Sheri Niklewski -- April 2003 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite)
When – April 11–14, 2003
Why – “Heigh, heigh ho, It’s Back to the World We Go”
Well, I certainly didn’t plan to go back to Disney World this soon! Of course, every veteran Disney traveler will say that. Rich and I celebrated the sale of our Nebraska house and my birthday with a very nice trip in February (except for me getting sick the first day). We’re (I’m) planning a big family celebration in May for three different birthdays and for the rest of the family to meet our future daughter-in-law and granddaughter. I thought that would be plenty of Disney time for us. But…
We missed our friend, Lindy, when she visited Disney World in January. It was hard knowing she was there and we weren’t. Things just didn’t work out. Lindy is our little ray of sunshine and she adds lots to Disney. Her bright smile and pleasant personality just make a trip for us if she’s there. She lives outside Salt Lake City so coming to Disney World is a big undertaking for her. But somehow, she manages to be there enough! So when she said she was aiming to go back in April, I started to look at the calendar.
Both Rich and I are laid off and actively looking for jobs. Things could change tremendously but I believe in living in the present and not in the past and not pine for the future. So I planned for a weekend trip just to see Lindy. We could change things around to just a very short trip if the economy decided to loosen up a bit.
And then I realized that another dear Disney friend, Donna and her husband Richard, would also be at Disney World that very same weekend. I met Donna and Lindy through these trip reports and have met both of them in person at various times. But they’ve never met each other. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for an introduction so I dove right into all this. Lindy meet Donna, Donna meet Lindy, let’s go have some fun!
Hotel – Offsite Will Have To Do
This will be the weekend before Easter and a busy one. That is so obvious with the lack of hotel choices. Disney World doesn’t have any discounts going so the thought of staying onsite isn’t even in the picture. I looked at offsite choices and they weren’t very good either. Sure, I could get something but it would be a less than great place. Not to dis some of the hotel options but I think places put up four walls, a couple of floors, and a front desk and think that’s a place people want to stay at. It’s cheap enough and I’m sure it’s fine but I’ve been there, done that. And I don’t want to do it anymore.
So I searched and searched and searched. I liked using travelocity.com for their options but they are going more and more to the “guaranteed rate” which means you are locked into the reservation as soon as you book it. That won’t work since I’m hoping to cut out a couple of days because one of us (or both of us!) will be gainfully employed. I checked with floridakiss.com and got back either less than desirable places or ones that were too expensive for a quick trip. I couldn’t find a middle ground.
Then I tried guestpriviledges.com. This is through the chain of Comfort Inn/Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn and Clarion Inn. I have a free frequent stay membership. They came back with the Comfort Inn at Lake Buena Vista for $54/night. I’ll get two double beds, a microwave and a refrigerator. Not bad considering a lot of the places I was looking at were either sold out for Friday and Saturday or wanted a ton of extra money for those nights. The location is behind Crossroads right outside of Downtown Disney. Not a problem since we’ll be driving and have our own car.
Touring/Meeting With People – All This Happened Because of Trip Reports
I love meeting in person with my friends that I’ve met online. It’s just great. Somehow, we all seem to mesh. I’ve corresponded with Donna and Lindy for almost three years now. They have been mentioned frequently in my previous trip reports. Disney World and our love for the area brought us together.
Donna and Richard will be coming off a cruise and the trip to Disney World will be just to be there. They plan no park time at all. Just to relax at Port Orleans French Quarter and chill without their two daughters. Richard loves Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island so they want to do lots of that. Lindy will be there for over a week so she’s up to anything.
What we came up with was to meet for drinks/snacks at Scat Cat Lounge at Port Orleans French Quarter. It’s my excuse to get Rich back over there. We’ve never stayed here so any visit is a treat. All five of us will meet Friday night at 6:30 for conversation and libation. From there, we’ll go to Pleasure Island where Donna and Richard will introduce us to the Adventurers Club. Actually, Lindy and I were there a few years ago but just didn’t get it so it’ll be nice to have veterans show us the ropes. Donna and Richard will be getting Pleasure Island Annual Passes and part of that is being able to get in one person free with each pass. So for the three of us, we will split the entrance fee for the third person.
We may or may not see a show or two at the Comedy Warehouse. Who knows – that’s what vacations are for!
For Saturday, everyone is on their own. I have no idea what Rich and I will do. On Sunday, we really want to do our normal marathon Off Kilter day, taking in all four of their performances. Lindy extended her stay so she could enjoy with us. We love the band at the Canada pavilion at Epcot so Sunday would be a total Epcot day with lots of walks around World Showcase. That will change if we need to get back to Atlanta for jobs on Monday. Then, we’d just stay for the first show and hightail it back to the cats.
The Trip Down – As Rich Says – “The Most Boring Drive in the World”
Rich does not like to do the entire seven hour drive down to Disney World all in one day. It’s enough that we do the drive back all at once but the cats and our own beds await at the end of the trip so he’s fine with that. We usually will go halfway to Valdosta, GA and stop for the night. That’s when we were employed and left after work. Now that we have all this free time (she says sarcastically), we’ll still just go halfway on Thursday but leave around 2:00 or 3:00. This will give us most of the day with the cats but get us through Atlanta before the afternoon rush hour starts.
We usually stay at a Days Inn south of Valdosta but since we’d be arriving in plenty of time for dinner and relaxing in the room, I was searching for something different. I went through guestprivileges.com (free membership) and set us up at the Quality Inn South for $38.66. Not a bad rate and we get a continental breakfast in the morning. I requested a king bed, as usual.
On Friday, we’ll be up and on the road by 8:00 (I hope) and will be pulling onto Disney World grounds by noon. With the method of travel, each of us only has to do one leg of driving each day and gets us to Disney World in plenty of time to enjoy most of the first day. The drive back can be mind numbing but at least we have our thoughts of another Disney trip.
Two Weeks Before – “Whoo Doggie – That’s a Couple of Slices of Boardwalk Pizza!”
Well, one of us is “employed”. It’s a very long story but the end result is that Rich is now a partner in a sports card shop! He’s been collecting cards for almost as long as I’ve known him and has about two million of them. One of his dreams has been to open his own shop and deal and trade and barter and whatever. I don’t get into those types of things (pin trading holds no desire for me at all – and I’ve refused to get Rich even near it). A good offer came along very quickly and within a day, Rich was moving his stuff (well, part of it – you’d need to rent out the Georgia Dome for all his collection) into the new shop.
Lindy emailed and said that she was still flying standby and all the direct flights looked full so she’d probably be on a connecting flight through Atlanta. But, it was going to be in the afternoon/evening so if she couldn’t get on the last flight out of Atlanta, she’d be stuck at the airport all night. Could we pick her up if that happened? Of course! So we’ll be on call Friday night in case Lindy needs a place to stay.
I was surfing online one day and decided to check if any Disney resorts were available through expedia.com. I thought maybe some last minute cancellations or free up of rooms would happen. Yes, I could get on property. For full rack rate. Sigh. But I did see that the Comfort Inn I already had booked was available on expedia. Let’s check out their rates.
Well, it wasn’t much but it was cheaper. Friday night was $36.75, Saturday and Sunday nights were $44.25 each. With all the taxes figured in, I ended up saving $25 which doesn’t sound like a lot but as Rich said “whoo doggie, that’s a couple of slices of Boardwalk pizza!” Or, my thinking was “that’s going to be our Adventurer’s Club intake for the evening”. So I switched the reservation over to expedia.com. The only difference is that my credit card is billed for the entire three nights immediately. Which is why I waited until I knew for sure that we were going.
The Day Before – Wednesday, April 9, 2003 – As the Wheelchair Turns
Ugh! Total Ugh! Rich had been nursing a sore ankle for about a week and we just chalked it up to the new shop and other things going on. Like the horrible wet and rainy weather. But when he could barely walk on the right foot today, we sucked it up and went to the doctor. We have no insurance but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. 11:30 appointment, thank you very much. I had a long hour and a half while Rich was being tended to. I knew the verdict was bad when people who went into see the doctor left way before Rich emerged from the exam room. In a wheelchair. Crap.
Diagnosis – gout in the right ankle. He was given heavy doses of anti-inflammatories and pain killers. And he could barely walk. We got home from getting the prescriptions and I had Rich called Care Medical which is listed on www.wdwig.com. I didn’t see any negative things on the site so I figured we’d get a rental wheelchair just in case. We were hoping the drugs did something but I wasn’t sure that would happen. Rich called the 800 number.
And was helped by a very friendly person. Not a problem to have a manual wheelchair delivered to the Comfort Inn by 11:00 on Friday. Not a problem for Care Medical to pick it up by noon on Monday. It’ll be $35 for the entire weekend which is not bad at all. Rich is mobile but will be suffering at some points, I’m sure. I wanted to make sure we had something 24/7. As Rich said “I want something to take me from Point A to Point B if needed”. This will do. He’s going to try and roll himself along but I’ll be there to help him out.
We do NOT intend to bypass any queue lines at all. Rich can limp his way through anything. We don’t anticipate any special treatment. We’ll leave that to people who need it a heck of a lot more than we do. We don’t have a handicap placard or anything so special parking is not an option either. I will drop Rich off when needed and then meet up with him after I park in a normal space.
I did call both hotels (Quality Inn in Valdosta and Comfort Inn in Lake Buena Vista) and requested first floor rooms for medical reasons. Not a problem at either place. I’m sure Rich can handle using stairs but I knew he’d go overboard because he’s still saying he’s going to feel “weird”.
Neither one of us has ever had any experience with a wheelchair so this will be extremely interesting. Oh well, every Disney World trip has its moments.
Day One – Thursday, April 10, 2003 – How’s the Foot Today, Dear?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question was “the same as yesterday”. Rich did think the whole ankle thing would get better with the meds but I insisted we keep the wheelchair just in case. There was a 24 hour cancellation policy so we had to let them know by 11:00 AM today. We just weren’t sure so we’re going to eat the $35 if the chair isn’t needed. Of course, we can always use it to carry in our luggage!
