Karen Staycoff -- October 2001 -- Walt Disney World (PORFQ, ASMuR) / Disney Cruise Trip
Introduction: Disney World October 24th - November 14th . This will be our Fourth trip to Disney. This report is staring 3 people :
This is the 4th pre-Trip report I have written for this one trip. Like I said I will not let a better deal pass us up. So after all the changes I have finally told myself that this is final, and I will send this to MousePlanet!!
Airfare: I finally booked airfare for $98 per person on United. Can you believe that? I was bouncing off the ceiling! Here I am at work, every day I log on my computer, run a report, while this runs, I check CNN.com, MousePlanet.com and then travelocity.com. It has been this way everyday since February. Then today (7/3) low and behold, no trip report on MousePlanet :( but airfare $98 round trip on united!!! Can we say BOOKED! We had to change our dates a little because the sale ended 3 days before we wanted to come back and since we really want to be there for 3 weeks we did it. I paid the extra $10 for paper tickets and overnight delivery!!!! I am so excited!!! We got the tickets and everything looks fine. We fly out a noon on Wednesday 10/24 and switch planes in Chicago getting us there by 6pm. We fly home at 6:40pm switch planes in Chicago and back to Minneapolis by 11:00pm
Car Rental: I had a reservation for a full size car for 3 weeks through Alamo for a total of $517.92 after taxes. But when we changed the dates the rate was gone, but as an annual passholder for Universal we got a total rate of $532.70, darn close. I will keep watching it to go down.
Accommodations: Now here is where it has changed a million times!!!! We have a week at our timeshare at Blue Tree ( we don’t really like this place, but we own it) They only have check in on Saturday or Sunday, since we already had the reservation for Saturday check in we decide to keep it. So we needed a place for the first 3 nights and then the last 11 nights. I spent a lot of time researching this. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Family Suites last year in a sweetheart suite, I love an in room Jacuzzi. So we thought about staying there again, but could not find a rate lower than $149. So I kept looking and the we decided on the Holiday Inn Nikki Bird. This place is fine, almost the same room as All Stars, except we know they have really good heated pools. I called the hotel directly and they quoted me a rate of $59 a night, I decided to reserve this at least for now. The woman taking my reservation was really nice and she said, hey since you are going to be here for 11 nights let me put you in our larger room, it has two double beds and a pull out couch. I did not even know they had these rooms. I am excited, it is going to be bigger than what we had hoped and we know the pool will be good. We were going to add the first 3 nights here also. But then… The Disney boards lit up with Annual pass discounts. We called and could get the All Star Music for $54.88 a night AFTER taxes, so I booked that. Then I found more discounts, and we could get a moderate for $98.79 a night AFTER taxes. Never having stayed at anything but the movies, I researched it and took the Port Orleans French Quarter for our first 3 nights. Then after talking with my friend, we could save $10 a night by staying on site at the All stars for our last 11 nights as opposed to Nikki Bird, although the room will be smaller, it won’t kill us. So I called and booked it! Then on Saturday I was on the boards and found that the Contemporary was $139 a night for the garden wing. So I thought about it some more. I have never stayed at a moderate let alone a deluxe with the monorail. I know that we will be in the back, I am OK with that and I booked the last 3 nights at the Contemporary. This trip we will be trying all 3 levels of hotel. So therefore, no more changes and deposits are sent in.
Tickets: We have our Annual pass from Disney last year (it expires 11/22/01), which we might want to upgrade to a premium for this trip for Disney Quest and the water Parks. We have our Seasonal pass for Universal and islands of Adventure. All that was left was Sea world, which was covered with our Discovery Cove tickets.
Priority Seating: We want to get reservations at Cinderella’s castle. We have 2 for the Grand Floridian for dinner (love the mashed potatoes and strawberry soup), We got reservations for the spa for Me and Sonya While Keyleigh has reservations for the Grand Adventures in Cooking on 11/6. We will do Chef Mickey’s while we stay at the Contemporary. We have reservations for Donald’s Breakfastosaurus at Animal Kingdom. PS for Super Soap Weekend at the Primetime café at MGM. We also have the Garden Grill at Epcot.
Pin Trading: Key started this last year and she loved it more than Characters, and it also made her want to go into stores. Oh OK if I must, giggle giggle. So whenever we knew anyone that was going down there, we gave them some money to bring back pins, it did not matter what they brought back because she will trade them any way. She has well over 30 pins, which is way more than enough.
Plan: (we don’t plan to stick to much except PS)
On a personal note, when the tragic events happened on 9/11/01, a month before our trip, we like everyone else questioned taking an airplane let alone a vacation. After a week, we decided to go a head with it since the cruise was non-refundable (the airfare was only $300, which we would have taken at loss, but not the $1400 for the cruise). I must say though the month before the trip was hard. Wondering if we were going to go to war, what that meant, what would happen next and how could I think about having fun when there were so many missing and dead. Through this whole time, our thoughts were never far from what happened. So we want to have fun even though our hearts are broken.
Airfare: $98 per person round trip from Minneapolis (see pre trip report for details)
Car Rental: $507 after taxes for a full size. I got a deal through my credit card.
Accommodations: This has changed a million times. Onsite verse offsite went on for a long time. We have a time share (which we hate, any buyers??) about 3 months before our trip they came out with great passholder rates. Not one to pass up a good deal we decide that we would check into the all Stars Music a day early to avoid the check out check in shuffle of being out by 11 and not in until 4pm. Then well maybe two nights until we decided we will just stay at the All Stars the whole time. We were talking about this at work and a co-worker said she would rent our week. Perfect. We called and could get the All Star Music for $54.88 a night AFTER taxes, so I booked that. Then I found more discounts, and we could get a moderate for $98.79 a night AFTER taxes. Never having stayed at anything but the movies, I researched it and took the Port Orleans French Quarter for our first 3 nights. Then on Saturday I was on the boards and found that the Contemporary was $139 a night for the garden wing. So I thought about it some more. I have never stayed at a moderate let alone a deluxe with the monorail. I know that we will be in the back, I am OK with that and I booked the last 3 nights at the Contemporary. This trip we will be trying all 3 levels of hotel. Never one to let well enough alone, we change the Contemporary to the last 4 nights, hoping we might be upgraded to the tower. Then I said What if we don't get upgraded, so I called and changed our reservations to 4 nights in the tower with the highest floor facing magic kingdom, keeping my fingers crossed. Never one to let things stay as they are, I started to get really nervous about all the shark attacks lately, it seems as if I was hearing story after story, so I looked into options for our beach days. I found that they have day trips to the Bahamas (yes I know, 2 shark attacks there also). Then the day trip turned into an overnight trip, then a 2 night over night trip to "hey why not do a cruise, a Disney Cruise". And then the 3 night cruise turned into a four night cruise. We got a great deal through Dreams unlimited and we are all set. So here is the accommodations breakdown:
Tickets: We have our Annual pass from Disney last year (it expires 11/22/01), which we might want to upgrade to a premium for this trip for Disney Quest and the water Parks. We have our Seasonal pass for Universal and islands of Adventure.
