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Roseanne McKeever -- September 2000 -- Walt Disney World (PR)


When I asked Roseanne for permission to "feature" this trip report, she responded with the following note:

Brian,

We would be thrilled to have you include our wedding planning trip report as a special feature. I know that we searched on-line for any and all references to Disney's Fairy Tale wedding department when we first started planning my daughter's wedding. There are some great wedding reviews on Andrea's Unofficial Disney Wedding site (www.getawayweddings.com) but we didn't know what to expect of the planning process...

Roseanne

By the way, if you want to read about the wedding itself, make sure to drop a line to Roseanne at romckeev@aol.com to let her know that you want to read it!   ;)


September 23-26, 2000

The Cast:

  • Me - Ro - forty-something mom of the fairy tale princess, has been to WDW 19 times since 1983, usually with my daughter and sometimes with other family and friends; we almost ALWAYS stay at the Polynesian Resort
  • DD - my 23 year old daughter, has been to WDW 20 times and will be married at the Polynesian Resort next May
  • F-S-I-L - my 23 year old future son-in-law, his fourth WDW trip, and the third traveling with DD

Planning

This is the wedding planning trip. The Fairy Tale couple got engaged last September, and by the beginning of this year they had contacted Disney's Fairy Tales Wedding department to start planning their fairy tale event. The wedding plans started out small - around 35 guests - but that number has more than doubled as family and friends started thinking about a WDW wedding and vacation. The wedding will be based at the Polynesian Resort, so we planned a short trip this September to meet with the wedding coordinators and revisit some of the event sites in person. We'll be staying in Hawaii, the Polynesian concierge building, and are arriving on a Saturday morning and leaving Tuesday night. We anticipate that some of our time will be spent 'wedding planning' and we may not have as much time as we'd like to visit the parks. We'll be flying in on US Airways and have contacted Tiffany Towncar for transportation (and a local limo service for transportation to Philadelphia.) We've made some priority seating arrangements using the concierge questionnaire we received about six weeks before our trip.

We had a Magic Kingdom Club rate, but when the AP rates were announced in June, I cancelled the first reservation and made one in the DD's name (she has the AP), saving over $70 per night!

On Sunday, August 27, Rosemarie from the concierge team called to confirm the priority seatings we had requested. She made all of our arrangements except for the Brown Derby with Fantasmic seating - she said they would be able to make that one for us seven days before our arrival. Also, during the last week of August I saw posts on several bulletin boards (AOL and the DIS) that the e-night had been switched from Tuesday, September 26 (the night we leave) to Monday, September 25! That SAME week we received notification from the royal couple's Fairy Tale sales manager that their wedding contract was being sent, and the wedding arrangements that we have been discussing for months were finally confirmed! We made an appointment to meet with the sales manager at the Wedding Pavilion on Monday, September 23. We would also be meeting the wedding event manager at that time.

So - we have our airline tickets, airport transportation, room reserved, park tickets and a forecast for hot and sunny weather for four days. On with the show!

Day 1 - Saturday, September 23

The alarm DIDN'T go off!! DD had set her alarm, so that she could get up first and walk Chance, and at 5:10 FSIL called me and said that the alarm hadn't gone off. Since our Friends Limousine driver was due at 6:00 am, there was quite a bit of scurrying going on Saturday morning. Everyone got ready in record time, Friends was there as scheduled at 6, and we arrived at Philadelphia International airport about an hour before our 8:05 flight. Our flight boarded on time, but we sat in the plane for about an hour before we were able to take off. There was a signal light that needed to be replaced under the plane, and when that was done there were additional delays because of diverted air traffic in the south due to remnants of hurricane Helene. We were finally under way and arrived in Orlando at a little after 11 am. Isabelle from Tiffany Town Cars was waiting at the bottom of the escalator, and we were on our way to the Polynesian in no time.

