Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 6 - March 2

Our last day on the Dream was a sea day, so we decided to sleep in a bit. Then I headed up to Deck 11 for my latte and a little reading while I waited for mom. Breakfast was of course Cabanas again. We were joined by Paul and Lisa so that was nice to visit and spend some time with them. We headed over to Quiet Cove then for the caffeine meet. While LIsa and mom socialized Paul and I chatted.

Mom went off to morning Bingo while I did some more reading and finished up our scavenger hunt. I turned in the answers and got a Dream ticket for turning them in. Tried to do some more reading but it was COLD out on deck 4! Ended up hitting up the store and finally found a vinylmation I wanted in the trader box so I got to trade in Madame Mim (villains series) for Miss Piggy (Muppets series). Yay! Ended up going to find mom at Bingo since I was too cold outside. We ran into Allison and Steve (friends from Magic in 2008 who are going on Fantasy with us in 2012). Chatted with them for a while. Then it was a bit more souvenir shopping and lunch for us. Our last meal at Cabanas, sad!

After we lunch we went to find the group at the Pin/Vinylmation trading meet. I didn’t want to trade any of my remaining Vinyls but we had to turn our Dream keys in here for the price tickets for later. Mom and I only ended up with 5 Dream Keys overall. Some people had LOTS....have no idea how they got them all. We visited for our while with Sandy and Sarah and made plans to join them for dinner that night since it was just the two of them and we knew our tablemates had made other plans.

After that, more reading for me while mom napped. Then I headed to the cabin to do a little packing. We got our gratuity tickets...and boy was I mad....remember early on in my trip reports how I said that thered been a mix up and we were NOT seated with Darlene/Keith and Paul Lisa at dinner as requested? And how we requested a correction with Mousefan at the welcome center and were told they’d call us if they could change it? Well our dining gratuities showed up and instead of having our servers Gabor and Rhys...they had the servers for Darlene and Paul’s table. I ran to guest services to try and correct but the line was too long and I had the Dream Key/tickets so I had to get to the WDW Radio farewell meet.

Meet was nice, fruit and some cheeses out. Wine being served. Was a nice fun meet. We didn’t win anything but that was okay. After that and before dinner I ran back to Guest Services about our gratuity problem. They said we had to talk to the dining room, so they walked me over there. I explain to the dining room manager what was wrong...he looks in his computer and said that Colleen from Mousefan requested we be moved to that table that first day of the cruise, and he noted we were moved. He asked me “did she not tell you that?”. I said “no”. He right away was flustered and very apologetic. Said he distinctly remembered talking to Colleen on this very issue and asking her if she wanted him to call the affected parties and she told him she would take care of it. But she never contacted us. I was NOT happy.....this is when I realized we could have enjoyed 3 lovely dinners with our friends. Not that we didn’t end up sitting with very nice people, because we did. But I feel like I barely got to see Darlene on the cruise and I was upset that the dining mistake had been corrected and no one told us so we missed the opportunity spend our meals together.

Anyway....dinner with Sarah and Sandy was lovely. We were in Royal Palace finally and it was BEAUTIFUL! Though the tables seemed VERY close together in here. For dinner I enjoyed the Double-baked Spinach Souffle, Avocado-Citrus Salad, and the Wild Boar. I wasn’t sure about the Boar but it was quite tasty...more like filet mignon than pork. For dessert I got the Grand Mariner Souffle. Which was quite yummy. But when I saw Fitz come out with a tray of Chocolate Souffle’s I knew instinctively where he was going and I was right...Chef Matthew had made Keith a special souffle because of his food allergies and the rest of the table had been brought Chocolate souffle. We very much enjoyed our dinner with Sarah and Sandy, but boy now I was REALLY upset about the dining screw up. We missed out on Chocolate Souffle because Colleen from Mousefan didn’t tell us that we actually HAD been moved to the table we’d originally requested!

A visit from Lou during dinner!

After dinner we saw our final show, Disney’s Believe. This one everyone had been saying how amazing it was and to bring tissues. But I have to say, neither of us were overly impressed with it. Don’t get me was fine. But we’ve certainly enjoyed other shows more. After that it was back to the room to finish packing and get our bags outside since we were disembarking in the morning!

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 5 - March 1

We were up relatively early again today since we needed to have breakfast (Cabanas of course!) before the WDW Radio group picture. I got dressed quickly and headed up to Cove Cafe with my kindle to grab a latte and get a little reading done first. This was lovely because I got to sit in one of the fabulous round chairs at the Quiet Cove pool and enjoy the view of Cataway Cay off in the distance.

