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Thread: Steve Russo, Boardwalk and Kidani, January 17 - February 1, 2018

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    Steve Russo, Boardwalk and Kidani, January 17 - February 1, 2018

    Another Granddaddy of All Trip Reports:
    January 17 – February 1, 2018
    Boardwalk Villas and Kidani Village with a Caribbean Beach one night-er tossed in

    Participants
    • Steve – AKA Pop-Pop. A lot older and certainly not a bit wiser.
    • Barb – AKA Grammy and my faithful traveling companion. A woman who simply can’t do what she’s told.
    • Stephen– Our Son and a Walt Disney World veteran, although it’s been several years since his last visit.
    • Stephanie – Stephen’s wife and a veteran of two trips with us beginning in 2009.
    • Jack (3 years old) – Stephen and Stephanie’s son, Steve and Barb’s grandson. Has been in the Magic Kingdom one day when he was about 3 months old. I’m saying that doesn’t count.
    • Grace (1.5 years old) – Stephen and Stephanie’s daughter, Steve and Barb’s first and only granddaughter.

    Background and Health Issues
    Me:
    To get everyone up to date… I had some “thinking” difficulties back in February 2017. They got worse in April and May and I lost the ability to accurately handle the Saturday LA Times and Sunday NY Times Crossroad puzzles - things I’ve been doing for 20+ years.

    Things got worse (yes, worse than not handling crossword puzzles) and I found that finding a Neurologist to visit within 6-8 weeks is a difficult thing. I finally found one and was quickly (and badly) diagnosed with having a stroke. This doctor was rude and condescending and I wouldn’t recommend him to my worst enemy. I won’t give his name (but it rhymes with Dr. Jeffrey Burdick). Anyway, thanks to my daughter, Stephanie, and her lengthy discussion with her brother-in-law (a Boston doctor), I was brought into an Emergency Room at Albany Medical Center on Saturday, May 27 (of course after completing a lawn mowing and some yard work), evaluated quickly with a CT Scan, and diagnosed with a serious brain cancer (Glioblastoma).

    What followed was brain surgery (not something I’d recommend unless it’s really, really needed) followed by six weeks of morning Radiation and evening Chemotherapy (by the way, the Radiation causes a significant hair loss, which took months to recover from). I am currently scaled back to five nights of Chemotherapy on a monthly basis with several rounds of MRIs, blood tests, doctor visits, etc. thrown in.

    Currently, I feel pretty good. My hair is back (although some of the new stuff desires to point up instead of down) but I do tire more quickly and… an afternoon nap of about one hour is required to handle a full day. I really, really need my naps.

    Barb:
    What? Barb is sick? Not exactly.

    We took a trip to Saratoga Springs (New York not Disney World) and, upon returning home, I was tripped, in our garage, by a wheeled suitcase. I had pulled it out of the back of my car and it somehow flipped over behind me as I was backing up. I knew I was going down and turned to Barb to say, “Look out!” She naturally heard that as “Step forward and try to save a 6’2” 225 pound man from falling backward.” She obviously failed and went down herself.

    She seemed fine but, in a few days, walking became an issue. We visited the Lego version of Dr. Jeffrey Burdick and she was diagnosed with a sprain, given a cane and sent on her way. After a few more days of increasing issues (and pain) we visited a new Doctor who, after an MRI, determined a slight fracture in the hip. This called for some medication, continued use of the cane and some rest when needed. Didn’t he know we had a Disney World trip coming up?

    The Trip:
    Barb and I were coming down for 15 days and we were expecting Stephen and family for a week+ in there. They would leave us and spend a couple of days visiting Stephanie’s good friend, and Maid of Honor, Amanda. Unfortunately, Amanda was forced out of town on business so changes were made in their flights and the days they would be available for us. There’s nothing I enjoy more than flight and hotel changes so…

    January 17-20 – Barb and I are in a Boardwalk Villas Studio
    January 21-24 – Stephen and family arrive and join us in a Boardwalk Villas 2-Bedroom
    January 25-27 – We all move to a Kidani Village 2-Bedroom with a Savanna view
    January 28- February 1- Barb and I move back to a Boardwalk Villas Studio while Stephen and family head off to visit Amanda.

    Phew! Yeah, that’s three moves. But we’re not done yet. Stephen added an 8th day on the Park Passes and would be looking for a room for one night. “Nonsense” I stated… “We can sleep all six of us in our Studio for one night.” You’ll hear more about that later.

    Stephen is much like his sister, Michelle, in that they don’t really like Disney restaurant reservations. They consider them places you have to be and much prefer visiting parks and handling meals on the fly. But… he does like ‘Ohana and the Garden Grill restaurant at the Land so we booked those. I also talked them into a visit to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue on their last night without park passes.

    I discussed some possibilities with Barb for her to handle a potential Disney World traveling device. She didn’t like the idea of using a Scooter – mainly because she’s afraid of driving into and off a bus. She also fears hitting someone at a park (although there are more than a few I’d like to have her aim at). A possibility was renting a Wheelchair for her. I pushed my Dad in one in his only visit and it was easy but… that was 17 years ago and I was likely in much better shape. We decided to make a decision while at Disney World.

    So… I think we’re ready.

    Day 0– Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

    I’ve been flying for over 40 years. For several years in the 1980s and 1990s, I flew several times per week into or out of Albany, NY. In all those flights, I never once had an issue with a snowstorm. We once flew late to Disney because of ice in Washington, DC. I often had issues getting my car out of a plowed-in space in the times before Albany developed indoor parking. Nevertheless, I never had a flight canceled due to snow.

    The forecast was snow arriving this afternoon and continuing through tomorrow noon, which, in my opinion, could be a problem. Our flight leaves at 7:30am. The first problem could be trying to get to the airport by 5:30am with a real possibility that snowplows may not be out yet.

    Barb and I, in our 45 years of marriage, have made many last minute travel decisions based on the weather. About 95% of the time, we’ve been wrong. We chose another anyway… I have more than enough Marriott points for a free room at the Courtyard on Wolf Road, which is about 1.5 miles to the airport. That seemed easily do-able, even if the storm was heavy – at least it would be easier than a 15-mile drive from our home.

    We headed to the Courtyard in late afternoon as the snow began. By evening, it was snowing harder and we had a reasonable dinner at the Courtyard before calling it an early night. By the way, we left our Disney suitcases (one each) in the car. We took a single bag into the hotel where we had taken most of our home devices (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, a change of clothes, etc.). I mention that because it became an issue – much later.

    Now, the only negative here is that our cars have lived in a garage for a very long time. Tonight, it would be outside in the cold (about 10 degrees) and a heavy snow.

    Day 1– Wednesday, January 17, 2018 – Snow, Planes and Power-Naps

    We’re up early – very early at around 1:00AM. A glance outside shows cold and heavy snow. There looks to be about five inches on the ground now and it’s accumulating quickly.

    We have some coffee, shower and get our “snow clothes” on with a plan to change shoes and jackets when we’re in the airport-parking garage. At about 3:45, I head outside, start the car, and begin clearing about 6” of snow from it. At about 4:00am I hear a loud sound coming from my left. I assume this is likely a snowplow traveling down Wolf Road but I glance up to see a 737 coming in for a landing. It’s literally 30 feet over my head and in all my years of working at Wolf Road, I’ve never seen a plane come in that low. Did the snow cause it?

    When I’ve got the car mostly cleared, I pull it under the hotel’s awning (there’s no one else around at 4:15) and pick up Barb and our hotel luggage. We make it to the airport in about 10 minutes and I find a parking spot on the second level but a bit farther from the airport entrance than we’re used to. In any event, I think our decision on the hotel was a good one – I don’t think I’d be enjoying a longer trip from home this morning.

    It’s about 5:00am when we check-in our luggage and head through Security. Yes, we did score TSA Pre again so it was easy. We stopped at McDonald’s for a coffee but passed on any of their breakfast items.

    At 5:30, we’re down to our boarding area and learning that we could have gotten on a 5:30am flight to Orlando. The gates are now closed but I could kick myself for not looking. The longer the day, and snowfall, the higher chance of flight issues.

    We spend a few minutes chatting with my good friend, Jim Pertierra, who’s about to head off on a flight to California. We board our plane at 7:00 but, even though it’s gotten here from an airport garage, it still requires three rounds of de-icing. We wound up taking off one hour late at 8:30am.

    The flight is good, once we get out of the snow, and we land and make our way to Magical Express, which seems a bit more crowded than usual. In just a few minutes, we’re off to the Boardwalk. For the second time, the last was in November, I do not receive a text indicating our room is or isn’t ready. When we arrive, I check in at the front desk and express this. Our Cast Member apologizes then gives the good news that our room, 3073, is ready. That’s great news so we head there to freshen up a bit and, in about 2 minutes, see our luggage delivered. That has NEVER happened before and I’m betting our luggage made the 5:30am flight that I was too stupid to join.

    It’s cold here, in the 50s, but tradition means everything to us so we’re off to Epcot and the Rose and Crown. By the way, Barb has chosen to walk while using her cane. If things get worse, she’ll consider the wheelchair.

    I see my friend and bartender Carl again. He always shakes my hand and acts like he remembers me but I’m a bit doubtful that’s true. We grab his Carl’s Combo (Barb) and a Black and Tan for me – and an order of Fish and Chips that we share for lunch. We enjoy every part of this – as I mentioned, it’s sort of our tradition.

    We were both feeling a bit tired, mostly me, so I changed our Soarin’ FastPass a bit and we walked back to the room to unpack our suitcases and take a quick one-hour nap (OK, it lasted about an hour and a quarter).

    At 5:00, we headed back to Epcot for our FastPass ride on Soarin’ and a reasonably light dinner from Sunshine Seasons (there are no discounts offered here now). It was very cold outside and we were still tired from a long night/day/night so we walked around Epcot’s countries for a bit then we were back in our room at about 7:30. I hoped to last until 9:00 -10:00 before sleep but our bed won me over at 8:00. That’s very early, even for me, but we were exhausted. We left the TV on timer, thinking that might keep us awake, but I think we were both asleep in seconds and never heard the sounds of Illumination at 9:00.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think Barb and I finally made a good travel decision by renting the hotel near the airport.
    I think I’m ecstatic that our flight was slightly late instead of being canceled completely.
    I think Disney is having a problem texting me our room information but I’m told that’s been fixed.
    I think it was great receiving our room, and our luggage, so quickly after arrival.
    I think I enjoy the Rose and Crown a great deal, especially on the first day of a Disney vacation.
    I think I’m very, very tired.

