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Old 08-26-2010, 02:40 AM   #1
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Carl and Company's 2010 Journey to the World of the Mouse

Upcoming Trip Report of our wonderful journey from 08/14 to 08/20. Before elaborating too much, I am going to start by cutting and pasting the restaurant review in each day, and then I'll recap our day from there.

Posted this in a thread, so thought I would add it here for posterity and future editing included in this trip report.


We tried a few things on our recent trip to conserve cash. Some worked, some didn't.

1. We took a mini fridge with us. After buying refillable mugs, the fridge was worthless. The original intention was to take bottled water for the parks and chill it in the room. We found that using our snack credit in the park for a bottled water, getting a bottle at our CS meals, or buying one out of pocket, and just refilling the bottles at the water fountains was fine. I wound up bringing 20 out of 24 bottled waters home, and the fridge wasn't needed. Our next trip will not include a fridge (unless provided with the room at no charge), and only enough drinks in the car for the road trip.

2. We did take a toaster, but it never got used. In fact I left it in the room unopened in the box, and Disney Lost and Found contacted us by mail to let us know we left it (Thanks Disney!). Anyway, the intention was for Pop Tarts, but we found with the dining plan, splitting a CS breakfast, or using snack credits for a muffin in the morning, was a better option. The kids did eat cold pop tarts one day, but they wanted them that way. Won't take a toaster again either.

3. We did split some DDP CS meals at lunch, but not for economy. There was just TOO MUCH FOOD for any one of us to eat. (But this is where I don't get the "carry the bun in the park" thing. Why not just cut the burger in half, so you don't have extra baggage? Not that I care if someone prefers the second bun method, but for me it's just something else to cart around the park). So this was more to make sure we didn't waste food, or fill up too much in the parks, and used some of the CS credits for breakfast instead. Some of the time we did get bottled water with the meal, so we could reuse the bottles at the water fountains as we walked. We all ate VERY WELL all week, and even wound up having 2 CS credits left over that we got Earl of Sandwich to hit the road on the way home.

4. I took a backpack cooler, but as mentioned we found ways to stay hydrated without using it. It will be home next time also. It was much more enjoyable for me to travel light than to carry that thing all day. Plus souvenirs and what not that were purchased were either carried by the family member (if small) or shipped back to the room.

5. Small bags of chips and a single box of pop tarts/breakfast bars will be a must. Sometimes it was great to just have some munchies in the room, and use our refillable mugs for drinks. Or the day we ran late for a rope drop we wanted to make, the pop tarts were a life saver.

6. Packets of water flavoring. We took 100 of these because of reports that the water tasted weird. I can fully understand how it may be offensive to some as it did taste a little different, but no one in our family minded so all of these came back home with us.

7. Laundry detergent and softener is a must. Too expensive at the parks. The Purex 3in1 sheets are great for use there. Plus plenty of quarters since it's $4.00 to wash and dry one load

8. We stayed offsite 18 years ago, and onsite this time. I would never consider staying offsite again. The perks of bus transportation, EMH, nice accommodations, KTTW charging, and great customer service are enough for me to pay a little more to stay onsite.

I don't want to judge others, as to each his own. What do I consider extreme? Anything that is trying to get something for nothing. Pecos Bill condiment salad comes to mind or staying offsite and parking at DTD to use the busses. But carrying a bun for splitting a burger is fine, or as long as the crock pot next door doesn't stink up our room, I really don't care. I am on vacation, so what everyone else does is up to them. You want to eat creamed corn in front of the castle because that is what your budget allowed? Cool, glad you were able to make it to the World and hope you get some pixie dust thrown your way as well.

But for us, staying onsite with the Disney Dining Plan combined with Refillable Mugs was the way to go. I am fairly frugal, but this combination walked the perfect balance between cost effectiveness and convenience so we could all relax and enjoy the trip. I am sure Disney has spent millions making sure that this combo is an attractive value, but after experiencing it, they have made a believer out of me. I had all these ways I was going to save cash, and it was just a waste of time IMO. Sometimes "easy and convenient" is worth paying for. I'll cut back as much as possible in other areas of everyday life to make sure we can go as close to "first class" on our Disney trip as possible.