After breakfast we headed off the ship with fellow WDW Radio Cruisers Eric and Jacque from Las Vegas. We took pictures in front of the ship and then made our way to the boat beach for the picture. Boy were there a LOT of WDW Radio Cruisers there!

Mom and I with Sarah, Sandy, and Darlene waiting for the group picture

Can you see us? Towards the front about ⅓ of the way in from the right

After the group picture most people headed off to enjoy Castaway Cay. Now, mom and I love Castaway Cay just as much as the next family. But we also really love the Disney ships, and we thought this would be a great chance to enjoy a less crowded ship. Boy were we right! We were the first people at the Quiet Cove pool. Most people are complaining about how the chairs next to the pool don’t get sunlight. Mom even isn’t crazy about this. But my very fair, easily sunburned skin LOVES this about the quiet cove pool! I do NOT love the new layout and its forcing families with kids to walk right thru the middle of the pool space (what were you thinking Disney?) but fortunately since most people were off the ship it wasn’t an issue. We actually looked at the family pool as well thinking maybe we’d lay there to enjoy the sun and watch a movie on Funnelvision. But that pool, even with so many families on the island, was NOISY! So we spent the day at Quiet Cove, napping, hoping in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, reading. You know, normal lazy pool day stuff! Because so much of the staff was on the island Cabanas was not open for lunch (the horror!) so we hit up the quick service on Deck 11. I’m happy to say the chicken fingers are just as yummy as as the Magic!

After lunch we decided to run over to the Aquaduck finally. There was NO line! Well...the were like 3 people in front of us. But yay! The only bad thing was that meant walking up all three flights of stairs without resting...a lot when you are being lazy and eating like crazy! The first trip down mom and I went together. It was fun. Since the line was short we went up a second time, and this time road separately. Mom hadn’t wanted to do this saying she heard the ride was better if you were with someone. I’m thinking she was confusion the reports of kids too small to go by themselves who were going slow and getting stuck. This was NOT an issue...we both found the ride to be a litlte more thrilling when riding individually. After the second ride I went back to enjoy the pool a bit more, and mom got back in line. We continued our afternoon of being lazy. Mom eventually took off to get cleaned up for dinner and play bingo. I made my way back to the cabin to get cleaned up myself.

Most people were excited about Pirate night that night. We enjoy the POTC movies just fine, but are not pirate fanatics like so many of our WDW Radio friends are. And this being a new ship with new restaurants we didn’t want to miss a show night in the main dining rooms. But we also didn’t want to miss Palo - so tonight was the night I made our Palo reservations for. We were impressed with how much bigger Palo is than on the Magic and Wonder. We we commented on it the waitress said that it actually only had 2 more tables than the other ships. But we noticed that unlike on the Classic ships where Palo tables were mainly for 2 people, on the Dream they were 4 person tables. And of course on both ships they can be moved together to seat more. Mom decided to try some new items off the menu but I stuck with my tried and true Palo beef tenderloin. YUMMY! We of course both ordered the chocolate souffle (our main reason for dining at Palo) but our waitress encouraged us to order a second dessert as well so I tried the apple tart. It was tasty, but not as tasty as the souffle! We enjoyed dinner, but did not find it to be as relaxed of a dinner as last year on the Wonder.

After dinner we changed into comfy clothes and decided to go to the movie rather than to see the magican/juggler in the Walt Disney Theater. The movie was I Am Number Four. It was okay, not great. Mom snuck out a few minutes early so she could get up to deck 11 to see the fireworks. Me, not loving fireworks, headed back to the cabin to read and head to bed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 4 - February 28

Monday morning we were up relatively early so we could eat breakfast before the WDW Radio Welcome party. We went up to Cabanas for breakfast (have I mentioned how much I love Cabanas yet?). Mom was in love with one of the danishes and I quite enjoyed the croissants. This sounds really silly, but I also love the little hash brown patties they serve which are delightfully crisp!

