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Disney Magic.............Yet Again and Again and Again......

#1 User is offline   Hşoşwie 

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 10:03 AM

Disney Magic.............Yet Again and Again and Again..............................

Cast-

Sarah - 14 year old pirate princess
Susan - 51 year old total disney lover at last
HÂşoÂşwie - 54 year old pixie-dusted king of wdw

Venue -

Grand Floridian Deluxe Concierge Room 4422 Main Building

Preface

This trip was to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, well, not exactly, we were planning to go anyway and our anniversary just happened to be at the same time ;-). In any case, this was another extra magical trip to the Happiest Place On Earth. It is just amazing how much magic Disney can create, and if you know how to make some yourself as we do, that even enhances everything exponentially. This trip also incorporated a couple of mini-meets with some long time online and offline Disney friends. Now, you will not find any complaints about anything in this report, not that I didn’t see that one overflowing garbage can while there for example, but I am not interested in the negativity as some others are who only complain about things. So if you are looking for negativity and criticism about money, cleanliness, this or that, I will gladly tell you where online to look, but it wont be in this report so get ready for some magical memories. One last thing about this trip - we really took it easy, and I mean really easy 'for us' and I only made a total of 6 dining reservations, unlike the usual 2-3 a day of mostly character meals, since we were staying in the GF Concierge and decided to, like I said, take it real easy this trip.


Day 1 - August 19 - Departure Day

Once again it would be the Auto Train for us, which isn't so bad if it is the only way you can go besides driving the entire distance, which I would gladly do as well if that was the one and only way to go. We planned for a Saturday departure in order to avoid any traffic heading south. Most everything was already packed again days before, so a 4:15 AM wake up was set, but as usual wasn't needed since we were all up and ready to go before the alarm went off. I wanted to leave at 6 AM for the 4+ hour drive to Lorton, Virginia and that is what we did. Once everyone was ready, I posted my arrivedercis online, shut down all electronics, prepared the back room for any possible leaks and left at 6:05 AM. I know, I know, the train departs at 4 PM so why so early? Well what else is new with me - we are very prompt if nothing else lol. So we head toward the Verrazano Bridge with no traffic. Sarah is in the back watching one of the Harry Potter DVDs on the car's DVD player, Susan naps up front and again we make it to the south of the NJ Turnpike and into Delaware in 2 hours. Then 1 more hour to Baltimore and we are hoping for just 1 more hour to Lorton. But just outside of DC where you pickup I95 again, there was a terrific jam and were held up about 45 minutes to go the last 7 miles. And that is why I go early ;-). Now in Lorton, as we head under the train's overpass on our way to lunch at the Polo Grill in Gunston Plaza we see the auto train just arriving. So it looks like the train is 2 1/2 hours late itself and they wouldn’t let us drive up anyway until they unload. Now on to lunch at the Polo Grill for the usual calamari and oysters and then back to the train.
There are a few cars/vans in front of us and we do our thing and enter the station and check in. We chose the first dinner seating at 5 PM and then head to the back of the station to get 2 of the digEplayers again so we don’t have to hang in the lounge car but stay in our deluxe sleeper and watch all the new movies we like. In the terminal Sarah watches the Pink Panther and Susan and I watch Valiant which we hadn’t seen before. Then at 2:30 they announce that boarding can begin and we head over to our sleeper car. For this trip we took a lot less luggage then on previous trips. We did have about 9 pieces but the carryons were only 2 very light bags to make it easier to carry and stow in the compartment. Once settled in, I go to the lounge car and bring back some snacks and then Susan and I watched Firewall with Harrison Ford and Sarah watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire until dinner.
They announce the first dinner seating and we head over to the dining car and get our table. Susan and Sarah again order the humongous half a roast chicken and I choose the Chicken Marsala special. Then back to the sleeper which we asked to be prepared for us while at dinner. It is only about 6:00 PM but we all change into PJs and relax with our digEplayers and get ready for the night. Sarah was up above watching movies and Susan and I were below watching Pink Panther, Glory Road and 16 Blocks. Then we put on Harry Potter and we both fall asleep although Susan wants to sleep above again so she switches with Sarah and she comes down to me in the lower wider berth. One thing we are sure of and that is in the morning we will be real near the magic of Disney!