Priority Seating: We Have 4 at Cinderella's castle. We have 2 for the Grand Floridian for dinner (love the mashed potatoes and strawberry soup), We got reservations for the spa for Me and Sonya While Keyleigh has reservations for the Grand Adventures in Cooking on 10/30. We will do Chef Mickey's while we stay at the Contemporary. We have reservations for Donald's Breakfastosaurus at Animal Kingdom. PS for Super Soap Weekend at the Primetime café at MGM. We also have the Garden Grill at Epcot.
Pin Trading: Key started this last year and she loved it more than Characters, and it also made her want to go into stores. Oh OK if I must, giggle giggle. So whenever we knew anyone that was going down there, we gave them some money to bring back pins, it did not matter what they brought back because she will trade them any way. She has well over 30 pins, which is way more than enough.
Plan: (we don't plan to stick to much except PS)
Two days prior: Things have changed a lot. They have canceled all e-nights and early entry's. We choose to stay on site the whole time for those reasons. It is too late to try and get our money back and re-book else where. The other thing that makes me angry is they have cut the hours a lot also. I am just trying to "go with the flow" but it is hard. Last week I called and found out that our flight home at 6:30 was canceled. They put us on a 4pm flight with a 3 hour layover in Chicago, even though there was an earlier flight from Chicago to Minneapolis, they choose to have us have a huge layover. After about 20 minutes we got changed to that. Then we find out that our flight out is now over booked because they canceled the 2 flights out after us. I am trying to "go with the flow" but I am stressing out. We will see how this will go!!
Wednesday 10/24/01 (travel day)
Hectic is all I can say about today. I thought it would be neat having a noon flight, plenty of time for last minute things. We were up and ready to leave the house by 8am. As we were about to leave, I could not find the baggie that had all of our suitcase keys in them. We searched for 20 minutes when I found that when I put them in my carry on, they fell in the pocket of my purse. So off we went. We were about 5 blocks from home when I realized I forgot my checkbook, so back for that. On our way once again, we had one more stop, I had to get a shot before we left. We finally got to the airport around 9:30am.. We go to the United Counter and they have this HUGE x-ray machine to x-ray your checked luggage. We put our stuff through and then we had about a 45 minute wait in line. When we get up there we find that the only 3 seats together are in an exit row, and we can't do that because Key is only 8. So they have all 3 of us scattered around the plane. We just take it because we are sure that once we are on the plane people would move around. So then on to the next security point. Sonya beeps so they search her and find her sewing scissors but the say they are OK so she passes through. Off for some food, we eat lunch at Burger King. At 11:30 we head to our gate (our flight is at noon). We get there and sit down and I look up and see that our flight is delayed until 1pm. OH NO that gets us into Chicago 10 minutes AFTER the LAST flight to Orlando. Small panic attack. We go up to the check in counter and she confirms that we won't make the Orlando flight. She gets on the phone and calls Northwest and gets us the last 3 seats on a direct flight at 1:30. She calls and gets our luggage sent to baggage claim where we tread down to get it and then have to go back and check in at the Northwest counter with our luggage. It was now 1pm. We head to the gate and while waiting Key starts her homework. 5 minutes before boarding they call names and ask that they please check in at the counter. I panic because all 3 of our names are called. I am thinking that we are going to be bumped. It turns out that since we were last minute adds to the flight we needed to be searched and scanned again. No problem here. Then we board. There is a really nice group behind us. As we are waiting we are watching our luggage being loaded onto the plane. The people behind us go "Oh look someone has put hot pink duct tape in a big X on their suitcase." I raise my hand and say that's mine! We talk about how easy it is to find our luggage with that because they're just plain black. The flight takes off and the flight is very bumpy. The pilot says we hit the end of a cold front. We land and ride the monorail to baggage claim, get our luggage and head to the Alamo bus. With just us 3 on board we take off. I go to quick silver and pick up or $399 after taxes full size red 4 door 2001 Grand Prix. We have never had a red car before. It took all of maybe 2 minutes and no line. Two toll booths later we exit off on International Drive because we decided to hit the outlets. We got some great deals at the Disney outlets. All 3 of us got Snow White sunglasses for $1.99. Picked up some picture frames and clearance pins for Key to pin trade with. Then we headed to PO French Quarter. We walk into the lobby and our first impression was yuck! There was a "rock" band playing in the lobby really loud. Check went fast but they gave us no information on any of the parks or anything that was going on in the hotel. They could not find our cruise documents that were supposed have been waiting for us and tell us to check with the cruise desk in the morning. We stop in the food court ( we were not impressed with this either, the all stars have more choices than this place.) and head to our room. The room was nice. It had two full size beds and double sinks outside of the bathroom. There were two very creepy pictures on the wall of old people. Not sure what they had to do with the theme. The beds are a touch high off the ground but comfy. We call and get extra pillows and towels which were brought 1/2 hour later. We turn on the news and the headline says Port Orleans French Quarter closed today indefinitely. We call the front desk to find out about this and she says that this starts 11/3. Off to sleep we go.
