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Old 12-19-2009, 07:18 PM   #1
annnewjerz
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Our (Abbreviated) Christmas Vacation: 12/21 - Chap. 4 - First Park/Rides of the Day

Hi, everyone!

For those of you who were following along on my PTR (linked in my signature)---we're back from our trip! For those of you who may not have followed along, I'd love to have some additional readers so feel free to join in!

Before we start the official report, I'll just sum up the basics here to bring everyone up to speed.

Cast: Me (Ann, 25 year old Disneyholic), DH (Erik, 26 year old that was just looking forward to some time off of work) and DM (Lois, age unspecified who hasn't been on vacation for about 12 years and was looking forward to visiting Disney)

Dates: December 12-18, 2009

Hotel: Boardwalk Villas, first stay in a Deluxe

Dining Plan: Deluxe, with the meals from our first day out of pocket

Special Activities: Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba, Behind the Seeds tour in Epcot and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

If you are interested in reading more specific trip details or would like to see some pictures of your cast, you can check out my PTR here and if you are someone who drools over food porn on the Restaurant boards, here is the link to my Dining Review thread.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1 - Leaving PHL and Arriving at the Boardwalk Villas
Chapter 2 - Checked in at BWV and Anxiously Awaiting Our Room
Chapter 3 - Downtown Disney, La Nouba and Bluezoo Here We Come!
Chapter 4 - First Park and First Rides of the Trip
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:22 PM   #2
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:29 PM   #3
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Welcome home!
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:37 PM   #4
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Welcome home!
Welcome to you both! So glad to see I have some readers before I even got a chance to post my first chapter.
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:49 PM   #5
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Preface to the trip report

I wanted to write a preface to my trip report for anyone who may have been reading my PTR and have certain expectations for my TR.

**Start preface here**

The day before we were scheduled to leave for our trip (December 11th) we got a call from one of Erik's relatives to let him know that his Grandfather only had a few days to live.

Erik and his Grandfather are extremely close. He went into the NAVY after his Grandfather made a career of it and while stationed in Connecticut would go up a few times a month to visit his Grandfather. His Grandfather has had a few heart surgeries and various complications over the past few years and while we knew he wasn't in good shape, we had no idea the extent of the issues since he lives in Massachusetts and all of his family lives in the Philadelphia area.

Erik got home from work on Friday evening and after speaking to various family members and tallying up how much we would lose on the trip if we didn't go at all, we decided that we should go and make the best of it, since there was nothing we could for his Grandfather at this point. I packed our bags and went to sleep with my fingers crossed that he would make a recovery, knowing that it was probable he wouldn't.

Unfortunately, at about 8:30 a.m. on our first full day in Disney, we got the news that Erik's Grandfather had passed away. It wasn't a fantastic way to start the trip, but we made the best of it and started to make alternate plans for our days there. Ultimately, our entire party (Me, DH and DM) all decided to cut the trip short and leave on Thursday morning rather than Friday evening to allow us to head up to Massachusetts to attend services.

Needless to say, we ended up with a shortened trip that had a black cloud over it for a large percentage of the time. We didn't make all of our planned reservations, we lost money and didn't do some of the special events we had planned---but all in all we all came home glad we went and happy that we were able to enjoy ourselves for a few days.

Now that we have this cleared up and everyone understands why there will be some PTR and TR discrepancies---let the TR begin!
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:04 PM   #6
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How very sad for Erik It's a hard decision to make whether you should continue with your plans when something like this happens but I'm sure his grandfather would have wanted him to go anyway. Erik, you and all the family are in our thoughts and prayers Thank you for sharing!

We will wait patiently to hear all about the trip - BWV is my fav home away from home and we will be visiting next November/December.
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:43 PM   #7
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Chapter 1 - Arrival at Boardwalk Villas

Please forgive the lack of pictures in this first post. At such an early hour in the morning, I was less than interested in snapping away.

Arrival day was Saturday, December 12th and we were scheduled to leave Philadelphia International Airport on a 7:00 a.m. flight on AirTran.

