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YensidsApprentice

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YensidsApprentice last won the day on August 10 2015

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About YensidsApprentice

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  1. Thanks Fiz. Maybe live broadcasting the channels aren't a good idea. I'm sure Disney watches these sites and more than likely I'd be breaking some rule I'm sure they have.
  2. Is there anyway to hook up a laptop to the TV set in the resort and then live stream the WDW TV channel? Example, I have a direct capture device which would allow me to download/record the Must Do show with Stacey to my laptop. Is there any device, or any way, with the capture device, to live stream that channel to Eyes on Ears?
  3. Oh man, what can I say about this... Well, I was recently in WDW and found the wifi to lack. I couldn't connect at all in my room at the boardwalk. My network said I was connected but the internet would never come up. Just kept loading and loading. I didn't find the issue to be that bad in the parks however. I was able to get into my MDE account, look at the wait times, book and ADR on the fly, and even check on my fast passes. There were only one or two times I can remember getting the loading circle without connecting. But I agree, having lousy wifi at the resorts is bad show and terrible. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the technologically advanced Disney.
  4. Friday July 17, 2015 Our last day in Walt Disney World. And another day with no theme park plans. However, I had set up a tour of the Polynesian DVC rooms while in Epcot on Wednesday. I approached the DVC kiosks and spoke with the guide. He set up the tour for me, as a member, and even had set up for us to be picked up at BoardWalk. Well, two of my friends planned on coming out to visit me on Friday. So, on Thursday I called the DVC number to see if I could add them to the tour. No problem I was told as the Cast Member added their information to the roster. My friends arrive at the BoardWalk after going food shopping. They planned on cooking us dinner in the room instead of going out to eat. We gladly accepted. My friends had the bell hops help bring the food and the pots/pans up to the room. We knew we were going to get one heck of a well cooked and delicious meal. Well, the time came to meet the DVC van in front of the BoardWalk. We got into the vehicle, and our driver took us over to the Polynesian. We met with one of the DVC representatives who took us inside to meet with the tour guide. Here is where the confusion comes into play. The Cast Member I spoke with on Thursday mistook my adding of my friends as we were booking the tour for them, and she changed everything to the complete tour for new, potential DVC buyers. I explained that wasn’t the case. I booked solely as a member to see the Polynesian rooms, but added my friends on since they were coming to visit. I didn’t want to leave them alone, and figured they would love to see the rooms too, while spending time with us. The guide had to call his manager, who then seemed to get annoyed with my friends as they explained they were not interested in the full tour, and they were only accompanying me as I viewed the Poly rooms. We finally got things cleared up after much confusion. The guide took us to the studios first. I fell in love. The rooms are unreal. What did me in was seeing the bungalows. Stunning. I wish I had the cash to buy into Polynesian. I’d love to stay in the bungalows. But I do not have enough points. I can stay in the studio though. And with my point totals, I can do two weeks. I’m thinking about it for 2016. We left Poly and the DVC was drove us back to BoardWalk. There, we went over to the pool for a while. I didn’t go in the water. My friends did though. I just sat on the lounge chair. After they had their fill of swimming, we went back to the room for dinner. My friend cooked a chicken and pasta dish she found on Pintrest. And it was great. So good, in fact, I had two helpings. And then dessert, apple pie and coffee. We sat on the balcony having dinner and dessert. Put my Illuminations CD into the DVD player so we could have some mood music in the back ground while we ate. And as night fell, we managed to once again catch the fireworks show from DHS. We had a great last night in Walt Disney World with my friends visiting. We said we would meet up again when I visit in December. After they left, my other friend and I packed our stuff knowing we were leaving the next morning for our journey home. Next up: July 18, 2015
  5. Thursday July 16, 2015 Well, our theme park days were done. We slept in on Thursday since we were going pretty strong for the previous two days. And funny, the 16 hours in Magic Kingdom never caught up to me, I cannot say the same for my friend. He zonked out as soon as we got back to the room from Epcot, and didn’t wait up until after 9:00 AM Thursday morning. But still had time to make our 10:00 AM ADR for Kona Cafe. Can we say TONGA TOAST?????? Since we had no real plans for the last two days, I went ahead and booked a tour at Golden Oak. For those unfamiliar, Golden Oak is a private residential development, where Four Season is located, by Disney right on Walt Disney World property. But before we took the tour at Golden Oak, we drove around for a bit checking out all the new developments in the area. We even stopped at a new development to look around. The agent was nice enough to take us into a model apartment. I forget the name of the development, but I can tell you the apartments were really nice. Luxury apartments are renting for $1350 a month. In my area, luxury apartments rent for $2600 and up, depending on how many bedrooms. We then drove over to Golden Oak. I booked the tour not as a buyer but as another real estate agent interested in the development and setting my sites on making business contacts in Florida. Now, as per our regulations, I cannot claim Golden Oak as my own listing. But I sure can find buyers and refer them to the agent I met. Now, if I only knew millionaires!!!! The agent came out to meet us in the waiting area. She showed up the model of the land, and explained where the new homes were about to be built. We watched a video they send out to potential buyers before we left to view the homes in person. She took us in her vehicle and drove over to the first model home. We walked in and my jaw dropped to the floor. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I was lost for words. Huge living room. Huge master bedroom. Heck, the bathroom was the size of many bedrooms I see when showing homes or apartments in my town. And I’m only talking the toilet bowl area, not including the shower. Each home had an elevator to take you to the second floor. And the contractors would theme your bedroom to anything you want. The rooms we saw had a Frozen theme, a pirates theme, and a Cinderella theme. I was told they would even do a Star Wars theme for you. If I only had millions of dollars to spend, I’d have my very own Star Wars themed bedroom in my mansion at Golden Oak. We met some upper managers in charge of running Golden Oak. Each was extremely nice. They seemed to appreciate the interest I was showing in Golden Oak. We explained how I was an agent hoping to drum up some business and refer potential buyers. Before we left, the agent and her broker gave me marketing materials to bring back to my broker, and of course, for myself. I’m back three weeks now and still trying to find out how to market these homes without sounding as if they are my listings. I’ll figure it out though. I’m that determined. I’ve just been very busy since I been back. After Golden Oak, we went back to Walmart. My friend and I picked up some snacks for the room, and something to drink. We also bought more bottles of water for our journey home on Saturday. Earl of Sandwich was dinner again on Thursday night. We hopped on the bus at BoardWalk to Downtown Disney. My friend wanted to walk through World of Disney. Who was I to object? I like how they redid the cash registers. The store feels a little more roomy now. The expansion of the store should help even more with the overcrowding. We grabbed our sandwiches from Earl and went back to the room. This time we sat on the balcony eating dinner. The room over looked the pool with the clown face slide. We had a view of Tower of Terror, and were able to hear Fantasmic as we dined. Then we saw the Frozen fireworks as we continued to sit outside. The night was growing old, and time was getting late, so we went back inside. We picked on some of the chips we bought while watching Disney’s Must Do’s again. I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, so I called it a night. We were heading into our last full day, and we had something planned, which I set up on Wednesday, and finalized on Thursday. Next up: Friday July 17, 2015
  6. Wednesday July 15, 2015 continued After lunch, we left Epcot to head back to the BoardWalk. We unpacked my car and trekked up to the resort. Unfortunately the walk to the room was a long one. I felt like we were walking through a maze just to find our room. And carrying heavy bags was no fun either. That really made the walk tiring. Sweat was pouring off me by time we reached the room. I hopped into the shower to freshen up. We went back over to Epcot around 4:00 in the afternoon. First stop was The Land to see if Living with the Land had died down. The line was still obscenely long. The line for Test Track was just as long as earlier in the day. So I went to a kiosk to see if I could get a fast pass. Test Tracks were all gone. I was able to secure one for Living with the Land though. We decided to check out Universe of Energy at this time. The attraction is still full on 1980s/1990s cheesiness. Please, Disney, do something with this attraction too. And I don’t mean shut it down without a replacement, like Wonders of Life. After Energy, we used our fast pass for Living with the Land. I love this attraction. It is very relaxing. True, it isn’t spectacular. But there is something about it I just love. After Land, we walked over to Test Track and decided to ride it with the single rider line. We didn’t care if we got split up. We’ve done that before. This was my friend’s first time riding the new Test Track. He liked it. He said he liked it much better than the previous version. The time was approaching 8:00 PM. We had finished everything in Future World. But we didn’t really do World Showcase. We never got to sit and watch American Adventure. We didn’t stop inside any of the country pavilions, except for Mexico and China. And forget the movie for Canada and France; we never got to see those either. But that did not really matter to us, even though I really wanted to see American Adventure again. That show amazes me each time I view it. We scoped out our spot for Illuminations on a bridge between France and International Gateway. We figured the bridge was the perfect spot to watch from because, once done, we could just walk right to the boat docks. Illuminations was once again perfect. Truly is my favorite night time spectacular in Walt Disney World. My trip never feels complete until I see Illuminations. Well, after the show, we walked over to the boats and took that nice relaxing trip back to the BoardWalk. Upon arriving, we headed over to the General Store to kill some time. I picked up a candy bar cause I was desiring chocolate. We went back to the room and crashed for the night. Our park days were done. Now we had to fill up two days without doing the theme parks. Easy said, easy done!!!! Next up: July 16, 2015
  7. Wednesday July 15, 2015 I woke up early, around 7:00, to shower and get ready to check out of Saratoga Springs. I ate breakfast as my friend showered. We finished packing and put our bags, and my cooler, into my car. I drove over to the check in/out desk to check out of Saratoga, then over to BoardWalk. Stupid me took the wrong turn and I ended up in Epcot’s parking lot LOL. Anyway I drove over toward DHS to get to the Epcot Resort area hotels. I parked my car and walked over to check in. The room was not ready at 9:00, which I fully expected. The Cast Member gave me the parking pass for my car and told me I could leave my car in the lot where it is and enjoy Epcot. So that is exactly what we did. I parked in the lot, leaving our bags in my trunk. We walked over to the Boardwalk and hopped a boat to Epcot. We entered Epcot through International Gateway in World Showcase. We made the long trek to Future World where our first fast pass, Spaceship Earth, was now available. The line for SSE was extremely long, so we felt satisfied selecting SSE for a FP, as not much is worthy a FP in Epcot anymore. I still don’t like the ending to SSE, and I really don’t care for the narration. Judy Dench’s voice is so monotone; it could put me to sleep. Other than that, I still love SSE, the beginning of it anyway. We