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Old 01-15-2010, 09:01 AM   #1
Mr_Potts
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Trip Report from BLT/Treehouse Split Stay 12/26 to 1/3

Just a few impressions from our recent trip.

BLT first. This was our first trip to our BLT home, and we left RI at 7:40 a.m. We had a standard view 2 bedroom for five nights (12/26 to 12/31). Our villa was ready when we arrived at the Contemporary around 1:00 p.m. (We had gotten off Magical Express at the Poly first to have lunch at Kona.) Our villa was on the second floor, center, just around the corner from the north elevator. We had a great view of the pool, the oasis area, and could even see a little bit of Bay Lake. The only complaint about this particular location is that the fountain was very noisy when we had the doors to the balconies open and there was a smoking area in the courtyard beneath us. Fortunately we never smelled any smoke though. We were very impressed with the cleanliness of the villa, and the privacy of the bedrooms. Dear Mother was especially impressed by the separate laundry room in this villa, with a sold door to keep out noise.

This was our first time trying Garden Grocer. Our grocery delivery, as well as our luggage from Magical Express, arrived shortly after we checked in. It was great not having to run out to the store first thing for our water, milk, etc. Instead we went downstairs to check out our names on the fountain. Our placque is very close to former Disney chief Dick Nunis and DVC's own Jim Lewis. We didn't have too much time to relax that first day because we had reservations at Kouzzina for dinner and had to make our way over to Boardwalk via Epcot. Walking through Epcot was our first indication of how crowded the parks were at this time of year. A nice man on his way out handed us three fastpasses for Test Track. Dear Nephew, Stepfather and I decided to do it. But even with fastpasses we waited in line for over a half hour. We barely made it to the restaurant in time. The food and service were wonderful. DM and I each had the spanakopita appetizer (with delicious olives on the side) and chicken with stewed tomatoes as our entrees. There were so many subtle spices in the tomato sauce, with a strong note of cinnamon. We took the waiter's advice and shared the baklava for dessert. It was huge and the best I have ever had. While DM, DSF and I had dinner at Cat Cora's place, DN had gone to his favorite, Beaches and Cream, for a burger and shake.

We took a bus from Boardwalk to Magic Kingdom and then did the easy walk back to BLT. Soon it was time to visit the Top of the World Lounge for the first time and see the fireworks! Despite the scary and unnecessary Fort Knox procedures for getting up to BLT, when we arrived we found a mellow, wonderful and extremely underutilized place. This was our first time meeting Dan, who would become a friend by the end of our stay. I took my Irish Coffee out to the viewing platform when Holiday Wishes started while the others stayed inside at our table. The view is definitely better from outside.

It took me so long to describe the first day that I will have to describe the rest of the trip in later installments. And I have gone a whole day without mentioning the bathroom sliding doors!
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:14 AM   #2
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:44 AM   #3
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Looking forward to reading more about your trip! We'll be doing our first DVC split stay in September 2010 (BLT to Kidani) and I'm interested in hearing your experiences with moving your belongings from one resort to the other. Did you rely on Bell Services? Did you check in early at THV? Also, how far in advance did you have to book in order to get a THV? We don't own at SSR, and it looks like THVs are hard to get for non-SSR members.
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Old 01-15-2010, 10:21 AM   #4
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Awesome start!!
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Old 01-15-2010, 11:16 AM   #5
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Trip Report Continued