Day 2 - August 20 - Arriving and the Magic Begins

All was moving along nicely and we were on time UNTIL just outside of Jacksonville when they made an announcement that there was an uncoupled freight train on the tracks and we would have to wait until they get it together and move it. This delays us about 2 1/2 hours and we arrive in Sanford around 11 AM. I wasn't concerned at all in the time this trip since we didn’t book our traditional Crystal Palace 12:45 PM lunch and we therefore didn’t have to rush to make it there. Luckily my Jeep is in the first group of cars coming off and we are out of the station within 20 minutes. And a Sunday yet, so no traffic on I4 and only 35 minutes to the gates of the Happiest Place on Earth. We drive along the roads of Disney and head to the GF where we inform the security guard that we are checking in. The valet area isn’t too busy and we pull up, unload the car and go to check in. Then waiting for us right in the walkway is one of the CL hostesses and she greets us and takes us right upstairs to the 3rd floor concierge check in area. Both Francine and I had requested a specific room number for us since we wanted the room right next door to 4421, the honeymoon turret we have stayed in twice before. The number of the room was 4422 and 3 days out I made my call even though the internet is ripe with advice that you can’t deal with room assignors anymore, and I speak with a lovely CM who all but assures me without saying the words that we are getting exactly what we want. She was amazed that I knew so much about what I wanted and where and that made her job even easier.
On the 3rd floor we are delivered to Richard, a relatively new but very bubbly and enthusiastic concierge who gives us all our info and tells us that the room isnt ready BUT it is 4422. So we get our precheck in room cards, I already have my APs ready, and we head to the MK after snacking at the CL of course.
Since there is no rush to CP our first stop is the Harmony Barber Shop. But just before going there Sarah tells us to wait and she goes to City Hall and gets Susan and me a Congratulations button and a Magical Wishes button on which after being congratulated on our honeymoon a few times we used a sharpie to write in 20th Anniversary. We both wore the buttons every day and it only enhanced the magic from everyone. Now at the Harmony I wanted to have Michal again and it was looking good but just as my turn was coming up he took his break and I had Heather who did a wonderful job with the purple and pink gel and all the pixie dust and a double header Mickey on the back of my head. We did wait about an hour there so now it was around 2+ PM and of course Sarah had to see the new and improved POTC but only after purchasing a pirate Mickey ears hat in the Plaza Del Sol Caribe Bazaar. The new ride is really cool starting with Davey Jones and seeing Jack in those three scenes. Then as we left we saw they were doping the pirate training. We were in the back so I scouted out the area for the best way for Sarah to get up front the next day when we spend our first full day in the MK. It was now approaching 3 PM and we decided to watch the new parade and we got great spots right in front of the Diamond Horseshoe. As the parade passed us by we scooted out the back door through Adventureland and lo and behold the magic was there because as we walked through all the shops and exited by the Harmony again the parade was just passing around the hub and there was nobody by the rope in front of Harmony so we had even better spots for this second viewing and all the characters waved and pointed to our buttons. Even before the parade the CMs were all congratulating us when we passed. It is a very nice touch that so many really have the magic inside and pick up on the little things, not that 20 years of marriage is little but you know what I mean.
We now head back to the room and it is ready. Upon opening the door we see a bottle of champagne and a rose on the cocktail table and next to it is an autographed pic from Aladdin and Jasmine congratulating us by name. As we unpack I remember to call my friend who was an associate Vet who worked for me and whose girlfriend is a Disney CM and they moved down to Independence which is right behind the MK a few months ago. So I call him to set up a meet and it turns out that he was just parking in the GF self park lot with his girlfriend and they were coming in to leave us a message. So I told him I would come down and bring them up. They stayed for a bit and we showed them the CL and they had a little dinner there. We were saving ourselves since at 6 we had a ressie at Park Fare. Then around 5:45 I tell them that we have to go eat and they say bye and we head down to Park Fare for dinner. Sarah took care of checking in at the podium and then at the table we were surprised with 2 placemats signed by all the characters in attendance. They also gave us these 2 huge cupcakes with candles on them and wished us well. Everyone loved my hairstyle and all the characters had something to say about it one way or another especially Cindy when she took my arm and posed for a special picture with me. After dinner we hit the stores a bit and the CMs called the 2334 number for us and we were congratulated by Mickey and Minnie on our anniversary. The back to the room to unpack and since the MK was open until 1 AM we went back, rode the monorail over to the MK and did POTC once again along with some other attractions and then rode the monorail in the front all the way back around to the GF and rested for the night. Tomorrow is Cindys for brekkie and the MK and Sarah's pirate training.


Day 3 - August 21 – Cindy’s Breakfast, MK & MGM EMH

Ah yes, the famous Mickey wake-up calls begin. Since we were one stop from Cindy’s I made the call for 6:00 AM to give Susan and Sarah some extra sleeping time from the usual 5:15 AM call ;-). The call comes in and we are ready to go. We put the room in order - interesting side note here is that when we ran into the mousekeeper in our room on one of the days she told us that we really are neat and so many people leave such a mess for them - and head to the monorail platform. You all know by now that I wanna be first at Cindy’s but when we arrive at the right side turnstiles there are about 8 people in front of us. Sarah already knows what to do so when she gets her chance to enter through the turnstiles she leaves her AP for me to pick up and heads wide to the left down Main Street not wanting to cut through the few ahead of her and she speed walks down Main Street and makes it to the castle far ahead of everyone else. She checks in at the podium first and tells them about our celebration. So we come next and then a family with a little princess comes up next. The CMs take the family with the little princess in first to meet Cindy which is fine with us and then we go in for our pics. When we get upstairs we have a great window table and there is a new kind of pixie dust spread all over the table. It isn't the usual colored Mickey head dust but all golden and larger and made up of Cindy’s Coach and the Castle. We scooped each one up and saved them all. Breakfast was great as usual and the CM congratulated us in front of everyone. Then we went to the rope drop at the back of the castle and waited for 9 AM. While we waited we saw them filming some sort of commercial right in front of Tink's Treasures with this very cute 5 year old model who kept changing outfits. There was a whole rack of clothes for her to keep changing into. I asked Sarah if she wanted to wake up Tink but she wasn't interested and I told her that I wanted to ride Dumbo first and her trip to Splash would come later. She was a bit upset but understood how much Dumbo means to me so that is where we went. We were first on Dumbo and we both had purple Dumbos, Susan and I in one and Sarah just behind us. After Dumbo we had complete walk-ons to Peter Pan, Snow White and Pooh. Then over to Splash and that was a walk-on as well. Sarah and I rode up front while Susan waited in the shop. We also took fast passes for afterwards for Splash which were for not much later.

