Jimmy Rose -- September 1998 -- Walt Disney World (GFRS) / Disney Cruise Trip
9-13-98 thru 9-21-98
Day 1- Were Off
I booked this trip almost 2 years ago, for our 20th wedding anniversary. I have never planned something so far in advanced. It took forever for this trip to get here, and now it has come and gone. I am 38 and my wife is 35 and our anniversary was September 15, 1998. I booked room 8102 on the Disney Magic, and the Grand Floridian. I later upgraded to concierge, just because I thought it would be a nice addition. As it turn out it was the best thing I could have done. If you ever get a chance stay at the Grand Floridian, stay in the main building concierge rooms.
We checked into the airport at 4:45 am, for a 5:45 am flight (too early). We arrived in Orlando at 10:00 am. Waiting for us as we got off the plane were two Disney Cruise Lines cast members. They quickly escorted us to another cast member who in turn took us to the buses. After a short wait we were on our way to the Grand Floridian. Our first stop was at the Contemporary Resort, some people got off, next stop was the Polynesian Resort, everybody except my wife and I got off the bus. Next stop Grand Floridian. A Disney cruise line cast member meets us at the bus and escorts us into the Grand Floridian. This was our first stay at the Grand Floridian and was completely awe shocked at this resort. It is absolutely beautiful. Check in was easy, we were escorted to the front desk, and given our room, room 4425 in the main building 4 floor concierge. We were then escorted to the desk to your left as you come in the main building, showed our birth certificates and a drivers license and we were check into the ship. We were then taken to the concierge desk, (Royal Palm Club) where the cast member went over all our options and what they could do to help us have a great time. Our room was not ready, so we were escorted to the fourth floor where food is served for concierge guest. We ate a little and then headed to the Magic Kingdom. Catching the monorail at the hotel was great, no wait at all. We did what we wanted to do just walk around and enjoy the parks sites and sounds. Had lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern. After some more park enjoyment we decided to head to the Grand Floridian and check out our room. After about a ten-minute wait (still cleaning the room) we were escorted to our room. The room was great, had a view of Seven Sea Lagoon, and Wedding Pavilion. We rested and got ready for dinner at the Grand Floridian Café. Before we left for dinner, the head of concierge knocked at our door, (Mr. Boyd) and delivered to us a cake and balloons wishing us a happy anniversary, this was very special. After this special moment we headed to dinner. Stop by the garden view lounge for a cocktail, and then headed to Grand Floridian Café for dinner. We both had the ribs, they were great, if you ever eat their try them. After dinner we decided to head over to the Disney Boardwalk. After transferring to a couple of buses we made it. Not much was happening, we just strolled the boardwalk, and ended up in front of Jellyrolls. The music coming from inside sounded good so we headed inside. Cover charge was 3 dollars. We enjoyed this club very much. There were two pianos on stage, and they would play request from the audience, which were written on paper napkins. Ended up stayed their for 3 hours or so. Got back to our room at about 1 or 2 am. This was a great start of a great vacation.
Day 2 Walt Disney World
Day 2 started early. We got coffee and a little to eat from the food on the concierge level, which we took back to our room. I didnt mention this in pervious report, the bathrobes in the Grand Floridian are very nice, however at $145, I didnt want to keep it. Also the turn down of our bed with chocolates was a great touch. After breakfast we headed over to Epcot and stayed most of the day exploring everything. We went into Innovations, (we are computer geeks) to send our friends Internet post cards. This was fun, It takes your picture puts it on a background of your choice, and you can send it to anyone with a valid email. We had lunch at Pasta Piazza Ristorante food was pretty good. We then headed back to the Grand Floridian for a little Rest and Relaxation.
Our dinner plans for tonight was the Polynesian Luau. We had a 9:30 PM seating. A word of advice here, if you wish to see this show book well in advance. This paid off for us, we had table 25A, front row table and a great view of the show. We again went to the garden view lounge for a cocktail before the luau and then took the monorail over to the poly. This resort is nice, but after the Grand Floridian, I dont think we will ever stay here. We ordered a drink called a Sunburn which came with a complementary glass, this drink was very good We waited in a small area just beyond the entrance to the luau, where a very nice lady primed us for the show. She showed us what the grass skirts were made of and a little trivia about them. She then introduced us to a fellow who demonstrated face painting that is done on the islands. He will paint your face or arm for free. I had my arm done. We also had friendship bracelets made, one for each of us made from pia leaves. This was all done for free, so if you go to the dinner show check this out. We then were seated and had dinner. It consisted of fish, pork, beef and chicken, with rice and vegetables. Appetizers were also severed. Dessert was served and the show started.
