The Cruises go Cruisin' with Deb Wills & Steve Barrett


Thursday August 28, 2008


We were up bright and early and pulled out of Kingston at 8:00 a.m.  Traffic through Toronto was quite light and we arrived at Niagara Falls by 11:45.


We had a quick lunch at Ruby Tuesdays and then walked up Clifton Hill, through the tourist area to the Build a Bear store at the top of the hill.  We got there just a few minutes before 1:00 so we had a few minutes to look around and dry off from the rain before we met with the rest of the Niagara Tagrel International Group.


They all arrived precisely at 1:00 p.m. The group was made up of Sheryl & Terry, Tacey, Rose, Masayo, Joan & Kellie.

The ladies all started the build a bear process while Terry and Gary went off to check out the nearby Harley Davidson shop.  The guys told us they felt a little strange since they were the only guys in that store wearing Build a Bear nametags.

The gang at Build-a-Bear in Niagara Falls

The Build-a-Bear Pledge

Sheryl, zakerdog & dinkybean Should Masayo buy a car for her bear?

Aren't they lovely?  The bears are nice too!  Front - Tacey and Rose  Rear - Sheryl, Kellie, Joan, Carol and Masayo

I wasn’t going to make a bear but then I decided I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.  I chose a soft yellow bear named Topaz.


After lots of laughs the bears were done, the guys were back and many pictures had been taken.

We all loaded into two cars and made our way to Niagara on the Lake, a quaint little town just a few miles down river where the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario.  We met at the Christmas Store, wandered around a bit, checked out some shops and all the gorgeous flowers.  Gary rushed us out into the middle of the street where we posed for a group picture in front of the clock tower.

Masayo and Rose at the Whirlpool overlook!

The Niagara on the Lake Clock Tower

Our next stop was the Chateau des Charmes winery.  I hadn‘t thought this would be of too much interest to me, neither Gary nor I are wine fanciers.  I was pleasantly surprised when Gary and I both thoroughly enjoyed it.  Our tour guide made it very interesting.


After learning a bit about the wine making process we had some time to wander around the winery’s retail store.

We all piled back into the cars and headed back to Niagara Falls.  We stopped long enough for everyone to pick up the cars they had left behind earlier and then met up again at the Fallsview Casino.

The line for the buffet dinner was quite long but this gave us plenty of time to visit.  We had a terrific dinner and before we knew it, it was 9:30.

After plenty of hugs and goodbyes everyone went their separate ways.  Gary and I played the slots a bit before heading across the border to the Holiday Inn Express in Buffalo, NY.  It was midnight before we got settled.


We were pooped after a long day, so we arranged for a 5:30 a.m. wake up call and then called it a night!

Our winery tour at Chateau des Charmes

Friday August 29, 2008 


Wow . . . 5:30 came quick.  Gary said, “My head just hit the pillow, it can’t be 5:30.”  But of course it was!


The hotel shuttle got us to the airport by 6:20 and out 7:45 flight left 10 minutes early.  After the children and handicapped boarded, we were third and fourth in line.  We picked three seats at the emergency exit and no one sat between us.  So we had lots of legroom and lots of shoulder room.  BONUS!  After a very smooth flight we landed 20 minutes early.  Another BONUS.


As usual, we didn’t get our confirmation package in the mail.  We never do.  Disney waits so long to mail them that any that have to cross the border are too late to do any good.  They’ll be waiting for us when we get home.  As a result we didn’t have Magical Express tags for out suitcases.  We left the airport with some trepidation . . . would we ever see the bags again?


Wilderness Lodge was the first stop for our bus.  Third BONUS of the day.  Our room was available when we arrived,  (BONUS four if you are counting) and we had been upgraded to a king sized room – wow – five in a row and we haven’t even gotten to a park yet!


We got to the room and I changed into my swimsuit and headed to the pool while Gary flopped for a nap.  Within 15 minutes he was at the pool too – sleep would not come.  We had a light lunch at Roaring Fork and a swim then decided it was too hot.  Back to the room and we both drifted off for a nap.


Knock, knock . . . baggage at the door.  (Count is now up to six) All four bags were there.  Now I can relax . . . I was concerned about the clothes, Gary was concerned about that Irish whiskey.

Now wide-awake, we hopped on the boat to the Magic Kingdom.  We had decided to go and do nothing more than walk through the shops up one side of Main Street and then back down the other side.  This would put us back on the boat to Wilderness Lodge in time for our 5:30 dinner reservation. 

Waiting for the boat at Wilderness Lodge
Waiting for the boat at Wilderness Lodge

They have started decorating the park for Halloween, this reminded me to pick up our MNSSHP ticket.  As we were entering the hat shop, Le Chapeau, who did we see playing checkers with a guest?  It was Dream Squad Bob!!  We stopped to chat with him for a few minutes and had a picture taken.  (BONUS seven!)  Bob said he isn’t writing his reports on his dream activities any more.  He is too busy studying to try to work his way up the management chain.

