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Delayed Magic, Re-routed Magic, and Shared Magic Is Still Magic at Walt Disney World Aug 30 - Sept 6, 2009

#1 User is offline   Howie 

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 01:14 PM

Delayed Magic, Re-routed Magic, and Shared Magic Is Still Magic at Walt Disney World


Howie - 57 year old reincarnated Walt
Susan - 54 year old reincarnated Lillian
Sarah - 17 year old born and bred Disney lover

Sarah's 'belly friend' and family - 6 in total

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Rooms 6125 and 6127 in Sugar Loaf Concierge - 4 days
Room 4422 - Royal Palm Club Main Building Concierge - 4 days

August 30 - September 6, 2009


Prologue

Okay, first I will explain the strange title to this trip report and the explanation will probably be as long as the entire rest of the report LOL. The Delayed Magic part describes how our original trip was scheduled for June 2009. The trip was supposed to be a very relaxing trip after Sarah's long and tiring junior year in high school. Not only was it exhausting as it is for any high school junior, but in Sarah's case, she was hardly in school. Where was she? She was around the country winning award after award in science competitons during the school year. For example, she swept the LISEF(Long Island Science and Engineering Fair) awards with 8 first place wins on her project about hurricane recurvature which she researched independently for 3 weeks last summer at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami with Susan staying in the Westin Colonnade Coral Gables for 3 weeks and me commuting back and forth to work in NY. Those wins enabled her to advance to INTEL ISEF, the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno Nevada. Of course, we went along and she won 5 awards there including one of the INTEL Grand Award Prizes and some money as well. She also won a bunch of regional awards in other competitions with her project during her junior year. So where does the Delayed Magic actually come in? Well, she also entered the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, Inc's Holocaust Remembrance Project and out of more than 7,000 entries she was 1 of 10 first place winners http://holocaust.hklaw.com/ . They named the winners on June 1 and we were looking for a second place because the first place winners were required to go to Chicago for the week and visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie and spend their time with survivors and politicians. The time frame overlapped our Disney vacation so when Sarah got the call that night that she had won, we immediately canceled our Disney vacation for this honor and we planned our trip to Chicago to accompany her. At the same time, we had to choose another date to visit WDW and we decided on the end of August. All of my meal ressies were already made along with the GF cabanas for 2 full days so I had a lot of cancellations to make. My next call was to Francine to help me figure out how to make the new dates happen. With her help and my subsequent mirroring of all the meal and recreation ressies we were all set for the end of August with the Disney VISA huge discount on the same room, 4422 in the main building. Then off we went to Chicago with the knowledge that our WDW trip would still happen in 2009.

The Re-routed Magic describes a situation that occurred about 3 weeks from our departure date to WDW. I had been well aware of the new marble floors that were going to be placed in the GF but nobody knew that the new carpets on the thrid, fourth, and fifth floors of the GF main building would require the entire RPC to be shut down from Aug 30 - Sept 3. Not even the RPC CMs knew about it in advance. So here we are about 3 weeks out from our trip and I become aware that we will not be staying in the RPC. So I speak with Francine who speaks with the upper echelon of Disney guest services on our behalf. They first offer a 'comparable' room in Sugar Loaf. But Francine kindly explains to them that I, her friend and client, am well aware that there is no 'comparable' room in the outer buildings to a deluxe concierge in the RPC AND that she could not come to me with that offer since I know the square footage of every room on Disney property and the standard room in Sugar Loaf would just not do. So we were then given the choice of either a 1 bedroom suite or 2 connecting rooms. Since some of the 1 bedroom suites only have 1 1/2 bathrooms and the 2 separate but connecting rooms would have two full bathrooms, we opted for the 2 rooms in Sugar Loaf. That takes care of the Re-routed Magic.

The Shared Magic refers to our going down with Sarah's 'belly friend' and family. The 'belly friend' stems from the fact that we met this other couple in child birth classes when both Susan and Diane were pregnant and we became close friends. In fact, they had visited WDW with us twice before, in 1995 and 1997, when the girls were 3 and 5 years old. Now, Diane is like Susan and does not like to fly so they drove down the other two trips. So after we rebook our trip for August, Sarah asks if we can speak with Diane and see if they want to travel to WDW once again now that they have 4 kids and we have only Sarah. The decision is made BUT Diane will still not fly so she and one son take the autotrain and leave the day before and the rest of us fly together and we basically arrive on the the same day and time. They booked two rooms at the WL via Francine and take the free dining package. This describes the Shared Magic.

Back to the relaxed trip for us. This summer Sarah did 3 internships. One was at Brookhaven National Lab on lightening, the second at the National Weather Service in Upton, and the third from home via Skype with a new mentor to advance her hurricane project. The daily travel distance was about 250 miles back and forth and back and forth, mostly for Susan. We did stay out on Long Island a couple of times and I commuted to work but the travel did tire both Susan and Sarah out so this trip was again to be a relaxing time - no commando touring and 'almost' ;-) no Mickey wake-up calls at 5:15 AM.

Finally, the Still Magic at WDW, well, you must read about our trip in order to see what this means, but those that know me already get it - it is always Magic at WDW for us!!!!!!


