Sue Holland -- September 2004 - Walt Disney World (WLV)
Note: As Sue spent time at Pleasure Island and in other adult venues on this trip, this report has some information that may not be appropriate for young readers.
Dates: Originally - September 4 – 11, 2004; Revised to September 9-11, 2004
Six weeks ago as I was leaving my last WDW trip and telling friends I wouldn’t be back until now, they didn’t believe I’d last that long between trips. However, between being very busy at work, having a hurricane (Charley) blow through, another hurricane (Frances) skirt around us but dumping days of rain, and spending time with a special someone, the six weeks flew by (I admit I never expected I’d be saying that <g>). In fact, I had even considered canceling the first 5 nights of this trip, keeping just the last 2 nights for Comedy Warehouse, but ended up never getting around to make that change……until hurricane Frances showed up.
As Frances approached Florida, I realized that with my job there was no way I’d be checking in to Saratoga Springs on Saturday as originally planned. I was pleased to find that DVC was allowing guests to cancel their reservations without penalty, so I went ahead and canceled that night. I was still scheduled to be on the 4-day Wonder cruise leaving Sunday (9/5), but eventually realized I needed to cancel that as well, even if it meant forfeiting all of the points and fees paid. There was the possibility we’d be opening the command center at work, and I could not leave the rest of my team to be working while I was off cruising – it just would not be right. In addition, someone special was due to be leaving town for an extended period of time and I did not want to waste any of those last days by being gone myself. On Friday 9/3 I got the call from DVC telling me one of my options was to cancel the cruise and they would restore all of my points and refund the booking fees paid. I was very pleased with the way they handled it – they also offered a nice incentive if I wanted to still do the cruise (modified dates & itinerary), but I was comfortable the right decision was for me to not cruise at all – a decision I still believe was the right one for me.
I did keep my reservation for the last 2 nights in order to get to Comedy Warehouse. I figured at that point I’d need a break, or a distraction from real life – mostly missing the person who’d left rather than needing a break from work. I decided to stay at Villas at Wilderness Lodge for a change, since it was a short trip. I dislike that location, so I wouldn’t consider it for a long trip – but 2 nights is fine. I’ll probably focus mostly on Magic Kingdom since it’s so close, and I hope to see Patti – a dvc friend from New York one of those days. I’ll most likely find time for a nice lunch at LeCellier, as that’s a must-do for every trip! Once I return home I may soon be working around the clock again as yet another hurricane (Ivan) threatens us – let’s hope that’s not the case, but it’s not looking very good right now.
The current plans (subject to change) so far...
DAY 1 THURSDAY SEPT 9, 2004:
Plan: Drive to WDW, C/in Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: Today I started out with a 2-mile jog, then went to work for the morning. I actually was scheduled to be on vacation this entire week, but losing over a week to hurricane Charley has put me behind schedule on more than a few projects. In addition, I wanted to work the past few days in order to take the time off later to spend time with someone who’s out of town right now! I’ll try not to be a downer in this report, but I know my heart just isn’t in this trip at all. There wasn’t any reason to get up to WDW earlier than check-in time, since my only real objective for today is Comedy Warehouse, so I decided to work a half-day.
I left work just after noon, and took the smaller roads up through the middle of the state in order to avoid the construction traffic on I-4. I hate these back roads, and going home will be back on the interstate! I arrived on Disney property by 3, and stopped at Saratoga Springs to buy the last 2 yogurt parfaits for my breakfasts during the trip. As usual, there were no guests around and the cast members were very friendly and eager to help me.
My next stop was Wilderness Lodge, where the security person gave me my parking pass and I was lucky to find the closest non-handicapped parking spot. Check in went quickly, after a short wait in line. I’ve got a studio in the Villas, 2nd floor corner room so I have an extra window. Everything appeared fresh & clean, and in working order – but the décor here is no longer among my favorites. However, for 2 nights it will work just fine. I unpacked quickly and called Disney Dining to see what time Le Cellier opened for dinner (4pm) and decided to get that out of the way by having dinner there tonight.
