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Krista Fulkerson -- May 2004 -- Walt Disney World (Offsite, VWL, PR)


Characters

  • Stephenó27, Disney Veteran, 8 trips
  • Kristaó25, Trip Reporter, Disney Veteran, 9 trips

How this trip came about: There is really no big, elaborate story as to how this trip was planned. Stephen and I love Walt Disney World and we vacation there as much as possible (I like to tell people that out of my 15 vacation days for 2003, I spent 14 of them in Walt Disney World ). We have been married 3 ½ years and this is our 6th trip together. We know as we get closer to starting a family, the Disney vacations may not come as much (we might only get to go once a year instead of threeógasp!! ), so weíre trying to squeeze as many trips as possible in.

After getting home from Disney World in December (a trip we took with my parents and sister) and moving into our new house (we closed on Dec. 29), we were a little preoccupied and thought we would probably make our next trip in October, around our anniversary. We already had a December trip planned with my family, but once a year at Disney World is no longer good enough for us. After doing some serious thinking and soul searching, we both knew waiting for October was too long. We both thought the beginning of May sounded good, everyone who vacations in Florida in May sings the praises of the weatherósunny and warm (but not hot), little rain and low crowds. Sounds perfect! We picked May 1-8 first, but we were unable to get resort accommodations, so we changed our dates to May 8-16.

Resort Accommodations: We decided for the first night that we would just stay at Downtown Disney. We made reservations at the Hotel Royal Plaza for a queen room, since we were renting a car, staying ďoff-siteĒ for one night would not be a problem. We were able to get the room for a rate of $69.00óalmost the same as an AP rate for the All-Stars or Pop Century. We rented points through a DVC member for a studio at the Villas of the Wilderness Lodge for Sunday, May 9-Friday, May 14. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge twice before and loved both of our stays. We were hoping to stay at either the Boardwalk Villas (our favorite) or the Beach Club Villas, but both resorts were booked for a studio. Since we didnít want to leave for vacation much later than the second week in May, we decided to go with the Villas of the Wilderness Lodge. We made reservations at the Polynesian for Friday and Saturday night, with an AP rate and reserving a garden view room. Whew! Thatís a lot of moving around! I hope we donít forget what resort we are staying at!!

Passes: Stephen and I both purchased annual passes once we got to Walt Disney World. Last year we bought our APís from www.disneyworld.com and we were mailed the vouchers. We were both scared that we would lose the vouchers before they were converted to actual passes. Since we wouldnít need the passes until we actually entered the park (we booked the Poly with an AP rate, but we werenít checking in until Friday morning), we decided to buy them when we got to Disney World. I think APís are around $380-$400óStephen is the money person in our family, I just spend it and he keeps track of it.

Method of Transportation: We found a direct flight from Indianapolis to Orlando leaving Saturday morning for $150, flying ATA. We flew ATA for the first time in December and we had excellent service. We live in Cincinnati, but the airfare is so ridiculous flying out of the Greater Cincinnati International Airport, that we usually fly out of either Indy or Dayton. Our house is actually situated between Cincinnati and Dayton, weíre about 30 miles from each city, but itís very hard to get a direct flight out of Dayton to anywhere. We usually fly out of Indy, itís about a 2 hour drive and we usually end up going there the night before, so it makes the vacation start that much sooner.

We rented a car through Dollar; we rented a compact car for I think around $200 including all taxes and extra charges for the week. About a month after making the reservation, we got a certificate in the mail for a free upgrade. Iím not sure if we got the certificate from this rental or because Stephen rents through Dollar when he travels for work, either way the certificate had great timing.

General Plans:

Saturday 5/8óFly out of Indianapolis 11:00 (CST), arrive in Orlando 2:30 (EST). Pick up rental car, check into Hotel Royal Plaza, PS at Cape May Café Clam Bake at 6:00, Epcot after dinner
Sunday 5/9óCheck out of Hotel Royal Plaza, check into Villas of the Wilderness Lodge, PS San Angel Inn 1:00, Epcot Evening Extra Magic Hours
Monday 5/10óPS Whispering Canyon Café 8:00 or 10:00, Magic Kingdom, PS Cinderella Royal Table 4:00
Tuesday 5/11óMGM Studios, PS Mama Melrose/Fantasmic Dinner package 4:30, MGM Evening Extra Magic Hours
Wednesday 5/12óAnimal Kingdom, PS Boma 5:30
Thursday 5/13óEpcot, PS Le Cellier 6:30
Friday 5/14óCheck out VWL, Check into Polynesian, PS ĎOhana 7:00, watch Wishes from the Poly beach
Saturday 5/15óEpcot in morning/afternoon, PS Alfredoís 2:00, Magic Kingdom for evening & Wishes
Sunday 5/16óPS at Kona Café 9:30, check out of Poly, drive to airport, fly to Indy, drive home.

Day 0óFriday May 7
Why is it the week before a vacation is always so hectic? In our case it was the weeks before the vacation. Stephen was extremely busy at work; in fact he was out of town the 2 or 3 weeks before we left. Once he was in the office, he was still working like crazy, so even though he was home, I didnít see him much. I joked around with him and said the only we get to see each other is to go on vacation!

We were planning on leaving for Indy after work on Friday; I think we finally got on the road about 7:30. First we went tanning (canít hit Florida with white legs), we both stopped on the way home from work. Once we went tanning, we drove home, got there around 6:30. We finished packing our suitcases and loaded them into Stephenís truck. We were dropping my car off at the dealership on the way, I drive a 2003 Saturn Ion, you know what they say about buying a car the first year itís out; they havenít had time to work all the kinks out. My car was acting funny going from 2nd to 3rd gear, when we called Saturn; they knew exactly what we were talking about. Once we were loaded up and I cleaned everything out of my car, we backed out of the drive way and finally left the house, Stephen was in the lead. We got about 4 miles down the road and we were getting ready to get on the highway when Stephen starts motioning to me to not get on the highway and follow him. We pulled off at a shopping plaza, Stephen asked if I had grabbed his shaving bag with all his toiletries, I hadnít and he hadnít, so we had to turn around and go back. We drove all the way back to our neighborhood, pulled back in the driveway and Stephen ran back in to get his shaving bag. We backed out of the driveway again and back down towards the highway. When we finally pulled into the Saturn dealership, it was like a wave of reliefówe were finally on vacation. I parked the car in the service section, we dropped the keys off in the overnight bin and off we went to Indianapolis.

The drive to Indy was uneventful, we stopped about an hour east of Indy to eat at McDonalds, we pulled into the Holiday Inn by the airport at about 10:00 (our time, 9:00 Indy time). We checked into our room and pretty much got ready for bed, Stephen fell asleep within minutes, but I wasnít so lucky. I ironed my clothes for tomorrow, took a shower (I use a hair straightener, I donít like using it in the morning and then putting it in the suitcase when itís still hot), painted my nails, and found some repeats of ďFriendsĒ to watch (I was still in mourning because last night was the last ďFriendsĒ episode). I finally went to sleep around 1:00 am.

Day 1óSaturday 5/8
The Plan: Saturday 5/8óFly out of Indianapolis 11:00 (CST), arrive in Orlando 2:30 (EST). Pick up rental car, check into Hotel Royal Plaza, PS at Cape May Café Clam Bake at 6:00, Epcot after dinner

Reality: We got up at 8:00 (Indy time, 9:00 for us), Stephen jumped in the shower, and I laid in bed a few minutes longer since I had already taken a shower the night before. I got up probably 20 minutes later, we both got dressed, packed up what we had gotten out and left the hotel a few minutes before 9:00. The airport was a short drive away and we made it in probably 10 minutes. We parked the car (I guess I should be saying truck), walked to the shuttle stop, lucked out as a shuttle was pulling up at the same time. Check in at ATA was a breeze; I donít think there was anyone in line with us. We walked down to security, saw there was no line, so we turned around and had breakfast at Fridayís. We both had some type of egg breakfast (thatís all they serve at the Indianapolis Airport Fridayís for breakfast), and we made it through security in a matter of minutes. The flight was pretty uneventful and not very exciting, but Iím not complaining! We landed in Orlando right on schedule.

What is it about the Orlando International Airport? Just going to the airport is like being on vacation and the tram to baggage claim is like our first ride of the trip. We waited at baggage claim for a few minutes, probably 10-15; MCO is always so sloooow about getting luggage off the plane and inside. At least our suitcases werenít the last ones to come out; we were about in the middle. Stephen grabbed all 3 bags (the 2 suitcases and I was in charge of the carry-on) and we turned to go down the escalator to the Dollar Rental counter. There was no line at the counter; Stephen was able to walk right up. I took the 3 suitcases and sat on a bench to wait for Stephen, while I was waiting, I passed the time people watching (one of my favorite activities), you could definitely tell the families that were just starting their vacation and those who were headed home. Iím so glad that we were just beginning our vacation! It took Stephen probably about 10 minutes at the counter (I have no idea how long it really took, when Iím on vacation, I donít wear a watch), once he walked back over to me, we took the papers out to outside kiosk to pick up our keys. We walked outside (ahh, warmth ), and grabbed the car keys. What car were we lucky enough to get? A Ford Taurus. How exciting!! At least it was a brand new car, there was still plastic hanging off the seats and it had that new car smell, in my opinion one of the best smells ever! Before we knew it we were on our way to Disney World!! We stopped at Eckerds to get some cases of water and breakfast items and before we knew it we were pulling onto Disney property.

I canít tell you how hard it was to be on property and having to turn the car towards Downtown Disney! At least it was only for one night. Stephen drove us around until we got going in the right direction, we passed a Disney bus and I just started clapping and whopping. The cars next to us probably thought I was crazy, but I donít care, Iím finally in Walt Disney World!!! We finally pulled up to Hotel Royal Plaza, very nice hotel. We walked into the lobby (after parking the car) and we were very impressed. The hotel has a Florida Keys feel to it; everything was in pastels and low key. Since it was late in the day, our room was ready. Stephen originally booked a room with 2 queens, but when we were checking in, he asked if any king sized beds were available. We were upgraded for no charge, gotta love when that happens! All I could say about the room was wow! It was a beautiful room, and huge! The bathroom itself was larger than a room at the All-Stars. Now I know why so many people book off-site, the rooms are cheaper and larger. However, this will never change my mind about staying off-site for more than a night, as beautiful and as luxurious as these hotels are, they are lacking the Disney Magic, and to me thatís a huge part of the vacation.

Anyway, the bathroom was so nice, a Jacuzzi tub and a separate stand up shower, a phone by the toilet (which I got a kick out of) and mirrors everywhere. The room itself was just as nice, the room was large, bigger than the rooms at the Polynesian with a sitting area with a couch and televisionóit wasnít a suite, everything was in one room, but because the room was so big, it wasnít smashed together. Our view was nice too; we were overlooking the swimming pool. Itís a shame we are only staying here for one night, the room was very nice. As nice as the room was, we were finally in Walt Disney World and we were ready to get the party started! We changed into shorts (when we left Indianapolis that morning, it was in the 50ís, I was wearing capris and Stephen was wearing cargo pants) and made a plan to go to Downtown Disney to get our annual passes. We had a PS at Cape May Café Clam Bake at 6:00, so the plan was to drive to DTD, get our passes, look around for a few minutes, take a bus to the Beach Club, eat dinner, and then go into Epcot for the evening. Sounds like a perfect plan!

