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Krista Fulkerson -- September/October 2004 -- Walt Disney World (BCV)


Characters

  • Stephen Fulkerson-28, WDW veteran, 9 trips
  • Krista Fulkerson-26, WDW veteran, 10 trips

How this trip came about: If thereís a day ending in ďyĒ, Stephen and I are planning a trip to Walt Disney World. Our last vacation to Walt Disney World was in May and our next vacation will be in December with my parents and sister, we returned home and were content to wait until December. That lasted for about 2 months, and we were anxious to go again. This trip is really my Momís fault; we were over at my parentís house one evening in July, Mom asked if we were going back to Disney before our trip in December. We said no, we left their house soon after, Stephen was quiet on the 15 minute drive home, when we pulled into the drive way, Stephen asked if we could squeeze another trip in this year, maybe sometime around our anniversary which is October 21. We decided that the end of October would be too close to the middle of December, so now we are going to Disney September 29-October 3.

Resort Accommodations: We are staying at the Beach Club Villas in a studio villa on points rented through a DVC member. We were hoping to stay at the Board Walk Villas, but we were very pleased to try out the Beach Club Villas. We love the Epcot resort area and having Storm-A-Long Bay will be very nice.

Passes: Stephen and I both have annual passes, so our tickets are taken care of.

Method of Transportation: Another deciding factor of this last minute trip was the airfare. Stephen had a $200 voucher from Delta because he was willingly bumped from a flight back in February, he also had frequent flyer miles. We booked one ticket through his frequent flyer miles and on the other ticket, we used the voucher. For the both of us to fly out of Cincinnati, direct to Orlando, it cost us $120. Pretty incredible deal. One side note, it was actually less miles to book a first class ticket than a ticket in coach, so Iím flying first class and Stephen is flying coach. I feel bad for him, really I do. We are flying out Wednesday September 29 at 4:14pm and arriving in Orlando around 6:00-6:30pm.

Once we get into Orlando, we are using Tiffany Town Car to take us to the Beach Club. We have used Tiffany 4 times and we have never had a problem. Their drivers are always extremely courteous and polite and on time. The only times we have not used Tiffany was when we rented our own car.

General Plans:

  • Wednesday 9/29-Stephen working half day, Iím working until 1:30, Stephen picking me up at work and driving to the airport. Leave CVG at 4:14, arrive MCO around 6:00, using Tiffany Town Car to Beach Club Villas. Check-in to studio villa; go to Epcot, dinner at counter service or corn dog kiosk on the Board Walk.
  • Thursday 9/30-Magic Kingdom, PS at ĎOhana 6:00, back to Magic Kingdom for Wishes
  • Friday 10/1-Epcot, lunch at either International Food and Wine Festival or counter service, PS at Le Cellier 6:00
  • Saturday 10/2-Maybe MGM for extra magic hour, then Epcot, PS at San Angel Inn 1:30.
  • Sunday 10/3-check-out BCV, Epcot, PS at Alfredoís 1:00 or ESPN Club to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals game. Stephen and I are both huge Steelers fans (go Hines Ward!!), and since we live in Cincinnati, weíre not sure we can miss this game! Plus Stephen made a bet with his boss, if Steelers win, his boss has to wear a Steelers hard hat every day for a week every time he gets up from his desk. If the Bengals win, Stephen has to wear Mickey Mouse ears every day for a week; a lot was riding on this game. Fly home at 7:05.

So, we have a month until we leave, all we have to do is wait, oh and plan our December trip. Waiting is the worst part...

Day 1-Wednesday 9/29

The Plan: Stephen working half day, Iím working until 1:30, Stephen picking me up at work and driving to the airport. Leave CVG at 4:14, arrive MCO around 6:00, using Tiffany Town Car to Beach Club Villas. Check-in to studio villa; go to Epcot, dinner at counter service or corn dog kiosk on the Board Walk.

Reality: It is so hard working the day you leave for vacation. Thankfully I was busy, so the time went by fairly quickly. Stephen pulled into the parking lot at 1:28 and I was out the door by 1:30. The drive to the airport was okay, traffic was heavy, which was surprising for a Wednesday afternoon, but we got there a little before 2:00, parked our car in long term parking and waited for the shuttle. It was so chilly today, the high at home was in the 60ís, canít wait to get to Florida and warm up!

Stephen and I made it into the airport and checked in using the self-check kiosk. Wow was the line for security long! I think we waited 20 minutes just to get to the point where they put you into the metal detector lines. Since I had a first class ticket, I could have made it through security much quicker, but I decided I would be nice and wait in line with my husband. Once we got to the metal detector, and practically undressed to get through them, everything went quickly. By this time it was about 2:40 and we still had an hour before our plane started boarding. We were starving, so decided to look for something for lunch. We found a Wolfgang Puck Express right next to our gate, which sounds like a great way to start our vacation. Lunch was great (we split a bbq chicken quesadilla and a margarita pizza), and since Wolfgang Puck has an affiliation with Walt Disney World, it was like getting a taste of our vacation.

By the time we ate lunch, bought magazines and used the facilities, it was time to board the plane. As soon as I heard now boarding zone 1, I was out of there. The flight was okay, but really long, for some reason the pilot looped us around Orlando and we came in on the south side, my seat mate, who is from Orlando, thought maybe he did that to keep everyone from seeing all the houses with the blue tarps from the hurricanes. I donít know how true that theory is. We did see lots of traces of Charley, Frances, and Jeanne; you could tell where trees were down and of course the blue tarps on the rooftops. It made me feel bad that Stephen and I are coming to Florida for vacation and to have a good time and here are all the residents who lost so much. I felt better knowing that we were helping Floridaís economy.

We finally landed at 6:20 and made our way to baggage claim. How fun is it to come down the escalators and see your name on a card being held up by a driver? Makes you feel famous. We met our driver Masood from Tiffanyís (by the way, he was wonderful, I would highly recommend him) and waited for our luggage to come out, thankfully we were near the front of the bunch and we were on our way to the Beach Club Villas. On the drive over we saw some heavily damaged hotels caused by the hurricanes and again lots of trees down and water in places where water should not be. Finally we drove through the Walt Disney World gates and once again Stephen and I were back home. We waved hello to the BoardWalk as we drove past it and shortly (as in seconds) pulled into the gates of the Beach Club. Stephen grabbed our suitcase (after paying Masood and reconfirming our pick up time), I grabbed our carry on and we made our way to the front desk. Check in went smoothly and since it was 7:00, our villa was ready-this is a first for us, we usually check-in in the early afternoon and of course our room is not ready yet.

It was interesting finding the Villas, the CM who checked us gave us directions on how to get there, but it still was like going through a maze. Of course by the 2nd day, we could walk there blind folded. Our room number was 543, it was a great location and we had a nice view. We could see the Tower of Terror in the distance from our balcony, but we were partially behind a tree line, which gave us a little bit of privacy. The studio was awesome, with the Little Mermaid bedspread and throw pillow, I wanted to steal one for my sister Jessica, who loves Ariel, but Stephen wouldnít let me. I looked all over the bedspread and shower cutain, but I couldnít find any hidden Mickeyís. Arenít there any in the Beach Club? Maybe I didnít look hard enough. The rest of the room was beautiful and comfy. This is the first hotel I have been in where the chairs by the little table are actually soft enough to sit in and enjoy sitting there. My favorite piece in the room was the television armoire, the wood was distressed, then painted cream and the doors were accented with a blueish-sage green. I loved it. The only thing I missed from the Villas of the Wilderness Lodge were the cubbyholes underneath the bathroom sink, they was perfect for keeping toiletries in. There was a ledge under the mirror in this studio where I kept all my hair products, (like I needed any, it was so hot and muggy that I wore my hair in a ponytail the entire time) perfume, lotions, etc. All in all Stephen and I were both very pleased with the Beach Club Villas, now the Board Walk Villas have a little bit of competition.

