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01-07-2007, 08:48 PM
Sharon Burcie -- May 2000 -- All Star Movies

May 19th - May 27th

Cast of Characters:

šoš Myself, Sharon (mid-30s), trip planner, Tigger fan. This will be my third trip to WDW (1978, 1998). When I'm not busy playing taxi driver to my son, I am working in the quality assurance division for the state's food stamp and welfare programs.

šoš My son, Evan (pre-teen), Mickey fan. This will be Evan's second trip - but he hasn't stopped talking about trip #1 yet. Evan is big into acting and aspires to be one of the Disney characters when he grows up (the kind that walk around the parks in those costumes in the Florida heat - this has been his dream ever since we left WDW August 1998); he is also quite the artist, and I am strongly encouraging him in the direction of 'animator'.

History:

During our short trip in 1998 (four days), Evan and I covered the park like commandos - sort of. We did manage to get in that afternoon pool break and were happy that we were able to cover so much ground in such a short amount of time. As summer 1999 neared, marking the one-year anniversary since our last trip, and we listened with giddy excitement as our neighbors anticipated their one-week WDW vacation, Evan and I set about our plan for a lengthier stay in 2000. yea!

The Plan:

We plan to leave right after Evan gets out of school; thankfully, his school lets out at least a week earlier than many of the other schools in south central Texas and knowing that many of the schools up north aren't usually out until the second week of June, we thought we'd be able to beat some of the crowds. (keeping our fingers crossed). So ... we'll leave May 19th (Evan's last day of school - what a treat!) and return May 26th.

Where to stay? In 1998, we stayed at Port Orleans and absolutely loved it! However, with Evan getting braces in January (and we all know what kind of $$ we're talking), we're staying at All Star Movies. This will leave us with a few extra $$ spend in the parks (Disney's gotta love us)!

October 26, 1999: We have our ressies! Let the countdown begin - 207 days!

The (slight) Change of Plans:

March 1, 2000: Southwest Airlines began their $99/one-way internet special, however, the fare was not good for travel on May 26th. So ... why not stay another day and take advantage of the "low" airfare? A call to CRO and we're set for departure on May 27th instead of the 26th! One more day of magic!

What we are looking forward to:

šoš Relaxing. As I mentioned above, Evan and I did the semi-commando thing last time out and are looking forward to taking on the parks at a more leisurely pace. I know we still won't get to see and do everything that WDW has to offer, but we are looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere and holding onto the magic until our next trip.

šoš Rock -n- Rollercoaster. My neighbors loved it and it sounds like just my kind of ride. Evan's first roller coaster was BTMR; I'm hoping to get him on this one. Wish me luck!

šoš Tower of Terror. On our last trip, Evan would not ride and I did not want to do anything without him - I will not allow myself to pass it up again. The older I get, the more adrenaline I crave.

šoš Haunted Mansion. A favorite on my first trip in '78 and Evan's favorite on his first trip.

šoš Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon. For some reason, I've always been intrigued by all things underwater (as a kid, I never missed a Jacques Cousteau special on TV).

šoš New restaurants to try: Whispering Canyon Cafe; 'Ohana's (followed by fireworks from MK and the Electrical Water Pageant); Le Cellier (can't wait to try the Cheddar Cheese Soup); and, Toy Story Pizza Planet (more to check out the theming than the food).

šoš Horseback riding at Fort Wilderness.

šoš Disney magic for 24/7! (Well, almost, see next bullet)

šoš Islands of Adventure - I've heard and read nothing but wonderful things about this park and can't wait to experience it for myself.

šoš And finally, telling Evan who all was responsible for sending all the postcards from "Mickey" which he had been receiving since October 1999. (Cards stating "Can't wait to see you in May!" etc.) A special thanks to the RADP friends who offered to send him a card to complete the "collection".

What we are not looking forward to:

šoš The crowds. I'm hoping they won't be that bad. I would love to experience Disney between Thanksgiving and Christmas (when the decorations are up), but pulling Evan out of school for a week is not something I'm willing to do at this point. Perhaps the next trip will be an extended weekend during this time, staying at the Wilderness Lodge. :-)

šoš Coming home.

Day 0, Friday, May 19, 2000 "Oh My Gosh! Oh My Gosh! Oh My Gosh!"

The school bell rang at 3:00. Evan and I were full of excitement, knowing that by the end of this day, we would be at The World. Our flight was scheduled for departure at 7:10 p.m.. My brother-in-law arrived shortly before 5:00 as it was raining and we're unsure what this will do to traffic (even though we are native Texans, it still never ceases to amaze me that not only can Texans not drive in snow, but they can't seem to drive well in the rain either). We arrived at the airport in plenty of time. As we are walking to the gate, I realize what it is that I have forgotten to pack: my jeans for our horseback riding excursion at Fort Wilderness (stay tuned to find out whether I survive the saga of the saddle). While waiting for boarding passes, we met a nice family from New Mexico; Evan instantly found a new friend - their daughter. As is the Burcie family vacation ritual, we head to Amy's Ice Cream and pick up a snack to start our trip - after all ... we're on vacation. We meet back up with the Mitchells from New Mexico and the kids decide they would like to sit together. Enjoyed the Mitchell's company during the flight and we exchange hotel phone numbers, agreeing to try and meet up sometime during the week.

We arrive in Orlando at 10:50 p.m. (25 minutes later than scheduled). Our Tiffany Town Car driver, Carlos, is waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator. He asks if I can get the bags and meet him "downstairs". So ... I'm a newbie at this, and ask him to show me where to go to meet him. Rather than pointing me in the direction of the escalator, which, as it turns out, is all of 20 feet away from where we are standing, he instructs us to stay right here and he would be back. Well ... 15 minutes later, he emerges from "downstairs" and leads us to the car. (yes, he helps with the baggage). Once in the car, I ask about a stop at Goodings and he informs me there would be an additional $10 charge. huh? I don't recall this, but figure I haven't looked at that portion of Deb Wills' site in a while, so I mention I don't need beer that badly and he offers to stop at a convenience store if that's all we're getting (no charge). A quick stop and we're on our way. Next stop: Disney's All Star Movies.

After arranging a pick-up time with Carlos (7:00 a.m., Saturday morning - ouch!), we enter the very spacious and very brightly-colored lobby of the All Star Movies. Evan plops down in the "theater" to watch Toy Story and I get us checked in. Meredith informs me that we have mail waiting and I knew the room controller had come through for me on one point; when I faxed our room request, I asked the room controller to fulfill a special request - have a card signed from Mickey waiting for Evan at check-in. This card would complete a collection of postcards from "Mickey" which friends of mine had sent to Evan on their trips to the World beginning in October 1999. Evan is ecstatic to receive a very special card from Mickey which says "Hi Evan, Glad you're here. Hope you enjoy your stay. Your pal, Mickey" Score!!! As Meredith is arranging for our room keys, I ask if we're staying in one of the Toy Story buildings; yes, we're in Andy's room, facing the courtyard. The Room Controller comes through again! Many, many thanks! Our room was 9763, just 2 doors down from Woody's boot. We were greeted by Buzz each morning as we walked out our door. As we walk towards Toy Story, all we can say to each other is "Oh My Gosh! Oh My Gosh! Oh My Gosh!" Needless to say, we loved the place. Evan was anxious to dump the bags and explore Andy's room. We grabbed the camera, snapped some pictures and were in bed some time after 1:00 a.m. (that's not to say that I fell asleep right away - I was too keyed up! Our magical adventure had just begun!).

Day 1, Saturday, May 20, 2000 "The Marathon"

Our first wake-up call from The Big Cheese came at 6:00. It's early entry day at the Magic Kingdom and we're determined to get a lot done before the Saturday crowds converge upon the MK (and us). I send Evan to the food court to get refillable mugs and our daily dose of caffeine. We have granola bars and fruit/oatmeal bars in the room for breakfast and after purchasing Evan's autograph book, we're on our way to the MK.

We arrive at MK shortly after 8:00 and enjoy the sights and sounds of Main Street, USA. I found the statue of Minnie and Roy O. Disney in the Main Street plaza - something I'd never seen before. We make our way to the partners statue and have our picture taken with Walt and Mickey. We head to Fantasyland and begin with Peter Pan (no wait); there are few people in the queue upon our return from Neverland so we ask if we may ride again and were allowed to stay in our ship (yippee!). On to Snow White's Scary Adventure where we have about a 5-minute wait. We followed that up with Winnie the Pooh and had about a 10-minute wait; we both really enjoyed this ride (especially the bouncy parts), but not enough to challenge the crowds later on during the trip.

We head over to Tomorrowland where we pick up Fast Passes for Space Mountain (note that the posted wait time was only 15 minutes, but I needed the extra time to convince Evan that he'd survive the ride) and then onto Astro Orbiter. Evan thoroughly enjoyed this ride and unfortunately (for me, who's afraid of heights), he had control of whether we went up or down - you can guess that he took great thrill in keeping us high in the sky. Afterwards, Evan felt that a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority might help to calm his nerves about Space Mountain. He was still not ready, so we headed over to Buzz Lightyear with no wait. For our first time out, Evan scored 7,100 and I scored 23,100. We enter Space Mountain and have about a 5-minute wait with FP's. Evan bails on me and I go solo; as an afterthought, I decide that this really might be too much for him.

