View Full Version : Catherine Lamey -- May 2000 -- Coronado Springs Resort

Trip Reports
01-07-2007, 07:53 PM
Catherine Lamey -- May 2000 -- Coronado Springs Resort

Trip report May 20-25, 2000

Cast of characters:

Your narrator, Catherine, 35, eighth WDW visit
Lynne, 35, fourth WDW visit
Janet, 34, third WDW visit (one was on Christmas Eve and too crowded to enjoy.)
First day (Saturday)

Lynne and I departed Washington at 11 AM on U.S. Airways. Upon arrival at Orlando we picked up the luggage and went to buy Mears tickets and catch the bus. It took a couple of minutes to buy round-trip tickets and 15 minutes waiting outside until the bus to Coronado Springs showed up.

Our bus also stopped at Caribbean Beach, which we didn't mind since Lynne wanted to check it out. All we saw was the Custom House, with the check-in desk, which is separated from the other buildings.

The bus then drove over to CS and dropped us off at the luggage room area. From there we had a short walk across to the main lobby.

We thought CS was a very attractive resort. It's painted in peach, teal, coral, yellow and terra cotta colors. There are many palms and flowering plants. The lobby is a long hall with an arched ceiling, with a fountain and tiled dome in the center. On the left is a store called Panchito's, which was at least as big as the Disney Store in the local mall, and the corridor leading to the food court, the Maya Grill restaurant, and the convention hall.

We waited in a short line to check in. We were given a room in Cabanas 9B as we had requested in our room assignment fax - thanks RADP for information about sending the fax! We got Room 9624 on the second floor.

We had another short walk from the lobby over to 9B. Cabana buildings, as it turns out, are very long. They all have two floors and three staircases. Our room was between the middle staircase and the far left staircase, and pretty convenient to either staircase. The rooms are laid out in sort of a zigzag pattern, and there is a brightly colored railing around the walkways. Our room was in a corner, which gave us 2 windows instead of 1 as most of the other rooms had.

The room was rather overwhelmingly yellow, but otherwise nice. Lynne stayed at Port Orleans for her honeymoon and she said that their rooms have the same basic layout, but different furniture. CS has bright furniture in loud colors - a small table, 2 chairs, beds with bright spreads, yellow Southwest-style TV armoire with three long drawers, vanity area with room to hang clothes (no closet), iron, ironing board, coffee maker, Mickey soap and shampoo, room safe. We had to call to get a key for the room safe as there wasn't one in the room. Engineering personnel showed up a few minutes later to give us a key for the lock. We couldn't fault them for their speed. They gave us a direct number to call if we found anything else that needed fixing. Nothing did except that the knob on one of the drawers came off when you pulled it. That didn't seem to warrant a call to Engineering as it could be screwed back on.

We went to walk around the resort. The Cabana buildings have tin roofs and look like beach condos. In front, near the lake, is a small stretch of sand and hammocks to sit in. Ranchos buildings have tile roofs. Some portions of the Ranchos buildings have 3 stories, and some have 2. The Casitas are in peach and yellow and have 3-4 stories. Around the Casitas are some nice fountains and courtyards. From across the lake this section has a kind of Mexico City look (Disneyfied, of course). Each section has a small quiet pool, but we didn't spend any time at them. We stopped at health club to inquire about membership for Lynne. They had a $20 length of stay membership that she could pay for the next day when she went to exercise.

We entered the Pepper Market food court to buy refillable mugs, $9.95 for unlimited refills. A good deal if you are around the resort a lot. Note: no root beer or Dr. Pepper. Pink lemonade and iced tea are available for soda haters. Morning coffee drinkers can make their own; coffee singles are provided with room coffee maker, and Ursula the housekeeper (we never saw her, so we don't know if she had tentacles or not) was great about providing more coffee. More about the Pepper Market later.

We took our mugs and went to the Dig Site pool. The pool has a Mayan pyramid with cascading water, a water slide with a spitting jaguar statue, a big jacuzzi, a kiddie pool, an excellent playground for the kids, a little kiosk selling stuff like keychains and $10 sunscreen, a pool bar (Lynne says there was no beer her husband would like there) and a little snack window selling a selection of fast-food type items. We only used it to refill our mugs . It would help the refillable mug crowd if there were an outside soda fountain to fill up mugs instead of waiting in line with folks buying lunch for lots of kids. The pool was pretty crowded. Once in the pool you can get a nice water massage from the spitting Mayan stone god, a good thing if it's 92 degrees outside. The pool area is also a great place to lie down and read a book for awhile.

