We picked up the motor home Thursday morning and
spent the day packing it full of clothing, food, and all the little
things we’ll be using during our month-long trip.
Carol spent part of the day Friday with her
mother, making sure she had everything she would need while we were
away. I spent the day hanging the bikes on the back of the motor
home and hooking up our tow car. By mid-afternoon it was all set,
we were ready to pull out Saturday morning!
Then it happened again; Carol got home about 3:30
and said, “I’m ready, let’s go!”
We had been talking about getting a head start
for a few days and I certainly didn’t offer any resistance! It’s
been over 10 months since my last time at Walt Disney World and I’m
Carol pulled all the last minute items out of the
refrigerator in the house and transferred them to the fridge in the
coach. Then we dressed the dogs in their harnesses and secured them
on the couch with seat belts!
We pulled away at 4:15. The two mile drive to
the freeway took about 20 minutes . . . Ouch!
But the highway was moving quickly and once we
got to it we made great time. We arrived at the Thousand Island
Bridge at precisely 5:00 p.m. and waited about five minutes for the
nightly shift change. After a couple of quick questions the officer
waved us through.
Traffic in New York State was light and we made
good time all the way to our destination, the Cracker Barrel
Restaurant at Cicero, New York, just north of Syracuse. We pulled
into the restaurant at 6:30 and found a quiet spot in the back to
park. This was to be our home for the night!
Carol fed the dogs and gave them a short walk
then we headed to the restaurant for dinner. The Friday special was
fish and we both enjoyed the fried haddock.
We were back with the dogs by 8:15 and settled in
for a quiet night.
Saturday October 15, 2016
The first night of every trip is a restless night
for Carol and I. Because it’s our first night in the RV we don’t
sleep as soundly as we usually do. Last night I don’t think we
slept at all!
It was very quiet and totally peaceful behind the
Cracker Barrel and we were exhausted when we tottered off to bed at
10:30 . . . but nevertheless we tossed, turned, moaned and groaned
I rolled over and picked up my tablet to check
the time and Carol noticed the light. “What time is it?” she asked.
“It’s 4:30” I groaned!
“Well,” she continued, “since we’re not sleeping
anyway, why don’t we hit the road now and we can be at the FlyingJ
in Pennsylvania in time for breakfast.”
It sounded logical, so we both scrambled out of
bed, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, walked the dogs and pulled
out at 4:48 a.m. Wow! From zero to sixty in eighteen minutes flat.
Coffee was a critical need! Carol isn’t what you
would call a “morning person” and if she doesn’t get coffee quickly
. . . well, let’s just leave it at “coffee was a critical need”. It
was over an hour before we found anywhere that was open and had
coffee. A Sunoco station somewhere in the wilds of northern New
York . . . and surprisingly the coffee wasn’t too bad!
Maybe it was the caffeine, but after the coffee
several things rolled through my mind as we careened down the lonely
highway in the dark. First I thought of the large herds of suicidal
deer that inhabit upstate New York. Although we did see a few
carcasses along the shoulder we thankfully didn’t have any close
Another thing I thought of was a comment I had
made to Carol the night before. I told her how glorious it would
look when we drove through the Cortland area, with the morning sun
lighting up the colourful trees lining the hills on our right.
Alas, it was still very dark as we passed Cortland. At one point
Carol did mention how nice the full moon looked as it reflected off
a lake alongside the highway! I guess there’s a silver lining in
It was 6:50 a.m. when we crossed the state line
into Pennsylvania and about 10 minutes later we pulled off at the
FlyingJ Truck Stop. I filled the rig up with gas, then Carol and I
walked the dogs again before heading in for breakfast at the Denny’s
Restaurant in the truck stop.
The sun was fully up by the time we got back on
the road and we continued to make good time in light traffic.
There were frequent patches of fog as we rose and
fell on our way through the Pennsylvania mountains, but traffic was
so light that we didn’t lose much time.
We pulled off at a rest area about 9:30 to
stretch our legs and give Blue and Jake another walk then carried on
toward our destination, Carlisle PA.
It was 11:00 a.m. when I pulled off I-81 at the
exit for the campground we planned to spend the night at. I turned
and asked Carol, “Have we ever arrived at a campground before
noon?” She thought about it for a few seconds and said, “Maybe
once, in Cape Cod.”
I pulled into a service station and parked while
we discussed our options. If we carried on another 90 minutes to
Winchester Virginia we would still arrive in early afternoon and it
would really shorten our drive on Sunday. Carol called the
campground in Winchester - yes, they had a campsite available for
us. Then she called the campsite in Carlisle (about 2 miles from
where we were parked at the time) and cancelled the reservation.
We were back on I-81 in just a few short minutes
enjoying the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley! It was also that part
of the trip where we touch four states in under an hour. We passed
from Pennsylvania into Maryland at 12:10 then arrived in West
Virginia at 12:22 and entered Virginia at 1:15.
Yes, I know, if you check the times you will see
that it was actually an hour and five minutes, but the 65 minutes
includes a stop at a rest area in West Virginia where we had some
turkey sandwiches for lunch. The best part of a Thanksgiving turkey
dinner is making sandwiches with the leftover meat!
We pulled off in
Winchester Virginia, topped up the fuel tank and arrived at the
Candy Hill Campground about 1:45. Our campsite was very close to
the off-leash dog park, so once we got the car unhooked and the
coach backed into the camp site Carol took Blue and Jake off to the
park for some long overdue exercise while I hooked up the utilities,
extended the slide-out rooms, dropped the stabilizer jacks and got
us all set up for the night!
Big problem! I ran the driver’s seat (a six-way
powered captain’s chair) forward to make room to extend the living
room slide. After the room was out I pushed the button to move the
chair back. It didn’t move. It was stuck all the way forward - so
far forward that there was no way I could sit behind the wheel to
drive! I laid on the floor and checked all the wires, then I went
to the fuse panel and checked all the 12V automotive fuses. No
success. Carol pulled out the big bag of owners manuals to see if
they had anything about chairs. Nada! Then Carol rolled around on
the floor looking at the chair for a while as I googled, trying to
find a solution. After about an hour of frustration we started
looking for any kind of manual way to disconnect the chair. In the
end it was fairly simple. I removed four bolts, two on each side,
which secured a revolving worm gear to the sliding rail the chair
sits on. With the worm gear disconnected the chair slides freely.
Problem solved! Once we get home our friendly RV dealer can figure
out what’s wrong with the chair!
After a sweaty afternoon on the floor I took a
well deserved shower while Carol fed the dogs, then we struck off to
search for Patsy Cline! The campground gave us a map showing local
points of interest and one of them was The Patsy Cline Historic
House. Carol is a big country music fan and although we’ve passed
through Winchester many times, and even stayed overnight a few
times, we had no idea that Patsy Cline was born and raised here. We
drove through a wonderful area of magnificent old colonial buildings
in the historic part of downtown Winchester before we arrived in
front of Patsy’s humble home at 608 South Kent Street.
The place was closed for the day when we arrived
but I expect we’ll be stopping to tour the building as we pass by on
some future trip!
After our-early morning start and a long day on
the road, followed by an hour rolling on the floor, we were
hungry!. Chick-fil-A won out this evening!
Then we headed to WalMart. Carol wanted to look
at some linens and I needed to find a new Hot Spot device for our
Virgin Mobile Internet plan. Our existing device will not hold an
electrical charge and as a result will not boot up. We’ve been
without WiFi for two days . . . it gives Carol something to play
with during our long days on the road so we were anxious to get it
replaced. Alas, the local store didn’t have the Virgin device in
stock and Carol couldn’t find the linens she wanted.
We were back home with the dogs just after 8:00
p.m. and settled in for another quiet evening. Sure hope we sleep
Sunday October 16, 2016
Well, we slept better. Not great, but better!
We were up at 6:00 and pulled out of the campground at 7:30.
The moon was setting . . .
. . . and the sun was rising.
Traffic was light as we drove through the Shenandoah Valley. This
is usually one of my favourite parts of the trip, it’s very scenic
as you watch row upon row of mountains on both sides!
today was mostly foggy, with occasional sunny breaks so there wasn’t
a great deal to see! The fall colours in that area don’t have the
spectacular reds we see at home, but we could seldom see the colours
so it made no difference!
We pulled off at a rest area at 9:30 and
stretched our legs by walking the dogs for a few minutes.
We reached I-77 in southern Virginia at 12:15 and
pulled off at a FlyingJ truck stop before making the turn.
We had a quick sandwich in the truck stop parking
lot then turned onto I-77 heading toward that big hill Carol just
loves to hate.
At Fancy Gap you spend about 30 miles climbing
one side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, then fall off the other side
in a 7 mile plunge! It’s a steady grade and over the 7 miles there
are 4 runaway truck ramps!
I really enjoy the view on a
clear day, but it was so hazy today that there was nothing to see
except those runaway truck lanes!
Carol breathed a sigh of relief when we hit the
bottom and rolled into North Carolina at 1:10. Locals call it “the
low country” and Carol likes it, nothing but gentle rolling hills!
She spotted the first palm tree of our trip near
Mile Marker 85 at about 1:25.
We pulled into our campground at Statesville at
2:00 and quickly got set up for the night.
Later on I chauffeured Carol on a shopping
safari; I’m still looking for that hotspot I’m determined to find .
. . and I still couldn’t find it! Carol said that there was nothing
she needed, but of course that means nothing! I’ve seen her buy
lots of stuff she doesn’t need!
On this trip, however, she cannot buy much! The
car is right full and she can’t put anything more in it! We’re
hauling 5 Mickey Mouse lamp posts I built down to Fort Wilderness.
The 5 heads and bases fill up the back seat! Carol came out of a
store with two shopping bags and had to ride home with them on her
lap! The car is really full!
We stopped for dinner at Golden Corral. We had
never eaten there before, but a friend told us he really enjoys it,
so we gave it a try. It really wasn’t bad. A nice variety of good
food at an affordable price. We both ate too much!
We were back home with dogs at 7:00 p.m. I
hooked the car up so we’d be ready to pull out in the morning, then
we settled in front of the TV and struggled to stay awake until
Monday October 17, 2016
Wow! I slept well and woke up at 5:45. We
savoured a few cups of coffee and fiddled on the internet before I
unhooked the utilities and Carol pushed all the buttons inside and
battened down all the moving parts that need to be tended to before
our home becomes a vehicle!
We pulled out at 7:00 and made good time on the
Interstate . . . for about 10 miles! Then rush hour at Charlotte
took over and we pretty much ground to a halt!
We were going so slow that Jake, who is usually a
bit nervous as we travel, was able to put his head down and have a
After about a half-hour of stop and go we turned
onto the I-485 bypass and our speed picked up quite a bit, but it
still took an hour to get around Charlotte!
We crossed the state line into South Carolina at
8:40 and about 20 minutes later pulled into the FlyingJ truck stop
for fuel. Wow - $1.969 per gallon - it’s almost like they’re giving
We were back on the road in no time, with big
cups of hot coffee, and continued to make good time all the way to
Columbia and Interstate 26. We made the turn onto eastbound I-26 at
10:25 and saw the first signs of damage from Hurricane Matthew just
a few minutes later. Trees were down along both sides of the road.
Some had been pulled back from the highway and cut up, but may were
simply trimmed so that the no longer overhung the road. They still
blocked the shoulders of the road in many areas.
We turned onto southbound I-95 at 11:05 and signs
of storm damage continued, mile after mile. There was still plenty
of standing water along the roadside and plenty of downed trees.
We stopped for a quick lunch at a rest area south
of Walterboro at 11:50. We walked the dogs then Carol made
sandwiches and we were underway again in about a half-hour.
We hit the Georgia State Line at 1:10 and tides
were at there peak. Carol always watched the salt marshes along the
sides of the highway, looking for gators and sea birds, but there
was little to see today because of the high tide!
We pulled off at our final destination, Brunswick
at 2:30 and topped up the tank for the fourth, and last, time on our
southbound trek. Next stop was the Blue Beacon truck wash just down
the road. Ouch - there were 10 trucks lined up, we were number 11.
They have two huge wash bays and move the rigs through quickly, but
it was still sixty minute wait!
By 3:25 the motor home and the car were sparkling
clean and we were on our way to the campground.
