Victoria Hart -- April 2003 -- Walt Disney World (CR)
This is Victoria's second trip report for MousePlanet:
April 2002 - Disneyland
Las Vegas (NV) Harts:
Westfield (MA) Harts:
I am writing this as a combined pre-trip planning and actual trip report. It should be an interesting journey, at least for me. I will add to this section as things develop.
February 2002 Joe and I were discussing this year’s summer vacation. I suggested Walt Disney World (WDW). Our last trip was August 2000, so I’m ready for another trip. Joe reminded me about our last few trips to Disneyland (DL). I reminded him that WDW and DL are not the same. Joe vetoed Florida in the summer due to the humidity. What you need to understand, dear reader, is that we live in Las Vegas, where 110 degrees in August is the norm. To me, 90 degree weather, with humidity, is about the same…but, having been married for 15 years, I know what battles are worth fighting. Then, much to my surprise, he suggests Spring Break 2003. Did I hear correctly? Yes. And so, the Queen of Vacation Planning shifted into gear! The first thing I did was to call Shades of Green. Joe is a MSGT in the Air Force Reserves. Reservations to SOG are accepted 53 weeks in advance, so I made a note on my calendar for April 5th. Also, SOG is undergoing a very long renovation, so they will be operating (full-service) out of the Contemporary … North Garden Wing rooms at SOG prices … yippee! I will probably reserve 3 rooms (the max. allowed) and see if any family members want to join us (Joe is the oldest of 6). Reservations are easily canceled.
April 2002 Well, I missed my April 5th deadline because we were in DL! (http://www.mouseplanet.com/dtp/trip.rpt/report_files/dltrip.rpt/hart02ap.htm) And, we spent my deposit money, so I have to wait until April 12th (payday) to make the reservation. Started dropping hints with family members to see who’s interested in going with us. Reservations made for 3 rooms at the Contemporary (through Shades of Green) for 7 nights, April 12-19, 2003 (yes, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter) at $89 per night. And, it’s a surprise for my kids. At least, we’re going to try and keep it a secret as long as possible. However, with so many people involved, I may not be that lucky!
May 2002 There’s a great website called “PS* Planning Guide” (http://pscalculator.net) where you can enter your date and it will tell you the date(s) when you can make your priority seatings. Some of the PS’s I’m most interested in are Cinderella’s Royal Table (yeah right…I’ll have to start calling at 3:55 a.m. PST), Cirque de Soleil, assorted favorite restaurants (because of the time of year), golf tee times, Afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian (GF), the MK fireworks cruise, and maybe the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s.
June 2002 Well, so far no takers on a family reunion trip. But, it’s early still…
Right now, I am busy getting ready for our summer vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. While we’re there, I hope to check out the Disney Vacation Club resort (just curious). Also, I have started pricing rooms/packages for our October trip to DL. October 31st, while Hallowe’en for the rest of the U.S., is “Nevada Day” for us (the anniversary of the day Nevada became a state). The official state holiday is the Friday before the 31st, creating a 3-day weekend which is not a 3-day weekend in California. Bottom line: no crowds = no lines. Last year, Ben and I walked onto Space Mountain 3 times in a row!! And even Indiana Jones’ wait was under 30 minutes.
October 2002 Well, three months have passed since my last entry and have things changed! Don’t they always?! A quick update: Hilton Head Island, SC, was fantastic! We cannot wait to go again. However, we were not near Disney’s resort, so I didn’t get a chance to check it out. Our October trip to DL has been cancelled because I had to have an emergency root canal & permanent crown, which ate up all my vacation money! Also, now that it’s six months out, I really need to start paying attention to my PS planning report, although as I review my choices, I will probably re-do it before the end of this month since there’s a new princess breakfast in the World Showcase.
December 2002 Okay, here’s the latest update…Joe’s dad, Papa, and his wife, Grandma Phyllis, want to join us (especially Grandma). It could be a lot of fun with three generations. Joe and I have vacationed with Papa, and the kids have vacationed with their grandparents, so it won’t be a total unknown. Looks like I will probably cancel the third room, and just make sure we have adjacent rooms (if not connecting). I hadn’t planned on renting a car, but Joe and Papa want to split the cost of a minivan, so I’ll have to do some shopping around. My 120-day window opens this month, so I will be making some PS reservations. It’s still too early for airfare specials. I’ll probably book in early 2003.
