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Old 10-14-2013, 01:41 PM   #1
LowesChevy
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11/6-Loweschevy Trip Report 2013: Three resorts means 3 times the fun?!

The basics:
September 26-October 7th
Beach Club Review: Post #3
Bay Lake Tower
The Polynesian

Epcot: Post #4, #9, #13
Disney Hollywood Studios Post #5, #14
Magic Kingdom Post #6
Animal Kingdom Post #7

Pre Trip Report

Starring Erika (Loweschevy), Deb (Mom) & Steve (dad)

On Thursday afternoon we left Fairview, PA and hopped on I-90 West. The weather was beautiful and the traffic was light.


We made good time and parked at Beachwood Place to walk around and shop. I found some goodies at Dillards and treated myself to a new pair of jeans, a couple tops and a pair of shorts that were on sale. Our mall in Erie is pretty limited to teenagers and skinny mini women and of course endless amounts of clothing for men, that most of them never wear ha ha. So whenever we are out of town, I love to shop--especially when we visit my brother and sister in law in Minneapolis. A latte from Starbucks and a stroll through the mall and it was time to have some dinner at Cheesecake Factory down the street at Legacy Village.

After dinner it was back onto the thruway to 480. We hit a bit of a jam near the split off to the south and west, but after 10-12 minutes we were on our way again. We arrived at the Sheraton and got settled into the room. I got on the iPad and Tweeted my Follow Fridays because I knew I wouldnt have a chance to do it the next day. Then my dad and I went down to the lobby bar for a drink. My only problem with staying overnight is that I never sleep well that evening! I think my brain wont relax enough because subconsciously you are worried about sleeping in too late. Five o clock came pretty early, but after 50 minutes the 3 of us were dressed, packed up and ready to get on the airport shuttle.



United has totally redone the check in lines at CLE and it seems like more of a free for all, but I think it works better than dragging your bags through a queue to be honest. Stickered and tagged, its time for the security line. Dunkin Donuts was the next stop for a coffee and a donut. Our gate was the furthest away from the security check, with the exception of the D gates. Thats okay, we are poised for walking this trip.



The flight from Cleveland was pleasant, but not for a few customers. A woman passed out before the plane was set to push off from the gate and paramedics had to be called in to check her out. They ended up pulling her off the flight as her vitals were okay, but they didnt want to take any chances. The woman must have been fine because we saw her at Epcot a few days afterwards. What are the chances of that right?! Its scary, but it happens. I know of a couple of cases where they landed the plane in a different airport because guests had consciousness from illness. Luckily she was okay and we got our flight underway.

I charged my credit card and watched the Golden Girls till we landed. After a smooth flight, we waited forever for the luggage! Continental never had a problem with baggage, but when they merged with United the wait time surged.



Walked across the street to Alamo and picked out a red Impala. We went with something other than white or silver because some people tend to forget which color or make the car was in large, hot, sun parched parking lots. Red just made sense. We packed up the bags and were on our way.

Our first stop was lunch! I suggested House of Blues because the menu was rather large and had plenty of fan favorites. My dad opted for the pulled pork, I went with shrimp tacos and my mother had kiddy grilled cheese. The cornbread is a must have and the other dishes very good. Our server was very attentive and friendly as well. This will definitely be a stop next year!



Afterwards we moved the car around the big dig at DTD to get to Guest Relations. I figured this would be easier than going to the resort, parking and walking over to Epcot. Cory helped us purchase our Annual Passes and Tables in Wonderland card with ease. Unfortunately the computers there were not functioning properly, but I figured concierge could assist us.

Coming up the Beach Club!!
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:31 PM   #2
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Old 10-15-2013, 02:11 PM   #3
LowesChevy
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The Beach Club


We arrived at the Beach Club about the time I noted in the reservation and a lovely young lady, also from Pennsylvania, was there to greet us at the front door. She led us to the concierge check in desks on the 5th to check into the room. Check in went pretty smooth-due to the Magic Bands I needed some guidance on how to pick the times for the Fastpass + selections. After a few minutes, our CM had me cruising through the My Disney Experience like a pro. Once I figured out that you could adjust the times for fine tuning, it was a breeze.

After completing the check in, she walked us down to our room on the 4th floor. It was all of the way at the end of a long, winding hall, but the only request I made with concierge was to have a large balcony because my dad loves to sit outside. It had an amazing balcony and a fabulous view of the quiet pool.

