As of January 1, 2019, we have closed our forums. This is a decision we did not come to lightly, but it is necessary. The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk. The server software itself must be updated, and it cannot be without removing the forums.
So it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-running forums. They came online in 2000 and brought together so many wonderful Disney fans. We had friendships form, careers launch, couples marry, children born ... all because of this amazing community.
Thank you to each of you who were a part of this community. You made it possible.
And a very special thank you to our Guides (moderators), past and present, who kept our forums a happy place to be. You are the glue that held everything together, and we are forever grateful to you. Thank you aliceinwdw, Caldercup, MrsM, WillCAD, Fortissimo, GingerJ, HiddenMickey, CRCrazy, Eeyoresmom, disneyknut, disneydani, Cam22, chezp, WDWfan, Luvsun, KMB733, rescuesk, OhToodles!, Colexis Mom, lfredsbo, HiddenMickey, DrDolphin, DopeyGirl, duck addict, Disneybine, PixieMichele, Sandra Bostwick, Eeyore Tattoo, DyanKJ130, Suzy Q'Disney, LilMarcieMouse, AllisonG, Belle*, Chrissi, Brant, DawnDenise, Crystalloubear, Disneymom9092, FanOfMickey, Goofy4Goofy, GoofyMom, Home4us123, iamgrumpy, ilovedisney247, Jennifer2003, Jenny Pooh, KrisLuvsDisney, Ladyt, Laughaholic88, LauraBelle Hime, Lilianna, LizardCop, Loobyoxlip, lukeandbrooksmom, marisag, michnash, MickeyMAC, OffKilter_Lynn, PamelaK, Poor_Eeyore, ripkensnana, RobDVC, SHEANA1226, Shell of the South, snoozin, Statelady01, Tara O'Hara, tigger22, Tink and Co., Tinkerbelz, WDWJAMBA, wdwlovers, Wendyismyname, whoSEZ, WildforWD, and WvuGrrrl. You made the magic.
We want to personally thank Sara Varney, who coordinated our community for many years (among so many other things she did for us), and Cheryl Pendry, our Message Board Manager who helped train our Guides, and Ginger Jabour, who helped us with the PassPorter-specific forums and Live! Guides. Thank you for your time, energy, and enthusiasm. You made it all happen.
There are other changes as well.
Why? Well, the world has changed. And change with it, we must. The lyrics to "We Go On" for IllumiNations say it best:
We go on to the joy and through the tears
We go on to discover new frontiers
Moving on with the current of the years.
We go on
Moving forward now as one
Moving on with a spirit born to run
Ever on with each rising sun.
To a new day, we go on.
It's time to move on and move forward.
PassPorter is a small business, and for many years it supported our family. But the world changed, print books took a backseat to the Internet, and for a long time now it has been unable to make ends meet. We've had to find new ways to support our family, which means new careers and less and less time available to devote to our first baby, PassPorter.
But eventually, we must move on and move forward. It is the right thing to do.
So we are retiring this newsletter, as we simply cannot keep up with it. Many thanks to Mouse Fan Travel who supported it all these years, to All Ears and MousePlanet who helped us with news, to our many article contributors, and -- most importantly -- to Sara Varney who edited our newsletter so wonderfully for years and years.
And we are no longer charging for the Live Guides. If you have a subscription, it's yours to keep for the lifetime of the Live Guides at no additional cost. The Live Guides will stay online, barring server issues and technical problems, for all of 2019.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support over the years. Without you, there's no way us little guys could have made something like this happen and given the "big guys" a run for their money. PassPorter was consistently the #3 guidebook after the Unofficial and Official guides, which was really unheard of for such a small company to do. We ROCKED it thanks to you and your support and love!
If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.
So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!
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All Work and a Little Play Makes Jen a Happy Girl!
I have been MIA for a while and just haven’t had time to write about my most recent trips. I decided today to make a change and get back to writing! I have all the pictures edited for this one, so writing it shouldn’t take me too long!
This trip was a work trip. As some of you know, I sometimes travel for work and usually they include a fun destination. I have times where it can be incredibly boring just like any work related trip, but usually my work trips have some fun thrown in…either by me adding to it or the vendor itself having some fun surprises.