All decked out for Halloween Dream Squad Bob

We shopped our way up and down Main Street and then returned to the resort.  Our dinner at Whispering Canyon was as good as we have come to expect.  The cast members put on a great show and keep you entertained throughout the meal. Just as we were finishing dinner we ran into Ann & George, they had just arrived and are going on the cruise too.

The Halloween theming is great!
The Wilderness Lodge waterfall


  Dinner at Whispering Canyon

After dinner we caught the boat to the Contemporary Resort for the monthly Friday night pin trading session. There were several people there that I knew so I had a visit with Gabe, Jason and a couple of other pin traders. They also had the pins on display that we will be getting at the EPCOT pin event next weekend. I traded pins while Gary sat outside the meeting room with the laptop and worked on this trip report.  I finished trading by 9:00, checked out the stores in the Contemporary and then we caught the boat back to Wilderness Lodge.


We quickly changed into our swimsuits and went down to the beach where we watched the water parade before we hopped in the pool to cool off before bed.  It’s been a long day, and full of plusses.  We’re exhausted!

Saturday August 30, 2008 


Once again morning came too fast. We hurried ourselves down to the Whispering Canyon just in time to meet Robin. We had a great breakfast with Robin and then caught the bus over to Hollywood Studio’s. Robin led the way to Toy Story Mania and we immediately got in the 75-minute wait line. The fast passes were already gone and it was only 10 a.m.

Breakfast with Robin at Whispering Canyon The Disney character totem at Wilderness Lodge

We were able to have a very nice visit with Robin while we waited and the time passed quickly. Finally it was our turn to board the ride, and it was worth the wait; it was awesome! It took me a while to get the feel of the gun, I really liked that I could see where my shots were going. It’s real a blast!

The entry for Toy Story Midway Mania

Robin in her 3D glasses on Toy Story Midway Mania

By the time we got through the ride it was noon, so we said our goodbyes with Robin and headed back to the lodge. We wanted to have a bit of down time before we went over to Animal Kingdom for our dinner reservation. It was also extremely hot and humid and rain was threatening.


When we got back to the lodge I headed straight to the room but Gary took a walk through the lobby. While I was listening to a phone message from MissBianca, he was visiting with her and Bernard in the lobby.

Mickey in the Jammin' Jungle Parade

We decided to have a quick bite at The Roaring Fork and by then it was pouring rain so a swim in the pool would have to wait, they had the pool closed. After a flatbread pizza we returned to the room and had a nice little nap. When we got up I pulled open the curtains and it was still pouring rain. We decided to not let it dampen our spirits and got the rain ponchos out and headed off to Animal Kingdom.


We got to the park just in time to watch the Jammin’ Jungle Parade, we hadn’t seen it in quite a while, it was quite enjoyable. The park was not very busy so we walked right into It’s Tough to be a Bug and the Safari ride. There were not very many animals out but we did have great views of the Cheetahs and Lions. When we finished the ride it was time to wander over to Tusker House for our dinner reservation.

A lioness at the Kopje Our first dinner at the new Tusker House Buffet.  It was great!

We really enjoyed the “new” style of dining, even though I originally did not want the change to be made. The food was great, the service was excellent and we came out fully satisfied.


By the time we left the restaurant the park was closed so we walked through totally deserted streets, it was very neat. Gary took some great pictures of the buildings without a single person in the picture.


We decided we were going back to Hollywood Studios for one more round of Toy Story. We rode over to the park with another couple on the bus that was doing the same thing. We ended up going through the queue with them and spent 80 minutes chatting while we waited. I liked the ride even better the second time.


When we finished the ride the park was closing so we hopped on the bus and went back to the Lodge. It was so hot and sticky we jumped into our bathing suits and practically ran to the pool. As I was just enjoying the coolness of the water I saw familiar face swimming towards me with the cutest little guy in tow. It was WDWDen and Mason. We had a great chat, and then Gary came along and joined in. We talked for quite a while before saying goodnight. Dennis is planning on joining the Tagrel group for breakfast at the Trails End tomorrow.


Back in the room it was time to write a quick trip report and then head to bed.

August 31, 2008

Carol had set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. to be sure we made it to Trail’s End Buffet for our breakfast meet.  We were both awake before the alarm and got an early start.  On our way through the lobby Carol stopped to look at the pin cart (naturally!) and while she shopped Miss Bianca and Bernard caught up to us.  We had quite a chat with them on the boat ride to Fort Wilderness Campground.

Heading to Trail's End with Miss Bianca and Harvey

Meeting the gang!

As we approached the Pioneer Hall complex we saw a big crowd of Tags lurking skulking waiting outside.  We joined the crowd and after a few more minutes to yak we were escorted to our tables.  Our server, Donnell, was very entertaining and the food was great, as usual.

Karen (Disneat) and her brother Tom, from Austria, in the back row.

After breakfast we all went our separate ways.  John & Cathy went back to POP Century to do some laundry.  Hunh?  They’ve been away from home a day and a half and they have to do laundry?  Zakerdog had better teach them how to pack for a trip!

