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Old 01-14-2009, 06:27 PM   #1
MommyBryn
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 824

Our Grand Gathering 1/6-1/13 at POR (11 adults, 4 children, 2 infants!)

I don't really have much detail, but figured I might as well share our experience...

We had 17 members of our family meet up at POR from 1/6-1/13. 11 of us flew down from Oregon/Idaho, and the rest came down a day later from Nebraska. Our ages ranged from 5 months to 80 years old!! 6 of us have been to WDW numerous times, but it was the first vacation ever (or in a very long time) for the rest!

Magical Express from the airport was wonderful, as always. We grabbed our own bags this time because we got in late and didn't want to wait for all of our things...it worked out perfectly. Our bags we already waiting for us when we arrived at baggage claim, then we walked straight to the ME counter and immediately got on a bus! Last time we had ME deliver our bags, but whoever brought them to our room at the hotel literally just threw them into a pile, so that wasn't quite what we expected from Disney, but this time we didn't even have to worry about it.

We had a wonderful stay at POR- our preferred resort. We love being on the water and being able to take the relaxing boat rides to DTD in the evenings, and the POR atmosphere is just so pleasant. We had to check-in at 2:30 am there (although only 12:30 our time) but it was still so quick, easy, and exciting! The only disappointment was being in building 17, on the second floor. We had a large group- two elderly people and lots of kids...it got difficult being so far away from the main building and bus stops, but we managed. However, being on a second floor with 3 strollers was a pain in the rear...had we not had 4 rooms together and discovered it once we were already there at 3 am, we might have asked to have them changed. We chose not to have our room cleaned (my decision, based on the viruses down there and cross contamination LOL), but we interacted with our mousekeeper daily and she was SO sweet! She even ran the entire marathon over the weekend, so it was neat to talk to her about that! Restaurants were great...I think the food court was different than it was the last time we were there (1/07) and we really liked it. There were quite a few more options.

Being there over Marathon Weekend wasn't so bad. We weren't there on Saturday though (KSC), but on Sunday we went to EPCOT and it was busier, but not terrible. Weather was wonderful the entire time, despite a couple chilly nights and a day of rain. But when you're coming from the NW and an inversion to boot, anything FL has to offer is fantastic.

We were able to do a Grand Gathering Safari Celebration dinner, although only 8 of us actually made it to the Safari (that's the trouble with traveling with a large group, I guess...one sick kid, so that takes an adult out as well, and the rest were just late). It was fun though...we usually skip the safari (and AK altogether) just because of the wait, but this time we had an entire truck all to ourselves! And dinner was pretty good, too. Not my favorite, especially buffet style under the circumstances (one of the very things I was determined to avoid considering the nasty viruses running rampant down there!), but it was still fun.

We weren't able to do our Blizzard Beach day because we really didn't have time (note to self- next time we travel with a large group, plan at least 2 days more than we would have otherwise!!!). We also didn't make any ADR's because we don't like to have to work around reservations (good thing we didn't!!!), but we did get to eat at my absolute favorite restaurant ever, Raglan Road...and this time Tuskar Rock actually had their CD available for purchase so I snagged one!! And Cosmic Ray's (my fav. QS restaurant!) was a hit with my grandma.

The major disappointment for me, personally, was having Splash Mountain closed. BOO! It opened the day we left, so there was no Zip-a-dee-doo-da'ing for me. Oh well, incentive to go back soon, right? I'd say the only real negative experience we had this trip though was our dining mishap at Chefs de France in Epcot. We had several parties, and each of us had what seemed like boatloads of meals on our cards (more than we needed), but because of how our group was divided up, we almost always had 2-3 different cards to run for each meal. Well, when the waiter ran my grandparents and aunts cards, he told them they had no TS meals left (VERY far from true!). So he had gone and charged my grandparents meals (~$75) to their gift card that she'd given him to take the tip from (her mistake!). He THEN got the meals to run through on their cards, but her $75 was gone and it took her 2 days of dealing with it to get it back! Not to mention, he wasn't very friendly about it. So that was just frustrating, but a small issue in the grand scheme of things!

Speaking of the dining plan, we weren't too thrilled with it this time around. Still definitely worth it, but last time we had more snacks, more with our meals (appetizers...not necessary, since it's already SO much food, but it was a nice perk), tips included, and the snack options were SO much better.

However, Disney worked it's magic in even the smallest little ways, especially on our last night. I had purchased my daughter a Minnie Mouse dressed as Tinkerbell and after dinner we went back to the same store...and she lost her. We didn't realize it until morning, but since she was brand new I'm sure that someone just put her back on a shelf or something (sans tags, obviously). I went back to the store with my reciept and explained my situation...the man helping me was less than thrilled to assist me, but he called the manager down. He led us over to the shelf where Minnie was, took one and asked my daughter, "Did you lose this?", smiled, took the tags off, and handed her another one. Very nice.

Well, that's all that comes to mind at the moment. Any questions, just ask!
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:15 PM   #2
avick10
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 13

sounds like you had a nice time.........I'm soo ready to go at the end of March. My group will be much smaller.....me, my son and fiance. Thanks for sharing!!!
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