As a surprise for Erik, I had booked a car service to pick us up and drive us to the airport. After waking up, packing all last minute odds and ends and saying goodbye to all 8 animals, we heard a knock on the door and walked out to see a nice Cadillac waiting to drive us to the airport. Very sweet.

The ride to the airport was uneventful, which was nice. At 4:30 a.m. there really isn't much to worry about from a traffic standpoint and PHL airport is only 35 minutes away---so it was smooth sailing. We checked our bags at the AirTran counter, found our gate and waited for departure. The flight was on time, nice and smooth and filled with surprisingly quiet children which is just how I like them to be.

We arrived at MCO on time and walked to the Ground Transportation level to find that we were the only ones in like for the Boardwalk bus and there were only 10-15 people total in all of the other lines. This was so much better than the experience we had with the Magical Express in October.

Once we boarded the bus, it was time to take it easy and just enjoy being almost in Disney. We chatted with a nice couple from Flint, Michigan. They were retired and came to Disney every year---my Mom couldn't believe that two people would come down every year for over twenty years without kids.

Soon enough, after a short stop at Port Orleans Riverside, we arrived at the Boardwalk Villas. Changing our first night from POP to BWV was something that I managed to keep a surprise and needless to say, my travel party appreciated the nicer accomodations.

I had used online check-in and our room wasn't ready yet, so we decided to go grab a snack at the Boardwalk Bakery and hang out on the veranda of the hotel in their rockers and try to take a little nap.

At the Boardwalk Bakery, I had the wonderful and much anticipated Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. Oh man, it was just as good as Carrie said it would be. If I haven't mentioned it on the DIS before, I'll mention it now---peanut butter and chocolate is the most perfect combination in the whole world.

The weather was warm, our tummies weren't growling anymore, the Boardwalk was quiet and the chairs on the veranda were comfy and so it was time for a nap.

Coming Up: When will our room be ready? How long will we have to wait for a bus to Downtown Disney? Will Earl of Sandwich still have the Holiday Sandwich for DH?!
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:35 PM   #8
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I'm so sorry. We lost a family member the morning we left for a trip a few years ago. At first we thought about staying home, but we all knew if our aunt were still here she'd laugh at us and call us crazy for staying home in Ohio when we could be in sunny Florida!! We went and had the best time we could, because we knew she would want us to. But it just wasn't exactly the same. I know how you feel. I still look forward to hearing about your trip. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers!
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:59 PM   #9
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Nice start to your TR. Sorry the actual start of your trip was not quite what you had hoped for. I'm also sorry you had to cut the trip short, but at least you got to start at the Boardwalk villas. I am looking forward to staying there someday, so I cant wait to see your pictures.

Looking forward to reading more!
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Old 12-20-2009, 12:01 AM   #10
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I'm so sorry for your loss...it must have made the trip very different than you expected, but it's so good you still went.

In happier news: hooray for your TR!
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:58 AM   #11
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I'm so sorry about your loss. I'm glad you were still able to have fun, though.
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaPolynesian View Post
I'm so sorry. I know how you feel. I still look forward to hearing about your trip. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers!
Thanks so much for stopping in. I agree that going was the best thing to do---there's absolutely no sense in being home, losing thousands of dollars AND being miserable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MEK View Post
Nice start to your TR. Sorry the actual start of your trip was not quite what you had hoped for. I'm also sorry you had to cut the trip short, but at least you got to start at the Boardwalk villas. I am looking forward to staying there someday, so I cant wait to see your pictures.
Welcome! The Boardwalk was amazing. The Villas side, naturally, isn't as nice as the Inn side---that always seems to be the case. BUT, the location and atmosphere on the Boardwalk really can't be beat. We LOVED it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by norybell View Post
I'm so sorry for your loss...it must have made the trip very different than you expected, but it's so good you still went.

In happier news: hooray for your TR!
Yay for TR writing! I have been going through my pictures all weekend trying to prep them for posting, but it'll take a while with all sorts of Holiday stuff going on. Thanks for tagging along!

