Sunday, January 28, 2007

Planning our next vacation: Alaska!

I started looking into an Alaska cruise before the holidays and our last family vacation, but Disney Vacation Club (DVC) had not released their point charts for the cruise on Holland America Line (HAL) yet. I finally got around to calling DVC back a couple weeks ago and found out that a 7-night cruise on HAL would be 192 points per adult during "value" season (late May, early June) for an outside cabin. My MIL had been talking about going on a family vacation to Alaska on a cruise ever since I mentioned that HAL was available using our DVC points. With points leftover from last year, this year's allotment of points and "borrowing" from next year, we had enough points to book 4 adults on HAL. We'd just pay cash for the kids. So, we are officially booked on Holland America Line departing Seattle on May 25th.

Our itinerary on the ms Amsterdam Alaska Explorer via Glacier Bay:

Day 0: Seattle, Washington departing at 4:00 pm
Day 1: At Sea

Day 2: Juneau, Alaska arriving 11:00 am, departing 10:30 pm
Day 3: Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising 4:00 pm
Day 4: Sitka, Alaska arriving 8:00 am, departing 5:00 pm
Day 5: Ketchikan, Alaska arriving 7:00 am, departing 1:00 pm
Day 6: Victoria, BC arriving 6:00 pm, departing Midnight
Day 7: Seattle, Washington arriving 7:00 am

Total points used: 768

Total money spent for 2 children and processing fee: $1123.

WOW - a 7 night Alaskan cruise (not including transportation) for 4 adults and 2 children was less than $1200! We'll be cat DA - pretty close to midship in cabins 2553 and 2557 with main dining. There will be 3 of us to each cabin so we'll be splitting up the kids. DH and I are HAL alumni having sailed HAL about 10 years ago. An upgrade to a verandah suite was over $400 per person, so I passed on that. I had mixed feelings about using all of our points for this year and most of our points for next year but we are planning a trip to the summer olympics in China next year (2008) so it didn't bother me as much to use our DVC points this year.

I turned around quickly and bought airline tickets to Seattle through Travelocity arriving on the 24th of May and departing on the 2nd of June. This gives us a day on either end of our trip to arrive/depart and to visit with DH's aunt, uncle, and cousins who live in Seattle. 4 plane tickets: $1660.40 on American Airlines. Our itinerary is pretty decent:

Thursday, May 24: Depart OKC at 1020 am and arrive Seattle 2:05 pm
Saturday, June 2: Depart Seattle 1110 am and arrive OKC 7:25 pm

Cost of entire trip: $2783.40

Next step: booking shore excursions....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My new 2007 Toyota Avalon!

I'd been contemplating replacing my 2001 Avalon for well over a year now. I test drove a 2007 Avalon about 6 months ago and just started to seriously consider trading up when DH dropped the bomb shell that he had hired a contractor to start work on our pool. A new car was put on hold at that point.

I went back to our Toyota dealer about 3 weeks ago and test drove a different 2007 Avalon and was once again hooked. I had already extensively researched the different package options and had looked up online which cars were "available" at our dealer. I had my heart set on a metallic blue 2007 Avalon Limited with all the bells and whistles (dynamic laser cruise control, parking assist, remote start, heated and cooled seats, navigation system, etc) and even looked up Blue Book prices and TMV at Edmunds. I was armed with prices and had even calculated what my "discount" should be when I went for my 2nd test drive. The metallic blue Avalon I was looking at was a demo with over 2500 miles on it already so the dealer made 2 other suggestions and, to my surprise, his "discounts" were even greater than what I had anticipated.

I went back the following day having decided on a silver Avalon with the same bells and whistles but also an XM Satellite radio that I didn't really want. This time, I met with a different dealer - the one who had originally sold me my 2001 Avalon and who was gone the day before at training. He told me that he had "intercepted" a Titanium Avalon Limited at the "port" which could be customized to whatever specifications I wished. The only catch, it would take about 2 weeks to arrive. I had waited for about 1/2 a year already and after discussing options, removing the satellite radio, I did opt for the headrest DVD system. The numbers looked good to me and I applied for Toyota financing right then and there. A few phone calls later that afternoon and I had gotten another slight price break because I insisted on a payment of no more than $550 per month with a minimal down payment. I would also have the windows tinted by our local tint shop prior to picking up the car. So, here's how it broke down:

