Let me start with a warning...this will be long.
It includes my rambling thoughts on planning our trip, a pre-cruise night in Florida, a week on a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, and a week at Disney World.
Please skip over any parts you aren't interested in.
I'm happy to answer any questions as I love talking about my trip and helping others with theirs.
September 2009/October 2009 Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise and Disney World - Noreen & Paul Chin
WHO ARE WE?
Noreen - 41 years old; Senior Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.
Paul my husband; 41 years old; former small Business Owner. Paul is currently managing a business owned by someone else.
Jennifer my sister; 37 years old; works from home doing medical transcription; mother to Jillian
Kevin my brother in law, 39 years old; works for Con Ed; husband to Jennifer; father to Jillian
Jillian my niece; 7 years old; Jen & Kevins daughter
Kim 31 years old, stay at home mom, mother to Kathryn
Kathryn 1 years old, Kims daughter
Kim decided in early August that she would not be able to join us
Kelly mid 30s, another Disney fanatic that I became friends with through a Disney Website. He lives in California.
Jonathan mid 30s. Kellys partner
Paul and I have owned a timeshare near Disney World at Vistana for over 10 years. We love going to Disney and go at least once a year. Our timeshare can be used as a regular week in the type of villa we own (2 bedroom 2 bathroom) or we can use the points to stay for longer in a smaller 1 bedroom unit. Depending on our plans and if we invite anyone to join us determines the type of villa we would book.
Last year (2008) we celebrated several milestones and took 4 vacations. A cruise to the Southern Caribbean in February to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary; Disney World in April for my 40th Birthday; a cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean in June to celebrate Pauls 40th Birthday; and a cruise to Bermuda in September just because we wanted to go.
So for 2009 we wanted to get back onto a more normal vacation schedule. We normally do 3 trips a year.
In March we went to Disney Land in California and combined that with a cruise on the Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera. We booked the cruise and figured as long as were flying across the country we should take advantage and spend some time in Disney Land.
We were planning to do a cruise on either the Freedom or the Liberty in June and then go to Disney World in September.
The cruise prices for June were very high. When I looked at September, the prices were great. So we decided to combine Disney World with a cruise on Freedom of the Seas. With the Freedom leaving from Port Canaveral we would have to fly into Orlando anyway.
So it looks like we will only have two vacations in 2009.
On April 30, 2008 I booked the Freedom cruise for September 27, 2009 to the Western Caribbean. I was able to book cabin #1700, a corner aft D1balcony for $1010 per person. At the time we booked we were Platinum in Royal Caribbeans Crown and Anchor program (loyalty program) so the platinum balcony discount of $100 was applied. We will be Diamond in Crown and Anchor before the cruise so once we reach Diamond, I will call back to have the additional discount applied.
On October 7, 2008 I called to have my balcony discount changed from Platinum ($100 off) to Diamond ($200 off)
On May 5, 2009 I called Vistana to book our timeshare from Sunday 10/4/09 Sunday 10/11/09. We are booked in a 2 bedroom / 2 bath in the Lakes section. Even though we may leave on Saturday 10/10/09, we werent planning to book any other trips this year and this way we will have use of the room until we leave rather than having to check out at 10am. My sister and her family will probably stay until Sunday so its not like the room will go to waste. After more discussions about when to fly home, we are going to stay until Sunday after all. We will try to find an early afternoon flight home. I have work the next day and usually like to have a day in between, but Paul had some very valid points for staying the extra night. We havent been at Disney World since last April, am I really going to want to leave Saturday when everyone else is leaving Sunday? Usually I like that extra day before going back to work to get unpacked and the laundry done and going through the mail. Since we will be in the timeshare we will go home with almost all clean clothes since I like doing laundry there. Even though I normally unpack as soon as we get home, there really wont be a rush to use the summer clothes when we get back to NJ in October so if it stays in the suitcase for an extra day or so it wont be the end of the world.
On May 13, 2009 I called Disney to book a 1 night pre-cruise stay at Disney. For one night, we dont need anything fancy so will stay at one of the value resorts. I asked for Pop Century first, but they had All Star Music available with an AAA (Automobile club) discount. So I reserved All Star Music for a total of $78.77. If we went with Pop it would have been $92.25.
On June 4, 2009 I was stuck at work late and checked the Royal Caribbean website to see if the price has changed. I usually check every morning and since booking it has just kept going up. Imagine my surprise to see a residency rate for the D1 category of $949 a person. I called and was quickly given the new rate and emailed a new confirmation. This saved us $61 per person for a total of $122. I guess I need to start checking the prices more than just in the morning.
On Friday June 26, 2009 I called to apply a $50 Royal Caribbean gift certificate towards my cruise fare. I also applied a $50 Royal Caribbean gift certificate as an on board credit. Friends of ours bought both Paul and I Royal Caribbean gift certificates for our birthdays.
Our itinerary is as follows:
Saturday 9/26/09 Fly to Florida, 1 night at Disneys All Star Music Resort
The Cruise Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Seas
The Freedom Itinerary is as follows:
Sunday 9/27/09 Leave from Port Canaveral Florida
Monday 9/28/09 At Sea
Tuesday 9/29/09 Labadee
Wednesday 9/30/09 Ocho Rios Jamaica
Thursday 10/1/09 Grand Cayman
Friday 10/2/09 Cozumel
Saturday 10/3/09 At Sea
Sunday 10/4/09 Return to Port Canaveral Florida
Disney World Staying at Vistana Resort
Sunday 10/11/09 Fly Home
On Wednesday July 22, 2009 I booked our flights. I have been checking flight prices daily and they were very high. We finally found sort of reasonable prices and booked the flights. We are flying down on Saturday 9/26 on Jet Blue flight number 525 leaving Newark NJ at 2:05pm and arriving in Orlando at 4:45pm. We are flying home on Sunday 10/11 on Continental flight number CO1493 leaving Orlando at 12:30 and arriving in Newark at 3:14pm
On September 11, 2009 I was checking the flight price on Jet Blue and noticed that my flight down has dropped to $79 per person. I called Jet Blue and was quickly given a $50 credit ($25 each) to be used within the next year.
I booked the following car rentals:
1 Saturday 9/26 pick up car from Avis at Orlando airport to be returned in Cape Canaveral on Sunday 9/27 before getting on the cruise
2 Wednesday 9/30 Avis Car Rental on Grand Cayman
3 Thursday 10/1 Avis Car Rental on Cozumel
4 Sunday 10/4 pick up car rental from Avis at Cape Canaveral to be returned at Orlando airport on Sunday 10/11
5 Saturday 9/26 pick up car from Alamo at Orlando airport to be returned to Orlando airport on 10/11. There were last minute specials that made this cost just a little more than the two one-way rentals and eliminates the hassle of dropping off and getting a new car on either end of the cruise
So the plans are all squared away and I get an email from Alamo about last minute car rental specials. Alamo doesnt do one way rentals but I looked to see how much a car rental is for the full two weeks and 1 day picking up and returning the car to Orlando airport. It was about $55 more than having the two separate one-way rentals in Florida but eliminates having to return the car and get a new car on either end of the cruise. But we would need to park the car while we cruise. So my next thought turns to the Radisson hotel at Cape Canaveral that offers the park and cruise package where you can leave your car there. Thats about $125 plus tax. So the wheels are spinning and were trying to decide which way to go but are definitely leaning towards keeping the car the full time. I booked this car too knowing that I can easily cancel the ones we wont need.
We are debating doing Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party when we are at Disney World. My niece will really enjoy it. I went to one a few years ago and it was fun, but Im not sure if we will do it again.
For Cozumel and Grand Cayman we will rent cars and enjoy the islands.
For Jamaica, I saw an interesting excursion to Mystic Mountain that Royal Caribbean offers including an aerial explorer chair lift up to the top and bobsled rides down the mountain. I see that you can also add zip lining when you are there if were so inclined.
Looking on the Royal Caribbean website, I see that the bob sled is available for booking in Labadee. Maybe well add that too. Im not if we need to do bobsleds two days in a row.
On 06/11/09 we booked the following excursion:
Ocho Rios BobSled Jamaica for $62 per person for a total of $124
Dining at Disney World
I booked several reservations for the Disney World portion of our trip. Most breakfasts we will eat at the timeshare. Im expecting that we will end up cancelling some of them since we probably wont want to have two full sit down meals in one day, but wanted to have them to keep our options open. I booked the following:
Saturday 9/27 Breakfast at Kona Caf at the Polynesian at 10:15am for just Paul and I pre-cruise. The rest of the reseravations are for all of us.
Sunday 10/4 Dinner at the Contemporary at 9:10pm
Monday 10/5 Breakfast at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom at 10:10am and Dinner at OHana at the Polynesian at 8:20pm
Tuesday 10/6 Lunch at the Plaza at Magic Kingdom at 2:05pm and Dinner at Crystal Palace at magic Kingdom at 6:55pm
Wednesday 10/7 Lunch at the Biergarten at Epcot at 1pm and Dinner at Tutto Italia at Epcot at 8pm
Thursday 10/8 Lunch at 50s Prime Time at MGM and Dinner at Kona Caf at the Polynesian at 8:10pm
Friday 10/9 Lunch at San Angel Inn at Epcot at 12:20pm and Dinner at Cape May Caf at the Beach Club at 8:15pm
Saturday 10/10 Lunch at Tonys at the Magic Kingdom at 1:05pm. Dinner at 1900 Park Faire at the Grand Floridian at 8:25pm
DAY BY DAY
The week before our trip
Paul and I have been thinking about getting a lap top. It will come in handy for keeping notes for trip reports among other things. Normally when we go on vacation I bring a notebook and write down notes and then once were home I type them into word and then post them on various websites. It takes me a while since I have to do it in between work and other obligations. With a laptop I can type as I go and hopefully not lose some of the stuff I dont remember when Im typing from my notes weeks later. Also, the laptop will allow me to log in remotely to my office. I wont do that on the cruise when I have to pay for internet, but I think the timeshare gives owners free internet. We were thinking about getting one using American Express membership rewards, but it would take about 2 weeks to get delivered and we dont have that long. Membership Rewards at American Express just added a new way to use points for everyday purchases. Computer equipment qualifies. So we just went to Best Buy on Saturday 9/19/09 and bought one.
Sunday 9/20 I started packing. It takes me a long time to get everything packed. Paul thinks Im crazy but I keep track of which suitcase I put things in and try to space them out evenly and logically. We both are terrible overpackers. We are probably going to end up with three big bags to check; a rolling carry on each, a tote bag for me, and the laptop bag for Paul. I hope I can fit everything. I already decided to leave one of the pairs of shoes home. I had 15 pairs of shoes for me on my packing list. I know I can probably get away with less, but I like variety and may change my mind as to what shoes to wear on a particular day.
Monday 9/21 I had a doctors appointment in the morning so ended up working from home rather than driving into the office. Thats the first time I did that. I live in Northern NJ and work in downtown Manhattan; about 30 miles away. However, the traffic makes the ride in take way longer than you would think for 30 miles. Normally, I go in pretty early and avoid some of it, but the doctors appointment would put me right in the middle of ridiculous traffic.
On Tuesday 9/22 I checked American Express online and see that the charge for the Laptop appeared, yet when I tried to use the points for everyday charges it did not show up as eligible. I called American Express who are very helpful and they had to fix it on their end. My guess is since its a new program not all stores are coded as everyday purchases. Since I bought the laptap at BestBuy rather than a computer only type store, the system didnt recognize it.
The rest of the week was hectic with trying to wrap things up before being out for two weeks.
The day before our trip Friday 9/25/09
I worked Friday and it was hectic but not as bad as the last day before vacation sometimes is. I felt I had enough under control that I was able to leave by about 8pm. I started around 7:15 am that day. Unfortunately, traffic was a mess going home. The Lincoln tunnel had over an hour delay so I headed towards the George Washington Bridge. The West Side Highway was backed up too. There was a lane closed and then a broken down car. I didnt make it home until about 9:45.
Paul ordered dinner for us from the country club and ended up keeping it in the oven to stay warm while I was sitting in traffic. Where we live is part of a country club and we have to spend a set amount of money in the two country club restaurants each quarter. We had a Monkfish dish that came with Lobster mashed potatoes and a Blackened Halibut that came with mussels, clams, and shrimp. It was pretty good. They recently changed chefs and for a while there were a bunch of complaints about the food but they have been tweaking things and it seems to be getting much better.
