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Janice O'Hanley -- March 2004 -- Walt Disney World (Swan, BW)


The Cast

  • Janice (yours truly)
  • Marianne
  • Kerry
  • Nancy
  • Jeannette
  • Nicci
  • Heather

Resorts

  • Janice, Marianne and Jeannette staying at the Swan
  • Kerry, Nancy, Nicci and Heather staying at the Boardwalk Concierge

Travel Accommodations

  • Janice and Marianne flying Southwest out of Providence – 7 AM
  • Kerry, Nancy and Jeannette flying Delta out of Boston – 8 AM
  • Nicci and Heather flying Delta out of Boston – 8 PM

Friday – March 26th

Since we all had to make different plans for our flights, we weren't able to leave together like in the past. Marianne and I were flying out of Providence on Southwest on the 7:00 am flight. My son Sean was good enough to be our chauffeur to and from the airport, which saved us on parking fees. We decided to leave our homes around 4:30 – 4:45 am, hoping to arrive at the airport by 5:30 am. Since we are only bringing two carry-ons each, we have no need to check anything in. Thinking that we were going to have plenty of time to spare to wait at the gate, we walked right into the airport and saw tons of people. First there was a long line to get our boarding pass then an even longer line to reach security. Fortunately both lines moved along quickly and we made it through security and to our gate with about 40 minutes to spare. After boarding, our flight left on time with no delays and we actually arrived into Orlando a half-hour early.

Kerry, Nancy and Jeannette are leaving out of Boston around 8:00 am. Unfortunately Nicci and Heather couldn't get the day off and had to leave from Boston at 8:00 pm. Marianne and I arrived in sunny Orlando around 9:30 am and since Marianne's husband was down in the area for the week, he offered to pick us up and bring us to the Swan. When we arrived there we were lucky enough to have our rooms ready. After changing our clothes, we decided to have a quick bite to eat at the Dolphin Fountain in the Dolphin hotel, which was a short walk across the way from us. We needed this to hold us over until it is time for our p.s. at the Grand Floridian Afternoon Tea for 4:30 pm. We both ordered hamburgers with fries and ice teas. After our much-needed nourishment, we headed over to the Boardwalk resort lobby to meet Kerry, Nancy and Jeannette. They arrived from the airport around 12:00 pm. and we met up with them about 5 minutes later.

After our hugs and hellos we went upstairs to the Concierge lounge for a few minutes. Kerry and Nancy were staying in Concierge with Nicci and Heather, so they wanted to go up and check things out. Their rooms weren't going to be ready until later but bell services would take care of their luggage. We only stayed a short while and then decided to go to a park. First off we had to bring Jeannette's luggage to our room at the Swan. This gave the girls a change to see our great view of MGM Studios and the Boardwalk Villas. Now it was time for our first park. Epcot was the obvious choice and the five of us walked over to the International Gateway, which took no time at all. As we were walking in, the music from Beauty and the Beast was playing, so that told us to go over the bridge towards France. We weren't going to be able to go to every country this day so we decided to randomly choose countries along the way. Our first stop was Japan looking in the shops that had handbags. Both Kerry and Marianne were looking for a particular type of bag to accommodate their needs, but nothing here seemed to do that. Next we went to Italy and even though I went into the shops with the girls, I made sure that I sat outside and enjoyed for my last time, the Masquerade performers. since they will no longer be entertaining guests soon. I don't understand why this lovely entertainment is stopping. They seem very popular and will be sorely missed. We walked onto Germany and strolled in the shops there.

