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April 2007 Archives

April 14, 2007



Thanks for checking out my new blog here at!!! I'm very excited about the new feature and hope you will be too.

This first phase will have me, Deb Wills, blogging my way into your browser. Soon, we will be adding additional bloggers. This is just the beginning!

Here is just a little of what you can expect.....

I will be sharing my experiences in the world of Disney -- planning, live reports from trips, tips, random musings and more. I have several big Disney trips on the horizon so my blogs will include information about my Disney Cruise Line Mediterranean trip in May-June as well as my Adventures by Disney Southwest US trip in August. While on these trips, I plan to make daily updates so you can follow right along from your computer. I'll even be able to add some photos!

I'm very excited to be able to share my Disney experiences with you....

So hold onto your hats and glasses folks... Let the Blogging Begin!!!!


April 15, 2007

Dreaming of the Grand Canyon

I've always wanted to visit the Southwestern United States. Years ago, when my travel didn't include so much Disney, I loved experiencing the National Parks of the US. I can clearly picture my adventures in Yosemite, the BadLands, Mt. Rushmore, and Crater Lake - ah those bring back great memories. Yet, the Southwest has always eluded me.....

Until now....

The phone rang one night as I was working on an upcoming issue of the All Ears® newsletter. It was Beci Mahnken, my travel agent from MouseFanTravel. Beci told me that she had worked out a special Adventures by Disney Trip to the Southwestern US and was able to offer a discount too! After hearing a few of the details, I quickly logged on to the Adventures by Disney Website and became fixated on the Itinerary...... Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Archs, Moab. Most meals included...oh and the hotels look awesome!!!

From there I went to the National Park Service website for the Grand Canyon. The photos alone brought tears to my eyes...... I called Beci back to tell her I was ready!!!! Let the planning begin.

Sound interesting? You can join us!
Read more about the trip!

I'll be writing more about this Adventure by Disney and update you on my planning soon!

Life -- it too short!

April 16, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 1 - It Begins

Wow! It was March 2006 when all the Disney sites seem to be a buzz speculating where the Cruise Line would spend the summer of 2007. Alaska? Hawaii? Europe? When it was announced that the ship would sail to Barcelona and offer 11 and 10 night cruises of Italy and France.... I had to take a serious look.

Palermo! Oh my gosh...the first stop on the cruise is where my mother's family is from. Quickly, I decided this would be my one chance to visit my "homeland" and I had to go.

Then I stopped and said -- Ok, let's think about this rationally (hmm.. does one ever plan a Disney trip rationally?). This cruise could be quite an expensive venture. Not only would we be paying Disney Cruise Line prices, but we would also need airfare to and from the US, pre-stay hotel accommodations, excursion costs and who knows what else.

I started emailing my cruise buddies. (Yes, there is a group of us that seem to cruise together annually. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that we all met on a Disney ship! LOL.) Well, several folks were very excited... so we talked and thought and decided to go for it!!!

I'm not real crazy about traveling overseas these days but since I never have, I figured why not do it with Disney.

We have a Category 7 Navigator's verandah booked and plan to fly in a few days early to tour Barcelona.

My next post on the Med Cruise will talk about our excursions!

Life - IT too short!

April 19, 2007

Headed to Walt Disney World

I'll be leaving later today for a long weekend at Walt Disney World. My days will be spent doing research for the 2nd edition of Passporter's Walt Disney World for Your Special Needs (actually our new title is Passporter's Open Mouse). It triple check the research fact time!!

My evenings will be spent relaxing and catching up with friends. We've got three nice dinners planned. My task will be to maintain my healthy eating while dining at California Grill (Contemporary), Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge) and Il Mulino (Swan).

The weather sounds nice, especially given the crazy non-spring weather we've been having in Washington, DC. Temps should be high 70s low 80s and sunny to partly cloudy skies.

I'll be sending daily updates - letting you know crowd conditions and reporting back on anything of note. Stay tuned for more, possibly later tonight.

Life IT too short!

Wilderness Lodge


We've arrived! I got goosebumps checking in when Al, the security guard, welcomed the Princeses Home!!! I just love the Wilderness Lodge. It was actually the first deluxe resort I ever stayed at in the 90s and still remember Ranger Stan taking care of our bags. We got a super group rate and are splurging with a stay in concierge!