Carol and I were waiting for the boat to the Magic Kingdom when Amymouse came along and joined us.  At the park we headed directly to Pirates of the Caribbean, but alas it was closed temporarily.  So we struck off toward the Haunted Mansion.  Of course, we could not walk past Frontier Mercantile (the pin store) but I was quite surprised that it was Amy who bought a pin rather than Carol. 


We resumed our trek to the Haunted Mansion.  It was a walk on!  We walked right up to the door and didn’t break stride until we were inside the pre-show room.

Heading to the Magic Kingdom

zakerdog & Amymouse

By the time we came out of the mansion the heat, which had been stifling , had moved up to oppressive.  Carol and I were both dripping with sweat . . . Oops . . . I stand corrected.  Ladies glow . . . so I was dripping with sweat and Carol was “glowing buckets”.  We decided to head back to Wilderness Lodge for a swim.  We said goodbye to Amy and made a quick stop at the Christmas Shop where Carol bought a scrapbook, and then we were off to the exit.  As we arrived at the dock our launch pulled up and we were off!

After a cooling swim it was nap time.  The heat is really sapping us!  But by 3:00 we were ready to go again, so we hopped the bus to EPCOT.  Our first stop was Spaceship Earth and then we walked at a leisurely pace around World Showcase on our way to The American Adventure.  We had a cold drink at Electric Umbrella and of course Carol just had to shop a bit.


We watched the Chinese acrobats inside the Chinese pavilion and then enjoyed the CircleVision show from China.  As we approached The American Adventure we bumped into Miss Bianca and Bernard.  We walked with them the rest of the way and met up with the rest of the Tag crowd.

The new exit show at Spaceship Earth allows you to e-mail a picture home.

At 7:00 we were led into the rotunda where Deb & Steve greeted us and welcomed all.  What a magnificent place for a group dinner!  Although we are Canadian, it was just awesome to be there!

Nozomi and Masayo

Susan, Steve & Lynn

The dinner was wonderful, and after Steve & Deb tantalized us with some hints about cruise activities, Deb announced that we were about to be escorted out to our private viewing area for Illuminations.  We went to the area in front of the Italian Pavilion and enjoyed the luxury of plenty of elbow room and wonderful sight lines.  Well done Beci and all of the Mouse Fan Travel team!  What a great way to begin our adventure!

After Illuminations Carol and I said our goodbyes and headed back to Wilderness Lodge for a swim.  Hot and tired?  OH YEAH!

Steve Barrett and Deb Wills (standing)

September 1, 2008


We were both sound asleep when the 6:30 alarm rang.  Carol had done most of the packing the night before so we had a quick shower, packed the rest and checked our bags with the valet while we joined the gang for breakfast at Whispering Canyon.


After a quick but entertaining breakfast we picked up our bags and boarded the Quicksilver van with Kathleena (Nancy), Topaz (Susan) Miss Bianca (CR) and Bernard (Harvey).  We made a quick stop at Animal Kingdom Lodge to pick up dinkybean (Masayo) and Nozomi.  Then we were on our way to Port Canaveral.

Miss Bianca, Topaz & zakerdog (back)  Harvey, zakerdog & Cruiser (front)

We arrived at 10:00 and discovered that customs had been a bit slow clearing the incoming ship so the passengers from the last cruise were slow to disembark.  We waited outside the terminal for about 40 minutes and then were processed through security in the terminal.

Waiting to board Still waiting
STILL waiting! Waiting inside the terminal

John & Cathy are happy to wait!

By noon we were aboard the Magic and exploring our home for the next five days.  We joined the gang once again for lunch at the Parrot Cay buffet and then headed to the upper decks to take some pictures.

Our stateroom was ready by 1:45 so we relaxed for a few minutes before heading out to view the suites where some of our celebrity friends and hosts are staying.  Steve & Vickie Barrett are in a lovely one bedroom suite and Deb Wills, Linda Eckwerth and Beci Mahnken are sharing a two bedroom suite.  WOW!  It sure is nice to see how the elite live!

Finally aboard!

Going to book a table at Palo

Deb Wills & Tacey

After the tour it was time for our emergency drill.  We donned our stylish life jackets and followed our guide to Animators Palate where they gave us those “always exciting” emergency instructions.

Beci & I

The Sail-Away Party

Then we were off to the top deck for the sail away party.  It was great fun, with music, singing, dancing, Disney characters and of course all our friends.  The captain appeared and confirmed what we had already heard, our schedule has been altered because of Hurricane Hannah, our day in Nassau and our ``At Sea`` day have been reversed because of the weather forecast.  Other than that, we have not been affected by the weather.  There is a slight roll to the ship, but only slight at this point.

After the sail away party we headed back to our cabin to do some more door decorating and get ready for the nightly show and dinner.  We headed down to the Walt Disney Theatre for the 6:15 “Welcome Aboard Show” which featured song & dance, Disney characters, a comedian, a magician, and plenty of fun.  It was a sampler of what was to come.


After the show quite a number from our group met in the Promenade Lounge for a drink before dinner.  It looks like this will be a nightly tradition.  I like this tradition!

