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50 years of Magic.............And Then Some

#1 User is offline   Howie 

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 06:51 AM

50 years of Magic.............And Then Some

Cast:
Sarah - 14 - a Disney Princess come of age
Susan - 50 - no more closet for her
Hºoºwie - 53 - Disney magic is his life

Venue:
Disney's Wilderness Lodge - Room 1019

Preface

How does one begin to describe an experience that is just so full of magic? It had been since August 2004, a very special and magical trip, that we had visited the kingdom of the mouse, and it was long overdue for us to be there. The countdown was a long one - real life can be such a detour to soaking in the magic. But the time was here and we were ready to go. Francine had booked the Annual Passholder Rate for us the day it came out for our dates while we were vacationing in Providence/Newport RI - a great rate for a standard room at the WL, and a program that caused much controversy across the Disney internet, but for us it was great and I very vocally stood behind Disney's decision to implement such a program since they are in charge. Did someone say standard? Yes, that was the booked room rate but we will see where we stayed. I booked the auto train once again very early out and got a low rate there as well for the deluxe sleeper with bathroom in the car. Then there was the meet that was planned with administrators, moderators, members and friends of one of the newest and most magical Disney sites on the web. So what am I waiting for? On to the report!


Day 1 - February 11 - Departure Day

Just like the TV commercial - who could sleep the night before one leaves for Disney. It wasn't even necessary to set any alarms since we didn't need to leave very early on a Saturday - no rush hour traffic. The drive from home to Lorton, Virginia is around 240 miles which translates without traffic, the way I drive, to under 4 hours. So we planned to leave at 7:00 AM, and we actually did, right on the nose. Most of the luggage was already packed the nights before - way overpacked as usual despite all intentions to go light - and it was only a matter of placing it in the back of my Jeep. Sarah had chosen her DVD's to watch in the car which can be done independently of our listening to any music or CDs in the front. I readied the new Mickey tow hitch cover to replace the old one which would go down on the autotrain so that in case of any damage on the train Mickey would be bright and fresh once we put him on when we retrieved our Jeep in Sanford. And of course my original Mickey American Flag antenna topper, purchased right after 9/11/01 was still hanging in there and he made his 4th trip to the World! I had even left him on the antenna the day before in the car wash as opposed to safely taking him off so that he could go 'home' nice and clean!

The plan was perfect - no traffic anywhere. We once again made it to the tip of New Jersey and the Delaware Memorial Bridge in 2 hours. Next to Baltimore and the Fort McHenry Tunnel in another hour and then breezing through DC to arrive at Lorton inside of the 4 hour window. I had programmed the GPS Navigation system in my Jeep with the intended route, not that I needed directions but for fun, but I was 'asked' to close it because each time we had to turn or approach an intersection, it very loudly interrupted whatever was on the audio and gave us a command. So I graciously shut it and went on my own.

Sarah watched a Harry Potter movie on the way on the built in DVD player, and Susan and I listened to the entire recording on CD , thanks to LouAnn's Rich, of the lobby music from the WL. I also kept switching to the Baltimore/DC and Orlando traffic and weather stations on my Sirius satellite radio for any updates.

As usual, once in Lorton, we pass by the Amtrak station and head to Gunston Plaza and prepare for lunch at the Polo Grill which has been sort of a tradition now. The autotrain changed its opening time from noon to 11:30 AM but we knew we would be early enough even after lunch to secure a couple of those new digEplayers they offer for on board entertainment. Oh yeah - the 'snow' lol. As we passed through DC it began to snow just a bit and then more in Lorton. We knew there was a huge storm coming but we hoped to depart before any problems.

Lunch was great as usual. I had the calamari and oysters and Sarah and Susan had salads and sandwiches. Then back to the station to check in. Check in was easy and there were no cars or vans before me. We entered the station and it was pretty empty and we rented 2 digEplayers with 3 headphones and 1 splitter so Susan and I could share one and watch the same movie. Only $40 for both which was at the senior citizen discount which they gave me seeing all the gray hairs I guess. I booked the early dinner time, 5:30 PM and now the wait until the 4:00 PM departure and the snow kept getting heavier. They decided to board us early and depart one half hour earlier which was a good idea. So we leave the station at 3:30 PM and we settle back in the sleeper car. Sarah started watching POTC on her player and we watched The Island. This time we wanted to see if Susan and I could sleep together on the bottom and Sarah was thrilled to try and sleep alone on the top berth all strapped in. We finished our movies just in time for dinner and headed to the dining car once they made the announcement. We all tried the chef's special which was Chicken Marsala and it was very good, better than airline food lol. Then dessert and back to our room which we had requested to be turned down into the beds during dinner and it was. We decided to skip the on board movie in the lounge cars since we had our own players and we changed for the night and got ready for the trip. Susan and I actually fit pretty good in the lower berth and we watched Batman Begins on the player while Sarah was in heaven up above with her player. I even had them give me an extra battery just in case one wore out since they only last for about 10 - 12 hours or so. I fall asleep first and then Susan watches some other stuff and Sarah is watching who knows what above, I think Peter Pan.

Day 2 - February 12 - Arrival in Sanford & Checking In Home

We had asked for a 6:00 AM knock on the door but again that wasn't necessary. We are all up and I prepare for that very confining shower which goes better then I thought this time and off to breakfast in the dining car. Before brekkie we push the call button to notify the attendant to make up the room so when we return it is back in the sitting positions. At breakfast we hear that it was a good thing we left Lorton early because they had 15 inches of snow overnight while at home we had over 26 inches. My parents told me that the last record snowfall by us was the year they got married, like 26.4" while this one was 26.10". We were just hoping our roof would hold out lol. The sights outside were wonderful, sun and palm trees, albeit a bit cold, and we knew we would soon be in the magic!!!
Our Jeep took about one half hour to unload and then I switched tow hitches and off we went to the World. Sunday morning on I4 and no traffic at about 10 AM. I was aware of all the new speed traps into WDW so i took it easy and even saw some hidden po pos even close to the entrance gates to the MK but they weren't going to stop the king for anything lol. Now we approach the main entrance gates on World Drive and........................to be continued.

And here we are once again, approaching Timberline Drive preparing to make a right turn and pass through the grand arch toward the Wilderness Lodge looking for the deer we quite often see there. The feeling is only able to be understood by those of us that truly 'get' the magic of Disney and all it represents in our lives. This moment is comprised of both smiles and tears of joy. We stop at the security booth before 11:00 AM and tell the guard that we are checking in and she checks her list and presents us with our yellow parking pass good through February 22, and we head on through toward the grand entrance way. There they are, all the valets and bell persons waiting to assist all the guests coming and going all wearing their traditional WL outfits. We pull right up and unload the car and they wisk the bags away to storage. Next, on to checkin. There are a couple of people ahead of us so we stand with content anticipation knowing we are home and no matter what, we are in the magic. Our first traditional lunch is a 12:50 PM at Crystal Palace after a haircut for me at the Harmony Barber Shop so we are looking good timewise. Now it is my turn and I approach the long counter. Checkin is going smoothly since I had prearranged a king room upgrade with a CM. During checkin I ask the CM if we got a king bed room like I requested and she said that none were available and that no request was seen on her screen. So I very gently schmooze her and she steps in the back room for about 10 minutes and comes back with a smile and says that we are getting a king room and a courtyard king room upgrade at that, but it wont be ready until later. That's the usual, so we head off to the parks. We thought about doing flag family of the day again and they had many days available for us but they conflicted with our early morning brekkies so we passed and left the pleasure for other families.