then made our way to Test Track, but once we saw how long the line was, we walked away. We headed to Imagination instead, and of course, walked right on. Ok, I lied; we had a 5 minute wait. I’m hoping they really do something drastic to Imagination. The ride needs it. This version is just bad. Our fast pass for Nemo was up next, so we crossed over to the Seas. We didn’t even need the fast pass. Nemo was a walk on. Ok, so we wasted one fast pass selection, but I really had no other choice. With the tier system in place for Epcot, the selections for fast passes are slim. Well anyway, we rode the clamshell for Nemo, and walked out feeling unfulfilled. That ride had so much promise, but short on delivery. They should have put in a better dark ride in Animal Kingdom. I hold out hope they add Australia one day and include a Nemo dark ride to do it justice. Nemo deserves it. After Nemo, we made our way over to The Land. We had some time before Soarin, so the idea was to take in Living with the Land, then hit Soarin. Well, Living with the Land had an hour wait. AN HOUR!!!! So, we went over to watch Circle of Life instead. Then we sat down by Soarin waiting the 15 minutes for our time to come. While waiting, I received the text saying our room at BoardWalk was ready. We hit up Soarin, with a minimal wait at the fast pass line. Again, cannot wait until the new movie Soarin Over the Horizon. And that third theater will for sure make a nice dent in the wait time. I had made an ADR for Nine Dragons on Tuesday while in Magic Kingdom. The ADR I made was for 2:00. We were finished with Soarin about 12:45. My friend suggested we leave to bring our bags to the room. I suggested we just stay to have lunch first then go. I didn’t want to get charged for the ADR. We walked over to World Showcase, and visited Mexico first. We rook a ride on Gran Fiesta Tour, with no wait at all. Pretty much had the boat to ourselves. I felt bad for the CMs working the attraction. They really had very little to do. Not one person was coming to ride the attraction. The time was only 1:00 at this point. Our ADR was for 2:00. I said to my friend, “Let’s just go to Nine Dragons now. Why wait?†He agreed. I told the girl at check in I had a 2:00 ADR. She took my name and sat us right away. So yea, we arrive an hour early, and we still were seated. The restaurant was dead though. Only a handful of people were eating there. That is a shame because I think Nine Dragons is a fantastic restaurant.
  8. Tuesday July 14, 2015 continued We left Frontierland and entered Adventureland again. This time around we took in the tiki birds show. By 5:00 we had mostly everything done. I couldn’t believe it. My friend was just as shocked as I was. We had so much time to kill. I figured we could go to a kiosk and see what kind of fast passes was available, hoping to get one for Peter Pan. We saw a huge line at the only kiosk in Frontierland, so I said off to Tomorrowland to see how those kiosks looked. But before going to Tomorrowland, my friend wanted to grab something to eat. He felt like having fish, so we stopped in Columbia Harbor House. He had a fish dish. I was still pretty full from the BBQ Slaw Dog, so I only had a frozen lemonade and yogurt. We arrived in Tomorrowland, and over to the kiosks I went. I was able to snag a FP for Buzz Lightyear. Because we had some time before the FP arrival time, we rode Peoplemover again. Then we took in Carousel of Progress one more time. Finally, we got in line for Buzz to help defend the galaxy from the evil emperor Zurg. I don’t know how it happened, but my friend was kicking my backside when all of a sudden I shot past him. I had to hit a far away target for mega points. Just don’t ask me which target I hit. I can never tell. We skipped Stitch and Monsters Inc again. I went back to the kiosk to see if I could score Pan fast passes again. I was able to secure a return time of 11:00PM to 12:00AM. I thought that was perfect; we would catch MSEP, Celebrate the Magic, and Wishes then Pan. We took a walk over to 7D to see if we could get on one more time, but the wait time was somewhere over 100 minutes. We said forget that. I made my friend try a Lefou’s Brew. I’m not crazy about it. I do like it, but I do not think it is as good as butterbeer. He liked it though. Disclaimer: he hated butterbeer, thought it was too sweet. We had some time before MSEP, but we decided to stake out our spot on Main Street anyway. I found a spot by the town square and sat on the curb. My friend took a walk through the Emporium looking to see what merchandise he wanted to buy. He returned a few minutes before the parade started. And right before the parade, I gave up my spot on the curb on Main Street to two female friends, probably about 12 or 13 years old? They wanted to sit, but there was only enough room for one of them to sit, and it was right next to me. So, I got up and told the two of them they could sit together. They were happy and thanked me. I still had a good view and that is all that mattered to me. The parade started and slowly made its way up Main Street. I love that old music to MSEP. However, it is time to retire the floats and bring in a new night time parade. After the parade, we grabbed a spot to stand for Celebrate the Magic (was the same show from October 2013, just Frozen added in), and then Wishes. We worked our way through the crowd which was heading for the exit. We were heading back into Fantasyland. Before Pan, we rode Small World for a second time, watched Philharmagic for a second time then lined up for Pan. Not one person was online for fast pass, and very few online for standby. We got in our Pan ride and had officially completed each attraction in Magic Kingdom. Yes, we did ride the Magic Kingdom Railroad, just didn’t mention it in the report. We also didn’t ride Pirates of the Caribbean since the attraction was closed for refurbishment. Ok, let me clarify, we did everything we wanted to do. No, we do not do the meet and greets or Dumbo or any of the other kiddy stuff. We did walk through Storybook Circus so my friend could see what they built. Last time he visited, Mickey’s Toontown still stood. His last trip was right before Toontown closed for good. The day was finally done. We spend 16 hours straight in Magic Kingdom. We exited the park, hopped the bus to Saratoga Springs, and arrived a little after midnight. Needless to say, we crashed hard once we got back into the room. We had a wonderful day in Magic Kingdom. Wednesday would be another fun filled day. Next up: Wednesday July 15, Boardwalk and Epcot
