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Noreen Chin -- August 2002 -- Walt Disney World (YCR, BCR) / Disneyland (Offsite)


WHO ARE WE?
  • Noreen; 34 years old; First Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.
  • Paul (my husband); 34 years old; a Multimedia Developer at a Management Consulting Firm in New York City. Paul may insert his comments in the report.

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

PLANNING

Historically Paul and my vacation plans for any given year usually include two 10-day trips (usually 1 to Disney World) and several long weekend trips. Normally during the Disney World trip we would spend a week in our timeshare (Vistana) and several days at one of the Disney Resorts. Now that we have Kiki (our adorable puppy) we don't want to be away that long, so we've cut our trips down to a week or maybe a week and a day. We started this when we went to Disney World September 2001 and flew down Saturday afternoon, spent Saturday at a cheaper hotel, then checked into the timeshare Sunday for the next week. We liked that plan and will probably do it again (unless Paul wants to drive down then we'll have to fiddle with the days again)

This trip is actually a bonus trip. One day in February 2002 Paul and I were in the car discussing when we wanted to go to Disney World and where else we wanted to go this year. I figured he'd want to do one trip to an Island or maybe a cruise. But he surprised me by asking when our Premium Annual passes expire (September 8, 2002) and saying why not get even more value out of them by planning another Disney World trip prior to their expiration. At the time we were planning our April 2002 trip. Then the next night I received my Mickey Monitor and saw they are having special Annual Passholder rates at the various hotels so we thought maybe an August trip. We've never been in August and I'm sure it will be disgustingly hot and steamy, but since we go all the time, we don't have to keep running through the parks - we can spend the early morning at a park, spend the hot part of the day at either a water park or even the hotel pool, then back to a park at night.

Major Update - Paul interviewed to be on Wheel of Fortune back in June 2002. He was told he made it and would be a contestant and would be called sometime in the next 18 months. On 7/31/02 we received a message on our answering machine that he's being invited to the taping of the show on 8/22/02. That's the day we were supposed to go back to work after our Disney World Trip. We can't pass up Wheel of Fortune. So we're going to fly from Florida to California (may as well see Disney Land while we're there). I have to call Delta and see what I can do about the flights. And I have to research hotels in California too. We're probably going to shorten the Disney World (Florida) portion of our trip rather than being gone for 2 full weeks.

We decided to go to Florida from Tuesday 8/13 until Saturday 8/17; then fly to California and stay until Saturday 8/24. We debated skipping Florida entirely, but our annual passes expire soon as we really like Disney World. We will be changing hotels 3 times. 4 nights at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club (Beach Club side) while in Florida; 4 nights during the first portion of our California trip in Peacock Suites in Anaheim (near Disney Land), then the last 3 nights at the Radisson in Culver City (right near Wheel of Fortune) around Paul's taping for Wheel of Fortune.

Paul's brother Phil and his friend Peter volunteered to house sit / dog sit for us while we are gone. Peter loves Kiki so I know she'll be well taken care of while we're gone.

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

Lodging

Disney World - Florida
On 2/10/02 I booked 8 nights at Disney's Beach Club Resort for Saturday 8/10/02 through Sunday 8/18/02. With the Annual pass discount (code CFQ) it came out to $1,796 including tax.

After our April trip (which was a Tuesday to Tuesday trip), Paul mentioned how pleasant flying on a Tuesday was. There weren't any crowds. He said maybe we should do that this trip as well. We were debating maybe staying at a different hotel for Sunday through Tuesday (at the end of the trip) but then I didn't really want to have to unpack, then pack again to move; and be homeless for part of the day. On 6/13/02 I added 2 more nights at Disney's Beach Club Resort at the discounted rate for Sunday 8/18/02 and Monday 8/19/02 - checking out on Tuesday 8/20/02. As it gets closer we'll decide if we're going to go from Saturday to the following Tuesday or just arrive Tuesday and stay until the next Tuesday. It also depends on the flight situation.

On July 8, 2002 – I changed our reservation again. We are going from Tuesday 8/13 until Tuesday 8/20. Our new balance is $1,572.

On August 8, 2002 - I changed our reservation again. We are going from Tuesday 8/13 until Saturday 8/17 (due to having to go to California). Our new balance is $898.

California

On August 4, 2002 - I tried booking Disney's Grand California hotel but they were all booked for the time I wanted. The Disneyland hotel was available but they quoted me over $1,100 just for the room for 4 nights. That seemed pretty high.

On August 4, 2002 - I reserved Peacock Suites in Anaheim over the internet from Saturday 8/17/02 - Wednesday 8/21/02. When I tried calling I was told they didn't have availability for part of the time I was trying to book but I was able to book it over the internet. The total cost is $386.40. In 1997 when Paul and I were in California we went on a tour of this place (they were trying to sell us a timeshare). It's only a block or so from Disney Land and has a bedroom, living room, bathroom, microwave, and refrigerator. And the price was very good.

On August 4, 2002 - I called the Radisson in Culver City (near Wheel of Fortune) and booked a room for Wednesday 8/21/02 - Friday 8/23/02. The Wheel of Fortune contestant rate is about $105 per night so our total with tax is $236.14.

On August 5, 2002 - I called the Radisson in Culver City and added 1 more night so we will check out on Saturday 8/24/02. The total with tax is now $354.21.

Car Rental

Florida
We are definitely going to rent a car as we have in the past. Also, we've found a lot of fun things to do and restaurants we like off-site and want the flexibility to go. We may use the Disney transportation sometimes (for park hopping), but I like the convenience of knowing my car is waiting for me in a lot and not having to depend on a bus/tram/boat.

On 2/11/02, I reserved the following rental car:
National - A fullsize with unlimited mileage for $304.04. Used Disney Annual pass code (6600411) to get discount. Pickup is at the airport. This is for Saturday to Sunday.

On 2/19/02, I reserved the following rental car:
Avis - A fullsize with unlimited mileage for $283.21. Used AAA discount. Pickup is at the airport. This was for Sat 8/10-Sun 8/18. This was changed on 8/8/02 - I changed the dates to 8/13-8/20. The price went up to $318.82 with tax (even though it's for less days).

On 6/14/02, I reserved the following rental car:
National - A fullsize with unlimited mileage for $317.49. I booked on line using the Disney Annual pass discount code of 6600411. This is for Tues 8/13-Tues 8/20.

On 8/5/02, I reserved the following rental car over the internet:
National - A Full Size premium (was cheaper than the regular full size) with unlimited mileage for $243.06. This is for Tuesday 8/13 - Saturday 8/17.

As I made new reservations, I would cancel the old ones.

California
On 8/5/02, I reserved the following rental car over the internet:
National - A full size with unlimited mileage for $206.75. This is for Saturday 8/17/02 - Friday 8/23/02. This was cancelled when I made the next reservation.

On 8/5/02, I reserved the following rental car over the internet:
National - A full size with unlimited mileage for $206.75. This is for Saturday 8/17/02 - Saturday 8/24/02.