We were anxious to get into the parks and to eat dinner, so we changed out of jeans and into shorts and made our way to Epcot. I was really looking forward to eating a corn dog from the kiosk at the BoardWalk. Iíve heard they are delicious, but I didnít feel like walking all the way over there and then back to Epcot; so as soon as we walked in the Epcot gates, we turned toward England to get some yummy fish and chips. There was a long line at the Yorkshire County Fish and Chips, but the CMís were efficient and we were waited on within a few minutes. We got 2 orders of fish and chips, a Diet Coke (for me) and an iced tea (Stephen is so glad they have iced tea here now, the last time we ate here in May, all they had was hot tea). We walked to our favorite Illuminations viewing spot, between the International Gateway bridge and France, spread napkins out to sit on and enjoyed our dinner. By the time we finished eating, it was a couple minutes after 8:00, we didnít want to sit around and just wait for Illuminations, so we decided to take a stroll around the World Showcase. We didnít go into any pavilions; we made it to Mexico and turned around to come back towards the countries. We stopped in Norway at the Kringla Bakeri og Kafé and ordered a kringle ďpretzelĒ, a sweet pretzel with almonds, raisins, and icing. It was awesome, it tasted a lot like a cinnamon roll. I think I have found my new favorite snack, I think Iíll have 2 or 12 of these things in December. It was a couple minutes until 9:00 so we found a spot along the wall in Germany and watched Illuminations while eating our snack.

Epcot was empty tonight. We took our time walking back to the International Gateway. I wish I had brought my camera with me; we walked past empty pavilions that would have been perfect for picture taking. We made it back to our room; we were going to go back out on the BoardWalk, but decided to just go swimming in the quiet pool. The water was too cold for me, so I sat on the side of pool while Stephen swam. Stephen suggested that I get in the hot tub, but ever since I read an article on public hot tubs last year and the amount of germs in them, I wonít get in one. I was content to sit on the edge with my feet in the pool until Stephen was finished swimming. We went back to our villa, stopping on the way at the Atlantic Wear and Wardrobe Emporium for a jug of orange juice and box of donuts ($7.00 for both-ouch!!). We both took showers when we got back in the studio (I just canít go to bed after Iíve been swimming). Stephen fell asleep on the bed reading the resort info and I stayed up and read my book (Vanity Fair) for a few minutes before setting the Mickey wake-up call for 8:45 and going to sleep.

Day 2-Thursday 9/30
The Plan: Magic Kingdom, PS at ĎOhana 6:00, back to Magic Kingdom for Wishes.

Reality: Stephen woke me up early, I think right at 8:00; I was so Ďthrilledí to be awake before the alarm went off. Can you tell which one of us is a morning person? It took me a minute to wake up, Stephen got in the shower and I went to sit on the balcony. Everything was quiet and very peaceful; this is one advantage over the hustle and bustle of the BoardWalk. Sometimes you want excitement and sometimes peace and quiet is a good thing. One thing I noticed, when I was on the balcony, is that you can catch a glimpse of the road that connects the Epcot resort area, I donít know if this is a result of the hurricanes knocking down so many trees or what.

I got in the shower once Stephen was finished. We got ready quickly and left the villa at a quarter till 9:00 (which is when Iím supposed to just be getting up grrrÖ). We walked down to the bus stop and walked up just as the bus for the Magic Kingdom got there. Perfect timing. I figured we would have to go to the Yacht Club, BoardWalk, Swan and Dolphin, but we drove straight to the Magic Kingdom. Very nice. I was a little worried about crowds today, it was the extra magic hour for the Magic Kingdom and historically those are the busiest days. My worries were for nothing, the park was empty. We made it through security quickly and were soon walking down Main Street, U.S.A. looking at Cinderellaís Castle. Iím so glad that I had sunglasses on; I got teary-eyed seeing the castle and watching the show they perform on Main Street. I donít know what my problem was; I guess it was just being back here. Iím thankful that Stephen and I are fortunate enough to be able to go several times a year. I know not every one is so lucky.

After watching the show, we walked over to the tip board to see what the wait times were. They were all minimal; I think the longest was 15 minutes for Space Mountain. We decided to head left towards Adventureland and Pirates of the Caribbean. On the way over, I found a cart that had the cutest stuffed Dory that I meant to go back and get for my niece Shelby, she loves Dory and itís hard to find Dory merchandise. Of course, I forgot, Iíll have to get that in December. Pirates was a complete walk-on, we didnít stop walking until we made it to the boat dock. I told Stephen that George, a CM that worked on the ride, supposedly haunts Pirates of the Caribbean. He appreciated me telling him that bit of information as we were floating past the skeleton in the sand. I looked for signs of George, since there werenít many people on the ride, but I didnít notice anything paranormal. Since I have ridden Pirates more times that I can count, I decided to just pay attention to the background of the ride (I did this quite a bit this trip). I noticed so many things I had never seen before. The detail Disney puts into their attractions never ceases to amaze me.

Just for kicks, we walked over to Splash Mountain after we got off of Pirates, I was expecting to see a wait and we were planning to get our FastPasses. To our delight, the wait was listed at 5 minutes (it takes that long to walk through the queue) and the FastPass machines werenít even operating. We walked up to our log and began our adventure with Brer Rabbit. The people in the log with us were first timers, at any little hill they started screaming, thinking it was THE hill. It was funny to listen to them, I just wanted to turn around and say, ďYou ainít seen nothing yetĒ. Really, the drop isnít that bad, it looks much worse than it really is. We didnít get too wet on Splash Mountain, but I did get a mouthful of that stinky water. Gross!! After Splash, we continued around Frontierland and got in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The wait was posted at 10 minutes, that seemed long to us, compared to the rest of the park! We made it through the line quickly and took our seat in the front of the train. Something was different about this time, I think we were on another set of tracks, does Big Thunder have 2 tracks? Everytime we ride this, I get in the car first and Iím on the left hand side of the track. This time I got in first and I was on the right hand side of the track. Very interesting. It was a nice change of pace to get to see some different scenery.

We survived Big Thunder and made our way back towards Liberty Square. I asked Stephen what time it was (I donít wear a watch on vacation), thinking it was close to noon. My jaw dropped when he said it was 10:40. 10:40!! We had already watched a show on Main Street and rode 3 rides, 2 of them considered to be the biggest rides on property all in 40 minutes. I couldnít believe it. We decided that we wanted to eat lunch early because a). We were both getting hungry and b). We were eating dinner at ĎOhana tonight and we wanted to be good and hungry for that. We decided to ride the Haunted Mansion, go into Fantasyland and hit Peter Pan and Mickeyís PhilharMagic and eat lunch at The Pinocchio Village Haus.