  9. Tuesday July 14, 2015 We decided Tuesday, our first full day, would be the day we visited Magic Kingdom. The plan was to be at the park for opening, then head right over to 7D since we know that line gets crazy. Plus, I didn’t have a fast pass for it. The fast passes were already out when I booked the week before our trip. Well, the plan started off perfectly. We were up and out and on the bus heading to Magic Kingdom all before 8:00. To my surprise the park was already open when we arrived a little after eight. Ok, no problem I figured. Early in the morning, not many guests, we’ll be alright getting to 7D. I was wrong. The problem was not crowds but the attraction. The ride was already down at opening. They were having technical difficulties and would not be able to let us know when the ride would open. We stood on line for a little while but decided to start doing other attractions. First was Little Mermaid. I have been on the ride before, but my friend has never been. I should note, this was the first time I was on the ride since the updates were completed. And I must say the updates brought a major improvement. Not my favorite attraction, but definitely an upgrade from what they originally opened there. After Mermaid, we walked back around to see if 7D was open. We saw the cars running on the track but alas, ride was still not open. The Cast Members were telling everyone there was already a 90 minute wait from the end of the line, if people wanted to wait. We didn’t so over to Winnie the Pooh. Upon exiting the gift shop from the Pooh attraction, we noticed the line for 7D had shortened a bit. People were no longer waiting. So, we decided to stand on line and give it a few minutes. Only a few minutes pass and they finally opened the attraction. We were still being told we had a 90 minute wait. In reality, we waited 30 minutes. This was my first time on 7D and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The ride is too short. Just as you get going and get into it, the ride ends. I’ll say this; the AA’s of the dwarfs were excellent. I loved the projection faces and look forward to more of this on future rides. Anyway, we decided to finish off Fantasyland. We walked over to Philharmagic. And perfect timing. The next show had just started to load up so in we went. I still love Philharmagic, but I’m also hoping they do an update soon. After Philharmagic, we rode Small World. We skipped Peter Pan because the wait was already 70 minutes and the line was not moving. We decided to head over to Tomorrowland since we had fast passes for Space Mountain. Our fast pass time was not coming up just yet, so we took a spin on Carousel of Progress. I still love this attraction, one of my favorites for sure. Next was Wedway Peoplemover. We skipped Buzz because the wait time was astronomical. And we also skipped Stitch (we don’t care for that attraction), and Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. Our fast pass time for Space Mountain arrived, so we hopped on for a trip to outer space. We finished Tomorrowland and walked over to Liberty Square. Haunted Mansion had a minimal wait so we entered the cemetery queue. We got on the ride right away. Haunted Mansion is a classic and an all time favorite of mine. Still early, we headed over to Jungle Cruise. The wait was about 30 minutes, not too bad. Our skipper was great. He made the attraction fun. He popped the jokes on queue. A great skipper makes Jungle Cruise much better. My friend and I were hungry at this point, so over to Casey’s we went. I ordered a BBQ Slaw Dog. He ordered a Polish Sausage. I was amazed at the size of the BBQ slaw dog. The roll was stuffed with cole slaw and pulled bbq pork. Oh and the hot dog. Holy cow! The dog was delicious and filling. I was stuffed. We wanted to digest the food, so into Hall of Presidents we went. The job they did to this attraction in 2008/2009 was nothing short of amazing. The film, the narration, President Obama’s AA, all great! The show played to only a half packed house though. Too bad not many people take the time to enjoy this wonderful show. We couldn’t believe the time was only 1:00. We had done almost half the park already. We had time before Festival of Fantasy and a lot of time before our Splash Mountain FP. So we took in a showing of Country Bears. Yes, I know they reduced the show by a few minutes, cutting out a few songs. My opinion though is the cuts are not noticeable. Everyone clapped along, stomping their feet, some singing and others laughing. Oh rumor has it Country Bears may get their holiday show back. That’s only a rumor though so do not take that as concrete news. I grabbed a spot in Frontierland for Festrival of Fantasy. The reason I chose Frontierland is 1) the parade starts there, and 2) our fast pass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was for 3:00 to 4:00. I figured we catch the parade at starting point then make a bee line to Big Thunder. I love this new parade. The floats are amazing. Maleficent’s dragon float is the best! But the music, I didn’t care for the music. I felt the music was too Disney Tween Popish. No matter though. The parade was excellent. We headed over to Big Thunder Mountain for our fast pass return time. When we arrived, we noticed the line for FP was longer than stand by. One of the people on the line said the ride was down cause of a brief rain shower, and the Cast Members told people who had FP at that time to return whenever they wanted and they would be allowed to ride. Well, looked like everyone decided to use their FP as soon as the ride was reopened. The wait for FP was about 30 minutes. They weren’t even taking anyone from stand by until the FP line was down. I felt bad for the people in the stand by line. Big Thunder was a blast as always. The ride was wild, fun, thrilling; well worth the wait. Next up on our to do list was Splash Mountain. We arrived 15 minutes before our FP time. So, we got ourselves frozen bananas to nibble on while we waited. After the bananas, I tempted fate and tried to get into the FP line before our time. It worked as we were allowed in early. However, when I looked at the time, we were only five minutes early. What can I say about Splash? Hmmm, well, the ride looked in fantastic shape. Everything appeared to be working as they should be. Only thing I am disappointed in is they seem to have removed the hidden Mickey in the river boat scene. There is no more Mickey cloud.
