Howie - 49 year old maniac as you are all well aware
Susan - 46 year old ever so much more emerging from the closet disneyworld lover
Sarah - 9 year old newly published disneyworld author (p. 83 of birnbaums for kids) and daddas little girl
AKL Concierge Room 5305
Day 7-Thursday Oct 4-
Today's plan was to do EE at the MK again and then head over to the GF for a 10 AM breakfast with Mary P, Pino, Gep, Gideon and crew. Initially I would drive over real early and valet at the GF and rail it over to the MK to be first and then rail it back for breakfast. Susan, however, did not really want to get up so early again since 5 AM wakeups on a vacation aren't her idea of relaxing lol so we slept in, or they did, and I just woke up before dawn and watched all the animals wake up one by one from the balcony with my trusty old pals the lovebugs all around me to keep me company, although most of them were paired off when they flew by me ;-). Once my girls awoke Susan did not feel like breakfast anywhere but the concierge. She really fell in love with the concierge lifestyle, just leaving your room and sitting around reading and eating and relaxing, especially if Sarah and I weren't around lol. So I took sarah alone to breakfast to 1900 Park Fare and susan stayed behind at the concierge lounge indulging her self. After breakfast, sarah and I returned and instead of doing a park again, we decided to bolster the economy and head over to DD for some gifts for family and friends and ourselves too this time. But first since I could not find the Birnbaum 2002 guide for kids anywhere on site, and I promised Sarah I would find it to see her pic inside, we headed towards the Florida Mall to a Borders and they had one left. So now we looked and found our little ace reporter on page 83 for all those interested. And this book was carried with us the rest of the trip and we showed it to all the CMs, characters and everyone we could who all showered Sarah with adulation. Now back to DD. We killed a couple of hours there and then headed back to the AKL and of course up to the lounge to see what was cookin' literally lol. We had a 6:15 PM at Chef Mickeys so we just relaxed around the lobby and did some more shopping in the AKL marketplace. Sarah played with the artist again and I finally bought something for myself. It is that shadowbox with the watch inside of Mickeys self portrait both on the box and minaturized on the watch. It is a pic of Mickey at an easel looking around the easel into a mirror seeing himself BUT painting Walt's face on the canvass. It is a limited edition and I already have the box in the Mickey bathroom alongside other goodies and the watch I wear. So now off to Chef Mickeys. It was kind of empty and we got seated right away at the usual table back against the wall. We always seem to get put there and in fact I have a picture of Mickey and me at that table hanging in my office next to all the pet pictures. Then while we were eating an older couple came over to to be seated at the table next to us. They looked kind of familiar but in old jeans and disney teeshirts it was hard to tell who they were. They seemed to know all the staff and were hugging everyone. Then they told the waiter that they were being joined by a world famous rock star and his wife and Sarah's ears perked up lol. So over comes a couple and the guy has long dreadlocks in different colors but i just couldn't place him. And they sit on the wall on the couch which adjoins Susan while Sarah is on the aisle to be in the photos with the characters but next to that table. Well here is the story. The older couple are the Drs. Hellers who appear regularly on the talk show circuit especially Rosie and are the authors of many books about dieting-their website is www.hellers.org if you want to see who they are. And it turns out that he was a high school teacher in the Bronx 35 years ago where this rock star was a student but wasn't really into school. So Heller advised him to quit and seek out his true passion as an artist which he did. And this was there reunion after 35 years. And the rock star just came back from Korea and opened for Michael jackson. His name is TM Stevens and his site is www.tmstevens.com. Well Sarah was in heaven to say the least even though she had no clue who he was only that he was like n'sync or something lol. Since we were sitting basically so close together we naturally struck up conversations since they were all so nice and so is susan and sarah and sometimes so am i ;-). And since we are all NYers it was a natural. And Susan being a law professor could relate to the whole education thing. The Hellers are also Disney experts themselves and knew a whole lot of things but they did not know anything about their next table people-us. So i whipped out Sarahs new edition of Birnbaums for kids which Mickey and Minnie had just already personally autographed next to her picture and review on p.83 and they were all totally impressed. Then Sarah wanted a pic with the rock star and had no hesitations about asking for one so she sat right next to TM and i took 2 really great shots and her smile is the biggest that i could remember ever seeing. After dinner we said our goodbyes and Dr. Rachel Heller said that we had a really great and outgoing daughter and we must have davened well(drv can explain lol). She is also the niece of Larry Fine of Moe, Larry and Curly fame :-). So Chef Mickeys turned out to be a really super dinner doubletime that night. So we got our car from the valet and headed back to the AKL concierge for a spell and then to bed because tomorrow is a day full of surprises for Susan at Epcot.