After pool time, we went back to our room, cleaned up, and decided to wait for Janet at the lobby area and then eat at Maya Grill before going to the Magic Kingdom, which was open until midnight. We waited about an hour on some benches placed outside main lobby, where new arrivals wait for the luggage carts. Mears buses went by every 10 minutes or so, none of them carrying Janet. Lynne finally called United, finding out that Janet's flight from Washington had been delayed 2 1/2 hours. We decided we would leave Janet's key at the front desk with a note so that she could pick up her key and wouldn't wonder where we were, then go to MK and check up on her later. It was late enough that the Maya Grill would have to wait.

We walked over from the lobby to Bus Stop 1 and caught the MK bus. This bus ran around CS to Bus Stops 2 and 3, then headed for MK. (Sometimes, they start at Bus Stop 2, and stop at Bus Stop 1 last.) We entered the MK at dusk, which I hadn't done before. The castle lights now change colors, and it was a wild shade of orange. There was a slight bottleneck at the MK gate from folks trying to get their tickets into the ticket-reading machines. (At all the parks they seemed to be having trouble with the paper tickets, either inserting them or reading them. One CM at Typhoon Lagoon said that if they get folded or wet, the machines have trouble with them.)

As we walked in, the first MSEP was getting ready to start, and there were crowds lined up to watch. We decided not to watch (food was a priority) and made our way through Adventureland and across to Frontierland where we had to ask someone where the Columbia Harbor House was (gasp- Disney veterans asking directions.) We asked a young CM who was goofing around for the parade crowd. Turns out it was right around the corner.

I had a fried fish & chicken combo with fries and malt vinegar and a cup of water. It was hot, and pretty good for fast food fare. The chicken batter was peppery, but I like that. Lynne had chowder in a bread bowl- she said it was good but there was too much bread. We were relatively ravenous so we shoveled everything down fast (except the excess bread). We left the Harbor House and walked across to the HM. A CM sitting on the wall behind the HM gate said "hello" in her haunted voice when we walked through. Lynne jumped about six feet in the air. Always check behind the gate before you walk in at night if you don't want to risk a heart attack.

Nobody was in line at the HM. We had a half-minute or so to read the tombstones, then into the stretching room with a few people. We noted some improvements that had been made to the ride, such as the sharper look of Madame Leota in her glass ball (I understand she's digital now) and the much improved haunted bride figure. We have all visited Disneyland - I used to visit often when living in L.A. - and we were looking for differences. When we got off, we went over to ride Small World. There are a lot of Disneyland differences with this ride. I miss the façade and that silly clock. After that, Lynne called her husband and I called the room. Janet was in. She needed to eat, so she was going to the Pepper Market, then would meet us in front of the castle. We hung up and called Janet's husband to tell him she had gotten there in one piece.

Our next stop was Tomorrowland, where we looked at Space Mountain - line too long - then went to Toontown to see the fireworks (we read in the Unofficial Guide that it was a good place to watch them.) It was, although it would help if they would pipe the music back there. On an earlier trip to WDW we had tried to see the fireworks from the side of the castle where the best view of Tinkerbell is, but it turned out that the fireworks were completely blocked by trees, so Toontown was much better. As we walked back toward the castle, we stopped to ride the Mad Tea Party. The CM running the ride overcounted the riders/teacups ratio and we had to go back and wait for next ride, which didn't take long. I found a kid's watch in the teacup and kept it to turn in at the info desk on Main Street. We whirled our teacup around enough to get dizzy, then meandered back to the castle to meet Janet.

She found us on time, disgusted with United Airlines. Apparently they sat an hour in the airport and an hour on the plane, and United didn't make any apology or attempt to make up time. She didn't wait for the Mears bus but took a taxi to CS. We went back to Adventureland and rode PotC, pointing out more Disneyland differences. Other than the pre-ride area, the biggest difference that I miss is the skeleton in the bed with the treasure all around, which I call "Lifestyles of the Rich and Dead." WDW has a treasure room too, but it has pirates in odd positions shooting holes in barrels. There's a PC version of the pillage room now, in which the pirates are all being chased by women who seem angry with them.

We got off Pirates and walked back through Adventureland, looking for orange slushes, but the stand was closed. We stopped to go on the Jungle Cruise - one of the internet sites had said it was closed for refurbishment, but it turned out to be open. We walked right on. The Jungle Cruise is definitely better at night. The CM was probably ready to go home, since she rushed through the jokes. They don't shoot at the hippo any more.

We went back to Frontierland and watched MSEP sitting on one of those wooden platforms with a tree growing out of it. There weren't many folks waiting for the late parade. We were then ready to turn in the watch from the teacup, get out of the MK and go back to CS for sleep.

Second day (Sunday)

Lynne got up early to go to health club. Janet & I got up later and went to look at the resort and fill up our mugs. The Pepper Market breakfast line was huge. We could walk past the entrance line since all we wanted to do was fill our mugs.