After dinner we played with Kiki (our dog) and I finished up the rest of the packing. I watched some of the shows that were on the DVR trying to clean it up since weve now programmed shows for the next two weeks that well be gone for.
I probably went to bed by about 1am.
Saturday 9/26/09 Fly to Florida
Since our flight isnt until 2pm I was able to go to my Saturday morning spinning class. After the class I came home, showered and got ready. I even did a last load of laundry before we had to leave.
Garbage pickup for our house is on Thursday and Sunday so we had some garbage accumulated and didnt want to leave it. We ended up taking the bag of garbage with us hoping to find a big garbage can somewhere to drop it.
We stopped at a bagel store on the way to the airport to pick up sandwiches to eat on the plane. I got Turkey and Muenster on a plain bagel and Paul got Roast Beef and American cheese on an onion bagel. We also bought some chips. This was about $15.50. We dropped our garbage off in the dumpster in the back of the parking lot.
As we were driving to Newark airport I was starving since I hadnt eaten anything all day. We dropped the car at Corporate Park and were quickly in a shuttle and on the way to the airport. We have been using Corporate Park for a while now and are very happy with their service.
We thought we would do the curbside check in with Jet Blue but because we had more than 1 bag to check each (we had 3 bags to check between the two of us) we had to check in inside. We went in and there was no one on line. Jet Blue gives you the first bag free so we only had to pay for one bag - $30.
We went through security and bought a bottle of Coke and each ate 1/2 of our sandwich while waiting. We bought water and soda to take on the plane.
The flight boarded and took off on time. The flight wasnt full which was very nice. I started reading the book Twilight on the plane. The book is very good and I read it throughout most of the flight. We ate the other of our sandwiches when they served us soda and snacks.
Other than a few crying babies and kids, the flight was nice and smooth
As we were about to land, I happened to watch Paul putting his shoes on and realized he wasnt wearing his sneakers. His sneakers were sitting safe and sound at home. The original plan was for him to wear the sneakers to Florida and pack the shoes he had on. They were a new pair of shoes he bought recently. I guess one of our first stops will be somewhere to look for sneakers for Paul.
We decided to go with the Alamo car rental and keep it for the full 15 days, even though that means we will pay to park it at the pier. Its more a matter of convenience.
Paul went to the car rental kiosk and I went to the luggage carousel. Our bags came out pretty quickly and we walked over to the garage to pick out our car. We picked a burgundy Dodge Charger. Remember Paul wasnt wearing his sneakers? These new shoes were hurting his feet. He wanted to change them and asked if I knew which base a specific pair of shoes was. My compulsive list making came in handy as I looked at my packing list under the shoe column asked which pair he wanted and was able to tell exactly which suitcase it was in.
We drove to Disneys All Star Music resort to check in. I did the online check in but there wasnt a special place to go on a separate line. It wasnt crowded and my package was all ready for me. Were in the Broadway section room 8522. We drove over and decided to leave the suitcases in the trunk and just bring the carryon bags in. Once in the room, I realized I wanted to put on my flip flops which were in a suitcase in the car. Paul wanted to put on his crocs also in a suitcase in the car. We left the room maybe 10 minutes later to go look for a place to get shoes for Paul. We both changed our shoes when we got to the car.
We proceeded to drive all over. We started off driving down 192, then up John Young Parkway. We used to stay at a Radisson on 192 and drove past that. We also used to spend a lot of time offsite eating and just wandering around before our Disney trips became more Disney centric. We ended up by Mall of Millennia and saw a DSW so decided to stop in there to see if we could find sneakers for Paul. Our trip to DSW was very productive. Paul found two pairs of sneakers one Avia and one Sacouny; about $50 each. He also found a pair of Merrell sandals for $90. I even found a pair of sandals by Sofft for me that were on sale for $60.
We got back in the car and it started pouring. It was a torrential downpour. We were planning to stop at a Publix or other market to get some water and soda, but ended up stopping at a gas station and getting a24 pack of Dasani water, two 12 packs of cans of soda, and a few bottles of Power Ade. We spent about $15.
We were trying to decide where to go for dinner and decided to go to Wolfgang Puck Express at Downtown Disney. After parking we ran through the rain and got soaked. I had the BBQ Chicken Quesadilla, Paul had the sausage pizza, and we both had soda. Our meal was about $31. I wanted to order a crme brulee and tried to but they were out of them. Our dinner was very good. By the time we finished eating the rain had stopped.
We stopped in Goofys Candy Kitchen and ordered the 3 dipped pretzel rods. We got them dipped in milk chocolate, one coated in Butterfinger, one coated in Oreo, and one coated in mini vanilla and chocolate chips. They didnt have any caramel drizzle so they were drizzled in chocolate. This was about $5.
We drove back to the hotel to change out of our wet clothes. When we got back, we realized we left a few things in the car we wanted so I ran back down to get them. Paul hung up his wet stuff to dry. I got a kick out of how he hung up his wet socks on a pants hanger with one sock on each clip. It was probably around 11:30pm so we just got into our PJs, shared one of the pretzel rods, watched some TV and went to bed we were both asleep before 1am.
One thing I realized is that I probably should have booked the Radisson or one of the other hotels near the pier for our pre-cruise hotel. I didnt realize that Disney was the opposite way from the airport than the port is. Since we come to Disney so frequently I should have figured that out easily, but didnt really pay enough attention. Also, Im very comfortable with Disney Resorts and felt this way I knew what I was getting.
We started referring to this day as our pre-vacation and Vacation Part 1 (the cruise) would start tomorrow.
Sunday 9/27/09 Embark Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Seas
I had a bit of trouble sleeping and was up at 3:30am. I was finally able to fall back to sleep until about 7 then gave up and started getting ready.
Although the shower is relatively small, I like the curved curtain rod that prevents the curtain from sticking to you while in the shower.
Paul and I snacked on our leftover dipped pretzels from Goofys candy kitchen and had some soda before heading out. We left around 9:35 to drive over to the Polynesian for breakfast at Kona Caf. There were tons of people milling around by OHana. We checked in at Kona and were given a pager. Despite seeing empty tables in the restaurant we waited about 25 minutes before we were seated.
I had a Sprite and the Pineapple Macadamia pancakes with bacon. Paul had the Big Kahuna breakfast and coffee. Our food was very good. We both enjoyed it but neither of us finished our meals. Our total with tax and tip was about $35.
Back at the car we put our luggage tags for the ship onto the luggage and did a bit of rearranging to get things organized. Then we hit the road towards Port Canaveral. The drive took about an hour. We dropped off our luggage and then Paul went to park the car while I waited for him near the checkin area. Once he returned we quickly went through security, then to check in. The woman sending you to the appropriate lane saw that we are Diamond members and sent us over to a very short line with just one couple ahead of us where the regular lines wrapped around. We were quickly checked in, took our boarding picture, and were onboard the ship. We got on just after 1pm and the cabins were available. Right as we were getting on, Paul bought his soda package. We headed up to the cabin and put away the stuff from the carryon.
Already in our cabin along with the cruise compass, was our excursion tickets, the welcome packet and card for the Diamond Lounge, our invitation to the Meet & Mingle, and our Diamond coupons books.
The Diamond/Diamond Plus coupon books contain the following coupons each:
Spa Credit 20% off
Bingo buy a package get a free strip
Wine discount buy one glass get a second one free
Wine discount 15% off any bottle of wine $100 or more
Dom Perignon discount 20% off any one bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne
Wine discount buy any bottle of wine and receive 20% off a second bottle over $50
Photo credit 20% off any 8*10 white lifestyle portrait
Casino free spin to win (3 of these)
Casino - $5 match play (3 of these)
Internet Credit - $10 credit
Gift Shop Discount 10% off any royal Caribbean logo merchandise (2 of these)
Art Auction bidding credit
Coffee buy one hot beverage souvenir cup and receive one non alcoholic coffee beverage
Coffee One free non alcoholic coffee beverage
Johnny Rockets 2 for 1 milkshakes
Airbrushed Tattoo buy one and get $1 off plus free color upgrade
Vintages Wine Flight buy one wine flight and get 25% off on second wine flight
Diamonds International - $150 off any Crown of Light purchase
Dry Cleaning/Laundry - $5 off any laundry charge of $25 or more
Wilderness Express Free wilderness Express souvenir glass
We took a walk around the ship to see the various areas. Some of the shops were open for you to look around but not to actually buy anything. Paul bought cigarettes that he was able to pay for but he cant pick them up until after 6:30. As an incentive to buy them in advance of picking them up, they gave him a little mini cooler that he was able to take with him.
We stopped at the Windjammer to get a little lunch since we have early seating for dinner. We had a little of the Honey Stung chicken which was good. Neither of us can figure out why they only serve it on embarkation day.
We went up to the sports deck and watched a few people on the FlowRider. That looks like so much fun. I cant wait to try it.
We went up to the cabin to drop off the little mini cooler and saw our luggage in the hallway so we asked the guy working with the luggage if we could take ours and he said yes. I guess that makes his life easier that its one less cabin for him to have to worry about delivering the luggage for.
We started unpacking and in a change from our usual routine Paul helped with the unpacking. Usually I like to put everything away and just tell him where things are but today we put things away together. We had to stop part way through for the muster drill. We did not have to bring our life preservers. They were checking you off as you arrived. It took a while though. We were standing there for about 20 minutes.
After Muster was over we went back up to the cabin to finish unpacking. I feel like our vacation really starts once were unpacked and settled in.
We met our room steward as we were heading out so he came over and introduced himself.
We headed up to the Diamond Lounge to see what was going on there. There was a concierge there who said we dont need tickets for the ice show, we can just show our Diamond Cards to get in. They had various pre-dinner snacks and a bar (all complimentary). Paul and I both had a rum punch and some snacks. It was pretty crowded but the room was very nice with glass windows looking out to sea.
On the way to the dining room we walked through the casino and each threw a little money into a slot machine. We went to dinner just a few minutes late and people were still getting seated since its the first day it sometimes takes a little longer. Were at a table for 8 with 3 other couples; two couples are from Florida and one couple is from Georgia.
We had the following:
Appetizers: I had the Vidalia Onion Tart; Paul had the Watermelon Gazpacho and a Caesar salad.
Entre: I had the pork medallions; Paul had the prime rib
Dessert: I had the blueberry/peach cobbler; and Paul had the strawberry pavlova.
Dinner was pretty good. The food was what we expected having had this first night menu before.
We were out of the dining room by 7:15 so Paul picked up the cigarettes he purchased earlier and we headed to the theater for the Welcome Aboard show. There is only one show tonight at 7:30. We found seats all the way in the back. When we first arrived there were plenty of seats available. Once the show started it was standing room only. The cruise director is Richard Spacey. He was pretty funny but a bit hyper. Before he came out the show started with sort of a commercial. The cruise director introduced an acrobatic act Jimmy & Anna who performed and were very good. Then the comedian, Jim David, came on. He was very funny.
After the show we went out on deck for a little while. Then we went to the casino. We played some slots until about midnight. Paul signed up for a Gold Package in the casino that gave him entry to the slot tournament, the blackjack tournament, the poker tournament, a $40 voucher for the spa, a T Shirt, and some spin to win coins for $139.
We stopped at Sorrentos before heading back upstairs. We tried some of the fresh mozzarella, grilled eggplant, and crostini. This was a nice little snack.
We headed back up to our cabin, I read a little of my book while Paul played on the computer and we went to bed by 1am.
Monday 9/28/09 At Sea
We went to breakfast in the Windjammer around 9:15. The Windjammer was very crowded and it took a while to find a table.
After breakfast we went to the Meet & Mingle up at the Olive and Twist Lounge. We had good timing, just as we were walking in someone said Is Noreen here? So I yelled out Here I am. Its not that Im real popular but I arranged a slot pull and was going to collect the money at the Meet & Mingle. I made the rounds with my envelope collecting from everyone who signed up and even a few others that signed up now.