When Al checked our name at the gate, there was a note on our parking pass to let the valet stand know we were staying at the Old Faithful Club. When we arrived at the Valet Stand they called upstairs and Cast Member Rob came down to greet us. He got a bellman for us and wouldn't you know, it was Arnie, the same gentleman that helped me on my last stay. He is just wonderfully magical and it started the stay out on a very high note. The Lodge appears to be pretty full to capacity..there are folks everywhere!

It was 6:30 when we arrived. We were famished, so went into the Lounge and got some dinner. Really awesome vegetable soup (and I"m not a big soup person) was the hit. We also munched on some celery and cheese....and of course a glass of wine for me, and Linda had a bottle of Bass Ale.

We've unpacked and are now trying to decide what to do. MK is open very late so I'm thinking of taking the boat over since it's such a beautiful evening. Not even sure I'll go in the park.

On the other hand, the weather here is awesome (compared to home) and the balcony door is open...there's a gentle breeze.

Tommorrow morning I'll take off running with several pages of Book Questions to research.
Linda will be playing golf at Eagle Pines.

Til tomorrow....

Life IT too short!!!

April 20, 2007

4/20/07 - WDW "Live" Update

Today, Friday, is our first full day at Walt Disney World. It's been an amazing day that I can't wait to share with you as soon as I have time to write.

But I do want to share this precious photo... It is a 1-2 day old baby African Spoonbill who lives in the Oasis at Animal Kingdom.


April 21, 2007

4/20/07 - WDW "Live" Update Part 2

Friday really was an incredibly magical day. I already shared with you the baby Spoonbills I watched at Animal Kingdom....just amazing.

The day actually began earlier at the Wilderness Lodge, where we had the privilege of attending a flag ceremony on the roof of the Lodge. The cool breeze stood the flags out in a colorful array. I had not been on the roof in about 10 years and the views were as incredible as I remembered. Cast Member Jack was just wonderful and made it a very special experience!


Ok, back to Animal Kingdom... The park was pretty crowded when I arrived 10:30ish. I was in the Dinosaur section. Do you ever feel like you must have a sign on your car that says "Put me in the farthest parking space possible.. oh and please give the folks in front of me close parking spaces" LOL So I was wayyyyyy down the end of Dinosaur. I realized just how crowded it was when there was a back up to get on the tram. As one filled, there were just as many folks waiting in the lot for the next one.

The baby Spoonbill I showed you yesterday....well, they are in the very front viewing area as you enter Animal Kingdom. There were actually 2 Spoonbills nesting with babies. The mom on the left had 2 little ones; you saw a photo of one. The spoonbill on the right had 1 baby that had been born in within the last 12 hours and also had another one coming out of the egg.

Animal Kingdom was celebrating Earth Day and had exhibits set up in each land, geared towards teaching kids more about the environment.

As I headed to Pizzafari for some lunch, I saw dear friends of mine, MJ, Bonny and Andrew! A great surprise. While at lunch I met a woman who thanked me for co-writing Passporter's WDW for Your Special Needs. She said she never imagined they'd be able to do a trip to Walt Disney World and the book gave her the courage to do so! They were having a really good time!!!"

Off to the Kilimajaro Safari... MJ stays in her wheelchair and so we went to that part of the queue line. There was a very long wait, but that was ok, it gave us a more opportunity to talk!

On the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, we saw real eggs belonging to the Flamingos. The 6 month old giraffe is now gliding more confidently along the savannah and everywhere I looked, it seemed as though there were young ones... very exciting!!!

I headed off to do some resort research and then returned to the room to get ready for dinner. Another wonderful meal at California Grill. I'll be writing more about that for a feature article in AllEars.


Life, IT too short!

April 24, 2007

4/24/07 - WDW Almost Live

Well, as you can see, I didn't quite finish the "live" updates from Walt Disney World. Things just got so hectic. Allow me now, to finish up the trip as best I can.....

4/20/07 Evening....
Dinner at California Grill was wonderful, as it always is for me. We were seating in the wine room in the back and had a great view of Epcot's Spaceship Earth as well as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. As I mentioned, I"ll be doing an article for the AllEars® newsletter on our California Grill experience.

Saturday morning we decided to have breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe. If you haven't been there yet, let's just say is a Wild and Crazy dining experience. Lots of whopping it up... so be ready for noise, even early in the am! The kids all got to ride around on their stick ponies (even some "older" kids) and it was fun to watch. Our server was very into his role and sometimes he couldn't stop himself from laughing. Food was very good but huge quantities and most of us couldn't finish our breakfast!!

