Sharon Lozano -- June 2003 -- Walt Disney World (ASMoR)
Sharon has previously submitted trip reports under the name Sharon Burcie. Congratulations to her on her marriage since.
Of Princes and Fairytales
Cast of Characters
- Sharon (late 30's – to give you any more information than that, would mean I would have to swear each of you to secrecy). I consider myself somewhat of a WDW veteran as I have four previous trips under my belt (1 as a child and obviously 3 as an adult), but spend countless hours on Magictrips.com for my Disney fix.
- Jerry (early 40's). Complete and total WDW rookie – this is his first ever trip to The World.
A Bit of History:
My boyfriend, Jerry, had a mandatory week of vacation during the month of June.
We initially toyed with the idea of a quick trip to WDW, then thought better to go to Vegas (more bang for the buck) and the last idea was to go fishing at the coast. We had even thought of doing absolutely nothing, and putting the money towards the cost of our impending wedding. But two weeks prior to his vacation, Jerry surprised me by asking me to get a quote on a quick trip to WDW – with only one park day (the Magic Kingdom). We woke up one Saturday morning and booked everything – 3 nights at All Star Movies, airfare on Southwest Airlines and one PS for Cinderella's Royal Table for dinner. I dug up some old park hopper passes that had one Plus option remaining so we could go to one of the water parks and we were set.
Unlike my previous trips, where I spent months and months planning, jockeying for coveted Priority Seatings and scrounging for the lowest room rates possible, I had all of two weeks to wait before we departed. And those two weeks seemed to take FOREVER! lol. I couldn't even pack anything because I had a business trip to take the week before and planned to use the same suitcase. But as soon as I returned from that trip, I grabbed my list and started "the pile." For just a 4-day trip, "the pile" seemed to develop a life of its own.
The Saturday before we left, I took my time packing everything carefully into place. My goal was to not check my luggage and I'm happy to report that I succeeded. We were flying out of San Antonio Sunday and had a graduation party to attend in San Antonio Saturday, so it only made sense that we stay in town (at my parents' house) that night. Party done. Pleasantries exchanged. A quick late evening visit with long-time friends (who live down the street from my parents). And we called it a night. Or … at least we tried. You see … there wasn't an alarm in the room at my parents', my parents were out of town, and their alarm clock is somewhat possessed (going off at all hours of the night). So we asked Jerry's mom for a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call and my long-time friends for a back-up call at 7:00. It wasn't exactly Mickey, but it would have to do.
Day 1 – Sunday, June 8, 2003
Jerry's Introduction to The World
After a very restless night – both out of excitement and out of fear that Jerry's mom wouldn't make the 6:00 wake-up call, she in fact, did call – a little before 6:00 even. My first words for the day were "We're Going to Disney World" and with that, we were "up and at 'em" in no time. I actually qualified for a world record because I managed to be ready inside of 40 minutes. Hmm … I wonder why. The two of us together were ready within an hour. 30 minutes ahead of schedule and we headed out for breakfast. Somehow or another, we lost our 30 minutes and were now only 10 minutes ahead. Oh well. We had budgeted plenty of time. We arrived at Jerry's mom's house, where his sister was ready to take us to the airport. After visiting a bit, we took off for the airport and arrived at 9:00. After making our way through security (sans shoes, I might add), we waited. And we waited. And we waited.
The flight, which was completely booked, was uneventful. We even survived the cattle call that is SWA's boarding process. The most exciting aspect of the flight was actually seeing Epcot down below – this was the first time I had flown over a WDW park. However, we quickly learned this was probably not the path normally taken when flying into MCO as we had detoured to St. Petersburg in order to avoid some "weather" to the west of Orlando. We got our first view of the "weather" upon arrival at MCO – there was rain - and lots of it. No bother – we were 10 minutes early and we had ponchos! Our Tiffany Town Car driver, Arshad (aka Max) was waiting for us in baggage claim. A quick stop at Publix for water and adult beverages and we were on our way to ASMo. Woo hoo!
