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Old 08-30-2006, 08:25 PM   #1
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All Star Sports and Free Dining 8/19-8/27 (updated 10/8 with pics)

Zig zagging our way to Disney again in August – are you insane?


How could this happen?

For the (not very many) folks who read my June 2006 trip report (Can I convince you…an offsite adventure), let me say that while it is possible that I am indeed crazy, in my own defense, there were circumstances involved here. Circumstances that led me into the “kool aid” depths of actually taking two Disney vacations in the same summer. Something we have never done before and will probably never get the chance to do again.

Here’s what happened: there I was, merrily planning my June offsite adventure, very excited about the hotels we were trying out and the great meals we would eat. Our plane tickets were paid for, some of our hotels were prepaid….and then…it happened. A little postcard in the mail. A bad postcard. A postcard that talked about a certain 20 year high school reunion that was set to take place in August. Anyone remember high school? Does it give you a shiver to think of seeing all your high school classmates at age 40? It does to me. And I didn’t hate the idea, really, of seeing these people. But I had gone to the 10 year reunion. We had flown across the country to California to see these folks that I had gone to school with….and who I now had nothing in common with. Plus at the time, I was working in insurance, which is a big “wow” factor at a reunion, real impressive. But, anyway we received the postcard. And started looking at airfares to California for August (it was about May at this time) – discovered that airfares would run approx. $300/person round trip. So that’s $900 for the 3 of us – myself, DH and DD10. Plus $200 to attend the reunion itself.

And then we received another piece of mail, this time from the Disney Visa people, announcing the free dining. And we said, “shoot, it’s too bad we didn’t know about the free dining when we booked our trip in June, it might’ve been cool. Now we’ve already paid for the June trip, so can’t really do anything about it.” But then I started thinking about the price to fly out for the reunion and wondering…..how much would the free dining plan package cost in comparison. After all, we would still have park tickets left from our June trip, so would only need to buy 1 day tickets according to the package requirements. So for grins and giggles, we sent for a price quote from Small World Vacations – 6 nights at the All Star Sports with free dining and one day park tickets. Came back at $729.63.

$729.63 is pretty darn cheap. How much is airfare running? No great deals to be had there…$229.10/person round trip including all tax. $222.74 for an intermediate sized car from Budget (I know, and I’m sorry, but I refuse to give up my rental car on a trip to Orlando – believe me, complete strangers at Disney felt obligated to explain why I shouldn’t rent a car, so I’ve heard them all, trust me). The final 2 nights I was thinking to stay offsite (hee hee) somewhere snazzy, but at the last minute (mid July) I decided to try Priceline for the first time and got the Hilton at Downtown Disney for $75/night. I realize now I could have gotten in for $60, but it’s all good, it ended up being much nicer than I would’ve thought, given what is said about it on the Disney boards. Anywho, this all adds up to about $1800 for a week of vacation. Not bad.

Since I’m writing a trip report, there is obviously no need for drama as to what we decided to do. The worst part was (of course) the reaction of all those around us. What are you – nuts? Why would you want to go there again?

As I mentioned in my first trip report, I thought it would be fun to compare the two trips – an onsite versus offsite Disney vacation. Because I’ve always been a big offsite gal. Overall, I think we as tourists in the Orlando area benefit very much from the competition between the fancy offsite hotels and Disney. Everybody wants our business, so they offer great deals, even Disney sometimes, like with this dining thing. I know, I know, it isn’t really free, but I figure if I’m staying at the All-Stars, I would definitely not find a room-only discount to equal free dining plan for 3 adults (daughter is 10, remember). So why not?

The best part was that by the time we left for vacation in August, we had already paid for the Disney MYW package and the Priceline hotel, plus the airfare. The only thing waiting on our credit card bill when we got home would be the rental car, plus any additional meals (after we checked out from Disney) or souvenirs. Sweet….

We were very jazzed about the dining plan, as we generally do not eat many table service meals on site – they are too expensive, and we always eat very good and reasonably priced meals offsite. So there were many restaurants to choose from, and we picked ones we had never tried before. We obtained ADR’s for Boma, Liberty Tree Tavern, Kona, Coral Reef, Mama Melrose (with the Fantasmic Dinner Package), and Le Cellier. My daughter was looking forward to many Mickey bars, DH wanted the ice cream cookie sandwich from Sleepy Hollow in MK, and I needed my Dole Whip. This was gonna be fun!