We spent the morning chatting online with our soon to be daughter-in-law, Chandra. Our son, Chris, was having a hissy fit at us so he was not friendly at all. Too bad, Chris. Anyway, we spoiled the cats a bit and waited until early afternoon to leave. I was going to do all the driving on the trip since, of course, it’s Rich’s right ankle and having it available for gas and brake in the car was not an option. So I headed us through Atlanta. We live northeast of downtown and anytime we go into Atlanta, we consider it an adventure. I have absolutely no patience for the traffic and stupid drivers. I am the person you see yelling and screaming in traffic jams. Definite Grr Moments and I tend to avoid them as much as possible. Not a choice today.
We left our house around 1:30 and made a quick stop at the bank and then topped off the gas tank so we wouldn’t have to stop for that. Today was the day that President Bush announced Saddam’s regime had finally crumbled but gas prices aren’t going down at all. Small price to pay to live in this country. I got us through Atlanta and made a stop at the rest area just outside of Macon, GA. That was about two hours into the drive. Rich snoozed a bit. I wish I had the luxury since I usually don’t see this part of the trip because I’m always dozing! I can make some spousal sacrifices for the trip. The break was definitely needed for me. This drive is so boring! After our break, Rich did feed some Off Kilter into the CD player so that kept me occupied. We got to Valdosta and the Quality Inn around 5:30.
We were put into a ground floor room just doors away from the main lobby. Extremely nice and we were able to park right at the door to the room. I unloaded the car and then went to get some ice. When I got back to the room, Rich was no where to be seen and the front door (they have a front and back door here) was standing wide open. I guess a car and a pickup truck just couldn’t avoid each other on the main road and the car didn’t look all that well. Within five minutes, there were police cars, a fire truck, and paramedics on the scene. We don’t think anyone was hurt but all those people are needed just to make sure. Made for an interesting “rush hour” at Exit 16 off I75 in Valdosta, GA on a Thursday night.
We relaxed in the room for a while. I can handle driving when needed (and have done the whole seven hours in a row to Disney World) but I was beat. I wanted food in a “real” restaurant. One that had a bar. Don’t look at Exit 16 for anything like that. We went all the way into “downtown” Valdosta and didn’t see anything. The best we could do was Shoney’s near our hotel. That’s fine – it’s cheap and it’s fast. Rich had the special barbeque buffet and I did a chef’s salad. Which was huge! I was not too impressed with the service here and our server ended up taking a 30 minute break. She was replaced by someone else who insisted I take the rest of my salad with me. I had eaten all the turkey and ham plus the hard boiled eggs and tomatoes out of it so the only thing really left was the lettuce. What the heck am I going to do with lettuce as leftovers? I had to tell the woman several times that I did not want a doggy bag. Total here before tip was $19. Not bad but a glass of wine would have hit the spot quite nicely. Tomorrow is Pleasure Island so I’ll make up for it.
Back to the room for TV watching (HBO first with the last hour of “Shrek” and then Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman in “High Crimes” – we’d seen both before but we were exhausted) and then lights out. I set the alarm for 7:00 to make sure we were on the road at a decent time. With both of us being able to sleep in the mornings, it’s hard for us to get up electronically.
Rich’s ankle was hurting him and it still looked like a football but he said he could move his big toe. Whoo hoo! That said a lot considering the past week. He doesn’t want to be babied but that’ll change in the next couple of days.
Day Two – Friday, April 11, 2003 – Rich The Stupid Man, Kongaloosh and Yakoose
The alarm blared dutifully at 7:00. The allergy season in North Georgia had been in high gear but the pollen count went down since we had six days of rain. Not today. I normally don’t have any problems but this has been the worse pollen count in the past five years. I think the whole South is just one huge pocket of suffering. My right ear closed up on me during the night. Great. My husband can barely walk and now I can’t hear 50% of anything. Oh well, we’re going to Disney World. Just make sure you are on my left hand side dear, or I’ll ignore you all day.
I got everything into the car – Rich did hoist the suitcase into the trunk. We checked out the continental breakfast but it ended at 9:00 and it was 8:30 by the time we got down there so it featured leftover doughnuts and cold cereal. Not for me. I was still tired. Rich got some juice and milk and downed his meds. We brought along cinnamon rolls from home so we were fine for food for the morning. I checked us out. The gas prices here were about 10 cents higher than home so we continued on towards the Florida border, hoping for something a little more reasonable. Ain’t going to happen. We pulled over a couple of exits later and gasped at the $1.55 for regular. I gagged. Then Rich saw a station a little further up the road and they were so much cheaper. I did only get the middle grade which my car reluctantly accepts but I knew it was going to be better than Florida’s prices.
We got the car happy and then I headed us south. Rich claimed his ankle was better and he could drive but I told him to shut up and sit in the passenger seat for the next three hours. This drive is boring too! I got us to the Disney Information Center in Ocala and then really needed a break. That was only a couple hours into the drive so I knew I was getting very tired. We took some potty breaks and I briefly looked around the gift shop. I thought about getting the five day hopper passes for Chris, Chandra and Marlie (Chandra’s daughter and our soon to be granddaughter) here but passed. Then I headed us back south. Next stop, Lake Buena Vista.
The Comfort Inn was beyond Downtown Disney and we have never stayed over here before. It’s on Palm Parkway and I had a vague idea where it was. Usually, I’m the navigator and Rich is the driver. Let’s just say that Rich stinks (I would use a harsher word but this is a family report) at giving directions. He waits until we’re right at an intersection to pull out the map and read through the instructions. So we’re at Crossroads and Rich finally gets the hotel information out. Ugh. I love you dear but you drive me crazy sometimes! Fortunately, I do have a great sense of direction and found the Comfort Inn without any problems. The location isn’t that great for me – I’d prefer to be closer to Disney World and not have to go past Downtown Disney each time. I attract red lights. Meaning no matter what the circumstance, I will get a red light. Do you know how many traffic lights there are at Downtown Disney? I’d become acquainted with every single one of them this trip. Rich had lots and lots of laughs along the way. Pay no attention to the silly man in the passenger seat.
We had to wait a bit for check in and the clerk had to go into the back for a while for something. I don’t know if our “special” request was a problem or what. Rich asked about the wheelchair being delivered. I was prepared to call Care Medical and gripe if the thing wasn’t there but we were directed over to the Business Center and here comes the wheelchair. Those things are huge even folded up! Remember, I’ve really had no experience with these things. I’ve sat in them once after Chris was born (21 years ago) and once after I broke my shoulder. Rich *never* has been in one. Yes, we do count our lucky stars all the time. Rich hobbled out to the car and shoved the chair into the back seat since the trunk was still full.
Our room wasn’t ready so we discussed options on what to do until 3:00. It was about noon at this point. I had thought about going to Animal Kingdom and doing Dinosaur since we hadn’t done that in quite a while. Rich said he was game for it and was going to attempt it without the chair. Stupid, stupid man.
I got us all the way over to Animal Kingdom, hitting every single red light. Rich was laughing so hard. That would be his last laugh for a while. Stupid man. There was only one lone attendant at the entrance plaza at the park so it took some time to get through into the lot. And I had to show the back of the Annual Pass for the free parking. OK – whatever. I wanted to drop Rich off as close to the entrance as possible but was concerned about security since we didn’t have a handicapped placard or anything and Rich insisted he was fine to walk from the parking lot. Stupid man. So I parked where I could and we walked. Well, I walked, Rich limped.
We could tell the crowds were a little higher than we’ve been used to the past couple of trips. I kind of expected that. It’s the weekend before Easter and lots of people are on spring break. Our reason for this weekend was not the parks – it’s to see friends. So we’re prepared to just experience what we can and not expect anything more. The “Big Board” had decent wait times so we went over to Dinosaur. I didn’t know I could walk that slow! I found myself constantly watching out for other people who were into the Disney experience and were wandering around seemingly aimlessly and cutting in front of Rich. He had no outward signs of immobility but he was affected. I think he called me “Mother” at one point.
We got to Dinosaur and it had a 30 minute stand by. Which was fine for us. And then they dialed it down to 20 minutes. Great! But the FastPassers poured into the queue and we barely moved. We didn’t even get into the main queue area in fifteen minutes so we decided to bail. Ever seen a man with a football ankle try and duck under a queue line? Quite comical. I could laugh at Rich’s expense for once. On the way out, the stand by time was up to 45 minutes. We checked out Primeval Whirl but that was 20 minutes and the line stretched throughout the entire queue. Weekend crowds are here!
We were getting hungry so we did what we normally do at Disney World. Beer and a pretzel. A quick stop at a kiosk and then we headed over to the Flame Tree Barbeque seating area. There were plenty of seats here and we enjoyed the sunshine when we could. A word about the weather. The so-called forecasters said it would be in the 70s today. I think those guys were high or something. If it broke into the 60s at points, I’d be surprised.
After looking at the watch, I figured that we could make the 2:00 show of Flights of Wonder. This is Rich’s all time favorites at Disney World. He’s such a nature lover and has to see this show every time. He was gamely going along with all the walking so we finished our meal (Rich getting most of the beer since he was not driving this entire trip) and then headed for the show. We got to the area before they were letting people in for seating so we grabbed a bench and listened to the host tell the audience about owls. Rich was really limping now but we made it to outside the theatre next to a hat kiosk. This Cast Member was so concerned about Rich and his “walking” abilities. She wanted to call for a wheelchair but Rich was having none of that. But we spent the next five minutes or so talking with her. She was still insisting on a wheelchair and I’m sure it would have been a freebie but we passed and went into the show. Rich was still being Stubborn Stupid Man.
The show was enjoyable although we had a kind of unusual host. He was very good but just a little over the top. But I did my usual tear up with Hope, the American Bald Eagle. Especially with the current world situation.
After the show, we slowly and I mean, slowly made our way to the exit. We could check back in at the Comfort Inn around 3:00 so we were on track for that. We exited the park and Rich hobbled to the furthermost bench from the entrance and I left him there while I brought the car around. Stupid man. He finally admitted that the wheelchair would be an option for the rest of the trip.
