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Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Day One at, exhausting....

Our first day of arrival was so exciting, and frustrating all at the same time.  We arrived at Orlando International Airport about 1:20pm, and made our way pretty quickly over to Disney's Magical Express.  Boarded, and we were off about 5 minutes later.  We arrived at our home for the next 5 days, Port Orlean's Riverside.  That was when our frustration began.  First off, we pulled up, and there was a yellow fire truck parked right by the main entrance.  My husband and I both looked at each other and said, "oh great!"

 We made our way into the registration area and over to the "on-line" check in desk, as we had done our check in at home 10 days before.  For my readers who are not aware of this, Walt Disney World resorts allow you to check in 10 days ahead so you can get through the registration process quicker.  Normally, this is what happens.......however, Disney was updating their system on the 8th and 9th of October.  I could not even get into the travel agent site at home the day before, or the morning we departed.  We arrived and they said, "our system is still down so we really can't check you in completely, and your room is not ready anyway.  If you will please come back in an hour, it should be up, and we can get you all set."  So, we went for a walk around the resort a little and went back at 3pm.  Still not up, and they said they could make up temporary room keys.  Well, that's fine, except we had dinner plans with ADR's and we were planning on going to Magic Kingdom that evening for a few hours.  They had to make us one day passes, and told us we would have to pay for our dinner that night because there was no way to connect the temporary one day cards to use for our meal plan.  That was very frustrating.  So, we just paid for dinner that night as we had more ADR's for the trip than dining credits anyway.  Not really a big deal.  So, we go to our room, no luggage.  We had been in the same clothes since 4am, and I really wanted to change before going out that night, but again......frustration.  I wanted to change my shoes as the keds I had on were not what I would wear to the parks.  With the problems I have with my feet, I need more support........but no choice.  We had to go "as is."
We took the boat down the Sassagoula River to Downtown Disney Marketplace, and then caught a bus over to Wilderness Lodge for dinner.

 I had not eaten there in years, and the food was as good as I remembered.  But, before dinner was cocktail time!  After all the frustrations so far, I needed a libation!  Well, our server recommended the Moonshine Margarita!  Wow!  Really?  Moonshine?  Well, it is legal to distill it now, so I guess we might start seeing this served at places more and more.  So, she said to me, "if you don't like it, you don't have to pay for it!" I said, sure.......and OH!  WoW!  It was really good!  I highly recommend it myself!  One was all I could drink though....2 of those and I would be seeing 3 Dumbo rides, not the 2 that there are now!!

After dinner we went over to Magic Kingdom for a few hours.  To my surprise, Main Street Electrical Parade was running that night.  It was not on the schedule for that evening, so I was happy because I thought we were going to miss it totally.
We went about our merry way doing some different things, making our way over to Cinderella Castle.

  I wanted to go check out the new Storybook Circus which I found to be a bit confusing.  Especially in the dark.  The queue for the new Dumbo was odd, as we had a hard time finding where you go in.  We finally did, but by the time we got in there, and waited a little bit, it was getting too close to MSEP time, so we turned in our pager, and left.

We went out to Main Street, which was totally packed and we barely got a decent place to stand.  We were surrounded by foreigners who spoke no English, and they could not get the point through their heads that they had to stand "inside the white line" as the cast member kept saying over........and over........and over again!  I felt bad for her because these people where not listening, or understanding.  So, the parade begins, and we had been standing there, in one place for over a 1/2 hour already.....well, remember before I said that I have to wear certain shoes when I go to the parks?  Well, that point came to be a reality that evening because my feet were killing me!  So bad so, that we had to leave from the parade route before the parade was over.  My feet hurt so bad, and there were so many people, I thought I was going to pass out.  So, we made our way back down Main Street toward the train station.  We went upstairs and waited for "Wishes" to begin.  That is actually a really nice place to watch the fireworks.  You can't see Tinkerbell really good when she makes her flight, but we did see her!

After the show was over, we made our way over to the Polynesian to meet with Tony Caselnova  from Disney by the Numbers.  Since I am writing for him, I thought it would be great to meet in person.  What a nice guy he is!  I was so incredibly exhausted at that point, I totally forgot to have my husband take a picture of us!  Next time!