I was going to call DVC member services to book more nights while at a meeting in December, but decided I’d have plenty of time to do that tomorrow. Instead I instant messaged with my sweetie – it looks like he might be back for good next month, instead of continuing 6 months here, 6 months there. Three days of long-distance relationship so far has felt like three months! Soon I could hear thunder starting, but decided I would still make the trip to Le Cellier. Patron of the Arts Patty emailed to let me know Mary was working the last 3 shows tonight – that was bad news, as I hoped to get enough sleep to still jog early tomorrow morning and didn’t want to miss all of her shows, especially since Patty & Jason would be there. I wasn’t thrilled to see Florida’s Governor on the tv talking about hurricane Ivan – this one scares the hell out of me, and all of this attention is preventing me from ignoring it while I’m here. So, I turned off the tv and headed out for the rest of the afternoon around 4:30.
I grabbed an umbrella from the car, then went to the bus stop to catch an Epcot bus. I delayed my departure to do one last email, and of course it started pouring during that time! Luckily it let up long enough for me to get to the car for an umbrella (the jogging has helped, too <g>). The wait for an Epcot bus was brief, and it was easy getting into the park once the clueless people ahead of me managed to figure out the biometrics. I headed straight to Le Cellier, where they were able to seat me after just a few minutes.
This time Barry was my server, and he was incredibly friendly in addition to doing a great job. We chatted quite a bit, but he never neglected his other tables. I appreciate when I’m dining solo and the server stops to pay me some attention. I ordered the cheese soup and the moscato wine I always used to get. Everything was delicious, and I was out of there in less than an hour. They have a nice looking surf & turf on the menu at dinner – a large steak and a lobster tail. Each one was more than I’d ever eat, and I did see a couple sharing the dinner at a nearby table. The price for this meal is $34.99 and they have wine pairings available for an additional fee.
After dinner I stopped to ride Spaceship Earth, and then left Epcot to return to Villas at Wilderness Lodge. It had stopped raining, but it was still very humid. I caught up on email and checked the Weather Channel briefly before driving over to Pleasure Island around 7:30. It was lightly raining again – just enough to be annoying. I stopped to chat with Clinta for a while at the outside bar, then went to get my wristband at Adventurer’s Club. The cast member remembered I don’t want the hand stamp, which was pretty cool. Bob & Virginia were inside, so I chatted with them briefly before going over to Comedy to let them know which shows I’d be seeing.
Bob & Virginia saw the first 2 shows with me, and Jamie was on the keys tonight. The 8:20 cast was John, Jake, Lisa, Christine & Brian. They opened with a poem called “The gorilla was gargantuan”, then did This is Your Life. Jake interviewed a girl who had detached her retina in a cheerleading accident. The actors replayed her first kiss, the retina accident, and then her future as a theater teacher at a community college. It was a good structure, with several funny moments. Next Brian came out to sing a love song called “The hurricane blew away my wedding”, which was just ok. Tonight lots of suggestions were hurricane-related, which got a little old after a while. Jake & John did a good job telling a short story called the Angry Ferret.
The 9:15 cast was Krista, John, Lisa, Christine & Jake. John rang the bell in Should Have Said, with Krista as a customer in a porn book store and Christine as the owner. It was a pretty funny scene, and it was nice to see Krista onstage again since I’d missed her on my last few trips. Next Jake created a poem called “Hurricanes”, and did a very good job turning that tired subject into comedy. They also did Actor’s Nightmare, with John being the victim. He was making sausage, and had to make sense of the dialogue spoken by the other actors who were reading from 3 different scripts. He did a good job with it, and soon the show ended. Both of the first 2 shows were good, but nothing really special. The audiences were small in number, but they did participate and offer suggestions when asked. The 3rd show was so much better though, it made the first 2 look “ok” by comparison – which perhaps isn’t fair but that’s the impression I was left with.
