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Noreen Chin -- May 2000 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite, BWR)


WHO ARE WE?

  • Noreen - 31 years old; Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.
  • Paul (my husband) - 31 years old; Multimedia Developer at a Management Consulting Firm in New York City. Paul may insert his comments in the report.
  • Chris (friend of ours - Alise's husband) - 5/15-5/22 staying at Port Orleans - 34 years old; Systems analyst at an Investmant Banking firm (not the same one as me) in New York City
  • Alise (friend of ours - Chris's wife) - 5/15-5/22 staying at Port Orleans - 38 years old; a Podiatry Assistant in New York City
  • Haley (Chris & Alise's daughter) - 5/15-5/22 staying at Port Orleans - almost 4 years old
  • Danny (Chris & Alise's son) - 5/15-5/22 staying at Port Orleans - 1 1/2 years old
  • Joan (Alise's Mother) - 5/15-5/22 - staying at Port Orleans - age unknown

The following people were originally planning to come to Disney World with us for various portions of our trip but ended up not being able to make it.

  • Jennifer (my sister) was planning to stay from 5/18-5/21 with us in Vistana; 27 years old; an office manager at a medical billing company in Brooklyn.
  • Kevin (my sister's fiancee); was planning to stay from 5/18-5/21 with us in Vistana, 29 years old; a meter reader for Con Edison in Brooklyn
  • Phil (Paul's brother); was planning to stay from 5/14-5/18 with us in Vistana; 35 years old; a maintenance man
  • Sam (Paul's father); was planning to stay from 5/14-5/18 with us in Vistana; age unknown; a maintenance man

Paul and I have been to Disney World several times in the last few years. It has become our favorite Vacation. We went to Disneyland (California) for the first time in January 1997 and became engaged at Sea World.

PLANNING

Paul and my vacation plans for any given year usually include two 10-day trips (usually one to Disney) and several long weekend trips. The 10-day trips usually include flying somewhere instead of driving. In the past the travel days (to and from Disney) were wasted since we were tired from being up late and packing the night before so didn't really do much the first and last day of our trips. On our September 1999 trip we bought premium annual passes and were in a theme park on both our first and last day of the trip.

I will try to note the prices we paid for things throughout the trip but won't be compulsive about it. I'll know what we spent for a meal in a restaurant because we'll have a receipt but for how many ice cream bars, bottles of water, etc that we buy during the day, I won't keep track of.

The following lodging, car rental, and flight information refer to Paul and me only. The other people joining us throughout portions of our trip will have their information in the "Other People" section of the report.

Lodging
On 1/30/00 I tried to book our week at the timeshare (Vistana). However, since they sent out the annual maintenance/tax bill only last week, they aren't able to book 2000 weeks until they receive the payment and credit my account with it. Since I mailed it on Friday 1/28/00, I'll wait one week then try again.

On 2/2/00 I booked one week at our timeshare (Vistana) for Sunday 5/14/00 to Sunday 5/21/00. The timeshare is within 3 miles of Disney World - right in Lake Buena Vista on SR 535. It's a floating week which means we are not locked into a specific week for every year. We just call and tell them when we want to go and based on availability we can.

On 1/30/00 I booked three days at Disney's Boardwalk Resort from Sunday 5/21/00 to Tuesday 5/23/00 - using my Magic Kingdom Club discount it came out to $587 including tax.

Car Rental
We are definitely going to rent a car as we have in the past. Since the majority of our trip will be spent staying off-site, a car is a must. Also, we've found a lot of fun things to do and restaurants we like off-site and want the flexibility to go. We may use the Disney transportation sometimes (for park hopping), but I like the convenience of knowing my car is waiting for me in a lot and not having to depend on a bus/tram/boat. Paul wants to rent a convertible as we've been doing for the last few years. Chris and Alise are not going to rent a car since they will be staying at Port Orleans. They will depend on Disney Transportation to get them to and from the parks. If we go somewhere off Disney property, Paul and I can pick them up.

On February 10, 2000, I reserved two cars for our trip with two different car rental companies:

  • Hertz - A convertible with unlimited mileage for $544 (including AAA 10% discount)
  • National - A convertible with unlimited mileage for $526.90

Paul called his corporate travel department on May 9, 2000 and made the following reservation with Alamo - A convertible with unlimited miles for $269.99 / week; $43.99 / additional days; $16.33 / additional hours. According to my calculation of 1 week and 3 additional days (cheaper than an additional 7 hours) is comes out to $401.96. This doesn't include tax or any other surcharges.

On 2/10/00 - I also reserved a midsize car for Jen & Kevin at National for $229.15 with unlimited mileage. I canceled this for them since they are no longer coming to Florida.

Flight
On April 3, 2000 I booked our flight. $191 per person. On 5/14/00 on TWA it's flight # 0265 leaving from Kennedy Airport at 9:05 am landing in Orlando at 11:44am. Coming home 5/23/00 on TWA it's flight #0782 leaving Orlando at 7:45 pm landing at Kennedy at 10:11 pm.

I am not thrilled with flying into and out of Kennedy since it's the furthest local airport from our house but it's the only one we were able to get a decent flight out of.

Paul's brother Phil is going to drive us to the airport on Sunday morning for $40. I would have spent at least $40 for car service, and since Phil has been short on money lately, I figured we can pay him instead of a stranger to drive us.

We will call car service to pick us when we land on Tuesday coming home.

Attractions
Paul will probably want to spend some time at a program(s) at the Disney Institute. I'm not sure which one(s) he'll take. Maybe a cooking class (since he loves to cook) or the Computer Animation Class (since he wanted to take it during our September 99 trip and our January 00 trip and wasn't able to) or a golf class (since he keeps saying he wants to play golf). During our September 99 trip, we both took a cooking class at the Disney Institute.

I read on one of the websites that Disney may be revamping the way they offer classes at the Disney Institute. The rumor is that there will not be classes offered to individuals - only to conventions? That's a shame - the cooking class we took last year was a lot of fun.

Food
There are some restaurants we've been to on previous trips and will probably repeat. Some of the restaurants I'm hoping to try for the first time this trip are in Epcot (Le Cellier), Magic Kingdom (Crystal Palace), at the Resorts (Hoop Dee Doo Review, O'Hana).

Chris & Alise said that they definitely want to do the Hoop De Doo Revue as well as breakfast in the castle with the princesses.

We find it hard making dinner and/or lunch reservations in advance. We're usually very spontaneous with these things. I don't know what I'll want to eat two months later or even what time I'll want to eat. We've also run into a few problems during our trips because we'll run around at the parks and by the time we leave and are ready to eat dinner it's late and many times the restaurants are closed by the time we get there. We've ended up with cereal, leftovers, or any 24 hour place we can find for dinner several times during our last few trips. At least while we're in the timeshare we will have a full kitchen which we will make sure we have some food in. It's a great convenience (as well as a money and time saver) to have a regular breakfast right in the timeshare.

During the last few trips, we've made a few priority seatings and they've worked out pretty well for us.

On 4/24/00 I made a lunch reservation for Emeril's for Monday May 15 at 1:30. I would have preferred a little later but they close from 2-5:30.

