November 10, 2018

We're off to help Mickey Mouse celebrate his 90th birthday, but first we'll be spending a few days at Universal Studios.  It might surprise you, but despite the dozens and dozens and dozens of times Carol and I have visited Walt Disney World, this will be my first time at Universal.  Carol was there once, way back in the 80's, so it will be her second time.


We left home at 9:40 and approached the Thousand Island Bridge just after 10:00 a.m.  It was a holiday weekend and although all lanes were open, there was a huge line of traffic waiting to clear US Customs.   Fortunately for us, there were only three cars in the Nexus line and we zipped through in no time!


Our first stop was at Karla's Christmas Shop in Clayton NY.  Carol needed some 3 volt bulbs for one of her Department 56 village pieces.  Needless to say, she found a few other treasures . . . the bulbs became a bit more expensive than we expected.


Our next stop was Watertown NY where I picked up some parts for Mickey Mouse lamp posts at Home Depot and Carol browsed the gift shop at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant next door.

We had lunch at Chik-fil-A in Cicero then made a few more shopping stops, Target, The Disney Store, Box Lunch, CVS, K-Mart and The Christmas Tree Shop rounded out Carol's cross-border shopping spree!


We checked in at the Best Western near Syracuse Hancock International Airport at 6:30.  As we ate dinner at hotel dining room Carol said, "We haven't even made it to Disney World yet and I'm almost over our Duty-Free Limit." 


We enjoyed a quiet night of television at the hotel.

November 11, 2018 - 7:30 a.m. Jet Blue Flight #655 Syracuse to Orlando - Portofino Bay Hotel - Universal Orlando Resort


We had an early flight so we were up at 5:15.  There was a trace of snow on the ground.  Yikes!


We drove to the airport and parked in the indoor lot so we won't have to scrape the car when we get home!  Syracuse gets a lot of snow!


We were pleased to see a very short line at Jet Blue check-in when we checked our baggage at 6:00 a.m.  There was no line at all at TSA Pre-clear, so we were through the security check point in no time.  We paused for coffee and a breakfast sandwich before boarding the aircraft at 7:00 a.m.  Unfortunately we had to taxi out to the de-icing area so we didn't get away until 7:48.  There was an entire row of empty seats across the aisle from me, so once we took off I moved across the aisle so Carol and I could stretch out a bit.


We had a smooth flight, touched down in Florida at 10:10 and were at our gate at 10:14.  Our luggage arrived at the carousel after a short wait and we were loaded up in our taxi (Lyft) on the way to Portofino Bay Resort by 10:50.

Our room wasn't ready when we checked in at 11:15 so we left our bags with Bell Services and caught a boat to City Walk, the Universal Studios shopping and dining area.

Carol had been anxious to try a Voodoo Donut so when she spotted the shop near the dock we made a beeline . . . but the line was just too long at lunch time!


We carried on to Bubba Gump's where we had a tasty lunch . . . four different styles of shrimp.

The line at Voodoo Donuts had abated while we were at Bubba Gump's so we stopped for dessert.  I had an apple fritter and Carol had a maple glaze - yummy!

We were stuffed after the donuts so we headed to Universal Studios to walk off all the food.

Our first  ride was Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a cute 3D attraction where we were converted to Gru's Minions, then converted back to human form.

We sat for a few minutes on the streets of New York waiting for the Blues Brothers Show but it was cancelled at the last minute.  The band must have been stuck in heavy traffic back in Chicago.


Fortunately Jake and Elwood were there and they posed for photos with some of their fans!

A few more rides followed, Revenge of the Mummy then Transformers: The Ride 3D.


Carol humoured me for a few minutes while I admired some old cars at Mel’s Drive-In.

We were standing in Hollywood when Carol spotted a sign for the  Horror Make-Up Show.  She pointed to the sign and said, "Carrie said that we shouldn't miss that show.  It's really funny."  We checked the showtimes . . . dang!  We missed the start so we'll have to catch it another time!


Before we had a chance to move on a very strange vehicle drove up . . . it was Gru and his Minions.  Soon they had blocked traffic and started performing a lively Dance Show.

While we were tapping our toes with Gru and the gang Carol's FitBit erupted with fireworks - we had walked 10,000 steps so far that day.  Before we were done we had walked more than 8 km or about 5 miles.



We managed to get our tired legs moving again and headed back toward City Walk.  Just before we left Universal Studios we met Scooby Doo and his pals.


It was 4:00 p.m. when we got to City Walk and caught the boat back to Portofino Bay.  Our room, 3160 was ready so we picked up our bags from the Bell Captain and struck off down the hall.  The resort is spread out in several wings and it seemed like we walked about 15 miles from the lobby, almost all the way around the property to find our room . . . only to discover that our key cards didn’t work.


Fortunately a member of the housekeeping staff let us in so we could unpack and guest services delivered new keys within a few minutes. 


By 6:30 we were all settled in our home for the next four days, so we decided to tour the resort and find a place for dinner.

As soon as we stepped out of our hotel wing, along the bay, we heard 'Musica Della Notte' (Music of the Night).  It was wonderful!  Every night a pair of talented tenors stand outdoors on a second floor balcony and sing notable Italian songs, everything from opera to Sinatra.  It was delightful!

In the corner of the plaza, just below the balcony where the tenors stood, was Sal’s Market Deli.  We ordered a small pizza from Sal's and sat out in the plaza enjoying the pizza and the music.  What a nice way to end the day!


Carol spotted a gelateria just a few doors down from Sal's, and she still had a tiny bit of room, so she ordered a bowl.  She mixed a scoop of strawberry cheesecake and a scoop of peanut butter and jelly.  She enjoyed the flavour of both . . . but the PBJ gelato had some big chunks of nut in it.  We sat outside again listening to the tenors and I sat watching as Carol ate gelato and expectorated peanuts.


It was beginning to get cool but we wanted to find the Beach Pool and check it out.  We can see it through the window, just outside our room, but we had to go down the hall, up the elevator, around the corner, down a different elevator and then walk another several hundred yards to get there.  I wanted to stop for a nap on the way back to the room.


We were back home by 8:00 and enjoyed a quiet evening of television.