We both woke up around 7 but tried to sleep in. Around 8:30 we get up. Sonya and Key head off to get breakfast. I called the front desk to find out about the new Character Caravan and when it will stop here, she said it doesn't stop here only at riverside. URG! I had to call work because I totally forgot to print out our Priority seatings. I had nothing with me, duh! I call the Cruise desk and he can't find our Doc's, calls the Cruise Line and then us back and tells us they will be delivered on Monday. I am little frustrated because we check out on Saturday. Oh well there is no control here so I move on. We head to the pool. The pool here is huge and has a great theme. They have a water slide. We played for about a 1 1/2 and then it started to rain, we get out head back to the room to shower and get ready for the parks tonight. Sonya and Key went to Epcot because they had reservations at Teppanyaki in Japan ( I hate Japanese food) and I head off to MGM to try Millionaire. I got to my first show around 2, while waiting in line it started to pour. We were let in. At first I thought the show was a little cheesy as were the hosts, but it was a lot of fun. They have about 2 contestants a show. After I got right back in line. This time for the fastest finger I was #6. At the 1000 point question I was #1 but I blew it on the next question. I did the show one more time. This time in while in line I hear people behind me saying yes that is her, ask. I turn around and it is the people from the airplane that sat behind us. We talked a while and then we were let in for the next show. After the 3rd show I headed out. I stopped in the villains store and bought the Evil Queen from Snow White Barbie. She was only $25. I then drove to the All Stars to get dinner from their food court. The guard at the gate made me show ID before I could go. Not really sure why, but just because I have a picture ID I can go through, it's not like he wrote the name down or anything. I grabbed some sandwiches and Mickey shaped Rice Krispie bars and then headed to the 7-11 outside of the world and grabbed a 12 pack of pop for $3.69 ( a 20 oz was $2.50 at the hotel). Back to the room watched TV and waited for Sonya and Key. We could hear and see some of the fireworks from Epcot from our room. We were in bed around 11pm with the lights out. About a 1 1/2 later there is knocking at our door. I am just barley a wake. I turn on the lights and ask who it is. I couldn't here them and asked again, still not hearing them. I look through the peep hole and see it is a woman from the front desk. Keeping the chain on the door I opened it and she said I am here to ask you to please keep it down. Being half awake I said what? She said they had a noise complaint about us and we need to keep it down. Confused by this I said but ma'am we were sleeping. She says well you need to keep it down. Angry by this I repeated there is no noise we are sleeping, we do not even have the radio on. She says well still keep it down. I was very frustrated by this and angry. I head back to bed.
We were up and out the door and at Magic Kingdom by 8:45. We walked up Main Street to Cinderella's Castle for our PS. The castle is PACKED with people waiting for Fantasyland to open, we push our way over to the restaurant and give my name. She says I don't have any thing for you today, and my heart beats faster and I said I know you do, I confirmed them the other day, but of course I forgot our # in the room. She says don't worry we can squeeze you in. We go wait in the room with the fairy godmother, and it dawns on me that I put the reservations in Sonya's name. I go back to the desk and sure enough there they are. Our names are called and we head upstairs. The characters today are Belle, Alice, Cinderella and Prince Charming. We were seated and about 10 minutes later the food came. Oh the eggs here are so gross, they are the fake eggs. I just ate a bunch and I do mean a bunch of croissants and drank about 10 glasses of that yummy OJ. Prince Charming and Alice came during our meal, but we kept getting frustrated with Cinderella, She was down in the middle section for over an hour. Each time a new table was seated she visited them. It was almost 1 1/2 hours after we were seated before she came to our table. We were done with breakfast for almost 45 minutes, but we kept eating because we were waiting (big mistake on our part). This is where we came up with our motto poke it in until it is poking out. Meaning we just kept eating. As we were leaving we were groaning because we ate more than was humanly possible. We headed into fantasy land and did Snow white as it was a walk on. I realized here that I was getting a little sick. Sonya took Key on the Tea cups (another mistake) We decide to head back to the hotel because we were all very uncomfortable due to eating way too much. We caught the horse cart back to the front and headed into the Expo hall and saw Donald duck. We got back to the hotel around 2 and we all fell asleep until around 5pm. We went swimming in a very cold pool for about 45 minutes. Went back and got ready for the Halloween party. Sonya and I were both the Evil Queen from Snow White and Keyleigh was Snow White. After going through Security and getting our trick or treat bags we caught part of Cinderella's Surprise Celebration (this is a regular show shown in the daytime, too) This is a great show. They are celebrating and the Evil Queen from Snow White tries to take the castle and there are a lot of villains and good guys that fight it out for a happy ending. You must see this. After we grabbed curb seats for the parade and Sonya and Key went to meet the characters after the show. She saw the Snow Witch and the Evil Queen, Jafar and a few more. Soon the streets were cleared and the headless horseman came trotting down the road carrying a pumpkin. That was really cool. Then the parade started, all the characters were dressed up in costumes and the villains were great. The songs that were playing were cool, I wish we could buy those. This is one of the best parades I have seen. After we headed into Tomorrowland and got our free picture taken and did some trick or treating. We grabbed some Fastpasses for buzz, using our Halloween tickets, and then we cheated and used our annual passes for fast passes to Space Mountain. I know we are very bad. We then head to Starlight Café for the yummiest (and turns out to be my favorite meal the whole trip as we go back several times) hot dog and fries with melted cheese. We did Buzz, and since I don't like to spin I went in front and took some cute pictures of Sonya and Key playing. Then Sonya and Key did Buzz again and then they did Space MT. We trick or treated our way across the rest of the park. We ran into Pooh (he was a honey pot) Piglet ( he was a flower) Tigger (he was a skeleton) and Eeyore (he was a mummy). We rode Snow white with no line, Key Pin traded and they rode the carpets of Aladdin. On the way out I bought Key a Magic Kingdom Magic Moments pin. Back to the room around midnight.
Today we check into the All star Sports. Check went smooth and our room was ready. We got a corner room in Calypso on the second floor. It was a great room but it turns out that it was smoking which really made me mad because the ONLY request I made in any reservation was non-smoking. There was a maid outside at the room next door and she came and sprayed the carpets and we kept the door open as we unpacked. The smell was not going away so I called the front desk (which is one operator for all 3 resorts) and she told us that there were no other rooms in non smoking open. She said that they have a machine that they can do that sucks the smoke smell out of the room. They brought that and told us we needed to be out of the room for at least 2 hours. So we headed to MGM around 2. We went right to Who wants to be a millionaire and got right in. There was no fastest finger question because there was someone from the last show. 2 questions later they lost. They pulled the next person up. Then the next time they showed the scores, I was #1, but then I blew it on another sports question. We did this show 2 more times and then headed to Rockin roller coaster. On our way we ran into a guy making balloon things. He made a Donald Duck and a Mickey Mouse. After Rockin Roller Coaster we headed out. We went shopping at the Outlets, I lost my $1.99 snow white sunglasses. We stopped at 7-11 to pick up some more pop. When we got back to the room, the machine did not work. I think it smelled worse. We left the door open for a while. The beds and sheets and pillows all smelled. I fell asleep for a little while but I could not take it anymore, I went down to the front desk around 12:30 and asked to be switched to a non smoking room. She told me that we couldn't until tomorrow because the were 100% full. She said that it was a 1st in a long time. I asked her why they put us in a smoking room, I told her the only request was a non smoking room I did not care what building or anything else. She looked at reservation and said when she pulls it up she can clearly see this. She told me there would be a voice mail for us in the morning telling us what we needed to do. I went back to the room and tried to air it out a little more. The smell was making me sick.