We had a site directly across from the off-leash
dog park so we set up quickly and then took the babies out for a
romp! They really enjoyed it!
Carol fed the dogs while I fiddled with the
Internet connection. I had a lot of trouble connecting and finally
gave up on it. Carol and I left, visited a few stores still looking
for that Virgin hot spot with no luck. We gave up and went looking
for dinner. Steak & Shake sounded good, but the Steak & Shake we
ate at here last year is now a Dairy Queen. Carol said, “Oh, look
across the street, it’s Bubba Jax Crab Shack.” We decided to give
it a try. It was great! The crab chowder was awesome and our
entrees were great. I think we’ll be going back there!
We were back home with the dogs by 7:15. Carol
vacuumed the coach while I hooked the car back up to the back of the
RV. It’s all ready to go in the morning! Then I managed to get
connected to the campground’s very slow internet service.
I spent some time getting this trip report
up-to-date, but by the time I finished the campground’s internet had
“crapped-out” again. I’ll have to wait and upload it once we get
settled at Disney.
We’ll probably get to bed early again. It’s
going to be a big day tomorrow. We arrive at Walt Disney World and
once we’re settled in at Fort Wilderness Campground we have plenty
of Halloween decorations to set up!
Tuesday October 18, 2016
We were up bright and early, at 5:45, because it
was our “Disney Day”. After four (and a half?) long days on the
road we would arrive at our destination.
We were excited, but it was one of those Catch 22
situations. There was no sense getting there too early because our
campsite wouldn’t be ready until at least noon! So we took our
time, fiddled on the computers and enjoyed a pot of coffee.
Finally at 7:15 we pulled up stakes and started
We crossed the Florida state line at 7:50. Do
you see those signs of hurricane cleanup in the background of that
Welcome Sign picture?
We snapped a few pictures at the Welcome Center
as we waited for them to open at 8:00 a.m. After our complimentary
orange juice we wandered to the vending center next door and bought
a Sun Pass at vending machine. We’ll transfer some cash to it and
use it at highway toll booths.
We approached Jacksonville at 8:30 and decided to
take the I-295 East Bypass to avoid rush hour.
We had just crossed the big Dames Point Bridge
when traffic slowed. In just a few seconds we went from 60 to
bumper to bumper, stop and go. In a few minutes we came to a fender
bender. It was a simple rear-end collision and once we were past it
we picked up speed again. That was about the time that our friends
Al & Jane from Missouri texted to confirm that we were going be just
down the street from them, in site 715. They have been at the
campground for a few days and we always enjoy camping near them and
“hanging out” a bit.
We stopped quickly for a leg stretch at a Love’s
truck stop just before we turned onto I-4 at 10:20. There were no
slowdowns through the many construction zones and we made great
time. We pulled onto Disney property at 11:30.
By 11:40 we were checking in at Fort Wilderness
and, as we expected, our site was not yet ready. We towed the car
to the overflow parking lot and disconnected it from the coach while
we waited there for the camp site to be cleaned.
Carol stayed with the dogs while I drove the car
to the 700 loop to check on the site! Our friendly campground
maintenance man Nelson had just finished, so I went straight back to
get Carol and the puppies!
Carol drove the car while the dogs and I followed
in the RV. She directed me as I backed into the campsite.
I had just plugged into electrical power and
connected the water, sewer and cable TV when one of the Mickey lamp
buyers showed up to collect her purchase. Christine couldn’t wait
for her young children to see their new lamp!
At 2:30 Carol and I took a break, hopped in the
car and went to Disney Springs to pick up our tickets. We had a few
park passes to upgrade and some Halloween and Christmas party
tickets to pick up. That was finished in no time flat so Carol
celebrated with a quick trip to the pin store where she picked up
the newly released Annual Passholder pin. I took a few pictures and
did some people-watching while I waited for her.
We got back to the campground at 3:40 and stopped
to pick up our rental golf cart, then started to set up the camp
site and decorate for Halloween.
The first step was to unpack the car and the
“basement” of the coach. While we travel the car acts as a cargo
trailer or storage shed. The trunk and back seat are crammed full
of stuff we think we need. All the hatches and storage bays under
the motor home are full too. We really do carry a lot of “stuff”
along with us!
Once we had it all out and stacked up we went to
work! We put out the patio carpet and chairs, put together patio
tables and assembled Mickey lamps. The dogs were outside with us as
we worked. That was when Jake discovered that he is a “bird dog”!
A flock of about a dozen turkeys wandered slowly and aimlessly past
the back of our camp site. Jake spotted them and gave chase . . .
or perhaps more accurately he gave bounce! The turkeys seemed to
run in a circle, round and round with an excited dog bouncing and
barking along behind them. Of course, Carol was bouncing along
behind the whole menagerie, she was squawking too as she tried to
catch Jake. It was a very entertaining few seconds!
After all the hubbub we got back to work,
stringing rope lights and putting up awning lights.
It was hot and sticky work so at 5:00 we took a
break to cool down. Carol fed the dogs and at 5:45 we drove the
golf cart to Trail’s End Buffet for dinner. We were seated 15
minutes before our 6:05 reservation. We always enjoy dinner there,
it’s one of the best values on Disney property, a sort of a hidden
We were back home just after 7:00 p.m. and spent
a few minutes hooking up timers and testing a few Halloween
inflatables but by 8:00 the mosquitoes had invaded so we moved
indoors. Carol decorated the dash of the coach with all sorts of
Halloween lights and figures . . . I vegetated.
We were both tired after a busy day; we’ll finish
This will be another “early to bed” night and I
imagine that just like Carol and I, the pups are looking forward to
tomorrow, a day when their house doesn’t spend all day bouncing down
Wednesday October 19, 2016
There was no need to rush this morning, and we
took advantage of it. We got up about 6:45 and savoured our morning
coffee in a quiet, serene campground. Aaah . . . this is nice!
My only chore of the morning was to clean the
front of the RV, we picked up a few more bug splatters since leaving
the truck wash. Carol fed the dogs while I squeegeed and scrubbed
the front of coach, then I chatted with our neighbours while she
took the boys for a walk.
By the time they were back it was time to head
off to EPCOT. We were pulling into the parking lot at the theme
park when Carol started rifling through her purse and slapping her
pockets! She had left her phone behind . . . that’s a real trauma
for my sweetie. Her whole life and all her plans are recorded in
that phone! Somehow we made it through the morning phone-free, but
it was a stressful time for Carol!
When we got to the park Carol was one of the
people randomly selected to go through the X-Ray scanner. This was
the first time I had seen that process, it was quick and painless!
We stopped for a quick PhotoPass picture and
headed toward Future World; we had a 10:00 a.m. FastPass+ for Soarin’
Around the World.
As we crossed the concourse in Future World West
I stopped for a few minutes to take pictures of that big circle on
the ground. It contains rings of markers describing important
scientific discoveries. Most people walk past and never see it, we
never saw it either until it was pointed out to us on a backstage
tour several years ago!
Then we were off to see the new Soarin’ show.
Instead of scenes from around California it now features scenes from
around the world. It was great! I loved the old show, but after
all these years it was time for a change!
We stopped for a few minutes at Club Cool where
the Coca Cola Company provides free samples of their soft drinks
from around the world. Some are tasty and refreshing and some are
not. Beverly is definitely not!
After a few samples and a few
pictures we headed to World Showcase to begin eating our way around
This year the Food & Wine Festival features 35
kiosks and a few new countries. We started at The Chew Collective
where Carol picked us up a Grilled Beef Skewer and a Peanut Butter
and White Chocolate Mousse. The beef was very nice and I really
enjoyed the bed of salad it was served on. Peanut butter and white
chocolate . . . how could that possibly be bad?
Next along our route was the Chocolate Studio
where Carol enjoyed the Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte.
Chocolate and raspberry are two of her favourite things, she
pronounced it delicious!
While she enjoyed her torte I picked up a three
cheese sampler from the nearby Wine & Dine Studio. It consisted of
small portions of blue cheese, old cheddar and goat cheese. Very
At Islands of the Caribbean we tasted the Quesito,
a puff pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese and guava sauce.
Carol stopped at Ireland and picked up one of my
favourites at the festival, the Seafood Fisherman’s Pie. She had a
tiny taste then I hoovered up the rest!
Our last stop was Scotland where we enjoyed the
Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon.
By then we were full and we had made it less than
¼ of the way around. In previous years we’ve been able to
complete the circuit in three days. This year it may take
On our way toward the exit we stopped and shopped
at Mouse Gear then carried on back to the campground.
We were home with dogs about 1:30.
Carol sat inside for a few minutes re-bonding
with her phone and checking out a small issue with our tickets while
I pulled out the folding step ladder to take our bikes off the rack
on the back of the coach. Then I moved to the front of the rig and
climbed ladder a few times to wipe and polish the windshield I had
squeegeed a few hours earlier!
By the time I finished cleaning Carol was sorting
out our inflatable decorations and placing them around our camp
site. Then we dragged wires around to connect them.
As we worked, a young boy from a campsite down
the road from us dropped by again and again to watch our progress.
He brought his younger sister with him a few times and they stood
quietly across the road watching us work.
We kept busy all afternoon with the decorating
and by 4:30 we were pretty much done. It was looking good!
Our friends Al & Jane dropped by for a short
visit just as we finished. We were sitting chatting with Al & Jane
when the little boy wandered past with his whole family, they were
on their way to the comfort station. The family stopped and the
boy, Jake, came over and offered us a cute little decoration. They
are heading home to Brownsburg, Indiana in the morning and he liked
our site so he wanted us to add his decoration to it. How sweet . .
. thanks Jake! Carol went into the RV and came out with some
Canadian candy bars, a Halloween treat for Jake and his sister.
It was late when Carol fed the dogs and Blue let
his momma know that the 45 minute delay did not sit well with him!
Once they were walked we hopped in the car and headed to Disney
Springs and dinner at Earl of Sandwich.
We headed to guest relations first to resolve
that little ticket issue, after a bit too much pleading and a
referral to a manager the cast member agreed to extended the expiry
of my 10 day base ticket from November 2to Nov 8. We
have had annual passes for so many years that we simply forgot about
the impact of those expiry dates!
Then we were off to Earl’s; Carol had a tuna
melt, one of her favourites and I tried a new sandwich, turkey,
apple & brie. Both were yummy!
Carol shopped for pins while I sat reading my
book, then she returned to announce that she would allow me to buy
her some ice cream at Ghirardelli. That wasn’t a hard sell!
We were back
home at 8:30, sore and achy after a lot of walking and a lot of
decorating. The hot tub sounded good so we took the dogs out for
the call of nature then changed and took the golf cart to the pool
area to soak our weary bones. We walked into pool area at 8:54 and
noticed the pool closing time - 9:00. Dang! We made the best of
our 6 minute soak and headed home to relax.
Thursday October 20,
Morning came at 6:45 again today and we both
spent some time fiddling at our computers and enjoying a pot of
coffee. I spent some time updating our trip report while Carol
puttered outside stringing some mini-lights to complete out
We had no theme park plans until later in the
afternoon so it became a shopping day. We left at 10:00 a.m.
heading to Winter Garden. I needed some Mickey lamp parts from Home
Depot and a new Internet hot spot device which I hoped to find at
Walgreens, Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Carol wanted to stop at Publix for
milk and a few other grocery items. Our first stop was at
Walgreens; unfortunately they had no portable hot spots. We carried
on north on County Route 535 when Carol said, “Look, there’s TD
Collectibles.” It’s a store full of Disneyana items run by Diana
Phillips and her husband Tom who we met last June in Dayton Ohio.
Carol had planned to stop in later in our stay, but since we were
right there . . .
She found a few treasures including a pair of
Disney Classic Collection figurines, Bambi and Flower.
Our next stop was Wal-Mart where I decided to
forget about Virgin Mobile and bought a Boost Mobile hot spot. We
have been Virgin customers for about five years but no one seems to
carry their hardware anymore! Carol decided that she didn’t need
Publix after all, she picked up her few grocery items at Wal-Mart
while I shopped for the hot spot.
Just down the road a bit was Home Depot where I
picked up the parts I needed for the lamp, and a few spare parts
On the way home we took Route 429, a toll road,
to test our new Sun Pass transponder. It worked like a charm! We
exited the highway and entered Disney property via Western Way.