Now comes the truly magical part of the trip - heading down to the boat dock, passing firerock geyser, and departing for the MAGIC KINGDOM. First we must go to guest relations to exchange the AP vouchers which usually means a wait. However, there was absolutely nobody on line in front of us. Then inside the park, which for this time of day is quite empty, and past the hub to the Harmony Barber Shop. I see Michal inside but not Maura and there is one other blond woman cutting hair there. There are a few people in front of us and since there is plenty of time before our PS at CP for lunch I decide to wait. As we are waiting, in comes Reality and crew, then Buffy and then Abby, Steve and crew. What a wonderful coincidence and surprise!!!!!!!! It is a wonderful reunion and start to the meet we have planned for that night and everyone is chatting away. All of a sudden Michal finishes and leaves for lunch, it was now 12 noon and another barber, Norma, takes his place. Time is getting tight and when I sit in Norma's chair we only have about 25 minutes to get to CP. But I am not worried and I know everything will turn out magical on our first day. I tell Norma to cut it short and she sure does as can be seen from the pics lol. Then, on the advice of Buffy's kids, I choose pink and green mousse and pixie dust for my hair and a green Mickey head for the back of my head and we are off to CP. Since I know the shortcuts we cut through the emporium and all the way back and out of Casey's and get to CP by 1 PM. At the checkin window there is an upset woman who has been waiting too long for her PS and then I give my name, tell the CM we are a bit late because they were running late at Harmony, and i swirl around to show the proof ;-) and I get a smile and a seat 5 minutes later.

Lunch was great and we had a good time with all the CMs and characters and they all had a good time pointing to and talking about my haircut and design. First attraction is up to Sarah and she chooses POTC which was an absolute walk on even at 2 PMish on a Sunday in the MK. As a matter of fact, through the following Tuesday, Feb 21 we found everything to be pretty much of a no wait or walk on and that made us very happy hearing how even days before President's Day would be crowded. I will now say something that all husbands hate to say about their wives but I will say it: I AM SO GLAD I LISTENED TO SUSAN AND BROUGHT A JACKET AND LONG PANTS FOR THE FIRST TIME TO WDW!!!!!!!! It was cold and windy and getting colder over the next 2 days. Then it would climb to the high 70's and low 80's, but for now I was glad to have listened to her and I just might say that again in here somewhere lol. I called the WL and asked if the room was ready and they said yes and it was 1019 so we decided to head back and unpack the 14 bags and get ready for the evening's fun - dinner and a meet.

The CMs on the boat were all bundled up and all the CMs I saw the next couple of days were wearing things I never saw them wear in WDW - warm stuff lol. Back at the WL we head to our room, pass the pin trading cart, down the ramp toward Roaring Forks and then around the corner to the right to the room. It was a large, king bed, handicapped room which gave us more room and a larger shower with no step over. And it was a courtyard view that looked upon the pool. One interesting point is that as soon as we opened up the curtains and opened the sliding balcony doors, 2 ducks approached us very friendly-like. This disturbed me because that meant that the ducks were pretty much conditioned to come to these rooms to be fed and guests should not be feeding these guys since they can develop problems from overfeeding and wrong diets. Throughout our stay as soon as we opened the curtains they came over to the window and actually banged their beaks on the window but except for a few pics we ignored them for their safety. So it looks like the Best Passholder Rate standard room became a courtyard room which was, even at the AP rate was another $550 savings. WTG!!!!!!!!!!!!

We unpack as much as we can., leaving some stuff in the suitcases and then we relax before driving and valeting at the GF for our 6:00 PM dinner and then on to the MK for the Spectromagic meet. Checkin at the podium at Park Fare was smooth and we then took pics with the Fairy G-dmother in the lobby. She was great and loved my hair too. Then into the dining room which was not crowded at all. Cindy was there and so was Prince Charming, Suzy and Perla and they all spent time at our table. Dinner was fabulous at it always is there - i had my prime rib, veggies, pasta, and desserts - and afterwards we took the monorail over to the MK. We made it to the MK with about 10 minutes to meet everyone at the slipper mosaic in the breezeway of the castle. Little by little everyone came, HC, Buffy, Reality and crew, Abby, Steve and crew and SusanP, Claude and crew. It was great meeting everyone and seeing HC again. We all grabbed our cells and called those we promised to call, getting some but unable to reach others. We all passed our phones around so each could speak to those on the other end. Then Spectro was beginning and for some magical reason, after they roped off the entrances to the castle both front and back, we found ourselves right above the front stage with a great and unique view of the parade inside the roped off areas. What a way to start off the trip - a magical meet and a magical view of Spectromagic. After the parade it was so cold and windy we decided to head back to the GF for our car and catch Wishes another warmer night. So we say our goodbyes and head to the monorail and guess what? Since we had to go all around the Seven Seas Lagoon to arrive back at the GF, we got to see Wishes from the monorail!!! Back at the GF, got the car from the valet and then back to the WL for the night. I plug in Sarah's automatic aerobed next to the slding door balcony and have the mousekeeping staff bring up an extra sheet and blanket and she gets cozy for the night. We set it up with Mickey and apparently Stitch to wake us up at 5:30 AM to make our 7:30 PS at Cape May Cafe with Goofy and friends before a full day in MGM and some more magic. Oh yeah, Susan had me wash all the magic out of my hair that night before placing my head on the pillow so all that remained was pics of my 'do' lol. But although the synthetic magic was washed out the real magic stayed and had just begun :-) .


Day 3 - February 13 - Goofy For Breakfast, MGM & Magic Everywhere

We thought Mickey would be waking us up with his usual call at 5:30 AM, but during his wake-up call, which i didn't need since i was up already, Stitch interupts the call and takes over - a very cute addition to the wake-up call. We all get ready, i deflate the aero bed and pack it away and neaten up the room and i call the valet to have the car ready by 6:55 AM. The early morning aroma of the WL's lobby is an incredible array of wonderful things to the senses. We get into the car, get the new color of the day valet tag and head off to the Beach Club for our 7:30 AM brekkie with Goofy and pals at Cape May Cafe. The drive only takes about 9 minutes by car. I found it very interesting that at all of the security booths at the resorts have so many different security protocols to see who you are and where you are going. I guess they are still trying to keep many from just parking for the day at the resorts, but we always parked where we wanted after a question, form of ID or so. We valet and enter the resort and turn right to Cape May Cafe. It isn't open yet so I stand online at the podium and susan and sarah look around the lobby. Then the CM comes over and takes us in first as usual as will be in most of this trip. We get a prime table where the characters start their rounds and hit the buffet. We always loved this brekkie but havent been for a couple of trips due to just scheduling conflicts with other meals. The characters, Goofy, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Pluto come by one by one and since the place is and stays pretty empty they can spend lots of fun time with us and make return trips.

Then we see the CM's approach a table near us with a couple and a little girl and light a cupcake and sing Happy Birthday to the little girl. Susan didnt think they did a magical job so she goes over and begins her rendition of Happy Birthday, Its Your Birthday, Happy Birthday, Birthday To You which everyone is in awe of and the CMs join in with her since it is a more magical version to be sung at Disney. I sang along with her but Sarah got a little embarassed and we had to explain to her that even adults can feel the magic and get into it at WDW and can act like kids and nobody has to be embarassed no matter how goofy we act - just like with my hair lol. We did this at many different meals this trip when the CMs sang birthday songs to someone and they usually joined in with her at least those who remembered the lyrics ;-) lol.

So after brekkie we took the boat over to MGM. Since it wasnt an EMH day there, but at AK, the lines werent long - in fact there were only two medium lines because people didnt understand to look at the outer turnstiles and check for green arrows. So once I see some outer turnstiles with green arrows we slip on down to the right and become first in line and then others follow and do the same. They let us in a bit early but only to the end of the street and to the rope and we are pretty much looking good for RnR which Sarah wants to do first. They 'drop' the ropes and we all follow the CMs slowly in whichever direction we choose and saarh and I and susan are pretty much up front. We make it to RnR first and go right in. Sarah rides and we 'chicken ou't and then over to TOT. Now, by this time we figured TOT would be a wait already, but we walked right into the waiting preshow room. This is what we found pretty much everywhere, no waits, walkons and magic!!!! Next to the GMR which was an experience. We walked right through and got on and then at the end of the ride, after the movie clips, we just sat there for minutes on end. Then they announce there is a problem and we have to exit the cars. This gave us an unexpected although short free backstage tour of the ride. It was better for others buried deep in the ride because they got to walk through so much more of the scenery. Then we toured the park and did everything we could - Voyage, Narnia, pics with poor lonely sorcerer Mickey who was all alone in his studio, the Muppets and more. We had lunch at Mama Melrose's and it was very very good, ran into HC again in the Villains store, did some photopasses and even saw the new stunt show which we walked in to as well. It was cold and windy there up on the bleachers but we enjoyed it just the same.