I had the worst dream, I dreamt that we were in Magic Kingdom and a crop duster was spraying us. I jumped awake and saw our message light on. It said if we still wanted to change rooms to call the front desk by 10. I called and they said someone would come and get our luggage and our new room should be ready by 2. We went swimming. Our room was ready by 1. We had a 1st floor Calypso facing the pool about 5 doors down from the food court. What a great location. We walked in and our luggage was already there and the room smelled so fresh!!! We unpacked and boy did our stuff smell, I am glad we did not let it get a weeks worth of smell. We played in the arcade awhile and then Went shopping at Downtown Disney. We decide to try taking the bus to MK, so we drove back to the resort and took the bus. It took about 10 minutes to get through security. We went to the front of the castle and caught part of Cinderella's Surprise Celebration ( we have yet to see the whole thing) Got our picture take with the Queen of hearts. We then headed to Starlight Café for some yummy Hot Dogs and melted cheese. Sonya and Key did Space Mt and we then did Pooh. As we were exiting, a CM in the store told us that the dwarfs were right around the corner. We ran over there and there were all 7 together. Key was in her Snow White outfit and just as she was about to go up there, Snow White comes out and all of them got together for a picture. Then as we are walking away the fireworks go off. This is a great place to watch them since they launch them back behind Toon town. As they were finishing, a fireworks shell about 16 inches long dropped between me and the woman standing next to us, we were both shocked! We saw Esmerelda and Cruella. We did the haunted mansion and watched the headless horseman go by again. Then we went to Big Thunder MT. I love this ride at night. They had some really neat touches for Halloween on this ride. I am discovering on this trip that I get motion sick on a lot of rides now. When we got off, I asked Sonya if they closed the ride because there was no one waiting to get in the cars. She asked and they said they were open. So Sonya and Key did this 3 more times. Sonya and Key did Aladdin on the way out. The sidewalks are so cool, They have jewels embedded in them and the sparkle. Stopped and picked up some snacks in the candy shop and caught the bus back to the hotel. I really like the bus system.
We slept in until 9:30 grabbed some breakfast at the food court and went swimming for a while. We Then showered and headed back to PORFQ for our Cruise Docs. We get there and the desk is closed until Wednesday. I am very angry. We head to the Animal Kingdom. We stopped in the Rainforest Café and split a BBQ Chicken Pizza and a chocolate volcano. With full bellies we head in to see it is tough to be a bug. Then we head to Dinosaur which is a walk on. Sonya and Key did it again. Then we head back and do the Safari as Key pin trades along the way. We stop to watch Mickey's Jamming Jungle Parade, save your time, this was pretty lame! We get to the Safari and we get on the last jeep out. We saw hippos, cheetahs and both the male and female lion. We head out because it is now 5:30. We head to Wal-Mart for some basic stuff and pop. We stopped at Krispie Kreams for some doughnuts for our healthy dinner. Played in the arcade and picked up some postcards in the shop and in bed around midnight.
We had a wake up call today because we had to be at the Grand Floridian by 9:45 for Key's Grand Adventures in Cooking class. We pull up to the gate and show ID, they say nothing about a 3 hour limit. We valet and head to the Mouseketeer club. They stress in the reservation that you must be there by 9:45. They did not unlock the door until 10:05. We go up to pay and they tell us they charged the credit card that we used when we made the reservations on. I was so mad because that was the same one I put the car on and this pushed me over my limit and I got charged a $30 fee. I was so mad because when I made the reservation they told us that it was just to hold it. URG. So we leave Key there and hop the monorail over to the Contemporary. We shop here a bit but it was kind of crowed. We saw the long walk from the rooms to the pool and we decided that we were not overly impressed with this place. We decided to see if we can stay at the all stars music for the rest of the time (after our Cruise). They gave it to us at the same $49 rate, so they moved our $$ to the new reservations and we had a $881 credit on our room (because we prepaid). We rode the monorail back to get Key. They made dirt and worms. They made these cute aprons and chef's hats. The one thing that made me a little more upset was they were supposed to read a story and what ever story was read they made a food that went with that story. Key said they made their hats and aprons and then they were to sit down and watch a movie (Cinderella). Then they got up and put a scoop of pudding in with a scoop of crushed cookies and added a worm. Everything was pre-measured and ready to go, the kids just did a scoop. That was not what they really advertised, I don't think we will be back for that. We decided to hop the monorail over to Epcot. Once inside we did spaceship earth and played in innovations for a while. We went to do Ellen's Energy but it was closed for about an hour. We headed to get fast passes for test track but they were re-doing the fast pass line so that wasn't available. The wait time was posted 15 minutes so we headed in stand-by. I timed the wait and it was only 8 minutes. I really did not like this ride too much. There were way too many changes in motion and jerks. I felt really yucky after this, so we sat on a bench outside of Ellen for about 1/2 hour and Key had ice cream. We then went into Ellen and the ride wasn't as fun as I remember. I like the part where you go through time with Ellen, but the part where you just sit there and listen to a radio broadcast, well I started to doze a little there. We stopped for a hot dog and headed over to the Journey into your Imagination store for some Christmas presents for Sonya. Figment is her favorite. We headed over to Honey I shrunk the audience, but we just missed it and did not feel like waiting the 7 minutes ( how lazy are we). We then went to the living seas. I have never been here before so I did not know what to expect. It was extremely lame. This was very boring and a big waste of time. We went to innovations next and played some video games. Key pin traded. We sent e-mail postcards to our bosses and then went on Space ship earth. I just love this ride. We hopped the monorails back to the Grand Floridian to get the car. Back at the All Stars, we played in the arcade and went swimming and grabbed some dinner at the food court. Off to dream land around 11pm,
Wednesday 10/31/0 (Halloween)
Slept in until 10:30. Called to track down our cruise doc's. The French Quarter said they were never delivered. I called the cruise line and the said they were delivered on Monday. They put me on hold while they tracked down where they were. About 15 minutes later, they came back to me and told me they were at the French quarter. She told me someone would deliver them to our hotel in a few hours. About an hour later the lady from the French Quarter called and told me she had found them and that she would go out of her way and have someone bring them to our hotel. I said to her, well the cruise line told me an hour ago that they were found and they'd deliver them. We headed to MGM. Key wanted to wear her costume, since it was Halloween. I was so surprised when we got in the park and there were almost no kids in costumes. We got there just in time for the parade. As Cruella was passing us, she saw Key in her evil queen costume and went and got the evil queen to show her. The evil queen made Key bow to her, it was so cute. We headed to Who wants to be a millionaire, We played a few times, the last time when they called someone in the hot seat, Sonya was #2. The last show the theater was less than half full. On our way out we did the great movie ride. This is a very nice peaceful ride. This is the first time we ever had the gangster. We drove back to the hotel to drop off the car, and took the bus over to Magic Kingdom for, Mickey's not so scary Halloween party. We got there around 7:30 Belle and Beast were together for pictures so we got a few with them, then with Donald and Goofy. We took a spot in the front circle of main street for the parade. The headless horseman kicked it off. I love the song that is the main song of this parade. We followed the end of the parade and hung a right into Tomorrowland. We got our picture taken and then Fastpasses for Space Mt and Buzz. After Space Mt we did it again since it was a walk on. We trick or treated and then headed to Starlight's for our Hot dog dinner (yum yum yum). We trick or treated our way to fantasyland. Key and Sonya got in line for Winnie the Pooh, when I saw Snow White and Dopey. I grabbed them and we all got our picture taken with them in our evil queen outfits. Sonya and Key did Dumbo. Then we did Snow White (no line at all) and then Peter Pan (about a 3 minute wait). Then I sat on a rocking chair while Sonya and key ran and did Big Thunder Mt a few times. Head out and back home around 1:30 am.
