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Old 07-29-2007, 10:07 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
Kristybell's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Surburban Philadelphia
Posts: 71

Our Disney Dream Vacation - the Captain, the Mouse and a 'tude-less ten year old!

This is my first ever trip report so please go easy! We've done Disney several times over the last ten years, but this year went beyond any of our expectations! I read many other trip reports and got so many fantastic tips and info from the DIS boards I couldn't wait to report back.

Let me give you the quick 411 on my little unit - there's me, Disney mom Kristy, Disney hubby Jim, and Disney crazy-kid Colin. We started going south to the house of mouse when Colin was 3. Been back about every other year since then, he's going on 11 now. We did our big Disney trip last year, splurged and went to the Beach Club with Disney Dining. Wasn't thrilled with BC, but thought the Dining plan was a steal.

This year we had just planned on a low key beach week for vacation. That is until Southwest dinged me in March with an amazing deal from Philly to Orlando. The price was so good that even my pinch-a-penny-till-it-squeaks-husband said "go for it". What a guy! We booked air without any other plans. Although in the back of my head I did know that the Deluxe resorts dropped their prices that week!

We knew we wanted to do the Dining plan again, so I researched the resorts, poured over trip reports and bought every tour guide on Disney available. I really liked what I had seen and heard about the Wilderness Lodge. Let me say right now that I'm not the outdoorsy type. My son always jokes that his mom's idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn! But this place appealed to me. The price appealed to my husband. I was ready to book, but remembered we had AAA and got a quote through them. Glad I did, we saved nearly $300 on the package plus were able to get a Courtyard view room!

Our flight didn't land in Orlando until 8:30 on the first night, Saturday the 8th, so rather than spend the big bucks on Disney property that night, I again researched and settled on the Royal Plaza in DD. We would barely be there 12 hours so how bad could it be?

We didn't use Disney transport that much during our last stay (we drove from PA to FL, nutjobs that we are!), but found the few times we did it was decent enough. So we went back and forth on whether to rent a car or leave it up to the mouse. In the end we went with an economy from Avis for three days that I got for FREE, yes Virginia, FREE using my AMEX reward points. Ok, so I had to make enough purchases to buy a third world country to get those points, a zero balance on my rental receipt was good enough for me!

Months turned into weeks, weeks into days, days to hours and then hours to minutes before our trip would begin. We're usually last minute people so planning a trip so far in advance and waiting all that time was torture! Our flight left Philly around 5:30 in the evening. Naturally, Colin was sitting with his bags packed by the car by 11 that morning! We normally park at the airport's economy lot, which is always packed and crazy. This time I had a coupon from a nearby off-site lot that saved us $3 a day. We found the location and a parking spot without a problem. Within 15 minutes we were picked up near our car and on our way! If you're doing a long trip from Philly, consider Pre-Flight parking. They were outstanding!

We zipped through check-in and in no time were waiting for our flight. Here are my boys, and the always present Stitch, ready to go -

The flight was perfect, a few bumps with the east coast humidity, but smooth sailing.

In no time we were at MCO and on the tram to our luggage. I didn't think it would be that crowded at 8:30, but there was a zoo by the luggage carousel. Thinking there would be the same madness at the car rentals, I left Jim and Colin at the luggage mosh pit and went to try to get the car. Indeed, the lines were crazy everywhere, EXCEPT Avis! Yeah!! I was kind of nervous that there would be some sort of glitch with my Amex rental vouchers as I had never used them before, but the very friendly clerk put them through with no problem and in less than 5 minutes I was on my way back to the boys and our stuff. Sweet!!

We found our car and were out the door ten minutes later. On our way!!

We've stayed in DD in the past, at the Doubletree, the old Marriott and the former Wyndham. Each was ok, but nothing I would fork my hard earned dollars over for again. I had heard so many good things about the Royal Plaza that I had to give it a try. The lobby was just beautiful. For being one of the oldest hotels in the DD area, it was very well taken care of. The gift shop was nice and had a great selection of Disney merch. Within minutes my son already had his eye on the Pirates Dice from POTC. With a great rate courtesy of Mousesavers, I had booked a deluxe tower room. Upon check in, I was told that they were having some problems with the air conditioners in the tower rooms. Not what you want to hear in FL in July! Would I be willing to take a Standard room at half the price? After a quick calculation, I realized that would save me nearly $60, why not? Our room was just lovely. Clean, comfortable and spacious enough. It faced I-4, and while I was a bit concerned about the noise, I can tell you I heard nothing and I'm a light sleeper.