  10. Monday, July 13, 2015 continued I parked in the guest parking lot and entered the Saratoga Springs lobby. A Cast Member approached me asking how she could help. I told her I was here to check in and that I did online check in. She took me off the line and looked my information up on her tablet. She informed me my room was not read yet, despite me stating in the online request that I was to arrive at 2:00. Oh well, not too important because Disney does not promise or guarantee the room would be ready at that time. Anyways, she gave me my welcome package and parking pass/permit and told me I would receive a text when the room was ready. She did show me on a map where my room would be located (I requested a Downtown Disney view in Congress Park), and also explained to me I could see concierge for assistance with my park tickets. I then went to speak to a concierge Cast Member about my two day base tickets. She was able to assign them to my account, something I wasn’t able to do at home since I didn’t have the physical ticket and the ID associated with said ticket. I asked her to make sure I would be using the two day base ticket and not my 3day park hoppers set aside for December. She informed me to go to Guest Services for help because concierge did not have that access. My friend and I walked over to the gift shop while we waited for the text. I called home to let my father know we arrived in Walt Disney World safely and how hot Florida was. I then called my Broker to discuss the deal I mentioned above, where the contract was, and how they wanted to increase their offer and have it submitted as a last and final, but we were waiting for the pre approval letter from their mortgage agent. She took control of the deal from me so I didn’t have to worry about it while on vacation. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the deal. The owner selected a better offer. Oh well….. The text finally came, maybe 30 minutes after our arrival. I drove over to Congress Park, and up to the room we went. Oh after I parked obviously LOL. I had a one bedroom villa in Saratoga, and the room was up to expectations. The view, however, wasn’t. I asked for Downtown Disney. My view was of trees and the river/canal the boats take to get to DTD I believe. But the view wasn’t terrible and honestly, was fine. We settled in and relaxed for a little while. We then went over to Walmart to get a few things for the room. We picked up breakfast foods and juice for the morning. We had a lot of bottles of eater left over from the drive down, so we kept them in the cooler. My friend filled the cooler with new ice at the Howard Johnson in Manning before we left in the morning. All we did was drain the water from the melted ice from the day before, then put in the new ice. We put our food items away before heading to Downtown Disney. The bus stop was not too far from our room so the walk wasn’t bad. The bus arrived pretty much right away, so no waiting. I was feeling somewhat tired, but pushed on. After all, we were in Disney!!!!! Tradition time: On previous trips, we would go get a sandwich from Earl of Sandwich, return to the hotel, and sit on the balcony and eat. Well, same thing with this trip. Earl of Sandwich, back to room. However, we actually ate inside this time. My friend put on Stacey’s Must Do’s to watch. We hung around in the room for a little while before calling it a night. I know I was exhausted from the drive down, and so was my friend. Plus, we knew we had a very early morning the next day, for we were going to Magic Kingdom, at opening. Next up: July 14th, Magic Kingdom
  11. Monday, July 13, 2015 We woke up at 6:00. My friend hopped into the shower, while I caught a few more minutes of sleep. I showered after my friend. We packed the bags back in the car, making sure we didn’t forget anything. I checked us out at the front desk, then over to Shoney’s for breakfast. Shoney’s is located right next to the hotel. The restaurant was empty, so the waitress sat us quickly. We chose the all you can eat buffet for $5.99. And was it well worth it. We had to eat about $20 worth of food LOL. The idea was to be nice and fueled up for the final leg of the drive. We were pack on the road by 9:00 AM, an hour later than I wanted. But no big deal. I figured we had about 6 hours left, and would be arriving in Walt Disney World by 3:00, though I held out hope of arriving by 2:00 PM. So, on the road we were, heading to Florida after a filling breakfast. In two hours, we would be in Georgia I figured, give or take. We were actually in Georgia by 10:30. Yes, I was able to shave off 30 minutes, otherwise 119 exits would have been close to two hours (one exit a mile, 60 miles an hour, , one exit every minute: that’s how I figure out the times through each state). Made our first stop in Savannah, GA to get gas. My friend had to use the restroom as well. I was finished filling up the tank (third stop for gas), when I noticed my friend hadn’t returned. I waited several more minutes, and still no friend. I sent him a text asking “Did you fall in or something? Seriously, are you OK?†No answer. I was about to go in and look for him when he walked out. He sat in the car, and I asked him “What happened?†He stated that as soon as he exited the restroom, well, let’s just say his stomach decided to play havoc with him. But he felt fine. And maybe a few pounds lighter LOL. Back on the road, driving south. We entered Florida by 11:45. Georgia is only 109 or 110 miles long, so less than two hours. But, with no traffic, and driving the speed limit of 70 Miles Per Hour, I was able to shave off a good 20 minutes from the drive. We have this driving tradition where, once we cross into Florida, we play Disney music. I made several CDs filled with Disney music for this trip. And once we were in Florida, my friend took out a CD and put it into the player. We first listened to music from the animated movie soundtracks. Then we put in a CD I made of all Epcot music. We were just a few miles from the exit to I-4 when my friend needed to use the restroom. I stopped at a rest stop for him, and while there, I called a client I am working with in real estate. They had sent me a text while I was driving, asking about a house we looked at and placed a bid on before I left for Florida. We were given an option of submitting a best and final offer, as the owner contemplated five offers. My client was trying to decide what to do and wanted to know if I knew the other bid amounts. I explained the other agent was not at liberty to reveal the other amounts so I have no idea how high the offers were. After a few minutes of discussion, we decided to up the offer. I told him I was on the highway driving to Florida (though he already knew I was heading out on vacation, but I did tell him I’d see the deal through even though I was away), and I would contact my broker as soon as I was able to. She had offered to work with them while I was on vacation. She had our contract and all the information. He thanked me, I told him either I would or my broker would be in touch, and we hung up. By then, my friend was out of the bathroom, and we were back on the road. My friend was trying to figure out what time we would be in Disney. I said “I bet we are there by 2:00.†He said “No way, we have at least three hours drive from when we crossed into Florida. We crossed at 11:30. We’ll be there by 3:00.†I said, “Never doubt me.†Well, we turned onto I-4 at 1:00. I knew we had about 60 miles to go. That would put us at 2:00. I was also hoping to shave a few extra minutes off the travel time, so I felt we would have been at the hotel before 2:00. However, the state is doing one heck of an improvement project on I-4, so needless to say, traffic slowed in sections of the highway, but never came to a crawl. And we were never sitting in what I deem highway parking lots. Finally, through Orlando and into Lake Buena Vista. The exit to the Crossroads was upon us. I took this exit, as I always do, and entered Walt Disney World property onto Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Traffic wasn’t bad at all, even by Downtown Disney, despite the construction. I turned right off Hotel Plaza Boulevard, and down to Saratoga Springs. WE HAD ARRIVED!!! Oh, and we arrived at 2:05.... five minutes later than I planned. See, I told you I have these states times almost perfectly.