We were back home with the dogs at 1:00 p.m.
The puppies were long overdue for some exercise
so we loaded them up on the golf cart and drove over to the
off-leash park. Soon they were huffing and puffing, but they were
much happier dogs!
On our way home we encountered a big stork near
the Meadow Trading Post. It was huge! When we got back to the
coach Carol found it in her bird book, it was a Wood Stork.
I spent a few minutes uploading a trip report
instalment and then joined my napping wife and dogs!
The puppies had dinner about an hour early and at
4:30 Carol and I left on our way to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween
The boat was waiting when we arrived at the Fort
Wilderness Marina and it whisked us to the Magic Kingdom.
Our first stop was the Fire Hall where Carol
picked up her Sorcerer’s Cards, then we took a backstage route up
Main Street to pick up our Trick or Treat bags and our first
We wandered slowly to Adventureland and used our
FastPass+ to scoot through the line at Pirates of the Caribbean.
Then we went to The Skipper Canteen for dinner.
It was our first time at this new table service restaurant. We were
seated in air conditioned comfort about 20 minutes before our
appointed time and spent a few minutes soaking in the atmosphere.
The servers act very much like the Jungle Cruise skippers, there are
lots of corny jokes, and the nautical theme is evident everywhere.
Carol ordered the Char Siu Pork (marinated and
grilled) and really enjoyed it. I tried the Sustainable Fish (black
cod) and found it “OK” but not something I would order again. There
are several other dishes I may try next time!
Carol activated her Sorcerer game at Frontierland
as we passed by on our way to The Haunted Mansion. It was a
Halloween Party after all, it’s almost compulsory to ride the
We took a loop through the trick or treat line
alongside the Liberty Belle Riverboat at Liberty Square, then on our
way to Cinderella Castle we picked up some more treats at Peter
We found a good spot in front of Cinderella
Castle and had a great view of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular
show in the castle forecourt. Last year we were a long way back and
had such a poor view that we didn’t really appreciate how good the
show is. This year we had a much better location and thoroughly
enjoyed the performance.
We went to Casey’s Corner looking for a table to
sit at during Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade but it was
simply too crowded so we walked over to Liberty Square and watched
the parade from the sidewalk in front of Liberty Tavern. I think
this our favourite of all the Disney parades!
Since we were at Liberty Square once again we
took a second walk through the trick or treat line at the riverboat,
then followed it with a second trip through the line at Peter Pan’s
We passed through Fantasyland and stopped at
Sweet Treats for a cold drink on our way to Tomorrowland. Carol
popped into Mickey’s Star Traders and managed to find a pin she’d
been looking for the last two days, then we visited another trick or
treat line near Buzz Lightyear. This one had three candy stations
and they were giving out huge hands-full of goodies. We went
through a second time!
I made my way over to Main Street and found a
vacant corner table at Casey’s which offered an excellent view of
Celebrate the Magic and the Happy Hallowishes fireworks
spectacular. Carol did three more trick or treat loops in
Tomorrowland before she joined me at Casey’s!
She got back just before Celebrate the Magic
began and we each had Casey’s hot dog; they’re sure not as good as
they used to be.
After the Happy Hallowishes fireworks we let the
crowd thin then wandered down Main Street through the Emporium on
our way to the exit. We stopped for a Photopass picture then
carried on to the dock where the boat was waiting for us.
We were home
with the dogs at 11:10 after a great day!
Here's a little sampling of
the goodies we brought home!
Friday October 21,
We were up again at 6:45 and had a relaxed start
with our normal computer, coffee & cereal routine.
At 9:30 we pulled out for a day at Animal
Our first stop was in the Discovery Trading
Company shop near the Tree of Life. Our friend Naomi from Georgia
is working at Walt Disney World on the college program and has just
extended her stay from January to May 2017. She’s enjoying the
experience at Disney so much that she doesn’t want it to end!
After a nice visit with Naomi we headed on to
Africa and booked an excursion with Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Wow . . . it was busy! The FastPass+ line looped
out into the street and back to the stroller parking area.
Thankfully the line moved very quickly and we boarded our truck in
about 20 minutes. There were quite a few animals we didn’t see but
the ones that were out put on a pretty good show!
The male lion was sound asleep on top of the
Kopje Rocks, but he woke just as we arrived!
On our way to Asia for our Everest Expedition we
noticed that Flights of Wander was just about to start so we found
seats in the center of the theatre and enjoyed the show.
It was just after noon when finished our
thrilling ride at Everest and headed to Yak & Yeti for lunch. I
stood in line in front of the take-out window while Carol ran inside
to see if we could get a table without a reservation. She found us
two stools at the bar and we had a great lunch!
On our way back to the campground we stopped at
Property Control to see what was new since Carol was last there in
August. It’s a clearance centre so merchandise selection is always
hit and miss, but today she found a few things she just had to have!
We were home greeting some happy puppies at
2:30. Animal Kingdom seems to be a “hot” park and we usually come
out tired and sweaty! By the time we were home we were both looking
forward to a nap.
After a refreshing hour-long doze Carol took a
load of laundry over to the comfort station and got it started.
With the hot, humid weather we’ve had since we arrived I’ve been
burning through two shirts a day!
While the clothes were washing we loaded the dogs
in the golf cart and drove to the off-leash park where they had a
When Carol brought the clean clothes home it was
time for dinner. We‘d had a big lunch so I fired up the barbecue
and grilled some hot dogs.
We finished up our day’s activities with a trip
to the pool and hot tub. The hot tub was soothing and the pool was
refreshing . . . just what we needed.
We were home by
8:45 and enjoyed a bit of television before bed.
Saturday October 22,
It was a cool night. Gloriously cool. We slept
well with windows open. In the morning we relaxed over coffee and
walked the dogs.
Carol and I were taking the dogs for a walk at
about 9:30 a.m. She and the pups were outside waiting for me when
she spotted several deer right behind our coach. She came
scampering back to the RV, got her camera and snapped off a few
pictures before Jake discovered that he is a deer stalker.
He growled, barked and bounced a few times and
all the deer bounded off into the forest!
So far Jake has repelled invading turkeys and
deer but he seems ambivalent to the hordes of squirrels that roam
the grounds here. They sit in the trees and chatter at him,
sometimes only a few feet away with their tails waving, yet he
studiously ignores them.
Perhaps they're beneath his dignity. Jake
may see himself as more of a big-game-guy!
Carol left at 10:00 with Al & Jane; they were on
a shopping expedition to TD Collectibles. I stayed behind with the
dogs and did some chores. There were a few minor fixes I needed to
make in the RV, then I dumped and rinsed the holding tanks before
heading off to install lights in our friend Hilda’s Mickey Mouse
lamp posts. I got home from Hilda’s just as Carol returned at
12:00. She bought a few pins, but there was nothing else new in the
store since our visit the day before.
We loaded the dogs on the golf cart and headed to
the off leash dog park, stopping along the way to deliver some
Halloween treats to Hilda and Stephanie!
Once the dogs were fully romped we went back home
and had sandwiches for lunch.
We tend to avoid the theme parks on the weekends
and Carol needed a few groceries so we headed to Publix and made a
side trip to Character Corner on the way. The store, on Route 192,
has quite a diverse selection of Disneyana but Carol didn’t find any
hidden treasures today so we carried on to Publix. I sat in the car
reading while she picked up the few things we needed. We were back
home with the dogs by 3:30 and they were happy to join me for a nap.
The puppies had another early dinner and we
walked them before Al and Jane came to pick us up at 5:15. We had a
5:45 dinner reservation at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian
Hotel. It’s a buffet dinner with characters from Cinderella. While
we ate all the characters dropped by our table, spoke with us and
posed for pictures. We had a great time chatting with our friends
We were back home at 7:30 and decided to do some
“looping”. That’s what Fort Wilderness campers call it when they
drive their golf carts around and around the campground checking out
their neighbour’s decorations.
We loaded the dogs on the cart once again and
struck off to see all the Halloween decor! There is more and
more every day. By the time our group of Internet friends
arrive next Wednesday for a walking tour of the campground there
should be some wonderful displays!
It had cooled
down noticeably by the time we got back home at 8:30. The forecast
low tonight is 55°. We should sleep well again tonight!
Sunday October 23,
Today was planned to be a “do-nothing” day and it
turned out pretty much that way. We had no plans for a theme park
visit, just brunch in the campground and a stroll around Disney
It was cool and comfortable in the morning. I
spent about an hour inside finishing up a blog for Allears.net then
moved out to “the patio” and enjoyed a few cups of coffee with Carol
and the dogs. Just to be clear, Carol and I had the coffee, not the
We took the dogs for a walk along the canal
behind the 800 camping loop then I sat outside reading my book while
we waited for Al & Jane. They showed up right on time at 10:15 and
we rode to Trail’s End Restaurant in their snazzy new golf cart.
Trail’s End began serving a new “brunch” on
weekends, Saturday & Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and we had
been anxious to try it. It was a good meal, but I was a bit
disappointed. I saw very little to distinguish the $23.00 brunch
from the regular $17.99 buffet breakfast. The brunch was good, but
probably not a “do-over”. The regular buffet breakfast is better
We were home with the dogs at 11:45 and took them
out for another walk before we drove to Disney Springs to walk
around and see the sights.
We covered the entire area between West Side and
Marketplace, checking out many of the new shops. There are a few
areas still to be completed, but most of the construction is
finished and the results look great. There are wide walkways to
accommodate crowds and a variety of architecture.
The crank Carol is turning operates the auger
shown on the left. She worked hard to draw a couple of gallons
of water up the sluice.
Carol liked the Vera Bradley store!
She was smiling when she came out of The
We watched an Amphicar
land beside the new Boathouse Restaurant.
Carol went shopping at Marketplace, I stayed and
people-watched near the Lego Store and the Lime Garage. She was
back at 2:45 and we headed home. By 3:15 we had the dogs loaded on
the golf cart and took them to the dog park for some exercise.
I napped with the dogs while Carol rode her bike
to Tri-Circle-D Ranch and visited with the Disney horses. The
Headless Horseman’s steed, Kahn, was getting a bath!
Red, pictured on the left, is a new addition to
the Disney stables. He pulls the hay-wagon rides at Fort
Wilderness Resort and Campground.
Carol made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner,
which we ate in the coach. After I had the dishes cleaned up she
announced that I would be allowed to buy her some ice cream at The
Settlement Trading Post.
As we approached the Trading Post a young deer
was grazing alongside the walking trail. Carol was able to
walk within 12 feet of the deer and snap a few pictures with her
We picked up ice cream bars and drove the golf
cart around several camping loops while we ate them
There were lots of empty camp sites; they should
fill up during the week since the campground is sold out for
We were back home at 7:30 and spent a few minutes
helping direct a family from Georgia as they backed a huge trailer
into a pitch-black campsite across from ours. I hate setting up
after dark, but the man did an incredible job backing up in horrible
We settled in for a quiet night of television.
October 24, 2016
We were up at our regular time today and
immediately set a slow comfortable pace that we managed to maintain
all day. Once again we had very little planned. The only thing
fixed in our arrangements was a 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at The
Boathouse in Disney Springs.
I fiddled at my computer and had a bite of
breakfast while Carol and Blue went for a long walk around the
campground. When they got back Carol suggested that we take a drive
to the Florida Mall to check out J.C. Penny and The Disney Store.
Within minutes we had walked the dogs (Jake
needed to go potty) and were on our way northeast to the mall. I
needed some new shirts and J.C. Penny has a great Big & Tall
department. The Disney Store? Well, Carol can never get too much
of that place!
We arrived just as the mall was opening at 10:00
a.m. and headed directly to the big boy’s department at J.C. Penny.
I found 7 nice shirts, then I found a nice chair in the concourse
just outside the store where I sat reading my book while Carol
scoured the rest of the mall. She even took a few minutes to visit
the Yankee Candle Store where a friend, Kelly, is the manager. She
was back an hour later, at 11:30, and her FitBit told her that she
had walked 1.3 miles. It’s a big mall! Her only other purchases
were at the Disney Store where she picked up some nice Christmas
We made quick stops at Toys R Us and Walgreens
near the mall but neither store had what we were after, so we turned
and headed for home. I decided to return via the John Young Parkway
and Route 192. Big mistake! Too many traffic lights and too much
traffic . . . it took twice as long as it would have on Interstate
At about 1:00 p.m. we pulled into the Chick-fil-A
Restaurant on Route 192 for a late lunch.
