great being back, and I'm so glad it's not just a long weekend this time! Hopefully I'll get to bed relatively early tonight (around midnight or so) and may get up in time for the Magic Kingdom's opening tomorrow. AK is the early entry park, but I don't want to lose an hour of sleep to get anywhere that early!
DAY 3 MONDAY SEPTEMBER 01, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: MK, Epcot, LeCellier lunch, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: Although I'd set the alarm for 7:30 I was awake just before 7 so I got up then. I can easily spend the extra 30 minutes online. Breakfast was more of the yogurt/granola thing from Mara along with some cappuccino. It looks like hurricane Fabian is expected to turn away from land in the next day or two, which is great news for the cruise! Hopefully the seas will be a bit rough but the weather will be sunny (although on a Disney cruise you spend most of your time docked, unfortunately).
I went out to the bus stop at 8:20 and it didn't take long for the Magic Kingdom bus to arrive. There were only 3 other guests on board, and we had what I thought was surely the slowest bus driver in the world (later this afternoon I would realize this was the 2nd slowest <g>) but at least I was sitting down in air conditioning rather than standing in the heat at the turnstiles! When we got to MK there was no wait at all at security or the turnstiles! Wow - I was shocked! I breezed right in a few minutes before 9 and headed to Space Mountain to pick up a fastpass with a 10:05 return time. They were still holding everyone outside the attraction, so I didn't stick around for a standby ride.
I went to Fantasyland and rode Pooh, Snow White, and Peter Pan with no waits at all. Haunted Mansion was next, and was also a walk-on. I love the MK when it's not crowded! On the way back I decided to ride Small World - you never know when I might run into a rabid dog and need a cure <g>. The ride was a little distracting thanks to a teen with a flash camera a few rows in front of me - yikes! By this time it was 9:55, so I returned to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain. The standby line said 15 minutes, so rather than standing around for 10 minutes for the fastpass line I went in for a standby ride. Back outside I went through the fastpass line but when I realized there was nobody at all on the standby side, I climbed over the railing and rode standby again. It takes so long to get to the rockets and then get back outside after the ride, I decided the next one would be my last. I went back in on the fastpass side and stayed there. It was fun riding 3 times in a row, but it would have been more fun if there was a shortcut to eliminate some of the pre and post ride walking!
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is something I can't skip, so I rode that once and then headed towards the exit. I needed to get my hair trimmed, and had not found a local haircut place when I was driving off property the other day. I stopped at the barber shop on Main Street because I've heard of women getting simple cuts there - but there were far too many people waiting (mostly with kids) when I arrived this morning and again now. Waiting is something I just don't do very well <g>. I'd cut the phone numbers of the Disney hair places out of the OKW paper this morning, and called the one at Yacht/Beach Club. I couldn't believe it when she said a haircut is $45, or $60 with a blow dry! Holy crappola, I'm used to less than $15! I tried Coronado Springs, but they were the same, so I figured the price would be the same centerwide.
I headed to the bus stops and just missed the Swolphin/YC/BC/BW bus. Another came in about 20 minutes, and I got off at Beach Club and walked to Epcot. I stopped at the payphones to look up hair places in the yellow pages, but it was too overwhelming. I didn't see any locations that looked like they were really close (but I don't know many street names) and when I called the Wyndam resort they were also $45 without a blow dry. At that point I decided to just pay the damn price and be done with it - my convenience is surely worth the extra cost. However, next time I am SURE I'll check to see if I need a haircut before I leave on the trip, lol!
Once inside Epcot I headed to LeCellier and they were able to seat me immediately. I called the hair place at Beach Club to see if the 1pm appointment was still open, and booked myself into that time slot. My server was really nice - pretty nice to look at, too! He did a terrific job and made sure I had everything I needed promptly. With time being limited, I didn't bother with a glass of wine, so all I ordered was my cheddar cheese soup. It was delicious, as always! He brought 2 of the pretzel breadsticks, so I ended taking 1.5 of them with me for later <g>. The total check after the DDE discount was $3.40, so I added a 70% tip to bring it up to $6. When the check is that small, a 20% tip would be an insult - in my opinion.
I was in LeCellier less than 30 minutes, so I had time for a brisk walk around World Showcase, and by now it was starting to feel really hot! I exited through Int'l Gateway and returned to Beach Club. The hair place (Periwig's Barber & Beauty Salon) is located by Stormalong Bay, past the fitness center on the Yacht Club side. I was the only customer in there, and the girl who cut my hair did a nice job. She seemed to take a long time, but I guess for $45 (plus tip - but not 70%) they don't want you in and out of there in 5 minutes <g>!
Back out to the bus stop I went, and saw 2 buses for MK and 2 for AK before the first bus for Downtown Disney arrived. Once at the Marketplace I went to the dock to ride the Trumbo Ferry back to OKW and just missed that as well. Disney transportation can be SO tedious! You'd think I'd have learned by now, but I keep getting on those damn buses!
Finally I got back to OKW and went to workout in the fitness center. Unfortunately, most of the machines I either can't figure out or they're too big for me. There's probably a way to move the seats or other parts, but I just did what I could and didn't kill myself trying to do things that were clearly not "fitting" me. They do have free weights, so I worked with them and then headed back to the studio. Silly me thought riding the bus back would be faster, but I got the REAL slowest bus driver in the world. It was unreal, but eventually I got back to the studio.
It was just after 3pm so I figured I'd watch General Hospital and update the report - but some silly golf match was on instead. Bummer! So, I talked to a friend for a while and read some mail, then drove over to Animal Kingdom a little after 3:30. Entry was easy, being so late in the day. The parade was going to start at 4, which makes access to most of the park difficult, so I just headed to Dinoland. I rode Primeaval Whirl with about a 10 minute wait, and then walked right on Dinosaur. The air conditioning in there felt great!! Once that was done I left the park and drove back to OKW.
I got the report caught up, took another shower, IM'd with a few people, and before I knew it, it was almost 7pm! I was hungry, but no time for a meal, so I ate most of the rest of the yogurt/granola from Mara and grabbed the ½ pretzel stick on my way out the door. It was almost 7:30 by the time I got to Downtown Disney and parked at PI, but that still left time for a quick trip through Ghiradelli <g>. It's my personal good deed - making sure the chocolate each day is high enough quality to be sold to all of the guests, lol!
Once inside PI I chatted with cm Susan for a little while, then went to wait for the first show. Several regulars showed up - Bob & Virginia & their (adult) kids, David, Bonnie, so we had a big group. Johnathan from radp and his mom came down to say hi & we talked for a little while - very nice people! Oh - I noticed they finally fixed the burnt out light in the CW sign over the back door. It had been out for several months at least, and I finally mentioned it specifically in one of those email surveys from PI - told them I thought it was awful that Disney hadn't bothered to replace a lightbulb after all this time! Maybe somebody actually read the comment.
