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Old 10-31-2010, 11:11 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 138

Lonely business traveler’s random resort dining adventure – Day Zero

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend much time in my company’s Orlando-area office to work on a big project. Past business trips to the area have been rare and brief. Unsurprisingly, as the only Disneyphilic activity I could conceive fitting into these previous short visits, I have shopped and dined at Downtown Disney repeatedly. This time, I’ve resolved, I would draw greater utility from my short visits to the World.

I drew inspiration from a Dis Unplugged podcast, sometime this past summer I think, wherein the crew discussed “existential” touring, i.e., enjoying Disneyworld without a plan, extemporizing ones’ choices of Disney pleasures. This option holds appeal for me beyond simple free-spiritedness. No planning means no need for ADRs, hard to come by during the current “Free Dining” promotional period. Existential decision-making also eliminates the conflict between two principal motivations for these minitrips to WDW: trying something new vs. revisiting places I have enjoyed in the past. Instead of agonizing over scoring a reservation at a popular Disney restaurant I’ve been craving, I entrust my dining plans to the Fates, the angels, secret alien overlords, or whoever it is that controls random chance.

(For my fellow liberal arts majors: yes, I know, I’m using the term “existential” inaccurately. Please consider the context: Vinylmation, Tonga Toast, Rope Drop, etc. My philosophical training at a northeast bastion of Jesuit thought seems useless here.)

So here’s what I’m doing: I park at Downtown Disney and make my way to the bus station. I board whatever bus is waiting, or if none are at the station, the first bus that arrives. At the destination resort, I dine at a table service restaurant if possible. I can choose counter service dining if the first option is not feasible or, obviously, if I end up at a value resort. Whenever a tiebreaker is necessary (e.g., two or more buses are waiting when I arrive, the bus I board has multiple destinations), I may choose either the most time-efficient option or the resort with which I have the least experience.

Thus far, I’ve played my little game four times and hope to complete at least four more random visits before my work project ends in mid-November. In separate posts, I’ll discuss each visit, providing a brief dining review, notes on the resort, and anything else that draws my interest.

For now, I’ll share a few lessons learned for anyone who wants to use Downtown Disney as a base for resort-hopping. If you’re parking and riding, the Pleasure Island bus stop is usually more convenient than the Marketplace station. The parking lots at DTD Entrance 1 are the first to fill, and remain crowded as drivers crawl around waiting for a spot open. Instead, enter at parking entrance 3, turn right, and park as close as you can to the front (i.e., near Planet Hollywood). Don’t be fooled by empty parking spaces that seem very close to the buses. There is a safety fence that prevents pedestrians from walking in front of the buses. You have to make your way all the way to the front and then back to bus stops. So, just park near the front. In fact, I advise you to always check the front row, even if the lot seems full. Those front spaces, of course, fill up early, but that also means that early diners/shoppers may be leaving just as you are arriving.

From my limited observations, bus service to the All Star resorts is intolerable. I have seen long queues that result in All Star guests having to wait through multiple bus departures. I am reminded of the old situation (still in effect in many places) in public restroom planning, where women had to wait longer to use a toilet than did men. You don’t need sophisticated computer models to determine that there ought to be as many stalls for women as there are urinals + stalls for men. Similarly, buses to the All Stars should not be arriving at the same frequency as buses to the Contemporary. If there’s a scheduling glitch, reprogram some of the buses to combine some deluxe resort runs until a balance in wait times is restored.

More later. Bon appétit!
1975: Some motel I can't remember... Disappointed by Space Mountain...
1987: Holiday Inn... College Spring Break; our first vacation together...
4 trips in the 90s: Mom's house in Poinciana... DS2's favorite attraction? The fountain near the UK restrooms...
1999: Vistana (Residence Inn)... 10-week old DD sleeps through everything...
2001: Polynesian... On-property at last...
2003: Yacht Club... Amtrak Auto Train to Stormalong Bay...
2005: Beach Club... Resort hopping while listening to Half-Blood Prince...
April 2009: Contemporary... DW in wheelchair and maximum crowds
New Years 2010: Disneyland Hotel... No Fastpass at Toy Story Mania?!?
Christmas 2011: Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek... We don't need no stinking rope drop!
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