4 days at AS Music with Dining
Thanks to folks on this board - and Merrie at Dreams Unlimited Travel - I was able to plan and execute a great 3 1/2 day trip to WDW with:
pirate: Son (almost 5) and
It was GREAT! Here's a brief summary of our experiences and a few things I learned. (I did not have any experiences that came even close to ruining a moment, let alone the trip, but it's always nice to learn things and hope that others won't make the same small mistakes I've made, which is the only reason I share anything negative here. It was really a wonderful trip).
Day 1: We were visiting family in Georgia, and had a 5 hour drive to WDW. (We flew home straight from Orlando). So........ Day 1 started out with a 5 hour drive. This was not ideal, but I didn't realize how much there was to do at Disney until after our plans were already made. We got to All Star Music about 12:30 pm. The CM who checked us in was probably the worst CM I met in 4 days. He was nice, just kind of pokey and unsure of himself. But our rooms were READY, and altho they didn't have a King as I requested, they were 2 adjoining rooms, which worked out great for the four of us. (I didn't realize the outside doors were not inside hallways, so was glad for the adjoining rooms).
Contrary to the advice in the travel guides (and I consulted Frommer's, Fodor's and Birnbaum's!) we headed straight to a park after dropping our stuff in the rooms. We caught the bus and were in Animal Kingdom by 2 pm! This was an extra magic day, so we enjoyed this park from 2-8 pm, which was plenty of time. I really really loved this park. Unfortuantely we missed the Lion King, which was something on my "must see" list, but the times just didn't every work out for us. As I was waffling about doing the River Rapids (I didn't want to get wet before dinner), I spotted a poncho somebody had left at the exit to the ride. I used it and loved the ride...... then passed it on to a grateful person when I was done. This park was very quiet the day we were there.......... it was so calm during the extra magic hours, it really did feel like we had the park to ourselves.
We had an 8:40 pm dinner reservation at Boma, just a short 2 minute bus ride from Animal Kingdom. I was a little disappointed in the bus service at this point. I would have expected busses to be WAITING for people headed to the resorts at closing time. We waited over 20 minutes for the FIRST bus headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge when Animal Kingdom closed at 8 pm. Fortunately we were close to the front of the line, and got on the first bus. Busses for every other resort went by before ours came....) We got to Boma at 8:30, and we were paged promptly at 8:40 for a waiting table. The buffet was amazing. Really good stuff.... there has been lots of discussion about the food at Boma, so I won't reitierate here. And God bless them for having PB&J on the buffet for my 5 year old.
A CM at Animal Kingdom had assured us that some sort of bus service would get us from the AK lodge back to ASMusic after we ate. He seemed to be mistaken, so we just grabbed a cab. $8 plus tip, and about a 5 minute drive. No problem. We crashed hard that night....... but set our alarms to get up at 7:30 the next day.
Things I learned on Day 1.
Be diligent about the times for shows you really don't want to miss.
Don't be afraid to take a cab. ;)
Don't believe everything you read in the travel guides. Some of the stuff that sounded boring in the guides was really fun (like the Rafiki train thing).
Kids rides can be fun, even if your kid won't go. (My hubby and I really enjoyed the Pteradactyl Spin).
Boma would be more enjoyable (and could be really romantic) without kids. (They don't really appreciate the food, anyway, although my son loved the guy playing the drum in the lobby).
As for food:
We had Tusker House for lunch (counter service) and of course Boma. Tusker house was by far the best counter service we had all week. It wasn't particularly amazing food, but it was more "homemade" than the burgers and fries at the other counter service places.
Tired and jet-lagged........... more tomorrow re: MGM (Sci Fi Dine In), and our first day at the Magic Kingdom.
Questions are welcome.
Enjoyed reading your report ~ Thanx for posting.
thanks for your report.......is the food really far out that kids would not like the food at Boma? I would like to try it when just hubby and I go but when grandkids come we will for go it .........thanks again for your report
Great report! Part 2 quickly please :Pinkbounc
Piglet :cold: (Freezing, back in Alaska)
Great Report, Waiting for more :)
Just a few more thoughts about Animal Kingdom before I move on to Day 2!
