Sunday - November 25, 2007

Our plan was to get up at 6 a.m., the coffee pot was programmed and the RV was packed. Shortly after 4 a.m. I was tossing and turning, watching the clock so after about 45 minutes I decided to get up. I got the dogs fed, turned the coffee pot on, checked my e-mail and listened to Gary complain about being up so early.


We had coffee, got showered and while Gary was doing some final checks on the motor home I picked up and cleaned up a few last minute things. We got the dogs loaded and did the final check of the brake lights and turn signals for the tow car and we were on our way, it was 6:36 a.m. We made a quick coffee stop at Tim Horton’s, it would be a while before we had a Tim’s again (explanation for our American friends – once you have had Tim Horton’s coffee, Starbucks is no longer good enough!). We crossed the border at the 1000 Island bridge, there was no-one in line at customs so we passed through really quickly - we were in the states and officially on our way to MouseFest 2007

It was a little overcast but there was very little sign of the snow from the previous day . . . and then, just about an hour past Watertown we had to put our sunglasses on, the sky was clear and the sun was shining, a good start to the adventure.


We stopped in Syracuse at The Christmas Tree Shop and I filled a cart.  We only had an hour, which was probably a good thing, since we had planned to meet Dave and his family in Binghamton for lunch. We pulled into the Cracker Barrel right on time and they were waiting for us. Dave and Gary loaded Tagrel’s MouseFest supplies into the trunk of our tow car and then we went in for lunch.

Maddy, Brinn, Zak & Zoë

The whole gang in the motorhome

We had a really nice visit with Dave, Kristen, Brinn and Maddy over lunch, then the girls wanted to see Zak & Zoë so we all went out to the RV. We had a little photo session and a bit more chitchat. It was soon time for us to hit the road so we said our goodbyes, knowing we would be seeing them in a week and a half.


The drive through Pennsylvania was very good, the sun shone all the way and the traffic wasn’t too bad. We got to the KOA Park in Jonestown, PA just after dark but managed to get hooked up and settled by 6 p.m.  We were both tired since we were up so early so we just went out and grabbed a quick bite. It was a short night, early to bed!


Monday - November 26, 2007

Once again we were wide-awake way too early in the morning but until we get to our final destination this is probably going to be the norm. It had poured rain all night and being in an RV the rain hitting the roof can be either lulling or bothersome. For Gary and Zak it was lulling but for Zoë and I it was disruptive. The rain did let up about 5:30 a.m. so I took the dogs out, by then Gary was starting the “get ready to go” process. I find that the more time we have to get moving in the morning the more time it takes, by the time we packed up, fed dogs, had coffee, hooked the car up and lashed the dogs down it was 7:36 a.m.


We drove through various levels of rain; it’s was a very dreary drive. We made one stop at a Wal-Mart for supplies around 10 a.m. and then straight on through. I found the drive today to be very tiresome and I was glad to see the KOA in Wytheville, Virginia. We arrived about 4:30 and it was nice to be able to set up in daylight. The campground has a special dog park so Zak had some “fetch the ball” time.


We decided to go into the town and have dinner at a Chinese restaurant, the food was very good. We both must have Disney on the mind because I said that the place reminded me of the Nine Dragons in EPCOT and Gary said the music reminded him of the Country Bear Jamboree.


Not too much exciting but the day brought us one day closer to MouseFest! 

Tuesday - November 27, 2007

This early morning thing has got to end soon.  I woke up at 4:30 and tossed and turned, trying to get back to sleep.  At 5:30 I knew it wasn’t going to happen so I “accidentally” woke Gary up.  Once he was finished grumbling he got the RV unhooked, re-hitched the car and had a quick bowl of cereal before his shower.  We were on the road at 7:18 a.m.

We were able to cover ground quickly today.  We had gassed up before pulling into the campground yesterday, so we didn’t need a fuel stop.  For those who are interested, the motorhome is gas powered and has a Ford Triton V10 engine.  The fill-up took 70.91 gallons and cost $209.39.  We had covered 510 miles since the last fill-up, so that works out to 8.63 miles per gallon.  At this rate the trip to Fort Wilderness and back home will cost us $975 for gasoline.  Fortunately once we are out of the mountains the fuel efficiency will jump to a whopping 9.5 mpg so our final gas bill will be a little lower, probably about $900.  We are not complaining though - in Canada we currently pay about $4.00 per gallon, so your $3.00 per gallon prices look quite good to us.

The day started out dull and dreary with sprinkles of rain, but by 8:00 the sun broke through and we were wearing our sunglasses. One of my favourite parts of the drive south is when we are leaving Virginia and coming down through the Blue Ridge Mountains into North Carolina, the vista is amazing, you can see for miles. I have noticed as we tour around, that each state or province maintains their road and landscapes differently. I think that the Carolina’s are lovely, the medians and shoulders are landscaped so nicely. As we entered into South Carolina we both start our watch for the first sighting of a palm tree. At 10:46 we spotted our first palm trees!  It’s official – we’re in the south!

Our campsite in Walterboro, SC

The drive right through to the campground in Walterboro, SC was easy going, we arrived and were set up by 2 o’clock so we had lots of time to play with the dogs and then tour around the town a bit. We had a nice dinner and then back to the campground.

Tomorrow we go as far as St. Augustine, we will stay there for 3 nights before we leave for Disney. I am looking forward to some beach time and of course the Disney Character store in the outlet mall.

