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Paul Moriarty -- February 2004 -- Walt Disney World (BV)


The Cast

  • Paul, age 44, husband, dad, author of this report
  • Kathy, age 45, wife, mom
  • Kelsey, age 14(almost), eldest daughter and big sister
  • Jessica, age 10, youngest daughter and little sister

Preface

Although this was just our second trip (our first being in 1998), I have always kept abreast of the goings on at WDW by perusing certain WDW web sites, this one notwithstanding. I have helped many friends, family and co-workers with their trip plans which helps keep me sharp on the ever changing world of WDW. Besides, I love doing it.

For starters, I kept a pre-trip journal for this trip and thatís how this trip report starts out. However, itís only the summary and not the full details. After the journal the actual trip report starts. It isnít in great detail but hopefully you will enjoy whether itís for pleasure, pointers or whatever.

Summary of Pre Trip Journal:

January 2002: Family meeting during dinner out. Decided we will go . . .probably during Columbus Day 2003 timeframe as the kids get a few days off from school.

February 2002: Now looks like Thanksgiving 2003 will be the time for us to go. We went Thanksgiving 1998 and loved it (weather & Christmas decorations a big plus). We need to firm up the exact dates and resort (probably/hopefully Wilderness Lodge).

March 2002: After pushing Kathy as to when we should go, we agreed on Thanksgiving week (the Friday before and come home on Thanksgiving Day). CBR will be the resort as the costs are a bit steep for the others we were considering (WL or BW).

Mid April 2002: I made ressies at CBR, check-in on Friday 11/21 and return 11/27. Kathy does not know I have done this.

Mid April 2002: After coming home from a trip to Toronto, our confirmation from Disney arrived. Kathy was somewhat surprised I had made ressies so soon.

Early October 2002: Kathy mentions how much she would really like to stay somewhere on the BW (me, too . . .a bit too much $$$$$). Uh, wait. Not so fast! DVC. . . disboards.com. Hold on, honey, let me do some more research.

November 2002: Date change . . .by a lot! Going Presidentís week, 2004, Saturday to Thursday. Kathy wants a winter vacation.

October 2002 Ė April 2003: Bingo! After lurking on disboards and making a few posts I end up ďrentingĒ from a DVCer. The days will be Sun to Fri in order to save some $$$. Weíre getting a studio at the BWV, standard view. Total cost: $550!!!!!!!

May 2003: Ticket media have been procured. Weíre splitting 5-day passes with 4 co-workers/friends (theyíre taking 2 days, us 3 days . . .saved a few bucks here). Please, no lectures on the non-transferable issue. We have 1 day left on our old passes and need a total of 4 days.

Early August 2003: Airline tickets bought. A bit steep in price but I didnít want to wait and see if prices would drop and then take a chance in not getting what we wanted or paying even more. We end up having to fly out of Buffalo. All in all, Iím paying about $200 more than I wanted . . .oh, well. Budget breakdown:

BWV (for the week): $550 (no tax for DVC)
Admission Media: $540
Airfare-AirTran: $1164

Everything has been paid except for the remaining ½ of the BWV ($275).

Early September 2003: Cancelled our CBR reservation and have $170 credit on the credit card. So, letís do Cirque du Soleil! Itís only about $130 over the credit. So, itís Wednesday, February 18th, 6:00 PM show . . .Sec 102, row A, seats 1-4. ďWe must be in the front row!Ē

Early September 2003 to February 2004: Planning, planning and planning.

Day One, Sunday, February 15th
Shuffle off to Buffalo
Weather: Buffalo: High: 15, Low: 1, precip: none
Orlando: High: 74, Low: 55, precip: trace

Having an early afternoon flight allows us to not have to rush on travel day. Each of us has our own piece of luggage to pack as well as a carry on. After these are all packed they are lined up by the front door so I can do the inherent, manly duty of packing our vehicle. I take these 8 pieces out to the Explorer on this very lovely day: sunny but very cold, about 5 degrees. I get the luggage perfectly arranged, start the truck with heat on high, go back inside and do the cursory walk-through of the house making sure nothing is left on, unlocked, opened, light timers are on, etc., etc. Everyone takes care of business and then we head out the door.

We jump in the truck and head down I90, aka the New York State Thruway, at about 9:30 AM for our 12:30 flight. Itís about an hourís drive and the roads are clear and dry, not snow covered or icy. Getting to Buffaloís airport is easy but parking is another thing. After putting on more miles going through the parking lots than the actual drive here, I am able to park near a shuttle stop. I hand out each personís luggage and we huddle up in the shelter with some other folks. Itís frigid! Of course weíre wearing lighter clothing and jackets than normal since the real heavy stuff wonít be needed in Florida. The people in the shuttle hut are also from Rochester, are going to WDW, via AirTran and staying at the BWV. Small World (pun intended).

We get shuttled to the AirTran terminal, and of course we take the longest possible route and are the last to get let off. We check our luggage, head to the gate and eventually board the plane . . . on time. We taxi on the runway and darn, weíre stuck awaiting takeoff. Weather problems in Atlanta Ė thatís right, Atlanta not Buffalo. Great, are we going to make our connecting flight at 3:00?!

We do finally take off at 1:15, 45 minutes late, and get to Atlanta a little after 3:00. The gate for our connecting flight is directly across from the gate we are currently. Luckily the flight is delayed until 3:25. Yet, they arenít boarding. Hmmm. I doubt that 3:25 time is a reality unless all passengers charge the plane immediately, sit down, doors close and off we go. I call Tiffany Towncar and report the delay. No need to fret, theyíre tracking the flight. We eventually board and take off around 4:00 and get to MCO by 5:30. Just about an hour later than scheduled.

We work our way to the luggage claim area including taking the tram. We find our Tiffany Towncar driver waiting for us at the base of the escalator, just like the last time we were here. I let an airport employee take our luggage for us (why did I let him? Ė we can carry our stuff just fine . . . okay hereís 6 bucks itís all I have in small bills and you didnít have to work too hard).

While we were getting our luggage off the carousal, Jessicaís came out first. As she was standing by it, it started to make this buzzing sound. Because of 9/11, Iím a little taken aback. Whatís this noise and further more, is this going to start attracting attention to the point where security and police are going to start showing up. I quickly open her luggage and the noise ends up being her battery-operated toothbrush! Weíre only a little embarrassed and we carry on.

We head out to the towncar which is parked very close. As we start loading it up and as weíre getting in, a man approaches trying to see how he can get a towncar for his family (it almost seemed like he wanted to get in ours, like we were going to share it like a shuttle. . .hey, no problem, weíll jump in the trunk). So our driver gives him a business card so he can call the office. But the guy keeps talking to our driver like he will be able to make a car magically appear. I wanted to tell this guy he should have done his homework prior to getting to Orlando. And by the way, youíre starting to get on my nerves as I would like to leave the airport so we can get to WDW and start the magic.

All right, weíre off to Winn Dixie for our grocery stop. I really didnít care if we went to Goodings, Publix, Cash-n-Carry, Wal-Mart or Samís Shop and Rob. Iím not that much of a penny-pincher and saving a few bucks on groceries isnít a big deal to me. At Winn Dixie Kathy and Kelsey head in to get the supplies while Jessie and I wait. They come back with beer, water, milk, juice and enough food and snacks to hold us and another three families over for about a month. Why does my wife always have to go overboard on the food?!