Flight
On 7/8/02 I booked our round trip Florida flight. $211 per person. On Delta Airlines on Tuesday 8/13/02 it's flight #2453 leaving from Newark Airport at 1:50pm landing in Orlando at 4:28pm. Coming home Tuesday 8/20/02 on Delta Airlines it's flight #2468 leaving Orlando at 5:15pm landing at Newark Airport at 7:58pm.

On 8/5/02 I called Delta about changing our flight to go from Newark to Orlando to LA to Newark. I was quoted a ridiculous price over $1200 each. The woman was very nice and tried many times to come up with something better. Even suggesting booking a separate round trip and just not taking the return on our original flight.

I also called America West and found a flight from Orlando to LA; then from LA to Newark (A multi destination ticket as opposed to round trip). Unfortunately, it's not direct.

On Saturday 8/17 it's flight #794 leaving Orlando at 5:02pm and landing in Phoenix at 6:21pm. Then flight #35 leaving Phoenix at 7:05pm and landing in LA at 8:34 pm.

On Saturday 8/24 it's flight #683 leaving LA as 12:35pm and landing in Phoenix at 2:01pm (it stays there an hour and we don't have to change planes or anything) then takes off at 3:04 and lands in Newark at 10:49pm.

The cost for this flight is $528 each and it's non refundable. We would use the first leg of our original Delta flight to Orlando and just not use the return portion. So the flights for this trip in total will cost $739 each.

We are going to use long term parking right near Newark airport at Corporate Park. We used them for our last Disney trip and it was great.

Attractions
Since we are cutting the Disney World portion of our trip, we aren't going to have as much time to do the things we were thinking of when originally planning this trip. We were thinking of going to Discovery Cove so we can swim with the Dolphins. We swam with Dolphins during our trip to Hawaii in September 2000 and really enjoyed it. However, I read in someone's trip report that went that most of the attractions (including swimming with the dolphins) are in deep water. Paul doesn't know how to swim so we weren't 100% sure about this. We were debating spending a day at Sea World and Universal Islands of Adventure since we haven't done that in a few trips. I think we are going to focus on Disney things while in Florida since we have the premium annual passes.

In California we plan to go to California Adventure and Disney Land. I read in a guide book that you only need a day at each park to see it. Paul also wants to go to a baseball game on Sunday since the Mets (the team he likes) are playing against the California team (sorry I don't know their name). Paul realized he mixed up the timing of the baseball game - the Mets aren't going to be in LA this week. Thursday is the Wheel of Fortune taping. Other than these things, we'll play it by ear. Maybe we'll get to Knott's Berry Farm or Sea World or Universal or Six Flags in California.

Food
There are some restaurants we've been to on previous trips and will probably repeat. One of the restaurants I'm hoping to try for the first time this trip is Citricos in the Grand Floridian. Some of the restaurants we've visited in the past and will probably repeat are Beaches & Cream at the Beach Club, Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Cape May Café at the Beach Club.

We find it hard making dinner and/or lunch reservations in advance. We're usually very spontaneous with these things. I don't know what I'll want to eat two months later or even what time I'll want to eat. We've also run into a few problems during our trips because we'll run around at the parks and by the time we leave and are ready to eat dinner it's late and many times the restaurants are closed by the time we get there. We've ended up with cereal, leftovers, or any 24hour place we can find for dinner several times during our last few trips.

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

On July 11, 2002 - I made the following priority seatings:

Wed 8/14 - Jiko 8PM
Fri 8/16 - Boma 10AM
Fri 8/16 - California Grill 8PM
Sat 8/17 - Citricos 8PM
Mon 8/19 - Cape May Café 8PM

On July 11, 2002 - I made the following reservation:
Thursday 8/15 - Emerils - 12:30pm

We're going to have to cancel/rearrange at least the Citricos and Cape May Café ones with our new California plans.

Admission Media
Paul and I bought premium annual passes for Walt Disney World in Florida during our September 2001 trip. We also have one day left on our Universal passes that include Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.

For California, I read there are hopper tickets for the 2 parks (Disney Land and California Adventure) which we will look into when we get there.

Other People
Paul likes to invite other people to join us in Disney World. I like to run around (typical commando mode) while Paul is more laid back. If other people are with us, it tends to slow us down a little. Also, the Disney Annual Pass special allows you to book rooms for friends/family at the same lower rates. It looks like it's just going to be us though this time.

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

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

DAY BY DAY

The week before our trip

Work was busy the week before our trip especially knowing we'd be gone for almost two weeks. Paul went to Foxwoods with his friend Steve on Thursday 8/8 and ended up doing well so stayed over. We spent much of the weekend cleaning up and packing and spending time with Kiki.

The day before our trip - Monday 8/12/02

Monday was busy at work and I didn't leave until almost 7pm. I was there from 7:15 in the morning so it was a long day.

Tuesday 8/13/02
Tentative Plan: Fly to Orlando; Check in Disney's Beach Club Resort; Eride Night at MK

The day of our trip finally arrived. Our flight isn't until the afternoon so we had time in the morning to finish some last minute errands, such as picking up dry cleaning, stopping at the post office, etc.

We didn't leave until almost 12 noon for our 1:50 flight. I though for sure we'd miss it. We got to the long term parking lot around 12:50. They loaded us into a van and took us to the airport very quickly. We arrived at the airport around 1pm and did curbside check in. We went right through security without any hassles. We grabbed some pretzels from Wetzels Pretzels ($8) for lunch since we knew we wouldn't be eating anything else until dinner tonight in Florida. We boarded and even have exit rows. This was really nice - a lot of legroom.

The flight was fine, but I ended up with a headache during the flight. The headache went away the minute we landed.

We landed about 4:30 to rain. Paul went to get the rental car while I got the luggage. We have a navy blue Chrysler Concorde. We drove in a torrential downpour towards the hotel. We stopped at Eckerd for some things like a water camera, bottled water, etc.

We valet parked at the Beach Club. We checked in and were upgraded to a water view room. Paul smokes so I asked for a smoking room. She said they only have 2 queen beds in the smoking room, but if we wanted the king bed, Paul would have to smoke on the balcony. I asked which was a nicer room and she said "You definitely want the King room". So we took it. I also asked for a refrigerator in the room. We're in room 4727 - all the way at the end of a long hallway. We have two balconies - one faces stormalong bay and the other faces the construction at Beach Club Villas. The bed may be a Murphy bed. It looks like it could fold up into the wall. The room has an interesting set up. There is a couch, a table with chairs, and two more chairs, along with some end tables, and the entertainment center with TV. There seems to be a lot of wasted space though. It's definitely bigger than the normal hotel room (which the CM said the room would be).