At the Promenade Lounge before dinner

Lynner begins "the count"

Dinner tonight was at Lumiere’s and are seated with John & Cathy and CR & Harvey.   We had plenty of entertaining chatter over dinner . . . and some wonderful food too!


After dinner some of us headed back to the Promenade Lounge for a nightcap and then off to bed.  This has been a long day, and we need to rest up for Castaway Cay tomorrow.

September 2, 2008


We were up early and watching from our balcony as the ship pulled in to the dock at Castaway Cay.  It felt like we were coming home.  We watched them pull the big lines out from the ship and then it was time to head to the Cove Café for coffee with Deb and the gang.  Then we headed to the Topsider Buffet for breakfast with John & Cathy.  Soon after we got settled at a table we were joined by Susan and Nancy.

Ashore at Castaway Cay

After breakfast I had to spend a few more minutes putting the finishing touches to our door decorations before we headed down to the Buena Vista Theatre for the “official” welcome from Deb & Steve.


Then we were off to Castaway Cay.  We decided to skip the first shuttle and walk to Scuttles Cove.  Along the way we took some pictures and also had our pictures taken with Captain Jack Sparrow, Mickey and Goofy.  Then we caught the tram to Serenity Bay.

The Flying Dutchman behind me

A photo-op with Goofy

A tropical Mickey Mouse

The Flying Dutchman and the Disney Magic behind me

Captain Jack Sparrow

On the shuttle to Serenity Bay

Deb Wills, Miss Bianca, Harvey & LindaLou

We settled in on the beach with the gang from Tagrel and swam for a bit before we all walked down the beach to meet MissB & Bernard. It was a special day for the anniversary couple, they were renewing their vows on the sands of Castaway Cay. It was a very touching exchange of vows, MissB even had music playing. There was hardly a dry eye in the group. After the ceremony we all went to the Island bar and had a cool drink before going off our separate ways.


We decided since we were close to the BBQ we would have some lunch before going back to our little piece of the beach. The food was very good.

After lunch we walked back down the beach and spent about an hour in the ocean. It was getting pretty hot and we didn’t want to get badly burnt so we started back to the ship. There were lots of pictures to be taken and stops to chat with our friends so it took an hour for us to get back on board.


Once on board we decided that we would do the corridor tour, check out all the decorated doors and leave our Fish Extender gifts. That was a lot of walking!

Gary & I at Serenity Bay

Our door - cabin 7120

Back in our stateroom we showered and had a little nap. When we got up we decided to go up top and watch the Magic pull away from Castaway Cay. We really got lucky, with all the hurricanes blowing around in the Caribbean, we ended up with a gorgeous, sunny day. We may not get so lucky on Friday when we are scheduled to return.  I also took some time to walk through the gift shops and admire the Cruise stuff.

Then it was time to get ready for dinner, we had a reservation at Palo. Gary had to don a suit and tie but it was worth it. The food and service were excellent, it really is a special evening event.


After dinner we immediately got changed, and went to the Walt Disney Theatre to watch the Golden Mickeys show. We both love the shows on board, they do a great job entertaining everyone.


When the show was over we went back to the cabin and got into our swimwear. We went to the Quiet Cove and spent some time in the hot tubs. Gary went into the pool but I found it a little too cool so I spent my time in the bubbling hot tub.


John & Cathy soon came along and joined us and the guys opened the bottle of Irish whiskey. We chatted until midnight and then I could not keep my eyes open any longer, I needed sleep. It had been a wonderful day!

Dinner at Palo

September 3, 2008

We actually slept until 7 o’clock, that was the latest this trip. Gary was right up and looking out the window. He called out that we were already in Nassau and he could see Paradise Island. He quickly got dressed, grabbed his camera and was out the door. I on the other hand enjoyed seeing it from the balcony and spending a bit of time getting the trip report caught up.

Ashore in Nassau
When Gary came back we sat for a few minutes and enjoyed a coffee before heading up to Topsider’s Buffet for breakfast.  Then we left the ship and headed into downtown Nassau (two blocks away) to visit some old friends at Royal Bank of Canada where both Gary and I worked for many years.  We didn’t realized that one of them, who Gary had worked with, was stationed in Trinidad and the other, who both of us had worked with at different times, retired less than a week ago and was now back in Canada.  We took a horse-drawn carriage ride arounf downtown Nassau and stopped in a few shops on the way back to the ship.  We were back aboard in plenty of time for our 12:00 Lunch at Lumiere’s.

Here I am at RBC Caribbean Headquarters

A quaint stone staircase in a downtown Nassau park
Anna Nicole was the name of our horse
Goofy painting the stern of the Disney Magic
John & Cathy welcome us back
Our friend from Japan, Masayo, had organized the lunch and we were surprised and delighted to find Masayo and Nozomi dressed in traditional Japanese garb.  They were each wearing a yukata, an informal form of kimono made of cotton.  They had also brought yukatas for some of the other ladies, so when we arrived Deb Wills, LindaLou, Beci, Annette, LindaMac and Vicky Barrett were also in yukatas.  Just as we were sitting for lunch at Lumiere’s Steve Barrett arrived in a jinbei, the male equivalent of the yukata.  We had a wonderful lunch.  Masayo and Nozomi had a bag of Disneyland Tokyo goodies for everyone and then while we ate Masayo gave everyone a piece of origami art she had made.  What a good time!  Thank you so much Masayo!
Nozomi and Masayo in yukatas Deb Wills in a yukata and Steve Barrett in a jinbei
Masayo, Nozomi, LindaLou, Beci & Deb
Beci, Vicky Barrett and Lou Mongello
Masayo visits our table at lunch

After lunch it was time for me to pamper myself at the spa.  My pedicure was amazing.  I was so relaxed that I actually fell soundly asleep in the chair.  The pedicurist had to wake me and tell me it was time to go!


