Disney Vacation 2007 Trip

Chris and I were lucky enough to be able to sneak away for a handful of days to our favorite inexpensive and instant -sunshine vacation-Orlando,Florida. For six sun drenched days we partied it up at the Happiest Place on Earth. And we only ran into a couple of obnoxious southerners this time! We stayed at the All Star Movies resort, a value resort –pretty much it is a room and a public pool and a giant cafeteria—lots of families go there—it’s cute and cheap—so you kinda hafta take it at face value. Apparently there was some big dance competition and a lot of the teams were staying there. Down side: lots of obnoxious giggling teenage girl. Plus side: it sure beat the cheerleaders! One funny snippet was that we overheard some girls talking on the bus later that week that they had won the national championship. Some college guys were trying to flirt with them so they asked one of the girls what they are judged by in the competition. The girl’s oh so intelligent response was “like, by how able you are to dance”.

Our flight was decent w/Southwest—quick and pretty smooth, but the plane was chock full so it gave one the feeling of being a cramped and sweaty sardine.

Most of our vacation was spent reading out in the sun, most days hit low 60’s to high 70’s—not too bad–”cold” for native Floridians but just fine for us Northeasterners! Chris struggled through the final Harry Potter installation before the up and coming finale, and was pretty much cursing JK Rowling for such addictive and depressing reading! I spent most of my time doing crosswords and laughing with Augusten Burroughs (read him!!!). We took several long walks and spent a day exploring Fort Wilderness and our favorite little private beach there, Clementine Beach. We also spent a night walking around Coronado Springs, which looks like a walk downtown in a beautiful Southwestern city.

We only went to the theme parks for one day, because the park hopper passes we bought a couple of years back still had some days on them. We went to Epcot to look up our picture that we had put on the “Leave a Legacy” wall last time we came. (see photos). We got to ride “Soarin’” which was amazing! We had to pick up an Early Fast Pass, because lines are insane (an hour plus wait) and fast passes (which allow you to skip the lines) go out in minutes! It was definitely worth it, as it felt like you were really hang-gliding over the Everglades. You could even “smell” the oranges in an orange grove and feel the sea breeze on your feet! Way cool!

Although returning to 2 degree weather wasn’t fun, it was nice to have a little get away at one of our favorite places.

Most of Florida’s food, as you know from previous posts, consists of masses of fried chicken wings and all you can eat meat buffets. However, even poor vegetarians like us were able to scramble and find some good things to eat. To digress off of the “healthy eating” tangent for a second, however, I must say that Hotties donuts are arguably the best donuts ever!!! We went 3 times, but we DID walk a few miles each way, so technically we were being good ….about being bad. Speaking about being bad…I don’t mean to sound rude to say this but there were certainly a lot of people in Florida who look like they have had a little too much fun at the all you can eat buffets. The “turkey neck” and bubble-front trend was in style there it seemed. Sadly it’s due to all the deep fried fast food at every corner.

The resorts themselves have fewer options for vegetarians, the food at All Star is very unremarkable so we avoided that as much as possible(aside from “Mickey waffles” now and then for breakfast and ice cream sundaes at night). Here is a breakdown/rating list of our food experiences:

  1. All Star Resorts—2 stars for their regular fare, 3.5 for dessert…because you pretty much can’t screw up ice cream. Overpriced and unremarkable, only good if you’re in a hurry and have nowhere else to go. Their “veggie” burgers were dry and weren’t even advertised on the menu.
  2. Seasons at Epcot_4 stars for a resort. We were amazed at the array of foods offered, and how healthy and good it really was! We were surprised to see unique menu items such as Warmed Beet and Goat Cheese salad, but it was extremely good! We had an unusual breakfast there consisting of oatmeal, a cinnamon bun and some sushi (I know a weird combo but it was good I swear!). There were several vegetarian and kosher options, and none of it looked like it was prepackaged or left sitting out too long.
  3. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe-3 stars, because they do have really good veggie burgers and a whole bunch of stuff, like hot peppers and mushrooms—that you can put on them.
  4. Earl of Sandwich—located at downtown Disney. A good sandwich joint that makes great Earl Grey tea lemonade and iced tea. You usually wait forever in line but their sandwiches and salads are usually worth it. We love the Caprese salad with mozarrella and basil. 3.5 stars
  5. Ghirardelli’s—it’s chocolate, it’s ice cream, it’s “iced mochas”. Need I say more? 3.5 stars
  6. Wetzel’s Pretzels-3 stars. It’s pretzels, what more can you ask for?