The Haunted Mansion was a complete walk-on, even with a family that was apparently so excited to ride the ride; they felt they could cut in front of about 5 or 6 people. It didnít really matter, since we all got in the Mansion, just a little rude in my opinion. Stephen and I lucked out and we were facing the wall that opened, so we were first to get on the doom buggies. A great ride and the first ride in a long time when it didnít stop for either mechanical problems or to load a wheel chair guest. We got off the ride (waving hello to Emilyís ring) and walked into Fantasyland. It doesnít matter how empty the rest of the park is, Fantasyland is always packed!! We stopped to get FastPasses for Peter Panís Flight (a must!) and walked down to Mickeyís PhilharMagic. A show had just started, so we had a little bit of a wait, but we waited inside the building, so it was air-conditioned. Finally the doors opened and we could enter the concert hall. The CMís were being very aggressive about the guests going all the way down to the end of the row before taking a seat. They were actually calling people out and telling them to move down (ďLady in the blue shirt, please move all the way downĒ), I thought it was great. Of course the show was wonderful, especially the apple pie smell- it made me even hungrier! My favorite part though is Aladdin and Jasmine flying on the magic carpet, it looks so real. All too soon the attraction was over and we made our way out to the blazing sun. Since it wasnít time for our FastPass, we decided to go ahead and eat lunch. Pinocchioís was empty; I guess it was still pretty early in the afternoon for the lunch crowds. I got a cheeseburger, fries and a Diet Coke (I am so addicted to that stuff) and Stephen got a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and an iced tea. Of course we made cheese fries using the cheese sauce on the topping bar, and I put sautéed onions on my burger. We found a table by the windows that over look ďitís a small worldĒ, the windows were blacked out, but we found cracks in the paint that we looked through to see the progress of the ride. Everything was completely gutted, Iíll be anxious to see it once the ride re-opens in May. Back to lunch, it was great! The burger was awesome, it had a grilled taste to it and the cheese fries were so yummy. I guess weíll be eating here in December; this is Stephenís new favorite counter service in the Magic Kingdom. My sister, Jessica, will be ecstatic as she loves Pinocchioís. You know I called her while we were eating to rub it in. She was in class, so I left message on her cell phone.

After lunch we walked over to Peter Panís Flight to turn in our FastPass, we got in line, but something happened and the ride shut down. From what we could tell, someone had dropped something on the track, so it was nothing serious, we were being told the ride would be down for at least 15 minutes. We decided to ditch the ride and come back later. We tried to give our FastPasses away, but we couldnít find a party of 2 to give them to. We cut through Fantasyland, by the tea cups and came into Tomorrowland, I have to say, in all my trips to Walt Disney World, I donít know if I knew you could do that. Learn something new every day. I tried to get Stephen to ride the tea cups, he said no way.

Tomorrowland was empty, both Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear were walk-ons. We headed for Space Mountain first, there was no line, we walked through the entire queue (itís been a long time since weíve done that) and walked right up to the rockets. We rode on the left side, which in my opinion is the best side. Stephen made me promise to keep my hands down the entire ride. He seems to think Iíll crack my wrist on an I-beam. I did my usual screaming at the other passengers to scare them. Itís even better to scream at the people on the Tomorowland Transit Authority (TTA), it really freaks them out, but none were driving by us. Shucks. After Space Mountain, we went on the TTA and had a very relaxing ride around Tomorrowland. I did think about screaming at the people on Space Mountain, but I thought better of it.

We were both ready to leave the park and head back to the resort for a swim, Storm-A-Long Bay was calling our name. In the Hub, we saw all the characters out, we got in line to meet Mickey Mouse. I asked the CM standing there if she thought we had enough time to meet him, I know a soundtrack plays for the character greetings and they base how much is left by what song is playing. She said as long as everyone was ready to meet him, weíd be okay. Of course we were in the slow line, people were having him sign 6 or 7 autograph books and then huge groups were taking individual pictures, pretty much being inconsiderate to those behind them, you know the type Iím talking about. The CM came over and said she didnít think weíd make the cutoff, so we got out of line and left the park. The bus came quickly and we were back at our studio and into our bathing suits in record time.

I canít believe how big Storm-A-Long Bay is, itís huge! I donít really understand how there can be a problem with overcrowding, everywhere you look there is a lounge chair. I donít think Stephen and I even made it around the whole pool. I guess in the summer it gets pretty full, but if thereís so many people there that you canít even find a place to sit down, why would you even want to be there? Stephen and I found 2 chairs in the sand, which seemed like a good idea until we came back with wet feet. We put our stuff down and got in the water. How awesome is this pool? Sand bottoms? Moving currents? A lazy river? You could make a vacation out of just coming to Storm-A-Long Bay. We spent an hour just playing around in the pool, enjoying the warm water and the beautiful day. I got out first and went to lay out for a little while, itís vacation, I gotta work on my tan! Stephen went down the slide a couple of times and actually went swimming in the deep part of the pool. After a while, he came over to join me, I was just about asleep when he walked up, splashed water on my leg and scared me half to death. Men! Stephen laid down on his lounge chair and we talked for a few minutes, before both dozing off. After about 30 minutes, the sun was getting too intense, so we both got up and got back in the water to cool down. We only had a couple more minutes before we had to head back to the room to get ready for our dinner at ĎOhana, so we got out, dried off and made our way back.

We had forgotten that we changed our PS from 6:00 to 5:40, it was a good thing Stephen glanced at our plans. We had even less time to get ready. We both took quick showers and got ready to leave in record time. Stephen had a brillant idea that we would walk through Epcot and take the Monorail to the TTC and take the Resort Monorail to the Polynesian. That would have been okay, except we were running late and we were wearing sandals that are not only hard to walk fast in, but were killing our feet, and we didnít realize just how big Epcot is when youíre in a hurry. This was not one of his better ideas. By the time we made it to the Monorail station, my feet were killing me, I was hot and because of the humidity my hair felt like a giant fuzz ball. And the night had only just begun. One good thing however (because we had just missed the Monorail to the TTC) was that we were the first people on the platform and we were able to ride in the front of the Monorail. We had a great driver who was very talkative, he showed us some of the damage that the hurricanes had done. We pulled into the Monorail station and had to walk all the way down and around to catch the Resort Monorail. We could have just walked across the TTC and into the Poly, but we were too tired from our jog through Epcot. We had to wait a couple of minutes for the Monorail, but it came and we got on and finally made to the Polynesian. I love everything about the Polynesian, the atmosphere, the theming, the relaxing feeling, the smells (especially the smell of the lobby), the sounds, and the tiki-lit pathways. It is a very romantic resort and Stephen and I both love staying here.

Stephen went to check us in at the podium (we made it just in time), and I sat down on in the Tambu Lounge. The Lounge was empty, so I didnít feel bad that we were going to be sitting there and not ordering any drinks or appetizers. If the Lounge was full and people were trying to order things, we would have waited somewhere else. Stephen came over with the pager and we had a short wait, maybe 10-15 minutes. Just long enough to give us time to catch our breath, cool down, and set our timer to take a couple of pictures of us. Our pager lit up and we were so ready to eat at ĎOhana. Our ďcousinĒ (at ĎOhana, we are all family) took us over to get our Hawaiian bread and then over to our table. We were both very disappointed when we saw where our table was, we were seated in the side room off the main dining room. We didnít get to see any of the coconut races or the hula contest and we basically felt like we werenít part of the restaurant. Itís a good thing we werenít planning on watching Wishes from here. We got over our disappointment pretty quickly once our server returned with our drinks and appetizers. Wow is this meal fantastic! I think my favorite thing is the honey-coriander wings, or maybe the green salad with honey lime dressing. It really is a tough decision, itís so hard to pick a favorite. There are 3 other items on the appetizer tray, vegetable and shrimp won tons, which I donít eat because I donít like shrimp, and stir-fry green beans, these are okay, but not nearly as good as the stir-fry vegetables they replaced and stir-fry rice, which is awesome. I think we got refills on the chicken wings and rice, so I guess those are Stephenís favorites too. Itís so nice with everything being all-you-can-eat, the servers (every table has 2) are constantly coming around to check if you need extra of anything. After about 20 minutes, the servers starts bringing the fire-grilled meats around. The meats consisted of tiger shrimp, pork, sirloin steak, and turkey and they are all very, very good. I donít consider myself a huge meat eater, I eat meat, but I donít have to have meat, Iím perfectly content eating a veggie meal. But there is just something about ĎOhana that turns me into a carnivore, and do I eat meat here! My favorite is the turkey, it is so tender and moist and when itís dipped in barbeque sauce, it so out of this world. The pork is really good too, I like to dip it in the barbecue sauce as well. I usually only eat one piece of the steak, Iím not a huge steak eater, but I dip that in the peanut sauce, it gives it a little zippy taste, try it, itís really good. Stephen and I usually trade meats, I donít eat shrimp, so I give him all of mine (itís his favorite) and since the turkey is my favorite, he gives me all of that. Heíll usually eat 1, maybe 2 pieces of pork, and I get the rest and I eat 1, maybe 2 piece of steak, and he gets the rest. Itís a pretty sweet deal.

