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August 7, 2009

Bay Lake Tower - Part Three

This final blog about Bay Lake Tower will contain some odds and ends not previously covered. Also, at the end of this article, I have included a Q&A section.

Let's start with the Community Center. Located off of the Bay Lake Tower Lobby, the Community Center is where you'll go if you want to engage in some sort of activity. When you check in, you should find a “Recreation Activities” bulletin in your room. This sheet lists all of the activities provided for the next week as coordinated through the Community Center. These include Disney trivia challenges, campfire/marshmallow roasts, pool volleyball, ceramics, and sand art creations, just to name a few. DVD's can also be checked out here. They are free to members and a $5 charge for others.


Community Center

Community Center

Community Center


Also in the Community Center are a number of games. These include Wii, computer, and the board variety. This is also the spot where you can check out shuffleboard and bocce ball equipment.


Shuffleboard Court

Bocce Ball Court


At the Cove Bar out by the pool, you can enjoy a refreshing libation. Also available is a limited menu offering quick service meals.


Cove Bar

Cove Bar Menu


Also at the Cove Bar you can order Private Dining. Just pick up the phone and place your order. Within thirty minutes your meal arrives in an attractive bento box. (Mine arrived in less than ten.)


Private Dining Phone

Private Dining Menu


I ordered the Contemporary Club Sandwich from Private Dining. The second meal is from the Cove Bar and is the Five Spice Chicken Lettuce Wrap.


Club Sandwich in Bento Box

Quick Service Chicken Lettuse Wrap


Next to the Cove Bar is the beverage refill station for those of you who have purchased refillable mugs.


Beverage Refill Station


Next to the pool is a Mickey shaped fountain for kids to run and splash in.


Mickey Fountain


The swimming pool features zero entry at one end.


Zero Entry Pool


On the shores of Bay Lake is the best spot on property to have a BBQ. Several covered picnic tables are available and you can't beat this view while basting those ribs.


BBQ & Picnic Area

BBQ & Picnic Area


To the north of BLT are two new tennis courts. These are for the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower only. No reservations are needed as this is a first come, first serve facility. Please limit your play to one hour.


Tennis Court


When you arrive at your room, one of the first things you should do is study the Evacuation Route sign on the back of the door. You need to know how to exit the building in case of an emergency.


Evacuation Route


This picture hangs over the sofa. Pretty cool.


Picture Over Sofa


These next two pictures were taken while I was lying in bed. Nice view, huh?


View from Bed

View from Bed


Back at the Top of the World, I wanted to give special thanks to my waiter Dan. He took care of serving me drinks and food for two evenings and I couldn't have asked for a better cast member to wait on me.


Waiter Dan


Here is the menu featuring the items served at the Top of the World. Last night I opted to try the Chicken & Vegetable Summer Roll. To be honest, I thought they were somewhat bland, but the accompanying peanut sauce added a nice flavor.


Top of the World menu

Chicken & Vegetable Summer Rolls


I've created a short video of the Wishes Fireworks Show and the Electric Water Pageant as seen from the Top of the World.



Questions & Answers

Many of you asked questions about the resort, and I did my best to answer them when I posted your comments, but I realize that it's not easy to wade through the comments looking for something in particular. Below, I tried to capture all of the questions asked over the last several days and provide an answer to the best of my understanding.

Q. Is there music in the lobby and halls?
A. Light Jazz/New Age music is played in the lobby, but not on the hallways. More upbeat music is played out by the pool.

Q. Are there age/height/weight restrictions for the pool slide?
A. I could find none. All I could find was a sign displaying general safety rules.

Q. Is there a charge for the pool lockers?
A. The lockers cost a quarter and are coin operated.

Q. Are the room washer and dryers reduced in size?
A. Although the washer and dryer are stacked, they seem to be of a standard size, large enough to hold a decent load.

Q. Does the pool bar accept the Disney Dining Plan or Tables in Wonderland?
A. Not at this time.

Q. Can we watch the fireworks from the Skyway Bridge?
A. Yes, and the music is played in this area.

Q. Can we watch the fireworks from the elevator lobbies?
A. Yes, but there is no music played in this area.

Q. Can you see the fireworks from the pool and hot tub?
A. No.

Q. Are there speakers on the room balconies?
A. No. However, your television broadcasts the fireworks music on channel 20.

