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Goofy4 06-14-2009 08:16 PM

Grand Gathering June 4-12 @ Cabins & Kidani Village; And now: the 'Kitchen Sink'
Here was the original plan (and pretty much how it played out). The multiple days in parks let us do early and/or late visits with an afternoon break and a couple EMHs:

June 4 (Day 0)

My family (Me, DW, DD 15, DS 13) arrived a day and half before the rest of our group. Via a Yahoo! Group we discussed the plans for about a year. Mostly, I drove the non-Disney-obsessed members of our family crazy with more than they needed to know, but we did figure out that Fantasmic! was not a must see for anyone other than my family.

Somewhat reluctantly we made plans for F! on June 4 as Disney was kind enough to schedule one. We've been rained out 4 of 5 times for F! and my reluctance was mostly due to the weather forecast (quite naturally for us) calling for a good chance of thundershowers. The new 'no-separate-entrance' deal for the dinner plan was also less than appealing.

After getting settled at our FW cabin we headed over to HS, ponchos in hand. Silly us, we headed over to TSM around 4pm to see if fastpasses were still available... Yes, as a 4-year DISer I should know better. Would not have been so bad had it not started raining.

As we made our way to Moma Melrose's for our F! dinner, the rain pretty much went away. We had hopes that if it was going to rain again, dinner time would be convenient. No such luck. After a nice (but not great) dinner, we got rained on real good after Star Tours -- lightening and thunder added to make it more interesting.

We made our way through the Great Movie Ride and after a longer than posted wait at RnR :sad2: we decided to not chance losing our expensive F! dinner seats and headed over under stormy-looking clouds. The theater did not fill as fast as I've seen in the past, most likely due to the threat of rain. We slid all the way to the left of the dinner section. I realized quickly that we should have stayed more to the center for better viewing of the 'screen'.

To our amazement (making DD's day), the clouds only produced light rain and we were able to actually watch F!. It doesn't happen often for us, so this was a very good beginning. I just hate the "due to the unique nature of this performance, F! may be delayed or cancelled" message; I know it well.

Questions? Concerns? Am I doing this right?

OhMari 06-14-2009 09:10 PM

Your doing really good.
When I saw your spread sheet, i figured you "had" to know what you were doing.
I hope Disney brings back Fantasmic every nite. I don't know what they are thinking because Fantasmic has a packed show every evening.

lepinski 06-14-2009 11:17 PM

You have my attention!

Goofy4 06-15-2009 07:31 PM

Day 1: Magic Kingdom
This is our first day together, and my :bday:. Joining us late afternoon were my mom, sister, brother-in-law, nephew (9) and niece (8). Nice place to meet for birthday party, don't you think?

With a few hours to kill we took it easy around FW and headed over to MK to pick up my birthday fastpasses. A little pixie dust was thrown our way here... With tickets for the whole group in hand, we all got fastpasses!

With a few more hours to kill we wandered Main Street and I worked on getting a slight sun burn (not used to that Florida sun). After an afternoon thundershower that almost caught us on the boat back to FW (to meet the rest of our group), the weather would treat us well from here on out. Not nearly as hot and humid as it is right now at Disney, and very little rain. :thumbsup2

Around 4pm we were all at MK and the fun started. With birthday cards in hand (containing 6 fastpasses each), we were off to the races. Cue Aerosmith's 'Walk this way' (wrong park, I know)...
  • Buzz
  • Pooh
  • Peter Pan (stand by)
  • PhilharMagic
  • Jungle Cruise (very good CM guide)
  • Big Thunder
  • Splash (front row, got very wet)
  • Spectro
  • Wishes
Not bad for 6 or 7 hours work with a dinner break, eh? :sick: The fastpasses were priceless given that we got a late start on the day. Thank you Disney!

Disney added Spectro to the schedule a couple weeks before our arrival. With it also being a late EMH night, it was crazy. We tried to make it from our Spectro viewing location close to Splash over to other side of the hub, but the bridge close to CP was a log jam. Simply crazy how many people were trying to go in to the park with so many headed out (or to a Wishes viewing location) via that small bridge which was also packed with strollers from CP. So, this little "shortcut" I found on another board doesn't always work so well. We gave up and watched from the railing of the bridge -- not recommended since you can't hear the narration too well.