Next over to POTC once more for a walk-on and then we went over to where they do pirate training and I planned our strategy. There were about 15 people standing about nowhere in particular. Now, I remembered from last night that Mack the pirate sets his cart up near the wall so I sat on the wall near the end. When Mack came out he came over to me and asked if I was in the show. I told him that I would love to be but he replied that I wasn't what they were looking for. So I slid down the wall and he said to stay and he threw down the thick rope that marks his perimeter and told me to keep my foot on the end for him. That gave me a close-up view of the show and Susan and Sarah stood next to me. The show begins and Mack talks a bit and then Capt Jack comes from across the street. He really looks and moves like the real thing. Capt Jack chooses 4 little kids to be his officers and he and Mack train them in sword fighting. Then he chooses the pirate crew and he is only choosing kids between 5 and 8 years old it seems. So I tell Sarah to raise her hand and wave it wildly. So when Jack comes to our side he looks and looks and decides to take Sarah. She is thrilled. He lines them all up and Sarah is a good foot and a half taller than all the other kids. So Jack takes her out of line and hugs her and says that she will be his private crew. Sarah is beyond beyond lol. Then they all get sworn in and receive their certificates signed by Capt Jack Sparrow. Jack runs off and Mack is left to clean up and he isn't signing or taking pics. So I ask him quietly if we could get a pic with him and he agrees and then whisks the cart away. Needless to say that Sarah was still on cloud nine from her encounter with the Captain.

We now return to Splash with our fast passes and get right in. Sarah goes alone and Susan and I wait in the shop together. Now we walk right in to Haunted Mansion and then over to Mickey's Philharmagic and right in there and finally over to Hall of Presidents for a walk in to the show. It is approaching 1 PM so we take a launch back to the GF for lunch at the Concierge and a well deserved nap ;-). We get up and have dinner at the Concierge and then over to MGM for the EMH there. I decide to drive there and once inside the CM waves us right to the first row behind the handicapped spots so we only had a very short walk. All we really came to do that night was to see Fantasmic since Sarah loves the music and wants to teach it to herself to play on the piano. Since it is still early we head over to the BAH and I purchase the latest AP pin, the puzzle piece and Sarah trades some pins. Then we shop in the stores and look for the picture from the cover of Bob Thomas' book, American Original, where Walt is standing in the doorway and throwing a shadow and the shadow is Mickey. We found it in the back at the Animation Gallery and bought it. Next, over to RnR to get the wristbands and then into Fantasmic. My plan was to sit way in the back since we have seen it so many times since we attended the first AP preview way back when, and when it was over to get out real quickly before the stampede. But when we entered the place was packed up to the back and only the far left side was still open and down at the front was one bench left. I changed my plan and we headed down to the front and sat there right at the rail. We have only sat front and center and in the FDP sections up to now so this perspective was excellent and we were so close to all the boats that went by with the characters. Knowing when the show would end we made a very quick exit up the end aisle and beat the entire crowd out of the theater. And we only missed, well not missed because we saw it over our shoulders, 3 minutes of the show. We got back to my Jeep and headed back to the GF and valeted the car just in time to have the dessert buffet which takes place from 8 - 10 PM each night. Tomorrow is Chef Mickey's at 7 AM and you know I wanna be first and then EMH at Epcot in the morning and a surprise anniversary cake at night for Susan.


Day 4 - August 22 - Chef Mickey's, Epcot, Downtown Disney, & Surprises For All

Okay, now we are back to the old plan with a 5:15 AM wake up call for our 7 AM Chef Mickey's ressie. The original plan was to drive and valet at the Contemporary, leave the car there all day while we take the monorail over to Epcot and then come back to the Contemporary since Susan loves the stores there on the fourth floor. However, plans are made to be changed and that is what happened today or last night. We arrived at Chef Mickey's at 6:30 AM and there was nobody in sight, be it a CM or a guest so I got dirty looks from my two princesses for getting them up so early. Sarah and I stayed at the podium and Susan went to window shop. Little by little the early birds, or so they thought, started lining up behind us. Sarah took care of the notification about our anniversary and we went right over for the picture taking by the big plate. The CM sat us right at the first stop for the characters right backed up against the wall separating Chef Mickey's from the Concourse Steakhouse. The characters were great and we were gifted another pair of placemats from Chef Mickey's and a pair of little cupcakes as well. After breakfast we decided to drive to Epcot and then over to DD and just last night in prep for this I called the Rainforest Cafe at DD and using my Safari Club Card got us a 1:30 PM ressie.

