Donna Sharick -- February 2001 -- Walt Disney World (CSR)
February 8-12, 2001
Cast of Characters:
meeting up with:
We decided to try to get together this year in February instead of March in hoping that the crowds would be lower (good choice). Dottie mentioned that her husband, Joe, would be at WDW for a meeting during the second weekend in February, 2001. We all KNEW we didn't want to go during the Presidents Day weekend since we wanted to avoid crowds and we wanted to be home during Valentines Day (Beth just got engaged, LOL), so that second weekend in February just coincidentally turned out to be the only one we could all make! I heard the 2001 CM rates were finally out in November, so I called to see what I could get and could only get Coronado for 50% off, not Dixie Landings. The rate was $639 for two rooms for 4 nights which breaks down to about $80 a night including tax - about $40 a night per person - GOOD DEAL! It was for a King room though. I was hoping to change that later. We then got our airfare; we found out if we left the Wednesday, 2-7, we could get cheaper rates and that way could get an early start that Thursday morning. Debbie and I booked online at the exact same time (while talking to each other on the phone) so we'd get our flights and seats coordinated. We got $186 with USAir. Debbie booked us offsite at Four Points Sheraton for that Wednesday night.
Wednesday - February 7 - Day 1
I had everything packed the night before and brought it all in to work with me since we were leaving straight from the office to pick up Beth and head to the airport. It was a little hard to concentrate on work, but finally, the day was over for me at 3:30. Debbie and I put our suitcases in her car and went downtown to pick up Beth at the Pittsburgh Hilton, which is directly across from her office building. We couldn't find her at first; she was down a little further than we expected but no problem, we just pulled over and she threw her one piece of luggage in the back and off we went! We all said goodbye to Three Rivers Stadium as we went through the tunnel since it would be imploded the Sunday we'd be away. We barely hit any traffic and made it to the airport in no time. We grabbed a bite to eat and boarded in no time. Our flight was pretty much uneventful; first time I can remember that there were no crying kids; lots of kids but you'd never know they were there. We landed about 10 minutes early-it seemed like we landed on the right landing gear wheel - a little wobbly but it was fine other than that. We got our luggage in no time, called for the hotel shuttle, which came in about 5 minutes or so. We all commented how warm - about 61 degrees - the weather felt to us - it was downright balmy! We had to pick up two FedEx pilots at their hangar and then we went straight to the Sheraton. This was your typical motel type place but was decorated very nicely and was quiet this time of night. Our room was around the corner near the pool. Debbie tried to insert the card key but nothing happened. She went back to get another one - same thing happened again. Finally, they gave us a different room and it worked fine. The room was small compared to Disney rooms but would do for our one night stay. I called Dottie to let her know that we made it ok and we made plans to meet at the Company D (cast member store) at Animal Kingdom in the morning. This is a new Company D location and we were anxious to see what they had, IF we could find it, LOL.
Thursday - February 8th - Day 2
Got up at 6:10, which is actually sleeping in for me, LOL. It's so much easier to get up, though, when you know WDW is around the corner! I called Joe to make sure he heard his alarm and he was already up feeding the kids. We all took turns getting ready and left the room at 7:20. We had to go back to the airport (only a mile or so away) and get our National rental car. We got a shuttle fairly quick and asked if he'd drop us off at the lower level so we could go straight to the Emerald Aisle and get our car. Debbie picked out a nice white Grand Prix and we loaded it up and took off for Coronado Springs!
We got there about 8:30. I was surprised the CM did not ask to see my CM ID for check in , but I showed it to her anyways. We all paid off our individual balances and Pat would be paying hers when she checked in later that day. I was surprised the CM said it had to be paid that day or it would all go on my credit card. I wasn't worried cause I knew Pat was on her way and would be paying hers. The CM said that would be fine. Surprise - our room is ready at 8:30 a.m.! We never expected this. I glanced at the resort map and our room number and it looked like we were pretty close to a bus stop and the front. Sure enough, we got Cabanas 9A and instead of the KING rooms, we got doubles and they were connecting too! I had faxed this exact request the Monday before we left and it was made for us. Only problem was, as soon as we walked in the room, we smelled smoke. :( I pulled out my reservation confirmation and sure enough, I DID say non-smoking on there. I really hated to give up the location (across from quiet pool) and the double, connecting room. I called right away for something to freshen up the room. Sorry, don't flame me, but I think all the rooms should be non smoking as the restaurants are. Give the smokers sections at the resorts like they do at the parks. It's just a shame to ruin all those towels and bedspreads so someone can be convenienced to smoke in the room. Anyways, we dumped everything in the room and we were all pretty hungry so we decided to head over to the Pepper Market. Of course, we couldn't pass up the gift shop so we looked around in there for awhile. I was surprised it was so large. Dottie called while we were shopping and I told her we'd meet her at the Company D around 10:30 or so, right after we ate. Over at the Pepper Market, I had an English muffin, iced tea and scrambled eggs. Yikes, these prices are outrageous! I don't want to eat here too often since they charge that extra 10% and that brings my 20% discount to 10%. It was a nice set up how you can go station to station but I much rather prefer the Dixie Landings food court. After we ate, we checked out the pins at the cart just outside the market. A very nice CM there started talking to us about how she moved down there and used to work at a Disney store prior to WDW. She even called the AK Company D for us to make sure they were open! They were! We thanked her and left to find it. It was about 10:20, so we had 10 minutes to find this place. I got directions from another CM on our CM board who had already been there. I knew it would give us a great chance to see what we could see of the AK Lodge, which ended up being the tops of the thatched roofs, LOL. I forgot to mention, all of us had talkabouts and/or cell phones on this trip. We used the phones for ranges outside of 2 miles and the talkabouts for less than two miles. We made one wrong turn in our search for the store and asked a few people who didn't have a clue what we were talking about, LOL. We wandered around after rereading the directions and finally realized we were going the right way, just made a turn too early. We saw the sign and parked in the lot. I called Dottie on the talkabout and "talked" her in, LOL. She turned in to the same lot we did that was just before the correct one. At least now we all know where it is! I knew she had a red blazer and I saw her coming around the corner. It was funny as we were all waving to her when she drove in. This is a small Company D store, as most of them are but they have all kinds of cast exclusive goodies. I got a really nice millennium cast member beach towel; they also had a throw that was nice. I bought a few nametag magnets for some CM friends at my store, picked up a copy of Eyes and Ears (cm newsletter) and Donald's Deals. I bought a gift bag and noticed it wasn't on my slip and I showed the CM and she said for me to keep it since I told her about it!! I thought that was very nice of her. The CM's in here were laughing at us and said "you MUST be TDS cm's". We said, how did you know? They said because we were gushing over all the merchandise, LOL. What can we say, this stuff excites us, LOL. I also bought a Disneyland California Adventure-Opening Team T-shirt.