As an aside, we are very healthy eaters at home. I teach aerobics after work a couple times a week, so I am constantly hammering home to my classes the importance of healthy food and exercise. The downside of being such an active person, is that I inevitably gain weight on vacation because I’m always going to have eaten more fattening things and done less exercise than normal. The upside is that I know the right way to take it off again. You can’t live your life fixated on the scale, gotta let loose once in awhile. Eat a Mickey bar….anyway, the point of all that rambling is that I was prepared to increase poundage while on vacation, and I was okay with that. (as I write this, I have been working this week on taking off those extra 5 pounds – will let you know how that goes).

About a week before we left on vacation, the attempted terrorist issue in England happened. We could not, therefore, go with my hubby’s idea of taking everything in our carry-on bags. Everything except a backpack was put in the checked suitcase – yes, only one. Little bit nervous about the new regulations – no water, no sunblock, no anything really in your carry-on bag. But excited, because this was going to be an adventure!

NEXT: Day 1, Saturday 8/19

Last edited by zigzagzerr; 10-08-2006 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 09-02-2006, 08:52 PM   #2
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I always lose weight or stay the same because I am sooo active in Disney.....walking sometimes ten miles a day is alot for me......thanks so much for your report......love good food though so am anxious to find out what you liked and didnt' like

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Old 09-02-2006, 10:19 PM   #3
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I didn't know you could use the Free Dining off site. I heard the Dining Plan has a lot of food and people come home with weight gain, but oh well.
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:30 AM   #4
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Day 1 Welcome to the All Star Sports!

Day 1, Saturday 8/19

Since our flight out of Baltimore was leaving at the ungodly hour of 6:55 a.m., we were up at 4:15. I figured when we chose this flight that it would give us more time to play. I was (somewhat) rethinking that decision as we stumbled out of bed, into our clothes, and to the coffee pot.

In hindsight, with all the new flight restrictions, it was probably a good thing to be leaving so early. We had an uneventful drive over to BWI, parked in the garage, and made it through security and to the gate without any problems. Since we had been unable to score the coveted “A” boarding passes on Southwest, but were instead bumped down to the “B” group, we decided to camp out at the front of the “B” line. We were settling in over there when I realized that a woman across the way was trying to catch my eye. I was a little puzzled and then it dawned on me slowly that I actually recognized this woman – she worked for the same healthcare company as me, only in a different office. We had been on the same large customer service committee a couple years before. Go figure….what are the odds you’ll bump into someone you know at 6 in the morning? And going on the same flight? She was there with her daughter, and they were doing the free dining plan, too. They were staying at the All Star Music, so we’d be neighbors. Anyway, we had a nice chat while waiting for the plane to board. I have to say, unfortunately, that I don’t know how well the dining plan was gonna work out for her – she had not made any ADR’s in advance (I know, it makes you wince, doesn’t it?). I don’t think she had done much planning. I’m sure folks who do their trips that way still have a great time, but I bet they end up missing a lot, too. After we boarded the plane, we didn’t see them again, as they were taking Magical Express, but I hope they had as much of a blast as we did!

After we were herded onto the plane (with random bag searches on the way in, oh goody!), we sat at the gate for about 25 minutes. An announcement was made that there was a problem with a smoke detector test in the cargo hold, and they needed to check it out. Fine by me! I’d personally prefer that we didn’t have a fire in the belly of the plane, how ‘bout you? Finally, all tested out okay, and we took off for our week of fun!! The pilot did a great job making up the time on the way down to Florida, and we ended up landing on time, at around 9:30. After waiting awhile for our luggage (take note that with the new restrictions, absolutely EVERYONE is checking luggage, so baggage claim is a bit slower), we met up with DH who had gone to wait in the rental car line. Got our car with no problems and made our way to our new onsite home for 6 nights.

While DH and I waited in the long line to check in at All Star Sports (why? Why were there a bazillion people checking in at 10:30 am?), my DD watched cartoons in the little tv area. With all these people everywhere, I was starting to be concerned about how crowded Disney was going to be this week. Could the free dining make everything super crowded? I guess we would just have to see. We got ourselves checked in, and received our “packet o’ fun” including our resort/dining cards. Our room was not ready yet, but they had noted our preference for buildings 1, 2 or 3 (according to the Unofficial Guide, these are the quietest buildings, as they are away from the pool and food court – by the way, for any of you that are wondering, the UG is absolutely correct about that). We were told that we would be in building 3, in the “Hoops” (basketball) section, and we were given a phone number to call later to get our room number.