We were both completely stuffed from our meat smorgasbord, but of course, here comes dessert. The dessert that comes with the meal is pineapple and caramel dipping sauce. There is an ala cart dessert menu that has 5 or 6 different things, but weíre always too full to order a separate dessert. I donít know if I have seen anyone actually order a separate dessert, other than the kids getting the sand bucket full of sno cones. I donít really care much for pineapple, itís not my favorite, so I use my pineapple to get caramel and then I eat the caramel off of the pineapple chunk. We had to rest a few minutes before getting up and heading to the Magic Kingdom.

When we walked out to the Monorail station, the CM member there told us that there was a pyrotechnic conference going on and tonight they were going to showcase some new fireworks on the Seven Seas Lagoon. The Monorail was going to be shut down from 9:30-11:00 during the show, we were trying to figure out a way to get back over to the Poly to see the fireworks, but decided it would be too much of a hassle. The Monorail came and we were on our way to the Magic Kingdom. The park looked beautiful tonight, the sun had just set, but it wasnít quite dark yet and the lights were on, to me twilight is the best time of day in Walt Disney World. We had about an hour before Wishes started, so we decided to head to Tomorrowland, neither Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear had a wait, so went on Space Mountain first. After Space Mountain, we walked over to Buzz and again Stephen beat my behind. Whatever I used to hit and max my score out on, Iím having a hard time finding again . I thought it was battery packs on the ceiling, but I canít find them anymore. Maybe they were taken down during the last rehab? Who knows, but I need to find a new plan of attack.

It was about 10 til 8:00 and we made our way to the Hub for Wishes. I tried calling my Mom and Dad so they could hear Wishes but the phone just rang. Their loss. Wishes was as fabulous as always, a definite improvement over Fantasy in the Sky, I love it so much. The music in it is so moving, just hearing it makes my eyes get teary. My favorite part? Peter Pan, of course, ďI wish, I wish we never had to grow up! Off to Neverland. ď I couldnít agree with him more.

We took our time leaving the Magic Kingdom, waiting for some of the crowds to disperse and get on their way. Normally this is a good idea, not such a great idea tonight. Remember the pyrotechnic convention? Well because of that, the CMís were practically pushing people out of the park, Iím guessing for safety reasons they didnít want anyone near the Magic Kingdom and also the Monorail was scheduled to close. We went into the Emporium to look around and the CMís were actually telling people to leave (thatís the first time I have ever seen that), they roped off all the different sections of the store and you werenít allowed to go in between the rooms. I heard one CM tell a lady that they were closed, she would have to get her souveniors another day. That surprised me, but I guess they had to get people out of there, and that was the only way to get them out. We left the park, I was going to have to shop later, but for us it was no big deal, as we still have 2 full days in the park. The crowds waiting for the buses were enormous. Once the bus came, it was standing room only. One highlight for me was the bus ride back, I had this guyís butt in my face the entire time and then he lost his balance and fell on me. It was good times.

We got back to the room and Stephen wanted to go swimming again, I didnít really want to, it was too cold for me, plus I didnít really want to take 3 showers in one day. I ended up just taking my book and sitting by the pool. The entire trip I wanted to read in the parlor at the Beach Club, the room you walk through on the way to the quiet pool. I never wanted to be the only one in there reading like a dork, so I never took advantage of the room, but it looked like a great place to read: quiet, comfy, and well-lit. After Stephen was finished, we walked back to the studio and (after stopping at the grocery store--$3 for a 2 liter of Coke!!!) went to bed.

Day 3-Friday 10/1
The Plan: Epcot, lunch at either International Food and Wine Festival or counter service, PS at Le Cellier 6:00

Reality: Today is the day weíve been waiting for-the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. We have both been so excited about this since we found out the festival was scheduled during our vacation. We looked on the Internet at the possible booths (today was the first day of the festival), every thing looked so good. We decided that we would share everything so we could feast around the World and not get too full too quickly.

We got into Epcot at park opening, and headed straight for Test Track and Mission: Space. We got a FastPass for Test Track, but certainly didnít need it. We walked over to Mission: Space and walked right on, our pre-show room was only half full and Stephen and I were the ones in our pod. It was great! Mission: Space was awesome as always, and no we didnít get sick. We both pushed the buttons for the 2 empty seats and had a great flight. After our ride, we made a video and sent it to Stephenís co-workers, I know, what were we thinking? I guess they had a field day with that one! After Mission: Space, we walked over to Test Track, they switched the line for the stand-by and the FastPass. The CM started to point us in the right direction, but just told us to keep the FastPasses and wait; stand-by was only 5 minutes. Nice. We marched right up to the screening room, saw the pre-show and the doors opened to a mess. Apparently Test Track had gone down and all the screening rooms were getting out at the same time. You had to kind of fight for your place in line, although everyone I saw was being courteous and keeping parties and families together. Once we made it past all the rooms, we had a 15-minute wait for the ride to get back up. Once the glitch was worked out, it was smooth sailing. I enjoy Test Track much more now that I have the phrase ďthrill rideĒ out of my head. I guess to some itís a thrill ride, but to me it isnít. Either way, itís a fun little ride and the outside loop does get your blood pumping, especially on a warm day when you can smell the rubber tires burning.

It still wasnít time for World Showcase to open, so we went on Spaceship Earth. There was actually a line here, can you believe it? And when we were loading, they were filling every available space, instead of a party of 2 being in the car alone. I was shocked. It made me nervous about the lines at the food booths, but they were all fine, I guess everyone in the park wanted to ride Spaceship Earth at the same exact time. It was another wonderful ride, I hope this attraction is around forever; I would be heartbroken if it was ever taken out.

We had a few minutes before World Showcase was set to open, so we went into Ice Station Cool to try our hand at tricking unsuspecting tourists into trying Beverly. No takers this time. Stephen tried some different drinks, but I passed, if itís not the real Coke, then I donít want it. It was finally 11:00 and The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was open for business. We decided to start in Mexico and work clock wise around the lagoon. Before we started feasting, we bought some drinks at the cantina in Mexico, we arenít big wine drinkers and we had to keep our palate clean. Our first stop was at the Mexico booth for a quesadilla con pollo y chorizo and a watermelon juice. We took our food over to the benches that are between Mexico and Norway, in front of the Viking ship. The quesadilla was absolutely amazing, one of my favorite foods of the festival, we were definitely off to a good start. I was worried that the chorizo would be too spicy (chorizo is Mexican sausage), but it wasnít at all, it had a great flavor to it. The cheese was very smooth and creamy and was perfect with the chorizo and the chicken. I would have liked to have another, but I didnít want to get full on the first booth. The watermelon juice was good too, but I couldnít drink more than a couple sips, itís very strong, you have to really love watermelon to drink a lot of this. It was very refreshing though and it hit the spot on the hot day. We rested on the bench in the shade for a few minutes before moving on.

