When we left off last time, we had arrived late at Disney World and Jeff and I had just shown up at the Reach For The Stars gala event.
The appetizer course had already been served when Jeff and I arrived at the gala dinner, along with Tom and his wife.
After dinner and the awards ceremony had concluded, they opened up the event to all guests, and brought in different groups of characters for photo opportunities. This was our chance to sneak Val in, who we never registered as an official guest due to the insane cost for very little benefit. Meredith had to go gather her kids from wherever they were during the gala, so we used her conference badge to get Val in. With drinks in hand, we lined up for pictures with the Beast and Belle, the one character Val was looking forward to meet. Tom jumped in and the four of us got snapped.
After that, I got a text that Meredith was on her way back and would need her badge. I headed out to meet her, where I ran into Jacqueline and her husband, who you would think I would have been introduced to but you’d be wrong, for the first time. After I found Meredith and her family, we headed back in to the party for more drinks and more photo opportunities.
Once the gala kind of wrapped up, Jeff, Val, Tom, and I headed out in front of the hotel, where a heated discussion broke out on the topic of the free breakfast and whether or not it was a huge imposition placed upon us by the evil that is Suren. Things must have gotten a little loud, as Jacqueline made her second (and final) appearance of the night, questioning why we were arguing about breakfast. Once things calmed down, we retreated back inside, where we found the hotel bar.
The night of drinking continued, until we all headed out for a smoke break. Tom finished his drink and casually tossed his empty glass over his shoulder into the shrubbery, before leaving to use the facilities. As Jeff and Val enjoyed their numerous cigarettes, it became increasingly clear that Tom was not returning from the bathroom, and we decided to call it a night.
The next day was supposed to start with the officer forum, but Jeff had declared he had no intentions of attending the last remaining mandatory event. Tom, who was a few doors down from us, apparently did not get that memo, as he came and knocked on the door while everyone was still in bed/asleep. He returned after the officer forum, to much the same response. Eventually, everyone got up and got ready to attack the day.
But first, we had to sit in the hotel room some more to try and get Lollapalooza tickets, which, due to the time change, went on sale at 11 am. Once the tickets were acquired, we finally made our way to one of the parks, walking over to Hollywood Studios. With Fast Passes for later in the day, we headed over to the new Star Wars Launch Bay, where movie memorabilia and shopping was available, along with picture opportunities with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca. The half hour wait time for photos was much too long, so we looked around at the movie stuff before checking out the gift shop. After finishing there, we headed toward the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, at which point Jeff had enough of Hollywood Studios. So, after a whole hour at the park, we headed back to the hotel.
We hit the boardwalk, where we found a crappy little food stand that offered pizza and chips for lunch. Jeff was anxious to get his drink on, but was unwilling to go to the margarita stand due to its name. He was willing, however, to partake in said margarita if someone else were to purchase it and deliver it to him.
After killing an hour or so on the Boardwalk, we called an audible and went over to Epcot, where Jeff could imbibe at will. We walked around the World Showcase, where Jeff kept looking for opportunities to buy beer, but he passed by them all. After spending some time in the butterfly enclosure, we managed to go on our first ride of the trip, the Finding Nemo ride. Sadly, despite being possibly the slowest-moving ride at Disney World, the ride did not agree with Val, so we called it a day and went back to the boardwalk for dinner at the ESPN Club.
Digressing a bit, at the bar on Monday night, Jeff was complaining that, for a free trip, there were a lot of expenses that the company was not picking up. As if on cue, a $150 gift card arrived in the room on Tuesday, to help offset some of those costs. Of course, Jeff saw this as in insult and refused to use it. Val and I had to work at convincing him to use it for dinner, where he wanted to just leave the whole thing for the waiter, which would have included a tip of more than 100%.
After dinner, it was back to the bar, where we were eventually joined by Tom. Drinking ensued, until the place shut down and we were forced to call it a night. We returned to the room, where Jeff got an email from iTunes. You may recall drunk Jeff purchasing some songs during the ride down the previous Friday. Well, the arrival of the receipt threw him for a loop, as he had no recollection of the songs involved, let alone having made the purchases. After this, we called it a night and hoped for better results on Wednesday, which seems like a good time to wrap things up for this week.