We had a dinner ressie at Brown Derby but we decided to cancel it and head back to the room and wait for warmer weather to kick in. I was still wearing pants, sweatshirt and my 100 years of magic leather jacker and i was anxiously awaiting for the warmer weather in two more days since they announced the next day would be record cold temps lol. Oh, I forgot about the pin trading. Well, If you recall I mentioned we bought some of those very inexpensive trading pins grab bag - 40 pins for less than $2.00 each. Well they went over great, not one CM had a problem with them and many even loved that many were from the rescuers. Sarah traded them all and got into the CM lanyard pins this time and collected quite of a few of those. She now has a pin collection at home of over 150 pins and is thrilled.

So we take the boat back to the BC, get the car and head back to the WL. We decide on private dining in the room which was excellent, then hang around the resort that night, hit the arcade and just soak in the magic. Yes it is great and magical to be home. Then we have Mickey and Stitch prepare to call us in the AM at 5 because we have a 7:00 AM brekkie at Chef Mickey's and then a full Valentines Day at Epcot.


Day 4 - February 14 - A Full Valentine's Day At Epcot & Almost Record Cold Temperature In WDW

The news reports all talked about today being the coldest day in Orlando history and they were close. They expected the temperature to sink to 28º or so and they were pretty close - it got to about 30º. However, they were excited that all should be fine from then on with the temps rising to 80º!!!!!! for the rest of our 11 day stay. Again, THANK YOU SUSAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mickey and Stitch wake us, or them, at 5 AM, I am already ready to go!!!!!!!!!!!!! I call the car valet and have them get the car ready for our 7 AM brekkie with Chef Mickey. Today's plan was to valet all day at the Contemporary and have breakfast, then all day and evening at Epcot, then the rail back to the Contemporary and then back to the WL, then to PI for the last Sweetheart Night for Valentine's Day. And we actually followed this today in the cold except for the PI part. We all dressed warm as you can see from the pics, and I even wore a sweatshirt under the 100 Years jacket along with those long pants.

Most know that Chef Mickeys starts at 7 AM unlike most other brekkies which start at 7:30 or 8:00. And those that know also know that the crowds start approaching the podium at Chef Mickey's around 6:45 AM or so so the plan is to get their before them all. We get to Chef Mickey's around 6:35 AM and there is nobody to be seen, not even a CM so I am pleased lol. I wait in 'line' and Susan and Sarah window shop back at the shops and then relax in the lounge and watch the TV. The other good news is that when you get seated this early and they take your pics, you usually escape brekkie before the photogs come over and harass you to but the pics lol. All went according to plan and we were seated first after the pics right where the characters begin at the tables closest to the Concourse Steakhouse. The line had grew all the way back past the entrance to the steakhouse. Great food and character interaction as always. We planned to leave as soon as possible because Epcot is early opening at 8 AM and we want to get to Soarin as soon as we can since we have not yet experienced it. All is going well and we take the monorail to the TTC and then get ready to board the next monorail to Epcot and time is looking great!!!!!!!!!!!! Problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Due to the cold weather, we and the CMs imagine, one monorail is stuck somewhere along the track and they needed the pusher car to remove it. Ahhhh!!! now we realize why we saw the pusher car above our heads while we were in Chef Mickey's having brekkie. I thought it was cool to see it but I didnt put 2 and 2 together at that point. Now it all makes sense - they had to go and get that stalled monorail. So we wait about 10 - 15 minutes and we are chatting with all the CM's and Sarah trades some CM pins with them. We also arrange to ride up front in the monorail to Epcot so all isnt a total loss. We even get the pilot cards when we exit. And although I wanted to get to Epcot before the 8 AM opening time we arrive about 8:05 so we still are looking great. There are no lines and Epcot looks quite empty while we scoot between the Legacy tiles making our way toward Innoventions and then toward The Land and Soarin. We make it to Soarin and there is only a 10 minute wait so we get fast passes for a second ride which is only about 20 minutes away, which means we can do it twice in a row!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The ride was wonderful and it is a wonderful treat for the senses. We exit and go right around again and ride once more in a better row where there are no feet dangling above us, not that the feet bothered us at all. Next we head over to the Living Seas and play around waiting for the first show of Crush and we get in there too. It is really a great show for the kids although it is obvious how it works but it still is fun. Then over to Imagination and a walkon there and then into Image Works for some fun and some emailed pics. We skip Honey, I Shrunk and go over to the other side and Sarah walks on Mission Space too. Test Track was supposed to open today but it didnt so we will catch it another day this trip. We spend some time in Mouse Gears and Club Cool and even Innoventions looking for the Visa Meet and Greet which doesnt open until 1:30 PM and then we head to the World Showcase. Our lunch at the San Angel Inn is for 12:30 so we have time to check stuff out first.

I must say that there is nothing like an empty or practically empty park at WDW. The amount of magic that one can accomplish is magnified exponentially when there are no crowds and lines and we did just that!! Maelstrom was a walkon and so was El Rio Di Tiempo. We waited only 5 minutes for our table for lunch and it was great. I had the Chef's Suggestion which was a steak and it was definitely a good suggestion!!!!!!!!!!!!! Next meal was Alfredo's for dinner and that is one of our favorites for many reasons, one of them being Laurent the manager there. Next we thought we would go see the American Adventure and we timed it right and got right in and it was 1/2 to 3/4 empty. We passed through most of the pavilions' stores and stayed and watched and sang along with The British Invasion embarassing Sarah once again and we even saw HC sitting way up front in the first row but didnt want to interfere with anyones view so we didnt walk up and say hi this time. Then into the shops for pics with Mary and the Penguin, Pooh and all and then to France for more pics and all with Photopass.

Now we thought we would go back for the Disney Meet and Greet and took a Friendship Boat across. That meet and Greet was empty and we got right in and it was a photopass too with group shots with the characters and you can see the pics on out photopass site. We also received a free 5 x 7 print for this separate from the photopass deal, just for the Visa deal. Then we walked on Spaceship Earth and Sarah traded some pins at the pin station and we walked on everything until we felt it was time to head back around to Italy for dinner.

Dinner is always great for us at Alfredo's. We love the food and I get a chance to talk and sing in Italian - no I am not Italian but most know that I lived and studied and earned my degree for Veterinary Medicine in Italy in 1982. And since I have not gone back yet I always look forward to Italian restaurants to practice my Italian. So we checkin at the podium and I do it all in Italian and the CM is very impressed how I speak - i still so speak well, better then i seak english, gramatically and all lol. She asks if susan and sarah speak it and i tell her no although sarah will take italian next year in school. Then I see Lauent, the manager there who is actually French but lives in Italy. I ask him how long he is there and he is going on 6 years and then only 2 more and he goes home. Of course he goes home for visits but he will finish his working there for good soon. Then the CM tells me that there are many inside who can help my daughter with Italian and i say i know but only the girls can teach her and she gets it and and we laugh lol. Dinner was fabulous as always and the accordion player was going around to the tables and every so often he did his rendition of funiculi funicula and everyone sang along and waved they napkins like at Chef Mickeys. Then at our table we spoke in Italian and I asked him if he knew my favorite pop song from my days in Iataly - Mare Nero by Lucio Battista. He was surpised i knew it and he played it and i sang it for everyone and sarah taped it. He even called over some of the others to see me singing this old hit. We had a great time and then left to catch the last ship across before illuminations. We wanted to leave and rest up and head to PI. But once back at the Contemporary getting the car we decided it was a full day and it was cold so we skipped that and went back to the WL for the night.
Tomorrow the day was going to start out at my girls place for brekkie and i wanted to be ready. It was for the new package and i was curious after reading many negative reviews about it but i knew there would be magic. We planned for the morning in the MK and then head to France for lunch and then DD for shopping. We had a lot of gifts to but and i wanted to get that AP 10% discount down there ;-) lol. Since we had an 8:10 at Cindys we had Mickey and Stitch plan to call us at 6:30 AM - a late break for susan and sarah.

