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Old 01-16-2011, 10:39 AM   #1
cman
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Back from WDW - 1/1/11 - 1/9/11 - Random Thougths

So I did this type of trip report before and people seemed to like it. Instead of giving a day by day reports I’ll just give you some thoughts and different parts of our trip. Hope it’s useful.

Who: 9 in all. Me(44) My wife(43), son(18) and daughter(19). My parents, in-laws and one of my daughters best friends. (18)
When: 1/1 – 1/9
Where: BWV - 3 bedroom grand villa with a Boardwalk view.
Passes: 8-day Park Hopper and 2-day Universal pass.


At little background. In Sept of 2009 my son was invited to play in a baseball tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports which was to be held in Dec. of 2009. I used that to float the idea of a family trip to WDW. Me and the kids are more of the Disney fanatics so my wife always needs some convincing. To make along sotry short 3 months just wasn’t long enough to plan a trip for all of us. My son sent with his team on Dec. of ’09 but be then everyone was on board for another trip.

It would be the 5th trip with a group of that size. We are DVC members and had started taking family trips in 1998 of up to 17 people on some of them.

My daughter’s friend had never been to Disney and ended up adding so much to our trip. Seeing Disney through a first timers eyes was really fun. Sometimes you forget what Disney is all about until you see someone else’s response to everything. She is also such a like a third child to us so it was great to have her along. Everything about Disney amazed her – the resort, the parks and just the feeling of being there.

So I started planning - all of which was left to me. There was no problem with that as I like to plan things and no one else in my family likes to plan. I am blessed with a GREAT family who all tend to go with the flow. In fact, I don't think half of them would ever had gone to Disney if I hadn't planned each trip for them. I always explain to everyone that the plan I put in place is for me, my wife and kids.
That they should never feel like I was forcing them to do anything they didn't want to do.

On Thanksgiving day we all sat down together and I present each family with a 2" binder that represented the year of planning. Everything you could imagine - day by day itineraries, articles on special events we were doing and restaurants we were eating at. I had done a binder for our 2007 Christmas trip but told them all there probably wouldn’t be one this time as it took a great deal of time to create. In the end I couldn’t resist putting one together.

I have a great family and now they were really excited about this trip.

The Resort: It's our fourth time at BWV (our home resort) and I have to say that I like it the best of all the DVC resorts. The view is just fantastic and the location as far as I’m convinced can't be beat. I know there are reasons to like many of the Disney resorts. BWV is just my families favorite.

Being able to walk to Epcot and MGM can't be underestimated. My dad has MS and uses a scooter and wheelchair to get around. Avoiding the buses when at all possible just makes things easier. Being so close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios allows him to come and go on his own.

I little side note. I want to say how wonderful Disney has been to my dad and others with a physical handicap. In all of our trips I can’t think of one time where there was something we were going to do that my dad couldn’t participate in. And it’s not just the accommodations that they are obviously required to do. It’s all the little things that cast members do to help families cope with things. On this trip we spent two days at Universal. We have fun going there on occasion but they don’t even come close to Disney when it comes to accommodating the handicap. When at Disney there always seems to be someone to help point you in the right direction or provide help in some way. Not so at Universal – we felt they only do what is required by law. Thank you Disney.

Anyway, the lobby at BWV is just gorgeous at Christmas time (decorations didn’t start coming down until 1/6) and the staff were more than friendly. We had the 1 story 3 bedroom grand villa on the 3rd floor underneath the Boardwalk sign. Our room had a good view of Illuminations from our balcony and I just love walking into our villa at the end of a long day, stepping out on the balcony and taking in the view! The balcony stretched from one end of the unit to the other. 110 feet as measured by my dad using his cane. It was like having another room. The only problem is we’ve set the bar really high for our next trip. This time around the grand villa just made sense to do based on who and how many people were coming. It won’t always work out that way but I sure was glad it did for this trip.


The Parks/Crowds: We have taken 8 trips to WDW and consider ourselves knowledgeable of all things Disney. This was the second time that we used TGM. I can't say enough about his advice. We only went to parks that were green, stayed away from EMH parks and used Fastpass more this trip than all other trips together.
We got to the parks by opening each day and took a midday break most days back at BWV before heading back to the parks for the evening.

The longest line we waited in our whole time there was about 15-20 minutes with the exception of one day at Islands of Adventure.

