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Old 06-02-2009, 07:29 PM   #1
kimble
Earning My Ears
 
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The Soggy Sisters trip - May 20-27th

Welcome to my trip report everyone !!

Usually I plan, plan and then plan some more when "sculpting" the perfect Disney vacation. However, this time my sister and I decided to take a trip to Orlando with only 19 days notice...ahhh! Here is the cast of characters...

Me: Susan (36). I live with my wonderful boyfriend in Marina del Rey, California. Since I have absolutely no pictures of myself from this trip, here is a picture of Jamie and myself... at California Grill for his birthday on a previous visit.



My sister: Cathy (34). Cathy lives in Austin, TX with her husband and 3-year-old son. Let me tell you, it was really hard for her (and Auntie!) not to take her son to Disney World, but Cathy really needed a vacation. Her husband did a great job being "Mr. Mom" back at home.

I have some pictures of Cathy, but I don't have her permission to put them up here.... yet

Also, Cathy is starting a Disney travel business, so we decided that another trip to Disney was needed. Just to get that special magical feeling back and get reacquainted with the parks and resorts. The best "business trip" you can take

It was also wonderful to plan a trip for just the two of us. We are great travel partners and before Cathy was married and had her son, we took many trips together... all over Europe (Disneyland Paris, of course!), etc. I was really looking forward to the trip.... and we didn't have long to wait!

Pre-trip:

When May rolled around and we decided to go for it, we bought our respective airline tickets. I booked us at All-Star Movies (the only value resort available) and reserved our spots on the Magical Express. Both of us are watching our money, so this was definitely planned to be a budget trip. I used airline miles to get to Orlando (although I had to pay a $50 fee for booking so close to my departure date ), we were staying at a value resort, and no dining plan, no rental car. We decided that we would split most of our meals, to save money and our waistlines. We figured we would never go hungry, and we would be able to try more things. I made several ADRs, and despite the short notice I was able to book some great places. The only restaurants I couldn't get were Le Cellier and Boma. I wasn't surprised, and it turned out ok anyway. Le Cellier is expensive, and you can't split a meal at a buffet

So, May 20th couldn't get here fast enough. Looking at the upcoming forecast for Orlando, I knew to pack my ponchos from my previous visit (SOME people in my family made fun of me for saving my plasic ponchos... but believe me they came in very useful!! And probably saved $10!) Thankfully I packed my tevas and sneakers, and a sweater. Even though it wasn't really cold outside, even in the rain, the air-conditioning on the buses was frigid! I definitely recommend bringing a sweater or light jacket with you to the parks.

Ok, enough with my packing shenanigans! I said good-bye to my dog, Linus



and Jamie took me to LAX. My flight was an easy one (they showed 2 movies... yay!), but didn't actually arrive until about an hour after the scheduled time. Probably due to weather. No matter... I had arrived! I made my way to the internal monorail and then walked very confidently to the A side of the terminal. Wrong. So much for being an expert After taking the time to actually look at my Magical Express information, I went back up the escalator and made my way over to the B side. I was checked in very quickly and made my way to the bus, but unfortunately we waited at least 30 minutes before leaving the airport. So, after another 30 minutes of drive time, I didn't end up at All Star Movies until about 7pm.

DISNEY WORLD (I will actually have photos on this trip report, but I didn't unpack the camera until the next morning)

I had utilized the on-line check-in service for the hotel, so I went to the designated line (there is a separate line for on-line check-in). There was only one couple in front of me, so check-in went very smoothly. I had a preferred room (the only room type they had available when I booked) and I requested something relatively quiet. Now, I don't expect peace and quiet at the All Stars, but the best they could do. I was given a 3rd floor room in the Classic Fantasia building, with a pool view. Sounded fine to me... I am not that picky. That is... until I saw the room

The first impression was a good one. A nice Mickey head towel animal was on the bed closest to the door. But, upon closer inspection, the room just wasn't very clean. I knew that this resort hadn't been renovated, and I was prepared for that, but not subpar housekeeping. There were stains on the comforter, weird brown stains on the phone, etc... I won't go into it, but it just kind of creeped me out. I decided to go to the food court and buy my refillable mug... and wait for my sister's input on the room.