    Day 2– Thursday, January 18, 2018 – A Meeting After 20+ Years

    Would you believe me if I said we slept from 8:00 last night until 7:30 this morning? I don’t think either of us have done that in history but… yes, it felt good.

    We had some later FastPasses at Animal Kingdom today so we took our time getting ready. We were off to breakfast at the Ale & Compass (formerly the Captain’s Grill) at the Yacht Club at 10:00. After breakfast, we took a walk around Crescent Lake (Barb was still using her cane but walking very well), freshened up and then waited for a bus to Animal Kingdom.

    We had our second ride on Avatar Flight of Passage. The first was in November and I am still very impressed. Is it the best ride in Disney World? I know there could be arguments but I believe so.

    Barb took a ride on Expedition Everest- I just can’t take the backward parts on that ride. If Barb wants to ride with a FastPass, I’ll go with her. However, when she rides using the Single Rider line, she’s on her own.

    When she exits the ride, she tells me she met up with RADPs Sandi Femino in line. Sure enough, Sandi and her friend exited within minutes. We chatted a bit, talked about tomorrow’s RADP meet, and then turned them loose for another pass on Expedition Everest. Sandi loves this ride.

    We stopped for an early dinner (around 5:00) at Pizzafari. This was a restaurant that I’ve always enjoyed but I don’t believe it’s now as good. My favorite has been the Pizza with Caesar Salad. The salad is now a greatly reduced size and the pizzas are all Flatbreads. It’s not bad but in my opinion, nowhere near as good as past offerings. They do, however, still accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

    We were scheduled to meet RADP’s Rodney Grill for a drink at the Boardwalk at around 6:30 so we headed out. We saw two Yacht and Beach Club buses, which we almost took, before seeing a Boardwalk bus pull up.

    I texted with Rodney and found he was on his way. We entered the Belle Vue Room but Barb and I could find no tables for three available inside (it was still cold outdoors) so we grabbed a few seats at the small bar (it only seats five). We ordered drinks and I saw Rodney entering within minutes.

    It’s funny but Rodney and I have been communicating on RADP (and some email) for over 20 years but have never met in person. We had a wonderful two-hour conversation and a nice couple of drinks before I bailed on him. By 8:30, I had begun my nightly fade, so we said our goodbyes and talked about chatting again tomorrow at the RADP group meeting. He headed off to Epcot and Illuminations, while Barb and I headed to the room. We, at least, passed last night’s bedtime by about 90 minutes.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think I had the longest sleep of my life – at least my adult life – last night.
    I think the Ale & Compass is nice but I can’t see a huge improvement over the Captain’s Grill.
    I think Disney has erred in the Pizzafari changes.
    I think Avatar Flight of Passage is the best ride on Disney property. I do however think they’ll need some changes to the pre-show. It’s not bad but, once you’ve been through it more than twice, it gets a bit stale – and it’s long.
    I think it was wonderful meeting someone you’ve laughed with, fought with and just enjoyed his comments for over 20 years. I’ll get together with Rodney and a few other RADPers tomorrow but I hope we can do this more often.
    I think I need a 10:00 bedtime soon so I can see Illuminations.

    Day 3– Friday, January 19, 2018 – The RADP Meet and Greet

    We’re off to park opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s still a bit cool this morning but should begin warming up later today. We decide to walk, rather than wait for a boat, and Barb is doing great with it. She’s using her cane but, honestly, not with a lot of gusto. It’s mostly just something she’s carrying on her walks.

    We first use a FastPass on Toy Story Midway Mania. I know many people love this ride but, for me, it’s always been just OK. I don’t dislike it but missing it would not upset me.

    We walk from there over to Star Tours and enter a 20-minute Standby queue. I’m betting the real time is actually shorter because that seems to be the way this attraction always works. I was soooooo wrong. Once inside, we hit a stall and I watched a couple of Cast Members walk up and down the aisles for a bit. I used my phone to check the time and the wait time had jumped to 40 minutes. I don’t wait 40 minutes for anything but, this time, I had no choice. I do enjoy this attraction and they have a few new segments based on the most recent Star Wars film.

    Next up was a FastPass on my favorite DHS ride, the Tower of Terror. As we approached the FastPass entry, there were about eight young girls in front of us. They wore similar outfits so I’m guessing cheerleaders our something else similar. I listened and watched the girls ask why they needed to get FastPasses in advance. They wanted to receive them now, after arriving at the attraction. I would have had a difficult time explaining that to them in something they could understand. They did, however, leave… after the Cast Members explained things.

    After a great ride on the Tower (they’re always great rides), we head out and decide on a boat ride back to the Dolphin for lunch at the Fountain. I enjoy the Fountain a lot (yes, also for its ice cream). Its food is good and they offer a 20% DVC discount. The only downside is they still don’t support charges using your MagicBands. I should note how I used to enjoy Picabu (formerly Tubbi’s) but their current price policy leaves me recommending against it.

    We headed back to our room for a quick refresh. I received a text from Mark Fendrick that he was on the Boardwalk’s back deck so we headed there quickly. Within a few minutes, the RADP group had extended to include me and Barb, Laurie and Don, Sandi, Jenny and Kenneth (who doubled as our group photographer), Paul and June, Mark (our true photographer), Bob, and Rodney. (I hope I got all the names right. If I didn’t, accept my apology and correct me.)

    From 1:00-3:00, we chatted, joked and Mark took a bunch of photos – all present on Facebook if you really want to see us. I had a number of comments on being tall (have I mentioned I’m 6’ 2” and my son is 6’ 4”?) and I now have to go back and look at all my Trip Reports to find why I never indicated my height.

    I also had a number of lovely comments about how great I looked. After the last 7-8 months, those are really much appreciated and I thank you BUT… I assume those are people being nice because of what I’ve been through. I wonder if the folks that really knew me months ago now think I look terrible. I guess I’ll never know ;-)

    The RADP folks said goodbye at around 3:00 and most went on their merry way to parks and rides. Barb and I went back to the room where I desperately needed to lie down for a bit (yes, that’s code for a nap).

    At around 5:00 we were rested and slightly hungry so it was off to Todd English’s bluezoo restaurant at the Dolphin for drinks and appetizers. My drink of choice here is the Barrel-Aged Manhattan (a favorite). I can’t recall Barb’s choice here but she’s typically a glass of wine or a gin and tonic. Our dinner tonight was these drinks and a shared duo of appetizers (pizza and calamari).

    After dinner, we walked the rest of the way to Hollywood Studios where we caught the Frozen Sing-Along show (another favorite of mine) and then the Star Wars fireworks. We then joined the crowd for the walk back to our hotel.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think it was great seeing a fairly large number of RADPers get together.
    I think I have to tell people I’m 6’2”.
    I think I really like the Barrel-Aged Manhattans at the bluezoo.
    I think I still enjoy the Frozen Sing-Along show at the Studios but they’ve made some changes to it and I’m not a big fan. It is also a direct reflection of the cast members they’ve used in the show.

    Day 4– Saturday, January 20, 2018 – We Scream For Some Ice Cream

    We’re up early and off to Animal Kingdom at 8:30. That’s with a bus by the way…

    We spend the first part of our day touring the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. There were many gorillas active today which makes this tour that much fun. When we finished, we used our FastPass for a ride on Kilimanjaro Safari. This also scored well with a bunch of giraffes out feeding and a large number of elephants including a baby. Unfortunately, the lions were all sound asleep and partially hiding. We did have a pacing cheetah clearly visible.

    We left the Safari and hit Kusafiri for a late breakfast of coffee and muffins. It was much warmer today, high 70s, and much more crowded. I remember the days when January always offered small crowds and shorter lines. It seems that has gone away for good.

    Next up was Barb’s ride on Expedition Everest followed by our decision to exit the crowds and head back to the hotel. Naturally, we saw a Boardwalk bus leaving as we walked up so the arrival of the next one was a 20-minute wait.

    Barb decided to do some laundry. I swear she does this every trip and it means about 1/2 of the clothing I bring never gets used. I decided to write some notes on the laptop because…

    Okay… here goes. I’ve written a trip report on every visit since 2001 and that’s 31 Trip Reports! I didn’t write a complete one on our last trip, in November 2017, but did offer some daily comments on RADP. Those that normally read from MousePlanet saw nothing. I hadn’t decided on what I would do with this trip but Barb said I should try writing and give it up if it seemed too difficult. That sounded like a plan so I began a file of my notes. My trip reports are written using nothing more than those daily notes that most people couldn’t understand. They do, however, spark my memory (something I’m not certain exists right now) so… we’ll try. At this point, there are no guarantees.

    We headed out of the Boardwalk and on to the boardwalk (you catch that meaning, right?) to facetime with Stephen, Stephanie and our grandchildren. They’ve been anxious (very anxious in Stephen’s mind) for some time and will be arriving here tomorrow morning. Our grandson, Jack, seemed extremely excited about arriving tomorrow.

    We then headed into ESPN for a late lunch. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that two meals a day has become a regular schedule for us… but I expect some change when the younger and skinnier Russos get here tomorrow. Barb and I have also been sharing a lot when on these trips. We’ve found that many of the entrees contain more food than we can eat so we wind up paying for stuff we leave behind. In this case, this lunch/dinner was a couple of beers and two shared appetizers.

    We headed back to the Boardwalk front desk to check on tomorrow’s move and we learn we will simply enlarge to a 2-Bedroom unit by picking up the 1-BR next door to our Studio. Most, but not all, 2-BR DVC units contain a 1-Bedroom unit attached to a Studio as the second bedroom. For Barb and I, this means we won’t have to repack everything; just move our stuff over to the larger bedroom when it’s ready. Keep this in mind because it does get interesting tomorrow.

    We’re out at 5:30 and head to a very packed Epcot. We catch the end of the Broadway singers show at the American pavilion and find that the songs are mostly from Frozen – at least the last 15 minutes are.

    We walk around World Showcase, still noticing how crowded the entire area is. We stop at the back of the UK, where the band plays, and took up a seat next to a young man with two beers from the Rose and Crown. We chatted a bit and found he’s a Disney employee with a job maintaining locks. At any rate, it was fun to hear him blast a few customers that made getting a beer pretty difficult.

    We decided then to head back to the Boardwalk for a visit to the Ample Hill Creamery for two ice creams. Yeah, I know I just told you we spend a lot of time with only two meals a day. You can consider this our dinner dessert or, more realistically, a Russo Rule authorizing ice cream for a meal. At any rate, it was very good.

