View Full Version : All Aboard to Saratoga Springs! LIVE!!

06-01-2009, 09:11 PM
Just boarded the train from Raleigh to Saratoga Springs! Staying a full 7 nights in a one bedroom. It'll be my first stay home using Developer Points!

I hope to take lots of pictures and post them with a live trip report! Stay tuned!

06-01-2009, 09:14 PM
Just boarded the train from Raleigh to Saratoga Springs! Staying a full 7 nights in a one bedroom. It'll be my first stay home using Developer Points!

I hope to take lots of pictures and post them with a live trip report! Stay tuned!

Yahooo..... love the train (except coach).... looking forward to seeing your trip through your pics... Have a wonderful time! My son lives in Garner in a home we own... So I know your part of the land. We were there just yesterday.


06-01-2009, 09:44 PM
Looking forward to seeing your pictures and reading all about your trip!
Have a GREAT time!

06-01-2009, 09:52 PM
If you're literally on the train (Amtrak?) would love to see pics of that, too!

Looking forward to your pics and report (details, details -- is check-in easy, did you make a room request and get it, etc.) -- we check in on the 13th for our first visit!!!

06-01-2009, 09:55 PM
Ahh..that's an adventure. Enjoy!


06-01-2009, 10:40 PM
We're from Raleigh as well and will be staying at SSR in less than 3 weeks. Looking forward to your report and lots of pics!

06-01-2009, 11:28 PM
Enjoy your stay @ SSR! Look forward to your TP!:thumbsup2

06-03-2009, 09:36 AM
1st day's report:

Well the train was an experience. The train picked us up at 9:30pm in Raleigh, NC. It travels overnight, and makes a few stops along the way. It arrives in Orlando at about 10:00. The train was pretty much on time, which is good, since trains are known to be late often. We both had a very hard time sleeping on the train. They didn't turn the lights down very low, the whole thing was constantly rocking, people were on their cell phones, the train whistle was going frequently. All-in-all I wouldn't do it again, unless we had a sleeper car. That way I could turn the lights off, and there wouldn't be so much disturbance. Plus you get the benefit of laying flat.

My options for getting to orlando this trip would have been a flight that leaves at 7am to arrive at 10, or the train which leaves the night before to arrive at 10. The train was half the price, and I figured that i'd be able to sleep on it. I figured i'd get more sleep by taking the train, since I wouldn't have had to wake up at 4:00 am. But I think I would have gotten more sleep by taking the plane.

After we arrived at the train station, our towncar that we reserved was waiting for us. Nice guy, took us to SSR where we checked in. We had asked for a room in the Grandstands, and she said that we had one assigned to us, but that it wasn't ready yet. Since we really wanted to freshen up after that long trip, we asked if they had anything now, and we got THE furthest one bedroom in Congress Park. It has a GREAT view of Downtown Disney, and the walk to the bus stop is very short compared to some of the locations at the moderate resorts. The walk to the main pool is fine too. Longer than I would have liked, but not as long as some people make it out to be.

After we freshened up and took pictures of the room (will have to post those later). We walked to downtown Disney to pick up our La Nouba tickets. I'm glad I went to pick them up earlier too, because they couldn't find them in the computer and I didn't have our confirmation number handy with us. I called member services and got them to give me the confirmation number and got my tickets. If I had gotten there just before showtime, I wouldn't have been able to give them my confirmation and I don't know what would have happened :scared:

After that we hopped a couple of buses to hollywood studios. We had an itch for ToT. I bought my fast pass, which I will say that I was able to get the 10% pass along savings with my DVC discount! We went in and wow were the crowds low :-D We decided to grab a fast pass and then walk on and then use our pass. Well, we put our card in, and the attendant pushed some magic button and 4 of them print out. For each of us. With 4 passes in hand, we decide to head over to Rockin Roller Coaster to ride that, but it had just closed temporarily and they were turning people away, so we head back to ToT and it wasn't our fast pass time, so we go standby and just walked right on :goodvibes:. We still didn't use our fast passes yet and walked back over to RnR, it had reopened, but the standby time was 80 minutes and we didn't have that much time. We decide to try our luck at Toy Story Mania. standby time was 30 minutes. At 4 in the afternoon. :cloud9: We rode that and it was time for us to head back to hotel for our evening plans.

We get back to the hotel, shower, change, and head to Downtown to Earl of Sandwich for dinner. Best. Sandwich. Ever. Tried the strawberry shortcake for dessert and that wasn't so hot. Then it was showtime! We head over to La Nouba. We used our DVC 30% off tickets. We had the last row. The seats were still Great! We had the front row last year, and were constantly looking up. Not only were our necks not sore after the show, and the seats were still great being in the last row, but we also paid 1/2 the price this year that we did last year with our DVC discount :cool2:

After the show, we walked back to the room. I decide to go check out the pool. The pool is awesome at night. Swam a bit, and the hot tub was great on the feet from all that walking!