I have decided to give the trip to the children for Christmas (mostly because I really want to talk about this trip!) I am preparing a big box filled with assorted Disney things: Disney vacation video, Disney dollars, “Lilo and Stitch” video, coin holders for pressed pennies, and disposable cameras.
January 2003 Time for another update! The Christmas box was a huge success…especially the $50 (each) in Disney dollars for souvenirs. Both kids are now religiously putting their spare change in the change jar!
Flying at Easter time is expensive! And, the 12th is a blackout date…but, I found reasonable airfare on Southwest ($248.50 per person, roundtrip) for the kids and myself. Joe’s airfare is another story. [Deep sigh!] He will be flying to Boston, Massachusetts early to see his mom, then joining us in Orlando on the 12th. He will then go back to Boston on the 19th (his 44th birthday) to run in the Boston Marathon on the 21st, returning to Vegas on the 22nd. The kids and I will go to my mom’s in Oviedo, Florida on the 19th to spend Easter with her, until the 22nd. Our week has turned into an 11-day vacation…whew! Total airfare, for 5 roundtrips = $1,253…ouch! One less thing to worry about.
Papa & Grandma have decided to spend two weeks in Florida. Grandma got an excellent deal on Delta. They will rent a car and go visit friends for a few days, then return the car to the airport, meet Joe at Northwest, then meet us at Southwest (we arrive last at 4 p.m.). We have decided that we don’t need a car on-site and plan to use Disney transportation during our week together. Tiffany Towncar will pick-up the six of us at Southwest baggage claim on the 12th. Joe, Papa, and Grandma will return to the airport on the 19th, and they will rent a car for the remainder of their stay. A separate town car will take me and the kids to my mom’s. Complicated enough for you? Imagine living it!
I have decided on our tentative schedule in order to make PS. I have included a grocery stop on Saturday to get breakfast and snack food. I also plan to buy the refillable mugs for coffee and soda. Saturday, dinner at the California Grill. Sunday, breakfast at the Crystal Palace, dinner at Le Cellier. Monday, dinner at Boma. Tuesday, dinner at 1900 Park Faire (Cinderella’s Gala Feast). Wednesday, breakfast at Norway (Princess Storybook) and dinner at ‘Ohana. Thursday, Cirque du Soleil at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at Fulton’s Crab House. Friday, lunch at Biergarten. Saturday, breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. Possible/probable changes will be Le Cellier and Biergarten. Will play the rest of our eating by ear. Hope to see Fantasmic! this trip, and one E-ticket night if offered. Also plan to take advantage of Early Entry when possible. We’d like to try DisneyQuest, one of the water parks, and enjoy our resort too. Joe thinks we should rent a little car for one day and take my mom out for dinner.
February 2003 Well, we’re past the 60 day point…and of course, more developments! Papa broke his leg, right above the ankle. He should have his cast off right before they leave for Florida, as long as he heals properly (he’s diabetic). I’m going to encourage them to rent an ECV for the week, because I’m sure he won’t be up for all the walking!! They’ll be here in Vegas at the end of this month, so we’ll have a “Florida Planning Meeting” to discuss what his needs might be. Boy, if it’s not one thing, it’s another! Joe is planning to do some golfing, and will try and use the “last minute” military rate through Shades of Green. Hope it works, considering the time of year. I wouldn’t be so worried, except his friend is driving for two hours to meet him at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Disney published park hours for April, so now I can really plan. One advantage to going around a holiday is the extended park hours and added entertainment (2 showings of Fantasmic every night we’re there, for example). There are no E-ride nights scheduled, but we won’t miss them. All of my PS have been scheduled except Fulton’s. Our Cirque tickets arrived ;-) I’ve read about the new Spirit of Aloha show at the Polynesian, so of course I’m now considering that!