- The Kilimanjaro Safari was GREAT, and even my scaredy-cat five year old loved it. The real animals were a treat... and they were very close. Apparently mid-day safaris are fine in the "winter", as 75 degrees is cool to them, so they were all out. (I had read to shoot for early or late for the safari, but that must only apply to summer).
- the ride I mentioned earlier should have been the "Primeval Whirl", which I really liked.
- It's Tough to be a Bug was a riot...... but scared by 5 yo.
- Since we missed Lion King we went to Tarzan Rocks, and it was really outstanding. Very sharp performance by everyone, altho Tarzan himself was not terribly impressive (except for the bod, of course)
Another thing I learned related to Animal Kingdom (but didn't figure it out until the last day) - If you see an AK related souvinier that you really like, buy it. I expected AK stuff to be available at other parks, so I did not buy the terribly cute pooh and a Tiger shirt (or coffee cup) that I wanted, and I never got the chance to go back to AK and get them. The pic is Pooh in Safari gear, and a REAL tiger... and Pooh is squinting at the tiger and saying "Tigger, is that you?" It was adorable, and I searched all three parks and the gift shop at ASMu and never saw the design again.
OK, back later with Day 2.
Day 2 - Part 1
Day 2 was planned for park-hopping. I (correctly) concluded before we left home that MGM would be the least-favorite park for my 5 yo, so we had plans to go there in the a.m., with 2 pm lunch at Sci Fi Dine-in, and then head over for 1/2 day at Magic Kingdom (with Day 3 scheduled to be a full day at MK). This turned out to be a pretty good plan, with a few things I would do differently next time. (see below).
We set our alarms for 7:30 a.m. so we didn't oversleep, and planned on counter-service breakfast. The food court at ASMusic was a ZOO, so we just kept walking to the bus..... we didn't have any luck finding counter service breakfast at MGM, so we ended up PURCHASING (gasp!) a couple of muffins and bottled water at the coffee house next to Sci Fi dine-in. I think this was the only food I purchased the whole time, and I must say the muffin was good.
Here we had our first FastPass experience, and we were AMAZED! What an incredible system......... I can't believe how many people don't use it!! Throughout the remaining time in all the parks, we had a great system down for the big rides. We got all four fast-passes (including one for my 5 yo who didn't want to go on the big rides), then my husband and I would go on the ride and come back with a report. If favorable, one of us would go again with my sister-in-law. Meanwhile we would find things to entertain my son, which thanks to Disney isn't hard to do.
In contrast to Animal Kingdom the day before, MGM had about a zillion people there that day.... so it was hard to get around and the most challenging park we experienced the whole trip in terms of doing the most stuff in the least amount of time. This is a park I would like to return to with out kids, to do the big stuff. (Or at least when my kid(s) are old enough to do some of the stuff I really want to do).
We did Star Tours (without the kid) - fun, but not as scary as I remember from 1992
The Great Movie Ride - also fun, but scared my 5 yo (Not a ride worth a long wait in my opinion, but the wait was only about 10 mins with lots of preshow to watch)
Beauty and the Beast Live - I thought this was awful, but the pre-show was excellent. The B&B cast needed some tightening up..... looked to me like the director hadn't been by in awhile to give notes and clean things up. Also, the lip syncing didn't even get past my son, who said, "Mom, why are they pretending to sing?!"
Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey - I just thought this was dumb - and I usually like Drew Carey. Don't bother, in my opinion.
My son loved the Honey, I shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure playground, but we actually lost him there for over 5 minutes, and I finally alerted a CM.... then we found him about 2 minutes later. However, there is only one way in and out, and they monitor it to make sure kids don't leave alone. So we figured he was in there somewhere. But worst case scenario, it is a place where (although unlikely) an abduction could occur.
We also had pics taken with the MOnsters, Inc. guys.
We made our 2:00 Sci-Fi reservation and had to WAIT longer than anywhere else to get a table. This place was fine, and the food was fine, but it was dark and hard to see the menu or the food, and I didn't care for the way a party of 4 could not really sit together in teh car (everybody facing forward). My son got a kick out of it, and the food was tasty, but I wouldn't go there without kids. Also, the server was not the happiest CM we met all week. (Can't blame him, really). The movie is on about a 1 hour loop, and it was pretty funny - ONCE. We saw about 1 hour and 10 minutes of it, which was too much for me. (Comment on the dining plan here coming up. . .)
