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Sue Holland -- July 2002 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite, VBR, OKWR, AKL)


Who/When/Where:

  • Who:
    • Sue (me), DVC member
    • Chris (15), my son
    • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
    • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
    • Greg (14) & Ed (10??), Larry & Jill's sons
    • Nancy, friend - works at Pleasure Island
    • Clinta, Nancy's fiancé - also works at PI
    • Dates: July 12 - 21, 2002
  • Travel Method: Personal car
  • Resort: Hampton Inn Maingate East (2nts), Disney's Vero Beach Resort (2nts), Old Key West (3nts), Animal Kingdom Lodge (2nts)
  • Experience: Extremely experienced

INTRODUCTION:

At last - a real vacation rather than a long weekend, lol! This trip was planned a year ago, with our friends Larry & Jill from Scotland. Luckily they are big WDW fans and come over often, so we spent time with them last December, October, and I think last summer as well. Usually our mutual friends Tom & Leanne are there at the same time, but this time since we were headed to Vero for part of the trip Tom & Leanne came to WDW for Larry & Jill's first week (they come for 2 weeks at a time generally). We will miss them, but hope we'll all be together again next time - unfortunately I was unable to get away at all during that first week to join them.

About a year ago I'd invited Larry & his family to be our guests in the "posh DVC digs" that normally would be out of reach for him (he coined that phrase while staying at the All Stars and visiting a DVC friend who was staying at the Boardwalk, and we regularly tease each other about our respective choices in Disney lodging). Since they come so often and for so long, I suggested a couple of days at the DVC resort in Vero, to give them a chance to see a new resort and another part of Florida. Larry wanted to reciprocate for our hospitality and asked if we would extend our stay to include Friday night, with him providing a room at any deluxe resort. My arm doesn't need twisting - it sounded great, so we decided on Animal Kingdom Lodge since at the time neither of us had stayed there yet. Larry made the reservation for the 2 rooms, and later Nancy used her cm discount to get the reservation changed to concierge level! We mainly wanted to do the Sunrise Safari, but it'll be nice to have access to that cappuccino machine in the lounge! Larry & Jill fly home on Saturday, and I'd originally booked an offsite room for Saturday night so we could stick around and enjoy the concierge lounge for most of the day - but later canceled that reservation and booked a standard room at AKL when a postcard arrived in the mail. It's possible they won't make us move, but if we have to - it will be easy to have bell services just keep everything for us.

There's one thing Larry doesn't know about. When we planned the trip, I told him I'd book a 2br villa at both Vero and OKWR. Later I asked him if he'd mind if I invited Nancy & Clinta to Vero as well - he & Jill have met Nancy & like her, so of course he was agreeable to getting to spend more time with them. What he doesn't know is I never booked a 2br at Vero - I booked a Beach Cottage (Vero's version of a Grand Villa). There are 6 Beach Cottages, and each is a separate building. There are 3 bedrooms & 3 bathrooms downstairs, 3 decks/porches, and even a porch swing. Upstairs is the living room, dining room & kitchen. It supposedly sleeps 12, but I can't imagine cramming 12 people into the upstairs! However, our group of 8 will be fine (including the 3 boys). It'll be fun to see Larry's reaction when he sees where we're staying - nothing like starting out with the top of the line for his first DVC stay (hopefully OKWR won't be a letdown since we really do only have a 2br villa there).

Priorities for the trip are pretty simple. I want to enjoy the sun/water, spend time with friends, eat my favorite foods, and of course spend evenings at the Comedy Warehouse. Non-routine plans include a baseball game the 2nd night we're in Vero. Our local minor league team is playing the Vero Beach team that night in Vero, so our general manager called his counterpart there to get us 8 tickets near our team's dugout. We've been season ticket holders for years, but this is only the 2nd time we've seen the team play "on the road". We'll also do the Sunrise Safari, which Chris & I did in January with his dad - and thoroughly enjoyed. It will mark the end of our time with Larry's family, as they head to the airport later that day.

I hope to visit the water parks since I haven't been able to go there during the past few trips, and hope to eat dinner at Shutters (in Vero) for their delicious tomato/mozzarella salad. I'll definitely be getting soup at Mara and that wonderful yogurt/granola breakfast thing - and probably a brownie or 2! Le Cellier is already booked for the first Saturday, and maybe we'll grab a meal at Olivia's some afternoon. I'll have to visit the new Beach Club Villas to get the few remaining pictures needed for a photo tour & article for MousePlanet, which should run the 4th Friday of July, and will need to finish that article and get it all submitted before leaving for Vero. I also need to visit Celebration and Disney's Wide World of Sports for possible articles or photo tours of those locations.

I'm not sure how much time we'll be spending in the parks - but if part of the group wants to do one thing and others want to go elsewhere, we can split off and do different things until we meet up later. Leesa is joining me for Comedy Warehouse on my first night, and hopefully we can get her back out there again before the trip ends. One person I'll miss this trip is Kathy - she's got a daughter visiting from college all this week, otherwise I would have headed over to see her. At the last minute other DVC friends (Adie & Lisa) had a change in their plans, which will put them at the Comedy Warehouse this weekend. They've already warned me they would find me there Friday (they didn't want me to think they were stalking me), and hopefully I'll see them there Saturday as well.

The plans (subject to change) so far...

  • Fri 7/12: Work, Pick up Leesa, Check in Hampton Inn, Dinner Wolfgang Puck Express, Comedy Warehouse
  • Sat 7/13: Take pictures at BCV, lunch @ Le Cellier with Larry's family, finish BCV article, Comedy Warehouse
  • Sun 7/14: Meet Larry for drive to Vero, spend day at pool/beach, dinner at Shutters??
  • Mon 7/15: Vero pool & beach, baseball game
  • Tue 7/16: Vero pool & beach, drive to OKWR, Comedy Warehouse
  • Wed 7/17: Some park, Comedy Warehouse
  • Thu 7/18: Water park or theme park, Comedy Warehouse
  • Fri 7/19: Early check in to AKL concierge, water park or theme park, concierge lounge
  • Sat 7/20: Sunrise Safari, see Gus at AK, enjoy AKL concierge lounge, possible Comedy Warehouse

Sun 7/21: Breakfast at Mara, do anything we want to see, drive home

DAY 1 FRIDAY JULY 12, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Adie & Lisa, DVC members & Comedy Warehouse regulars
  • Plan: Work, Pick up Leesa, Check in Hampton Inn, dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: Believe it or not, I actually had the entire day off today, but forgot and thought I only had the afternoon off. I discovered my error on Wednesday, but decided to go ahead and work the 1/2 day since I will be gone for most of 3 weeks after my vacation (business trips) and this is a very busy time for one of my departments. At the last minute Thursday a mandatory meeting for the senior mgt team was set for 10-noon today (strategic planning - I would rather be at WDW, lol), so I guess it was lucky that I did not make plans to start the vacation early in the morning. Chris came to work with me, and spent the morning volunteering in our Café.

At noon we hit the road - after a 20 minute delay for an accident in Sarasota and another 10 minute delay when some jerk cut me off (at 85-90 mph) so I missed my exit we arrived at Leesa's around 3:30. We looked at a project she is working on, I checked my mail, and then we headed through traffic to check in at the Hampton Inn. Check in went quickly and we brought our stuff up to the room, only to find a funny smell. It was nothing like cigarette smoke, but was somewhat sour. We didn't want to bother with it now, but I may say something in the morning to see if they can fix it while we're out. Our room overlooks the pool, tennis court & basketball court, and is very quiet. For $50 (government rate) it's a great deal, and I'd rather spend the $100 instead of using 54 DVC points for a studio for these nights, since we will rarely be in the room.

We drove to Downtown Disney and parked in our usual area at Pleasure Island. It was finally sunny, and felt like it might turn out to be a pleasant evening (later it did get humid but overall it wasn't too bad for July). Chris was starving, so we went right to Wolfgang Puck's Express for dinner. I was surprised to see it wasn't crowded at all, and was disappointed to see mostly new people working inside - service was pretty poor because they seemed disorganized, despite there being very few customers. They did have an caprese salads out so I asked the guy if they had any, and was told if they had any they'd be out there (not in a nasty way, but obviously they were not going to make me one or find one out back somewhere). Leesa got her usual 1/2 bbq chicken and a slushie. Chris got his usual chicken fingers with macaroni & cheese and I snagged a chicken finger from his plate. Leesa had gotten macaroni & cheese with her chicken but didn't want it, so I ate some but Chris ate most of hers as well! I showed the cashier my DVC card to get the DVC discount, and once we were outside I noticed she'd given us 30% off. I'm pretty sure the discount is supposed to be less than that - but I guess I'll see for sure when I check in to OKWR on Tuesday.

The food was good, and just as we sat down Adie & Lisa arrived! Lisa had brought the Fairy Tales mugs she had printed - last month 6 of us (Adie & Lisa, Leesa, Kathy, Sheila & I) saw Fairy Tales together, and had a fantastic time at the show. Both Layden and Jen B were in the show and Lisa had printed them mugs similar to the ones I'd had them make for Greg (he directed the show). Lisa later decided to print the entire cast new mugs, using pictures I had taken during the show - each of the 5 actors would have a mug with the name of the show but also their picture and name. They turned out beautiful, but Lisa had printed 7 mugs so that the ENTIRE cast would have one - including Sheila & me, who were onstage as 2 of the Partridge Family for one of the songs! Leesa had taken this picture - both Sheila & I are in costume on stage; I was the young boy playing drums and she was the young girl playing the tambourine. We looked pretty silly, but it was a lot of fun - and the mugs are great! Sheila will get a kick out of it when she sees it! Anyway, Lisa was planning to give the mugs for the 5 actors to Greg, but I told her I'd heard he was out of town this weekend. I knew Jen B usually worked on Saturday nights, so they would be able to give them to her. We enjoyed eating, talking & laughing together, retelling some of the funniest moments (offstage) at Fairy Tales to Chris - such as me pouring Kathy's beer through the syringe, directly onto the carpet and then trying again and creating a giant foam head that overflowed everywhere (we weren't disruptive to anyone else, but definitely made our own fun while waiting for the show to start <g>) as we were trying to be discrete!

Shortly before 7 we returned to Pleasure Island and waited for the line to form at the Comedy Warehouse until the right number of people were ahead of us. I had neglected to check the back door, and once we got inside we saw a large party had already been seated in long row. Darby was seating and we were sent to the first phone row - Chris sat by the phone but we knew it would not ring because they don't ring at people they know. They try to get someone who's never been to the club, also. Dee was our server and she had brought pictures of her cute kittens - we were in her section all night long, and got to chat with her quite a bit.

The 7:15 show featured Joy, Philip, Jen B, Matt, & Christine (Chris). Joy started out with the phone call and I was shocked to find it was our phone ringing! I'd noticed the tech guy was someone I'd never seen before, and figured he must not recognize any of us. Chris wouldn't answer, so I picked up the phone. It's kind of strange to have someone who knows you say "What's your name?" but it would ruin the show if it appeared the actor already knew the person, so Joy went through all the usual questions and I answered them truthfully (I hate when people on the phone think they're supposed to try to be funny) so they could do whatever they wanted with the material. It was a cute song, and Chris commented that it was mostly about him - most of the actors used something about him (later we found out why <g>). Adie came down to remark how calm & composed I'd seemed on the phone - she said she was a nervous wreck just being in the same row, lol!

They did Fill in the Blank with 2 audience volunteers, with Philip & Matt creating a scene in an Enron boardroom. They're both terrific, and it was a cute scene. Next was Schmeopardy, hosted by Philip as John Ashcroft wearing a devil's costume. Contestants were a smoking drunken stay at home mom (Jen) named Joan Cleaver, a screaming 7th grade English teacher (Joy) named Mrs. Yeller, and Chris as Little Miss Muffet who now works for the United Way rather than with curds & whey <g>. Joy's character was hysterical, and she played it to perfection. Jen was great, too - she does the deadbeat type characters very well. We headed outside after the show, and spent time talking to other CW regulars Bob & Virginia. Dave (another regular) joined us, so it was a lot of fun.

