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Old 04-13-2009, 09:09 PM   #1
bluehouse
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Journey to the Center...

Sing to me, O Mickey the Muse, of the many twists and turns our family took on its most recent trip to Walt Disney World. Sing of the triumphs, tribulations, interminable lines and wild rides. Sing of victory and defeat, of wake-up calls that came earlier than the busiest workday back home, and of beautiful evenings in paradise...

I admit I tend to get a little Homeric sometimes. I'll try not to make a habit of it. Yesterday I returned from my 10th (or was it 12th?) trip to WDW. I've never done a full trip report, but this is my attempt to polish up my writing and maybe make the Magic last a bit longer.

I've titled this trip "Journey to the Center" because that was kind of our theme this year. For one thing, all vacations to Disney World are as much about the journey as they are the destination, the experiences while travelling through the World as much as my final score in my 20th time on Buzz Lightyear. Secondly, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" was one of the movies we downloaded to my son's iPod, a device that came in very handy while waiting for lines to move and for shows to begin. Additionally, "the Center" is a phrase I remember from the movie "Mulan'' and signifies the perfect mix of busy activity and peaceful relaxation; between get-up-and-go and stop-and-rest; between the work and play that goes into most trips of this nature. Most importantly, "the Center" represents my quest to achieve balance between the two fundamental forces of any Disney vacation: the desire to squeeze as many activities/rides/shows/snacks/attractions into the day as possible (thus justifying the enormous investment in airfare, park tickets, meal plans, etc.) AND the need to ditch the touring plan and do nothing (after all, it's supposed to be vacation!).

Can this balance possibly be achieved? I would have thought that after a dozen or so vacations in WDW, I'd have solved this puzzle. Yet it remains a formidable challenge, and each trip to Orlando an epic quest worthy of Odysseus himself. (Homeric again. Sorry.)

So, I'm writing this trip report to offer experience and perhaps wisdom to those considering a similar journey, as well as to give myself a chance to reflect on what will probably be our last WDW vacation for several years.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:55 PM   #2
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Achieving that perfect WDW vacation balance. Has anyone achieved this? I know I haven't! I can't wait to see how you did!
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Old 04-14-2009, 09:27 AM   #3
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http://www.disboards.com/showthread....6#post51642226


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Old 04-14-2009, 09:27 PM   #4
bluehouse
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Cast of Characters:

Me -- Jim. My first trip to Disney World was in 1983, shortly after EPCOT Center opened. I just did the math, and this was officially my 12th time there.

DW -- Ann. This was our 10th time to WDW together, the first time being our honeymoon in 1993. Most times we stayed at Old Key West, although last year we splurged and stayed at the Polynesian. This year would be another adventure: first time staying at Coronado Springs.

DS -- Ben, age 8. This was his 8th trip to WDW.

DD -- Hannah, age 6. Her 7th trip.

We left on Sunday, April 4, already facing a bit of a puzzle. As alumni of Michigan State, we were thrilled that the Spartans had made the NCAA Basketball Championship. However, tipoff was scheduled for precisely the same time we were to watch Illuminations on Monday. We tossed around many possible ideas: skipping the game altogether, leaving Epcot early to watch the entire thing, leaving right after Illuminations to catch the second half. It was a nice problem to have, but still a unique challenge.

The flight (Detroit to Orlando is a little more than two hours) was made easier by our decision to download some movies and TV shows to the kids' iPods. That kept them occupied while I got to do something I rarely am able to enjoy: two hours of uninterrupted reading. For a high school English teacher, this rare opportunity for pleasure reading is paradise itself. The flight was otherwise uneventful, but we always make sure to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of our arrival: the monoral ride from our gate to the main MCO terminal, the first sight of palm trees, the fountains by the rental car park. These are pretty mundane things in the grand scheme of a Disney vacation, but they symbolize the fact that "we've arrived" and help get us even more excited. It's important to stop and soak in these mini-moments and appreciate the fact that it was snowing back home.

Even the drive to WDW from the airport is kind of an annual rite of passage, the familiar landmarks helping to stoke our excitement, culminating in our drive under the "Welcome to Walt Disney World!" sign on the highway. Sure, it's corny, but it's part of the fun. By the time we pulled up to Coronado Springs, it was about 10:30 p.m. -- well past the kids' normal bedtime. However, the adrenaline was rushing and we were excited to see what our new resort had in store for us.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:38 AM   #5
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Been there 4 times in the last 3 years. First trip was chaotic....trying to see everything possible. By the 4th trip we know what to see and when to see it. We just returned and experienced Toy Story at Hollywood Studios. The best feature at the Parks, bar none.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:38 AM   #6
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And we just invested in Disney Vacation Club. Should have done so 4 years ago!
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Old 04-15-2009, 07:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmaach View Post
Been there 4 times in the last 3 years. First trip was chaotic....trying to see everything possible. By the 4th trip we know what to see and when to see it. We just returned and experienced Toy Story at Hollywood Studios. The best feature at the Parks, bar none.
We've gotten closer and closer to that philosophy: picking and choosing the most important things to see instead of trying to cover everything. Alas, while Toy Story Midway Mania was on our list of things to do, we never made it. Certainly next time.
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:25 PM   #8
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:42 PM   #9
bluehouse
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How important are first impressions?
How much time do you truly spend in your hotel room?
Are all Disney resorts created equal?