On 2/28/00 I made a reservation for the Hoop Dee Doo Review for Tuesday 5/16/00 at 9:30pm. As an annual passholder, I receive a 20% discount for this show time. I made the reservation for myself, Paul, Chris, Alise, Joan (Alise's mother), Haley, and Danny (5 adults, 1 child, 1 infant [no charge]). The total came to $204.31 with the discount.

Alise made a priority seating for lunch at the Crystal Palace (Winnie the Pooh character meal) for Wednesday 5/17/00 at 2pm.

Alise and I were having trouble making a reservation for Cinderella's breakfast in the castle with the princesses. She called at 7am on Saturday 3/18 for 60 days later (the earliest you can call) and it was booked by the time the CM was able to look it up for her. I enlisted the help of my mother to also call every day at 7am hoping we'd get something at some point during the week. I called on Sunday 3/19 at 7am and it was also booked. My mother was able to get through and we have a priority seating for Thursday, 5/18/00 at 9:50am.

On 3/20/00 I made a reservation for dinner at Emeril's at Universal City Walk for Saturday, May 20,2000 at 9:30pm (for Chris, Alise, Paul, and myself). We need to call to confirm either the day before or the day of the reservation.

Admission Media
Paul and I bought premium annual passes during our September 99 trip so we don't have to purchase any park passes for Disney. We also have two days left on our Universal passes that include Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.

Other People
Paul likes to invite other people to join us in Disney World for two reasons. One - we have a two bedroom, two bath condo at the timeshare so we certainly have the room. Two - I like to run around (typical commando mode) while Paul is more laid back. If other people are with us, it tends to slow us down a little.

We were talking to our friends Chris & Alise about how much fun we always have at Disney and that they should go. So we're planning to all go. They were originally planning to stay in our timeshare with us but later decided they would book their own hotel room because they have two kids and they were afraid Paul and I wouldn't enjoy ourselves if we had to share space with them, two children, and Alise's mother. Chris and Alise, their children, and Alise's mother will be staying at two adjoining rooms at Disney's Port Orleans Resort. They booked their whole package (hotel, air, etc) through a travel agent. They will be in Orlando from Monday 5/15/00 through Monday 5/22/00.

Jennifer (my sister) and Kevin (her fiancé) were planning to join us for a portion of our trip. The plan was for them to fly down on Wednesday 5/18/00 night and stay with us in the timeshare until Sunday 5/21/00. As of 3/13/00 my sister realized that her and Kevin would not be able to make it to Florida after all.

Phil (Paul's brother) and Paul's father expressed some interest in joining us during our trip as well. Although our timeshare sleeps eight people, there are only two bedrooms and it's a bit uncomfortable to have people sleeping on the couch (even though it pulls out to a bed). I'm hoping that it works out that they join us before Jen & Kevin get there so they can use the room until Wednesday and then they'll move to a hotel if they plan to stay longer. Phil has expressed interest in coming before but it's never panned out so we'll see what happens as it gets closer. Phil ended up taking an unexpected trip to London in March so doesn't plan to come to Florida anymore this time. Paul's father probably will not come without Phil.

General Planning
I've read that it's useful to make a rough outline of what parks to hit on what days as well as make priority seatings in advance of the trip. I've printed out the park hours for the dates we're there and am trying to come up with a rough game plan. I'm trying to use the blocks of time method (ex - morning, afternoon, evening, night). Paul doesn't like this idea because he feels it takes away the spontaneity of just having fun on vacation.

I'm also going to try to right down the tentative plan for the day and see how close we come to doing what was planned.

DAY BY DAY

The week before our trip
The week before our trip was hectic at work for both of us. On top of that we went from work on Friday 5/12/00 to Atlantic City and spent the night there. We went to Atlantic city with my sister Jennifer and Kevin (her fiancé); and other friends of our: Anthony and his wife Joanne; Steve and his girlfriend Tammy. From Atlantic City, we have to go straight to Brooklyn to celebrate Mother's Day with my mother on Saturday night.

The day before our trip - Saturday 5/13/00
I was up early Saturday and at the gym in Bally's (the hotel we were in at Atlantic City) when they opened at 7am. Paul was up all night playing in the casino.

After I got finished at the gym, showered and got ready I went down to get him. We went to eat brunch with Jennifer & Kevin. Then we played in Atlantic City with the rest of the group until around 3:30. From there we drove to Brooklyn. Or I should say I drove and Paul slept (can't really blame him since he didn't sleep at all the night before).

We had dinner reservations at a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn at 7:30 with my mother and her boyfriend Mark; my sister Jennifer and her fiancé Kevin, and Phil (Paul's brother). After dinner we went back to my mother's house for cake and for her to open her mother's day presents.

We didn't leave Brooklyn until 12:30am in a terrible storm. We made very good time getting home and were home by 1:15am.

We finished our last minute packing and I went to bed about 2:15. Paul had a few more things to do and ended up falling asleep on the couch. We always over pack whenever we go away. We have one big suitcase (stuffed) with most of our stuff in it. Then we each have one carryon and Paul has his laptop.

Sunday 5/14/00
Tentative Plan: Fly to Orlando, Check in Vistana, Epcot, Lunch at Beaches & Cream, Dinner at Le Cellier

My alarm was set for 5:25 (same time I set it every day for work) but with the excitement of knowing I'd be in Disney soon I was up by 5. I got myself ready and starting trying to wake Paul. He's a big sleepyhead and not a morning person.

Paul's brother Phil was supposed to be at our house to drove us to the airport by 6:30am. He arrived about 6:15. We normally would take car service but since Phil has been short of money - we figured we'd pay him the $40 instead of a stranger. A good deal for everyone.

We left our house by 6:45 and had to go all the way to Kennedy airport. Since it was a Sunday morning there was practically no traffic and we were at Kennedy by 7:40am. We checked our luggage curbside (the big suitcase) and went to our gate. They started boarding around 8:30 and we left pretty much on time.

The flight was quick. They served us a cinnamon muffin and soda.

When we arrived in Orlando we went to the rental car area before getting our luggage. We've done this in the past and found it to be a big time saver. We have 4 reservations for rental cars. We eliminated Hertz and Alamo since they aren't at the airport and we didn't want to take a shuttle. We went to the National counter since there was no line. It was very efficient. Within 10 minutes all the paperwork was filled in. I like their process that once you fill in your forms, you walk across the street to the garage and go to the row that has the car class you paid for and just choose whichever one you want. Once we filled in the forms Paul went to get the luggage while I called and cancelled the additional car rental reservations. One thing that was a little odd - we reserved a convertible and when at the counter we asked what type of convertibles they have. We asked if they had a Chrysler Sebring since it's a little bigger than the usual Cavalier, Sunfire, and Mustang convertibles they usually have. They said they don't have Sebring's in Orlando - only Cavalier and Sunfire. So we go across to the garage and what do we see - a charcoal gray Sebring convertible. We put our luggage in and were on our way by 12:30.

It was sunny and about 90 degrees in Orlando.

