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Sue Holland -- January 2005 - Walt Disney World (OKWR)


Note: As Sue spent time at Pleasure Island and in other adult venues on this trip, this report has some information that may not be appropriate for young readers.

Who/When/Where:

Who:

  • Sue (me - 45), DVC member

Dates: January 8-9 and 14-18, 2005
Travel Method: Personal car
Resort: Old Key West Resort
Experience: Frequent guest - First marathon

INTRODUCTION:
A year ago one of my online friends suggested to our email group that we consider walking the Disney Half-Marathon in 2005. Around 10 of us signed up and made plans to be here. During the year people ended up having to drop out for a number of reasons, until now we are left with one other participant besides me. In my case I roped my friend Sheila into signing up too, and she was planning to walk until she called me last night to say she was too sick to go! Iíd originally planned to walk, but then decided to try running. I embarked on a 30-week training program, where I ran 6 days a week. All was going well for the first 18 weeks, with my longest run getting up to 8 miles. Then I fell. Actually, I tripped over a speed bump (my training was all in the dark, pre-dawn) and went crashing down. According to the orthopedic doctor Iím not supposed to jog until February (the injury happened Oct 15th), so running the half-marathon was no longer an option. However, my walking time is slightly over the timeframe Disney allows, so I will be jogging part of the course in order to make up a little time. After not training for the last 12 weeks, Iím sure I wonít be able to run for very far at a time, but I did go out and jog a mile a week ago without any difficulty. I plan for this to be my first and last marathon experience - while I enjoyed discovering I could do it, I never enjoyed the actual running.

Unfortunately, I wonít have anyone waiting for me at the finish. However, SB (sexy boyfriend) will be tracking me on the website, following my progress along the course. Iíll also have my cell phone with me - although I have no idea if weíre allowed to use them while on the course. Last year a friend from Boston ran the whole marathon, and I went with her to pick up her registration packet at Wide World of Sports. The traffic and crowds were worse than anything you could imagine - think of Magic Kingdom on the busiest day of the year and then multiply it by 10 and you might start to get the idea! Registration starts at 8:30 on Saturday, so Iíll be on the road by 5am in order to get there early! After registration is done Iíll check in at Old Key West and then figure out how I want to spend the day. Sleep will need to come early, since Sunday transportation to the starting point begins at 3am. Itís a VERY early day! After the marathon Iíll need to shower and hit the road for the Miami area, where Iíll be working next week. Friday afternoon I return to spend 4 nights at WDW on a long weekend trip. Right now the weather looks like crap for that weekend, but weíll see what happens. Iíll be meeting my friends Pete & Judy for lunch at Le Cellier, and probably some Comedy Warehouse. Unless the weather is really crappy I may hit Comedy Warehouse every night, since I wonít be back again until July after this trip!

The current plans (subject to change) so far...

Sat 1/8: Drive to WDW, Marathon Registration,
Sun 1/9: Marathon, Drive to Miami
Fri 1/14: Drive to WDW, Comedy Warehouse?
Sat 1/15: Animal Kingdom, Wolfgang Puckís Lunch, Comedy Warehouse
Sun 1/16: Le Cellier Lunch, Comedy Warehouse
Mon 1/17: Magic Kingdom, Comedy Warehouse
Tue 1/18: Drive to work (Ft Myers)

DAY 1 - SATURDAY JAN 8, 2005:
Plan: Drive to WDW, Marathon Registration
Actual: I was up at 3:30 a.m. and on the road by 5, as planned. Luckily the expected fog was very minor, and the only traffic problem was a semi-truck that had tipped on its side on I-4. Iím sure that created a major mess later, but I was coming through so early it was just a minor inconvenience. I arrived on WDW property before 8, so I went directly to Old Key West to get checked in before going to the Expo.

The security guard said ďWelcome HomeĒ, and there was no wait to check in. My studio wasnít ready yet, but the cast member found one that was. After confirming that it was not a handicapped unit and it was definitely no-smoking, I took it. Iím in building 51, which is one of the buildings where the bus passes through the parking lot. Since Iím only here 1 night I didnít care, but in the past Iíve never wanted to stay here. I donít like the idea of those big buses tearing through the parking lot where my car would be! I brought my overnight stuff up to the studio and immediately noticed that some moron had smoked in there. It wasnít really strong, and I didnít want to go through the hassle of going all the way back to the front desk & try for another studio. So, I left the porch door wide open and turned on the ceiling fan to let the studio air out while I was gone. Iím not on the ground floor, so Iím not really worried about intruders. I also have a candle I can burn later if the room still smells.

I just dropped my stuff off and went back to the car to drive over to Wide World of Sports to register at the Expo in the Milk House. They had shuttle buses running from the resort, but this early in the day I figured it was easier to drive. I was able to park easily, and joined the crowd of people walking in. They hadnít opened the Milk House yet, so I joined the long line waiting to get in. Once they started though, it moved quickly. I was next to a very nice man who was doing the full marathon, and passed the time chatting with him.

Once inside they direct you to sign in according to your runner number. They had the full marathon runners on one side and the half marathon runners on the other, and each station is for a range of numbers. Nobody was in line at my area, so it took no time at all to get my bag of stuff and sign the waivers. They also gave me my chip (to be worn on my shoelace), which I activated on my way out of the room. When I placed the envelope containing the chip on a pad, my name and personal information appeared on the computer screen - activation complete. I wandered around the exhibits at the Expo, and picked up a couple of freebies from some vendors. I wasnít sure my number would fit on the top I was planning to wear tomorrow (didnít think to pin it to my shorts), so I paid $34 for a marathon tank rather than have to go out to a store somewhere & find something to wear. They gave us a shirt in our marathon packet, but it had long sleeves and Iím not used to running in more than a short tank. I also bought one of those throw-away jackets ($5). The guy said some people take them off & tie them around their waist, since they only weigh 3 ounces.