Gary spent the afternoon relaxing and visiting at poolside and we both had a short nap before the ship left Nassau.  We watched the departure from the Nassau harbour from our veranda and then went off to Studio Sea Lounge where Deb and Steve judged some wonderful pirate costumes.

At 6:15 we went to the Walt Disney Theatre for the nightly show.  We laughed until it hurt, the comedian was Heath Hyche and he was terrific!


After the show we donned our pirate gear and joined our friends in the Promenade Lounge for a pre-dinner drink.  Dinner was in the Animators Palate.  Excellent!  The servers were all dressed in pirate costumes and during dinner they led their guests in a pirate parade through the dining room.


After dinner we headed to the top deck for the Pirate Party and fireworks.


I was pooped, so when the party was over at about 11:00  I headed to our cabin and to bed.  Gary went off with John and Cathy to see the show at the Rockin’ Bar D.  He didn’t last long either and was dead to the world by midnight.  Snore!

Beci and Annette in the foreground, Steve Barrett in the background
Pirate contest finalists Pirate contest winners

September 4, 2008

This day was an “at sea” day and we planned on relaxing and enjoying the ship. I started off by sleeping in until 8 a.m. Gary was up 2 hours earlier and went up top to have coffee and chat with our friends. After we both got showered and dressed we went for a walk around the ship and put in some time until 11 a.m. We met with seven others from our group for brunch at Palo.

Masayo and Nozomi were next to us in cabin 7122
The brunch was wonderful with lots of variety, there was everything you could think of to choose from and if you didn’t see it you could ask for it.
Brunch at Palo Lynn & Steve and Linda & Bruce were also at Palo

After brunch we got into our swim wear and spent a bit of time around the pool, then we went back to the cabin for a while. I went to tea with the ladies at 3 p.m. The tea was at Palo and very “English”. It started with small sandwiches, followed with scones and clotted cream and finished with plates of little tarts and éclairs. It was so good . . . but I was still full from brunch.

The ladies at Palo for tea
Enjoying a porthole view Where's the seatbelt?

I arrived back at the cabin about 4 p.m. and Gary had already gone to join Steve Barrett on a Hidden Mickey tour. I went to meet him, Cathy and John at 5 p.m.


We joined a few friends for a drink before the nightly show in the Walt Disney Theatre.  The show was “Twice Charmed”, a new twist on the Cinderella story.  It was cute.

We met Pluto on the way to dinner Formal night at Parrott Cay
Ursalinda, Miss Bianca and I Ursalinda, Miss Bianca, zakerdog, Cshore, Lynner and AliKat
Steve, Bruce, Harvey & Gary

This was our first night for dinner at Parrot Cay.  It was formal night and we all dressed up so well that we were horribly uncomfortable.  It didn't seem to affect our appetites though!  It seemed that I had done nothing but eat all day. The dessert buffet started at 11:00 and we didn't finish dinner until after 10:00.


After dinner we headed directly back to our cabin to change into something more casual.  At 11:00 we looked at each other and asked, “Can you eat any more?”  “Nope.”  “Do you want to head down and see the dessert buffet?”  “Nope.”

So we hit the hay shortly after 11:00

September 5, 2008

A jerk woke me in the middle of the night . . . this time it wasn’t Gary.  We were in rough seas and the jerking was from the rocking of the ship, at one point I thought I was going to end up on the floor.  I did slept very well; the wave motion lulled me into a deep sleep.  I woke once while it was still pitch black out and Gary was standing at our stateroom balcony door watching the surf and spray.  We both slept until 8:30 a.m.  I’m not sure I have ever seen Gary sleep that late.


We turned on the TV and tuned in the shipboard weather and position report.  We were in rainy southwest winds and 20 – 30 foot waves.  At 9:00 a.m. the captain came on the P.A. System and announced that it was too rough for us to land at Castaway Cay where there were 50 mph winds and rough seas.  We spent the day at sea.

A photo-op with Minnie

Outside Lumiere's

We went to Lumiere’s for breakfast and then returned to our cabin where I started packing for our debarkation the next day.  Gary likes to avoid packing whenever possible so he headed out to get pictures of all the Tagrel stateroom doors.


We went out for a walk around the ship about 12:30 and ran into John & Cathy.  We joined them for lunch at Parrot Cay and then we all went to Sessions Lounge for Steve Barrett’s Hidden Mickey Wrap-Up.  He presented a slide show of some of the most interesting Hidden Mickeys aboard the Magic.  Some of them were actually discovered on this trip.

