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Old 12-24-2009, 01:45 AM   #1
pixleyyy
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To sum it all up - a collection of thoughs from our early Dec. trip

We were at WDW from Dec 2-10. I'm doing a full trip report, which I've just started (link in my signature), but wanted to post a summary of the highs and lows we found on our trip.

If you have any specific questions feel free to ask. We had a magical and fabulous time!

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation was, by far, the most stressful part of our trip. Getting through the security checkpoints at the airport was the most difficult with 5 of us and all of our bags. I'm SOOOOO thankful for a stranger at MCO who showed me that there was a family security line and made room for us to move over to it.

We flew Southwest and I was worried about finding seats together (this wasn't a problem as we checked in at 24 hours and got A boarding passes). Southwest had so many problems though. We were late getting into our first stop, then had a 2 1/2 hour delay once there because they overfueled us. On the way back the plane had a malfunction and at the stop we had to be ushered onto another plane for the remainder of the ride, making this leg 1 1/2 hours late.

MAGICAL EXPRESS:
From the airport to POR was a breeze... right on the bus and on our way. It was very nice.
Our pickup for return to the airport didn't go as well, as there was an accident on the highway and our bus never came (though no one bothered to contact us to tell us). An hour later we finally got a bus after I made it known that we would miss our plane if we didn't leave NOW.

DISNEY TRANSPORTATION:
Having never stayed onsite, I was cautious about the transportation. For the most part it came in a timely manner. If you have an ADR, just make sure you leave your destination well before you think you need to. Buses to Downtown Disney were the worst, running much less often than resort buses.

DISNEY RESORT:
We planned on staying at POR but got bumped to CSR when they oversold the waterview rooms at POR. We LOVED CSR much more than what we saw at POR. We stayed in Casitas Bldg. 4 on the top floor. When 9:30 came around Illuminations would start and we could see the higher fireworks. That was pretty awesome.

We were at bus stop #2, which was the first pick up and drop off spot. This was nice because we always got a seat on the bus in the mornings, no matter how packed it was, and we were always dropped off first in the evenings. The one exception to this is the Downtown Disney bus, which drops off at stop #1 first.

We didn't get any towel creations. Not that I expected any really, but it would have been neat to see. They didn't even do anything neat with the kids stuffies.

The pool here was just ok. The kids liked the waterslide but I thought it was lame. The pool was big and spacious, which was wonderful, and I got some fabulous pictures of the kids on the Mayan ruin at the pool. But it was a LONG walk to both the main building and the pool from our room, which sort of stunk.

MERCHANDISE CREDIT:
We purchased the $1000 merchandise credit and shared it amongst the 5 of us. We also used it for gifts for our family and for Christmas gifts. We used it all and felt like we got a great deal. We got coupons on our receipts good for 20% off your purchase at the big store in each park between 9am-noon. So we'd go shopping and get 20% off our purchase and use the merchandise credit, which we got 30% off on. Made our money go even farther.

We didn't have a problem using it anywhere. We did not use it in Japan nor at the Arribas Brothers store, 2 places we knew we couldn't use it. We were able to use it at the Christmas store in Germany, which I wasn't sure we would be able to do. We also used it at each and every Disney store around. It was fabulous!

THE PARKS:
Everything was clean and nice when we came. The parks were all beautifully decorated. The rides functioned well. As a matter of fact, we didn't have one ride shut down or malfuctioning during our stay. Maybe we were lucky? I don't know.

CROWDS:
We've only gone during very low crowd times, so I was a bit concerned about how they would be, but crowds were pretty fabulous the entire stay! The worst was Epcot on a weekend. So many people coming in for Candlelight Processional I guess. The line for Soarin' was 90 minutes this day! We also went to DHS on a weekend and the crowds were pretty thick. Osborne Lights were busy right up until closing. Other than that we did everything with minimal waits. We did rope drop most every day and EMH twice during our stay. That, careful planning and utilization of fastpass made all the difference. The longest we waited was 25 minutes for Soarin - and this was with a fastpass!!! Most rides were under 20 minutes. It was fabulous and I'd highly recommend early December for a trip.