2007 Titanium Metallic Toyota Avalon 4 Door Sedan Limited with dynamic cruise control, voice activated navigation system, vehicle stability control, traction control, brake assist, extra mile option pkg D (Custom Tape Stripe, Remote Start, Park Pilot, Rear Parking Aid System; First Aid Kit, Mud Guards, Carpet Mat Set (5 Pc), Color Keyed Door Edge Guards, Fabric Guard, Wheel Locks, Glass Break Sensor, Carpet Floor Mats, Rear Trunk Mat, Road Hazard Tire Warranty (3 Years / 36,000 Miles), Roadside Assistance (3 Yrs/36,000 Miles), Extra Mile Extended Life Tires (6 Yrs/100,000 Miles)), vehicle shield package, and headrest DVD players:

MSRP $42294.00
Dealer discount $4089.00
Window Tint $208.00
Additional discount (to bring payments to $550 even) $129.00

Total $38284.00

Due to an ice storm, my Avalon arrived a few days later than expected and then had to be cleaned and the windows tinted. I completed my financing paperwork on my day off and finally went to pick up my new car after a lunch meeting on Friday afternoon - just in time for another snow storm this weekend.

WDW trip report - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

None of the girls had washed their hair the night before so they slept in their "princess" hair-dos and still looked not-too-bad in the morning. I had to use some of DH's gel to fix up DD's hair and added a few bobby pins but otherwise her hair wasn't too messy. After breakfast in the resort, we took the bus to MGM. The kids were particulary giddy this morning and posing for pictures during the bus ride. DD had brought along her "makeup" from BBB and "freshened up" the twins' makeup while on the bus. Sister and BIL were resting this morning as we headed to MGM.

Our first stop was Muppet Vision 3-D which the kids really enjoyed. They commented on how this 3-D movie wasn't as "scary" as some of the other 3-D movies they had seen as there aren't a lot of images that seem to come out at you quickly. There was a rather long wait before the actual show where we stood in the lobby and watched the "pre-show" on the video monitors. After the show, we made our way to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play area where the adults sat for a while and the kids ran, slid, and climbed to their hearts content.

We then went on the Backlot Tour but afterwards, decided to skip the Backlot Express for lunch because the band was a little loud. We walked over to the ABC Commissary which was moderately busy. We were using the dining plan again today and each ordered from the menu as we had plenty of counter service credits. I tried the Tabouleh Wrap which I really liked and had all to myself because nobody else cared for it. I also got to try my mother's curried chicken and rice which was also quite good and spicy. For dessert we shared the strawberry parfaits and chocolate mousse.

My BIL called during lunch to let us know that he was on his way with the twins' stroller. We wanted to make the next showing of the Lights, Motors, Action show that none of us had ever gotten to see before so when BIL finally arrived, we went to the stadium to save him a seat while he grabbed a bite to eat at the Commissary. The show was very impressive and the stadium was completely packed. The host/director pointed out that the drivers went through a new set of tires every few weeks and after watching the show, I can see why. The tires were squealing a lot and oftentimes produced copious amounts of smoke. The precision driving was very very impressive but seemed just slightly less so when we found out that one of the cars had been "switched" during the show to the car with the driver that was facing backwards. No wonder that car was able to go backwards so accurately - squealing around corners and backing into tight spots between 2 other cars.

My BIL ended up missing the entire show because he had dropped his food tray at the Commissary and spent quite some time cleaning the food off of his pants. He met us as we exited the show.

After a brief potty stop, Seth and MIL/FIL decided to go back to the resort to rest. BIL wanted to take the twins on Star Tours but, knowing that neither of my kids were interested, we opted to separate and go on the Great Movie ride. We met up with BIL, the twins, and my mom again afterwards and stopped to get ice cream and popcorn using up some of our snack credits because the line for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid was quite long. My mother bought several bags of nuts with her snack credits to take home with her. At this point, we separated again while I took the kids pin shopping and BIL took the twins on the Tower of Terror. DS wanted to see the Power Rangers at 3:45 pm who would be signing autographs and posing just outside of the Lights, Motors, Action stadium. We arrived a little early and there was a single line starting to form by the Power Rangers sign. Soon, a CM made an announcement that the different colored Power Rangers (pink, red, green, blue, and white) would be positioned in different areas of the street and pointed out where each colored Ranger would be. We were caught by surprise and I didn't honestly know which ranger DS wanted to see first. He picked the red ranger and by the time we located that corner, the line had already gotten quite long. Apparently, the red and pink rangers were the most "popular". We sent DD over to wait in the line for the blue ranger but that line was pretty short and moved quickly. After collecting all of the Power Rangers' autographs (except the Pink Power Ranger) and snapping pictures while the Rangers did their "moves" (DS refused to show me his "moves", lol), we decided to call it a day and head back to the resort.