Day 1 - Sunday August 30 - Checking in and First Day's Magic

I had chosen the earliest flight from NY to MCO which left La Guardia at 7:30 AM on Delta. That meant a pickup from our house about 5:30 AM by Nat's Limos, our regular driver, and therefore a 4:00 AM wake-up at home. All went well and on a Sunday there would be no traffic. We made it to the airport a little past 6:00 AM and breezed right through curbside checkin and then security and headed to the gate. Our friends arrived later and joined us at the gate. They had no luggage since it all went down packed in the car on the autotrain. I had been tracking this flight for 2 weeks evaluating its on time percentage and most of the time it had been departing early and arriving even earlier due to the winds. That is what happened with us and instead of a 10:10 arrival in Orlando, we arrived before 10 AM. We took our first monorail ride of the trip over to the main building. After quickly retrieving our bags, our friends, who waited with us, after some group pics, headed toward the Magical Express and we headed toward National's Executive Emerald Aisle to use my free upgraded membership. We chose a big beautiful high output black Dodge Charger with a big trunk and loaded the luggage and headed out to the Beeline toward I4. Since it was Sunday we didn't expect any traffic and we were right. It was a quick drive down the Beeline and then down I4 to exit 64 aka US192 aka Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway aka Space Coast Parkway to World Drive, passing through Mickey's magical gates and then turning left on Seven Seas Drive and finally bearing right on to Floridian Way where Hulk Hogan used to race his motorcycle as Randolph J "Hurricane" Spencer in Thunder in Paradise. As we approached the Grand Floridian entrance still before 11:00 AM, Susan and Sarah had me stop to take pictures of the signs and entranceway. We approached the security booth and announced our arrival and the guard told us to pull up and he would alert the concierge that we were here so they could meet us out front. We pulled up and told the valet that we would be valeting the car the entire trip and walked over to the concierge CM who was waiting for us. She told us that one of our rooms was ready for us but the second connecting room would be ready later as we walked through the main building over to Sugar Loaf. The CM presented us with 2 folders, one for each room and went over the usual details after showing us around the Sugar Loaf Concierge Lounge area. We were on the first floor in the wing down the hall from the lounge, rooms 6127, at the end of the hall, which was the ready room, an 'accessible' room, and 6125, the regular room which connected to 6127. Jerry from bell services soon brought in our luggage and we spent about 20 minutes talking with him since he has been there for 21 years.

We left the luggage, had lunch at the concierge lounge, and headed over to the MK and noticed that it was really empty. Our first stop for me, was at the Harmony Barber Shop and after only about a 10 minute wait, I had my usual first day magical haircut. This time Norma dusted me as always and painted a red, white, and blue Mickey head on the back of my head. After the haircut we contacted our friends who were already in the MK and met them over by the Tiki Room. They had already done POTC a couple of times and I asked them if they had seen the Pirate Tutorial. Since two of the kids are boys ages 15 and 11, I thought they might like it and I promised the 11 year old I would get him in the show. So we walked over and I asked the CM when the next show was and it was to be in about 15 minutes, so we quickly walked over to Splash for fast passes then went back to POTC and waited where they would drop the rope. Just as I had promised, the 11 yr old was chosen as one of the original 4 and he sparred with Mac and then once again, Jack chose me to be in his crew and I went up with all the little kids and pledged my life to the pirate code and received another certificate. Then it was getting near to parade time and we walked over to the checkerboards in Frontierland and moved the benches to the front and sat and awaited the parade. It was really empty and there were so many empty spaces for the parade along the entire route. We watched the parade and then followed along behind it toward Splash and used the fast passes and 8 of us filled a log and Susan walked across. After Splash we walked on Haunted Mansion and I showed my friends where to stand to be first through the doors to the doombuggies. After HM we walked through Fantasyland and right into Mickey's Philharmagic and then we decided to return to the rooms, unpack while our friends stayed in the MK and get ready for dinner at 1900 Park Fare.

Back at the room we were now able to open the connecting doors and had access to both rooms, 6125 and 6127 and kept them open and connected. We used all the drawer space in both rooms for our clothes and neatened the places up. Then down or I mean out and across to 1900 Park Fare for dinner. Since the last time at Park Fare they don't have the Fairy G-dmother in the lobby for pics but they have a nice mural on the wall of the castle and a photopass photographer. We purchased those pics but I was really looking for the Fairy G-dmother because this trip is the last one before Sarah starts her college applications and as a true believer in the power of dust, I wanted to have Sarah sprinkled as much as possible for those apps. Therefore, after all the character visits at the table, from Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella, and Prince Charming, I anxiously awaited Cindy. When she arrived I whispered to her about some dust for Sarah for her apps, she left and came back and sprinkled Sarah for good luck. Dinner was the usual great although no more prime rib, so I had the roast beef.

After dinner we had decided to rush over to Fantasmic since with the cutbacks they were only showing it our first night there and one more time later in the week, on Thursday. So I got our car and sped over to make the 8:30 PM show. I used our AAA parking pass and parked up front and we speedwalked over to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater and the place looked quite full by now. But knowing the tricks of the trade, we walked down the center aisle and snagged the front row just stage right of center, not the isolated front benches but the actual front row and had great seats for the show although the gnats were in full force and so were the dragonflies until dusk. The show was great as always and we were happy to have made it our first night. Just as hero Mickey saved the day we scooted up to the top to avoid the crowds and were the first ones out and headed back to the GF and made it just in time for the nightly concierge desserts. Then back to the room and ready for the next day, our first full day at WDW and plans for DHS and to celebrate our 23 wedding anniversary, the newly extended Wishes Dessert Party.


