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Thread: Helen Tillger - WDW (25 May - 2 Jun, 1996) - Old Key West Resort / Disney Institute

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    Helen Tillger - WDW (25 May - 2 Jun, 1996) - Old Key West Resort / Disney Institute

    • Time of Year: Spring
    • Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
    • Resort: Old Key West Resort , Disney Institute
    • Accommodations: 2 Standard Rooms
    • Ages Represented in Group: Adult
    • WDW Experience Represented in Group: A mix of Veteran, Rookie, and DVC Member
    • Comments: Helen's narrative of her trip is very detailed. It describes the trip of five adults to WDW...kind of like St. Elmo's Fire does Walt Disney World. Lots of fun...and very informative. During the time at WDW, the group stayed at Old Key West Resort and the Disney Institute.

    Walt Disney World Trip Report (May 25, 1996 - June 2, 1996)

    Quick Summary: 5 adults (mid twenties) on a 9 day trip to WDW. Staying at the Vacation Club (Old Key West) and in a bungalow at the Disney Institute (we didn't take any classes). This was a leisurely trip with a lot of sitting by the pool and a lot of golf. If you are looking for hard facts, this may not be the trip report for you, but if you are just looking for a vicarious trip to WDW, and you don't mind learning a little about us, dive right in!

    Who's Who:

    Helen - 25 years old. I am the head Disney nut on the trip. My family belongs to the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) and they are being nice enough to let my friends and I use a big chunk of this year's points. This is my 8th trip to WDW. Dan and Matt have declared me the Tour Guide / Travel Agent and have been giving me a hard time for weeks about having an itinerary for the entire trip. They think I am nuts when I say there is so much to do that you really can use a schedule. They also scoff when I tell them to make sure they bring comfy shoes.

    Dan - 25 years old. My good pal from college. He's never been to Disney World or even to Florida. In fact, he's only been on a plane once before. Big time Travel Rookie. Dan is a really big goofball (I mean that in a good way). He is a little kid in a 25 year old body. I have been trying to get him to come to Disney World with me for years. He is the sort of guy who has the potential to really get into the Disney spirit. (If properly influenced)

    Matt - 26 years old. My roommate, old friend of Dan's. Matt is a generally good guy, a bit on the serious side sometimes, tends to be restrained, but he does have his share of crazy moments. He is a potential wet blanket because he isn't really a part of the whole college crowd who is getting together down in Florida. I'm glad he's coming but I am really surprised that he wanted to come on vacation with the rest of us goofballs. He has been to WDW before but not since they added EPCOT and the Studios. He is a little skeptical that there will be enough things to do to keep us entertained for 9 days. I suspect he's going just for the golf courses.

    Sarah - 25 years old (turns 26 during the trip). Sarah was my roommate in college. She is prone to extreme silly behavior when around me. She is almost as big a Disney fan as I. This is our third trip to WDW together. Sarah, Dan and I were like the three musketeers for most of college - when the three of us are together, the silliness potential increases exponentially. Sarah is my cheif co-planner, together we made a list of everything we wanted to do and when we wanted to do it, now all we have to do is get everyone to go along with our plan.

    Pat - 26 years old. Pat is Dan's old roommate from college and is married to Sarah. Pat claims that he is not even close to being as weird as the rest of us but that is a big joke. He's just as weird if not worse. He also claims that he has little or no interest in returning repeatedly to WDW but this is his 2nd trip there with me and his 3rd with Sarah. (Since 1993)

    In fact, this whole trip got off the ground because Pat suggested it.

    Pat and Sarah live in NJ about 100 miles away from the rest of us so we don't see them a whole lot anymore. However, we do tend to go on adventures and trips with them every now and then. We always end up having a great time. These excursions usually turn into me & Sarah fighting Dan and Pat for control of the activities. It should be interesting to see what happens with Matt thrown into the mix.

    Saturday, May 25

    Dan, Matt and I left from Philadelphia on the 8:45 AM flight to Orlando. The flight was really quite unremarkable despite Dan's very white knuckles. (The Value Jet crash was just about a week before our trip so he was very tense.) I think the highlight was during the meal. We got these little bowls of Wheaties and Dan was complaining because he wanted something more sugary - Fruit Loops specifically. So, when the guy with the cart came along he asked if he had any Fruit Loops hidden in his stash (I had convinced him that they must have something like that for the kids.) Turns out Wheaties were it, but Dan was treated to a big long story from the Flight attendant about how he gets bargain brand Fruit Loops in a really giant bag at the local Supermarket. He proceeded to tell Dan all about how he wished that they would include other types of cereal on these breakfast flights because so many people asked for them but the airline just wouldn't get off the Wheaties kick. Dan was quite distressed that the guy was making such a fuss and talking to him for such a long time. Matt and I were cracking up especially when the flight attendant made a point of being really attentive to Dan for the rest of the trip.

    We arrived in Orlando at 11:00 to a day that was very warm (about 95) and a little bit overcast, but not totally gray. A few minutes later we arrived at the Dollar Rent-A-Car counter to pick up our Dodge Stratus. BEWARE THE RENT-A-CAR CLERKS!!! I had received a really low quote for the car when I'd reserved it, but once we actually got to the counter the price sky rocketed! We had a very pushy clerk who convinced us we had to buy the insurance policy. Matt and I were both about 98% sure we didn't have to get it but she kept insisting that it was FL state law and that none of our other insurance policies would cover the rental car. Worst of all, she tried to just slip the charge in without mentioning it. She was pretty slick too - she went point by point down the list of charges acting as if she was giving us an itemized breakdown of the bill, however she just skipped right over the insurance fee. When we questioned her about the total bill she let out this big sigh and again went over the point by point charges once again skipping over the insurance change. We had to ask her specifically about that item and when we did she launched into her spiel about how it was illegal to drive in FL without it. Plus she was talking to us like we were real trouble makers instead of just confused tourists. We ended up being charged an additional $150 for the "mandatory" insurance coverage. Anyway, make sure you know what you're doing before you get to the counter or you too might be tricked by their convincing argument. We were quite annoyed by this whole incident...especially Matt who hated her right off the bat because she, like all the other clerks at the counter, was decked out in an Orlando Magic outfit (he's a huge Chicago Bulls fan and this was in the middle of their playoff series). But we weren't going to let them ruin our trip. So, we packed our stuff and hopped on the Green Way and headed to WDW.

    ( Dan went on a crusade to get the money back from Dollar. He called them up about a week after we got home, explained the whole thing, and talked to a whole lot of different people about what happened. Fortunately, we complained enough or asked enough questions about the whole thing that the pushy clerk made some notes about how troublesome we were on the file . This must have worked in our favor because WE GOT THE INSURANCE MONEY BACK!!!! )

    It was still a little too early for us to check into the hotel, so we decided to stop at the Crossroads and go to Gooding's supermarket to get some basic things for the week (you know - essentials like Pop Tarts, Potato Chips, and Coke). Believe it or not we actually had fun in the supermarket. It's a much more glamorous a place than the stores we have at home. The guys couldn't quite get over the fact that you can buy beer right in the supermarket. That's not an option in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. After we finished shopping we drove back over to our hotel - the Disney Vacation Club's Old Key West Resort. It was about 1:30 when we arrived, still before check-in, so I was a little worried that we wouldn't be able to get into the room, but everything was ready for us. We were put in building 49 - sort of pesky since it wasn't what I had asked for (I'd wanted to be in building 41 or 42 near the Turtle Shack & small swimming pool) but it was the closest building to the pool where they could put us with Sarah & Pat. (I had reserved two studio rooms for our party of 5. 5 people don't quite fit into a one bedroom unit, and the points for a two bedroom unit are double what they are for two studios. We opted for the smaller rooms - a little inconvenient and less luxurious but OK since we got more free park passes with this arrangement.) The other pesky factor was that the room was in a smoking building and we'd asked for non-smoking. My room wasn't so bad but Sarah & Pat's was pretty smoky and smelly and they ran into some trouble because of it - but I am jumping ahead a little with that tidbit.

    Just after we settled into the room it got very dark and gloomy outside and rain like you wouldn't believe started pouring down. It was raining so hard you could barely see. In light of this fact, we ate some lunch and then we all fell into bed and took naps until the Bulls/Magic game came on at 3:30. I kept sleeping, but the boys watched the game until Sarah & Pat arrived around 6:00. Their arrival marked the official start of the big vacation. The big news from Sarah & Pat was that they too had been rooked by the pushy clerks at Dollar! It was especially funny because Sarah told us she got a big warning from her Dad about this very thing just a week before the trip. She fell for it anyway. She wasn't going to admit that they got suckered until we confessed ourselves. This led to a week of jokes about leaving the car unlocked and playing demolition derby with them because they were fully insured.

    We headed over to the Grand Floridian hoping to snag walk-in seating at Narcoosee's. We had no luck with this plan....and the man working the door was so snooty to us that it turned us off to the whole place. We had planned to come back another night if we couldn't get in today, but after him, we decided to stay away. I have heard that the atmosphere there is friendly and conducive to families but that guy made it seem like it was Victoria & Albert's. We ended up having dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. There was a 30 minute wait, but it flew by because the atmosphere is so lovely there. We watched a wedding party in the lobby for awhile and eventually wandered out to sit by the pool and wait for our table. The hosts were nice, and kept walking outside to look for people who were on the waiting list. The dinner was pretty good also. They've changed the menu since I was last there - they removed some of the more exotic dishes like alligator - but everything was excellent. Matt was absolutely THRILLED with the steak that he ordered...I think he liked it mostly because they gave him a giant knife to eat it with....it made him feel like some sort of tough pioneer guy or something.