We were back home at 1:45. We let the dogs out
for a short break, then rode our bikes to Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Carol
had been there the previous day and was hoping there would be a 2:30
p.m. barn tour.
The tour only happens when a number of conditions
are met, it is totally at the discretion of the cast members. If
chores are up-to-date, if horses are all in good health and if there
is a cast member available to lead the tour they will put up a sign
by about 10 a.m. announcing that the tour will happen that day.
The sign was up when we arrived at 2:05 so we
spent 25 minutes in the barn, mixing with the horses while we
One of the grooms, Beth, was giving a white pony
a haircut! It turned out that just a few minutes later when the
tour began Beth was our guide. She has worked in the Disney stables
for a year and she did a great job introducing us to all the horses
and how the stable cast deal with the care of these amazing animals.
Disney only hires people with at least 5 years
experience working with horses to join the stable cast. Once they
are hired they all spend about 1 year cleaning out stalls before
moving up, next working with trail ride horses, then later promoted
to work in the draft horse barns. There are three stables at Walt
Disney World, trail ride horses are stabled near the Outpost, behind
the bus stop, ponies are stabled near Pioneer Hall and draft horses
are stabled in the big barn behind the pony stable. All Disney
horses are male except for a few of the little white ponies.
Harnesses for Cinderella's ponies
Most of the draft horses are Percherons, but they
have a few Clydesdales and Belgians. All Percherons are born black
but most lighten and turn grey or white as they age. It was a great
tour, Carol and I highly recommend it. If you are near the stables
in the early afternoon, go and have a look for that sign at
Every Thursday there is another treat at
Tri-Circle-D Ranch when the Farrier visits the stable to check all
of the horses hooves and re-shoe them as necessary. It's a
treat to watch him use age-old techniques to treat and trim the
hooves, then use the forge and anvil to custom fit new shoes to each
mornings are a very good time to visit Tri-Circle-D.
After the stable tour we rode our bikes home,
loaded the dogs up in the golf cart and took them to the park for
some exercise. Then it was time for a nap, two humans and two dogs,
it was a double-double nap!
After their romp in the park the dogs both ate a
good dinner and by 5:30 Carol and I were on our way to Disney
Springs for dinner at he Boathouse. Carol had eaten there in
August, but it was a first for me.
We sat outside at a table overlooking Village
Lake and watched the Sassagoula Steamboat Company boats and the
Amphicars pass by throughout our meal.
Our dinners were awesome. I started with a wedge
salad, it was fresh, crisp and oh-so tasty! My entrée was clam
strips and Carol enjoyed sirloin sliders. It was all perfectly
prepared, well presented and very satisfying. We wrapped up our
meal by sharing a wonderful dessert, Whiskey Caramel Cornbread Cake.
We wandered out through the floating bar area in
front of the restaurant and admired some of the classic old boats on
display there. It was too dark to see them well and much too dark
for pictures. We’ll have to go back in daylight to see them!
We wandered through Marketplace and visited the
Art of Disney Store. I walked over to Earl of Sandwich and sat
outside reading while Carol browsed the Christmas Store and the Pin
Station. She collected me at Earl’s and we were back home with the
dogs by 8:30.
Tuesday October 25,
We followed our usual routine of coffee and
computer and enjoyed a glorious sunrise.
The campground was quiet and peaceful as a
brilliant red sky shone through the trees.
Carol took Blue for a long walk while I showered
and took Jake for a short walk. By 9:15 a.m. we were on our way to
As we entered we noticed that the PhotoPass line
for Daisy wasn’t too long so we stopped for a picture before
carrying on to The Land.
We had a 10:00 a.m. FastPass+ for Living With The
Land and arrived exactly on time, to find about a dozen people in
the standby line. They have made some changes in the greenhouses
since we were last there, several new gardens and new water
As we passed Soarin’ at 10:15 we noticed that the
standby wait was only 35 minutes so we stepped into the queue.
The time was exactly right, we were loaded into
our glider at 10:50 and enjoyed another great ride. I really do
enjoy the new show!
It was time for our ride in Norway, my first time
at Frozen Ever After. Carol had ridden it once in August.
It’s a cute ride, not awesome or mind-blowing,
but cute. The little girls will love it!
Then it was time to start the second instalment
of our Food & Wine adventure. We were on the opposite side of the
lagoon so rather than pick up where we left off we walked to China
then turned around so we could nibble our way back toward the exit.
At China we had one of our favourites, the Pot
We stopped at Mexico and rode the Grand Fiesta
The Mexican kiosk had a huge line so we bypassed
it and went on to Australia where we sampled Grilled Shrimp and
Yellow Cake dipped in chocolate and coconut. Both were tasty!
The line at Mexico had dissipated so Carol picked
us up a Shrimp Taco and a Beef Enchilada. We both enjoyed the taco
but neither of us cared much for the enchilada. A bit too spicy for
me and too much refried beans for Carol.
At Farm Fresh we tried the Mac ‘n Cheese, which
we really enjoyed last year, and Chicken and Dumplings. Thumbs up
We were starting to fill up so we decided that
Hawaii would be our last stop, the Pork Slider there is another of
our favourites! In fact, they’re so tasty that we gobbled it up
before we thought to take a picture!
Our food finale was a Cronut from the Refreshment
Port. There’s always room for a Cronut!
Carol wanted to browse the Festival Center
located in the old Wonders of Life building at Future World. I
headed to the parking lot to make sure the car was chilled and ready
for my princess!
She tasted a free sample at Ghirardelli and took
a few pictures of the creative displays, made entirely of chocolate!
Made entirely of
Made entirely of
We were home with the dogs at 2:00 and took a
well deserved nap. I took the dogs off to the park and gave them a
good run, then dropped them off at the RV with Carol. I took a ride
around a few camping loops checking out the Halloween decorations in
daylight and by the time I got back home Carol had the dogs fed. It
was time to walk them before heading off to EPCOT for dinner at
We left at 5:00 p.m. and walked back to World
Showcase Lagoon where we caught the Friendship boat from Canada to
Morocco. A short walk later we were at Japan checking in for
dinner. It was a last minute decision, Carol just made the
reservation a few days ago. It’s one of our favourite Disney
restaurants and we had an excellent meal.
Over dinner we chatted with our table-mates, a
nice young couple from Virginia, somewhere in the
Arlington/Washington area. It was there first trip to Walt Disney
World and they peppered us with questions. Their enthusiasm was
We dashed back to Morocco and missed the
Friendship boat by a half second. The cast member was just
beginning to pull the rope across the entrance when we asked, “Can
two more board the boat?” The surly cast member snapped back, “It’s
7:30; the dock is closed!” I guess it isn’t always magical for
everyone in our happy place; I hope there are happier days ahead for
We walked around the lagoon and took a ride on
As we exited after our ride Carol said, “Oh,
look! The Art of Disney store. It must be fate!” I sat on the
stone wall beside the store for a few minutes while she browsed.
We were back home with the dogs by 8:30 and took
them along with us on the golf cart while we “looped” around the
campground checking out the decorations and planning our route for
the walking tour on Wednesday.
Once we had a route mapped out in our minds we
settled in for a quiet night of television.
Wednesday October 26,
Our friends from Missouri, Al and Jane, had
invited us to join them for Whispering Canyon Wednesday. They are
“snowbirds” and spend the greater part of the year living in
campsite #705 at Fort Wilderness. They have almost finished their
second week of a planned eight-month stay.
They have two standing traditions, Toy Story
Tuesday and Whispering Canyon Wednesday. Every Tuesday they head to
Hollywood Studios and ride Toy Story Midway Mania and every
Wednesday they have breakfast at Whispering Canyon Café.
Al, Jane, Craig,
Bridget, Carol, Gary
They picked us up at 9:15 and by 9:30 we were
seated at their special table. If you should happen to pass by
Whispering Canyon Café on a Wednesday morning, look for the one
table, among a sea of bare tables, that is set with a linen table
cloth and linen napkins. Don’t sit there, that’s Al and Jane’s
table! The cast members all know them and of course Al and Jane
call all of the cast by name. They wear Whispering Canyon Wednesday
t-shirts they had custom made for the occasion. Even the other
cast members in the restaurant like to get in on the action. Last year
Al and Jane were surprised to find their
favourite server, Chad, wearing a Whispering Canyon Wednesday apron.
One of his fellow servers had made it for him to wear every week
when his favourite diners arrive!
The café is always a raucous place, but it’s
especially raucous when Al and Jane are there. Cast members Craig
and Bridget came and sat with us for a while, server Chad used our
camera to take pictures of us and a few tables around us, several
new cast members came by to introduce themselves to the “celebrity
diners”, even Assistant Manager Jenna came by to say hello. We had
a terrific time!
We left Wilderness Lodge and signed Al and Jane
in at Property Control. Jane and Carol managed to find some
treasures in the clearance store before we headed home to our lonely
We were back home by 12:30, walked the dogs and I
spent some time uploading some pictures and the most recent
instalment of the trip report.
We tried to nap but it didn’t seem to work so we
hopped on our bikes and rode over to the Bike Barn to register for
the Halloween events. It turns out that they’re not accepting
registrations yet; they told us to come back Saturday. After the
debacle with the home-schooling group who were planning to bus about
400 children in on Halloween night to trick-or-treat Disney
management have been very cautious with their arrangements.
I loaded the puppies on the golf cart and drove
them to the dog park for a run while Carol vacuumed and cleaned the
Then we enjoyed a lazy afternoon while we waited
for our friends from Tagrel.com to arrive.
Carol fed the dogs a bit early and we left just
before 5:00 p.m. to meet the Tagrel.com gang at Trail’s End. Just
before we left the 700 loop we stopped to look at a few wild
turkeys. Three of them were laying on the ground around a shiny
black pickup truck. The fourth turkey, presumably their queen, was
perched on top of the truck!
Some of our Tagrel pals were at the restaurant
when we arrived and it wasn’t long before the rest showed up. We
stood chatting on the veranda for a half hour or so, then moved into
the restaurant for dinner. There were 19 of us and we had two large
tables not far from the buffet.
While we were eating Chef TeeJay arrived with one
of his special dishes, macaroni and cheese topped with sweet chilli
sauce, beef brisket, chopped green onions and cheezies. Yes, it
sounds very odd, but it was delicious!
Later, when we were all stuffed he arrived again
with complimentary strawberry shortcake for both tables. It was
We moved outside to chat for a few more minutes
and at about 6:45 we started our walking tour of the campground.
There are still plenty of vacant camp sites but there are more and
more lights and decorations to see each day. Everyone was snapping
pictures as we slowly made our way through the 100, 400, 500 and 600
loops before arriving at our campsite in the 700 loop.
Carol brought out water, soft drinks and candy
and we sat outside visiting until about 9:00 p.m. when the last
guests headed to the marina to catch a boat to the Magic Kingdom.
Carol and I moved inside and settled for the
Thursday October 27,
We had an early start this morning, so naturally
we slept in until 7:30. We scrambled to get ready and managed to
leave at 8:45 for Animal Kingdom.
The bag-check line was the slowest ever, it
seemed to take forever for Carol to get through. We scurried as
quickly as we could and met the Tagrel gang in Harambe Village at
We chatted as we waited for a few others caught
in that same bag-check delay, then at 9:35 fifteen of us entered the
It was a good ride, we could understand what the
driver was saying, there were plenty of animals to see and the
driver stopped at just the right time . . . in most cases. The only
problem was that we were in the very back row. We bumped, bounced,
jostled and careened through the entire ride. I’m surprised Carol
was able to focus any pictures and keep any animals “in-frame”, but
she did manage to get some good shots!
The lions were front and center at the Kopje
The male was right up on top
of the highest rock in a place we had never seen him before. Carol
had to shoot into sun, but got a good picture.
Once we got around to the other side the lighting
was much better but the bouncing was much worse. This was the best
focus and framing she could manage!
It was a different story with the female, the
driver stopped us directly in front of her.