We left the store and drove around the bend to Animal Kingdom around 11:30. We got Fastpasses for 12:25-1:25. In the meantime, we shopped around in the Mombassa Marketplace. Beth was looking for a nice AK fanny pack. We realized we had not had anything to eat since breakfast and had a little time before our Fastpass time to pick up something quick. I had water and carrots, LOL. Not much but it was enough to hold me to Chef Mickeys later! The CM at the little stand there was trying to teach us how to talk in Swahili, saying thank you, etc. It's stuff like that that make the Disney parks unique. While we were eating in the shade, a CM came around and was showing everyone an ostrich egg. This thing was huge and it felt like a really hard ceramic and was very shiny. She assured us it was untouched. She said a human can stand on it and it won't break. I took her picture holding the egg, LOL.
At 12:25, we headed to the Fastpass return line. I thought there were a lot of animals out for being mid-day. As we were getting on the jeep, we told the driver and the CM standing there we needed their names for our trip report - Hi Cathy and Wendy! They seemed to know exactly what a trip report was! Cathy said - Hey, Wendy, they're doing one of those trip reports for the internet! LOL!
At 1:15, there was a Lion King Show starting so we headed over that way. It was about 1:05 but since the park did not seem crowded, I didn't think we'd have any trouble getting in. We were seated a few rows up in the elephant section. The show was excellent as usual. Since there really wasn't anything else we wanted to do here and we were coming back to AK on Sunday, we decided to head back to the resort and freshen up a bit and relax. We shopped our way out of the park (is there any OTHER way, LOL?) and left about 2:30. When we got back to the room, I noticed it smelled a little better, but my smoke sensitive nose could still detect the smoke smell. The air machine they brought was on the table; we took it over to Pat and Beth's room to give them some fresh air. They also left some Glade for us to spray.
We all took it easy and rested awhile and then got ready for Chef Mickeys. Our PS was for 5:00 and we got there about 4, so we had time to.......SHOP! I always liked these two gift shops. Beth and Debbie both got a nice purse that happened to be on sale. It's a black nylon handbag with a leopard spotted Mickey head on the side. It was marked down to $11.99, which by Disney standards, is cheap! We headed over to check in at the podium around 4:50 or so. I gave my name and told them my entire party was not here so we waited in the waiting area and I kept popping my head up to see if I could spot any familiar faces, i.e., Tina, pat and Dottie. Pretty soon, I see Tina and Pat talking and walking towards Chef Mickeys; I waved my hands for them to see us. Next, Dottie came - we were finally all here together! We were given a beeper and it went off before we could even start talking that much! We were seated off to the side, far from the main room but this was probably better for a table full of big kids like us, LOL. We were all starving - carrots and water just doesn't cut it! All I wanted was those mashed potatoes! I skipped the salad and headed straight for the main course stuff - chicken, potatoes, caramelized carrots. It was all just way too good! Then I had the really MAIN course - dessert! I immediately noticed no banana crème pie! I tried one of almost everything and Tina told me they had little mini Banana crème pies---I thought they were coconut crème ones. By this time I was pretty full, but I tried some of the mini pie and it tasted just as good as the larger slices they used to have. I swear, I could LIVE on desserts! Thinking back, I don't think I ate enough, but at the time, I was so stuffed, we could barely walk out of there!
Since Tina was staying in a VWL studio, we all had to check it out. I was anxious to see the lobby too of the new DVC WL Villas. The model rooms were closed but we could check those out at BW later in the trip probably. We went up to see Tina's studio. Very nice décor! I think I will like this place! She had a woods view and the pool was to the left. I love the wooden doors and the carpet and all the little hidden Mickeys in the bedspread. We thought the bed looked awfully short but we think it's cause the headboard is so tall. It reminded me a lot of the Hilton Head rooms, only at WDW. It's a great addition to the DVC resorts since you can boat right over to MK. I love it that Roaring Forks gives us the 20% off CM discount too.
Since this was Thursday night, we wanted to go to Pleasure Island (free admission for CM's). Beth wanted to go back to the room and Dottie was nice enough to drop her off there as I did not think it was safe for Beth to go back alone. She would have had to get over to MK and bus it from there. She doesn't go as often as we all do and just isn't familiar with the way the transportation system works. After doing me that favor, Dottie and Tina would meet us at Pleasure Island. We were to all meet in front of the Adventurers Club and we planned on getting in line for the very next Comedy Warehouse show (8:15). When we got there, Pat remembered she wanted to pick up some DisneyQuest tickets for her August trip. We can purchase tickets any time (before 5) at 50% off and they never expire. After that, we met up with Dottie and Tina and we all hopped in the line and listened to Frankie and the West End Boys, who are always entertaining. I was thinking how much Justin (my 15 year old son) would enjoy them. We got pretty good seats for the 8:15 show, the 3rd row of the barstools that have the counter in front of you, on the left side. I think the first show had the thinner Jennifer, John, Jake, Krista and another one that I cannot remember. We were disappointed the first show did not have Layden. They did the "die" skit and the telephone in the audience one. I had some banana drink that was really good and some popcorn. This show was really funny, which is more often the case than not. After the first show, Dottie and Tina headed back to their resorts and the rest of us headed over to Adventurers Club. It was pretty crowded but other than the Colonel talking, not much was going on. We asked when Samantha Sterling would be on and it wasn't 'til 11, nope, we're not staying for that one. I'd rather see the next CW show! A lot of people were heading to the mask room but we left for the comedy warehouse instead. The huge line that was out front went in and the CM said they'd probably have room for us so we slipped in and sat up towards the top against the wall. Yikes, these aren't good seats but if I sit with my legs underneath me, I could see better. We kind of maneuvered the stools until we had a good view, LOL. Figures, Layden opened this show. He looked heavier and more muscular than I remember from past shows. We thought maybe he was lifting weights for his new role in Hoop Dee Do. They did the Schmeopardy show. What a riot! We were laughing so hard. Layden played a Dairy Queen worker. I honestly can't even remember who the other two were, cause Layden was just so hilarious. He said he specialized in the putting the curly Q on top and it was harder than most people thought it was, it was just too funny. We could barely hear for all the laughter. He had one of those goofy pointed hats they used to wear in ice cream shops and also an apron and he kept straightening out the apron. On the way out, Layden was standing off to the left side so we went up and told him how much we enjoyed his show tonight and that we heard he was leaving. I took a picture of him that turned out really good. He said he was looking forward to opening in Hoop on March 9th. I told him I had planned on seeing the Hoop Dee Do show in June and I couldn't wait to see him in his new role. We left after this show and headed back out; I swear we laughed about how funny Layden was, the whole way back!