    We spent some time with a Magician on the boardwalk before heading back to our room. I did notice a bit of rain sprinkling down on our return.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think I liked January more when it was less crowded here.
    I think I need to get myself on Expedition Everest more but Barb says she doesn’t mind riding alone.
    I think that was a fun Facetime session with our kids and grandkids.
    I think I’m thrilled that the 1-Bedroom next to us went free for tomorrow.
    I think we’re both excited to see our two grandchildren tomorrow on their first Disney World trip. This gives all six at least one trip.

    Day 5– Sunday, January 21, 2018 – The Arrival of the Baldwinsville Russos

    Today’s the day my favorite son, favorite daughter-in-law and favorite granddaughter arrive (sorry, Jack). OK, he’s my only son (of three children) and she’s my only daughter-in-law and granddaughter (yes, we have five grandsons) but you know what I mean,

    I catch a 7:00 text from Stephen that they were through security and boarding. Their flight, on Jet Blue, actually left about 15 minutes earlier than planned.

    Barb and I spent the morning drinking way too much coffee, having breakfast and doing battle with the Front Desk. It seems that when they allow you to combine your Studio with an adjacent 1-Bedroom (forming a 2-Bedroom Villa), that doesn’t include a full cleaning of the Studio component. I express that I can’t ask my son, his wife and his two children to occupy a room that’s been lived in for four days – especially by litter like me. I’m told they will charge us $60 for a full cleaning. Here we go:

    Me: “If you moved us to a new 2-Bedroom Villa, it would be entirely cleaned at no charge… correct?”

    Cast Member: “Yes.”

    Me: “I didn’t ask to occupy the same room. That was your choice… correct?”

    Cast Member: “Yes.”

    Me: “Then how can you charge me $60 to clean a room that would be already cleaned had it been on a different floor?”

    Cast Member: “Let me talk to my manager.”

    She did and they agreed to “eat the charge” themselves. Huh? Someone, in this case the Boardwalk or DVC, has to pay $60 to clean a Studio? Just consider it moved out of, for God’s sake. I tried to treat this woman well because this was not her idea or plan and she tried but… sheesh! It’s one of the dumbest rules I’ve heard in a hotel… and I’ve heard some dumb ones.

    Stephen landed early but, of course, there were no available gates so they waited about 15 minutes to exit the aircraft. We tracked their movements at the airport and then on Magical Express and met them outside the Boardwalk when their bus pulled up.

    The Studio was in process of a full cleaning so we brought them to the 1-Bedroom for some freshening up and storing the carryon items. They bought a new stroller with seats for two so both Jack and Grace could use it. I’ll announce this one time that they were both in it probably 50-60% of the time. Jack walked about half the time and Grace maybe 10-20%.

    Stephen’s request for lunch was the Big River Grill so we headed off and selected a table outside. There was lots for the kids to see and some good food for us. I will state the burger is very, very good but I no longer consider it the best ever. I remember hearing something from Paul at the RADP meet that they’ve made a few changes to it. I’m not sure what they did, but it’s slightly lacking.

    We had a selection of Burgers, Salads, and some kid-stuff for the kids and then headed off to Epcot. It was a beautiful sunny day with temperature in the 70s and I could tell the new arrivals were loving it. They live in Baldwinsville, NY, just north-west of Syracuse, and this winter has been harsh – in terms of cold and lots of snow. When Barb and I moved, we donated my new (-ish) Snow Blower to Stephen and he’s certainly found the use for it.

    We canceled our Soarin’ FastPass (not sure if Jack would do it first thing) and instead took in a ride on the Seas With Nemo and Friends attraction. We also spend a fair amount of time viewing the fish and sea-life before seeing Turtle Talk With Crush. The kids enjoyed everything so far so we were off to a good start. Jack especially enjoyed viewing the fish.

    We took a walk to Spaceship Earth but it seemed crowded with a 30-minute wait so we decided to head back to the Boardwalk. The attached room was now clean so Grace and I took our respective rooms for a nap. We love the heck out of our Grandsons but there’s something special about the lone Granddaughter. She and I get along splendidly (she calls me Pop-Pop) and now we’re taking naps together… although in different rooms.

    Just after 4:00, I received a text from Garden Grocer that our order had been delivered. We had Bell Services bring it to the room. While it does have some beer, coffee and breakfast items (cereal, muffins, etc.) much of it is fruit and drink items for the kids.

    At 5:45, we were off to Hollywood Studios where we took in the Frozen Sing-Along show. Again, this was good but the cast wasn’t the strongest I’ve seen… or heard.

    There was very few food choices open at this point so we hit the Back Lot Express for some dinner. I’d tell you what we had but it didn’t really register as special so you’re on your own.

    Next up was a viewing of MuppetVision 3D. The pre-show had all of about 12 people in it and we were the first six. Both kids seemed to enjoy the pre-show and that gave us hope for the film. Neither of them really knows the Muppets and it could wind up as a dud. Not to worry, Grace enjoyed the show a lot and Jack… Jack loved it. He was laughing at all the right things and reaching out to grab all the 3D items. At one point, I thought he might be grabbing the hair of the woman in front of him but Stephen reined him back in time.

    We weren’t yet sure how the kids would enjoy fireworks and decided to hold off on that for a day or two. We did leave as the 8:15 fireworks were blaring pretty well. They both watched the lights above the buildings but Jack particularly wasn’t crazy about the loud sounds.

    Jack fell asleep on the way back. Once in the room, Stephen and Steph got the kids in bed and then he and I had a beer on the balcony and chatted about how good a day it was considering the late start. I think the grands are going to love this place as much as their Mom and Dad (and Grandparents).

    We retired to bed at 10 – which is about as late as my days will go.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think I’m excited to have part of our family here – especially after such a long wait on their part.
    I think the first day was a good one with the right attractions picked for the kids.
    I think I’m excited by how much Jack liked the Muppets.
    I think I’m excited that I got to hold Grace more today than most weeks.
    I think Disney needs to work out the process for cleaning rooms that are being joined to others.

    Day 6– Monday, January 22, 2018 – It’s a World of Laughter…

    We’re out at 8:30am and just miss a bus to Magic Kingdom. The Boardwalk can suck when you spot your bus pulling away as you’re walking down the hill toward it. Unfortunately, this would become very common for us.

    The Magic Kingdom park entrance seems very crowded until we’re actually inside the park. Once inside it seems the guests just separate and fill rides everywhere.

    Our first ride was using FastPasses on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. We didn’t think Jack would enjoy it and it was certainly too much for Grace so we did our first “Child Swap”. Doing this a number of years ago, it was just a quick boarding for two or three while another couple waited outside to watch a child or two. When the first group exited, those watching the child(ren) headed in for a quick wait and ride. Things are a bit different now and they accept two people in and hand out a FastPass coupon, for three, for use by the family watching the kids.

    We sent Stephen and Steph on first and, in just a few minutes, they were off. They took the kids over for a ride on the Carousel while Barb and I rode the Mine Train. Efficient, aren’t we?

    A note here of things we learned (and one we learned later): As the second group, assuming you have FastPasses, you can use those for boarding or you can use the FastPass coupons that are handed out – your choice. What we learned later, after tossing out 3 or 4 coupons, is that they don’t expire until January 31. Arrrggghhh! We should have saved them – especially those for the Avatar Flight of Passage.

    We meet up after the kids enjoyed the Carousel and decide on visiting Mickeys Philharmagic followed by a ride on “it’s a small world”. Both rides are a hit although I could live without Small World for a year or two - the kids loved it. Jack has another fun time with the 3D film as well.

    Next up was a FastPass for Jungle Cruise. It appeared that the kids enjoyed this but not as much as everything else. I know Jack enjoyed the boat ride (he seems to love boat rides) and they both enjoyed the various animals. I do find that, even for me, it’s often difficult to hear the driver clearly.

    Lunch was at an old favorite, the Harbour House, and we sat upstairs, as usual.
    After lunch, we took a trip on the Wedway before heading out. I never tire of the Wedway. After a short wait for a Boardwalk bus, we find we are the only ones on board.

    In the Boardwalk lobby, we run into Sue and Wayne Goergen who flew in today and were still waiting for their room to be ready. Wayne also had a pants issue on the trip but I promised myself not to say anything about it here – so if you want to know, email or text me.

    You must know the afternoon routine now. It’s naps for Grace and me (sometimes Barb) while Stephen and Jack (maybe with Stephanie and Barb) go swimming or head to the games at the DVC Community Hall.

    Eventually, we’re off to the Land and the Garden Grill. This was one of Stephen’s favorites when he was younger and it didn’t disappoint. It included harvest-inspired farmer’s salad, home-style pot roast and all-natural sliced turkey with gravy, and more. We also had visits, autographs and photos with Pluto, Chip and Dale, and the Big Cheese himself, Mickey. This will become a bit odd but, at least here, Grace was a bit fearful of ALL the characters while Jack enjoyed posing with everyone.

    As we exited, we decide to do a Child Swap on Soarin’, bringing Jack on. I will tell you that a 25-minute wait was tiring for him and he fell in line (while running). We probably should have bailed and tried again earlier in a different day but we continued on and… Jack hated the ride. He was fearful, cried and hated everything about it. Stephen and I viewed this as our fault and I think that’s correct.

    We came off, sent Barb and Steph on the ride, while Stephen got Grace and Jack in the stroller and walked them around for 15-minutes. That, and the purchase of one of those bubble devices, got Jack back on track.

    We decide on taking the boat back to the Boardwalk and find Sue and Wayne already on board. I swear I could run around Disney World and never see a person I knew, except for Sue and Wayne. We run into each other constantly.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think having monthly Chemo sessions and a lot of medication has caused my craving for daily naps, which puts me current with most 18-month olds.
    I think both Jack and Grace had enjoyed the attractions we thought they would. In several cases, they’ve enjoyed them more than we thought. I didn’t think there’d be that much fun in 3D films for children this young.
    I think we screwed up bringing Jack on Soarin’ so late in the day. Had we done it earlier, I think he would have enjoyed it. Now, we’ll wait for his next visit.
    I think I was impressed by the food at the Garden Grill, a place I haven’t visited in more than 10 years.

    Day 7– Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Banshees, Dinosaurs and Ice Cream

    Today we’re heading to Animal Kingdom but we naturally see Sue and Wayne at the bus stop. They were off to Magic Kingdom.

    Our first stop is the Kilimanjaro Safari and it is a good ride. Heck… a great one. I think we see every animal, and lots of them, except the warthogs. I had no idea where they were hiding. There had to be 6-8 elephants out including a baby, probably six or seven giraffes, three lions were there, hippos were out and one rhino was rolling in a mud bath, etc. I know I made the comment that this ride was the best I’ve seen – and I’ve probably ridden 50 times.

