Jennifer and Dave's Disney Adventure Report

Dates: 10/18 - 10/27, 1999 (10 day trip)


  • Jennifer Watson (author): 31 year old, writer and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on her umpteenth trip to Disney (from Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Dave Marx: 44 year old, writer and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on his 10th (or is it 11th?) trip to Disney (from Hackensack, NJ and Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Evans: online friend who we used to work with on AOL; Disney vacation veteran (joining us for the first three days)
  • Liz: friend of Evans; never been to Disney before (also joining us for the first three days)
  • Kim Larner: 28 year old, Jennifer's younger sister, pregnant (in her fourth month). On her third trip to Walt Disney World but brand new to the Disney Cruise (from Okemos, Michigan). She is joining us for the cruise aboard the Disney Wonder.
  • Chad Larner, 28 year old, Jennifer's brother-in-law. Also on his third trip to Walt Disney World. (from Okemos, Michigan) He is also joining us on the cruise.
Updated 11/21/03

Copyright 1999-2006
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

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  Our Seventh Day: Sunday, October 24, 1999

Rise and shine at 7:00 am! We dragged ourselves out of bed and showered. Breakfast this morning was in the same restaurant we would have eaten at the night before (if we hadn't eaten at Palo's). That was Parrot Cay, so we left a bit earlier for the restaurant.

We brought the gratuities for our servers with us to breakfast. A word on gratuities: Disney suggests how much you should give various persons who helped you during the cruise (server, assistant server, head server, and stateroom host/hostess), but frankly only one of them deserved that much (the stateroom host). We still gave the servers a tip, but it was something we felt was more appropriate to their service. Additionally, the gratuity can be in the form of cash or a voucher for cash (which you can obtain by putting the amount on your charge card at Guest Services). They give you small envelopes in which to place and present the gratuities.

Breakfast was a quick affair, or at least that's what we wanted. In actuality, service was slow and we only had the opportunity to gulp down some pastries and drink our juice. We told the assistant server we needed to leave by 8:15, and he seemed to think that would be no problem, and that simply wasn't the case. Why 8:15? We arranged with the publicist on board to see the various staterooms on the Disney Wonder.

So at 8:15, we were out in front of Guest Services waiting for Alex. She arrived and we began touring the decks. We saw about six rooms, from category 1 (the most expensive) to category 6 (mid-range). We'll describe these in more detail when we return to fill in details.

After the tour, we disembarked, found our luggage in the appropriate zone, breezed through customs, and met up with Kim and Chad who were waiting for us. The four of us proceeded to the shuttle area, only to discover that we weren't going to ride back to Walt Disney World in a pretty Disney Cruise Line bus but in an ugly and cramped Mears shuttle. We were NOT happy. The ground transfers were extra for all of us and we fully expected we'd be in the Disney Cruise Line shuttles for both journeys. It appears they ran out of buses and had to call in Mears reinforcements to take us. And we didn't even get to sit together on the over-an-hour-long trip back. Very disappointing.

One good thing did come out of the Mears shuttle, however. We were the last to be dropped off, and we asked the driver nicely if we could be taken directly to our resort (Wilderness Lodge) than go to the Comtemporary... and he agreed! You see, the Disney Cruise Line only works with certain resorts in Walt Disney World, and if you're staying at or returning to a resort other than one on their list, they won't go there. So while the BoardWalk was on the list, Wilderness Lodge was not. We arranged in advance to be dropped off at the Contemporary, and from there we planned to take a water launch to the Wilderness Lodge. Clunky and time-consuming, but it would work. But since the driver agreed to take us directly to Wilderness Lodge, we shaved time and energy off our trip. So in exchange for the unpleasant trip we received door-to-door transportation... a fair trade.

At Wilderness Lodge, Kim and Chad oohed and awed over the beautiful lobby while we checked in. We requested a room with two queen beds and a woodland view on the Magic Kingdom side (to avoid the construction). Such a room was available and even ready right away. One note of interest is that we had neglected to let Disney know that Kim and Chad would be staying with us in the room at Wilderness Lodge on Sunday night. When we notified the cast member who checked us in of this fact, she informed us that normally we would have to pay extra for the two adults, but since they were only staying the night she wouldn't charge us.

After check-in, we went right up to our room, waited for our luggage to arrive, and unpacked. Kim and Chad then left to explore the resort and other resorts, while we made ourselves comfortable and dug into some work. We had much e-mail waiting for us after being incommunicado for three days, and plenty of Web site updates to do. We also needed to reassess what resarch was left to gather in this trip and create a game plan. In doing so, we realized how much we still had to do, so Dave left to do research while Jennifer stayed to do e-mail and Web work. Dave visited all the monorail resorts and their restaurants.

After Jennifer completed her computer work, she headed for Shades of Green for research as well. Shades of Green is a military recreationational facility on Walt Disney World property, and was formerly The Disney Inn resort. Our readers have requested we include more information on it in our book, so we felt we should pay it a visit. Jennifer took the Shades of Green bus from the Transportation and Ticket Center, walked around the resort, peeked in a few rooms, and asked some questions. It was at the end of this self-tour that she learned that she would be allowed back on the bus because only guests of the resort or military personnel were allowed to ride the bus. Ack!! No one had stopped her from getting on the bus at the Transportation & Ticket Center, and she knew she'd heard about visits to the restaurant from those not staying at the resort. A quick talk with a cast member near the bus stop confirmed this, and she began to wonder how on earth she was going to get out of this place... by now it was dark and too late to walk alone. But at the last moment, he took mercy on her and allowed her on the bus. She was happy to leave. While the resort was ok, it wasn't anything special — no theming and no polish. Walking the halls felt like being at any off-site resort. The only things the resort has going for it are pricing (low prices based on your military grade), proximity to Magic Kingdom (you can't see it, but you can hear the Walt Disney World train whistles), and perhaps the Mickey-shaped pool. Point against it are transportation (only two buses, one to the Transportation and Ticket Center every 20 minutes and one to Animal Kingdom/Blizzard Beach every hour), lack of that Disney touch, and the fact that you couldn't have anyone visit you at the resort if they weren't also staying there.

After our research was complete, we met up in the Main Salon of the Adventurer's Club (on Pleasure Island). We stayed at the Adventurer's Club for a couple of hours, then went in search of food around 10:45. Big mistake. Every restaurant but one closes at 11:00 pm. The only one open was Planet Hollywood, which is not our favorite. But our stomachs didn't care as much at this point, so we had burgers at Planet Hollywood while watching their big screen monitors and pointing out memorabilia to each other on the walls.

During the day, Jennifer realized how good it felt to be back at Walt Disney World. The cruise was interesting, but it was not "home" the way Walt Disney World was. Even little things she'd taken for granted at Walt Disney World suddenly sprang to the forefront, like taking a water launch from Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom, the music playing in the background, and the sunset behind the Grand Floridian.

Upon our return to the Wilderness Lodge, we discovered Kim and Chad already back and asleep. Soon after we fell asleep also, ready for a full day at Walt Disney World.

From our PassPorter:

The weather on our seventh day was sunny but wonderfully cool and crisp (jeans and sweatshirt weather).

The best thing about our seventh day was returning to Walt Disney World after our three-day absence, and being happy to be there.

The worst thing about our seventh day was Jennifer's experience at Shades of Green.

The most interesting thing about our seventh day how we could meet each other in the Main Salon of the Adventurer's Club without a hitch, almost as if we were meeting each other in a living room.

The most tiring thing about our seventh day was running around to do research at the resorts.

One word that best describes our seventh day is HOME.

To learn more, continue on to our Eighth Day.

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