Wednesday - November 28, 2007

Today I actually didn’t wake up at 4:00 a.m.! We woke up to a beautiful day, clear skies and sunshine. We were on the road at 8:04 a.m. and were quickly travelling down I-95. At exactly 9:00 a.m. we crossed the Savannah River into Georgia, there was a stand of palm trees to welcome us - we knew we were truly in the south. We continued down I-95 towards Florida with Vince Gill playing on the stereo. The drive though Georgia was sunshine all the way to the state line. We crossed into Florida at 11:30 a.m. and drove directly into cloud covered skies. We stopped at the visitors centre for our first taste of Florida orange juice (it’s the same stuff we buy in the grocery store at home but it tastes better when you drink it in Florida). I picked up some information brochures for St. Augustine and a few for the Florida Keys.  We are planning a trip to the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival and then on to the Keys this April.  We were back on the road by noon.

We stopped for lunch just outside Jacksonville at a Cracker Barrel, it is Wednesday and that means it’s Chicken Pot pie day.  Yum! We then continued down the road towards the North Beach Camp Resort where we are booked in for 3 nights. Our exit into St. Augustine is right at the Prime Outlets so we stopped at the Disney Character store. I got a few things but they really didn’t have too much that I wanted. I’ll go back Friday night as they have a pin trading from 6pm to 8pm. 

We didn’t take too long to get set up, the North Beach Camp Resort is beautiful, it is right on the ocean and the individual sites are quite secluded. We took the dogs for a run on the beach, they needed a good romp after 3 days of driving, even Zoë raced around a bit, she hardly ever runs.

We decided that we had had enough driving so we walked to a restaurant on the beach called The Reef, it was very good but by then it was dark so there wasn’t much of a view but we could hear the waves crashing on the beach. After dinner Gary went for a sit in the hot tub and I sat down to write this trip report. It was a good day, no rushing and we are in Florida. Tomorrow we will be tourists in the oldest city in the country.

The beach across from our St. Augustine campground.

A wind-swept Zoë on the beach Zak just loves to chase his ball on the beach

Thursday - November 29, 2007

Today we didn’t have to get up and pack up, we have until Saturday before we head out to Disney. That doesn’t mean we slept in but it was nice not to have to rush off anywhere. After coffee and breakfast Gary went out and washed the car and the motorhome. They were both pretty gritty from the drive down. I did some cleaning inside and then took the dogs for a nice walk.

We left the campground about 10 a.m. and drove towards Anastasia Island. We made a quick stop at the Christmas store, just to look around, I didn’t buy anything. We then continued on to the Island and stopped at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. It is a very pretty spot and the community has done a wonderful restoration job. We both walked up the 219 steps, it’s something I am glad we did but I know I won’t be doing it again. I could feel muscles I didn’t know I had! The view from the top was quite nice even though it was hazy over the ocean, it would be amazing I am sure if it had been a clear day.  

By the time we had climbed down those 219 steps it was time for lunch so we continued to drive along the ocean until we found a really quaint diner called the Oasis. We both ordered seafood and it was really good. After lunch we drove around for another 2 hours or so and then headed back to camp. We wanted to have some time to take the dogs back over to the beach and it was starting to cloud up again with the possibility of showers.

The Anastasia Island lighthouse - 219 steps - Ouch!
View from the lighthouse - we are camped at North Beach, on the island just above Gary's right shoulder. The beach at our campground
Zak just loves the beach

The dogs had a good romp on the beach before the rain started, Zak chased his ball and Zoë chased the pelicans that were flying over us. Since we had a big lunch we decided to stay in for the evening and just BBQ a couple of hotdogs for dinner. It was a really nice relaxing day and we plan to have another lazy-butt day tomorrow.

Friday - November 30, 2007



Well, my forecast came true – it was another lazy-butt day.  I was ready to sleep in until about 9:00 a.m. but Gary woke me at about 6:45 a.m. – THANKS!  (He said it was just pay back time.)  We had a very slow start, read some e-mails, walked the dogs and then went shopping.  One stop at the Wal-Mart Superstore was all we needed; then we spent some time touring the Historic District in Old St. Augustine.  We had a late lunch at Scarlett O’Hara’s before heading back to the campground.  Gary did a bit of packing up since we are moving on to Fort Wilderness tomorrow.

A church in the Historic District

In the Historic District Zoë chases a squadron of pelicans

We both had a short nap and awoke to find the sun shining for the first time today.  We jumped out of bed dragged ourselves out of bed and took the dogs to the beach.  Zak chased his ball until there was just no more chase left in him.  Zoë scattered a few squadrons of pelicans while we were on the beach and Zak chased away a sandpiper.  By the time we were done Zak’s tongue was hanging out and covered with sand.

We had eaten a big lunch, so dinner was a quick sandwich before we headed out to the Disney Character Store for their Friday night pin-trading meet.  It was good fun.  Joe, the Cast Member who runs the pin trading nights, has things well organized and seems to delight in tormenting folks with his slow drawl as he calls numbers in the “Pingo” game.  There were several games and a pin trading board.  There were about 20 people there and they all seemed to know each other quite well.  We were the "token Canadians" and they made us feel quite welcome . . . but of course not welcome enough to win the Pingo game.

After a bit of trading we drove through the historic district to see the Christmas lights.  It is wonderfully done!  We drove down a few of the narrow old cobbled streets which seemed very tight in our Corolla and Gary said, “I wouldn’t want to be down here in the motorhome.”  I told him, “The motorhome would never fit – not even close.”

We stopped for an ice cream cone on the way back to the campground and then settled in to watch a bit of TV before bed. Tomorrow we are off to Disney!