Aloha! How wonderful it always is to pull up to that tropical paradise! We noticed right away that it was REALLY hot, and we were glad to be promptly driven over to the Hawaii building to check in. Our room wasn't ready yet, but the bell man arranged to leave our suitcases in the closet, and left us at the front door of Hawaii. Nina checked us in, gave us our flower leis, made a few changes to our priority seatings for us, and sold us E-night tickets for Monday night. Since the room wasn't ready, we decided to have our traditional first lunch, and headed over to the Great Ceremonial House and Kona Kafe. DD and I decided to split the beef teriyaki salad (it was huge and plenty for two) and FSIL had an order of island wings, which he and DD also shared. DD and FSIL also shared a frozen Kona cappuccino. We made sure to save room for dessert - and soon feasted our eyes on the ultimate - 4 luscious crème puffs filled with chocolate mousse, covered with butter crème icing, drizzled with chocolate - KoKo Puffs!! This sinful dessert has also become a first lunch tradition!

After lunch we stopped back at the concierge desk to get our room assignment - room 1519. This room was the LAST room all the way down the hall on the first floor, with a garden view and a lovely patio. We noticed that there were no robes left for us, but luckily that had been remedied by the time we came back that evening. We quickly unpacked and headed off to the Great Ceremonial House to catch the two monorail ride to Epcot. We noticed that there were quite a few 'love bugs' at the monorail station, but we only waited and few minutes for monorail green to arrive, so we didn't think too much of it. (But would later!) Once at Epcot, DD stopped at Guest Services to activate her annual pass (renewed in June 1999), and a cast member 'earning her ears' took care of her. Before we walked away however, she looked at the new pass and saw that the expiration date was June 00. It only took another minute to correct this, and she was issued a new pass effective through September 23, 2001.

It was just after 4:30 pm, and before we entered the park, I stopped at a pin station to look for a Lumiere pin for a friend. The cast member was helpful - she didn't have one in stock but remembered seeing them at Mouse Gears and Millenium Central. There was NO line at Spaceship Earth as we entered the park, so we walked up the entrance, and we stopped - and waited. The ride was down for about 10 minutes, so our 'no wait' turned into a short wait. However, we were soon boarded and making our way to the top of this Epcot landmark. When we finished we headed to Millenium Central, and I found the Lumiere pin for my friend, and a few Epcot 2000 ones for me. (A note about pin trading - we didn't see too many guests wearing pins, but there were always people at the various pin carts in the parks and resorts. Also, I decided before I left home that I wouldn't make a very good trader - I have lots of pins I've bought over the years, and many of the Disney Store pins that I bought - but I couldn't bear to part with any of them. I guess that's what happens if you only buy what you really like!)

Anyway, on to Journey into your Imagination. I can't think of anything to add that hasn't already been said about this ride - they got rid of cute little Figment for THAT??? We exited the ride, wandered through Image Works, and left the building through the gift shop - where Figment could be found everywhere! We took a Friendship over to Morocco, to spend a little time at World Showcase before our 7:00 pm dinner. We paused to watch a Living Statue outside of France - he was amazing, and funny and we were extremely impressed - especially considering that he was performing in 90 plus degree temperatures. He performed best with a little boy - probably about 5 years old - when the statue appeared to 'fall' over onto him. The little boy did his best to push him back upright, but finally said 'help' in a small voice. The statue let him know that all was well, played with him a little while, then lifted him about 6 inches off of the ground for a few moments. Another 'help' and he was set free - he gave the statue a big smile and the crowd applauded.

We then headed into the Impressions de France movie - we hadn't seen this since DD was quite young, and we were all impressed by the stirring music and beautiful scenery of France. After we left the movie, I suggested we get dinner from the Patisserie but no one else went for this plan. We wandered over to the Millenium Village and walked through, but I hurried DD and FSIL along because it was nearly time for the 6:30 Tapestry of Nations parade, and we wanted to watch it near Morocco so we could easily make our 7:00 pm dinner seating. We stopped in the legendary Mill-Vill restrooms on our way out - they are HUGE! We stopped and bought two glasses of wine on our way through France, and settled in near the railing by Morocco to watch our first Tapestry of Nations. What can I say - it was spectacular! The stirring music, the beautiful and colorful costumes and the enthusiasm of the cast members all make Tapestry one of Disney's finest parades. The puppets shook hands or bowed down to each child along the parade route, and posed for our cameras. We took lots of pictures to share with family members and friends who will be joining us next May for DD and FSIL's wedding, and we all agreed we are thrilled that they will be able to still see this parade next year.

