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Trip Reports
01-07-2007, 08:47 PM
Sue Holland -- May 2000 -- Offsite, Old Key West, Coronado Springs

Who/When/Where:

Who: Sue (me - 41), DVC member
Dates: May 26 - June 9, 2000
Travel Method: Personal car
Resort: Best Inn Maingate (1st night), Disney's Old Key West Resort (6nts), Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (5nts), Hampton Inn (2nts)
Experience: Extremely experienced, approximately 80-100 WDW vacations since 1972, over 50 nights in Disney resorts this year.
INTRODUCTION:

This is the 5th of several Disney trips for 2000 (counting the trip to Disneyland last month), and the 3rd trip that involves a mix of business and vacation time. What started out as 3.5 days of vacation and 3.5 days of business ended up evolving into 9.5 days of vacation and 5.5 days of business! The conference is the annual Florida Sterling Conference, which is a total quality management thing that I attended for the first time last year, along with 7 other people from work. It was hands down the best conference I'd ever attended, and after spending 6 years as Controller with Marriott Hotels where we had many great meetings/banquets, I really thought I'd be difficult to impress (boy, was I wrong). The conference in the past was always held at the Contemporary, but starting this year it's at Coronado Springs. I was hoping to attend again this year, so at the 11 month point I booked the 3 nights prior at OKW since it was a holiday weekend and my annual pass would be expiring on 5/30/00. Also last year we ended up having a statewide financial meeting in Orlando the week after the conference, and with some effort from me and the person who sets up the meeting (who finally got approval to attend the conference also) it was scheduled again for Orlando, the next week. However, rather than scheduling it for Monday/Tuesday like I'd suggested, it was scheduled for Thursday/Friday. That left me with a decision to make. Do I stay in the WDW area an extra 4 nights at my expense, knowing my annual pass has expired (didn't plan to activate the next one until my July trip), ~but~ knowing I'd have more time at the Comedy Warehouse? Or, do I return home on Saturday, work Monday/Tuesday, and then drive back up Wednesday for the meeting? LOL, obviously the Comedy Warehouse was the only real consideration, and I knew I wasn't going to be returning home between the meetings ! Heck, if I did nothing but sit in my hotel room all day long, it would still be worth it in order to see more shows those nights.

I booked a room at the Hampton Inn for 6 nights (Saturday thru Thursday) after checking several places. For a standard room I got a rate of $53, and since the State would pay the last 2 nights while I attended the meeting, it would only cost me a little over $200 if I decided to stay. There was nothing available at the DVC resorts, but I went on the wait list (about 2 months in advance). I was shocked when I returned from my April trip to have a message from DVC - some of my dates had become available, but the Sunday/Monday in the middle of the stay were still not available. I was not about to move out of CS on Sat, into OKW, then out of OKW for Sun/Mon, back into OKW for Tue/Wed, and then out to the Hampton Inn for Thursday - that's way too much moving around! So, I stayed on the wait list hoping for the entire stay....and it came through a couple of weeks later!! Rather than using the higher number of points for a Saturday night stay I checked with CRO to see if Saturday night was available at CS at my annual pass rate, and it was - so I extended that reservation to where I'd be checking out on Sunday. I called DVC and booked the OKW studio for Sunday thru Tuesday nights, and then shortened the Hampton Inn reservation to arrive on Wednesday for just 2 nights. Now the extra stay was only costing me $122 (the cost of the ap rate CS room plus tax). I called Hampton Inn again, and upgraded to a room with a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and sitting area for a $62 rate - since the rate at the Adams Mark Hotel was $77, I'm still saving the State money over what they'd be paying if I stayed there with the rest of the folks. I chose the Hampton Inn for a few reasons - I'm comfortable in them, the free continental breakfast is plenty for me, I like the free local calls for my internet access, and it's halfway between the meeting and Comedy Warehouse so it's convenient to my day & night plans. Also, I've attended a meeting here before (but stayed at one of the hotels in Lake Buena Vista to be closer to Comedy Warehouse, lol) and know it's a decent place.

I toyed with the idea of bringing Chris (13 yr old son) up for part of the trip, but he's still in school until June 8th, was not planning to activate his AP until July, and wasn't sure how I'd get him back home if I did bring him up for a weekend. The flights from Orlando to Ft Myers were still running almost $200 one-way, so that ruled out that idea! In April Chris accepted a job at the local baseball stadium, and he would have had to miss work, so that was another factor in the decision. He'll be missing several games when we take our August trip. He loves working (especially getting paid), and although he's only 13, he looks & acts older, and has been doing volunteer work since he was about 10. Anyway, I decided to leave him in Ft Myers. He'll spend a few days with our friends Sheila & Colin (they come on some of our trips with us) while his Dad is away on a camping trip, and then will spend the rest of the time at his Dad's house.

I've gone back and forth trying to decide whether I'd be activating my next annual pass after the conference ends, or whether I'd spend those 5 days without any park access (my Pleasure Island annual pass will be valid). One consideration is that since I'll be staying at OKW as a DVC member, I'll be able to use Stormalong Bay and all the other pools for 4 of those 5 days. It would also mean I could feel free to stay for all the shows at the Comedy Warehouse, since I wouldn't have any reason to get up early the next morning. Since I've been doing trip reports I've never stayed for the 5th show - which can be extremely funny - because leaving PI at 1am, and then having a few hours of stuff to do makes for a very late night. It might not be a big deal if I sleep in until 9am though. On the other hand, there is a special water park offer for AP holders right now. If I buy a single day admission at regular price, I get unlimited access to the water parks thru 6/11 with my ap. I called Disney, and am not convinced the cm had any clue at all, but was told that I'd need to show my valid ap as well as the water park thing - so in order to really get a lot of use out of that I'd need to activate the ap. It's a tough call - I'm leaning towards going "park-less", as much to force myself to do less, but probably won't decide for sure until I'm up there and the time comes! I renewed the ap over the phone, and the voucher came in the mail already. I'll take it with me in case I decide to activate it.

I'm hoping to see the usual friends - Kathy, Linda, Nancy (but haven't figured out specific dates for everyone yet). Also, I should be seeing Bob & Donna on this trip. Bob used to be my boss, before he moved to Orlando last October (he was part of the November 1998 and December 1999 trips). We worked together about 4 years I guess, and we became close friends. When he told me he was leaving my initial reaction was excitement for him - it was a great opportunity, but I didn't realize how much I'd miss him! He has company the first week and won't be attending the conference this year, but hopes to come by for breakfast one morning to see the other staff (there are 7 of us), and I'll have dinner with Bob & Donna and see their new house the weekend after the conference. Perhaps they'll join me at Comedy Warehouse some night that second week also - they've gone with me several times and always enjoy it (lol, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't love that place). About a week before the trip another DVC friend emailed to invite me to join a few of my DVC friends for lunch the day of my arrival. I wasn't planning to get there that early, but it didn't take me long to decide to change my plans so I could spend this time with Dottie - Ilovebskts, Donna - ILUVWDW, and Tina - tlfarmer. I last saw them at the DVC ladies' weekend in early March, and we're all cruising together in August. The three of them are spending a long weekend at the Contemporary, I'm assuming they got a great cast member discount since they all work part time at The Disney Store in their states. Finally, I talked to Nancy on the phone a couple days before the trip, and due to schedule conflicts (I'm free when she isn't and she's free when I'm tied up with business) we won't get to spend much time together until Wednesday of the 2nd week. She suggested I stop by during her dinner hour at work (the Jazz Club at PI), provided I could ever pull myself away from the first show at the Comedy Warehouse (her break is from 7-8; the first comedy show is 7:10), so I told her I'd give it consideration, lol!

Finally, this IS a business trip...at least business is the reason for going up there, even though I've scheduled several vacation days around the conference and subsequent meeting. Since the primary purpose was business, I do plan to keep in touch with the office via email. Our fiscal year ends 6/30 so this is a very hectic time of year and a few of my departments have some staffing issues or big projects that I don't want to let slide while I'm away for so long. I won't be back in the office until June 14th due to yet another meeting (this one in Tallahassee, not Orlando) June 11-13. Believe me, spending time keeping in touch with the office is the least I can do since I've gotten a bonus 2-week trip to WDW! Besides, I enjoy my life - both work & play, and the 2 blend together well without being a problem.

The plans so far...

5/26 - Work, leave by 10 to drive to WDW, check in at Best Inn, meet DVC friends for lunch at LeCellier, spend time at a park

5/27 - Check out of Best Inn, check in to OKW, maybe attempt MK early entry in order to get banana nut bread, possibly head to water park around 10, meet Kathy at Downtown Disney in the afternoon, spend some night hours in a park

5/28 - MK at opening, Blizzard Beach, Comedy Warehouse

5/29 - Animal Kingdom at opening to meet a couple of people from work, water park, Comedy Warehouse

5/30 - Check out of OKW, check in to CS, maybe some park briefly in morning, "Disney Approach to Operational Excellence" seminar 1-5pm, Comedy Warehouse

5/31 - Conference 7-5, Comedy Warehouse

6/01 - Conference 7-5, Comedy Warehouse

6/02 - Conference 7-12:30, Governor's Sterling Banquet at night

6/03 - Any park but MK in morning, possibly visit Belz, relax at CS pool, spend evening with Bob & Donna

6/04 - Check out of CS, check in to OKW, MK for morning, water park, Comedy Warehouse

6/05 - Possible park or water park, Comedy Warehouse

6/06 - Possible park or water park, Comedy Warehouse

6/07 - Check out of OKW, spend day with Nancy at Stormalong Bay, check in to Hampton Inn, Comedy Warehouse

6/08 - Meeting at Adam's Mark 9-5, Comedy Warehouse

6/09 - Check out of Hampton Inn, meeting at Adam's Mark, drive home

As I've seen others do in their trip reports, I'll try to remember to mention the "plan" each day and then we can see how close the actual came to that plan. However, making "plans" so far in advance they may not be very accurate...I really plan to do whatever I feel like doing each day

DAY 1 - FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2000:

PLAN: 5/26 - Work, leave by 10 to drive to WDW, check in at Best Inn, meet DVC friends for lunch at LeCellier, spend time at a park

ACTUAL: Got up at the usual 5:25 (usual for a work day, at least) and managed to get to work a little early. There was one potential crisis I needed to deal with this morning, but otherwise wasn't planning to do much. Yesterday I-75 near here was closed again due to another brush fire...but it was reopened last night. Hopefully I won't have trouble getting to WDW! I left the office at 10, ran into more traffic than usual but nothing terrible, and passed a few areas of fire damage from last week. Luckily there were no fires today! After 1 stop to buy some overpriced Kissimmee gas I checked in at the Best Inn and was settled in my room before 1pm - so I made great time!

I headed right out to WDW - there's no reason to hang around this cheapo motel. It's strictly a place to sleep tonight, and I couldn't stand it for more than one night. Actually, it's getting hard to take even for one night these days...compared to a WDW resort it's pretty depressing! I parked at Boardwalk, flashing my DVC member card to get waved on in by the security guard. It was incredibly HOT up here today - probably high 90's and with the humidity it was pretty disgusting. It's hard to believe just 2 months ago it was beautiful here, and actually chilly in the mornings & evenings....not anymore! I'm kind of not looking forward to August now - I've got 12 days on either side of the cruise, and we're going to roast - ugh!

I entered Epcot via the International Gateway about 1:30, and since I had 1/2 hour to kill I walked to Mexico and rode the boat because it was indoors and air conditioned! There wasn't any wait, and except for the bozo taking flash pictures in the front row (I was near the back) despite the announcement of "no flash pictures" it was a nice enough ride.

After the ride I headed back to Canada, and found Dottie, Tina & Donna waiting inside LeCellier. The 4 of us (with some of the other DVC ladies) ate here this past March, so we knew we were in for a good lunch. We were seated towards the back, and although our service was pretty slow/inattentive, we think it was a case of our waitress was just too busy with too many tables. It took a long while to get our breadsticks, and some people's glasses were allowed to stay empty too long. The food was great, though. I got my usual - the cheddar cheese soup and a glass of water. It was a delicious yet inexpensive lunch - $4! Donna brought me a gift, and said it was my breakfast for the week - I laughed and saw that it was a piece of banana nut bread from the Main Street Bake Shop at MK! She said after reading my reports she can't go in there without thinking of me, lol. I was thrilled, as I was thinking of going to MK early tomorrow morning to buy some, even though I didn't really want to be at MK on a Saturday. Now, I have my banana nut bread without having to spend all the time going to get it! Thanks again, Donna! We had a good time catching up and talking about stuff - including the new DVC resort that is being built at the Beach Club. There's an article in this week's Eyes & Ears (cm newsletter), which Donna had just picked up today. They even had a picture. Basically, as you're in the parking lot facing the Beach Club front entrance, the DVC portion will be to the left. The picture at first looks like it's just an extension of the existing building, but if you look very closely you'll see that it's a separate building but very close. It will be a green color, rather than blue. It won't have any water view - rooms will see either the front entrance or the Illuminations fireworks. The picture wasn't color, but it looked very nice.

When we left LeCellier we wandered back to Future World. They're doing E-Ride Night at MK tonight and invited me to join them, but since it's 10pm -1am I declined. That's just too late, when I have to drive back offsite, and I don't want to be up until 3am right off so early into the trip, lol! They headed back to the Contemporary to relax at the pool and I went over to Test Track. There was a long line of people in what looked like the FastPass return area, and all the people near me were holding fast passes. I didn't notice people in the Standby line, but I didn't check it out carefully - I went to the single rider line. At first I was concerned because the line was extended outside the building, but then I saw they held the line at the door - there were no single riders inside waiting. From the time I got to the line until I finished the ride and exited the building was about 20 minutes. The crash test demonstration wasn't working, which sort of detracted from the ride. That crash sets the mood for when your car goes racing towards the doors to outside.

I'd realized while driving up here that I'd forgotten to take my jury duty summons with me. I've got federal court jury duty the month of May, and so far each time I've had to call they've not needed any jurors. My last instruction was to call back tonight after 6. Of course, I have no plans to return for jury duty - I've got a conference to attend! I stopped at a pay phone to call home & have Chris read me the phone number, but the line was busy. I wandered around a bit, rode Spaceship Earth (no wait), and then went to call again. The line was still busy - I guess that's what happen when you leave a teen home alone! I ended up having the operator disconnect his call (for a $4 fee) so I could get through. He'd only be there a couple of hours before he was being picked up to spend the weekend at a friend's, so I had to reach him within that time frame and I was getting very irritated that I couldn't get through! The operator came back to tell me the line was clear, so I called him and got the number. He was a little jealous that he wasn't at WDW, but he'll be here in July and August. Right now he's still got school.

Next I went to the Living Seas. It had been several trips since I'd gone in there, mainly because although I enjoy the fish I don't feel like sitting through the boring movie. I'd read they now give you the option to skip it, so I decided to see for myself. Sure enough, after you go inside to the waiting area you have a choice of going left to the hydrolators or right to the briefing room (movie). When I was on the ride one of the dolphins swam right by the window - it was pretty cool to see that! I went upstairs and watched them swimming & playing for a while. We have tons of dolphins near us at home, but since I don't have a boat I don't see them up close.

I decided to check out the Living with the Land boat ride next, and was able to walk right on. The guide spoke very clearly, but at times too quickly and he seemed pretty bored with the whole thing. It was still a decent ride, but I think if it was my first time and I was really interested in all the greenhouse stuff I might have been a little disappointed. When I got off the boat the line was pretty long again, so I must have hit it just right! I noticed the food court stands had changed - they've combined several so there are fewer stands but each is bigger. I guess they save on staffing that way.

At this point I'd seen all I really wanted to at Epcot & decided to go to MK for a little while. There were big crowds leaving Epcot, and the line for the monorail was backed up almost all the way down to the entrance. It looked like everyone was heading for a night at the MK, so I decided I was not going there after all, lol! I turned around and re-entered Epcot instead. At Mouse Gear I stopped to look for the watch I want to buy, but didn't see it. I looked at all the other merchandise too, but didn't see anything I needed. On the way to World Showcase I stopped at the DVC booth to get one of the new DVC balls (soft, squishy, softball size - like a baby or toddler toy) that Donna had shown me at lunch. I asked the cm if I could have one of the new DVC balls, and he said sure. I told him a friend of mine had told me about it, and he asked "those 3 ladies?" and I said yes. He said he remembered them, and laughed. I'm not sure if Donna will put this in her trip report, but I'll put it here, lol! When Donna approached the booth she blurted out to the guy (or guys) working there "Do you have any balls?" - and then realized that her words could have another meaning besides what she meant - LOL! No wonder he remembered her!

After getting my DVC ball I left Epcot via the International Gateway and decided to walk the long way back - past Beach Club, Yacht Club, then over to Boardwalk. I stopped in the shop at BW to check the watch; I'd seen it there in late March, but it was gone now. Crap - that's the only one I liked that wasn't big enough to fit around my upper arm, lol! Hopefully World of Disney will have it, but I'm kind of worried...

I got the car, and drove over to OKW to see if my new camera had arrived. Last weekend I ordered a new APS camera from Home Shopping Network. Then I canceled it when I realized it wouldn't arrive before I left on this trip. Then, I called back to reorder it and had them send it to my OKW home rather than Ft Myers! It's supposed to arrive by 5/31, and I was hoping I'd have time to read the manual tonight. After waiting a loooooong time for my turn at the counter, the cm checked and told me it hadn't arrived yet. I checked on my chances of getting into my studio early tomorrow, but the resort is 99.7% sold out so far tonight, and no studios are empty. Oh well, I thought maybe I'd be able to get my room early in the morning, but I'll survive.

I decided to head to Belz, figuring traffic would be lighter at night than during the day, but evidently I-4 must be congested in the theme parks area 24 hours a day! It wasn't too bad, though, and I went to both of the Character stores. They had a lot of new stuff since March, but I didn't buy anything. There was a nice leather portfolio thing - it holds a pad of lined paper and has places for a pen and some business cards - marked down to $21.99 from $45. I'd never consider it for $45 but might go back for it next week if I still want it.

After leaving Belz I returned to the Best Inn, hitting traffic once again. I was back in the room about 8pm or so, and settled in to check mail and write the trip report. I got an update on the problem at work and responded back on that. I also called the jury duty number....and the recording said to consider myself dismissed! YAY - no having to go to jail and wear a hideous orange jumpsuit and worry about having a cellmate that wants me to be her girlfriend! What a relief, lol! I was a little hungry, but it was late (almost 10) so I just grabbed a handful of Boston Baked Beans (candy coated peanuts) that I'd brought from home since they'd be stale by the time I return.

The day included everything in the plan, plus the added bonus of getting the banana nut bread taken care of (thanks again Donna) and going to Belz.