After this stop, Kerry decided to head back to her hotel to see if their room was ready and to reconfirm her "special" arrangements that she was planning for our weekend. On Saturday I was going to be celebrating my birthday and Kerry had a big surprise for this occasion planned. She actually was working with a planner for this and I just couldn't imagine what it could be. (You all will just have to wait until I get to that portion of the report to find out too!) She also had a surprise for each of the other girls and was having a great time doing this. By this time Nancy and Jeannette were starving and needed something to eat to hold them over until our Afternoon Tea priority seating. Since the American pavilion was coming up, they figured that a snack here at the Liberty Inn would do the trick. I had never been in this restaurant before, so this was nice to visit. Marianne and I got a cold drink and waited for Nancy and Jeannette to hold off the hunger pains. We quickly stopped at Norway and contemplated riding Maelstrom, but since it was a 25-minute wait, decided to skip it. Nancy and Marianne did go into the shops and spotted a few things that they liked but came out empty handed for the time being. We made a stop in the Company D store behind scenes and then realized that we should head over to the Grand Floridian for our tea. We walked right through Future World and hopped on the monorail. When we got to the TTC, we parted company for a short time. Marianne and I decided to walk over by way of the Polynesian walkway and Jeannette and Nancy took the resort monorail. Since Jeannette is 75 years young, the monorail was a good choice for her by this time. She is amazing and very physically fit for her age but we still didn't want to push her. This was a nice walk that Marianne and I took and I even got my first close-up of the inside of the Wedding Pavilion. We continued our stroll to the Grand Floridian and met up with Nancy, Jeannette and Kerry. We tried to check in early for our p.s., but the cast member said that they had a party of 16 coming in and couldn't fit us in until our time. No problem, we just checked out a few shops and then sat down in the lobby near the tea room area and chatted until we were called. We were seated in the center of the room right next to the table of strawberries and cream (which was calling my name). Our server was Dennis, who was so much fun to interact with. He treated us like royalty. We all ordered The Buckingham, which consists of the five different tea sandwich quarters with an onion tart, our choice of flavored teas, our favorite scones with devonshire cream and raspberry preserve and our choice of either strawberries and cream or pastries. This meal filled us up and we were able to take our picture with Dennis before we left.

We walked toward the dock to take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. It was starting to get a little chilly out so I put on my lightweight zippered hooded sweatshirt. It was a pleasant ride across the water and before we knew it we were going through security and under the railroad bridge of our beloved Magic Kingdom. It was just starting to get dark and we decided to make the Jungle Cruise our first ride of the weekend. The listed wait time was for 10 minutes but the line looked like it was for much longer. As we started walking through the queue, the line kept on going and before we knew it, we were on our boat. I guess looks can be deceiving. A few of my friends had never been on the JC at night, so they were excited to be able to ride it tonight. The skipper was ok, I've had funnier cruises and I've had worse ones. I like to go along with it and laugh at the corny jokes, just as long as the delivery is fun. After leaving JC, we headed into Pirates with only a short wait. This classic ride is a must on my list and always enjoyable. I have to admit that I do enjoy Pirates at Disneyland better, though. There seems to be so much more to it, including two dips and a Hidden Mickey that is very visible in the scene where the pirate ship is shooting the cannons at the fort. Anyway we finished our boat ride and headed toward Frontierland. Hoping to get on Big Thunder Mountain but the stand-by line was at 40 minutes already and no fast passes. We wanted to ride this at night also but will try later in the weekend. I was a little chilly and didn't want to attempt Splash Mountain tonight and the others agreed. We headed towards the Haunted Mansion but decided to take a detour and ride the River Belle. This was a first for me and it was very relaxing. I enjoyed listening to the story along the river and would recommend this to anyone who needs some down time. After disembarking the paddleboat, we then headed to the HM. This is always a fun attraction and some of the girls had never seen Leota's tomb and the moving eyes. They got a kick out of it! I enjoy watching the cast members in the mansion. Most of them really get into character and are quite entertaining. I love it when they sneak up on the unsuspecting girls in the stretch room and scare them half to death. Marianne is a big Donald Duck fan and I made sure to point out to her the Hidden Donald on the high back chair. She was so excited to see it. We headed into Fantasyland hopping to ride Pooh but saw that it was quite crowded. Why not go into Mickey's PhilharMagic? It runs every 15 minutes and only a few of us have seen it before. It's my favorite on-site 3-D show. Once again this show did not disappoint and for the first timers – they thought it was awesome! It was now time to pick a spot to watch Wishes. Now this will be a first for me, even though I was here in October when it first premiered. We got a great spot right under Tinkerbell's wire and because of that I tried to get a couple of pictures of her flying with my zoom lens. I'm hoping that at least one of them will come out. (Unfortunately they didn't come out. Has anyone gotten any pictures of Tinkerbell and if so, how did you do it?) Wishes is a fantastic fireworks show and I love the images projected on the castle which adds to it. We all loved it and it ended up being one of our favorite things of the weekend. Once the show was over we shuffled down Main Street along with everyone else in the park. We did take a quick detour in the Emporium (among the other shops), to let some of the crowd disperse. By the time we got to our bus stops (Swan & Dolphin for Marianne, Jeannette and me and Yacht/Beach Club and Boardwalk for Kerry and Nancy) the lines were moving along nicely and we made the next bus. I wanted to go with Kerry and Nancy to wait for Nicci and Heather to come in from the airport but it had been a long day and I really could use a decent night's sleep.

