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Old 05-31-2011, 02:14 PM   #1
Disney__Dad
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 12

First WDW Trip Since January 2008 - Trip Report

Cast – DH (me) 46, DW - 45, DD - 11

We drove to WDW from Delaware on Wednesday, 04-29, returned home Sunday, 05-08. First WDW trip since January 2008. Stopped at Florence SC overnight on the way down. It was a partial business trip (had to make a few visits to Tampa) so the company I am with paid for the Chrysler Town and Country rental and gas. This was an unexpected trip so we were very pleased. We used to come every year when my daughter was in preschool or kindergarten, now that she is in 5th grade it is difficult to pull her out of school. Fortunately this year she has a good teacher who let her make up the work.

General observations:

The cast members were excellent, did not come across a single grumpy CM as we had in previous trips. We were celebrating our 15th anniversary in May and wore the red anniversary buttons, so that may have helped. Funny how everyone thinks being married for 15 years is a long time.

Food quality was OK, burgers seemed like they kicked it down a notch. Would like to see all beef hot dogs at Casey’s.

We normally travel to WDW during the slowest times, like January or between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a bit of a shock to see everything so crowded. I can’t image what it was like Easter Week. We were lucky, most of our time at WDW was the week after Easter week.

Gave up on TouringPlans.com. They reported 0.6 out of 10 crowds for Sunday, May 1st for DHS and it was packed. Also reported that TSM fast passes were gone for the day when they were not.

They closed the MK at 7pm three times during our stay for grad night. Hey Disney, how about leaving the park open so all the people who purchased tickets can enjoy the park. Disney is double dipping here. Charge for the passes, then charge again for the grads.

What is with all the panic about dining reservation? We booked everything the day we arrived and had little difficulty.

As always, wait staff at restaurants seem happy when we tell them we are not on the dining plan. One actually said “perfect” after we told her.

The interior of the FW cabins are starting to show their age. Several crooked curtain rods, fridge that was beat up on the outside with dozens of rust spots. Clunky old tube TVs. We have been staying in the cabins for 10 years, nothing has changed inside. Perhaps it is time for a renovation.

I lost four pounds, mostly because I was the official “Fastpass Monkey” and bearer of the backpack.

I cannot see how people travel to WDW in the summer. It was hitting 90 degrees the first week in May. I cannot imagine the heat and humidity (and downpours) in July and August.

Tee-shirt prices were approaching the $30 range. Not there yet, but soon.

Thursday, April 28th –
Arrived at Fort Wilderness for check in. I did the check-in on line, so everything was ready. Unfortunately, they forgot to create the room keys. I had to go back into the lobby and have them made. Emptied the van into our cabin and went to Winn-Dixie for supplies. Unloaded the supplies and went to DTD for dinner and shopping. It was still Easter week, so the place was packed. We had Fish and Chips in the QS place behind Ragland Road (Cooke’s). Excellent Fish and Chips. Our first sticker shock at WDW – $37.39 for 3 fish and chips and one soda. Went to the La Nouba box office and purchased tickets for Thursday - $324.84. Shopping next. Didn’t shop much, crowds and heat were too much.

The DTD stores were really holding back on the air conditioning today. The Lego store was like a sauna. Is this typical?

Friday, April 29th
I had business in Tampa, and returned to the cabin at 1:30. We were going to watch the shuttle launch, but it was cancelled. We had a great day in Epcot. Early dinner at Via Napoli. The pizza was excellent, as was the service. Seven of the staff members sang an anniversary song in Italian and did some cute hand gestures during the song. They also gave us a complimentary anniversary dessert. It was not large (a cookie and whipped cream) but we enjoyed it. This was my favorite meal of the trip. Did the usual rides at Epcot. Got front row for the boat rides in Mexico and Norway. I see they expanded the Mexican restaurant inside the pavilion, and built a new one on the water. Was Illuminations chopped down to 15 minutes? Thought it was longer than that.

Saturday, April 30th
Business in Tampa, back at Fort Wilderness at 3pm. Went to the 7:15 showing of Hoop De Doo. It was excellent, the performers did a fantastic job. We had a table in the balcony directly overlooking the stage, next to the person who controls the spotlight. The view was perfect. Food was good, the same as I remembered when we were last at Hoop De Doo in 1996. They still sing the strawberry shortcake song.