Total miles walked: 6.65

DAY 2 - SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2000:

PLAN: Check out of Best Inn, check in to OKW, maybe attempt MK early entry in order to get banana nut bread, possibly head to water park around 10, spend some night hours in a park

ACTUAL: My wake up call (no clock in the rooms at the Best Inn) was set for 7, but I was wide awake at 5:45. Why is it that when I don't have to get up early I end up waking before dawn??? I got up about 6 & spent an hour doing email and earning my FreeRide points. FreeRide lets me earn gift certificates (so far Rainforest Cafe and Barnes/Noble), and although it's easy to do it's not worth my time on vacation except maybe when I have an unexpected chunk of time freed up like this morning. Since it's so darn HOT up here, and I've already got my banana nut bread, I decided to skip the parks this morning. Instead, I'll register at OKW and then spend some time at Stormalong Bay before meeting Kathy (dznynut) at 2pm at Downtown Disney. I figure the water parks will be very crowded on a Saturday, and I know what to expect at Stormalong. Perhaps I'll hit a park tonight - in late March it was really nice wandering World Showcase with a glass of wine, but if it's 92 degrees after dark again like it was last night.....ugh! The weather person last night said normal for this time of year is 89, but it hit 97 or 98. No wonder it seemed so awful, lol - but it should get back to normal in another day or 2.

Breakfast was cappuccino (mocha) and about 1/3 of the banana nut bread. It is delicious! I got my stuff organized in a bag to take to Stormalong Bay, knowing my studio wouldn't be available until after I returned from Downtown Disney. I needed to remember stuff I don't normally take there, like my contact lens stuff! After packing up what little stuff I'd brought in last night, I left the room about 8:30 to check out and go register at OKW. While at Belz last night I'd picked up a book with coupons on different motels - a friend coming to our November trip was told by the reservationist at the hotel she's staying at the night she arrives had a coupon in there & she'd asked me to pick one up if I saw it. I'm not sure what I have is the right book, but this one has a coupon for a $32 rate at this Best Inn through the end of July. My next trip up here starts July 22nd at OKW - to meet Larry from Scotland finally, so I checked to see if it was available on July 21st and booked it! This way we'll already be here first thing in the morning on the 22nd rather than losing time driving. After this was done, I drove to OKW. Ah, home at last!

The security guard raised the gate and waved me in without so much as a second glance. I know they don't know me or my car...so I wasn't all that thrilled at the lack of security (not that I feel unsafe, I just prefer cm's do their jobs). Check in went quickly, and the cm ended the process with a cheerful "Welcome Home" (we DVC members are suckers for that). I did get all my requests met (non smoking, top floor, water view) and she told me I'd be in the South Point area. I prefer either that one or Turtle Pond, so this was good news. The studio wasn't ready so I dropped the laptop and camcorder off with bell services and drove over to the Beach Club.

I got to Stormalong Bay about 9:30 and found that the pools don't open until 10. The lifeguards were doing some safety drills and some were cleaning leaves out of the water. I grabbed a lounge chair in a great spot near the lazy river and set up camp. By noon the chairs were all pretty much taken, at least in my area. I never wandered over to the kiddie pool or the end with the water slide. It was very warm (hot) but there was a slight breeze that helped a lot! At 10 I took my fun noodle and floated around the lazy river for a while, sat on one of the benches carved out inside the pool, and then floated some more before returning to my chair. I'd brought a book that my new boss wants all the executive mgt group to read, so I read that for about an hour or so, then returned to the lazy river. It's called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work, and it's pretty easy reading - good for pool side. While reading I ate a piece of kippered beef I'd brought from home. That probably sounds really weird - I'm definitely NOT a beef jerky kind of person, but this stuff is actually not bad. Friends of ours had brought some on one of our trips last year - it's like beef jerky but more beef and less jerky, lol. I bought a package but after Chris broke his front teeth and had veneers put on he can't eat stuff like that, so I brought the last few with me on this trip. It comes in 1-oz packages, and kind of tastes like beef. It was easier than standing in line to get a huge lunch I wasn't really hungry enough for. Back in the lazy river I happened upon a god-like creature floating on one of the rental inner tubes. Boy oh boy, this man was more good looking than any man has a right to be - absolutely incredible (and very married). Of course the DVC men are generally all that good looking too, but this guy was the only one at Stormalong Bay today who attracted attention just by existing! (Nina - we're not talking Tarzan quality here, but perhaps a Tarzan trainee) I laid back on my chair to dry off a little, then about 12:30 went to the rest room to get changed. It was so relaxing here I could have stayed all afternoon, but there's always another day. Seeing Kathy takes precedence over Stormalong Bay (although she probably would have understood if that god-like guy was single and interested, lol).

Back at OKW I check on the studio - it's ready! At 1pm! I didn't have time to go there, lol, but it's nice to know it's waiting for me, lol! I'm in building 45, which is one of the 2 facing the Trumbo Canal - so my view is the canal and the woods across the water. I've stayed in #45 several times, and like the location. I'm mid way between 2 bus stops, so I can get on at one and get off at the other to minimize my travel time.

I'd just missed the Trumbo Ferry, so I wandered around a bit. I found the picture of the DVC ladies' weekend group on the wall in Community Hall. It felt weird to see a picture of myself hanging in a public place - but it's a great picture of everyone. The next ferry came just after I got back to the dock. The driver said it'd be leaving in about 6 minutes but he let us wait on the boat instead of having to stay on the stairs - which I thought was nice. There were 3 of us riding to Downtown Disney. I noticed the boats hold 12 people now (instead of 10). It was a nice ride, as always - so relaxing & comfortable. I saw one of the new Sassagoula River boats that goes to Dixie Landing and Port Orleans, and I'm not sure I like them. They don't look any nicer than the old ones, perhaps slightly larger but not much, and they looked kind of institutional to me. It was more "cattle car" and less "nice pleasant passenger boat" type of thing - not sure if I'm really conveying things very well here, lol! Let's just say I'm glad I'm staying at OKW with the nicer boats & leave it at that.

The Marketplace wasn't too crowded, but World of Disney was mobbed! There were huge long lines at every register - you'd have though everything was 75% off or something (it wasn't)! I went to the watch area and had to wait over 15 minutes or so for anyone to be free to be able to show me the watches, but when I finally did get someone she was very helpful and patient. Of course the watch I'd picked out last trip was nowhere to be found, probably discontinued. They had several more to pick from, but most were either way too big or to me they were ugly! Finally I settled on 1 - it's a gold color bracelet style watch. I can wear it by taking out the removable extra link - it's still big enough to be loose but will definitely stay on my wrist rather than going half way up my arm. It's got an oval face, a second hand, and a full-body character over a white background. The only thing I would have changed is it's not Mickey...it's Twitface (my friend Jan's nickname for Minnie). I guess it's too feminine looking to put Mickey on there. The links are sort of heart-shaped, and I guess it is a girlie watch. I liked it, felt it was priced fairly at $75, and it ended up being the very last one in stock so I got it!

Kathy arrived while I was finishing up at the watch counter, so we went outside to sit in the shade and visit while she was on break from her kids. She'd told them she'd be back in an hour to get them a meal, and left them playing in DisneyQuest. We ended up sitting over by Captain Jack's Margarita Bar and I got a virgin pina colada for my lunch ($3.98 plus $1 tip). It was delicious, but the many ice chips kept clogging the end of the straw until they melted. She had to leave around 3, so we made plans to meet again and I headed back to the marina. Again I just missed the Trumbo Ferry, but another came in what felt like less than 20 minutes. Again there were 3 of us riding back - both times the other 2 people were guests, not members. I wonder just how many of our units are rented out to nonmembers still?

Back at OKW I drove to building 45 and moved most of my stuff into the studio. I'm not sure the roller blades will get used this trip...it's SO dang hot even at 6 or 7 in the morning! Since I'm only here 3 nights I only unpacked clothes for those days and left the rest in the suitcase to save myself time later. It might seem like a bother moving so much, but since I've got business right in the middle of the trip it's something I have to do unless I want to foot the bill for those nights myself (which I definitely do NOT). With DVC there is no hotel bill - I use my points. The State cannot reimburse me for the value or even the cost of those points. If I have no hotel bill they can only give me $29 per night for my lodging...and the points are costing me more than that per night so I'll gladly move over to CS for the next leg of the trip.

I took some pictures of the studio, which turned out pretty well, and downloaded them onto the laptop. They'll end up on photopoint eventually - later this trip. I absolutely LOVE this resort, and think the studios are so pretty (much prettier than the ones at BW and HH, better laid out than Vero). I wish my room at Coronado was going to be this nice, but I guess for half the price you have to give up something! There is plenty of room in this studio for a family of 4 - even if the kids are teens. After updating the report I headed back out around 5pm or so, ready to attempt some park time in this awful heat! I realized I hadn't used the pedometer today, so grabbed that on my way out the door.

I went to the Turtle Pond bus stop and the Epcot bus had just arrived. It took the driver a very long time to load a young boy in a wheelchair but eventually the rest of us were allowed to board. I headed straight to Test Track, where the standby time said 90 minutes and the fast pass distribution was for 8:45-9:45 (they keep this ride running until 10pm). I went to the single rider line, of course. The cm was loudly announcing what the single rider line was about - saying that you will not ride with people you know and if you ask at the loading area to ride with another member of your party then your entire party will be removed and sent back to the regular line. It sounded kind of harsh to be hearing that at Disney, but they need to do it due to the people who get to the loading area and start whining about little Johnny being afraid - asking if they can ride in the same car. This slows down the loading process, which lengthens the wait for all guests. I'd rather they be strict about this rather than eliminate the single rider line all together! Besides, it's kind of nice to see Disney enforce ~anything~ for a change (just a touch of sarcasm here, thinking of their smoking policy in the parks). Anyway, I was in and out of Test Track within 15 minutes by using the single rider line.

It was about 6:15 and I was hungry, so I walked to World Showcase and headed to Morocco. At Tangierine Cafe I ordered the tomato salad ($1.25 for a 4-oz cup of diced tomato, cucumber & onion in a vinaigrette dressing). I knew I liked this, as it's the base of my favorite meal at the full service restaurant here - Oasis Chicken Salad. The tomato salad came with a piece of their bread, but no butter. It was good anyway, and was just the right amount of food. At the pastry shop here I sampled the white Moroccan wine, and recognized the brand as being the one I liked at the Food & Wine Festival last November, so I bought a glass ($4.51 with tax). I sat at a shaded outdoor table to eat my dinner, and some entertainers starting playing music a few minutes later. When they were almost done the 5 minute announcement for Tapestry of Nations came on, so I took my wine and crossed to the other side of the street where pedestrians wouldn't be walking in front of me, and waited for the parade. I passed the time chatting with another woman who was in this spot because one of the guidebooks said Moroccco was the best place to see it. It was a great spot - whether or not there's only 1 "best" spot is something I wouldn't be too sure about though. Tapestry of Nations was great, and I was glad I was in the right place at the right time, and was able to enjoy it without anyone in front of me.

When it ended, I continued around World Showcase with my wine, end ended up seeing the parade again as I walked. It was very pleasant, but if it was about 20 degrees cooler it would have been perfect. I finished World Showcase and exited Epcot through the International Gateway. Walking towards the marina at Yacht Club & Beach Club I passed Cinderella's coach being pulled by the small horses. No guests were on board though - they must have just finished a wedding or something. The boat to MGM was at the dock, and after a stop at Swan/Dolphin I arrived at MGM about 7:45.

The tip board had the Great Movie Ride listed as a 5 minute wait, so I headed there. Once inside though, I saw the entire movie room was jammed full of guests - no way would this be 5 minutes. Had I known, I would have skipped it, but since I was already inside I decided to stay this one time. It was so slow moving I saw the Mary Poppins piece of film 3 times! Many guests left the line and with the help of a cm exited out the side door, tired of waiting. Finally I got on the darn ride, and it was very good (cm did a great job). By now it was almost 8:45, and I wasn't in the mood for any more waiting, or even any rides or attractions. I swung by the candy store and bought a chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick, rolled in m&m's thing ($2) to bring back to OKW. On the way down Hollywood Boulevard I walked through one of the stores and stopped at the watch counter just to take a look. AAAACK!! They have my watch...the one I wanted in the first place but couldn't find anywhere!! The one I gave up on and got a different one! I couldn't believe it - and wished I'd never gone in the store! I like them both, but don't want or need 2 watches. Some people treat watches like any other jewelry or accessory - wearing different ones depending on what else they're wearing, but not me. I want 1 watch, and I'll wear that watch day after day after day. It's a no-brainer for me. I think I like the band on the one I bought better, but like the face on this one better. I don't plan to go back to MGM again, so I'll be happy with my new watch (and should probably stay away from watch displays the rest of the trip ).

I exited the park, and the OKW bus was waiting at the bus stop. It was just me and a very nice family with 2 young kids who were cute but WAY too loud for my taste! I eventually moved away from them. The mother kept trying to quiet them, to no avail. Their volume was just way too high and on a nearly empty bus that noise was bouncing around everywhere. This time I got off at SouthPoint, which is actually the closest stop to my studio. I just love walking home in OKW - it looks and feels nothing like a hotel....it is a neighborhood, and I'm so glad to be one of the people living here. As I got to my building I could see the high fireworks from Illuminations. If my studio was up 1 floor higher I probably could have seen them from my bed

I finished up the report, and did a bunch of online stuff while eating 1/4 of the marshmallow thingy. The day was great, and most of the plan was followed. I didn't have to mess with MK early entry since I already had my banana bread, so that allowed me to have more time in the morning. I opted for Stormalong Bay rather than a water park - partly out of fear of the crowds on a holiday weekend and partly because I knew I'd be leaving early to meet Kathy. Actually the idea of going to the water parks doesn't thrill me...I'm really happy with Stormalong Bay and might opt to just return there instead.

Total miles walked: 4.76 (didn't start it until I headed to Epcot at night)

DAY 3 - SUNDAY, MAY 28, 2000:

PLAN: MK at opening, Blizzard Beach, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: I forgot to mention yesterday - my studio is in perfect condition. Everything is clean, no wear & tear, everything is wonderful as usual. Even the chairs on the porch are clean, which is no easy accomplishment with white chairs! Having a hair dryer in the units is a nice touch, too. The only thing I'm not thrilled with is the clock/radios have a hard time picking up any decent fm station - but if that's the only thing I can complain about then I'm awfully lucky!

I'd set the radio to come on at 6:15, which was probably a little too early since I wasn't planning to get online, but I knew I had some Disney transportation plans this morning and you never know how long that's going to take! Once again though, I woke up 45 minutes early...and got up about 6 & made my bed - the studio looks picture perfect again, just the way I like it. I could care less at my regular home, but in my DVC homes I keep everything looking perfect. After a quick shower I heated the water for my cappuccino (back to the white chocolate raspberry for the rest of the trip) and worked out with the weights I'd brought. It's quicker & easier than trudging over to the exercise room. Once again it's expected to be 97 degrees today - ugh! Hopefully by later this week it will cool off and only be 90-92 each day.

I've decided to change the plan today and skip Blizzard Beach. I've never been, and am sure it's really nice, but I'm not really a slide person and just think I'll enjoy the relative peace at Stormalong Bay more than I'd enjoy a crowded water park during a holiday weekend within a period when they've got a special deal going on for annual pass holders.

I took my cappuccino and more of the banana nut bread out to my porch and had my breakfast outside to see why Darla (iluvDVC) is so crazy about the OKW porches - usually I'm online & don't have time for the porch. Well, it was pleasant, but didn't really do anything for me . There were some birds & ducks down below (No, I did NOT feed them, and nobody else was up that I could tell). Perhaps living in FL it's no big deal to sit on the porch here; I might feel differently if I'd left freezing weather at home and had arrived in warm sunny Florida - then the porch would be a treat.

Since I'd be going to Stormalong Bay after MK this morning, I drove to the Beach Club and took the MK bus from there. If I wasn't planning to use my fun noodle in the lazy river I would have just taken a bus from OKW, then take a bus to BC later, and then come back to OKW by transferring at either MGM or Downtown Disney. I left the room about 7:30 and was parked at the Beach Club by 7:40 - way too early to catch a bus to MK on a non-EE day! I sat at the bus stop for a little while, thinking I might have to consider adding some BC DVC points when they go on sale...not a lot, but enough for 5 nights in a studio.

I decided I didn't feel like sitting at a bus stop doing nothing, so I got up and walked over to the Boardwalk to wait for the bus there. I figured the time it took to walk would be about how long it would take for the buses to start running. The wait was still about 10 minutes after I reached BW, and then an empty bus arrived and took us directly to the MK. I was inside, walking down Main Street at 8:25. Strangely, it brought back memories of Disneyland last month - except stuff was bigger and more spread out. The shops were still closed but the bakery was open so I went in and bought another piece of banana nut bread ($2.11) for later in the week. I also got some ice water and sat at an outside table in the shade to wait for it to be time to stand by the rope near Tomorrowland. The shops weren't going to open until 9 (except the Emporium), which is a shame because I thought checking out the watch store would help pass the time. Forget what I said last night...I was still looking at watches .

The rope dropped at 9am and we all walked over to Space Mountain. Once again, the cm's were NOT letting guests inside, but were having them line up outside the door. What is up with that??? I really feel strongly that when that rope drops & the opening announcement is finished then all attractions should be ready to start boarding immediately! At least the fast pass machines were turned on this time, so I quickly used my 2 passes to get a couple fastpasses (1 was 9:20 and the other 9:25). I walked over to Fantasyland, not wanting to go too far since my fast pass time was coming up soon. The line for the new Pooh ride was completely filled in and extended back out across to where 20,000 Leagues used to be! It must have been a 20-30 minute wait, and the park had only been open less than 10 minutes - I couldn't believe it! I kept on walking, and walked right on Peter Pan's Flight. Captain Hook was riding alone in a car about 4 ahead of me.

I headed back to Tomorrowland, and rode Space Mountain twice - getting the same side and same seat both times. I still like the ride, even though it's not nearly as good as the one in Disneyland. Here I like that the sides of the rockets are lower so you feel like you're sitting up higher and are less protected, and the seats here are more comfortable and don't toss me around so badly. Here I don't like the slower speed, the jerkier ride, and I wish they had the music! A DVC friend is in Disneyland Paris right now...I was glad to have a Space Mountain that doesn't turn me upside down like the one over there (which I'd never ride).

My last stop was to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority - always a relaxing favorite. I was keeping my eyes open for pin carts for someone, but didn't see any on my way out of the park. At the candy store I got one of those chocolate medallions ($.80) and ate it quickly so it didn't melt all over the place. The Yacht Club/Beach Club bus was waiting at the bus stop, so I got on and soon it pulled away. Here's where it gets ugly. The stupid bus pulls into the Polynesian and picks up a bunch of people. One person has a wheelchair, which takes forever to get hooked up right. Then, it turns into the Grand Floridian and more people get on! While we're sitting there waiting for any more I went up and asked the bus driver if this bus was ever going to the Beach Club as advertised - and she said yes, after MGM. I about lost it there - told her there was no sign that this bus was going anywhere other than YC & BC, and although I understand she doesn't determine what routes she has to drive, I blame her for not telling me when I got on the bus that we'd be making an entire unrelated route before going to BC. I would have taken the Swan/Dolphin or BW bus and then walked over to Beach Club. I was really angry - and it took an hour to get back to the Beach Club! Next time I'll park in the Contemporary lot and walk over if I plan to leave the MK in mid-morning...who knows where I'd end up otherwise!