Day 5 - February 15 - Breakfast With Cindy, Still Walk-On City, DD & An RFC Volcano

Things were different this trip in the sense that I didnt plan all the breakfasts and parks around the early opening park of the day. I thought that since we were going to be here during an empty time for 11 days we would still get to see everything we wanted with no waits - that is called compromising with the wife lol. Now I didnt say we wouldnt be commando touring in our own way and getting up early each day but there was just no need to double dip this trip with extra early rising and the early park of the day.

Today was an early breakfast with my other other half - Cinderella - at her newly changed breakfast. I had read some not so positive reviews about her new brekkie which i doubted since i always have faith in disney that the magic will always prevail. So Mickey and Stitch do their thing early and we take the early character bus from the WL instead of waiting for the boat which sometimes hangs you up for the first early trip, and we did want to be........................guess what....................first again. The MK opened today at 9:00 AM so only the breakfast people, Cindys and CP and maybe the magical gatherings at Tonys would be their so early. We arrive at the MK via our own empty disney bus by 7:20 AM and their is one family already there but they are only using one of the two green arrowed turnstiles so we are happy. Their kids are little and from our conversations they are there for their first trip with the kids. It is one of their daughters birthdays and she is all dressed up as a princess. They are also talking with a CM and the CM discovers that it is the birthday and suggests they stop at City Hall for the button. When the CM leaves i give them better info - to skip the button first thing so as not to be late to Cindys and just to tell the podium it was a birthday since they can do magical things on short notice at Cindys and then get the button afterwards. Little did i know that susan and sarah were planning for me even though my birthday wasnt until the 25th. I also gave the family some more helpful tips and then they get ready to open the turnstiles for us. I must say that i am so proud of sarah for so many things but her desire to follow in her dadda's footsteps as a walt disneyworld maven is incredible. She went first and left her AP for me to take from the turnstile. Then the next thing i see she is halfway up main street all alone. She gets to the castle a good 7 minutes before us and a good 10-12 minutes before everyone else - we old folk dont do bad either in the magic ;-). We were even there before Cindy downstairs who then comes out and we get some great pics for the all inclusive package. Then we are taken first upstairs and get a window table for brekkie right where the princesses start their rounds.

Breakfast was as good as ever, the food is the same and served the same pre-plated way and they bring you as much as you want of any and everything for seconds. I wanted more blintzes and she brought me more by themselves. Then she comes over and dusts the table with birthday pixie dust and i get a cupcake and a song and susan chimes in with her own version and since this is an experienced CM she knows it and sings along. Apparently part of sarah's rush was to beat me there and set things up and she did fine. I noticed that the table with the little birthday girl was not getting attention so i told our server to mention it to their server and while we were leaving the pixie dust was heading their way too. So my review of the new style at Cindys - GREAT GREAT GREAT!!!!!!!!!!! Yes they raised the fee but you get some great momentos(we didnt get the little kids wand or sword but the pics are great). And believe it or not the place was hardly full - there was practically nobody seated up on either side tiers. But for us it was as magical as ever and i have no complaints at all. I cant understand some of the negative comments i saw online - oh wait - yes i can, but thats not for this report lol.
After breakfast we practically had the MK to ourselves. The rope was still up and we waited right by Tinks Treasures so sarah could wake Tink up. But she decided to do Splash instead and and told the family next to us to go and wake Tink and they had never heard of it so they were thrilled to get the chance. We turned around and headed to the rope at Frontierland and there was nobody there yet either since the park hadnt officially opened yet. We spoke with the CMs who were mostly from the Haunted Mansion and one was from NY and he sure missed NY bagels he said lol. Then we head over to Spalsh on a slow walk behind the walking CMs and some tried to cut by sarah but she knew what to do and we still got there first. She kept shifting to the side that would be just a few feet closer to Splash so that when we arrived, that few feet she gained, put us first through the queue. We had the front of the first car with just one father and son behind us. Now today it was supposed to warm up to 80º but that was later. At 9:00 AM it was still cool and we got soaked. We almost didnt but as we passed through the last past of the ride, one car was dropping down the big drop and that shot of water covered us. No biggie - cold wet water doesnt ruin the magic ever. Sarah wants the pic this trip so we get it and then we go and do the Haunted Mansion - another walk-on. Then to Mickey's Philharmagic and Dumnbo which sarah didnt ride but susan and i did and we have some great pics sarah took. We rode Peter Pan with no wait and then sarah wanted to do Buzz and Space mountain. No wait on Buzz and although Space had a 5 minute wait basically to board the cars and we were in the back about 60 people back i was listening to the CMs. So when they asked if there was a single rider i raised my hand and sarah went through the line and susan and i went through the chicken exit and waited. I explained to sarah this is why we always must be aware of everthing around us at all times, not just at WDW but in life in general because things could happen that one needs to hear. Then we decided to go to Downtown Disney so we took the boat back to the WL and got the car.
We had a lot of gifts to buy for new babies and birthdays and i was looking this trip for things for me too. We did a load of buying in the World of Disney and i even got one of the new 50 years of magic watches - no not that beautiful $2500 one, just the $65 one although susan gave me the green light for the expensive one if i wanted. Then we checked out most of the other stores and made our way to the RFC. We had canecelled out lunch at Chefs d'France and decided to have a snack at the RFC. So we head over to the bar under the mushroom where you never have to wait, not that with my Safari Club card i would have had to wait anyway ;-) , and we ordered a volcano!!!!!!!!!!! It was delicious and then we walked a bit more and then headed back to the WL and decided to skip dinner at the Artists Point and took in private dining. I had the ribs and they were fantastic. I guess i am getting old and sickly because i really cant keep up those continual 14 hour days in the parks and 3 full meals a day but i have absolutely no complaints at all and it is all magical at any pace.
Tomorrow was an early morning brekkie at Boma and then plans to spend the day at the AK and have our chance to ride Expedition Everest so we alert Mickey to wake us up at 5:30 AM once again.

Day 6 - February 16 - Boma, AK, EE, Another Good Soaking and Not A Shulas Steak!!!!!

Today was a day of anticipation for months on end - we were going to get our chance to ride Expedition Everest if it was operating and from what i had heard it was up and running almost every day. Mickey and Stitch did their usual and we headed over to the AKL by car to arrive early for our 7:30 AM breakfast at Boma. We arrived early and this security gate guard upon hearing that we had a PS at Boma gave me a 3 hour parking pass?????? I just drove up to the valet and left the car with him and as usual he said to leave th car with them as long as we wished. Oh, i have said this before in other reports and ill say it again - i always tip the valets both ways 'to insure proper service'. Now into the AKL and down to Boma. It is only about 7:10 now and the CM says they will be open shortly - nobody else is in sight. So they hand us a pager and at 7:29 it goes off and they seat us in the actual Boma part of the restaurant, well not actually outdoors like a true Boma but it has that look to it, way in the back in a large bay window type area so that you are surrounded by tall reeds and such. Breakfast was great and we finished up and took the Disney bus over to the AK which opened at 9:00 AM. Again we were first on line and had some wonderful interactions with the CMs. The Donalds breakfast people were the only ones allowed in but they soon allowed us to enter after the opening ceremonies and we headed over toward the rope drop. That is where the characters come and do another opening ceremony from the jeep. I saved all my energy for this one and once they allowed us to go sarah and i took the lead with a fast walking style. We were way ahead of susan and the others until some kids started to run by us - not fair not fair but we still made that very long trek to EE, me almost needing oxygen, and got there and had no wait at all. We didnt even wait for susan since whe wanted us to do it first and report to her, grabbed some fast passes for the next ride only a few minutes away and headed into the very short queue. The exhibit is wonderful and we took our time exploring it all since it was still pretty empty there. Then we made it to the air gates and sarah and i got on and waited for the beginning. We both loved it and sarah was ready to do it again. Susan was waiting in the shop for our report for her before she rode it and i told her, knowing her and her likes and dislikes that it wouldnt be for her especially the backwards part. She thanked me for not tricking her and even though i thought it was great, due to certain physical conditions that i have acquired i didnt think it would would prudent for me to go again so sarah went alone after we all used to fast passes to do the queue so susan could experience it and she was fascinated by that part. Then sarah rode and we exited and waited for her in the shop. Unfortunately the photo op isnt up and running yet but when it goes online it should be another great addition to the ride. Next on to Kali and we all three rode that. Sarah and i got so soaked that we had to buy new clothes, princess panties and all for her at the Outfitters while i just trudged along with wet shorts lol. There is a pic that sarah took of my wet backside in her group of pics. We then headed over to Dinoland to make an important call.