I have made reservations for the dogs at the kennel (Brownie, our chocolate lab, and Stella, our black lab-collie mix). Made a note to hold the mail and the newspaper the week of April 7th. What am I forgetting? Oh…how are the kids and I getting to the airport on the 12th? No clue…
March 2003 Joe is on the “list” to be activated. We had a bit of a scare that he’d be in Qatar instead of Florida, but we found out this past weekend that he will not go “at this time”. Whew!
Grandma agrees that they should rent a scooter for Papa for their time at WDW. She called one of the local rental companies there, and they will deliver it right to the Contemporary on the 12th. I called SOG and had them amend the reservation to include the need for one handicap-accessible room, with refrigerator. I still plan to fax the room controller at the Contemporary about 4-5 days before we leave to make that special request too.
I faithfully call once a week to try and rearrange a couple of my PS times. Because of the time of year, it’s difficult, but there may be cancellations. Made dinner reservations at Fulton’s Crab House for 8:30 p.m., after “La Nouba”. Only one month to go!
The war started today, Wednesday, March 19, 2003.
April 2003: Last minute changes! Or, should I say that I changed my mind…again. Using discount codes from Mousesavers: http://www.mousesavers.com, we’ll have a rental car for $293.08 for the full 10 days from Dollar. Papa and Grandma will rent a full-size car for their 2 weeks (at my suggestion, also using discount codes), saving them about $150. Transportation just got less complicated, with some added convenience.
It’s countdown time…I cannot believe it’s almost time! Only Grandma is as excited as I am. I feel almost too ready…what am I forgetting?!
Papa & Grandma leave for Florida today, 4/8. I faxed my room preferences to the Contemporary today. Have no view preference really, just a non-smoking, handicap-accessible connecting to a non-smoking 2-queen standard. Hopefully that won’t be a problem. Looked at the extended forecast today. The warmest and sunniest days are at the beginning of our stay, so we may change our water park day to Monday.
Papa & Grandma arrived safely but had an hour wait at the Alamo rental counter. They’re at the ocean for the week…will meet us at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the hotel. Joe leaves tonight for Boston. I cancelled the newspaper and put a “hold mail” request via the USPS’s website. Confirmed the kennel. I think we’re ready!!
Friday, April 11:
Planned: Drop dogs at the kennel at 8 a.m. Work until 1:30 p.m. Pick Elizabeth up at school at 2:15 p.m. Manicure and pedicure at 3 p.m. Fast food for dinner. Finish packing and early to bed.
Actual: I decided not to work today…too stressed and too excited. Dropped the dogs at the kennel as planned. Spent the morning cleaning the house, finishing the laundry, and starting the packing. Picked Elizabeth up as planned. We splurged on our nails, complete with Minnie and Mickey decals on our big toes! Sparkles look like pixie dust…we are in the spirit! KFC for dinner. Finished packing and got to bed about an hour later than planned, 10:30 p.m. And of course, I couldn’t sleep! I kept checking the clock to make sure I didn’t miss the alarm.
Saturday, April 12:
Planned: Get up early and leave for airport around 5:15 a.m. Jan, our neighbor, is more than happy to get up and drive us! What a good friend. Flight leaves at 7:40 a.m. Arrive in Orlando at 4 p.m. Meet Joe (who arrives at 2:30 p.m.) at baggage claim. Collect rental car from Dollar. Stop for a few groceries on the way to Disney property. Meet Papa and Grandma at around 6 p.m. and check-in. Buy Stars-and-Stripes length of stay passes from Shades of Green travel office (6-day). Dinner PS at California Grill at 7:45 p.m. MK fireworks scheduled for 9 p.m.