We drove over about 500 feet to Downtown Disney, parked the car at the Marketplace (should have parked at Pleasure Island, but live and learn) and walked into Downtown Disney. AhhhÖ.home. I love DTD just as much as one of the parks, to me it has the same amount of theming and pixie dust, itís a great fix for a day when you donít want to waste a day on your admission ticket. The first thing we did was to walk over to Guest Services to buy our annual passes, there was a short line in there, but the CMís working in there quickly processed every one through. We did see our first bit of Disney magic here, the family in front of us were buying annual passes as well, when the little girlís AP printed, the Mom showed her the pass and then tried to take it back. The little girl was not happy about having to give back the pass, they tried to give her the booklet the pass came in, that wasnít working either. The CM saw all of this happening, so she went and got a blank AP and gave it to the little girl to play with as well as a bunch of Mickey Mouse stickers. Needless to say the little girl was happy and the parents were thankful. I love Disney magic. Stephen and I bought our APís and were on our way to the World of Disney store.

We were both starving, but didnít want to ruin our appetite for our PS at Cape May Café Clam Bake, so we decided to split a churro with caramel sauce. Yum! We sat on the bench next to the churro stand looking out across the lake and at Saratoga Springs. We stayed for a few minutes after finishing our snack, enjoying the sunshine, the atmosphere and just being on vacation. We both decided that break time was over and that we needed to get up and get going. We headed to the World of Disney and split up once we got there, I was looking at Italian charms (not that great of a selection) and Stephen was looking at polos. We found each other and continued looking in the store, we werenít planning to buy yet, just window shopping. Our PS wasnít until 6:00, but we decided to start making our way over to the Beach Club at about 5:00, we walked over to the bus stop to catch our ride. Since the Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, Dolphin, and Board Walk all share a bus (which is completely ridiculous in my opinion), we decided to get off at the Swan and walk around the Board Walk area, pass International Gateway and come back down to the Beach Club. It was a very nice walk, perfect to get us in the Disney mood (like we needed any extra help) and anxious to get to Epcot. The walk also made us a little sad that we werenít staying at the Board Walk. The Board Walk is our favorite resort location wise and tied for first over all (it shares the spot with the Polynesian), we were really hoping to stay here this vacation, but all the studios were booked. ? We were going to console ourselves with spending an evening here one night this week, but it still wouldnít be enough. Oh well, maybe next time.

We finally got to the Beach Club, we were a little early, so we spent some time looking around at the lobby. The only time we had been in the BC before was in December and it was decorated for Christmas. It was a little different to see it without a ginger bread house and a Christmas tree. We checked in about 15 minutes early, and it was a good thing, about 5 minutes later there was a line of maybe 15 people waiting to check-in. We sat on a bench outside of Cape Mayís and waited about 10 minutes for our pager to go off. While we were waiting, we were entertained by a group of kids, I think there were 4 of them ages maybe 5-8, the things they were saying were cracking me up. They were so cute. I could have stayed an listened to them talk for longer, but my stomach was growling! So whatís the first thing we see when we walked into Cape May Café? Why, the desserts of course! They looked absolutely delicious, I wanted to skip my dinner and start on desserts! The hostess brought us to our table, taking us past the buffet on the way, our waitress came over within seconds to take our drink order and off we were to the clam bake. I personally was not overly impressed with Cape Mayís however I do not eat seafood. I thought the food was okay, I mostly ate bbq ribs, mashed potatoes (which were very good, by the way) and macaroni and cheese off the kids buffet. Stephen loved the meal, he went up to the buffet more than once coming back with his plate heaping with shrimp and mussels. My advice for the Clam Bake, only eat here if everyone in the party eats seafood. The dessert on the other hand was out of this world. I created a sampler platter for myself (the oreo bon-bons, carrot cake, cheese cake, I think a sugar cookie, and salt water taffy) and ate every bit of itóshamelessly. I even stopped on the way out the door to grab more salt water taffy. We were both completely stuffed and ready to go to Epcot.

AhhÖthe World Showcase, my absolute favorite part in Walt Disney World. And since WDW is my favorite place and the World Showcase is my favorite place in Disney, I guess World Showcase is my favorite place to go in the entire world! Too bad we didnít stay there too long! The first thing we did when we got in the gates was head for Future World to see what the lines at Test Track and Mission: Space looked like. Test Track had like an hour wait and no fastpasses, and we didnít feel like Mission: Space after such a big meal. We werenít sure what we wanted to do, we were both keyed up and wanted to ride some rides. Stephen suggested heading over to the Magic Kingdom. Good thinking! Weíd be back at Epcot tomorrow (and for several more days over the next week), so off we were to find Mickey Mouse! We walked to the front of the park and got on the monorail. In just a matter of minutes we were pulling up to the front gates, Stephen and I were still pinching ourselves, not believing that we were walking down Main Street and looking at Cinderella Castle. Iím not sure what we did first (I need to start taking notes on our trips), but I know we headed to Adventureland and eventually Frontierland. Iím sure we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean, we always ride either that or Space Mountain first. Regardless, we rode something and made our way over to Frontierland to see what Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road or Splash Mountain was like. The line for Splash Mountain was long and fastpass was available, however it was times during SpectroMagic and Wishes. Sorry, not missing either one of those, I donít care if Splash Mountain is my favorite ride. As we turned to walk away to head to Big Thunder Mountain we hear an ďexcuse me, how many people are in your party? I have 2 fastpasses for Splash Mountain for now that I canít use.Ē Oh thank you! See, itís not just the CMís (cast members) that provide the magic; itís the guests too.

Splash Mountain was awesome, like always. Iím so happy that we got to ride this on our first day, for the rest of our vacation Splash Mountain was in soft rehab. The ride was closed from park opening to noon, it was open in the afternoons, but there was no water running. It was funny to see the logs zipping down to the briar patch without any water. After Splash Mountain, Stephen and I headed over to Big Thunder to see what the line looked like. Because it was so late in the evening, the fastpasses were gone, but the line didnít look too bad. Wow, looks can be deceiving. We waited at least half an hour for BTMRR, we have never waited that long before. The line was actually in both rooms of the que, thatís a first for us. But it was worth the wait, what a fun ride in the wilderness. We went flying over the hills (getting some serious airtime) and since it was dark, it was hard to see where the track was in front of us. Awesome! As we were working toward the walkway that leads to Frontierland and to Adventureland we could hear the opening notes of SpectroMagic Light Parade. Since we were going to see it next Saturday, we werenít too concerned with having a great viewing spot. We ended up standing up on the curb behind 2 lines of people, in all honesty we could see pretty good from our spot, but I think Iíll still camp out for an hour before hand. I love the parade and having a good spot where I can sit and see it unobstructed is important to me.

After SpectroMagic, we walked with the hordes of people to the hub to get ready for Wishes. We found a great spot in front of the castle and waited for Wishes to start. We have been waiting 5 ½ months for this. I was surprised to find a young couple standing next to us, both singing along to the song. I thought Stephen and I were the only young couple who didnít have kids and still loved to go to Walt Disney World. Wishes was of course fantastic, and we got to see Tinker Bell fly, I was ecstatic about that. When we here in December, it was too cold and we never got to see Tink. I almost called my Mom during Wishes and held my phone up so she could hear, but I thought that might be mean. Once Wishes was over, Stephen and I slowly made our way to the front of the park. We decided to take a monorail to the Contemporary and then from the Contemporary we were going to take a bus to Downtown Disney to get our car at the Marketplace. Sounds easy. It wasnít.

It felt like there were a gazillion people exiting the Magic Kingdom when we were. Of course it was a Saturday night, thatís what you get for going to MK on a Saturday. The line for the monorail going to the TTC was out to the security ques and the line for the resort monorail wasnít much better. It took Stephen and I forever to get up to the platform and in line for a car. We waited at least 10 minutes just for the next train to come, it was ridiculous, I will never stay ďoff-siteĒ again, I donít care if it was only for a night. We finally got on the monorail and to the Contemporary and out to the bus stop. Of course there is a huge line of people waiting to go to DTD. After about a 10-minute wait the bus pulled up and everyone got on, which surprised me because there was quite a few people waiting. The driver pulled up to the Marketplace and we stood to get off the bus, but the driver realized that all the stores were closed and wouldnít let anyone off. So we rode over to Pleasure Island (Stephen and I felt silly getting off at PI with shorts and gym shoes on when everyone else was dressed to go to clubbing), and then hiked all the way back to the Marketplace and our parked car. We were back at Hotel Royal Plaza within 5 minutes, we left the park at a little after 10:00 and we didnít get back to our hotel until close to 11:30. What a pain! We were in bed within a few minutes of getting back to the hotel and fell asleep watching Saturday Night Live.

Day 2óSunday 5/9
The Plan: Check out of Hotel Royal Plaza, check into Villas of the Wilderness Lodge, PS San Angel Inn 1:00, Epcot Evening Extra Magic Hours.
The Reality: We woke up bright and early, around 8:00 I think. We were both planning on sleeping in and taking our time to get ready. We didnít have to be anywhere until 1:00, but thereís just something about being in WDW that makes you want to get up and goóeven for a non-morning person like me. We figured since we were both awake and rested, we might as well hit a park instead of wasting time lying in bed. We got up and got ready and were out the door by 9:00. We decided to check into Villas of the Wilderness Lodge first and then make our way to Epcot.

We got to our car and Stephen easily found his way to the Magic Kingdom resort area. It is so easy to get around the Disney roads; Iím convinced the roads were built to make it hard to get lost. We pulled up in front of the Lodge; we were so excited to be back here. I think the Wilderness Lodge is a beautiful resort and in my opinion, one of the best themed. Although they are all themed pretty well, thatís one of the main things I love about Disney World, their ability to take you someplace else. Check in was quick; of course our villa wasnít ready, they are not guaranteed until 4:00. I did feel kind of bad during check in; we rented points from someone via the disboards rent/trade board. I donít know what Disneyís stance is on renting points to non-members, if they even care that is done (I would think they wouldnít care), but during check in we wanted it to look like we knew the people we rented from. Well our reservation was marked 2 adults and 2 kids, when we checked in, we said just 2 adults. The CM started joking about leaving the kids at home, having a vacation with just the 2 of us, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile Iím feeling like a terrible Mom because the CM thinks I left my kids on Motherís Day to go on vacation. When we walked away from the check-in desk, I told Stephen that we were bad parents to leave our kids (which we donít have) at home for the week.

We went to the car to park it and then walked back up to the bus stop. We were anxious to get to Epcot and didnít want to wait, a bus came for the TTC, so we jumped on that and then took the monorail over to Epcot. Iím sure itís much quicker to just wait for an Epcot bus, but we didnít mind it taking a few extra minutes, as long as weíre moving. Besides, thereís nothing like riding the monorail into Epcot. As were on the monorail making the circle around Space Ship Earth, we saw all the characters out in the courtyard area signing autographs and taking pictures. Unfortunately by the time we got there, they were gone. Meeting the characters was not a high priority for me this trip, except for meeting Mickey Mouse, I canít leave WDW without meeting Mickey Mouse, even if I have to go to Toon Town to do it. The rest of the characters I have met numerous times, so I wasnít that worried about standing in line or butting small children out of my way.

The two main attractions in Future World are Test Track and Mission: Space, so of course we headed there first. I think we ended up getting fastpasses for Test Track and then getting in line for Mission: Space. Maybe I should say we walked through the que at Mission: Space because there was no line. At all. I guess Mission: Space gets such a bad rap about causing motion sickness that people are afraid to ride it. I donít get it to tell you the truth, all you have to do is listen to the warnings (keep your eyes open, your head completely back, and donít look around the capsule) and youíre fine. I get motion sickness, I listen to the warnings and Iím fine. I only got dizzy on Mission: Space once and that was because I wanted to see what would happen if you look around the capsule or close your eyes, so getting sick was my fault for being stupid. Anyway, it was a great ride, it just gets better and better each time, the technology it took to create that ride is amazing. The best way to describe it is a motion simulator, but that doesnít even come close to giving the ride justice. After our flight to the Red Planet, Stephen and I walked around the store/activity center at the exit of Mission: Space. We usually just run out of there, on our way to Test Track or Space Ship Earth, there is some really cool stuff in there. If you play video games, this would be heaven, and if youíre too big of a chicken to ride Mission: Space, you can get to the exit through a separate entrance. Stephen and I had a ball making a video of ourselves in the e-mail stations, we put the moon and outer space behind us and spend the entire 30 seconds screaming for help, pretending that we were under alien attack. Iím sure my Mom loved opening that e-mail up!