Saturday - December 1, 2007

Today we were up at 7:00 and Gary got busy disconnecting the motorhome while I battened down everything inside which might bounce around during the trip.  We stopped to top up the propane tank before leaving the campground and were on the road by 8:30 a.m.  Traffic was light and even after we made a few stops along the way, we pulled in to Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground by noon.

We had requested site #317, the same one we had last year, and it wasn’t ready yet, so we pulled into the main parking lot and unhooked the tow car.  After it was uncoupled, we drove the car to the 300 loop.  They had just finished cleaning the site, so we turned right around and brought the motorhome in to the site.  It took less than 30 minutes to do the normal hook-ups and then we set Zak & Zoë up guarding the Tagrel cargo while we spent about two hours putting up our tacky Christmas décor.  Our campsite looks like it belongs in the Griswald trailer park, but we pale in comparison to some of the sites nearby.  We have 5 inflatable Christmas characters but some of our neighbours have as many as 25.  It really is a Christmas wonderland here in the campground.

Zak & Zoë guarding the Tagrel cargo

Dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern

After we finished decorating we had a brief rest and then caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom for our 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at Liberty Tree Tavern.  It’s always a great meal there and tonight was no different.  All the usual characters, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Goofy and Pluto dropped by and posed for pictures with us.

After dinner we experienced the new Haunted Mansion ride.  They have made some great new changes.  We will have to ride a few more times to get a real feel for them.

SpectroMagic was underway when we came out from the Mansion so we ducked down the back trail behind the Christmas store, past the Crystal Palace and into the Emporium.  We crossed Main Street to Uptown Jewellers (I just had to look at some pins) and then went on down the street to the exit.  It had been a long day, so we were glad to just sit and watch the 9:00 fireworks show from the boat as we made our way back to Fort Wilderness.  The timers had all of our lights turned on when we got back to the motorhome – it looks great!

Our camp site at night

Sunday - December 2, 2007

Today we finally got off to a slow start.  We both stayed in bed until after 7:00 a.m. and then enjoyed a few leisurely cups of coffee before we really got started with anything.  I fussed with a few more decorations, got my Mickey Ears wreath hung on the front of the motorhome, etc.  Gary took the bikes down from the bike rack and washed the road grime off them.  Zak and Zoë had a good romp on the dog walk along the river directly behind our campsite.

Lunchtime was rolling around so we hopped in the car and drove over to the Crossroads.  In all the years I have been coming to Walt Disney World I have never made it to Mitzi’s Hallmark Store, so today was the day.  I am a big Disney collector and I have quite a number of Disney Classics pieces, so it was a real treat to see the large display they have.  Nothing called out to me that I had to take it home, so we moved on the Disney Character Outlet Store on Vineland.  Once again I didn’t find any treasures.  Our last stop was Wal-Mart but there wasn’t anything there I wanted either.

We headed back to the RV where we walked the dogs and had a short nap before heading off to MGM Studios.  This was the first time that we have had a car at Disney so we decided to drive instead of taking the bus. I have to say, it is much faster and a whole lot less annoying. We got to MGM in no time flat. As we walked up Hollywood Boulevard the Public Works Crew started a performance beside the Hollywood & Vine Restaurant.  Gary was the first one picked to participate in their skit.  It ended up that almost everyone in the crowd was involved, but I stayed back to take pictures.

Gary with the Public Works Crew

The Osborne Family Lights

After Gary’s Academy Award performance we walked through the crowds on The Streets of America to the Studio Catering Company Flatbread Grill.  Alas, they have changed the menu and the flatbreads are gone.  Boo!  The hot dog and chicken wrap we had just didn’t measure up.  We’ll miss the old menu.

The Osborne Family Lights

The Osborne Family Lights

Gary broke out his tripod and his new camera and started snapping the Osborne lights.  He got some good shots, much better than with the old camera.  I can’t wait to see what it does with fireworks.  By 9:00 p.m. we were winding down so we drove on back to Fort Wilderness, again I commented on how nice it was to not have to deal with buses.  Gary set up the tripod again and took a few shots of our site before we crashed for the night.

Monday - December 3, 2007

Today we took a walk down memory lane.  Back in 1977, about 20 years before Gary and I were a couple, each of us visited the Magic Kingdom for the first time.  At the time the bank we both worked for owned a travel company which sold packaged vacations.  On Wednesday of each week our branches would receive a fax describing last minute packages available at rock-bottom prices.  If you could drop everything and leave in a day or two, you could spend a week at the Magic Kingdom for about $100 per person – this included flight, hotel, breakfasts and a rental car.  When Gary and I were taking our first trip to WDW together in 1998 we spent some time reminiscing about our previous trips and discovered that we took our first trips about a week apart.  I was there the last week in October 1977 and Gary was there the week before.  I stayed at the Marriott on Sand Lake Road near International Drive and Gary stayed at the Court of Flags on International.  So today we hopped in the car to drive down International Drive and see if it has changed any . . . WOW . . . has it ever!  Virtually nothing is recognizable.  The Marriott is now the Wyndham and we never did figure out what became of the Court of Flags.  The only thing which has not changed a bit is the IHOP.  Now we feel much older and not a bit wiser!

We stopped for a bit of shopping at the Disney Character Outlet on International Drive and then returned to the campground for lunch at Trail’s End.  We both had a swim after lunch and then took the dogs out for some exercise before we caught the boat to the Magic Kingdom.

We arrived as they were lighting the castle so we had a few photopass pictures taken and then set up the tripod to get a few of our own.  Gary continues to be pleased with his new camera.

Cinderella Castle looks great this year!

Waiting for the fireworks

We walked over to Pecos Bill’s for a burger.  They have a great fixin’s bar.  After our very messy burgers we walked to the Haunted Mansion and rode it again to absorb some of the new features.  It’s much better now!  

