AMW's Feb trip report ... onsite for the first time!

Discussion in 'Disney Vacation Planning & Transportation' started by amw, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. amw

    amw Member

    Hello all, just back from a frigid week at WDW ... didn't pick that one well!

    This was our first time staying onsite, as we do like to have separate rooms for the girls, and like a quiet stay. We usually stay in non-Disney condos. We were sucked into the 4/3 promotion and decided to try staying Disney Deluxe. My preference would have been the Beach club for their water resort as my girls love lazy rivers and beaches ... but it was going through a rehab so we decided to book Poly because I've always wanted to try staying on the monorail.

    Magical Express
    We had no problems with this service. I thought my non-Disney hubbie would not appreciate the constant commercial being run, but he took it all in stride. The driver was definitely full of energy, and we had the same driver back to the airport. My only complaint was being ready 4 hours before the flight for pick-up on the way back. We're used to better time management. All in all, I appreciated the service and the girls thought it great fun. By the way, we had the golf clubs and luggage delivered. They showed up around 1 pm (our flight came in at 10). We were good with that.

    Disney Transportation
    We really had some great luck with catching buses at the Poly, even to Downtown Disney. The MK monorail was busy and took a long time. People were avoiding the water shuttles because it was too cold. I really liked the monorail to Epcot. Poly was great for accessing both lines.

    Disney Dining
    If you are stuck at Disney, and HAVE to eat at Disney, then I thought this was a great deal. It was way too much food. We cheated slightly since the Counter Service credits are not yet divided between adults and children. We would sometimes order one adult meal and split it between my 2 DDs. Then we would have extra credits and use them at breakfast. We could split an adult breakfast platter between my DDs and myself (we're not big breakfast eaters), use an OJ for brekkie and take a bottle of water to go. I think had it been hot, we would probably have used a lot of credits on water and ice cream, but as it was we had a tonne of snack credits. The only thing I didn't like about the plan is being forced to eat a sit-down meal each day. For one, Disney table restaurants are not the best - quality or service. Also, I got a migraine the night we had our Ohanas dinner. ; :-[ I sent my kids and hubbie anyways because I didn't want to lose the credits. Normally, we would have just all stayed in. Thankfully, the rest of the family had a great time, and Disney let me use my extra TS credit on the last day for a CS breakfast.

    Without being able to enjoy the amenities ... no swimming, no slides, no beach relaxation, hammock swinging, fireworks at night while lounging by the lake, etc. ... the Poly loses a bit of lustre. This was not the trip to be staying at a hotel with no hot tub! ; We were given a very prime location - Samoa, overlooking the quiet pool.

    My girls instantly questioned Walt's decision of making separate buildings instead of a "hotel" as they put it. We were really close to the main building, yet we still felt ourselves cocooning in our heated hotel rooms. I have to say it felt rundown ... 70s kitsch. The room was nice and big. I loved having the "princess bed" (Day bed for my youngest DD) as she tosses around in her sleeps .. an shouts out too but that's another story! ; ;) I loved the closets and the dresser, and we got the balcony we requested. The best thing was it was available at check-in. Bad things: the shower didn't work on the second day, there was mold throughout the shower tiling, and there were lots of screaming babies and terrorizing toddlers in the hallways and adjoining rooms. Clearly, this is a place for the stroller crowd .... ie, not us.

    Staying onsite
    My hubbie went golfing 4 of the days. He loved the service of taxiing to your golf greens. Most of those days, he ended up joining up with us later at the parks. Some days he started with us, and than left mid-afternoon as he was parked-out. There was no forcing him to stay with us all day, and no whining to leave. He was much more relaxed this trip. For that alone, I truly appreciated staying onsite with Disney Transportation ... that we could do separate things, and still meet up, and part at will. I'm still not convinced that the hotels themselves are more magical than staying offsite. Or that transportation is faster. I'm still processing that one.

    In general, Disney to me is like an old friend or a security blanket ... a trip makes me feel comfy, warm and fuzzy. I'm not the yah-yah celebrate type (and some of my reviews may sound whiney) ... I just miss it when I'm not there.

