Disney Information Station Logo

Go Back   The DIS Discussion Forums - DISboards.com > Disney Trip Planning Forums > Disney Trip Reports > Completed Trip Reports
Find Hotel Specials & DIScounts
 
facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS UpdatesDIS email updates
Register Chat FAQ Tickers Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read





 
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 07-10-2011, 08:12 PM   #1
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Some Firsts, Some Lasts -- Family Trip 5/12/2011-5/19/2011

I'm Eric, DEA on the DISBoards, and I have a Trip Report.

Dramatis Personae:

I'm a 30-something Dad of two wonderful girls (6 and 4) with a wonderful wife, Liz, (myweegirls on the DISBoards) who all share my love of Disney and WDW. My wife takes most of the photos, so here is one courtesy of the Disney PhotoPass folks of all of us (and Minnie Mouse, who while not a member of our family, we feel as though we are financially supporting her):



We're clearly Disney people. We've been to WDW as a family for the past four years running, and 3 times with all four of us. The younger daughter was too little that first year, but she's making up for it now.

The Backstory:

This year, we wanted to try something a little different. We decided to rent DVC points to stay at BLT. Our older daughter is pretty much out of her Princess phase, but while our younger daughter is still invested in castles and princesses, we thought we should stay at a Monorail resort with a Magic Kingdom View. Perhaps for the last princess-y time.

We were able to find a willing renter, and aside from my occasional struggles with PayPal, everyone got their money when they needed to. So, with a month to go, we were all booked in to BLT with an MKV room in our names, and were all set for another wonderful WDW vacation.

The ADRs:

Food plays an important role in our vacation plans. We roped in some of our usual favorites: Sanaa, Flying Fish, Chef Mickey's (our DD4's contribution to the planning, "The First Night!" she shouted), Akershus for the Princess Storybook Breakfast, and Tusker House. We penciled in 'Ohana for dinner hoping that it had improved after a bad night a couple of years ago.

We also decided to try some places for the first time: HDDR, Donald's Safari Breakfast, and Hacienda de San Angel. We skipped eating in the Castle this time, but we didn't really miss it, which helped to reinforce the wisdom of our decision: You get more Princess for your buck at Akershus.

Flying Fish had previously been a date night restaurant for my DW and I, but this time, we decided to chance it with the DDs. Their restaurant behavior can charitably be described as "somewhat uneven," but we had faith in Disney magic to keep them entertained and focused for an upscale dinner.

The plan of attack:

Last year, we drove down. Rather, my DW drove; I just sat there in the passenger seat and tried not to be troublesome. Driving down, despite the investment of time and the high gas prices, leaves us with transportation options when we get to WDW, cash that we did not spend on airline tickets, and a decided lack of TSA searches and scans. All around, a nice win for us. So, this year, the plan was the same: Pick up the girls from school around 3:30pm, hit Dunkin' Donuts for some late-afternoon carbs, drive to somewhere in the Carolinas for dinner, put in one more DVD, and then have the girls wake up in Orlando, preferably as we pulled into the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It worked last year, so why tinker with success

And now, for the rest of the story:

Day1: Arrival
Day 1, Part 2: Chef Mickey's
Day 2: Akershus and Away
Day 3: Everything including the kitchen sink
Day 4, Pt 1: A kingdom of the animal variety
Day 4, Pt 2: It takes a Kidani Village
Day 5: Sea World! And ironic dinner...
Extra AKV pics
Day 6: MK! Downtown Disney! And dinner with Terminator Cinderella
Day 7: Jambo! More AK... and Wine!
Day 8: Last day
Loose Ends and Tying Up of Same
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432

Last edited by DEA; 08-06-2011 at 06:22 PM.
DEA is offline  
Old 07-10-2011, 09:28 PM   #2
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Day 1: Arrival

I will skip Day 0. Suffice it to say, picking up the kids and driving south worked very well, and we arrived at the Cracker Barrel at 7878 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, just south of the Animal Kingdom Lodge to begin Day 1. This breakfast stop has become a tradition in two short years. Last year, we stayed at AKL, so it made a lot of sense. This year, staying at BLT, it made slightly less sense, but traditions have got to be worth something, right?



After a lovely breakfast and our older daughter wanting to spend all her saved up Disney shopping money on things from the Cracker Barrel store (we will be working harder on delayed gratification and thinking about consequences so this will not happen again), we headed over to BLT and our MKV room.

