PDA

View Full Version : Sue Holland -- November 2006 - Old Key West Resort



Trip Reports
02-21-2007, 09:58 PM
WDW — November 2006 (OKWR) by Sue Holland

Sue spends a week on her own at Walt Disney World for Thanksgiving.



Sue Holland -- November 2006 - WDW (OKWR)

Who/When/Where:

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Dates: November 22 - 29, 2006

Travel Method: Personal car

Resort: Disney’s Old Key West Resort

INTRODUCTION:

After taking mostly short (4-5 night) trips to WDW during 2006, November is my chance to spend more time here. SB and I spent 9 nights at Beach Club Villas earlier this month, and now I’m heading back solo for 7 nights at Old Key West while he is out of town. I’m sure many people who are part of a couple will understand that no matter how much you love the other person and enjoy being at WDW with them – solo trips are great in a different (more self-indulgent) way. This trip is my opportunity to do as much walking/wandering as I want, to lay by the pool for hours (if weather permits), and browse through as many shops as I want. However, as the trip got closer I was really wishing he was going to be here with me again. I guess we always want what we don’t have <g>.

My friends Tom & Leanne will be here with their adult daughter & teen grandson for the holiday weekend, so I’ll join them for lunch on Thanksgiving and spend some time with them in the parks. I think they arrive Thursday and depart on Sunday. They booked lunch at 50’s Prime Time Café, which I’ve eaten at twice in the last 2 months (the first time they were there also), but I’m going again for their company. I don’t plan to eat turkey, as for me that’s something to be cooked and enjoyed at home. In a restaurant I’d much rather stick to what I like best at that particular place. I booked LeCellier, not realizing SB & I would eat there together earlier this month, but I’m looking forward to another visit. It’s been a while (over a year) since I ate at Concourse Steakhouse at the Contemporary, so I booked a lunch there. Other than that, meals will be left to a last-minute decision, since there isn’t anywhere else I really “have to” hit this trip. I’m happy with a soft pretzel and glass of wine anyway, and on a solo trip I can do that more easily! At the last minute I decided to pack some cheese, crackers, and a bottle of wine in case I was not really hungry while out at dinnertime (or couldn’t decide on what to eat). This way I have something “easy” in the studio.

As for the parks, I mainly want to hit my favorite attractions in each park, and see the holiday décor. The Osborne Lights are set to music this year, so I’ll want to check that out. I love the Lights of Winter display in Epcot, and will spend several evenings wandering around there. I toyed with the idea of doing the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in order to see the snow and the parade, but never really felt strongly enough to make the call and purchase the ticket. Fear of it being crowded certainly came into play, and I never spend that many hours in the MK so it didn’t seem to make sense to pay for the party. If we’re both back at this time next year, we may do it then.

Hopefully the weather will be warm enough during the day to relax by the pool, but this time of year it’s always somewhat risky. Since I live in Florida, I’m not interested in being out by the pool when it’s only 70 degrees (or colder)! I’ll also make one trip over to Premium Outlets, and will do that very early on the day after Thanksgiving (they open at 7am) so it doesn’t really cut into my morning park time. I’m mainly interested in the Character Premiere, but I may browse a few other stores if I’m in the mood or have a specific gift in mind.

The plans so far are:

Wednesday 11/22: Work, Drive to OKW, Osborne Lights

Thursday 11/2: AK, 50’s Prime Time Cafe

Friday 11/3: Outlets, Epcot, LeCellier, Comedy Warehouse

Saturday 11/4: MK, Epcot

Sunday 11/5: Epcot, OKW Pool, Epcot

Monday 11/6: MK, Concourse Steakhouse, Epcot

Tuesday 11/7: Epcot, OKW Pool, Comedy Warehouse

Wednesday 11/8: AK, Drive home

DAY 1 – Wednesday 11/22/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Plan: Work, Drive to OKW, Osborne Lights

Actual: It was a short work day, since I’d scheduled a dental appointment for 12:30 again. I finished up there and was on the road to WDW by 1:20! Other than the extra holiday traffic creating some snarls (worst was 4 miles in Sarasota) along the highway in construction areas, the drive was not bad. It took 20 minutes or so longer than it should have, but on the day before Thanksgiving I guess it could have been much worse! I had toyed with the idea of coming up tomorrow morning, knowing I would have breezed right through with no traffic, but I didn’t want to be “homeless” until possibly 4pm. SB called several times, and a couple of those calls came while I was in traffic so he wanted to make sure I got here ok. Where he is right now the weather was awful today, so he kept thinking I was driving in those conditions as well <g>.

Check in went quickly. There were only 2 cast members working but there really wasn’t a wait when I got there (3-4 parties were waiting when I left). I was asked what floor I wanted to be on, and which building I liked. I said “upstairs”, and the cast member mentioned buildings 18, 35 and 53. Both 18 and 35 are those funky “u”-shaped buildings, which have inside corner studios with no window – however, I knew the rooms available were studios at the end (which do have windows). I selected building 53, since the pool is right across the street and the bus stop is right next door. Neither 18 nor 35 were as convenient as 53. I drove over and moved into the studio, happy to see my studio was at the end away from the bus stop, so there’s no bus noise. I don’t have a water view, but that doesn’t matter (my view is the golf course). I checked in the store for the 2007 WDW wall calendar, but did not see any. I figure I’ll check World of Disney some morning if I don’t find it elsewhere.

I unpacked, caught some of the local news, and decided where I wanted to go. It was getting chilly (to me) pretty fast as it was getting darker, so I knew to dress warmly. My neighbors came home while I was there – unfortunately they are very loud, and since it’s a 1br I know there’s at least 2 different loud kids in there and probably both parents. I’ll just have to keep my tv louder than I like to drown them out.

About 5:30 I went to the bus stop and caught the bus to MGM Studios to check out the Osborne Lights. This park is open until 8pm tonight, and although I’m sure I’ll be back to see the lights again I figured it would be good to start the trip this way. The wait for the bus was around 5-10 minutes, which wasn’t too bad. I was listening to people talking about how mobbed the parks have been all week, and how early fastpasses for the most popular attractions were gone for the day (late morning). Once this weekend is over though, it should be pretty nice around here!

Entering MGM Studios was a breeze, with no wait at the security table or the turnstiles. By now it was after 6pm so I knew the Osborne Lights would already be lit. I headed back that way, and found the street filled (shoulder to shoulder) with people looking at the lights but not moving. The music was playing and the lights were synchronized, and people were just standing there. I was frustrated at first, thinking the music/lights was continuous and there was no way to walk the street with this mob in the way. However, once the music ended people started to move, and there was enough time for everyone there to clear out before the next time the music started. As always, the lights are gorgeous. I’m not sure the music and synchronization really mattered to me – I prefer seeing the lights all lit and being able to walk up and down the streets looking at everything rather than watching lights turn off and on. However, I may in the minority with that opinion!

I left the area after seeing the music/lights for the second time. I wandered back and forth a bit, undecided over what to do next. I wasn’t in the mood for any attractions, but was getting hungry. Unfortunately, the eating places were either closed or closing in about 10 minutes. I finally decided to try Puck’s Express at the Marketplace. I browsed through the shops on Hollywood Boulevard, but once again saw no sign of the 2007 calendar. It was so busy I didn’t wait to ask a cast member if they had it.

I exited the park and waited for the bus to Saratoga Springs. That bus took forever to arrive, and when it did – it was packed! None of the other arriving buses were standing room only, so I’m not sure what was going on with Saratoga. At the resort I got off at the Congress Park bus stop and walked the path over to the Marketplace in Downtown Disney. I decided to cut through the Christmas store, but realized that was a mistake when I saw how crowded it was in there! I finally exited out a side door, and was happy to escape. Normally I like that store a lot, but not tonight! At Puck’s they were very busy, as expected. The line was snaked around inside and reached the door – soon it extended well outside the door (after I got in line, or I would not have waited). They had people working at all 3 registers, and were doing the best they could.

I ordered the tortilla soup, and got a 10% discount for being a dvc member. To my surprise I found a table outside and soon an employee brought me my soup. It hit the spot on such a chilly night, and it’s been a long while since I ate here. It was as good as I remembered, and was a good choice for tonight despite the time it took to get here. Once I finished the soup I headed back to the bus stop to wait for the OKW bus. After a stop at Pleasure Island it went back to the resort and I returned to the studio.

I finished up the report, talked to SB, and just relaxed a while before watching today’s episode of General Hospital on SoapNet. I also downloaded the photos taken at Osborne Lights, and I’ll probably set up an album with shots of the holiday stuff here at the parks and resorts.

Today was a good start to the trip. The drive wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and I love my studio (except for the noisy neighbors). I miss SB, but I also realize there’s no way he would have wanted to do all the walking (sometimes aimlessly) I did tonight, or fighting the crowds in the few stores I tried. Depending on the expected morning temperatures, I may head to Animal Kingdom for a short visit before meeting Tom & Leanne’s family at 50’s Prime Time Café for lunch. We’ll see just how bad the crowds are tomorrow!

DAY 2 – Thursday 11/23/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Tom & Leanne, DVC members

Kim & Chris, T&L’s adult daughter and her teenage son

Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular

Plan: AK, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Comedy Whse?

