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 The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk.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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This is going to be a quick TR because I want to complete it before we leave for Disney in less than a month!
What – a trip out west to see some of our country’s National Parks.
Why – The trip was inspired when Jeff watched a Ken Burns special on the National Parks last year.
Who – DH Jeff and me, Donna.
When – September 17 – 25. This is around our usual Disney travel time, but this year we chose to go a bit later in the year, so it worked out well.
How – planning was a whole new ballgame for me. I am so used to planning Disney trips and this was completely different. We were driving over 1000 miles and staying at 5 different hotels/lodges over the course of our 9 day trip. I did quite a bit of research on the various locations and we booked well in advance because many of the lodges are difficult to get into.
We knew we wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and my brother who has travelled out west several times with his family, suggested that we should see the North Rim as well as the South because they are both very different. Then I started looking into other National Parks in the vicinity and found that Bryce Canyon National Park was only a three hour drive from the North Rim, and if we flew into Vegas, we would pass through Zion National Park on our way to Bryce. Perfect! We also got advice from others who had been to the area and one recurring theme was “Make sure you see Sedona”. So, that was on the list as well. I have a girlfriend from HS who lives in Sedona and she said she would be happy to show us around. We decided our last stop would be Phoenix. There are some great tourist attractions in Phoenix, plus Jeff has cousins that live in the area, so that was a perfect place to end the trip.
So, here is the line-up…
September 17 - Fly into Vegas, rent a car and head for the hills!
Drive through Zion National Park on our way to Bryce Canyon
Stay two nights at Bryce Canyon
September 19 – drive to the North Rim for one night.
September 20 – drive to the South Rim for two nights
September 22 – drive to Sedona for two nights
September 24 – drive to Phoenix for one night
September 25 – fly home
We got up at around 5:00 and were ready to go when DS Tom picked us up for the airport at 6:15. No issues at all getting through security and we were at the gate in no time. We had checked in for the flight 24 hours in advance, but ended up with C 8 and C 9. I think so many folks do the early bird check in that it’s impossible to get an A or even a B these days. When we boarded, we went about half way back, just behind the wing, and found a row with one gentleman in the aisle seat. He got up so we could have the window and middle seats. So, that wasn’t too bad.
The flight left on time at 8:35. It was a 4 ½ hour flight, which is long for us - compared to the 2+ hours it takes to fly to Orlando. But we were ready with lots of stuff to do – books loaded on my Nook, crossword puzzles, snacks, and my bead box to make some beaded rosaries that I’ve recently started doing.
It was exciting flying over the mountainous regions as we got further west.
We arrived in Vegas around 9:00AM, Pacific Time. Aside - The time zones were a little confusing. We landed in Vegas which is 3 hours behind Easter Time. Then crossed into Utah, which is Mountain Time, so had to add an hour. Then, when we eventually crossed into Arizona, which is also Mountain Time but does not use Daylight Savings, we had to add an hour.
We made our way to baggage claim which was very crowded. There are quite a few baggage carousels and in addition, there are islands of slot machines. I didn’t see anyone playing. Most were using the seats to rest as they waited for luggage. We finally made our way through the sea of people to get a spot at the carousel and waited for our bags to appear. After retrieving them we found the door to the transportation area and walked down until we found the crossing that led to the Rental Car shuttle. This seemed to be every man for himself as cars didn’t really stop until a person actually stepped into the crosswalk. I was so glad when we finally made it to the shuttle and were on our way to the Rental Car Center.
This was another fiasco. We had checked in online the day before, but that didn’t seem to give us any advantage. We ended up at a self-serve Kiosk where we scanned Jeff’s Driver’s License and it promptly told us it was rejected and could not complete the transaction. The Alamo rep standing nearby tried on another machine and then proclaimed “I’ve never seen that before in all my years doing this”. Great! That was encouraging…NOT. : She took us to a counter where she handed us over to a not very friendly rep who checked us in, gave us our “Travel Tab” (a GPS unit that is also a wifi hotspot) and sent us on our way.
We headed to the upper level to get our car and found there was only one employee up there to handle all customers. We waited a bit for him and when he looked at our paper work he said we’d have to wait until they brought down a vehicle for us, as they did not have any mid-size SUVs. We waited a bit while he took car of a few additional people then he came to us and said, it was going to be quite a wait, so as he led us to a Chevy Equinox he matter-of-factly told us we’d tip him and he’d upgrade us to a full size SUV. Um, no. : That would not work. We ended up with the Equinox, but did not give him a tip. After we put our luggage in the back, we sat in the vehicle for a bit before taking off. Jeff wanted to familiarize himself with the controls and I was checking out the Travel Tab to see how that worked. It turns out, it didn’t work at all, and when we asked Mr. Tip Happy, he said the person at the exit booth would be able to help us. When we got to the exit booth the girl scanned the tag to put us in the system, and when we asked about the Travel Tab she was surprised that the woman who gave it to us did not activate it. But, she was very helpful and did the activation, then explained to us how to sign in with my ipad so we’d have wifi. She also gave us directions to I-15. She gets a gold star. As for the others at Alamo. NO.
Yay! We were finally on our way! We got onto I-15 and headed north. Took some shots of Vegas and some scenery in Nevada along the way.
We both got taco salads. I got mine in a bowl, Jeff got his in the tortilla bowl. They were both very good and really hit the spot!
We were right on the border of Arizona and Nevada so there was a visitor’s center at this exit. So after lunch we decided to stop in there and have a look around. And as long as we were doing the visitor’s center we’d decided we’d use their bathrooms. But when we got there it was closed. Maybe because it was Sunday? Who knows? So we continued on. We drove through a corner of Arizona and soon were in Utah. They had a visitor’s center as well, so we got off the highway and followed signs. It was a bit of a maze to get to, and we ended up finding out the visitor’s center was part of the Rosenbruch World Wildlife Museum. Hmm. Well as long as they had a restroom we didn’t care. But after we parked and went to the door, we found out it was closed as well. Grrrr. By this point we really needed to use the restrooms! We ended up going down the street to a Cracker Barrel to use the restrooms there.
Back on the highway…the scenery in Utah is beautiful! Before we even got into Zion National Park I was snapping photos.
We arrived at the Bryce Canyon Pines Hotel at 5:20. Months in advance, we tried to get into one of the hotels that are closer to the park but they were full. Then we found Bryce Canyon Pines and they had an available cottage so we took that. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we couldn’t have been happier. It was a nice size room with a king bed, it had a decent vanity area and bathroom and a refrigerator! And an awesome view!
It is advertised as a favorite among locals and I can believe it! We gave our name and were told it would be a 25 minute wait. It was packed! But we obviously had no other plans, so we didn’t mind the wait. When we were seated they brought a large carafe of ice water. This was something that continued at many of the places we dined. What a great touch! I had a chef salad and Jeff had an elk burger and coleslaw. For dessert Jeff opted to get their specialty, sour cream raisin pie. The waitress raved about it, but Jeff thought it was just ok. He probably wouldn’t get it again.