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Bill Nuzzo -- May 2004 -- Walt Disney World (POFQ, BCR)


Cast of Characters

  • Bill (45), veteran of numerous WDW trips;
  • Jeanne (fortysomething), only her 4th WDW trip, but learning quick.

Prelude:

The plan is for a two week trip, staying at 2 different resorts. We'll be driving down from upstate NY in my van. I also conducted a donation drive at work for Give Kids The World (www.gktw.org), and as such, had a large amount of stuff to bring down to GKTW before we stopped at WDW. Among our plans for this trip, we want to eat at Fulton's Crab House, we have PS's at Ohanas, Boma, Chef's De France, & Teppanyaki. We are also planning on a night at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Universal Citywalk. We also plan on catching Flo & Eddie and also Arlo Guthrie at the Flower Power Concert series. We also have one of my co-workers from the NY State Police who will be joining us for a day at Epcot in the 2nd week, it is his and his wife's first trip to WDW in almost 15 years, so we're planning on giving them the royal tour, capped off with dinner at Teppanyaki. We planned on leaving Sunday morning, May 16, and driving to Savannah, GA. We like the Holiday Inn Express at Exit 94 on I-95, for two reasons. One is the fact that we get a Jacuzzi room, and the second, and most important, is we get it for free, since Jeanne has ton's of points with Holiday Inn from her company business travels. We also like the fact that WDW is just about a 4 hour drive from that point the next morning. We left Kingston, NY at 6:30am, and other than stopping at the JR Outlet in mid North Carolina, and the requisite gas stops, we didn't stop for any meals, so we made very good time. We had packed grub for the drive down, so food wasn't a problem. We wanted to make it to Savannah before 9pm, as we both are big Sopranos fans, and wanted to watch the episode from our room. We made it to Savannah at about 8:00pm, checked in without a hitch, and settled into the room. After a relaxing bath, we watched the Sopranos, (I hated the episode BTW, a very long dream sequence), and soon settled off to sleep. We didn't set the alarm, we figured we'd wake up early enough to head out to WDW.

Day 1 Monday, May 17, 2004:

We woke at about 7:00am, got showered and dressed, and after a breakfast across the street at Perkin's, hit I-95 south for the final leg of our trip. We were on the road by 8:30am heading southbound. We stopped at Exit 3 in Georgia for gas (which is usually the cheapest gas on the entire trip), and crossed over the bridge into Florida a short while later. We made a brief stop at the Murray Brothers Caddyshack restaurant in Florida. I loved the Caddyshack movie (the original, not the sequel), and whenever we pass the restaurant along 95 it always looked like an interesting place to stop. We got off the World Golf Village exit, and drove over to the restaurant. It appears to be an easy on-off from 95, but in reality, it is about a ten minute drive around the World Golf Village to actually get to the restaurant. As luck would have it, the restaurant was still closed, but the manager allowed us to come in anyway and visit the gift shop. The restaurant really didn't appear to be anything special, there were a few pictures from the movie, and some other golf related pictures around, but it was not what I would consider a true theme restaurant. Maybe I've been spoiled by Disney!! We went into the gift shop, which was rather small, and bought a few small trinkets. I was really disappointed in the selection available, it was very limited. We left the restaurant, and soon were back on 95 southbound, en-route to I-4.

Our first stop upon arriving in the Kissimmee area was at Wal-Mart on 192. We had money that was donated by my co-workers, in addition to the merchandise we had collected, and we spent the $216 that was collected, adding to our load of stuff for GKTW. We ended up with 16 coffeemakers, 10 clock radios, dozens of blank videos, a box of assorted Disney videos, batteries, and a large of bag of plush. We then drove down Bass Rd to Give Kids The World, and dropped off all the stuff, posing for pictures with the girls from the office (I can't remember their names). I was given a nice book and framed picture to bring back to work, and subsequently received a very nice letter at work a few weeks later. I really enjoy coordinating these drives at work, and look forward to many more in the future.

After GKTW, we left and headed over to the Premium Outlets off 535. I ended up buying a Cinderella Castle 3d thingy (I think it's called a castle model sheet) which was marked down from $85 to $26, along with most of the Disney desk set pieces, all of which were down at half price. The castle thingy is a LE of 1000, made of ceramic. I bought a Snow White one last year at the other outlet, and I really like them. It was a good visit, and it was well worth the time to stop there.

We then drove onto the WDW property, making sure to go through the main entrance, to experience the feeling of driving through the welcome arches. We arrived at Port Orleans- FQ at 3:30pm, and checked in in a matter of minutes. I had asked for a corner room in either building 2 or 5, and found out we had a corner room in Building 2, room 2201. It was a perfect location, only a minute walk to the pool, main building, or the boat dock. We unpacked, and then drove over to Boardwalk to park. We wanted to catch the Turtles concert at Epcot, and figured it was quicker to park at BW and enter through the IG. We made it with time to spare, and caught the Turtles (featuring Flo & Eddie) 5:45pm show. They are very funny to watch, and they said this was the eighth year they have played the Flower Power concert series at Epcot. I bought the live CD they sell, although it was a bit pricey at $24 for a single disc. I noticed some of the other Flower Power acts also had their cd's at the merchandise cart, and saw the Nelson disc (which appeared to be Ricky Nelson's kids singing his hit songs) was selling for $40 for a single disc. I wonder if anyone actually bought one of those?

We then strolled over to Teppanyaki for our dinner seating. We loved Teppanyaki on previous visits, so we made 3 PS's for different days at Teppanyaki for this trip. The first thing we noticed was that they no longer offered the carafe of house wine with dinner, which at $18, had been a bargain. Now the cheapest bottle of wine was almost $30. In addition, you used to be able to upgrade from regular steak to filet mignon for a dollar extra, it is now $5 extra. They also raised the prices substantially, so it really cost about $10 more for the entree than last December. The tenderloin and shrimp combo used to be $25.95, now it is $34.95, in only 6 months. Couple that with the wine increase, and it really is a big price increase. Oh, and to make up for the price increase, they were kind enough to no longer include the salad with the dinner, so you pay $10 more for less food. I really enjoyed the ginger salad dressing in the past too, but I skipped the salad this time around, as I didn't feel it was worth the extra money on top of the other price increase. I had the filet & shrimp, Jeanne had the shrimp & chicken. Jeanne had a glass of wine, and I had a soda. The total came to $91, which was more than it cost us in December with a full carafe of wine and our salads included. I was very disappointed in the amount of the price increase, although the food was still very good.

We finished up in time to head back to the America Gardens theater, and catch the tail end of the Flo & Eddie 7:15pm show. We then got in line after the show for an autograph of the CD we bought, and a couple of pics with Flo & Eddie. It was a fun moment, and the pics came out great. We then stayed for the 8:15pm show, although it was almost identical to the earlier shows, even the dialogue was the same. But it was still a good show none the less. They play all their usual hits, like She'd Rather Be With Me, Elenore G, It Ain't Me Babe, and Happy Together, interspersed with comedic dialogue. They certainly put on a fun show, and I hope they continue to play this series in future years.

We then left the theater and headed over to our usual spot in Germany for Illuminations. I like this spot for two reasons. One, it is usually easy to get a spot right near the boat dock only minutes before the show starts, and two, the beer cart in Germany has cold German beer and pretty German lasses pouring it!! We staked out a spot, I fetched a brewski (they replaced Becks with Lowenbrau), and we settled in to watch Illuminations, making it a perfect day at WDW!!!!

After Illuminations, we took a slow walk back to Boardwalk, retrieved the van, and drove to Pleasure Island. We bought our new AP's (which came to $47.88 with our regular AP discount), and entered PI. We walked to the Art of Disney store, and much to my horror, found it was no longer there, replaced by a cheap version of a game room. I also found a large changeover in the shops at PI, none for the better in my opinion. I was really disappointed in this, as we always loved to browse and shop the PI stores between Comedy Warehouse shows. I have bought several items from that Gallery store, now I guess I'll have to do it elsewhere. We then went down to Comedy Warehouse, and caught the 10:30pm show. The cast consisted of Joy (Jeannes favorite), Krista, Mark, Jake & Brian. The show was very good, but I didn't make note of the specific sketches, so you're out of luck there. We left PI after that show, and were back at PO-FQ at 11:40pm. We then went for a nice romantic stroll along the river for about 45 minutes or so, it was really beautiful out and it was a perfect night for a walk. We then hit the room and hit the sack soon after.

Day 2 Tuesday, May 18, 2004:

We woke late this morning, no real surprise after all we accomplished yesterday. We took our time getting ready, Jeanne enjoyed her coffee, and I watched the Resort TV channel. At 11:30am we drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge, and parked. We had a dinner PS at Boma for tonight, and felt it would be easier to leave the van there, and bus it to a park and back. Then after dinner we would have the van in place to go to PI. We hopped on a bus to AK, and entered with no delay. We stopped at the Island Mercantile, and picked up some new annual passholder pins. We then went and got Kilimanjaro Safari FP's, good for 12:45-> 1:45pm. We then hoofed it over to Flame Tree BBQ. We bought two of the adult meal vouchers ($25), and ordered a BBQ pork sammich for me, and a grilled chicken salad for Jeanne, along with beverages. We then went out to the seating area that overlooks the Discovery River, and enjoyed our lunch. The work on Expedition Everest seems to be progressing nicely since our last visit in December. The BBQ pork sammich was nothing spectacular, I think I should have gone with my usual BBQ chicken which is always good. Jeanne enjoyed her salad. We then walked back to Africa via the rear paths, and saw DeVine along the walkway doing her thing. She is the woman who appears to be a vine tree, and is quite good at it. Jeanne finds it creepy, but I enjoy it. She drew a good size crowd, who seemed amused by her antics (DeVine that is, not Jeanne). We then made it to the Gorilla trek , since we still had some time to kill before our FP's. We did the walk, but it was really very slow in there today. We only saw one gorilla, and he was off in the distance and hard to see. We'll try this again later, and hopefully have better luck. We then went to Kilimanjaro and rode our Safari using the FP. It was a great ride, and I got a ton of pictures. Some of them came out very well too, I might add.

After KS, we wanted to catch Festival of the Lion King, which is my favorite show on property. When they got to the part where the girl flies in the air during "Can You Feel The Love Tonight", she danced on the stage, but didn't do the aerial stuff. That segment seemed out of synch, and I was hoping it was a one time thing, not a new part of the show. We asked a CM after the show, and she said it had to do with the performer who usually helps during that part of the show not being available, and most certainly would return to the usual show for later shows.

After FOTLK we took a walk on some of the trails behind the Tree of Life, which for some reason I've never noticed before. We found some interesting animals back there, including the capybara and some exotic birds. It was a nice distraction, and once again, I got some great pictures. We then walked back to Africa, and paid a visit to the Dawa Bar. I grabbed a Jewel of the Nile, which was $6, and it tasted delicious. It consists of Capt Morgan rum, blue curacao, pineapple juice, and sour mix. It was delicious and not too boozy tasting. We found a table under the covered area, and enjoyed the Jammin' Jungle parade from there. It was a great spot, and a very relaxing break. I love the music for this parade, especially the ending part, "We're all one world". Unfortunately, this part is abbreviated on the park music cd.I bought. I was really put into a good mood by the setting, the music, and the Jewel of the Nile!!! As the parade ended, we decided to hit the safari once more, and had no wait at all. It was a very good ride, with a lively driver. The animals were very active too, and I got some great pictures of the lions this go round. After our safari, we headed back to the bus stop, and caught the bus to AKL.

We wandered around AKL for a while as we had some time to kill before our PS at Boma. We ventured into the arcade, and I tried one of the race car driving games, it was fun but not something I would want to do more than once. We finally made it inside to Boma, placed our name on the list, and were soon seated. The dinner was great, and the service was superb tonight. I asked for, and was able to get Frunch with my dinner, it's not on the dinner menu, but if you ask, they will usually find some for you. The dinner came to $71.69 with tip, and was worth every cent. After dinner, we hopped in the van, and drove over to PI. At PI we went into the Adventurers Club, where Sugar Snap the Maid declared I was the new mayor of the AC. Unfortunately, being mayor didn't seem to include any perks (such as free drinks!!!). After some time in the AC, it was time to head over to the CW for the 8:20pm show. The cast was Mary, Joy (still Jeanne's favorite), Krista, Phillip (my favorite), and Matt. One of the highlights of the show was when they asked for an audience suggestion for a poem. Someone yelled out " defenestration", which is certainly an unusual word. Phillip took up the challenge, and did a remarkably funny poem based on that word (which means falling to death from a great height). It was absolutely hilarious, involving him posing as a medieval type in a castle tower, with a gas problem, which subsequently propels him out the window to his death by defenestration. It was one of the funniest moments I've ever experienced at CW, and Phillip once again showed me why he is my favorite!!!