This trip took place Nov. 12 -17, 2017. I had the option of extending it through Nov. 19, but my family had a trip planned for NYC starting on Nov. 21, so I decided it was best to be home a few days before flying away once again.
I’ll start with the boring part of how this trip came to be without going into all the nitty gritty details.
For this conference I was attending as a “Star”, which means I was selected to attend. Without getting too detailed, several people wrote recommendations about me and I was selected to join “Cruise World” in Fort Lauderdale. This conference consisted of classes and talks from many of the higher ups from different cruise lines for Nov. 15-17. Being a Star meant that you would have to attend all events offered as well as so many select classes. I had to arrive by noon on the 15th and I had to stay till at least 3 PM on the 17th. At an extra cost, I could have elected to stay until the 19th to go on several ship tours…which I would have loved to do, but again, I had a family trip coming up the next week and I was also trying to save money.
I did luck out however! They then announced they were selecting 14 Stars to come in early and do a tour of Fort Lauderdale and see things that the city offers and several of the hotels as well. I was shocked when I was selected as one of the 14! That meant I would now need to arrive on the 12th and the tours would start very early on the 13th.
I booked my flights and I have a ton of points with Southwest so of course I decided to fly with them. Even though my flight is technically free when flying with points, I do try to be savvy with how I use them. I found a few direct flights, which made me happy and the cheapest one was for very early in the AM, 5:30 AM to be exact. I booked it. That would mean I would have a day to just relax in the warmth before all the touring began.
When looking at flights home, there was one that left 4:55 on the 17th. Since I was supposed to attend the conference until 3, it might cut it short, but I do have TSA precheck, so I felt confident I would make it. Otherwise I would need to stay an additional night, which I really didn’t want to do. I did contact the Star leader and she assured me I would be able to leave a little early to catch my flight.
The next thing to figure out was transportation. At first no transportation was going to be included to any of the hotels.
My first stay was going to be at the Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa. After looking at different shuttle options and Lyft and Uber, I figured it was going to be about $50ish to get there.
I inquired to Caitlan, who was our contact and in charge of this portion, and asked about the best way to get to the hotel and she let me know they were now arranging for private transfers! AWESOME!!! I just had to give her my flight number and other info.
Later we were then informed that we would get a voucher for lunch that first day too if we arrived by a certain time. Another plus!
They would get us over to Cruise World in time on the correct date and from there we could go to our hotels after the day’s conferences. Cruise World had 3 hotels it was using and I chose the closest one that was in walking distance and I also had several friends staying there as well.
I now had everything set and I just had to pack and decide on what this fluffy gal has that still fits and looks professional enough. LOL….Yeah I keep gaining weight and I was worried about finding clothes that I didn’t look like a total moose in.
I was excited and a bit nervous to meet new people. This would be the first time I went to a conference without knowing anyone very well (besides a few facebook posts for a few weeks beforehand) and I hoped I would fit in and not be a total loser. I was also excited to meet up with several of my other friends later in the week. It was going to be so nice to see them again.
I usually like to fly out of Columbus because often the prices are a bit cheaper and they typically offer some direct flights to places I am going….and the airport is small!
My sister also lives there, so I can go the night before and spend the night with no extra costs. She usually can take me to the airport as well, so that makes it nice. With my flight coming home on Friday night it worked out well too as she was actually coming to Toledo for the weekend. If I had stayed till Sat and flew home she would have not been able to pick me up and I would have had to leave my car at the airport.
I left my home late afternoon and headed the 2 ½ hours to my sister’s house. My sister had told me my Aunt and Uncle wanted to go out to dinner with us, so that sounded like a nice plan. She made some reservations for later that evening. I usually try to time to get to her house not too long after she gets home from work.
I arrived and we took my bags in the house and soon were heading out to meet my Aunt and Uncle for dinner. I believe we ate at a Japanese place at the nearby mall and the food was good, but I did not take any pictures.
We had a nice evening of conversation and food and then it was time to head back to Amanda’s house. Sadly the weather was chilly so we couldn’t take an evening walk. We like to do that when it is warmer. I was happy to be heading south where it would be at least a bit warmer than home, though rain had been forecasted for most of the week.