    I'll break down my day-by-days in the next post. ; :)
  2. realfam

    realfam Member

    Great trip report. ; Look forward to reading more and seeing some pics, expecially since our trips overlapped. ; Did you come across the large groups of teenage girls from south america. ; They seemed to be everywhere we went. ; Couldn't get away from them. ;
  3. amw

    amw Member

    Arrival Day

    Day 1: Saturday, January 31

    Temp highs: 58F (14C)
    Temp lows: 37F (3C)

    Arrived in Orlando around 10 a.m. Pilot said it was 10C outside. Oh.Oh. I didn't pack the winter gear. I wrapped everyone in sweatshirts and warm spring jackets for the trip down ... pretty much became our uniform for the week! ;;D

    Didn't plan on doing anything today. Was supposed to be an "explore Poly and relax by the pool day." The pool was open, lifeguards were out in their snowsuits (I kid you not!). When my pics are organized, I'll upload one of that! My crazy canuck children jump in the pool and swim for a good hour. Lifeguards are bemused.


    I decide that since it's not exactly beachy, I'll pretend it is and I bring my girls to get their hair wrapped. They charge by the inch, and I've heard the cheapes trick is to ask them to do the wrap behind the ear and under the hair - rather that from the top of the head. Well, my poor DD8 has a Snow White doo, but we managed to squeeze in 3 inches on her. The younger one gets 7 inches plus. They're super happy. I think it was $8 for the one, and $16 for the other. At 4 p.m. on a Saturday, we were the hair wrappers first customers.

    Dinner is reservations at Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge. My hubbie went exporing one day, and found that the WL is only a 15-minute walk away. BUT, Disney wants everyone to be lazy slobs so they encourage their transportation. Monorail to MK, take the WL boat to the lodge. Simple enough. It took one hour each direction from the Poly! (way back we went via Contemporary) That was also when we discovered that boats after dark would not be a great transportaion choice this week. Brrrrrr.

    This was our fist visit. I have heard a lot about the antics at Whispering Canyon, and I had also heard how they've been forced to tame them down. I did find the place loud. Waitresses did throw your napkins and straws at you. There were calls for ketchup, but there were only 3 lonely bottles being circulated. I didn't see any large bottles, and long straws, and certainly no embarassing chatter. The food was OK. My hubbie likes BBQ, so he enjoyed it. I liked the cornbread. Neither of us could eat the dessert and took it to go. (I had the apple pie crumble with cookie crust - it was really good 2 days later. ;::)) All in all, an OK fun experience but we were tired from a long day of travel. We left for the airport at 4 a.m.

    I put the youngest DD to bed, and the older one and I watched fireworks at 8 from the beach. I loved how they looked from the Poly, and even found the images better from a distance than from Main Street. It was frigid ... but there were about 20 of us by the beach. That would get smaller and smaller as the week progressed!

    Next up ... Magic Kingdom!
  4. amw

    amw Member

    No, we were lucky and didn't get many teenage groups around. I guess we just picked a different park rotation. ; ;) We kept seeing a South American tour group that were completely dressed in yellow sweatsuits. But, they were a mix of ages and were quiet. I started to see some cheerleading groups on our last day. It was definitely much quieter than normal.
  5. amw

    amw Member

    Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

    Day 2: Sunday, February 1

    Temp highs: 65F (18C)
    Temp lows: 39F (4C)

    Magic Kingdom day. The one thing I did appreciate being onsite was skipping parking at the TTC. Why is the MK such a pain to get to?!

    We arrived to the gates for the opening show. It was chilly, but completely sunny. Looking at pics, you'll all think I was making the temps up. ; ::) I like to think I'm pretty knowledgeable about touring the MK. We have a good routine for covering all the rides. Fantasyland first as they youngest is still 6. Hubbie was with us today so they did Splash Mountain. 5 minute wait! (HA!HA! ... should tell ya something.) They managed to survive unscathed. Where was Mommy? Mommy don't do Splas Mountain. You can all refer to my first attempt in another trip report ... needless to say, someone up there doesn't want me to ride it.

    We finished most of the park (except Toontown) before an early dinner at Crystal Palace. Early because it was Superbowl Sunday and my husband needed to be back to the hotel for 7. We decided to do CP instead of Chef Mickey's which we've always done in the past. It was OK. It seemed a little disorganized, and we had to keep track of the 4 rotating characters. It took more than an hour to see all 4. The food was nothing great, but the youngest loves Pooh bear so now we can say we've done it. (I would never do these meals if I wasn't on the meal plan!)

