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.
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
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.
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!
- November 26, 2007
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.
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.
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.
too much exciting but the day brought us one day closer to
- 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
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!
|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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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 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.
- 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
We both had a short nap and awoke
to find the sun shining for the first time today.
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
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!
- 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.
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
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!
- December 2, 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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!
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- December 5, 2007
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)
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!
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:
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.
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
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
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
|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.
- 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- December 8, 2007
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
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.
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 Tagrel.com 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.
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 MouseFanTravel.com and
MGMStudios.org 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.
- December 9, 2007
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, MouseFanTravel.com and AllEars.net did a
terrific job and gave away lots of cool prizes.
I won a jumbo pin. |
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
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.
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.
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!
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 AllEars.net.
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 AllEars.net – 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.
- December 10, 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
- December 11, 2007
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!
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
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.
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
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 . . .
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.
were back to the campground by 11:00 and walked the dogs before
crashing once again.
- December 12, 2007
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
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.”
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.
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
dinner we hopped the monorail to the Magic Kingdom where we spent
most of our last night just wandering around and soaking up the
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.
- Saturday December 13 - 15, 2007
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
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
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.
was a great trip. We have made a lot of very good MouseFest
friends and we are already looking forward to seeing them again