Shortly after 9 I was finished (Expo opened at 8:30), so I picked up a free power bar outside and drove over to the BoardWalk. I was getting hungry, so I checked out the bakery there but found nothing that really appealed to me. I walked into Epcot and rode Test Track using the single rider line. A family of 4 was riding for the first time, and the little boy thought it was ďawesomeĒ. They all went running around to get back in line to do it again! I was going to ride Living with the Land, but the entire Land pavilion is closed now due to the Soariní construction. Instead, I rode Spaceship Earth and then went searching for food. Electric Umbrella is open for breakfast, but it was more than I wanted. I ended up at Fountain View, where I got an apple pastry that was similar to a turnover except not folded over. It wasnít bad, and I sat out in the sun next to the fountain. When I finished the pastry I had nothing better to do so I composed and sent a long email to several people at work about an ongoing project. I now have a Nextel Blackberry, which is both a phone and can be used for my work email.

Once I finished the email it was almost 11 so I headed back to World Showcase. I decided to skip the boat ride in Mexico, and headed to Norway instead. Unfortunately the Maelstrom was going to remain closed for a while due to some problems. I walked the rest of the way around World Showcase and then exited at the International Gateway. After walking back to the Boardwalk for my car, I drove back to my studio at OKW. I was very pleased to find the smoke smell pretty much gone! I went through my marathon bag to see what was in there, and tried on my new shirts. I ended up deciding the new tank is too nice to sweat all over in a marathon, so Iíll stick with the cruddy tank I trained in - the number does just barely fit. There wasnít much to unpack, but I did get settled in the studio before updating the report and then going to the SouthPoint pool to relax for a while.

The weather was perfect for the pool, and I spent almost 2 hours lying on my chair - probably dozing off and on but not wanting to fall asleep! After talking with SB on the phone awhile I decided to return to the studio and get online. I was afraid of falling asleep at the pool and then not being able to get to sleep tonight. Soon SB was online too, so we spent an hour chatting back and forth that way. Around 3:15 I walked out to the bus stop and took the first bus that came, getting off at the Hospitality House so I could ride the boat to Downtown Disney. It was going to be 20 minutes before the next boat, but it was a gorgeous day and I really wasnít in any hurry so I waited. I donít like that we no longer have our nice pontoon boats for the ride to Downtown Disney. Once Saratoga Springs opened they combined the 2 resorts on the ferry run, and got us some of the butt-ugly boats used by Port Orleans. At least we donít have the tacky wooden seats, though. Our seating is different, with padding, and as a result our boats hold fewer passengers (34) than Port Orleans (I think they carry 48 on the same size boat).

The ride to Downtown Disney was pleasant, but a little cool since I hadnít thought to put warmer clothes on. We made a stop at Saratoga, and then continued to the Marketplace. Iíd already pretty much determined I didnít feel like eating at Wolfgang Puckís Café tonight after all, so I went to Captain Jackís instead. This turned out to be a good choice, as I was at the early end of the dinner period and it wasnít busy at all. I was seated at a table by the window, and my server (Garrett) did an excellent job. I decided to skip the wine tonight, and just ordered the Italian Tomato Salad. Theyíve changed the way they prepare this, but itís still good - I prefer the older version but will return to get this again even with the changes. The tomatoes are now sliced, then quartered and the focaccia is much smaller. I donít think thereís as much mozzarella as there used to be, but it was plenty for my meal (ate it all). The Disney Dining Experience card is taken here, for 20% off.

After dinner I wandered through the Marketplace, under Pleasure Island, and then through the West Side before returning to the PI bus stop. The OKW bus was pulling up as I crossed the street, so the timing was perfect! Only 3 of us were on the bus, and the other 2 got off at the first stop. Back in the studio I pinned my race number to my tank, and struggled with trying to get the damn chip on my sneaker. I thought the instructions were too vague, and the pictures are too hard to see any details. I finally just tied the stupid thing on there so it wouldnít fall off, but I was hoping it would be secured & not flapping around! I canít believe Iíll be getting up at 2am to go running!

I made some (caffeine free) cappuccino and watched some TV from bed. SB and I spent some time online together, and Chris called during his break from work. I swear teens donít remember anything unless it involves them personally - he wanted to know why I wasnít at Comedy Warehouse, and I reminded him I had to be up at 2! I had some frustrating moments when I wasnít able to access the trip report. Each time Iíd open it, Iíd get an error message and Word would shut down. I wasnít about to try to re-type the whole day at this point, but I managed to open the file in WordPad, then copy/pasted it into a new Word document. Hopefully I wonít have any other problems with it.

Today was a nice, pleasant day. Traffic was okay, the weather was gorgeous, I got through that dreaded registration process at the Expo much easier than expected, and enjoyed my time in Epcot and at the pool.

DAY 2 - SUNDAY JAN 9, 2005:
Plan: Marathon, Drive to Miami
Actual: I ended up turning out the lights to get some sleep around 8:30, with the alarm set for just after 2. I actually did feel pretty rested when the alarm went off, but I still wished I wasnít getting up so early! I took a quick shower and when I checked the laptop saw I was unable to get online because my son Chris was online. I called him and had him get off for a while, and found SB there. We chatted a bit - but I really didnít have much free time. I ate a yogurt and some leftover chicken breast for breakfast, and was at the bus stop by 3:10 a.m.! Other runners arrived, and we all chatted a little to pass the time. Finally the bus came and we headed to the Epcot parking lot. This marathon is absolutely huge, and the planning that goes into it must be mammoth! I was surprised at the heavy traffic at 3:30 in the morning - it was bumper to bumper buses full of runners but also at least as many cars full of other people.

The bus dropped us off at the right spot, and then we had a .6 mile walk to the next waiting area. Here they had Kabang (a band from Pleasure Island) performing - nothing like ďPlay that Funky Music White BoyĒ before dawn. In this area families were permitted, and it was quite crowded. They had tents set up where runners could drop off any ďluggageĒ - meaning the plastic bag they gave us yesterday, with our luggage tag affixed to show our runner number. I had nothing that didnít fit in my pocket, so I didnít have to bother with this or return later to pick the stuff up. Some people had warm outer clothes that they removed & put in the bag so theyíd have the item after the race.

Next we were let into another holding area, but this time it was runners only. Security guards were stationed to see each runnerís number - I had to unzip my jacket since only the marathon logo was visible and he needed to see the number itself. This was another huge area, lined on 3 sides by port-o-lets. Iíve never seen so many in my life! They got used pretty heavily, too. We stayed in this area for at least another 30 minutes to an hour, and then were let out to begin the very long walk to the corrals. I thought about some of the people I work with, and what distances they consider too far to walk. They could never do the half marathon because they wouldnít make it to the start corrals! Finally, we arrived to more port-o-lets and the corrals. The full marathon runners had split from us at this point and would be taking a different course for the first 3.6 miles. I was in corral L, which was about halfway back on the half marathon side. We had about an hour to wait here, so I sent an email to SB and then just sat on the ground & tried to stay warm. The throwaway jacket did come in handy, but I never threw it away - it will be a souvenir of my very short stint as an athlete.