Excellent, weíre on to the Mouse House. We drive through the main entrance and on to the BW. Now, when we were at Winn Dixie, I pulled out the video and still cameras from the trunk and put them on the floor of the car to take pictures whenever I needed to. Well guess what? Thatís where they stayed. I neglected to take any pictures heading in. Iím such an idiot sometimes.

As we enter the World, all I can say is, is there anything more spectacular than seeing that Walt Disney World sign or heading into your resort entrance? Itís simply incredible and hard to put into words and can only be understood by those who have been.

Itís about 7:00 as our driver gets us to the Boardwalk. He, plus a BW employee, unload our luggage and forklift the groceries out. Hereís 10 bucks. We stroll into the front of the BW into the lobby area. What a spectacular site! Iím impressed already. I go to check us in as the ladies take a bathroom break. There is virtually no one in line and I am immediately waited on. I get us checked in within minutes as I am ďwelcomed home,Ē even though I am not a DVC member. However, our key cards state DVC Members, which could come in handy.

We head to our room, 1070, which is very close to the elevators, close to the boardwalk and the main pool is right outside our room. It is a studio with a queen bed and pullout sofa. The room is also a handicap room in which it has a walk-in shower (no tub), a pocket bathroom door and many hand rails. The room is equipped with a refrigerator, toaster, microwave, wet-bar, cupboards, cups, bowls, plasticware, etc.

We quickly unpack a few things and head over to ESPN for dinner. As we leave our room we run into the family from Rochester that we met in Buffalo. They had a slightly more difficult time getting out of Atlanta (we were on different connecting flights).

We had planned on ESPN but we didnít expect to wait an hour for a table nor did we expect the weather to be so chilly as we waited in line . . . outside. By the time we sit down, itís about 8:30. During our wait in line, I made a few visits to the dining room and couldnít help but notice the many empty tables. Why was it taking so long to prepare them for us frigid folks outside? Must have been their idea of a joke.

We sit down and the girls are enjoying the start of the NBA All Star game on one of the screens. Well, it wasnít really the game they were interested in but all the bands and hoopla (pun intended) beforehand. Iím enjoying the Duke vs. NC State NCAA game (NC State pulls off the upset . . . good game). Now donít think we sat there, not socializing and just watched TV. Itís just what we were initially interested in.

We get drinks, Coronas for Kathy and me and sodas for the girls. For dinner, Kathy has a Ruben, Kelsey and I have burgers and Jessica eats a grilled cheese. Good food as long as you like bar-type fare. I was hoping we could head over to Beaches and Cream for an after dinner ice cream, but we didnít feel like it. Besides, at 55 degrees and breezy it just didnít seem like the time. And while we were eating, guess who we see? The other Rochester family. Great, theyíre following us (actually, this will be the last time we see them).

We leave ESPN and stroll the BW taking in the atmosphere. Itís back to our room so we can unpack a bit more and settle in for a big day on Monday.

Impressions, pointers, recap:
Tiffany Towncar worked out great . . . again!
The BW, at first glance, is all that itís cracked up to be.
Being able to get a BWV through a DVC member is great. No problems at all and I highly suggest it.

Day Two, Monday, February 16th
Let the Magic Begin: EPCOT
Weather: High: 69, Low: 47, precip: 0.00

Iím up first, which is the norm whether weíre at home or on vacation. I actually awake at 4:15 AM. Iíve been doing this for the past few days. I have no idea why. Must be a thing that comes with age. I do eventually settle back down and doze off until about 6:45. At 7:00 I get up, make the coffee, shower and am ready before 7:30. Now itís time for the girls to start the tag teaming for bathroom use. With three females, the prep time involved to get ready is, well, time consuming. But, weíre actually out the door by 9:00 after having a light breakfast in the room.

Since today is Presidentís Day and crowds are expected to be large, we figure Epcot would be a good park to start with seeing itís so big. We really want to see the countries since we missed touring virtually all of them the last time. We have PS at Biergraten for 1:30.

Weíre pleasantly surprised at how short the walk is to the International Gateway (IG). About 5 minutes. We go to Guest Services first so I can exchange two of our older, childrenís, passes for two adult passes (since our children are no longer, by Disney standards, children). This takes about 3 or 4 minutes.

In through the security checks and gates. There is absolutely no wait. Although World Showcase is closed weíre still able to get a feel for the countries and at first glimpse, it looks awesome.

Our plan is to do Test Track and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Kelsey definitely wants to do Mission:Space, I am apprehensive and Kathy and Jessica are a definite no. Iíve never had a problem on rides but as one gets older, sometimes, well, you start to think about things a little too much rather than be carefree and just going for it. Weíll see what happens.

So itís off to TT for FastPasses and then to HISTA. As I have stated before, Iím not a WDW vet, but I do read and take in information. So, here is a tip that I learned prior to leaving and used: only one person in your party needs to get the Fast Passes. It makes no sense to have your whole party bee-hiving around the kiosks. Gather all the admission media for your group and have one person get the FPs. And another tip: have one person collect and possess your groupís admission tickets. I always took everyoneís pass after going through the gates, including Kathyís.

After we get our FPs for TT we go to HISTA. I know this isnít the best touring strategy but it works for us. We walk right into the PreShow area for HISTA and itís not crowded at all. Jessie wants to stay towards the back and Kelsey wants up front more. Mom stays with Jess, me with Kels.

We really enjoy the show again and Jessica does much better this time around. The last time, although she didnít cry or scream, she was very subdued and somewhat withdrawn. This time she just closed her eyes for the scary parts. Now she really wants to do all the other 3D attractions. Weíll try to oblige.

Itís too early for TT so we grab a couple of pretzels and water. The pretzels are popular ďcuisineĒ for my kids but as the week goes on, getting pretzels becomes more and more challenging for some reason.

As Kathy gets the refreshments, near TT, Kelsey, Jessie and I watch a trio of garbage can drummers perform. An enjoyable distraction. This is another thing I really enjoy about WDW. You can be walking in any park or resort and all of sudden there is some sort of activity or show going on. And theyíre usually good shows.

Okay, time for TT. Man, this ride gets busy fast. The next return for FP is 2:45 and itís only 10:45 right now.

We have about a 15 minute wait, enjoy the preshow, jump in our car and off we go. Excellent ride! I always keep an eye on Jessie as she is very hard to read. She doesnít show a lot of emotion nor does she talk a lot of how sheís feeling. However, this ride was very good and she came out all smiles and rates it a ďtwo thumbs up.Ē

As a side note, and as I have read before, if at all possible use the single ride line if you can. When our family got in the car an elderly couple hopped in from the singles line. The woman told me she waited about 5 minutes! And the only reason I mention they are elderly, probably in their late 60s, is they are my heroes. I mean, I want to be like them when I reach that age (which will be here sooner than I think or want). They came to WDW with their kids and their kidsí kids. And rather than do the babysitting thing so their kids can go and head off on all the rides, theyíre the ones that are doing the rides and letting their kids do as they probably did at that age . . .buzz around the parks with strollers and doing things the little ones want to. And get this, she and her husband are now heading over to MS. Come on, I can do that!

