October 2010: Wizards, Pirates and Pixie Dust: *10/7/10: ready to go
Iím kind of new at this, not that I havenít been lurking on these boards for the last couple of years. It looks like everyone is having a lot of fun with their pre-trip, and trip reports so I thought I would give it a try.
Itís no surprise where we are going, itís just that this time we will also be taking a little side trip to Universal to seeÖ. ta dah! Harry Potterland.. Yes, I know the official title is the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter but we have a tendency to nickname everything, a trait inherited from my father. The when is October 2010, the cast: me (Diane), and my intrepid sister, Zig (yes, she does have a real first name, but she is always Zig to me). See what I mean about the nicknames. A bit of background: Weíre fairly close in age, only 13 months apart, most people can tell immediately that we are sisters, and in fact, for most of our childhood, people just assumed we were twins. We have been traveling together since we first started road trips with the parents. We will be writing this PTR together so when you see blue it will be me writing and when you see purple it will be Zig.
Anyway, first trip was 1992, we were actually in Orlando for Worldcon (MagiCon) but of course we had to go to WDW while we were there. I donít remember much, but I know I had a good time. Then there was a trip to California for Worldcon (LACon) in 2006, and we went to Disneyland/California Adventure. This I remember, had a really good time and I think the Disney bug bit us then, because next thing you know we were heading to WDW in Sep 2008, stayed at WL, used the dining plan, and attended MNSSHP. OMG, the fun! the food! the FUN!. Of course we were planning to go back again the next year, another fall trip, probably Sep or October 2009. But thenÖÖ Zig gets an email about a special offer, stay 4 nights, get 3 free. How could we pass it up? Only problem is, itís only for the spring. So we sat down, crunched some numbers and decided, letís do it! So there we were back at WDW within 6 months (March 2009). So after not going at all until we were adults, then letting 15 years go by before we go back, we are on a schedule to go almost every year now. Next trip October 2010, how can I possibly wait?!
Besides the two Disneyland trips with Di, I was also there in 2007, two friends and I for the Rose Parade. We stayed in Anaheim and spent a couple 2 evenings and 1 full day enjoying the parks. The parks were crowded and lines were long. The biggest disappointment was staying till midnight on New Years Eve only to have the fireworks cancelled due to the wind. I donít think I will be doing that again.
We grew up with Disney, the Mickey Mouse Club, the Wonderful World of Color, all those fantastic animated and live action films. But we never had the chance to experience a Disney park as a child. Disneyland was too far and WDW did not exist until I reached high school. Sometimes I regret missing out on innocence of a childís first magical visit. Like Peter, however, I have never grown up. I just see the magic a little differently.
The two of us talk almost incessantly about Disney, things we have done, what we want to do, when to go, where to stay, where to eat and on and on. I hope you will join in our conversations. And along the way, to get to know us better, we will share some of our Disney favorites
Zig Magic Kingdom
Wizards, part 2
(:confused3Sorry, I havent quite figured out how to link things together here, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it someday.)
So, we are planning our October 2010 trip to encompass Harry Potter over at Universal, a stay in the Pirate rooms at CBR pirate:and another visit to the MNSSHP. We actually were going to stay at the CBR this past March, but due to logistic problems/delays with the Pirate Rooms, we were unexpectedly upgraded to the Beach Club about a week before we were scheduled to leave. Actually it was 3 days. That was both a blessing :cloud9:and a curse:scared1:, blessing because we probably wouldnít have chosen to stay there on our own, and a curse, because we had to redo all our plans. But I really liked the proximity to Epcot:cool1:, we were at the very end of the building, all we had to do was take the stairs down one floor, walk out the door thru the little wrought iron gate and turn left, over the bridge and we were at the International Gate. Really convenient. No view to speak of, we were on the second floor facing Epcot, but there was nothing but vegetation out our window though we could hear The British Invasion quite well most nights.
I was a bit disappointed about the change. Donít get me wrong, the Beach Club is a beautiful resort. We had a very nice room with a queen bed and a sleeper sofa though, as Di said, the view left something to be desired. Also we were about as far as you could possibly be from the lobby which made for a long trek to refill those mugs. And I had worked so hard on the pirate theme, finding pirate Mickey to ride in the car with us, decorating a pirate notebook with all our vital info, even making pirate/tropical themed envelopes for mousekeeping. Not to mention replanning my wardrobe and repacking my suitcase. I have enough POC/pirate theme clothing to last me through a 2 week trip to the World but somehow it didnít quite seem to fit with the Beach Club atmosphere.