I can’t stress enough that getting to the parks 30 minutes before they open is the key to fun vacation. There were many days where we had done our top attractions long before any crowds were evident.

We did everything we wanted to do when we were in the parks. The only crowded day at a Disney park was the last full day we were there – 1/8 – the day of the half marathon.

As I said earlier we took two days in the middle of our stay to visit Universal. We don’t go there on every trip so it had been 5 years since our last visit. We went to Islands of Adventure the first day as our daughters friend is a Harry Potter fanatic. This was the most crowded day of our trip by far. I have to say that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is fun to visit and the Forbidden Journey is the best ride I’ve ever been on but the size of that section of the park is way too small. I know it was intentionally done but I think it was a mistake. When we left it was a 120 minute wait to ride FJ and a 120 minutes wait just to get into the part of the park. Crazy! While FB was an amazing ride I don’t think it is worth 4 hours of my life.



The Food: We had ADR's for each day of our trip and we made everyone one of them. Since we have food delivered to our villa at the start of our trip we tend to have breakfast there. Also we either pack a lunch to take with us each day or return to BWV to have lunch.

Here's a list of our ADRs:

Coral Reef - We always go there. We ate there on our honeymoon so it holds a special place in our hearts. They got rid of the personalized menus and the diver since out last visit. The food was very good. Grade:A-

Tony’s Town Square – first time we’ve ever eaten there. Good food – Gread:B

Hollywood and Vine w/ Fantasmic Dinner Package- average food. Grade:C+

California Grille - fantastic food and service. Top notch. We watched Wishes from the patio Grade:A

Le Celiere - great food, excellent service, nice atmosphere. Grade:A

A word about service. We had a couple waiters who weren't the best. I try not to let that bother me too much since everyone is human and while you expect your waiters to be chipper and happy that isn't always going to happen. You don't know if they have a sick child at home or something that would tend to make any one of us less the happy. For those that weren't at their best we just didn't leave anything extra for the tip. For waiters like the ones at Cali Grille and Le Celiere we gave them a much bigger tip because the services was so good.

Photopass: This trip I participated in a Photopass group on TGM. There were 7 families that split the cost of the CD. One lovely lady is ordering the CD, separating the pictures by family and sending us a CD with only our families pictures on them.

The first day there we got Photopass cards for each family and took advantage of every opportunity we had to get our pictures taken. There were only a couple times where the line for the photographer was too long to wait - maybe twice. We ended up with about 300 pictures on the CD.

Some random thoughts: (just my opinions)
• This was the second time we got passes for the length of stay. That enabled us to have the flexibility to go wherever we wanted each day - like on the days we went to Universal when we went to Epcot later that night just to see Illuminations. We wouldn't have wasted a day on a 4 or 5 day pass just for that.
• I thought that 1/1 – 1/9 would be mostly dead. I was wrong. It was busier than I thought it would be.
• We did not like MSEP. Please bring back Spectro.
• Trying to get from BWV to MK by bus on Marathon weekend for a 8:45 reservation at CRT took 1.5 hours. My only miscalculation of our trip.
• We always have fun at Universal but the cleanliness and atmosphere doesn’t compare to Disney.
• People need to listen to their kids. When they are tired there's no amount of yelling at them that will reverse the effect of being in a park all day running around.
• Another trip to WDW without spending enough time at World Showcase. Some day we’ll do that.
• The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream is easily conquered by 6 people.
• Illuminations and Wishes are simply the best fireworks shows I have ever seen. The cerography with the music is incredible.
• TGM says to stay away from EMH - I concur. We did, however, go to the MK one night from 10pm-1am and had a ball.
• I thought I would come back and be depressed. I am not. We did so much that I feel that there wasn't anything left to accomplish on this trip.
• I thank God after each of these trips for how lucky we are that 3 generations of my family can spend the time together at such a wonderful place.