We backdoored the rest of the night, and for the 8:15 show decided to take tech row (the row behind long row) since most of long row was taken by a big party and we wanted to have room for Adie & Lisa who'd be coming through the regular line. Dave joined us on tech row. This time the cast was Matt, Philip, Jen B, Jen Br, & Joy. They started with a poem - I Slipped on a Piece of Macaroni & Cheese. Next was a playlet that took place in a Starbucks, with Jen, Jen & Matt. It was kind of sick at times, but it was funny. They also did Forgotten Songs, which were also good. Matt was a little kid named Timmy who sang "I Pulled a Girl's Pigtails", which got a bit gross because he pulled so hard he pulled her braids off and left her bleeding (yuck) - it was funny though. Philip came out as a skunk and sang an opera song about women not liking him because of the streak in his hair - in a song called "The Streak". Jen, Jen & Joy were science teachers who sang "Skeleton in the Closet". Next was the game where 4 actors each have a different word to create a scene with, and then the scene freezes and they change to someone else's word. Sometimes it's not very good, but tonight they did an excellent job with it. Philip had Disneyland, Matt had seismologist, Joy had zucchini, and Jen Br had hippopotamus. It was a lot of fun!

We went back outside after the show, and spent the time until the doors opened again talking to Jen B out there. She loved her new mug, and agreed to deliver the rest to the others. I showed her my mug as well, and she brought up the first show. She said the tech guy was a sub and didn't know who we are, but the cast was dying backstage when they saw my phone ring (they can see from back there)! Jen said she was glad it was Joy who had phone duty because she knows too much about me, and even Joy commented it was hard because she knows me & especially Leesa. That's the reason so many of the rhymes were about Chris - Jen said doing a rhyme about someone you know is like cheating. I don't think the audience would have any idea, but I think it's great they don't "cheat" like that. We went back in when the door opened, and this time brought Adie & Lisa in with us since it was not as busy this show, and took our seats in long row.

The 9:15 cast was Jen Br, Joy, Chris, Brian & Philip. Joy & Brian did a good job with Emotions (where they each are given different emotions to stay in while the scene unfolds). Next was Schmeopardy again, hosted by Chris. Philip was Toyota Honda, a Japanese teacher of Butt kicking 101. Brian was Dr. Edmund Corpsigan, a forensic pathologist. Jen Br was Viola, a silver roller who actually rolled stainless steel flatware into napkins at the Golden Corral! It was brief but very funny.

Outside we visited with Nancy on her break, then went back inside for our last show of the evening. The 10:30 cast was Jen Br, Chris, Matt, Brian & Jen B. I was hoping for either Cliché or Conducted Story, and we got the story. Jen Br was the conductor of the story titled "Railroad Rendezvous". It took a long time for the first death, because they were just that good tonight! Chris died while obtaining a divorce, with Brian as her soon to be ex-husband and Matt as her lawyer. Her lawyer killed her to shut her up - her character was a bit obnoxious, lol! It was a very long time before the next death, which occurred only after they were no longer permitted to use the words "the", "and", and some other common word. Jen B was ordered to die, and was hysterical dying by a rabbit while doing an alternative music song. Brian and Matt were left, but they wrapped up the story before either made a mistake - or time was running out anyway. Overall it was a very good show, and the whole evening was a lot of fun! I was sorry to not have Mary or Greg working tonight but knew that before I came up and was very pleased to have them replaced by veterans rather than the newer subs. Hopefully they'll both be back by the time I go to Vero & return.

After the show Larry (from Scotland) stopped by - he'd come to the show but was seated further back. He looked great - last time he had his beard and now that it's gone he looks like a very young man! We chatted briefly and then he went to meet Jill - we'll see each other at lunch tomorrow! Nancy came over and brought me last week's Eyes & Ears, which had lots of pictures and information on the new Beach Club Villas. We stood outside talking with Adie & Lisa for a while, then headed out. Nancy gave Leesa a ride home, and Chris & I left PI with Adie & Lisa. Outside the turnstile we said goodnight to them, they called us offsite scum <g>, and we drove back to our unusually scented room at the Hampton Inn. It's a killer to drive past OKWR and not turn down that road - being "offsite scum" isn't nearly as convenient as staying "home" at OKWR! I finished up the trip report and got it posted, not worrying about time since we did not need to be getting up early in the morning. Chris went right to bed and was asleep in a couple of minutes - maybe he'll be able to keep up with his mom when he's 43 and I'm 68, lol!

The day went according to plan, and it was a wonderful evening. Wolfgang Puck's Express was a bit of a disappointment, but we'll surely be giving them another try & hope the service & caprese salads are back where they should be! Spending the evening at the Comedy Warehouse with so many friends was terrific - there's nothing else I'd rather be doing (except maybe things I couldn't mention on an aol message board <g>)! I love the Fairy Tales mug - that was a nice surprise, and Chris had a good time hanging out with all of us.

DAY 2 SATURDAY JULY 13, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (10??), Larry & Jill's sons
  • Adie & Lisa, DVC & Comedy Warehouse friends

Plan: Take pictures at BCV, lunch @ Le Cellier with Larry's family, finish BCV article, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I had set the alarm for 8am and got up then - much later than usual, but reasonable considering I had stayed up until almost 3am. I was looking forward to reading Adie & Lisa's report, but it wasn't there! What's up with that?? They whine & carry on when mine isn't posted within 20 minutes, so now it's my turn to whine at them <g>. Guess they think they can throw a mug my way and I'll forget all about the report???? LOL - Hopefully they're remember they're not on vacation to have fun - they're here to give the rest of us a trip report to read <g>.

Oh well, I showered and headed down to pick up some breakfast by 9. Besides the usual muffins, bagels, cereal, donuts & beverages they also have waffles and possibly French toast that can be toasted or micro waved. I got an English muffin and a banana nut muffin, and returned to the room. Chris got up around 9:30 and went down for his breakfast. We were not in any particular hurry yet - neither of us cared about the theme parks, so we just enjoyed a leisurely day. It was after 10 (and raining) by the time I left for Celebration, but since it's directly across the street from the road to this hotel it didn't take any time at all to get there. Chris decided to stay here and play basketball (despite the rain), so I went alone.

I had never been to Celebration before and wasn't sure quite what to expect. I'd heard people refer to it as a "Stepford" kind of place, where everything looked the same and was very fake. I didn't find it to be like that at all, though. It is beautiful, and although it is overpriced for this area and not somewhere I want to live, it is the type of community that I like. Everything is kept nice & pretty, and there are rules to keep it that way - which I see as a good thing (I live in a community with restrictions and it's nice knowing that I won't have a neighbor doing anything aesthetically unpleasing, but not everyone likes to live like that). I drove around looking at the houses and downtown area, but since it was raining pretty heavily I knew I'd have to come back to wander around any.

Back at the Hampton Inn Chris was watching TV with the basketball, waiting for the rain to end <g>. I had him return it, and we drove over to the Beach Club. The security guard waved me through when I showed her my DVC member card and told her we were here to see the new resort. I think it looks really nice - the green color is pretty, and it fits in well with the existing resort. The Dunes Cove quiet pool was very quiet - when the rain started people must have bolted, because several chairs had wet towels laying on them. It's a decent-sized pool, with a square spa nearby. When I stay here most likely I'd be at Stormalong Bay, but this pool is a nice alternative if you don't want any of the SAB amenities. Inside, the hallways were nice & bright! The carpet looks like a beach with shells in the sand, with carpets designed into the overall carpet. The doors are a pretty wood, and everything looks nice & fresh. We found the Drawing Room and the Breezeway - both sitting areas with comfortable furnishings and pretty surroundings. The Drawing Room had a TV with several child-sized chairs lined up in front of it, but nobody was there.

Chris had not seen the units here, so we stopped by the model (room #108) to take a look. Traffic was pretty steady, so we didn't stay long. I really like the studio here - it's very cute, and perfect for my solo trips. I don't see myself ever bothering with a larger unit here though, as I prefer the units at OKWR. I'll be very happy to use my BCV points for studios here each year though - and told Leesa she could come back and enjoy Stormalong Bay when I'm staying here in November.

We wandered through the shop and into the lobby so I could pick up the resort information just in case there was something else I needed for my photo tour article. It was still raining, so we sat on a bench and I made notes on the pictures I'd taken so far today, then we walked to Epcot. We had time to kill, so we walked around World Showcase, stopping to see that the trains were not operating in Germany and then to ride the Maelstrom in Norway. A party of 8 was ahead of us, and the cm told them to take rows 3 & 4, told us to take row 2, and the large couple behind us to take row 1. The party of 8 goes to the boat and spreads out into rows 4,3 & 2 - I wasn't terribly alert and figured we must be supposed to wait for the next boat, lol. The cm yelled over to the party - calling them "party of 8" and told them they are all supposed to be in rows 3 & 4, so they had to move. It wasn't very busy, but whatever. If they were told row 3 & 4, that's where they should go - but on the other hand I didn't care if we waited for the next boat.

We continued walking to Canada and saw Larry's family heading down to Le Cellier as we approached. The restaurant was not nearly as busy as usual - perhaps due to the weather (although I'd think rain would be a great reason to stop for a nice indoor lunch). It was great seeing the Wilmots again - the boys get along great and both Larry & Jill are terrific. We started catching up and placed our orders. I had my usual soup and wine, Chris & Greg both got the steak burger with fries, Ed got the kids' pasta, and Larry & Jill shared the steak sandwich and the chicken sandwich. Our server was pretty friendly, but very slow. It took a long time to get breadsticks, a long time to get our food, and then we waited to settle the check. The food was excellent, though, and I wasn't in any hurry. The boys all ordered the chocolate mousse dessert from the kids' menu (they'll bring this to anyone who asks for it), which at $3.95 is probably the best bargain here! I took a picture of it - it was so cute! They took a chocolate chip cookie and put a scoop of chocolate mousse coated in chocolate cookie crumbs on it, stuck 2 delicious thin Maple Leaf cookies in it for ears, and used 2 blueberries for eyes. There was a smaller scoop of the same mousse right next to that, with a big raspberry for the nose. On the plate they'd used chocolate to draw whiskers and the outline of a tongue, which was filled in with a raspberry sauce. It looked great and tasted even better! I was glad Chris got full - I didn't have to behave like a shrew and make him stop eating so I could have some <g>. Ed couldn't finish his, and Jill's eyes lit up - she told him to pass the plate down, lol! The total check after the 20% DDE was about $65, to which we added a $15 tip to allow for the discount. We all were stuffed by the time we got out of there.

The boys decided to go to DisneyQuest (Chris ended up going with them rather than hang with his mom & the mug ladies tonight <g>) so they headed off to catch a bus from Boardwalk - after getting $$$ from the parents to buy dinner tonight. Ugh - I cannot even think about food yet, and know I won't be eating dinner tonight. Larry & Jill were going to spend some time in Epcot; I walked back to the Beach Club and was going to return to Hampton Inn but since it was not raining I decided to go back to Celebration instead. I drove around there some more, then parked the car along Market Street and walked around until it began to rain again. It's funny to hear the Disney songs playing outside downtown. One thing I didn't like about Celebration - parking seems to be limited. Many people have cars parked out front, on the street, which I do not like. They've got lanes set aside on both sides of some roads specifically for parking, but I'd rather see cars off the street (tucked away in the garage or driveway). I'd be afraid some idiot would accidentally hit my car if it was parked out there - guess I'll never live in a big city!

I drove back to the Hampton Inn and spent time on the tedious task of downloading and labeling the Celebration and BCV pictures taken today, then uploaded the BCV ones to MousePlanet and updated the report while the camera was recharging. It was almost 5:45 by the time I finished, so I hung out a while longer online. If the weather had been nice (NOT raining) I would have gone to wander around Downtown Disney, but it was varying from light rain to pouring windy rain. Hopefully it'll stop raining soon! By 6 I'd changed my mind and decided to make a quick trip to the Character Premiere in the Premium Outlets. Traffic was light getting over there, but the outlets were pretty busy. Character Premiere had less stuff than usual (there was actually lots of space between the racks), but nothing I really liked in my size.