Check in at Vistana isn't until 4 but sometimes the rooms are ready early so we stopped there first. We were at Vistana around 1pm. Our room wasn't ready yet, but we left our luggage with bell services and were on our way.

We went to Downtown Disney to have lunch at Wolfgang Puck. We put our name in about 1:20 and were told the wait would be 20 - 30 minutes. So we wondered around some of the shops while waiting. We were seated by 1:45. They had a special menu for Mother's Day but they had what I wanted so it was fine. We ordered the Salmon-Egg Pizza (sounds weird but was good) and Shrimp Pad Thai and shared both dishes. We also had soda. The food was very good and we finished it all. We usually order appetizers too and end up with too much food, but we skipped the appetizers this time. The total with tax and tip came out to $42.88.

We walked around the Disney Market Place and some of the stores - Day's of Christmas, World of Disney, etc. We didn't buy anything just browsed. We'll probably come back to do some shopping another day. We bought a strawberry shake in Gheridelli's - very creamy and thick Around 4pm we left the Market Place and headed over to Publix (a supermarket) to stock up on groceries for the week. Even though most of our meals will be eaten out we like to have things in the timeshare just in case. Also, I like to have breakfast in the timeshare most days rather than spending valuable park time in a restaurant. We spent $101.91 in Publix. In addition to groceries we bought two waterproof disposable cameras.

On the way back to Vistana, we passed some outlet stores on 535 so we stopped for a few minutes. Literally a few minutes since we had groceries in the truck and it was hot out. We ran in the Reebok store and Paul got 2 tank tops and 1 tee shirt; I got 1 gym bra (which doesn't fit properly and needs to be returned). We spent $71.29 in the Reebok outlet. We always end up shopping on vacation. What's weird is that Paul hates to go clothes shopping at home (meanwhile we have several huge malls pretty close to our house); but on vacation he always wants to go clothes shopping.

We arrived at Vistana around 5 and our room was ready. We have a top floor unit - which we specifically requested since we had one the last two trips and like them. They have high ceilings and skylights. We asked bell services to deliver our luggage while we brought up the groceries. Our luggage arrived 10 minutes after we did. We got settled in and did a load of laundry. I know it's odd that we already have dirty clothes but there was an outfit Paul wanted to bring that was dirty so he stuck it in a plastic bag to bring down knowing we had the laundry machine right in the condo.

Paul had some work to do so he took care of that. He also realized he forgot to bring one of his favorite shirts and also forgot to shut the VCR which he programmed to tape a few shows while we were away. Luckily, our friends (Chris & Alise & their family) are coming down to Florida tomorrow. They live about a mile away from us and are usually the ones to take care of our mail and plant while we are away. We called them and they were able to stop at our house to pick up the shirt for Paul and set the VCR.

We went to return the gym bra around 8:30pm but the store was already closed. So we drove over to MGM since I complained that we've been here a whole day and haven't even stepped foot in a park yet and they were open until 9:30pm. The plan was to go see Fantasmic. We found a great parking spot right near the entrance. When we looked at the tip board it showed "Standing Room Only" for Fantasmic. We decided we didn't have to see it that night - we'll see it another night.

We walked over to Star Tours since we haven't ridden this in a while. Walked right on. There was only 5 people in our whole ship to Endor. When the ride ended the CM was asking if anyone wanted to ride again.

Then we went over to Muppets. We walked into the pre-show area and were the only ones there. The little monitor said there was another 12 minutes until the next show. So we took some pictures (how often are you the only ones in the pre-show area?) and watched the pre-show. By the time the show started, the crowd grew to about 10 people. We went in and were told to choose any seat we wanted so we chose the middle of the row in the middle of the theater. I enjoyed the show. Paul took a nap.

When Muppets ended the park was closed already and Fantasmic was about to end. We walked quickly to the exit to try to beat the mad rush out after Fantasmic ended. We were in the car and on our way quickly. We were getting hungry for a late dinner. I suggested the frozen pizza we bought in Publix earlier but Paul was in the mood for Wendy's.

There is a Wendy's very close to the timeshare so we stopped there. This was the slowest fast food I've ever seen - and they got the order wrong on top of that (which we didn't realize until we were back at Vistana since we ordered the food to go). We ordered pretty quickly but it took a long time for the clerk to put our order in a bag. Maybe it's because we're in the South and everything is slow here. I'm still on New York time and want things to move quickly. We ordered a double cheeseburger and a chicken & mozzarella sandwich for Paul, fries to share, and a cheeseburger for me. When I order food, I'm finicky about what's on it so always order things special. I told him I didn't want all the stuff that comes on the cheeseburger - just the meat, the cheese, and lettuce on the bun. When I get to the room and open it to check - it has mustard and pickles too. The pickles are easy enough to pick off but mustard on a burger - yuck. Paul was sweet because his burger didn't have mustard (odd since he just ordered it with everything that normally comes on it) so he gave me one of his burger meats and I gave him mine. The food was OK.

I jumped in the Jacuzzi after we ate for a little while. Then went to bed. Paul said he had to do a few more work things and would be in shortly.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Well, we flew down and checked into Vistana - the rest of the plan was scrapped and we changed our plans.

Monday 5/15/00
Tentative Plan: Universal, Lunch at Emeril's, Dinner at Margaritaville, Chris & Alise arrive

I woke up around 6am and Paul wasn't in the bed. I looked in the living room and sure enough, there he was - sound asleep on the couch. So I woke him and brought him to bed. The original plan was to get to Universal when they opened, but poor Paul hasn't really slept in 3 days, so I'll give him a chance to sleep a little later.

We left around 10:45am and arrived at Universal Studios about 11am.

We walked past Terminator 2 - 3D but there was a 30 minute wait so we figured we'd come back later.

We walked over to Men In Black. We've never seen this before. There was a single rider line (guess they took the hint from Disney) which we went into. The regular line was fairly long, but we walked all the way through and right to the front. The Cast Member (or whatever Universal calls their employees) asked for 2 singles so we walked right into the front seat of a vehicle sitting next to each other. The ride was cute - you shoot various aliens and they shoot you. The vehicle spins around when you are hit by riders in other cars. At the end you are given a classification based on the number of points you accumulated. Our car did pretty bad (Paul did well, but the other person and I didn't and they total the score) so we ended up as "Alien Bait" or something along those lines.

We walked over to Twister which had a 15 minute wait. There was a girl behind us that was petrified - she was screaming and yelling "I want to get out". I turned around expecting to see a little girl. It was a big girl - maybe 14 years old. When the ride ended she was still in tears. We both enjoyed this - even though it wasn't worth a long wait (15 minutes is probably the max). We saw Twister once before and didn't like it but decided to give it a second chance. I won't put it on my "must do" list, but it was fun.

We went onto the Hanna Barbera ride next. We ride this each time, I just think it's so adorable.