At the beginning of the show the lady who hosted the show asked all newlyweds and couples having anniversaries to come up on stage. Once on stage we all introduced ourselves and told her whether we were newly married or how many years we were married. My wife and I were of course the couple married the longest and were ask to give advice to the newly married couples. At the end of this my wife was given a pink carnation lay and I was given a pia leave lay. The pink carnation lay was given to the woman married the longest, and my wife felt very special. The show then proceeded. We enjoyed it very much, especially the fire dance. During the show all the dancers went out into the audience to pick a dance mate, I was picked. I went on stage given white pompoms and told to do everything the dancer did. My wife died from laughter. I must admit this was a lot of fun even if I did get up in front of all those people and try hula dancing.
After the show we headed back to the Grand Floridian. We decided to walk. It was a very nice relaxing romantic walk back to our room. We got back to our room at about 12:00 AM. When we open our room door we were again surprised. On our bed was a 8 inch solid chocolate Mickey surround by 5 strawberries dressed in tuxedos, a bottle of champagne and two glasses. This was a very special, that the two of us enjoyed. We pop the cork and drank champagne on our balcony over looking the lagoon. The strawberries were great. Another great day with a lot of Disney magic.
Day 3 Walt Disney World
Day 3 started just like 2; we got coffee and a little to eat from the food on the concierge level. We headed for Downtown Disney to do a little shopping and to check it out. First stop was the Market Place. Window shopped all the stores and ended up in the Disney Store. The biggest Disney store I have ever seen. Hint: If you show any CM your American Express Card they will give you a 10% discount even if you dont use it.
After spending a little money we headed over to Pleasure Island. Not much happening, too early. We were getting hungry so we decided to eat at Fulton Crabs House, GREAT seafood. We also checked out LEGO land pretty cool. After lunch we walk down to Downtown Disney, and just browsed around. We then went back to the boardwalk and then back to the Grand Floridian to get ready for our dinner a Victoria and Alberts.
We enjoyed a cocktail and the music that is always playing in the evening in the GF lobby. Either the 5 piece band was playing or the grand piano. Victoria and Alberts was a great experience. We enjoyed the dinner very much and even though we thought it was a bit pricey, we thought it was worth it. They treat you very well here and go way out of their way to make you feel special. After a very nice evening we headed back to our room, and again had a surprise waiting for us. On our bed was a bottle of champagne, 2 glasses and a pink rose for my wife. Now mind you, all these surprises were unplanned, and made the stay very special. Well anyway needless to say, we again had champagne for 2 on our balcony, enjoying the atmosphere of Disney.
Day 4 Walt Disney World
This was our last day in Walt Disney World, and received our instruction on what to do to get ready for the next day, when we go to the ship. Bags had to be packed and ready to go by 8:00 am the following morning. Today we decided to go to 1900 Park Fare for breakfast. This was a lot of fun, a bit noisy, but the food was very good and we enjoyed the characters that came to visit our table. We decided to visit the Magic Kingdom again, do a little shopping.
We had lunch at the Columbia Harbour House, food was very good for counter service. After lunch headed back to GF for a little rest, got soaked from a passing rainstorm.
Dinner tonight was at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge, so we decided to visit Fort Wilderness. We have stayed in Fort Wilderness before, in their cabins and really enjoyed the stay. It was mostly to visit the shops and to walk around. Forts Wilderness is a great place, quiet relaxed and very laid back.
We headed to the Wilderness Lodge where we enjoyed the atmosphere of the resort. Stopped by the lounge that is prior to the entrance of Artist Point and had an appetizer and a few cocktails before dinner. Dinner at Artist Point was nice, however, I was not really impressed. The food was good, but I thought it was a little noisy. After dinner we headed back to the GF to pack and get ready for the second part of our vacation. By the way no surprises in our room today.
Day 5 Headed for the Ship
We were up early, bags were picked up at 8:00 AM sharp. Got a little to eat from the food on the concierge level. We lounged around the lobby for awhile, taking pictures. I will always remember this resort. It was a great experience. The atmosphere is VERY relaxing, the staff is great, has some of the best restaurants on the property. It will be hard to stay anywhere else. If anybody gets a chance stay there you will not be disappointed.