Actual: I’d set the alarm for 7, but woke up shortly before that. It looks like a beautiful sunny day, although it was still in the upper 40’s this early. I decided to venture out regardless, as it was supposed to be up to 63 by 11am and eventually get up to 70 by afternoon. I made cappuccino using a spoon I had in my suitcase from a previous trip – housekeeping left only forks in this studio! For breakfast I decided on some yogurt, figuring that was more nutritious than biscotti since today was my longest wait for lunch.

I talked to SB for a while, and headed out to the bus stop around 8:40. I figured I wanted to be at Animal Kingdom right as it opened, but didn’t really want to stand around in the cold waiting for it to open! I also have some shopping I need to do this trip. I want a 2007 calendar, and I need to replace my Disney gloves since they never shrunk back to my size after SB wore them (even after washing & drying). I’ve got several people at work I need to get Christmas gifts for, and will keep my eyes open for those opportunities. So, if the attractions are too bad I guess I can shop – something I don’t do when I’m with SB!

The AK bus was the last to arrive, but it was only about a 5-minute wait. We got to the park around 9:10 or 9:15. Entry was surprisingly easy, thanks to them having both sides of security and all of the turnstiles open. Once inside I figured I’d ride Primeval Whirl a few times, followed by Dinosaur, then I’d get a fastpass for the Safari and spend the waiting time on the Pangani Trail. So much for plans <g>. At Primeval Whirl the line was already long – it pretty much filled in the entire first lane of the queue. There’s no way I was going to waste that much morning time there, so I walked back to Harambe and got my fastpass for the Safari. The return time was 10:25, and I had to stand in line just to get the silly fastpass. The standby line was already completely filled in, and I knew the park was going to be too crowded for my taste today.

I walked back to Dinoland and figured I’d ride Dinosaur but when I saw the line was snaked around outside the building I gave up on that idea as well! Instead, I found a sunny bench and sat down for a while. I had Steve Russo’s excellent trip report with me, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first few days of that. I called my Dad and chatted with him the rest of the time, including while walking back for my safari. Along the way I picked up a few spoons and a knife for the studio!

The Safari was still mobbed, but with fastpass it wasn’t bad. Many animals were out, including 3 of the cheetahs pacing at a much closer distance than normal. The male lion was in perfect view as well, and since it was cooler some of the hippos were resting outside of the water for a change. Overall it was a great safari. Once it ended I worked my way back out of the park, noticing the crowds entering were much larger than when I came in earlier. The new Nemo show is running this week, but I’m undecided on whether I want to see it or save it for a future trip to see it with SB for the first time.

I was headed to Animal Kingdom Lodge next, and the resort bus was waiting at the bus stop! I wandered around a bit, watched the zebras out on one of the savannahs, and browsed in the shop (no calendar here). About 11:30 I caught the bus over to MGM Studios, with only a few minutes’ wait. The Studios was very crowded inside, but the security area and turnstiles were not busy at all.

I checked the tip board and saw the next Beauty & the Beast show was beginning in 10 minutes, so I headed over there. It’s been years since I’ve seen this show, and always liked it. Four for a Dollar were near the end of their pre-show, and they’re always excellent as well. B & B was just as I remembered it, and it was nice seeing it again. After exiting the theater I called my son to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving, then sat on a sunny bench across from 50’s Prime Time Café. Before I had time to resume the Russo trip report, I saw Tom & Leanne enter the restaurant so I went to join them. We sat in the living room area, and soon Kim & Chris joined us. Our ADR was for 1:05 and we were called about 10 minutes or so after that. We had a bit of a delay when the hostess decided her time was better spent chatting with someone she knows rather than seating us, but finally she showed us to her table.

We had a terrific waitress (Auntie), and the other server in the room was the guy SB & I had last time – they’re both really good, and very much into the joking around stuff. Besides the regular menu, today they had a full turkey dinner with dessert for $19.99. For Disney, that’s not bad. Leanne and Chris both ordered that – white meat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn (they subbed that for the green beans) & cranberry sauce. Tom had the fried chicken, Kim had the pot roast, and I stuck with the fried herb cheese and a glass of sauvignon blanc. It was a very pleasant but also fun meal, and I was glad I was able to join them for lunch today. SB called at one point, and the waitress yelled at me to get off the phone, calling me “Gabby”, lol. We all got dessert – Kim & I shared the brownie sundae, Chris got his own sundae, Leanne had the pumpkin torte, and Tom had apple cobbler with TWO scoops of ice cream. It was a very good meal and everyone left satisfied!

Back outside we realized there was just 15 minutes to go before the 3pm Hollywood Holly Days Parade, so we stopped along the curb to watch that. I’ve never seen the regular parade, but I’m assuming this was the same thing except decorated/dressed up for the holidays. It was cute, and I took pictures of several of the cars. After the parade I decided to head back to OKW to relax a bit and spend time with SB online. They had fastpasses and were staying in the Studios for a while yet. Leanne & I are heading to the outlets tomorrow morning, so we agreed upon a time for me to pick her up (really early, lol).

The bus to OKW came while I was reading more of the Russo trip report, and the driver was a very cheerful guy. The day had turned out to be just beautiful – not cold at all, with lots of sunshine. I went back to the studio to update the report and download today’s photos while I had some quiet time.

About 6:30 I left to drive over to Downtown Disney and find a parking spot by Pleasure Island. It was busy in the parking lot, but I found a space within a reasonable period of time. It was just before 7, so I browsed in the Harley Davidson shop before going back to get my wristband at Adventurer’s Club. From there I wandered around inside the Virgin Megastore on the West Side. It’s been a while since I’ve been in there, and I did spot potential gifts for a couple of my staff. I decided to wait until after my trip to the outlets, knowing I’ll be back here tomorrow night and again Tuesday night.

As I walked back to Pleasure Island Leesa called, and I met up with her by the bridge. She got her wristband and we ran into regulars David, Bob & Virginia, and Maureen & her daughter. It felt like a Friday night!

Carol Stein was on the keys tonight. The 7:45 cast was Matt, John, Philip, Brian and Mark. They used audience volunteers to do Fill in the Blank. John & Philip were 2 kids in John’s basement, where John’s brother kills people who touch his Playstation 3. Matt came in as the evil brother Damien <g>. They also did Schmeopardy, hosted by John. Brian was Dr. Brad, a gastroenterologist (Brad was the name of the teen interviewed on the phone at the start of the show, and Brian incorporated a lot of his info into the character). Mark was M Slope, an algebra teacher in Florida public schools (Every child left behind). Matt was Jake Secular, a paper maker. Overall it was a good first show.

The 8:50 cast was Lisa, John, Philip, Brian & Mark. They opened with a poem called “There’s cheese in a chimichanga”. Next was a scene about weakness started by Brian and Philip. At times another actor would replace one of them & assume the exact physical position but begin a new scene. It was very good, but at times was a little risqué. When Brian came out to set up the next structure he reminded the audience when they wrote their letters to please remember he was not in that last scene, lol!

They did Madrigal, directed by Lisa. The 4 tabloid headlines were “Michael Jackson and Kevin Federline get married”, “Elvis is sighted at Disneyland”, “John Kerry is bankrupt” and “Angelina Jolie gains 100 pounds”. It was a tough madrigal – they really didn’t have much beyond a bunch of celebrity names so it seemed to struggle. Next was Styles, which was much better. Mark & Lisa were a divorced couple at a bowling alley, and the scene kept evolving through different styles of music, movies, plays, and tv. The closing song was about a woman who found out her husband was also married to someone else – strange story. He was named David, and in the Navy. Now she’s dating a guy named David who’s in the Disney navy (watercraft driver at Magic Kingdom). The bigamist husband went to jail for 2 years, and she’s now friends with the other wife. I hope my life is never that interesting!

I left after this show, and found NO parking spaces in the lot shared by the 4 buildings in my area. There was absolutely nothing! I ended up driving across the street and parked by building 48. Once back in the studio I finished up the report, talked to SB a while, and tried to unwind – suddenly I wasn’t tired at all even though I wanted to get to sleep early.

Today was a nice day – the weather turned out great, and I enjoyed spending part of the day with friends & seeing some Comedy Warehouse with Leesa. The big crowds are not a good thing, but I guess they’re to be expected. Luckily I can pretty much avoid them since my stay extends beyond Sunday. Tomorrow I’m picking Leanne up at Caribbean Beach at the ungodly hour of 6:45am to go to the Premium Outlets. I’ll have to give myself a few extra minutes to get to my car <g>.

DAY 3 – Friday 11/24/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular

Plan: Outlets, Epcot, LeCellier, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I woke up just before the alarm, and got up shortly after 5:30. It didn’t take long to get ready since I didn’t get online at all. Around 6:30 I left for the hike to my car, then drove over to Caribbean Beach Resort to pick up Leanne. We arrived at Premium Outlets about 5-10 minutes before 7, and were shocked at how full the parking lot was! Once we got over to the Character Premiere store we saw that most of the other stores must have opened at 6 and there were lots of people carrying bags full of stuff. We went over to look in the Gourmet Chef store, then went back to Character Premiere shortly after 7.

The cast members were pushing their $4.99 sweatshirts, but they were really crappy looking. They were screen printed and the ink had missing sections on them all. Oh well, you can’t expect much for $4.99 but neither of us bought any. We browsed around and each bought a bunch of stuff, then I returned to Gourmet Chef while she went to Dress Barn. I ended up with a couple of things for SB plus gifts for 6 of my staff. Leanne did really well, too. We were back on WDW property by 8:30, which wasn’t bad at all.