The Royal Caribbean employee that ran the meet and mingle did a raffle and Paul won the first prize that had a hat, a water wallet, and an album. Then he basically said we should mingle and he left. I decided to play Julie the Cruise Director (Love Boat reference in case that didnt make sense), and suggested that we go around the circle of people and introduce ourselves. Paul went down to pick our slot machine. Going around the room, one of the couples was staying in the Ben & Jerrys Suite. Another couple had their luggage fall in the ocean. It was retrieved but their stuff was soaking wet. I think its nice that Royal Caribbean will set these parties up, but sometimes it just needs that extra boost to get people to actually meet and mingle with each other. This broke the ice and people started chatting with each other much more easily after this.
After the Meet & Mingle we all went down to the casino for the slot pull. We chose one of the $1 Wheel of Fortune Machines. Each pull would be for max credits ($3) which qualifies you for the bonus spin of the wheel if you land on it. Each person would pull the lever/push the button 4 times. We had over 40 people participating so over $500. We started off and werent getting anything. Then the first time someone got to spin the wheel he hit $100. We had a woman hit $250. We were very close to the $1000 but didnt hit it. We went through everyone taking their 4 spins and were up a little. We decided to go through the list again and everyone take another 4 spins. After that we cashed out and we broke even. Everyone got their $12 back.
We went to the Port & Shopping Talk at 12. I like going to get the maps, but other than that it was just OK and a big advertisement for their shopping book and the stores they recommend.
Paul had the slot tournament at 1, but the Port & Shopping talk ran late so he had to wait. By the time he got to go, it was just about time for the poker tournament. He was doing OK, and went all in. Even though he started off with the better hand, the other guy ended up with a better hand and won.
We went up the Windjammer for a small snack since we didnt have lunch and were hungry.
We went up to the Flowrider and watched people wipe out, It is surprising how much fun that is to watch. Were thinking about trying it maybe tomorrow when most people are off the ship.
We headed back to the cabin so I could polish my nails and have Paul polish my toe nails. Then we got ready for formal night.
It was only us and one other couple at the table tonight. We were surprised that the others didnt show up. Not so much surprised that they werent there, but surprised that they didnt mention anything yesterday that they wouldnt be at dinner tonight.
We had the following:
Appetizer We both had escargot
Soup I had the chilled pear and Paul had the lobster bisque
Entre I had the Sea Bass and Paul had the Duck. We also shared the linguine with mushrooms
Dessert I had Grand Marnier Souffl and Paul had Cherries Jubilee. Paul also had some sherbet
Dinner was good. The food was tasty. The couple that showed up for dinner was very nice and we had a good time hanging out with them at dinner.
After dinner we stopped by the Captains reception and had our picture with the captain.
We stopped back at the cabin to change out of our formal clothes.
We went to the show in the theater Marquee at 9pm. It was a tribute to Broadway shows and was pretty good. The theater was full and at first we were standing but after a little while we found a seat.
After the show we headed to the Pharaohs Palace for the Majority Rules Game show that started at 10:15. Two couples from our Meet & Mingle and Slot Pull were there so they joined our team. We were team #4. This was a cute game. Our team won and we each got a Royal Caribbean baseball hat.
We stayed in Pharaohs Palace for Karaoke which started immediately after at 10:45. Surprisingly most of the singers were pretty good. There were a few that werent that good, but they were having such a good time it was still fun to watch even though a little hard to listen to.
We headed down to the theater for Late Night Comedy with Jim David (the same comedian from the Welcome Show). It wasnt packed but decently full in the theater. His late night show was funny and we laughed out loud a few times.
We went through the casino on the way back to our cabin and Paul wanted to play one of the odd slot machines with funny games (not the poker machines). I headed up to the cabin to get ready for bed. Paul came up in about 20 minutes and brought a snack from the promenade caf.
We talked about possibly not getting off the ship in Labadee tomorrow and rather enjoying the pool and Flow Rider on the ship when it will hopefully be less crowded.
We went to bed by 2am.
Tuesday 9/29/09 - Labadee
We had a light breakfast in the Windjammer and then headed to the Flow Rider by 10am. They closed at 10:30 for private lessons. We each had a chance to ride once before they closed. Surprisingly, we both did fairly well and stayed on the boogie board for a while. There was a young boy (maybe 10 years old) ahead of me in line and he gave me some tips for staying on the board before I went. After I went he was there to high five me for staying on. That was so cute.
After the Flow Rider closed we headed over to the H20 Zone. We were the only people there. We played in all the areas of the H20 Zone which on a sea day would be filled with children. A few other adults joined us a little later and also played in the H20 Zone. I saw the young boy from the Flow Rider who asked me if I enjoyed it and if I was planning to go back when they reopen.
It was very hot out today maybe 94 degrees. We decided staying on the ship and enjoying it without crowds was the best choice for us while most people were on Labadee.
Around 1pm we headed back to the cabin to shower and change out of our bathing suits. We got dressed and went to the dining room for lunch. We both started with the appetizer salad from the salad bar. I had the chicken yakitori and Paul had the Singapore noodles. I had the apple parcel and Paul had the flan for dessert. It was very nice having lunch in the dining room. We should have asked for a table for two today but we usually enjoy sitting with others at meals. They sat us with a couple that didnt speak any English. They nodded hello to us then barely even spoke to each other. They had salad from the salad bar and then left.
The Flow Rider was going to re-open soon so we got back in our bathing suits and headed back down to do some more boogie boarding. It was more crowded now since a lot of people came back from Labadee.
From 2:30-3:30 was scheduled for adults only, and then from 3:30-4:30 was for everyone. We spent some time in the Solarium pool after playing on the Flow Rider.
At 4:30 the stand up surfing started at the Flow Rider so we went back. Paul did pretty good and stayed up. When we used to go snow skiing I skied and Paul snow boarded so I guess the concept is the same since he got the hang of it pretty quickly.
We came back to the cabin to shower and get ready for dinner around 5:20. Everyone was at the table tonight at dinner. It was Italian night and we had the following:
Appetizer We both had the scallop risotto
Soup I had the chilled Strawberry and Paul had the Roasted Garlic
Entre I had the Shrimp and Paul had the rack of lamb
Dessert I had Angel Food Cake and Paul had tiramisu
We went back to change after dinner. The show at 9pm was Tony Tillman. He was OK, but I find it a little annoying when a performer constantly asks the audience to clap or cheer for him.
We went to the casino after the show and played some slots. Paul played some table games.
I went up to bed by 12:45 and Paul stayed to play some poker. He came up about 2am.
Wednesday 9/30/09 Ocho Rios
We got up to have breakfast in the Windjammer.
We met our tour at the pier BobSled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain. We got in a van which wasnt very crowded and was nicely air conditioned. It was a quick ride over maybe 5 minutes. Once at Mystic Mountain we took the aerial skyway up to the top. It was a long ride and pretty high up. At the top it was very cute. There are bathrooms that were clean and no one was standing there with their hand out for a tip. The bobsled ride itself was a lot of fun. You control how fast or slow you go. Once at the bottom the ride goes back up to the starting point. There is a nice pool with a slide. I didnt have my bathing suit but Paul went on the slide and in the pool for a little bit. The shorts he wore today were a bathing suit. When I was on the phone with Royal Caribbean once about something unrelated I happened to mention this excursion and the woman said the pool isnt a big deal and a waste of time. She was wrong. The pool was very nice. Its not huge but it looked so refreshing and slide was very cute. I wish I didnt listen to her and had packed my suit. They had a restaurant, a few little shops and some vendors selling crafts but again not in your face and annoying you jus t there trying to sell their wares. When we were finished we took the aerial skyway back down. We were quickly in another taxi van back to the ship area.
We got off at the nearby shops and wandered around a little. We bought a pin in the Hard Rock Caf for about $11. We found a postcard and a magnet that looks like a flip flop. I bought nail polish in Del Sol that would change colors for about $12. Paul bought Blue Mountain Coffee Beans for $14 for 8 oz. My nail polish didnt make it too far since I dropped the bag and the bottle broke so that went in the trash. We stopped in the Cariloha store to look at the shirts made from bamboo that are supposed to be cooler than wearing cotton but Paul didnt find anything that fit.
We headed back to the ship and were back on by about 2:30 and went straight up to the Windjammer to get some lunch.
After lunch we changed into our bathing suits and went to the Flow Rider. We were each able to get in a boogie board ride before they switched over to stand up surfing. We both did that as well. Paul is doing good at the surfing. His snowboarding experience is keeping him on the board much longer than I can stay on. I stood up for maybe a few seconds before wiping out.
We headed over to the pool in the Solarium for a little while. Then we went up to the cabin to get ready to go to dinner.
Everyone was at dinner tonight. We had the following:
Appetizers: I had the chicken dumplings. Paul had the Malaysian noodles with crab
Soup: I had the Papaya Banana chilled soup
Salad: Paul had a salad
Entre: We both had the surf and turf which was steak with grilled shrimp
Dessert: I had the coconut crme brulee and Paul had the banana cream pie
After dinner the waiters performed a surfing song. This was cute and we havent seen this before on others ships. I guess it makes sense this ship has surfing on it.
We wandered the promenade looking through the shops. In the general store I bought an eyeglass repair kit for $3.59 since my sunglasses broke this morning. Then we stopped to look at our pictures.
We went to the ice show FreedomIce.com at 9pm. We went about 8:45 and there was a line for standby, but we were able to just walk in showing our Diamond cards. Our seats were OK all the way at the end and near the top. The show itself was just OK. A lot of the skaters fell. My favorite ice show is still Seasons which they perform on the Explorer.
After the ice show we headed down to the theater. Win a Cruise Bingo was at 10:15 and then the Love & Marriage show at 10:30. Ever since my last experience with a tie on Win a Cruise Bingo Im not that keen to play. They also have raised the prices ridiculously for the Win a Cruise bingo. One paper card is $45 and the electronic machine is $55. This is for one game. We didnt play Win a Cruise Bingo. It went very quickly. The Bingo game itself was well done in that the screen showed the numbers called rather than the old electronic board. Even when the person won, they only had to type in his machine# and his card showed on the screen. I got to be the Bingo commissioner and all I had to do was look and confirm that all the balls were there. I got a free drink of the day.
The Love and Marriage show was next. This was hysterical. A few new questions and some of the same ones, but the couples chosen are what made the show. Actually, I think it was the cruise director, Richard Spacey, who made the show so entertaining. His reactions and responses are hilarious. It was a long show and didnt end until about midnight.
We headed to the casino for a little while after the show. Paul wanted to play poker but there wasnt anyone playing.
We stopped at Sorrentos for a quick snack and then went upstairs by 1:30am.
Thursday 10/1/09 Grand Cayman
Paul and I got our stuff together and grabbed a quick breakfast in the Windjammer before getting on a tender to shore on Grand Cayman. We were on shore by about 9:30 or so. Our original plan was to get a rental car from Avis which was located at the Marriott on Seven Mile Beach. On the tender over we saw a car rental place relatively close to the pier so we walked over there to see the cost thinking it would be less hassle than having to take a cab to the Marriott to get the rental and then do the same at the end of the day. The place was called Cayman Rentals and we rented a Nissan Sentra for about $67 including insurance, license, etc. It had air conditioning and got us around the island. You drive on the opposite side of the road than what we drive on in the US, but Paul doesnt mind doing that. We were surprised to see that the windows had the old fashioned cranks. I dont remember the last time I saw those in a car.
Before leaving the Georgetown area, I stopped in the Hard Rock Caf and bought a pin. I also stopped in a little souvenir shop and bought a postcard and a magnet. Then we headed towards the west end. We stopped at Hell and took a few pictures and browsed through the gift shop. Then it was on to the Cayman Turtle Farm. Despite being cloudy earlier, the sun came out and it was starting to get hot out. Our next stop was the Tortuga Rum Factory. We sampled some rum cakes and some rum. We bought a six pack of mini rum cakes in various flavors.
We then drove to the other end of the island to the East End. We stopped at a few places to take pictures. One of our stops along Seven Mile Beach was at the Ritz. We wandered through the pool area to the beach to take a few pictures. We wanted to see Seven Mile Beach and instead of just stopping at one of the public beach access entry places and parking there, we went through the Ritz instead. The grounds were beautiful and the bathrooms very nice and clean.