Throughout the day the CMs did a very nice job with the 'Happy Birthday' wishes. You would think they might tire of it after a while.

On the way back that evening, observing the boat docking procedure at the launch to FW was frustrating and a little comical. With our FW boat already holding next-in-line off shore, the port operations boss put another resort boat on our dock. We knew it was "wrong", the CMs right there knew it was "wrong"... Apparently everyone but the man in charge knew it was wrong. But what are you going to do? I had a little chat with my pal; he straightened things out:
Mickey to our rescue! ;)
Confused? Just a little joke... This is a shot from the Fantasmic! show.

Goofy4 06-16-2009 08:58 PM

Day 2: Chef Mickey / Epcot / Hoop-Dee-Doo
Sailing the high seas makes DS hungry. "Are we there yet?"

Just in case the Magic Kingdom wasn't enough to get in to the Disney spirit, I thought we would start things off today with Chef Mickey's. This would be the first of 2 or 3 times the ADR/GG people said we would not likely have a table together, but thankfully they were wrong. We got a nice table beyond the second buffet and up a step or 2 in a nice semi-secluded area. I didn't realize this little area existed. Before we sat down, the characters were there to greet us.

Here are some of my favorite "characters":

After breakfast it was off to Epcot on the monorail. The kids got a ride up front (easier to do in the morning from TTC to Epcot). The timing worked out well to pick up Soarin' and Kim Possible fastpasses and head off to the World Showcase for some leisurely touring.

Kim Possible was not as big of a hit as I though it might be. The adventures may have been a little too long given the heat, our large group, the ages of our kids, and plenty of other things we wanted to see. The missions were superbly done. We wandered in to the "really nice" shop at China thinking there was a clue in there. They were quick to let us know that there "is nothing here to see" :)

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Fort Wilderness for Hoop-Dee-Doo. We thought the bus route would be quicker. Wrong! Nothing like watching 3 buses come for another resort while waiting for yours.

It's been 30 some years since my last visit to Hoop-Dee-Doo, and it was a lot of fun to see everyone in our group having a good time:
This is DS's second encounter with a washboard at WDW (Boardwalk banjo entertainer, 2005).

More DIS Hoop-Dee-Doo photos at

Chef Mickey/Epcot/Hoop-Dee-Doo in one day, and we're just getting started!

dd50 06-16-2009 09:53 PM

Happy Birthday!! Sounds like your vacation is off to a good start.

c&m 06-16-2009 11:50 PM

An excellent reporting job so far! Your itinerary in spreadsheet form is truly a thing of beauty. ;)

Did you end up doing a water park? And if so, which one?

Goofy4 06-17-2009 09:17 AM


Originally Posted by c&m (Post 32305971)
Did you end up doing a water park? And if so, which one?

That may be my one small regret. We were up till the end of HS EMH the night before and I just didn't have the energy to get over to Blizard Beach the next morning for the early EMH there.

Some things never change... My mom was up a couple hours before anyone else got going.

Goofy4 06-17-2009 07:17 PM

Day 3: Animal Kingdom / Boma / Kidani
The dreaded resort "transfer" day... Wasn't so bad.

We were doing so well. Packed and out of the cabins about the time we intended to be, and then... The remote key to one of the vans dies. Not knowing what to do, we did the only sensible thing: we piled into one van and left my mom to figure it out ;) (Mom was going to stay behind anyway).

Turns out, there is a traditional key hidden in those high-tech keys that have the blunt end. And, once you are in the car, it can be started without a working battery in the key. The catch: for the rest of the trip the panic alarm would be set off with the traditional key entry. It stops as soon as the vehicle is started, but sometimes that is an eternity. :headache:

We made it to the park for rope-drop. I, the designated runner, made a dash for Everest fastpasses while the rest of the group headed to DinoLand. Knowing that our plan included me going back to get my mom, I decided to wander over to Kilimanjaro and pick up FPs there as well. I waited 20-25 or so minutes for those FPs, but then was able to triumphantly return to Dinoland with EE and Kilimanjaro fastpasses in hand (Kyle/Kara -- who's your favorite Uncle?). :woohoo:

The touring plan went something like:
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Bugs Life
  • Lion King (2:30 show)
That was enough for a hot day, a transfer, and a busy couple days before that. We were fortunate given that it would get hotter as the days went on, and to have the hottest of the parks behind us was a good thing (AK always feels hotter).