At 9am was the Welcome Party. It was incredible to walk into the Walt Disney Theater and see the WDW Radio logo up on the screen. Mom and I were among the first in the theater so we headed straight up front to sit in the first row. Lou and his family, along with the Mousefan group, were just off to the side of us. Lou took the stage, and I have to say, at least while he was standing behind the podium I couldn’t see him AT ALL! He really is quite short! Lou and Beci did lots of chatting and made some announcements. We were bummed we didn’t win the flag contest (Lou and Deanna had both raved about our flag when we turned it in, but seeing the top 5 I wasn’t surprised we didn’t make the cut!). After that was over, Beci had Lou sit down and the roast began. It was fantastic! Speakers included Lou’s brother, his wife Deanna, Tony Caggiano, and via video, Glenn Whelan. I’m sure video from this will pop up someplace but it was fantastic! Lou came into the audience and sat right next to me during Glenn’s video and it was great to see his reactions so close.

After the welcome party mom and I decided to play some Mid Ship Detective Agency and work on our WDW Radio Scavenger hunt. Mid Ship Detective Agency was a BLAST. I hope they do this on the Fantasy as well, and that they come up with more cases for us to solve. It (along with the scavenger hunt) was a great way to explore the ship and really look at details we may not have looked at otherwise.

At 11am we decided to go see Tangled in 3D in the Buena Vista Theater. I’d seen it before, but mom had not. We found the Buena Vista theater to be more comfortable than on the Magic/Wonder - but still severely lacking in leg room. I’ve never seen this theater full on any of my 5 Disney cruises so I can’t see why they don’t take out some rows and space it a little better. On the other hand, I just saw a picture of the “Screening Room” on the Navigator of the Seas which I’ll be on in about 3 weeks and I guess I should LOVE the Buena Vista theater - don’t think I’ll be spending much time in the Screening Room.

After Tangled, it was time for lunch - BACK TO CABANAS. Yes we really love Cabanas! I can’t really remember how we spent our afternoon so I’m thinking it was more work on the Scavenger hunt and a little reading of my book outside. Mom went off to play bingo at one point.

Dinner was at 6pm, this time in Enchanted Garden. The restaurant is BEAUTIFUL inside! I showed up separate from mom who was still at Bingo (turned out she won the big prize!). We were up against one of the outside walls this time so had a great view of the dining room. Here I took advantage of the childrens menu. I started with the Cream of Tomato soup off the childrens menu. I moved on the Romaine Wedge. For my entree I got the NY strip steak, mom got the pork tenderloin and we shared. The pork was the winner hands down! For dessert I got the chocolate torte. The table loved the Bananas Foster sundae. Gabor also served us with some petit fours which were quite delicious.

After dinner we had the show at 8:30, so we stopped to do some shopping. I picked up the Disney Dream inaugral vinylmation. I was thrilled to find these still available! I missed my opportunity to have friends on the maiden voyage pick a set up for me, and they were going on ebay for like $100 or more.

The evening’s show was Villains Tonight, a new one for us. I liked the concept, and enjoyed it for the most part. I did not enjoy the actor playing Hades (the obnoxious actor from the night before who plays every character the same) and Pain and Panic were a little annoying. But the show was fun.

After that mom and I decided to meet some folks out for drinks. We headed to the District and found a group hanging out in Pink. I ordered a cocktail and just after that the group decided they wanted to move to the next bar. The waitress said she’d need to pour my drink into another glass if we wanted to go. I downed my drink, she got glasses for mom and someone else, and we moved on. The next stop was Skyline. That place is incredible! I loved seeing the lights twinkle and the cars move - you really feel like you are looking out on the city! We all looked at the menu and didn’t want to order anything so we talked about moving to Evolution - but no one got up. After sitting a while I realized I was exhausted ( still wasn’t sleeping well ) so I decided to head to bed. Mom decided she was wiped too so she came back as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 3 - February 27

At last! The day we had been waiting for since November 2009 was here! I don’t think I’ve ever had a vacation booked that far in least not since I started working since I have a weird random schedule and move a lot!

We did breakfast at Sassagoula Floatworks again, mostly because, what else would we eat for breakfast? Our meeting time for the Mousefan bus transfer to port was 8am in the French Quarter lobby. So we went to breakfast with our luggage, in our Deck 7 Cool Kids tshirts.

Duffy enjoyed his breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to the lobby to meet our group. The first people we happened upon were Greg and Gerrie from Nashville - easily identified by their Deck 7 Cool Kids button (I was so mad to realize I’d left mine on the kitchen table in Connecticut!). Having thoroughly studied my Deck 7 Cool Kids floorplan I knew that Greg and Gerrie were in the cabin next door to us. We had a nice little chat with them as more started to gather in the lobby. Before we knew it, it was time to board the bus. Our bus made a stop at Wilderness Lodge and then we were headed towards port. Michelle, from Mousefan, was our bus escort. Mom and I had front row seats and Michelle was insistent that our bus had to arrive first. Part way there we realized we were actually the second bus in our group.