Ok, so finally we're back at Beach Club. I get the fun noodle from the car and head on out to Stormalong Bay. I was happy to find a lounge chair in the area I like, took off my shorts/tank top (swimsuit was worn underneath today) and floated around the lazy river several times to cool off. As usual, I spent some time sitting on the pool bench, did more floating around, then returned to my chair. It was 11:45 by now, and I was hungry! The waitress was nowhere to be seen, so I walked over to Hurricane Hanna's to get a fruit boat and a virgin pina colada. The fruit boat ($4.19) was huge, and full of honey dew, cantaloupe, some grapes & orange slices. It was delicious, but I couldn't finish it all. I wasn't able to get my pina colada because they'd just filled the machine & it wasn't frozen yet....same with the strawberry daiquiri. I was starting to think there was some conspiracy to prevent me from buying a frozen drink here, but after eating the fruit I was glad I didn't also have a frozen drink - no room! After eating I read more of that book for work, then floated some more, read some more, and then decided to leave when some bozo decided it to play catch with his kids. His kids were in the pool. He was on the walkway under cover at the Yacht Club. They were tossing this soggy ball way far over everyone in their chairs and water was spraying on my boss' book. Rather than say something to them (who needs crap like that on vacation) I decided I'd just leave since I was planning to as soon as my bathing suit dried anyway.

Well, the swimsuit wasn't entirely dry, so I decided I'd just put on my shorts and leave it at that - figuring I don't know anyone here & it doesn't matter how I'm dressed. As I'm walking in the Beach Club, almost to the lobby a family is coming from the opposite direction and the wife calls me by name! It was maximouse from aol - evidently she recognized me from some pictures, so we stopped to talk briefly. They'd just arrived for 1 night at the BC mainly for Stormalong Bay before moving to CBR for the rest of their vacation. She was very nice...and it was great to put another face to a name!

I got the car and drove across the street to MGM, wanting to take one last look at that watch. I ended up parking way at the end...as far away as you can get, so I rode the tram in. At the watch store the cm very patiently let me try on both the Mickey and Minnie watches while I tried to decide what I wanted to do. After great struggling with this decision I ended up deciding to just keep the watch I have. Although I like the Mickey face, the band on the watch isn't nearly as nice as the one on Minnie and is almost a little too casual. I know some people would say just get them both, but can you imagine me going through this every day - trying to decide which of the 2 watches to wear???? No thanks! So Jan, I'm sticking with Twitface....you just don't have to ask me what time it is in November, lol!

I left MGM immediately - didn't really want to be in a theme park wearing shorts & a bathing suit top - took the tram back to the car & returned to OKW. I finished the old banana nut bread and put the new one away. It was about 2:45 and I was looking forward to spending a few relaxing hours in my cool beautiful studio, but then I changed my mind.....

For whatever reason, and I'm not sure I'll ever understand it, I decided to go roller blading. Yep, nothing like rollerblading at 3pm when it's 97 degrees and humid outside - I must have left my brain at MGM. I skated from OKW over to Disney Institute on the Conch Flats trail. At DI I skated around all the bungalows and the townhouse area before returning to OKW (against the wind). By the time I got back I was starting to feel dizzy, so I slowed the pace and after putting the roller blades back in the car returned immediately to the air conditioned studio. I'd brought water with me, but it was actually hot in the bottle...just from me carrying it while skating. I took a nice long cool shower, and felt much better.

I updated the trip report, but the skating cut into my online time (skating took about an hour), and eliminated time to get dinner anywhere. I'd brought a couple of microwave popcorn things, so popped one of them about 5:15, figuring what I don't eat will be here waiting for me after PI tonight, and jumped online to take care of the email & message board downloading. Some friends were online, so I chatted a bit also. About 6:45 I drove quickly over to PI and was amazed at how full the parking lot was! I had to park 5-6 double rows back, which is very unusual for this time of night. I could see lots of smoke from a brush fire that flared up this afternoon in Volusia County (Daytona Beach is in Volusia). I actually don't mind the smell at all - it reminds me of having a fireplace, but it's a shame that people are being evacuated and some are losing their homes and property.

I entered PI about 7 and soon got in line at the Comedy Warehouse. Luckily the crowded parking lot didn't carry over here - crowds were pretty normal, maybe slightly busier due to the holiday weekend. I saw the first 3 shows - but by the 3rd one my seat was way towards the back. I counted guests ahead of me and got my favorite seats for the first one, and at the 2nd show I ended up being seated at a single empty seat in the very front row - which was ok. The actors played a new game in the 2nd show - they ask for a single syllable name, and then they make up a song or poem but every line has to end with a word that rhymes with that name, until an actor messes up and then he's out. The rest continue with another name, and so on until only 1 actor is left standing. One name given was Beth - which is pretty tough. I think Christine started that time, and then Mark did a long verse using up a few words that rhymed, so when it got to Layden he just gave up. They can't repeat a word, or they're out. It was a cute game, and worked very well - hope to see them use it more often.

I saw the family from Ft Pierce during the 3rd show, but didn't get to talk to them and they left before I did. On the way out for the night I stopped to say hi to Layden and confirm that he'd be working his normal schedule these next 2 weeks. I drove back to OKW, getting to the studio about 10:40 or so. I recharged the camcorder battery, finished the trip report, and then got online to take care of that stuff.

The day followed the plan as much as I wanted it to, with substituting Stormalong Bay for Blizzard Beach. I'll head back there tomorrow after AK, skipping the water park planned for the day again. A bonus today was going roller blading, despite it really being too hot for that. Maybe it'll be less hot after the conference and I can try it again at the end of the week or some day next week.

Total miles walked: 5

DAY 4 - MONDAY, MAY 29, 2000:

PLAN: Animal Kingdom at opening to meet a couple of people from work, water park, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: I'd set the alarm for 6, but woke up at 5:45 and just decided to get up then. If I wasn't meeting people, I think I could have slept another couple of hours, lol! Last year when I came here for the Sterling Conference one of the people I brought was Joe - our warehouse manager. He's one of my superstars - achieves remarkable results in the warehouse, and is always willing to take on extra unrelated duties. His wife Margaret works in our accounting office, which is another of the departments I'm responsible for. I've known them for years and they've known I go to WDW a lot, but WDW wasn't something that they were interested in...or so they thought! Margaret came up to enjoy the resort during last year's conference (spent days riding the monorail, browsing resorts, but no park access) and one night they had dinner at Chef Mickey's. Well, that was the final thing to push them over the edge into the world of Disney mania, lol! They loved everything they saw at WDW, and during the past year have become seasonal pass holders, have come up and stayed at Coronado Springs (and extended their stay while here), and now for the conference they arrived Saturday at their own expense so they'd have more park time! It's fun to convert new people . Anyway, we agreed to meet outside AK to ride the safari together & do a couple things before going our separate ways. Being relative newbies, they're still in park commando mode, but I'm sure some day they'll slow the pace down, lol!

Did the usual shower/cappuccino/banana nut bread routine. Since I didn't eat any of the marshmallow thingy last night (finished popcorn instead) I ate a little more of that. I've been known to eat solid chocolate for breakfast at 7am - it doesn't bother me what time of day it is when we're talking chocolate, but I realize it's not for everyone.

I'll drive to AK so I can then drive to Stormalong Bay afterwards without any lengthy bus trips. I might as well clarify something from yesterday, since at least 1 person misunderstood something in my report...I doubt the regular readers would jump to the same conclusion, but some people look for the worst. During the hour-long bus ride from MK to BC when it stopped at the Poly and loaded a wheelchair I was NOT begrudging the person in the wheelchair the right to ride that bus. My comment was strictly about the length of time it took the cm to secure the chair - it was the 2nd time this trip that this process took a lot longer than it normally does and I don't know whether it's just inexperienced drivers or if Disney has changed something that is making it take longer now. Period. Anyway, I'm not sure I'll be spending too much time at Stormalong Bay - after 2 days there I'm reaching my "sun" limit and don't need to overdo the tanning or risk a sunburn.

I left the studio about 7:15, knowing I'd be early at AK but when you're meeting park commando people it would be extremely disrespectful of them to be late when you're meeting for park opening, lol! Joe & Margaret arrived just before 8 (coming from CS via bus) and we entered the park. We immediately walked back to Harambe and got fast passes for Kilamanjaro Safari. I'd read that WDW resort keys also work, so we tried it. Our park passes weren't coded on our resort id's, but we still got a fast pass from the machine. We also got one with our park passes, and had about 35 minutes or so to kill until our 8:45 fast pass time so we headed to the Pangani Forest Trail. Joe & Margaret both love this park and spend a lot of time here during their visits, so this morning we just hit a few highlights and didn't worry about trying to see it all. All the gorillas were out on both sides, so we watched them for a while. There were 2 small ones on the family side, and the smallest one kept chasing after one of his parents and hitting him lightly with a stick as if to say "play with me".

By now it was fastpass time, so we did our 2 safari's. Both were great - all the animals were out by now yet it wasn't so warm they'd started to hide. The female lion was only partially visible, but the male was sleeping in full view. Two of the cheetahs were pacing back & forth, but we couldn't tell what they were watching (besides us, lol). By now it was almost 10, so we walked to Dinoland and checked out Dinosaur (formerly Countdown to Extinction - all that's changed is the name since my last trip). The fast pass time was 40 minutes away and the standby line said 30 minutes, so we took our chances with standby and were on within 15-20 minutes. It was a fun ride, as always. Joe mentioned that he'd been given some one-day park passes when he checked in (people at the conference rate arriving by Monday get them), and asked if I could use them since he knew my ap was expiring soon. The free passes expire 6/6, and their seasonal pass is valid through that entire period so they don't need them. I won't get any of my own because I'm not checking into CS on Tuesday, but I'll be glad to use theirs! This way I can get into a park a couple more days (thinking perhaps Saturday & next Tuesday) and not activate my new ap until I come back in July with Chris.

I stopped to call Bob and confirmed that he's going to try to stop by at breakfast time before the conference some day to see the rest of the group (until October Bob worked at our place - he was my boss). Joe & Margaret were staying in AK for a while longer, but it was time for me to leave. It was getting pretty cloudy but I decided to give Stormalong Bay a try anyway. I drove to the Beach Club and found a lounge chair easily (around 11-11:30). I floated in the lazy river, finished the book, updated my notes, and just sat/laid there relaxing. It was so cloudy and breezy it really wasn't hot at all. I ate another of those kippered beef things...one left, and I'll be glad when it's gone, lol! A couple bites is ok, but eating a whole one makes me thirsty - must be salt in it. Eventually the clouds were very dark & completely filled the sky, so I walked over to Hurricane Hanna's and bought another one of the fruit boats ($4.19) to bring back to OKW. I set the tray with the fruit on the empty chair next to me and walked a few yards away to throw some trash away. As soon as I left, 3 or more big birds came down to my tray to see what was there. Luckily the fruit is completely enclosed in a clear plastic container! I gathered up my stuff and headed back to the car to drive back to OKW - arriving about 1pm or so. This was as good a time as any to do the little bit of laundry that had accumulated. There won't be time for stuff like that during the conference. I drove over to the SouthPoint pool - figuring if it started raining I'd rather have the car than be stuck out walking with my laundry! I put the clothes in the washing machine and then relaxed in the pool for a while before returning to my lounge chair to read a magazine. There were about 20 or so people when I arrived, but with the dark skies & increasing wind soon there were only 3 of us left. Plenty of towels were available - self serve. A cm came by and refilled the towel bin and straightened all the chairs. I like this pool - and the one at Turtle Pond. The main pool has absolutely no appeal to me...too big & too crowded.

When my clothes were pretty much dry I returned to the studio. After another shower I updated the trip report and ate most of the fruit - while also watching General Hospital and doing the online stuff. It never did rain, and eventually the sun came back out. There's another brush fire - this one in Hunter's Creek subdivision which is very close to WDW. The Greenway (471 - the fast road from the airport to WDW) is closed due to the fire, and helicopters were dumping water on the area. The wind must be blowing in the other direction though, because I don't smell it outside at OKW. I also worked on the photopoint site - there are a handful of pictures out there now (although I see over 30 of you already went over to take a look) at www.photopoint.com and my albums are listed under WDW1972@aol.com The pics are in the May/Jun '00 WDW Trip album. I'll try to post some more in this weekend. Finally, I ate more of that marshmallow thingy...it won't transport well when I move to Coronado Springs tomorrow morning, lol! If I thought I'd be able to get into my room right away I wouldn't worry, but don't want to be having bell services hold my laptop, camcorder, and a 1/2 eaten marshmallow thingy!

I left the studio just after 5:30 and drove over to Pleasure Island. The thick smoke was still billowing up to the sky - it looked really bad, but I couldn't smell it at all. It's still very warm outside since the sun is back out. With an hour or more to kill, I browsed through the Marketplace and West Side and then found a bench in the shade to sit & people watch before entering Pleasure Island at 7pm. I was shocked to see a very long line at the Comedy Warehouse already, but I joined in and was seated in a single seat left in my favorite row (lucky). The waitress came over and asked "You want your Bye Bye Blue thing?" - lol! She also checked the schedule to let me know which shows Layden was working in tonight (1,3,4). The last game of the first show was the embarrassing story one, and Jennifer asked for a volunteer. When nobody raised their hand, I did, and used Donna's "you got any balls" story except I had to say it was me or they wouldn't have taken it. They won't take a story about another person unless that person is in the club at the time. They made up a song about it - it was pretty funny! After the show I let most of the other guests exit before me, then talked briefly with Leigh (the manager), who recognized me - I hadn't talked to her in a while. Layden came out from backstage, along with Jennifer, who thanked me for telling the story. I'd brought another vcr tape that I'd made with about 90 minutes of what I considered to be some of the best work the cast had done over the past 6 months of my visits. It's fun to do, and gives me a reason to play with the camcorder. I try to make sure to get something from every actor in there (even got Carol Stine the keyboard player this time), so they can all enjoy it and get to watch themselves at work. Anyway, I gave the tape to Layden, we chatted briefly and then I went outside.

The line for show 2 was very short, but I wasn't planning to see that one. Instead, I wandered around the street for a while. It had cooled off and was beautiful outside, and not crowded or smoky (cigarettes) at all! In one of the shops I saw a shirt I'd looked at last year sometime, but didn't buy it because it was a little too big. It's a short white fitted tee with cut out square neckline and the PI logo embroidered on the chest. It was on sale for 1/2 price, and I decided for 1/2 price I could live with less than perfect fit - I didn't have any PI shirts that I still wore, and wanted one. I bought the shirt and a new pin with the PI new year's eve logo, and got my 10% mkc discount. Since I'm changing resorts tomorrow I didn't ask about shipping it back to the resort though.

I then went back outside and sat at a table on the street to update my notes and kill time. It was actually very enjoyable sitting there watching the people & listening to the music. Normally when I skip a Comedy Warehouse show I pass the time in the Adventurer's Club, but I wasn't in the mood for that tonight. It's always freezing in there, and tonight I wasn't dressed warmly enough. About 9 I went up and got in line for show #3 (9:20), and ended up with another good seat, then immediately checked the line for show #4 and since it was still short I joined in and saw that show also. I talked to a group of people from San Francisco who were back at WDW for the first time in 14 years - very nice people. The cast did the game where an actor has to guess a strange saying, and Matt did an excellent job as the actor being tortured. He had to guess "Pop goes the hamster and other fun microwave games" - not very Disney, I guess, but it was funny!

After show 4 I went to the car and in less than 5 minutes I was home....have I mentioned I LOVE the location of OKW?? LOL - it's perfect for me! Back in the studio I was starving, so I finished the fruit and the marshmallow thingy (not exactly a feeding frenzy, but I don't remember having dinner...I'd have to read back up the report). After recharging the camcorder battery, taking care of email, I downloaded the online stuff while finishing the report. The trouble with staying for the 4th show is it means I'm up until at least 1-2 am, and once the conference starts (7am daily) I can't be staying up that late so I'll have to limit myself to nothing later than 3rd show :( Tonight I stayed because I'm not having to be anywhere in the morning.

Today went according to the revised plan, meaning Stormalong Bay was substituted for the water park. I could have done with fewer clouds, but overall it was still a wonderful day. Tomorrow I've got to pack up at OKW, move to CS, register for the conference, and do my Disney seminar (looking forward to that). I might stop by the DVC member breakfast/update thing, to see what they're saying about WL and now Beach Club Villas.

Total miles walked: Pedometer says 4, but I forgot to use it after AK this morning!

DAY 5 - TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2000:

PLAN: Check out of OKW, check in to CS, maybe some park briefly in morning, "Disney Approach to Operational Excellence" seminar 1-5pm, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: After going to bed at 2:30 I ended up waking up at 4:30! Fortunately, I fell back asleep, and got up shortly after 6:30 (the alarm wasn't set until 7:30). I showered, dressed, and headed for the DVC member update at Community Hall. It was a nice walk, and still no smoke smell from the fires. The update wasn't very crowded, which is unusual from my experiences! They gave each member the choice of a beach ball or a DVC license plate. The license plate is the metal one they sell in the store - not the plastic one they mailed to all of us. The big difference is this one doesn't have that $10,000 (or much more for many of us) word...."member", lol! I took the license plate, as did most of the others.

As far as news from DVC - they said they hope to start taking points reservations for WL Villas in September, and to watch the Fall newsletter for information. That resort will open to the public January 1, but they're hoping to do a soft opening before then...no additional details were available. At the new Beach Club Villas, as you're returning from Epcot there's an area full of trees between Epcot and the volleyball court. That's where our wing is going to be built - ground breaking this June, occupancy expected in 2004 or 2005. They said there won't be any more off-site DVC resorts announced until they get Hilton Head or Vero sold out. They talked a lot about the non-DVC places we can use our points, and several of the other members there had tried some of the resorts in the Concierge Collection and enjoyed them very much. Someone asked if we'd be able to use our points for AK Lodge, and the answer is yes. The distinction is if it's better than an All Star level resort we'd be able to use our points (except in cases where there's a DVC section at the resort, like BW and soon WL & BC). We won't be able to use our points at the new Decades (6000 room value resort) place though. They said DVC members in general don't like the All Star level resorts, and definitely are NOT interested in staying in a 6000 room place. Someone spoke up that they'd gone over to eat in All Star Movies and most of the adults in their party kept saying "get me out of here" - it's too crowded, noisy, & "cheap" compared to a DVC resort. For me, the All Stars can serve a purpose, but I'm generally a party of 1. DVC resorts will always be my primary place to stay though...I definitely AM spoiled and am not ashamed to admit it!