Day 2 - Monday August 31 - DHS, Lunch at Hollywood & Vine and our Wedding Anniversary Wishes Dessert Buffet

Today was our first full day in Walt Disney World and it was a first of another kind. There was no Mickey/Stitch wake-up call before dawn as I had promised the princesses there wouldn't be. Our plans were to head over to DHS which wasn't even the EMH morning park for the day. We all woke up at an early hour just the same, got ourselves together and had a nice leisurely brekkie at the concierge lounge. Each morning I had pretty much the same choices, a couple of plates of cold cuts, a couple of glasses of OJ, either a bagel or a croissant and a plate of cheeses. Susan and Sarah usually had cold cereal and some carbs. After brekkie we called for the car and headed over to DHS and were still quite early, well not really for us, arriving at DHS around 10 AM but the lots were really empty and as we would soon see so was the park. We parked way up front in one of the first AAA spots, no not even the first as we used to do because of this 'late' hour lol. We entered the park and went straight to Toy Story Midway Mania for a fast pass and got some for 1:45 PM although the standby line was only 20 minutes. Our friends were in the commando mode and had gotten here early and already did Rock 'n' Roller Coaster twice with no waits and had gotten six fastpasses for Tower of Terror. They were now inside The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show and we decided to meet in the courtyard after the show. We went into One Man's Dream and when they were done with Ariel, we met up near that exit. They asked what to do next and I suggested the Great Movie Ride which was a walk-on and they were running both shows, the gangsters and the bandits, so since the boys liked gangsters we chose that one and sat in the very first two rows so we could interact with the CMs. After the wonderful as always GMR, there was still time on their TOT fastpasses so we headed over to the Theater of the Stars to catch Beauty and the Beast. And even though there were only fifteen minutes until showtime, we got great seats about 15 rows back stage right from the aisle in. It was so magical watching little Ava's face as she watched the show. It was just like watching Sarah all over again when she was 5 years old with an open mouth and unblinking eyes catching every bit of the magic that Disney creates. After the show we headed over to TOT and with the 6 fastpasses all went on except for Susan, myself, and Diane - we waited in the gift shop. Little Ava didn't care for this ride and came off crying but that didn't last long at all. Then Sarah and Alana went for fastpasses for RnR and the rest of us did some photopass pics in front of TOT.

Now it was getting near our lunch ressie times. We both had 12:30 PM ressies, ours at H & V, and because they had made their decision to visit WDW so late and couldn't match all of our ressies, they got 50's Prime Time Cafe at the same time. I explained to them that they are pretty much connected via the bar/lounge between them and that we would text them when the characters came to our table so Ava can come over and see them. It worked out perfectly since as soon as we saw June from the Little Einsteins approaching, we texted Diane and Sarah went and brought Ava to our table. She stayed with us for the dance numbers and joined right in. Then Leo came over and I told him how Sarah admired his brain and how she was applying to a certain college and he was thrilled and hugged her up. After a while JoJo and Goliath came by and then Sarah brought Ava back to the other side and we finished our lunch. Our friends said they were going to be a while so we left and headed over to Toy Story Midway Mania and walked on with our fastpasses. The attraction was even better then last year when we did it for the first time. I rode alone and Susan and Sarah rode together and we were all happy with our scores. Next we went over to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster to use the fastpasses. We all met up there and since we had 9 fastpasses we all went on although Susan and I escaped at the end before the ride. We waited for them all by the photo wall. Then after some shopping in the Villains store, Susan's favorite, we headed over to prepare for the parade.

It was time for the Block Party Bash and it was hot, really hot around 99. I grabbed the shaded ledge to the right of the tip board and Ava in her stroller held the tape line in the shade. The parade was great and everyone really liked the excitement of all the CM's who performed. We felt sorry for Mr. Potato Head just imagining how hot he must have been inside as well as all the others like the Green Army Men. After the parade we headed over to the Muppets and although the preshow room was packed and we were way at the top, I demonstrated to my friends my patented Disney Slide-by technique because I wanted the front row for Ava so she could be close to Sweetums when he comes out and walks in front of the stage. We got the front row center and all was well in the land of Disney Magic.

It was now approaching 4:00 PM and since we were celebrating our anniversary tonight at the Wishes Dessert Party we went back to the GF to relax, have dinner at the concierge, and get ready for the nighttime magic and sweets. As far as the Wishes Dessert party, this was a temporary party that began around June 26 and was supposed to be finished on August 28. I had been calling everyday for weeks to see if it had been extended because all reports were that it was always sold out due to its popularity. Each day, no luck. Finally on Thursday, August 27 in the late afternoon I got lucky. It certainly wasn't available in the morning and then like magic, I called and booked it for our anniversary on Monday.

