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Old 10-08-2009, 08:12 PM   #1
JohnO's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Summerville, SC ( 392 Mi from WDW)
Posts: 466

Cool WDW & DCL trip 9/21/09 - 10/1/09

Walt Disney World & Disney Wonder Cruise ‘Trip Report’ 2009

September 21st, 2009 through October 1st, 2009

Attendees: Me, DW, DD 11yoa, DD’s BFF (11yoa) and DS (17yoa)

Accommodations: All Star Movies, Fantasia Building #5, Disney Wonder, Ocean view Staterooms, deck #2

September 21st, 2009, DW, DD, DDBFF and I left straight from the girls’ school at approximately 1230 EST. DS did not make the drive for work / school reasons and would fly down to join us on the 25th just before the cruise portion of the trip.

We arrived at the ASMovies Resort at approximately 730pm EST, checked into room #5741, which was not as kept up as expected from WDW. We ate dinner in the food court which was mediocre at best. I actually saw a cobb web above the drink station. Unbelievable! The girls and I went for a swim afterwards. In retrospect, I should have raised ‘Holy Heck’ with management about the uncleanliness beneath the beds which looked like they had never been vacuumed despite a card being left in the room explaining that the carpet in the room had just been steam cleaned, but I was too exhausted from the drive. A bulb was also burned out in the bathroom light fixture leaving it pretty dim in the bathroom. This bulb was not changed during our stay.

September 22nd, 2009, It was great to be back in WDW. We woke up early and headed out to MK and the Crystal Palace for Breakfast. The wait for the bus was very long. I counted FIVE AK busses for every MK bus. It seemed ridiculously backward. We finally arrived at MK. Breakfast was fantastic as it always is at the Crystal Palace.

The lines on all the rides were short and we got in most of the things that we wanted to see except SM as it was down for refurb. We had lunch at Pecos Bill which was not as good as I remembered the last time we had it. DW agrees. We were heading toward Mickey’s house when we realized the park was switching over to MNSSHP. It seemed we were the only ones without the MNSSHP wristbands.

We headed out of the park to the Monorail and rode to the Contemporary Resort to make our ADR at The Wave. Once inside the Wave we observed appropriate décor that matched the resort. Our server, Jimmy from Illinois was fantastic. DW, a vegetarian, was having trouble locating a meal to suit her palate. Jimmy promptly went back to the kitchen and summoned Thomas, the Chef. The Chef made a vegetarian adaptation to one of the meals which DW loved. The food and desserts were excellent! Headed back to MK via the Monorail and then on to ASmov.

September 23rd, 2009, we woke up and headed out to AK. We arrived and headed straight for EE. We then got fastpasses for K Safari and went to Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Then we used our fastpasses. Didn’t get to see elephants or lions but the others were visible. We headed to Tusker House for a lunch ADR. The atmosphere at Tusker House was fantastic as well as the food. Neil from Long Island, NY was our server and he was friendly, funny and an excellent server. DW loved the Samosas, cous cous…..well everything. We highly recommend Tusker House.

We then hit Kali River Rapids, Jungle Trek and EE again. We bought the girls dresses they saw in Asia as well as new flip-flops. The girls and I rode Dinosaur and then we all headed to the Festival of the Lion King which was great as always. DW loves the vocals. It was time for the park to close. We boarded the bus to AKL to make our ADR for Boma that night. We had never been to Boma or the AKL for that matter. The AKL grounds did not disappoint. The lobby is incredible. DW and the girls headed down to Boma while I snapped a few photos. I walked down to Boma and was again in aw of the décor. The atmosphere at Boma was fantastic, as was our server, Gilbert (Gilberto) from Puerto Rico. The food was wonderfully amazing and we HIGHLY recommend giving Boma a try. We headed back to ASMovies via Epcot.

September 24th, 2009, we woke up late and headed to DTD. The bus stops at the Marketplace were not in service so we had to get off near PH. We noticed that Planet Hollywood’s refurb was done and it actually looked presentable. We talked about taking the balloon ride but opted for lunch at Earl of Sandwich instead. The food was great. After some shopping we decided to head to MK as Spectro and Wishes would be seen that night, the only showing that week that worked for our schedule since Wishes, Spectro and Fantasmic at DHS are only shown on a limited basis now. Once there our fears were realized, it was quite apparent that EVERYONE else on WDW property planned for MK that day as well for the same reasons.

