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Thread: Sue Holland - July 1999 - Old Key West, Vero Beach Resort & Offsite

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    Sue Holland - July 1999 - Old Key West, Vero Beach Resort & Offsite

    Cast of Characters:

    Sue (me - 40), DVC member
    Chris (my son, 12)
    Sheila (late 30's) & her son Colin (13) - for days 10-15
    Dates: July 23 - August 6, 1999

    Travel Method: Personal car

    Resorts: Off site in Daytona Beach Shores (4 nts - the 2 weekends), Old Key West studio (5 nts), Old Key West 1 bedroom villa (4 nts), Disney's Vero Beach Resort garden view Inn room (1 nt)

    Experience: Extremely experienced, averaging 35 nights per year spent in Disney resorts.

    INTRODUCTION:

    When originally planning this trip, I decided to stay longer than a week. I'd read trip reports written by other people who'd stayed for 10 nights or longer, and decided that was something I'd like to try. As a dvc member, staying on a Friday or Saturday night uses more than double the points it takes on a week night, so I decided we'd return to the hotel we used to stay at in Daytona Beach Shores (before buying dvc) for the weekend in the middle of the OKW stays. I am a dvc owner at Vero Beach, and that resort is gorgeous, but for a beach experience we strongly prefer Daytona Beach Shores. Unlike regular Daytona, this area is very family oriented, and quiet. Unlike Vero, the beach is very wide, the land drops off very gradually so it's great for boogie boarding, and there are lots of recreation rentals (banana bikes, golf carts, etc) available right on the beach. We decided to invite our friends Sheila & Colin to join us for the 2nd week. Sheila has never seen Vero (Colin stayed there with us in 1998), and the 4 of us travel well together. I booked the 1br for this portion of the trip, so that we'd have more space/privacy. The kids will end up on the floor, I'll get the master bedroom king-size bed, and Sheila will take the sleep sofa in the living room. At Vero I just booked a regular room, since it's only for 1 night & we won't be spending much time in the room. So, we had a nice 12 night trip planned.

    A couple of months ago I was at a baseball game. We're season ticket holders (for several years) for the Minnesota Twins' class A minor league affiliate team - the Ft Myers Miracle. As season ticket holders, Chris & I get in for free at any "away" game also, although we've never taken advantage of this. I saw on the schedule that our team would be playing the Daytona Cubs in Daytona July 22-25, so on a whim I called our hotel to see if a room would be available for Friday & Saturday 7/23 & 24. I was able to book it at the same discounted rate I had for the following weekend ($63 with AAA discount for ocean view - I've always done the ocean FRONT suite in the past, but wanted to keep it cheap this time). The team's general manager said I could book a room in the hotel the team was staying at, which was also on the beach & would only be around $35 or so per night due to the "group" rate, but decided to just stick with the hotel I knew, since I know it's in the right area. We'll spend the day on the beach, and go to the game Friday & Saturday night that first weekend.

    Once at WDW we'll be touring at a relaxed pace. We've done the parks many times, and don't really HAVE TO see or do anything. Knowing we'll be back soon takes the pressure off, so we can relax & enjoy ourselves. Chris would be happy spending all the days inside Disney Quest, and neither of us minds leaving the parks after only a couple of hours. Chris will be using the "free" park passes that came with my dvc membership, while the rest of us have annual passes - so he won't have access to Animal Kingdom. That won't be a problem, though. I'll either head over there late afternoon while he's off somewhere else or I could do it while he's still sleeping in the morning.

    I'm hoping to meet up with many dvc/aol friends during this trip. Linda (elfriar) lives in the area now, and is always willing to come in & hang out with me. Kathy (dznynut) & I are planning to spend the Sunday's together after she drops her daughter at Animal Kingdom to work. I'm looking forward to seeing Harold (htroupe) & his family again. Harold was the first aol/dvc member I ever met in person, and that was 2 years ago. We call him the "breaded" man, after a typo appeared on the boards (it should have been bearded) - and he's a true Disney fan! I can't wait to see Gail from Illinois (Jdocter7) again, & plan to join them for a drink on 7/29. I'll keep my eyes open for Dottie (ilovebskts) since her okw stay will fall during my first week, and should see Teresa's (asaladdin) family when we're at Vero. Chris met their sons in December, so hopefully they can play in the pool together. Being on the boards, I've met so many great people - it really enhances the wdw trip to be able to visit with them in person, even briefly. It's so cool to be in such a huge place like wdw, yet run into people I know, or who recognize me - it makes seem even more like "home", like I belong there!

    I've not made any priority seatings. I'd like to return to Le Cellier for the cheddar cheese soup again, and we'll eat in Morocco the week that Sheila/Colin join us. Chris & I have tickets for Cirque du Soleil on 7/29 - the 8:30 show - and there was a coupon for free popcorn/soda at Cirque in my July PI newsletter. I didn't realize people ate/drank during the show, and Chris will make good use of the coupon! Chris has 2 Disney Quest admissions, and I've got 1. He'll use 1 the first week, and save the 2nd one for after Colin arrives. I imagine DQ will be a full day activity for the boys! Of course I will be spending evenings at the Comedy Warehouse :-) Sheila wants to see the Lord of the Dance - I saw it in June, but won't mind seeing it again as long as it doesn't conflict with a Comedy Warehouse evening. We've both seen MSEP, Illuminations, Fantasmic, so we probably won't bother with any of that. We might visit Typhoon Lagoon one day - the first visit for Chris & me.

    This will be the first trip with my camcorder. I bought 9 30-minute tapes, which should be more than enough! Finally, a word about my trip reports in general. Originally I started writing them in order to post them on the boards, and hopefully help/entertain others like me who love reading any details about wdw trips. I recently printed out all of mine from the past 2 years, and decided to continue writing reports (including non wdw trips) to create a permanent record of our trip memories. Some day perhaps Chris' kids or grand kids will enjoy reading them! Therefore, I'll be writing details of our Daytona days as well, but will try to remember to post them together on the boards so that if you're not interested in this part of the trip you can just skip over that post. The Daytona days will be days 1,2,8 & 9. Those days should be shorter, too - it doesn't take many words to describe laying on the beach!



    DAY 1 - FRIDAY, JULY 23, 1999:

    Last night I got the car loaded. Since our dvc accommodations come with a washer/dryer we're only taking about 6 days worth of clothes for this 15 day trip (the 5-6 beach days will be spent in a swimsuit rather than clothes anyway). Still, the trunk & car is packed full - 1 small suitcase, 1 small duffel bag, and tons of "stuff" (2 boogie boards, fun noodles, beach chair, cooler, umbrella, groceries, camcorder, etc). How do people who fly to wdw for vacations do it??

    Also last night I made some changes to my aol flash sessions - deleting certain news groups and message board folders from the auto aol so that I could cut down on how many posts I need to keep up with. Finally, I'm on 3 onelist things, that tend to generate lots of e-mail. I switched to the "digest" version for 2 of them, so I'll get 1 large e-mail instead of the individual messages throughout the day. The only risk is that if the e-mail is too big, it will come as a download able file, which I'll probably just delete as unread - unless I save it to read 16 days from now!

    Chris wanted to be on the road at 2am - this from a kid who hates to wake up in the morning! I told him "no way" - as I did not need to arrive at Daytona Beach at 6:30am! Can you just imagine some crazy lady laying on a beach chair before the sun even comes up - LOL! I don't want to be the talk of the other tourists! We ended up leaving home at 6am. We made 1 stop for gas, and arrived at the Best Western Aku Tiki shortly after 10. We used to stay at this hotel every year, for a week in May when Chris was young, and then a week in August when he got old enough that I didn't want him to miss school. It's a Hotel, not a Motel - with indoor hallways. It's right on the beach, has a large heated swimming pool, small basketball court, ping pong table, but the main attraction is that beautiful beach! We did not stay here last year (went to Vero since I'd bought dvc points at Disney's Vero Beach Resort) or the year before (stayed at a 2br place since we were going with friends). I had called them earlier this year just to inquire about the summer rates, and they said they'd send me a brochure. When I gave them my name, the person on the phone recognized it, and said "you've been here before - you usually stay in room #502"! She was absolutely right (#502 is the largest ocean front unit, top floor & with a separate kitchen), and I decided then that I had to go back this year. This year we're just doing the cheapest ocean view room, since our stay is so short. The hotel is not nearly as nice as any wdw resort, but the staff are great, the location is great, and we're comfortable/safe here. Regular rate for my room is $70, and I got a 10% AAA discount (the rate for room 502 was $98) - quite a bargain compared to wdw prices!

    Well, when we checked in we hit the first snag. When I made the reservations months ago I'd asked for a non smoking room and was told they don't have any. At check in I asked if they had any non smoking rooms, and the lady said yes - but I wasn't blocked into one because I didn't make that request! Also, they had me down as staying only 1 night, instead of 2. The manager checked what was available, and had 1 room that was free for the 2 nights, and it happened to be non smoking. It was an $80 room, but the extra $10 would be worth it for the non smoking part! After AAA discount it would be $72, so I took it. I also had them check the next weekend, to move me to non smoking then also - and so I switched to an $88 room (this one has a kitchen).

    One nice thing (that I wish Disney could/would do) - since they knew which room I was in, the manager checked to see if the room was clean yet. It was not, so she called housekeeping to let them know I had arrived, and to see how long it would be. I was told it would be ready in an hour, so we headed to the beach for awhile. They held my laptop in the manager's office for me, too.

    It was almost low tide, so the beach was very wide. It's easily about 4-6 times as wide as the beach at Disney's Vero Beach Resort. There's a wide strip of soft sand, then the driving lanes (yes, cars still drive on this beach), and then an even wider hard sand area (which will end up being covered during high tide). We played in the waves for a bit, using Chris' boogie board, then I sat & enjoyed the sun. In about an hour we returned to the lobby, and when the lady saw us she told us our room was all ready! I guess it was about 11:30 at this point. We only brought a small tote bag & the cooler to the room - leaving the bigger suitcase & other groceries for when we arrive at OKW on Sunday. We got room #310, 3rd floor (5 story building), non smoking, overlooking the ocean/beach and the pool. It's a great location. The room is larger than the All Stars and the moderates - in fact I'd say it's about the same size as my Contemporary room last month. It does have a little bar refrigerator, but everything else is just your standard hotel room stuff - nothing special. It'll serve it's purpose for the weekend :-)

    After unpacking what little bit we brought into the room, we returned to the beach. One of the vendors nearby (there are vendors lined up all along the beach; they drive their trailers on each day) was selling food, so we got a foot long hot dog, regular hot dog, and a dill pickle for $5.25. I ate about 1/2 the regular hot dog & 1/2 the pickle before Chris inhaled the rest of it! We had drinks in our bag, so we were all set. Colin (joining us starting day 10) let me take his boogie board with us, so Chris & I each had 1 to play with. We spent the afternoon riding the waves on the boogie boards, and he rented a banana bike. Those are low-slung 3 wheel bikes that you steer by leaning in your seat. He looks forward to these each trip we make ($8/hour). The boogie boarding was fun, and since the tide was coming in the waves were getting pretty big. If I caught it right, I'd get a ride all the way in to where the board was stopped by the sand in water that was only a couple of inches deep! If I missed, then I'd get salt water splashed over my head, which made my eyes burn. Eventually I'd had enough of the waves knocking me around, so I returned to the room to watch my soap & update the trip report. Chris swam in the pool for a while, then sat on our balcony & watched people.

    About 4 we headed back out for a short walk on the beach, along the water's edge. Our baseball game starts at 7, so we didn't have too much time. Next weekend we'll have more time to enjoy the beach. After the walk it was time to shower & find some food (Chris was starving). We ended up just going to Publix. They've got a good deli, so we bought 2 subs (1 for Chris, 1/4 for me, 3/4 for our lunch tomorrow) and more to drink. We were very thirsty today! We returned to the room to eat, and watched the news. The heat index in central FL (wdw) was 104 degrees - but it was quite comfortable here due to the breeze off the water. The ocean temperature was 82 degrees - which is perfect! After dinner we found the ballpark, and saw a long line at the box office. I walked up to the "will call" window around the side, and the employee came right to me (leaving the others in line) to see what I needed. I gave her my name, and she handed me an envelope with our free tickets to the games tonight & tomorrow night. Our team's general manager had arranged this, so it was a great time saver! The tickets were free because that's a perk of being a season ticket holder at a team in our league. Our seats were great - front row box seats between home plate & the visitor dugout. The ballpark is the park where Jackie Robinson first played, and is named for him (a little history for you baseball fans). We won the game (17-2), and it was a nice evening. We won a free individual pan pizza from Pizzeria Uno, but it can only be redeemed at the Daytona location, so perhaps we'll go there for dinner next Friday night when we're in town again.

    After the game we returned to the hotel. I was pretty tired, having gotten up at 4:30 this morning, driving, and then spending all that time out in the sun. Chris was hoping to play basketball, but the court was already pretty crowded. Instead, he watched a show on the Disney Channel while I got this day ready to post. Tomorrow will be a relaxing day - enjoying the beach and then attending another baseball game.

    DAY 2 - SATURDAY, JULY 24, 1999:

    Last night I propped part of the drapes open, and when I woke up this morning from my bed I had a view of the waves crashing onto the beach. What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning! After getting online & posting day 1, I discovered that I couldn't find the mug I'd packed for my morning cappuccino (only need it here, we'll have real mugs at okw & Vero). After 2 trips to the car to search the trunk, and at least 3-4 searches of the room, I finally gave up. I took 2 of the plastic cups from the bathroom, stacked them together, and hoped for the best! So far it hasn't melted - but I'm keeping it across the room from the laptop just in case!

    We spent the day on the beach - walking, boogie boarding, and laying around people watching & reading. The tide was headed out (low tide around 12:30 pm today), so we started with a nice long walk, then got my chair & our boogie boards from the room. We spent quite a while enjoying the boogie boards. There was a sandbar where the waves were crashing, then a pool of deeper water where they'd reform before breaking again on the shore. We stayed in that middle section of deeper (hip high) and just floated over the waves. At one point Chris got up to walk, so I held onto his board while I was laying on Colin's, and he towed me down the coast. It was very relaxing, and I remember giving him a ride by pulling him when he was younger. Now that he's the bigger person I guess it's my turn to enjoy being "little" <g>. He rented another banana bike, and I used it for a little while. They're fun, but I don't want to peddle one for an hour! Later he met a few other boys & then went body surfing for a while and I sat at the edge of the water. About 1pm we returned to the room for lunch (subs plus his macaroni salad from yesterday). I guess he was hungry - he polished off his 1/2 sub plus the macaroni salad - and part of my 1/4 sub - in no time at all.

    After lunch we went out to the pool area & played ping pong for a little while. (Chris was thrilled that he won, 21-19). Before we headed downstairs, though, I stood out on the balcony & looked around. Directly below me (we are 3rd floor) was this gorgeous speciman of a man, all sprawled out on a lounge chair for my viewing pleasure! He was dark (tanned), muscular, dark hair, nice hairy chest/legs, and was wearing a speedo-type swimsuit. I almost shouted "honey, I'm up here!", but then noticed he was holding hands with the woman laying next to him. Oh well...another opportunity lost <g>! He was certainly better looking than anyone else here (myself included)!

    After ping pong we used the pool for a bit - they've got a large rectangular pool that goes from 3 feet to 8 feet, and a kiddie pool. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach and riding waves with the boogie boards. About 4:30 or so we headed up for showers & to get ready for dinner/ball game. We're going to hate leaving here, but we're also looking forward to wdw. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we'll be back next weekend! Usually when we leave here we won't be back for another year.