Q. In what rooms can Ethernet/HSIA connections be found?
A. In the one-bedroom units, the only connections are in the master bedroom at the desk.

Q. What room is the balcony next to?
A. On the one and two bedroom units, the balconies are situated off of the bedrooms with sliding glass doors. An additional standard door connects the balconies to the living room.

Q. Do guests staying at the BLT have a separate check-in line at the Contemporary Resort.
A. No. All cast members can provide service for both resorts.

Q. Do the bathroom doors have locks?
A. No.

Q. Can the sliding doors between the master bedroom and bathtub be locked?
A. No.

Q. Is there someone who can provide “general information” at the BLT?
A. An information desk is located in the lobby and is manned during much of the day.

Q. Does the monorail stop at the BLT?
A. No. You must take the Skyway bridge to the Contemporary to catch the monorail. If you're heading for the Magic Kingdom, it may be quicker to walk.

Q. How long is the walk from the BLT to the Magic Kingdom?
A. I think the average walker could make it in ten minutes.

Q. Does the Skyway Bridge have glass to protect you from the wind and rain?
A. No. One small section of the walkway has frosted glass panels, but this is to shield your view of the loading dock below.

Q. What is the music you used on the video you created (on the BLT Part 1 Blog)?
A. The title of the piece is “Behind the Waterfall” and can be found on the CD titled “Natural States.”

Q. Will the addition of BLT increase the number of people boarding the monorail at the Contemporary?
A. Not really. Remember, the North Wing was located here before the BLT. The two structures have basically the same amount of rooms. Although the number of people may increase some, that number is insignificant compared to the monorail capacity.

Q. The furniture looks uncomfortable. Is it?
A. The barstools were fine, but the sleeper sofa and sleeper chair were stiff and I did not find them comfortable. This simply might be because they're new. I'm hoping that after they're "broken in" they will be okay.

Q. Are hair dryers provided?
A. Yes. One can be found in the master bathroom drawer.

Q. On what floor do the rooms start?
A. In an earlier answer, I said the 2nd. This is incorrect. There are some rooms on the first floor.

Q. Do all of the rooms have a balcony?
A. Yes. Studio and one-bedroom units have one balcony. Two bedroom units have two balconies. And the Grand Villas have four. Units on the first floor have a small patio.

Q. Is construction of BLT complete?
A. Construction on Bay Lake Tower is complete. Of course, being new, there are bound to be a few things here and there that require attention. But if you're worried about hearing jackhammers, that's not going to be a problem.

Q. Does Bay Lake Tower offer room service?
A. A complete room service menu is offered. The kitchens in the Contemporary will be servicing the BLT.

Q. What type of cooking utensils/pots and pans are in the kitchen?
A. There is a full set of pots and pans, casserole dishes, knives, tableware and flatware. You name it, it's here. You will have no problem preparing meals in this kitchen.

Q. Did I see an overhead nozzle in the master bathroom shower?
A. Yes. There are two nozzles here, one on the wall and one on the ceiling. However, only one can be activated at a time.

Q. Can I use filters and loose grounds to make my coffee in the provided coffee maker?
A. Yes.

Q. Is the sofa bed comfortable?
A. I never slept on it so I can't answer your question. However, the bed in the master bedroom was extremely comfortable.

Q. Who may use the Top of the World lounge?
A. Current policy states: Only DVC members staying on points and staying at the Bay Lake Tower, and those staying in the room with them, may use this lounge.

Q. Will this policy change?
A. Probably. At the moment, Disney does not know what the actual demand for this venue will be, and until that can be ascertained, they're taking a conservative approach and limiting access. I'm certain that this policy is in flux and we will probably see it change several times before a permanent procedure is settled upon.

Q. How do you gain access to the lounge?
A. Guests must check-in at a podium in the lobby of BLT. A cast member will check your room key. They can tell by the information printed on the card whether or not you're allowed to access the lounge. Once you have been cleared, you are escorted to a dedicated express elevator.