We had wanted to hit Pebbles over at the Crossroads shopping center, but found it was unfortunately out of business. Such a shame, we had eaten there before and really enjoyed it. Being that it was 10 by this time we settled on Red Lobster for something quick. By 11:30 we were snug in our comfy beds with dreams of the Wilderness Lodge running round our heads.

Just as I was dreaming of chasing Captain Jack through the woods, my son woke me with a "mommy, my belly doesn't feel so good" around 3. Oh god no. All I could think of was Lesley's experience two years ago! We were back and forth for a few nervous hours until about 5 when we all finally dozed off. The alarm went off at 8:30 and my son said the stomach was ok and he was ready to hit the door. Thank goodness!

I'm telling you I can't think of a sweeter sight than this -

Hello handsome -

Soon enough we were there!

We drove to the security gate and gave our names, the guard gave us our parking pass with a "Welcome Home". I swear I nearly wept!

Does it get any better? Oh yes, it does! It was only 9:30 on Sunday morning and I didn't think our room would be ready. We had ressie's for breakfast at O'hana at 10:45 so we were ready to just check-in, stash our bags with bell services and go to the Poly.

We walked in, those doors slid open and I swear it took my breath away!

I have been plenty of places and to many four and five star resorts, but this place is simply amazing. The photos absolutely do not do it justice.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor (the staff must laugh their behinds off at the first-timers reactions!) we went to check in. Our rep could not have been nicer and informed us that yes, the room was indeed ready! Woohoo!!!

Here's Colin and me crossing the bridge from happy to ecstatic -

Here you can see Whispering Canyon behind us -

We had room 3119 and in no time we were in the most beautiful room! Found this waiting for us -

So sweet. Might seem ordinary to many of you, but no amount of tipping or pleading could get us anything close to this at the Beach Club last year.

The room, our view, breathtaking!!

I could have soaked it in all day, but we had a ressie with Stitch and company to make so we quickly unpacked and zipped over to the Poly.

The Poly had always been my choice as the ultimate resort to stay at Disney. You know, the one you'll stay at when you hit the lottery! It really is a beautiful resort and the view from O'hana is lovely -

My son is a HUGE Stitch fan and while he's trying to be cool for the photos, he's squealing on the inside -

Here's me making sure my husband gets his full serving of fruit for the day -

Mickey and Stitch were a riot! Always causing trouble for each other -

I surely do love that mouse -

Da boys -

Disney is the only place I know of where you don't mind that your breakfast resembles a rodent -

We had tons of character fun. Pluto is, well, a dog -

Colin even picked up his first girl. He was so very happy about it -

The food was great, the juice was delicious!! It was a great start to our first full day at the House of Mouse!

I'm working on getting all of our photos up so stay tuned for more tales of mice, men and the black snake at the boat dock!

Thanks for reading!

1999 - Offsite
2001 - Offsite
2004 - Offsite yet again!
2006 - Beachclub!
2007 - The Best Wildnerness Lodge Vacation Ever!
2008 - Back at the Lodge!
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Old 07-29-2007, 10:43 PM   #2
Earning My Ears
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Great start to your report! I think by the end of your TR (or sooner) you may just have me upgrading our stay in September from the CBR to the WL!! Great photos!

LOL about the breakfast resembling a rodent!

Looking forward to more!
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:55 PM   #3
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Of course you all are too cute. You've been pixie dusted for years! I can tell from the playful photos that you enjoy being silly.

That deserves five dancing bananas.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your report.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:21 PM   #4
Earning My Ears
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Surburban Philadelphia
Posts: 71

Part 2 of our first full day with the Mouse!

Thanks for the encouraging words! Everyone on here writes such amazing reports that I learned so much from. Now, where did I leave off?