As we were leaving for the bus stop, DS pointed out a hidden Mickey which the kids are getting really quite good at finding:

Note to self: I need to get a copy of Barrett's book so that we can look for more Hidden Mickey's on our next trip.

We met up with BIL and caught the bus back to Saratoga Springs. BIL said that one twin did not enjoy the Tower of Terror while the other one loved it. He sat in the middle between the two of them and on one arm, one of the girls was crying while on the other arm, the other girl was laughing and screaming. I could just picture it in my head. After they rode the Tower, he left the one twin with my mom and took the other to ride Tower of Terror a second time.

Today was DH's and my 14th wedding anniversary so we had made reservations at our all-time favorite restaurant at Disney: Victoria and Albert's. This was to be the 4th time we were eating at this restaurant and we invited my sister and BIL to join us while the kids would eat-in with the grandparents whom we had supplied with spaghetti and garlic bread.

We got back to the resort and cleaned up putting on nicer outfits for our "adults only" evening. Our reservation was for 6:30 pm but we didn't head out to the bus stop until about 6 pm. We waited and waited for the bus and finally opted to hop on the EPCOT bus to take the monorail to the Grand Floridian resort but the bus driver suggested that we transfer to the bus behind him - the Magic Kingdom bus. Getting my sister's scooter proved again to be a major undertaking and when it was almost 6:30 and we had not yet even reached MK, I called the restaurant to let them know that we were running quite late. When we got to MK, we had to hustle over to the Monorail station which was extremely crowded as people who weren't staying for MVMCP were leaving the park. In the confusion, it was very very difficult to tell where, exactly, my sister was supposed to board on her scooter. DH and I ended up taking the monorail to the Grand Floridian while sister and BIL waited for the next monorail. Apparently, you have to let the CM know that you need assistance getting onto the monorail so that they can pull out the ramp and attach it to the side of the monorail. We had no idea since this was the first time we were riding the monorail with my sister.

DH and I got to the resort and while DH went to let them know that we had arrived, I waited for the next monorail for my sister and BIL to arrive. It was past 7 pm. Fortunately, the CM's at the restaurant were beyond pleasant and went out of their way to assure us that it was time for us to relax and to let them take care of everything. This is one of the reasons why we just love this restaurant so much and, despite the price, keep returning with every trip. Our "Victoria" showed us to our table in the fireplace room. It was wonderfully cozy and, unlike other parts of the restaurant, was quite well lit.

As we sank into our chairs and breathed a sigh of relief, we were given our personalized menus which were folded into an almost leather-feeling black envelope. Our menus, of course, had our names, the date, and said "Happy 14th Anniversary". "Victoria" gave us a run-down of how to order and was surprised to find out that DH and I had already dined here 3 times before. We fully intended to do the wine pairing this evening as did BIL. The menu is Prixe Fixe for $115, the wine pairing was $60 per person. There were 6 courses and under each course, there were 3 or 4 choices. I marveled at the number of delicious-sounding choices and DH and I played our "I-know-what-you're-going-to-order" game. After 14 years of marriage, we were quite good at it. For the Amuse Bouche, we were given a small shrimp dumpling.

Here's what I ate this evening:

Long Island Duck with Tuscan Melon, Grains of Paradise and Minus Eight Vinegar paired with Von Buhl Maria Schneider "Jazz" Riesling, Pfalz 2004.

Pan Roasted Foie Gras and Fuji Apple Tart with Mostarda de Cremona (extra $15.00 charge) paired with Royal Tokaji Azsu 5 Puttonyos, Mad Toakj-Hegyalja 2000. I'm a HUGE fan of Foie Gras - possibly one of the richest and most favorite foods on the planet for me. If it's on the menu, I'm eating it. LOL.