Finally we arrived back at our room, and thank goodness, our bags were there!  We unpacked and I took a bath, and when I went to sleep that night,  I honestly don't even remember my head hitting the pillow!  I slept great, and was ready the next day to head off to EPCOT!

Day 2 story coming soon!  Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Our Wild Africa Trek

We arrived at Animal Kingdom before park opening on the morning of Saturday October 13, 2012.  We were greeted by a very nice young woman who had on trek gear, so we had approached her to see where we should go.  She told us just to stick with her, and she would guide us to where we needed to be at the proper time.  There was a group of 10-12 people with us, and she ushered us through the turnstiles at the proper time.  She suggested that we take a rest-room stop as this would be the last time we could do so for at least 2 hours.  We were then escorted over to Tusker House and lead over to the area where we would be checked in for the trek and turned over our vouchers, signed off on some paperwork, verified our address, etc. 
We were actually going to be waiting for the next group of people, so we were told to just hang in there, and she would be back shortly to finish up our paperwork.  The first group of the day set off at 8:45am, and we were the 9:30 group.  After the others arrived, our two guides Julie and Amanda (Mandy) came to escort us to the “Outfitters Post”.  This is where we were weighed-in.  Yup…had to do it.  You cannot be under 8 years of age, or weigh over 300 lbs. (which thankfully I am nowhere near, and neither is my husband!) After the verification of weight, we were then supplied with all of the gear we would need for the morning adventure.  This included our vest/and trek harness, headset so we could hear our guides talk to us and give us information on what we were seeing, a water canister, and hooked us all in.  We were then taken to lockers to put our personal belongings in for the duration.  I was allowed to keep my camera because it had a strap that could be attached to a hook on my vest. 

The next stop was bug spray, sunscreen, and the “test” rope bridge.  This was short, and easy and in no way a real indicator of the bridges to come.  Basically, they wanted to find out if that bothered you, there was no way you could continue.  Now, I am slightly afraid of heights, but going over the bridges didn’t bother me at all.  This was one of those moments that you test yourself, and I was very proud that I accomplished this. 
Next, we headed up to the patio area for a couple group photos, and off we started on our journey of the next 3 hours.  Welcome to the Village of Harambe!  We started off making our way through the “Village” where we got to “parade” our way in our gear, getting what I would call “glances of envy” from the other park guests we were passing as we entered the Pangani Forest Trail.  We were with the regular park guests for several minutes and then we stepped off the beaten path into our own world, a place that not many get to see.  It was a thrilling moment indeed.  We hiked for about 10 minutes and this took us to our first stop.  The Hippos!  Wow, what incredible animals they are.  Do you know, they kill more humans every year in Africa than any other animal?  Their jaws are massive, and we learned that in a fight between a hippo and a crocodile, that the hippo would win hands down.  

At the hippo viewing area, we opened up our carabineers for the one of our guides, and then we were tethered so we could get to the edge of the viewing area without being in danger of falling.  We were treated to some insightful information about the hippos from the specialist who was feeding and viewing the hippo that we were there to see.  The other hippos were off further away in the pool.  After we were done here, we were then unhooked, and off we went on our next hike that would take us to the Crocodile area.  We got hooked up again, and to the edge we went.  Another specialist talked to us about these very powerful creatures.  Most of them we were viewing were between 14 and 20 feet in length.  

Our next venture was on to the first rope bridge.  When we all got onto the area where we would get hooked onto the tether, then Amanda asked who was going to go first.  The entire group looked at me, (including my husband), and I said “well, I guess I will take one for the team.” Of course at first my knees were shaking a little, but after I got going, it really wasn’t all that bad.  I overcame some big fears in about a 10 second time frame.  I was doing this!  As I walked across this bridge, I looked down several times, but tried to keep focused on getting to the other side.  It was a long was across each one.  After I came to the end of the first one, an equally long bridge was next.  This one was directly over the crocodiles.  Wow, you could really get a great view of them from up there.  As I came to the end and got unhooked from the tether, I watched my husband come across.  He did really well too.  Some of the others in the group were not doing as well, a little unsure of footing but they all made it across in pretty good time.  Let’s put it this way, this trek is definitely not for the couch potato type, or the faint of heart.  It is challenging without being too strenuous for most, but you still have to be in pretty decent shape to manage at a quick pace.

