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Old 01-31-2012, 01:19 PM   #1
Ducky4Disney
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Never Too Late To Post - My Trip of Firsts 9/2011 - Auto Train & CBR *Update 2/6

Ok, I loved doing the joint TR with MEK for our Sept 2010 WDW trip, and it even inspired me to write a PTR for my Sept 2011 trip which I named A Trip of Firsts. I told myself I was going to write a TR as well but I couldn't bring myself to do it, I don't know why . I think there were several things that factored into my non-TR.

1. The trip was just ok and I don't think I wanted to admit that. I know, that sounds strange for a WDW trip, but I think I had it built up in my head to be some sort of grand event and it was fun, but so very different than trips past.

2. No follow-up trip in sight. It makes my heart ache to go through the pics write about a trip when I don't know when I'll be going back!

I was talking with DH the other day about how much I'd like to go this year to WDW. Tomzilla is older, AJ is big enough to ride SO MUCH, and... well I don't need more. I just wanna go back! And he said "So plan a trip".



I said, "Don't toy with me, mister!" and he said "No really, why don't you plan a trip. You're always good at finding deals and you know I like going to WDW, so start planning."



SO! I am in the early phases of planning a trip and we're going to take the Auto Train again. Which got me to thinking... I never wrote a TR and let everyone know how AWESOME the AT was!

Let's get started.

D4D

Last edited by Ducky4Disney; 02-05-2012 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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Auto Train - Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL

This is our first trip with 4 passengers, so after weighing out all the options, we decided to try the Auto Train! DH was a bit skeptic, but I laid out all the prices and factored in the convenience of the AT and he went with it.

First, you drive to Lorton, VA. For us it's about a 3 hour drive, not bad. We got there early, showed them some ID and then drove up to where they put a number on my car, walked around it with a video camera to document all pre-existing damage, then placed a cover over the seat, mat on the floor, and drove it off; after we got all of our carry-on's out (kids included).

There was a very nice security lady with a bomb sniffing dog named Jude, and she gave both boys a playing card with info about Jude. Very sweet gesture and also a nice safety feature - and easier than airport security!

Since we arrived early, we had some time to kill before boarding and we explored the station. A nice place to wait, lots of seats, clean bathrooms, and a shop where you can pick up everything from books and magazines, snacks and drinks, to all of your travel necessities.







There's a playground here, but it wasn't great to be honest. The jungle gym was all metal stuff that would get hot in the sun and would make a nice bump when a kid falls off.






A little superliner with the real thing behind it!

As we waited on the platform to board, I found a very interesting sign.


Get this. The kids were scared of the train, from the outside anyway It made whoosh, hiss, and whistle noises that they did not like. Tomzilla even asked to go home! Once we boarded though, they fell in love!

We had a family bedroom which was AWESOME! It's on the lower level of the train and takes up the entire width of the train car. The best way to describe it: like traveling on your couch!





Here's a good pic of Tomzilla and not a good pic of AJ.

And here's a good pic of AJ and not a good pic of Tomzilla!

I should find a way to blend the two pics together.





Next up - Train necessities and wine and cheese hour!

D4D
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:26 PM   #3
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Still on the train!

Once we stowed our stuff we went exploring and found out that there was wine & cheese hour going on in the lounge car! Remember, the boys were scared of the train from the outside, and you'd think that walking between cars would be equally frightening - NOPE! The boys loved walking on the train and opening the sliding doors. AJ would get one then Tomzilla would open the next. He'd hop through, raise his arms in triumph and exclaim, "I did it!"





Wine and cheese! And crackers, cookies, and other nibbles. Nice big windows and comfy seats to hang out in. I can't remember why, but they were using a different lounge car than usual on this trip. Maybe it had something to do with the hurricane that had just passed through. In fact, the day we left was the fist day the train had operated since! WHEW! Anway, we went back to the room, played all the games we brought, got up - sat down - got up - moved over - opened and closed the table a bunch, and then it was dinner time. The only pics I got were with my cell phone, and on a bouncy train they were terrible. Here is the menu anyway:



And the big fight was always over which kid would get to sit next to me. Unfortunately, AJ lost and had to sit with Daddy.





The food was ok. Not the best I've ever had, but better than a lot of travel food. But the wine just flowed! Our server was Tom and he would refill my wine glass with quickness and regularity they made it all worthwhile! Not like I was driving anywhere.

We had arranged to have our room turned-down while we were at dinner so we came back to a bedroom.


The lower child berth and lower adult berth make a large L. Tomzilla was fascinated by the ladder. Up and down and up and down...


The head of the lower adult berth. My DH is a big guy, 6'7" tall and 340# - but he had plenty of room to sleep, no problem there!


AJ got the top child berth which had its own reading light and carry bag where you could a book or water bottle.


Everyone is on my bunk now. I felt like a kid again sleeping in bunkbeds, which was pretty cool. It's a low ceiling, be careful when sitting up! Next time I might bring a memory foam mat to lay over my bunk. It definitely wasn't as soft as DH's.