We watched some tv and I called home as well to let the family know I had arrived and all was good. I went to bed knowing that I rarely sleep well before traveling. I have all sorts of thoughts going through my mind and a bit of anxiety and it is rare that I get a good night’s sleep before flying.
Sounds good. Glad you were able to get some things worked out to save money and time as well as spending time with your sister. Congrats on being chosen as a "STAR".
I really wish I could have stayed longer. I would have loved to tour some ships and I was so jealous seeing all my friends posting about the ships they were touring.
But I had to keep my husband happy too and spend a little time with him before I headed off once again.
Originally Posted by chezp
Congrats on being chosen for this - that sounds like a real honour.
I felt honored and it was a great experience. I am always grateful when I am able to participate in these kind of trips.
Originally Posted by patclairesmom
Great start Jen! I've seen your pictures on FB so I'm glad you are writing a report!
It took me forever to get them edited and I am still editing my NCY ones. But it is kind of fun reliving the trip months later.
Originally Posted by pamcarey
Great start! I'm looking forward to reading all about it!
I really was grateful to be chosen for the first part with the Ft. L tours. That really made this trip even more worth it!
I was up very early and we headed off to the airport! I have TSA precheck but the line was actually kind of long. Luckily it’s a small airport! I watched those in the non precheck line and I still got through faster, but not by much.
Last summer, Claire and I took a 5:30 flight to Florida and I was amazed at all the people who were just as crazy as us to fly that early. It was the same case this time around too.
I found my gate and settled in and plugged my phone in and read some magazines and people watched. I saw a lot of people flying in for cruises and I did some listening as well as groups of people talked about their upcoming vacations. It made me long to go on a cruise!
As the time got closer to boarding, I packed up my belongings and headed to the restroom and then waited to get in line to board. Once in line, there was a lady a few people behind me that was elderly and we got to talking along with a few others. She ended up sitting next to me on the plane and she was going to sell her mother’s home as her mother had died and it was finally time to close on her condo. She said she had to pack up some things and finally get all taken care of. She was such a nice lady and we talked quite a bit. She was flying back on the same flight as I coming home, so there was a chance we would see each other again at the end of the week.
I kept noticing some orbs in the sky and I wondered if it was a reflection on the window. My new friend told me that it was Jupiter and Venus and that they were supposed to be seen for a few days. In the picture above you can see a light in the sky and below it is a very faint 2nd light….I took several pictures but it just couldn’t capture what I saw.
The flight was uneventful …. Except of course for seeing the planets….and soon we were landing in Ft. Lauderdale!
I exited the plane and made my way out. There was some construction going on and I had to weave in and out of people waiting to go through security coming in. EEK! I hope it’s not that bad when I go home. The lines were REALLY long!
I found a guy holding a sign up with my name. I feel famous! I didn’t think to take a picture…and I should have. I probably will never have anyone doing that for me again.
He said the bags hadn’t started coming through yet, so I told him I was going to run outside a minute and would be back shortly.
You all know that smell. There is just something so different and wonderful about the smell! I was so happy to be in warm weather and sunshine. I could go for a dose right now. Now our winter hasn’t been as bad as some have been having, but it still seems like it is dragging on. The last week or so we have had temps in the 40’s but we have also had winds from the north east which drops the wind chill to the low 30’s. If we didn’t have the wind, we would have some nice days….and I just need some nice days for my mental health!
I headed back in and we found they moved to another carrousel for our bags to come out, so we headed that way. My bag came out and we headed off to the parking garage to get in my chauffeured vehicle. My Memory is fading, but I believe I had an SUV of some sort.
Soon we were pulling up to the Marriott and we unloaded my bags and I tipped and thanked my driver and headed in to check in. I was REALLY hoping my room would be ready as I was hoping to nap. No such luck!
They did check me in and took my bags and I just kept a day bag to keep with me with swimsuit and other needs. At first the gal said I was to get a breakfast and lunch voucher. I wasn’t sure if she was right or not because I was only told about a lunch voucher. She checked with someone else and found she was wrong…it was just a lunch voucher. And she gave me a card for beach chairs and towels and told me she would text me when the room was ready.