Itís nearing noon and I remember this distinctly because the sun was out, albeit a little cool, and we wanted to take it a bit slow. We move towards WS and we stroll clockwise, starting with Mexico. I ask Kathy if she wants a Margarita from the outdoor bar at San Angel. She didnít and I was going to, but they are the frozen kind . . . not up my alley. I like real ones like what we make at home. So, I end up getting a beer at Norway and I remember the time vividly: 11:45. I donít know why . . . I just do . . . and my daughter took video tape of me (I have no idea why I find the need to mention this).

Now, one of the things I have really enjoyed is letting my kids do a lot of video taping, particularly when we are on vacation. They need a little guidance, mostly not to tape too much, but I really like letting them do it. And since we got a new video camera for the trip (more on this later) itís even more of an excitement for them. Well, not really, them. Itís more like my youngest. She monopolizes the camera and of course my eldest is a little too cool to be carrying around the camera that much anyway.

On with the trip: We continue to stroll WS, not really caring about rushing off to another attraction as we are not commando style tourists. We take a lot of pictures as we go from country to country. We really enjoy the flowers and greenery that we, living in Upstate New York, only get to see about 3 months out of the year. Uh, maybe about 2 . . .no more like about six weeks. Okay, itís really not that bad, it just seems like it.

We eventually make our way to Germany, where we have 1:30 PS for lunch at the Biergraten, and we look over the menu. Now I feel, no I know, I do a lot of research for any trip I/we take. Prior to the trip, Kathy thought this would be a good place to eat. Although I agreed, I didnít think it was the kind of fare the kids would like. Well, the long and short of it is, we opt not to eat here since our girls are fairly picky eaters, mostly Jessie, and the menu doesnít have much that theyíll like. I then suggest that the Rose and Crown would probably be right up our alley. Of course weíre going to have to trek all the way over to the other side but weíre going to have to head that way back to the BW anyway.

We take somewhat of the Griswald tour around the rest of WS getting to the R&C a little before 1:00. We wait about 10 minutes and are seated. Kathy and I order Cottage Pie and a beer. The girls got something more ďAmericanĒ (which I think was chicken fingers and pasta and sauce). The service is quick and the food even quicker. Kathy and I both agree that the Cottage Pie was excellent and exactly what we wanted.

Weíre finished eating at 1:55, relaxing and gabbing about what to do next. It dawns on me that British Invasion should be playing at some point and we both very much like the Beatles. This is a show I know Kathy would enjoy, maybe even the kids. Now you should also know that Kathy is a music lover and I always tell her she has an illness when it comes to CDs. She canít walk out of a music store without buying at least one CD. I digress. Our server tells us that BI is playing at 2:00. We bolt out of the R&C, after paying of course, and go over to watch the show.

We find a place along the curb and take in some Beatles. Itís a nice show and decent music in a relaxing environment. The weather is decent, too. After their set Kathy and I go up to get our pictures taken with George, Paul, John and Ringo. Our kids give us queer looks when we ask them if they want to get in the picture. Iím sure this will be one of those moments in our kidsí lives that they will recall and think how weird, uncool and ďsquareĒ their parents are. Hey, weíre not uncool. Even your friends tell you that weíre cool . . . much to your chagrin.

We, actually the ladies, decide we should do some shopping. Okay, Iím game. Actually, this is really something that none of us enjoy back home, save Kelsey. But, I guess buying Disney stuff in WDW is different. So, we start our second lap of WS heading in the direction of the ďLarge Ball.Ē Jessie buys, with her own money, some ball that you can blow up with a special balloon and can use in the pool. We then shop/window browse our way over to Mouse Gear. Her, Kelsey and I figure thereís no way weíre going to do MS today, being so late (I think I actually convinced her of this as Iím still apprehensive, especially after two beers and cottage pie). After some shopping, itís back to the BW. How convenient is this? We havenít been here 24 hours and I can tell the location of the BW is a HUGE advantage.

We get back to the Villas around 4:00 and rest for just a bit. We discuss our plans for the evening which is to go to Fantasmic!. After our rest, we decide to take the boat to the Studios. The ride is relaxing but slow. We unload at the Studios and as we enter the park, this is where I can see how the definition of crowds gets murky. Looking down Hollywood Blvd, it appears, and it is, crowded. But if I can maneuver with my family and not lose track of them, thatís okay. And in this case, thatís the way it is. And because itís Presidentís Day, the crowd is probably a little larger than normal. Some people may consider this overbearing and crowded. We do not.

Itís about 5:00 and we look at the message board. Rock-n-Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror have waits in excess of 70 minutes. No thanks. We now make our first mistake of the trip. Not a huge one and not really a mistake, but just a stupid tactical error. Fantasmic! starts at 7:00. The line outside the amphitheatre is starting to assemble. Because it is crowded in the park and the fact that the captain on the boat mentions how quickly the amphitheatre fills up, we get in line and get right in ASAP. What a mistake! Basically, we blew an hour because there is absolutely no reason to get in there when the gates open. Thereís plenty of room. Oh, well.

Weíll make the best of it by eating and drinking and chatting . . .and getting COLD. The weather is like fall back home. As soon as the sun goes down, it gets cold (okay, chilly, not cold). Add a mild breeze and itís even cooler. But we are able to pass the time. After several attempts, the crowd is successful in getting the wave going and this passes some more time. 7:00 slowly arrives and itís show time.

At this point Iíd like to make a comment. Remember me mentioning a new video camera? Well, should anyone consider getting a new one the day prior to leaving on a big trip such as this, reading the manual before using the camera would be a very good idea. The basics are pretty simple but when you want to vide tape, oh I donít know, letís say at night and maybe a highly lighted, fireworks-type show, this can cause serious anxiety. Fortunately, the video came out decent, but there are settings on this camera that I should have/could have utilized that I believe would have made the tape better. I guess that male hormone of not reading directions kicked in. ďManual, I donít need no stinkiní manual!Ē

This show is spectacular and words simply cannot do it any justice. And once again, Iím so impressed at how well Disney can produce these shows day in and day out with such quality. Fantasmic! is a must see for everyone.

After the show we head out, elbow to elbow, with everyone else. We are NOT taking the boat back and instead take the walkway. Very easy, 12 minutes, timed precisely by Jessica. We are back in our room and ready to call it a day. The kids grab a light snack and Kathy and I have a beer. Clean up. Wash up. Lights out.

Impressions, pointers, recap:
Okay, let me say once again that the location of the BWV cannot be understated . . . it is a great advantage
Next, FP is great. And it is not necessary for everyone to hover around the kiosks to get them. Have one person in your group gather up the admission media and let that person get the FPs
Along the same lines, this trip and the last, I always held onto everyoneís admission tickets
Know the Lay of the Land and bag the strict touring plan!
Turning in old passes for new is easy. I could have done this the day before as you do not have to enter the park to do so. However, the time involved was minimal and the cost: $0.00

Day Three, Tuesday, February 17th
On to the KingdomÖthe Magical One
Weather: High: 59, Low: 46, precip: trace

Once again, I awake at 4:15. Luckily, I am able to doze off until 6:45, lay in bed and head to the shower at 7:00. Then the bathroom march gets underway and I make coffee and pop a few doughnuts. The girls each have a bowl of cereal and weíre out the door by about 8:30 or so. Today is cool and damp (it rained a bit over night). Being from WNY, and seeing it was single digits when we left, Iím donning shorts again. I donít care. Weíre in Florida and I am going to will good weather upon us.