Before the show started my dvc friend Debbie (deseylou) came over to say hi - she & hubby Don arrived at OKW today. It was great seeing them again - I've known Debbie for 5 years or so now. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight, and the 8:15 cast was Jake, Philip, Matt, Chris & Brian. They opened with a poem - "The red race car race". Philip & Matt created a Fill in the Blank scene (using entire audience) as 2 adults who had been kids together. Philip had been a geek and Matt was mean to him back then. Philip was now a brain surgeon who played with a rubber duckie, Matt was a lawyer, Chris was Matt's wife, and Brian came in as the owner of Walmart. Jake was Brian's domestic partner Earl, who was a little slow because Philip had operated on him and removed too much of his brain. It was an ok scene - it kept moving.
Next they did Cliché - torturing Brian. He had to first guess that he was in the tropic of cancer, which was really tough! The cliché was given by Debbie and was something her mother used to say to her as a kid - "Tickle tickle under your chin. If you love me you will grin." It was a great cliché and the clues were very funny. Brian had a difficult time with the 2nd part of it, but that just made it even more entertaining. After the show Debbie & Don needed to get back in line so we talked very briefly & said our goodbyes. Johnathan & Patt were joining me for the next show, which was starting in just a few minutes.
The 9:15 cast was Philip, Brian, Chris, Matt & Joy. They did Emotions, which was great! Joy & Philip were working in a pet shop where Philip had accidentally killed Matt's dog. Philip in particular was hysterical in this one - quickly bouncing from one emotion to another as only he can do! Next they did Forgotten Songs and all 3 were excellent! Brian came out in a Home Depot apron singing a cabaret song called "Love in the checkout line" and he was very funny. Matt & Philip were vaudeville singers performing "It's only lying if she finds out" about cheating on your girlfriend. They were both hysterical - the audience was loving it! Joy & Chris were last, as hippies named Sage & Cumin. They sang a folk song called "The day Butch humped my Grandpa." The funniest part was when Philip walked through as an old man with a stuffed dog strapped onto his leg - it was great!
They also did Scene Freeze, but it didn't come anywhere near the quality of Emotions or Forgotten Songs. Brian had potato, Chris had squished boss, Joy had toilet and Matt had Belize - the scenes never really developed beyond some pretty predictable humor, but at least it didn't go on too long. Overall this was a fabulous show - a real winner.
I said goodbye to Johnathan & Patt, and ran into Debbie & Don. Don headed back to OKW but Debbie decided to stay for another show. Normally I don't stick around for the 10:30 but I knew Mary was coming in and I didn't want to miss her first show back from the ride and vacation. It also gave Debbie & I some time to catch up between shows. The 10:30 cast was Mary, Matt, Joy, Jake & Chris. Jake rang the bell in Should Have Said. Matt was a jester, Chris was the queen, and Joy was the dead king. Matt cut her skin off and put it on, becoming the new king - it was somewhat gross but funnier in person than it sounds here <g>. Mary stole the scene with a risque comment. Matt (the jester) pretended to hand her something and said "here, hold my stick with a head on it" (he looked like he couldn't think of what it was called). She took it and then walked offstage saying "why do men always ask me to do that?"
Next was Story Telling, with Chris & Joy telling about the Furry Vehicle. They'd been driving and Joy hit a large wolf. Now they were explaining to the police why her license shouldn't be revoked. It was actually pretty funny - definitely better than I expected! They did Up Your Alley, with the topic of singing. Matt was the host Al Pacino. An audience volunteer was one of the contestants, along with Mary & Jake. Mary was Pebbles BamBam (with her hair pulled up like Pebbles), a singer who works at Universal Studios asking guests what their favorite song is and then singing it for them. Jake was Specialist Mark Horahoe, from the army choir. They all did a good job - especially Matt.
After the show Mary came over. I knew Bob & Virginia's family stuck around so they could see her, and I also knew I'd catch up with her later in the trip, so I hung back & talked with Debbie until they were done. I introduced Mary & Debbie & we chatted briefly before Mary's meeting. Debbie & I headed back to OKW - I dropped her off at their building on the way to my studio. I finished up the report and got it posted, then got offline to clear out the telephone messages that had come in while the phone line was tied up (oops).
Today was a terrific day. I did 3 parks, a haircut, saw some great CW shows, met new friends and saw some old friends! The weather has been cooperating, crowds are fairly small, and I'm very happy to be here - especially with 2 more full days ahead of me before the cruise.
DAY 4 TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 02, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Actual: I'd set the alarm for 7, and got up then. That felt a little on the early side, particularly since I'd stayed for the extra show last night, but I decided to do the Member Update thing again. It gets me up and out of the room, and I can go use the weights next door at the fitness center. The weather is nice this time of day so I decided to walk over to Community Hall. Once there I saw dvc guide Gib, who I hadn't seen since my first 7-day Disney cruise a few years ago! He remembered me, and we talked for a little while. He's not my guide, but he's a really nice guy.
I grabbed a bagel for breakfast the next couple of days (tacky, I know, but it saves me the trouble of going to AKL for yogurt/granola) and a little muffin to eat now, then found a seat. I was talking to the woman in front of me when Debbie & Don arrived. They sat behind me and I was trying to talk to them when this pushy broad from NY got in my face wanting to take my picture because I was eating something. LOL - it was my dvc friend Patti, who shows her love by picking on me <g>. Her hubby was still sleeping, but I was glad she made it to the update. We sat together and tried not to disrupt things with our chatter and laughter. I won a DVC member baseball cap, which Patti was hoping to win. When the update was finished and she hadn't won one, I gave her mine since I don't wear hats.
We took a quick picture - me, Patti & Debbie, then said our goodbyes for now and headed off in different directions. I went to the fitness center and worked out with some of the free weights for a little while, then caught a bus back to the studio and made a cup of cappuccino. I had time to kill before going to Typhoon Lagoon, so I read some of the downloaded messages and just relaxed. For some reason this trip I'm not really keeping up with everything online, so I'm just deleting bunches of threads that I won't have time for. I threw the last pretzel breadstick into my bag and drove to Typhoon Lagoon just before 10.
Typhoon Lagoon was great! I got my exact favorite spot, and it wasn't nearly as crowded as over the holiday weekend. I spent a few hours or so doing the usual stuff, enjoying the sunshine and occasional breeze. Around 1:30 I'd had enough of sweating in the heat so I returned to OKW. As I was walking back from dropping off my used pool towels Mary called, and we finalized plans for a late lunch after she finished a short piece of work at MK. I went back to the studio to get showered & dressed for the rest of the day.