Thursday November 1st
We all slept in until 11 am. We ate lunch and headed back to MGM. Sonya and Key did Rockin Roller coaster with about an 8 minute wait. We did millionaire twice. I made it in the top 10 a few times. This is a really fun attraction. We stopped for pop and ice cream and then did the back lot tour. A lot of the Christmas lights were up and you could see them putting others up. Sonya and Key did Rockin roller coaster and tower of terror. We went to Super Wal-Mart and a few gift shops. Back to the hotel in time to catch ER and update our notes.
Friday November 2nd
We woke up and went swimming. While at the pool it started to rain, then it poured. We got out and by the time we got to our room it had passed. We showered and headed to the Disney outlet. Then we headed to Islands of Adventure. We valet parked and walked the 100 miles to the entrance. Sonya and Key did Hulk with about a 5 minute wait. They loved it. Then they did storm warning with a walk on. Next all 3 of us did Spiderman. As we were walking through the cue, he was there on one of the desk's. We asked Key if she wanted her picture taken with him. He put his hand on her shoulder and she jumped sky high, she didn't think he was real. We were laughing so hard. Add this ride to another I can't do. I got nauseous on this. Then we walked through Toon lagoon and got some dippin' dots. Key played in the various water areas getting totally wet. We headed to Fire and Ice and they did both with a walk on. While they were on it, it started to rain pretty hard. We stopped at Cat in the hat for a quick ride. We went the hard Rock for dinner. For all 3 of us it came to $23. We left and it was still raining. We headed to universal for the Halloween horror nights. We bought some rain ponchos. Just as all 3 of us had them on, it stopped raining. For the rest of the night. Why does that happen? Key and Sonya did the Hanna Barbara ride. Then we all went and did the Twister. This is so cool. We walked through a haunted area that was all foggy and people were jumping out at you, it was fun. Then we did JAWS, which is really cool at night (here is where we used the ponchos). Sonya and Key did Men in Black and then Back to the Future. And decided to head out at 10pm because we have to get up early tomorrow. We did not think about that when we picked this night for the Halloween party. We stopped for gas and then headed back to the hotel.
Saturday November 3rd
We got up at 8 am to catch the crowded bus to MGM. Today was the first day of Super Soap Weekend. I love the soaps but I have to say that some of these people were Extremely obsessed. NOW HERE IS A REALLY BAD PART PEOPLE MIGHT HATE ME FOR. When we got there, we got off the buss and followed the flow to the gates. The flow came in from the side, we were very close to front and started to blend into the crowd, now actual lines just mass people when I looked back and saw that the end was really way back there (about a 45 minute wait). As we realized we were budding major big time, we turned to head back when they opened a turnstile we were passing, and we turned and went through. I did feel a little guilt, but since we were not planning to stand in anyone's line for an autograph, I don't think I took anything away except the long wait. As you walk in they give you a copy of a special edition of the ABC soap magazine that has a map with everyone's booth location and time. We decided to attend 2 special Who wants to be a millionaire shows. This is where they pick someone out of the audience and they play along with a soap star. You have to get special fast passes for these so we headed over to get those. We then walked around to see the soap stars at their booths. The had spots in front where you could take a picture of the star with out having to wait in line. This was nice, but there were people there who were saying, can you just come over here and take a picture with me. Duh, that is what the line is for. This was just for pictures of them with out you. They also handed out pre autographed pictures of the stars in case you did not want to wait in line. We saw about 30 soap stars. We head over to the millionaire show. Here is how it worked with the soap stars. They get the winner from the audience like normal, then that person comes up to the hot seat and they draw a soap stars name and they play along together. The part that I hated was they cheated like they do on celebrity millionaire, which is OK because that is fore charity. But here that just kept someone in the hot seat longer and then that means less people get in to the hot seat because the show is only 1/2 hour. So someone who would normally lose in 3-4 questions made it way past the 32,000 point mark. Oh well. It was very funny to watch. After we wandered around for awhile when we saw Carly ( her real name is Tamara Braun) from General Hospital. Key just loves her and really wants to wait and get her picture taken with her. We explained to her that we would probably have to wait for an hour, that we could be going on rides instead, but she said she would want to wait, so we did. About 50 minutes later we were really close to the front but they were trying to pull her away. She had about 25 people left in her line (they closed it a while ago.) She said she would stay until everyone got up there. They tried to take her twice but she was so sweet. Key finally got up there and they were talking, and Key told her that Carly should not lie that it is very bad. They talked a few minutes, got their picture taken and then they hugged, it was very cute!! Then we head to the front, seeing the stars as we go along. Boy you really have to plan your day good if you try and wit in these lines, each one is about an hour long. We stopped in the Special soap store on the way out. They had soap stuff you could buy, including outfits that they have worn. It was funny because sometimes you would see an outfit and remember when they wore them. The prices were really reasonable for the clothes. A lot were less than $100. But of course you have to be skinnier than a stick. We held some up to Key, who is 8 years old, and they would barley fit her. I bought Kassie Depavia's CD (Blair from One Life to Live) and we head out. It was around 5pm. We stopped at the stores on the way out. It would be neat to do the whole weekend, see the concerts and special talk shows, but alas, tomorrow we cruise. We head back to the hotel for dinner from the yummy food court! I called the cruise line because the news is saying that Hurricane Michelle is heading for the Bahamas. They said every thing is still the same, they are still heading there, there has been no change in course. (which I find out that is what they always say because they never tell them when there is a change until you are on the boat to set sail). So we pack up and head to bed!