At this point, we drove over to where our room was going to be, just to make sure we knew how to find it, but we didn’t do any exploring of the resort yet. First thing on everybody’s agenda was lunch, although it was still quite early. But since we had eaten granola bars and coffee at like 4:30 am, it seemed that food was in order. So we drove over to Downtown Disney. I had decided we would eat counter service at Wolfgang Puck Express near the Christmas store. We had to wander through the stores a bit (a sacrifice, of course), since Wolfgang Pucks didn’t start serving lunch until 11:30. My DD purchased a keychain at World of Disney—souvenir money doesn’t last long for her. And then we had lunch.

We used 2 counter service credits and split the food between the 3 of us:
Chicken Aioli sandwich
Ham/Provolone sandwich
2 cookies
2 rootbeers (with free refills)
total charged to the dining plan: $22.15

The ham sandwich was okay, but the chicken was really really good (and we obviously thought so because we ate here 2 more times over the course of the week, and got that sandwich every time) – absolutely delicious. We thought this was outstanding counter service. If they have the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies when you are there, do yourself a favor and have one. They are the best cookies ever! We ate outside at a table under an umbrella and watched the sky spitting at us.

After lunch, we were a little hesitant about what to do next, as the sky looked ominous. Eventually, we decided that we didn’t care if it rained on us or not, and drove over to the Fantasia mini golf to play a round. We used our Disney Visa Rewards points to pay for this (quite expensive) -- $34.00. There are 2 courses here – the one based on the Fantasia movie and a more elaborate course that actually looks like a real golf course, only on a smaller scale. We did the Fantasia one. We all agree this is the best putt putt course we’ve ever played. It’s so elaborate and very well maintained. Somehow, we lucked out and never had anybody in front of us, either. There are fountains that squirt you along the walkway, dancing hippos, and holes that play music when you sink the putt. My favorite was a hole that, if you hit your ball right, it rolled down a set of steps that were actually a xylophone and played notes as your ball was bouncing down. It was cool! The sky started spitting at about hole #12 but we kept on going. My DH was very happy because he not only won the game, but also got 3 holes in one during the afternoon. It was a lot of fun.

We weren’t quite ready to leave yet, since we couldn’t get into our room anyway. We noticed that the Swan and Dolphin were right next to the mini golf, so we went walking towards them. You know something? I always see the big swan and dolphin figures as we’re driving by, but I’ve never been inside or even up close to these hotels. They are really impressive looking when you’re standing right next to them. We walked around and took some pictures.

Then we continued walking until we found ourselves at the Boardwalk resort. As I looked across the (literally) deserted Boardwalk, I thought “the crowds can’t be that bad – I mean, there is absolutely no one out here.” Hmm….maybe they’re all staying at the All Stars, you think? The rain could be keeping everyone inside, I suppose. We looked at the menus in the restaurant windows along there…someday I’d like to eat at the Flying Fish, but it’s pretty pricey. We stopped at the Boardwalk Sweet Shop and used our first snack credit for a big chocolate covered rice krispy treat ($3.50) to eat in the room tonight, then slowly walked our way back to our car in the mini golf parking lot. Slowly because it was very humid out and DD was (already, poor child) tired of walking so much. On our way back, we stepped inside the Dolphin to take a quick look around. It’s very big!

We decided to make a quick grocery stop before trying again to get into our room. The Dolphin concierge had given us a map showing how to find a Publix, but we got a little turned around and ended up going to “our” Publix (yes, I know it’s sad that we have our own Publix) over near Sea World. We bought oatmeal squares and fruit for breakfast, water, wine, and chips. – total was $31.48.

It was now 3:15 and time to check into our room. We were on the 2nd floor of Hoops building #3. Our room faced Hoops building #2 with grass and walkways in between. Our buildings were covered with oversized basketball hoops and big basketballs soaring into them.