    We then headed to Pandora. It is absolutely insane how crowded this area is. We used our FastPasses (to avoid the 210-minute wait and I cannot imagine why people will wait for 3.5 hours for ANY ride) and used the Child Swap so we could all ride (the adults) with FastPass. We sent Stephen and Steph on first and they both loved it. Stephen agrees with me when he calls it the best ride ever – but I do have a few issues with the pre-show. Barb and I ride while they take the kids to the Dinosaur area – not to ride Dinosaur but to go into the Boneyard dig site for some fun. And, yes, they really enjoyed it.

    Next up, we take the kids while they ride Expedition Everest. This surprised me a bit, because I didn’t think Stephanie liked it but I was wrong – it’s one of her favorites. I’m going to have to send all three of them on while I play Dino hunter with the kids.

    We thought about a late lunch at the Rainforest Caf but I was informed it had a 45 minute. What? I’ve eaten breakfast and lunch here and never waited before. January certainly has changed.

    So it was a bus ride back to the Boardwalk where we had a late lunch (or early dinner) at ESPN. I did find a nice meal hear in the Bacon Caesar Salad – very good.

    Next up is naps, freshen up and back to the Animal Kingdom. Stephen and Steph ride the Banshee again then take the kids back to the Boneyard. Barb and I spent some time watching the films on the Tree of Life.

    It was time for our trip home and none of us felt like we needed a dinner but… we rode the bus back to the Dolphin and hit the Fountain for ice cream – always a good treat. From there, we walked back to the Boardwalk and I was in bed by 10:00.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think I may be ruining my grandchildren’s diets with ice cream. Heck, that just means they’ll love me more.
    I think the Banshee ride has become a favorite for Stephen and Stephanie.
    I think the Bacon Caesar Salad (and I think it has a different name) is one of the best items I’ve had at ESPN since they did away with the Dinger Sandwich.
    I think young children like dinosaurs.
    I think all children, and most adults, like ice cream.

    Day 8– Wednesday, January 24, 2018 – Buzz, Woody and Pinocchio

    We’re up and off to Hollywood Studios at 8:30. Our first FastPass is for Toy Story Mania but we notice a shorter line in the “meet” Buzz and Woody area, and Jack loves Buzz and Woody, so in we go. It’s about a 10-15 minutes wait but that would become much longer later. Jack has a good time in there and gets some great photos.

    Next is a ride on Toy Story Mania and the entry area is mostly in construction. Unfortunately, there’s very little for the kids (or adults) to see walking through. This trip is the first I’ve seen or heard of this and I’m not sure if it’s a simple refurb or something more.

    Next up is a Child Swap ride on Star Tours. We don’t think it would be great for Grace or Jack so we turn Stephen and Steph in there while we take the kids. Then Barb and I ride while they shop and hit Starbucks for some light breakfast. Unfortunately, the Starring Rolls is closed but it does offer outdoor seating.

    We watch a bit of the Star Wars saga then head off to Tower of Terror where only me, Barb and Stephen ride. Steph has never ridden here and seems like she never will. It’s funny because I consider this much tamer than Expedition Everest, which she likes. It may be the different atmosphere of the ride that stops her.

    We’re then off to the Boardwalk by boat. We’re meeting Sue and Wayne for lunch at Big River and we’re about 20 minutes early but we find Sue and Wayne are already there.

    It’s a table inside today (it’s a little cooler today) and the eight of us chow down on a mix of items, including my “no longer the best in the world” burger.

    After lunch, we take our normal afternoon break, although a bit shorter today. At about 4:30 we’re off for a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

    Our first stop is Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and it’s a good show that Jack enjoys. He seems to particularly like when a guest is displayed on screen. When the show ends, we take the short walk to Buzz Lightyear where everyone, including Grace, seems to enjoy it. I have to admit that a few of the photos are pretty funny. We seem so focused.

    No one was big on having dinner but we needed a little something. We stopped at Pinocchio Village Haus to have a few lighter items. I ordered something light for Barb and I to share (and I can’t remember exactly what it was but I’m sure it involved chicken) and two waters. That was at 6:50 and the place closes at 7:00. At 7:10, I’m the only person still waiting. Eventually, the Cast Member brings my “meal” and apologizes… and tosses in two desserts to help please me. To be honest, none of us needed the desserts (small chocolate cakes) and a half-price on what I ordered would have been better. We were also hoping for something quick so we could get on a few rides and that certainly wasn’t helped.

    Next up was a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean and I have to admit I was a bit concerned how the earlier parts might frighten the kids. There’s darkness, skeletons, etc. No problem. They each came through fine even though it didn’t appear to be their favorite.

    At this point, we were done at Magic Kingdom so we dropped the kids in the stroller and headed out. The Fireworks show (Happily Ever After) began and, while Grace is OK, Jack dislikes a lot of noise. Luckily Stephen and Steph had borrowed noise canceling headphones from our daughter, Michelle. Jack’s used them several times, including now, and they worked fine – almost great, really.

    There was a waiting bus to the Swan and Dolphin so we hopped in and took the walk from the Swan to the Boardwalk.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think Jack could spend a lot of time with Buzz and Woody.
    I think I feel a bit sorry for Grace. At 18-months old, there are a lot of things that are foreign to her, but… she really does approach each one with a smile and nothing seems to bother her. I think she’ll be great if she comes back at about Jack’s age.
    I think I’m really disappointed over the very good burger at Big River that is no longer the best in the world.
    I think the noise canceling headphones, used by Michelle’s kids a few years ago, are really helping Jack.
    I think two tiny Chocolate Cakes were a poor response for a 20-minute wait at Pinocchio’s.

    Day 9–Thurssday, January 25, 2018 – The Introduction of Russo #3

    We’re up early and packing up our luggage and groceries for a trip to Kidani Village. I’ve been excited for a while about the Grandchildren’s opportunity to watch the giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, etc. from their room. I hope it works and we don’t wind up with Laura Gilbreath’s experience, the Animal Free Savanna.

    Barb and I were veterans at this so we sent everyone off to Epcot. I had been hoping to try a Lyft or the Lyft Minnie (a Chevy Traverse decorated like Minnie Mouse) but our Bell Services luggage mover assures us we need something larger. He then calls down to reserve a large van and lets us know it will be waiting for us. Considering he did that AND moved five large suitcases, six small ones and our groceries, he was nicely tipped.

    The trip to Kidani takes about 10-15 minutes and costs $15, which I think is great. Yes, Disney will move your luggage at no charge but that move is late afternoon and there are things we need so…

    Our room at Kidani is not yet ready so we store our luggage and have a bit of breakfast, coffee and muffins, at Sanaa. If you want breakfast, I strongly recommend Sanaa. Most items are pick yourself but I have had a very good Egg and Bacon Sandwich there… and you can’t beat the view of the Savanna from the tables.

    Barb and I are off to Epcot by 11:00. Stephen and Stephanie have ridden Soarin’, using the Child Swap. Next up, we decided on another ride on The Seas With Nemo and Friends, which the kids enjoyed so much the other day.

    We next use a FastPass for the Character Photo. Jack had a great time with Mickey at the Garden Grill and loved his time with Buzz and Woody but, for some reason, was reluctant to get close here, even though the characters are Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. He looked away a lot and stayed by Mom’s leg rather than get with the characters. Go figure…

    Next we headed to the Imagination pavilion, not for the ride (which is really not very good), but for the three films used in the old “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” theater, now called Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. I’ve really enjoyed these and was hoping they would be appreciated by all the kids, adults and grandchildren. Success! Everyone enjoyed it and had great things to say. If you haven’t seen this, take my advice and try it.

    Next up was a FastPass ride on Spaceship Earth. I still enjoy riding this but have to admit that there’s too much dead time in the ride today. They should be able to come up with something entertaining for the trip back down to earth.

    It’s 1:30 and we’re heading back to Kidani, hoping our room would be available before arriving. Sometimes I get lucky and I received a text that room 7226, a dedicated 2-Bedroom was ready.

    We got our luggage, unpacked and hung out on the deck to watch some giraffes, wildebeest and a couple of zebra. I think all four of our kids were suitably impressed.

    At 4:40, we’re off again to the Magic Kingdom, followed by a boat ride to the Polynesian. It took forever as we, once again, watched a Magic Kingdom bus pull away as we walked to the bus stop. We arrived at ‘Ohana at 5:55, which was a little late for a 5:35 reservation. I apologized but was told it was no problem and we were seated quickly.

    I really like ‘Ohana and so does Stephen. The girls are mostly just OK with the tons of meat that is delivered. The highlight here was a gift from Stephen and Stephanie, in a Disney box. We told them it was unnecessary but as we opened it, we saw a set of Mickey Ears. Now I’m scratching my head but Barb sees the “Russo Number 3” on the back. We’re slow (OK, I’m slow) but things dawn on us and we realize we have a 7th grandchild coming – in September. Hugs, kisses, smiles and laughter ensue. Steph just learned this Tuesday. Barb and I have a tradition of Mickey Ears for each grandchild. Well, this is number three for the Russos.

    After a great dinner, and an announcement that still has us smiling, we take the Monorail to Magic Kingdom. After a pass through Security, we make it to an area just in front of the Train Station and watch the Fireworks. Jack has his noise cancellers on and everyone enjoys the show.

    We head out and catch the second bus for Animal Kingdom and are at Kidani in about 15 minutes.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think our kids are enjoying their first stay at Kidani. The rooms are so nice and, obviously, the animal view doesn’t hurt.
    I think ‘Ohana is still a favorite.
    I think we’re excited but still a bit stunned at the dinner announcement.

    Day 10–Friday, January 26, 2018 – Can you move so I can see better?

    We’re off early to Animal Kingdom and the four adults take another ride on Avatar Flight of Passage. It seems we can’t get enough of this attraction. We use the Child Swap and Stephen and Steph ride first. When Barb and I follow, they take the kids back to some dinosaur digging.

    After we meet up, we decide on Finding Nemo: The Musical. I always say this is a fine, enjoyable show but nowhere near the enjoyment of Legend of the Lion King.

    After Nemo, they stay for some more dinosaur stuff and Barb and I leave, heading back to Kidani. We tell them to text us when they’re on their way back and we can meet for lunch at The Mara.

    Stephen’s plan is to leave tomorrow so I spend a few minutes at the Front Desk making sure he’s all set. I haven’t mentioned any of this but the changes from Disney have been awful. Here are a few examples (there are more):

    • We moved from our home in September and I changed all addresses for the new one. We received six new Magic Bands (which I had declined) delivered to our old address – while we were here in Florida.
    • I changed Stephen’s flight information but they now have him leaving twice on the same airline but on two different dates.
    • We have Magical Express mail offering airport transportation at four different times and locations.