“Off-resort” food:

    • Chevy’s—a chain of mexican restaurants down South, this is better than “Chili’s” and certainly beats “Taco Bell”. They make homemade salsa and guacamole on premises, and their food is usually fresh and unique. The waitstaff are very friendly too! 3.5-4 stars for a chain.
    • Hotties Donuts—you have to love a donut chain that offers pb&j donuts, chocolate peanut butter filled ones, and lucky charms-topped ones! They are seriously good, and they don’t use trans fats either. As I will quote the owner, “these donuts are the most fun you can have with your clothes on”. 5 stars
    • Perkins-2 stars. We waited a half hour to be seated and endured a crabby waitress for some sub-par coffee and food. Not worth it.
    • India Palace-4 stars. Unfortunately it’s location and audience makes it not much of a popular place, but we certainly find the homemade baighan bharta dozens of times more appealing than the “all you can eat greasy pizza” buffet next door. Plus, the owners always recognize us and are very friendly!

Disney 2004 Trip (January 13-January 17)

Okay, so YET AGAIN Christopher Arnini is the SNEAKIEST person in the world! We had made plans to take the week of Jan 9-18 th off. On Tuesday morning we packed our bags to go visit my sister in Stamford , CT for a few days (or so I thought). As we drove past the CT border and headed south on 91, we turned off an exit and few minutes later, Chris handed me an envelope and told me to open it. When I looked inside my jaw dropped. In it were two plane tickets to Florida ! “Happy Birthday, honey!” he said. As I gawked speechlessly for about 20 minutes, Chris pulled in to Bradley airport and began taking luggage out of the back seat. He had packed summer clothes and snuck them in the trunk! “What about my sister?” I asked. He of course had been planning this trip for a while and even my sis was in on it. I was so surprised I couldn’t even think straight. Chris’ Dad met us at the airport to say goodbye. It was very sweet of him. Our flight down was excellent. We flew with Southwest, and I have to say it was the smoothest, most comfortable flight I’ve ever taken. We even got to Orlando a little early. Getting off the plane was such a welcome change. In Vermont , temperatures were reaching 45 below. Here, it barely went under 70. We had sunshine every day and couldn’t get enough of it. Chris had reserved a hotel room for us at the Lake Buena Vista Resort owned by Best Western, which was conveniently close to everything so we didn’t even need to rent a car. We just walked everywhere in the sun together (ah.). We had so much fun on our trip. The first night we walked to downtown Disney for our beloved Ghirardelli iced mochas. They are to die for. The next day we had breakfast at the hotel, which was mediocre. At least they served lots of fresh fruit and had make your own mickey waffles (hee hee), but the rest left something to be desired. We spent the day walking around town and looking at shops. Anyone who knows our favorite cheap place to eat knows we love Wendy’s! We always go there to order Frosties, baked potatoes and side salads (the only vegetarian choice!). So, silly us, we had a craving that afternoon for Wendy’s. Little did we know the nearest one was about 4 miles away. By chance we were walking around and saw the sign far in the distance-so we made the trek over there! I know it’s pretty pathetic, but we had to have our Frosties. At least we had a good walk and earned them.We had lots of fun bus hopping to different Disney resorts to see what they were like. Our definite favorites so far have been Coronado Springs (we had some great drinks there and it’s so beautiful to walk there at night, like being in the Southwest), Wilderness Lodge (there is a river running through the middle of the lobby!), and Caribbean Beach (it reminded us of St.John’s a little). We also checked out the new Pop Century resort and were impressed! There are five different “decades” that people can stay at (50’s through the 90’s) and at each of those decades where nostalgic items like statues of old toys, popular albums and sayings of the time, and fun facts about the era. It was very cute. We also went back to the resort we stayed at the first time we went to Disney-the All Star Movie resort-and got cherry cokes to walk around with and reminisce.