THE ATTRACTIONS:
TSM was good and the kids really enjoyed it, but I would NEVER wait in that horrendous line for it. The stand-by was 90 minutes at times! Thank goodness for smart use of fastpass!

RnR was fabulous and one of our fave rides, yet again. We rode is about half dozen times this trip.

The new Space is okay. Less jerky for sure. DH thinks the left side is better, though they don't have it open as much (or didn't while we were there).

Wish it would have rained less (it rained 1 1/2" the only day we went to AK) so we could ride Everest again. Riding a rollercoaster in the rain hurts, so we passed on the rainy ride. Thank goodness we rode it before the rain hit.

The animation thing in DHS, where you learn to draw with an animator, was one of our absolute faves this whole trip. It was so fun! I wish they had a list of when they were doing what character, as we came twice this trip and drew Mickey and Sorcerer Mickey. We would have loved some variety.

The kids loved the Sum of All Thrills. I didn't ride because simulators make me ill, but the kids really, really enjoyed it.

Finding Nemo and FOTLK at AK are some of the best shows ever. We loved them!!!

Journey Into Imagination was closed last trip so my kids had never ridden it. It was my fave as a kid and it made my heart so happy to see my kids singing "One little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation..." They loved this ride! DH thought it was horrible but my kids all have huge imaginations and loved the whole thing.

The castle lighting was awesome! We all loved it!

DINING PLAN:
First time onsite and first time on the dining plan. We LOVED it! Just the right amount of food for us. We're not big breakfast eaters so ate cereal in the room before leaving and then had lunch and dinner at the parks. This worked well for us. One morning we did use our snack credits to choose something in the bakery section of Sunshine Seasons and to get some OJ's to share. We also munched ice cream and frozen lemonades on our snack credits and had plenty left over for a last stop at Goofy's Candy Company before leaving. Dessert every meal was a bit much but we just passed on it at times. I was surprised when I looked at the receipts and realized how much we would have spent out of pocket without the dining plan. We're pretty budget conscious so wouldn't have eaten at most of these places if not for the dining plan. It was soooooo nice!

RESTAURANTS:
The Plaza in Magic Kingdom has pretty good food and the desserts are the best we had the whole trip. The brownie sundae makes me drool each time I think about it. YUM!

Le Cellier was, as expected, FABULOUS. I had the filet mignon and had them substitute cream cheese mashed potatoes to go with it. It was sooooooo good. The best meal the whole trip. The desserts here were our least favorite but the steaks were awesome!

Chef Mickey food was just OK but a buffet was a nice change from the rest of our trip. Lots of choices for the kids, who are picky eaters. That and the Akershus Princess breakfast were the only buffets we did the trip.

Speaking of the princess breakfast, that was the most overpriced meal of the trip! Seriously! The bill was horrendous and I was happy we didn't have to pay it. The food was just ok. The family style eggs, bacon and sausage were not cooked to our liking at all. The breads and fruit at the buffet were ok, but they had little selection. But to see my daughters face light up each time she saw a princess made it all worthwhile. BTW, since when does Mary Poppins count as a princess?

Sci-Fi had great ambience and the best waiter our whole trip. Food was only ok (though DH LOVED his ribs) but it was relaxing and nice for the kids to have something to watch while waiting for food.

The best meal of our trip, as designated by DH (my fave was Le Cellier) was Planet Hollywood! It was incredibly loud and that was really not enjoyable to me, but DH loved his ribs and the kids like the food and all the paraphenilia.

Pepper Market (at the CSR). Really? I am required to pay 10% tip for someone to bring me drinks? Can't you just put up a soda fountain? I think it's ridiculous for a counter service restaurant to have a server just to fill up your drinks and then require a tip. Our server was never around and I really wouldn't have tipped him at all if not for how it was written in the menu. Sheesh! Food was ok for most of our group, though my burger was icky and rewarmed. YUCK!

GOING DURING POP WARNER:
Seriously, this was so not an issue at all. There were very few times that we actually saw the groups in the parks most days and they weren't obnoxious or rude at all. In fact, the worst were the half-dozen tour groups in Magic Kingdom our last day. They were rude and pushy. Way worse than the groups of cheerleaders or football players.

