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Old 10-06-2012, 06:10 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 52

A Very Long AoA Review

Here was my mixed experience with AoA. On my recent trip, I spent my first 4 nights at YC (on sale), and my last three nights, 9/29-10/2, at AoA-LM to save money. Important disclaimer: other than the specific issues with a couple of CMs, most of the not-so-great comments are probably just things I don't like about the value resorts. I think all the value resorts are wonderful options; I've just decided they aren't compatible with my WDW touring style. I've stayed at Pop several times before, but just for one or two nights, so I never had the full experience of using the buses/food court every day.

Check-in: Well, it was a comedy of errors. It was a Saturday afternoon and the lobby was packed. The line ended up being the longest wait we had the entire week at Disney, and we did all the "big" rides multiple times. It was about an hour, and they gave out free lemonade. There were five CMs in the regular check in line (and no, the online check in line didn't seem to be moving that much faster, ha). We noted that some people checking in remained at the desk for up to 45 minutes at a time. This could be the guests' fault, AoA's fault, or just totally random.

When we finally made it to the CM, the experience became worse. I mentioned to her that our luggage was being transferred from Yacht Club. Her immediate response:

"Do you THINK it's being transferred, or are you SURE it's being transferred?"

I had no idea what she meant at first. I've done split stays before and know how to get my luggage transferred. Seeing my look of confusion, she said, "Because I had a guest the other day who THOUGHT she had her luggage transferred here, but it turned out there was a miscommunication!"

My instinct was just frustration because after being in line for an hour, I didn't want to be treated like I was stupid, but I tried to maintain what was left of my Disney cheer. I assured her that Yacht Club would be transferring my luggage, and even showed her a receipt they gave me. She said, "Well, you'll have to talk to them <gesturing somewhere> and see if it's arrived yet." I asked if she meant luggage services, and if so, whether she could point me in their direction so I could visit them after check in. (She did, and yes, my luggage had arrived safely! The luggage services CM at AoA was wonderful.)

I received the type of room I had requested (just a higher/non-ground floor room in the LM section). That was good!

Then there was the problem of our park tickets. I had actually been dreading this for fear that it would be an issue. On past split stays, I had just had a separate park pass. However, when we purchased our park tickets at Yacht Club, the concierge there assured me that she could put them on our room keys, and that AoA would be able to transfer them to our new room. The AoA check-in CM seemed terrified when I told her this, went and talked to someone, and eventually steered me over to the concierge line. This line was mercifully short at 15 minutes. I said to the concierge, "Hi, I just checked in a few minutes ago. I spent the first half of my vacation at the Yacht Club, and their concierge said you would be able to transfer my park pass from my old room key to my room key here. Can you do that for me?"

"I MIGHT be able to do that. I'll have to check." Of course, my heart sank. Five minutes later, after much typing on the computer, he told me he could do it. Apparently this can't be done with certain package reservations (mine was room-only)... fine, but there was no need to act like I was making some crazy request. After much more typing on the computer, he said he thought the park passes had been successfully transferred to my new keys, but that he couldn't be sure because the system was "acting crazy," so he wanted me to keep my Yacht Club room keys just in case. Spoiler alert: the passes did indeed transfer to the AoA keys, so it all worked out.

One issue I had with both the original CM, and to a lesser extent, the concierge, is that I felt like I was talking to a wall. A very fake wall. I was an adult, traveling with another adult, and I had a couple of "complex" issues (luggage transfer; park passes transfer). I was met with confusion and distrust when I wanted to get these things taken care of. And yet on the flip side, I felt like they spent way too much time on the simple stuff. It was like they were wearing a mask and relying on a script, for example, a long explanation of how to get to my room by "swimming" this way and that way. (Don't get me wrong, I love the WDW theming... the YC check in people told me "Welcome aboard" quite a few times and I loved it, but that's because they were acting competently.) I was just really frustrated with the first AoA CM especially.

We're not done yet! After taking care of the park passes and grabbing the luggage, we walked over to our room in the LM section. Now, the walk isn't bad, but in the afternoon heat with luggage it was kind of a task, especially after all of the check in craziness. We finally get to our room, and.... the door was hanging open. After making sure no one was inside, we tested the keys (with one of us inside the room just in case) and saw red lights. They didn't work at all. The thought of walking over to the main building and standing in line again made me really upset. I called the front desk and told them about the open door/keys not working. The CM said on the phone that it seemed the keys were encoded correctly, but that she would tell "them" that the keys weren't working. I asked what I should do, or what the next step was. She said that either They (lol) would bring me new keys, or that I would have to go pick up new ones. This was not really a definite answer, so I just waited in my room and hoped for the best. It's a good thing I didn't have plans to go to a park or the pool right away or something. After 45 minutes, new keys came and they worked. Okay, the check in saga is over!

Theming/room decor: A+.The whole place looks great and the room was adorable. No complaints there!

Room cleanliness and mousekeeping: Saw/killed two big spiders/bugs on the wall right after walking in and a couple of small ones at other times. It was upsetting because I hate bugs and do my best to avoid them. But I know it's Florida, with the exterior corridors it can't really be avoided (and I did request and receive a higher-floor room to avoid bugs as much as possible). Mousekeeping seemed fine; we tended to park hop the entire day (relaxing when necessary at the parks - 12 hours at the parks on our last full day!) because dealing with the buses and returning to AoA for a mid-day break seemed like kind of a waste. When we would get back at night, the room would be clean.

Room noise: I'm a light sleeper so I always travel with a white noise machine. I had no problems at all. Without the white noise machine, I could tell there might be a bit of noise, but nothing bad. We had a pool view in the Ursula section, 4th floor.

Bus service: The lines were always really long, compared to what I have experienced at other resorts. People were always left behind. It didn't bother me to stand, but it's worth noting. On Monday in the late morning (Epcot's 30th), I saw five HS buses in a row (the last 3-4 left empty) before one Epcot bus came.

Food court: I was there at around 9pm one night and it was an absolute madhouse. I was actually kind of rattled by the experience! I was there a different night and it was fairly quiet. Both times, however, the floor was really sticky and I just wanted to get out. The only non-packaged item I tried was the caprese sandwich, and it was pretty good.

Summary: I'd certainly go back to AoA for a night or two, but I won't go back to WDW until I can afford a deluxe for the entire week. This may not happen for a while, but that's how it's going to be. It's just much easier for me to take mid-day breaks at an Epcot area resort, and I prefer the transportation options there. That being said, apart from the random things with a CM or two, I think AoA is a beautiful place that will do extremely well. These issues described above did NOT ruin my vacation or anything like that. Enjoy your trips, everyone!
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