Actual: I got up around 3:30 a.m., and got the kids up around 4:15 a.m. We were ready to go when Jan arrived at 5:15 a.m. - - right on schedule! Check-in was a breeze…no line at all. We enjoyed Cinnabons, coffee, and juice while watching the news. Cattle call on Southwest (group A) at 7:15 a.m. Plane left on time; we had a stop in Oklahoma City to pick-up…and the plane was full! The worst part of the flight was this family of 7 who looked like they had literally rolled out of bed and the girls in front of us smelled…bad. It was very unpleasant. Arrived in Orlando on time at 4:00 p.m. and met Joe at Southwest baggage claim. Dollar’s line to pick up the car was terrible, and there was only ONE agent! The car was in my name, so Joe couldn’t pick it up without me. Hidden fees…$50 for the second driver. I don’t think I would rent with them again. The car was so small, we could barely fit Joe’s golf clubs in…but we got all the bags in (and had room for the kids too) and headed out, only about 30 minutes behind schedule. Decided to skip the grocery store until later (there was literally no room in the car!) Arrived at the Contemporary at about 6:30’ish… “Welcome home!” Papa and Grandma were in the lobby, and Papa was experimenting with his scooter…watch out! No line at check-in and we got what I requested. I have read other reports where people think the Contemporary doesn’t have enough theming. Well, I think it’s the most “Disney” of all…the monorail runs right through it! Too cool!
Our rooms were on the first floor of the North Garden Wing, #7185 and 7186. Unpacked and got settled. Went up to rm. 7346 which is the Shades of Green temporary office. Purchased our discounted Stars & Stripes passes (4 6-day for $1080). Grandma bought the tickets they needed and a souvenir (already) and we were on our way! Stopped at the Food & Fun Court (F&FC) for 4 refillable mugs ($44)…this would prove to be an excellent investment! Time for dinner at the California Grill. Papa almost ran into a pregnant woman (this lack of skill when steering would become a recurring theme). Checked in for our 7:45 PS; 20 minute wait, so we had a cocktail and waited in the little lounge area. We were seated and greeted by our waiter David. Can I say that this restaurant did not disappoint?! We enjoyed crab California rolls, pork flatbread, mushroom flatbread, filet mignon, mixed seafood, roast chicken, sirloin, and tilefish. Grand total $257 for 6…our treat. The best part, however, were the MK fireworks…music piped in, lights dimmed…wow! What a great way to start our vacation. After dinner, the boys hit the arcade for a couple of games of pool. Elizabeth and I went to explore the resort and saw the Electric Water Pageant float right by the dock. Smiling, we headed back to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for tomorrow.
Sunday, April 13:
Planned: Forecast: “Plenty of sunshine, high 81° F.” MK early entry. Breakfast PS at Crystal Palace at 8:15 a.m. (which we might skip if still full from Saturday night’s dinner). Joe will golf with his friend Gene, while we tour MK. Lunch/snack unplanned. Afternoon nap or swim. Early dinner with my mom in Oviedo. DD in the evening.
Actual: I didn’t sleep well (flying always does that to me), so was up early. While the others got ready, I went to the F&FC to grab us some breakfast (too full for big breakfast, so cancelled Crystal Palace). Refilled the mugs, bought muffins and bananas ($12) and we ate in our room. Walked over to MK with Papa and Grandma, breezed through security, and then split up. We headed to Space Mountain. The phone rang and Joe’s friend, Gene, had already arrived. Joe left to meet him for 18 holes at Osprey Ridge on the military rate ($45 per person). Just then, the line started moving and we were on SM in 5 minutes! Fun, but I like Disneyland’s better. Next did the TTA, and returned for a 10 minute wait for a second ride on SM. 15 minutes at the Indy speedway. Got FP’s for Buzz. Ice cream and french fries as a mid-morning snack. Time for Buzz…my score was terrible! Ben did better, Beth had fun. Did you hear the rumor that Buzz is coming to Disneyland? Moving on…5 minute line for Aladdin’s Magic Carpet (Ben went for Big Thunder FP’s while Beth and I rode it). Next rode Pirates of the Caribbean (again, I like Disneyland’s better). Stopped at the little cart which sells crystal. I collect spoons and I bought a cute crystal Sorcerer’s Apprentice spoon ($12). Used our BTh FP’s. Splash Mountain’s line was too long (65 mins.) and FP return was after 3:30, so we decided to skip it today. My leg was really hurting, so we jumped on the train back to the front of the park. Rode the monorail back to the hotel and were in the room by 12:45! We ate a bacon cheeseburger and chicken fingers at the F&FC for lunch (refilled our mugs). Spent about 2 hours at the pool. Both kids complained about it being too shallow. Neither tried the water slide today because the line was too long. Called my mom, who was not feeling well so we postponed dinner with her until tomorrow. Cleaned up for dinner and checked with Papa and Grandma about their dinner plans. We decided to go off site, since we had cars. Papa chose Bennigans. We ate onion rings, BBQ ribs, filet mignon, salmon, seafood alfredo, seafood platter, ribeye & fried shrimp. $132 (their treat tonight). After dinner we made a grocery run to the Publix next door for breakfast stuff, bottled water, fruit and wine.
