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 The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk.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.
That said, PassPorter is not going away. Most of the resources will remain online for as long as we can support them, and after that we will find ways to make whatever we can available. PassPorter means a great deal to us, and to many of you, and we will do our best to keep it alive in whatever way we can. Our server costs are high, and they'll need to come out of our pockets, so in the future you can expect some changes so we can bring those costs down.
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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To post messages and ask questions, join our FREE community today and you'll get access to tools and resources not available to guests, such as our vacation countown timers, "living" avatars, private messaging system, database searches, downloads, and a special PassPorter discount code. Registration is fast, simple, and completely free. Just click the Join Our Community link.
"The Laughing Until Our Stomachs Hurt" Chicago trip report
Finally have a few minutes to write about our trip to Chicago over Thanksgiving. Dates: Wed. 11-21 thru Sun. 11-25. Location: the Hyatt Regency hotel on Wacker Drive right off of Michigan Avenue at the bridge. Reason: Our annual get together with DH Paul's side of the family. Our son Matt and son PJ and wife HL all flew in from Denver. Son Nick in Fl. just had new baby so couldn't make it. Wed.: We drove down from Appleton, WI. Left at 8:00 AM and stopped for breakfast at Fond du Lac. Drove the rest of the way thru on clear roads and clear skies. Arrived at our hotel at noon. Paul waited while I took luggage in and checked into our room. It was ready and with a fabulous view on the 32nd floor). We are always amazed at how nice these rooms are (we stay here every year because I always seem to snag a great deal for this time of year). Then drove over to DS Cher's condo on Michigan Avenue 2 blocks away to park the car (hotel parking 45.00 per day/Cher's parking 25.00 per day - big savings). Ran up to the 18th floor to tell her we had arrived. Headed out for a nice lunch. Intended to find some place new but it was so cold and we were so tired from the drive that we just went to TGIF. The place was nearly empty, the service thus was excellent and the food was very good and a bargain for downtown Chicago. Walked back to Cher's to hotel to wait for kids to arrive. Amazingly even with the doom sayers predicting horrible problems at the airport, both of their flights were on time. They all took the train into the city from Ohare (at two different times) and walked the three or so blocks to the hotel. I'm sorry but I have to admit I cried when I held PJ in my arms again. It had been one year since I held him last and we had never been apart that long before. He swears that will never happen again. PJ, his DW HL, Paul and I all went to the lounge for a drink to wait for Matt to arrive. We babbled like crazy catching up and I'm afraid everyone knew that we had not seen each other in a long time. I was still crying. Matt phoned and said "I'm here". By now it was raining (more like pelting) and even colder but we decided to walk the few blocks down to Dick's Last Resort on the river for supper. If you have never been here, make sure you get there on your next Chicago trip. It is a Chicago institution and a real riot. The food is fabulous (try the cedar planked salmon - to die for) even if it is "slopped" on your table in a bucket LOL! The waiters and waitresses are rude and disrespectful and you will love every minute of it. They made me a hat that said something about I'm still hot especially when I have those flashes! One of the girls had the hots for Matt and Matt of course put on his best comedy performance (he is our entertainer). We laughed so hard we could hardly eat. And then of course I made some innocent comment at the liquor store on the way back to the hotel (something to the effect that Matt was sleeping in his Mom's room, in front of a few check out girls) and I was the butt of all jokes all the way back. I laughed so hard I could barely walk. I'm sure the people on the street thought I was drunk (and of course I only had ice tea). When we finally got back to the hotel, we were frozen to the core and my face was stuck in smile position due to the cold and sore muscles (have you ever just grinned too much?). We decided to split up and hit the hay since we had a big day on Thurs. and we were all exhausted. The best part came when we climbed into bed and were reminded why we stay here. The beds are heavenly. I preordered room service breakfast and then promptly fell asleep. Next: Day 2: The Thanksgiving Fish!
