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Old 06-08-2011, 09:53 PM   #16
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Here is the 2011 image that i put on shirts (of course with different names):

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Old 11-10-2011, 02:51 PM   #17
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Wow...time got away from me! I do apologize for not updating sooner. Have PM'ed the Mod to move to the TR forum and will get busy updating this weekend!

Thanks!!

Will
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:07 AM   #18
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Okay so to begin...I apologize for not updating this sooner! Lost my job and finding a new one was top priority but now that's been sorted, so here we go!

To Review:

We planned to arrive by noon or so on Arrival Day, spend several days in the park and then drive home over two days.

I will be breaking it down as follows:
  • Driving to WDW
  • Arrival Day
  • Star Wars Weekend
  • The Resort (Pop Century)
  • The Food
  • The Parks
  • Going home (the sad part)

Each one will be its own post in the thread.

Thanks for reading!

Will
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:25 AM   #19
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Driving to WDW

The plan was as follows:

While my DW was at work, the kids and I would pack the van and make sure things were ready. We would go pick her up then swing by and pick up my Sister in law before heading out.We would then drive overnight to get to the resort by noon the next day (Friday), where we had a room only rez before our package started on Saturday.

The plan was to be on the road by 4 PM Thursday.

We were sooooo close! lol. We left less than 30 minutes late. Now I know what you are thinking...that's not bad. And I agree, it's just that I hate to be late, lol.

Okay so I have so much fun planning the trip (gives me something to do while waiting for it to actually start!) that I am pretty precise in times.
We made stops for dinner and breakfast along with gas and potty breaks along the way.

We had three available drivers and we all drove a portion (I drove the most as I love to drive) but we have decided that driving straight through is NOT the best option for us; none of the drivers really got a good rest.

Anyway, by midnight it was obvious that the plan was wrong...I don't know if it was the traffic, the slight speed above the speed limit (yes I do mean slight, lol) or what, but we were fairly ahead of plan.

The plan called for stopping for breakfast about 7 AM around Gainesville...we actually stopped closer to 5 AM.

The long and the short of it is that even with an unanticipated long stop at a rest area on the turnpike, we arrived at the resort just before 9 AM, around 3 hours earlier than I planned.

Lessons learned:
1) No plan survives the first facing of the enemy (actually that's a quasi-quote from a famous book the Art of War).
2) Average speed was higher than anticipated (I allowed for more traffic through certain areas than there was)
3) Even if you start later than expected, it doesn't mean anything.

And so, we were in our rooms and unpacking early enough that we were able to go to DTD and have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.

Next up: Arrival Day
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:12 AM   #20
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Great so far. Cant wait to hear more
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:11 AM   #21
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Arrival Day


So as I said...we got to POP around 9 AM.

We had six going, so we had two rooms under several reservations.

We booked a package (x2).

We booked a Room Only for the night before the package (x2).

We booked a Rom Only for the night after our package ended (x2).

So in total we had 6 reservations. All this was done via our AAA office. We asked for connecting if possible and I have a mobility handicap, so we had asked our TA to make those as special requests.

Now I have read in several posts here on the boards that they had difficulties or bad experiences with the CMs at the POP.

Well, let me say this...I think that those were isolated issues. The CMs at check-in were VERY helpful and assisted us in making sense of the reservations. Our rooms were in the 50's building near the Airline area. They were indeed connecting rooms and they met every expectation that we had!

This was our second stay at POP and we have been pleased every time. We are indeed planning our 2012 trip and POP is our resort of choice for many reasons which I will outline later.

First let me explain our reasoning as to why we did the reservations the way we did.

We can only get to WDW once a year (if we are lucky) and so we want to get every drop of fun from our package that we can. Getting a RO reservation for the night before allows us to do that along with an added bonus; we can make arrival day a long visit to DTD and use the Disney buses to get there. By adding another RO for the day after our package we can use our Park tickets until closing and not have to fight to get to an off property hotel...we just get on a Disney bus and go back to POP.


We were able to leave the resort on Arrival Day by 10:30 AM and go to DTD. We sat for lunch at Rainforest Cafe around 11:15 and then were able to spend the afternoon shopping and enjoying the sights and sounds at a relaxed pace.