Tropical Mickey outside the Walt Disney Theatre Steve Barrett at the Hidden Mickey Wrap-Up

Between the Hidden Mickey Wrap-Up and the 4:45 Farewell Party hosted by Deb and Steve we returned to our cabin for a nap.  By 4:45 we were all waiting at Sessions.  Beci and the Mouse Fan Travel team had arranged a terrific buffet of hors d’oeuvres for us to enjoy as we waited for Deb Wills to arrive.

WDWNJ & BigRed Waiting for Deb Wills at her surprise birthday party

This was Deb’s birthday so Beci had arranged a few surprises for her.  First they escorted her to the bridge where she met the captain and had the honour of blowing the ship’s whistle (When You Wish Upon a Star) at 5:00 p.m.  Then she came to Sessions were we were all waiting with a huge birthday cake.  That was not the end though . . . very soon Captain Mickey arrived to give her a personal birthday wish.  Needless to say she was thrilled . . . as were all of the rest of us when Mickey stayed to have his picture taken with all of us.  Well done Beci!

Deb just loved her cake She was thrilled to blow the ship's horn, and then Captain Mickey came to personally wish her Happy Birthday!
Deb, Mickey & Linda Mickey with the Mouse Fan Travel crew
Mickey with Gary and I Winners of the Door Decoration Contest.  Three winners out of the five were Taginators.

After the Farewell/Birthday Party we did a bit more packing and then went to Shutters to pick up some photos before dinner.  Dinner on our last night aboard was once again at Parrot Cay.


We said our goodbyes and were back in the cabin doing our final packing when John called . . . he wanted just one more scotch together before we left, so we joined he and Cathy in the Promenade Lounge.  We sat with Steve & Vicky Barrett, Lou Mongello and a few others and shared Disney stories and experiences until 11:30.  Then the sandman started to really beat on Gary and I so we called it a night.  Tomorrow we are off to Port Orleans French Quarter.

Goofy in front of Lumiere's Our servers Yelena and Jayson

September 6, 2008

We were up at 6:30 and quickly into the shower.  We saw our first sunrise of the cruise, just before debarking!  

A glorious sunrise
By 7:30 we were at the Topsider Restaurant for our last breakfast before debarking.  We were once again sharing a van with Kathleena (Nancy), Topaz (Susan), Miss Bianca (CR), Harvey, Dinkybean (Masayo), and Nozomi.  After breakfast we all headed down to Deck 3 where we joined a long line of people waiting for customs clearance to go ashore.  US Customs cleared the ship by 8:30 and we filed out to retrieve our luggage and clear Customs and Immigration.  This was very painless, the luggage was sorted according to cabin number and the Immigration Officer simply swiped our passports and said, “Have a nice day.”

The Quicksilver van was waiting for us and we were on the road before 9:00.  Our first stop was Disney’s Beach Club, where Miss Bianca and Harvey were staying.  I got off there to walk to EPCOT where my pin event was being held.  I walked to the International Gateway and was at the event picking up my pins by 10:00 a.m.  The van carried on and dropped Masayo and Nozomi at Old Key West and then took Gary to Port Orleans French Quarter.

Waiting to disembark

At the EPCOT Pin Event

Our room wasn’t ready at POFQ so Gary spent a couple of hours in the lobby.  He managed to find a WiFi connection so he spent some time uploading pictures and trip reports.  When the room still wasn’t ready by 2:00 he began to complain and he managed to get us upgraded to a water-view room on the first floor.  Great!


Gary took a quick nap and left the hotel at 4:00 to join me at EPCOT.

I had a terrific day at the pin event.  They issue a special series of about 50 pins for this event and you submit a list of your favourites several weeks prior to the event.  They use a “Random Selection Process” or lottery to determine which of your selected pins you receive.  I was fortunate and managed to get everything I wanted.  During the day I was able to trade pins and acquire a full set of the new “Hidden Mickey” pins released on Cast Lanyards during the day.  Since I had such a good day trading I didn’t think I needed to go back on Sunday morning.

A car from the old Mr. Toad ride

The trading tables

Gary was there about 5:00 and watched Off Kilter outside the Canadian Pavilion while he waited for me.  At about 6:00 we headed over to Le Cellier, the steakhouse at the Canadian Pavilion, where we met our friends John & Cathy.  We had a great meal and lots of laughs with them. 


After dinner we headed back to the hotel for a swim.  Gary hit the sack early and I spent some time on the computer.  Since we now had a good Internet connection I had some catching up to do.

September 7, 2008

We had agreed to meet John, Cathy, Nancy & Susan at 8:30 at Hollywood Studios and ride Toy Story Mania.  Since this is the newest ride you must be there early!  We got to the POFQ bus stop at 8:00 a.m., just in time to see the Studios bus pulling away.  No worries, the buses run every 20 minutes . . . but not today!  We waited 35 minutes for the next bus.  Gary had complained to the bus supervisor who was there recording times on his clipboard and it must have had some impact . . . the bus skipped the normal loop around Port Orleans Riverside and took us directly to the Studios.  We were able to connect with our friends before rope drop.