We lolly gagged around enough at Mission: Space that it was time for our ride on Test Track. I have to be completely honest, the first time I rode Test Track, I wasnít that impressed. I was expecting a thrill ride and itís not. Well, itís a thrill ride for Disney, not for Cedar Point, Six Flags, or Kingís Island. Once you get the phrase ďthrill rideĒ out of your frame of thinking, youíll enjoy Test Track much more. I wonít wait more than 20 minutes for it and I would never ride it without a fastpass unless itís a complete walk-on, but Test Track is growing on me. It was definitely a different ride than last time, the last time we rode Test Track it was like negative 100 degrees out. Okay, Iím exaggerating, but it was really cold. I like the warm wind blowing on me much more than the cold air! Stephen and I spent a good 20-30 minutes in the GM Show Room after Test Track, Stephen loves cars and Iím the daughter of a car lover, so it works out well. We took pictures of the Chevrolet SSR (Iím not truck person, but that truck rocks), the Corvette C6, Cadallic SLT, (what is GMís fascination with initials?) and the Saturn Ion 3 Coupe (thatís the car we should have bought, especially since they came out with the Ion Redline). By this time we were starving, thankfully we were very close to our PS time at San Angel Inn.
On the way over to Mexico in World Showcase, we stopped in front of the old Odessye restaurant to take pictures of Space Ship Earth and Future World. I havenít mentioned anything about the Flower and Garden Show yet; Epcot was beautiful with all the flowers in bloom. On the banks of the water way there were some really cool flower arrangements. They made daisyís out of other flowers and my favorite: Mickey Mouse heads. I took so many pictures this trip, Iím a gardener wanna be, but the pictures didnít do the flower arrangements justice. They were beautiful. Stephen was getting a little irritated with me because I wanted to stop and smell the rosesóliterally, and he was hungry. Men! We practically ran over to Mexico and up inside the Mayan temple. Stephen went to the podium to check us in and was handed a pager, we ended up waiting probably 15 minutes, but thereís so much to look at, that waiting is never a big deal. I found the cutest little shop while waiting, La Familia Fashions, I canít believe I have never been in it before, it is a jewelry shop on the right hand side of the pavillion. The shop had some beautiful expensive pieces, but they also had some beautiful inexpensive pieces as well. Little beaded bracelets and necklaces for $10-$15, I could hardly believe it! My sister, Jessica, will go crazy in December, sheíll probably buy the store out. I didnít buy anything, but I definitely found some future purchases. I looked around in Artesanias Mexicanas next, the crystal shop across the pavillion, there were some really gorgeous figurines in there, but very expensive. I got out of there quick before I had any ďaccidentsĒ.

Finally our pager started to blink and we were escorted to ďourĒ table. We get the same exact table every single time, the only time we havenít eaten at this table was in December because we were a party of 5. So, thatís 6 meals at the same table. It would be better if the table had an awesome location, but it doesnít. Well, itís not that bad, at least itís not one of those tables down by the bathrooms. Itís right next to the kitchen, by the cart that holds the cleaning supplies. So the next time you go to San Angel Inn and see that table, think of Stephen and I.

Our server came over immediately and brought us chips and salsa (2 containers, which I love, Stephen is a salsa hog) and took our drink order. We looked over the menu, but we donít need to, we always order the same thing. I usually order the nachos de pollo with no tomatoes or jalapenos (sometimes I mix it up and order plato mexicano) and Stephen usually orders the plato mexicano (sometimes he mixes it up and orders plato nacional). We ended up getting our regulars, good choice. The food was awesome today (you know how sometimes you eat at a restaurant and theyíre having an off night?), definitely not an off night today. Our food came out shortly and we dug in. I couldnít finish my nachos, the platter is humungous, I always eat until Iím ready to bust and I can hardly put a dent in them. Stephen helped me along, of course you know I forced him (whatever). Okay, so weíre both completely full, but we somehow made room for dessert. Somehow. The desserts at San Angel are amazing, well I guess in all honesty I can only say one dessert is amazing: chocolate chimi chonga. Iím not kinding, this is the best dessert ever. Itís a banana wrapped in a tortilla shell and deep fried (real healthy, I know), topped with melting vanilla ice cream and chocolate and peanut butter sauce and topped with a strawberry. Heaven, Iím in heaven. While we were eating, a tejano band started playing salsa music, that really made it feel like we were in Mexico.

After our delicious and extremely filling lunch, we left San Angel Inn and went to ride El Rio del Tiempo. I know this is an extremely cheesy ride, but I have to ride it everytime, just like itís a small world. And since itís a small world is closed for rehab right now, I really had to make it a point to ride El Rio del Tiempo. I know, poor Stephen for having to put up with me.

By this time itís a little after 2:00 (remember, I donít wear a watch on vacation), Stephen and I were dying to get to our studio at the VWL, but of course our room wasnít ready yet. I consoled myself by going into The Puffinís Roost in Norway and spraying my favorite perfume on me. I absolutely adore Layla by Geir Ness, it is my favorite perfume ever. Whenever I step foot in World Showcase, I have to go directly to Norway and spritz myself. Stephen looked at his watch and realized that the next showing of The American Adventure was getting ready to start (itís a good thing he wears a watch!).

We headed over there and heard the tail end of Voices of Liberty, I love Voices of Liberty and American Vybe both, we were planning on coming back and hearing both groups later in the week. The American Adventure was great as always, it was so nice and cool and dark in there and I was so full from lunch that I closed my eyes for part of the show and just listened. I didnít nod off, I promise. No, in all seriousness, I may have taken a very quick and very short cat nap, but I do love The American Adventure and I donít make it a habit to sleep during the show. After The American Adventure, Stephen and I continued making our way around the World Showcase, working toward the front of Epcot. We were hoping that if we timed it right, we would get to the entrance right at 4:00, we would be able to call and get our room number and go straight to our studio.

We had a nice stroll through World Showcase, the sun was shining so bright, and it was definitely warm, but not at all hot. The perfect weather, in my opinion. We took our time walking through the pavilions, stopping in shops along on the way. Once we finally made it to Future World, we saw Space Ship Earth didnít have a line, so we rode that on the way out of the park. I love Space Ship Earth, itís one of my favorites and I would be so sad if it was taken out. On the way out of Epcot, Stephen called the Wilderness Lodge, our room was ready. Yeah!! A bus pulled up within a few minutes of waiting and we were on our way. Once we got to the Lodge, we went to our car to get our luggage and then headed over to the Villas. The lobby for the Villas isnít nearly as impressive as the lobby in the Lodge, however it is still a nice lobby. Itís reminiscent of the Lodge, but on a much smaller scale. We were on the 5th floor in the wayyyyy back corner. When we were looking for our studio it felt like we kept walking and walking and walking. I wondered if we needed to leave a trail of bread crumbs to find our way back to the elevators! The studio itself was very quaint and old fashioned. I remember making the comment to Stephen that it reminded me of my grandparents house. The furniture is a very dark wood, almost black, much darker than the furniture in the Lodge. The bedspread and curtains were a deep red with accents of forest green and navy. The kitchenette/sink part of the room was very dark, it would be difficult to see to put make-up on. Since I had a tan, I didnít put any make-up on the whole week, so I donít know for sure. Overall I liked the room, although I still loved the Board Walk Villas more. Our view was nothing exciting, just trees, but that was okay because I felt we could actually use the balcony. I hate when you have a balcony that people walk by and they are consistly looking at you or even worse looking in the room. While we were getting settled in the room, Stephen and I both called our Momís (I was already blacklisted for going to WDW without my Mom, the fact that I was doing it on Motherís Day just dumped salt in the wound) and talked to them for a few minutes. We got off the phone, put on our bathing suits and headed for the pool.

Wow was that a hike to the main pool! I was content with the quiet pool, I was only going to lay out and work on my tan, but Stephen wanted to swim in the ďrealĒ pool. We found 2 lounge chairs by the pool bar and spread our towels out. I ended up falling asleep, it felt so good to be laying there with the sun like a blanket over me. Stephen laid for a few minutes, got in the pool for a few minutes and then laid back down on his lounge chair again. Stephen woke me around 6ish and we left the pool area a few minutes later.

Since tonight was the evening extra magic hours at Epcot, we werenít in a hurry to get there. We figured we would get there a little before 8:00, see if we could find something to eat, get a spot for Illuminations and after Illuminations weíd do Future World. Once we got into Epcot, we got our bracelets for the extra magic hour and then stopped to take some awesome pictures in front of Space Ship Earth, it was dusk out and the lighting on the SSE was spectacular. These are some of the best pictures we have of us ever. I love Epcot at night, thereís something so magical , almost like electricity in the air. All the lights are dimmed and the torches around the World Showcase Lagoon are lit, and then the pre-Illuminations music starts a little after 8:00. Awesomeóthe best part of any WDW vacation. Stephen and I were hoping to have Yorkshire County Fish and Chips for dinner, but they were already closing up shop when got to World Showcase around 8:30.

We decided to just grab seats for Illuminations and eat during the extra magic hours, since we were still pretty full from our gargantuan lunch. We completely lucked out with out seats, we tried to find spots up at the top of World Showcase, by the entrance. As we were standing in the pavilion were everyone else was, the CMís opened an extra area right on the water. Stephen happened to be looking in that direction and saw the CMís lower the rope, he grabbed my arm (I had no idea what was happening) and pulled me into the special area. We ended up being in the ď2ndĒ row, which were incredible seats. The CMís made everyone in that area sit down and stay seated and they only let a limited amount of people in the area. It was great. I donít need to go into great detail of Illuminations, the show was fantastic and the music made me tear up and I wish I were there right now! Because we were so close to the action, we got some great shots that will look awesome in my scrapbook.

After Illuminations, Stephen and I hung back, letting the crowds rush past us. I love doing that! We got the list of what restaurants would be open and decided on the Electric Umbrella for dinner. I have never eaten here before, it wasnít too bad, not that Iím going to make plans to eat here in the future, but it works for needing food in a pinch. Stephen and I both got the same thing, a ham and cheese sandwich on pretzel bread. Wow was that pretzel bread good, it was just like eating a giant soft dough pretzel. Maybe Iíll reconsider and eat here on every vacation. I got fries with my sandwich, they were okay, basic Disney fries and Stephen got pineapple coleslaw. He said the slaw was good, I didnít try it, Iím not big on pineapples. We got a piece of chocolate pie to share as well (I thought we were still full from our lunch), that was pretty good too. By this time, the park was pretty much cleared out, with only the people doing the EMH left. We walked over to Test Track, we had fastpasses that we had gotten earlier in the day but couldnít use because the ride was down during our return time. Stephen asked if we could use our fastpasses, the CM waved us on in. Test Track is great at night! Just like Big Thunder Mountain: fun during the day, but awesome at night.

After Test Track, I had to call my Mom to get an update on Survivor All-Stars, tonight was the last night and we had to know who won. After getting the dirt (Iím so glad Boston Rob didnít win, he annoys me), we walked over to the Living Seas. Iím loving the new Finding Nemo display there; I bet itís even better in the daylight when you can see everything. I think there were a total of 10 people in the Living Seas; it was nice because you could actually take your time and see the aquariums without people crowding on top of you. Of course there was a downside, most of the fish were sleeping. We did spend some time in the Finding Nemo display, where they have all the fish that were in the movie. I love the stingrays; they are my favorite fish (are they even a fish?), I wanted to stick my hand down in the water and touch them, but I refrained.