We decided to forego our 4:30 Tower of Terror Fastpasses and get the heck out of dodge and go to the MK. However, we ran smack into the parade on our way out of the park, and my son loved it. So that was great timing. (We had a lot of great timing moments on the trip, where we jsut happened to see things b/c we were there, without a lot of planning).
I was disappointed to miss the Indiana Jones Stunt show, Tower of Terror, and the Backlot Tour, and I think my son would have enjoyed more of the shows, but somehow this park just ate up time like crazy.
We headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. (Next post...)
Things I learned at MGM
- there is a boat from MGM to Epcot, so if you want to park-hop, those two parks may be good to do on the same day (altho you cannot do Epcot in one day)
- getting to MK from MGM is tricky........ had to take a bus to the T&T Center, then get on the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Could also have taken a Ferry, but it was just leaving as we got there.
- Regarding the dining plan at Sci Fi.........there has been much discussion about using child meals for adults, and the appropriateness of this, etc. When I went to pay for our 4 meals, the CM insisted on taking all four off of ONE card. (One card had 2 adults and one card had 1 child and 1 adult on it, as that's how our rooms were assigned.) He said this was easier for him, and next time we should just use the OTHER card to pay for 4 meals. Clearly, Disney was not distinguishing b/n the child and adult meals, if he was ringing it up this way......... and he sort of screwed us doing this b/c I didn't remember which card he used, so next time we went to pay it was sort of embarrassing b/c I gave the server the WRONG card and it didn't have enough credits on it to pay, so he had to come back and ask for another card. Anyway, just FYI on the dining plan. Also, the server didn't take into consideration the fact that we might SPLIT UP for future meals, and that would have caused a problem as well. I would insist on keeping the meals segregated next time.
OK, gotta run......... Magic Kingdom is next!!
Another good report - keep writing! :)
Day 2 - part 2
So we managed to find our way from MGM to the Magic Kingdom..... and I was personally so excited to get there, because the MK reminds me so much of Disneyland, of course, where I have so many good memories from the past. My original plan was to get on the train and go to Mickey's Toontown, and work our way back from there through Fantasyland with my 5 yo.... but as soon as we went through the gates, my son wanted to go straight for Cinderella's Castle!! I couldn't believe it. He even asked if we would get to see Cinderella. I was so surprised by this.
They were getting ready to take the flag down when we got there, so it must have been close to 5 pm.
So we made our way down main street toward the castle, then took a left through Liberty Square and found ourselves finally in Fantasyland. We rode the Carrousel first, then I took my son on Dumbo. We covered It's a small world, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and the mad Tea Party - all to favorable reviews with my son. We all did the Indy Speedway - which was probably our longest wait of the whole trip at 20 minutes. Again, son loved it. Then we visited Toontown and all it had to offer. Very cute. My husband and I previewed the Barnstormer, which we thought was a great 15 second roller coaster, but my son declined to ride. At some point (it's all a blur now) we also let my son play in the new Winnie the Pooh Playful Spot playground, which was very nice. (Could have used more places for parents to sit right by the entrance/exit, though).
We grabbed a bite at Cosmic Ray's (counter service - fine, but much like other counter service during our stay), and wandered out of Cosmic Ray's to realize the fireworks would be starting any minute. (9pm) We had a good spot to see those (no Spectromagic Parade that night)... even tho the fireworks were kind of behind the trees where we were, they were still good. Son was thrilled when Tink flew down from the castle. So was I, frankly. After the fireworks we somehow (unintentionally) managed to just beat the huge crowd to Buzz Lightyear. A short 10 minute wait and we were in. (HUGE line formed behind us - I love that!) Probably my son's favorite ride of the whole trip. Then, while we waited for our Space Mountain Fastpasses to kick in, we went into Stitch's Great Escape (ok, but don't wait in line for it unless you are a big Stitch fan) and rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority - TWICE. My son LOVED this train through Tomorrowland. I deemed the Tomorrowland Transit Authority the most under-rated ride in the park. I thought it was delightful....relaxing.... and gave my son a sneak peak into space mountain, which he would NEVER go on, so that was fun.