I knew I was the only there at this point as the next ones would arrive a couple of hours after me and then throughout the day others would arrive….some coming in basically in the middle of the night.
I was starving now and I needed to get some food, so I headed to the hotel restaurant. I found that many of the staff were just not with it there. I was waiting for a table and they told me to have a seat….then the gal went off and several more families arrived and a guy came up and sat them all. I spoke up when he came back and told him I had been waiting before all of them and was told to wait till a table opened. He apologized and they seated me at a table behind a pole. UGH! I was getting hangry…and those that know me…I don’t do well when I am hangry.
See the empty table by that pole…that’s where I was seated.
I took a look at the menu and everything was pricey, which can be expected at a beach resort hotel. I decided on home fries and a bagel and some tomato juice.
I had a frazzled waitress who seemed to keep forgetting about me. She never asked if I wanted more juice and never gave me water and I was so thirsty. That made me a little annoyed. She brought my food and I had to flag her down for ketchup.
The bagel was yummy, and the home fries were just ok. They had vegetables in them and had I known that I would have not ordered them. The peppers had a very strong taste and I couldn’t eat all of it because of that.
Then I waited and waited for my bill. My gal had totally disappeared now. I just wanted to leave and head to the beach. I was annoyed because this breakfast was going to be about $15 plus tip and the service was awful. They did have a buffet too but I didn’t want to spend that amount and I didn’t want a full meal. I finally waved down another server and she went and found my server who brought me my check. I was pleasantly surprised when my bill was only $5 and some change! She didn’t charge me for the juice or the bagel. OK, I take back all my nasty thoughts! LOL!
I paid the bill and headed out and stopped at the water cooler and downed some water.
I then stopped at the desk and asked if there was a store within walking distance where I could get some diet coke and there wasn’t. They told me I could get some from the little snack bar store area, but of course there wasn’t any diet pop in the cooler. They went and found some for me and stocked it back up.
I headed off to the restroom and changed into my swim suit and then headed outside and took a look at the pool and beach!
I took a nap then on the lounger. The weather was warm but not horribly hot and I did get a little bit of sun burnt on my arms and nose while sleeping. It felt good to get some rest and the best place for a nap is on the beach!!!!
I did walk up and down the beach a bit too and collected some shells and stones.
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After I checked out my room I headed back to the beach. One of the girls had texted me to say she was on her way and I waited for her to arrive. “J” soon arrived and walked out to the beach and we sat in the chairs and talked a bit. She was super nice and very easy to talk to.
We noticed a kite floating and then a surfboard floated up to the shore. We finally found the guys head bobbing in the water and kept watch to see if he was ok. After a few seconds we could tell he was and that he was swimming to shore, but it looked like he was having a rough time of it.
Once he got back on shore he got his kite, which looked really badly beaten up and he did not look too happy.
I then met back up with J and we decided to get some lunch. We headed off to the restaurant and were seated and looked over the menu. The waitress was really nice and gave some suggestions and did tell us one thing they were out of.
I slacked off here and did not take a picture and I don’t remember what I got…some kind of sandwich I believe.
We chatted some more and then “K” arrived and joined us. She didn’t get a lunch voucher, but she arrived before the cut off time so we told her to go back to the desk and get hers.
We chatted with the waitress and started asking about places to eat tonight that would be in walking distance. At first we had all kind of planned (those of us who had arrived by dinner time) to meet in the lobby and eat at the hotel restaurant, but now we kind of wanted to try some place else.
We had been googling places on our phones and asking the waitress and she would tell us about them…then she started giving suggestions. She mentioned there was a place that Diners Drive-ins and Dives had been filmed at and we then decided we had to go there. My husband is a big fan of the show, so I figured that would make him jealous. Hahahaha.
In the meantime “N” also arrived and had lunch. She was just getting her food by the time we were ready to leave, so we all decided on a time to meet in the lobby and that we would dress casual. We put the word out to the others who would be arriving later as well and then headed back to our rooms to freshen up and have some down time before heading out for the evening.
It had started pouring rain while we were eating lunch, but it had turned into a light spray by the time we were done eating.
I found out that J’s room was right below mine and K’s was above and over 1. LOL.
I just chilled out in my room and checked my emails and cleaned up and got all the sand off of me.