Spectromagic was due to begin as we left the Mansion so we ducked around the back of Cinderella Castle on our way to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear.  Gary beat me at Buzz, but not by much. We then went to the Tomorrowland Terrace to watch and photograph the fireworks. After Wishes we wandered down Main Street and then headed back to Fort Wilderness after a long day.

Fireworks behind Cinderella Castle

Tuesday - December 4, 2007

It was a bit chilly when we woke up, the temperatures had dropped but it actually felt good. We got ready a little quicker than usual since we wanted to get to Animal Kingdom early. It was a perfect day for this park, not a cloud in the sky and not hot. We headed right over to the Kilimanjaro Safari to ride it first but when we got there the line was very long. We decided rather than wait we would get a fastpass and go over to Expedition Everest. When I went to get the fast pass the machine broke down, by the time the cast member helped me out we ended up with 4 passes.

The Flights of Wonder Show

As we were walking over to Everest the Flights of Wonder was just starting so we sidetracked into the show, we both really enjoy this show and make sure we see it every trip. After the show we continued over to Everest. The line was very short and we got right on the train. I really like this ride but when I get off I walk like a drunken sailor for about 5 minutes. On our way out we grabbed a fastpass so we could ride again and then went back to the safari.

We rode the safari twice and even in the short period of time between rides the animals had moved around a lot and we were able to get some different views. After the rides we walked back to the Yak & Yeti for our 12:30 ADR.

We were seated immediately and decided we would make this our big meal for the day. We ordered the egg rolls & pot stickers for appetizers and then the honey chicken and lo mien noodles with chicken. When the waitress delivered our food to the table Gary asked if I was going to take pictures, I said no, that’s MargaretJ’s job. The food was excellent and so was the service. We were full but wanted to sample the fired wontons and pineapple dessert so we shared one, again it was very good. We certainly will return another time.

Kilimanjaro Safari Ride

Downtown Disney at night

After lunch we used our fastpass for Everest and then walked through the park towards the exit. It was time to return to the campground and spend some time with the dogs.

We left the camp about 5 o’clock and drove to Downtown Disney, Gary had his camera and I had my pins. I did some pin trading and Gary took lots of pictures. We had a sandwich at the Earl of Sandwich, I had the original beef but Gary tried the Holiday special, it was turkey, dressing, cranberries, gravy and cheese, it was very tasty. After we finished eating I did a bit more pin trading and Gary read his book. It was getting pretty cool so we decided to head back to the campground and actually turned the furnace on for a few minutes to take the edge off.

Wednesday - December 5, 2007

It’s time, MouseFest is starting today so we were up early and on our way to EPCOT by 8:30 a.m.  We wanted to take in a couple of rides before meeting Topaz and the gang at Le Cellier for lunch. Our first stop was the Pin Station so I could check out the new releases. While I was doing that Gary was taking pictures of the fountain. We then went over to Test Track and actually walked on the ride. After Test Track Gary wanted to ride Mission Space but I decided not to, I can do the green side but it isn’t really may favourite so Gary was able to go on the orange side. While he was dodging asteroids I was shopping in Mouse Gear. We meet in the middle court and walked over to Imagination and rode Figment. When we got off the ride Susan (Topaz) and Nancy (Kathleena) were standing there so we walked with them over to the Canadian Pavilion where we met up with the rest of our lunch partners. (BriarRose, Lynner, SusanL, Daddio, LimeGreenCheri, BetsyAnn, Elaine)

Topaz, Kathleena, Elaine, Lynner, SusanL, BriarRose, BetsyAnne, Zakerdog

We were all able to sit together and we had a wonderful lunch, Gary & I left right after lunch so that we could get back to the campsite in time to meet Dave and deliver the MouseFest goodies. It was a relief for Zak and Zoë; they didn’t have to be guard dogs anymore.  The job had been very stressful for them!

"Begin at the End" Meet at Trail's End

We were driving into the 300 loop when we spotted FLSharon and GroupHugJohn just setting up, they were talking with Dinkybean, her husband Mamoru and AUBandPilot so we stopped and chatted with them. They all came back to our site to have a look-see and to visit with Zak & Zoë. By then it was time to get to the Begin at the End Meet, so we all walked over to the Trails End together. When we arrived it was like old home week, everyone hugging and laughing, it was great. The attendees were:

WillCAD, MikeS, AUBandPilot, Robin, Tracy and Zach, TiggerTails57 & Debbe, Rosebud, Zakerdog & Cruiser, Torgo, Tagrel, FLSharon and GroupHugJohn, WDWR, Twirlergirl & Dave, Barrie, Daddio, Cshore, Dennyha & M'Lisse, WDWNJ & BigRed, TomInPok, Ripkinsnana (Carol), Dinkybean758 & Mamoru. It was a great meet, WillCAD & MikeS – thanks.

After dinner everyone went their separate ways, Tagrel, Dinkybean & Mamoru walked back with us to our site, they wanted to see some of the Christmas lights so Gary drove them around the campground. I stayed back and fed the dogs and got ready for our next meet at Pleasure Island.

SusanL and LimeGreenCheri

MargaretJ on stage at teh Comedy Warehouse

We got to Pleasure Island and met up with everyone, there were about 45 Tags who converged on the Comedy Warehouse. The show was great and we all had lots of laughs. After the show was over we went to the Adventures Club, it was very busy and our group was scattered throughout. Gary and I sat with Will and watched the library show, it was okay but I really liked the Comedy Warehouse show better. We decided that we should get back to the camp, we were both tired. All in all it was a great start to MouseFest.