Sunday, May 1st
DHS. Crowded, but had a good time. Lotso from Toy Story 3 was making his final appearance at the Studios today, so we were fortunate to get some photos and an autograph for DD. Met the Incredibles, they were excited about our anniversary, because they are also married for 15 years. Did they reduce the length of the Little Mermaid show? Took my DD on TOT for the first time. Not sure how she would react but she loved it. Saw the car stunt show for the first time, very good. Lunch at Sci-Fi. Have not been here in 15 years, it seemed better now than before, not as noisy. Enjoyed our meal. Only complaint is that the milk shake was just soft serve in a cup. I like Pixar Avenue and TSM. The Queue for TSM is well done. My only complaint is that they merge fast pass and stand-by lines too soon. Also noticed several short breakdowns of the ride. Parade was cute, stood in the shade next to Star Wars rehab where the parade starts.

Monday, May 2nd
Epcot again. Got FPs for Soarin’, visited with 8 characters, including two fairies. Does anyone like Duffy the Bear? Whenever I see Duffy, I envision a room full of Disney Execs who came up with Duffy to increase revenue.

Disney needs to place some sort of covering over the line for the fairies. It was a long wait standing in the sun. Also, the line moves very slowly for the fairies, they seem to really take their time interacting with the guests. Too much time. Friendship boat captains Larry and Mark were very nice. They sang three songs for us to celebrate our anniversary. I stopped by guest services to tell them how much I enjoyed the experience, and that it is a shame so few drivers interact with the guests. During our honeymoon in 1996 it seemed every bus driver enjoyed singing or interacting. That has changed. We were first to the candy lady (Miyuki) for her 3:50 show. My daughter had a dolphin made, and five other children had candy animals made as well. Very beautiful. Unfortunately, Disney no longer allows guests to keep the candy. Liability perhaps? My daughter was allowed to pose with her candy dolphin, then it was taken back. Strange…

Stopped at Seasons for dinner, but were surprised at the limited selection. Three food items per stations? Wow, things have changed since 2008. I understand efficiency and streamlining, but that was out of control. Why not just one item per station – super efficient! Also noticed that the Toll House cookie activity for children is gone. What a shame, it was very popular. Another decision by the accountants. My DD did it several times over the years. We left the Land and tried the Electric Umbrella for the first time. Wow, this food is garbage. Chicken nuggets that I would not feed to a prisoner, “salad” that is lettuce, cheese, and chicken in a cup. “Angus” burger was a small patty with a gigantic bun. Fries were old and cold. By far the worst meal on the trip. Actually the only bad meal of the trip. Ask yourself this – would the Electric Umbrella make it as a stand-alone restaurant? No way, not with the low quality. Tried to get a milk shake at the Fountain View afterwards, but were told they no longer make milk shakes. They were delicious in 2008.

Tuesday, May 3rd
We rode horses at FW in the morning. We had a great time, I was riding Achilles. Aladdin rode this horse in the Princess and Pirate Parade. DD rode Shadow, DW rode Riley. We galloped along for 45 minutes, very enjoyable for first time riders. Had lunch in the cabin, then went to the Meadows swimming pool. DD liked the new water slide. The hot tube was excellent. After swimming, daughter made an animation cell. That is one of the great things about FW. They have activities throughout the day. We then went back to the cabin and headed to Yacht and Beach for dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Dropped daughter off at the Sandcastle club first. Dinner was delicious. They gave us a few sweets for our anniversary, and we also ordered the bananas Napoleon, which was delicious. My only beef is that you pay $42 for a steak and get no salad.

I really like the whole Boardwalk area. Beautiful architecture, great theme, clean. Perhaps we will stay at Yacht or Beach some day…

After dinner, we went over to the Boardwalk. Weren’t they supposed to move the ESPN club to DTD? It does not belong on the Boardwalk, it clashes with the theme of a beach town circa 1900. Enjoyed a magician and a plate spinner, then went to the Boardwalk bakery. We purchased three items, A cupcake, peanut butter cup, and a three-chocolate brownie. I could hardly wait to share the cupcake with my daughter. It looked delicious. Unfortunately, it was very mediocre, bordering on lousy. The icing was the cheapest sugar icing they could make, and the cake was also poor. I have had supermarket cupcakes a thousand times better. For $2.95, I expected a gourmet quality cupcake. I saw these same cupcakes for sale all over the parks. Too bad for the people who buy them. The brownie was also horrible. Rock hard and inedible. We had to dig to the middle for one bite of moist brownie. What a let down. We threw almost the entire brownie in the trash. Who is running the bakery? The have obviously never heard the word “rotation.” The only decent item was the peanut butter cup. It had a neat Mickey chocolate medallion on it.