Stephen was starting to whine about being tired (Iím a night person, but heís a morning person. Makes for an interesting marriage ), so we started to make our way to the front of Epcot to catch a bus back to VWL. The bus was completely packed, it was standing room only and every where you looked you saw sleeping children. Much more pleasant than crying children. Once we got back to our studio, it was lights out, we both fell asleep watching ďLate Show with David LettermanĒ.

Day 3óMonday 5/10
The Plan: PS Whispering Canyon Café 8:00 or 10:00, Magic Kingdom, PS Cinderella Royal Table 4:00.

Reality: Stephen and I both opted to go for the 10:00 breakfast, and we slept in until 9:00. We both quickly showered and got ready and walked across the breeze way into the Wilderness Lodge. We checked in at the podium right at 10:00 and about 30 seconds later the ďFulkerson kidsĒ were being called for breakfast. We had both heard so much about Whispering Canyon Café, that Stephen and I werenít sure what to think. It wasnít nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I have heard that breakfast is the tamest meal at WCC. The CM got our drink orders (how cool is it that the cups are Ball/Mason canning jars?) and Stephen and I both ordered the all-you-can-eat skillet. I was going to be good and order something a little lighter, but I gave in temptation, if you canít eat garbage on vacation, when can you eat it? The skillet consisted of biscuits and gravy (my favorite), pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns, waffles and scrambled eggs. Let me tell you, it was very good! Stephen and I ended up getting a refill (because we both ordered the skillet, we only got one skillet on the table), we couldnít finish it, but we sure tried. While there were some antics going on, nothing was over the top or embarrassing. They did the traditional ďwhoís got the ketchup?Ē and made all the kids promise to never go to Universal, which I thought was cute. Stephen did get picked on a little bit; our waitress brought him a large (maybe 3qt?) jar of iced tea because she got tired of bringing him refills.

Completely stuffed, we left WCC and took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom. AhhÖan empty Main Street, so much better than Saturday when there were wall-to-wall people. Stephen and I made our obligatory pictures in front of Cinderella Castle (itís funny to see how we have changed, well Stephen pretty much looks the same, but my hair keeps getting longer and longer and lighter and lighter ). Tired of smiling, we left the hub and walked over to Tomorrowland, we grabbed fastpasses for Space Mountain and then saw Walt Disneyís Carousel of Progress while waiting. I love the CoP, I love that itís open all the time now that Alien Encounter is closed. Itíll be interesting to see what will happen when the Stitch ride opens up this fall. After Space Mountain, we made the tour of Tomorrowland, doing the TTA and then Buzz Lightyearís Space Ranger Spin. Iím sad to tell you that Stephen whooped my behind in Buzz Lightyear, I can usually find some targets with lots of points, but I wasnít as lucky this time. Oh well, Iíll get you next time, Stephen.

Can we finally go to Fantasyland? Puh-lease???? Stephen isnít a huge fan of Fantasyland, but he tolerates it for me. Guess he must love me, huh? We walked down to Peter Panís Flight to get fastpasses and then came back town to Mickeyís PhilharMagic. This is an amazing attraction, definitely one of my favorites. There was a little bit of a line, but we passed the time talking to the people around us. The theatre doors finally opened and we were ushered in. There was a group of people who apparently were deaf because they sat down in the middle of the row when the CMís repeatedly said to move all the way down. I had to laugh when the guests in that row (it was the row behind us) would ďaccidentallyĒ step on them or made comments. It was great! It was even better when the lights when down and the kids kept saying how they couldnít see. Ha, ha, thatís what you get. To quote my husband, Iím being ďmean spiritedĒ, but sometimes you just canít help it. After the wonderful show (who else agrees with me that the Aladdin and Jasmine scene is the best?), we dug out our fastpasses for Peter Panís Flight.

This is one of my favorite rides in WDW; the best part is definitely flying over London and seeing Nana below. It amazes me that this ride was built 30 years ago, and it is still a favorite of so many. Donít believe me, try standing in the regular line and see how long the wait is! Iím definitely glad this is a fastpass attraction. Stephen snapped my picture as we were getting off of the ride. We go to WDW so much and we (well, I) take so much pictures because I scrapbook, that we are starting to get creative with our picture taking. We got off Peter Pan and had a moment of silence for itís a small world that is down for extensive rehab. Stephen doesnít mind iasw being closed, but I definitely was sad about it. Itís hard to go to Disney World and not see that attraction. I also stopped at Pinocchioís Village Haus and snapped a picture of the menu for my sister, Jessica. She has a thing for Pinocchioís and eats here every time she comes. We walked around Fantasyland, looking at shops that we never look at. Stephen went into Sir Mickeyís, I believe, a shop under the castle that has all the cool medieval stuff in it. While he was in there, I called my sister, Shari at work (I promised that I would call from Cinderella Castle). I found Stephen in the shop, looking at Imagineering books, why am I not surprised? We finished looking at the store and could hear the open chorus of the Share A Dream Come True parade. Stephen and I were the Grand Marshals of this parade in February 2003, so it holds a special place in our hearts.

We walked through Cinderella Castle and watched the parade from the top of the castle stage. We couldnít see that well, but it was okay, weíve seen the parade before. By this time it was a little past 3:00, which means we would be eating at Cinderellaís Royal Table in an hour and a half. UmÖwe are so not hungry, after that huge breakfast at Whispering Canyon. We hated to cancel our PS because CRT is so good (this was the restaurant where I discovered that I love prime rib), but we just werenít hungry. Stephen walked over to the podium of CRT to cancel the PS and then we walked down and sat on the wall around the hub to try to figure out a game plan. We both agreed that we were pretty much finished with Magic Kingdom, we had seen everything we wanted to see, of course there are always repeats that you can experience over and over again. We started thinking of different restaurants, we both wanted to try something new. We eat at so many good places while on vacation, that itís a hard to find a restaurant where we have never eaten before. I suggested Restaurant Marrakesh, which completely surprised Stephen; I tend to eat pretty conservatively (although I am getting more adventurous) and Restaurant Marrakesh serves Moroccan food. For some reason it sounded really good to me, I can Ďt explain it, I was just dying to try it. Stephen called Disney dining and made a PS for 7:00 that night.

We decided to head back to the studio and hang out until going to Epcot that night. We both fell asleep once we got back to the room (should have never laid down!!) and took a nice little nap. We woke up a little before 6:00, got cleaned up and headed off to Epcot. We decided to go baggage free and I left my backpack and camera in the room. I wish I had the camera to take pictures of Restaurant Marrakesh, but it just gives us another reason to eat here again! We walked into Epcot a little before 7:00 and headed straight for World Showcase.

Restaurant Marrakesh is hidden back in the Morocco pavilion and kind of hard to find. Luckily Stephen remembered seeing it and knew where it was. We checked in at the podium and were escorted directly to our table. Wow. Thatís the only way to describe Restaurant Marrakesh, it is a truly beautiful restaurant and wonderfully themed. The restaurant is basically in one large room with an upper tier on the left hand side of the restaurant. The middle of the restaurant was cleared out for the belly dancer to dance and there where instruments set up against the back wall, although there was no one playing when we walked in. The furniture was dark and it looked impressive against the white walls. There was mosaic everywhere in hues of blues and purples, I felt like I was in an Arabian palace. It was beautiful. We were seated on the main floor in the ďsecond rowĒ to the dance floor. When the belly dancer came out, about 20 minutes into our meal, we had a great view (I knew Stephen was loving that! ). I think Iím going to take up belly dancing so I can get abs like hersóthey were incredible!

Our waiter quickly came over and took our drink order and asked if had any questions about the menu yet. Since we were so busy checking out the restaurant, we barely looked at the menu. Our drinks were quickly brought out and we decided on chicken bastilla for an appetizer. The chicken bastilla was incredible, even though it was a weird combination; it was chicken wrapped in phyllo dough or some type of pastry dough. Mixed in with the chicken was some type of filling, Iím not sure what all was in there, but I know there were almonds. The entire pastry was topped off with powdered sugar. I wasnít sure I would like it, but it was so good. I didnít want to share it with Stephen! While we were waiting for our appetizer, our waiter came back to take our dinner order. At the last second I decided to get the chicken couscous (the national dish of Morocco) and Stephen got the chicken shish kabobs. Stephen was so impressed that I was trying something entirely new, I had never had couscous before, but I am so glad that I did. Our dinners came out while we were still eating our chicken bastilla, but neither one of us were ready to give that up! We finished our appetizer and started on dinner. The chicken couscous was chicken (Iím guessing a breast) cut into strips and laying on top of the couscous, there were also vegetables; carrots, zucchini, and I think cabbage. It was so good, I am so glad we tried this restaurant. I ate until I could hardly eat anymore and there was still a lot of food left on my plate. Stephen tried some of my dinner and he liked it as well.

Stephen liked his chicken shish kabobs, but I didnít care much for the bite I tried. It was chicken and vegetables on a bed of rice, which is all fine, but the sauce the kabobs were covered in was a tomato based sauce and I donít like tomatoes. But Stephen really liked it and was glad that he ordered it and ate it all (heís an honorary member of the clean plate club). At this point were both so full and should have asked for the check and left, but no, we like to torture ourselves and had to order dessert. I think we got the Crepes Casablanca, they were so good, crepes topped with almonds and honey and powered sugar. Delicious! Restaurant Marrakesh is kind of expensive (I think our dinner was around $60 without alcoholic drinks and before tip) and I donít know if it is a restaurant that weíll eat every trip, but Iím so glad that we tried it and I know weíll be back someday and Iíll recommend it to anyone.

When we finished with dinner, we walked back out to World Showcase, it was about 8:00, so we had an hour before Illuminations. We have seen Illuminations so many times that we usually donít camp out a spot before hand. You can see Illuminations from pretty much anywhere in World Showcase, and we really love walking around World Showcase at night listening to the music and taking our time walking around and looking at the different pavilions. There was an Imaginum (the living statues) act in Italy, so we stopped to watch that for a while. They are amazing and so talented, it was great to watch! What kind of make-up do they wear that covers their skin so completely and evenly? Weíll definitely have to take the time to watch them again. After the Imaginum act we continued on our walk around World Showcase. I of course had to stop in Norway to get my customary squirt of Layla, I love that stuff! It was getting close to 9:00, so we walked up the top of the World Showcase to watch Illuminations. Fantastic as always. We took our time walking out of Epcot; we even stopped and sat on the wall by the Lion King flower display for the Flower and Garden Show and just people watched. During this time Stephen called Disney dining to get our PS for Mama Melrose pushed back to a later time. We were able to get a PS at 6:30, much better than 4:30 for the Fantasmic dinner package.

We got back to the VWL shortly, took showers (I just canít go to sleep after being hot and sweaty all day), and fell asleep watching ďThe Late Show with David LettermanĒ.

Day 4ó5/11
The Plan: MGM Studios, PS Mama Melrose/Fantasmic Dinner package 4:30, MGM Evening Extra Magic Hours

The Reality: Since tonight was the evening extra magic hours for MGM and since we didnít HAVE to be there until 6:00 for PS at Mama Melroseís, we decided to hang out until we were ready to go the park. We set the alarm for 9:30, got up, put on our bathing suits and went down to the pool for a little sun bathing and swimming.

How great is it to roll out of bed, and then 20 minutes later be lying on a lounge chair in the sun? I love being on vacation! We laid in the sun for a few minutes, got in the pool to cool off, laid back down on the lounge chair. It was a pretty relaxing morning. We went back to the room, took showers and got cleaned up, and started on our resort tour.