I drove to Downtown Disney and parked near Planet Hollywood this time. I'd given Chris most of the rest of my cash for his dinner at DisneyQuest, so I went to Candy Cauldron and bought a Mickey truffle for later - using a $50 traveler's check to pay for the $.84 candy (after checking with the cashier so I didn't wipe her out). As I entered PI it began to rain again, but didn't rain for too long. I browsed in a couple of stores, and then sat at a dry table under an overhang to update my notes and do some people watching. At 7 I went up and talked to Nick outside the Warehouse until Adie & Lisa arrived. We joined the line at the right time and were seated in long row. Darby was doing the seating and said Nancy needed to talk to me, so I called her at her work number. She had bad news - they are not able to go to Vero with us! There's some big banquet on Monday that Disney's known about for some time now, and they changed Nancy's days off this week (telling her today) even though she had arranged to have her regular days off. She has to work both Sunday and Monday nights. She hates missing the trip, and it really sucks that this happened - we all would have had so much fun, and it's doubtful I'll ever get a Beach Cottage again (although I never expected to get one this time, so who knows <g>). Grrrr! I guess the 6 of us will have plenty of room, lol!

The show started, so I got off the phone and told Adie & Lisa what was going on. The 7:20 cast was Joy, Brian, Jen, Krista & Robin. They started with a poem called Jellyfish Sandwich, which was cute. Next Jen called different entertainment styles while Krista & Brian created a scene about cleaning the attic. They were married, but Brian had secretly had a sex change operation so he could be both husband and wife, and Krista had an alien tumor growing in her head. It was very funny and the games where they change styles or emotions are some of my favorites because it moves fast. If a style or emotion doesn't work well, the actor calling can quickly change it rather than letting the scene die. They also did the game where each actor has a word and creates a scene about that word, then they all work together on each other's scenes. Joy had church, Jen had clothes, Brian had dodge, and Rob had library. Tonight this was excellent - Brian always seems to be pushing the limits, and I'll bet in a setting where he doesn't have the Disney limitations he must be hysterical. In the church scene he was a lecherous priest, all over Jen and then setting his sights on her daughter and promising to come back for her son! It was terribly tasteless, but we were laughing so hard --even Krista appeared shocked but was doubled over in laughter.

We went right back out to get in line for the next show and someone Adie & Lisa had spoken to last night arrived and moved up to join us in line (Becky). It began raining again, so we stood under their giant umbrella - I think they took it off their patio table before leaving home <g>. We got long row again, and the 8:15 cast was Brian, Joy, Rob, Jen & Jake. They did Fill in the Blank with 2 audience volunteers. Unfortunately the 2 volunteers gave all serious, logical answers. Joy & Jen were creating a scene about fixing a toilet, and the scene just kind of died due to the suggestions that could not be turned into comedy because they made sense. Joy & Jen both did as well as anyone could, given the circumstances, but we were glad to see it end. They did Schmeopardy, with Jen as host Alexis Quebec. Jake did his Decklin character as a dog biter, Rob was a tailor named Asreal Slader (did not understand that one), but Brian was the funniest as nurse Bernice Bloodletter. He got a little raunchy, and for the answer from the bird category "cockatoo" his question was "What have I had a few times in my life?" - very funny, but maybe not for kids <g>. Rob's question to the word "Max" was "What precedes E-Pad?" - that was probably his biggest laugh for the night. As a sub, he's still learning.

On the way out we ran into Tracy & Tyger, so we all got in line (in the rain still) again for the next show. This time we were seated 2 rows behind tech row, but we didn't care. We were hoping to see Matt tonight, and he ended up being in the 9:15 show along with Jen, Brian, Chris and Rob. They did a 1-act play called the Belly Ring, which was directed by Jen. Matt played a guy who was giving Chris a belly ring piercing. It was a little gross, but pretty funny. Next they did Cliché, which we all love! Unfortunately, Rob was the one being tortured and that sometimes means the audience is tortured worse than he is <g>. The cliché was "No matter how thick the glass is, you can always break it with a hammer." The main clue was a Jewish wedding where they tried unsuccessfully to stomp on the glass and then the rabbi said he was going to get his tool box. So, it was kind of easy in that the words made sense in relation to each other, and it was obvious it was about breaking a glass and some tool (hammer). Rob got the big stuff ok, but struggled on the pickier little parts, and finally figured it all out. I said goodnight to a few of the actors on the way out, and we went back out in the rain!

Tracy & Tyger got back in line for the next show, Becky had disappeared, and the rest of us walked out of PI together. Chris was waiting for me so we drove back to the Hampton Inn and Adie/Lisa went to buy a friend some fudge from the Candy Cauldron before returning to the Boardwalk for their last evening here. Traffic wasn't bad, but I'll tell you - living the life of offsite scum is not fun on a rainy night <g>. The people who insist it takes no longer to drive to their offsite hotels than it does to get to a Disney resort have got to be smoking some of Adie's crack or something! Either that or they're using Disney transportation, lol!

I ate the Mickey truffle as I finished up the report and watched the local weather forecast - so far tomorrow looks ok. The rain today was a pain, and I hope we don't have a week of it! It was still a good day though, with lunch at Le Cellier being slow but delicious and the Comedy Warehouse with a bunch of friends is always a great time! It's a shame about Nancy & Clinta missing the Vero trip, but at least they'll be with us for 5 nights in the Hilton Head grand villa next March.

DAY 3 SUNDAY JULY 14, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons

Plan: Meet Larry for drive to Vero, spend day at pool/beach, dinner at Shutters??

Actual: We'd agreed to meet in the parking lot of the ugly McDonald's near the All Star Resorts at 8am, so I set the alarm for 6:10 and made it to bed by 12:30 last night. For breakfast I had part of a bagel and part of a chocolate donut, while Chris had cereal, a donut & waffles (the frozen toaster-kind). The toasters here are so slow, but luckily we had allowed enough time to be able to wait. We left at 7:45 to meet Larry's family and were all on the road by 8 after a quick stop for expensive gas near the Boardwalk.

It was an easy drive, and we arrived at the resort around 9:45. The Beach Cottage was not ready and the cm said the people in there now were not leaving until 11 so it would be 4pm before it was ready. I can't imagine using all the points it takes for this unit on a Saturday night - 132 for one night! But, evidently there are people who will pay that. We headed out to the pool and searched for chairs together. We decided on a spot, but when we came back with towels noticed a lady with a package of cigarettes on the table - we just looked at each other and moved on, lol! No freakin' way did we want to smell that all day. We ended up on the other side of the pool and found an area that had some chairs in the sun for me and some in the shade for the others.

Chris & Greg went into the pool, where they met a teen girl who'd been here a week already and was staying until next Friday. Larry went off exploring while Jill & I laid on our chairs reading. Chris & Greg were hungry around 11:30 so we got them food at Bleachers. Chris & I shared the Darla Special - chicken fingers & fries, plus a chocolate chip cookie ($8). Greg had cheese fries, and later Jill & Larry got the nachos and popcorn shrimp with fries. Everything tasted pretty good. Chris & Greg went to play basketball across the street and later rented bikes for an hour. Ed spent time in the arcade and the pool. Jill & I took a walk on the beach - the water felt great, and it was very clean. It's still not much of a beach, and too narrow in my opinion, but the water was pretty and people were enjoying the waves. We walked along the edge of the water, so when waves would come up the water would splash over our feet. One big wave surprised us by getting us partially wet from head to toe, lol! I think Jill got the worst of it, but I definitely had salt water in my mouth and one of my eyes. We returned to the pool to find Larry had worked out in the fitness center - very impressive!

We laid around reading, enjoying the atmosphere. The DJ was playing music from noon until 3pm and there were many contests going on (Limbo, Hershey's eating) as well as certain dances. I decided to get one of the specialty drinks - a raspberry pina colada. Nancy would have loved it! Another DVC couple came over to introduce themselves, and we were talking when Chris & Greg came back around 3:30 to tell me our room was ready. They had asked the security guard, who checked with housekeeping. Jill was off somewhere with Ed, so I decided this was as good a time as any to let Larry in on the Beach Cottage secret <g>. He was surprised but quite pleased at the upgrade, and we headed over to take a look. I still had half of my raspberry pina colada, so I put it in the freezer.

The Beach Cottage is gorgeous - it's the perfect little beach home for us for the next 2 nights. I of course have the master bedroom, since it's my points paying for it, lol! There are 2 other bedrooms, each with 2 double beds and a bathroom. Larry & Jill took the one on the right, and we gave the other one to the 3 boys to share. Upstairs all the windows made the cottage look nice & bright - the kitchen is really pretty and the dining room table seats 8. The living room consists of a couch, love seat and a chair, which isn't much for 12 people, but since we only have 6 it's fine. There's a 5-disc CD player in the stereo. The cottage has 4 separate large decks - 2 upstairs and 2 downstairs - on either side of the building. The top deck on the beach side has a table with 4 chairs plus 2 lounge chairs. The bottom deck on the beach side has a smaller table with 4 chairs, and is accessible from each of the 3 bedrooms. The other top deck has a couple of chairs, and the other bottom one has a rocking chair and a swing.

Larry & I moved the stuff in from the cars and then he went to find Jill. They were both impressed with the Beach Cottage, since it's at least as nice as the room they had at All Star Movies last week <g>. In fact, Larry commented later that their bedroom is about the size of their All Star room and he feels like he should be closing the door each time he comes out - as if he's still at All Stars, lol! We got showered & cleaned up and the adults headed to Publix in Sebastian. Larry had decided he'd cook for us tomorrow, since the kitchen was so complete. We picked up what we needed, after figuring out what the heck Larry was looking for. Being from a foreign country, they call things by a different name than we do, even though we both speak "English". He was asking the clerk for some strange sounding pasta and was told they don't carry it - but when he described it to me I knew it was fettuccine and handed him a box of it (that's exactly what he was looking for). We got the rest of what we needed and then returned to the resort. Before dinner I ate a few bites of my raspberry pina colada, which was now a Popsicle <g>. It came right out of the cup on the straw, and looked pretty funny.

Tomorrow there's a kayaking adventure from 2-6 which the guys all wanted to do. Ed is too young, but he can ride in a double kayak with Larry. Members pay $40 and non-members pay more (maybe $45 or $50). Chris had signed up for this before but it got canceled at the last minute, so we stopped at the recreation window before going to dinner and got everyone signed up. They're the only ones signed up so far, and the cm said the activity will go on even if only 1 person signed up. It'd be nice if it was just the 4 of them - like a private tour!

The boys went off somewhere and the adults went to Shutters for our 6:30 priority seating. We were seated right away and our server was both friendly and efficient. It's a small restaurant, but attractive and the menu is pretty varied. They have an open kitchen and from our table we could see what a lot of the food looked like when it came up. I ordered my tomato & mozzarella salad for my dinner. Larry & Jill both got the special meatloaf dinner, and then shared crème brulee for dessert. The crème brulee had lots of berries in a sauce on the side, plus some toasted coconut and whipped cream. They both said it was great - I'm not a crème brulee fan. We had a nice dinner - the total check was only about $40 and we didn't have any discounts or anything.

After dinner I looked in the store, then we walked through the old abandoned DVC offices at the other end of the Inn. It was fun to see the model of the resort, and some of the pictures on the wall. Our cottage was a short walk from there, and Jill made some coffee for herself & Larry. The boys arrived with a pizza for their dinner, and sat at the breakfast bar to eat. Edward had never seen a garbage disposal before (the real kind - I'm not making a joke about Chris <g>) so I showed him how it worked. It was pretty noisy and I think it scared him a bit, which is good - he won't be playing with it, lol! I decided to have a glass of wine, and it took 2 of us to get the cork out of the bottle, thanks to the crummy corkscrew provided.

The boys headed out into the night - I think they're headed to the arcade and will swim later. I went downstairs to finish the report while Larry & Jill watched some TV. The day went according to the plan, and I was thrilled that we had no rain at all! It was a great day, and I'm loving this Beach Cottage!

DAY 4 MONDAY JULY 15, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons

Plan: Vero pool & beach, baseball game

Actual: It felt so good to be back in a Disney bed, and being able to hear the waves on the beach was extra nice! We did not open any of the doors - it's far too humid for that - with no other noise it was easy to hear the waves. I was in bed by 11, and we'd agreed to just get up whenever we woke up. Larry & Jill knew if I wasn't here then I'd be at our same spot at the pool. I expect Chris will sleep late, which is fine.