Next day is my big "birthday" surprise.

Saturday – March 27th

We got up around the usual time, all taking turns in the shower. Today's plans start with a visit to Animal Kingdom. Marianne and Jeannette had brought quick breakfast food to eat in the mornings but I decided to wait until I got to the park to have something to hold me over until lunch. We walked over to BW and met up with the others (now joining us is Nicci and Heather) upstairs in the concierge lounge. They were just about ready to leave so we headed down to the bus stop and waited for the bus, hoping to arrive at the park for opening. Since we all had comp tickets, we had to wait in line at the Guest Relations window first before entering the park. They were already letting guests into the park through the turnstiles but once you arrived to the bridge they had everyone roped off. We were pretty far back and could slightly see that Mickey and Goofy were there in their Jammin' Jungle jeep, doing the opening greeting. Our plan was to head into Dinoland first and do Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl. Marianne, Kerry, Jeannette and Heather are not the thrill ride lovers that Nancy, Nicci and I are. So the three of us headed over to ride Dinosaur while the others waited in the Dinoland area for us. I can remember when this ride use to make me nervous because I'm not a lover of things jumping out at you in the dark. It took about 3 or 4 times for me to thoroughly feel comfortable during this ride. Now I can ride this with a big smile on my face just in time for the photo op towards the end of the ride. I've overcome my "fear" and am able to enjoy every minute of this attraction. After our ride through prehistoric times we headed over to meet the others. To our surprise, all four of them rode Primeval Whirl. I knew Marianne was planning on riding it but when the others said that they went on, I was totally shocked. Of course Nancy, Nicci and I needed to go on this too and everyone else except Jeannette rode with us again. Even though this is a mild ride to me, I really enjoy the how this attraction makes me feel, especially towards the end when you are traveling backwards up and down the tracks.

Next we headed towards the Kali River Rapids. I do enjoy going on this ride but I have to be hot and in need of cooling down before I decide to climb aboard one of the rafts. So far today's temperature was perfect for enjoying a park but not overly hot and humid. I decided not to partake on this ride and only Nicci and Nancy made the choice of riding. Kerry had that mischievous look in her eyes and couldn't wait to man her post to squirt the rafts as they passed under the bridge. She said that she could have stood there all day getting people wet. Nicci and Nancy came off the raft pretty soaked, which made me glad that I didn't go on. We then decided to get fast passes for the Safari. As we were walking towards Harambe Village, I was trying to keep my eyes open to see if I could find DeVine. Marianne has never seen her before, but even though I was looking every which way we went, we never did see her today. Harame Village was so congested with people that it felt very claustrophobic. We decided to go into the Maharajah Jungle Trek because Nicci is a lover of tigers and was dying to see them. Kerry was not too fond of going thru this because of the bats, but we told her that she didn't have to go into the room where you can see them. When we came upon the tiger section, to our surprise they weren't sleeping. One was actually up against the window and I was able to get a fairly good picture of him close up. We stayed in this area for about 15 minutes and then proceeded out of the trail. At this point Kerry, Jeannette and Marianne opted to leave the park and go back towards the resort. They were planning on heading to Epcot for a little bit later. So this left Nicci, Heather, Nancy and I to pick up our fast passes for the Safari. By this time we were starving and since no one has ever been to Pizzafari before, that's where we headed. Boy did that pizza taste good! A small personal size pizza was just perfect for each of us to get. After our lunch we still had about 45 mins. until our fast passe windows were open so we headed towards the front of the park to do a little shopping. Along the way we saw Lilo and Stitch and Nicci and I got in line to have our pictures taken with them. We felt like giant kids in line but it was still a lot of fun.

Now was time for "shopping mode" to go into effect (not for me, I'm more of a window shopper). This time was mostly reserved for Nicci, who was in a big spending type of mood. We covered each shop in this area of the park, from door to door, ending up in a section that had collectibles. Here's were Nicci burned a hole in her pocket. After much debating in her mind between what she wanted, she ended up with a good-sized Harmony Kingdom Princess box and a Big Fig. of Tigger and Pooh. This sculpture is huge and of course needed to be shipped home. Nicci is a Tigger lover and has quite a collection at home. I'm sure this will go in a treasured spot. By the way, Heather also did some buying, she decided on a Lenox figurine of Snow White and Dopey, a gift for her mother. She had this shipped back home along with Nicci's purchases.