Cathy's flight was also a bit delayed, but she was on the Magical Express by 8:30 or so. I was starving... and I was trying to wait for our 9:30 reservation at Raglan Road, but I decided to just go ahead and eat something while I waited. I only really wanted bread pudding at Raglan Road anyway! So, I ate a personal pepperoni pizza... which tasted much better than it looked... and filled up my mug for the 5th time I love refillable mugs!!

At this point, it was really pouring outside. Kind of a bummer, but I was at Disney, and my sister was on her way, nothing was going to get me down. Then, I checked my cell phone messages.

Ugg. There was a message from my apartment complex telling me that my boyfriend's car was parked in the wrong spot and they were going to tow within the hour. This message was left while I was in the air, so I didn't have much hope for his car. I called Jamie and he checked the garage... no car. Turned out he had parked in a spot two spots down from his assigned place... he had been confused because someone has parked illegally in HIS spot. A big mess. It was upsetting because they only called my cell, not his... or our apartment... or just knocked on our door (Jamie works from home). However, it was his mistake, so we couldn't really blame them... it just would have been nice.

That crisis dealt with (thankfully the towing place was within walking distance to our apartment... no taxi ride necessary), I turned to the business at hand - Cathy's arrival. I met her at the lobby area and we made our way to the room. She agreed that it was kind of gross, so she called the front desk and nicely asked if we could be assigned a new room. They checked for a minute and said that if we came down to check-in, we could get keys to a different room. I lugged my luggage back down to the lobby, and we were given keys to a 3rd floor room in the Toy Story building. This room faced a wooded area and was nice and quiet. This room was much better. Seemed fresh and clean. We were happy.

Unfortunately, the room change took some time so we decided not to go to Downtown Disney and eat at Raglan Road. Honestly, it was an ambitious plan even if everything had gone smoothly. So, Cathy ordered a meatball sub at the food court and I ordered a chocolate chip cookie/cookie dough ice cream sandwich to share. Yumm. We took this food back to the room and watched the end of the American Idol finale. We are Adam fans, but I like Kris too. We chatted for a while and then got to bed at a decent hour. We had to be ready for our first full day of touring... tomorrow Animal Kingdom!!
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Last edited by kimble; 06-02-2009 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:53 PM   #2
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First Full Day - Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

After a good night's sleep, our wake up call rang at 7am. The disney wake-up call was some music... maybe from High School Musical? I was disappointed because I like to hear Mickey wake me up... even Stitch would have been better

After getting dressed, we packed our individual backpacks for the day (we use the lightweight daypacks sold by Rick Steves. They weigh close to nothing while empty and have been very durable). We packed our ponchos, sunscreen, tickets, sunglasses, keycards and sweaters. Then we made our way to the food court. Cathy had packed a bag of english muffins and I brought some mini bagels from home, to toast for breakfast. So, we each brought a few mini bagels and our refillable mugs down to the food court and I bought a breakfast platter to share while she toasted the bagels and filled up the mugs. The food court was always busy, but we never had trouble finding a good table. They also did a great job keeping the tables clean.

The breakfast platter was very tasty... scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, a biscuit and a mini mickey waffle. But spliting this, along with our mini bagels, was too much food. I wished that they had a platter with just scrambled eggs, not all the extra stuff (I found a way to do this later in the trip).

On to the Animal Kingdom! The bus was quick and got us to the park before the 9am opening. We entered and went to the roped off area inside the park a bit.






After taking a nice long breath and realizing that my disney trip had really started, the pre-opening show began. One family was picked out of the crowd to reveal the tip board.





And Minnie, Goofy and Donald came out to greet everyone.









After Mickey gave us the go-ahead, the rope was dropped and it seemed like everyone was making their way towards Everest. Here is a tip: Keep to your right towards Dinoland and then turn left before the Boneyard. You will pass the Nemo theater and then cross a bridge towards Everest.






We were not the first ones to arrive at the ride, but we were pretty close... and we didn't run. Very few people went the way we did, so I recommend it just to avoid being jostled. Plus, it was fun to look across the waterway to our left and see the huge group of people making their way to the ride on the other side

The line was just forming outside of Expedition Everest when we got there (they hadn't let anyone into the ride yet), so Cathy hurried to get Fastpasses while I saved our spot in line. She got back to me just in time to enter the interior queue. Woo hoo! Everything was going just as planned.

I was feeling happy and carefree until I saw this...





Scary!!