Bed was comfortable! had no problems sleeping. The room is in great condition. No problems. Other than just some very minor and normal wear-and-tear, the room is in great condition.

No pictures yet. We are running to an ADR for Chef Mickey's! But I will definitely post pictures of the room, and chef mickeys, plus the MK later tonight. Plus! A special surprise! Stay tuned!

06-03-2009, 09:42 AM
Sounds like an excellent start to your trip! We also had the last row at La Nouba, and I was a little worried, but it was great! Love that DVC discount! You must have a very quick walk to DTD Marketplace from your location. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!

06-03-2009, 10:10 AM
Have a great time! We used our developer points earlier this year and had a great time at SSR.

06-03-2009, 01:12 PM
Have a wonderful time and I can't wait to see photos!!

I've often thought about taking the train. But from New York to Orlando is about 26 hours give or take a few. Plus I think the last time I checked the fare was about the same. So I forego the "scenery" for more time in WDW!!

But again, enjoy!! :thumbsup2

06-03-2009, 01:23 PM
We are heading to SSR soon too...
Our first DVC stay also. :love:
We are so excited!
Glad you seemed to be enjoying it. :)

06-03-2009, 01:56 PM
Just boarded the train from Raleigh to Saratoga Springs! Staying a full 7 nights in a one bedroom. It'll be my first stay home using Developer Points!

I hope to take lots of pictures and post them with a live trip report! Stay tuned!

We're headed to SSR on our developer points the first time as official DVC members on 6/26.

Enjoy your trip!


06-03-2009, 04:41 PM
Interesting, taking the train. We are here in Cary, and husband has never riden a train.

Can I ask about transportation from train to WDW. Where did you land (so to speak) and about how far is it from WDW? Was the towncar about the only option?

Have a wonderful time!

06-03-2009, 04:42 PM
Interesting, taking the train. We are here in Cary, and husband has never riden a train.

Can I ask about transportation from train to WDW. Where did you land (so to speak) and about how far is it from WDW? Was the towncar about the only option?

Have a wonderful time!

06-04-2009, 09:13 AM
Interesting, taking the train. We are here in Cary, and husband has never riden a train.

Can I ask about transportation from train to WDW. Where did you land (so to speak) and about how far is it from WDW? Was the towncar about the only option?

Have a wonderful time!

The towncar was about the only option. We could've taken a taxi, and they have them there waiting. However, I found that the towncars are about the same price as the taxi. It was $50 each way.

I doubt i'd do the train next time. Like I said, it was an overnight trip and it was very difficult to sleep, and what little sleep I got wasn't very restful. Kinda screwed up my whole sleep schedule here. If I were to do it again, i'd probably get a sleeper car so I could make it dark, and wouldn't have people on their cell phones and such.

The train was cheaper than the flight, by half. But once you add the cost of the needed towncar, it was only $50. The extra $50 would've been well worth it for the extra sleep.

06-04-2009, 10:40 AM
Thank you for the honest eval Adam. I don't think we will ever do the train.
We always drive, but I thought the train might be fun. But..alas...

Keep having fun at SSR! Tell Mickey I said Hi! :wave:

06-04-2009, 03:15 PM
Day 2:
Woke up and hopped the magic kingdom bus to head to the Magic Kingdom and then walked from the bus stop to the contemporary for our reservation at Chef Mickey's! The food was awesome and the service was good. Got to see all the Characters and take pictures. Overall a good breakfast.

Saw the BLT in person and they look awesome! I can't wait until September when I get to stay there for real!

Not feeling up to walking after such a large breakfast, we took the monorail back to the MK. We headed to Big Thunder and got some fast passes. We first went to the Magic Tiki Room and watched that. We then went to Pirates, which was pretty much walk on. Then it was about time for our fast passes at Big Thunder, so we headed over there. Rode Big Thunder.

I had a dole whip for the first time too. It was certainly good, but I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Not the best ice cream i've had, but i'd have it again. Perhaps it's an acquired taste.

We were then sweating a good bit, so we headed back to the resort for some pool time. My friend went to the pool while I went to the DVC preview center to check out the models.

I thought the models for AKV were nice, but the BLT models were much more to my taste! And everyone was right: The pictures don't do either of the models justice.

When I got back from the models I was still really tired from the sleepless train trip. So I napped for an hour.