  12. Sunday, July 12, 2015 I don’t fly, so driving it was. Amtrak, which we have taken before and I will be again in December, was too expensive with such late notice. I figured out how many times I’d have to stop for gas and how much a tank would cost. I figured out where we would stop over night (same place as always). I had the drive timed to the minute. The day was finally here. My friend arrived at my house at 8:00 AM. We packed up my car and said our goodbyes to my father, who saw off, making sure we left safely. I realized I forgot something, so I ran home to get it. We stopped at the bank to take out cash for our gas and spending money. We stopped at a store to get two backs of ice for the cooler I bought with me. We filled the cooler with bottles of water and our food for lunch. I checked one last time to make sure we had everything. We left an hour later than I wanted. I was hoping to be on the highway at 8:00 AM. But since my friend arrived at my house at 8, and we had errands to run, I wasn’t out of my town until 9:00 AM. No biggie I said. I just had to recalculate the times I originally counted on. The drive from NJ to Florida usually takes about 16 hours, or 15 hours 35 minutes according to Google. However, I always stop over night, never driving through. The drive was pretty uneventful. I was out of NJ by 10:15 AM and into Maryland by 10:30 AM. I don’t even consider Delaware since that state is so small, 15 minutes to pass through. And the 15 minutes is being generous LOL. My first stop was at the Chesapeake House in Maryland. We stopped to use the rest room, stretch our legs. My friend bought an iced tea, I bought a milk shake. I wanted something cold to keep me alert. Yes, I had cold water, but I desired something else. The milk shake did the trick. We were through Maryland and Washington DC by 12:30, and into Virginia. Here is where the traffic came into play. For some reason, there is always traffic in Virginia. We didn’t hit any in Alexandria, nothing through Washing DC. But, we get closer to Woodbridge, VA, and suddenly traffic. No rhyme or reason for it. No accident or broken down vehicles or construction, nothing. There is no explanation. I was very frustrated, but the traffic was expected. There is ALWAYS traffic in this area. We figured we would use the EZ Pass Express Lanes, but unlucky for us, the lanes were northbound only at that time. Just my luck. My second stop came in Virginia. I filled up my tank with gas; we used the rest room, and ate lunch in my car. The stop lasted, maybe, 20 minutes. I was back on the road. Next stop: North Carolina. We crossed into North Carolina about 4:00, maybe 4:30. Thankfully, I was out of Virginia. No offense to the Virginia residents, but I really hate driving through your state LOL. Anyway, I stopped at the Welcome Center as soon as you cross into North Carolina. I called home to let my father know we were alright. We used the rest room and stretched out our legs. And after about 15 minutes, we were back on the road. Unfortunately, we did hit some traffic in North Carolina, but nothing too bad. There was a bad accident on the northbound side of I-95. A truck must have smashed into a car and through the metal guard rail. The front of the car was smashed. The metal divider was torn apart, The front of the truck had a lot of damage to it to. Emergency vehicles came from behind us on the southbound side of the highway. We were stopped for only a minute as the responders were directed to the scene of the accident. I don't know if anyone was seriously hurt or not as I have been unable to find information about the accident online. We only hope everyone is okay. The next stop didn’t come until South Carolina, more specifically South of the Border. The time was approaching 7:30 at night. Actually, the time was earlier than 7:30, but we’ll just call it 7:30. I knew we were only about one hour away from our destination of Manning, South Carolina, where we would be calling it a night and crashing at one of the hotels we have stayed many times in the past during our drives to Orlando. I filled up my tank with gas (only the second time I had to so far), and off we went. We noticed, up ahead, dark clouds. My friend figured them to be storm clouds. I was hoping they weren’t. The further south we drove, the closer the clouds appeared. They were coming up on us fast. And man, did they look wicked. The sun was setting, and the sky was getting dark. The clouds were only going to make the road darker. Manning, South Carolina was only a few miles away, Exit 119 off I-95, but those few miles felt like an eternity. The exit was right in front of me. I was hoping we would have missed the storm, or at the very least it would wait until we were in the room. But nope, no such luck. The skies opened, and the rain came pouring down. The rain was so heavy I was unable to see in front of me. Luckily, I knew the road and the exit, so I was able to navigate the exit without any issues. I exited I-95, and found myself on Paxville Highway, right where I wanted to be. We arrived around 8:30, only 30 minutes off the mark I originally planned for. The hotel we usually stay at is located on Paxville Highway, not even a mile off the exit. We stayed at the Ramada Inn the first few times we drove. The only time we didn’t stay there was when the hotel was under refurbishment. That year, we stayed at Best Western across the highway. Well, Ramada isn’t there anymore. The hotel is now a Howard Johnson. But that didn’t matter to us. We still decided to stay there. It is an area we are very comfortable with. I checked us in and went to our room. The rain had stopped in that short period of time. We unloaded our bags and entered the room. I called my father to let him know we arrived safely and were settling in for the night. My friend and I took a short walk to Wendy’s which is located right in front of the hotel, on the side of the highway. I ordered a baked potato to go along with the half of sandwich I had left over from lunch. My friend also ordered the baked potato. But he had chili to go along with it. After we ate, we relaxed. My friend put the TV on, but couldn’t find anything to watch. I forgot what we put on, maybe ESPN. I was going to read my Nook, but I was too tired. We crashed for the night. Next up: July 13, 2015