Weather for today - mostly sunny - 83 degrees
Tomorrow - hitting Property Control in the morning and then to Magic Kingdom!
Friday - February 9th - Day 3
We were all up around 6:15, out the door by 8. We stopped in the lobby of Coronado to buy our E-tickets for tonight. I found a purse in the ladies room and took it out to the Guest Services Desk. We had breakfast in the expensive pepper market. It's quick, but it's certainly not cheap! Before we left the pepper market, I noticed two CM's a couple tables away wearing Animal Kingdom Lodge shirts. I wasn't sure if they bought them somewhere and was curious if they worked there. I walked over and asked them where they got their AK lodge shirts and are they selling these anywhere. They advised they were part of the "opening team" and just came from a planning meeting for the cm's that will work there. They said the animals are already on the savannah roaming around. They lost some vegetation due to freeze and were replanting it now, but the place is pretty much ready to open! I told them we were excited to be staying there in June and how I got a great 50% CM rate. She seemed to be surprised that ANY cm rate was available already since it hadn't even opened yet. We talked about the savannah vs. deluxe savannah rooms. The deluxe rooms are up higher but the regular savannah rooms will be closer to the animals. I also told her I was glad they were limiting access to this resort and she said that was mainly because it will be similar to animal kingdom and they didn't want people coming just to gawk at the animals and intrude on the paying guests. It was really cool talking to them and fascinating to hear about the new resort.
We then left the pepper market and headed to Property Control behind Magic Kingdom. We got there a couple minutes before they opened. We had planned on meeting Dottie and Tina there. Pat found a bin with golf hats - each one was only $3 and there was nothing wrong with them! There were about 3 bins just filled with hats and I recognized them as hats they are currently selling in the stores for $18 each. I found a nice DVC hat (white with purple brim), a nice Celebration hat and one with Mickey golfing, one with Mickey leaning on the Disney "D" with a golf club. I knew Joe would love these. I even found one for Jake (age 5) with Mickey and Goofy in pirates costumes having a sword battle; the back of the hat said YO HO YO HO, A Pirates Life for Me. Pirates is his favorite ride so he'd love this. I also got Joe a golf shirt and found some nice Nike golf shorts for half off in the trailer next to the tents. All in all, my property control bill came to $291.99 but I only paid $73 after the discount! Just getting 6 hats for $18 was a deal! I also got a cute snow globe with all the animals from all the Disney movies. We then went over to Disney University to see what they had in the Company D store there. They also had the same California Adventure t-shirts so I bought one for another CM in my store who loves Disneyland. We were all anxious to get to MK so we put all of our packages in the trunk and went to Magic Kingdom. We parked at the Grand Floridian since we were having dinner at 1900 Park Fare later; we monorailed over to MK. A funny thing happened when we got off the monorail. Pat is in to pin collecting, not seriously, just buys the ones she really likes or trades for them. When we got off the monorail, she saw a man wearing a lanyard and started telling him the pins she wanted. He kind of looked at her funny and she got out her trading pin and he said she could not have that pin she wanted from him. Pat thought he was a CM and knew he HAD to trade pins! Well, it turns out this was a regular guest! Pat was so excited to see the lanyard full of pins, she didn't notice he wasn't wearing a CM nametag, LOL! We laughed the whole way in the Magic Kingdom about that one. Pat and Beth couldn't pass up the popcorn cart so they got some. I saw the Main Street vehicle coming and it stopped right where I was standing. As Pat and Beth were paying, I told the CM to wait and we'd board in a second. I said to him, is it ok to ride with popcorn? (the drinks had caps) He said to me "it's ok, but if I find one kernel on the floor of my car, there's going to be trouble". Huh? I thought at first he was kidding, but he did not smile when he said it! This was a very rude CM - he never said a word to us, never smiled, the whole way down Main Street. I made a point to get his name at the end of the ride - his name was Chip - so watch out for mean main street drivers! As we got off the car, the Every Days a Holiday show was underway. We were on our way to meet Tina and Dottie near Pirates but stopped to take a few of those great castle shots on the way. I could not help but sing along to all the songs; I know all the words cause I play my homemade CD with those songs on it. Pat was funny; she said "you really ARE Donna Disney!" On the way towards Pirates, I saw a little girl, about age 4 running across the lawn to the right as you walk in to Adventureland. She was chasing a duck. When I got closer, I saw that the gate (wrought iron green gate) was open. The duck got away and she came back to the pavement. I walked over and pulled the gate shut but it was rusted where it locks up to the fence. I pushed it with my hand until it finally locked. Why would a parent let their child run across the lawn chasing after something? I was waiting for some mother to come after me to tell me why did I do that; we all joked about it cause I said if she did, I was going to whip out my Disney ID and say - "I work for the team - the Disney team; we're all a part of the same team, ma'am. LOL." That line became the running joke of the trip. At this point, we were heading towards Adventureland and as I was talking to Dottie on the talkabouts, I see Tina waiting in line for a drink. We all got a fast pass for jungle cruise. While we were waiting we rode Pirates; waited about 15 minutes to get on. Both sides had the same wait. There were a ton of cheerleaders at WDW for a competition so sometimes some lines backed up if you hit it wrong. By the time we got through with riding Pirates, it was time for our jungle cruise fast pass. We had a girl skipper, she was ok but I've had better ones there.