Back at the GF we relaxed, showered in our 2 separate bathrooms lol, and had dinner at the concierge. Dinner was great. The two main choices from the chaffing dishes were Chicken Satay skewers and Phyllo Wrapped Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers. There was plenty of side things as well. Delicious!!! We skipped any desserts due to our later venue ;-). The Wishes Dessert Party didn't really open until 9:00 PM since Wishes was at 10:00 PM and tonight was a perk too because Spectro was showing at 9:00 PM. The problem was that around 6:00 PM it began to thunder and lightening and pour rain so much that they even stopped the boats and monorails for a bit. We knew that if it continued they would not run Spectro nor Wishes so we had to think quick. Susan and I didn't bring any slickers but Sarah packed her old WDW one. So we went to the side door of Sugar Loaf, the one closest to the main building, and when the rain let up a bit Sarah went over to the Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop in the Main Building and bought us 2 more slickers. The other point is that I wanted as you all know to be first at the party which meant I wanted to be at the Tommorowland Terrace Noodle Station Checkin spot by 7:30 PM. So we put on our slickers and headed over to the second floor monorail station at the GF and waited until they began running the monorails again. The lightening slowed and we got over to the MK early enough and through the rain we made it to the TTNS. It was packed and I was not aware of how many of these people were just keeping dry or were there for the party. Little by little they filtered out and it was just us. So I stood by the wall and was first. They started letting us in at 8:30 PM and our reserved table was all the way to the right, the last one, and in my opinion, the best spot of all with the leat unobstructed view of everything. The rain stopped magically and they let us begin gourging ourselves. What an array of sweet stuff, even too much for me after a while. They kept refilling everything but it was just over the top to keep eating. My favorite was the Pistachio Creme Brulees of which I had about 8 of them along with much of the other selections. Then Spectro began and we were able to see it fairly well from our seats. There was a problem with Spectro and it stalled on main Street for about 15 minutes which delayed Wishes start until about 10:20 PM which gave everyone more time to 'dine' lol. There was also a photopass CM inside with us and we took some nice night pics with the blue castle in the background. Then Wishes began with a perfectly clear sky and Tink flew right over our heads at our table. She was so close to us since she was on her descent and close to landing. Then the fireworks and narration which were as great as always. When it was all over, we exited and took the boat back to the GF because the next day was the MK and we wanted to be first at Pixie Hollow to introduce Ava to her favorite fairies especially Tink and I wanted Tink to also sprinkle Sarah for college.


Day 3 - Tuesday September 1 - Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace Lunch Together, Epcot

As can already be seen, this was supposed to be a relaxed vacation for us and we were holding to it with no rushing around. I dealt with it. So this morning, the MK was opening at its regular time, we didn't do EMH morning parks each day as usual, so we had a leisurely brekkie at the concierge. Then we took the rail over to the MK and arrived around 8:15 AM. The early morning breakfast people were going in and we were second in line to the left of them at the right train tunnel overpass. My plan was to just head over to Mickey's Toontown and wait to be the first ones at Pixie Hollow because we had never seen it and Ava loves the fairies. Our friends arrived a little later from the WL but once the ropes dropped Sarah took off and headed to the second Tomorrowland spoke and was first at that rope which would drop in about 5 more minutes. Susan and I caught up and when they dropped the rope we headed to Toontown which didn't open until 10:00 AM but we wanted to get it done early. So Sarah arrived first and we came up behind her and then another family who wasn't aware that it didn't open until 10 AM but they stayed and then our friends came. We waited and waited and the boys went to ride the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway and the rest of us just waited for our transformation into little people inside Pixie Hollow. Then Sarah took Ava and Alana to the Teacups and came back in line The crowd grew and close to 10 AM it was pretty deep but when they dropped the rope it was a follow me and no running so I was right on the rear of Devan the CM. We got right up front and were first to enter the Toontown Hall of Fame and entered the queue for Pixie Hollow. The rest of our party caught up and we went in first. Ava was thrilled as was I to see this new attraction at WDW. Inside was only Tink and Rosetta and then came Iridessa. The rotation was first to Rosetta and then to Tink who was a perfect Tink. The kids got their autographs and then we all took pics with the individual fairies. I then whispered to Tinker Bell about Sarah applying to a 'certain' college and she therefore need some real pixie dust. So Tink just rubbed up along side of Sarah's shoulder with her shoulder and then to me and to Ava and we all left all sparkly with really magical pixie dust. Tink said she would have to go back to the pixie dust tree for some more later on. When you truly believe, as you all know we do, like when we flew down for the weekend in Dec 2000 when Sarah was ill for some dust, then it truly works for you.

When we exited around from Pixie Hollow we saw the line already out the door but there was nobody on the Princess line so we went in and spent time with Cindy, Belle, and Aurora. We took pics and got their autographs and then exited to see Mickey. Only a 10 minute wait here and both Mickey and Minnie were inside. The kids went up and then Susan and I went up and Minnie saw our anniversary buttons and pointed them out and then saw our rings and pointed to Mickey and I told Mickey that Minnie was due for her ring already and Minnie kissed me for that. After our pics with them we exited and the kids all rode the Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm a few times with no wait. Then some shopping inside the Hall of Fame and then over to a still empty Fantasyland. First a fastpass for Peter Pan, then we saw Philharmagic again, walking right in and sitting in the front, the we rode the carousel. Next back to Peter Pan since the fastpasses weren't too far out from when we got them.

We had a 12:55 PM ressie at Crystal Palace and our friends had a 12:30 so our plan was to get there a bit early and have Sarah, the schmoozer off the old block, get them to combine them. It was about 11:50 now and I knew that the Fairy G-dmother holds court on the Tinks Treasures side of the Castle so I asked some CMs if she would be out soon. They were painting that side of the Castle and had walls up but they called someone and they told me she would be out at 12:10 PM in the usual place. So I lined up and waited and sure enough the handler came out and then the FGM and we were first. I did my thing and told her about Sarah and college apps so she gave her a special Bibbiti Bobbiti Boo spell right over her head. Then off to Crystal Palace and Sarah did her thing and we all got seated together about 12:45 PM for lunch. Lunch was the usual and we waited around for all the characters to come by. After lunch we headed back to the GF because they said it was going to pour by 2:00 PM although the skies looked nice. Sarah wanted to do the World Showcase that evening so we took the car and valeted at the Beach Club and walked over through the International Gateway. We started at Canada and then Great Britain and by the time we got to France it did start to pour so we watched the movie and then it was still raining so we stayed in the shops and then bought some more slickers because we didn't bring the ones from the room. We finished in France and did Morocco and then decided to head back to the room. We had a nice dinner again in the concierge lounge and then we watched the reruns of the final two episodes of the season of NCIS when they introduce the new LA connection.