They had the ladiesí bronze medalist in marathon from the Athens Olympics talking to the crowd, along with a couple of other people who were unknown to me. It did help pass the time, though. As the start time got closer people began peeling off their outer layer of clothes and passing them over the side of the corral, where they were picked up by people carrying large plastic bags. Iím not sure if that stuff went to a location where you could reclaim your clothing, but I think it did. We were told that any clothing discarded on the course would be donated to charity - and there was a lot of that today!

At 5:55 the wheelchair runners started. They counted us down and set off some fireworks at 6:00 to signal the start for the rest of us. With so many people, I didnít even move for a while, and then it was a slow walk for more time. Eventually it had thinned out enough for running, and I was running by the time I passed under the start line. While waiting in the corral I was disappointed to hear that our time in Epcot was at the 3 mile mark. I thought it was sooner than that. Magic Kingdom would be at the 10 mile mark, which for me would be close to the end.

When I start to run the first half mile is the absolute worst, but when I was training it got easier somewhere after that. Unfortunately, I had not trained at all for the last 3 months, and thatís not a very smart way to do a half marathon. I lost most of the endurance Iíd built up before my injury. One of the first things I noticed on the course was all the men leaving the road to go stand facing the trees to urinate! That made it easier on the women who had to wait for port-o-lets along the course, but it was surprising to see grown men peeing in public, and even more surprising seeing so many of them doing it (only noticed 1 woman, but most of the time I was watching the road so I wouldnít trip). Iíd heard at the bus stop that this is common practice at marathons, and Disney actually has far more port-o-lets than most marathons.

I started the race running, and probably did close to 2 miles before mixing in some walking. I knew I wouldnít make it to and through Epcot running and I really wanted to be able to run once I got in the park. The course took us backstage behind the Living Seas, the Land, and eventually into World Showcase near United Kingdom. They had all the countries lit up like during Illuminations, and had music playing for us. It was really pretty, and definitely a very cool experience to be a part of! We exited near Germany, and ran backstage on the other side before heading on the very long trip to Epcot. We had been joined by the full marathon runners by now, and I was surprised there were quite a few at my slow pace. My goal today was to simply finish with the 3.5 hours youíre supposed to achieve to get a medal. During that first half mile I entertained thoughts of getting on the van and just quitting, but in the end I was glad I stuck with it. I never actually enjoyed it, but at least I can say I accomplished it.

Once we got to Magic Kingdom they brought us backstage, then we entered onto Main Street near Tonyís. We ran up Main Street (I ran a little, walked a lot at that point), with cheering crowds lining the street. We ran into Tomorrowland, then to Fantasyland and through the castle. I made sure I could run through the castle, then it was off into Liberty Square, through Frontierland, and then backstage again past the parade floats and eventually out of the MK. We eventually passed the Grand Floridian, Shades of Green, and at some point came back to the Ticket & Transportation Center. All along the route they had each mile marked, and the time since the start of the race was displayed. I wasnít clear whether a sign saying mile 9 meant Iíd just finished mile 9 or was just starting mile 9, so I wasnít sure how I was doing on my time. I was afraid it meant I was just starting that mile, and that was going to put me over the time limit.

Along the route they also had water stations every mile. These were especially important on a warm day like today, but they were a real hazard for slowpokes like me who get there after thousands of others have gone through. Water spills or gets dumped out by runners, and they toss the cups on the ground. So, youíve got wet pavement almost covered by wet flattened paper cups. I never saw anyone fall, so like the peeing in public I assume this is just a normal part of a marathon and runners know to expect it. Some of the other runners dressed up a bit - we had a man/woman Mickey/Minnie couple, several Minnies, a Tinkerbell (with wings on her back), and a duck (with feathered wings on each arm). I think I spotted Elvis at one point, too - except he was much taller than he used to be. Many people had put the name or photo of the person or people they were running in memory of, and it was sad to see some of them were just children when they died of cancer.

Finally I heard one of the volunteers on the course say we just had a quarter mile to go, and that was the best news Iíd heard all day! I started running, but it was too soon and I ended up having to switch to walking with the finish line in sight! That was frustrating, but I did run across the finish line - with a time of 3 hours, 15 minutes and some seconds if I remember correctly. Volunteers handed out aluminum foil blankets, and another cut the chip off my sneaker. I continued up ahead and another volunteer placed my medal over my head, then I stood in line for a photo (not sure where that can be found), then got another banana and bottle of water. I was expecting the buses would take us back to the resorts, but instead all the buses took us back to Epcot where we started. From there we could catch our resort buses.

The line for the buses was long, but eventually it started moving quickly. The bus I got on seemed rather warm at first, which troubled me. A lady sat next to me and we started talking, but then I started feeling very bad. I felt like I was going to throw up, I was dizzy, tired, sweating, and it all came on so suddenly. There was a plastic trash bag tied to the seat in front of her, so I untied it and apologized in advance for being gross but I might need to use it if I get sick. She said no problem - sheís a nurse and sheíll take care of me! She figured my electrolytes were out of whack since I drank only water on the course, so she had me drink some of her PowerAde. I closed my eyes and tried to not be sick - at that point I was planning to extend my OKW studio through tonight and spend the rest of the day in bed - postponing the business trip until tomorrow. However, the bus got cooler and I felt better quickly. By the time we got to Epcot I was feeling 100%, except for my hobbling legs. I thanked her, and headed over to the OKW bus.

Once I got back to the studio I took another shower and was out of there right at 11. I drove to the Marketplace and went to Earl of Sandwich, where I ordered the Caprese. I took it outside since the inside was a little too chilly for me, and it was such a nice day outside. I could only eat half today, and even that was a little bit of a struggle. So much for a half marathon working up an appetite. I did eat a little on the course though. I took the other half with me for dinner tonight, since I know I wonít feel like going out anywhere. SB called as I was on my way to the car, so I turned on the air conditioning and sat there talking to him for a while. Heíd been unable to track me from the website, and never got any of the emails I set up for him to get. He tried my name, my number, but nothing worked - guess they donít have all the kinks worked out just yet, which is disappointing. Heíd been looking forward to following my progress, and he was very excited for me that I finished!