    They insisted on this tail shot:

    Hubbie left for the Poly where he watched the game upstairs outside of Ohanas with other fans .... at least he was being somewhat social! ; :D

    The girls and I continued to Toontown. We were going to line up for the Fairies as my DD8 is a huge Tinkerbell fan, but the line was over 60 minutes long at 7p.m. They told me to return at 10 a.m. (more on that later). We watched the fireworks, and then stayed as it was an extra hours night. I have one peeve. We were never given info on the EMH at the hotel or parks. If I hadn't done my research .... ; Anyhoo, it wasn't worth it, the only lines all day showed up that evening. We headed home and called it a long MK day.

    Misc new parade shot:
  6. amw

    amw Member

    How do I rotate my pics?! ; ???
  7. great info = sounds like you all had a blast, despite the chilly weather...

    as for pics, I use picassa to rotate them first - not sure how to do it directly first...
  8. highland3

    highland3 Member

    I think you have to rotate and save them before you upload.

    I did love the shot of the lifeguard!!!!!!
  9. Ham Ham

    Ham Ham Member

    Rotating or any other type of editing can bed done prior to uploading your images to ; a photo site.
    With photobucket as may other sites you can do your editing once pictures are uploaded.

    Find the image you want to manipulate select edit, perform the selected task then I choose save a copy this way I still have the original.

    A feature I really like about photobucket is no matter how larege an image is I can select a default size for all of my images being uploaded so they all fit into our posting window with out having to scroll to see the whole image. I select 640 x 480 as may default size.

    For AMW to adjust the orientation select the "rotate canvas clockwise: button to adjust the canvase by 90 degrees to the right.
  10. amw

    amw Member

    Hhhmmm... I've done all the changes in photobucket (Thanks Ham Ham), but nothing is changing here. ; ???

    EDIT: OK it's working for me now! ; :)
  11. amw

    amw Member

    Day 3 - DHS

    Day 3: Monday, February 2

    Temp highs: 66F (19C)
    Temp lows: 54F (12C)

    This didn't start out as too bad a day. A little grey in the morning, and we knew it was supposed to rain later. I packed my ponchos, and the girls and I headed to MGM , oops DHS. The hubbie went off to play 9-holes at Oak Ridges.

    We headed to Toy Story Mania first.

    Oooohhhh.... look at those clouds!

    Lines were 20-minutes at opening, and we grabbed fast passes ... for 1:30! It was fun, but reminded me of our Wii we got at Christmas. Not something I would stand in line for hours for. The good thing was that this ride takes crowds away from everywhere else. ; ;) We walked into the first showing of Little Mermaid with 2 minutes to spare, walked onto Great Movie Ride, did my Walt's Dream (love that!). Leisurely saw some characters. It was spitting at this point, but we're not made of sugar!

    DD6 was starving so we went to Pizza Planet where they shared an adult combo - they gave us apple slices instead of another salad. Bad Mommy for cheating the mouse! ; 8) My hubbie then called us and said he was done golfing and would join us. We then went over and got fastpasses for Rock N Roller Coaster since I wasn't feeling it that day so he could ride with them when he got there. Perfect timing. He arrived and I let him go on the Toy Story Mania fastpass with the girls. At this point, it started raining for real, but so what we'll just head over to Disney Animation.

    My Mickey:

    Ham Ham, when did you get here:
    Rhino had the cutest autograph. He wrote his name, and then drew a mini-version of himself inside the "O" ... get it ... his ball! ; :D

    We did our lessons, saw our characters, and then realized it was downright pouring outside. And it didn't let up. They rode their roller coaster, and all we had left was Muppets 3-D which we couldn't miss. We didn't end up getting to any of the shows, the parade was cancelled as was the HSM3 dance thing. I was disappointed with that one since my DDs have danced in the streets with the other 2 versions. We headed back for the hotel. The girls had the ponchos, but all our shoes were soaking wet and needed to go in the dryer. That was the only day the bus took a long time to come. But, at that point, it wasn't too cold yet .... the rain was the change, new cold front was a-coming.

