-A word of caution before you start.....this trip report is definitely not for those who like their Walt Disney World trip commando style. We planned on spending a lot of time at FW [Fort Wilderness] this trip, and that is exactly what we did. So, if you want a more park-oriented trip report, this one isn't for you. :-)
-This was our longest WDW trip so far. Thirteen days! I say so far, because I hope to stay even longer next year. Maybe fourteen days? I have not discussed this with Mike as yet, so it is still only a hope.
-Planning actually started last year around this time (December). Then, reservations were made last spring for a preferred campsite at FW. The CM [cast member] who made our reservation was very helpful. I requested the 300 loop because it is the only preferred loop to allow animals. I mentioned that this would be our first time staying in one of the preferred loops and that we were really looking forward to it. When she asked what type of pet we were traveling with, I proceeded to gush about our beloved cat (it doesn't take much to get me started.....heck, how many people do you know that buy a camper just so their cat can travel with them?). As a fellow cat lover, she and I had a nice long conversation (thank goodness for nationwide cell phone service :-)) about our wonderful pets.
-Last year Mike and I had strolled around the 300 loop, picking out the sites we would most like to stay in, so I requested 7 or 8 specific sites and added that if none of those were available, we would like to be near the comfort station and bus stop. I know nothing is ever guaranteed, but I figure it doesn't hurt to ask for what you want. (I have related most of our conversation here because it turned out that things didn't go as smoothly as usual at check-in.....more on that later.)
-We keep our camper at our property in the country. I'm not talking about a country estate, just 3 1/2 acres with a pond and an old trailer that we spend weekends at and plan to build on when we retire. I had actually been packing for weeks. I would put aside whatever we planned on bringing with us that we wouldn't be using in the meantime, and I would bring it out and put it away in the camper. The last minute packing was so much easier this time. Not much to bring but our clothes and enough food to get us through the first few days of the trip. I planned on a grocery run a day or two after we got to WDW. Making groceries, as we say here in New Orleans.
Friday, December 6
-We arrived at our property late in the afternoon and got everything ready to leave early the next morning. Mike installed our new bike rack we had just bought for the trip. We were determined to bring our bikes this time. We were really looking forward to riding all around FW. We hitched up the camper, loaded all the last minute stuff in, turned on the refrigerator, tested the lights to make sure everything was ready to go. Now, we just had to get through that last night before we were on the road and on our way to WDW! Woo Hoo!
-Did I mention that our trailer out there was old? So old that there is very little insulation. Whatever the temperature is outside, that's pretty much what the temperature is inside. And it was cold that night. Very cold. At least for down here in the south. It was in the high 20's, and neither of us got much sleep. Maybe we should have slept in the camper which has much better insulation. We were huddled under electric blankets (heads included) and we were still cold. I had on a regular pair of socks and a pair of thick house socks but sometime during the night, I got up and put my slippers on also, but I was still cold. We couldn't get to Florida soon enough for me. :-) Xiang, our cat, was the only one who got a good night's sleep. She sleeps cuddled up in my arms at night and was toasty warm. Can you tell that she is totally spoiled by us and is treated like a baby? :-)
Saturday, December 7
-Since we weren't sleeping well anyway, we were up pretty early. Taking a bath in that trailer on cold mornings is a real test of endurance. :-) I turned on the space heater and got it as warm as I could and then broke speed records getting bathed, dried and dressed. Last minute packing, closing up the trailer, and we were on our way by 9:00. Since I am a towing wimp and still haven't towed the camper, Mike does all the driving. He hates driving too long at one time, so we plan stops along the way. Lunch was at the Cracker Barrel in Pensacola, with a rest in the camper before going on to Tallahassee where we spent the night. We would finish the drive to WDW on Sunday morning.
-We stay in a nice little campground just off the interstate at the last Tallahassee exit. It has mostly drive through sites which makes it so easy if you are arriving late at night. While we have arrived as late as 2:00 in the morning before, this time we pulled in at a very decent hour and checked in. We found our site and hooked up the electricity and water. Since we were going to be pulling out very early in the morning, we didn't unhitch or connect the sewer hose. We had asked to be near the bathroom since we knew we wouldn't be connected to the sewer and could just use the facilities at the campground. I transferred Xiang from the van to the camper and brought in her food and water bowls. Although she is a very good little traveler, she was happy to be stopped for the night. She curled up on my bed right away. We heated our leftovers from Cracker Barrel in the microwave, watched a little TV and got to bed early. It was still very cold that night, so we set up the little space heater we bring with us and I slept in a nice warm pair of thermal underwear. It was cosy and warm in the camper. As I said before, we should have slept in there last night. I feel like one of those I-Should-Have-Had-A-V8-Commercials! Duh!