We rushed directly back to Toy Story and picked up fastpasses and then got in the standby line.  We were through the line and on the ride in less than 5 minutes and then had to wait a few minutes before out fastpasses allowed us to ride again.  After our second ride we picked up another fastpass and then walked over to Tower of Terror where Cathy, Gary and I rode and then we waited while Susan and Gary rode Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.  We still had a few minutes to kill before our fastpass time so we went to the Animation Studio and say through the show there.  Then we headed back to Toy Story Mania for our third and final ride.  John was the champ with a high score of 139,000.

Gary and Susan Cathy and John
Nancy and Susan
Nancy and her favourite character, The Fairy Godmother

We said our goodbyes about 1:00 p.m. and headed back to the hotel where we had lunch in the food court.  Gary had woken up this morning with a bad cold, so he caught a couple of hours sleep while I went to the pool.


Shortly after 4:00 we left and caught the bus to Magic Kingdom and then the monorail to the Polynesian Resort where we had dinner with our pin trading friends from Toronto, Susan with her mother Alison and Bob with Juanita and their son Joaquin.  More chatter and laughs over a good meal at Ohana.  Susan and Alison gave us a lift back to POFQ where we dropped Gary off.  I went on with them to Downtown Disney.

Susan and Alison

Bob and Joachim Juanita, myself and Gary

We wandered around the pin store and traders for a bit and then walked through a couple of shops. It was so hot I could hardly stand it so I said my goodbyes and caught the boat back to the resort. Gary was already snoring so I didn’t bother going for a swim. I was pretty tired to so thought I would call it a night.

September 8, 2008

It was a quiet day today.  Our Annual Passes expired on Saturday and we used our one day base ticket on Sunday so we had no park passes today.  We had a late breakfast at the French Quarter food court and then caught the bus to Downtown Disney.  We arrived just a few minutes before the stores opened and shopped our way across the Marketplace.  We stopped for lunch at the Earl of Sandwich and then caught the boat back to French Quarter.  We went for a quick swim to cool down and then Gary laid down to fight the cold that has been plaguing him the last few days.  It was so hot that I had to leave the pool shortly after he did and we both slept for a couple of hours.

The boat to Port Orleans Riverside
The mansions at Riverside
A horse-drawn carriage at Port Orleans

We had a dinner reservation for Boatwrights at Port Orleans Riverside so we hopped on the boat and took a ride further upriver.  The breeze had picked up and it was a bit cooler out.  After shopping for a few minutes at Fulton’s we checked in at Boatwrights and were quickly seated.  We both enjoyed the beef tenderloin medallions.


We caught the boat back to French Quarter where I picked up my pins and Gary grabbed his book.  We continued our boat-ride to Downtown Disney where I spent an hour and a half trading pins and Gary sat at Earl of Sandwich reading. 


By the time we caught the boat back to French Quarter it had warmed up again.  As soon as we arrived at our hotel we changed into our bating suits.  As soon as we stepped outside it began to pour rain.  It poured for a few minutes and then quit.  We started toward the pool again and as soon as we set out the skies opened up again.  So no swimming tonight.  We watched TV and got to bed early.

September 9, 2008

It was another quiet start to the day.  Since we had no park passes we had planned to spend most of the day at POFQ before heading to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Gary had a light breakfast at the POFQ food court and we spent about an hour and a half at the pool before it got too hot for us.  I was coming down with the cold that had been plaguing Gary for several days.


We went back to the room where I started packing and Gary did a bit of updating on the trip report and read his book.  Lunch was a quick bite at the food court again and then we spent another half hour at the pool before we were cooked again.


We went back to the room and tried to nap so we could last through the party that night, but the napping just didn’t seem to work.  By 3:00 we were boarding a bus to EPCOT where we hopped on the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Centre.  Once we got there we switched to the Resort Monorail and rode it as far as the Grand Floridian, we had some time so we took a bit of a walk around the resort. We then got back on the monorail and rode around the loop to the Magic Kingdom.  We arrived at the Kingdom well before our 4:00 entry time so we decided to take another loop on the monorail rather than just stand in the sun in front of the Kingdom.  By 4:10 we were walking up Main Street.

The entry to the pool area The Mardi Gras theming is everywhere
Port Orleans French Quarter is our favourite of the moderate resorts! Our room was here - on the ground floor

The crowd was very light . . . what a treat!  We went to Tomorrowland and walked right on Buzz Lightyear.  It was so much fun that we went right back and walked on again.  Then, since the lines were so short we headed over to Fantasyland to check out Peter Pan.


On the way past, we stopped for a Strawberry Swirl . . . we were hugely disappointed to find they are no longer on the menu!  BOO!  They were my favourite!  Gary likes the Dole Whip Float, but I have always preferred the Strawberry Swirl at the Enchanted Grove.


We walked straight on the Winnie the Pooh ride and then went directly into Mickey’s PhilharMagic.  The line at Peter Pan was less than 10 minutes.  I could really get to like this.  We got all these rides done and were still a bit early for our 5:40 dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern.