    Forgot to mention we had dinner back at the Poly, at the Kona Cafe. My hubbie and I agree that in terms of food (not atmosphere or service), this was the best meal all week by far.
  12. Ham Ham

    Ham Ham Member

    Your photo looks OK on my end. Another reason I save a new copy of an ediied image is that even though I've edited the image an everything looks OK if I have already posted an image in a board the changes don't appear.
    I wonder if once you place an image in a post the cache looks at the url and loads the one it already has?
  13. amw

    amw Member

    Aarghhh ... those photos. I was an editor in the pre-digital stone age, and it bothers me that they're not perfect. ; :mad:

    Day 4: Tuesday, February 3

    Temp highs: 60F (16C)
    Temp lows: 45F (7C)

    Today, the weather channel said it would be sunny but WINDY. Now we have to start factoring in wind chills. Where are we again?!

    This was our EPCOT day as a family. It was early entry which I would normally avoid, but Christine got us ADRs at Le Cellier for lunch and we're not missing it!


    As a family, we really enjoy EPCOT. My girls like all the interactions, love figment, and volunteer for all the innoventions stuff. This trip, we got to do KIM POSSIBLE!!!! ; ;D I was so happy this was up and running. Over 2 days, we did 5 out of the 7 adventures. Each adventure sticks to one country. It's aimed at 8-10-year-olds, and does a great job of getting them excited about the countries around the world. Some elements are really subtle ... hidden behind gallery pieces ... some are way obvious and I'm surprised it doesn't bother others. (I'm thinking of a screaming & burping baby robot in the middle of the Japanese Dept. store ... be forewarned.) We loved the Great Britain and France ones ... try those out if you can. Great Britain involved golf balls and tea bags. I actually got to keep the tea bag ... a freebie at Disney! ; :D Sorry no pics ... too busy running around saving the world!

    Our ADRs for Le Cellier were for 1:30. We arrived 15 minutes early, and had the longest wait for any ADRs that week. They seated us at 2 pm. After the wait, I found the service to be the best of all the places we visited and I really enjoyed the food. My steak-inhaling hubbie was so-so about it. He doesn't know the background of the place, and he told me it felt like "a dark, cafeteria-type place." LOL! The kids loved the pretzel bread.

    He left after lunch. We were going to stay until Illuminations, but it was pretty windy and chilly around the lake so we headed back to the Poly. We have yet to see Illuminations. It is our nemesis. Before leaving, I used a snack credit on the sweet almond pretzel in Norway. Yumm!

    That night, I bundled the wee ones so that we could watch the Electrical Parade from the beach. Including the 3 of us, there were 7 people at the beach!

    Next up .... extreme freeze alert warnings ....
  14. amw

    amw Member

    Day 5

    Day 5: Wednesday, February 4

    Temp highs: 50F (10C)
    Temp lows: 37F (3C)

    Yes, check out those temps! Weather announcements called for a drop in weather for this night ... that's a further drop. There were freeze warnings posted for Wed. night into Thurs. Locals were advised that there would be wind chills in effect tonight and that they should remain indoors to protect their health! ; :)

    This was our mid-vacation, day off. I always book a day for sleeping in, shopping, swimming, and a character dinner. It was also a golf day for my hubbie.

    The girls and I headed off for Downtown Disney at opening. All day we saw crews covering all the flowers with white tarp/net things. It certainly didn't look good.

    Now, years ago, I loved shopping at Downtown Disney and found I could pick up everything I needed in one shot rather than shopping at the parks. I don't find that anymore. Last trip I was disappointed with the selection, and I was this time too. We picked up those Polly Pocket princess toys (the Prince version) for my DD6 ... but we had seen them at DHS earlier. My DD8 picked up a Stitch that we had seen at the Poly .... we didn't see any nice sweatshirts and I ended up getting them one each at Animal Kingdom - with a pattern I hadn't seen anywhere else. From now on ... since we are not commando park goers ... I'm just going to shop as we play.

    It wasn't a total waste though ... there was Goofy's! The make-your-owns (with the exception of the apple) are still covered as snack credits.