    After dinner we took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom where we planned to watch the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks, catch a couple of attractions, and then watch the late Spectromagic parade. Part of this plan worked - we timed our arrival just right so that by the time we reached the Hub near Tomorrowland, Tinkerbell was just getting ready to fly and start the show. The fireworks were great like always but they had an extra special flair since it was Memorial Day Weekend. Lots of extra red, white and blue fireworks with patriotic tunes playing. We noticed while we were watching that the crowds were especially thick....we thought it was for the parade that was about to start so we went to Tomorrowland hoping to ride Space Mountain and Alien Encounter while everybody else was watching Spectromagic. NO LUCK! It was utterly mobbed. So instead of introducing Dan (a Disney World Rookie) to the Magic Kingdom with a big thrill, we ended up riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (former WEDway People mover). He was, of course, a little disappointed. Worse yet - we followed up with Dreamflight which you all know is another dud of a ride. We gave up on Tomorrowland at this point and began walking to Fantasyland. Nothing but crowds as far as the eye could see. The only ride with a small line was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. We split up our group and had a race in the line to see who would get to ride first...left side or right. Dan & I went right and lost the race and from what I can tell we had the less exciting ride too. (Apparently there's quite a glamorous looking Rapunzel character on the left track.) After this we decided to stake out a good spot for Spectromagic since we heard Jiminy Cricket announcing that it would pass by in 10 minutes. So we settled down outside the Liberty Tree Tavern and watched the show. Sarah & I both loved it. I think I like Spectromagic more than the original light parade...it's the music that I really like better. I do hate the Spectromen though...they make no sense at all. The guys hated the whole parade (too corny for them) but Dan was playing along commenting that the parade stunk but it was worth it just to see "that cutie Cinderella & that sexy Mermaid". One other comment - what is the deal with that Chernobog guy? I know he's supposed to open into a scary monster - in fact I saw him do it years ago - but the last few times I've seen the parade he hasn't moved a muscle. I know he doesn't stay open, but I watch that silly mountain like a hawk long after it passes me on the street and I've still never seen it move. Is it broken or something?

    Anyway, after the parade, we were all pretty tired so we just headed home hoping for a much more exciting day tomorrow at EPCOT.

    Sunday May 26, 1996

    Everybody got up early today, grabbed breakfast in the rooms (Pop Tarts, Olympic Version Lucky Charms and fresh coffee from our in room coffee pot, - a note for DVC guests: the coffee comes in filter packs. We had a bit of a panic attack in the AM when we thought we couldn't make any coffee for lack of filters. False alarm!), and caught the bus for EPCOT around 9:30. (I know that's not really early by Disney standards, but for us it was the crack of dawn.) We killed time waiting for the bus by counting the mosquito bites on Pat. Remember that smoky smelling room they got? Well they decided to sleep with the porch door open and they woke up absolutely COVERED from head to toe with mosquito bites. Pat, at one point during the week, had more than 100 of them. He was hilarious to look at - like he had measles or something. So take note DVC guests....don't open the door without OFF! or mosquito netting! The day was really, really hot and muggy. It was sunny, but common sense just told you that we were going to have another terrific downpour sometime during the day. Now, Sarah & I are WDW veterans and we both have our own Yellow Mickey Mouse rain ponchos. However, when faced with the reality of having to wear a rain poncho in front of the guys, we were totally weak. We caved to the peer pressure ("you aren't really going to wear that, are you?") and left the ponchos home even though we knew we shouldn't.

    We got to EPCOT and were greeted by more very long lines. I had to wait in a special line for Annual Pass Holders . My rotten friends got in a shorter line and got inside the park and tapped their toes while looking annoyed at me for another 10 minutes. I'm not sure what the big hold up was here because for the rest of the trip, the AP lines were much shorter than the normal lines. (This is a good trick - anyone can use these turnstiles, so you can get in the short line even if you don't have an annual or season pass!) Things were looking great at EPCOT because of the International Flower & Garden Festival. There was a huge display along the left hand side of the entrance walkway with flags of the world made out of flowers. I'm not really a big flower fan, but they were pretty cool.

    Our first order of business was to ride Spaceship Earth because Dan was dying to see what was in the golfball. Unfortunately for him, the line to enter was wrapping around both sides of the entrance so we told him no way were we waiting and that we'd come back later when we could walk right on to the ride. We ended up heading over to the Wonders of Life. Sarah & I figured that this was a good plan of attack since it had an exciting ride (Body Wars) that the guys would like. Once inside we sat through a little bit of the Anacomical Players show (cornball city) and then we hit Cranium Command. I love this attraction and I got an especially big kick out of it this time because Matt, who prides himself on his brilliant mind for math, was stumped by a word problem hanging on the wall in the waiting area. He claimed to have figured it out by the time we got into the show but the rest of us knew he was faking because he couldn't explain how he came up with the answer. (HA!)

    After that we spent a little while in the serious science nook right next to Cranium Command. I'd never really bothered to check this out before, but some of the stuff was pretty interesting. One story about a paralyzed woman who can now walk using leg braces with electricity running through them was especially neat. She could even play golf. The interface is a little bit pesky because you have to hold a telephone receiver to hear the story while you watch the video, but if you are not pressed for time, I would spend a little while in this overlooked area. We left that section of the pavilion and the guys noticed a little batting cage area where you can get expert advice on your golf swing, baseball swing, or tennis swing. They were all over this concept and since the line didn't look too long they hopped into it. Alas! Like all lines at WDW this one was half hidden so what looked short was really tremendously long. We hung out for around an hour watching all sorts of kids and grownups whack away at things while a little old lady gave out advice on their stance and swings. She was just dreadful. I guess she was good for the little kids because she let them reswing a bunch of times, but she held up the works like crazy and she didn't have much to say to anyone except "Oh! How Excellent!" She seemed to give everybody the same tips from the experts too (Gary Carter says you should bat with "a little crouch" and Nancy Lopez just can't stress enough the importance of follow-through). Eventually, she was replaced by a different girl who was speedy, gave out some new tips and actually critiqued the people. Dan is just a lousy golfer and she gave him a couple decent comments but when our friend Pat came up to swing we asked her to show the tip given by Goofy not Nancy Lopez. It was pretty funny since nobody else had gotten it except for a kid who was about 4. Afterwards, we tested our health and found out that all of us but Matt are tremendously unhealthy. We went to watch the Making of Me and we were going to ride Body Wars but the line was kind of long and Pat gets queasy on that ride so we decided to pass on that until later. At one point in here, I forget when exactly, the real live Goofy was wandering around smiling at people and having his picture taken. I convinced Dan to go and pose with him and he was all for it but it seemed that Goofy wasn't interested in him. He must have followed him around for 5 minutes trying to catch his attention. Pretty many people were watching by now so there was quite a bit of laughter when Goofy finally turned around and whacked Dan right in the face with the end of his nose. Poor Goofy felt terrible - he created a big scene and even got down and kissed Dan's feet. It was a great photo opportunity and was even funnier cause Dan was pretty mortified that a zillion people were staring at him probably thinking "Why is this old guy bugging Goofy?"

    After we left the Wonders of Life we decided to ride Horizons. Everybody but Matt liked this one. He thought it was boring since they didn't have to strap you in. (He's such a pest!) I like this ride and I am bummed out that they are ditching it, although if they really do replace it with a space ride I guess I'll like that more. Next we checked out the stuff outside the World of Motion which is getting rehabbed right now. There's all kinds of information there about cars and some showroom models too. I didn't pay much attention to anything here except the contest to win a free car. We kept on walking and decided to forgo the rest of Future World for now and instead cross over into World Showcase for some lunch and a frozen margarita in Mexico.

    We walked to Mexico along the path where the Odyssey restaurant used to be. All along the path were flower beds for the big festival and even in the waterways they had big floating baskets of pink and purple flowers. Itlooked great....it's a shame they don't have them there all the time. We stopped quickly inside the Mexico pavilion but didn't spend much time (just long enough to model a sombrero) and then we went to the little cantina outside for some chips and salsa and our margaritas. They were OK, but not great. We were still starving at this point, but none of us are huge Mexican food fans so we decided to hold out until something better popped out at us.

    Moving right along we cruised through Norway and thought about hopping onto the Maelstrom but when we saw the line winding all the way out of the building and almost to the main walkway of World Showcase we thought we'd come back later. We pressed on and checked out China for a little while. I was bummed out since we had just missed the Spring Dragon Acrobats. I've watched these guys on some of my other trips and they are just phenomenal. One man actually balances 21 glasses filled with water on his nose while climbing up and down a ladder. I made a pretty big stink about missing their show, so we all agreed to come back a hour later to see their next performance. Since we were there we figured we'd catch the movie about China, but we had a few minutes to kill so we wandered around the gardens and looked at some special displays they had there for the Festival. It is amazing what those horticulture people can do! They had created miniature versions of Chinese landmarks out of flowers and plants - I suppose the American equivalent would be Mount Rushmore made of daisies. While we were wandering through the garden, we noticed that a Cast Member who was helping out the acrobats had one of those tiny little lizards sitting on his shoulder. It looked really cool perched there...like a parrot on a pirate. Anyway the 5 of us were sitting there discussing it and watching it crawl all over the guy and finally somebody mentioned that they didn't think that he knew it was there. We got into a heated debate among ourselves about this splitting 3 to 2 on the issue of whether or not he was aware of the lizard. Finally, to settle the bet, Pat went over to the guy and told him it was there....he completely freaked out and jumped all around and did the funniest jig you ever saw trying to get the thing off. Pretty funny. It was time for the movie now, so we went inside and watched the movie which was very good. Matt particularly enjoyed it because he was leaving on a business trip to China a few weeks after we got home from Florida. One thing of note was how often the Cast Members warned us that the movie might make us dizzy. We were all really braced for the worst, but none of us felt strange at all during the film. After the flick we kept on walking around WS and by now we were really, really starving so we figured we'd go right to the good old USA and get some lunch. We all got cheeseburgers and french fries except for Matt, the healthy guy, who got a cheeseburger and an apple. He didn't even cheat and steal any fries. At least he didn't lecture us about our poor eating habits! After lunch we went back to China to watch the acrobats who amazed us with their ability to balance stuff and spin plates on really long sticks.