Mary finished up a little earlier than expected and called when she got close to OKW. I gave her directions to the studio and she arrived shortly. She'd never been to OKW before, and liked the studio. We were both hungry so we drove up to Olivia's Café and enjoyed a nice 3-hour lunch. We ate out on the patio because there was a screeching toddler in the restaurant --the noise was piercing and definitely destroyed the atmosphere in there. It was comfortable outside, thank goodness. Dominic was our server and he did his usual excellent job. He recognized Mary and went out of his way to tell her how much he'd enjoyed her performances <g>. He got scared later, long after we'd finished and he thought we were gone one of the other cm's commented to him that he hadn't been out to check on us for a while! We were fine, but he was concerned we'd needed something and he'd neglected us.
I had my usual - the fresh mozzarella and tomato salad. They do a nice job on this here. Mary got the crab cake and the mahi-mahi. Everything was delicious, and it was a very pleasant afternoon, despite the frequent interruptions about my car (the insurance adjuster was at the body shop looking it over - found over $4600 in damage). I was glad to get that process started, and grateful that Mary didn't appear bothered by it (since she didn't take the phone away from me and throw it in the canal I'm assuming she was ok <g>).
Mary headed home to get ready for work and I returned to the studio to watch the news and update the report. I was not thrilled to see an email from work letting me know about a 10am conference call tomorrow - and since the first agenda item has my name next to it I'll need to call in. I had thought about heading to AK early, then hanging by the pool here to do laundry, but I'm not sure that will be possible with a 10am call. Oh well, I've got until morning to figure out what I can do.
Around 7 I got ready and drove over to Downtown Disney. It's great being so close! I stopped at Ghiradelli for a chocolate sample and bought a second one for later. Once inside PI I said a quick hi to Clinta at his bar, but didn't linger since he had a line of guests. Joe & I talked outside CW, just goofing around and laughing for a while. I went downstairs and was under a covered area along the waterfront when a heavy rain came. It rained really hard but didn't last long, thank goodness! Once it stopped David arrived, and Bonnie followed. It's been nice seeing the shows with other CW friends.
Tonight Jim Roberts was on the keys. The 8:15 cast was Mary, Philip, John, Krista & Karl. Mary opened the show but the guy she got on the phone was almost unconscious! It was like pulling teeth to get anything out of him, and he had absolutely no energy at all. It was a real downer - and then his girlfriend of 5 years yelled at him like he was a child when he looked to her for an answer - yikes! Thank goodness Mary is experienced/confident enough to know when to cut the interview short rather than go through every damn question in the routine. She wrapped it up and the cast created a good western ballad with what limited information they had about these people. The audience was very small, which made it even more difficult to get anything started.
Karl rang the bell in Should Have Said, where Krista & John were married runners and Philip was the guy with the starter pistol. He ended up being in love with Krista so he shot John. It was a pretty quick scene, and was somewhat disappointing considering the talent of the 3 actors. Forgotten Songs was next. Philip was Jimmy Bagadonuts singing an opera song called "I'm in the shower". Mary sang a gospel song about her dead dog, called "Roll over Rover". Karl & John came out as Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson to sing "To the girl I've never loved before". John's impression of Willie Nelson was good, but I thought making their song so similar to the real Iglesias/Nelson song was almost like cheating. Overall none of the songs stood out as being as good as the ones from last night. It was a shame to have a song structure and not have Krista participate, too.
They also did Letters to the Editor, with the subject of toilet paper. John wrote to Oprah magazine, Karl wrote to For Him Magazine, and Philip did a good job writing to Southern Living. Overall the show wasn't bad, but it was just ok - a tough start to a slow night. I talked to Mary after the show, then went out to join David & Bonnie for the next one. A trip report reader, Rande, stopped by to say hi - Happy Birthday to you!
The 9:15 cast was Philip, Mary, Jake, Krista & Karl. They opened with a cute poem called "Massachusetts Institute of Technology". Weird name for a poem, but they did a good job. Song Cue was next, with Mary directing the action and interrupting to have the actors create 3 songs of different styles, using the last line of dialogue spoken. The scene involved Philip & Krista as a couple using their bread maker for the first time, with the bread turning out awful. They did a punk rock song called "Germans wouldn't eat that" - I hate when they do punk rock because I hate the noise, but their lyrics were funny (so they did a good job). They did a gospel song called "Bread is life" and a showtune called "I love bread". Both of those were great, and overall it was a funny scene.
They played Schmeopardy, hosted by Krista talking rapidly. Mary was good as a hairdresser named Toni Perm, who works at the Hair Today Salon. She wore a huge triangular wig. Karl was Gabriel the angel, who is a trumpet player. Jake was Mark Myler (a play on Krista's husband's name), a stay at home mom having an easy time raising his 2 kids while his wife is off working. This whole show was definitely stronger than the first one, and the audience was more involved (& bigger).
After the show I talked to Jim Roberts briefly - I never see him on my shorter trips because he doesn't work those nights. Mary came over, and soon I left to return to OKW. Back in the studio I finished up the report, and finished the fruit/yogurt parfait thing from McD's the other night.
Today was another terrific day - although I hate to see these kind of days pass so quickly! Typhoon Lagoon was wonderful, the afternoon with Mary was great, and even with the rain and struggling first show CW was fun. It was also fun seeing Debbie, Don & Patti at the member update this morning. Tomorrow I'll find time for some fun between the conference call at work, doing laundry and packing for the cruise (somehow boring crap like that is less tedious while on vacation)!
DAY 5 WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 03, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: MK or AK, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: Last night I'd decided to go to Epcot for the extra magic hour if I woke up in time (without the alarm). Sure enough, I was up at 7, so that made it possible for me to get there in time to do a couple of attractions before the rest of the guests were admitted at 9. Breakfast was half of the bagel, toasted, with cream cheese, and some cappuccino. The weather people on tv are saying to expect heavy rain starting this afternoon, so I want to get any last outdoor things done before that happens. I also come here often enough that trudging through the parks in the rain is NOT my idea of fun (and is not necessary).
I headed to the bus stop just before 8, hoping I don't regret the decision to use Disney transport again! The bus came pretty quickly, but my wait for a bus to return to OKW from Epcot seemed to take forever! I really should have just driven the car. I arrived at Epcot around 8:15 and there was hardly anyone else there. My first stop was Spaceship Earth, since there was no wait at all. Next stop was Test Track, where everyone used the standby line but the wait was less than 5 minutes. I don't think I've ever seen that before!
By now it was almost 9, so I quickly walked through the Living Seas and then went to the Land and rode the Living with the Land boat ride. After that I figured I'd better get on my way back to the resort since I wanted to try to be in a spot that's somewhat quiet for the conference call at 10. Work called while I was waiting on the bus stop - they weren't sure if I was going to call in, thinking I might already be on the cruise. We got that settled, and I waited impatiently for the stupid bus to arrive. I must have barely missed the last one.