I got us back to the Comfort Inn. I gave up trying to count the number of red lights as I got through Disney property. I pulled out lots of cuss words that I had forgotten over the years! Rich stayed in the car and I got our room keys. We’re on the first floor and I guess they thought they did me a favor and we are next to the pool. Yeck! At least the pool doesn’t open until 9:00 AM and closes at 10:00 PM. But the room is in the middle of the building so we have to go a long way from the parking lot. Rich limped there and he was done for a while. I went back to the car and got out the suitcase and our other travel bag and brought them back to the room. Then one more trip out and I somehow got the wheelchair out from the back seat. Then I loaded up everything else from the car into the wheelchair seat (Diet Coke, laptop, assorted other items, jackets). There’s a mesh bag on the back of the chair and I attempted to put all my documents and maps (I over plan everything) into it. I misjudged the opening and everything fell on the damp ground. It was not a pretty sight. I was tired and frustrated. I wheeled the whole mess back to the room, going around the housekeeping carts, and finally wrestled everything into the room. And then Rich said “could you get some ice”. If you felt the ground shake today, that was me.
I took a little break with getting the ice and Rich could tell I needed it. He was hurting, I was tired, and I’ll never look at another caregiver the same way ever again. I didn’t really do anything physically but the mental challenges are so, so hidden. Rich turned on some inane TV show and I decided that a nap for me was needed. We were meeting Donna, Richard, and Lindy tonight and there was no way I could do that without some shuteye. That half hour was so welcome for everyone!
This Comfort Inn is fine for our needs but I’m not sure I’d stay here again. We have two double beds (we’ll use both of them – we’re spoiled by a king bed a home and enjoy the space), a decent vanity, a desk with one chair, and easy chair, mini-fridge, microwave, in room safe and a teeny tiny hair dryer. We do face the pool and then right beyond that is I4. Zoom, zoom, zoom, go the cars all the time. There is a security guard so you have to have a parking pass to get in here. That’s good to know. There’s a breakfast buffet and a dinner buffet plus a place to get light meals. For the price, it’s great for the weekend but I don’t think I’d stay here for any longer than this. It’s a different experience and not that bad. But I wish I were at All Stars.
Around 6:00, we headed out to meet up with everyone at Scat Cat Lounge at Port Orleans French Quarter. Rich did use the wheelchair to get to the car. I pushed him and it wasn’t that bad at all. No wheelies were done this time. Rich folded up the chair and stowed it in the trunk. He said it felt funny to be able to do that but still need the chair anyway. Never question anyone’s need for assistance. You just never know.
How many red lights did I get on the way to French Quarter? Well, Rich said one light was green but I still had to slow down so I was not happy. I had to show my driver’s license to get into French Quarter and then I dropped Rich off at the entrance so he could wait on a bench for me. He didn’t think he needed the chair to get through the lobby but I certainly was not going to have him walk from the parking lot. I parked fairly closely to the entrance but I’m glad I dropped off Rich.
Donna and Richard were waiting for us at the Lounge. This is to the left of the registration lobby and very easy to find. And very empty. Rich has never met Richard so we did brief introductions for those two and then Richard went to get us drinks. We visited and talked about Donna and Richard’s cruise and everything that has been happening in the past week. Donna said they have been out of touch on the cruise. They did see some of the war coverage but were enjoying the freedoms they have had. And they didn’t know about French Quarter closing next month for a long time for a total refurbishment. I’m really glad we got a chance to get over here before the changes in the next year.
I had stupidly forgotten both our cell phones and Lindy’s cell phone number and there was no sign of her. I don’t know why, but I figured she had forgotten the meeting time. Donna, Richard, and Rich wanted food so they went over to the food court and got some grub. Rich had a cheesesteak and fries. And then we all ordered another bar round. We were switching paying for the bar tab.
Right around 7:30, Lindy showed up. She had gotten the time wrong but that was fine. We all visited and Lindy, Donna, and Richard exchanged cruising stories. Rich and I have never taken a cruise so we just enjoyed everyone else’s tales. Lindy is staying offsite at a condo and is renting a car. Donna and Richard drove up from Ft. Lauderdale from the cruise and are staying at French Quarter. Lots of talk about everyone’s week and trip experiences.
I really want to take a moment and thank Lindy, Donna, and Richard. I’ve known Donna and Lindy for three years now and they’ve never met each other. But the meet was seamless and so easy. All five of us are so different – Rich and I have one child who is grown and has his own life, Donna and Richard have two young girls plus a grown teenager, Lindy is a single woman. But we meshed so, so well. It was a great time and I’m so grateful for the experience.
Lindy was lagging. She said her condo mates got going at park opening and stayed out until closing so she was tired after her week at Disney World. That’s not what she’s used to. She was opting out of Pleasure Island. Rich and I were still up to it so we said goodbye to Lindy although I think we’ll see her again during the weekend. We have Willie Bob and Billie Bob at MGM and also some Off Kilter planned so we’ll see.
We made plans to meet up with Donna and Richard at the Westside entrance to Pleasure Island. I knew parking would be a problem. It’s Friday night during Spring Break after all. I was not going to have Rich walk anymore than necessary. It’s drop him and then I’ll park. Donna and Richard got their car, we said goodbye for now to Lindy and then I went and got our car and piled Rich into it. We ended up being next to Lindy at a light on the drive so it was interesting to be talking to her. We went to the left, she went to the right. See you later, we hope.
I drove right up to Pleasure Island next to Planet Hollywood and Rich hobbled out to sit on a bench near the entrance. Donna and Richard would be somewhere around there. And then I went to look for a parking space. This was close to 9:00 on a Friday night. I didn’t have high hopes. But I don’t have a problem walking (something I would become extremely grateful for) so I went way out to Cirque and there were a ton of spaces out there. I cruised through the Westside and took notice that every single restaurant had lines out the door. Good thing we were all satisfied.
I met up with the others and then we went into Pleasure Island. Donna was getting me in on her pass (free pass for one on a Friday night) and Richard was taking care of Rich. Wow – it takes a while to get through the line since everyone has to show an ID and then get the wristband and a hand stamp. But it wasn’t that bad except for that guy who insisted on having a cigar while standing in the queue line. Yeck! I don’t care if you want to smoke – that’s your right. But I don’t have a choice. We moved over as far as we could but it was still gross.
We got to the Adventurer’s Club and I’m so glad that we were here with Donna and Richard. They certainly know this club. We went down to the main show with Rich gamely taking the stairs. Donna led the way and we followed as best as we could. Donna and Richard are old hands at this but Rich and I were initiated into the Club. Richard went over to check out the next show in the library and once those doors opened, he scored us a front table. Excellent. Told you these guys were the experts.
Rich went whole hog and had the Kongaloosh with the souvenir mug (a yakoosh? A combo of a yak and a moose). Donna and Richard also had Kongalooshes but without the mugs because they said they had too many of them at home. I stuck to wine. It was a little strange because the waiter recognized Donna and Richard from the night before. OK, we know Off Kilter, Donna and Richard know the Adventurer’s Club. After the library show, we had another encounter in the main show area and then went back into the library. We had another round with everyone else doing beers and me sticking to wine. I knew I had to drive back to the hotel and I was getting pretty darned winded. After this show, we parted ways with Donna and Richard. They wanted more library shows but it had been a long, long day for both Rich and me.
Rich insisted on walking through Westside but I finally made him sit on a bench while I fetched the car. The wheelchair will become our “friend” for the next couple of days. I drove us back to the Comfort Inn and got a nice thumbs up from the security guard since we had the parking pass displayed. I like having the security here. Rich used the wheelchair to get back to the room with me pushing him. I got us some ice for the evening and then we just relaxed with me falling fast asleep before Rich. Up at 7:00 AM, on the go all day long and I’m not used to this.
Day Three – Saturday, April 12, 2003 – “Spinna, Spinna Hat”; Flippers Pizza Disaster
I woke up at 7:30 and so did Rich. Thanks to those nice little kids playing tag right outside our door. I guess they were waiting for the pool to open at 9:00 so they considerately just ran around outside and yelled for the next hour and a half. I was so tired but we finally got up and about when the pool opened. As far as I’m concerned, you can take your pool views and stick them. The noise isn’t worth anything for two adults with no children.
We took our time with me working on the report and waking up. Rich figured out that his ankle was better but not that great. Stupid man with not taking the wheelchair yesterday. I think he delayed his recovery by at least a couple of days by walking around so much. The wheelchair is going today and don’t stop me, buddy.
Before we left our house, I had made up a sign “Rich’s Wheelie Chair”. I brought along Ziploc bags (always travel with them, you never know when you’re going to need them) so I put the sign into a Ziploc and then used safety pins (never travel without them either) to pin the bag to the back of the chair. I wanted something to distinguish our wheelchair from everyone else’s. Rich was not amused but since I was pushing him around, he had no choice. Away we went with the wheelchair. Rich did load it into the trunk and then I drove us over to go to MGM for the first part of the day.
We did make a stop at the Virgin Megastore at Downtown Disney. Lindy had been told at the Canada pavilion that the third Off Kilter CD (Celtic Armadillo) was available here. We didn’t see it in the World section and I finally had Rich ask for it. Only the first two CDs. The clerk here had no clue but she did finally look it up in the computer (after I started getting impatient). Nope, not even in the inventory. Damn – I should have ordered it over the internet before I left.
We normally would park at the Swan and take the walkway to MGM. But there were two factors here today. One was the wheelchair. The walkway would not be an option for our marriage. And even with that, the heightened security alert had guards at the Swan parking lot. I suggested the Boardwalk but Rich didn’t want to make an excuse to park there. So we settled on Fantasia Miniature Golf instead. But when I went by the Swan, we checked it out and saw no guard stationed. So we went there for parking. We used the regular lot and I pushed Rich in the wheelchair through the lobby and out to where the Friendship boat docks. We had a little bit of a wait but were introduced to Wheelchair Disney Style.
As soon as the MGM boat pulled up, we were directed to the back of the boat and all the gates and doors were opened by helpful and friendly Cast Members. We are not used to this and didn’t expect it. Once at MGM, Rich was through the handicapped turn style and I went through the regular one. Not a problem. Rich was handling some of the wheelchair movement himself but for short periods of time. He helped me out not only on the up hills but, more importantly, on the down hills. Those were the worst. More on that later.