The Beach Club

We arrived at the Beach Club about the time I noted in the reservation and a lovely young lady, also from Pennsylvania, was there to greet us at the front door. She led us to the concierge check in desks on the 5th to check into the room. Check in went pretty smooth-due to the Magic Bands I needed some guidance on how to pick the times for the Fastpass + selections. After a few minutes, our CM had me cruising through the My Disney Experience like a pro. Once I figured out that you could adjust the times for fine tuning, it was a breeze.

After completing the check in, she walked us down to our room on the 4th floor. It was all of the way at the end of a long, winding hall, but the only request I made with concierge was to have a large balcony because my dad loves to sit outside. It had an amazing balcony and a fabulous view of the quiet pool.



Mom enjoying the patio


The room itself was spacious with a seating area and two comfortable beds. There was plenty of room for our clothing in the closet and drawer wise. Room was adorned with a ceiling fan, couch, coffee table, cabinet with mini fridge, writing desk with lamps, small dresser below television with 4 drawers, taller dresser with 4 more drawers, night stand between beds, iHome alarm clock, a wall mounted shelf next to 1 bed (nice touch for those of us with glasses!) DVD player and of course a medium sized flat panel television.

Beach Club: Deluxe concierge room

Its a good thing I took pictures before we totally unpacked because after we started buying things, the couch was covered with stuff!





We phoned housekeeping each morning to let them know we were leaving the room so they could come clean. Each time we came back the room it was made up and nap ready for my mother. A mid day break is most enjoyable to us, especially since you feel like you are spending more time in the room aside from sleeping and using the rest room.

Although quiet pool may not be the best way to describe the folks that swim there because there were a few times when people needed to use their inside voice! It was a refreshing cool down for those mid day breaks and the hot tub was a nice way to unwind after walking at night.

The Stone Harbor Club was great. Tasty snacks available throughout the day with more hearty appetizers and beer available in the late afternoon. It kept hungry stomachs satisfied till dinner. I do not think we will get the concierge next time, even though the service is extra special and the SHC is well stocked, we just do not need the extra food and expense. We generally eat three squares a day, although the beer and water were great because we had not visited the grocery store. I think we will be able to save some money next year opting out of the concierge service. I did love the deluxe room size though!



My only complaints would be the size of the bathroom. It was very tiny in relation to the size of the room, but the vanity had a shelf beneath and two sinks to speed up the morning beautification process. The television cable hanging down was rather tacky, but not going to split hairs over it.

Beach Club Hallway near Cape May Cafť


I am already angling to coming back to the Beach Club next year. Since we spend so much time at Epcot it is so nice to be able to walk a short distance to the International Gateway and be on your merry way. I also enjoyed being close to DHS because normally we drive there, but being able to take the boat at least once was a relief. I think we will be staying there at the end of the trip next year!

Besides, how do you not love Stormalong Bay?



Up next-fun at Epcot!!
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:04 PM   #4
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First day at Epcot

The next day, we got up, had some breakfast at the Captainís Grille and were on our way to the International Gateway. By the time we got through bag check and the gates the park was officially open for business. It has been a long time since I have seen the World Showcase so empty! There were still a decent amount of folks trekking towards the Land pavilion. We figured we could hop right in the standby line and then use our FP+ when we had finished riding.

Afterwards we rode the Land then made our way across the park for Test Track. We stopped first at the Festival Center in the old WoL building to check out what classes were being offered and peruse the large selection of wine and spirits for sale. Saw some great bottles of wine and liquor, but most of them I can purchase at home.




Test Track reopened last year about a month after we left, so it was a new experience for us. I liked the process of designing my own car, but like the old pre show, I think it will get old after a while. Hopefully Bill McKim found another position too by the way. The flow of people is smoother now and you do not have to deal with an entire room of folks dumping into a line. I really dislike being in a situation where you have to merge from 6 people wide to a single line. The overall ride was the same as always, but it was stripped of the individual elements like the block tests and the anti lock brake sections. The rooms are generic in nature, but follow the same course as before. The handling test is still the best part!