The park was packed when we arrived and got worse as the evening approached. We hit the highpoints and went to the Crystal Palace for dinner. The food was great. I loved the mashed potatoes and the cornbread was awesome! We left to try and catch Spectromagic. Later we would realize that something sinister had happened while at the Crystal Palace.

We couldn’t find a good spot for Spectro as it was about to begin by the time dinner was over. We did some shopping; I bought a WDW ‘safari/recon’ looking hat that I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years. We headed to Mickey and Minnie’s Houses and then took in Wishes from a tree obstructed spot on a bridge near ‘Story Time with Belle’. The area in front of the Castle was nearly IMPASSABLE as we came to find out earlier after Spectro so we didn’t even attempt to head towards the ‘castle forecourt’.

We decided to wait a good while before heading to the bus which turned out not to make a difference. We waited an hour and 15 minutes to get onto a bus. It was so hot and humid that people were actually getting sick in the line and someone even vomited. This was very poor planning by WDW transportation. Resorts with very small lines at that point were still receiving just as many busses as the values. I guess you get what you pay for. We finally made it to the room at nearly midnight. DW was furious.

September 25th, 2009, we woke up late once again and there girls could not find their lanyards. DD had her room key but DDBFF’s was in her lanyard. They both insisted that they had them when they got back to the room but did not remember where they put them. We had to get a new key for DDBFF at the front desk. We headed to Hollywood Studios. The weather was hot but beautiful. The park was crowded as Fantasmic could only be seen that night for the entire week we were there. We also learned that they’d scheduled a second showing of Fantasmic for that day (8pm & 930pm). I believe it was due to the unexpected size of the crowd that day or week.

Once inside the park we headed straight for the TT. DW opted out, citing back pain. DD and DDBFF were willing to go but DD insisted that we not get the front seating this time. We waited approximately 20 min. and we ended up in row one up front. The ride was great for me, nearly lost my hat, but the girls were both crying when it was all over. We headed to RR for fast passes. We headed to Pixar Place for Toy Story Mania. A 70 min wait was posted and ALL fast passes had been distributed already!! I got into line but DW and the girls complained about the wait and decided to head to the Little Mermaid and Narnia. I didn’t care about the wait after all of the talk about this ride on the forums. The wait ended up being only 50 min. I enjoyed the ride but it was not as good as the talk on the forums claims it to be.

We went to GMR and headed to the Friendship Boat that took us to The Boardwalk. We had an ADR for ‘Kouzzina’ by Cat Cora. We bought some fudge next door at the candy shop while we waited to be seated. The décor was beautiful but the staff was not particularly friendly or enthusiastic. Our server was Onsy from Egypt. The food was good however the girls, who are considered adults on the DDP, couldn’t find anything on the menu that they liked so we asked if they could order off of the children’s menu. This apparently did not sit well with our server, possibly because his tip would be lower (IMHO). When the girls’ food arrived their sides were not with the order. I got the filet mignon which was great. DW was disappointed overall with the experience.

It got worse when we received our bill and were told that we only had 3 table service coupons left instead of 6. We insisted that this was wrong but there was nothing we could do until we spoke to guest services. We had to pay out of pocket for one of the meals. We told our server that we’d pay for one of the kids meals out of pocket which he didn’t do, he charged DW’s meal, the most expensive, to our visa. I suspected at this point that someone may very well have gotten a hold of DDBFF’s Key card, which was missing, and used some of our TS coupons. We remained optimistic that it was probably just a mistake and would work it out with Guest services.

We went to the concierge at the Boardwalk for assistance. At that time we learned via a DDP print out that, 20 mins after we left the Crystal Palace the night before, our DDP was charged for 3 TS coupons again by someone at the Crystal Palace!!! It was clear at that time someone had stolen the girls’ lanyards at the Crystal Palace, most likely while we were at the buffet. We were shocked. Talk about tarnishing the ‘Magic’ of WDW.

We went back to Kouzzina and spoke to Amber, the manager, and explained the situation. Amber credited back our Visa, and charged the bill to our room and explained that the problem would have to be resolved at Guest Services at ASMovies.

Due to the time spent dealing with this mess; we were running late for the first showing of Fantasmic. We were informed by the Friendship boat pilot, that we would not make it in time. To add to the stress of the day, DS called and informed us that his flight was running late and that he was going to miss his connecting flight in Atlanta, GA. DW was distraught to say the least. She decided that she could not deal with the lines for Fantasmic and the bus while worrying about DS. We decided to head back to ASMovies.