After the update ended I stopped at the front desk to have them make a note to call me at Coronado when my new camera arrives (it's supposed to be here by 5/31) so I can come by & pick it up rather than having them just hold it until I come back on Sunday. I walked back to my studio, one last time :::sigh:::, and packed up most of the rest of my stuff. I stayed in the air conditioned room and went online to pass the time until I left about 11 for Coronado Springs. Let me tell you, it's very strange to be wearing a dress, panty hose, and high heels to check in to Coronado Springs (or any WDW resort for that matter)! At least it's a Minnie Mouse jumper, so I'm themed appropriately . I'm really hating having to leave OKW, but also looking forward to starting the conference (assuming it's as great as last year). I'll miss the luxury of having the entire day & night to just do whatever I want, but I'll just remind myself that's the price I'm paying to be up here this time. Thank goodness I've got another OKW stay coming up in 5 days!

Woohoo - the front desk called to let me know my camera had arrived, so I swung by the front desk on the way out of OKW. Arriving at CS I was surprised to be given my choice of rooms that were ready now - at just after 11 am! There was one in Casitas and 1 in Cabanas - so for me it was a very easy choice...Cabanas. They were both about equal distance from the actual convention center, so I went with the much quieter & less congested Cabanas. The cm gave me a room with a water view, too - I overlook the lake, little white sand beach with hammocks, and the Dig Site is off to my right. It's wonderful, and I never expected this for my $109 annual pass rate! I parked over by my building (8B) and moved into my room. I actually like CS a lot, but coming from OKW it's definitely a step down. Everything is clean, fresh & attractive, but is just a tiny bit ~cheaper~ looking & feeling somehow - from the bedspreads, the carpet, the furniture, even the sink. It's perfectly adequate, though, and I'll be happy here. I unpacked part of my stuff and then headed over to the main building and registered for the conference.

We all get an attractive black tote bag, a 3-ring binder with conference materials, and I also got my ticket to today's seminar and Friday night's banquet. On my way to the Pepper Market I ran into Joe and stopped to chat with him before he continued to his room to get cleaned up (he & Margaret had been to MGM this morning) and I got seated for lunch. The waitress took my drink order (just ice water) and I ended up getting the kid's pasta meal. I must have been hungry or something, because I ate the entire meal - don't think I've ever done that before! I had time, so I opened up my camera and used the manual to figure out how to get it set up. It's a Fujifilm Endeavor 350ix zoom APS camera, which I mainly bought for the zoom feature. I'm not sure when I'll really get to try it out, but I'll bring it to the conference with me just in case.

A little before 1pm I went to the room for my seminar - The Disney Approach to Operational Excellence. They had a slide/video show going on, set to music, showing scenes from all the resorts and then all the parks. I would have been happy to just watch that for an hour, lol! The speaker was a guy named Jeff from the Disney Institute, and he explained that this was a 4 hour executive summary of a 4-day program given at DI. He was very knowledgeable and a good speaker. I picked up a bunch of WDW information, and more importantly saw what they are doing as a company to deal with many of the same problems and issues I deal with...and the others in the class deal with also. We had people from health care, hospitality, government, finance, etc - so it was a good group. If you spoke up to answer a question or share a thought you were handed the microphone so everyone would hear you clearly and Jeff would give you a small Disney figurine. I ended up with 3 of them, I think.

Some interesting stuff about WDW - they've got 55,000 cast members. Last year they hired 16,500 new cast members. They've got less than 20% turnover, which is outstanding for their industry - most of their competitors in the area are happy if they run less than 100% turnover. We talked about what operational excellence means, what the 4 main categories are, and what the benefits of each are to the organization and the customer. Later we were each issued a radio ear phone thing to wear and were taken outside to board a Disney Cruise Line bus for some behind the scenes touring! I was surprised...I swear I asked the Sterling people if this was a classroom seminar or a tour, and they told me classroom. I would not have worn high heels if I'd known I'd be walking!! Despite that, though, I was grinning all the way to the bus (oops - motor coach). We were headed to Central Shops, a 298,000 square foot maintenance & manufacturing facility over behind the MK. Getting off the bus we were split into 2 groups and everyone not wearing glasses was issued a pair of safety goggles to wear inside. We saw the paint shop, sheet metal, laser cutting, animatronics, the place where they make all the character heads for every park in the world, and a bunch of other things. We saw some Small World dolls being worked on, ride vehicles from several attractions, animatronics from Jungle Cruise, and horses from the Carousel. Disney pulls everything out of service to be completely refurbished - stripped down and all parts replace, the exterior x-rayed for any stress - on a regular cycle to prevent ride/attraction breakdowns. For example, the rockets on Space Mountain take 2.5 years to complete refurbishing them all. They build their own trams here - we saw them working on some for the Backlot Tour at MGM. In Small World they have so many dolls they can just pull some out to work on and the show is not diminished.

They were doing a lot of work for Tokyo Sea right now, and we saw the ride vehicles for the Superstar Limo ride at the new Disney's California Adventure park. The guide explained that when Eisner came in he insisted that each department operate as it's own business - so when work needs to be done Central Shops puts in a bid to do the job and competes with any outside companies. Sometimes they get the work, sometimes they don't! Evidently they got the winning bid for the Tokyo stuff. The carousel horses are all wood - no screws or nails anywhere in them. Each horse has a more elaborate "show" side and a more plain other side. I'd never noticed that before, and I guess most guests don't - but check it out next time. We saw many character heads, and got to lift an older version and a new version - the old one weighed so much the costume required a back brace, but the new one is very light. They'd experimented with a cooling system years ago, but in the FL humidity it caused the character to emit fog - so that idea was stopped.

It was a really cool tour, and it was also fascinating to see how they track & share their results with the front line workers, and how they get every person focused on the guest, regardless of their job. All the cm's seemed to be happy to be at work, too. After returning to CS we talked more about processes (using Fastpass as the example), partnering (using how at GF the laundry & kitchen people worked together to solve the problem of silverware getting wrapped up in tablecloths and shipped to the laundry), performance, and Disney's version of the continuous improvement cycle. It was a great seminar - and I kind of wish we'd had 4 days to do it all rather than just hitting the highlights so quickly.

We wrapped up at 5, and I rushed back to the room (well ok, with the heels I kind of hobbled painfully back to the room) to update the report and get ready to go out. I wasn't needing dinner after that lunch, but ate a cinnamon bun I'd saved from the member update at OKW, so that would save me some time at least. Linda (elfriar) is meeting me at Comedy Warehouse at 7pm, so I can't be late! Unfortunately, I'd picked up a pin for her on my trip last month, and can't find it! Hopefully it'll turn up later or I'll bring it to her next time. I left the room about 6:30 to head over to PI, knowing it's a longer commute than from OKW .

Once inside PI I sat on the steps of the Adventurer's Club until Linda arrived, then we got in line at the Comedy Warehouse. The Island was very uncrowded tonight - we were seated in the 2nd row on the floor, and the club wasn't even half full. Despite it being the first show, and the audience being so small, the actors did an outstanding job (Layden, Mark, Matt, Mary & Christine)! Sometimes the first show is a little bit slower than the others, but everyone seemed really ~on~ tonight. I was hoping this would carry through to the other shows. We got back in line for show #2, and it included Philip & Jeanette in place of Christine & Matt - but this one was good but not as funny as the first I think due to the particular mix of games that they scheduled for this show. We left after show 2, having planned on skipping show 3. We headed to the Adventurer's Club, which was freezing cold and not much was going on there. After a while we went back outside to wander around, looking in the animation store and then heading to the Jazz Club to see if Nancy was available to say hi (since it wasn't busy). In the Jazz Club Linda went to talk to someone about the band performing (a favorite of her husband's) and I found a manager to go let Nancy know I was here (she works in culinary). It turned out Nancy wasn't busy tonight so we got to chat for quite a while, and then Linda came over to meet her also.

Nancy & I confirmed our plans for next week, and then Linda & I went back outside. We left PI and browsed in the Hoy Poloi gallery/store at the West Side. Some of the stuff was nice, but some was just plain dumb in my opinion. Linda really likes a blue crystal bowl they have there, but at $800 she's living without it, lol! We stopped at the Candy Cauldron to see if they were making the proper marshmallow things, but they were not. I bought a plain chocolate covered pretzel because the chocolate & m&m ones look so good but I'm not sure I like chocolate on pretzel. This way if I hate it I've only thrown away $1 rather than $2.65! At this point it was a little after 10pm. She'd promised her husband she'd be home early, so she was ready to leave. I really wanted to see the 4th comedy show, but it was just too late for me since the conference is starting at 7am! I wouldn't have gotten back to CS until about midnight, and then would have the trip report and online stuff to do...I'll have to wait until the next week to see the later shows. :( Linda's going to meet me at Comedy Warehouse again this Thursday, so we said good bye until then (maybe I can find her pin by then....)

I drove back to CS, and absolutely HATE that you have to insert your resort id into a machine to open the gate to the parking lot. First of all, I have to practically pull on top of the darn machine in order to reach it. Second, I end up having to put my card in repeatedly before it works! It's really aggravating, but I don't think it would bother me quite as much if I was bigger and could reach it more easily! The view of the lights reflecting on the lake outside my room is really pretty - too bad there are no balconies here. I updated the report, got online, and hopefully will be turning out the lights shortly after midnight.

It was a good day, but didn't exactly follow the plan. The DVC member update was a last minute addition, and was enjoyable. I skipped the parks - it wasn't worth getting all hot & risking the transportation nightmares, knowing I'd only have an hour or less in any park. It was much more relaxing just spending the time at ~home~ until it was time to move to CS. The Disney seminar was even better than I'd imagined it would be, and meeting Linda at PI was fun as always - plus seeing Nancy was another bonus.

Total miles walked: 3

DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 2000:

PLAN: Conference 7-5, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: To my surprise, I actually liked the chocolate covered pretzel last night! I was afraid it would be salty, but it wasn't - it reminded me more of a chocolate covered biscuit. It looks like I've found another staple for my vacation diet...I'll have to be sure to take trips long enough to fit in the marshmallow thingy and a pretzel or 2, lol.

Today's the first day of the actual Sterling Conference, starting with continental breakfast from 7-8am. I'd set the alarm for 5:30, to give plenty of time to get ready & relax with my cappuccino before walking over (not wearing heals again until Friday night, lol) to meet the rest of my team at the breakfast area. However, I forgot to turn it on :::GASP::: but luckily woke up at 6:15. It was late, but at least I had a chance of getting there before the first speaker started, lol! I showered, dressed quickly, and made a cup of cappuccino - I can eat something when I get over to the conference area. The breakfast wasn't anything spectacular - bagels, danish, whole fruit, juices & coffee/tee. We ate outside, since it wasn't hot yet.

At 8 it was time for the conference to start. The ballroom is huge, and I'd estimate there were 1500-2000 chairs set up in there. They were squeezed in tightly - touching each other and the space between rows was way too small. Even I thought there wasn't enough space, lol, and I can manage fine in an airline seat! I was squeezed behind Joe's shoulder on my left and was right up against some unknown woman on my right. Any group of 3 slightly chubby people had to spread themselves across 4 chairs - it was that tight! They started off with a color guard from some school or academy, and then some kids from the Celebration School recited the pledge of allegiance. Next the Voices of Liberty sang the national anthem and then did a few more of their songs. During the national anthem there were small fireworks coming from the ceiling and floor - a nice touch. We had no marching band like last year, though - I think last year it was a portion of the MK marching band, which doesn't exist anymore.

The first keynote speaker was Dr. Oren Harari, a management expert who's latest book is "Beep! Beep! Competing in the Age of the Road Runner" - not sure why a Warner character would be mentioned on Disney property, lol! Actually, he talked about challenging the traditional business setting and reveal the new rules of the road. From there I attended a workshop on The Nature of Human Nature, and later in the day attend one on Why Quality Fails: What NOT to do in your quality initiative. The final keynote speaker to close today was Phillip Van Hoosier talking about leadership in a changing environment. All the presentations were excellent in terms of content and presentation.

Lunch was a working lunch - they call it Table Topics. Basically at each table for 10 there is a facilitator and you spend lunch talking about a specific topic, sharing ideas with 9 others interested in that same topic. They're not serving dessert in the ballroom this year, but rather serve dessert in the Expo right after the luncheon. My table talked about involving employees in the strategic planning process, and one of the other people there works at one of our mental health institutions and so we chatted briefly afterwards. The lunch itself was ok, but nothing special. They started with a cream of chicken soup that was pretty good. There was a basket of corn muffins on the table, but the one I took was still frozen! I broke off a little piece, ate it, and then was gulping down tea to cool the effects of the jalapeno peppers in the muffin! The rest of the meal was a scoop of pretty good red skinned potato salad, some unusual salad greens & veggies, and a wrap sandwich. The wrap was actually good - due to some sort of flavorful dressing or something in there, and I ate half of it.

The expo is basically an exhibition trade show of quality related products & services, and an opportunity to network. I spent some time with my friend Mike from Tallahassee - the one who puts our financial mgt meetings in Orlando for me - and talked to some other people I hadn't seen yet. The dessert consisted of all the Disney ice cream products they sell at the wagons in the parks - no thrill for me, and I didn't bother with any of them, but most people ate one (or more).

After the final keynote speaker the expo was open again for more networking, and they had a mariachi band and hors d'oevres, but it was tired of meeting stuff by now. I'd been going without a break from 7am until 4:45pm and didn't want to stick around until 6 or 6:30! Instead, I walked quickly back to the room to update the report, take care of email & online stuff, and get ready to go to the Comedy Warehouse.

I left the room about 6:45, entering PI about 7 and immediately getting in line at the Comedy Warehouse. The crowds were light enough that I was able to see the first 3 shows - and was seated in the front row behind the tables for the first 2. All the shows were great, with the 3rd show getting a bit wilder - often as it gets later in the night the actors cut loose more and say stuff that they might not ordinarily say. They asked for an embarrassing story again, and when nobody volunteered I gave the story about my rollerblading accident. Krista took the information, and was laughing and then apologizing for laughing, lol. I guess laughing at someone who fell, somersaulting off the sidewalk and down into a ditch isn't very Disney-like, but I admit it must have looked funny! They made up a song about the incident - I think it might have been a western ballad.

After the show I chatted with Layden for a little while. I wanted to let him know I really liked the new game where they have to rhyme with a one-syllable name (it's set to the music of Do Run Run Run) - and found out that they all love doing it also. It's a great opening to the show - very upbeat & fun, and he pointed out that since they do a lot of rhyming anyway, this was a natural. We also talked about the 1 game that I really don't like at all - and it turns out most of the actors hate doing it also. They're going to keep trying it, though, to see if they can do it better. I told him there'd only been one time that I'd seen it where it was really funny, (one night with him & Philip) and it was mainly because Philip blurted out something really inappropriate and that cracked everyone up including the 2 of them. Otherwise, it's generally a snoozer (the game is called transformations). It's interesting to get a behind the scenes perspective, whether it's a theme park, Central Shops, or the Comedy Warehouse...I love seeing how WDW ~works~.

We said goodnight - and after figuring out which door could be opened, lol, I exited the club and left Pleasure Island. I made a quick stop at the Candy Cauldron to get another of those great chocolate pretzels, and realized I hadn't bought a Mickey truffle this trip - so I got one of each ($1.69). The lady behind me was buying 60 of the white chocolate pretzels - wow! I'd eaten part of the banana nut bread before going out tonight, but no real dinner - I might finish the banana bread tomorrow night. After buying the candy I started driving back to CS, but encountered a serious accident along the way. They had the entire road closed, so I had to turn off on the road to MK. After traveling a while I came across yet another accident or problem - 2 big charter busses were in the median - one of them straddling a fairly wide & deep ditch! Several passengers were standing along the side of the road, and of course traffic was backing up with rubber-neckers! I was able to get to the other side of the road and get to CS, but it took longer than it would have without the accidents.

Coming in to CS tonight a car had opened the gate, and all 4 of us drove on through without the gate coming back down - so I didn't have to mess with putting my card in the machine! I was back in the room just before 11pm. I ate the ears off the Mickey truffle (might want his head tomorrow, lol) and the entire pretzel - I really do like those things! After checking to make sure the alarm is actually set for tomorrow morning, I finished the report and then went online.

Today went exactly according to plan, and was a good day despite it being somewhat tiring. This is a great conference, and I'm enjoying talking to the different people. I might try to take a break during the day tomorrow though, assuming I shut up long enough to do so .

Total miles walked: I've decided to skip the pedometer on non-park days.

DAY 7 - THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 2000:

PLAN: Conference 7-5, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: I can't believe it's day 7 already! It's scary somehow, like the trip is going to be over too soon, but the number of days left is still longer than some of the trips I take so I shouldn't be concerned. I've been so busy I haven't wandered around CS or used any of the amenities - heck, I never got around to finishing the unpacking yet!

The alarm was set for 6:35, and I woke up at 6:30 - now that's more like it ! I showered, at the Mickey truffle head, made my cappuccino, and read some of the downloaded message board messages while getting ready for the day. There was a schedule change and the opening speaker won't be starting until 8:30 today - with breakfast/networking from 7-8:30. I don't need networking at 7am, lol - there will be time for that later! I called the office at 8 to talk to the person left in charge about that purchasing problem that was discovered just before I left, and then headed over to the convention center to grab a bagel to eat during the first session. I was mortified to realize as I was walking over there, that my knee-hi's (never worn before) had lost their elasticity and were falling down! I was tempted to stop at a trash can to take them off and throw them away, but each time there were other people around. I managed to get them pulled back up when I got to the convention center (how embarrassing). I found someone I needed to talk to, to get some technical help for my purchasing staff member and had time for about 1/2 the bagel while we were talking.

The opening keynote speaker was Tilak Mandadi from Dell Computer Company talking about "E-Business is your Business. Midway thru the talk I was beeped - so went to call the office to deal with a situation created as a result of the purchasing problem (basically, how to spend $230,000 fast before we lose it at the end of June). I really didn't get anything out of the speech, since I'd missed the whole middle of it, but talking to one of my team members it doesn't sound like this was a particularly great one! From there I attended a seminar called Emotional Intelligence - Optimizing Performance of the Human System, and then lunch was another Table Topics session. Both the morning seminar and the lunch were excellent! For food, we had rolls rather than frozen spicy corn muffins...so we were off to a good start, lol! Next came a salad with some funky types of lettuce, but very tasty. The entree was a delicious chicken breast over white and red linguine, with sautéed yellow squash & pearl onions and a big stalk of broccoli. I ate most of the chicken & pasta - enjoying every bite! I think everyone pretty much cleaned their plate today - it was a popular lunch.

After lunch was more networking and time in the expo, but first I returned to the room for a brief break. On the way those stupid knee hi's fell again, and were flapping around my ankles below the hem line on my pants! I felt like such a dork!!! Back in the room they were immediately put in the trash can, lol! Housekeeping had already come, and each day she's been leaving another whole set of soaps & shampoo - plus more coffee. This is strange & unnecessary because I've not used the coffee that was here when I checked in, and have only opened 1 bar of soap (which is still being used). It seems wasteful for her to be doing this, but whatever! I worked out with the weights, updated the report, and read some of the downloaded messages until I headed to catch a bus back to the convention center.