Sunday, July 8

After a great brunch at O'hana, we headed out to our super whammy rental car (it really wasn't that great, but again it was FREE!), and set out to pick up some groceries for the week. We hit up the Publix on 192 for a few items and then made the trek back "home" to the WL. After unpacking we explored the resort for a bit, then walked down to the dock to catch our ride over to the MK. The walkway down to the dock was sooo beautiful. The way the raised boardwalk went through the trees, you almost felt like you were in a treehouse! And I LOVED these boat trips to the MK!!! No, they are not the fastest, but after a long day of hustle and bustle in the park, it felt so great to relax on that ride home with the breeze. Truly I don't think that even with a stop at Fort Wilderness it ever took more than 20 minutes to get there. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a boat as well.

So we get down to the docks and board a boat. My son wanted to sit up front and we were lucky to snag some premium seats up there. After a stop at Ft Wilderness to pick up passengers, we were on our way! On this night the MK was an evening extra magic hours park so we had more than enough time to take it all in, without the hot sun squeezing us like juice.

What a pretty sight our hotel was from the water -

First we floated past the Contemporary -

Then caught a glimpse of the Grand Floridian across the Seven Seas Lagoon -

Then, rounding the corner we saw the first mountain -

Then this sweet sight -

Here's Colin and I oohing and aahing -

I really was home now! As you can probably tell, MK is my favorite park. It just makes you forget about all the sadness and crazy things going on in your life and the world and brings you back to a happier time.

At least until you get your credit card bill!

As the Captain docked our boat he gave the usual park information stating that the park would be closing that night at 11. At this point my husband chimes in "no, tonight is an extra magic hours night at the Magic Kingdom. Trust me, my wife has read every book, article and web site on this so if she says it's open late, it's open late!" Our fellow travelers thought this was quite amusing, one even asking me if I knew what the other EMH parks were that week (sadly I did!).

We zipped through the gates and picked up maps ("do we really even need those this time if we have you?" hubby wanted to know) Main Street was bustling with kids and cast members playing hopscotch and having hula hoop contests. Everything so clean, fresh and beautiful. Like a breath of fresh air, ok, hot, super humid FL air! It was around 5 and our O'hana brunch was wearing off so we decided on Cosmic Ray's for dinner. We were saving a table service credit towards my belated mother's day dinner at California Grill later in the week.

On our way there we picked up Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear. We had about 2 hours until the window expired so we had plenty of time for dinner. I like Ray's because they have something for everyone. My gang is extremely picky but they always find something here.

We finished up dinner and saw that our Fast Pass time had started for Buzz. We also wanted to ride Big Thunder Mountain that night and knowing how to work that system, Jim volunteered to dash over and check on FP times for that ride. The directions I gave Jim to get there must have sounded hilarious, "ok take a left at Pooh, then keep going left around Peter Pan..."

He made it and returned with Fast Passes for BTM. And they weren't at midnight, yeah! We went on to battle Zurg -

Don't let the face fool you, he soundly whooped mom & dad! We also had time for a spin around the Indy Speedway. I gotta tell you, for someone who is tall and has long legs, those cars are downright painful!

We then rushed past Pooh, past Dumbo and around Mr. Pan on our way to Frontierland. We got to BTM, and I could sense Colin's fear. He's almost 11, but has never been big on coasters. He's tried them, but never developed the love that Jim and I have for them. We talked for many weeks leading up to this trip and finally had him convinced to give it a try. Well, wouldn't you know the first thing we saw when we got to the ride was the park EMT's taking another boy away on a stretcher! My poor child was white as a ghost at this. We assured him, as did others at the ride, that the other boy was suffering from heat exhaustion. Easy to do in that heat. I felt bad for him.

We got through the FP line and into our "car". He LOVED it! Squealed like a little girl the whole ride, but loved it -

We wanted to try Splash Mountain, but the FP window was too late and the standby line was crazy. We settled for waiting for a big splash on the bridge!

After that we trekked over to Adventureland. We're big Pirates fans so when the line was a mere 20 minutes, we had to take it! I don't think we even waited 10 actually. Jim tried to get Davey Jones -

And as always the merry Captain sent us back to reality -

The ride actually stopped for about 15 minutes just before we were due to get off. It was a seat in an air conditioned room, I wasn't complaining!