As many of you know sarah had applied to 2 different high schools and the letters of acceptance were scheduled to be mailed out on February 15. Since we would be away then, i called and asked the headmasters assistant if there was anyway that i could call in after that date to inquire about sarah's acceptance. I told her i wasnt looking for any inside info but since we would be away and those that choose to attend the schools have to notify them by march 6 and sarah wanted to sit in on a school day when we get back, it would be more convenient to hear while we were away then to wait until we get home and rush things. She had no problem with it and i called her from dinoland up and away from the triceratops spin where they have that large dinosaur on display, not sue but the full version of a smaller one. Well i got her on the phone and she told me to hold on then came back and said 'congratulations'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were all thrilled even though we werent really surprised but the anticipation was over. I thanked her and told her that all the dinosaurs in the AK thank her too and she asked me to bring one back for her so she is getting a nice big dino from the store there ;-) . And in sarah's pics is a nice one i took of her standing next to the dinsoaur to mark the time we called and got her acceptance. We set up next friday for her visit at the school and that is where she will be going, the North Shore one which is building that new building. When we got home both letters of aceptance from both schools were there.

Next Sarah rode primeval whirl a couple of times with no wait and we even played some midway games and won a couple of plush dinos. Over to Bugs Life and right in as soon as we walked the queue. We went over to Camp M & M and just looked around, did loads of photopasses all over and then decided to leave AK around 2:00 PM or so and went back to the AKL, got the car and went back to the WL. We had another entire day planned at AK including an early Donalds brekkie so we didnt want to do to much today. We just relaxed a bit at the WL and then prepared for the Yachtsmans Steakhouse for dinner. Normally i would have chosen Shulas for my big steak night but since we had the DDE card i thought i would take advantage of it when i could. So we took our car over to the YC. The restaurant was great although they didnt offer the 48oz steak but what they had was sufficient - i did have their huge porterhouse and it was fine. The entire meal was great and we then looked around the shops a bit and headed back to the WL for the night.

Tomorrow was a 'late' day, an 8:00 AM brekkie at WCC in our hotel and then off to the MK and then to escape to Epcot before the security shut down for President Bush at the Contemporary. Mickey was notified for a late call and we hit the sack while wacthing the Olympics once again.

Day - 7 - February 17 - MK & Epcot Still Walk-ons, Pink Panther At DD's AMC 24
Finally, a morning to sleep later or so one would think. We had plans to eat in our hotel at the Whispering Canyon Cafe at 8:00 AM and then head over to Epcot for a leisurely afternoon with lunch at Marrakesh and then dinner at Nine Dragons. But who could really sleep late in WDW with magic bursting all around you? So Mickey and Stitch called at 6:30 AM to wake the already up family in 1019 and we got ourselves together. Then a short stroll to breakfast and an all you care to eat Canyon Skillet for moi with some OJ and chocolate milk to wash it all down. After breakfast we took the boat over to the MK as opposed to going right to Epcot. Today President Bush was to attend an evening fund-raiser at the Contemporary Convention Center and we decided to do the MK in the morning and then skiddaddle before the seven seas lagoon area was locked down. And we had heard that from 4 PM until 7 PM the monorails and boats that service the area around the Contemporary would be stopped for security reasons so we altered our original plans to get a look-see.

The MK was still walk-on city that day. We did Dumbo again with practically no wait, then we waited right up front for Cinderellabration - the show was absolutely fanatastic!!!! Next over to Tomorrowland for some fun and then to Toontown where we waited online to see my princesses and the pics can be seen a little while longer at my photopass site. I dont think too many men hang with them like i did but that is part of the magic, right ;-) lol? We did some shopping in the Hall of Fame's County Bounty and then took the railroad over to Frontierland. Another walk-on at POTC and then right into Hall of Presidents. Now we got back on our original plan since it was approaching 2:00 PM and we wanted to get out of the area before the lock down.

We take the boat back to the WL and i tell sarah to watch as we pass the narrow area by the Contemporary and if she sees anyone in a dark suit looking around it will be Secret Service securing the area. She doubted me but soon realized that i knew what i was talking about. As we passed the narrowest area, with the bank of the Contemporary property to our left, there, standing in the 80º temperature in a dark suit and waving to the boat was a very big man just standing on the shore all by himself. Now, i wonder who he was ;-) lol. Then we saw the Disney K-9 patrol driving up to the back entrance in two vans. We are now back at the WL and we get the car from the valet and head over to Epcot via the Beach Club valet. We stroll a bit through the WS and then to FW and take the single riders line at Test Track with only a 5 minute wait or so. Then we go to Mouse Gears and shop and pin trade and discover a neat feature for you pin traders. Every day at 5:00 PM for a half hour at the north entrance to the store, there is a special pin trading board event. The CMs place a huge board covered with a cloth. They give you 15 seconds after they uncover the board to pick out 2 pins that you like from the hundreds that are stuck on the board. And all you do is trade them any 2 of yours that you want. They have some great CM pins there and some plain ones and you dont have to choose if you dont see any you like. And let me tell you - the 15 seconds is a very short time to peruse them all but Sarah did fine and got 2 nice pins for her cheapies lol. Next we went back to the WS to have dinner at Nine Dragons and Sarah and Susan learned how to eat with chopsticks. I ate my entire meal with them and Susan and Sarah gave it a good go and did very well for first timers.

After dinner we went back to the BC by foot and got the car and went to DD because we had promised sarah we would see the Pink Panther while here. Our AP's gave us a $2 per ticket discount at the AMC 24 PI and we had a great time. The movie is very slapstick funny although i doubt the 'usual' high brow critics liked it. Steve Martin is the perfect actor/comedian to play Inspector Clouseau and we laughed throughout the movie. When the movie was over we headed back to the WL and picked up some pints of ice cream at the mercantile and headed to the room. Tomorrow was an 8:00 AM brekkie at Donalds and we wanted to get there early to be first so we could then break out into the park for some more magic. So we arranged with Mickey to call us at 5:30 AM so we could leave the room by 7:00 AMish for the drive to the AK.