I got to the expo for the last half hour or so - and they were all out of the dessert (cookies & brownies)! I was kind of ticked off to have missed it, and I got there only 15 minutes after it opened. Either the other conference attendees are a bunch of vultures, or they didn't order enough! Now that I had cookies on my mind, I had to go to the store at the Pepper Market and bought one for $1.86 - ate part of it and saved the rest for later (wasn't hungry after that big lunch, the cookie just sounded good). My afternoon seminar was on the Changing Culture of the Marketplace - and was excellent!

Joe was taking the changing culture seminar also, and I had time to talk to him before it started. I'd been wanting to do something to compensate him for the work he'd done this past year - he took the same intensive class that I did October thru April, and did very well, and is always taking on additional duties. A pay increase is not possible due to some budget issues, and I'd been working with a few of the other executive managers to develop a plan for paying out bonuses to staff, tied to our strategic objectives - but recently the head of our agency put a stop to all of that pending her expensive consultant's recommendations due in April 2001! Talk about discouraging...it's so typical "government". Joe knew about the bonus thing being worked on, so I told him that was not going to happen in the next year, but that I wanted to book a studio at OKW for him (& Margaret) for a couple nights in December (they've never seen the holiday stuff) to show my appreciation for his hard work and excellent results. He was thrilled, but later expressed concern that it shouldn't come out of my pocket - and if we were in the private sector I'd be able to send him on a trip and charge it to the company, but that's not an option for us in government. I explained that the OKW thing was something I ~can~ do, and want to do, so now all I need is their preferred dates so I can call member services.

At this point, 2 days into a 3.5 day conference it's amazing to me that I can spot so many people that I've met and talked to in that short time (out of about 1500 people). In my afternoon seminar of about 80 people there are an awful lot that I've already met earlier in the conference, and some of the others are at least looking familiar!

Our final keynote speaker was Dr. Albert Maringer from Siemens Industrial Services (in Germany) on High Performance: Best Practice Analysis and Sharing - which I found pretty boring (good information, just too dry for late in the day). The expo's open again until 5:30, but I need that time to get ready for my evening so I walked back to my room.

After updating the report I got online to take care of the email and send a few photos to photopoint. I left the room about 6:30 to drive to Pleasure Island and meet Linda outside of the Comedy Warehouse. She ended up not being there, and wasn't there when I got out of show #1, so evidently she wasn't able to make it after all. A couple of regulars were in line and recognized me from several months ago, so I chatted with them briefly. They live just 40 miles away, and it had been a month since they were here (a long time for them).

The first show was great, and I was thrilled to see Steve working! He's in Los Angeles now, but comes back from time to time. He was the first actor I remember seeing when I first came to the club about 10 years ago, and he's very good. One funny thing - after the keyboard player (Carol tonight) plays the intro, 1 of the actors comes thru the center doors onto the stage - fairly quickly. Tonight Carol finished playing, and nothing happened. We waited...still nothing. Finally, Layden opened the doors & stood in the doorway laughing - evidently someone had locked all the doors on stage so they didn't open, lol! The other actors unlocked the other doors, and they referred back to it a couple of times during the show.

I skipped show #2 and just wandered around the street before sitting to relax & people watch. It was definitely busier tonight - due to cast night and also a large influx of the gay day crowd. There were also several more PI security guys wandering around, so I guess they must expect really big crowds later. It got very smoky from the fires nearby - the sky was gray and looking off into the distance you could see the haze from the smoke. It smelled great though - unlike cigarettes - the Island smelled like a fireplace in a mountain cabin somewhere. Still, I hope they get them put out soon!

As far as the other guests, I don't know when I've ever seen more men who obviously work out at least a little bit, wearing tight tank tops...it was like it was the unofficial uniform for the night or something! This may be an unfair generalization, but I wonder why such a larger percentage of gay men take time to stay in shape and with non-gay men a much smaller percentage seems to do this. All those fit men in tight tank tops...what a shame (for women) that they're all gay, lol!

I went back for show #3, and the crowd was much more lively - as was the cast. It was a very funny show, and I love it when they look like they're having so much fun - it carries over to the guests and makes the show that much better. I left after this show, not because I didn't want to see show #4 (I would have loved to), but because tomorrow is another early day.

I stopped at the Candy Cauldron on the West Side and tonight really splurged. Since I won't be back here Friday or Saturday night, I bought 3 of the chocolate covered pretzels (includes 1 for tonight) and also bought one of the fancier ones - with toffee pieces & some colored circus pieces ($5.64). There was nothing else I needed to look for, so I left PI (trying not to laugh when a tall blonde handsome PI security guard said hi to me as I was walking past him - Diana's story has made it impossible for me to interact with these people, lol) and drove back to CS. Luckily there were no accidents or any other problems, and I got back to the room shortly after 10:30.

The toffee pretzel was pretty good - but not really good enough to buy another one, I don't think. I ate just a couple of bites & saved the rest for another day, since I wanted to eat one of the plain chocolate ones. After finishing the report I did the online stuff and hopefully will get to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour.

The day went exactly according to the plan...no surprises, additions, deletions. I could have lived without the purchasing problem stuff, but I can't disappear for 2.5 weeks and not deal with stuff that might come up while I'm gone. Tomorrow's the last day of the conference, including the big banquet tomorrow night...hope it's as wonderful as the one last year!

Total miles walked: No pedometer - not a park day

DAY 8 - FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2000:

PLAN: Conference 7-12:30, Governor's Sterling Banquet at night

ACTUAL: The alarm was set for 6:10, and I double checked it before going to sleep! The fog & fires caused a 30 vehicle series of crashes on I-95 in Brevard County which closed the interstate for 14 miles. They're expecting it to reopen later this morning. I showered, and then made hot chocolate rather than cappuccino - for a change of pace. I'd noticed too late yesterday that they had packets of hot chocolate at the conference, so I put one in my bag for this morning. It's hard to believe the conference is starting to wind down...we've done so much, and the time has passed so quickly!

I headed over about 7:30 and grabbed a bagel to eat before & during the morning keynote address. Dr. Mike Ward from NC Public Schools talked about Lessons Learned: A Govt Agency's Quality Journey. Before I went inside though, Bob arrived, so I spent the time talking with him rather than at the address. Last weekend I'd heard a commercial for a tv special on foster parenting & adoptions, and wondered if he'd be on it, but was busy and didn't get to watch - turns out he was interviewed as part of the show (he's the head of the agency that handles those functions & most other human services for this area of FL). He's had to get used to being recognized when he's out around town - people come up to him and say "you're Bob Morin", lol - because they see him on tv & in the paper. His company is still here, and he suggested he & his wife break away to meet me at PI tomorrow night, but I really didn't want to put up with the crowds there on a Saturday night (especially with the addition of gay day and a special concert performer - Taylor Dayne). We'll try to meet at PI another night - after his company goes back home next week sometime.

I had 2 morning seminars, of 1 hour each - Communication for Leaders, and Leadership Through Strategic and Operational Planning. Not exactly Keys to the Kingdom, lol, but interesting to some people. The first one was done by Valerie Oberle, who spent 26.5 years working for WDW, and was the first female vice president in the company. She was excellent - the time flew by and her examples all referenced WDW and how they communicate with and motivate their cast members. It was great! The second one...can you spell Zzzzzzzz? The topic was actually good, the material relevant, but the speaker was not very exciting. At one point he had us all stand, introduce ourselves to someone next to us, then turn single file & get close, put our hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them, and massage. There was never any explanation of why, and it never tied into anything he talked about, so we were kind of puzzled. I'm not a massage person anyway - a massage is something I'd NEVER get...I enjoy the tension in my body, lol - and massage just plain hurts! A gentle touch or caress is fine...a massage is not enjoyable.

I called member services to book the studio for Joe - he & Margaret were interested in any days the week of 12/10 or 12/17. The person at ms said the week of 12/17 looked much better, so I booked the Sunday/Monday of that week for them.

The closing keynote address was Michael Huyghue (senior vp) of the Jacksonville Jaguars, talking about A Model for Success. He was also outstanding! I know nothing about football, and don't care to know anything about football itself. However, ~how~ a football team works IS interesting to me...just don't talk about the game of football, lol! His speech ended at 12:30 and I returned to the room. There's a couple of post conference sessions that fill the afternoon, but I think the Dig Site is calling my name more loudly than either seminar.

By 1pm I was laying on a lounge chair over at the Dig Site! The pool wasn't very crowded, but then it's so large that it's never seemed crowded to me. I alternated between my chair, the pool, back to the chair, etc. The water felt cool, and the water being pumped into the pool was cold - I guess they're trying to keep it from getting too warm. Anyone coming here, be careful on the pool deck - with wet feet it's extremely slippery!

A very nice young pool boy came by and took my order for a pina colada. I'd wanted one without the alcohol (fewer calories), but they only have the kind with alcohol so I ordered it anyway. He brought it back promptly, and was very friendly ($6.30 including $1 tip). He waited to see if I didn't like the taste of alcohol, but I assured him it was fine - and it was. I finished my magazine & people watched a while. A cm brought out the basketball game, and a bunch of kids were playing it in a corner of the pool.

Just before 3 I returned to the room to shower & update the report while watching General Hospital and working out with the weights. Housekeeping brought a letter - same as last year. It basically says "...On Sat 6/3, we are expecting a very busy day at the MK. To ensure that everyone has a chance to take full advantage of what our theme parks have to offer, we will open the MK, Epcot, and MGM at 7:30 am exclusively for our Resort Guests." All of AK will also be open at 7:30 that day.

I didn't eat lunch today - but purposely had a cup of hot chocolate around 11 and then with the pina colada I wasn't hungry at all - but might eat some of the toffee pretzel thing later.

Left room about 6:15 for banquet...and decided to take the next bus up to the front of the resort. It felt strange climbing on a bus all dressed up in evening clothes, but with high heels it was much easier than walking! I met up with the rest of my team, and eventually some trumpeters started playing to signal it was time to enter the ballroom. Once inside I decided to get a glass of wine, so I went back outside to the bar. They only took cash there, and I only had my resort id with me. The cm suggested I go to the gift shop and use my card to buy a small bottle of wine & bring it back inside. That was too far to go, with not enough time in my opinion, so I didn't do it. Instead, one of my team lent me the cash and I went back outside - only to find they'd closed up the register and were moving to a corner inside the ballroom. I followed the cm back inside, and had to wait while they brought her a table. I've never had such difficulty getting a glass of wine - it was frustrating ($4.75)! Finally I got my glass of wine and returned to the table.

There were 1100 people at the banquet, and our table was actually in a pretty good location. They used the giant screens on either side of the stage, also. Everybody looked great, and it seemed like people dressed more formally than last year. Several men wore tuxes, and a lot of women had gowns and/or sequins & beads. It's fun to dress up for a change, and be surrounded by others dressed nicely. Except when I'm on a cruise, this doesn't happen much in my life!

I'd reserved a table when I registered us for the conference. All tables seated 10 - we had me, 5 of my team members (Joe, Dawn, Pierre, Beth, & Tom), Margaret (she works in the accounting office & is there because she's Joe's wife), Mike (my friend in Tallahassee who sets up the financial mgt meetings in Orlando for me), Mike's wife Sharon, and somebody from another area who needed a seat (never did get her name - we were across from each other & the table was too big).

Our waiters stopped by to explain what the menu was for tonight, and then the people who are certified as Sterling examiners marched in & were recognized. The trumpeters played some more, and then the Sterling judges marched in. Finally, the group Four For a Dollar (from the Beauty & Beast pre-show at MGM) came out and sang a song that they'd written specifically for us - about Sterling stuff.

Our salads were served - lettuce, cucumber, tomato, hearts of palm, & mandarin orange pieces with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. It was good! Joe (the smart alec) used his camera to take a picture of me eating a vegetable (the salad). After the salad Four For a Dollar came back out and did another song adapted for us. Following that, the Sterling Showcase Award winner was announced - Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Jacksonville.

The entree was served - 4 large scallops, small filet mignon with some brown sauce stuff, asparagus, a mini zucchini, and 2 small (but not baby) carrots, and a breaded scoop of mashed potatoes. It looked very nice on the plate - and except for me every single person at the table cleaned their plate. I gave my scallops to one of my team members who loves them, since I don't like seafood. The steak was very good, and so were the potatoes. A band played while we ate - I know they had a harpist, but not sure what other instruments were there. They were in the center of the ballroom and it was hard for me to see them.

Four For a Dollar came out again to do another song, and then several awards were given for excellence in certain areas. Next was more music while we had dessert - mocha chocolate amaretto cake with raspberry sauce drizzled. It was also delicious - not overly sweet and pretty light. I couldn't finish it, but ate more than 1/2. The secretary of our agency - Judge Kathleen Kearney - was at the banquet and was making the rounds of tables of staff from our agency, but she missed us. This was right before dessert, and I knew my team was disappointed. I'd never met her personally (we'd been at the same function once, but didn't really meet), and although it is conceivable I'd have the opportunity to meet her at a meeting or something in the future, it was unlikely that any of the rest of my team would have such an opportunity. So, after dessert was eaten I found her table and introduced myself and asked if she'd like to meet the rest of the staff at my table. She was extremely enthusiastic and both she and her deputy secretary immediately came back to meet, shake hands with, and talk to each person. They thanked each one individually for their hard work, and thanked the spouses for supporting the employees, etc. It was major schmoozing, lol! It turns out Mike, who works in Tallahassee in the same building as the secretary had never actually met her before, so he was glad she came by also. We were hoping to get some pictures, but it was really dark while they were visiting.

Once again Four For a Dollar came back out - this time to do about 4 songs from their regular routine. Finally, it was time for the keynote speech. Governor Jeb Bush wasn't able to make it due to another function he had to attend (which Bob was also attending) in Orlando, so Judge Kearney delivered a speech. I taped it with the camcorder, so staff back at work can watch it later. The last thing was the presentation of the Governor's Sterling Award to the companies that won it this year - Ritz Carlton Hotel in Naples, North East FL State Hospital (a mental health hospital operated by our agency), and Azalea Elementary School in Pinellas County, FL. They closed the banquet with the band playing again, and I thought people should be sitting there listening, but they started getting up and leaving. On each table were 10 silver picture frames engraved with Florida - A State of Excellence, and those were our gifts from the conference. Some people were taking the flower arrangements off the table too, just like last year. That is so tacky and really shows a lack of class in my opinion!

I went back over to ask the Judge if she would pose for some pictures with my team, so she & the deputy posed for several while someone used our cameras to take a bunch of pictures. We parted company and I talked with my team out in the lobby for a little while. They're meeting (without me since I'll still be here) Monday to start planning our next presentation for all staff, and to debrief on the conference. They all had a wonderful experience, and seem very energized (last year the conference kept us on a "high" for at least half the year, lol). Overall I think the banquet last year was better than this year. The food was very good at both, but the entertainment last year was much more varied & more impressive. Four For a Dollar are great, but they're really all we had this year. Last year we had marching bands, Voices of Liberty, other singers, & it just seemed like every break in the program gave us a new form of entertainment. Still, it was a very nice evening, and we were out of there about 11pm. Once again, our 4 hour dinner flew by - it did not feel like we'd been sitting there that long!

I walked back to the room, worked on the report and got back online. Tomorrow is going to be a quiet day for me. I only have park access 1 day (Joe only had 1 ticket, since it's tied to the # of people registered for the conference), and I don't want to waste it on a busy Saturday (especially with all the extra crowds on this particular Saturday). Besides, the day I have park access will be my last chance to buy a marshmallow thing, and if I bought it Saturday it'd get ruined when I moved on Sunday. So, I'll skip parks tomorrow and just play things by ear.

Today went exactly according to plan again. I'm kind of glad the conference is over with & now I can go back to being on vacation!

Total miles walked: No pedometer today

DAY 9 - SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2000:

PLAN: Any park but MK in morning, possibly visit Belz, relax at CS pool, spend evening with Bob & Donna

ACTUAL: Last night I posted more pictures to photopoint - a couple from Comedy Warehouse and 6 from the banquet. Only a couple of the banquet pics are in the May/Jun trip album - but copies of all 6 are in the "Work" album if you're interested.

I didn't get up until 8am or so; since I didn't need to be anywhere I was determined to take it easy (even if it kills me, lol)! I made hot chocolate to drink while getting ready for the day, packed up most of the conference stuff to leave in the car later when I go out, and headed over to the Pepper Market for some breakfast just before 9am. I still have some banana bread, but it's just a small piece & I can eat that later. I never got around to my chocolate covered pretzel for Friday, so I'm behind on that item...will have to eat them both today so they don't melt during the move tomorrow! For breakfast I had a toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese and a glass of ice water ($2.04). Joe & Margaret came through to fill their mugs one last time before driving home, and stopped to chat briefly.

After eating I returned to the room briefly, then got in the car & drove to Belz. Rather than taking I-4 I tried an alternate route that Liz (deschepper) had told me about. Basically it meant driving I-Drive the entire way, and for me today it ended up being much longer and more aggravating than it would have been if I'd just taken I-4. Liz is normally here during extreme busy seasons, so perhaps this route works well then. I did pass right behind SeaWorld and saw their huge roller coaster - that was pretty cool! However, once I got past that I was in the more trashy/tacky/touristy area of I-Drive - brown grass, weeds growing, scummy motels, scummy restaurants, everything crammed in on top of everything else, bunches of traffic lights - NOT the kind of place I care to be!

I walked through both malls, but only went into 1 non-Disney store. I didn't buy much in either Disney store, either - just a couple of lamp finials for my living room lamps. They're a Mickey mouse gloved hand, and were pretty cute ($8.46). I was back to Coronado Springs before noon, and walked around a the main building a little bit. I called Chris to see what he was up to, and since he was heading out to mow someone's lawn we didn't talk very long.

I changed into my swimsuit and went to the quiet pool here in the Cabanas section. Since I'm not staying at OKW yet I don't have access to Stormalong Bay and I'm not about to try to sneak in where I don't belong! The quiet pool was nice - not very crowded and they've got lots of chairs. They've also got pool towels here, so there's no need to bring them from home or your room. There's a bike rack as well, so if anyone brought a bike from home they could lock it up outside at this resort. I alternated between my lounge chair and the pool, then went back to the room to get the rest of the banana bread & brought it back to the pool. I was surprised that it was actually still pretty good, despite having been bought last Monday or earlier! That's why I always bring zip-lock bags when I come to WDW, lol! I have to protect my Disney food supply! It was pretty hot at the pool, so I spent a good chunk of the time in the water or under the pool shower. I left the pool about 2:30, and returned to the room to start packing, wash out my swimsuit, and work out with the weights.

I left the room a little after 4, putting some of my stuff in the car and then taking the bus to Downtown Disney. With it being so hot outside, I'd rather ride an air conditioned bus than get in a sweltering hot car...especially when I'm not in any hurry or making any difficult connections. Once at Downtown Disney is was smoky again - from the fires. I shopped some of the stores, primarily looking for the June pin of the month for someone. I expected it to say "June" somewhere, and didn't see anything like that anywhere. I walked into Pleasure Island, and took a bunch of pictures for photopoint. It's not the same atmosphere during the day, but at least people should be able to see the buildings.