Going through the Gate, of course:



Of course, it wasn't ready, nor had we any real expectation of it being ready, so it was off to the pool with all of us. We got lucky on this trip with a lot of very nice weather, and Day 1 was no different, particularly early in the morning. The Mickey-head-shaped pool at BLT is pretty nice, and the kids got a kick out of it. They particularly love swimming at WDW resorts because the lifejackets give them a lot of independence in the water; DD6 is doing a pretty good job swimming, but DD4 is a bit more adept at sinking right now, so a lifejacket is great for her.

After some swimming, and before the day got ridiculously hot, we went for lunch at Kona Café at the Poly. The girls had a little trouble settling down, but we did get everyone fed, and then headed back over to BLT. Our room was ready, so we went up to behold our Magic Kingdom View. We entered the room, opened the curtains, and saw the wonder of:



And I have to say, that is one great view of the Grand Floridian. Not so good a view of the Magic Kingdom, however. From inside the room, one has to stand in the curtains to see the Castle. The balcony has a little better view from the far left side, but I felt like we should be able to have an MKV room with a little more MKV. So, I called up the desk to see if there were any other rooms available that might have such a view. Then things went bad.

I understand that the folks who arrange the rooms have a tough job to do. Everyone wants the best views, the upgrade to a category above what they have, a place near the elevator, a place far away from the elevator... it's always something, I know. I just asked if something else might be available. The woman with whom I spoke was a bit abrupt and let me know that the more expensive rooms (we booked a studio) had the better views of the Magic Kingdom. Okay, was there something on the other side of the building, at least? On the third floor. And the view was more direct? It's lower. Could I see the room? No, that wasn't possible.

So, feeling a bit disappointed, and chastising myself for not doing more homework on where the MKV studios actually were, I went down to the desk to work out the swap. On the way, I walked by the wing on the third floor with the proffered room. As far as I could tell, it was below the treeline on the Space Mountain side of the park, and there was no way that I would say we would be better off there. So, I'll just say we'll stay put and be done with it.

If the room-arranger-woman was abrupt, the CM at the front desk of the Contemporary with whom I spoke was downright rude and condescending. I let him know the story up until that point, and that we wanted to stay put, and he shushed me and called someone on the phone, after laughing at a couple of instances when I was relating what happened. I do not know who it was, but from the parts of the conversation I heard, whoever it was just rehashed the same story I had just told him. A great deal of the time, though, he was actually turned away from me, whispering with the person on the other end seemingly to mask the conversation from me.

When I was working the front desk of a Days Inn, I would never have treated a guest the way this CM who worked at one of WDW's premier resorts treated me. What's more, after he sent me back up to the room with new keys, the new keys did not work. We went through several iterations to get the keys working, and I actually ended up talking to a manager about how badly things had gone. He nodded a lot, but I never, ever got any sort of apology for any of the problems. Apologies are easy and cheap, and would have gone a long way to make me feel a little better about the experience. No such luck.

But, we (okay, mostly I) shook it off and headed off to the Magic Kingdom to try to get some of that magical feeling back. There's something about walking down Main Street USA that feels like coming home, and keeps us coming back. Getting to MK in the afternoon is not the optimal touring strategy, but it is a nice way to get acclimated to WDW. We walked around, rode some rides, settled down, enjoyed the sun, and then headed back to CR for Chef Mickey's.
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432
DEA is offline  
|
The DIS
Register to remove

Join Date: 1997
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,000,000
Old 07-11-2011, 08:33 AM   #3
ZFamily5
DIS Veteran
 
ZFamily5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Illinois
Posts: 855

I'm first! Can't wait to read more!
__________________
- Dad - Mom - Thing1 (Me! 16) - Thing2 (13) - Thing3 (8)
2011 TR:
12 Days of Disney = 1 Happy Family!
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2750029

2013 Disneyland Paris PTR:
Pixie Dust in Paris!
http://www.disboards.com/showthread....2#post47067772

2013 Disneyland Paris TR:
"She Ate Human!"
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3135334
ZFamily5 is offline  
Old 07-11-2011, 11:06 AM   #4
ChattaAlley
DIS Veteran
 
ChattaAlley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Posts: 764

Excited to read more.
__________________
Allison

With a little bit of PixieDust anything is possible . . .
ChattaAlley is offline  
Old 07-11-2011, 07:39 PM   #5
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Day 1, Part 2: Chef Mickey's

I tried to involve the family in planning as much as my Disney-control-freak tendencies would allow. My younger daughter (DD4) piped up when I asked where people would like to eat (and because I am normal, I asked about this about 9 months before our trip... you know some of you do the same thing...) with, "Chef Mickey's! And we should go the first night!"

Well, I am all for rewarding people who have strong feelings, so we rode the monorail from MK back over to CR, grabbed a drink, and waited for our reservation time.