After that show, we wandered around, but the shops are just not that interesting anymore since they changed them around. We then got back into CW for the 9:15pm show, which had Joy (still Jeanne's favorite), Krista, Matt, Jake & Phillip (still my favorite). The show was pretty good, but nothing could live up to Phillip's act in the opening show. We also stayed and caught the 10:30pm show, which had Matt, Jake, Mary, Lisa (the least favorite of both of us), and Robby (who is new to us, but seems to be pretty good ). After the show we chatted for a few minutes with Matt & Mary, who recognized us from previous trips. We then headed back to PO-FQ at 11:45pm, and went to bed after a long day.

Day 3 Wednesday , May 19, 2004:

We got up, got showered and dressed, and headed over to CVS on 192, as Jeanne had to pick up a prescription. While waiting for her prescription, I tried the free blood pressure cuff thingy, and found my BP is slightly elevated, which came as a shock, as it's usually a bit below average. I better get it checked when I return. We then drove back to PO-FQ, parked the van, and headed over to the boat dock for the boat ride to DTD. We had a very good skipper, Donald, who provided a steady stream of narration along the trip. He told us about the treehouse villas, the wildlife along the route, and the new Saratoga Springs. He even pointed out a few birds along the way too. He really enjoyed his job, and it made for a very enjoyable trip. We docked at DTD Marketplace, and exited the boat. We decided to check out Earl of Sandwich, which wasn't open on our last trip. There was no line to speak of inside. I ordered the "Original", which is roast beef, cheddar cheese, and horseradish sauce, heated on a warm roll. Jeanne had the Cobb Salad, which is freshly made as you order, and I had a coke. The total came to $13, which was very reasonable, and the food was very good. We enjoyed the food at the indoor tables, but there are also additional tables outside if you desire them.

After eating, we made it over to World of Disney for some shopping. I bought a few more desk set pieces that were marked down (I didn't get the complete set at the outlet), a tie, a candle, the new Wishes CD, a picture frame, and an anklet. The total came to $112 with my AP discount. We then hit the home shop, where we bought a white Mickey toothbrush holder, and a white Mickey soapdish, which came to $19. We then hit Basin, and bought some of the soaps in there, in particular the vanilla ones that smell so good. They even had one with Mickeys inside, so we got one of those too. We then walked back to the boat dock, and caught a boat back to PO. Unfortunately, we had a different and much more sedate skipper, I don't think he said two words the entire trip back. I did manage to take a bunch of pictures on the trip though.

Once we arrived back at PO, we stopped by the room, freshened up, and then went out front and caught a bus to the MK, arriving at 4:00pm. When we entered the MK, we went straight to City Hall, and I inquired about signing up for the Veteran of the Day ceremony during my stay. They had several openings available, and I signed up for Thursday, May 27. This involves being selected to assist with the MK Color Guard doing the daily flag retreat ceremony, and it is a very nice event. I did this on my last trip in December, and was glad to be able to do it once again. After leaving City Hall, I noticed the Main St Gallery was closed, and they had a sign directing people to the shop inside the castle for Gallery merchandise. I hope this wasn't a trend towards reducing the gallery stores, first the one at PI, now the one at MK. We then wandered over to the Haunted Mansion, and rode it with no wait at all. After the ride was over , it started to rain, and we went to the castle. I checked out the gallery store inside, and bought a 11x14 matted print of Walt Disney, riding in a car with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. It cost $18, and had a little metal nameplate under the picture with Walt's signature. We then left the castle, went to Peter Pan and got a FP for later on, and went back to City Hall to try for a dinner PS. They had an opening at Liberty Tree Tavern for 8:05pm. We have never eaten there, so we figured we would give it a try and took the PS. We then wandered up Main St, and stopped at the Main St Ice cream Parlor, where we each had a Coke Float, which came to $7.50 for the two. We then walked over to Peter Pan, and rode it using our FP's. We then walked over to Tomorrowland, and got a FP for Buzz Lightyear. We then rode Carousel of Progress, with about only ten or so people. After COP, we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and then followed that up with a spin on Buzz with our FP's.

It was then time to mosey over to Liberty Tree Tavern, and we arrived at 8:00pm. The lobby was packed, and there was one extremely upset guy with his family who was loudly complaining that he had been passed over. He was getting really annoying, and they finally found him a table. We ended up waiting until 8:35pm, which meant we were going to miss Wishes, but I knew we would get to see it some other night. The food was very good, I believe there was ham, roast turkey, and roast beef, along with stuffing, and a very good salad. The characters also came by a few times, and we grabbed a few pictures. The dinner came to $46, with a $9 tip, for a total of $55. As expected, Wishes commenced while we were eating, and although we could hear a little bit of it, we had no chance to see the fireworks.

After dinner, as this was one of the late night Extra Hours nights, we hit Jungle Cruise, with about a ten minute wait. The park was very crowded, much more so than on an E Ride Night. After Jungle Cruise, we walked over to Pooh, and got a FP. The FP didn't list a time for another FP, so we walked to Tomorrowland, and I found I was able to get a FP for Buzz. I then walked to Space Mountain, and found I was able to get on for there also. It appears they allow FP's, but don't limit them to the 2 hour window they use during regular park hours. Tomorrowland was extremely crowded, but having the FP's definitely helped. Most people didn't even try to get FP's, maybe they didn't think they were available that night. We went to ride Buzz, using our FP, but unfortunately, the guns in our car didn't work. We told the CM at the end of the ride, and he allowed us to stay on and ride it a 2nd time, without exiting the ride. That was very nice, although my score didn't reflect my added experience as a return rider. After Buzz, I rode Space, while Jeanne waited. I got the back seat, on the right side, and had an enjoyable ride. After Space, we walked back to Fantasyland, and rode Pooh with our FP. We still had about a 10 minute wait with the FP, but it was better than the standby line. We then went to Mickey's Philharmagic, and were able to do it 2x in a row, as the theater was only about 1/3 full. After the 2nd sitting of Philharmagic, we went and rode BTMRR, which had no line at all. Then we followed that up with Splash Mountain, which also had no line. We definitely got our money's worth tonight, even with the large crowds for the Extra Magic Hours. I do think I would prefer the old E Nights instead, as the crowds are much smaller, even if you do have to pay the extra $12. After Splash, we wandered out the exit, catching a bus at 12:15am back to PO.

Day 4 Thursday , May 20, 2004:

We started the day on the phone today. I called and made a spa appointment for Jeanne, she wanted a pedicure, so we booked one at the Grand Floridian Spa for 2:00pm later that day. I then called Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, and found they do indeed take reservations, so we made a dinner reservation for Tuesday at 7:15pm. We then took a drive to the Belz Outlet Malls, and checked out the Character Warehouse & Character Premiere outlet shops. We didn't really see anything worth getting, unlike the Premium Outlet earlier in the week. We then drove to PO, picked up the camera, and then got back in the van and drove to the Polynesian for lunch. We had lunch at Kona, and it was delicious. We started with the crab cakes appetizer, then I had the blackened Mahi sandwich, while Jeanne had a chicken Caesar salad, and KoKo Puffs for dessert. The whole meal was great, and it tasted even better when my AP discount was applied, making the final tally $34, with a $7 tip, for a $41 total. We then hopped a monorail to the Grand Floridian so Jeanne could get her pedicure. After we walked to the spa, and Jeanne was ushered inside for her treatment, I decided to take a tour of the monorail resorts. I went back inside the GF, hit the monorail platform, and hopped on the monorail to the Contemporary. The car I was in had a couple with their two daughters sitting across from me, and for the entire trip to the MK and onto the Contemp, this wife did nothing but nag and nag and nag to no end. She did a non stop nag about everything at Disney, complaining about the Contemporary Resort, the parks, the housekeeping service, and everything else. Her poor schlub of a husband never got a word in. She had a really screechy voice, and it was definitely annoying to be in the same car. I almost told her to shut up, but I held my tongue. We finally arrived at the Contemporary, and they exited as I did, with her still running off at the mouth non stop. I really felt sorry for the husband, it seemed like he tried to take his family on a decent vacation, and this witch could do nothing but complain. One of her gripes was that housekeeping had emptied her trash, after she had mistakenly thrown out a credit card statement, which she wanted to save. As if it was their job to inspect the garbage to make sure nothing was accidentally thrown out. When I last heard her, she was telling her husband that she was going to make someone from management go through the dumpsters to find her statement. What a way to ruin someone's Disney spirit.

I browsed the Contemporary shops, and didn't see anything I needed or wanted, nor did I see any manager going through dumpsters! I then caught the monorail back to the GF, and browsed the shops there for awhile. When it was time to meet Jeanne, I walked back to the spa, and met her just as she was finishing up. She said her dogs (feet for those of you unaccustomed to the phrase) were feeling great from the pedicure, and it was well worth the expense, which I believe was $65 plus tip. We then took the walkway to the Polynesian, checking out the wedding pavilion along the way, where we snapped a few pictures. They had a full slate of weddings on the board, I guess even for a weekday they do a great wedding business there, as they were scheduled throughout the day, starting at 10:00am. They have a list on the board that lists all the days weddings. We then drove back from the Polynesian to PO, stopping at the gift shop at PO to pick up our loot from the previous day.

After putting our stuff away, we drove over to AK at 4pm. This was another extra magic hour late day, which is why we made the late drive over. We made our way to Africa, and sat at the Dawa Bar covered area, had another Jewel of the Nile, and watched the tail end of the Jammin' Jungle parade. We then did the gorilla trek, and there was a male gorilla hanging out right inside the window area, keeping an eye on us. After we met with his approval, we moved on. There was also a hippo right up by the window in the pool area, which is something we had never seen before. They are usually at the other end of the pool, away from the glass. We then exited the trail, and went on Kilimanjaro. The animals were again very active, with the crocs swimming around, the lions pacing back and forth, and the driver doing a really good job. The whole safari was excellent today. We then had time for the final FOTLK show, which was at 6:15pm today. It was a great show, and I was glad to see that the aerial sequence was back in the show again. I was in a great mood after this brief visit to AK.

We then left AK, and drove to PI. We hit the AC for about a half an hour, but it was rather quiet. We then caught the 8:20pm CW show, which featured John, Krista, Matt, Mary, & Mark. It was very good show, although once again I don't have any specifics to report. We then stuck around and came back inside for the 9:15pm show, which featured Lisa (not our favorite), Matt, Mary, John, and Krista. It was extremely crowded, and it was a decent show, but we decided to leave afterwards, as it seemed the following show would be packed. We left PI, and went back to PO, arriving at 10:30pm. We took a leisurely walk around the riverbank path, and sat on a bench by the river relaxing for about thirty minutes or so. It was very relaxing, and a nice end to the day.

Day 5 Friday , May 21, 2004:

We got up somewhat late, and after getting ready, hit a bus to Epcot. We arrived at Epcot at 11:30am, and the first order of the day was to get a Mission Space FP. After securing those, it was off to Pin Central, for some more AP pins, and the Flower & Garden pins. We then walked to the Land Pavilion, as the tip board said there was no wait for Living With The Land. Unfortunately, the tip board was wrong, as there was a very long line. We decided to eat in the Sunshine Season food court. I had a chicken parm plate and a coke, while Jeanne had a salad. The cost came to $15, and the chicken parm was awful, almost like school cafeteria food. I left most of it untouched, and threw it out. Remind me never to eat there again!!! Before leaving, we got a FP for Living With The Land, and walked back over to Mission Space. We used our FP's but there was no line to speak of, so we rode it a second time in the regular line. Our Land FP was now active, so we went to Test Track and got FP's for Test Track. We then walked back across FW, and decided to ride Figment first. We rode it with no wait, and enjoyed the journey into our imagination once more. We then walked to the Land, and rode Living With The Land. I think this is the first time I've rode it since they switched it to a FP ride. It was enjoyable, but I really don't think this should be a FP ride. We then did the Living Seas, and it had the Nemo theming up, but otherwise hasn't changed much in years, with the exception of the removal of the ride part. This whole pavilion could use a major upgrade. We then made our way over to Test Track, and rode it using our FP's. After TT, we went on Spaceship Earth, which had no wait at all at this time of day. After SE, it was time to visit the World Showcase.

We made our way across the path to WS, enjoying the various topiary displays from the Flower & Garden show. We also stopped for a bunch of pictures, among the various displays. We turned towards Mexico, and stopped inside. After browsing a bit, we rode the Mexico boat ride with no line. After exiting the building, we stopped and each had a fiesta margarita at the little stand outside of Mexico. The fiesta is the mix of the four flavors, and costs $7.25. It was a nice refresher and was very tasty. We wanted to do Maelstrom next, but with a 25 minute wait, we decided to pass on it. We then continued around WS towards the USA, admiring the floral displays at each country. At the USA pavilion, I saw a CM I knew named Lonnie, so we stopped to say hello to him. He knows of my interest in working for WDW when I retire, and he told me about an upcoming job fair to be held at the casting center. He also recommended catching different Eric Burdon shows, saying that Eric did a different set each show, unlike some artists who play the same set for each of their 30 minute shows. After posing for a few pics with him, we walked to Japan, and got a Kaki Gori each, and then headed back to the America Gardens Theater, for the Eric Burdon & The Animals 5:45pm show. After the show, which was nothing special, we made our way to France, for our PS at Chef's De France at 7:00pm. We were promptly seated, and I ordered the flat bread appetizer, and the duck entree, while Jeanne had the seafood skewers. We also ordered a bottle of Merlot. The food was very good all around, as was the wine. The total came to $83, with a $16 tip, for a total of $99.