Sunday November 4th CRUISE DAY
We are all very excited because today is our cruise day!!!!! We call Bell Services because we are storing some of our bags here for when we return from the cruise. They come and get the bags and we head off to the port. We are almost to the port when the Low Coolant light comes on. We figured we would check it before we leave port on Thursday since we can't check it when it is hot anyway. Sonya drops me, key and our luggage off at the terminal and she goes and parks the car. I think it was $27 for 4 nights. We tip our porter and head into the building. On the first floor there is a desk that helps you make sure you have all the paperwork filled out. You then head up the escalator to this beautiful check in area. You get your room key/charge card and then you head off to pass through security. You pass this large scale model of the ship. You are just getting more and more excited. We finally come aboard and the welcome the Fehn/Staycoff party, Mickey is waving to us. We are just overcome with how beautiful this lobby is, and large! We head off to find our stateroom 6515. We get there and drop off our carry-ons. I can not get over how large the room is. We got a category 11 room. It is one of the rooms that are sideways and it is very roomy and open. While there our room attendant introduced himself to us, asked if there were any other things we need, just a few more towels and extra pillows. We walk around and explore the ship a little. We stop to purchase 3 refillable mugs, I think they were $20 each. We go to deck 9 and go through the buffet and you would think we have never eaten for free before. We are taking a little of everything and giggling. We go for a walk after and end up in the spa at the beginning of the tour so we take that. The rainforest room rocks. It is so cool. We decide we want hair appointments and book a consultation for 5:15 tonight. We head back to our rooms and our luggage has already been delivered. We unpack a little and then we go to the lifeboat drill. While we are at the drill, the captain comes on and says "due to Hurricane Michelle we will not be able to head south at all. We have changed course to Charleston South Carolina, and then after that if the hurricane passes, we might be able to make it to Castaway Cay. I am so angry at this point, not really at anyone specific, but I am mad that I paid $800 to travel to somewhere I could drive. I mean I realized that they are doing it for our safety, but I am really bummed because I have never been to the Bahamas before and I was really looking forward to our excursions we have planned. So we head back to our room and drop off our life vests. I decide not to let this bother me. We head up to deck 9 for the sail away party. We all get a free drink, I think it was a Bahama Mama. We cast off, complete with the horn blowing "when you wish upon a star". We head over and talk to a spa worker about our hair, we decide to get a cut, color and highlights. I scheduled mine for tomorrow at 5. Sonya did hers for 6. (she later gets a call, and they reschedule her for Tuesday). We head off to the pool for a while. Key and I are in the Mickey pool and Sonya is sitting there reading a book. After about an hour in the pool, I realize how bad the ship is rocking. We get out of the pool and go and get ready for dinner. I am really getting nauseous. I decide there is no way I can eat anything, so I lie down for a while. Sonya and Key head off to dinner at Parrot Cay. I pop some Dramamine and doze off. They come back and Sonya had stopped in the store and asked the woman what I could do and she told her to have me eat pretzels and avoid drinking a lot of fluids because they would swoosh around in my stomach. Sonya and Key headed to a movie, and I was eating some pretzels and I then drifted back to sleep, sometime later our Room Attendant popped in to turn down our bed and turn our couch into a bed. He asked if he could do anything for me. I asked where the ice machine was, and he said he already filled our ice bucket up. He made me a little ice pack, and I fell back to sleep. That night I was rocking all night in my sleep. They said the seas were 15 to 20 feet. YUCK!
Monday November 5th.
I woke up feeling a little better (might have something to do with being docked). We went to a fabulous breakfast at Parrot Cay. The food was great!! I do have to say it is very weird eating and not paying a bill. We then headed of the boat to explore Charleston. Because this was so last minute they did not have any interesting excursions set up. I also wished I could have researched it ahead of time because we missed a lot of neat stuff. We walked a few blocks and they had this flea type market there. I got a lot of cute souvenirs at a good price. We were there for a few hours, I was still feeling a little drowsy and I head back to the ship and Sonya and Key shopped on. I shopped my way back to the ship. When I got to the port, I stopped to buy a bottle of water and Sonya and Key had caught up to me. We head to Pluto's dog house for some hot dogs for lunch. We then take some chairs by the pool and take a nap. I then head off to my hair appointment, meeting up with Sonya and Key for our 8:00 dinner (they were going to go to the 6 p.m. premiere of Monsters Inc.) After a $20 tip, I paid $150 for my hair color and highlight and trim. This is more than I have ever paid before, and although it looks really good, I don't think I will ever do that again, I should have just gone for a massage. I headed to the premiere of Monsters Inc. Sonya and Key saved a seat just in case I came. This was so cool. The theater is so comfortable. After we headed back and changed for dinner at Tritons. While waiting we met Mickey and Minnie all dressed up. And Pluto and Goofy in their sailor outfits. We go into dinner. Our waiter comes over and asks how I am feeling. He told me that quite a few of the crew has been really sick too. They said the waves are worse than normal. Our servers were Marjan and Igor. They are very nice and really great with Key the whole trip. I skipped an appetizer, but Sonya and Key both ordered the Escargot. Surprisingly Key loved it. For dinner I ordered Grilled Chicken and mashed potatoes. Sonya was trying to decide between the Sea bass and the Beef Tenderloin and she decided to just get both. Key had shrimp and roasted duck in an orange sauce. She ordered Escargot for dessert. That was a 9 year olds request for dessert. Back to the room where we updated our reports. Our room attendant had made a monkey out of towels and hung him from a hanger and then hung that from the ceiling, where he said all the rest of the cruise. We then headed up at 11 PM for the Dessert buffet. (yummy). We then head off to bed. Today was not bad as far as the sea sickness went.
Tuesday November 6th. Day at Sea.