The bus was on time 11:00 AM. We boarded the bus and headed out to Port Canaveral. The ride was kinda long but they did play a video that was more of a promotional video than anything else, however it did make the ride go faster, I took a nap. When we popped the hill going into Port Canaveral, the ship is the only thing you see. It is absolutely beautiful.
We pulled up to the terminal and were escorted inside. There you can have your pictures taking with Captain Mickey, we did. You enter the ship through a portal that looks like a hidden Mickey. You present your Key to the World and it runs it through a machine and youre onboard. You also have to have your carry on bags X-rayed.
Upon entering we had a picture taken again at proceeded to our stateroom. Our stateroom was just below topsiders buffet on the portside, Stateroom 8102. When we first went into the room our jaws hit the floor. This room was beautiful. As you entered the stateroom you had a foyer with a closet on the right, and a bathroom on the left. The bathroom had a shower only, but was full size.
Once inside the room opens up to the main room. The woodwork was done in light brown, beautiful. At the far end of the room was a desk with fresh flowers and the door to the veranda. Next to that was the living room. Had a couch and two chairs. The couch folded out into a double bed.
Up against the wall was the entertainment area. A 32 inch TV, and a SONY entertainment system, which included HIFI VHS VCR, 5 disk CD Player, and Radio tuner in a wood cabinet that was beautiful. On the shelf on either side of the cabinetry were books, knickknacks, and games such as scrabble, dominos, toy blocks, and two sets of cards, one with Alice and the other with the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland on the back. We could also get CDs and Videos from the concierge staff at no extra charge. Next to the living room was the dining area, a nice table with 4 chairs. On the table was a fresh bowl of fruit, our personal navigators, a welcome letter from the concierge staff, at a note saying they would met us at 2:40 PM.
The bedroom was huge, a king size bed a walk in closet, and another bathroom with tub and separate shower stall. The tub was huge, bigger than the one in my house. The bathroom was sectioned into 2 rooms, the shower and toilet, and the sink and tub separated by a pocket door. The bedroom door was glass, trimmed in wood, and had a frosted design on it.
Just beyond the bed was another door to the veranda. The veranda was huge. We could get 50 people on it and still have room. My wife loved this veranda, and we spent a lot of time on it.
Well anyway, at 1:00 we went up stairs to Topsides for lunch. The stairways just to the right of the door leading outside from Topsiders to the tables outside lead down to our stateroom. This was nice because we were able to get food from the buffet and take it back to our room and sit at our own table, although we did not find this out until the next day at breakfast. The buffet food was great.
After that we went back to our room and waited for the concierge person, who was meeting us. She (Sarah) was right on time. She sat down with us and planned our whole weekend. She made our Palos reservations, planned our excursions to Nassau, and took care of our rentals on Castaway Cay. This was nice because all we had to do is enjoy the trip. The concierge staff also gave us complementary sodas and bottled water, which we immediately put in the refrigerator that was under the Wet Bar.
After our weekend was setup, we headed to the 4:15 ship disaster drill, followed by 5:00 bonvoyage party and then 6:00 for dinner a Lumiere's. This was a short period of time, and we felt very rushed to do all of this. Well, any way, dinner was great, Our Server was Tim, and Assistant server was Romeo. We met some very nice people, Jim and Kim from Tennessee, and Larry and Cindy from Colorado. We were all seated at table 70. After dinner we set out to explore the ship and ended up at the Rockin D Bar, had a few drinks before going to the show Ghost Ship. The show was at 10:30. It was ok. After the show we were very tired. Took a long walk back to our room, sat out on the veranda, and enjoyed the cruise, then went to bed.
Day 6 Nassau
Loud vibrations awakened us. I got up went outside, we were coming into Nassau. The vibrations were the thrusters located below the ship waterline, which were pushing the ship sideways toward the pier. We had decided not to take any excursions.
It looks like they are trying to fix up the place because of Disney. There were other cruise ships there, the Ecstasy, freshly back from being fixed from the fire, and a Premiere Cruise Line ship. Both ships looked very small next to the Magic. Nassau did not impress us at all.
We did go ashore, took some picture of the ship, and went into town to get T-shirts and a gift for my wifes mother. Too many people asking and sometimes demanding your money, for whatever they were selling.
After this we went straight back to the ship, and enjoyed the activities their. Saw Mulan in the Buena Vista Theater. The movie was very good. We spent the day mostly enjoying the ship.