Day 8 - February 18 - Donald's Breakfast, Walk-ons At AK, RFC For Lunch, Front Row At Fantasmic & A Carriage Ride Around POR

Today was going to be another glorious day weather-wise and of course magic-wise - aren't they all. After the first three cool days, each day topped off at about 80º and this one was not going to be different. We got the call as usual and then retrieved the car and headed over to the AK. Today was our day to get in the park early since last time the breakfast people got in before us - no biggie, but you all know how i love to be first in any disney park lol. And first we were, arriving around 7:10 AM at the turnstiles. We had some nice conversations with the CM's, one was from upstate NY and we talked about the snow, and then they let us in and we followed the path to Dinoland with sarah heading up the lead. The park was opening at 8:00 AM that day so they also let everyone else in to the first rope but they had to wait for the character opening ceremony while we scooted around to the right. Sarah checked in for us at the podium at Donald's and we had our pic taken which is on photopass. We were seated right inside the door to the left and the CM advised us that if we wanted to quickly get some food we should hurry because the characters would be coming around soon. He didn't need to tell me a thing because i was up and heading toward the buffet as he was saying his spiel. Then once we all had our plates Donald made his way over to us first and then came the rest of the gang. This is the only character breakfast i have ever been to where they do try and rush you but i never let anyone rush me and we did our thing and then headed out. We went right to Dinosaur which was totally empty and we went right in. Then we crossed the bridge to Asia and walked by Flights of Wonder which wasnt open yet and then to the Safari which was also a walk-on. We even asked to sit up front and that wasnt a problem and we chatted with the CM driver/guide. Next we walked the gorilla trail, went to Rafikis by train and then back by train and over to the Flights of Wonder show. Everything was perfect - no waits, great weather and magic galore!!!!!!!!! We had lunch at the RFC which was as entertaining as ever. Next we went over and walked into the Lion King show since they needed to fill some seats just before the start of the show. And then back to the hotel for a break.

We were supposed to have dinner at Boatwrights and then take the carriage around the resort since we were planning to stay there on our next trip and we had never been there. But we were full from brekkie and lunch so we cancelled dinner and took the car over to MGM to try and catch the first show of Fantasmic that night. Since our luck was running great i figured we would get decent seats even an hour before the show and dontcha' know it - the magic was working overtime that night. We parked at MGM took the tram to the gates and then i told susan and sarah to, as Steven Tyler says. 'walk this way' and they zig-zagged behind me through the streets and we made it to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at about 6:10 PM for the 7:00 PM show. The theater was getting pretty full but as usual the first 5 or 6 rows up front all around were totally empty, everyone fearing the dreadful soaking that they hear one might get(that rarely happens ;-) ). So we grab the front row center, right opposite good old dragon mountain with a clear and unobstructed view of everything. Only the separated benches at the rail were occupied in front of us but we were sitting in a space between them so nothing was in our way. Great seats and a marvelous show and maybe just a mist of water only once if that.

Now we have to make it to POR for our 8:30 carriage ride and i know we will. We quickly walk out and zig zag our way back to the front gate and take a tram to the car and head to POR and make in with plenty of time to go. Susan had to buy that Mickey bag you see in some pics because her Mary Poppins carpet bag from ther GAP broke that night and she needed something. So we buy one in the strore there and go outside and wait for our ride. The horse's name was Luke and he took us on a nice tour of the resort. It was very lovely and reminded us of our stays in New Orleans the two times we were there. The night was perfect around 65º and we took pics with Luke after the ride and left for the WL.

This was our 7th night at WDW and so far even though it was a bit chilly the first 3, this trip was so full of magic and wonder that.................................well you all know and no 'splain' to you good disney-lovin' folk :-). Tomorrow was supposed to be an 8:05 AM at Crystal Palace but susan said to cancel it, not to call Mickey to wake us up and to be real quiet in the morning knowing i am up early as to not wake her and sarah - she wanted to REST. So tomorrow was going to be a late(yeah right) start and a spontaneous dose of magic for us.

Day 9 - February 19 - Change Of Plans, Relaxing At The VWL & Private Tour Of The GF

As I wrote previously, I was 'asked' to cancel the 8:05 AM at CP and keep quiet in the morning so my princesses could get some needed rest. Originally, the day was planned to have brekkie at CP, spend a little time in the MK, head to DD for the shops, have 'lunch' at Ghirardelli's with that 2 for 1 sundae coupon i posted a link to for everyone way back when, and then have dinner at Chef Mickey's at 7:00 PM. But that was changed as of last night so we just lounged around the WL in the morning, walked next door to the Villas at WL and set up an hour massage and half hour foot reflexology for me and a facial for susan at the Sturdy Branches health club. I am not at liberty to discuss what sarah did ;-) lol. We got great times together in the late afternoon so we were all set. Now what to do for breakfast? I suggested that we drive over to the Dolphin and try Fresh since i read such great reviews about it. So we get the car from the valet and drive the 9 minutes or so to the Epcot Resorts Area. I was wondering where to park since they do not accept the WDW valet card and although i knew they validate the valet parking at dinner i wasnt sure about for brekkie. So i thought i would self-park at the Swan which was always gratis in the past and a shorter walk to the hotel the to park in the massive Dolphin lot. Lo and behold it is all gated now and you have to pay. So we drive to the Dolphin and the same thing - a gated self parking lot and $8 to park 'on the way out' ;-) . We decide to do it and walk in to the Dolphin and go downstairs to the restaurants. The lobby was packed with a load of conventioneers and i saw their badges said they were all from Chick-fil-a. I figured it was some kind of fast food place or franchise restaurant thing but there are none near us. Anyway, over to the podium and only about a 10 minute wait at Fresh. It was a very nice breakfast buffet with some very interesting and different flavors to it. We were there for a late brekkie and they were changing over and preparing for lunch and that looked even better. Oh, at the podium i mentioned that i knew they validated parking for our dinners at Shulas there and i was wondering if they did so for breakfast. Guess what, they do and i should have valeted but they stamped the ticket and we didnt pay for parking - a good tip to know.
Susan at breakfast now hit me with a big shocker - she started telling me how much she always loved the WL and she knows how much we all love the WL and this was our 6th stay at the WL...........................okay so what's up? Then she said that i have spoiled her so in life, not that anything is wrong with the WL, but next time and for all future visits when we come to WDW she can only stay at the GF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I told her that i could live with that ;-) and when would she like to go next ;-)? I asked her if she wanted to stay in the Honeymoon Turret 4421 again and she said it wasnt necessary but since that is the only room we have ever stayed in there on both our trips there, she needed to see what the other rooms are like, but only in the main building. What more could i ask for :-) . So i tell her ill take care of it and since we have nothing planned until later at the health club i could drive over to the GF and have them show us around the concierge floors and see what else they have - they couldn't refuse the king could they lol. On to the GF and at the security gate i just tell the guard the truth that we are at the WL, have stayed at the GF before and want to look into our next stay there again. He sends us right through to the valet and then i wait online at the guest services desk. There is a CM working the line seeing what everyone is waiting for before they get to the desk and when she, Ashley, gets to me, i explain it all to her. In the meantime susan is looking around the lobby at the lamps since she is interested in new lamps for home and some of the styles on the tables are just what she is looking for. But they are all attached and she cant lift them up to see the manufacturer. So when Ashley comes back with good news that she can take us up to the concierge floors and see some rooms, susan also asks about the lamps. Ashley gave us her card and susan has to call her after a while to find out the name of the maker. And then we are headed up to the 3rd flloor. We look at both a regular concierge and a deluxe concierge. The deluxe is right next door to our 4421 turret, it is 4422 so that is the one we decide upon for our next trip - 4422. It has 2 queens and a nice sitting area. It is not as large as 4421 but it will do just fine. We spoke with Ashley for a while and then left back for our dates at Sturdy Branches.

We valeted by us and went up to change into something more comfortable and headed over to the VWL. I went in first since my appointment was a little sooner and i had a wonderful hour and a half massage and reflexology. When it was over i told the CM to tell susan and sarah that i went back to the room. They, i mean, susan finished up and they came back to the room a little later. I felt so relaxed and invigorated. I just wanted to lay there all night BUT Chef Mickeys was on the agenda and that took precedence. On to Chef Mickeys and something interesting happened while i was waiting on the buffet line. I was on the left and some guy was on the right line and we met in the middle both waiting for some prime rib. He kept looking at me and my badges and asked me if i was Tour Guide Mike lol. I explained that i wasnt and i had no clue why he thought that. I have seen his site and i dont think i look like him although i bet i know as much about the ins and outs of WDW as he does ;-) . Dinner was great as usual there and then we shopped and bought some stuff in the stores, unfortunately without the AP discounts like at DD, and then we went back to the htoel for the night. Tomorrow was an 8:30 AM brekkie at Park Fare and then we planned to spend some time right after breekkie in the MK. But here was magic to be made tomorrow that i wasnt aware of and........................you'll see the magic of disney tomorrow for yourselves.