Now it was time for our safari ride. The four of us headed back through the Harambe Village and into the fast pass return line. We quickly walked past a long line of guests and got into our jeep within minutes.

We saw plenty of animals but unfortunately the lions were no where on the big hill that they usually lie on.

After our safari we headed out of the park and decided to go back to the resort. By this time it was getting to be about 2 pm and we needed a little down time. I went back to the Swan to figure out what to where for the second half of the day's activities. I still don't know what is planned for my birthday surprise and not knowing what to expect, I picked up a lightweight hooded sweatshirt to tie around my waist, just in case the evening got a little cooler. Jeannette was resting in the room (her knee was giving her problems and so she was nursing it for awhile). Marianne and Kerry had gone to Epcot for the rest of the afternoon and would meet us at the Wilderness Lodge for our dinner. Jeannette and I slowly walked back over to the Boardwalk and up to the other girl's room. Nancy, Heather and Nicci were there lounging around. When I walked in I noticed that they were wearing pants or jeans for the rest of the day/evening. Well at this point I decided to walk back over to the Swan and change into jeans and also pick up a warmer jacket. I wanted to be prepared for anything. I had plenty of time before we headed out for dinner. After I got back we casually walked to the bus stop to get the Magic Kingdom bus so we could take the ferry to the Wilderness Lodge. Little did we know that the bus would take close to 45 minutes before coming and that when we finally made it to the dock for the ferry. We just missed one ferry and had to wait for the next one. We were cutting it close for our 5:00 pm priority seating at the Whispering Canyon Café and just knew that Kerry was probably getting nervous about our arrival time. Finally we arrived at the WL dock at 4:55 pm and from there we called Kerry on her cell and teased her a bit, saying that we were running way late! This was my first time at the lodge and I was snapping a lot of pics of the pool and lodge area. It is really a beautiful resort and I would love to stay here sometime in the future. As we entered the lobby, Kerry and Marianne saw us and they seemed relieved that we made it on time. Now even though I am excited to be eating here for the first time, I am also quite nervous due to the fact that this is my birthday dinner and I have heard that embarrassing things can happen to the guest of honor. Well here we go, our party was called right on time and we were escorted to the farthest table in the room. This table was the first one that the waiters and waitresses saw when coming out of the kitchen. I was seated with my back towards the kitchen and this made me even more nervous. Now I have to say that eating here was not one of my surprises. Kerry and I had decided a few months ago to eat here and at the time I didn't even think that it was going to be on my birthday. Oh well, maybe they will be easy on me. Everytime I heard a cast member come out of the kitchen I turned my head, half-expecting for something to happen. Well the one time that I relaxed was when our waitress came and started to place a large paper napkin on my head. Everyone started chuckling and really enjoying how I looked. I tried to see myself in the reflection of the windows that we sat next to, but couldn't really see all that well. Did I really want to see myself anyway? Probably not! We were given our menus and put in our drink orders. I made sure that I didn't order anything in a "large" size. Also I was not planning on asking for ketchup, no matter how much I would have liked to. (Thanks for these hints on the boards – I'm sure this saved me from further embarrassment). I ended up ordering the Glazed Pork Chops with Yukon Mashed Potatoes, fresh Corn on the Cob and the Chocolate Milk Shake. This was such a delicious meal and very filling. No room for dessert at this time. We had such a fun time singing and interacting with all of the waiters/waitresses. This was a perfect place to celebrate a birthday, I highly recommend it to anyone (for a special occasion or not). We seemed to be pressed for time to get somewhere, so I didn't really get a chance to explore the rest of the lobby and gift shop. I guess I will just have to come back at another time in the future. Out to the boat dock with went and we had to wait a little bit longer than I wanted because the night air was getting a bit chilly. Finally our boat came and we headed toward the back of the boat in the open-air seats. Even though I was cold, this ended up being so much fun because "our ring leader" Kerry decided that we needed to sing Disney songs to everyone. I've mentioned once before in one of my other trip reports that she is like having Radio Disney with you all the time. She knows every word to every Disney song known to man. We all joined in and sang song after song while riding the waters to the Magic Kingdom dock. As we were leaving the boat, we got a round of applause from the other guests and even one lady commented on how much fun we made the boat ride. It's nice to be appreciated! Onto a bus back to the Boardwalk. I still didn't know what was next on the agenda and was trying to rack my brain to figure out what my "big surprise" was going to be. Now here are a bunch of grown-up women wearing funny hats with straws sticking out of them, singing up a storm on the bus. We got a lot of funny looks and Jeannette let everyone on the bus know that we weren't drunk! She comes out with some very funny lines that have kept us in stitches all weekend long. Kerry seemed to be getting nervous that we were going to be late for something and was hoping that the bus would stop at the Boardwalk first, but the driver could not adjust his scheduled stops. We had to go to the Yacht Club first, then the Beach Club and finally the Boardwalk. We quickly got off the bus and ran towards the docks. At this point she couldn't hold in the surprise any longer. We were going on our own pontoon boat for an Illuminations Cruise! This has been on my top ten list of this to someday do and I was so surprised and touched that they planned and got this for my birthday celebration. We had to wait a few extra minutes because the bakery had messed up the order for the birthday cake. Because of this mix-up they ended up giving us 3 small birthday cakes (two chocolate and one vanilla). We boarded our pontoon and our skipper was a girl that was fairly new to the cruise. Well she was so nice and easy to talk to. We first cruised down towards the Studios passing by the Swan and the Boardwalk Villas. This was so beautiful and such a peaceful ride. We waved to the other boats passing by and just had a great time talking about our trip so far. In a while we headed back towards the Boardwalk and headed down towards Epcot. Under the International Bridge we went and parked right next to the Breathless. What an impressive looking boat!