Our dinner that night was at Animator's Pallet. This restaurant was a great experience, it delivers everything that Disney said it would a then some, a must see. Food was also great. The desert was very interesting. They bring you a chocolate Mickey Mouse on a plate shaped like an animators pallet, and a tray of colored syrups and stuff that were different colors. You had to finish the desert by coloring Mickey. Everybody at the table got into this and our creativity was very apparent.
After dinner we decided to club hope and ended up in the Comedy Club. Show was pretty good. We also stopped by Shutters to check on some picture the CMs took during the day. As you might expect, very crowded and sometimes overwhelming. This was not the ship's fault, everybody was just looking for their picture at the same time. The pictures are of good quality, but a little pricey. We also checked out the Promenade Lounge. If you like martinis, then you will like this place. Lots of different ways to have one. We went back to our room and spent sometime on our veranda, and headed for bed.
Day 7 - Castaway Cay
We awoke early to see the island as the ship came into Castaway Cay. The sunrise was beautiful and we were also were greeted with a rainbow.
The island is indeed what everybody said it was. We headed to Parrot Key for breakfast and then changed and headed to Serenity Bay, the adults only beach.
We disembarked the ship at about 8:45 am, so we could get a good spot on the beach. We decided to walk over to the family beach to pick up our snorkeling gear. I thought $54 dollars for 2 sets was a bit high but I had never been snorkeling before so I happily paid the price. We then caught the tram to Serenity Bay.
Once at Serenity Bay, we pick up a couple of floating lounges, which my wife used a lot. We were able to get a cabana, which was nice when the sun got extremely hot. The water was absolutely beautiful. It didnt matter if it was 2 feet deep or 7 feet deep, you could see the bottom. We went snorkeling right away. We had asked a CM about snorkeling in Serenity Bay, and he said even though they didnt want you to snorkel, that they would not stop us from doing so. He also said there was a shipwreck somewhere out there between the two orange buoys. We never found it, but we did see a lot of fish, and sea life. We really enjoyed this...took some pictures with a waterproof camera.
A little word about those of you who collect shells. DONT. You cannot take them off the island. It is against Bahamian law, and Disney policy. We had collected quite a few only to have to leave them behind.
We left the beach at about 1:00pm to get some lunch. This is, I think were they need more work. The food at the cook out has a lot to be desired. It was not very good. I think that if it wasnt so hot it might have been better.
After lunch we took our gear back and did a little shopping, and headed back to the ship to get ready for dinner, and to pack our bags for the trip home.
Dinner tonight is at Palos. Our reservation was at 8:00pm. We should have dressed up some more but decided not to because of all the packing that had to be done by 10:30pm. We were greeted at the door by the headwaiter, who showed us to our table. We started by ordering two balemie cocktails that were very good. The dinner started with bread, then pizza, then an appetizer, then the main dish, followed by dessert. We were surprised when the headwaiter brought a complementary bottle of champagne. This was a commemorative bottle, with the Disney Magic on the front, and acknowledged the inaugural voyage of 1998. It was a very good bottle of champagne.
We finished the evening on our veranda sipping champagne. Our bags were picked up at 10:30pm, and we turned in awhile after that.
Day 8 Homeward Bound
We were up early to enjoy the ship one last time. This was our first cruise, and enjoyed it very much. I watched as we pulled into Port Canaveral at about 5:30 am. We headed down to Parrots Cay at 7:00 sharp. We had a wonderful breakfast, said our good-byes to our servers, gathered up our baggage, and disembarked the ship.
I was very impressed with the process of disembarking. When we exited the ship and came down to an area marked with different color floors. Our luggage was in the green area. A CM was there to help us carry our bags. We then went though customs, which was a breeze. Exited the terminal were the busses where waiting for us. Since we flew with Delta they escorted us to the end where Delta checked in our bags loaded it onto a truck and got our tickets ready for the airport. I think the baggage part of this trip was the best of all. We never had to tote baggage around.
Our flight was at 2:30pm which left on time, and I was pulling up into my driveway at 9:00pm. Our children were waiting for us with open arms. This was the best time we had ever had a vowed to do it again with and without the kids. Our next trip will be in January 2001, Fort Widerness with the kids for 7-10 days. Ill start plans for that one in about 6 months. Ive learned that planning ahead can make a big difference. I am thinking of the GRAND PLAN.