We found the Blow Hole at the East End and I walked down the rocks to get a picture. There was a man there helping you along to the right area without tripping and would take a picture for you. He ran the snack stand across from the blow hole area. He didnt charge for the service but we tipped him.
We headed up to the North Shore and found the sign for Rum Point. I followed the trail but ended up in what looked like someones backyard. I took a few pictures anyway, not sure if I was in the right place or not.
We stopped at a gas station to fill the car back up but they had a power failure so we couldnt get gas at this station. There was a little hut on the beach selling rice and meat dishes. Paul bought one. I tasted it and it was very good. I was looking at this little hut thinking here this guy works in this little hut but look at his beautiful view as hes working. That must be so peaceful and helps to keep you in a good mood.
We stopped at a different gas station to put gas in the car. Paul dropped me off at the terminal and I got on a tender while he went to drop the car off and then hed walk back to get on the next tender. The reason we did it this way is since we had a couple of bags of the stuff we bought and this way we didnt have to lug it from the car rental place back to the ship.
It was a short day in Grand Cayman with the last tender back at 3:15pm
Once on the ship I went up to the cabin to wait for Paul who arrived maybe 15 minutes later. We made a quick stop in the Windjammer to get a snack to hold us over until dinner.
We looked for our pictures. There is a great picture of Paul surfing. Well probably pick that one up later in the week. We may also get our boarding picture. My surfing picture wasnt there yet. We also wandered through the shops on deck 5 which were opened.
We went up to the cabin a little after 5 to shower and get ready for formal night. It was only us and one other couple at dinner tonight. We had the following:
Salad: Paul had a house salad
Soup: I had the cold roasted peach soup
Entre: We both had the fishermans platter and each asked for a second lobster tail when we were done
Dessert: We both had the dessert trio. Paul originally ordered chocolate ice cream but they brought him the trio so then he was given his ice cream too.
After dinner we went back to the cabin to change into more casual clothes.
The show tonight was Once Upon a Time and it was a spin on fairy tales using current music. It was very enjoyable and probably the best show of the week.
We headed up to Pharaohs Palace for Battle of the Sexes at 10:15. We sat with two of the couples from dinner. Paul even participated in one of the physical challenges for the guys. The activity he participated in was carrying a key chain in your butt cheeks and dropping it in a bucket. The women, despite doing horrible on the physical challenge where they had to put numbers in order, still won. Battle of the Sexes ended at 10:45 and we stayed for Karaoke. Karaoke went from 10:45 12:15. I dont know why they didnt make Battle of the sexes last 45 minutes and Karaoke an hour. Everyone was having fun at Battle of the Sexes and it was packed.
Everyone else went to bed after Karaoke but we went to the casino and played some slots. There still wasnt anyone playing poker so Paul was disappointed that he didnt get to play. I did OK on my slot machine. Not anything major, but I put $20 in and cashed out $55 about hour later.
We stopped for a snack at Sorrentos of mozzarella balls, mushrooms, and crostini before heading up to bed. Back in the cabin I was looking at one of the Grand Cayman brochures and realized that what we thought was Rum Pointe really wasnt. We didnt go far enough.
Friday 10/2/09 - Cozumel
We had breakfast in the Windjammer. The ship wasnt cleared for us to get off until a little past 10am. I expected the lines to get off to be long, but they werent bad at all.
We headed over to the Avis Kiosk and picked up our rental car. It was a red Jeep. The first one they tried to give us was green but was a stick shift and we needed an automatic. We had to wait for someone to bring a car with automatic, but that only took a few minutes. We spent some time noting the scratches and dents in the car which the guy working there marked off on the receipt.
We headed off down the main road. We drove past Playa Mia, Chakanaab, etc and basically drove all around the island. We stopped at a few beach areas and took some pictures and looked in the various little shop/stalls that vendors set up. We parked at the Punta Langosta pier, but since there werent ships docked there, most of the stores were closed. I was looking at these cute bags made out of candy wrappers. I almost bought one, but the vendor ended up being too pushy and annoyed me so I left. We stopped at the DownTown area where Paul stayed in the car, and I would jump out if I wanted to stop in a store. I bought a pin in the Hard Rock Caf.
It started raining as we were driving down the main street in downtown. We got hit by a taxi cab. He rammed right into us from behind. Luckily our Jeep had no damage. His whole front was smashed in. We were also lucky that there was a police car two cars behind us so they were right there. The taxi driver I think wasnt happy that the cops were there. The police looked at our license and rental info, they called Avis to tell them about the accident, but that there was no damage to their car. There was a nice man there who was translating and telling me what was going on. He said the taxi driver was lucky we didnt have damage since he hit us, he would have to pay for it. No one was hurt or anything either. While waiting for the police to finish their paperwork, I asked if Paul minded if I ran into the shop nearby. The nice man who was translating took me to his store. I bought a cute little purse made out of candy wrappers. He originally wanted $20 but when I mentioned they were only $15 by Punta Langosta pier, he gave it to me for $15. He was very friendly.
The rain stopped so we went to Chakanaab. We bought the package that was $19 each and included admission, a beverage, and a T Shirt. We picked up our T Shirts and headed in. We stopped first in the pool and swam around for a bit. It was nice and refreshing. Then we walked along the sand to find a place to go in the ocean. There wasnt a real beach type area, all the entries to the water were via ladder and were made more for snorkeling than anything else. We went down one into the water and swam around for a bit. Well I swam around and Paul stayed near the ladder. We had lunch at the restaurant near the water area under a big Palapa type hut. We had Nachos and fish Fingers. I had a can of soda and Paul had a can of beer. Our beverages were included. The food was very good. It was about $24. It started pouring while we were eating. Of course, we had the top down on the Jeep so I figured the seats and anything in the car would be soaked by the time we went back later.
After eating we went back in the pool area. This is when we noticed the sign that said the pool area was for the exclusive use of those people doing the dolphin encounter. Oops. I was a bit disappointed in Chakanaab. I expected there to be more to it. I think I was expecting a nice beach area and they didnt have that. I also didnt like how after paying admission, you arent supposed to use the pool unless you were doing the dolphin encounter. We met a couple from the ship from the Meet & Mingle at Chakanaab and they asked if we wanted to split a cab back. Since we had the Jeep we offered them a ride back. Paul showed them the downtown area and then we returned the Jeep. The Avis counter closed at 5. We had to be back on the ship by 6:15. We returned the car around 4:45. Then we browsed around the shops in the pier area. I bought a few magnets. They had tons of the cute little candy wrapper bags here too and I saw the size I bought downtown for only $12 here.
We were back on the ship by 5:30 and we showered and got ready for dinner.
Everyone was at dinner tonight. We all talked about our Cozumel experiences. We had the following for dinner:
Appetizer we both had the crab cake
Soup I had the cold apple soup; Paul had the chicken wonton soup
Entre I had he Pork; Paul had the lamb
Dessert I had the apple pie ala mode and Paul had the white chocolate mousse
After dinner we stopped at the logo shop and bought a photo album, postcard, and a few other items.
At 9pm we went to the show which was a guest performer, Drew Thomas. He was on Americas Got Talent and is an illusionist. His show was really enjoyable. This is now my new favorite show of the week.
We went to the Quest at 10:30 in Studio B. It was fun. Richard Spacey, the cruise director, did a very good job since he asked for different things than are normally asked for. There were a few that weve heard before, but some were new. He even mentioned that he does it that way so people that come with a big shopping bag full of stuff he may ask for dont have an unfair advantage. As the week is going on I am finding that I like the cruise director more and more. He definitely grows on you.
We played in the casino for a bit, and then stopped at Sorrentos for our usual before bed snack. We were probably in the cabin by 1:45
Saturday 10/3/09 At Sea
Today we were invited to a Diamond Plus, Diamond, and Platinum breakfast at 9:30 in the Dining Room. We headed over with our invitation and were seated at a table for six with two other couples. We were each served a Mango trifle. I think it had yogurt, mango pieces, some crumbled cake and some fruit. No one else at the table ate it, but I had a few bites. They came around and gave you juice and pastries. The items for order from the special menu were very limited. I ordered the stuffed French toast which was very good. Paul asked if he could just have an omelette (not on the special menu) which they made for him. One of the couples didnt like it at all and said they were just going to go to the Windjammer. The other couple wasnt crazy about the menu either and the man just ordered some eggs (not on the special menu) but he wasnt happy with that either. Our regular waiter at dinner last night mentioned this breakfast and made it seem so special and said the officers sit with you. No officers sat with us, none even visited us. I wasnt thrilled with this event.
Paul and I headed back to the cabin to change into our bathing suits and go to the Flow Rider. Paul did the stand up surfing and then they were switching to boogie boarding. We each did that a few times. The lines were the longest weve seen them all week.
By early afternoon we were getting hungry so we came back to the cabin to change and went to the dining room for lunch. I had the beef tostada salad and the Apple Parcel. Paul had a salad, the open faced steak sandwich, and chocolate cake. We were sitting with a nice couple from Canada who were on their first cruise. We had a nice time at lunch with them.
After lunch we looked for our pictures but were having trouble finding them. A woman working there was very helpful and said she would search the computer for them if we could come back later to see them.
We stopped at the General store and got two bottles of Absolut Vodka. Since it is the last day they let us take it with us so we can pack it rather than having to wait for it to be delivered.
Then it was time for Paul to participate in the Blackjack tournament. He just missed getting to the final table.
We went to the final Bingo at 4. We bought the electronic machines. It wasnt too bad we got two machines, they also give you a pack of paper cards so you arent bored while the machine does all the work for $67. The activities manager mentioned that there wouldnt be a jackpot since there hasnt been that much participation in Bingo. The first game was a little over $100, the second game was about $200, the third game was about $300 and the final game (coverall) was about $650. When you need one number to get Bingo, you have to stand up. Paul was the first person standing. I was standing another number or so later. The funny thing was that on our paper cards Paul and I both needed the same number. Neither of us won. On prior cruises the final Bingo was a packed room. I guess the use of the machines and the corresponding increase in cost to play has made Bingo not as attractive as it used to be as a form of entertainment throughout the week.
After Bingo we started some of the packing. We went to dinner at 6 and everyone was at the table tonight. We all exchanged email addresses. We had the following:
Appetizer We both had the crab cake
Soup I had the cold soup and Paul had a hot soup (I forgot what they were)
Entre I had the shrimp and mahi mahi tempura and asked for some white rice. Paul had the steak.
Dessert I had the Banana parfait and Paul had key lime pie
After dinner we all went out our separate ways to pack with plans to meet up at Karaoke later. We finished our packing but missed the farewell show. We also went down to the Photo area and bought a few pictures.
We went to Karaoke and our tablemates from dinner had already signed Paul up to sing My Way. Paul was called to sing after maybe 4 or 5 people went. We were there until 1am when Karaoke ended. Everyone else went back to their rooms and we went to the casino.
We grabbed our nightly snack at the promenade caf and went upstairs around 2am.
While most people were probably upset at it being the end of their vacation, we were sad the cruise was ending but also looking forward to Vacation Part 2 Disney World.
Sunday 10/4/09 DisEmbark Freedom of the Seas and go to Disney World
We were up early to be out of our cabin a little after 8. We headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast. While we were up there our color tag was called so we exited after we finished eating.
Getting off the ship was relatively quick. As soon as we walked through a porter asked if we needed assistance with our luggage which we did. We pointed out our bags as they were coming around the carousel and he pulled them off and loaded them onto his cart. Paul went to get the car from the garage and I went with the porter and the luggage who took me to the area to wait for Paul. Once Paul came out we loaded the car and were on our way.
Our first stop was Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach. I bought these cute Hawaiian sandals that were on sale for $6.99. The poor cashier was very confused. My total came to $7.41. I gave him a $10 bill and then said I probably have the change. He must have already put the $10 into the register because he was confused as to how much change to give me. He gave me $2 and I explained that he owed me $1 more since I gave him the change. Then he tried giving me $8 so I told him no, thats too much, its only $3 you have to give me. I think one problem with these registers that calculate the change for you is that some cashiers cant do simple math to make change. And this wasnt a young kid either.
We drove over to Kennedy Space Center and were debating whether we wanted to spend a few hours there but decided against it and headed to Disney World instead.
