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Old 11-27-2012, 06:26 PM   #1
subtchr
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A Few Observations from Thanksgiving Week

Hi, All,

I was at WDW from Wednesday - Saturday last week, and I had a blast in spite of the high crowd levels. It was not your typical vacation trip, because I was the tour manager for a marching band from Cleveland, OH. I work for a travel company that organizes trips for high school bands and choirs. It's a great job if you have the right sensibility for it!

The downside to traveling with a large group is that the decisions about which park each day, and when to be there, are taken out of your hands by the group's performance and travel schedule. But my attitude is always that I'll enjoy the time I have to explore the parks, even if the schedule is not ideal.

I have quite a few pics to include, but it's not really a trip report, just a few observations. I had not been to WDW for over a year, so it was great to see a few new things (like FLE), and I was also interested to see how the new FP enforcement affected my day. Not so much for work trips, but for family trips, late FP use was a cornerstone of our touring! It was definitely not a big deal.

We departed Cleveland aboard a couple of charter buses at 10:30 Tuesday morning, and we arrived at Rainforest Cafe at AK by about 7 am on Wednesday. We had a group breakfast booked. They always do a good job with these - standard buffet items plus good fresh fruit and their version of Tonga Toast - a french toast casserole that is delicious.

The weather for our entire stay was the best I've ever encountered in Orlando. A little cool in the mornings and quite cool in the evenings, but with a sweatshirt or light jackets those times, the low humidity, beautiful blue skies, and warm afternoon sunshine were ideal!

We were at AK after breakfast from about 8:30 to 12:30. I rode EE and KS and watched FotLK; and I walked around taking pics, one of my favorite things to do. The safari was one of the best I have been on, with many animals out, including two lionesses interacting. A few pics:











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Old 11-27-2012, 06:37 PM   #2
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I bet that is a fun job. Your pics are breathtaking!
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:38 PM   #3
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I would enjoy a job that took me to WDW anyday!!
Great pics from KS. I've seen the greatest sights early in the day, too.
NOV is one of the best months to vacation in WDW!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by subtchr View Post
Hi, All,

I was at WDW from Wednesday - Saturday last week, and I had a blast in spite of the high crowd levels. It was not your typical vacation trip, because I was the tour manager for a marching band from Cleveland, OH. I work for a travel company that organizes trips for high school bands and choirs. It's a great job if you have the right sensibility for it!

The downside to traveling with a large group is that the decisions about which park each day, and when to be there, are taken out of your hands by the group's performance and travel schedule. But my attitude is always that I'll enjoy the time I have to explore the parks, even if the schedule is not ideal.

I have quite a few pics to include, but it's not really a trip report, just a few observations. I had not been to WDW for over a year, so it was great to see a few new things (like FLE), and I was also interested to see how the new FP enforcement affected my day. Not so much for work trips, but for family trips, late FP use was a cornerstone of our touring! It was definitely not a big deal.

We departed Cleveland aboard a couple of charter buses at 10:30 Tuesday morning, and we arrived at Rainforest Cafe at AK by about 7 am on Wednesday. We had a group breakfast booked. They always do a good job with these - standard buffet items plus good fresh fruit and their version of Tonga Toast - a french toast casserole that is delicious.

The weather for our entire stay was the best I've ever encountered in Orlando. A little cool in the mornings and quite cool in the evenings, but with a sweatshirt or light jackets those times, the low humidity, beautiful blue skies, and warm afternoon sunshine were ideal!

We were at AK after breakfast from about 8:30 to 12:30. I rode EE and KS and watched FotLK; and I walked around taking pics, one of my favorite things to do. The safari was one of the best I have been on, with many animals out, including two lionesses interacting. A few pics:











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Old 11-27-2012, 06:42 PM   #4
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Sound like a great time. Great pictures.
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:45 PM   #5
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After AK we went to Blizzard Beach. It was a little cool for less hardy folks, as indicated by the very low crowd level, but these northern kids had a blast! And the adults in the group just MAY have enjoyed resting their eyes a bit on the quiet lounge chairs, to recover from an overnight bus trip!