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I'm so sorry about your loss. I'm glad you were still able to have fun, though.
Welcome and thanks for the thoughts. I know you went on a trip recently (staying at POP, right?)---got a TR started yet? I should probably just turn signatures on and check, but I'm lazy today so if you have one started, give me the link I'd love to follow along!
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:53 PM   #13
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Chapter 2 - Checked in and anxiously awaiting our room

When we last left off, we had checked into the Boardwalk Villas but found that our room was not ready yet. We took a stroll to the Boardwalk Bakery for some snackage and then sat out on their patio in some rockers in an attempt to take a nap.

Shortly after, about an hour and a half after we arrived, we got a text saying our room was ready. Yayyyyy!

For those of you who weren't following my PTR, I should tell you that we booked our first night on cash with a 40% off room-only code. The rest of the trip was booked on points rented from a fellow DISer. We were hoping that since we had the same room category booked for each night we could stay in the room without having to leave the next day and do check-in all over again.

So where were we? Ah yes, our room.

We scooped up our bags from Bell Services and found the elevators to our room, which was located on the Ground Floor. I was secretly hoping for a higher room that was renovated, but I'm not picky so this was fine. Upon entering our hallway I knew that our room wouldn't be rehabbed. I had done extensive research before leaving for this trip and knew that picket fence wallpaper meant old rooms. Again, no big deal, this was fine.

I slid in our room key and started to open the door....

.......slooooooooooooowly.........

Hmmmm, this room doesn't look like what I reserved.....full kitchen, huge bathroom, a bedroom with a door.......

Turns out, it wasn't the room category I reserved. Instead, our trip started out with some pixie dust and we had been upgraded to a one bedroom. The room was fantastic. We were only down one hallway from the elevators, which was nice. The room was in great condition and the view we had of the driveway up to the Boardwalk Villas wasn't anything special in the day, but at night we could just see Illuminations going off over the hotel.

Here are some pictures of the room (please excuse the quality, this day I still wasn't into the whole photography thing)








So far, the trip was off to a great start. Quick ME trip to the hotel? Check. Room ready earlier than 4:00? Check. Free upgrade to a one-bedroom? Check! Check!

Now, it was time to freshen up and relax a bit. While my Mom showered and Erik caught up on some football, I took the opportunity to grab a power nap before we left for our evening in Downtown Disney!
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:27 PM   #14
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Chapter 3 - Downtown Disney here we come!

After we were settled into our room and changed into nicer clothing for our evening in Downtown Disney, we decided it was time to leave. We strolled out to the bus stop and waited for a bus to Downtown....

and waited....

and waited....

seriously Disney, what's up with the bus system these days?! Since we were in no rush, the bus delay wasn't an issue and the ride over was actually quite nice. We got a seat, didn't have to make any additional stops and the ride over was much faster than our ride from Coronado Springs.

When we arrived, we decided that the best thing to do would be grab lunch. Where you may ask? Earl of Sandwich, of course.

In October, when we ate at Earl of Sandwich it was around 12:00 p.m. and the place was PACKED. We waited a long time in line and had to wait for a table to open up. This time around, we showed up around 2:00 p.m. and it was still PACKED. I would be surprised if EOS at any point during the day didn't have a line out the door.

So we waited....

and waited....

and waited....

until finally it was our turn to order! I decided to order my favorite sandwich from October, the Carribbean Jerk Chicken Sandwich.



For those of you who may be thinking that this picture looks similar to a photo from my October TR, that's because it is. I didn't do any food pictures our first day because like I said, I just wasn't feeling the whole photography thing.

Now back to the food. The sandwich was AWESOME, exactly what I was hoping for. The peppers were sweet, the sauce was a little spicy and tangy, the roll was fresh tasting, it was just really fantastic.

Erik ordered the Holiday Sandwich again. According to him, it's the best sandwich he's ever had, so of course he ordered it again.



His assessment was, the sandwich was faaaaaantastic! Just as good as last time and he was quite disappointed that he won't be having another one for who knows how long since there is no Earl of Sandwich in New Jersey.

My Mom, having never been to an Earl of Sandwich, ordered the Caprese which I didn't take a picture of. It was mozzarella cheese, tomato or something---who really knows, but she said it was great and loved the bread it was served on.