Thursday - December 6, 2007

Today was a very slow start . . . at last.  Zoë woke us up at 7:00 a.m. as usual, but Gary managed to take her out and then head back to bed for some more sleep.  We got up shortly after 8:00 a.m. and relaxed with coffee for a while.  Then I had to do a few loads of laundry while I prepared some of the things I will need for some of the meets we will participate in over the next few days.  Gary took the dogs out for a walk and chatted with some of our neighbours around the 300 loop. 

LimeGreenCheri, BetsyAnn, DebWills & dizfan7 - that big red belly on the right isn't Santa, that's Gary

After a BBQ’d hot dog for lunch at the motorhome Gary hopped in the car in search of a Home Depot store.  We really need a 12” acrylic lamp globe to complete our outdoor Mickey lamp.  He had no luck finding a globe and got back to the campground at 2:00 p.m. when he was immediately greeted by Johnnie Black.  John & Erin had moved into a site three spots down from ours while he was out.  After chatting with John he barely had time for a nap and shower before we headed off to the Polynesian Resort for the Tagrel Moderators dinner at Ohana.  What a great time that was!  There were about 45 of us in a somewhat private area of the restaurant.  Gary and I sat with LimeGreenCheri, BetsyAnn, DebWills, dizfan7. I just love the food there and ate my share. 

After dinner Gary & I caught the monorail to the MVMCP at the Magic Kingdom. We decided to have some photo pass pictures done and take advantage of the discount available for the holiday package. We ran around searching out the photographers and then raced back to the Exposition Hall to get our package before the line-ups started. We got lucky with the pictures, the CM made an error in printing one of them and had to redo the whole package so we got both sets for the price of one.  Eight PhotoPass pictures for less than $20.00 – WOW!

The Dapper Dans in front of the Train Station

  The Christmas Parade - Santa's Float is coming!

It was then time to meet everyone in the Rose Garden to watch the fireworks. This annual event is the real kick off to MouseFest in my mind, it really is quite special. After the fireworks quite a few of us followed Tacey  & WDWR over to It’s a Small World for the first annual Small World meet. We had 3 boatloads and it was a blast. Lots of laughs and flying gift bags, I’m not sure how we managed to finish the ride without a voice coming over the loud speaker asking us to behave. By the time the ride was over it was time for Gary and I to get back to the dogs, we hated to leave because it was a perfect night for the party. The weather was great and it was not very crowded.

Ray Sharpton has his scooter all decorated for the season! Heading to the "Small World Meet"

Tacey makes sure we all get boarded before she starts lobbing candy bombs at us!e

We caught the boat back to the campground and then hopped on our bikes and rode to the site. We were both tired after such a fun filled day.  

Friday - December 7, 2007


You know its MouseFest when you get up at 6:30 a.m. and hit the floor running! We got to Animal Kingdom at 8:30 a.m. with Zak & Zoë in tow. We were able to park in the special needs parking lot, the walk to the kennel was very short. I went in to get the dogs registered and Gary stayed out near the entrance with them so that our Tag friends could get a chance to meet the dogs in person. Everyone was on his or her way to the Kilimanjaro Safari meet. It was great fun and the dogs were getting lots of attention. After we got the dogs settled in the kennel, Gary went over to Everest to get fast passes while I went directly to Africa.

Zak & Zoë arriving at Animal Kingdom

Bookwood, Moley, Booger & Elaine waiting for their safari ride!

There was a huge crowd there, lots of familiar faces and lots of new. Deb and Fred got everyone organized for a group picture and then we all proceeded through the fastpass line. I think the CM’s just wanted us to get out of the way but it was really nice to just walk right in.

We had a great ride and saw lots of animals – the male lion was front and centre!  

After the safari we all hurried to Expedition Everest where we had a group picture and then all walked down the fastpass line to the train. It was so much fun, our entire train went the whole ride with arms in the air screaming. 

The lion was sound asleep at The Coppies

Tags on Expedition Everest

Tags who survived their challenge at Expedition Everest

When we finished the ride Gary & I decided to go out to the kennel and take Zak & Zoë over to MGM. When we got the dogs out we were able to have their pictures taken by PhotoPass and even got a picture with Rafiki. The CM asked if we wanted pictures with the other characters but Zak was quite frightened of Rafiki so we passed. 

The dogs enjoying phase one of their ParkHopper Day

Zak & Zoë with Rafiki

We drove over to MGM and got the dogs settled in the kennel, we joked that they had a “Park Hopper” kennel pass.  Our first stop was the Animation Gallery where Gary bought my Christmas gift – the new “Mickey’s Gala Premiere” Cel (framed with pin).  We were disappointed that David Rippberger, the cel artist we have gotten to know, wasn’t there.  He usually has a few postcards of the cel signed by all the artists and gives us a copy.  Maybe we can catch him before we go.  I’ll do my best to act surprised on Christmas morning.  

We had some lunch and since we had some time before the Stop Drop & Roll meet, we watched the Little Mermaid and then walked through One Mans Dream.  We had a quick ice cream on our way to Rock’n Roller Coaster. The Tags were gathering, everyone got their fastpass and then walked over to the Tower of Terror. I think we had 3 or 4 elevators full of Taginators, all screaming and laughing, then we all went back over for the drop portion of the meet. The CM was really great and let everyone, all 50 Tags, through the fastpass line even though some of the times hadn’t come up yet. I was one of the wall huggers but Gary had a good ride.