    We didn't have much time for dinner, so we stopped at a Taco Bell. We shared a combo meal for $5.82. The restaurant (if you can call it that) was located down by the main pier and there was a large group of teenagers inside & outside - smoking outside, arguing & swearing inside. Not exactly a family environment, and I was happy to leave quickly I stopped at a library to use the pay phone to check the schedule at Comedy Warehouse for the next 2 weeks. Once again I got Lee, the food & beverage manager, and she got the entertainment schedule for me. I was mostly interested in Layden, but also wanted to check a few others. I got Layden's schedule, but most of the others I asked about no longer work there. Steve Purnick's last night was Wednesday - he's moving to Los Angeles. Kelly Holden already moved to LA. Jim moved to Las Vegas. These actors all want to further their careers in tv/movies, so they've moved on. Hopefully the new people will be as talented.

    The baseball game was pretty exciting, but we ended up losing on a VERY bad call by the blind person working as umpire in the bottom of the 13th inning! During the game we could see the fireworks set off by the pier (every Saturday night during the summer). A family on vacation from NJ had the box seats next to us, and it turns out they're headed to Walt Disney World later in the week (4 nights at BW Inn), and they're going to look into DVC this time. We had a great time talking about the different resorts, water parks, and of course dvc.

    Weather here today was sunny & very warm. Not a drop of rain yesterday or today, but once again it looked like heavy rain over central Florida at times. The ocean breeze is something I'll surely miss when we hit wdw tomorrow! After the game we returned to the room to start packing up. Lights out around 11:30. Tomorrow - WDW!! :-)

    DAY 3 - SUNDAY, JULY 25, 1999: - Arrive WDW!

    I'd put in for a wake up call at 6:15, figuring I'd allow plenty of time to finish packing, eat breakfast, and get yesterday's report posted. I ended up waking up early, so I got to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, and catch up on the e-mail. Chris slept in until around 7:30. We packed up, checked out, and were on the road by 8:15. We made a stop at a Burger King to get Chris a couple of breakfast sandwiches (our baseball game tickets had a 2 for 1 coupon), and arrived okw at 9:45. As I pulled into the parking lot I saw what appeared to be a breaded man, and wondered if that was Harold (he looked familiar, but it had been 2 years since my only meeting with him). After circling the lot and taking the last empty space, we went inside to check in. The room was not ready yet, but I didn't expect it to be. When he finished, the cm said "welcome home" - it's so nice to hear that!

    I saw the breaded man sitting in the lobby, and realized it was Harold (htroupe), so we went over to say hi. We talked for awhile, and then Kathy (dznynut)came in, so we all sat around chatting for about an hour. They're both so nice, and I'm so lucky to have met such wonderful people through dvc (& aol)! Harold's family stopped by briefly, before heading off somewhere. About 11 Harold left, so we let Chris decide where we'd go since he'd been so patient during our chatting. He picked Epcot, so off we went. I did stop in the resort shop & saw the Mickey OKW beanie. I'm not a beanie person, but I'll have to get one of these since it's got okw on the suitcase.

    I dropped my laptop off with bell services, and we caught the Epcot bus. As we got off the bus, we spotted a folded up $10 bill on the ground. We were the first ones off, and there was not a single other person around except those getting off the bus after us, so we picked it up. If we'd known who it belonged to we would have returned it, but since there were no possible owners around we decided it would go towards our lunch.

    The front part of Epcot is still a mess with the construction getting ready for the millenium celebration to start October 1. Kathy had heard they were behind schedule and were working night & day now. The tip board had Test Track at 90 minutes, but Chris has never ridden it so we decided to head over & take our chances with the single rider line. I think we were inside the preshow area in less than 5 minutes! From there it was just a minute or 2 before we were seated in our cars. Chris & I ended up in the same car (me in front, him in back), and Kathy was a couple of cars back. It was fun as always, and Chris enjoyed it - despite being nervous about it! He wants to ride it again tomorrow, so I'm sure we'll be back! After the ride we headed out to World Showcase to ride the Maelstrom. Along the way Kathy commented she couldn't believe how empty Epcot was, and she was right. We rode the Maelstrom with just a few minutes wait (in the back row as usual). We survived our high seas adventure, but didn't survive walking around the World. We stopped in Germany to let Chris videotape the train set there, and were dying from the heat/humidity (keep in mind we all live in Florida) by the time we got to Morocco so we took the boat the rest of the way to Canada.

    We walked into Le Cellier and were seated immediately without priority seating (1pm). The lunch was wonderful as always! Kathy had iced tea and the cheddar cheese soup, I had the soup also, and Chris had the kids' cheeseburger & fries. I have to point out that after eating her soup, Kathy declared that she was stuffed - so after all these trip reports where she is amazed that I've eaten so little, here she goes & does the same - lol! Our check after the 20% Disney Dining Experience discount was $12.05, so we left the $10 we'd found plus another $5. It was truly a bargain lunch! Also, the waitress gave me an extra set of breadsticks to go, which are in my little kitchen now.

    We rode Spaceship Earth, which Kathy & I both like a lot (Chris tolerates it, but is somewhat bored). We left Epcot and caught the 3pm OKW bus with about a 5 minute wait. I was surprised to see a full bus pull up & nobody get off, and then I remembered that they've combined the Epcot/MGM bus run during the afternoon. We got the last few seats in the back row, and returned to OKW. By now it was 3:30 and my room was ready, so Kathy helped us move in before heading back to Animal Kingdom to meet her daughter. It was great spending the day with her, and Chris was disappointed we won't be seeing her again until next Sunday (he thought she was on vacation here too).

    Our studio is #5220 - on the end of building 52, 2nd floor of the 2 story part, non smoking, with a view (beyond the palm trees) of a small pond. The only thing I don't like is the buses pass through our parking lot, so I'm a little concerned about noise. I also don't like the idea of those giant buses careening through the area I've parked my car, but I'm sure the cm's are better bus drivers than I would be. After unpacking and getting settled, I called Belz Outlet to see what time they closed today (6pm). It was now 4:50, but I decided to run over there. Chris was practically asleep, and didn't want to go, so I left him in bed. On the way I discovered that Hotel Plaza Blvd is closed to thru traffic, and it was bumper to bumper - at a stand still. Rather than turning into the mess, I continued past Downtown Disney and ended up deciding to return to OKW & possibly go to Animal Kingdom instead. When I got to the room Chris was watching tv, and had gotten his second wind.

    AK was open until 7, but Chris can't get in there because he's using the "free" passes that came with our membership (I'm using my AP), so he decided to go to MK & I'd meet him there at 7pm. The AK bus came first, and I was off. I video taped entering AK, and taped a bunch of the animals on the Kilamanjaro Safari. By the time I got off it was getting late, but I rushed thru the Pangani Forest Trail. I got some great video of the baby & the young gorillas playing, while the big gorilla sat & watched. By now it was after 6:30, and about 6:45 I got on the bus to WL/Poly/GF rather than wait for the MK/TTC bus that had not arrived yet. I got off the bus at the GF & got right on a waiting monorail, and met Chris at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority inside MK about 7:20. During his time in the MK he'd only gone on 1 thing - the TTA. He said Jungle Cruise had over an hour wait, and even Pirates had a wait. He saw some guy put what he presumably thought was a $5 bill into the token machine at the remote control boats in Adventureland, but it must have been a $50 bill. The guy got a big pile of tokens, which he took over to a cm and asked if he could have his $50 back - lol! Buzz Lightyear had a 40 minute wait, and the Grand Prix Raceway was also backed up. So, Chris didn't do very much due to the crowds. I noticed when I was walking down Main Street at 7:15 most of the curb was already occupied by people waiting for the 9pm MSEP!

    Chris was hungry, and we figured the restaurants would be jammed, so we rode the TTA and then decided to leave the park & head for dinner at Dixie Landings. On the way out we stopped in the candy store to get one of those chocolate covered marshmallow things on a stick (rolled in m&m's), but I found out they've stopped making them while the weather is so hot because they were such a mess. They did offer to make me one, but it would have taken about 30 minutes so I thanked them but said no. We took the DxL bus and had dinner in the food court (Colonel's Cotton Mill). Chris got the 5pc chicken strip dinner with fries, and I ate one of his chicken strips. The fries were not very good, and very few were eaten. With the 20% DDE discount dinner was $5.08. We took a table by the window, but soon noticed we'd chosen a table near a very LOUD young child. The kid was really annoying, with no correction by the parents, so we moved to the other side of the restaurant & had a much better experience!

    After dinner we headed to the dock, and rode the boat to Downtown Disney. They've completed the work on the dock there so the boats go to the Rainforest Cafe area again. We walked all the way over to DisneyQuest in the West Side to see if they were still running the special where if you arrive after 9pm you get another whole day free within 7 days. Sadly, they are not. I also asked if there was any provision for guests to just get inside to buy a piece of cheesecake, and was told no. I'll ask each time, and maybe someday I'll hear an answer I like - lol! We stopped in the Cirque du Soleil store, and watched part of a video of one of their other shows, and then headed to our bus stop to return to okw.

    The bus noise is not a problem - I'm not even aware of it unless I concentrate & try to hear one. The kids in the room next door were shreiking, and dad was yelling at them. Chris was almost asleep, but the noise woke him up (it was about 11pm). Finally I just called over there on the phone, and some little kid answers the phone. I asked to speak to "mommy or daddy" and the kid giggled & hung up! I called back, and this time told the kid "let me talk to your father", and dad got on the phone. I nicely said that I was also staying in the building, that it was very late, and could he please keep the noise level of his kids down since my son was unable to sleep due to the noise. He said no problem, and that he was sorry. Sure enough, after the phone call I didn't hear a peep from over there.

    I realized tonight I forgot to pack my pedometer, so I don't have a "miles walked" figure for you, and won't for the rest of the trip. It was very hot today, but not a drop of rain again. It's so good to be back at Old Key West!

    DAY 4 - MONDAY, JULY 26, 1999:

    I ended up staying up until after midnight trying to catch up on some of the message board posts, and left the alarm set for 5:45 so I'd have time to do the aol stuff in the morning. Thankfully, it was quiet next door. I forgot to mention - last night I went into the bathroom, and spotted movement out of the corner of my eye (never a good sign). There was a baby lizard, maybe 2 inches long from head to tail, scurrying around on the tub/shower wall. If we didn't do something to get him outside, he would have died, so I called Chris to the rescue. Although I think they're cute, and know they really help us by eating tiny bugs, I don't care to share my room with a lizard! Chris managed to catch it in his hands, and brought it outside. The silly thing didn't want to leave his hand, so Chris had to kind of nudge it off, but at last it was free to go eat some bugs outside.

    We slept really well. I've said it before - okw resort rooms have got to be the most comfortable, or maybe I'm just here so much it really does feel like home. Actually, Chris would prefer living here, but so would most people! I did get up at 5:45, and got the report from yesterday posted after my shower. A couple of people had e-mailed me stating they were glad to see me off on another trip and hoping I'd be posting early so they can read the latest report with their morning coffee, or before the kids wake up, etc. So, the pressure's on to not disappoint the people who actually take the time to read these reports (I love reading others' reports, too).

    Weather people are saying no relief in sight from the high heat/low rain chance. Today the heat index is expected to be 110-115, with little chance of rain. By Thursday/Friday the rain chance is supposed to be more normal. Even Daytona Beach, right on the ocean, is supposed to be 97 today! Any of you coming down soon be prepared for extreme heat & pack/tour accordingly.

    Today we're heading to Disney MGM Studios, and possibly Stormalong Bay later. I saw my neighbors this morning - a young couple with 4 very young kids. No wonder it's so noisy over there - and they've got no business having 6 people in a unit with a maximum occupancy of 4! If they were quiet, I'd say it was none of my concern. Hopefully they'll leave early in the week - and maybe I'll get a nice retired couple moving in <g>.

    We left the room about 8:30, arrived MGM Studios at 8:45. We hung around in the shops until rope drop, and went first to the new Drew Carey show Sounds Dangerous. There were only a handful of guests there, and no crying children during the darkness. Chris had not seen this before, and he declared it to be cool. It's not a major attraction, not in the league of Monster Sound Show, but I enjoy it - just as I enjoy those sound booths in the next room and over at Conservation Station in AK. Next we walked right into the 9:30 Doug Live show. The cm warming up the crowd was a bit much so early in the morning - too darn peppy, and she wanted everyone else to be screaming/cheering. I was glad when she left and the show started - lol! Chris had not seen this either, and he declared it stupid - saying the cartoon was better. I like the show, and so did most of the younger kids there. It's got a nice story/theme, and the cast does a good job. Last time I saw it my favorite Comedy Warehouse actor was subbing for the day as Doug - and to me the "real" Doug actor did just as good of a job. We got out of the show just after 10, and Chris was hungry again (we've done cappuccino & cereal in the room for breakfast each morning), so we stopped at the Commissary. I bought him the kid's french toast strip meal (3 french toast strips, 2 sausage links, and a milk) for $3.18 including tax. He said everything was very good. Their sandwich menu looks great too, especially the chicken caesar wrap (chicken caesar salad wrapped in a tomato tortilla). I'll have to get one sometime this trip!

    Next we walked onto Star Tours (the gift shop at the end is still closed for rehab), and then wandered around New York Street and Sunset Boulevard. We went into the shop at Rock n Roller Coaster, and I got to see the ride vehicles. I doubt I'll ever ride that - we're both too much of a chicken! On the way out of the park we stopped at the candy store & bought 2 of those marshmallow things we couldn't get at MK last night ($2.49 for both). Mine was m&m of course, but Chris got one with crumbled chocolate covered toffee coating it. He ate his right away (it was good - I got a bite), and mine is sitting in the room for later. We got to the okw bus stop at 11:05 - 11:10, and the bus arrived at 11:15. I expected it to stop at Epcot first, but it went directly to okw.

    We changed into our swimsuits and drove over to the Beach Club, getting out to Stormalong Bay just after noon. We had brought a couple of those noodle things, and Chris did the slide a while and then joined me in the lazy river part. It wasn't overly crowded, so it was nice & relaxing. Around 1pm I got out & ate some of the pretzel breadstick from yesterday's meal in Canada, and did some reading. About 1:30 Chris was hungry again (when isn't he hungry, though?), so I sent him to Hurricane Hanna's to get something. He came back with a chicken strip meal with grapes for $5.04. He gave me a piece of 1 of the chicken strips, and maybe 8 grapes - and wolfed down the rest. (Sorry Kathy, no leftover grapes for tomorrow's report, LOL) I just ate the rest of the breadstick. I was planning to share a Frozen Sunshine with him a little later. We got back in the pool, and soon heard some thunder. I got out to dry off, and shortly after (about 2pm) they closed the pool. There was a very dark sky behind the BW, and evidently lightning was spotted. The life guards told everyone to gather their personal belongings and leave the pool area NOW. We did - I'd brought Chris' clothes so I had him get changed in the men's room. I blotted as much water out of my suit as I could while I waited for him. I decided to skip the Frozen Sunshine today so we could get back to OKW before it started to pour.