We arrived at port to a LONG line of cars and buses waiting to get was only about 10am. Our bus pulled up behind the first bus - and then we were told there were too many people and we had to go park and wait! We go off to park in the lot they directed us to and NO ONE else follows. Michelle calls the other buses and finds out they were BOTH allowed to drop their passengers. Both she and the bus driver are hot to hear that! The driver heads back around to the terminal - and bypasses ALLLLLLL of the now much longer line of cars and buses waiting and works his way miraculously to the curb. This is when we had our first Lou and Beci sighting. They were unloading their car right in front of us. Mom screamed!

Lou and Beci at Port

We got off the bus and waiting in a very very long line to get past the name checkers (to make sure we were on the ship), and then security. Fortunately the lines at the counter were non-existent so we got right up there to get our Key To the World Cards. We headed from there to hit up the ladies room, me frantically looking for Darlene and more Deck 7 Cool Kids T shirts...I mean I knew we should be EVERYWHERE. On the way out of the ladies room a woman calls out to me “Hi Shelley”. I must have had a blank look on my face because she quickly said “Its Sandy!”. Of course, one of my Deck 7 neighbors and facebook friends! We headed back out to look for some folks and were flagged down by someone else calling my name. I could tell this was going to be a fun trip! Turns out that was Sarah, Sandy’s daughter. Yeah, more neighbors to meet. Sarah shared with us a funny story. Upon seeing Lou for the very first time, Sandy went up to him and asked him if he knew were Darlene was. Gotta love the Disney community and the friendships we all made before even leaving for this trip!

We got in line to meet Mickey, but by the time we got up there it was Minnie. But we did get to see Lori who snapped our pic. She also had spare buttons so Duffy and I BOTH got Deck 7 Cool Kids buttons.


We waited for what seemed like an eternity to for our boarding number to be called. While we were waiting we finally found Darlene and Keith, who were with Stuart and Michelle. We compared Key to the World Cards and were disappointed to see that despite a request we’d submitted earlier, we were not at the same table with Darlene and Keith. We later found Paul (goofypal on the WDW Radio forums) and Lisa, who we had also requested to dine with. Turns out Paul and Lisa got assigned to sit with Darlene and Keith but we did not. Technogeek that I am, I’m of course checking my twitter stream often and see that Beci from Mousefan said to see the girls in the WDW Radio welcome center for any dining change requests.

We finally get on board, hit the welcome center to turn in our Flag, register for door decorating and scavenger hunt, and pick up our goodies. We also make the dining request and are told we’ll get a message on our phone if they can make the change to get us with Darlene, Keith, Paul and Lisa.



We head up to Cabanas for lunch. Normally on the Magic/Wonder we got to Parrot Cay for embarkation day lunch. But every thing I’d read online said to go to Cabanas instead. Much better food offering and now that they find you a table and seat you, less hectic. Can I just say, we LOVED Cabanas! Had breakfast and lunch there every day, not a single breakfast or lunch in one of the dining rooms. I can definitely see why people are confused about the “pods” because they are all still lined up. People were definitely ticked off when you would just walk up to a pod to get your stuff after they were waiting in what they believed to be a line (it wasn’t). But people did seem to get the hang of this after a day or so. We loved the themeing. Loved the food (except the scrambled “eggs” at breakfast and lack of Mickey Waffles or an Omelet station).

After lunch it was time to drop our stuff at our stateroom. We opted for an inside deluxe this time. Partially because I was recently back at work and way stressing about money when we booked the cruise, and partially because I wanted to see the virtual porthole. Room was definitely a bit smaller than the deluxe staterooms on the Magic/Wonder. But not terribly so. Virtual Porthole was cool, though we only saw two magical things on it in 4 nights!

Virtual Porthole

After putting up our door decorations we explored a little. Then it was time for muster. We loved that you no longer have to wear life jackets to muster. Mostly because then you can head straight off to have some fun after muster rather than having to go back to your room again! After muster we headed up to Deck 11 to meet the Deck 7 Cool Kids for a group picture.

Deck 7 Cool Kids!