The rest of the day was spent driving 3.5 hours to the Miami area, getting settled in to my hotel for the next 5 nights, and chatting with friends who called to see how it went this morning. I think Iíll probably sleep very soundly tonight!

I did check my results on the marathon website, and was pleasantly surprised. My official time (from start of race, even though I was standing still or walking) was 3 hours, 15 minutes, 14 seconds. My net time (starting line to finish line) was 3 hours, 10 minutes, 38 seconds. I was desperate to average a 16-minute mile, but averaged 14:54 minute miles instead! I finished in 6841st place, out of the 8667 that finished. Iím not sure what happened to the other people, as either 12,000 or 18,000 were signed up. I know some were no-shows (like the people I signed up with), but thatís an awful big difference! Oh well - Iím happy with my results and can ďretireĒ from my brief marathon career with pride. I would have had better time if Iíd been able to keep training, but itís certainly not worth trying again!

The strangers lining the route were really terrific, shouting encouragement, clapping & cheering us on. Some read our names on our number and shouted a personalized message, which was really nice since I didnít have anybody there who knew me. I do appreciate all the good wishes and support over the internet - thank you all.

Next up is 5 days of work, and then I head back to Old Key West for a short vacation!

DAY 3 - FRIDAY JAN 14, 2005:
Plan: Drive to WDW, Comedy Warehouse?
Actual: I left work at 2:30 to begin the 3-hour drive, and arrived at Old Key West over 4.5 hours later! Between the rain, the traffic, and a few bad choices on my part - the trip was hell. I love being up here, but itís becoming not worth the misery of getting here. Not coming back here until July doesnít seem too bad after all! I figured at least check-in would go smoothly, but the line was almost out the door! I talked to Leesa on the phone while waiting to check in, and was in a much better mood by the time it was my turn at the counter. One really nice thing - the lady ahead of me heard me on the phone saying I might not make it in time to meet Leesa for the first show, so she offered to let me go ahead when it was her turn. I thanked her, but told her to go ahead.

My luck started to turn during the check-in process. My studio is in building 46, which is one of the 2 along the canal. Iíve been in 45 several times but never 46, so this was good news. I drove over and moved my stuff in - everything appears ok, and I think in daylight Iíll have a wonderful water view! Iíll have to pretend to be Darla and spend some time on that porch this weekend.

I quickly unpacked, toasted a bagel for dinner, checked email real quick and then drove over to Downtown Disney to meet Leesa outside Comedy Warehouse. Iíd hoped to be here early enough for tortilla soup at Puckís Express, but the bagel would have to do! At Downtown Disney it was busier than I expected, with the parking lots full. I circled a while before finding someone leaving, and was able to park at last. I got my wristband at 8-Trax since The Adventurerís Club was closed until 9pm tonight, then met Leesa. David and his lady friend Janet arrived, and it was nice to see them. She seems like a lot of fun, and a good match for him. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight.

The 8:20 cast was Lisa, Krista, Matt, John and Brian - a great cast! John and Brian were funny as astronauts in Fill in the Blank using 2 audience volunteers. The volunteers came up with some good suggestions, too. Next they did Up Your Alley, hosted by John as Witherspoon Smith (Up yours, Witherspoon). The topic was diaper changing, which led to several farts and poop jokes. Krista was Diane, who trains children to potty train themselves and not use diapers. Matt was Johnny Fertile, father of septuplets who changes 7 million diapers a week. Lisa was Nell, an elderly lady who changes her own diapers. They all were very funny, and it was a good show overall. On the way out we talked to some of the cast, and then had a brief wait out in the cold. I came unprepared for cold evenings, unfortunately.

The 9:30 cast was Krista, Matt, Lisa, Luerne and John. They opened with the name rhyming game, which Lisa won. Krista and John did a good job telling a story called Purple Hamburger. They were a couple and he had spent the insurance money from her accident to buy a fast food place where the food is dyed different colors. It failed, so now they were broke again. Next Matt came out and created a song about Boxing Day - when you put your children in boxes and spouses fight by boxing. They also did Cliché, which I always enjoy. Luerne was tortured until she figured out she was in a haunted house and the saying was ďPeople in glass houses donít need to answer the door.Ē The clues were clever, and she figured out quite a few words pretty quickly. It was fun to watch, as always.

I left after this show, and headed back to OKW to finish up the report and spend some time online with SB before going to sleep. The thought of spending a half-hour waiting outside in the cold for the next show had no appeal at all. Leesa had her winter jacket on, so she was set - Iíll meet her again tomorrow night for the first couple of shows (Pete and Judy should be there too).

Overall this wasnít the best of days, due solely to the crummy drive to get here. In trying to avoid driving 2.5 hours from a business trip to home, only to turn around the next morning and drive 3 hours up here, I ended up with a horrible 4.5 hour drive that should have only taken 3 hours! I would have been better off going home and coming up early tomorrow, in terms of stress & aggravation - but I would have missed a night at Comedy Warehouse. Iíll probably cancel my Friday night for the 4th of July weekend trip, as itís just not worth the aggravation driving up here in the late afternoon and early evening hours. Once I got here things were great. I love my studio location at OKW, and enjoyed my evening at Comedy Warehouse with Leesa.

DAY 4 SATURDAY JAN 15, 2005:
Plan: Animal Kingdom, Puckís Lunch, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: This morning ended up being a day when Animal Kingdom opens an hour early for resort guests, so I quickly decided against going there. The extra crowds keep me away, and I donít have so much to do in any park that I need to be there at 8 rather than 9! Iíd set the alarm for 6:30, and woke up then - trying to remember where I was, what day it was (did I need to get ready for work or play?) and WHY was I getting up now (where did I need to be, and when). Itís tough getting old. Finally I recognized OKW and remembered itís the weekend (so no work) and SB was going to be calling early (the reason for getting my shower done before he called), so I dragged myself out of bed & into the shower. Breakfast was hot chocolate and a pair of mini sausage/biscuits from the microwave.

