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Thread: Steve Russo - November 13-20, 2019 - Boardwalk Villas

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    Steve Russo - November 13-20, 2019 - Boardwalk Villas

    Yes, It’s Another Trip

    November 13-20, 2019
    Boardwalk Villas

    Participants
    • Steve – Yeah, it's me.
    • Barb – Yeah, It's her.

    Background and Health Issues
    Here we go… again. I’m writing this because Rodney T. Grill, a founding member of RADP, has insisted. I tried to explain that I no longer have the capability to write coherently and what I did produce would be awful. He didn’t care as long as it provided a way to attack my poor writing. Therefore, if you’re reading this, you are paying the price and it’s his fault. If needed, I’ll send you his home address, cell phone number and email address.

    Barb and I are both doing well. Actually, Barb’s doing very well and I’m stuck on a continuous round of just okay with occasional bursts of good days and a few more of “this kind of sucks”. It’s Glioblastoma for me, and Breast Cancer for Barb and if you need to know more, please read a previous trip report.

    Thanks Again Disney:
    Our wonderful illnesses, associated surgeries, and other medical “stuff” forced us to cancel two Disney trips last year. We had recently renewed our Annual Passes and I contacted Disney World to ask if they could do anything for us. Surprisingly, they verified our cancellations and renewed our Passes for an additional year at no charge. NO CHARGE! I can’t be thankful enough. Our Annual Passes that would have ended February 2, 2019 are now good through that date in 2020. We had a trip in April and this one will continue on these Passes.

    Airfare:
    I booked our flights via Southwest. November rates seems to be a little pricier than our January trips but not ridiculous. I got lucky in September when new and lower prices were released. This additional money savings has forced me to book another trip next April (we already have one in January). Yeah, I know… but remember the Glioblastoma. I’m on a mission.

    Resorts:
    Not much to say here. We’re at the Boardwalk. We have two DVC homes (the other is Kidani at Animal Kingdom) and while I’ll take either, the Boardwalk always feels like home. Yes, I’m a Crescent Lake Snob.

    The Trip:
    This trip includes two celebrations: Barb’s birthday (and I’m not telling you how old she is) and our 47th Wedding Anniversary. Shoot! Now you’ll have to accept the lie that Barb was only 13 when we got married.

    Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Dammit, It’s Cold

    Roughly, two weeks ago, we were basking in 60-70 degree weather. For some stupid reason, winter decided to come early with snow on Monday-Tuesday and a drop in the temperature to 15 degrees - in November. That’s January-February stuff, not pre-Thanksgiving. Most years I was still mowing my lawn on November 11. Reluctantly, we’re up at 2:00 am and off to the airport at 4:00. Did I mention its 16 degrees and windy?

    We’ve waited for decades for Exit 3 (to the Airport) off I-87, also called the Adirondack Northway, and it’s just opened. It’s a bit of a faster drive but, at 4:30 am, not a big deal. Neither of us were able to score TSA Pre on our Southwest tickets (and we usually do, dammit) so a full check-in was required. There’s nothing I enjoy more at 4:30 in the morning than removing my watch, belt, and shoes while I move stuff out of my single, small carry-on bag.

    We get an uncrowded flight but still have a person sit next to us. There were several available aisle seats but he apparently wanted the window seat next to us. Anyway, a very nice and smooth flight lands in Orlando at 9:10. We’re through the airport on to a Magical Express bus in just a few minutes. By the way… it’s 55 degrees here. And windy.

    The bus trip is fine but, for some reason, our driver sings to us… badly. This isn’t the first time. He sang in a heavy Mexican accent and apparently wrote his own lyrics, which were awful. How many times can I listen to “Welcome to Didney World, it’s a wonderful place and you will have fun…”. Nothing rhymed and I’m not kidding on the “Didney” pronunciation.

    We stop at the Yacht Club, the Beach Club, and, last, the Boardwalk. Yeah, it’s only been 7 months since our last visit but it feels so good.

    A text from Disney indicated our room was not yet ready but, hey, we’re the pros from Dover so we have to ask. A Cast Member, stationed outside the front desk offers help. Okay, this is the same guy that waited on us back in April. In April I explained we were in early, our room wasn’t ready, and we really needed a place for some rest having been up since 2:00 am and we’d be willing to take a room further from the elevator… He worked for 10 minutes and found us a new room – upgraded from Standard to a One-Bedroom. Today he invited us to the counter while he stepped back and tried to help. I admit to having visions of another One-Bedroom but, alas, he couldn’t find anything available early for us. Hey… he tried.

    We’re off to Epcot and stop at the new Cast Member booth before the entry area and we buy a new Tables in Wonderland card. Our last one had expired in April. I get our first view of the working Skyliner here. It’s a nice looking set-up but I’m not convinced I like it at the Epcot entrance. I’ll give it some viewing and give you an opinion a bit later.

    Our first stop at Disney is often a stop for a beer at the Rose and Crown. Since we have been up for 9 hours with zero food, we stop in for a beer – Black and Tan for me and a Carl’s Combo for Barb. Yes, we are creatures of habit. We have a scheduled lunch with Sandi Femino here at 1:05, about an hour from now. Luckily, Sandi texts that she’s already in Epcot so she joined us early.

