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Old 05-31-2011, 12:30 AM   #1
Belle83
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Our Crazy, Awesome, Imperfect Trip (May 2011)- Updated 8/21

Our Crazy, Awesome, Imperfect Trip


Hello! This is my first ever trip report, so please bear with me while I get this thing going. We just returned from our trip, and it definitely had its fair share of ups and downs. All in all, we had a blast and I'm sorting through many pictures (750+ ) to pick some to post here. Here are the basics to get started:

When: May 21, 2011 - May 30, 2011

Hotel: WDW Dolphin (and the Crowne Plaza by MCO thanks to Delta)

Where: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, Kennedy Space Center

Who: 2 adults (27) & (34)

About Me: I'm 27, and took quite a few Disney vacations with my family growing up. This was my 4th trip to WDW. My last trip was when I was 20, in 2004.

About Him: My BF/SO is 34. We've been together 5+ years. This was his first trip to Disney World! When he was about 11 years old (1988-ish), his family went to Disneyland for one day, and he hasn't been back since.

Why: A long overdue break from being adults. We celebrated my SO's 34th birthday during this trip, but we didn't intentionally plan our trip around it.

Title Explanation: We did a lot of things "wrong" during our trip. We missed our flight, slept in nearly every morning, missed dining reservations, spent the entire day at parks with EMH, had severe knee issues...but we still had a great time!


Table of Contents:


Day 1 - Saturday - May 21, 2011
Part 1: Traveling to Orlando - Missed flights, tornados, and stress...oh my!

Day 2 - Sunday - May 22, 2011
Part 2: Hotel Room Swapping - Falling in Love with the Dolphin
Part 3: Downtown Disney - Finally at Disney!
Part 4: Magic Kingdom - Extra Magic Hours for Night Owls

Day 3 - Monday - May 23, 2011
Part 5: Another Hotel Upgrade - Our New Awesome Room/Suite at the Dolphin
Part 6: Animal Kingdom - How many times can we ride Everest?
Part 7: Hollywood Studios - Is there a knee surgeon at WDW?

Day 4 - Tuesday - May 24, 2011
Part 8: Magic Kingdom - Hotel Time, My Favorite Park, & Dinner at California Grill

Day 5 - Wednesday - May 25, 2011
Part 9: Islands of Adventure - Betraying Disney
Part 10: BoardWalk - Alone Time at Disney's BoardWalk

Day 6 - Thursday - May 26, 2011
Part 11: Universal Studios - Facing Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Part 12: Islands of Adventure - Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Part 13: Shula's - Birthday Dinner at Shula's

Day 7 - Friday - May 27, 2011
Part 14: Epcot - World Showcase and Lunch at Rose & Crown
Part 15: Epcot - Future World
Part 16: Epcot - Biergarten, Illuminations, and More Rides

Day 8 - Saturday - May 28, 2011
Part 17: Kennedy Space Center - First Trip to Kennedy, Dinner at Garden Grove
Part 18: Magic Kingdom - Wishes & Electrical Parade

Day 9 - Sunday - May 29, 2011
Part 19: Kennedy Space Center- Leaving the Dolphin and our Second Trip to Kennedy
Part 20: Leaving Orlando? - Our Extra Night in Florida

Day 10 - Monday - May 30, 2011
Part 21: Home - Back to the Real World

Dining Reviews
Part 22: Quick-Service Dining Reviews
Part 23: Table Service / Signature Dining Reviews



Last edited by Belle83; 10-14-2012 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:38 AM   #2
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I'm in!

I also took a trip when I was 20 (and it was 2004, too). Glad you got to go back this year. Excited to read more!
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:46 AM   #3
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Tyrone and I tried to get tickets today, in our lunch break, on our phones I have been trying to post pictures of our spring break trip.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:39 PM   #4
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Part 1: Traveling to Orlando - Saturday 5/21 (Day 1)
Missed flights, tornados, and stress...oh my!


As soon as the suitcases came out, our lab knew something was up. He was not happy!



Our flight left around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday 5/21. We had a rough time getting to the airport. My SO had not really slept for a few days because of work, and I was frantically trying to get ready for the trip (packing, cleaning the house). We left about 30 min. later than I wanted to leave, and then my SO had to stop for Starbucks Of course, it had to be a Starbucks where the people running the counter were making drinks out of order and forgetting about people's drinks...so, it took forever. We got to the airport and paid for the expensive close parking, because we didn't have time for anything else. We got to the check-in counter with 45 minutes to go...well, 43 minutes, actually. Apparently Delta requires you to check in bags 45 minutes before. (I've never cut it that close, but I was under the impression that most airlines would let you do it up to 30 minutes before the flight left..). So, we missed our flight to Minneapolis (our layover on the way to Orlando).