Immediately after Tapestry, it was time for our priority seating at Restaurant Marrakech. We were seated promptly, and decided to share the Combination Appetizer. We each received a Beef Brewat Roll (kind of like beef filled egg rolls sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar), some of Jasmina's salad, and a Chicken Batilla (pastry stuffed with chicken and almonds, also sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar). These appetizers were excellent! We barely had room for our main meals - DD had Lemon Chicken, FSIL had Roast Lamb Meshoui, and I had Brochette of Chicken, which was marinated chicken pieces cooked on a skewer. We enjoyed the Moroccan musicians and belly dancer, and noticed that the belly dancer only chose women and little girls to join her onstage. We had no room for dessert, and we left the restaurant full but happy after a wonderful meal.

Since it had been a long day, I decided to leave the Fairy Tale couple and head back to the hotel. I caught the last Friendship (they stop running at 8:00 pm) back to Future World, and took some shots of Spaceship Earth at night. I stopped in the Art of Disney store, where I found the book 'One Day at Disney' marked down from $40.00 to $24.95. I also picked up an Art of Disney pin and a Mickey and Minnie magnet for DD and FSIL. I took the monorail back to the TTC, took the walkway back to the Polynesian, and actually got lost! We've been coming here for close to fifteen years, and somehow in the dark and alone I managed to circle around half the resort before finding my way back to Hawaii. (It didn't help that they changed the names of all the buildings last year!) After I found my way, I headed to the concierge lounge to check out the desserts. (I guess the LONG trip back from Epcot worked up an appetite!) I had a banana tart, and some of that great pineapple and caramel sauce that they serve at 'Ohana, and had just filled a tray with cookies for DD and FSIL when they arrived. (They of course thought ALL of those cookies were for me, but I convinced them they were for sharing.) They had walked back from the monorail using the Polynesian walkway, and they had stopped to take a look at the recent changes made to Sunset Pointe. (A paved area and walkway has been added.) They were both worried that the point would be too small for the number of guests we expect at their wedding (around 70), but agreed that we would wait and see what their sales manager Warren would propose at our meeting on Monday. I asked what else they had done at Epcot - they had watched some acrobats in Morocco and the second Tapestry of Nations at 8:10 pm. They had strolled around the rest of World Showcase, and FSIL had stopped and bought some chocolate in Germany. They did not stay for Illuminations 2000, but headed back in time to meet me in the lounge.

We went back to our room, where we found comfy robes and our beds turned down, but no mints on our pillows! DD and FSIL went for a quick swim in the quiet pool, and I made some notes and got ready for bed. Tomorrow morning's MGM!

Day 2 - Sunday, September 24

Mickey called early this morning to tell us 'up and at em'. We had thought about going to Early Entry at MGM, but decided last night that we would prefer not rush in the mornings, just take our time and see what we could. As it turned out, this seems to be a good time of year to visit - we had almost no waits for any rides, and the crowds were light everywhere we went - even Magic Kingdom. We seldom waited more than a few minutes in any line or for any meal. The down side was the heat - the temperature was in the 90's every day. We had a really cool summer this year in New Jersey, and the temperature rarely went into the high eighties, so we just weren't ready for the heat.