This has traditionally been a good meal for us. We started out a little shaky this time, as they tried to seat us before taking our picture. This caused some consternation amongst the younger set, but they were able to get us photographed and then seated. Dinner was good, and the characters were a big hit with the girls. They also enjoyed that they were encouraged to stand up and wave napkins around during a meal. So much for all our training in manners...



All in all, it was a good experience. The food was fine, and varied, although nothing really stood out as a must-eat. In a scientific poll conducted after our vacation was over, the responses from the single-digit-aged family members indicated that this may not be a must-do restaurant next time we come back.

It was a quick trip back to BLT after dinner, where we checked out the Top of the World Lounge viewing platform and headed back down to our room for fireworks. I will have to admit that the left side of the balcony was not such a bad place to be as the fireworks started.

One thing they don't put in the promotional materials for BLT, though, is that if you have to be out on the balcony, you will get the added ambience of the car alarms in the parking lot going off when the heavy ordinance explodes during Wishes.
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432
DEA is offline  
Old 07-11-2011, 08:01 PM   #6
afwdwfan
DIS Dad #460
You should always make room for a loophole when you need it
 
afwdwfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Indiana
Posts: 10,061

Saw your link in DDC and just wanted to say I'm in.
afwdwfan is offline  
Old 07-11-2011, 08:22 PM   #7
FreezinRafiki
DDC 322
Cold enough for ya?
Shocking, isn't it. Oh, wait, thats a taser
 
FreezinRafiki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Racine, WI
Posts: 5,980

I'm in too! Sorry about the mess with the room. I can't believe they treated you like that!
__________________
FreezinRafiki is offline  
Old 07-11-2011, 09:34 PM   #8
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Day 2, Part 1: Akershus and Away...

For all 4 years of family trips, the first full day of park visits has started with the Princess Storybook Breakfast at Akershus Restaurant in Epcot's Norway pavilion. I am a big fan of this character meal, finding it to be a better value than CRT to get the DDs their princess fix. I like the food, as does the rest of the family, and it's a nice, relaxed meal with lots of princesses and Belle as the featured princess... I like having the focal princess be one who is known for reading.

So, we thought it would be easy: Monorail to TTC, monorail to Epcot, walk to Norway... The fact that the monorail was not working so well caused us a lot of stress, starting with a very slow ride to the TTC, where we were informed that we would have to take a bus over to Epcot.

As an aside, we brought strollers with us on this excursion; it's easy with the monorail... much easier than with, say, a bus. So, this was a not-so-magical start to the day.

It got better. We made it to the restaurant in plenty of time, even with the monorail problems. We even had time to take some photos of the girls before breakfast.




Then it was time to go inside to meet our hostess.



I wish I could say that I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, but I had a mission: Soarin' FastPasses. Everyone in the family was finally tall enough to ride this year, and, well, you know how crazy it can get over there. So I dashed over to Soarin', got the FastPasses, and headed back to get a little more breakfast before we headed off into the park. And into the Butterfly Garden:



And then on to Soarin'. I think our experience is best summed up by this direct quote from DD6: "THAT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!" You hope that your kids will like these things once they get the chance to do them, but to have the experience exceed your expectations like that is even more amazing.

After this, we took our time around Epcot. A little shopping, a character meet-and greet. You know this guy, right?



Then it was back to the hotel. We had another first scheduled for dinner that evening: Hoop Dee Doo Revue. Would nature try to kill us on the way, though?
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432

Last edited by DEA; 07-12-2011 at 06:36 PM.
DEA is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 08:05 AM   #9
afwdwfan
DIS Dad #460
You should always make room for a loophole when you need it
 
afwdwfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Indiana
Posts: 10,061

Well, I've had a chance to read through everything so far. Sorry about the room and the MKV situation. Kind of disappointing. That's really very un-Disney like the way they handled it.

Looks like you're off to a pretty good start, despite the BLT and monorail issues. Way to pack in those character meals!
afwdwfan is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 08:28 AM   #10
leslie826
Mouseketeer
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NoVA
Posts: 440

Enjoying your TR so far! I'm looking forward to seeing which things your DDs like best, since mine are the same ages . We're also from Nova...Glad to hear the drive isn't too bad. We're still contemplating driving/flying...
__________________
Me DH DD8 DD6 DS3
leslie826 is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 12:15 PM   #11
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Thanks to you who have tuned in so far, and for the kind words about how the room situation was handled. Having worked at the front desk of a hotel, I know that it is sometimes the only chance you get to present a human face to the guest's stay, and this guy really made me think that CR/BLT are really not for me. Other folks there were perfectly reasonable people, but all it takes is one bad interaction.


leslie826: Flying from here with four people is expensive enough that driving makes a lot more sense. The girls are good passengers as long as they are fed a constant diet of snacks and DVDs, so it works out well for us. It is a long time in the car, and if the kids are at all iffy in the car (get carsick, have to pee every 30 minutes, fight constantly), I know we would just suck it up and fly.
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432
DEA is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 02:09 PM   #12
Captain_Oblivious
DIS Dad #257
Don't underestimate your audience. I'm sure there's a fart joke in here somewhere
 
Captain_Oblivious's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Delaware
Posts: 7,714

I'm here and all caught up! Sounds like the BLT desk was a pain. Sorry you had to put up with that. I'm surprised the customer service wasn't better. So un-Disney-like.