I spent some time chatting with friends online, answering e-mails, and was out the door by 8:30 to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom. I must have just missed it, but I didnít really care that I wouldnít arrive at the park by 9. I expected big crowds and figured I wouldnít get to do very much there but soak up some atmosphere. I arrived at the Magic Kingdom after 9, and to my surprise it wasnít very busy at all. I went to Space Mountain first, and after getting a FastPass for 10:10 I walked right on using the stand-by entrance with no wait at all. They had both sides operating, which Iím sure helped. I was given the front seat, and I had a mother and daughter behind me who made it fun with their screams and ďoh my godĒ repeatedly. Some people are obnoxious screamers, but these were fun screamers - there IS a difference! From there I decided to skip The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, as itís not worth a 15 minute wait to me. Dumbo is closed for rehab, and overall Fantasyland was not as busy as I expected. I rode Peter Panís Flight after a very short wait, and was surprised when the family in the 2 vehicles in front of me just sat there to ride a 2nd time even though there was a line of people waiting and they had not asked a cast member! That was the first time Iíd seen that happen. Also, in Peter Pan if you have to blow your nose your Kleenex will glow in the dark, which is pretty cool. I guess Iím pretty easily amused these days. I headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, figuring Iíd hit The Haunted Mansion on the way back but I ended up forgetting all about it later.

Big Thunder was a walk-on! I couldnít believe it - I enjoyed the ride and would have done it again except the line was pretty long 2 minutes later. Instead, I went and rode Pirates of the Caribbean and tried to ignore the girl behind me who felt the need to take a flash picture every 15 seconds. At this point it was after 10:10 so I walked back to Tomorrowland to use my FastPass but found Space Mountain was closed due to technical problems. So, I stood in line to ride the People Mover (Tomorrowland Transit Authority - TTA) instead. The lights were on inside Space Mountain, and itís always pretty cool to see the track. I decided to ride a second time, but since it was so busy I had to get off and re-enter the line to get back on. This time Space Mountain was dark and I could see they were sending empty rockets through. By the time I got off the TTA, Space Mountain was open again. I used my FastPass for one last ride, and then headed out of the park. By now it was around 11:30 and getting way too busy for me. It was really nice having the park almost to myself earlier this morning, and was a strange feeling being back here when just 6 days ago I was running/speed walking through here as part of the half marathon, I told SB later. I felt so much better today. However, the half marathon will continue to be a very special experience/memory.

I got to the bus stop just after the Old Key West bus pulled away so I went back and sat on a bench since I knew itíd be at least 15 minutes or so for another bus. Just before noon SB called so I talked to him while waiting for the bus. I was back in the studio not too long after noon, and caught up reading email then grabbed my laundry and drove over to the SouthPoint pool to put it in a washing machine. Both were being used there, however - so I drove to Turtle Pond and started my laundry there.

I drove over to Premium Outlets for a quick shopping trip, knowing I was only going to visit 2 stores. One of course was Character Premier, which had nothing I wanted today. I was hoping to find the leftover marathon merchandise, but there was no sign of it. The other store was Le Gourmet Chef, where I bought a small fondue set, chocolate raspberry pretzel dipping sauce, chocolate mint fondue sauce, and some dipping pretzels. SB and I will enjoy this stuff in March, and I wouldnít be back here before then to pick it up. He loves chocolate, so weíll have fun with these purchases! I drove back to OKW and transferred my laundry from the washer to a dryer. SB called as I was driving back to the studio, so I updated him on my fondue purchases and told him about the 17.5 ounce chocolate bar Leesa had given me last night. Once inside I answered some mail, and then went back to Turtle Pond to get my laundry before driving up to the Hospitality House. I took a look at the new slide at the main pool, and have to say Iím seriously unimpressed. At the bottom of the slide they have little mouse ears on top of the slide opening, like a hidden Mickey. Thatís about the only nice thing I noticed. To me itís a big ugly brown blob erected on the side of the pool, but I imagine people who like water slides will enjoy it.

I went into Oliviaís Café and was able to be seated immediately for lunch. Friends of mine had a bad experience here recently, but everything was great today. I ordered a German Riesling wine and the fresh mozzarella salad. The salad comes with field greens and some sweetened pecans that really set it apart from salads other places. Service was great; food and wine were great; it was a wonderful lunch. Afterwards I browsed in the shop a bit, and then drove back to the studio to upload last nightís pictures and update the report. I relaxed in the studio for a while, and after talking to SB again left about 5 to drive over to Animal Kingdom. I wasnít planning to do very much, and I was hoping the park would be thinning out getting ready to close at 7 tonight.

It wasnít actually raining, but it was misting steadily. I thought about just returning to the studio, but ended up continuing on. Parking and entry was a breeze at Animal Kingdom, and I headed to DinoLand once I got inside. Primeval Whirl had a standby time of 5 minutes posted, so I joined the line. After not moving at all for 2-3 minutes I looked up ahead and knew the line was more like 20 minutes long. Thereís no way that ride is worth that much of my time, so I got out of line and went to Dinosaur instead. Even this was busy, but the 10 minute stand-by time was more realistic. The ride was fun, but when it was over I decided to return to Old Key West. It was too cold and windy to be comfortable outside, especially with that steady mist.

I was back in the studio by 6:10, and made some cappuccino while updating the report. Around 6:45 I drove over to Downtown Disney and wandered around the Marketplace for a while. I needed to get some body butter from Basin since what I had left wouldnít last for 6 months. I took care of that, got the chocolate sample at Ghiradelli and killed some time in World of Disney and Team Mickey.

After dropping the body butter off in the car, I went into Pleasure Island and got my wrist band. I sat upstairs along the railing and soon saw Leesa and Rande arrive downstairs. There wasnít much time left and I didnít feel like moving, so I stayed put until they headed to the elevator and I met them when they got upstairs. We headed over to Comedy Warehouse to wait for the first show there. I found Pete and Judy in the line, and talked to them for a while. I also met Judyís friend Bonnie who is traveling with them. Tonight Jamie was on the keys.