Between the buildings were basketball courts with hoops that were really really high! Our room, as predicted by all, was small but had everything we needed. Two double beds, a quite small tv set, and 4 dresser drawers that looked like lockers. The sink area was outside of the bathroom, which was nice for getting ready in the morning. There were pictures of people playing basketball, on the walls. After we unpacked and rested for a bit (up at 4 am tends to wear you out eventually), we took a walk around the resort. There are a bunch of different clusters of buildings – the ones near the pool have fish and surfboards on them, there’s also a tennis section, football section, and baseball section (which contains giant bleachers another smaller swimming pool). The stairwells are disguised as giant helmets or footballs or (in the case of our building) giant megaphones. The main pool is very large, as it obviously needs to be for a resort of this size – almost 2000 rooms. We were hot after walking around the grounds, so stopped into the food court and used 2 snack credits for a Mickey bar (for DH and me to share) and an Itzakadoozie popsicle for DD (around $5.00 to the dining plan). We also bought a refillable mug ($12.83 cash with tax) and used it all week for coffee in the morning (Nescafe is not the best, but also not the worst coffee we’ve ever had), and ice tea/sodas in the afternoons. Looking back, this is the only time we actually bought anything at the food court – we must have hit it today at a good time. I’m sure others have mentioned this before, but the food court at All Star Sports is not nearly large enough to handle the number of guests trying to use it. Every other time we came there, it was mass pandemonium, never enough registers open, and long lines. We basically came in to refill our mugs and left, that’s about it. So if you’re looking for a hotel at Disney and want to eat meals at your resort, I would recommend going somewhere else.

As I mentioned above, we saw both pools. They are not themed, but the main pool is large and there are plenty of lounge chairs and tables around. The water is refreshing.

After taking a peek in the gift shop (very crowded there also), we wandered back to our room to (finally!) shower and get dressed for our big dinner at Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Could we get there before the skies opened up?

COMING UP: 1st table service on the dining plan: dinner at Boma – are we drinking the kool aid?
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:10 PM   #5
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Day 1 continued -- dinner at Boma

When we left off, the family was showered, dressed in our Sunday best (okay, dressed in our long pants at least – that’s about as dressy as we go) and heading over to the Animal Kingdom for our 7:00 pm ADR at Boma. I was very excited about this place, and it was a great way to inaugurate our free dining. We left plenty of time to get over there, maybe more than we needed. I hadn’t realized how close the All Stars are to AKL. By the time we arrived and parked, it was absolutely pouring. We sat in the car about 10 minutes, in hopes that it would let up enough to avoid a drenching, but no luck. Unfortunately, we hadn’t thought to bring our ponchos to dinner (!), but we had brought sweatshirts in case the air conditioning was too cold. So sweatshirts on head (easier for those of us with hoods), we made a run for it!

What a beautiful lobby at the Animal Kingdom Lodge! We had never set foot in this resort before, and thought it was just great, even packed with wet shivering people. We wandered through the gift shop and to the outdoor viewing areas. Obviously there weren’t many animals wandering around in the downpour, but we could definitely see the charm of having such animals right outside your balcony. How very cool! We were able to see a couple of giraffes and watched them for awhile, until the rambunctious kids drove us away from the area (all the kids around us seemed tired and punchy).

We worked our way through the mob at the Boma podium, where some of the adults waiting seemed a little punchy, too. Some of them complaining about how long they had been waiting. After receiving our beeper, we walked around a bit, then went upstairs to the bar to try an umbrella drink. We had just about determined what we wanted and were scouting for somebody to take our drink order, when the buzzer went off (it was around 6:45). So, first try with ADR’s, we had barely any wait, even in the midst of free dining. Woo hoo!

Overall, we thought this was a great meal. It was definitely the best buffet we have ever had on Disney property, with some very interesting dishes and spices. DD ate about 3 plates of food, plus dessert – no worries there!!!

Some of the dishes we especially liked were:
Couscous seafood stew (if it’s there, try it! DD ate two full bowls and had to fight us off. Delicious)
Spicy ribs
Prime rib
Spiced chicken
Nut crusted salmon
Zebra domes

I also tried the pickled watermelon rind since I had read good things about it. It was tasty but needed to be eaten in small doses. Also had several couscous salads, one with raisins that was quite good. I tried to be restrained on desserts. DH went back for about 4 more zebra domes. Total cost to the dining plan was $97.07, and this would have been worth it, IMO, even if you had to pay out of pocket. We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

The rain had tapered off somewhat by the time we headed home to the All Stars. We chilled at the room, had an adult beverage, shared our rice krispy square from earlier, and watched “I Love Lucy” episodes on our DVD players (a tradition when we’re on vacation). It had been a marvelous day. We hadn’t even hit a park yet, but we could already feel the magic working. Everybody was happy as they drifted off to sleep.