We didnít see anything that caught our eye in Ireland or Scandinavia, but we decided to stop in China. Stephen loves Chinese food and I donít particularly care for it. Stephen seems to think I would love Chinese if I gave it another chance, since I like some mild Asian influences (like peanut sauce, soy sauce and teriyaki). This was me giving Chinese food a chance. We decided to split a chicken sha cha with peanut sauce. I have to admit, it was pretty good; the only bad part was that it was hard getting the chicken off of the wooden skewer. The sauce the chicken was basted in was pretty mild (I know sometimes Chinese food can be pretty spicy); I liked the hint of peanut. But can anyone tell me what a sha cha is? I would definitely get this again and I could eat the whole thing too. I guess Chinese food isnít SO bad after all.

I felt like I was being pretty brave and trying the Chinese, but I didnít think I could be brave enough to try Southeast Asia. Baby steps. We bypassed South Africa as well, although I have had the sweet potato fufu at Bomaís before, and I think itís really good. Stephen wanted to try the Australian beef with pepperberry bbq sauce in Austrialia (surprisingly enough), so we stopped to get one of those. I didnít really care much for the Austrialian beef, not because it was bad, it just didnít really appeal to me. The sauce had a definite kick to it, although not really spicy, but peppery, and I was getting tired of eating meat. I needed to find something sweet. I have a huge sweet tooth, itís amazing that I hardly ever have cavaties with all of the sweets that I eat. So you can imagine how delighted I was when I saw the Octoberfest booth and there was apple strudel with vanilla bean sauce there. The strudel was so heavenly, I didnít want to share it with Stephen and Iím sure that he didnít want to share it with me. It was so good, it made me proud to be of German heritage. I came close to licking the vanilla sauce off of the plate, but I refrained. It really was delicious. We sat on the bench by the train display and enjoyed being on vacation. I wanted to rest some more, but we pressed on.

That apple strudel must have kicked our appetites into overdrive, because when we went to Italy, we ate quite a bit. We couldnít decide between the olive bread pizza and the baked ziti with sausage and mushrooms, so we ended up getting both. I ate the majority of the pizza and Stephen ate most of the ziti. The pizza was really good and for an appetizer size, it was quite large. It didnít really taste any different than a pizza you can get at any pizza parlor, (except it was a thick, crusty bread, similar to french bread), but it was good. I liked the ziti as well, but I had to pick the mushrooms out of my bites. Youíd think we would be completely full at this point, but no, we continued on to the next booth, Regione Piemonte and nearly passed out from the enticing smells. It was a booth of Italian chocolate desserts. How can you pass that up? How can you share? We ended up getting a chocolate gianduja torte (this was Stephenís) and a chocolate bonet (that was mine). We ended up trading desserts because I didnít really care for the chocolate bonet, and Stephen didnít really care either way. The chocolate bonet was like a chocolate mousse with a honey based sauce, I liked the chocolate mousse part, but I donít care for honey. The chocolate gianduja torte was a layered chocolate cake, with chocolate filling between the layers of cake. Excellent.

We were now completely and unquestionably stuffed. I donít think I could eat another bite, even if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to eat. We stopped in the American Adventure to watch the fife and drum core perform, hearing them play gave me shivers up my spine, I could imagine being in Boston in 1776 and hearing the fife and drums play a song of victory over the fallen Red Coats. It was very moving. After the performance we went into the American theatre, hoping to find American Vybe or Voices of Liberty. No such luck, but it was so cool in there, we decided to sit down for a minute or two. Itís a good thing we did, when I opened my backpack, I discovered that the sunscreen had opened and poured out over everything in my backpack. It was a mess. Luckily I had some napkins I grabbed before we started our feasting around the World, so I started wiping everything up with those. Stephen went into the Liberty Inn to get another stack of napkins. Iím so glad my cell phone was in separate pocket of my backpack and our camera was inside of the camera bag. I would have been so mad if my phone or our camera would have been ruined by the sunscreen. It took us probably 15 minutes to get every thing cleaned up, by that time it was time for the next showing of the American Adventure. Stephen and I both love the American Adventure (especially me), so we decided to stay. Since there werenít that many people there, the CM let everyone sit wherever they wanted to. We got about half way down the row and set up camp, it was so nice and cool in there, I may have dozed off, but donít worry, Iíve seen the American Adventure many times. I like to close my eyes and just listen to the narration, especially the part with the 3 black men at the gas station during the Depression. The one man thatís playing the guitar, is such a deep bass, I think his voice is relaxing. So I close my eyes to listen to him and end up nodding off. So itís all his fault, really.

Invigorated after being in air conditioning for about an hour, Stephen and I decided to walk up to Mouse Gear. My niece had a Disney charm bracelet my Mom got her for Christmas and she lost all of her charms, so she asked me to replace all of her charms for her. I also needed to get my nephew a new Buzz Lightyear hat that he left the last time he was at the Magic Kingdom; these kids sure are forgetful. I went into Mouse Gear and Stephen went to look around in Innoventions, it took me forever to find the charms, I was getting so frustrated circling the store that I finally stopped looking for them; and started looking at baby clothes (Stephen would kill me if he knew I was drooling over them) and of course I finally found the charms. By the time I found all the ones Emily had lost, and then got Logan his Buzz hat, Stephen was back, we went to the check out and were on our way.

We decided to leave the park for the time being, we were ready for a break. On the way back to the International Gateway we stopped to get a piece of maple walnut fudge in Canada. Wow, was that good! It was extremely rich, I could never eat a whole piece by myself, but it was delicious. I had to get a Diet Coke in England (why I couldnít wait 2 seconds to drink the $3 2-liter of Coke in our room, I donít know) and we finally left Epcot. This entire vacation Stephen has been driving me crazy about going to Blizzard Beach on Saturday. I finally gave in, and we stopped at the front desk to get the tickets, once we did that, we walked over to Atlantic Wear and Wardrobe Emporium to buy beach towels. I couldnít believe it was $20 for a beach towel! We didnít really have a choice but to buy them, so we got 2 beach towels for $40-what a deal. I donít normally complain about the prices at Disney, I know itís going to be expensive, but that one did catch me off guard. From now on we know to always take beach towels with us, just in case.

When we got back in the room we had every intention of going to Storm-A-Long Bay, but that bed looked so inviting. We laid down for just a minute, which of course turned into 2 hours. I woke up before Stephen, at about 4:00 and read my book while I let him sleep for a few more minutes. I woke Stephen up at 5:00 so we could get ready to eat at Le Cellier, youíd think after all that snacking that weíd be full, but I always have room for Le Cellier. Itís tied with ĎOhana as my favorite place to eat. Coming to Walt Disney World and not eating at Le Cellier just feels wrong. We walked over to Canada and checked in at the podium, we had about a 15 minute wait, but it was a nice wait. It had cooled off a little bit, so we waited outside by the re-creation of the Butchart gardens. Our pager soon lit up and we followed the CM to our table. We were seated next to a large party (it looked like 2 or 3 families) with lots of little kids, you can imagine the mess they made. Thankfully, they were just about finished and left soon after we were seated. Donít get me wrong, I love kids. I teach 2nd grade Sunday School and Iím used to being around kids (we have 6 nieces and nephews); but I hate being seated next kids who are out of control and the parents refuse to do anything about it or are so caught up in something else, they are paying attention to what the kids are doing. It just ruins it for everybody, thankfully that wasnít the case this time.