Thursday was the best day of all. We went to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot for my birthday, just like we did 2 years ago (Wow! Can’t believe how time has flown.). Of course we had to ride our favorite rides a few times in a row. We’re suckers for the Haunted Mansion (oooh-scary!) and the Pirates of the Caribbean (Chris was a pirate in a past life-arrggh! “Dead men tell no tales.”). Chris bought himself another pirate hat and we even got our pics taken with Captain Hook! When Chris went to go to the bathroom later on in the day, Captain Hook found me and put his arms around me. When Chris came back Captain Hook got jealous and shook his hook at him! It was so cute.

We took the monorail over to Epcot later on in the day, and went on Spaceship Earth twice (one of our favorite Epcot rides, we went at least 5 times the last time we went!), Test Track (yaaaaaaah!!!!), and Ellen’s Energy Adventure (with Ellen Degeneres, it’s very funny). We wandered over to the World Showcase to go to Morocco where they have a great veggie platter and Tangerine tropical drinks.

We basically tried to relive that wonderful day 2 years ago.

We spotted Victoria Gardens , the wonderful place where Chris proposed. Being back there I remembered how I felt that day, and it brought tears to my eyes. We sat down on a bench by the waterfall. Chris went down on one knee like he had done on that day, and said “Kathleen, you know I love you.will you marry me? You don’t have to say yes”. He said he was so nervous that day that he said that last part just in case. I felt like we got engaged all over again. I’m so glad we took pictures this time because that place is often in my mind, I was so happy to see it again!

Chris’ surprise made my birthday so magical. The rest of the evening we had fun wandering around the World Showcase, riding the Mexican Boat ride, El Rio del Tiempo (“hola me amigos, it’s fiesta time for you.la la la la la” (that song will not leave your head!), visiting Norway (“you are not de first to pass this vay.”),eating dinner at the same place we did when he proposed, having crepes in France, shopping for cheap things in China, and drinking Viking coffees (which really is just a bunch of liquors with a splash of coffee for flavor) as the Epcot fireworks dazzled the sky. Wonderful didn’t even begin to explain it.

The rest of the vacation flew by, as vacations always do. We had some funny adventures. First was my sprained foot. I’m not sure what I did to my foot but I had to limp practically everywhere we went for a couple days, and I looked like an old lady. Chris had to put his arms around me to help me stay up! Next was people watching. We met some.um, interesting.folks out there. We spotted several mullet heads, tried as best we could to dodge bands of screaming cheerleaders (they were there for a competition on the day we left-thank goodness we left when we did!), and encountered a waitress at a breakfast place with quite a few missing teeth. We of course had to visit several cheap discount stores while we were there (you know , the “10 t-shirts for 5 dollars” places) just for amusement. Then of course there was the liquor store/Italian restaurant, the name says it all.

One Indian restaurant, India Palace , had become a favorite of ours on our last visit. We of course had to visit it several times for the lunch buffet! They are so nice there and the food is inexpensive and amazing. We were very entertained by the owner’s grandaugher, an adorable little girl named “Ashi” who took a liking to us. She was our little hostess, showing us toys and asking us to play with her. She spoke two Indian dialects as well as English, but her 3 year old mind couldn’t tell that we didn’t know Indian, so she would often say things in another language to us! She made us laugh, and we miss her!

Going back home was of course depressing, but I have so many happy memories of going there. I still can’t believe we went! I had no idea!

I can’t even explain how it felt to be back there. I was so happy I felt like my heart could have burst. Christopher is the best, sneakiest hubby there is, and I love him so!! Now it’s MY turn to surprise HIM.

Disney Vacation 2006 Trip (Labor Day Extended Weekend)

This Labor day weekend, Chris and I decided to once again be adventurous souls and book a cheap, quick trip to Disney. Did I mention that it was hurricane season too? We flew Southwest again and were pleased with the flight—although the weather accounted for a bit of a bumpy ride. When we landed, we lucked out because there was a heavy thunderstorm beginning, and all of the flights that landed after us were circling the landing field because they didn’t want to land when there was lightning. And all other flights at the airport were getting delayed.

We soon discovered that these thunderstorms were the norm, and that around the same time each day there would be these storms and then things would perfectly clear up soon after. The rain was welcome though, as the weather was scorching, with a heat index of up to 115 degrees daily!!! Yow!

We stayed at the inexpensive All-Star Music Resort, which suited us just fine as we didn’t plan on staying in our hotel rooms for too long. Our room was small but comfy and there were several pools around, including a guitar-shaped one! The rooms were air-conditioned too, a BIG plus and a huge necessity in Florida!