No, I'm just kidding. I think that Expedition Everest is a really fun ride. The really scary attraction is Dinosaur, in my opinion. After riding TriceraTop Spin (no line, but they did seat us with another couple), we went to Dinosaur. Now, I have done this many times, and I still haven't been able to complete it with my eyes open! I think maybe it is the loud sound effects or something, but it terrifies me I will keep trying though... I would like to see it at some point... it probably isn't as bad as what I have in my head! Well, here is the picture from the ride which says it all. I am in the rear corner:





Cathy seems to be having fun!

At this point it is about 9:50 (we are doing great on time), so we decide to go to the 10am Nemo The Musical show. Now, I saw this show on my last vacation and I was disappointed. I actually almost fell asleep during the show. However, I chalked that up to the fact that it had been incredibly hot that day and I was really tired by the time we saw the show. Also, it is on the long side at 45 minutes. So, I really wanted to like it this time. Alas, it was just ok. Some of the songs are good, and the performances are solid... but something is missing for me. It also is just too long.

After this show, we were able to walk over for the 11am performance of The Lion King. Now, this show just stirs my soul I have seen it many times and each time I get chills and *almost* cry. Seeing the little kids in the audience totally loving the show also made me really, really miss my nephew

Next, we went to the Safari to pick up a fastpass and I must have been feeling thirsty because I took this picture:





We were getting hungry, so we made our way back to use our fastpass for Expedition Everest because we didn't want to ride it on a full stomach. We we lucky to get the front seat!! Here is a picture taken from the front row...





Cathy feared for the safety of her camera, so she put it away quickly! I don't know if they run the ride faster in the middle of the day, or if it felt faster because we were in the front... but it was a great ride. More fun than our first ride of the day.

At this point we were ready for some





It was only 12:30pm and we had a reservation at 1pm for Yak & Yeti, but we asked them if they would seat us. The cast members were very nice and said that they could take us early. I was excited about trying a new restaurant (Cathy and I really wanted to go out of our way to try some new places this trip) and I thought this space was really pretty. Not as ornate as I had pictured in my mind, but very cool. We were seated upstairs and we ordered a few drinks. I got the Yak Attack (Mango Daiquiri, Bacardi Light Rum, and Wildberry Flavors) and Cathy ordered a Tiger Beer. It was so nice to sit down in the air-conditioning and have a tasty beverage!





Both drinks we delicious. The Yak Attack was very sweet, and tasted sooooo good. For our food, we shared the Shaoxing Steak and Shrimp and the Fried Wontons for dessert.









Both were very good, especially the wontons

One thing to note is that I asked the waiter if they had a recipe card for the fried wontons and he said that they didn't because they aren't owned by Disney. He also revealed that the wontons came to them frozen... they were not made fresh. So, that was a little disappointing, but they were good nontheless.

Sharing the entree and dessert was plenty of food for the two of us. Ok, maybe I wanted one more wonton

We decided that we didn't want to get wet, so we skipped the Kali River Rapids this trip and went back towards the Safari. This is what I saw along the way:









I had never seen Divine before! I was excited to take a few pictures. Ok, on to the Safari...

To be continued because I have too many pictures....
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:17 PM   #3
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First Full Day cont...

We used our fastpasses for the Safari, but it was still quite a wait to get onto our jeep.

We had seen a lot of the park in the morning, but I noticed some crowds after noon. Our safari was a good one... we saw the lions and the giraffes were very close.





After this ride, we decided that it was time to get out of the park and back to our hotel for a rest. Even without kids, we needed our naps

We loaded our mugs up with soda when we got back to ASMo and set the wake up call for 4pm. After our nap, we rallied and got ready to go our to Hollywood Studios. This night they were open until 10:30pm, and our plan was to tour a bit and then see the second showing of Fantasmic!

On our way out to the bus, we decided that it might be easier to eat dinner at the foodcourt instead of in the park. It wasn't busy, and we didn't know how bad the dinner crowd would be at the Studios. And we could use our drink mugs. So, we split a Double Cheeseburger and fries.





It was fresh and delicious. I found that the food court food didn't look very pretty but always tasted good.

Once at the Studios, we headed over to the American Idol experience for the 6pm show. This attraction was new to us, and as fans of the show, it was a fun experience. Very entertaining.