Then it was bedtime and tomorrow was going to be a full day at the GF cabanas after an early 7:00 AM brekkie at Chef Mickeys. Since the cabanas open at 10 AM we had plenty of time to eat and come back. Plus our friends were having brekkie at 1900 Park fare and they might join us at the cabanas for the day, or at least the girls might.


Day 4 - Wednesday September 2 - Chef Mickey's, Cabanas, Rain, Cabanas, Forced Relaxation

Today was going to be a forced relaxation day thrust upon me. As I had promised my princesses, there would be 2 full days of nothing but reclining around the pool in the cabana on this trip. Everyone really did need it after the previous school year, including myself. However, I did get my one very early Mickey/Stitch wakeup call today. He called at 5:30 AM since we were having brekkie at Chef Mickey's at 7:00 AM, the first seating, and I knew we had to get there around 6:35 AM or so to be first at the new checkin area. So that is what happened and we took the car from the valet and valeted it at the Contemporary right on schedule. We were first in line, well there was no actual line yet but me of course lol. I stayed there and Susan and Sarah walked around the Concourse and window-shopped. When they opened, we checked in and were seated and had the usual brekkie and we were in no rush since we didn't have to be back at the Grand until 10:00 AM when the cabanas opened for the day. We had plenty of time to be visited by all the characters and stayed until about 8:30 in the Contemporary. The weather reports for the week before we left were for a lot of rain and thunderstorms but so far we had lucked out pretty much and were able to do plenty around the rain. But this morning did look ominous and our take-along weather girl described the cloud pattern outside and what it meant and it didn't sound good.

After breakfast, we took the car back to the GF and valeted it. We went back to Sugar Loaf to change into our bathing suits and get ready for the cabanas. We still had time so we passed by the gift shop to buy some reading material. After all, if I was forcing myself to do nothing all day long I had to find something to read at least to keep me quiet. I checked out the revolving book rack and picked out a book by Vince Flynn called Extreme Measures. I have always been a Clive Cussler fan especially his Dirk Pitt novels and this looked along those lines. The protagonist of Flynn's books is a CIA operative named Mitch Rapp and I thought I would give him a go after reading the blurb on the back cover. Now out the side door of the GF to the pool over the newly installed marble with the Peter Pan characters embedded in the design. All the marble looks great and at certain points you can see the characters. We arrive at the pool just at cabana opening and we are the only ones that have reserved one today. They have certainly upgraded them since our last stay, with really cushiony sofas and loveseats. The only problem is that they have these huge flower pots on each side of the front of all the cabanas and the bees were plentiful. And anyone who knows my princesses knows that they are terrified of bugs so they ask to have the pots moved far away which the CMs do. The sky looks a bit cloudy but no rain yet. So we all lay out and begin our individual things. Sarah is reading Crime and Punishment for her over the summer senior year assignment and I am reading Extreme Measures. After about an hour, the skies open up so we all back up into and under the protection of the cabana and it keeps the rain out. The CM comes by to say that we can stay as long as we like but they won't charge us due to the weather. We don't mind because we just wanted to lay around and we are all comfortable under the cabana protected from the pouring rain. We hang out until about 12:30 PM and the rain lets up a little so we head in for lunch at the concierge informing the CM that we will be back after lunch for the second shift. By the way, our friends never made it to brekkie at 1900 Park Fare so they never came to the cabanas and did their own thing today.

Lunch was the usual with chips and dips and such and then a wonderful and magical thing happened. As we were walking back to our table from the buffet table, we passed a familiar looking CM who recognized us just as we recognized her. It was Patty from Pennsylvania who is actually a RPC CM. We had a long conversation with her about the move and she told us that she wasn't notified about the closing until the last minute either. So she asked us if we wanted to get back to the main building and our preferred room, the deluxe 4422 right next to our other favorite room, 4421, the honeymoon turret facing the MK. She says she heard that they were going to reopen on time which was tomorrow, Thursday September 3. We were already resigned to the fact that we were staying in Sugar Loaf for the entire stay but she said she was waiting to get back to the RPC herself and she would make a call for us since she knew that we preferred to be there too. So while we were eating she came back to the table and said it was all set for our room for tomorrow and we could move back around noon. We were thrilled and called Francine to give here the good news.

After lunch we went back to our cabana and magically the rain had stopped and the sun came out so we had the entire afternoon in the cabana and they didn't charge us for any part of the day. I finished the entire book , Extreme Measures, that day and found a new hero - Mitch Rapp. Vince Flynn's books are very up to date and right on as far as I am concerned and I am going to read some prior novels of his since this was his latest. We went in for dinner at the concierge and then back to the room and kind of packed our stuff for the move tomorrow. Then we watched some TV and sent Sarah out for some dessert when it was time for the nightly dessert buffet.

Well, everyone got their wish today, we relaxed and relaxed and we were informed we were be re-routed back to the Royal Palm Club into one of our two favorite rooms. Tomorrow's schedule will be only slightly modified due to the move back to the RPC but we will still have lunch at Cindy's with our friends and then dinner at Il Mulino and then view Illuminations which wasn't leaving despite a few internet rumors that were thrown around a few weeks before our trip :-).