We were all getting pretty hungry and what would a WDW trip be without eating at Columbia Harbour House? We cut through the shortcut from Adventureland to Frontierland and got in the short line at CHH. Pat and I split a chicken tenders order and I got carrots instead of fries. After eating, we attempted to get a fast pass for Peter Pan, but the return time was too late. It seemed all the lines were long today at Magic Kingdom for some reason. We walked through the castle and I took a picture of everyone touching the slipper. We cut over the bridge to Tomorrowland and decided to ride the WEDway around - Paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow, your party from Saturn has arrived, please give them a ring! LOL! I love that part. After the WEDway, Tina decided to go back to her room. The rest of us took some pictures and shopped our way down Main Street. I bought a cute necklace with a gold Mickey ears with a little Austrian crystal stone in the front. It looks really nice on the same chain as my castle pendant because the ears sit dangling over the top of the castle. We decided to head out before the parade reached us on Main Street; we'd be back for E-night tonight and also on Monday.
We went back to the room to freshen up and change clothes and relax a little. We had PS for 1900 Park Fare for 5:15. We arrived at the Grand Floridian with a few minutes to spare so we looked around in the gift shop downstairs. The restaurant doesn't actually open until 5. We soon met up with the rest of the gang around 5:10 or so. Tina's friend, Mickey, would be joining us for dinner tonight. He used to work in her store and now works in a different Disney store in Maryland as well as studying to be a personal trainer. He lives in Celebration when in Florida. He really added a lot of fun to our group and fit right in immediately. We were seated at a big round table and soon the characters were making their rounds to us. Captain Hook was especially flirtatious tonight! We took some pictures and when I pulled away he kept motioning by touching his face. I finally realized he wanted me to kiss his chin! Grubby! LOL! He kidded around with Dottie too. We got some fun pictures here. The food at this buffet was exceptionally good tonight. It could be I was starving, but it just tasted so good. Dottie was loving the bread pudding and wanted me to try it. I don't usually care for bread pudding but this pudding was to die for! It had a great custard taste to it. I had some of that wonderful strawberry soup! They even had fudge! None of us felt like getting up to leave but we had E-night ahead of us! We all really enjoyed the food and character interaction here. We will definitely do this again in June.
We monorailed over to MK; Pat wanted to get her glasses so her and Beth bussed it back to Coronado and would catch up with us later via talkabouts. We all got our bracelets for E-night. We looked around the Art of Disney store for awhile. I bought a cute Lady and the Tramp magnet and a black and white magnet with Walt on his train and the characters are in color. I've never seen this store this busy. I tried to find a short line but the man in front of me was getting a very fragile item and it needed wrapped and boxed. The CM wasn't exactly moving fast and he kept saying he was sorry as did the guest. I said, don't worry, I've been on both sides of the register, so I know! The CM was very nice when it came to my turn and said he appreciated our patience. Really, it was about 1/2 hour that we waited but I truly know what it's like when you have guests huffing and puffing at you while you tend to breakables. This is where Tina's friends, Pam and her sister Marcia, joined us. They only had a couple days at WDW and were very happy to be there.
We made our way (9 of us) through the parade crowd already forming and shopped our way up the left side of Main Street. We didn't want to do too much until Beth and Pat returned and e-night hadn't started yet so we decided to get everyone fast passes for Peter Pan. We stood there and waited and finally, I got word from Pat (on the talkabout) that they were at the end of Main Street. Next thing, I thought I heard her say "we're at the castle" but this was quite awhile after they said they were on Main Street. I asked - which castle? DisneyLAND or DisneyWORLD?, LOL. What we didn't know was that the parade crowd had become really bad on Main Street and they had to step through all of that to get through the castle. Finally they said they were through the castle and I told them to keep walking as we were right around the corner; they finally saw us! We all rode Small World and just about took up a whole boat! This ride is a lot more fun with a boatload of people! After small world, we attempted to get a spot for MSEP somewhere in Frontierland. It was wall to wall people. Mickey finally saw a place where we could all fit. He put the shorter ones in the front and lifted me up on top of a garbage can - telling me "he always heard I was trash anyways" LOL! I had a great view though! I took some pictures to see how they'd come out on the digital camera. This would be the last time I would see MSEP.
After the parade, we headed over to see Tink fly over the Tomorrowland bridge. It was an awesome display as usual. I love that music. I was humming along with the music. It was a perfect night for fireworks - perfectly clear sky and nice and warm out. After the fireworks, it was Peter Pan fast pass time. What a difference that makes on this ride now. We just about walked on the ride. We then rode the WEDway again and they were still paging Mr. Morrow, LOL. Now that e-night had started, we could all ride space mountain. There were 6 of us and we took up a whole car. I was up in the front and it was fun and fast. Mickey said afterwards he never heard anyone scream as loud as me, (and he was in the back!) LOL! After that, we did Buzz; I got 71,100 points. Next was haunted mansion which is always spookier at night. We stood by the door which was shut for the longest time. I went and knocked on it and still no one answered, LOL. Finally, this dead-looking man opened the door and told us to go to the "dead center of the room". He was really creepy, LOL. We headed towards the two mountains, walking through a practically deserted Frontierland. We did Big Thunder first. We noticed they were letting people stay on and ride again. I asked if we could do that and he said as long as the line doesn't get long. We had a really fun ride and when we got to the end they asked if we wanted to ride again, of course we said YES!!I think it was because I flashed him my WDW-team ID <g> It's so much more fun with a large group of people, especially ones who love Disney. After big thunder, we headed for Splash. This truly was a walk on. We didn't get too wet the first time around. When we got to the end, we just sat there and none of us got up, LOL. The girl CM said, oh, you want to go again? We said, YES -WE DO! The guests waiting to get on next were not too happy and the one guy said it wasn't fair, LOL. Little did he know he would be going twice too since everyone was. Not to mention, there was no line or they would not have done that in the first place. We told him "we're part of the team" and I'm sure he had no idea what we were talking about or if he even heard us cause we had already pulled out in our boat. He had all of a 10 second wait maybe. I guess everyone wants their $10 worth, LOL. The second time around, we got pretty soaked. Not only did we get wet dropping down but we got the over spray from another boat that got us pretty good. It wasn't cold though, we just LOOKED like heck, LOL. It was now around 12:10 a.m. and we decide to head out of the park. Main Street was completely empty. I really wanted a picture of the castle with that pretty blue color but I had just missed it. We stood there for awhile waiting for it to come around again, but everyone was pretty tired so we just left. We headed for the monorail station and we just missed one, darn. We waited a good 15-20 minutes for another monorail. It appeared they were only running one and it was taking forever to go all the way around. Finally one came and we monorailed the entire loop back to the grand Floridian, got in the car and back to Coronado - lights out at 1:00 a.m.
Weather - mostly sunny and 84.