Thankfully, there was another flight leaving in a few hours that they put us on for free that would get us to our flight to Orlando on time. We made it to Minneapolis, but then tornados delayed our flight to Orlando. After a lot of waiting, our plane arrived for Orlando. Thankfully we had the whole row to ourselves (yay for extra space!). After arriving in Orlando, we went to pick up our rental car and drove to our hotel, the WDW Dolphin. We checked in at the Dolphin around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday 5/22. Needless to say we were grumpy, tired, and exhausted. Walking into the Dolphin was a breath of fresh air. The lobby smelled wonderful, and it took less than 10 min. to get checked in. Our room was on the 8th floor on the west side of the hotel.

This was our room:



When we got to our room, I discovered we had been upgraded to a room with a view of Tower of Terror and Hollywood Studios, plus the resort pool. We paid for a standard view room w/ double beds, so that was a nice surprise. The room was a little smaller than I was expecting, and so was the bathroom area, but the beds were so comfortable and the view was awesome. The hall outside the room smelled weird. I had read reviews of the area smelling musty, but my SO thought it smelled like new car scent. It wasn't bad, just weird. We had a late dinner at Picabu, the hotel's 24/7 cafeteria. I had the chef salad and some chips...the salad was meh, but our options were pretty limited at that point. We both bought the resort's refillable mugs ($13 each).

Last edited by Belle83; 06-10-2011 at 04:05 AM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:57 PM   #5
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Joining in!

Talk about a rough start to the trip! Glad you guys made it there safely!
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Old 05-31-2011, 04:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctink23 View Post
I'm in!

I also took a trip when I was 20 (and it was 2004, too). Glad you got to go back this year. Excited to read more!
Thanks, it was great to go back! It's always fun to see others my own age around here, too


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifelong_Dreamer View Post
Joining in!

Talk about a rough start to the trip! Glad you guys made it there safely!
It was definitely a rough start, thank you! Unfortunately, we had an even tougher time getting home (but more about that later...). Still a great trip overall.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:15 PM   #7
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Part 2: Hotel Room Swapping - Sunday 5/22 (Day 2)
Falling in Love with the Dolphin

Like I said before, we were beyond exhausted when we arrived at the Dolphin for our first night. We ended up sleeping in until 3 p.m. on Sunday 5/22 (we are from CO so this felt more like 1 p.m., but still).

This is the view from our first room, that we woke up to! I'm not sure the room #, I think it was 8508? It was on the 8th floor, west side. It was great, considering we only paid for a standard view room.



We were close to the pool, which would have been great if we had kids. This is as close as I came to the pool, though.


Aren't these cute?


Sitting area by the window of our first room.


Overall the room was nice. It was quite a walk from the elevator, but near the pool and Picabu. We decided that we wanted to try to get a king sized bed, because the double sized beds were a little too small for the two of us to share. We didn't want to spend our first vacation together in separate beds. So, back down to the lobby we went:



The hotel upgraded us for free, *again*, to a king sized bed room with a resort view. It was room #3199, a corner room at the very end of the hotel. The 3rd floor is the same floor as the lobby, but it was quite a long walk from the lobby. I don't have a picture, but because it was an end room, our bathroom area/closet area was much larger. Our new room was also on the west side of the hotel, so convenient for Picabu and the pool.

Our second room:


View from our second room:


We would have been very happy staying in this room, but we ended up only staying here for one night...



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Old 05-31-2011, 07:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great pictures!!! After so many visits from 1994 - 2006 I haven't been back for 5+ years. I know they are always updating rooms but loved seeing what they look like now. Can't wait to see room three.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:10 PM   #9
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Part 3: Downtown Disney - Sunday 5/22 (Day 2)
Finally at Disney!


Originally, my plan for our first day was to visit Animal Kingdom and have dinner at Yak & Yeti. This plan went out the window when we slept in until 3 p.m., so the day was pretty much open. We drove down to Goodings to pick up some toiletries, snacks and drinks for the hotel room, and wine! After that, we went to Downtown Disney for a late lunch/early dinner.

This was my first trip with a rental car, it was so convenient! Here's our rental, a Ford Escape. We loved having the car, especially because it had Sirius.


So nice to be here!


We didn't have dining reservations anywhere at Downtown Disney, but I remembered Wolfgang Puck's Express being really good. We finally found it, but it was closed So we ate at Pollo Campero. I was pleasantly surprised by the food there. I had the citrus grilled chicken wrap, and my SO had chicken with rice.