I got online briefly, and SB came on before I left the studio. I didn’t want to deal with the crowds at Epcot’s main entrance, so I drove over to Beach Club Villas and parked there. I started in that resort and took some photos of the holiday decorations, then continued and did the same at Yacht Club. The Beach Club Villas tree was really pretty (favorite so far) and the Beach Club lobby had a really nice gingerbread (& perhaps chocolate) carousel. At the Yacht Club they had a pretty big village with a train running through it. The Dolphin had a huge tree in the center of their lobby but it wasn’t really that special. The size was the most impressive thing, but otherwise there wasn’t much to it. The Swan had a fairly small tree outside, and inside they had a train running through a gingerbread village. It was ok, but not as nice as the Disney displays.

I continued towards the Boardwalk, stopping on a sunny bench along the water to talk to SB for a while. He didn’t really understand why I am doing all this walking around, which is exactly why I’m doing it on a solo trip! The Boardwalk lobby was very pretty, as usual. They had some smaller trees and a big gingerbread & chocolate living room for Mickey & Minnie. The people making these displays are certainly talented!

With the Epcot resorts out of the way, I walked over to the International Gateway and entered Epcot around 10:30. There was pretty much no wait, and Epcot didn’t look busy at all until I got to Future World (duh – that was the only section open yet). Soarin’ had a 60 minute wait according to the tip board, but less than 2 hours later it was up to 120 minutes. I decided to just skip the land pavilion today rather than deal with the crowds. I did check out Spaceship Earth, but the line was much longer than I would consider, so instead I walked around a while and found a sunny bench to sit on while finishing up Steve Russo’s trip report (excellent – thank you, Steve) and began another one from a new trip report writer (Sherry’s Sept Contemporary trip) who also writes great reports. The time passed quickly, and right about 11am I got up and took a walk around World Showcase.

I didn’t really have time to stop anywhere, and there really wasn’t any reason to. I continued around until I came to Canada, and went to check in at LeCellier. They began seating after about 5 minutes, and mine was the first name called (others had checked in before I got there, but I guess we all had the same 11:30 time). I ordered a glass of wine and the cheese soup, and when the waiter asked if I wanted a single or double portion I went for the big bowl (double). I really should have stuck with the single, as this bowl was really too much for such a filling soup. I knew I wouldn’t be looking for dinner later, though! Everything was excellent – food, wine, service. The only negatives came from the people 2 tables away. When they were seated, I could tell the older man was a smoker, as he smelled like an ashtray even 2 tables away! It was disgusting, but eventually it faded away. The other was the woman who was probably his daughter (3-generation group). She was beautiful – looked like a princess. However, she talked really loudly and was one of those people who could not shut up if her life depended on it! So, between Mr. Stinky and Mrs. Outdoor Voice I was glad there was another table between us to serve as a buffer. In any event, they certainly didn’t diminish my lunch experience, and seemed like a really nice group of people – they just stood out because of the smell and volume issues.

After lunch I decided to walk around more since I was feeling so full. Plus, it was a gorgeous weather day and it was still early, but too cool to go lay by the pool (for me). I decided to get my Wilderness Lodge visit out of the way, so I left Epcot and went to the WL bus stop. As I approached some people were saying hello, and I didn’t recognize them so I assumed someone they know must be walking behind me or something. When they said “she doesn’t know who we are” I realized they WERE talking to me, so I said hi back before I finally realized it was the Ft Pierce family (Sue, Don or Dan, Kelly & Alan) I haven’t seen in many trips! I’ve thought of them so often, wondering what they were up to because we used to see each other almost every trip, and it’s probably been a couple of years since the last time. We had a long wait for the bus, and it worked out well because we had time to talk & catch up. The bus is shared by Wilderness Lodge and Ft Wilderness, and they were staying at the campground in their camper. I left them when I got off the bus at the Lodge, but they’ll be at Comedy Warehouse tonight.

Inside the Lodge is beautiful, but hard to photograph because it’s so dark. Any photo I take just doesn’t do it justice. I didn’t notice any gingerbread village anywhere – I remember they had one years ago, but there was no sign of it today. I stopped at Roaring Fork to buy a magic cookie bar for later. I’m stuffed now, but it’s a safe bet I’ll want something sweet later tonight. From there I went out to the boat dock and since the boat to the Contemporary came before the boat to the Magic Kingdom, I rode to the Contemporary. Their decorations were almost non-existent. The 4th floor Grand Concourse was pitiful – no tree, no holiday display, just some garland here and there. Downstairs in the lobby they had Gepetto and Pinocchio carved out of chocolate, so I guess that’s their holiday décor.

I walked back to the Magic Kingdom and took the standing room only bus back to Beach Club to retrieve my car. It was a lot of traveling but sometimes the travel IS the entertainment! Back at OKW I got online to update the report and chat with SB. I also worked on the photos taken today – it’s so much easier to keep up with that stuff rather than face a huge project all at one time later.

Shortly before 6 I realized I’d better get going. I normally hate taking the bus to Downtown Disney (mainly because I hate waiting for it when I leave Comedy Warehouse), but I hate coming home to find no parking spaces even more! So, I’m taking the bus tonight so I don’t have to deal with that (just watch – I’ll come back and find the parking lot half empty <g>). Once again every single other bus came before mine, but once again the wait was still only 5 minutes or so. My luck with the buses from OKW has been pretty good!

Since I had plenty of time I decided to get off at the Marketplace. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as crowded as I expected. It was busy, but not really any worse than any other weekend night. I stopped in Goofy’s Candy Co but didn’t buy anything – I just like to look at all the treats in there (like those big candy-covered apples that are too big for just me to eat). At Ghiradelli I went inside and got the caramel square sample. The line inside was huge – snaked around 2 sides of the store, so I left. I would have purchased a 2nd square so both Leesa & I would have one, but it wasn’t worth a long wait. Instead, I saved the sample and we shared it between Comedy Warehouse shows.

I went into World of Disney and was surprised to find it almost less crowded than usual. At the information desk I asked the cast member about the 2007 calendars and she pointed me in their direction – they had a big pile of them on a shelf! So, any sane person would have bought one then, but that’s not what I did. I didn’t want to carry it around (even though I knew I was doing other shopping and would be carrying bags around tonight) and decided to buy it when I return perhaps Sunday morning. If they’re out of stock again, I’ll have no one to blame but myself!

I walked back to Pleasure Island and went into the Harley Davidson store again to purchase a Christmas gift for another of my staff (a Harley owner). I asked if they gave a discount for dvc or annual passes, but they do not. They don’t even do room charges! So, if you come shopping here bring something other than your resort id (luckily I did have my Disney Rewards Visa Card – don’t leave home without it). It was still too early to get my wrist band, so I continued on to the West Side to the Virgin store. Since I’d scouted out some gift ideas last night, I rather quickly picked up the gift for my last staff person and then found a cd for SB and the Dilbert 2007 desk calendar for me. Today was a very successful shopping day!

I headed back to Pleasure Island and got my wrist band inside the Adventurer’s Club. I thought about rushing back to World of Disney to get the calendar out of the way, but I saw Leesa was sitting downstairs so I went down to join her instead. As I was sitting there, I saw a familiar man come in. Back in the late 90’s my boss was Bob, who left in 1999 to become the administrator of the Orlando area. We worked closely together, and thought very highly of each other – he even shared my grand villa (with his wife at the time) on my 40th birthday trip. Anyway, I walked up to where he was standing and we had a great little reunion until I had to leave for the Comedy Warehouse.

I got there with about 2 minutes to spare – Leesa was already at the door, along with Bob & Virginia, Maureen, and then we were joined by Carol Stein’s mother, husband & his cousin. Carol Stein was on the keys tonight (in case the presence of her mother didn’t give that one away, lol). We also saw the Ft Pierce family inside.

The 7:45 cast was Brian, John, Lisa, Christine and Krista. They did Styles, where the scene is performed in various styles of movies, tv, theater & music. Christine & Krista were working in a pet store, and Krista had let some of the fish die while Christine was on vacation (Krista is allergic to algae). They also did Schmeopardy, hosted by Chris. John was a sanitation worker named Bill Shepherd – that happens to be the name of the Entertainment Manager for the club. We all got a kick out of that, and the way John played the character (nothing like the real Bill). Brian was his nerdy character Warren, who was a Burger King worker. Lisa was Anastasia, an anesthesia specialist. It’s her job to bonk you on the head during surgery if you wake up, rather than spending the money on more anesthesia.

Overall it was a good show – Brian does a really good job as Warren, and it was funny to watch the gawky Warren being smitten with the lovely Anastasia. After the show we chatted with most of the cast at some point, then headed outside briefly.

The 8:50 cast was John, Brian, Matt, Lisa & Krista. They opened with a poem called “Show me the green”. Next was Fill in the Blank using a couple of audience volunteers. Matt & Brian were in a Sears strip club. The pole was by Kenmore, and the strippers were the finest Daytona Beach has to offer – a very frumpy Krista and Lisa. Matt chose Lisa (as Frances) for his lap dance, and agreed to register his Sears credit card to get the $29.95 in-home special. However, that turned out to be FrancIs rather than FrancEs, and Francis was John. Matt had to sit through a lap dance by John, lol.