Seared Wild Turbot with Toasted Capers and Meyer Lemon (extra $20 charge) paired with Fess Parker Viognier, Santa Barbara 2002. I had to ask Victoria what a "Turbot" was. Apparently, it's a very large white fish from Europe that was recently caught and Disney purchased a large part of it and added it to the menu. This white fish was the most delicious fish that I have ever had.

Australian "Kobe" Beef Tenderloin with Lobster and Artichoke Risotto (extra $30 charge) paired with Chateau Cantemerle, Haut Medoc 2003. This beef was so incredibly tender and flavorful. I love fine food and know what my likes and dislikes are but I'm no food critic and I'm sure my words are not doing these foods justice.

Comte Saint Antoine, Gorgonzola Dolce, and Pierre Robert cheese plate paired with Cockburn's 10 year old Tawny Porto

Dessert was the Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle which is unusual for me but the combination of chocolate and Kona intrigued me. This was, of course, delicious and rich.

After dinner, Albert brought the famous glass coffee pot which looks like an fat hour-glass. The water is heated in the lower chamber by an open flame and when the water boils, it rises through the glass tube into the top chamber which is filled with coffee grounds. As the coffee percolates and the water leaves the lower chamber, the flame is extinguished and the coffee returns to the bottom chamber which has a handle on it. The upper chamber is removed and set aside as the coffee is poured. The coffee is even better than the entertainment value. Of course, DH, BIL and I have all had quite a bit of wine by this point and I honestly don't remember the pot percolating. LOL. Victoria graciously offers to take a few pictures for us and the ladies are presented with a long-stem rose.

What a beautiful, wonderful, and relaxed evening. We stop by to look at the famous Gingerbread House in the lobby and then head back to Saratoga Springs for the evening.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

WDW trip report - Monday, December 11, 2006

Rhys finally has "time" to work on his homework this morning as the girls get ready to head into DTD for their appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique scheduled for 9:30.
Here's where I made a major faux pas in my extensive, 12-month-long planning for this whole trip. My sister had the twins dressed in a Cinderella and Belle outfit and they looked, of course, very cute. I figured that Amina, being 9 1/2, had outgrown wanting to do the dress up thing. The Aurora dress that she had gotten for her birthday 2 years ago during our last WDW trip had long-since been outgrown so I had not brought it along. DD never did say anything to me even though she knew we had an appointment at the boutique and I had shown her pictures online of other girls having their hair/makeup/nails done. She had already picked out the Fairy Tale Princess look for her appointment in advance.
Well, we walk to DTD this time taking the paved trail and arrive at BBB right on time and get our pager. I start browsing through the store and DD finds me a few minutes later and declares that she has found an Aurora dress that she really really (did I say really?) liked. Uh oh. Pretty soon, the tears start pouring as she realizes that I had not planned on buying her a dress and that she didn't have enough to money to buy it herself. LESSON LEARNED: Little girls probably outgrow the need to dress up by the time they reach college. Ugh, what a disaster and I'm feeling like the worst mommy in the world. I'm thinking quickly and after many tears we strike a bargain. DD can have the dress but this is her Halloween costume this Fall - I won't be buying her another costume this year. She jumps for joy and we buy the dress ($69 - holy cow!) which she quickly snatches up and takes to the bathroom to change into. The day is saved. She does, however, graciously decline the matching shoes. LOL.

The princesses' "before" picture.

Soon thereafter, our pager goes off and the girls are lead into the parlor meeting their FGMIT. Amina's FGMIT is Pennie who has been with Disney for over 20 years and is just starting to contemplate retirement. She requested the transfer to BBB when the position/store first opened and thought it was the best role that she's played to date.

Pennie's hands moved quickly and skillfully. Amina gets her faux nails first which she had picked out while I was distracted taking pictures of her cousins. I would have advised opting for the nail polish but she was very excited about her new nails which Pennie had glued to her fingertips.

Next, makeup was applied: blue eyeshadow, blush, and sparkly lip gloss.