The 8:20 cast was Luerne, John, Philip, Brian and Matt. John and Brian did 'Fill in the Blank' using the entire audience for suggestions. Their scene took place in Publix, where Brian was an obnoxious customer insisting stock-boy John be overly nice to him. Next Matt created a song about a girl in the audience who complained that nobody celebrated her birthday. The song made fun of the girl, saying sheís pushy and not liked - ouch! Of course, it might be true. They did Career Day, which is a structure I hadnít seen before. The actors line up on stage (1 of them leads the action) and the audience suggests a career. Each actor then presents the worst possible example of that job, until they ask for a new career. Tonight they did babysitter, UPS man, Universal employee, and home builder. I really liked this one - it moves quickly and can be quite crazy. When Brian was doing an example of a bad Universal employee, he said ďYou wanna see King Kong?? Hereís my card.Ē Overall it was a very good show, and I was glad to see Career Day.

The 9:30 cast was Luerne, John, Brian, Matt and Lisa. John led the audience in writing a 1-act play with Matt and Lisa in a nail salon. He was a former ballerina who left his country and married gay Brian in order to get a green card and work as a nail tech in America. Lisa was his customer who wanted to help him, so she gave him sexual favors. Brian divorced Matt, so he and Lisa decided to get married, knowing that since this is America in a couple of years when they donít get along theyíll just marry someone else.

Next was Madrigal, but tonight it just didnít work as well as it usually does. I think there were too many names in the titles and not enough other words to work with. The 4 tabloid headlines were ďGeorge Bush has an affair with Oprah WinfreyĒ, ďBill Clinton has sex with an alienĒ, ďBritney Spear sings live at the MetĒ, and ďDr Phil turns gayĒ. They also did Letters to the Editor, about dentist Barbie. This ended up being very funny! Brian was Ken, writing to Menís Health and getting rather raunchy talking about his oral fixation and putting his Barbie doll into his mouth, then frolicking nude with Barbie, Midge and Skipper. John was a stereotypical uneducated Florida redneck with 2 teeth left writing to the Orlando Sentinel. He took the little teeth from dentist Barbie and had them put in his own mouth even though they were much tinier than his 2 teeth. Luerne wrote to National Geographic about the many different Barbies from the 1990ís she found buried in her backyard. It was another good show!

It was still misting outside, and I wasnít sticking around 20-30 minutes for the next show. I said goodnight to Leesa and Rande, then drove back to Old Key West. I just missed SB, but I knew heíd be back before I went to bed. I had a toasted bagel with cream cheese and finished up the report, then talked to SB online for a while.

Except for the weather, today was a great day. I feel like I did quite a bit, yet didnít feel rushed at all. Tomorrow itís supposed to be rainy again, at least the first half of the day. So, Iíll skip the alarm clock and just get myself over to Epcot in time to meet Pete, Judy and Bonnie at Le Cellier at noon.

DAY 5 SUNDAY JAN 16, 2005:
Plan: Le Cellier Lunch, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: Without the alarm to wake me, I slept until 5:30 - ugh! I did go back to sleep though, and didnít wake up again until almost 9. I knew I was tired, and it was good to have the chance to get some extra sleep finally. When I got out of the shower SB had just gotten online, so we chatted a bit until he headed for his shower. I had cappuccino and the mini sausage biscuits for breakfast and took my time getting ready. Itís a cold, damp, dreary day here today. Unfortunately my warmest clothes are really made for warmer temps than Iíll see this trip, so Iím not in any hurry to get outside and be cold. I left the studio around 10:30 and drove to Saratoga Springs to see if they had any yogurt parfaits left at Artistís Palate.

Unfortunately, there were no parfaits left and it was busy enough that I wasnít about to ask if there were any more out back. They might have been willing to make me one, but I didnít have the patience to wait. So, I drove back to Old Key West and saw the Epcot bus at the Peninsula stop. I parked at my building and rushed over to my bus stop, getting there in time to catch that Epcot bus. Entry into Epcot was a pain, with long lines at all the turnstiles. It was after 11am, and I hadnít expected so many people would be arriving at that time. Once I got inside I wandered around Innoventions West for a while. I sent a postcard to SB, watched a virtual reality game being played by a kid, and looked at the different exhibits - it was pretty much all new to me. It was also a nice warm place to kill some time! When I left there I thought about doing the Journey into Imagination ride but wasnít sure I really had enough time, so I walked over to Canada instead. I went into the shops to stay warm and SB called while I was in there so I stepped outside to talk with him. When we finished our conversation I went down to Le Cellier and had about a 5-minute wait for the others.

Pete, Judy and Bonnie arrived and we were seated right away. It was Bonnieís first time at Le Cellier, and everything was excellent. Judy and I each had a glass of the Riesling, and we all had the cheese soup. Bonnie enjoyed the chicken Caesar salad while Pete and Judy shared the field greens salad with beef tenderloin on top. We all shared a chocolate moose for dessert, and walked out of there pretty well stuffed. It was a great meal, and we had a very nice time.

After lunch we decided to walk around World Showcase, so we headed in the direction of the United Kingdom. We browsed in several of the shops along the way (warmth was a big draw today), I had my picture taken with the Beast in France and we stopped in America to listen to the end of the Voices of Liberty. In Norway we rode Maelstrom, then in Mexico did the boat ride (El Rio del Tiempo). We could hear bagpipes when we got back outside, and since Bonnie plays them we went over and watched a group celebrating Scotlandís heritage. They had several bagpipers, some drummers, and some dancers. We continued walking around, exiting through International Gateway and walking back to the BoardWalk where they had valet parked their car. Once we got the car they dropped me off at my building in OKW - thanks! Bonnieís going home tomorrow morning, so Pete, Judy and I will hang out together tomorrow afternoon. This will work pretty well for me - I can stay a little later at Comedy Warehouse tonight, sleep in tomorrow when itís coldest, and go out for the afternoon instead.

Back in the studio I updated the report and relaxed a while. The sun had finally come out and although it was still very cool it felt a lot better than it did this morning! Around 4:45 I decided to take a walk up to the main pool and climb up to the top of the pool slide. Pete and Judy had said the view was great from up there, and you could climb back down without using the slide. But when I got there it was blocked off. There wasnít anything else to do so I walked back to my studio, and found SB online when I got inside. Iíd sent him a few photos, including our chocolate moose dessert, so he figured I was out walking off my dessert. We spent some time online together, and talked about possibly both training to do the half marathon together next year. Whether heís running also or just here to cheer me on, I know I donít want to do it again if Iíll be here by myself.