We arrived at ASMo, having left the "weather" in the vicinity of MCO. We quickly deduce that we will be in line for quite some time. Oh boy. This is the longest line I've experienced when checking into this resort (I've stayed here on two different trips). We entertain ourselves with the trivia they have posted in the queue – I actually knew all the answers except for one (How many Dalmations are located in the Dalmations section of ASMo? Keep reading to find out the answer.) After a 30+ minute wait, we arrange for our one-day park tickets, credit card charges, and receive our room assignment. Alas, two of our 3 requests have been met – a king sized bed (we feared a double would've been a bit "too" cozy) and a non-smoking room. We had requested a room facing Andy's Room (the Toy Story courtyard), but instead had a view of the Duck Pond (Mighty Ducks buildings). Oh well.
We found our room and it was spacious enough. We had a refrigerator free of charge; I had heard all king-sized rooms had refrigerators because they were also the handicap rooms (complete with handicap showers – more on this later). Got unpacked and requested an iron and ironing board from mousekeeping. And we left to explore Downtown Disney. We walked out to the bus stop and a DtD bus immediately pulled up. Woo hoo! Our first order of business was to find some grub. After all, we had not had a sufficient meal since breakfast (unless you consider beer and peanuts on the plane a sufficient meal). We contemplated Rainforest Café or Cap'n Jacks and after looking at both menus, decided on Rainforest Café. Dinner began with two lemonades, an appetizer of quesadillas, soup for Jerry and salad for me. We split an order of the mogambo shrimp for dinner and had our eyes on the Bananas Foster for dessert. However, we were so full (we certainly could've done without the soup and salad), we bypassed dessert.
We explored Days of Christmas and the Memories store (the store that claims to be a scrapbook store) where we made our first purchase for our wedding. For the past two weeks, I had been telling Jerry I did not see the need for one of those big frilly, feather-laden pens to sit by the guest book. He spotted the Minnie bride pen and suggested this would be perfect for the guest book. Sold! We spent a good deal of time exploring Once Upon a Toy (which was new since my last visit in 2001). I loved the Mr. Potato Head with all of the Disney accessories and am still kicking myself (yes, it really can be done!) for not picking one up. We wandered through Team Mickey (?? The store with all of the sporting wear) where we looked over the golf wear – we are contemplating taking that up together since Jerry has been forced to retire from softball following a recent injury (forced by whom, we won't say, but I personally think I'm already shaping up to be a good wife! lol.)
With much forewarning, we enter World of Disney and begin a shopping frenzy that has other shoppers running for the exits as we enter each room. I think it is the frothing at the mouth that has them worried. We managed to purchase almost all souvenirs in one fell-swoop (what exactly is a "fell-swoop" anyway?) and are done within the 5-hour time limit. I came away with a new key ring, some antenna toppers, a cap and a Mickey charm for my charm bracelet. Jerry picked up some t-shirts and bracelets for his girls.
We stop at McDonald's for a drink – shopping really dehydrates one, doesn't it? Or perhaps it was the amount of running we did through the store. And we were off to the Westside to poke around there. We walked through the Planet Hollywood store, Magnetron (I was personally disappointed – that place is too small to have that many people inside – where was the fire marshall when you need them?) and the Candy Cauldron where caramel apples lured us inside for a treat. We sat, we rested and we were off again to the Marketplace. We stopped into Basin, where they had some lovely and not-so-lovely-smelling bathroom items.
We didn't wait long for our bus to ASMo. Made a stop in the resort gift shop (this is a tradition with me – my son and I, on previous trips, usually made the gift shop our last stop each evening). Jerry stopped for some pizza and we used our refillable mugs. The iron and ironing board had been delivered, but the iron didn't work. So we had to wait up for mousekeeping to bring another. I ironed clothes while we watched the resort channel. Lights were out by 12:30.
By the way, there are 101 Dalmations on the Dalmations buildings at ASMo.