I am planning our next trip WAY out because we make a modest income, but I want to make sure we can go with the DDP next time as well. I would rather delay the trip a little longer for the extra expense, and have it all inclusive when we arrive. We stretched the plan a little by sharing, etc. But, it was convenient, no one in the family was ever hungry (in fact we were stuffed most of the time), and it was just that much less "stuff" to lug around on vacation. So I am hoping for DW and my 20th anniversary trip with the kids in 1.5 years, we can stay Moderate or Deluxe, but I would take Value with the DDP over either of those without the plan.

And just to stir the pot a little more, we are taking our kids out of school for a week on the next trip, and DW and I are fine with that

Sorry for the long rant, but I am finally getting over my Post Disney Depression after 3 weeks back, so I had a lot to say since I haven't posted in awhile.
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1992 - WDW - Offsite/Holiday Inn Kissimmee
2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 09-12-2010 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:41 AM   #2
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Day 1 08/14/10 - A great dinner and Nightastic

Dinner at Kona Cafe at 6:55 PM. I had to change a reservation for our arrival night at the last minute due to a timing issue. We were scheduled for Ohana, but I couldn''t get a later time about 4 days before our arrival. Looking over the limited choices we had (due to free dining at the time), the only one that looked reasonable was Kona Cafe. I though for sure it would be either a total letdown or standard at best. Man, was I wrong! This turned out to be the second best dinner we had, and the best breakfast when we ate there a second time in mid week. The service was great both time, maybe just a little slow, but nothing to complain about. We were seated promptly at our reservation time after checking in about 20 minutes early. Kona is an open air restaurant meaning that there are no walls between the cafe area and the upstairs lobby at the Polynesian, but we didn''t notice any outside noise as a distraction.

The food during our dinner was fantastic. The Almond Coconut chicken was the best meal I had all week we were there. My wife liked the steak very much, but felt it lacked a little on the seasoning in the description. However she did comment that it was a great steak, just not seasoned as heavily as she expected. My daughter is quite finicky about her shrimp, but raved about her plate here. Also we got some Potstickers to start, and even my wife and son ate them even though they usually do not like them.

We also had a reservation for breakfast, just because I wanted to try the Tonga Toast, and it did not disappoint. I am a very hearty breakfast eater, but that really filled me up. We paid out of pocket for the breakfast, but the prices were very good for the huge portions we were served.

I cannot say enough good about this restaurant, and for our next visit it will be at the top of the list. I will skip Ohana and just visit Kona again.
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1992 - WDW - Offsite/Holiday Inn Kissimmee
2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 08-26-2010 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:42 AM   #3
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Day 2 08/15/10 - Animal Kingdom roars, and a walk on the boards

Pizzafari for lunch around 1:00 PM. Standard counter service wait times, and restaurant could have been a little cleaner. But with the volume of business they had, I gave it a pass on the trays and plates left on the tables. They did eventually get to them, it just seemed to take awhile.

Everyone in our party got the Pizza except me. Boy was I the lucky one. The pizza''s seem to be standard frozen personal size pizza''s with a side and drink. But the Hot Italian Style Sandwich I got was fantastic. It was filling and a huge portion, so I was barely hungry even later into the day. Go for the sandwich as it won''t disappoint.

ESPN Club for dinner around 8:00 pm. The ESPN Club is located at the Boardwalk resort in their shopping area behind the actual hotel. We did not have a reservation, but just stopped by after a day at the Animal Kingdom. We were seated right away with no wait. Our waiter was friendly and courteous and joked with us quite a bit during the service. The nachos were good and enjoyed by all, but no better or worse than any other standard sit down restaurant we have been to. However, the big disappointment was that everyone ordered sandwiches, and they were standard Applebee''''s/TGIF fare at about twice the price. The Angus Burger I had was marginally edible at best. We will not be visiting again.


As a side note, the waiter told us that all of the other ESPN Clubs throughout the country are going to close, and this one at Disney will be the only one left open as they seem to be centralizing ESPN on the Disney property. If this is the case, they sure need to work on the menu and quality of the food if this will be what represents for a restaurant with the ESPN name.
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1992 - WDW - Offsite/Holiday Inn Kissimmee
2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 08-26-2010 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:44 AM   #4
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 384

Day 3 08/16/10 - A view from the spaceship, and princess' adoring DS

Everything Pop for breakfast. We ate at the Everything Pop food court several times during our stay. Breakfast meals were kinda lackluster, but did the job to get us going. The counter service offering were pretty good, and better than some of the counter service restaurants we ate at in the parks. Also, the whole pizza for about $16 we picked up one night was good and economical as long as you don't have it delivered to your room. The best value was using our snack credits with our refillable mugs for breakfast. The muffins were great and just the right size for a light breakfast before heading out to the parks. Better use of the snack credits in my opinion than an ice cream or bottle of water in the parks.