    Once back at okw I got dressed & decided to walk around a bit. It was getting windy, but any rain appeared to be off in the distance. I took the umbrella just in case, but ended up not needing it. First I checked out the pool next to building 55. I'll be doing some laundry later in the week, and I wanted to see where the laundry was because I've only done it over at Turtle Pond before. Next I walked up to Turtle Crawl. I bought one of the Mickey OKW Bellhop beanies (couldn't resist that okw logo), and ran into Chris while I was in the store. He stayed behind in the room to watch tv, then changed his mind. Finally it was 3pm, so Chris went to shoot some hoops on the basketball court & I went to pick up the drink of the week at the Gurgling Suitcase. I forget what it's called already, but it is coconut rum, pineapple juice, & cranberry juice. It's very good, but service was horrible. Bartender Todd was alone, and he was having lots of trouble with the computer. In the meantime 4 people were sitting at the bar smoking (gag), so I could barely stand to be in there - despite the fact it was almost outdoors. Finally, Todd saw my Disney Dining Experience card, and commented that those cards were a headache! At last he took my order, then forgot what he was doing, remembered when he saw me again, and fixed my drink. Then when he rang it up - it should have been $4.24 minus my 20% - but he said it was $4.46. I think he must have figured 20% off the regular price, not the happy hour price. I was so anxious to get out of that disgusting smoking area that it didn't even register with me that it was too high. I just tossed him $5 and got the heck out of there! Perhaps some other day I'll find out how much I ~should~ have paid, but it wasn't worth my while to go back & get it fixed. I would have if the smokers weren't there, but I just couldn't face that stench again! The smokers seemed like very nice people - we chatted briefly. I don't hate them, but I certainly do hate that they smoke.

    I walked back to the room and watched the last half of General Hospital (gotta keep up with my soap - I've been watching it since high school). Chris returned a little later, and again announced (what else) he was hungry! He ate a chocolate cookie left from his meal in Canada yesterday, and lots of m&m's. I had a message on my beeper from Linda (elfriar) - a dvc/aol friend. She & her husband moved to the Orlando area this past year. I called her, and we decided to meet at Epcot at 5:30 tonight, since she's leaving town day after tomorrow. We got out to our bus stop at 4:40, and rode the first bus to the Hospitality House. I got off and asked the cm at bell services if I'd be able to leave a suitcase & the camcorder with them when I check out on Friday until I check back in on Sunday - and they said no problem. That done, we sat on the bench & waited for the Epcot bus. It finally came, was standing room only, stopped at MGM first, and arrived Epcot at 5:45! In my opinion 1 hour to get to Epcot from OKW is inexcusable! Luckily Linda was still waiting for us!

    We walked through Ice Station Cool so she & Chris could sample some soda. Chris tried the beverly, and didn't like it. I'm sure it wasn't his first time - he's been in here a lot. We headed to the Canada side of World Showcase, and saw that Off Kilter would be starting in less than 10 minutes so we took a seat. This group is very talented, and lots of fun. Chris really enjoyed their antics, too. After their set ended we continued to USA and walked into the 6:45 Lord of Dance with 2 minutes until showtime. Neither Linda nor Chris had seen it before. Linda enjoyed it much more than she thought she would - Chris was ok with it, but nothing great. I'd seen the show last month, but enjoyed it a second time. We continued around the rest of World Showcase, and headed to Test Track - which had an 80 minute wait posted. We had to wait to get to the single rider line, and it appeared that the ride was having technical difficulties. When we finally got to the single rider part, the line extended outside the building and all the way back to the stairs! I'd never seen it like that, and it was not moving at all (no cars were running either). We waited a little while longer & then gave up on it. We tried Ellen's Energy Adventure, but it was also closed due to technical difficulties, so we decided to head to the Studios. First, though, we stopped to watch the rest of Cast In Bronze's set. Chris had never seen or heard a carillon, and seemed to enjoy the show. I'd thought these guys were leaving in late June, so I was surprised/glad to see them again.

    We drove over to MGM in Linda's car, and just parked anywhere without really paying attention to where we were. The park was really deserted - most likely everyone was in watching Fantasmic. We did the Soundsations booth, and then did Sounds Dangerous again. The audience really enjoyed the Sounds Dangerous tonight. By now it was after 9pm, and we headed to the Commissary for dinner. Linda ordered a grilled cheese, and when she got it she was shocked to see it was a kids' meal. It came with a small purple plastic Doug lunch box! Chris got the chicken strips & fries ($6.52 with tax), and I just ate part of one of his chicken strips & some of his fries. After dinner we decided to call it a night, and ran into large crowds coming out of Sunset Boulevard from the Fantasmic show (it was just after 10pm). Linda drove us back to OKW so we wouldn't have to fight the crowds over by the buses, but first we had to find the car! We wandered around, and eventually found it! Next time one of us will have to pay attention! We got back to the room around 10:30, just in time to finish today's trip notes & read some of the message board posts.

    Although we've only been on vacation for 4 days, it feels like a lot longer. Maybe I go on vacation so often I'm able to immediately relax - rather than needing a week to unwind from work before I can start to enjoy myself! I'm thrilled and feel very fortunate that we've got another 11 days ahead of us - hope it passes as slowly as the last days have! Tomorrow will be MK in the morning, then Disney Quest. I'll be at Comedy Warehouse tomorrow night, while Chris will stay at Disney Quest.

    DAY 5 - TUESDAY, JULY 27, 1999:

    Woke up at 5:45 with the alarm again, and ate the multi-grain breadstick from the Canada meal for breakfast. I'd received a message yesterday about the member's update continental breakfast this morning & decided that would be a good place for Chris to get something other than cereal (he says cereal doesn't fill him up). We went out to the bus stop & got on the first bus, arriving at the Hospitality House at 8am. It was really crowded! All seats were taken and the cm's were scrambling to find more. They brought some in from the pool area or somewhere, but still had many people who had to stand. Chris got a bagel & cream cheese, and some juice. The presentation is different now. The slide show on Vero/Hilton Head is gone! Now they do a multi media presentation, which was much more interesting, including a video that was prepared for Disney senior mgt last year. Due to the crowds of people coming in, they didn't get started until 8:15. They focused mostly on places outside of wdw for us to spend our points. Someone asked if the free park pass program would be continued. The answer was an emphatic "ABSOLUTELY NOT". The cm said that program "cost" Disney $35 million per year, and it would not be continued. However, dvc is in negotiation for ~something~ to replace that - it won't be as good, but it will be something - and we will be notified via letter. He mentioned there are 75-80 new places we can use our dvc points (they were really pushing to get us out of dvc resorts). We saw an artist's rendering of the new WL dvc - it looks like the regular WL except it's got a rust colored roof instead of the kelly green. It'll be 136 units, no grand villas, and will be sold from the BW sales office. When the new OKW units are done there will be 350,000 to 400,000 points available for sale, to members first. A letter is going out about this - he said we might have it waiting for us when we get home from here. He also stated this would be the last opportunity for okw points. By now it was getting late, and I wanted to be at MK for opening, so we left. We'll never know if our number was drawn for the door prize - probably not.

    We had to wait for the next MK bus, and arrived just after 9am. We walked right onto the new Pooh ride, which I video taped. Chris really liked it, so we stayed on for a 2nd ride since no body was in line waiting. Next we walked onto Buzz Lightyear, where Chris easily beat my score. He went on again while I sat on a bench & waited. He wanted to ride the Astro Orbiter, so I rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and then he joined me for a second round. By now it was getting busier, so we decided to leave MK. There were huge crowds coming in, and I think I would choose to skip the MK before I would arrive there at 10am! We got to the bus stop at 10:15, and a bus came right away. Unfortunately, the driver informed me the bus would first be going to TTC, then Typhoon Lagoon, and then finally to OKW. I was furious - but didn't take it out on the driver. As a dvc member at OKW, our annual dues are what pays for the bus. Given that, the okw bus has NO BUSINESS ever going to the TTC, since okw guests/members don't need to be there. Our buses certainly should NOT be used to pick up day guests from the TTC & take them to a @@#%@ water park! Boy, was I ticked off - just wait until I get my hands on a comment card! Of course, when we get to the disgusting TTC there's a huge crowd of people, who filled the bus to standing room only. By the time we got to OKW it was over 35 minutes.

    Back in the room I ate 1/4 of my marshmallow thing to help calm my nerves - lol! Chocolate has so many wonderful uses ;-) I had Chris put some ice in the cooler, loaded it in the car, and then we drove over to Disney Quest. I'm not sure if I explained this before, so please excuse me if it's a repeat. Back in November they were running a special buy 1, get 1 free at DQ for AP holders. At that time it was not unlimited admission, it was the 60 units for $15 or 90 units for $20. The admissions would be good for up to a year, and I figured it would make a great Christmas gift for Chris. I ended up with 4 admissions (2 for each of us), of which I had 3 left (2 for him, 1 for me). These ended up costing me $10 each, and should be good for the $25 all day admission. The cm scanned them to be sure they were good, and since they'd never been used told me each one could be traded for 2 admissions! So, we got 6 admission tickets that never expire. Each is worth $25, but the cost to us was now $5 each! I felt like I'd hit the jackpot or something - it was great!

    We rode the Buzz Lightyear bumper car thing, played some arcade games & air hockey, and did the Aztec Treasure thing (remote control trucks). Chris had several redemption tickets from his last visit, so we redeemed them (830 points). He ended up getting a Tootsie Roll bank full of tootsie rolls for 500 points, a Candy Popper for 300 points, and saved the rest of his points for another time. It was time for lunch, and we had trouble finding 1 thing that we both wanted, & I figured that since I'd be getting cheesecake I'd just eat some of whatever Chris wanted. He got a Quest Burger with cheese & fries ($5.69 after 10% dvc discount). I generally don't ever eat burgers, because just a few bites is all I want/need, so this worked out fine. I cut about 1/4 off Chris' burger for me & he inhaled the rest. I think the speed at which his disappeared had more to do with him wanting to get back to the games, as the burger was just ok. I wouldn't order another one! At this point I'd had enough of DQ, so I left Chris with instructions to beep me if he decided to leave before midnight. Before I left I bought a piece of chocolate mousse cheesecake to go ($5.02 with dvc discount). For non-dvc members, you can get the same discount if you have an Annual Pass. I put the cheesecake in the cooler and drove back to OKW.

    I ~had~ to try a few bites, just to make sure it was ok (yeah, right). It was better than ok - Cheesecake Factory cheesecake is the best thing I've ever tasted! After putting the rest of it in the refrigerator, I headed over to Belz Outlets, taking the back roads to I-4. Thank you to Jodi (djpix) for sending those directions! Traffic on I-4 was surprisingly light. As usual, I only shopped at Character Warehouse & Character Premiere. I found a beautiful zippered tote bag with the tree of life & several animals (orig $34, now $11.99) and bought 2 - 1 for me & the other will be part of a Christmas gift. I also picked up some clothes, but changed my mind when I remembered that starting Saturday the State of FL is waiving sales tax on clothing for about a week or so. I may go back to buy them next week (if they're still there). I was gone for about 2 hours, getting back to OKW about 3:15.

    I threw a load of laundry in, and updated the trip report while watching General Hospital again. The pool by building 55 was very crowded - not sure why. As a dvc member we can pool hop to any pool on wdw property, and I'd never waste my afternoon at one of the okw pools when there are so many great ones on the property. No body was doing laundry, either, so I didn't have to wait for a machine.

    I just love this resort so much! When I'm here I'm totally comfortable, and really feel like this is where I belong. I've got Chris convinced that when I retire I'm just going to move into okw & spend most of the year there! Actually, as a solo person I'd be quite happy living in the 1br unit - but for a week or 2 a studio works just fine. I've got enough points now to stay in a studio 63 nights in value season, provided I move out each weekend - lol!

    About 5 I cut some of the cheesecake, and had that for dinner. I left the room about 5:30, to take the bus to Downtown Disney. After about 5 minutes, though a group of smokers came & stood in the bus stop area smoking. Ick! I stood around the other side by the ice machine, then got tired of waiting & just drove over. I parked over near Planet Hollywood, walked to Disney Quest, & found Chris playing a basketball game. He said it had gotten very busy for a while, with someone standing behind him to wait for the game every time he did anything. Right now it was relatively quiet, though. He was hungry, so I got him a couple pieces of cheese pizza ($5.63 after discount) and sat with him while he ate. We played a few games, and around 6:45 I left for Pleasure Island.

    I checked with cm Nancy at the Comedy Warehouse, but she didn't have the schedule of who was performing in each show yet. We talked for a while about the actors who had recently left, and she told me that both Peter & Paul (the heavy set twin brothers - very funny guys) and Greg were leaving soon. This means that most of the people I liked the best will be gone by my next trip. I said I hoped Layden never left, and she said not to worry - Layden is married to wdw! Also a couple of other favorites (Mark & Mary) each have a spouse/kids in the area & she thought they'd stay put. I hope so! Nancy also mentioned that I wasn't the only one who asked about Layden to see the shows he was in - others do also. She said he'd be working as Doug over at Doug Live for the first 3 shows either Wednesday or Thursday this week. I decided to take my chances with the first show, and after I was seated she came by to tell me she'd checked the schedule & Layden would be in shows 2,4,&5. Oh well, show 1 was good - not hysterical, but still very good. I got back in line for show 2, and taped most of it. Besides Layden, it featured Mary, Greg, Paul & Matt. I spoke to Greg briefly after the show, and wished him well. He said he might be back, he just didn't know yet. I also found out from Layden that he'd be doing Doug on Thursday, so I'll probably tape it that day. I doubt Chris will want to see it again, but you never know.

    I skipped the 3rd show, and wandered around a bit before heading into the Adventurer's Club. I arrived in time for the new member induction ceremony. The club wasn't busy at all, which was kind of nice! I went into the library for the show - the singalong featuring Samantha Sterling, and it was hysterical! Lots of audience participation/interaction, and I wished I'd taped it. Perhaps one night next week I'll come back at the same time. I saw the 4th show at Comedy Warehouse (very funny), and then left PI to drive back to OKW. I got back just before midnight, and Chris wasn't home yet. He got in about 12:20 am. He stayed at Disney Quest until the security guard threw him out at closing again - another 13 hour day there. I guess I got my $5 worth on that admission! He also bought a piece of cheesecake while he was there & ate the whole thing about 11pm!!! Now he's announcing he's hungry again, so he's eating some m&m's. I don't know, there must have been a switch at the hospital 12 years ago - this kid didn't get his appetite from me! I've grown attached to him though, so I guess I'll keep him - at least for as long as I can afford to feed him!

    DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 1999:

    Since last night was a late night, I decided we'd sleep in this morning. For me that meant setting the alarm at 6:45 instead of 5:45, so I could get the internet stuff done in the morning. Chris will likely sleep at least half the morning away! Between posting, taking care of e-mail, & IM's with a couple of friends it was after 8 before I had time for my cappuccino/cereal. It was funny to get an e-mail from Darla (iluvdvc) had to leave for work & noticed yesterday's report wasn't posted yet - she wanted to know what was up....where the heck is it? She was just teasing, just as I'd do to her. When she's at wdw I look forward to getting online to see her latest installment, and if it's not there yet I watch for her to sign on & start nicely bugging her to get it done! I e-mailed yesterday's report to her at work so she doesn't have to wait until tonight to read it.

    I drove to Animal Kingdom, arriving about 8:50. I was able to walk right onto Countdown to Extinction. As I was leaving the preshow (I was the first one in, so I was standing right by the exit door), a man & his 2 pre teen boys pushed ahead of me and ran down the stairs. When they got to the loading area a cm asked how many in their party, and they stood there like idiots blocking the way because they'd left Mom behind in the crowd! So, they had to move out of the way so the cm's could load me & the others. By the time they told me to get in the front row, and told a man & his son to do the same, they were out of time & needed to send the car through with just the 3 of us on it!