We decided that we wanted to check out Coronado Springs and Old Key West. Stephen and I have never seen any of the moderate resorts, we decided on Coronado Springs. We got in our rental car and found Coronado Springs pretty easily and quickly; we parked the car in guest parking (do the moderate and value resorts even have valet parking?) and walked into the registration building. I love the fountain in the lobby and took a picture of Stephen in front of it. We walked through the lobby and out into to resort. Itís so beautiful! And the hot, steamy weather made it feel like we were really in the Southwest.

We took some pictures across the lake, and started on a tour around the resort. Even though this is a convention resort, it didnít have a convention atmosphere. The only remainder was occasionally seeing people in dress clothes on their way to a seminar. In this heat and humidity, I donít know how the women were wearing panty hose and heels. Iím glad Iím wearing shorts and sandals! I definitely wouldnít mind staying here some day, the grounds are beautiful and the rooms looked nice (we peeked into a room that had itís curtains open). The Dig Site pool was very cool looking, and large! Way bigger than the pool at the Wilderness Lodge. Iím not big on swimming, mostly just working on my tan, but I know a large sized pool that is themed is very important to most people. We walked around the backside of the pool and across a bridge. It felt like we were a million miles away from Disney World. There is a path across the bridge that is completely covered by mammoth sized trees, it was nice and cool in there, I hated to come out into the humidity. Today was the only day where high heat and humidity was a factor. It was sweltering.

Stephen and I worked our way around the resort coming back to the main building. We were both starving and decided to eat lunch at the Pepper Market. I have heard some mixed reviews on the Pepper Market. It is the food court, but instead of getting your food and finding a seat, you are taken to your seat and given a card with a chart on it. While you are looking over a menu a hostess brings a drink. You take the card up a station that has different types of foods (Mexican, salads/soup, sandwiches, Italian, etc.) what you order is stamped on the card. You take the card with you to checkout once you have eaten and you are billed off your card (every person in the group has their own) and then 10% gratuity is added to your final bill. For Stephen and I it was fine, much cheaper than a lunch in the park, but I can see how it could get expensive for a family staying here.

Stephen and I were both feeling like Mexican, I got the market nachos with chicken and I think Stephen got the chicken enchilada. Both were pretty good. Not as good as San Angel Inn mind you, but pretty good for Mexican fast food. Stephen finished off his, but I couldnít finish mine (are you noticing a trend here?). We both wanted to get some desserts, I always need something sweet after I eat Mexican, but we were both so full that we didnít order any. We stopped at Panchitoís Gift and Sundries on the way out of the resort, Stephen bought some Mickey boxers and we left Coronado Springs.

We headed off for Old Key West next. We currently have a 2-bedroom villa reserved for December for our vacation with my parents and sister (actually after we had been home a month, the waitlist for Board Walk Villas came through and we are staying there again. Yeah!!). We wanted to take some pictures of the resort grounds to get everyone excited about the trip. We parked the car and walked up to the Hospitality House and had a look around. Itís very nice and quaint; it feels like a room in somebodyís house. But I wonder how much you would sit in there unless you were checking in. Itís not like the Wilderness Lodge or Board Walk where you walk through the lobby every day and get sit and people watch. There was no line at check in, so Stephen walked over and asked if we could tour a 2-bedroom villa. We told the CM that we had reservations in December and we would like to see the villa and get some pictures for my family to see. They were more than accommodating and a CM came right out and took us to a building. He was very helpful and answered many questions; Stephen talked to him for most of the time while I snapped pictures.

After we toured the villa, we took a walk around the grounds, through the breezeway and across to the lake. We walked past Oliviaís and the surrey rental down to the pool and the sand box. Everything was so pretty and the size of the villas so large, I can easily see why Old Key West has such a faithful following. Even though I love the Board Walk and Iím excited about staying there, I have to completely honest and say I was kind of disappointed that we wouldnít be staying at Old Key West in December. It looks like a great resort and Iím guessing that it would make for a very quiet and laid back vacation. We spent some time just walking around the resort and snapping pictures.

We headed back to the resort after wondering around Old Key West for probably an hour and a half. Once back to the VWL, we changed shoes, grabbed our APís and headed off for MGM. We had to wait a few minutes for a bus, but one came around shortly (the transportation was much better this trip than our stay in August, in August we always had a 20-30 minute wait to get anywhere) and we were soon walking through the gates of MGM, looking down Mickey Avenue to the giant Sorcererís Apprentice hat. Truth be told, I donít really care for MGM, itís my least favorite of all the parks. There are 3 attractions here that I love: Rock Ďn Roller Coaster with Aerosmith, Hollywood Tower of Terror, and Muppets 3D. I like The Great Movie Ride and Who Wants to Be A MillionaireóPlay It!, but sometimes those attractions get old after a while and I wouldnít mind if I didnít experience them every single trip.

As soon as we got there, we went down to Sunset Blvd. to see what was happening with Rock Ďn Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Both were walk-ons, we grabbed fastpasses for Tower of Terror and got in the small line for Rock Ďn Roller Coaster. What a great ride! Ití s no Millennium Force at Cedar Point, but for Disney World, itís pretty awesome. Stephen and I both huge Aerosmith fans, so it makes the ride especially good. Oh, and I am so glad that I finally figured out who plays the part of Aerosmithís PR person, you know the lady who gets the limousines? Itís Stacy from ďWhat Not to WearĒ on TLCóthis has been bugging me for years, so glad that I finally figured it out. Whew! And one more thing, I remembered to keep my mouth closed this time and the ride was much more pleasant (youíll have to read my December 2003 trip report to find out what happened to me on this ride).

It wasnít quite time for our fasspass time for Tower of Terror, so we went to Who Wants to Be a MillionaireóPlay It! (Stephenís choice, not mine). Stephen and I both made it on the leader board, but never made it into the hot seat. One weird thing did happen, I was like #3 or #4 on the leader board at one point, never missed a question and answered all the questions quickly. The next leader board check, I was completely off the list. What is up with that?? Oh well, I have no desire to get to the hot seat anyway, too nerve racking. The closest I came was in February 2003, I was #1 on the leader board and I missed the next question on purpose (I knew the answer). The person in the hot seat missed it as well, so I should have been down there. Oh well.

Once WWTBAM was over, it was time for our ride on Tower of Terror. Is there anyone else who feels like they just keep walking from end of the park, turn around and go back to the other end every few minutes? By the time we got to Tower of Terror, the CMís were set up to hand out wrist bands for the extra magic hours. Each park has itís own color, the CM told us the idea was to keep your bracelet on for each park for the length of your stay, so if you go to two different extra magic hours at the same park, you only have to get your bracelet once. Uh, okay, whatever lady. We got our bracelets and went to Tower of Terror. Great ride. One of the best additions to the parks, I could ride this over and over again. Iím trying to talk my sister Jessica into riding this in December, Stephen and I were unsuccessful last year, maybe I can bribe her with something this time...

It was finally time for dinner, Iím so glad, I was starving. Stephen and I did the Fantasmic Dinner Package at Mama Melroseís. Basically you pay one flat price (I think it was $28 a person) and you get a salad, appetizer, meal, dessert, and a non-alcoholic drink, but you can pick whatever you want. For example if you order spaghetti that is normally, $14 (Iím guessing at the price), youíre going to still pay the flat price. On the other hand if you get a steak that is normally $20 (still guessing at the price), youíre paying $28 for the entire meal, including salad, appetizer, dessert, and a non-alcoholic drink. So this can be a really good deal or it can be a waste, depending on what you order. We have eaten at Mama Melroseís once before and really liked the food and the atmosphere. It feels like in youíre a little family owned Italian restaurant in the middle of Brooklyn. Right down to the red-checkered tablecloths to the greenery garland with white lights hanging all over the restaurant. It was great because our waitress had a Northern accent (she said she was from Michigan, but it sounded pretty New York-y to me) and it just added to the ambiance and theming.

We started with a field greens salad that was large enough for a family to share and some bread. It was really good, but I didnít want to fill up on salad. For an appetizer we had the grilled pepperoni flatbread pizza, this was great too, but the pepperoni was kind of spicy. Iím not a huge pepperoni eater, so I picked most of mine off; I just ate the peppers and onions and gave Stephen my pepperoni. Stephenís not a huge peppers and onions eater, so he picked those off and gave them to me. Are we the perfect match or what? For dinner I had the penne alla vodka and Stephen had the charred sirloin steak. Both entrees were very good and I was sorry that I didnít have a way to take my leftovers with me. For dessert we ordered the tiramisu, which was awesome and this is coming from a person who hates tiramisu. Iím not sure if itís because the tiramisu was really great or if itís because Iím starting to drink coffee and I have learned to like it. Either way, the tiramisu was terrific. When we got up to leave, I was so full that I could hardly stand up straight. Thatís a great feeling.

We made our way to the Fantasmic arena, going through the ďsecretĒ entrance; we found great seats and waited for the show to begin. I love Fantasmic, but apparently most children do not. There were a lot of parents taking scared kids out of the theatre. Iím so thankful we were sitting by considerate parents and not parents who made their kids stay and let them cry just because they didnít want to miss the show. I appreciate considerate and thoughtful parents. I promise, when Stephen and I have children, we will be considerate parents too.

After Fantasmic was over, we let the crowds rush past us and took our time walking out. It was great to see everyone leaving the parks and to know that we still had 3 hours to do whatever we wanted. We decided to head to Muppets 3-D first, figuring everyone staying would head for Tower of Terror and Rock Ďn Roller Coaster. We got to Muppets 3-D early enough to see the entire pre-show and the crowd was so little that we could sit wherever we wanted to in the theatre. I guess Iím showing my age (25), but I love Kermit and the gang, I grew up watching them. Disney definitely needs to update this show, but never replace it. I was hoping to go in the Muppets shop, I have never been in their before, but it was closed. Oh well, Iíll catch it next trip.

I wanted to see The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Stephen was so thrilled about that, but he tolerated me. There was a huge line and we were the last people to be admitted to the show. The only reason we made the cut was because we were a party of 2. The show was pretty good, the first sceneówith the black light was pretty cool, Stephen was impressed and glad that I pushed him to see it. The only bad part was that I spent the rest of the week singing ďPart of Your WorldĒ, Stephen was so happy about that! I also sang ďShenandoahĒ non-stop, Voices of Liberty sings that and itís one of my favorite songs.

We walked over to Tower of Terror after seeing Ariel (and me singing all the way down Sunset Blvd). The fastpasses were for later in the night than we wanted to stay, so we decided to just get in line. It didnít look that bad. It wouldnít have been that bad, if all of the towers were working. There was only one tower running and it was taking forever, we decided to bag the idea. We walked over to Rock Ďn Roller Coaster, but everyone else had the same idea. The line was long and we had already ridden it once today. We decided to go ahead and leave, we had done everything we wanted to do. On the way out we stopped at Crossroads of the World, we browsed, but didnít find anything to buy. We hopped on the bus and were back in our villa shortly. Following our vacation schedule, we got ready for bed, turned on ďThe Late Show with David LettermanĒ and soon fell asleep.

Day 5ó5/12
The Plan: Animal Kingdom, PS Boma 5:30

Reality: We slept again this morning, I love the evening extra magic hours and I hope they keep them around. We can sleep in and swim and hang out at the resort and not feel like weíre wasting park time. Stephen and I are both relaxed park goers and weíre still exhausted at the end of the vacation. We were so rested and relaxed this vacation because of the extra hours; itís awesome having those extra hours at the end of the day.