We got to Epcot early enough to park in the very front row and then went to the turnstiles. There was quite a bit of people there already and they had begun to enter the park so I knew that Soarin' would be crowded. Therefore, we went right to Soarin' and grabbed 3 fast passes and went right back over to the east side and walked on Mission Space. Sarah rode alone and Susan and I waited in the exit area for her. Sarah did the intense one of course. Next we went over to Test Track and walked in via the single riders’ line. Sarah went alone and we just went into the 'showroom' and waited there for her. Now, over to Ellen's Energy Adventure where we not only walked right in but I was the only one on the main floor while everyone else had a bench. When they opened the front I got our favorite seats, the front right of the right side car. After this we went over to Soarin' for our fast pass time stopping at the pin station to buy some pins. Our fast pass time was for 10:10 and we walked right in and Sarah and I went on while Susan waited for us outside. Then we wanted to head over to Journey and Sarah pin traded along the way. If you recall, before we left I bought 60 of those under two dollar trading pins on eBay and Sarah wanted to trade them for attraction pins this trip. But she couldn't find many attraction pins on CM lanyards so she changed to looking for and trading for those figment world showcase costume/flag pins from each country. She actually did well and found 5 of them which is good since they were released in September of 2004 I think and many are gone. I told her not to worry since I would find what she couldn't trade for on eBay when we got home which I already did. In fact I got her the full mint set of 11 when we got home ;-) .

Journey had a five minute wait and while online I heard someone next to me ask, 'Are you Howie?' Now, one thing I can tell you is that I was ready to ask back, 'friend or foe?' but I know as well as I know anything that any of my online critics would never ever have the courage to approach me and speak to me - that just isn't the way of cowards who hide behind a monitor, so I knew it had to be a friend. It turned out that it was SMAX one of the administrators from the DIBB who I had secured a Cindy's PS for last year some time. We chatted for a while and actually wound up in the same car for the ride. Then we took family photos together and went around Image Works for a bit. We sent some postcards home from IW and then Susan, Sarah and I left the park to go to Downtown Disney. First stop was as always the giant World of Disney Store where we loaded up on gifts for people and kids back home. We peeked into the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and saw some real magic happening there with little princesses. Susan bought some of those Mickey head cereal bowls and we got Sarah another watch and some other things and then we left and walked along the water toward the RFC. There was only a five minute wait for our table and we had a great unexpected lunch since it wasn't part of our original plans. After lunch we headed over to the pin station and I got the latest Disney Visa pin and Sarah traded a little more. On the way back to the GF we stopped at Goodings for a few essentials we needed and then valeted the car and went upstairs. At check in I asked the Concierge CMs to order me one of those small anniversary cakes and have it delivered to our room at 5 PM today so that is why we had to be back.

On the way up in the elevator we met a family of five, 2 parents and 3 cute little girls. The mother asked me if what I was wearing were the trading pins that she heard about. I told her no, what I had on were mostly name badges but I showed her Sarah's pins. It was the first day of their first trip to WDW and didn't know much about anything. So we proceeded to give them a crash course in visiting WDW. Then, when we sat at the Concierge, I told Sarah to go over to their table and give each of the little girls one of her trading pins. She immediately understood the idea of sharing the magic and went over and let each girl choose the one they wanted. They were thrilled. We munched a little bit and then went to the room so that we could surprise Susan when the cake comes. Then at 5 PM a knock on the door and in comes a CM with a beautiful little, what turned out to be my favorite, white chocolate mousse cake with a chocolate Happy Anniversary sign on top. We devoured that little cake and took another well deserved rest. In fact, my rest lasted until the next morning, so that was that for our Tuesday in WDW lol. Tomorrow is all day at the cabana and then Chef Mickey's for dinner.