    My DD8 chose a Gingerbread Mickey, dipped in milk chocolate, and covered with M&Ms, oreo crumbs, and chocoate chips.
    It was too hard for her. She nibbled at an ear, and it ended up in the garbage on check-out day. Poor Mickey. ; :-*

    I chose a Rice Krispie dipped in milk chocolate, covered in pecans, and drizzled with more milk chocolate and caramel. Yum. No leftovers on that one. ; ;)

    Not to feel ignored, I took a pic of the snack my DD6 chose. I think she just wanted the ring:

    We headed back to the Poly for our swim time ... remember the high today is 10C and there is a wind chill in effect. Surprise, Surprise. There are no lifeguards on duty. It's too cold and they have shut down the slide (it remains like that for the next 2 days). My girls still go in, but this time they only stay for 10 minutes. Polar cubs they are not ... by the way, Disney pools are supposed to be heated to 83F year-round. YAH RIGHT.

    That evening, we had the Cinderella Gala dinner booked at 1900 Faire. It was the Best-run character meal. We arrived 30 minutes early, and they still sat us immediately. There were no hoards of people wanted and blocking the podium. Our waiter explained to us the circuit the characters were on, and when they would be approaching our table. There was no circus atmosphere. All the little princesses were patient and quiet (and mostly in awe), and it was a well-run machine. Very calm, very organized, very me. Thumbs up for characters ... food was sucky but that was to be expected.

    When we got back to the hotel, they were putting on a little make shift show upstairs for the luau.

    The luau was cancelled due to the cold ... I think it shut down at least 3 nights we were there.

    Up next ... say what?! it's colder than Toronto! ... or at least most of the North US. Their weather channel doesn't include TO. ; ;)
  15. amw

    amw Member

    Day 6

    Day 6: Thursday, February 5

    Temp highs: 50F (10C)
    Temp lows: 29F (-2C)

    Check out that low baby! That was the temp on Thursday morning as we headed out for the 8 am early entry at Magic Kingdom. Sorry, it was actually -5 with the wind chill. We didn't have winter coats. We had those little stretchy mittens from the dollar store and our hoods. I can tell you that everyone rode the rides totally covered up ... imagine bundles through Peter Pan. ; :) Our tootsies were frozen, because we should have been wearing boots. No one took the ferry over. ; Anyone in the GTA today, please note that it is warmer here today than it was in Florida last Thursday. ; Good news is that it warmed up to 10C in the afternoon because it is still sunny, until evening came again.

    One thing we've learned. The parks are built to create shade and breeze tunnels ...

    The hubbie joined us today because he felt it was too cold to golf. ; :eek: My plan was to hit the Fantasyland must-dos first and than head to Toontown for 10 a.m. to get those peskie Fairies autographs. Dumbo was surprisingly easy to get a seat this morning. Little brisk in the air.

    At 10, the line up for the Fairies ws 90-minutes long! We hopped to the Princess line which was only 20 minutes long (remember the good old days when THAT was the longest line!?). The CMs kept trying to get the parents to remove their kids coats before the pics. No one would oblige. They all said they wanted proof to the weather! ; :D ; I promised to return later for the Fairies.

    At some point this day, we stumbled upon the Captain Jack show outside POTC:

    My DD8 volunteered and was given this:

    We returned to he Fairies for a third attempt during the afternon parade. The line was down to 50 minutes. YEAH! The reason it takes so long is that they take each family in one at a time ... and they explain how you're being shrunk, and you have to use a mini-photopass card. The characters have it down to an art though. Between each one is a stump or something, which they put the autograph book down on while posing. The next character picks it up from there and so on. The whole time, they are chatting up the girls while passing them along. The whole thing goes by in blur and the kids love it. Lesson learned - if you really have to do it, just get in line and bear it.

    Token Spectromagic pic:

    We saw the parade right at the entrance, and made a quick exit and back to the Poly. We saw the fireworks again from the beach ... again maybe a dozen people because we're gluttons for punishment ... and off to bed with visions of warmer days ahead.
  16. amw

    amw Member

    Day 7

    Day 7: Friday, February 6

    Temp highs: 65F (18C)
    Temp lows: 33F (1C)

    Last little remnants of cold this morning, but change was in the air. DH had golf at Magnolia today, so the girls and I headed over to Animal Kingdom. Now I don't know whether it was a Friday, or whether it was a nicer day ... but I guess everyone went somewhere else because it was pretty quiet at AK.

    My DD8 informed me she had enough nerve to try Expedition Everest again, so we headed there first. It was a walk-on. Glad we got it out of the way, because it broke down later in the afternoon. We then leisurely did Safari, animal walks, and Conservation Station. The girls started doing those Kid Passport stamps they have. Camp Minnie/Mickey had easy lines for all the characters.