I started the call on the bus, and got off at the first stop since the bus is noisy and I felt it was rude to be sitting there with the speaker phone on (it was the only way I could hear). I walked back to the studio, very aware of all the NOISE here at OKW, lol! There were people starting lawn equipment, leaf blowers, plus of course the buses with their diesel engines and squealing brakes. With the speaker phone turned on I was able to listen hands-free and thus do other things during the call. After my agenda item was completed I changed into my swimsuit, grabbed the laundry, and continued the call on the way to the Turtle Pond pool. The laundry didn't take too long to do, and the pool was nice and quiet - all adults today. I stayed until about 12:30, when I decided I'd probably had enough sun until the cruise.
Back to the studio I went, and watched Port Charles. Man, has that show gotten weird! Maybe it's good it's ending next month <g>. At 1:00 I went in search of food - I was starving! I tried the food court at Riverside, but everything looked pitiful - I used to love this food court but it's been years since I was there. I'd called Olivia's from the pool to see what their soup today was, but it had vegetables in it so it wasn't for me. After finding nothing at Riverside I tried Caribbean Beach, starting to run out of time before my next conference call. At CBR I got a pre-made prime rib sandwich because it was different from the stuff I usually eat. However, I didn't think it through - when bread/rolls get refrigerated they dry out & get hard, so it was kind of tough. I also got a chocolate chip cookie, knowing I'd want something sweet.
I raced back to OKW and set ½ the sandwich out to warm up to soften the bread a little <g>. I updated the report while listening in on the conference call, since I wasn't having to say much of anything. The sandwich tasted pretty good - but it's not something I'd get again. I'm not sure if I'll even eat the 2nd half later or not - no loss if I don't! I'm positive I'll eat the 2nd half of the cookie <g>.
It was supposed to rain this afternoon, so I had planned to pretty much stay home. I showered, packed up just about everything (leaving non-cruise stuff behind rather than lugging it all on the ship) and by 6:30 still no rain! I was ready to get out of here by then, so I drove over to Downtown Disney and wandered around for a while. By 7pm the rain had started - and it rained steadily for most of the evening. Thankfully, although it kept the crowds small, it didn't cause any CW shows to be canceled! When I returned to PI I ran into David & Bonnie, who'd run into each other in the parking lot. Bonnie & I hung out talking with cm Rob until he had some customers at the outside bar. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight.
The 8:15 cast was Mary, John, Lisa, Joy & Matt. They opened with a poem called "Don't give the leprechaun a lima bean." Next Matt directed a musical called Wolking (sp?), which is the most boring place in England. Mary, Joy & John were boring residents who sang about their dull lives there. Then, a rock star (Lisa) who loves bingo moved to town and shook things up. She went to play bingo at the church, and won - the prize here is bacon. Eventually the boring people got new hairdos so they could become fun people, and they ended the play with a big rock & roll number. It was a pretty good scene - although Lisa's screeching (as the rock star) was a bit much! She's very good - she just made my ears hurt in this one.
Joy & John did Story Telling, and I overheard David say he loves this structure. I'm glad not everyone hates it like me <g>, since they do it so often! Anyway, the story was called Shiny Underwear. They were a couple with issues about dressing. Joy would tell him what to wear, and he eventually tired of that and developed an affinity for mylar rather than fabrics. There were some very funny lines, and the audience seemed to enjoy the scene. They closed the show with a western ballad about a lady who was watching a movie on a plane and jumped up out of her seat to yell to the actor in the movie. It was still raining, so they let us stay inside until the next show.
The 9:15 cast was Mary, Mark, Joy, Lisa & John. The audience was very small, but they were full of suggestions! They did a Fill in the Blanks using the entire audience - Mark & Joy created a scene about a gun and laughter. They were going to a civil war recreation (gag), doing the Battle of Aruba. Joy streaked and the other side laughed at her - it was a very funny scene, with lots of witty comments. Next Lisa & Mary created an opera song called "A day in the Life". Lisa was upset her husband had left her for a younger woman (Mary), then Mark came in as the cheating husband and eventually John came in as his other lover. Both Lisa & Mary did a nice job singing it as an opera (both have nice voices), and the lyrics were quite funny!
They did Actor's Nightmare, where everyone but John read all of their lines from scripts and John had to make it all make sense. He was working on Wall Street, but I don't remember the details. They closed with an embarrassing story, but nobody would raise their hand so I retold my story of walking off the stage at Fairy Tales a year or so ago. I'd told it once before shortly after it happened, but none of the actors were the same (otherwise I would have picked a different story). They did a good job with it, creating an "All Right Now" song. This show was my favorite of the night - everything worked really well!
There's a long break before the next show, so I waited outside under cover. Patty arrived for the next show, and I gave her all of her cruise documents for tomorrow! I'd been watching for dvc Patti at the earlier shows and she FINALLY showed up at this show - sneaking up on me once again. She met Patty - told her she was as pretty as her sister. Me she just called a skinny broad. Oh well, she wouldn't pick on me if she didn't love me, so I can live with it <g>!
The 10:30 cast was Mary, Mark, Krista, Matt & John - a great group. They opened with the name rhyme game, which Mark won. Krista did really well for a while, but she was in the spot where she had to come up with 3 rhymes rather than 1 each time, and eventually backed out. Mark rang the bell in Should Have Said. Matt was a CEO who was interested in Krista, who'd made a great presentation she stole from Mary. John was in as a worker who was getting married to Mitch, who evidently Matt had a fling with. There were lots of office politics jokes, and it was fun to watch.
They did Forgotten Songs next. Mark was an at-risk kid named Jimmy singing "Outbound Hacker." The govt uses these kids to hack into computer systems of countries we don't like <g>. Matt & Krista were a couple of singles "Cruising in the Rain" who met each other on the street. Mary & John were mother and son Rover, with dog David, singing "He loved his dog too much." I didn't LOVE any of the songs, but they weren't bad.
Next they did the new structure - Hot Seat. Mark was sent outside and suggestions were taken from the audience to identify a crime he'd committed, the place he'd committed it, and the reason why. Then Mark was brought back in by John & Krista as cops who arrested him and were interrogating him to get his confession. They gave clues (similar to Cliché, but not exactly) until Mark confessed that he had put butt balm (a cycling thing) on his elbow while seated in the middle seat on an airplane because he was hungry for love. It was excellent - I loved it! It seems to be like Cliché in the sense that it'd be hard to make it suck <g>.
After the show we said goodbye to Patti, then Patty & I headed out to the parking lot. I'd thought about staying for the late show since it was my last night and the cast looked really good, but I'll be back in 9 days. Besides, getting home at 1am and then having 4 shows to write up and email to read makes for a very late night! I drove back to OKW one last time for this trip. Back in the studio I recharged the camera battery, ate the other half bagel, finished & posted the report, and spent a little time online.
Tomorrow we cruise! The rest of the report won't be posted until Sunday 9/7 since I'm not planning to get online during the cruise.
DAY 6 THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 04, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: Pick up Patty, board Disney Wonder, Golden Mickey show
Actual: I'd set the alarm for 8 but once again was up at 7. The cell phone was not charging - not sure if the problem is the phone or the charger, but I'll try charging it in the car on the way to the port. I have the phone through work, so I can send someone out to get the problem corrected on Monday - and I won't need the phone while cruising anyway.