So this time we hope the pirate room comes through. Zig is all pirate all the time, so this was her choice. Iím not complaining though, Iíve seen the pics, it looks pretty cool. This is our second time at a moderate, we were at CSR years ago. Iím not liking the size of the resort, but the food court looks pretty tasty, and the resort itself looks quite pretty. We are not pool people, but we have been trying to find time to try out the spas, so far no luck, but hey, third timeís the charm.
I really, really, really hope things turn out the way we would like them to this time. We are looking at dates of 10/10/10 to 10/18/10. If all goes well, fingers crossed, and I get that bonus after the 1st of the year, I will spring for a water view:yay:. Otherwise it will have to be a standard room, for us that usually means a view of the parking lot.
Favorite resort (so far):
Zig Wilderness Lodge
Diane Wilderness Lodge
What will our plans be this time? Well, we have already added a couple of days on for Universal Studio and Harry Potter. We did go to Universal way back in 1992, although I can only remember doing the Beetlejuice Review and Earthquake (which is now Disaster, right?) So the islands will be totally new to me. We have been looking at the Studios on line, and I have to say, there’s not a lot there to attract. See, Zig and I are not thrill riders, and that seems to be Universal’s main priority. So, our main interest will be Harry Potter and then next, for me, Marvel Superhero Island. (I have been a major comic book fan for 45 years and yes, I am extraordinarily pleased that Disney and Marvel will be one. Too bad they can’t add DC to the fold too). I think I would also like to see Jaws, Disaster, Poseidon’s Fury and maybe the Seuss Sky Trolley. I would have liked to have seen the Sinbad show, but I understand it will be gone by the time we get there. Otherwise, it looks like it’s a lot of walking around and shopping for me. So why are we spending two days there, you ask? Harry Potter of course, we expect to spend a great deal of time there, even if we don’t want to ride the Fantastical Journey, is that what it’s called?
In fact, Harry Potter is the reason for this trip. Our original plans were for another spring trip to WDW and, in the fall, attend the World Equestrian Games in Lexington , KY. But the magic of the Harry Potter universe is calling me and I really want immerse myself in that world as soon as possible. So, you say, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens in Spring 2010, why not still make that spring trip? My hope it that most people will rush down there for the opening and by fall the crowds will have thinned a bit. I have extremely high expectations for this World. We visited Harry Potter, the Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago (on my birthday, no less, where I was lucky enough to be sorted into Griffindor House). The detail that went into the costumes and props for the films was phenomenal, even for the smallest items that might never be noticed on the screen. If even 1/10th of that detail is put into the World of HP at Universal by the artists and engineers creating it, the experience is going to be simply amazing.
Favorite Harry Potter movie:
Zig: The Order of the Phoenix
Diane: The Chamber of Secrets
This trip is going to require a bit more planning than the last one. It has been quite awhile since we last were at Universal Studios. The Islands of Adventure didnít even exist then. So far I havenít had much luck in the research department. Iíve checked a couple of websites but havenít found anything as informative and the Disney sites. Any suggestions on where to go for detailed information? :confused:
Once we decide when we are going and where we are going to stay, our next plans always seem to center around where we are going to eat. I remember very clearly that we ate at Melís Diner the last time we were at US. I love diners so there was no way we could pass that up. But where to eat this time? The Three Broomsticks, of course, probably on our first day there. I have heard that Mythos is supposed to be one of the best theme parks restaurants around.::yes:: Any comments on the food or photos of the restaurant? I have also been looking for menus for the US restaurants to no avail.
Iíve checked a few Universal sites myself, and their information is not nearly as complete as any for Disney.:sad1: I guess Iím spoiled, because I was expecting detailed ride descriptions, photos, menus, and more. So I guess this part of the trip will be more of a surprise. Like I mentioned last time, there are not many attractions that interest us, so we will be spending our time looking at the parks and just taking it easy there I guess. I would like to eat at Melís again, since I have no memory of eating there at all. And it looks like Mythos has a really interesting dťcor, so I would like to see that. Or maybe the Captain America Diner, I wonder if they have an all superhero dťcor:charac4:.
Two days for Universal. Is that too much time or not enough time? :confused3 As Di said, we are not thrill riders, a fact that sometimes irks me because I feel we miss out on a lot of cool stuff. But motion sickness is not fun. :sick: I can take the shaking and rattling but the swooping and plummeting will get me every time. Soariní is about as thrilling as I get.:woohoo: I can deal with the swooping sensation there because I am not actually moving and the feeling can easily be controlled by closing my eyes. I have to ride alone though, because Di won't even attempt it.