Returned to the room. I decided to pick-up, etc., put ice on my leg (I pulled something), and make some trip report notes. Joe and the kids returned to MK for the evening. I watched the fireworks from our patio. My family closed the park…came back happy and tired. Elizabeth did not get a single character signature today, even though she carried her book with her all morning…I think she might be out-growing the whole character picture/signature thing.
Monday, April 14:
Planned: Forecast: “Mostly sunny, high 81° F.” Breakfast in the room. Water park or AK early entry, buying “Meal plus certificates” if still offered. Afternoon nap or swim. Dinner PS at Boma at 5 p.m. Theme park or DD after dinner.
Actual: Joe got up early to run (remember, he’s running a marathon in one week). I enjoyed my breakfast on the patio and did the crossword puzzle. My leg feels better this morning. Let the kids sleep in. Since today is supposed to be the best weather this week, we decided to try Typhoon Lagoon. Wished Papa and Grandma a good day. Made plans with my mom for dinner, cancelled our dinner PS, and then headed out. Got to the water park around 10:30, walked towards the wave pool (to the right) and “set up camp” in a nice shady spot…wasn’t too crowded yet. Rode the lazy river (3 times), played in the wave pool, and took the family raft ride. The boys did one or two other fast rides too. We split a chicken wrap, chicken fingers and fries for lunch…tasty. Stupid me…forgot my prescription sunglasses, so decided to wear my contacts with my everyday sunglasses…lost a lens. Blind in one eye all afternoon. (I had an extra one in the room.)
Rested, showered, and then headed to Oviedo to have dinner with my mom. Took her to the Outback Steakhouse. Always a good meal…”blooming onion” and filet mignon. $114 for the 5 of us. Back to WDW by 10 p.m. Quick hello to Papa and Grandma, then over to the MK for a couple of hours. Rode the train right after the fireworks. We rode Big Thunder Mountain and Splash back-to-back. Then, we split up…boys rode Buzz, girls rode Pooh and Small World. MK closed at midnight. We rode in the front of the monorail back to the hotel…what a view at night! (Since Sept. 11th, you can’t ride up front at DL anymore.) It was another magical day!
Tuesday, April 15:
Planned: Forecast: “Sun and some clouds, high 75° F.” Breakfast in the room. Water park day if weather allows, or MGM early entry. Lunch/snack unplanned. Afternoon nap or swim. Dinner PS at 1900 Park Faire at 5 p.m. E-ride night at MK (if offered).
Actual: We discussed early entry days and decided it was smarter to avoid early entry parks, so we made today our Animal Kingdom day. Papa and Grandma had other plans, so we agreed to meet later for dinner. After breakfast in the room, we caught a bus to AK and arrived about 9:30 a.m. First stop was to pick-up fast passes at Kilimanjaro Safaris. We did the Pangani Forest Trail next; the gorillas were pretty lazy, but visible. I always take more pictures of the wildlife than I need. FP time for our safari. Lots of animals were out, including the male lion. We saved Little Red (again…) and agreed that we still love this ride! Next, FP for Kali River Rapids, followed by the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The tigers (one of Beth’s favorites) were out in force! Once again, too many pictures. Our rapids ride proved eventful…Ben and I got SOAKED…not damp…SOAKED! Beth found a Mickey pin on the ground after the rapids, so she added it to her growing collection. I decided that I was too wet to stand in line for characters, so Joe took Beth. She saw Tigger, Mickey, Donald, Pluto, Piglet, Eeyore, and Pooh…wow! Ben and I went for FP to Primeval Whirl, then took care of lunch. We decided on Flametree BBQ, where I purchased the “Meal plus” certificates (2 adult). We found an empty table for four next to the pond in the garden. Ben went to tell Joe and Beth where we were. The four of us shared the two entrees (there was plenty), relaxed, and dried off. Feeling better, we walked around a little bit until our FP time opened. Primeval Whirl was great! It’s a faster, larger, twirling version of Mulholland Madness (at DCA) and much better IMHO. We