In the room, we had our breakfast of NutriGrain bars, donuts, bananas, Pop Tarts, and juice boxes from my softside cooler, which I had filled up with ice the night before. I had Diet Coke for a caffeine fix since I don't usually drink coffee. Lynne, our only coffee drinker, made coffee with the room's little coffee machine.

We were off to the Animal Kingdom, so our first stop was Bus Stop 1. The AK bus stops at Blizzard Beach first, then heads to AK. The AK Lodge construction is visible as you turn into the drive toward the park. I've heard a rumor that persons staying at other resorts won't be allowed to go in and look at the AK Lodge, which would be disappointing. I hope WDW changes its mind on that. I bet they'd let you go in to eat at the restaurants.

We entered AK past the Rainforest Café, which we didn't want to try because we have one close by in Virginia. Fighting crowds to eat somewhere we could eat at home wasn't anything we wanted to plan. There was a gate section commemorating the AK's land of mythical animals, which, of course, hasn't been built yet.

In the Oasis section there were lots of enclosures that supposedly had animals in them, but we didn't stop to look.

At Safari Village you locate the Tree of Life. It's extremely large and you'll want to look at the carvings. There is a garden at its base and some animal enclosures. We were in a hurry at the moment and didn't stop to check these. We walked clockwise around the tree toward Africa, and went straight down to Kilimanjaro Safaris to get a fastpass. There's a location off to the side where you put your ticket into a machine and it gives you a fastpass. Turns out you have to insert the ticket upside-down, which caused a little confusion.

We walked around looking at the Harambe village, then checked the menus at the counter-service restaurants (walking over to see Flame Tree) and decided on Flame Tree for lunch. I looked at some carved wooden animals in a store, and decided to buy some later. I did buy some magnets. We went over near the Tree of Life and looked at some birds in their enclosures - parrots, flamingoes, and teal ducks. There were some lemurs out running around their enclosure, and a couple of little brown kangaroos.

We went back to KS and turned in our fastpasses. We then walked right past the 40-minute standby line (getting some unfriendly looks from the standby crowd) and got on the 2nd truck to come through. The wait was no more than 5 minutes. Our driver was Jill from South Africa. There turned out to be plenty of animals out and about, though some were sleeping, like the rhino and the lions. They were at least sleeping where you could see them! We all got some photos that will turn out great. The poacher story was a bit lame. We wondered about the guy whose job it is to stand out there pretending to catch the poacher - did he know when the next car was coming, or did they catch him drinking a Coke or using his Disney spray fan to escape the heat?

Speaking of the heat, when we got off we went to get a Fastpass for Kali River Rapids - isn't Kali the Hindu goddess of death? Surely the ride isn't all that bad.

While waiting for our turn to ride, we walked around the Maharaja Jungle trek to see the very large bats and the bored-looking tigers in their lovely enclosure. One got up and showed me his rear end just as I took his picture. Back we went and walked onto KRR. We sat in a raft with English couple and their camcorder, and one extremely good-looking gentleman who was there with his family, but due to the seat configuration he was forced to sit with me, heh heh.

The best thing about this ride is the waterproof compartment where you can stow your stuff. Nobody's stuff got wet, but all the passengers did. The fellow with camcorder got really wet. The good-looking guy used Mr. Camcorder's machine to videotape him and his wife and all the rest of us so watchers back in Britain could see that Mr. Camcorder got wettest of all of us. I think the ride is way too short. It has some nice scenery, but the rainforest logging part is pretty heavy-handed. Here you have one mega-corporation showing how evil other mega-corporations can be. It was great to get wet because the high temperature was about 93. Note that if you're facing backward in the raft you're going to get pretty wet.

We squished over to Dinoland and got our fastpass for Dinosaur. We then went over to lunch at the Flame Tree. My barbecue chicken sandwich was quite good. Lynne had ribs and cheese fries, which we shared. Janet had a salad with turkey in bread bowl. We sat outside by the river. A warning about seating - the path you take down to the river is convoluted, so be aware if you're going to send 1 member of party ahead to grab seating. You may not find them again.

We finished off our lunch, fending off aggressive black and brown birds who wanted our french fries, then went to ride Dinosaur. Here we had the longest wait of the trip - 15 minutes, with fastpass. The regular line had a 45 minute wait sign. The preshow movie is mercifully short, so they get you down to the ride pretty quickly. Phylicia Rashad is in the movie. I didn't recognize the obnoxious scientist guy, although the film gave the impression that you're SUPPOSED to recognize him. The ride itself is dark, with big ugly dinosaurs popping out on all sides. The last appearance of the big carnivore is downright scary the first time (You know he's fake, but you're yelling your head off anyway.) Great fun if you like that sort of thing, which I do. It's like a bumpy dark funhouse with dinosaurs. I thought Indiana Jones at Disneyland was better, but this wasn't bad. The dinosaur shop still sells lots of things that say Countdown to Extinction. They haven't had time to get new merchandise yet.