We had our own little group of pontoons positioned directly in front of the best viewing spot for this spectacular fireworks show. The cast member on the pontoon next to us conducted everyone to sing Happy Birthday to me in perfect timing so that at the end of the song, I was instructed to "blow out the giant candle" (one of the torches closest to us). It worked out just right! What fun! We sat there in awe watching the globe do it's magic in the middle of the lagoon. Then the fireworks started going off and from this viewpoint, it was incredible! I always enjoy this show but this time around couldn't have been more special. After the show, we turned around and headed back towards the Boardwalk, eating birthday cake. Our skipper did an excellent job of sailing our vessel and we gave her well-deserved praises. I just want to say a big "Thank You" to Kerry and the rest of the girls for making this possible. Not ready to end our day, Kerry, Nicci, Heather, Nancy and I decided to head over to Downtown Disney for some shopping. Kerry had some last minute things to get for the other girls. She wanted to give everyone else a surprise gift to remember our trip. I was the only one able to shop with her since my surprise was concluded. So we separated from the others and found some perfect items. It was fun searching through the World of Disney and I think that Kerry came up with some very great gifts. Can you tell that she enjoys sprinkling her friends with pixie dust? She's our own special Tinkerbell. We just about closed down the stores and hopped on our designated buses back to our resorts. I tiptoed back into my room so I wouldn't disturb my roomies, but Marianne was still awake reading. We chatted for a few minutes about our day and my birthday and then it was off to a much-needed sleep. This was a great birthday and one I will never forget! See ya in the morning!

Sunday – March 28th

Today was going to be mainly MGM, but first we had a p.s. at Spoodles for breakfast. I had never been to this restaurant before so I was anxious to try this place out. I had heard very good things about Spoodles, especially breakfast. Marianne, Jeannette and I took our time walking over to the Boardwalk to meet the others for our 9:10 am seating. This place is really nice inside and would make a nice place for adults to enjoy a nice meal. I ordered a Frittata, which was similar to an omelet. It was very filling but delicious.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy their breakfast also. We headed back to the Boardwalk because we were able to get a ride over to MGM with one of the concierge staff. Marianne wanted to walk over to the Studios. This is something that she actually looks forward to doing each visit. We would meet her later on at Mama Melrose's for our p.s. Our new friend drove us directly to the park entrance but due to some construction he couldn't drop us off. Since we were cast members, he figured he would drive us to the cast member backstage entrance. This was really cool and we ended up walking into the park from behind the Rock n' Roller Coaster. We said good-bye and thank you to our new buddy and headed to ride RnRC. After realizing that we couldn't get fast passes without a pass, we headed back out of the park after our initial first ride and re-entered the park. A little silly but it was still worth it to come in from backstage.