Deb Wills with Zoë & Zak(Ooops - that should be Zak & Zoë with Deb Wills)

We had planned to stay a bit longer but we were both hot and tired and felt bad that the dogs were at the kennel so we went to get them. While I was "springing" the dogs we ran into Deb Wills and Robin. I also found out from Robin that the CM working in the kennel, Anna, is James daughter. We chatted for a bit and then got the dogs back to the RV, I think they were pretty happy about that. 

After some barbequed burgers at the motorhome we headed over to the Beach Club Resort for the Gift Exchange meet held in the solarium. This meet is one of our favourites; we had so much fun. BriarRose and SusanL do a wonderful job of hosting and it ran quickly and smoothly. There wasn’t a lot of stealing at the beginning but when it did start it caught on quickly. It should also be noted that Snickerdoodlesmommy finally went home with a robe.  We got back to the campground after midnight to rest up for a long day tomorrow.

Starzineyes4mickey gets her first gift

Someone's going to steal this for sure! Gift Exchange Group

Saturday - December 8, 2007


This morning we again hit the ground running, we had to get to EPCOT to set up for the Brunch at the Ball meet. We had a great turnout but the timing didn’t work the best this year. We arrived at 10:00 a.m. and had a chance to visit a bit and draw for a few door prizes but we needed to have the group photo taken around 10:30 so that the volunteers could get over to the Mega Meet. Once we got the picture taken everyone seemed to go his or her own way, so the meet was over faster than usual. Some of the Tags got lucky and were able to test ride Spaceship Earth as part of a "soft opening".

SusanL, BriarRose, CShore, BetsyAnn & Ripkinsnana at Brunch at the Ball

The group at Brunch at the Ball

It was getting pretty hot out so I decided to start over to the Swan and Dolphin at a leisurely pace. I caught the boat and rode over with quite a few other MouseFest people. When I got to the resort I was a bit early so I popped into the pin meet and chatted with a few fellow traders, I didn’t have my pins with me so I couldn't do any trading.

The Mega Meet was once again an outstanding event.  Over 1,300 dedicated Disney Fans congregated in a huge ballroom at the Dolphin Resort to meet Disney authors, webmasters, podcasters, travel agents and a number of companies which provide services to Disney travelers.  It's sort of like a trade show, but what an amazing opportunity to mix and mingle with Disney experts like Steve Barrett and Lou Mongello as well as "web celebrities" such as Deb Wills and Mike Scopa.  Gary and I both volunteer our services at this meet every year.  Gary worked at the Information Desk helping visitors find their way around while I worked at the table, explaining our virtual community to people.  After we finished our shifts we wandered the room and chatted with a number of friends that we had met from previous years events.  At 2:15 we headed for the parking lot and drove back to the Fort Wilderness Campground to spend some time resting with the dogs.

Tagrel table at the Mega Mouse Meet

A happy group at the Fantasmic Dessert Party

By 5:00 p.m. we were heading back, this time to Disney MGM Studios where we had a quick bite to eat before trying to walk through the Osborne Family Lights.  Wow - was it crowded.  About half way down New York Street we gave up and turned around.  We headed over to the Rock'n Roller Coaster area where we met up with the rest of our group for the special "Fantasmic Dessert Package" arranged for us by and   What a wonderful way to see this amazing show.  Our group of about 70 or 80 people had a special seating area in the 9,000-seat amphitheatre and enjoyed coffee and a variety of desserts throughout the show.  Once again Mickey Mouse prevailed and defeated the forces of evil.  The special viewing package also gave us the opportunity to return to the Osborne Family Lights after the park had closed for an "almost private" viewing.  When we were there at 6:00 p.m. to see the lights there were several thousand people on the street.  Now there were fewer than two hundred.  What a treat.  We stayed until the lights shut off at 9:00 p.m. and then drove back to the campground for a rest.  Tomorrow is another big day and another early start.

Sunday - December 9, 2007


Wow Ouch - what a day!  We eagerly sprang from our beds dragged our sorry butts out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and got away by 7:00 heading for the Kona Café.  The Tonga Toast Meet is always a great time and this was no exception.  There were 50 of us in a separate section of the restaurant and we had lots of chatter and laughs as we enjoyed their excellent breakfast fare.  The organizers, and did a terrific job and gave away lots of cool prizes.  I won a jumbo pin.

WDWNJ (John) explains the proper technique for inhaling Tonga Toast.  When breakfast arrived he gave a demonstration but I was too slow with the camera to capture it!

Deb Wills unveils the new AllEars logo, designed by our own Frogman.

We even got to see a little “Disney magic” happen.  One of the prizes was a copy of Steve Barrett’s book on Hidden Mickey’s and Steve was there to autograph it.  A woman at a table nearby, who was carrying her book, was just thrilled to see Steve and was even more thrilled when he came over and signed her book.  She’ll never forget this trip!

Some of the people there were good friends we would not see again on this trip so the time came time for some goodbye hugs and “See you next year’s”.

After returning to the campground and spending some time with the dogs we hopped the boat to the Magic Kingdom and had a hot dog at Casey’s Corner before our next meet.  We walked over to Pirates of the Caribbean but the line was so long we could not get through before 1:00 so we slowly wandered over to the Rose Garden Pavilion for the Capture the Magic Meet.  What a great time!  This event is a photo scavenger hunt throughout the park.  You are given a booklet with about 60 wacky tasks to complete with your team and you often have to ask Disney Cast Members or other guests to participate.  Our team was “The Magic Catchers” (BriarRose, RoseBud, Carl, Gary and I) and we spent 90 minutes absolutely running from one task to another.  We had total strangers down on their hands and knees pretending to be remote control boats, we had another total stranger take off his shirt to show the Disney tattoos on his back. 