Sunday, December 8
-I woke up before dawn, and still half asleep, slipped on my shoes and jacket, grabbed a flashlight, and headed for the campground bathroom. It wasn't until I got in the bathroom that I realized that I hadn't slipped my jeans on over my thermal underwear and had come out in just the long johns! I had a good laugh and couldn't wait to tell Mike how silly I was. In my defense, let me say that if anyone had seen me (which I doubt) with my long jacket on, it probably looked like sweatpants as they are loose and not tight like leggings. I got back to the camper and told Mike about my escapade and he thought it was hilarious. We got started putting things away in the camper for travel and Mike told me to grab the flashlight and come help him disconnect the electricity and water. On with the jacket again and out the camper....only to discover that I had done it again! And this time, neither of us had noticed! :-) Mike will never let me live this down. Just in the few weeks since then, he has mentioned several times that at least he doesn't go outside in HIS underwear....hehe.
-We pulled out of the campground at around 7:00. And yes, I had gotten dressed by then. :-) With stops for gas and breakfast, we got to WDW at a little after noon and pulled into the check-in line at FW. Check-in should have been a breeze, but not this time. Remember that I had requested a preferred loop, the 300 loop, and had even requested some specific sites? And that the CM and I had discussed in length what we wanted? I know it's my own fault for not checking our reservation slip closely enough, but despite our long talk about what kind of loop we wanted to stay in, the CM had listed it as a full hook-up site and not a preferred site after all. Now, I had called several times to make sure that all was well with our ressie and that they had received all my payments. I had sent in most of the money and only owed about $50. I had even called that morning on my cell phone to make sure that everything was in order and was never told that there was a problem, but now we were informed that to stay in a preferred loop, we would have to pay an additional $10 a night. Or, we could pull over on the side and go inside to speak with a manager. We opted to speak with a manager.
-I know there are those out there who will say that after spending what a person spends for a vacation at WDW, why quibble over an extra $10 a night? All I can say is that the extra $130 that we hadn't counted on could pay for a couple of nice dinners, and what fool throws away $130 without at least asking to keep it? :-) We could have just gone ahead and stayed in a regular pet loop as in the past and not had to pay any extra. But we had our hearts set on a preferred loop this time. And after all, it didn't hurt to explain our predicament to a manager. We pulled over and parked and headed inside. Mike was getting a little aggravated by now, but I cautioned him against losing his temper. I reminded him that you get more flies with honey than vinegar and made him promise to let me do the talking. I know from reading the newsgroup that a CM (or anyone for that matter) responds more to reason than anger. So, I nicely explained our situation, and the manager could see from the computer that we had requested loop 300 and specific loop 300 campsites, and that I couldn't understand with all this info, how the CRO CM had made the mistake she had. He explained that although the 300 loop is a pet loop, it's not an official one, so somehow our reservation was switched to a regular (official?) pet loop instead of a preferred loop. To make a long story short (I know, too late) he let us have the preferred loop at the price that we had been quoted. I thanked him with all my heart for his help and we finished checking in. He even was able to let us have one of the sites we had requested. All was right with the world! The Pixie Dust and Magic was flowing. :-) On to our campsite.
-It didn't take us too long to unhitch and set up camp. We put out our awning but didn't put up any of our Christmas decorations yet. We wanted to take showers and then head over to the ESPN Club to try to catch part of the Saints game. There was a line in front of the club and it wasn't moving since no one was leaving. Mike was all for giving up but I pointed out that at least standing in line, we could watch the game through the open doorway and know what was happening, which was better than nothing. One of the CM's was from Louisiana and kept coming out to tell us how they were doing. We finally got in when the game was almost over, but we did get to see the end of the game. We won! After our dinner, we walked along the Boardwalk for a bit and then headed back to FW. We got to bed fairly early, maybe around 10:00 or 10:30.
NEXT......Rain, rain, rain..... :-/