The day looked very promising - the tropical system had stalled last night, so we have sunshine now. It's supposed to rain later this afternoon, but as long as we're already on the ship I'm not too bothered by that. Plus, at 5pm we'll be sailing away from it! I had an unusual breakfast - cappuccino with the rest of the prime rib sandwich and chocolate chip cookie from CBR. I had trouble staying online, so after losing the connection a couple of times I just gave up and started my offline time a bit early. After packing the rest of my stuff and putting it in the car, I drove over to pick up Patty at 10. I got there a little early and visited with Mary for a while, and soon we were on our way. The drive to the port was very easy - not much traffic at all and the weather was still nice. Once at the port we dropped off our luggage, parked the car, went through security, checked in, and got in line to board. It all went very quickly - no waits or delays at all.
They started boarding around 11:45, which surprised me! They announced the Holland & Thompson families, and Patty made some crack about being lesbians for the cruise. Without my boots though, I'd never be able to pull it off, lol! We were directed to Parrot Cay but chose instead to go to Beach Blanket Buffet. Once there we realized we weren't hungry at all, so we went and wandered around the ship. Patty loved it - the Wonder IS a pretty ship, and it's much nicer than the couple of cruise ships she toured in the past. We took lots of pictures and Patty kept remarking that it seemed like we were the only ones on the ship!
We snuck down to our stateroom - #5024 to take a peek. Prior to that she went under the barricade and went into someone else's cabin to take pictures <g>. I was the "lookout"! Luckily we weren't caught and thrown in the brig! Our cabin is great - same as all the others on the ship, but with the "secret porthole". There are 6 cabins on deck 5 that have stuff outside the window blocking part of the view, so these are sold as category 10 rather than category 9. We were happy with the amount of water we can see, and ours is the most obstructed of the 3 on each side of the ship. My Castaway Club (repeat cruiser) gift was the beach towel, along with a couple of pins. I gave one to Patty, since I don't need 2 more of them.
I was happy to see that my dining rotation request was met, so we're scheduled for Triton's on Friday night. This was important because we wanted to do Palo's on Friday night and Triton's was the meal I wanted to skip (there's not really anything on that menu that I really want). We're still on 1st seating, but we can live with that since it's only for 2 nights. We walked around some more, then went up to get something to eat. Neither of us ate much, but we loved the chilled strawberry/banana soup! Wow - I'd cruise just for the chilled soups <g>. I took a chocolate mousse, but didn't eat it - couldn't detect any real chocolate taste so it wasn't worth the calories. Instead I ate Patty's other oatmeal raisin cookie - that was much better.
After lunch we went down to Wavebands and booked Palo for Friday night at 7:30. That done, we continued touring the ship, then went back to the stateroom and unpacked. Crew members were working outside our porthole so Patty tapped on the window and nearly gave the guy a heart attack <g>! He thought we were complaining about their noise, but we didn't care. Once the ship sails they won't be working, so it's no big deal. Our cabin steward Budi stopped by to introduce himself and make sure everything was ok.
We went back out and walked around some more, and took a tour of the Spa. I got to see the infamous surial bath room that Adie & Lisa tried to sign me up for. Why can't it be a couple of guys who invite me??? <g> After the tour it was almost time for the lifeboat drill so we returned to our stateroom to don the life jackets. I found mine had the number of the stateroom next door, but up at the grill I ended up standing next to the woman staying there - wearing a lifejacket with our number! We switched after the drill.
We walked around the ship some more, showed Patty what Palo looks like (very pretty), and waited to sailaway. Departure was delayed while we waited for a DCL bus full of passengers. We sailed about 5:30, in the rain. Since we were on deck 4 I'm not sure how the rain impacted the Sailaway Party on deck 9. We had barely enough time to freshen up before dinner at 6. I changed, but Patty was already in a dress and was fine for dinner. Tonight we're in Parrot Cay. As we walked through the atrium Mickey and the Queen of Hearts were posing for photos. A piano player was doing a nice job providing background music, but I really felt someone of the caliber of Carol Stein would have enhanced the experience.
We're at a table for 8 against the window. The first people to join us were a couple with an 8-year old boy (oh joy). Next a single dad with his 2 young boys joined us. As you can imagine, I was decidedly less than thrilled, but then I remembered I'd called to change our dining rotation to suit the Palo plans, and realized it was my own fault we were seated in kiddie land. Fortunately, all 3 boys are very well-mannered and although I'd still prefer the company of adults, for only 2 nights we're both fine with the kids. Thank goodness it looks like the duct tape won't be needed on these 3.
For dinner Patty got the chilled avocado soup which she said tasted like salad dressing. It came with a small pistachio cheese wafer, which was interesting. She also got the crab newburg which was pretty good. Her entrée was the potato crusted grouper, which was ok. I got the fresh fruit, which was very good. My entrée was the mixed grill. I had a very dry piece of beef, shrimp (Patty said they were ok), small lamb chop and a piece of sausage. I ate a couple bites of each, plus a little of the macaroni & cheese. For dessert we both ordered the bourbon pecan pie, which was a LARGE piece and quite tasty. It was full of pecans and not overdone with that sticky sweet stuff. Overall we agreed dinner was good, but nothing special. It certainly doesn't live up to the food on my HAL cruises or many of the places Patty has eaten. That said, neither of us is really complaining - just stating the facts. We're still glad to be here.
After dinner we retured to the stateroom and found a cute towel dog waiting for us - wearing my sunglasses. We opened the drapes and folded Patty's bed back up into a sofa. She chose the sofa bed in order to be next to the window <g>. Our stateroom location has proven to be extremely convenient to just about everything. We headed back downstairs so that I could get a kir royale. I'd always seen these listed in the Personal Navigator but didn't know what they were until someone suggested I'd probably like it. I got one on the Zuiderdam in June and it was delicious, so I was looking forward to them on DCL. We could feel the movement of the ship quite a bit during dinner, perhaps because we were going faster to make up the time lost by the late departure. It was especially fun walking since I was wearing hooker heels tonight! We agreed if there wasn't any movement it would feel like we were at a hotel, so the movement is a good reminder we're on a cruise ship!
At the champagne station the sign said a free souvenir glass came with each champagne purchase. I ordered my kir royale and Patty ordered a bellini. The souvenir glass was a plastic champagne flute with the DCL logo and "Celebrates July 4, 2003" printed on it! How tacky is that?? After the poor confused cm got our charge tickets finished, we tried to toast our cruise but somehow the "plonk" of plastic wasn't nearly as festive as the clink of crystal would have been. Oh well, the plastic is pretty and there's a really nice little park near Mary's house where we can enjoy drinks in the future without worrying about broken glass.