Pennie then moved onto her hair which had quite a few tangles hiding underneath and it took some time to get them unsnarled. When she finally combed her hair out, she applied a TON of gel to the front of her hair and pulled it back up into a tight ponytail and applied her small diamond tiara.
I was wondering how she was going to put her hair up into a "bun" and was interested to see her put several teensy little rubber bands down the length of her ponytail and then ROLL her hair up into a "bun". A little fluffing and her hair was set.

The crowning touch was her Mickey head barette in the back.

Pennie then bestowed Amina's BBB sash and tied the corner with a rubber band and secured it to her dress with a bobby pin. She was so beautiful.

Pennie then bent over and asked if she was ready to see herself in the mirror.

She sprinkled her with Pixie Dust as Amina admired herself in the mirror for the first time. It was another moment on the trip that brought tears came to my eyes. Amina was so thrilled all she could was just smile and never got tired of posing for a myriad of pictures after the session.
Her cousins had opted for the Diva Princess look and soon, all 3 girls were done and it was time to leave.
We stopped by the statue of Aurora outside the store and Amina posed for one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip - the picture of my princess with her princess.

We walked back to the resort with our princesses in tow and my sister, BIL, mom, and the twins stay in so the twins can nap this afternoon because we'll be up late tonight at MVMCP. We pick up the "boys" (and grandma) and hopped a bus for MK.
Today, we're scheduled for Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Adventureland. Our first order of business, though, is to pick up Jungle Cruise fastpasses and lunch. I really want to try El Pirata and El Perico but this counterservice restaurant is closed and we wander into the Pecos Bill cafe which is pretty crowded. I have the vegetarian burger with carrots as the others have the cheeseburgers, bbq beef sandwich, and chicken wrap. The food is okay although the vegetarian burger really isn't bad and we (especially MIL) loves the toppings bar which has condiments, sauteed onions, mushrooms, and lettuce/tomatoes.
During lunch, I convince Amina to ride POTC which she considers a "roller coaster" because of the initial drop in the ride. I tell Amina that I overheard another family talking about POTC and that they had changed the ride adding Jack Sparrow's character and "smoothing" out the drop in the ride making it into a "slide". She bought it hook, line, and sinker.
We head over to POTC and the wait is very short. As we climb into the boat, Amina comments on how they have changed the ride and taken away the safety lap bars now and that if the ride really had a drop, there would have been safety lap bars left in them. LOL. She seats herself between her Mimi and Papa and hook her arms around theirs "just in case".
The ride goes just fine and I really enjoy the new parts including the Davy Jones "mist" and the Jack Sparrow characters. As we exit the ride, Amina comments on how the ride was "so much better" now that they had changed the drop - after all, it was just a "slide" now and (gasp) kinda fun.
We purchase a few things in the POTC gift shop - DD buys a pirate Minnie ears for a friend of hers and I find a Soccer Princess pin for DD. FIL has fun trying on hats.