    Once the acrobats finished we headed back towards Future World, figuring we'd check out Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Imagination and then go to Innoventions for awhile before heading home. It was starting to drizzle a little bit on the walk over to HISA and by the time we arrived it was raining steadily. The line extended past the awning they have set up and since we didn't bring our ponchos we were forced to take cover or get soaked. We took cover and headed straight into Innoventions. We had a great time in here. All of us are big video game nuts so we had ball in here trying out all the new games. While we were inside an incredible downpour started so we were trapped until further notice. We went our separate ways agreeing to meet near the door after about a half hour. Somehow Dan, Sarah and I ended up together at this newfangled video game where you actually use your body to interact with the cartoons on the screen. It's an interactive undersea adventure where you stand in a booth and jump around, flailing your arms in an attempt to punch sharks in the nose and grab treasure chests. While you are doing this everybody standing around can see a little picture of you on TV inside the game. It is really funny to watch and even more fun to play. They keep track of the ten best players of the day on the screen. I highly recommend this to anyone who goes to Innoventions. The three of us were pretty darn bad at it, but for the record I finished first, Dan second, Sarah a pathetic last. After running through this game a couple of times we went back to the meeting spot. Matt was already there but Pat was missing (turns out he was in the Virtual Race Cars). We killed some time waiting for Pat by playing a kiddie video game where you use a touch screen to throw things like purple cartoon fried eggs at a guy on a giant TV. I don't know why we thought this was so fun, but it was. Matt didn't understand it either. Pat finally arrived and we decided to make a run for Imagination because the rain was just not letting up. The line was still huge for HISA so we went on the Imagination ride instead. I have to admit, I just hate this ride. I think the part I hate most is the one room with all the pictures of seeds growing on the walls while the DreamFinder talks in that slow creepy voice. Anyway, nobody else seemed to like it either judging by the looks on our faces in the snapshot they take on the ride. When we came outside again the rain was still falling so we decided to pack it in for the afternoon and headed back to the DVC.

    We split up for a bit back at the hotel. Matt, being healthy again, decided to go for a run while the rest of us loafed around and rested. Dan and I ended up going upstairs to Sarah & Pat's room to hang out. We were sitting out on the porch having a beer or two while the boys were inside practicing their putting for the next day's golf outing. Soon enough Sarah & I were trying our hands at golf too and since Matt wasn't around our goofiness started showing. Somehow we ended up creating a pseudo-miniature golf course in the room with Pat and Dan acting as moving obstacles. It was really quite alot of fun until Matt arrived and scowled at us and got us moving to get showers and get ready to go to Pleasure Island. About and hour later we were clean, fed, and on our way to PI.

    We had a little trouble buying our tickets for PI. One of the perks of a DVC membership is that you get a 10% discount on the tickets to PI. It was my understanding that that anyone who is guest of a member gets these same benefits. So Sarah & Pat thought they would get their discount by showing their Resort ID that says MEMBER on it when they bought their tickets to PI. They didn't. The guy said that they had to have a real DVC membership card. I was right behind them in the line and showed him my membership card but he told us that he couldn't take back the transaction and that their best course of action was just to protest the charge to their room when they checked out. (Which they were too wimpy to do so I don't know if this works or not). At least we got the discount on the other three tickets but I got a lot of flack from them (just joking of course) about playing favorites and gypping them of their discount.

    I am not quite sure what to say about PI as a whole. I have had great times there, but it's not a guarantee for me. I suppose that none of the clubs there are exactly my cup of tea, so I have to try to adapt. (I can't tell you how glad I am that the ESPN club is coming to the Boardwalk!) At first we just wandered around getting a feel for the place. The first club we hit was 8-Trax because Sarah & Pat had befriended a bartender there during their February Disney trip. He had mixed them up some spectacular cocktails so we went there, found him, and let him work his magic for us. We didn't hang out in here for too long and wandered over the Rock N Roll Beach Club. This place was OK but crowded. We heard some Top 40 music with commentary by a blonde surfer dude DJ and then the band came on. They are called Panama and they apparently have quite a following although they don't seem all that spectacular to me. They are an OK cover band but it was hard to swallow them because they are all so obviously in love with themselves. All in all though, they were pretty good at livening up the crowd and we did have fun. One thing I didn't quite get was the frenzy the crowd went into when they played 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia'. I guess it's a Southern thing we Yankees just don't understand. I think biggest thing that happened here was that we learned a crazy dance that everybody was doing all over PI. (It turns out that this was the Macarena but we didn't know this then). We thought the dance was hilarious and none of us could figure out what they were singing so we kept making up our own words. (We played this game for the entire week. Singing such fabulous lyrics as "HEY! Macaroni, HEY! Al Pacino! Hey! I'm a Danish! Hey! You're a Loser!) We just couldn't lose the tune no matter how hard we tried. (the birth of a craze) Little did we know we still wouldn't be able to get rid of it after we left FL.

    We went to Mannequins while we were at PI too. Matt, who loves that techno music, is the only one who didn't hate it. Every guidebook raves about how fabulous it is, but I just don't get it. The mannequins are creepy looking, the music is terrible, it's really crowded and the show is just plain bad. I think the only good thing is the spinning dance floor (which I can only imagine is quite difficult to navigate when you have had too much to drink). Sarah & I really didn't get the show at all. I mean they have these glamorous chicks dancing around in pretty much nothing with these totally nerdy, pale, definitely not good looking guys prancing around with no shirts on trying to be all sexy. There is a throng of people on the dance floor enthralled by them and all we wanted to do was laugh. We just couldn't wait to leave. The big thrill of the place for us was monitoring this couple - it looked like they were on a date and he wanted to touch her WAY more than she wanted to be groped in public. She kept trying to shoo him away. They were quite scandalous. Dan & Pat yelled at us for staring at them but then pumped us for details after we left. They disappeared to a more private spot, I suspect. The bar is filled with really odd people too. Definitely not your typical tourist bar. If you are not funky this is NOT the place for you. I think the only reason we even tolerated it at all was because we were kindof drunk and thus were willing to dance in the midst of all the smoke, flashy lights and weirdos. We eventually succeeded in dragging Matt out of this terrible bar and killed some more time just wandering around the streets. The guys played some games - Matt and Dan had a basketball face-off and Dan ended up winning an Orlando Magic Mini Basketball. As far as he was concerned, it was worth coming to Florida just for this. Those two were pretty much worthless for the rest of the night because from that point on all they wanted to do was race around pretending to be Shaq and Michael Jordan. It was just about 2AM now so we had to go home - which was a good thing anyway cause the guys had an early tee time at Osprey Ridge the next morning.

    Monday, May 27, 1996 - Memorial Day

    All three of the guys are big golfers so they were really looking forward to getting in some good rounds down in Florida. I have heard that Osprey Ridge is the best of all the courses, so I made sure to call the Pro Shop exactly 30 days ahead of the 27th so that they could get an early tee time. Turns out that I went for a slightly later time (10:10) because the later time would allow them to participate in the World of Golf program where you paid a fee ($55 I think) and then got all subsequent rounds for $35 as long as you golfed after 10AM. They seemed like they wanted to golf constantly so I thought this would be a good deal for them because a single round was $85. So that morning they set off for the links and Sarah and I headed for the pool. We thought about hitting the parks without the guys but decided that we'd just as soon avoid the holiday crowds.

    We hung out at one of the smaller pools at the DVC. For those of you who are interested, we were at the Turtle Pond pool. It has a pretty nice sandy playground for the kids, an arcade, the Turtle Shack (snacks, drinks, and a little bar with frozen daiquiris and beers) and of course the pool. I am not positive but I think there is a hot tub and a kiddie pool too. It was a nice spot to hang out although it was a little busy. They have pool basketball during the day in this pool so it's a tad noisy and filled with kids but that's what the pool is for right? A tip for you though if you are looking for quiet - try the pool in the back of the resort near building 55. I have stayed back there before and it's pretty isolated. We had lunch at the Turtle Shack - nothing exciting at all, just a hot dog. It seemed expensive at the time but it was giant so I suppose it was worth it.

    The guys got home about 3:00 and they absolutely LOVED the course. They said it was just beautiful and while it was hard it wasn't so hard that it wasn't fun. Matt, who is a golf nut, was jumping out of his skin when he got home because he shot his best round of golf ever on that course. I forget what the actual score was (he'd be horrified to hear that) but it was pretty low - for some reason 67 sticks in my mind. So I guess there is hope for non-experts. They picked up a fourth guy for their group, which turned out pretty good for them. He was a nice, older man from Florida who gave them some golf tips and some general tips about Disney as well as some tips on the course. He predicted low crowds for the rest of the trip and I agreed with him. (We were both wrong) They headed straight for the pool after their round and swam for a bit before the afternoon storm came. We decided not to even bother going to the parks today because we thought they would be especially crowded so we decided to try one of the restaurants over at the Crossroads for dinner.

    I feel terrible because I can't remember the name of the restaurant we settled on. I think it was called Pacino's. Anyway, if you want to have some Italian food, check out the little storefront place next to Gooding's supermarket. The food was good, and not your typical fare. I had a delicious pasta in wine sauce and somebody got spaghetti with clam sauce and I think there was a steak too. Everybody was really happy with their meal and there was so much food that we ended up taking a bunch home. They had awesome Caesar salad too. It was not particularly expensive - I'd say we each kicked in about $20 and that included all of our entrees, several appetizers, one dessert (cheesecake), and a handful of drinks from the bar. I don't know how to explain the atmosphere of the place. It wouldn't be anything that unusual except for the fact that there is a liquor store attached to it. Plus there is a big giant TV in the corner. The view is pretty terrible (parking lot) but you can do some really good people watching if you like that sort of thing. (Which we do) There is no dress code here either, there were guys in ties and us in shorts and we both fit in fine. All in all a thumbs up.