Thursday; Day 2; Thanksgiving Fish! Arose just in time to greet room service at the door. Ya know how sometimes room service isn't worth the money? Well this sure WAS! The best french toast made from cinnamon rolls and smothered in fresh blueberries - YUM. Herbal tea as requested, extra butter as requested, sugar as requested, and real maple syrup (warm too). The perfect start to our day. Paul and Matt went to Starbucks while I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. We all cleaned up and headed out to Cher's condo for the Packer game where she had filled the tub with wine and beer and over 50# of ice. She had been cooking and shopping for days and had quite a spread laid out for munching including shrimp cocktail and shrimp spread and herring in sour cream and (are you sensing the start of a theme here?) caviar too. Lynn and Lee (Paul's younger sister and husband) arrived and Mojitos loosened everyone up. After a rousing Packer victory, the ladies all climbed into Cher's car while the men walked over to McCormick and Schmicks Seafood Restaurant on the corner of Rush and Oak. This is a high end national chain that flies in its seafood fresh twice a day everyday. Yes, we were going to eat Thanksgiving fish! Even tho the other Cornett ladies live in Chicago, I was the one elected to find us a restaurant (because very few stay open on Thanksgiving even in the big city). The last two years they chose Lawry's Steak House which is famous for their Thanksgiving turkey but the service just did not live up to their reputation. So, since I am the family travel agent, it fell to me to choose. I made the reservation way back in August for twelve. Then just a week before cut it to 8 as two nieces and mates had to do the "other"families. We valeted the car and walked in and gave them our name and they said "we are holding this private booth for you right in the next room. Come this way!" And thus we were seated. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner of about 3 hours with drinks, appetizers, soup course, salad course, entrees, dessert, and cheese course. The seafood is to die for! If you ever get the chance, DO eat at this fine restaurant. There is even one in Orlando on International Drive. I had Alaskan Salmon stuffed with Alaskan King Crab and a sauce that was sheer perfection. The theme continued with calamari, a wide array of oysters, lobster bisque, clam chowder, Caesar salad with shrimp, and much much more. BUT we swerved off course when the creme brulee arrived! The perfect ending to a perfect meal. Throw in a little Chardonnay and some Cappuccino with Baileys Irish Cream. Could life get any better than this? Much good food and many pictures later, we headed back to Cher's for some rousing fun. Time to wear off some of that food! We embarked on a game of Mad Gab. If you have never played this before, let's just say that the results were hilarious. HL was literally rolling on the ground (or was that the Mojitos?). Our stomachs hurt, our sides had stitches, and we were all hoarse from laughter. My two crazy sons decided to answer their clues in characters from the movies. OMG, we played with Austin Powers and Dr. Evil (is that right?) and Mini-Me as well as various super heroes and yes, even ladies of the evening. I can't even remember them all. You have not laughed until you have laughed with the Cornett family. After we were all exhausted, it was time to head back to the hotel for a little R&R before bed and to enjoy those wonderful beds once again. Next: Fri; Day 3; Whales and Dolphins and Sting Rays, Oh My!
Friday; Day 3; Whales and Dolphins and Sting Rays, OH MY! As the kids all slept in this morning, Paul and I headed out to Cher's for breakfast. She made blintzes with fresh fruit and grapefruit halves and a yogurt "sundae" and fresh squeezed orange juice and very crispy bacon. It was all so good but lots of fruit. Next Cher and I ventured out to do some shopping on Michigan Avenue. Bought clothes and socks at Macy's, cleaned out the Aveda store, and of course, hit the Disney store too. Then rode the free tram back to her condo. Got there just in time for the arrival of the kids. Cher then laid out a spread of all different types of sandwiches and spreads which we all ate until we were full. Then we all piled into the Explorer to head for the Shedd Aquarium. Cher has a friend on the board of directors and she gave us free all access tickets for the day. We were especially entranced by the new little baby Beluga Whale who mimicked everything his Mama did. Saw the dolphin show, the Beluga feeding, the sea otters (my personal favorite since I saw one beneath our balcony on our Alaskan cruise), the sting rays (but no touch pool BOOO!), and the new Amazon River exhibit plus so much more. We were exhausted from cramming so much into one afternoon but it was worth it. We climbed back in to the car and headed out to the suburbs (Frankfort - southwest) to meet Lynn and Lee and our two nieces for dinner at Gino's Pizza (another Chicago institution). We have eaten here many times as a family and the food is very good but this time our server was definitely not on the ball. Anyway, it took us a LONG time to get our food and then to get our bill. But our boys decided to entertain us with men of many nations so we were "joined " at dinner by the Swedes, the Germans, the Italians, the English, the Jamaicans, and several others. It was amazing that we could keep our food down, we were laughing so hard. Well, it just got worse as we went to Lynn and Lee's house to play some more Mad Gab and a new dice game (whose name escapes me at the moment). Everyone was slap happy by then between being tired, full and having a few beers. The boys started taking very strange pictures (with MY camera no less) and Aunt Lynn started calling the men Losers cause the girls won at everything (and she is normally very reserved) and we all just lost it. Everything hurt from laughing (even places that shall remain nameless). It was getting late so we piled back into the car to go back into the city. But the boys were all wound up now, so they continued to tell jokes (some clearly inappropriate) and make rude noises. Plus Aunt Cher had had more beer than she ever drinks so she was egging them on. It was chaos! And poor Paul kept saying "please stop, I'm laughing so hard I can't drive". And that just made them worse. When we got back to Cher's we parked the car and walked the 2 blocks back to the hotel. The cold air finally cooled them all down and we all fell into bed and slept like rocks. I wish I could remember all of the crazy jokes and things they said and did but they go so fast and I'm so slow. Geesh! I think I was still laughing at three jokes back half of the time. Next: Sat.; Day 4; Ooooooh! Shopping! Bigred