November 12, 2018


We were up at 7:00, both of us anxious to get our second day at Universal started.  We caught the boat to City Walk at 8:20.  It's a very pretty ride.  There is a nicely landscaped walkway all along the river.  That's the Hard Rock Hotel peeking through the trees on the right.


When we arrived at the Universal Studios main gate we were surprised to see a long line.  We thought that there was 'early entry' but it turned out that that perk would only be available at the Islands of Adventure park during our stay.


We joined the line and entered the park just after 9:00 a.m.



Our plan was to walk directly to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and board the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station - platform 9 ¾ of course!


Our walk toward Diagon Alley took us along Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.  There were some interesting sights along the way!

The theming in each area of the park is well done, but the transition from one 'land' to the next is very abrupt.  In Disney parks there is always a bridge, some shrubbery, or some other cinematic trickery to mask the change from one theme to the next.


That's not the case at Universal . . . look to your left, it's San Francisco, look to your right, it's Springfield, home of the Simpsons.

An unexpected sight greeted us as we entered King's Cross Station - it was empty.  Absolutely empty!

We were the first to board the Hogwart’s Express to Hogsmeade Station and after a short wait we were underway.  It's a very interesting ride; as you travel from Diagon Alley in Universal Studios to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, the windows in your old-fashioned coach car show scenes from the English countryside and some interesting scenes from the world of wizardry.


At one point Hagrid flies past your window on a broom.

Hogsmeade Station is just inside the gate where you enter Hogsmeade from The Lost Continent.  The design and construction of the area is wonderfully done.  The attention to detail is incredible, much more so than in other areas of either of the Universal theme parks.



We stopped at a cart in the street, not far from Ollivander's and bought a pint of Butterbeer to share.  We've heard mixed reviews, and we both decided that we're part of the 'don't like it' camp.  We both tasted it with the foam on top; very 'butterschotchy' and very sweet, that one sip was enough for Carol!  I stirred it vigorously to blend the foam into the drink . . . gave it a second try, then pitched it in the trash.


We stopped at The Three Broomsticks for breakfast.  Yuck!  Their American Breakfast plate and one orange juice was almost $23.00 and it was terrible.  The 'pretend-a-eggs' were dried out and cold, and the fried potatoes were too greasy for me.  We shared the bacon and sausage then Carol picked away at the potatoes while I ate the croissant.


We won't be stopping at The Three Broomsticks again anytime soon!

We wandered through Ollivander's and looked at some of the magic wands they had for sale.


Carol took a ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  I didn't fit in the test car they had outside the entrance. Close - but no cigar!


 It's a pretty intense ride with lots of motion.  Riders sit four abreast in a car that rises, falls, twists, turns and spins as they are transported through projected scenes from the Wizarding World while being chased by a fire-breathing dragon.  They even take part in a Quiddich match!


She was quite impressed with the ride, but like many of the intense motion rides, once was enough for her.  If I shrink a bit before our next visit I can ride alone!

I did fit in the car for The Flight of the Hippogriff but I too rode alone.  Carol had not recovered from her earlier ride.


It's a cute ride on a small steel track, but it's not much more than a 'kiddie ride'.

We wandered around Hogsmeade taking more pictures and visiting the shops, then made our way back to Hogsmeade Station where we boarded another coach and rode to King’s Cross Station.

The scenery on our trip back to Diagon Alley was similar to our earlier trip, but the story we saw through those magic windows was really quite well done.  There are even characters from the movies, like Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger who appear as shadows that you can see and hear as they pass by in the hallway outside your compartment  in the coach.

Celestina Warbeck and The Banshees perform in Diagon Alley

We visited a few more shops and stopped for a sweet treat at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour.  As we exited with our cones in-hand the skies opened up and it poured rain.  We found shelter under an overhang near Gringott’s Money Exchange and enjoyed those cones as we stood shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of other tourists!

Carol had recovered a bit from her earlier ride, so we both took a spin on Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringott’s.  It is another dark roller coaster with plenty of motion and 3D projection.


It was a good ride, but it was all that Carol could tolerate in one day!

We walked through San Francisco to Hollywood and approached Mel’s Drive-In just in time for lunch.  We both ordered chicken fingers, I had a side of fries and Carol had onion rings.  Yuck - it was bad.  The chicken was cold and very dry, the fries were cold and the onion rings were greasy and soggy.


We have yet to find a decent spot to eat at Universal.


We left Mel's just in time to enter the theatre across the street to see Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up Show - the one we missed the day before.



The show was fantastic . . . every bit as good as our friend Carrie said it was.  There were two very comedic hosts who used film clips, props and some hilarious live action to show us how make-up experts prepare actors to frighten us.


A volunteer from the audience, Maria, seen above on the right, had her arm cut off onstage . . . it looked very real.


A young man named Zachary never appeared onstage, but he too played a big part in the comedic side of the performance!


If you're at Universal Studios be sure to stop for this funny stage show!

We walked on through Hollywood to Production Central and snapped a few pictures along the way.

Our last attraction of the day was Shrek 4D.  It's a cute 3D show with an added dimension - gratuitous shaking!  You sit in traditional theatre style seats which shake like crazy from time to time during the show.  I found the shaking very annoying . . . does that mean that I'm an old curmudgeon?


Before we left the park I tried to fit in the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket roller coaster chair.  Once again I didn't fit.


We walked through the exit at about 2:30 p.m.  Carol hiked over The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen in City Walk to check it out while I waited near the dock.  She was back in just a few minutes and said it looked like a good place for dinner.


We caught the boat back to hotel and shortly after 3:00 we headed to the Beach Pool.  I had a refreshing swim but the water was too cold for Carol.


We were back to the room by 4:30 and enjoyed a short rest (nap) before heading out to dinner.

At 6:20 we boarded a boat to take us back to City Walk.  Everything was nicely lit, it's even prettier at night.


We walked to the Chocolate Emporium and, as we expected, it was busy.  They estimated a 25 minute wait but we were seated in about 20 minutes.


We both ordered exactly the same thing, French Onion Soup and a Reuben sandwich.  The soup it was very good.  Possibly the best I've ever had.  The Reuben was not so good . . . Carol managed to eat some of hers but mine was just too dry to swallow.  I sent it back and waited for a replacement.  The second time around it was much better.