We browsed through Mouse Gear and picked up a few souvenirs right away. If I see something I really want, I buy it right away. There have been several times that I canít find the item again or the correct size. I bought a new car in July and actually was really excited it had an antenna because my 2004 4Runner didnít and I was extremely jelly of my mother for having all of the holiday ones. I also picked up a few of the vintage attraction poster magnets and one with Jiminy Cricket. I see what people were talking about with Club Cool because they were down to basically Kresta Ginger Ale, Beverly and Vegabeta I think. It was a fun concept, but perhaps it is time to change it up a bit.

Lunch was at the Rose & Crown, so we moseyed on up to Canada. We checked out the Tea Caddy and Sportsman Shop in the United Kingdom before we check in at the Rose & Crown. We didnít wait long and within 5 minutes we were led to our table on the patio. It was a beautiful day with a light breeze, so I wasnít opposed to being seated outside, plus it is covered. Lunch at the Rose & Crown was good, would have been better if the other guests had not been so disruptive! I canít believe a table of adults was letting a child run around and make excessive noise during a meal. Of course the other table was a large group of adults being loud and obnoxious and it was only 12:30 PM lol. I must be getting old, but I think some folks need to remember to use their inside voices more often.




After lunch, we went back to the Beach Club for a rest. Dinner was at Tutto Italia, so we would come back later on in the afternoon. I made more FastPass + selections and planned our day by day for the next few days. This was also time necessary to charge my iPhone because the new update and use of MDE are killing the battery! A few snacks from the Stone Harbor Club were enjoyed as well. The light snacks they have during the day consist of yogurt pretzels, trail mix and Swedish fish.

Around 5 we went back over to Epcot and crawled over to Italy for our reservation at Tutto Italia. Dinner was great in general, but the food came out way too fast! We didnít order any appetizers because we had snacks at the SHC, but within 10 minutes of ordering the entrees were at the table.
We were beat from it being our first full day so we planned on doing Illuminations the following night and went back to get a good nightsí rest.





Disney Hollywood Studios is up next!
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Old 10-18-2013, 01:33 PM   #5
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Disney Hollywood Studios






After breakfast at Captains Grille, we walked down to the marina to catch the Friendship. It only has to make a stop at the Swan & Dolphin before setting course to Disney Hollywood Studios. Typically we drive to DHS rather than take the bus from the Polynesian or Bay Lake Tower, but taking the boat was a great alternative. The boat docked about 10 minutes before the official opening, which gave us plenty of time to get through bag check. The queues were already long and backed all the way to the ticket booths.


We immediately made way for TSMM to ride standby. The line wasnt too bad and we only waited about 15 minutes. One of the games malfunctioned at the end-what a drag! Oh well, we still had a FP to use for another try next. I am forever a kitty. I need to sharpen up my skills lol!

Tower of Terror is probably my second favorite ride behind the Haunted Mansion, so Sunset Boulevard was our next stop. My mom is not a fan of either ToT or Rock n Roller Coaster, so she took a pass on them both. Luckily dad and I managed to ride both attractions within 40 minutes in the stand by line. Of the two, ToT has the more interesting queue if you have to wait a while to ride.







We explored the back lot area for a while and headed back up the streets of New York to look at the Christmas lights being hung. We will have to come back sometime for the Osborne lights again because it is beautiful. Although the last thing I want to think about is Christmas at this time! It hasnt even been Halloween nor Thanksgiving lol. There are never a lot of folks back here this early, so its kind of fun to walk around by yourselves just about.



Next, it was time to ride Star Tours. Standby time was only around 10 minutes and the FP basically walked right into the boarding zones. For whatever reason our boarding zone waited a really long time before boarding, but the ride was great and the merchandise is always fun to look at in the gift shop as well.





Still needed to kill a little time before lunch, so we walked up front and did some shopping at Keystone Clothiers and the Hollywood 5 & 10. Then we trekked back to Mama Melrose to wait for lunch.

Mama Melrose was busy as usual. Lots of folks were trying to score a walk in, but were turned away. Our pager went off after a few minutes and we were seated in the back. The food and service was fabulous, although we had to complain about the music not playing! Triple threat! Flatbreads-mushroom with balsamic drizzle, margherita and Italian meats to feast upon after our salads. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach because we definitely had two to split, but they did pack up to go nicely.

We still had a FP for Lights, Action Motors, but not to use till 4:20 PM. There was still another day of DHS left on the schedule, so we decided to hit the remaining shops on the main drag and head to the boat. Now felt like the perfect time for a cool down at the quiet pool.