Day 5 - Thursday September 3 - Epcot Future World, The RPC, Cindy's For Lunch and Back to Epcot For Illuminations

We did get a wakeup from Stitch this morning at 6:00 AM and got ourselves together and had breakfast at the concierge. Then we took the car and went over to Epcot. We parked up front in the AAA Diamond Parking and strolled over to the turnstiles. There was the early morning breakfast line and then a couple of other lines forming since it was already 8:15 AM and the park was opening at 9 AM today, not an EMH. We were back about 20 in the line but I knew the drill and used the Disney turnstile green arrow drop down to move up to the next trunstile whose arrow went from red to green which happens to be a legal move in the WDW game of park entering. They let us in about 8:50 AM and we headed to the rope by Innoventions heading toward Soarin'. At 9 they dropped the ropes but had us do the slow walk behind to Soarin' and we were right behind the CM just like at Pixie Hollow. We followed the CM right up to the queue and were first on Soarin'. Susan opted out and Sarah and I soared high! As we exited there was only about 9 minutes to the next showing of Circle of Life so we went inside and waited. It was a little sad passing by the empty and not revolving Garden Grill which we had always loved for breakfast and have great memories of the Rehitchin' Ceremony. We sat in the front row of The Circle of Life Theater and then went out after the show and headed to Figment's place. It was amazingly empty and we had our own row of cars in Journey into Imagination with Figment. We even had lots of time to take pics along the queue. After the ride we spent some time in the Imageworks What If Labs. I purchased a great shirt that was there last year but nor in my size and had it sent back to the room. Then over to Mousegear after passing through Club Cool and sipping a few of my favs. We bought some stuff at Mousegear and had it sent to the room as well. Then we stopped by the Innoventions fountains and watched the show, We then had some Edys ice cream cones at the Fountain View Cafe and then over to Spaceship Earth. There was maybe a five minute wait at SE and in fact, the entire park was pretty empty today. We rode SE and then spent some time in the Project Tomorrowland Post Show by Siemens and Sarah took pics of the board that shows how Siemens sponsors the Siemens Science Competition that she will be entering this year. Next we grabbed some fastpasses for Mission Space and headed over to Ellen's Energy Adventure. We took our usual seats, the front right row all the way to the right side. Most people rush in to the front row center car and I know how the cars go, with the left going first, then the center, and then the right BUT we also know that the right cars have the widest curve and they are the only ones that pass right under the dinosaurs chewing overhead and we try and have them drool on us or at least I do knowing that it is only moisture lol. Then I get a call on my cell that the room in the RPC is ready so we skip Mission Space and head back to the room.

We call bell services to move us over and after getting new key cards at the Sugar Loaf concierge we are all set. We put the bags in 4422 and head over to the MK via monorail to meet our friends at CRT for lunch. This trip, despite my love for Cindy's brekkie, we hadn't planned one for this trip which was another first, but I listened to what my princesses wanted for this trip. However, once our friends booked their trip and they wanted Ava to experience CRT, I called and was able to get a party of 9 for lunch for today. So I 'sacrificed' and went to CRT once again ;-). After lunch, we overprotective parents went wild and actually let Sarah stay in the MK alone with our friends while Susan and I went back to the room to unpack and organize. I have to say as nice as the two connecting rooms with two full bathrooms were, this deluxe concierge room 4422, although irregularly shaped, was as big as both of those rooms together and the one bathroom with its double vanity was big enough and the wrap around terrace was a plus! Sarah came back to the room with everyone and they stayed for a while and had some drinks at the concierge and then they left for their hotel and to see Fantasmic and we drove and valeted at the Swan for our dinner at Il Mulino. We love this place and have eaten at the ones here on Long Island, the one in Miami Beach, and of course the one at the Swan since it changed over form Palio which was also great. After dinner we took the Friendship boat over to Epcot and went in via the International Gateway once again. It was maybe 8:20 PM by now and I was amazed how empty it was. Usually by this time the bridge between Great Britain and France from where we watch the show when not down below on an pontoon or Breathless, is 5 to 6 people deep from the rail. When Sarah was young she would sit atop my shoulders from this area and watch the show. Well, we had the center of the bridge at the rail and even as it got closer to 9 PM, there was only 1 row at the rail and maybe 1 row behind us. Amazing how light the crowds were! Illuminations began and the show was great and I am glad it isn't going anywhere. After the show we took the Friendship back to the Swan, showed the Il Mulino validated valet ticket to the valet and took the car back to the GF. Our friends did make Fantasmic as well and Sarah was texting back and forth. They had great seats about 5 rows back and also complained about the gnats and dragonflies but loved the show.

Tomorrow was another exciting day in store for us with the AK in the morning, Downtown Disney to shop and T-Rex supposedly with everyone for lunch, and then our first ever Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at night. We have done many after hour hard ticket events at WDW through the years from the Jolly Holiday Dinner Shows, MVMCPs, Pirate and Princess parties, etc, but never the MNSSHP so this was going to be fun.