The four of us went over to Epcot to see the Flower and Garden Festival. It certainly had more "color" than I remembered from last year.

The Pirate ship at the entrance is just magnificent with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook, the gator and Pirate "Mr. Smee" Stitch!

We rode the new Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico. Certainly more colorful and lively that the former El Rio de Tiempo which definitely needed updating. If I didn't know the story line in advance, I would have been wondering exactly what it was. It wasn't clear to me until near the end that the Caballeros were looking for Donald. Be that as it may, it was cute and a strong "C-ticket" attraction.

There were gorgeous orchids along the path outside of Mexico and we spent a great deal of time admiring and taking photos of them.


At this point I left my friends and headed off to do some resort research at Saratoga Springs and Port Orleans French Quarter. My friends continued to enjoy the Festival.

Life -- IT too short!

April 25, 2007

4/25/2007 WDW Almost Live

Evening 4/21/2007

Tonight we dined at Jiko to celebrate our dear friends Tod and Sue's anniversary. Our dinner was simply amazing and highlighted by manager Jeremy who paired each of our courses with a special South African Wine. We actually never did have a "main course" per se... but did manage to have several courses of items from the Cooking Place and the appetizer list. Oh, and dessert.

In this photo, Jeremy is pouring the Chocolate Box red wine for Sue -- it was YUMMMY!!


Sunday, April 22, 2007
I hadn't spent much time in the World Showcase portion of Epcot so Linda and I headed there on Sunday. What a beautiful weather day... mostly blue skies, mild temps and a small breeze. We strolled from pavilion to pavilion enjoying all the beautiful flowers and topiaries.


Along the way, we had lunch at the Yakatori House in Japan. It was ok, nothing special, but decent. By mid afternoon we strolled back to the front of Epcot to try and get better photos of the entrance topiaries.

Back to Wilderness Lodge where we spent some time talking with the concierge staff. Lisa, Gerrianne, Jack and everyone was just super!

Sunday evening we dined at Il Mulino in the Swan, the new Italian place. Being such a huge fan of Palio (the former Italian restaurant), I had such high hopes. Alas, I found the place disappointing and way overpriced. Our dining companions, Steve Barrett (Mr. Hidden Mickey) and his lovely wife Vickie, made the evening very special.

Monday morning we were off to the airport at 6:30am for a flight home. A great trip with great memories!

Deb --
Life IT too short!

April 28, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 2 - Excursions

After deciding to book Disney's 11 night Med cruise, the next big decision, for me at least, was deciding on excursions. There are so many to choose from and of course, none offer everything you want to do... so you have some serious choices to make.

The other complicating factor is that Disney Cruise Line opened excursion reservations on line at 3 AM! Yes, you read that right... So I had to set the alarm and get up in the middle of the night to try and book the excursions I wanted. I also hoped for Palo dining reservations, but that became secondary. I wasn't a happy camper..but what can you do?

In deciding on our excursions, we laid out the itinerary so we could see where we'd be the day before and the day after each port. Didn't want to book back to back 8-9 hour excursions.. whew....

The very first excursion I attempted to book was for Villefranche -- Convertible Car Tour of the Cote d'Azur. Yes you and your companion get to drive around the French Riveria in your own convertible! It was VERY disappointing to see this was completely booked when I got online. I guess all the concierge guests (who get to reserve prior to the Castaway Club members) gobbled them all up. Since that time, I have heard from some on later cruises that this excursion seems to be unavailable even when things "open up". Hmm..

From there I just went to the first port and booked from there.

Palermo: Sights of Palermo

La Specia: Florence and Michelangelo

Civitavecchia - Jumping Back into Eternal Rome

Marseille - Castellet and Wine Tasting

Naples - Amalfi Coast Drive and the Ruins of Pompeii

Olbia - we decided to sleep in and enjoy a late morning stroll and lunch with friends.

Villefrance -- well, we haven't decided what to do there yet. I keep checking the DCL website in hopes someone would have cancelled and the Convertible would become available.

All that coupled with 2 sea days in 11 nights, I'd say we are going to be busy busy busy.

Read Part I of my Mediterranean Cruise Articles
Life -- IT too short!

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About April 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Deb's Digest in April 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.