We took our time getting ready and left the studio around 11:00. We decided to drive to Animal Kingdom so we would have a car for Bomaís. Itís kind of a pain to get to and from Animal Kingdom Lodge when the park is closed. You have to take a bus to one of the parks or Down Town Disney and then take another bus back to your resort. We both completely hated driving to the parks; we felt we were just going to an amusement park and not a Disney park. By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, parked the car, rode the tram in, made it through the long lines for security, and fought with my biometrics scan (I had been having trouble getting a reading all week), it was getting close to noon and we were getting hungry for lunch. Before we ate, we went over to Kilimanjaro Safari and got fasspasses.

We decided to try something new and ate at Tusker House; we usually eat at Flame Tree BBQ, which is our favorite. We both got the fried chicken sandwich and fries; it was very good and extremely filling. I only ate about half of the sandwich; I donít think Stephen finished his either. We should have just gotten one and split it. Live and learn. We still had a few minutes to wait for our fasspass time to open up, so we just sat at the table and people watched. It was very relaxing. It was finally time to go on the safari. We got great seats, in the first row, right behind the driver. We saw lots of animals on this safari ride, even the lions were awake, and we all know that doesnít happen very much.

Stephen glanced at his watch as we were getting off the safari jeeps and realized that we only had a few minutes to get over to Camp Minnie-Mickey to see the 1:00 showing of Festival of the Lion King. FotLK is my absolute favorite show at Walt Disney World and I try my best to see it every time weíre here. The show is completely amazing with all the singing and dancing and lighting and flying. Itís the best. We made it just in time and quickly found seats in the elephant section while the CMís were leading everyone in the hand jive. Another great show and for the first time I got some fantastic pictures of every act in the show. Arenít digital cameras the best? You can tell right away which pictures are keepers and which ones can be deleted. I could sit and watch FofLK all day long, but there were other things we planned on doing.

Stephen has wanted to see Tarzan Rocks! for the past 3 or 4 trips and we always run out of time to see it. We decided that it was high on our priority list for this vacation. The next show for Tarzan Rocks! was at 1:45; obviously we couldnít make that, so we were shooting for the 3:15 show. While we were waiting, we walked the Pangani Forest Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek, the animals were out today, but we still didnít see the elusive Komodo dragons. You can run and you can hide, but one of this trips, Iím going to catch up with you guys!!

It was finally time for Stephen to see Tarzan Rocks! I heard some not great things about Tarzan Rocks! which is why it took us so long to see it. I thought the show was really good and the part with Jane and Tarzan doing the acrobatic stunts was outstanding. The only complaint I have with the show is that the music is unbelievably loud, almost deafening. I didnít notice it so much while we were watching the show, but once it was over and we were walking out, my ears were ringing and I had a headache. But this wonít stop me from seeing the show again, I liked it a lot and I loved Tarzan. Hubba hubba. We stopped by to see the construction on Expedition Everest, itĎs right by the Theatre in the Wild where Tarzan Rocks! is performed. Itís starting to look like a roller coaster, Iím anxious to ride it, how in the world am I supposed to make it until 2006?

We had about an hour until the park closed and we could eat at Bomaís. I told Stephen since he got to pick something new, I got to pick something new too. I choose Rafakiís Planet Watch, but I kept calling it Conservation Station. Which is the right name? Are they both correct? Thatís what Disney gets for constantly chaging the names of attractions. Why oh why did we wait 3 ½ years to come here? Why did we give ourselves only an hour to see it? Stephen and I were both impressed with Rakifiís Planet Watch and promised that the next time we come to Animal Kingdom, this is the first land we come too. The train ride out was nice and worth a ride even if you donít have time to stop in to see the Plant Watch. We started out in the main building where all the rain forest conservation stuff is. There are lots of great photo opportunites in here with the animal cut outs. The cut outs are very realistic looking, Stephen took a picture of me hugging a tiger (my favorite animal) and when people were looking at our pictures when we got home, almost every single person stopped to take a closer look. They all thought I was hugging a real tiger. Okay, I donít love tigers that much.

We met Rakifi, the first character I had my picture with on this trip, a record for me, and we saw Pocohantus, a very, very pretty girl. We found the rain forest booths and went in there. Wow! Everything was so realistic and life-like, it felt like a cheetah was right behind me. Really neat. And how expensive are those headphone and the sound systems? Stephen and I both wanted to stay and listen again, but we didnít have time. We finally made it out to the petting area, I didnít realize that the animals were just walking around loose in the pen. We took some great pictures with the goats, they acted like they could care less that people were petting on them. I guess they are used to it. We relunctly left the animal pen, washed our hands and walked towards the train depot to get back to the park. We left Rafikiís Planet Watch about 4:30, we wanted to leave the park a few minutes early, since this was first time we drove a car, we didnít know how congested the parking lots would be at park closing and we didnít want to be late for our dinner at Bomaís.

We decided to just walk to our car instead of taking the tram, we didnít think we were parked that far out. Looks can be deceiving, it was a hike to our car! We finally got there and pulled into the Animal Kingdom Lodge about 5 minutes later, just in time for our PS. Once we checked in, we had a short wait, but nothing like last August when we waited 45 minutes to be seated with a PS. Soon enough the hostess was showing us to our table. We were seated right across from the buffet line, down by the salad section. It was an okay location, nice because we were so close to the food, but we were right in the middle of a traffic path and it was kind of loud with so many people around and talking. One cool thing about the table was that we could see into the kitchen and watch the chefís preparing the foods. That was pretty neat. Okay, enough about where we sat, letís get on with the food!

Wow did we eat good this meal. Iím trying to remember everything that I ate, I had the prime rib (wonderful), ribs (too spicy for me), coconut curried chicken soup (my favorite item on the buffet), ginger carrot soup (okay, probably wonít try it again), potatoes with afritude (my other favorite item on the buffet), fufu (interesting, surprised that I like it as it is sweet potatoes, I will eat this again), chicken salad with chili cilantro (good, from what I remember, at this point I was getting full), fruit and of course the ever popular macaroni and cheese off the kids buffet. For dessert I had the bread pudding with vanilla sauce, the chocolate mousse crispy things (I donít know what they are called, but they are my favorite dessert. The bottom of the dessert is a chocolate crisp, like a Nestle Crunch bar, and on top is a fluffy chocolate mousse), and a chocolate brownie type dessert, it wasnít a brownie, but that is the only thing I can compare it too. I have never seen this on the dessert buffet before. If they are new, I hope they stay around, it was so good that I had 2. Unbelievably full, Stephen and I left Bomaís and the Animal Kingdom Lodge and made our way back to the Villas.

Stephen and I decided to go back to the Magic Kingdom tonight to see Wishes. But before we left our studio, we took a little break, we stretched out on the bed, trying to get the food to digest a little quicker. I donít really think it did anything, but it made us feel a little better. After a short rest, we got up and headed to the Magic Kingdom, we got there about 15 minutes before Wishes started. I love Wishes, so much more than Fantasy in the Sky. Another great show. After Wishes, Stephen and I decided to stay for the evening extra magic hours. We walked up to the hub and sat on the wall to let some of the stroller brigades pass us by, we were tired of getting our heels clipped. I realize itís crowded in there and the parents arenít trying to kill the other guests, but we got away from them anyway.

The crowds finally let up enough so we could get back to Tomorrowland and get our bracelets. We rode Space Mountain, on the left side, itís both our favorite side. Buzz Lightyear had a long line, so we decided to pass on that, we had already ridden it a couple times this trip. We walked back through the hub and into Adventureland. We walked through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, kind of a difficult task in the dark, I was surprised it was still open. One good thing about the treehouse being open was that there werenít that many people touring it. You could actually stop and look around without a group of people breathing down your neck. There are some pretty cool views of Adventureland up there too, worth touring at the beginning or end of the day it get a better look.

Next we made our way over to the Jungle Cruise, which I absolutely adore. I know itís extremely out dated and even cheesy (gasp!), but itís a classic and the jokes are the best. On this tour we had a family that was of a different nationality and either didnít understand English very well or didnít understand the dry humor used on this attraction. They really thought they were seeing something great and they video taped the entire ride. It was so funny. The tour guide teased them a little bit, she said to ďget your video camera ready, weíre going to see the back side of the fallsĒ. It was great. I did notice some new jokes this time around, I donít know if the CMís are ad-libbing more or what, but it was a great ride on the rivers of the world. We decided to hit Pirates of the Caribbean next, it was a complete walk-on and we were on the boats in a matter of minutes. The ride was good as always, the best was a little boy in our boat who was about 3 years old. He asked his mom if the pirates were going to kill us. She reassured him that these are nice pirates and no one would get killed. It was cute.

After Pirates, we decided to go back to the studio, it was getting late and we were getting tired. When we walked out of the Magic Kingdom, we were greeted with an unpleasant scene: the line for the boat for the Wildneress Lodge was all the way back past the boat dock. We got in the line, and shortly after we did, the line went half way back to the gates of the Magic Kingdom. The wait was terrible. Everyone was tired and kids were whining and crying. After a 20 minute wait, we finally got on a boat, everyone squished together to make room for more people. When we pulled away from the dock, we could see that the line had gotten even longer. We made it back to our room in one piece and youíll never guess what we did. Got ready for bed, turned on ďLate Night with David LettermanĒ and we were soon asleep.

Day 6 5-13
The Plan: Epcot, PS Le Cellier 6:30

The Reality: For once Stephen and I got up early enough to make park opening. We got to Epcot just as everyone was entering the gates. We stopped to get our picture made by a CM photographer in front of Space Ship Earth. I felt like famous person, she marched Stephen and I right up front, shooed people off the wall so weíd have a space and got in front of other people trying to pictures. I would be frustrated if I were trying to take a picture of my family, but for us it was great.

After our photo shoot, we walked over to Test Track to get fasspasses. We had a while until our fasspass time, so we wandered over to Mission: Space to see if there was a wait. The sign posted said 5 minutes, it was more like 15, but still not a bad wait at all. We got in our capsules with another young couple and made it to Mars. I guess weíre still on Mars, since we never came back. I canít believe Gary Sinise would do that to us! Leave us on the Red Planet like that. Oh well. We still had some time before Test Track, so we walked over to Ellenís Energy Adventure.

I love Ellen DeGeneres, I think she is a riot and she completely makes this ride. I wanted to take a little nap on this ride; itís so dark and cool in there. Itís a good thing those seats donít have headrests on them, or I think everyone would be snoozing away. We made our way over to Test Track next. Another great ride, this time we left right after the ride and didnít hang around in GM Central. We still had about a half an hour before World Showcase was supposed to open, so we walked through Innoventions (I hate Innoventions, but Stephen thinks itís the best thing ever) and then sat on a bench down by Ice Station Cool to apply sunscreen. The sun was beating down and it was warm today, I didnít put on any sunscreen that morning and my shoulders were getting a little pink. It was finally 11:00 and we could get back to World Showcase.

We stopped to snap some pictures across the lagoon on the platform, since no one was there yet. We used our timer and got some great shots of us with the different pavilions behind us. Our stomachs were rumbling, so we went search of food, more specifically fish and chips. We got over to Yorkshire County Fish & Chips, the windows were closed up, we stood around for a few minutes with a group of hungry people, until a CM stuck his head out and told us they didnít open until noon. It was already 11:30 by then, so we decided to walk over to Canada and take pictures, come back to the United Kingdom, take pictures and by then it should be noon. It was so nice being in a pretty much empty World Showcase. After our tour of Canada and the UK, we sat on the benches back in the UK, by the rose garden and soaked up the atmosphere and sun. A song that I love started playing and we could hear every note because no one was around. I need to find out what that song is, I always hear it in the UK pavilion, itís played on the sax and itís a song Iíve heard other places. If anyone knows what that is, please let me know!