We stayed at the Holiday Inn Maingate East. It worked out fine for the group. A little worn around the edges, but it's clean, and it has nice big rooms. We had arranged a pizza buffet the first night, and breakfast buffets each morning. I have stayed with groups at the All Stars, and while the food courts and pools are terrific, the outside doors to the rooms make them hard to chaperone, and the rooms are pretty small for four high schoolers.

The band marched in the Magic Kingdom at 10:00 on Thanksgiving day. It wasn't a scheduled parade, just three marching bands performing for the crowd up Main Street and through the park to Frontierland. They loved it!











After the parade we had the kids change backstage, then took the buses around to the TTC (mostly so that they would see how the process works getting to and from the bus via monorail or ferry, for familiarity for the end of the day!). We were staying through Wishes, so I was excited to explore the FLE.

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My June '06 trip report December 09 Beach Club trip report
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:59 PM   #6
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I love the Christmas decorations at WDW!











It was wonderful to have a new area to explore in FLE. I think they did a stunning job with the design of the area, and it will be even better when the coaster is finished.

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My June '06 trip report December 09 Beach Club trip report
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:12 PM   #7
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I decided to try BOG for lunch. The line looked pretty long (to the end of the bridge), but it moved well, and I was inside at a table within about 20 minutes. Of course I took pics on the way in:









I LOVED the way the service is structured for lunch here. For those who may not be familiar, there are several screens as you wait in line that show the menu available, then when you enter the room to order and pay, you are given an "enchanted rose":



You order via a touch screen or a cashier, then your rose is activated, and you enter the dining room area and are guided to an open table, where you place your rose. You can then serve yourself from the drink station, and wait at your table until your food is delivered to you. I enjoyed this on many levels - not having to carry a tray of food through the crowd, not having to fight for a table, and being able to get drink refills myself, including one at the end of my meal to take with me. I had the grilled steak sandwich, and I enjoyed it very much.

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My June '06 trip report December 09 Beach Club trip report
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:14 PM   #8
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Not a trip report, huh?
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mesaboy2 View Post
Not a trip report, huh?
I guess I just can't help myself! Once I get on a roll...

More from Belle's cottage...











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Old 11-27-2012, 07:19 PM   #10
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I ate in the main ballroom, which was gorgeous. I love the windows at the end of the room showing the mountains and snow! I also walked through the other rooms; sorry I didn't take any pics of those.







After lunch I decided to try Enchanted Tales with Belle, in spite of the 60 minute posted wait time (which turned out to be a 35 minute actual wait). I had all day to explore! The details on and in Belle's cottage are amazing:





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My June '06 trip report December 09 Beach Club trip report

Last edited by subtchr; 11-27-2012 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:13 PM   #11
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I'm enjoying your observations and pictures, which are outstanding. Thanks for sharing! Welcome Home!
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:32 PM   #12
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Hope this doesn't sound ignorant but what exactly is a group meal coupon?
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Hope this doesn't sound ignorant but what exactly is a group meal coupon?
Not ignorant at all, I should have made it clear that these are not available to the typical guest. It's a coupon good for a meal at selected CS places in each park, resort food courts, or DTD. Groups purchase them with their tickets, if desired, for the use of the people in their group. I'm not sure of the minimum number needed to qualify for them, but I am usually traveling with groups of 100-200.
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My June '06 trip report December 09 Beach Club trip report
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:12 PM   #14
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Wow! Beautiful pictures! By looking at the crowds in your pictures, WDW didn't look too terribly crowded. We always go in July and the crowds you encountered didn't seem as bad as the July crowds. I'm glad you had a great trip! When I was in HS band, we were in a parade at DL. HS tour guides have the patience of a saint!

Thanks for the breathtaking pictures and "not a trip-report" report!
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:21 AM   #15
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Great pictures!!! Can't wait to see BoG in person.
And yeah for the band!!! (former flag girl here)
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