  13. Recently I visited Walt Disney World. The trip was put together pretty quick as I had no plans what so ever ongoing in July. But the past year has not been so good for me. Actually, I have had a rough for years, but the last year has been the worst. I have been out of work since June 2011. I’ve been on many interviews but nothing was ever offered to me. I have applied to thousands of jobs, with the same results: emails that basically said “thanks but no thanksâ€, or an interview which ended with “we are interviewing other possible candidates, and will be in touchâ€, or no return contact at all. Then in August 2014, my mother passed away. Her death was rough on me, I admit. And the last year, with the nonsense (well I call it nonsense, others tell me to let things go because people grieve in different ways) happening here at home, I have felt things taking a toll on me and my sanity. So one day I call my friend and tell him I have had it here at home and need to get away. He asked me if I felt I needed to move away or just disappear for a few days. I told him I just need to disappear for a few days, do things for myself, go some place where I can have fun and forget the nonsense and stress. He asked where I wanted to go. Where? Well, I had no idea, but yet, I did. I really wanted to get to Florida. Yea, I know, I’m going in December. But still. I just had that itch, that desire to get to Orlando. I gave it some thought and told him I have a lot of Disney Vacation Club points for 2015 to use. The points I’m using in December were a carryover from 2014. That sealed that. The decision was made: we were going to go to Orlando for a week. A friend of ours told us not to book a hotel just yet. He was going to check with a friend of his to see if he can get us a room at one of Universal’s Loews Hotels. I was searching the DVC website for hotel availability, while waiting for him to find out from his friend. To my surprise, Saratoga Springs was available, as was BoardWalk. I was shocked to see BoardWalk available since that hotel is insanely popular. Days passed, and needless to say, I couldn’t wait any longer. I talked to my friend who was coming to Orlando with me, and we agreed we should do a split stay, two nights at Saratoga, three nights at BoardWalk. I went ahead and booked a one bedroom at Saratoga Springs, checking in on July 13 and checking out on July 15. I then booked a one bedroom for BoardWalk, checking in on July 15 and checking out on July 18. These hotel reservations were made maybe three weeks prior to check in. We now had to figure out what to do in Orlando for those several days. At first, I had thought, and we had discussed, going to Universal Studios only. Our plans were centering on Universal because, once again, our friend said he would contact his friend (who failed to get us a room) to see what he could do regarding tickets to the Universal theme parks. Minutes turned to hours. Hours turned to days. No tickets. So my friend and I discussed what would make more sense. I told him the price for a two day park hopper for Universal and the price for a two day park hopper for Disney. I mentioned how, with Universal, we’d have to drive over to the theme parks, pay for parking, and drive back to the resort. And we’d have to do that twice. We continued to compare the prices, and started factoring in gas and parking fees for Universal. The more we talked, the more it looked like Disney was winning out. In the end, Disney won out. We felt it was much more convenient for us to use the Disney transportation rather than drive. And pricewise, the two weren’t much different. Now the hard part: do we buy park hoppers or just two day base tickets? I suggested we could probably pull off doing two parks in one day. The first decision we needed to make was which night time show we wanted to see. Illuminations is a must, so that was taken off the table. The choice was between Wishes/Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasmic. Yes, it was a hard choice because I love Fantasmic and the MSEP, but I’m no longer a fan of Wishes. My friend’s mind was pretty made up though. We wanted to see Wishes/MSEP. I didn’t care one way or the other honestly since I’m going back in December, plus I’m getting to see Illuminations. I left the choice to him. Wishes/MSEP was victorious. While discussing park hopping, my friend had a thought. He asked if we really needed to park hop. I told him no, but there was no other way to see all four parks, unless we bought a four day base ticket. He didn’t want to do that. Neither did I. The idea was to keep this trip as inexpensive as possible. The final decision was two day base ticket, and only two parks. We chose Epcot and Magic Kingdom as the parks we wanted to see the most. And like I said, I didn’t really care much, leaving the choice to him as he isn’t coming back in a few months, and may not be back for another year or two. I went online and bought the tickets from Walt Disney World’s website. I added the tickets to my MDE account and assigned the tickets to the proper individuals. I was now able to pick our Fast Pass options. I’m not a fan of this My Magic Plus feature. Sure, many Disney fans like it. I don’t. I am not a fan of picking ride times prior to my visit. However, I have used this feature twice now, and have not had an issue either time. My fast pass choices for Epcot: Soarin, Spaceship Earth, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends. For Magic Kingdom I selected: Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We decided on only Kona Café for breakfast as an ADR, with the thought being we’d eat cheap lunch/dinner at counter service places. I customized our two sets of magic bands. I took the name Voldemort and gave my friend his requested nickname Joe Cool. For Saratoga Springs, I took blue and gave him gray. For BoardWalk, I took gray and gave him blue. Customization was finished, and within two days, the bands were in the mail and at my door step four days later. Our plans were finalized. We were set to go. And we were really impressed with ourselves that we were able to put together a trip to WDW so quickly, with plans changing by the minute. I guess that is what happens when you are WDW veterans. Next up: The Trip.