I think after that we did a little unpacking and changed for dinner. We had Animators Palate for our first night. At our table were Chip and Colin. Turned out Chip lives in Hershey PA, near where I used to live! Also at our table were Amanda and Brian. Oh, and at the table next to us was Dana! Great to put a face to another of my twitter friends! Our servers were Gabor and Rhys. And our table was right near the opening to the kitchen and on the we were in constant fear of having food dumped on us by servers racing past us. I was thrilled to see that Fitz was our head waiter! he was the first head waiter we ever had (Magic, 2008) that we really thought jumped in to help his servers and help make our experience a better one. He right away asked us where the rest of our group was (Our table mates from 2008. Steve and Allison were actually on the ship with us, but on a different rotation since they weren’t a part of the WDW Radio group. Steve and Mary were on the maiden voyage and had seen him then. We’ll ALL be back together again on the Fantasy in April 2012 so I’m hoping he moves over there!). For dinner I tried the Black Truffle Pasta Pursiettes, Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup, and Marinated Angus Beef Tenderloin. I requested the sour cream mashed potatoes served with another entree rather than the Wasabi mashed potatoes that came with my dish. Gabor said they couldn’t put them on the plate, but he did ensure that my plate came without the Wasabi mashed and brought me the sour cream mashed on the side! For dessert I had the cookies and cream sundae. Yummy!

After dinner was a little shopping and our first show. The show of the evening was the Golden Mickey’s. We’ve always enjoyed it and were excited to see some of the updates we’d heard about. The “reporter” on the read carpet seemed familiar - mom and I discussed with the couple behind us and decided it was the performer from the Magic who used to do that part there. There was another performer in the audience in the theater. His shtick with the family he talked to was cute, but we’d learn over the next two shows that no matter what character he was playing his shtick stayed the same. Not really acting.....

After that, I was exhausted (I had a massive headache during most of this trip sadly, and had gotten almost no sleep so far). I went back to the cabin and crashed and mom went out to party. I think she came back around 2am!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 2 - February 26

Today we woke up nice and early so we could be at Animal Kingdom close to park opening. We opted for breakfast at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Food Court at French Quarter. Although we liked the decor, and the seeming abundance of things to order - we weren’t crazy with the food itself. I went for an omelet. It had been pre-cooked and sitting under a heat lamp for what seems like an eternity based on the taste. Mom wanted beignets, which meant waiting in far too long of a line. Plus, the finished product was very heavy, not light and airy like she was expecting.

Ceiling at Sassagoula Floatworks

After breakfast we made our way to Animal Kingdom and got there just as they started letting guests in. We headed straight back for the Kilimanjaro Safari (doesn’t everyone?). Usually at park open this is nearly a walk on ride. Well it got hung up as we were about 2 cars back from getting loaded. And then they allowed fast passers in, so they took the first couple of cars once it started moving again. Finally we were on our way. I’m not generally a fan of this attraction because I’ve never gotten very up close and personal with the animals on it. That was not the case today! Our first up close encounter was with a giraffe. He walked RIGHT in front of us - we worried he would block the way, but he crossed the road and walked next to us within just a couple of feet of us. As we got further down he decided to graze in the path of the cars. We were too far to see much other than the 4 vehicles caught up behind him - but everyone ended up having to stop until they got him cleared. A little further up we had our second close encounter with the white rhinos. Three decided to take a drink in the water on the roadway. Two were standing off to the side but the third was smack dab in the middle of the road and not showing any interest in moving. I think we sat there almost 10 minutes. The big guy finally started to move off just as the cast members were getting close to coming and trying to move him along. The other up close encounter was not animal related. It was with the HORRIBLE comb-over on the driver of our vehicle. Men, if you are reading this, do NOT do the comb-over. I realize it may be hard to go bald at such a young age. But it if you are that self conscious about it, SHAVE YOUR HEAD. Not only does it look better, but the confidence to walk around with your bald head is WAY sexier (at least to this girl) than your comb-over!


Comb Over

After the safari we hit up our other favorites. We even snuck in a trip to the Festival of the Lion King before lunch. Man is it a hike to get back to that show!

Lunch was first for us - we did table service at Yak and Yeti and it was YUMMY! Mom went for the tempura shrimp which was a nice small portion (good for her) and beautifully presented. I went for the Sweet and Sour Chicken and some wonton soup. Both were very good. Service was excellent.