With our tummies nice and full, it was time for some shopping. The first stop was Disney's Days of Christmas store. A tradition that we have is to get a Christmas ornament for every trip we take. This year, I wanted to get a personalized ornament and knew that if I was going to get one, I needed to order it today to have it back by the end of our trip. Unfortunately, DH found a reasonably expensive Pluto ornament that he really wanted to get, so no personalized ornament this year. Instead, I hope that a photo of the woman who does the personalizations will suffice.



After we purchased our first souveniers, we went to the Lego store to see if we could find anything good. Naturally, we didn't and it was a complete waste of a walk down there but hey, the weather was nice and at least we got to see some of the sights along the way.



With our shopping done and our showtime for Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba rapidly approaching, we decided it was time to take a walk back to the boat for a nice ride over to the West Side.

While we passed by Rainforest Cafe, I decided to stop and take some pictures of the "wildlife" that was outside.







After a short wait, the boat finally arrived. One of the things I love most about Disney are the boat rides. The busses can be hot, crowded and full of smelly people. The boats are usually relaxing, nice and breezy and only a certain number of people can sit on a boat so you are pretty much guaranteed a seat and a nice rest for your tired tootsies.



The boat ride over to the West Side was uneventful but very nice. We took in the sights we don't usually see since the West Side isn't a place we ever visit and enjoyed looking at Saratoga Springs from across the "river."

When we arrived at the West Side, some real wildlife was waiting to greet us.



After a little photo session, we started our walk over to the theater to get our La Nouba tickets from will-call and see the show.

Unfortunately, no photography at all is allowed during La Nouba (although I understand why)---so I have no photos from this part of the trip. All I can say was that it was our first time seeing a Cirque show and it was AMAZING. My Mom said it was the highlight of the trip for her and it ended up being $90 per person very well spent. Erik even stayed awake for the entire show! That is a huge endorsement for the producers of the show, because if Erik is interested enough to stay awake it's got to be something special.

The show ended and we grabbed a taxi to the Dolphin Hotel for our dinner reservation at Todd English's bluezoo. We had a great dinner there in October and it was on my "must-do" list for this trip. Since this would be the only night we weren't on the dining plan, it was the only night that would fit in our schedule---so off we went!





When we arrived, we were about 10 minutes early for our reservation and got seated immediately. Just like last time, there were a total of maybe two handfuls of diners in the whole restaurant, which was nice but sad at the same time since it's such a great spot to grab some dinner.

In October, Erik and I ordered a variety of appetizers rather than an entree and knew that this time, one appetizer would be eaten rather than a few. That special appetizer is the scallops with short ribs and cauliflower puree.

We actually decided to split Olive's classico flatbread for the table as an appetizer since we were all pretty hungry by now.



The flatbread was crisp, fresh and delicious. I'm very happy we ordered this again, everyone loved it.

For our entree, we all had two appetizers of the scallops---so instead of 2 scallops, we each had 4.



Again, they were awesome and 100% as good as I remembered them being. I was very happy with our selection. The scallops were perfectly seared, the short ribs were tender and flavorful and the cauliflower puree was awesome although I wish there was more on the plate.

At the end of the trip, my Mom settled the check because apparently this was her thank you to us for inviting her on the trip. It was a nice surprise to not have to worry about paying for dinner but more importantly, I was glad to see that my Mom was already having a genuinely good time on the trip and couldn't wait to see what else Walt Disney World had in store for us.

After dinner we took a walk back to our hotel, which is right across the bridge over Crescent Lake. We were all exhausted from being up at 3:30 a.m. and the plan for tomorrow morning was rope drop at Disney's Hollywood Studios, so lots of sleep was a must.

Our first day in Disney was a success and I was feeling better about the trip by the minute. We went to sleep in our separate upgraded bedroom and fell asleep instantly.

Coming Up: Can we keep our current room? Will we make Rope Drop?
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:55 PM   #15
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So sorry to hear about the loss. You might loose some money but you gain a whole lot more respect in return.

Awesome food pictures BTW.
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