Conclusion: One of our best trips ever. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much. We returned tired but who hasn't returned from a Disney trip wiped out. Of the 9 people who went, young and old, they all told me that it will be a trip they will remember for a lifetime. There's no place like Disney for family fun and memories.
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:54 AM   #2
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Great trip report. Thanks for sharing your impressions. I appreciate the same things about Disney World that you do. :-)
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:29 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cman View Post
I can’t stress enough that getting to the parks 30 minutes before they open is the key to fun vacation. There were many days where we had done our top attractions long before any crowds were evident.
Sounds like a great trip! I can't agree with you more about getting to the parks 30 min before they open. Discovered that on our last trip in Oct. That was our 8th trip and despite our efforts, we rarely made it to a park opening. Usually arriving some where within the first hour of the park opening. We were at RD most every day on the last trip, and boy did it make a difference!
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:46 AM   #4
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Thanks for the report and great information. I would love for our whole family to go like that - haven't been able to convince the older ones though.... Thanks for the IOA info - we're going next weekend because my ds loves HP - we'll be sure to get their prior to the park opening!
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Old 01-16-2011, 12:48 PM   #5
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Here's a tip on getting to WWOHP at IOA. If you get there early you will notice that they let you enter the park to a certain point and then you will see the crowd of people being held back before you enter Suess land.

The quickest was to get to WWOHP is to go through Suess land. We made the mistake of listening to the guy telling us to go to the left towards the Hulk. It looked that people were freely moving toward the Hulk so we listened to him. When we got a little past the Hulk they had a rope their stopping people from going any further. At 9am they dropped the rope. By time we got to WWOHP there was already a 60 minute wait for FJ.

I'm convinced that if we had waited at Suess land we would have gotten there faster.
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Old 01-16-2011, 02:22 PM   #6
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Sounds like a wonderful trip... we share your love of BWV ... being able to walk to DHS & Epcot means so much to us.

A silly question ... what's TGM?
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Old 01-16-2011, 02:37 PM   #7
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TGM = Tour Guide Milke. There's a banner for his site on the top of this forum.
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Old 01-16-2011, 02:55 PM   #8
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Coral reef doenst have the diver anymore? Since when?
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Old 01-16-2011, 02:57 PM   #9
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How nice to read a positive review!! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. (and deservedly so after all your planning )LOL
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Old 01-16-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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Thanks for all that info, sounds like you had a great time

Being a wheelchair user I'm a little worried about Universal Resort not being as good as Disney with physical disabilities, and worried about the crowds in WWoHP but hopefully if we plan things properly we won't have problems
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Old 01-16-2011, 03:38 PM   #11
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I should have said that the Coral Reef doesn't have the diver who will bring a personalized sign over to the glass while you are eating. You can still see divers in the tank working.

WWOHP, and all of Universal, is handicap accessible. They just don't do it like Disney. Here's an example. If you aren't familiar how to proceed with a wheelchair as you approach an attraction at Universal you have to figure it out on your own. At least while we were there we didn't see someone that could help you. At Disney the CM's will almost always be right there to assist you. Not to help cut the line, as I don't think that is fair, but instruct you on what you should do. That means a lot to my mom and dad, who are approaching 70, when they head to the parks by themselves.
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Old 01-16-2011, 04:15 PM   #12
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Thanks for your thoughts.

We too are DVC members and have been taking family and friends for years. We were able to stay in the 1 story GV at BWV a couple of years ago. We also had a couple of other villas booked for that trip for the rest of the family. It does spoil you somewhat- i found myself missing it when staying in 2br units. We'll have 10 of us in a GV at BLT this May.
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Old 01-16-2011, 04:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cman View Post
Here's a tip on getting to WWOHP at IOA. If you get there early you will notice that they let you enter the park to a certain point and then you will see the crowd of people being held back before you enter Suess land.

The quickest was to get to WWOHP is to go through Suess land. We made the mistake of listening to the guy telling us to go to the left towards the Hulk. It looked that people were freely moving toward the Hulk so we listened to him. When we got a little past the Hulk they had a rope their stopping people from going any further. At 9am they dropped the rope. By time we got to WWOHP there was already a 60 minute wait for FJ.

I'm convinced that if we had waited at Suess land we would have gotten there faster.
The line through Seuss Landing is for guests staying onsite at Universal. The hour-long wait when you entered was from them. You actually got in as early as you could without staying onsite - be happy you didn't have a 3 hour wait through Jurassic Park.
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Old 01-16-2011, 05:34 PM   #14
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I really enjoyed reading your report and how wonderful that so many generations were able to share it together. You will always have those memories!! You brought tears to my eyes.
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Old 01-16-2011, 06:32 PM   #15
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What a nice report. Sounds like a great trip. Welcome home.
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