Day 2 – Monday, June 9, 2003
Someday My Prince Will Come … and Today is That Day
I requested a 6:58 a.m. wake up call (remembering to ask for a time other than on the hour or half-past the hour – to increase the chance of having Mickey wake us.) I also recently read that the phones in the resorts have speakers, so everyone in the room could hear the call. When Mickey called, I hit the speaker button so Jerry could hear him too. We both loved hearing Mickey – reminding us of "big doins'" and urging us to get "up and at 'em".
I was first up to shower, while Jerry ran to get coffee and hot chocolate. The flood which encompassed the handicap bathroom was nothing short of the swells we would see the next day at Typhoon Lagoon. The engineer-minded Jerry determined there was a serious flaw with the design of the floor, based on the drainage issues. We were ready and off to the food court shortly, where I had oatmeal and sausage and Jerry had the breakfast platter. Mine could've been better and Jerry's was just okay – the saving grace of the whole meal was the breakfast potatoes. In the words of Paula Abdul (of American Idol fame), "I'll give them two words: Yum-my!"
We left for the MK at approximately 9:30. We stopped for pictures on Main Street (of course!). Then it was off to Adventureland where we obtained Fast Passes for Jungle Cruise and made our way to Pirates of the Caribbean, Jerry's first Disney ride. He really liked this one and was surprised at the detail. Oh – and the wait was very short. Next up was the Tikki Room – Under New Management. I had only seen this once before with the old management in place – back in 1978. So I guess you could say I really had not seen this at all. I wouldn't say we were overly excited about this attraction, but both agree Jerry's daughters would enjoy it. Upon exiting, we see it is pouring rain. Not to worry, as I whip out the ponchos in a flash and we make our way towards Liberty Square – however even this is a bit much for ponchos, so we seek refuge (along with about a gazillion other people) in one of the breezeways between Adventureland and Frontierland. As the rain lightens up, we make a dash for the Haunted Mansion. I love this ride and I think Jerry likes it too. We make the mistake of heading to Fantasyland. If there were 30,000 people in the park that day, 29,000 of them were in Fantasyland at that very moment. We make an about-face and decide to return to Jungle Cruise, but it is down due to lightning; we are told our Fast Passes will be good at any time during the day. Being an optimist, I lead us to Splash and Big Thunder Mountain, which are also down due to the weather. We grab FP's for Splash anyway – hoping our return time will be convenient or we will have an open return due to the weather.
We somehow make our way towards Tomorrowland and realize we could stand to take a break and grab some lunch. The Plaza Pavillion is nearby and so we stop there. We each have an Italian Stack Sandwich, share some fries, a soda for Jerry and water for me. We are both sold on the tomato-based condiment-like stuff that tops the sandwich as this is really the only thing close to seasoning. We watch many Mickey ponchos bopping around and realize what a beautiful view we have of the castle. Yes – this is why I love this place!
Our stomachs sufficiently filled, we make our way to Tomorrowland because Jerry has been told not to miss the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. I rather like it because it gives you a good overview of what can be found in Tomorrowland. The rain has finally stopped. In watching the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin line, I hedge my bets and think we will have just enough time to ride it before needing to meet our CM friend at 2:00. Jerry has an absolute blast aboard Buzz (pun intended) – especially since he somehow manages to find a target that causes his score to jump significantly higher than mine. Even though the ride stopped in one of the rooms and we had limitless target opportunities, I allow him to win anyway (told you I was going to make a good wife). lol.
We make our way down Main Street to meet our CM friend, Jim. His wife Lisa has just come on shift on the Walt Disney World Railroad (this is his day off) and we make our way up to the platform. She is due to conduct the next train through to Toontown, where she is scheduled to work that day, and we are allowed to ride in back with her. Jerry and I make the "all aboard" announcement and then Jerry hits the buttons for the train announcements. We also announce our arrival in Frontierland. Cool. We exit at Frontierland, where we see Splash is back up. Jim, who has been working at Splash for 3 weeks now, manages to secure a FP for himself and we make our way to the front of the line – or as close to the front of the line as we can get – even the FP line is long as the ride has just re-opened. Jerry was very nervous about riding this, as he doesn't do well on roller coasters. Specifically, the big drops make him a bit queasy and just looking at the drop on Splash made him … well … no … his face is not always that shade of green. Jerry survived, with help from Jim, who pointed out some hidden Mickeys and entertained us with tales of guests who leap out of their logs and run rampant within the attraction. In the end, I am the only one who is soaked, which is fitting, since I am the one who hates to walk around in wet clothes.