And try the Black and Bleu sandwich which was one of the best I had all week. The only downside is that the soda dispensers and cashier stations are very busy during peak times.

Electric Umbrella for lunch around 1:30 pm. With the very limited counter service options in Epcot, we opted for the Electric Umbrella figuring it would be about the same as everything else, and we were on the run. It was okay, except for the Bacon Double Cheeseburger which was made with what tasted like frozen burger patties. Other fare was just okay, with nothing really standing out as better than average. Also since there are few food outlets in the Future World section, this place is always crowded. Send someone to find a table while you are in line. We probably won''t go back, unless our options are limited the next time we visit WDW.

Akershus for dinner 5:15. This was the best value on our dining plan hands down. The castle is very well themed and for a single dining credit per patron you not only get to meet most or all of the Disney Princesses, but also get a free 8x10 photo taken with Belle before dinner. They bring your photo to your table during the meal. We had all of the Princesses at our table including Cinderella. Other than the menu being traditional Norwegian dishes, I can''t think of any reason to pick Cinderella''s Royal Table over this one, other than to say you had the Magic Kingdom Castle experience.

The food was excellent, but be prepared to try something different from normal American fare. The pre meal buffet with cold meats and cheeses was fantastic for everyone. The Kjottkake I tried was well made and tasted great, considering I had never eaten it before. The service was just a tad slow on getting drinks, but considering how packed the restaurant was, I was okay with it. And the waiting area in the front is very small to accommodate the large crowds waiting to take photos with Belle, but they got us all through quickly without being rushed.

Overall this was the 3rd favorite meal of our week, and we will return when we go back.
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1992 - WDW - Offsite/Holiday Inn Kissimmee
2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 08-26-2010 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:45 AM   #5
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 384

Day 4 08/17/10 - Video Games and a very special birthday

Breakfast at Kona 9:35 am. I had to change a reservation for our arrival night at the last minute due to a timing issue. We were scheduled for Ohana, but I couldn''t get a later time about 4 days before our arrival. Looking over the limited choices we had (due to free dining at the time), the only one that looked reasonable was Kona Cafe. I though for sure it would be either a total letdown or standard at best. Man, was I wrong! This turned out to be the second best dinner we had, and the best breakfast when we ate there a second time in mid week. The service was great both time, maybe just a little slow, but nothing to complain about. We were seated promptly at our reservation time after checking in about 20 minutes early. Kona is an open air restaurant meaning that there are no walls between the cafe area and the upstairs lobby at the Polynesian, but we didn''t notice any outside noise as a distraction.

The food during our dinner was fantastic. The Almond Coconut chicken was the best meal I had all week we were there. My wife liked the steak very much, but felt it lacked a little on the seasoning in the description. However she did comment that it was a great steak, just not seasoned as heavily as she expected. My daughter is quite finicky about her shrimp, but raved about her plate here. Also we got some Potstickers to start, and even my wife and son ate them even though they usually do not like them.

We also had a reservation for breakfast, just because I wanted to try the Tonga Toast, and it did not disappoint. I am a very hearty breakfast eater, but that really filled me up. We paid out of pocket for the breakfast, but the prices were very good for the huge portions we were served.

I cannot say enough good about this restaurant, and for our next visit it will be at the top of the list. I will skip Ohana and just visit Kona again.

Lunch at Early of Sandwich at 2:00 pm. If you not on the Dining Plan, this is the best value for the buck available on the property in our opinion. The sandwiches were very good and filling, the side options were great and the prices were very inexpensive compared to other restaurants on the property. We like it so much we went back and used our last 2 counter service credits on our last day to get some more sandwiches for the long trip home. I had a couple of good sandwiches during the week, but this would be my first pick if I could only pick one place to go for a quick sandwich meal.

The only downside is they are always busy, so there is a line all the time, but it moves quickly. And the drink stations can get crowded, but all of it is worth the wait. It may be a little off the beaten path for park goers, but if you are near Downtown definitely check it out.