Patty had called earlier to report she was on her way, and Jason would most likely be there first. He hadn’t told Mary he was coming tonight, and she didn’t know anything of the plans we’d made during my last visit. That was shortly before the Olympics were due to start, and one of us had the idea of flashing scores at the performers at the end of the show, as if we were judges. I agreed to make & bring the numbers, and we set tonight as the date we’d do it. Jason arrived shortly after I got outside, so we sat under the stairs (out of the rain) and caught up with each other until Patty arrived.
The 10:30 cast was Mary, Matt, Brian, Lisa & Jake. They opened with the name rhyme structure, and it was an extremely good choice! Matt in particular was in the difficult spot of always having to come up with 3 rhymes at one point, and he did a great job. It got down to Jake and Brian, who were also going very strong – but eventually Jake won. It was so much fun it really seemed to set the energy level for the entire show – at a higher level than the earlier shows.
Jake rang the bell in Should Have Said, where Matt & Brian were separately in the produce department of a grocery store. Brian had a banana fetish, and was hysterical talking to and obsessing over the bananas. Matt had a pepper fetish, and between the 2 of them things got crazy pretty quickly and it was a great scene! Forgotten Songs was next, with Brian as a motel lounge R&B singer accompanied by his backup singers Zodiac (Christine & Mary) singing “Why I’m so Black”. To see this tall skinny white guy singing about why he’s a black lover man was just too funny! Mary was funny repeating “he’s so black” over and over. Brian and Zodiac also performed one of the other forgotten songs – “My penguin is quite chilly” but that one got a little weird. The third had Jake & Matt wearing their undershirts and cowboy hats, as fertilizer spreading farmers saying Smell my (arm)pits & singing “I feel like a cherry tonight”.
They did Up Your Alley, hosted by Brian as Sideways Johnson. The topic was men’s fashion, after an audience member said she hated men wearing white dress shirts without any t-shirt underneath because you could see their skin through the shirt. Christine was Dakota Wyoming, who formed a group in her trailer park called Women Against Trashy Looking Men. Jake was Thurwell, who had his pants hitched up way above his waist. Mary was Jim, a man who wears women’s clothing but wasn’t gay. Mary lost it when she was talking about wearing crotchless or no underwear at all and said “Be proud of Mr. Potato Head”. Nobody knew what the hell she was talking about, and I think Brian asked her if she kept a Mr Potato Head in her underwear – she replied she did, to attract Mrs Potato Head. It was a good Up Your Alley, and overall the whole show was great! We were ready with our scores after the final song, and they cracked up when they saw them. The show was great, so the scores were high.
After the show I talked to Mary for a bit, and Brian on his way out. Jason was staying for the next one, Patty was leaving, Mary would be back tomorrow – so I decided to call it a night since I really don’t like getting back so late when I need to get up early to jog. I walked out with Patty and drove back to Wilderness Lodge, getting a call from Leesa to tell me about her evening. She was at Comedy for the midnight show, but I didn’t want to turn around and go back at that point since I was almost at the resort. So, I’ll see her tomorrow night.
Once I got back in the studio I saw my special guy had been online waiting for me for the past hour or so, wondering if I’d had a good time. We instant messaged for a while, I made some cappuccino, and then since I wasn’t terribly tired I got the trip report finished up and posted. Unfortunately, that took until 2am, so I won’t get much sleep before it’s time to jog. However, I’m glad I didn’t stay for the next show as I might have missed him online or it would now be 3:30 am!
Overall today was a good day. I didn’t expect to enjoy myself as much as I did, between missing my friend and worrying about the next damn hurricane. However, WDW is good for me – especially Comedy Warehouse and the friends I’ve met through there. I’m looking forward to tomorrow – my only full day of the trip!