After lunch we went back to French Quarter to relax for a few minutes and grab jackets for our night at Epcot. We had 6pm ADRs at Teppen Edo so we didn’t have a TON of time, but did get a quick ride on Spaceship Earth, enjoyed some of the topiaries already out for Flower and Garden, and then shopped our way over to Japan for dinner.

Teppen Edo was YUMMY as always. We spotted something new on the menu, pork! So I ordered the chicken, mom ordered the pork, and we shared. I have to was a very nice addition to the menu. We were seated with a Japanese family currently living in San Jose, CA. This made for the most interesting experience I’ve had at a Japanese restaurant as they showed us some of their traditions. For example, folding the paper from the chopsticks into a little rest for your chopsticks to lay on when not in use. The father also ordered a saki sampler and then talked with us about the different saki’s and how they varied.

After dinner we shopped our way towards Italy, where we were attending the special WDW Radio / MEI Mousefan Dessert Party. Once we arrived at Italy we found some other WDW Radio people so we chatted for a while while we waited to check in and head over to the dessert party. Now, I’m not generally a huge fan of fireworks and the nighttime shows like that at WDW. Mom always is amazed by this. I think its because the centennial fireworks at my college were so amazing I just haven’t seen anything that I feel compares. But watching Illuminations from the Dessert Party was INCREDIBLE. First of all, we felt like were were IN the action since we were watching from Italy on a section basically out on the water. Second of all, it was closer than any time we’ve seen it before - so we were actually able to SEE what was on that ball in the center of the lagoon! I had no idea! Oh...and the dessert wasn’t bad either....yummy cupcakes!

After the dessert party mom and I made our way back to the park front (with a shopping stop at the Duffy store and Mouse Gears of course - had to get a Sailor suit for my new Duffy bear to wear on the cruise!) and back to the hotel to repack for the cruise the next day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 1 - February 25

Our first day of the trip started NICE and early since both of us had 6am flights. I slept like a BABY the night before. Mom didn’t sleep at all due to a major storm pending. She was terrified she wouldn’t get out. It was raining and cold when I left, so we did have a slight delay for de-icing, but nothing major.

Mom greeted me at my gate in Orlando - easy to do since we both flew Southwest this time and our gates / times were near each other. We grabbed coffee and food for me at Starbucks since I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day. Then it was off to the Magical Express!

We had just one stop before our destination of Port Orleans French Quarter. It was Old Key West. As the oldest Vacation Club Owners I know (mom bought in 1992) Old Key West holds a special place in my heart. It was fun to pull up and see it even if only for a few minutes. The stop was quick and we were off to French Quarter.

The last time we stayed at a moderate resort was probably around 1989 or 1990 when we were at WDW on the trip mom had won off a local radio station. We stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort. I remember little about the resort. After that we stayed Yacht Club concierge and since then its been DVC all the way. So this was the first experience in a moderate that I really remembered.

My initial thoughts were that the resort was very well themed and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Our room wasn’t ready - I expected that being like 10am. That said, with DVC we are used to being able to get our room even when we check in early - I mean that is part of the advantage of marking your arrival time during the online check in process right? Well, our room was not available - and we were not offered an alternative such as a different room. We had asked originally to be near transportation and ended up assigned to building 3 which was a lovely location. Nice and close to the lobby and bus transportation. A bit of a walk towards the boat transportation - however we decided the noise from the boats (and people getting on and off of them) might be annoying at night so we liked our location. We were given our room keys, pointed towards bell services to store our luggage, and told we’d get a text message when our room was ready.

Once our items were stowed at bell services we headed off for Downtown Disney. The boat took a bit longer to get to DTD then I was expecting, but it was a nice ride. It was fun to see Saratoga Springs from that vantage point. Mom added on points at Saratoga a few years back - but we haven’t stayed yet, and I haven’t been other than to the bus stop. Man is that place BIG!

We got off the ship at DTD and headed directly for the Earl of Sandwich. Somehow, May 2010 was our first time eating here...and boy were we missing out. Since the day this trip was planned I was looking forward to going back (I’m told there’s one opening up in New York City and I’ll have to make some additional trips into the city when that happens I think.... ). On our first trip we each got a sandwich and split them. I got the Caprese sandwich. We couldn’t quite remember what mom had, but we remembered liking hers more. We decided to try the Earl’s Club. And I wanted the Caprese again (I love me some tomato and mozzarella!). We also got some potato salad which I remembered enjoying. Upon first bite of my Caprese I remembered why we liked moms sandwich better the last time. While I love tomato and mozz - I am NOT a fan of balsamic - and this sandwich is loaded with it. MUST remember to ask for no balsamic next time. The Earls Club was tasty - but not as tasty as last year’s sandwich. I’m thinking last year we had the BLT.