After we ate, I headed over to Basin. I have a love/hate relationship with this store. I hate it for being such a blatant knock off of Lush, and a horrible experience with their online ordering a few years ago...but I do love being able to buy that kind of stuff in Downtown Disney.





A gorgeous night:


We never made it inside, but my SO loved the 'special effects' of Stitch spitting water...


My new goodies from Basin:


My SO was definitely impressed by Downtown Disney, and I could tell that he was already *getting* the whole Disney thing.


Last edited by Belle83; 05-31-2011 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:33 PM   #10
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Both rooms look nice, I am curious what the reason for the next room change will be!
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:58 PM   #11
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Your dog is adorable!

I'm glad you finally got there, even with all of the flight issues. I am also curious about the next room change. Sounds like you got a good tour of the hotel!
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:25 PM   #12
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Part 4: Magic Kingdom - Sunday 5/22 (Day 2)
Extra Magic Hours for Night Owls

After walking around Downtown Disney for a while, we went back to our hotel to relax for a little bit. We had dinner at Fountain, which was probably one of the cheapest table service meals we had during our entire trip. My BLT was delicious, and my SO's cheeseburger looked great too. A great restaurant if you're staying nearby.

We weren't planning to hit any theme park that day, after our airline fiasco and sleeping in, but my SO found out that Extra Magic Hours were that night at Magic Kingdom from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. (technically on Monday 5/23, but I still consider this part of Day 2), so we decided to head over. This was my first trip to MK in a rental car, so I wasn't really sure how the whole TTC/monorail worked. It took longer than I thought, I think it would have been quicker to take a bus from our hotel. We arrived at MK around 1 a.m. and went straight to Tomorrowland.

The line for Space Mountain was about 40 minutes, so we grabbed Fast Passes for it and waited in line for Astro Orbitor.

Took this while waiting in line for Astro Orbitor:


Same with this:


Astro Orbitor:


In all my previous trips, I'd never bothered with Astro Orbitor. The line took longer than it should have, or maybe it felt that way because you're just waiting outside. The breeze was nice on the ride, and the view was pretty at night, but the ride was not something I'd be sad about missing in the future. We checked out Buzz Lightyear after (no wait!), and then went on Space Mountain with our Fast Passes.

My SO loooved Space Mountain. After that, the park had pretty much emptied. We rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and then Space Mountain again without any waiting at all. Splash Mountain always makes me nervous to go on, a flashback to my childhood I suppose, lol. We did quite a lot in those 2 hours!


I took these pictures of the castle on our way to Space Mountain (our last ride for the night).





It was so nice to just walk onto the rides without any line, and MK is so pretty at night. When the park closed at 3 a.m., we took our time hanging out by the castle. It was pretty romantic, if I do say so myself.



A picture of Main Street on our way out. Gives you an idea of how empty it was by that point.



Last edited by Belle83; 05-31-2011 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:34 PM   #13
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I LOVE MK's late EMH. We have done the 12-3 am twice and it was so amazing. Just this last Sunday we were there until 2:45 am. My dd and I just sat and watched the castle and listened to the music. There was a slight breeze and it was just so magical.
Sounds like you had a rough start but its getting better.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:46 AM   #14
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Part 5: Another Hotel Upgrade - Monday 5/23 (Day 3)
Our New Awesome Room/Suite at the Dolphin


This was definitely a highlight of our trip. After our late night at Magic Kingdom on Sunday night, our phone was ringing early on Monday morning (5/23). It was the front desk, who began by asking if we had noticed that we were the only ones on our floor/wing (we hadn't, lol). He said that they were doing fire alarm testing/replacing that morning in that section of the hotel, and that we were put in that room by mistake. He told me that they had to move us, but that they would be moving us to a nicer/bigger room and giving us a voucher for a lunch/dinner at one of the hotel restaurants for our "inconvenience" (lol).

So, after a little bit of hassle listening to the fire alarms and waiting for the bellman, we were brought to our new awesome room. Again, we'd only paid for a standard view room with two double beds, so this was a huge deal for us and a wonderful surprise. Room #7095 was our new home-away-from-home. It was in a great central location close to everything, it had a king sized bed, a living room, a mini kitchen (with a sink/fridge), two closet areas, and the bathroom had two sinks (one in the shower area, one outside), which was extra nice because our first two rooms only had one sink. Oh, and it was huge!

View from living room:


View from bed of entry/living room:


Kitchen area:


Views from the room:








So, that's room #3! Not bad huh?


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Old 06-01-2011, 01:24 AM   #15
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Wow! Now that's an upgrade!
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