On the bus and weíre headed to MK. Uh, not so fast. Letís make a couple of stops. The Swan and then the Dolphin (and Iím pretty sure that the Yacht and Beach Clubs were picked up prior to getting us). Okay, now weíre off. As we approach the MK it simply amazes me as what goes on here at WDW. The logistics are amazing at this place and run with such proficiency.

As we exit the bus, really even prior to exiting, you feel the magic. I mean even the bus stops seem magical and are clean and efficiently setup. We then start to make our way to the MK and the atmosphere is so warm and great. Heading towards the gate, the 75 Mickey statues are preened about and we snap a few pictures. We then work through security lines and then the gates. Security checks all through the week were very quick.

We head toward Main Street, which gets you in such a great mood (of course youíre probably already in a great mood but this puts you over the top). Crowds are a bit light with the weather being what it is, damp and cool. Our first stop will be Space Mountain. When we get there, the line is rather long (or simply appears to be long). ďYou guys stay in line, Iím going to bolt over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and get us FPs.Ē On the way to BTMRR, I make a slight navigational error and rather then go into too much detail, I end up overshooting BTMRR a bit and add about 3 or 4 minutes onto my trek. During this adventure, I see that Splash Mt. is not open. Not sure why and really not too concerned. Itís a bit chilly for that (but I know we would have rode had it been open).

On my way back to Space Mt. my cell rings. ďWhere are you?Ē Itís Jessie. Theyíre at the front of the line, holding for me. ďHang on, Iím almost there.Ē Three minutes later Iím with them and the CM lets me join them and weíre in. In retrospect, what I should have done is while we were on Main Street, they should have gone to Space Mt and me to BTMRR. No biggie. And during my mini-marathon, I overheard another guest say to his wife how he would take a rainy day anytime since it obviously was holding back the crowds. To be honest, it wasnít even raining, it was just bit misty.

Okay, back on track. We really enjoy Space Mt. This is one we missed on our first trip and although I had ridden this at Disneyland many years ago, itís the first in-the-dark coaster ride for the rest of the family. Everyone really likes it and Jessie thought it was very cool. Not scared at all and would do it again in an instant.

We still have about 20 minutes for our FPs at BTMRR. I suggest Haunted Mansion and of course everyone is game. My family is pretty happy that I know the park so well (okay, minus the earlier issue . . .but I never told them I made that navigational error, are you kidding?). We get to HM rather quickly and the stand-by line says 20 minutes. Okay, thatís fine. This is another attraction Jessie and Mom didnít do the last time. Jessie wants to sit with Kelsey in the doom buggy, so Iím with Kathy. Another great ride and a big hit. After the ride, as weíre walking out, I look for the wedding ring embedded in the brick and I actually find it!

Time to go to BTMRR. We absolutely have to do this ride as it was one of the few Jessie could/wanted to do last time and by far, her favorite. And this time, itís no different. Again she loves it! The only thing is, with the dampness of the weather coupled with the ride weíre a little bit cool. So after the ride, I suggest Mickeyís Philharmagic. I figured we could get inside away from the elements for a bit. Have I mentioned that itís not raining, just damp and chilly?

When we get to Fantasyland it is here I notice it is much more crowded than the other parts of the park. There is a 20 minute standby time posted for Philharmagic so we go for it. We snake our way through the queue for awhile and stop as the show is full and weíll have to wait for the next one. No problem because we are inside.

As we are waiting, it is here I notice something that gets on my nerves. First, a little background. Iím old-fashioned. I was brought up to be conscientious and courteous , help those less fortunate, be polite, respect your elders, hold doors for others, etc, etc. I, in turn, instill this in my kids. That being said, I encounter my first of what I will call a Common Courtesy Breach (CCB). CCB #1: if you have a large backpack hoisted over your shoulders and, while in queue, you decide you are going to park you rear end on the bar/chain, your backpack is going to smack the person in queue on the other side. So, watch out and donít think itís your right to have this space all to yourself (and it is usually customary to apologize for smacking the person). Okay, thatís case #1. Unfortunately, more samples to follow.

We are herded into the waiting area for the show and then into the theatre. It is here I encounter CCB #2: when asked to move all the way to the end of the row, DO SO! Your selfishness in sitting in the middle with 15 seats open next to you is rude and inconveniences the others trying to be seated. And when politely asked by the masses to move, do not swear and tell them to ďchill.Ē It is you that are in the wrong. And, do you really think you have gained the perfect viewing spotÖpuh-lease!!!

On with the show: Philharmagic is very, very good. We all loved it and the little ones in front of us continually reaching out in mid-air to grab things was quite funny. Because of the content of the show, I remember briefly reflecting about how Disneyís last really good animated movie was, in my opinion, The Legend of the Lion King (of course Iím not including Pixar made movies). And now with the breakup with Pixar, what will Disney do to stay the leader in kid/family movies? I guess time will tell.

As I have mentioned, Philharmagic provided us some comfort from the outdoors. Thatís why I feel commando-style touring plans are a bad idea. It is my belief you become hostage to them. I believe it is important to know, ahead of time, what you really want to see and do, know the lay of the land and simply have some basic strategies and then go for it.

Itís not quite 11:30 and I think weíve done pretty well: (SM, HM, BTMRR and MP). So, Kathy wants to try one of the famous turkey legs. We first saw these on some food or travel show back home and she wanted to know how we missed these the first time around. Come on, I canít know everything. So, we mosie on over to Tommorowland as she recalls seeing them on one of the counter service menus. We buy a Turkey leg and some water and have a seat. Kelsey and Mom pick away and Jess and I just try a little piece. Itís good but itís not really up my alley (nor Jessís for that matter).

We finish up the leg and take in some photo ops in and around the castle as well as the Walt and Mickey statue. We browse through the shop in the castle and head over to the Main Street Bakery. I notice a couple of things. One, the ďforced perspectiveĒ of Main Street is much more evident to me. The walk down Main Street, away from the castle, looks so much shorter than the walk up Main Street. Also, at the Ice Cream Parlor I notice the sweet smell being pumped out onto Main Street. I was told this is ďfake.Ē Well, it may bother some that itís ďfakeĒ but to me, it just smells good. Who cares?

We head into the Main Street Bakery for some sweets and drinks. Here I encounter CCB #3: if you have a stroller, ramming it up my heels will NOT get you through the line any faster. We make our selections of a couple of cookies, brownies, coffee and hot chocolate. We then pay for our goodies and head for a table right over, over, uh, right over. Hmmmm. Letís go, uh, how about, uh, outside!? We grab a table outside as it really isnít that cold (sure it isnít). We munch away and do some people watching. After finishing up, we do some shopping along Main Street and work our way to the gates.