We then headed back towards RnRC and Tower of Terror. We got fast passes for TOT and since Kerry and Jeannette weren't planning on riding it, they gave us their passes for a couple of extra rides. Last time I came in October, I only got to ride TOT once and that was after over an hour wait. It was really busy and only one side was working at the time. So it looks like I'll get to ride it a few more times this trip. We decided to walk down towards Millionaire on Mickey Ave. A show had just started and because we already had fast passes, we knew that the next show would be too long of a wait for us. We then popped in the see the "main mouse" – Sorcerer Mickey! This was one picture that the girls really wanted to get. For so long it seemed hard to find Sorcerer Mickey, just lately he has been set-up for photo ops on Mickey Ave.

We headed back towards the "Hat" so that we could ride The Great Movie Ride. I don't think Jeannette has ever been on this ride before, so it will be fun to see her reaction to all the movie scenes. Even though I do enjoy this attraction, I wish that they would update it, like some of the rumors that I've been hearing.

As we came out, we saw quite a few characters scattered about for autograph/picture ops. Nicci really wanted an autograph from her favorite character – Tigger. So I stayed in line with her and she was able to get Tigger's official signature on her Tigger camera case. This will be a cherished possession of hers, I'm sure. At this time we saw Marianne and she told us how much she enjoyed her walk over and that she was just window-shopping until she saw us. Kerry and Jeannette decided to go see the Beauty and the Beast show while we rode TOT. Since our fast pass time window was open, we grabbed more fast passes (including Kerry and Jeannette's) for our future use. We would meet up with Kerry and Jeannette after their show ended at a designated spot. I was so excited to ride TOT. This is probably my all time favorite ride (Mission Space comes to a close second), and I couldn't walk fast enough into the hotel. Nicci, Nancy and I are big thrill ride lovers, Heather and Marianne will ride this once and that will be enough for them. Our first ride was terrific and I couldn't wait to go on again. Nicci was also anxious so we took two more fast passes and walked right back in. Heather, Marianne and Nancy walked over to RnRC and got fast passes for all of us to ride later and then walked along Sunset Blvd. window-shopping until we all met up again. This second ride for Nicci and I was by far the best that I've ever had. I had not experienced this sequence before. I got to see the ghosts as we were going up and down the elevator. I loved this sequence and thought that my stomach was doing flip-flops. (I wish I could describe to you exactly how this sequence went, but after a few months my mind isn't as good with detail). We were exhilarated after this trip to the Twilight Zone and couldn't wait to tell the others. All of us met up at he designated spot and relayed our experiences. Kerry and Jeannette loved the show and Nancy, Heather and Marianne enjoyed the shops and saw some future purchases.

At this time Kerry and Jeannette decided to head back to the hotel for a break. They would return in time to meet us for our dinner p.s. at Mama Melrose's. The rest of us headed back towards the "Hat" and saw more characters. I saw Dopey and felt the need to get my picture taken with him (he's so darn cute!). Even though there were more characters to see, the lines were a little long, so we decided to go on a few more rides. We took a trip to Endor and rode Star Tours. Even though this attraction needs some updating, I still like it. Walked back down towards TOT (Nicci and I were raring to go on again, afterall we still had at least 4 more fastpasses). Heather, Marianne and Nancy opted out of riding this again and said that they would wait for us to come out. Well Nicci and I headed up the walkway and were quickly escorted into the library. It didn't take long before we were in our seats on the elevator and enjoying our third trip to the Twilight Zone. Since this didn't take too long, we thought that we might as well use up our last two fastpasses, right? We felt a little guilty, knowing that the girls would be waiting for us, but since we went through the attraction so fast this past time we knew that an extra 10 – 15 minutes wouldn't make too much difference. Wouldn't you know it, the lines in the boiler room were very long due to the fact that one of the elevators was "down". We really started feeling guilty now but we still inched our way to our ride. When we finally came out 25 minutes after our previous trip, the girls just gave us stern looks and said that they knew that we went more than once. It would have worked if there were no tie-ups. LOL! Oh well, they forgave us and we went shopping on Hollywood Blvd. We spent about a half-hour here and then headed towards our next attraction – Muppets 3D. This is a terrific show but since I've seen it sooooo many times before, I wasn't too thrilled to sit through it again. I guess this will be a little down time for me. When the show was over we headed into the gift shop and I found a few items for my daughter, a tight t-shirt (that the younger set where nowadays) with Beaker on the front and a Beaker car freshener. Marianne also decided to buy a car freshener with the Swedish Chef on it, very appropriate for her, due to the fact that she is from Sweden. Now it was time for our dinner, so we headed across the way to Mama Melrose's and saw Kerry and Jeannette who had already checked us in and we were able to be seated as soon as we walked into the restaurant. They sat us in the back of the restaurant at a long table. We didn't feel penned in at all and were able to talk and laugh to our hearts content. A few of us split meals and desserts. Today we were going to celebrate Jeannette's 75th birthday, which was at the end of last month. She was so surprised when her dessert came out with birthday candles on it and we sang to her. She seemed so touched that we wanted to recognize her "special" birthday that tears started to come. After dinner we planned on staying for Fantasmic but decided to change direction and go to the Magic Kingdom. There were still a few rides that we hadn't done yet this trip.