    After dinner we headed over to Disney's new miniature golf course by the Swan & Dolphin hotels. We drove over because we couldn't figure out how to get there by bus. I don't think it was an option. There is a choice of two courses, your standard one with moving obstacles and the other one "the skill course" (which means it's like a regular golf course only shrunken). We decided to hit the skill course. It's been awhile since I came home so I forget exactly how much it cost but I think it was $7.50. In any case it cost a dollar more than the regular course. Let me tell you, this is one heck of a mini golf course! We couldn't believe how impossible it was - fun, but impossible. The holes are all par 3 and we all stunk so bad that we ended up instituting a mercy rule so that if you didn't sink it in 8 strokes you were done. We had a great time. We were not playing by the official rules because we tried to hit our balls out of the sand traps when they went in them (which they always did). According to the card you could drop them out of the trap. It wasn't crowded so we didn't have to worry about taking too long. Every hole has a least one sand trap, an incredibly bumpy fairway, and a couple even have water hazards (we hit out of those too). It took us more than 2 hours to finish up but it was fun the whole way through. None of us finished anywhere close to par and Matt was cracking up because he finished better at Osprey Ridge than he did here. I really liked the course but it probably would be discouraging for a little kid. It's also very, very close to the road which was a little distracting but not that big a deal I guess. Maybe someday they'll add some trees to make it a little more secluded. I am looking forward to my trip down in January so I can try out the other side of the course. It looked pretty fun, although the only thing I could really see was one hole where the brooms from the Sorcerer's Apprentice throw buckets of water at you. They also seemed to be constructing some buildings to one side of the courses. The looked like permanent tents. I have no idea what they are going to be used for, and I am anxious to find out.

    After the game we were in the mood for some soft ice cream and we drove over to the Dixie Landings food court to get some. Unfortunately, it was about midnight and everything was closed so we didn't get any. Bummer. Instead we went to the arcade and wasted some time and some quarters playing pinball. The highlight was a skiing video game that you stand on and actually control with your feet. We all really stunk at it but it was fun anyway.

    Tuesday, May 28, 1996

    We got a pretty darn late start today thanks to those lazy old boys who wouldn't get out of bed. I really didn't mind so much because it gave me a chance to sit on the porch, drink my diet Coke, and read the Disney Magazine that came with the room. What a great magazine! Eventually we got our acts together and caught a bus to the Studios. I think we arrived around 11. Of course, we made a bee line for the Tower of Terror. I am a complete chicken so I decided not to ride the Tower with the rest of the gang. I could barely stomach it with one drop and now that I hear it has several there was just NO WAY. So they hung out in the line and I wandered around Sunset Blvd for a while. Eventually I ended up sitting on bench near the TOT exit. It was really neat back there. The building is pretty cool if you actually take some time to look at it. It has giant stairways that I was incredibly tempted to climb up on, but then I saw a guy getting escorted down them so I suppose that they are somehow linked to the chicken exit. They didn't have much of a wait for the ride so in about 20 minutes they came out, raving about how fantastic it was and how they couldn't wait to hop back on. They were nice though and decided to check out some other stuff first. Fellow chickens take note here : I found a great way to occupy my time while I was waiting...I counted the number of people wearing matching outfits who came off the ride. You will be amazed by the numbers! After awhile I saw so many I stopped counting the ones who had shirts issued by a tour group. We spent the rest of the trip betting the over / under on the number of matches we'd see on a given day.

    We rode the Great Movie Ride, which I really like alot. I caution people though...try not to sit in the very last row of the last car. That is where we were and we were pretty far out of the loop. When the tour guide started to tell us about things we were still in the last movie. It made the flow a little less than perfect, but it was still enjoyable. I hope that they will change the movie at the end someday soon. The collage of famous clips is still pretty good, but I think a little updating wouldn't hurt. For the record, we had no line at all for this attraction.

    We wanted to stop in at SuperStar TV after this but we had just missed the show so we decided to grab lunch at the Backlot Express instead. Everything here was good, standard fast food fare, but it got extra bonus points because it had giant vats of Cheez Whiz so you could make cheese fries. It was very crowded and we wound up sitting outside - not such a bad idea because it was rather breezy in the seating area. I think that this was a fluke though because it was a pretty cloudy day. I think we would have baked if it was sunny. One minor note here, the seats for the outside tables are really really high up. It's strange. After lunch we headed next door to Star Tours. Very short wait here - maybe 10 minutes. Enough time to allow you to check out the cool sets in the queue area but not long enough to get really bored. Everybody but Pat loved this ride. It made him sick, just like Body Wars does. Matt was still complaining that all the rides were too wimpy for his taste but I caught him enjoying himself anyway. We headed over to Muppet Vision 3-D after Star Tours. I don't know where this crowd came from but it was PACKED! We had to wait for ages but the line there is fun because they have all kinds of muppet movie posters hanging along the walls. We were all really looking forward to this show because we are in the age group that grew up watching the Muppet Show on prime time TV. Needless to say, the show was great. Everything here is just perfect - the preshow is just as funny and well done as the actual movie. And the special effects are just great. Even our resident skeptic, Matt, had to admit the water and the bubbles surprised him. I have heard rumors that they are going to close this attraction soon. I certainly hope that this isn't true - unless they replace it with a new and even better Muppet Show.

    Next up - Super Star TV! This show can either be great or really really terrible depending on who gets selected to participate. We had a bunch of funny people in our version so this was a big hit with our group. Big complaint about rude guests here though. There was a group of about 5 people who came in with their lunch on big trays. How they got away with this I will never know, but there they were, munching out right in front of us and making all sorts of eating noises. I kept my fingers crossed that one of the roving cameras would snag them on the big screen but no dice. They escaped with no reprimand at all which drove me crazy.

    We were all still craving the soft ice cream we were denied the night before so we took a walk over to Dinosaur Gertie to get a cone but again we were shut out. They only sell slushy drinks like Slurpees. I have to admit though, it was very tasty. We had planned to go to the Indiana Jones Stunt Show after we finished our drinks but somehow while we were sitting on the bench we got into an argument about whether or not we should wait in the big line to get in or not. Sarah & I kept trying to impress upon them how enormous the stadium was and that we were certain to get a spot, but they refused to listen and after a bit of a shouting match we decided to split up. Turns out this whole "We don't want to wait in the line" thing was really their way of telling us that they wanted to ride Tower again. So the guys took off for TOT and Sarah & I sat there and stewed for a few more minutes. We ducked our heads into the TV Lounge by the 50's Prime Time Restaurant. It's really neat there. We didn't want a drink or anything, but we wanted to check out the atmosphere. It's small and cozy with all sorts of hideous, plastic looking living room furniture straight from 1950. There are TVs all around showing stuff like Leave It To Beaver. I think that I will definitely stop in here for a while on my next trip. It's a good place to cool off and get out of the crowd. I think when we were in there only 5 or 6 other people were inside. There was also a Streetmosphere guy hanging around here. He was up on the roof in a hard hat eating his lunch. He was heckling the people who were walking by. I am surprised he didn't pick up on our fight.

    Sarah and I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and gossiping about how much the guys were bugging us by giving us all this macho "we only like roller coasters" type of attitude. Plus, they just didn't comprehend the whole concept of park hopping. This was driving us crazy because on all of our previous trips we spent half the time concocting clever methods of getting from place to place. It's like an extra challenge to use as may modes of transport as possible. We resolved to get a lot accomplished while they were gone, proving that our schedule (which utilized lots of park hopping) was a good idea. We failed miserably at this, but we had fun anyway.

    We checked out every square inch of the stores on Hollywood Blvd. I am especially fond of the 5&10 store. I don't know why I like all the junk they sell in there. I almost never buy anything but I love to look at all the worthless stuff like Gumby keychains and Melrose Place T-shirts. Sometime during the afternoon we took the Animation Tour. It was interesting as always. The best part was checking out the samples from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the new movies Hercules and the Legend of Mulan. We also got to spy on a guy who was just unpacking all his supplies at his desk. It looked like his first day - what a job! Determined to park hop at any cost, we ended up leaving the Studios, hopping on the launch to the Y&B and walking over to EPCOT. On the way over we wandered through Stormalog Bay. I've never come over here to swim, but I am dying to someday. Anyway, we were checking out the cool waterslide they have there and couldn't help but wonder if it was just for kids or if grown-ups could use it too. It looks awfully narrow from the ground. Still, we're going to try it sometime, so if you ever hear on the news that somebody is wedged into the waterslide, it's probably me or Sarah.

    Once in EPOCT we decided just to stroll around World Showcase starting in France. Our main mission was to find our way over to Japan to get a Kaki Gori. If you haven't tried one of these Japanese snow cones you are really missing the boat. They are my favorite thing in World Showcase. Perhaps in all of EPCOT. It was late by now so we decided to head back to the room, grab the guys, and head for our 7:00 dinner at O'hana.