We walked all around the City Walk lagoon, past the entrance to Islands of Adventure and stopped at Voodoo Donuts to pick up dessert which we took back to the room.


We were back to Portofino Bay just after 9:00 and watched a bit of TV before bed.

November 13, 2018

As usual, we were up at 7:00 a.m. and we caught the boat to City Walk at 8:25.  It's a short walk from the dock to the Islands of Adventure entrance.

The first area you pass through in the park is called Port of Entry.  We stopped in a few shops as we passed through on our way to Seuss Landing.

Seuss Landing is a cute area.  Many of the Dr. Seuss books are reflected in the design and decor.


Two of the most famous Seuss characters, The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch were strolling around, so we took advantage of the photo-op!


Then we took a spin on the Cat in the Hat ride . . . naturally it's designed for very young children, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.



Next on our agenda was a trip on The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride.  It's a very slow kiddie-coaster that takes riders all around Seuss Landing on an elevated steel track where they have a great view of the entire area. including some scenes that cannot be seen from below.

We left Seuss Landing behind and entered The Lost Continent.  There was a big red mountain with a huge sculpted head which appeared to be barfing out water into a fountain.  Very odd!

We stood in line for a few minutes waiting for the 10:00 a.m. Poseidon’s Fury show.  Carol and I agreed that this is possibly the worst theme park show ever!  It was dark and gloomy, the plot was weak and confusing, the host had his microphone set at a painfully loud level and it was almost impossible to follow what he was saying.


Before the show was half over we were looking for an exit to duck out . . . but we didn't find one.  We had to endure the pain until the end.  Take our advice - skip this show!

We walked through Hogsmeade and took a few more pictures on a brighter day.

It really is an impressive area; the designers did a fantastic job!

The next 'land' we came to was Jurassic Park.  There were a few photo-ops here and there and a drenching raft ride named Jurassic Park River Adventure.  We watched a few rafts descend the big drop and soak every rider aboard each raft to the skin.  We decided to give it a pass! 

Pteranodon Flyers, a small roller coaster,  looked interesting so we checked to see how long the line was.  We were too tall . . .  adults could only fly if accompanied by a kid.


The next area we encountered was Skull Island where we both took the Reign of Kong ride.  It's a dark 3D ride with good effects and plenty of motion.



We carried on to Toon Lagoon, a very cute area.  Everywhere you looked there were cartoon and comic strip characters.


Hi and Lois, Boris and Natasha, Betty Boop, Cathy, Snuffy Smith, Dagwood and Blondie, Hagar, Heathcliff . . . there were so many that it was overwhelmingly cute.

We stopped for lunch at The Comic Strip Cafe.  We shared a Sweet and Sour Chicken Platter with an extra Egg Roll.  It was the best meal so far at the Universal Parks!.

Looks like Broomhilda took a nasty spill on her broom!


Our final 'land' was Marvel Super Hero Island.  Carol was still reeling a bit from the Reign of Kong ride so I rode The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man while she waited outside.  When I rejoined her they were clearing the street so the Marvel superheroes could race their motorcycles.  Oh Boy!


We found a good vantage point on the sidewalk and I waited to get some good action pictures.  The superheroes hopped on their bikes and sped off at a high rate of speed.  I waited with great anticipation, expecting that they would circle around at the end of the block and come roaring back toward us . . .


Nope . . . they disappeared around a corner . . . never to return!


Dang - no action pictures!

As we approached the park exit I tried the test chair for The Incredible Hulk Coaster.  Once again it was close, but I didn’t fit.


We left the park and walked through City Walk on our way to the boat.


We were back to Portofino Bay at 12:35 and spent a few minutes looking over the park maps to see what we'd missed.  We had covered almost everything in both parks, there were just three rides left that we wanted to try.  Thy were on our schedule for the following morning.


We donned our bathing suits and struck off to The Villa Pool.  It's between two different wings of the resort, but it's just as close to our room as the Beach Pool which is right outside our window.


The pool was much quieter and it was warmer.  Carol joined me in the pool and we enjoyed a soothing soak in the hot tub.  It was so soothing that we followed it up with a nap!

We hadn't been anywhere near the hotel lobby since we checked-in two days ago so at 4:45 we struck out to explore the resort a bit.  We wandered around the lobby, the shops and the courtyard in front of the hotel enjoying the scenery and the architecture.  It really is a beautiful place!


Dinner time was approaching so we sat out in courtyard near Mama Della’s restaurant waiting our friends for Deb & Linda who were joining us.

This is the view from the balcony where the tenors sing each evening.


Carol seems to like the Vespa scooters!


The entrance to the hotel shops looks like a quaint old alley.



We were talking about what a great spot it was to wait, we could see Deb and Linda arrive as soon as they came down the stairs from the lobby, when Carol's phone beeped with a text message.  The ladies were up in the lobby bar . . . could we join them? 


Zip, we were in the bar in no time!


We yakked for a few minutes over cold drinks then at 6:00 headed down to Mama Della's where we enjoyed a wonderful night of friendship, conversation, fine food and music.


Deb recommended the Lasagna so I ordered it and Carol asked for Chicken Parmigiana.  Carol said that her chicken was very good and I told Deb that she was correct, the Lasagna was amazing.  Carol tasted my dish and decided to leave half of her chicken uneaten while she helped me finish mine.  It was more than I could have eaten so I really didn't mind!


After a lot of laughter and a wonderful meal we said goodbye to our friends about 9:00.  We hope to get together with them again when we're at Fort Wilderness in February.

There were two pairs of talented entertainers who performed for us during dinner!

November 14, 2018

This was our last day at Universal and we had three more rides on the schedule so we weren't in a big rush. 

We took our time in the morning and caught the boat to Universal Studios at 9:05.

The first ride of the day was Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.  The queue was quite interesting, it displayed a lot of history and some artefacts from the Tonight Show.


After a short pre-show we filed into a room which Universal calls a "unique flying theatre".  Carol and I strapped into two of the 76 seats, put on our 3D glasses and off we went.


Jimmy Fallon hopped in a wild looking sports car called the 'Tonight Rider' and we followed him on a harrowing high speed run through the Big Apple.