After seeing the Tiki Room show, we use our fast passes for Jungle Cruise and the kids are rolling in the aisles as our boat captain rolls through his repertoire of corny jokes. We stop to try on more hats and I finally buy the Christmas Minnie ears that I've been eyeing all over the park just in time for our night at MVMCP tonight.
We ride the Liberty Square Riverboat which we've never actually been on and convince the kids to ride Haunted Mansion which, surprisingly, they agree to do. After Haunted Mansion, we finally get around to trying something that I've only read about: a Dole Whip at Aloha Isle. I order the Pineapple Float which is a Dole Whip with pineapple juice and my family orders the Dole Whip soft serves using our dining plan snack credits. It was delicious and I think the kids ate more of it than I did.
We've gone on the rides we wanted to and decide to head over to Main Street to do some shopping when BIL calls to tell us that they have arrived at the park. I meet up with them as everyone else does some shopping and we round everyone up to go over and get our wristbands for MVMCP. We head over to an area near the rose garden and wait briefly in line until the CM scans our MVMCP passes and gives each of us a yellow wristband along with a map detailing the locations of the shows, snacks, etc for the party. We walk back over to Main Street near City Hall and wait for the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 pm while munching on popcorn that DS insists on getting. The show is pretty cute and it looks like they've pulled a bunch of kids out of the audience to be in the show. After some singing and Christmas Carols, the tree is lit and we head over to Tony's Town Square restaurant where we have ADR for 5:30 pm.
We're a little early and the kids watch tv in the restaurant lobby as we wait for our time and for BIL to arrive with his family. We're soon seated at 2 separate tables and place our orders. I have the Calamari for an appetizer and order the Chicken Florentine for an entree. I'm a little put out by our waiter who seems to be in a serious rush practically throwing our food at us and rushing us through our meal. The food was so-so. I had Tiramisu for dessert which was pretty good.
After dinner, we waited for my BIL's father and step-mother who lived in Orlando to arrive as Mimi and Papa decide to turn in early and head back to the resort. As we waited, I handed out the glow bracelets and necklaces that I had picked up at the Dollar Tree and brought along. Everyone had a lot of fun "dressing up" with the bracelets and necklaces and I'm sure we looked pretty funny walking through the park "glowing".
The parade was just about to start so we stake out a spot near the hub which turned out to be a prime viewing spot. The parade was beautiful. There's a little time before the fireworks show so we decide to go on some rides rather than try to make the holiday shows. We decide on POTC but BIL's dad and step-mom need to stop for a bite to eat so we wait for them to meet us at POTC and I'm worried that we're going to miss the fireworks show. The wait for POTC is short and DD takes her cousins by the hand telling them that the ride is really fun and to not worry because it's just a "slide" that the boat goes down in the beginning. When we get off the ride, the fireworks have already started and it's hard to find a good viewing spot where we were. We moved over towards BTMRR and caught the rest of the fireworks show which was truly spectacular and quite different from the Wishes fireworks show we had seen the first night.
After the fireworks, BIL wants to take the twins on BTMRR but neither DD nor DS are interested so we leave my kids with my mom and head over to ride BTMRR. BIL's dad and step-mom call it a night after the first ride but the twins had enjoyed the ride so much that we got in line and rode it again. DS has fallen asleep on a bench when we get back and it's time to call it a night.
Thank goodness for the twin stroller - it came in handy to get DS out of the park as he's getting pretty heavy to carry around. We take the bus back to the resort and turn in the for the night.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

WDW trip report - Sunday, December 10, 2006

This morning, the first question DS posed to me was: "Mom, can I do some of my homework today?" Without thinking I told him: "No honey, we don't have time to do that". What did I say??? I laughed at myself for actually saying this to DS, after all, he was right, he did have homework to do since he was missing 6 days of school and we had not yet set aside time to work on any of it. We plan on working on his homework tomorrow and we have breakfast in again this morning at the resort (Kashi Go Lean Crunch for me with FF, lactose free milk, sliced banana, and a coffee with some Bolthouse Mocha Cappuccino protein drink and Mocha flavored Splenda - my favorite breakfast). At least it made me feel *slightly* better that my breakfasts were all relatively healthy. LOL. We head out to EPCOT this morning with my mom and the twins. BIL and my sister are both sleeping in this morning.

We take the bus to EPCOT and find our Legacy Tile to show the kids and grandparents. DH and I had bought our Legacy Tile back in 2002 when we visited WDW on our 10th wedding anniversary. The kids weren't with us so instead of putting pictures on our tile, we had all of our names put on it. The kids got a kick out of seeing the tile with their names on it when we visited in 2004 and were proud to point it out to their cousins and grandparents.

I sent the rest of our party on to the Honey I Shrunk the Audience show while I ran to the Land to get us all Soarin' fastpasses. I met up with them in the holding area and we were soon greeted by the cast member who said.... "HELLO.OOOO....FAMILY". (We were the only ones waiting to see the show). It was really funny and we all giggled. We enjoyed the show and I was a little surprised at how few people were in the audience for the show. We then visited Figment next door and, after the ride, emailed pictures to family using the Kodak displays.

By this time, BIL and my sister were arriving at the park and I had their parkhopper passes so I ran out to the entrance to meet them while the rest of the family headed on to the Seas to ride the new Nemo ride. BIL, sister and I arrived at the Seas and stopped to take pictures of the seagulls in front. I point out to BIL and sis that if you wait long enough, the seagulls soon say: "MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE.....". They thought it was beyond funny and the "MINE" line gets used over and over again for the rest of the trip. We board the clam shells quickly since they let sister park her scooter and "cut" in line to get on the ride right away. The ride is cute and we soon get off and try to locate the rest of the family. The line for Turtle Talk with Crush is extremely long so we skip it and find the rest of the family did the same and were sitting outside waiting for us.