Coming up next: moving day to Bay Lake Tower and the Magic Kingdom
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Old 10-21-2013, 08:10 AM   #6
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Magic Kingdom

We woke up got ready and went to breakfast at the Captainís Grill again. Today I opted for the buffet-itís not like I was going to ride Tower of Terror or anything. Having already been to Epcot a few times and DHS, I was itching to get the Magic Kingdom!! After we packed up the car, it was time to head over to our home base Bay Lake Tower.

They have greatly improved the check in process at Bay Lake Tower over the years. At first, you had to go to the lobby at the Contemporary. then check in, then call for a bellman to pack everything up and walk over to Bay Lake Tower, then go park the car. A few years ago they added a check in desk at BLT, which helped and now there is a larger check in desk these days. There were ton of CMs in the lobby interacting with guests and helping them get what they need. Check in didnít take too long, even after we tried online on the iPad, but it didnít go through completely. We were issued 3 more gray bands that were created for us, but we were fine to use the ones we already had. You just need to keep them safe and you can deactivate them on the website. Our CM also gave us some band bling for 2013! I gave my phone number to text me when the room was ready and off to the Magic Kingdom we went.



The walk to the MK seemed longer than usual, but I think it was because it was extra hot today! Cleared the bag check and through the gates with no band problems and we were off. Iím a classic kind of girl, so I want to hit all of the classic Disney rides first time at the park. We veered left after we passed Main Street U.S.A. and crossed the stroller bridge as we call it. One of my fondest memories is the sound that strollers make crossing the bridge to the entrance of Adventureland near the Crystal Palace. Our first stop was Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road. Last year we tried to ride it and it was down one morning and we just never were able to get back over there to ride. Our seats were right up front and boy was it rough



We bounced back over to Liberty Square and rode my all time favorite the Haunted Mansion. The addition of digital sound a few years back really add to the experience.




My mother loves Buzz Lightyear, so it was off to Tomorrowland we went. The line was only about a minute wait if that. Afterwards we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which I still refer to as the WEDWAY People Mover. It was malfunctioning slightly as if it kept losing power. Guests ended up walking of the non moving ramp to board. Oh well, itís a nice cool ride and great way to crowd watch. I donít know if itís me or what, but when you are in Space Mountain it seems brighter than it used to.

The Space Mountain stand by line was about 20 minutes, so we decided to head to Fantasyland. Along the way we stopped by Sir Mickeyís, which they appeared to have taken out most of the adult clothing and put in tons of girly items. Castle Couture is still full of dressed and things of that nature as well.



Itís a Small World was kind of jammed, but we boarded within 10 minutes or so. It is usually always a steady stream of folks because there are not any restrictions on riding. A timeless classic to me.




After that it was time to ride Journey of the Little Mermaid. This would be the first time we are able to ride since it opened in November last year. The new Fantasyland in general is awesome and this was no exception. The queue was creatively designed with water features and lots of inside waiting space. It was really cute and we enjoyed it. We wandered around the new Fantasyland and check out the new gift shop and peeked in Gastonís Tavern as well.




Our tummies were rumbling so we walked down to Columbia Harbor House for lunch. Busy is normal this time of day, but navigating through the line didnít take long.

After lunch we browsed through the Christmas Shop and eventually wandered back over to Adventureland. It had been many years since we watched the Enchanted Tiki Room, but I wanted to give it a try again. I do not have any recollection of this attraction other than hearing the music and knowing the plot. It is just funny all of the times we came to WDW since I was little, I do not remember this at all. I enjoyed the show and though all the effect were cool and of course classic.

The queue for Pirates of the Caribbean stand-by was manageable. It only took about 10 minutes before we boarded. So they took out the fog with Barbossa and put in mermaid? SighÖ At least they didnít remove ďDead men tell no tales.Ē By then I had received a text that our room at BLT was ready! Back to Main Street U.S.A. we went and hopped on the monorail to the Contemporary.



Next up getting settled at BLT
Then Animal Kingdom
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:03 PM   #7
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Nice!

Erika:

Getting a brightly colored rental car is a great idea! Love the report.

Did your Fastpass+ for LMA give you a good seat? Is it worth it?

-JB-
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