DAY 2 FRIDAY SEPT 10, 2004:
Plan: Magic Kingdom, pool, Earl of Sandwich, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: I decided to sleep in until 5:30, which still came way too soon. After putting on my jogging clothes I headed out, but wasn’t able to jog where I’d planned. There is a nice paved path connecting this resort to Ft Wilderness, but it’s in the woods and is completely dark. I wasn’t worried about running into any trouble with humans, but was concerned about what wildlife I might encounter in the dark and wasn’t comfortable jogging there. Instead, I ran 2 miles around and through the guest and cast parking lots, down a service road, and briefly on the path when the sky started brightening (it was still too dark for my comfort, though). I don’t know how I’ll do tomorrow’s run, which is supposed to be 6 miles – unless I do it later in the morning (but then I risk running into traffic of people heading to the parks). We’ll see – I have all day to figure something out.
Back in the studio I was happy to see my friend was back waiting for me online, so we instant messaged for quite a while. It’s tough being apart, but it helps to have him around via computer at least. I took my shower & dressed, then got a call from my dvc friend Patti/Pebbie. She’s over at OKW with her husband, who was still asleep. She decided to leave him a note and head over here to spend an hour or so with me before I headed to the Magic Kingdom. Breakfast was cappuccino and one of the yogurt parfaits from Saratoga Springs – delicious as always.
Patti arrived shortly, and we spent a good 2 hours catching up with each other. I enjoyed the photos of her adorable first granddaughter, and she listened to me yammer on about what’s new in my life these days. It was a great visit, and I’m so glad our trips overlapped this time. She headed back to OKW to get her husband and I got ready and headed for the boat to the Magic Kingdom around 10 am or so. I’d gotten a call from work updating me on our hurricane Ivan plans, and as expected my dept heads were handling their areas just fine – I wasn’t needed there at all (good) at this point.
The MK boat was waiting at the dock, which was a nice surprise! It went straight to the park, and I was pleased to find it was not busy at all despite being around 10:30 by then. At Space Mountain they had the fast pass machines covered because the crowds were so light (found the same thing at Big Thunder). The standby wait was posted as 10 minutes, so I went inside to find that time was basically accurate. I only rode once, then wandered around the Magic Kingdom a while until I ended up at Big Thunder. That wait was posted as 5 minutes, which was also accurate. I was amazed to be finding such a short wait at this time of day! From here I wandered back and went into the Haunted Mansion, which was also less busy than usual. I was going to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority next and then leave the park, but between Tim calling while I was in Space Mountain and then Michael calling while I was in the Haunted Mansion needing help with a work issue, I figured this day wasn’t meant to be one for riding attractions since I knew I’d be getting more calls. Michael’s issue took a while to resolve – I decided to just leave the park then, and we were on the phone pretty much until I got off the boat back at Wilderness Lodge. To be fair, the work issue was created by the central office, and he had to provide the information requested today – stuff that he & I had worked on months ago, and which I had on my computer in Ft Myers – otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered me.
Back at the Lodge I stopped in at Roaring Forks to see if anything looked good for lunch, and ended up buying one of those magic cookie bars. I ate half of it, then changed into my swimsuit and went to the quiet pool for about 1.5 hours. It was nice out there – not a single smoker, and the families with kids were all having fun without being too rowdy. It was awfully HOT, though! I went back inside around 2:30, ate part of the other yogurt parfait thing, then took another shower before General Hospital started. I even had some time to sit out on the porch like Darla, and it was actually pleasant there in the shade with a breeze blowing!
Tim called just before 4 to let me know they were closing I-75 southbound as of midnight tonight, which means I can’t get home that way! They want all lanes on both sides to be free for people evacuating before Ivan, so I’ll have to go home traveling down the small roads in the middle of the state, which I hate to do. I made a call to DVC member services to change my Nov/December plans, but had to go on the wait list for part of the trip. Once that was taken care of I drove over to Downtown Disney and parked at the marketplace.