I woke up around 7 but didn't get up until 7:30. I'd left the laptop connected to aol all night, and quickly caught up on the overnight mail. Coming out of my bedroom and seeing the beautiful staircase leading up to the rest of the cottage - wow, it's so great to be in such a gorgeous place. Everyone just loves it! Yesterday while the adults were gone the boys used the blender and made slushies (ice, soda) and cleaned up after themselves so we didn't even know they'd done anything.

I whipped up some banana walnut Snackin' Cake and put it in the oven. Larry was the next one to get up, and it was nice spending some quiet time with him. Last night he'd taken Ed to the fitness center and poor Ed ended up flying off the back of the treadmill. He wasn't hurt though - just skinned his knees up. The boys got up next, and it was cute listening to Ed speaking in all seriousness telling Larry he really enjoyed seeing the things that we have here that they don't have - like the garbage disposal! LOL, fly the kid across the ocean and he'll go home remembering seeing a garbage disposal in America!

We had cappuccino or coffee, and the others had some breakfast while I waited for the banana walnut cake. Larry & Ed went back to the fitness center and managed to come back without any new injuries <g>. I talked to Nancy online - we made plans to spend Friday together, but it really stinks that she couldn't be here. While the banana bread was cooling I went to reserve our spots at the pool, then came back to cut the cake. It was still warm, and it was delicious. There's just a little left over, which I'm sure one of the teens will eat before the day is over.

A friend from college had her assistant email me to ask me to call my friend. Unfortunately it was becoming difficult to make the arrangements for her to get from WDW (where she'd be attending a conference) to Ft Myers for the weekend following this vacation, so I agreed to just come back up there to see her, lol! I can suffer through another night or 2 at the Comedy Warehouse - now I have to figure out when & how to get Leesa so she gets an extra night too. Around 10 I headed out to the pool to lay on my chair and do some reading.

The teens arrived around 10:30 and headed to the pool, where they spent the morning playing catch with some teen girls as a couple of other teen girls in bikinis sat on the edge of the pool posing - er, I mean watching <g>. Jill & Edward stopped by on their way to the 11am Monster Checker Match in Community Hall. They had a giant checker board with big pieces, and people played tournament-style. Jill was quite pleased with her "booby prize" and came out to share it with me (a Hershey bar). Ed won a magnetic backgammon game and stayed to play against the other winners. It felt a lot warmer today, since there wasn't as much of a breeze. Just after noon I asked Chris if he was hungry yet, but he said no (maybe the girls had something to do with that??). I headed back to the Beach Cottage and chatted with Larry & Jill a little before updating the report and returning upstairs to play backgammon with Ed while I watched Port Charles. Ed however, fell asleep on the love seat so I didn't have to play <g>. Instead I got my frozen raspberry pina colada on a stick out of the freezer and ate it while watching TV and chatting with Larry & Jill.

The teens returned at 1pm and everyone but me had cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches for lunch. I ate a few Pringles to wash down my Popsicle, lol - but really did not want more than that. Larry joked that since he was in such posh surroundings they had to dine on smoked salmon, lol! I headed out to the top deck facing the beach, and laid on one of the lounge chairs. This was so nice - a private sunbathing area, and since I was just above the trees there was slightly more breeze to keep things cooler! I was loving it - this beach cottage has spoiled me, and now I'll have to figure out a time to do it again!

The guys went to meet the kayaking excursion, Jill finished her laundry, and I laid on my chair until about 2:15. Work called a couple of times - Larry asked if it bothered me to be called while on vacation, but it really doesn't. Usually it's just a simple decision that's needed, and I'd much rather do that & get on with my vacation than be denied the time off. I showered and caught up with my email while watching General Hospital, then went upstairs to see what Jill was up to. We were chatting near the front door when we heard footsteps on the porch. It was too early for the guys to be back, and I saw feet in sandals that I did not recognize, so I opened the door as a guy was trying to peer in the window! He was surprised, lol - and started to stammer to explain what they were doing. I said "oh, you just wanted to peek in our windows". They asked what this was and I told them it's a beach cottage - our beach cottage. It was funny to have "busted" them - they gathered their kids and continued on their way. Maybe they thought it was some public building or something <g>.

Jill went over to the store to look for a postcard, and I packed up some of my stuff. This has been such a short stay - I think 3 nights would be better in a beach cottage, but I really didn't want to take the time away from Comedy Warehouse. When Jill got back we each got a glass of wine and sat out on the top deck in the shade to read, but ended up talking the entire time. It was humid but comfortable out there, and the view of the water was really pretty. Before we knew it the guys were back, hungry but talking excitedly about their kayaking trip.

As soon as they got started, they were within 20 feet of some dolphin playing - which was very cool. Larry got bitten on his face by a bug and was sure he would end up in some allergic shock since he was out in the "wilderness", lol! In reality he was fine - I couldn't even see a mark <g>. They kayaked to an island and then got to go swimming - the guide let Chris take his kayak back out to tip it, which Chris enjoyed. They had a good time.

We quickly threw dinner together - salad with strawberries, salmon pasta, & bread. Jill made my pasta without the salmon <g>. Everything tasted great, and we heard all about the kayaking adventures. For dessert we had the rest of the strawberries and profiteroles, which are mini cream puffs with chocolate on top - absolutely delicious! I'd never heard of or seen them, and they're sold at Publix. We cleaned up the dishes and headed for the baseball game.

We found the baseball stadium without any trouble, and was surprised to find they don't charge for parking. This is the Spring training home of the Oakland Dodgers, and the minor league class high-A Vero Beach Dodgers. Our team is the Ft Myers Miracle, an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Season ticket holders get in to any away games for free, and since I buy 2 seats I knew that at least 2 of our tickets for this game would be free. I'd given our general manager our info and he'd called his counterpart over here to get the tickets put aside. When we got to the box office and I gave the lady my name she smiled and handed me an envelope with 8 tickets - no charge for any of them! We entered the stadium and a man tossed a baseball up towards Ed - poor kid didn't understand that this was a baseball and he could keep it as a souvenir, lol! American kids are clamoring to get one, and the kid from Scotland gets one before he even gets to the seats!

The stadium is a lot older and smaller than ours - not nearly as nice, but it has a certain charm. There are no dugouts - the players sit on the field in front of the people in the first row. We went down and sat in that first row, and chatted with the team's trainer for part of the game. When he saw me he said "You should have told me you were coming - I hope you didn't pay for your tickets", but I told him the general manager had taken care of them. Larry was quite impressed going to a baseball game and getting to talk with the trainer (who's also named Larry) - at his only other baseball game there wasn't any interaction like this. We had the sun in our eyes at first, and since Chris was wearing a Miracle sun visor the trainer joked that he wanted it. Chris gave it to him to wear, and got another one out of the car. The team's got 3 more games here, so the trainer will return it to him back in Ft Myers. Chris knows some of the players (I watch them play, but don't know them) and he got one of the pitchers to give a baseball to Greg. We absolutely killed Vero Beach - the score was 13-5. We are in first place by a wide lead - hope we hold onto it! It was a nice night for baseball, and I think everyone had a good time.

Returning to the resort we found all of the underground parking spaces taken, so we had to park outside rather far from the beach cottage. I hope someone moves in the morning, as I will have the laptop to put in the car but it needs to be under cover! The boys headed off somewhere, the adults emptied the dishwasher and agreed on our plans for tomorrow. Jill & I finished the bottle of wine, and I was in bed by 11 to get online and drink my wine.

It was a wonderful day - very relaxing! The weather is still cooperating, and this beach cottage really adds to the trip! Cooking dinner "at home" was fun - you can't exactly do that at the All Stars <g>!

DAY 5 TUESDAY JULY 16, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons

Plan: Vero pool & beach, drive to OKWR, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I woke up around 7 - it's nice being the only one up early! I staked out some chairs in my usual spot (from prior years) this morning since I was skeptical over whether Larry & Jill would actually be using any chairs I got. I did get one of the tables with a umbrella, thinking they might sit in the shade, and this would be a good place to have lunch before we head to OKWR. I took a bag of stuff out to the car, hoping a space had freed up under cover, but nobody had left yet. If I have to, I guess I can bring the laptop to the table & keep it under the umbrella - I don't want to have to bother going into the lobby to drop it off and retrieve it from bell services.

Back in the cottage I heated up water for my cappuccino and bowl of cereal. It was too humid to eat outside, so I took it back to my bedroom to update the report and read downloaded messages while I ate. I went and laid by the pool around 9am - it was pretty hot! I came back to the cottage to check on the others around 10:30 - they were up but didn't look like they'd be doing any swimming or sunbathing <g>. Chris took our big suitcase out to the car and I shut down the laptop.

I think we all hated to leave the cottage, but we had to. Back at the pool Jill sat in the shade and Larry stayed in the air conditioned lobby! I was dying out in the sun - it was far too hot to be comfortable, and even getting under the shower repeatedly did nothing to cool me off. I ended up giving up and sitting in the shade to cool off, chatting with Jill. Around 12:30 we got lunch - Chris wasn't hungry so we just shared the kids' chicken finger meal. We left Vero just after 1pm, and I noticed everyone giving one last glance at the beach cottage as we walked silently by.

The drive to OKWR was an easy 2 hours, and check in went smoothly. Unfortunately it was another 30 minutes or so before the villa was ready, but we got all of our requests met. Larry took a nap in Papa's Den and the rest of us went to Community Hall to wait. We're in building 45, right on the Trumbo Canal, on the top floor. Larry commented that this villa wasn't much smaller or less nice than the beach cottage, so I'm glad he didn't feel like we were moving down too far, lol! We got moved in and talked briefly about plans for the next day and this evening.

Larry took Ed to get a caricature done, the teens went to DisneyQuest, Jill relaxed in the villa, and I took a much-needed shower and got online for a while. The person I'd left in charge at work called as we were pulling in to OKWR today, to advise that a conference call had been set up for tomorrow - wondering if I wanted her to attend. It's at 3:30, which is a good time to be watching General Hospital <G> so I'll call in but had her phone in as well - to get exposed to the stuff being discussed. I didn't see the email on it, so I called her back & had her forward it to me here. Around 6 Jill & I headed to AKL to get soup from Mara for dinner. I drove - no way would I use Disney transportation to go from resort to resort!

Soup was delicious - the soup of the day was chicken corn chowder, so I got the tomato bisque. Jill got the chowder, and loved it. We also bought some of those delicious yogurt, granola & fruit cups for breakfast in the morning, and I bought a brownie. We shared part of the brownie after our soup - it wasn't quite as good as last month, but anything that chocolaty is pretty darn good <g>!

We dropped the food off at OKWR and drove over to Downtown Disney, parking at Pleasure Island. After getting our wrist bands we wandered around a little bit - escaping to air conditioning when possible. We entered PI again and talked to Joe for a while at the Comedy Warehouse, then Jill went to look for Larry while I counted the people in line. Larry showed up suddenly, and Jill returned just as we were getting into line. We were seated in long row, next to (regular) David, so I got to chat with him a bit as well.

The 8:15 cast was Mary, Jen B, Jake, Joy & Philip. They did Fill in the Blank with 2 audience volunteers, and Larry was one of them! He was the star of the show, of course, and at one point the actors started copying his accent. Joy & Jake were the actors, making doilies. It was pretty funny. They did Forgotten Songs, which weren't as funny as they sometimes are. Philip & Joy were recent honeymooners singing Sex On The Beach, and Jake did a rap song called Scooby Doo & Speedos. Mary & Jen were 2 drunk daycare workers singing a lullaby called Your Bunny is Fuzzy. Next they did Letters to the Editors, where each of 3 actors is writing to a certain magazine and one has to pick up where the previous one left off, but in the style of their own magazine. The topic was a bottle of wine, Jen was writing to Victoria's Secret (which is NOT a magazine, lol), Philip to Martha Stewart Living, and Mary to Time. They did a good job with it - overall it was a good show. We left immediately, and chatted with Carol Stein's parents - her dad loves telling jokes and Larry told him one. Carol's mom was thrilled that now he finally has a new joke, lol!