Carol was quick to pronounce it 'a stupid ride' and I didn't disagree!

Next up was Fast & Furious - Supercharged


I walked through a queue that seemed a mile long before boarding the bus we rode on . . . but of course once the ride was over it was only about 15 steps to the gift shop!


Carol didn’t ride so I had to pronounce it ‘stupid’ all by myself.


Men In Black Alien Attack was just a few steps away and I rode alone again.  We sat  to a car, there was gratuitous spinning and we had to shoot at targets that we could not see in the dark.  Boring!

When we got to The Simpsons Ride Carol decided that she's give it a try.  She made it all the way through the pre-show but when the doors opened so we could board our car she said, “This is too stupid for me; I’ll wait for you outside.”  Once again I rode alone.

When I met her outside I told her she made the right call.  It really was too dumb to waste time on.  I’ve never enjoyed The Simpsons humour, why did I think I would enjoy the ride?

So our Last morning at Universal Studios was a total bust.  We left the park at 11:15.

We strolled around City Walk and stopped at The Hard Rock Café for lunch.


It was delicious, fajitas for Carol and nachos for me.

Who owned this pink Cadillac?  Jerry Lee Lewis or Bruce Springsteen?

A stained glass window with Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis


The restaurant was filled with lots of pictures of old time rock stars and memorabilia but that stained glass window of Chuck, Elvis and Jerry kept drawing my attention!


Our plan was to spend the afternoon, or at least a few hours of it, at Universal's new water park, Volcano Bay.  We caught the boat back to our hotel, put on our swim suits and headed toward the lobby.  In the hall not far from our room we spotted a maid's cart so we 'borrowed' a couple of towels to take with us.


We hopped the complimentary bus to Volcano Bay just outside the lobby.  It's Florida’s newest water park; it opened about a year ago.

It's very nice at Volcano Bay; we had a pleasant couple of hours in the 87° heat.


The park wasn’t very busy so we were able to find some shaded lounge chairs under a big palm tree at Waturi Beach, very close to the wave pool.


We stashed our shoes and stuff under the lounge chairs then tried to lay our towels out on the chairs . . . Aw Crap!  They're bath mats!


We bobbed and splashed for about 45 minutes at Waturi Beach; the wave pool felt wonderful on a steamy hot day!


We decided it was time to move to the Kopiko Wai Winding River.  It's a typical ‘Lazy River’ area with a very strong current that pushes you a bit faster than other rivers we've bobbed around.


I held Carol’s tube in a shallow area while she sat in it and got herself comfortably situated, then I put my arms up in the air and pulled a tube down over my head and shoulders.  Once it squeezed past my shoulders I heard it hiss ‘sskkksshh’ like air brakes on a bus as it sealed itself around my chest. 


It was firmly sealed and fully waterproof.  I felt quite secure.


We had a very enjoyable ride all around the winding river.  We dodged a few drenching waterfalls and got soaked by a few that snuck up on us.


Once we completed a full circuit and got back to our launch area I pushed Carol’s tube up into the shallow water and held it while she dismounted.  Then I discovered I couldn’t remove my tube.


I lifted it a bit, then it stuck.  I was like Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story . . . I couldn’t put my arms down!


I said to Carol, “I think you’re going to have to help me!”


I held my arms straight up in the air while scrunching my shoulders as she tugged and pushed . . . but it wouldn’t budge.


“I can’t reach high enough.” she said, “Bend over!”  While I bent at the waist she moved behind me and gave the tube a tremendous shove.  I sure wasn't expecting that! 


I did an immediate face-plant in the shallow water, then flailed around like a beached whale, unable to get my arms down far enough to roll over and get my head out of the water.


When I finally managed to roll over and get into a sitting position in the foot-deep water, my pinioned arms sticking straight up in the air, I spotted my caring and compassionate wife and a nearby lifeguard, both convulsed with laughter.


Once she regained her composure Carol leaned down, grabbed the tube and pulled it straight up.  It emitted a loud sucking sound as it released and I immediately skulked off to a nearby lounge chair to pat myself dry with my bath mat and let my pride heal itself.

We caught the bus back to Portofino Bay at 2:30.


We had a well earned nap and then Carol finished packing.  We were all ready for our move to Disney in the morning.

We had another nice dinner . . . pizza from Sal's Market Deli.  We ate it outside in the plaza beside the bay and enjoyed the music of those wonderful tenors for the last time.


When the music was over I said to Carol, "I really like the resort here, but the parks were a bit disappointing.  It's the sort of place we don't need to visit more than once a decade."


"I'm not sure we ever need to come back!" she replied.  I can't disagree with that.


We headed back to our room but as we approached the west wing Carol said, "Do you realize that we've been here for four days and I haven't bought a thing?"  I was shocked that I hadn't noticed!


She spun on her heel and went directly to the gift shop where she bought a fridge magnet to commemorate our visit!

November 15, 2018


We were up at 7:00 and enjoyed a slow and easy morning.  At 9:30 we dragged our luggage to the lobby and checked out.  Carol arranged for a Lyft driver to pick us up and take us to Disney's Contemporary Resort.


The room wasn't ready when we checked in . . . not surprising since it was only 10:20.


We could smell the gingerbread house in the lobby so we followed our noses, found it and took a few pictures.  That house stands about 10' tall and it's entirely made of gingerbread!


Carol browsed a few of the shops while I had a bagel for breakfast at the Contempo Café.


We decided to hop in the monorail and go to Magic Kingdom, but the room was ready just before we boarded our train.  We took time to settle in the room and then wandered around the pool for a while.

We had a spur-of-the-moment snack, a hot dog at the Contemporary's poolside bar.  It's a good thing we were sharing - that thing was huge!


We caught a Lyft to Hollywood Studios at 1:00 p.m.


We circled the theme park a couple of times; our driver was very confused by all the construction.  It should have been a 10 minute ride but it took a half-hour.



Our first priority was to stop in at Grauman's Chinese Theatre to register for the Jingle Bell: Jingle Bam Dessert Party we would be enjoying later.


Then we strolled around Echo Lake and took a few pictures.



I headed to Rock ‘n Roller Coaster to take the single rider line while Carol shopped along Sunset Boulevard.  Ouch!  The line was huge so I skipped the ride. There just wasn't time - we were supposed to meet friends Al & Jane from Missouri for lunch at 2:30.