Time flew by, and around 7 I drove over to Downtown Disney. I browsed through some of the shops in the Marketplace Iíd skipped the night before, and then returned to Pleasure Island and the Adventurerís Club. I saw Robby was playing Hathaway Browne tonight, and that David and his girlfriend Janet were there, so I went downstairs to talk to the three of them for a while. Unfortunately Robby wouldnít be working at Comedy Warehouse tonight since he was here, but it was nice talking to him. I met up with Leesa and we headed over to Comedy Warehouse, where we were joined by Bob & Virginia, David & Janet, and then Jim D (excellent former CW full-time cast member from years ago) and his wife showed up. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight.

The 8:20 cast was Mary, John, Christine, Jake and Brian. Brian led the group in creating a 1-Act Play. Jake and Christine starred in a murder mystery called 'Who done it?' It was about a murdered cow, and Mary came in as an alien named Elvisetta, followed by John as Elvis. He was thin from eating ice cream all the time (oh, donít we all wish that was true) and they discovered the cow wasnít really dead but had been stabbed because its milk wasnít cold enough to make ice cream. Next they did Madrigal, led by Christine. The 4 tabloid headlines were ďBatboy dates Britney SpearsĒ, ďClinton & J Lo caughtĒ, ďPresident Bush and Vice President Cheney are having an affairĒ, and ďBoy George changes lanes.Ē It was a better madrigal than last night, but still not as good as they usually are. Maybe Iím growing weary of always hearing the same headlines - Britney Spears, Clinton, Bush, J Lo - I can only imagine how tired the actors get of the same suggestions over and over. They also did Scene Freeze, with Brian having clown, Mary having water, John having sausage and Christine having money. This was pretty good - overall it was a good show. After the show Mary congratulated me on finishing the half marathon last weekend. I havenít told her (until right now) that Iím thinking of doing it again, but running instead of walking. Weíll see what I decide to do.

The 9:30 cast was Christine, Philip, John, Jake and Brian. They did Emotions, with John and Philip as formerly conjoined twins in a scene that ended with John having an orgasm from looking at a photo of his brother (welcome to Disney). It was a funny scene, and fast-paced to keep things interesting and entertaining. They did Up Your Alley with an audience volunteer who claimed to be an expert on hockey. Jake was the host Mikey Mike Mike. Christine was Punky, a lady who loves hockey and plays on an all womanís team called the Pink Polka Dots. Brian stole the scene as Helen Sphincter, a very anal Christian woman who hates hockey and is trying to rid the USA of that Canadian invasion. Her group is called ďGet the puck out of here.Ē He had lots of anti-Canadian, anti-French, and even anti-gay jokes, but it was hysterical. This was a very good show! After the show Dee the waitress wanted to stroke me (I was wearing a suede jacket), but since sheíd been handling the greasy pretzels she let me off the hook - whew! I could just picture the conversation with SB later when he asked about my evening.

Leesa and I ran over to 8 Trax for a few minutes to escape the cold before the next show, and then returned to Comedy Warehouse. The 10:30 cast was Mary, Joy, Philip, Christine and Jake. They opened with a poem called Time is Money. Next was Letters to the Editor, writing about ink pens. Christine wrote to Playboy with her idea of a pen where the girlís clothes would fall off when the pen was turned upside down. Joy wrote to Easy Rider, and Philip was the highlight of this scene as an architect (writing to Architectural Digest) completely stressed out because all of his co-workers draw in ink and he needs to use pencil to erase his mistakes.

Cliché was next, with Jake being tortured in an Eckerdís pharmacy until he guessed the phrase ďA blind chicken gets a colonel once in a while.Ē For the initial clue Philip came in dressed as Colonel Sanders on crutches. Later he came in as the pregnant mother of God, saying Joseph made her get off the ass and come inside despite her condition - he kept yelling back outside to Joseph like a typical arguing couple, which was pretty funny. The clues were all good, and Jake had a tough time for a while, but eventually put the pieces together and figured out the cliché. Leesa and I both left after this show, which was early for her and late for me.

I drove back to the studio and found SB waiting up for me. I wasnít sure if he remembered I was staying for an extra show tonight, but he was there. While we were chatting online I wondered why it felt so cold in the room. Finally I got up and checked, and found the heat was not turned on, and the room temperature was in the mid 60ís (I set my air conditioning at 80, so Iím used to being much warmer than this). I turned it on, then went back to chatting with SB until about 2 a.m., and then finished up the report.

Today was a very nice day - except for the cold weather again. Even if I had brought my gloves and warm jacket, Iíd still prefer it be warmer. However, at least the damn rain has ended and the afternoon was very nice. I enjoyed spending part of the day with Pete and Judy, and liked their friend Bonnie too. Tomorrow will be another laid-back day. Since itíll be in the 40ís in the morning, Iíll skip park touring and stay under the covers in bed! Iíll meet up with Pete and Judy for the afternoon, when things are a bit warmer. Tomorrow will also be my last night at Comedy Warehouse - possibly for 6 months. That thought is starting to bother me, so I might end up booking a Sat/Sun night if thereís some week I can take the first half of the day off on Monday - 6 months is just way too long for me to go between visits. Hmm, why do I have this image of Leesa (and others) saying ďI knew it - I told her so!Ē?

DAY 6 MONDAY JAN 17, 2005:
Plan: Magic Kingdom, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: Once again I skipped the alarm clock, and after getting to bed at close to 3 a.m. I woke up at 7:30 (not counting the brief wake-up at 4 when I thought Iíd left something plugged in and had burnt part of the studio down). I expected temperatures in the 40ís when I woke up, but the local station said it was 37 degrees and 26 with the wind chill! Iím definitely not going anywhere for quite a while! Iíve been wearing the long-sleeve marathon shirt they gave us every day, either under over or in between layers since itís the only long-sleeve shirt I have with me. Thatís not enough for temps feeling like theyíre in the 20ís, though.