I have a cousin that I grew up with that now lives in Winter Garden so she usually meets us for dinner our first night in the area; we went to House of Blues in DTD and she met us. We had a great visit and we able to meet her granddaughter (that we had spoken to on the phone but not seen in person before).




After dinner she left for home and we headed back to the bus to go back to POP to get ready for the next day at Hollywood Studios...after all it was a Star Wars Weekend!

tbc...Will
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:42 PM   #22
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Star Wars Weekends


The first thing we saw as we approached Hollywood Studios on the first day.

One of the things we try to do is go during Star Wars Weekends. We first came during SWW as an afterthought in 2008 and now we make it a part of our trip each year! I was around 15 when I first saw Star Wars (A New Hope) in 1977 and I proceeded to see it in theaters over 30 times (in 2 languages). As a musician I loved the soundtrack and I think like most the idea of a space adventure drew me in. So of course when they came out on video we bought them, so our kids have grown up with the movies; we are all fans so this is a great thing for us.

We did not dress like a Wookiee or a Jedi but we did get into the spirit by having themed matching t-shirts:


The t-shirt says "I had friends on that Death Star" and on the back we added TK421 on mine. TK421 is a stormtrooper that is named in the first movie after the Millenium Falcon is captured. When Luke and Han lure the guards inside the leader in the control room notices and says "TK421 why aren't you at your post?"

If you are a SW fan this special event that happens usually mid-May to mid-June (on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) is a "must do". I met Peter Mayhew in 2010 (Peter was Chewbacca) and it was a great time! You can find out more here:

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/par...-wars-weekend/
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:44 AM   #23
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The Pop Century resort and why we keep coming back

What can I say about POP that you haven't already read? Admittedly, not much.


However I can say this: The Pop Century resort is definitely a fun place to stay...don't let the category of "Value Resort" fool you.

I can remember laughing about folks that kept coming back to WDW every year and thinking that they were silly. I just couldn't understand the fascination. So for years I put it off thinking that we had time to get there to see what the hullabaloo was about.

Our first visit to WDW was in 1993 when my oldest was six and my youngest (at the time) was 18 months old. We spent one day at MK and went to Universal. We stayed off property and had a decent time. in 1998 our youngest was born and I decided that we would go "when he got a little older". I regret that decision a lot.

In 2007 our daughter passed away unexpectedly at the age of 15. This event made me rethink life in general and especially in how we spent time together. So in the summer of 2008 we went to WDW and stayed at POR. We got the DDP and we had such a great time that I realized that those silly folks were right...WDW was worth coming back to as often as we could.

In 2010 we came back with our youngest and his friend; our oldest got married and was honeymooning at WDW (our DDIL was with us in 2008 and is as hooked as we are) and due to wedding expenses we decided to try a Value. We stayed at POP and loved it, so when we decided to come back in 2011, it was our resort of choice.

So arriving at POP this last June was coming back to a familiar resort AND sharing the fun with my sister in law who had come with us in 1993. We had a crazy group of reservations but the CM at the front desk had no trouble getting things lined up for us. Our rooms were in the 50's building and close to the airline check in so we did not have far to go to get to the buses.

We had a special request for connecting rooms and when we opened our doors we were happy to see that we got them. We got situated and we took some time to freshen up before Angie and I grabbed our cameras and spent an hour or so just walking around. When we got back we decided to head to DTD for the rest of the day and had some great fun shopping, taking pictures and finally meeting my cousin for dinner.

For the rest of our time at the resort we had no problems and every CM we spoke with was what we've come to expect at Disney; friendly, courteous and helpful. We gave Mousekeeping a small tip each night and they gave us a menagerie of towel animals and other creations.



The beds were comfortable, the room was a decent size and the water was always hot for a nice relaxing shower. We also took time to enjoy the pools and had a great time!