Over on the West Side I asked the cm at the pin cart about the June pin she told me it was the Typhoon Lagoon opening day pin, so I got 2 of them (for Suenjosh - send me your address again & I'll mail them after I get home). I continued down to Wolfgang Puck's Express and got the kid's macaroni & cheese and a cup of ice water ($4.19). I ate it at a table in the shade, but it was still very hot outside at 5:30 pm. I was able to eat more than half of the mac & cheese, and took the rest with me in case I'd be able to eat it later. It's times like this that I miss the mini kitchen at OKW! I wandered around some more, and watched some video of La Nouba in the Cirque du Soleil store. It's going to be great seeing that again in November!

At the West Side bus stop a bus pulled up that said "MK Closed" - guess I'm not surprised considering it's Saturday night of gay day week! The driver called on her radio, changed the sign to CBR & went on her way. I got on the Boardwalk bus and decided to walk around the lake. I used a pay phone to call home & check my messages - primarily to clear them off the machine. One was a call from DVC making sure I didn't have any questions about my latest add-on at OKW and Hilton Head - I never mind getting Disney messages, lol! For a little while I sat on one of the swings in front of the Beach Club and listened to the music from Tapestry of Nations in Epcot. Back at the Boardwalk I couldn't resist going into the BW Bakery despite not being hungry at all...it was the chocolate calling me, I think. I ended up buying one of the brownies covered in m&m's ($2.65) and had them package it up to go. There was some entertainment starting out on the boardwalk, but I was pretty tired so I went to the bus stop and took the bus back to Coronado. I got back just before 8pm, ate a little more of the mac/cheese and threw the rest away. I finished the report, and will get online (for the first time today) to take care of all that stuff before going to sleep. I've still got to eat 1.5 of the pretzels, and should at least start the brownie later (the rest will be a chocolate breakfast in the morning). I'm not sure why I'm so tired...I guess doing nothing wears a person out! I did discover CS has a tv channel with continuous information on just this resort...I'll have to look for the same thing at other resorts - it's a great idea.

The day went partly according to the plan. I skipped all parks, and never got together with Bob & Donna. I did do the rest of the stuff though, and enjoyed my relaxing day. I'll be revising the "plan" for the next few days. It's my trip, and I reserve the right to make changes at my whim, lol!

Total miles walked: 7.33

DAY 10 - SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2000:

PLAN: Check out of CS, check in to OKW, MK for banana nut bread, Epcot for lunch, MGM for marshmallow thingy, meet DVCtalk people at OKW, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: Last night I got completely caught up with the mail and the boards, and even did the FreeRide points stuff on both my account and Chris' - plus IM'd with a few friends along the way! By the way - several times this trip I've been notified by aol that someone from outside of aol was trying to instant message me. If it's anyone reading this report who was trying to reach me, I either didn't recognize your screen name or didn't have time to take your message.

The alarm went off at 6:10, and I got up then. That wasn't the first time I woke up though - around midnight or so my neighbors came back from the parks and decided it was appropriate to have a loud conversation outside our doors. Then at 5am someone was back knocking on their door. I heard it before anyone inside their room did, and was starting to call them on the phone to wake them up when they finally let the person in! I'd thought about standing out there when I got up and pretend to be shouting to my hubby or someone across the grass, but there's no point if they're already awake....I'd only do it if I thought I had a good chance of waking them up from their sleep like they'd so kindly done for me.

I showered, made some cappuccino, and decided to call OKW to check on my studio. The one I'm due to go into is occupied currently, but I asked her to check for any vacant ones. She had several smoking units (NO WAY IN HELL), a few on the first floor (handicapped units, prefer not to have that), and 2 on the top floor in building 18. I asked her to put me in one of the top floor units and I'd be there in 30 minutes or so. I ate the rest of my brownie for breakfast - it's not nearly as good as I remembered it, so I think it's off my list of WDW food! I finished getting ready, loaded up the car, and left CS at 7:45 for the short drive to OKW.

The security guard saw my CS parking pass & just waved me in - no Welcome Home or anything. At the front desk the cm said my studio wasn't ready...so I told her about my earlier call. She checked, and I was switched to building 18 but that studio is occupied by someone checking out today. The only things left were the ashtray units and the handicapped 1st floor units. Smoking is definitely not an option - I'd sleep in my car before I'd set foot in a room where people were allowed to smoke, and I really didn't want to be on the first floor underneath elephants and toddlers running around, and didn't want to be taking a handicapped unit from someone who might really need one...but, I wanted to get in the room & unload my stuff now. I had nothing to do for the next 45 minutes or so, if I wasn't going to get in my studio, so I ended up taking the first floor unit. The day was not starting out very well.....

I had a choice of building 26 or 28, and I chose 26. In retrospect I think 28 would have been nicer. I'm at the end right behind the bus stop. From my porch, my view is mostly the back side of the bus stop, lol! I can see water if I bend to look around the other corner. Oh well, I'm not a porch person so I guess the view doesn't matter. On the plus side, it was certainly easier moving my stuff in to a 1st floor unit than climbing 2 or 3 flights of stairs in the hot weather! On the minus side, I was disappointed with many things in this unit. The beds are lower - to me they look funny, or wrong, because it's not what I'm used to. The bathroom door opens out - so it's in the kitchenette area. The sink doesn't have the cabinet & drawers, so I've got to put my crap out on top of the sink, making the bathroom look like I'm staying in a hotel rather than at home! There is no bathtub, but there is a roll-in shower area surrounded by a curtain. It's like what I've seen on the cheaper cabins on a cruise ship - or perhaps most cabins on older ships. Since I'm not planning to take any baths, it's no big deal I guess. The sink & beds bother me more than the shower, but I'm only here 3 nights. I unpacked what I needed for the next few days, and headed right outside my door to the bus stop around 8:30.

Today I'm using the 1-day park hopper pass that Joe gave me, and the priority is to stock up on all the WDW parks food for the rest of the trip and have that tomato & cucumber salad for lunch. Along the way I guess I might as well ride some attractions, lol! I got to MK right about 9, and walked right in by using the open yet empty turnstile next to one of the long lines of guests entering the park (wake up, people). By 9:10 I was at Space Mountain, and I used my expired AP in the fast pass machine just to see what it would do. To my surprise, it issued me a fast pass! I got another one with my ticket for today (9:30-10:30). I walked on to the Winnie the Pooh ride, and then skipped Peter Pan because it had a 10 minute wait. I went to Haunted Mansion, but it was closed while they were trying to repair it. I didn't ask what was wrong, figuring they wouldn't tell anyway. Pirates of the Caribbean was a walk on, and except for the boat full of people taking flash pictures every 5 seconds it was a cool relaxing ride.

I got back to Space Mountain at 9:50, so I picked up another fast pass & then started riding. I rode left, right, then left again - finishing all 3 rides by 10:30. The standby line was completely filled in, and they were holding people outside to let the inside line go down some. Since the fastpass time was only about 1/2 hour or less away, I don't understand why those people didn't get a fastpass and then do TTA or Carousel of Progress while waiting.

My last ride was the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. From there I took the back path over to Toontown Fair, but skipped the Barnstormer due to the 10 minute wait in the hot sun. I walked through Fantasyland and touched the slipper for the DVC people out there, then headed back to Main Street. In the Bake Shop I bought 2 pieces of banana nut bread ($4.22) and then left the park. The express monorail wasn't open again, so I took the express monorail to the TTC and transferred to the Epcot monorail. Today was gay day at Epcot, but I couldn't tell that it was any different than any other day. No massive crowds wearing the same color shirt...wish we could say that during July when the tour groups descend!

Waiting in line to enter Epcot (no empty turnstiles found) a large group with a lady in wheelchair was between the 2 lines, at the stroller/wheelchair gate. The cm told them the person in the wheelchair could go thru that gate but the rest of the group needed to go back & get in line. I don't think they were trying to cut, I think they just didn't know.

First stop was Test Track, single rider line. I talked to a middle school boy, who seemed like a little professor type due to the types of words he was using. He was your typical freckle-faced strawberry blonde, chubby boy, but when he started talking he sounded like an intelligent adult - nice kid. After the ride I headed out to World Showcase and walked onto the Maelstrom at 12:15. There was a group of very boisterous kids behind me, so I stepped aside so I wouldn't be on the same boat as them...and they politely said thank you when I let them pass. They were squirting each other with their squeeze breezes, and I didn't feel like getting caught up in that. The family behind me was stressing out over the ride - the wife & kids kept expecting the worst, and the husband kept trying to convince them there wasn't anything bad and that he wasn't lying to them, lol! This was all done in an English accent, and was pretty funny!

I skipped the movie, and walked around the world until I got to Morocco. At the Tangierine Cafe I bought the tomato/cucumber salad ($1.33) and a glass of white Moroccan wine ($4.51) and took it to a table outside in the shade. It was still pretty warm, but not awful, and it was very peaceful sitting there having a relaxing lunch while listening to the music and watching the people go by. This is a the perfect summer lunch - cool & refreshing, and not too heavy. I think I'll be doing this quite a bit in August, and perhaps in July also (don't worry, Leanne - it can be AFTER you leave, lol).

I exited through International Gateway and walked to Boardwalk. At the BW Bakery I bought one of those great chocolate/vanilla pretzels ($2.12). I hadn't had one in several trips, and seeing them last night when I bought the brownie put the idea in my head. I added the pretzel to the bag of banana nut bread and continued walking to the Swan, where I took the boat to MGM. I haven't seen the hunky Captain Ron working for quite a while...maybe he doesn't work here anymore, but I miss his nice voice on the microphone . I entered MGM and headed directly to the candy store, and they had a whole bunch of marshmallow things, but not my kind!!! I asked if they had any, and was told no. Well, you might as well have sucker-punched me! After all the effort to get here ONLY to buy my marshmallow thingy, I was not a happy camper to come up empty handed! The cm checked to see if they'd be making them later, but was told no. I was very disappointed, and not slightly ticked off! I rushed back out of the park, literally running to the bus stop hoping to make the 2pm OKW bus so I wouldn't be standing around for another 1/2 hour waiting for the damn bus, and got to the stop at 5 minutes before 2. I was in the shade, but it was still hot out there, and the little bit of chocolate on my pretzel was melting all over the paper it was wrapped in. The bus didn't come until 2:16 (can you just imagine how thrilled I was at this point??), and I asked the bus driver what the current schedule was because I thought the buses came on the hour & 1/2 hour during the afternoon. She checked her schedule and said she was supposed to leave at 2:14, but was about 5 minutes late. Hmmmm. I sat towards the back of the bus. The other couple of families at the bus stop were up front, and were making small talk, but I was still sulking over the marshmallow thingy. I thought about going to MK after PI tonight, to get one, but MK closes at 10 & that's too early to be leaving PI.

Back in the studio I put my pretzel in the refrigerator and updated the report. I'd turned the air conditioner up warmer earlier - when I first entered the room the ceiling fan was on high speed and the thermostat said it was 60 degrees! Now it's saying 66 or 67, which is still way too cool. I didn't bring flannel pj's & long johns, lol! I adjusted it again, pushing it up to 80...hopefully the actual temp will get into the mid 70's.

Since this is my last park access day of the trip, I decided to make 1 more attempt at the blasted marshmallow thingy...by going back to the MK. It's risky, because if they don't have them I am going to be really really angry that I wasted all of this time running around in 95 degree weather for a marshmallow! I've got 2 hours before I have to meet some DVC people, and don't really want them to come away from meeting me thinking I'm always angry, lol!

I walked over to the Hospitality House, and saw the MK bus had just arrived so I ran over there so I wouldn't miss it. At MK I went directly to the candy store - lots of people were leaving, and the street vacuumers were cleaning up the mess from the parade. Walking towards the candy counter I kind of held my breath....but they had my marshmallow thingy!!! YAY - the day is saved, lol! I bought it from the very nice cm who I'm sure had no idea the importance or significance of this purchase, and then left the MK. How's that for a short trip? Back at the bus stop I waited for the next OKW bus and was back in my studio around 4:30. It was even raining - the bus driver said it was the first rain in 2 months.

I caught up the email, mostly interested in hearing the latest on a friend's problem with her daughter (sorry it's not working out, Jan), then headed for the Hospitality House about 5:30. Soon Julie arrived, then Wendy, then Larry. It was great putting a face with the screen names, and they are all really nice people. We sat around chatting for about an hour, and then I had someone take our picture for the photopoint site so others can see what they look like too! I'd realized I'd never put my right contact lens back in (took it out at Epcot), so I had to rush back to the studio to do that before driving over to PI.

The West Side and PI parking lots were really full again - what's up with Sunday nights in these parking lots? I entered PI at 6:45 and the cm covered the back of my hand with the stupid stamp, so I immediately went to the rest room to get rid of it. I didn't want black ink on my white shorts! I sat on a bench until it was time to get in line at the Comedy Warehouse. When the doors opened & I got inside I checked the show schedule & decided to skip #1 and see #2 & 3. I'd like to see #5 also, but doubt I'll stick around that late. I was able to exit out the same door I'd just come in, and headed down the hill to wander around a bit. At the pin cart I picked up the 2 June pins for Dottie, and got a PI refrigerator magnet for myself. At this point I've bought all the pins people have asked for, and Sue's shopping service is hereby closed for the rest of the trip!

I went into the candy store/bakery on PI - called D'Zertz - and talked to the cm's in there. They're open until 2am and carry the chocolate covered pretzels I'd been buying, so I can start just getting them here at the end of my night. They also do cappuccino, ice cream, and some bakery stuff. I left PI to go put the pins in the car, then wandered around the West Side. I was hungry - I'd eaten about 1/3 of my chocolate/vanilla pretzel while reading my email, but that was about it since lunch - but only wanted something very small, and not the usual candy/cookie/junk food.

A chicken empanada sounded good, so I headed to Bongo's but got tired of standing in the line and left without getting anything. Sometimes they can be pretty slow over there. I thought about just buying my Bye Bye Blues from the bar outside Comedy Warehouse, but I decided to wait because I wanted to order it inside so the waitress would get the tip since I'd be sitting in a seat in there for a couple of shows. So, I just sat outside by the lake, behind Forty Thirst Street until it was time to return to PI.

It was very breezy tonight. The wind would blow the smoke from the fires in, then change direction and it would all disappear. I entered PI and went to the Adventurer's Club for a little while, then got in line at the Comedy Warehouse about 8 (for the 8:15 show). I was seated down on the front row of stools, next to a big 3-generation family group. They were really nice, but one of their kids was a toddler or preschooler who was sucking on a pacifier (major pet peeve of mine at this kid's age) and was fighting to keep his eyes open. He wasn't acting up at all - he was just barely conscious. They'd gotten up early this morning, flown down, and now were in a bar with all the kids, and were next going to DisneyQuest and then back to the hotel for swimming! They must be vampires or something that don't need any sleep, lol! I wonder how long that young kid lasted after the show.

The show was excellent! Steve was there again, and they started out with the rhyming with a name game. Matt & Jen did a good job with the Transformation game...it was actually funny. Layden & Mary were the other 2 actors - they did a musical where Layden was the son of Mary & Steve and had been kidnapped by Jen the Hawaiian Santa.

I got right back in line for show #3, and it started to rain lightly so they opened the door about 5 minutes early to let people in. I was in the next row back, which gave me a shelf to rest the camcorder on. It was also a great show...Steve & Mary sat out, and Christine & Mark were in. I'm not that crazy about Christine, but Mark is very good. After this show I went down to D'Zertz to buy my pretzel ($1.00) and left PI to drive back to OKW. I was back in my studio about 10:50. I ate another 1/3 of the chocolate/vanilla pretzel from BW, finished the report, downloaded the pics, and then went online to take care of the rest of the stuff. Oh yes, I ate my chocolate covered pretzel also...maybe I'll get tired of them soon, lol! I'm starting to feel like a real pig with all my junk food .

The day went exactly according to plan, which isn't a surprise since I just wrote the plan last night, lol! I hadn't planned on the extra trip to MK to finally get the marshmallow thingy.

Total miles walked: 11.5

DAY 11 - MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2000:

PLAN: Roller blade, pool, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: I didn't set the alarm this morning, and woke up around 7 or so. I could have slept longer, but even with no parks to do, I didn't want to waste my day sleeping! About 8 I went roller blading over to the Disney Institute, skating for just under an hour. It was much more comfortable than last weekend, but still warmer than I'd like for roller blading. I'd thought about skating at Ft Wilderness, but it's a hassle to drive all the way over there, and I'd end up dodging people walking to catch their buses. Skating here & at DI I only even saw a handful of people!

Back in the studio I worked out with the weights and then had breakfast (hot chocolate and some banana nut bread, along with the rest of the choc/vanilla pretzel) while reading some of the downloaded messages. I put on my swimsuit and drove over to the Beach Club, arriving at Stormalong Bay right as it opened at 10am. Since it was early, I got a lounge chair in a great location, but the entire time I was there today it never got very crowded - there were more available chairs than any other time. It was hot, so I only lasted on my chair a short while, then it was time to float around the lazy river several times. I went back to the chair to do some reading, then returned to the lazy river. I passed some people who were talking about DVC, so I stopped to talk to them. They're from Cape Cod, and just love everything about DVC. We talked about the different DVC resorts, and what we liked best about them. They asked how many points I have, and when I said 760 they groaned with envy, lol! They might add on when Beach Club Villas is available - I didn't ask them how many points they've got now, but they own at BW. They tried OKW last April, expecting to not like it very much, but they loved it! They headed over to the slide, and I continued floating for a while.

About noon I got a fruit boat for lunch ($4.19) and returned to my chair. I left Stormalong Bay around 12:45 or so, and as I was walking towards the exit a woman called my name. It was Deb from Louisiana - from the DVCtalk list. I was glad I got to meet her - we'd emailed before the trip but our schedules didn't really match up. We chatted briefly, and then went back to what we were doing.

I drove back to OKW, picked up my laundry, and drove to the Southpoint pool. While the clothes were being washed I lounged in the pool. The water here wasn't as cool as in Stormalong Bay - but it felt great in both places. By around 2:30 the laundry was done and I drove back to my studio. As I approached there was a magnet on my door saying Bill was inside making repairs. I went in, and Bill from maintenance explained that he was doing preventive maintenance on the unit - they like to catch things before they break down. I'd noticed one of the lights over the other bed didn't come on, and before I mentioned it he told me he'd replaced that light - the lamp had gone bad. He hurried on out of the room since I was back (standing there holding bras & pantyhose, lol). One of the things I like about DVC is NOT having housekeeping coming into the unit every day like in other hotels. When I left this morning I'd left a bunch of stuff just laying around - the laptop, a camera, lots of jewelry...if I'd known someone was coming I would have put the stuff out of sight at least. In any event, nothing appeared to have been bothered (and my chocolate covered marshmallow thingy was safe!).