We head over the to the Land to use our Soarin' fastpasses and waited for about 20 minutes before getting on the ride. The family enjoys the ride so much that we get fastpasses for later so we can return and ride again. Next is the Living With the Land boat ride - we get on very quickly as we bypass the line following behind sister on her scooter. FIL is very impressed with this ride and wants to take the behind-the-scenes-tour with DH. At first, I'm skeptical that we can get them on the tour on such short notice but I call reservations during lunch and make arrangements very easily for the 2 of them to take the tour that afternoon. DH and I had taken this behind-the-scenes tour in 2002 and found it very very interesting. FIL has an interest/hobby in growing veggies and such so this tour is right up his alley.

We have lunch at Sunshine Seasons in the Land and I have to say that this was my favorite counter service meal of the entire trip. The choices are astounding and we have so much food it's just obscene. Everyone splits up to order what they want but MIL and I decide to get an assortment of foods to share so we get several sandwiches: Grilled Vegetable Cuban Sandwich,
Black Forest Ham and Salami Grinder, Turkey and Muenster Cheese on Foccacia with Chipotle Mayonnaise. For dessert, we ordered from the bakery and had a huge rice crispy treat (my favorite), chocolate cake, and cheesecake. All of this food was on the dining plan and was just delicious (so delicious that I forgot to take a picture until we were almost done!).

After lunch, DH and FIL go on their tour, sister returns to the resort to rest, and the rest of us head to Spaceship Earth - DD's favorite ride.

We then head to Innoventions and the kids have fun playing a variety of games especially Rhys who is, like any boy his age, a serious computer game addict.

We gather to "build a robot" and I team up with one of the twins (still haven't figured out which one it was, lol). The game is sponsored by the plastic industry and we choose attributes for our robot and give it a name. Then, everyone playing the game votes on which robot they like the best in a beauty pageant of sorts. We then get briefed on how the robot race will work - we stand on a pad and can run in place to make the computerized robots go forward, we can navigate right and left by stepping on the corresponding pads on the floor and can make the robot jump. We get to practice a bit and it's obvious that this is going to be a little tough to do. The race gets under way and I'm running like crazy while my niece controls the jumping. We have to navigate around barriers, jump over walls, through nets, and through fire pits. I'm exhausted by the time we get to the finish line but all the hard work pays off as we take 2nd place in the race. We also take 2nd place in the "style pageant".

After we get done, everyone is invited to make their own plastic robots which we take home with us.

We visit Club Cool to try all of the different types of Coke products from around the world. Some of them really aren't too bad but a few are just horrible including the one from Italy. BIL and I check out the line for Test Track and it's very long at this point. We meet up with DH and FIL who enjoyed their tour and after riding Soarin' one more time using our fastpasses, we headed towards the Canada Pavilion. We were a little early for our 6:30 pm reservation at Le Cellier so we took the kids to the Kidcot station at Canada and they enjoyed coloring their masks. At 6:30, I went to check-in for our reservation and were told that they were running about 20 minutes late. I returned 30 minutes later to the check-in podium and was told that our table was being cleaned up. After another 20 minutes, we were finally called and seated at our table. It's past 7:30 by the time we finally get settled down and place our orders. This is the longest we've ever had to wait with an ADR but it was worth the wait.

DH orders a Canadian dark beer called "Trois Pistoles" and declares it's the best beer he's ever had. Our waiter tells us that the company who brews this beer only exports their product to Disney and nobody else. For appetizers, I really liked the Cheddar Cheese soup that MIL and DD ordered. I had the Crab and Salmon Timbale - smoked salmon layered with Canadian rock crab, mascarpone cheese, and citrus syrup. I was great. I then order the filet which is absolutely delicious and have the creme brulee for dessert which was pretty good.

DD has the ice cream sundae and she declares the sprinkles on her sundae the best that she's ever had. 2 "bests" in one meal - wow.

We are all very impressed with this restaurant and head back to the resort beyond satisfied with plans to visit again on our next trip - Le Cellier has become one of our new favorites despite our long wait.