DD and I took our time getting ready, while FSIL went for a walk around the Poly, and picked up some breakfast for us in the lounge on his way back. He was ready quickly, and we headed out. On our way to the Great Ceremonial House, we walked over to Sunset Pointe, and saw an intimate wedding - bride and groom, Officiant, Mickey and Minnie and the wedding coordinator. It is a beautiful site, but from where we stood it did look SMALL. We then went over to the Great Ceremonial House to catch the bus to MGM. We arrived there just after 9:00 am, had our picture taken on Hollywood Boulevard, and headed back to Rock n' Roller Coaster. Only FSIL was going to ride (the other two of us are chicken) so he went right up and got a FastPass. He noticed that the stand by line was only 10 minutes, so he decided to ride right away. DD took my pass and her own to get FastPasses for Tower of Terror. (I won't ride that either - BIG chicken.) To get out of the heat, we went into the RnR store and DD bought FSIL a shirt. He was out pretty quickly and they decided to check the stand by line at Tower of Terror. It was only 5 minutes, so I told them I'd meet them at the other end of Sunset Boulevard when they were through, and I proceeded on my own thrilling adventure - shopping. I managed to buy a few things - including a cute sketch for the Fairy Tale couple with Mickey and Minnie, inscribed with 'Every Mickey Needs a Minnie'.

DD and FSIL caught up with me just as I entered the Villains Store, and we decided to stop at Starring Rolls for a more substantial breakfast. DD had a cherry Danish, FSIL had a chocolate chip croissant, and I had a cheese Danish. All were excellent! We headed to the Great Movie Ride, walked right into a tram, and had the gangster side. I always love the movie montage at the end. From there we headed to MuppetVision 3D and arrived less than a minute before show time - missing the entire preshow (to DD's dismay). When did they stop 'handing out' the purple 3D glasses - they were on a self-serve table inside the door? The show was as entertaining as always - gotta love Statler and Waldorf! After Muppets, I went into the Christmas store while DD and FSIL went over to Star Tours. (Did I mention that not only am I chicken, I also get sick on simulator rides??) I did some major credit card damage on ornaments, then DD came in to tell me that there was a 45 minute wait for Star Tours, and the FastPass time was the same time we planned to be watching Indiana Jones. So she left FSIL in Pizza Planet playing video games, and she and I shopped, buying some souvenirs for family members. Five minutes before the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular was scheduled to begin, DD had to coax FSIL out of Pizza Planet. We arrived for the Indy show at 11:44 am, walked right in and were seated in the far right section, half way from the top.

After Indy, we decided we needed a break, so we walked back towards the park entrance through the Hollywood Boulevard shops, stopping to buy DD Tinkerbell pajamas and to pick up two copies of our picture at Cover Story. We caught the bus back to the Polynesian, and arrived there around 1:30 pm. FSIL went straight back to our room to change for the pool, and DD and I stopped at Captain Cook's to share a personal pizza. We stopped in News from Civilization, where we found some beautiful water color prints of the Polynesian Resort, and a Poly bellman Mickey beanbag. When we got back to the room, DD went to join FSIL at the quiet pool, and I lounged in the air conditioning and brought my trip notes up to date. DD and FSIL stopped at Captain Cooks to get FSIL a hot dog on their way back from the pool, and we hung out in the air conditioning for a little while before our plans to go to Downtown Disney for the evening.

As we were relaxing, the clouds that had been threatening for most of the afternoon opened up - and at 4:00 pm it started to POUR. We all agreed that if this wasn't a quick shower, we wouldn't want to go to the MarketPlace or West Side in the rain. We waited for close to an hour, then DD called and made us an 8:00 pm priority seating at 'Ohana. Our new plan was to head to the Magic Kingdom, and as the rain finally stopped as we headed out. We stopped at the concierge lounge on our way to the Great Ceremonial house, and it was Mexican night. We shared a plate of nachos - there was also a casserole and some fresh veggies and cheese. We then headed over to the monorail station. While waiting for the monorail, we tossed a few coins into the Polynesian fountain, and again noticed the love bugs that seemed to be flying and crawling everywhere on the brown wood monorail station. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at around 6:15 pm, and headed straight to the Pirates of the Caribbean. We walked right into a boat - no lines - stopping only to allow a mother (who was forcing her very scared young daughter - around 8 years old onto the ride) enough time to be a boat ahead of us. How sad that was - the poor child was almost hysterical crying - and the mother was just screaming at her. The girl did quiet down once their boat got to the town scene.