Day 8-Friday Oct 5-
Today was a big day for us, not only were there many surprises that Susan did not know about but also we were to meet some clubhouse members tonight on the illuminations cruise which i flipped to an anniversary cruise. Unfortunately i had to divulge part of this surprise to Susan because she did not want to do any fireworks this trip due to the situation in NY but agreed to this one because of the special nature of it. Of course we were woken up by Mickey at 5:30 AM, all but me who was already up watching the sleeping animals outside. Then off by car to Epcot for EE and we arrived around 6:45 and had to wait for the parking attendant to let us through-we were the only vehicle in sight at that hour lol. So at the turnstiles by 7 :10, first of course, after parking right up front and Sarah playing with the CMs. She wanted to be chosen as first family but Epcot discontinued that so once in at 7:30 we went straight for Test Track and we were first there!! Sarah and I rode the first car around and then when we returned, since there was absolutely no line we did not even have to get out of the car but rerode again right thru. Next off to Universe of Energy which had a total of 25 people or so in the building. We took our usual seat-right car up front all the way to the right so that we go right under the mouths of the dinosaurs. It is the last car to go through but you are closest to the chewing and drooling on your head dinosaurs ;-). Then back to Spaceship earth which was also a walkon even after the other attractions we did. Now as it was approaching 9 we headed over to Imagination but once 9 came they didn't open it so we caught the first show of Honey I shrunk... in the front row center. Once that ended we did did do the journey ride and then we had about 10 minutes to our PS at the GG and the well kept secret by Sarah of the rehitchin' ceremony. Susan knew something was up but we wouldnt let on. So Sarah approached the podium alone to make sure all was set. We got seated and our waiter was Jose. Then all of a sudden Pluto comes over and hangs out with us for a long time and then Jose comes over with this great Mickey head-shaped delicious chocolate chip cake for us and has us stand up and kiss while the whole place, actually pretty empty unfortunately, counts backwards from 100. Then Pluto and the gang hang all over us and Pluto plays around trying to cut the cake. We are given a certificate and continue our meal and Susan is thrilled with this event. The characters keep coming around to us and spend a lot of time with Sarah. Mickey even takes her for a walk around the whole restaurant with him and Susan isn't even nervous lol. Sarah cuts a nice piece of cake for Dale who hides it away in his jeans since for him we rename the cake chocolate dale cake instead of chocolate chip. Breakfast was a great success and we get to take a doggie bag of it with us. Also sarah got a nice surprise when we left. Since she showed her picture in birnbaum to the characters somehow the disney magic was in full bloom. When we were leaving at the podium one of the managers stopped us and asked who is Sarah. He then tells her that he heard she is in a book and wants to see it. So all the CMs come over and ask Sarah to see it and they want her autograph which she graciously keeps giving out lol. Now to more of Epcot and we head towards World Showcase which should open in about 10 minutes. Sarah wants to do the kidcots but i explain that they probably wont open until 12 or 1 so once the rope drops we go to Canada and see the film which was great since we returned from our Canadian trip just a few weeks before. I still do not understand why some canadians find it so offensive because it is a beautiful film without really anything negative in it?? Now we do the countries one by one very leisurely for once lol. We also sit through the French film and then keep on going along the showcase. When we reach Norway we expected the usual line at Maelstrom but we actually have a walkon on the whole boat to ourselves. We scoot through their film however and over to Mexico. Here when we get to the ride sarah whips out her Birnbaum and shows the CMs at the ride entrance what she wrote about their attraction and they are thrilled. They stop the ride and give her a 'special' boat all to herself(with us of course too) and off we go. Now it is time for the kid cots so Sarah begins her day of crafts. We stop at each one and then when she reaches America's she realizes that an important piece has fallen off. So Sherlock Howie retraces our steps while she does her thing in America and I find that piece on the ground back a ways from where we came. We have to make the Ice Cream Social surprise for Susan at 3 so we hurry it up and just finish all the kid cots. We make it to the GG at 5 to 3 and they recognize us from breakfast. We get seated and then those great ice cream sundaes come not that we have much room from breakfast a few hours before lol. But we all finish up and say our goodbyes again to the CMs. We decide to skip the rest of the day at Epcot which included a 5:30 at Alfredos and head back to the room to relax and get ready for our cruise. We head over to the YC from the AKL via my jeep and valet the car telling them we have the PS for the cruise. We have to be by the cruise by 8 PM so we get there around 7:15 and stroll around. We walk over to the dolphin and i finally get to see my name on the wall at shulas in person and take a pic of it full well knowing i will add it again the following night at dinner there. Now we stroll back to the Marina and we stall susan so i can get a good pic of the pontoon boat with the big happy anniversary sign on its starboard side. I introduce myself to cap ron who will be our captain and then we wait for our guests. We are supposed to meet bobller, pammyk and splash and family. Splash had written to me that he might not make it if he decides to leave that day