After our safari we stopped at the gorilla
compound beside the safari exit for a group PhotoPass.
We walked to Expedition Everest where several of
us used the single rider line for a quick ride while we waited for
the group to assemble.
By 11:15 everyone was there so we stepped in the
FastPass+ line and took a high speed run through the Himalayas.
We had a nice lunch with the gang at Flame Tree
BBQ, then said goodbyes and headed for home. The dogs were glad to
see us when we pulled in at 1:15 p.m.
It wasn’t long before I loaded the puppies on the
golf cart and took them to the dog park. Little Jake has a bad
habit of running in anticipation of me throwing the ball. He looks
back over his shoulder as he runs forward, to see where the throw
goes. Today he was running forward quickly, looking back over his
shoulder, when he ran smack into one of the agility ramps in the
park. He rolled a few times after the collision and stood up in a
daze. In a few seconds he recovered enough that he wanted to run
some more, but he really wasn’t ready to run. I loaded them up and
took them home. Jake was huffing and puffing the way dogs do when
they’re in pain but, with a lot of cuddling from his Momma, he
settled down in about an hour.
We all had a short nap then Carol fed them a bit
We left for Animal Kingdom at 4:45. Our first
stop was Tough To Be A Bug. When we left the theatre it was time to
head to the courtyard area in front of Flame Tree BBQ to see the
6:00 p.m. performance of the Discovery Island Carnivale.
Upbeat music, bright costumes, energetic dancing
and audience participation all combine to create a dazzling show.
It was very enjoyable.
After the Carnivale it was time for dinner so we
headed to Pizzafari. When we finished eating it was just beginning
to get dark so I was surprised when Carol said, “Let’s do another
There was virtually no one in the standby line,
we walked directly back and boarded our truck. This time we were in
the front row; there was much less bouncing to contend with. We saw
plenty of animals but it was too dark for good pictures in most
areas, but there was a bit of light on the lions who posed close
enough together to give us this picture.
Harambe Village was alive with entertainment as
we passed through.
As we headed toward the exit the new Tree of Life
projection show, Tree Of Life Awakenings, was playing. It was very
entertaining. I was surprised how clear the projected images were
when you consider the texture of the tree they are projected on. It
was much better than I expected.
We left the park at 7:45 and were back home with
the dogs just after 8:00. Jake was showing no ill effects from his
afternoon accident. We’re very thankful!
The four of us took a ride in the golf cart and
prowled a few camping loops before we settled in for the night.
Friday October 28, 2016
It was another early morning. We were up bright
and early, fed the dogs, walked them and headed to the marina at
8:15 a.m. The boat was waiting when we arrived and quickly whisked
us to the Magic Kingdom.
We were in the park at 8:30 and encountered the
Main Street Trolley Dancers.
We stopped for a few PhotoPass opportunities as
we made our way to Tomorrowland to use our FastPass+ at Buzz
Lightyear. There was no one in the standby line so we used it for a
ride, then took a second ride using the FastPass. We were tied
after two rides, I won the first bout and Carol edged me in the
We started toward Fantasyland to meet our
Tagrel.com group for a ride on the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Along the
way Carol stopped to look for pin at Mickey’s Star Traders; she’s
still looking for a 45th Anniversary pin! No luck so
We connected with most of our group near the 7
Dwarfs Mine Train and while we waited for a few stragglers Carol ran
to Frontierland looking for that elusive pin. Still no luck!
We took a few group pictures, then took our ride
with the dwarfs.
Carol and I went on to The Journey of the Little
Mermaid for a ride. We finished up in Fantasyland with a ride on
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
We headed toward exit. Carol browsed her
way down Main Street while I walked the sidewalk and took a few
The boat just pulling away as we left the park so
we waited about 15 minutes for the next boat which had us back to
Fort Wilderness at 11:45.
We found some comfortable rocking chairs on the
veranda at Trail’s End Restaurant and waited for our lunch
Our friends Deb & Linda arrived at 12:00 sharp
and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with them. There was plenty of
laughter; we had a fun couple of hours with them before we went our
Carol and I went back to RV; she puttered around
the campsite while I took the dogs to the off-leash park. No
mishaps today, they both had a good run!
Ryan from Orlando, a camper we met a few years
ago, came by with the blue merle Australian Shepherd we admired last
year when he was just a tiny puppy. He’s now a year-and-a-half old,
but just as cute as he was last year.
Carol went to the comfort station and used the
house phone to call for a reservation at Kona Café. I had a short
nap, then we fed the dogs a bit early, walked them and headed off to
Carol spent a few minutes in the Pin Station
while I sat at Earl of Sandwich waiting for our Tagrel.com group. It
wasn’t long before everyone arrived so we wandered in an picked up
dinner. We each had our favourite sandwich, I had the All American
and Carol enjoyed Earl’s Original Roast Beef. As always, they were
We chatted for a while after dinner then Carol
and I drove one of the gang, Amy, home. She lives directly behind
the Magic Kingdom.
We were back with dogs by 8:00, loaded them on
the golf cart and drove around a few camping loops checking the
lights. There are twice as many decorated camp site as there were
two nights ago!
We watched some
TV and went to bed early. Tomorrow will be another early day!
Saturday October 29,
It was another early morning; we were meeting our
Tagrel.com group at Hollywood Studios. The dogs were fed a bit
early and while they were eating we heard the local owls hooting.
Carol took her camera in case she saw the owls, but no such luck!
She did get a great picture of this hawk though!
We were at Hollywood Studios in time for rope
drop at 9:00 a.m. and connected with our group just inside the
entrance. I went with Pam, Karen, Lynne, and Susan R. to Toy Story
Midway Mania where we joined the standby line and took a ride.
Meanwhile Carol went with Susan L. to enjoy the highs and lows of
Tower of Terror.
After the five of us rode Toy Story we made our
way along Sunset Boulevard and paused for a PhotoPass picture.
We met the rest of the group at the end of Sunset
Boulevard and then 11 of us cashed in our FastPasses to ride Tower
of Terror as a group.
After taking a group picture we stopped for
coffee and a pastry at Starring Rolls.
Just as we were finishing our snack some ominous
music began! Soon a group of storm troopers marched up Hollywood
Boulevard. We dashed out to get a good view, and luckily we found
ourselves standing on the curb in exactly the right spot.
They stopped and performed a short routine
directly in front of us before they moved on to the stage in front
of the Chinese Theatre. It’s a new show called “March of the First
Order” which they perform several times a day.
After all that excitement we walked over to Pixar
Place to ride Toy Story Midway Mania. We were just setting up for a
group photo when a toy soldier who was passing by jumped in to join
After 12 of us rode Toy Story Carol and I said
our goodbyes and headed down the street to One Man’s Dream, a
tribute to the life of Walt Disney.
We checked the standby line for The Great Movie
Ride but it was way too long so we wandered over to the Muppet
Courtyard and enjoyed MuppetVision 3D along with Statler and
It was just past noon when we made our way toward
the exit and encountered The March of the First Order for the second
On the way back to the campground we stopped at
Winn-Dixie and Walgreens to pick up a few items ands were back home
with the dogs at 1:30.
After we had a sandwich I put together two Mickey
lamps people were coming to pick up. Then it seemed like the
perfect time for me to take a short nap. After about a half-hour
siesta I got up loaded up Blue and Jake for a trip to the off-leash
park. They were tired out but happy when we got back home; we all
sat out under the patio awning for a few hours, just enjoying a
Carol fed the pups early and we took them for a
walk along the canal behind the 800 loop before we left for
Hollywood Studios at 5:00 p.m.
We each had a disappointing hamburger at the ABC
Commissary. We were just finishing dinner at 5:53 when Carol used
the online Disney app to check the standby line wait time at The
Great Movie Ride. It was 25 minutes, so she opened the FastPass+
app and booked us a FastPass for 6:00 p.m. - just 7 minutes later.
We walked directly from the Commissary to the
theatre next door and took a ride. It was our first time in the
theatre since Turner Classic Movies took over sponsorship. It’s a
pretty blatant commercial for TCM, too blatant in my opinion!
After the ride we found a spot out in the
concourse to watch the “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic
Spectacular” fireworks show. We both sat on the wall of a nearby
flowerbed while we waited, then when the crowd of viewers began to
fill the concourse Carol moved out and sat on the concrete. Soon
our Tagrel.com gang arrived and we all joined Carol about 20 minutes
before the show began.
Wow! What a show! Scenes from all of the Star
Wars movies are projected on the facade of the Chinese Theatre while
theme music and dialogue fills the air and fireworks fill the skies.
It is truly spectacular and we will do our best
to see it again before the end of this trip! -
After the show we waited a few minutes for most
of the crowd to disperse then made our way to the exit. We were
back home with the dogs at 9:00.
After giving the
puppies a stretch we hopped in the golf cart, drove around a few
camping loops and went to the Marina where we enjoyed the Electric
Water Pageant. After the pageant we looped a bit more and were back
home, all settled in for the evening, by 10:15.
Sunday October 30, 2016
Today we had no place to be and nowhere to go.
We slept until 7:20 and then sat out with a cup of coffee. It was
cool and the air was fresh so I shut off the air conditioning and
opened the windows.
I had a very lazy morning, but, since women’s
work is apparently never done, Carol did two loads of laundry. She
put the first load in the washer then we took the car down to the
overflow parking lot so it will be out of our way for the next few
By 10:30 the laundry was done and it was brunch
time. I was at the picnic table cooking bacon on the Coleman stove
and Carol was cooking eggs and making toast in the kitchen when I
said, “This makes it feel like we’re really camping!” “Yeah,” she
replied, “Don’t get used to it; it’s not going to happen often.”
That’s too bad, it sure tasted great!
Then we carried on with our lazy day. At 1:00
p.m. Carol rode her bike down to the Settlement Trading Post to
check out the pin trading board while I loaded Blue and Jake on the
golf cart and gave them a good run at the park.
People were already starting to put their lawn
chairs up along the parade route in anticipation of the 5:00 golf
cart parade, so I walked over to Fort Wilderness Trail, the main
road running up the center of the campground, and set up our chairs
at a good viewing point.
Carol spent some time organizing the candy we
brought for trick or treaters.
At 2:00 we rode our bikes down to the Settlement
to check out the entries in the pumpkin carving contest. There were
more rolling in as we watched, so we’ll go back later!
When we got back home it was time for a nap
before the parade!
As always, the parade was amazing. Some of the
campers are so creative when they design and decorate the carts . .
. and most of them dress in costumes to match the theme of the cart.
Our campground neighbour, Ryan
Our friends Al & Jane
The River Country cart even had
Mickey and Minnie sliding off the back!
If you would like to watch a 16 minute video of
the golf cart parade (from our friends Jeff and Denise at
MouseSteps.com) click on the arrow in the image to the left.
After the parade we headed home and grilled some
hot dogs which we enjoyed at the picnic table; almost like real
Then it was time to go and check out the new
beach bash on Clementine’s Beach. This is the first year for the
beach party so we needed to check it out! We rode our bikes to the
settlement and parked beside the trading post, then took another
quick look at the carved pumpkins and voted for our favourites!
Carol was watching behind us as a cast member
turned over a sign to reveal it’s message, “Sleepy Hollow Village
Limits” - she sensed that there might be some magic in the air, so
we stuck around for a few minutes and waited.
Sure enough, at 7:30 the Headless Horseman rode
in on Khan. They paraded for almost 15 minutes in a fenced area
near Pioneer Hall. What a magnificent show they put on!
Click the arrow above to see a 3
minute video of the Headless Horseman
While we were there we bumped into Jeff Lange and
his wife Denise of MouseSteps.com. They joined us as we checked out
the big beach bash. A DJ was cranking out tunes and people were
dancing in the sand, kids were playing games, it seemed like
everyone was having a great time.
At about 8:30 we decided it was time for some
looping. We invited Jeff and Denise to join us and the four of us
spent about an hour hopping off and on the golf cart to admire the
Halloween displays and snap pictures.
One of our last stops was at the big haunted
house display set up on site 1640. Every year Amy and Colleen book
two campsites, one to live on and one where they set up their
display. It’s very elaborate, you enter through an eerie gateway,
pass through a walkway lined with spooky trees, then enter a series
of connected tents housing some very macabre scenes before exiting
into a graveyard. It’s a bit too spooky for our taste, we prefer a
happier Halloween, but it is certainly a well done display.