    I can't say enough good things about O'hana. I had been there for dinner with my sister in December and we really enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere so I was quick to make the reservations for this trip, but now I was getting nervous that they weren't going to go for the whole interactive entertainment thing. Boy was I wrong! We got to the Polynesian right on time and while they set up our table we ordered some frozen drinks at the bar. Everyone ordered something different and they were all great. There is nothing quite like a drink with a little umbrella in it! Shortly after we got our drinks we were escorted to our table. The restaurant wasn't particularly crowded yet because it was so early, so we got a table right up front where the host hangs out and runs the show. This was great. Right away he grabbed Matt and Pat and told them that they were the lucky folks who got to lead the kids around the whole dining room in the O'hana parade. So off they went, shaking some kind of noisy sticks and tromping around with about 20 little kids following them. Dan, Sarah &I thought this was hilarious - little did we know how that we would be on display ourselves in a little while! Soon enough the parade of kids was over and the parade of food began. O'hana is a fixed price meal ($19 I believe) and they just keep bringing you food and brining you food until you think you're going to pop. It's all cooked on a giant grill and gets served to you are your table on giant skewers. Anyway, after we'd been eating for a while, and after we ordered another round of drinks (Mai Tai for me this time...I had to get one because they come in the neatest glass. It looks like a Hawaiian Tiki Head. I was wishing it was a keeper, but unfortunately it wasn't). The next bit of excitement was when the Hula Hoop contest broke out and our charming host picked Sarah to be one of the lead off contestants. She was awful at it, couldn't keep it going for anything and she looked especially silly because everyone else in the contest was under 10. We were loving this until the rules changed and in order to stop Hula-ing you had to hand it to somebody else and make them get up. Well, I was the first unlucky victim but the hoop soon made it's way around our whole table and eventually to a bunch of others too. This was a lot of fun because it really encouraged everyone to talk to people at different tables. When you arrive they explain that O'hana means family in Hawaiian and they really tried hard to make everybody feel like we were all at a big family party. They made a very big fuss over a little kid who was an expert Hula-hooper. He never dropped it the whole time the game was going on, so they made a big announcement how he was the best hula hooper they'd seen since the restaurant opened and they made him a special crown to wear. It was really cute.

    As time passed, we ate alot more, had some more drinks (including some free ones we got because they had gotten our order wrong. We got to keep the mistake and the replacements for free), and found ourselves leading the cheering section for the kids coconut races. Afterwards there was a bit of a time-out in the restaurant as the Electrical Water Pageant floated by in the lagoon. There is a tremendous view from here and everyone was encouraged to stand up and walk over to the window to look out. Eventually, we were all enlisted to learn the Hula. This must have been a riot to watch. I wish that we had had a video camera taping the whole thing because I am sure the sight of the 5 of us lined up with all the little kids, dancing the hula and singing some Hawaiian song must have been hysterical. It was like taking a sobriety / coordination test. And still after this there was more food! We finally finished up with delicious fresh pineapple dipped in caramel with some of the house special MudSlides ( yummy). As is turns out, we stuck around until the place closed. We all had a stupendous time here and I wouldn't hesitate for a second to go back again. I think that this meal was probably everyone's favorite part of the whole trip.

    Wednesday, May 29th - Sarah's Birthday!!

    We had really big plans for Sarah's birthday. She always complained that she never got to have a birthday away at school with all of us, so we planned this trip around the big day so we'd get a chance to celebrate with her in person. As soon as I made our reservations, I talked to the people at DVC Member Services and asked them if they had any recommendations for how I could make the day fun for her. (As if just being here wasn't fun enough!) They had millions of suggestions like flower deliveries, champagne and strawberries, and a Disney birthday party. I went right for the birthday party. It was kind of expensive ($49) but the price included streamers, balloons, party hats, a birthday card and a Mickey or Minnie Mouse birthday cake. I thought the whole thing sounded great and I just knew that she would love it. Figuring that we'd be out in the parks all day, I arranged to have them set up the party at 4:00.

    Our plans for the day were to spend the morning at the Magic Kingdom, dash over to MGM for lunch (perhaps at the Sci-Fi ) and then go to EPCOT for a stroll through World Showcase before going to dinner at the Biergarten in Germany . We wanted to follow dinner with Illuminations! and Pleasure Island. I would love to tell you that this is exactly what we did, but things just didn't work out at all. For one thing, we all overslept - no doubt because of all the tropical drinks we had the night before at O'hana. Then the weather was rotten. Steady drizzle until almost noon when it cleared up a little. So instead of our wonderful morning at the MK, we had a so-so afternoon by the Turtle Shack pool. Even this was ruined when the rain started to fall again. We spent the afternoon hoping for a glimpse of sun and watching Ricki Lake on TV. We weren't too discouraged yet though, figuring that we were very well rested and therefore would be all set to live it up late into the night. It was getting pretty late in the afternoon and we were really sick of doing nothing - Sarah especially wanted to get out and DO something. Unfortunately, it was just about 4:00 so Pat & I wanted to stay and have the birthday party before we went anywhere. So using all kinds of clever diversions (HA!) we killed time until 4:30 when everything should have been set up. Pat ran upstairs to check it out and found that THERE WAS NO PARTY!!!

    We had a really hard time trying to figure out what happened. The front desk told us that there was no notation on the reservation but that if we called Olivia's (the restaurant) they might know about it. Olivia's seemed clueless about the whole thing but they said they would send somebody over right away with the party stuff. So we're sneaking around, delaying everything waiting for this silly party to show up. 40 minutes later - still no party. Everybody else left to wait for the bus (Sarah still didn't know about the party fiasco and was ready to maim Pat for dawdling) and I called Olivia's again. I told the lady on the phone that we were leaving but that we still wanted the party. She promised me that it would be there when we got back from the parks. The party was there when we got home at 11 or so. The cake was absolutely fantastic. It was big (we had leftovers), it tasted great, and it was decorated adorably. There was a big bunch of balloons, New Year's eve type noisemakers, and of course the party hats. Sarah, as expected, loved the whole thing! A little kid would REALLY get a kick out of it. So despite all the trouble it was worth it. If you plan on doing this sort of thing on your next trip - be sure to call once you arrive and confirm all the plans so that this won't happen to you. (In case you were wondering, Disney didn't charge us a penny for the party because there were so many problems with the delivery.)

    Meanwhile, we finally got moving and hopped on the bus over to EPCOT. Once we arrived, we went to Wonders of Life to ride Body Wars, and then headed straight for Honey, I Shrunk the Audience because nobody had seen it yet but me. I can't tell you enough how much I love this attraction. I even like the Kodak pre-show. I admit it's a bit long, but I sort of like the inspirational lines that go along with the pictures that they show. In any event, we all piled into the theater and settled down. I don't want to spoil the show for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I will say that everyone had dramatic reactions to the special effects. Even Matt, Mr. Stoic, jumped sky high at a certain point. I think it's just amazing how much your body is fooled by all of the 3-D effects. I also want to comment that sitting in the back of the theater was a different experience from sitting up front. It put a little different spin on things.

    After the movie we headed over to World Showcase and we stopped right away in Norway to ride the Maelstrom. It had started to rain again and we were getting pretty wet standing in the line, which was really long. We stuck it out though, and took the plunge down the waterfall. I like this ride and I don't mind the movie at the end of it either, my big problem is when they keep you trapped in the little fishing village before the movie. I know that they have to do this, and I suppose it is sort of quaint, but I can't help but feel claustrophobic when I am standing there. Anyway, after we left Norway it was absolutely POURING rain. So we made a mad dash for Germany (like fools we still didn't have our ponchos). We arrived just a few minutes before our reservations and there was quite a crowd gathered in the vestibule (no doubt because of the sudden storm) we finally handed in our name and heard that we had to wait for about 15 minutes to get a table. This was not a big deal at all because we were like drowned rats at this point and those couple of minutes gave us a chance to hit the rest rooms to dry off and make ourselves look somewhat presentable again.

    We were seated at a table right in the center of the restaurant on the middle tier. This was an excellent spot, right in the middle of the action. As you probably know, the tables are large and seat up to 8 people. We had a couple sitting at the end of our table. They seemed nice but were rather quiet and didn't interact with us a whole lot. Anyway, just as soon as we sat down, our waitress came along and took our drink orders and explained how the buffet works. Pretty much you just wander up and take whatever you like, ,as much as you like, and she runs in and clears up your dirty plates while you are gone. If you like German food you will love this place. Everything I tried was great. Potato salad, sauerbraten, schnitzel, chicken, sausage, you name it - they had it! We all made several trips to the buffet and nobody got a thing they didn't like. Our waitress was a charming girl and was quite friendly, she stopped back every now and then and commented on our food and made recommendations about things she found especially tasty. She also was eager to refill our beers but they were so giant sized that none of us managed to get through more than the first one. You will not believe the size of the steins they bring your drinks out in. They must be a foot tall and weigh 5 pounds empty! Meanwhile the show is going on at center stage. The show consists of a group of musicians, I think probably 6 of them, 5 men and one lovely fraulein. They play typical German music (polkas and stuff) and dance around. They try to whip up the crowd a lot too.....rooking people into participating in a yodeling contest and getting everybody all fired up and excited to do the chicken dance. They sing some drinking songs too and have a sing-a-long follow the bouncing ball type screen so you can join in. This is pretty funny because they make everybody link up their arms together and swing their 5 pound steins and sway back and forth. At times, the lovely fraulein wanders through the crowd and selects somebody to dance with her. She was quite a cutie and Matt was just dying to be picked. At one point she asked for a volunteer and he nearly threw himself at her feet. So, she took pity on him and he got to waltz around the restaurant with her. Well, she must have thought he was pretty cool (can you imagine?) because she persuaded him to linger for another dance...this one was a really fast folk dance that he somehow managed to keep up with. (It turns out he had learned it, or something similar to it, in his Irish dance class). So now, we are sure he is going to come back and sit with us again, but NO! She drags him up onto the main stage, dresses him up in some fake lederhosen and one of those old fashioned army helmets with the big spike coming out of the top and hands him a baton to conduct the band in their final number. We were all rolling on the floor at this point because he looked like such a goofball. After this last song, they took a break for awhile, which was good because it gave us a chance to concentrate on our food. When it looked like we were all finished eating, our waitress cleared up our table and told us she'd be right back with the check. However, when she came back she didn't have the check at all, instead she came out with a birthday cake and a bunch of her co-workers and they got the whole place to sing happy birthday to Sarah. I was really impressed by this whole thing because we hadn't asked for anything special like this at all. She either noticed that it was her birthday when she had checked our ID at the start of dinner, or she heard us talking about it - either way it was a really heads up play on her part. So we finished our cake and headed outside hoping that the rain had stopped and Illuminations would be about to start.