I showered - definitely don't like that accessible bathroom! It's impossible not to get water on the bathroom floor...I imagine a large person would create quite a flood in there. The gap between the floor and the bottom of the shower curtain is about a foot, so water sprays out easily. I updated the report while watching General Hospital, and ate some of the marshmallow thingy for a snack. The fruit for lunch was good, but fruit just doesn't stick with me - and I wanted something sweet (but not healthy).

About 5pm I made the last pack of microwave popcorn - a simple dinner. I used the iron on the damp part of what I was wearing tonight (damp from laundry still - material that can't go in the dryer) - to finish drying it. Today I took a bunch of OKW pics, and those are out on photopoint now also. Currently they're in the May/June trip album, but I'll probably move them to the DVC resorts album after a few weeks.

At 6:15 I was out the door, and saw the Trumbo Ferry coming back to the dock. I really love that boat ride, so I decided to use Disney transportation tonight (I know, stupid move, lol). The boat ride was very nice, and I had time to stop in Ghiradelli for a free sample of chocolate before entering Pleasure Island at 6:45. The Adventurer's Club wasn't going to open until 9:30, due to a private party, along with 8 Trax. There were already people standing in line at the Comedy Warehouse, so I joined them. I saw shows 1 & 2, and was seated down on the floor both times. Both shows were good, but there wasn't anything truly spectacular about either one. I was surrounded by friendly people for the 2nd show, so it helped pass the time waiting by talking to them.

Back outside, the line for show 3 was very long already...I'd planned to not see this show, so it didn't really bother me. I sat at a table out on the street and updated my notes, basically killing time for about 15 minutes until the Adventurer's Club would open to the public. Once in the club, I caught the very end of the new member induction ceremony and then went into the library for the sing-along with Samantha Sterling. There was a new actress playing Samantha - some blonde lady I didn't recognize, but she did a great job. There were lots of kids in the show...even one in a stroller :( After the show I went back outside to warm up!

I browsed through the shops, wandered around on the street, and then got in line at the Comedy Warehouse about 10:15 for the 10:40 show (#4). The club was freezing inside! I swear it gets cooler as the night progresses in there! I did have great seats though - my favorite spot in the first row of seats with a counter. The audience was awfully rowdy this show - the suggestion for the location of the "Fill in the Blank" game was a sex education class, and when Mark touched the guy volunteer up there for the first word he said something that couldn't be repeated - something I've NEVER heard used in that club by even the drunkest of guests (think slang word that in it's innocent form is what you might call a cat). Everything he said was along that idea...but he cleaned up somewhat. Later in the show some guy started yelling out stuff, and got to the point where the actors were telling him to be quiet or shut up. He even came down to the side of the stage at one point during the game, and Layden saw him & sent him back to his seat...what's up with these people?? Overall it was a very funny show, though.

After show 4 it was time for the nightly New Year's Eve celebration, so I stayed for the fireworks and then caught the bus back to OKW. Before I left I stopped at D'Zertz for a chocolate pretzel ($1.00). I forgot the route from Downtown Disney is different than from the parks. We stopped first at Hospitality House (after West Side of course), and then Miller's Road before going to Peninsular! Oh well, live & learn. From now on I'll stick with my car - it's a whole lot faster! I was back in the studio about 12:30, ready to finish up the report and do the online stuff. I ate more of my marshmallow thingy and my chocolate pretzel - what a great way to end a day...with chocolate!

Today went exactly according to plan - another wonderful relaxing day at WDW!

Total miles walked: No pedometer today - I skated, floated, laid, and sat...but didn't walk much!

DAY 12 - TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2000:

PLAN: Possibly roller blade, pool, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: Once again I didn't set the alarm. Since I was up until after 2am it's nice that I don't have to be anywhere or do anything specific today. I woke up before 7, though...not intentionally, and watched a little tv before getting up about 7:15. I decided to change the plan for today (again).

Rather than doing another day by a pool, I'm going to skip the sun. I've been getting comments from cast members and other guests complimenting me on having a terrific tan, so I'm not sure I want to darken even more for another 2 days! This is supposed to be a business trip, lol, and going back to work being so dark isn't a problem, but I'd rather not have everyone assume I was on a vacation since I've got 3 more vacations coming up this summer! Since I'm not going to a pool, I decided to also skip the roller blading...I'd rather not get all hot & sweaty since I'm planning to shower this afternoon rather than morning.

So, I straightened up around the studio and went out for a short walk around the front half of the resort. I first headed to Conch Flats & looked around at the main pool. They were doing the member update this morning, but since I'd done it last Tuesday and didn't need breakfast since I have banana nut bread in my studio, I didn't go in. They're doing some work that blocked off the entrance to the fitness center, so I followed the path around the other side of the building & entered that way. I'm not sure I'd ever been in there, and I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed bigger than the one at Hilton Head - much smaller than the one at BW, and there were about 3-4 people in there working out. They had a scale, so I hopped on to see if I'd done any damage this trip, and was happy to have not gained a single ounce the past 11 days of the trip! I know many people don't worry about their weight on vacation - if they gain 5 pounds or so they just cut back & lose it after they get home - and that's fine for them. I don't want to be in a position of having to cut back or lose weight though; whatever I might have eaten to gain the weight just isn't worth it! Yes, even chocolate marshmallow thingies!

I'd never walked all the way down to the end of Miller's Road, and doing so confirmed that I really don't ever want to stay down there. Those buildings near the end are so close to the main road outside the resort all I could hear was traffic! I originally planned on walking the entire resort, but later decided to head back to the studio for breakfast and get the day started. Perhaps tomorrow morning I'll skate the resort, or walk the other end.

Back at the studio I made a cup of hot chocolate and finished the first piece of banana nut bread while reading some of the downloaded messages. I was happy to see Buddy's trip report from gay day had been posted...if you've got any sense of humor at all, you'll probably love his reports! He's posting it over on RADP.

My new plan for today includes some resort hopping using Disney transportation (can't stand the thought of getting into a hot car) and possibly having a nice lunch at Spoodles...if possible recreating the fantastic meal I had there with Nancy on the late March trip! I won't bother with a priority seating, though. As a party of 1 it shouldn't be hard to get seated right away, and I'd want to check the menu to make sure the items I want are still available (new chef) before going inside.

I left the studio around 9:15, headed to the Hospitality House bus stop for a bus to either MGM, Epcot, or Downtown Disney. The bus for MGM arrived at the same time I did, so I hopped on. From MGM I went to the Port Orleans/Dixie Landings stop to wait for their next bus. When it came I was the only guest to board, of course. The driver asked where I was headed, and when I said PO she told me her bus was only going to DxL but that a PO bus would be here shortly. I told her I'd just stay on and go to DxL, and would walk to PO along the river (rather than doing the reverse trip). To my surprise, she pulled into PO and dropped me off at the front door! Then she left PO without stopping at the bus stops - on her way to DxL. That was really nice of her, I thought.

Bay & Twang - don't fall out of your chairs, but I have to say that every time I come to PO I am impressed by how pretty the little courtyard area is inside the main building. This little spot, and the interior of the guest rooms are the only things I like about this resort, though. I don't care for the rest of it at all! The food court was very busy, and as barren and ugly as ever. The beignets are very popular, but to me they didn't look appealing at all. There were several people in the pool already - that serpent is starting to look a little tired. They had a sign posted saying to only take 1 towel per person - which struck me as extremely cheesy/tacky! I'd expect that at a Holiday Inn, not a Disney resort! Since most people (including me) are larger than a pool towel, it stands to reason that using only 1 is not going to be comfortable if you're laying on a lounge chair. Certainly they can bring out more towels for their guests...like at the other resorts! There was no such sign at Coronado Springs last week.

I walked along the river, which is always a nice walk, and headed in to DxL. Once there I crossed over the river and then walked across Ole Man Island before going to the main building. This food court was also very busy, but the atmosphere was so much nicer (& quieter) than at PO. I went to the bus stop and had to wait quite a while for a MK bus to arrive. I saw 3 for MGM and at least 2 for each of the other routes. MK has separate buses for PO & DxL now, so it wasn't a case of the bus filling up before getting to DxL. It was 10:10 and I couldn't imagine why on earth people would just be heading out to MK at this late hour! If it were me I'd just stay by the pool or go to Epcot, and save MK for a day when I could get there on time.

Once at MK I walked to the boat dock to wait for the boat to WL. I walked around and took more pics of the DVC construction (they're on photopoint now), then looked around the original WL. The new arcade is open now, and Roaring Forks has tables in the space where the arcade used to be. It's a big improvement to not have arcade games making noise down there, but they've not done anything to add any decor in that place. It's very plain & boring. I stopped to chat with the DVC guy, which was a mistake because he was so talkative...I didn't want to be rude, but I didn't plan to spend the entire day there, either! He did say he'd seen the models for the rooms and they are supposedly gorgeous. He said the mock-ups for BC Villas are even nicer - he said I won't believe it when they're both available for viewing. No word on when that will be, though.

I headed back to the dock, and took the boat to the Contemporary after stopping first at Ft Wilderness. Up on the 4th floor they're rehabbing the shops on the Bay Lake side, so they've got all this merchandise dragged out in the concourse area. I thought it looked kind of tacky - but I guess they see an opportunity to make a buck! Downstairs the lobby was very warm, and I noticed a manager off to the side talking to a guest who did not appear very happy. I walked back to the MK, and since the BW bus was leaving I got on the one for the Swan & Dolphin. It sat there for quite a while, but finally left for the Swan & Dolphin. I got off at the Swan and walked over to the Boardwalk, headed for Spoodles.

They had some menus outside, so I took a look. I was sorry to see that the Greek salad I'd planned to get is no longer on the menu! I considered leaving, but really wanted the chocolate dessert & figured I could get the caesar salad (think it was new on the menu). Inside, I told the cm I'd like to see the dessert menu to make sure my item was still on there, and it was gone now also!! The cm was very nice - she confirmed the dessert was discontinued and suggested another chocolate item - but it was a cake...and generally cake is not exciting to me. She asked if I'd wait while she checked with the chef to see if he'd make the Greek salad for me, and came back to report that he would. Really, I almost would have preferred to try the caesar (baby roma lettuce, tomato, crouton & sesame seed), but since she'd gone to the trouble I didn't want to appear ungrateful!

I was seated in one of those round booths, and the cm told the waiter what was going on. I ordered a glass of their red sangria ($6), which is very good. The waiter cautioned that my salad would take a while to prepare, which was fine, but it came out in about 5-10 minutes! It's basically a small rectangular plate with tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and Greek olives. I forgot to tell them no olives, lol, so I left them on the plate! It was very good, and I ate every bite. When the check came I was pleasantly surprised to see the charge was only $6 - so the total lunch with tax/tip was $15. I had no room for dessert, and really nothing on the dessert menu looked remotely interesting to me.

I headed back to the BW bus stop, and took the Downtown Disney bus to the Marketplace. From there I took the Trumbo Ferry back to OKW and got to my studio around 2:15. I showered, downloaded the WL Villas pictures, and then updated the report while watching General Hospital. There was a squirrel on my porch, laying with his belly on the tile and his legs all sprawled out flat. At first I thought maybe he was paralyzed or something - I'd never seen one act like that, but he got up and climbed around later. I took a picture of him...he just laid there watching me. At times he'd get up and come to the door - putting his front legs up on the glass & looking in at me...like a stalker, lol! Perhaps previous guests have been feeding him.

I could hear the people in the 1br next door messing with the door connecting our units. It sounded like they were trying to open the door - but of course they couldn't because I had the dead bolt set on my side. I even saw the handle being jiggled so I yelled across the room "keep out of here". Duh...what a bunch of idiots! I'm glad I had the dead bolt on or they might have come walking in here! I finished up the marshmallow thingy and then spent some time reviewing a couple of the tapes I'd made at the Comedy Warehouse (documenting what is on the tapes & whether it's worth transferring to a vcr tape).

I left the studio about 6:30 to drive to PI. I'm not waiting around for the Disney buses again tonight! I entered PI about 6:45 and sat on a shady bench until 7pm. The Adventurer's Club is closed until 9:30 for a private group again - to me 9:30 is pretty late! The Island was pretty deserted - not many people walking around at all.

While I was on my bench Jim Roberts (keyboard player) came by with his dinner and stopped to chat. He said he'd seen me at the Adventurer's Club last night (I hadn't seen him). He explained last night he was "Fingers" - the haunted organ in the club. They've got video monitors where he was, with cameras in the library and he'd noticed me come in for the one show I saw last night. I searched for a polite way to tell him why that show is the only one I see, but he quickly helped out by asking if it was the only show I could stand, lol! Nothing like cutting to the chase! My biggest gripe with the shows over there is they haven't changed in the past 10 years...and he agreed. The improv stuff they do in the main salon is entertaining, but the other stuff it too repetitive for me. Anyway, Jim said he was working Comedy Warehouse tonight, which of course is where I'll be.

At 7 I headed to check on the line, and it was already quite long so I joined in. I ended up with a single seat that was left in the very front row - which isn't my first choice but it was ok. The show was great, even though the club wasn't even 1/4 full! They pulled a kid out of the audience to be on Up Your Alley as an expert coca cola bottle collector - and the kid said he's been in the coke holiday commercials. I wasn't sure if he was telling the truth, though. The last game they needed a story of when something went wrong, and nobody was volunteering anything (not unusual with such a small crowd). Greg was leading this, and asked again, so I raised my hand and gave the story of when Chris & I went parasailing on our cruise last November and a storm came in while we were out there. They did a pretty good job, and I taped it to show Chris after I get back home.

I skipped show 2, and went back to my bench to sit & listen to Frankie & the West End Boys finish out their set. I didn't care for the band that played Sun/Mon - Lizzie's House Party, but Frankie's pretty good. I went back for show 3, and once again was seated in a single seat left in the center of the front row. This show was really funny - everybody was on a roll! They did the madrigal singers game, and almost immediately I was sorry I hadn't taped it - they did a super job. Basically, 1 actor is the conductor. He gets 4 imaginary tabloid headlines from the audience, and then the other 4 actors each sing a song of 1 of those headlines. Then, they start mixing up the titles, swapping words & stuff. It's very creative, and tonight was hysterical! When the show was over I went back for show 4 and did not get the front row this time, lol! Instead I was in the first row of barstool seats. This show was good, but not quite up to par with the one before. The audience was more difficult, with more disgusting things shouted out, which the actors refused to take. They did the storytelling game, where each actor had to do a death scene when he messes up - but none of the deaths were as funny as they normally are.

I left after show 4, stopped at D'Zertz for chocolate pretzels (got a plain one and one with m&m's $3.65) and then drove the 2.5 miles home to OKW. It was so sad to realize that this is my last night driving "home"...tomorrow I'm moving offsite for the last 2 nights, and then the trip will be over.

I kind of threw the plan out the window again, but it was a great day! I wish I'd had my dessert at Spoodles, but maybe they'll bring it back someday.

Total miles walked: 6 (took it off after returning from Spoodles)

DAY 13 - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7, 2000:

PLAN: Check out of OKW, spend day with Nancy at Stormalong Bay, check in to Hampton Inn, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: Today I woke up briefly at 7:15, but really would have liked to just go back to sleep for another hour or two - but made myself get up since I'll need to be getting up at a more normal "work" time the next 2 days. I put on the roller blades and went out skating for a while, just within OKW. It's only 71 degrees right now, so skating was pretty comfortable. After skating I drove over to Walgreens to pick up something I needed. When I got back, the previously 1/2 empty parking lot was miraculously full...and I had to park in front of the next building. There's a small trailer with some workmen, and I ~assume~ that they are parking in the lot here, taking spaces away from guests & members. I'm not sure where they could or should park, but that's not my problem to figure out...I don't think they should be filling up the parking area for people registered in this building!

I packed up more of my stuff, made cappuccino and ate some of the banana nut bread for breakfast. Last night I'd eaten the pretzel with m&m's. It was ok, but the m&m's tend to fall off when you bite into it, so I'm not convinced it's worth the extra expense over the plain chocolate one. The plain one I ate for dessert after breakfast! Since I'm not meeting Nancy until 11am, I spent the time reading the downloaded messages and preparing to check out. I had time to work out with the weights a little bit, and loaded up the car. I had the tv on - it's hard to believe there are people out there who actually watch the crap on those talk shows, lol!

I went to the Hospitality House a little before 11 to give the laptop & camcorder to bell services and to meet up with Nancy. She was already there, so we drove over to Beach Club in my car and went to Stormalong Bay. The cm at the gate at first didn't see the DVC member on my resort id, and was about to tell us we weren't allowed, but I set him straight and then we had some fun joking around with him. He said he was about to call for the handcuffs to haul us out of there, lol!

We found a couple of chairs that were near shade for Nancy and sun for me. We spent most of the day floating around the lazy river & catching up on what was new with us since March. Eventually we were getting pretty shriveled so we retreated to the lounge chairs for a while. I'd brought the pictures from my April trip - Nancy & her boyfriend are heading to that part of the country in September on their vacation. About 2pm we were hungry so we headed to Hurricane Hanna's. I got the fruit boat, she got a hot dog, and we shared a delicious large chocolate chip cookie. When I put the cookie down on my tray in the sun, we could both smell it baking! It was wonderful....definitely worth repeating on a future visit. We stayed until after 3 - alternating between the lazy river and the chairs. She loved Stormalong Bay, and doesn't have access to it as a cast member, so this was a treat for her. We're going to do it again in August, but on a Monday so she doesn't have to go to work that night...that way she can get a drink at the bar.

We drove back to OKW so she could get her car and get to PI. She's going to shower in the cast locker room and get to work at the Jazz Club by 5. I picked up the laptop & camcorder, and left OKW for the last time this trip. Knowing I'll be back next month, and 3 more times this year helps, but leaving at any time still really stinks!

Nancy had told me to try a different way to get to Sandlake Road, to avoid the I-4 traffic. I drove thru Hotel Village, and at the traffic light at Crossroads turned left. I turned right onto Palm Parkway and that turned into a traffic-free road that ran parallel to I-4! I had traffic at the light to turn onto Sandlake, but the overall trip was much easier than taking I-4.

I got to the Hampton Inn somewhere around 4-4:30. Check in went very quickly, and I was on my way to my room. I've stayed at several Hampton Inns before, and have always been very pleased with them - including the one in Lake Buena Vista last November. This particular one (Hampton Inn Sandlake Rd International Drive Area) is several steps down from the other Hampton Inns. The others have all been hotels with interior hallways. This is a motel-type place, where you enter your room from the outside. There's the typical scummy motel under the window a/c unit. The carpet is brand new - I can smell it, and see my footprints when I walk on it! The furniture is pretty, but cheap. Granted, coming from OKW just about any place is going to look like a hole in the wall, but I'm trying to be unbiased - I'm paying $62.10 plus tax per night, which is a far cry from what a studio at OKW would rent for. There's a 1/2 size refrigerator, small microwave, coffee maker, hair dryer, and large tv. There's a desk in the room, but no phone jack or electrical outlet anywhere near it! How silly is that?? I had to really search the room, and pull all the furniture away from the walls to find an outlet where I could plug in the laptop - behind the couch. Then, the phone jack was over on the other side of the king bed - as far as you can get from the couch, but luckily it has an extremely long cord. Tonight I'll probably be able to use the laptop from bed, provided I stay on the side near the couch. My room is right on the pool, and on the first floor, but I'm not planning on swimming here. After Stormalong Bay, how could I ever be happy using this pool, lol! The first floor was convenient for moving into the room, at least.