They did Forgotten Songs, and the first one was a duet by Brian & John called “Do you deserve me?” They went up into the audience and sang it to a guy who was celebrating his birthday. Matt & Krista were a couple of hicks singing “Kentucky Woman”. Brian, Lisa & John were monks singing “Monkey Emotion”.

They also did Up Your Alley, hosted by Matt. The topic was women. Lisa was very funny as a really butch lesbian named Billy who likes just about all women and likes them best naked in her trailer. Krista was Mandy Simmons, the executive producer for the Jerry Springer show. John was outstanding as his Remedial Jim character, who has a website to give advice because he’s been on 652 first dates (never a 2nd date). It was another good show, but I was ready to head back after this one. I said my goodbyes and walked out to the Pleasure Island bus stop to wait for the OKW bus.

It finally came, just seconds after some other bus was blocking our stop to let off a passenger in a scooter. Why the bus didn’t let the person off at that hotel’s stop is beyond me! There were only perhaps a half dozen other people on the OKW bus when it arrived, and just 2 or 3 of us boarded at PI.

Back in the studio I spent some time online with SB – he was pretty tired, but won’t go to sleep until we say goodnight. We’ve been together since August 2004 and have not missed a single night.

I was a bit hungry, so I ate some crackers and cheese with some wine while I finished up the report and watched the news on tv. Today was a terrific day – especially running into so many friends I haven’t seen for a long time. It’s amazing that in a place as big as WDW that I can just run into friends accidentally so often!

Tomorrow is supposed to be another beautiful day. I decided to not set the alarm, so depending on what time I get up I’ll either head to Magic Kingdom briefly before touring the other 2 monorail resorts, or I’ll head to Earl of Sandwich for breakfast followed by picking up the calendar (& other browsing) at World of Disney. Whichever plan I do not do, I’ll do the following day.

DAY 4 – Saturday 11/25/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Plan: MK, Epcot

Actual: I woke up just before 7:30 and decided it would be a Magic Kingdom morning after all. If the crowds are truly unbearable I’ll either sit on a bench or just get the heck out of there. I had some cappuccino and biscotti for breakfast, and was out the door shortly after 8:30. The Magic Kingdom bus was the first to arrive, and to my surprise it was completely empty (except for the driver). At Old Turtle Pond the bus stop was mobbed, but not a single person was going to the MK. At Millers Road there was nobody at the stop at all, and at the Hospitality House there were a few people but nobody going to the MK. So, I had the bus to myself! I certainly never expected that at 8:30 am on Saturday of a major holiday weekend!

It was just about 9am when I arrived, and getting through security was really fast. At the turnstiles there were mostly long lines, but once again I saw a totally empty one and breezed right through. I swear, people pay NO attention to their surroundings. My first stop was Space Mountain, to pick up a fastpass for 10:15. The line to get my fastpass was as long as the lines at the turnstiles to enter the park, but that’s partly because cast members were still loading paper into 3 of the machines (hello…shouldn’t that be done before the park opens??). The line to ride was extended back pretty far, and the standby time was posted as 20 minutes so I did not attempt to ride at this time.

I walked into Fantasyland and walked right onto the Pooh ride – cute as always. I also walked right onto Peter Pan, then went across the way to Small World. Granted, riding this attraction during the early morning hours isn’t the most efficient use of my time, but it was right there and this way I didn’t have to come back. It was so uncrowded most boats only had a couple of rows filled, including mine – it was me and one other family.

Since the crowds were so light still, I decided on Pirates of the Caribbean and walked over there. However, the line was filled in almost back to the turnstile, so I turned around and left. It’s not a favorite attraction of mine, and definitely not worth the extra wait just for the couple of minor effects from the movie! Instead, I went over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and walked right onto that! It’s so bizarre to me that I walked onto so many attractions that typically have waits, yet found a big crowd at Pirates!

When I got off my train there weren’t even enough guests to fill it halfway up again, but I decided to move on rather than ride again. I headed back across the hub to take a photo of the Christmas tree, which is now located near the castle rather than at the beginning of Main Street. It was almost 10am by now, so I decided to skip Haunted Mansion today and just head on into Tomorrowland again. I could see that the lines were getting long – Buzz Lightyear was filled up inside and snaking around outside. I had also noticed many of the attractions had extra lengths of rope or chain queue areas set up outside – even Small World! I wouldn’t want to be here when that extra space was necessary.

I decided to ride the TTA and as I was going up the ramp SB called. I stood off to the side up top (out of the way) & tried to talk to him over the noise from the high school pep rally that had just begun on the stage down below. When we finished I let a few people who were coming up the ramp pass me, then got behind them and into a car. The cast member working started smiling & clapping, saying “Oh good, you decided to join us” <g>.

After the TTA I was in my fastpass window so it was off to Space Mountain. At this time a fastpass almost wasn’t necessary, as the standby line moved continuously & quickly. Trouble is, you never know if it’ll be like that, or if it’ll be like a line of snails inching their way towards the ride.

I’d done all I wanted to do for today, and wanted to get out before it got much more crowded in there, so I headed back down Main Street and exited the park. I was going to take the little boat over to either the Poly or Grand Floridian, but it was not operating. So, I went up the ramp for the resort monorail and walked right on to it since it was already there. I half expected it to pull away seconds before I got there, but I was lucky today. I got off at the Polynesian, snapped a photo of their tree just inside the lobby, then walked out and got back on the same monorail.

I got off at the Grand Floridian to take photos of the tree and gingerbread house there. In my opinion, this resort is the overall prettiest during the holidays – although my single favorite tree is still the one at Beach Club Villas. I’m not going to bother with the moderates or value resorts, as they’re not that convenient.

After taking my photos I decided to look for the walkway to the Poly rather than ride the monorail around the entire loop again. It was pretty easy to find, and I thought it was a really nice path for walking. I was surprised at how far from everything their spa is – seems pretty inconvenient for the “flagship” resort, but I doubt I’ll ever be using it.

At the Polynesian the path led me straight to the Ceremonial House, where I found Captain Cook’s directly in front of me when I entered the building. Thanks to the menus on allearsnet.com I decided to try something here – normally I’d never think of making a trip to the Poly for a counter service meal! They have these computer screens where you order your own stuff – very easy to use, and there was nobody else ordering anything so I had no wait. I got the turkey club sandwich – with turkey, lettuce, tomato, bacon, & some honey mustard mayo stuff on really good sunflower seed multi-grain bread. I expected it to be sandwich-sized, but this is Disney – it consisted of 3 pieces and each piece was very thick and just slightly smaller in size than a slice of sandwich bread. It was very good, although I think SB will like it more than I did (I’m not that much of a sandwich person). Best of all, it came in a carton-type thing that I was able to close to carry the rest of it back to the resort.
After eating my early lunch I went upstairs and found the monorail waiting for me once again (it just doesn’t get any better than that, lol) and rode over to the Magic Kingdom. I did have a short wait at the OKW bus stop, but only about 5 minutes. It was just me and one other woman riding, so it was very peaceful. I was back in the studio about noon, where I changed into my swimsuit and then spent 1.5 hours or so at the quiet pool. The pool truly was quiet, too – with 4-5 other adults present, all of whom were quietly reading their books or magazines. I don’t recall seeing or hearing anyone go into the pool at all – it was just a really low-key, quiet crowd.

Back in the studio I cleaned up and then did some online stuff before getting to work on the trip report and spending time online with SB. Before I knew it, the afternoon was almost gone, and I wanted to get to Epcot in time for the tree lighting ceremony. I got dressed for the cooler evening temperatures and left for the bus stop around 4:15. This time my luck with the buses sucked. I started seeing the 2nd bus for a couple of the parks, and the 1st Epcot bus arrived almost 25 minutes after I arrived at the bus stop. There were only a few of us on board, and nobody else boarded at the other stops.

It was around 5pm when I got into Epcot, and since Spaceship Earth had no line I decided to ride that first. I always enjoy this ride, and today was no exception. Afterwards I went to check out the tip board, and found Arlene (DVC friend from way back) working in that area. I stopped to catch up with her, until she was relieved for her break – it’s always nice seeing her. The tip board had Soarin’ at 105 minutes, with no fastpasses left (Arlene said it had been 120 minutes earlier). The new Nemo ride was 30 minutes, which is too long for me. I wandered over to Test Track to check out the single rider time.

It was posted as 40 minutes, which was the same as the standby time. I didn’t believe it, but knew if I asked the cast member they would swear the time was real. Yeah, right. I entered the line and was in the pre-show 6 minutes later. I was off the attraction well before the 40 minutes had passed. I’m sure the standby line was every one of those 40 minutes long, but not the single rider line. At the exit area I stopped to look at a Saturn hybrid SUV – I had no idea they had hybrid vehicles. Maybe when it’s time for my next car they’ll have a hybrid in a regular car (rather than an SUV).

By now it was just before 6 so I paused along the walkway between Test Track and the back of MouseGear. I had a view of the tree and the Lights of Winter, and could hear whatever would be happening at the tree lighting ceremony. I didn’t feel the need to be in the huge crowd of people closer to the tree! The ceremony consisted of some songs, appearances by Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, Dale & perhaps Goofy too. Once the lights were lit the crowd started to disperse, so that was my cue to approach the area. I took several photos and stood around watching the lights change with the music. When I told SB today that the Lights of Winter were my favorite, he asked if they were better than Spectromagic (his basis for comparison). I said they were different – lacking the “wow” factor of Spectro, but just really nice & almost soothing. Hopefully he’ll see for himself next year, but I think he’ll say Spectro is better.