    We got half of our wish.....the rain was done and Illuminations was starting but it was a half hearted effort at best...not many of the fireworks were being done and it wasn't all that impressive, so we ended up taking a leisurely stroll out of the park and just heading home. We thought we'd get a chance to ride Spaceship Earth on the way out, but again the line was wrapping all around it so we didn't bother. Everybody was pretty tired.....those German beers had knocked us out (a little more kick in them than in the Coors Light we're used to), so we decided just to head home. For some reason we decided to stop in at the Electric Eel arcade on Turtle Crawl before we headed back to the room. For any of you who have stayed at OKW you know that the Electric Eel is more of a closet with a couple video games in it than an arcade, but we wanted to check it out anyway. They had a new pinball machine in there from the movie Twister, and let me tell you it was really fun. We probably spent a full hour in there playing this crazy game over and over again. The best part was when you would get multi-ball and a whole bunch on pinballs would get stuck on this magnet thing and spin around really fast like a Tornado. It's probably a really easy pinball machine since all of us were good at it, but it was fun anyway, so if you are there and you have a 50 cents to blow, you might want to check it out. We walked back to the room from here and as you know, we had a birthday party waiting for us when we got there. It was very cute, Sarah was very surprised and the cake was delicious.

    Thursday, May 30, 1996

    Thursday morning we got up early (for once) and headed over to the Magic Kingdom. We had big plans for today, hoping to ride all of things that were too crowded earlier in the week. Unfortunately, we were on a tight schedule because the guys had booked themselves for an afternoon tee time at the Lake Buena Vista golf course. (This is the course that runs right through the OKW Resort. They'd been checking it out all week long and finally caved in to their desire to play and try out island green they have there. They wanted to sneak on and try it at night time but I put my foot down and wouldn't let them so I suppose it's my fault that they insisted on golfing this afternoon.)

    Upon arrival we headed right to Space Mountain. The line was already long, but it moved pretty steadily so it wasn't so bad a wait. Afterwards we zoomed over and went on Alien Encounter which had a pretty long line too. Mixed reviews from the group on this one. I personally like it, but Sarah hated it. She thought it was dumb. Matt and Pat were neutral, leaning I think towards acceptance, and Dan seemed to enjoy it. We got separated somehow when we were being seated so I think maybe this had something to do with everybody's enjoyment of the whole thing. Dan and I were right in the front row and the other three were scattered throughout the room. Matt actually was picked to be the human used in the transport tube - funny seeing his startled reaction when the light stopped on him. Anyway, Dan was really hamming it up in here, screaming and pretending to be scared. I was a couple of seats away from him and several times it was hard for me to tell when it was him acting terrified and when it was the voices playing directly in my ears. I've heard a lot of people complain that they don't think that the sound stuff is all that good, but I fall for it everytime. Everything in there gives me the shivers and makes me jump. One piece of advice though, try not to sit in the last row against the wall, some of the effects make it seem like people are talking behind you and if you were against the wall you might not get it.

    After this we went all the way over to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain. What an ordeal!!! The line was just enormous and we had to wait forever and ever to ride. It was really hot by now too, so let me tell you now that I just adore whoever came up with the idea for those little air conditioners and waterfountains in the middle of the line. Everybody liked this one too, despite the big long line. The boys were all wishing that they dropped you down the big flume more than once, but I was more than happy with just one. I wish they had a chicken track so I never had to go down it again! Our plan was to ride Big Thunder Mountain next, but we couldn't bring ourselves to do it because the line there was enormous too. It seems we were the victims of the season. I think every school in Florida from grade 5 to grade 12 was there on a class trip. Most people complain about the foreign tour groups, but today it was definitely the Americans clogging up the lines. These class trip crowds were around alot all week, but the Magic Kingdom was the worst....I suppose they come just for a day and can only go to the one park. I'd keep this in mind if I was ever planning another trip, and I would most certainly avoid this time of year. We made our way to Fantasyland next and made our requisite stop at It's A Small World. Which we all had sort of a love/hate relationship with. We had lunch after this at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe - another mob scene. This time with class trips and an unbelievably huge tour group from Peru. This group was especially hilarious because it was a senior citizen tour and these people were REALLY old and they were all forced to wear these electric orange neon hats and T-shirts. They just looked so silly. Anyway, after this it was pretty late in the day and we wandered around looking for short lines but had no luck. The guys finally got frustrated and just left for the golf game. This ticked Sarah and me off, because we felt like they weren't giving the place a chance. But I suppose they really didn't like any of the hokey rides anyway so it wasn't breaking their hearts any that they didn't get the chance to ride Peter Pan and the Haunted Mansion. We stuck around for pretty long after they left and we did ride those two as well as the other good rides in the Magic Kingdom like the Pirates and the Jungle Cruise. Of course, we also took advantage of their absence to check out every single gift shop we happened upon. Amazingly though, we didn't buy anything. (Yet!)

    We got back to the DVC around 6 or so and decided to head over to the Main Pool to have a swim and then follow it up with dinner from Goods to Go. This was a pretty good plan. The pool wasn't the least bit crowded and before we settled down we picked up a couple of drinks from the Gurgling Suitcase. (Isn't that a great name for a bar?) The OKW, like the rest of the Disney hotels, offers several specialty drinks. At OKW they are all heavy rum drinks. Sarah got a Dolphin Splash and I went for a Turtle Crawl. The drinks were $5.00 a piece - not too much considering the amount of liquor they put into them. The interesting thing about this though is that they were a dollar cheaper than they had been earlier in the week. You see, the drinks used to come with glass swizzle sticks that said Disney Vacation Club on them, but they have discontinued this policy. The bartender told us that they weren't putting them in drinks anymore, but they were selling them in the gift shop. Anyway, because they yanked the swizzle sticks, they lowered the price of the drink by a buck. I found this whole thing pretty amusing because the menu stressed how lucky we were to be getting this free souvenir swizzle stick. We know now how free they really were now, don't we! But I can't complain since they lowered the price.

    Anyway, we just relaxed and had our drinks and ate our dinner. As it turns out we never actually went into the pool, we just sat beside it and watched everyone else. While we were laying around we noticed that the water taxi to the Marketplace was getting ready to head on over there, so on the spur of the moment we decided to hop aboard. (Good thing we had charging ability on our room key or we wouldn't have been able to do this!) This trip is really nice. It's slow - so maybe not the thing if you don't like a leisurely pace, but the scenery is pretty and the guy who drives the boat is really nice. I can't remember his name for the life of me, but everytime I have ever been on the water taxi, he's been in command. This may not be true for too much longer though because on this trip he was training a new guy. The boat drops you off over by Captain Jack's and where the Rainforest Cafe is now and when you leave they tell you all about how to get home and when to meet the boat at the dock. We took off and wandered around the Marketplace for hours just browsing around the shops and buying all sorts of stuff - amazingly most of it was not for us, but for our nieces and nephews. Imagine us actually buying Mickey Mouse stuff for little kids instead of adults! It was a novel experience. We had a nice time here, but it was not as nice as previous trips to the Marketplace have been for me - a lot of things were under construction like the Rainforest Cafe and the new Character Shop so there was a lot of confusion and blocked off areas around. We persisted though because we wanted to annoy the guys by staying out late. We figured they'd be jealous that we were up to something that they didn't get invited to participate in. So by around 9 we hopped back on the water taxi to OKW and wandered back to the room.

    Our plan had been successful because we arrived to a hotel room filled with boys who were trying especially hard to be very pleasant and nice to us. So nice in fact that they didn't make even a single mention about how much money we'd spent at the Marketplace. They told us how they had a wonderful time on the golf course and that it was well worth it. They were pleasantly surprised that they got all 18 holes in before it got too dark and without rain. After the game they arrived at the room and wanted to go to dinner, but since we weren't there they decided to order up some pizza from the Dixie Landings. The pizza from there is really, really good, but beware that if you have it delivered it is also really, really expensive! If you have a rental car, be sure to drive over and pick up your own pie or you will end up paying $900 for your dinner. We didn't do anything else tonight, we ended up watching some sporting event on TV. I can't remember anymore if it was the hockey playoffs or the basketball playoffs. I suppose it doesn't matter much anymore. This was a good plan for us because we had to check out of OKW in the morning and move over to our room at the Disney Institute. So staying home gave us a chance to pack all of our stuff and clean up a little bit.

    Friday, May 31, 1996

    We were all up super early today because the guys had yet another early tee time. This time they were golfing off property at a private course at another resort. A woman that Matt worked with told them about her membership there and suggested that they play the course because it's really nice - and because she belongs to the resort, the fee was incredibly inexpensive. The only catch was that one of them had to pretend to be married to her. None of them were too anxious to do this - I suppose they figured the golf pro was going to quiz them about her favorite color or something, but they toughed it out and decided to go through with the charade. (Pat was the unlucky one who had to be the husband - they figured he had to because he was already wearing a wedding ring.) So off they went, leaving Sarah and me to pack the car and move to the new hotel. (A woman's work is never done...)

    The two of us were really excited about heading over to the Institute. We had considered taking advantage of the offer to spend a day at the Institute for $49 but we could never pick a day when we thought we'd be able to devote enough attention to it so we decided not to. I think now that this was a big mistake on our part, but live and learn, right? Anyway, we got to the DI pretty early - maybe 9:30 and they were very helpful and told us that we could move right into our room. This really surprised us because of the time of day. The girl at the counter was really nice too, and she was very accommodating when we asked her to create and hold room keys for the boys who would be checking in later. I want to stress how pleasant and friendly she was because the guest ahead of us was a real jerk to say the least. I won't go into great detail here but they were having a great deal of difficulty agreeing on park passes. He kept trying to trick her into letting him pay a child price for his daughter who was too old for a child's ticket. When she would explain the rules to him he would either change the age of the girl or pretend that he didn't understand English. (I know he was faking about the English thing because he had been in line ahead of us for awhile and he spoke it just fine to his family then.) Anyway, she finally convinced him that he had to pay the full price and sent him packing. But when we arrived at the counter she didn't display any residual annoyance or comment on the situation in any way - and I am sure it was incredibly tempting to do so. So once again, thumbs up to the Disney Staff.