After that it was off to our special surprise! Boarded the bus to the Magic Kingdom then walked over to the Contemporary for Fireworks dinner at the California Grill! Fireworks were at 9:00, and our reservation was at 7:30. We arrived about 15 minutes early. Asked for a table by the window, and waited at the bar. Right at 7:30 our buzzer went off and we had THE closest table to the magic kingdom.

I don't know who at the dining line suggested our reservation time, but whoever you are, THANK YOU! I mentioned when making our ADR that we wanted the fireworks. He looked up the fireworks time and picked the exact necessary time and told us exactly what to say. Just as desert was brought to us, the lights were dimmed and the fireworks started. It was perfect!

After dinner I was exhausted. Went back to the room and hopped in the whirlpool tub. That was heaven after a long day at the parks. Went to sleep around 11:30 and didn't wake up until 9:00!

Start of Day 3:

We then headed off to animal kingdom and got there around 10 this morning. Even though the wait was just 30 minutes, we got fast passes for Expedition Everest, and walked over and got "breakfast" in Asia. I got honey chicken. It was good. The rice was my favorite. Then went to see finding nemo musical. It was good, but I wasn't wowed by it. Used our fast passes for EE. The Yeti was definitely in "B" mode. Still a great ride! Then made our way to the safaris and pretty much walked right on. After the Safari's we headed over to Dinosaur (lots of back and forth). Then we went back to the room around 2:00. Shower time, shave time, then we are off to Epcot for some looking around there and dinner at Akershus!

06-04-2009, 03:23 PM
Thank you for the honest eval Adam. I don't think we will ever do the train.
We always drive, but I thought the train might be fun. But..alas...

Keep having fun at SSR! Tell Mickey I said Hi! :wave:

I would probably rather take the train than drive. With just the two of us, the train fare was probably cheaper than gas. Plus I didn't have to think about any of it. Just get on and do it. But again, don't plan on sleeping very much if you need dark or silence. If you can sleep with some light or with quiet stuff going on around you, then it may be a good choice. I could see how someone who wasn't such a light sleeper could do well on it.

06-04-2009, 03:58 PM
I enjoy reading your reports!

I was in high school and DM and I took a cross country trip, and the travel for us was in Coach! (Hotels along the way, not straight through, it was a tour of the west!) I don't know how DM did it, but it was what we could afford. It was a great experience for me. It is something I hope DH and I could do together, especially when I see the movie in Canada. The fertile plains of Canada and the Rockies are really best enjoyed passing by a train window. Maybe we'll get to do a train ride together in Alaska.


06-07-2009, 01:00 AM
Sorry for the lack of updates! Been so busy :cool1: I am making it up to you with a SUPER long update!

Day 3 Continued:

Before we headed off to Akershus, I called the info line from the resort phone to get some transportation info. The question: "Could we catch a bus to Downtown Disney from the Transportation and Ticket Center." The idea was that we would head from Epcot to Downtown Disney. The answer was "Yes you can get a bus to Downtown Disney from the T&TC."

Dinner at Akershus was really good! The bread was REALLY good. Lots of food. Great deal too, since you get the photo and lots of face time with all the princesses for just a dining plan table-service credit.


After dinner we got on the monorail to the T&TC. We thought that this would be faster than getting a bus to SSR and then walking, or taking another bus at SSR to Downtown. This is where things got UGLY. Got there and couldn't find a bus stop for Downtown Disney. So we asked. Told we had to go to a resort and get a bus there. A bit miffed about that, we got on the monorail and head to the Poly to catch a bus there. We waited for the bus for about 20 minutes. Got on the bus and head to downtown.

We were headed to the house of blues, which is on the west side. You're supposed to get off at the Pleasure Island stop. So the bus makes it's 1st stop at the Market Place. It switched resorts from Poly to All Stars and picks up about 1,000 people all headed to the All Stars. The bus was packed full. We then start to head towards the Pleasure Island stop. The recording comes on and announces everything to do at PI and West Side. We then watch longingly at Downtown Disney as we blow past the bus stop and start heading towards the All Stars :scared1:.

So I had to muscle my way past the 1,000 people on the bus from the back to the driver to ask what was going on. He was shocked and thought that everyone got off at the Marketplace. He said he would drop everyone off and then take us straight to the Pleasure Island stop. We stopped at each of the All Stars and then headed back to Downtown Disney. We FINALLY got to the pleasure island stop. 2 and 1/2 hours AFTER we left Akershus :sad2:

Had a great time at the house of blues and stayed til they closed. Not having much faith in the bus system, I decided to walk back to the room from Downtown Disney.

