Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

For once, I was completely packed and ready to go the night before my trip. Usually, I am running around at the last minute gathering up odds and ends, but luckily, I had everything in order this time. I got about 4 hours of sleep before waking up at 4:15am. My dad arrived at my house at 5:15am, and after feeding the cats and turning down the thermostat, we were out the door. He had a little trouble getting the hatch of his car to close, but we eventually got it to work.

I got to the airport at 6:00am, which is 2 1/2 hours early for my 8:30am flight. But dad needed to be at work by 6:30am, so I opted to be a little early rather than pay the $40 for a cab! When I checked in outside, a lady security guard started to rummage through my bag right there in front of everyone! I was a little shocked that they did that out in front of everyone since I could have easily had something private in my bag that I didn't want sitting on a table out in front of everyone! But luckily she was just looking for shoes (and somehow she honed in on the 6 pack of juice that I had packed as well, despite it being double wrapped in a garbage bag!). Once she was done, I went inside, where I was again scrutinized by security at the checkpoint. They took a long, hard look at my camcorder before deciding that it was, in fact, just a camcorder haha

By 6:15 I was at my gate, but was still really tired from the short night of sleep. So I found a comfy chair with a little table next to it, pulled out my little Land Dog plush, and laid my head down to take a nap. The next thing I knew, it was 7:45! I'd gotten an hour and 15 solid minutes of sleep, which was very refreshing! Soon I was on the plane, and had my window seat on the right side of the plane. I listened to my iPod and read my Japan trip report during the flight, but only got as far as our Parque Espaņa day before it was time to land.

Once we landed, I was starving and knew that dinner wasn't until 6:00pm, so I stopped at my often-visited Au Bon Pain, picked up a mozzarella chicken sandwich, and put it into my bag so I could eat it on the bus. I went to grab my luggage, and my bag was rounding the carousel just as soon as I walked up. From there, I went back to the B terminal and hoofed it all the way to the Magical Express counter.

Thanks to John and Charlotte, I had a seat confirmed for me on a Magical Express bus as their guest (so I wouldn't have to take a Mears shuttle to our hotel, the Hilton Downtown Disney). When I arrived, there was a line to check in, but really, it wasn't all that just filled in one switchback worth of the queue they had set up. But everyone around me was just whining and moaning about how they shouldn't have to be waiting, and how "unmagical" waiting in line is. Um, HELLO! You're going to Disney World! You're going to be doing your fair share of waiting in line while you're there! One lady was even loudly complaining to someone on the phone, and loudly said "I'm just about to say F*** IT and take a cab!!!" I guess she thinks it's worth $75 to not have to wait in line for 15 minutes!! haha

Once I was checked in, I waited in line to board the bus, which again only took about 15 minutes. Still, people were whining all around me, but I just laughed to myself at how dumb they sounded. Soon I was on the bus, and started to chow on my sandwich. It was good, but the chicken was a little dry...would probably have been better had I been able to eat it when it was still warm. I also managed to strike up a conversation with the lady next to me about Tonga Toast and how fabulous it is!

Pretty soon, we arrived at Old Key West, and I got my bag from under the bus. I went to the bell desk to ask if John and Charlotte's room was within walking distance. The man said that he considered it within walking distance, and gave me some rough directions on how to get there. Well, I didn't even make it as far as the flagpole behind the bell stand before I realized that it was *not* walking distance when you are trailing an awkward, heavy suitcase! So I went straight back to the bell stand and asked for a bellman to help me over there. So one of the bellmen put my bag in the back of his little golf cart and drove me (most of the way across the resort!) to John and Charlotte's unit.

When I arrived, the door was open, and John, Charlotte, Don, Laurie, Jan, Mike and Jacie were all inside waiting for me! I got big hugs all around from everyone, and it felt so wonderful to be hanging out with my Disney friends again! After a few minutes, Charlotte asked if I was hungry, and offered up some of her fabulous garlic dip! I really wasn't that hungry, but I had been waiting ALL YEAR for that garlic dip, so of course I took her up on her offer. Like always, it was scrumptious. I also took a moment to give her a little spun glass angel ornament that I had picked up as a thank you for letting me use their DME pickup. In return, she had a little Santa pin for me, and Jan had an ornament for me that was a bell with a snowman sitting on top of it. Too cute!

I spent the better part of 2 hours just hanging out with everyone...the guys got to look at my photo book, I played some tag with Jacie and we all just generally enjoyed each other's company. Soon it was time for Don and Laurie to head out, and they offered to take me over to the Hilton to check in. I thought that was very nice of them, so I grabbed up all my luggage and packed it into their trunk.

Bye Charlotte! See ya later!

When I arrived at the Hilton, check in went very smoothly, which I was glad of so they wouldn't have to wait very long for me. Once I got my keys, I quickly went up to the room, threw down the luggage then put a little bit of curl cream in my hair so I didn't look like such a mess! I headed back down as fast as I could, with the whole process taking only about 10 minutes.

Once I was back in the car, Don and Laurie drove us all to the TTC since they were headed to the Magic Kingdom and I was headed to Epcot. I thanked them profusely for giving me the ride since my only other option was to wait for Kevin to arrive well after midnight! Once at the monorail platform, I grabbed the first Epcot monorail that came by, and was on my way. At Epcot, there was no significant line to enter the park, and like always, I made my annual visit to my Leave a Legacy tile.