Because we are masochists as well as exercise enthusisasts, we clocked a minimum of 17,000 steps daily, and up to 30,000 steps (almost 10 miles!) one day, despite the overwhelming heat. Thanks to the power of air-conditioned hideaways and Earl Grey Iced Tea at the “Earl of Sandwich” in Downtown Disney!

Day two consisted of a marathon walk in the heat to an amazing donut place called Hottie’s Donuts. For anyone who doesn’t believe a donut is worth it—Hottie’s specializes in amazing gourmet donuts that they make right on the premises. I ordered a chocolate peanut butter crunch one, and Chris had a boston Creme. The owner let us sample one of his new donuts, and we spotted some silly flavors—one of them being a Lucky Charms covered donut! (must’ve been the “college kid” special….). We earned our calories that day!

The next day we took a bus over to the Wilderness Lodge resort and hung out on our favorite little private beach, Clementine beach. Aside from the honk of the ferry (which bused visitors over to the magic kingdom), and the babble of a few voices, the beach was as quiet as can be…the perfect spot for a relaxing nap in the shade.

On Sunday we ventured out to the Magic Kingdom for a day of fun! It was busy, but not nearly as busy as other times, and we were happily able to FINALLY go on the Peter Pan ride, one we had always run into long lines on, and haven’t gone on in several years! We felt like giddy kids; our day was made. Of course we also had to ride the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World.

The ride that had the longest line that day was the Pirates of the Caribbean. Apparently, they had recently renovated the ride to include scenes and characters from the new movies. At first Chris and I were irate—how dare they mess with a classic! But we just HAD to see what they did. So we waited over 40 minutes in line, and we have to say, they didn’t mess with the original too badly. Most of the old favorite scenes and characters were still there, but the beginning waterfall now featured a holographic image of Davey Jones, and the village scene included a few scenes of Jack Sparrow—the character they had created was an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp, in mannerism and appearance, it was wild!

We then hopped the monorail over to Epcot and meanered around, making sure to ride Spaceship Earth (an Epcot staple!) a few times and hit the Maelstrom and El Rio de Tiempo. We attempted to hang around in France for a little while too to prepare for our France trip :).

We had our favorite vegetarian lunch at the Tangerine Cafe but were dissapointed to find that they no longer served the Tangerine Dream drinks we always enjoyed! 😦

After spending a few hours (and gettng a bit tired walking in the heat!), we headed back to the Magic Kindgom and had veggie burgers at Cosmis Ray’s. Overall it was a fun day, but we ended up being too tired to stay for the fireworks, which was all as well because it began to rain.

Monday’s heat lead us to the decision that a day at the waterpark—Blizzard Beach-was in order. It was our first time at the park, and we had a pleasant day riding in the lazy river and exploring. We chickened out on riding the world’s longest and fastest waterslide-but ended up taking the ride next to it, which was about half the height-that was about as far as we could go. We enjoued getting cooled off and getting a stair workout at the same time!

Tuesday (our last day) came far too soon. We spent the morning taking pictures and doing my favorite pasttime (shopping!) where we got some ornaments to commemorate our experience—a yearly tradition. We had sundaes at Ghirardelli’s and then headed back to our hotel, where we took a Southwest flight home to a significantly cooler Connecticut. Overall, we spent a great Labor Day weekend there and hope to do it again!

Disney Vacation 2006 Trip (January 12-January 19)


On Jan. 12th we left for our 3rd vacation(together) to Florida for a week of fun and sun.
The flight down was relatively smooth except for a few weather related bumps—we arrived 40 minutes early though!
We stayed at the Pop Century resort in the “90’s music” area, a resort which is fairly new to disney.
Overall, Pop Century was a decent place to stay. It had nice rooms, 3 heated outdoor pools and a large accomodating common area with an enormous cafeteria, a store (of course!) and an arcade. (Chris, the big kid that he is, spent a lot of time playing one of his old favorite games, “Centipede” there. Maybe a little TOO much time :)….)
The only dissapointing thing about Pop Century was transportation. Many of the other resorts have several buses going to and from each attraction at Disney—example one for Epcot, one for the Magic Kingdom, etc…Pop Century seemed to have limited buses running to and from the attractions and therefore it was a long time to wait in between buses. Other than that Pop Century was a cute place to stay at a decent price!