Day 4:

What an AWESOME day! I woke up around 10:30 am. Slept in because of the late night at House of Blues. Earlier in the week, I decided to do the Epcot Seas Aqua Tour. Got to the tour at 12:30. W-O-W. This was AWESOME! Spent about the 1st half hour going over some basic trivia of the aquarium... For example, did you know that the Dolphins used to be a part of the general population and not segregated in the tank? They had to separate them because the dolphins would use the other inhabitants of the tank as toys. For example, they would throw the sting rays out of the water passing them back-and-forth like a Frisbee. :rotfl2:

Another 30 minutes to go over the safety video, do's and dont's, and the whole "if you die you agree to not sue Disney" disclaimer. Another 30 minutes to change in to the wet suits, get to the aquarium, and get the equipment on. This was a scuba-assisted-snorkel setup. Basically, a wetsuit, mask, fins, tanks. But instead of a weight-belt so you can go underwater, you get a life jacket to keep you at the surface. This lets you swim without Scuba certification. If you get Scuba certified, they give you the full scuba setup and let you go underwater.

Once we got all setup, we had about 45 minutes to swim around. Wow. Oh. Wow. All of the fish, rays, and turtles come right up to you. You can watch all the tank workers do their work. I got to wave at people on the other side of the glass. Overall: AWESOME!

After the swim, got showered, changed and then we got a photo of us in our wet suits, a t-shirt, and a special pin for doing the tour. The total cost of the tour, with the DVC discount, was $119. Worth every single penny.

Just a word of warning: You have to walk through the public areas of the aquarium. In your wetsuit. Your skin-tight wetsuit. Twice. :eek: It certainly made me a little self-conscious.

While I was swimming with the fishes, my travel partner decided to get himself a pedicure at the SSR spa. He said it was nice, but wasn't sure it was $50 worth of nice.

After the tour, I walked around Epcot: Got a counter-service burger, and enjoyed the big fountain. At about 6, I hopped on the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to meet up with my Travel Companion for dinner at Boma.

Boma: More W-O-W for today. This was my first time at Boma, and did some reading on it, but I wasn't prepared for how good this actually was. I didn't know what about 1/2 the things on the buffet were, but I tried most of them, and there was not ONE THING that wasn't absolutely delicious. My personal favorites were the coconut-curry salmon, the seafood stew, the rice and the mixed veggies. The whole meal was very colorful and very, VERY, VERY delicious. My new favorite restaurant at WDW, by far. For those who might be apprehensive about the unusual menu, please don't be. Everything was very mild, and nothing was intimidating to eat. Just very good food that is full of GOOD flavors you haven't tasted before.

After Boma, it was off to the Magic Kingdom. I got there just as Spectro ended. It was evening Magic Hours on a Friday. And it was PACKED. I haven't seen it so crowded for the fireworks before. Standing room only to watch the fireworks, but they were awesome!

Can you spot the hidden mickey? ::MickeyMo

After the fireworks, I sat and watched the castle changing colors for about 30 minutes, did Stich's Great Escape which was an odd show, walked around the shops for a bit, and then went to Buzz Lightyear.

Finally, back to the hotel and in to that whirlpool to nurse my poor aching feet. I was exhausted, but it was an EXCELLENT day!

Day 5:

Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom! We put on our red shirts and rainbow Mickey pins and we headed to Main Street. Thousands of red shirts create a "sea of red". There is no pride event quite like it. We did Winnie the Pooh, Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion, Philharmagic, the River boat, and the Carrousel of Progress.

Then it was off to Epcot for dinner at the Nine Dragons restaurant in China. Excellent! And there was so much. I took some General Tso's home. After dinner, it was 8:00pm, so I just parked on a bench right in front of the World Showcase Lagoon for Illuminations. Good show!

After that, I went back to the room for some relaxing before bed. Gonna hit that whirlpool again. That thing is heaven :cloud9:.

Tomorrow: Down day. I will probably head to one of the water parks and float in the lazy river for 5 hours. Give my feet a rest.

Goodnight everyone!

06-07-2009, 01:21 AM
:thumbsup2 Love it! Can't wait to see the SSR pics. :hyper:

06-07-2009, 01:26 AM
HI!!!! WE LOVE SSR!!!! We stayed there last Oct using developer points. We were in Congress Park! LOVE it. I requested that we be in that section when we go in Jan.

You had a great day at DHS!!! YAY for TOT!! Best ride ever lol!

Have fun! Loving your live report.

06-07-2009, 01:29 AM
OOOH love the fireworks picture!!! Aww and what a cute picture with Cinderella! I'm really thinking about trying Nine Dragons next trip! Is it better than your local chinese restaurant?