Q. I don't like this policy. Who can I complain to?
A. Since this policy is in flux, you might want to wait a month or so and see what happens. But if you want to voice your displeasure now, contact a DVC representative if you're a member. Non-DVC members should contact guest relations.

Q. Are children allowed at Top of the World?
A. Yes. Children, accompanied by an adult, can visit the Top of the World. However, they should refrain from sitting at the bar.

Q. What is the capacity of the Top of the World?
A. The lounge and outdoor viewing area combined can hold 499. The lounge alone can accomodate a little over one hundred.

Q. What are the hours of the Top of the World?
A. The Top of the World is open from 5pm until midnight -- last call is at 11:45.

Q. Can you make reservations for Top of the World?
A. No.

Q. Can you use Table In Wonderland at Top of the World?
A. Yes.

Q. Can you use the Disney Dining Plan at Top of the World?
A. Yes. But you might not want to. It takes one full-meal credit to order one flatbread. This would not be a good use of your credits.

Q. Does Bay Lake Tower have its own bus stop?
A. No. Guests staying at BLT share the Contemporary bus stop.

Q. Does Bay Lake Tower have its own exercise room?
A. No. Guests staying at BLT will use the gym at the Contemporary.

August 5, 2009

Bay Lake Tower – Part Two

My “Opening Day” blog about Bay Lake Tower has generated a slew of questions. At the moment, some of them are answered within the comments section of my first blog. After I return home, I'll publish all of the answers in a final Bay Lake Tower article.

I'm going to start this blog discussing the “Top of the World” lounge on the 16th floor of the resort.

Top of the World


For those of you who don't remember, the restaurant/lounge that is now the California Grill at the Contemporary use to be named Top of the World. Here guests could be entertained by celebrities and in later years see a show called “Broadway at the Top” while they enjoyed a meal. The new BLT lounge pays homage to the Contemporary by reusing this name.

First, let me give you the current policy as to who may use the Top of the World. Only DVC members staying on points and staying at the Bay Lake Tower, and those staying in the room with them, may use this lounge.

I know this policy delights some and infuriates others. At the moment, Disney does not know what the actual demand for this venue will be, and until that can be ascertained, they're taking a conservative approach and limiting access. I'm certain that this policy is in flux and we will probably see it change several times before a permanent procedure is settled upon.

Check-in for the Top of the World lounge takes place at a podium in the lobby of BLT. From there, a cast member escorts your party to a special elevator that only stops at the 16th floor. Once there, it's just a short walk to the lounge.


Top of the World Entrance


These first few pictures are of the bar. The mural is an artist concept drawing that John Hench drew when the Disneyland monorails were in the planning stages. This mural is transparent with a solid backing that can be lowered behind it.


Top of the World Bar

Top of the World Bar

Top of the World Bar


These next pictures are of the lounge area.


Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge

Top of the World Lounge


Here is a picture of Mike and Brucie, two of the full-time bartenders. Both of these fine people will take good care of you when you visit.


Mike & Brucie


To each side of the lounge are large outdoor viewing areas. This is where you'll want to be in order to get the best view of the fireworks.


Outdoor Viewing Area

Outdoor Viewing Area

Outdoor Viewing Area

Outdoor Viewing Area


Being a long day, I tuckered out at 8 p.m., and have no pyrotechnic photos for you. Until I get some, enjoy the spectacular view.


View from Top of the World

View from Top of the World

Bay%20Lake%20Tower%2070.jpg


The music from the fireworks show is played both in the lounge and out on the viewing area. Take a look at the speaker covers. The music is also available in your room on TV channel 20.


Top of the World Speaker


Although I missed out on the fireworks, take a look at the full arch rainbow we saw over Bay Lake. Believe me, my photo doesn't do it justice.


Rainbow


While at the Top of the World, we sampled three of the flatbreads offered. One is appropriately called a BLT " Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato. Another contained beef, mushrooms, and onions. And the third had mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Deb and Donald both thought the BLT was the best. I preferred the beef.


Flatbread

Flatbread


The restrooms that service the lounge have the cutest sinks for children. I hope we see more of this in future locations.