Our first evening we had dinner at Downtown Disney at a place called the Earl of Sandwich. Their sandwiches and salads were surprisingly fresh and very reasonably priced for disney! We had a good dinner there after first having our favorite iced mochas at ghirardelli’s (good iced coffee+good chocolate=iced mocha heaven!). That night we went to see “Aeon Flux” at the downtown theater. In Chris’ eyes, it could have been a silent film and still been wonderful due to Charlize Theron’s wardrobe (or lack of!). He believes that the Oscar for hottest body should be given out to her 🙂 Ah well, you gotta let a guy dream once in a while!

Friday we started calculating just how many steps it takes to get to the places we usually walk to at Disney. We brought a pedometer just to see how much mileage we were clocking in by not taking a taxi to get from place to place. We were very surpised! Here is our list of usual places we walked to and the steps they accrued (this is pure geekiness, I know:) All steps are one way calculations:
Perkins restaurant—2500 steps
Indian food restaurant-6500 steps
Wendy’s-4500 steps
WaffleHouse/GiftLand-3500 steps

Seeing that we made several trips to some of these places in a given day, we really racked up the miles! We went to India Palace’s vegetarian lunch buffet on 3 days, burning off the calories in just that walk I think! We averaged 15000 steps/day.

On my birthday we walked 30,000 steps just at Epcot alone! That was 15 miles.And boy our feet were tired the next day to prove it :).

Friday and Saturday we kind of “chilled out”, walking around and enjoying the sun, catching up on reading and drinking frozen cokes (with rum).

Sunday was my birthday and the anniversary of our engagement, so we decided, same as the last time we went, to re-enact the day as much as possible by visiting the same places, even eating the same foods. In the morning we had giant cinnamon buns (see pics to believe how big!), and walked around the Magic Kingdom.
It was more crowed than usual around this time that we usually visit, mostly due to the “50th anniversary celebration” that was going on. But we were still able to ride on most of our old faves—the Haunted Mansion (“come baaaa—-aaack!”), the Pirates of the Caribbean (“Arrgggggh”!), and It’s a Small World. We could not for the life of us get on the Peter Pan ride. Lines for that, as well as a few other rides, were too long to even bother.
Later that afternoon we hopped the Monorail over to Epcot to continue the rest of our engagement day. To our dissapointment, there was an enormous religious conference going on and thousands of people from “Faith in 3d” were there. Epcot should have mentioned the conference because the lines to EVERYTHING were extra long and we were lost in a sea of red and white t-shirts. They made the line to Moroccan food in the World Showcase impossible to wait in—and that is where we went to lunch on our engagment day, AND the only place to get a really good vegetarian meal at Epcot. So needless to say we were a little miffed at them! But we waited a couple of hours and the line died down a little enough for us to get in.
The most dissapointing aspect of our day was when we went to Victoria Garden (where Chris proposed to me!) and we realized that the bench on which Chris proposed was no longer there! There were smaller wooden benches placed here and there in the garden but none like the original bench—and there was no space to sit down anyway! We did take a pic of ourselves in the garden and re-enacted the engagement anyway :).
We rode a few of our favorite tried and true Epcot rides—Spaceship Earth (3 times!), El Rio Del Tiempo, and later on when lines died down, Maelstrom in the Norway area.
Test Track was closed and we could not get on “Soarin”-the newest ride at Epcot that simulates hang gliding—we were of course dissapointed about that too!
For dinner we went to get our usual veggie burgers and fries at the Electric Umbrella, only to find they were no longer serving veggie burgers but veggie chili instead. 😦
Much later on that night we had Norweigian coffees and watched the fireworks. Overall, despite the dissapointments, it was still a magical birthday and anniversary of our engagement. After the fireworks, a little kid said to his mom, “Mom, did the fireworks shoot the earth down?”. 🙂

Monday we walked to Perkins for breakfast and took a bus from Downtown Disney to the Fort Wilderness resort, the farthest resort from the rest of the disney resorts. It really is the closest to the wilderness; nice and quiet and beautiful. There was a wonderful small beach there called Clementine Beach, which we relaxed on for several hours. There were less than 8 people on the beach (including us!) the entire time. We also were suprised to see a Ferry boat stopping and taking people from the beach over to the Magic Kingdom. We took the Ferry to go there so we could then hop a Pop Century bus back to the resort from there.