Finally for our Early Entry experience, we visit Mickey's Toontown Fair to visit Mickey's house, garden and yes! The Mouse, himself! This particularly excited Evan as he has never seen Mickey in his tux. We had to buy the picture and it now sits proudly in our living room. We head to the front of the park via the train (one pulled up just as we were exiting the judge's tent - perfect!).

It's time to head for Epcot via the monorail for 11:30 PS's at Le Cellier. We can't help but stop and marvel at the "giant silver golf ball" (as Evan calls it) which is all dressed up for some sort of party. :-) We take just a few moments to watch the dancing fountains and then power walk to the Canada pavilion. As we stroll the pathway to Le Cellier, Evan is convinced that he has found a hidden Mickey within the flowers. I tell him there can't possibly be a hidden Mickey in the flowers, but when he points it out to me, it sure looks as if the Mickey were planned by Disney's horticulturists - there it is, one red carnation-looking flower and on top of it are two orange carnation-looking flowers. I looked for some kind of thread which may have been holding them together that way, but couldn't see one. At any rate, we now have a picture of it - and it still looks like Mickey.

I chose Le Cellier because I had to try the cheese soup. We each loved the breadsticks and shared the cheese soup which we found to be extremely rich. I chose the special of the day, beef tips in a red wine sauce on top of garlic-roasted mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley; I found this to also be very rich. Evan insisted on an adult-size hamburger (because he claims he was starving) - he only finished half and I learned my lesson that he's still old enough for child-size portions.

Prior to our trip, one of the CMs from Test Track had offered to send Evan a card from Mickey (see Day 0) - much to my surprise, when he received and opened the card, out fell 4 Fast Passes which were good for any day from park opening to park closing. Next stop: ... you got it! Test Track! We chat briefly with the very special CM (Hi Linda!) and are into the pre-show in no time. Evan loved this ride - enough to warrant a second ride immediately following the first, and thus using our 4 freebie FP's. Thanks again Linda!

Next, it's into MouseGear for a little shopping, a quick visit with Goofy and Mickey, and then to Ice Station Cool. I did not forewarn Evan about Beverly and to my surprise, his reaction was "not bad". Based on that, I had to try it - now I'm not sure who was fooling who here, as I found it to be absolutely horrid. blech! Overall, he liked the lemon-lime tasting drink and I liked the watermelon.

By this time, we are both in need of a break and Evan is ready to check out the pool at ASMoR. We swim for a while (I forget how long exactly), then back to the room to iron clothes for the week and then to get ready for our evening jaunt into the parks (yes, I did say parks).

We head back to Epcot and find that Spaceship Earth (which we have never ridden - yea! another first!) is a walk-on. Evan finds this ride to be incredibly boring and I don't mind it much - except for the fact that it kept stopping. I agree with an earlier post which stated the headrests on this thing should be more comfortable for as much as you're leaning up against them (for the ride up and the ride down). Afterwards, it's off to Innoventions West (or is it East?) to send several electronic postcards courtesy of IBM. While I sent these postcards off on Saturday (roughly around 6:00 p.m. or so), many of the recipients did not receive them until Monday around 6:00 - I thought that was strange.

We head for the England pavilion where people are lining up for Tapestry of Nations. I also find that many folks had the same idea I did - fish & chips from the outdoor stand while waiting for ToN. So ... we wait for Fish & Chips, an ice tea for Evan and a Bass Ale for me. We find a spot for the parade (right where the parade begins in England) and have a toast to our friends from England (Cheers Kevin & Tammy, India & Georgia) followed by a yummy dinner. We finish just in time for the start of the most amazing parade that is currently being shown by Disney (IMHO). I had goose bumps throughout, sang to the music (had received the "Magic in a Box" along with our Park Hoppers and had been listening to the Millennium CD), and thoroughly enjoyed this parade. Afterwards, we searched in vain for a prime spot for Illuminations 2000: Reflections of Earth. We found a semi-decent seat (not really a seat as we had to stand the whole time ... so I guess I should call it a "spot") near the Friendship boat dock (Future World side). We were both in awe of Illuminations as well and were so very happy to finally be at The World.

You'd think we'd had just about enough for one day, right? Not a chance - tonight was one of two nights during our stay that we would have the opportunity to see the Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom. I have a vague recollection of this parade from my visit to the MK as a child; my mom was especially excited that her first grandchild would now get to see the same parade that she saw more than 20 years ago, so ... it's off to the Magic Kingdom (with several other hundred (thousand?) people who have just seen Illuminations with us). We travel to the MK by way of the monorail and have a slight delay just before entering the station at the MK - and we have a great view of the fireworks. woo hoo! We find a prime spot on the hub and wonder why, at 45 minutes till showtime (late parade, 11:00), no one else is sitting there. We soon find out that the parade doesn't go around "that side" of the hub - oops! So ... we're off to Frontierland where I've heard is a prime viewing location. We grab a seat on the porch of the candy shop, grab some snacks (from the candy store, of course) and a drink and wait for the lights to come down. Evan is tiring at this point and asking why we have to wait (and I quote) for "some old parade". Soon enough, the announcement comes, then the music, then it begins! Wow! Mickey posed for a picture atop his perch (at least, I'd like to think he was posing for me!) and as Alice passed, she blew Evan a kiss. He reached up and "caught" it and she giggled when he did. The look on his face was priceless. The music was absolutely infectious, though I can see where some might say it is nauseating. Not for us though - we loved it! Chip (or was it Dale?) came right in front of us and grabbed Evan for a quick picture. Afterwards, Evan exclaims that MSEP was "really cool"; my response - "not bad for 'some old parade', huh?"

Afterwards, we have roughly 15 minutes until park closing and Evan decides that this day would not be complete without a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. We are the sole occupants of our boat and really enjoy this ride (are you seeing a theme here ... enjoyed this, loved that ...) With that, we make our way to the exit, two very tired but happy campers. We both sleep on the bus on the way to ASMoR and have no problems falling into bed and fast asleep.

Day 2, Sunday, May 21, 2000 "New places, new friends"

Our day began at 7:30 with a call from Mickey. We head to the food court, pop tarts in hand, grab a banana & milk (for Evan), fill the mug with the daily caffeine requirement and toss the tarts into the toaster. Afterwards, we explore the resort and take a few pictures. I must say that overall, I was very happy with ASMoR. When I found our room was on the first floor near Woody's blocks, I remembered a trip report that someone had written saying that children were out playing on the blocks at all hours of the night - I'm happy to say that we didn't have the same problem on our trip. The "worst" thing that happened was about mid-week when a family with a screaming child moved in next door - they generally arrived back in their room after we had, and luckily, the child was quiet by the time we were ready to fall asleep (and yes, from what I recall, the child was screaming every night). But I digress, we liked ASMoR enough to stay there again without hesitation.

Today, we begin at River Country. Evan had been asking to go to this water park during our 1998 trip, but due to the short duration of our trip, we settled for the pool at the resort. With more time this trip, I would grant him his wish. As you may have figured out, Evan is not a big thrill ride person. After taking a quick dip in the pool, and visiting with Pluto (he was so cute in his star-spangled bathing suit!), Evan took a liking to the hang slide and spent most of the time playing there. As is the nature of kids, he made friends with a boy in the pool and they played around together for a while. I did the tube ride and one of the body slides and even tried the 5 foot hang slide myself; I don't know how Evan could say he doesn't like thrill rides - the hang slide was enough that I didn't want to get back on it. :-) As we head back to take another dip in the pool before lunch, we find Goofy and snap a picture. Lunch consisted of a chicken strip basket for me and a child's PBJ combo for Evan. While eating, we had to make sure and guard our food from the nearby birds - those little guys had voracious appetites and we witnessed them swipe more than one hot dog. Another quick dip in the pool, I try the slide that drops you into the water from 8 feet up (one word - ouch!) and we're ready to go. Note that by this time, it is only 12:30 and we're done with this park. I was quite surprised that Evan was ready to go, but he was. On our way out, we run into Minnie and the kids are going to play a game of "Minnie says"; Evan decides he wants to play and once he's out, we gather our things and are headed to the boat dock. What's this: as we're walking to the boat dock, we spy Goofy in a different swimsuit - that Goofy - always full of surprises!

Evan spots the water mice and hints that he would really like to try these at some point during our trip. (mental note for mom: another first for our trip.)

Upon return to ASMoR, we do a little shopping in the resort gift shop. It was here that I was reminded what a big heart my son has. He had seen me looking at the 2000 snow globe (the one with the park icons inside, mouse ears on top and plays "Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand") and announces that since he hadn't been able to get me anything for Mother's Day, that he would buy me the globe (yes, with his own money that he had been saving for this trip). It brought tears to my eyes. What a great kid I have, don't you think? After resting for a while in our room (a short and welcome nap), we get ready for MGM and to meet some RADP friends.