In no particular order, we did the following, traversing the park many times over: Country Bear Jamboree (had not seen this since I was a kid) – we were the last guests seated before they closed the doors – nice timing. Took our pictures in the stocks in Liberty Square, followed by some Mickey bars and a ride on the Liberty Belle. We got on line for Alien Encounter, only warning Jerry that it was intense. Jerry absolutely LOVED it! This was, without a doubt, his favorite ride. We visited Lisa at the Toontown train station and then hopped a ride over to Frontierland. Went to ride BtMR, where Jim finagled a baby swap pass for us that allowed 3 persons to use the FP line. Nice! I was not about to let Jerry leave without riding a true Disney classic – It's a Small World. And then we waited for over an hour for a ride that I could not leave without riding – Peter Pan's Flight – my all-time favorite Fantasyland ride. Afterwards, we had a few minutes before our Cinderella's Royal Table PS to take some pictures in front of the Partners statue.
And then, the moment I had waited for for 38 years – okay – so maybe I hadn't been waiting since the minute I was born, but certainly the moment I had waited for since becoming an adult and realizing my love for WDW. (and my love of Jerry too!) Jerry led me to the castle courtyard, which is, for the most part, deserted. I see him reaching into his pocket and I know what is about to happen. Jim is at the ready with camera in hand. Jerry faces me, declares his undying love, gets down on one knee and places the most sparkling diamond ring ….on my right hand. All the while, I am giggling and reminding him it should go on my left hand. He says it was the hand opposite HIS left. lol. With a resounding "YES", it's official. We are engaged. We seal it with a kiss and Jim marks the entire occasion with photos. I can barely walk because my knees are shaking so.
With just a few minutes to spare before our PS, Jim says he has to do something special for us. We zip into one of the nearby stores where he purchases the bride and groom Mickey ears for us. We insist these are for honeymooners and Jim will have nothing of it – placing them on our heads and declaring that being engaged entitles us to wear these. He checks us in at CRT, making sure the hostess notes our recent engagement. He then carries the camera into the waiting area, where I visibly (or is it audibly?) gasp when he turns me around to show me that Cinderella is here. We have our picture taken with Cinderella and I am very excited – like a kid in a candy store. Jim leaves us to secure front-row seats for SpectroMagic.
Soon, we are called upstairs and sit down to a wonderful meal. Our server makes little notice of our recent engagement, but one of the other wait staff do. We begin dinner with the seafood spring roll (or is it the egg roll?), which is absolutely delicious. Jerry has the Bruno's Chop with herb-roasted potatoes and I have Jaq's Seafood Risotto with calamari, scallops and creamy risotto. Both meals are wonderful. I find mine a bit rich though and am only able to finish about half of it. My still-shaking knees could be contributing to it as well.
As we come off of the Fantasyland Bridge (where Jim has told us to look for him), we spot him and try to make our way to our 'reserved seats' on the curb of the hub. This proves to be somewhat of a challenge as another guest apparently did not get her afternoon nap and is a bit cranky - basically throwing a fit about the number of people who are trying to get by. After making our way around her (she actually sat down in the middle of the walkway before Jerry could make his way through), we find Jim again. He has told the gathering crowd of our recent engagement and we arrive to cheers and applause.
We both enjoy Spectromagic and tears gather in my eyes at the sight. This is the first time I have seen this parade in its entirety. The Main Street Electrical Parade will forever be my favorite night-time parade, but there is just something about a Disney parade – any Disney parade – that puts a lump in my throat. Afterwards, like salmon running upstream, we fight the crowd who are headed to the hub and make our way to the Fantasyland bridge. We watch Tinkerbell fly (Jerry is in awe) and Fantasy in the Sky too. Jim points out to us that the castle actually changes colors to match the music that is played during the fireworks show (blue for music from the little Mermaid, etc.) Very cool.