Tomorrow - Epcot
February 10th - Saturday - Day 4
After e-night, we all wanted to sleep in a little so we didn't get up until 7:15. I called Dottie and we decided to meet at the International Gateway at 9:30. We decided to have breakfast at the Boardwalk Bakery. I had a breakfast sandwich which was pretty good. The birds would have gladly eaten it for me; they were everywhere. It would have been nicer to eat there without them flying everywhere; you could see their droppings on the tables, yuck. We walked over to the International Gateway and I called Dottie but couldn't get her. Then my phone rang and it was Dottie but we got disconnected. Next thing I know, she is coming right towards us, LOL. We all wanted to get a fast pass for test track so we walked through the open part of the world showcase. It's always nice and peaceful here this time of day. As we came towards the Future World side of the world showcase, we noticed the character bus had pulled up and the characters were everywhere! We were like little kids running from character to character to get our pictures. There were only a handful of people back this far in the park; even Mickey was by himself for a minute so I ran over and my sister took my picture. Beth likes Goofy so we got her picture with him. Pat was thrilled to get chip AND dale together in a picture! After this, we headed toward future world to get a Fastpass for Test Track. Dottie was sidetracked by the pin station and there seem to be a big crowd there. They were giving out a limited edition hat pin, one in a series. Dottie got in line for that while we ran over and got our Fastpass. We then ran over to Innoventions to do a postcard. Dottie's line was moving slow but this gave us time to ride Spaceship Earth. We waited in line for about 5 min. or so. We still had time to go use our Test Track Fastpass. Fast pass really works here. They were using the single rider door for the standby line and made the Fastpass people go thru the queue. We were in a car in no time. I tried to tape the whole thing and got up to the part where you go outside. I think my finger hit the button and turned Record off. It really feels like you go around twice outside. It was a lot of fun. We then met up with Dottie who was enjoying the hot sun on a bench waiting for us. Tina called on the talkabouts and was heading right for us. We had PS for Coral Reef but none of us were that hungry to eat there. Pat, Beth and Debbie walked through the exhibit but forgot about the movie and just decided to skip the whole thing. I sat on a bench with Dottie and called Joe to see what was happening back home. Wow, it was really warm sitting in this sun. It gave me an appetite for something cold. I remembered that Wonders of Life pavilion has a great no-fat yogurt shake. We all headed over there to look around. It's nice to just go in there and walk around and cool off. I got the vanilla yogurt shake, others got strawberry/banana. Lots of flavor and no fat! Pat was glad cause she didn't know about these shakes. We all headed towards Mouse Gears. I had been eyeing up Pat's Mickey watch and I found the exact same one in Mouse Gears. I was so excited and bought it. It has a brown band, the face is round, gold. It has the castle in gold with little fireworks behind it and a colored Mickey is in the left hand corner of the face. It says Walt Disney World in very small black letters over the castle. I ran to show Pat my new purchase! I knew she wouldn't mind us having the exact same watch.
We decided to head towards Mexico and check out the Company D store behind Test Track. We are not allowed to take non cm's backstage at any park, so Debbie and Beth looked around Mexico while Dottie sat in the sun; Pat and I walked back to the store - it sits just to the right of the outside part of test track. I like this location since there are a lot of other departments in this building. There's a nice break room and prices are very reasonable. There are mostly World Showcase CM's walking around and I just find it all very interesting to walk through here. They had mostly the same merchandise as the other stores. You never know what little "find" you'll get at these stores so I like to check them all. Pat got some nice luggage tags. We grabbed a drink and some pretzels and walked back. The building that houses the Tapestry puppets and drums is back here too. One time (not this trip) some of the guys were practicing walking around on stilts. Anyways, we met back up with the others and headed over to Norway to ride Maelstrom. There was no line outside and sign said 0 wait but when we got in there, we saw the line. It was moving pretty good though and we found the hidden Mickey in the mural. We had fun riding this; I don't normally wait too long in line for it so it's been awhile since we rode it. We continued to walk around the "world" just taking it all in. I love the sights and sounds of the world showcase, especially just as the sun is setting and the lights are coming on.
Since we skipped our lunch, we were starting to get hungry and were thinking maybe some place at the Boardwalk would be good. We headed in that direction and got sidetracked by the International Gateway store. I saw a nice watch, similar to mine only a men's and it had Mickey taking a golf swing in gold on the face (instead of the castle like mine). I thought Joe would really like this watch; he's been asking for a Mickey watch (I trained him well, LOL) and Valentines Day was only a few days away. It didn't take much coaxing and I said I'd take it! It came in a really cute Mickey tin just like mine. We then took the boat over to the Boardwalk side of the water and decided to eat at the Big River Grille. We asked for a table outside since the sun was going down and it wasn't too hot. We weren't sitting there very long when we saw this kid, about 7 or 8 come flying down the boardwalk in an ECV! Worse yet, he had a smaller child, about 4 or 5 riding in the back sitting behind him! The father was walking behind them; we couldn't believe a parent would let a child do this. He turned sharply and headed straight for those crazy mirrors and stopped just short of crashing in to them. You see it all at Disney! As we were waiting for our waitress to take our orders, we thought of our DVC friend Barb; her daughter, Jackie, just took a position with DVC and wondered if she'd be working. Our table was the last table closest to the DVC doors so I ran in and sure enough Jackie was sitting there at the desk! I said hello and ran out to tell the others she was there. We'd try to stop in after dinner. As we were sitting there waiting for our food (love those burgers!), Dottie's husband, Joe, was strolling by. It was nice to have him join us and we caught him up on all of our fun <g>. We had a pretty good meal and it was relaxing eating on the boardwalk, except for those darn birds again. One lady started putting chips on her table! We told her that probably wasn't a good idea; sure enough, they swarmed in on that one chip. No one loves animals or birds more than me, but I don't think people should be feeding them around the eating areas. What goes in, must come out! LOL! After eating we walked in to the DVC office and asked if we could see the model of the new VWL, even though we are already members. They were MORE than happy to show us! How nice it is in there, with the child's playroom, a coffee/snack area set up like a living room. I couldn't help but have a cup of lemonade! She showed us the studio/1-2 bedroom units and we all loved them. They are small like the BWV units but very nicely decorated. We had only seen Tina's studio so it was nice to see the larger units. If I were adding points, I would add at Hilton Head but I would definitely use points at VWL before using them again at BWV; since they're the same amount of points. We thanked her for the mini-tour; we're an easy sell, LOL. We headed for the Screen Door store to look around. I bought a Mickey vinyl decal for my car window. I thought $8 was a little high for all that it is but I remember not buying it last trip and wished that I had. It was about this time that Tina called on the talkabouts and advised she was in France. That was all we heard and she cut out. We looked around for awhile in the ESPN store. I found a nice (teenage definition of nice=large and faded, LOL) t-shirt for my 15 year old son, Justin. It was on sale too which made it nicer! All of a sudden, this kid comes flying through the store on a scooter! I couldn't believe they allowed this. Actually, they probably don't but no one was doing anything about it. I finally saw the mother trying to catch up with him and she shooed him out the door and on to the Boardwalk. Are they allowing kids to ride on the Boardwalk? I sure hope not! We tried calling Tina again, but got no answer. Dottie decided to head back to the Yacht Club and we went back to Coronado. We had originally planned to see ToN tonight but since we stayed in Epcot all day, we wanted to do something else instead; we could always see ToN on Sunday night.