    We agreed to sit outside in a “heated area” at the Rose and Crown and that turned out to be a mistake. It was cool but the high winds were making things chilly. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed Fish and Chips and some great conversation (and one of us enjoyed a second Black and Tan). We also learned that Sandi was back in a couple of days, meeting her daughter, Laura, for a stay at the Grand Floridian. We made a tentative decision to hook up for a brief chat should we find each other in a park.

    During lunch, I received a text that room 4081 was ready. We said our goodbyes to Sandi and headed to the Boardwalk. I picked up our stored bag near the front desk then found our room. Our two suitcases had already been delivered. Not much to do but a quick unpack and a not so quick nap. I was a person who napped very infrequently in life but, since brain surgery in 2017, I now have a daily requirement.

    After about 45 minutes of snoring (says Barb), I updated some notes while Barb headed to the Screen Door for coffee creamer, a bottle of wine and some water.

    We freshened up and headed to Epcot (once again seeing the Skyliner folks) and walked down to the Pixar Short Film Festival (a personal favorite) and then into a very un-crowded Soarin’, I’m finally going to admit that I miss the original Soarin’ Over California. The new version is nice but it offers a bit to many CGIs and the slanted views from anywhere but the direct middle are not very good.

    After Soarin’ we decide a light dinner and an early bedtime are in our future. We walk back to the Boardwalk where dinner becomes water and a Mickey pretzel from Boardwalk Joe’s. We’re still a bit exhausted and in bed by 8:30. I swear I was asleep by 8:31.

    Miles Walked: I used to provide this regularly and I once was an avid walker venturing around Crescent Lake early every morning. Now? Not so much. I do have a new iPhone app that tracks my daily numbers so… today was 5.8 miles.

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think I miss getting TSA Pre on our flights.
    I think I really enjoy being here. It’s only been 7 months since our last visit but we have so many regular doctor’s visits and medical tests that a visit here is a welcome relief.
    I think we enjoy spending time with Sandi on most visits. It’s funny how we go months between visits but always seem to pick right up.
    I think I’m not going to like the larger crowds from the Skyliner mucking up my Epcot visits.
    I think I already mentioned this but I’ll repeat my loss of love for Soarin’.

    Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Smugglers Run, I Walk

    We’re up at 4:30, which sounds early but it does give us 8 hours of sleep, so… Some news (TV and local), coffee, showers and we’re off to Hollywood Studios just before 8:00. It’s a long and cool walk but we’re let in and standing with a growing crowd. We stood for almost 45 minutes (and watched the crowd grow significantly) until the gate was released at about 8:50.

    Most people, including us, were off to Star Wars Smugglers Run. I have nothing but my estimates here but it seemed like we waited as number 150 in a crowd of well over 1,000. The walk was very long and, again I’m guessing, we were passed by about 25% of the crowd. At any rate, the walk on to the ride was almost continuous but probably took 40 minutes from beginning to exiting.

    Okay, my review. It’s a good ride but, for me, has too much bounce. Barb and I sat in the last row as the Navigators. You’re asked to do some things on the command buttons on the side of your seat, which takes your eyes off the center view of the ride (which is, in my opinion, the best part of the ride). I also had a very hard time hearing and understanding the ride details. Lastly, I found it to be very bumpy – much more so than Star Tours, or Flight of Passage, or… you get the idea. Anyway, I do think I need another visit to better concentrate and form an opinion.

    Next up is a ride on Star Tours. It’s still very good and a few of the new views are still amazing to me. After exiting our space ship, we headed over to the Frozen Sing-along show which I’ve always enjoyed. They’re now offering some additional material, songs and a visit from Olaf to celebrate the Christmas season. We had a new guy in the Royal Historians of Arendelle and he was very good. The show had some very funny stuff and a few new songs. The dad seated on my right spent the entire show on his phone (sigh).

    The Tower of Terror had a heavy crowd and took a few minutes to board. Someone needs to explain to me why I still really enjoy this ride.

    It was time to head back to the Boardwalk and we opt for the boat. Yeah, old age is kicking my butt in many ways and one is my knees. I managed a visit to my Orthopedist for a shot in the right knee a week ago. It’s better in that I can climb stairs more easily and actually move down stairs using only one foot per stair. Nevertheless, my legs are still hurting so it’s the boat.

    Lunch is at Big River for a burger and Brewers Club IPA. Barb also had a burger and a light beer to drink. Big River once had my version of the World’s Best Burger (copyright pending) but, sadly, over the past couple of years, it had declined a bit. I am happy to announce it has somehow returned to greatness. It’s that or the fact that burgers have become a more rare dining option for me. Either way, this burger was the best I’ve had in a long time. I’m reminded of my son one year, when he was much younger, saying to me, “When this burger is finished, I’ll be very sad.”

    Naps (that’s all you need, right?).