06-07-2009, 11:21 AM
OOOH love the fireworks picture!!! Aww and what a cute picture with Cinderella! I'm really thinking about trying Nine Dragons next trip! Is it better than your local chinese restaurant?

Nine Dragons was definitely better than my local chinese place. Also, the price was very good. $40 for appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert. I definitely recommend it.

06-07-2009, 11:28 AM
We also love Congress Park! Looking forward to more of your trip report!

06-07-2009, 11:55 AM
Nine Dragons was definitely better than my local chinese place. Also, the price was very good. $40 for appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert. I definitely recommend it.

Ok cool! We may try it!! thanks

06-07-2009, 01:09 PM
Great picture!

Loved your report on the Seas Aqua Tour, we did it and just loved it. It's one tour that I would definitely do again.

I'm so glad that you did make it over to the House of Blues, it was definitely too long to get there.


06-07-2009, 08:21 PM
Thanks for the report.:goodvibes

I am starting to get really excited for our first DVC stay at SSR. :yay:

06-09-2009, 01:56 AM
Day 6:

3 Park Day!

Lazy old day! Today was Blizzard Beach! This was my first time at this park and I must say that it's certainly as good as Typhoon Lagoon. The crowds were certainly manageable. The only thing we really had to wait for was Summit Plummet and Slush Gusher. The chair lift was closed. Looks like they had someone working on it. We also did the snow stormers, Teamboat Springs, and topped off the day with a tube in Melt-Away Bay.

After Blizzard Beach, we headed back to the room and got ready for Dinner at Chefs de France. We got to Epcot and headed to France. Got there a little early, and they were able to seat us right away. The Lobster Bisque was REALLY good. Everything else was just okay/good. Definitely glad the meal was good, but won't go out of my way to make reservations there.

After dinner, I hopped the monorails to the Magic Kingdom. I thought tonight I would catch Spectro, since I only caught the very tail end of it earlier in the week. Turns out the fireworks were early tonight and no Spectro :(

I headed over to Big Thunder and rode that with little wait. The fireworks ended just as I got off Big Thunder, so I headed over to the Haunted Mansion since that is usually a walk-on. Had to wait about 5 minutes.

After the Haunted Mansion I headed over to Tomorrow Land and did the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. I ended up being "that guy" they kept showing up on the screen. That about made my night. They give you a little sticker for it and everything. I'll scan it when I get home.

When I got to the bus I got recognized by two separate families as "that guy". I was famous!

Day 7:

Another 3 park day!

Hollywood Studios! We slept in today. All this relaxing and vacationing is certainly tiring! We headed to Hollywood Studios and got there about noon. First thing is we headed and grabbed fast passes for Rockin Roller Coaster. Return time: 4:30. We ate. I didn't care too much for the counter-service at Hollywood Studios. After we ate, we rode standby on Rockin Roller Coaster. Then we did Indiana Jones Stunt Show. The wait for Tower of Terror was only about 20 minutes, so we did it. Twice. Then it was about time for our fast passes for Rockin Roller Coaster and we did that.

The day was pretty hot, so we headed back to the room for a shower and to cool off. Then we headed to Epcot for dinner in Italy. I ordered the Lasagna, and it was good. Again, like france, the food was good, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there again.

After Dinner, I HAD to hop the monorail to the Magic Kingdom so I could catch Spectro during my trip. They had two showings tonight. I saw the first one, then headed over to the laugh floor again...always fun :-D. Then found a spot for the second showing of Spectro. Spectro is absolutely my favorite parade at WDW. Such mesmerizing lights, excellent music, and it's at night (no hot sun beating down on you!). Watching all the lights with Cinderella's Castle as the backdrop is magic to me.

After the 2nd Spectro, it was time to end my last night at the Magic Kingdom. Tonight is our last night, so I headed back to the room and packed up. Our train doesn't leave until 7pm. So our car picks us up at 5. We are going to wake up around 9, check out, and head over to Disney Quest.

I will post an update on DQ, the train ride back, some more pictures, and some final thoughts!

06-09-2009, 08:13 AM
Sounds like you're having a wonderful time! Thanks for the report!

06-09-2009, 12:00 PM
HAHA I love when they pivk that guy in monsters inc laugh floor!!!!! That's so cool you were picked!!

06-09-2009, 03:55 PM
What a great trip you had! First of all - getting to be "that guy"! What fun.
Boma is my absolute favorite restaurant anywhere :love: So glad you enjoyed it!
I will have to look for that mickey in wishes - never seen that before!
And getting to go in the living seas for a swim - wow! I am scuba certified, so I might have to do that sometime.