Next it was time for us to head over to Emeril's for our lunch reservations. We had 1:30 reservations and went there about 1:15. We were seated immediately. Lunch was delicious. We started off with a mushroom truffle pizza; Paul also had the lobster bisque which I tried as well. For entrees I ordered the shrimp cakes and Paul ordered one of the daily specials - Pompano (a fish) over angel hair pasta. I wasn't crazy about my dish, but I did like Paul's. For dessert we shared the White Chocolate Bread Pudding. The way they served was very organized. When the food was served more than one waiter came by and everyone's plate were placed in front of them at the same exact time. We couldn't finish our food so had the leftovers wrapped up. Lunch came out to $84.43 with tax and tip. Since it was hot out we didn't want to keep the food in the car all day so we ended up driving back to Vistana to drop it off.

When we got back to Vistana we had a message - someone from my office with a few questions. So I called to help solve the problem. Paul also called his work to see how things were going over there. After dealing with the work issues, we called Port Orleans to see if Chris & Alise & family arrived yet - it was about 4pm and they said they expected to get there at 3. They were there so we decided to stop over and pick up the Hoop Dee Doo Review tickets. We drove to Port Orleans and found their room without a problem. They had two connecting rooms. Alise and I walked over to the front desk to pick up the Hoop Dee Doo Review tickets. The CM was very nice but rather slow. Since I was going to pay for two adults tickets and Alise was going to pay for the rest (3 adults, 1 child, 1 infant); she was having trouble adding it up. My share came to $74.11.

Chris, Alise, and the rest of their crew took the Disney bus over to MGM. Paul and I went to Universal Islands of Adventure. We arrived around 6pm. We went on the Hulk Coaster. We waited for the first row. If we wanted any other row, we would have been on sooner, but we like the front row so waited about 15 minutes for it. This is my favorite roller coaster. It's quick and flips and turns a lot; but it is a very smooth ride and your head doesn't get banged around. We went to Spiderman next and waited about 20 minutes. This is a great ride - the effects are fabulous.

Paul was in the mood for ice cream since everyone we passed seemed to be eating some. So we picked up one of the special sundae cones that the ice cream place was selling. It was vanilla/chocolate swirl ice cream with chocolate syrup, crushed malt ball, whipped cream, and a cherry in a waffle cone. I helped Paul eat this.

We walked over to the Pteradon Flyers since we didn't ride these last time we were here so I wanted to this time. It turns out you cannot ride unless you are with a child. Seems kind of silly to me - but we weren't able to ride.

The park was closing at 8 and we didn't want to get stuck in a mad rush out so we headed over to Suess Landing which wasn't that crowded and rode the Caro-Suessel (a merry go round with Suess characters) then the Cat in the Hat in quick succession.

It was about 7:45 so we figured we better head out so we made our way back to the car. It's a long haul back to the parking garage.

We drove to MGM next. We got a great parking space - right behind the bus row. It was about 8:45 by the time we made it into MGM. We called Chris & Alise to let them know we were there (since we were going to try to meet up with them). Unfortunately, we weren't able to reach them. We ended up leaving them a message at their room.

We headed over to Fantasmic and once again it was standing room only. I wanted to see it so we stayed and stood for the show. We both enjoyed it.

On the way out we stopped at Guest Services and called Chris & Alise again. They were in their room already and asked us to come by to pick them up in 1/2 hour - they were putting their kids to sleep. Alise's mother was going to watch the kids so Chris & Alise could come out with us. We picked them up and headed back to Vistana first where Paul and I munched on our leftovers and showed them our timeshare. We had a message from Vistana saying there was a problem with the water and it may need to be shut off between 11:30pm and 6am tomorrow. I guess it makes sense to do this when they expect most people to be sleeping but it would be an inconvenience for me when we get home tonight and I have to use bottled water to brush my teeth and wash my face. I pushed the button to speak to someone about this who basically just apologized and said if we needed water they would bring us bottled water. Not necessary, but I guess I won't be jumping in the Jacuzzi when we get back tonight. He also said it wasn't definite that the water would be shut, but they wanted to let us know just in case.

Then we headed over to Pleasure Island. We got there about 11:30 so got in line for the 12:05 Comedy Warehouse show. While waiting we saw the New Year's Eve show (it's a new one from the last time I saw it). The Comedy Warehouse show was very funny. When it ended Chris & Alise were exhausted and wanted to get back to their room.

We dropped them off then drove back to Vistana. The water was working without a problem. Did we meet the tentative plan? We did everything except dinner at Margaritaville. We had a huge lunch with leftovers so ate that for dinner.

Tuesday 5/16/00
Tentative Plan: Animal Kingdom, Paul - computer animation class at Disney Institute, Hoop Dee Doo Review

I didn't wake Paul too early since he still hasn't caught up on his sleep. I waited until about 10:15 and Paul woke up on his own (that's a surprise - I usually have to drag him out of bed). We had breakfast in the timeshare - bacon & eggs.

We stopped at the outlet stores on 535 because I had to return the gym bra I bought in Reebok the other day. I took care of that then stopped in the Jockey outlet quickly to buy some underwear.

We arrived at Epcot around 12 noon.

Test Track had a 2 hour wait so we didn't even go over there. We've been on it before and knew we could probably come back later. If the line doesn't go down we can always do either fastpass or the singles line.

We went to Honey I shrunk the Audience and walked right in. It was pretty crowded and the audience really was into it - everyone was screaming. It was a lot of fun. We walked over to World Showcase next because I wanted to take pictures of some of the special topiaries they have for the Flower & Garden show. It's not that I'm a big flower buff, but I like to see and/or take pictures of things that aren't normally there.

We walked through Canada and ended up seeing the O'Canada movie. This was the first time we've seen it. We also looked at the menu for Le Cellier to see if we wanted to eat there. It looked very good so we may try to.

We went into the Millenium Village next. Last time we were here they had some special show that lit up each of the countries in the first room and they didn't let you in to the rest of the exhibits until you watched that "pre-show". This time that was eliminated and you were able to walk right in.

We walked through the season eggs in Sweden then to the Isreal ride. We stopped at the snacks around the world food area and bought an empanada and Japanese rice pudding. The empanada was good; the rice cream was terrible (it had uncooked pieces of rice in it).

Next we continued walking around the World Showcase and stopping in each of the countries to look for the special topiaries. In England we found Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore characters (not topiaries) so we took pictures with them.

We drove over to the Beaches & Cream at the Beach Club for a late lunch around 4:30. I had the single cheeseburger with fries and soda. Paul had the cheese steak sandwich with onion rings and soda. We ended up sharing both of the sandwiches. We really enjoy this place. The bill with tax and tip came out to $24. We walked around the Beach Club a little.

We went back to Vistana around 6:30. Paul and I both had messages from our respective offices. We took care of the work business.

We spoke to Chris & Alise to find out how they spent their day - also at Epcot and to make plans for meeting up to get to Hoop Dee Doo Review tonight.

Paul and I ended up picking them up at Port Orleans. It was a tight squeeze trying to get Paul & I, as well as Chris, Alise, Alise's mother, two kids and a stroller into our little convertible. But we managed. Good thing it was a quick trip - it was rather uncomfortable. Paul drove and Chris was in the front seat. Alise's mother had Haley on her lap, Alise had Danny on her lap, and I was wedged in the corner. But we made it there safe and sound. We arrived at Fort Wilderness around 8:30 and had plenty of time before the show. We walked to the petting zoo but there wasn't any lights so it was hard to see the animals. We took our group pictures - one of just me & Paul, one of all of us, and one of Chris & Alise's family only. Paul and I bought the one of us - it came out cute. Alise bought the whole group one since her kids weren't looking at the camera in the other one.