We were seated in long row again, and the 9:15 cast was Krista, Philip, Jake, Joy & Mary. They started with a poem called Donald Duck Sings Opera, which was cute. Next they did a 1-act play starring Philip & Krista as a couple working at Domino's Pizza on the moon. Mary came in as Madame Cleo and let Krista know that Philip was cheating on her. The "other woman" turned out to be Joy as Madonna - wearing an ugly white bra outside her blouse, lol! They also did Cliché, where they tortured Mary with the phrase "Sometimes when you're having fun you lose an eye". She did really well guessing many of the words, and it moved along pretty quickly. They called for an embarrassing story to close the show, and not a single person volunteered. Jake asked again, but still nothing, so I raised my hand and gave an old moment I'd used a few years ago about putting my foot on a chair with wheels to tie my shoe (the chair moved, I fell).

After the show Mary came over to chat - I'm glad she's back in town during the rest of my stay. We had a nice visit, and she got to meet Larry & Jill. I'd decided to make it an early night, so when she asked if I'd be at the next show I told her I was done for tonight. We went outside and Larry & Jill went to kill time in the Adventurer's Club until it was time to meet the boys at DisneyQuest when it closed at 11. They pick their kids up from there - I make mine take the damn Disney bus (but he's free to leave whenever he feels like it instead of waiting for me to get there, so I guess it's not necessarily a bad thing <g>).

I left PI and drove back to OKWR - being reminded that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE staying at OKWR and having that short drive home after being at the Comedy Warehouse! It is the most convenient resort for me, and I'm glad it's gorgeous as well! I finished up the report before the others got home, and got online to catch up on mail & other postings.

Today was another great day, except for the oppressively HOT weather. With the humidity, the heat index has been over 100 degrees, and that's expected to continue a while longer. It really feels nasty outside, and even now at 11pm it's way too hot & humid. We're heading to MGM in the morning, but we'll see how long I can stand it in the hot weather!

DAY 6 WEDNESDAY JULY 17, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons

Plan: Some park, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I'd set the alarm for 7:15, although realistically that was a little earlier than I really needed to get up. It's so peaceful early in the morning, so I guess it's worth it <g>. I got Chris up & into the shower by 7:45, which is pretty good! I knew the others would be getting up soon, and I can't stand having someone laying in a sleep sofa while people are trying to use the dining/living room & kitchen - it just looks so tacky. So, Chris will have to wait until Sunday to sleep in - which won't kill him.

I heated water for my cappuccino - it's nice having the tea kettle for my use so the others can use the coffee maker to make their coffee. Breakfast was the yogurt/granola thing from Animal Kingdom Lodge for everyone except Chris, who had cereal. The yogurt/granola does not keep well overnight, because the granola gets soggy. In the future I'll only buy it when I'm able to eat it right away. I had my breakfast Darla-style, meaning sitting out on the porch (no chicken fingers). It was quite comfortable out there this early, but surely will be miserable later in the day.

The Wilmots left the villa to drive to MGM shortly before 8:45. They will be riding Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster so there's no point in our going with them only to stand around waiting for an hour. Chris and I took the bus over shortly after 9am. With it being so hot I'd rather wait for a bus than have to get in a broiling hot car! The trip to MGM ended up being a nightmare, though. Epcot is closed all day due to a fire in an electrical box there yesterday, which means all the guests who would have headed there are diverting to the other parks. The bus was standing room only before we got to the last stop, and being trapped on a crowded bus with screeching screaming young children is definitely how I like to start my day! Chris said the lady sitting next to him stunk - not sure what she smelled like, and didn't want to know <g>. We sat in traffic at the light to MGM for a long while - things were so backed up when we had the green arrow only a few vehicles made it through. It was quite frustrating, and in the future I'll suffer with the hot but quiet car! Of course, this will be my last park experience - I have zero desire to bother with the theme parks when they're this busy, if we weren't meeting Larry's family inside I would have just stayed on the bus and gone to a water park instead.

Once off the bus the lines at security were horrendous. I probably say this every time, but this whole bag check thing is one of the stupidest things Disney has done, in my opinion. Once we got through there, the lines for the turnstiles extended out beyond the ticket booths! Fortunately we eventually spotted one that most people were missing, and moved ahead - with a few observant people following and telling us thanks for noticing the short line. We met Larry's family shortly after 10 - it only took about 50-55 minutes to make the trip from OKWR (grrrr)!

The first decision is what to do. Larry enjoys Millionaire attraction and since the first show was at 10:50 we decided to do that. The new ABC attraction's first show was not until 12:30 and I knew there was no chance I'd still be in the park at that late hour, plus nobody was interested in what sounds suspiciously like a commercial for ABC TV shows. We headed to Millionaire, and they were not issuing fast passes for the 1st show, but we knew standby wouldn't be a problem. Larry took Ed to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground for a while, and the rest of us sat at a shady table to chat while sweating. We returned about 5 minutes before they let us in to Millionaire, and then waited while the theater eventually filled almost to capacity for the show.

We watched the preshow (they would prefer to skip this part, but I don't think it's any more tedious than the game itself <g>) and got started. A 12 year old boy did really well, answering questions I never would have thought a kid would know. At one point most of us were in the top 10, and Larry was in the #1 spot. The kid bombed out before reaching 32,000 and another guy got into the hot seat. He bombed out at the 300 point question, and the #1 person at that point was Larry! He went down to the hot seat for his 3rd time, lol! He almost blew it on the 200 point question - where was Abe Lincoln born - at first Larry said Cedars-Sinai Hospital, lol! The audience reacted immediately in disbelief, so he changed his answer to "log cabin" and explained that he thought Cedars-Sinai was a log cabin, lol! He did well, but the 16,000 point question was which Norman Mailer novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980. He did the phone a stranger, and got some (don't be offended - it was a Bubba-type) guy from Tennessee. The audience roared with laughter when he said where he was from, and when Larry read him the question he simply said "you're in big trouble" and admitted he had no idea at all. It's good he was honest, though, instead of guessing. Larry opted to quit there, getting the cap and pins up to the 8,000 point level. It was fun - and the streak continues - our group of Larry's family, Tom's family & my family have never been to this attraction when at least 1 of us didn't make it to the hot seat. We decided Disney needs to rename the attraction to Larry Wants to be a Millionaire <g>.

At this point it was pretty hot, but not unbearable yet. The park was crowded, but not as bad as I've seen it at other times. Larry decided to keep Ed in the park to do some attractions with him, since the teens wanted to rent water mouse boats and Ed was too young. Jill went with the teens over to a MK resort so they could rent their boats for an hour, and I headed back to OKWR. I'd thought about going to the SouthPoint pool for a while, but it was so hot outside and so cool & comfortable inside it was more tempting to stay in for today rather than going out & getting all sweaty. I have a conference call at 3:30, and we're having a late lunch at 4:30, so I wouldn't have had much time at the pool anyway. So, I finished up my yogurt & granola thing from this morning and got online while watching Port Charles & doing laundry. It was fairly comfortable on the porch, so I sat out there in the shade to do some reading and watch the boats sail by. It was very relaxing!

Ed & Larry came back and went to their room for a nap. Jill returned while I was on my conference call. At 4:45 the 3 adults drove down to the Hospitality House for dinner at Olivia's. We were there in time for the lunch menu, and almost had the restaurant to ourselves. Jill got the buttermilk chicken meal, Larry got the chicken sandwich with onion rings, and I got the fresh mozzarella salad. Everything was excellent, except for the slow service. For dessert we shared the apple pie with caramel sauce, which was also excellent. The check before the 20% DDE discount was around $37, which we felt was very reasonable for the quality of food received.

After eating we got a couple of movies for Ed, then stopped in the shop before returning to the villa. Ed watched the beginning of one movie, but decided to join us at Comedy Warehouse instead of staying in tonight. Chris & Greg were off somewhere - at last sight they were playing basketball or tennis at OKWR. DisneyQuest is closed for a private party tonight, so the teens will find something else to do, with instructions to be home around 11:30ish.

I updated the report briefly and got ready for Comedy Warehouse. I left the Wilmots watching their movie and went to wander around Downtown Disney until it was time for us to meet at Comedy Warehouse. It looked like a storm was moving in, with dark clouds and a strong wind. I browsed through the Marketplace but didn't buy anything, and was headed part way down the West Side when it started to rain lightly. I decided to just enter PI then, and chatted with Joe & Darby outside CW until the rain got heavier. They were directing people to the Adventurer's Club to wait until 8:15, and I headed over there as well. Close to 8pm I saw Larry come in, and called his name to get his attention. Jill & Ed were with him as well, so they came over to where I was sitting on the top level. The butler character came by and kissed our hands (just Jill & me - not Larry's, lol) and I noticed the nerdy character now wears a scout-type costume rather than the plaid jacket (unless there's a new nerdy character). Graham was playing the nerd tonight - and he had the suitcase containing the cow, which is why I think there's still just 1 nerd.

Soon we saw people leaving the club in droves, so I dashed outside while Jill gathered up the others so we could get in line at the Warehouse. The rain had stopped, and the line was massive - we got in at number 59, which is higher than I like, but that's life! While we were in line Laurie from RADP stopped by to introduce herself - I knew she was going to be there & it was nice to put a face with the screen name! Inside, we were seated in the 2nd row, across from tech row. The 8:15 cast was Mary, Krista, Greg, Jen & Christine - a great cast, but sadly the show was just ok. I can't pinpoint any 1 reason, and nothing was truly bad, but nothing was really great either.

They opened with a poem called "My Cat Got Run Over by a Car", and then did a 1-act play with Jen & Greg as a brother & sister caught in bad traffic in NY while on their way to see Barney on Broadway. Mary popped in as a homeless person washing their windshield, and they recognized her as their mom. Next they did Forgotten Songs, and these were pretty good. Chris was Rosemary Cartona, singing One Day Too Many since it was her 100th birthday - she died at the end. Jen & Mary came out as hippies Sapphire & Ruby to sing a folk song called One Penny Less. This one was kind of bizarre - about a guy who's wife named Penny died during childbirth, so now he was "one penny less". Clever - but not particularly upbeat <g>. Greg & Krista came out as Steve & Needy, a lounge act playing at the Catskills Ramada Inn (think Steve & Edie Gorme), and sang Kiss My Feet. They also did the scene changing game, where each actor has a word to start a scene. Mary had wide screen TV, Krista had breast augmentation surgery, Chris had belly button ring, and Jen had socks.

We left and got back in line for the next show, knowing we'd be even further back. We ended up 2 rows behind tech row, and although it was too far to take any pictures, we had a decent view. The 9:15 cast was Greg, Matt, Jen, Mary, & Krista (the cast can't get much better than this group!) and this show ended up being MUCH better than the first! They did Fill In The Blanks with 2 audience volunteers, with Mary & Matt as a couple working at a Las Vegas wedding chapel. Matt was also an Elvis impersonator turned minister, and Mary had sold most of their children to the dog pound to get money to pay the rent since the wedding business was slow. Greg & Jen came in as a couple getting married, and then left as Jen went into labor.

Most of the rest of the show was Up Your Alley, hosted by Mary's Yolanda character. Each actor has certain characters they've created, and they use them repeatedly (like Jake's Decklin, Jen's Alexis Quebec, etc). The subject tonight was surfing, and it was really funny, without any of the questions being dirty or suggestive. Greg was an extremely nerdy surfer named Ron Jon Van Buren. Krista was Dr. Sandra Kellstram, who's doing research studies on surfers. Jen was Peyote - a drugged out severely injured surfer who now just surfs the internet. They all did a good job with the audience questions, and the audience did a good job participating & asking decent questions, and the show seemed to fly by.

As we came down, Mary was sitting on the stage & said hi so I went over to her. Greg & Jen came out and sat down as well and we all chatted for quite a while. I was glad to see Greg back finally. Mary was especially taken with Ed - he is a cute kid, and when we left she gave him a Comedy Warehouse button. He'd been talking about seeing Mary, and I'd assumed he'd been here before but this was his first visit - as far as I know he's only seen Mary in the Millionaire thing, but he must have liked her. Jill commented afterwards how nice they all are - which is true. We said our goodnights and headed out the door. Tomorrow Jen won't be working, but Mary will be in the first 3 shows so that's something to look forward to.

Larry, Jill & Ed stopped at the Adventurer's Club and I returned to OKWR. Greg & Chris had spent the evening swimming, and then came back to watch TV & eat cereal (we really didn't have any snack food here). Chris & I had some cappuccino, and I settled in to finish & post the report for today.