I was getting a little hungry, so I started walking towards Mexico. I’d thought about getting either the orange chicken at China or the kids’ meal at Mexico, but ended up with neither. Mexico was very crowded, with long lines at every register and I simply didn’t feel like waiting. China had shorter lines, but people were struggling to find seats, so that didn’t work for me either. I figured I’d wait until I got back to OKW and eat some of the turkey club.

I continued around to Germany and got a glass of the wine I like, then continued to a bench in Italy for a while. People had been seated for Candlelight but it took a while for any sound to begin (I later realized it was due to the 3 choir groups filing in and taking their positions). I got up to walk some more just as it started, so I stood in America to check it out. Mary did a terrific job announcing the show and particularly pronouncing the name of the guest conductor for the evening, lol. David Robinson from a basketball team was the narrator and I thought he did extremely well. The stage was impressive, and although I don’t care for religion at all, I could tell this is a very well done show. I stuck around for the first few songs, and then moved on.

I decided to make this an early night since I had several more photos to get done, and the breeze was a little chilly. It’ll be warmer the next few nights, and I’ll be finished with taking photos by then. On the way out I stopped at MouseGear and bought the calendar, figuring it was best to get that out of the way since I wasn’t sure when I’d get back to World of Disney. After that I talked to SB briefly and left the park. Once again I had a long wait for the bus to arrive, and once again I was the only passenger. I was back in the studio about 8:30.

When I checked my email, there was a message titled “Don’t buy the calendar”. A friend who was at the Hilton Head resort bought me one before returning home today and planned to mail it to me as a surprise gift <g>. What are the odds of that happening??

I finished up the report, then spent the rest of the evening getting the photo album finished (holiday stuff). SB was at a football game tonight, so I stayed up to chat with him after the game – hanging out online and watching tv until then.

Today was a really nice day – very relaxing yet I did more than I expected at the Magic Kingdom. In fact, since I did both of “my” mountains today I may skip my 2nd plan trip to that park. I need to get to Epcot early enough one of these days to get a fastpass for Soarin’! Tomorrow I was going to have breakfast at Earl of Sandwich, then hang out by the pool, then visit Epcot or MGM in the evening. Since it may rain tomorrow afternoon, I’m thinking about changing those plans – but won’t really decide until after the local weather tonight or tomorrow morning!

DAY 5 – Sunday 11/26/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Plan: Epcot, OKW Pool, Epcot

Actual: Once again I was up around 7:30. I leave the drapes open part way, so by this time I have some sunlight in the studio. It’s much more pleasant waking this way than with an alarm going off! I was still somewhat undecided on what to do each of the rest of the days, but finally decided to still make this a partial pool day as the local weather was not calling for rain. I had just a cup of cappuccino, then drove over to Downtown Disney Marketplace around 8:45. Earl of Sandwich opens at 9, and that’s where I headed. Breakfast was most of a caprese sandwich, which was good, but I think I’m tiring of them. They also had a recent price increase – sandwiches went from $4.95 to $5.75 and the soup went from $1.25 to $1.95. I never really noticed the other items, so I can’t say how much they went up.

The original plan was to do some shopping in the uncrowded early morning hours, but there really wasn’t anything else I needed to shop for. So, rather than waiting around for the stores to open at 9:30 (to return the calendar), I decided to make a brief stop at Epcot. I had no interest in fighting my way through the main entrance (especially since my visit would be so brief), so I parked at Beach Club Villas and walked in through the International Gateway. It’s a lot more walking than using the regular entrance, but I enjoy walking – particularly in nice weather!

Epcot seemed deserted, at least until I got to the Land pavilion, lol! I got a Soarin’ fastpass with a 10:51 return time (it was now just after 9:30). The standby line said 30 minutes, but I can’t see waiting even that long. Instead, I walked onto the Living With the Land boat ride and enjoyed that. From there I went over to the new Nemo ride and found a 5-minute wait posted. The 5 minutes is basically the minimum time it takes to walk through the long queue, as the line never slowed or stopped.

Next I went to Mouse Gear to return the calendar, then checked the tip board and saw Spaceship Earth had only a 5-minute wait. That would fill my available time perfectly, so I went over there for a ride. It came to a complete stop at least 3 times, which was getting a bit annoying. I realize some people have such significant mobility challenges they can’t safely transfer even with the ride slowed down, but 3 such people within a 10-minute period??

By now it was just barely my fastpass window, so I walked over to the Land and got there at 10:56 for my Soarin’ ride. The family of 7 in front of me didn’t have a clue about seating – when our row walked in the doofus dad said to the others “where do you want to sit” – thinking the entire row was theirs to pick from. I did tell him we’re supposed to go all the way down and fill in all the seats, and he still started to take my seat. Really, seating at Disney isn’t brain surgery – just about anyone can do it successfully!

Soarin’ was terrific, and afterwards I picked up another fastpass and then left through the International Gateway to Beach Club Villas to get my car to drive back to OKW. I talked to SB for a while, then spent a couple of hours at the quiet pool (not quite as quiet as yesterday but still very nice) and then a couple of hours in the studio. I did finish the turkey club – it was the smallest piece that was left, so hopefully I’ll be able to eat dinner later. Around 4:15 I walked to the bus stop, wondering whether my luck with Epcot buses would improve.

Tonight the bus arrived just after I did, which was nice for a change! Entering Epcot was easy, and it was obvious right away that the crowds were much smaller tonight. Soarin’ still had fastpasses to give out! I headed over there and got one – return time 8:21. I then used my other fastpass to ride, getting the front row this time. Afterwards I walked to the other side of Future World and noticed that Wonders of Life appeared to be open. I went to check it out, and the pavilion was almost deserted but fully open.

I wandered over to Body Wars, and asked the cast member standing there if it was open. He said yes, and I noticed he had the wait time set at 90 minutes <g>. I commented that surely it’s not 90 minutes – maybe 5 is more like it?? He smiled and said there was no wait at all. I walked through the queue and there was a total of 7 of us who rode the ride. It was almost sad in this pavilion, because it was so empty. I skipped Cranium Command because I wasn’t in the mood for all that yelling, and headed back outside.

Next I went to Mission Space and rode the wuss version. The only thing I didn’t like was the cold air blowing on my head the entire time! I guess that helps keep people from throwing up on the real version, but it was really annoying on this one. There was no wait for this attraction either, and I somehow ended up in the fastpass line unintentionally but the cast member told me to just go ahead. Fastpasses were still being issued, and the return time was less than 20 minutes away, lol!

I also stopped at Test Track, and did the single rider line. Tonight they didn’t even give us the pre-show, but had us simply walk through the theater to go right to the boarding area. Directly behind me was a mother and young son – perhaps kindergarten age at the most. I wondered why she was in the single rider line, but kept my mouth shut because she obviously knew that’s where she was. She was telling the boy where to wait for her, etc. When we were assigned to cars, the boy was assigned to the car I was in, so I went to her and asked if she’d like to change places with me. She was thrilled – she looked pretty nervous about letting him go off alone, so I got back in line while she took my seat. I half expected the cast member to question them, since the boy was so young.

After Test Track I headed to World Showcase and got a glass of wine in Germany. I sat on a bench in Germany for a while, then started wandering the rest of the way around. I stopped in Japan and browsed through that big store. It’s been all redone since the last time I was in there (could have been years ago, lol) and it was a definite improvement. The merchandise didn’t seem as crowded together, and they had a lot to look at. They even sell flip flop sandals, which start at a mere $110! I touched them, and they felt like your feet would be killing you, too – they weren’t comfortable at all. For $110 I’d expect my feet to feel great after 15 hours of walking/standing!

I continued the rest of the way around World Showcase and then began again in Mexico. I was going to do the boat ride but the line was pretty long and not really moving very quickly. Since it’s not a favorite attraction of mine I decided to skip it. In Norway I was surprised to find the Maelstrom with a posted 5-minute wait, and the real wait was slightly less than that. I don’t think anyone stayed for the movie after the ride. The ride stopped completely twice, which has never happened to me before. Once we were in the polar bear section and the other time we were just about to go down the hill.

My next stop was China, where I went to Lotus Blossom Café for some orange chicken. Last night they had long lines and no available tables. Tonight the cast members were waving me in, there was no line at all, and very few tables were in use. What a difference a day makes! I ordered the food in a “to go” container, which they happily provided. I took it over to one of many empty tables at that outpost area before Germany and ate my dinner. It was pretty good, but easily 2 meals for me so I ended up carrying the rest of it around with me in case I ate it during the next couple of days.

I went back to Germany for one more glass of wine, and carried it back to the Lights of Winter area. I found an empty bench near that kids’ fountain area, and sat watching the lights and listening to the Christmas music while sipping on the wine. It was very pleasant and relaxing there! When I finished the wine it was just about time for my Soarin’ fastpass but I decided to skip it rather than putting my leftover food in the net under the seat. Instead, I rode Spaceship Earth one last time and left the park.