Here is the all-time MUST BRING for the Auto Train - A POWERSTRIP!



There is one outlet in your room and that was great 15 - 20 years ago, but not now in the age of cell phones, laptops, cameras, and everything else we travel with.

The Sanford station has a much nicer playground!




When you get off the train you get to play a sort of Car-Bingo. When we arrived in Sanford, our car was unloaded pretty quickly. I think we waited maybe 20 minutes. However, when we got back to Virginia we were one of the last cars unloaded! From what I gathered it's hit or miss. Getting there early doesn't mean your car comes off first!

I can't wait to take the train again!

D4D
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:07 PM   #4
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Where We Stayed - CBR


Alas, we sold our DVC contracts last year due to an anticipated school loan on my part. Things didn't pan out they way we planned and grad school did not materialize but the sale of our beloved DVC was done and over So this was our first trip staying non-DVC in years and we picked a moderate we hadn't stayed at before, CBR!

What a nice resort - and HUGE! First thing DH says is "Where's the elevator?"... Um, honey, there is no elevator. That did not please him!

Tomzilla, the 2 year old, quickly dubbed this "our blue house" and when he wanted to go home he would specify this. Here's why:





We had a nice corner room with two big windows and looked out over the lake. So much to see! Beaches, boats, and walking paths - oh my!

I always try to take pics of the room before we mess it up, but it takes about 2 seconds us to make a mess of it!









We weren't sure how to work sleeping arranges with 4 of us and only 2 full size beds. Should DH get a bed to himself, I sleep with one boy, and the other take the blow up kids bed? Would the kids agree to that plan? We played it by ear every night. The plan was for me and Tomzilla to share one bed while AJ took the blow up bed, but at first they both wanted the blow up bed, then niether of them wanted it and slept with me. Which means I had kid feet in my back , my pillow hogged, the covers removed, and I'd eventually get up and move to DH's bed until Tomzilla would wake up and cry becasue I wasn't there. It was less than ideal but we managed.

One of these days I'll have enough time to explore the resort in detail. The heat and kids made that difficult this time.















The walk over to Old Port Royale wasn't bad and I really liked the food court there. Big and spacious with lots of choices. We ate lunch there almost every day and never had to repeat a meal. While on the walk back to our room, AJ saw this and exclaimed, "Look Mom, a mouse hole!"









One afternoon, we went to the kids playground at CBR and it was very nice. Too bad it was about A MILLION degrees that day! Way too hot to stay for very long and enjoy it. I'll load those pics up later, I but I know got these 2 on the way back.





I think I'll talk food next.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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Opa!


Kouzzina was our first meal and a FIRST for everyone except me. I have to say, DH was very impressed with the food and service here. It has made our must-eat list (that list is getting pretty long).

I had the lamb ragu with saffron pasta.... YUM! I can't wait to have this again.


DH had the fish. And I mean the whole fish! Can't remember details other than it involved... a fish.


The kids had pizza and apple slices, which they enjoyed quite a bit. And we started collecting these little beauties:




I had the mega-smoothie, which was promptly heisted.


For dessert I had coffee creme brulee, which was yummy.


DH had the baklava, which was alright if I remember.


The boys had ice cream - you can see how that went!




D4D
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:30 PM   #6
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Why didn't you tell me you were writing a TR? A simple pm would have worked.

Great pictures from the auto train. It really does look like a great experience and I'm glad you are doing it again.

You got some great pics of CBR. It really is a pretty resort.

So tell us more about the upcoming trip. When? Where?
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:34 PM   #7
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ps. great pics of the kids - especially TOMZILLA and the mega berry smoothie. What made you think you were going to get to drink that?
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Sorry Gaston, They are MUCH More Interesting than You!
Will You Chill Out if I Sprinkle You With Pixie Dust?

Remembering 9/11:MEK Original
Why Not Just Queue Up Another Disney Trip?
How Do You Think We Stay So Happy?
Inching My Way Closer to the Castle Sept 10 TR
Wheeling & Dealing at the WL May '10 TR
Play'in It at Pop Sept 09 Anniversary Trip
JUNE 09 TR...KICK'N IT AT KIDANI DH & I do Disney Solo! DEC 2008 June 2008 tripreport
My Trips 2002-Offsite 2003-POR 2004-Royal Pacific/Daytona Bch 2005-CBR 2006-Pop, SSR 2007-ASM 2008-Pop, Vero Bch/SSR, POFQ/SSR 2009-Kidani/CSR, Pop 2010- VWL, BLT 2011-POR/BCV, Disney's HHI Resort, OKW2012-Treehouse villa/BWV, VWL/BWV 2013-HHI, Secret off site location;BWV/AKL 2014- Tampa, ASSp/BCV, OKW
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MEK View Post
Why didn't you tell me you were writing a TR? A simple pm would have worked.

Great pictures from the auto train. It really does look like a great experience and I'm glad you are doing it again.