Day 5 - August 23 - Cabana Day, Magical Weddings & Chef Mickey's For Dinner

Today was going to be a first for us at WDW. No, not because we were going to spend the majority of the day in one of those cool cabanas at the GF BUT simply that we weren't going to spend the day in a park or DD and just lounge around at the pool. Could I do it? Could I just do 'nothing' while at WDW? I had originally booked the cabana for both all day Wednesday and Friday but decided to cancel the Friday afternoon part since it would conflict with our meet at Epcot. So today we try and sleep late with no wake-up call since the cabanas don't open until 10 AM but I was up at 6:00 AM just the same. We had a late and leisurely breakfast at the Concierge Lounge and then headed down to the themed pool area about 9:30 AM. As we approached the poll area the sign said 'pool closed' and then we saw a lifeguard coming by so we introduced ourselves and he, Michael, said he was just preparing our cabana for us and it should be ready shortly. So we took a walk along the path and went to visit the wedding pavilion since Sarah keeps saying that she will definitely get married there one day. As we enter Franck's, we are greeted by Gayle, the CM in charge who also happens to be an ex ambassador for Disney and who had traveled around the country years back during her time promoting the magic of Disney. She is a very lovely and magical woman and she showed us so many things. Once she realized that we were true Disney people she started to share lots of stories with us. Then Susan told her of my history with Cindy's and all that and Gayle actually thanked me for sharing the magic with others and helping to keep her in a job by recommending WDW to so many people. We spent a good half hour talking the magic with Gayle especially about all the new things Disney has in store for us all. Then she told us how in the past Disney only provided their wedding products for on site weddings but now they are selling them for off site weddings too. And she gave us the name and card of the woman who is licensed by Disney who makes all the fancy invitations, etc and she also can do them for off site weddings now as well. This turned out to be a very nice half hour waiting for the cabana to be ready. And it only convinced Sarah and us that much more that she will be married at WDW!

We now head back to the pool area and Michael greets us and shows us to our cabana for the day. It is the first one next to the little shop by the pool. He is very nice and helpful and shows us how everything works. There is an entertainment cabinet with a TV, DVD player and Sirius Satellite Radio system and a refrigerator stocked with juice boxes, bottled water and sodas. Then on the table is a large bowl of fresh fruit with plates and silverware and cloth napkins. There is also a high velocity blower inside and 2 nicely padded chaise lounges and 2 chairs inside as well. The cabanas face due east and the sun is already hot and it is difficult to walk on the cement in bare feet. Susan and Sarah take the lounges and I just sit in the shaded back of the cabana and listen to the SAT radio. The pool has a very nice slide and Sarah and I go down a few times since the pool is pretty empty so far. We eat and drink and have a great time going back and forth into the pool. The cabana hours are 10 - 2 and then 3 - 7 or if you book the entire day it runs straight through from 10 - 7 and that is how we did it. Then around 1 PM we go back upstairs to the Concierge for some lunch and kill an hour there and then back down to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. Our Chef Mickey's dinner is for 6:40 PM so we decide to leave the pool, area for good that day at 5ish and get ready for dinner. I look for Michael to tip him but he is on lightening patrol somewhere since it did start to cloud up and I find his fiancée, another lifeguard, and leave the tip with her. She says that she will see us again on Friday since that is her day to oversee the cabanas. And now up to the room to get ready for dinner.

We take the monorail around to Chef Mickey's and have a great dinner and they present us with 2 more autographed placemats and cupcakes thanks to Sarah. We discuss anniversaries with Mickey and Minnie and then head to the shops for some purchases and pin trading by Sarah. Our next stop is the Polynesian where Sarah goes from CM to CM trading pins and we check out all the stores especially that cool art gallery on the first floor. Now back to the GF and some more pin trading and fooling around with the CMs. Then into the room and Susan and Sarah catch up on the Soap Channel. Tomorrow is Breakfast at Park Fare and then over to AK and then VIP seating for Spectromagic thanks to Francine.


Day 6 - August 24 - AK & Spectromagic VIPs

This morning we had a late breakfast for us at 1900 Park Fare scheduled for 8:30 AM. But we were up early and went down about 7:40 and were second online. They open at 8 AM so we were hoping for an earlier seating. Sarah waited on the line and when they finally opened the woman in front didn't have a ressie so they asked her to sit and wit and Sarah was now first and we were seated immediately. It was too early for Mary Poppins in the lobby so we saved her for later. Breakfast was as great as ever and they really did a job on announcing our anniversary. The CM came over and loudly announced to everyone that we were celebrating our 20th and they gave us 2 more autographed placemats and more cupcakes. We had fun with all the characters and then left in our car for the AK. AK was not too crowded when we arrived and I already had left over fast passes from February for Everest which always works until the end of time once you have them ;-). So we went to Dinosaur first because Susan agreed to ride it this time. It was such a walk-on that we asked to wait so we could see the outside pre show and then went in first. The ride didn't shake anyone up too much and now we headed over to EE passing the construction walls to the new Nemo show which will replace Tarzan Rocks. Sarah decided that she didn't want me to embarrass her by using the old fast passes so we chose the single riders line since only Sarah was going anyway and we waited about 10 minutes. Susan and I waited for her in the shop and she loved the ride. Then when we left I told her that she shouldn't doubt me and I was going to ask the CM about the old fats passes. I approached the CM at the fast pass entrance and told her that I had these 3 fast passes from out February trip but we never got to use them. So she gave me a special ticket that was good for 3 people for only today. So Sarah learned once again to never doubt the king of WDW when it comes to info. She apologized but it didn't last long until she doubted me on something else lol. Next we went to Kali and got 3 fast passes and then went to shop and look for some of the last towels in WDW.