We got settled in and did some unpacking. While unpacking Paul's suit (he'll need it for Wheel of Fortune) so we can hang it up; his $500 chip from Foxwoods fell out of his pocket. We've been looking for this chip for a few weeks. We went to Foxwoods (a casino in Connecticut) a couple of weeks ago and Paul did very well winning almost $3,000. He brought some of it home in chips so he'll just use them the next time we go back. And we couldn't find this chip. Turns out we went to a wedding the night we came back from Foxwoods and Paul put the chip into his suit pocket. And it came back from the dry cleaner with the chip still in the pocket. He hasn't had to wear the suit since so we finally found it.

We're debating whether or not to go to Eride tonight at the Magic Kingdom but it's still raining pretty hard and some of the rides will close in the rain. There is another Eride on Friday so we can always do that one instead.

We were planning to go to Beaches and Cream for a quick dinner, but were sidetracked by Martha's Vineyard. Not for the reasons most people would go (a glass of wine) but because Wheel of Fortune was on the TV and Paul wanted to go watch since his taping is next week.

After Wheel of Fortune we went to Beaches and Cream. It was kind of crowded so we sat at the counter. I had the cheeseburger with fries and a sprite. Paul had the prime rib sandwich with onion rings and a black and white shake. Dinner cost $32.52 with tax and tip. While we were eating 3 different groups of people ordered the "Kitchen Sink". They made a whole production of serving it - dimming the lights and all. Those things were huge. It was kind of nice where we were sitting - we were able to watch them making all the sundaes.

We walked along the water for a little while - Paul sat on one of the swings on the beach even though it was still wet.

We decided to skip Eride tonight due to the rain and Paul was tired and not feeling well. So we went back to the room and watched American Idol at 9pm. Paul fell asleep while it was on.

Did we meet the tentative plan? We didn't make it to Eride

Wednesday 8/14/02
Tentative Plan: Kona Café breakfast; MGM; Hotel Pool; Jiko 8pm; Pleasure Island

Paul didn't get a good night's sleep last night. He didn't feel well and was up every hour.

I was up and ready to go, but Paul was still sleeping. I went down to the gift shop to look around, then grabbed some towels and packed our beach bag in case we decided to go to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.

I called the front desk about the refrigerator we were supposed to get yesterday and never received. The woman was very apologetic and said she'd send one right up at no charge. Someone was knocking on our door within 15 minutes with the refrigerator.

I was able to get Paul up and ready to leave by about 10am. We went to the Polynesian to have breakfast at the Kona Café. The valet guy at the Polynesian had an attitude. When we pulled up, he asked if we wanted to self park so we said no. Then he asked if we were checking in. Again, No. We're just here for breakfast. So he said do we have the 3 hours parking pass we got at the front gate. I told him it's on the visor. He said "You have to put in on the dashboard so we know what time you'll be out". He definitely needed an attitude adjustment. We're valet parking at the Beach Club and they are pleasant.

We were seated immediately at the Kona Café. I had the Tonga Toast with bacon and apple juice. Paul had the Big Kahuna breakfast (this includes eggs, pancakes, French toast, potatoes, bacon, ham, and sausage), orange juice and coffee. The Tonga Toast was very sweet. It tasted good, but after a few bites, I had enough of it. Breakfast came to $30 with tax and tip.

We retrieved the car back from the valet guy (luckily not the same nasty guy from before) and drove back to the Beach Club. Paul had to call the lady from Wheel of Fortune to have her send his package to him here in Florida.

We took the boat to MGM around noon. We just made the 12:30 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game. We always enjoy playing this. I made it to the top 10 board once, but not into the hot seat.

We grabbed fastpasses for Tower of Terror (they were good from 3-4), and then started watching the 1:15 Beauty and the Beast Show. It started pouring during the show and they cancelled it in the middle. We tried to stay under cover for the worst of the storm. Then we went on the standby line for Tower of Terror which was only posted at 20 minutes. Paul got the seat belt seat. He said he even went out of his seat a few times. This poor woman sitting next to me was petrified.

We saw Muppets next. This is always cute. It was more crowded than it's been the last few times we've seen it.

We tried to make the 2:25 Millionaire show, but they were full. So we headed out to the boat to go back to the Beach Club and go swimming in Stormalong Bay. We just missed the boat and waited about 15 minutes for the next one. We met some very nice people waiting for the boat. They both were Disney Cast Members here on the college program. We chatted with them while waiting as well as the whole boat ride.

When it isn't raining it's been very hot out. We expected that since it's August. We haven't been running around in our usual commando mode since we've been here often and don't feel the need to see everything again this trip,. If the weather was better we probably would be in usual commando mode, but since it's not, we're taking it a little easier. Paul still isn't feeling that great.

When we got back to the Beach Club it started pouring and they closed the pool. We wanted to grab a quick snack (maybe some chicken fingers but Hurricane Hanna's closed too). We ended up getting some crackers and cheese in the gift shop ($5).

After about an hour, Stormalong Bay (the pool) was reopened. We quickly changed into our suits and went down to play. I went down the slide a few times (Paul didn't want to because last time he got stuck on it). We played in the quicksand area. I swam around the lazy river portion. This pool is so nice. It wasn't warm and sunny but drizzling while we were playing but that's OK (less chance of sunburn).

We came back up to get ready for dinner around 7. We drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for our dinner at Jiko. We valet parked here as well and everyone was very pleasant. Paul was surprised because I knew exactly where I was going in the hotel to get to the restaurant. I just stayed here in May so it was fresh in my mind (had to go to Orlando on business so added a few days at a nice Savannah View Room at Animal Kingdom Lodge to make use of the annual passes - Paul couldn't make it for those few days so I was on my own).

We started with the Duck Firecracker appetizer that contains hot and cold duck spring and summer rolls with a hoisin dipping sauce. This was good. They also served bread with their spread. I was debating having the sea bass but it said it was in a spicy sauce (I don't like spicy food) so I asked how spicy it is. The waiter brought me a little bowl of the sauce to taste it and see if it was too spicy for me. It was too spicy so I stuck with the Monkfish (which I had last time we were here so knew it was very good) that comes with summer vegetables and parsnips. Paul had the Lamb shank that came with mashed potatoes. Paul had iced tea and I had sprite. The waiter was quick to refill our drinks as needed. For dessert I had the Pistachio Crème Brulee and Paul had the Kilamanjaro cake (which is chocolate and peanut butter covered in a chocolate malt sauce). We couldn't finish our desserts, but one of them was free with the American Express deal (spend $50 and get a free dessert). You have to ask for it though. Our bill with tax and tip was $86.71.

We walked around Animal Kingdom Lodge for a little while after eating.

We drove over to Pleasure Island. We arrived around 10pm so went into 8Traxx for a little while. Then we headed over to see the 10:30 comedy warehouse show. It was very crowded and we ended up on the back row of stools without a counter in front of us. The show was funny and we both enjoyed it. When it ended it was pouring out. We stood under a canopy hoping it would let up soon. It didn't so we ran through the rain back into 8Traxx (it was closest to where we were) and danced for a while. We left around 12:45am and headed back to the Beach Club.