    My son, Stephen, has taken on a role writing a weekly column for the Turn On the Jets (New York Jets fans) website. He’s very good at it and was included in a Podcast with the site owner this week. I gave this a listen today and was very impressed.

    It’s a bit warmer today (wearing shorts) but growing overcast and with another cooler day and some rain for tomorrow.

    Tonight we are off to one of my favorite spots for good food and excellent cocktails, Todd English’s bluezoo. We seated ourselves in the bar area where I thoroughly enjoyed their Barrel-Aged Manhattan while Barb had a Tanqueray and tonic. We shared a Flatbread (that’s "Olive's" classico flatbread) and a Calamari. We couldn’t finish the food but, honestly, that’s who we’ve become thanks to the burger at lunch. Still, everything was excellent.

    We walked back to the Boardwalk and spent some time on a bench overlooking Crescent Lake (and thoroughly enjoying the view). Having spent a lot of time here, we sometimes forget how great the view is. We then visited the lobby where, overnight, a number of Christmas decorations were installed. Lights, trees and a re-do of the Boardwalk Bakery populated by Mickey and Minnie. The staff here really does a wonderful job.

    Back to the room where we each had a glass of wine on the balcony. I really have no preference here for a view of the Boardwalk or pool. I rather enjoy watching the people come and go by the entrance. Unfortunately, I now also have a view of the Skyliner at the front of the Boardwalk. Okay, it’s not really bad but… I don’t like it.

    Miles walked today: 5.7.

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think the new Star Wars land is pretty impressive.
    I think Smugglers Run may not be a ride for me. At least not a ride I need to spend a lot of wait time for or ride many times.
    I think I still love the Tower of Terror but I can’t tell you why.
    I think the burger at Big River has returned to being one of the best.
    I think I really enjoy the Barrel-Aged Manhattan at the bluezoo.
    I think I really enjoy being a Crescent Lake Snob.

    Friday, November 15, 2019 – Baby It’s Cold Outside (and Wet)

    We’re up at 6:30 and watching a cool rain falling. Our plans are, or were, Animal Kingdom but rain, cold and a bad knee have me thinking otherwise. We take our time getting ready and head out for breakfast.

    The first thing we notice is the very large, decorated Christmas tree in the “back yard” of the Boardwalk. The Cast Members are really cranking these things out quickly. We head for breakfast at Trattoria and, trust me, it’s a great breakfast. Something we didn’t know, mainly because we’re seated in a sealed back room, is that the main dining area offers visits by Disney characters (Ariel, Rapunzel and Flynn – and I thought I saw a fourth but I’m not sure. Ariel’s husband maybe?). It’s certainly something we’ll think about for our January trip with three of our younger grandchildren.

    After downing coffee, eggs over easy, ham, bacon and sausage (yep) we head to the Yacht Club and Beach Club for a look at their Christmas decorations. All I’ll say here is it’s difficult to not be impressed.

    Back to the room and the rain has begun to slow. I settle for a quick nap and we’re off at 1:00 to the Animal Kingdom. I spent some time on route changing all our Fastpasses.

    We begin with a visit to It’s Tough To Be a Bug, a show I really enjoy but always wonder why so many people force their very young children into. It really is not a good show for a 3 year old.

    Next up is the Legend of the Lion King, another favorite that we see every trip.

    We’ve had a late breakfast so what will now follow is an early dinner. We opt for Pizzafari. This is another place that had the smarts to bring back the original Caesar Salad and Pizza dish that they had once abandoned.

    When we exit, the sky has again darkened and it looks like rain is on the way. We discuss what to do and decide to use our final Fastpass on the Kilimanjaro Safari. We got lucky as the rain held off. We caught a few new things. One was a hyena racing to take down a large bird but the bird took flight inches away from becoming dinner. The giraffes were all together in a single small spot but we saw no elephants at all. Not a one.

    It was getting colder so we decided to head back at 6:30. At the Boardwalk, Barb decided she wanted ice cream - even though it’s now 59 degrees. We decide on using Russo’s Rule. This is kind of a weird day where we had a late breakfast and an early dinner as our two meals. Deciding on the Rule means I changed the early dinner at Pizzafari to a late lunch. We now walk to the Dolphin where we get our dinner of ice cream at the Fountain - Hot Fudge Sundaes, a vanilla for Barb and a chocolate for me,

    Mile walked: 6.2

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think I really enjoy breakfast at Trattoria.
    I think we handled the rain and cold pretty well today.
    I think Disney World is doing a great job of getting their Christmas decoration out early.
    I think Russo’s Rule is one we should invoke more frequently.
    I think I need some warmer weather.

    Saturday, November 16, 2019 – Cold and Very Crowded

    This morning Barb heads to the Belle Vue for coffee and muffins. She’s there at 6:30, which is the opening time. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, she gets everything free after a delay getting the computer ready so they could accept the Magic Band as payment. Yes, I did the happy dance.

    We’re off to Magic Kingdom on a very crowded bus and arrive at 8:50. It’s still cold, as in 50 degrees, but will, hopefully, make the 60s this afternoon. There are more than a few people on the bus with T-shirts and shorts. Not us. A bit later, on the way out of the park, we run into a young woman with a bra-type top on. Shorts and a bare midriff and shoulders. Brrrrrr!