watched some street performers while sharing our ice cream treats, then decided it was time to call it a day. We caught a bus back to the hotel (about a 10 minute wait) and took a nap. We cleaned up and got ready for dinner; 5 p.m. PS at 1900 Park Faire in the Grand Floridian…Cinderella’s Royal Feast. Papa and Grandma were ready, so we took the monorail. Disney transportation is top notch for people using ECVs and wheelchairs. Papa never had any problem all week when riding the buses or the monorail. We arrived early and spent some time wandering around the 1st and 2nd floors of the Grand Floridian. Grandma hit the gift shop (see a trend here?) Papa and Grandma loved the buffet, we thought it was okay (we live in the land of buffets, so we have more to compare it to). Pretty standard fare: prime rib, turkey, sausage & peppers, salads, casserole offerings, desserts, etc. Make your own strawberry shortcake…yum. What makes this meal fantastic is the character interaction! Beth was in heaven…Cinderella is her favorite princess. She chatted with her twice. We also saw Prince Charming, Suzy, Perla, and the Fairy Godmother. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Even Ben stood up for a picture with Cinderella! My only comment/flame: parents – please keep your children at your table…the characters get to everyone -- thank you. After dinner, we decided to split up again. Papa and Grandma were tired, so they headed back. It was on to Disney Quest for us. We took the car, to avoid waiting later. We had never been here before, so we tried almost everything. My favorite was the Pirates of the Caribbean. We kicked butt! Other favorites were Cyberspace Mountain and Magic Mirror. Bummer…I lost another contact lens! Same eye, so now I have to wear my glasses! Beth and I rode the Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters. We had fun but scored a big zero! What troubled me was this guy yelling at his son (about 6 or 7 years old) about how to do it, blah, blah, blah…man, it’s just a game. Quick I need some pixie dust, and it arrived as a piece of cheesecake and a cup of coffee from the Wonderland Cafe. What a great way to end the day. Wow, day 5 is over already!
Wednesday, April 16:
Planned: Forecast: “Times of clouds and sun, high 76° F.” EPCOT early entry. Breakfast PS at Norway Princess Breakfast at 8:50 a.m. Lunch/snack unplanned. Afternoon nap or swim. Dinner PS at ‘Ohana at 6 p.m. Theme park or DD after dinner.
Actual: Today is one of our few sit-down breakfasts. We took the monorail to EPCOT, and because it was early entry day, there was a small line to get in. We had plenty of time, so got FP for Test Track along the way, and arrived at the Norway Princess Breakfast on time. Fruit and pastries were at the table. Our server brought coffee and juice, but was slow with the creamer and refills. The food was hot and plentiful: sausage, scrambled eggs, cheesy potatoes (yum), and waffles. ($135 for 6…all you could eat.) Ben wasn’t feeling very well, and ate hardly anything…I was concerned because this kid has a hollow leg and eats non-stop all day. Again, the best part is the character interaction! Pictures and autographs from Belle, Jasmine, Mary Poppins (my favorite, because I, too, am practically perfect in every way ;-}), Snow White, and Princess Aurora. Time for our Test Track ride, so we said good-bye to Papa and Grandma. Honestly, I don’t know what is so great about TT, but the boys really like it. Next, Body Wars and a little souvenir shopping in the Wonders of Life gift shop. Universe of Energy, another favorite, was next. Nice to see Ellen win Jeopardy again. Decided to walk around the World Showcase next. After riding Maelstrom, Ben asked if we could go back to the hotel. Joe and Beth weren’t ready to go, so we split up. Ben and I rode Spaceship Earth on our way out (only because there was no line). Have I mentioned that lines were totally manageable all week, utilizing FP as often as possible and avoiding the early entry park. I thought the crowds would be unbearable since it was the week before Easter, but they weren’t…go figure. We headed back and rested. Joe and Beth arrived about an hour later. We spent some time visiting