I shopped for carved animals at the Wonders of the Wild shop. I had them sent back to the room at CS. This is a great service that Disney doesn't charge you for if you're staying in a Disney resort.

I had to go and see It's Tough to Be a Bug. Janet and Lynne didn't want to go and went to wait in the bar that is on the park map. ITTBAB has the longest queue area ever devised by Disney. You'd think you would never get there, but at least you can look at the carvings on the roots of the tree of life. Very interesting.

The movie seemed totally innocuous - note that I have no phobia about bugs. I sat in the back near the exit, in one of the blocks of three seats for folks accompanying the wheelchair-bound. There was no wheelchair in that particular spot, so I sat there anticipating a quick exit. I expected the stink bug to stink more and there to be actual bugs in the movie, but they were all animated Bug's Life style. It's a cute film. Little kids might be scared of the big spiders but they're really obviously fake. Where I sat in the rear of the room there's an overhang, and the spiders only descend over the main part of the auditorium. Anybody who'd like to see the flick but is queasy about spiders ought to sit in the rear. The bar Lynne and Janet went to wait in was closed (permanently?) but there was a shady area there suitable for eating ice cream.

We then walked over the Camp Minnie - Mickey to see Festival of the Lion King. We walked on in and sat in what turned out to be the Elephant section. The show is wonderful. There are excellent performers and some great animal floats, including Pumbaa, my favorite. (I'm a Timon and Pumbaa fan, so this was my show.) I must say that I really enjoyed singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" with the performers.

We took our leave of AK and went back to CS, stopping to pick up our Disney Millennium pins that came with the Unlimited Magic pass, then went to the pool for awhile. I tried the waterslide. It's short but fast if you lie down. Isn't so fast if you sit up. The kids using it said they liked it a lot.

For dinner, we went to the Maya Grill. It's decorated in an austere, neo-Mexican sort of manner. It's very pleasant, with big windows letting the light in. We had a seafood ceviche appetizer that was very good. There's bread and a garlic dipping sauce. I had (very!) spicy chicken w/ black bean rice and Lynne and Janet had a seafood dish, the name of which I can't remember, but they said it was very good. Lynne had some white wine she loved and Janet and I ordered these margaritas you could swim in. We ate and went to MGM by bus. The bus stopped at Boardwalk first, so we got our first glimpse of that.

We walked down to Star Tours to see if any vestige of Star Wars weekend remained, but it had been cleared out by then. Janet hadn't ridden Star Tours so we rode it. We stopped for a restroom break and walked to the Tower of Terror. There turned out to be no wait so we rushed right on in. ToT has a new drop sequence. When I went on it before, it dropped like a rock and that was it. This time it dropped, returned, dropped, returned halfway, dropped, returned. Those mouse ears on the water tower kept showing up in the window and you knew you were going to get dropped again. We went to ride again but they'd closed the entrance gate! Went over to try the Rock and Roller Coaster, and that was closed too! it turns out the park closed at 9:30 rather than the 10:30 written in the brochure we were given at check-in. Too bad, as we wanted to try and catch the second show of Fantasmic - and would have if there had been one. We left and got surveyed at the gate, complaining about the closing-time snafu, then went back to CS to sleep.

Third day (Monday)

Started with our usual schedule at CR - health club for Lynne, breakfast in room with caffeine in our mugs from the Pepper Market (except for Lynne and her coffee). We went to back to MGM to ride the RnRR, which we missed last night when the park closed an hour earlier than the posted closing time. There was only a 10 minute wait so we didn't get a fastpass. This is great coaster. As a former resident of Los Angeles, I loved the LA landmarks. Check out the picture of Aerosmith riding the coaster that they keep on the counter in the souvenir store. Steve Tyler's lips are back to his ears. We bought our photo - one copy that Lynne will keep, and Janet and I will scan it.

We walked over to get a fastpass for ToT, then wandered down the street. Janet hadn't been to MGM before so we went on the Great Movie Ride. When we were in high school, we loved the movie "Alien" so that section was a big hit. Janet thinks the Gene Kelly figure looks like Dick Van Dyke and the Dick Van Dyke figure looks like Gene Kelly. Maybe they switched them when nobody was looking.