As I approached the bus stop I saw the OKW bus was already there, so I ran the rest of the way to avoid having to wait for another bus! There were 2 other families on board, and we left immediately for OKW. Back in the studio I put the chicken in the fridge and talked to SB for a while.

Today was another great day. The crowds have disappeared!!!!! I guess the holiday weekend is officially over, thank goodness! I had great experiences at Epcot this morning and this evening, with very enjoyable pool time in between. Earl of Sandwich has slipped down on my list – I’m sure I’ll still eat there but will probably stick to the tomato soup rather than the caprese sandwich. Tomorrow I have lunch booked at Concourse Steakhouse, so I might as well spend the morning at the Magic Kingdom. Later I might do laundry, and will probably brave the crowds at MGM (it’s extra magic hours at night) to see the Osborne Lights one last time.

DAY 6 – Monday 11/27/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Plan: MK, Concourse Steakhouse, Epcot

Actual: This morning it was pretty cloudy – no sun to wake me up. As a result, it was 7:45 when I looked at the clock and said “oh crap” (or something like that). I showered & dressed quickly, had some cappuccino & biscotti for breakfast, and was out the door at 8:40. I must have just missed the Magic Kingdom bus, as at least one of every other park arrived first. Finally the MK bus came just before 9, and we were off – arriving shortly before 9:30. While we were still in OKW we went through some rain, and I thought about getting off at the Hospitality House and returning to get my umbrella. I knew that would cost me about an hour, though – and it looked sunny in the general direction of the MK so I gook my chances. Sure enough, at MK it was sunny (for now). If the rain is moving in this direction I’ll just buy another $20 Disney umbrella to add to the collection!

There was a huge mob at the security area, thanks to the express monorail arriving before me I guess. It was worse than any lines I saw here during the holiday weekend! Once inside though, the park seemed deserted – it was so nice! I went to Space Mountain first and picked up a fastpass with a 10:15 return time. Since I had limited time I decided not to bother with my usual Pooh & Peter Pan stops. Instead, I walked over to Pirates of the Caribbean and got in line since the wait was only 5 minutes.

It does look like they’ve spruced up the sets a bit, but it’s still the same basic ride and still not worth a long wait to me. My next stop was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, where I walked right onto a half-empty train at 10am! They only had one side running, too. When we got back into the station I decided against riding again, and as I exited a group of the dream people were giving everyone in my train one of those Dream Fastpass things. It’s on a lanyard, and is good for fastpass entry any time for each of the Magic Kingdom fastpass attractions once today! Of course, the park wasn’t overly busy, but it still ended up coming in handy. Plus, it’s always nice to be a “winner” no matter how small the prize might be <g>.

Last time I hadn’t ridden Haunted Mansion, so I went there next. Even with these fastpasses I wasn’t going to skip attractions I like in order to use the fastpasses before I had to leave. There were a couple of really scared kids being brought in there – one mother was telling her son it was just like the Nemo ride – huh??? I kept my mouth shut and minded my own business. Hopefully the kid won’t snap & murder his parents while they’re sleeping at their Disney resort <g>.

Since I’d be passing through Fantasyland I decided to use a couple of my dream fastpasses. Peter Pan was my first stop, and it had quite a long wait (listed as 20 minutes but it sure looked longer than that). It was great bypassing the line, hee hee hee. I would not have ridden it if I hadn’t won the dream prize, so this was a nice bonus.

It was getting somewhat late, so I went to Tomorrowland next and used another dream fastpass for Buzz Lightyear. It also had crowds snaked outside the building, and the fastpass line was so quick! I’ve only ridden this in the 9-10 hour, when there’s no line anyway – so it was a treat being able to ride so quickly at this time of day. I scored a whopping 65,600 points, which is decent for me since I basically suck at this. Next I went over to Space Mountain and used my real fastpass for the first ride, then returned right away with the dream fastpass for a 2nd ride – what fun!

By now it was after 11am and I had a noon lunch reservation at the Concourse Steakhouse. I went to the Pooh ride and used another dream fastpass. The line here was also very long, with a 20-minute posted wait. The fastpass line was incredible – I walked right on, with only 1 family of 2 ahead of me. When I got off it was almost 11:30 and I decided to make one last trip to Big Thunder. The line here was completely filled in through the entire inside, and extended down the hill on the outside. With fastpass though, it was about 5 minutes until I was on a train! As we came out of the station it was raining again – yuck! Thank goodness it was a light rain rather than a soaking rain. It had pretty much stopped by the time I got off the ride, and I walked quickly to exit the park. I thought about trying to find someone to pass off the rest of the dream fastpass to, but I was in a hurry and it’s not easy finding a solo visitor. I still had fastpasses for Splash Mountain, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Stitch’s Great Escape, and the Jungle Cruise.

The resort monorail was in the station, so I hurried up the ramp while talking to SB on the phone and was able to get a seat before the doors closed. In a few minutes I was at the Contemporary Resort, with almost 10 minutes to spare! I browsed in the shops a bit, noticing how ugly the grand concourse area is right now – it’s just a big ugly open space, which seems strange. At noon I went to Concourse and was seated right away. I think there were only a few other tables of guests while I was there, so obviously my ADR was not necessary <g>. Perhaps I should have used my Jungle Cruise fastpass and just been late, but then again if I’d done that I may have gotten caught in the rain (it was raining again now).

For lunch I had a glass of reisling and the beef tenderloin salad appetizer. The waitress said it was a really big portion (definitely too much for an appetizer, but smaller than an entree-sized salad). It was made on a small soft tortilla, and had lettuce, tomatoes, onions, goat cheese and beef tenderloin. It had a nice presentation, and was delicious – I wasn’t able to finish it, but I ate most of it. The waitress had said if I found it wasn’t enough there was always the dessert menu, but she didn’t think there’d be enough room for dessert – and she was right. It was a nice relaxing lunch, and then I began the adventure of returning to OKW.

There was a bit of a line waiting for the monorail, so I decided I’d rather walk back to the Magic Kingdom. The rain had stopped, so it was a nice walk. I waited at the OKW bus stop, and waited some more, and waited some more. Finally the Saratoga Springs bus pulled up at their stop, and after weighing my options decided to get on that bus. As we pulled into the resort SB called, and it was hard hearing him over the bus engine noise so I got off at the first stop, not knowing where I was in relation to the path to OKW. So, I wandered around somewhat aimlessly until I saw some familiar surroundings, then got on track to find the path. I used to rollerblade along this path, although it’s really designed as a bicycle path. I don’t think anyone really uses it as a means of walking from one resort to the other as it’s a bit far. However, the path enters OKW right near my building, which is one of the reasons I decided to walk.

Back in the studio I spent some time with SB online, updated the report, and watched General Hospital. The day has been a bummer in terms of the weather – no pool time today, but I really didn’t have time for it anyway. Around 4:30 I went back to the bus stop, figuring I’d visit both MGM Studios and Epcot in whatever order the buses came. The MGM bus came first, so that’s where I went. Entry was easy, but once inside the park was very crowded. Tonight is evening extra magic hours for resort guests, and I figured that would make it extra crowded but took a chance anyway. I checked the tip board and had just missed the last Backlot Tour of the day. The Great Movie Ride line was snaked outside, which is too long for me! Basically there was nothing I was interested in doing considering the waits that were posted. They weren’t excessively long waits – I was basically only interested in being able to walk onto stuff.

It was just 5pm and I realized it wasn’t likely I’d be happy killing an hour before the Osborne Lights, and then being packed in like a sardine to see them. So, I walked a loop around the park and saw the unlit version of the Osborne Lights <g>. The difference between the lit and unlit versions is amazing – looking at the buildings at 5pm I’d have no idea how beautiful & impressive they’d look an hour later when the lights came on!

I stopped briefly in some of the shops near the entrance, but at 5:15 decided it was time to leave for Epcot. I saw Osborne Lights once, and that can be enough (unless I come back before Comedy Warehouse tomorrow) for this year. As I walked away from the park I saw the boat at the dock so I rushed over in time to get a seat. When the boat stopped at the Swan I got off, figuring I’d rather walk than be stuck on a crowded slow-moving boat (especially while I am solo – with SB we’d ride because it’s not worth listening to him complain about the “unnecessary” walking <g>).

At the Boardwalk I stopped and chatted with the cast member working in the dvc model room they have set up. I was hoping he had any new info on the Animal Kingdom Lodge dvc location, but he didn’t. I did take a quick look at the model, which is a 2br BW villa – what I have booked for 5 nights in late May. I also stopped in the candy store (Seashore Sweets). I was the only customer, and the cast members asked if they could help me. I said I was looking for something small and chocolate, and they suggested I just get some samples. They had 4 different items available, and I used restraint to not appear to be a free-loading piglet and just tried the sample of s’mores. It was good, but the one for sale was much bigger than I wanted tonight so I ended up not buying anything.

Entry into Epcot via International Gateway was quick & painless – even with my 2 stops I just barely beat the boat I’d ridden on! It was now just before 6 (5:58 pm) so I walked over to Future World to check the tip board. Fastpasses for Soarin’ were all gone for the day, so that saved me from walking over there. The standby line was 65 minutes. Most everything else had short waits or no wait, but after doing so many attractions here the last 2 nights I really didn’t feel like spending my time riding the same stuff again.