We arrive at MGM at 4:15 and are scheduled to meet Jim McKinley and his family along with whoever else might join us at 5:00. We head towards Star Tours and there is a posted wait of 20 minutes; we decide not to chance it what with the Mulan parade about to begin (we're meeting at Rock 'n Rollercoaster) and turn around and head for the other side of the park. The magic hour approaches and up walk the McKinley clan (Hi Jim, Lisa, Tara, J.P. and Serena!). Evan has pretty much decided he's not brave enough to try RnRC, but watches Tower of Terror long enough that he thinks it looks like fun. We spend a few minutes chatting, talking about our trip, Jim shows me some of his artwork (way cool pics of the Disney babes!) and their pins. Evan and I have not gotten into the pin trading thing (thank goodness - otherwise, I would have been way over budget on this trip), but we did pick up 2 pins each (the sorcerer Mickey and the Spaceship Earth 2000 pins for Evan; the Tigger and 2000-Celebrate the Future pins for me). While waiting, Denise shows up (Hi Denise!) and we all decide to ride ToT (except for Lisa, who will sit out with their youngest, Serena, and Evan decides to join them). I was so excited to finally ride ToT, even with my fear of heights. As we exit the pre-show, Tara and J.P. decide that taking the chicken exit is not a bad idea - they leave us just before we are assigned to our elevator, with all 3 kids proudly squawking as they go. We end up in the front row and this panics me ever so slightly. Denise is a little tense as she has not ridden for several years and has not experienced the new drop sequence. By the time we got to the 17th drop, we were enjoying ourselves tremendously. oh! It was only 6 drops you say ... sorry, I couldn't tell. :-) At any rate, we all really liked this ride and Evan tells me later that he had really wanted to ride it, but the pre-show scared the be-jeebers out of him. (by the way, I think our wait was all of 20 minutes.) We head for Rock 'n Rollercoaster and decide to pick up Fast Passes (7:30 - 8:30 return time). Evan is dying to go on Star Tours, the McKinley's had not experienced it yet, so we decide to head back to the other side of the park (boy, I wish I had one of those little things that would tell me how many miles I had walked each day!). Denise bids us farewell as we reach Hollywood Blvd. as she is going to see Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits. Unfortunately, we zip through the queue (did I just say that) and have a 10-minute wait for our Star Speeder (that is what they're called, right?). Jim stays back with Serena and the rest of us our on our way to Endor. I think it's safe to say that the McKinley's really liked this ride as evidenced by the screams coming from Tara and J.P. (and Evan added to it!) I've never been the beneficiary of the baby swap thing, but when Jim entered the Star Speeder, Lisa took the baby out and the rest of us got a second ride! woo hoo! How cool is that?

Lisa has her heart set on doing the animation tour and we all agree to do that. Best laid plans though ... as we're passing the theater where Doug Live is shown, we see that showtime is all of 5 minutes away. So ... in we go. We all really liked this show, especially the kids. (Lisa said she didn't mind passing on the animation tour - especially since the kids enjoyed the show so much. Everybody all together now: awwwwwww.) It's time to head for RnRC and Lisa takes Evan and Serena to find us a seat for Fantasmic.

With our FP's, we're in the sound studio in no time. (Has anyone else wondered how they could get those doors with the marbles off the hinges, and into their suitcase to take them back home? I thought they were very neat!) We get into our limo and are zooming to "Walk this Way" in 2.6 seconds flat. This is just my kind of ride and I would love to go on it again and again, but it's time to join Lisa and Evan for Fantasmic. Or should I say to wait for Fantasmic ... and wait ... and wait.

Lisa let Evan pick the seats and he picked the first row. Evan is a huge Sorcerer Mickey fan and he couldn't wait to see this show. During the pre-show, we were entertained by the three plumbers and then the 2 bellman (who looked like they came from ToT). During the Star Wars trivia contest, we witnessed a very special event - a marriage proposal. Wow! How exciting! We were all amazed at Fantasmic, although it was hard to see the pictures which were projected on the water screens from our close vantage point. Just before the finale, we get up in an attempt to beat the crowds out of the theater and we see Sorcerer Mickey appear as we're walking up the steps. As we're leaving, I notice that we're being funneled through backstage and I agree that it sure feels funny - but then again, I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck with 6,999 other people trying to get out of the theater through the one path. We say our good-byes to the McKinleys as the kids have school the next day and Evan and I scan the shops for a Sorcerer Mickey plush - without success.

We wait for our bus in a line that reaches almost back to the MGM gate. Surprisingly, it seemed to move rather quickly given the fact that guests for all three All Stars are being put on the same buses. A little note here which rather upset me: a lady in an ECV (the electric wheelchairs) made her way into the line just in front of us - that's not what upset me so much as when she realized she could go to the front of the line, she ran right over her son's foot and kept on going despite his cries of pain. It was very frustrating. But I digress ...

We arrive at ASMoR (the last stop for all of the All Stars), pick up an individual pizza and breadsticks and head to our room. Afterwards, Evan decides he has to swim in the pool at night and that's where we end up. He finds some friends from England to play with and I sit by the pool and write postcards. It was a great night to sit by the pool and soak up the atmosphere. I think we returned to our room around midnight and again, fell fast asleep.

Day 3, Monday, May 22, 2000 "Hold that boat!"

Mickey called at 6:30 this morning, but we couldn't seem to pull ourselves out of bed until 7:00. After breakfast in the room, we left for Animal Kingdom shortly after 8:00. After making our way through the Oasis, we walk onto a pathway and there it is, the Tree of Life - breathtaking! Yes, we've seen it before, but it didn't take away from that experience at all. We actually asked one of the photographers to take our picture (didn't buy it after all). We head for Dinoland to pick up Fast Passes for Dinosaur. We then make our way into a gift shop as our FP time is about 45 minutes away. Evan, even though he's been on this ride before (he had his head down the entire time last trip), is a little leery. We make it through the queue, and the CM doesn't take our FP's. Hmmm .... Evan keeps his head up for our journey through time and says he'd love to ride again. Well ... we still have FP's - so why not? We go back through the line and this time, the CM takes our FP's. We didn't buy either of the pictures.

Next, we're off to see It's Tough to Be a Bug. The line reached out to the main walkway and I thought we were in for a pretty long wait. Evan saves our place in line while I race to get us something to drink. By the time I'm back with the drink, I felt as if I walked halfway through the queue before I found him. Evan vaguely remembered some of the effects and knew he didn't want to lean up against the back of his seat. We both forgot to plug our noses for that certain part and *ewwwwww* did it smell!

We picked up FP's for Kilimanjaro Safaris and head to Camp Minnie Mickey for Festival of the Lion King. We paused along the pathway in the very spot where we had our special moment with Mickey and Minnie two years ago and remembered how very magical it was (we had Mickey and Minnie to ourselves for a couple of minutes on our last trip - it was very special!) As we're let in to the theater for FoLK, we are directed towards the Lion section. As we sit down, the family next to us is passing around their Dinosaur (CTX) picture; I glance over and who do I spot - but me and Evan! I mention to their son that they have "our" picture and we all got a little chuckle out of it. What a small world. Once again, we are awed at the show.

After we dry our eyes from watching a wonderful show, it's time for our Safari. But before we can go there, I have to change the film in my camera - wait a minute! There's something wrong with my camera! Perfect! We've only been here for 3 days and my camera is toast - it won't advance the (new roll of) film. In a panicked state, we rush to the Camera Center in hopes that something, anything, can be done. The very kind CM (Ruth, I believe) brings out the black bag and in a matter of minutes, all is right with the world again as she proclaims that our camera is just being temperamental today - probably due to the humidity. Whew! With all visions of having to buy several disposable cameras out of my head and a deep sigh of relief, we depart for our safari.

We waited between 5 - 10 minutes before we were on safari with our driver Dan (who was excellent, by the way). We saw many, many animals - more than our last trip - including the lion and lioness (they were both sleeping though, so we only saw the tops of their head - but what the heck - I'll claim that we saw them anyway). With Little Red safe and the poachers in custody, we knew we could move on to our next adventure.

Today seemed hotter than the past couple of days - I don't know if the temperature was truly higher or if it was just hotter because we were in Animal Kingdom. We stopped for refreshments (frozen banana for Evan, frozen orange juice bar for me) and walked around an air conditioned shop for a while. We also stopped to watch some performers in Harambe (perhaps by Tusker House?) which were incredible.

Despite my aversion to getting wet, we both decide that Kali River Rapids would be a good thing to do about now and we decide that getting FP's would be better than waiting in the heat in the stand-by line (thank goodness for Fast Pass - we seem to have used it a lot this day). By this time, we decide that our stomachs would probably appreciate being fed and grab some burgers, chips and something to drink. We find a shady little spot along a pathway and enjoy a nice relaxing lunch.