Dinner was terrific as usual, we have never been disappointed.  It is not fine dining, but we have always found it to be good “comfort food”.  It has always been one of our favourite character meals and we will be sorry to see it go at the end of this year.


After dinner we headed through Frontierland to knock off a couple of mountains.  After a quick stop at Frontier Mercantile (the pin store) we were at Splash Mountain.  No line whatsoever!    We decided to ride Big Thunder Mountain first where we again walked directly up to the loading area . . . the cast member said, “Take any row you like.”  So we went to the back row (our favourite on this roller coaster) and hopped on.  We pulled into the station and no one was waiting, so we stayed on and rode again.  Next time back at the station someone was waiting for the last row so we hopped out and climbed back into the next row forward.  Three consecutive rides were enough. We then walked over to Splash Mountain and directly to the loading area.  There was no one else in sight.  Boats were leaving totally empty.  Gary and I each got a row to ourselves, with no one else aboard.  When the ride was over Gary wasn’t wet enough yet, so I hopped out and he stayed on to ride again!  I met him in the store, it was almost parade time.


As we came down the hill from Big Thunder toward the parade route we caught a glimpse of the headless horseman as he galloped through Frontierland.  Dang . . . we missed him!  The parade was great; the Halloween parade is my favourite!

Goofy & Gary (Gary's on the right) Pluto is one of my favourites!
The Cadaver Dans performing at Liberty Square The Halloween parade is wonderful
The Gatekeeper Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!

We wanted to get through the Haunted Mansion before the special Halloween fireworks show and had just headed down one of the “Trick or Treat” lines when I heard someone call my name.  It was Susan (my pin trading friend from Toronto) and her mother Alison.  They were with a few friends and were also heading to the mansion, so we all went together.  Is the Haunted Mansion more fun during a Halloween Party?  I think so; with so many of the guests in costume it seems even more spooktacular!


Gary and I headed over to Main Street and stopped at Casey’s for a cold drink before the Halloween version of the Wishes fireworks.   After cooling off for a few minutes we were joined by Lynner and Steve, we chatted for a bit and then went out to Main Street where we had agreed to meet our fellow Taginators from the Deb & Steve Cruise, Ursulinda & Bruce, Miss Bianca & Harvey.  And who was standing right behind us?  Susan and Alison!  What a great show.  The Happy HalloWishes fireworks are my favourite.  I just love the music from The Nightmare Before Christmas which they add for the Halloween version.


After the fireworks we shared   hugs and goodbyes (yet again) with our Tag friends and then joined Susan and Alison, Donald and Amy and made our way over to Adventureland to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. We stopped at a couple of Trick or Treat spots along the way and filled our bags with candy. Then it was off to Frontierland where we staked out a prime spot to watch the second showing of the parade.  This time we are in perfect position as the headless horseman gallops by.  The parade is just as enjoyable the second time.  I could watch it over and over again.  While we were watching the parade we had a surprise - Amymouse joined us. We were able to have a nice visit with her while we watched the parade.


It was late and we were worn out.  We said our goodbyes to Susan and Alison and began to make our way down Main Street and out of the park.  We stopped to buy a couple of Photo Pass pictures and as we came out of Exposition Hall, there were Susan and Alison again, on their way out too.  Susan said, “Would you like a ride to Port Orleans?” and I replied, “Well, I really had my heart set on riding the bus with a load of screaming and crying kids, but . . . “  So we had a quick ride back after an exhausting day.  A perfect way to end our last Disney day!  Thanks Susan!

September 10, 2008

We were scheduled for Magical Express pick-up at 9:15 so we were up and rolling just after 7:00.  By 8:00 we had our luggage in the lobby and picked up breakfast at the food court.  I picked up a WiFi signal in the lobby and read my e-mail and browsed a few sites while we waited. 


The bus came right on time and after two more stops, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs, we were off to the airport.  Our 12:20 Southwest flight left five minutes early and was less than half full.  Gary and I each had a row to ourselves and we could stretch right out and relax.  I was able to curl up on the seat and fell into a deep sleep for over an hour.  I woke up as we began our descent into Buffalo.  Both Gary and I had an uncomfortable landing because the cold had our ears totally plugged.  The pressure change as we descended was very uncomfortable.  It was several hours before either of us could hear normally.


We landed ten minutes early and when we arrived at the baggage carrousel our luggage was already there.  Within 30 minutes of touchdown we were loading the bags into the car at the Holiday Inn Express.  The Canada Customs officer checked our passports and saw we were from Kingston.  She has a cottage just off Highway #15 at Bass Lake.  We now know a great deal about her and she knows nothing about us.  She didn’t ask how long we had been away, what we were bringing back, how much we had spent, any alcohol, any tobacco . . . nothing!  Easiest border crossing we have ever had, but it took a while since she was so chatty!


Traffic was mostly good through Toronto and by 8:00 we were picking up Zak & Zoë at my parents home.  They were as glad to see us as we were to see them.  Zak reminded me that we had been gone fifteen days and that is equivalent to fifteen weeks in doggie time!