    We walked into the Lion King Show with 10 minutes to spare andhalf the place empty. We got good seats in the Lion section over to one side. Timon made eyes with my DDs:


    This monkey shared something he picked off himself with my DD8:


    Big finale:

    By the afternoon, it was warm enough to ride Kali Rapids twice. The only thing my DDs didn't get to do is the roller-coastery type ride in Dinoland because it was broken down at the same time as Expedition Everest. Not a good day for teens to visit AK. ; ;)

    We had a good day and returned back to the Poly by 5 pm. The plan was to let them swim a bit, and than we had Ohanas reservations for 6:20. On the bus ride home, I started to get a migraine (I'm prone to them) ... the change in weather system and radical same day temp increase didn't do my head well. I sent them to the restaurant without me. Apparently, they enjoyed themselves. DD6 won the coconut race, and they sampled everything. No pics of course.

    Early sleep night and I was all better in the morning. I used the extra TS credit for a CS breakfast on the last day.

    Up next, bittersweet last day...
  17. amw

    amw Member

    Day 8 - last full day

    Day 8: Saturday, February 7

    Temp highs: 70F (21C)
    Temp lows: 41F (5C)

    The temps they are a-changing. This was our bitterweet last day ... not only because we were leaving, but because it was the weather I expected. A beautiful Spring day that you needed a sweatshirt in the morning and evening, but could go in T-shirts in the afternoon. I don't think it's just me, but people today were happier, the CMs smiled more ... Spring was in the air!

    My DH decided to throw in one more round of golf, and he'd meet up with us later. The girls and I headed for EPCOT. What a nice day ... did I mention that. At the monorail, the CM asked the girls if they would like to ride up front. Would they?!


    They got their little co-pilot cards, and off we went. We rode Soarin twice, and then spent our time in Innoventions where they were volunteers in the Velcro show again. Not a bit shy are they?!

    We did a few more Kim Possible adventures, and we just enjoyed the countries. Here's the comedy show in Great Britain:

    For dinner, we walked over to the Beach Club. Less than 5 minutes, don't know why people were waiting for a boat. My DH wanted the Clam Bake buffet. We showed up when they opened. Big mistake. The lines at the buffet were huge as they sat the whole restaurant at the same time. It's obviously a place the locals go to on a Saturday night .. .or the seniors, whatever. The girls and I don't eat seafood, but we managed with the basic Disney buffet fare. DH though the food was OK, but service was horrible. Sometimes, it's a pain waiting for those Dining Plan receipts.

    The girls loved the hotel though ... thought it was so cool that they gave towels in the washrooms ... I didn't mention that this is where I would have preferred to stay. You see, we could visit EPCOT for an hour or two if we stayed at a hotel nearby. MK is a whole day thing, even staying at the Poly, I couldn't see myself skipping over and back for an hour.

    Speaking of which, the mousekeeper must have know it was our last night. It was the first time they did anything:
  18. amw

    amw Member

    And home we go....

    Day 9 - Sunday, February 8

    High today was supposed to be 74F ... the rest of the week high 70s and low 80s everyday. SIGH!

    We were supposed to have the Ohanas breakfast this morning (the kids didn't know) but Magical Express was picking us up at 10:15 for our 2 pm flight. We cancelled and walked over to the Grand Floridian to eat in their food court for a change. I thought the food selections were nicer, but anyone else find it weird that they have the arcade inside their eating area?

    Walked back for one last quick swim ... no slide open yet. I guess we stayed deluxe for nothing :p (I'm being sarcastic for all who don't know me well!)

    As always I feel the best vacation would be one week "on" at Disney, and one week relaxed at Disney. Unfortunately, 2 weeks weren't in the cards. Back to reality ... but it's kind of nice outside today. ; :)
  19. awfully nice to read about your travels and see your pictures - sorry the weather couldn't be better for your trip, but Disney is rain is better than sunshine at work! ; Take care,
  20. realfam

    realfam Member

    What a fantastic trip report! ; Loved reading it. ; Its scarey they we ahve taken some of the exact same photos. ; We too loved the Festival of the Lion King. ; DD1 clapped through the entire show, so that there tells you it was great.
    Give us more pics

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