Walking through Frontierland, we happened on to a Country Bear Hoe-down live performance with some very energetic dancers, and do-si-doed our way over to the Haunted Mansion. (OK - we didn't do-si-do - but I suggested it!) We walked right into a half empty stretch room, and were soon enjoying the antics of 999 happy haunts. Stopping only to pick up our hitchhiking ghost, we looked for and found the engagement ring, then headed back to Fantasyland and through the castle to Main Street. I stopped to take some castle and Partners pictures, and since it was 7:00 pm (closing time) we joined the crowds headed down Main Street. We stopped and found rocking chairs on the front porch at Tony's, and relaxed waiting for the crowds to diminish.

We caught the monorail back to the Polynesian, and after a short wait we were greeting our cousins at 'Ohana. We shared a feast of open flame cooked beef, turkey, Hawaiian sausages and shrimp. Rounding out the meal were lo mein, spring rolls, dumplings, island salad and mixed vegetables. Dessert was pineapple with the wonderful caramel dipping sauce. Oh - and did I mention we also each had a WONDERFUL fruity melon colada?? DD still claims I drank mine way too fast and that I ended up silly (and with a headache the next morning). My story is that I was just fine - and the headache was from allergies - and that's the story I'm sticking with. After dinner we caught the end of the Electrical Water Pageant, then headed back to our room and watched a Millionaire celebrity re-run. Tonight we had mints on our pillows! Tomorrow we meet with the Fairy Tale Weddings staff!

Day 3 - Monday, September 25

DD and FSIL got up first and headed out to Early Entry at the Magic Kingdom. They rode Winnie the Pooh and It's a Small World, and also picked up three FastPasses for Pooh for when I arrived (using their park passes and one room key). I met them at 8:45 am in front of the Crystal Palace, and we decided not to wait in the large crowd for our priority seatings. Instead we headed back to Pooh and used our FastPasses (our start time had just passed). What a cute, colorful ride Pooh is - I loved bouncing with Tigger, and floating down the river to save Piglet. I can't wait till my young nieces see this ride in May. Next was Peter Pan - riding over the streets of London, seeing Tink, and fighting Pirates! We stopped in Tinkerbell's Treasures, and found a perfect Tinkerbell bead to use on our favors for the wedding shower. We bought all they had available - 47. Since it was still pretty early, we were traveling against the crowd headed down Main Street. We walked through the Emporium, and I stopped in the Art of Disney Store, where I bought a few framed post cards. We caught the monorail back to the Polynesian and at 10:00 am went to Kona Kafe for breakfast. DD had blueberry pancakes, FSIL had a ham and cheese omelet and I had eggs with ham. When we finished we headed back to the room to 'freshen up' for our afternoon meetings with the wedding department staff.

At 12:00 noon we went to the monorail station to catch the monorail to the Grand Floridian. We noticed that the number of love bugs swarming around the monorail station had really increased - they were everywhere. Although they are apparently harmless, it was really uncomfortable having to fight them off - they would land all over everything and some flew into the monorail every time the doors opened - gross! We took our short trip to the Grand Floridian, then stopped and took some pictures of the site of DD and FSIL's welcome dinner for their guests - the Grand Floridian Summerhouse. It is about halfway between the pool and the beach and is a real pretty outdoor site, with white tables and chairs set around the red and white summerhouse building. We were all very pleased with this site and think our guests will enjoy a fun casual evening there the night before the wedding. From there we walked over to Franck's Wedding Studio, where we met DD and FSIL's sales manager, Warren. DD has spoken to him many times on the phone over the past eight months, and we have shared many e-mails back and forth.

After we all said hello, Warren got the keys to one of the Grand Floridian's new 'golf carts' and we took the back road over to the Polynesian to look at the wedding sites that DD and FSIL had chosen. DD and FSIL had visited Sunset Pointe Saturday night, and were concerned that the area was too small to fit all of our guests comfortably (around 70 guests) and that all may not be able to see or hear well. The actual 'point' is very small, and one of the grassy sides leading up to it is very hilly and impossible to put chairs on. The other side is triangular with fairly level ground. When we got there, Warren showed us how we could use the triangular area, and estimated about how far back 70 chairs would reach. With this new perspective, we all agreed that the site would be perfect! We then walked back a little and decided that the dessert party after dinner would be held in the large, square grassy area right behind where the ceremony chairs would end. The dessert tables would be set up to create a barricade on the edge where this section also turned hilly. DD and FSIL were very pleased with this area, so we got back into the golf cart and headed over to the reception site.