Our newsletter said that we were heading for Castaway Cay but they were not sure if we could dock there yet. We woke around 10am, ( with no window in the room it was dark). We headed up to deck 9 around 11am. But because the seas were so rough the pools were closed. You should have seen how high the pool water was going up on the sides. The hot tubs were open so Key went to play in there and we grabbed some lounge chairs. We had a lunch of hot dogs and pizza. I fell asleep and woke up with a little burn. The seas were still a little rough, so I head back to the room to watch soaps and take a little nap. I woke up feeling a little nauseous again. We headed up to scoops for some ice cream. The captain came on and said the hurricane has passed the Bahamas and we can go to castaway Cay. He also said the we should be past the rough seas by 7 p.m. At 7 p.m. we went to the pin trading in the main lobby. Key just had a blast. The crew came out with pins to trade. Minnie, Snow White and Dopey came out for pictures. By now you could not feel the boat moving. We did a little shopping and walked a long the deck. It was so nice out and it was so pitch dark it was spooky. We went to dinner at Animators Palate. This restaurant was really cool. All the pictures on the wall are in Black and white and they slowly turn to color. The waiters outfits are black and white and by the end of the meal the change into colorful ones. The plates look like a painters palate. We then drop Key off at the kids club to make ooze. We sat out side and watched as we passed an island. I saw 2 shooting stars. We picked up key and stopped at the front desk and found they had made a royal mess with our bill. Sonya and I were each supposed to have our cards on our own credit cards, but they put the whole thing on her card, and once they hit $300 they charge it. The problem with this is she had put her bank check card down, and did not have $450 (that was our total) in the account because her check does not get deposited until 2 days later, we planned to pay cash for everything. They reversed it, but that took a few days and she got an overdraft fee. How frustrating. We were in bed by midnight.
Wednesday November 7th
We landed in Castaway Cay today. It was beautiful and sunny and there appeared to be no damage by the hurricane. We got off the ship around 9:30 and grabbed the tram to the family beach. Grabbed some chairs and played in the beautiful blue green water. It is breath taking. We stayed here until lunch. We headed to Cookies BBQ for lunch. They had a great buffet here and the food was really good. We were stuffed. Sonya and Key headed off to snorkel and I grabbed one of those low chairs and brought it into the water so when I sat, water was up to my chest. I had fallen asleep here, and got a suntan line from my hand resting on my arm. Around 3 we headed back to the ship, stopped at the post office on the way to mail some postcards. We showered and were up on deck 10 until we departed. We was so beautiful watching us depart. Key brought us all some ice cream. We spent the rest of the night shopping, pin trading and then headed to dinner at parrot Cay. Back to the room to pack up and have our luggage out side by 11 p.m.
Thursday November 8th
We awoke to find ourselves back in Port Canaveral. We headed to breakfast at 8 in Parrot Cay. ( you eat breakfast in the dining room where you had dinner the night before, or you can go to the buffet). Marjan and Igor greeted us with hugs and smiles. We had an excellent breakfast. We said our good-byes and head off the ship. We grabbed a porter who grabbed our luggage, went through customs and headed to our car. We remembered that on the way here our low coolant light was on. We popped the hood to check it and it was empty. While we were doing this, a gentleman who was getting his car saw us and asked if we needed help, we explained what happened and he checked it too and said it was bone dry. He gave us directions to the nearest service station. We went there, I explained what happened and they made us go to the pay phone and call the car rental company first. We called and 20 minutes later, they said duh, fill it with coolant. So back to the service station. I told him, and he says, I don't have any, just go in the store and buy some and fill it your self. How rude!!! This was all done and we hit the road and pulled into the All Stars around 10:30. Our room was not ready but they promised us a 1st floor calypso non smoking room. While we were standing in line at check in, it felt like we were rocking back and forth. It would take us a few days to recover. We decided to hit the outlet malls. We came back around 2 but our room was still not ready so we headed to Downtown Disney. We got back around 4:30 and our room was ready and the best part was we have a $666 ($333 for each of us) credit on our room because we switched from the Contemporary Tower prepaid room to the All stars. We grabbed dinner, swam for a while and went to bed around 8:30
Woke up around 9:30, hit the showers and headed to Magic Kingdom by 11:30. We hopped the railroad and headed to Frontierland. We got Fastpasses for splash Mt. The wait time said 40 minutes and we decided to standby also. We got into the line and the ride was shut down. I have learned when they shut down a ride and tell you they do not know when it will be back up again, just wait. Well over half of the line left. After about 10 minutes we were seated in a log and off we went. I love this ride. I think this might be my favorite. When we were down it was time for our fast pass so we went again. After the second ride Key wasn't feeling so hot, so we hopped the railroad and rode it around the park so she could rest. We got off in the front so we could get a spot in front of the castle for the parade. This new snow globe parade is great!!!!!! We picked a spot right in front of the castle and they stopped there a lot. They pulled Key into the parade every time they stopped. Key still wasn't feeling good so we went to starlight Ray's for lunch. We ordered and sat down, she did not feel like eating so she laid on the bench while we ate. The next thing we know she is asleep. We would have just grabbed her and headed back to the hotel, but we wanted to stay for the 6:30 Spectromagic parade. So we let her sleep for a while. Sonya went and did some shopping while I sat with her. We woke her up at 5. We did a little shopping. We did the people mover twice, then did Alien encounter and then the people mover again. We ended up missing the parade and headed back to the hotel. At the Hotel we stopped in the Arcade for awhile, went swimming and then grabbed dinner at the food court. Headed to bead around 10:30. We think that Key was still a little sick from the motion of the cruise.