Coming up next: Day 2, Magic Kingdom and LTT character dinner
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:51 PM   #6
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Subbing! It's some great Kool-Aid isn't it? LOL
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:48 PM   #7
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Subbing! Great writing.
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Old 09-11-2006, 03:39 PM   #8
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Good report! Our spring break stay were were in hoops building 3, so I recognize that photo! We were on the other side of the building though.
One of the beautiful spots from our 10 day Christmas cruise!

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Old 09-11-2006, 06:16 PM   #9
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I trippies with pics. Looking forward to more.
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Old 09-11-2006, 09:08 PM   #10
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DAY 2 – Magic Kingdom start to finish (and a patriotic dinner with character)

Everybody woke up bright and early, eager for a day at the happiest place on earth! (okay, actually the 2 parents woke up bright and early, DD had to be dragged from the covers kicking and screaming). DH ran out to the food court for our hit of Nescafe. Which supplemented our breakfast of apples and oatmeal squares. We had spent a fairly quiet night, other than the whoosh of turbo potties. So for all of you looking for quiet, I will again mention that we were in building #3. Just saying….

Our plan for the day was to use the one day tickets we had had to purchase for the Magic Your Way package. This meant we could not park hop, as we would normally do. Since the Magic Kingdom would be open until 1:00 am for Evening Extra Magic Hours, we planned to show up in the morning, spend some time at the All Star pool in the afternoon, and go back to MK in the evening for dinner, and just leave when we get tired. I wasn’t sure how crowded the MK would be during Extra Magic Hours, but figured why not try it? If we didn’t like it, we didn’t have to stay.

We left the hotel at 7:50 and drove over to the TTC. We were so early that we got to park in the Minnie section, close enough to walk to the TTC without taking a tram. They let us onto the Monorail because we were resort guests (I hadn’t realized that if you were offsite, you had to wait longer to get to the Monorail or Ferry). Once we made it onto the Monorail, we sat at the station for quite a long time – maybe 10-15 minutes, while the folks around us grumbled quietly. We finally arrived at the Magic Kingdom gates. Yippee!!! We waited for the opening show. As we waited, I did notice that the MK seemed a bit disorganized. The right hand side was entirely roped off for folks with a.m. character breakfasts, but there were tons of people going under the rope or claiming to be going to the breakfasts, when you just knew they weren’t. I don’t know where these people were going after they got in, but didn’t have breakfast ressies. Just standing around? Who knows?

Anywho, we sat back on the wall with a perfect view of the train station, and enjoyed the opening ceremony. We tried not to power walk our way over to Tomorrowland. I really liked that the cast members from the stores stand outside in the morning at opening to wave at you as you walk by. It’s a nice touch. We took the path through the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant and waited at the rope there, for a few minutes. We then joined the mob of folks headed for Space Mountain. This is always our first ride of the day. After soaring into space, we got fast passes for later, and walked over to shoot some aliens with Buzz Lightyear. Somehow, I never get any better at this. Need more practice, right? DH hit some big target by mistake and got zillions of points. Yea! We went to Fantasyland next to hit all the dark rides – Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, and Peter Pan. This is the absolute best time of day for those attractions – no lines at all. On to the ghosties at the Haunted Mansion, and then over to Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We had hoped to ride Splash Mountain but alas, foiled….Splash wasn’t working, so we picked up Fast Passes and headed back to Tomorrowland to use our Space fast passes from earlier. We stayed in the area to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and then watch the Carousel of Progress. We got to witness a malfunction of the Carousel. We got into the theater, sat down, listened to the first part – this is the part with just the curtain and name of the show where they talk about how the attraction came to be. Then the doors opened…..everybody kind of giggled and said “so that’s it?” The CM had to reset the ride, and we had to listen to the first part over again. I imagine that whichever scene you were at, at that time, you probably saw it twice. Pretty interesting. I just love this attraction – we always make a point to see it, usually more than once.

After such a busy morning, we were ready for an early lunch. It was 11:35, and Pecos Bills was already insanely busy. (the part that I think is really insane, is that they actually open for lunch at 10:30, but that’s another story). We were all in the mood for burgers, though, so we braved the wait. And we waited, and waited, and waited (and you get the picture). Seemed like everyone was on the dining plan, and everyone needed it explained to them, what they could order, etc.