Day 10 - February 20 - The King Gets His & Magic In The Magic Kingdom

Okay, the plan for today was breakfast at Park Fare at 8:30 AM, valet the car there for the day, monorail over to the MK for the morning, then monorail over to Epcot for lunch at Le Cellier and then Jiko for dinner. Wow it does seem that our plans always center around meals, doesn't it, i wonder why? Mickey and Stitch wake them, not me, not needed, at 6:00 AM and off we go. We pull in to the GF and valet the car and we are about 40 minutes early for our PS but we decide to go there right away anyway. The valet actually asks me how long i will be leaving the car and i tell him after brekkie we will head to the MK. He just says to leave it as long as i like and we then go inside. Now usually i am the one to check in at the podium but susan and sarah raced ahead of me this time. I wasn't really concerned since i was moving slow by now with my knee not being 100% after the surgery and after 10 days walking the parks, so i didnt ask them to wait and didnt question why they were so far ahead. Then i get in and i see what looks like a concerned look on susan's face at the podium. I move over to see whats up and she says to just go and wait with sarah and take some pics with mary poppins. I still didnt catch on yet and since my birthday wasnt for another 5 days and i told them i didnt want to make any big deals at WDW about it. I didnt put 2 and 2 together. So we get seated and susan tells me the problem is that they didnt have my PS listed. Now i know that is next to impossible and i started to go over and ask what the problem was but she insisted just to enjoy breakfast. So as usual i dont even sit and i go to the buffet and load up a plate. When i return to my table susan and sarah are there and at my place is a disney birthday pin and the area is covered with pixie dust. They got me big time. I thought that was it and when i see 2 CMs at the other end of Park Fare with a birthday cake i figure it is for the big group on that side of the room with little kids. So i start eating and then from behind comes the 2 CMs with the cake, Alice, Pooh and Tigger. The CMs place a gold crown on my head like the one King John wears from Robin Hood and everybody sings to me. The characters are great and susan and sarah are so thrilled that they got the king who usually never misses a cue and i had no idea!!!! It was great surpise and i wore the crown the rest of the morning. The problem at the podium was that we were half an hour early and the cake wasnt there for us yet but they took care of it just the same. Breakfast was wonderful as usual and then we didnt know what to do with the cake since it is one of those large white chocolate mousse ones they made special for me. So instead of going over to the MK by rail we decided to take the car back to the WL, put the cake in the fridge in our room, it just fit, and then take the boat to the MK. And that is what we did. We got the car from the same valet who asked if everything was okay. We valeted back at the WL and put things away and then over to the MK.

We still got to the MK pretty early and it was not crowded at all even though it was Presidents Day Monday. Everything was still a walk-on and our first stop was Splash and we walked right in and got a log. Then we did Small World, checked out Poohs Playground, rode the carousel, and more. I almost forgot to write that on the way in i decided to get me a birthday button since they celebrated my birthday at brekkie and it would be okay this time. And it sure was okay. As we walked toward Splash an older CM saw my button and badge and said Happy Birthday Howie and she told me to choose any pin on her lanyard. I wasnt wearing a lanyard so i was just pinning things on my shirt. Everywhere we went the CMs were wishing me a Happy Birthday by name. It was so Disney-magical at its finest!!! More walk-ons and then we decided to spend some time on Main Street in the stores. The Main Street Actors were going at it and i knew once they saw my birthday button they would have at me so i moved in closer and Beatrice Starr caught a glimpse of it and called me over. There i was in the middle of them all and they were really having a good time with me and i loved it. Then as we were about to move on, Scoop came over. What he did for us was incredible. He told sarah to trade a pin with him from his lanyard, they were all mystery pins, turned around so all you see is the pin back. You just pick one and trade and hope it is a good one He holds pin trading lectures and events in thr MK every day so he knows
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#2 User is offline   Howie 

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 06:54 AM

Sarah chose one and then he said that today was her lucky day because he had a twin to that pin on his lanyard and if she goes again, still only having to trade her one pin from the first trade, and she selects the twin she gets to keep both and then choose a third pin. She chose one and he winked and basically led her to the twin. So she now got 2 for one, both the same but got to choose another and she got a nice CM pin. Then he told me to go and use one of sarahs twins since she had two of the same. So i choose one and then he says, today is my lucky day because he has a twin to that one too. So he leads me to the twin and then i get a third pin. Then he says 'and for your birthday you get a special pin as well' and he reached in and pulls out a very nice Mickey Christmas pin. He asks if i like it and i tell him it is nice but we are Jews lol. So he digs in again and pulls out a special pin - a CM E-ticket series pin in pink which matched my shirt that day. He was great and we wound up getting for sarahs 1 pin, 6 pins. And the entire time he stayed in character. Now that was disney magic. How anyone complains about their trips to WDW is incredible!

Then we leave the MK and take the boat back to the hotel, skipping both lunch and dinner and susan wants to pack a bit. And of course we wanted to see 24 on Fox so we spent the evening at the hotel. Tomorrow was going to be last full day at WDW and the plans, subject to change and they were going to be, were brekkie at Cape May again at 7:30 AM, lunch at Artists Pallete at saratoga springs to check out the place and then dinner at Boma. There would be some changes, but hey, change is good when it is from one bit of magic to another bit of magic ;-).


Day 11 - February 21 - Easy Does It, Shopping For Me, Ghirardellis Finally & Photopass Galore

Our last full day begins on a lazy note. I was outvoted to get out early and we cancelled our 7:30 AM breakfast at Cape May Cafe. We took it easy and just headed over to MGM by car to get some more photopass ops. MGM was the park we had the least shots from so we thought we would return and just see how things were going there. Today was the first day that there were actually crowds in a park and it didnt bother us because we had done everything we had wanted to do with no crowds and today was a day to just soak up the magic. We walked all over the park and wherever there was a photopass person we stopped and took pics. Then down Sunset Blvd we walked over to TOT not to ride but just to get some pics. I wanted to point something out to susan and sarah about fastpass. I wanted to show them how on busy days like this the fastpass return times were many hours ahead of the now time due to the heavy volume. Then more disney magic occurred.

As i pointed to the TOT fastpass sign and i said, 'look, see how many hours from now the wait is' a family walked by and heard me and assumed we were wanting to ride and were disappointed and they asked if we wanted their 3 fastpasses because they were leaving and they were for right now. I told him thanks but we werent riding but sarah looked at me and i changed my tune and told him thanks, i guess we will lol. Just another example of Disney magic that happens between guests and not just between CMs and guests. So we rode, or sarah did, and we took the chicken elevator down. Now we headed out of the park to Downtown Disney once more. We parked right by the World of Disney and went right over to an empty Ghirardelli. The coupon i had said you can get 1 sundae free with the purchase of 1 sundae OR 1/2 price off the cost of one sundae. I asked if we could get The Earthquake for half price but they said that wasnt included. Oh well, i settled for a banana spilt and susan and sarah got sundaes and 1 of ours was free.

Now back to shopping and i bought a bunch of pins relating to the 50th and then i bought 2 ties and wanted to buy 2 shirts on display but they didnt have my size. So the nice CM at the World of Disney guest services desk checked the computer and then called around and found out that the only places that had my sizes were 1 shirt at the Swan and 1 shirt at the Dolphin. So we told him to tell them to put them on hold and we scooted over to each hotel and i waited in the car and susan and sarah went in for the shirts at the respective hotels. Then we went back to DD and saw an early showing of Firewall with Harrison Ford at the AMC 24 PI again, and then hung out a bit at PI and Disneys West Side. It was getting close to dinner and we did want to make Boma tonight because we love that place.

