It is hard to believe it is December 31, 2019 which is not only the last day of 2019 but the last day of the decade.
Where has the time gone? Why does it seem like it goes faster and faster as we get older and older?
We enjoyed another good sleep. It helps to walk as much as we did yesterday.
Front view of the main building of the Grand Floridian. Some rooms are located in this building, along with two of the club floor lounges and several stores and other public areas.
This is also the building where the large Ginger Bread House and Christmas Tree has been on display.
One sad note. Last night we were on line to take the Boat back to the Grand Floridian when an announcement was made that service was temporarily suspended. Hearing this I suggested we take the Monorail back to the Hotel which we did. While on the Monorail a woman we were speaking with got a call from her sister saying someone had fallen off one of the ships. This is why the service was stopped. Before boarding the bus to Hollywood Studios we were speaking to one of the Cast Members who said it was a suicide and on the bus I got more information on this. Evidently a woman age 56 jumped off and tried to commit suicide. The good news is she survived. The sad news is why she tried to take her life. We hope she gets the help she so desperately needs.
After enjoying breakfast at the Club Lounge we got ready for our first visit to Hollywood Studios of this trip. We have been there twice before when it was called MGM studios.
From the resort we took the Disney Bus over to Hollywood Studios. We walked around until the family arrived. It was very busy because many people come for the Star Wars rides. The good news is they open the park at 6:00 AM with Star Wars in mind. We got there around 8:30 AM and some people were already leaving the park.
When the family arrived we went on some rides and to some shows. Some of us went to a cars show while others went to other shows. Eric, Gui, Jackson, Andre and Keith went on Star Tours which we have other times at both Disney Parks.
We all enjoyed lunch together and Eric and family stayed to go to another show and Jennifer and family went back to the hotel with us as they had a show later in the day.
Weather was great with highs in the 60's with a mix of overcast and full sun.
We are posting early today. May the force be with you and may you have a very safe, health and Happy New Year.
Anne Marie & Keith
The grandchildren had a lot of energy as they enjoyed the park after dinner. Like us they did sleep well after a day of travel and time at the Magic Kingdom.
We enjoyed a good nights sleep at the Hotel. We were very tired and other than fire works we could not hear any noise. We do have a beautiful and magical view of the fire works as we can see the Magic Castle from our room.
The room is beautiful and in addition to the two bedrooms for ourselves and our son Eric's family and has a beautiful living area.
There are three club floor lounges at the hotel. One is in the building adjacent to ours where our daughter and family are staying. The other two are in the main building.
The lounge serves an array of items; Grand Beginnings (breakfast) 7:00 to 10:30 AM, Refreshments (lunch , beverages, snacks) 11:30 AM until 3:30 PM, Afternoon Tea (snacks/desserts), Twilight Refreshers 5:00 to 7:00 PM (appetizers and other food items) with a Cordial and Dessert set-up from 8:00 to 10:00 PM. The lounge is open the other hours with water, soft drinks and fruit available.
We enjoyed breakfast at the lounge and then got ready for our first full day at the Park. A couple of photos of the Grand Floridian.
We took the Monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. The two of us went on three rides. Our son and family met us and we went on some rides with them including two rides we arranged with Fast Pass. Everyone had a great time and Preston went on one ride with his Grandad.
All of us met up with Jennifer and family and had lunch together. There was a little confusion and we got more French fries than we asked for. LOL. If you were wondering none for the two of us. On the health front the children menu items are nutritious and pretty healthy. Kudos to Disney.
We took one of the boats back to the hotel while the family stayed at Disney World. Later we returned to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the family and went on rides, watched the parade, had dinner together and saw from the restaurant a fire works display which was a practice run for New Years Eve.
We are having a fabulous tie and most importantly the family is too. We want the to have the time of their live and to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Anne Marie & Keith
We enjoyed a nice dinner last night, and before we knew it was time to get to sleep. We enjoyed another delicious dinner.
The other day we had a decision to make. It's similar to coming to a fork in the road where you are not 100% sure where to turn. You ask yourself to a go left or do I go right? We had to decide do we fly on Saturday as planned or do we fly in one day early due to the weather forecasts. Once we made the decision to fly in one day early we decided we would not second guess ourselves. In other words if the flight was delayed we likely made the right decision. If the flight was on-time we still felt under the circumstances it was better to be safe than sorry.