    We head first to Mickey’s Philharmagic and enjoy the show with a total of five other people. At least they didn’t send us to the far end of the row. Next up was Big Thunder Mountain using a FastPass. We then rode Pirates but found too long a wait for the Jungle Cruise. I did notice that Pirates no longer had the simulated water display that you would roll through at the beginning of the ride. In addition, in my humble opinion, they’ve totally killed the red head segment.

    Next, we walked back to Tomorrow Land and enter Monsters Inc., which lists a 5-minute wait. Liars! We waited about 15 minutes but saw a very good show. The one odd thing was the three families that waited 15 minutes, entered the show and sat, then got up and left before the show started. I often have a difficult time figuring out some people.

    We used another FastPass on Buzz Lightyear then took a ride on a crowded Tomorrowland Transit Authority or Wedway. It’s weird how this now seems to have a line every time we ride when it never used to. Is it more popular or is the place just more crowded?

    We then exited and caught a bus to the Beach Club (the Boardwalk bus just hadn’t showed) and walked to a crowded ESPN for lunch. It was a college football Saturday, which I almost never see huge crowds for. Surprisingly, the Michigan versus Michigan State game was causing a lot of noise – on both sides. It was also on regular local television so it could have been watched in your room.

    Nap (‘nuff said).

    We walked over to Epcot around 4:30 and yes, the Skyliner crowd is really starting to bug me. Epcot was mobbed. Getting in was terrible and there was 20-30 people in every line This never happened before. There’s a line on the right that’s dedicated to Passholders but it’s obviously not being enforced. I actually heard more than a few folks ask what a Season Passholder was.

    I exchanged a couple of texts with Sandi. She and Laura were on their way to Epcot but would spend some time hitting a few rides before heading back to World Showcase. We’d try to hook up when they got here.

    It’s Food and Wine Festival but I have to say I have never seen it this crowded on several previous visits. It took us 90 minutes to walk around World Showcase. We made a short stop at the Lotus Blossom where we shared egg rolls, chicken with rice and two cups of water. I swear it was the only place without a ridiculous line. Every Food and Wine kiosk had lines of 25-30 people.

    We exited after that one long walk around World Showcase and found similar crowds waiting to get in. It was not a good night.

    We walked back to the Boardwalk and found that very crowded as well. What to do? We decided on a drink in the Belle Vue Room but there were no chairs or bar stools available. This might be the most crowded night of my Disney experience. We finally just returned to our room at 8:00.

    Miles: 6.6

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think this was the most crowded night I’ve ever seen at Epcot.
    I think we would have enjoyed seeing Sandi, and meeting Laura, but it was just too busy.

    Sunday, November 17, 2019 – Happy Birthday

    Happy birthday Barb.

    First, a little back-story. On the Friday before we left home, I received an email from DVC. They were offering a free viewing of the new Frozen II film during the morning of November 17 – five days before it’s released to the public. Keep in mind that we are never (and I mean NEVER) in Disney World when something nice is offered. I was given a Web site to sign into on Saturday morning at 9:00 am. I did, waited a bit and watched a counter, then was given the necessary information to attend. So, off we go on Sunday morning with the advice to be there by 9:00 am for a 10:00 am show.

    We’re off at 8:15 when we learn the buses for Disney Springs don’t start running until 9:00 (why did no one tell us this?) so we spend $10 plus tip for a taxi. Well, this film is no longer free but that’s still a pretty good price. We arrive at the AMC Theater just before 9:00 and find a very crowded area. In a few minutes, the line starts moving and we’re given gifts (Frozen themed note pads) and cards for free popcorn and soda.

    They’re using two (maybe three?) theaters and we’re directed to theater 2. There we’re given a TSA scan and place our phones into pads that are locked and given back to us. They’ll be opened when we exit the theater. They take this stuff seriously.

    The theater is already pretty full so we take seats down low, about the fifth row. Instead of a long row, these are four seats only, probably five sections across. After a few minutes, the woman sitting next to us spots a notice that the next row over is for Handicapped people. I check and there’s no notice on our seats but, not wanting to abuse the rules, we get up and look around. There are almost no seats available anywhere and in 3 seconds, two women move in a take our seats. I should have expected that.

    We wind up in row 2, left side and 2 seats from the wall. Not great but okay and I have a reminder of one of our pre-marriage dates. I took Barb to a movie and we arrived about 30 seconds late. We watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid from the 2nd row on the far left.

    We were told, in no uncertain terms, not to let any information out. Nothing should be posted to Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, the film is now released so I’m sure you’ve probably seen a review. My feeling, even though most people seem to say it’s better than the first film, is that it’s slightly less. I think the original has better music and they both offer some good humor and great characters. I do think this one is a little scarier for youngsters but that’s obviously an individual thing. At any rate, we both enjoyed it. (Two of my grandsons have recently scene it and loved it so that shows you how much I know.)