We used 3 counter service credits to get:
2 bacon cheeseburger combos with fries
1 cheeseburger combo with fries
2 iced teas
1 lemonade
3 peanut butter mousse brownies

total charged to the dining plan: $36.10

The burgers here were very good, and the fixings bar is excellent. DD and I enjoyed dipping our fries into the (I’m sure very nutritious) hot cheese sauce. Let me just break in here to talk about the brownie dessert thing. For those of you who are not as anal as I am and did not read the label on this sucker, let me tell you --- it ain’t pretty. First of all, this little brownie thing, if you read the nutrition facts, is actually 2 servings and comprises a whopping 40 grams of fat. After looking at the all the meals we ate on the dining plan this week, I think this one wins the prize for being the most unhealthy. That brownie is tasty (I had a couple bites) but it sure isn’t worth that much fat!! For those stats, I want something homemade.

I did not mention the weather earlier, but the day was gorgeous, in the 80’s, less humid, and blue skies.

After lunch, we waddled over to use our Splash Mountain fast passes, and were happy to see that the ride was now functioning. This is my favorite MK attraction and I always ride it as much as possible. After a great splashdown, we picked up another set of FP’s, good for 4:25-5:25. Now it was time for another of our highly anticipated events – seeing the new updated Pirates of the Caribbean. We waited in a long (30 minute) line, which crisscrossed back and forth across the front of the entrance before entering the building. The CM’s were all talking “pirate” and having a good time. I felt very bad for the lady in front of us. After waiting in line for a full 30 minutes, 2 out of her 3 kids refused to ride, and she had to bail out, leaving hubby and kid#3 to ride. The updates were amazing. The audio animatronics looked so real – they really show up how dated the other robotics in the attraction are. Things have come a long way since the Pirates debuted.

It was about 1:30 pm at this point, and we decided to go back to the All Stars for some swimmin’ and chillin’ before coming back to MK for dinner tonight. This is when I had the (brilliant, imho) idea….we would leave our rental car in its extra primo front row parking spot at the TTC and take the Disney bus back to the All Star. Then when we came back to MK for dinner, we would take the bus again. At the end of the evening, our car would be there waiting for us and it would be an easy trip out. A bus came right away and we were off. Lots of sweaty and tired folks on the bus with us. Anyway, we were back at the resort by 2:30. So, it was a very good experience with the bus system.

We spent about an hour in the All Star pool, swimming and relaxing. I swam for awhile, then found a shaded umbrella table and sipped iced tea from the refillable mug while working on my trippie notes. The water in the pool was the perfect temperature, very refreshing. There were quite a few people swimming, but it was not overly crowded. The pool is very large and there was plenty of room.

We were back at the bus stop around 4:30 and again, had very little wait for a bus to MK. We headed into Adventureland since we did not make it there in the morning. Tried to get a Dole Whip, but the line was outrageous. All those folks with snack credits….. : ) We decided to try again some other time (unfortunately there were lots of people at the stand EVERY time we tried….and it always seems to be one of the slowest moving lines). Instead, we went back over to Splash to use the fast passes we had picked up earlier. After riding, we picked up (yet) another set, good for 8:30-9:30 (I really wanted the chance to ride this at night).

After Splash, we noticed that the Pirates of the Caribbean line looked smaller than earlier, so we hopped in line. At this point, I may offend, so I will apologize now. The family behind us in line seemed….um, quite unfamiliar with the concept of soap. Fortunately the line was moving pretty quickly. We thought we were home free….but then….the CM placed this family in the seats IN FRONT of us. We were in the back row. Well, let me tell you, when the boat would pick up speed, every so often, we would get a whoosh of BO wafting back to us. I’m talking serous overpowering BO (as Seinfeld would say, this is beyond BO). Finally, the 3 of us just burst out laughing….it was too funny to see the 3 of us wrinkling up our noses every time a breeze came by. Phew! Serious relief when the ride was over.

Next up was the Tiki Bird show – I love to watch the little ones dancing to the music! And I got a kick out of the CM who was sneakily watching the folks waiting for the pre-show, and then announcing over the loudspeaker, “The tiki gods get very angry if you sit on their railings, especially if you’re wearing a BLUE DRESS.” A little girl in a blue dress would jump up startled. It was cute. We headed over to the Jungle Cruise (which sadly seems to have shut down their fast pass kiosks, at least for the time being) and as we were winding our way through the line, we caught a whiff….an ugly yet powerful whiff….a very familiar whiff. Oh no!! Looked over and saw….yes, it was really them again! Fortunately, we were far enough away that they couldn’t possibly end up in our boat. Too funny! Our captain was just okay, seems like it’s hit or miss on whether you get a funny one.