It was finally noon, so we got in line at Yorkshireís and ordered 2 fish and chips, a Diet Coke for a me and a regular Coke for Stephen. Stephen was mad because he usually drinks iced tea, but the only tea available in the UK is hot tea. We took our lunch to a table in front of the Rose & Crown Pub and had a very nice meal. We sat and people watched for a few minutes and then got up to let someone else use our table and to continue around the World Showcase. We didnít have any plans in particular during this time, just took our time looking around. We ended up in the American Adventure pavilion where we bought 2 ice cream bars for dessert. While we were enjoying dessert, we saw the character bus coming out from back stage. The characters started waving at Stephen and I and blowing kisses, as we were the only ones who could see them. I blew a kiss to Mickey Mouse; a guy walking along didnít see the characters and thought I was blowing a kiss at him. We ate our ice cream as we quickly followed the bus around the World Showcase. It was already Thursday and I hadnít met Mickey yet. The bus made a stop in Japan and we were second in line (you know I ran in front of a group of kids, Iím shameless ) and Stephen and I posed with the Mouse. I gave Mickey a quick kiss on the nose and we walked back to the American Adventure.

We made it in time for Voices of Liberty and watched their set. We didnít go into the American Adventure show; we just wanted to see Voices of Liberty and American Vybe. After VoL, we sat in the rotunda and enjoyed the coolness of the room; it was getting warm outside! American Vybe came out next, I enjoyed seeing them perform, I always mean to buy their CD, but I always forget. We decided to wait around to see Voices of Liberty again; yes they did sing my favorite, ďOh, Shenandoah, I long to see you, away ye rolliní riverĒ. Stephen was so thrilled. We decided we better keep on moving, we didnít want the singers to think we were stalking them.

We stopped in Italy to watch a Shakespeare group perform ďThe Taming of the ShrewĒ, itís a group of CMís with the help of some guests. It was fun to watch and another reason why I love World Showcase so much. We walked into Germany and I bought my Mom some Christmas ornaments for Motherís Day at Die Weihnachts Ecke, donít ask me what that means, but itís a great Christmas shop. Stephen and I walked onto Norway for a hit of Laila, this time was extra special because Geir Ness who created Layla was in the store signing autographs.

I needed to go to Mouse Gear and do some shopping and Stephen wanted to go to Innoventions, so we split up and agreed to meet at the shop across from the entrance to Space Ship Earth to view our pictures taken earlier that day in 45 minutes. I went into Mouse Gear and got my Mom the rest of her Motherís Day present, a Walt Disney World wooden picture album. My nieceís birthday is on May 18th, so I got her a Tinker Bell shirt (very cute, it says ďLooking for Lost BoysĒ and a Princess Aurora charm for her charm bracelet, and for myself I got the 2004 scrap booking album. I was a few minutes early, but I just sat on the wall in front of the bathrooms and waited for Stephen. He was a few minutes late, but he finally got there and we went to check out our pictures. The pictures were really great and I would have bought one, if Stephenís eyes had been open! The CM took 6 pictures and his eyes were closed in every one of them. The CM who took our picture was still out there, but we decided to just leave the park and try to get our picture later.

We got back to the Villa immediately put our bathing suits on and headed for the pool. We stayed there until 5:00; we came back in and got cleaned up for our dinner at Le Cellier. We drove to Epcot and parked at the Board Walk, we were planning on going to the Fantasy Gardens to play miniature golf. We got back to Epcot at about 6:00 and walked to Canada. I love Le Cellier, it is tied for my favorite place to eat with ĎOhana.

We checked in at the podium and went inside to wait. We had a good laugh at people coming in attempting to make PS for dinner that night and being told Le Cellier and every other sit down restaurant in the World Showcase was all booked up. People were getting snotty with the CMís, I just wanted to stand up and ask why donít you make plans? We made these PSís 3 months ago. All it takes is a little bit of planning to make a vacation more fun and pleasant. Our name was called in a few minutes and we were shown to our table by a CM who was earning her ears, she told us she just got to Walt Disney World on Tuesday and that tonight was her first night working. She did a great job, and we told her so. Our waitress was out and started us off with drinks, (Diet Coke and iced tea) and 2 bowls of cheddar cheese soup. Our drinks, soup, and breadsticks were brought out shortly. For dinner I had the herb crusted Alberta prime rib with Yukon potatoes and Stephen had the 14 oz New York strip steak with Yukon potatoes. Both entrees were out of this world and for once I ate everything on my plate. We didnít order dessert, too full, and left Le Cellier happy and full.

We had about an hour until Illuminations started; we walked around World Showcase and got to our spot a few minutes before the show began. I was a little sad, this is the last time we would see Illuminations until our next trip. After Illuminations, we waited around and enjoyed Epcot at night, our last time for a few months. We walked out through the International Gateway and to the Board Walk. I called my sister, Jessica, from the Board Walk, and stomped my feet so she could hear the boardwalk. We chucked the miniature golf plan and got dessert since the Board Walk was pretty lively tonight and we both love being there. Stephen got an orange creamsicle Italian ice from the Italian Ice stand and I got cheesecake brownie from the Board Walk Bakery. After I ordered, I saw a chocolate/vanilla pretzel; I wish I had gotten that instead! I am so getting that in December. It looked awesome. And speaking of awesome, my cheesecake brownie was enormous and extremely rich. I only had about 3 bites and I was done, Stephen tried a bite and declared it too rich for him as well. I wrapped it up and took it back with me; Iíll have it for breakfast tomorrow. We sat for a little longer on the Board Walk, wishing we were staying there. We finally left and drove back to the Villas. We packed up our suitcases for tomorrowís big move to the Polynesian. Turned on ďLate NightĒ and soon fell asleep.

Day 7 5-14
The Plan: Check out VWL, Check into Polynesian, PS ĎOhana 7:00, watch Wishes from the Poly beach

Reality: Stephen and I got up bright and early and ready to move to the Polynesian. We go back and forth on which resort we love better, the Poly or the Board Walk. Iíve finally come to the conclusion that I canít choose, itís like choosing who your favorite child is; you just canít. We wanted to check in early, hopefully our room would be ready, but we werenít counting on it, and then we planned on heading to the Magic Kingdom. We finished packing up our suitcases and tried to eat the food we bought that would just have to be thrown away. We had 2 cases of water that we never opened (I told Stephen not to buy so much), we just left them in the room, and Iím hoping the mousekeepers took them, but I seriously doubt they did. We finally had everything ready to go, Stephen called to check out and we left our studio.

We pulled into the Polynesian about 9:00, we actually pulled in twice, the first time Stephen missed the self-parking and we had to go out and go back in since everything is one way. The guards at the guard shack told us that happens all the time, one good thing, I finally saw where Shades of Green is. Aloha! We were so happy to be checking into the Polynesian. Check in took about 2 seconds, of course our room wasnít ready, so we took our card to check the progress, all the papers we got at check in and took it to the car. We walked back in the Great Ceremonial House and upstairs to the monorail stop and headed for the Magic Kingdom.

We didnít really do much while in the Magic Kingdom, we had already been here a few times this trip and weíve done everything we wanted to do, most attractions we experienced more than once. We went through and did all of our favorites; we started in Tomorrowland and hit Space Mountain, Carousel of Progress and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (Stephen beat me once again). We decided to get a fasspass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, grab lunch and then see what we could do until it was time for our ride on Big Thunder. We ate at Columbia Harbor House, our favorite counter service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. We both got the ďAnchors AwayĒ meals, in English that means we got tuna fish salad sandwiches and chips. The tuna fish salad is actually pretty good here; we usually make it a point to eat at Columbia Harbor House at least once every trip. We went to the upstairs dining room, and sat in section all by ourselves until the last 10 minutes of our meal. Thatís one of the things I love about Columbia Harbor House, no matter how crazy hectic the downstairs is, the upstairs is usually quiet and empty. We sat by a window thatís above the door to the restaurant and watched people below us.

We still had some time before our fasspass, so we went to the Haunted Mansion. There was about a 20-minute wait, but we couldnít get a fasspass, so we just got in line. There was a family in front of us who were absolutely clueless. Iím assuming it was their first trip to Walt Disney World. They couldnít figure out the fasspass line and finally came to the conclusion that everyone paid for it. I couldnít take it any longer, I explained to them that fasspass is free and that anyone can get one. Stephen and I both advised them to get out of line and get one for the Haunted Mansion. They thanked us for the information and continued to waitÖin the heatÖwith a 5-year-old little boyÖand the Mom was about 7 months pregnant. Do you think we arelying? Stephen and I both figured it was a lost cause and felt better because we tried to help. Another great ride, we were stopped by mischievous spirits right in front of the Grim Reaper and a very difficult to spot hidden Mickey. Stephen wanted to take a picture of it and I wouldnít let him. I know, I know Iím a bad wife, but I knew the picture wouldnít turn out and picture taking on rides is not encouraged. The ride continued on and safely made it out of the Haunted Mansion.

It was finally time for our fasspass for Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road. We rarely ride this roller coaster in the daylight, so we saw lots of new things you canít see in the dark. Stephen and I were in the front row, yeah, and behind was a little girl and her Dad, it was obviously her first roller coaster ride. She was too cute and enjoyed the ride. Man do you get some airtime on this ride! I tried to keep my hands up in the air (like every good roller coaster enthusiast should), but I was getting thrown around so much that I had to hold on to the bar. We got off the ride in one piece, amazingly enough, and decided to check on the status of our room. It was about 2:00, so it was a little early, but we were luck and it was ready.

We took the monorail to the Poly, stopped at our car to get our luggage and continued on the Tokelau, our favorite longhouse and the one we requested. We walked in the longhouse and took the elevator up to the 2nd floor. We walked down the long hallway, our room was 2nd from the end and it looked very promising. We could see Cinderella Castle from the doors outside our room. We opened the door and weíre greeted with a beautiful sight. This is a garden room view? We had a perfect view of the Grand Floridian and could see the Castle around the corner of our room. It was the best room and the room controller must really like us a lot. We were anxious to get to the pool, so we hurried up and changed into bathing suits. We went out the door by our room, when we got downstairs, Stephen said he forgot his sunglasses, told me to wait downstairs and heíd be right back. I waited about 5 minutes outside, what could be taking so long? He came out and apologized, saying he had to use to the bathroom, we walked toward the beach, saw an empty hammock and got in. While we were lying there, we saw a wedding on Sunset Pointe, the setting was absolutely gorgeous and I was jealous, even though we honeymooned in WDW, we didnít get married here.

After a few minutes of watching a wedding of complete strangers, we got up to look for lounge chairs by the pool. We finally found 2 in the beach part, turned them around to face the lagoon and lay there and watched boaters in the water; we could see the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle across the lagoon. Wow. This is heaven, absolute heaven. After about 30 minutes of baking in the sun, we decided to hit the Volcano pool. Zero depth entries are the best ideas; I absolutely love them, if I ever dig a pool in my back yard, thatís what Iím doing. We stayed in the pool for about an hour, playing and lounging in the sun. Stephen talked me into going down the volcano pool; never again will I trust my husband. I hate going under water, feels like Iím suffocating (well, because I am), Stephen assured me that I could handle going down these water slides, you donít go under water and the pool is only 4 feet deep. Well, down the slide I go and I under the water I went. It was terrible. Stephen apologized and said he didnít realize at the Poly you go under because you donít go under at the Board Walkís pool. Whatever, Stephen, youíre mean. We finally got out of the water and laid on our chairs to dry off, it didnít take very long. Stephen wanted to rent a water mouse, so we went to do that, we took the marina out to the lagoon, down pass the Magic Kingdom, to River Country and the Wilderness Lodge. We had a great ride and saw some beautiful sights, wish I had the camera with us. We turned our water mouse back in, grabbed our stuff from our chairs and went back to the room.