    We exited after having our phones opened and made our way to the Boat House for Barb’s birthday lunch. On the way, I use the Disney Experience on my iPhone to change our reservation from 1:05 to 12:15. (The importance of doing that will be explained later.) I have a bit of trouble finding my way – the new Disney Springs is confusing to me. I really haven’t spent much time here.

    We both decided on the Filet Mignon sliders, which were very, very good. They each came with about 7 pounds of French Fries. We seriously could have split one serving and still not finished. Interesting that Barb, the world’s biggest fish lover, is dining on so much red meat. I guess birthdays have that affect.

    We take a bus back to the Boardwalk and I check in for a nap that is interrupted by the staff cleaning of our room. Barb does a bit of laundry and takes a walk around Crescent Lake while she waits for the washer and dryer to do its thing.

    We’re off to Epcot and I decided a really dislike the Skyliner. It doesn’t look awful but it also does not look good. It’s dropping a ton of people into MY entrance area of Epcot. Harumph!

    While walking through World Showcase we hear, “Steve! Steve Russo?” I’m not sure how she recognized me so easily but we ran into Jan Haringa DeVries and her husband. Jan is a Facebook and MousePlanet friend. We have a very nice chat and also pose for a few group photos before heading in our separate directions.

    Test Track is down (dammit!) so we ride Mission Space. After exiting, we head to the area by the Electric Umbrella to pick up our DVC Mickey Coasters and Annual Passholder Ratatouille Magnets. Unfortunately, it’s much too crowded to get in line. There are several hundred people waiting.

    We stopped and caught a second viewing of the Pixar movies, then fought our way through the crowd for an exit and a boat ride back to the Boardwalk. We shared the waiting area with a gentleman, about my age, who is an ex-New Yorker and loves (I mean LOVES) talking about anything.

    We hit the Boardwalk Bakery for a sandwich that we split (some dinner, huh?) then stopped in the Belle Vue room for a Manhattan and a Tanqueray and tonic. Then it was back to the room.

    Miles walked: 4.8

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think DVC’s offer of the Frozen pre-release was very nicely done.
    I think Barb enjoyed her birthday lunch at the Boat House. That was our first visit there and was very good. Upon returning home I noticed a bill of $20 on my AmEx card. It turns out I was charged for not showing up for a reservation. I had to call and give them the information on us actually showing up to get the $20 returned. Be careful making late reservation changes.
    I think Epcot stays very busy from Friday through Sunday.

    Monday, November 18, 2019 – Happy 47th Anniversary

    Yes, it’s our 47th wedding anniversary. Where did the time go?

    We’re off early to Animal Kingdom. The park opened at 8:00 but we’re there at 8:45. No problem. Barb rides Expedition Everest twice - once as a single rider and once with our FastPass. There was a time I’d ride with her just to be a good guy but, honestly, I really have a hard time with the backward run and she says she really doesn’t mind riding alone so…

    Next up we walk to the Avatar area and are allowed to enter10 minutes early for our FastPass ride on Avatar Flight of Passage. This is still the best ride ever. I would like them to shorten the pre-show a bit but I understand its job so…

    We’re now exiting Animal Kingdom and find we’re the only two on our bus. Our driver asked our resort and skipped stops at the Swan and Dolphin for us. Naturally, while on the ride back, we decide to visit Epcot and try again for our DVC and Passholder gifts.
    We received our coasters and magnets with a much smaller crowd in attendance. The whole thing took about 5 minutes.

    Back to Big River for lunch and, don’t hate me, I repeated the burger order I made a few days ago. I know this is more burgers than I now have in a month but… I’m on vacation and they’re really good. Barb had Nachos. ‘Nuff said.

    Back to the room for a nap and some rest, then we’re off at 5:00. We first stop at the Front Desk to offer some Disney pay cards on our account. I will, once again, offer my philosophy on Disney charges. One: I always purchase the Table in Wonderlands card to get 20% off almost every meal (including alcohol). If you visit more than once in a 14-15 months period, it’s worth it. Two: We always purchase Disney pay cards from Target, who offers a 5% discount. That’s 25% off almost all Disney restaurants and bars. I do keep track and, at least for us, it’s a considerable savings.

    While we’re paying our bill, I also ask if the Cast Member has any knowledge of the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Oh, yes, she’s an expert. To repeat my story, we’ve attended the show 10-15 times in the past 20 years, with each visit including 5-13 of us. We have always (and I mean always) sat at one table. I had a reservation made for January with my son and his family – 4 adults and 3 children. They could not (would not) guarantee a single table. There was not even a guarantee that the two tables would be near each other. This Cast Member was as surprised as us, but really couldn’t offer a solution. Sigh!

    We head out doors and find that the boat just left so we make the short walk to the Yacht Club. Our Anniversary dinner is scheduled for the Yachtsman Steak House and, yes, I’m as surprised as you are that this was Barb’s idea. We’re almost always looking for seafood at Narcoossee’s. I really believe this is the most red meat we’ve had in months… but I’m not complaining.