to drive home. And then pammyk called me the night before to ask if sammieg and family can come but i tell her that if all come there will be no room. And we have friends visiting from ny and fla who want to meet us that night in epcot too lol. So first we see bobller near the boat and go over and greet him. Next I see Pammy and someone else-it is Sammieg by herself and i am glad she came. It seems that Splash never showed so we needed the company. So we head out on the water, cap ron and the 6 of us. First he takes us over to MGM and we see the end of fantasmic as best we could from the water. Then back towards Epcot and we tie up right under the bridge between GB and France. The cap then produces the cake I ordered which was a great big cake with Happy Anniversary Susan and Howard on it and it was really a great looking and tasting cake. What was left we brought back and gave to the concierge because there was more than half left. We also had sodas and snacks and watched the show from a whole new perspective and watched pammy and sammie sing along with the closing song perfectly in tune. One last thing-the crusie is supposed to be 120 for the regular cruise and 220 for the birthday/anniversary but it seems that they accidentally ran the wrong amount through before the cruise while i was there and said not to worry about it so i made it up with a nice tip. Now the cruise was over and we said our goodbyes to our dear clubhouse friends BUT we decided to meet up for dinner the next night. I did have Shulas planned but I can always have great steak and my name is already in history but one cant always be with friends from far away so we decided on Jikos. Sammie couldnt make it becasue they have their own last night special meal tradition. So it was to be Bobller, Pammy and us at Jikos for our last night. So back to the AKL to drop off the cake and then to bed since we had a 7:30 at Chef Mickeys for our last full day.
Day 9-Saturday-Oct 6-
Today was the last full day of our trip and we had planned to have Chef Mickeys at 7:30 AM and then do some MK. As we were exiting the escalator to Chef Mickeys someone called me over to where the stores were. He said that he noticed that Sarah had a lanyard full of pins and that if we were interested at 8 AM right there, new limited edition pins were being released. I laughed it off because we really arent pin collectors and all Sarah had on was all 5 of the Magical Moments pins and some others she had plus the WDW VIP family lanyard plus the GOH badge plus the old clubhouse badge and the new clubhouse badge(just like me lol). But after breakfast Susan said she wanted to see what these pins were all about. So we waltzed on over to the kiosk and got online. These were very nice pins and were 30 year Contemporary pins and she wanted one. Then this guy approached me again and asked me if i was getting any and how many. He said that we could get 2 per family member which meant 6 and he would buy all the ones we didnt want. I agreed but i said that i really wanted the american flag Mickey pin he had on his lapel because they had been sold out for weeks and i really wanted that one. Well to my surprise they had just gotten those in also so we bought 6 limited edition contemp pins and 3 Mickey flag pins. I sold 4 to him and kept 2 of the limited ones and he told me who he was. I now always wear the Mickey Flag pin wherever i go at work or play. Apparently he is a state senator from Tennessee and has a huge pin collection and does this all the time. So we did our business and he took our name and address so he can send Sarah an aide d'camp or something certificate from his home state in thanks. He also told us that he was heading over to MGM because they are releasing a special hat shaped pin there today also. So now Susan had been bitten by the bug and she wanted to go to MGM and see and also she wanted a photo of the three of us in front of the BAH. So we got the car from the valet at the contemporary and headed over to MGM and parked in the lot. We went in and waited on line for the new pins and guess who showed up right behind us-yes Curtis the Tennessee state senator. So we bought 6 more of those pins and sold him three. We also bought a couple packs of those rubber backings for the pins because those metal ones are terrible and Sarah almost lost one of those 100 yrs internet pins which we found in the car. And now an interesting story about this Curtis. Later that afternoon at the AKL concierge lounge we mentioned the story to Don and he immediately knew the guy. He said that he has been coming for years and always stays in the same room at the Poly(oops i mean polynesian-don hates to hear the abbreviation) and does this pin stuff with everyone he can. He even knew about that aide d'camp certificate he sends out in appreciation too lol. So after MGM we headed over to the AK to see the new parade that we missed and got a great spot in front of pizzafari. Now back to the room to pack some and let Sarah hit the arcade and we also did the hidden mickey search around the grounds and got a 100% and Sarah received a nice safari mickey plush from the concierge for doing that. Dinner will be at Jikos and both Bobller and PammyK showed up and we had a great time except i had a problem with eating their tortillas-i did not know if i should eat the whole things or not so i didnt lol?? Pammy had her florida dining experience card which helped nicely also for that 20% off the bill ;-). We took them upstairs to meet Don and visit the concierge lounge and Don did his Donald for everyone lol. We had a great time with them both and said our goodbyes. We headed back to our room and finished packing because instead of Bomas at breakfast and a flight out all had changed and we were leaving at 5 AM and driving north. And i wanted to leave just before 5 because the road from the AKL was to be closed down from 5-10 AM on that day and we would have to take a detour out.