Tuesday we spent most of the day at MGM studios, the smallest of the “Main 4″ parks. We went on my personal fave, the” Muppet 3d adventure” and saw, for the first time the “Indiana Jones stunt spectacular”-which was made hilarious by the few “extras” they took from the audience, and the “Lights, Motors, Action!” stunt show, which was very impressive. To be perfectly truthful, aside from a few good rides and shows, there really isn’t much to MGM. It’s not a big enough park to spend an entire day at. So after a couple of hours we hopped a bus over to the Magic Kindgom, and there we went on the Haunted Mansion again (the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was broken), and watched the anniversary fireworks, which were beautiful. They even had veggie burgers at the Cosmic Ray restaurant which were very good. On the bus ride home, a cute little Asian girl was talking to the woman next to her about her day—she went on and on about how she met with the princesses and saw Mickey, etc…it was very cute!

Wednesday was our last full day so of course we were getting a little depressed. We spent the day walking and enjoying the sunshin. We had indian food for lunch, delivered some of our clothes home via the post office ( in order to fit our souvenirs in!) and went to see “The Producers” at the movies that night, which was hilarious (we still can’t stop singing the songs!). We ended the night with our usual snack of a giant ice cream sundae back at Pop Century!

Thursday morning we spent moping, packing, and enjoying the sun. We had one last iced mocha at downtown disney and said goodbye to sunny Florida. Our plane ride home was very smooth and it was good to be back home to see the kitties. We had some great memories on our trip, which will keep us warm through the rest of this winter!

Cute tidbits from our trip:

  • Chris would often mistakenly swipe his ATM card in our room door instead of the key card!
  • # of Ice cream sundaes eaten=5
  • Chris’ highest Centipede game score-58000. # of times he PLAYED Centipede-about 30

Chris and I have decided to do separate write ups of the food we ate and movies we saw while we were there, giving each a rating of one to 5 broomsticks. After doing a bunch of thinking about making our own little Disney site with ratings and call it “disney geek’s”, or something to that effect we did, click here for the beginnings of our site! The food ratings have two broomstick ratings, one for value and one for quality:

MOVIES seen:

  1. Aeon Flux: Chris gives it 5 because, well, Charlize Theron is in it. Need I say more? An okay action flick with some interesting fight scenes. But really it’s all about the booty!
  2. Hoodwinked: A very funny movie that both kids and adults would laugh at. Has a line up of famous voices (John Belushi, Glen Close…even Xibit!) in a fairytale “whodunit” type film. Well written!
  3. The Producers: Nathan Lane deserves an Oscar for his hilarious performance. Makes you want to see the Broadway performance when Lane and Broderick were on! Overall a hilarious movie, especially if you are a Mel Brooks fan. Neither of us are huge Broadway musicals fans, but this one doesn’t even seem like one, and the songs are a riot (we’re still catching ourselves singing such ditties as “The Guten tag Hop Clop”). A must-see.
  4. Brokeback Mountain-Worthy of an Oscar. An excellent, touching film that is about way more than the relationship between 2 cowboys.

FOOD, Drinks and other reviews

Disney January 2002, engagement too!

Our first Christmas/Solstice together, Christopher gave me a surprising but unforgettable gift. We were still somewhat “new” (had been dating a little less than a year) and were nervous about swapping gifts, each hoping the other one liked it (and would be around to celebrate NEXT Christmas!). I compiled a poetry book for him and bought him a game, he told me he had a surprise for me. (If you haven’t noticed already, he is definitely the “surprise” man!!!) Under the tree was an enormous package. I opened it, and it was luggage. Silly, naive me, I thought THAT was the surprise! Since I didn’t have a proper suitcase, I used to always visit Chris bringing tons of grocery bags and a full backpack of stuff, looking like a bad lady instead of his girlfriend. So I was psyched to actually have something to travel in! He said “look inside, silly”. Inside the main compartment was a book about Walt Disney World. “Okay, cool”, I thought. “Look inside t hat silly!”, Chris said. Inside that were two tickets to Disney! That was the real surprise. I was so excited, I had never been before.

After the holidays, on January 5 th , we packed our bags (and thank goodness I had new luggage because I packed everything but the kitchen sink) to leave for Orlando .