Day 6 - Friday September 4 - AK, DD Shopping, T-Rex, MNSSHP

Another 'later' wakeup call today - 6:00 AM. We had the usual filling breakfast at the concierge and then took the car and headed off to the AK. The parking lot was empty and we parked up front in the AAA parking once again. Then over to the turnstiles and first on one of the lines. Once in we waited up ahead for the rope drop and the opening ceremony with Mickey and the gang. Then they let us in and I noticed that the centralized fastpass testing was over. I really wanted to give this a try but we will see about it next trip. We headed straight for Expedition Everest and it was a total walk-on. Susan and I walked through with Sarah and exited while she rode. Our friends made it in and they met us at Everest and there were still no lines in the empty park and they all rode it together 2 more times making three for Sarah with no wait. It was a bit too much for Ava and she cried a bit after the ride but once I showed her all the plush Yetis in the store she calmed down. Next we headed over to Dinosaur past the closed Donald's Breakfastosaurus which used to be our first stop in the morning with several pics at home of our being chosen first family of the day there 3 times. Dinosaur was down so we turned around and everyone rode Primeval Whirl a couple of times while Susan, Diane, Ava, and I rode the Triceratop Spin. Then we headed over to Its Tough To Be A Bug and after a 5 minute wait for them to open the doors, we did the Disney slide by and got 8th row center seats. Our next stop was the Kilimanjaro Safaris and again no wait, just walking through to the Jeeps. Sarah asked for the front and we had the two front rows. After the safari and getting to see the lioness only, we headed over to what Sarah was waiting for - the Kali River Rapids. Everyone but Susan and I rode and they all got soaked. So just like in the past, Sarah, and Alana this time too, had to go buy new clothes and change which is exactly what I told Alana would happen and of course the girls did not mind one bit lol.

After Kali we decided to hit Downtown Disney and brought Alana with us. The others got to ride Dinosaur since it had reopened. We got to T-Rex just in time for our 12:30 PM ressie but the others never made it and stayed in AK for a bit. I was looking forward to T-Rex since I heard that they were building one in DD. I love the Rainforest Cafe and I only assumed this would be on par. The only problem with it was that it was almost a mirror image of the RFC with just dinosaurs instead of the jungle animals and the menu was pretty much identical with just name changes. If I never ate at the RFC before then this would have been a unique experience but since I was familiar with the RFC it wasn't such a big deal. They did accept my Safari Club Card so we saved a bit on the appy. I ordered one of the candied smoothies, and then we had the Supersaurus Sampler which is a nice presentation, and then I had the Mega Meso Bones and for dessert we just had to have Chocolate Extinction which was better than the Volcano at the RFC. All in all it is a good and fun place to eat if you find yourself at Downtown Disney.

After lunch we entered the World of Disney Store and did some shoppping for gifts for peeps back home and some things for us and I used my Disney Visa card to get the discount. Our friends met up with us and Alana went back with them and we headed back to the GF to rest up for the first of the season and our first MNNSHP ever. The party started at 7 PM so we arrived around 6:15 PM. Before we left home we hit the local Disney Store and bought those huge trick or treat bags for candy gathering. After entering the turnstiles and getting our wristbands, we headed over to Mickeys Toontown after visiting the CoP which was not running tonight because of the party, and were first online when they opened the candy lines at 7 PM. We took the trail over to Tomorrowland filling our bags along the way. Then over to the castle to see the first showing of the Villain's Mix and Mingle hitting all the candy stops along the way. The CMs were very generous dumping loads of candy into our bags. We had a great spot front and center about 10 yards back from the stage. The show was great and then all we had to do was turn around and we were right on the edge of the parade route, back across from the rear of the Partners Statue. The parade was due to begin in 10 minutes. The Boo-to-You parade is fantastic, first with the Headless Horseman coming out and then all the ghouls and ghosts and characters in the finest Halloween attire. This was definitely a high point of the night for us. After the parade we walked over and right into POTC and then we did the Haunted Mansion with no wait. Then it was getting close to the Happy Hallowishes fireworks show at 9:30 PM. So we collected more candy and headed to Main Street for a great spot to view the fireworks.

The spot we chose was the same spot we had chosen for the Pirate and Princess party, back at the beginning of Main Street right near the flag pole. We had a totally unobstructed view and the almost 360 ending of the fireworks was fantastic from there seeing the fireworks over all the Main Street stores. As many know we really aren't late nighters so after the fireworks we just turned around and headed for the launch back to the Grand and retired for the night AFTER sorting out the pounds of candy into chocolate and non-chocolate and putting all the chocolates in the fridge after sampling some lol. Tomorrow was going to be our last full day in WDW and we had the Cabanas booked for the entire day once again. However, Sarah wanted to head back to the World Showcase and finish everything that we had missed when it began to rain the other day so I called and cancelled the Cabanas for the morning slot.


Day 7 - Saturday September 5 - 1900 Park Fare Breakfast, All Day Cabanas Cut In Half, Chef Mickey's Dinner

A not too early wake-up and breakfast with Mary Poppins, Alice, and The Mad Hatter. I really like this breakfast because the Mad Hatter really gets into it with you and if you care to, you can get into it with him as we always do. A few plates of breakfast items and then we retrieved the car from the valet and drove over to the Beach Club and valeted there. A short walk as always, taking the low road by the waterway, over to the International Gateway and at the turnstiles by 10:45 AM. Perfect timing. We entered and instead of just waiting for the rope drop to head to Mexico and work our way back, we walked around toward Future World and through the stores of Showcase Plaza. Arriving at an empty Mexico just past opening, we browsed the stores and then went on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros with no wait. In fact, we had our own boat. After Mexico, over to Norway and a walk-on to Maelstrom passing the Princess Storybook Restaurant knowing full well I was one of the reasons this was opened in 2002 for all the little and big princesses and princes ;-) . We spent a bunch of time in the store taking pics with Sarah and the huge troll to keep with all the pics of her there in her different sizes throughout the years. At China we were just in time for the movie so we watched that again. Mulan was posing for pics outside so Sarah took a couple of photopass pics with her. I bought Sarah a nice little necklace with her name on it in both English and Chinese. Next over to Germany and some browsing through the shops and watching the artisans do their things. Italy was next and we took a look at Tutto Italia which was so empty. It was never like that when it was Alfredo's. Alfredo's was a must do on each trip we took to WDW but we haven't and probably won't eat at this one. We even ate at Alfredo's and still ate at Il Mulino in the past but it just isn't the same feel. Another slight disappointment is the shopping at Italy. Last year we boguht a really nice pocketbook for Sarah and the year before the same but larger for Susan. They both use them always. But to our surprise they don't sell them anymore. We asked the CM's in Italian of course what happened and they said that a lot was changed in the stores. Both Susan and Sarah were sorry becasue they really wanted new bags from there. No show at the American Adventure, just shopping and then a break for some Kaki Gori. Sarah got the whole thing in cherry and Susan and I split a rainbow. We just sat and slowly ate it all and left just a little puddle on the ground ;-). Then through the stores of Japan. Skipping Morocco we went to France and browsed the stores and took some photopass pics of Sarah and me and Sarah alone. Then to the United Kingdom and more photopass pics with Pooh, Tigger, and Eyeore. Finally through the stores at Canada and back out through the Gateway to the Beach Club.