Out to the bus stop, on our bus and back to the resort. Itís about 2:00. The plan is to figure out where and when to eat dinner and then go back to the MK to watch Spectromagic and Wishes. After some discussion, we decide on eating at Alfredoís at 4:00 and I make PS. We rest for a bit and then head to Epcot via the IG.

I grab a beer as we stroll through the countries and shop a bit. We go to Alfredoís for our 4:00 PS. We have about a 10 minute wait and weíre seated. I order lasagna, Kathy gnocchiís, Kelsey the spaghetti (off the childrenís menu) and Jessie chicken nuggets. We finish one helping of bread and get another (guess Iíll start that Atkinís diet some other time).

Now, let it be known I am not a huge Italian food person. I enjoy it, but I do not go nuts over it, either. What we got left a bit to be desired. It was okay and very overpriced, even by Disney standards. Kelsey wasnít very impressed either and Jessie ate about 1 bite of a chicken nugget. Not a place we could recommend.

We head out of Alfredoís and I mention that the living statue(s) should be performing soon. Sure enough, after a short wait, we are entertained by the statue. Pretty cool and funny. Kelsey and Jessica donít want to head up for pictures. Oh, well. Right about now Iím trying to figure out the best way to get to the MK. I suggest we head to the entrance of Epcot and take the monorail. This is what we opt for and get to the MK around 6:00 or so.

We notice that people are already starting to stake out their positions on Main Street for Spectro . . . 100 minutes early! Well, Kathy wants to be on Main Street, near the Bakery. So, we sit down at the curb. I ďsaveĒ one spot for Kathy as she heads into the Bakery for some goodies. Now, Iím very close to a garbage can and all of sudden this guy parks it with his 4 year old daughter, a baby in a carrier and heís talking to his wife as she is standing. I politely mention that I have one spot, where my jacket is, for my wife. Iím thinking heís going to wedge his whole family in a spot big enough for one. That certainly isnít the case as he just wants to be sure his daughter has a seat, which she does. There actually ends up being enough room in front the garbage can and the other side of it for everybody. We start talking and I have a great conversion with him and his wife and eventually my wife. Very nice folks. His family is regulars to WDW and I tell him about how I got the BWV so cheap. I explain how I went about it and jot down the web site for him. He is very thankful. This is another thing I like about Disney. It seems that in every line, you strike up at least one conversion with someone.

I was so surprised at how quickly Main Street filled up. Last time, 60 minutes was the magic number to grab some seats for the parades. This time, no way. 90 was more like it. As we are waiting for the parade to start, the crowds are forming behind us as well. There will be two drum and bugle corps that will play prior to Spectro. Itís apparent to me that the folks directly behind me are awaiting a relative to march up Main Street as part of the corps. It is here I encounter CCB #4. Smacking your Army-issued, over-sized duffel bag disguised as a purse into the back of my head will NOT get you into that oh-so perfect photo-taking position. And remember the 10-month old baby I mentioned? The carrier holding this child was slightly behind its mother and me. But did that matter to this dimwit? Of course not. I kindly said to the ďwoman,Ē after she hit me a few times and she feebly apologized, that it was not me Iím concerned with . . . it was the baby. Made very little difference to her. Luckily, after the drum and bugle corps went by she headed out. Probably a good thing, too, as the father of the baby and I were about slug this woman (not really but we were a little more than peeved with this ďwomanĒ being so oblivious of the baby).

The show starts and I let Jessie tape Spectro as I shot stills. As I mentioned earlier, weíve let the kids take more and more video of our vacations. When we went on a vacation to the Outer Banks several years ago, a lot of the video they took is just great . . . itís nice to ďseeĒ things through their eyes (plus it gives me a break). I used to think that this is an adult job and I have to do it. But Iíve loosened up and let the kids try a lot of things. How else will they learn?

So, anyway, we really like the parade . . . almost as much as the first time (but you know, thereís nothing like the first time . . . ahem). The music, the floats, itís just spectacular. And as the parade ends, the weather is fairly cool . . . okay itís cold and we have about 40 minutes to kill before Wishes starts so we browse the shops. We make a couple of small purchases and waste time in the shops to keep warm.

We head out a minute or two before the show. A slight breeze adds to the cool evening. I simply think about the temps back home and then I suddenly donít feel as cold. Wishes starts and let me tell you, itís absolutely a GREAT show from start to finish! I refrain from calling it fireworks because I think thatís an injustice. Do not miss this, no matter what the weather!

We head out of the MK and towards the bus stops. It is not crowded at all. We hop onto the Boardwalk bus and head back. We make what will be the customary 4 stops prior to getting to the BW: Swan, Dolphin, Yacht Club, Beach Club. Although this didnít detract too much, it was still a bit of a nuisance having to make all these stops. And Iím taking a risk mentioning this here but, the Swan and Dolphin just donít fit in. Iím sorry, but considering the prime location, these buildings donít mesh very well with the themeing of the Disney resorts. Iím not saying theyíre bad resorts. They just donít fit in. And if you are going to have a place called the dolphin, wouldnít it just make sense for the fish statues to actually look like dolphins?

Weíre back to the BW and go to our room and to bed.

Impressions, pointers, recap:
Be cognizant of when the masses start assembling for parades so you can get in position that you desire
Please, be courteous to others
Donít let the rain hold you back

Day Four, Wednesday, February 18th
The Studios
Weather High: 61 Low: 41, precip: 0.00

4:15 again! Come on! Back to sleep and I then awake at 6:45. I get up at 7:00 and head to the shower. The routine stays the same. Light breakfast, coffee. We do fairly well getting ready and head out at about 8:45. Weíre going to the Studios. The weather is sunny and cool. We take the walk to the Studios via the pathway. Itís a nice little walk and none of us mind it all. Jessica times it again and itís still a 12 minute walk.

Going through security lines and the gates is a breeze. We head directly over towards ToT. I veer off and go get us FPs for RnR (return time is 10:35 Ė 11:35). We then go to ToT and it says a 20 minute wait. Not bad so we go for it. The sun is out and itís a beautiful day. We make our way to the lobby. I am so impressed with Disney themeing. Every ride is an experience. Not just the ride, but the whole experience leading up to the ride.

I keep an eye on Jessica as we move into the library and eventually the boiler room. This is another ride she didnít do the last time. Sheís doing fine. We move into the elevator. I donít remember the exact drop sequence but I do remember that when we dropped the first time, it was dark and I was expecting the doors to open first. However, the next drop the doors did open. After about a total of five drops, weíre off the ride. Jessica enjoyed it but not to the point where she wants to do it again. Kelsey and I want to come back when itís dark and give it a try. Weíll see.

The next thing we want to do is Muppet 3D. Again, I know this is not the best touring plan but we know what we want to do and how we want to do it. Once again, my familiarity with the park helps as we maneuver our way through the Studios, even though weíre doing some back tracking. As weíre near the fountain outside Muppet 3D, Jessica notices a station setup that does hair wraps. This is something that she absolutely wants to have done and has been mentioning for weeks. Sheís been wanting to do this ever since one of her best friends had her hair done on a trip to WDW over the holidays. Of course, weíll let her get it done . . .later.