Dark clouds everywhere, some sun sneaking in right on Everest

My favorite way to end the day

The check in at Kidani Village and the transfer of our refrigerated items went without a hitch. Apparently they have a rather large refrigerated area just for such a purpose.

Kidani check-in

5th Floor view

I think I would prefer a second-floor room. You can see that the there is very little brush and limbs at that level so you can see under the tree line very well. The 5th floor is not a bad view however. That's Jambo House straight across. The white-ish spec just above the roof line on the left side is Everest.

At the moment I have no good pics of the giraffes, zebras and other animal life that wander by. They don't seem to like the heat of the afternoon so much.

Swimming at Kidani, then off to Boma we went. One picture doesn't do this buffet justice, so check out:

Goofy4 06-19-2009 08:55 PM

Day 5: MK / Downtown Disney / La Nouba
Day 4 (Tuesday) was to be all Downtown Disney, but we decided to finish off MK today instead of Thursday.

We didn't quite make rope-drop for early EMH, but that's OK. We make pretty quick work of
  • Small World
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Aladdin (watched Jasmine and Aladdin ride before the photo op)
  • Country Bear
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Tiki Room

By 11AM the park was really starting to fill up. The early EMH really let us breeze through the attractions we wanted to see.

Twice we caught portions of the "Move it! Shake It..." parade:

I get it now... The "Move it, Shake it!" party/parade is all about making you forget for a few minutes how hot it is and how you just want to sit down in a cool place (or more likely -- to get you out of that cool place where you've been sitting for an hour).

Off to lunch at the Polynesian (we just missed a late breakfast and Tonga Toast :sad2:), then Downtown Disney, Disney Quest and last but not least, La Nouba. We had originally tried to get the Safari dinner but due to confusion on when we could make ressies (during the reservation system switchover period) it was full-up and we "had" to go with La Nouba. I shared these with my family before the trip:

Since I have yet to see resort pics from other cameras in our group, here are some from "someone else's vacation" at Jambo House on YouTube (good shots of animals on the savanna and for you c&m, some shade around the pool :)):

And a blog on Kidani Village (opening just a month before we arrived):

On the Jambo House video there's some shots of a watering hole. I was discussing with the savanna guide one night that the giraffes seemed to be favoring the Kidani side of the Savanna. She assured me that this was not the case. From one of the outlooks at Boma (which I did not get a chance to visit) I guess you can see the watering hole and the animals that visit it. Next trip!

Goofy4 06-21-2009 12:35 PM

Day 4: Epcot / Le Cellier / Illuminations
How quickly we forget... My reviewers let me skip a day. :eek:

At rope-drop we were off to Test Track, Mission: Space, Soarin' (with FP).

Soarin' was a hit for those that had never been, so we took it in for the second time. Always feels a little strange walking past all those people in the stand-by line. We took in the other attractions at The Land, then split up until evening.

Since we had dinner ressies at Le Cellier, many of us caught Off Kilter. An amusing moment: Two boys were right up front trying to catch a gecko (or similar creature). The band had fun with it.

Le Cellier was a very nice experience. First time for all of us. The servers were pleasant and had no problems with a couple of us sharing portions (we weren't on the dining plan). The steaks were cooked well, served well, just an all-around good experience. When we said that we were headed to France for dessert they had fun with that too: "ahh, up-staged by France, be sure to try the napoleon" (and so I did):

We made our way back to the area between the gift shops for Illuminations. I tried to be smart about which direction the wind was blowing, only realize that by the time we made it back to the front, the wind seemed to have changed direction. By show time it was fine; no problem with the smoke.

Thanks to Robo and for the suggestion to view from between the gift shops :thumbsup2 I realized that LONG ago we watched the show there. I liked the view of the Showcase, and how the inferno barge seems play a more prominent role from this location. And, the quick exit!

Goofy4 06-22-2009 10:08 PM

Day 6: Studios / PrimeTime / Beaches n Cream / Studios EMH
Straight to Toy Story Mania we went at rope drop for a 25-30 minute wait. We really enjoyed it. Don't know if it was worth 5 times the wait that many people seem to tolerate mid-day, but it was good.

After that, off for some RnR, ToT, PrimeTime and Indiana Jones!