    We were staying in what is now called a bungalow but what was formerly known as a Club Suite. Originally, I'd been thinking about staying at the Port Orleans hotel for the end of the trip (I am on a quest to stay at all the resorts and the PO was on my list) but the Disney rep told me that none of those rooms were available and in fact, no rooms were available anywhere but at the premium resorts like the Yacht club. Now I would LOVE to stay there, but I knew I'd never convince all my friends to pay over $200 per room a night to stay there. So I asked if they had anything else available...more in the "home away from home" category, thinking she'd send me over to Fort Wilderness or something. She said sure and for about the same price as one room at the Yacht club we could get a Bungalow that would hold all 5 of us comfortably. I jumped right on that deal and so here we were.

    Let me tell you about the room. It wasn't quite as spacious as I had been led to believe, but it was adequate and we ended up liking it alot. It consists of a small living room area with a big couch and a giant cushy chair (we were calling it Chairy like that one that used to be on Pee Wee Herman's show). There was also a small table with 4 chairs and a kitchenette area with a fridge and microwave - you know all the basic comforts. The fridge also had an ice maker which seemed to be working triple time because we had so much ice it kept overflowing and making crazy avalanche noises inside the fridge. Connected to this room by sliding glass doors was large patio with two comfy chairs and a really tiny table. This was a big porch and we liked it even though the furniture wasn't super. It was a good spot to read the morning paper. Off the living area was the bedroom. This was a typical hotel room. Two queen sized beds, a dresser, a big closet , a desk and a TV holder. I liked the fact that the place had 2 TV sets. It was nice not to have a choice about what to watch. The sink and mirror were in the bedroom too. This was my big beef with the place. The bathroom is situated, as you might expect, right next to the sink and mirror. This is a good plan, however, the door to the bathroom opened in such a way that if somebody was in the bathroom and wanted to come out , and at the same time somebody was standing by the sink brushing their teeth or something, the tooth brusher got clobbered by the door when the inside the bathroom person opened it. We all have a lot of bumps and bruises from this. Eventually we found ourselves knocking on the door when we wanted to come out. As you can see, this is not a very big deal, so I suppose it 's a good thing that this is my most serious complaint about the place.

    I've heard people complain about the decor of the DI and I have to say that I think they are crazy. The place has a rustic feel to it. It's obvious from the outside that they have a 70's look so they were limited I think, in what they could do on the inside of the place. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't look like 1970, but it is decorated with darker colors, and it has a sort of log cabin feel. I think it fits right in with the dark brown outside of the building - a light and airy decor like the OKW would be totally out of place here. We all ended up enjoying our time at the DI and nobody complained about the size of the rooms. Even Matt liked it and he had the dubious honor of sleeping on the big couch in the living room. (This is another minor complaint....they tell you that it has a convertible sofa, but what it really is is a sofa that is more than big enough for an adult to lay down on. He's over 6 feet tall and he found it comfortable.)

    After checking in and lugging our stuff into the room, we hopped a bus to the Disney Studios to see some of the things we'd missed. First up was the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Both of us just love this whole show. I don't know which part I like best - the puppets, the neat laser effects, or the water hitting you. I guess I just like everything about it. I think that the boys would have found at least some of this entertaining, but probably not too much. We left the Mermaid and went over to the Monster Sound Show - another show that I like a lot but depends totally on who gets picked out of the crowd. We were thinking of waiting around for awhile to see the Toy Story parade but decided not to and to go to EPCOT instead. While there we went to some of our favorite places - like the Land Pavilion. Both of us love the stuff here for reasons that I can't explain. I enjoy the boat ride but it is really lacking something now that they ditched the "Let's Listen to the Land" song. After the ride we went to see Food Rocks. Sarah was skeptical here because she is a die-hard fan of Kitchen Kabaret and the classic tune "Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit" but I told her this new show was pretty good. Sure enough, she loved the whole thing. I don't know how you can't like it if you know what all the songs are that they parody. My favorite has to be the one by the Refrigerator Police "Every bite you take.." instead of "every breath you take". It cracks me up everytime. We thought about going to the new movie with the Lion King but Sarah wasn't much in the mood for a lecture on recycling and I'd already seen it so we decided not to stop. I'm not sure how we spent the rest of the afternoon here. All I remember for sure is that we definitely did not go to the American Adventure. We always plan to get there and something always keeps us from it. Sarah has never seen it - the one time she made it into the building she feel fast asleep, and I am not an especially big fan of it, so I am never all that anxious to get back. I know that this attraction is supposed to be the crowning jewel of EPCOT, but I think it does a pretty poor job of conveying the American Spirit. To me it's like a big war propaganda piece. I think that there are plenty of things they could highlight about the country besides the battles we've fought. I think they could put together a killer movie about all the things America loves - from Baseball to Disney World to the Rocky Mountains not to mention all the cool cities and neato things that take place here year after year. Or they could talk about the American Dream & Spirit revolving around something other than winning wars. Oh well, I don't know what exactly should be done, but I think it needs to be revamped.

    We made it over to the Magic Kingdom eventually but it was still a mob scene so we didn't do much here either. We wound up taking the boat over to the Wilderness Lodge to check it out (Sarah had never seen it). This is an incredible hotel, I really loved it when I stayed here. I have to admit though, that the lobby lacks something when the giant Christmas Tree isn't there. We were checking out the menus at Artist Point and the Whispering Canyon cafe because we needed a place to go for dinner tonight. We ruled out Artist Point, even though we've both heard that the food is tremendous, because we thought our group did better at themed restaurants where there was some sort of show. This left the Whispering Canyon in the running and we when we left the Lodge we were planning to return later that night. (The Whispering Canyon re-creates the feel of a dinner round the campfire on the trail. Lots of cowboy stuff going on and the waiters and waitresses have funny names and water pistols and all that fun stuff.)

    Now it is time for me to introduce a controversial topic into this report. I assume that everyone reading this spends some time on the Internet and therefore knows about the infamous GAY DAY at Disney World. Well, if you have been paying attention to the dates of this trip, you will know that tomorrow, June 1st is Gay Day. Now, I have known about this for a long time and I made my reservations to include this particular day anyway. However, I never mentioned that it was happening to anybody but Sarah. I knew that it would probably freak everyone out so I figured it was best to just keep my mouth shut about the whole thing. But now, as we wandered around the parks and the hotels, it was fairly obvious to the two of us that people were arriving in droves for the big day. I don't want to give the impression that these homosexual people were doing anything at all flamboyant or offensive or anything - they certainly weren't - but since we knew they were coming we took some extra time to analyze any groups or pairs of same sex people and there were alot who we figured were gay. (In fact, now that I think about it, we probably looked as if we were a real couple) Anyway, this made us wonder if we should finally reveal the truth to the guys. We decided that we wouldn't unless we had to. Well, it didn't take too long for that to happen. Back at the DI we were all hanging out in the afternoon and we saw all kinds of folks moving in - we had a great view through the sliding doors. Well, at first nobody took any special notice of people but then about 4 male couples moved in right in a row. Like I said earlier, they weren't doing anything bad at all but you could just tell from the look of them that they were gay couples. Well, one of the boys finally said something like "Yikes! Would you look at all these guys? What is going on?" laughing and thinking it was just some really odd coincidence. Sarah and I must have looked really guilty right about now because they pounced on us and got us to reveal everything we knew about the upcoming Gay Day. We told them that it was sort of a big Gay convention and they were ready to kill us for with-holding this crucial information. Naturally, we lectured them like crazy and told them that they were being big babies and that it didn't matter anyway since we were planning on going to Universal Studios on Saturday anyhow.

    None of us were ready to go out for dinner yet so we decided to go and check out the swimming pool. It was really nice. It was a bit of a hike from the room - maybe 5 minute walk, but it was well worth it. It was a smallish pool but it was very quite and private. Nobody else was there but us. There were plenty of lounge chairs around even if it had been crowded. Plus there was a pool house type building which had vending machines and an arcade. And of course...the free towels. Not much excitement here I know, but that was just perfect as far as we were concerned. We spent some of the time at the pool reading over the Birnbaum book trying to decide where to go for dinner and we ended up choosing the restaurant at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Once again I am lousy at remembering the name of the place - it was either the Captain's Lounge or the Captain's Tavern. We had to go there for a couple of silly reasons...first and foremost was because it was called the Captain's whatever. We'd been on a trip together to upstate New York for a friend's wedding. The town we stayed in was about 2 blocks wide and everything there was named the Captain's Shop or the Captain's Bookstore or the Captain's Hotel. So when we found another place named that it struck us funny and we wanted to go. Another reason was the description in the book highlighted the fact that they specialized in frozen drinks made with Captain Morgan's rum - another of our favorites from college (Have any of you tried Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum? Rumor has it that this stuff mixed with Orange Juice yields a cocktail that tastes just like an Orange Creamsicle. Sarah and I have been trying to mix this drink for years and have never been able to do it. We thought maybe at the Captain's restaurant they'd be able to hook us up with one) So, in high spirits we headed over to the CBR for dinner.