Some of you might remember that I have a Disney bathroom and the towels are all monogrammed silhouette Mickey head towels that we got in different colors at the Celebrity 5 & 10 in MGM years back. When we were there in February and were looking for new towels we were told that Disney discontinued the colored towels and wee only selling the white ones. So Susan figured that we could get some white ones this trip. However, when we were at MGM this trip and asked they said that just last week Disney stopped even the white towels and there were none left. But the CM did say that they had called all around and the Beastly Bazaar at AK had a couple of white ones left. So now was out chance to find out and while waiting for our FP time at Kali we shopped, pin traded and headed over to the BB. After much looking they found the actual alst washcloths and towels and even one bath sheet and we took them all. We had them monogrammed a few days later at MGM.

So now it was time to return to Kali and Sarah and I rode and we didn’t get too wet but did get wet. It was quite hot so we didn't mind. When we came off Susan was talking with a woman and we waited a bit. Susan wanted to head back to the GF since it was so hot and I said okay and asked the woman that she was talking to if she liked EE. She said her 3 daughters loved it so I gave her that special fast pass which was good for any time today and she said her daughters would be thrilled. Then we waited for the tram with one other family who thought I worked in the park since I had on all my name badges and he asked me where the tram stops. It was him, his wife and a little 2 or 3 year old in the stroller. So I told him that I didn’t work there but I could help him and then I motioned to Sarah and she gave the little princess one of her pins. We took the tram back to our car and then drove back to the GF.

When we entered we were talking about the Wonderland Tea Party and it was going to begin in about half an hour. The CM recognized us from brekkie and she asked what we were doing there. We told her how Sarah did the tea party years ago with Drew who ran the kids stuff at the GF and who she remembered as well. She told us that they would soon finish setting up their table and we could go in before anyone else and take pics of Sarah by the table for a memory. We did just that and then a woman asked me what was up since she was waiting with her child. So I told her what was up and then I told her how to get her daughter to sit next to Alice which she appreciated and hopefully did because it always works ;-). Then the CM told us to wait outside in the courtyard for Alice and the Mad Hatter to come in and get more pics. They also recognized us from breakfast ands we took some quick pics and then they went in to the kids.

The next stop was back up to the Concierge for some food and a surprise for Susan - I had ordered 3 white chocolate slipper desserts to be delivered to the room around 3 PM. The knock at the door came and we ate up those slippers one two three lol. It was now time to relax and then get ready to go to the MK to meet HappyCamper, her husband and then Francine, Tim and Mari with whom we were going to see Spectromagic from the VIP seats on the Liberty Square Bridge that Francine was gifted by WDW.

This time we went east in the MK and did Carousel of Progress, got a FP for Buzz and then went over to Toontown. Then back to Buzz where Sarah finally beat me lol. We then met HappyCamper and Alan at the partners statue and then came Francine, Tim and Mari too. We all stayed around for a long while chatting away since we hadn't yet met up this trip. Then Francine, Tim, Mari, Susan Sarah and I went over to the VIP area to watch Spectro. The seats were fantastic and so close to the parade. All the performers seemed to spend extra time waving to us all and playing with those up front. It was absolutely incredible being there that night. When it was all over we hurried back to catch the boat to the GF and made it back with 10 minutes left in the dessert buffet ;-). What a magical day it was once again.


Day 7 - August 25 - More Cabana Fun, Rain Rain Go Away, Epcot Meet & Magic All Around

Today was a half day at the cabana as I described earlier. We had a late brekkie at the Concierge and then headed down to the pool area. This time, Jessica, Michael’s fiancée was taking care of things and she set us up in the second cabana over and even gave us 3 padded chaise lounges this time. It was very hot again and we spent time in the pool and in the cabana. The usual August weather at WDW is sunny all day then around 4-5PM the dark clouds move in and the lightening and rain come for an hour or so and then it clears. But today it was getting real dark by 11 AM. We left the pool area at 12:40 PM and went up for lunch and that was the perfect time because as we were eating 9in the CL the sky opened up and it was pouring. Our plans were to go to Epcot and spend time in the world showcase before meeting up with AndyL, HappyCamper and Alan, and Francine, Tim, and Mari at 5 PM at the coffee kiosk in Italy and then we had a 6 PM ressie at Alfredos for dinner. So we rested for a couple of hours in the room after lunch and then got ready for Epcot. Sarah was concerned that we would be rained out but I assured her that the magic would stop the rain for us ;-). We head over to the Beach Club to valet the car and as we get out it is still raining and I once again tell Sarah not to worry. As we walked the low road to Epcot the rain slowed and slowed and as we passed through the International Gateway entrance the rain magically stopped. This time Sarah told me she would never doubt me again :-). We turned to Canada and went country by country taking pics, shopping the stores and pin trading. The timing was perfect and we calculated that we would wind up in Italy just in time for the meet. We even crossed paths with Francine and company and HappyCamper and company along the way. Then, Susan, Sarah and I had another of those special Disney moments when Sarah went to trade a pin with Lonnie, the CM at the entrance of the American Pavilion. When he saw our anniversary pins he took us right over to the house phone and had us call for that anniversary message. Then he brought out a magical moments certificate and beautifully wrote our names on it and a happy anniversary greeting to us. Then he took us into the Liberty Inn and loudly announced to everyone that it was our 20th anniversary and had them all cheer us and finally he gave us each a red white and blue dessert - the American Jello. This was Disney magic at its finest!!!!!