We had a great table - on the first floor, second row from the stage. I was pleasantly surprised by this since I only made the reservation in February.

Hoop Dee Doo Review was fun. The food served was bread with sweet butter, salad, corn, beans, fried chicken, and ribs. For dessert they served strawberry shortcake. I know you don't go to these shows for the food, but the chicken was very good although the ribs were kind of dry. After the show, there were buses to take people back to the various Disney resorts direct from Pioneer Hall (where Hoop Dee Doo Review was held) so Chris & Alise and their family jumped on the Port Orleans bus. Paul and I took the Chip or Dale bus back to the parking lot and drove back to Vistana.

Did we meet the tentative plan? No, except for Hoop Dee Doo Review.

Wednesday 5/17/00
Tentative Plan: Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace for lunch

Spoke to the people in my office again this morning.

Let Paul sleep a little late again since he was up until 3am working. Even on vacation, he was working. He brought his laptop with him. It's good for me since I can type the trip report as we go.

We arrived at Magic Kingdom around 11:45.

We went to the 12pm show at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon Revue. This is the first time either of us saw this. We found seats on the upper level along the railing. The show was very cute - same type of humor as Hoop Dee Doo Review last night. The show lasted for approximately 45 minutes. I didn't expect it to be that long.

We went to the Haunted Mansion next with about a 5 minute wait. It looks like they've updated some of the rooms because there were things I've never noticed before.

After Haunted Mansion we headed over to Crystal Palace where we were meeting Chris, Alise, and their family for our character lunch at 1:30. We had a 2pm priority seating but figured we'd meet at 1:30. We saw the end of the Everyday's a Holiday show while waiting. We were seated a few minutes after 2. The food was very good. The characters all came by and we took pictures with them. I think I enjoyed this more than the children did.

We all went to the Legend of the Lion King show that started at 3:50. Everyone enjoyed this. Even Paul who decided to take a nap.

We went on Small World next. This is the longest I've seen this line in a long time. We waited about 15 minutes for this.

We went to the Galaxy Palace Theatre in TomorrowLand to see the 5:15 DisneyMania show. Once again, I enjoyed the show more than the children. I guess they're too young to appreciate everything. Paul and Chris went to Alien Encounter and Space Mountain while the rest of us stayed for the show.

We went on Buzz Lightyear next. The ride broke down in one of the rooms. I'm not good at video games and only ended up with about 31,000 points; Paul, on the other hand, had 410,000 points. We all went on the Tea Party next. Paul sometimes spins the cups too fast, which I don't enjoy. If he spins the cups not to crazy I like this ride.

Next we went into Mickey's Toontown Fair. I wanted to go on Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster. Even though it's a kid coaster I wanted to try it. Now was the perfect time since there were kids in our group. It was really short but cute.

We (except for Paul) waited to see Mickey Mouse in his tent. I'm the one who really wanted to do this. I was a little upset that Paul decided not to wait on line with us for this. This was the longest wait of the day - about 45 minutes.

We went on the Walt Disney World Railroad and made a compete circle around the park getting off back in Mickey's Toontown Fair. The kids played in the playground for a little while. We all went into FantasyLand and rode the Carousel.

By now it was almost time for the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks. So we made our way to the front of the castle. Surprisingly, we found a decent spot to watch from. This was the first time I saw Tinkerbell. The fireworks were good.

Getting out afterwards was a mob scene. It took us until 10pm to get into our car (had to take the boat to the TTC, then a tram to our car) and we left the Magic Kingdom around 9:15. When we got in the car we went the wrong way on I4 and had to turn around.

We were suddenly hungry so Paul cooked (burnt) the frozen pizza we bought. It was still pretty good. It was pretty funny that Paul burnt the frozen pizza since he's a very good cook. At home, he does most of the cooking. If it's left to me, we eat frozen pizza, TV dinners, or pasta.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

Thursday 5/18/00
Tentative Plan: Magic Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Cinderella breakfast in the castle

I called work again this morning and spent about 1/2 an hour helping to solve some problems. We had a priority seating for Cinderella's Breakfast in the Castle with the Princesses for 9:50am. We left around 8:45 and drove to the Magic Kingdom. We met Chris, Alise, Joan, Haley, and Danny in front of the castle.

We were seated by 10am. This is definitely a breakfast geared towards little girls. The fairy godmother was in the lobby to take pictures with you. Then once you were seated the following characters came around: Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Prince Charming. They basically would go to the children for pictures and/or autographs and assumed the parents would just take pictures.

The food was pretty bad - but I guess you don't go here for the food. The meal started off OK with a basket of croissants and muffins and a plate of cut up fresh fruit. The meal itself consisted of runny eggs, nasty sausages, weird potatoes, OK bacon, and these fried cream filled things (kind of like a zeppole),. I would have had a bowl of cereal before leaving Vistana if I knew how bad the meal would be. There were two choices for breakfast the traditional (which is what we all got) and the Healthy (which consisted of fruit, yogurt, and Muesli). I probably should have tried the healthy one - you can't mess up fruit and yogurt. Like I said to Paul - this is something we never have to do again, unless we have a little girl at some point in the future and she's into the princesses.

We were done with breakfast by 11am. Breakfast cost $37 with tax and tip. Chris & Alise & family used their flex feature so their breakfast was free. I guess it wasn't really free since they paid for it with their package for the room.

We all went on Peter Pan next with about a 15 minute wait. We were planning to go on Winnie the Pooh but the wait was over 40 minutes long and fast pass is no longer available here (it's down for rehab).

We went to AdventureLand next. We wanted to go on Pirates of the Caribbean but it wasn't working. It's slow going traveling around the parks with kids - you constantly have to stop for various reasons. We ended up getting fast passes for the Jungle Cruise which were good from 2:30 - 3:30.

We went over to TomorrowLand next. We all went on Carousel of Progress. Both kids and Paul fell asleep in this. Paul always wants to go on this since he finds it a good napping spot. They didn't want to wake the kids when the ride ended so Alise & I went on Alien while everyone else watched the kids while they slept. Before going on Alien, we had to stop to get Joan (Alise's mother) a hotdog then bring her back to where everyone else was waiting. I've seen this before so wasn't scared. There were a bunch of teenage girls screaming their heads off. I think it was more because they enjoyed screaming than that they were really that scared. When we all met up again, it was about time for our fastpass on the Jungle Cruise so we made our way back to AdventureLand. The Magical Moments Parade was going on so we had to wait for it to finish to get to the other side. We made it over to Jungle Cruise and got right on our boat. The kids were still sleeping.

We stopped for a dole float on the way past the dole whip stand. The line moved very slowly. When it was my turn I asked for a dole float (pineapple juice topped with some dole whip). While waiting the workers were fussing with one of the machines. They made a regular dole whip out of it. Paul asked the cashier if that was the test one since they just did something to the machine. She said yes - did we want it so she gave it to us for free. The lady behind me on line seemed a little annoyed and said "I was going to order one of those." So I told her that they would make her a new one. The lady on line behind me was getting on my nerves the whole time we were waiting. She didn't understand the concept of personal space and kept standing practically on top of me.