Our waitress came over as soon as we sat down and took our drink orders. Our waitress did an excellent job, she was extremely pleasant, very thorough, and paid attention to anything we needed or might need. As soon as you took your last drink, there she was with a new one, as soon as the last bite was eaten, she grabbed the plate to get it out of the way, she was wonderful. Stephen and I both started with the cheddar cheese soup (the best soup ever, especially with the preztel breadsticks). I ordered the herb-crusted prime rib and Stephen got the NY strip, both entrees were fabulous and we ate every single bite. Iíd love to have some of their prime rib right now, itís wonderful. Weíre coming here in December for lunch with my parents and sister, Iím going to try to eat a lunch size portion, but I may have to break down and get prime rib. We rested for a few minutes before getting up and leaving the restaurant, I was so full, I could barely walk, but it was so worth it.

We had a couple hours until Illuminations, we decided to head into Future World to see what the lines looked like. We both vetoed Mission: Space, since we were so full from dinner, Test Track had a wait and we didnít feel like waiting. We walked over to Spaceship Earth and got on that (yeah, 3 times in 1 trip), it was a complete walk-on and a relaxing ride. After our time travel, we walked back to World Showcase to enjoy our favorite part of Walt Disney World during our favorite time of the day. I had been looking forward to getting something sweet from one of the food and wine booths, but there was no way I could eat one more thing. Stephen and I browsed around World Showcase until about 8:45, when we went to get a spot for Illuminations. Weíve seen the show so many times and since weíre only in Epcot for 2 nights, we decided to not stake out a spot, but to find the best of what was available a little before 9:00. We went up to the the beginning of World Showcase, we sat here in May and we were down on the water--it was a great spot. The lower landing was blocked off and there were CMís staked out there, Stephen asked why the lower landing was closed (it was closed some of the nights in May as well) and the CM told us that it is sometimes closed for safety reasons, depending on which way the wind is blowing. I guess thereís a fire chief there every night and he or she tells Disney whether or not the section can be opened or roped off. The wind was blowing in that direction, so the section was closed. We still had great spots and passed the time talking to a lady and her daughter, they were Disney regulars until the Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, this was their first trip back in 4 years, and she was in complete remission. I canít think of better place to be than at Walt Disney World to celebrate the gift of life.

Illuminations was wonderful, like always, I could never get tired of seeing this show. After it was over, the CMís opened the section that was closed and let people go out on it. I guess it was safe now that there wasnít an inferno ball being blown in that direction. Stephen and I stood looking over the water at The World Showcase, we were a little sad, this was our last night in Epcot, but not too sad because we knew weíd be back in 3 months. We took our time leaving the park, we strolled hand-in-hand towards the International Gateway. Who says Walt Disney World isnít romantic? We got ready for bed once we got in the room, since we were getting up early tomorrow, we had to make it an early night. Stephen watched TV and I read my book until we fell asleep.

Day 4-Saturday 10/2
The Plan: Maybe MGM for extra magic hour, then Epcot, PS San Angel Inn 1:30.

Reality: Boy, did we change our schedule around today. We decided to go to Blizzard Beach, Stephen has wanted to go for a long time, and it was the perfect day for a water park. It was warm, but not scorching hot and there wasnít a cloud in the sky. We couldnít have picked a better day. We were both looking forward to eating at San Angel Inn, so we switched our PS from 1:30 to 3:30, we both prefer the lunch menu to the dinner menu and lunch is served until 4:00.

Blizzard Beach opened at 10:00; we were shooting to be there by 9:30, so we had to get up at 8:30-way too early for vacation. We put on our swimsuits and our clothes and were down to the bus stop by 9:00. We waited a few minutes for a bus to Blizzard Beach and Animal Kingdom and then we were on our way. Thankfully the bus driver took us to Blizzard Beach first and we were there by 9:20. There was a crowd of people waiting to get in the park and an even bigger crowd lined up to buy tickets. Thankfully we had gotten our tickets the day before; it looked like they werenít selling tickets until the park opened. Stephen and I decided on our plan of attack before the gates opened, Stephen grabbed a park map and we decided that he would go and get a locker and I would get us chairs. We decided on a place to meet (Iím not very familiar with Blizzard Beach, so Iím not sure what section we decided to set up camp in, I think it was Melt-Away Bay), the gates opened and off we went, we did stop to buy a refillable mug, I took the mug and the towels while Stephen took my backpack to deposit in the locker. I was the second person to get to the roped off section where the chairs were, since it wasnít 10:00 yet, the park wasnít officially open. Stephen got our locker and met up with me before the ropes were lowered. We spent the next few minutes talking with the lifeguard. It was finally 10:00 and the park was open for business. We settled on chairs down by the wave pool, we went about 3 rows back from the water and found 2 chairs under a palm tree. Not much shade, but at least a little bit. The first thing we did was head for Summit Plummet. Let me let you in on a little secret that is kind of important to know, I canít swim and Iím terrified of water. So why am I at Blizzard Beach? Because I love my husband and quite frankly Iím getting tired of him complaining about coming here.

So, here I am, a person who canít swim, hates water, and Iím about to go down the worldís tallest free falling water slide. Should be interesting. We walked over to the ski lift and rode the long ride up. I have never been so terrified in my entire life, Iíve done the Extreme Sky Coaster at Kings Island, which is pretty much a subdued bungee jump, 2 or 3 people are hooked into a harness, pulled about several hundred feet; you pull a rip cord and down the hatch. Iíve been on Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, the worldís tallest (400 feet) and fastest (120 mph) roller coaster. Did either of those bother me? Nope. And yet Iím terrified of Summit Plummet. It was my turn to get on the slide, I pushed off, closed my eyes and after that, I donít remember a thing. Oh, except for the fact that my legs came uncrossed and I couldnít them back together and I ended up with the worldís largest wedgie. Stephen told me that I went down the slide sitting up and the lifeguard on duty was completely amazed. Do I remember that? Not at all, I think I may have blacked out. I am never doing that slide again, but at least I conquered it once. Stephen the water lover completely loved Summit Plummet.

I decided that I was finished with the free falling water slides, but I can handle anything with a floating device. Stephen and I got on the ski lift and up Mount Gushmore we went again, this time we were headed for Teamboat Springs, a family style raft slide. I completely loved this, and since there were 2 of us in the humongous raft, we got tons of airtime. It was so fun zipping down 1200-foot flume; there are plenty of thrills, like banked turns and dips. This was my favorite slide at Blizzard Beach. After Teamboat Springs, we decided to find a map to see what else we could do at the park. We found more tube slides, we went down one (I canít remember the name) were we rode in a 2-person inner tube and we were dumped into a pool of water. I didnít like this slide as well as the raft one. We were getting hungry, so we decided to grab some lunch. It was just barely 11:00, but we were having dinner at 3:30, so we didnít want to eat lunch too late. We went back to our chair to get money and our refillable mug and headed off for the Lottawatta Lodge for lunch. I ordered a turkey sandwich and Stephen got a chicken wrap. Both were okay, nothing great, but at least it was food.