We walked back to Tower of Terror, stopping to have a bathroom break, look in shops and fill water bottles. It was getting even hotter today than it had been the previous two days, with a higher humidity factor. We rode the ToT, waiting maybe 10 minutes to get on. A small child riding with his father screamed throughout the ride from the time the door closed until the drop sequence began. Either he didn't mind the drop as much as the spooky occurrences before it, or the drop left him speechless. A tall angular CM leaned into the doors when they opened, looking like Norman Bates' scarier brother. This ride is always fun, but I liked it better at night. During the day, though, if you look toward the horizon when the door opens at the top you can see Blizzard Beach. I could probably have seen CS if I'd looked for it.

We took the boat to the Boardwalk. There was no operational AC on the boat, so we opened the windows to get a breeze. Some passengers didn't like windows open but the open-window majority prevailed because it was really very hot by that time. We cruised by the Swan/Dolphin, YC and BC, then to Boardwalk. Except for the heat it's a nice relaxing boat ride. At Boardwalk, we looked in a shop and then decided on Big River Grill for lunch. We sat outside as it was a much longer wait to sit inside. There were lots of little black bugs that liked to land on the table.

I had a chicken cashew salad, very good and nice selection for the hot day. Lynne had a burger and Janet had a grilled tuna salad, they asked her how she wanted the tuna cooked. It came out quite good. If you like beer, the beer sampler is a good deal; for $4.50 or so you get six small glasses of different kinds of beer. I got through about 3 little glasses of beer before realizing that we left the wall safe open in the room. When I finished my lunch (and beer sampler), I went to catch the bus back to CS while Lynne and Janet went on to Epcot. We planned to meet at the Rose & Crown pub. The Boardwalk has a direct bus to CS, so there wouldn't be any changing buses at the ticket center or anywhere else.

Back at CS I locked the safe, stored the key in my bag, went back to lobby and asked guest services to make us a PS for dinner at Morocco at 7. The guy had to look it up on a map of Epcot, but he finally found it.

I rode the bus back to Epcot and walked in through the front gate. There have been lots of changes to Epcot since I was there last - then, they had a lot of huge barriers around Innoventions. With the heat and oppressive humidity, I got as far as Canada before breaking down and buying some frozen yogurt from a nice Canadian girl who admired my Eddie Bauer travel pouch. I like it much better than a fanny pack but it won't hold bulky items. Thank goodness for Disney resort room delivery.

I met Janet and Lynne at the Rose & Crown, where I ate yogurt and we tried to guess which area of Britain the Brits at next table were from. Lynne won because they were from Newcastle - she asked. I'm glad she didn't tell them that I thought they were Welsh.

We walked back around through the countries and got a fastpass for Test Track. This fastpass didn't allow entry until 6:15, so we had a lot of time and could still make it to Morocco for dinner. We went over to the Wonders of Life pavilion so Janet could see Cranium Command, which is very funny. They've improved the preshow area in that they wait to start the movie until you enter the area. Before, you just walked in and might have missed the movie, which is very silly and enjoyable.

We then went to see the Energy Adventure. It's much improved without the self-congratulatory Exxon movie, but I missed the part where they mention the "lovely port of Valdez" and get a lot of derisive laughter. The addition of Animatronic Ellen to the dinosaur section is actually pretty good for the show. Bill Nye is a little too enthusiastic for my taste.

Walked over to Spaceship Earth, which had no line to get on. I like Jeremy Irons, and I don't have any nostalgic ties to Walter Cronkite, so I enjoyed the new narration. I don't remember the old ending much except that the last diorama was getting dated, so it was good they replaced it. The psychedelic light show is fun. They really need some padding on the headrests.

Janet and I wanted to take the Eric Idle tour next. We have been Monty Python fans since high school, so we all trekked over to HISTA and waited to see it. That Kodak commercial is pretty, but it's just way too long. The movie is fine but the clothing is starting to look dated. I'd forgotten that Eric Idle is in the film as much as he is.

Then we went on JIYI. I heard how hideous this ride is from RADP. It is pretty bad, but there was lots of Eric Idle as its only saving grace. I would have liked a bigger role for Figment and some optical illusions that actually worked. (The butterfly trick was good.) Lynne believed the point of the ride was a bit condescending, assuming that the riders need a boost to their imagination. I don't remember the old ride much, although I know I've been on it twice. It never made much of an impression on me. The Dreamfinder looked like a character from "Godspell."

We went to Mouse Gear to shop ( I found some tasteful silver Mickey Mouse earrings!) and then over to Test Track. I loved the waiting area, with various mayhem being performed on the crash-test dummies. The pre-ride movie was interesting, and the ride was great. I think to write the best part of it could be a spoiler, though.

Once we got out of Test Track we were off on the road to Morocco. I'll bet Bob and Bing never walked this fast in their lives. We started out walking really fast, then almost running as Morocco is in the middle of the World Showcase, it was just about 7 and time for our PS, and there was no easy route to get there. The Tapestry of Nations parade was going on and we had to follow it through the World Showcase as it was headed toward Morocco. We got to Morocco with sore feet and found out that our PS had been made for 33 people instead of 3 - the guy at CS must have hit the key twice. The hostess was terribly relieved to find out that we were only a party of 3.