with Papa and Phyllis. They decided not to join us at ‘Ohana, so we took the monorail over for our 6 p.m. PS. Ben was feeling better and we were all hungry, having eaten nothing since breakfast, except a couple of snacks in the room! Ben was too “cool” and Beth was too shy to participate in the games, but we laughed and enjoyed the atmosphere. Veggies, chicken wings, shrimp wontons with peanut dipping sauce, salad, skewers of turkey, pork, beef and shrimp. Fresh pineapple with caramel sauce for dessert. Roll me out the door! ($117 included a couple of drinks with umbrellas, tax & tip.) We really enjoyed this meal and know we’ll be back. Since we were energized and feeling good, it was off to MGM for the evening. No FP available for the biggies, so we waited standby. 45 minutes for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster…Beth’s first time. Okay, it was the best (as always), but what made it even better was the photo. Joe, Ben, and I were ready for the takeoff, having ridden it many times in the past. Beth wasn’t ready…talk about “deer in the headlights”. Well, I had to buy the picture and it sits in my office where I can look at it and smile. Her face was undoubtedly the best moment of the day…even she thinks it’s hysterically funny! I was not up for Tower of Terror, so we split up, agreeing to meet for the 10 p.m. Fantasmic show. Beth and I took a break, and when it got to be about 9:50 (and still no sign of the boys) we headed into Fantasmic. Front row seats! Is it really a holiday week? Although DL’s show is superb, I don’t like the disorganized (or lack) of crowd control. WDW wins (is it a competition?) because I had a seat! The boys saw us and we met up after the show, which was, excellent! ToT had broken down, so their 45 minute wait turned into a 60+ minute wait. We did a little souvenir shopping on the way out to let the crowds thin…waited about 15 minutes for a bus. Another great day!
Thursday, April 17:
Planned: Forecast: “Some sun, high 77° F.” Breakfast in the room. MK early entry. Joe will golf. Lunch/snack unplanned. Afternoon nap or swim. Leave for DD early and explore until 5:15 Showtime for 6 p.m. “La Nouba”. Dinner reservation at Fulton’s Crab House at 8:30 p.m. DD for awhile?
Actual: My running man was up early again and had a nice workout before we all had breakfast in the room. We decided to return to the Magic Kingdom again this morning. Joe was the only one who wanted to ride Alien Encounter, so he did. Beth was able to see Ariel, Chip, Dale, and Minnie Mouse today. We repeated a few rides from earlier in the week, then returned to the hotel food court for a quick lunch of burgers and macaroni & cheese. Refilled those mugs again! (We drink a lot of soda…) Tonight is our big night out, so Grandma, Beth and I headed to Downtown Disney at about 2 p.m. to do some shopping before “La Nouba”. Ben went to DisneyQuest for some time at the video games. To this day, I have no idea what Joe and Papa did…The girls had a grand time shopping in the World of Disney. I am really going to miss the Disney Club discount! We met up at 5:15 in front of the Cirque theater. With Papa in his ECV, we were brought up via the elevator. Our seats were stage left, with a clear view. Well, the four adults just loved this show. This, for me personally, was the highlight of my vacation. The kids were okay with it, but I doubt I’ll be able to get them to go again. Dinner followed at Fulton’s Crab House. Appetizers included crab cakes and shrimp cocktail; wine with dinner; entrees were crab cakes, halibut, calamari, filet mignon, Alaskan king crab legs, and Maine lobsters. You don’t want to know how much it cost!
When we exited the restaurant, it was pouring! Of course, my 99¢ rain ponchos were in the room…We made a dash for the parking lot, dodging the raindrops. Finished the evening with a couple of games of billiards and some video games at the hotel. What a great day!
Friday, April 18:
Planned: Forecast: “Mostly cloudy, high 80° F.” Breakfast in room. Today is pretty open, except for Lunch PS at Biergarten at 1 p.m. Would like to hit any attractions which we’ve missed, or which we just want to do again. Maybe the other water park?