    After Countdown I went to wait for the Tarzan Rocks show, which was the main purpose of today's AK visit. People were lined up at the rope at 9:20, so I joined them. At 9:30 they dropped that rope & we moved ahead to the next rope. About 7-8 minutes later they dropped that rope & we moved ahead to the final rope. That one dropped about 9:45, and we were let in for the first show of the day (10am). I took a seat in the front row of the second section. Kathy had warned me that there'd be inline skaters in the area between the 2 sections, and I didn't want to miss that. Plus, in these seats there'd be nobody sitting in front of me blocking my view. The show was good - but more of a concert than a show. I'd heard they'd toned the volume down some, and I think they could tone it down a little more in parts. The skaters were great, and Tarzan & Jane were so strong! Tarzan was awfully good looking, too ;-) He's very muscular - I'm not sure, but I think it may have been John (Parcel) today <g>.

    When the show ended I drove back to okw, and found Chris still asleep at 11am! Today is trash & towel day & housekeeping had come by but didn't knock because of the do not disturb sign on the door. After waking up Chris I decided to let him pick where we'd go next. MGM was out of the question, as it was EE day today, and MK would be too crowded by now. That left Epcot or swimming - and he chose swimming. The next decision was .... at which resort. I ate a few bites of my cheesecake while he decided, and he picked Boardwalk. He was also hungry, so he ate some m&m's to tide him over until we could get him lunch. I wasn't thrilled with the Boardwalk idea, since you have to park so far away & hike through the lobby with our fun noodles. We drove over there, and self parked (thought about using valet but decided against it since it would likely be so busy with people arriving when we were ready to leave). We walked out to the pool, and although I've stayed here and used the pool here - one look and I was disappointed. It seemed so small, and so crowded. I didn't see any empty chairs, or any quiet corner of the pool. So, I told Chris we were going back to Stormalong Bay!

    First we walked out on the boardwalk so I could show him the balcony to the room I had last month. What a great view that was! Since it was so hot I decided we'd wait in the shade for the MGM boat, since it would take us directly to Yacht/Beach Club. The driver was the tall hunky guy with the gorgeous voice (Captain Ron). He's not much for interacting with the guests, but I can sit on the boat watching him & listening to his voice for hours, lol!

    We walked right into Stormalong Bay, as there were no cm's at the gates. We found a couple of lounge chairs, and then headed for the lazy river to float around. We floated for about 45 minutes, and then returned to the chairs. Chris needed lunch, so he went off to Hurricane Hanna's & came back with chicken strips with grapes and an order of fries ($6.63). I got about 3/4 of 1 of the chicken strips, most of the grapes (I ate them before he noticed what I was doing - hehehe), and a few fries. I was planning on sharing a Frozen Sunshine later, so didn't need much lunch. After eating I read for a while, then we floated around some more, then I went back to reading while Chris played in the other pool areas. About 3:15 he came back & we decided to leave the pool. He got us a table outside of Beaches & Cream while I got changed, and then I went to buy the Frozen Sunshine. Unfortunately the entire inside was packed with people waiting in line, and it wasn't moving. On top of that, there was a really snotty little girl with her grandparents behind me - she was positively hateful towards them & they were just taking it. I would have jerked her back up to the room & into bed if she was mine! Anyway, besides the snotty little brat and the non moving line I decided nothing was worth this and told Chris we'd try again another time.

    We walked back over to Boardwalk (pant, pant - it was hot). I bought a strawberry slushie thing at the cappuccino cart right on the corner near the Screen Door store ($3.50), which Chris had most of. I thought it was ok, but it made me thirsty. We returned to OKW & relaxed in the air conditioning. I ate some more of the marshmallow thing and updated my notes. He watched the Disney Channel - some animal show. Tonight he's heading to Epcot, and I'll be back at Comedy Warehouse.

    I left the room at 5, with Chris saying he'd be going out about 6. I figured I'd take the Trumbo Ferry to Downtown Disney and do some shopping before it was time for the Comedy Warehouse shows, so I set out to walk to the Hospitality House. Unfortunately I was hearing loud thunder & had dark clouds to my left and my right...so I figured the ferry would probably be out of service. The entire time I was walking not a single bus passed me until I was practically there (1 AK bus), so I'm glad I didn't wait at the bus stop. Sure enough, the ferry was temporarily out of service, so I checked my bill at the front desk, and then walked out to the bus stop just as a Downtown Disney bus arrived (how lucky). Chris got off this bus - he used it as transportation to come play basketball before going to Epcot. I arrived at the Marketplace in about 5 minutes, just after 5:30. I looked through some of the shops that I like, during which time there was a very brief rain shower and the the sun came right back out. In the World of Disney shop I bought some year 2000 merchandise - a luggage tag, refrigerator magnet, and a pin to wear on my non-Disney shirts to turn them into Disney clothes <g>. For those of you who haven't seen the 2000 logo, each of the 3 "0"'s are arranged to form a mickey head and a character is coming out of each one. Donald's in the first one, Mickey's in the middle one, and Goofy's in the last one. They're all holding hands and underneath it says Walt Disney World Celebrate the future hand in hand.

    I walked around the edge of the PI parking lot (faster than walking through PI) to get to the West Side. After 2 days of chocolate mousse cheesecake and chocolate covered marshmallows with m&m's I kind of felt like eating something more "real" so I headed to Bongo's outdoor cafe and got a chicken empanada ($1.33 with tax). It was just enough, and very good. It was nice sitting outside relaxing with the Latin music & watching all the tourists.

    I entered Pleasure Island about 6:45, as usual, and soon got in line at Comedy Warehouse. I started talking to a solo woman in front of me (Connie from Texas) who happened to be the mother of the cm working the line (Steven). Steven's here on the college intern program for 3 months and Connie had come out for a visit, staying at BW Inn. She called Steven over & I asked him to please check the schedule & tell me which shows my favorite actor (Layden) would be appearing in. He came back & said it would be #2,4&5. I thought it was an odd coincidence that it was exactly the same as last night, but no alarm bells went off in my head. I decided to skip the 1st show so that I'd be sure to get a great seat for show #2, and told Connie I'd hold her a place in line (she was going to see both). The Adventurer's Club was closed until 9 for a private party, so I just wandered around PI rather aimlessly. About 7:30 I went to the bar outside Comedy Warehouse to order my Bye Bye Blues (the bartender knew how to make it).

    After getting my drink I noticed cm Nancy from last night. She saw me & immediately said she'd go check the schedule & let me know which shows Layden would be in - lol! I told her Steven had already done that, but maybe he'd looked at the wrong day (it had started to bother me that the shows were the same #'s as last night, but I didn't want to go back to Steven & suggest that he'd messed up), so asked her to check anyways. She came back & said Layden was working shows #1,3,4&5. So, I skipped #1 on purpose so I could see #2, figuring I'd then skip #3 & see #4. Now I was all messed up - but wasn't upset at all (disappointed for myself, but not at anyone). After giving it some thought I decided to also skip #2 & just start with #3. Both Nancy & Steven said they would make sure I got the seats I wanted for that show. I ended up hanging around talking with Nancy from 7:30 until about 9:00 - which made the time go by quickly. Sometimes a guest would come up & ask a question about the show & she'd have me answer it (questions like "are the shows funny"). Connie decided to see the 2nd show at the last minute, so when I got in line for the 3rd show I held a spot for her & when she came out Steven sent her in to where I was. Sure enough, we were seated in the front row of seats after the seats on the floor. We were perfectly in front of the stage, as close as you can be without having to look up. The show was great, and they did one of my favorite routines - where 4 actors tell a story conducted by the 5th actor. When an actor messes up, he has to die. The last actor standing then wraps up the story. It got down to Layden & Mary, and they both were outstanding (Layden telling the story in the style of "war" and Mary in the style of "kinky") - and it became apparent that neither of them was likely to mess up any time soon so the conductor just had them wrap it up together. It's the first time I saw this with 2 "winners".

    When we came out of the show Steven told us he'd "back door" us for the 4th show - since the line was already long. I was thrilled to death! We were taken in the back door before the other guests were admitted, and once again had the great seats. I was able to video tape parts of the show very easily from here. So, I still got to see 2 shows with my favorite actor, had great seats each time, and had the added bonus of spending time with Nancy, Connie, & Brian (Connie's 18 yr old son who joined us for show #3 & 4). The evening actually worked out better than my original plan - I'm so glad I struck up that conversation at 7pm! Connie & I both decided we weren't going to stay for the 5th show at 12:05. On the way out, several of the actors had come out from backstage. Layden saw us coming & leaned over to catch my eye to say good night - after all the nights I've spent here it's such fun to be recognized.

    I headed for the bus stop, and had to wait 25 minutes or more for an okw bus. I think I'll stick with the car for more of my PI trips from now on. Got back to the room about 12:30 or so - Chris was already in bed asleep. I have no idea how his evening went, so I'll update that in tomorrow morning's report. I finished my marshmallow thing, updated the report, and it was lights out about 1:30 am. I think I'm going to need a vacation from my vacation when I get home! ;-)

    DAY 7 - THURSDAY, JULY 29, 1999:

    Today the alarm was set for 6:10, which gave me a maximum possible 4.5 hours of sleep. Chris woke up (with help from me) at 7:45. Last night he played basketball at OKW for about an hour, then went to Epcot. The Sega games were not open (Innoventions). He rode Test Track 3 times, then the ride shut down for an indefinite period so he left. He bought a prepaid phone card under Spaceship Earth, and called his Dad. For dinner he got a cheeseburger from the Electric Umbrella. He got back to okw at 8, played basketball again for an hour, then returned to the room to check his e-mail (his dad had told him he'd sent a message).

    After cappuccino/cereal we got ready to head to MGM. I wanted to see Layden as Doug again, this time with the camcorder. Chris wasn't sure he wanted to see the show again, but would be going into the park anyway so that afterwards he'd be with me. We left about 8:40 for the drive to MGM (didn't feel like risking a 45 minute return trip on the buses). We arrived in the park just as the ropes were dropping. I headed off to kill time in the shops, while Chris went in the other direction - with plans to meet outside Doug Live at 10am.

    As I wandered towards Doug Live about 9:15, Chris was waiting for me. He'd changed his mind & decided to see it again. The theater was less than half full, which seems typical for the first show of the day. Later shows will fill up in advance & people will be turned away. Layden was performing as Doug, and I got pretty much the entire show on tape. I especially like the parts where he sings - he's got a nice voice when he's not goofing around. After the show I asked Chris if he liked it any better the second time around (remember the first time he declared it "stupid") and he admitted he did. He said the guy playing Doug this time was better than the last guy. I thought the last guy did a great job, but I'm still partial to Layden, based I guess on having enjoyed him at Comedy Warehouse for so long. Chris asked who he was, and when I said "Layden", Chris remembered seeing him 3 years ago at Comedy Warehouse - and proceeded to remind me of several of the different characters/things Layden did in the shows Chris saw! He was right, too - and agreed that Layden is great. When Chris gets older I'll start taking him to PI again, but right now I'd rather he spend his time at Disney Quest or in the parks. I don't like other people's kids at PI, so I stopped bringing mine a few years ago. I wonder....Chris has an awfully good memory. So how come he "forgets" when I tell him to clean his room or pick up his dirty clothes??? He can't recall what I said 5 minutes ago, but he can recall what a stranger said/did in a series of comedy shows 3 years ago!

    Next we went on the Great Movie Ride, and only had to wait for the next showing. We got the western side (my favorite). Chris was claiming to be hungry again, so after the ride we headed back to the Commissary. By now it was 10:45, so breakfast was over & they were serving lunch. He had said the Caesar Wrap looked disgusting when I mentioned it the other day, so I'd written off any hope of getting one this week. To my surprise, he suggested we try it. I have him the larger 1/2, and once he'd taken a couple of bites he said it was delicious. He immediately eyed my 1/2 and kept asking "you going to eat that?", so being a good mother I only ate about 4 bites and gave him the rest. I asked him if this was his lunch, and he replied "no, it's another breakfast". We'll see about that!

    After eating we returned to OKW and went to the South Point pool for swimming & to do laundry. There was a family there with 3 little boys. The boys were playing with the shower, letting it run continuously to they could flood out the playground. The parents just sat there letting the darlings play. After the laundry was done we returned to the room. I finished my cheesecake (good to the last bite) & caught up reading some of the message board posts from the last couple of days. Chris watched some tv & then went to play basketball. On his way back a cm on a golf cart asked where he was headed, and told him to get on & he'd give him a ride back. The cm mentioned that everyone in our building (#52) was checking out tomorrow, and the building would be closed for a week while they repainted & refurbished everything. I think it looks fine as it is, but whatever! He also mentioned seeing Rufus - the cm who drives the Trumbo Ferry - who saw him & said "hey, welcome back"! It's nice for Chris to be recognized, too <g>. Evidently the resort has bought some new bikes, so Chris got $4 of his money & headed back up to rent a bike for an hour. I took another shower & started packing, since we're heading back to Daytona Beach Shores in the morning. Chris came back about 30 minutes later - he wasn't able to rent a bike because they require a parent to sign the release if you're under 18. At this point there isn't time to go back & rent one since we've got plans for tonight. So, Chris took his shower & got cooled off.

    We left the room around 5:45, and drove over to Coronado Springs to meet Gail & Joel (Jdocter7). I spotted Gail & Joel in the lounge at CS, and so I yelled "hey, don't I know you from aol?" - in accordance to what she tells people to do in her posts. It was great seeing them again - we were at wdw the same time last December, and that was the first time we'd met in person. While we were sitting there talking a woman came over and asked if we were Gail & Sue. It turned out it was Diana (Dhester917)! I guess I hadn't realized Diana would be in wdw, but she & her daughter Jodi were there staying at CS. I'd never met Diana before, so this was a real treat. She's every bit as nice as she seems on the boards :-)

    I ordered a glass of white zinfandel, which at $6.10 seemed rather high! If I'd realized it was that much I wouldn't have bothered. I took Chris next door to the Pepper Market where we got the market nachos to go ($7.69) and brought them back over to the lounge & ate them for dinner. Gail & Joel's daughters arrived, and we all had a nice visit. About 7:45 Chris & I had to leave for the West Side, as we had tickets for the 8:30 Cirque du Soleil show and the tickets said to arrive 30 minutes prior.

    We drove over, and I grabbed the first parking spot I found. We dashed over to Cirque, only to be told by a cm there that it'd be 15 minutes before they dropped the rope because they were still cleaning from the first show. I went back to the parking lot to move the car over to Pleasure Island because I figured Cirque would end about 10, and I'd have time to catch the 10:40 Comedy Warehouse show, and I'd rather not have to walk all the way back to the West Side to get the car. I found a PI spot, entered PI & got my wrist band, then left PI & walked back to meet Chris at Cirque. We still had about a 5 minute wait, then were let in. I had a coupon from the July PI AP newsletter that got us a free soda & popcorn at Cirque, so we did that & then went to our seats.

    The theater is nice, not too large so all seats should be good. The seats were comfortable, too. We had section 203, row AA (first row), seats 4 & 5. This particular row consisted of 5 seats, so we were on the end. It was pretty much center stage, slightly to the left. They were great seats! A couple of times during the show the performers are on the walkway between the top & bottom sections, so they were right there in front of us. I'd expected the show to start at 8:30, but it didn't. A couple of clowns came out & did some stuff around 8:45 or so, and then the show finally started at 9:00. The show is hard to describe. There are elements of acrobatic stuff that you'd see in a circus, and clowns, but none of it is performed in the cheesy way regular circuses do it (I'm not a circus fan). The music, costuming, lighting, effects, all add to the acrobatic aspect to really make it a work of art! There were trapeze artists, high wire walkers, stunt bicyclists, girls doing amazing things with diabolos, a guy balancing on 8 chairs, trampoline stuff, and so much more. The time passed quickly, and the performers got a standing ovation at the end. There were not many children present, and only a couple toddlers. One was screaming (on the other side), but fortunately the mother had the sense to leave with the kid in order to stop disrupting others. I heard one other one briefly.

    When I knew Cirque was coming to wdw I thought it would be interesting to see, but was unsure if Chris would like it. I did NOT want to pay $120 for us to see a show only to have him declare it was "boring" or "stupid" after it was all over. I actually planned to see it without him, but didn't have a trip with another adult planned at the time. After Kathy (dznynut) saw it with her 12 yr old son and reported that David loved it, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did, because Chris absolutely loved it! All the way back to okw he kept saying "that was so cool"! He said he could see that show over & over & over again (I told him not at $120 a show - lol).

    Since the show didn't start until 9, it didn't end until 10:40 - so I never made it to the Comedy Warehouse. Instead, we drove back to okw, he went to bed & I finished the report & looked over some of the videos I'd shot the past couple of days. Tomorrow we leave OKW for Daytona Beach Shores, but we'll be back for more okw on Sunday.

    DAY 8 - FRIDAY, JULY 30, 1999: - Back to Daytona Beach!

    Woke up at 7 this morning - almost like sleeping in! I finished packing up the stuff, and found the rest of the breadsticks from Canada. Not sure how I forgot about those, but they're in the trash now. I posted yesterday's report, and then chatted with a new internet friend Celine (Cee) who lives in France & is a Pleasure Island fan. We talked yesterday too before I headed to Cirque - what fun to be sitting in my wdw resort IM'ing with a person in France, lol. Anyway - Bonjour to Celine, and thanks for the PI information. ;-) I hope my friend Larry from Scotland is out there working on his trip report. He returned from 2 weeks at wdw just before I started this trip.

    Since today is Friday, and local people have to get to work, I figured it would be best to leave around 9 to avoid the downtown Orlando traffic. I woke sleepyhead - I mean Chris - up about 8:30. He'd sleep all day if I let him. Eat & sleep - that's his life! We left about 9:10, arriving back at the Best Western Aku Tiki in Daytona Beach Shores at 10:40. There was a mix up at check in. They couldn't find the change the manager made to my reservation last week - from a smoking ocean view standard room to a non smoking pool/ocean view room with a kitchen. The clerk mentioned the room number, and I knew that number was not on the the pool side and wasn't on the non smoking floor. She tried to tell me I didn't request non smoking, so I got smoking. I told her that last weekend they HAD switched me to non smoking for this trip, and I would have canceled my stay if non smoking was not available! She found a non smoking room. It wasn't the pool/kitchen, but I didn't care about that. This room is $63 with the AAA discount, and the other one would have been $80 - so for the 2 nights I'll save the $34 & spend it at wdw! Also, to get the phone turned on you need to either leave a $20 deposit or give them a credit card. I gave them the same card as last weekend, and she gave it back to me saying she couldn't use that one because it's a check card. I told her this hotel took it for the phone last weekend, and she insisted that they probably messed up my checking account then! Get real, lady - I use this card at wdw resorts all the time & have never had a problem! This whole experience was just screaming TACKY at me. I think it's realy tacky to make guests pay a deposit in order to have the phone turned on. Also it's a $5 deposit per key, refundable when you return them. I still love the beach here, but today this hotel is definitely getting on my nerves. Maybe it's not a good idea to stay in a wdw resort and then immediately move into a hotel anywhere else. No place else measures up after a Disney resort. The room wasn't ready yet, so we went to the beach for a while.

    The lifeguard stand had the water temperature listed as 78, which surprised me. It did feel cool in the water, though, so I guess it was right. The air temperature was very hot - supposed to be close to 100 today at the beach! I sat in my chair near the water & was uncomfortably hot. High tide was about an hour ago, so the tide was going out & the waves were not that great. Our room was ready about 12:30, and we moved in. It was about the same as the one last weekend, except this one didn't feel so humid. In the last one nothing ever dried - towel, bathing suits, etc. Since we didn't have a kitchen I brought in the portable hot pot (to boil water for cappuccino) and the one cereal bowl. As I finished unpacking what little stuff we brought in for the weekend, my beeper went off - with a message to call work asap. It turns out there was some budget meeting in Tallahassee (state capitol) & as a result they needed to talk to each of the 5 institutions about a series of budget issues going before the legislature this session. I called the person in Tallahassee, but he wasn't there. Not wanting to sit around inside a hotel room at the beach all afternoon, I called my counterpart at the Gainesville institution (Tom - you might remember him from my birthday trip last November). He wasn't in either Tom did call back first though, and while we were chatting he got word that Tallahassee person was on the other line. Then Tallahassee guy called me - fortunately it's good news rather than bad news (additional budget rather than budget cuts) this time, and all they really needed was stategy talk - no number crunching or analysis! Thank goodness! At work I'm considered executive management, and between Tom & I we're the leaders on any statewide issues that involve the institutions, so while getting called/beeped on vacation might seem like a big inconvenience, it's really not that bad. I enjoy my job, and realize that it's what gives me the flexibility & resources to take frequent vacations - so I'd never blow them off if something important came up while I was on vacation. Luckily, it's only ever happened that they needed to call me maybe 3-4 times over the past 12 years.

    While I was taking care of business (hey, wouldn't that make a cool song title) Chris ate a couple bowls of cereal for lunch. I managed a handful or 2 of chex snack mix, and that's it. Once the Tallahassee phone call was completed I returned to the beach, & Chris came down a few minutes later. For some reason, the water felt warmer, and the air was more comfortable too. We stayed down on the beach until about 4pm. I floated on the waves with Colin's boogie board, looked at a couple of magazines, and rested. In fact, I almost dozed off at one point - the result of living on 4-5 hours sleep for the past week I guess.

    We returned to the room & I sent a couple of business related e-mails about the earlier budget thing. Since I was online, I went ahead & caught up on the personal e-mail and downloaded message board posts for reading later tonight. We showered & headed out for dinner at 5:30 - pretty hungry by now! Last weekend at the baseball game we won a free individual deep dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno, so we headed out to claim our prize. The restaurant is on the mainland, just across the street from the race track where they run the Daytona 400 (or whatever it is - I'm not a racing fan). I ordered a glass of white zinfandel ($3.89 - much more reasonable than the $6.10 per glass inside wdw) and the free individual cheese/tomato pizza (would have been $5.29). Chris got the thin crust Superoni Pizza, which has pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, & fresh tomato ($6.99). There was a screeching toddler in the restaurant - a cute little blonde girl, but the screeching was pretty annoying. When the food came, mine was a cute little pizza about 6 inches across. Chris' came on this huge platter, and hung over the sides! He started to laugh at my puny little pizza (it did look funny in comparison to his) and the waitress told him not to laugh - that the little was was very filling! As you can probably guess, I ate about 1/4 of mine. Chris ate ALL of his, plus 1/4 of mine! We took the other 1/2 of mine back to the room for tomorrow. The check after the coupon was $11.54 - so we left $14 & were on our way.

    In Daytona Beach itself the center of activity is the Main Street Pier. There's a boardwalk, but it's not nearly as nice as the BW at wdw! There's a long pier, but you have to pay to walk on it (so I refuse to, on principle). There's a sky ride ($4/person), and a space needle thing where you ride like a glass elevator ($3/person). Is it starting to make wdw look like a bargain yet? There are many places to get something to eat, but they're all fast food, counter service places with people who look like carnival workers working there. Most places have signs informing you that their restaurants are for their customers only (if you don't buy something you can't pee there), and signs that their tables are for their customers only. There are many arcades, some tacky kiddie rides, a very small go cart track, a rock climbing wall ($5/person), Sky Coaster (you lay down, they pull you way up to the top of a pole, and then drop you so you go swinging out over the boardwalk) & an inverted bungee thing. We don't ever actually do much, besides sitting & watching the brave/crazy people doing the sky coaster & bungee things. I got Chris some salt water taffy in one of the shops, and we shared a Hawaiian Shaved Ice - $2.50 and only 69 calories. It's like a kaki gori in Japan, and we got the creamsicle flavor since I missed the Frozen Sunshine last week. Tomorrow night they'll be doing fireworks from the pier again, as they are doing every Saturday night this summer. We won't be going though, since we saw them from the ballpark last Saturday night. I'm not crazy about being in this area after dark, because finding a parking spot is a pain (tonight we were a few blocks away) and there are some people that are probably ok, but I don't feel comfortable around some folks who are so different from me - such as men with hair down to their waist & long scraggly beards, young people with the boxer shorts sticking out of the baggy pants hanging practically below their butts - I'd rather be surrounded by Disney-looking people!

    We left the pier around 8:30 or so, stopped at a Winn Dixie (what a scummy store) for more water & a box of donuts for Chris (he's eaten 4 of the dozen already - but they're not full size), & returned to the room. He watched tv, I worked on the report. The news anchor (Orlando station) reported that several people were brought to the emergency room due to the heat/humidity, so they're warning people to be careful. It's possible it might not be so extremely hot after Sunday. It crossed my mind that I ~could~ make it to a couple Comedy Warehouse shows....Daytona is only 1.5 hours away - but I wouldn't leave Chris alone & then leave town. I'll have 4 nights for that when I return to wdw. It wasn't so hard leaving Old Key West this morning. I always know when my next trip(s) will be, but it's never been only 2 days later!

    DAY 9 - SATURDAY, JULY 31, 1999: - Daytona Beach

    This morning I didn't get up until 8am! It feels like half the day is gone, lol, but I needed the sleep! Today's another beach day, so no point in cleaning up too much. I posted yesterday's report & started on the e-mail. Harold (htroupe) IM'd me - he's home already from his wdw trip, and wishing he was still at okw (we all know that feeling). So far on this trip we've only had rain 1 time, and it was barely 10-15 minutes in duration, and not very heavy.

    I was sitting in the room working on the laptop, when there was a knock at the door. I know I put the do not disturb sign out last night, so I was a little confused. I opened the door, and the housekeeper was there with her cart asking if I was ready for her! I pointed to the do not disturb sign, and said no. She looked confused, and said the sign says "maid service". LOL - it's a 2 sided sign rather than one that says do not disturb on both sides (like at wdw), so she was here trying to do my room early since I'd requested it! It was about 9:30. I turned the sign around, and she just laughed & said to put it back to maid service when I was ready, and she'd keep checking. She was really nice about it, and it was kind of funny. Chris slept through it all (zzzzzzzz).

    I finally woke him up around 10, and we headed out to the beach about 10:30. We took a long walk - I did 4-5 miles, but Chris gave up about 2/3 of the way. I got back about 11:45, and housekeeping had already cleaned the room. We each got a cold drink and brought the chair & boogie boards down to the beach. We boogie boarded, played ping pong, and then had lunch in the room around 1pm. Chris ate a huge bowl of cereal, the rest of his donuts, and then we shared the rest of the pizza. We ate on our balcony overlooking the ocean, and then headed back to the beach for more boogie boarding until about 4pm. The afternoon always feels more comfortable, probably because the breeze has picked up & it's blowing off the cooler water to keep the air comfortable. When the tide went out far enough Chris went to the sandbar, where some pelicans kept diving in to catch fish! The water was very clear - standing in hip deep water I could see down to the ocean floor. Happily we've managed 2 weekends in a row, 4 days at the beach without any sunburn. I think we're about as dark as people can be & still be viewed as caucasian, though! While staying this dark wouldn't be healthy, for a vacation look I like it.

    We showered & got dressed, but took our time doing so. I'd decided we were skipping the Main Street Pier area tonight. Instead we were headed to Sam's Club to buy more video tapes and then to the Volusia Mall & a shoe store (Just for Feet) near there. Today thru 8/8 there is no sales tax on clothing or shoes, kind of a back to school shopping help the FL legislature started last year. It seems as good a time as any to start thinking about back to school stuff.

    We left about 5:30, picked up the video tapes at Sam's Club and got Chris a frozen yogurt there (huge portion) for $1.06. Definitely a great value. We stopped at Just For Feet, but didn't get anything except a free bag of popcorn (our store does this too, so it must be standard for them). The Volusia Mall was right next door, and that was our final stop. First we got a free gift by showing our room key at the customer service desk. It was a combination lock that I might use on luggage if Chris can ever remember what he changed the combination to! There's a Disney Store in the mall, but it seemed smaller than the one at home. We found a pair of Nike shoes for Chris on sale in one of the store. At Petite Sophisticate I found a really pretty summer dress (pink - basic sheath with a sheer layer over it with something embroidered onto the sheer layer - all in the same color). It was originally $88, but tonight was $17.99 - and they had 2 left, one of which was my size (0). I think they're making their clothes larger than they used to several years ago, but as long as they make something that fits me I guess I can't complain. We had dinner in the food court. Chris hates chinese food, so I had no one to share any of that with. We ended up at Chick-fil-A. Not gourmet, but not as bad as McDonalds! He got the chick fil a chicken sandwich & medium waffle fries, and I got a grilled chicken thing (it was on the "lite", under 300 calorie menu as grilled chicken on skewers. Evidently nobody orders it, as they had to make it special, and had no skewers. It looked like they took a chicken breast, and sliced it into 4 paper thin chicken breasts, grilled it, and tossed the 4 pieces into a bag! It kind of reminded me of the Oasis Chicken Salad in Morocco, but not nearly as good. When I'd eaten half of it I heard Chris say "you gonna eat all that?", so I tossed one his way and then stole some of his waffle fries. He'd seen the bulk candy store, so we stopped there and got a little bit of several different candies.

    We left the mall about 8:30, and ran into some heavy traffic returning to the beach. Most likely it's people coming out for the fireworks tonight. We returned to the room to eat candy & watch tv/use the laptop. Just before 9:45 we went outside to watch the fireworks being shot off over the pier. They lasted about 15 minutes, and they put on a good show. It was strange though - we were 7 miles away so although we could see them clearly, we heard no fireworks noise. The only sound was the crashing of the waves on the beach. It was a beautiful night, with a sky full of stars - it would have been very romantic if I'd been traveling with a special male (other than Chris).

    Tomorrow morning we're leaving early to return to wdw. We're supposed to meet Sheila & Colin (they're joining us for the rest of the trip) at 9 inside the OKW lobby. Kathy (dznynut) was planning to join us for the day, but she had to cancel to take care of some before-school errands for one of her kids. She'll be cruising on the Wonder for a test cruise the week before the inaugural cruise (lucky thing), so she doesn't have much time to get the school stuff done.

    We're pretty much all packed up, with just a little to do in the morning. Lights out by 11.

    DAY 10 - SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 1999: - Return to WDW!

    I'd called for a 5:15 am wake up call. That's awfully early, but I wanted time to get the aol stuff done and still be on the road around 7am. It's 1.5 hours to wdw, but I wanted to allow for the possibility of traffic. Our friends Sheila & Colin will be coming from Sheila's parents house in Sebring, which is also 1.5 hours from wdw. They spent last night there, and her parents will be dogsitting for their dog (Buster).