Even though check in isnt until 4pm, we stopped at Vistana first on the off chance that a room was ready early. We lucked out and were able to get into our room before 1pm. Were in the Lakes section room 1868. Its a nice room on the top floor. Our view isnt that great and our original room (that wasnt ready yet) would have had a nice pool view. But thats OK, I dont spend much time looking out from Vistana. I would rather get in the room sooner.
I did most of the unpacking when Jen called to say they were in Florida and how do they get to Vistana. We gave them directions and they came up and dropped their bags. Kevin didnt feel good from the rough flight and Jillian had an earache. But they were hungry so we all went to Hooters for lunch. It was good. I had boneless wings. Kevin and Paul had regular wings. Jen had some of the wings and a salad and Jillian had mozzarella sticks. We also had an order of the Lots of Tots. The waitress was attentive and kept our sodas filled without us having to ask. Our half of the bill was $27.50
After lunch we went to Publix and bought some groceries for the week. We split the cost of groceries which was about $57 per couple. We brought the groceries back to Vistana and then I called Kelly. Kelly and Jonathan were in their room at Pop Century. Paul and Kevin were getting involved in watching a football game. Jen and I took a ride to Pop Century to pick up Kelly and Jonathan. They gave us a tour of their room. Jen was very impressed with Pop Century. We drove back to Vistana and gave a tour of our villa. They were very impressed with the villa. Then we (me, Jen, Jillian, Kelly, and Jonathan) went for a ride around the Vistana property so Jillian could pick out the pool she wants to go to. We also stopped to look at the renovated Market Place (used to be the General Store) then we headed back. Basically a tour of the grounds at Vistana.
Jen, Jillian, and Kevin wanted to go swimming and not go to a park tonight. Paul wanted to watch the end of his game, so I went with Kelly and Jonathan to downtown Disney. I bought annual passes for Paul and I as well as a Tables in Wonderland card. After wandering a bit Kelly and Jonathan had to leave for their reservation at Le Cellier. It was nice spending time with them. I wish our trips had overlapped a little more and we could have spent more time together.
I went to World of Disney and bought an album and a shirt. Then I stopped in the Christmas store and bought my annual ornament.
I drove back to Vistana after that. We all headed over to the Contemporary for dinner at Chef Mickeys. We got some great pictures with all the characters. The food wasnt that great. I know you go for the characters and not really the food, but we have always enjoyed the food here in the past. At one point we were trying to get our waiters attention to take a group picture with Mickey Mouse and he was involved. Mickey Mouse tapped a guest at another table and motioned taking a picture for us and he did. That was the cutest thing.
My throat hurts. I hope Im not getting sick.
Once back at the villa, I started some laundry and tried logging into my remote access to work but the connection didnt work. We have a weeks worth of dirty clothes from the cruise that I want to wash. I didnt do it all tonight but ran two loads.
Monday 10/5/09 Disney World
I was up early as usual and got ready. Paul even got up and got himself ready. My sister was getting ready, but Jillian and Kevin were still sleeping. Our plans of leaving at 8:30 didnt happen. We didnt leave until a little after 9.
When we got to Animal Kingdom, we easily parked and got on a tram. Jen went to buy their park tickets while Kevin and I had to go through the bag check. This was the most thorough bag checking lady I have ever encountered at Disney World. No wonder this line took forever. She inspected everything and asked you to pull out any bags within your bag to see what it was. Kevin was a bit annoyed and just dumped everything out on the table from his bag in front of her.
Once we were finally in the park, we took a few pictures by the tree of life and headed towards Tusker House for our breakfast with the characters. We checked in and my sister and I had to take a picture of one of the cast members working to check us in. His name was Kalik. That is our maiden name so we were very surprised to see it on a nametag. Of course we had to take a picture of him and his name tag.
Paul went to get us all fast passes for Kilamanjaro Safari.
Once our pager went off we went towards the back area and waited in a line for pictures with Donald Duck. It is hot out already. The weather this week is expected to be unusually hot in the low to mid 90s. Just our luck. I was hoping that by October we would have cooler temperatures.
While waiting for our picture we started talking with a different cast member who was from the Bronx. She said she misses home. My sister still lives in Brooklyn, NY so we chatted with her about things back home.
We were seated after our picture and our waiter brought us juice. Im guessing it was Frunch since it wasnt quite orange juice, but had orange and some other fruit flavors. I asked for a Sprite and Paul asked for a Coke. Kevin had Apple Juice and Jillian I think had chocolate milk. We all went up to the buffet to get our food. The food was very good considering its a buffet and hard to keep things fresh. The characters came around and we took pictures and Jillian got autographs. Mickey Mouse was in a rush and didnt do a good job signing the autograph book. He basically scribbled a scrawl that you couldnt even tell said Mickey Mouse. My sister complained to one of the cast members and they took Jillians book to get a better autograph. Breakfast was about $45 for us. Our Tables in Wonderland card has been saving us money at each restaurant.
After breakfast it was time to use our fastpasses at Kilamanjaro Safari so we headed over there and went through the fastpass line and were quickly on our vehicle. The safari was good and we saw a lot of animals. The male lion was on his rock, but sound asleep and we did not see the female lion.
We headed to Camp Minnie Mickey to see the 12 noon showing of the Festival of the Lion King. Jillian didnt want to go see the show, but everyone else did and Jen convinced her that she would like it. We were in the lion section. Jillian started off with her arms crossed in front of her chest and a puss on her face expecting not to like it but by the time it was half way through she was smiling and enjoying the show along with everyone else.
We walked into DinoLand and went on Triceratops Spin. We were planning to go on Primeval Whirl next since last time we went Jillian was too short to ride but this time she would be tall enough. She decided she did not want to ride and she only wanted to go on Kali River Rapids next. It was hot out and she was complaining about the heat and being tired.
Paul, Kevin and Jillian headed towards Kali River Rapids and were going to stop for fastpasses for Expedition Everest while Jen and I stayed to ride Primeval Whirl. Jen was worried that Jillian may be getting sick and not wanting to say anything since she was surprised that she was already so tired and being so crabby. She is rethinking her plan to spend all day in the Magic Kingdom tomorrow before the Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween party if Jillian is going to poop out after an hour or two. We had a great ride on Primeval Whirl and had so much fun. Jen declared it the best ride of the day so far.
As we exited the ride my cell phone rang and it was Paul saying that Jillian and Kevin were already on line and we should hurry over. When we got there Jen and Paul joined Jillian and Kevin in the line (yes they were those annoying people saying excuse me to join up with the rest of their party) while I waited with the cameras on the little bridge to take a picture of them. I dont like getting wet in my clothes so dont go on flume rides or rapids rides such as this.
They all enjoyed their ride and other than Paul who was pretty soaked the rest of them were just slightly wet.
Jillian wanted to get frozen lemonade. Jen noticed a few people drinking what looked like frozen lemonade but not the kind in the cup that you need a spoon for (thats the one Jillian wanted). We stopped at the stand across from Yak & Yeti and found the frozen drinkable lemonade and different flavors as well as different teas and coffees. Jen got a frozen lemonade slushie, Kevin got a frozen strawberry lemonade slushie, and Paul and I had a frozen Mango slushie. These were really good. Jen continued the quest to find Jillian the frozen lemonade in a cup that she wanted.
Jillian wanted to go to the petting zoo. I wanted to go to the Finding Nemo Show. We split up with plans to meet by Expedition Everest around 4:20. Paul and I got into the 3:15 showing of Finding Nemo The Musical. Luckily, the park is not crowded and we got there at 3:10 and had no problem getting in. We didnt have a huge choice of seats but we were in. The show was as good as it always is and we both enjoyed it. Paul dozed off a bit during the show.
We walked right onto Dinosaur with no wait. We enjoyed this as well.
Jen left a message that they werent going to meet us at Expedition Everest. They just finished petting the goats, Jillian had blisters on her feet and they bought her crocs and were going to head out soon.
Paul and I walked over to Expedition Everest and instead of using our fastpasses just went on the single rider line that had two people ahead of us. We ended up in the same train a row apart from each other. The single rider line is a great idea and they should have it on more attractions.
We called Jen when we were done as the park was going to close in another 20 minutes anyway and met them at the front of the park in one of the shops. Paul bought some popcorn in a bucket and started feeding the ducks. Jillian got a cute charm necklace with a few charms. We all left the park together.
Back at Vistana we all started snacking on crackers and chips. We werent hungry up until that point after the big breakfast but by now it was around 5:30 and we were starting to get hungry.
Despite having reservations at OHana, Jen didnt want to go. She didnt think there would be anything she would eat there. Paul said he didnt mind skipping OHana either. So now we had to figure out where we were going to go for dinner.
I was able to log on remotely finally. Well, not the normal way, but I called the help desk and they helped me get on another way. I didnt plan to do too much, but wanted to go through some emails. Those sure pile up. I spent over an hour cleaning up emails. And I barely put a dent in it.
Paul went in the Jacuzzi in the bedroom for a bit. Jillian sat on the edge soaking her feet. Paul was in his bathing suit since Jillian was there too.
Jen and Kevin wanted to go to the Macaroni Grill. Paul doesnt like Macaroni Grill so we split up for dinner with plans to meet at Downtown Disney later.
Paul and I went over to Downtown Disney thinking maybe we would eat at Paradiso 37. Before heading there we drove down 535 the opposite way that we normally go just to see whats over there. We looked at a place called Joes Crab Shack which was pretty crowded for a Monday night, but decided against it and headed over to Downtown Disney. We easily parked near the Pleasure Island section and walked over to Paradiso 37. Not only were they taking walk ins but they were trying to drum up business by asking people walking by to take a look at the menu. We looked at the menu but decided to look around some more and maybe go to Cookes of Dublin. We walked over to Cookes of Dublin and decided we were more in the mood for this. I had fish and chips; Paul had a fish sandwich. We both had soda. Our total was a little over $27. Its counter service with self serve soda stations. Paul asked if I used the Tables in Wonderland Card and I didnt thinking that its counter service. I went up and asked and the woman called the manager over who said its no problem to apply the discount. He did some ringing on the register and handed me $5 and some change back. Our new total was $21.65. The food was very good and we both enjoyed it. The fish was fresh, crispy, and flaky. Most of the fries were crispy and it was all hot and fresh.
After dinner we walked around what is left of Pleasure Island. Many of the clubs that used to exist are standing empty. Its such a shame and a bit of an eyesore. Im surprised they havent either knocked those buildings down or done something else with them yet.
We walked through the relatively new T-Rex restaurant snapping pictures as we went. Jen called while we were there and didnt think they were going to meet us since the waitress at the Macaroni Grill told them everything was already closed. We told her everything is still open, were here, and the stores are open until 11. So they said theyd call when they arrived.
We headed over towards the MarketPlace and walked through Ghiradelli getting our free chocolate square. We spent some time in Arribas watching the person working there making a Mickey Mouse Crystal statue. I also went into Basin thinking I would get a bath bomb for the Jacuzzi in the villa. I didnt find one that I liked so didnt get one.
Jen and Kevin arrived and we went into World of Disney. Jillian got a few more charms for her charm necklace. Then Jen, Kevin, and Jillian went through Ghiradelli to get their chocolate square. Jillian didnt like it since they were giving out dark chocolate today. We all went through Arribas and then walked over to the Christmas store. They wanted to go to Goofys candy kitchen, but Paul and I said we would meet them back at Vistana. We took the little boat from the Market Place to Pleasure Island. It stopped at the West Side first and then we made it back to our car and drove back.
Once at Vistana, Jillian and I gave each other manicures and pedicures with my nail polish from Del Sol that changes colors in the sun. Jen decided that they would sleep in tomorrow and probably swim then head to Magic Kingdom mid afternoon.
Everyone little by little drifted off to bed.
Tuesday 10/6/09 Disney World
I was up bright and early but everyone else was still asleep. I got ready, did a few loads of laundry, worked on my trip report on the laptop and everyone was still sleeping. Once everyone was up we hung around the timeshare , had some breakfast and just acted silly.
Jen, Kevin, and Jillian were planning to play mini golf and meet us at Magic Kingdom a little later since they had the Halloween party at night. They bought tickets for Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party. Paul and I decided not to attend the party. With our annual passes we can easily hop to another park. The Halloween party is a separately ticketed event. I did it a few years ago and its cute, but Paul could take it or leave it.