We eventually got out and raided the Pirates Bazaar outside the ride. That place has anything and everything you could ever want that's Pirate themed.

When we left there they were starting to set up for the first parade. We wanted to take advantage of that time and get some rides in as we planned to see the second one. I got us on the lake side of Frontierland and we crossed into Fantasyland just as the parade was starting. Yet Peter Pan's ride STILL had a super long line! Did they replace Captain Hook with Captain Jack or what?!

I drug my boys on the carousel despite my son's protests "mom, this is such a kiddie ride!" Junior, I sat through the Teletubbies and Barney for you when you were little, you'll take 2 minutes out of your life and ride the carousel with me!

There was no waiting for Philharmagic after that so we walked right in and sat down for the show. I'm not a big 3-D fan, but I love this one!

After this I was, *ahem* convinced that we should head back to Tomorrowland for more fun -

After wasting time playing with everything Stitch in the Merchant of Venus, we made our way out to watch Wishes. I had heard that the terrace over at the Tomorrowland Noodle Station was the place to watch them so I thought we'd give it a try. We managed to snag three excellent seats against the edge of the terrace with an unobstructed view. It was amazing, Tink flew right over us -

Star light, Star bright, first star I see tonight-

I wish I may I wish I might -

Have the wish I wish tonight -

We'll make a wish, and do as dreamers do -

And all our wishes, will come true -

That's the Disney magic right there. When your son, who is growing up much too fast, reaches out to take your hand for no other reason than to just hold it, that my friends is magic!

Tomorrow we take on Epcot, ducks, snakes, fish, turtles and more! Will Colin survive Test Track? Will Mommy swoon from the heat or Captain Sparrow?

More to come, thanks for reading!

1999 - Offsite
2001 - Offsite
2004 - Offsite yet again!
2006 - Beachclub!
2007 - The Best Wildnerness Lodge Vacation Ever!
2008 - Back at the Lodge!
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:55 PM   #5
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Nice TR so far. My sons name is Colin and he is 10 almost 11 too. He isn't fond of roller coasters either. Thought that was a funny coincedence. Anyway, can't wait to hear more about you're trip!
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:58 PM   #6
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Sounds like your trip is off to a great start! Looking forward to reading more.
Offsite May 2004
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Old 07-30-2007, 10:20 PM   #7
Earning My Ears
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Wow! Your photos of Wishes are awesome! And what a priceless moment between you and your son!
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Old 08-01-2007, 08:14 PM   #8
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Great TR. Wonderful pictures, especially love the one of you and son holding hands. Only about 6 weeks and we will be there.

1st disney trip 1983 - off property, 1984, 85', 86', 87', 88', 96', 03', 04', 05 - off property
2006 Pop Century, 2007 All Star Sports, 2008 Pop Century and 1st Disney Cruise, 2009 CBR , 2010 CBR :beach
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:18 PM   #9
I really should be packing - rather than Dis-ing!!
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Originally Posted by Kristybell View Post
That's the Disney magic right there. When your son, who is growing up much too fast, reaches out to take your hand for no other reason than to just hold it, that my friends is magic!

Tomorrow we take on Epcot, ducks, snakes, fish, turtles and more! Will Colin survive Test Track? Will Mommy swoon from the heat or Captain Sparrow?

More to come, thanks for reading!
That is so sweet! I love the pictures, especially being "convinced" to return to Tomorrowland as he holds a plastic daggar to you.
Can't wait to hear about Captain Sparrow and swooning!!
I really think I should be packing rather than Dis-ing

1st trip 2005 September ASMo
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2008 May Disneyland
2009 September ASMo
2010 September POP
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:41 PM   #10
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Your trip sounds like it is off to a great start! We also stayed at the WL this July and fell in love with it.

Don't you just love watching the fireworks from the terrace? We watched the 4th of July fireworks from there, so glad I was not on Main Street with the crowd.

I can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:17 AM   #11
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Great TR so far... we are staying at The WL in September and I cannot wait...
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