Today we split up in the morning. Sonya and Key went to Animal Kingdom and I wanted to see the Magic Kingdom Parade again so I could get some pictures and Video. I got to Magic Kingdom and shopped my way up Main Street and shopped in the castle. I got some Christmas gifts. I decided the perfect spot for the parade was in front of the Christmas Shop, because it was shaded and the sun hits the other side of the street. If you are not careful when the floats come, the sun hits the glass and you can be blinded and not get good pictures, let alone see. Next I went to Starlight Ray's (see a pattern) for a hotdog. Then I went to do the people mover ( I was meeting Sonya by the exit of that ride around 4:30). My plan was to keep ridding until I saw her. This ride had the longest line I had ever seen. It wrapped all the way around the base and went straight out. But because this is a constant loading ride it went fast. One thing that bothered me were the people who came up and blended into the front of the line, like the rest of us weren't waiting. I rode this 5 times until I finally saw Sonya and Key at the exit. We got some ice cream and headed to Cinderella's surprise celebration. This has got to be one of the best shows I have seen. It is original, not a remake of any movie. The show is about a party for Cinderella, and all the characters brought her presents. There were so many in this show. Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, Snow White and Prince Charming, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip Dale, Belle, Beast, Aladdin, jasmine, Genie, Peter Pan, Hook the evil Queen. Anyway you get it! It is a great show, be sure to see it. Then we headed to Splash MT and found a great spot for the parade and decided to take it because it was filling up fast. We met some great people while we were waiting for the parade. This was our first time seeing Spectromagic, ever. I love this so much more than the electric parade. The costumes were so cool. We got to Splash Mt and the wait time said 45 minutes, but it was more like 20. We rode this twice, and then Key and Sonya did Big Thunder MT, then Key and I did splash again. At the end, no one was waiting in line so they let us stay on the boat. We did that 3 more times for a total of 5 rides in a row. They were going to let us continue, but we wanted to shop before they closed, this was supposed to be our last day at Magic Kingdom. We hopped the last Train the front and shopped. Back at the hotel we grabbed some sandwiches from the food court and headed to bed.
Today was our day to eat our way around the world at Epcot. We arrived around 11:45 and Spaceship earth had the longest line I had ever seen, the entire area was filled ( I then found out it was because the countries did not open until 12). Now here is where you need to know something about me. I have to be the world's pickiest eater ever. I like Chicken, Hot dogs, pizza's and sandwiches. So this was going to be very hard for me. I do not try new foods at all. I just had my first Bagel and Cream cheese about a year ago. We will get an item in each country and share it. So we head left and hit Mexico. Here we tried a Churro and diet coke. A sugar breadstick, yum! Next it was Norway and we had Lefska and Diet coke. This is a tortilla wrapped with a cinnamon sugar butter. Way too butter tasting. China we had sweet and sour chicken and a diet coke. This is the first time I have ever had any kind of Chinese food. OH MY this was so good. I went back and got a large order of this for me. So good!!! Next it was Germany where we had Apple Strudel and a diet coke. Then in Italy we had Penne Carbonara and a diet coke. This was really good too. In USA we had Clam chowder and a diet coke ( I just dipped a little cracker in it because I knew I didn't like it, but Sonya said it was good.). After a bathroom break (we did drink a lot of pop) we headed to Japan. Here we had Ginger Tofu pudding and Green Tea. Both of these were beyond gross. The pudding had more of a Jell-O texture, and the ginger and tofu were nasty. In Morocco we had marzipan, way too sugary, baklava very good, and a mamosa. In the back area of this country we saw Aladdin. He told us that Genie was going to be in the front of world Showcase in about 15 minutes. So we took pictures with him and ran and caught the boat to the front just in time to catch the bus pulling up. We saw Genie, Mickey, Minnie, Baloo, then we hopped the boat back to morocco. We went to thank Aladdin and Jasmine was there with him. There was no one else around so Key got some great time with the both of them and some great pictures!!!! Next we went to France and we saw the living Statue. Wow that is a must see!!! I started to feel nauseous in the crowd. I went to sit down and Sonya went and bought a chocolate Crape and a diet coke. As we were sitting there, I felt like I was going to throw up. I started to look for a place where I could throw up. The nearest bathroom was across the bridge in England. I said we have to go and now. We just made it to the bathroom and I did my business, and felt a lot better!!! We had some fish and chips and we caught a group of comedians that just had me laughing. I was laughing at every dumb joke they mad. Like Sir Galahad an appointment. Just had the giggles. Then In Canada we stopped for our last food. We decide we were going to have a beaver tail, when suddenly the couple in front of us turned and gave us their just bought one with Strawberries and whip cream. It turns out they forgot about their Priority seating in 15 minutes and did not want to waste it. We thanked them and enjoyed this fabulous dessert!!!! With way full bellies we went and did Honey I shrunk the audience. Then we did spaceship earth on the way out. I love this ride. We played a little after in that area, pin traded and headed back to the hotel. We picked up our packages and grabbed some yummy mashed potatoes from the food court and headed to bead around 10:30.
Today we went to MGM. On the way to the car I realized I forgot the car keys so we just took the bus. 15 minutes later we were there. We decided to see if we could get lunch at the prime time Café. We were seated about 15 minutes later. Lunch was great. I told them it was Sonya's Birthday 9her actual is 11/22) and they brought her a cupcake and the whole place sang to her. We then headed to Sounds dangerous and grabbed a spot there for the parade. I have never seen the Mulan parade but I think this one rocks!!!! The cars are so colorful. After we did Millionaire. It was a full house. Then we headed to Tower of Terror. Then Sonya and Key did Rock in roller coaster a few times. It was 5:30 so we headed to Fantasmic. We were seated way to the left in the top rows. I think we had pretty good seats for coming a 1/2 hour before the show. After MGM we headed to Downtown Disney. We shopped our way to Planet Hollywood. (we each spent about $200 shopping so we had a lot of bags.). We had dinner there at 9. We grabbed the bus back around 10:30 and headed to bed.
After an hour of trying to decide on what park to hit for our last day we decide no more parks. We swam for awhile. Then shopped the rest of the day, hitting the outlets and Down town Disney, We had Lunch at Planet Hollywood. They have my first favorite food, Texas Tostados. These are large chips with chicken, BBQ sauce and melted cheese. Then we shopped more and went to the Macaroni Grill for dinner. We had a gift Certificate there. This was really gross and we stopped at Planet Hollywood and got Texas Tostados to go. We headed back to the hotel and packed up.
We slept in, swam, played in the Arcade and checked out. We loaded up the car. We had a 4 door full size car and Keyleigh had to sit in the back with luggage on top of her. The car was packed full, trunk and all. I guess we shopped a little too much. We headed out about 1. I heard on the news there was a major accident on 4 and most of it was closed for a while. I knew a back way to the airport and I dropped Key, Sonya and all the luggage off at the airport and drove to Alamo to drop off the car. I stopped for gas, using the pay at the pump. I drop off the car, get a bus back to the airport and meet up with Sonya. She did curbside check in so all I had to do was show my ID and we were all set. We shopped (yes we are not done yet) in the airport shops. Had lunch and got on our plane home. We connected at O'Hare. I do not like this airport. None of the food places have anywhere to sit and eat. The ride went fine and we were home before you knew it. Our 3 weeks of vacation gone. At least everything was paid for in advance so we don't have to pay it every month and be reminded! OH now we just have to decide when we are going back.