Paul and I got to Magic Kingdom just after 11am. It was not crowded at all. It looks very nice with all the Halloween decorations.
Our first stop was Pirates of the Caribbean. There was no wait at all. There are two sides to the queue. Paul and I chose the right side. We were walking through the hallways down the queue and we were the only ones there. We didnt see another person until the ramp to the dock to get onto the boat. We each took our own row.
Its very hot out again so were cutting through stores every opportunity we get to have some air conditioning.
Our next stop was the Haunted Mansion which, once again, we just walked on.
The crowds are so light which is fantastic. If the weather was just 10-15 degrees cooler this would be perfect. Just our rotten luck to be here during a heat wave. Kelly said that last week the weather was beautiful and cool.
We walked over to the Hall of Presidents next. It was so cool and comfortable in there. You felt the air even before you walked through the doors. The show was a little more crowded than Ive seen it in the past. Im not sure if this was due to the addition of President Obama to update it or the fact that it was nice and cool in the theater. The show itself was good as usual.
We walked into Fantasy Land expecting to find all the crowds there, but they werent. The only attraction with a wait was Peter Pan as expected. That attraction is always crowded. It had a wait of 40 minutes which during a busy time would be fantastic since weve seen it with posted waits of 180 minutes, but for this time of year, 40 minutes is long. We got a fastpass instead at about 1:35 that was valid from 2:30-3:30.
We walked right into Philharmagic again to a fairly empty waiting area. When the doors opened we filed in with cast members asking people to move all the way down the row. Of course, there are always those that dont follow instructions and stop in the middle so we climbed over them. What was funny is the show was no where near full so one side of the theater was filled in and the other half was empty. We were in the first row and the only other people in our row were those in the middle that we had to climb over.
We met Jen, Kevin, and Jillian at the Plaza Restaurant for lunch. We had a reservation for 2:05. Paul and I were standing in front looking for them, and Jillian popped out the door and said Were here. They had already gotten seated and were waiting for us.
Jillian had one of the kids meals the grilled chicken strips with fries which also came with a few apple slices, soup (she had chicken and rice) and dessert (she had ice cream). When they brought her ice cream it was very cute; a scoop of ice cream in the bowl with an upside down cone to look like a hat and two thin mint chocolate cookies to look like Mickey Mouse ears on the side of the hat.
I had the cheese steak sandwich with French fries.
Paul had the Club sandwich with broccoli slaw
Jen had the chicken sandwich with fries
Kevin had a cheeseburger with fries.
We all had soda and the waitress was quick to bring us refills. She wasnt that quick with bringing out other requests such as honey mustard or more ketchup. Actually when the food first came out everyone except Kevin was served. She said shed be right back with his so we just assumed she couldnt carry it all. However it took another maybe 5 minutes for her to return.
We all enjoyed our food and for once everyone cleaned their plates. Or maybe we were just hungry. Our share of lunch was about $27.
After lunch Jen stopped to buy Jillian a new misty fan since hers broke. The parade was about to come through and we wanted to head to Adventure Land so we were telling them to hurry up. Paul, Jillian and I went across the street before the parade but Jen and Kevin were stuck on the other side. We ended up watching the parade since we had to wait for them. Once the parade ended they came across and we headed towards Adventure Land.
Our first stop was the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. No wait at all so we got right on.
We headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean Next. Jillian and I were in one row with some strange man and Jen, Kevin and Paul were in the row in front of us. Jillian kept her eyes closed through parts of it and I gave her a running commentary of what was coming up and what she can open her eyes for. The man in our row was probably sorry to be sitting with us.
Jillian wanted to go on again and since there was no wait we went right on. She still kept her eyes closed for some of it. Paul went to get fast passes for Splash Mountain while we rode Pirates again.
Paul, Kevin and I rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and walked right on. When we got off Jen and I rode Big Thunder Mountain. It is so nice to be able to get right on without a wait.
Paul, Jen, Kevin, and Jillian went on Splash with their fast passes while I waited with the bags and cameras. I tried to take a picture when they came down the big hill but think I ended up with pictures of strangers instead.
We took the train to ToonTown. It was so hot on the train until we started moving.
Once in ToonTown we went on the Barnstormer, again walking right on. Then we walked through Minnies House.
We went on the Tea Cups next. Kevin couldnt go on since he cant do spinning rides. Jen, Jillian and I were in one tea cup and Paul was in his own tea cup since he spins like a maniac.
Jen, Kevin, and Jillian picked up their bracelets for the Halloween Party and Jillian changed into her Little Mermaid costume and Jen put on her Minnie Mouse ears.
We got on line for Pooh which had maybe a 10 minute wait listed and I dont think it even was that long.
Snow White had a 0 minute wait posted and we walked right on. I sat with Jillian who kept her eyes closed through much of it.
Peter Pan still had a long wait so we skipped it and went on Small World instead.
We walked over to TomorrowLand and walked onto the TTA. With Space Mountain closed for renovations, the TTA was pretty dull since you rode past a lot of construction walls. It was kind of interesting when you rode through Space Mountain since the lights were all on.
We went on Buzz Lightyear next. I rode with Jillian. Paul rode with Jen and Kevin didnt ride. I must have hit a good target since somehow I ended up with 328,000 points. Thats the highest I have ever gotten on this.
It was now 7pm so Paul and I had to leave since the Halloween Party starts at 7. They wanted us to stay but we didnt want to spend an extra $100 for another 5 hours. We wanted to hop over to MGM.
We just missed the ferry to the TTC when we came out so had to wait for the next one. Then we took the tram to the car and drove to MGM. We arrived a little before 8pm. Paul found a great parking spot in the first row so we just walked to the entrance.
At the wait times board it showed Toy Story with a 60 minute wait so we went to Tower of Terror instead and walked right on. Then Paul did the single rider line for Rock and Roller Coaster.
Paul got a big giant turkey leg at one of the stands and had it wrapped up to go.
We walked over to Toy Story and the wait was listed as 30 minutes so we got in line. It was very crowded and took about 40 minutes before we got onto our car. While we were in line waiting there was an annoying family with two young boys behind us. I know kids get impatient but these boys were jumping and hitting each other and ended up kicking and hitting me a few times. The parents didnt say a word. The little boy said he was sorry twice but still kept doing it. The ride itself is adorable and I really liked it. By the time we got off, the park was closed (it closed at 9:30).
We were starving since we havent had dinner. We drove to Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney and got two sandwiches to go an Original and a Full Montagu. We brought them back to Vistana and had our dinner.
We were so sweaty from being out in the heat all day that we had to shower again.
I went to bed by just after midnight and Jen, Kevin, and Jillian werent back yet.
Wednesday 10/7/09 Disney World
I was up early and got ready and did some laundry. Everyone else was sleeping. Once everyone got up and ready we left for Epcot. We didnt leave until after 10am.
Normally in Disney I carry my Disney tote bag with all sorts of stuff along with frozen water and snacks. With it being so hot out and us carrying more frozen water than we normally would the bag was very heavy. I also think the fact that its a basic tote without a lot of pockets to distribute the weight of the contents makes it heavier. Paul packed up the laptop bag instead. The laptop was safely parked on an end table in Vistana anyway. So he packed everything in that bag and carried it. The laptop bag could be carried either as a knapsack or on your shoulder. I dont like the idea of not having anything on me so took one of my wristlets just to carry my chapstick, cell phone, room key, license and some money. Thoughout the day as we drank the water, the bag got lighter and lighter.
We parked all the way at the end of the row in the parking lot. I was very surprised that Paul didnt pull out and pull back in hoping to get a closer spot, but he parked all the way at the end.
Our first stop was the Land for Soarin. Its very hot out again. The news said we would be breaking records with the heat today. The standby wait was 30 minutes so we got on line. It ended up being more like 45 minutes. The wait went by quickly as Jillian, Jen, and I played a cute game they knew called What am I thinking of? One person thinks of a person or animal and the others ask questions to try to figure out who it is. We all enjoyed Soarin and it was a little after noon by the time we exited.
We walked into Figment which was a walk on for a quick ride.
We knew we needed to head towards Germany for our lunch reservations at the Biergarten. Paul volunteered to walk over to Test Track to get fast passes for us to go on later.
Jen, Kevin, Jillian and I took the boat from Future World to World showcase. I forgot that there are two boats with two different routes and we got on the one that only went to Morocco instead of the one to Germany. So we walked from Morocco to Germany. We checked in and were given a pager. The pager went off within 5 minutes, but since Paul wasnt there yet, we had to wait before they would seat us.
Once Paul arrived about 1:40 (he took the correct boat that went to Germany) we were seated at a table for 10 with 5 other people who were already eating. They were friendly and we said hello. One couple was getting married tomorrow. The food was very good. We all enjoyed our food except maybe Jillian who didnt eat too much. Our share of the bill was $44.
We went to Norway and got in line for Maelstrom next. The wait was posted as 20 minutes and it ended up being about 15.
We wandered into Mexico and were able to get right onto the Gran Fiesta boat ride with no wait.
We made our way over to Test Track and used our fast passes. Good thing we had them as the stand by wait was 90 minutes. The single rider line had only a 5 minute wait. Jillian wanted to go on again so I explained that in order to go on now wed have to use single rider and she may end up sitting in a car with strangers but that we would all be in a car maybe right ahead or behind her. She said she was OK with that, but Jen was worried and didnt want to do it.
We went on Mission Space next. This had a 10 minute wait listed but wasnt even that long. Jen and Paul went on the Orange (more intense) side; while Kevin, Jillian and I went on the Green (less intense) side. We had a lot of fun and Jillian was excited to be the pilot. Im not sure if Kevin enjoyed the ride that much as he gets motion sick pretty easily and he looked a little green when we came off. Jillian and I played the space game and sent a postcard while waiting for Jen and Paul to come off their ride. Jen wasnt too thrilled with the spinning side.
We walked into Ellens Energy Adventure next. Jen, Kevin and Jillian didnt stay. They wanted to go back to Norway and go on Maelstrom again. The rest of the days report is just what Paul and I did.
After Ellens Energy Adventure we headed over to Ice Station cool. The watermelon flavored soda from China is our favorite.
The Nemo ride had a 5 minute wait but was basically a walk on. We walked right into our clam shell.
We walked towards World Showcase. Jen didnt want to go to Tutto Italia for dinner. Paul wasnt sure if he wanted another big sit down meal either. He wanted to sample some of the snacks at the booths while we wandered.
I finally got my Grey Goose Slush Lemonade. It was very tasty and refreshing and not very strong. While I got on line for the slush he walked ahead so he could stop at the bathroom.
As Im walking to meet up with him, I ran into Sue Holland. For those of you who dont know Sue, shes famous on several Disney Websites and posts detailed reviews of her exploits at Disney. She lives in Florida so gets to spend a lot of time at Disney World. When I saw her I probably scared her just calling out her name. I recognized her from pictures she has posted. I introduced myself and she remembered me from some of my reports. We chatted for about 10 minutes. Its so weird to meet people for the first time and feel like you know them so well already. Sue was just as nice in person as you imagine from reading her reports.
When I met Paul I called Jen to see what they were doing. They were tired and getting ready to leave the park around 7pm.
At the New Zealand booth, Paul got a seared scallop to try. I didnt like it but he said it was good. Im not a huge fan of scallops.
Paul got a spicy tuna roll from the Japan booth. I dont like spicy tuna so didnt want any.
We saw the 7:30 showing of the American Adventure. It was nice and cool in the theater. The seats were not as comfortable as the ones in the Hall of Presidents, but Paul still managed to doze off a few times.
We watched some of the Eat to the Beat concert when we exited the show. I think the performers were Better than Ezra.
We looked at the menu for Tutto Italia but we decided against it. Paul was starting to get blisters on his feet and was limping along a bit. We were going to take the boat back to Future World but they stopped running at 7:30.
In Italy we got a Canneloni from the booth. This was good and we shared it. I was happy to have Paul here for the food and wine festival. Last time I was here during this, I ended up wasting a lot of food since I wanted to try different things but not necessarily finish them all. This way we could share.
We stopped in Norway and I got a Rice Cream and a School bread to go to have for dessert later.