I made the bed, and then took my shower while some photos were uploading. I also got my stuff packed up, then had some hot chocolate and sausage biscuits for breakfast in the studio. Today I wore the same 2 shirts under a different sweatshirt, and would add a jacket tonight. I feel like one of those little kids whose mother gets her dressed to play in the snow with so many clothes she canít move. I hung out in the studio working on an article for MousePlanet, and around noon fixed a toasted bagel & cream cheese. SB was online so we chatted for a while, and then Pete called. We agreed theyíd pick me up in about 15 minutes, and weíd head to the outlets and then to Downtown Disney to wander around.

We shopped in the Disney and Universal stores, then left the outlets and returned to OKW. It had turned into a nice day, so we decided to walk to Downtown Disney. We stopped at their studio, then I went ahead to my own to drop off my backpack and get a bottle of water. They met me outside my studio and we walked over to pick up the trail near the SouthPoint pool.

It was a perfect day for a walk, and we enjoyed chatting as we walked along the golf course, past the treehouses, through Saratoga Springs, and finally into the Marketplace. I had done my shopping already, but Pete and I followed Judy around while she picked up the items on her list of stuff to buy. By 3 we were done, and decided to ride the bus back to the resort instead of walking again. First we stopped to pick up dinner - I got a German chocolate cookie next to Earl of Sandwich, and they got a sandwich to share later. I also went over to Puck Express and got the tortilla soup to go since I didnít feel like coming back here later. Once that was done we met up and went to the bus stop, where the OKW bus arrived in a few minutes. This bus was brand new (the seats smelled), and all seats were sideways along the length of the bus. There were no forward-facing seats at all, even in the back. I assume they fit more people standing than sitting, so this bus would hold more passengers.

Back at OKW we headed to our own studios. I caught the rest of General Hospital and spent some time online. The soup was excellent, and was still warm when I got there. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Oprah, playing on the computer, listening to the weather people talking about freeze warnings for tonight (oh joy) and talking to SB. He asked how many shows I was seeing tonight, (heís become a Comedy Warehouse pro - knows the routine) I said possibly 3, but asked if heíd be waiting up for me. I knew he would, but wanted to give him the chance to let me know if midnight was getting too late (if so, I would come back sooner). In any event, heíll be waiting until whenever I get in. Itís important to both of us that we end each night together this way when weíre apart.

I made some cappuccino - wasnít hungry but the thought of something warm sounded really good. Iíd eaten half of the German chocolate cookie after I had my soup earlier, and that was quite filling. Most likely Iíll finish it up later tonight - nothing like a pound of sugar before going to bed! I brought my suitcase out to the car and brought in an outfit for work tomorrow. Unfortunately the warmest outfit I have is a pair of slacks, open toe sandals and a light cotton blouse. Iíll never again be gone 10 days without a variety of clothes to fit all weather possibilities!

SB called as I was getting ready to leave for the evening- his work thing tonight fell through, so we talked on the phone until I got inside Pleasure Island. I headed to The Adventurerís Club to get my wristband and was sitting there when Shontell Crawford spotted me and came over to say hi. I hadnít seen her in quite a while, so this was a nice surprise! We were able to get caught up before she went to meet her friends and I joined Pete & Judy, who had arrived while we were talking. Soon it was time to go over to the Comedy Warehouse. I let the people there know weíd be seeing the first 2 shows, then joined Pete & Judy along with David & Janet to wait for the show. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight. The 8:20 cast was Christine, Mary, Joy, Steve and Brian. Steve rang the bell in Should Have Said, where Brian was doing laundry and Mary was his alcoholic wife. The scene was dysfunctional but funny, although the audience was somewhat slow to react. Next Mary created a poem called Strawberry Ice Cream. Up Your Alley was next, hosted by Joy as Dixie B Cup. The topic was scooters, and Brian stood out as a kid named Scooter. He does a great fidgety little kid, and thatís what he did tonight. Steve was also good as Ben Zadrine, a messenger on speed. Christine was an old lady named Mazy Methadopolin, who formed Octogenarians Against Scooters. Overall the show was just ok - although it was nice seeing Steve back for the night.

After the show I talked to Steve a bit, then Mary before returning outside briefly to wait with the others. A large group wanted a photo with the cast, so I used several of their cameras to take pictures for them.

The 9:30 cast was Mary, Brian, Philip, Joy and Christine. They opened with a poem called Buying a Mattress. This is Your Life was next, with Christine doing the interview. They got a guy who was dating his ex-girlfriendís sister. They acted out his first kiss behind the shed at age 13, a bad day at his job at MGM as a college program intern, the moment he switched from one sister to the other, and then looked ahead to his future family life where he falls for the 3rd sister (played by Philip). It was very funny, and well done. Iím glad Iím not the guyís girlfriend though, as he said a few things I thought were pretty obnoxious.

Next Philip sang a polka about a German wet t-shirt contest, where weíd see whose boobies are the best. He did a great job with it, as expected. Scene Freeze was led by Joy. Mary had palm pilot, Christine had Mona Lisa, Brian had farmer and Philip had plethora. I thought this show was much better than the first one - and the audience was better too. I said goodbye to Pete and Judy, but will see them in November hopefully. I stopped to talk with Joy on the way out, and then Shontell stopped by to introduce me to Linda from the DVC-Talk list and her friend Sandy. It was nice meeting them - Iíd talked to Linda online before but we hadnít ever met. Mary walked me out and we chatted a bit outside before I drove back to Old Key West one last time.

It felt good to get back into the nice warm studio! I uploaded tonightís photos, and finished up the report. SB came back online and we spent our time together before I turned in for the night. Today was a really nice day - relaxing, but the company was very enjoyable and everything went really well. It was nice seeing/meeting some people I didnít expect to see, too. In the morning Iíll get to Earl of Sandwich at 9 when they open, have a caprese sandwich and hopefully be on the road to work by 9:30. Iíll most likely add a Sat/Sun night quick trip in late February (solo) or possibly very early March (if SB wants to do it). After that Iíve got a trip to Hilton Head on my way home from visiting SB in New Hampshire in April, a weekend at Vero in May, but no more WDW until 4th of July weekend. Iíve got so many other business trips and trips to see SB I donít think Iíll have time to really miss WDW during those months - at least thatís what Iím hoping!

The photos from this trip can be found at <http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=34p4jkm.300oqk4b&x=1&y=ihe903> . There are a couple from OKW, a couple from the marathon, some friends, and then several from Comedy Warehouse these past 4 nights.

Sue Holland
WDW1972@aol.com

 


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