These are some of the questions we pondered as we checked into Coronado Springs on Sunday night. We'd never been to CSR; we didn't even know what it looked like. And I should say right up front that our lodging for this trip was free. Our in-laws, as members of the Disney Vacation Club, allowed us to use their points during the week of Spring Break, and the only available resort for the entire week was CSR. The gripes I'm about the share are minor, and on the whole our lodging experience was wonderful.

Anyway, being unfamiliar with CSR, I did some research, looked at some maps and decided to put in a request for a room in one of the Cabanas, either building 9A or 9B. For those unfamiliar with the CSR layout, it's a series of smaller buildings around a fairly good-sized lagoon. On one side of the lagoon is the main registration, dining and convention area. On the other side is the main swimming pool. Some buildings are near the restaurants, others are near the pool, others are somwhere in between. We wanted a Cabana that would be comfortably in the middle. I called twice to request such a room, with the understanding that it was simply a request and not a guarantee. So I was a little disappointed when we checked in and got assigned to Casitas Building 5. My first impressions of the place: blah. Yes, it's somewhere in between the restaurants and the pool; but it's clear on the other side of the lagoon and farther away from each than the Cabanas are. Perhaps most importantly (and this is probably a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things, I know) the Casitas just aren't very interesting from a visual standpoint. Their architecture reminded me of a cross between a slightly-more-upscale La Quinta Motor Inn and the old Chi-Chi's restaurant. Yes, it had some nice palm trees and some lovely fountains, but little else of the thematic magic of the rest of the resort.

That thematic magic is one of the things I truly love about staying on Disney property. Disney, I have come to appreciate, is brilliant at creating artificial worlds and immersing you in them so thoroughly, you almost feel like you're there. Everything -- from the fonts on the restaurant menus to the design of the wallpaper to the music piped through that loudspeaker behind that shrub over there -- helps create this world. Sure it's artifice, but it's beautiful and elaborate artifice and I love it. The Casitas just didn't seem to have that for me. We were offered a room in the Cabanas, but it would not be available until Monday night. The idea of unpacking for one night, then packing and moving the very next day, was just not appealing at 11 p.m. We also took a walk around the lagoon to confirm that we still were within tolerable walking distance of our important destinations. And we remembered that we'd be spending much time at various parks and little time (outside of the sleeping) in the room itself. As a result, we settled into Casitas 5 for the week, telling ourselves we'd come to enjoy the yellows, golds and browns of the design, the soaring palm trees and fountain in the courtyard, and the Mexican restaurant chain aesthetic. On the whole, this was a minor glitch. The fact was, we were finally in Disney World as a family and getting ready to unpack for seven nights in our family's favorite place on earth.

Tomorrow we had two things to look forward to: the Spartans in the Finals, and our family in Epcot!
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:59 AM   #10
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I read your comments on Coronado Springs and I hope that you post more. The things that you pointed out are what have kept us from staying at Coronado. From the pics I have seen, it just looks a little blah to us too. Like I said, I hope you'll write more about the resort.

Will you be posting pictures? I sure hope so.
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2014 trip report: Disney dangled the visual weinee and Mickeystoontown gobbled it up! Our two week adventure!
http://www.disboards.com/showthread....6#post51642226


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Old 04-16-2009, 11:51 AM   #11
bluehouse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeystoontown View Post
I read your comments on Coronado Springs and I hope that you post more. The things that you pointed out are what have kept us from staying at Coronado. From the pics I have seen, it just looks a little blah to us too. Like I said, I hope you'll write more about the resort.

Will you be posting pictures? I sure hope so.
I'll try to post pictures, but I need to learn how. I can't seem to find the right instructions on inserting a photo into my post. None of the FAQs seem to help.

Coronado Springs did turn out to be a very good resort, as I will mention in further posts. But our first impressions were somewhat blah.
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:05 PM   #12
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I'm anxious to witness your Odyssey
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:14 PM   #13
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I have stayed on property only 3 times.

1st time Wilderness Lodge (loved it, 1997)
2nd time Coronado Springs (disappointing, 2002)
3rd Time Boardwalk (Bought DVC at this time, 2009)

After staying at the Coronado Springs we didn't stay on Disney property for 7 years! It was Holiday Inn quality, for a lot more than we would have paid for Holiday Inn. What a rip-off
We got a discounted rate, because of world Trade Center promotion for rescue workers.... but spoke with people at the pool who paid $200 per night to stay there. We had just come from the Hard rock Hotel (beautiful!!) where we paid $159 per night.
Shameful that they would charge $200, for a 2 1/2 star hotel , when the Hard Rock, 4 star, was less expensive.

I hope you enjoyed your stay. Our trip was great , but the CSR was too business/convention oriented. To me it did not have that Disney Magic.

I'm sorry I am adding negativity to your report!! But, couldn't help myself... just venting.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:16 PM   #14
bluehouse
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Quote:
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I'm anxious to witness your Odyssey
Thanks. The Odyssey is one of my favorites.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:19 PM   #15
bluehouse
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I hope you enjoyed your stay. Our trip was great , but the CSR was too business/convention oriented. To me it did not have that Disney Magic.
.
We'd heard similar things about the business/convention aspect, but did not notice it to be much of a problem. Maybe because it was Spring Break for nearly every school district in America? Certainly just about every district in Michigan. My kids are in elementary school, and I teach high school; and this was a big SB week.
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