Child's Sink in Restauroom


Now I'm going to move back to my room and fill you in on some details " good and bad.

Let's start in the living room. This room is designed to sleep three. The sofa and chair both fold out into beds. I have to say, I didn't find either very comfortable to sit on. However, I'm hoping that they just need to be “broken in,” as my main complaint was that they were “stiff.” The bar stools, on the other hand, were fine.


Living Room Sofa


There is no portable luggage rack in the unit. This could be a problem for guests sleeping and unpacking in the living room. However, there is ample drawer space underneath the TV console.


Living Room Drawers


The drapes have no sheers behind the blackout curtains. I have stayed in a tower room at the Contemporary many times. Believe me, in the late afternoon, you need sheers to defuse the harsh sunlight.


Curtains


Since the DVC units are basically apartments, the kitchens come completely stocked with cooking utensils and tableware. I love how the dishes have a “modern” look.


Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen


All TVs have a connection box that allows you to hook up your camera directly. The living room TV also has a DVD player.


TV/Camera Connection


Both bathrooms have sliding doors. Neither one can be locked. Additionally, the doors do not close tightly. For instance, the bathroom off of the living quarters has a quarter inch gap running from floor to ceiling where the door meets the wall. This allows “private” sounds to easily be heard by those in the unit. This is something that Disney MUST address immediately.

The utility closet is located off of the master bedroom. Here you'll find an iron and ironing board, vacuum and safe. The safe allows you to enter a personal code rather than swiping a credit card.


Untility Closet

Safe


The luggage rack in the master bedroom is built into the furniture and a drawer can be found underneath. Additional drawers are located under the TV console.


Master Bedroom Luggage Rack

Master Bedroom Drawers


High speed internet access is available at the desk in the bedroom. I will check today to see if it is also available in the living quarters. Access is free to members staying on points. All others are charged $9.95 for each 24 hour period.


Internet Access


The clock radio has an iPod docking station.

iPod Docking Station


The duvet cover has Mickey stitched into the design.


Mickey Duvet Cover


The shower head also has a space-age look.


Shower Head


Okay, that's it for today. I'll have another installment sometime tomorrow.


August 4, 2009

Bay Lake Tower - Opening Day

Bay Lake Tower " Opening Day

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I need to give you a little background. When I covered the Kidani Village, I was given a private, VIP tour about a week before the resort opened. Because of this, I was able to get a lot of pictures beforehand and obtain answers to the questions I knew you were going to ask. Unfortunately, that was not the case with Bay Lake Tower. So you need to bear with me.

I checked in this morning (August 4) at 7:30. I rushed around like crazy taking pictures and videos for this blog. Since my laptop isn't as powerful as I'd like, I returned home to create this blog. I'm heading back to Disney later this afternoon.

I know you're going to have dozens of questions. But at the moment, I don't have the answers. I usually try to answer my comments within 24 hours, but that's not going to be the case over the next three days. Please feel free to send your questions via the comments section of this blog, but understand, it's going to take me some time to get back to you with an answer.

Also, this blog will be heavy on pictures and short on commentary.

Okay, let's begin.

To start, you check-in at the Contemporary. Bay Lake Tower does not have a “front desk.”


Contemporary Check-in


Here are some pictures of the front of the resort.


Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower Entrance

Bay Lake Tower Entrance


Just inside the front door are modernistic paintings of the Magic Kingdom castle.


Magic Kingdom Castle Are

Magic Kingdom Castle Art


Here are some pictures of the lobby.


BLT Lobby

BLT Lobby

BLT Lobby

BLT Lobby

BLT Lobby


You can also gain entrance to BLT via a walkway connecting it to the Contemporary. Okay, here comes the confusing part. The walkway at the Contemporary is on the fourth floor. It connects to the fifth floor of BLT.


BLT Skyway to the Contemporary

Contemporary Entrance to Skyway

View from BLT Skyway


You cannot gain access to any part of Bay Lake Tower without a room key. You can't enter the lobby doors. You can't walk across the skyway, and you can't enter the pool without a key.


Key Access Point


These next three pictures were taken just outside the lobby as you walk toward the pool area.