As it turned out we made a wise decision to move up our flight by one day. Although the forecast was not completely correct it did impact several flights including the one we would have taken. Winds picked up at and near the hub airport along with severe winds and lightening and thunder. The flight we would have been on originate at the hub airport and goes between the two airports. The storm resulted in a five hour delay of the flight. While we would have made do with this our concern was if the flight we were on would be cancelled which can easily occur should the weather not only be severe but last an even longer time.
We were up early to start the day. One of the nice features of this hotel is the walk to the airline check-in counter is one minute from the hotel. When we got in the hotel elevator a couple already there said they got in at midnight last night and two other couples who were arriving from other cities had the same experience.
Following flight check-in a made our way to security. Once again with Global Entry which includes TSA Pre Check we got through security quickly. We took the airport sky-link which is a light train system operating 24 hours a day providing connection between all the airport terminals. We proceeded to the airline club lounge for a breakfast. Only surprise was no cereal. We had scrambled eggs with an English muffin, coffee and water.
Two ironies related to the flight. There is a very nice person who used to work in Keith's organization. We hadn't seen her since 2003. Last year on our way home from a Crystal Symphony Cruise we saw her and her lovely family at the Hub airport as we were waiting at baggage claim. Today as we were waiting in line to board she and her family come up to say hello. Yes, they are on the same flight. For months Keith has wanted to watch the movie Yesterday since it features music of the Beatles. Guess what. It's one of the movie choices on our flight.
We departed the airport a little later than the schedule but we landed on time. It was full which is pretty much the norm for most flights these days.
Each family member arrived to Orlando Airport on three different flights. Our son's family flight arrived first. Our flight and the on for our daughter's family arrived within thirty minutes of one another.
Keith made arrangements with Walt Disney World for what they call a "Minnie" van for each family. They provided car seats for the grandchildren other than Andre who no longer requires one. Each family was met at baggage claim by a representative from Disney World.
Like most things Disney does things up right. The car service is an example of that. After making the bookings Keith received confirming e-mails which is the norm for most companies. Closer to the trip is where Disney distinguished themselves. We received an e-mail a few days ago reconfirming the information and noting a day before pickup a member would contact Keith to go over everything. Yesterday Keith receive the call and the member went through everything and answered any questions Keith had. He noted we would receive two sets (one per booking for a total of six e-mails) the morning of pickup. The first one was reconfirming the details and noting where the driver would meet us. Later Keith received e-mails with each of the drivers telephone numbers in case we can't find them at baggage claim.
They drove us to the Grand Floridian Resort Hotel where we will spend the next seven days/six nights.
The Grand Floridian opened in 1988. We have stayed here twice with Jennifer and Eric. The hotel contains 867 rooms.
The hotel has a Victorian look of Florida beach hotels built in the last 19th century and early 20th century. They modeled its exterior after the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and Hotel de Coronado in Coronado, California.
The resort sits on the shore of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon near the Magic Kingdom.
Keith selected the hotel because it has special meaning to us when we stayed here on two different occasions with Jennifer and Eric.
We thought we would provide some Walt Disney World History.
Walt Disney World (WDW) opened October 1, 1971, sixteen years after Walt Disney Land opened its doors on October 7, 1955.
This venue was long in the making. In fact, the process began in 1959. Walt Disney recognized that many visitors to Disney Land came from west of the Mississippi. In time, the focus became Florida.
Unlike Disney Land which had limited land allowing many commercial enterprises to construct facilities all around the permitter of Disney Land, Walt Disney secured 30,000+ acres of land to prevent this from happening to the Florida venue.
Given the large number of landowner's involved, to minimize land speculation, Walt Disney used lots of dummy corporations to acquire the land.
Walt Disney was intimately involved with the planning of WDW for several years but never saw his dream come to fruition. He passed in December 1966. His brother and business partner Roy O. Disney postponed his own retirement to oversee Phase 1 of WDW. Ironically, Roy died less than three months after the opening of WDW.