One of my favorite parts of staying on property is when you are riding back to the resort at the end of a long day at the parks and the bus announcer says "Welcome Home!" That's why I love staying there...you do feel welcome.
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:33 PM   #24
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The Food

WDW is the home of some of the most amazing restaurants. From the resort food courts to the Signature Dining, there is something for everyone. Here are a few of our favorites that we hit every trip:

Magic Kingdom

1) Crystal Palace - This is a great buffet style restaurant with charcter visits from Winnie the Pooh and friends! The food was great and there was a wide selection, so even our pickiest eater was happy! The CM that we had as a server was very personable and we never wanted for anything. He was funny and he really enriched the experience for us! I would highly recommend this as a stop if you can fit it in!


2) Cinderella's Royal Table - This is a Signature Dining restaurant. And it is worth it. You can meet the Princesses (Snow White, Belle, Cinderella and Aurora) while dining in a room that makes you believe you are in a medieval dining hall. The menu has a nice selection and the wait staff was fantastic! Every one of us enjoyed it and we will try to include it in each trip we make.


EPCOT

1) Biergarten - Authentic German food...I lived in Germany for a couple of years and I can truly say this is very similar to what was available in restaurants there. The stage show is very entertaining and the food is great! We have eaten here every trip (to be honest on one trip it was twice!) and I have met CMs that were from where I lived in Germany. If you love (or even want to try) German food, this is where to go!


2) Yorkshire County Fish Shop - Great Fish & Chips! DS24 and I stop here each trip! Great flavor and it's fun sitting watching the ferries move back and forth while you eat. This is a Counter Service restaurant that is worth the stop!

Hollywood Studios

1) 50's Prime Time Cafe - Join all your "cousins" in this salute to the 1950's! Eat in kitchen areas where you are reminded to keep your elbows off the table and clean your plates. The food is all homestyle American, hefty helpings and flavorful. They play snippets of early tv shows and it has a very homey feel.

2) Sci-Fi Theater - Eat in tables arranged like cars and view the corniest b-movie sci fi flick snippets while you enjoy good food. It truly is an experience!

3) Pizza Planet - The imaginary pizza place from Toy Story come to life! Pizza's are great, salads are good. Video arcade is on the lower floor...loud but fun! Great place to grab something in a hurry.

Animal Kingdom

We usually spend the least amount of time in AK, but there is one place we frequent.

1) Flame Tree Barbeque - Great BBQ and the usual sides. A counter service restaurant with an open air seating area. Good food and a fun place to people watch.

Port Orleans Riverside

When we stayed here in 2008, we went to the restaurant for dinner one night and the food was very good.

1) Boatwright's Dining Hall - Good American and Southern style meals and reasonable prices. Service was great and the CMs were very friendly!

POP Century

1) Everything Pop Shopping and Dining - The food court has several offerings for breakfast lunch and dinner. We usually eat breakfast here and the choices are very good. The food is great and we have only had an issue once (which was promptly resolved). We plan on eating here as there is enough variety for everyone.


Summary

If you like to eat, then the food choices at WDW will make you happy. Prices vary by restaurant due to menu choices, but if you go hungry, it's by choice, not necessity.

We have other places that we have tried and enjoyed, as well as many places yet to try (but are on our list for sure)! These are some that we consider 'must do'.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:31 AM   #25
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The Parks - Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is filled with tv/movie themed rides and shows; anyone who loves movies will have a good time here. But the place literally explodes during Star Wars Weekends (usually from mid-May to mid-June)!

Since we have already discussed Star Wars Weekends, we'll concentrate on the park itself.

Rides

There are many rides here, but the most popular seem to be Star Tours and Toy Story Mania.

Star Tours is a 3D ride where you get in a mini theater that is shaped like a Star Wars style space vehicle. You enter and take a seat. A CM makes sure you are buckled in then exits the area. Once it starts the front wall opens and reveals an animatronic C-3PO and the ride begins. Hydraulics move the theater to match the onscreen action and it is very well done. There are many options that are randomly generated so that no two rides are the same in a row. FASTPASSES are recommended if you have Star Wars fans in your party.

Toy Story Mania is an interactive ride where you shoot balls at targets in 3D. Break plates, pop balloons and have a great time. The "gun" is triggered by pulling a string and then you have to aim vertically and horizontally. The highest score gets bragging rights (it was never me...usually DW or DS made me look like an amateur lol) and it shows up on a screen near the end of the ride. Of course, the little green aliens are there as well as Buzz, Woody and the gang. This ride seems to be THE most popular, so get a FASTPASS earlier as the line sometimes reaches 90 minutes plus!