After lunch we did some shopping. I controlled myself at Tren-D. Just purchased a pink tshirt like my green burnout one I bought there last year. This was MUCH less than what I spent there last May! We worked our way towards West End so I could go to D Street for Vinylmation. (For those not familiar with vinylmation check here ). The Nerds series had just been released and I was so excited to see them! I ended up buying 6 vinylmation total that day - four 40th anniversary vinyls (the 4 parks ) and two nerds (Mickey and Pluto ). This seemed steep $74.50, but I had $75 in a visa gift card that I was awarded from work so in the end that seemed like a great way to spend that unexpected cash!

After D Street I got the text that our room was ready so we decided to head back to the resort. One of the reasons we’d chosen French Quarter rather than Riverside for our pre-cruise stay was because we’d read that the bus stops at French Quarter single stop before going to all the stops at Riverside. For some reason this was NOT the case on the bus from Downtown Disney. So we got a bus tour of Riverside, and then ended up getting off at the main Riverside stop to explore Riverside and walk back to French Quarter. On the way I got word from Darlene (zeusywoo for my disney friends!) that she and Keith were done at Animal Kingdom and headed back to Beach Club. We had talked about meeting up for dinner so we made plans to meet up that night at Boardwalk to try out Big River Grille.

View at Riverside

Mom enjoying the view

We stopped at Bell Services to pick up our carryon items, and were told that our checked bags had arrived, but not been checked in yet so we couldn’t have them just yet. We headed up to our room. I must say, the room at FQ was bigger than I was expecting. The room itself was bigger then some DVC studio rooms when you exclude the bathroom and the DVC kitchenette. The decor was quaint. We liked the dual pedestal sinks in the bath area. The curtain dividing the bathroom area from the rest of the room - and the lack of a real closet were strange. The room with the tub and shower was SMALL and very dark. In fact overall we felt the room felt dark. But the beds seemed comfy. We were surprised to still have a giant television in the room. Amazing how much space that thing takes up. While we were relaxing for a few our bags showed up. Mom did a little organizing and then we headed off towards Boardwalk to meet Darlene.

French Quarter Building

Mickey Towel

Our plan had been to catch a bus to Downtown Disney and transfer to a Boardwalk Bus. Well....we sat..and sat...and sat...and sat...and every bus came by 2-3 times except a downtown disney bus. The third time a Hollywood Studios bus showed up I decided we should get on it..I mean...we’d been waiting over 45 minutes..and I knew we could grab a boat or walk to Boardwalk from the Studios. Mom insisted that a DTD bus probably showed up as soon as we boarded the DHS bus..but I didn’t care...I was happy to be moving!

We arrived at Boardwalk and Big River Grille to meet Darlene. SOOOOOOOOOOOO great to meet her after all the tweeting/facebook/emails/phone calls over the past 15 months. While we waited for our table we shopped a bit at Boardwalk. Our pager rang quickly and we were treated to a nice table outside. For those of you who haven’t eaten at Big River - request an outside table! Not only do you get to enjoy the ambiance of the Boardwalk and view of the Yacht and Beach Clubs, but it is much more spacious and more quiet than the strange indoor seating at this restaurant. After perusing the menu all three of us decided to try the Big Brew Cheeseburger with kettle chips. YUMMY!!!!!! I would definitely recommend this restaurant for those in the area.

After dinner we decided to walk a bit. Darlene wanted to drop of some food for Keith, who had stayed at the Beach Club resting due to a headache. We headed into the Beach Club store to do some window shopping, and after a few minutes someone asked our group “Darlene is that you”. Turns out I’m not the only one who recognizes Darlene’s voice. It was Vicki from Mousefan - who was all of our travel agent. We stood and chatted with Vicki for a LONG time. Then we continued our walk/shopping over at the yacht club. Then we decided we were exhausted so mom and I headed to the bus stop to work our way back to French Quarter. This time we decided instead of bus to bus transfers we’d take the bus to DTD and then walk to the boat launch and take the boat over to French Quarter. Not sure if this was faster than bus transfers. But we enjoyed the trip!