After stopping back at our resorts to change into warmer clothing we met at the Boardwalk bus stop and headed over to the MK. Our first stop was the Emporium since we really hadn't explored this shop yet. I work with a lot of "shopaholics", so they were in need of a fix, LOL! After a few minutes I decided to collect everyone's park hoppers and go get us fast passes for Big Thunder Mountain. Nighttime is the best time to ride this and wanted to make sure that we didn't miss this (as you will see later this was not meant to be for this trip). Marianne and Nancy went with me and we decided to meet the others in front of POTC at 7 PM. This would give them about an hour to shop to their hearts content. Marianne, Nancy and I trekked to Frontierland and over to the BTM fast pass machines. We collected our passes and then decided to go on Splash Mountain with a 45-min. wait. I wasn't sure that we would have enough time before meeting the others but this is one of Marianne's favorite rides and I couldn't disappoint my friend. So off we went to what seemed like a long line but it did move along and by the time we reached the logs we had just enough time for the ride. I insisted on sitting in the back left-hand side so as not to get wet, if at all possible. When we got off the ride we had just enough time to meet the others in front of POTC. I guess Kerry didn't feel too good and so she went back to her room at the Boardwalk. Nicci, Heather, and Jeannette got to the meet spot a bit early so they thought that they would go on the Jungle Cruise to kill some time. While waiting in line, Nicci asked Jeannette if she had ever been on this ride before and Jeannette said that she didn't think so. They boarded their boat and were floating along the river when about half way through the ride Jeannette remembered that she had indeed been on this ride before, two nights ago with Kerry, Nancy, Marianne and me. LOL! We finally got together and headed towards BTM for our ride. Well unfortunately it was down for the night. We were told that our fast passes would be good for tomorrow. We were very disappointed and now had to decide what to do next. How about the Haunted Mansion? Everyone seemed to be in agreement, so we headed in that direction. I love going to this attraction at nighttime because it really puts you in the mood. We had a full house in the stretching room which made it difficult to stay together when walking to the doombuggies, but we managed. Next we walked towards the Fantasyland entrance and decided that we needed to go see

Mickey's PhilharMagic. Nicci and Heather hadn't seen it yet and they couldn't go home tomorrow without experiencing this show. I could see this show several times each trip so I was very glad that we were going in to the theatre again. It is not a disappointment at all. We all came out with big smiles on our faces, wishing that the show were longer. Speaking of wishing, it was almost time for Wishes to start, so we quickly dredged through the crowds to the front of the castle to view the new fireworks show. This was another thing that Nicci and Heather hadn't seen yet. They loved it as much as we did and Nicci was determined to find the CD before leaving WDW. She said that she would pick one up for me if she saw it and I didn't.

By this time we knew we had to head back to the Boardwalk because Kerry was waiting for us. She had a few more surprises to give out and since tomorrow was our day for checking out and doing last minutes things, tonight would be our last quiet get-together time. We got back to her room in about 40 minutes and we walked into some balloons and sweets (which included chocolate covered strawberries). Kerry had picked out little gifts for each of the other girls to help them remember our trip. It was so thoughtful of her and they were so surprised and delighted. We had a nice little party but it was getting late and we could tell that Kerry was tired and still not feeling well. This was another great day at Disney World, but sadly tomorrow we were going home. We will definitely make the most of our last day.