We went to Guest services at Movies. After an additional 45 min. the issue was resolved by a rude concierge, who didn’t want to listen to our entire problem before he started to work on it. I wouldn’t say we were quite satisfied with the resolution but were preoccupied, dealing with the Airline. DS, 17yoa, would have to sleep in the Atlanta airport if he could not make his flight from ATL to Orlando. The airline, AirTran, said that he was on ‘standby’ for their last flight of the night from Atlanta to Orlando. At the last minute, we learned from Ozzy, an AirTran employee who had given us his cell phone number, that they were putting DS on the plane to Orlando. I picked DS up from KMCO at 1123pm and drove back to movies.

September 26th, 2009. We woke up and ate cereal bars on the way to Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival. The weather was beautiful but hot. We rode SSE and then decided to eat somewhere. I went and got fast passes for Soarin’. DW decided to eat at ‘Seasons’ in the Land. DS and I went to the ‘Electric Umbrella’. DW was highly displeased with the food at ‘Season’s’ which she described as “Cold, slimy, inedible ‘bleck’” which she threw away. We took in Ellen, TT, MS, The Seas with Nemo & Friends and then Soarin’.

It was time for World Showcase. The atmosphere of the Food & Wine Festival is always great!! DW LOVED all of the food she sampled. DW and the girls went to see AA while I hung out in Germany. I ate at the Cantina in Mexico while the girls rode Maelstrom. We then rode the ride formerly known as ‘El Rio Del Tiempo’ in Mexico which used to be much better. It was nearly time for Illuminations and we grabbed a spot along the rail between Mexico and the gift shop. At that time a torrential downpour ensued. Thankfully I remembered to pack my poncho, the girls were not so lucky. They were drenched and we headed for the exit while a very wet

Illuminations went on without us watching. We took refuge inside MouseGear, where I purchased a faux chrome Mickey head for the rear of DW’s Town & Country Van. We went out and waited a short while for a bus back to AS Movies. DW expressed her desire to skip WDW next year. We packed some of our gear in preparation for check out in the morning.

September 27th, 2009. We packed the rest of our belongings, ate cereal bars, and began our drive to Port Canaveral. After ample toll booths we arrived at the port. Expansion construction in and around the Disney Cruise Line Terminal was underway in preparation for the arrival of the two new ships in the next year or two. The Girls went into the terminal while DS and I handled sorting the bags with the porter. The porter advised us and the people parked behind us that he’d be handling bags from both our parties. I tipped the porter $15 and observed as the other party ‘stiffed’ him. What a shame.

By the time DS and I got back from parking the car, DW called me and told me we were already checked in and they were waiting for us so we could board the ship. We got into the terminal where DW handed me a very sharp looking ‘Castaway Club’ lanyard. We boarded the beautiful Disney Wonder for our four night cruise at about noon and ate at Parrot Cay. It was awesome to be back aboard the Disney Wonder. The décor of this ship is magnificent. Our staterooms were upgraded to Ocean view staterooms from cat 11 GTY. We were assigned staterooms 2026 and 2024. They were clean and very large! The girls shared 2026 and DS and I shared 2024.

We attended the ‘Sail Away Party’ and the ‘Golden Mickey’s’ show at the Walt Disney Theater which was excellent. We went shopping at Treasure Ketch and Mickey’s Mates. We got a men’s DCL leather watch for 10 bucks since we spent more than $20.00 and a DCL throw for $20.00 since we spent more than $40.00. That night we had dinner at The Animators Palate. The food was great. Our servers, Ralph from Jamaica and Willie from South Africa, were outstanding! Ralph looked out for DW, a vegetarian, by bringing different selections for her to try.

September 28th, 2009. We woke up at about 730am as we were nearing Nassau, Bahamas. We ate breakfast at Parrot Cay and disembarked the ship. None of the ATM’s near the port had US Dollars and I didn’t have any cash. I withdrew $60 worth of Bahamian money and we headed towards the straw market. The girls all got purses and DS got a couple of trinkets for his girlfriend. We couldn’t afford much in the way of shore excursions so we headed back to the ship early.