It was a great day - we saw Larry reach the hot seat yet again, I ate at Olivia's, and spent time at the Comedy Warehouse with friends. The afternoon was relaxing, even though it's boring to anyone else - and the conference call ended up being something I was glad I called in for (because I had a lot to say, lol). The only thing that concerns me is it feels like the days are passing too quickly!

DAY 7 THURSDAY JULY 18, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons
  • Leesa, friend - Comedy Warehouse regular

Plan: Water park or theme park, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I'd set the alarm for 7:15 again, but woke up shortly after 6 and just decided to get up since I enjoy the quiet early mornings here. It gave me the chance to start packing a few things, but I'll do the rest this afternoon. Breakfast was cereal and cappuccino, and when Chris got up he finished his cereal (less crap to take home <g>). I returned the teens' pool towels and picked up fresh ones for us to use at Typhoon Lagoon. Larry was up when I returned, and we were on the road to Typhoon Lagoon around 8:30.

We dropped off the videos on the way, parked in the shade, and entered the park just before rope drop at 9am. It wasn't terribly crowded in the beginning, and we got a great spot in the sun right up against the wave pool. The guys did Shark Reef (snorkeling with the sharks) while Jill & I watched, and then decided to do it again. They were headed to do some slides and raft rides next, so I left them and floated around the lazy river and then stayed at the edge of the wave pool for a while before returning to my chair for some reading. It was a relaxing morning, and very warm but not unbearably hot at this point. When the waves changed to the bobbing ones I went back into the wave lagoon - I prefer the smaller waves to the huge ones. Jill & Ed arrived while I was in the water, and she caught me up on which slides they had ridden.

I went back to the chairs and Larry came by to get his clothes to change into, as he'd finished with the water park. I took Chris for lunch and we shared a pretty mediocre cheeseburger & fries combo meal for $7.74. We headed back to the chairs for a while, and then I went & sat in a beach chair at the edge of the wave pool. The Wilmots had their lunch, and then Greg returned to get Chris and the others left Typhoon Lagoon. I stayed a bit longer, and then left as well. The teens were going to stay as long as they wanted, then return to OKWR to change and go to DisneyQuest for the rest of the day. I returned to OKWR and dropped the used pool towels off at the pool before returning to the villa. Larry, Jill & Ed were on their way out to DisneyQuest but we agreed to meet at Comedy Warehouse around 7 if we don't see each other before then.

I began a period of domestic bliss - doing laundry, baking a chocolate chunk Snackin' Cake, and taking a nice long shower. The teens returned shortly after 2pm and immediately cut large pieces of the still-warm chocolate cake. I'd gotten word that an upcoming meeting (business trip) had a date change, so I called to move my hotel reservation to the new dates and then called DVC member services to hopefully book a studio the Sunday night before that meeting. A college friend is attending a conference here July 24-26 and we'll spend that weekend together (26th & 27th), and since WDW is on the way (sort of) to my business trip that starts on Monday afternoon, I might as well just spend the night in OKWR on the 28th. Luckily the studio was available, so I booked it! So, now I go home to go back to work for 5 days and return that evening for 3 nights at Comedy Warehouse before starting 3 consecutive weeks of business trips (just 3 days each week).

Leesa called & we made plans to meet at 5pm. Chris & Greg left for DisneyQuest and I watched General Hospital & finished packing what could be done in advance. I brought a few things out to the car when I left to pick up Leesa at 5. She was waiting at PI, and we drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge. She & Nancy had gone to Subway on their way in, so Leesa wasn't going to be hungry for dinner, so that means soup at Mara for me rather than Wolfgang Puck's Express food! At AKL we went out to one of the savannahs for Leesa to take pictures of the animals. It was very humid and too hot to stay out long, even after a swarm of young men from Zimbabwe came over to talk to us. We could see a storm was building, so we hurried out to the savannah by the pool and took pictures of those animals as well, before the cm came to tell us the area was closed due to the approaching storm.

We got inside Mara before it began to rain, and checked on the soup of the day - potato bacon. I tried it, and decided to order it (it's not one of my favorites, but I figured it's not available very often). We sat at the window and watched the storm - it poured for a good half hour or hour before finally letting up. After I'd been waiting about 10 minutes for my soup I went up to find out what the heck was taking so long (it was deserted) and found out the cashier hit the wrong key and sent the message that I'd already gotten my soup. They'd actually prepared one, then didn't deliver it when they saw what she entered. A cm went and got me a fresh serving, rather than the one that was cooling.

We left around 6:30 and were surprised to see it had not rained at all in the Downtown Disney area! We parked at PI and met up with Larry & the others (everyone) outside the Missing Link. We stood at Comedy Warehouse until it was time to get into line, and Joe gave me a backdoor pass for all 7 of us for the 2nd show - normally the limit is 6, but he knew it wouldn't be full & was just being nice. We were seated in the 2nd row, filling the entire row!

The 7:20 cast was Matt, Chris, Krista, Mary & Greg. They did Fill In The Blanks with 2 audience volunteers, but both were kids/teens. One sat there and didn't even start saying anything until near the end, and the other had nothing to say quite a few times. It can be nerve-wracking to be up there, but it's horrible when someone gets up there only to sit like a lump and not help with the show. However, Greg & Krista were the actors and they did an amazing job of making a really funny scene out of poor (logical answers) or non-existent suggestions. I don't think I've ever seen a pair of actors do so much with so little! Next they did Up Your Alley, about how to win in a divorce. Greg was host Juan Ocho Nuevo Diaz, with a wild black wig and skinny black mustache & goatee. Christine was a never-married divorce attorney named Claudia Coldheart, Mary was Jennifer Lopez (with stuffing in the seat of her pants to create a huge butt), and Matt was Mr. Nakamoto - a Japanese divorce expert. They all did a great job, and it was a funny show. We talked briefly with some of the cast, but basically headed outside. Greg was rushing off to get dinner and would see us after the next show.

We used the backdoor pass for the entire party and sat in long row. The 8:15 cast was Krista, Mary, Jake, Greg & Matt - wow, an excellent group! They started with the name rhyming game, which Krista won. She then directed a Freeze Dried Musical (the boring parts are left out) about Mary & Greg, save the whale activists. They meet Matt & Jake, who are Japanese restaurant owners who kill whales to use in their chicken soup. It was kind of bizarre, but hysterical. They also did Letters to the Editor, writing about badminton rackets. Greg was Mrs. Laura Bush writing to Christianity Today, Mary was Billie Jean King writing to Good Housekeeping, and Jake was un-named (other than to refer to himself as the one working with these 2 idiots) and writing to Knitting Journal. Overall it was a great show - very funny!

The boys were headed to DisneyQuest at this point, and I believe Larry & Jill went to the Adventurer's Club. Leesa & I were talking to Mary, and Greg joined us. Mary went to get ready for the next show and Greg went outside to chat longer since he was off the next show - there was no sign of Larry or Jill when we got out there so I'm assuming they were at Adv Club.

Before we knew it, we were back inside! The 9:15 cast was Jake, Mary, Brian, Matt & Chris. They did Emotions, with Mary & Chris as cryogenics workers freezing a body. They did Cliché - torturing Jake until he guessed "She fell for me but I let her lay". He first had to guess the specific location, which was the most difficult one I'd ever seen - the world's largest hand dug well, in Greensberg Kansas. He had to get each word of that! Jake is pretty quick at figuring this stuff out, and did well tonight. As always, the clues were very funny & everyone did an excellent job. Mary was talking to someone as we left but she waved & shouted good-byes, since she's done for tonight. Nancy came out between shows and we talked to her. I'd neglected to email her to make our plans for tomorrow, so we figured all that out. It's a shame she & Clinta missed Vero this time, but I'm glad to have Friday to spend with her (when she doesn't have to work). We'll have a nice relaxing Animal Kingdom Lodge day - laying by the pool, enjoying the lounge, and will squeeze in a couple of CW shows between the evening hors d'oeuvres/wine and the desserts/cordials. She'll be a registered guest in my room (even though she's not sleeping there), so we're perfectly legal.

It was time for our final show, so we went back inside. The 10:30 cast was Chris, Krista, Greg, Brian & Jake. Pretty much the whole show was Conducted Story. Chris was the conductor, and the story was titled "Jupiter is a Planet". It was a cute story, 1st grader at a Montessori school with a demanding teacher and some alien influences. Jake died first - by cottage cheese. He went to a Weight Watcher's place run by Greg to lose 50 pounds in 3 days, lol. Krista was a client who'd become psychotic from the program, and skinny Brian was touted as the star pupil for going from 600 pounds to now being underweight. Christine was being punished for having eaten a cracker. Jake died when the cottage cheese he was eating was the container used for "aversion therapy", which contained ground glass - not very nice, but it was a good death. Brian died next, and had a volunteer doing sound effects (just using his mouth), which I'd never seen before. It was very funny, and the guy making the effects was pretty talented at that sort of thing <g>. Brian died at the Alamo, after stuffing a bunch of corks into a dog's butt and then squeezing the dog so the corks shot out like a machine gun and killed him, lol! That left Krista & Greg, and Greg eventually committed suicide to get out of the story. He died a soap opera death by a bowling ball. Krista then wrapped up the story. It was another great show - all of them tonight have been good.

Greg stopped by on his way to the meeting they hold at this time each night, checking to see if I still had some nights left to my trip. I told him I hoped to be at the first 2 shows tomorrow - he didn't want to leave without saying goodbye if this was the end of my trip, which was really nice. Nancy was waiting outside for Leesa, so they headed out to her car and I drove back to OKWR. Everyone was home, but in bed. Chris & Greg had left me a piece of the chocolate chunk cake, which I ate with a cup of cappuccino while working on the report. That was nice of them to leave me a piece!

Comedy Warehouse fans - those of you who remember Paul Vogt should know he's got a TV show premiering on August 1st at 9:30 pm on NBC. Paul's the heavy-set guy with dark hair, with the twin brother Peter. He's been gone from Comedy Warehouse for a couple of years now, but comes back once in a while as a sub, and is extraordinarily funny! The show is called The Rerun Show, and the cast is pretty much actors who are experienced in improv. They take an actual script from a classic TV show (Different Strokes, Facts of Life, etc) and perform the script with a new twist on the original version! Paul plays the Mrs. Garrett character (played by Charlotte Rae originally) in the Facts of Life episode, and I'm sure he'll be hysterically funny. Hopefully the rest of the cast is as talented as he is!

Today was another great day. I enjoyed Typhoon Lagoon, the Comedy Warehouse shows were all really good, and it was a nice relaxing Thursday. It's a shame to be moving from our OKWR villa in the morning, but we are looking forward to the concierge lounge at AKL - that cappuccino machine is calling my name, lol!

DAY 8 FRIDAY JULY 19, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons
  • Nancy, friend - works at Pleasure Island

Plan: Early check in to AKL concierge, water park or theme park, concierge lounge

Actual: Today I was tired - staying for the 4th show and then getting online back at the resort cuts into the sleeping time a lot! I was up before 7, had some cappuccino and basically puttered around until the others got up. We were on the way to Animal Kingdom Lodge before 8:30! There wasn't an express checkout on the door, and a call to the front desk had them surprised it wasn't there. They offered to either mail the bill to me or I could stop by & pick it up - I told her to just mail it.

We were met at AKL and taken directly to our rooms - we're on the 5th floor overlooking the Arusha Rock savannah. The bell services person went through the entire spiel, despite our letting her know we'd all stayed there before (Larry's family for 2 full weeks). Once we were free, we went up to the concierge lounge on the 6th floor and had some breakfast. We got checked in up there as well. Breakfast isn't really anything special in my opinion - cereal, pastries, fruit, yogurt, juices, muffins & beverages. The cappuccino machine is nice, and the oatmeal is very popular (just not to me) but I like the evening food offerings much better!

We returned to the rooms briefly and then headed off in different directions. Greg & Chris went swimming, and I headed to a lounge chair by the pool. Larry, Jill & Ed went to Epcot. Soon Nancy arrived, and we laid on our lounge chairs for as long as we could stand it before going into the pool to cool off. Greg & Chris were playing ball in the pool and pretty much spent the entire day there. Nancy & I alternated between standing in the pool, laying on our chairs, and eating in the lounge! We went up around 11:30 to check out the snacks - this is the least impressive period of the day. They had cheddar gold fish, animal crackers, gummi bears, trail mix, mixed nuts, tortilla chips, cinnamon crisps, pumpkin seeds & fruit. The popular drink African Smooth was out, and Nancy really liked that.