After looking forward to the kir royale since June it was a bitter disappointment, and I'm not likely to buy another from DCL. It tasted more like mouthwash than a champagne cocktail - guess they use a different champagne than HAL since there are only 2 ingredients in the drink. Eventually I got used to it, but it lasted almost an hour before I finished it <g>.
We went to the Walt Disney Theater and found seats for Disney Dreams. This show is THE big show for DCL so far, and Patty was impressed. I don't see it every cruise, but since it was her first time I didn't want her to miss it. They had some "commercials" before the show - basically showing other entertainment options for later tonight. They showed a clip from Barrel of Laughs, the dueling piano place. The clip was pretty bad - I overheard people changing "Carol Stein, Carol Stein" and someone whispered that there'd be no need for 2 pianists if they had the one & only Carol Stein.
After the show we stopped by the stateroom to drop off our fine plastic champagne flutes - couldn't risk anyone stealing them from us when we weren't looking <g>. We went down to Wave Bands for the 10:15 comedy/magic show Rich Purpura does. The room was somewhat smoky, since smoking is allowed in one section, so I thought it was pretty gross. It wasn't so bad I couldn't stay, though. I've seen Rich perform at least a few times on Disney ships, and he's quite popular. He does a mix of standup and magic tricks, and picks on people in the audience. We both enjoyed his show - got several laughs!
When the show ended they had hors d'oeuvres and pastries set up just outside the door, but neither of us were hungry for any more food. We walked around out on deck, checked out the hot tub action, and paused to watch the teens playing a game on the stage by the Goofy pool. Back inside we browsed through the shops and I bought myself a cute girly shirt - black with glittery cruise stuff on it. After shopping we decided to call it a night, and returned to the stateroom since it was approaching midnight. I wasn't really tired, but I wanted to be up early in the morning and not waste the day!
Today was a terrific day, and a great start to this mini-cruise weekend!
DAY 7 FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 05, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: Nassau (enjoy ship), Palo dinner
Actual: I'd set my alarm for 7:30 but was up before 7. There wasn't any point to staying in bed when there was a whole cruise ship to enjoy. Like at the theme parks, the uncrowded early morning hours are my favorite time of the day. I took a quick shower and dressed in a gym outfit, then went up to deck 9 to make my cappuccino (brought my powder, used Disney's hot water). From there I went down to deck 4 (promenade deck) and walked 10 laps. We were approaching Nassau, and it was a gorgeous sunny day! I noticed a glass we'd seen abandoned on the ship on deck 4 yesterday was now gone - on HAL last June it took days for some of that stuff to get picked up, so cheers for Disney!
I went back to the stateroom to check on Patty & she was awake. We were pulling into Nassau's harbor by now. Patty jumped in the shower and I headed up to the gym to use the free weights to work the upper body, then intended to do the 9am Abs, Hips & Thighs class to work the lower. Patty hadn't brought her sneakers, so she wasn't able to use the gym. I was the only person who showed up for the class, so the fitness instructor asked if I would rather have a class in pilates - for which she said they normally charge $60. I had her show me one pilates exercise, then she took me through the gym equipment and served as my personal trainer for a half hour! The individual attention was great, and she was very complimentary about what I've been doing for fitness.
At this point it was after 9:30 and the breakfast buffet ended at 10, so I went to Beach Blanket Buffet. I got some melon, a small chocolate croissant, and mixed some strawberry yogurt with some meuselix. Patty had just finished eater her breakfast and came over to join me at a table outside. Everything was good, and the day looked beautiful at that point. She headed into Nassau to explore and I went up to deck 10 to lay near the adult pool. Soon it started to sprinkle, then it absolutely poured. I went down under cover on deck 9 to wait it out reading my book - the rain ended within an hour. When the rain finished I went back up to deck 10 and spent the next hour or 2 either laying on my chair or lounging in the adult pool.
Other ships in port included one from Royal Caribbean - most likely the one in port with us yesterday. It's on the other side of our dock, so I was able to get a good look at it, and I'm definitely NOT impressed at all. Too many of the little nice things I like about HAL are just not there and I know I'd be dissatisfied for that reason. On our other side is NCL's Nowegian Dream. This looks like a very new ship - and has the Statue of Liberty painted on the side. It's interesting, but again - NCL is not a line I consider for my cruises. On the other side of NCL is HAL's Zuiderdam, the ship I was on in June. All I can see is the smokestacks, but I know it's a gorgeous ship, and the nicest of the 4 here today (although Disney is the prettiest from the exterior).
I walked around on the upper deck, then went down to the stateroom to get changed out of my swimsuit. From there I went back up to Scoops on deck 9 to get some ice cream for lunch, then back down to deck 4 to the Walt Disney Theater for the 2pm movie - Freaky Friday. It was starting to rain again, so the movie seemed like an especially good idea! There weren't that many people attending, and it was a cute movie. I thought the funniest scenes were all crammed into the preview, though - but I don't regret going.
After the movie I left the ship to go see the Zuiderdam up close, and took a few pictures. I didn't want to go into town so I just got back on the ship pretty quickly. I went walking around and found Patty on deck 4 so we hung out for a while. We found our boarding photo and enjoyed looking at the photos of the different princesses with the guests. Those princess faces were just frozen with the exact same smile in photo after photo, lol!
Patty went down to watch Bingo and I went to the stateroom to shower. We're eating in Palo at 7:30 tonight so there wasn't any rush to get ready by 6 today! Also, we won't have any kids at our table --in fact, no kids in the dining room at all (yay)! I updated the report and got ready for the rest of the evening. I needed to iron my pants for tomorrow night, so I went to the laundry room on deck 6 and took care of that today as well.
We left the stateroom around 7 and watched the Zuiderdam sail away on her way back to Ft Lauderdale. It's such a pretty ship, and the sun was starting to set in the background. At 7:25 we realized we'd better get to Palo, and hurried to the other end of the ship. At Palo they don't book it so every table is filled at all times - it's very uncrowded, and so much nicer than the regular dining rooms. Our server was very attentive and took good care of us. The breadboy brought some great bread and different spreads - all of which were delicious. We both got a glass of the Moscato white wine I used to always get at LeCellier.
For an appetizer Patty got the grilled portobello mushroom with polenta and I got the buffalo mozzarella and plum tomato. Both were delicious, and very attractively presented. Patty LOVED this restaurant! For entrees she got the salmon and I got one of the specials - veal. The salmon was a huge piece, served on a bed of risotto. The veal came with mashed potatoes and both meals were excellent. For dessert we both got the chocolate souffle with chocolate and vanilla sauces, plus vanilla bean ice cream. Yummmmmm! I ate every damn bite of all 3 courses, which is usually about as likely as being struck by lightning <g>. I was hungry, plus it was all too good to leave on my plate to be thrown away.