I closed the first part of this trip report by mentioning BLT’s sliding bathroom door with the infamous gap. It certainly was detectible, especially in the third bathroom by the entryway. But since there were only 4 of us in a 2 bedroom privacy really was not an issue. We had maintenance in the villa three times, however, for other issues: a missing TV remote, some wobbly closet door handles and a clogged shower drain in the third bathroom. Day 2 dawned cloudy and drizzly. We made a quick visit to Magic Kingdom to see the Christmas Parade but because of the weather decided it would be a good day to go to Downtown Disney to see Avatar in 3D. After the movie we went to Wolfgang Puck’s Café across from the movie theater for some of his famous pizzas. Later that night we returned to the TOTWL for hot chocolates and Holiday Wishes. I really hope BLT always has this benefit, although I can easily see opening it up to everyone staying at BLT, not just members staying on points.
Day 3 commenced with breakfast at the Wave. I loved the Eggs Benedict and would highly recommend the side of pork they offer, which is like a mini pork chop. Then it was off to the Epcot World Showcase. First stop there was the new tequilla bar in Mexico. We ordered a tequilla sampling, and our hostess Nancy did a great job in describing the aging process, even showing us a scorpion in the bottom of one bottle. This was another Disney first: doing tequilla shots as a family! One nice thing we discovered that day was that our annual passes gave us a 20% discount in all the Epcot country retail shops and, in fact, at almost every store in WDW. On Day 4, DN and I went to Animal Kingdom, while DM and DSF visited the monorail resorts and DM had her hair done by Carmen at the Grand Floridian. We met up for dinner at Artist Point, where the portobello soup, cedar plank salmon and berry cobbler worked their usual magic. Day 5 we had two guests arriving to spend a couple of days. It was our first and only sunny and hot day and we enjoyed it by sitting by the pool and renting a big boat for an hour of cruising along Bay Lake and the lagoon. We took our guests up to the TOTWL for a light dinner of flatbreads and crab nachos. We had the place entirely to ourselves. Then it was time to watch G-Force under the stars and to kill some time until 11:50 p.m. when the New Year's Eve Fantasy in the Sky fireworks went off a night early. These were spectacular seen from the roof of BLT. DN and I then went to Magic Kingdom for midnight to 3:00 a.m. extra magic hours. We got right on Pirates, Splash and Haunted Mansion, but had to wait an hour to ride Space Mountain. It was a blast.
And now what you’ve all been waiting for. Our move to the THV. Was it awful to have to pack up and move mid-stay? What did we do with our refrigerated things? The answer is that it was a bit stressful to have to pack up everything, but it couldn’t have been easier to have our bags picked up and transferred over to SSR. We decided to drive the food that needed refrigeration (including a ham our guests had brought for New Year’s Eve dinner) over ourselves to have it placed in cold storage in SSR. Our treehouse was not ready when we made our way over to SSR, so we had lunch at the Turf Club then headed over to Animal Kingdom. A text came in at 2:45 saying that our THV was ready. I actually rode over with a valet to the Treehouses in a cart with our bags. Boy, was it nice to have him to lug all those bags up with the steps. We instantly fell in love with the décor, especially the faucets and granite. The master bedroom looked out over the hot tub and pool and we were very close to both the walkway to SSR and to the boat dock. We loved how many other guests had decorated their treehouses for the holidays. Before long we were baking our ham and getting ready for a quiet New Year’s Even dinner at home around the big treehouse table. At midnight we could see a bit of the fireworks at Epcot and hear the cheering from there.
By the way, we booked both BLT and the Treehouses at 11 months, and I think this was necessary for such a popular time of year. However, since we were staying at the THV in January this ended up being value season in terms of points for two of the three nights!
We really relaxed at the THV, and found ourselves cutting our park visits short to return there. DN especially loved being able to take the boat over to Downtown Disney to see movies, eat at McDonalds and even smoke a cigar from Sosa’s (he is almost 21). DM loved being able to go over to the spa at Saratoga for a peppermint pedicure. DSF loves the gym at SSR. And I enjoyed my jogs around Downtown Disney. Some other quick highlights were our lunch at Teppan Edo, sundaes instead of dinner one night at Ghirardelli, returning to the Magic Kingdom for Spectromagic and the very last thing we did: riding Characters in Flight, the balloon at Downtown Disney. It was a spectacular place to survey all of Disney’s property and to see it all from on high before saying goodbye.
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Old 01-15-2010, 11:48 AM   #6
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Sounds like a wonderful trip and thanks for the heads up on Mexico's new tequila bar DH & I will have to check it out !

Enjoyed reading how your group visited other locations from resorts you stayed at ( other monorail resorts from BLT, DTD from THV ). We're planning late summer trip for our family of 5 & eldest DD19 will have 2 friends along; have been considering THV but don't know if the girls will find it too remote but it sounds like your DN had an easy time going to/from DTD & the spa would probably be a hit with them. Although I do think they may enjoy the city chic style of BLT & hopping on monorail to visit other resorts. And then of course we always seem to want to return to our OKW home

Did you feel BLT or THV had advantage for traveling to other destinations or for any other reasons ? tia
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:34 PM   #7
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Hi Tia,

I was suprised that it was so easy to get around from the Treehouses. The bus and boat service were both excellent. But I have to say that BLT has a lot more wow factor. Not just the W-hotel quality decor, but also the novelty of playing tennis in the shadow of Space Mountain, having the marina and two pools so close by, being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom, the spectacular views even while waiting for the elevator, all this makes me think BLT has the edge. That said, teens really do love Downtown Disney and you can't beat the access to that from the Treehouses. Good luck with your planning.