The tree lighting ceremony was going on, so I decided to get ahead of any crowd that might head to World Showcase once that was finished. I arrived at Mexico and found no wait at all for the boat ride, so I rode that. Quite a change from the last time, lol! I passed through Norway & China, then headed to Germany. In the candy store I looked at what they had to offer and found mini chocolate coconut haystack candies – I love those things! They were $.69 each, which is probably ridiculous (to get a box of them would be $$$) but somehow at WDW we spend more than we would at home. I remembered a comment Steve Russo made in his trip report – something along the lines of You know you’re at Disney when you pay $16 for 2 draft beers and are ok with that <g>.

From the candy store I walked next door to the wine store and got a glass of the wine I like. I took it back to the Outpost area and sat at a table for quite a while just watching the people walk by. I love Epcot at night – it’s so pleasant out there! Eventually I decided to walk down to America and stopped to watch John O’Hurley narrate the Candlelight Processional for a few songs. I thought he also did a good job, although when I heard his voice I half expected to see someone dancing <g>. At one point I decided to buy a couple of the Mickey rice krispie treats from the counter service place in America. I brought one home last trip and Chris had the nerve to EAT IT before he asked if he could have it. I told him no, because it was mine – and he left before I found out it was now missing <g>. I figured I’d bring us each one this time, but the line was just taking forever so I eventually left. They had 2 cashiers working, and each one had several customers on each side – plus it seemed to take forever for people to get their food, even though there were cast members standing around doing nothing (waiting for the food to come up probably).

Back outside I figured I might as well get dinner – tonight that meant a big fat soft pretzel from the cart in America. That line took forever too, and I swear that’s the most unsmiling cast member they’ve got working there. He’s nice enough – he’s just got that typical teenage “I can’t smile because I’m just too cool” attitude. The pretzel was great – I love those things! They’re way too big, but this time I like that because I can eat the other half later by zapping pieces of it in the microwave. Thank goodness for dvc resorts!

I watched more of the Candlelight Processional while eating, then got a bag for the other half and did some wandering around. Eventually I went to Italy and tried a glass of pinot grigio. I’d forgotten they sell wine there, and discovered it earlier this evening. The wine was ok, but I still like my wine from Germany better. There’s one other in Italy I’ll try next time, but something tells me I’ll be back to Germany for the long term. I took this glass of wine and walked back towards the Lights of Winter. Someone was on the bench I’d used last night, so I sat on a wall and still had a perfect view. I spent a while sitting there listening to the music and watching the lights – did I mention I just LOVE Epcot at night <g>?

Eventually it was time to move along, so after riding Spaceship Earth one last time I left the park and had a short wait for the OKW bus to arrive. I was back in the studio about 9, talked with SB a while and then finished up the report.

Today was another great day, except for the drizzly & cloudy weather. Winning that Dream Fastpass was such a treat, and it enabled me to do a few attractions I wouldn’t have done otherwise. It was also the first time I’ve ever noticed the dream people. Lunch was also great, with the beef tenderloin salad being a very pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I would definitely order it again. Finally, ending the day at Epcot with the Lights of Winter was nice & relaxing.

Tomorrow will probably be a pool day, unless the weather is not appropriate for that. If so, there’s always shopping or heading back to Epcot! Tomorrow night will be Comedy Warehouse.

DAY 7 – Tuesday 11/28/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular

Plan: Epcot, OKW Pool, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: This morning I didn’t wake up until 8:15, and saw that it was raining outside. A quick check of the Weather Channel told me the forecast had changed to mostly cloudy with off-and-on showers all day and into tomorrow – crap! I didn’t feel like going to a park in the rain today, so I had some cappuccino and biscotti in the studio and relaxed until the stores at the Marketplace opened at 9:30. I needed more Christmas cards, and there were a few other stores I enjoy browsing in.

About 9:25 I drove over to the Marketplace. There were other guests wandering around as well, but it’s much less crowded than any other time of day! I bought some Christmas cards, and picked up a couple of the big rice krispie treats for Chris & me. There really wasn’t anything else I needed, so I just wandered around a while and returned to OKW. The sun was coming out, although I think there will be lots of clouds all day.

I sat on the porch and talked to SB for a while, watching the golfers pass by. He happened to be right next to a golf course also when he called me. I heated up some of the leftover pretzel for a snack, and thought about trying to get another one to take home – I like them that much, even leftover! About 11:30 or so I went over to the quiet pool, since there was a decent amount of sun. This time there was nobody else there at all for most of the time, and then a few other adults showed up. I stayed a couple of hours, then returned to the studio and heated up the rest of the Chinese food for lunch out on the porch.

I packed up my stuff, showered & got dressed in time to watch General Hospital and then the early local news. It was 5pm before I finally left the studio to drive over to MGM Studios to catch the Osborne Lights. I thought about using Disney transportation and would have had enough time, but I didn’t want to deal with the waits. As it turned out, it was the right decision.

Parking at the Studios was very easy – just 6 rows back from the bus stop area! The tram was waiting so I hopped on, and was inside the park by 5:15. After checking the tip board (crowds were MUCH lighter than last night) I rode the Great Movie Ride with barely a 5-minute wait. They were only running the 2nd pair of cars – the 1st pair were not even there. At the end it felt like the cars parked in the center of the movie screen, rather than on one side (to make row for both sets). I wonder if this is a permanent change. We had the gangster scene as expected – but I prefer the western scene.

When I came back outside I was dismayed to find it was raining. It never outright poured, but it got steadily heavier for a while, but was over in about 10 minutes. I had the sense to bring an umbrella this time, and I sat out the rain under cover at a table outside the ABC Commissary. Just before 6 I walked the rest of the way to the Osborne Lights and was surprised to find the lights already on! I guess they don’t do that hokey show any more, which is a good thing <g>. I noticed the other night there wasn’t a stage area set up, and was hoping this was the case. This area was also MUCH less crowded than it was on the night before Thanksgiving, and it was easy to wander around and actually see so many little things that were impossible to see in the huge crowds. I’ll have to remember this for next year, and make a visit after the Thanksgiving weekend crowds have left.

I left the park to allow plenty of time to get to Pleasure Island, thinking the first show was at 7:45. I forgot on the slower nights the first show is not until 8! I walked back to the car, as it wasn’t worth waiting for the tram. I stopped at the Pleasure Island Hess gas station and filled up the tank – gas had gone from $2.21 to $2.19 and now was $2.17 since I arrived. That $.04/gallon I saved filling up the tank paid for half of a mini coconut cluster last night, lol!

The Pleasure Island parking lot is still confusing to me since they redid it, but since it wasn’t crowded here either I was able to muddle my way around and find a spot in the area I always used to use. It was only about 6:30 or so – too early to get my wrist band. I walked over to the Marketplace, where it started to rain again. I made a stop in Ghiradelli to get a chocolate sample for Leesa & me to share. I also looked in Team Mickey, but didn’t see anything – none of the football stuff was teams SB cared about, and he’s spent 31 years wearing (real) baseball uniforms so it wasn’t like I’d buy him a t-shirt of one of his opposing teams (although he did play on the Cardinals one year – but the t-shirt they had said 2006 playoffs). I also browsed in World of Disney again at some point – mainly because it was less crowded than I’ve ever seen it at night! The entire Marketplace was really easy to get around in tonight.

Since I had time to kill, I decided to see how bad the line was at Earl of Sandwich. Imagine my surprise when I was able to walk right up to the register and wait for the cashier to come over so I could order the tomato soup! From there I went directly down to the cashiers (past some people doing salads). The cashier was repeatedly saying “I can take the next person in line” and the guy ahead of me was standing there like his head was firmly entrapped in one of his body orifices – guess he wanted to stand in line for a cashier who was already taking care of someone. Finally I handed my slip to the cashier and said she might as well take me if nobody else is interested <g>. She took my money and handed me the soup – no waiting at all. There were many empty tables, so I picked one indoors and sat down to eat the soup. They’d put way too many croutons in it, but otherwise it was very good. Usually they ask if I want croutons, but tonight the cashier just did it her way. I had a big pile of soggy croutons that I fished out of the soup, as I didn’t want to eat half a loaf of bread!

I know I also looked around in the pantry store next to Earl of Sandwich, and by then it was time to head back to Pleasure Island. It was raining even harder now, so I headed for the Adventurer’s Club and called Leesa from a table upstairs there to see where she was. She had not arrived on property yet, so I relaxed until she got there – glad to be out of the rain. After she arrived we ate the chocolate, and soon headed over to Comedy Warehouse to check in. We were a bit concerned because it was only us, David, and one other couple – and a PI cast member on his night off. Thank goodness more people came after the door was open, as we ended up with about 40 guests.

Jim Roberts was on the keys tonight. The 8:00 cast was Mary, Philip, Krista, Joy & Lisa. Mary & Philip started a Fill in the Blanks scene using the entire audience. We had to pay attention and help with suggestions since the audience was so small. Generally the regulars don’t offer up suggestions unless the other guests aren’t coming up with anything – it would seem obnoxious to go so often and be constantly raising your hand or shouting stuff out (enough is enough). Anyway, Mary & Philip were in their house, which was leaking purple rain and then was invaded by purple leprechauns.