After dinner we walked around on the deck, and photographed scenes from the Royal Caribbean ship sharing our dock. Let this be a lesson to everyone - when in your cabin at night across from another ship, CLOSE your damn drapes! We saw 2 women and couldn't figure out what they were doing, but with Patty's zoom we saw one was cleaning the other lady's ear. Eeewwww - more than we really wanted to see, lol! We were able to check out the dining room tables and see what people were wearing, but it was harder to tell specifically what they were eating. We saw enough to confirm that Royal Caribbean is NOT for either of us - the décor of this ship definitely has a low-budget look to it, with the exception of the dining room looking nice.
We walked around and peeked into the kitchen at Animator's Palate and saw them preparing the lobster/shrimp wrap for tomorrow night's dinner. From deck 4 there are 2 windows into this kitchen. We walked around some more, and went back to the stateroom about 10:30. Budi had left a towel elephant this time, along with our chocolate mints. We also got an invitation to the Castaway Club cocktail reception tomorrow before dinner. Yay - free drinks!
We went back out to watch the ship cast off - first from deck 4 and then up top on deck 10. Some people from Royal Caribbean waved us off, and it was pretty sailing out of Nassau with all of the lights. The deck party was in full swing - just a whole lotta noise, in my opinion. I generally hate the deck parties anyway, but at this one the band was loud and didn't sound very good. They had a buffet on the other side, but neither of us wanted or needed food! We went down by the adult pool, where a quieter musical group was performing. I didn't think they were much better in terms of quality of their singing, but at least it wasn't just noise. Damn, where's Carol Stein when you need her? She could have had the crowd rocking with her piano playing, and you'd be able to tell it was music <g>.
I went back to the stateroom and finished up the report, then read for a short while. Patty went back to deck 4, hoping to see a falling star. It's a beautiful night to be on a cruise ship - standing at the railing, watching the water & the stars, slight breeze in the air - it doesn't get much better than this!
Today was a great day - despite the periods of rain. Patty got to see Nassau, so she doesn't feel like she's missing anything. I enjoyed working out, spending the morning relaxing on the ship, and our dinner at Palo was excellent! That will clearly be THE meal of the cruise - both for food quality/presentation and the wonderful kid-free environment!
DAY 8 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 06, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: Castaway Cay
Actual: I was up on deck before 7, hoping to catch the sunrise as we approached Castaway Cay. I checked the Personal Navigator, but they don't publish the sunrise/sunset times - what's up with that??? That's basic info, so I was disappointed. I didn't want to turn on the tv to get it, since the tv was in Patty's side of the stateroom and she was asleep. I got into my swimsuit and went up on deck to watch the approach to Castaway Cay. The sun had just come up, so I missed that, but it was still pretty. Soon Castaway Cay could be seen, and we backed in to the dock. There was rain in the distance and it was coming towards us but ended up going around us instead of over the top of the ship. Crew members were busy scurrying around removing things that shouldn't get wet (salt & pepper shakers, etc). There was another rainbow this morning (one yesterday as well), although nothing near as big or pretty as the rainbows over Niagara Falls at the start of Mary's ride. These were stubby little half-rainbows here <g>.
Docking was interesting - I watched them toss out the ropes and secure us to the dock. Those ropes must be very heavy when wet, as it takes 2 men to lift each one over the post. Around 8 I went to Beach Blanket Buffet and brought breakfast for both of us back to the stateroom, along with coffee for Patty. We ate at the little table by our porthole, which was nice. Patty filled me in on the rest of her evening - she saw a falling star then stopped by the Cadillac Lounge where the piano player was doing a terrible job. I'm not sure where they're finding their entertainment staff on this ship, but so far several have been mediocre or worse.
We went ashore around 8:45 and I was surprised there wasn't a huge crowd waiting to get off the ship as usual! We walked to the far end of the family beach and had the entire area to ourselves for as long as we were there! I've never seen Castaway Cay this uncrowded, but it sure was nice! Unfortunately, we had very little sun, thanks to the storm brewing. Patty went into the water, I laid on the hammock, and then we just lounged around reading our books for a while. By 10:30 or so it was starting to rain, and the sky from that direction was so black and stormy we decided to head back to the ship. Hordes of people were just arriving on the island - too bad, they all missed the only rain-free period this morning!
We dropped some stuff off in the stateroom, then Patty went up to the hot tub on deck 9 while I got us chairs for reading on the covered deck 4, facing Castaway Cay and the storm. By now there was thunder and lightning as well - terrible weather for a beach day. We had a thank-you note from our server at Palo last night, which is a nice touch.
I ended up freezing out on deck 4. The wind was blowing the rain towards me and it was quite chilly. It was so overcast at times I lost sight of the island - even though we were docked right there! I covered up with a towel and read for a while, then eventually went to wander around the ship. We both ended up back in the stateroom and sat around talking for quite a while, then went up for lunch about 1:30. They had the food normally served at Cookie's BBQ on the island brought back to the ship.
We ate at Beach Blanket Buffet since we were still in swimsuits, and everything was good. I had a few ribs and slice of pizza. Patty tried the lobster burger and some other stuff. Her favorite item was the mac & cheese from the kids' line, lol. We went back downstairs after lunch and hung out in the stateroom looking at photos for a while. Patty then went to try the hot tub again (it was too crowded before), and I started packing my stuff. I thought about trying deck 4 for reading again, but it was still raining and I didn't want to be out there if I couldn't stay warm. I've never had a rainy day like this on a cruise - guess it was bound to happen sooner or later!
In the end I decided to go up to deck 4 after all, but to walk rather than read. Soon I tired of that - actually, I grew weary of having some bratty kid dart in front of me out of nowhere when I'd be walking somewhere. Most of the kids on the ship are well-behaved from what I've seen, but there are always some who run wild and the parents either don't know or don't care. It was getting close to 4, so I returned to the stateroom and took my shower since the Castaway Club reception starts at 5:15.
Patty returned for her shower just after I'd finished. I decided against going down to deck 4 to watch the sail away since it was still raining somewhat. At 5:15 we went to the Castaway Club reception, which was held in Studio Sea. I had an idea the large Phillips group on board meant there were fewer repeat cruisers than usual, and I was right. They had the usual buffet of hors d'oeuvres - mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, tea sandwiches, fruit, quiche, etc. Drinks were free - we both started with white wine and I had a 2nd glass to take with me. Captain Henry stopped by to chat - what a personable man he is! He's been with Disney (coming from Cunard) for 8 years and had a lot of say in DCL before the first ship sailed. A friend of Patty's worked setting up the entertainment venues back then, and the captain knew her. We each had our picture taken with him - he's truly one of the most friendly captains I've ever met on any ship!
Rachel the cruise director also stopped by, and she was a delight as well. I think it really helped having a small crowd, as we were able to have a pleasant conversation beyond "thanks - hope you had a nice cruise"! Kenny was on the piano providing background music, and sounded better than he did in the Cadillac Lounge last night. The place was just screaming for Carol Stein, though <g>.