It's time for KRR and after getting out of our shoes and socks, we're on our raft and in for yet more adventure. On the way up the "ramp", Evan and I are going backwards and are informed by our fellow riders that we are "the chosen ones" for this trip - meaning: we will get wet ... no, change that ... we will get SOAKED! We did get wet, but not uncomfortably so - I think some others in our raft got the actual soaking. It was just what we needed to cool off. Afterwards, Evan wants to go on a character hunt so we head towards Camp Minnie-Mickey.

Chip and Dale are on the pathway leading to Camp Minnie Mickey. Once we get to the character greeting areas, we visit the Hundred Acre Wood friends (Eeyore & Pooh). Then we come up with the idea of getting autograph books for my nephews - this would be their gift from our trip. Next up, Jungle Friends, where Meeko is leaving to take a break and Terk comes out next. We then wait for Pluto and Goofy (cute camping outfit, Goofy!), and back to Jungle Friends to see Brer Fox (another first for us!). And finally, the long, long, wait to see Mickey and Minnie. After we had a picture taken of the four of us, Mickey kissed my hand - how sweet - but I hope Minnie didn't see him!

We leave Animal Kingdom at 5:30, pleased that we have seen everything we wanted to and at a very relaxed pace.

Once back at ASMoR, we rush to get ready for our 7:30 PS's at 'Ohana's. Before heading to the Polynesian, we stop to call my parents and check on Dawson, our Pug. Mom reports he's had some "digestive problems" and I'm afraid he's gotten homesick for his boy and me. She promises to keep a close watch on him, we assure her we're having a GREAT time and she is amazed that we've already been to all four parks and a water park in just three days.

We board a bus to the MK and run to catch a boat over to the Polynesian. It seems as if this is the beginning of the "we're running late" theme which continues throughout the rest of the trip. (my friends always tell me I'll be late to my own funeral.) We saw something here that quite amazed me.

*Rant on * While waiting for the boat to arrive, a family with 4 children walk up; one of the girls throws a piece of trash towards the water and it lands near the foot of the CM who will captain our boat to the Poly. The CM picks up the trash, gives it back to the girl (who, I estimate was about 7 years old and in my opinion, should have known better), and points her in the direction of the nearest trash can. Hooray for the CM! Much to my amazement, the parents say nothing and even more to my amazement - they disembark at the Grand Floridian. So ... I guess there's one thing that money can't buy and that's good manners! (and no, I don't believe that everyone who stays at the Grand Floridian allows their children to act this way.) *Rant off*

We are greeted at 'Ohana's with a warm "Aloha" from our cousins and are introduced to the gentlemen who will prepare our appetizers and our main course. Overall, I'd describe the food here as "different" - not necessarily in a bad way, but it didn't just knock us over. The best part of our meal was probably the entertainment with the various kids games and Evan really got a kick out of the parent participation requirement (especially enjoyed seeing my attempt to hoola-hoop - he even has pictures - oh no! I thought blackmail pictures were only supposed to work the "other way around" - where I would embarrass him when he was leaving for his senior prom!) We also witnessed our second marriage proposal and began to wonder if we'd manage to see one every day this trip.

We bid Aloha to all of our cousins, thanking them for the excellent service. We walk to the beach as the MK fireworks are going off and afterwards, watch the Electrical Water Pageant. Evan loved sitting on the beach at the Poly and feeling the sand between his toes. After a boat ride to the MK, we hop a bus back to ASMoR and arrive by 10:30. We wind down and lights are out by 11:00.

Day 4, Tuesday, May 23, 2000 "Watch out for that Wave!" & "E-ride night"

We actually (feel as if we) sleep in today when Mickey calls at 8:00. After 9 glorious hours of rest (which seems to be at a premium when we're at WDW), we're ready to start our day. Evan has been balking at the breakfast foods I brought from home and we decide that we'll have breakfast in the food court - I've made some magic (gee - if I only knew it was that easy ...) for my son. Evan had the child's Mickey waffles and I had the child's French toast. Both were yummy.

We arrive at Typhoon Lagoon by 10:30 (it seemed to take an awfully long time for a bus to pick us up today) and when we top the hill and get our first glance at the wave pool, Evan is excited beyond belief. If he would have had his way, he would've been in the wave pool and taken all of our belongings with him! We find a spot for our things near the surfboard shack (I forget the name - don't even know what they sell in there), force Evan to wait just 5 more minutes while I put on some sunscreen and we head for the wave pool. Even without the warning (cannon?) blast which signals the wave is coming, the screams of both joy, and perhaps some of fear, told us that we were about to catch our first wave. We both loved it and decided that this wasn't just your average ol' wave pool. I tried to explain to Evan how he could body surf and I think he did pretty well. Time and time again (if I guesstimated correctly, about once every two minutes?), the wave came in and we both came up smiling. Until that is ... that I realized I was too tall to be catching the wave at the same point Evan was catching it (around the 4 ft. mark) ... it took me several scrapes on the knees before I finally moved further out. Even at the 4ft mark, Evan got one heck of a scrape on his knee, but he insisted he didn't want to go further out and to my knowledge, didn't get scarred again. I don't know how long we stayed in the wave pool, didn't watch the time, didn't care.

After however long, I convinced Evan that I wanted to go to Shark Reef - after all, this was my sole purpose for coming to Typhoon Lagoon (the wave pool turned out to be a bonus. :-) ) I took him into the observation area, thinking that he would join me, but he said he'd wait for me and I should go and have a good time. okay - no problem there. We wait for our instructions, our group says "hi" to Dana, one of the lifeguards who's only 3 days away from ending her employment with Disney, and in we go. It was absolutely incredible. Well ... okay ... maybe not incredible; I've been snorkeling in Cancun and THAT's incredible - so this is just a lot of fun. My mom will be glad to know that the sharks stayed at the bottom of the tank (every time I mentioned going to Shark Reef, I got "I don't want to hear it. I'm not listening. Don't tell me what you're going to do there." from her). I decide that one trip through the tank is not enough, so I go for a second go-round and then I'm done; Evan has waited patiently for me and is ready to get into Castaway creek.

We take our turn around the park and by the time we are ready to exit (and head back to the wave pool), we're back to where we dropped in. It's back to the wave pool for more tossing around, only this time, they have the constant motion thing going on versus the huge wave which arrived every couple of minutes (not much to be tossed around by). We decide to go exploring and to find some of the tube rides or something. We find the family raft ride and actually have to wait in line. imagine that. Evan is skeptical about this, but all his fears are unfounded. I think he actually said the ride was "boring". I ride Mayday Falls and decide he's been a trooper to stand and wait so long for me to ride, and I know he's dying to get back into the wave pool, so we return.

We spend the rest of our time in the wave pool and sometime around 4:00, we decide to say good-bye to Typhoon Lagoon. On the way out, Evan spots the temporary tattoos, finds a Mickey which he'd like to have and I can't help but say yes. So ... $8 later and my son is sporting a tattoo (oh no! my parents barely handled his earring - and now he's got a tattoo! ;-) )

When we arrive back at ASMoR, we realize we haven't eaten lunch yet, so we stop to pick up a Grilled Chicken Sandwich combo for me, a PBJ combo for Evan and a Mickey-shaped rice krispie treat to share for dessert. After our late lunch (early dinner?), we take a one-hour nap, even calling for a wakeup call from Mickey. Tonight is E-ride night and we don't want to miss it!

We arrive at the MK sometime around 7:00 and Evan decides he's on a character hunt again. We head for the Fantasyland Character Festival where we visit with Pinocchio, Gideon and Geppetto - 3 new characters for us. woo hoo! We head to Ariel's Grotto and have a very short wait (as compared to the attempt we made at suffering from heatstroke during our last trip - where we waited more than 30 minutes in the heat of the day) - yes, this was much better. In our picture of Evan and Ariel from our last trip, Evan is shying away from her, almost as if he's not sure if he's SUPPOSED to be that close to a mermaid in seashells; but this trip (mind you, he's 12), he sat a lot closer to her. We snack on a shave ice then dash to the Tomorrowland arcade to pick up our wristbands. We head to Toontown Fair where I had to convince Evan that he would survive a ride on Goofy's Barnstormer (as I mentioned before, he's not into thrill rides and anything labeled a coaster he considers a thrill ride). He loved it so much, that he wanted to ride it again and again. The CM at the entrance just laughed at us each time - with him running ahead of me with this huge grin on his face and me trying to keep up. And after each ride on the barnstormer, I got a shower from the Miss Daisy.