Carol soon joined me near the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster queue and we headed to 50’s Prime Time Café where Al & Jane were waiting.


We had a nice lunch and a two-hour visit.  We hadn't seen them since March so there was lots of catching up to do!

After lunch we hurried off to Sunset Boulevard.  We had a 4:30 FastPass+ for Tower of Terror.  As we passed Starring Rolls our  friends Susan and Allison from Toronto spotted us.  Carol visited with them while I carried on to the tower and rode alone.

When I got back to Starring Rolls Susan and Allison had just left.  Carol and I headed to Toy Story Land.  Carol had seen this new area in the park last August but it was my first time.


There are only three rides and it's a relatively small area, but the design and the theming are great.


We had a FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster ride so we took a spin before heading back to Sunset Boulevard.


During the Christmas season the Sunset Seasons Greetings show is projected on the Tower of Terror about every 20 minutes, starting just after dusk.


It's a great show featuring light, lasers, music, and animation.



We checked in at 6:30 for our Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM dessert party.  It's a buffet style dessert party in the forecourt at Grauman's the Chinese Theatre.


We settled at our table and met our tablemates, two ladies from Mississippi.  Soon Santa Goofy arrived and we took a picture with him before helping ourselves to some tasty desserts.


Just before 8:00 p.m. we were led to our private viewing area just in front of the theatre.  The show is wonderful.  Like the Sunset Seasons Greetings show it has light, lasers, music, and animation but it has a few added things like Disney movie and cartoon characters, scenes from Disney, Marvel and Lucas films and a plot where Prep and Landing's Lanny and Wayne rescue Santa Claus.  Oh yes - there's pyrotechnics too.  The show ends with a spectacular fireworks display!




The park was closed when the show ended at about 8:45 so we waited a few minutes while the crowds thinned a bit, then headed slowly toward the exit where we caught a Lyft to the Contemporary.



This pretty tray of bon-bons was waiting for us when we got back home at 9:25.  I'm not a chocolate fan, but Carol assured me it was delicious! 

November 16, 2018

Carol had planned to get up early and head to the Magic Kingdom before 7:30 to buy some of the special 90th Birthday Merchandise that was being released to Annual Passholders at Mickey's Star Traders.  She overslept, scrambled a bit and was on the monorail by 7:45.


It was a slow ride, she didn't get to the park until 8:10 and by then there was quite a line.  Everyone looking to buy the special  merchandise was directed to a 'backstage' walkway behind the shops on the east side of Main Street USA.


Meanwhile, I went to The Wave for a nice breakfast then spent some time selecting pictures for this Trip Report.

Carol spent about an hour and a half in line waiting to shop at Mickey's Star Traders and once she had what she wanted walked to Frontier Mercantile, the Pin Traders Shop in Frontierland.  Naturally as she headed to the exit she had to walk through the Christmas Store and the Emporium.


Carol was back to the Contemporary Resort at 10:30 and we both headed down to Convention area at 11:00 and lined for registration at the DestinationD event.

There were about a dozen cast members distributing the RSP pins.


Once we were registered we donned our credentials and headed upstairs to pick up the RSP (Random Selection Process) purchases Carol had bought and paid for months ago.


Then we stopped in at the Mickey's of Glendale store.  In previous years this was one of the highlights for Carol, this was where she bough her pins.  This year they used the RSP process so there were no pins at Mickey's of Glendale and it took some of the magic out of the experience.  There were plenty of shirts, jackets, bags but all she picked up was a limited edition set of Mickey and Minnie plush figures that came with a commemorative pin.


Later in the trip she went back and bought a nice blue hoodie after they were marked down to 40% off.


Once all the shopping was done we went to the Contempo Café for lunch and were back to our room about 1:45.

We caught the monorail and headed to the Magic Kingdom at 3:00 p.m.  The park was very crowded but we had a FastPass for Peter Pan which we didn't want to waste!


We picked up Sorcerer Cards at the Fire Hall and wandered through the Emporium on our way to Fantasyland.

After riding Peter Pan we popped in to the Memento Mori shop then headed toward the exit.  Carol joined a huge line at the Ice Cream Parlour to pick up a special Minnie kitchen sink for our friend Jane while I waited at City Hall.  That version of the sink was only available for the weekend.

We boarded a launch to Grand Floridian and spent a few minutes in the lobby looking at the amazing Gingerbread house they erect every year.  There is a shop inside that house and they sell a variety of products made with gingerbread.


Carrie, Becky and Francine arrived at 5:30 and the five of us enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Grand Floridian Café.  We chatted at our table until about 7:45 when Becky and Francine left for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  Carrie, Carol and I took a Lyft to Disney Springs.


We wandered through a few shops on our way to Pin Central, then took a slow stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail.

The Christmas Tree Trail is located in the old Bus Stop area at Disney Springs and the entrance is beside Pin Central and The Earl of Sandwich.  The trail made it's debut in 2016 with 15 trees,  each one inspired by a different Disney character or theme.  The display grows a bit each year, there are now 27 trees on display.

They are magnificent, if you're at Walt Disney World during the holiday season be sure to take a stroll through the trail and enjoy a hot cup of egg nog!

Carrie was staying next door at Saratoga Springs so she walked back to her resort.  Carol and I arranged a Lyft and were back to the Contemporary at 10:00 p.m.

November 17, 2018

We were up at 6:45 and enjoyed coffee in the room.  At 7:25 I headed to The Wave for breakfast.  Francine and Becky came along just as I was checking in and just a few minutes later Carrie and Carolyn joined the group.  We had a nice breakfast.  Carol isn't a breakfast person but she joined us for a coffee.

We left the restaurant at about 8:30 to line up for the event, but the doors were already open when we got there.  We found a good viewing spot and settled in for the morning.

At 9:00 a.m. sharp Mickey Mouse led the Main Street Philharmonic as they paraded down the aisle to get things started.

Michael Vargas, D23 President joined Mickey Mouse on stage and they both welcomed us to the 2-day event.

Mr. Vargas introduced Bob Chapek, Chairman Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products who spent a full hour describing all of the new and exciting changes coming to Disney Parks around the world.