We had been to Tangaroa Terrace back when it was a restaurant, and it was very strange to see it empty of all but a few scattered tables and chairs. Warren showed us which area would be set up for cocktails, where the dance floor would be, and generally where the tables and chairs could be set up. This is a beautiful site even empty, and we were very pleased with the tropical feel to the room, and the lovely view of the Polynesian greenery making a backdrop through the windows. With our site visits complete, we once again boarded the golf cart and Warren drove us back toward Franck's. On the way, as the Grand Floridian came into view, Warren pointed out some blue and white barricades, which he said was the site of the Grand Floridian's new beachfront pool. He said that the themed pool would lead up to the beach, and it would be completed prior to DD and FSIL's welcome party event next May. Back at Franck's, Warren set us up in a private meeting room with some cold drinks and a book of Disney Photo Services wedding photos while we waited for Lisa (the wedding event manager). We were running a little early and Lisa arrived almost immediately. Warren introduced us and we said good-bye to him.

Lisa started out by telling us who we would be meeting that day, and then went through a LONG list of questions with DD and FSIL. The questions were to determine just how DD and FSIL anticipated every aspect of the wedding to occur - from welcome dinner through farewell breakfast. Many aspects of the events had already been planned - the Summerhouse cook-out at the Grand Floridian, the ceremony at Sunset Pointe, followed by cocktails and a Polynesian buffet dinner at Tangaroa Terrace and dessert back on Sunset Pointe, and a farewell breakfast at Mickey's (formerly Minnie's) Meneheune Character Breakfast. Lisa helped fill in some of the other details - DD and her bridesmaids can use the King Kimehameha room in the Great Ceremonial House for dressing, and we arranged for on-site make-up and hairdressers. (DD can also have a 'trial run' with her hairdresser several days before if she would like.) Photographic sittings will be scheduled in both the Great Ceremonial House and out at Luau Cove, and transportation (Poly golf cart) will be provided. Lisa discussed how the wait staff would handle the buffet dining in a formal setting. Finally, DD and FSIL looked through a book of cake designs, and chose one called 'Orchid Garden'.

When Lisa was sure we had no further questions, she brought in Andrew from Entertainment to join us. Most of our discussion with Andrew centered on the ukulele player who would be at the ceremony and cocktail reception. DD told Andrew to let the musician make recommendations himself for the ceremony music (since we aren't too sure about classical ukulele tunes). We discussed the timing and costuming (Polynesian of course) of character appearances. We also discussed the DJ, and Andrew said that after scheduling is completed, he would have the DJ contact DD and FSIL directly. (He told us that DJ's go through three interview levels before Disney hires them and a fourth level before they can do weddings.) He also is going to try to schedule a bilingual DJ. Finally, because of the number of people we would have on Sunset Pointe, Andrew suggested a sound system. (His only question was does Sunset Pointe have an available power source - he is going to check.)