  14. Greetings friends. The time is drawing near. Spring is in full bloom finally. Summer is right around the corner. What does that mean? The Orlando theme parks begin their advertising and ticket sales for Halloween and Christmas offerings!!!! Can't we get through Spring first? LOL. Well, anyway, I'm finally heading down to Orlando during the Christmas holiday season. I have never been. The closest I came was in 2001, January 2, 2001 to be precise. I got to see some of the decorations. But by time I arrived, the Christmas celebrations were over, and some of the decorations were already removed. This year, however, I will be there while the holiday is being celebrated. I'll be splitting my stay between my home DVC resorts of Saratoga Springs and Bay Lake Tower. I arrive in Orlando on December 11, 2015 and depart December 17, 2015. So no I don't have many days in town. But, I believe the itinerary I put together already gives me the best use of my time. First, though, I would like to share how this trip came to be. On August 13, 2014, my mom passed away. Eight months ago today (as of the day I post this). Honestly, I took it hard. I was close to my mother. I am also a rather emotional person. I can't hide it very well. While at the funeral home, a friend of mine suggested I take my father down to Disney. She thought it would be good for him. I was skeptical at first. I didn't think that was the right time to be thinking about a family vacation, a family vacation we haven't taken since 2001. I went to Orlando with my brother in 2013, but not with the whole family, like we used to. So, anyway, a few days after the funeral, I brought the idea up to my brother and father, suggesting we head to Orlando during the Christmas season. They both agreed. Well, here we are, April 13, 2015. My resort reservations have been made. I have already purchased the tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. And I wrote out an itinerary/schedule of what we could do during the week we are away. My brother and father reviewed the schedule and agreed it was acceptable. We now have to figure out if we are going to drive or take the train. I don't, won't, and can't fly. Long story. Here is the itinerary I have come up with so far: December 10, 2015: Leave New Jersey, either drive or fly December 11, 2015: Arrive in Florida, check into Saratoga Springs Resort. Not sure what we want to do that night just yet. Usually, when I head down with my friend, we would get sandwiches from Earl of Sandwich, come back to the room, sit on the balcony, eat and take in the surroundings. In October 2013, my brother and I went to Epcot. That was because I had received a free 5th day on my 4 day park ticket, but this year, I don't think I need that 5th day free. December 12, 2015: Splitting the day between Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. To me, both of these parks are half day parks. We have already decided we weren't going to spend the whole day at DAK anyway. So I figured, arrive there at 9:00, and with what we want to do, we'll be finished by 12:00, the latest 1:00. Then over to DHS. I'll book the fastpasses for DHS, hit what we want to hit, and then see Fantasmic at night. PLans are for a late lunch or early dinner at 50's Prime Time Cafe. December 13, 2015: Heading over to Universal Studios. Going to buy park hopper tickets so we can ride Hogwarts Express. I'm really excited to see Diagon Alley. I have been to Hogsmeade several times now, but never to Diagon alley, which only opened last year. The plan is to hit Transformers, maybe Minion Mayhem (wait time will determine what we do), Men In Black, and spend the rest of the day exploring Diagon alley. We probably won't hit up the Simpson's ride this time around. Or catch the stage shows. I'd love to see the Macy's parade though. Dinner is being planned for Margaritaville in CityWalk. I wanted to eat lunch at Leaky Cauldron. But my brother likes Mel's. December 14, 2015: Islands of Adventure. I can spend a whole day here, exploring Marvel Super Hero Island, Jurassic Park, and Hogsmeade. We'll probably grab a bite to eat at Three Broomsticks. Maybe Mythos. But I am partial to Three Broomsticks. After Hogsmeade, I want to ride Hogwarts Express back to Universal so I can catch the attraction from both sides. Yes, it is a different experience. Also, I want to catch Grinchmas. Since the parks close rather early in December at Universal, plan is to book T-Rex in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs for dinner. December 15, 2015: We'll be checking out of Saratoga Springs and checking into Bay Lake Tower. We'll be heading over to Magic Kingdom this day. I figured this would be the best time to do MK. Especially since we will be attending MVMCP that evening. I'll be trying to book lunch at Be Our Guest. I ate there in 2013 and thought the place was fantastic. If we get hungry later, there are plenty of quick serve places to grab something. Not worried at all. December 16, 2015: This will be out last full day in town. Plans are for Epcot. I'll be booking breakfast at Kona Cafe (I need my Tonga Toast fix!!!). Then we can hop the monorail to Epcot. Spend the day there, catching Illuminations at night. Dinner will be at Biergaqrten (my favorite restaurant in Epcot). I think ending our time with Illuminations is the best way to end the vacation. December 17, 2015: Leave Florida, again either drive or train. December 18, 2015: Arrive home in the armpit of America, NEW JERSEY. We just need to buy the theme park tickets. For Universal and Disney. Unless, I decide to buy an annual pass again, since I may wind up heading back in 2016. Those plans aren't even close to being in the works. My important dates now: June 18, 2015 I can start booking my dining (and I will). October 16, 2015 I can begin making my FP+ selections. October 16, 2015 I can also being my online check in process, which I will also be doing. December 4, 2015 is the last day I cam customize my Magic Bands. They will be customized long before that though. Thoughts????