We saw pictures of the new Star Wars land that is nearing completion as well as concept drawings for Mickey's Soundsational Parade which is returning to the Magic Kingdom.  Mr Chapek shared a few glimpses at the new technology that will be used in Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.  Then we heard some terrific news - the CircleVision movie in the Canada Pavilion is being updated . . . filming is currently underway!  Hooray!


At one point Bob asked us all to put on the special 90th Birthday Mickey Ears we had been given, then he and Mickey turned to pose for this picture.


Don't strain your eyes looking for Carol and I, but I assure you we really are in there!


Mr Chapek concluded by saying, “We are currently in the midst of one of the most extraordinary periods of expansion in our history. We are always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible as we deliver world-class experiences and attractions, new hotels and entertainment, itineraries and destinations for our guest.”

Can you see Carol and I?  We're about 30 rows back, just to the left of Mickey.

Don Hahn, John Pomeroy, Mark Henn

At 10:00 a.m. Legendary Film Producer Don Hahn led a panel discussion titled 'A Mouse in Shorts: Animating Mickey Through the Years'  Don was joined by Master Disney Animator Mark Henn and Animation Legend John Pomeroy.


As they told us about Mickey's evolution over the past 90 years the three men shared some amazing stories from their varied careers.  Don Hahn worked on his first Disney production in 1981, he was an Assistant Director on The Fox and the Hound and in recent years he was the Producer for box office hits Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.  Eighteen of the Disney films he has directed or produced have been nominated for Academy awards.


Mark Henn joined Disney in 1980 and has first worked as an animator on The Fox and the Hound.   Like Mr. Hahn he has worked on dozens of productions and was recently the Lead Animator on Big Hero 6.


John Pomeroy began his career with the Disney Corporation in 1973.  He first worked on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too and shared his experiences working with many of Disney's earliest animators.

The first animator Walt Disney hired for his new animation studio was Ub Iwerks who he first met in 1919.


Mr. Iwerks, pictured on the right with a couple of his sketches, was the lead animator for all of the early Mickey Mouse cartoons back in the late 1920's and early 1930's.

Animator Ward Kimball


Frank Thomas animated that iconic spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp.


Walt Disney and the animators working on a storyboard.

This kind of session is the sort of thing that I enjoy most about events like D23 DestinationD . . . the chance to sit and listen as people who have lived, breathed and worked Disney for so many years share their experiences.  It's always a treat to hear a few of their 'insider' stories!


During many of the sessions over the course of the two-day event we saw pictures and video clips that have never been released to the public.  Prior to about half the presentations we were asked to refrain from taking any pictures or recording any videos.


The three panellists in this lead-off discussion did a wonderful job telling the story of Mickey's first 90 years.  They combined their personal knowledge and experience with film clips from the Disney Vault to show how he was created in 1928 and how he has evolved and matured over the years.

Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline was the next presenter.  She told us about 'Weird Disney: The Early Mickey Years'


She had scoured the Disney Archives to find some unusual stories from Mickey's past!

Did you know that in the 1930's some of Mickey's Silly Symphony cartoons were banned by European censors.  They were considered a bit too 'racy' for audience over there.  Really?  Our Mickey Mouse considered racy?

Did you know that there was a Mickey Mouse Club as early as 1930 when Mickey was barely one year old?  Mickey was an instant hit . . . an overnight success.  The certificate, button and poster pictured on the left are from a Mickey Mouse Club event held at the Fox Dome Theatre in Ocean Park California on January 11, 1930.  That's only 418 days after Mickey made his debut in Plane Crazy!

Just before we broke for lunch Disney animator Mark Henn returned to the stage and showed us all how to sketch Mickey Mouse.  It was the first of two 'Animation Academy' sessions.

We broke for lunch at noon.  Carol and I tried ‘Goofy’s Grab & Go’ . . .  it was a temporary dining area set up in the parking lot just outside the Convention Centre doors.  I tried a garden salad plate that was okay.  Carol had a burger and it was BAD . . . cold and dry.


Carol took another quick lap through the Mickey's of Glendale store to see if there were any bargains and posed with one of the props in the store.


From there we went to Mickey's Marketplace where some interesting 90th Birthday merchandise was on sale, including the Minnie and Mickey stuffed figures by Steiff pictured below on the right.


The afternoon sessions kicked off at 1:30 with 'Voices of the “Fab 3”  Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars led a discussion with Voice Actors Bret Iwan, the voice of Mickey Mouse, and Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy and Pluto.

Bret Iwan, Bill Farmer

Bill Farmer in his early 'Goofy" years!

We have met Bill Farmer at Dayton Disneyana a few times but this was our first time listening to Bret Iwan.  They both took a look back at the voices of Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto through the years.  They talked about the actors who provided voices for those iconic characters in years gone by and described how they work and interact in the studio.


Of course, much of their presentation was 'in character'.  They would switch from their natural voices to their 'professional' voices with ease.  It was a very informative and educational experience.


Disney Archivists Kevin Kern and Mike Buckhoff were on stage next.  In 'Archiving the Show - Mouse of the World' they chronicled Mickey’s history and career by showing us some of the unique and rare merchandise and collectibles found in the Disney Archives.

The next session, 'Collecting Mickey, the True Original' followed a similar theme.  Stefanie Whitmore, Head of Disney Consumer Products was joined onstage at 3:30 by Libby Spatz, Disney Consumer Products Chief Librarian, Aaron Babcock, Consumer Products, Alex Maher, Disney Artist, and Richard Terpstra, Disney Artist.


The panel talked about the early days of Disney merchandizing.  Everyone, including Walt, was astounded by Mickey Mouse's instant popularity and in the 1930's they had difficulty keeping up with the demand for Mickey Mouse products.  Some of those early products are now extremely valuable collectibles!


Then they described what it takes to make a good Disney collectible, how are they conceived, designed and sold.


Carol is an avid collector of Disney 'stuff' and I kept glancing over to see if she was making any notes . . . nope!  So far, so good!