It was about 9:45 when we dropped Jeff and Denise
off at the Outpost bus station and returned home to Blue and Jake.
Our quiet, restful day had left us quite tired!
Monday October 31, 2016
We had another quiet morning planned. There was
nothing at all on our agenda except the 1:30 p.m. pet costume
parade followed by the 7:00 p.m. Trick or Treating. That’s why I was
so surprised when I woke up at 6:30 to find Carol missing. She had
been up for a half-hour.
We both fiddled at our computers for a while then
Carol went armadillo chasing. We haven’t seen a single armadillo
since we arrived, but this morning Carol spotted one while she was
out with the dogs. She ran back, swung the door open, grabbed the
camera and ran back, but the critter had disappeared! She tramped
through the brush looking for him; if you had seen Carol thrashing
her way through the palmetto in her nightshirt you might have
assumed there was an amber alert or a missing pet. But no, it was
only a phantom armadillo!
She found a burrow in the middle of a palmetto
thicket near the base of a big old pine tree, she’s sure that it’s
his home, and she’s keeping a close eye on it!
At about 9:00 Carol and Blue went for a long walk
while I had a bowl of cereal at the picnic table, just like I was
I spent some time updating our trip report and
decided that it made sense to take the dogs to the park a bit
early. The park would be closed in the afternoon since it was the
venue for the pet costume parade. The pups and I rode the golf cart
to the park while Carol rode head on her bike.
The dogs were huffing and puffing when we got
back to the RV. We all chilled outside, enjoying a clear blue sky.
Carol spent a few minutes combing Blue and Jake,
getting them ready for the parade pageant. We had to call it
a pageant because Jake hates parades. He’s been to a few and they
always involve police cars, fire trucks, sirens and other loud
noises. Parades are no fun for Jake, but pageants are OK!
We had a sandwich for lunch and then it was time
to head off to the park with the puppies.
Blue was contestant
#14, Jake was #15
Blue dressed up as Eeyore and Jake was a lion.
Carol and I thought they looked just great . . . Blue and Jake
weren’t quite as enthusiastic!
It was great fun; there were dogs of every shape
size and colour and some very creative costumes!
A bag of Halloween
goodies for Blue and Jake, a gift from Disney!
We were back home by 2:30 and had a very quiet
and very enjoyable afternoon.
At about 4:00 we started to set up for Trick or
Treating. I set up some speakers on the golf cart and started
playing some Halloween themed Disney music while Carol set up a
table and chairs where we would shell out candy in front of the
coach. Then we sat out with the dogs enjoying a perfect day and
waiting for the evening’s action to begin.
Carol added Minnie
and Mickey to our rope lights!
Our neighbour Ryan
dressed up to shell out candy!
At 5:30 we sat down to a quick dinner of BBQ’d
hot dogs. We had just finished eating when the first Trick or
Treaters arrived at 6:00 p.m., a full hour before the “official”
Traffic was slow and intermittent for the first
hour and I took advantage of the light traffic. I rode my bike to
the campfire at 6:30 to hear winners of the pet parade, golf cart
and campsite decorating competitions as they were announced. The
three prize winning carts were the River Country cart, the
Maleficent cart and the Disney Through The Years cart. The three
prize winning campsites were Site 1401, the Chip & Dale’s Campfire
scene, Site 1810 Mickey’s Haunt and Site 1717 the Pirate Ship. All
were very deserving!
They announced the prizes for pumpkin carving by
pumpkin number, with no description of the pumpkin, so no one at the
campfire had any idea which pumpkins had won. I hope the Gonzo
pumpkin won something; he had my vote and Carol’s too!
Dogs were also announced by their entry number
with no description, but some of the winners were present so we
could figure out some of the dogs. The best Disney themed dog was a
Chihuahua dressed at Buzz Lightyear, his owners were dressed at
Woody and Jessie. Another prize went to three teeny-weeny service
dogs, one was leading the group on foot and the other two were
riding in a wagon that looked like a piñata. No idea who the third
At 7:00 the ghouls and goblins began arriving in
waves. We would be swamped with children, then there would be a
brief lull, then another deluge.
Carol had assembled enough candy for 500 kids,
and in addition to that had some smuggled imported Canadian
candies put aside for a few “special” visitors.
During all the action we were glad we had time to
share a few minutes with Hilda and Stephanie; Cindy, Jonah and
Hannah; Deb and Linda; Cathy and Brian; Disneyanna and her aunts.
We ran out of goodies at about 8:30. We think we
had seen about 525 trick or treaters by then.
I took down the speakers and computer while Carol
put the table and chairs away then we let the dogs out for a short
break. Carol and I hopped in the golf cart and took a quick spin
through a few loops the get a final look at the three prize-winning
We were back
home with the puppies at 10:15 and crashed a short time later! It
had been a fun-filled day.
Tuesday November 1,
We were both up at about 7:00. It was time to
take down the Halloween decor. Carol started right in on the dash,
as soon as she had her first sip of coffee she got to work.
I enjoyed a few cups of coffee then at about 8:00
a.m. I drove the golf cart to the 1800 loop to see one of the
winning camp sites, #1810, and their prize winning golf cart.
They had already taken down part of the site
decorations, but the panels which had been attached to their cart
were still on display. I was able to examine it in detail and when
I did I was even more impressed by the imagination and creativity of
the couple who created it. It was all fabricated from sheets of
styrofoam, cut out and glued together to give the panels depth and
3D form. Each scene from Disney history was hand painted and the
frame containing each scene was a radio or television set in the
style that was used inn the year depicted. The art was well
researched, well conceived and produced with care and precision. I
was totally blown away when I took a closer look at it!
By 8:30 I was back home and helped Carol take
down the outside decorations. By 9:15 everything except the
inflatables was packed away ready to go home. We went inside to get
ready to leave for breakfast at Kona Café. We drove to the
Polynesian Village Resort and were seated on time for our 10:20
The food was great; the service was deplorable!
We waited and waited and waited - a simple breakfast took over an
hour but since we had to ask for every coffee refill it seemed like
Even Carol, who always cuts service staff some
slack, was disappointed with the service and tipped much less than
her customary 20%. I really enjoyed the Tonga Toast; it was great
but we won’t hurry back to Kona!
We drove north to Winter Garden and stopped in at
TD Collectibles. They will be closed next week while the owners go
on vacation and Carol wanted to browse there one last time before we
head home. We also made quick stops at Walgreens and Publix on the
We were home at 2:00, let the dogs out and then
finished taking down the inflatables. Everything was stowed in the
“basement” of the RV by 3:00 p.m. Halloween was over!
We were sitting under the awning cooling off when
our campground neighbour, Ryan, came by to say goodbye. He and his
wife Annie live about 45 minutes away and he prefers to leave in the
afternoon rather than wait until the next morning. We chatted for a
few minutes about his plans for his golf cart decorations next year,
it sounds like it will be pretty spectacular!
Soon Ryan was on his way and we went indoor,
cooled down a bit and I had a short nap.
We fed and walked dogs then left for Disney
Springs at 5:30. I had a hankering for a burger so we went directly
to the new D-Luxe Burger restaurant. Carol had a Cheeseburger and
I tried the Bacon Blue Cheese Burger. They were very tasty, but we
both had a very unusual complaint . . . they were too big and
too juicy. The giant beef patties oozed juice which quickly
reduce the buns to soggy mush. They were extremely difficult to
eat! Yes, they were very tasty, but once was enough, we’ll stick
to Earl of Sandwich for our quick service meals at Disney Springs!
After our burgers it was time to sample some
poutine. This tasty dish was invented in the Province of Quebec and
it quickly became a classic Canadian dish. Many of us consider
poutine to be a national treasure!
It’s made with crispy french fries, sprinkled
with cheddar cheese curds then smothered in hot gravy. The gravy
melts the cheese and creates a wonderfully stringy and greasy dish
packed with carbohydrates, calories and coronary disease.
The menu at the kiosk in Disney Springs lists
varieties of poutine containing such things as Fried Yucca,
Bolognese Sauce and Mushroom Cream Sauce. None of these deserve to
be called poutine. Neither does that concoction containing a Wine
Reduction Sauce they call poutine at EPCOT’s Le Cellier restaurant.
They are all pretentious imposters that bear no similarity to real
Canadian poutine. They sound about as appetizing as a Brussels
Sprout Smoothie, Roasted Red Pepper Ice Cream or Pumpkin Pie Spiced
The “Classic Poutine” listed on the menu at
Disney Springs sounded authentic. The ingredients were correct, so
we decided to give it a try. Alas, we were both disappointed. The
fries were cut too thickly . . . not at all crispy. The curds
looked good, but for some reason they did not melt, even when
smothered with piping hot gravy. We really tried to like them, but
we threw more than half the bowl away.
If you want to sample real poutine come to
Canada. You can find much better poutine at any McDonalds or Burger
King in the country , , , and for about a third of the price they
charge at Disney Springs!
Almost every fast-food restaurant and diner in
Canada serves this dish and none of them put fried yucca in it!
I wandered over to Earl of Sandwich and sat
outside reading my book for a while; Carol browsed through the World
of Disney and a few other shops before she checked out the Pin
Station and then collected me at Earl’s. Our last stop was
Ghirardelli’s where we enjoyed ice cream sundaes before leaving for
We let the dogs out then headed to the Meadow for
a relaxing soak in the hot tub. Aaaah!
We were home by 9:00 and watched a bit of TV
Wednesday November 2,
We were up at 7:00 and got rolling fairly
quickly, we needed to get to the Magic Kingdom in good time.
We were on the boat by 8:40 and found the park
totally transformed! Halloween was gone and Christmas was in full
Christmas decorations, Christmas music, Christmas
costumes on the cast, the only thing that wasn’t Christmas was the
weather - it was hot!
The entrance to the park looked beautiful, but
the PhotoPass line was very long so we decided to try it later and
passed it by. Inside the park the lines were a bit shorter so we
stopped for a few shots as we made our way up Main Street USA.
We walked around Cinderella Castle to Fantasyland
and arrived just in time for our 9:30 FastPass at Peter Pan’s
Flight. Yes, it’s a very old ride, it’s a very “low-tech” ride, but
it has such a huge “cute-factor” that it always has one of the
longest standby lines in the park.
After flying through Neverland we crossed to It’s
a Small World and took The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed. While
we really enjoyed the ride, we lamented that they don’t do a
Christmas overlay here like they do at Disneyland. Too bad!
We arrived at Liberty Square just as they were
laying out the rope for the 10:20 a.m. presentation of the Muppet
show “Great Moments in American History”.
Many of the Muppet characters
appear in the second story windows around Liberty Square; it was a
We walked on, through Frontierland where Carol
visited the pin store and wound up in Adventureland. Our arrival
time was perfect - just perfect! I was thirsty for a Pineapple
Float and Carol had a hankering for a Citrus Swirl. We ate them in
the shadow of Aladdin’s Flying Carpets.
Next on our agenda was Buzz Lightyear’s Space
Ranger Spin. I walked directly there through The Hub to Buzz while
Carol made the trek via Fantasyland to see if there were any
openings for lunch at Be Our Guest. No such luck, as we expected
they were booked solid.
Carol had an outstanding score on Buzz. She
Before leaving Tomorrowland we took a ride on the
Wedway People Mover. Just before noon it was approaching 90 degrees
and we appreciated the shady portions of the ride.
At lunch time we headed to Sleepy Hollow where we
each enjoyed a Sausage and Cheddar-Stuffed Pretzel. Very tasty and
just the right size for lunch!
Our last stop of the morning was at the Jungle
Cruise and since the park was all decorated for Christmas it was now
the “Jingle Cruise”.
Our skipper, Kylee, was very animated and
entertaining. I suspect she may have had too much Halloween candy
and was still coming down from a sugar-high!
We made our way toward the exit. Carol browsed
through the Emporium on the way and I stood beside the Fire Hall
snapping pictures of the Move It, Shake It Dance and Street Party
which was just finishing.
The PhotoPass lines were much shorter in front of
the train station than they had been in the morning, so we stopped
for a picture before we boarded our boat back to the campground.