Day 10-Sunday- Oct 7-
We checked out by 4:40 AM and breezed through the grounds. Before we had left NY i had done priceline for Richmond VA and got a great hotel-Commonwealth Park Suites right in downtown richmond across from the capitol building for $45 with some bonus money. We made it there in around 11 hours after stopping for lunch and at JR outlets and got some smokes for my mother who pays 44/carton up here and only paid 16.99 each down there plus we bought some candy for the ride. The hotel was great and we had a pentouse 1 bedroom suite and Sarah was in heaven again because she had her own room with a TV and stereo. We ate within walking distance at a very nice place called the tobacco company in a really nice restored warehouse and then headed back to sleep.
The ride north from wdw was a breeze with no traffic and we made great time.
Day 11-Monday-Oct 8-
We checked out around 6 AM and headed home. I again wanted to be by DC before rush hour and we did just that and had no problems with the drive home except for the rising sun glaring in my eyes around the beltway of DC. I did get stopped just before the delaware memorial bridge for doing 60 in a 50 while other cars were speeding by but i was not in a group so i was picked out. But no ticket once the officer saw my official police badge in my registration packet and asked me who in my family was a cop. I told her nobody BUT i am a vet which she could see from my license plate and not only do i take care of many police officers dogs up north, my practice has also volunteered hundreds of manhours at ground zero to treat the search and rescue dogs and we donated many needed supplies for them. This is all true but i didnt think it helped because she went back to her car to write. But when she came back to me she gave me a paper warning only which means nothing with no fine nor points. I guess they have to write something so those little video cameras dont get them into trouble for letting someone go lol. We got home around 1:30 PM and Susan made about 100 washes and i checked all my snail mail and email.
This was a very strange trip for us with all that had happened on Sept 11 and the subsequent threats going all around. But i wanted to do this trip for many reasons. It was specially planned for a long time and i am not one to give up ever. It was a hard time in getting to wdw because Susan really did not want to go and i had to promise that i would never ask to go again if she gave in to this trip now. I agreed and mean to keep my word and have no problems with her decision because she is just 1 of many thousands who feel this way the way things are now in the world. So being down there knowing it might be my last time ever had its impact on me too. And then there was the emptiness of the parks and restaurants which bothered me for disney. It was great for us but i am not only interested in me and mine so there were mixed feelings about that too. But after a couple of days, i rationalized that all would be well soon and i might as well enjoy the emptiness now.
As far as the celebration of Walts 100th, this is a great time to visit wdw especially for regulars. There are so many new things around the parks and the new parades are a treat and a great change from the usual. And the AKL is one fanatstic resort. From the decor to the service to the shopping and dining, it is great. And the concierge staff are all wonderful and helpful. I have read some psots about them being aloof and spoke to Don about that and as usual it is always perception. They really arent there to provide someone with 10 bottles of water for their family's trip to the parks that day and most negative opinions are over peoples own selfishness and personalities as is always the case. The staff is just wonderful.
And most of all during this trip my Sarah stopped her tics. As i write this final part of my trip report, it has been a good 3 weeks or so that she is normal. I was worried because the 'experts' say that if it goes past 1 year it is considered chronic and will last a long time and once the end of august came we were upset because that was the cut off for her. But experts be gone for she is better and that is all i care about right now and if means that i never can go to wdw again, then i will accept that since this last trip made her right and she is the most important thing to me right now next to Susan. But i do believe that Susan will let me go back to where i truly belong once all this mess is over and done with.
And as for my farewell and return to the site, i think it was just too much happening all at once. September 11 happening and then leaving NY and then staying in a fantasyworld and then returening to NY where it was all too real again and me just writing about walking on to rides with no wait and etc, i think you can all understand that i needed a little recharging. But as they say, you cant keep a good man down and even some of us bad ones get up too sometimes ;-);
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OUR LAST AND FINAL TRIP EVER TO WDW- NOT!!! - Pt 3
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