I still had about an hour before I had to meet John, Charlotte, Tracy and Jack for dinner in Japan, so I decided to ride Spaceship Earth while I was there. There was no wait, and when I was asked to select a language, I selected Japanese just so I could hear what the soundtrack sounded like. It was pretty cool! It was a happy sounding woman's voice, and all the questions at the end were in Japanese (which meant that I had to just guess at what I was answering!). It was an interesting ride though. I wish I had gotten to ride it again and listen to the Spanish soundtrack, but I didn't get around to it again.

Since it was getting a little closer to dinner time, I decided to go ahead and start the walk back to Japan. I opted to go around toward Mexico, and when I passed the margarita stand, it called my name! So I ended up with a lime margarita...mmm...a great way to start off my trip!

A boat in the Mexico pavilion

As I walked, I decided to stop in the China pavilion and do a little browsing. I didn't end up buying anything, but I always like looking at their stuff. As I was leaving, the Chinese acrobats were about to perform, so I paused to watch them. They are always incredible!

But my favorite was a young girl who was balancing stuff on her feet. It started out as a jug, and then she moved on to balancing a table! The most amazing part was when she flipped the table over onto its edge and started flipping it around as though she was running on it! Crazy!

When the show was over, I made my way to Japan. I called Charlotte along the way, and she said that everyone was waiting at the base of the pagoda for me. When I arrived, I got hugs from Tracy and Jack, and chatted about the recent passing of Jack's uncle until it was time to be seated. My margarita was gone by that point, and I had no trouble walking up the stairs this time (unlike one other time when I had drank a margarita before eating in Japan, and practically had to crawl up the stairs!).

When we checked in, we didn't have much wait, but were given a pager anyway. I sat down next to John and showed him a picture of my new tattoo, declaring that I was now in the "tattoo club." After a lot of chatting and just generally enjoying each other's company, we were seated.

John and Charlotte in Tokyo Dining

Jack and Tracy, ready for some sushi!

Last year when I ate at Tokyo Dining, I had the best sushi I'd ever eaten...the spicy tuna crunch roll. It was so delicious! So that's what I ordered, as well as a rainbow roll. Everyone else got big platters of all kinds of tempura, sushi and salads, all of which looked delicious! Mine was fabulous, as expected. When it was time for dessert, everyone took a taste of everyone else's dessert. Charlotte had gotten a ginger cake that was good, John had gotten ice cream, and Jack had gotten some sort of thing that was almost like green tea flan. I wasn't too fond of that one! But the cake was great!

As we left, John and Charlotte wanted a smoke break, so we all just stopped in the smoking area so we wouldn't split up. After hanging around well past when the cigarettes were out, everyone decided to call it a night. We walked out to International Gateway together, where Tracy and Jack headed off to the front of the park to grab a bus. My plan was to take a bus to Downtown Disney so I could walk back to the Hilton from there, so I walked out to the Beach Club bus stop with John and Charlotte. We said our goodbyes once I was at the bus stop, and I ended up waiting well over half an hour for a bus to Downtown Disney! At one point, a full bus pulled up that was marked for Downtown Disney, but obviously none of us could get on it! Eventually one came, and I was able to get on without further delay.

Once I was at the Downtown Disney bus stop, I decided to pop my head into Once Upon a Toy since it was directly next to the crossing that I needed to take to get over to my hotel. Alas, there were still no new Mr. Potato Head parts, which is sad for an avid Mr. Potato Head collector like me. Once I realized that there were no new parts, I made my way quickly out the back of the store, and made my way over to the Hilton.

Our room in the Hilton Downtown Disney

When I arrived, I realized that I was just in time for the new American Chopper episode! That made me quite happy :-) I leisurely unpacked my bags and stashed my luggage and jackets in the closet before settling down for some quiet, "do nothing" time. I finished watching American Chopper, and then watched a show about BBQ competitions. Meh. After a while, I decided to hit the hay since I was probably going to have an early morning the next day.

After about half an hour of blissful sleep, my phone rang. It was Kevin saying that he had arrived in Orlando and that she should be getting to the hotel about an hour from then. So I went back to sleep, only to be woken up again about 20 minutes later by Kevin frantically calling to tell me that he didn't have his driver's license, so he wasn't able to get his rental car! D'oh! After a few minutes of back and forth trying to figure out what to do, we decided that he would take a hotel shuttle to the hotel that night, and that he would call the reservations center the next morning to see if the reservation could be changed into my name so I could pick up the car at the nearby Doubletree Hotel on Hotel Plaza Blvd.

With that settled for the moment, I tried to go back to sleep, but had to end up calling housekeeping for a firmer pillow since the only ones on the bed were like marshmallows and offered no support. Once I had two new pillows, I went back to sleep, and was woken back up when Kevin arrived shortly after 1:00am. He'd ended up taking a Mears shuttle to the hotel, and was going to call the reservations center as soon as he could the next morning. After catching up for just a few minutes, I was asleep again.

Go to RADP 14 - DAY 2
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