Back in Future World, we went on Spaceship earth just before 9pm.
We headed out of the park to go to the car and head back to the villa.
We stopped at the Hess Gas station by downtown Disney and picked up two twelve packs of soda and a 24 pack of Dasani water.
We stopped at Chick FilA for dinner to go. I got chicken fingers. Paul got a few chicken sandwiches. We shared waffle fries. Dinner was about $16. Pauls eyes are bigger than his stomach as he wanted 3 sandwiches but only ended up eating maybe 1 of them. When we got upstairs we had trouble with the keys and couldnt get in. Luckily, since Jen was already in, she opened the door for us. We ended up using the luggage cart to bring all the beverages and stuff upstairs rather than trying to lug it ourselves.
Our dinner was good. I ate the rice cream for dessert. After hanging out a bit, we showered again since its been so hot and we felt disgusting. We went to bed a bit earlier than usual and were in bed by midnight.
Thursday 10/8/09 Disney World
Today was just Paul and I. Jen, Kevin, and Jillian decided to take it easy today and play Bingo at the resort, swim, go to the outlets, and then DownTown Disney. Their original plan was to meet us later at MGM (Hollywood Studios) but by the time they got finished with the outlets it was too late for them to come to MGM.
I was up early as usual, got ready, and did some more laundry. I really like having the washer and dryer right in the villa.
Once everyone was up we hung out, had breakfast and just didnt get going until after 11. This is so weird since Im used to going closer to opening time of the parks. I guess with the light crowds were still getting everything done so its not that big of a deal. Also, with the heat being so bad, Im not in as much of a rush to be outside.
Paul has a few blisters on his feet from all the walking were doing. Whenever we come to Disney, he gets blisters on his baby toes.
We got to MGM a little before 12. Our first stop was to pick up fast passes for Toy Story Midway Mania. We got the tickets at 12:10 and they were valid from 8-9 tonight.
We did the Great Movie Ride next. When we went through the underworld scene and the gangster didnt join our car we couldnt figure out why they eliminated that and assumed it was cutbacks. Then in the Western room, the bank robber joined our car. We havent seen the Western version of this attraction in years so we were very happy.
At 1pm we went to the American Idol Experience. This was very well done. There are auditions that are held separately and at each show, there are three contestants. The finale has all the finalists from the various shows for that day. They also show clips from the real American Idols. The audience members all get to vote for who wins. I thought the funniest comment was made by the host (not the Ryan Seacrest type guy, but the one who talks to the audience before he comes on). He was explaining how we should cheer for all the contestants, cheer for the judges if they say something nice, but to boo them if they say something mean. He said something like people dont want to boo people at Disney, but now that weve bought Marvel were a little tougher. Im paraphrasing, but the way he delivered the line was very funny.
Its still very hot out. We went to Muppets next. This was more crowded than I have seen this show in ages. Im not sure where all these crowds came from. My guess is with Columbus Day weekend coming up some people got a head start.
After the Muppets we stopped in the Writers Stop. Its nice and cool in there and a good place to spend a few minutes. We saw a carrot cake cookie so got that to share. It was pretty tasty. It was like a big soft oreo but the outside cookies were carrot cake and the inside cream was made out of that cream cheese type carrot cake frosting.
We got fast passes for the Little Mermaid which were valid from 3:40 3:50 and we headed into the Animation show. This also was crowded but we were able to get into the next showing. After the movie and explanation of character creation, we took a picture with Sorcerer Mickey. This was inside and there were organized lines for Sorcerer Mickey. They moved him here rather than the theater he used to do this in. There was also a line for the characters from Up but we havent seen that movie yet so didnt join that line.
We also played the little game where you answer a few questions to see what character you are most like. I ended up being most like Belle and Paul was Aladdin.
It was just about 3:40 when we exited so we headed to the Little Mermaid to use our Fast Passes. We were let into the holding room which ended up packed and we saw the 4pm showing. It was very cute but a quick show. We were out by 4:15 or so and headed over to the 4:30 showing of Lights Motors Action. We enjoyed the show itself but it was very hot at the outside theater.
After the show we stopped again in the Writers Stop to cool off. I spoke to my sister and this is when they decided not to come to MGM at all today and that we should try to meet up for dinner at DownTown Disney when we were finished at MGM. We talked about TRex as a dinner option and they were going to go over there and look around.
Since we didnt have any lunch and knew that dinner wouldnt be until at least 8:30 we got a pretzel with cheese dipping sauce and a bottle of coke to share. We sat in the Commissary to eat our snack.
We got in line for the BackStage tour. We waited a bit and were in the show about 6:15. This was good but once again hot being outside.
We headed over to the American Idol Experience hoping to get in for the finale. We arrived around 6:50 but the line was for standby only as the theater was full. They tried to get a few more people in but we didnt make it. They also broadcast the show outside on a big jumbotron so we watched from one of the outside tables. It was still hot but the sun was going down so not as unbearable as it was earlier.
We had another Small World moment. As were watching one of the contestants was this guy named Gustavo who was on our cruise on the Freedom of the Seas last week and he participated in Karaoke on the ship. Hes from Venezuela and cant speak English well, but can sing in English. When he sang on the cruise, he got a standing ovation. He sang Unchained Melody. He was the overall winner. The finale show lasted almost an hour with 7 contestants performing.
It was now time for our fast pass at Toy Story so we headed over there. The standby line was still 80 minutes so we were very glad to have the fast passes. This is such a cute ride we really liked it.
We called Jen when we were leaving MGM and they already put the name in at TRex and the table should be ready in about 20 minutes. We headed to the car and drove over to Pleasure Island. At some point during the day, I tripped over a curb and hurt my ankle. Ive basically been ignoring it all day but it starting bothering me again. I mentioned it to Paul and we looked at it in the light in the car, and my ankle is all swollen. We got a great spot right in front of TRex. Our table was ready when we got there.
We shared an appetizer of Colossal Nachos. This was huge and very good.
Jillian had the kids Macaroni and Cheese
Jen had a chicken sandwich with fries
Kevin had chicken quesadillas
Paul had the appetizer sampler with ribs
I had the Mahi Mahi tacos.
I wasnt thrilled with my dish, but everyone else enjoyed theirs. I had some of Pauls food. All the dishes were so huge no one finished their food. Our share of the bill was $64.
We drove over to the Market Place and walked around the Christmas store. Jen bought a bunch of things.
Then we went back to the villa around 11pm. We filled the Jacuzzi and Jen and I sat on the edge with our feet in the water. Jillian joined us and after a little while she put on her bathing suit and just went in.
Friday 10/9/09 Disney World
As is the norm, Im up and ready early while everyone else sleeps. Its OK since Ive been using that time to do laundry, work on my trip report, etc. If the parks were really crowded and we werent able to get on things quickly, I probably would have pushed everyone to get up earlier and get moving.
Our original plan was to head to Epcot today. Jen has been riding in the car with Paul and Ive been riding with Kevin and Jillian to the parks since Paul and I have annual passes and dont have to pay for parking. On our way there, Jen calls and suggests MGM instead since they missed it yesterday. Fine with me so we head to MGM instead.
Paul rented me an ECV (Electronic Convenience Vehicle basically a scooter) since my ankle is still swollen and Im walking much slower than usual. Paul knew something was wrong when he was walking faster than me. It was $65 to rent but you get $20 back at the end of the day when you return it so it ends up costing $45.
Today is very hot again. I scooted over to Toy Story to pick up fast passes for everyone while they headed towards the Great Movie Ride. They were sidetracked by the characters by the Big Hat. When I came back we waited to meet a few of the characters.
Then we got in line for the Great Movie ride. There was no line so we got right on. Everyone enjoyed the ride. We had the gangster side.
We headed into the Little Mermaid next with minimal wait, just until the next show started. I had a little trouble backing the ECV into the parking spot in the theater and kept hitting the wall. I gave up and let Paul park it.
We headed into the Magic of Disney Animation. This was also a walk on. The park is much emptier today than it was yesterday. After the show where they describe how Mushu came to be Mushu we took pictures with Sorcerer Mickey and the characters from the movie Up, and then went into the drawing class. Everyone was getting hungry so Paul went over to Sci Fi to see if there were any openings available for lunch. We drew Tinker Bell. Mine ended up like a scary cross between a Monkey and a Halloweenish Tinker Bell. I dont know what Jens scribble ended up looking like but nowhere like a character of any sort. Jillian started crying because her drawing didnt come out very good either. The woman teaching you how to draw the character told everyone before and during the class its for fun and its OK if it doesnt look perfect. The only one whose drawing came out good is Kevin, but like Jen said he went to four years of Art school. Paul called while we were in there and Sci Fi could take us now. By the time we got out of the drawing class, browsed the shop, and got over there our table was given away.
We ended up eating in the Commissary instead of waiting. I had the Asian salad which was surprising good. Paul had a burger and fries. Lunch was just over $17. Jen had a kids chicken nugget meal. Jillian had a kids chicken nugget meal. Kevin had a burger and fries. After we ate Jen was feeling nauseous so we gave her chewable Rolaids. I pack everything with me.
We headed over to Muppets next. Jillian didnt want to wear her 3D glasses so the show looked pretty blurry for her but she said she enjoyed it anyway.
We headed over to Star Tours next. I told Jen she shouldnt go on if shes still nauseous, but she didnt want to let that ruin her fun. I figured Kevin would be fine since he was OK on Mission Space (the less intense side which is also a simulator). So we head in to Star Tours. I debated not riding since last time I went on I didnt like it that much, but went on. It was a lot of fun. It was very bumpy and jerky but nothing too bad. Apparently it was a bit much for Jen and Kevin though since they both didnt feel good after riding.
We went to the 4:30 Lights Motors Action show and Kevin didnt make it into the stadium as he stopped at the bathroom. He sent Jen a text that he felt terrible and wanted to go back to the timeshare. Jen asked Jillian if she wanted to go back with her and Kevin or stay in the park with me and Paul. She wanted to stay with us so Jen and Kevin left. We left a bit before the end of the show to avoid the crowds leaving the show.
We headed over to Toy Story to use our fast passes but unfortunately, the ride was having technical difficulties. We waited a bit to see if it came back up. Jillian was amused because Paul was squirting her with water and pouring water on her. At one point I started video taping this to show Jen how much fun Jillian was having with us.
Since it was right there we walked into the Narnia exhibit. None of us saw the movie and so we werent too interested but it was air conditioned.
Jillian told us she wanted to go on Rock & Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. We planned to get to those after American Idol.
We saw the 6pm American Idol show. It was not crowded. The theater was maybe 1/3 filled. We were in the back. At one point they ask everyone to stand up and clap along. Jillian is shy and doesnt like to do any sort of group participation, but I convinced her to because I was afraid if she sat in her seat like a blob while everyone was up having fun, the camera would look at her. To our surprise, she got up clapping and dancing along and ended up on camera. My cell phone rang during the show and it was Jen. Kevin was feeling a little bit better but still needed to rest but she wanted to come back to the park. I was telling her the fun were having and that Jillian wants to go on Rock & Roller coaster and Tower of Terror. Jen was nervous about Rock & Roller Coaster and didnt want her to go on. Since shes the mother I told Jillian we couldnt go on since Jen was worried it would make her sick and she wouldnt be able to have fun. We all voted for contestant #3 and he made it to the finale.
We headed back over to Toy Story and it was up and running so we got into the Fast Pass line. We had a great time. Jillian loved the ride. Since we still had Jen & Kevins fast passes for earlier, we saved them for Jillian to go on with Jen when she got here. When we came out Jen called and was on the tram to the park. We met her by the Brown Derby and headed over to Tower of Terror. As we were walking through the queue Jen said she wished she didnt call us before because then Jillian would have ridden Rock & Roller Coaster and probably enjoyed it and just told her afterwards. Shes a nervous nelly. Jen almost chickened out of Tower of Terror. We convinced her to ride. Jen was screaming so loud we were all laughing at her. The ride stopped and Paul was scolded for having the video camera out. Jillian was scared but made it through the ride OK.
Jen and Jillian used their fast pass for Toy Story while Paul rode Rock & Roller Coaster.
We headed over to Fantasmic next even though we have already missed the first 10 minutes. Everyone enjoyed the rest of the show.