After dinner, we made our way back to the America Gardens Theater, for the 8:15pm Eric Burdon show. This show was much better musically than the earlier show, and he played a song I enjoy, Spill The Wine. To tell the truth, I didn't even know it was one of his songs, but I've always enjoyed it. We did have to deal with four refugees from a trailer park sitting in front of us, smoking like chimneys, hooting and hollering and cussin' and yelling out requests. They were drunk as skunks, and smelled just as bad. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a row, and really couldn't move in the middle of the show. When the show ended, they stood up screaming they were ripped off because there was no encore. They really needed to get back to the Jerry Springer audience, which is where they belonged. After that show (both the music show & the trailer trash show), we exited the theater and walked over to Germany, to watch Illuminations. As is my custom, a frosty lager was obtained from the beer cart, and we found our usual spot near the boat dock with no problem. We enjoyed the fireworks, and after it was over, took a leisurely walk to the front of the park. Usually we avoid crowded busses by taking our time, but it didn't work tonight. The bus was mobbed for the ride back, at least PO-FQ is the first stop!! We got back at 10:00pm, and hit the hot tub for a while, then the pool. We then did our nightly river path walk before settling into bed.

Day 6 Saturday , May 22, 2004:

I got up this morning, and decided to go visit the job fair Lonnie from Epcot had told me about. It was much hotter out today than it had been all week. I drove over to the casting center , across from DTD Marketplace, and parked. The lot was full, and they had a tent set up. They were handing out sheets, and offering interviews on the spot, for jobs in transportation, food service, resort and park operations and a few others. I spoke with several people, all of whom were very friendly. Unfortunately, this fair was geared towards those looking to start immediately, not in the future like I am, so I didn't fill out any applications. Except for bus drivers, most jobs they were offering were part time. I'll just have to wait until retirement, which is looking to be next April or May, depending on our current contract negotiations.

After leaving the job fest, I drove back to PO. We brought our dirty clothes to the laundry next to the pool, and while the clothes soaked in the washer, we soaked in the pool. After finishing up our laundry and our pool time, we went back to the room, and put away the clothes. We then decided to see Shrek 2 at DTD. We drove down to DTD, and found they no longer give an AP discount at the theater, but there was matinee price in effect for $7. Shrek 2 was even better than the original, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. After the movie, we browsed DTD West Side, and then decided to revisit the Premium Outlet. We drove back to PO at about 5:00pm, and picked up our previous purchases at the gift shop, and got ready for dinner.

We then took a bus to the Magic Kingdom, and from there caught a boat to the Polynesian, which is a great way to travel. I love those small boats, and they are a relaxing way to get around the lagoon. We had a PS for dinner, but still had to endure a 45 minute wait for a table, partly because we wanted to be seated in the main room, not in the rear part. I guess there are worse things in life than to have to sit and wait 45 minutes in a Disney resort, while enjoying a cocktail !!!

We had dinner in the main room as requested, and it was tasty as always, but neither of us had the pork. We stuck with the beef and shrimp for the most part, with Jeanne having some of the turkey. She also had a glass of wine. They still provide the pineapple with caramel sauce after you're done with dinner, which is a very nice touch (and also a very tasty one too) . The tab came to $56, with a $10 tip, for a total of $66.

After chow we caught a boat back to the MK, arriving at 8:45pm. Once we entered, the crowds were very large, and we were directed to a backstage path to get up Main St. This took us behind the shops on the right side of the street, and was very smelly and definitely not "Good Show". We exited the backstage area near the Plaza Pavilion, and were back in the MK as we know and love it, not an alleyway full of dumpsters and CM's on smoke breaks. I prefer to make my up Main St via the shops when it's crowded. We cut across Main St, and made our way to Jungle Cruise, which is always best at night. There was a short wait of 5 minutes, and we were on our way. The skipper was named Scott, and he did a fantastic job, he was very enthusiastic in his role. After JC , we walked to Pirates, and again rode with no wait. We then walked to Liberty Square, and watched Wishes from in front of the Liberty Tree Tavern area. It was a pretty good spot, even with the large crowds in the MK this evening.

After Wishes was over, we walked through Fantasyland. It smelled really horrible walking past Peter Pan, and then we discovered the sewers were backed up, with water running out of the manholes. It smelled disgusting, and people were walking through the water without realizing what it was. It stretched from the far side of Peter Pans queue to the entrance to Mickeys Philharmagic. We then ducked into Philharmagic to get away from the stench, and were seated after a five minute wait. We enjoyed the show, and when we left, it appeared the manholes were still bubbling up, so we left Fantasyland. We headed over to Buzz Lightyear, and rode it with only a five minute wait. It was odd, that there were such short waits even though there were large crowds, although a lot of people did leave after Wishes. After Buzz we made our way back to Liberty Square for the late running of Spectromagic. We staked out a spot right near the bridge into Liberty Square, across from the Christmas shop. We had a front row spot and didn't have to wait long for the parade. After Spectro, which is a favorite of mine, we took our time leaving the park, catching a bus back to PO at midnight.

Day 7 Sunday , May 23, 2004:

We got off to another late start today, sort of lazing around after the late night the previous evening. We finally got in gear, and caught a bus to MGM at noon. The park was very crowded and there were long waits for everything. We went a got a FP (1 each, since Jeanne doesn't ride either) for Rock & Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, with return times of 3-4pm for RnRC and 5-6p for TOT. We then stopped by the dining info booth, and made a PS for the 50's PTC for a 2:30pm lunch. We had time to catch the 1:30pm Millionaire show, so went inside, timing it just right so we didn't have to wait. The interior of the show was freezing, the a/c was on full blast, and it was so cold it was uncomfortable. The show opened with a fastest finger question, spelling the word lime, which was one of the easiest I have ever seen. The winner made it in 0.7 seconds, which was remarkable. Usually if it's that quick, it's someone who just hit the keypad randomly, but the winner actually spelled it out, or so he said. He went along pretty good, and as the score progressed, I was at the top of the leader board at 32,000. I then got the next one wrong, which had something to do with which country in South America is not bordered by Brazil. The hot seat contestant also got it wrong, and then the show was over, so I wouldn't have made it anyway after getting one wrong. I was glad to get back outside in the warm air.

We then walked over to the BAH, and browsed the pins. We didn't have time to buy any, as it was nearing chow time at the Prime Time Café. We walked over, and gave our name to our cuz at the front desk. Unfortunately, our familial connections didn't amount to much, as we still had to wait 20 minutes for a seat. We were waited on by Big Brother Scott, who did a fine job keeping us in line. We had the fried cheese appetizer, two chocolate malteds, I had the fried chicken, and Jeanne had the chicken sammich. The total came to $45, with a $9 tip, for a grand total of $54. As always, the portions were very large, and we left stuffed.

After finishing with our grub, it was back to the Rock & Roller Coaster. There was a huge line, but thanks to my trusty FP, I was on in no time, while Jeanne waited for me outside. I took the front row once again, and had a great ride. After the ride, I met Jeanne outside, and we walked to the backlot for the tram ride. It seemed rather short with out the residential section, and they only briefly addressed the upcoming new stunt show stadium. After the backstage ride, we walked back to the BAH. I saw another guy ask for and receive his AP MGM commemorative coin. I thought they had run out weeks ago, so I had never bothered to ask for one. We each showed our AP's and got a free MGM Anniversary coin in a nice sealed package, and best of all, it was free!! And you know the old saying about freebies, the only time you say no, is when they ask if you've had enough! We also bought an MGM 15th anniversary LE pin while we were there. We then headed over to the sweets shop, and I bought a strawberry slush drink. We then hoofed it over to the TOT, and I rode it with my FP, while Jeanne waited outside. Once again, the standby line was huge, and the FP saved the day. I rode mine in the front row, and enjoyed it thoroughly. After TOT, we decided to head back to PO. On the way out we stopped at the Five & Dime (I think that's what it's called), and Jeanne bought an embroidered cat towel, with the Cheshire Cat and her daughter's name on it. It was somewhere around $20, but I'm not sure exactly as she paid for it. The bus was packed, even though it was not closing time. We arrived at PO at 6:00pm, and hit the pool for awhile before heading out for the night.

We then left the pool, got dressed, and hit the boat dock to take a boat to DTD. The ride was nice and relaxing, and we arrived at 8:30pm. We walked over to PI, and found they had instituted a new, and in our opinion, not so good policy. They removed the ticket turnstiles, so anyone can wander around PI, even without a ticket. Anytime you enter a club, you have to show a pass, which created lines at AC, and later slowed down entry to CW. It was very annoying to have to produce our AP and ID every time we re-entered a club. In addition, there were hordes of people milling around, with no real attempt at control. It seemed like the outdoor bars were doing a booming business, as anyone of age could purchase a drink, even without a PI ticket. The only people hurt by this change are the passholders and those who pay to enter the clubs. The clubs were not any busier even though the streets were more crowded. In fact, it seemed a hindrance if you wanted to enter a cluband were a non-ticketed guest enjoying the sights, you had to go down to the old ticket booth, buy a pass, and then return to the club. You can not buy a ticket at a club, even though they have turnstiles at every club now. We subsequently spent 15 minutes at the AC, then went over to CW for the 9:15pm show, which featured Joy (Jeanne's favorite), Mary, John, Rob, and Brian. We also stuck around and caught the 10:30pm CW show, which again featured Joy (still Jeanne's favorite), Christine, Jake, Mary, and Brian (who gets my vote for most cerebral of the cast). After that show, we caught the bus back to PO, and it was packed to the gills. And to top it off, the bus driver decided to do PO-R first, even though the normal route is PO-FQ 1st. We finally got back to PO-FQ at midnight, and decided to forego the river path walk tonight.

Day 8 Monday , May 24, 2004:

We were off to an early (for us anyway) start today. Our plan was to head to Epcot, and meet my co-worker Mike, and his wife Jocelyn. They were staying at their daughters time share in Kissimmee, and this was their only day to visit WDW. We were going to be their unofficial guides, as they had not been here in many years. We hopped on a bus to Epcot, and got there at 9:30am. We went to the tip board, and after a few minutes, met up with Mike & Jocelyn. Mike is 62, and his wife is about the same age frame, so we had expected they would want a somewhat sedentary schedule. The first thing they both asked us about was Mission Space, which was a surprise. They sounded very enthusiastic, and said they were both looking forward to it. I asked if they knew about the ride, and that it was a bit rough, but they were all for going on it. So we headed over to MS and got our FP's for 11am to 12noon. We then took a walk to Innoventions to kill some time, and did the Monsanto House of the Future Tour. It was ok, but several of the electronic doo-dads did not want to cooperate with the CM giving the tour. I still like the strobe clock on the wall in one room, and the 3d Sorcerers Apprentice in another room. After the tour, we went over to Universe of Energy, and after a 10 minute wait outside, went in and saw the show. Mike & his wife are not big fans of Ellen, but I told him as lame as her jokes were in U of E pre-show, it was a big improvement over the previous pre-show. After U of E, we walked over to Test Track, but there was a 75 minute wait on standby, and there were no FP's available until 2:15pm, so we passed on those. We then walked over to MS, and rode it with our FP's. It turned out to be hilarious. Mike is actually like an overgrown kid, and he was really into the whole thing. He kept reminding Jocelyn to push the correct buttons after watching the pre-show, and he was genuinely worried about the consequences if one of us didn't do the right thing with our buttons. When the ride started, I noticed from the corner of my eyes that Jocelyn, who was in the far right seat, didn't push her buttons when the time came. As the ride ended, and the doors opened, Jocelyn was in her seat, pale as a ghost, and she asked in a real queasy voice if we had to do a return journey back to Earth. Mike immediately told her that we crashed into Mars because she forgot to push her buttons, and she told us she was about 5 seconds from losing breakfast on the ride. Mike kept on about her causing us to crash, but he did it in a joking manner, not being mean spirited. She was extremely happy to hear that she did not have to endure the round trip back to Earth.

After getting her Earth feet back, we decided to do Spaceship Earth, and walked over. There was a short 10 minute wait, which was no problem. We rode the ride, and she was fine after that. We then paid a visit to Ice Station Cool, and Mike got suckered into the ole' Beverly tastes good trick. You should have seen the look on his face when took a mouthful, after my glowing recommendations as to how tasty it was. He never bothered to read the description, he just chugged it down. Jocelyn thought it was pretty funny, and made up for his getting on her about us crashing into Mars because of her. Mike & Jocelyn then decided they needed a smoke break, so we found the smoking area behind the building housing Innoventions West, and took a break. Mike took some video of the floral displays along the area while we were waiting there. After they were finished with their smokes, we took a walk through the Rose Walk path to World Showcase. There are literally hundreds of roses along this path, and the smell is very nice. There were really some beautiful roses along that walkway, and Jeanne pointed out a few she really liked, but your intrepid scribe was too stubborn to write them down, and now can't remember the ones she liked in order to be able to surprise her with a few. All I know is that they were two toned, and look nice. Any one have a clue to help me out????