I love Marrakesh. I had a chicken bastilla that we all split - really good - and veggie couscous, which Janet had also. Had water to drink. Lynne had the couscous combo. There was entertainment - Moroccan musicians and a belly dancer, who was smilingly tolerant of all the folks who got up to dance with her.

The restaurant is beautiful, too, and there were some authentic-looking Moroccans dining there.

We intended to get out of Marrakesh in time to catch the later ToN parade and then see Illuminations. When we walked out of Morocco, the parade was emerging from the gate right next to Morocco and walking away from us! (of course it was, since we followed it in.) We walked along beside the parade, getting shooed along by the huge metal man puppets, until we got to Italy, then stopped.

Lynne loved this parade and said it was second only to MSEP in her estimation of Disney parades. I did not have the same opinion - though I did really like the music. After the huge metal men (they were pretty cool) and the fourth appearance of the clock thing with the drums on it, I went to find a spot to watch Illuminations. I wound up near the wrought iron fence across from Italy, in the right-hand corner sitting on a clay pot with a small tree in it. When the parade was over, the crowd started cramming itself into this area rather quickly. My friends caught up with me and we jostled for position. It was friendly jostling, though, with much appreciative comment about my Monty Python tee shirt. (So - nobody under 40 remembers Monty Python, huh?)

When they started the show, I had my head in the tree, but I could see pretty well. The 2000 incarnation is pretty good with the big fireworks and the flames, except that we had trouble seeing the projections on the globe (and we were fairly close to it.) I miss the part where they light up each country and rather hope they will go back to it next year. We laughed a lot about the globe opening up like orange slices or a Bloomin' Onion to show the torch inside.

When Illuminations was over we trod on sore feet through the International Gateway back to Boardwalk to catch the bus to CS. The walk is short and very interesting, as there's lots going on at the Boardwalk at night. We waited awhile for the CS bus, watching the antics of people's children. There were lots of CS folks who had the same idea but obviously hadn't caught the direct bus before, and were asking each bus driver about the CS bus. When it came, it said CORONADO on the front and there was no mistaking it.

On arrival back at CS, Janet stayed in the room while Lynne and I went up to the pool and sat in the jacuzzi, then swam in the main pool a bit. The pool is open until midnight, but they turn off the cascading waterfall and the spitting stone god when the lifeguard isn't on duty. There were lots of conventioneers in the jacuzzi -there was an IBM convention at the hotel. I discovered while soaking my feet in the pool that the little toe on my left foot was now one large blister. Fortunately I brought moleskin and blister pads - a necessity at WDW. We went back to the room and slept.

Fourth day (Tuesday)

We got the news report from Lynne who watched CNN in the health club. There was possible rain predicted for today, and Sir John Gielgud had died. We had our in-room breakfast, got some Coke in our mugs, then got on the bus and went to Downtown Disney to shop. We got things for ourselves and families in the World of Disney store and used my MKC card for 10% off. We looked in the Lego store and the art store before heading back to CS on the bus. That was the first time we noticed that there were now 3 bus stops at Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island/West Side, and our bus stopped at the Boardwalk, too.

Back at CS we put on our swimsuits and went down to the Pepper Market for lunch. The food is pretty overpriced but perfectly serviceable. Janet and I had a wet burrito (wet means they pour sauce over it, not, as Janet surmised, that they squirt you with a hose while you're eating it) and Lynne had a burger. The servers who fill your mug for you were attentive, so we didn't contest the 10% added gratuity.

We headed out to the pool, filled those mugs again, bought some stuff from the pool kiosk with the resort logo on it, and settled down to swim and read. It's really a wonderful pool. It got too hot for me after a couple of hours and I went back to the room to wash. Lynne came back within a few minutes. We had decided to go over to the MK for awhile before dinner and E-ticket night. Janet was going to remain at the pool and meet us at the Polynesian for dinner.

Lynne and I caught the bus to the MK and got a view of the brush fire that was visible in the woods some distance from the MK. When we got to the gate I found out my ticket was still in the room, so it was back to the CS on the bus where I (sheepishly) asked the front desk for a key to the room. They made me a spare key card with no park ticket on it. I grabbed my ticket/key out of the room and got back on the MK bus. Our Cabana was close enough to Bus Stop 1 that I didn't have to walk too long on my sore foot.

I went into the MK and changed my E-ticket for a wristband on the way in. I met Lynne at the statue of Walt and Mickey near the castle. That turns out to be a good place to meet because there are trees for shade and benches to sit on. Lynne had been shopping. She went back out to Main Street to get her E-ticket wristband and I stayed with Mickey and Walt. It was interesting to watch people posing for pictures with the Dynamic Duo, especially trying to convince the little kids to stay still. There was so much they wanted to see right away.