We headed out of Magic Kingdom at this point. Our plan was to go to MGM for a while then have dinner at the Cape May Café. Paul got the car and drove it to the Beach Club. I took the Disney bus with the rest of the group to the Beach Club to meet Paul. Once we all met up at the Beach Club we took the boat to MGM.

When we got to MGM we split up again. Chris, Joan, and the kids went to see the Little Mermaid. Paul, Alise, and I went to Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster. The Tower of Terror said there was a 10 minute wait but we walked right into the library. This was fun. Rock N Roller Coaster had about a 15 minute wait. We got fastpasses so Chris could ride when he met us then we waited on the standby line. We even waited for the front row. Paul went on a car ahead of us. Alise and I went on the following car - also in the front seat. This was very fun - I think it was a little too intense for Alise.

When we got off Chris, Joan, and the kids were already there. Chris & Paul went back on Rock N Roller Coaster. We were starting to get hungry and were trying to figure out the best way to get a few more things in before going to eat.

We ended up splitting up again. Chris went on Rock N Roller Coaster by himself. Paul and Joan took the kids to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. Alise and I went on Star Tours. We were all to meet at the playground.

We all met up and Chris & Alise decided they were tired and didn't want to go out to Cape May Café because they just wanted something quick and wanted to give the kids baths and get them to bed. So they took the bus back to Port Orleans.

Paul and I went to the Beach Club and had dinner at the Cape May Café. We always enjoy this place. As usual, I ate more from the children's buffet than the adult one. Dinner with tax and tip was $53.

When we got back to Vistana, there were a few messages. One of them was from Vistana telling us about special extended stay rates. If we want to stay longer we can stay in a 1 bedroom condo for $103 a night or a 2 bedroom condo for $153 a night. Our current plan is to check out on Sunday and check into Disney's Boardwalk - which will cost us approximately $300 a night. I like trying the different Disney resorts but it would be nice not to have to pack up and move. I wonder if we'd be able to stay in the condo we're in if we decided to extend. Maybe we'll look into this. If we can stay in the same condo it's worth it - if we have to move anyway, I'd rather move to Disney. Paul didn't want to do it. He said "You like trying the different Disney Resorts". I'm glad he made that point - it's true, I enjoy our time at the Disney Hotels.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes, with the exception of skipping Typhoon Lagoon

Friday 5/19/00
Tentative Plan: Blizzard Beach, Magic Kingdom

We ate breakfast in Vistana. Paul ate a toaster pizza, I had cereal.

We picked up Chris from Port Orleans. Alise, their children, and her mother were planning to stay at Port Orleans in the pool today relaxing so Chris was going to come run around with me & Paul. When we first got to Port Orleans, they were having a crisis - Haley was having a tantrum and Chris was debating whether or not he should leave and have fun with us. After a little while, Haley calmed down and Chris left with us.

Our first stop was Epcot so we could go on Test Track. We went in the single rider line and were in the car within 5 minutes. We were each one car behind each other.

We drove over to Typhoon Lagoon. Paul doesn't like to run around and up all the stairs for the different slides. He prefers to hang out in the lazy river or the wave pool. Usually I run around by myself for a while and leave Paul in the lazy river. He ends up feeling guilty and usually joins me on some of the slides. So this worked out for all of us. Paul gets to hang out in the lazy river; Chris gets to see all the slides; I have someone to run around with. It wasn't crowded at all. In 1 1/2 hours Chris & I went on every single slide/tube ride/swam with the sharks. The only things we didn't do was go on the family raft ride because there was a line and we were hoping when we met up with Paul we'd all go on this one together. We also didn't go in the lazy river. We even checked out the Children's area (Ketchakiddie Creek) to see if Chris thought his children would enjoy it. Chris went to a class on Disney before our trip and the lady teaching it told him not to take the children to the water parks. Meanwhile, it was really nice and his children would definitely like it. We hung out in the wave pool (our meeting spot with Paul). Chris swam out to the rope where the wave starts.

When Paul met us, he had a great idea. Since we managed to get all the rides in already, why not head over to Blizzard Beach so Chris gets to see both parks. So we got our stuff together and left.

We decided to have lunch first at Beaches & Cream at the Yacht & Beach Club. Paul had the Double cheeseburger, onion rings, sunshine (like creamsicle); I had the single cheeseburger, fries, and sprite; Chris had the single cheeseburger, fries, chocolate ice cream soda, and coke. The total with tax and tip came out to $34.10 for the 3 of us.

Then we headed over to Blizzard Beach. It was much more crowded here than at Typhoon Lagoon. Chris went on Summit Plummit. I don't like this one so I watched. Then we went on the curvy slide down the mountain on the mats (not the one that goes down with a few dips but the one that twists and turns). We also went on the Downhill Double Dipper - I was shot off my tube on this one. Then we went on the Enclosed Tube Slide which I really like. We took the Lazy River around to try to find the front of the park since it was past the time to meet Paul already. Since the park was so crowded we didn't get to try everything.

We drove back to Port Orleans to drop Chris off and ended up hanging out for a while. We went to Disney Marketplace to World of Disney to do some shopping. Getting there was interesting. We planned to take the boat but didn't all fit on the one that was leaving. We didn't want to wait 20 minutes for the next one so we all squished into the convertible. Luckily it's a short ride. We did a whole bunch of shopping (amazing since Paul and I were just here for New Year's). Chris & Alise did tons of shopping. Since I didn't have my MKC cards with me, Chris charged our purchases to get the discount with his card.

After shopping we dropped them off at Port Orleans and went back to Vistana to shower and change. I still can't find my MKC cards.

We drove back to Port Orleans to pick up Chris & Alise. Alise's mother was watching the kids, so the four of us went out to dinner at Wolfgang Puck. We had the Calamari appetizer. Paul and Alise both had the Chicken Pad Thai; I had the Spaggetini with seared shrimp; Chris had the Salmon pizza. Alise had to send her Pad Thai back because it was too spicy for her. The total with tax and tip came to $90 (or $45 per couple).

Did we meet the tentative plan? We changed our plans but made it to Blizzard Beach

Saturday 5/20/00
Tentative Plan: MGM, Dinner at Emeril's, Pleasure Island

Paul and I went to the Flamingo Café at Vistana for breakfast around 10:45am. They had a buffet for $6.95 per person which wasn't a traditional buffet but they bring you a huge basket of food with a variety of things in it. The buffet had scrambled eggs, french toast, pancakes, bacon, english muffins, and fruit. The total after beverages, tax, and tip came to $21.64. We headed over to Animal Kingdom after breakfast.

We went into Tough to Be a Bug. We both enjoyed this. The 3D effects worked well today. Last time we saw this it was fuzzy.

Then we walked over to Camp Minnie Mickey and walked right into the 1:15 Festival of the Lion King show. This is such an impressive show.