We then entered World Showcase, and turned to the left. We stopped in the plaza area and took a bunch of pictures in the big topiary display area, and then continued on towards Mexico. We browsed Mexico, walked past Norway after stopping for a few more pictures, and then decided to try lunch at China. I have never eaten there, after hearing poor reviews, but recently some have said it has improved. We tried the lunch sampler for 4, which consists of a choice of soup, four small portions of General Tso's chicken, spicy beef, cashew shrimp, and sweet and sour pork.. I also ordered the shao-mai dim sum, which is chicken and shrimp dumplings. The soup was fine, the entrees were just so-so, although the sweet and sour was better than you usually get at a take out place (not the usual fried dough with cherry syrup) and the dim sum was very good. The sampler costs $59.99 for 4, and with the shao-mai and sodas, the tab came to $72, with a $14 tip, for a total of $86. Overall, it was slightly better than I had expected after hearing so many negative reviews, but not nearly as good as eating in better Chinese restaurants in NY.

After finishing our lunch, Mike & Jocelyn wanted to detour back to Mexico and try out a Fiesta margarita from the outdoor stand. So we walked back over to Mexico, and Mike bought us a round of Fiesta Margaritas, and we had our own little Fiesta. Mike & Jocelyn took a smoke break in the smoking area by Norway, and then Mike & I called our boss to let him know we were enjoying a nice cold Margarita while he was still at work. I'm sure he appreciated the thought!!!

After finishing our Fiesta's, we walked to China, and watched the kiddie acrobats for a while. It's an interesting show, but I get an uneasy feeling watching such young kids performing. I get the impression their whole life is centered around the acrobatic skills, and they are deprived of a normal childhood. After a few minutes of this, we wandered over towards Germany, and caught the boat back towards the Plaza. We then walked over to the Imagination Pavilion, once again passing through the rose walkway. There was a 10 minute wait for the Figment ride, something I've rarely seen there. We did our time in line, and enjoyed the ride. We then went to the Land Pavilion, and got FP's for the Living With The Land boat ride, with a return time of 5:10p -> 6:10p. We decided to see the Living Seas while we waited for our FP, but when we got to the entrance, the line was all the way out the door, so we passed on that. We then walked back to the Land, and it was time for our FP. We got in line, and still had a good 10 minute wait even with the FP, but it beat the 55 minute wait for the standby folks. I can't imagine waiting in line for 55 minutes for any ride, but even more so for the Living With The Land. The ride was very nice, and we all enjoyed it. I guess I appreciate it a little bit more since I rarely get to ride it anymore since it became a FP attraction.

After the Land, we wanted to head back to WS, so we went and caught the boat and rode it to Morocco, but only after walking through the rose path once more. The roses were pointed out to me once again, and of course I still can't remember the name of the one's Jeanne really enjoyed. After we docked in Morocco, we walked to the American Adventure, and caught the 6:30pm showing of the American Adventure. One disappointment I had during this trip was the fact that the Voices of Liberty were not scheduled during my entire two weeks. I asked a few CM's, and found out the singer who usually leads the group (Kevin), had transferred to the Dapper Dans, and as a result, the group was undergoing rehearsals with a new leader. I always enjoyed his singing and his pleasant personality. After our American Adventure, which we all loved, we hoofed it on over to Japan, where we had a 7:15pm dinner seating at Teppanyaki. Mike & Jocelyn both ordered the shrimp & scallops combo, and Jocelyn also ordered the Misoshiro soup, which has tofu and seaweed. Needless to say, she didn't like it, and of course Mike, who is as old school as they come, told her that she should have expected that from anything that has tofu and seaweed. He also managed to bring up the crashing on Mars again, but the way he does it is actually very funny. Jeanne had the chicken & scallops combo, and I had filet and shrimp combo. Other than the tofu soup, everything was very good, and the chef did a fine job. The dinner came to $144, and with a $31 tip, the total was $175 for the four of us, not bad at all. We finished up at 8:45pm, and decided to hurry up and hustle over to Germany, for our usual spot for Illuminations, and so me & Mike could get a frosty brew from the beer cart in Germany. We managed to accomplish both tasks, getting our usual rail side spot near the boat dock, and scoring two icy cold brews from the girl at the Germany beer cart. I went with the wheat beer, while Mike had the Lowenbrau. I didn't particularly care for the wheat beer, I usually like darker beers, and this just wasn't to my taste. I do miss the Beck's at this cart. After the fireworks, we took a real long time leaving the park, savoring our time in Epcot, and not leaving until almost 10:15pm. Unfortunately, Jeanne was feeling the effects of the heat that day, and we had to stop several times along the way out for her to rest. We made it to the exit, bid Mike & Jocelyn adieu, and made our way to the bus for our ride back to PO.

Day 9 Tuesday , May 25, 2004:

We got off to a late start today. We puttered around, got dressed, and caught a boat to DTD to have lunch at Fulton's. The ride was beautiful, and it is so relaxing. You pass along Port Orleans, the treehouse villas, golf course, and Saratoga Springs , before docking next to Cap'n Jacks in the Marketplace. The trip takes about 20 minutes, and is so much better than a bus ride. We docked at 12:30pm, and walked to Fulton's. Neither of us have ever eaten here before, and we were looking forward to it. We were promptly seated at an upstairs table along the front window, with a nice view across the water to Saratoga Springs. It was very hot outside today, otherwise we would have tried one of the outdoor tables, but the window table was fine. There were about 10 tables occupied in the room we were in, so it wasn't too crowded or noisy. We started with the King Crab and shrimp combo appetizer, which consists of chilled King Crab and shrimp steamed in the shell then chilled. It comes with lemon and cocktail sauce, and is delicious. They also gave us some type of crabmeat and cheese dip with some flat crackers to start, which was very tasty. We asked for, and were given the recipe, but have yet to try it at home. We then each ordered the Dungeness Crab Club sandwich, and it was huge. It comes on herb country bread, with lump crabmeat, greens, tomato, and rosemary potato chips. We barely finished them after the appetizer. We would have been better off splitting one of the clubs along with the appetizer. The service was fine, but a few times we had to seek out the waiter for more water. The total came to $36 with the 10% AP discount, with an $8 tip, for a total of $44, and was worth every cent of it. I would highly recommend Fultons, at least as far as lunch goes. I notice that dinner prices are very high, but if the quality is as good as at lunch, it is probably worth it.

After finishing our lunch, we waddled over to World of Disney. We picked out another photo album, a "Our Disney Vacation" frame, and some pins. The frame is $25, and has room for 10 pictures. It has "Our Disney Vacation" written on it, and also has several Mickey's (6) scattered around the matting. In addition, it has nice scrolled Mickey heads in the four corners of the frame in gold colored trim. It's a very nice frame for that price. We also stopped at Arribas Brothers and bought some personalized etched glasses as gifts for those stuck back home, and decorative plate hanger to hold the set of 4 Park Icon plates we bought at the Home Store . I also bought Jeanne one of the Tea for 1 sets at the Home Store, in the Mickey shape, and then we bought a build a pin with a ‘04 graduation theme for my son at home, who was graduating HS at the end of June. We also got one with an ‘03 tag for his sister, who graduated last year. We then went to the Art of Disney store for something I had my eye on for quite some time. They have the framed and matted poster of the castle lit up at dusk, with four smaller boxes below depicting the building of the castle. It also has a fifth box below that, inscribed " Cinderella's Castle, Building a Dream. It cost $225, and I thought it would look perfect in my living room. Rest assured, it does, as I bought it, and it now hangs proudly at home. We also got a special Mickey LE pin they had, (LE 750, $25), and a 3d ceramic of the Mickey Painting Walt Self Portrait, which Jeanne actually bought for me. It cost $60, and is well worth it. It sits on a coffee table in my living room, and I love it. We had our loot shipped to the Beach Club, as we would be transferring there in two days, and didn't want to be stuck lugging it between two resorts. They advised us this would not be a problem, and it turned it that it was delivered and held there without any slipups.

We then caught a 4:30pm boat back to PO-FQ, and once again, we had a skipper who didn't utter a word once we started. I guess we got spoiled with the first skipper, but I don't think it would hurt them to mention a few things along the journey. Either way, the ride is still very nice and I highly recommend it over the bus. Once we got back to PO, we went to Bell Services in the main building, to arrange our luggage transfer on the 27th. It only took a minute, they asked us to give them an amount of luggage we needed transferred, and a time we would like it picked up. We also picked up Jeanne's cat towel at the gift shop, where we had it shipped from MGM. It came out perfectly, and she was very satisfied with it.

We then drove to Universal, intending to eat at Jimmy Buffet's at Citywalk tonight. We arrived, and parking was free since it was after 6:00pm, which was nice. Unfortunately, the parking area is a long distance from the parks and Citywalk, and the moving sidewalks were all programmed for exiting patrons, so we had to walk for what seemed an eternity to get to Citywalk. Once we got there, they were handing out coupon books, with 2 for 1 coupons for most of the bars, buy 1 drink and get one free. We browsed some of the shops, and Jeanne bought some trinkets in one of the shops, but I don't recall the name. This area seemed very different from DTD, and much louder, both in noise and decor. I haven't been here in about 4 years, so didn't know what to expect. We walked by Pat O'Briens, and since we had time to kill before Buffett's, and a 2-1 Hurricane coupon, decided to step inside and have a hurricane. We went in the smaller bar to the left, not the dueling pianos room to the right. The bar also has an open walk up window to the street. We ordered our Hurricanes, which were in the $8 range for the two. I had never had a Hurricane before, and about half way through, I was feeling the effects of it. I couldn't believe how strong it was. Jeanne said the same thing. I went and asked the bartender what was in it, and he told me that each one had 4 shots of Bacardi 151, along with the hurricane mix. If he was telling the truth, no wonder it was so potent. One of those was plenty. After we finished, we staggered over to Jimmy Buffet's, and gave our name to the hostess. We were seated in the main room in about 5 minutes. The video screens were playing Buffett songs, and the atmosphere was very fun filled. We ordered a margarita in a souvenir glass, which was $10.95, and you got to keep the glass (which was $8 for an empty one in the gift shop). I ordered the crab sandwich, while Jeanne ordered the coconut shrimp. Neither was spectacular, but they were good enough, and we were there for the atmosphere, not gourmet food. They had performers on stilts in the dining room, and they would come to tables and do balloon tricks, pose for pics, and such. The girl on stilts stopped by our table for about two seconds, said she would be right back, and then never came back. We even asked the waitress, as we wanted a picture of her in her getup, and the waitress told us she would be right back. For whatever reason, she never did come back, even after the waitress reminded her. The service in the restaurant also seemed as if they were trying to rush people through, in order to get more people in. I would have enjoyed myself more if I wasn't made to feel bad for lingering while watching the videos when we were done eating. The dinner came to $50, which included $22 for the two margaritas in the souvenir glasses, and with a $10 tip (which probably should have been less based on the service), made for a total of $60. I also stopped by the gift shop afterwards, and bought a Margaritaville tshirt, a foam cup holder, and a fridge magnet. The shirt was $19, and the other items were around $5 each. All in all, it was a fun stop, but as I said earlier, it's more the atmosphere and music than the food (and service). We'll probably be back in the future, but it's not something I would make a habit of visiting.

After leaving Buffett's, we walked back to Pat O'Brien's, had another hurricane in the dueling piano bar (which we didn't finish), and watched a few of the piano tunes. They were pretty good, and even though it was still early, the crowd was getting pretty into it. Must have been those hurricanes!!! We then walked over to Bob Marley's restaurant, which had a live band playing. We sat inside for awhile, and enjoyed the music. The band was pretty good, and the bar is set in an open air courtyard. It was a nice evening, and it was pretty relaxing sitting in there. When the band finished, the DJ played Marley tunes, and I requested (and he played ) "Redemption Song", a favorite of mine. We then headed out, and made our way back to Pleasure Island, to catch a comedy show or two. We were able to make it in time for the 10:30pm CW show, after dealing with the nonsense of the new admission policy, which really slowed down the club entry line. The show featured Mary, Matt, Lisa, Joy (still Jeanne's favorite), & Krista. They opened the show with the name game, using my name (Bill, for those of you who forgot). After the show, we got back in line and waited for the 12:05am show, catching the NYE celebration on the West End Stage while waiting. The 12:05am show featured Mary, Todd, Joy (still Jeanne's favorite), Krista, and Matt. One of the skits they did was the Torture The Actor, where the actor is taken outside, and they come up with a scenario for the actor to figure out. They used my suggestion of a Phish concert as the place the scenario was in, but I don't recall the whole phrase he had to guess. After the show ended, we made our way back to PO, at a rather late 1:00am, and settled into dreamland.

Day 10 Wednesday , May 26, 2004:

We took our time once again getting up today. We decided it was time to do some laundry before the resort change tomorrow, so we loaded up the dirty clothes, took them down to the laundry room (which is right by the pool), and the hit the pool for a couple of hours while the laundry got laundered. The pool wasn't crowded, the weather was perfect, and it was a nice way to start the day. After the laundry was done, we put it away back in the room, got showered and dressed, and caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom, arriving at 1:00pm.