Abbey Road scene on Main Street USA

Look - it's the Lion King

Hoedown at the Country Bear Jamboree

I'm a little teapot . . .

It must have been amusing for those around us to see the five of us sprint to the top of Swiss Family Robinson Tree house, snap a picture and then race back down.  We grabbed some startled strangers to square dance with us in front of the Country Bear Jamboree.  We didn’t have time to finish our tasks in Tomorrowland, but we covered all the rest of the park.  It was a “photo-marathon” which left us breathless, hot and tired.  At 2:30 we gathered in the pavilion again to submit our results and share our experiences with others.  What a good time that was, lots of laughs.  All the other teams had as much fun as we did.  All too soon it was time to leave and again there were some sad hugs and goodbyes as more friends were heading home. We rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority before our final goodbye.
After some more time with the dogs it was time for dinner at the Whispering Canyon Café at Wilderness Lodge.  A great meal as usual.  The servers at this restaurant put on a show and get everyone involved.  If anyone asks for ketchup their server yells out that they want some and about 60 bottles arrive.  They keep it until someone else needs it and they have to deliver all 60 bottles to the other table.  Our friends JohnnyBlack and his wife RoguePony with Sister Cathi (not a nun) were at a nearby table.  We asked our server to tell their server that it looked like they could use some ketchup.  It was fun to watch Johnny franticly explain that they didn’t want any, meanwhile their table was filling up.  Looks like they owe us one!

Ketchup anyone?

The desserts were great!

This was the night for our Illuminations VIP Package at EPCOT.  We were lucky enough to receive this special gift from our friend Deb Wills of  Thank you so much Deb, it was wonderful!  We assembled near the International Gateway and were led by our hosts, Mouse Fan Travel, to our special seating area for dessert and coffee before the show.  Then we watched the show from this preferred area at water level.  We were so close to the action that we could feel ash from the fireworks from time to time.  It was great.  After Illuminations there was some more “Disney magic” when we were escorted backstage, through the back of the empty World ShowPlace,  to Soarin’ for a private ride after the park had closed.  There was no one else there, just our group.  Wow!  Well done MouseFanTravel and – what a great time!  Thanks again Deb & Beci!  

By this time Gary and I were both officially exhausted.  Why was the car so far away in the parking lot?  It seemed so much closer on the way in!

It was after 11:00 when we returned to the campground, took the dogs out and fell into bed.

Monday - December 10, 2007



It was a slow start to the day after our exhausting activities the day before. MouseFest was almost over for us and we were feeling the let down. We rode our bikes down to the settlement and caught the launch over to the Magic Kingdom.  Our plan was to do a couple of rides and then go back to the camp to start taking down decorations and maybe have a swim. As we walked into the park I noticed the sign at Town Hall showing lunch availability at the Plaza.

GroupHugJohn and Max came by to show off the Canada hat we gave him!

The Dapper Dans were singing outside the Plaza Restaurant

We hadn’t eaten there in a while so we stopped and got a noon reservation.  Then we walked over to the Pirates of the Caribbean, just after the ride started it shut down, we sat there for quite a while before it started up again. We were going to ride Big Thunder Mountain but it was down as well so we grabbed a fastpass and headed over to Splash Mountain. The line was pretty short. Just as we were going up the big incline before the long waterfall drop our log stopped and the ride broke down.  We sat there for at least a half an hour, they had started to unload people and I thought there was no way I could get out of the log at the angle it was at. We sat there so long at a steep angle that our necks were sore and it was becoming difficult to hold our heads up.  The ride eventually started up and over the falls we went. I didn’t get wet which was a good thing. When we got off the ride they gave us a fastpass good all day for any ride. We decided to give these and our Big Thunder Mountain passes to a family who had been in the same log with us; they were only there for the day and had lost quite a bit of time.  

By then it was time for our lunch so we went directly over to the Plaza.  We had a delightful lunch and then made our way back to the campground. 

After walking the dogs and enjoying a quiet afternoon we drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge where we enjoyed a terrific dinner at Boma with Topaz, Kathleena, Jimbolini, WillCAD, RoguePony, JohnnyBlack and Sister Cathy.  After dinner Gary dropped me off at Downtown Disney to do some pin trading while he went to Home Depot to pick up some parts for the Mickey Ears globe lamp he plans to build for our next trip to Fort Wilderness.  He picked me up again at about 9:30 and we went back to the campground to crash after another long day.  

Dinner at Boma

Tuesday - December 11, 2007

We were up at about 7:00 a.m. and after Gary had a light breakfast and I caught up on some e-mails we took the dogs for a walk before heading out to MGM Studios.  Our first stop was at the Animation Studio where we spent a few minutes with artist David Rippberger.  Once again he had a signed postcard of the new cel for us.  Thanks David, you’re a special part of the Disney magic!

We rode the Great Movie Ride and I waited while Gary took a spin on Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.  He still had the “Super FastPass” which MargaretJ had given him, so he was able to pick a couple out of the standby line and take them with him.  They were a newlywed couple from Caracas, Venezuela and they sure appreciated hopping out of the 50-minute standby line.  After a fun filled lunch at 50’s Prime Time Café we drove back to Fort Wilderness and started taking down some of our Christmas decorations.

Gary was surprised as he stepped out of the motor home.  Our fellow MouseFester Byron (AUBandPilot) was just pulling up in a golf cart.  We visited with Byron for a while and then he and Gary went on a tour in the golf cart, looking at decorations, while I continued to take some of ours down.  