Actual: Our last full day at WDW. Made it a lazy morning. Cancelled today’s lunch PS and tomorrow’s breakfast PS, finished up the breakfast food and headed out for MGM. We arrived at about 10:30. Beth went with her grandparents. They saw Mike & Sully from Monsters, Inc. and took the backlot tour. We stood in line for one hour to ride the Tower of Terror (my first and last time). We also did the backlot tour, then met up with the others. Papa and Grandma were worn out…it’s been a very busy week for them. They went back to the hotel. We rode Rock ‘N Rollercoaster…again…and Beth’s expression WAS THE SAME! Priceless. We shared Chinese chicken salads and tuna croissants at the Backlot Express. Very good, and reasonably priced. Sounds Dangerous was just okay. And, one of my favorites…Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Only one round (it’s not my family’s favorite) and I was in the top ten at the end.
We spent the afternoon in the pool. It started to rain, which cleared the place out. But, since there was no lightening, we decided to stay. (People who live in the desert don’t mind a little rain, now and then.) The shower passed in about 20 minutes, then Joe and the kids had the pool slide practically to themselves. Up, down, up, down…you get the idea.
To celebrate Joe’s birthday, I had him pick where he’d like to eat. He chose Citricos in the Grand Floridian. I called and easily got a PS for dinner. We rode the monorail over, and relaxed in their little lounge with cocktails while we waited for our table. Dinner was delicious! The menu included lobster bisque, crab cakes, roast duckling, swordfish, filet mignon and 2 glasses of house chardonnay. ($180 includes liquor, tax & tip). Joe was very happy and declared his duckling was the best meal he’d had all week.
We ended our week watching the MK fireworks from the 4th floor observation deck of the Contemporary. Then, a final peek at the Electric Water Pageant, and our week is over. Wow!
Saturday, April 19:
Planned: Forecast: “Rather cloudy and steamy, high 82° F.” Breakfast PS at Chef Mickey’s at 7:30 a.m. (will show up at 7 in hopes of earlier sitting). I will drive Joe to the airport at 8:30 a.m. for his 10:30 a.m. flight to Boston. I will ask for late check-out so we can have a little more pool time, etc. Leave for Oviedo around 1 p.m.
Actual: Called for late check-out and they gave me until noon. Drove Joe to the airport and wished him luck for the race on Monday. Returned to the hotel and packed up all our stuff and bid goodbye to Papa and Phyllis. We were out by 11 a.m. But what to do? It was too early to leave WDW!! So, the three of us headed to Downtown Disney. We enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Rainforest Café (a Disney trip tradition), complete with NO line! I have never been to any RC when there wasn’t a line. Shrimp platter, turkey wrap, macaroni & cheese, and banana crepes…$69 later, we headed out. Did more shopping in the World of Disney, the pin store, and the Christmas shop. On the way to Oviedo, we stopped at the “Florida Mall” for a GameBoy game for Ben (Golden Sun II) and a Build-a-Bear for Beth. Arrived in Oviedo in the late afternoon, and took my mom for dinner at the Olive Garden.
Sunday, April 20 & Monday, April 21:
Planned: Forecast: “4/20 = Times of clouds and sun, high 83° F; 4/21 = Sunshine and some clouds, high 83° F.” Enjoy seeing my mom for a couple of days. Easter dinner at my brother’s home.
Actual: These two days went according to plan. Had Easter dinner with my brother and his family. Short and sweet. Did some shopping with mom on Monday and took the kids to see the movie “Holes”. They both agreed that the book was better.
Tuesday, April 22:
Planned: Forecast: “Mostly sunny, high 76° F.” Take Mom out for lunch. Leave for airport at 1:30 p.m., to return rental car by 2 p.m. Flight leaves at 4:30 p.m., arriving in Vegas at 8:00 p.m. Joe arrives from Boston at 10:15 p.m.
Actual: Relaxed at mother’s until it was time to leave for the airport, 12:30 p.m. Gassed up the rental car, missed the turn to return it and had to do a U-turn (much to my son’s dismay). The lines were easy & short…similar to LAS. Had MacDonald’s at the airport before leaving at 4:30 p.m. Changed planes in Albuquerque and arrived in Las Vegas at 8 p.m. Joe’s plane was a little late, but he was home by 11 p.m.
When to plan the next trip? As soon as they announce the dates of the 2005 WDW marathon, I’ll be off and running…
Did I just say that?
“Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees