"For a few Fastpasses more!" TR-Nov 9-18, 2013 (Cruise TR LINK added April 10th)
Hey everyone, and welcome to my TR for our November 2013 trip. For those that havent followed along before, I am a 43-year old husband and dad to a 10-year old daughter. I used to go to Disney World each summer as a child back in the seventies, and my wife and I have become the typical DIS Disney addicts. This was our 10th trip to WDW, our 8th with DD. (Throw in two DL trips in the last two years and you got an even dozen.) This is the 2nd trip of a 9 month self-titled Disney Trifecta which included an ABD/DL trip back in June, this trip to WDW, and a Disney Cruise in February 2014. This will be our Disney fix for a while, as nothing else is planned until 2015!
I have to admit up front, this was a bit of an odd trip. It was our first trip to WDW in two years, and we were really looking forward to it, and there were a lot of parts of it that were really great. However, overall, it didnt really give ME (anyways) the satisfaction that most of our trips have, and I cant quite put a finger on why. Part of it may have been a foot injury that occurred back in October that meant I was in middling to severe pain for a good portion of the trip. Part of it may have been the glitchiness of the whole My Disney Experience thing which led to us spending what seemed like a LOT of time in line with Guest Services/Front Desk/Concierge. Part of it may have been the weather, the last few trips we have been on have had spectacular weather, and this one, while not horrible, had some not very nice days along the way. Part of it may have been our DDs at times very tweeny attitude. And finally Part of it may have been the way the last day ended in a big mess that really left a feeling of stress. In truth, it was probably the combination of all those things that made this a not that spectacular trip.
I dont want to sound entirely glum on the trip. We again got to see and do all the things we wanted to over the 10 days we were there. The cast members we interacted with were all universally fantastic. The crowds for the most part were moderate to low (with the exception of Food and Wine), and the thing that I will consider the most special from the trip was that we got a chance to spend many parts of it from friends that we met here on the DIS!
Real quick why did I name the trip For a Few Fastpasses More? Well, I had already named the first portion of the Disney Trifecta A Fistful of Fastpasses mostly for the fact that we were given out Fastpasses during the Backstage Magic trip. As a huge fan of the Sergio Leone Man with No-Name trilogy, I had also used a daily recap of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly on that trip, and will continue to do that on this trip seemed more than appropriate. The second movie in the trilogy might be my favorite, For a Few Dollars More. And since we were going to WDW with the opportunity to both use regular FP and also pre-booked FP+, all the things we did For a Few Fastpasses More seemed kind of crazy in hindsight.
For those that missed it - A link to "A Fistful of Fastpasses"
(And, yes for the Leone fans out there I am now planning on naming my THIRD trip report Once Upon a Time in the Caribbean. If youre not a fan look it up.)
So, lets get on it lets talk about For a Few Fastpasses More!
Table Of Contents
Day 1 - Traveling to the World / Tusker House Lunch
Day 1 - More AK adventures
Day 2 - Epcot morning
Day 2 - Food and Wine time
Day 3 - Monday morning by the pool and MK
Day 3 - Tomorrowland and New Fantasyland
Day 3 - Be Our Guest
Day 3 - Be Our Guest II
Day 3 - MVMCP - Part I - things get ugly
Day 3 - MVMCP - Part II
Day 4 - Resort Time and DTD
Day 5 - Hollywood Studios morning (Feb 5th)
Day 5 - Lunch and Characterpalooza
Day 5 - Backlot tour and Osborne Lights
Day 6 - It's an Epcot afternoon!
Day 6 - DIS meet at the Garden Grill
Day 7 - MK & Old/New Fantasyland
Day 7 - Belle and Mary Blair
Day 7 - The Biddity, Bobbity, Boo
Day 7 - More Princesses and a Jungle Cruise
Day 7 - O'Hana
Day 8 - A rainy AK day
Day 8 - More wet AK
Day 8 - Yatchsman Steakhouse / Jellyrolls
Day 9 - Blizzard Beach
Day 9 - Tutto Italia
Day 10 - Morning at MK
Day 10 - A bus tour of WDW,wrap-up and final thoughts
BIG NEWS ON NEXT TRIP!
Following along! :goodvibes
Travel, arrival, and getting through the check-in!
Maybe it started right from the beginning, the nagging little things. We had a 7:10 AM flight out of Buffalo, and were able to convince my DMIL to drive us to the airport. We got to the airport and through security with no difficulties and then stopped to get some breakfast. I went to use the restroom, and when I came back, they were boarding the plane, and my DW and DD seemed oblvious to this. So I gathered everyone up and we went over to the gate and got on board the plane.
Well, somewhere in between leaving the café and getting onto the plane, I dropped my sweatshirt. I know I picked it up from the café, but didn’t have it on the plane. They of course wouldn’t let me get off to try and find it. The best they could do was promise to turn it into Lost and Found. (I’ll save you the suspense – still in the “Lost” category.) The worst part – this was the sweatshirt I bought at Mickey’s of Glendale on the ABD trip – no way to replace that! Perhaps this was an omen of the troubles to come. I tried to not let it dampen the start of our vacation, what can you do, once I stepped on that plane it was gone. Plus it’s only a piece of fabric. No big, right?
I was a lot more concerned at this stage with the timing of everything. We had a 1:30 PM ADR at Tusker House, and our plane landed at 10:00 AM, giving us two and half hours from landing to make it to the park.
Things started out really great, we were off the plane about 10 minutes early, I had convince DW to use the facilities on the plane so we could head right for ME.
We got to the ME, and they immediately boarded us onto a bus, which left within 5 minutes, and that bus then had its very first stop at Caribbean Beach Resort! We were at the check-in desk within an hour of stepping off the plane.
Check-in also went very smoothly. They were able to link our resort key to our Magic Bands (which I will stick with MB from now on). We had received two sets of MB from Disney because we had a continuing reservation. Two days of room only, followed by a seven-night free dining package. I had selected to use the package MB set, but the desk clerk indicated that either set would work for us.
We wanted to pick up our tickets early, but knew that we would have to go to the park to do that. We were told that the room would be ready in less than 30 minutes, and since it was only 11:00 AM, we decided to wait.
We got the page that our room was ready in about 25 minutes, and we were off to the room. At first we were going to wait for the Internal Shuttle, but it was taking so long we decided to hoof it. The walk was probably a little longer than we had though lugging our carry-ons. However, our room location was fantastic.
Caribbean Beach is a huge sprawling resort that is spread around a central lake. On of the best (non-preferred) locations is the central Buildings in the Jamaica section. These buildings are located directly across the lake from Old Port Royale, but a short walk across a Bridge/Island takes you to the main hub in about 5 minutes. In addition, the walk to the bus stop from our room was probably about 1.5 minutes. So overall, we were extremely happy with our room location, and the room itself was clean and well maintained as one would hope!
A future view on the last part of the trifecta:
We dropped our stuff, and it was off to catch a bus to Animal Kingdom! We didn’t wait long for this either, and we found ourselves outside the gates of Animal Kingdom just before 1 PM.
Christmas on November 8th. While I enjoy the Christmas decorations, I have to complain about the incessant Christmas music that they played EVERYWHERE in the parks. Similar to our last trip, I again miss the regular background music!
However, when I headed for Guest Services, there was a line about 25 deep of people waiting there. Yikes! I was surprised mid-day to see this line being so long. So, we waited in line to pick up our tickets. I explained to the CM that we were picking up our package tickets early, and there were no problems at all with getting the tickets. They gave us both a hard ticket as well as linking it to our MBs. It was now 1:20 PM, and it was time for us to head into the park and get some lunch. After a quick stop with the Spoonbills to get our wilderness explorer book…
Donald met us out front for a quick photo/sales opportunity!
I can see from this picture how my foot was already giving me problems!
We love Tusker House as a lunch buffet. It has been a character breakfast for a long time, but a non-character ethic lunch. We love the food, but were excited to see what it would be like as a character lunch. Would the food quality go down?
The answer to that was “No”. The many unique and delicious food choices were as good as I remembered. We especially like the Samosa’s, a fried dumpling containing a potato mixture. The Spicy BBQ pork and the beef were also great.
The only negative here was having to pay for the meal OOP. Ouch. We’ve been coming on free dining for so long I forget how expensive this place could be. And that’s including the fact that we were awful human beings and had our daughter lie about her age saying she was only 9. (They asked too, the *******s!) But let me tell you, she ate about 9 mini-corn dogs, an uncrustable, and a few bites of mac and cheese, so if you want to tell me I should happily pay $35 for her to eat that you’ve got another thing coming. She didn’t even want to stick around for the characters. We were in the restaurant about an hour, and only Daisy had come by right at the start (Goofy and Mickey must’ve just passed, as they were all bunched together.)
We wanted to make it to see “Flights of Wonder” at the last show of the day (3 PM) and we knew we had to leave to get there without a rush. Fortunately our waitress arranged for us to get a special meeting with Goofy and Mickey on our way out.
ETA - Room and food at TH looks great. Sounds like you had a few bumps on the way....I guess I'll be reading about them. Glad to see you're back and I hope the foot is feeling better??
Count me in! Tusker House is one of those places where I've always wanted to eat, but I've just never gotten around to dining there. CBR was the first Disney resort I stayed at, so it holds a special place in my heart. I'm looking forward to following along...
I am laughing a bit. Both our trip reports for this trip are starting off with the whole overall attitude of "It's not quite as magical as we thought it would be". Maybe there was something in the air down in Orlando?!?
And I see you already named your third trip report- all with much thought... so much for my suggestion over on my TR. :) Although I still like it. Maybe I'll name MY Disney Cruise Trip Report that.
An attitudy tweeny? What is that. Oh wait, right.. I have three daughters. Two already in that stage. I get it. I like to ignore it. It works best that way. If that doesn't work I threaten to never let them miss school again for travel. That usually curbs the attitude quicklike!
Did you notice that all the big trees seemed lopsided this year? All three I really looked at (The AK one, the HS one & EPCOT one) all leaned. I guess cast members are too busy working on magic band issues to fix the trees....
Great start! Fun lunch at Tusker. And sorry about your sweatshirt. Your replacement one was nice...
I didn't think about how our TRs were sort of similar in that way...the problem with Disney trips is you keep wanting to top the previous one - and in this case we just didn't have the wherewithal to do so. I don't want to sign too whiny, we really did have a great time about 90 % of the time, just some problems that were uncharacteristic from a Disney trip.
Glad to see you started! I'm sorry to read it wasn't the best of trips though. I had a similar experience on our first and probably only November trip. Although I immensely enjoyed the interactions with Paxton on his first trip, the crowds & weather in November just didn't impress me.
I have to say first, I love your DW's Mickey shirt! That is so cute, and so AK appropriate. :goodvibes What a bummer about losing your sweatshirt. :( Hopefully it will make it into the "Found" category sooner rather than later.
Other than the sweatshirt incident, it sounds like a pretty good travel day so far. Lunch looked like a lot of fun. That's great that the waitress was able to make sure y'all met all of the characters before leaving. That's a big part of that hefty price tag!
Looking forward to more!!
And your right that you pay for the character interaction. However, if you eat dinner there - it's the same hefty price with no characters. (As is Boma - a similar meal with no characters.)
Update coming shortly!!!
Day 1 - More AK Adventures
So, when we last left the TR, we had made it through all the travel / check-in / ticket pick-up rigamarole and gotten our lunch with the characters. Now it was time to see some the park...we moseyed across the back of the park to see DD favorite show...flights of wonder.
After this – DD had been talking about getting a Frozen Lemonade (her obsession for this trip) at Animal Kingdom for months, so she now wanted to get it. Well, we figured the closest location we knew of was back in Harambe, and we could watch the parade take-off from there.
Well, we get back to where they used to sell it – no Frozen lemonade, said they never sold it there (untrue). The girl lists the locations where they sell it. Meanwhile, I take some pictures of my favorite theming at WDW
When in Harambe, attend the Computer Training seminars held above Tusker House.
Love the posters all over the walls around here.
We head for location #2 – by Kali River Rapids – nope they don’t sell it there. Now we’re all getting weary of walking, and people are getting lined up for the parade. So, we head back towards the Discovery Island spot – nope don’t sell it there! Last chance, a cart by Dinoland – so I leave DW and DD to get a spot for the parade. By now my poor injured foot is killing me, but I keep trekking – finally! Frozen Lemonade! Hurrah! I purchase it and head back, but now I am being blocked from reaching my family by some Christmas themed animal floats. I take a few pictures before finding someplace to sit down for a bit.
My favorite float in this Christmas version is the Santa Goofy one, because he has stockings for all the good characters. This is the first time I've ever seen the parade from this side, so was able to get a shot of the Fab Five stockings!
Finally DD gets her Frozen Lemonade! Yeah!
We had some time to kill before the last event of the day – we decided to go through the Maharajah Jungle Trek – it was good we did this today – as our NEXT AK day – well, let’s just say it was a bit soggy. (I didn't mention the weather today - but it was pretty good, a bit overcast, but the temperatures were comfortable in the high seventies.
Again, I just love the theming here. The Tigers were unfortunately not in the best viewing positions, so I didn't get a picture of them, but some shots of the palace.
DW Halloween costume for next year – Betty the Yeti!
All we really have left that we want to accomplish today is the Finding Nemo show. This was actually the first (and only) use of FP+ for the day. When we were at the restaurant, I went on my smartphone and booked it. Perhaps it was because we didn’t show up right when they opened the gate, but there was ZERO benefit to the FP+. While the main line was still going into the theater, entry in through the FP+ terminal did not get you any special seating, you simply entered at the back of the theater instead of the side. We ended up way down in the front because the usher told us if we want bubbles we should sit down low. Of course we were too low really – second row.
The show was as I remembered it. It’s actually a really good show EXCEPT the songs are really sort of blah. Too bad because the performance, staging, costuming and puppets are all great. No pictures of course, because they ask for that.
At the end of the show, the park was actually still open for another hour, but we found ourselves wearing down from the early start, so we decided to head back to the hotel as we had accomplished what we wanted to do. We got pretty good bus karma, and were able to head back to the room pretty quick. We got a pizza for DD, while I got the Cuban sandwhich from the food court. (No pictures today – sorry!)
We then headed for the pool for a little bit of a swim, before DD turned in for the night around 9 PM. She was pretty ready to crash most nights by that point. DW and I usually stayed up a little later.
As I already said – each day I’m going to give a quick review at the end of the day quantifying “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I also am going to rate the FP+ system versus the FP/old system. So, here we go:
The GoodMagical Express and Online Check-in totally rocked it!
Perfect room location – just steps from the bridge to Port Royale!
We made our 1:35 PM ADR, and Tusker House still good food!
Magic Bands worked great – for now…(dun, dun, duhhhhhhh)
The Bad:Paying for food OOP. (Darn delay in Free Dining!) Ouch my aching wallet.
Ouch, my aching foot.
The Ugly:In my best Captain Jack voice: “Where’s all the frozen lemonade gone?” Maybe I should’ve used my App for that!
FP+ versus FP: Day 1 – Tie: No FP used, One FP+ used – but not really needed.
Don't you read Pete's "Easy WDW" site? He just did a post on all the refreshments in AK not that long ago!!!! I believe lemonade was on there!
Love the pick of DW with YETI hat.
I am a bit bummed I missed so much of AK on the only day we planned there since it was rainy and we only spent like 4 hours there. Looks like you got a lot packed in that first day!
Actually, we missed quite a bit of AK ourselves thanks to that awful rainy day - no boneyard, no Rafiki's Planet Watch, no Pagani...but I'm getting ahead of myself by about a week.
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