    I found out it was 98 degrees here yesterday. Funny, with the afternoon breeze it actually felt comfortable. Today at wdw the heat index is expected to be 110! Ick! We checked out of the Aku Tiki and were on the road by 7:10. The person working the front desk remarked at what a great tan I had, and I told her it was all from 4 days there (the 2 weekends). We arrived at OKW about 8:35, pulling in just behind Sheila. History: about 4 years ago Chris & Colin were on the same little league team. I met Sheila at one of the many practices, and found she also enjoyed wdw. Our 2 families have been traveling together ever since.

    There was a huge line at check in - I'd never seen anything like that at okw before! I'd dropped the laptop & camcorder off with bell services on my way in. To my complete surprise, the cm checking us in told me my unit was ready!!! I could have fallen over, I was so shocked. In all my trips I've only had my unit ready before 4pm once, and that was at 2:30. To get in before 9am was a real treat!

    We drove over to building 40 - we're in unit 4021. It's a non smoking 1br, top floor (2nd floor), with a great view of a little pond with a fountain in the middle of it. It's close to the Turtle Pond bus stop, and the pool, and we don't get much bus noise at all. The unit appeared to have been recently refurbished - the sofa/loveseat looked new, and everything was fresh! No sign of any wear at all. I could gladly live here the rest of my life! We unpacked while the boys used the air pump to blow up Chris' air mattress. He & I will share the master bedroom, with me in the king bed & him on the floor somewhere. By day the air mattress fits nicely under the bed, out of the way. Sheila & Colin will share the living room. She's taking the sofa bed, and Colin will lay his sleeping bag on top of the discarded sofa cushions.

    All settled in, we drove over to the Beach Club to enjoy Stormalong Bay. It was the first time Sheila & Colin used this pool, and they enjoyed it. Sheila & I mostly floated around the lazy river, and the boys did some of everything. We ate an early lunch at Hurricane Hanna's - Sheila & I shared the Cape Cod Wrap with grapes (tortilla, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, thousand island dressing $4.85), and both boy tried it & wished that's what they had ordered. They each got a cheeseburger ($4.50) and shared cheese fries. There were several ducks who watched us eat, but we obeyed the signs and did not feed them. After more pool time, we decided to head out.

    We stopped at Beaches & Cream, and the 4 of us shared 2 Frozen Sunshines ($3.71 each). They were great! We left Beach Club about 1pm to return to OKW to get changed. Boy, it's great walking into this unit & knowing it's ours - so much nicer than a hotel room! We decided to go shopping at Belz, since sales tax is waived right now. Traffic was AWFUL on International Drive. I imagine all the locals are out doing their back to school shopping, and we sat in gridlock. Once we got there, though, I did pretty well with the bargains at Character Premiere & Character Warehouse. To give you an idea of what there was - here's what I bought:

    Man's rugby shirt (reg $54, now $12.99)

    Woman's corduroy Minnie jumper (reg $48, now $9.99) - and in size XS for me!!

    Woman's shirt with embroidered Mickey/Minnie (reg $34, now $10.99)

    Mickey America shirt (reg $28, now $7.99)

    Man's black AK 1998 shirt with embroidery (reg $36, now $9.99)

    Most of the stuff was Christmas gifts, except for my jumper & the AK shirt for Chris. The drive back was busy, but not as bad as the trip getting there. We stopped at Downtown Disney to exchange an old Disney Quest pass that Sheila had. The boys will be spending a day there later this week, and Sheila can give her pass to Colin to use so she doesn't have to buy him an admission. That done, we wandered down to the outdoor cafe at Bongo's for an early dinner. I'd told her about the empanada's, and that's what we got. They're $1.33 each with tax. I ate a chicken empanada, so did Sheila, and Chris ate 2 of the beef. Colin wasn't hungry. We went into the Cirque store & watched some of the amazing video in there, then returned to OKW.

    We dropped the boys off at the Hospitality House, where they got a couple of videos. I guess they're planning to stay at the resort tonight. On their way back it started raining, so some cm gave them a ride. I tried on my jumper - perfect fit (I would have been tempted to just throw it away rather than fight the traffic back to Belz if it did not fit). There was a good storm moving in - lots of heavy thunder! Eventually we had lots of lightning, and hail, too. Fortunately it only lasted an hour or so, but the streets were left littered with debris from nearby trees, and a small tree on the edge of our pond appears to have been hit by lightning.

    The boys stayed in with their videos, and got dinner from Good's (burger & fries). Sheila & I drove over to Pleasure Island a little after 6. Sheila enjoys the Comedy Warehouse, but not enough to want to spend every night there. I plan to be there each of the next 4 nights; she's planning on 1 night there & the rest in the parks. At PI she bought the PI add on to her Fl Resident AP ($33.34 with mkc discount). It will expire in June when her AP expires, so this might have been a prorated amount. We wandered around a little bit, and then went to talk to cm Steven at the Comedy Warehouse. It turns out lightning had struck there, and the sound system wasn't running yet, so the first show was cancelled. He also told me his mom (Connie) had spent last Thursday laying at the pool (BW) with Aerosmith, and got invited to the Rock n Roller Coaster grand opening by Steven Tyler! She met them purely by chance - and I'll bet she had a great time!

    CM Steven checked the schedule to see which shows Layden would be in, and told me #2,4 & 5 again. I teased him by pointing out that's what he'd said last time - and he laughed and swore he even checked it with his manager to be sure it was the right schedule & that he'd read it right. He's a nice kid - only got another month to go on his college internship, and then he hopes to get into mgt at a PI club. We chatted for a little bit, then Sheila & I headed to the Adventurer's Club to kill time until show #2 started at 8:15. The Club was practically deserted, with nothing much going on. A couple of the characters were there interacting, but it's really more fun with a crowd.

    We returned to Comedy Warehouse & got in line for the 2nd show, but ended up being seated about 1/2 way back. The show was ok, but not their best work. I checked with Layden on the way out to see if he'd be doing Doug again this week (Sheila & Colin have not seen it yet), but he isn't scheduled over there at all. We talked briefly, and then Sheila & I headed back to the Adventurer's Club. This time it was more fun. We did the new member induction ceremony, and then went into the library for a singalong led by Samantha Sterling. At one point the nerd from Ohio came in carrying his cow, and got a guy to get on stage & hold it over his head & twirl around each time Amil (the nerd) sang "moo" in his song. At the same time all of us in the audience were supposed to pretend that cow udders were hanging over our head & reach up & milk them while making noise like milk hitting a metal bucket. Sheila didn't do it, so he stopped the show to find out why - asked her if she was lactose intolerant or something! Sheila said "yes", and since I had the camcorder out he told me to tape the lactose intolerant lady who wouldn't play along! It was pretty funny. When the show ended he said "good bye lactose intolerant lady" to her!

    We hung around outside trying to warm up before Comedy Warehouse show #4 at 10:40. The air conditioning in the Adventurer's Club was really cold! We got great seats for the show, and one of the keyboard players was seated next to us (Carol Stein, with her husband). I talked to Carol, telling her how much I enjoyed her when she was working, and how she made it look like she was really having fun. She told me that the cast was really close, and hung together by day also, in addition to working together at night. They're sort of like a family - which is nice. This particular show was OUTSTANDING! They did the story telling routine, where 4 actors tell a story and as each one messes up they have to die. In the dozens of times I've seen this done, there's only been a single time when Layden was not the last actor standing - and tonight was no exception. The cast kind of pushed their humor to the limits of what you'd expect in a Disney club, surprising even each other - but it was great, and absolutely hysterical. It definitely wasn't something you'd want your kids at, though. I'm glad to have gotten it on tape - this one's a keeper!

    We left after this show, about 11:45. On the way out I stopped to answer a survey on what I come to PI for, what else I did at Downtown Disney, how did I get here, etc. The guy asked if I'd still come to PI if Comedy Warehouse was not here, and I said "probably not". For me the Comedy Warehouse is the single best thing in all of wdw - better than the Magic Kingdom or any other park. Without that club, I would have no reason to go to PI, and would get a lot more sleep on my vacations! After the survey, we went back to the car & drove back to OKW. Chris was asleep, and Colin was getting ready for bed. Tomorrow (actually today already) we're planning on MGM in the morning, and Sheila & I may do lunch in Morocco at Epcot. Lights out for me - 1am. Alarm set for 6am. Just another typical day at wdw. :-)

    DAY 11 - MONDAY, AUGUST 2, 1999:

    Didn't sleep very long, but slept well. I took care of the aol stuff, had breakfast, and left the room about 8. The boys returned the videos and took out the trash - and then joined us on the MGM bus when it got to the Hospitality House. The MGM bus was standing room only when it arrived at Turtle Pond, and was full of extremely rowdy people. They were funny for a little while, then it just got annoying, especially when they degenerated into bathroom humor (adults). When I boarded the bus an older man offered me his seat - which was a nice surprise. I thanked him, but declined his offer. Early in the morning it's easy to stand!

    We arrived MGM about 8:30, and headed to Sunset Blvd to wait for the rope drop. Sheila & Colin rode Rock n Roller Coaster, and loved it! Chris & I waited for them at the exit, which took until about 9:20. I think from now on when I'm traveling with people who want to do this ride and/or TOT I'll send them alone & just meet them later. I could have better used the time sleeping or catching up on the boards! We hurried over to Doug Live, and just made it into the 9:30 show - the first time either Sheila or Colin had seen this. It was a good show, with the regular Doug actor, and Sheila thought it was cute. I know Colin preferred RnR, but I think he liked the show, too. Next Sheila & the boys saw Sounds Dangerous. I'd seen it twice already this trip, and didn't need to see it or get sneezed on by the elephant again! I went to the candy store & bought a small turtle in the shape of a Mickey head ($.69 incl tax). It was ok - but not good enough to ever get another one. The others were out of Sounds Dangerous by 10:20.

    We headed to Star Tours, which had a 10 minute wait, and Colin was the only one to ride. The rest of us waited on the bench inside the exit hallway. By now Chris was hungry, so we stopped at the Studio Catering Company & got him a brownie ($1.59). Sheila/Colin shared one of those jumbo pretzels ($3). After the snack we did the Backlot Tour, and it was surprisingly uncrowded. We walked right in to the boat area, and then were seated in the front car of the tram. We didn't get wet at all in Catastrophe Canyon, perhaps because we were so far forward.

    We left MGM and walked right onto the boat to BW. The walk to Epcot was very HOT & miserable! I've never experienced such disgusting oppressive heat at wdw before. I think if this was my first trip to wdw I'd be tempted to never return. Colin wanted to look for books on some of the foreign languages, but there was no way I was going to walk around World Showcase in this heat! Instead we went to Future World, stopping at Ice Station Cool and then seeing Ellen's Energy Adventure. Then we headed to the boats & walked right on the Friendship to Morocco for lunch at 2pm. Sheila & I each ordered the Oasis Chicken Salad ($9.95 each), and the boys each ordered the kids' chicken (2 chicken breasts, french fries, soda & ice cream $4.95 each). Our server was pretty poor, but we think she was brand new & just training, so we didn't reduce her tip. The belly dancer performed just before we left. The check was $31.59 before my 20% DDE discount, $25.28 after, so we left $30 & headed back out into the heat. Once again the boat was waiting for us! Chris & I took the Friendship back and Sheila/Colin went searching for books - didn't find any except one in Japan.

    Chris & I stopped in Innoventions to send some e-mail postcards, and then took the bus back to OKW. The bus arrived just as we got to the bus stop, and we got seats. I threw in a load of laundry, and updated the report. Sheila & Colin returned about 4pm, and we just sort of sat around enjoying the air conditioning. Chris was going to go swimming, but decided it was too hot for that! The boys ended up heading for the Hospitality House area for a while, but got back before I left around 6. Sheila & the boys decided to stay in, except for going to All Star Movies to see that resort & have dinner in the food court. I think the heat wore them all out. I was tired too, but the Comedy Warehouse was too close for me to ignore!

    I drove to Downtown Disney, and parked at Pleasure Island. I walked to the Candy Cauldron in the West Side to check on the marshmallow on a stick things I like. They don't make them with the m&m pieces, so instead I bought a Mickey chocolate truffle ($.69 with tax). This was good - much better than the turtle this morning, and is something I would definitely buy again. This was my dinner for tonight. I picked up a Downtown Disney brochure, and saw that the band Kings Friday (was Panama) will be playing on the West End Stage in PI starting tomorrow. It's been several trips since they played out there, so I'll look forward to seeing/hearing them the next 2 nights. Lately they've only played in the Rock & Roll Beach Club, which I refuse to enter because people are allowed to smoke in there. It had gotten very stormy earlier, but not at wdw. Evidently Sanford, Fl (just north of here) had a bunch of damage. It was MUCH cooler than earlier, almost too cool to be comfortable. I sat at a table on the street & waited for it to be time to get in line at the Comedy Warehouse.

    I got in line eventually, and then the 1st show was canceled Turns out the sound system was being replaced, and the work wasn't completed yet. Also, the schedule wasn't up yet, so I didn't know which shows Layden would be in (turned out to be #1 - which was canceled, 3 & 4). I left PI & went to the Cirque du Soleil show to watch the videos for a while, and listen to the cd's. I ended up buying the La Nouba cd for Chris, and think I'll definitely be buying us tickets for Mystere in Las Vegas this coming April. These shows are just amazing!

    I wandered around some, and headed back to PI at 7:30. They were just about done with the sound system work. I was able to get the Comedy Warehouse schedule, and was not thrilled to find that Layden wouldn't be in the 2nd show. Also, none of my other major favorites were working tonight. Neither Steven nor Nancy were working the line outside, either. Finally, the Adventurer's Club was closed until 8:30 due to a private function. Not a very good night!

    After having arrived PI at 6:30, I ended up not entering a Comedy Warehouse show until 9:20! It was a shame to waste such a big chunk of my time, but I guess it couldn't be helped. I ended up sitting down by the Video Hub Stage and watched music videos. At 8pm the PI Explosion Dancers did the first of their "every 30 minutes" shows on that stage. After the first one I walked up the hill & got my Bye Bye Blues drink from the outside bar - with the bartender commenting that it's been a long time since he made one of those! I sat on a bench outside the Adventurer's Club & listened to the band playing on the West End Stage. The nerdy guy from the Adventurer's Club (Amil Bleehall) was wandering around in the street - plaid jacket, too short pants, suitcase - and when he entered the club he got stuck in the revolving door - going around and around and around. It was pretty funny!

    I got in line for the 3rd show, and ended up with a great seat. Carol Stein was the keyboard player - she's the best one. The show was good, and I was glad I waited to see it with a good seat. When it was done I got in line for the 4th show, but the line was a little longer than I would have liked. There was a group of 3 guys in front of me, and when one of them put a cigarette in his mouth (DISGUSTING), I left. There's no way I was going to wait in line 20 minutes with some bozo smoking in line so close to me! I did read in the Downtown Disney brochure that smoking is not permitted in any waiting area, but it's not enforced.

    I still had some of my drink, and couldn't leave the island with it, so I went to the Adventurer's Club for a little while. Pamelia Perkins, the club president, recognized me from last night & said it was nice to see me back again. I ended up getting back to OKW a little before 11.

    Tomorrow the boys will be spending the day at Disney Quest. Sheila & I will spend the early morning at AK, and the night at Comedy Warehouse - not exactly sure of the rest of the day yet. If it's as hot as it was today, that makes it tough - it's too hot to do much of anything!

    I watched last night's tape of one of the Comedy Warehouse shows - the hysterical one - and it was lights out not too long after midnight.