With Entertainment completed, we were waiting for the representative from Floral, when a chef from the Grand Floridian arrived with the sample cakes DD and FSIL had chosen. One was red velvet cake with cream cheese filling, and the other was yellow cake with strawberry mousse filling. Both cakes were REALLY REALLY GOOD, and since DD and FSIL couldn't choose between the two, they decided on a bottom layer yellow with strawberry mousse, middle layer red velvet, and top layer yellow cake. Rosie from Floral arrived just as we were finalizing the cake planning and we were still munching away - those cakes were moist and heavenly! We showed Rosie pictures of DD's gown and her bridesmaids' dresses, and a picture of a bouquet we had found in a magazine. Rosie quickly got us through the process of choosing the bridal party's flowers (bouquets of stargazer lilies and orchids and orchid boutonnieres) and showed us pictures of sample centerpieces that she would customize to incorporate the colors and flowers we are using. We also chose ribbons and greenery to cover the (not very attractive) lighting posts on Sunset Pointe. Rosie was very enthusiastic - she said that they were having fun planning a Polynesian themed wedding with all the components, since they usually deal with more traditional themes and flowers. DD and FSIL also looked at corresponding table linens, and Rosie said she would find a tropical print she had seen in a rental book, and check to see if napkins were available in that print. They had chosen standard white linens and colorful napkins would accent and complement the colorful centerpieces and their favors - Jordan almonds wrapped to create an orchid and chocolate Mickey ears in cellophane with silver bows. (OK - the chocolate Mickey ears don't really match - but they do make it fun!) We also looked at welcome baskets for our guests, and DD and FSIL picked out a style that Rosie was going to customize and put together an estimate on for us.

We were finally through (we had been there a little over three hours) and since Lisa couldn't find a cake box we left the remainder of the cakes for the staff. (We check out tomorrow anyway.) We said our good-byes and strolled back to the Polynesian. We stopped at Captain Cook's where DD and I shared a tuna salad and sliced pineapple. DD and FSIL went out to rent water mice, then stopped on their way back at the poolside bar for two 'Sand in your Pants' drinks - yummy! I cooled off in the room, called Mom at home, and updated my trip notes. (Can you tell I'm not a sun person?)

Tonight is E-Ticket night! We set off on the hotel launch for the Magic Kingdom at 6:00 pm. (Less love bugs there than the monorail station - but still annoying.) By the way, there were also plenty of love bugs on the white wooden walls of both the Grand Floridian and Franck's - but nothing was as bad as the Poly monorail station! We asked about this and it seems they started to appear in large numbers about a week before we arrived and it seemed like they were getting worse. We were assured that they are a summer thing and not usually seen in large numbers in May. At the Magic Kingdom, we stopped beside City Hall to pick up our wristbands, then headed directly over to Tony's Town Square Café for our 6:20 pm priority seating (made through the Polynesian concierge). The cast member at check-in was telling everyone there was a 20 to 25 minute wait, and the entrance hall was packed, so we debated canceling and getting counter service food. However, after less than 5 minutes we were called to the podium. (DD overheard someone comment that we had 'waltzed right in' - I guess there are some plusses to using the concierge to book meals.)

We were seated in the glassed in porch area, and enjoyed our bread with sundried tomato pesto dip. We all thoroughly enjoyed our dinners - DD had 'Filetto di Bue ai Ferri' - beef tenderloin topped with mozzarella and served with yummy caramelized onion mashed potatoes. FSIL had 'Scallopine di Polla al Limone' - chicken breast sautéed with fresh spinach and tomatoes served with pasta. (DD and FSIL shared their beef and chicken.) And I had 'Gamberetti Sauté' - shrimp sautéed with garlic and tomatoes served in a cream sauce over fettuccine. Everything was wonderful, and we all cleaned our plates. No dessert - we were way too full - and E-Night was starting!

We headed over to Tomorrowland and walked right into Buzz Lightyear, where FSIL scored 637,000, DD 300,000 and myself a measly 32,000 (which was a personal best)! OK - so I am no intergalactic hero - I have to admit I got bored the few times the ride stopped and spun DD and myself around rather than trying to hit Zurg's targets. After saving the empire, FSIL headed over to Space Mountain, and DD and I found a bench and people watched for a while. We noticed that it was MUCH more crowded than it had been when we had attended our first E-Night in May of 1998. When FSIL returned, we headed back across the bridge to the Hub, and I left DD and FSIL and headed off to do some 'non-ride' things. I took plenty of crowd free pictures of the castle changing colors and spent some time finishing up my shopping in the nearly empty Emporium. It was almost 9:00 pm, and I caught the monorail back to the Polynesian, passing through the TTC just in time to see the Electrical Water Pageant light up the lagoon at the Polynesian. I fought my way through the swarming love bugs (I'm not kidding - they had just about taken over the monorail station), stopped and had a special Christmas gift shipped home from Trader Jack's and was back in the room by 9:30 pm. DD and FSIL arrived back around 10:00 pm - they had gone on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion before leaving E-Night at 9:30 pm. They had stopped at Captain Cook's for a cupcake and Mickey marshmallow bar.