We would have liked to have gone to Atlantis but it is just so expensive. DW and I headed for the hot tub and relaxed for the afternoon. The girls went to the family pool. We attended ‘Toy Story the Musical’ which was great. We dropped the girls off at Parrot Cay for dinner and DW and I headed up to Palo. We had to dress formal which included a Mickey Mouse tie for me. Our server was Michael from the Philippines who was absolutely excellent. The food was great; I had the margherita pizza for an appetizer and beef tenderloin “Palo” which was fantastic. DW had the grilled portabella mushroom w/ polenta which she loved. She didn’t care for the pumpkin and broccoli gnocchi.

September 29th, 2009. We slept in as we arrived at Castaway Cay. It was raining and we were not in a hurry to leave the ship. We had breakfast and headed out onto the island. We found a great spot with a hammock after renting a four seat paddle boat. The girls grabbed some inner tubes and headed out into the water. DS vanished as soon as he got off the ship. He pretty much did his own thing the entire cruise with the other teens. After some time in the water and hanging out on the beach I headed to the bike rentals. I rented a beach cruiser and rode around for a couple of hours, had lunch at cookies. By the time I returned to the beach, the girls were gone. I bought a Castaway Cay hat on sale for $9.99 and headed back to the ship as well.

DW and I watched Disney’s Earth which was good. I headed up to deck 10 after the movie to watch as we pulled away from Castaway Cay. I also watched the sunset that evening. That night I hung out in the Cadillac lounge and listened to some great Elton John and Billy Joel covers by the piano man. After the live music ended I went over to Wave Bands and watched the Karaoke. There were some exceptional singers on board!

September 30th, 2009. We woke up late and enjoyed the day at sea. We watched Up in 3-D at the Buena Vista Theater and also went to Studio Sea where DW and DDBFF did karaoke. They sang “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. DW and I hung out on deck four in the deck chairs and listened to the ocean go by. We were enjoying ourselves thoroughly, so much so that I went inside and booked a 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise for October 2010!! I received a 10% discount, $200 onboard credit for the next cruise and only had to make 50% of the normal deposit. That night we watched the Disney Dreams show. It is an amazing show. We had dinner at Triton’s. Unfortunately we had to pack up that night and leave our bags out to be taken below decks. The ship’s crew was busy placing wood down on the decks. I learned that the ship was heading to Freeport, Bahamas the next day after we disembarked for a 3 week dry dock overhaul.

October 1st, 2009. We arrived at Port Canaveral at approximately 430am. Cargo containers were loaded onto the port side of deck 10 with cranes. The ship then turned around and docked on the starboard side. We ate breakfast at Triton’s, said goodbye to Ralph and Willie and headed off the ship. We loaded up the car and headed back to Summerville, SC. The ride home took about 7 hours. During the trip we drove a total of 900.5 miles, got 25.6 mpg and spent more than 16 hours in the car.

In conclusion we had a great trip. DW had fun choosing new restaurants for us to try in WDW and we got to experience many new things while we were there. We love to go to WDW in the off season to avoid big crowds as well as take advantage of the “value” season price range as we are a middle class family. I would say that WDW’s new practice of only showing the ‘night time spectaculars’ about once a week causes major problems. On all the nights of the shows whether it be Wishes, Fantasmic or Illuminations, the parks were crowded way beyond what we’re used to. The bus system hasn’t gotten any better, at least not for the values. I think we may be done with the value resorts. Unfortunately for us that means fewer trips to WDW due to cost. We won’t be going back for 2010. The cruise portion of the trip was amazing. We did a 3 day cruise onboard the Wonder in 2008 and we loved it as well but found it to be way too short. The extra day a sea this year made a big difference. DW and I love the days at sea. We’re really looking forward to our 7 night Disney cruise next year. We would be glad to answer any questions you may have about our trip.
WDW & DCL Sept. 09 Trip Report
1977 - Disneyland, 1989 - Disneyland, 1994 - WDW All Star Sports, 1995 - WDW Old Key West, 1998 - WDW Holiday Inn Maingate, 1999 - WDW Off Property, 2006 - WDW All Star Movies 2/8 -2/16, 2007 - WDW Pop Century 2/4 - 2/14, 2007- WDW All Star Music 9/11 - 9/17, 2008 - WDW All Star Movies 10/27 - 10/30, 2008 - DCL Disney Wonder 10/20 - 11/2, 2009 - WDW All Star Movies 9/21 - 9/27, 2009 - DCL Disney Wonder 9/27 - 10/1, 2010- WDW Off Prop 4/23 - 4/25, 2010 7nt Estrn Cruise Disney Magic10/23 - 10/30, WDW CSR 10/30 - 11/2, 2012- WDW POR 1/8 - 1/15

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