Thanks to Lindy last night, we knew that our favorite juggler, Randy, was going to be part of the Streetmosphere today at various times. The first of those times was coming up. Randy performs as Willie Bob – a “duet” with Billie Bob. Randy and Matt (Billie Bob) used to perform at the now defunct Hunchback of Notre Dame preshow. Shame on Disney for cutting that out and not replacing it with anything. But at least we get these guys doing a short show on their own. Disney – this is a great resource and you need to use them more often! It’s corn poke humor and they do the skit down in between Twilight Zone and Rock N Roller Coaster. We met up with Lindy and her condo mates and I took Rich’s pass and got us two Fast Passes for Twilight Zone in about an hour and a half. This was around 12:30 or so.
The Willie Bob/Billy Bob show was lots of fun, as usual. They do this bit about spinning hats. It’s funny when you see it but kind of hard to explain. Randy has a bowler style hat and does a little bit of juggling/spinning with it to get it back on his head. Matt has a straw hat which has no shape at all so therefore, he can’t do anything with it. Randy “shows off” and then Matt tries to “duplicate” it. It has Randy saying in a very backwoods accent “spinna, spinna hat”. That’s our Disney quote for the trip and forever more.
Lindy had suggested for us to go to Rock N Roller Coaster because there was no wheelchair wait. I thought Rich and I were communicating but I guess we weren’t. I got him over there and it was a 45 minute stand by line. I wanted Rich to ask what we should do and he totally balked at having any special treatment. I could understand that but I just wished he had said that before I pushed his behind all the way over there. I was totally out of sorts at that point. We bickered a little and I just pushed. Grr Moment, definitely.
We made it over to Star Tours and it was only a five minute stand by and I told Rich that he was going on it and if he didn’t want to, he could sit outside and wait for me. Not a pretty sight. We bypassed the entire queue because of the wheelchair but had a little wait at the end until a whole ship was ready for us. We were the first ones to be led into the holding area. First row and all the way to the right. I can’t say that you get preferential treatment with having a wheelchair. These seats weren’t the best but they were OK. The Cast Member here was great with handling the chair and taking it through the ship. It was waiting for us at the end of the ride. Rich can walk but it’s slow going.
After our trip, we waited until most of the people left so we weren’t within the crowd. But you have to go downhill to get into the shop. Let me tell you this – if you have a manual wheelchair behind you going downhill, please pay attention. It’s so hard to stop these things! I really wanted to just let go of the handles and yell “everyone is on their own” but that would have been cruel. Rich broke as much as he could but my muscles were sorely tested (crack myself up). Our first of many wheelchair episodes of the day.
After this was Muppets. We got the whole preshow and were waiting at the back for the wheelchair row along with about four other handicapped families. Once the announcement came on to move to the right and to the front, Rich was in trouble. If you need to do this, fine. Just make sure you realize that the wheelchairs are already poised and in position. They are not going anywhere. So don’t climb over them. We actually had a woman and her kids literally straddle over Rich to get closer to the doors. In fact, the woman was face to face with Rich and it could have been a highly adult situation. I just never thought I’d see a woman that intimate with my husband in a public place – heck, even in a private place. Ugh! It wasn’t even a full show either. And it’s the harmless Muppets! The instructions were to go at least 3/4 of the way into the aisles. I parked Rich in the back and grabbed a seat next to him. Enjoyable show again although those seats aren’t the best there either since you can’t see anything that happens on the back wall. Oh well, at least we’re at Disney World.
Then we had another wheelchair thing. We waited and exited the Muppets after most of the people in order to avoid the throngs. Then we had this woman just aimlessly veering around and around in front of us. I tried the best I could (with Rich’s help) to avoid her rambling but it was extremely hard. She finally ended up walking right into the side of the wheelchair. I know it’s hard to see someone who is sitting down and the woman is at Disney World. This kind of incident happened time and time again throughout the day. Lots of people got their lower body touched by Rich as a warning they were about ready to run into him.
We had entered our window for Twilight Zone while we were in Muppets so it was back over to the other side of the park for our drop. Here, we left the wheelchair outside the entrance and Rich made his way on foot through the attraction. The queue is wheelchair friendly but it’s uphill and Rich said he was fine since we could basically walk on this with the Fast Pass. Stand by time was listed at 30 minutes but I think it was a little longer than that. When we got into the library, we stood right in front of the TV set which is unusual for us. I always head to the back so we can be one of the first out and into the boiler room. But again, I wanted to wait until everyone else left so Rich could take his time. I figured the elevators would still be there for us. And drat it, I was right.
Oh boy – they have redone this and we’ve been on it since the random drops were installed. Before that, there were lapbars and only one seat had a seatbelt. Rich and I have both done the seatbelt seat but this entire elevator had seatbelts. And we were in the front row. I’m so glad the lady next to me didn’t use the handles in between us. I had a death grip on both of them! Poor Rich was left on his own too. This sequence really knocked the stuffings out of me. I was poised for the big drop first but this one dropped us just a little, then went back up in the dark, then I lost track of what was going on. Lots and lots of little drops which totally threw me. I’m hoping there were no little children in that elevator because I used some profanity. I try and be good on this but I wasn’t successful today. I didn’t even bother to look at the picture at the end. I didn’t want to see the sheer terror in my face. Poor Chandra might need assistance after she goes on this next month.
We retrieved the wheelchair and hunger had set in. But it was time for another dose of Willie Bob and Billie Bob. Lindy and her condo friends had seen all four shows of the day and this was the last one. They pretty much did the same routine but the guys change the banter to fit the audience. It was fun and we just happened to be there when I knew they were going to do the skit. Otherwise, we would have continued on. Kind of helps to have the Lindy Intel sometimes.
Lindy was excited because she and her friends had done the Millionaire show and she ended up in the Hot Seat! Whoo hoo! She did get the hat and the pins but stumbled on the 32,000 point question. Darn it. She wanted that cruise. Other than Larry, I haven’t met anyone who has been in the Hot Seat. We’ll have to pass this up next month because I don’t think Marlie, at the age of five, is going to really enjoy this. We’ll do Playhouse Disney instead. Anything for our little granddaughter (who says we’re not spoiling her?).
After the “Bob” show, we went over to the turkey leg place since we knew they had beer. Also available was a nice foot long hot dog. Disney foot longs are truly foot longs and Rich and I share these. We got our very simple “lunch” (more like linner) and Rich balanced the tray while I pushed him over to the very crowded seating area. We had to wait a little for a huge family to clear out. They left benches pulled out so I had to rearrange some things before Rich could be accommodated. This family had a couple of strollers so I didn’t really understand why they weren’t a little more considerate. Oh well, common theme of the day.
I cut off a little bit of the hot dog as a start and put some ketchup on it. I had planned to eat a couple of portions. I had gotten us some containers of ketchup. Did I ever report that Rich absolutely loves ketchup? As in “smear it all over everything”. Which he did with the remainder of the hot dog. Gross! I guess I’ll be happy with the small piece of the dog I did get. Rich told me to have more if I was hungry but I don’t think I’d be able to taste the meat with all the ketchup on it. Oh well, there are plenty more options. Rich insisted I go and get a slice of pizza but I was fine for a while.
We were done with MGM for the trip. We’ll be here next month with the kids (yes, Chris is going to be 21, Chandra is 26 but they will always be kids to us). I picked up some MGM brochures since I want to put together informational packets for all the other members of the family that will be here. That trip report will probably rival “War and Peace” with everyone that is coming to meet Chandra and Marlie. And everyone is looking to me for Disney World advice and opinions. It’s a tough job but someone has gotta do it.
Then back to the boat dock. Did you know that the ramp goes downhill here? We were at the back of the line so I could have had mashed some ankles but Rich broke as best as he could and we were led to the outside part of the boat which was nice for us. The day, by the way, was absolutely gorgeous. No clouds, bright sunshine, but not that hot. Probably in the high 70s. Wheelchair aside, it was a great day.
We stayed on the boat all the way to Epcot. We thought about getting off at the Boardwalk. Rich wanted me to get a slice of pizza there but I was still fine. And the thought of pushing Rich over that one bridge was a little much for me. We entered Epcot the same way as MGM – Rich on his own and me through a regular turnstyles. Oh – security did check the mesh bag on the back of the wheelchair. I had my waist pack in there and always had it out and unzipped and ready to go. The guards at each place felt the mesh bag and we only had cell phones and jackets in there. I did have my camera case and the Epcot guard made me get it out so he could check it. Not a problem, thank you very much for making sure our trip is a safe one.
I grabbed some Epcot brochures here for next month as well. Rich helped me with the uphill and then we went counterclockwise and stopped in France for me. We kind of made some jokes about public opinion lately of the “support” the US received from France with Operation Iraqi Freedom. We don’t hold grudges. French wine, here we come. We got two glasses and Rich held them while I pushed him towards a nice shaded bench in Morocco. As I pushed him into place, a guy at the bench next to ours said something about two fisted drinking. Well, at least Rich wasn’t driving! Another thing about the wheelchair. If I couldn’t park Rich next to a bench because of room limitations, he was in front of me all the time. So conversation between the two of us was very difficult at times. Plus, my ear was still blocked up. There were a lot of “huh”s and “what did you say”s. I think we both took lessons in patience today.
We sipped our drinks and people watched and enjoyed the day. We were in no hurry at all. Nice way to tour Disney World. We did talk about what would have happened if this was a commando trip. Life will happen and you take what cards you are dealt. We dealt with the wheelchair and if necessary, we’ll do it again next month. Actually, the chair might have speeded up our pace just a little. We’ll have a stroller next month with Marlie. Not sure we’ll need it but we’ve learned so much with the wheelchair. Marlie will be totally capable of walking (actually she’ll probably run rings around us) but we’ll need the stroller for when she gets tired. I did joke that we could have just used the stroller for Rich this trip. Now that would have been a sight to see.