After crossing the 2 rope bridges, we shed our gear and did a little more of a hike, until we reached the area where we would get into our open air private safari vehicle.  This would be our transportation for the rest of our journey.  We got to see baboon, antelope, giraffe, waterbuck, Thompson Gazelle, Ankole Cattle, Kudu, and elephants. 
We were taken to a gazebo type building where we were able to use the restroom, wash our hands and then we were fed!  We were seated at tables that had white linen table cloths and napkins, and there was a camp tin at each place.  4 people to a table.  We were given a really delicious juice and then opened our tins.  Inside was a variety of “African Inspired food.”  The food included fruit that was marinated in a mint and ginger glaze, brie cheese with dried apricots, berry yogurt with granola and dried cranberries, and there was a fresh orchid in the center, that you could actually eat.  I did, as I wanted to see what it tasted like.  It was very good.  The next tray contained  dried prosciutto ham, and dried beef,  2 pieces of fig bread with almonds and a smoked salmon roll with dill cream cheese in the middle, and this was on a bed of jicama and cucumber slaw.  There were also 3 small pita rounds as well.  It was all very good, but I am not into dried meats, so I gave that to my husband.  

 Our trek guides, Julie and Amanda were awesome!

After the meal was over, we viewed the animals that were close by.  Both types of giraffe were near, and the area where the lesser flamingo make their home.  We left there and continued on our journey in the truck where we saw wildebeest, Ostrich, cheetah and rhino.  Unfortunately, the Zebra area was still being completed so they were not around.  I understand that area is now ready, and the occupants are now getting used to their new home, and will be visible on the tour in the weeks to come. 

We were then taken back to our starting point at the outfitters station and collected our belongings.  We were at that time told about something special. Part of the money from our trek would be put into a fund for whatever animal we wanted to help support.  We had the choice of the giraffe, elephant, rhinos, or the general fund for DWCF (Disney World Conservation Fund.) We chose the elephants.  Our fee for this trek also included receiving a photo CD of all the pictures the guides were taking as we went along.  I received our CD yesterday, so it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.  It is not just pictures of me and my husband, but all the people who were with us on the great experience. 
Both my husband and I enjoyed this adventure very much, and I feel that if you can swing the cost which can run anywhere from $159.00 to $189.00 per person, it is well worth it.  Watch for specials at different times of the year.  They had cost breaks for summer time tours, when not that many people want to go due to the heat.  Just recently they had a special to save $50.00 per person for tours after 2pm.  Keep your eyes open for things like that. 
I hope you enjoyed reading about this adventure as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We have returned!

Hello all! 
We are back from our fabulous trip to Walt Disney World, and our amazing cruise aboard the Disney DREAM.  Over the next few weeks I will be talking about some very positive things, and a few things that disappointed me.  (Yes, it does happen, even with Disney.)  I will be starting these reviews and sharing pictures in the next day or two.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Final Disney Alphabet Letter for Countdown... A!

What can you name that relates to a Disney park, ship, character or movie that starts with the letter A?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Disney+Dream = a great adventure awaits! Part VIII- FINAL!

Good Sunday to you.  Well, here we are on the 8th and final edition of this story.  We leave on our WDW/Cruise vacation-Celebration of love and life this coming Tuesday.  I have taken many trips "home" to Walt Disney World in the past, but since we have the cruise added this seems like an entirely different experience with planning this time around. 

We are looking forward to our first time staying at Port Orleans Riverside, our first time attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival and our very first Disney Cruise. 

We ask for your good thoughts and prayers as we make our journey.  We ask for them in regards to safety, weather, calm seas, and good times.  God's blessings have been great upon us.  If it were not for Him, Paul would not be alive today to take this trip.  God has granted us the resource to be able to afford to go.  All we have comes from God. 

We will be recapping and reviewing many things when we return.  There will be no blog posts next week, as we will be off sailing to the Bahamas! 

Have a wonderful two weeks, and we will see you when we return. 

The Disney Alphabet Letter for Today is: B

Here we go!  B is today's letter.  What Disney related thing can you think of that starts with B?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Disney Alphabet Letter for Today is: E!

What Disney related place, movie, character or theme park attraction can you name that starts with E??

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Disney Alphabet Letters for Today are H & G

Ok folks, here ya go!  What Disney related things can you name that begin with the letter H or G?