(Oh no, I certainly will not. I once had labyrinthitis and thatís enough whirling and spinning for a lifetime, thank you very much. So no swooping, no plummeting for me. Actually we rode Indiana Jones at Disneyland . It was very rough, and the only reason for me to ever ride it again is because it is Indiana Jones. :lovestruc(I like him). So although I know Dinosaur is supposed to have the same basic ride dynamics as Indy I will not be riding that. Heck I wont even ride the Tea Cups and I love Alice .)
Since Universal seems to focus more on thrill rides than anything else it doesnít look like we will ride much while we are there. Looks like we will even have to give up Men In Black because of the spinning at the end. (No teacups for me.) We are going in mid October so we may be affected by their Horror Nights. :scared1: Do they have that every night? Need to check on that. Right now it looks like we will be there on Monday and Tuesday.
But one thing about skipping the thrill rides, it means less time standing in line. I intend to immerse myself in Potterland:wizard: as soon as we arrive. I imagine that will take up most of our first day. But will we have enough to fill a whole second day? Right now the plans are for 2 days at Universal and 6 at WDW. We are considering a 7 day hopper for an extra day in case we finish up early at US one day and want to hit a WDW park in the evening. Should we go for 8? The ticket price isnít that much different and we have no idea what time we will be arriving on Sunday.
All Potter, all the time, thatís my theme for Universal. I am definitely excited about the progress so far, and really cant wait til itís done and I can get all the details about whatís what, whoís who and whereís where. I do believe we will be heading to IOA first when we arrive at Universal, and save the Studios for last. I am wondering about the size of Universal (either side) as compared to Disney: MK-like? AK-like? Not like at all? :confused3: It would help if I had an approximation of the amount of walking around I am going to be doing, I think.
Favorite Hogwarts Professor
Zig: Professor Lupin
Diane: Professor MacGonagall
I am jumping in on your thread lol I am going to disney for the first time next OCTOBER and am sooo excited:) It will be me, my Dh and my 3 girls:) I cant wait!!!!
Welcome aboard.:yay: Hope you enjoy reading about our plans. You will definitely have a great time at Disney yourself next year. And congratulations on your anniversary.:flower3:
A Big :welcome:from me as well. I know you are excited about your first trip because I'm excited about my 5th. Hope you enjoy the read. Looking forward to you comments.
When we first started discussing a WDW trip with a side excursion to US for Harry World, we talked about staying 2 nights at a Universal resort then moving to WDW for the rest of the trip.
Holy Whomping Willow, Batman!:(Yes, we know he is not a Marvel character, but Holy Whomping Willow, Spiderman/Captain America/Hulk, does not have the same ring) How does anyone afford to stay there? And here I always thought I would never be able to afford a deluxe resort at WDW (before I got a better job) (actually I never thought I would be able to afford one at all) but these rates were unbelievable.:eek: We would definitely need a stupendous special offer to be able to stay there.
The original idea had been to enjoy the whole Universal experience but at these prices it was time to consider alternative arrangements. I looked into other hotels in the areas. There were a few chains within a couple of miles with decent rates and some discounts for the Studios, a few even had shuttle service to the parks. Then I got to thinking,:idea: why spend time unpacking for two nights, then repacking to move to our WDW resort when we could just stay at WDW for the whole time. Plus I didn’t care for the idea of leaving the packed car parked in the US parking lot for the day.
I discussed this idea with Di and we crunched a few numbers. It would be cheaper to stay the two nights at a chain in the US area but time was also a factor. The time we would spend unpacking, packing, checking out, checking in and unpacking again could be time we would have to enjoy our resort, grab a meal or head to a park. So we decided to spend our whole stay at WDW. ::yes:: It’s going to be a test of will power. Will I be able to spend 3 days at a WDW resort without hitting a park??? Or will I be charging the gates, desperate for that first ride, (traditionally POC)???:hyper: (Steady now, steady).
We were pretty much set on CBR since our plans for the pirate room pirate:on our last trip were switched at the last minute. Then I found the Room Photos thread on the Resorts Board. Big mistake. POFQ, Poly, AKL, Pop! (What about GF and POR, and another stay at CSR and WL?) So many rooms, so little time.:woohoo: Can I go once a month so I can stay at a different resort each time? Please, please, please??? OK. Take a deep breath. Think calming thoughts. That’s it. We’re staying at CBR for 9 nights.:goodvibes (This is why I let Zig do all the logistical planning. She is a superior number cruncher).[/
Favorite Marvel (Disney) Character
Di: It's hard to choose, there are so many, but I will go with Gambit at this time.