We walked over to DinoLand planning to ride Countdown to Extinction which has been renamed Dinosaur but there was an hour wait and fastpass wasn't good for another hour. We didn't feel like waiting and it was very hot.

Paul didn't want to walk all the way to Africa to go on the Safari. He was very tired today. I don't know why since he got a decent night's sleep last night. He keeps telling me I'm running him ragged.

Paul doesn't really like Animal Kingdom that much. He would have been perfectly happy to skip it completely but I wanted to go there for a little while.

So we left Animal Kingdom and drove over to Epcot. It was about 3pm when we got to Epcot. We went on Spaceship Earth without a wait. Paul took a nap in here. I like this ride. Even though we've seen it numerous times, I still enjoy it. We spent a while in the Global neighborhood playing with the various attractions there.

Then we went into Innoventions. We sent a few e-mail postcards, had a calendar with our picture made, and played with some of the computers.

It was about 4:30 now and we were hungry since we haven't had lunch yet. We walked over to Canada and right into Le Cellier without a wait. The funny thing was we were here for a late lunch meanwhile, it was the dinner menu and everyone else was eating an early dinner. We shared the Cheddar Cheese soup for an appetizer. The waitress split it into two little cups for us. Paul found a piece of plastic in his. It was good but I don't know if I'd order it again - it was so heavy. The breadsticks (especially the pretzel one) were delicious. I ordered the mushroom stuffed filet mignon. Paul had the prime rib. Lunch with tax and tip came out to $63.64.

Paul's stomach was upset after our lunch and he was tired so we decided to go back to Vistana. On the way out we bought these wooden wind things that Paul liked the last time we passed them. They were part of the flower & garden festival going on at Epcot.

We came back to Vistana where Paul promptly fell asleep on the couch. I did another load of laundry so all of our clothes will be clean when we move to Disney's Boardwalk tomorrow. I prefer staying at a Disney Hotel prior to our timeshare stay but it didn't work out that way this time. I also started getting our clothes together to pack later. I'm going to put the things I expect us to wear in the carry ons and everything else in the big suitcase - that way we won't have to unpack (or even open) the big suitcase once we're at the Boardwalk.

We picked up Chris and Alise and drove over to Universal City Walk where we had 9:30 dinner reservations at Emeril's. Alise's mother was watching the kids again tonight. We had the special crab cakes for an appetizer. Paul had the lobster special which was a 2 pound lobster stuffed with shrimp; I had a shrimp dish; Chris had one of the fish specials - Swordfish I think; Alise had the pork chops. I wasn't thrilled with my meal. Everyone else really liked their meals. For dessert we all shared the crème brulee trio. Dinner was $205 with tax and tip. Since Paul had the lobster which was $50 alone, Paul and I paid $115 while Chris and Alise paid $80.

We valet parked the car which Emeril's no longer validates for dinner so it cost us $16 or so to park.

Paul and I wanted to go to Pleasure Island but Chris & Alise were tired and wanted to go back to Port Orleans.

We dropped them off at Port Orleans then ended up going back to Vistana.

Did we meet the tentative plan? We changed the plans again, but had dinner at Emeril's as planned

Sunday 5/21/00
Tentative Plan: Check out Vistana; Check in Disney's Boardwalk

Today we had to check out of Vistana by 10am. We checked out about 10:15.

We drove to Disney's Boardwalk and did pre-check in since the room wasn't ready yet. We left the luggage with bell services. I like the way Disney does their pre-check in. You receive your room cards and just have to call back later to find out if your room is ready and they give you the room number then. They also activate your cards without you having to return to the front desk.

We took the boat to MGM. It's very nice to take the boat to MGM but it's a very slow boat. It also stops at the Yacht & Beach club; then the Swan/Dolphin before making it's way over to MGM. So the ride takes about 25 minutes. Unfortunately, on the way back from MGM it goes in reverse - Swan/Dolphin; Yacht & Beach; then the Boardwalk so we were the first ones on the boat and the last ones off. It does the opposite on the boat ride to Epcot so that way we are the last on and the first off.

We stopped at Guest Services and made a priority seating for lunch at Mama Melrose for 2pm. We also made a priority seating for O'Hana at 8:20pm.

We went to the Little Mermaid show. I think this is so cute.

Then we went into the Disney Animation show. While waiting on line we started talking to this couple from Louisiana. This made the time go quickly.

I've noticed that the attractions seem more crowded and the lines longer than they did last week. I guess with Memorial Day weekend coming (next weekend) the crowds are picking up. We had lunch at Mama Melrose. The person who seated us was kind of odd. He was walking over to groups of people and whispering "Are you the Chin party?" I happened to over hear him when he asked people next to us so I told him we were the Chin party. Then he says he's been calling us. I told him we've been sitting right there and didn't hear him. Well of course not if he's whispering to other groups. He told us the table would be ready in a few minutes. When we were first seated our waitress ignored us for the first few minutes. Once she finally came over, she was very nice and explained that she was waiting for a customer to pay.

Paul had the grilled chicken pizza and a caesar salad; I had the Orechetta pasta with chicken in a parmesan sauce. We both had soda. Paul's food was OK; mine was very good. As annual passholders, we were both entitled to a free dessert. Paul had the tiramisu; I had the apple cranberry cobbler. My cobbler was a little too tart for me. The total bill with tax and tip was $45.37.

We took the slow boat back to the Boardwalk since Paul wanted to watch a basketball playoff game and get settled into the room. We were in room 4305 which was very nice. It was bigger than I expected. We had a little balcony over looking the front entrance. Paul watched his game. I went to the Luna Park pool which has a great water slide called Keister Coaster. It looks like a roller coaster but is a water slide. It's not very steep but has several twists and turns so it's a lot of fun.

Because we had a pretty big lunch, Paul didn't want to go to O'Hana tonight. So he changed the priority seating to tomorrow at 7pm.

While I was swimming, Paul spoke to Chris & Alise who were planning to go to MGM tonight to see Fantasmic. He said we would try to meet them there.

We took the boat over to MGM around 7:30pm. We went on Tower of Terror with no wait. It was standing room only for Fantasmic. So far, both times we've seen it this trip, we've had to stand. We looked for Chris & Alise but couldn't find them.

After Fantasmic ended we walked over to the Port Orleans bus stop (that's where Chris & Alise would need to go to get back to their hotel) and Paul found them there. They came back to the Boardwalk with us. Paul picked up two slices of pizza at Spoodles window for us to eat for dinner $6.50. It was pretty bad.

We hung out for a little while, but Chris and Alise were tired so we drove them back to Port Orleans.