Grandma wasn't at PrimeTime (apparently she just works some evenings and weekends), but our server from last time was serving the table next to us. We all had the urge to say "hi, it's us!" As usual I had the meatloaf and finished all my green beans, thank you!

My brother-in-law also ordered the meatloaf. He, on the other hand did not finish his green beans and our "cousin" (server) let him know that he needed to work on them. Someone suggested that perhaps he should slide them over to a side plate and then cover the plate with his napkin. Well, the kids noticed what was going on and were not about to let this slide (but they were quiet about it). :cool2:

When our cousin came back to ask about dessert, the kids let him know what was going on. Game on! After a verbal scolding for everyone to hear, he was sent to stand in the corner. Of course, you must see this:

Uncle Scott in "Time-Out"

Little did we know his fun with servers was not quite over... We made our way to Beaches n Cream. Had to wait 45 minutes, but that gave us time to tour the Beach and Yacht clubs. Since we had plenty of time to work up an appetite ;), it made economic sense to order the "kitchen sink". Sorry, you must see this as well:

When we were served the "kitchen sink" the lights dimmed and the server gave a little introduction to what was being served. When she mentioned that it contained "a whole can of whipped cream," half the place responded with "A WHOLE CAN?". Who can tell me something about that? All the DIS reading I've done and the "audience" participation was news to me.

When it was time for the check, the server didn't know which shoulder to reach over and somehow she and my brother-in-law alternated reaching over his left and right shoulders until she gave him a little smack with it on the back of his head (all in fun). Good entertainment it was!

After some relaxation back at the Kidani pool, we returned to the Studios later in that evening for a much cooler EMH. It started out busier than I hoped but after 90 minutes or so the crowd started to thin and we really got a lot done. It was fun to sneak in one more RnR before leaving.

Goofy4 06-23-2009 10:17 PM

Day 7, Thursday: Downtown Disney / DisneyQuest / Epcot
I thought about getting up early for EMH at Blizzard Beach, but I couldn't drag myself out of bed after the late EMH at the Studios. This also could have been a 'Blizzard Beach' day, but we decided against that.

So, DS finally gets a heavy dose of DisneyQuest... We love Pirates of the Caribbean! It was busier than our brief visit Tuesday, but still not too bad. But, it is too bad that Cheesecake Factory is gone. Where else could you spend $6 on a slice of cheesecake and feel like you're getting a bargain?

We headed back to Epcot for dinner and shopping. Since we had finished up MK on Tuesday, we gave up our 8 PM ressie at Tony's (originally booked in hope of watching Spectro from the porch). We tried to replace it with Ohana (which we once had, but gave up in favor of Tony's), then tried to get 'anything at Epcot', but failed. The ADR people said to talk to Guest Relations at Epcot since they have access to same-day seating, but the sign at the entrance of guest relations said they were sold out. So, what to do?

Our best bet would probably be Mexico, yes? After all, it was supposed to be shut down for rehab, and they weren't taking ressies for a while. But I was still sure that it would be a long wait.

When we arrived, there was only one party ahead of us at the desk. They told that party and us '30-35 minutes'. I was thinking that for a party of 9, that wasn't so bad, even though they did say they needed to split us up. After about 2 minutes -- just long enough to board the boat ride -- our buzzer goes off... We received a round table big enough for all of us. So we went from 'nothing available' to '30 minutes' to 2 minutes.

I like Mexico; mostly for the atmosphere. I have decided that the best dish is the steak, and something seems wrong about that... I have no idea what they're going to 'rehab' when the time comes, but I hope they rehab the menu.

Our entertainment for the evening was a gentleman a couple tables over who had a few too many of those Mexican specialty drinks. After verbally abusing his server, he let everyone know that he had just won the lottery and was going to tip him $100.

So, Epcot was a bigger hit with our group than I would have imagined. If you're traveling with a group, it seems to have a little something for everyone. DD's favorite: China

You may be able to spot a Kim Possible clue here:

defendthehill 06-24-2009 09:05 PM

I enjoy reading trip reports. Kinda cool we were there at the same time. We ate at B&C but did not venture into the realms of The Kitchen Sink. No one ordered it while we were there so I enjoyed seeing the picture. Nice report!:thumbsup2

Goofy4 06-25-2009 08:45 PM

Last day
What to say?

Thanks Mom!

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