Other popular rides are the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock'n'Roller Coaster. While these are not my cup of tea, they were enjoyed by the thrill seekers!

Shows

You would expect great shows at a place called Hollywood Studios and they do not disappoint.

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular shows how many of the stunts are done and is very fun to watch! The Backlot Movie Tour shows how scenes are set up and things shot are spliced with other footage to make the story work. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show explains how car chases and other motorized stunts are done in a 33 minute show that is a favorite with our family.

There are also shows like the Muppet Theater, Beauty and the Beast Live (a 30 minute condensed version of the Broadway production) and exhibits like Walt Disney: One Man's Dream that shows how Walt Disney built his company from the beginning.

The best attended show would have to be Fantasmic. It is a 25-minute nightime fireworks and water show that is performed on selected nights and features Mickey as well as many of the villians and other characters. It is a great show and you should plan to watch it if at all possible. Kids of all ages will love it!

The main focal point of HS is the Sorcerer's Hat that Mickey wore in Fantasia; it has become the iconic symbol of the park.

Up next - Magic Kingdom
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Old 11-15-2011, 02:47 PM   #26
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The Parks - Magic Kingdom

To us, this IS Disney! We love MK and make it a focus of our trip, spending more days in MK than any other park.

The focal point of the park is Cinderella's castle. It can be seen from a good distance outside the park, and the family gets excited just by knowing that we are close. You can't come to MK and not take a few pictures of the castle!


Rides and Attractions

Here are some of our favorite rides:

1) Pirates of the Caribbean - PotC is a ride that we do multiple times a day. It's fun and cool when the day gets hot. It was updated to reflect the latest movie which was great as we saw it shortly before our trip. This ride can have long wait times so be prepared just in case.

2) Splash Mountain - You will get wet on this ride. Based on Disney's "Song of the South" this is a fun ride that will cool you off in a hurry. Our youngest is not a fan because he doesn't like to get wet, but the rest of us enjoy it.

3) Mad Hatter's Tea Party - The tea cups are a favorite for the kids...but DW and myself not so much. They do want to ride it every time we pass it so we'll include it here.

4) Mickey's Philharmagic - This 3D show is great fun and ties Sorcerer Mickey in with music from several Disney films. It is in a theater setting and is really 4D...but we won't spoil the surprise too much for you. All of us love this one!

5) Haunted Mansion - Our youngest claims to hate this one but he is already talking about riding it next trip! It is great fun and almost everyone should like it. Be careful with toddlers and preschoolers though; there are some parts that they may not understand and could get frightened.

6) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - This is a roller coaster and our DDIL (littleangie) and our youngest ride it as often as they can.

7) Carousel of Progress - Many folks I have talked to pass this one up. Our family enjoys it each day we are in the park. The theme song is catchy (you can't get it out of your head) and it tracks a mythical family from the early 20th century to the imagined future. It's good fun and a nice place to rest after all the walking for awhile.

8) The Hall of Presidents - DW and I like this one...it's interesting to see how all the US Presidents are represented and how the Imagineers interpret them.

We enjoy the other rides but these are the ones that we never miss.

Shows

The main shows are the Wishes fireworks, the Main Street Electrical Parade and Dream Along with Mickey. These are all great and are definitely must see's!

There are characters all over and there are many opportunities for pictures and autographs.

Next Up - EPCOT
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:40 AM   #27
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The Parks - EPCOT

We always enjoy our time in EPCOT. It seems every trip we find something new to see! This trip it was the Coke tasting area and Ellen's Energy Adventure.

The park is set up in 2 areas: Futureworld and World Showcase. The iconic symbol for the park is the large ball in Futureworld that is known as Spaceship Earth.

Futureworld

This area of the park houses quite a bit. From rides to shows there is a lot to
see. Here are some of our favorites:

1) Soarin' - this is our number 1 favorite ride at EPCOT. The ride is a sensory experience that mimics riding in a glider over California. The concave screen puts you in the center of the action. Couple that with smells projected towards you and the way the ride operates, you feel like you are there!