David (aka Mr. Potts)

PS Enjoy that Tequilla bar. It is a really cool and intimate space within Mexico, almost like a wine cellar. There's even a nice little food selection.
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:04 PM   #8
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Thanks for the trip report! It sounds like you had a nice laid back vacation. This is the best part about DVC, IMO.

My favorite part of your post was...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Potts View Post
We didn't have too much time to relax that first day because we had reservations at Kouzzina for dinner and had to make our way over to Boardwalk via Epcot. Walking through Epcot was our first indication of how crowded the parks were at this time of year.
LOL! I bet it would make many people who do Disney once in a lifetime cringe if they knew you burned a park admission (even though later we find out you have APs) just to cut through EPCOT! It's like.."meh, we'll get to it later...maybe"

We actually did that to get to SSR from Dolphin on our honeymoon...Good times!

Thanks again for the post, and let us know what were the top 10 things you liked about each resort.

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Old 01-15-2010, 01:42 PM   #9
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Great trip report!

We are doing a split stay. THV/AKV Dec 2010 and we are so excited. I love SSR's proximity to DTD. We love the shopping and dining and we love boating over to DTD. Boat transportation is so disney! I will request a room near the boat dock and walking path to SSR. I just can't wait to have our own Treehouse to ourselves! I have a feeling that every vacation will include the THV's from now on especially because we require a 2 bedroom at SSR. We love the beautiful grounds of SSR. I just love walking around on SSR property.

We stayed at BLT Dec 09 and we really enjoyed it. It was such a busy vacation that I don't feel we really utilized BLT to the fullest but it is a wonderful resort. We were really impressed with the size of the 1 bedrooms and the decor. The rooms are really upscale. The proximity to MK and the monorail resorts is wonderful. We look forward to staying there again at some point in the future and really taking better advantage of what BLT has to offer.
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:03 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:15 PM   #11
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Chris, your post really made me laugh. Never in a million years would I have thought that walking through Epcot to get to Boardwalk would strike some people as sacrilege. I guess we are really spoiled by having spent 27 nights at WDW between last Christmas and this most recent one! Kind of allows us to notice the forest and not just the trees.

Mamaprincess, you will love the THV. It's like having a cabin in Aspen. So different than an SSR 2 bedroom, although I love that too!
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Potts View Post
I was suprised that it was so easy to get around from the Treehouses. The bus and boat service were both excellent. But I have to say that BLT has a lot more wow factor. Not just the W-hotel quality decor, but also the novelty of playing tennis in the shadow of Space Mountain, having the marina and two pools so close by, being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom, the spectacular views even while waiting for the elevator, all this makes me think BLT has the edge. That said, teens really do love Downtown Disney and you can't beat the access to that from the Treehouses. Good luck with your planning.

David (aka Mr. Potts)

PS Enjoy that Tequilla bar. It is a really cool and intimate space within Mexico, almost like a wine cellar. There's even a nice little food selection.

Thanks so much for your reply David. It sounds like we can't go wrong with either choice or maybe we may do a split stay like you for best of both From what you've said about BLT it sounds more like the girl's style ( I'm surely dating myself here using a word like ' style ' )
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:58 AM   #13
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We did a THV/BLT split in Sept (with a couple weekend nights at the GF first). Fun split isn't it?

I love the idea of a quiet NYE in a THV. That's amazing to me that you could hear the Epcot crowd cheering.

Isn't that boat fun and convenient at THV?
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:15 AM   #14
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We love, love, love the tequila bar, and Nancy is an awesome waitress. Francisco can't be beat either. We we excited to see when we were there in December, after our October trip, that they added a margarita sampler to the tequila sampler! The tequila bar is a "do not miss" for us, and we'll stop there on every trip!
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:05 AM   #15
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Great report! I'm thinking of booking BLT for New Years Eve next year, but don't own there. But I will try for it at 7 months out. Sounds like you had an awesome time! We just completed a treehouse vacation from Jan 1-6 and it was like staying in a cabin in the wilderness (we likened it to Muskoka because we are from Ontario) and the weather outside made us think of northern Ontario too
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