I wanted to get my usual haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop, and was disappointed to see only one barber was working today, and Mychal was not (he is my favorite of the barbers there). I needed a haircut either way, so I waited in line, and finally was seated after a one hour wait. While I was waiting for my turn, one family had a kid in the chair getting his haircut, while his younger brother was running wild in the shop, with no interference from his parents. The kid, who was probably no more than 5 years old, started to climb on the unused barber chair, standing up on it, and then messing with the lever on the side. The barber, Heather, was trying to keep the kid in the chair occupied, and also trying to nicely tell the kid on the empty chair to be careful, and the parents were just letting him cavort without any concern that he might fall off or get hurt. He finally climbed down, and then started hitting the lever on the side of the chair again, when he wasn't grabbing things off the shelf or running around the small crowded shop, all the while with not a word from his parents to stop it. He was hitting the lever on the barber chair so hard I thought he was going to end up breaking the chair, as did a few of the other guests waiting in line. Thankfully, they finally finished with the sibling who was getting the haircut, but then Junior decided he wanted a Mickey made of green goop on his head, even though he wasn't getting a haircut, and the parents plopped him into the chair and told the barber to put a Mickey on his head. I guess if the kid wasn't such a brat, and we all wanted them to leave, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but eventually they were finished, and they left the shop. When it was my turn, I got my usual buzz cut, with a topping of ‘Pixie Dust" which are little glitter Mickey's for those who have never seen it. The haircut was $15, with a $5 tip, for a total of $20, and it came out nicely.

After leaving the barber shop, we walked through the Emporium, and then went to the Main St Bakery, for a bite to eat. I had the tomato-mozzarella sandwich , a coke, and an apple turnover, while Jeanne had a fruit cup and a cookie. The total came to $14, and we went to the alleyway between the kitchen store and the Uptown Jewelers, where there are a few tables in the back, away from the hustle and bustle, but allowing you a nice view of Main St. The tables are also in shade, which is nice in mid afternoon. We then browsed some of the shops, before heading out of the park and jumping on the monorail to the TTC. At the TTC, we caught a bus to Disney-MGM Studios, arriving at about 4:00pm. Our first stop was the FP machine outside RnRC, where I got myself a FP which was good for 5:15->6:15pm. Then we went to the 5 & 10 on Main St, or whatever it's called at MGM ) and Jeanne ordered another one of the personalized Cheshire cat towels. I also did some shopping, hitting Keystone Clothiers for a new Disney tie, and a purse for my daughter at home. We then went to see if we could make it into the 4:30pm Millionaire show, and timed it just right, getting in with a minute to spare with no wait. They started with a fastest finger, which I always do badly at, but once the game started, I was doing pretty good. While the winner of Fastest Finger was in the Hot Seat, I plugged along, getting up to 2nd Place on the leaderboard at the 1,000 level, and making the top of the leaderboard at the 32,000 level. When they got to the 64,000 question, which asked which of the following four are not a class of tuna : Skip, char, albacore, and yellowfin. I knew the answer (char) , having grown up a big time salt water fisherman, and unfortunately for the guy in the hot seat, he didn't. So when the leaderboard lit, I wasn't too surprised to see I was at the top, and on my way to the hot seat once again. I made my way down, and settled in. I am always nervous when I'm in the hot seat, even though it's not for money, it must be the pressure of ending up looking like a dope in front of 650 people if you get an easy question wrong. I breezed through to the 32,000 question, which was "Who was voted the sexiest man alive in the 90's by People Mag?". The four choices were Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and JFK Jr. Well, I'm not a gossip rag reader, and I had no real clue. My first guess was Mel Gibson, and I used the 50/50, since I had already used the audience poll on another question. As luck would have it, Gibson & JFK were the two remaining choices, so I went with Mel Gibson. Unfortunately, it was not to be my day to win a cruise, as the correct answer was JFK Jr, so I was hustled back off to the prize room, where I claimed my set of pins and baseball cap, and also found out from the woman in the prize room that according to the computer it was my 8th time in the Hot Seat since the game started back in 2001, not bad for a person who lives 1,200 miles away.

After Millionaire, we walked down Sunset Blvd to the RnRC, where I used my FP to ride, while Jeanne waited outside. I got in for the front row, and was seated next to a somewhat mentally challenged lad who was about 6'4", and who started jabbering the moment I got into line next to him about how he hopes he doesn't throw up on the ride. I really didn't know what to say, and certainly didn't want to hurt his feelings by being rude, so I just listened and agreed while he kept on about how he used to throw up on rides, but doesn't anymore. All the while, I was getting images of a spray of vomit as soon as we hit the first loop on the ride. We finally got seated, and the ride took off. Lucky enough for me, and the riders behind us, the young man managed to keep lunch inside, and we all arrived happily, if a bit nervously, at the exit to the ride. I said goodbye to him, and wished him well on future rides. After that, we decided to leave MGM, as we had a dinner appointment at the Flying Fish.

We exited MGM, and walked to the boat dock, where we caught the boat to the Boardwalk. There was a scary moment when we were on the boat. We sat on the back deck of the boat, and when the boat started to pull away from the dock, we realized the skipper had forgotten to untie the rope holding the rear of the ship to the dock. He was revving up the engines, and the front of the boat started to move away, while the rope holding the rear to the metal cleat got tighter and tighter. He finally realized, as a few of us were yelling to him about the rope, to stop and untie the docking rope. I had heard about the accident at Disneyland where a metal cleat was torn away from the dock, and it was very scary to be sitting right alongside the rope and cleat as this happened. Fortunately, he let off the engines before something snapped. The two CM's then came to the back to untie the rope, which had been pulled so tight they had a real hard time untying the knot. It took them almost 15 minutes to get the rope undone, and in the meantime another boat had pulled up and was awaiting it's turn to dock. They finally managed to untie the rope, and we set sail. The two CM's were both very young, and it seemed like neither had any real experience in piloting a boat, which made us decide to get off at the first stop, the Swan & Dolphin, and walk the rest of the way to BW. We also were pressed for time with our dinner PS due to the delay, and figured it was quicker to walk from the Swan then continue on to the Y&BC and then the BW docks.

We made it to Flying Fish with about 10 minutes to spare, and didn't see our dinner partners (Bruce & Marta Metcalf), so we ran inside BW to use the upstairs bathroom. Who should come into the bathroom while I was finishing up but Bruce!!. So our group was now together, and when our potty breaks were done, we headed downstairs to Flying Fish. We had never eaten here before, although Bruce & Marta have. We went up to the hostess stand, gave our names, and were promptly seated. There is an open kitchen in the restaurant, and we were seated close enough to observe it. I had the clams appetizer, while Jeanne had the crab cake appetizer. I enjoyed my potato wrapped red snapper entree, while Jeanne had the salmon. I believe Bruce had the snapper also, while I can't recall what Marta had. We also had a bottle of wine with dinner. All the dishes were excellent, and everyone enjoyed the meals. The total came to $266 for the four of us, using Bruce's CM discount, and we felt it was well worth every cent. After dinner, we all decided to walk to Epcot and catch Illuminations. We entered via the International Gateway, and watched it from the bridge to France. After Illuminations, Jeanne & I did a walk over to Mousegear, browsed for a while, then caught the bus back to Port Orleans after the crowds had died down. Since it was still relatively early, we took a walk along the PO river path from FQ to Riverside, and back. It was a pleasant way to spend our last night at PO-FQ, and when we returned to our room, we packed for our move to the Beach Club tomorrow.

Day 11 Thursday , May 27, 2004:


Thursday morning saw us up at about 8:30am, and we were all packed up and ready to go by 10. We had previously arranged for Bell Services to pick up our luggage for the transfer to beach Club, with a 10:30am appointment. I called down around 10:15, and they told me the bellhop was on the way over. About 10:45am, I called again, and was told he was still on his way over. Since PO-FQ is such a small resort, I couldn't figure out why it would take him 30 minutes of travel time to get to our room. After another half hour, and another call to Bell Services (being assured he was on the way), we got tired of waiting, and loaded our own stuff outside to the van at 11:15am. I really appreciated the 95º heat and the humidity, not to mention the late start to our day. I also was wondering what made me purchase so much stuff as I made numerous trips from the room to the van. This took a good ten minutes, and the bell hop never did show up. I was pretty upset, so after we were done loading up, we drove around to the front desk, and I asked to speak to a manager. The desk clerk went in the back office, and a manager named Cheri came out front. I told her about my scheduled bellhop service, and my three calls to Bell Services, and the fact the guy never did show up. I told her that it was a rather unpleasant way to end a 10 night stay, having to lug about a dozen suitcases and packages from Building 2 to the parking lot, especially in this high heat. She apologized profusely, and then asked if I had a lunch planned. I told her we were going to DTD before heading over to the Beach Club, and she offered us a free lunch, and best of all, a free lunch at Fulton's Crab House!!! I was more than satisfied with that, and I thanked her for the nice gesture. She told me to put it on my room charge, and she would watch for it and make sure it was comped when it came back to PO. I thanked her again, and we drove off to DTD.

After we parked at DTD, we walked over to Fultons. We were seated immediately in the upstairs room overlooking the water and Saratoga Springs. We had eaten here a few days ago, and really enjoyed our lunch. We decided on the Fulton's Cold Seafood platter appetizer, and Jeanne also had a bowl of seafood chowder, while I had the blackened shrimp Caesar Salad. The platter contained a half lobster, king crab legs, peel & eat shrimp, and blackened sea scallops. It came with both cocktail and remoulade sauces. It was outstanding, and we didn't leave any of it. Jeanne enjoyed her chowder, and I loved the salad. The shrimp were of a nice size too, not like the little dinky things you get in some places. The total came to $40 with my AP discount, and I left an $8 tip. Since the meal was going to be free, I left the tip in cash, and only put the actual meal on the room charge. I didn't want them to think I was taking advantage of their generosity, although some might say a $40 lunch might be stretching it!! After leaving Fulton's, we wandered back to the Marketplace area. We stopped at World of Disney, and I got the rest of the marked down desk set accessories to complete the set that I had started at the outlet store. I got the Dumbo Stapler, and now I have the entire set on my desk, consisting of Cinderella Castle pen holder, Peter Pan tape dispenser, Mad Hatter Tea Party paper clip holder, Splash Mtn notepad holder, and Cinderella Carousel business card holder. I really enjoy seeing them on my desk every day, even more so knowing I got the set for half price. While at WOD, we also bought a scrapbook kit, a Where Magic Lives fridge magnet with Disney icons (Tink, Mickey ears, Jiminy Cricket, RR train, Simba) that stick out on springs, a watch for my son, and some earrings for my youngest daughter. The total came to $88 with the AP discount. We then stopped by the Pin Stop, and they had CM with a book where you could trade for any pin in the book. We each found a nice one, and made our trades before leaving. We then walked back to the van, and headed towards Beach Club. We first stopped at the Hess Station right near the Boardwalk (which used to be an Exxon) . We gassed up the van, put air in the tires (free at Hess, a nice feature), and used the car wash bay they have there.

We then exited the gas station, and drove up to the Beach Club, full of anticipation. I have stayed at 9 different on-site resorts, and this would our 10th. We pulled up under the overhang, and were greeted by a bell services guy. We gave him our luggage, and he took it away, while they moved our van to the side. We then went inside, hoping to encounter Art the Greeter, but he wasn't there. We waited in a real short line for check-in, and were soon at the desk. Unfortunately, we had an extremely slow clerk for the check-in. We asked if we would be getting a full balcony, not one of the partial balcony's, and she told us that our room did in fact have a full size balcony. It took her about 20 minutes to complete the check-in, which she said was due to a slow computer that day. Eventually we were given our keys and assigned room 3522. We asked about bell services, and she seemed clueless. She said we would have to get them ourselves. I then saw the bell services desk, and we walked over to it, and provided our receipt for the bags they had taken from our van. In a few minutes a nice friendly bellhop arrived and said he would bring our stuff up to the room. We headed on up, and when we opened the door, were pretty disappointed. The room was a small, dormer type room. We had been told that the rooms had two queen beds and a daybed, similar to those at the Polynesian. This room had the two beds, but no daybed, and the desk was alongside the beds and cramped. There was no coffeemaker , the minibar had no key to open it, and to top it off, the balcony was not full size as we had been told. We went out on the balcony, and saw that the "view" consisted of a wall of trees about 10 feet from the balcony. The trees were so thick you could not see through them, either up or down. If you leaned out over the balcony, you did get a view of garbage filled rain gutter below. This was the side that faced Epcot, the easternmost end of the building, and you could not see anything but a thick cover of trees. If they had occasionally thinned out the stand of trees you could probably have seen some of Epcot, or at least the sky or ground, but this was just solid wall to wall trees. We were totally disappointed in the room, especially after having such a nice (and probably not much smaller) room at PO-FQ for about 1/3rd the price. When the bellhop arrived, he realized how disappointed we were (in the room, not his service, which we tipped properly). He told us he would see if he could find a better room for us, and made some calls. He told us that they could move us to a room with a full size balcony the next day, but nothing was available for today, unless we wanted to pay an extra $100 a night for a water view. I was really upset after looking forward to a nice stay at the Beach Club, and paying out the extra money for the deluxe resort. We agreed to the different room the following day, and he assured us it would have a full balcony and nicer view. I really don't like the fact that you can get such a lousy room and view in a deluxe resort. I have stayed in four other WDW deluxe resorts, and never had that happen before, even with standard view rooms. I had heard there were some rooms at Beach Club that had sub standard views, but this is one that they could have rectified with some tree pruning. Of course, they would also have to occasionally clean out the rain gutter too. I think they gave us one of the smaller rooms because we were just a couple, and saved the daybed rooms for families. Since we only had three nights at BC, this was a big pain to have to pack up and move again in the morning, not to mention another round of bellhop tips. After the bellhop left, and we unpacked, or unpacked enough for one night, we went downstairs to the bus stop. I probably should have spoke to a manager about the room, but I really didn't want to waste anymore time on the matter, and I had to be at the Magic Kingdom for my part in the Flag Retreat Ceremony.