After 3 runs through the hen house, we head for the County Bounty where we hope to meet more characters before the park closes at 9:00. We walk into one room with no wait and are greeted by Goofy and Donald. While waiting for Donald to autograph his book, Evan begins singing M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E ... Donald thinks that he'd prefer to be the star of this show and stomps his foot and shakes his head. I ask if we should be singing about him and he agrees. So I start singing "D-O-N-A-L-D D-U-C-K-there's nothing else that goes here". So Donald writes in Evan's book, "Donald Duck #1" and wants me to sing it. So Evan and I perform a duet for Donald and he's very happy with us after that - even allowing us to go see Goofy. As we turn around to leave, all 3 doors to each of the greeting rooms are open and we're allowed to room hop. Next is Minnie and Pluto where Evan takes a picture with each and then one of them together. And finally, it's time to see Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. Here's where we have another magical moment: while Evan is posing with Tigger, who has wrapped Evan up for a hug, Tigger begins tickling Evan. Now how did Tigger know that Evan is extremely ticklish? Tigger doesn't quit until after Evan is rolling on the ground (and Tigger is on his knees continuing to tickle him) and begs him to stop. It was so much fun!

After saying good-bye, we exit County Bounty and Evan decides he'd like to see Minnie's house. As soon as we walk in the doors, we hear 2 very large noises from outside - or is it on the roof? We go back outside to see - what else - the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks. So we stand there with a handful of people and ooh and aah over the beautiful show. It would've been nice to hear the music better, but it was beautiful just the same.

It's time for E-ride night and the park is practically empty - eerily so. So ... since we're feeling eery, we decide to start E-ride with the Haunted Mansion. This was Evan's favorite ride during our last trip and he's been waiting patiently for 3 days to ride it. So ... we ride a second time. Next, it's off to Frontierland where I ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Evan claims his stomach is upset and sits this one out). We head around to the hub where the characters are out at 10:00. Evan is excited to see Mickey in his tux again and has fun giving to commands to Pluto (sit, lay down, roll over) - Pluto is a very well-trained pup! Next he dances with both Chip and Dale and we run into Minnie and Goofy again. We stop at Casey's for some fries and a drink and then we're off to Tomorrowland.

Evan likes Robin Williams, so we wait for the Timekeeper. This is a dizzying little show and unfortunately, no seating. Don't they realize we all have tired feet? I wouldn't say that we were particularly thrilled with this attraction and both kind of walked out, looked at each other and said "hmm ... that was interesting". I didn't have the courage to go into Alien Encounter by myself (well ... I know I wouldn't have been in the place "by myself", but you know what I mean - I didn't want to go without Evan ... give me a break here - okay! I'll say it - I was scared! feel better?). Next up was Buzz Lightyear. Evan scored over 26,000 points (and he was controlling the spinning) and I racked up a whole 900 points - something had to have been wrong with my laser and Evan "agrees" to go on it again - just so that I could have another chance to get more points. (told you he was a sweet kid - agreeing to go on Buzz one more time just for me. ;-) ) I do Space Mountain and we decide to head for Main Street. We do a little shopping in the Emporium (because what visit to the MK is complete without doing that?) and Evan still searches in vain for a Sorcerer Mickey plush. We listened to the closing announcement, watch the castle in all of its colors and call it a night. We arrive at ASMoR, watch some TV, listen to the screaming kid next door and fall asleep around 1:30.

Day 5, Wednesday, May 24, 2000 "A different kind of Disney day"

Our day began like any other (well ... any other day this week) with a wakeup call from Mickey (7:00 a.m. - yes! ouch! after E-ride night). For breakfast, Evan has a huge cinnamon roll and milk from the food court and I decide to have a some fruit and a granola bar with my caffeine of choice. We left ASMoR at 8:45, with plenty of time to make it to Fort Wilderness by 9:30 (for our 10:00 trail ride) - or so we thought.

For the second time, we waited for a long time for an MK bus to come our way. One Epcot bus, two Epcot buses and finally ... our transportation to the MK. We hopped directly onto the ferry which took us across to the Transportation and Ticket Center. We hop on the Boone bus at 9:40 (told you we waited for long time for that MK bus) and are told by the driver that it would take about 20 minutes to get to the stables. yikes! We're running late - once again. We arrive at the stables at exactly 10:00, run to the kennels to pick up our trail ride tickets, stuff our bag in a locker and jump on our horses. We apologized profusely for our late arrival and are ready to relax on our ride. Evan's horse is named Sundance, a smaller brown horse; and mine is Rocky, a palomino, or "paint". I had brought a towel to put underneath my legs since the one item I forgot for our trip was a pair of jeans just for this event, but the CMs said it would only cause me to slide around in the saddle. The trail ride itself, if you're even remotely experienced in riding, is done at a very slow pace. You're on a trail and are instructed to keep the horses in a line, with each horse's nose just behind the tail of the horse in front of you. The trail was nice, with little Disney touches here and there. We had a very personable CM with us (Katy, I think) who made the ride enjoyable. This was Evan's first time on a horse ever and he thoroughly enjoyed it - enough to beg me for a second ride. A second ride wasn't exactly in the budget and furthermore, my knees were killing me - not that they were sore from rubbing against the saddle, but I was feeling all too aware that I was getting older. In hindsight, I wish I would've just bore the pain and done the ride again.

After we say goodbye to Rocky and Sundance, we catch the Dale bus to the Settlement Depot and then catch the Crockett bus to Wilderness Lodge. We have a few minutes before our 12:00 PS's at Whispering Canyon and planned to use that time to explore the resort. We walk in, look at each other and all we can say is "wow". This is my dream resort and I'm determined to stay here some day. We take some pictures and as we're about to take a picture of the character totem pole (near the resort gift shop), Eeyore walks up and just stands next to the poll. So ... we snap his picture. Thanks Eeyore! Evan is going to take my picture by the poll next, and a CM walks by and offers to take one of the both of us. It was neat. We wander outside to the pool and Evan is disappointed that he didn't have his suit so he could jump in (don't know whether he would've gotten away with it or not ....) The geyser and surrounding "streams" have been drained and a sign is posted saying that the drought has caused the geyser to go dry. As we're coming inside, we run across Pooh and Tigger who are headed for the character breakfast (lunch?) at Artist Point. The kid in Evan comes out and he continues to follow them - almost all the way into the restaurant - before I can call him back and tell him where they're headed. The dinner bell rings and the staff at Whispering Canyon "announce" (yell) that lunch is ready. :-) We are seated shortly (after a party of 16) and are greeted by our waiter. My initial thought was to try the barbecue (since that's what the place is famous for), but what catches our eye are the unlimited milkshakes. Not knowing how well milkshakes and barbecue will go together, we opt for burgers and shakes. Having heard that something fun would happen if you asked your server for ketchup (when ordering barbecue), I was interested to see what happened. However, when we arrived, every table had a ketchup bottle on it already. So we never got to see what the big deal was. Neither of us were terribly excited about our meal. The burgers were overcooked and the milkshakes were bland. All told, we spent almost $27 here and didn't feel we got our money's worth at all. Will we go back to Whispering Canyon? Possibly to try the barbecue (although ... we're from Texas, where barbecue was born, so it'll be pretty tough to impress us. ;-) ).

While waiting for a boat back to the MK, Evan is admiring the fun that the folks in the water mice are having tooling around the lake. So ... as the boat for the MK is headed our way, I tell Evan "let's go". Evan: "where to?" Me: "you'll see". He figures it out as we get closer to the marina and is repeatedly thanking me and covering me with hugs. We sign the paperwork, grab our life vests and are greeted by a very tanned, very sweaty young man with an incredibly buff bod ... oops! sorry about that, must've drifted off. (yes, he really was all those things!) After being taught how to operate one of these things, we're out onto Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (the time is 1:50 and the young God of the marina writes down that we picked up our mouse at 2:00 - yea! 10 extra minutes!). We tool around, spending most of the time near the Grand Floridian and the Poly and have a lot of fun. Evan kept asking me to "go faster" and to cross other people's wakes - and the boy says he doesn't like thrill rides! We had loads of fun and will probably make this one of our traditional WDW activities.

It's back to ASMoR for a short break and for Evan to change out of his jeans (I don't know how he does it, but he says he wasn't that hot). When we arrive at our room, Evan is thrilled to see that the housekeeper has arranged his plushes on a chair in our window. We no sooner lay down then it is time to head for MGM if we're to catch the Toy Story characters.

We arrive at MGM at 4:30 and head for New York Ave.. We are stopped and blocked by the Mulan parade and decide we should watch it (well ... it's not like we have a choice here - we have no way of getting to the other side of the "street"). They've added a few things to the parade (more entertaining things) since our last trip and we're glad we got to see part of it. As soon as the parade passes, we're in a rush to find Buzz, Woody and more importantly, Jessie! We arrive when Buzz and Woody are checking in with the guys back in Andy's room and are entertained by the trivia contest Judy (CM) has going on. When Buzz and Woody arrive, we ask Judy if Jessie is coming out also and she tells us she's out in the courtyard. She offers to get Buzz and Woody's autographs for us if we'd like to go get pictures with Jessie (since we've never seen her) and we take her up on her offer. True to her word, once we say adios to Jessie, we take the autograph books to Judy and she asks Buzz and Woody to "autograph" them for us (they had just finished with their last guest). Thanks Judy!