Libby Spatz, Aaron Babcock, Alex Maher, Richard Terpstra and Stephanie Whitmore

The last session of the afternoon featured Legendary Producer Don Hahn.  His 4:15 presentation, 'Mickey at the Movies' paid tribute to the cinematic legacy of Disney’s most iconic character and shared rare clips from Mickey's feature length movies and cartoon shorts.


Don had some unique insights and anecdotes to share since he directed and produced quite a few of those movies!

As soon as we broke for dinner at 5:00 Carol and I made a dash to the dock to catch a launch to Fort Wilderness where we had a dinner reservation at Trail's End.  It was a bad decision.  The boat was slow arriving and we were a few minutes late getting seated at the restaurant.  The meal was nice, as always, but it was a bit too rushed.  We really enjoy the buffet at Fort Wilderness and we like to take our time while we're there.  We really had to rush to get back to the Contemporary Resort for the evening session.  We got back just as the 7:00 p.m. presentation was beginning.


It was titled 'An Evening of Music with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman' and what an evening it was!  It was the best session of the day!


Song-writing team Shaiman and Wittman wrote the score for Disney’s new musical and sequel “Mary Poppins Returns”.  They gave us a 90 minute behind-the-scenes look at the movie and discussed how they created the original music and songs.  Marc Shaiman - often moved to the piano and performed some of the songs.


WOW!  We can’t wait to see the movie, it looks and sounds great!


As we left the auditorium at 8:30 each of us was given a copy of the movie poster and a code to download the movie soundtrack once it's released.


Carol and I joined Carrie, Carolyn, Francine and Becky who were heading to the Contempo Café for a snack.  Holy cow!  The place was crazy busy, so we moved next door and had a cold drink in the Far Out Lounge.


We were back in the room at 9:45 and Carol did a bit of packing since we'll have a busy night tomorrow.

November 18, 2018

I set the alarm for 6:45 to be sure I was up in time for a 7:30 breakfast at The Wave.  When the alarm chimed we both sprung out of bed and started getting ready for our last day at D23 DestinationD.


I was in the bathroom shaving when I heard Carol shout, "You fool, it's 6:00 o'clock!"  Oops!  Looks like I made a mistake!  We both went back to bed for a short nap.


I went to The Wave at 7:25, Carol left the room just a few minutes later and joined the line that was forming for seats in the auditorium.


After breakfast Carrie, Carolyn, Francine Becky and I found Carol, she had saved us a row of seats in a great spot, not far from the stage.


I wandered the room and took a few pictures as we waited for the program to start.

The overhead video screens played an interesting clip featuring Disney Artist Mark Henn (above) who created the official 90th Birthday portrait of Mickey Mouse.


It was quite an honour for him to be selected and it was interesting to watch the time-lapse images as he created the wonderful piece pictured on the left.  Everyone member who attended D23 DestinationD was given a magnet with a copy of Mark's beautiful creation on it.

The morning kicked off promptly at 9:00 a.m. with  'Mickey Mouse Club Moment: 1989'  This short vignette showed the 1989 Mouseketeers clad in leg warmers doing aerobic exercises.  It was mercifully brief!

Then came 'Mickey’s Lost Adventures: Uncovering the Magic of Disney Storytelling' - Disney archivist Kevin Kern and Walt Disney Imagineering’s Steven Vagnini guided us through an exploration of rarely seen and unusual Mickey projects—including a few that never jumped off the page!

Yes, they really did discuss converting the Carousel of Progress to a giant birthday cake for Mickey's 60th birthday.  We can all be thankful that never happened!

I don't know if it was going to be a roller coaster or a flume ride, but can you imagine riding down that slope and being devoured by Monstro?

Kevin and Steven showed us the script for a 1930's radio show, 'Mickey's Candy Mine', that was never produced.  The starring character were Mickey Mouse and Goofy.  They read a few of the lines themselves and then decided that they needed some help!

So they both headed down the aisles in the auditorium looking for volunteers to read the parts.  Some of the D23 members had pretty good character voices . . . and some were very bad!


I'm' sure it entirely coincidental that Kevin and Steven stumbled upon Bret Iwan and Bill Farmer who were in the audience . . . but before you could say 'Gawrsh Mickey' they were up on stage reading their lines from that script.


It was hilarious to listen as they talked about digging caramel, chocolate, marshmallow and other sweets out of the ground!

At 10:00 Becky Cline, Director, Walt Disney Archives and Darren Romanelli, Creative Director & Designer presented 'Inside Mickey The True Original Exhibition'.  They gave us a behind the scenes look at the making of Mickey: The True Original Exhibition, a three-month-long immersive art experience open in New York City from November 8, 2018–February 10, 2019.

We got a look at the amazing selection of collectibles provided by the Walt Disney Archives, along with behind-the-scenes details on the new work created just for the exhibition by contemporary artists.

Becky and Darren

At 10:45 we heard a bit about 'Dressing Mickey & Minnie Mouse in the Parks'.  A panel of designers and seamstresses described how they plan each and every character costume to fit the occasion, the location and the activity.


Will it be worn indoors or outdoors?  Will guests see it from a distance or will they be close-up?  Will the character be active and need a costume that provides a wide range of motion.  They described how they create costumes for all of the different scenarios to provide the best guest experience as well as comfort and convenience for the cast member.


There is a lot of thought and planning involved in all those outfits that you see!


They wound up their presentation by inviting some characters up on stage to show off the new outfits they'll be wearing for Mickey's 90th birthday!

Just before we broke for lunch Ashley Eckstein, Voice Actor, Fabiola Garza, Disney Artist and Diana Brost, Disney Imagineer presented 'Totally Minnie'.  They took us through the nine reasons why they TOTALLY LOVE Mickey’s leading lady.  She's a fashion icon, movie star, merchandising maven, and goodwill ambassador at Disney Parks and Resorts around the world.  And, of course, she's Mickey's sweetheart!

My absolute favourite part of the presentation was a music video starring Minnie Mouse and Elton John, both all decked out in pink, singing a duet . . . 'Don't Go Breakin' My Heart'  I had never seen it before . . . it was priceless!


Before the presentation ended Minnie joined the panel on stage and we all wished her Happy Birthday!


After all, she's 90 years-old too!