After our respite (which included lots and lots of bird sightings for Rich), we continued on. Rich mentioned a beer in Germany and we were just “strolling” around World Showcase so that was the plan. I wanted to pay my respects to the American flag recovered at the World Trade Center at the American pavilion but the Cast Members were not letting anyone in there. I think the show was down. Too bad because I didn’t even want to see the show – just the flag. I couldn’t do this in February on our last trip. The Columbia tragedy happened while we were en route to Disney World and I got teary just thinking about the astronauts. I did go into the gift shop here and saw some extremely nice shirts but at $44 each, I don’t think so.
Over to Germany for Rich’s beer. Since I was the caregiver and had to drive, I was opting out of most of the beverages for the day. Rich on the other hand, was taking full advantage of the situation. I got us a nice bench along the lagoon in Norway. With this bench, there was enough room on one side for me to park the wheelchair so Rich and I were seated next to each other. I sat facing him and we relaxed. I took off my shoes and stretched out my feet as much as I could. With all the last minute stops and starts while pushing around a full grown male, I certainly was getting a work out. I think I spy some aspirin in my future back at the room.
All of a sudden, I am literally bounced on the bench. This woman just plopped down next to me and was jamming herself into my back. Really weird. I didn’t turn around to look at her and Rich kind of murmured that she was with someone in a wheelchair too. That’s fine but I’m small, I have one teeny tiny space on this bench, please let me enjoy it. When I didn’t move, she finally got her elbow out of the small of my back. When Rich and I were leaving, I saw that she was an older woman and maybe she thought I should just vacate my seat because I was younger. Heck no lady – I’m pushing my husband all around Disney World, I deserve a bench and a break as much as you do. That’s another consideration – just because you’re “young” doesn’t mean you can easily handle a wheelchair. If I did this on a daily basis, it would probably be different. But I don’t. And you never know the situation. In one day, you get a very good appreciation for all things involving a wheelchair, trust me.
Lindy and her friends were going to be on the Boardwalk for Randy to do his juggling stuff tonight. The shows started around 7:00 and it was after 6:00 by this time. So we pushed on and got over to Canada. Rich stayed down below the stairs and I went up into the shops. The purpose of going into the shops was to try for the Off Kilter CD. The shops are wheelchair accessible but it’s all uphill. No way! No CD which was surprising. Only the first one available. I did look at the handcrafted cats in the shop up here. We had gotten Rich’s sister one for Christmas and I foolishly didn’t get one for myself. I found one that I liked very much. Douglas. For $40. Drat. I thought I deserved it for all my pushing but refrained. Sigh.
Back down to Rich and out the International Gateway and over to the Boardwalk. Rich was still insisting I get something more to eat but I was still fine. The man worries about me eating way too much. Come to think of it, I should have said something about him not eating and adding weight to the wheelchair!
We saw Phil the card handler, doing his show so we went over there, expecting to see Lindy. Didn’t see her but I left Rich there and went a little further on to what I thought was another performer. Nope, just people lined up to get into Big River Grille (ESPN Club also had a line out the door). When I came back, Lindy was with Rich. After Phil was done, Lindy asked for his autograph and he chatted with us for a while. He asked Rich what had happened to cause him to be in the wheelchair. Phil is a favorite performer of ours and he might have remembered us from before (we just saw him in February) but maybe not. He definitely knows Lindy – I think most of the Boardwalk performers know Lindy!
Now I needed a beverage so Rich and I headed to the pizza window for a beer for him and a wine for me. But the line was not moving at all and we knew Randy would be performing soon so we bailed out of here and went to one of the kiosks and got plastic bottles. My wine was some horrible Amber Mist Chardonnay but it was cold and easy for me to cart around for the next couple of hours. And the price was only $5 which was very reasonable. I wasn’t too thrilled with the taste but it was fine for the evening.
We met up with Lindy and her friends again and were waiting when Randy came out for his show. He went to his normal spot in front of the Screendoor shop but Carlo was just finishing up so Randy decided to go back down towards the pizza window. He actually had a train of people following him with us and Lindy and her friends. And then more people joined the line. It was quite funny.
Randy had a very large crowd gathered and did a nice set. He started out by taking Rich’s plastic beer bottle (capped off) and balancing that on his forehead and juggling at the same time. A guy next to us said “that’s not that difficult, he should do it without the cap on”. Rich replied “he’s done it before with a full cup of beer”. In the true style of Disney entertainment, Randy does call this adult beverage apple juice.
Randy also did the shaker cups and asked if anyone had ever seen these done before. Of course, we had and so did Lindy and her friends. When we replied in the affirmative, Randy said “anyone who hasn’t been following me around all day?” Very funny. One thing about the Boardwalk entertainment – it’s great for kids. I can’t wait to bring Marlie here next month. Randy took time after the show to talk and play around with the kids. Excellent.
Rich and I went to the pin cart here so I could see if they had a Lilo pin. Marlie is Lilo to a tee. Honestly. She’s kind of like Lilo and Stitch rolled into one. They had a Lilo pin so I picked that up to give to Marlie next month. She has no idea she’s coming to Disney World. She knows she’s going on a trip to see us in Georgia (she lives in Ohio) and she knows we’ll be seeing Chris’ relatives. She just doesn’t know all this will be happening at Disney World. At the pin cart, I saw some patriotic pins so I picked up one with a Walt Disney quote. Rich saw a dangling Pooh one with Eeyore on it so we got that one too.
I went to pay for the pins and the Cast Member here mentioned that she hardly ever sells the Lilo pins since everyone wants Stitch. I explained that our soon to be granddaughter is just like Lilo. That kind of confused her – the soon to be granddaughter part. So we told her the abbreviated version of Chris meeting Chandra who is a single mother. Once the wedding takes place next year, Marlie is our granddaughter, as far as we are concerned. I mentioned that we’ll be bringing Chandra and Marlie here next month and Marlie doesn’t know she’s coming. The Cast Member was impressed with the surprise. I said that neither Chandra nor Marlie has ever been on a vacation and they haven’t ever seen the ocean, either. We’re going to stop first at Daytona Beach for that. It was funny because the Cast Member couldn’t believe someone has never seen the ocean. Things we take for granted. It was a nice conversation and something we look forward to at Disney World – interaction with so many different people.
We went back to in front of the Boardwalk to wait for Randy’s next show. I left Rich and ducked into the Boardwalk lobby to get guidemaps for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom for next month. I also picked up a nice brochure for the water parks. My dad, stepmother, and Rich’s parents want to try one of these out in May. That’ll be interesting since my in-laws have never experienced a Disney water park and we won’t be there with them. Thank goodness my dad and Betty know their way around here (sort of).
I had just gotten back to Rich and Randy came out for his show. He did a double take at seeing us and we followed him to in front of the Screendoor store. Lindy and her friends joined us there. They had gone to eat at the Big River Grille and actually left their meal to come back and see Randy. Not sure I’d give up a meal but I guess a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But the show was wonderful. Randy juggled fire which was a huge hit with the kids. We’ve seen Randy on just about every trip in the past year or so and he’s gotten so much better. It’s such a great, great show.
We walked up the Boardwalk with Lindy and she returned to her meal. Rich and I were both getting pretty tired so we said goodbye and Lindy would be moving over to our room for tomorrow night. She had extended her trip just to see Off Kilter with us tomorrow so giving her a bed was the least we could do. I pushed Rich back to the Swan. Up the bridge, and then down the bridge. Hey, pedestrians, look out! Thanks goodness those two kids were looking up. It wasn’t that bad but there were a lot of people heading towards Epcot since it was close to Illuminations time. And the lobby area of the Swan was jammed with business types. Boring! Back to the car and all the way across Disney property to the Comfort Inn.
Downtown Disney on a Saturday night. Traffic, red lights, I’m tired, Rich is hungry. We had agreed no matter what to remain friends so we didn’t say that much on the drive. Rich wanted delivery pizza from Flippers back in the room. They had a laminated flyer in the room so we figured it was a safe bet with the hotel and all. Rich wanted the triple pepperoni pie. I am not a huge meat eater but I figured I could handle a slice. I did tell him that he would have to order it, though. We got back to the room (another thumbs up from the security guard) and I went for ice and then announced that the shoes and socks were coming off and not going back on until tomorrow when we left for Epcot.
Rich called Flippers and placed the order. It was shortly after 9:00 and he was told it would take about an hour. That was fine – we needed to chill out for a while anyway. There was absolutely nothing on TV except Julie Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and Rich is not a fan of Ms. Roberts. But we had no other option. Not even baseball or hockey. ESPN had some college hockey stuff on that didn’t interest us. Yes, ESPN had coverage that was boring to us sports fans.
I worked on the report and watched the movie. Rich struggled to stay awake. We did have about four or five young boys in the pool and were “entertained” by one of them constantly yelling “Marco”. No one else yelled back “Polo”. But that didn’t stop the kid from keeping yelling “Marco”. We were so glad the pool closes at 10:00.
By 10:30 and no pizza, Rich was on the phone checking things out. He tried to stay positive but when the manager of the place came on the phone and said that we would have to go to the lobby to pick up the pizza, Rich almost exploded. He’s normally a very calm person but I thought he was going through the phone line and kick some butt. No one told us we had to go to the lobby to get the pizza. And how the heck were we supposed to know just when the delivery guy was going to be there? The manager did say we could take half off the price. I wanted to cancel the whole thing. Rich told the manager off and hung up the phone. I started putting on the shoes to go down and get a snack for Rich. And then the phone rang. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
It was the delivery guy. Insisting that we come down to the lobby. I have no idea just how long he was in the lobby expecting us to know that. Now, I wouldn’t have minded that at all but we were never told about it. The guy said that he was lucky to even get through the security guard and that they were one of the few pizza places that the Comfort Inn lets come onto the grounds. I like the security but this sounded fishy to me. Rich told the guy that he couldn’t get to the lobby – he was in a wheelchair. OK – that was a stretch but it was the principle of the whole episode. All of a sudden, the delivery guy overcame the security issue (he was already on the grounds) and was at our door. And quoted us full price for the pizza which was old and very sorry looking. Rich just gave the guy a $10 bill and shut the door. It was close to 11:00 by this time.