After lunch, we headed off to Cross Country Creek, the lazy river ride; I could have stayed on this all day long. Stephen and I had a good time just floating around, when we got tired of floating, we dropped our legs in the tube and ďracedĒ each other, we could only do this when there was no one else around. We probably stayed in Cross Country for 30-45 minutes. We decided to go down Teamboat Springs again. Since there was now a line, we had to share our raft with another couple. It was kind of weird riding a raft ride in your bathing suit with strangers, but it was okay. Since the raft had more weight in it, we didnít get as much airtime as before, but it was still fun. What is up with all the photographers? I donít understand why you want a picture of yourself in a bathing suit, in an inner tube with wet hair; especially on this ride, where youíre most likely with strangers. Stephen and I had our picture taken 3 times and we didnít buy any of them. We decided to go to the body slides. We hit the Toboggan Racers first, I wasnít too sure if I would like these, but I loved them. I never won any of the races, I had some troubles pushing off, but it was so much fun. We did the Toboggan Racers twice and then decided to go on the Snow Stormers. I didnít like the Snow Stormers as much. I was on a mat, but the slide was enclosed and for somebody who canít swim, itís nerve racking being dumped into an open pool, even if you know you canít go under. Off course the pool is only like 3 feet deep, but thatís deep enough to drown in. We did the Toboggan Racers a couple more times before calling it quits on the slides. We both wanted to try the Runoff Rapids, but the line was way too long, but it did look like fun.

By this time it was about 1:00, we had about an hour before it was time to leave. We decided to hang out in Melt-Away Bay for our remaining time. I found an inner tube floating around, so I grabbed that and Stephen and I went out to ride the waves. This was a lot of fun, but after about 15 minutes I was starting to get sick and ready to come in. Stephen was getting tired of getting hit by inner tubes and ready to come to ďshoreĒ as well. We found our chairs and lay down for a few minutes before packing up to leave. I think we could have both fallen asleep in the sun; we had to get up before we did. We put our clothes back, grabbed our stuff from the locker, and refilled our cup one last time. We had a wait for our bus back to the Beach Club, but it finally came and we were on our way back home. So now itís time for the moment of truth: Did we like Blizzard Beach? Stephen and I both loved it; we will both come here again. Did I, a non-swimmer and water hater have a good time? I had a great time; there were plenty of things for me to do: raft rides, the lazy river and body slides. I probably will never go down Summit Plummet again, but I did it once, and thatís all that matters. We had an awesome time and weíre looking forward to coming here again.

We got back to the room a little after 2:00, we both wanted to lay down; being in the sun all day long was exhausting. We didnít have too much extra time, so we just sat down for a couple of minutes. After resting for a second or two, I got in the shower first, since it takes me longer to get ready, after I was finished Stephen jumped in and soon enough we were ready to go. We walked into Epcot a couple minutes after 3:00 and made it to San Angel Inn shortly. Ahh, I love the smell of San Angel Inn, it smells like tortillas and peppers, as soon as I caught a whiff, my stomach started growling. Stephen checked us in at the podium and we had a short wait. Our pager started blinking and we followed the CM to our table. For the first time in a long time we didnít have ďourĒ table by the wall in front of the cleaning cart. This time we were seated at a table for 4 in the middle of the room. Linner (lunch and dinner) or if you prefer, lupper (lunch and supper) was awesome, Iíve heard some complaints about San Angel Inn, but in the 8 times weíve eaten here, weíve never had a bad meal. We both enjoy it tremendously and look forward to eating here. Stephen ordered the Plato Mexicana and I ordered the Nachos de Pollo. I love their nachos, itís my favorite entrée here, trust me itís not just chicken nachos, like at Taco Bell. First thereís a layer of nacho chips, thatís topped with black beans, chicken, chorizo (which adds an awesome layer of flavor), tomatoes, jalapenos, white cheese (which is so creamy and smooth, I like it better than cheddar) and then sour cream. It is such a nice mesh of flavors, I love it. And since I canít eat an order by myself (itís huge), Stephen gets to enjoy the nachos de pollo as well. We were both completely stuffed from lunch, but we had to order dessert. San Angel Inn is one of those places where you HAVE to have dessert, no excuses. We ordered our usual, chocolate chimichanga. Of course it was devoured in seconds. Whatís not to love about a banana in a tortilla shell, deep-fried and then topped with chocolate and peanut butter sauce and served with vanilla ice cream? The only thing that I would change about it is to serve it with cinnamon ice cream instead, but come on; itís so close to perfection, who am to ďcomplainĒ? Trust me, Iím not really complaining.

Tonight was the only night for the SpectroMagic Parade at the Magic Kingdom, so we had to head over there. We got to the Magic Kingdom at about 5:00, so we had 3 hours before Spectro was set to start. There were already people lined up on Main Street-3 hours beforehand! I couldnít believe it. As much as I love SpectroMagic, I wonít waste 3 of hours of park time sitting on the curb waiting for it start. The Magic Kingdom was packed tonight, there were people everywhere, we decided to go to Tomorrowland and see how things were going there. Space Mountain had like an hour wait, so we got FastPasses and then walked over to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. There was a wait for the TTA! Not a huge one, like 3 minutes. But still, a wait for the TTA, I was completely shocked. I guess this was the only time SpectroMagic was being done for almost everyoneís vacations, (the previous weekend was the hurricane, so the people leaving missed that showing and for the people just starting their vacation, there wasnít one scheduled for the following Saturday yet) so everyone had to come to the Magic Kingdom tonight. It was chaotic! After the TTA, we got in line for Buzz Lightyearís Space Ranger Spin. The sign said it was a 15 minute wait, but it was more like 25 minutes. We had some kids try to cut in front of us; they walked up, pulled the rope up and got in line. Another couple in line with us, looked at us and we looked at them, trying to figure out what had just happened. The couple, called the boys out and asked them what they were doing, they said they thought it was the beginning of the line (umm, did you miss the hundreds of people behind you?), the man said, ďItís not the beginning of the line, weíve been waiting for 20 minutes, I think you need to go and get in at the end of the lineĒ Yeah!! Go, mister! The boys got mad, got out of line and in the process knocked down the coupleís little boy; thankfully he was okay. It goes without saying that Stephen beat me once again on Buzz Lightyear. Why do I keep playing with him? Iím going to be forced to start lying about my score if he doesnít quit.

It was finally time for our FastPass for Space Mountain. For the first time in a long time we rode on the right side. It was fun having a change of pace, but I still like the left side better. We got off the ride and made our way across the Hub. We were planning to go on the Haunted Mansion, but so many people were saving seats for the parade, we decided to stake our spot out. My goodness, was this an ordeal. Stephen and I stood over by the parasol booth, across from Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. We had room for maybe one tiny person behind us, however you would have thought we had an empty football field with all the people trying to squeeze in the spot. We actually had families with 5 and 6 people in them and a stroller trying to squeeze in a spot that was inches by inches wide. We kept telling them that we had more people in our party, Iím sorry for lying, but thereís no way those people would have fit in the spot and it would have been Stephen and I who were pushed out. There were a group of ladies next to us who were helping to hold the fort down. They were a riot, and we enjoyed passing the time with them, it was a group of 4 women in their late forties - early fifties from New York City who vacation together in DisneyWorld every year. If it werenít for them backing me up, I know I would have caved and given someone my spot. SpectroMagic was magnificent and worth all the hassle it caused, I canít wait until December to see it again.