All of a sudden it was 6pm and we needed to get to dinner! Tonight we're in Animator's Palate, and the family with 1 boy was not there. Turns out they weren't there last night either, so it was just the single dad & his 2 boys last night. Tonight dinner was a pleasure. We enjoyed talking with the dad, and the 2 boys (age 6 & 8 or so) are really terrific kids. They earned the cruise by getting all A's and behaving well in school. As much as I really can't stand kids - I have to admit it was a pleasure having these 2 at our table.
For dinner tonight Patty had the lobster/shrimp wrap we saw being prepared last night, the butternut squash soup (not nearly as good as Puck's so she barely touched it) and the veal chop with corn risotto. I got the gazpacho and instead of an entrée ordered the caesar salad with some chicken breast sliced on top. It was more than enough, and very good. For dessert we both ordered the berry shortcake, which was different than in February and not very impressive to me at all. It had 3 slices of poundcake, which I don't care for enough to consume the calories. Patty liked it, though. Our server also brought us a piece of the cheesecake, which was her recommendation. I think I ate the entire piece - it was much better than the shortcake!
After dinner we walked on deck 4 in the wind, and saw a really pretty sunset. I ran back to the stateroom since it was only 1 deck away, and updated the report while Patty waited on a lounge chair. When I was done I went back to get her and we went to see Golden Mickeys - the new show. They're doing a red carpet thing, where guests walk down the red carpet by the shops and some are filmed talking to the paparazzi. Once they're seated, they see themselves on a giant screen in the theater.
Patty got us great seats while I went down to the Cadillac Lounge to get another glass of wine - this time the good stuff! Kenny the Carol Stein wanna-be was performing, but I was only there long enough to get my glass of Moscato. Surprisingly, it's cheaper on the ship than it is at LeCellier, even though both are Disney.
Golden Mickeys was a terrific show! It's like an awards show, and eventually most of the Disney character and major songs play a part. They even have a hunky half-naked guy as Tarzan - omigod, thank you Walt! Some of the characters I had to ask Patty "who the hell is that?" but I knew most of them. I'm just not even remotely interested in cartoons, so basically anything that came out after my son got to be a certain age I didn't have to go see! Anyway, the show was entertaining without being Disney sugary-sweet, the music was good, and the whole production was very enjoyable. I can only take Disney Dreams once in a great while, but this I'd gladly see again next time it's presented on one of my cruises. Unfortunately it won't be on the Magic by the time I cruise with Sheila on 11/8 - it's a shame she won't get to see it!
After the show we went back to the stateroom to finish packing the bags we needed to put out in the hallway. Next we filled out the comment card - a joint effort. After that we sat around talking & laughing until it was time to get some sleep.
Today didn't exactly go as planned, thanks to the miserable weather, but we both still had a nice time. It's not the first time I experienced rain on Castaway Cay, but it's the first time the entire day was a washout! Of course, the worst day on a cruise still beats the best day at work!
DAY 9 SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 07, 2003
Who: Sue, DVC Member
Plan: Leave Disney Wonder, Drive home
Actual: I got up early - shortly after 5:30. It was still dark outside, and we were already docked. I sat on deck 4 and read more of my book, giving Patty an extra hour to sleep. When I returned to the stateroom after 7, she was already up and had gone for breakfast <g>. I packed up the laptop and we headed out. Beach Blanket Buffet wasn't terribly busy, so I grabbed something to eat while Patty got a table. Neither of us had any desire to report for breakfast in Animator's Palate at 6:45 am, and then be part of the hordes of people waiting to get off the ship at 7:30. Instead, we sat at Beach Blanket while all of that was going on, then easily walked right off the ship.
We stopped at Patty's to upload the photos to Ofoto, since they have high-speed cable and I only have dial up. After I got home I finished titling them, and the photos can be found at url: http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=34p4jkm.4vagewsn&x=0&y=7uvdhc
Rather than summarize stuff I've already written, I'll just toss out some random thoughts.
This was the first time I had a stateroom that connected with another, and I'll never do that again! We both loved the convenience of the location of #5024, but neither of us felt being able to hear the next door neighbors cough, sneeze and talk was acceptable. They were not loud people at all (we met them), but the connecting staterooms are just that poorly soundproofed.
This was probably the worst weather I've seen on my cruises, particularly the rain ALL day long at Castaway Cay. Even in Alaska we didn't have any days that were that rainy! However, although I would have preferred sunshine, I cruise enough that it's no big deal if I hit an occasional rainy day or 2. I'll look forward to better weather in November on the 7-day Magic, and on my 10-day HAL in March! We still enjoyed ourselves just being on the cruise, even with the rain.
There was a large group on board from a company called Phillips something. Of the 2400 passengers on board, 1300 or 1600 of them were this group. The owner of the company treated the entire staff & their families to the 3-day cruise. Despite their large number, they were a great group - there was nothing to indicate this was "their" cruise and the rest of us were just along for the ride. They had a banner up at the deck party and they did a group photo one day, but otherwise unless you saw the sea of red t-shirts you'd have no idea they were all together.
Palo - Omigod, don't miss it! Duct tape the kids if necessary & stuff them in the closet, but don't miss the chance to eat at Palo. It's so far superior to the quality of the food and the service in the dining rooms. It's what cruising "should" be. While the food in the dining rooms is good, the atmosphere is more like eating at Denny's rather than dining on a cruise ship. If you've only sailed on Disney, you probably think I'm sounding like a jerk, but there is simply nothing special about the regular dining rooms on the ship. The china is ordinary, the food is mass-produced, and depending on your seating & rotation you're surrounded by kids (some well behaved, some badly in need of duct tape). Definitely not our idea of "dining", but for 2 nights it was tolerable. In November I won't try to change my rotation - since by default they'll put us on the one with the least # of kids, plus I have late seating for that cruise.
I'd always said I'd never do a 3-day cruise, but here I am. As it stands, I'd never recommend it for someone who doesn't have the luxury of being able to cruise fairly often. It simply is not a "real" cruise - it's a taste, or a tease. Even the 4-day is borderline, but if you're planning a trip to WDW and decide you don't have time to take a cruise but want to tack on a couple of days afterwards before going home, then this cruise could fit that bill. I don't think it's worth traveling on just the cruise unless you live within an hour or so of the port.
My 5 nights at WDW before the cruise were fabulous - as always. I greatly enjoyed the shows at the Comedy Warehouse, and relaxing at Typhoon Lagoon - and spending time with a number of friends.
Despite anything that might be read as "negative" in this report, overall it was a fabulous week, and I'd repeat it all again this week if I could! My next trip begins Friday - 5 days from now. I'm returning to WDW in order to see Greg performing again at the Comedy Warehouse - his first time back since moving to NYC earlier this year. It's a short trip, but I couldn't pass up the chance to see him - especially since he'll be working on my nights.
Until next time - thanks for reading.