We were home with some happy puppies by 1:45 and
after they had a good romp at the dog park it was time for a well
We had a 5:45 p.m. dinner reservation at ‘Ohana
so the dogs were fed a bit early again. Once they had been walked
we took the golf cart to the marina, boarded a launch to the
Contemporary Resort. Carol browsed a few of the shops at the
Contemporary then we boarded the Monorail for our trip to the
Polynesian for dinner.
We were relaxing in ‘Ohana at our window seat by
6:00 and enjoyed a very good dinner. It’s one of our favourite
meals at Disney!
We watched Cinderella Castle light up in it’s
Christmas finery from our table at ‘Ohana just before we finished
our dessert at 7:15.
The monorail took us to the Magic Kingdom where
we enjoyed the spectacle of that illuminated castle as we made our
way up Main Street. Naturally we stopped for a few PhotoPass
It was still very hot and we had a 7:55 FastPass
for Splash Mountain so we headed to Frontierland where Carol rode
along with me.
That should be ample proof of the heat . . .
Carol doesn’t like to walk around in wet clothing.
It was 8:40 when we began our slow walk back
toward the exit, refreshingly damp and comfortable. We walked
through the Emporium to avoid crowds that had gathered on Main
Street for the Celebrate the Magic projection show and the Wishes
We had a great view of Wishes from the boat as we
made our way home; we were back with the puppies at 9:15 p.m.
Thursday November 3,
We slept in a bit today and didn’t get up until
7:30 a.m. Soon we were chuckling when Carol received a text message
from Bell Canada. It was their standard “Welcome to the USA”
message and it came in a mere 20 days after we entered the country.
Nice to know that our wireless provider is right up-to-date!
Carol and I were in the car and on our way to
EPCOT at 9:00. We headed directly to The Living Seas where we had a
FastPass for The Seas With Nemo and Friends. We cashed in our
passes at 9:45 and rode through the massive aquariums with Nemo and
all his pals.
As we passed through the
breezeway at Innoventions West Carol said, “Come this way.” She led
me down the back hallway to an area behind Club Cool where a large
display on the wall portrays the history of EPCOT. I took a bunch
of photos which may be the basis of a future blog on AllEars.net.
We arrived at Spaceship Earth at 10:25 and used
our FastPasses to take a ride back in time.
The JAMM-itors were due to start their act in
Future World East at 10:45.
Carol browsed through Mouse Gear while I watched
these talented guys perform.
Then I joined Carol and we headed into the
Passholder Centre at Innoventions East where Carol picked up her
Passholder’s glass. On the way in we noticed another wall display,
this time it recorded the history of the Food and Wine Festival.
Could it be another blog? I took some more pictures!
Then it was time to finish our Food & Wine
Festival dining circuit around World Showcase. Our first stop was
Patagonia where we enjoyed a Grilled Beef Skewer and Roasted
Next came Desserts & Champagne and a tasty Root
Beer Float. Eat dessert first whenever you can!
At France we had one of our all-time favourite
festival dishes, Boeuf Bourguignon. We passed on the festival
offering of Creme Brûlée and went into the bakery,
Boulangerie Paitisserie les Halles, to sample
their Creme Brûlée which was twice the size of the one at the
kiosk and only cost 25¢ more.
Next in line was Belgium where we always enjoy
the Belgian Waffle with berry compote.
At Morocco we sampled the Kefta Pocket which we
really enjoyed last year.
Our last stop of the day was Hops & Barley where
we enjoyed the same two dishes as last year, Lobster Roll and Carrot
Cake. It seemed that today we knew exactly what to order. There
were no disappointments, everything was good!
We were both stuffed as we walked the rest of the
way around World Showcase on our way to Future World. We rode
Soarin’ using our FastPasses at 1:00 then made our way back to Fort
We were home with the dogs by 2:00 and I spent
some time uploading a blog entry before the last Mickey lamp buyer
came by at 3:00 p.m. Once that last Mickey was gone the four of us
enjoyed a nap, then I took the dogs to the park for some exercise.
By 5:00 the dogs had been fed and walked and we
were on our way to Disney Springs. We spent some time at the
Dockside Bar, beside the Boathouse Restaurant, taking pictures of
the classic old boats on display there.
At 6:00 p.m. we checked in for our dinner
reservation at Morimoto Asia. We were seated moments later and
enjoyed a nice meal. We sampled two appetizers, tempura shrimp and
pork dumplings, then followed with a shared portion of chicken fried
rice. Carol’s entree was an appetizer portion of ribs, I had orange
Every dish was tasty and well presented. The
portions were generous, but there were no “wow” moments. It was
good but not great. We agreed that we would much rather go back to
the Boathouse rather than Morimoto. It is not going to be a
We spent another
forty five minutes walking around Marketplace, browsing the shops
before heading for home. By 8:15 we had settled in for a quiet
Friday November 4, 2016
We slept until 7:00 and
scurried to be ready to leave for Hollywood Studios by 8:30. We
made it to the park in time for rope drop and enjoyed some of the
We passed this sad message along the
We strolled directly back to Toy Story Midway
Mania. We hopped in the standby line and took a spin with Woody and
the gang. I barely edged Carol in the first game. When we left
after the first game we went directly back to the entrance and rode
again using our FastPasses. We both improved our scores in the
We headed over to the former Animation Courtyard
which has been transformed into the Star Wars Launch Bay. We
watched a 10 minute film and then wandered through the display area.
There are some interesting Star Wars figures and
artefacts on display, and some interesting characters to interact
Our next FastPass was for Star Tours. On our way
to the attraction we paused for a PhotoPass beside Echo Lake.
Then we stopped for another PhotoPass with Olaf.
At 10:45 we rode Star Tour; Carol’s first ride in
several years. Carol reconfirmed the fact that this is not her
favourite ride. I think it will be a few more years before she
tries it again.
On our way across the park to Tower of Terror we
met some storm troopers. It was the March of the First Order on
After their performance we strolled down Sunset
Boulevard to the Tower and took a ride.
We left the park at noon and drove to Property
Control. Carol wanted to check the clearance centre one more time
before we head for home. There were no treasures to be had today!
We were home with Jake and Blue by 12:45. Carol
rode her bike to the Settlement Trading Post for the 1:00 p.m. pin
trading. When she got home we had a sandwich for lunch then I took
Blue and Jake to the dog park.
Once they stopped huffing and puffing we all had
We decided to take advantage of our last
opportunity to see the Star Wars projection and fireworks show at
Hollywood Studios. We fed the dogs a bit early, walked them and
headed off to the Studios at 5:15 p.m.
Just inside the park we bumped into Jenn, a pin
trading friend from Pennsylvania. She was there to watch the
fireworks show as well so we made plans to connect later.
Carol and I had a light dinner at Sunset Ranch
Market then walked over to Toy Story Midway Mania. When we arrived
at 6:30 there was a 55 minute wait for standby. That was too long
to wait, we wouldn’t be able to get a good spot for the fireworks.
So we headed back to the concourse in front of
the Chinese Theatre; by 6:45 we had staked out a prime location and
began our wait for the 8:00 p.m. show.
Soon Jenn and her group joined us. I sat to hold
our spot while Carol browsed through a few stores. While Carol was
gone I spotted our friend Deb Koma who joined our little group.
Before long Carol returned and we spent an
interesting hour chatting with neighbours all around us as we waited
for the show. In addition to Jenn’s group and Deb there was a
couple from Cortland NY, a couple from Los Angeles and a family from
All chatter stopped when “Symphony in the Stars:
A Galactic Spectacular” started at 8:05. There were plenty of ooh’s
and aah’s, but very little chatter. It is a truly captivating show.
fireworks ended at 8:25 we said goodbyes headed to exit. Traffic
was slow and congested as we left the parking lot so we didn’t make
it home until 9:00.
Saturday November 5,
The weekend has rolled around again and this was
another non-park day. We had very little planned.
There was no need to get up early and for once we
were able to sleep a bit later. We didn’t get up until 7:45.
That’s very late for us!
We lazed for a few hours with coffee and our
computers before we contemplated any serious activity. I had a bite
of breakfast while Carol took the dogs for a walk. Just a few
campsites down from us they encountered an unusual flock of
turkeys. We normally only see hens in the campground, but this
flock had two toms, and they were fanning out their tails in order
to attract the females in the flock.
When Carol and the pups got back she and I headed
out Route 192, west of Route 429 to the flea market where Booster
Paks & Beyond is located. They always have a nice selection of
Disney souvenirs, collectibles and pins. Carol wanted to check out
their wares before we head home; I joined her for a minute and
twelve seconds (about my maximum shopping limit) and then went to
the car to read my book. She was finished in about a half hour and
had nothing to show for her time except some Magicband bling.
It was noon when she finished browsing so we
discussed lunch. I wanted to eat at Chick-fil-A, Carol wanted to
eat at Earl of Sandwich. We compromised and went to Earl’s
where we each had a tuna melt. Deelish!
Naturally Carol browsed through the pin store.
We made two passes through Ghirardelli’s to pick
up free chocolate samples on our way to the parking garage.
We were back home by 2:00. I loaded Blue and Jake
on the golf cart and took them to the dog park for a good romp.
While we were at the park Carol rode her bike to
the Marina and caught the launch to the Contemporary Resort. She
was on a mission . . . you see, a few days ago she was pointing out
things she would like for Christmas. One of those things was a nice
Christmas figurine of Mickey and Minnie riding in a sleigh. Last
night as we waited for the Star Wars fireworks she decided to head
off to browse some of the shops at Hollywood Studios. I gave her a
fist-full of cash and said, “If you see that sleigh be sure to buy
it for yourself . . . Merry Christmas.” Alas, she didn’t find it
that night at Hollywood Studios so she was really hoping to find it
today at the Contemporary.
The dogs and I had just finished our nap when
Carol arrived home at 3:45; she was sleigh-less! But she did find
something else she wanted for Christmas. I knew she would!
After feeding and walking Blue and Jake we hopped
in the car and drove to the Orlando Ale House where we met Al, Jane,
Hilda and Stephanie for dinner. It was another example of “good
friends, good food, good fun”. We shared a nice French onion soup
then Carol had shrimp scampi and I had cobb salad; both were
excellent. During the meal we enjoyed lively conversation and
plenty of laughs with our Fort Wilderness cronies! It was good fun,
yet it was bittersweet knowing that we are leaving in just a few
After dinner we headed to the local Winn-Dixie
grocery store where Carol picked up a few items to take home with us
. . . some of those things we really enjoy but cannot get in Canada.
We were back home with the dogs by 8:00 and
enjoyed a quiet night in the best campground we have ever found.
Sunday November 6, 2016
We set the clocks back an hour last night so we
had an extra hour of sleep - hypothetically. The dogs didn’t
readjust their clocks and they had us up at 6:30 a.m.
We left for the Magic Kingdom at 8:15 and had to
wait at the marina a few minutes for the first boat.
The rope-drop show was just finishing at the
train station when we arrived and the entire entrance concourse was
The bag-check area was totally congested; people
were backed up all the way to the boat dock waiting to pass through
security. It quickly reminded us why we seldom visit any of the
parks on the weekend!
It took about 20 minutes to get through the
screening line, then we hurried back to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
hoping to hop in the standby line before it got too long. No such
luck . . . we were much to late. The line was already 90 minutes!
We crossed Fantasyland to It’s a Small World and
took another ride there.
When we finished it was time for our FastPass at
Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Have you noticed the theming in the gift
shop outside PhilharMagic?
Next on our agenda was the Country Bear
Jamboree. We had a hand-clappin’, toe-tappin’ good time with Big Al
and all his pals!
It was warming up and there’s just no better way
to cool down than with a Pineapple Float and a Citrus Swirl.
In Sir Mickey’s shop you have probably seen
Mickey on the beanstalk.
Have you noticed the giant trying to get into
We had FastPasses for the Monsters Inc. Laugh
Floor but on the way there we stopped at Be Our Guest to see if they
had any room for “walk-ups”. They did! We were seated in about 10
minutes and had a nice lunch. We shared a French onion soup, a
turkey sandwich and a coke. We missed out FastPass at Monsters, but
it was worth it!