Next, we met up with a friend of ours who works at the Studios. We walked down Sunset Blvd with him, talking a bit, and then he went back to work. Cathy and I had a very loose plan for this evening so we went on Rock n Rollercoaster as it was right there

I wanted to go over towards the 50s Prime Time Cafe because I had read about a lounge attached to the restaurant, but I had never noticed it before. Along the way we took a few pics








My sister took the picture of the Echo Lake Apts because she used to live near the real Echo Lake in Los Angeles, and never realized that the Studio lake was a replica.

The 50s Prime Time Cafe was very busy with dinner guests, but after scooting inside I looked to the left and saw the lounge. How could I have missed this in the past??!! It was so cute, and I felt like I just stepped into 50's television show... minus the big bar! I was looking for Mary Tyler Moore Although it was crowded, Cathy and I noticed two men getting ready to leave so we were able to get their seats at the bar. We had a very nice bartender and she made us some wonderful drinks.





Cathy's blue drink was a Dad's Electric Lemonade and my purple drink was Grandma's Picnic Punch. We also ordered the Smores for dessert (it looked so good we ate it before remembering to take a picture!). This lounge was just wonderful. Comfortable, nice bartender, full menu from the Prime Time Cafe... with no reservation necessary or guilt over ordering just dessert. Our plan to try out some new places was working out really well so far.

When we were finished here, we walked out to a soggy Studios. The rain had begun, and was really coming down. We put on our ponchos and considered attending the 9pm Fantasmic! instead of the 10:30 show. We didn't want to run the risk of lightning cancelling the late show... and although it was raining, it didn't look like the weather would be violent enough to cancel the first show. It was around 8pm at this point, but when we walked up to the theater we were told that it was standing room only.

Hmmm... another hour standing in the rain. Didn't sound too appealing. So we went on the Tower of Terror which only had a 13 minute wait
Then we decided to try for The Great Movie Ride and THEN maybe stand for the 9pm show. However, The Great Movie Ride actually had a wait... and the show is long enough on its own that we probably wouldn't make Fantasmic! if we went on it.

So, we went back over to the Fantasmic! theater around 8:45pm. When we walked up the ramp we were directed to the right... they had opened up some seating!! We were so lucky to come into the packed theater and have good seats only a few minutes before the show So we sat on the benches, getting drenched, but excited for the show. Then at 9pm there was an announcement....

"Due to weather, Fantasmic has been delayed" Oh no. There was a collective groan from the audience, thousands of people had waited in the rain for an hour probably. Some people left, but we stayed in our seats.

After 10 minutes or so the show went on!! The show was good. Although I don't know if it is worth waiting an hour for. Wishes is by far my favorite evening Disney show... but maybe I am just a sucker for fireworks.

The park closed at 10pm (strange that there was still a 10:30 Fantasmic!), but we thought we could push it and get on The Great Movie Ride for our last ride of the day. We got to the Chinese Theater before closing time, and we were the only ones in line, but it took them awhile to board us because they waited for some more people to arrive. This ride has a fond place in my heart... maybe because I rode it for the first time during the soft opening of the Studios and I was still a high school student in the Boston area dreaming of working in Hollywood.

Anyway, I digress. The ride was just as I remembered it, including the terrible acting by the gangster cast member. Does anyone remember when they also had a cowboy actor? Do they still do that and I have just coincidentally only seen the gangster for years? Hmmm.

Well, we had had a very busy day. We limped back to the bus area to find a HUGE line for the All Star Resorts However, the line actually moved pretty quickly. They had a lot of buses running and we probably got on the 4th bus.

Another diet coke to go from the food court and we were off to bed!

Coming up... Hollywood Studios again (Star Wars Weedends!!), MK and Downtown Disney
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Old 06-04-2009, 06:04 AM   #4
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Kimble,

Enjoying your report, keep it coming!
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Old 06-14-2009, 05:27 PM   #5
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Friday... Hollywood Studios, MK...

I want to apologize for the quality of some of my pictures... I will still include them, but I noticed that there is a pink line at the top of most of the photos. Oh well, time for a new camera. The ones that look good are probably from my sister's camera.

Friday morning we were up early and got ready for another fun day. Today Cathy and I each had one of our english muffins that we brought from home and split a cheese omelet platter from the food court. The platter was just a plain cheese omelet and a side of potatoes. I thought the omelet was a bit small (for Disney standards), but with the addition of our english muffins it was a good breakfast.