We're off to Toontown to find Lisa, but she has already closed up the train station for the day. We take the path to Tomorrowland and realize that Space Mountain is still open. Jim and I make a made dash for the entrance and get in just before they close. I sit in the front for a very different, but awesome, ride.
We make our way to Main St., where we pick up our picture from Exposition Hall. Bid our good-byes to Jim and thank him for contributing to our magical day, with a promise to send him a copy of our pictures. We duck into the confectionary to pick up a gift for the neighbors, who have been taking care of the dog while we are away, and some Mickey rice krispie treats. And no trip to the Magic Kingdom would be complete without a stop at the Emporium (proof yet again, that I am a female!) as I have found a shirt for my son.
We return to ASMo and pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. We are both very excited and decide to go for a midnight swim. We have the pool to ourselves for about 2 minutes before 3 other people jump in – but they stay at their end of the pool and we stay at ours. When a large group of teenagers decide to join us as well, we call it an evening, finish the champagne and lights are out at approximately 1:00.
Day 3 – Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Waterlogged in The World
Today, Mickey wakes us at 7:58. My first full day of being an engaged woman and I don't get to wear my ring – because this is our water park day. Jerry is off to get coffee and hot chocolate, while I hop in the shower (I know what you're thinking – why take a shower when I'm only going to a water park? If you must know, I simply didn't want to be mistaken for Chewbacca and my legs needed shaving.)
After getting over the shock of damp and cold bathing suits following our late night swim, we make our way to the food court for breakfast. I have the breakfast potatoes and bacon and Jerry has the breakfast croissant sandwich and breakfast potatoes (remember what Paula says about those potatoes! lol.) We each have our choice of caffeine. Because neither of us have a watch, I have no idea what time we finally make it to the bus stop for Typhoon Lagoon.
We rent a locker, apply the sunscreen and make our way to the wave pool. We stay for a couple of iterations of the wave – I swim out to the 5 and a half-foot mark and catch some of the larger ones – lots of fun. We then wait for a tube in Castaway Creek and enjoy a leisurely ride around the park. We both have a chuckle over the shrill screams of delight that emanate from the wave pool each time a wave is coming. We exit near shark reef as this has intrigued Jerry since I first showed him the planning videos and pictures from a previous trip. Unfortunately, Jerry doesn't consider himself a strong swimmer, panics and can't make it across. I realize this as I am exiting the tank and see him getting out at the other side. I try to make one more swim across and this time my snorkel keeps filling with salt water and I panic. I make my way across as quickly as I can and we are done with shark reef.
We find the storm slides and ride all 3. Not the most thrilling of rides, but they were wet and I suppose that's all that matters. I decide to try Humunga Kowabunga and really like it. It's dark and it's fast. I was not up to a second trip down and if Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach provides you with more of a wedgie than this one, than I might have to re-think going on it on a later trip. After I've gotten my bathing suit all straightened out, we make our way across the park to do the tube slides. Both fun. Both wet.
The rumbling in our tummies tells us it's time to eat. Leaning Palms offers a variety that we like. I have the chicken wrap and chips, while Jerry tries the BBQ pork sandwich and fries. I'm surprised the chicken wrap is cold. But both are good.
We take another turn on Castaway Creek while lunch settles. Then it's off to the wave pool again. By this time, it is a bit crowded and after two waves, it is time to leave. It is now 3:00. We get a Finding Nemo mug instead of our $2 deposit for the locker rental – cute mug. A bus for the All Stars is waiting when we walk out, but it fills before we can get on and are forced to wait for another. An eternity passes before another one arrives.