An imaginative Christmas display - Minnie in a bubble bath

Our chef at Teppan Edo

After saying goodbye to Byron we drove to EPCOT and once again our timing was perfect.  As we entered the park the door in the construction barrier around Spaceship Earth was open and we walked in for another ride.  Every time we see it we like the changes more and more.  Then we crossed the street to the Art of Disney Store.  I have collected prints by Larry Dolton of all four Disney parks and brought them along today for his signing at the Art of Disney.  I also have his print of Castaway Cay at home, so I hope to have it signed when we return in April.  He is scheduled to be signing again during the Flower & Garden Festival. 

It was time for our dinner at Teppan Edo, the newly renovated restaurant which was formerly known as Teppanyaki.  All of the décor and fixtures are new but the style of cooking, the entertainment value and the food quality are unchanged.  It’s a terrific meal.  We were seated first, and were then joined by three other couples.  One man at the end of the table was looking intently at Gary and finally said, “I think I know you.”  They chatted for a few minutes and sure enough, they had both served on the Board of Directors for a small community charity in Hamilton, Ontario about ten years ago.  It’s a small world after all, It’s a small world . . .

After dinner we joined the line for the 8:15 presentation of the Candlelight Processional.  This wonderful telling of the Christmas story by a massed choir and a celebrity narrator has become an annual tradition for Gary and I.  The narrator for our presentation was Chita Rivera and she did a wonderful job.

We were back to the campground by 11:00 and walked the dogs before crashing once again.  

Chita Rivera narrates the Christmas story at the Candlelight Processional

The Candlelight Processional Choir Disney Cast volunters in green robes make up the Christmas tree and the Voices of Liberty are in front in red and black

Wednesday - December 12, 2007


We got an early start and were at the Magic Kingdom just minutes after the 9:00 opening.  We rode the horse drawn trolley up Main Street USA and were serenaded by the Dapper Dans who were onboard.  Then we wound our way back to Frontierland and rode Big Thunder Mountain twice.  Gary has now convinced me to ride roller coasters with my arms in the air and I agree with him that it seems to give you a much smoother ride, but there is one drawback.  When my arms are in the air I cannot stop giggling.  I have to drop my arms now and then just to catch my breath.

The Dapper Dans on the horse-drawn trolley

The castle on our last day - and the horse which took us up Main Street USA

There were no crowds and the lines were quite short so we managed to ride Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Snow White, Space Mountain and visited the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor before lunch.  This was the funniest show I have seen yet because Gary was the “big hairy” guy they picked to play Sully.  He’s not much of an actor, but it sure was funny to me.  At one point he had to make a scary face and the emcee, Roz, said, “That’s not scary, that’s just plain silly.”

We had one of my favourite Magic Kingdom lunches, a hot dog at Casey’s and then caught the boat back to Fort Wilderness to take down the rest of the decorations and pack things up for the trip home which would begin the next day.  

After we were all packed up we hopped on the boat to the Contemporary Resort and then transferred to the monorail on our way to the Polynesian Resort.  We had a reservation at Kona Café, but when we arrived I went over to Ohana to see if they had any cancellations.  They did – our lucky day – so I cancelled our reservation at Kona and we were seated at Ohana within 15 minutes.  It’s one of our favourites and once again it was an excellent meal.

After dinner we hopped the monorail to the Magic Kingdom where we spent most of our last night just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere.  We managed to ride Buzz Lightyear twice and then saw Mickey’s Philharmagic before we took one last flight with Peter Pan.  By this time we were tired.  We said farewell to the magic for a few more months and caught the boat back to the campground.  

Dinner at Ohana - our server took the shot - notice that Gary had his shirt messed up even before we had dinner!

Thursday - Saturday December 13 - 15, 2007

After a great breakfast at Trail’s End Café we hit the road at 10:04 a.m.  Our journey was planned to take 4 days, traveling I-95, I-26; I-77 and I-81 with stops at Yemassee, SC; Wytheville, VA and Jonestown, PA before we arrived home Sunday afternoon.  As we were pulling out a neighbour in the next campsite told us about the big storm heading through the Midwest which was going to hit our route in the next couple of days.  We paid close attention to the weather reports as we made our way north.  All was well as we traveled through the south and we stopped as planned at Yemassee and Wytheville.  We got an early start out of Wytheville and pulled into the Jonestown campground at about 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Before we registered we connected to their WiFi signal and got an up to the minute update on the weather.  The area we were supposed to pass through the following day (Syracuse and Watertown NY) was forecast to have “clear conditions this evening with blizzard conditions all day tomorrow”

That was enough to change our plans.  Gary hopped out in the campground parking lot, took the plug out of the water heater and opened the drain valve on the fresh water holding tank.  We hit the highway with the motor home spewing water out in two spots.  The water was freezing as it hit the Corolla we tow behind us.  We had the only car in Pennsylvania which looked like it had been through an ice storm.  I drove for a few hours when we left Jonestown so Gary could rest up a bit for the long drive ahead.  We stopped at the Flying J Travel Centre in New Milford PA and drained the grey water and black water holding tanks, picked up coffee and a couple of sandwiches to eat on the way.  Gary took the wheel again as we continued north.  By the time we got to Watertown there was a bit of snow blowing across the highway so we had to slow to about 50 mph but the weather cleared up entirely when we crossed the border into Canada.  We pulled up to our home at 10:30 p.m. and unpacked a few things from the motor home before we decided to call it a night and unpack the rest on Sunday.

The storm hit with a vengeance Sunday morning and we both said, “I’m glad we’re home and not out on the highway.” at least a dozen times.

It was a great trip.  We have made a lot of very good MouseFest friends and we are already looking forward to seeing them again next year.