Saturday, August 2, 2014


Sunday, May 25, 2014

After yet another night of sleeping in the heat and only spit baths available we were all tired and trying very hard to not be cranky.  I was handing out Pollyanna pills like crazy.

For those of you that aren’t on the Dave Ramsey list ( ) with me Pollyanna pills are something I’m known to disperse on a regular basis.  If you have seen the Disney movie Pollyanna, you already know that Pollyanna always found the silver lining in everything.  This is what I try to do not only for myself and my family but for those on the Dave Ramsey list that are taking Murphy hits right and left.  Of course no pill really exists, but I disperse them anyway.

It was a battle to be a Pollyanna that morning because I had discovered that despite my asking dh to check the tanks often before we left on the trip he hadn’t done it and we had ran  out of propane sometime in the middle of the night.  That meant not only no stove, but no refrigerator when we stopped for the night.  

Luckily we had left home with everything in the fridge surrounded by block ice, refroze the ice each night when camped and all was still safe for consumption.

My Pollyanna pill was we would be in St. Augustine later that day and would have air conditioning in the camper that night and a hot shower even if we didn’t arrive early enough to go to the sites we had planned on visiting that day.

It was that last part that was starting to wear on us.  We would be traveling way out of our way simply to camp for the night, and miss the sites we wanted to see.  Almost in unison Gary and I said.  “What if we went on to Walt Disney World today, do you think we could find a place to camp on Memorial weekend?”

Sean piped up “Even if we had to boondock again we’d be there the first thing in the morning.”

Of course we had those reservations for the St. Augustine campground and most campgrounds will charge you a cancellation fee.  We decided even with the fee it would be cheaper than the extra fuel to go out of our way so I called the campground.

The gentleman that answered the phone was very agreeable and said he’d have no trouble filling our site at all and wouldn’t charge us for cancelling both nights.  

My next call was to our wonderful Naomi Maclern.  It was Memorial Day, but she answered right away and I explained what we wanted to do and why.  She said the chances of getting into Ft. Wilderness on the holiday were pretty slim, but she’d try.  I told her we’d also be willing to park the camper in a WDW parking lot and stay in a value resort for the night.

Our decision made all of our spirits fly through the truck roof.  We were going into the Magic Kingdom that night come heck or high water!  God bless annual passes!

About 30 minutes later Naomi called us back and said the only room should locate for us was around $300 for the one night for the three of us.  I told her thanks, but no thanks we’d work something else out.  I had a plan and I had faith. A true Pollyanna through and through.

Like I said previously we’ve been to WDW numerous times and on more than one trip we have not always had the number of nights we wanted until right up to arriving, and one time after we arrived.  People leave early for numerous reasons and their accommodations become available to the first one that shows up.  If that doesn’t happen Disney has a list of offsite places they can recommend.  Even though it was a holiday, we knew kids still get sick, couples have to get back to work and sites open up.  So we went directly to the Ft. Wilderness gate, arriving about mid afternoon.

As we drove there Naomi kept looking and touching base with us, but she could come up with nothing on property.  I have to give her strong kudos for taking time from her family on a holiday to work so hard for my family.

I am so sorry to say that just recently, July 30, 2014, that I received an email from Naomi that she is no longer working with The Magic For Less Travel Agency.  She has recommended Carol Garcia to us and I plan on working with Carol in the very near future to book our winter and spring trips this year and next back to Walt Disney World.  If she is half as good as Naomi was to us she will be wonderful!

When we arrived at the gate the cast member was friendly and said I was right that most times they will have sites open up at the last minute, but they had a main water line break that weekend and had to move 300 campers OUT!  So they were actually in the negative for campsites already. DANG IT MURPHY! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

I asked if she could recommend other locations and she cheerfully gave me a long list of campgrounds that had their address, phone number and distance from the Magic Kingdom on it.  She said we were welcome to park in the parking lot to make our calls.

Our very first call was to the closest one Tropical Palms, and they had a site available for $55.  Take that Murphy!  