We go to Muppet 3D, which has no line and head directly into the preshow area for Muppet 3D. Nothing new here except this time Jessica wears her glasses through the entire show (unlike the last time we were here). Cute show and very entertaining.

Okay, letís truck over to RnR. We wind our way back to the other side of the park and to the FP lane. I look at the regular line and canít quite figure out why so many people opt for this rather than getting an FP. We are quickly in the pre-show area and watch the Aerosmith piece and head out to the line and await our limo. As we listen to the limos screech, I can only imagine what the ride will be like. The anticipation is killing me.

As we are waiting in line, Kelsey takes my cell phone to call her best friend back home to give her the latest on our trip . . . and the upcoming ride as, with a little luck on our side, weíll end up in the front of the limo. In fact, we do end up being in the front. Well, Kelsey and Mom anyway. Jessica would rather be in the second seat, not up front, so I sit with her. I canít say enough about this ride as it is GREAT and one we will surely do again on this trip. Our only ďcomplaintĒ is that you canít hear the music all that well while riding.

As we exit RnR, Jessica is on a mission. Get that hair wrap. So, we all head back over towards Muppet 3D and mom waits with Jessie. Kelsey and I stroll to find the large pretzels. Well, this becomes a challenge. There is a stand set up on New York Street and Kelsey and I are the first customers. Guess what? No pretzels. The woman blames it on the ďdeliveryĒ person. Okay, no problem. Weíve got some time so weíll look around, and around, and around. We end up all the way back at a stand near RnR to get a pretzel and some water! Okay, even I have to admit we did way to much walking back and forth, back and forth and so on. Not good.

So, Kelsey and I mosie around some more, take some pictures and she calls her best friend again back home. ďGeez, Kelsey, how did we survive when there werenít cell phones?Ē ďDad, you mean you were alive when there werenít cell phones?Ē

We make our way over to where Jessie is getting her hair wrap. Well, not so fast. She is waiting to get her hair wrap. About five more minutes. Then another 30 minutes for the wrap. No problem, this is something she really, really wanted.

Itís about 12:30 so we decide to go back to the room for a quick freshen up before going to DtD (and after the multiple zig-zags across the Studios, a little rest would be nice). So, we walk back to the BWV and once again, Jessie times the walk. Yup, 12 minutes.

We relax for a bit, snacking and having some liquid refreshments and then get cleaned up for DtD. The plan is to do some shopping, eat at House of Blues and get to Cirque du Soleil. So we take the bus to DtD. We browse a few of the smaller shops and decide to go to House of Blues now, at 3:00, since weíre a bit hungry. BUT, we have to do some shopping in the House Blues first and this takes a little time. Particularly since there are numerous CDs to browse (you remember, my wife with the CD buying illness). And, yes, a CD purchase is made.

We go over to the restaurant and itís pretty empty and weíre seated right away. We order drinks as we inspect the menus. The jambalaya is calling me so thatíll be my choice. Kathy gets the Blues Burger, Jessie gets chicken fingers and Kelsey a bacon-cheeseburger. My jambalaya is very good as is everyone elseís food.

After dinner we head over to the Virgin record store and spend quite a bit of time browsing the numerous CDs. I am absolutely shocked that no one, not a single person in our group, not even my wife, makes a purchase.

Itís about time to head over to Cirque as it is recommended to get there one hour early. We head in, get in our seats (front row: Sec 102, row A, seats 1-4). Very nice. The theatre has about 100 or so people in it at this time. I take a picture of the girls sitting in their seats and am quickly visited by an usher. No pictures in the theatre. Geez, Iím sorry, I know you canít take pictures of/during the show but thought this was okay. My apologies.

About 20 minutes later, about 30 minutes prior to the show, the pre show starts. A cute clown show that if missed, is no big deal. While the pre-show is going on, the theatre is quickly filling up. AND, camera flashes going off as if Barry Bonds is going for number 700.

Show time! I will not go into any detail whatsoever on Cirque du Soleil. But I will say that this show is incredible. And although we had absolutely great seats, I canít see how there is a bad seat in the house. Sure, being up front was a real treat, but if anyone is hemming and hawing about whether to go based on seat location, DONíT!

This show is mesmerizing, entertaining, energetic, colorful, funny. . . you name it. There arenít enough adjectives to describe it. It certainly is on the expensive side but well worth the money.

The show ends around 8:30 and we exit the theatre. We stroll around DtD with no purpose and eventually end up at our bus stop. This was the only real ďproblemĒ with transportation we encountered for the week as we waited over 30 minutes for a bus. When our bus comes for the BWV, I was figuring that seats, even floor space, would be scarce. However, it wasnít bad, everyone had a seat, with some standing, and we get back around 10:00. We call it a night.

Impressions, pointers, recap:

Cirque dup Soleil Ė an absolute must do
House of Blues Ė a pleasant surprise
Sorry to say, we (I) missed doing the Tribute to Walt Disney. . .something I really wanted to see but forgot Ė YIKES!

Day Five, Thursday, February 19th
Animal Kingdom
Weather
High: 69 Low: 37, precip: 0.00

Hey, I slept fairly normal. Finally! And of course, the routine remains the same and we actually take it a bit slower than usual. After a brief breakfast in the room, we head over to the bus stop and wait for the bus to Animal Kingdom.

This is the least favorite park for us. Not in a bad way, just if we were to rank the parks, AK would come in last. There are only a few attractions we want to see and the park itself is tough to navigate, in my opinion. But, two things for sure we want to do are Itís Tough to Be a Bug and Kilimanjaro Safari. We missed both of these the last time due to Jessicaís unwillingness to do so. This time, sheís game. Also, if the weather were warmer, most of us wanted to do Kali River Rapids. Not today, rhough.

My plan is to get FastPass for ITTBAB, go to KS and back to ITTBAB. But for some reason (sorry, my notes are unclear here), we canít get FastPasses for ITTBAB. So I truck over to KS to get FastPasses and then back to ITTBAB.

We start walking through the queue area of ITTBAB. We are so is impressed with the carvings and being to see them up so close. We then enter the preshow area and wait about 10 minutes. This area can be a bit claustrophobic, or maybe it just seemed so for me, although Iím not claustrophobic. Weíre seated in the second row, almost at the end of our row. Of course the show is great and Jessie is quite happy weíve made it 4 for 4 on the 3D movies.

As we exit, we stop at a food stand to grab a couple of waters. This ends up being a challenge as the guy in front of us is getting a few snacks and drinks for his family. Nothing spectacular but the stand apparently just opened and the woman working was very flustered and was having a difficult time. It took over 5 minutes before I was waited on.

We now make our way over to KS. As I mentioned earlier, this is something Jessie wanted nothing to do with the first time we were here. She was 5 at the time and was in an uncooperative mood that day. This time, sheís game and she took a lot of video and still pictures. This is an enjoyable attraction and should not be missed.

We do some wondering around with no particular purpose, including some shopping. We stumble across the ďVine/Tree Lady.Ē An incredible scene to say the least. This woman gave some special attention to a physically and mentally handicapped young lady in a wheelchair. She was mesmerized by this moving vine person and it brought several smiles to her face.