When we got back to the Beach Club the normal valet people weren't out, but there was a sign to just bring the keys into the front desk so that's what we did.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes, we did everything on our tentative plan

Thursday 8/15/02
Tentative Plan: Typhoon Lagoon, Epcot; Emerils 12:30pm

We woke up to clouds and an overcast day. So we decided we better not head right over to Typhoon Lagoon. Good choice as it rained most of the day and was cloudy when it wasn't raining.

We walked over to Epcot around 10:30. It was a very quick walk. Paul kept saying "We're early the park isn't even open yet." We walked in through the International Gateway so World Showcase was still closed. We walked over to Future World and saw plenty of people and things open.

We went to the Fountainview Café for some breakfast. I had a cheese Danish and apple juice; Paul had a croissant and coffee; we also shared a fruit cup. The total was about $11.

After eating we each called our respective offices to check in on work. Then we called Peter (Paul's brother's friend who is house/dog sitting for us). He said everything is going fine.

We went into the newly redone Journey Into Imagination. There was no wait at all. It was very cute. I vaguely remember the original as being cute, but I didn't dislike the first revision of it either. Now, having seen this one - it's definitely a big improvement over the first revision.

Walking through imageworks after the ride, we spotted these crystal cubes that they can put your picture in. We spent a while there looking at them and finally choosing the big block in the 100 Years of Magic Base. We had our pictures taken for the cube as well as had them scan a picture of Kiki (our puppy) so she can be in the cube too. Since it wouldn't be ready in time to be sent to the hotel, they are going to ship it home for us at no charge. In a way that's better since we won't have to try to fit it in the luggage and have it come to California with us before going home.

It was pouring when we left Imageworks so we went right into Honey I Shrunk the Audience. We usually try to see this each trip as it's always funny. There were a lot of people that must have been seeing this for the first time because so many people were screaming at the special effects.

We walked over to the Land and went into the Annual Passholder Lounge for a little while to figure out what else we wanted to do today.

The line for Living with the Land was 45 minutes so we weren't going to go on. As we were walking past, we saw the guy we met on the boat from MGM yesterday working the loading area for the boat. We went over to say Hello and he put us right in the front row of the boat bypassing the whole line. We weren't planning to go on, just to say Hello to him; but he said "Go Ahead". So off we went for the ride. I like this attraction. When we got off, we didn't see him anymore. So we wandered around for a little while and sure enough he was now on the boat giving the speech. He asked if we wanted to go again, but there was a huge line and we didn't want to make others wait any longer because we were getting special treatment. So we declined, and said our goodbyes.

We stopped at Harry Ramsden's counter service fish place in England on the way out and got an order of fish and chips to share ($7.50). We ate this on one of the benches just outside the exit at International Gateway. We continued walking back to the Beach Club and got the car from the Valet and drove over to the Florida Mall. This is a pretty big mall. Paul needed to get his watch fixed (the battery died). We tried several places before we found one that is able to fix it. Paul has a Tag Heuer watch that he's had for 4 ½ years. This is the first time the battery stopped. Many of the places weren't able to fix a Tag watch. Finally, Mayor's jewelry said they'd be able to fix it and it would take about 20 minutes.

So we wandered around the mall and tried to do some shopping. We stopped at the food court and Paul got a Chinese food combination plate. I got loaded fries (with cheese and bacon) from the A&W place. Paul told me to get a hot dog too, but I didn't eat it after all (he did). Cost about $16.

His watch was ready by the time we went back to the jewelry store. It cost $29 to fix.

It was pouring again when we left the mall. And traffic on I4 was bad. It was about 5:15 so we were right in rush hour. We drove to the Polynesian and valet parked there.

Then we took the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We arrived at 6:15. Unfortunately, Carousel of Progress closed at 6. We'll have to come back to see that - I really think it's cute and Paul usually takes a nap in there.

We walked right onto Pirates of the Caribbean with no wait whatsoever.

Then we picked up fast passes for Splash Mountain which are good from 7:30 - 8:30.

We waited 15 minutes for the Haunted Mansion. This is another one I like to see whenever I'm at Disney. When leaving Haunted Mansion there was big commotion. Coby Bryant (a famous basketball player from California) was there. I didn't know who he was but Paul filled me in.

We even waited 10 minutes for Small World. That's odd that there was a wait for Small World but none for Pirates.

Winnie the Pooh had an hour wait so we grabbed fast passes which were good from 8:30 - 9:30 and headed to TomorrowLand.

We went on the TTA (peoplemover). The people that were in the car in front of us just were riding this over and over it seemed. They were already in the car when it pulled up for us to get on and they didn't get off when it pulled back in at the end of our ride - they went on again.

We waited 35 minutes for Space Mountain. I enjoyed this ride more than I remembered enjoying it in the past. We haven't gone on this in a few trips because the lines have been long.

Once we finished Space Mountain it was time for our Pooh Fastpasses so we went back to FantasyLand and rode. This is a very cute ride, but definitely not worth waiting an hour for.

We tried leaving Magic Kingdom next. It was rough going since SpectroMagic just started. We made it onto the Resort Monorail and headed back to the Polynesian. We were thinking of going to Cape May Café for dinner, but didn't get back to the Polynesian until 9:40 and Cape May closes at 9:30. So we had dinner at O'Hana instead since we were there and they were open until 10. We had a nice seat along the window and were able to see the fireworks from Magic Kingdom when they went on at 10. Dinner at O'Hana was good as usual. We're still disappointed that they eliminated the egg rolls and lo mein. Cost with tax and tip was $60.

We retrieved the car from the valet and drove back to the Beach Club.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Rain prohibited us from spending time at Typhoon Lagoon and we weren't in the mood for a big lunch at Emeril's but we did make it to Epcot even through we changed the rest of the plans.

Friday 8/16/02
Tentative Plan: Boma 10am; Epcot; Typhoon Lagoon; California Grill 8pm; maybe Eride at MK if don't make it on Tuesday

We packed our beach bag for Typhoon Lagoon and took the car over to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

We had our breakfast at Boma. We did not like the Frunch (their mixed juice) so stuck with the traditional apple and orange juice. We saw the famous Coby Bryant again - having breakfast at Boma also. Cost with tax and tip was $36. I've read rave reviews about this place on the internet; we thought it was good but our expectations were too high after the raves we read so it didn't live up to the hype.

We headed over to Typhoon Lagoon after breakfast. The parking lot was packed. There were CM's guiding you to parking (like they do at the Theme Parks). We ended up parking pretty far away. Paul rented a locker while I changed. We headed over to the lazy river. There was a line to get in for tubes. So we waited along with everyone else. While waiting, some jerk decided to just skip the line (which would be fine if he just wanted to wander through the lazy river without a tube) and grabbed the next available tube. The New Yorker in me came out and I loudly admonished him saying something along the lines of "You realize there is a whole line of people here waiting their turn to get a tube, yet you disregarded the line and went ahead of everyone and took the next available one?" He gave some lame excuse that his daughter was there and he was trying to catch up with her. Sure she is. A lady on line congratulated me saying that was very well said. The jerk still got ahead of the whole line. But you can't let it ruin your day. We were in our tubes shortly after floating down the river. As soon as we got our tubes it started drizzling. It didn't last long and stopped within a few minutes. About 10 minutes later - it poured. We kept floating along as did many other people. We were wet already.