    We hear from Stephen and head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There is a regular vehicle making this transfer all day and every day. It’s changed with each visit and now it’s a large van that should seat 12 or so people.

    We hit The Mara for lunch then grab the shuttle back to Kidani for naps (me and Grace anyway, and I missed mine yesterday).

    We’re out at 6:00 and headed to Epcot. We first visit the Mexico ride (The Grand Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros). This was enjoyed by the kids but without the “Let’s ride it again!” popularity it received from our Grandson Christopher. He loves this ride.

    Next up was Nachos from LaCantina. Finding a table at this place is extremely difficult but we got lucky with a large group leaving after we had walked around for a few minutes.

    We then took a slow walk around World Showcase with the intention of finding a spot on the way out to watch Illuminations. Something happened on the way in and we took a nice open spot on the bridge between the UK and France. We stand here a lot when we’re at the Boardwalk, mainly because it’s such a short trip back. Here, we’ve got to take the furthest walk out to the front for a bus back to Kidani. Ah, well.

    One of the things I’ve always hated here is the people that show up at 8:57 and push their way into a spot at the front to watch. I lost my ability to lean left today as a woman pushed in. I once was asked by a woman, at 8:55, if I could move so her mother, seated in a scooter, could see. I replied that there were people anywhere I could move and her response was, “I thought you knew them.” I accommodated as best I could but… jeez.

    By the way, Jack has been fast asleep in the stroller since 8:20 and he sleeps through Illuminations while wearing the noise canceling headphones.

    We head out after Illuminations, making that long walk to the front. We do catch a fairly quick bus and I help out carrying Grace aboard. She falls asleep with her head on my shoulder for the trip back. We reach Kidani at 10:15.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think Avatar’s Right of Passage is a favorite… or have I already said that?
    I think Disney’s computer systems are, at best, mediocre. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve provided updates on our home move and stuff still gets mailed to our old address.
    I think, as I get older, I get more annoyed with people that show little regard for others – as long as they get what they want,
    I think it was a bit of a chore to hold Grace the entire trip but it felt great having her asleep on my shoulder.

    Day 11–Saturday, January 27, 2018 – The short goodbye.

    We had planned to meet Sandi for lunch and a Safari ride at Animal Kingdom tomorrow but the forecast now calls for heavy rain. I texted her and we agreed the trip up here would not be a good idea. We’ve already seen her on two days and we’ll probably try again when we’re back in April.

    We’re up early and repacking for our moves. Barb and I are headed back to the Boardwalk Studio while Stephen and Stephanie would be moving to her friend, Amanda’s, for a few days. I also got an early text that our Boardwalk room, 1081 on the first floor, was available.

    Barb and I take our luggage and, because I’ve wanted to try it, take a Lyft Minnie to the Boardwalk. It took almost 10 minutes for one to get here. We found the rate back to the Boardwalk was $20. Hmmm. We rode down here on a much larger vehicle, with more luggage, for $15 ($14.80 to be precise). I was not impressed. Each Minnie must have two children’s seats and they take up a lot of room. Ours were in the rear seat so our driver removed one for Barb and I rode up front. I later learned it costs a flat $20 for a Minnie anywhere on property. I guess I’ll be using taxis and Lyfts more frequently.

    Stephen stored his luggage locally, at Kidani, and he and his family headed for Magic Kingdom. They did a few rides with the kids and we met them for lunch at Harbour House.

    At the Harbour House, as I was about to climb the stairs with a fully loaded tray, a family of four walked in front of me directly to an order taker. They walked in single file, about a yard apart, so I had to wait while holding that fairly large tray. I thought that was rude but even ruder was that they walked in without joining the line of customers waiting to order. I really wished a Cast Member had noticed that.

    After lunch we all used a FastPass for Buzz Lightyear, then Stephen and Steph went on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train while we watched the kids, The beauty of this ride is that a FastPass gets you boarded very quickly and the ride itself is short. You’re off in less than 10-minutes.

    We all wanted to see Mickey’s Philharmagic again, so we did. Then it was a walk to the Train Station for a complete trip around the Magic Kingdom. While traveling, we watched a dad try to board through an exit, bypassing the 20 or so people in line, and then get real nasty with a Cast Member who stopped him. He used his phone to take her picture and I’m certain he filed a complaint. I just hope someone got the correct information.

    We exited at the entry area and Stephen and Steph decided to shop a bit before heading back. We met up back at our Boardwalk room and Grace and I took in our nap together, this time in the same room (although she’s in one of those Pack‘n’Plays). Barb and Stephen (and Steph after Grace falls asleep) take Jack to some games at the DVC Community Hall. Stephen also used this time to pick up a rental car at the Dolphin and retrieve his bags from Kidani. He received an upgrade to a very nice Hyundai Santa Fe with a third seat.

    Dinner tonight was a pizza on the boardwalk and then a boat to Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic! I had secured some FastPasses for us as it looked like this would become a crowded Saturday night.

    We walked over to the Studios and, like 20% of the time, I was sent through the Security scan. Only this time, for the first time, I triggered something. I was asked to pull stuff out of my pockets (some cash and my folder with a credit card, driver’s license, DVC card and Tables in Wonderland card). I held my arms out straight, removed my belt and watch… I’ve not had this much of a cavity search at airports but I eventually got through. The person doing all the checking suggested my passes might have caused it. Huh?

    Fantasmic! is a hit with everyone and we sit for 10-minutes at the end, allowing the majority of the crowd to leave. Then it’s a walk back to the Boardwalk.

    Stephen and Steph pack the car with luggage and children and we give them some big hugs as they head off to Amanda’s for a few days.

    We hate to see them go but we do sense some relaxation coming. That triggers a couple of drinks at the Belle Vue Room before turning in.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think this is the first time I’ve had this much trouble in a Security check and I’m really not sure why.
    I think their enjoyment of almost anything (Fantasmic! tonight) is great for these very young children… and their parents and grandparents.
    I think we’re going to miss these guys but they’ll be back in a few days for some more fun.

    Day 12–Sunday, January 28, 2018 – Food, Rain and Quartina
    We’re on our own today and it looks like the predicted heavy rain my hold off until later in the day and tomorrow.

    When it’s just Barb and me, we tend to take things a bit slower so naturally, we’re off early and into Animal Kingdom at park opening. First ride? Another Avatar Flight of Passage. I love this ride but I’m starting to become annoyed with the pre-show. Seriously, do we really need to move our arms around several times?

    We next head up to Kilimanjaro Safari for yet another great trip. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden this much without catching a stinker or two. These have all been wonderful.

    We spent another tour watching gorillas and then hit Pizzafari for an early lunch. I think I’ve mentioned this before but the new Caesar Salad with chicken is, at best, mediocre. Moreover, I really enjoyed the past version. Disney needs to start consulting me before changing menus.

    The meal at Pizzafari didn’t seem to satisfy us so… we made the decision to head to the Dolphin’s Fountain for ice cream. You can kill menu changes to restaurants everywhere but ice cream is ice cream. The temperature has warmed up outside and I had removed by golf “jacket” (it’s really a sort of a vinyl sweater) and left it on the back of my chair. By “left it” I mean I didn’t take it with me when we leave. Just outside the door, Barb asked about it and we head back in to retrieve it. I’ve only been out the door for 3 minutes and it takes almost 10 minutes for them to find it and return it.

    We took our usual afternoon break. Remember me mentioning that we invited Stephen and family back to our room for their last night? It’s become obvious to us that, while the room will allow six people to sleep, there’s no way to do it comfortably. Plus it’s only one bathroom. While Stephen will get angry, we decide to leave the room to them for one night and Barb and I will sleep elsewhere. I can tell you that there are very few rooms available on Disney property and we decide on one at the Caribbean Beach Resort – mainly because we loved staying there in the 1990s (our first on-site resort) and it’s close to the Boardwalk.

    With the room booked, we then headed out at 5:00 for our 6:00 dining reservation at Tratorria al Forno. The expected rain has been delivered this afternoon and it is pouring out. If you know what you’re doing, you can get to the AbracadBar without getting very wet. We knew most of the path (the link between AbracadaBar and Flying Fish came later) so we were in the bar with only a slight touch of rain.

    We’ve been to AbacadaBar 3 or 4 times and have never found an open seat – either at the bar or a table. Maybe it was the rain but we had success today and took up two bar stools.

    We enjoyed a cocktail there. It’s a very nice place that’s a bit expensive but Tables in Wonderland seems to handle it nicely. Barb notices a small ladder behind the bar and we realize the bartenders (not tall like us RADPers) would need them to retrieve certain brands from an above shelf.

    At some point, a younger guy walks into the bar and takes his time ordering a fairly involved cocktail. Once it’s delivered and paid for, he takes it outside. During the process, the female bartender hides herself by getting extremely low in the corner of the bar, behind a few items. We heard a few comments but never had a real description of what the reasons were.

    After one drink, at 6:00 we walk (indoors, thank you) to Tratorria. We’re seated quickly and start with sharing the Insalata salad appetizer. Then it’s the Chicken Parmigiana for me and Lasagna for Barb. We also each had a red wine (Barbera, not Barbara) in the Quartina sizing (which, in my opinion, every restaurant in the world should offer).

    After dinner, we walked back through the AbracadaBar and the Flying Fish where we avoided all the still heavy rain and made our way to the Boardwalk and our room.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think, at least for today, our distance from the kids has caused us to ride fewer rides but eat more food. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
    I think I haven’t mentioned this yet but there are many, many foreigners here and most of them cannot walk on the right side of any walkway… and they make every effort to stop in the center everywhere.
    I think I was happy with my first seat at the AbracadaBar – but I’d like to know what was up with the bartender hiding from a customer.
    I think I truly enjoy Trattoria. It’s not a great Italian restaurant but the food is good and the prices somewhat reasonable – and they offer the Quartina of wine.
    I think we miss the kids… all of them.

    Day 13–Monday, January 29, 2018 – Presidents, Muppets and Hot Dogs

    We wake up to more heavy rain. While having a coffee and watching the news, I learn that the Game of Thrones final season will start in April 2019. What? No shows at all in 2018? That’s my favorite show so they’re forcing me to handle this Glioblastoma beyond the rules. I’m in.

    We’re off to Magic Kingdom at 9:40 as the rain has slowed to an occasional spit. Stephen texts to let us know they had a good night but miss us. Well, we sure miss them. The kids are asking about Pop-Pop and Grammy and, more importantly, Disney.

    We use a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain and – has it gotten faster? It could be due to the rain but it was flying around.