The pizza was edible but that was about it. I spent the next half hour listening to Rich rant and rave about Flippers pizza. I grabbed their flyer that was in the room and promised I would write to the company about our experience and the behavior of the delivery guy and the manager. Definitely not a magical moment. And Rich said that I needed to put this into the trip report so there it is. Flippers now joins Daryll’s on Highway 192 as places we’ll never go back to. Oh – we don’t have to worry about Daryll’s. Lindy reported that it closed. Wonder if it had to do with horrible customer service?
After the Rich fireworks in the room, he crashed and I stayed up to watch “Saturday Night Live”. It was interesting with the war “ending” in Iraq. It’s not officially over but we can hope the worst is done. Lights out for me after briefly waking up Rich by taking off his glasses. Hey, I was the one pushing you all over the place today and you’re the one snoozing soundly.
Day Four – Sunday, April 13, 2003 – “United Kingdom is Coming Up, What Country is That?”
Our last full day on this very short trip. And we would see it out with friends and Off Kilter. Lindy’s friends were leaving today so she was homeless. Since she had decided to extend her stay by a day just to watch Off Kilter with us, I offered up our room to her. She arrived around 9:30. Rich and I were already up. It was a restless night as some people that had imbibed quite a bit decided to stand outside our room in the wee hours of the morning and relive their fabulous night. Both Rich and I said that we wanted to go out there and tell them to shut up. But that could have led into a more difficult situation. So we waited them out and finally went back to sleep. And those kids just couldn’t wait for 9:00 to get into the pool.
Other notes about having this great pool view (she says sarcastically). A lot of people think they look good in swimming suits. Trust me, most humans don’t. So the “view” isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be. Someone said it best “Sometimes Speedo should be Spee-don’t”. The other thing that Lindy pointed out when she arrived is that the pool area is a smoking section. And it’s right outside our front door. This is a non-smoking room. So she got a face full of smoke when she got there. We had also noticed that the rooms on the other side of us are smoking. Our bathroom vent must connect with the other room because it reeked of smoke yesterday before we went out.
Somehow, even though the Flippers delivery guy had such a huge major problem with the Comfort Inn security, Lindy found her way to our room without too much interaction. She did have to give our room number to the gate guard but then she was able to come over with no problems. Hum, wonder why that delivery guy was so challenged? I guess we’ll find out when I send my letter to the Flippers company. OK – enough about that.
Lindy had to return her rental car and asked if we would be able to take her to the airport tomorrow morning or if she should call Mears. I asked what time would she need to leave. Her flight (she was still on stand by with all this) was at 8:50 which meant she would need to be at the airport at least by 7:00 if not earlier. So we would have to leave here around 6:00 or 6:30 and all three of us would have to get up, showered and dressed. Me, being the very good friend, told Lindy to call Mears. Lindy left to take care of her car and said she’d see us either at the first Off Kilter show, our lunch seating at Le Cellier after that, or the second Off Kilter show. If she couldn’t make it for any of those options, she’d call on my cell phone.
Rich and I chilled in the room for a while and took off for Epcot around 11:30. Rich’s ankle was much better and he wheeled the chair out to the car. He said something stupid like being able to walk around today and I nixed that idea right away. We tend to spend all day Sunday at World Showcase and today would be no exception. It’s a long way around Showcase Lagoon and there are no shortcuts if you get tired. The wheelchair was going to be used today, darn it.
I parked us at the Swan. Yes, my streak of getting every single red light on the Downtown Disney route continued. I just gave up even hoping to see a string of green lights. After Rich was loaded into the chair and I started pushing him towards the Boardwalk, I realized that just one day of pushing was a killer. It wasn’t that difficult to do – the chair glided easily – but if you are not used to it, it worked on different muscles than a normal day. Like the calf muscles and the shoulder joints. It wasn’t hurting or anything but I sure knew I had those body parts today. Rich did a lot more helping with the hills.
Once we got to the International Gateway, I made the purchase of the trip. I wanted to get Chris, Chandra, and Marlie their passes for next month. It wouldn’t save time or money but it gave me peace of mind. Now they *have* to go along with us! I got two adult and one child five day hopper passes. I didn’t get the Plus feature (water parks, Pleasure Island and Disney Quest added on) because there’s no way we’re going to have enough time for those things. I parked Rich off to the side so he couldn’t hear how much this was costing. The kids will pay us back after the federal government graciously refunds some income tax to Chandra. Well, at least the Disney credit card will like us right now.
Then through the gates and I informed Rich that I deserved wine for being The Pusher. That sounds really bad, doesn’t it? But that was our first stop. We enjoyed a bench in France and did some people watching. Clopin was out and Rich didn’t think most kids even knew the character was in “Hunchback of Notre Dame”. He and his handler were lonely for a while. After our break, Rich thought we’d go back the other way to Canada but then remembered I still hadn’t seen the World Trade Center flag yet. I headed us towards America.
Fortunately, the pavilion was open today. Well, maybe not so fortunate for me. I wheeled Rich in after having to take the handicapped rope down myself. Most Disney turnstyle counters are not wide enough for wheelchairs. I think future refurbs should take this into account. But we went in and Rich wanted to be parked away from me. I’m sure he was glad he did that. The flag is so poignant and understated. But it’s powerful for me. The paintings on either side really stir up my emotions. I have always, always been patriotic so I guess words just can’t describe what I felt looking at the flag and knowing we’re coming out of a war. I didn’t even try and hide the tears here. I just let loose.
After kind of getting myself under control (sorry but I’m an emotional slob – I’ve even cried at an episode of “The Brady Bunch”), we continued on with our “walk” around World Showcase. We made it around to Canada and saw some of our friends waiting for the shows on the benches. They were surprised to see Rich in the wheelchair. We visited before the first Off Kilter show and Rich felt good enough to go get some “apple juice” at the Canada beer stand. Yeah, he definitely enjoyed not having to drive during this trip!
Off Kilter came out we were surprised to see the keyboardist, Tony, replaced by Jason, a fiddler. Tony is the regular Off Kilter member and Jason fills in when needed. He was needed today. Absolutely nothing was affected by the change. Different sound with a fiddle instead of a keyboard but still great shows. One of these days, I’ll be fortunate enough to see all six guys performing together. (BTW – Jason has his own group called Alberta Bound that fills in when Off Kilter has regularly scheduled vacations – check them out too).
We enjoyed Off Kilter and our friends for the first set and then headed for our Le Cellier seating (made just a few days before the trip – not a problem at all). Lindy wasn’t there yet so we thought we’d see her at the second set. I did have my cell phone on for this time but remembered to turn it off before Off Kilter started to play. We had the phones for communication but we won’t use them while a show is going on, during an attraction, or even waiting in a queue line.
Check in at Le Cellier was very easy and the restaurant was about three quarters of the way full. I thought it would be painless since it was after 2:00 by this time. The wheelchair was left at the entrance because Rich was feeling better and we didn’t want to have to deal with trying to get the chair through the seating area. We were told by the seater person that our server was Ryan. And then this guy showed up. Whoo hoo!!! Sorry but I had eye candy. His name tag said Jeff and Ryan explained that everyone needs a tag and he misplaced his but he’s really Ryan. I didn’t care. Ryan/Jeff is on the college program and is from Newfoundland. We chatted for quite a while about the weather and how different Florida is from Canada. I have to admit I probably kept the conversation going on longer than normal. Oops – sorry Rich but I’ve had to push you around for a couple of days, indulge me now.
Rich ordered a Moosehead draft and I got a glass of wine. I was undecided between the steak sandwich and a prime rib “French dip” sandwich. I assumed Rich would go with cow flesh and get the burger but he settled on the chicken sandwich. Never assume. I finalized on the prime rib dip. Everything was great and Ryan/Jeff was a great server. We settled the bill and left a nice tip. The whole lunch took well under an hour. Our friends back at Off Kilter were surprised we were back so quickly.
Right before the second set, Lindy arrived. She had stayed to watch American Vybe and one of her favorite performers. We joked that Lindy was ours for the night since she didn’t have a car or a place to stay. Lindy ran up to the fish & chips stand and got her lunch and ate it back at the Off Kilter area.
Everyone enjoyed the second Off Kilter set and then we had an hour and a half until the third one. Rich and I will usually just leisurely stroll around World Showcase but the wheelchair was actually making the trip go by faster. Especially with Lindy pushing. She does what Rich and I call the Lindy Power Walk. Very fast. We were back in Canada in about a half hour. I was tired and honestly wanted some time away from Rich.
So I set up my husband. He’s not a huge fan of Journey Into Your Imagination With Figment. He’s the most uncreative person I know. But Lindy is a fan. “Gee Lindy, why don’t you take Rich and go over and see Figment?” Met with enthusiasm by one person. Rich didn’t have a choice. He claimed he could walk but having both Lindy and I together today meant Rich was sitting in that chair as much as possible. Lindy and Rich went on their adventure and I stayed behind to visit with our Off Kilter friends. We regrouped for the third set and enjoyed as usual. It was during this set that Jamie (bagpiper) got the regulars. Of course, we were clapping and cheering the band. Jamie said something like it didn’t matter what he said, we would cheer it anyway. To prove it, he said “I had margarine instead of butter with my toast this morning”. Wild applause from us.
After Rich and Lindy returned from Figment, I heard the quote of the day. Actually, the quote of any Disney World trip. I know there are people who don’t know a lot about geography. And it’s one of my strong suits. But there are basics I’m hoping people should know. Especially adults. Don’t they teach this stuff in school anymore? A family was walking by the Off Kilter area. Which is in Canada. The mom had out the Epcot guide map and was seeing what the next country was going to be. It’s the United Kingdom. So the mom says “United Kingdom is coming up, what country is that?” Err, actually lady, it’s several countries. The dad smugly replies “It’s England”. I guess now I can understand why us Americans have a worldwide reputation. Sorry to all the UKers out there – some of us do know a little bit about your nation.