WDW opened with Magic Kingdom, and three on-site hotels; Disney's Contemporary, Polynesian, and For Wilderness Resorts. 1972 thru 1976 saw the openings of Disney's Village Resort, The Golf Resort Discovery Island, Walt Disney's Village Marketplace and Disney's River Country, respectively. Epcot Center opened in 1982 (later named Epcot in 1996), Disney MGM Studios opened in 1989 along with Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island. 1992 brought the opening of Bonnet Creek Golf Club, followed by Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Wedding Pavilion and Walt Disney World Speedway in 1995. In 1996 Disney's Institute and Disney's Boardwalk opened. Disney's Wide World Of Sports Complex and Downtown Disney West side opened in 1997 and 1998 saw the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney Quest. 2012 brought Phase 1 of Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion followed by Phase 2 in 2014. Since then other new areas of opened; Disney Springs, Pandora - The World of Avatar, Toy Story Land and this year Star War's: Galaxy's Edge.
There are close to 30 resorts/hotels on the property with three more already planned one of which opens in 2019.
While waiting for our room to be ready we went to the Club Lounge. After getting settled in the room we went over to Magic Kingdom by Monorail. Both families were already at the Magic Kingdom.
We walked around and the two of us went to the Carrousel of Progress. We each went to see it with our respective families in 1964 at The World's Fair in Flushing, New York. Several years ago we saw it at Disneyland and at Disney World. It is no longer located at Disneyland and the last time we were at Disney World it was not open. It was fun to reminisce about this and Anne Marie sang some of the tunes.
Afterwards we met the entire family for dinner. We then took a boat over to our hotel while the children stayed at the Magic Kingdom.
We are off to a great start of this adventure. More tomorrow.
Anne Marie & Keith
Before dinner we took along walk inside and outside the airport. Outside was preferable to get some fresh air.
We enjoyed a very nice meal at the hotel restaurant. We have dined here before and have found the service, cuisine and overall ambience to be enjoyable. Last night was no exception.
We were not alone and several people dined there last evening.
After 42 years of marriage, we agree on many things and that includes many of the items we enjoy eating. Therefore, it was not much of a surprise that we had the same meal which was two courses of salad and salmon.
We reviewed the menu via a touch screen device.
The salad was a tasty and unique blend of salad items accompanies by a tasty salad dressing. This included local market greens, shaved vegetables, torn herbs with an amazing horseradish pean cheddar and a pecan vinaigrette.
The salmon was a thick cut cooked to perfection. It included a tasty roasted jalapeño sauce. Yummy.
We differed on the wine. A glass of Cabernet for Keith and Riesling for Anne Marie.
The hotel is relatively sound-proof with no outside noise of aircraft taking off, landing or taxiing to and from the gate.
Since we revised our plans to stay at this hotel starting on Friday, it was too late to make plans to visit with some friends who live in the area given the short notice.
Instead, we enjoyed a leisurely day at the hotel reading, writing, walking and a visit to their fitness center along with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We were very impressed with the Fitness Center.
We found several areas to walk and we talked non-stop. After 42+ years of marriage we never run out of things to talk about. Keith is reminded during our honeymoon we were having dinner at the hotel restaurant in Bermuda. He remembers a couple sitting next to us who were quite a bit older than us. Probably younger than we are today. LOL. They never said a word throughout dinner and Keith thought "this will never happen to us".
We each enjoyed a tasty salad entree with Salmon for Keith and Chicken for Anne Marie.
Tomorrow we fly to Orlando and make our way to Disney World for the family time getaway. The family is very excited about this adventure.
Disney World here we come.
Anne Marie & Keith
Originally, we planned to stay over this evening at a hotel at our regional airport. However we decided to revise our travel plans.
Since we need to take two different planes to get to Orlando we broke this up into two different days of flying as we were concerned about connections this time of year due to wintry weather. Little did we know Mother Nature decided to delay the winter weather for another week and not this week.
Our first flight was for this Saturday. We rearranged our flights to take the first flight today. One of the reasons we pulled up the flight was severe thunderstorms were in the forecast for Saturday and we know from experience it can result in flight delays and cancellations.
We were picked up this morning by a private car service which took us from our home to our regional airport. The drive took forty-five minutes. Traffic was lighter than normal due to many people being off from work and schools closed for the holidays.
Upon arrival we checked in at the airline ticket counter, and went through security. Since we both have Global Entry which includes TSA Pre Check getting through security was quick.