We returned the ECV which was pretty quick to do then got on the tram to the parking lot. I rode back with Jen & Jillian since Jen was worried about finding Vistana. We got back and were all starving and ready for dinner, but couldnt decide where to go.
We decided to go to Buffalo Wild Wings in the Crossings. I had 8 boneless wings. Paul had Ribs and Wings. We had a basket of onion rings and a basket of potato wedges for the table. Kevin had boneless wings. Jen had a flatbread and Jillian had kids boneless wings. We all had soda. Our share of the bill was $38.
Back at Vistana I pulled out some of our suitcases and started putting things in. Packing to go home isnt as organized as packing to go on vacation. Everything just gets put in whatever suitcase it fits in with no order to go home.
My ankle is still swollen.
Saturday 10/10/09 Disney World
I was up early as usual while everyone else slept in. When my sister woke up she asked me if I ever like to sleep late? I told her I did sleep late today I didnt wake up until 7:30. For me thats sleeping in.
We headed to Magic Kingdom a bit before noon. We made a stop at 7-11 for Kevin to get Red Bull and Krispy Crme donuts (the breakfast of champions).
When we got to Magic Kingdom it was very hot and crowded. The park is open until 1am tonight. We tried renting an ECV but they were out of them so they put on us a wait list.
Our plan was to take the train to ToonTown so we can walk to Fantasy Land and get fast passes for Peter Pan. Jillian wanted to ride Snow White. When the train stopped at Frontier Land we saw the line for Splash Mountain which was very long. Jillian wanted to ride Splash Mountain so Jen, Kevin, and Jillian got off. We stayed with our original plan. We got off the train in Toon Town. I limped into Fantasy Land and it was a zoo. It was a sea of strollers parked everywhere and it was packed with people. I dont remember seeing Fantasy Land this bad in ages. The wait for Peter Pan was 70 minutes. The fast passes were being distributed and were valid at 5:45 so we got them.
Paul was worried about me limping around all day and making my ankle worse. Also, with the crowds like this we would spend much of the day on line in the sweltering heat. Not our idea of fun. Since the park was open until 1am we wanted to hop over to Epcot and come back later. I told Jen our plan. They were going to stay at Magic Kingdom since they dont have hopping privileges.
We asked at the ECV rental area if they could check if Epcot had any available before we went traipsing over. They called and had them available so we took the monorail to the TTC and switched for the Epcot Monorail. We were able to rent the ECV with no problem. It wasnt too crowded walking around Epcot.
We started in the Land pavilion and Soarin, as expected, had a long wait. We skipped it and went on Living with the Land which was a walk on.
Then we headed towards World Showcase because we wanted to snack on some of the food offered at the booths for the food and wine festival. At the Ireland Booth we shared the lobster and scallop fishermans pie for $5.50. Paul liked it but I wasnt crazy about it. From the France booth we shared the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes for $4.50. We both enjoyed this. I also got the Grand Marnier Slush for $9.50. This was very good and refreshing on such a hot day. I liked the Grand Marnier better than the lemon one I tried the other day. We walked around the countries browsing the shops and booths and just wandering around. When we got to Germany we got a pretzel and a Coke.
We were planning to take the boat back to Future World from Germany but they already had two wheelchairs on board and werent able to accommodate the ECV so we walked the rest of the way back.
It started drizzling while we were headed back so we detoured through Mouse Gear and by the time we exited at the other side the rain stopped.
We went on the Single Rider line at Test Track and were on very quickly.
We went into Innoventions and played the cutest game. Unfortunately, I forgot what it was called. We both had to run in place, jump, and do a victory dance. We did this together standing in a booth and were taped doing it. Our images were them put into a video game that we played. It used our motions for running and jumping. At the end it showed our victory dance. We both got such a kick out of this.
We stopped at Guest Relations to see if we could make an ADR for Cape May Caf tonight. We werent in the mood for the Princess Dinner at 1900 Park Faire. I know you dont go for the food but for the characters, but we were supposed to have Cape May last night but with Kevin not feeling well we missed it. We both were in the mood for that. The cast member said all hes showing available is 9pm and that we could show up early and try to get in sooner. He gave me a print out confirmation for our reservation. Jen, Kevin, and Jillian were going to keep the reservation at 1900 Park Faire.
We took the Monorail to the TTC, the tram to the car, and then drove to the Beach Club. The guard at the Beach Club was very diligent about ensuring people didnt come that didnt belong or have a reservation. He didnt have our name on his reservation list since we just made it, but I showed him the print out from Epcot and he was happy to let us in. We valet parked the car. Normally, its $10 but with Tables in Wonderland you can valet park for free so it would just cost us the tip to the valet guy.
We checked in at Cape May Caf a little after 7:30. There was a long line just to check in. They gave us a beeper and said they would do their best to get us in early. I told them whatever they can do would be great. We walked across the lobby towards the gift shop and didnt even step into the gift shop and our beeper went off and we were seated.
This was the best meal we had this week. Crab Legs were included on the buffet. They didnt have that last time we were here. We enjoyed the crab legs, clams, peel and eat shrimp, etc. Our waitress was pretty good about coming by to refill our soda and take the dirty plates and buckets. I like how they have these little metal buckets for the clams.
There were two dessert buffet areas, one when you first walk into the restaurant and the other on one of the sides of the regular buffet area. In the regular dessert buffet area, they had this apple cobbler type of dessert. It was warm with apples and crumbly bits on top. As Im standing near it, I suddenly smell the most delicious smell. The same smell in Mickeys Philharmagic when they have the desserts going by kind of apple and cinnamon. So of course I had to get some. I bring it to our table and ask Paul to smell the apple dessert and tell me what it smells like to him. He says the same thing Philharmagic. It tasted OK, but smelled better than it tasted. Paul laughed at me because I kept smelling it rather than eating it.
We ended up chatting with the family sitting next to us. The grandparents are from NJ, but now live in Florida half of the year. Our bill came out to $55.
We drove to the Polynesian and parked there and took the tram to Magic Kingdom. We called Jen to see what their plan was. Kevin didnt want to go back to the park, Jen was indifferent but Jillian wanted to go to the park. Jen and I talked about meeting up so Jillian could come with Paul and I to Magic Kingdom while Jen and Kevin go to Downtown Disney. They were thinking of going to House of Blues. Jen was concerned that Jillian couldnt stay up with us if we stayed until the park closed so they were just going to go to Downtown Disney together.
Paul and I got to the Magic Kingdom and were able to get an ECV.
We headed to Tomorrow Land though a back walkway. A parade was about to start so they opened up this back way to alleviate some of the crowds. We went over to Carousel of Progress and got right on. Now that its later, the temperature has dropped and its fairly comfortable in the park.
We headed over to Fantasy Land next to use our fastpasses for Peter Pan. Im glad they let you use the fast passes after you time slot. Its an odd experience going on the attractions in an ECV. The cast members in general come get you and bring you in a different way. Everyone is very polite and usually ask if Im able to transfer and walk at all.
We went on the Haunted Mansion next. We got on where you normally exit. Since we have ridden before they gave us the option of skipping the part in the stretching room. We skipped it since I was worried about people accidentally banging into my ankle.
We saw a lot of people wearing this glowing skull thing around their neck that looked like it was opening and closing its mouth. You could wear it or hang it on a door. It was only $15 and took regular AA batteries so we got one.
We browsed some of the shops on Main Street. We bought a hanging Halloween decoration, a rice krispy treat, and cotton candy.
We headed out of the Magic Kingdom around 12:05. I called Jen to see if they were still at Down Town Disney and she said they didnt go. Once they left the restaurant Jillian fell asleep in the car, so they just went back to the villa.
We stopped for gas on the way back so we wouldnt have to do it in the morning and then went back to Vistana. We did some more packing when we got in.
Sunday 10/11/09 Fly Home
We finished our packing in the morning. Jen, Kevin, and Jillian left by around 9 since their flight was earlier than ours. We flew down checking three bags, but going home we needed to check four. I packed an extra duffel just in case. Flying down on Jet Blue we had the first bag free each so only had to pay for the third bag. Flying home on Continental you have to pay for each bag. It was $80 for our luggage to go home.
We checked out and did the airline check in at the kiosk in the lobby. Our bill at Vistana was $0. Its nice to get a bill that you dont have to pay anything. Well, I guess weve already paid for it, but its still nice to see.
We headed to Down Town Disney and stopped at Earl of Sandwich. We got a breakfast sandwich (bacon, egg, and cheese) to share now for breakfast and also an Original and Cannonballs (meatballs) to take on the plane to eat later.
We got to the airport and checked in, dropped off our luggage, went through security and got to our gate. Our plane was very big it had something like 45 rows. It took a while to get everyone on but we only left a little later than our original departure time of 12:30
The flight was smooth and they even served lunch. A turkey sandwich, a bag of Fritos, and a Kit Kat. I brought the turkey sandwich home for Kiki (our dog) and ate my sandwich from Earl of Sandwich.
We landed on time, got our luggage, called Corporate Park and were in our car pretty quickly. On the way home we stopped at Hooters to pick up boneless wings for me, regular wings for Paul, and lots of tots to share. Even though it was a bit early for dinner we brought it home and will heat it up later when were ready for dinner.
We got home and Kiki was thrilled to see us. She was jumping all over the place. It was so cute. Our dogsitter took good care of her and left us a note letting us know that everything went well while we were gone. We brought Kiki outside while we unloaded the car and hooked her up to this extra leash we have around a tree. Somehow she got loose and we had to chase her around the neighborhood. Luckily, she is very friendly and ran over to one of the neighbors who was outside with her kids so they held onto her.
We started unpacking and going through over two weeks of accumulated mail after playing with Kiki for a while.
This was a great trip. I really like having Vacation Part 1 and Vacation Part 2.
I now have a greater appreciation for what people in wheelchairs deal with. Although the cast members tried to make everything as easy as possible, other guests were sometimes rude and would walk right in front of the ECV and just act like you didnt exist. Not all people as some guests were very helpful especially when I ran into a wall or a pole.
It was great spending time with Jen, Kevin, and Jillian at Disney World. We dont see them that often and this was a way to spend some quality family time together. We arent used to travelling with children so it made some of the attractions that weve been on numerous times seem new seeing them through Jillians eyes.
It was also great meeting up with Kelly and Jonathan on the day our trip overlapped. Our time together was too short so hopefully our next overlapping trip will overlap for longer.
It was a pleasant surprise to run into and finally meet Sue Holland in person after reading her trip reports for years and feeling like I already know her.
Staying at the timeshare was great. Each time I go I am reminded how glad I am that we bought it. We were able to freeze water bottles to bring to the parks. We had most breakfasts in the timeshare which was a money and time saver. We were able to do laundry and go home with clean clothes. We also had space to spread out and enjoy time together. If we were just in two hotel rooms we wouldnt have had that hang out time and space.
Getting the laptop was a great idea. I was able to type up notes as I went. Im sure I still forgot some things, but it made things much easier. We also copied the videos and pictures over as we went.
We enjoy cruising. It took us many years to finally try a cruise and now we really enjoy it.
We enjoyed the Flow Rider on the cruise more than I thought we would. Its going to be hard to cruise on a smaller ship that doesnt have one. I hope they bring the Liberty of the Seas up to Bayonne NJ to sail from there. That would be perfect not having to fly and still being able to get on a ship with a Flow Rider.
I am going to try to pack a little less on future trips. Although I wore just about everything I brought, I probably could have gotten away with a little less. Its not the extra money to fly with extra bags since I will pay it for the convenience of having what I want, but its a bit of a hassle to pack and unpack and lug around so many bags. If the trip is Disney World and not a cruise, there is a lot less to pack. I think Paul was correct when he said we should have done Disney first and then the cruise. We also should have spent the night before the cruise in Port Canaveral to give us a chance to explore that area a little more. Since I didnt want to take a chance with flight delays we flew down the night before the cruise. So we spent a night at Disney, 7 nights on the cruise, and then the next 7 nights back at Disney. Next year when we go on Oasis of the Sea we will do that spend a week in Disney first and then get on the cruise. Prior to that trip I have already booked two Disney World trips. I have to get my moneys worth on the annual pass
Feel free to ask any questions as I love talking about my trips and helping others with theirs.