Ashley Eckstein, Minnie Mouse, Fabiola Garza and Diana Brost

We broke for lunch at noon.  No Goofy's Grab & Go today!  Carol and Carrie dashed up to the Contempo Café to get in line for food while Becky and Francine  managed to get the last available table, conveniently located beside the trash can and not far from Mickey's birthday cake.  


Becky sat in the corner with her elbow overhanging the garbage.  It was actually quite handy, we could 'bucket brigade' all of our trash down the table to Becky who filed it away in the garbage!  What a trooper!

The first afternoon session began at 1:30   'Mickey Mouse Club Moment: 1989' gave us a short video glimpse of the Mickey Mouse Club alumni from 1989 who went on to achieve fame and fortune.  Justin Timberlake, Britney Speers, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling were unknowns in 1989 but they're household names today!

At 1:40 three Imagineers presented 'Mickey and Pals at the Disney Parks'.  Alex WrightWyatt Winter, and Jason Grandt of Walt Disney Imagineering looked at the attractions and experiences that Mickey and his pals have been a part of at Disney Parks around the globe.  They shared behind the scenes details and stories about some of the oldest attractions like Mickey Mouse Revue as well as the newest creations like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.


I'm a big fan of the Imagineers; I could listen to them all day long!

We had another 'Animation Academy' moment at 2:45.  Legendary Animator John Pomeroy drew Sorcerer Mickey, Pooh, Tinker Bell while folks in the audience followed his instructions and sketched in the notepads we all received in our 'goody bag'.

Carol and I didn't do any drawing, but many of those sitting around us did a great job.

The last session of the afternoon, 'Catching Up with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway', began at 3:15.  Kevin Rafferty and Charita Carter gave us a sneak peek at the exciting attraction that will open in Grauman's Chinese Theatre at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2019.


One of the most interesting aspects of the presentation was the video tribute they played honouring Jimmy MacDonald, Disney's legendary sound editor.  Jimmy was hired by Walt Disney in the very early years of Disney animation and over the years he devised some very unusual ways to generate the sounds needed in animated features.


Who else would have thought to sand down automobile brake drums until they produced just the right tone when you struck them with a hammer?  Many of the old devices Jimmy created are still in the Disney archives and as a tribute to Jimmy some of them are being used to create the sound track for the Runaway Railway.


Kevin and Charita ended their presentation by holding up, and then blowing, a large pair of old whistles . . . they were over 90 years old and they were the whistles used to create the sounds heard in the original Steamboat Willie cartoon. 


It's coming full circle, those same whistles are being used to create the soundtrack for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.


We had a break from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. to give hotel staff time to remove all the chairs from our auditorium ballroom and get it ready for Mickey's big gala birthday bash!


We headed back to our room in the Contemporary Resort's Garden Wing and spotted Mickey along the way.  He was playing games and posing for pictures beside the pool so we stopped to take a few snaps!

Soon it was 5:30, time for that big birthday celebration.  It was a PJ Party and there were a surprising number of guests who were actually wearing pajamas!   There were cupcakes, cold drinks and of course the music was loud.


Disney characters, all in their PJs, were dancing and posing for pictures with guests.

'Four Artists Paint One Mouse' featured four easels set up around the ballroom where artists Jeff Shelly, Fabiola Garza, Richard Terpstra, and Tim Rogerson all painted their own special renditions of Mickey in their own unique style.


By 6:15 we were all partied out, we were anxious to get to the Magic Kingdom . . . it just seemed like the best place to be on Mickey's birthday!


First we had to get to EPCOT to pick up the special magnets that were being passed out to Annual Passholders so we hopped a Lyft to EPCOT and hustled off to Mouse Gear for our magnets.


Cast Members were handing out commemorative 90th birthday buttons so we nabbed a few of those too!



We paused for a couple of PhotoPass pictures and then boarded another Lyft for a ride to the to Magic Kingdom.

Holy Cow!  The park was busy.  Very busy.  We made a quick stop at the Fire Hall for Sorcerer cards then went to Casey's for dinner.  Yikes!  The line was huge!


We went on to Liberty Square and, as we expected, it was a lot slower at Columbia Harbor House.  I had a fish and shrimp platter while Carol had the chicken pot pie.  Very tasty!

We didn't see any special activities or events related to Mickey's big day, so we just wandered around for a while enjoying that magical Disney atmosphere.


Carol took her last stroll through The Emporium as we made our way to the exit.


We caught the monorail back to our hotel at 9:30, exhausted after a very busy week!

November 19, 2018


We were up bright and early - much too early!  We needed to catch the Magical Express bus to Orlando International Airport at 6:30 and our bags had to be checked-in with the Bell Captain before we boarded the bus!  Once again we had trouble with the check-in process.  When we fly Jet Blue there is always some kind of system-disconnect with the baggage.  If we check-in for the flight online then the Bell Captain cannot check-in the luggage.  No one understands why and only occasionally can anyone fix it!


Today was not one the days where they solved the issue so we dragged the bags along with us and boarded the bus.  Note to self:  Never use online check-in when flying with Jet Blue!


Our bus made quick stops at Wilderness Lodge and The Grand Floridian but we arrived at the airport in plenty of time.  We checked the bags, cleared security and found a quiet restaurant in the airport where we enjoyed coffee and a light breakfast.


Our 9:57 flight boarded on time and pulled away from the gate a few minutes early.  We had a quiet and uneventful flight to JFK Airport in New York.


What a dull place to spend an afternoon!  We had lunch in a nice little sports bar then settled in for a long wait before our next flight.


It's a very short hop from New York to Syracuse, less than an hour in the air.  We left a few minutes early and landed a few minutes early.


Our luggage was quick to appear on the carousel and we were in our car leaving the airport at 6:22 p.m.


After a quick stop for gas at Watertown NY we crossed the border at 8:00 and were home with happy dogs at 8:30.


It was a good trip!  We enjoyed our time at Universal but we're in no great rush to return to the parks.  Portofino Bay Resort was wonderful, I think we'll be returning to Mama Della's for dinner again!


D23 was everything we expected.  Both Carol and I enjoy meeting and talking with the Disney Imagineers and Artists.  It's always fun listening to the inside stories and the great anecdotes from Disney history!


Our next trip will begin February 11, 2019 when we pack the dogs in the car and head to Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for 22 nights!  Can't wait!