Tomorrow is check-out, and DD had called and asked for late check-out, so we have use of the room until 1:00 pm. Knowing this, we decide to do all our packing in the morning, and settled in for our last night in paradise. Mints on the pillows again!

Day 4 - Tuesday, September 26

We all slept late this morning - until almost 10:00 am. I looked over our express check-out documents, and DD did all of our packing! (DD is possibly the MOST efficient packer you could ever meet - so I just always let her pack, and apparently FSIL has learned to do the same thing!) Then DD and FSIL went to the quiet pool while I finished up and got dressed. They came back and after they had dressed, we locked up our suitcases and called bell services at around 12:30 pm. Originally we had planned to get up early and head to Animal Kingdom on our last day, but since we had the luxury of late check-out we decided on Epcot instead. (We have all been to Animal Kingdom several times on past trips, and while we love it - we find the monorail transportation more reliable for last day traveling.) On the way out, we went back to Sunset Pointe and took some pictures. Then we went back to Tangaroa Terrace and took some shots there. We then took the Polynesian walkway back to the TTC, where we caught the monorail to Epcot. We split up when we got there - I was interested in pins and finding another Christmas gift, and DD and FSIL wanted to go on some rides in Future World. I went to Millenium Central and picked up a few pins, then went to Mouse Gears for that special Christmas gift. I went into Innovations West for a little while, then went back out and watched the fountains for a while.

DD and FSIL had gone to Test Track and joined the singles line for a 10 minute wait. From there they went to Body Wars and headed over to Ellen's Universe of Energy, but a show had just started and they didn't want to wait. They went over and taste tested in Ice Station Cool - bypassing Beverly - and we met up a little earlier than we had planned outside of Pasta Piazza. We all decided we didn't really want Italian, so the new plan was to head back to the Grand Floridian Café. We shared a Goofy bar to tide us over, and strolled back to the monorail. We switched to the resorts monorail at the TTC, and as we stopped at the Polynesian, we noticed that the monorail staff was now holding guests inside the doors until the monorail arrived due to the LOVE BUGS! (You know, I try to be aware of the environment - but I think the time had passed when they should be SPRAYING!!)

There was no wait at the Grand Floridian Café (it was now around 2:30 pm) and we were seated immediately. DD and FSIL both had the Earl of Sandwich - open faced thick bread with ham, turkey, cheese and covered with crunchy fried onions (DD's with no ham) and I had the chilled roast beef wrap. Everything was very good. We shopped for a little while in Minnie's Mercantile - DD and I bought sweatshirts since the weather had gotten very cold at home and we hadn't packed anything long sleeved. When we finished, we took the monorail all the way back to the Polynesian for the last time this trip. We dodged the love bugs - there were literally hundreds flying around and crawling all over the wooden monorail station. Yuchh! We took one more quick walk through Trader Jack's, and DD and FSIL went down to Captain Cook's to pick up some Mickey cookies for my nieces. At 4:30 pm we headed outside, pausing to throw some pennies into the Polynesian fountain to signify that we would return. We met our Tiffany Town Car driver (who never mentioned her name - in fact, she said very little) and were on our way to the airport. We got there early enough for a walk through the Disney Store, then went to our gate to find out that our flight had left Philadelphia an hour late, and our scheduled departure time was one-half hour late. We started boarding at 6:45 pm, took off at 7:15 pm, and after a very smooth flight arrived in Philadelphia at 9:15 pm. Stan from Friends Limousine met us at the baggage claim, and we were safely home by 10:45 pm.

Next trip is for DD and FSIL's Fairy Tale Wedding - in 216 days 20 hours and 53 minutes from right now!

Roseanne McKeever

romckeev@aol.com


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