Because Evan is (was?) a huge Home Improvement fan, I figured he would enjoy Backstage Pass. This was interesting, but not overly exciting. We got to see some activity on the set of "Dooley and Pals" and some show with a lady named "Donna" (sorry, don't remember). Next is the Backlot Tour. I think there were a few things that were different (different vehicles in the vehicle graveyard) and the character parking lot was gone. For some reason, I liked our tour better this time around, but I can't exactly say why. Next we stop for a snack at the Studio Catering Co. (churro, popcorn and a coke) and take a picture with Flik. Any guesses as to what we did next? Give up? Okay ... we went to play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, of course! Next up: Muppets 3-D. We actually got to watch the pre-show this time and really enjoyed it. Loved the show too, but I think the effects were lessened based on where we were seated - all the way at the end of one of the rows. After Muppets, it's time for another trip to Endor so that Evan could satisfy his Star Tours fix.

We're both getting a little hungry and decide to peek into Pizza Planet. I was a little disappointed in this. I don't know why it wasn't themed better - I mean, I know it's an arcade, but ... . Evan decides the pizza doesn't look too appetizing, so we move on. As we're passing Drew Carey - Sounds Dangerous, we notice that showtime is only a few minutes away. For some reason, Evan thinks it's necessary to grab seats in the front row (don't ask me - there were all of 30 of us in the whole theater! and besides, it's not like front row seating is going to give you a vantage point) We both liked this and got a kick out of the bees and the haircut (I'm sure that Evan squirmed in his seat just like when he gets his haircut back home). By this time, we're both a lot hungrier than we were earlier and decide that we'll eat at one of our favorite spots - the 50's Prime Time Cafe. Unfortunately, Mom Barbara and Brother Lerroy had gone to visit Uncle Charlie (neither were working), but Uncle Dave treated us just right. Evan loved interacting with Uncle Dave, but it seemed as if Uncle Dave got a little tired of the interaction after a while. Evan had chicken fingers and I had the clam chowder and side salad. Both were yummy. (I would've tried the fried chicken, but it was a little late to be eating such a heavy meal.) With the park about to close, we head to The Great Movie Ride and walk right on - we are the only ones in the tram and I wonder how long they will wait before we can begin our ride. Three people join us and we're off! This was another ride I enjoyed more this trip than the last. Can't really explain it. Maybe because our guide, Rebecca, had a lot of fun with the five of us and we could hear a lot better too. In an effort to beat the Fantasmic crowds, we leave MGM with heavy hearts, for we will not return to this park this trip.

We return to our resort, have an ice cream from the food court, and fall fast asleep sometime around midnight.

Day 6, Thursday, May 25, 2000 "Islands of Adventure through the eyes of a non-thrill riding person"

After waking around 6:30, I sent Evan to the food court to pick up some cereal/milk for him and to fill up my mug. After having breakfast in our room, we headed out to meet the 8:00 Mears bus which would take us to Islands of Adventure. One of the things I noticed on the bus ride over was the smoke and how thick it looked. That's not to say I hadn't noticed the smell of smoke in the air all week, but just seeing it was something; today, the smoke smell was a lot worse than all other days - perhaps Universal is closer to where the fires were burning. By the time we arrived, walked to the entrance (well ... okay, we used the moving sidewalks, so didn't really "walk"), through City Walk and got in line, it was a little before 9:00. The gates for us non-multi-day pass holders opened promptly at 9:00 and we began this adventure. As soon as we walked into the park, we ran into Popeye and Evan was excited to see characters here too. For whatever reason, Evan pleaded for me not to ride Hulk, and after standing underneath it and watching it for a while, I allowed myself to be convinced that maybe the boy was onto something - I got terribly intimidated by it.

With all the talk of the technology being used in Spiderman, this was our first stop. We walked the entire length of the queue and before we knew it, we were waiting in the loading area - we had all of a 5-minute wait. Evan was a little hesitant about this ride, but really, really liked it - we both did. I was terribly impressed. We liked it so much, that as soon as we exited, we got right back in line. This time, we had all of a 15-minute wait and we absolutely loved it again.

As we walked through Marvel Super Hero Island, I felt as if we were inside a comic strip. As we entered Toon Lagoon, we see Rocky and Bullwinkle entertaining a few people and decide to stop for pictures. Bullwinkle promptly removed Evan's Disney 2000 cap and placed it on my head and when I went to join the picture, he made me put the cap down next to the greeter. It was fun. They had lots of fun posing for pictures of us and Evan is excited that he has pictures with two up and coming movie stars! While walking thru Toon Lagoon, we took some time to watch Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. While I am not big into water attractions (something about walking around in wet drawers and socks all day doesn't sit well with me), I knew this would be the day I'd have to suck it up for Evan's sake and spend the day getting wet. Well ... much to my surprise, he didn't want to ride any water rides. I was shocked! So ... we were happy to just watch others get soaked.

As we enter Jurassic Park, we both noticed the feel that it has, and all of the detail - just like the movie (the dinosaur sounds coming from the bushes, the "hot wires" strung along the pathways). Evan got a glimpse of the Pteranodon Flyers and decided it looked like fun. So .. we hopped in line and we waited ... and waited ... and waited. The misting fans were a very nice touch as the queue has very little shade. I also noticed that at one point in the queue with little else to look at, I was looking at one of the backstage areas (probably on the backside of Toon Lagoon); it was terribly disappointing to be immersed into "Jurassic Park" only to hear banging and clanging from some very loud maintenance workers (this was our first clue that we had left Disney property). Once we boarded our flyer, we were in for a very short ride after a very long wait. Oh well ... live and learn. The ride itself is tame and travels along the perimeter of Camp Jurassic. Naturally, with that vantage point, Evan decides that Camp Jurassic will be our next stop. I've also noticed that since we are on the other side of the park, we can no longer hear the roar of the Hulk as we could throughout Marvel Super Hero Island and Toon Lagoon.

As we romped through Camp Jurassic, I found my fear of heights heightened when crossing over rope bridges and the like. I also felt a sense of claustrophobia when climbing up and down the different towers. On the flip side, Evan really liked it, with it's many tunnels and pathways to explore. We both got a kick out of the echoing cave. Way cool!

We both are getting hungry by this time thanks to our meager breakfast choices and happen to be right in front of Burger Digs. Close to $20 later, and Evan and I are waiting for his burger combo and my grilled chicken sandwich combo (ouch! Even Disney prices aren't THIS bad!) After the shock wore off, we made our way to the counter to pick up our food. I ask Jermaine, the young man who slid our tray across the counter towards us, where we might find condiments for our sandwiches - Jermaine's response: a finger pointed in the direction of the condiment carts and Evan says he detected a slight grunt from him as well. My response: "Well Evan, you can certainly tell we're not at DISNEY anymore." Surprisingly, after the experience we've had so far in this place, the food was pretty good and we were stuffed.

After trying to convince Evan that we should try the Jurassic Park River Adventure (without success), he asked for another ride on Spiderman. So we trek all the way back around to Marvel Super Hero Island. All of the Express Pass tickets (Universal's version of Fast Pass) are gone for the day, but the single rider line is open. We get on line and have a fairly lengthy wait even then; I had overheard several people talking about technical difficulties earlier in the day and as we wait to be called, they suffer technical difficulties again. oh well. Not even technical difficulties could dampen our excitement about this ride. I cannot say enough about this outstanding ride.

Afterwards, it's onto one of the other lands which we haven't explored - The Lost Continent. While waiting in line for Dueling Dragons, (by the way, the line moved quickly - I think it took all of 20-25 minutes to get on this ride) I chat with a man and his daughter and ask if I may ride with them. I had overheard people in line saying they liked Ice better, so we decide to try Ice. Evan takes the chicken exit. I thought this ride was awesome! Very smooth and it didn't give me that anxious feeling I get in the pit of my stomach on coasters (yet, I still love 'em). After we get off, our new friends ask if I want to try Fire and of course I'd like to! We almost have Evan convinced to try it, but again, he takes the chicken exit. After having tried both Fire and Ice, I'd have to say that I think I like Ice better but can't really explain why - I guess the excitement of the first time ride did it for me. By this time, we're both very hot and in need of something refreshing, so we stop for an Icee. We start to walk into Poseidon's Fury, but decide against it at the last second and walk out. As I make a call for a pick-up time with Mears, Evan eyes a man stamping coins. He convinces me to buy him one (oh - you don't really think I needed a lot of convincing, do you?). While waiting for our 3:30 pick-up time to roll around, we venture into Seuss Landing. One word to describe this land: Bright! Our first stop - the Caro-Seuss-el. This is a Carousel with a twist - what fun to ride around on the brightly colored little creatures from the Dr. Seuss books! Next up, Cat in the Hat. Here we ride on sofas through the Cat in the Hat story. I really liked this ride and we went for a second one right away. After snapping a few pictures, and with not enough time left to get into line for any other rides, we decide to begin the long trek back to our (hopefully waiting) bus.