    We first hit the Crew’s Cup for a Manhattan and a Long Island Iced Tea. Both were very well made and very good. We walked to the restaurant on time with our reservation and both really enjoyed a great Filet Mignon. Yeah, I know we must sound like devoted red meat eaters but, while this is not our normal diet, I can’t complain. By the way, they did give us a Happy Anniversary cupcake with a candle. Thank you.

    Next up was a walk to Epcot (I really don’t like the Skyliner) where Barb indicated we hadn’t seen the Eat to the Beat concert. I always do what my wife wants (don’t we all) so we sat in and listened to, and watched, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. A quick note… they didn’t play Spanish Harlem.

    Back to bridge between France and the UK for the Epcot Forever fireworks. Yes, Illuminations is done (sniff, sniff). We spent some time chatting with a couple from Las Vegas. They recently vacationed in Puerto Rico and were now here for the Food and Wine Festival (first time). They’re staying off site and using Uber from the Boardwalk area for transportation.

    I am a longtime fan of Illuminations but I admit to really enjoying Epcot Forever. It was very good but someone has to explain why a show destined to be replaced in the near future is named Epcot FOREVER. I especially enjoyed the music from past Epcot attractions being offered. I had almost forgotten about the “Veggie veggie fruit fruit” tune.

    Miles walked: 8.4

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think 47 years of marriage is almost unbelievable for us.
    I think the Flight of Passage ride is my absolute favorite.
    I think the crowds at Epcot are about half of what we saw over the weekend.
    I think our second visit to Yachtsman Steakhouse was very good.
    I think I like Epcot Forever.

    Tuesday , November 19, 2019 – The Best Jungle Cruise Ever

    One thing I seemed to develop along with the brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy is an occasional sleep issue. This reared its ugly side tonight, woke me up at 3:00 and wouldn’t allow a return to sleep for about two hours. It stinks but it happens.

    Things are warming up so we’re back to shorts and T-shirts. The weather this trip has really surprised us. I have five pairs of shorts that are untouched in a drawer and a pair of pants and a golf sweatshirt that have already been through a washing.

    It’s a very crowded bus to the Magic Kingdom and our first stop is to use an un-needed FastPass for the Little Mermaid. Next it was off to another view of Mickey’s Philharmagic followed by a (yes, Barb really likes it) ride on “it’s a small world”. We are seated in the back row, which to me, seems to offer a shorter area for legs. My knees are literally stuck left and right and I spend the next 10-15 minutes unable to move.

    We have a FastPass for Jungle Cruise but it still takes 15-20 minutes to get onboard. Our skipper was a young man, a recent college graduate, lamenting his lack of a real job. He wore a Santa hat and obviously geared his comments toward the Christmas holiday. It was very funny and likely the best show we’ve ever seen. The passengers gave him a lot of applause as we exited.

    Next up was lunch at a favorite place, the Columbia Harbour House. I’m definitely a creature of habit so I have my favorite Tuna Sandwich while Barb has the Chicken Breast Nuggets. For the first time in forever (see what I did there?) we take a table downstairs. We normally head upstairs to a quieter area with a great view but, at least today, my knees are fighting the stairs.

    We next grab the Monorail to the Grand Floridian to see their Christmas displays. They are never disappointing. We spent more than a few minutes wandering and taking some photos then hit the Monorail back to the park, and from there it’s a bus to the Boardwalk.

    Nap (surprised?) and the arrival of a noisy new next-door neighbor. There’s lots of shouting over there.

    At about 5:30, we head to Martha’s Vineyard at the Beach Club. It’s a very nice New England beach house lounge, which tonight, provided drinks and dinner – a shared order of Buffalo-glazed Wings and Loaded Tots.

    We were home by 8:00 and begin our packing. We fly home tomorrow.

    Miles walked: 4.7

    Things I Think I Think:
    I think it’s our last full day here. It’s a long enough trip but we’ll still miss being here. Thankfully we’re coming back in 60 days.
    I think I experienced the best Jungle Cruise ever.
    I think I’ll always enjoy the Columbia Harbour House.
    I think Disney parks and resorts do a great job of Christmas decorating.
    I think it’s been 7 days but it seems too short.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2019 – Home Again… Late

    Why are these flights home so late? I recall many that would get us home in the early evening. All of a sudden, they only offer a flight that has us arriving around midnight. I’m much too old to spend an entire day walking around outside with no hotel room.

    We’re up at 6:30, have some coffee, showers and final packing,

    We have a different kind of trip scheduled for January. Barb and I check in to a Boardwalk Studio for three days. On day four, we move to a 2-BR Villa and Stephen, and family, join us. Now, as I always do, I was going to schedule our FastPasses for the trip and I expected that I wouldn’t be able to schedule Stephen’s until we are 60 days from their check-in. Boy was I wrong.

    Therefore, I spent 45 minutes getting Fastpasses for the entire January trip - which pleased everyone with three rides on Avatar Flight of Passage.

    I shave, shower and call Thelma Lou (that’s an Andy Griffith reference) and finish packing. We store our one, small carry-on with Disney and check our luggage, and receive our boarding passes outside. Surprisingly, I was given TSA-Pre but Barb wasn’t. I have no idea why.