We then went over to Italy and met up with AndyL and the rest of the gang and chatted for a while and took some group pics. I went inside to Italy and asked in Italian if a CM could take our pic and one obliged right away. After a while we all went to our dinners, we to Alfredos, HappyCamper, Alan and AndyL to Biergarten and Francine and company to Nine Dragons. Our dinner was great as usual and when Pasquale the accordion player saw me he recognized me and we had some fun. We did some singing together and then he sang us a special anniversary song in Italian. After dinner we shopped and pin traded in Italy, Susan got a nice new pocketbook and then we headed back to the Beach Club for our car and then back to the GF for the night.


Day 8 - August 26 - MGM, French Quarter Meet & A Magical Wishes Cruise

This was to be our last full day at WDW and it was going to as magical as all the rest. We started with breakfast at the Concierge lounge and then drove over to MGM. Sarah wanted to ride RnR and Susan wanted to get those towels monogrammed and me, I just wanted to soak up the magic anywhere in 'the world'. Sarah and I leave Susan in the Celebrity 5 & 10 and head to RnR and get 3 fats passes. Then we take a couple of photopass pics by ourselves in front on RnR. Next we go back for Susan who was very excited because it seems that just that morning, the Celebrity 5 & 10 got their last and final shipment of the Mickey silhouette washcloths and she bought some more and was going to have them monogrammed with the others. Now we went over to the Great Movie Ride and had about a 20 minute wait which was okay since we always just walk right on and never get a chance to see all the display cases lol. After the ride we looked around for the photopass people and did some more shopping and pin trading especially under the BAH. The towels were to be ready about 1:30 PM so we waited until that time and then left the park to visit some new friends.

Here is the back story of the 'new friends'. One day when Susan and Sarah were getting a manicure, their manicurist said to the woman next to them that Susan's husband is as crazy as her husband about WDW. So they all got to talking and it turns out that this family of 7 was going to be at WDW around the same time as we were this year. They were staying at POFQ and we decided to meet up. They happen to be Orthodox Jews and just sit around the resort from Friday night until Saturday sundown when the Sabbath ends so we decided to just meet them there during Saturday afternoon. So we drive over to the hotel and find them walking around the lobby. We grab a couple of tables and start talking. I told Susan that I only wanted to stay for an hour since we had a lot to do our last day but once we got to talking we stayed for about 3 hours. Andy, the husband/father does know a lot about WDW and has been there many times. We talked about all the things we both like to do and the different tips we know etc. It also turns out that his mother just joined the faculty of Sarah's new school and will even be the Dean of her class for the full 4 years of her attendance there. He made sure to tell us that we should mention the connection to his mother :-). They only eat kosher food so they bring down cases of prepared foods and only eat kosher at the Disney restaurants. They were going to Hoop De Doo that night after we left and the Sabbath was over.

We went back to the GF to have dinner at the CL since tonight we had plans to do the Wishes cruise thanks to Francine again and I had to call DancingDisneyMom and Connnie who were both arriving that day. The only problem was that from our room the sky was getting very very dark, in fact it looked the worst it had looked the whole time we were there. I called Connnie who had just checked in but it didn't look like we would be able to meet up. As for DancingDisneyMom we did arrange to finally meet after all these years at the Poly before the cruise. DDM had been one of Howe’s Angels and I had never met her yet. Then the call comes in from Francine and she is wondering about the cruise, should she cancel or will they cancel due to the weather. As we talked on the phone and were looking out the window Sarah yelled that there was this great rainbow over the Seven Seas Lagoon. So I looked up and there it was - right from the MK spanning across the lagoon going right behind the Poly was the prettiest rainbow I had ever seen. And the sky was clearing as well. Well talk about Disney Magic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was perfect and I told Francine that over by us it was getting nice even though by her it was still nasty. I told her that the Disney Magic would never let the faithful down and it looked like the cruise was a go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All was perfect now and we left for the Poly around 7 PM on the monorail to meet DDM. We kept calling each other on the cell and finally she came into the lobby of the Poly and we met up. It was a grand time meeting after all these years. Then I told her who else was coming and she was excited that everyone would be meeting up tonight and she would get to put faces with names. So in comes HappyCamper and Alan, then comes Francine, Tim and Mari and then we see Ahnalira and Alan in the shop. We even see AndyL heading out of the lobby to get a ride back to his resort. We take some group pics and then we head over to the marina for the boat. We depart early and take the trip over to the WL and I am explaining to everyone about the bears face and other tidbits when the driver turns around and says that I make his job easy since I am basically describing all the things he would be saying lol. Then we get to see the Electrical Water Pageant right in front of us on the water and then we head back to get setup to see Wishes.