    We then visited the Hall of Presidents. I visit here with the addition of every new President. First, I’ll say the show was very good – especially the opening film. I just don’t visit often enough but was that new? I will try, desperately, to avoid any political comments here. This is not the place for them. However, I often thought the Barack Obama image was pretty poor but the one for Trump is terrible. At any rate, I was impressed by the show from beginning to end.

    As we exited, we realized there was only a few minutes before a Muppets Great Moments in History show so we hung in at the front row and thoroughly enjoyed more Muppets. I can never have too many Muppets.

    Next was a FastPass for the Haunted Mansion. I don’t know if this is my problem (and I can probably guess what caused it if it is) or Disney has changed some things, but there seems to be more darkness in the pre-shows. I had such a problem I was fearful of stepping on someone in front of me.

    I never realized this but there’s an office just behind the Hall of Presidents. We visited to quickly renew our Annual Passes that are due to expire on Feb 2. With our DVC discount, this is only a slight bit more than a 6-day pass I’d need for our April trip so…

    Last thing… I need a haircut and set up an appointment here today. I visit the barbershop just off Main Street and catch a woman who seems to understand my issues. She gives me a good trim and instructions to brush “down on the sides, not back”. That does seem to help remove the path upward my hair has been taking since refurbishment.

    We grab a quick bus back to the Boardwalk and opt for lunch at ESPN. Again, we share two appetizers and find it’s more than enough.

    I haven’t mentioned this yet but we know my cousin, Frank, and his wife, Patty, are arriving tomorrow. We see them more at Disney than we do at home. Anyway, I text him to say we have a bit of time available on 1/31 after Stephen and his family leave.

    I’m not sure I have to say this but… it’s time for a quick nap.

    We’re off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios around 5:00. The first step was to watch one of the best Frozen – Singalong shows ever. The actors doing the Arendale Historians were great… maybe the funniest we’ve seen. It amazes me how my view of a show I like can be so much better with the right cast.

    We rode Star Tours with a 20-minute wait that, once again, had everyone stopping at the top. For the first time, we saw BB8 as the middle informer but the other scenes were the same.

    We were back to some light rain so we decided on the boat back, followed by hot dogs and fries from On the Boardwalk. Don’t speak badly of us – we do like the occasional hot dog. Because of the rain, we carried our food back to the room.

    I received a text from Frank and he’s suggesting dinner on the 31st, which sounds fine.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think Big Thunder was much faster than I’ve previously experienced. I’ve ridden on hot days (mid-80s) but this seemed faster. Maybe the rain caused it?
    I think we miss the kids and grandkids but you knew that.
    I think I really enjoy the Frozen show when they have great cast members.

    Day 14–Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – The Russos Return

    We’re up a little later at 7:15. We took our time with coffee and the TV news as well as packing a bag for our one night out-of-town tonight. Okay, out of town is a bit much to describe the Caribbean Beach Resort but you know what I mean. Stephen, and family, were headed “home” today and they arrived at about 10:45.

    Stephen and I headed to the Caribbean. I had checked in online and our room wasn’t ready yet but I needed to drop off some luggage There is so much construction there (a new 5-story DVC building is well underway and there’s a lot of activity for the new Skyliners as well) it’s barely recognizable. I dropped off our one bag with Guest Services and we drove off to the Dolphin for Stephen to return the rental car. I’ve rented here before and Alamo does a great job of letting you pull up to the front where one of the Dolphin employees will take the information, check the vehicle and give you a receipt – in about three minutes. We were soon walking back to the Boardwalk.

    Naps for me and Grace – I know, this is getting boring for you, isn’t it? At around 2:00 I received a text that our room at the Caribbean Beach was ready. We had room 4314 in Jamaica. The room was ready but we certainly weren’t.

    We have a 4:00 Hoop-Dee-Doo reservation so, having skipped lunch, we’re off at 2:00. We have just missed a Magic Kingdom bus (what a surprise) so there’s about a 15-minute wait for the next one. Once at the Magic Kingdom, we walk over to the boat docks just as our boat to Fort Wilderness is leaving. Deep sigh. It takes about 10-minutes for a new one to show up and we’re there by 3:10. This is why we leave so early.

    While waiting for the show to open the kids spent time in the play area and we also posed for a dozen photos.

    The Hoop-Dee-Doo is a great show made better, much like the Frozen Singalong show, by the quality of the entertainers. I think the actors playing Six-Bits, Claire and Dolly really make this show great and, tonight, they were all outstanding.

    The food was good (and plentiful) and everyone, including Jack and Grace, really enjoyed the show. Did I mention the Stephanies (both my daughter Stephanie as well as Stephen’s wife) were each chosen to be on stage and represent “her beauty”? I was once chosen for the show as well but my talent was to “Toot” when asked – something I’m quite good at. Unfortunately, tonight none of us were chosen – but we still had fun.

    When the show ended, Stephen and Steph took the kids over to the swings and playground for a bit. I find that now, since the sun has gone down, it’s very, very cold. I’ve also noticed that since my surgery and medications, I seem to become chilled much easier than before. Barb and I head to the nearby shop to look around and stay warm.

    Eventually, we’re all outside waiting for the next boat (we had just missed one and the next took over 15-minutes) and freezing. I think this killed our plans to catch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom so we each went to the bus stops instead. We said “goodbye” as they headed for bus stop Number 4 for the Boardwalk while we walked back to stop 6,145 for the Caribbean.

    Barb and I exit the bus in Jamaica and it takes us a few freezing minutes to find room 4314. This might have been a bit easier during the daytime or if we could remember anything about the Caribbean from our previous stays. As soon as we got in the room, we turned the heat up to something absurd and contacted Bell Services to bring our luggage.

    We checked with Stephen and they were safe at the Boardwalk and putting the kids to bed.

    I will say that we were impressed with the newer version of the Caribbean room. It had two Queen beds and a lot of nice touches installed – things that weren’t there on our earlier stays.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think it was great having the kids (all four of them… OK, maybe 4.15 of them) back with us today.
    I think I could take in and enjoy the Hoop-Dee-Doo at every visit.
    I think that I should have brought a larger jacket with me tonight.
    I think this might have been the coldest night I’ve experienced at Walt Disney World since a three sweatshirt evening at Downtown Disney in the 1990s.

    Day 15–Wednesday, January 31, 2018 – From Pandora to Baldwinsville

    We weren’t sure what the best way to get from the Caribbean to the Boardwalk would be. A phone call to the front desk strongly suggested a taxi. We walked over the bridge to what used to be a central location and found where a guest room was doubling as a front desk (the construction here is insane). They ordered us a taxi. We made the trip to the Boardwalk for $7, as opposed to the $20 that would have been charged by Disney’s Minnie. Be aware…

    We met up with the kids for breakfast. Some was purchased at the Boardwalk Bakery and brought up to the Belle Vue Room, while other items were purchased at the Belle Vue where we dined. This was a complicated process but I’m sure it would just bore you if I write it. We had breakfast – the end.

    In a few minutes, we were off on a bus to Animal Kingdom. First up is a ride for Stephen and Stephanie on Expedition Everest. We take the kids to view the area where the riders exit and re-enter the mountain but the ride moves so fast, you can almost never notice someone you know.

    We all go through the Asia and Africa Trails – also referred to as Gorillas and Tigers. Both are really good but the last time here, last November, Barb and I were amazed at the movement of a few tigers. This time, most were just laying around sleeping.

    Stephen and Stephanie grab one last ride on Avatar Flight of Passage. Once they’re off, Barb and I decide to head back to the Boardwalk while Stephen and Steph take the kids for some more dinosaur fun.

    They text when they’re on their way back to the Boardwalk and we meet for a late lunch, after 2:00, at ESPN. Barb and I will be meeting with Frank and Patty tonight and we see them come in, likely also a late lunch. We spend a few minutes chatting and then turn them loose (we’re meeting later for a drink) while we head back to the room

    Yes, it’s another Grace and me nap while the rest head to the DVC Community Hall.

    We’ve now brought all three of our children here as adults, with their spouses and our grandchildren. The hardest part is saying goodbye and this was no exception. They left on a Magical Express bus at 5:00 and it was difficult enough without me dwelling on it here. We’ll see them again soon (and I know Jack has already asked when they’re going to Disney again) and we all think it was a great time.

    We headed to the Belle Vue Room and enjoyed a couple of hours outdoors with Frank and Patty. They’re just beginning a 10-day vacation staying at Saratoga Springs – and I envy them.

    We tracked the Baldwinsville Russos on their travel until they were home. Stephen did indicate a one-hour timeframe to get through Security at Orlando International. Sue and Wayne also expressed a long time issue after their travel home last week. I was hoping we wouldn’t see that tomorrow.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think it’s tough saying goodbye to family… especially here.

    Day 16–Thursday, February 1, 2018 – Homeward Bound

    It’s now our last day and we’re up at 7:30. We again scored TSA Pre and boarding numbers of numbers 18-19 (most 1-15 don’t even show) and I’ve never been below 20 before. We’re flying home at 9:30 tonight. Why? That was one of only two Southwest direct flights to Albany. The other was at 7:50am and that means a bus at 4:50am, carry our own luggage, etc. So, we’re leaving at 9:30pm except… I get a notice from Southwest that tonight’s flight is running late and will leave at 10:00. How the hell do they know it will be 30 minutes late 13 hours in advance?

    We checked our luggage then dropped off our two carryon bags with Bell Services and… we were off. Today was looking to be one of the warmer ones we’ve seen with a temperature approaching 80. From our standpoint, we fly later tonight and I’d rather not do it with a lot of sweat from walking around today.

    We do walk (slowly) over to Epcot and watch one of our favorites, the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. Next, we head to Mission: Space for a ride on the Green side. I haven’t ridden the full ride in some time and there’s a new version in the Green side. I always like something new but I’m not sure if I like this pass over Earth versus a flight to Mars.

    We decide to spend a few minutes in the DVC lounge, which is above the Imagination ride. It’s a very nice area with free drinks (non-alcoholic of course), some snacks and a really nice view of Epcot. Now, I’m about to insult a fairly large number of my fellow DVC owners. A while back, we had a DVC session every Wednesday afternoon in the Atlantic Dance Hall. DVC members showed an ID and were admitted and often given a free prize like a DVC hat or pin. Inside there were offers of free soft drinks and snacks… until many of the members decided to take 5-10 bags of chips (or something else) instead of allowing them to serve everyone. It used to drive me nuts and it led to the snacks being handed out by Cast Members,

    Now, here we are in this new area and you can give yourself free coffee or soda. Occasionally, an employee will wheel around a small cart with some snacks. They bring it to every table and seating area but… some DVCers can’t seem to wait for a snack delivery, they must have theirs now and they get up and walk to the cart asking for snacks… where the Cast Member instructs them to take their seats and “I’ll be right over.”