When Lynne came back, we went to Adventureland to get cool drinks. Lynne had an orange swirl and I had an orange slush that came in a great little plastic MK cup, which I kept and toted around the park all day. We sat on rocking chairs on the Frontierland porch and ate the orange stuff. The Frontierland hoedown came along a bit later and we could see some of the dancing.

We went back to ride PoTC again, then shopped awhile in the stores around Adventureland. In one store I found my beloved Hakuna Matata baseball cap. We walked back through Frontierland and noticed the new water spray from Splash Mountain - a gusher now sprays the bridge where you watch the ride after about every third drop. We walked around Fantasyland looking for a pair of Mickey ears for my nephew, but couldn't find the hat shop because we were thinking of Disneyland. The WDW hat shop is on Main Street close to the gate, so we went down there and I stood in a line with a bunch of other aunts buying Mickey ears for their nephews, or so it seemed.

We got on the monorail to ride to the Polynesian. The voice gets stuck on the words "Animal Kingdom" and repeats itself a few times before it's mercifully cut off. We checked out the Poly while we waited for Janet - it's a place I'd have to win the lottery to stay at, or bring five friends to split the cost with, so I'd never actually been inside before. It has a nice beach, although kids were swimming in the lake within sight of the NO SWIMMING signs. If I ever stay here, I'm getting one of those little boats and cruising around the lake for awhile. CS had the boats for rent but a much smaller lake.

We went to see the Luau Cove - couldn't go in and look because they were seating for the luau - and met Janet in the lobby. She guessed the place was built in the 70s because it looked like Robert Culp in a leisure suit should be hanging around the lobby. (Jack Lord would have fit right in.) We passed our short waiting time for Ohana making up Columbo plots to take place in the Poly.

Ohana was not at all crowded, which our waitress - who reminded us of Florence Henderson - said was unusual. Half of the windows, however, are blocked due to the ongoing refurbishment of the Poly. We were, of course, seated in the windowless area because we decided we wanted food more than we wanted a view. We liked all the food - the appetizers, noodles, fish, grilled meat (the turkey was my favorite) and pineapple with caramel sauce! Be sure you can eat a lot, because they'll bring you a lot. Beware of stray coconuts and hula hoops.

Since the restaurant wasn't busy, they let us go up by the windows to see the fireworks if we sat down and didn't block the view for the standees. They dim the lights and pipe in the music. This was the first time I could see how they coordinated this specific fireworks show to the music, because when we watched it from the MK itself we couldn't hear the music in Toontown.

We took the monorail back to the MK for E-ticket night. We went on the Haunted Mansion first and discovered that the three of us can no longer fit comfortably in one doom buggy. Another right of passage.

From there we went to Splash Mountain, rode it once and got wet, then stayed on at the CM's invitation to ride it again! Splash Mountain is a 10-minute ride, so we spent 20 minutes of our E-ticket time riding Splash Mountain alone, but it's worth it. I also got to sit in the front car at Space Mountain, which I'd never done before at WDW. The line (yes, even on E-ticket night) was a reminder that each 2-car vehicle can only hold 6 people. The Disneyland SM holds twice that number per car.

We tried Buzz Lightyear and I outscored everybody, heh heh. I wish I knew how I'd done it. My friends said how much they thought their husbands would have liked this ride. The guys don't like thrill rides but they love games.

As our last attraction of the night, we went to Alien Encounter. The film features actor Jeffrey Jones with green makeup. If you're in Alien Encounter without a big crowd, listen for the simulated audience comments ("Look! It's my mother-in-law!") Pretty funny the way it adds to the atmosphere.

All in all, we thought E-ticket night was worth the 10 extra bucks and would do it again. The time flew by, of course.

It didn't rain, either, but due to the proximity of the brush fire the MK smelled like mesquite charcoal all day long.

Fifth day (Wednesday)

We had breakfast in the room again, trying to finish up our bunch of bananas. Today was our day to visit Typhoon Lagoon, so we got into swimsuits and thongs (for the feet!) and went to catch the bus.

This was the first long bus ride of the day. We rode from CS to Boardwalk, Downtown Disney, Pleasure Island and West Side before pulling into TL. Some folks at the TL gates were having trouble getting the machines to take their paper tickets. Our plastic room key/tickets slid through without problems.