The rain finally stopped and we headed over to the Wave Pool. It was very crowded here too. But we went in and played for a while. There was a little boy who was obviously a very big Disney Fan. He had his head shaved except in the back - the design of Mickey Mouse's head (the 3 circles). He was probably only 8 years old - I guess his parents are big Disney fans too.

We finally got out (still pouring rain out) around 3 pm and went to Leaning Palms. We shared a cheese pizza (not good at all) and some fries and soda. We weren't that hungry but thought we should eat something.

After eating we headed over to Downtown Disney. We did a little shopping. We bought a few ornaments. We also saw these cute candle covers so bought them, but had them shipped home since we didn't want to have to pack and lug fragile stuff all the way to California and back. We found a cute bib for Jillian (our niece) and had it personalized with her name.

We headed back to the Beach Club when we were done with our shopping.

We showered and hung out making our evening plans. Originally we were planning to eat at Cape May Café (we decided against our priority seating at California Grille) early then head to Magic Kingdom and to Eride night.

We ended up eating dinner around 7:30 at Cape May Cafe. Total with tax and tip was $60. We were done by 8:30 but were really stuffed. We debated whether or not to go to Eride. We already went on most of the rides that are open for it that we wanted to go on. The only thing I really wanted to go on still was Buzz Lightyear and Carousel of Progress. So we decided to skip Eride after all.

After eating we wandered around to the Boardwalk. We stopped in Atlantic Dance and watched the band that was performing. We were there for a while.

Then we played some of the midway type games. Paul convinced me to play too - the one where you through a ball and try to knock over these blocks. I shocked myself and did and won a stuffed animal. I'm never any good at these. Paul played and also won a stuffed animal. We could have gotten 1 big or 2 medium. We chose the 2 medium since they'll fit in the suitcase better and Kiki (our puppy) will have 2 new toys instead of 1 (she loves stuffed animals better than her dog toys).

We stopped at ESPN club and Paul played some video games. He also bought a new shirt and hat (cost about $45). Hats are another thing Kiki (our puppy) loves to chew on so Paul always is buying more - not for her to chew on but for him to wear. She always manages to get to his hats so he's constantly replacing them.

While walking we were discussing the Disney Vacation Club. Paul didn't believe me when I told him it costs $80 per point. So we stopped in the DVC sales office on the Boardwalk just to ask. They confirmed what I said - the cost is $80 per point. We spoke with the guy there for a while and ended up arranging a tour tomorrow morning at 10. Paul said if he wins on Wheel of Fortune we can buy into the Disney Vacation Club. We already own at Vistana (a timeshare right outside Disney) but I really like Disney property.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Only part of it - we went to Boma and Typhoon Lagoon.

Saturday 8/17/02
Tentative Plan: Check out Disney's Beach Club; Fly to California; Check in Peacock Suites

We headed over to the Boardwalk in the morning for our tour about Disney Vacation Club. We stopped in Beaches & Cream on the way since they have a breakfast set up - we grabbed a fruit boat and a croissant which we ate on the way over. Cost $7.50. The boat was coming so we jumped on instead of walking across. Since we were there a few years ago and already knew the basics, they didn't keep us too long. Just gave us the new information on prices and stuff. We also received certificates for a meal at a fast food places (various ones were listed on the certificate).

We went back to the Beach Club, finished packing, and had the valet bring our bags down and load up the car.

We drove over to Magic Kingdom next. It was very hot today - hotter and sunnier than it's been since we've been here.

Carousel of Progress was supposed to be open (according to the map/guide) but when we got there we were told it's closed for the season. We asked when it normally is open. The CM says during the summer. Hello- isn't August 17 and 100 degrees considered the summer? I didn't ask her this, just thought it. This was the main reason we came back to Magic Kingdom today.

We went on TTA - surprisingly there was even a line for this.

Buzz Lightyear had an hour wait and the fast passes weren't good until 5:30 (we'd already be on our way to California).

Surprisingly, Alien Encounter had no wait so we went on. We haven't gone on this in a few trips, but it was fun.

When we headed all the way across the park to go to Peco Bill's for lunch. With our certificate we were each entitled to a meal combo (or an entrée, side, and drink) plus dessert. I had the cheeseburger with fries, sprite, and a root beer float; Paul had the double cheeseburger with bacon, fries, coke, and a root beer float. Since we used the certificates it cost zero. However, if we had to pay - this would have been about $25.

We left to go to the airport. Although it was hot and sunny all day, it started pouring while we were on our way. Our flight was at 5:02 and we didn't get to the airport until 4pm. We returned the car and headed over to the terminal. There was a huge line. We couldn't do curbside check in because our flight was in less than an hour. The line in the terminal wrapped around endlessly. We were told there was a person working the line checking for people who's flights were scheduled to leave to move them up in line - however, I never saw this person. I went up to the head of the line and asked one of the agents to help me. He did and got us checked in. I felt bad to cut off all the people waiting but I didn't want to miss my flight. Of course, we were tagged for the extra security bag check so all our luggage was brought to a special Xray machine and had to go through there. Then we had to run for our flight. When boarding, once again, we were tagged for special security checks - we had to take off our shoes, etc.

The flight was full. It ended up leaving about 20 minutes late. We watched the movie "Spiderman" during the flight from Florida to Phoenix Arizona. We got off the plane in Phoenix to make the connection - it was 106 degrees in Phoenix. We made our connection OK - another full flight. We were in the very last row of the plane. I was smushed between Paul and some other big guy. Luckily it's only a 55 minute flight - it was a long 55 minutes.

We finally landed in Los Angeles - just a few minutes later than our scheduled arrival time.

We went to pick up the luggage. One of the bags we checked didn't make it. Paul decided to check his knapsack and that's what was missing. Silly of Paul- he had his wallet in there - luckily he had his driver's license and money in his pocket. We went to the baggage assistance area and they already knew where our bag was - it didn't make the plane in Orlando but was being re-routed through Las Vegas and would arrive around 1am. They were going to deliver it to our hotel for us.

We took the shuttle to National Car Rental. All the car rentals had shuttles to get to them. We waited about 15 minutes in line to see the clerk at National. He was very pleasant. Paul wanted to upgrade from the full size we booked and was joking around with the guy. He wanted to get the PT Cruiser - I think it's a silly looking car and unnecessary. It would cost almost $200 extra for the week. That's ridiculous. So with Paul and the guy joking around - he got him to give it to us for only an extra $100 for the week. So we picked a nice Silver colored one and were on our way. I still think they are silly looking cars.