In between the sets, we made sure Jason knew that we appreciated his presence today. Not that we didn’t want to see Tony, but Jason makes a great substitute. Most people don’t realize that a fiddler is not part of Off Kilter and were not aware of the change. We were and made sure that Jason was appreciated. Great job again for Epcot and Disney World entertainment! Also during this intermission we were introduced to Steve who has a great website for the entertainment. I’m sure I embarrassed the heck out of myself by telling him just how much I loved his site. There’s something about sitting at home and being able to click on the mouse and see that your favorite group is performing. Just makes you remember all the good Disney World times.
The last set of our trip was coming up fast and Lindy and Rich visited with the group members. I’m much too introverted for this so I stayed in my seat. It was tough to realize that I’d have to live without a live performance for a whole month but I had to think that the next time I’d see Off Kilter, I’d be with Chandra and Marlie. This trip was different because of the wheelchair, next month will be different with first timers and our new almost granddaughter. Oh heck – she’s our granddaughter – we’re already spoiling her rotten!
This was Lindy’s last night as well and after Off Kilter finished for the night, she wanted to go for some more. We headed clockwise and they forced me to go on El Rio de Tempo (River of Time) at Mexico. I have been listening to www.live365.com and the Disney music on there and I cringe when this song comes on. I can take It’s a Small World but this one irritates me. But I made the sacrifice and in we went. We were directed through the wheelchair entrance. This was a total walk on anyway. We just got to get into the boat first. This ride sure could use some updated videos.
Lindy loves Maelstrom at Norway so she wheeled Rich over there. We did a quick maintenance break and then Lindy and I went for some treats. Lefse for her and a berry tart for me. Oh, and add that cherry cream cheese danish over there to go please? Well, I had to have something for breakfast tomorrow, right? We scarfed down the food with Rich getting just a bit of my crust. He’s not a fruit person anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I think he had one berry. I needed it more – I pushed him all weekend.
Maelstrom was good and we did the normal queue with Rich sitting in the chair. We did have this group of younger folks in front of us that I think wanted some of their friends to join them. The friends were well back in the line. Stand by time was about 20 minutes. Normally, I wouldn’t have cared but I looked at the available space on either side of the wheelchair. And remembered the straddled episode at Muppets of yesterday. I really don’t think I want overanxious barely twenty somethings running past this wheelchair. I said something to Rich and Lindy that I didn’t think anyone could possibly pass us in the queue and the group got the hint. It wasn’t mean or anything and they just simply didn’t understand the logistics of what they wanted to do. And I think the hundred people in between us and the other party would have been a little ticked off as well.
We survived the trolls and were seated for the movie when Lindy realized how late it was getting. We were angling for Illuminations so we bailed out early. I don’t like doing that but was relieved since I was a little concerned about getting somewhere so Rich was comfortable. We did not try for a handicapped viewing area. Rich’s ankle was much better and he could stand but just not until show time. We headed for Germany and got a good spot at a corner at our favorite overhang. There were people sitting along the lagoon fence. And here are my peeves of the report. Well, you knew one (or several) was coming, right? All these people had to do was just keep sitting on the ground. You see the show quite well from there and you’re much more comfortable. Why else would you be sitting there waiting for it? But I knew what would happen and it did. As soon as the final announcement went off, these people stood up. Warning – if you think you have a great spot for any parade or show because you’re standing behind people who are sitting, think again. They will stand up.
We did realize that and were fine. And had kids trying to force us out of our spots right after the show started. Even with Rich’s wheelchair parked right behind him. I half expected someone to climb onto the seat just to see a better view. I think people’s common sense goes away with Illuminations or any other Disney show or parade. The worst, though, was when this guy with a kid on his shoulders came up behind Lindy and was intently videotaping the whole thing. OK – you’re not holding onto your kid and that’s not my problem. But that cigarette coming out of your mouth is. This is a non smoking area. And it’s crowded. That was another complaint of Rich being in the chair. People walking along with cigarettes at waist level and not seeing him. I was the fartherest from the guy, Lindy was closer. I think the guy should be grateful for that. Lindy was nice and just informed the guy that this was a non smoking area. He apologized and put out the cigarette (on the ground which I cringed at – did he think it would miraculously disappear into a trashcan?). I really do think Disney World should put out signs at the entrances to all parks. About the smoking policy. Yes, they have it in their guide maps but there are a lot of people who don’t bother reading that stuff. It’s like the small print on a legal contract. And people who are used to smoking outside with no restrictions expect to do it here. I’m not a militant anti-smoker. People have their rights to do what they want. Just do it safely and where you should. Actually, I was more concerned with the guy trying to balance his son and videotape Illuminations more than anything else. Ranting mode now off (that didn’t last long, did it?).
But all that was settled quickly and the show was awesome as ever. The music here thrills me and I usually get a little emotional. Well, I got lots of emotion tonight. The war was at the beginning of the end. The message of Epcot is, to me, powerful. There is no other place that I feel so close to other countries than here. French wine? Sure. If that country didn’t support our efforts, that was their right. China? Their politics are different from ours. That’s their choice. We were standing in a pavilion supported by Germany who didn’t agree with us in Iraq. And then the globe opened up and the boundaries were gone. Just like they are at Epcot. Ah, let the guy smoke. Ah, let those people stand up right before the show. Who cares. Let the world continue on. For me, Illuminations has a way of knocking your priorities back in order.
And then that was it. It was a consolation that Rich and I will be back here next month with just about all our family. Lindy says it’ll be a year for her return. We’ll see about that! We made our way around to International Gateway with Lindy pushing Rich. We didn’t hurry. We enjoyed the music and the sounds. There is nothing more magical than World Showcase at night. Through the turn styles and out to the Boardwalk. OK – the Boardwalk and the Epcot resort area is just as magical at night. I think my tears had dried by this time.
We didn’t stop for any Boardwalk things because with the cutbacks, Disney World had decided that Sunday wasn’t a good night for entertainment. Well, it would have been tonight. There were lots and lots of people walking around here.
We loaded ourselves in the car and Lindy had requested we stop at Downtown Disney Marketplace for caramel apples to take back to Utah. They were at the Gourmet Pantry. Fine by me. I did offer up to try and get to Seven Seas Lagoon for Magic Kingdom fireworks but Rich vetoed me. I think all the attention was getting to him. Plus, we had the drive tomorrow. So off to the Marketplace.
Oy – this place was crowded! It was close to 10:00 PM and spaces were at a premium. Rich was fine with walking so I was on the lanes as far out as I could go. I saw a huge white van with his backup lights on. He was in between two other large vehicles and, from experience, I knew he really couldn’t see if anyone was coming from either side. So I waited for him to back up. It took him a while since his van was big. There were some vehicles behind me. I don’t know what these two drivers thought but we had two SUVs just shoot around me while the van was still backing up (trust me, I think you could have seen this thing in Tampa) and go around. Not a good situation. I did not stop there just to get a space. I stopped because the guy couldn’t see to back up. Of course, I did take the space but it’s not like it was right next to a shop or anything. It was in the last row! Oh well, more human nature. Aren’t we a strange breed?
We went to the Gourmet Pantry with Rich not knowing where we were going. It’s so funny because he’s been here before but turns off that Disney brain cell every once in a while. Only after we went into the shop did he remember it. Lindy picked up some candy and the apples while Rich and I drooled at the fudge but passed. I have to remember not to bring Marlie in here next month. I’d buy out the entire place! Lindy was a little hungry and thought about something to go from Wolfgang Puck’s Express. But they had closed up for the night. Back to the Gourmet Pantry for something without meat. Nothing was appealing so we headed back to the Comfort Inn. At least tonight I could do the drive in two separate legs. The traffic lights weren’t as annoying.
Back at the room, Rich and I had some great laughs watching Lindy attempting to pack. She had bought so much in the past week that it was going to be a struggle to be in compliance with the airline security. She was flying Delta and they have the three bag rule. One to check, two to carry. Or two to check and one to carry. Or three to check and none to carry. Have a purse? Sorry, that’s a carry on. Where do those caramel apples go? The drive from our house may be utterly boring but at least we can just shove things into the trunk and back seat and go.
Lindy’s “scheduled” flight (she was on stand by again) was 8:50 AM but there was another one earlier that she was going to try and make. She had set up Mears to pick her up at 5:30 but wanted them to be there at 5:00 if possible. As in AM. And it was midnight by now. She called Mears and had to wait over twenty minutes on hold for someone to talk to. Lindy is such a nice person – I would have been irate but she was polite and got the earlier time. Rich asked Lindy what time she wanted to get up. She thought 3:45 was a good time. As in AM. AAGH! Maybe I’m getting old but that would have killed me. And then Lindy tells us that she’s going into work once she gets to Utah! Yep, I’m definitely too old. We all hit the lights out and into bed.
Day Five – Monday, April 14, 2003 – On The Road Again
The alarm clock went off, I guess, on time. With my still clogged ear, it’s so easy to sleep on the left side and not hear anything on the right side. Rich was up with Lindy and I guess I just realized something was going on. We said goodbye and then Lindy was off into the night or morning or whatever. I asked Rich what time it was and he said 4:30 AM. Roll over, put the stuffed side of the head out and I’ll see you later. We had a great time with Lindy and she’s safe and back in Utah. Wish she could move closer (no, we will never move to a colder climate again).
Rich and I snoozed a lot more and he finally started moving. I again asked what time it was since I didn’t have a clock near me (which I hate – I need to know times, I’m that anal retentive). 9:30!! Check out is 11:00 and I honestly thought we’d be on the road by now. Oh well, life isn’t going anywhere. Up, showered, packed, and out the door. I checked us out, paid nothing since the credit card was charged last week. Rich returned the wheelchair to the Business Center which was quick and painless. Then we were on the way.