We caught a bus to the MK, arriving about 4:00pm. We stopped off at City Hall, and changed our dinner PS for Friday from Le Cellier, to Alfredo, as the time we had at Le Cellier was not really a good time for us. We secured a better time going with Alfredos, and we had never eaten there, so we figured it would be a nice change. After making the dinner change, we headed over to the flagpole area. I met up with the Security CM's, and was told that today's ceremony would include the WDW Marching Band!! When I participated in the flag ceremony in December, there was no band , just a recording of the National Anthem. This was a nice surprise. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Flag ceremony, every day at 5:00pm, the Magic Kingdom does a Flag lowering ceremony at the flagpole in front of the train station by the Roy & Minnie statue. They allow a US veteran to participate in the ceremony, and I had previously done it last December. I was able to get in on it again this trip, and today was my day. After being instructed in the movements and all by the Security CM's, we waited for the band. They arrived right on time, coming down Main St, and finally stopping by the hub. An announcement was made regarding the flag lowering, and the band began the National Anthem, at which time we did the flag retreat ceremony. As it was going on, a Disney photographer was on hand to take pictures, along with Jeanne doing the same. It was really stirring to be a part of it, and to see the crowd watching and enjoying the ceremony. As it ended, we walked back to the front of the hub, and an announcement was made introducing me, listing my dates of service. I was then given a nice certificate from the MK Park manager , listing my name and participation in the ceremony, along with a "Veteran of the Day" pin in the folder. I was also given a certificate for a free photo at the photo center from the pictures the Disney photographer had taken. It really is a nice feeling to be a part of such a patriotic ceremony, and if you or anyone in your party is a veteran, you should inquire about participating next time you're at the MK. After the ceremony ended, we went to the Expo Center, and looked over the photos they had taken, which they had ready in about 10 minutes, not the usual one hour wait. We couldn't decide which one we liked best, and the CM said we could have the two that we were trying to decide on, instead of the usual one freebie. It was a really nice gesture on her part. They printed up the pictures, and we thanked her for her kindness. In addition, Jeanne had the pictures , pin, and certificate professionally matted and framed for my birthday, and it now hangs in my living room, looking great over my recliner!!!

After getting the pics, we left the MK, and caught a bus to AKL, where we had a dinner PS for Boma. We arrived at AKL, and since we had some time to kill, first went to Zawadi, the gift shop. I bought a matted AKL print by Larry Dotson, the 8x10 size, for $17.50. It shows a nice view of the rear glass wall of the lodge, with some of the Savannah in the print. I also got another fridge magnet. We then headed up to Victoria Falls bar for a libation. I wanted one of the drinks I had at Dawa Bar in AK, but couldn't remember the name (I now know it's Jewel of the Nile!). I told the bartender some of the ingredients, and he was able to make a reasonable facsimile, while Jeanne had her usual merlot. No sooner did we sit down when the fire alarm in the Lodge started to sound. The staff began to hustle everyone outside, and we joined the crowd, which went out the front doors in an orderly fashion. Luckily, we had taken our drinks out with us. Once we were outside, they made everyone move away from the over hang area, which seemed like a smart move. We ended up standing outside in the heat for a good twenty minutes, but everyone was in a good mood about it. As we were finally given the OK to re-enter, I saw a manager with a pin lanyard and went over to see if there was anything worth trading for. As luck would have it, he had an Artists Choice pin on his lanyard, and when he saw I was interested in it, he gave it to me for free, rather than accept a pin in trade. He said it was for the inconvenience of us standing outside. I thanked him for his kind gesture, and we went back inside. Unfortunately, the fire alarm had set back the dinner seatings at Boma, so we ended up waiting for our PS, finally getting seated at 7:00pm. We had a nice table by one of the windows, and had just settled in with our first course, when the fire alarm sounded again. Once again, we were all evacuated, this time out a rear door in the Mara area. We once again waited about 15-20 minutes, before being given the all clear. I understand the fact that the fire alarm could be for real, and it is important to get everyone out, but twice in under an hour was really making for an unpleasant evening. We went back in, sat down, and waited, wondering when the next alarm would go off. Luckily, there were no more false alarms, and we got to enjoy the rest of our dinner in peace. We had a bottle of Guardian Peak merlot with our dinner, and the total came to $88, with a $16 tip, for a total of $104. As always, the dinner and wine at Boma was superb, and I highly recommend this restaurant if you have never been here. After finishing up with dinner, we took a bus over to MGM, and from there caught a boat back to the beach Club. We then went back to our (small) room, and changed into bathing suits. We then headed down to explore Stormalong Bay, at least until it closed. We ended up spending 30 minutes down there, and had a blast. We did the lazy river thing, with a few floats that were left behind, then did the regular free form pool. I managed one spin down the slide too before closing. After leaving the pool area, we decided to take a romantic walk to BW and back, which was a perfect way to end the evening. We then went back to our (small) room, and sat on the balcony for awhile, staring at the wall of trees for a few minutes, before calling it a night and hitting the sack.

Thursday morning saw us up at about 8:30am, and we were all packed up and ready to go by 10. We had previously arranged for Bell Services to pick up our luggage for the transfer to beach Club, with a 10:30am appointment. I called down around 10:15, and they told me the bellhop was on the way over. About 10:45am, I called again, and was told he was still on his way over. Since PO-FQ is such a small resort, I couldn't figure out why it would take him 30 minutes of travel time to get to our room. After another half hour, and another call to Bell Services (being assured he was on the way), we got tired of waiting, and loaded our own stuff outside to the van at 11:15am. I really appreciated the 95º heat and the humidity, not to mention the late start to our day. I also was wondering what made me purchase so much stuff as I made numerous trips from the room to the van. This took a good ten minutes, and the bell hop never did show up. I was pretty upset, so after we were done loading up, we drove around to the front desk, and I asked to speak to a manager. The desk clerk went in the back office, and a manager named Cheri came out front. I told her about my scheduled bellhop service, and my three calls to Bell Services, and the fact the guy never did show up. I told her that it was a rather unpleasant way to end a 10 night stay, having to lug about a dozen suitcases and packages from Building 2 to the parking lot, especially in this high heat. She apologized profusely, and then asked if I had a lunch planned. I told her we were going to DTD before heading over to the Beach Club, and she offered us a free lunch, and best of all, a free lunch at Fulton's Crab House!!! I was more than satisfied with that, and I thanked her for the nice gesture. She told me to put it on my room charge, and she would watch for it and make sure it was comped when it came back to PO. I thanked her again, and we drove off to DTD.

After we parked at DTD, we walked over to Fultons. We were seated immediately in the upstairs room overlooking the water and Saratoga Springs. We had eaten here a few days ago, and really enjoyed our lunch. We decided on the Fulton's Cold Seafood platter appetizer, and Jeanne also had a bowl of seafood chowder, while I had the blackened shrimp Caesar Salad. The platter contained a half lobster, king crab legs, peel & eat shrimp, and blackened sea scallops. It came with both cocktail and remoulade sauces. It was outstanding, and we didn't leave any of it. Jeanne enjoyed her chowder, and I loved the salad. The shrimp were of a nice size too, not like the little dinky things you get in some places. The total came to $40 with my AP discount, and I left an $8 tip. Since the meal was going to be free, I left the tip in cash, and only put the actual meal on the room charge. I didn't want them to think I was taking advantage of their generosity, although some might say a $40 lunch might be stretching it!! After leaving Fulton's, we wandered back to the Marketplace area. We stopped at World of Disney, and I got the rest of the marked down desk set accessories to complete the set that I had started at the outlet store. I got the Dumbo Stapler, and now I have the entire set on my desk, consisting of Cinderella Castle pen holder, Peter Pan tape dispenser, Mad Hatter Tea Party paper clip holder, Splash Mtn notepad holder, and Cinderella Carousel business card holder. I really enjoy seeing them on my desk every day, even more so knowing I got the set for half price. While at WOD, we also bought a scrapbook kit, a Where Magic Lives fridge magnet with Disney icons (Tink, Mickey ears, Jiminy Cricket, RR train, Simba) that stick out on springs, a watch for my son, and some earrings for my youngest daughter. The total came to $88 with the AP discount. We then stopped by the Pin Stop, and they had CM with a book where you could trade for any pin in the book. We each found a nice one, and made our trades before leaving. We then walked back to the van, and headed towards Beach Club. We first stopped at the Hess Station right near the Boardwalk (which used to be an Exxon) . We gassed up the van, put air in the tires (free at Hess, a nice feature), and used the car wash bay they have there.

We then exited the gas station, and drove up to the Beach Club, full of anticipation. I have stayed at 9 different on-site resorts, and this would our 10th. We pulled up under the overhang, and were greeted by a bell services guy. We gave him our luggage, and he took it away, while they moved our van to the side. We then went inside, hoping to encounter Art the Greeter, but he wasn't there. We waited in a real short line for check-in, and were soon at the desk. Unfortunately, we had an extremely slow clerk for the check-in. We asked if we would be getting a full balcony, not one of the partial balcony's, and she told us that our room did in fact have a full size balcony. It took her about 20 minutes to complete the check-in, which she said was due to a slow computer that day. Eventually we were given our keys and assigned room 3522. We asked about bell services, and she seemed clueless. She said we would have to get them ourselves. I then saw the bell services desk, and we walked over to it, and provided our receipt for the bags they had taken from our van. In a few minutes a nice friendly bellhop arrived and said he would bring our stuff up to the room. We headed on up, and when we opened the door, were pretty disappointed. The room was a small, dormer type room. We had been told that the rooms had two queen beds and a daybed, similar to those at the Polynesian. This room had the two beds, but no daybed, and the desk was alongside the beds and cramped. There was no coffeemaker , the minibar had no key to open it, and to top it off, the balcony was not full size as we had been told. We went out on the balcony, and saw that the "view" consisted of a wall of trees about 10 feet from the balcony. The trees were so thick you could not see through them, either up or down. If you leaned out over the balcony, you did get a view of garbage filled rain gutter below. This was the side that faced Epcot, the easternmost end of the building, and you could not see anything but a thick cover of trees. If they had occasionally thinned out the stand of trees you could probably have seen some of Epcot, or at least the sky or ground, but this was just solid wall to wall trees. We were totally disappointed in the room, especially after having such a nice (and probably not much smaller) room at PO-FQ for about 1/3rd the price. When the bellhop arrived, he realized how disappointed we were (in the room, not his service, which we tipped properly). He told us he would see if he could find a better room for us, and made some calls. He told us that they could move us to a room with a full size balcony the next day, but nothing was available for today, unless we wanted to pay an extra $100 a night for a water view. I was really upset after looking forward to a nice stay at the Beach Club, and paying out the extra money for the deluxe resort. We agreed to the different room the following day, and he assured us it would have a full balcony and nicer view. I really don't like the fact that you can get such a lousy room and view in a deluxe resort. I have stayed in four other WDW deluxe resorts, and never had that happen before, even with standard view rooms. I had heard there were some rooms at Beach Club that had sub standard views, but this is one that they could have rectified with some tree pruning. Of course, they would also have to occasionally clean out the rain gutter too. I think they gave us one of the smaller rooms because we were just a couple, and saved the daybed rooms for families. Since we only had three nights at BC, this was a big pain to have to pack up and move again in the morning, not to mention another round of bellhop tips. After the bellhop left, and we unpacked, or unpacked enough for one night, we went downstairs to the bus stop. I probably should have spoke to a manager about the room, but I really didn't want to waste anymore time on the matter, and I had to be at the Magic Kingdom for my part in the Flag Retreat Ceremony.