We walked in the room, and there was a present sitting on the table. I looked at Stephen and he gave me a blank stare. I walked over and saw that it was a bottle of Layla perfume and Layla lotion. There was also an autographed picture of Geir Ness and the perfume bottle was autographed as well. Remember when Stephen went to Innoventions yesterday? He was really at the Puffinís Roost in Norway. Remember when he forgot his sunglasses before we went to the pool? He was really setting the perfume out. Forget what I said in the pool, he is the best husband in the world.

We both got cleaned up and we were to the Great Ceremonial House for our dinner at ĎOhaha. Yes, I was wearing my new perfume. Stephen checked us in at the podium right at 7:00 while I grabbed 2 chairs in the lounge. We were seated right by the window and spent the time waiting talking to each other and watching the people outside. Our pager went off within about 10 minutes and we met our ďcousinĒ to take us to our table. We got the same table we get everytime, right by the window overlooking the Volcano Pool, the Seaven Seas Lagoon, and the Magic Kingdom. If we were to stay for Wishes, it would be the perfect table. Our waiter came right over and took our drink orders, his assistant soon followed with the tray of food. Let the feasting begin! The appetizers consist of: vegetable and shrimp wontons (I donít eat them, but Stephen says they are delicious), stir-fried green beans (okay, they replaced stir-fried vegtables, and I liked the vegtables much better), stir-fried rice (absolutely the best rice ever, Iím not a big rice eater, and I requested seconds on the rice. Tells you something, huh?), green salad with honey lime dressing (wonderful, I get this all to myself, Stephen doesnít like ďwastingĒ good stomach space on a salad), and honey coriander chicken wings (yummy, yummy, yummy, and yummy). There is also 3 types of dipping sauces provided, a barbeque sauce, a peanut sauce, and a fruit sauce. I was starting to get full and we were still working on the appetizer! About 20 minutes into our meal, the meats made their appearance. All the meats are grilled over an open fire pit in the middle of the restaurant (I believe this is the largest indoor fire pit in the United States), they all have a mouth-watering flame-grilled taste. The waiter brought around steak, pork, turkey, and tiger shrimp, you usually start off with 2 or 3 pieces of each kind of meat, of course they bring the skewers over several times during your meal and you can ask for more than 2 pieces. Stephen took all my shrimp and steak (Iím not a big steak eater, I usually eat 1 piece of steak and Stephen takes the rest) and I took Stephenís turkey and pork. I think the turkey is my favorite and dipped in the barbeque sauceówow, dynamite! This is thebest meal on Walt Disney World property, the food is excellent, the service is suberb and the ambiance is wonderful. The waiter let us rest for a few minutes before bringing dessert out, a dessert of pineapple and caramel is included with the meal, but there are desserts that can be purchased ala carte. Iím not a big pineapple eater, so I basically just dipped the pineapple in the caramel and then ate the caramel off the pineapple. Stephen ate a couple pieces of pineapple, but we were both so full, we didnít even put a dent in it.

We finished eating around 8:30, we walked out to the beach to get a spot for Wishes. All the hammocks were taken, we went up to Sunset Pointe, but it was so windy. Stephen ran back to the room to grab a jacket for me, I needed something to block the wind. Stephen was back within a couple of minutes, he had my jacket and towel so we could sit on the sand. We found an open cabana on the beach, spread our towel out and got ready for Wishes. The was a couple in front of us with their stuff on top of a hammock, they were setting up a video camera, presumably to tape Wishes. We watched them set their camera up and soon another girl came up to us and asked if she could sit in the cabana with us. The couple was her brother and best friend, her brother was going to propose tonight. They were from Memphis I think, and she drove down to surprise her friend, her brother knew she was coming. She sat with us for a couple minutes and then she asked Stephen if he would mind walking with her so they could get closer to the couple to take pictures. If they acted like a couple, her friend probably wouldnít notice her. Stephen and the girl (she never said her name) walked over closer and she started snapping pictures. The guy got the girl right in front of the camera and proposed to her. I couldnít hear what he said, but he went down on one knee. It was very sweet and in my book, a job well done. Stephen came back over and Wishes began. So today we saw a wedding and an engagement.

After Wishes was over, we didnít feel like heading back to the room yet, so we decided to take a walk around the Polynesian grounds. We threw our towel in the towel return and started heading toward the marina. I love walking the grounds of the Poly at night with the tiki torches lit around the path. Very romantic. We wandered over to the Luau Cove and watched the luau for a couple of minutes. We continued on pass the Luau Cove and took the walkway towards the Grand Floridian. I had no idea you can walk to the Grand Floridian from the Polynesian. Learn something new every day. We saw the spa and Francís wedding shop (you know I peeked in the windows), and walked up to the pool which was closed for cleaning (the pool at the Poly was closed too, someone must have went on a bathroom rampage). We ended up going into the Grand Floridian, beautiful resort, too stuffy for me, but hey, I wouldnít turn down a stay here, just not my first pick. We took the monorail back to the Poly, well we actually took the monorail to the TTC and walked to the Poly. We were back in our room and were in bed shortly. Iím sure we fell asleep watching ďLate Show with David LettermanĒ.

Day 7 5-15
The Plan: Epcot in morning/afternoon, PS Alfredoís 2:00, Magic Kingdom for evening & Wishes

Reality: Our last full day in Walt Disney World. ? We decided to sleep in and not to rush off to the parks. When we stay at the Poly, we like to stay pretty close to the resort, it is so relaxing just being there. We decided that we werenít in the mood for Alfredoís, Iím sure itís a very good restaurant, we just didnít feel like Italian. We decided to make a PS for San Angel Inn for lunch. I know we have already eaten here once this trip, but itís one of our favorite places. Once we booked our PS, we rolled out of bed and took our time getting ready. We finally left the room, walked to the TTC, and took the monorail into Epcot.

Once we got into Epcot, we pretty much walked straight to Mexico and into San Angel Inn. Stephen checked us in at the podium and we had a short wait to be paged. We followed the host into a new section (for us) of the restaurant, across the room from where we normally sit, the line of booths on the left hand wall. We were the only people in that section, I donít think we were supposed to be seated there. We waited probably 10 minutes before our waiter came to take our drink order. He looked confused when he walked over and there we were. Once he realized we were there, we were quickly waited upon. Stephen and I both ordered the plato mexicano, it was good, but I like the nachos de pollo better and I think I will order that from now on. I donít know how it started, or who started it, or quite honestly what it was about, but Stephen and I got into a nice little argument. We didnít speak through lunch or dessert (of course we ordered the chocolate chimichanga, it doesnít matter how big the fight is, you gotta have dessert ). Because of that, the meal wasnít that great, but it wasnít San Angel Innís fault, it was ours. We left the restaurant and Mexico and took one last tour of the World Showcase. It was a very quiet tour, since we were still not speaking to each other (it must have been a heck of a disagreement, but neither one of us can remember what it was about). Somewhere in Future World we started talking and all was well in the Fulkerson family. I think it was having to leave tomorrow that caused the problem.

We made it back to the room, Stephen took a nap while I read my In Style magazine I started on the plane ride down. I called my Mom and rubbed in that I was at the Polynesian, sitting on my balcony, looking at The Grand Floridian. I am such a brat. I woke Stephen up around 5:00 so we could make it to the Magic Kingdom for Spectro Magic and Wishes. We left our room and decided to walk to the Grand Floridian again, this time we had our camera with us. The sun was starting to set and we got some beautiful pictures of the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Seaven Seas Lagoon. We hopped on the monorail and headed for the Magic Kingdom.

The Magic Kingdom was unbelievably crowded! It must be a Saturday night. It was only 6:00 and the Main Street and the hub was already completely full with people staking their spots for the parade. We finally found spots in Liberty Square, getting close to Frontierland. Stephen left me to guard the seats while he went to get us Caseyís for dinner. I canít tell you how many people tried to take Stephenís spot, it was insane. I just spread my stuff completely out and kept saying, ďIím sorry, that seat is takenĒ. Stephen finally made it back with hot dogs, french fries, and Cokes. Caseyís is the only place in the entire world I will eat a hot dog from, I hate hot dogs, will have nothing to do with them, but I have to have Caseyís every trip. Weird, huh? A family came along and sat down next to us and we spent the time waiting talking to them. They had just gotten in that day (luckies) and the 2 little girls (about 10 and 8) were dressed in their princess costumes and they were beside themselves with excitement. The older girl tried to act like she didnít care about being there, like she was too cool for it, but once she saw the characters in the parade, her face lit up and you could see the façade drop. It was neat to watch them during the parade, to see it through kids eyes. I canít wait until Stephen and I have children and I can see the parks how they see it.

We made our way over to the (taking some short cuts in Liberty Square, around the Liberty tree) hub for Wishes once Spectro Magic was over. We got a spot to the left of the hub, past the path to Adventureland. It was a good spot and we could see Wishes perfectly. I donít need to go into great detail, this was the 5th time we saw Wishes on this trip. Iíll just say it was wonderful, like always. We stayed for the kiss goodnight and took our time walking up Main Street, saying good bye until next time, there will always be a next time. I ran into the candy shop to see if anything caught my eye, I didnít see anything, but I did see the floss machine (cotton candy machine) and flossugar (sugar to make cotton candy) for the company I work for, Gold Medal Products Inc, Disney is one of our customers. I met Stephen back on Main Street, and we slowly walked out of the park. We took the monorail back to the Polynesian, walked back to our room, packed our suitcases and we fell asleep watching ďSaturday Night LiveĒ.

Day 8 5/16
The Plan: PS at Kona Café 9:30, check out of Poly, drive to airport, fly to Indy, drive home.

The Reality: We woke up around 8:00, got ready, finished packing our bags and set them by the door. We walked over to the Great Ceremonial House and up the stairs (love all those hidden Mickeyís) to the Kona Café. We checked in at the podium at 9:15, we were told it would be a 30-45 minute waitówith a PS. We took the pager and tried to figure out if we could wait that long for breakfast. Our flight was at 1:30, we needed to be at the airport at 11:30, so we were planning on leaving property at 10:30 to give us extra time to drive and turn in our rental car. While we were deliberating, our pager lit up, so much for a 30-minute wait, it was about 5 minutes. We followed the hostess to our seats and placed our drink orders. I ordered the banana pancakes; I love the Tonga toast, but wanted to try something different. Stephen ordered the Big Kahuna breakfast platter. Our meals came out quickly and they were delicious. I couldnít believe how much food there was; of course I had some left over. I think I will order the banana pancakes from now one, while I love the Tonga toast, itís just so heavy and filling.

We walked to the News from Polynesia to look at monorail pieces; I got Stephen the monorail for Christmas. He picked out Space Ship Earth, we bought it and had it shipped home, definitely not carrying that on the plane! We walked back to our room, got our luggage and checked out. The drive to the airport was okay. And the flight home was uneventful.

Looking Back: What a terrific trip, the most relaxing trip we had to Walt Disney World, all thanks to the evening extra magic hours. We were able to sleep in and come back to the room long enough to swim and not to worry about missing park time. I hope they keep the hours around, they were wonderful.
Every place we ate was delicious; we had no bad meals, servers, or CMís in general. Trying Restaurant Marrakesh was a pleasant surprise, I never thought we would eat there, but Iím glad we were feeling adventurous and tried it. I donít think weíll eat here on every trip, but I know weíll eat here again.
The Villas of the Wilderness Lodge were very nice. The studio was a great size, the atmosphere was great (but itís more fun to stay in the actual Lodge), and it was very quiet. Of course the Polynesian was the best, there are no words to describe how amazing that resort is.

Future Trips: Stephen and I just booked a last minute trip to the World in September. We are staying at the Beach Club Villas September 29-October 3 as a pre-anniversary trip, our anniversary is October 21. Then we are going in December 11-19 with my parents and sister, Jessica, staying at the Board Walk Villas and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Krista Fulkerson

krista_fulkerson@yahoo.com


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