GOING DURING CHRISTMAS:
I loved all the Christmas decorations and the music playing. I think it's a bit of a crock that I couldn't see the Christmas parade or fireworks because they have the party that you have to spend so much to go to. We did not do MVMCP so missed out on some of the holiday fun. But I just couldn't justify the cost.

PHOTOPASS:
Seriously? I had to hunt them down and even then I didn't get great photos. Of the 101 I had taken (maybe 40 poses in all, since they take 2-3 each pose) only 10 were good enough photos that I'll actually use them. I often took better photos with my own camera! But I paid for the Photopass because that way I'm actually IN some photos.

I can't think of anything else right now but like I said, ask if you have a question or something you want my opinion on.

Last edited by pixleyyy; 12-24-2009 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 12-24-2009, 05:36 AM   #2
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On the Photopass people - I asked becaue i had the same complaint. I was told that they reduced the number of them in the parks since the last time I was there in 2006. I felt slightly bamboozled too as I prepaid for the photopass cd. How many pictures in front of the castle do you really need? That was the only place I ever found any of them if you were not doing character meet and greets.
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Old 12-24-2009, 08:53 AM   #3
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It's nice to see someone say something nice about Planet Hollywood. That one seems to almost always get slammed.

Thanks for posting your thoughts.
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:42 AM   #4
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Nice recap of your vacation. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the holidays!
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:03 PM   #5
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Sounds like a super trip Thanks for posting so much information
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:29 PM   #6
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Can you expand a bit on the "new" Space Mountain ride? It is our favorite as a family and since it was closed last trip we are REALLY looking forward to it this time around
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dzneelvr View Post
Can you expand a bit on the "new" Space Mountain ride? It is our favorite as a family and since it was closed last trip we are REALLY looking forward to it this time around
The standby line has some really fun games you can play if you have to wait in the long line, though we never did this trip (gotta love fastpass!). It really doesn't look any different anywhere, though it does seem darker inside the ride (I used to be able to see some of the track during the ride but not anymore) so it's more of a surprise when it turns a corner or falls. Like I said, it's smoother too. And if you haven't had a chance, try to ride the left side. Maybe we're wrong, but we all liked it better.
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Old 12-24-2009, 01:39 PM   #8
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Regarding Pepper market. I thought the 10% was included in your bill and therfor covered with the DDP. Did you have to leave an actual cash tip?
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Old 12-24-2009, 01:47 PM   #9
pixleyyy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyfantotheend View Post
Regarding Pepper market. I thought the 10% was included in your bill and therfor covered with the DDP. Did you have to leave an actual cash tip?
The server was very certain to point out that a required 10% tip was NOT included with the Dining Plan. We did have to leave a cash tip here.
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Old 12-24-2009, 01:54 PM   #10
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Wow, I am glad I read this then. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:15 PM   #11
pixleyyy
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Forgot to add my thoughts about the crowds.
CROWDS:
We've only gone during very low crowd times, so I was a bit concerned about how they would be, but crowds were pretty fabulous the entire stay! The worst was Epcot on a weekend. So many people coming in for Candlelight Processional I guess. The line for Soarin' was 90 minutes this day! We also went to DHS on a weekend and the crowds were pretty thick. Osborne Lights were busy right up until closing. Other than that we did everything with minimal waits. We did rope drop most every day and EMH twice during our stay. That, careful planning and utilization of fastpass made all the difference. The longest we waited was 25 minutes for Soarin - and this was with a fastpass!!! Most rides were under 20 minutes. It was fabulous and I'd highly recommend early December for a trip.
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pixleyyy View Post
The server was very certain to point out that a required 10% tip was NOT included with the Dining Plan. We did have to leave a cash tip here.
good thing the server didnt have me. i would have left them nothing for that comment!
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:50 PM   #13
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Intersting about Sci-Fi. I had never eaten there, and had read some pretty horrible reviews, but it was to only reservation I could get on my first night. Turned out I had one of the best Reuban sandwiches I've ever had! I even took the leftover home, which I rarely bother to do. That one gets a thumbs up from me!
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:41 PM   #14
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Thanks for posting your thoughts about your trip---very, very interresting, especially since I am considering a trip in that time frame next year.
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