We caught a bus to the MK, arriving about 4:00pm. We stopped off at City Hall, and changed our dinner PS for Friday from Le Cellier, to Alfredo, as the time we had at Le Cellier was not really a good time for us. We secured a better time going with Alfredos, and we had never eaten there, so we figured it would be a nice change. After making the dinner change, we headed over to the flagpole area. I met up with the Security CM's, and was told that today's ceremony would include the WDW Marching Band!! When I participated in the flag ceremony in December, there was no band , just a recording of the National Anthem. This was a nice surprise. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Flag ceremony, every day at 5:00pm, the Magic Kingdom does a Flag lowering ceremony at the flagpole in front of the train station by the Roy & Minnie statue. They allow a US veteran to participate in the ceremony, and I had previously done it last December. I was able to get in on it again this trip, and today was my day. After being instructed in the movements and all by the Security CM's, we waited for the band. They arrived right on time, coming down Main St, and finally stopping by the hub. An announcement was made regarding the flag lowering, and the band began the National Anthem, at which time we did the flag retreat ceremony. As it was going on, a Disney photographer was on hand to take pictures, along with Jeanne doing the same. It was really stirring to be a part of it, and to see the crowd watching and enjoying the ceremony. As it ended, we walked back to the front of the hub, and an announcement was made introducing me, listing my dates of service. I was then given a nice certificate from the MK Park manager , listing my name and participation in the ceremony, along with a "Veteran of the Day" pin in the folder. I was also given a certificate for a free photo at the photo center from the pictures the Disney photographer had taken. It really is a nice feeling to be a part of such a patriotic ceremony, and if you or anyone in your party is a veteran, you should inquire about participating next time you're at the MK. After the ceremony ended, we went to the Expo Center, and looked over the photos they had taken, which they had ready in about 10 minutes, not the usual one hour wait. We couldn't decide which one we liked best, and the CM said we could have the two that we were trying to decide on, instead of the usual one freebie. It was a really nice gesture on her part. They printed up the pictures, and we thanked her for her kindness. In addition, Jeanne had the pictures , pin, and certificate professionally matted and framed for my birthday, and it now hangs in my living room, looking great over my recliner!!!

After getting the pics, we left the MK, and caught a bus to AKL, where we had a dinner PS for Boma. We arrived at AKL, and since we had some time to kill, first went to Zawadi, the gift shop. I bought a matted AKL print by Larry Dotson, the 8x10 size, for $17.50. It shows a nice view of the rear glass wall of the lodge, with some of the Savannah in the print. I also got another fridge magnet. We then headed up to Victoria Falls bar for a libation. I wanted one of the drinks I had at Dawa Bar in AK, but couldn't remember the name (I now know it's Jewel of the Nile!). I told the bartender some of the ingredients, and he was able to make a reasonable facsimile, while Jeanne had her usual merlot. No sooner did we sit down when the fire alarm in the Lodge started to sound. The staff began to hustle everyone outside, and we joined the crowd, which went out the front doors in an orderly fashion. Luckily, we had taken our drinks out with us. Once we were outside, they made everyone move away from the over hang area, which seemed like a smart move. We ended up standing outside in the heat for a good twenty minutes, but everyone was in a good mood about it. As we were finally given the OK to re-enter, I saw a manager with a pin lanyard and went over to see if there was anything worth trading for. As luck would have it, he had an Artists Choice pin on his lanyard, and when he saw I was interested in it, he gave it to me for free, rather than accept a pin in trade. He said it was for the inconvenience of us standing outside. I thanked him for his kind gesture, and we went back inside. Unfortunately, the fire alarm had set back the dinner seatings at Boma, so we ended up waiting for our PS, finally getting seated at 7:00pm. We had a nice table by one of the windows, and had just settled in with our first course, when the fire alarm sounded again. Once again, we were all evacuated, this time out a rear door in the Mara area. We once again waited about 15-20 minutes, before being given the all clear. I understand the fact that the fire alarm could be for real, and it is important to get everyone out, but twice in under an hour was really making for an unpleasant evening. We went back in, sat down, and waited, wondering when the next alarm would go off. Luckily, there were no more false alarms, and we got to enjoy the rest of our dinner in peace. We had a bottle of Guardian Peak merlot with our dinner, and the total came to $88, with a $16 tip, for a total of $104. As always, the dinner and wine at Boma was superb, and I highly recommend this restaurant if you have never been here. After finishing up with dinner, we took a bus over to MGM, and from there caught a boat back to the beach Club. We then went back to our (small) room, and changed into bathing suits. We then headed down to explore Stormalong Bay, at least until it closed. We ended up spending 30 minutes down there, and had a blast. We did the lazy river thing, with a few floats that were left behind, then did the regular free form pool. I managed one spin down the slide too before closing. After leaving the pool area, we decided to take a romantic walk to BW and back, which was a perfect way to end the evening. We then went back to our (small) room, and sat on the balcony for awhile, staring at the wall of trees for a few minutes, before calling it a night and hitting the sack.

Day 12 Friday , May 28, 2004:

On Friday morning we got up, got ready for the day ahead, packed once again for the room change, and waited for the bellman to arrive. He came at 10:30am, right on time, unlike at PO-FQ. The guy took our bags, which between our suitcases and packages, was really getting to be a large scale project. Once he was done, and gave us our receipt for storage, we took a walk over to Epcot via the International gateway, which is a tremendous feature of staying at the Beach Club for us. Epcot is our favorite park, and the fact we can walk back and forth to it really makes a big difference in our vacation.

Once we got inside Epcot, it was nice to walk through the WS which wasn't officially open, although there were quite a few people milling around. We went down to FW, and headed over to Mission Space to procure some fastpasses. We got our FP's, good for 11:30am to 12:30pm, and for some reason, the machine spit out 6 FP's, even though I had only used one of our tickets so far. Maybe that was in some way a Disney Magical Moment to make up for the problems we encountered yesterday. We then walked over to Guest Relations, past the empty bank of TV monitors where they used to do the Priority Seatings from. I really enjoyed those when they were operational, and wondered why they got ride of it. I can't imagine they saved much money, as they still need the operators, and it looks pretty cheesy standing there all these years unused. We went inside, and procured our wristbands for the Arlo Guthrie show tonight at the America Gardens Theater. If you weren't aware, if you have an AP, you are allowed to get a wristband for one show per day at the America Gardens Theater during the Flower Power series. This wristband allows you entry into the covered seating area on the left side, which is a nice little perk. We got ours for the 5:00pm show, figuring it would get us out of the sunlight. We then took a stroll across Future World over to the Living Seas Pavilion. Once we made our way downstairs via hydrolator, we stopped off at the gift shop. Jeanne had wanted to buy a stuffed Nemo for her daughter, but they only had some cheesy boxed one, not the real Disney plush. I think it was Playskool, or one of those brands, not Disney. She bought it anyway, and also got a real Disney plush Dory. We briefly checked out the marine exhibits, then left and walked over to Fountainview Bakery, where we got a chocolate croissant, which was good, but not nearly as good as the ones at the Main St Bakery in the MK. We then went back to Mission Space, and rode it twice using our FP's. After the 2nd trip to Mars, we found a father and son outside, and gave them our last set of FP's. I really love MS, and think it's a great addition to Epcot. The launch sequence is amazing, and it really makes you feel like you're taking off. We also both love to play around and flip switches and push buttons during the flight, if you do that they make all sorts of beeping and buzzing noises. One of these trips we'll try out the exhibits and games at the exit to the ride, but it always seems to be too crowded, even on off times. I recently found out how to play the Mission Space game online, and have done it a few times, but it's no comparison to actually being in Epcot.

We then took a walk over to Test Track, but there was a 75 minute standby line, and the FP window wasn't until 3:30pm, by which time we planned on being firmly ensconced in World Showcase. So, we decided not to try TT, but we did go in through the gift shop area, and went to the GM display area near the rides exit. Every time I go to TT, I use the kiosk they have in the GM display to send info to one of my co-workers, Andy, who really enjoys getting the phone calls from GM salesmen, and the related brochures. This has been going on for several years, and he retaliates against me by doing the same when he goes away. I just punch in his info (work address and number), and type in that he wants to buy a GM product within the next few months. I usually check on the most expensive GM products, which seems to generate more calls for him. He also has a nice display of Cadillac and Hummer brochures all over his desk thanks to me!!

After my assignment at TT was done, we walked to World Showcase, via the Mexico side. We stopped off at the Cantina San Angel, the outside lunch pavilion. Jeanne had the combo plate, I had the wet burrito (which I really love ), and a coke. The tab came to $18, but for being able to eat a lunch outside overlooking the Epcot lagoon, it was priceless. There is really nowhere I'd rather be that at Epcot. Once we finished our lunchtime repast, we walked inside the Mexico pavilion. Jeanne did some shopping, looking for things for her kids, and I wandered around inside. I walked into a small room off the main room, on the side where the ride entrance is, and found a kiosk that allows you to make a video postcard. I had never noticed this in here before. It included a Day of the Dead postcard, which would put your face on a dancing skeleton. It looked like fun, so I went through the commands, and when the time comes, it tells you to face the camera and move your head for 10 seconds. I completed the video, and when it played back, it was hilarious. I sent a copy to myself and my friend Sean at work. Unfortunately, neither one ever came through. In fact Sean was just down at Epcot in mid July, and he tried the same kiosk, and the one he sent to me didn't work, but at least I received that one. He said the one he sent himself at home worked once, but would not replay a second time. I then went back into the main room, and rejoined Jeanne who had purchase a few things. We then left the building, and walked slowly through World Showcase, stopping to examine the floral displays and topiaries, and pause for the occasional picture. We made our way to Japan, where I intended to buy one of the pearls from an oyster. My youngest daughter had told me she wanted a pearl ring from Japan, so this was a fun way to do it. I went to the counter, selected a ring setting, and paid for my oyster ($25 & 13, total $48). I then picked my oyster and watched the clerk open it up. It was a bit over 7mm, and very nicely colored, but not big enough for the ceremonial drum roll they do when the pearl is over 7.5mm. The girl then put the pearl into the ring, taking about 10 minutes, and putting it in a little gift box. It came out very nicely. I had asked Janine before the trip what her ring size was, so they made sure we got the right size ring, and it ended up being a perfect fit.

Once we were finished with our shopping , we walked back out the IG exit, and to the Beach Club. We got our new room assignment, 2636, and while at the front desk we once again changed tonights dinner seating from Alfredo's (we had checked the menu while walking through Italy, and didn't really care for what they had) to Morocco. We then went up to our new room, along with Arneil, the bellman. He was a real treasure, a very pleasant man who seemed as excited to be at the Beach Club as we were. He provided exemplary service, and we noted his name on the customer survey we filled out after our return. This room was much nicer than our original room. It was a full size room, with two queen beds and a daybed, along with desk and dresser. There was also a full size balcony, with a nice garden courtyard view. This is what we had in mind when we booked the Beach Club. After getting settled in, and enjoying the balcony view, from which you could also see across to Boardwalk if you looked to the right, we changed into bathing suits and made our way down to Stormalong Bay. We went down, and were asked to show our ID by a CM, and then given a wristband for Stormalong. We spent about 40 minutes in the various waters of Stormalong, from the lazy river, to the waterfalls, to the whirlpool, and a few runs down the slide. The chairs were all taken, and it was rather crowded, but not uncomfortably so. We just found a spot on the ground for our towels and shirts, since no chairs were available. After having our fill of the water, we dried off, and went to Beaches & Cream, where we got two coke floats from the takeout side, which came to $8.50 (a dollar more than at the MK). They definitely hit the spot, and were a perfect refreshment which we enjoyed on the back porch behind Beaches & Cream. We then made our way back up to our new and improved room, and changed into park attire. We then walked outside, and headed back to Epcot. Once we arrived at the gates, they told us the computer system was down, and the turnstiles weren't working, but they looked at our AP's, and let us in. We first stopped at the UK, where Jeanne bought a cat shaped tea cup, which set her back $14. We then hit the walk-up bar outside the currently closed Rose & Crown, and I ordered a pint o' Bass, while Jeanne had a glass of Merlot, which came to $15 for the two, rather steep in my opinion for generic Merlot and a pint. We then took a leisurely walk to the USA for the Arlo show. We arrived with time to spare, showed our wristbands, and were seated in the third row on the left side, facing the stage. It was a nice place to be, especially out of the hot sun. Arlo came on with his band, and they were great. His band consists of his daughter Sarah, her husband, Arlos son (I think, but not sure), and someone else. For those expecting a rehash of Alices Restaurant, or the Motorcycle song, this was not what was in store. He did several of his songs, some traditional stuff, and quite a few of his famous dad's songs. The first show contained the following songs :

Chilling Of The Evening
My Front Pages
Oklahoma Hills
The Sinking Of The Reuben James (this was excellent)
Dead Or Alive
Gypsy Davey
St. James Infirmary
Green, Green Rocky Road

After the show ended, we loved it so much we decided to blow off dinner (which only made sense considering how many times we had changed our PS for tonight), and decided to catch the next two Arlo shows. We wandered a bit, had a kaki-gori from Japan, and then settled in for the 7:00pm show, and got to sit in the AP section once again, when they dropped the rope right at the start of the show, as it wasn't full. We got almost the exact same spot this time. The second set consisted of :

San Francisco Bay Blues
Moon Song
Dr. King (Sarah and Johnny)
Back By Popular Demand
Coming Into Los Angeles
City Of New Orleans (great version, preceded by a story about how he came to sing the song, in which he told about Steve Goodman, the author, approaching him in a bar in 1971, and asking him to listen to the song. Arlo agreed to do so for a beer, and the rest is history.)