Back at the Grand, we changed and went down to the theme pool and got our cabana. It is only from 3:00 to 7:00 PM for the afternoon slot and since we had Chef Mickey's booked 6:30 PM we only stayed at the cabanas until 5:00 PM. Then back up to the room to shower and change and took the monorail to the Contemporary. We were right on time for dinner and had a ball with the characters. Here too they gave up the prime rib for roast beef but it tasted just fine by me. After dinner the CM brought cupcakes for Susan and me for our anniversary and then we stayed on the 4th floor to shop. We bought some stuff and we bought Sarah a really nice watch, one of those Citizen Mickey Eco-Drive watches which she prouldy wears daily to school. After shopping we brought the stuff back to the room and decided to once again use the Disney Resort Airline Checkin which turned out to be a disaster. So we packed most of our stuff and got ready for our last day at WDW until next year or maybe sooner?


Day 8 - Sunday September 6 - Just Savoring The Magic Before Home

Our flight was scheduled to depart MCO at 2:10 PM. Since one had to have their bags down to the Resort Airline Checkin counter no later than 3 hours before the flight, I figured 8:00 AM would be just fine, making it 6 hours before - so I can't change all that much. I had bell services take the 3 bags down and all went smoothly at the desk. I returned to the room, and then, guess where we ate brekkie today and what I ate? A no brainer, right, the concierge and the usual. Then instead of rushing through a park, remember this was to be a relaxing vacation and it certainly was, Susan and Sarah went out to the beach and sat under one of the beach tent/umbrella thingys and I just sat in the lobby near Park Fare just soaking up the magic, watching all the guests as they enjoyed the magic, and watched all the families enetring and leaving their brekkie with Mary, Alice, and the MH. I must have sit there for an hour and a half while Susan ansd Sarah were outside, and every minute of it was enjoyable, yes even for a type AAA personality like me who can rarely sit still lol. When Susan and Sarah came in, we went up to the room for the last time and grabbed our carry-ons and called for the car. Then we drove to MCO via the same route that we came. We arrived about 11:30 AM and easily passed through all security with no wait after dropping off the car at National - not bad, only $215 for the week. I found us a nice shady and cool area to wait until our friends arrived. Now, on the way down they used their frequent flier miles for 3 of their 4 tickets but could only get 1st class. They didn't have enough miles for 4 1st class tix so Alana sat in the back with us. The same was for the way back. But for the flight home I decided to upgrade all of our seats to 1st class as well, so Susan, Sarah, and I joined the others minus one in 1st class. The flight really got home early, like by half an hour early into La Guardia. Now we waited for our bags and waited and waited and waited. Uh oh, no bags came off. Apparently, our bags were never put on the flight. So since Nat's Limos was waiting for us, we just made arrangements for them to deliver the bags the next day even though it was Labor Day and we went home. There was a bit of traffic because the US Open was going on and we had to pass right by the stadium. Once home I made a few calls back to the GF and spoke with the night manager and he looked into everything and called us back at 10:30 PM and told us all was in order for tomorrow. So Monday morning at 7:10 AM my doorbell rings and there are the bags with the Halloween candy in them so all the magic worked well for us. Of course Susan would have loved to do 7 loads of laundry the night before but now she could do it on Labor Day. I did find out that although magcial Express is 100% Disney, the Airline Resort Checkin Service is not and it is run by a private company and Disney really has nothing they can do for you unless of course you know about the magic and then it happens. I don't think we will use it again even though last year it worked out fine. I have no problems schlepping my bags with me in the car. So when Susan and Sarah woke up they found their bags had arrived and all was back to normall and we all had some MNSSHP candy to celebrate.


Epilogue

Not that one is ever needed after a trip report to the Happiest Place On Earth but it is always nice to summarize ones thoughts. I was told to plan a relaxing vacation and I did. It might appear that the trip was lacking in many things compared to our others but it was exactly what we wanted. I know that usually we do twice to three times as much, but this year this is what was needed. Despite some minor setbacks, Disney stepped up to the plate as always. No need to harp on a minor disappointment here and there when the trip was as magical as any could be. The high school junior school year was exhausting for us all and we needed a trip like this. Now, Sarah said that if she gets into the college of her choice early on, she will take us back to WDW on a spontaneous trip and we will see how that goes. I have no doubts about her getting into that college but.............................;-) . In any case our next trip will be planned soon and I hope you all enjoyed reading more of our adventures in a place all started by a mouse.
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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:55 AM

Glad to hear you had a good trip Howie!
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