    I don't know what got into us on the way over to the restaurant, but somehow we were all feeling pretty silly. We must have been acting rather outlandishly because at the restaurant when they asked how many children were in our party, Matt answered "None, but most of them act like they are." The hostess chuckled at this response and because of it she grabbed a handful of children's menus for us. This would have been no big deal except for the fact that they looked like pirate hats with Sebastian from the Little Mermaid on them. On the back of the hat was a scene from The Little Mermaid that you could color in, and as soon as we sat down, we snatched up the crayons and began coloring in earnest. This was really bugging Matt, which made us all want to color even more. Our waiter was getting a pretty big kick out of this and even went so far as to bring us more crayons when we complained that our table didn't have a wide variety of colors to choose from. We ordered dinner - lots of choices here, they have a little bit of everything all with a spicy Caribbean flair. I had a steak which was great, a couple of the guys got seafood which they also really enjoyed and Sarah had some sort of chicken and rice which she said was the best meal she'd had all week. Plus of course, we ordered our Captain Morgan's frozen drinks. All quite delicious. We tried for the creamsicle but they didn't know quite how to make it either. Oh well. Dan and Pat had taken to talking like pirates too, and whenever the waiter came around they would say things like "Ahoy Matey!" or "Arrgh!" and other sea faring type things. Our waiter came over at one point while we were waiting and pointed out to us that not only did the menus look like hats they actually were hats. Needless to say they were on our heads in a matter of seconds. Matt was totally mortified by this whole thing. He turned about 17 shades of red and wanted to run out of the place. He just sat there scowling at us and looking like a party pooper. In case any of you reading this are becoming alarmed that we are a band of marauding drunks who make scenes at every restaurant we go to, I want to point out here that we weren't doing anything obnoxious or anything. The place is very casual and had kids running all around in a very light atmosphere and we weren't screaming or singing or anything, just laughing and having a good time while wearing paper pirate hats. We certainly weren't bothering anyone else in the restaurant and really, our waiter was encouraging our behavior so it wasn't as if we were being rude or anything. We were attracting attention but that was just because of the hats. The rest of the meal was pretty uneventful until we were leaving and Dan and Pat spotted a treasure chest filled to heaping with candy wrapped up in brightly colored foil. They made a bee line for it and started joking with the hostess about her stealing their loot and trying to get it back. Matt beat it quick away from them at this point and tried to lose us in the crowd but we followed him and made sure everybody knew he was with us.

    After dinner we decided to walk over to Pleasure Island again. I am not quite sure what we were thinking here since we didn't have that great a time the first time we were there. In any event, we got there and went to the Rock N Roll Club again which got old quick because they were playing the exact same songs in the exact same order as the previous night. So we left and decided to go to the Adventurer's Club. This was a very bad idea. They were just not in the mood for it and they wouldn't even give it a chance. I like the AC but you do have to sit in there for awhile to truly appreciate it - nobody was going for that plan at all. So we left and Matt announced that he wanted to go back to Mannequins. None of the rest of us wanted to go there, but Dan decided to accompany him and we agreed to meet up again later for the New Year's Eve party. Sarah, Pat and I headed down to the Fireworks Factory and hung out in there for most of the night. At somepoint we went back outside and we were hanging around in the game area and I caused a bit of a scene because I accidentally kicked a plug out of an outlet and ruined one of the carnival games. I was quite humiliated by this, as you might imagine.

    Soon enough, it was time for New Year's Eve and after all the hype for it, it was absolutely a big disappointment. The show is mediocre at best and the fireworks are not even that good. Do yourself a favor and just skip this whole scene if you are at PI. It's crowded and just crazy outside during this time and really not worth it - better to use the chance to find yourself a better spot inside a club when everybody else runs outside. We heard some funny stories from Matt and Dan about the crowd inside Mannequins too. Apparently, the Gay Day crowd was congregating in there and they were being far more affectionate with one another than those two were comfortable with. Dancing without a shirt on was popular in there too., so they were more than willing to leave and join the rest of us outside. After the New Year's Party, Sarah & Pat left to head back to the room and Matt and Dan and I hung out for a little bit longer. Nothing much to report here...spent some time in 8-Trax and thought about going to the Comedy Club (which I've been to before and I highly recommend) but we were too late to get into the last show so we couldn't. I guess that's about all we did here. We tried to figure out why none of us were too thrilled with PI as a whole - I think it's because none of the clubs particularly appeal to us. We were all wishing for a place like the ESPN club that is now at the Boardwalk. I don't see myself ever spending the money to go back to PI again, but it is worth at least one trip over if you have never been there before.

    Saturday, June 1, 1996

    We woke up early today, which was amazing since we had decided last night not to go to Universal Studios today. We figured that it would be really crowded and none of us were too keen on the idea of spending alot of money to go stand in lines all day. We tossed around the idea of going to Sea World or to one of the Water Parks, but nobody had a great amount of enthusiasm for any of the plans so we decided just to do nothing and see what panned out. First thing we went over to the Crossroads to get breakfast at McDonald's. Again, I don't want to come off here as a big jerk or anything, but the minute we walked into the place you could tell that it was Gay Day. This time, we weren't speculating though because everyone in there (and I think it really was everyone) was decked out in some sort of Gay outfit. By that I mean they were wearing Gay Rights T-shirts or pins or hats, lots of slogans, lots of AIDS ribbons, lots of things you don't normally see on people. Nobody was doing anything rude or offensive, but there certainly were a lot of them and it put us in the awkward position of being the minority. Talk about strange. Sarah and I didn't mind it as much as the guys did, but I suppose we may have felt differently if there had been a whole lot of lesbians there instead of a whole lot of gay men. (That's one thing I did notice....far more men than women). Dan and Pat were making a very big point of being with girls and standing right on top of us...making sure nobody thought that they were together. Anyway, it became clear that if the crowds in the parks were this much slanted toward the gay community we would feel awkward being there, so it was just as well that we weren't planning on going. Now, I want to point out to everyone that these people weren't doing anything at all except ordering breakfast. They weren't being all touchy feely or anything or making scenes that would upset anyone. Nobody was doing anything that would need explaining to children or anything. We were a little bit uncomfortable, but I think that's because we were adults and had preconceived notions about how to react, I don't think a child would have paid the least bit of attention to any of it.

    In any case, we spend the day by the very quiet pool. We read and swam and played some volleyball at the court that was near the pool. All in all it was a very nice day. Much like a day at the beach. We considered renting some water sprites or doing some sort of other activity, but we were all in serious lazy mode and ended up doing nothing more strenuous than walking back to the room for a nap. That night we decided to go back to the Marketplace and have dinner at the new restaurant on the Empress Lilly. It's called Fulton's Crab House and it was a real treat. If you are a seafood lover, I would definitely stop here on my next visit. We didn't have any reservations or anything so they told us we'd have a bit of a wait for a table. That was fine with us and we spent the time waiting in the very nice bar on the boat. It's a nice place, decorated like a lounge on a Steamboat with a nice view of the waterway where the boat is docked. The bartenders were very friendly and they brought us over a menu really quickly with a wide choice of appetizers. Pat was the only one who went for this deal, ordering the Oyster Sampler which he absolutely raved about. It had something like 6 or 8 different kinds of oysters - all raw I think. It also had some jalapeno sorbet on it, which I just couldn't figure out. About a half hour or maybe a little bit more than that later, they called our name and we were seated at a table outside, right along the rear deck rail. (They asked us if we minded sitting outside and we said no). What a great spot! It was s a real nice night, and from where we were sitting we could check out the whole Marketplace as well as the entrance to PI. We ate like crazy here. We all ordered something to start with and everybody loved what they selected. We give thumbs up to the crab claws, Caesar salad, clam chowder, and steamed clams. Everybody was thrilled with the main course too. I had an absolutely delicious Tuna Steak, Matt had a great piece of Salmon, Pat had a big giant cauldron of soup that had every kind of shellfish you could imagine in it , Sarah had shrimp and pasta and maybe Dan did too. I can't remember anymore. In any event everything was fabulous and we ate and ate until we thought we'd burst. We spent a decent amount of time here, and eventually Matt and Pat and Sarah decided to leave, but Dan and I lingered awhile longer over coffee. I don't remember the exact bill for dinner, but it was well worth every penny. I know that the only time we broke the $200 barrier was at O'hana so it couldn't have been more than that. Whatever it cost, it was well worth it. The only other thing worth mentioning here is an oddity about the bathroom. The ladies room had peep-holes in the stalls. I think that this was because some supply or other was not inserted into the slot in the wall of the stall where it should have been and therefore you could look right through and see what was going on in the other stall if you wanted too. Quite odd, and I hope that they have fixed this by now.

    After dinner, our group split up yet again. Matt and Pat went to the movies at PI to see Mission:Impossible which had just opened. (Pretty brave of them considering how worried they were that people would think they were gay). The rest of us went home via the Marketplace so Dan could pick up some stuff for his nieces and nephews and some little souvenir for himself. That's pretty much it I guess, we didn't do anything else except stroll around the grounds of the Disney Institute. It's really quite beautiful and when you get a chance to look at all of the classrooms and the bulletin boards scattered about the grounds it makes you long to be able to participate yourself. That is why I vow that on my next trip I am going to take part in some of the activities and classes.

    Sunday, June 2, 1996

    Time to go home! Always a sad occasion for me. We got up, got all of our stuff together and headed over to the Port Orleans Resort to have breakfast at Bonfamille's, Everybody listen to me now.....go to this place for breakfast! I was here twice on my last trip and I couldn't wait to come back again this time. They have the most fabulous French Toast in the world here as well as a nice treat of bengiets to start off your meal. Believe you me, this is well worth the trip. After breakfast we just headed to the airport for uneventful trips home to Philadelphia and New York.


    In conclusion, I want to tell everybody that the rumors are true - you CAN go to Disney World without a schedule or a timetable, only go on attractions that are uncrowded, and still have a tremendously good time. I have never been able to really give up the "I have to see and do everything" attitude before, but now I know that you can relax and still have fun.

    Part of me wishes that I'd had a chance to see everything, but because I skipped some things I am all the more excited about my next trip in January.

    Sorry if this whole report was too wordy and confusing, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Don't hesitate to e-mail me if you have any questions about WDW - believe it or not I am a pretty experienced guest and I might be able to help!

    You just read a trip report that was originally published in our MousePlanet Trip Reports column.

    Reader-submitted trip reports have always been an extremely popular feature here at MousePlanet. In order to improve the search functionality and shorten the time from when you submit a trip report and the report gets published, you can now post your trip reports directly to our Trip Report forums. The forums are moderated, but reports should become available for reading very quickly.

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