Back at ASMo, we enjoy a couple of adult beverages before getting ready for the evening. I finally put my ring on for the first time today. The plan is to tour the monorail resorts – specifically the Polynesian, where we are considering staying on our trip next year. We take the bus to the Magic Kingdom and the resort monorail over to the TTC. We switch to the Epcot monorail and ride up front with the pilot. At Epcot, there is another family waiting to ride with the pilot, so we step into the next car. We ride back to TTC and hop on the resort monorail again. The next stop is the Poly and we get out to explore and decide to have dinner at O'hana's. We are able to walk right in and we both really enjoy this dinner. The one thing I notice is the restaurant is very noisy – something I don't remember from my first visit here. Jerry orders a Lupa Lupa and it was very strong. I had an under whelming pina colada. Jerry loved the wontons. And the shrimp was much less fishier (fishy tasting?) than last time. The pork was a bit dry. We both loved the pineapple with caramel sauce. Overall, a very enjoyable experience.
At the front desk, we asked about seeing a room so we could determine if it would meet the needs of what we affectionately call "our brood" (the two of us, my teenage son and his two daughters, age 6 and 7). There is no one available to show us the room, but we view a picture instead and can only say the day bed looks as big as a twin and would probably fit the teenager just fine. I wanted to check out the new volcano pool – it's a pool, it has a volcano in it – that's about all I can say. We walked on the beach and waited for a boat back to the Magic Kingdom. Jerry had little interest in touring the Grand Floridian (which was fine with me) and our resort monorail tour had come to an end. Instead, we hopped on the next boat to the Wilderness Lodge. I love the look of this place and it will forever be one of my dream resorts (with Animal Kingdom Lodge being the other). Jerry loved the look of this place and his gasp was audible when we entered the lobby. We spent a lot of time in the gift shop (what is it with women and shopping?) where Jerry found one of my favorite souvenirs of this trip – a dog tag for our Pug.
We took the boat back to the MK, where we saw part of the Electrical Water Pageant at the WL. I'm sorry now that we left before it started. I really think Jerry would like to have seen the whole thing. We grabbed a bus back to ASMu (because we were in the Mighty Ducks building, we have alternately used their busses and bus stops when it was convenient for us). After searching both the ASMu and ASMo gift shops (in vain) for a picture frame we had seen earlier during our stay, we returned to the room without it. We finished off a couple of more adult beverages and drifted off to sleep with the resort channel playing.
Day 4 – Wednesday, June 11, 2003
I arranged for a 7:58 a.m. wake up call from the Mouse and he called right on time. I showered, while Jerry made his daily run for caffeine (in the same form as the previous two days). When he returned, he hopped in the shower while I began the task of packing. It became clear that we would need to find a bigger WDW bag to place goodies in. We headed to the food court for breakfast: biscuits and gravy with a side of breakfast potatoes for me and a Mickey waffle with strawberries and potatoes and bacon for Jerry. We pick up a large shopping bag in the gift shop, took a stroll through Andy's Room and snapped some pictures. Headed back to our room to grab the bags and met our Tiffany Town Car driver at 11:40. (you just gotta love Express check-out!) I managed to hold back the tears, as difficult as it was. This small adventure was over and a new chapter in my life has just begun.
We had a flight delay out of MCO (left at 2:00 instead of 1:40). Grabbed some McDonald's to have on the plane for lunch. Had a layover in New Orleans and then changed planes in Houston. We arrived in San Antonio right on time 6:05 – it has certainly been a long day.
Jerry's sister picks us up at the airport and we head to the house to pick up my car and his mom. We enjoy dinner with my parents and son and Jerry's mom, sister and nephew. This is our parents' first meeting and we thought the timing couldn't have been better. A 45-minute drive home and we are out by 11:00 p.m.
This was a special trip in so many ways.
First and foremost was the proposal. Yes, I knew that Jerry was going to propose – he needed my help in planning the trip. But it didn't take away from the magic of that very moment. Definitely a dream come true.
Jerry's first trip. He really enjoyed himself and admitted that our time at The World was not enough to even scratch the surface. He really enjoyed Alien Encounter – his absolute favorite ride. And I loved showing him around and watching his reaction to all the things I love about the place.
Some alone time (just adults – no kids) spent with my fiancé at one of my favorite places on earth.
And as always … we can look forward to another trip. We plan to return next year at this same time (taking the whole brood along) and will be meeting up with our friends from England, the Stringers. With a party of 11 traveling together, you can bet we are in for one heck of a good time.