Wednesday, May 4th
MK today. The monorail was not working, so we stood in line for the Ferry. Should we have jumped on the resort monorail??? Lousy start to the day. Huge line for the boat. Finally got to MK, Snow White was available after we entered with almost no line. Got even luckier, the wait time for Mickey and Minnie in their magic area was “0”. It must have just opened. So we headed over, and within a minute were posing with the two. We were also lucky with the fast passes today, used them for six different attractions – Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain, Pooh, Space Mountain, Buzz, and Peter Pan. The timing was perfect. For Example, Pooh was 5:05 to 6:05. At 5:05 I ran to Space Mountain for a FP that had 5:35 to 6:35 on it. At 5:35 I got Buzz FP that had 6:05 to 7:05 on it. I swear I lost several pounds zipping from one FP machine to the next. FPs were a real life saver, allowing us to do everything we wanted to do at the MK in just one day. Lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern was excellent as always. Stood in line for an hour for Rapunzel. This was an odd line. Rapunzel came out each hour, so they let a set number of people into the enchanted grove. If you did not make it in, you did not move for one hour. More of a waiting area than a line. We got in line at 4pm, were let in with the 5pm group. Again, they need some sort of covering for long lines to protect guests from the sun. I took my daughter on the tea cups (walk up) and Indy cars (5 minute wait) while my wife was in line. Then I stood in line while my wife got drinks at Cosmic Rays and took a break. While in the Enchanted Grove they let two Make-a-Wish children in to see Rapunzel. Looked like brother and sister. Both were very pale but were walking OK. God bless them both.

Wow, Cosmic Ray’s was like an ice box. I did not want to leave after stepping in. Watched the parade and fireworks in the evening. Ate Casey’s while waiting for the parade to begin. I will never understand the lines at Casey's. They have just a half dozen items on the menu, but the line moves extremely slow. The hot dogs were served on oversized buns that would have been better suited for an Italian sub. Long waits for the monorail and tram on the way out. They really need to run more trams after the park closes. Child behind us screamed non-stop in her mothers’ arms while we waited for the tram. The child kicked my wife in the back (hard) repeatedly, no apologies. We may take the boat or bus from FW next time. The process of driving to the parking lot then to the tram then to the monorail takes too long.

Thursday, May 5th
Started the day with breakfast in the cabin then a swim. After lunch, DD took archery lessons. She had a good time. It was $25 for a 1.5 hour class. La Nouba next, had a great time at the show. Loved the live music. DDT afterwards. What a shame about Pleasure Island. During our honeymoon in 1996 we did the Macarena with several hundred other guests on the streets of PI. There was a DJ in a tower outside, it was a great time, like a giant street party. The DJ would stop the music and “scold” us if the were not doing the dance correctly. During out last visit in January 2008 I predicted that they would close PI and build shopping. I was right about closing PI, but they have not done much to it. Vacant buildings mostly. Bulldoze it and build something new. An Adventurers Club restaurant would be a good start.

My daughter made one of those remote controlled race cars at the old Virgin building. Wow that is a big area to leave empty, the race car store only took up a small section of the old Virgin store. We then went to the Candy Cauldron for a custom apple. One coconut and chocolate apple cost us $9.50, yikes.

Friday, May 6th.

Animal Kingdom. Only day with foul weather, some drizzle for a few hours. Autograph with Lilo and Stich, then LK show, which was excellent as always. This is the only day that we brought lunch into the park and we were glad we did. The lines at Pizzasafari were unbelievable. Watched the bird show, did Kilimanjaro, and walked an animal trail and headed off to EPCOT. Our primary reason for visiting EPCOT was to see Davey Jones. We lined up for the second show. I could not believe it, finally, a line in the shade. We were lucky, the line happened to have some trees over it. Purchased three apple blossoms from the American pavilion eatery to gobble up while in line. Very good, but a bit undercooked.

The show was enjoyable, we got front row seats. Wanted to ride Figment on the way out, but that closed at 7:00pm. Unfortunately, there is a long list of attractions at EPCOT that close at 7:00. Disney accountants at work. Dinner at Lotus Blossom. Excellent service, one of the CMs behind the counter asked if I needed assistance carrying two trays to my table. I said yes and he came from behind the counter and helped me. Orange chicken and pot stickers were excellent.

Overall, a great trip.

Saturday, May7th
The long drive back to Delaware…
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