A Little Background
It occurs to me that our ďgentle readersĒ might like a bit more info on me and Zig.:goodvibes So far, you know that we are sisters, close in age and we travel together. Well, we are both happily single, with no children. So our trips to Disney are for our own enjoyment, and since we pretty much like the same sort of things, thereís not much disagreement about what we are going to do, or where we are going to stay. I work in medical billing, Zig has a mysterious job with a financial company, :cool: (if only). We are far from independently wealthy, but we can afford to indulge ourselves on vacation trips. Weíre only on our fifth trip to Disney (in 2010) but so far weíve also been to Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland and Korea (Zig), Germany (me) and have traveled a lot in the States. We used to make a yearly (almost) trip to World Con (the World Science Fiction Convention) wherever it was held that year, but we havenít been in a while. (I guess that attraction has finally waned).:confused3 The last trip was LACon in 2006 where we also spent a great deal of time at Disneyland . The convention was held in the same convention center as the recent D23 Expo.::MickeyMo However, we now have Disney and I think itís going to be a while before the bright shiny newness of that wears off, especially with all those different resorts to stay at. :cloud9:
So now you know we both like SF&F. Besides being a lover of Star Wars, Star Trek and Stargate, I am also a huge fan of Doctor Who and Torchwood. (Me too! Me too!):banana: And, of course, Harry Potter, both the books and the films. We love movies popcorn::and have a small group of friends that go almost every Tuesday night and have been doing so for almost 10 years. I like to read too, but lately donít seem to have as much time for that as I would like. :sad1:
And, as you may have guessed, we like to travel. (Well Zig likes to travel, a lot. Me, I like vacations at home, too) I know people who believe that once they have visited a place they need never return. I donít know where they would place WDW in that point of view but Iím sure they would think us nuts to be making a third trip in three years. :woohoo:
In truth, while I have never had a problem returning to a place I have enjoyed visiting, I never thought I would be the kind of person that would return to Disney World year after year. But everything about our 2008 trip was so perfect we hadnít been back 3 weeks before Di broached the subject of going back. (Yes, itís all my fault):guilty: Since I was thinking the same thing, there was no hesitation in saying yes. ;) We made plans for Fall 2009, but thanks to Cinderellaís Wishing Well, my wish :wizard:to return to WDW very soon came true and we were back in March 2009. This trip was almost as perfect as the previous one. When you have such wonderful experiences how can you resist going back?
And we have had great experiences at WDW, and at Disneyland too. So itís not a big leap for us to decide to return more often. We actually are already thinking about going back in 2012 too, after the Great MK Update. :cheer2:
Favorite Fantasy Novel
Zig: The Chronicles of Amber Series by Roger Zelazny
Di: Return to Oz by L Frank Baum
Less than 1 year to our next trip!!!
Questions, we got Questions
While we love, love, love:lovestruc to plan I, for one, never feel secure until my room is booked. So how long do you wait to book your trip? We are hoping for some sort of discount, either on rooms or free dining. How long should we wait to see if there is an offer for our scheduled dates?:confused3 If we book our trip and then a discount offer comes along, can we just ask to have that discount applied to the package we have already booked or do we need to scrap that package and start all over again to get the discount?
When we went back in March, it was because Zig got a pin code in an email from Disney, so we already were set for the 4 for 3 promotion then. But when we went in Sep 2008, we used a travel agent (donít get me started on her) and we didnít seem to get any discounts. I even think free dining was going on for part of our trip. I hope my fellow Dis-sers can assist us with these questions.:thanks:
Meals and meals and meals
Letís talk ADRs. I like my table service meals but Di found, after our Sep 08 trip, that too many table service meals encroach on our time for other activities. In March we did the quick service plan, which worked out very well, for us.:goodvibes We did do 4 table service meals, including the Princess Breakfastprincess: in Norway, which we used the $200 gift card and our Visa Rewards to pay for. This time the plan is much the same. Unless we get free dining, Diane and I plan to go with the quick service dining plan again and use our Visa Rewards to pay for our table service meals.
I like table service meals too, just not in the middle of my day. I am always looking out the window, wanting to get back to the action. So itís quick service for me. Besides, there are so many quick service options to choose from. We especially like Cosmic Rayís at MK, Yak and Yeti (counter) at AK, Backlot Express at DHS, and Sunshine Seasons at Epcot.:sunny:
We know we will be doing breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafť on our last morning (Tuesday) at WDW. It has become a tradition to have our last breakfast there before we head for home. We will also be doing Prime Time Cafť again. We first tried it in Sep 08 and absolutely fell in love with the place, :cheer2:so much so that we couldnít wait to go back in March. I think this is going to be another ďmust doĒ for us. (Yep, we need to go visit the aunts and cousins again.) Maybe we will try dinner this time.