Outside Poolside Lobby

Outside Poolside Lobby

Outside Poolside Lobby


Here are some pictures of the pool.


BLT Pool

BLT Pool

BLT Pool

BLT Pool

BLT Pool


Next we see three pictures of the slide.


BLT Pool Slide

Pool Slide

BLT Pool Slide


There is a pool-side bar that also serves light meals. These include: Caesar Salad w/Chicken, Club Sandwich, Five Spice Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and Vegetable Summer Rolls.


Pool Bar Area


Here is the hot tub.


BLT Hot Tub


Adjacent to the pool is a lovely beach with lounge chairs. To me, this might become the most romantic spot at all of Disney. Being early morning, the chairs were not yet set up.


Beach Chairs


There are a limited number of lockers at the pool.


Pool Lockers


Next we see pictures of the two elevator lobbies. Notice the Contemporary and Space Mountain in the background.


Elevator Lobby

Elevator Lobby


Here is a picture of a typical hallway and room-door exterior. Also, notice the Hidden Mickey in the carpet.


BLT Hallway

BLT Room Door

Hidden Mickey In Carpet


The first thing I noticed when I entered my room was the lamp positioned squarely in front of the window. What were the designers thinking? I'm paying for a view. I didn't want a lamp in my way, so I immediately moved it.


View Obstructed by Lamp

Lamp Moved


Here are some pictures of the living and eating areas. Take a look at the Andy Warhol-esque picture of Space Mountain over the dining table.


Dining Area

Dining Area

Television

Sofa

Island Bar

Island Bar

Kitchen


There is a full bathroom off of the living room.


Guest Bath


I was staying in a one-bedroom unit. Here are pictures of the sleeping area.


Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom


Next we see the balcony off of the bedroom. There are two chairs and a small table. As you can see, there is plenty of room for several people to stand here and watch the fireworks. This is the view from the seventh floor.


Balcony

Magic Kingdom View

Magic Kingdom View


The master bath is separated from the bedroom by sliding doors.


Master Bedroom / Bath


Here we see photos of the master bath.


Master Bath

Master Bath

Master Bath

Master Bath


Also found in the one, two, and three bedroom units is a washer and dryer. For those of you staying in a studio, a laundry facility is located on the first floor off of the lobby.


Washer and Drywer

Laundry Room


Okay, that's all I've got for now. I hope to visit the lounge this afternoon and hopefully have more pictures and information for you tomorrow. Below is a quick video I put together to try and give you a better idea of what the resort is all about. Enjoy.

May 28, 2009

Bay Lake Tower

Yesterday (May 27, 2009) I was one of a privileged few to be allowed to view a Grand Villa at Disney's Bay Lake Tower, a Disney Vacation Club property. Scheduled to open in early August of this year, this new resort is sure to become one of the most popular at Walt Disney World. Its close proximity to the Magic Kingdom combined with its beautiful styling will put this property at the top of many folk's lists.


Bay Lake Tower Exterior


Since Bay Lake Tower is still under construction, we entered the building through a loading dock rather than the main entrance. We boarded an elevator and up we went to the top. Upon entering the Grand Villa, everyone's reaction was the same… Oh my god! The view of the Magic Kingdom is stunning when seen from this level through two-story windows. We were all blown away.


Bay Lake Tower Exterior

BLT Room Door

BLT Living Room


Here are a few more pictures of the living room. Note, the flat-screen television is wired for surround sound.


BLT Living Room

BLT Living Room

BLT Living Room


A dining table seats ten and can be expanded to twelve.


BLT Dining Table

BLT Dining Table

The kitchen has a very modern design and features granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.


BLT Kitchen

BLT Kitchen


A Grand Villa has four spacious balconies, one off of the kitchen and others off of the three bedrooms. The balcony off of the first floor bedroom can also be accessed from the living room. Take a look at the view!


BLT Balcony

View from BLT Balcony

View from BLT Balcony

View from BLT Balcony

This next picture hangs in the entryway. Also, notice the hidden Mickey on the rug.


Mickey Mouse Picture in Entry

Hidden Mickey in Rug


Since the resort is still under construction, many of the amenities like towels and small appliances were missing from this unit. In addition, we were asked not to take pictures of the beds since they did not have sheets or bedspreads.