I insisted on driving. We took I4 to the Turnpike and then headed north. My muscles were sore, I was tired and those first four hours are horrible. Well, the last three aren’t that great either. We did a gas stop in Florida. Well, we pulled into a gas station, gagged at the really inflated prices, and continued on to a more “reasonable” place. Not the greatest and my car might not forgive me for using the middle grade stuff yet again. In fact, she didn’t when I had to punch the accelerator later on in the day and got hiccups for a while. And we had an incident. I got out, swiped the credit card, and started pumping. Rich’s ankle was almost back to normal so he got out to use the facilities and load up on Diet Coke. He, of course being the male, had to make sure I was fine. He saw it, I didn’t, I have to admit. The lower grade nozzle of gas was leaking. While I was pumping from the next nozzle. Highly dangerous. Rich went inside to report that and the attendant came out. The pump was never properly shut off by the previous person who used it. Yikes! Just last week I did my normal Southern shy girl (sarcasm interjected here) and told a nice gentleman (more sarcasm) to turn off his gosh darn diesel truck while he was fueling right next to me (said man was talking on a cell phone while his engine was drowning out any NASCAR event in the US). More human stupidity. But we paid through the nose for Florida gas and continued on.
We made another stop at a rest area because I was so lagging by now. Rich said he was fine and truthfully, he was 95% back to “normal”. As normal as he can be. So I graciously allowed him to drive. We were poised to hit Atlanta right at rush hour so we decided to take an early dinner or late lunch and stop for about an hour. There’s not that many non fast food places between Macon and Atlanta on I75. There was a Fuddrucker’s but I had enough cow flesh for a while. We were almost at I675 and saw a sign for Chili’s. I wasn’t that hungry but wanted a break (and I was the passenger this time) and then just head us home, please. We stopped. I got a turkey sandwich and Rich killed a cow and had a big hamburger. A quick stop at the Super Target next door (OK – it was for a scouting mission for Rich’s new sports card shop – can we deduct mileage for this?) and then we were on the way home to the cats.
A little bit of traffic even though it was close to 7:00 PM. Rich is so patient. Back home with no punishment from Todd or Gus! Whoo hoo! They are getting used to us leaving them and Donna (the cat sitter – not our friend from Boston) taking care of them. Belle was hiding but came out to be at least seen but not petted. We unloaded the car and took the rest of the night to go through emails (mostly spam). By 11:00, I was in bed. Another trip down but Disney Dreams for next month with the entire family.
And In Conclusion – Final Thoughts on Everything
The wheelchair – definitely needed. And we both learned so many things. Rich learned that sometimes male pride has to take a back seat to practicality. He tried that first day to hobble around and it was a big mistake. At different times, my brother-in-law and my father both should have used a wheelchair for getting around Disney World. Neither one wanted to be a “bother” because they both look physically fit and could walk but just not all the time. Until you’ve experienced this yourself, never think someone is “milking” using a wheelchair.
The chair didn’t get us any special treatment except at Star Tours and we would have done the regular queue there. I’m not sure what would have happened at Twilight Zone because we used Fast Pass and Rich was fine since we got in right away with that. We didn’t bother trying to find the handicapped seating area for Illuminations since Rich was able to stand. All the Cast Members were great with dealing with the chair, although Rich was mobile enough.
The problems with using the wheelchair have been mentioned but the cigarettes being at Rich’s eye level was probably the worst. Plus, people just not seeing the chair, which is strange since it’s kind of big. Just not at a height level for a normal person. Also, it’s very difficult to stop these things on a dime. So people darting in front were a problem all weekend long. Along with people just stopping. The footrests were at the other people’s ankle level. We were fortunate and managed to avoid contact but my shoulders really paid the price. And please, never straddle over a wheelchair just to try and get a better seat.
I did find the seating areas at the fast food places to be almost too narrow for the wheelchair. I never noticed that before. Most people will take the first table they come to. Usually on an aisle. In the future, I will weave our way into a middle table and leave the outside ones available for wheelchairs, if needed. That was a real eye opener for me.
I give very high marks to Care Medical. The chair was there waiting for us upon arrival and we just dropped it back at the lobby when we were done. The chair itself was in good condition. For $35, this saved the trip quite nicely.
Comfort Inn at Lake Buena Vista – nice enough place. The positives were nice, clean rooms. Two pools, enough choices for food right there (no free breakfast if that’s important), good security, well kept grounds, free Disney shuttle, ability to purchase Disney admission in the lobby, decent front desk staff.
I did ask for and got a first floor room. However, it was a pool view which was very noisy for us. And the pool was always busy. Lots of people would have preferred something like this but not us for this trip. Since the first floor location was a huge priority, I didn’t ask for anything different. Also, having the room being in the middle of the building meant for a long way from the parking lot. Now that I have experience, I would recommend that if you do have any mobility issues and need a first floor room, also ask for close to the parking lot. Non smoking was a must for us and all the room facing the parking lot were smoking. But it would have been better for us to be on the end of the building.
For me, the location at Lake Buena Vista was less than desirable. I’ve stayed many times on Highway 192. That’s where Lindy’s condo this trip was. She agreed with me that location is much better for what we do at Disney World. Having to drive past Downtown Disney and the Crossroads area twice a day (at least) was not my idea of fun. It’s a much easier commute from Highway 192 for us. This rate was good and since we’ve never stayed here, I gave it a shot. If we spent more time on that side of Disney World, it would have been fine. But we spent most of the time at Epcot which made for a long trip. If I could take the Comfort Inn and move it to Highway 192, I’d be back there.
Food – only one really sit down meal. We like Le Cellier and having it there in Canada and being able to get a late lunch in between Off Kilter shows was great. Having Ryan/Jeff as our server was also nice (for me, not sure Rich really cared). The rest of our meals were fast food. The Flippers pizza experience was horrible and we will never, ever patronize this business again. It’s too bad because Rich loves pizza and Flippers is a very large delivery chain in the Kissimmee area. But they won’t see anymore Niklewski money. That $10 was $10 too much.
A word of warning about Disney World hot dogs. They are huge and for us, it’s very easy to share one (providing Rich doesn’t smear ketchup all over it). I read on another trip report that a family ordered two kids hot dogs, thinking they were going to be small ones. Nope, regular size adult ones – not foot longs but their kids could have easily shared even the small one. Also, the soft pretzels are huge and we share one of those too.
Adventurer’s Club – our first experience. Thank you Donna and Richard for the introduction. And for getting us into Pleasure Island for free! Rich and I are not night club people so I don’t think we’d normally pay extra for Pleasure Island. But if it’s included in your passes, the Adventurer’s Club with friends is very nice. Each “show” is different so I understand now how Donna and Richard can spend all night there. We enjoyed the shows we saw but were lagging so we headed out around 11:00 or so after spending a couple of hours there. Rich enjoyed his Kungaloosh and the yakoose mug is a nice souvenir. However, I think it has scared the cats!
There has been much, much debate on taking kids to Pleasure Island shows. At the Adventurers Club, there was a family there with preteen daughters. The performers noticed and while I don’t think they changed too much of the skits, comments were made about the girls coming all the way to Disney World and their parents taking them to a bar. After experiencing the Adventurers Club myself, my opinion has changed on the debate. I didn’t think the girls should have been there. Not that the show is dirty or anything but it’s just set up to be a more adult environment. Kind of like PG-13 but with alcohol freely available. Make your own judgments.
Entertainment – the highlight of the trip. Disney World is definitely getting an email about the high level of quality entertainment we get to see each trip. Of course, I’ve gushed about Off Kilter for years now so I’ll refrain from too much. Having Jason filling in for Tony didn’t even affect their performances. We made sure Jason knew that. And the rest of the band too. They visit with their fans after shows. Extremely nice personal touch.
Illuminations blew me away again, especially with what’s been happening in the world lately. To be at Epcot with total strangers but feel like your are surrounded by friends, that’s the message I get every time. To hear the oohs and aahs at the finale. To see people’s faces with huge smiles on them at the end of a long Disney World day. To watch as kids somehow stop being cranky and skip on the way out.
The Boardwalk entertainment was great on Saturday night. Phil the card handler was wonderful. Lindy said she’s seen his routines many, many times and still can’t figure out how he does things. Kids are really funny here. They think they know what he’s doing but then Phil will fool them and their mouths hang open. And our favorite juggler, Randy, was a huge highlight. The two shows we saw were just about flawless. His sense of humor is wonderful and he keeps the crowd very entertained and the kids love him. Both Phil and Randy have very G rated shows so don’t hesitate to stop with the younger ones.
But the biggest treat of the trip was the Willie Bob and Billie Bob show at MGM. Randy again joined by Matt. This is not juggling but a skit based on the characters. “Spinna, spinna hat” was quoted by us all throughout the trip. If you happen to catch their act, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Streetmosphere at MGM is not listed on the entertainment schedule although the guys were on for four shows every hour starting at 12:30. We had the Lindy Intel but I’m sure you could ask at Guest Relations for the times.
Meeting Our Friends – the sole purpose of the trip. And a great reason to go. Thank you Donna and Richard for the Adventurer’s Club. I wish we could have spent more time with them (and so does Rich) but the time we did have was great. We attempted to see them on the Boardwalk Saturday night but never did hook up. Maybe they were back at Pleasure Island! I think their next trip is in November with friends to go to Universal (yeck!). We might try and be there at the same time for the Food & Wine Festival. Any excuse, right?
We had a blast running around with Lindy. And thanks for taking over pushing duties on Sunday! Lindy has introduced us to lots of different entertainment and it’s great sharing those performances with her. She was an Off Kilter fan way before we met her and I developed my addiction separate from her. But we enjoy the guys together when we can. Lindy did score that third Off Kilter CD and has told me that it’s fabulous. I came home and immediately ordered it off the website (about five minutes after walking through the door and having Rich say “order that CD”).
So that’s it. We had some low lights on the trip but they are easily forgotten. We mostly had highlights and those will live on in our minds. It could have been disastrous with the wheelchair but we made the best of the situation, learned a lot along the way, and had a great time. So don’t let a mobility issue stop you from going to Disney World.
BTW – the official diagnosis is in – acute gout. Highly treatable and we’re going to see what the exact cause is. Could be a couple of things. But other than visiting our local pharmacy every now and again, Rich should be fine. At least he has a fantastic wife to support him! (OK, pick yourself up off the floor from laughing so hard).
The next trip is just about a month away. Lots of planning involved with that one. I still don’t know the final participants but at least my little family will be together. Feel free to email me with Trip Report in the subject line. Have a great Disney day!