We want to do another character meal. As much as we love the Princess Breakfast in Norway, we thought we might try something different this time. Di suggested Chef Mickeyís. ::MickeyMoWe havenít had a meal with the Big Guy since breakfast with Farmer Mickey at the Garden Grill way back in 1999. Good idea! Iím looking forward to this one. I hear itís loads of fun.
Somehow, we donít seem to have a lot of interaction with Mickey while we are at the parks. So having breakfast with him over at Chef Mickeyís seems like a good idea. And we have not eaten over at the Contemporary yet, so we will be able to scope out the place and see how we like it.:dance3:
Favorite Character Meal
Zig: Princess Breakfast at Akershus Norway Epcot
The Start of Park Planning
So we know where we want to eat but not when. Now we need to take a look at what parks on what days. This is going to require some thought. :scratchin
There really wasnít much difference in our plans for the Sep 08 and Mar 09 trips. We switched AK from Monday, early EMH day, to Sunday because in Sep the park was unbearably crowded on Monday and every other person seemed to be pushing a stroller. (Not trying to be critical, it just seemed like there were a lot of strollers at AK, not so much at the other parks. Maybe it has to do with the way the paths are laid out.) :confused3In March we found Sunday to be a much less crowded and more pleasant day. We also wanted to spend more time in Epcot in March. We did not schedule enough time to see everything when we were there in Sep and this trip the Flower and Garden Show would be on as well. (Actually that (the Flower and Garden show) was a deciding factor in going again in March (besides the 4 for 3 deal). I am an avid gardener (OK, I am a gardener, avid depends on what time of year it is) and I wanted to see how Disney would improve on their already splendid gardens.:butterfly
On both those trips we arrived on Saturday and departed the following Saturday. This time we will be arriving on Sunday. Since this will be the first time we are doing a 2 day drive, :drive:we are not sure what time we will reach the resort. Oh, in case, you are wondering, we are coming down from just south of Chicago , around the junction of I294 and I80-94. When we drove down in March, we made our first night in Kentucky, and our second in Lake City , Florida . So we arrived at our resort, Beach Club, at 11:15am, way early. This time, I figure we wonít be arriving at CBR until later in the afternoon. Iím a little unsure what to plan for that evening. We may be too tired to do anything but crash that day. :faint:
Monday and Tuesday will be full days at Universal. Our actual Disney Park Days won't start until Wednesday. :woohoo: We will most likely do MK on Thursday to take advantage of early EMH. Weíll schedule HS for Saturday for their early EMH. :wizard: We have never been able to take advantage of that on our other trips. It will be interesting to see what the crowds are like.
We actually like EMH. I know a lot of people say you should avoid the parks with EMH, but we never really find it to be exceptionally crowded on those days, or maybe we just donít know any better, since we have always gone to early EMH :goodvibes
We could do AK on Sunday again, just at the end of the trip instead of the beginning. Friday is a possibility too. What are the crowds like then? Anyone know? :listen:
There are too many unknown factors to make more definite plans right now. We want to do MNSSHP so will need an evening available for that. We really liked MNSSHP. We dressed up, I was a colonial serving maid and Zig was a pirate. We plan on dressing up again next time. I have concerns about F&W crowds at Epcot and wonder if we should try to avoid the evenings there on the weekend. We have been seeing a lot of negativity about the weekend on the boards the last couple weeks. :drinking1So this hasnít been much help in planning ADRs. We know it will be the last Tuesday morning for Whispering Canyon Cafť. It looks like it might be Saturday for Prime Time unless we schedule an evening at HS and try to do dinner. :confused: That still leaves Chef Mickey and the Rose and Crown. Stay tuned for more details as they arrive.
Favorite table service restaurant:
Zig Prime Time Cafť
Diane Prime Time Cafe
Went to a rubber stamp show in Fort Wayne on Saturday. Unfortunately nothing gave me any inspiration for my next round of mousekeeping envelopes.:sad1: I was tempted to buy the moneyholder template but I'm pretty happy with the template I created:thumbsup2 Wish I had photos of the last two batches of envelopes I made. They came out pretty nice. But I'm usually finishing things at the last minute so that didnt happen. Of course, getting 2 feet of water :scared1: in our basement a week before we left on our first trip did not help. Maybe this time I wont procratinate. :rotfl:
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