Alrighty then. This one will have to be done in parts. So many days, so much to say lol. so let's get started.
Time of Year: August 24 - September 2, 2007
Travel Method: Plane and Rental Car
Resort: All Star Movies
Accommodations: Standard Rooms
Ages Represented in Group: a bunch, see below lol
WDW Experience Represented in Group: Veterans
Mike (AKA NJ Mike) - 39 Years Old
Mary (Mike's wife) - 39 Years Old
. Rebecca (Mike's daughter) - 15 Years Old
. Mikey (Mike's Son) - 12 Years Old
. Tom (AKA 91wingnut) - 42 Years Old
. Debbie (Tom's wife) - 40 Years Old
. Tommy (Tom's son) - 12 Years Old
. Justin (Tom's son) - 7 Years Old
Planning: Used Mouseplanet (of course), counted down every day from about the 220 day mark lol, had buget spreadsheets in excel, menus for everywhere we wanted to eat printed out, you name it. Yep, I'm the chronic overplanner lol.
Day One - Friday August 24, 2007.
The alarm was set for 4:30am....I was up and on mouseplanet at 3:30 lol.
We got the bags in the car and headed for good ol' Philly International at about 6:30 and arrived at the Air Tran Curbside at about 6:50. We had printed our boarding passes ahead of time, so we just checked the bags at the curb, and we bypassed the check in desk and went right to security. Tom, since he works at Philadelphia Airport for United Airlines, dropped Debbie and the kids off and took his car down to park at the hangar, and caught a ride up to the terminal with one of his co-workers.
We were through security by 7:15, and I was shocked. Anyone who has been to Philly airport knows the security line nightmares. So we headed for our gate (which was conveniently located all the way at the far end of the terminal, as far as we could possibly have to walk (the walking starts already lol).
We were met at the gate shortly after by Debbie and the kids, and tom had come up into the terminal using his normal work ID and realized he was on the terminal gates side of security, so he had to grab his boarding pass and go back up through the terminal and go through security.
Ok, we're all set, the gang's all here, we're fired up, we're ready, the plane is supposed to leave at 9:15am. I look out and notice it is a little foggy, has been all morning, but not bad. Then i notice i have seen lots of planes taking off but none landing. Now come's the announcement. Our plane is coming in from Boston, and they had bad weather so the plane will not be in until 10am.
Ok. we sit and wait, still no planes landing, which is odd. At 9:55am, 5 minutes before they said the plane would be there, comes another announcement. Ground stoppage in philadelphia, and the plane will arrive at 11am.
The plane DID arrive at 11am, and we were finally on our way about 11:40 for Orlando. We arrived in Orlando at about 1:45 and we were off to baggage claim. Orlando is a BEAUTIFUL airport. I love it more and more every time we see it. Compared to Philly it's like Comparing a Lamborghini and a Ford Pinto.
We had both (Tom and I) booked cars through Alamo and had pre-paid (boy is that a great thing), thus bypassing the Alamo Counter. We grabbed the bags, and headed straight to the cars. We were in the cars and on our way out of the airport by 2:15pm.
We had heard a lot of good things about the orlando premium outlets and the disney outlet there, so that is where we headed. The skies opened up on our way out of the airport, and it was a flatout downpour/monsoon by the time we got to the outlets about 20 minutes later.
Just one word about parking at the premium outlets...UNREAL lol. I'm thinking if you get there about, oh i'd say 1:30 am, you may get a parking spot for when the outlets open the next morning lol. We drove round and round, and waited a good 10-15 minutes to find a spot. That being said, we were in for a pleasant surprise.
The disney outlet in the Orlando Premium Outlets is fantastic! They had SO many things marked down, and with Tom and I being big guys, we were happy to find shirts and sweatshirts in 2,3,4, and 5x! When we got back to the room later that day, we had added up the total for the loot we bought lol. My family of 4 had purchased items that normally would total $434. We paid $149.
The deals were great. Examples? hmmmm, we bought a christmas tree topper we had seen online on the disney store website for $30. We got it for $8. They had a Pirate and Princess Party picture frame that was marked originally at $35. We got it for $14.99. We got 3x Disney World tees for $12. It really was a good first stop to make, and we now plan on making it a regular stop on our way from the airport to the hotel each trip.
We grabbed some lunch (late lunch lol) in the food court at the outlets after our mini shopping spree, and watched the rain fall. It was now about 5:15pm and we decided it was time to head for the hotel. The rain was really coming down hard on the way to the hotel, so much so that I really had to slow down because the wipers on full blast couldnt keep up with the rain enough for me to see well.
We arrived at the All star movies, dropped the families, and parked in the check-in lot, and made the mad dash for the awning/door to go check in. Yeah, two fat guys running across the parking lot in the pouring rain, man-boobs bouncing, it wasn't a pretty sight.