Sat. Day 4: Ooooooooh! Shopping! Again the kids slept in and then they were going to the Art Museum because Heather had never been there before. So we went over to Cher's for breakfast again. This time we had eggs benedict and chocolate filled croissants. Yummo! Then Cher and I sent Paul off on his own to do whatever it is men do and we hopped into her car for a day of shopping. First stop, the two best scrapbooking stores in Chicago. After spending at least an hour in each, we headed for Lutz's German bakery on Montrose. This is a place where I spent many a pleasant afternoon having lunch and coffee and dessert. It has always been authentic German just like in Frankfurt (where most of my relatives live). And they are famous for their marbled pound cake. Well, have you ever had your memories completely ruined? The parents of this family business have died and the kids sold off half of the restaurant to allow condos to be built next door. There are no German speaking people left to wait on you and no lunch menu anymore. A few tables and get your own coffee instead of fine china and German music. I cried! AND no marble pound cake which I had planned to take home for tea with my girlfriends. We did have a slice of whipped cream torte for each of us (mine was hazelnut) which was still very good but that will be the last time I darken their doorstep ever again. So we were bad for lunch but heck we are adults and can do whatever we please. Right? So we moved on to the Container Store (which had so much Christmas wrap it boggled the mind) and then Crate and Barrel. Finally, it was dark and we were getting tired and cold so we drove back to meet Paul at the condo. The kids called and wanted to know what we were doing and if we would join them but the Billy Goat Tavern was not on our list so we declined. They apparently had a ball with the owner and even got all their drinks free. We headed out to the Dao restaurant (Thai) 2 blocks from Cher's. Sat in a pit with pillows and had a fabulous waiter. Had the best Crab Rangoons I have ever had in my life (and I have had A LOT) followed by roast duckling with peanut sauce (sheer heaven). And it was VERY reasonably priced (I don't like to say cheap because then people get the wrong idea). Oh yes, and that glass of plum wine did its job and I was ready for bed. Said our good byes to Cher and thanked her for all of her hospitality and good company. And back to our room for a most enjoyable sleep. Next: Sat. Day 5 (Final): Tears on my pillow, pain in my heart helped only by shopping all the way home
Well, have you ever had your memories completely ruined? The parents of this family business have died and the kids sold off half of the restaurant to allow condos to be built next door.
We had a really good family owned ice cream stand and restaurant in town that was here forever. The ice cream was home made from the family dairy farm and was the best. On a warm night you could stand in line for a good 1/2 hour or more. The recent family member running it decided to retire and none of his kids wanted to take over. He decided to sell the property which is now being turned into more condos and a strip mall.
Your family sounds like a complete hoot. A lot more fun than my family on Thanksgiving.
Oops! That's Sunday, Day 5; Tears on my pillow, pain in my heart helped only by shopping all the way home. Well, this was the day I dreaded. My son and HL flying back to Denver. Matt was gong to drive home with us and be home for a few days so that was all good. Anyway, we got up and ate Dunkin Donuts that Paul brought in to the room. Then he walked over to Cher's building to get the car and pulled up to the hotel door to pick us all up. By this time, PJ and HL (who are always late for everything, by the way) have decided that WE did not allow enough time to get to O'Hare. KIDS! We made a beeline right out to the airport and then got caught in the traffic snarl right in front of the terminals. We got about one terminal away from American and they got out to walk the rest of the way. So we had to say our goodbyes right in the middle of traffic. Yuck! It is just too hard to say goodbye. Especially when PJ is crying too! It is SO hard to be apart for so long. Thank goodness we are going to Denver next July. Won't be quite so long. We climb back into the car and Matt says immediately, "I love them but thank God I am finally going home. They drive me crazy!" LOL (He had just spent 6 weeks with them in Denver and had enough of their yuppy lifestyle.) We all wave as we pass them at the terminal and off we go back to Wisconsin. Suddenly we get a cell phone call from Cher who wanted to say goodbye again before she flies out to Shanghai (she is a flight attendant for American for the last 40 years). She said that when the kids check in they would find out that she upgraded them to first class (she has a lot of connections). So I knew that they would be well taken care of and they were there in plenty of time. Next stop, Gurnee Mills, the giant outlet mall on the WI border. Spent 2 hours shopping there, just roaming around. Didn't find anything tho. Drove a bit further north to Kenosha and ate lunch at the Chancery (a very nice local WI chain that Matt used to wait tables at in college, at their Milwaukee East side location). Now, I had gotten sick at Gurnee Mills with some kind of stomach bug so I ate very carefully. Just some soup and plain ice tea. Luckily I had meds along and after lunch felt much better. Time for the long trek home. Needless to say I slept the whole way home (2 hours). But when we got home I sure was stiff cause of sitting in the same position for so long. Glad to be home but sad to be without PJ and Heather. Can't wait to leave Friday (12-21) for Florida and Disney and our two baby granddaughters. Next trip report from the land of Magic and Love. Bigred
OOps, forgot one little thing! After lunch I begged Paul to stop just one more time at one more store in the Kenosha outlet mall. It seems that there is a new Coldwater Creek outlet store there. I said "just give me 15 minutes, after all I'm not feeling well!" LOL So one gorgeous Holiday jacket and one darling turquoise leather travel bag later, I am back in the car. They have all of the reduced merchandise from the main stores sent here and today they had 50% off of all of it. I was in sheer heaven but you can only do so much damage in 15 minutes. Well, I WAS sick after all. That was the best part of our last day! Bigred