We headed for the marketplace as our replacement to seeing Illuminations and ToN. We looked around the stores here for awhile and I actually got out of World of Disney without buying anything. It didn't seem right to go back to the room at 8:30 on a Saturday night at WDW. There's just too much going on to waste time in a resort room. Pat, Beth and I thought about taking a bus to OKWR from there since Debbie had the car but she said she'd take us over. We looked around over there for awhile. I walked over to Community Hall and took a picture of our group picture from the last ladies weekend. I can't believe how many pictures are in there now. I still felt it was too early to be going back but everyone was tired and tomorrow would be a 3-park day for us. We were back in the room around 10:30; Tina called and we made plans to meet around noon at the tip board at MGM, lights out around 11.
Tomorrow - AK, MGM and EPCOT
Weather - Sunny and 84, perfect
Sunday - February 11th - Day 5
We were up at 6 a.m., we wanted to get an early start today at Animal Kingdom and leave around lunchtime to go to MGM. We had breakfast at the Pepper Market, leaving there around 8 to go to AK. We got a Fastpass for the safari but not before seeing Baloo having fun with a talking trash can. It was a beautiful morning again. While waiting for the fast pass time, we did the Pangani Forest Trail. It was very uncrowded which makes it so much nicer and easier to see. The gorilla family was in the window view and was being very playful today, the one was beating on a tub that was turned over. They all seemed to be enjoying the nice weather too! It came time for our fast pass time. I thought we'd see a lot of animals out this early but there weren't as many as the mid day safari we took the other day. What we DID see was very active though. When the safari was finished we got back on and went around again. It is never the same two times in a row. After that, we did Asia; Tigers were keeping cool along the wall. We walked over to Kali River Rapids but none of us were brave enough to go on (and get soaked) that early in the day! So instead, we soaked others! LOL! We took turns pushing the button that worked the elephants trunks at the end of the ride. It was a lot of fun, especially if you timed it just right. We were then going to get fast passes for Dinosaur but they weren't necessary; it was a walk on. It was a lot of fun; pat and I posed for the picture like we were really scared - hands up-mouths opened in fright! LOL!
We were getting hungry so we grabbed a bite at Restaurantosaurus - happy meals for all, LOL. We gave our toys to the kids sitting next to us since they did not get happy meals and they seemed thrilled. They were the dinosaur hand puppets. I knew Jake already had two of them. We were just heading out of Dinoland when I realized I left the video camera on the back of the chair at the restaurant. I swear I did not realize I could run that fast! I dodged in and out and around people ran back in there and it was still there. I took my time walking back. Luckily, I had remembered before we got too far. We left AK around noon and it was very hot around that time. As we were waiting on the tram, I heard my phone ringing and it was Dottie telling us she was running a bit late which worked out perfect cause we were too, LOL. We had planned on BEING at MGM at noon and it was just now noon as we left AK.
As we arrived at MGM, we were surprised the lot was barely full. Didn't look like it would be too bad here today. Tina had called on the talkabouts and said they were at the commissary and would meet us at the tip board shortly after they ate. That gave us a chance to get some fast passes for RnR. On the way out of the ride area, I found a purse on a bench just sitting there. I figured the closest CM would be the one at the ToT fast pass area. I took the purse and gave it to him. We then headed to ToT which was a walk on. I asked for the seatbelt seat. I wanted to tape what I could. I did this before and it's funny when you play it back. You hear screaming, then light with the tops of people's heads, then screaming and this goes on for a few drops, LOL. So anyways, the CM checks my belt and said "you won't be able to tape during this ride". I said, oh I would never be able to do that! I put the camera between my knees, belted it in to the seatbelt with me, hit record and that was it. I really didn't have much to hold on to except for the one side cause I left one hand on the camera so it wouldn't fly up. Beth said they didn't put the bar down too far and they were practically standing on the drops. It was really a lot of fun. We headed over to the tip board since Tina radioed and said they'd be there very shortly. Dottie radioed and was on her way in too. We all met by the fountain there and it was HOT! We got the tip board CM to take a group pic of us (see Photopoint). I felt bad, she had to take a few pictures with the different cameras. I didn't give her mine cause I knew I'd get the picture from someone (thanks pat, LOL). I was a little nervous that she set all these expensive digital cameras right there on the sidewalk as guests were stepping off the curb, they could have easily been kicked but nothing happened!
We all headed back to Rock N Roller Coaster since it was our fast pass time. This was great to use here cause the standby line was really long and we just walked right in! We had to wait for the group in front of us to go in, then we went in. Pat and I decided to wait for the first car. That wasn't a problem, just stand off to the side for a second so it doesn't bunch up at the queue. I think the anticipation of waiting for the green light here is worse than the ride! Wow, we flew on this ride; I can't even remember which song we got but it was a lot of fun. When I got out, I had jelly legs for a couple minutes. We looked around the store for awhile but none of that stuff interests me. Mickey and Tina decided to go again so we told them to radio us when they were off so we could meet up again. I headed across Sunset Blvd. to where Dottie, Beth and Debbie were waiting in the shade. Pat went to get a drink and when she came back she said she happened to run in to the person that lost that purse! She tried pointing them out to me but she DID mention to them we had found the person and turned it in and it should be in Lost and Found by now. What are the chances of THAT happening! I wanted to get some candy so we went over to the Villains store across the street and I sampled some really good fudge - orange creamcicle, yummmeeeee, it was really good but I love the peanut butter more so I got some of that and got one for my sister. That took all of 3 bites, LOL. As we were walking towards Great Movie Ride, I looked down and found a hopper pass that did not expire until 2-17-01! What is it with me finding all this stuff! I took it over to the DVC CM at the kiosk there. Who knows, someone might think to ask for it at Lost & Found. Not sure how they'd identify it but I didn't want to just leave it lay there.