When we arrived at the Hollywood Studios there was already quite a crowd, probably due to the beginning of Star Wars Weekends.





It was really fun to see all of the little kids in costumes. One other surprise was that there were four Stormtroupers standing over the admission gates. They were interacting with the audience and it was very entertaining.





Once the gates were opened, we made our way into the park. Unfortunately, they still had ropes up and we couldn't make our way directly to Toy Story Mania. When the rope dropped, we quickly walked to the ride... and we decided to get right on the ride and planned to get a fastpass afterwards. This was probably a mistake. After riding (which was very fun... I loved the queue area too) the line for fastpasses went all the way down the street past "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream."

We decided to forget the fastpass, and we took a look at some of the Star Wars areas. We didn't want to get any pictures or autographs, but I did want to take a quick look and check out the merchandise. I didn't really see anything I HAD to have, but I bought a cute t-shirt for my boyfriend.

At this point, we saw the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show and then made our way to the American Idol show. We had heard a rumor that winner Kris Allen was going to appear at the 11am show... which turned out to be false. It didn't really matter to us though, as the show was fun to see again.








After the show it was just about time for the 11:45 Star Wars parade. I definitely wanted to see this because I had never been at Disney World during the Star Wars Weekends, so this was new to me. Cathy and I had met up with our Orlando friend and we found a good spot to watch the parade. However, our spot got more and more crowded as it got closer to parade time. Some kids came right up and sat in front of us without asking, which I thought was really rude. I really have no problem with letting kids sit in front of me... but it would be nice if the parents would ask us first. After the kids pushed in front of us (no "excuse me") the parents also squeezed in, looked as us and said ... "oh, you don't mind, I'm sure"

Then the lady next to me started to set up a tripod to videotape the parade. That was ok... until it started to rain. Then she attached an umbrella to the tripod and there was no possible way I would be able to see the parade. Ok. Time to move.

We moved across the street and we were happy to get away from that cursed spot Even in the rain, the parade was fun.




















After the parade, we walked along behind the parade and followed the crowd to an area where the Star Wars actors and characters were going to pose for a group picture. It was really crowded, but I got a good shot or two.








Then we walked around and took some silly pictures as Stormtroupers, etc...but the heavens opened up and so we also spent some time undercover waiting for the downpoar to at least ease up.

We had a late lunch reservation for Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, and our friend wanted to spend more time looking at Star Wars stuff, so we said our goodbyes and Cathy and I went to the bus stop and decided to take the first bus that came... Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian or TTC. We were lucky and the Contemporary came first, and then we were able to walk over to the Magic Kingdom.

I loved entering the Magic Kingdom for the first time this trip...even though the rain was still coming down. Thankfully we had our ponchos!! We went directly to the restaurant and asked to be seated early. It wasn't a problem and we were seated after about 10 minutes. I found it was a good strategy to have a later reservation... the restaurants didn't have a problem fitting us in earlier, but I don't know what their policy is if you are late instead.

We were very happy to have a warm, dry place to have lunch. By now, the weather was just terrible. Buckets of water pouring from the sky... and even leaks coming through the roof of the Liberty Tree Tavern! Cathy and I decided it was definitely a soup day, so we each ordered a bowl of clam chowder.





And then we split the Turkey Dinner. They split the meal in the kitchen and the presentation of each plate was wonderful. Plenty of food. Here is a picture of one of the plates... we forgot to take a picture before we took bites, so this is a bit rearranged...





After seeing pictures on the Food board here, I really, really wanted to order the Toffee Cake, but I was too full

Although it was good, I shouldn't have ordered the soup... and had the dessert instead. Where were my priorities!!?

We had planned on touring the MK, but the weather was so miserable that we decided to go back to the hotel for a nap. Also, since we had missed our Raglan Road dinner the first night, we made a reservation for 9pm and the thought of bread pudding made feel better after missing the toffee cake

To be continued...
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:17 PM   #6
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Hey. We were there the week of May 22-29. We went to the AI finale on May 27 and they said Kris would be there the that Friday. Now if it was David Cook I would have switched parks that Friday I am enjoying your TR. Can't wait to read more.
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:49 PM   #7
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I'm enjoying your trip report. Your photos are great! Looking forward to more!
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