It was about 9:30pm California time. We stopped at a Taco Bell drive through on the way to the hotel to pick up some dinner. We bought a variety of things for about $12. We also went into the Mini Mart and bought a bottle of Sprite. Our bodies were still on East Coast time so we were pretty tired.

We found Peacock Suites without too much trouble. We checked in. We're in room #228 which is right when you get off the elevator. It's not Disney, but it's pretty cute. When you first enter the room, there is a sink/mirror/vanity area on your right. The bathroom is to the left. You walk further into the room and you are in the bedroom with a king size bed, nightstands, dresser, TV, and armoire. Keep walking and the next room is the living room which is separated from the bedroom by sliding glass doors with curtains. The living room has a couch (which has a pull out bed), a table, chairs, and entertainment center with TV/VCR, refrigerator, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, etc.

We sat at the little table and ate our Taco Bell dinner.

Although I like to unpack in hotels, Paul convinced me to try living out of the suitcases here.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

Sunday 8/18/02
Tentative Plan: DisneyLand

I was up by 6am and couldn't sleep. So I showered and got ready. I had to find the clothes I wanted to wear since we were living out of the suitcases. I definitely prefer to unpack.

I took the laundry up to the laundry room around 7am, but they don't open until 8am. Then I couldn't get back in the room. Luckily, my banging on the door woke Paul who let me in. I called the front desk - Paul's knapsack still didn't arrive and I told them about the key not working. They sent someone right up. It turns out I wasn't using the key correctly - you need to leave it in the door while you push the handle so it's fine now.

I called America West to check on the luggage but there was no answer.

Around 7:30 I went to pick up some breakfast. Peacock Suites offers a free continental breakfast each morning at the hotel. I picked up cereal, Danish, toast, juice and coffee and brought it back to the room.

At 8am I went back to the laundry and used two machines (one regular cycle and one delicate cycle) to wash our clothes.

I was finally able to get in touch with America West - they said the luggage should be here by 12.

Paul and I were figuring out our plans and what we wanted to do. One of the brochures he picked up in the hotel lobby shows that a Harrah's Casino just opened (August 8) near San Diego. He suggested we go to the Casino today and start with Disney tomorrow.

When the laundry finished we headed over to Downtown Disney. We went in World of Disney and spent $260.65 on souvenirs and stuff. We had it shipped home. We also bought 3 Day DisneyLand/California Adventure hopper passes. With the Disney Club discount these came out to $208 for both of them.

We walked through the Grand Californian Hotel (Disney's new hotel). The lobby reminded me of the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World - but it didn't have the same cozy Disney feel that we get in Orlando.

We stopped at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express for lunch. Paul had the Gumbo Ya Ya. I had the chicken Po Boy sandwich with fries. We both had soda. We also bought an order of beignets. The cost was approximately $20. The po boy was basically chicken fingers on a roll (no big deal).

We went back to Peacock Suites and Paul's bag was here. The lady that gave us directions last night from the Mini Mart was working the guest services desk. The wanted us to go on their timeshare presentation. She was kind of pushy and annoying about it. In the end, we basically told her no.

We called our house to see how things are going. Peter is having a good time with Kiki. Him and Phil rented a machine and cleaned our rugs; they also cleaned our windows. They took Kiki up to the lake to swim. They met a lot of the neighbors. They were having a barbecue and had a bunch of people over.

We said hello and were talking to Kiki over the phone. Peter told us that when I was talking to her she started licking the phone; and when Paul was talking to her she did her twirly bird dance (she spins around in circles and we call it twirly bird).

We left to find the Harrah's near San Diego. It took us about 1 ½ hours to get there. We drove through all these mountainous and open areas. We passed several other casino's along the way (not any big names we knew of)

It was really crowded at Harrah's - probably because they've only been open about a week. We had some fun gambling. It was very congested - not just because it was crowded, but the layout wasn't that great. We had dinner at the Chinese restaurant in the casino. We had pot stickers, shui mai, chicken chow fun, beef noodles, and soda. The cost with tax and tip was $42. The food was pretty good, but they were very disorganized.

We left to drive back to Anaheim around midnight. We got back quicker than going - one of the security guys told us to try a different route (basically eliminating the 40 miles on the small road and spending more time on a freeway so we were able to go quicker). We got back around 1am.

Did we meet the tentative plan? No, we changed our plans

Monday 8/19/02
Tentative Plan: California Adventure

When I woke up today the light in the bathroom blew out. So I used a bag to prop the door open and showered/got ready in semi darkness. I called the front desk and they sent someone up right away to change the light bulb.

I picked up breakfast from the continental buffet set up at the hotel for us again. Paul wasn't thrilled with it and was still hungry. On the way to Disney (only a few blocks away) we stopped at the Burger King drive through and got Paul a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant with potatoes and orange juice for $3.50. He ate in the car while we drove to California Adventure. It cost $8 to park at Disney. California Adventure opened at 10 and we were there about 10:20. We went through security with no problems.

Our first stop was Soarin Over California. There was a 45 minute wait posted so we went through the single rider line and were on in 10 minutes. I liked this attraction. Paul, whose work involves videos, scrutinized the transitions from scene to scene.

We took pictures with Flik and went into Tough to Be a Bug. There was no wait to go in, just waited a few minutes for the show to start.

We headed over towards Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The first show was at 12. While waiting we took pictures with Goofy, Mickey, Donald, etc. who were in the area. We went into the Millionaire show a few minutes before 12. I made it to the top 10 board as did Paul but neither of us made it to the hot seat.

We got a fastpass for California Screamin which was good from 1:30 - 2:30. Then we played some of the midway games.

We went on the Sun Wheel and waited about ½ hour for the swinging cars. This is similar to the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island in concept.

Next we went on the Maliboomer with no wait. You really bounce out of your seat at the top.

We went on California Screamin using our fastpasses next. The ride is a very smooth coaster even though you flip over and go up and down some big drops.

We found Pizza Oom Mow Mow to take a picture of the name. My sister and I have called our mother Oom for years so it was pretty funny to see it in print somewhere. While there we shared a slice of pizza and got soda in a souvenir cup - cost $12.

We went to Golden Dreams next. It wasn't crowded but we waited 15 minutes for the next show. Paul napped during the show - I liked it.

We walked by Grizzly River run and got fastpasses for it which were good from 5:30-6:30. It's pretty chilly out so I don't know if we're going to use them.

We wandered around some. We looked at the menu for Soap Opera Bistro but weren't in the mood.

We walked over to Downtown Disney around 4:30. Naples Pizza had a special for their take away window - for $5 you get a slice of pizza and soda. So we each had that (vegetable pizza) which was very good - Cost $10.

We looked in some of the stores at Downtown Disney, then we left and looked for a place for Paul to get a computer game of Wheel of Fortune so he can practice. We found it in Target. We went back to the hotel and Paul played with the game for a little while. Part of it didn't work.