We walked over to the Great Movie Ride. The line wasn't outside; it started pretty much in the room where the movie is. We got the cowboy side and got the first row. Dottie was talking to the CM/driver and he was giving us all kinds of tidbits of information. He said the suit Humphrey Bogart is wearing in the Casablanca scene is the actual suit he wore in the movie. Also, the plane they use is the actual plane that was used in the movie. When they were looking for a prop, they found this plane but had to cut it in half to use it, never realizing it was THE plane from the movie! I guess they have ways of finding this out but it's neat to know and I'll try to remember to look closer at these things next time. We headed over to the Star Tours store but my kids are totally out of this phase now so I didn't buy anything. There was a time when we'd spend SO much time in there and it was hard to get them out! We kind of walked around the NY street for awhile, doing nothing in particular, just talking and laughing and taking pictures and having a blast! Of course, I was taping all this, LOL. We decided to take a break and bought some hot pretzels and drinks and ate them over at the Studio Catering Co. tables. It is always cool in there and out of the sun. I saw a cute prop of Flik standing there and we took some pictures with it. After leaving this area, we casually strolled down Hollywood Blvd., shopping our way out of the park. We had some package pick-ups to get and then we all decided to go to Olivia's for dinner. Tina would meet us there. We went back to Coronado, rested and freshened up a bit and drove over to Old Key West---aahhhhhh, it always feels great to be home again. I love eating at Olivia's even though I usually get the same thing - the buttermilk chicken. We found Tina trying on a DVC jacket in the gift shop. She said when she bought it, she actually had to prove she was a member and shower her member ID! I guess because the jacket actually has "member' printed on it. We got a nice table towards the back and ordered a round of ice teas. It seemed to take awhile to get our food but it's so nice to sit in Olivia's, we really didn't mind too much except that we DID want to go to EPCOT to see Illuminations and ToN. I was dying for a piece of key lime pie but we really didn't have time for dessert.
After eating, we made our way over to EPCOT and started walking around looking for a good place to watch the ToN parade. We ended up finding a place just past France where no one was standing at all! There was just enough room for us. There was a really nice atmosphere here tonight, the crowd was really "in" to the parade and that enhances the experience for everyone. We all love this music and the puppets always seem to be so happy to perform. We clapped for each and every one of them as they went by. They really appreciated this and it gives you more interaction with them. One even reached out to Tina and pulled her out in to the parade to dance. It seemed a little breezy and I'm sure those puppets are really heavy to hold up. When it was over at the point where we stood, we walked down to where the Sage of Time was standing and the other part of the parade was finishing up. The puppets were really interacting with the kids here. I don't think I could ever get tired of watching this and hearing that music. I'm so glad they extended it beyond the millennium celebration. After it was over, Tina was telling us about a great spot to watch Illuminations - near Japan - where we could see the globe really good. We had watched it from the terrace in Japan before and that was nice up there. We found a spot right up next to a speaker and wow, when it started, it really made for a better show. I can't get over how Disney puts this show on every single night and I think it's one of the best they've ever done. I was just glad we were not downwind!
We decided to head back the room since we had a lot of stuff to pack (ok, *I* had a lot, LOL) and it was a long day having visited 3 parks in one day. Looking back now, I wish I would have stayed out longer but we wanted to get an early start on our last day and get to Magic Kingdom and soak up as much as we could before we left, LOL.
Tomorrow - Last Day :( - Magic Kingdom, then home
Weather - Sunny-83
Monday - February 12th - last day (6)
We set the alarm pretty early so that we could get everything in the car and have a nice breakfast before going to Magic Kingdom. I packed up the laptop which I probably used all of 15 minutes the entire trip. I mainly use it for emailing back home to the kids. Pat had an early flight and she was on her way to the airport around 9 or so. We decided to have our breakfast at Kona Café and then just monorail over to MK. I was dying to have the Tonga toast but knew it would be too much (heavy) this early. I had scrambled eggs, a biscuit and some home fries. We had a really nice waitress. She was very attentive and very friendly. After eating, we hopped on the monorail and went to MK. The cm at the turnstile told me to input my ID into the machine (just like a regular pass). I knew this wouldn't work, but I did it anyways. Of course, it spit right back out at me. I showed them my picture and sticker on the back and they hit the "w" and let me in. I still can't get over how we can get in for free on our ID's now. It's been one year since they started this and it STILL feels good! LOL! I just keep saving more and more with the way AP's are going up.