I browsed through World of Disney looking for something princess-themed for my food service director at work. I found something that would work, and went back to buy it on my way back to the resort – but first wanted to look in a few other places at the Marketplace. Once the shopping was done I went to Earl of Sandwich and ordered the caprese for dinner. It was nice outside, so I sat at a table out there and just relaxed. Mary called with the news she was not working tonight after all, which wasn’t good news – at least I caught one of her shows last night. While we were talking I ended up finishing the whole damn sandwich, which surprised me! I stopped at Ghiradelli to buy more chocolate for my office, picked up the Princess item at World of Disney, then went to the car and drove back to Villas at Wilderness Lodge in time for the 6pm news.
After the news my friend was online, and we instant messaged until I had to leave for Pleasure Island. I ended up getting there just after 8pm, and rushed up to the Adventurer’s Club to get my wrist band but they were closed for a private group. Instead, I got my band at Comedy Warehouse, then went down to join Leesa, Rande & Kyle. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight, and she stopped by to see how the earlier hurricanes had affected me.
The 8:20 cast was Krista, John, Brian, Matt & Philip – a terrific cast! They did Fill in the Blank using 2 audience volunteers, in a scene where Matt & Philip were in the eye of a hurricane. With these 2, the scene quickly got weirder and weirder but it was excellent. Philip had left his medicine back at the hotel, which he needed to control his seizures. Matt was supposed to circumcise Philip, using a large butcher knife John brought out to him. Eventually Matt acted like a Universal Studios employee, which scared Philip enough to stop seizing.
They did Schmeopardy next, hosted by Matt as Alex Quebec. Brian was Bart Issiple, an English teacher with awful grammar at Jeb Bush High School in Florida. He said “I done teach English” and other redneck things – it was very funny! Krista was a probation officer named Kelly Michaels. John was an American Indian named Waltzes with Badgers, who does the paperwork on the reservation (the suggestion was a reservations clerk) for the Walka Lika Dinga Donga tribe. It was a hysterical Schmeopardy, with all 4 actors being incredibly quick and witty. There wasn’t a slow moment at all. Overall the entire show was excellent.
At the beginning of Schmeopardy I could hear my phone faintly ringing in my bag. Luckily it couldn’t be heard by anyone other than Leesa sitting next to me. I answered it to find my ex-next door neighbor calling to see if Chris & I wanted to come stay with them in Houston for the hurricane this week. He could hear all the noise & laughter, and thought I was having a party, lol! I thanked him for the invitation, but explained I had to be at work for the storm.
We headed outside after the show, and Leesa & I ended up missing the next one while we were busy talking about some stuff. We made it to the back door in time for the 10:30 seating, though. The 10:30 cast was Brian, Lisa, Krista, Christine & John. Except for the opening & closing songs, the rest of the show was Conducted Story. Krista was the conductor, and the title was “Tantalizing Tomato”. It was about John Kerry’s wife, who hired Michael Jackson to work at the Heinz catsup factory. Eventually George Bush and Dick Cheney were having an affair (Brian got lots of laughs when talking about Dick & Bush – but didn’t seem to have a clue what he’d said). John was the first to mess up, and died by a pair of miniature crutches. Christine died by body wash in the style of Ray Bradbury, with John in as her faucet and Brian as the bottle of body wash. The scene got quite sexual (innuendo), with both John & Brian instructing her to either pump or pull them, in Brian’s case she was told to pump him until the cream came out. The audience loved it! Lisa died a sailing death, with John as a shark. Brian then wrapped up the story in the style of a poem, using an audience volunteer to fill in the blanks. It was another great show!
I decided to call it a night at this point, since I didn’t want to be out late. I said goodbye to the others and drove back to Villas at Wilderness Lodge, arriving around midnight. I could see that my friend had checked to see if I was back, and knew he’d check again, so I got started on the report until he got back online. So much for my early night – we ended up instant messaging until almost 2:30, and then I finished the report and uploaded the photos before turning in for the rest of the night. The hurricane Ivan news hasn’t improved at all – in fact it’s gotten worse in the sense that it’s strengthened again.