Now that we are at the Boardwalk the trip report may get a little sketchy. When we were at Vistana the computer was out on the counter so I was easily able to update it as we went. Now that we're at the Boardwalk, it's put away so I'm not being as conscientious about keeping the report up to date.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

Monday 5/22/00
Tentative Plan: Didn't make a tentative plan

I went to the Boardwalk bakery to pick up breakfast. I got Paul the egg, sausage, and cheese on a biscuit and coffee; I got myself a sweet roll and a coke. Paul didn't like his breakfast sandwich. I didn't like my sweet roll because it had almonds and almond paste in it. So I went back to the Boardwalk lobby where they had a breakfast station set up and I got Paul a cheese danish (which I shared with him)

Paul and I took the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom at 9:30am. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad we got to do it. The cost was $45 each. We also get a 20% discount for using American Express so the cost really was $36 each. We met at City Hall with a group of about 15 other people. Personally, I think the group was a little too big to do the tour. Emily from Texas was our tour guide. We started off on Main Street and learned the four Keys (Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency). She pointed out various things on Main Street. We learned about how the theming of the various lands change. We went on the TTA. The highlight of the tour was going into the Utilidors and learning/seeing the employees behind the scenes or "backstage". We had a lunch break in Liberty Square so Paul and I opted for Columbia Harbour House. We shared the fish & chicken combination as well as the clam chowder in the bread bowl. I also picked up a turkey leg for Paul and bottles of soda. I don't really care for fountain soda. Our tour continued after lunch. We took a ride on the Haunted Mansion after learning the story behind it. We also rode Pirates of the Caribbean during the tour. We walked into backstage areas and saw the floats used for the parades. The tour ended by the castle around 2:30pm. It was hot out so we decided to head back to the Boardwalk and go in the pool. We went to the Luna Park pool for a few hours. The slide is so much fun. I enjoyed it more than the slide at the Yacht & Beach club when we stayed there last September.

Before we left for O'Hana for dinner we called the front desk to inquire about a late checkout. I was told we can have the room for free until 1pm. If we wanted to stay later, we would need to pay either 25% of the room rate (until 3pm) or 50% of the room rate (until 5pm). I asked if we needed to decide now. She said she'd put us in until 1pm for free now and if we decide to check out later we can call in the morning.

We had a priority seating at O'Hana at the Polynesian for 7pm. We drove over and valet parked there. This was our first time at O'Hana and we both enjoyed it. They start off by walking you past the area where they cook over the open fire and give you some bread. Once they take your beverage order (we both had soda) they brought us each a pitcher of our respective sodas. I really like when they do that so I don't have to look for the waiter when I want a refill. Although I have to say many of the waiters have refilled my soda before I asked. They start off by bringing you salad, spring rolls, and shui mai (kind of like a dumpling) with various dipping sauces (a mustard one, a mango one, and a sesame one). The next course they brought was lo mein and salmon and vegetables. They didn't remove the previous course and would bring more of anything you needed. The main course was next. They walk over to the table and your meat comes off these long skewers - sausage, steak, chicken, and shrimp. This also they kept coming by to give you more of it if you wanted. The only thing we requested more of was the shrimp. For dessert, they brought over pineapple with a caramel dipping sauce.

Since there is some rehabilitation going on at the Polynesian - although we were sitting next to a window it was totally obstructed so we had a view of cardboard if we looked out. During dinner, there was a lot of audience participation for children. There were coconut races and a song (Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes) which was done in Hawaiian. The host said they were going to play a game called "Memory Monday" where they'd ask a couple to talk about the most memorable moment of the trip. It was a set up because the couple they chose - the guy proposed. It was so sweet.

We were in O'Hana for a while. I wanted to get to Epcot to see Illuminations tonight. We drove back to the Boardwalk and walked over towards Epcot. We stopped before we got there and watched the fireworks from the bridge (along with a bunch of other people). We didn't see everything but were able to see a lot of it (and didn't have to fight huge crowds.)

Did we meet the tentative plan? We didn't have one.

Tuesday 5/23/00
Tentative Plan: Didn't make a tentative plan

Paul and I took the MGM boat over to the Beach Club to have breakfast at Cape May Café - it's a character breakfast with Goofy, Chip, and Dale. We had breakfast here when we stayed at the Beach Club in October 99 and enjoyed it. We decided it would be a nice last breakfast to have (especially after our experience yesterday with the Boardwalk bakery). Breakfast was good and we took pictures with the different characters.

We went back to the Boardwalk and decided we'd pay the extra 25% room charge to be able to check out at 3pm. We wanted to go to the Luna Park Pool for a while. Although we can shower and change at the health club if we checked out and stored our luggage, I prefer to do all that in our room before we check out while I have the toiletries unpacked. I called the front desk to tell them and the person who answered told me that we had to leave by 1pm. I explained to him that I spoke to someone else yesterday with this request and was told I can call in the morning if I wanted to extend check out. He wasn't able to figure it out so I asked to speak to his manager or someone else who could help me. Wouldn't you know it - he suddenly was able to extend our check out.

The check out dilemma settled, we went to the Luna Park Pool. I didn't bother putting on any sunscreen today (I've been wearing SPF 30 the whole trip up until now). In the few hours we were at the pool, I managed to get some color. My shoulders and face were kind of burnt. We had a great time. We went on the Keister Coaster (slide) so many times. I think this is my favorite Disney Resort Pool.

After playing in the pool, we showered, changed and checked out (storing our luggage with bell services). We then took the boat to MGM. We went on the Backstage tour. We stopped at Pizza Planet and shared a pizza. We may have saw one or two other things that I don't remember. We called the Boardwalk from Guest Services at MGM because we were running late to get to the airport and asked them to pull the car around and load the luggage for us. When we got there, the car was there but the luggage wasn't in it. Bell services came right out and loaded it up for us.

Our flight was at 7:30 and we arrived at the airport at 7:15. I thought for sure we'd miss our flight.

We returned the rental car. We didn't wait for the guy to come do whatever they normally do. He said he can mail us the receipt if we didn't need it that minute. That was fine. We ran into the terminal and onto line. We checked our bags (which were marked late check in) and had to run to our gate. We just made it. We were the last ones to board the plane. The flight home was pretty uneventful. It was a bigger plane than going down. We still had the two seats by themselves but there was a center section with 4 seats, then another row of two seats on the other side. They had a TV which didn't show a movie but showed "Friends" and another comedy show which I watched.

We landed on time and picked up our luggage. Paul called one of his company cars to pick us up and they were there waiting.

We left 90 degrees in Florida and came home to rain and 50 degrees. We were freezing when we went outside.

Did we meet the tentative plan? We didn't have one.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We had a great time. As many times as I go to Disney, there is always more I want to see. The Keys to the Kingdom tour was really enjoyable. This was a good time of year to go. As it got closer to Memorial Day it started to get a little too crowded but prior to that, crowds were at a good level. The parks were open late enough that we didn't feel too rushed.

In the past, we've usually charged most everything (like meals in restaurants) on the trip on American Express then just paid it off when the bill came. This time, we took more cash with us and paid for most of our meals that way. It was harder to keep track of since I didn't have a receipt but nicer not to have a big American Express bill coming.

Paul and I need to learn to pack a little lighter. Especially in the timeshare which has a washer and dryer. As it was, I was doing laundry often and we could have gotten by with half the amount of clothes we packed. I guess it's better to have it and not use it than want to wear something and not have it.

Paul I seem to have trouble keeping normal meal times. Maybe it's because at home we usually don't eat dinner until about 9pm. Next time we'll try a little harder to eat at regular hours. Time to start thinking about the next Disney Trip.

Noreen Chin

Noreen.s.chin@citigroup.com


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