I didn't take any notes on this last day but I do know that we looked around on Main Street. We took the train from Frontierland to Toon town. While waiting in the station, I got a call from Dottie on the talkabouts. I knew we all wanted to do Carousel of Progress on this last day. She said where are you and I said on the train heading for Carousel. She said "the regular carousel or progress". I said "progress", LOL. It was a little hard to hear each other with all the background noise but I knew saying "progress" she'd know what I meant. So we got off in Toon town and walked the back path. Of course, we all enjoyed CoP; you never know when it might be your last time to see it. We eventually got fast passes for Buzz. One nice little perk using the CM ID, the cm at the station just asks you "how many do you want" and we can get whatever we need. I would not abuse this but it saves the entire family from getting in line and in the summer, even those lines are long. I had to have a frozen Coke but we knew we couldn't go on WEDway with a drink so we finished those and then did WEDway. When went towards buzz it looked like there was a huge back up at the fast pass return area. When we got up there, it was hard to tell what the problem was; it appeared everyone was just throwing their fast passes at the CM! We waited our turn and this lady comes up behind me and says "my time is sooner than yours"! I said, what time do you have? She said 12:50. All of us had 1:00 to 2:00. She said, your return time isn't until 1 ! I said, well, it's 1:05 and ours is good now too. She said, but mine is sooner than yours! I told her, the return time did not matter as long as you were in that hour window! She didn't like that answer! LOL! Dottie turned around and said " it doesn't matter!" LOL! She said, 'ok, I didn't know", LOL. We all kind of chuckled and entered the building. Well, we're not in there 5 minutes and the fast pass line comes to a standstill. I can see that the cars are not moving. After about 15 minutes of standing in there (thank goodness it was cool), a CM comes over and says it will be about 5 more minutes and all fast pass people will go in first. Well, it was at least another 10-15 minutes, but during this time, we look at this couple in front of us who had a toddler. They proceed to take his pants off and change him while standing! We couldn't believe it! He was standing on a ledge there and they just stripped him! Then the parents proceed to kiss this big long kiss after they were done! I guess you see it all at WDW! Thankfully, the line moved right then! LOL! While riding buzz, it did break down momentarily; just long enough to get a few extra points, LOL. I didn't do too bad but my sister got way more than me! After that adventure (LOL), we took the back path to the Plaza Pavilion for a little bit of lunch. Everyone got in line and I grabbed a table on the terrace; just in time to listen to the Every Day's a Holiday Show. If it weren't for the seagulls threatening to take our food, it would be the perfect lunch spot! I went back up in line and grabbed a pizza for me and breadsticks for my sister and we shared an iced tea ( a HUGE iced tea). The salads here looked great! As we were eating, a lady sat down next to us with her kids; while she was preparing her sons food, a bird came swooping down and took a chunk of bun out of her sandwich! I can't believe he didn't just fly off with the whole thing! Of course, it was funny but we wouldn't be laughing if it were us! When we finished, we kept walking towards main street, a lot of people were eating outside since it was just a beautiful day. I guess they don't feed these birds too well; as we walked by a bird swooped down and stole this poor little kid's hotdog and he flew right up on the roof with it! The poor little one was crying. We continued our trek down Main Street. I kept glancing at my watch thinking my time was dwindling. Geez, you'd think I was going to be executed later in the day or something! LOL! Call me corny, but I have to start each trip with magic kingdom and end each trip there too. Anyways, we walked down the right side (as you go towards train) this time and I HAD to visit my favorite store before I left, The Disney Clothiers. I always said someday I am going to work in this store. This is the perfect location, it's located on the corner, doors are always open. It's a nicer clothing store, a lot like TDS (only with adult clothing). I would just love to be working and hear the parade and the main street music all day. Every time I go in there and I see shirts that need folded, I do the "Disney fold" and fix them all. Joe always laughs at me and this was no different, my friends think I'm nuts, LOL. I took it upon myself to start talking to the CM about her job there. She said she LOVES working there; her husband works next door and she does this 6 months out of the year. I said eventually I'd like to transfer my TDS job but THIS is the store I want to work in. She said, oh they'd love it if you told them that; we need people here! Wow, is that ever tempting! It would be so neat to just get away from the business world and just have a care free job on Main Street! Oh well, back to reality, LOL.
We wanted to get a spot for the Magical Moments parade but since it was very uncrowded today, you could just about wait until it started, there were curb spaces everywhere. I had something more comfortable in mind, LOL, and I found an empty table right in front of Tony's. I soon figured out why it was empty! It was HOT sitting in this sun! Who cares, I wanted to enjoy it while I could so we all sat down and brought over a few extra chairs. We were right next to the cart that sells water so my sister and I shared a water and we just talked and enjoyed the time together before the parade started. We didn't have to leave until 5 and it was now just about 3. I could feel myself sinking in to depression mode! As soon as I heard the Remember the Magic song, though, I jumped out of my chair and ran to the curb to see the parade. I took some video and some pictures and of course, sang right along with the music. It was cute to see the little kids running out and joining in. Their smiles are priceless when they see their favorite character coming towards them. To me, this is what Disney is all about. When it was all over, a little boy lost sight of his parents and another guest brought him over to the dad who happened to be right next to me. I felt so bad for the little guy; he looked too little to be out there alone. This made me miss my kids more!
Tina's friend, Mickey, came about this time and he said since our time was winding down, it was up to US what we wanted to do, LOL. We headed back towards Frontierland and shopped in the Christmas shop for awhile and a few other stores back there. Dottie and I LOVE the smell of the Christmas store - no wonder - the smell was being pumped in from the ceiling. I went to one of the vents and just stood there, LOL. Yikes, it was now after 4 and I had less than an hour to go! We all slowly walked down Main Street; it seemed like just yesterday that we just GOT there but here we were at the end of trip already. I was thinking how lucky I am to be able to come here 4 times a year; I would be back in only 115 days with my whole family but it is still hard for me to take that one last look at the castle. I always say goodbye to Walt's picture under the train station and that's always the last thing on my video too. Call me strange, but that's my tradition. I love everything about the place, the magic, the kids smiles, the characters, the good food, the classic attractions; there's just nothing like it anywhere and I truly cannot get enough of it.
We monorailed back to the Poly, got gas, and headed for the airport. Our flight home was uneventful; I played some games on the laptop to kill the time. I couldn't lay my seat back at all since the guy behind me said he had no room for his knees; never mind that the person in front of me was practically in my lap! I really would rather travel by car than plane, even though it takes longer.
Three weeks before this trip, my best friend/pet of 17 years, Chelsea- a cocker spaniel, died. I was really in no mood to go anywhere, even WDW, and seriously considered backing out. It was just hard to get excited and I doubted I could have any fun. My husband said it would be good therapy and he was right. I still thought of her every day but it helped to be constantly busy and on the go. I didn't want to be a downer for everyone else on the trip; but it turned out fine and I'm glad I didn't cancel it after all. I even got a little chuckle when I saw the old hound dog in Haunted Mansion cause other than the long tail, it's sort of what she looked like in the end, even the exact same color. I thought, boy, Chelsea has even followed me to WDW, LOL.
As I said, I'm really looking forward to our next trip in June. It will be a surprise trip for my son, Justin's 16th birthday. He thinks we're going to Six Flags and just with his immediate family. He has no idea he's spending 7 nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge -savannah view with my sister and her fiancé. I also have a 1 bedroom at OKWR where I will stay with Joe, Jake and my other sister. This will be a little different trip, since I'm getting a 2 day pass for Universal. Justin has always bugged me to go to Islands of Adventure but I could never bear to spend any time off site but this trip, he will finally get to do that. He's a coaster nut and he's dying to try their coasters and compare them to Millennium Force at Cedar Point. I guess it won't KILL me to be off Disney property, as long as it isn't TOO long <g>.
Hope you enjoyed my trip report. I have a way of turning 4-5 days into a full blown novel! Thanks for reading!