We valeted at the AKL and went in to Boma and got seated within 10 minutes. They put us in the same Boma seats again. It was a bit crowded but that didnt phase us. I loved the crusted prime rib and had them cut me a huge rare piece and then i had all the spicy side stuff they have there. I was awaiting dessert and the zebra domes and when i was ready i went up. Then something silly happened. The dessert line was hooking around and i was waiting on the end. It wasnt wasy to tell which was the dessert line and which was the regular food line but everyone was doing the best they could. Then this young couple comes over and looks at the lines and asks if i am on the dessert line and i tell then i am and how it hooks around behind me. They just stay where they are and go ahead of me. So why ask if you arent intending to wait? Then they grab the last of the zebra domes but i was feeling too magical to tell them off for cutting or anything and with my great vision i saw a fresh new batch sitting on the counter in the back. So when i get the tongs i just call to the back to the CM and motion with my head to look at the empty zebra dome plate and then at the full one by them and he brings it right up. I take 6 and head back to enjoy them at my table. Dinner is over we look around the lodge a bit and in the shop and then back to the WL to finish packing for our departure tomorrow. We had another very early Chef Mickeys for brekkie but i just knew what i was going to be asked to do and it was and i did - i cancelled it and didnt even call Mickey to wake us up.

Day 12 - February 22 - Last Licks and Heading Home

I was up very early and my plan was to head over to the GF and get the CD of all our photopass pics for $99. There are only 3 places in WDW as of now that burn the CD for you, the MK, Epcot and the GF and you get get it burned online at home either yet. So i chose the GF and calculated how to get there. I figured i would take either the boat from the WL to the MK and then the rail around or the boat rom the WL to the Contemporary and then the rail around from there. As magic would have it as i approached the WL boat dock around 8:00 AM the small launch was just arriving that goes back and forth to the Contemporary. So i hop on that, enter the hotel from the rear, grab the rail to the MK and right into the 2nd floor Mickey Mercantile and get the CD burnt while chatting with the CMs there. Then i take the rail to the MK and take the larger boat back to the WL after the first stop at FW. And despite my love for WDW i am glad we were leaving that day. The crowds just waiting for the baots were amazing. At FW they all couldnt fit on the first boat and some had to wait and those are big ships, then when i got off at the WL the line to get on was longer then i had ever seen at the boat dock. I was just imagining the parks that day. Then to the room and we called the bell people and they took down all the bags to storage. We then had brekkie at Whispering Canyon cafe and i made susan and sarah promise not to mention my birthday there because they go over the top there with everything lol.

We got the car from the valet, loaded it up, switched back to my older Mickey tow hitch and headed to sanford and it was just about 11:00 AM now. I filled up my car with gas just at the turn to Amtrak so we would have a full tank to make it home once we got off the train and we rolled into the Amtrak station. We went inside, rented 2 digEplayers again with the spare battery which we needed this time and sat ourselves down waiting to get on the train. The train ride home was about the same as the ride down to Disney. We asked for the beds to be turned down early, right after dinner and we came back to the room after dinner and changed, watched movies and fell away.

Day 13 - February 23 - Home Sweet Home

The train was on time and we got our car within 20 minutes. Once inside the car, i pulled to the side and switched Mickey tow hitches again and headed home. Timing was perfect and we missed all the rush hour traffic. As we pulled on my block i was wondering how competent the mail service would be. Before we left i held the mail delivery online and noted that i would pick it up Friday morning February 24. And to my happy surprise when i opened the door, there was nothing there pushed through the slot - i was shocked lol. And all went well Friday at the post office too. So the trip ws over, about a dozen washes had to be made and back to the humdrum of daily life until the next trip which is actually going to be much sooner then i thought!

Epilogue

Is one really necessary? I am sure anyone reading my report already loves disney and wouldnt expect anything less then a magical trip being reported on. Okay, there were some extra special moments and some other things in there but basically it is all and always about the MAGIC!!!!!!
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#3 User is offline   Howie 

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 08:23 AM

https://disneyphotopass.go.com/DPI/0/0/.TOP...p;iId=445391269


and in the disney Feb 2006 1 & 2 albums:

http://photobucket.c...ms/e212/Hjdcah/
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#4 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 01:43 PM

Wow, that's a great trip report Howie. If you get your haircut at MK, must you get "pixie dust" in your hair? I ws not aware of this and might have to rethink the mention I made to my girlfriend to get my hair cut there.

10 minute wait for Soarin'? :shock: Wow, that's unheard of.

I was flpping through your pictures and you took a lot (i need to take you along on my trips as photographer because I'm pretty bad about documenting my trips with pictures). And you took over 100 Photopass pics; don't you find it....annoying to have to have them take your picture? What I mean by that is it's always a process to have it done. Maybe I'm just impatient? :lol:

Is your wife and daughter as obsessed with WDW as you? Or are they dragged along? It seems like your daughter likes it (or at least is tolerant of being photographed quite a bit). I'm always interested to know how family handles WDW nerds like us :D

Congrats to your daughter on getting accepted to that high school. Always good to get what you want.

I need to go through and read the entire thing but it's a great report! Thanks for posting. :thumright:
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#5 User is offline   Howie 

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 02:08 PM

QuickGold said:

Wow, that's a great trip report Howie. If you get your haircut at MK, must you get "pixie dust" in your hair? I ws not aware of this and might have to rethink the mention I made to my girlfriend to get my hair cut there.



thanks matt; i always do the pixie dust thing but it is only an option and not all choose it, most kids choose it but not too many of us big kids lol:

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QuickGold said:

10 minute wait for Soarin'? :shock: Wow, that's unheard of.


the benes of very early rising and obsessively being first at the turnstiles lol;



QuickGold said:

I was flpping through your pictures and you took a lot (i need to take you along on my trips as photographer because I'm pretty bad about documenting my trips with pictures). And you took over 100 Photopass pics; don't you find it....annoying to have to have them take your picture? What I mean by that is it's always a process to have it done. Maybe I'm just impatient? :lol:



my daughter took the 1000 pics with her new hanukah present digital camera with a 1 GB card; we brought another film camera but decided that my daughter took enough and we wanted to do the photopass deal; and it only took a couple of minutes, no waits there either, at each spot; it was in no way annoying and we often chatted with the photographers; one in MGM, Louis, was very interesting; he was from france and was a sephardic jew and gave us a nice history of the sephards in europe;

QuickGold said:

Is your wife and daughter as obsessed with WDW as you? Or are they dragged along? It seems like your daughter likes it (or at least is tolerant of being photographed quite a bit). I'm always interested to know how family handles WDW nerds like us :D


my daughter is just as obssessed, although after 2 days she started to feel down and said she had lost the magic; but that only lasted a couple of days until we upped her budget for buying things ;-) lol; my wife loves it too although she refuses to admit how much at times; but her tears of happiness at even the disney commercials on TV let alone while in wdw expose her true feelings; but she does hate the commando style lol;

QuickGold said:

Congrats to your daughter on getting accepted to that high school. Always good to get what you want.


thanks, she is very excited to go there; it is only a high school but it is tops;

QuickGold said:

I need to go through and read the entire thing but it's a great report! Thanks for posting. :thumright:


my pleasure as always :-) ;
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#6 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 04:12 PM

I didn't know you were a member of the "tribe" Howie :thumright:
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#7 User is offline   Howie 

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 07:11 AM

you must have missed all my bat mitzvah posts from 1/05; we made our daughter a real disney bat mitzvah; the centerpieces were comprised of 4 of the large disney snowglobes at each table on top of different height cylinders - we bought 76 globes; then as part of the cavod she donated about 50 of them to the ronald mcdonald house, schneiders children hospital, and st marys hopsital for kids; the smorgy had a huge mickey ice sculpture with a spigot in his belly and a funnel on his head and nice and cool vodka came through his magical body - a bit sacreligious but cool none the same lol; and the cake was kinda like cindys castle;

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#8 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 03:15 PM

Very nice! The castle looks great
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