We made a reservation for Blue Bayou for Tomorrow at 4:30 (it was either that or 9pm). We planned to go to Yamabuki for dinner then catch the 10:30 Fantasmic show.

When we got back to DisneyLand it was 8:45 so we decided to see the 9pm Fantasmic instead. The show was good. I didn't like the fact that it wasn't in a stadium (like in Orlando) since it was hard to see unless you staked out a spot early. But the show itself was better than the one in Orlando. The effects were good. The dragon was scarier.

We went on Pirates of the Caribbean with no wait. Last time we were in Disney Land (1997) this was being rehabbed so this was our first time seeing the Disney Land version. We both liked it better than the one in Florida. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of my favorites in Florida normally so I was surprised at how superior this one was.

When we got out of Pirates it was 9:45 and we didn't think we'd be able to make it over to Yamabuki at the Disney Pacific hotel before they closed at 10. We were right near Blue Bayou so we asked if we were too late for dinner. We were seated immediately right along the water.

For appetizers we ordered fried calamari which was very good and not greasy at all and andouille sausage stuffed mushrooms which Paul liked but I didn't. We shared an entrée - the special which was beef tenderloin and crab cakes. It came with gumbo, potatoes, broccoli, and rice. I had soda and Paul had iced tea. The entrée was very good. This was a good suggestion of Paul's - to share the entrée. As it was we didn't finish, and brought a lot of it back to the hotel. Total with tax and tip was $62.63. We usually enjoy appetizers more than entrees.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

Tuesday 8/20/02
Tentative Plan: Finish up California Adventure/DisneyLand

Paul was very sleepy today and I wasn't able to get him out of the room until about 10:30am. We drove over to Knott's Berry Farm. We didn't go to the park, but we shopped in the stores. We had an early lunch at Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant around 11:45. I had the chicken & dumplings with chicken noodle soup and corn; Paul had the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup. We both had soda. For dessert - we had boysenberry pie. The cost with tax and tip was $26.

Paul had picked up a brochure from a place called Dromo1 near Anaheim. It is an indoor racing type of place. We drove over there. It was souped up go carts. It cost $20 for Paul to use the go cart, get a special riding suit/helmet/etc and have some practice laps, then a 21 lap race. They did a very nice job here. You even receive a computerized print out of how you did at the end. After racing, he was very tired.

We headed over to Disney Land around 4:30.

We were planning to get on the railroad and ride around the park, but the 4:45 parade of stars was about to start. We were up at the train station and there was space on the benches overlooking Main Street. So we sat to watch the parade. We were at the end of the route so it didn't get to us until around 5pm. It was a very nice parade. There was very good audience participation. The audience members were given outfits (grass skirts type of things) and had a whole routine to perform with the characters/parade people.

After the parade, we took the railroad to TomorrowLand. We went on the Matterhorn with about a 20 minute wait. This is cute, but it's a pretty jerky ride.

We went on Small World next. Surprisingly, there was a 20 minute wait for this as well. They are doing some refurbishing of the attraction so some of it is boarded up.

We waited 45 minutes for Indiana Jones. It was fun but not worth that long a wait.

We were planning to go on Big Thunder Mountain, but it was closed. So we were planning to take the Monorail over to Paradise Pier Hotel - that was down too. Aside from walking, the monorail is the only way to get to the Disney Hotels. Luckily it came back up in 5 minutes and we took the monorail over.

We had dinner at Yamabuki in the Paradise Pier Hotel. They've changed it since we were here in 1997. It was very good though. We had the shrimp tempura appetizer, 4 pieces of eel sushi, a California Roll, a Rainbow Roll, and a spicy tuna roll. We both had soda. The total with tax and tip was about $68.

After eating we walked through the Grand California hotel and into California Adventure. We went on Grizzly River Rapids with no wait. I put on my poncho because I didn't want to get soaked. We were the only 2 people on our raft. It was a lot of fun. We didn't get drenched - Paul only got a little wet and I was pretty dry thanks to the poncho.

Then we went on the Sun Wheel - this time in the stationary cars instead of the moving cars.

Paul played some of the midway games and the park was closing around us.

On the way out we stopped at Burrbank cones and shared an ice cream cone. But not just a regular cone - it was a homemade waffle cone with the top dipped in chocolate then rolled in butterfinger bits. We had one scoop of mint chocolate chip and one scoop of Fantasia (banana, pistachio, and cherry). It was really good and worth the $5 it cost.

We went into World of Disney next and did yet some more shopping.

Then we headed back to Peacock Suites.

Did we meet the tentative plan? We spent time in both Disney Parks but still aren't finished - we'll finish up tomorrow

Wednesday 8/21/02
Tentative Plan: Check out Peacock Suites; Check in Radisson

This morning I rearranged our suitcases again trying to get everything in. Around 9:30 I went to do one load of laundry - nothing delicate that would need to hang dry but the stuff that can go in the dryer. It was really crowded in the laundry room. I finally was able to get a washing machine. Then had to wait a little for the dryer once the washer was done.

We checked out about 11am. We stopped at a donut place to get some donuts on the way to DisneyLand - cost about $3.

We went to DisneyLand and browsed through some of the stores on Main Street.

We walked right by the Tiki Birds and the next show was at 12:30 (only 10 minutes away) so we waited. While waiting we had a Dole Whip ($2.50) that we shared. The Tiki bird show was very cute. I never saw the original at Disney World - only the new one so it was nice to see this original one.

Then we waited 15 minutes for the Jungle Cruise.

We waited about 20 minutes for the Haunted Mansion. You seem much closer to the action here in DisneyLand than you do in DisneyWorld. This is one of my favorite attractions.

We wandered through the Disney Gallery.

Splash Mountain had a two hour wait so we were going to skip it but we saw they have a single rider line. We went that route and were on in about 15 minutes. It was really smart the way they did this. Since the logs hold 5 people and the majority of the parties I guess are either 2 or 4 - the last seat is always empty - so they fill it with a single rider. We were about two logs away from each other. Neither of us got very wet - just spritzed alittle.

We had lunch at the Del Taco place. I had the California Taco Plate with Chicken and Paul had the Burrito Plate with steak. We both had soda. The cost was about $22. This was definitely worth the money - each of us had a huge plate (real plate not paper) with our chosen entrée and chips, rice, etc.

Next we waited 30 minutes for Mr Toad's Wild Ride. Paul didn't want to wait but I talked him into it. It was not worth a 30 minute wait.

We walked back towards TomorrowLand because we passed this stand that makes pictures with the meaning of your name on it yesterday but their computer was down. The computer was back up today so we bought one with both our names on it and the DisneyLand castle in the background. Cost $28.

We went into Innoventions next. It's really interesting how they control the crowd going in - you have to wait and go on a moving platform that lets a group in at a time. Then you watch a demo of one of the things as a group (we saw the future kitchen/living room/robot dog). After seeing the demo together you are left to run around and do what you want. There is a decent amount of stuff in there and you can easily spend a while. There are no bathrooms in Innoventions which seems kind of silly but they warn you before going in.