    This took us until about 9:45 when we headed to Trattoria for another great breakfast. We figured today would be another late breakfast and then a late lunch / early dinner.

    After breakfast, we decide on the boat to Disney Hollywood Studios mainly because my legs are done. We have a FastPass for Tower of Terror and walked directly in. Always a great ride.

    Next was Star Tours which listed a ten minute wait but we walked right in.

    We decided to hit MuppetVision-3D, something we haven’t seen on this trip. It’s been many years and dozens of views but I still find the Muppets funny.

    What to do next? Well, Galaxy’s Edge Smugglers Run had a 55-minute wait time and we decided to give it a shot. It’s longer than we usually wait for anything but today was a bit different. The nice thing is it’s continuous walking so it doesn’t make me feel like I’m waiting. Additionally, we were on and off the ride in 47 minutes. After two rides, all I can really say is it’s not as good as Flight of Passage. Wonderfully designed but overly bumpy and, at least for me, needs to tell a more complete story.

    We take the boat back to the Boardwalk and I retrieve the one bag from Disney. I take some time updating my notes for this hideous attempt at a trip report. At around 5:00 we decide to see if we can board an earlier bus to the airport. We could and we did.

    First step is through TSA where I get through in about 5 minutes and it takes Barb 20. That’s not fair but Barb agrees that I bring most of the on-board stuff with me so…

    Dinner is a shared half sub from Jersey Mike’s. That’s sub each and the airport pricing is outrageous.

    God, I need sleep. Our flight leaves on-time at 9:00 and we arrive at 11:40. The flight was a lot bumpier than our flight down (but not as bad as Smugglers Run - hahaha). It takes a while for our bags to come out but it’s a relatively short walk to the car, parked indoors (or at least under a roof).

    The parking lot exit has been re-done and there are four or five employees standing out there to help. And help is needed. I had read that our cost should now be lowered to $10 per day, mainly due to the new system not needing employees. Well, my expected $80 came to $112. I should have also been able to exit using my EZ-Pass card but the employee said that’s only valid if you used EZ-Pass to enter. I explained that I looked across all four-entry lanes a week ago and none had the word EZ-Pass. She didn’t agree. Not a good way to check out.

    We’re home by 12:45 am and, of course, I’m now no longer exhausted, as I should be. We’re in bed at around 1:30 am.

    Final Thoughts

    Not much to say here except we really enjoyed the trip, as always. But what else would you expect?

    We love our stays at the Boardwalk and yes, I am a Crescent Lake Snob. We really enjoy Flight of Passage but I think the jury is still out on Smugglers Run.

    Upcoming trips include a longer stay in January where we’ll be joined by our son, Stephen, his wife Stephanie, and their three children, Jack, Grace and Olivia (Livy). It’ll be Livy’s first stay and we’re wondering how it will go. Grace joined us at 1 years and had a great time. I hope that Olivia does as well. Barb and I plan to follow with a shorter trip, to Animal Kingdom’s Kidani Village, next April.

    Like always, feel free to ask any questions. I’m certain I was likely not as understandable as I could have been. And as always, thanks for reading.
    Last edited by srusso100; 11-25-2019 at 01:35 PM.
    Steve

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  3. #2

    Thanks for sharing your trip report. Glad to hear you are both doing well. I enjoyed riding the skyliner but agree that the days of the secret entrance are no more. Happy anniversary, 47 years is wonderful.


  4. #3
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daisyd0 View Post
    Thanks for sharing your trip report. Glad to hear you are both doing well. I enjoyed riding the skyliner but agree that the days of the “secret” entrance are no more. Happy anniversary, 47 years is wonderful.
    Thank you.
    Steve

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    Who isn't a Crescent Lake snob?


  6. #5
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wdwchuck View Post
    Who isn't a Crescent Lake snob?
    Ha! Good one.
    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    Ha! Good one.
    Many, many happy memories walking in the back door to Epcot or down the waterway to Hollywood Studios. We are very, very snobbish.

  8. #7
    Waiting impatiently for next trip quackinup's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report, helps me survive the long wait until my May trip (seems like eons away).

    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    Not much to say here. Were at the Boardwalk. We have two DVC homes (the other is Kidani at Animal Kingdom) and while Ill take either, the Boardwalk always feels like home. Yes, Im a Crescent Lake Snob.
    Not a snob here (most recent trips staying at Pop), but I can certainly understand the feeling after a recent partial stay at Boardwalk Inn.


    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    Neither of us were able to score TSA Pre on our Southwest tickets (and we usually do, dammit) so a full check-in was required.
    I used to get them frequently from Southwest as well, but not on my recent trips. I fly out of a small airport so it's not a bog deal on the trip out but makes a huge difference on the trip back.