We then stuck around the theater for the final show, ending up in the center of the seating area, front row in the outside area. It was a great spot, and when the show came on, I was able to get some fantastic pictures. Prior to the 8:15pm show, Arlo came out for autographs and pictures, and I got in line, but a couple of people spent so much time gabbing with him, only a few got to meet him. One girl spent a good three minutes with him, when there were about 100 on line, and a 15 minute time limit for him to meet us all. The final set consisted of the following songs, and an Epcot America Gardens first, at least for me, an encore:

Third Set:
You And Me
Patriot's Dream
Me and Bobby McGee
My Old Friend
Pickin' (bluegrass instrumental)
This Land Is Your Land (Annie, Jacklyn and Olivia join in)

Encore: (A first for an Arlo show at Epcot)

More of This Land Is Your Land....

This was one of the best shows I have ever caught at Epcot, and really made me appreciate his music. The show finally ended at 8:50pm due to the unscripted encore, and we decided to skip Illuminations, and head to MGM for the late showing of Fantasmic. We knew we'd be cutting it close , but we wanted to give it a try. We made it to the BC dock and were able to see a good part of Reflections of Earth while waiting for our boat. The boat finally arrived at BC, and the female skipper was pretty snotty when we said we were going to MGM. She tried to tell us it was closing, and there was no late showing of Fantasmic, but we had double checked with guest relations, and they had told us there was a 10:30pm showing tonight. She even called in on the radio as if to prove us wrong, and found out there was a late showing. Rather than apologize, she seemed pissed that she would have to take people back to MGM (which was where she was heading anyway). We arrived at MGM at 9:50pm, and had plenty of time to get to Fantasmic. In fact, they hadn't even let people into the amphitheater when we got in line, but once they opened the ropes, the line moved smoothly. We ended up just to the left of center, in the rear of the bleachers, a very good spot. The place ended up about half full, I wonder if some people had changed their minds about coming due to the mis- informed skipper. We had a wonderful time at the show, and when it was over , took our time walking out. The crowds were not too bad, and we made the first boat back once we reached the dock. We decided to go to the Boardwalk, and find some late night grub, since we had skipped dinner. We first tried ESPN, but the dining room was closed (it was only 11:10pm, I thought they served food till 1am or so). They told us they did have some appetizer items available at the bar, but we passed on that. We decided to try the BW take out pizza window, and eat on the Boardwalk overlooking the lake. We ordered a large pepperoni pizza, Jeanne ordered a glass of Sangria, and I had a coke. The total came to $20.42. The pizza was ok, nothing special, but as at lunch, the view and atmosphere were priceless. We took our time, sitting at a table just enjoying being there. We then took a slow stroll back to the Beach Club, and sat on our balcony talking and relaxing until bedtime at 1:00am...

Day 13 Saturday , May 29, 2004:

On Saturday we didn't make it out of bed until 9:30am. It was bright and sunny outside, and was supposed to be in the mid 90's. I opened the door to the room to look for the morning paper, but it wasn't there. I later found out they only provide a free paper on Monday through Friday. I really don't see the reason for that, it seems rather chintzy to me, this isn't a business hotel, it's a deluxe vacation resort. We got dressed, and made our way outside, and it was already very hot. We took a bus to AK, and walked in at 11:00am. Our first stop was Island Mercantile, where we bought a few more AP pins, and the CM asked if I wanted some DVC pins. They looked nice, so I bought a couple, but I think he was only supposed to sell them to DVC members. I also bought a nice blue "Where Magic Lives" frame, for $11. I checked for Beach Club pins, to add to my collection of resort pins that I have stayed at, and was unable to find any. They seemed to be out of them everywhere we looked. We then headed to Camp Minnie-Mickey for the best show at WDW, The Festival of the Lion King. We got in line for the 11:45am showing, and were in the theater shortly. I love this show more and more each time I see it, and could probably spend a whole day at AK just visiting this show. This show really brought a tear to my eye, when during the part where they include the kids while the cast sings the Lion Sleeps Tonight, one CM took a kid in a wheelchair from the crowd and made him a part of the show, wheeling him around the theater floor. The look on the kids face was of sheer joy, and it really made an impression on me. It was such a beautiful moment, and made me realize just how magical Disney can be. The singing during this show wasn't the best I have seen, but it was certainly enjoyable even without the Magical Moment. The woman who sang the Circle of Life, though, she did a fantastic version, and really overshadowed the rest of the cast in that performance. After the show ended, we took a walk to the Dawa Bar, in Harambe Village. I had enjoyed the blue colored drink there previously, and wanted to get the recipe. I found out the name was Jewel of the Nile, and the bartender told me it was 1 oz Capt Morgans Rum, 3 oz pineapple juice, ½ oz Blue curacao, 3 oz sweet and sour mix. I have since bought the ingredients, and have had several at home, but none are as good as sitting at the Dawa Bar watching the Jammin' Jungle Parade go by. I also checked some of the pin carts and shops for a Beach Club pin, striking out at every chance.

We then took a stroll to Flame Tree BBQ via the Asia path. At Flame Tree we got 2 of the adult meal vouchers $25, and ordered lunch. I had the rib plate, while Jeanne had the grilled chicken salad, 1 coke, 1 bottled water. We went to our usual seating area, out by the Discovery River, and had a nice lunch while watching the birds flying around the river. I usually have the BBQ chicken, but wanted to try something different. The ribs were rather large, but seemed to be mostly fat. I think I'll stick to the chicken next time, which is what I said after trying the pork sandwich last time. After we finished up lunch, we walked to Dino Land, and checked the pin cart for a Beach Club pin, once again striking out. While in Dino Land, I saw a CM wearing a nice looking pin, and asked her about it. She said it was a new release today, a Spring 2004 pin, and it was available at Island Mercantile. I didn't see it when we stopped by there in the morning and bought pins. So we then left Dino Land and trekked over to the Oasis area. We stopped in the gallery store across from Island Mercantile, and I spotted a Harmony Kingdom cat , of which Jeanne is a big fan, and she saw some earrings she liked, so I got them both. At Island Mercantile, we found out the Pin cart had the new pin, not the inside counter where we had bought our AP pins. We went to the pin cart, and bought a few of the new Spring pins. I later found out they had released one for each season at each park, but no one told us this at the pin cart, and I didn't realize it was part of a set until I got home. We then walked to the exit, redeeming our soda and ice cream coupons from the meal vouchers on the way out. We had a good 20 minute wait for the bus, during which time we finished our ice creams, frozen fruit bars for both of us. We finally made it back to the Beach Club at 2:20pm, one of the drawbacks of bus service at BC is you share it with 4 other resorts (Swan, Dolphin, YC, BW), and sometimes bus travel can be very time consuming from any of those resorts. When we entered the Beach Club, we were greeted by Art the Greeter, and posed for pictures with him. He was in fine spirits as always, and makes you feel welcome at the Beach Club. We then stopped at the gift shop, inquired about BC pins (negative), picked up our previous days purchases, and went up to our room. We then hit the pool for about 40 minutes, and it was packed, more so than yesterday. We still had a great time, and got to experience everything we wanted to. We then went back upstairs, and changed back into park attire, and Jeanne then went outside and took my picture on the balcony. We then walked to Epcot, and arrived at 4:00pm. It was extremely hot and sunny still, and we decided to stop by Japan and get a Kaki-Gori. Unfortunately, the line was very long, and it was moving very slowly, so we passed. We then went to the USA, and caught the 4:40pm American Adventure show. They had us enter through the exit area, as there was some sort of private party inside in the rotunda. We then went back to Japan after the show, and were able to finally get our Kaki-Goris to cool us down in the hot sun. We talk a long walk around World Showcase, stopping at the margarita stand outside Mexico for a fiesta margarita. We then continued our loop around WS, stopping in the UK where Jeanne did some browsing, while I watched the Beatles cover band do a decent version of Here Comes The Sun. We then continued on to France, and I was feeling the heat, so we found a bench in the shade by the garden area, and sat down for awhile. We decided to catch the 6:30pm Impressions of France, as it would be a nice air conditioned break, and I had forgotten just how good this show is. We really enjoyed both the AC and the show itself. The film ended just in time for our 6:50pm PS at Chef's De France, and we were seated promptly in the room on the Morocco side. Our waiter Yvan took our orders promptly, but finding him after that proved to be quite the chore, as we had to get other waiters to refill our water glasses several times during the meal, as our waiter was not bothering to come check up on us. I had the flatbread appetizer, Jeanne had a salad, I had the duck entree, while she had the seafood skewer again. We got a bottle of Debeouf Merlot, and the dinner total came to $88, with a $16 tip, for a total of $104. Even though the service was not the best tonight, the food was great.

Once dinner was over, we walked over to the USA once again, and caught the 8:15pm Rascals show. Once again, we arrived as they opened up the AP section to everyone, and we got to sit in that section, 4th row. It was a much better show than I expected, with a nice rendition of Good Lovin' among other songs. After the show ended, we took a walk to Germany, and I got my traditional brewski from the beer cart, and we got our usual spot near the boat dock to watch Illuminations for the last time on this trip. After Illuminations ended, we talk the long walk around WS, savoring our last night in Epcot on this vacation. We finally made our way around to the IG, and exited back to the Beach Club. We had brought a bottle of champagne with us, that we had saved since Valentines Day, and tonight we popped the cork, and had our champagne on our balcony, sitting there relaxing until midnight, a perfect ending to a wonderful vacation.

Day 14/15 Sunday/Monday , May 30/31, 2004:

On Sunday morning we awoke at 8:00am, packed our stuff, which amazed us as to how much we actually had bought, and called for a bellhop. He arrived shortly after, and brought our stuff down to the van, and we loaded it all in. I made a last check at the gift shop for a Beach Club pin, and found out they had just issued a surprise 500LE Bear/Beach Club pin. It was really nice, so I bought 2, as did Jeanne. We then drove to DTD, in order to purchase Memorial Day pins before leaving, as they were being released today. It turned out that the shops didn't open until 9:30am, and we were early, so we drove to the Waffle House on 535, and had breakfast. We lucked out, and were seated right away, because no sooner did we sit down then there was a huge crowd that ended up waiting for seats. After finishing up at Waffle House, we returned to DTD, stopped at the DTD Pin traders, got our Memorial Day pins, and left DTD at 9:48am, bound for home. I originally planned on stopping somewhere in either northern Virginia or Maryland for the night, but it turned out I wasn't tired at all, and other than gas stops in GA,SC (coupled with a Taco Bell stop that was a mistake) , a stop at the JR Outlet in mid NC, and gas in VA & NJ, we pulled into the driveway at home at 3:25am, having gone 1181 from the parking lot at DTD.

This trip was a very good one on several fronts, having experienced some new things (Liberty Tree Tavern, Earl of Sandwich, Fultons, Flying Fish) , some old favorites (Boma, Teppanyaki, Chef's), some new meals, and having gotten some really good stuff on our shopping trips.

Our next trip is going to be a Land Sea combo, with an extra day thrown in, making for 4 nights at the Beach Club, and 4 nights on the Disney Wonder, in December.

We really loved our room and the whole environment at PO-FQ, and would definitely recommend it, especially for couples. It was really nice walking along the riverside late at night, enjoying a glass of wine, and watching the boats cruise by. We did enjoy the Beach Club, but the first room we had was not at a level that I would consider to be a deluxe. The second room was great, as was Stormalong Bay, and the ease of access to Epcot, which is our favorite park.

The Veteran of the Day Ceremony was wonderful, and I'm proud to have participated in it for the 2nd time. Once again, we saw some great moments from CM's, in particular the two bellhops at Beach Club, the skipper Don on the PO-FQ river cruise to DTD, and the CM in FOTLK who took the wheelchair bound kid and made him a part of the show. I once again enjoyed getting a haircut in the Magic Kingdom, had some great meals at Boma, Chef's D'France, andTeppanyaki, even if I think the price hikes at Teppenyaki are a bit high. We had some great pictures come out, and we also enjoyed doing the donation drive for Give Kids The World. We also enjoyed seeing some old favorites at Comedy Warehouse, in particular Phillip, Joy, Matt, and Mary.

We don't particularly care for the new admission policy at Pleasure Island, and hope it is short lived, it seems to benefit those who do not pay for admission, and makes it more difficult for paying guests to experience the clubs and street life. We also didn't think too much of lunch at China's 9 Dragons Restaurant, although the dim sum was OK.

Overall, the Flower & Garden Festival is really a great time to visit, some of the displays are amazing, and the music series is a nice benefit too. It was also nice to spend a day at Epcot with my co-worker Mike & his wife. It was also nice to see Flo & Eddie, and Arlo Guthrie and get great pics of them.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and welcome your comments.

Thanks, and take care,

Bill

trprt@hvc.rr.com


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