We were planning on eating at the Rainforest Café and we head in that direction. We have 1:30 PS but itís only noon. So the ladies do some shopping in the store and I change our PS to the next available. We get seated at 12:30 and the dining room is not too crowded.

This is our first time in a RC and from what Iíve read it can be a bit noisy and the food quality spotty. I am happy to report that our food was just fine (burgers, chicken fingers and grilled cheese). Personally, I liked the Corona Bomber (thatís the larger version of a regular Corona beer. . . something like 18 or 24 oz.). As for the noise, yes, it was a bit noisy with the thunder and ďgorillasĒ but it wasnít overbearing. Of course our stay being only about an hour or so was key and about all I could have handled.

Itís a beautiful, sunny day as we head out of the RC. We decide to head over to the Studios to take in RnR again. We wait about 15 minutes for the bus, get to the Studios in about 15 minutes and head in. Itís not that crowed, but Iím not going to get into the definition of crowds again.

We check the board for the wait time for RnR and it says 40 minutes. We figure why not because the FP return time is too far away. So, we wait in line and it ends up not being too bad but certainly makes me appreciate FP that much more. The ride is just as good the second time around as the first. While in line we strike up a conversation with a man from St. Louis. During our talk he mentions it being rather crowded (his family frequents WDW). We mention to him about Presidentís Week for the schools in the NE. He says heíll try to avoid this time of year on subsequent visits.

When we exit RnR, Kelsey and I want to do ToT, (at night) but Jessie doesnít and Kathy is okay not doing it (though she would have if Jessie wanted to). So I go over and get Kelsey and I FPs and the return is for 5:35. Oh, well. Not going to be dark at that time but thatís okay.

We then take the walk back to the BWV. Still a 12 minute walk, thanks Jessie. We relax a bit having some snacks and drinks. Kelsey and I also do a little shopping on the Boardwalk. We bring our purchases back and I head over near the Bell Vue room where there are pay phones and Internet Access. I want to reserve our seats for our return flights, which on AirTran can be done 24 hours ahead of time. Damn! Iím about 30 minutes too early (back home I was somehow able to sneak in a little early). I go back to the room, tell Kathy sheíll have to reserve our seats because Kelsey and I have to head over to the Studios for ToT. Come on. I have my priorities in order!

Kelsey and I walk to the Studios and head right towards ToT. For the fun of it, we take a quick peak at the lines for RnR hoping that maybe, just maybe, we can sneak in one more ride here. No go. Oh, well it was worth a shot.

We go to the FP return line for ToT and work our way through the queue. We end up waiting in line a good 20 minutes. Longer than I had expected. During our wait, I witness the CCB#1 again (the large backpack on oneís back that nails the person on the other side of the chain . . .grrr). I also encounter not so much a CCB, but something that I donít have a lot of use for. A young couple, high school age, are with what appears to be a high school group. These two spent more time touching and feeling and in lip locks that I was feeling a bit uncomfortable. I took the opportunity to talk to my daughter on the inappropriateness of this kind of behavior and when she starts dating (sometime when sheís 30 or so) that her mother and I would not tolerate it and also would expect her to not do so in public, in or out of our view. Of course I was speaking a tad louder than usual in hopes of getting mine, and Iím sure others in line, point across. I wasnít too successful.

We wind our way through the queue and end up getting into our elevator and sitting down. Looking around, Kelsey and I notice there were 4 kids, not all together, that couldnít have been more than 1st graders. Iím not sure of the height requirement on ToT but they looked pretty small to us. Iím thinking this isnít going to be good and these kids are going to freak out. Guess weíll have to wait and see.

As weíre going through the ride Kelsey keeps bugging me about if Iím going to raise my hands up during the drop. Of course I will, well, maybe, well weíll see, I donít know. Leave me alone.

Well, here it is. The doors open and Kelsey elbows me to get the arms up. Of course itís my fault for introducing her to raising the arms on roller coaster rides long ago and now she does it all the time. Hey, look, Iíve got them up. Well one arm, anyway. Almost all the way up. Geez, I never used to be like this. Am I turning into a wimp as I get older?

The ride is over and Kelsey and I check out the little ones. One of the kids is ready to do it again, another one says something like he thought he was going to barf but wants to ride again. The other two just have smiles on their faces.

Kelsey and I take the stroll back to the BWV. During our walk, I start quizzing Kelsey on where certain rides are in the parks since sheíll be coming back to WDW in June with her class. I told her she needs to be able to navigate as well as I can, otherwise I was coming along as a chaperone. Yeah, right Dad. I donít think so. And why didnít I have school trips to WDW when I was a kid?

We get back to the room and discuss the evening plans. We decide that weíll just get a pizza from Spoodles, eat in and then head over to see Illuminations. So I head out to Spoodles and order the pizza at the window. It takes about 20 minutes and I bring it back to the room. Itís okay pizza but certainly not up to what weíre used to. Weíre somewhat spoiled back home with the number of pizza places and their quality.

After pizza and some relaxing we trek over to World Showcase around 7:30 or so and eventually stake out a position, up by the fence of the lagoon, near Canada. People are getting ready for the show, still an hour away, and filling in all the best viewing spots. The girls are next to the fence and Kathy and I are sitting back about 10 feet. Weíll be able to see fine and I want the girls to have the best view. There is a reason I am mentioning this so stay tuned.

Kathy leaves to get some snacks and drinks and I stay put. About 15 minutes later sheís back with a pretzel and some water. As show time draws nearer, the crowds are picking up. Where Jessie and Kelsey are, there is no room to their right or left. None. Zip. Nada. But, you guessed it. Here is CCB #5. If thereís no room do NOT try to pry yourself in to make room!!!! And what makes matters worse is this is a family of five, the kids ranging in age of about 6 to 10. Now my kids start to move trying to make room where this is none. As my kids make eye contact with me, I tell them to stay put. Doesnít the father try to justify whatís happening by saying, to no one in particular, that his kids have never seen the show. Please, do not try to make me or anyone else feel guilty due to your lack of preparedness. Now understand that this was nothing confrontational, no arguments in fact I never even said a word to this guy. But I do get peeved at antics like this. Off my soapbox.

Jessie videotapes the show as I take stills. I donít think thereís any need to describe this show and how well done it is. Simply great, and in true Disney fashion. And the nice thing is, at the end of the show, we get to take a very nice, leisurely stroll back to the Boardwalk. No need to walk with the masses to grab a bus/monorail.

As we walk the BW, we go into the Boardwalk Bakery hoping to get a brownie or cinnamon roll or the like. Nothing doing. Slim pickens. So we go to Seashore Sweets for some ice cream. The girl who waited on us was from Rochester and we had nice conversation with her. We take our treats outside and while eating out on a bench on the boardwalk a couple of ďtravelingĒ shows pop up and we watch from afar. Just something more to add to the great atmosphere here.

We head back to the room and call it a night. Our last night.

Impressions, pointers, recap:

As with any show such as Illuminations, be sure to get there early to get the best viewing spot possible.