    DAY 12 - TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1999:

    This morning the boys slept in while Sheila & I headed to Animal Kingdom. We drove over, arriving about 8:05. Sheila had never seen Asia, so we headed there first. We walked the Maharajah Jungle Trek, and saw all 5 tigers. The bats section smelled pretty bad - you can tell they're from the rodent family! Next we went to the Kali River Rapids, but didn't ride because we didn't want to get wet. That didn't stop us from standing on the bridge & firing the elephant sprayers at guests who did ride (hehehe). We then walked to Harambe, where the Kilamanjaro Safari had a 50 minute wait. CM's were encouraging guests to use the fast pass, but most just stayed in line. If it were us, we would have done fast pass! We weren't planning to safari this morning, though, so we just walked through the Pangani Forest Trail. It was much more crowded here than it was in Asia. We saw about 1/2 of the gorillas, including the baby. He's so cute! His father is so scary looking - this guy is huge! Our last stop was in Dinoland to ride Countdown to Extinction, and then we left the park at 9:45.

    We drove back to OKW and to our surprise the boys were up & pretty much ready to go. I really expected to find Chris still asleep - despite the fact that I'd set the clock radio to come on LOUDLY at 9am. I guess it worked <g>. We drove over to Downtown Disney, and the boys were admitted to Disney Quest with instructions to immediately bring us cheesecake. Sheila & I went to the shop, where I bought a nice umbrella with the DQ logo all over it ($12.00 minus 10% mkc or ap discount). We waited for the boys at the exit, and finally they showed up with our cheesecake. Sheila got a piece of german chocolate, and I was supposed to get the chocolate mousse cheesecake. Unfortunately they didn't have that, so Chris got me the Tuxedo Cheesecake. I was disappointed The tuxedo is ok, but NOT something I'd have ordered again (we tried it last year). It's a layer of chocolate cake, then chocolate cheesecake, then a creamy layer, and then chocolate fudge. It's not bad, it's just not total cheesecake.

    Sheila & I rushed our precious cargo back to OKW & into our refrigerator. We walked down to Turtle Krawl, and ran into Joel (Jdocter7's husband) on the way. I had heard that the Gurgling Suitcase had discontinued happy hour recently, and sure enough it is no longer listed on the black board. We had to wait until noon for the first Trumbo Ferry, so we took the time for Sheila to see the shop & the main pool. She's stayed here with us several times, but had never seen them.

    At noon we rode the ferry to the Marketplace. It was pretty hot until the boat got to the fast part of the route. Our driver was Rufus. Upon arriving we decided to have lunch, so we went to Planet Hollywood & were able to walk in & be seated immediately. If there had been a wait I could have shown my dvc card to get immediate seating ahead of the others before 6pm, but today there wasn't a wait yet. We used our AP to get a 20% discount (good before 6pm), and shared the LA Lasagna ($11.95). This is one of their most popular menu items - 2 pasta tubes filled with ricotta cheese & meat bolognaise sauce, deep fried & standing up on end. It was all we could do to finish this between the 2 of us. Because we got the AP discount the gratuity was automatically added in for us - total check was $11.93. This was a very cheap lunch for 2 people!

    We walked back to the Marketplace & did some shopping in a few stores. Sheila got an Eeyore keychain, and I bought the Gourmet Mickey tea kettle. I had a $5 coupon off any purchase over $25 in World of Disney, which was better than the mkc discount since the kettle was $30.

    When we finished our shopping, we decided to WALK back to OKW! Yes, you read that right - we must have been delirious, but we decided to walk. I think part of it was a desire to walk off some of that lasagna, but also there was a certain appeal in doing something I'd not tried before. So, we headed off, me lugging my heavy tea kettle, and entered the Disney Institute. Sheila had never been in there before, so I showed her the townhomes & bungalows, and eventually we found our way to the bike path along the golf course. The dvc boat passed by as we were crossing over a bridge, and we were tempted to just jump down into the boat at that point! Eventually we were back on okw property, and since a bus was pulling in to the South Point bus stop we hopped on to ride to Turtle Pond. The driver was confused when we got off at the very next stop, but that's ok. Overall it was a nice walk, and I'm glad we did it. I won't do it in the summer again, but would consider it when the weather is cooler.

    We returned to the room for some cold water, and watched General Hospital while I updated the report. We snacked on some of our cheesecake, and just relaxed. I took another shower to freshen up, and we left okw a little after 6 for the drive to Pleasure Island. When we entered, the cm put on my wrist band but did it too loose and it fell right off my hand when I put my arm down. He picked it up, and I suggested he might want to try that again. He did, making it smaller this time, and when he was done the other cm checked it and it slid right off my hand! He muttered something about my being too skinny - but since this was the first time I'd ever had a problem and since I knew my wrists had not shrunk in the past 24 hours, I just told him the women cm's knew how to do the job right, that he'd made a wrist band for a big burly male - not a female. The female cm then showed him how to do it (you have to fold the band before putting it on, so the excess is hidden) and we entered PI.

    We sat on the Adventurer's Club steps and watched the band Kings Friday warm up on the West End Stage. Celine - I didn't get to talk to Jeremy to give him your message (sorry). Comedy Warehouse cm Nancy was working again tonight, so I chatted with her briefly. The actors' schedule was up yet, and she'd be working inside tonight (as a waitress), but she said she'd let me know which shows Layden was performing in once the schedule was done. Eventually Sheila & I got in line for the 1st show. I heard Nancy call my name - she'd gotten the schedule & came upstairs to let me know which shows I'd want to see (#1,2,4,&5). I thought that was so nice of her to take time to come out & let me know - I figured she'd just tell me after I got inside. After we were in line a little while, the line cm's started talking about how the first show might be delayed, or might be canceled. The manager came out & checked the crowd a few times, and then the announcement was given that the show was canceled. They used the excuse of the lighting board was being worked on, but I don't believe that for a minute. Rather, I believe the truth is there was not enough people in line for them to do the show. This was the 3rd night in a row that I've been here for the 1st show and it's been canceled! Needless to say, I was very disappointed, and more than a little "ticked off".

    We sat upstairs in the Adventurer's Club a while, and then got in line for show #2. There were plenty of people, and the show was held. It was a great show - probably the best one of the night. Afterwards we returned to the Adventurer's Club & did the same 2 events as last time (new member induction ceremony - I taped it this time, and the sing along). We then got in line for the 4th show, in which they did the conducted storytelling thing I like. Sheila was having trouble staying awake, so she left after this show. I decided to stay for the 5th, and got back into line. As I was being seated one of the waitresses recognized me and said - hey, bye bye blues. I guess she knows me by my drink - and she was the one who had the bartender write out the recipe for me a couple months ago. Before the show I taped the end of the New Year's Eve countdown thing, including all the confetti blowing everywhere. The 5th show was good, and it let out about 1am.

    As I headed to the bus stop, I could see the OKW bus pull away, so I had to wait for the next one. The wait wasn't too bad though, and the driver went straight to Old Turtle Pond stop (after West Side) since nobody wanted to go to Peninsular or South Point (there were only 5-6 of us on the bus). I got back to the room about 1:30 - everyone was asleep. I ate more of that cheesecake thing (still disappointed in that one), finished today's report, and it was lights out about 2:30 am. Since it's so late I changed the alarm from 6 to 6:15. LOL, I wonder if that 15 minutes will make a difference! Tomorrow is our last full day at wdw, to be followed by 2 days at Vero. The saddest part is tomorrow night is my last Comedy Warehouse opportunity I can live without the theme parks but I really miss the Comedy Warehouse.

    DAY 13 - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 1999:

    The alarm went off at 6:15, and after going to bed at 2:30 it didn't feel like I'd slept into a new day - more like a catnap! The boys ended up staying at DisneyQuest until it closed last night, getting home around 12:40. Chris has 989 redemption points - from doing that remote control truck thing on the bottom level. He'll have to wait for a future trip to redeem them.

    This morning we're headed to Magic Kingdom, since we've not been there at all this week. We left for the bus stop at 8:25. A bus for every other park came by, but not MK. Then, the other park's buses started repeating...and still no MK. We should have driven to a monorail resort

    It finally came, we got the last 2 seats, and there were still 2 stops to make! We arrived MK at 9:10, and the turnstiles entering were mobbed. Since it was after 9, we skipped Big Thunder & Splash Mountain. Instead, we walked onto the Pooh ride (Sheila & Colin's first time). They both liked it much better than Mr Toad.

    Next Chris went to the teacups while the rest of us went to ride Peter Pan. Pan was closed due to technical difficulties, though, so we rode Snow White's ride instead, with a 2-3 minute wait. We went to Toontown next, where Colin & I rode Barnstormer twice. We all rode Buzz Lightyear with about a 5 minute wait, and then rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority twice. By now long lines were forming everywhere in Tomorrowland, so we left that area at 10:20. Colin got in line for the Mike Fink Keelboats, while the rest of us rode the Haunted Mansion. We were out of HM before Colin even got on the keelboat, so Sheila joined him while Chris & I sat on rocking chairs outside of the kitchen store. Our last stop was Pirates of Caribbean. Chris decided he wasn't going to ride, because he doesn't like the dark drop. For whatever reason, that really made me furious today - I won't push him to ride a real thrill ride, but PoC is nothing for an almost 13 year old! He had the choice of either riding with us, or not being allowed to do anything the rest of the day (no parks, basketball, videos, swimming, etc). He chose not to ride, and I skipped it also. I was too angry to enjoy it, and didn't want my mood to ruin the ride for Sheila & Colin. Chris & I waited for them at the exit (about 50-100 yards apart, he knew to steer clear). On the way out of the MK we stopped at the Main Street Bakery, where Sheila & I each got a piece of banana bread for tomorrow ($2.11 incl tax). We left MK at 11:35 - a little late in the day for me!

    We decided to have lunch at Dixie Landings, figuring we'd then ride the Sassagoula River Boat to Downtown Disney and transfer to the Trumbo Ferry back to OKW. For lunch Chris & I shared the Country Chicken Salad ($5.99) - a large salad topped with 3 chicken strips. After 20% Disney Dining Experience discount it was $5.08. It was delicious, and plenty for 2 people to share. Sheila got a chef's salad, and Colin got a kid's chicken strip meal. The clouds & thunder built up while we were eating, and when we got outside the boat was closed. We walked around the resort, and then sat on a bench hoping the boats would reopen. We wasted over an hour sitting there, and then it started raining hard so we left.

    We went to the bus stop, and must have just missed the Downtown Disney bus because we saw every other bus there is! Then, a couple of smokers sat on the bench near me, and the wind blew their disgusting smoke in my direction - so I got up & stood at the edge of the curb in the fresh air. Finally the bus came, and we then stopped at each of the other 3 bus stops in DxL before going to the Marketplace. Once there it was a short wait for the OKW bus, but then it stopped at Pleasure Island, Typhoon Lagoon, West Side, Hospitality House, Millers Road, Peninsular, South Point, and then finally Turtle Pond! Including the Dxl stops, that was 12 stops to get home (and way too much time).

    We got back into the room about 2:30 or so. Sheila did some laundry, and I started packing. We watched General Hospital, finished what little cheesecake was left, and then I took the rest of video tapes I'd shot & fast forwarded through them to make notes as to what was on each one. My plan is to transfer the stuff onto standard vcr tapes - probably 1 for general vacation stuff, and 1 for Comedy Warehouse. I've shot 10 tapes so far, and at least 8 of them are Comedy Warehouse! I also got the Doug Live show, the Pooh ride, some Adventurer's Club, and just a few minutes each of some other things.

    Tonight Sheila is going to Epcot - to ride Test Track at night and see Lord of the Dance. Colin & Chris will be staying home, with Chris getting to bed early tonight for a change. I drove over to PI just after 6pm, and went to Bongo's outdoor cafe in the West Side for a chicken empanada ($1.33) for dinner. Rather than sit there, I ate it while I walked around.

    When I entered Pleasure Island a little after 6:30 there were already a bunch of people in line at the Comedy Warehouse, so I joined the line right away. There was a cm I didn't know working the line. When it got close to 7pm I asked him about checking the schedule for me, but he said he couldn't (wouldn't) because it wouldn't be up until after the doors opened (not true). Oh well, I figured what the heck, I'd see the first show & hope to find someone more helpful later. As I entered the building cm Nancy was inside - she said hi & told me my shows were #1,2,4 & 5 tonight! Wow, I didn't even ask her, and she didn't even know for sure I'd be there - that was so nice of her! Since I was towards the front of the line I had a great seat on the front row of bar stools. The last improv of this show was a western ballad they created about someone's embarrassing moment, and I was picked by Layden to share my story. I won't go into the details here (e-mail me if you really want to know), but it has to do with "scarf dancing" and the resulting carpet burns you get on the top of your nose between the eyebrows when you engage in this activity.

    I got back into line for the 2nd show - further back, of course. This time when we went inside Nancy was doing the seating, and she'd saved me a seat in the front row of the bar stools - at the end of the row that was center stage. It was a great spot! When she came down to start seating the guests who sit behind the main rows, I thanked her for the seat, and she said she knew I'd be coming in so saved it for me! Woohoo - I love having a great seat for my favorite show, and having someone behind the scenes to help make that happen is sooooo appreciated!

    I skipped the 3rd show, and sat outside to listen to the band perform on the West End Stage and watch the hustle & bustle of people going from club to club. I wandered down the street to the shop under the Rock n Roll Beach Club because I'd seen a cute PI shirt there and had been looking at it almost every night I was there. Unlike your baggy old tee shirt, this was a fitted shirt, with a squared off neckline. It was different, and I decided I'd buy it if I could try it on and it fit properly. They have no fitting room, so one of the cm's accompanied me (with the shirt) to another shop & waited for me while I used that fitting room. Unfortunately, the shirt is meant to fit closely to your body, and my body just didn't fill it out. It was nice & short (not hanging below the butt), but definitely too baggy So, I put it back. I guess it wouldn't make sense to sell PI clothing in children's sizes since it's a bar - lol!

    When I walked back up the hill Nancy was outside along with another waitress who always recognizes me when I come into the Comedy Warehouse, so I went over to talk to them. Her name is Debbie, and she's been there 8.5 years - which is probably how long I've been visiting there. Nancy came over & put her arm over my shoulders & told Debbie that I was the nicest person. We all chatted for a while, until it was time to start the line. This time inside Debbie was doing the seating, and once again I ended up in the front row of bar stools (what a great pattern going here).

    When this show ended I went right back up & got into line for the 5th show. I wasn't going to, since I'd only had 3.5 hours of sleep the night before and was tired this afternoon, but this was my last opportunity to see the show for a while Comedy Warehouse won out over sleep! Besides, I can always try to catch a nap by the pool at Vero tomorrow. I was pretty far back in line, and after the New Year's Eve celebration we were let inside. It was Nancy's turn to seat, and I ended up in my usual spot one last time! Talk about a great night! All the shows were great, and a couple of times I had nice people to chat with before the show started.

    As I was leaving, Layden had come out from backstage so I stopped to chat with him. I told him my almost 2 weeks here were ending in the morning, and thanked him for his part in providing so many great shows. I related a favorite moment from a show a few nights ago - where he had to play a stripper & do a lap dance for Mark, in the style of jazz. It was hysterical! The audience was roaring, and even Mark had trouble keeping his composure. Layden asked if I had it on tape, and said that the cast would love to have a tape of highlights of some of their best work. He seems to realize that I come there pretty often. I do have that skit on tape, so some time I'll have to go through all the tapes & see if I can put something together & bring it up on a future trip. I didn't realize he knew I was taping, though. I set the little red light to NOT come on during recording, because I didn't want to be a distraction to the actors. I guess I've been far enough down front that he was able to see me from onstage.