A little rain never bothered us, life is good, we're in disney baby. (sound of a record scratching lol) We had requested one of the 101 Dalmations buildings, first floor, facing the courtyard. This would put us between the two pools. We were told the only 2 adjoining rooms they had left...(had left? didnt we make a request earlier? its not like we asked when we got there) were in the toy story building. Now i know, they try to accomodate requests, and its just that a request. But not even ending up in the same section was a surprise. I mean 3rd floor facing away from the courtyard would have been ok lol. So, like always we make the best of it.
We had pre-purchased on the disney website, shirts for us all from the grand gathering's merchandise that they offered. They looked really nice, and we got to add "Parker Family Grand Gathering" on the back. We were told to pick them up in Donald's double feature upon Check-in.
We head to Donald's double feature and the sales girl doesnt have a clue. She gets the manager. The manager then looks at us like we have 3 heads. We cannot be the first family to have ordered these. The manager then proceeds to say "yeah, I think someone bought them Once, and they were in their rooms waiting for them when they got in." Ummm Once??? In a 1900 room hotel, with an item that has been on the website for over a year now. Someone bought them once??? ok, so tom and I decide to head to the rooms to check it out.
We get to the rooms and the first thing we notice is that in Tom's room, there is no fridge, which they requested and NEED for tommy's insulin since he is a diabetic. Ok, we get on the phone to the front desk, and the frridge is on the way. I head into our room, open the adjoining door, and I'm met by the sound of tom turning the lock on his side round, and round, and round lol. He says something I can't repeat here lol, and we're on the phone to the front desk again. The "only" adjoining rooms they had left don't adjoin, the lock is broken and his door cant open lol. During all of this, we had left the families up in the food court to grab some refillable mugs, find a few tables, and grab some dinner for everyone. In case you're wondering, NO shirts in the room, no box. We checked all the drawers, everything, even looked in the showers lol.
So now we head back to the food court, tell the wives we're going to the concierge at the front desk, and find out what is going on. My brother walks up, starts explaining the situation and the girl interrupts "Oh, Mr. Parker, I just saw the package. We had to wait for you to check in, and now the package is being sent to your room". Ok, fine. At this point the wive's had the food, and we decided to sit and eat and then head back to investigate. We sopend a good amount of time in the food court with dinner (come on, look at us lol), and of course we all have to indulge in the first mickey ice cream bar of the trip. By now it's getting later, it's about 9:30pm, and we start cleaning up to head back to the rooms and take the suitcases (which are still in the cars due to the rain) in.
We get the suitcases into the rooms, look around, and notice that the fridge is there, the lock has been fixed (although they left some nice metal shavings on tom's floor), but guess what....No shirts, no box, no anything. Tom and I look at each other...between the delayed flight, the rain, the building change,the fridge, the lock, the shirts...we could laugh or cry. We starting byusting up laughing. Thats all you can do. The boys had all gotten jack sparrow pirate guns in Donald's double feature before dinner. Tom sticks one in the waistband of his shorts, and throws me one and says "come on, let's go".
We leave the rooms with the wive's just shaking their heads and saying "oh boy, here we go." Tom and I get up to the concierge line to see the girl who had "seen" our package. We were met by what we guess is the head of that desk. Nice guy, very well dressed, who informs us "gentleman, the desk closed at 10pm, and it is now 10:05. You will need to stop back tomorrow." Tom says that we need to speak to the woman "right there" for a minute, pointing her out (and she is currently with a customer). He says "i'm sorry but we are closed".
In retrospect, what I am about to say COULD have gotten us in a LOT of troble (dont try this at home, er on vacation). Tom pulls the toy pirate pistol from his waistband, points it at the man, and says "We are not leaving here tonight without the $160 shirt order we paid for, and neither are you." To which the guy laghs (thank god lol), and says ok, ok, let's see what we can do. My brother explains "it has been a very long and trying day" and explains the whole situation to the man. He says he's going over to Donald's double feature and look around. We explain that even the MANAGER of the store doesnt have a clue, and that is what we did first to avoid this whole mess.
The guy comes back 10 minutes later, lo and behold, carrying the box. He apologizes, and opens up the box for us to check them out. They're perfect. We ask him to perhaps clue in the manager that he should expect these over there if that is where they get sent, and he laughs and shakes his head and says "I don't know why he would be unaware, people order these all the time." Wait, all the time? Not just Once? lol The only thing we could figure is that maybe since it was a friday night, we have had the weekend manager on at Donald's Double Feature rather than the full time person, but that was never conveyed to us.
So, we're now all set, we're in the rooms, have the shirts, my brother held a disney concierge at toy gunpoint....life is good. The trip goes MUCH more smoothly from here on out, trust me.
Tomorrow we head for MK. and that is coming in the next post, but for now, my fingers are tired lol.