    I almost never drink soda but I had two glasses of Diet Coke here. It was actually pretty good but I doubt I’ll start drinking it regularly.

    We left the DVC, took a FastPass ride on Soarin’ and then headed back to the Boardwalk. We still had a couple of hours to kill so we shopped a bit and then hung out in the lobby.

    Have you ever noticed the three murals above the Check In counters at the Boardwalk? If not, here’s a link to an article I wrote that features them (https://www.mouseplanet.com/10249/Th...oo_Guided_Tour)

    There are now additional murals, similar but not the same, over the doors leading to the rear deck. Have they always been there? If not, how new are they?

    At about 3:30 we head to the Ample Hill Creamery for ice cream (c’mon, that shouldn’t surprise you) then back to the lobby where we retrieve our carry-ons and I spend a few minutes getting my notes and costs up to speed on the laptop.

    We eventually catch an early bus to the airport. After the problems experienced by Stephen and Wayne/Sue, I didn’t want a risk.

    Our driver was Ruben and he was one of the most comical drivers I’ve seen, but he was way too long as he talked to the riders before actually driving away.

    Where through Airport Security in about 4-minutes – fastest time ever. Take another big sigh here.

    What we notice immediately, and for the next few hours, are TONS of cheerleaders coming in. This may have been a great time to head home.

    Our 9:30 flight, relocated to 10:00, is off at 9:40 (10 minutes late) but we land in Albany at 12:00, which is about 15-minutes early. We sat, for the first time, in the first row (they won’t give us the Emergency Exit row due to Barb’s cane) and we’re the first off the plane. That didn’t help a bit, as it was 12:30 before the luggage arrived.

    I retrieved Barb’s bag early, rolled it to her, and then kept looking for mine. Apparently, that was the time that another couple retrieved my bag for me. I saw a fellow in front of me retrieve a bag that looked like mine but was a darker color. He looked it over and turned to his wife with “That’s not our bag.” Either he, or his wife, must have taken mine.

    Well, we drove here in the snow so we may as well return in it. We’re on the road around 12:45 and the snow is very heavy. The main roads are OK but side roads are an issue. So is vision - a real issue.

    We get home around 1:20. I bring our bags inside but they’ll wait for unpacking tomorrow. I’m tired. By the way, waiting for us was a box with six Magic Bands in it. It was something I never ordered and it was forwarded from our original address. I offer one last sigh.

    Thinks I Think I Think
    I think 2 weeks (actually 15 days) is a great time to spend at Disney World. Last year we dedicated 3 weeks and, by the end of the trip, we were anxious to return home. This time, we were ready but a few more days might have been nice.

    Day 17–Friday, February 2, 2018 – Huh?

    I offer you this ending only because it will convince you of my stupidity.

    We took Barb’s car, a Honda CR-V, to the airport originally. Daughter Michelle, and her husband Will, were nice enough to return it to our home for us. In two weeks, they would return it but… the battery seemed poor and Michelle was smart enough (it did need a new battery) to bring my car (a Subaru SUV) to the airport for us.

    After unpacking today, we notice that items are missing from our home. Silly thinks like toothbrushes, toothpaste, a razor, etc. Huh? Did we get someone in here while we were gone?

    We begin to head out for some needed grocery shopping and I realize my jacket is not hanging where it normally is. What the…? At this point, Barb (who’s obviously smarter than I am) says… “This is all the stuff we brought to the airport with us (from the hotel) and stored in my car. We took your car back to the apartment so all this stuff is still in mine.” D’oh!

    Final Thoughts

    I love going to Walt Disney World and it’s really great to bring our children and grandchildren with us. Over the last three years, it’s been:

    2016 Daughter Stephanie and her husband Paul. Grandchildren PJ and Sean.
    2017 Daughter Michelle and her husband Will. Grandchildren William and Christopher.
    2018 Son Stephen and his wife Stephanie. Grandchildren Jack and Grace.

    It seems we have a pattern.

    Last edited by srusso100; 02-09-2018 at 12:36 PM.
    Steve

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  3. #2

    Nice report. Very sorry to hear of your health issues, but glad to see you are recovering well enough to still have enjoyable trips to WDW!

    Next is a ride on Toy Story Mania and the entry area is mostly in construction. Unfortunately, theres very little for the kids (or adults) to see walking through. This trip is the first Ive seen or heard of this and Im not sure if its a simple refurb or something more.
    They are moving the entrance to TSMM to the back of the building as part of the Toy Story Land expansion. I'd guess they are starting to move the display elements over to the new queue area. Hopefully the move results in the eventual return of Mr. Potato Head! (I mentioned this thought to a CM, and while they of course would not confirm anything, they agreed that hopefully his seemingly long absence was due to earlier preps for the relocation of the entrance) Eventually the entrance we know on Pixar Place will cease to exist, rumor is Pixar Place may become an entirely backstage area once TSL opens and the TSM entrance is moved to the other side.

    I think I am with you on Avatar Flight of Passage. I only got to ride it once so far though (standby - didn't plan my last October trip far enough in advance for FP+). I did have the unfortunate statistical improbability of having it be down at the start of the day for at least several hours on 2 successive mornings in a row when I tried standby to ride it again. I was in "casual touring" mode, so I waited probably about 2 1/2 hours while hoping they would figure out the problem before ultimately bailing to do something else. The first day I believe it might have been down until around 1PM or later. I am not sure when it came back up on the second day.

    I actually thought of you and the "Russo's Ice Cream Rule" on a recent trip to Disneyland. I had been noshing at the food booths they had up for the holidays (similar to the ones they do at EPC) at DCA, and there were still some desert type things I wanted to try rather than regular food. Wasn't technically Ice Cream, but I figured it was close enough to count as exercising that guideline!
    -Dave

  4. #3
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1313 View Post
    Nice report. Very sorry to hear of your health issues, but glad to see you are recovering well enough to still have enjoyable trips to WDW!



    They are moving the entrance to TSMM to the back of the building as part of the Toy Story Land expansion. I'd guess they are starting to move the display elements over to the new queue area. Hopefully the move results in the eventual return of Mr. Potato Head! (I mentioned this thought to a CM, and while they of course would not confirm anything, they agreed that hopefully his seemingly long absence was due to earlier preps for the relocation of the entrance) Eventually the entrance we know on Pixar Place will cease to exist, rumor is Pixar Place may become an entirely backstage area once TSL opens and the TSM entrance is moved to the other side.

    I think I am with you on Avatar Flight of Passage. I only got to ride it once so far though (standby - didn't plan my last October trip far enough in advance for FP+). I did have the unfortunate statistical improbability of having it be down at the start of the day for at least several hours on 2 successive mornings in a row when I tried standby to ride it again. I was in "casual touring" mode, so I waited probably about 2 1/2 hours while hoping they would figure out the problem before ultimately bailing to do something else. The first day I believe it might have been down until around 1PM or later. I am not sure when it came back up on the second day.

    I actually thought of you and the "Russo's Ice Cream Rule" on a recent trip to Disneyland. I had been noshing at the food booths they had up for the holidays (similar to the ones they do at EPC) at DCA, and there were still some desert type things I wanted to try rather than regular food. Wasn't technically Ice Cream, but I figured it was close enough to count as exercising that guideline!
    Thanks, Dave... and thanks for the info on TSMM. Its appreciated.
    Steve

  5. #4

    Thank you for sharing with us about you and Barb's health issues. i am praying for a full recovery for the both of you. Thank you for writing a trip report, I've read them since pre-forum days. I enjoy hearing about your family and how the dynamics have changed since the first one I read. Crazy how fast time flies!

    Congratulations on the next grand baby! My parents have 5 grandkids, 4 boys and 1 girl (my daughter). They had 3 daughters so the grandsons were a welcome addition but my daughter is the apple of my dad's eye. He calls her his favorite granddaughter every time he sees her. She's 20 now, but they still share a sweet bond.

    Michelle
    offsite '86, ASMo '01, POR '02, CBR '05, POR '08, POR '10, BCV '10, Pop '11, BC '14, DL offsite '15, POR '16, FQ '17

  6. #5
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shula View Post
    Thank you for sharing with us about you and Barb's health issues. i am praying for a full recovery for the both of you. Thank you for writing a trip report, I've read them since pre-forum days. I enjoy hearing about your family and how the dynamics have changed since the first one I read. Crazy how fast time flies!

    Congratulations on the next grand baby! My parents have 5 grandkids, 4 boys and 1 girl (my daughter). They had 3 daughters so the grandsons were a welcome addition but my daughter is the apple of my dad's eye. He calls her his favorite granddaughter every time he sees her. She's 20 now, but they still share a sweet bond.
    Thanks, Michelle.
    Steve

  7. #6

    Thanks for the entertaining report, Steve! Shortly before our recent trip I was checking here for a new Steve Russo trip report to build excitement for our trip, but found none, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this one here today. Turns out we were there at the same time - we stayed in the Boardwalk Villas and overlapped with you for a few days, so we probably crossed paths at one point in time. Based on your trip report, your family and most of mine shared the UK-France bridge for an Illuminations viewing (my daughter wasn't feeling well, so she and I headed back to the room before the show). Great to hear that you have another wonderful WDW vacation in the books. I always enjoy your trip reports. Sorry to hear about your recent health challenges and I wish you the best of luck in kicking cancer's a**!


  8. #7
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geistmeister View Post
    Thanks for the entertaining report, Steve! Shortly before our recent trip I was checking here for a new Steve Russo trip report to build excitement for our trip, but found none, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this one here today. Turns out we were there at the same time - we stayed in the Boardwalk Villas and overlapped with you for a few days, so we probably crossed paths at one point in time. Based on your trip report, your family and most of mine shared the UK-France bridge for an Illuminations viewing (my daughter wasn't feeling well, so she and I headed back to the room before the show). Great to hear that you have another wonderful WDW vacation in the books. I always enjoy your trip reports. Sorry to hear about your recent health challenges and I wish you the best of luck in kicking cancer's a**!
    Thanks very much.
    Steve

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    Registered User Silvercat's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting this Steve, I hadn't realised you had been back in November 2017 but hadn't written a report. To be honest, after doing them myself for many years I am now quite fed-up with doing them, but then 2 things keep me going - one, I LOVE reading other traveller's reports so hopefully someone else will enjoy mine, and two, they are a really lovely documentation of what we do on each trip, and so lovely to look back on. So I am really grateful to you for continuing to write and post these, they are most enjoyable!