I apologize to Evan profusely on our way out, because I really thought this day was not what we had expected. I thought he would enjoy all of the water rides and we didn't ride them. Beyond that, many of the rides were thrill rides and thus, Evan didn't get to ride as many things as I did. He was a champ though and said he'd done enough for one day and that he had fun. I felt that for us, maybe our money would've been better spent at Universal Studios Escape where I think he would've ridden more rides and we could've gotten a peek at the new Men in Black: Alien Attack. A lesson learned, we will probably try Escape on our next trip. As I had hoped, our bus is waiting and we hop on and doze off. I awake while we are driving through Caribbean Beach and am afraid we may have missed the All Stars - thankfully, we hadn't.

We arrive in our room around 4:20 and leave for Downtown Disney at 5:15. We shopped, and we shopped and we shopped. I can't even remember all of the names of the places we were in, but I know that we stopped at the Christmas store and World of Disney. I'd like to think that we did the bulk of our shopping here, but if I dare look at my receipts, I'll probably find out that we shopped a lot everywhere we went. We had originally planned to have dinner at Beaches & Cream, but both were too tired to keep going. Back at the resort, it's pizza and breadsticks in our room (not that they were all that appetizing the first time around, but nothing else even came close to tempting our taste buds). We swim for an hour or so, begin the task of packing up and are in bed around midnight.

Day 7, Friday, May 26, 2000 "The Parasol"

Today we plan to meet with the Mitchells, the family from New Mexico who we met on the plane. We wake (thanks to Mickey) at 7:30. After breakfast in the food court (a muffin for Evan, a lemon pastry for me), we're on our way to meet Pete, Karen, and Morgan at Test Track by 10:00. We make our way to the busses by way of the gift shop. Interestingly enough, it appears there is a bunch of new merchandise which has been put out overnight. Evan makes his way to a wall which has showcased Sorcerer Mickey items. From the gasp I hear out of him, I know that he has found the one item he has searched for all week: a Sorcerer Mickey plush! He his excited beyond belief and I happily guide him to the cash register with the understanding that he is responsible for carting around Mickey all day as we do not have time to go back to our room (we're already running late). No problem. With an ecstatic child in tow, we head to the bus and are ready for a day (our final full day) of fun.

By the time we reach Epcot and make it to Test Track, it's roughly 10:15. We search for the Mitchells without success and are briefly afraid that we have missed them. After a few minutes of mild panicking, we find the Mitchells (or rather, they found us) and we grab Fast Passes. Our return time is between 12:30 - 1:30 and we decide to hop in the stand-by line which has a 20 minute wait. The wait goes by quickly as we share stories of our Disney experiences during the week. The kids are happy as they are finally getting to spend time together - something each had been asking for all week. :-) We all enjoy Test Track. After looking at our picture, (which I would have loved to have bought, except the kids faces are blocked by the top of the windshield), we head towards the showroom and spot the crash-test dummies. The first one we see is standing so still that you cannot tell there's someone inside of the suit - this having been the first time the Mitchells have ridden, they are unaware that the crash test dummy is not just part of the showroom. After a minute of the kids poking and prodding the crash test dummy, he (she?) "retaliates" by jumping at them and scaring the heck out of them in the process. Morgan screams and they both burst into laughter. This was so much fun that we wait for the next victims, a group of teenagers. The dummy manages to remain still for several minutes before scaring the be-jeebers out of them - quite a sight. The second crash test dummy that we see never moved for us, but I think it got the group of teenagers as we heard screams while we were trying the new vehicles on for size.

In the gift shop, Pete debates over a crash test dummy Goofy and Morgan spies a bike plate with her name on it. Evan surprises her and buys it for her. We then wander around until we happen upon the Wonders of Life pavilion. Once inside, we walk right into Body Wars (and we all survive, even Karen, who has the occasional bout with motion sickness). Do they ever get the splinter out? It all happened so fast, we weren't sure. After a brief try on some of the exhibits, we prepare ourselves (mentally) for The Making of Me. Pete is a little hesitant, but Karen says "the questions are coming anyway, might as well get this out of the way". I'm relieved at the end, when they announce that "questions should be directed to the person sitting next to you" and both the kids are sitting between Pete and Karen! :-) After more exhibits, we discover that the next Cranium Command show begins in a few minutes. Evan thinks this is not such a good idea - after all, he doesn't want Morgan to see what may be inside of a 12-year old boy's head. I thought this was a well-done show and it provided me with a little insight as to what may be in store for us in the coming year.

We return to Test Track for our Fast Pass time and discover that it has been down for about an hour and expected to come up "at any minute". While discussing this with Linda (the CM friend who we met earlier in the week), we decide to get a stamp on our FP's (to come back anytime throughout the day). At this moment, the ride opens and the mob in the Fast Pass line comes through. So ... we hop in the singles line. Within minutes, we're on the ride (Evan and Morgan got to ride in the same car, as did Pete and Karen). This time in the gift shop, Morgan surprises Evan with a Test Track magnet which she has bought for him.

We are in need of some adult beverages (for Pete, Karen and I, of course) and we begin our trek through World Showcase with the first stop in Mexico. We take a peak in the Marketplace (where we decide we could get many of the items for half the prices here with just a quick run across the border back home) and decide to ride El Rio del Tiempo. This was a nice little ride, very relaxing, and a reprieve from the heat. We think we'd like to have some Mexican food (after a week of burgers and chicken), but the prices here are enough to tell us we can wait till we're home. We stop outside for Margaritas and drinks for the kids and discuss plans to visit each other over the summer. The kids, who are sitting at a nearby table, come over to share a story with us and when they return to their table (all of 2 feet away from us and a mere 5 minutes later), discover that their drinks have been cleared. A shining example of Disney service - just a little too soon. The kids' drinks are replaced, we are done with our margaritas, and are on our way to Norway.

The line for Maelstrom is extended out into the bright sunshine and Pete obligingly stands in line while we look in the shop. By the time we are done exploring and go to relieve Pete, he is about to enter the building. The line moves quickly and before we know it, we're on our "Viking ship" and on our voyage. The kids seem to like this ride, especially the backwards part. After the ride, we wonder why everyone is being "held" and not allowed to go out - we soon find out (I had forgotten) that we are invited to watch the movie or exit - we choose to exit.

Next stop, China. We watch the Pu Yang acrobats (amazing! the kids are impressed with the young ones) and decide to continue our search for food elsewhere. We stop in Germany at the kidcot station while waiting for Snow White and the Dwarves to grace us with their presence. When they do, the kids enjoy meeting all of the Dwarves and Evan really likes seeing Snow White again. By this time, we are all feeling the effects of the heat in combination with those adult beverages and decide that food is no longer an option, it's a must. We stop at the Liberty Inn and order up a burger (for Evan) and a grilled chicken sandwich (for me). This was the best grilled chicken sandwich I had all week (I really think it was the bacon, more than the fact that I was famished). When we exit, the British Invasion is playing and they were great! The kids danced (have an adorable picture!) and we just hung around for a while so we could hear some great tunes. Morgan is in search of a Piglet pin and stops to check the nearby pin cart. No Piglet, but Evan spies an Eeyore pin that he decides Morgan must have. (sweet boy of mine). We stop for Kaki Goris in Japan (plain ice for Evan, cherry/tangerine for me). I should have remembered about the posts discussing the disgusting taste of Orlando's water, but didn't think about it until Evan complained about the taste of the ice. We all make an effort to pour our excess juice onto Evan's shaved ice and make a mess in the process. oh well. What we did taste, was very good. It's on to Morocco where we wait for the Genie and Aladdin to make an appearance and instead, we see Princess Jasmine.

Next stop, France. Pete, Karen & Morgan check on the possibility of having a parasol hand-painted for Morgan and Evan and I wait for characters to arrive. More firsts for us as we were able to meet Phoebus (what a cutie!) and then Belle. Belle was very talkative, telling Evan that it was sweet that he was getting autographs for his cousins, asking where we were from. I wished we would've been around for story time.

We decide we're ready to head to the MK, but before we go, we have one more ride to take on Test Track (using our FP's from earlier in the day). By this time, Linda has gone (didn't get a chance to say good-bye), but we enjoyed our ride just the same. We go to the MK by way of the monorail. First stop: Liberty Square where we stop to order Morgan's parasol. We go for one more ride on the Haunted Mansion where the fun was all but ruined by some teenagers who were screaming uncontrollably (not because they were truly scared, I'm sure). Nonetheless, we made the best of it, picked up our hitchhiker (don't tell my mom!) and snapped some pics in front of the horseless hearse. We head to Frontierland for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain. This time, we convince Evan that he'll survive (yes, he rode it during our last trip, but seems to have forgotten that he got off of it safely) and he finds that he loves this ride. Afterwards, we see that the wait time for Splash Mountain is posted at 30 minutes and we decide we would wait. As we get in line, we determine that the line looks a lot longer than 30 minutes, doesn't seem to be moving quickly, and we should go elsewhere. So ... it's back to Big Thunder, much to Evan's delight.