Today was a great day – everything went according to plan, I was glad to get to see Patti this morning, and I feel like I did an awful lot but wasn’t rushing around at all. Despite not being excited about this trip initially, now I’m sorry to be leaving tomorrow.
DAY 3 SATURDAY SEPT 11, 2004:
Who: Sue (me - 45), DVC member
Plan: Possible theme park or water park, Drive home
Actual: I’d set the alarm for 6:30, since I ended up staying up so late last night. Besides, I needed daylight for most of the jogging here. I got dressed and headed out, running throughout the parking lots at Wilderness Lodge before taking the path over to Ft Wilderness. Along the way I saw deer, a peacock, rabbits and several squirrels. The deer are so beautiful – they’d move out of the way, then stand there watching me (guess they realized they could always outrun me <g>). Once inside Ft Wilderness I realized it was completely deserted. None of the loops had any campers, and the Wilderness Cabins were empty as well. It was strange to not have buses or people around, but it was also a rare opportunity to see it so empty. Today was my longest run so far – 6 miles, and I was thrilled that I was able to do it!
Back at the Villas I used a towel to partially dry my wet jogging clothes, and put them on a chair in the sun to dry off. I’ve not seen anyone on any of the porches, and there’s not a walkway down below so I didn’t feel I was ruining the ambiance for anyone else <g>. Tim called to report I-75 was not closed southbound, so I’ll get to go home the way I want after all. I showered and started packing up my stuff. Breakfast was cappuccino and the rest of the yogurt parfait. I thought about heading to a park briefly, but there really wasn’t anything I felt I had to do this trip. So, I updated the report and hung out in the studio online for a bit – trying to decide if I wanted to stick around for lunch somewhere or just head home.
Eventually I decided to take stuff out to the car and wander around the resort a bit, but I was on the road before 11. The drive home was easy – no traffic, good weather. I expected to see more cars on the northbound side of I-75 due to people evacuating, but that side was light also. I got home before 2, in time to see Chris and take him to work.
I wasn’t expecting much from this trip, but it turned out to be really nice. I was able to relax a bit and enjoy myself, so I’m glad I didn’t skip the trip. The parks felt deserted, particularly after my last trip in July. I enjoyed eating my favorite meal at Le Cellier, and really lucked out with a terrific server this time (generally they are all good over there). Comedy Warehouse was great as always – I never tire of that place!
Surprisingly, I didn’t really miss the cruise that I canceled, which tells me my decision to cancel was the right thing to do this time. I was very impressed with Disney for refunding everything when I did cancel, since I was ready to cancel even without any refund.
Villas at Wilderness Lodge is a nice resort, but it’s not one of my favorites. I like the beauty of the public areas, but am just “ok” on the interior décor of the studio. I hate the location – quite simply it’s too far from Comedy Warehouse for me to consider staying here more than a couple of nights. However, I’m sure I’ll be back at some point.
My next WDW trip will be in late October, for the Food & Wine Festival. This is my favorite time to visit, and I’m booked at Beach Club Villas for easy access to the food & wine <g>. Right now I’m booked for 7 nights, but I may drop some of them – I’ll need to decide before I get within the 30-day window!
There’s a small album on Ofoto – mostly Comedy Warehouse photos, plus one of me with Patti/Pebbie in the studio. The url is http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=34p4jkm.5cm3xjgn&x=1&y=-uqux09
MAGICAL MOMENTS: (just a few since the trip was barely 48 hours)
- Pretending to be Olympic judges with Patty & Jason at Comedy Warehouse, although I did get grief from someone in the cast for giving the low score (9.5 - I didn’t have another 10)
- Doing a 6-mile run (13 weeks ago I couldn’t run ¼ mile)
- Spending time with friends, including Patti/Pebbie who I rarely get to see
- Having the laptop to stay in touch with someone special – it was really nice to be able to start & end the days together online, as well as spending time during the day, even though we’re in different states right now