    I am so sorry you have had the health problems that you have, after being a firm fan of your trip reports for quite some years now I was saddened to hear of your issues. I do hope you get well soon, and also that Barb does too. Sending you hugs and very best wishes from the UK.

    Congratulations on the new (future) grandchild! We have a beautiful granddaughter, Abbygail Amelia, who arrived almost 2 years ago, and they are a delight that you can't foresee, aren't they. I never dreamt I would be happy to be a grandmother, but that was before I laid eyes on her - she was 7 weeks early, very tiny, in an incubator, and she opened her eyes and stared into my soul. Oof. That was me gone! She is now running around, yelling "Nanny!" at me every time she sees me, and has yet to visit a Disney park - we need to remedy that, and soon!

    One more thing - thank you for allowing us to 'borrow' the "Russo Rule". At least once per Disney visit now we replace a meal with ice-cream, it has become a tradition and one that we are extremely happy to keep up!

    Take care, and please keep in touch on MP.

    Silvercat

    (Enjoy reading trip reports? Why not try my books, "Tiggerific Travels Parts 1, 2 & 3" - available now as e-books)

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    Thank you Steve!! Been too long since we've seen a trip report from you. Thanks for several lunch hours worth of entertainment!


  11. #10
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silvercat View Post
    Thank you for posting this Steve, I hadn't realised you had been back in November 2017 but hadn't written a report. To be honest, after doing them myself for many years I am now quite fed-up with doing them, but then 2 things keep me going - one, I LOVE reading other traveller's reports so hopefully someone else will enjoy mine, and two, they are a really lovely documentation of what we do on each trip, and so lovely to look back on. So I am really grateful to you for continuing to write and post these, they are most enjoyable!

    I am so sorry you have had the health problems that you have, after being a firm fan of your trip reports for quite some years now I was saddened to hear of your issues. I do hope you get well soon, and also that Barb does too. Sending you hugs and very best wishes from the UK.

    Congratulations on the new (future) grandchild! We have a beautiful granddaughter, Abbygail Amelia, who arrived almost 2 years ago, and they are a delight that you can't foresee, aren't they. I never dreamt I would be happy to be a grandmother, but that was before I laid eyes on her - she was 7 weeks early, very tiny, in an incubator, and she opened her eyes and stared into my soul. Oof. That was me gone! She is now running around, yelling "Nanny!" at me every time she sees me, and has yet to visit a Disney park - we need to remedy that, and soon!

    One more thing - thank you for allowing us to 'borrow' the "Russo Rule". At least once per Disney visit now we replace a meal with ice-cream, it has become a tradition and one that we are extremely happy to keep up!

    Take care, and please keep in touch on MP.
    Thanks very much and, please, enjoy the Russo Rule on me.
    Steve

  12. #11
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey021 View Post
    Thank you Steve!! Been too long since we've seen a trip report from you. Thanks for several lunch hours worth of entertainment!
    Thanks and ... you’re welcome.
    Steve

  13. #12

    Steve Russo, Boardwalk and Kidani, January 17 - February 1, 2018

    Another enjoyable read I’m glad you decided to complete this report. Thanks for making that effort. It’s always lovely to see WDW through the eyes of generations. We are from the UK and generally are trips are 14 nights although myself and DD have sneaked in a couple of largely unplanned 9 day benders. However aim with you, a bit longer than 2 weeks is also my ideal. When we can pull it off I like 16 nights. My best wishes to you as well for a continued recovery.

     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  14. #13
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydooby View Post
    Another enjoyable read Im glad you decided to complete this report. Thanks for making that effort. Its always lovely to see WDW through the eyes of generations. We are from the UK and generally are trips are 14 nights although myself and DD have sneaked in a couple of largely unplanned 9 day benders. However aim with you, a bit longer than 2 weeks is also my ideal. When we can pull it off I like 16 nights. My best wishes to you as well for a continued recovery.
    Thanks.
    Steve

  15. #14

    Steve, I've been praying for you & wishing you well over the past many months, and am so happy to hear that you're doing better & can make trips to WDW! Best wishes to Barb, too. Thanks SO much for writing this TR & sharing your trip with your fans! :-)

    Jan

    "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference." --Eeyore

  16. #15
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wdwjan View Post
    Steve, I've been praying for you & wishing you well over the past many months, and am so happy to hear that you're doing better & can make trips to WDW! Best wishes to Barb, too. Thanks SO much for writing this TR & sharing your trip with your fans! :-)

    Jan
    Thanks, Jan.
    Steve

  17. #16
    Self-Proclaimed Disney Queen! Pammer's Avatar
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    I'm also jumping on the "I love Steve Russo trip reports" band wagon! I was just thinking about these last week, and how it should be time for another report; thank you so much for writing it (I know how much time & effort they take to write) as I always enjoy reading them and this was no exception!

    I also was saddened to read of your health issues this past year; as a cancer survivor myself, I can appreciate what you have been going through! Chemo & radiation truly weaken the body, and I remember how I needed those daily naps as well. I also twisted my knee last about a year and a half ago, which gives me issues with climbing stairs to this day, so I also appreciated Barb's issues with needing that cane! It sounds like you both are on the mend (no wheelchair for Barb after all!) so that is great news also.

    Congrats on "Russo Number 3" too!

    Thanks again for writing the report ~ I loved reading it!

    Pam
    DL trips: too many to remember actual dates, but they began in the 60s!
    WDW trips: 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013



  18. #17
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pammer View Post
    I'm also jumping on the "I love Steve Russo trip reports" band wagon! I was just thinking about these last week, and how it should be time for another report; thank you so much for writing it (I know how much time & effort they take to write) as I always enjoy reading them and this was no exception!

    I also was saddened to read of your health issues this past year; as a cancer survivor myself, I can appreciate what you have been going through! Chemo & radiation truly weaken the body, and I remember how I needed those daily naps as well. I also twisted my knee last about a year and a half ago, which gives me issues with climbing stairs to this day, so I also appreciated Barb's issues with needing that cane! It sounds like you both are on the mend (no wheelchair for Barb after all!) so that is great news also.

    Congrats on "Russo Number 3" too!

    Thanks again for writing the report ~ I loved reading it!
    Thanks, Pammer.
    Steve

  19. #18

    So sorry to hear about your health issues. I am so impressed by your ability to continue going to Disney and riding all the rides! Thanks for the trip report, I always look forward to reading them!


  20. #19
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaltDisneyFanatic View Post
    So sorry to hear about your health issues. I am so impressed by your ability to continue going to Disney and riding all the rides! Thanks for the trip report, I always look forward to reading them!
    Thanks.
    Steve

  21. #20

    Steve,

    Sorry to hear about you and Barb's issues. Hope all is going well, and that you have a full recovery. Great trip report as always. Donna and I love reading them. BTW, we were there for the first 4 days of your trip, but we did a resort only trip at SSR. Very relaxing. We'll do a bigger F&W trip in September. Get well!

    Kevin


  22. #21
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goofy1958 View Post
    Steve,

    Sorry to hear about you and Barb's issues. Hope all is going well, and that you have a full recovery. Great trip report as always. Donna and I love reading them. BTW, we were there for the first 4 days of your trip, but we did a resort only trip at SSR. Very relaxing. We'll do a bigger F&W trip in September. Get well!

    Kevin
    Thanks, Kevin.
    Steve

  23. #22

    Hey Steve, so happy you told me today that your trip report is up!!

    As always it was a great read!

    A few comments;
    - I was SO happy to read that you called the Wedway, the Wedway!!! Ha, ha!!! Even though they changed the name to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, I have always called it the Wedway!
    -Having just returned from WDW with a toddler in our group, we did quite a few rider swaps. While the rider swap passes were indeed good until the end of Feb. that was not the case for either the Mine Train or Flight of Passage. Those expired at the end of the day. I only mention that, because you wrote that you had tossed some passes for those two rides not realizing they expired at the end of the month. Now, you know, that you couldn't have saved those anyway!!! I am sure you will sleep well tonight with that knowledge!! Ha, ha!!
    -Bummed to hear that the burger isn't as good at Big River!! Jim will be bummed as well, when I share the news with him!
    -It was nice to hear how much your grandchildren enjoyed the dinosaur playground at AK! Jimmy and Cam were 2 and 4 when AK opened back in 1998. That playground was a HUGE hit for them that year and for many years to follow!
    -Excited to read your rave reviews on Flight of Passage!! I LOVE that ride so much!! It is my hands down favorite ride on property!! I cant say enough good things about it!
    -Congrats on "number 3"!!! So exciting!!!

    Hoping you do another report in April!!!


  24. #23
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FortWilderness IsHome View Post
    Hey Steve, so happy you told me today that your trip report is up!!

    As always it was a great read!

    A few comments;
    - I was SO happy to read that you called the Wedway, the Wedway!!! Ha, ha!!! Even though they changed the name to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, I have always called it the Wedway!
    -Having just returned from WDW with a toddler in our group, we did quite a few rider swaps. While the rider swap passes were indeed good until the end of Feb. that was not the case for either the Mine Train or Flight of Passage. Those expired at the end of the day. I only mention that, because you wrote that you had tossed some passes for those two rides not realizing they expired at the end of the month. Now, you know, that you couldn't have saved those anyway!!! I am sure you will sleep well tonight with that knowledge!! Ha, ha!!
    -Bummed to hear that the burger isn't as good at Big River!! Jim will be bummed as well, when I share the news with him!
    -It was nice to hear how much your grandchildren enjoyed the dinosaur playground at AK! Jimmy and Cam were 2 and 4 when AK opened back in 1998. That playground was a HUGE hit for them that year and for many years to follow!
    -Excited to read your rave reviews on Flight of Passage!! I LOVE that ride so much!! It is my hands down favorite ride on property!! I cant say enough good things about it!
    -Congrats on "number 3"!!! So exciting!!!

    Hoping you do another report in April!!!
    Thanks, Heidi. Man, you are fast. Tell Jim that the Big River burger is still very good. My feeling that its lost a bit may have more to do with me than the burger.

    So far, all six of our grandchildren have enjoyed the dinosaurs.

    Thanks for writing.
    Steve

  25. #24

    I've always enjoyed your trip reports, Steve. Thanks for writing this one up for us, and best wishes for a full recovery.

    Tiffany


  26. #25
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teenkerbell View Post
    I've always enjoyed your trip reports, Steve. Thanks for writing this one up for us, and best wishes for a full recovery.

    Tiffany
    Thanks, Tiffany.
    Steve

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