Here are some pictures of the master bedroom and bath located on the first floor. The bathtub is separated from the sleeping area via sliding doors.


BLT Master Bedroom

BLT Master Bedroom

BLT Master Bath

BLT Master Bath

BLT Master Bath


Now we venture upstairs where we find a loft and laundry room. There is also a second door to the hotel hallway on this level.


BLT Stairway

BLT Stairway

BLT Loft

BLT Loft

BLT Loft

View from BLT Loft

BLT Laundry Room


These next pictures are of the second-story bedrooms and baths that flank each side of the loft. Note, the bedrooms have windows that look down into the living room.


BLT 2nd Story Bedroom

BLT 2nd Story Bedroom

BLT 2nd Story Bathroom

BLT 2nd Story Bathroom

BLT 2nd Story Bedroom

BLT 2nd Story Bedroom

BLT 2nd Story Bathroom

BLT 2nd Story Bathroom


I think Disney did a great job of creating a “contemporary” décor that doesn't sacrifice warmth for styling. From what I could see, the color palette looks vibrant and compliments the dark woods chosen for the cabinets and flooring. I'm looking forward to seeing one of these units when all of the final touches have been added.

Here are two pictures of the pool area. The pool offers zero-entrance.


BLT Swimming Pool

BLT Shuffleboard Court


I asked a few additional questions of my guide, and here's what I found out. The Contemporary and BLT will share the existing bus stop for folks traveling to the Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, and the water parks.

Check-in, concierge, and bell services all originate at the Contemporary.

As of today, only members staying on points and guests of members staying on points may use the lounge at the top of Bay Lake Tower. Guest using cash to stay here are not eligible for this perk. But please note, this policy is still in flux and could change frequently until all the dust settles and actual demand can be determined.

As far as food service, the lounge at the top of BLT will offer light appetizers (afternoons and evenings), but that's all. At this time, I do not know what food will be offered at the pool.

There are no restaurants at BLT. For these you need to walk over to the Contemporary.

Room service is available at Bay Lake Tower via the Contemporary kitchens.

The entire resort and all of its amenities will open simultaneously.

In all, Bay Lake Tower will offer 295 units made up of studios, one, two, and three bedroom plans.

April 14, 2009

Bay Lake Tower – Update April 14, 2009

I stopped by the Contemporary Resort today to buy a gift for someone. While there, I thought I'd check out the progress of Disney's Bay Lake Tower, a new Vacation Club scheduled to open August 4th of this year.

For the most part, the exterior of the building hasn't changed much since our last update.


Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower


I can report that most of the parking lot has been completed and much of it has reopened to hotel guests.


Bay Lake Tower


Also, glass panels are being added to the elevated walkway between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Towers.


Bay Lake Tower


In the distance, I could see a large expanse of smooth concrete. I was wondering if this might be a tennis court. But this is just speculation on my part.


Bay Lake Tower


Inside the Contemporary I found a few new items to report on.

First, there is now a temporary DVC sales office at the north end of the fourth floor of the Grand Canyon Concourse. I spoke to a representative and was told that guests can take care of all paperwork needed to purchase a Disney DVC at this location. However, she did note that they have no room mock-ups to view. For that you would have to visit their primary sales office located at Saratoga Springs.


Disney Vacation Club Desk

Disney Vacation Club Desk


Also new is Fantasia Market. This shop replaces Concourse Sundries & Spirits and will serve both the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Towers.


Fantasia Market at the Contemporary

Fantasia Market at the Contemporary


For the most part, this shop is much like it was before. It sells reading material, snacks and liquor, and a variety of sundries. The major difference is the addition of several refrigerators. Like other DVC's, a limited number of groceries are always within an easy walking distance of your room. Fantasia Market also will offer the convenience of in-room grocery delivery service to Bay Lake Tower Guests beginning in the summer.


Fantasia Market at the Contemporary

Fantasia Market at the Contemporary

Fantasia Market at the Contemporary

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About Bay Lake Tower

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Bay Lake Tower category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Art of Animation Resort is the previous category.

Beach Club Resort is the next category.

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