I don't plan to unpack - I just pulled out what I'd need for the 2 days, and let it go at that. I showered & updated the report while watching the 5pm news. It's raining south of here, but not near the fires. I was hungry, so I ate the last kippered beef thing...not real great, but at least it's gone now. Then I made some cappuccino to try to get rid of the kippered beef taste! I didn't want to get dressed until it was time to go to PI, and couldn't think of any particular thing I wanted to eat anyway...although a chocolate covered pretzel is a sure thing later.

I left the room about 6:15 or so, at first taking the wrong turn out of the hotel. Once I turned around, I drove back to WDW following the road I'd taken here earlier. It was VERY smoky - smokier than it had been the entire trip. Most people had their headlights on to help with visibility. It was also misting slightly. The drive back was a breeze - I'm so glad to know about this road (Turkey Lake at this end) to save me from sitting in traffic when I decide to go to Belz from WDW in the future!

I parked at PI and entered around 6:45 to find the line already formed at the Comedy Warehouse. Tonight the only private party was a large group at the Rock & Roll Beach Club, so all the other clubs were opening on time. Once inside Comedy Warehouse I checked the schedule and decided to stay for the first 2 shows only. I was seated in an empty seat between parties in the 2nd row of the chairs at the tables down on the floor. Not the ideal spot, but it would get me out the door & back in line quickly! Debbie was the waitress - I've known her for a while, and threw her for a loop when I ordered a glass of white zinfandel instead of a Bye Bye Blues! I'd decided earlier that I'd probably not be here very late tonight, and a glass of wine doesn't last as long as a bye bye blues. After we were all seated for a while, a man & his Down Syndrome daughter were brought down. Evidently she was having a tantrum because she wanted a seat where she could put her drink on a table...and they were too far back in line to get a seat at any counter. They tried putting a chair over next to the keyboard player, but she was whining about that not being acceptable because she couldn't see. They put a chair in the space next to me (Debbie asked if she could add a chair there & I said yes), but she wanted to sit next to her dad. There was a single empty chair in the front row, so they asked if I'd move up there, which was fine by me. That gave the guy & his daughter 2 seats together, with their own table. She was happy, he was thankful, and I didn't mind helping them out.

The guy I ended up sitting next to was pretty funny - he was all excited about Debbie "fixing him up" with me, lol! We were seated in the 2 seats next to the keyboard player, and it was Jim Roberts again tonight, so I got to say hi to him. The show was excellent, too! When it was over I headed right back outside & got in line again. This time the waiting area was already filled in completely, but I could see they didn't have people packed in as tightly as they're supposed to, so there was a chance that I wouldn't end up behind somebody, or if I was it wouldn't be too far back. I chatted with cm Joe for a while, talking about what it was going to be like there tomorrow night. The Vibe Live weekend starts then, and historically they've had lots of problems with gangs, fights, big crowds, and stuff like that. I think last year they needed a swat team to come out there, or maybe it was the year before. If I do come, it will be early, and only for the first show...maybe 2nd - and then I'm outa there! While we were talking the guy behind me noticed my DVC member pin and asked where I got it. I told him, and we spent the rest of the waiting time talking about DVC. He bought in 1992, and lives 1.5 hours away. His family has used their points twice for the cruise, and they've traded out several places as well - besides staying at OKW & BW. His kids grew up not needed park passes, since he had them free with his membership from 1992 through 1999! Like me, he loves DVC, and had nothing but great things to say about it.

For the 2nd show I did get a seat at a counter, towards the back, but that was ok. This show was even funnier than the first one - but both were extremely good! One skit had Philip (who's always a riot) as a courageous fireman named Bob who lived for beer and put out fires from a certain body fluid produced by drinking all that beer. Layden was someone who's house was on fire who was saved by "Bob" and became his girlfriend. Layden's name was "marshmallow lady", lol! Now that was a character I could identify with! He was called marshmallow lady because his/her house was made of marshmallows. It was a really funny musical - especially the final "swing" song!

On the way out I stopped to talk to Layden, and told him liked the marshmallow lady thing. I told him I was sometimes associated with marshmallows on the internet, but didn't get into the whole story for fear he'd call security to have me hauled away, lol! He thanked me for coming to the club, and asked if I'd enjoyed the shows....what a silly question - I love the shows. We said goodbye, and I left the club.

I made my stop at D'Zertz. This time I went all out....buying 3 of the chocolate pretzels, AND one of their big cookies. The cookies are the same ones sold in the Gourmet Pantry, including the carrot cake one. I wasn't interested in anything as healthy-sounding as carrot cake, though...I got the chocolate crunch. It's basically a chocolate chunk cookie but also has m&m's, peanut butter chunks, and some other chocolate covered candy in there. Total cost $5.65.

I left PI and drove back to the Hampton Inn via I-4 since there's generally not traffic at night. The pool area was noisy - so I checked at the front desk to see what time it closed (10pm) and to ask if at that time they make everyone get out (yes). Ok, I can live with it until 10! I swear my room isn't 10 steps from the pool - it's really close. What a shame they gave this prime location to someone who's not going to be using the pool at all! I check out the fitness center, which is only 4 doors down from my room. It's small, with a few pieces of equipment, a tv, and a scale. I weighed myself - still the same, so that's good news, and then returned to my ~new carpet smelling~ room.

My message light was blinking, which concerned me until I realized that nobody who'd have a reason to reach me knows where I am, lol! That's why I have a beeper...I don't need to explain where I'm going to be. The message was just from the hotel making sure everything was satisfactory.

I ate 1/2 my cookie - it's pretty good. After finishing up the report I got online for a while and ate one of the pretzels before turning in for the night hopefully before midnight for a change.

Today I did everything on the plan, plus got in some rollerblading. It was a wonderful, relaxing day, and an entertaining evening.

Total miles walked: No pedometer today

DAY 14 - THURSDAY, JUNE 8, 2000:

PLAN: Meeting at Adam's Mark 9-5, Comedy Warehouse

ACTUAL: I discovered last night that this hotel has the same WDW information channel as the WDW resorts - the exact same one, produced by Disney! I never heard of it being shown anywhere except in WDW resorts. Of course it makes references to getting your passes at guest services, in your "resort lobby" - hahaha, not at the Hampton Inn, lol!

I ended up being up longer than expected last night - partly due to a new problem at work, and partly just because I wasn't tired after responding to the problem (one of my staff might be involved in some inappropriate things going on while her supervisor is on vacation this week - why can't people just do their jobs & leave it at that??). It's still another week before I'm back at work...being gone for over 2.5 weeks can be stressful - for them & for me!

I slept well - except for the cookie crumbs in the bed...wonder where they came from . The a/c unit provides enough white noise to prevent any other noise from entering the room. The alarm went off at 6:50, so I got up then to shower & dress for my meeting. The free continental breakfast was ok. They had some nasty cut up fruit that looked like it came from a can. There were a couple kinds of cereal, oatmeal, 4 juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, english muffins, toast, bagels, & some danish type pastries. I got a bagel & hot chocolate and took it back to my room. Maybe I'll finish the banana nut bread for dinner tonight.

I left for my meeting about 8:15, and was there by 8:30. Tom had already gotten there and had saved me a seat in the back...near the door in case we need to take a break from things. I won't bore people with any of the "business" talk, but there were a few funny moments. During the morning the group in the room next door was very rowdy and burst into very loud cheering & applause. Our group was about 75 people - theirs was much larger. When Elwood, our agency's Comptroller talked next, he asked if their cheering had pissed any of us off (kidding), and so we all burst into loud cheering/applause every so often just to mimic them, lol! In the afternoon some people presented Elwood with a t-shirt they'd bought for him at lunch - it says "I'm talking and I can't SHUT UP" - a perfect choice! One of the other presenters brought his trumpet & played the song from the Seminoles (college football) to irritate the Gator fans in the room (an ongoing rivalry). Those were the most exciting moments, lol.

Lunch was in the food court with Tom and one of his staff. The FL Mall has about the best/biggest food court of any mall I've seen - except for one in downtown San Francisco. Several places give out samples, so by the time I made the rounds I wasn't hungry anymore! I always get the same thing, though, since this is the only place in the universe I know to find it. It's a stand called Hovan Gourmet, and they take some very thing flatbread stuff, put seasonings & a little salad stuff on it, then add whatever meat, and roll it up pinwheel style. You can buy a small, medium or large piece, with the small being 3 inches, cut into 3 pieces. I got a small turkey one, for $2.64 including tax. Unfortunately it doesn't keep well if you don't finish it, as the moisture from the lettuce & tomato makes the flatbread soggy. Tom & Laura both had a wonderful looking sandwich made on focaccia with a side salad (Tom had cole slaw that looked great & Laura had a large portion of multicolor fettucine salad). It would have been way too much for me, but it did look good. After eating I left them to go wander around the mall, and bought some chocolate from a candy store ($2). I'd agreed to meet Tom about 15 minutes before the meeting started again so he could look at my pictures from the April trip - so we did that.

The meeting ended about 4, since happy hour was about to start. I headed back to the Hampton Inn, getting there about 4:15 or so. I've still got my banana nut bread, but am not ready to eat it (the chocolate has done me in) just yet. I updated the report and went online to pass some time. I wanted to catch at least some of the 5pm news before heading out for the evening. I've noticed that making an aol connection from here takes forever! There was a sign at the front desk about some high speed internet access guests can pay for...but since I'm only here 2 nights (it's a set fee for your entire stay) I didn't bother to check into it. Once the connection is made it's fine, but it takes a while and today took 3 attempts. At least local calls are free, so I really don't care.

I left the room about 5:30, and took the uncrowded Turkey Lake road to Central Florida Parkway and stopped at the new outlet stores across from WDW - I think they're called Premium Outlets, but am not sure. I only went for the Character Premiere store. There are 110 stores there, some aren't open yet, but there are so many outlet store locations I can't see taking any of my WDW time to do that here. The Character Premiere was a pretty good size, and they had mostly the same stuff as in the 2 stores at Belz. I bought a couple of long sleeve shirts - one for Chris & one for my dad (Christmas), and one of the World traveler umbrellas for myself.

From there I entered WDW property, never having to get on I-4 at all! I parked at PI, and walked in from the parking lot. Tonight they weren't issuing wrist bands until 7pm - so they had the turnstiles chained off and were keeping people back. Anyone just passing through was allowed to enter PI, though - which seemed kind of strange. There was a big crowd waiting, and races were reversed - with me being the minority. It was a nice crowd - no gang type people - mostly women, and I was hoping they were all there for the concerts at 8 & 10. I talked to a woman near me who was carrying a portable chair - one of those that disassembles and is stored in a bag you carry on your shoulder. When we were let in, most people went directly to the stage to wait for the concert. The waiting area for Comedy Warehouse was taken over for the Vibe Live stuff, so I headed downstairs to the back door. They'll be using this entrance for the next 3 days, which the cast members hate!

I saw the first show, which was excellent, and then since the line for show 2 wasn't bad I saw that one also. Then I wandered around at the concert. I forget the name of the performer - maybe Tyrese??? Anyway, the music was really nice, and there was a very large crowd watching but everyone was perfectly behaved. I think the rap stuff is later in the weekend, and that's when historically they've had trouble. If I'm here next year at this time, I'd definitely come for the Comedy Warehouse on the Thursday of Vibe Live weekend. Afterwards I stopped by the Jazz Club to say goodbye to Nancy. She came out from the kitchen pulling open her chef's coat to show me her sunburned chest, lol - she got pretty pink while we were floating around that lazy river. I'd forwarded Buddy's trip reports to her last night, and she loved them...she was telling some of her co-workers about him & his antics. We chatted a short while, and then she went back to work and I left PI. They had signs posted at the exit warning that they expected a large crowd and could fill to capacity in which case people would not be allowed reentry.

I walked to the Marketplace to buy some stuff at Ghiradelli. To my delight they had their English toffee 50% off!!!! I immediately grabbed 6 of them, plus 2 of the $9.99 containers of chocolate (1 chocolate mint drops, 1 nonpareils) and a couple of free candy bars (DVC discount). I know that's a lot of chocolate, but it will last a while, lol - I'm not going to eat it all this weekend or anything like that! In fact, right now I'm not even interested in opening any of it! My last stop was at the Gourmet Pantry. A DVC friend (Arlene) will be working here soon, and I wanted to see if they sold my chocolate pretzels - they do. I'll have to get Arlene to work on getting them to carry my marshmallow things. In September 2001 I'm planning a trip to WDW without having park passes, so I'll need to find a way to get my marshmallow thingy without going to a park by then. That's 15 months away...hopefully it's doable!

I left the Marketplace, returned to my car, and drove back to the Hampton Inn. Gosh, I absolutely HATED leaving WDW property for the last time...but, even though I could come all the time if I lived up here, I do not want to live in the Orlando area. I'm very grateful I get to spend as much time here as I do and don't forget that.

In my room I finished up the report, ate the 2nd half of last night's cookie and one of the pretzels, and did my online stuff. Today went according to the plan - plus I got to the new Character Premiere location and did my chocolate shopping today rather than having to stop on the way home tomorrow.

Tomorrow's report might be posted a day late because I may not have time to do the wrap-up until very late Friday or sometime Saturday morning. I'll need to read this 52+ page report to create a summary and pull out the highlights - the memory isn't what it used to be, lol!

Total miles walked: No pedometer today

DAY 15 - FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2000:

PLAN: Check out of Hampton Inn, meeting at Adam's Mark, drive home

ACTUAL: I got up at 6:30 this morning. The meeting starts up at 9 again, and hopefully won't run past lunch. In a way I'd like to have time to stop at the office, even if it's just for an hour to put in an appearance & check some of the email, but on the other hand I need to get home and Chris has to be to work by 6:30...so stopping by the office might be too stressful. I'm leaving Sunday morning on another business trip, so I'm not willing to spend any part of my Saturday at work.

I showered & dressed, then got a bagel & hot chocolate from the continental breakfast & brought it back to my room. I left the room before 8:30 to drive to the Adam's Mark. Funny how it doesn't hurt to be leaving the Hampton Inn for the last time, lol! Would I stay here on vacation? NO way! Would I stay here again on business? Probably not - only if the Hampton Inn LBV on Palm Parkway was not available.

The meeting ran a little longer than I wanted. I'd hoped to be out of there by noon, but shortly after noon Elwood announced we still had at least an hour of stuff to cover, and suggested we take a lunch break. Argh!! At least we compromised, with a short lunch break. Tom & Laura went to check out and I met up with them in the food court. They both got their sandwich/salad thing from the same stand as yesterday, and I got a no-salt soft pretzel from Auntie Annie's (after picking up the samples walking around the food court). I tried Tom's cole slaw today - it was very good, but it had raisins in it...never heard of that before, and I purposely didn't take any of the raisins, lol!

I left the meeting shortly before 1:30, when the group was on the last topic. At this point it was too late for me to stop by the office, but at least I'd have a little time at home before going to the baseball game. The drive home was uneventful - I took roads that eliminated the chance of traffic on my way to I-4, so that made it easier. I'd originally thought my meeting would end early enough that I'd have time to stop at Ghiradelli, and am glad I did that last night since I wouldn't have had time for it today!

Total miles walked: No pedometer today

SUMMARY:

This was a great trip (I think all WDW trips are great, though). Now I can't believe it's over already, but while it was going on it felt like I had plenty of time. It does feel like a long time since I've been at the office, too. Moving 4 times (staying at 5 places) wasn't bad, and I really lucked out getting into my studio right away on the 2nd OKW stay and when checking in to CS. I was not pleased with the first floor location or the handicapped accessible studio at OKW, and will definitely not take that again. However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Old Key West, and even a crappy unit is better than not being there at all! The parks were pretty busy over Memorial Day weekend, but since I limited my time in the parks and spent more time relaxing at Stormalong Bay & elsewhere, it was not a problem. The Sterling Conference was great! The keynote speakers weren't as great as last year, and the entertainment and service seemed lacking compared to last year, but the content & quality of the sessions I took this year were better than last year. I think there is a definite difference between a deluxe resort & a moderate...in terms of attending a convention at those resorts.

I didn't experience the gay day crowds in the theme parks - had no interest in any extra crowds, but their presence was noticed at Pleasure Island on Thursday night. It wasn't a problem - it just seemed "different" to see so many male couples rather than the usual male/female couples. I only saw 2 cases of really inappropriate public sexual conduct at PI (out on the street) - 1 was a pair of lesbians and the other was a young man & woman overcome with lust while in front of me in line at the Comedy Warehouse. So, neither the gays nor the straights are any better or worse than each other, lol - it just comes down to the individual person/people.

Spending time at WDW without park access was not a problem at all for me. I really enjoyed the relaxation that came from not rushing out to a park, standing in line, etc. I've always said that the parks are not my priority (they come after Comedy Warehouse, the resorts, and my friends), but this was the first time I ever tested that belief...on previous trips I always had park access and always at least spent an hour or so in a park. I'm happy to report that I didn't miss going to the parks at all that second week.

Now that I'm home, I leave day after tomorrow for another business trip - this time to Tallahassee rather than Orlando. People asked me if I was just staying in Orlando and going from there, lol - but I have seasons tickets to our local baseball team and didn't want to miss any more games than I already did! My next vacations will be spending the 4th of July weekend at Disney's Vero Beach Resort, then returning to WDW 7/21 for a few days to meet Larry from Scotland (RADP) & his family, and then we're back 8/3 for the main vacation of the summer - 16 days including the 4 night Wonder cruise with a bunch of DVC friends.

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

Bus transportation from MK to BC - specifically not being told we'd first be stopping at 2 other resorts plus another park!
Hampton Inn Sandlake was not nearly as nice as the other Hampton Inns I've stayed at. Next time I'll stick with the one in LBV on Palm Parkway.
Biggest disappointment??? Having to leave OKW!
THE MAGICAL MOMENTS :

Just being back at OKW!
The Disney seminar - The Disney Approach to Operational Excellence was extremely interesting and a lot of fun (and relevant to my role at work).
Chocolate covered pretzels - just what I need, another WDW snack food, lol!
Ten nights at the Comedy Warehouse! I loved the new game (name rhyming thing), enjoyed seeing the cast members & meeting a couple of new people there, and usually lucked out with a great seat.
Stormalong Bay was great - I love that DVC perk! I enjoyed all my time here, especially the day spent with Nancy (can't believe how quickly it went by).
Spending time at LeCellier with my DVC friends, meeting Kathy & Linda for part of the trip, meeting the DVCtalk list members for the first time, and meeting other online people on an unscheduled basis was fun, and enhanced my trip.
Thanks for reading, thanks for all the positive comments shared with me, and as always - if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me! Next report will start 7/1/00 - just 3 weeks away.

Sue Holland