We stopped off at the book/magazine store. Earlier this year we were photographed as part of a new advertising campaign for Crystal Cruise featuring actual guests and member of the crew. Recently we were told the advertisement with our photo would be running in a variety of magazines for January including some travel magazine publications plus other ones. A friend was kind enough to send us one of the advertisements. We do enjoy reading travel magazines so we purchased three of them that included the advertisement.
From there we made our way to the club lounge for the airline we fly.
We read and wrote and also had salad entrees. You know we had to sneak in a food photo. More to come over the next several weeks. LOL.
The good news is our flight was on time and we arrived a few minutes early.
For the next two nights we are staying at a hotel at one of the major hubs for the airline we use. For seventeen years we lived with an hour of this airport.
This means the journey begins very slowly. This will all change upon arrival to Disney World. We will be in high gear between our children and spouses and those four grandchildren who are full of energy.
We are very happy that the journey has started and we look forward to making memories that will last a lifetime.
Anne Marie & Keith
The last several days have gone by in a blink of an eye between getting ready for the new adventure and having family with us. Our family from Australia was with us for a few days and our family who lives a couple of hours from our home visited one of the days. For the first time since June of 2017 everyone was here under one roof.
Keith also closed out the year by teaching four group Fitness Classes on Monday and Tuesday at one of our on-site Fitness Centers. This included two indoor cycling classes, one HIIT class (High Intensity Interval Training) and one Cross Training Class.
Yes, we are ready to go. We have shipped luggage and completed the rest of the packing. The items on the things to do lists are checked with the exception of a handful of items which will be completed the morning we leave.
Cruise Documents were received 30 days prior to the start of the cruise. They came in a newly designed travel wallet.
As we've done in the past, we used a luggage service to ship some luggage for delivery to Crystal Serenity the day we board. Anne Marie prepared a detailed listing of all items packed in each suitcase. Each list is numbered to correspond with the number on the respective suitcase.
She also does this for luggage we take with us.
Planning a trip such as this one is a team effort. This includes those items each of us doe along with assistance from others.
We want to thank our wonderful travel specialist Gerri for all her help along with her terrific assistants Ashley, Gabby & Cassandra. Gerri and her team are amazing.
There are many people from departments across Crystal Cruises to thank. This includes personnel from reservations, documentation services, on-board guest services, land programs, and members across team Crystal Serenity. Thank you so much.
We want to close with some final thoughts.
We love to travel and look forward to each adventure. This trip is no exception and has special meaning for us for a couple of reasons.
We love having the family together with us and this trip provides the opportunity to bring the family together for a fun-filled week. This is more of a challenge with one of the families living over 9,000 miles away.
Health & Wellness
We had some medical challenges a few weeks before Anne Marie's surgery was scheduled including one scare from one of the test results. This made us wonder if travel of any kind was in our future.
The health issues reinforce two core beliefs we share. This includes to not put off until tomorrow those things you can do today and to take the glass is half full approach. In other words we believe in making the most of each day and focusing on all that is good and to appreciate each day we have together.
In fact, health related items were the catalyst for us taking our first World Cruise when Anne Marie's sister was diagnosed with stage 5 cancer and passed at a very young age. With this and the loss of parents who passed way too early we decided to take our first World Cruise sooner rather than later.
Two photos from our first World Cruise in 2007. These related to the World Games which is part of each Crystal Cruises World Cruise. One of the two Olympians on-board for the World Games was Dorothy Hamill. For many years Anne Marie had the Dorothy Hamill hairstyle which was very popular during and after she won the Gold at the Olympics. We were fortunate to sail with this amazing person a few years later on a subsequent World Cruise.
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Going forward we will post daily.
Blogging daily does have its set of challenges which includes not enough time in the day to proofread. It is not possible to reread what we write so we ask your understanding for any grammatical errors and/or typos as we expect to make several of them.
We are taking our time to reach Orlando. This includes starting our trip as we often do by staying at a hotel closely to the airport. Rather than flying on one day we will stay over at another airport hotel. With no direct flights on our preferred carrier and the chance of wintry weather this time of year we chose to break the travel up. Starting today we will Blog daily throughout the adventure.
As we close out today's Blog entry we want to wish each of you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season. May 2020 be the best yet.
Anne Marie & Keith