I called Naomi and updated her and thanked her for her time and we went directly to Tropical Palms.

On our way there we spotted one of the new, articulated ( hinged in the middle) WDW buses, it was the only one we saw the whole trip, but still it was interesting to see.  We took it as a sign of good things to come.

Tropical Palms is located in Celebration, an area we first heard about from a resort bus driver the year they were building the area.  I was expecting all the niceties of WDW and was a bit disappointed to see it was much like the area that Walt had wanted to avoid being around Disney World.  Over commercialized to the point of being borderline trashy.  I was concerned about the campground after seeing the area.

You have to really watch for the sign or you will miss the turn onto the side street that will take you down to Tropical Palms.  We had the gps going so we were alerted ¼ mile before the turn and prepared for it.  

I was somewhat relieved when we turned into the resort itself.  It was obviously one of those vacation club type campgrounds, something we stay at often.  Besides numerous campsites they had multi-colored vacation cottages and all was clean and nicely landscaped.

While dh checked us in I ran to the closest restroom to find it clean, well maintained and with decent size showers—I so wanted a shower at this point.

Before I get into what happened next let me say I liked the campground, it had an old fashioned going to the lake for the weekend feel to it, my guys did not like it for the same reason.  They like privacy and rules.

By the time I came back from the restroom dh was in line behind the golf cart attendant that would take us to our site, so the attendant had me just jump on the golf cart with him and we wound our way down to the end of the campground to a grassy site.   He warned me it might be a little difficult to get into, but he figured dh could do it.  

When we got to the site there were pickups parked in it so he started to get out of his cart to ask them to move them.  Before he could an obviously irate woman came and told him he was NOT putting another camper in that area.  

That they had reserved the area for the entire weekend for them and their friends and that because of breaker overload  eight families had to move to elsewhere in the campground and since they had moved those eight out the office had put two sets of strangers in.  She was NOT happy, and I must say I didn’t blame her.

My thought was, “uh, oh will they have another campsite, not Murphy again please!”  The park attendant got on the radio with the office and the grounds keepers to verify the lady’s  tale of woe.  When they told him yes there was a breaker problem in that area he told them to find us another spot immediately at the same price for the night in the “upper area.”

We went from a grassy hard to get into area to one with a concrete patio, and gravel parking.  Close to the restrooms too.  Sweet! (Mental raspberry to Murphy at this point.)

After a  quick camp set up that was basically plugging into the electric, turning on the fridge,  air conditioner and hot water tank we took our much needed showers then headed for the Magic Kingdom!

Since our first trip in 1980 we have only stayed offsite once, hated it and vowed never to do it again.  I know some folks adore staying offsite, but we are true onsite hardcore fans. So it had been over 20 years since we had to park at the Transportation Ticket Center aka: TTC.  Since we weren’t officially resort guests yet this was where we headed.

I knew annual pass holders got to park for free so I had our vouchers ready to show when we got to the gate and was surprised that the attendant was simply waving everyone through.  Not taking fees or checking paperwork on anyone.  We followed the crowd going to the right to find a place to park. This was around 8 pm.

We were surprised there was no attendant to show us where to park either, so dh opted for the end of a row far out where the hips of the dually would be less likely to be hit, Villians-Scar lot. Then we hiked toward the tram.

While we were back at the campsite the standard daily rain shower for WDW had moved through and the temperature had dropped quickly with it and the onset of darkness.  So the walk was pleasant enough, although it left me fairly winded with all I had going on. 
As we approached the tram pick-up point we noticed an attendant on the other side parking cars.  OOPS, guess we parked on the wrong side.  Oh well.
We waited about 20 minutes for the tram and when it finally arrived is when a comedy of errors started.  
Our pickup point was on the right side of the tram drive and since it was bringing people out it was on the left side.  The tram driver gave the usual warning to stay behind the lines and to not board the vehicle, which all of the people waiting complied with.  
Once his passengers disembarked the parking lot attendant told us to board, the tram driver screamed at us to get back behind the line, attendant barked his order, tram driver countered. This continued on for several seconds.  Some of the guests were bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo trying to figure out which to obey.  My family stood still waiting. 
Finally the parking lot attendant marched up to the tram driver, told him how the cow ate the cabbage and that orders had changed and that as a newbie he needed to obey those orders.  It was plenty loud enough for all to hear.  Bad non-Disney type form for certain.We had never seen such behavior with a cast member before.