2) Test Track - The kids love this one! Riding in a vehicle that shoots you
around a track at high speeds, this ride is one that many folks will enjoy!

3) Nemo and Friends - Ride in clamshell shaped vehicles through computer
animated scenes from the movie. It is a great ride for little ones and the older
ones will enjoy it too.

4) Turtle Talk with Crush - Crush the Turtle from the movie interacts with the
audience and it is fun to watch the younger kids get involved.

5) Ellen's Energy Adventure - Get into huge vehicles that move you through a
history lesson in regards to energy and how it came about.

World Showcase

The country pavilions in WS are great exposure to those folks that have not been able to visit the real places. I can attest that the feel in Germany is quite authentic as I have lived there.

There are many fun shows and rides to experience including the Maelstrom in Norway and the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico; the World Showcase Players are usually found near England (I got pulled into one of those back in 2008 and it was fun).

The CMs in each country's pavilion are residents of that country, so that adds to the overall feel. We have had folks that acted as servers in Biergarten (in Germany's pavilion) that we from the same part of Germany that I was in; we had great fun discussing the area and we knew some of the same places!

EPCOT is a fun, educational place and seems to have something for everyone.

Next Up - Animal Kingdom
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:27 AM   #28
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The Parks - Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is our least favorite park, but that is not due to the things it has. We have a great zoo near home so the only animal draw for us is the Kilimanjaro Safaris. There is a lot more beyond the animals to do:

1) Kilimanjaro Safaris - This is a ride where you get in a large truck like vehicle with several bench seats and travel through an area of the park covered with grasslands and natural habitats for wildlife. You can see many tipes of animals including lions, elephants and more. We ride this every trip and it is great fun.

2) Festival of the Lion King - This show features the characters from the movie along with many live performers. The singing is great and the acrobatics are amazing to watch. It is done inside a large building and the audience is invited to participate. It is well worth the wait to see.

3) Expedition Everest is a great rollercoaster that the kids loved. It has some intersting features and a wild layout that any thrillseeker will enjoy.

4) Kali River Rapids - This water ride is a fun way to cool off on a hot day. The "rafts" are large enough to fit even larger families.

5) It's Tough to be a Bug - This is a cute 3D show using the Pixar characters from A Bug's Life.

There are many more things to do and enjoy here, but be warned; this appears to be the hottest park in WDW, especially in June. Make sure you drink lots of fluids and try to keep cool.
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:10 AM   #29
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Heading Home

As much as we love to go to WDW (and as much fun as we have while we are there) we don't mind heading home. Sure, we are sad but we are already thinking about what we can do the next trip.

When we look back at the time we spent here this trip, we have to smile when we think on some of the memories:

When we went to EPCOT the first time this trip, we wore our Soarin' shirts. The Soarin' CMs LOVED them and we managed to get middle row, middle of the row seats for the ride. These are considered the best seats. One of the CMs asked us where we bought them and was amazed to learn that we had made them.

We had a good time at the Wishes Dessert Party our last night. The desserts were great! The view of the fireworks was good, but we prefer to be on Main Street near the castle. It was a great experience though!

The trip to DTD the first night (pre-package) was fun because we did not feel rushed and it is always great to see my cousin.

The luau at the Polynesian during the Spirit of Aloha show was fun! My DS24 and I had drinks in carved heads (I will add a pic) and the ladies had cocktails in souvenir glasses. The food was great but unfortunately the weather was not cooperating and the show itself was cancelled. The Spirit of Aloha show is a Signature dining event that usually uses 2 TS credits from your dining plan, but because the show was cancelled we received 1 TS credit per person back. Still, we had fun and are planning to do it in our next trip to see the show.

The meal we had at CRT was awesome and the CMs there were the best! The girls all got there pics taken with each princess and we had a lot of fun!


Pop Century once again did not disappoint us and the CMs there always commented on our Anniversary badges. Mousekeeping was great and we had some interesting towel creatures.

We checked out around nine AM after having one last breakfast in the Food Court and filling our mugs for the last time. The drive home took us 2 days by choice and we got home to our cats and parrot a much happier group than when we left...and we went to bed dreaming of the next trip to WDW.

It's confirmed...we are hooked!

Look for next years PTR coming within the next couple of months!
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