    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    Lunch is at Big River for a burger and Brewers Club IPA. ...Im reminded of my son one year, when he was much younger, saying to me, When this burger is finished, Ill be very sad.
    My favorite quote of the report

    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    We begin with a visit to Its Tough To Be a Bug, a show I really enjoy but always wonder why so many people force their very young children into. It really is not a good show for a 3 year old.
    I agree about young ones. I enjoy this show a lot, with one exception. I hate it when I get poked in the back. Not sure why but it bothers me, so I find myself sitting away from the back of the seat. I'll have to be sure to visit this in May since it has been removed from California Adventure here. It will be missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by srusso100 View Post
    Galaxys Edge Smugglers Run had a 55-minute wait time and we decided to give it a shot. Its longer than we usually wait for anything but today was a bit different. The nice thing is its continuous walking so it doesnt make me feel like Im waiting. Additionally, we were on and off the ride in 47 minutes. After two rides, all I can really say is its not as good as Flight of Passage.
    I've been following wait times on the app and based on that I think many people agree with you.

    So, I'm curious what your thoughts are on the Skyliner. I noticed you mentioned the higher than normal crowds on the Boardwalk one day. Do you think that could be from more people discovering the area while riding the Skyliner to the parks? I doubt if a high percentage of the past visitors ever even knew there was an entrance back there. I hate to say it but I think I will love the Skyliner since I will be staying at Pop and it will be my primary transportation to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (as well as a trip or two to Jellyrolls).
    Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!
    Next trip: Disney World May 1-9 2020

  9. #8
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quackinup View Post
    Thanks for the report, helps me survive the long wait until my May trip (seems like eons away).


    Not a snob here (most recent trips staying at Pop), but I can certainly understand the feeling after a recent partial stay at Boardwalk Inn.



    I used to get them frequently from Southwest as well, but not on my recent trips. I fly out of a small airport so it's not a bog deal on the trip out but makes a huge difference on the trip back.


    My favorite quote of the report



    I agree about young ones. I enjoy this show a lot, with one exception. I hate it when I get poked in the back. Not sure why but it bothers me, so I find myself sitting away from the back of the seat. I'll have to be sure to visit this in May since it has been removed from California Adventure here. It will be missed.



    I've been following wait times on the app and based on that I think many people agree with you.

    So, I'm curious what your thoughts are on the Skyliner. I noticed you mentioned the higher than normal crowds on the Boardwalk one day. Do you think that could be from more people discovering the area while riding the Skyliner to the parks? I doubt if a high percentage of the past visitors ever even knew there was an entrance back there. I hate to say it but I think I will love the Skyliner since I will be staying at Pop and it will be my primary transportation to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (as well as a trip or two to Jellyrolls).
    I agree. If I was staying at Pop or the Caribbean I would love it. 90% of my stays are at the Boardwalk and the majority of my trips are to Epcot. They just got a lot busier and it takes more time to get through and enter. Will that change? Maybe but I think it may also get busier.
    Steve

  10. #9

    I was so happy to see your TR posted Steve!!! I love reading about your WDW adventures with Barb and I'm glad to hear that you're both doing well after all you've been through in the last couple years. I know how much you enjoy your Boardwalk stays which is one of my favorite resorts at WDW too. We just returned from an October trip where we stayed at the Beach Club Villas. I was interested to see what the wait times would be like at the IG entrance and I did find them busier than before the Skyliner opened but not as bad as I expected. I think during peak times it could be a real pain for Epcot resort guests who at one time always felt like it was their private entrance. Happy Anniversary and I'm looking forward to reading about your next WDW trip!


  11. #10
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindawdw View Post
    I was so happy to see your TR posted Steve!!! I love reading about your WDW adventures with Barb and I'm glad to hear that you're both doing well after all you've been through in the last couple years. I know how much you enjoy your Boardwalk stays which is one of my favorite resorts at WDW too. We just returned from an October trip where we stayed at the Beach Club Villas. I was interested to see what the wait times would be like at the IG entrance and I did find them busier than before the Skyliner opened but not as bad as I expected. I think during peak times it could be a real pain for Epcot resort guests who at one time always felt like it was their private entrance. Happy Anniversary and I'm looking forward to reading about your next WDW trip!
    Thank you.
    Steve

  12. #11

    Glad to see that you and Barb are enjoying WDW. I concur on the Pre TSA for SW. I ALWAYS get the Pre TSA and last two trips..no soap


  13. #12
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessD View Post
    Glad to see that you and Barb are enjoying WDW. I concur on the Pre TSA for SW. I ALWAYS get the Pre TSA and last two trips..no soap
    Thank you.
    Steve

  14. #13

    Hi, Steve! I'm so glad to see your trip report! And SO glad we were able to finally meet you & Barb! Glad to hear you had a good trip. Ours was great, too, and we didn't even mind the cool (cold) weather. WAY better than sweating! Continued wishes & prayers for your health, and for many more trips to the World.

    Jan

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

  15. #14
    Registered User srusso100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wdwjan View Post
    Hi, Steve! I'm so glad to see your trip report! And SO glad we were able to finally meet you & Barb! Glad to hear you had a good trip. Ours was great, too, and we didn't even mind the cool (cold) weather. WAY better than sweating! Continued wishes & prayers for your health, and for many more trips to the World.

    Jan
    Thanks, Jan. It was great meeting you guys.
    Steve

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