Monday – March 29th

It was going to be another beautiful day. Our weather has really been fantastic for this trip, we couldn't have asked for it to be any better. We were all splitting up for the first half of our day. Some of us were going to the Magic Kingdom and the others to Epcot for the morning hours. Nancy and I were determined to go on Mission Space. I have been on 4 times previously but this would be her first time and she was very anxious and excited to ride. Kerry and Jeannette came to Epcot with us and planned on meeting us between Test Track and Mouse Gears after our ride. Meanwhile, Nicci, Marianne and Heather were heading to the Magic Kingdom and we will all meet up at the Plaza Inn for lunch at 11:30 am. The six of us had a special gift for Kerry that we will give her at lunch.

Nancy and I walked right-on Mission Space without much of a wait. Her daughter had come down a few months ago and she rode MS. Nancy was not going to back out of this; she had to call home afterward to report how she did. No way was her daughter going to call her a wimp, LOL! Nancy is a thrill ride lover just like me so I had no doubt that she would love this ride, and she did! We wish that we had come over earlier in the trip and rode it a few more times. It is so exhilarating! We walked over to Mouse Gears and walked around the shop for a few minutes before seeing Kerry and Jeannette outside waiting for us. While they were waiting, Jeannette saw a family that goes into our store all the time. Once again another example of it being a small world. Kerry had picked up fast passes for us for Test Track so that is what we headed for next. While waiting in line for a few minutes we met up with a nice couple who wanted to be on the ride with us. This was their first time and they could tell that we were experts. LOL! We told them that we would adopt them for the ride. It was another great ride and I think our "new family" members thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We said our good-byes to them and wished them a great stay down here. It was now time for us to head over to meet the others at the Plaza Inn. I was starving by now, since I didn't have anything for breakfast. I was hoping to get a ride on Space Mountain either before or after lunch but that never came to light. We made it in time for lunch with minutes to spare. We were seated near the window and had the room to ourselves. Lunch was terrific with everyone enjoying either their sandwiches or burgers. Once we were finished eating, we presented Kerry with an etched glass figurine/music box of Beauty and the Beast, which is her favorite. As soon as she opened it, tears started streaming down her face. She couldn't believe that we did this, but after all she did for us this weekend (including setting up my birthday party on the Illumination Cruise), we really wanted to give a little back to her. After lunch I had one more thing on my list to do before leaving to go home, so I said good-bye to Kerry, Jeannette and Nancy. Marianne and I are leaving a couple of hours ahead of the others so I knew I wouldn't be seeing them until sometime after we got home. Heather, Nicci and I decided to head over towards Downtown Disney. We wanted to walk across the street to the Team Disney building to see what they had in the Company D store. We took the bus from the TTC and it dropped us off at the Pleasure Island bus stop. We walked from there, crossing across the busy highway. We took a few pictures of the building because it looks like a cruise ship. Very colorful. After we made our purchases we walked back over to DTD and looked around World of Disney for a few minutes. I had about 45 minutes before I should head back to my resort to meet Marianne and catch our limo ride. The three of us decided to cool off and have a drink in the Rainforest Café bar area. I had a chocolate and banana concoction, which was very good and filling. After I finished my drink I said my good-byes to Heather and Nicci and found the bus for the Swan. I got to the resort just in time to meet Marianne in the lobby and we retrieved our luggage from the cast members. We waited outside of the hotel for the limo driver but he never showed up (last time we use this service again). After about 15 minutes, we asked the staff at the Swan and they had their towncar driver take us to the airport and we made it in plenty of time. Our trip home on Southwest was happily uneventful and when we arrived in Providence around 9 pm., all we had to do was wait for my son to pick us up. The weather was quite cold up in the Northeast and it seemed like forever for our ride to come. It took us about 40 minutes to get back to our hometown, where we dropped off Marianne and said our good nights.

This was such a fun and full of surprises trip. Hopefully we will be able to do this again next year. My next trip is to the West Coast in July. I will be going to a soap opera event in Studio City, CA and then driving down to Anaheim for a few days to enjoy Disneyland and California Adventure with a girlfriend from Philadelphia whom I met online and have known for over 5 years now. Thanks for sticking around and reading my report. Until next time…

Janice O'Hanley

ohanley@comcast.net


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