I'm starting to wonder if the monorail doesn't need an overhaul as well. There seem to be a lot more mechanical issues with them than there used to be.

Anyway, good job on the Soarin' mad dash. Sounds like it was totally worth it!

Hey, when do we get to the part where that idiot DisDad shows up at Downtown Disney but never bothers to coordinate a meetup with you?
Captain_Oblivious is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 02:29 PM   #13
jamiesmom07
Mouseketeer
 
jamiesmom07's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Meadville, PA
Posts: 302

Your girls are adorable. Can't wait to read the rest!
__________________
Jan. 11-Jan. 14, 2014 -CBR
Nov. 29-Dec. 7, 2013 - POFQ
Nov. 23-Dec. 1, 2012 - POFQ
Nov.25-Dec.3 2011 - POFQ
April 2010 - POR
April 2003 - All Star Movies
jamiesmom07 is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 06:36 PM   #14
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
I'm here and all caught up! Sounds like the BLT desk was a pain. Sorry you had to put up with that. I'm surprised the customer service wasn't better. So un-Disney-like.

I'm starting to wonder if the monorail doesn't need an overhaul as well. There seem to be a lot more mechanical issues with them than there used to be.

Anyway, good job on the Soarin' mad dash. Sounds like it was totally worth it!

Hey, when do we get to the part where that idiot DisDad shows up at Downtown Disney but never bothers to coordinate a meetup with you?
Soarin' was such an unknown.... would they be scared? Underwhelmed? But it was great.

I think the early monorail shutdown that were just announced may be part of trying to do more maintenance on them during the off-hours. It seemed like, that early in the morning, they just hadn't been able to clear some problem before operations started. So, yeah, definitely need a bit of an overhaul on the system.

There are no idiot DisDads, just DisDads trying to juggle their responsibilities and making sure they have time with their own families. Sorry we couldn't meet up, though.
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432
DEA is offline  
Old 07-12-2011, 07:58 PM   #15
DEA
DIS Veteran
 
DEA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 1,469

Day 2, Part 2: HDDR, or "Why have we never done this before?!?!?!?"

I have a confession to make. We, a very Disney family, had never attended Hoop Dee Doo Revue. It has been my secret shame, chuckling along to inside jokes made by HDDR veterans while not knowing the secrets that went on inside Pioneer Hall. That had to be rectified.

We were in a good position to get there. From CR, we could take a boat straight across Bay Lake and end up mere yards from Pioneer Hall and HDDR. No problem, right?

I do not have a picture of the storm that rolled in right as we got on the boat, but if you remember that scene in Ghostbusters just before the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man shows up, it will give you a rough idea of the atmospheric conditions. The captain of the boat pressed on, and we managed to get under cover outside of Pioneer Hall just before the downpour started. And soon, into the Hall itself.



We spent most of the next couple of hours laughing, singing, and repeatedly asking ourselves why we had never done this. I loved it, my DW loved it, both girls loved it and still quote some of the jokes. I highly recommend this show for everyone, except for people who hate America and kick puppies for fun. It may not be their cup of tea. No, seriously, it a fun show, and good for, I think, all ages.



The food was basic, and good. I liked the fried chicken better than the ribs, but both were well received by the whole family. It's not fancy, but it is familiar, and tasty, and complement the show nicely. I don't feel like I'm doing a good job getting across how well it all works, but just go.

The ride back to CR was much less frightening. The storms had passed, and we had a lovely trip back over. I enjoy the water transportation at WDW more than I ever expected to. Definitely better than the buses (shorter trips), and, well, we discussed the monorail earlier. Just a little observation...

And so, Day 2 ended with a very tired family. Day 3 had some more firsts, both for the kids and for the whole family. Including... THE KITCHEN SINK!
__________________
--
Me DW DD(9) DD(7)

DIS Dads Member #432
DEA is offline  
 



Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates
GET OUR DIS UPDATES DELIVERED BY EMAIL



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:41 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 1997-2014, Werner Technologies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.