After lunch we dashed to
Adventureland and made it to Pirates of the Caribbean at 12:30 just
before our FastPasses expired.
We left the park left at 1:15 and headed home to
a pair of happy dogs. Napping ensued!
Later I took the dogs to the park while Carol
prepared their dinner.
By 5:00 p.m. we were on our way back to the Magic
Kingdom. We stopped at the Fire Hall to pick up Sorcerer Cards then
walked directly back to Liberty Square where we checked in at
Liberty Tree Tavern about 20 minutes before our 6:10 dinner
They told us they were running about 40 minutes
late. Carol told them that might be too late for one of the
FastPasses we had so they said they’d do their best to speed it up.
That didn’t work out, we weren’t seated until 7:00. Carol did
manage to coax or cajole a complimentary “Open FastPass” because of
the delay. It was good anywhere except Peter Pan or the Seven
Dwarfs Mine Train.
After a very slow, but nice dinner we headed to
the Haunted Mansion and used our FastPass to take a ride.
The next stop was at the Mine Train where Carol
presented our Open FastPasses which were not valid there. The nice
young cast member pointed out the limitation on the tickets and
Carol immediately switched to her “confused little old lady”
personna. I definitely heard an audible sigh, there might even have
been some simpering! Very few young men can deny a dottering old
lady and this one was no exception; he pressed his magic button, we
got a MagicBand green light and off we went! We were delighted,
it’s a real treat to ride the train after dark!
We wandered over to the Pete’s Silly Sideshow to
get some pictures with the characters, but it was closed so we
headed to Tomorrowland and got in the standby line for Buzz
Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. The sign said the wait was 25
minutes but after 10 minutes we hadn’t moved a bit. It was getting
close to 9:00 p.m. and we wanted to snag a table in front of Casey’s
for the 10:00 p.m. fireworks and the new Once Upon A Time projection
show, so we bugged out of the Buzz line and made our way to Main
Within just a few minutes we were sitting along
the rail in front of Casey’s, prime seats for the upcoming shows.
Carol picked us up a cold drink then I waited,
saving our spot, while she browsed the Emporium and bought a couple
of Vinylmations. We chatted with a nice young Brazilian couple who
were sitting next to us, at the corner table, waiting for the show.
He proposed to her four years ago in front of the Castle; they
honeymooned at Walt Disney World last year and were back celebrating
their first anniversary this year.
Wishes began at 10:00 and we got some great
It was only the third presentation of the new
Once Upon a Time projection show and when it began at 10:45 people
climbed up on the stone wall in front of us, blocking our view. The
cast members who shooed people out of the walkway during the Wishes
fireworks did nothing to control the loiterers during the second
show so we were forced to climb up on our wall to get a partial
We have no pictures, but it was a great show. I
hope we get to see it again soon, with an unimpaired view.
We caught the boat and were home at 11:35.
Monday November 7, 2016
We didn’t need to be up early today, so naturally
we were wide awake at 6:30 a.m. Go figure!
By 8:00 we were outside and hard at work! It was
our last “Disney Day” and we started it by packing up all the
remaining stuff around our campsite. It all had to be stowed away,
the Olaf inflatable, 6 Mickey rope lights, 2 Mickey lamp posts, the
long rope lights lining the driveway, our wooden Musket Mickey sign,
awning lights, lawn chairs, patio tables, etc. Even though we put
away all the Halloween decorations several days earlier, there was
still plenty to pack up. The last thing to do was to retract the
patio awning! We were all finished by 10:15 and although we were
glad to have the chore done, we were sad that we were now another
step closer to leaving!
I relaxed while Carol vacuumed inside the coach
and scrubbed the floor. You don’t have to do this sort of thing in
a hotel, but believe me it’s worth the extra effort to stay at Fort
Wilderness! (I find it easy to say this since I wasn’t the one
doing the scrubbing.)
After we had both cooled down and showered we
headed to the Trail’s End Restaurant for lunch. We just snuck in
under the wire; they stop serving breakfast at noon and no longer
serve lunch. We felt a bit guilty arriving at 11:55 so we thought
it would be a hasty meal. We were delighted when a group of about
20 cast members on some sort of orientation tour arrived for lunch
just after noon. We didn’t have to rush after all!
Back at the campsite I drained our holding tanks,
gave them a thorough rinse and then disconnected the sewer hose
before taking a well earned nap!
Our friend Masayo, from Japan, arrived at 2:30.
She had not met Jake yet, and it was time for Blue to have another
lesson in conversational Japanese.
At 3:15 three of us piled in the golf cart and I
dropped the ladies off at the marina. They caught the boat to the
Magic Kingdom, checked in for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party,
picked up their Sorcerer cards and then headed directly to The Big
Top in Mickey's Storybook Circus. The special Christmas Party pins were being
sold there and they expected a big line. It turned out that the
line was short; they were all finished in only 20 minutes!
Meanwhile back at Fort Wilderness, I fed dogs at
4:00 and took them for a walk before I boarded a boat to the Magic
Kingdom at 4:30. Carol had left me with very explicit instructions:
1) Pick up a Christmas Party Sorcerers card at the Fire Hall. 2)
Buy 2 party logo pins at the Emporium. I faithfully carried out my
duties then met Carol and Masayo at The Big Top at 5:30.
Everyone was hungry so we headed toward Pecos
Bills in Frontierland. As we passed through Liberty Square we
bumped into friends Bruce and Linda from Georgia. We chatted for a
few minutes then carried on to Frontierland.
We’re not crazy about
the new menu at Pecos Bills. Carol and I each had a burger; they
were OK but I really miss the taco salad and the fixin’s bar is
not nearly as good as it used to be. Masayo tried the nachos and
pronounced them edible but not appetizing. It was a disappointing
meal in a place that used to be one of our favourite quick-service
We cut through to Adventureland and took a ride
on Pirates of the Caribbean before heading back to Liberty Square
for a ride through The Haunted Mansion.
We found a great spot to watch the parade, right
beside the steps at the Diamond Horseshoe Revue in Frontierland.
The lighting wasn’t the best for pictures but we had an unobstructed
view. Carol managed to get some good shots!
After the parade Carol and Masayo headed to the
castle forecourt area for the stage show “Mickey’s Most Merriest
Celebration”. They found a spot quite near the stage and really
enjoyed the show.
While they were watching I walked to Casey's
Corner and lurked until a table along the rail opened up. If you
can get the right table, with no trees obstructing your view, it’s a
great place to sit and watch the nightly Wishes fireworks show.
When the ladies joined me, just minutes before the 11:00 p.m.
fireworks I was in the second best table. We had a great view of
the fireworks . . . and it was our last taste of Disney for this
We said goodbye
to Masayo and headed to the exit. Our boat to the campground was
waiting and we were home with the dogs at midnight.
Tuesday November 8,
I was sound asleep when Carol walked past and
waggled my toes at 6:00 a.m. I woke with a start; we needed to get
going early since we had a very long day ahead. We normally drive
about 350 miles a day and our 1405 mile trip home takes 4 days.
This time we’re going to do it in three days, almost 600 miles today
then two days at about 400 miles each.
With a long drive ahead I wanted to be on the
road by 7:00 a.m. After a quick coffee and breakfast I unhooked the
last of the utilities while Carol retracted the stabilizing jacks
and pulled in the three sliding rooms. We pulled out of our camp
site 6:56, Carol followed in the car as I drove to the special
“hook-up lane” where I connected the car to the back of the motor
We pulled out of Walt Disney World at 7:12 a.m.
Traffic on I-4 was a bit slow through Orlando but
there were no delays through the construction areas east of the
We turned on to I-95 at 8:45 a.m., still in light
traffic and good weather. We made a quick stop at a rest area then
drove through downtown Jacksonville, and that seemingly endless
construction, with hardly a slowdown.
We crossed the Georgia state line at 10:50 and
pulled off to refuel at the FlyingJ Truck Stop in Brunswick. We had
a quick bowl of soup for lunch before getting back underway at noon.
By 1:15 p.m. we had crossed into South Carolina
and pulled off briefly at a rest area just south of Walterboro.
We left I-95 behind at 2:45 p.m. and took I-26
west to Columbia.
Less than an hour later, near Columbia, we turned
onto I-77 northbound. We were making great time!
We fuelled up again at the FlyingJ at Rock Hill
South Carolina at 4:45 p.m. and at 5:15 p.m. we crossed the North
Carolina state line and entered Charlotte. Yikes! It was rush hour
and traffic was horrible! We only had 50 miles to go . . . after
making good time all day it was frustrating to come to such an
abrupt stop! We made our way to the I-485 beltway as soon as we
could and soon picked up speed again!
We pulled into our destination, the KOA
Campground at Statesville NC at 6:30 p.m. We really don’t like
setting-up in the dark, but soon we were all settled for the night.
We fed the dogs and walked them and had grilled cheese sandwiches
for dinner in the coach.
After a long day behind the wheel it was nice to
relax and watch a bit of television . . . although it took a while
to find a channel that wasn’t running election coverage. We sure
are glad to be Canadian; it means that we can ignore what looks to
be a very divisive election.
Wednesday November 9,
Once again we were up at 6:00 a.m. and I was a
bit surprised to find that Donald Trump was President-elect. Carol
had expected him to win, but I wasn’t so sure.
We left the campground 7:12 a.m. Skies were
clear but there were a few hazy patches in the early morning.
We crossed into Virginia at 8:25 a.m. and started
to climb that big hill Carol dreads. She doesn’t mind the climb as
much as the descent, but she’s never a happy camper on that hill!
Soon we crested the top and by 8:55 we left I-77
behind and took I-81 northbound. We will stay on I-81 for most of
the trip home.
It was Wednesday and that’s chicken pot pie day
at Cracker Barrel so we pulled off in Staunton Virginia at 11:45 and
ordered the Wednesday special. It never disappoints!
We were back on the road by 12:25. It had become
overcast and there were some occasional light showers, but not
enough to effect traffic.
It was raining steadily at 2:15 p.m. as I gassed
up at the FlyingJ just north of Winchester Virginia.
We crossed into West Virginia at 2:45 p.m.
Maryland followed at 3:05 p.m.
At 3:20 we entered Pennsylvania and an hour later
we pulled into Western Village Campground at Carlisle.
After a short
rest I unhooked the car and we drove to a nearby Applebee’s
Restaurant where we met friends Mike and Anne for dinner. We
enjoyed a nice visit and a few laughs. We swapped a giant bottle of
Canadian ketchup for a box of delicious Pennsylvania cookies and
then headed home to the dogs at 8:30.
Thursday November 10,
Once again we were up at 6:00, it was our last
day and we were rarin’ to get home! I gave the holding tanks their
final drain and a very thorough flush and we pulled out at 7:30
We had been expecting some traffic slowdowns in
the state capital, Harrisburg, but there were none. We zipped
through, right through the downtown area, at full speed. Skies were
clear and bright and we encountered no significant traffic as we
wound, climbed and coasted through the mountains.
Our last fuel stop was at the FlyingJ truck stop
at New Milford Pennsylvania and we crossed the New York state line
We stopped at Mattydale, a suburb of Syracuse New
York, where Carol browsed the Christmas Tree Shop while I walked the
dogs. Lunch was a quick sandwich in the RV before we got back on
the road for the final leg of our journey.
We hadn’t been on the road long when some gusty
cross-winds began to shove the RV around. It’s 36 feet long, 13
feet high and it’s mostly just a big box full of air. Wind has an
impact, and the 50 mph gusts we were getting as we approached the
border were moving it a few feet left and right in the traffic
lane. Since the rig already takes up the entire lane there isn’t
room to be jumping back and forth a few feet. Yikes – the last hour
behind the wheel was very tiring!
At 3:15 we arrived at the border and after a
short wait we crossed back into Canada after a month in the USA.
Once we were in Canada we turned and headed west
on highway 401. I thought that driving would be easier since
we would be heading directly into those gusts. I was wrong, the
winds were now hitting us at about a 45 degree angle and it was just
as bad as when we were northbound.
We were both thrilled when we pulled up in front
of our home at 4:00 p.m.
My arms were tired from steering and my hands
ached from gripping the wheel!
It was a great
trip. The weather was wonderful, we had great fun with good
friends, but it’s always such a nice feeling to get home!