Lisa then decided since at the Comedy Warehouse they usually have no class, they needed to do a classy Madrigal. The tabloid headlines were “Elvis is alive”, “Jiggernuts (I have no idea what that is, so it may not be spelled right) are real”, “Alien born on a plane” and “Michael Jackson plays for the Yankees (this one was mine)”. It was a very brief Madrigal – didn’t go on very long at all. That was a good thing, as it meant they were able to do Cliché! Tonight Lisa was tortured until she guessed she was in the Air Canada Center (skating rink) and the saying was “I’m all stoved up”. The initial clue was terrific, with Mary as a witch being thrown into the stove by Philip. When Lisa finally got all the words, she had no idea what she was saying, which made it even funnier. Overall it was a really good show, especially for such a small audience!

I visited with Mary after the show, then went outside to dry off the bench with Leesa so we could sit down. The 9:05 cast was Mary, Philip, Brian, Lisa & Joy. Mary did the phone interview and got a cute couple who were celebrating their 60th anniversary – wow! Brian rang the bell in Should Have Said, where Lisa was changing the breaks in the car because her husband Philip was a paraplegic. It turned out he was faking paraplegia to avoid doing it himself. She left to go to Hawaii with her ex-husband but then returned saying she wanted to work it out. Since Philip had faked paraplegia, she shot him twice in each leg and once in the groin so they could work with it, lol.

Next Philip did a renaissance-style poem about septic tanks – did a very good job, too. They also did Up Your Alley about horses, using an audience volunteer as one of the experts. Joy was host Dixie B Cup. Brian was Chef Dwayne Redbone, who was founder of FORC – Friends of Real Cows. Their mission is to use horses instead of cows for our meat. Mary was great as Dr. Apple Loosa, a clinical psychologist who whispers to horses. She kept saying horses were similar to humans, and said there were even white trash horses <g>. It was another great show, again with a small crowd. Leesa was sticking around for the last 2 shows, but I was done for the night.

I drove back to OKW and found SB waiting up for me. It had been a long couple of days, and I knew he was really tired. We chatted & said our goodnights, then I finished up today’s report. I had brought some German wine (similar to what I get in Epcot) with me (in a plastic water bottle – the whole bottle of wine would be too much) and had half of it left, so I drank some of that and had some cheese with a few crackers. I think I’ll be leaving the cheese in the trash when I leave – it’s 75% fat free, and as a result – about 95% taste free <g>. I should have known better!

Today was a very lazy day, but I was glad the rain was not an all-day thing! It was actually pleasant out at the pool, and I enjoyed seeing Osborne Lights one last time and seeing a couple of great shows at Comedy Warehouse. Tomorrow I head home, but unless it’s raining in the morning I’ll probably head to Animal Kingdom for a little while. I think I’ve done everything I care about in the other parks, but did not do Primeval Whirl or Dinosaur over there due to the long lines during the holiday weekend. If it’s a miserable rainy morning though, I’ll probably just hit the road.

DAY 8 – Wednesday 11/29/06

Who: Sue (48), DVC member

Plan: AK, Drive home

Actual: Well, I was up around 7:30 this morning and looked out to see it raining steadily. The bill was on the door and I noticed they had not picked up the credit from where I returned the calendar, so I was going to have to stop by the front desk to get that taken care of. I think the girl at MouseGear might have screwed it up, as the 2nd receipt she gave me was not showing a negative amount. I had my last cappuccino/biscotti breakfast, packed up the rest of my stuff, chatted with SB for a bit, and was out the door about 8:45. I stopped at the Hospitality House and chatted with Randy at bell services briefly, then went inside to the front desk. As soon as I got up to the desk and started to talk I noticed the credit WAS on there – perhaps my thumb was covering it before, or perhaps I was just really dumb earlier <g>. In any event, I thanked the cast member and headed back to the car.

It was raining very lightly, so I decided to at least make an attempt at Animal Kingdom. I got a great parking spot – just about 3 rows back from the first guest parking area, and close to the near end. I decided to walk rather than ride the tram, as it was raining some more by now. At the turnstile my pass would not work – the machine kept saying “access denied” and of course I knew it had to be Disney’s error <g>. The cast member sent me over to guest relations, which fortunately had no wait (there really was no wait at the turnstiles either). I gave the guy my pass and explained what happened – he checked a few things and then commented that it was a Pleasure Island annual pass, lol! Yikes – I apologized for the confusion and took it back, then went to the turnstiles with my parks pass and got right in. That’s 2 bone-headed moves and it’s barely 9:30 in the morning!

I went over to Dinoland but it was really raining a little too hard to ride Primeval Whirl without a poncho. It’s a shame, as there was hardly any wait, too. Instead I went to Dinosaur and walked right onto the vehicle (the vehicle was not even filled – there were perhaps 8-10 other people in my preshow room. It was a fun ride, and I thought about going through again since there weren’t enough people waiting to fill the vehicle, but in the end decided to just move on.

By now it was 9:45 and I’d noticed on my way over that there was going to be a 10:00 Nemo show so I decided since it was raining I might as well do that. I wasn’t in the mood for a safari in the rain! The theater is all enclosed now, which is really nice. I found a seat towards the back, at the end of a row, which turned out to be a good thing. The theater was fairly full, but not to the point they had to ask guests to slide over to make room for others.

At 10 Mary’s voice came on to announce the show – for a minute there I flashed back to being in Epcot, lol! The show reminds me of the Little Mermaid show in the sense that there are actors carrying puppets, but in this show they’re in full view and speaking for the characters as well. I wasn’t sure I’d like that, but it worked just fine. I was about 15 minutes into the show when SB started calling (I could see the phone lights in my bag). I figured I’d call him after the show, but he called again – leaving a goofy message this time. Then he called again – so I decided it was better to just leave in case he really had a reason to reach me right now. It turns out he was just goofing around, piling up the messages thinking I wasn’t able to hear the phone because I was in a noisy attraction <g>. The cast member who let me out she’d take me back in when I was ready, but I had already missed some of the show and knew it was better to wait for a time when he & I can see it together. They do have a nice setup for people who have to leave. A cast member takes you to a curtain and you go behind the curtain, then once the curtain is closed someone opens the door to let you outside. That way no light is let in to disturb people watching the show!

It was raining quite heavily now, and I wandered around until I found a dry spot near the registers at Flame Tree Barbecue to chat with SB. At 10:30 the restaurant opened, and they were doing some noisy opening ceremony – they’d chosen a family to officially open the restaurant for the day. However, the family was the only people present (besides me, who left). Pretty soon the rain stopped completely, so I decided to go ride the safari.

There was no cast member taking the fastpasses, so I ended up throwing mine away when I got home. Just as I got up there they opened the left side for boarding, so this was probably the shortest wait I’ve ever experienced here. Lots of animals were out, and many were right along the road. It was an excellent safari, and by the time we got back to Harambe it was starting to rain again!

I returned to Flame Tree Barbecue and saw a fairly long line on both sides of one cash register, but nobody at the other. I asked the other if she was open, and placed my order for onion rings. With the 20% off for DDE it was $3.23 and more than enough food! They were very good – perhaps a little greasy, but still good. I ate most of them, sitting at a table down by the water with a great view of Everest. The wind and rain picked up, to the point that the other family there and I got up and moved to a drier table! It was pretty much pouring, but it only lasted a short while.

By the time I threw away my trash the rain had let up quite a bit. I noticed the restaurant was placing aluminum foil over everyone’s food when giving them their trays, which I thought was nice (due to the rain). I decided to get a pretzel to take home, since the pretzel wagon was close by. After I ordered I saw the logo inside for Super Pretzel and realized this was not going to be one of the GOOD pretzels like at Epcot. I ate one of the “ears” as I walked out of the park, completely stuffed at this point. The rest of the pretzel went home for later. I walked back to the car, and drove home – getting there 3 hours later with no traffic or driving problems.

There are 2 albums – one with the Comedy Warehouse photos from this trip and earlier in November, and the other with all the WDW holiday photos. They’re both on Kodak Gallery, at the following urls:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=34p4jkm.3kxhhhpv&x=1&y=oacln8

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=34p4jkm.22uh0g1f&x=1&y=3x3hnn

Magical Stuff:

Being able to stay 7 nights instead of just a long weekend
Weather was warmer than “normal”
Parks were not crowded at all starting Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend
Winning a Dream Fastpass
Spending Thanksgiving with Tom, Leanne, Kim & Chris
Other excellent meals – LeCellier, Concourse Steakhouse, even Captain Cook’s <g>
Running into old friends – family from Ft Pierce, Bob
Great shows at Comedy Warehouse
Studio 5325 at OKW was the perfect location – convenient yet quiet!
Doing some attractions I normally skip – Mission Space, Body Tours, Beauty & Beast Show, Buzz Lightyear, Christmas parade at MGM
Osborne Lights, Lights of Winter – wow!
UnMagical Stuff:

So much rain, even though this is the dry season
Crowds in the parks on Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Having the trip come to an end
Overall it was a great trip, and I loved having a full week. Unfortunately, I found myself getting tense the last few days, as I was aware it would end soon. There were times I missed SB, but there were also times I was glad to be solo. I spent time doing things he wouldn’t have wanted to do, and enjoyed the freedom to do that!

My next trip will be a long weekend over the Martin Luther King holiday. We won’t know until the last minute if SB will be able to come, but if not I’m fine going solo. Until then – thanks for reading.

Until then – thanks for reading

Sue

Sue Holland
WDW1972@aol.com