After Spectro, we followed the masses of people to the Hub to wait for Wishes. My legs were so tired from standing for close to 2 hours that I had to sit on the ground while waiting for Wishes to begin. I know the ground is nasty, but I couldnít help it, I just had to sit. I almost got clipped by strollers a couple of times by parents who were determined to make their stroller fit through a tiny hole, but other than that, it was quite pleasant. Once I heard Jiminy Cricketís voice, I stood up (along with all the other tired legs in the Magic Kingdom) and I was ready to watch the show. Wishes was amazing as always, I donít understand why some people say itís just fireworks set to music. I guess some people just donít feel the magic. After Wishes was over, Stephen and I made our way up to Cinderellaís Castle to watch it change colors. It was beautiful. We sat on the wall looking at the Castle for probably 30 minutes, enjoying our last night there. The CMís cleaned around us and we just sat there (moving our legs so they could sweep underneath), not wanting to leave. Finally Stephen made me get up and go, see how mean he is to me?

We walked out to the bus stop and waited about 15 minutes for a bus. Finally a bus pulled up, by this time a crowd of tired people had formed; wanting to get back to their resorts. I hope no one was in a hurry. There was a guest in a wheelchair waiting in line, no big deal, it normally takes like 2 seconds to load the guest and the wheelchair. Well, this bus driver took forever to load the wheelchair guest, it wouldnít have been so bad if we werenít already waiting 15-20 minutes for the bus in the first place. I realize it takes a while to load a wheelchair, and of course everyone wanted the passenger to be safe, but it took the CM about 15 minutes to load the wheelchair and of course the entire time the bus is beeping because itís lowered to the ground, giving everyone a headache. I think it took us about 45 minutes to get back to the room that night, once the wheelchair guest was loaded. We stopped at the Swan, the Dolphin, the BoardWalk, and the Yacht Club, when those staying at the Beach Club saw the wheelchair guest still on the bus, we all got off at the Yacht Club and walked over. Donít get me wrong, it wasnít the guest or the wheelchair that annoyed everyone, it was the bus driver who took so long to do it. It took us an hour to get from the Magic Kingdom to the Beach Club.

Since it took so long to get home, Stephen decided to forgo swimming that night, so we packed everything up for tomorrow. I washed my legs off in the bathtub, I donít even want to think about what I sat in while waiting for Wishes. We were soon in bed asleep.

Day 5-Sunday 10/3
The Plan: check-out BCV, Epcot, PS at Alfredoís 1:00 or ESPN Club to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals game. Stephen and I are both huge Steelers fans (go Hines Ward!!), and since we live in Cincinnati, weíre not sure we can miss this game! Plus Stephen made a bet with his boss, if Steelers win, his boss has to wear a Steelers hard hat every day for a week every time he gets up from his desk. If the Bengals win, Stephen has to wear Mickey Mouse ears every day for a week; a lot was riding on this game. Fly home at 7:05.

Reality: We got up at about 10:00 this morning, and got ready for the day. We finished packing items we needed that morning, called bell services to get our bags, and checked out of the room right at 11:00. The day started off innocently enough, we decided that while we love the Pittsburgh Steelers and we wanted to see the game, spending our last day in Epcot was more important. We headed off to Epcot (instead of getting in line at the ESPN Club to watch the game) in the hot, scorching sun, today was by far the hottest day of our vacation, you couldnít walk 2 feet without sweating and needing to be in air conditioning.

We walked over to Mexico and browsed the shops in the pavilion; we walked along to Germany and looked in my favorite Christmas store there. We continued on to Italy and looked in the stores there, we saw Pinocchio playing with other guests, in general having a good time. It was getting close to 1:00, kick off and our PS at Alfredoís, we went into France and walked around; I finally found the library everyone talks about, where Belle and the Beast have their meet and greet. At about 20 Ďtil 1:00, Stephen suggested that we walk over to the Board Walk, to the ESPN Club to see how the lines were to watch the Steelers. I think I made the comment; I was only going to walk over there if we were planning on staying because I didnít want to walk back and forth in the heat. Stephen says I didnít say this, so who knows. So we walk all the over to the Board Walk and of course there was a line of neurotic football fans (like us) waiting to get in. Stephen decided that he didnít want to wait in that line, letís go back to Epcot. I must apologize to those around me, for I did not have my finest moment. Stephen and I are both pretty laid back and calm, but a combination of the heat, being hungry and thirsty, and the walk was just too much for us. We fought all the way back to Epcot and really had it out on the bridge by the International Gateway. Stephen ended up walking back to the ESPN Club and I stayed in Epcot. I went over to England and sat in the courtyard and gave myself time to cool down. After about 20 minutes, I got up and walked out of Epcot, back to the ESPN Club where Stephen was standing in line waiting to get in the restaurant. We have to stop fighting on vacation!

So, how long did Stephen and I wait to get a table to watch the Steelers game? 2 ½ hours!! In the hot Florida sun, dying of thirst, and starving. 2 ½ hours!! Stephen got in line right at kick off, at 1:00 and we werenít seated until the beginning of the 4th quarter, at 3:30, and we were scheduled to be picked up at 4:30 to meet our plane. Talk about high pressure!! Stephen told our waiter that we were in a time crunch, and he was wonderful, everything was brought out pretty much as soon as it has taken out of the oven. We never had to ask for a thing, the CM was always right there, giving us whatever we might need. It was great.

Thankfully we were seated at a table where we could see the game, but at that point, we were so hungry that we just didnít care. The Steelers had a great game and an even better 4th quarter, the Steelers ended up beating the Bengals (yeah) because Carson Palmer (Bengals quarter back) threw an interception to Troy Polamalu (Steelers safety) and the Steelers scored off the play; and Stephen won his bet (yeah-he doesnít have to wear Mickey Mouse ears to work) and life was good. Speaking of good, our lunch was excellent. We started off with the macho nachos; they were huge-nacho chips with ground beef, refried beans, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, jalapenos, and olives. And you know we ate almost every bite, of course it was getting close to 4:00 and we havenít eaten since San Angel Inn at 4:00 the previous day. Our sandwiches came out, and they looked (and tasted fantastic), Stephen ordered the tailgate bbq pulled pork sandwich, which he loved. Iíve ordered that sandwich before; it is very good, but a little too zippy for me. I ordered the upper deck hot roast beef and cheese sandwich, wow was this yummy, the roast beef was so tender, and when I put some of Stephenís bbq sauce on it, it was fabulous; I will definitely be ordering this sandwich again. We finished lunch at about 4:15, (yes, we inhaled it) paid our check and then walked back to the Beach Club.

Our driver was there right at 4:30; in fact he was waiting when we walked out. The drive back to the airport was good, and the flight was okay. We landed in Cincinnati at about 9:30 and made it back home at 10:30.

Final Thoughts:
We had a wonderful vacation, the Beach Club was a great resort, the resort was gorgeous and who can argue with Storm-A-Long Bay? The Beach Club has given the BoardWalk some competition as to where to buy into the Disney Vacation Club (we plan on doing a resale, since weíre not too keen on buying at Saratoga, although Iím sure thatís a great resort too). Our meals were great as well, we didnít eat at anyplace new; we have too many favorites, that itís hard making room for new restaurants. One of favorite things about Walt Disney World is the dining. The crowd levels were pretty low; I donít think we had any waits. The weather was okay; it wasnít as nice as the weather in May, but a lot better than the times weíve been in the summer. We didnít have any rain, which is always a good thing, but it was hot and muggy. Stephen and I both really enjoyed the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, I wish we would have more time to eat the food, there were at 4 or 5 things that I wanted to try, just ran out of time. Weíve never had a bad vacation at Walt Disney World, and this trip certainly didnít disappoint. Weíre counting the days until December 11 when weíre going for 8 days with my parents and sister. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.

Krista Fulkerson

krista_fulkerson@yahoo.com


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