By 2:30 or so we couldn't stand the heat anymore so we went up to the room and sat on the shady balcony until it was time to get afternoon tea in the lounge at 3pm. This was much nicer - some snacks remained from earlier but there were also scones, mini versions of the brownie I love, tea cookies, and mini rice krispie treats. We each got a plate of food and something to drink, and took it back to the room so we could watch General Hospital. It was delicious (especially those brownies) - but 5pm (our next feeding) is coming too soon, lol! We joked this was the hogs tour of AKL - our day is revolving around the food & beverage.

One really nice thing happened - they are not going to make us change rooms tomorrow <g>! We're booked in a standard view room but they'll let us keep the savannah view but just give up the concierge privileges at midnight, so that makes me very happy to not have to move and risk being "homeless" for a day.

Nancy & I each showered and got dressed for the evening, being sure to be ready prior to the 5pm food. We plan to enjoy the food & wine until the last minute before we have to rush to the Comedy Warehouse for 2 shows and then rush back for the end of the desserts & cordials here in the lounge. It'll be hectic, but hopefully it'll be worth it! The animals were out by late afternoon - we saw zebra, ankole cattle and some others.

Larry, Jill & Ed returned, and since we had the doors between the rooms opened they all came over to our side. The 7 of us were standing in my outer bathroom area talking as I dried my hair, lol. Jill & I are each wearing the same AKL tee shirt - a twins thing going on here <g>.

At 5 Nancy, Chris & I went up to the concierge lounge for what would be our dinner. The Wilmots met us up there a little later. Tonight the food included large shrimp on a skewer, pork pots (polenta bread topped with a delicious sauce and some pork), vegetarian balls, tamarind chicken flatbread, beef hummus wraps, cheeses, spreads, chicken fingers, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, wine, and beverages. The seafood lovers seemed to really like the shrimp, particularly with the tomato chutney. Nancy & I both liked the Pork Pots best, and the cm said this was the first time they'd ever seen them up there. We all had plenty to eat, and were full when we left. While we were there a couple of the cm's who worked there during my January stay saw me and welcomed me back - they didn't remember my name, but remembered us being there. They're so nice - they make it really hard to not keep coming back here <g>.

At 6:30 we left for Comedy Warehouse - the whole group was going to the first 2 shows, plus we would probably meet Leesa and a friend there as well. We counted the people in line and our party of 9 ended up in long row (it's called long row because it's the longest row - 10 seats). The 7:20 cast was Brian, Joy, Todd, Matt, & Philip. They started with the name rhyme, which is always fun. Matt was the winner, and he then invited Ed up on stage to do the sound effects for the next scene. Matt & Brian created a pretty cute scene about an iron, and Ed did a good job with the effects - earning his 2nd Comedy Warehouse button!

They played Schmeopardy next, with Joy as host Alexis Quebec. Brian was a social studies teacher named Ethel Stiffenbacker, & Matt was a horrible stand-up comic named John Hansen who works at Uncle Yuck Yuck's Laugh Hole in Des Moines. Philip was Ivan ToSurfaceRightNow, a naval officer from the former Soviet navy. The game had some funny moments, but also many moments where the laughs did not come. The final improv was an embarrassing story that really wasn't much of a story but this was the only person who raised their hands. I've never seen this happen before, but the whole song just lacked energy - it was awful. Matt's closing remark was funny, but that was the only bright spot in this particular game. It was a rather disappointing show, and fortunately that rarely happens!

We got right back in line for the next one - all except for Leesa & her friend. Our party of 7 was seated in the row across from tech row (7 seats there), and the cast was Matt, Brian, Greg, Joy & Philip. They did Fill In The Blanks with 2 audience volunteers, and picked 2 adults who did a good job of coming up with non-logical suggestions. Brian & Joy were a psychiatrist and her patient, who ended up in a relationship - it was very funny, thanks in part to the off-the-wall suggestions from the volunteers. Next Matt, Greg & Brian created a poem titled The Jerk is in the Sewer, and that was also funny.

They did an excellent job on Letters to the Editor, with a subject of golf clubs. Greg wrote to Soap Opera Digest, Matt to Reptile Magazine, and Philip to Army Times. Philip groaned when he got the army one, but he ended up being the funniest one - getting somewhat crazy! They closed with another embarrassing, and once again nobody raised their hand, so eventually I did. I told the story of walking off the stage at a play, and of course the cast knew which play I was talking about. I'd gone to see a play (Fairy Tales) with a large group of friends, and 1 of the actors (Layden) brought me & Sheila up on stage to play the Partridge Family during the show. When our part was over he walked us back towards the steps. There was tape at the edge of the stage, and since it was dark & the lights were in our eyes I assumed the tape indicated where the stairs were, but the stairs were narrower than the strip of tape. I stepped down to what I thought was a step, and ended up going straight down to the floor (still standing). Carol Stein was listening & watching, and when Matt was asking me more questions she mouthed the words "Fairy Tales??" at me, and laughed when I nodded "yes". Matt brought up an interesting point that I hadn't thought of - he pointed out that an actor brought us up on stage and then walked us over towards the edge of the stage - so it was obviously his fault that I walked off the stage <g>. They did a great job with the song! Philip came out screaming that the gays were going to hell, and later Brian came out and fell off the stage - as he got back up he commented that he was just in hell <g>. It was really funny, and it's great to end a show on a fun note. The entire show was great - so much better than the first one!

We were headed back to the Lodge, but Greg was waiting - he was out of town the night I was at Fairy Tales, and hadn't heard about my stepping off the stage. Somehow I'd neglected to mention it any time we were talking or emailing <g>. Nancy & I talked to him for a bit, and then we all left PI. Nancy, Chris & I beat the Wilmot's back by about 15 minutes, thanks to a short cut that eliminated most of the traffic lights. The desserts were disappointing - 1 rum ball, 1 chocolate cake thing, and 2 cookies. Chris asked the cm if there were more desserts, and she brought out more trays (whew!). I got some Bailey's Irish Cream, but ended up not drinking much of it. The chocolate cake things were ok, but the non-chocolate bars they had were even better. Overall, dinner and afternoon tea were the best offerings today.

At 10 Nancy left for home and the rest of us went to our rooms. Housekeeping had done the turndown service, and we had 2 chocolates on each bed. We're supposed to meet in the concierge lounge at 6:45 for the Sunrise Safari, so it was a fairly early night for all of us.

Today was a wonderful day - it was so nice to be able to sit and talk with Nancy without her having to rush back to work or me running back in to a CW show! It was so relaxing lounging around the pool all day, and enjoying the lounge. This is the way to enjoy WDW in the hot crowded summers! We didn't follow the original plan, but the day turned out better than what I'd planned.

DAY 9 SATURDAY JULY 20, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son
  • Larry & Jill, friends from Scotland
  • Greg (14) & Ed (11), Larry & Jill's sons

Plan: Sunrise Safari, see Gus at AK, enjoy AKL concierge lounge, possible Comedy Warehouse

Actual: Today the alarm woke me up - at 5:45. After I showered & got dressed I wanted some of my cappuccino so I took the canister of powder up to the lounge thinking I'd find some hot water up there. The cm was just getting set up, and there was no hot water out - I didn't want to bother her since she was busy. Instead, I figured I'd get hot water at Mara. I trudged down to Mara and found that they don't open until 6:30 - it was only 6:20 at this point. A couple of smokers were hanging out in the humidity puffing away so waiting 10 minutes was not an option. I returned to the lounge and asked the cm for some hot water - and was back in my room with my cappuccino a mere 30 minutes after starting out to find hot water. Somehow I thought perhaps hot water would be available 24 hours a day on concierge, but evidently not.

By now it was less than 10 minutes before we were due to meet in the lounge, so I woke up Chris & he got ready in a hurry. Larry stopped by to say they were heading up, and we met them up there. After registering for the Sunrise Safari we grabbed a very light breakfast and then sat around waiting. We were told to report at 6:45 but we didn't leave until after 7:30 - which allowed for a lot of wasted time waiting. The Sunrise Safari is a special behind the scenes safari tour followed by a breakfast buffet. It's only held 2 days a week and is limited to concierge guests at AKL.

While waiting for it to be time to leave, I ran down to the front desk to take care of checking in on my other reservation - thinking it would just take a minute. It ended up taking about 20 minutes, and I was worried I'd miss the darn safari! The concierge staff had arranged for us to remain in this room, but the cm at the front desk did not see that. I'd told him it had been arranged, and then he starts asking me if I wanted smoking or non smoking. Huh??? I told him the room is non-smoking, and reminded him we weren't moving, and he said we were! Ugh - I told him he could check upstairs with Juanita, and he went backstage for a very long time before finally coming back out to tell me I was right. However, the new keys won't work until Larry checks out - which is no big deal because I still have the old keys. I never did get a parking pass, since the Safari group was getting off the elevator and heading outdoors and I did not have any more time to waste at the front desk!

They took us by Disney bus backstage at AK and explained the different habitats we were passing. Once the bus parked behind Harambe we walked to our safari vehicles. They gave us 2 vehicles, so we had lots of room to spread out. There were several children on the tour, but not a single one was screaming, screeching, or misbehaving. I figured since I recently got flack for implying that a screaming child is not a positive enhancement to my vacation experience, I thought I'd give a mention to the delightful children who are out there. <g> We had several children in the concierge lounge the past 2 days also - but not a single one was a problem. Ok, back to the tour - on this tour they don't bother with the poaching story line, and they will stop whenever you want them to so you can take lots of pictures or just watch the animals. We saw several animals, but I think we saw more when we did this last January. It's just the luck of the draw as to what you'll actually see. After the safari we walked to Tusker House, where breakfast was set up for us in the school room.

The breakfast contains many unusual items, and I probably covered them in my January 2002 report. We had the same foods today as we did then, and ended up rolling out of there. The Wilmots were going to spend some time in the park, so we left them. Chris & I did the Pangani Forest Trail to look for Gus, and eventually found him around back near the water fall. Spike was sitting on the grass (on the trail) eating, and KJ was on his back down by the water. On the family side the little girl and one of her brothers were against the glass but I didn't notice any of the others. Gus was on his back, with 1 leg crossed up over the other knee, and he could not see or hear the people watching - nor could we see anything but his legs. We waited a little while, but he wasn't moving, so we left.

On the way out we stopped at Pizzafari to see the passholders' lounge. I can't imagine sitting around playing Candyland while at AK, but whatever <g>. They had some tables with a board game on each one, a few arcade games, and cold water. The cm there offered to give us a priority seating for the Lion King show, but we weren't going to be staying. I got some water & returned to the resort. Chris stayed a while longer playing the arcade games.

Back at AKL I stopped in the concierge lounge to pay for our Sunrise Safari - it has gone up, and was $99.90 for the 2 of us! That's an expensive breakfast <g>. We've done it twice now, and have no desire to repeat it again - but I do recommend it for a first timer. I got a bottle of water, changed into a swimsuit and headed for the pool. It's still hot, so I only lasted until noon, and returned to the room to find Chris had fallen asleep watching TV. I took another shower and then woke him up to head over to Wide World of Sports.

We'd never been to the sports complex, and were surprised at how large it is - there are many fields set aside for a variety of different sports, plus a nice air conditioned building for basketball. It was really hot walking around outside, and I was glad when we finally finished touring the area. We drove back to the resort just as it was starting to rain and ran into the Wilmots leaving the lounge to hit the road. We said our goodbyes, picked up some drinks and went down to our room. Chris decided to go to DisneyQuest, so he left to catch the bus. I got online and decided to spend a relaxing afternoon in the room and on the balcony. During Afternoon Tea I got a few of the little brownies and 2 of the mini rice krispie treats - leaving half for Chris to eat later tonight. Around 4:15 or so the thunder was starting, and a storm was building. There were the usual animals outside - zebra, cattle, and it was breezy but very humid.