Finally the tram driver told us to board, he did the turn around that would have taken him to right where we’d of been standing originally and then he went back up the other side to pick up other passengers. 
Once in the TTC we grabbed the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom and headed directly, more or less for Cosmic Rays and dinner. 
First stop, of course was the bag check station.  The guys were bagless so I sent them ahead to get in line at the “Will Call” window so we could pick up our annual passes I had purchased online months earlier while I had my belt bag checked.  That worked out well because right after I joined them it was our turn at the window to get our annual passes.
Hunger was calling so we went straight to Cosmic Rays.  For those of you who have never been to the Magic Kingdom this is a burger joint with different stations where you can order chicken, beef and pork items as well as a few vegetarian items.  The sandwiches come bare bones and you choose from a variety of fixings from the toppings bar. If you click on the hyperlink above you can find out more about Cosmic Rays.

I gave my order of a bbq pork sandwich to ds and I went off in search of a table near the alien, Sunny Eclipse so we could see if his “night club” show had changed any since it was refurbished since our last visit.  It hadn’t, same corny, but fun jokes.
By now I was feeling a little under the weather, so that might have been part of the reason that to me my sandwich was extremely dry.  It tasted fine, but far too dry for my liking.  I cut the sandwich in half, giving the other half to the guys to go with their meals and ate my half with my grapes and carrots.
Dh had the burger and said it was good, ds had the chicken and rib platter and declared it delicious.  We all drank sodas with Disney ice in them.
If you have never been to Disney, let me suggest right now you invest in self filtering water bottles, we have Britas, and generally simply drink water there.  Disney’s water is NASTY!  Therefore, so is their ice.
Naomi had warned us that the People Mover was scheduled to be closed for refurbishment part way through our trip and since we all like riding it we headed there after eating.
The ride seemed longer than we remembered it, but that was fine with us, because it gave us an overview of part of the park.  
After that our curiosity about the new Fantasyland got the better of us and despite it being well after dark we wandered over to see what we could see.  The Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride had only been open a couple of days so the lines were far too long for us to even consider.  Besides we had two fast passes for it later in our trip.  
After a bit we headed back to Auntie-Gravities for soft serve yogurt.  Once again I found a table while the guys got our orders.  I chose one that gave us a view of where the fireworks would show behind the castle.  
As we ate we watched our first fireworks of the trip.  Life was good! I caught Gary taking photos of me as I watched the fireworks.  He said it was because I looked like an amazed child.  I see the photo as I was content to be right where I was.  You decide.

We sat for a bit after the fireworks were over letting the crowds thin, a pattern we tend to follow, and then headed back through Fantasyland to see a little more and then head out.
For some reason, probably the fireworks, the path through the castle was closed, so we went around the left side castle and realized they were projecting a show on the castle.  We found a bench on the bridge and sat and watch it before heading on out of the park.
Back to the TTC and our truck, which seemed 100 miles away at that point, then back to Tropical Palms.
When we got back to the campground it was well after quiet hours, but there were campers enjoying games and kids playing in the street.  This was one of the things the guys didn’t like, and one of the things that reminded me of camping as a child.
 I will admit that some of the parents were a little rude about having to move their various game boards out of the street so we could get to our camper, but not bad.
Tropical Palms was clean, but has one of the most confusing layouts of any campground I have ever been to.  There are areas where you have to circle trees to go on the roads and if you go on the wrong side with your camper you could get stuck.  We made jokes while we were there that we may never find our poor old camper again.
So a day that had started out so weary and tense ended up being very good with us getting a little extra time in the park.
We slept in blessed cool air conditioning and rested well.
Jan who is glad we decided to not go to St. Augustine this trip in OK

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