Day Six: Friday, February 20th
Heading Home
Weather
Orlando: High: 74 Low: 41, precip: 0.00
Buffalo: High: 49 Low: 28, precip: 0.06

I sleep pretty well but still get up by 7:00. As I have stated, the routine remains the same. The only difference is today we have cleanup to do as well as packing. We have PS for Chef Mickeyís at 10:30. So, let the packing begin.

Weíre finished around 9:00 or so and gather up our stuff and take it to the front of the BW where they will house our belongings until 4:30 when we leave. This load is much lighter than when we arrived with all those groceries.

My challenge today is figuring out the best way to get from the BW, to the Contemporary for Chef Mickeyís then to DtD and then back to the BW. So, I have us take a bus to the MK and then we board the monorail to the Contemporary. Donít know if this is the best route but I thought so and it worked out just fine.

We have some time to kill before breakfast so we browse a couple of the CRís shops and buy a few things. We then head over to Chefís Mickeyís. Weíve never been here before and itís all that itís cracked up to be. First, the chaos is evident even before you sit down. Not in a bad way but thereís so much going on. Second, although weíre not really buffet-type people, the food is fine and plentiful. Jessica eats very little as she always seems a bit anxious on travel days whether itís in a car or plane.

The antics and parading of the characters is almost non-stop. It is very entertaining and especially enjoyable for the younger ones. Our girls enjoy this very much and ALL the characters make a stop by our table as well as all the others. The photo ops are many. One thing that needs to be pointed out, in case you havenít caught on: this is not the place to go if you want a quiet meal!

We leave Chef Mickeyís and go to the monorail. Now I do make an error here as I have us take the monorail to the TTC. But, I canít find a bus that will take us to DtD. So, we take the small walk to the Polynesian and grab a bus from here to DtD.

Itís close to 1:00 as we get off the bus at the Marketplace. The first shop we go into is 365 Days of Christmas. We take a lot of time browsing and making selections. Now in case I havenít mentioned, I am not a shopper. In fact, I have yet to make any type of personal purchase for myself. The most I usually get on any trip is maybe a hat or possibly a sweatshirt. But here the girls have me pick out a Christmas tree ornament as everyone else picked one out. We cash out and itís on to the next store.

We continue to shop and browse the afternoon away. Itís a beautiful, sunny, fairly warm day. I can only imagine the cold, snowy weather we will be in in about 8 hours. Ahhh, get that out of your mind and enjoy your last few hours in sunny Florida.

We eventually end up at Ghirardelliís for some ice cream. We sit outside and do some people watching. Afterwards at about 3:30, we figure we better head back to the BW as Tiffany is supposed to pick us up at 4:15 for our 6:15 flight. So we head to the bus stop at the Marketplace and take the ride back.

Upon returning we stroll the boardwalk one last time and sit on a bench. As weíre talking Kelsey keeps pestering me that I didnít buy myself anything. So I head to ESPN and pick out not only a sweatshirt but a hat, too. Wow, Iím such a shopper, now.

We head back up the stairs from the boardwalk to the front loop of the BW. We have our luggage pulled out of storage and wait for our driver. And we wait . . .and wait . . .and wait. I call Tiffany at 4:20 inquiring about my driver. They tell me he is on the way (not the same guy who brought us) and should be there momentarily. Iím not overly concerned as I realize that 2 hours is more than ample time to get to the airport. And sure enough, our driver arrives at 4:35. We load up and head out.

Shortly after we leave our driverís cell phone rings. It is a guy at the CBR wanting to know where he is. The driver explains that the office is having someone else get him as he had to come and get us. The guy at the CBR is furious! Now mind you he was supposed to be picked up at 4:45 and itís literally 4:46. And his flight isnít until 7:00, to boot (I know this because the driver told me)!!!! This guy keeps calling our driver every 2 minutes, no exaggeration. It got to the point that our driver simply didnít answer his phone, which I donít blame him and he politely told this guy to call the office (our driver also called the office as well as the driver that was going to the CBR).. Our driver was very polite, professional and understanding. But this guy was freaking out.

Unfortunately, this is a situation where Tiffany could get dinged on the boards by someone that I feel was being totally ridiculous. Iím willing to bet he got to the airport on time just fine, just like we did, even though the driver was a bit late. Iím telling you right now, I would never hesitate using Tiffany again.

We get to the airport and take off on time for our flight to Atlanta for a change of planes. Weíre delayed in Atlanta about an hour or so due to thunder and lightning and we get into Buffalo at 11:30 PM. Rainy and cold. Welcome to Western New York in the winter.

Impressions, pointers, recap:

Taking a relaxed approach on travel day worked out nice, like before, as we were able to continue to immerse ourselves in the Magic without going to a park.
Leaving as late as possible is a must. . .why rush home.
Travel day is also a good day for a Character Breakfast

Main pointers/recap / Misc. Tid Bits

  • First, I want to make mention of my CCBs (Common Courtesy Breaches). These were in no way as bad as I made them out here. They are more pet peeves of mine and Iím a little more aware of these types of behavior than most. They certainly didnít ruin our trip and I can say a scene was never made. In fact, I simply kept my emotions in check when I encountered these as I was not going to have my vacation nor these other peopleís vacation be ruined.
  • The trip was great. But I donít think as great as our first trip. The first trip the weather was better and the Christmas decorations added a lot. If I had to do it again, Iíd go Thanksgiving time.
  • I was able to get away from using a fanny back this time by wearing cargo shorts. These things have more pockets than a billiard hall.
  • I will continue to pat myself on the back in regards to having done my homework on WDW.
  • We enjoyed the countries of World Showcase a great deal. Glad we could actually take them in on this trip.
  • I would never hesitate renting from a DVCer! The cost is so attractive that you can actually stay at a deluxe for the price of a moderate, maybe even cheaper.
  • The pullout was not a problem for our two girls. It was comfortable enough and they had no problem sharing.
  • Since we rented from a DVCer, we only got housekeeping once during our stay. This presented no problems.
  • Since a Disney trip can be rather exhausting but know your limitations and donít be afraid to take some downtime.
  • For both trips I/we took the same approach. No formal touring is planned. One person should study the park maps and know what rides and attractions you want to see and then plan accordingly (and have contingencies).
  • This will probably be our last trip for a while. At the earliest, we may go back in about 4 years. We enjoy the beach (the Outer Banks in particular. . . we go every other year) and taking it easy. Quite possibly the Caribbean would be our next big trip.
  • Cirque du Soleil is well worth the money.
  • The BWV is a great choice. The ability to walk to two parks is such a convenience. Then add in the atmosphere and it just canít be beat (in our opinion).
  • In retrospect, Iím a little disappointed in the things we could have/should have done. Although they are too numerous to state here, I just wish we had done a few more things. Oh, well. Looks like the next trip might be sooner than expected!
  • And last, my main WDW resources, in no particular order:
    • www.mouseplanet.com
    • www.allears.net
    • www.disboards.com
    • www.wdwinfo.com
    • www.mousesavers.com
    • Official Disney maps of all the Parks & resorts Ė if you know anyone who is going, have them get you some
    • The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger

Paul Moriarty

paulzman@rochester.rr.com


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