At 5 I went up to the lounge for the dinner offerings and a glass of wine. It seemed a shame to leave the animals, as there were more close to my balcony now than at any other time! Tonight the food was nut crusted salmon, tamarind bbq pork on a skewer, Moroccan meatballs, chicken nuggets, vegetarian flatbread, tamarind chicken flatbread, veggie wraps, the spreads, cheeses, crackers, peanut butter & jelly, and wine. I tried the pork and it was very good. Kathy had recommended the meatballs, and although I'm not really a meatball person I ate one and liked it. I wasn't very hungry, so I didn't really eat much, but did drink a 1/2 glass of wine while up in the lounge and poured a full glass to take down to the room. Just then Chris showed up - we were supposed to meet at 7 outside PI but he came back early. He was starving, so we filled up 2 plates of food for him and went down to our balcony & watched the animals in the rain. We finally have a giraffe on our savannah - I think this may be the first time I've seen one from the room.

Chris finished his food and went back up for a plate of chicken fingers (Darla - they are the yucky kind, not the delicious chicken fingers you get on the cruise ship, parks or DVC resorts) and some of the African smooth. The sun came back out on our savannah, but the sky was black further away! Hopefully it won't be raining at PI when we're there. I'm so glad I booked the extra night here - and it was so fortunate & nice of them to let us stay in this room. The concierge staff have been great, and assured me it was perfectly fine to use the lounge all day today, and even said to not worry about it & just come use it Sunday morning, too. I don't feel right doing that, though - we've paid to use it thru midnight tonight, but we're really not entitled to use it tomorrow so we'll buy breakfast at Mara. I don't want to look like a moocher up there!

Around 6 or so we headed to Downtown Disney and after parking by PI went to the Marketplace to see the new store Once Upon a Toy. Neither of us has any reason to be looking at toys, but it's a neat store! I was amazed at all of the WDW version of regular games for sale (Monopoly, Candyland), plus all the new theme park miniatures & monorail accessories. It was fairly crowded, but not too bad. I was a little concerned to see people standing in line at 1 register while directly across there were 3 cm's with no customers at all - why didn't they call one of the waiting guests over?? It seemed kind of strange. As we were passing from one room to another a lady came running up to me & I thought maybe I'd dropped something out of my backpack getting through the crowd, but it turned out to be people from the internet - Erica & Jack from CT (my apologies if I got your names wrong). We exchanged greetings and continued on our way - they seem like a nice young family. In one of the rooms they had these really soft stuffed bears, which at $22 seemed pretty fairly priced. They had a few different colors, and if I had a need or use for a stuffed bear I would have bought one!

We left the store and walked back over to Pleasure Island. It was just 7pm and the line had not formed so we sat on the steps of the Adventurer's Club. Soon regulars Bob & Virginia arrived, and later David & his girlfriend showed up. David warned me I was going to get wet out there, as he'd done a rain dance when he got out of the car, lol. Little did I know he was right! We got in line at the right time, and chatted with Bob & Virginia. It started to rain very slightly as we went inside. We ended up seated on the row of stools down on the floor, in front of long row, which was fine with me. I don't NEED the bar in front of me like some people do, and having the shelf in back doesn't bother me. The only negative to these seats are the servers walking back & forth in front of us all night, but that's a minor inconvenience (certainly preferable to being seated way far back)!

The 7:20 cast was Mary, Brian, Greg, Jen, & Krista. Mary led Brian & Jen in a play where they were thieves robbing houses to accumulate enough money to open their own convenience store. They got caught in a house when the owner - a football player (Greg) came home, but luckily he was a dumb jock and didn't notice Brian first posing as a lamp and then hiding under the rug. Jen's character pretended to fall for him (Greg), and at one point they had to kiss. Afterwards she pulled back and exclaimed that he'd used his tongue, but I caught Mary's quiet expression that said "yeah, right, lol - not likely <g>" which was pretty funny. The play fast forwarded to 3 years later when Jen & Brian finally had their own Seven Eleven store, obtained with Greg's money since he's so dumb. Greg thought the baby Jen had was his, when really it was Brian's, but Greg was giving her money for the baby - the lesson of the story was "crime pays".

They also did a musical using 3 different styles of music. Greg & Krista were playing bingo, and Jen would interrupt the scene to have them continue in the styles of disco, reggae, and tango. It was funny, and it's always a pleasure to have Krista sing! The final improv was about a time when something went wrong, and this lady from NJ told about getting hit by a car! Mary was taking the information, and wasn't quite sure what to make of this person - they were either drunk or pretty strange. The lady said something about working for Greeks, and that Greeks have hard butts - Mary was confused and said she saw the movie Big Fat Greek Wedding, but didn't see anything about firm butts, lol. The woman recovered from her injuries, and the cast did a good job with the story. Overall it was a good show.

After the show I mentioned to Carol Stein that I'd heard she was the Partridge Family the week before I was (in Fairy Tales), and we laughed about that. She also said she couldn't believe I fell off the stage (ok, rub it in why don't ya) and I had nothing to say, lol! Then she surprised me - she got serious and started complimenting me, saying I was such a lovely lady. I must have given her a very intelligent blank look as I was thinking "huh??" and she went on to say a bunch of stuff that was really nice to hear. The gist of it is that they really appreciate that when the actors aren't getting any suggestions I jump in with something then, and am succinct and give them good stuff. She said I have great stories - lol, I think I just happen to have fun friends and don't mind getting silly at times. Anyway, this was an unexpected set of compliments and it made my night!

As we turned to leave Greg asked "What are you doing here??" - I guess he thought last night was my final night, which I'm sure is based on my mentioning coming Friday when he'd asked, as opposed to saying I'd be there Fri & Saturday. He asked if we were coming to more shows tonight, but I said no - and he said "oh, dessert bar <g>"! He gave me a hug and said he'd be here next Friday, and we talked about his plans for the next couple of weeks after that(he won't be at CW most of those nights). Mary gave me a hug as well, and will also be working Friday. It feels kind of strange to be saying "goodbye" when I'll be back in 6 days, lol.

It was raining pretty steadily now, with lots of lightning - thanks to David's rain dance I guess <g>. Luckily I don't go out at night without an umbrella this time of year, so we got the car and drove back to AKL. Our first stop was the lounge, where the desserts were non-chocolate! What's up with that??? Frankly, the dessert offerings have been disappointing, but perhaps that's for the best. I've eaten too much up there as it is. They had some lemon meringue tart things that Chris liked better than I did, and some other things with coconut that I liked much better. Chris put a packet of hot chocolate in a cup and added cappuccino - and it turned out delicious. We took our stuff back to the room, where I had a glass of wine waiting. Later he went back up to get some soda and fruit - guess he's not full yet, lol!

We spent a quiet evening - him watching TV, me finishing the report & doing some online stuff. I'm not going to set the alarm for the morning, so whenever we get up we'll get breakfast and go from there. Most likely we'll just head home, since it's going to be a very short week before I start traveling again and I've got lots to do.

Today was a great day again, although it's a bit of a letdown that the trip is coming to an end. I really can't complain though - just about everything has been so wonderful!

DAY 10 SUNDAY JULY 21, 2002:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Chris (15), my son

Plan: Breakfast at Mara, do anything we want to see, drive home

Actual: It was a lazy evening last night, but it was probably just what we needed. Without the alarm I woke up a few times but didn't get up until 8. After getting cleaned up, I headed down to Mara with our cappuccino to add the hot water, then returned to the room to see if Chris was finished with his shower. The Character Caravan was in the lobby - talk about a mess! The lines were horrendously long - this is no better than standing in line forever in the parks, except that here you're in air conditioning. I saw Minnie, Goofy, Timon & some bear or gorilla (if he was a gorilla he looked nothing like Gus).

We went down to Mara for breakfast just before 9am. I was looking forward to my favorite - the yogurt, fruite & granola cup - those things are great (but huge)! However, while standing in the long line to get food I didn't see any of the yogurt things. I went over, and sure enough - not a single one! I was disappointed (& angry), since the whole point of coming here was to get that specifically! Chris asked a cm and he said he didn't know why, but they hadn't had them in a couple of days. Damn!!! I had no back-up plan, as nothing looked or sounded good to me. Chris ordered a croissant sandwich with egg, cheese & sausage and since it was smaller than the regular one (they must have run out of the regular sized croissants) he suggested I eat that & he went back to get a breakfast wrap. I did not care for the croissant sandwich at all - it was greasy, and the eggs were scrambled eggs so they were falling out all over the place! I liked the wrap even less - a bland tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs & sausage patties. Blech! Chris seemed to enjoy it all, though. For me what I ate was a colossal waste of calories, and I wouldn't order either item ever again.

We returned to the room briefly and then carried everything down to the car and began the drive back to Ft Myers. With very few minor exceptions it's been a wonderful trip, but I'm ready to get back home for the next 5 nights. The drive back was uneventful, even though Chris did the driving <g>!

MAGICAL MOMENTS:

  • The Beach cottage was fabulous, and really enhanced the Vero experience for me. Sharing such a nice place with friends who otherwise wouldn't even have known about it was fun also. I think next time I'd want 3 nights instead of 2 though.
  • The baseball game was surprisingly great. I think Larry was not looking forward to this (he'd asked me if I followed any similar sports, such as watching paint dry) but he commented later that the game was one of the highlights of his trip. Having the tickets comped was very nice, and seeing the team win by so many runs while they're away from home was really great!
  • The Comedy Warehouse is always a ton of fun for me, and this trip was no exception. A couple of shows were a little weak, but for the most part everyone did a great job. I enjoyed seeing so many other of the "regulars", seeing so many shows with friends, visiting with the actors, and Carol Stein's comments were the icing on the cake. I can't wait to get back there for more good times <g>.
  • The day spent with Nancy was terrific! We lounged around a gorgeous resort like we didn't have a care in the world - talking, eating, drinking & laughing all day & night! I'm glad she ended up with a day off during my stay, particularly since she had to miss the Vero Beach trip.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge concierge was wonderful, and my thanks to Larry for that room! We used the lounge quite a bit, and thoroughly enjoyed relaxing at the resort for a couple of days. Those concierge cm's make it tough to refrain from booking another stay there, though!
  • Discovering mid-trip that I'd be returning after just 5 nights was pretty magical, too! I already consider myself a part-time WDW resident, but lately it seems between pleasure trips and business trips I should consider myself a Ft Myers visitor instead of a resident <g>.

NOT-SO-MAGICAL:

  • The weather was less than ideal, with rain most of the first Saturday and then oppressive heat & humidity the rest of the trip. Had we been wanting to spend time in the theme parks it would have been worse, but since we were mostly just relaxing the weather wasn't too big of a negative. Besides, this is Florida - the weather was the same back home!
  • The server at Le Cellier left a little to be desired, but that just gives me a reason to possibly return next weekend for another try.

SUMMARY:

Overall this vacation was a great time, and the "not so magical" moments were very minor compared to the good stuff! DVC is terrific, and made it so easy to share great lodging with our friends the Wilmots. Chris enjoyed having another teen to hang out with every day & night, and I enjoyed Larry & Jill's (& Ed) company at the things we did together.

After so many shorter trips to WDW in recent months it was really nice to have a longer trip. I tend to spend more time at WDW in the Fall than any other season, and I'm excited to be approaching a series of longer trips between Labor Day and New Year's! DVC continues to be one of the best things I've ever done, as it provides me with so much happiness through these frequent trips. With Nancy's wedding coming up - I'll just use my DVC to add a couple of nights, and it doesn't feel like it "costs" anything!

The next trip is actually next weekend, but other than writing a recap of the Comedy Warehouse shows I'm taking a break from writing a full report. I'll be spending Fri/Sat night with a friend from college who'll be at WDW, and will stay over Sunday night since I've got a business trip the next afternoon in Gainesville. We may not be doing much WDW stuff other than Comedy Warehouse! The next trip after that begins Friday, August 30th for 7 nights (Labor Day week). It'll still be hot, but that's ok!

I've set up a couple of photo albums on Ofoto, for anyone who's interested. One has the Comedy Warehouse pictures (you already received that invitation if you're on that list), and the URL is http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=67751789403&n=217299608 The other album has mostly pictures of the Beach Cottage at Vero, the 2 bedroom villa at OKWR, a few animals from AKL or the safari, and a few pictures of Larry & Edward on stage at Comedy Warehouse. That URL is http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=41008789403&n=2100381563 The Comedy Warehouse pictures will only be there until the Labor Day trip, and then they'll be deleted to make room for the new ones.

Thanks for reading!

Sue Holland

wdw1972@aol.com


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