Dinner at Tutto Italia at 8:25 pm. WOW! That is all I can say after picking this restaurant to celebrate my daughters birthday while we were at the House of the Mouse. Everyone in our family absolutely loved this place, and it is a must for our next trip. The theming was perfect, seating was early from our reservation, service was perfect in every way, and oh my gosh, the food was UNBELIEVABLE!

This is not a character dining experience in any way. This appears to be a serious Italian restaurant that takes great pride in being the best at what they do. The service was impeccable, as they had multiple persons attending to us for meal delivery, drink service, etc.

Then there is the food. I had the Lasagne "Al Forno" as I consider this to be the gauge to judge all Italian restaurants by. I have been very luck to have Lasagna at many places in my life, but I can say without exception this was the best I ever had. it was one of those cases where I could have kept eating until I exploded because it was so good. My daughter had the shrimp pasta and was delighted. She said it was the best dinner she could have imagined for her birthday. Other family members also said the meal was by far the best of the week.

The best final though I can leave this review with, we will be back before we even consider another restaurant on our next trip. This was #1 all the way around.
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1992 - WDW - Offsite/Holiday Inn Kissimmee
2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 08-26-2010 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:46 AM   #6
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Day 5 08/18/10 - Finally off to see the Mouse, and "Tink Dust" anniversary magic

Lunch at Tony's 2:00 pm. I was trying to find a semi-romatic meal (we were traveling with the kids) to celebrate my wife and mine anniversary. I scheduled us at 2:00 PM at Tony''s so we could have some Italian (a family favorite) and try to get a table on the porch to watch the parade. I asked if we could sit on the porch, and since it was 95 degrees out we had no problem with this. Even though it was hot, the shade and ceiling fans were adequate to keep us comfortable.

The theming in the restaurant is looking very dated compared to the table service available in Epcot''s World Showcase. I would think that being in the Magic Kingdom they would make the restaurants there the crown jewels of dining for the whole "World", but it does not seem to be the case with Tony''s.

The service was slow, and the waitress seemed only semi interested in getting our order and getting our food out. This was the only time all week that I tipped light due to bad service.

I admit we were pretty spoiled the night before at Tutto Itallia, but the Italian food here tasted like something from Fazolli''s. Now I don''t have any problem with standard counter fare Italian, but I was expecting a whole lot more from a "premier" restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. It was easy to tell that my wife''s Chicken Parmigiana was a frozen patty that had been warmed up. The pasta was overcooked on all of our dishes. The sauce was tasteless and seemed to be from a can. The meatballs tasted frozen and rewarmed as well. and the dessert was no better than most counter service we had experienced earlier in the week.

However, the view of the parade from the porch was the best in the park, and the food was edible but not exceptional (or even really good), so that is the only thing holding me back from rating this a "1".

I will not even consider a return visit. Was a waste of a good meal credit in my opinion. They should gut the place starting with the chef and start over.
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2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 08-26-2010 at 05:29 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:47 AM   #7
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Day 6 08/19/10 - The Carl and Company's favorite ride is finally found

Sci Fi Dine In 2:20 pm. My kids wanted to do this since their generation is too young to really know what a drive in experience is like. I should have taken them to a drive in and saved my meal credit instead. The wait time to get in was beyond our reservation time, but not too much over. They seemed to be kind of disorganized at the front counter, but we weren''t in that big of a hurry. The place is very dark in keeping with the theming, but it makes it a little hard to read the menu''s. The tables in the "cars" are a little small, and I can see how someone who is "pooh-sized" might be uncomfortable and need one of the few tables in the back instead.

The food was counter service quality overall, except the milkshakes and ice cream which were very good. The Reuben was the only thing that came close to overcoming mediocrity of the 4 meals we ordered, and even it didn''t blow me away. Our server was slow and brought out the wrong flavor of milkshake (chocolate and strawberry sound so similar when you are fighting to talk to her over the sounds of old movie trailers), but was not too big of a deal. And because the service was slow, we wound up watching some of the same trailers 3 times on the loops that ran on the "big screen"

Was good for one visit, and the kids liked the experience, but next time I''ll try the 50''s Prime Time instead.
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1992 - WDW - Offsite/Holiday Inn Kissimmee
2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)

Last edited by Carl Fredricksen; 08-26-2010 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:48 AM   #8
Carl Fredricksen
Ah, ha ha ha! So long, boys! I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!
 
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 384

Day 7 08/20/10 - Saying Goodbye is the hardest part, and the future trip is planned

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2010 - WDW - Pop Century (Trip Report)
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