This was a very hot day, it reached a high of 96. We found a nice cove to sit in near the Shark Reef and Typhoon Tilly's. Castaway Creek - our real reason for visiting TL - was crowded with British tourists, but we went around it twice before getting out of the logjam. The wave pool was very full so we didn't try any bodysurfing. We sat, read, and tried out our sunscreen. For lunch, we went in search of barbecue sandwiches that someone had praised online, but could find none. (If anybody knows were you can get BBQ at TL, e-mail me.) We ended up with things like burgers, fish and fries. I wanted a beer with my fish and chips but only Bud and Bud Light were available at the food service counters - and I don't consider those to be actual beer. I got a Sam Adams (it's closer to actual beer) at the bar near the wave pool. We were entertained by large black birds trying to sneak up and steal french fries.

Lynne and I undertook the Bus Ride from Hell to visit the Caribbean Beach Resort. Neither of us had ever seen it except for our glimpse from the Mears bus, so we thought we'd go since we were relatively close. The CBR bus we got on went to DTD , then to PI where the drivers changed, then to the West Side where it sat for ten minutes, then BACK to TL, then, finally, to CBR.

CBR is nice from looks of it, but it is so spread out that you can't see all of it at once. The pool is much smaller than the one at CS but well themed, like an old Spanish fort with cannons that shoot water. The resort has lovely little sand beaches that make you wish you could swim in the lakes. The food court area was a real zoo, with people rushing everywhere. We noted that CBR had 7 bus stops, but when we went to get on the TL bus, it went to 3 stops and then headed out. When I got on the bus, I asked the driver where he was going first, and, of course, he said DTD. Lynne and I looked so dejected that he took us to TL. We are still grateful to that bus driver.

Back at TL I called Mears and got our reservation for airport pickup. We went around Castaway Creek a couple more times, seeing as it was less crowded now. Lynne went to ride on some of the slides. After all the bus rides, I was too tired for slides. Janet had sunscreen in her eye and didn't go on any slides either. We stayed another hour and headed back to CS.

We changed for the evening and took a bus to DTD, getting out and walking over to PI rather than riding the bus another stop. We went for dinner at the Portobello Yacht Club, a place Lynne and I had discovered on our trip in 1995. I had a great little pizza, minestrone, bread & garlic, a fruit & wine drink that's rather like sangria, and some chocolate toffee cake. Lynne and Janet had some sort of seafood stew, the name of which I don't remember.

We went through the PI gates and into the Adventurers Club. The singalong was beginning in the library, so we sat up front and sang a song about cows. In the mask room, I got picked on by the leering, talking masks on the front wall. Lynne went back to catch the bus after the mask show. Janet and I stayed awhile longer, hearing the Colonel admonish a young man trying to get attention regarding a friend's birthday with "This isn't Chuck E. Cheese!" After that, we caught the bus back to CS.

Sixth day (Thursday)

We got up early and caught the bus to AK for Breakfastosaurus. While I checked in, Janet and Lynne ran over with our cards and got fastpasses for Dinosaur.

Breakfastosaurus was actually pretty good. We had a silly server called J.W. O'Saurus . The food was typical buffet food, but nobody had any trouble finding anything edible. This restaurant has a nice big main dining room. We weren't seated there, but in a corrugated tin addition that is made up to look like the sort of place where paleontologists would prepare the bones they dig up. Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Pluto worked the room and were appropriately silly. We used our UMP Flex Feature, which paid for both breakfast and gratuity. After eating lots of pancakes, sausage, and fruit, I went on Dinosaur. It is different when you've already been on it once, as it was possible to pay attention to dinosaurs this time. It's rather well done how the carnosaurus or whatever he is pops out of the dark. After the ride, we took our picture with Sue the Tyrannosaurus, or reasonable facsimile thereof.

We walked through Dinoland - they have a setup where actual paleontologists work on actual bones in a glass room, and some cheesy carnival games that nobody played (probably because they wanted 2 bucks per game.) There was a person in a VERY cute dinosaur costume with working jaws that could chew on people's heads and arms. I got it to chew on my arm while Lynne took a picture. Then we switched places and it chewed on her arm. You can feel the person's hands in the jaws. It's like a walking puppet.

I stopped at a store to buy some bamboo chimes for home. We wandered out looking at animals in the Oasis. There were lots of people streaming into the park.

Back to CS to pack up & check out. - I went to Panchito's store to buy a maraca for my nephew, a CS Mickey beanbag, and magnets for folks at work. We asked to check out at 11:30 and were told that the key cards would be deactivated at 11:30 and if our bill was in order we could just leave without going back to the front desk. The bill was hanging from the doorknob, and was all in order. We got our stuff together and headed to catch the Mears bus. We were in an excellent location to haul our stuff to the Mears pickup point - it wasn't very far. Janet bought her one-way ticket from the driver, it cost $15. The bus went back to CBR (I may have to stay there next since I saw so much of it on this visit), loaded more folks, then drove us back to the airport and real life.

Catherine Lamey