Afterwards, we head to the candy store to find a seat for MSEP. Pete decides he'll run to pick up Morgan's parasol now rather than getting caught in the masses as we make our way to the exit. As the crowd increases in size, we hear cheering coming from the direction of the hub and hope that Pete makes it back in time for MSEP. To our surprise, what the crowd is cheering is Pete - dancing along the parade route, Morgan's parasol in his hand. We laugh and cheer for this 6'7" man twirling a little girl's parasol as if he's the drum major of the high school band which has just passed. Our last Disney experience is watching this incredible parade once again with our new friends. As the crowd gathers for Fantasy in the Sky, we make our way to the exit. Stopping in the plaza, we snap some pictures of the Mitchells, watch Tink fly from the castle and take our final glance at the castle. We say our good-byes to Pete, Karen, and Morgan, promising to e-mail each other and make our way to the busses. With tears in our eyes, we watch part of the fireworks and try to comfort each other with the promise that we'll be back. Our magical adventure is all but over. Rather than swimming, we decide to head to bed after last-minute packing. With heavy hearts, we fall asleep, pick-up tomorrow will come all too soon.

Day 8, Saturday, May 27, 2000 "The End"

Mickey called us for one last time at 5:30. We get ready, eat breakfast in our room, take one last glance and walk thru Andy's room for the (seemingly) long (death-like-march) walk to the lobby. We had seen people making this same trek during the week and I had always felt sorry for them - the look on their faces were that of contentment, but sadness all the same and now we had that same look on our faces. While Evan sat in the lobby, I ran to the food court for a refill on our mugs and to pick up some Mickey-shaped rice krispie treats to help comfort us at home. Carlos was scheduled to pick us up at 7:00 a.m. and when he didn't arrive by 7:10, I attempted to phone Tiffany Town Car - naturally, no one is in the office at 7:10 on a Saturday morning. When I return to the lobby, a town car (which I'm hoping is from Tiffany) has just pulled up and the driver, which is not Carlos, is getting out of the car. I ask if he's from Tiffany - yes - and whether he's there to pick us up - yes. He apologizes for the delay, asks if Carlos had shown up (well, duh! No - otherwise, we wouldn't be standing here.) and then mutters almost under his breath, that he was afraid this was going to happen. I ask if Carlos has a reputation for doing this sort of thing and he quickly attempts to absolve Carlos of all wrong-doing by saying "no - I'm just here as a back-up". After several attempts of trying to find out just what had happened, the driver (whose name I can't recall) is very vague, makes a few phone calls to let someone know that Carlos had not picked us up, and finally says something to the effect of Carlos having gotten the day/time mixed up for our departure. We arrive at MCO safely, wait in our last line for check-in and solemnly make the trek to the gate.

During the flight home, we sat with a family who had a four-year old first-time flyer with them, so it made for a fun flight. Other than that, it was uneventful. Evan had a couple of pictures left in his camera and I managed to snap the perfect pic of him in the car on the way home (no, I was not driving) - he's fast asleep with Sorcerer Mickey clutched tightly in his arms. (And yes, he was surprised when we got the pictures back.) It'll make a great ending for the scrapbook.

OUR FINAL THOUGHTS

Out with the old, In with the new

During our first day, I had a brief moment of insanity when I begin to feel as if we'd come back too soon (almost 2 years since the previous trip). That thought quickly vanished from my mind with all of the new things we did:

New rides - Rock n Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Winnie the Pooh, Astro Orbiter (Evan), Buzz Lightyear, Goofy's Barnstormer, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, El Rio del Tiempo, Maelstrom, Kali River Rapids, everything at Islands of Adventure
New shows/parades - MSEP (Evan), Tapestry of Nations, Illuminations, Fantasmic, Electrical Water Pageant
New restaurants/food - Whispering Canyon, Le Cellier, 'Ohana's, premium Mickey bars, Mickey rice krispie treats (yes, I'm convinced they do taste differently than the ones you can whip up at home), Kaki Goris
New characters - Terk, Brer Fox, Phoebus, Belle, Jessie, Pinocchio, Gepetto, Gideon, the crash test dummies
New experiences - horseback riding, riding the water mouse, touring the parks with others, Ice Station Cool, water parks (River Country and Typhoon Lagoon), I'm sure I'm leaving out a lot of other things
Evan's Magical Moments:

Big Thunder Mountain - Evan's learning to conquer his fear of rollercoasters. Shortly after we returned, we visited the local Six Flags and he found a coaster there which he just loves. I'm hoping that by the time we return to WDW, he'll try RnRC with me.
MSEP (not bad, for some "old" parade, huh? :-) )
Fantasmic - huge Sorcerer Mickey fan!
All Star Movies - this made his list - he was that impressed with it!
Star Tours - this was one of his favorites from our last trip - I'm not surprised he's still crazy about it.
Typhoon Lagoon - gotta love that wave pool. I'm convinced Evan could spend all day in there (and practically did).
Spiderman at Islands of Adventure - he thought this was totally awesome.
Cat in the Hat at Islands of Adventure - a new twist on reading the book.
Test Track - quick! How many times can someone ride Test Track in one day?
Horseback riding
Finding the Sorcerer Mickey plush! I probably could've saved a whole bunch of money by picking up the plush from the local Disney store and taking him horseback riding here - but no! I drop a nice chunk of change and travel all the way to WDW to make him happy. <VBG>
Sharon's Magical Moments:

Thrill rides - Rock n Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Dueling Dragons (at Islands of Adventure), and Spiderman at Islands of Adventure (okay, it's a stretch to call this a thrill ride, but I thought it was incredible).
Watching the same parade with my son that I saw with my parents when I visited the MK as a child (MSEP).
Without a doubt, Tapestry of Nations. I absolutely loved this parade. In fact, if anyone has a tape of it, I'd love to get a copy. I'm using the Millennium CD to help ease me out of my depression. I get goose bumps each time I hear the ToN music.
Watching Pete dance down the street in Frontierland before MSEP (with Morgan's parasol in hand).
Character interaction - we had a great time with the characters in the Toontown Hall of Fame just before park closing (Evan dancing with Pluto, being tickled to bits by Tigger, Donald Duck insisting that the M-I-C-K-E-Y song be changed to D-O-N-A-L-D- D-U-C-K- #-1). And Pluto answering to Evan's commands on E-ride night.
Walking out our room each morning to see a three-story Buzz Lightyear staring at us.
Seeing the look on Evan's face when he found the Sorcerer Mickey plush.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

The Ugly (because I want to end on a *Good* (note):
Carlos from Tiffany Town Car. I was disappointed when he picked us up, what with asking us to get our own bags and take them downstairs, then claiming the $10 charge for a grocery stop (which, as I understand it, is actually complimentary) and then the confusion over our departure. Will I use Tiffany again? Definitely! I simply will ask for a driver other than Carlos.
The Bad:
Not eating more sit down meals. I was so burnt out on chicken and burgers by the time we got home, I'm determined to make sure we have at least one sit down meal each day during our next trip.
Missing out on some of the shows which I hear are fantastic (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast, I know there's more).
I wish we would've spent more time at the Magic Kingdom. I felt like we missed out on a lot of the old favorites (Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Speedway).
Coming home. Although ... there's no place like home. Dawson (our Pug) was sure happy to see us (Evan even brought along a picture of him to keep on our nightstand). So maybe this wasn't so bad after all.
Depression. No trip to WDW would be complete without it (after you arrive home, of course).
The Good:
We had a wonderful time!
We were happy that we were able to stay a whole week. We felt like we got to do a lot, see a lot. I have come to the conclusion that a vacation at WDW is not about relaxation - because you're always on the go. I don't feel like we did the commando thing this trip (not like last time, when we tried to cram so much into four days!), we just had full days.
Meeting new friends, the Mitchells (Pete, Karen & Morgan), the McKinleys (Jim, Lisa, Tara, JP & Serena), and the CM at Test Track (Linda). This was very special for both of us. Touring the parks with others is so much fun! And Linda added some magic to our trip - it was wonderful to walk thru the FP line at Test Track (which we did SO many times) and to see a special smile on her face for us. :-)
All Star Movies. We loved this resort. For a single parent on a budget, not only was it affordable, but it put us in the middle of the magic too. The room controller was able to satisfy our request and we were very happy with our room location. Evan claimed that the bed was the best one he'd ever slept in.
Spending more time at Epcot this trip. During our previous trip, I wasn't too impressed with Epcot; I've come to realize that my impressions of Epcot were based more on the fact that we were exhausted by the time we got there and it was raining. I wouldn't rank it as my favorite park, but I am coming to appreciate what it has to offer. Next trip - tentatively scheduled for October 2001 - WOO HOO! Gee - that means our countdown would be .... :-)
I hope you enjoyed our report. And I hope I was able to spread some of the magic through this. Thanks for reading.

Sharon