We arrived later that day in sunny Florida at the All-Star resort, where we would stay a full two weeks. The All-Star resort is an adorable, fun resort owned by Disney and has 3 different themes under which people can stay-Movies, Music and Sports. In each theme there are several different section that a person can stay at, and these are decorated with themes related to the suite. We stayed at the Mighty Ducks section of the Movie portion. Each morning we woke up in Mighty Ducks sheets and went outside to pass a giant Hockey mask and a pool designed like a hockey arena. We bought commemorative mugs at the cafeteria and were entitled to free drinks with them our whole stay there, so we filled up on coffee and cherry coke as often as we could, and always before going out! (Chris still teases me about the day I experimented with soda concoctions there-orange soda, diet coke, sprite and cherry coke-I was trying to be “adventurous”, but needless to say, it was disgusting).

We enjoyed staying at All-Star. The best part about it was that there were shuttles to go to the major theme parks operating at all hours. Because our visit was out of season we didn’t have to worry about waiting too long to catch a ride. But as a backup, and to just drive around where we pleased, we rented a car for the stay too.

Each day we did something new. We bought park-hopper passes, which allowed us to visit all 4 Disney Parks and 2 water parks. First, we hopped over to Animal Kingdom. It was a relatively sunny day with a chance of rain, but we weren’t worried about it. It was the first time both of us had been to the newest addition to the Disney parks (at least, the newest addition at the time WE visited there). We were impressed by the bright jungle-like atmosphere and the fact they had an actual animal sanctuary there! We would highly recommend the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.I personally have never been that close to lions, giraffes, and hippopotamuses. It was incredible.

I always seem to be the person on water rides who ends up being in the seat that gets you splashed the most. Kali River Rapids was no exception. I got soaked. Ironically, when I got off the ride, it started to rain. Oh well!

Later, we hopped over to MGM studios where we saw some interesting exhibits about Walt Disney (it was the 100 th anniversary of Walt Disney), and saw one of our all-time favorites, Muppet 3-D adventure! How can you not smile when you’re in a theater with fozzy bear and Kermie? Of course, the quips from the cranky old men (you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones from the Muppets who act like the critics of the show) made it priceless. (“How did we get here? Oh yeah, we entered a contest.and we LOST!!” Har de har) Next we went on to.the Tower of Terror . Now I have to admit, when it comes to rides that involve falling from heights, I am a total chicken. But friends who had been on it before had told me it was only 2 quick drops, it was over before you knew it. So Kris and I decided to be brave and thought “why not?. The ride had the eery atmosphere of an elevator ride from the Twilight Zone. The bellhop had a laugh that just prickled the hairs on your head. The whole time we were going up we kept consoling each other, “it’s only 2 drops, don’t worry.”When we got to the top, suddenly we heard a noise that sounded like pins coming loose. We then proceeded to fall at a frightening speed, and I admit I screamed like a little kid. The second time we went up only half way and dropped quickly again. I let out a sigh of relief when we hit ground. I was then surprised to find that we were going up AGAIN, this time ALL the WAY. Kris and I exchanged “Oh my Gods” and realized that the elevator doors were opening, allowing us to view the entire park at a distance too far too mention. We dropped again, and rose AGAIN to fall another time. Needless to say when the ride was over I was very, very relieved. But of course the dangerous rebels had come out of us then, and we were like “that was so cool! We gotta do it again sometime!”

There were days that we didn’t go to parks at all, just lounged by the pool reading books and sipping cherry cokes. Those were a lot of fun too. Some days we went exploring the other resorts, just to see where we’d like to go next time. We went mini golfing at the Dolphin resort (and I kicked Kris’ butt!!), and spent one day at a water park, Typhoon Lagoon.

A family from England was getting ready to leave one afternoon and was kind enough to give us the remainder of their passes to Universal Studio. We weren’t planning on going but we were glad they gave us the tickets because we were very impressed! Universal was slightly less commercial than Disney and seemingly more adult-centered. We walked along a number of different “sets”, and at each set there were different rides. The themes flowed into each other well, and there was different music played all over the park to match the different “sets”. Our faves were Terminator 3-D, Men in Black, and the Wild West live stunt show. There was also a really cool exhibit about I Love Lucy, with a woman who did an extremely convincing impersonation of Lucille Ball. There was so much to see at Universal, next time we go we hope to get a pass for a couple more days there.