    Since I'd driven tonight I figured I'd get home earlier than last night, but it ended up being almost the same time (1:30 am). Between stopping to talk, and then going to the wrong parking lot (I was thinking about what I had taped, to see if I had something they'd be interested in & wasn't paying attention to which direction I was walking). After not finding my car where I thought it would be, I realized I was in lot H and my car was in lot I.

    Everybody was sound asleep when I got home. I ate some of the banana bread, got a couple more things ready for packing, and worked on the trip report. Lights out about 2:30 am again. It's been a great day (more like a day & a half, lol) so I don't mind the lack of sleep.

    DAY 14 - THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 1999: - Arrive Vero Beach

    I'd set the alarm for 6:20, allowing myself an extra 5 minutes more than the day before, lol. I wanted to have time to do the aol stuff, and also load up the car. Despite only 3.5 hours of sleep, I actually awoke refreshed & invigorated (and never crashed later in the day). We left OKW at 8:34 and after a stop for gas arrived at the Vero Beach resort about 10:20. I really hate all the tolls - 3 tolls totaling $2.50 - to get here! We checked in, and of course the room was not ready yet. The cm did confirm that it was non smoking, and on the 3rd floor.

    We found some chairs at the pool, and then split up. Chris jumped into the pool to join a water basketball game. Colin went to Community Hall to play Sega games. Sheila & I walked on the beach for about an hour. I really don't like this beach, especially compared to Daytona. It drops off very quickly, so in just a few steps you're in water up to your waist. Also, there's tons of seaweed in the water, which I really hate. There was pretty much nobody on the beach, except right at the Disney resort.

    The pool area was very crowded also. When we returned from our walk Sheila dragged Colin out of Community Hall & he joined Chris & the other kids in the pool. There are activities scheduled all day long, but the kayak trip was already filled up. We put both boys on the wait list for the Teens Night Out (pizza & movie). Chris will be 13 next month, but can easily pass for a 15 year old. If they get to go the fee will be $20/teen ($25 for non members).

    We pulled the boys out of the pool and got lunch from Bleacher's. Sheila & I shared a tuna salad on a croissant, and the boys shared the chicken strips & fries meal (4 chicken strips). Total was about $12 - for lunch for 4 people. It was plenty of food, and we ate in the shaded gazebo by the pool. I love the free ice water set up next to Bleacher's. The boys went back to their pool basketball game while the moms enjoyed the pool & slide. As soon as I went to lay in my chair my beeper went off. The nearest pay phone was over by the restaurants, so I called in from there. Luckily it was a quick, fixable problem. They just needed to know if we could afford to let 15 new employees start orientation tomorrow, or delay their start by a couple of weeks. I said go ahead & start them tomorrow, and I'll find the extra funding we need next week (I've already identified 2 sources - either of which will fully cover it). Business taken care of, we chatted a little bit about vacation. I told my boss that although I love my job, and enjoy living in Ft Myers, I definitely like being on vacation better! Since I'm not independently wealthy, and have no "sugar daddy" prospects, I assured him I'd be at work on Monday morning.

    I stopped by the desk to check on the room, and it was ready (2pm). I returned to the pool, and big dark clouds had rolled in from the north. Since the sun was gone, I moved our stuff into the room. We've got room 2343, garden view. Last year I got the ocean view, and was disappointed. All you can see is water off in the distance - no beach, no waves crashing, and to me that's what an ocean view is all about. Realistically, whenever I'm in the room I'm on the laptop working on a trip report, so the view doesn't matter. Our room is nice - same as last year. It's got 2 queen beds, table w/2 chairs, bench, mini kitchen, & bathroom. There's room for a daybed instead of the bench, which would make this room able to hold 5, but it's a little bit smaller than a Yacht Club or Contemporary room - but a lot larger than a room in a moderate resort. My friend Larry from Scotland's All Star Room would fit in our bathroom/kitchen area <g>. Sorry, Larry, just had to rub it in!

    When I returned to the pool they'd just closed the pool to add chlorine. Not sure what happened, but I can only assume some small child not wearing appropriate swim diapers had an "accident". It was very dark & cloudy by now, so we went up to the room. The boys took their showers and Sheila moved her stuff in from her car, while I updated the report and watched some General Hospital. Our room is overlooking the front - just off to the side of the main entrance. We're a very short walk from the elevator, which is nice.

    We got a call from Eb & Flo's - the boys had cleared the wait list for Teen's Night Out. They ran over to pay the fee ($21.20) and pick up the release form. The moms signed the release and the boys brought it back to Eb & Flo's. They got drenched in the rain (plus Colin fell in a puddle so even his shorts/underwear were wet), so they got changed and were sent to the laundry room to use a dryer to dry their clothes. Afterwards, we all went to look in the shop, and then Sheila & I browsed the book of menus. Chris went to play basketball and the rest of us had a cm show us the 2br unit. I'd been in one before, but Sheila had never seen one and I wanted her to see how it compared to OKW. She immediately noticed it was much smaller, but it's pretty. The boys had to meet their group at 6:20, and Sheila & I left just before that.

    We followed the map given at check in, but none of the shopping places looked worth stopping for. I did get out to see the beach down in actual Vero Beach (the Disney resort is north of Vero), and it looked the same as the one here (very narrow & dropping off quickly). We headed out to the Prime Outlet Center, where I bought a shirt to go with the corduroy jumper I bought at Belz last week. Next we went to the Indian River Mall. It was after 7, and I was hungry, so we decided eating was the first order of business. We decided to just grab something at the food court, and shared an order of bourbon chicken/fried rice/eggroll from the asian stand. It was $4.99, so dinner cost $2.50 each and it was plenty of food. On the way to order the food we were approaching a group teens sitting at a few tables. One of them looked familiar......oh no, it was Chris! Colin was at another table. They were eating pizza & then would be seeing a movie at the AMC theater in the mall. Here we were paying to get rid of them, and we end up running into them, lol! As we were eating I commented that it seemed strange that we'd spend over $20 for each of them tonight, and yet only $2.50 on ourselves. Sheila pointed out that partly we were paying for them to go away - LOL! I don't know what movie they were seeing - I'll find out later.

    After eating we shopped, but neither of us bought anything. On the way out we shared a Blizzard at Dairy Queen. They charged us an extra $.25 for the extra empty cup to split the Blizzard - and we paid it. We rode back to the resort without the air conditioning since I was so cold from being in the mall. This resort is freezing, too! Our room is reasonable, but the hallways & lobby are like a walk-in meat locker. I expect to see sides of beef hanging on hooks or something! We got back to the room about 9:30, and I did aol stuff while Sheila watched tv. The boys are due back by 11, and then it will be time to go to sleep.

    DAY 15 - FRIDAY, AUGUST 6, 1999: - Vero Beach & back home

    Today I didn't get up until 8:30 - which is unheard of for me even at home! I had some cappuccino and finished my banana bread. Housekeeping stopped by to see if there was anything we needed, but we were all set. The boys were pretty slow to get up this morning, but we managed to get them moving. Sheila & I went to see the beach cottage (they serve complimentary coffee from 8-10 each morning) and brought our pool stuff to our chairs. Neither of us wanted any coffee, so we were only at the cottage to look around. We put the rest of our stuff in our cars, and went to the pool. Chris mentioned that he hadn't had breakfast, but we'd already packed it all! That's the price you pay if you're too slow getting out of bed around here! I figured they'd be selling danish or something at Bleacher's, so I wasn't worried about him.

    We got to the pool about 10, and heard someone call my name. It was Teresa (asaladdin) & her family. We'd met them at the MVMCP last December, so we spent some time chatting & catching up on things. They'd arrived about 11 last night, and are moving to OKW on Sunday. Chris checked at Bleacher's, but they don't serve anything until 11, so he went back to his pool basketball game. He & Colin also played the 9-hole mini golf course ($1 for members). I sat on a chair awhile, then went in the pool to cool off. I found some cute free sunscreen samples at the dvc desk at the pool, and stopped to talk to Teresa again on the way back to my chair. Her older son Andrew (11) joined the conversation, and seems like a really nice young man.

    Chris & Colin finished their golf game and went back to swimming, using the slide, and playing pool basketball. Sheila was in the pool chatting with a couple of bikini-clad teen girls our sons had been spending time with yesterday & today. They're from Pennsylvania, spent 4 nights last week at BW, then came here, and are heading to OKW this afternoon. One of the girls got a kiss on the cheek from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith - the highlight of her trip!

    It was warm, but comfortable with a nice breeze. About 11:30 Chris remembered he was hungry, so I got him a cheeseburger with fries ($5.62 incl tax). I took a couple bites - it was pretty good. He returned to the pool, I laid down to read a magazine. Eventually the boys & girls went to use the hot tub, then played shuffleboard, then went to Community Hall to play foosball & video games. The girls left about 1 for the trip to OKW. I wish I was headed back there, rather than having my vacation come to an end

    The lifeguard is constantly having to yell at guests to follow certain rules - usually the one about nobody over 5 years old can play in the Tot Lot area. There's a big sign there, too, but I guess most people feel the rules don't apply to them. Personally, I'm glad to see Disney enforcing their rules - the rules are there for a reason! Sheila & I spent the rest of our time either in the pool or on our chairs. About 1pm she & Colin shared a chicken strips with fries and a lemonade slushie. I got a virgin pina colada & a chocolate chip cookie (which I brought home) for $5.03 and we sat in the shaded gazebo to have our lunch. Chris wasn't eating again just yet, so he joined the pool basketball game.

    Sheila & Colin left sometime after 1:30. I took a few last photos around the resort, to finish up my roll of film, and then Chris & I were on the road at 2pm. I also bought a beautiful acrylic coffee mug from the giftshop before leaving - it says Disney's Vero Beach Resort & is clear. The drive home from Vero is agonizing! While it takes us 3 hours to drive the 200 miles to wdw, it takes us 3.5 hours to drive the 175 miles to Vero. We have to go through dumb little hick towns, sometimes slowing to 35mph! Add afternoon FL storms, the chance to get stuck behind citrus trucks & other slow movers, and it makes for one miserable experience. We drove through a McDonalds in some small town - lousy food even by McD's standards. I wish there was a way to get from one side of the state to the other, but there isn't unless I was to go way out of my way by either heading south to Naples/Ft Lauderdale or north to Tampa/Orlando. I guess they've got 42 years to fix this problem before my dvc expires!

    Final thoughts on this trip, including magical moments & any disappointments will follow shortly.

    SUMMARY:

    This was a wonderful trip, and I'm so sorry to see it end. We had 15 days, but even that didn't seem long enough. I'd return to wdw tonight if I had a reservation & time off from work! We moved around a lot, but it wasn't a hassle at all, and provided us with vacations from the vacation. We enjoyed having our friends join us for part of the trip - but next time I might schedule that for the beginning of the trip. That way when they're with us we won't have already done the parks stuff, and we can repeat what we especially enjoyed after they've left.

    Writing the trip report is a LOT of work, but it's time that I consider well spent. I started out writing them for the boards, but now I write them for myself - to create a permanent record of our trips. Some day I hope Chris can share them with his family, and his kids can read about some of the stuff their Dad did when he was a kid. I make the time to write them daily in order to post them as timely as possible for others to read. I enjoy reading others' trip reports, and don't mind doing my part to continue the trip report tradition!

    My next wdw trip wasn't going to be until December, but that just seemed sooooooooo far away! Maybe I'll have a business trip to Orlando later this month, if I'm lucky. I did book a cheap $59 room at All Star Sports for Friday/Saturday night starting 9/17/99. Chris will be turning 13 on 9/19, so this is a short birthday trip. I'll spend Friday alone, then Sheila will drive up with the 2 boys on Saturday morning (she got one of the $59 rooms too). After that, I probably won't be back until December since we're going on a 7 night cruise in November. December will be another 2 week trip - split between wdw and Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort!

    Following is a list of the things I regret, or wish didn't happen at all, and a list of the things that stand out in my memory as being *magical moments* for this trip. Take the disapointments with a grain of salt - none of them are so serious as to have detracted seriously from the trip! The good stuff far outweighed the bad!

    DISAPPOINTMENTS:

    * I never got to ride Big Thunder Railroad - but will in September.

    * The 2nd week, the first Comedy Warehouse show was canceled 3 nights in a row, resulting in a lot of time spent sitting around waiting!

    * Weather - it was too dang HOT! Beach weather was fine, but wdw weather felt really oppressive!

    * No more happy hour at the Gurgling Suitcase (okw). I doubt I'll bother with it anymore.

    * Bus transportation from okw was either great or awful - no middle of the road. I do NOT like that they've taken our MK route & added stops to get day visitors from the TTC & take them to Typhoon Lagoon! I got my comment survey in the mail, so I'll be sure to make them aware of my opinion of this!

    * We may have eaten our last meal in Morocco, if the rumor it's being turned into a buffet restaurant in November is true. I love a couple of the menu items, but I just don't eat enough for me to get my money's worth at a buffet.

    * The beach at Vero is a big disappointment, but I knew that from last year's trip. It's narrow, drops off too quickly, and the ocean was full of seaweed. Luckily the resort itself is beautiful, and it's easy to have a great time lounging by the pool or walking on the beach.

    * Biggest problem = there's not enough hours in the day! Spending a couple of hours in the parks per day, I still averaged only 4-5 hours of sleep per night! I just can't imagine what it would e like if I was a park commando - I wouldn't need a bed at all, I guess.

    THE MAGICAL MOMENTS :

    * Boogie boarding in the 82 degree Atlantic Ocean at Daytona Beach Shores.

    * Seeing our home team play at an away game, and showing our support for them by being there.

    * Seeing old friends again (Harold, Linda, Gail & Joel, Teresa & her family) and meeting some (Diana) for the first time.

    * Spending the day with Kathy, and enjoying that wonderful cheese soup in Canada.

    * Getting "back doored" at the Comedy Warehouse - best seats in the house without having to stand in line! Also meeting new friends there, and being recognized & greeted by some of the staff who don't actually know my name.

    * Cirque du Soleil - WOW, what a show! We both enjoyed this. I think I'll get tickets for us to see Cirque's Mystere show in Las Vegas for next April. Tickets cost more out there, but I think it will be worth it!

    * The 1br unit in Old Key West. In a word - GORGEOUS! We had a great location, and the unit was in mint condition. Even the studio, which was pulled out of service for refurbishment the day we checked out was in great condition (better than either of my BW studios).

    * The camcorder. It took me until I was 40 years old to finally buy a camcorder, and this was the first trip using it. I mostly used it in the Comedy Warehouse, and honestly never thought I'd have any use for that tape - but at Layden's suggestion I'll use it to try to put together a tape of "the best of" the cast. Hey, if I don't have enough material I guess I'll just have to go back for another trip soon!

    * Of course, seeing several Comedy Warehouse shows is always fun! I spent 7 nights there, seeing 3-4 shows per night. Some were hysterical, others were just great.

    * The trip came in under budget, without having to deny myself anything I really wanted. I'd figured on about $1000 (a good portion of which went for the 4 nights in Daytona since all other lodging was dvc resorts) and the actual was closer to $700 (excluding the Cirque tickets which were prepaid, and the Disney Quest admissions which were left over from 1998). Also, I consider the cost of my dvc (purchase price plus dues) to just be a part of my day to day living costs, and don't count that as vacation expenses.

    Thanks for reading, and as always - if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me!

    Sue Holland

    WDW1972@aol.com

    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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