We were right off the castle in the water and the view was fantastic as was the fact that the sound is piped into the boat., The view and everything were un real. There were no distractions like thousands of people all around you on main Street and the location was just to good to be true. This was the ultimate viewing spot to see Wishes and it is actually a better cruise than the Illuminations cruise in my opinion even better than the Breathless due to the view. After it was all over we said our goodbyes and went back to the GF and prepared for our last day at WDW. I did call to get a late checkout for Sunday so that we could hit the MK and I could set up an encounter with everyone with Captain Jack Sparrow ;-).


Day 9 - August 27 - Pirate Training Again & Departure

Since I was able to get a late checkout we weren't in too much of a rush. We didn't have to be at the auto train in Sanford until 1 PM or so which gave us plenty of time to meet up with friends in the MK this last day and figure a way for them to get close to Capt Jack lol. Everything was packed by now except the last minute cosmetic items so we had brekkie at the CL one last time and then we monorailed it over to the MK. The plan was to meet up at 10 AM with HappyCamper, Alan, HappyCamper's sister and kids, Francine, Tim and Mari at POTC so they could all get to train with the pirates. We arrived about 9:30 AM and walked right on to POTC. The next part of the plan was to head over to my spot on the wall to get ready for the show once again. But when we went over to that side after the ride we saw that HC and company were already staked out in anticipation of her big chance. Francine had already called me that they were on their way from their resort too. So now we waited but Sarah wanted me to video the entire show so my vantage point on the wall wasn't conducive for that so she had me move to where the front of the show would be. We pictured how the rope would run along the floor and stood right there. Most of the other guests were milling about where they shouldn't be and we knew they would be asked to move once Mack came out with the cart which is exactly what happened. So we wait and wait and I keep looking over to the left from where they come out and then at 10:16 Mack appears and walks over and starts his antics. He goes for his cart and then asks the others to move but we are where we should be and right in front of where Jack will be too. Then Jack comes over and starts his part and everyone is thrilled. His first move is to come over and hug Francine :-). When it is time to pick the officers he picks four little kids again. Then it comes to the crew and he starts over on his right, out left, and makes his way around. He stops by HappyCamper who is appropriately acting out to be chosen and Jack stops gives her a look and makes a comment about waiting for her later. Then he picks Sarah again and also Mari who is hesitant at first but goes right up. The rest of the show was described earlier in the report but this time I videoed the entire thing so Sarah will get it online soon. After the show Mack did sign some autographs and pose for pics but not Jack at all. It was a great ending to a great trip for us. Then we said our goodbyes and hurried out of the park. The launch was there so we opted for that quicker mode then waiting for the monorail. We got to the hotel, nibbled a bit in the CL, called for the bell services and for my car, said our goodbyes to the Concierge staff and headed to the auto train.

We checked in at the auto train, got two digEplayers again and waited to board. They let us on at 2:30 PM again and at 3 we hit the lounge car for snacks. Then we had dinner at 5, went back to the sleeper car and relaxed and waved by to Florida for now.


Day 10 - Arrival in Virginia & Home Sweet Home

I woke up early as usual and watched the sun rise. WE had breakfast at 7 AM and found out that the train was going to be late once again. It arrived at 10 AM instead of 8:30 AM and our car came off toward the end this one time. We left the station at 11:15 and I made it home in exactly 4 hours averaging 67 mph. Our house was waiting, there was no mail (I had stopped delivery until tomorrow) or packages waiting for us and we unloaded the car and got back to our normal routine.


Epilogue

The majority of the people reading this report know exactly how I feel about visiting Walt Disney World so the descriptions and pixie-dusted commentaries are the usual for me. I will say that this trip had so much magic in it that it will be hard to top next time but I know it will be topped and that is what is so wonderful about Disney how they can outdo themselves each and every time. As for this trip, it was great to meet up with so many other magical Disney loving families. That is what I prefer my online associations to be - with others who are good at heart and not interested in negativity and hate.

The GF was as magnificent as always and the Concierge staff was a delight. One point I will make is that since we stayed in the room next door to the honeymoon turret 4421 that we have only stayed in there before, Susan did say that the next time we are going right back to that room. It is not that 4422 isn’t a phenomenal room but our memories are really in 4421 so that is where we will stay next time which will be within the year :-). Even the mousekeeper said that having a rollaway in 4421 is no big deal.

The last thing I want to assure you all that despite what you read on some sites out there, where they only look to complain about not getting this or that or whatever else comes to mind, the Magic is alive and well in Walt Disney World and there is no vacation spot on the planet that can make you fell so young and playful like WDW makes you feel.
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#2 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 12:38 PM

Great report Howie! Any pictures? Your daughter is so spoiled to be able to go on these great trips
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#3 User is offline   Hşoşwie 

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 10:16 PM

QuickGold said:

Great report Howie! Any pictures? Your daughter is so spoiled to be able to go on these great trips


thanks Matt; ill PM you our photopass pics link for now while i upload all the pics we took;
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