We walked through the Swiss Robinson Treehouse, just for fun, and then picked up fast passes for Big Thunder (‘cuz it’s very very fun at night).

It was time to check in for our 7:20 ADR at Liberty Tree Tavern for our character dinner. We waited about 10 minutes before they called us in. I liked how they call out your name and town. Our waiter was Said, and he was very nice to us. Very polite and attentive. This meal is served family style and you can get seconds of anything you like. They served us turkey, ham, steak, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, green beans. Apple cobbler for dessert. We got seconds of the steak (really delicious, great seasonings) and mac & cheese. The apple cobbler was yummy!! My DH had purposely worn his special American flag shirt, to match the patriotic décor.

My DD was in heaven, surrounded by all these characters (maybe the 10 year olds aren’t really as jaded as they would have you believe).

Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Chip & Dale each came by twice while we were there. They gave out hugs/kisses and posed for pictures. We really had a lot of fun.

I must comment on how touched I was by the family sitting at the table next to ours. Dad was there with his clearly autistic son (maybe 13 years old) and daughter (about 8, eagerly sitting with her autograph book). The son mostly just wolfed down his food, while the daughter jumped up and hugged the characters. But, at some point, the son focused in on the characters and then there was no stopping him…he had to hug every one of them and the joy on his face was beautiful. Almost as beautiful as the look on his dad’s face seeing his children so happy.

Anyway, it was a great evening!

Coming next: Day 2, continued…Evening EMH – yea or nay?
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Old 09-11-2006, 10:20 PM   #11
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I remember your June report! Enjoying this report too. Was undecided about Earl of Sandwich or Wolfgang Puck Express for counter service at DTD. Your report has convinced me we should try the chicken aioli sandwiches at WPE. Looking forward to next post. Thanks!
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:21 AM   #12
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Great report. We are staying at AllStar Sports in November, so I appreciate the input. I hardly ever see anything on that resort, especially anything positive! Thanks for the info about the quiet buildings (1,2 or 3). Did you find they were too far a walk to the buses, food court or parking lot? I may request them on your recommendation.
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by bookworm61
Great report. We are staying at AllStar Sports in November, so I appreciate the input. I hardly ever see anything on that resort, especially anything positive! Thanks for the info about the quiet buildings (1,2 or 3). Did you find they were too far a walk to the buses, food court or parking lot? I may request them on your recommendation.
I'll throw my two cents worth in on the distance. We were in Hoops 3 on our Spring break trip, and I thought it was a PERFECT location. It was about a 3-5 minute walk to the food court, and probably a 5-7 minute walk to the buses. As I said earlier, we were on the opposite side of the building from the OP, so her walk may have been 2 minutes longer.

This is one resort I would NOT pay the preferred rate for. That puts you in the Surf's Up section, right outside the main pool. And when the sports teams are in town, they all hang at the pool after their games, so it gets very loud from sunset until they close the pool. Just walking through there during that timeframe was very chaotic.
One of the beautiful spots from our 10 day Christmas cruise!

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Old 09-12-2006, 09:32 AM   #14
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I've loved reading your TR so far...subscribing!!

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Old 09-12-2006, 01:06 PM   #15
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comments on All Star Sports

From our room in building 3, we were about a 5 minute walk to bus stops, food court, pool, etc. The good thing about buildings 1-3 is that they back up to a wooded area, meaning that they get far less traffic than the buildings surrounding the pool and food court. Mainly just the folks actually staying in those buildings. With a few exceptions (people coming back late from the parks and not keeping their voices down), we had a pretty quiet stay. And aside from the turbo potties flushing, we didn't hear a sound from any of the adjoining rooms, so the soundproofing is pretty good -- I bring that up because I've heard complaints along those lines from people who stayed at the newer Pop Century resort. We didn't have any issues with that, so maybe the soundproofing is better in the older All Star buildings.

Trust me when I tell you that I went into this, absolutely sure that I was going to hate the hotel. Budget....garish....motel 6.....etc. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was, and am happy to eat my words!

Will try to continue updating the report tonight and tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
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