One afternoon we visited Sea World, looking at manatees, riding paddle boats and looking at dolphins. The dolphins were so funny, I took a picture of one of them and it looked like it was posing to smile at us for sure. As far as going out to eat in the evenings and afternoons, most days we would go to India Palace as soon as it opened for the lunch buffet (yummy yummy and cheap too!) and would hit Wendy’s at night (we gotta have our Frosties).

Epcot was the park we frequented most. Not only was there a wide array of food and shops at the World Showcase, but visiting each place gave you a little taste of what it might be like to live in those countries. For food, our favorite “countries” to visit where Morocco (for there vegetarian platter and tangerine drinks), France (pour les crepes!), and Mexico (for obvious reasons.who doesn’t like burritos?). We also had favorite rides-Norways “Maelstrom” (“You are not the first to pass this vay.”, Mexico’s “El Rio del Tiempo” (go there, you will know what we mean about it being an addictive little ride), and of course, as far as the entire park went, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, and the Land (Kris, the lover of all things gardening, of course loves the garden tours there!). We also enjoyed Ellen’s Energy Adventure and the Living Seas .

Now of course, the BEST day at Epcot was my Birthday. I purposely chose to mention this last because it is most special to me. The night before my birthday Kris didn’t seem to be feeling so well (which he later admitted to me he had gotten drunk to calm his nerves) and the next day he didn’t seem like himself at all. I was worried, and a little miffed (why was he acting this way on my birthday? What was he upset about?). In the early morning, before we left, Kris said he had to go to the safe we had rented to get some more money out for the day. I talked to my parents on the phone while he went, and thought nothing of his going there.

The first part of the day we hopped over to the Magic Kingdom and rode our favorite rides. (Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion , of course!!). We had enormous sticky cinnamon buns for breakfast and walked around until the early afternoon. Before we left, we passed Cinderella’s Castle and Kris took a longer than usual pause there. He seemed a little more agitated than usual and then I was really wondering if something was going wrong (Usually, people who are at the Magic Kingdom look estatic. Kris looked green). He quickly asked a woman passing by if she could take a picture of us, and then we moved on. (That picture is now in our bedroom as a reminder of “the short moments before”). We decided to hop the monorail over to Epcot for the rest of the day. Kris kept having to go to the bathroom all day, I was certain he was really sick or had some bad news to tell me. When we walked past Canada , we found a lovely little spot called Victoria Gardens . It was peaceful and quiet there, and there was a beautiful waterfall to walk under. As we walked under the waterfall, I commented on how beautiful it was and Kris answered “Kathy, you know I really love you, don’t you?” and I answered “Of course ! I love you too!”. Kris then answered, “You know I really, really love you?” I was starting to get worried. Was he going to break up with me? He sounded nervous. We made our way to a bench in the middle of the beautiful garden and he asked me to close my eyes, he had another birthday surprise for me. What happened when I opened my eyes is something I’ll never forget. He was down on one knee, asking me to marry him! I was so shocked I could barely make out a sentence (and I didn’t really.Kris says it felt like forever before I answered him.I just couldn’t talk I was so surprised). I of course finally said yes, and a relieved (and hopefully happy!) Kris answered “good, let’s go get some drinks, I’m dying!”. Now I know that the reason why he was acting the way he had all morning was because he wanted to ask me, and he wanted to do it in front of the castle at Disney, but a parade was going on and he didn’t think it was quiet enough. Being in the intimate little garden with a nervous boyfriend was the most romantic to me. Kris is still a little embarrassed that he forgot to take his pirate hat off when he asked me and that he blurted out “you don’t have to say yes!” after he popped the question. I just think it’s awfully adorable and couldn’t have loved him more that moment. I was on cloud 9 with a goofy smile on my face the rest of the day. Throughout dinner and the rest of the evening I barely said a word. Everything about the rest of the day was just blissful. A dog could have gone to the bathroom on my shoe and I wouldn’t have cared. I looked back in disbelief on the afternoon as we watched the fireworks that night. It’s amazing how, when you’re in love and when something like that happens to you, you become oblivious to anything bad in the world. The screaming children and nagging older couples and drunken college kids yelling just disappeared. I know I am at times a cheesy romantic, but when you’re in love, it feels like the whole world falls in love along with you. There’s lots more to tell about our trip that I just can’t put down. You’ll have to ask us sometime. For me that was the most memorable vacation. I think it always will be.