We went into Honey I Shrunk the Audience next. This is the same as the one in Epcot

We exited DisneyLand and went into World of Disney to buy a few more things - we ended up spending another $150.

We left Disney around 6:45 and stopped at a mall for Paul to find another shirt/tie for Wheel of Fortune tomorrow.

We drove to Culver City next. We didn't have a local map but obtained directions from a lady in Rite Aid.

We checked in to the hotel - we're in room 1106. When we pulled up they asked if we needed assistance with our luggage which we did. We had about 8 bags by now.

The room is very nice. Of the 3 hotels we've stayed in this trip - I like the layout of this room the best. When you first walk in there is a bathroom on the left and a big closet on the right (with an iron and ironing board). When you walk further into the room there is a king size bed with two night tables. There is an entertainment center with a TV and a mini refrigerator as well as drawers. Further into the room is a desk, then a chair and ottoman and another little table.

We ordered room service for dinner. Paul had the chicken on focaccia. I had the grilled vegetables on focaccia. We shared an order of mozzarella sticks. We both had soda. Cost with tax and tip approx $35.

Paul ironed his suit and shirt.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

Thursday 8/22/02
Tentative Plan: Wheel of Fortune

I went down to the lobby and picked up a bagel with cream cheese, coffee, and some Krispy Crème's for Paul. He had to be down in the lobby by 8:20 to take the shuttle to Wheel of Fortune. Once he left - I chatted with one of the other spouses of the contestants for a few minutes. I called work from the lobby and chatted with them for a while then went back upstairs to get ready.

I couldn't go to the Sony Studio until 1pm. So I hung out and rearranged the suitcases again. Around 12 I went to the restaurant in the lobby for lunch. I had a personal pizza with mushrooms and soda - cost with tax and tip was $9.

Then I drove over to the studio - the directions were very good and I didn't get lost. I parked in the lot where I was supposed to then was given my wristband and sticker showing that I'm a contestant guest. There were lots of rules and regulations.

Around 1:45 they finally let us in - going through a metal detector and bag search first. We were told we cannot communicate or wave to our contestant at all or they could be disqualified. They taped 6 shows today. Paul was in the very last show. It was so nerve wracking. Paul solved the first 2 fast finger puzzles so started off the game already winning $3,000. He did good spinning the wheel and at one point landed on the mystery space and had a car in front of him. Unfortunately, he didn't end up solving that puzzle (he landed on lose a turn). One puzzle that he solved - they didn't give him because he pronounced the word wrong. It was Nobel Prize Winner and he said Noble (as in Barnes & Noble) instead of No Bell. I don't understand - to me it's the same thing. At the very last puzzle - he just solved it at the buzzer which made him the big winner of the day - at about $7,200. So I got to go down and was given instructions in case he solves the bonus puzzle what to do. Unfortunately, he didn't solve it. He even had to tape a little commercial segment that will be aired in NJ - saying watch me on channel 7 on Wheel of Fortune. His game is the only one we didn't get an air date for - it said TBA. So he has to call to find out. Paul was kind of upset that he didn't win more than that. I think it's pretty good - he won.

We were both exhausted after this long day and starving. We didn't get back to the hotel until 8:30. Paul told me they even put makeup on him.

We went down to the bar in the lobby and had chicken quesadilla's, chicken fingers, and a burger with soda. We didn't finish the food, but it was pretty good. Cost with tax and tip was approx $35.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

Friday 8/23/02
Tentative Plan: We didn't have any plans for today. We were hoping to meet up with Samantha (Paul went to grammar school with her) at some point.

We drove to Santa Monica and walked around the Pier and the Third Street Promenade.

We had lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express (Asian Chicken Salad for me; chicken with mashed potatoes for Paul). Cost $17.85. We sat outside eating.

We wandered around through a mall and all over. We watched some street performers.

We went back to the Radisson and did some organizing of the bags for our flight home tomorrow. We spoke with Peter & Phil to see how things are going with Kiki and the house.

We went to Samantha's house around 8pm. We hung out there for a while. Then we went out to dinner at this trendy place called Asia De Cuba. Turns out they have one in NY as well. We were seated at a nice outdoor table which is good since it was so crowded/noisy inside we wouldn't have been able to hear each other speak. Samantha had two Mojito's (drinks), I had soda, Paul had sparkling water. We started with the lobster dumpling and the crab cake appetizers. For entrees we shared the short ribs, chicken, and tuna. For dessert we had rice pudding and chocolate cake. The food was pretty good, but very overpriced. The bill was $271.25 with tax and tip for the 3 of us. That's 25% of what we spent for the whole vacation on food.

We had a great time hanging out with Samantha and she wanted to show us a real California type of place.

We dropped her back at her apartment and headed back to our hotel around 2am.

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

Saturday 8/24/02
Tentative Plan: Fly Home

We ordered room service for breakfast - French Toast for me and Eggs with bacon for Paul. Total with tax and tip was $39.70. It was good and was delivered quickly.

After eating we loaded up the car and headed out for our journey home. We returned the car to National with no problem, then took the shuttle bus to LAX.

When we arrived at LAX, the lines were ridiculous. They went all the way down the walkway to get to the curbside check in; then you first had to get on an even longer line to go through security. We finally get to the curbside check in area and are told - we need to go in for CTX screening. We were picked for the security check yet again. This ended up working out to our benefit. We went through the CTX thing (the bags get Xray'd), but we were able to bypass the whole security line and go right to the gate. Of course, we had to have our carryon's searched there too and take our shoes off. We were in luck and had the exit row for the flight home. The plane left about ½ hour late.

We stopped in Arizona, but the same plane would be taking off again and bringing us to Newark so we didn't have to worry about connections. We just spent a shorter time in Arizona than was originally scheduled. We got off the plane to stretch and bought a California Pizza Kitchen express pizza back on the plane to share.

We landed a little early - 10:30 pm. We retrieved our luggage with no problems, called Corporate Park, were picked up and brought to our car and were on our way home. There was tons of traffic on the NJ Turnpike for some reason so it took us a while. We didn't get home until almost 1am.

Kiki (the dog) was very happy to see us and she was happy and seemed well taken care of. We did some unpacking and going through the stack of mail. We still were on California time. I was really shocked when we walked in - our house was sparkling clean. Phil and Peter scrubbed from top to bottom - including steam cleaning the rugs, cleaning the windows, washing the linens, and cleaning the oven.

Did we meet the tentative plan? Yes

FINAL THOUGHTS
It was pretty amazing to go to both Disney World and Disney Land in one trip. We love Disney World and always go there. However, we were really surprised by how much we enjoyed Disney Land. We may go back to California quicker than I thought.

Until the next Disney trip…

Noreen Chin

Noreen.s.chin@citigroup.com


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