Space Mountain was, of course, a thrill. It had been 13 years since I had been on it, and I loved it.
A this point we figured we had pushed the kid hard enough....... and we weren't too upset to leave b/c we knew we would spend the whole day here tomorrow (Day 3).
We had a bit of an adventure getting back to All Star Music, because having arrived from MGM on the monorail (via the Ticket and Transportation Center), we never saw the busses. (Later, when I was paying more attention, I STILL never saw signs to the busses..... and the busses themselves are not visible from the gate at the MK. I guess you just have to know....) So silly us we thought we could take the monorail back to the T&T center, and catch a bus from there to the All STar Music Resort. FYI - YOU CAN'T!!
So, we had a nice monorail ride through the Contemporary, Poly, and Grand Floridian, before returning to MK and finding a bus back to our resort. At least we all thought it was funny. :rotfl:
I don't think my kid even got a bath that night!
I was disappointed to miss Peter Pan's flight, but that's about it in those three areas.
I can't say that I really "learned anything" or made any "mistakes" at the MK on this occasion........ we were all just so happy to be there.
Day 3 - whole day at the MK, with extra magic hours at Epcot alone with my hubby. Stay tuned. :earboy2:
Enjoying your trip reports - thanks!
Day 3! - Part 1
OK, on with the story. In my original plan, I had schedule days 3 and 4 to be "Mornings at MK, Afternoons at Epcot." However, once we got there and I realized the travel time involved in park-hopping.... this seemed sort of silly. So we adjusted our plan to Day 3 at MK, Day 4 at Epcot. This involved some changing of dining reservations, but no biggie.
We were exhausted from our first 2 days of fun..... so we didn't try to accomplish anything before our 10 am Crystal Palace reservation. We got to MK just in time to walk down main street and check in at CP. While we were waiting for the beeper to go off, Hubby ran over and got Fastpasses for all of us for Buzz Lightyear, since it was such a hit with my son.
Let me just say that I thought the Crystal Palace breakfast was wonderful, both in food and character interaction. My son is the perfect age for the Pooh set, and the characters were pretty organized in working the room. We saw Eyore right away.... then nobody for awhile. Since there were 4 characters, we were watching for them, Son enjoyed the little parade that they did on the hour.... and then all the characters disappeared! We figured this was their bathroom break, and maybe a chance for the actors to change costumes or shifts or something. Who knows. I was concerned that we wouldn't see all 4 characters, but they seemed to be on a 1 hour cycle, and I was pleased that when they came back out a few minutes later, they all picked up exactly where they had left off. We saw the next 3 characters one right after another.... got our pictures, and we were out of there in 1 hour 10 minutes with smiles and full stomachs. (I didn't care for the breakfast lasagna, but everything else was great). I think Crystal Palace breakfast is going on my "do this every trip" list.
We zipped over to Buzz Lightyear with our Fastpasses, then doubled back past the castle to see part of Cinderellabration as we passed. (I'm not much for these kinds of shows). We entered the other side of the park through Liberty Square, where we ordered a parasol for our niece back home. (REMEMBER TO PICK IT UP!! This vendor did not do resort delivery.) Unfortunately, the Haunted Mansion was closed for refurbishment. (We knew this in advance). We made our way through this area and into Frontierland which was SWAMPED. We grabbed 4 Fastpasses for Splash Mountain, and headed over to Adventureland, where we toured the Swiss Family Treehouse, Rode the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, saw the Tiki Room (didn't care much for the changes, but everybody enjoyed it), and got FP for the Jungle Cruise.
Back to Splash Mountain........ where my son and SIL watched us go over the falls. I got SOAKED - we were in front. While Hubby and SIL went on Splash Mountain I took my son over to Tom Sawyer Island. The travel books led me to believe this wasn't that fun, but we thought it was COOL. Wished the cafe had been open. Would have been a nice place for a snack.
We rode back to the "mainland" just in time for the 3 pm parade. Minor meltdown my my son....... first one of the trip! Then back to the Jungle Cruise to use our Fastpasses. This was my SIL's favorite ride of the day, and one of my all-time favorites.
At some point we also did Pirates of the Carribbean (son NOT impressed!), and we did the Jungle Cruise a SECOND time, just to see if the jokes were the same. :rotfl2:
Since my husband and I wanted to still take advantage of the extra magic hours at Epcot that night, my SIL agreed to take our son back to the room for an early night. But we still had a few things to do at MK!!
While son and SIL rode Aladdin (again), we grabbed some counter service and all had a bite to eat. We got 4 Fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain, and then rode the WDW Railroad all the way around the park to kill a little time. (20 minutes all the way around). Then Hubby and I rode BIG Thunder Mountain. Since my SIL and I wanted to do a little shopping (It was still only 6:30 pm) my husband agreed to take my darling son for ONE MORE trip on Pooh's hunny pots before leaving the MK behind for good. (I found out later they waited patiently in line for 40 minutes.... use FP for this one, folks). So SIL and I did Big Thunder Mountain with the other 2 fastpasses, PICKED UP THE PARASOL, did a little shopping on main street, and left about 1/2 hour before Spectromagic. I was a little disappointed to miss this parade this time, but we'll be back.
We all met back at ASMusic around 8 pm (since today we knew which bus to get on! :rotfl: )
Back at the motel ...... but the night is not over!! Husband and I changed and freshened up and went BACK OUT at 8:45 for extra magic hours at Epcot. We saw some of Illluminations from the bus.
Day 3 - Part 2
Having tucked our little guy in for the night, we hopped on the bus and made our way to Epcot for the first time for both of us! We saw some of Illuminations from the bus, and realized we would be getting there just as it ended. Extra magic hours were from 9-12.
We were like salmon swimming upstream, making our way through the crowd that was leaving the park. An astonishing number of people. We didn't really know where we were going, but just kept going until suddenly there were NO people! We headed through the World Showcase counterclockwise.... and encountered our first booth of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Florida Shrimp. We didn't get any........ but it smelled so good. Remembering that we could use Snack credits at these booths, we proceeded to eat (and drink) our way around the World Showcase. To my amazement, all of the Food and Wine booths were still open, and NO LINES. We used several snack credits - (they seemed to be neverending, as we still had a bunch left on the last day to buy Mickey rice krispie treats to take home). This was definitely the best bang for your buck where snack credits are concerned. Most of the pavilions were closed..... but many of the shops were still open, and we even rode the Maelstrom in Norway! (The 5 minute post-ride film was not showing....) This ride was nothing to write home about - more of "It's a small world" on crack or something. But it did have a fun reverse dive down a short waterfall. Then we had some lefse at the bakery in Norway.
By the time we made it to the China pavilion, I was exhausted. My legs ached all the way up to my hips, and I was finding the pain so excruciating I had to sit down regularly. I guess this was from all the walking for 3 days... but I was wearing good, broken-in (but not old) tennis shoes. Not sure what else I could have done to prevent the strain. I bought some Tiger Balm at the store in China, and used it on my back and hips when we got back to the room that night. (The next morning I also rubbed some into the sore muscles in my legs. It didn't slow me down for Day 4, although on the night of Day 3 I thought I would be paralysed by the next day!! :earseek: )
Having previewed the entire world showcase, we wandered around future world, and then we remembered Soarin!!! Sad news here.... Fastpasses were sold out...... and the wait was only 30 minutes, so hubby wanted to do it! But my legs ached so badly - and I Knew it would be an hour of walking/bussing/more walking before I saw my bed... so after 5 minutes of standing in line I was almost in tears and I said I'm sorry, we have to go home. He was a good sport about it, and we planned to get a Fastpass first thing the next morning.
The bus wait was one of the worst - but we made it home and to bed by 12:30.
It was nice for us to have some time alone together, and the extra magic hours really were "magical" in the World showcase.
Next: Our fourth and final day - a full day at Epcot with the whole group.
Tiger Balm must be pixie dust in a tube :rotfl2:
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