You got some great pics of CBR. It really is a pretty resort.

So tell us more about the upcoming trip. When? Where?
Well, I wasn't gonna do a TR but now that I'm pre-planning a trip I started to go through pics and thought I would see what I could do.

It depends on if I get into school or not... my whole life depends on whether or not I get into school. And it isn't looking good, but if that's the case then I'm thinking early October! I've been number crunching different resort options and we're leaning towards the new Art of Animation resort. It looks like a value-version of DVC. Besides, I have 2 young boys and the opportunity to stay in a CARS room! 'Nuff said!

D4D
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:35 PM   #9
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Epcot... Lots of Epcot

Here is another first for us: a trip without Park Hoppers! Yikes! One park per day, I didn't think I could do it, but with careful planning of meals and pool time it worked out. We spent a lot of time in Epcot. I don't know how that happened, and while the kids liked it there I think I need more MK next time.

We waited in line (not a long one, thank goodness) at the Character Spot for this:

Poor Tomzilla was frightened of the characters and that made Pluto sad. AJ would meet the characters, no problem, but like brothers will do, he decided to act like his brother and feign fear.



Later on, I asked AJ if he wanted to meet more characters and maybe get thier signatures, he tells me "Mom, they're not even real. They're just disguises!" Way to totally burst my bubble, kid!

We explored the Imagination! pavillion, and had fun.






Where we bought these fun toys:

Light-up wands! Which become swords until someone gets hurt.

Looking through my pics, I can see we explored Germany and Italy and had dinner at the Biergarten. Then I got to play with my gorilla-pod and the sunset mode on my little camera (gorilla-pod = super-bendy tripod - MEK you need one of these!)






I had arranged for a Disney Florist in-room surprise, Mickey's
Grand Welcome and when we got home, Mickey had visited our room and decorated it! Now if only I could find all the pics. I think DH took some on his small camera, but I don't know who downloaded them. I have a few here. I'll list all the items in the surprise later, but it included some pirate items - hats, an eyepatch, treasure, and a map.











More later!

D4D
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:59 PM   #10
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There is a sunset mode on your camera? What? Well, it worked. Those are very pretty pictures. I've heard of the gorilla pod.

I'm glad the one park per day worked. Cute surprises for the kids back at the room. Tomzilla is afraid of the characters and AJ knows they're not real? You really do have your hands full.
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Sorry Gaston, They are MUCH More Interesting than You!
Will You Chill Out if I Sprinkle You With Pixie Dust?

Remembering 9/11:MEK Original
Why Not Just Queue Up Another Disney Trip?
How Do You Think We Stay So Happy?
Inching My Way Closer to the Castle Sept 10 TR
Wheeling & Dealing at the WL May '10 TR
Play'in It at Pop Sept 09 Anniversary Trip
JUNE 09 TR...KICK'N IT AT KIDANI DH & I do Disney Solo! DEC 2008 June 2008 tripreport
My Trips 2002-Offsite 2003-POR 2004-Royal Pacific/Daytona Bch 2005-CBR 2006-Pop, SSR 2007-ASM 2008-Pop, Vero Bch/SSR, POFQ/SSR 2009-Kidani/CSR, Pop 2010- VWL, BLT 2011-POR/BCV, Disney's HHI Resort, OKW2012-Treehouse villa/BWV, VWL/BWV 2013-HHI, Secret off site location;BWV/AKL 2014- Tampa, ASSp/BCV, OKW
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:22 AM   #11
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We did get to MK once, but it wasn't enough. Need more MK time!



Poor Tomzilla was not his regular happy self. He was cranky and whiny - more so than usual, but not exhibiting any real signs of illness. Was it the heat? Just the change in schedule? What is wrong with this boy?



He wasn't fond of the teacups (or "teapots" which is what he insisted they were)


But chocolate ice cream made him feel a little better.


He perked up for Phillarmagic and AJ liked it too!




Other fun MK things:




I NEED this!



And we got this for late night snacking, but I forgot that without the kitchen utensils I'd usually have in my DVC Villa, how was I to cut it? I ended up using the saw blade of DH's swiss army knife

Ah, here are the pics from the playground at CBR. It was SUPER HOT that afternoon, so we didn't stay too long.











Then it was dinner at Chef Mickey's! And another bout of paralyzing character fear for poor Tomzilla.





And a cute anniversary treat!
\

D4D
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:02 AM   #12
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OMG - Tomzilla looks like he's close to full panic mode on the teapots...er I mean cups! Poor thing! I'm glad the ice cream did the trick!

Yeah for dinner at Chef Mickey's! Everyone likes quite happy, even TZ who hates all characters.
__________________

The Empty Nester's Magical Mystery Tour I Told You Driving Was Bad for Your Health

Sorry Gaston, They are MUCH More Interesting than You!
Will You Chill Out if I Sprinkle You With Pixie Dust?

Remembering 9/11:MEK Original
Why Not Just Queue Up Another Disney Trip?
How Do You Think We Stay So Happy?
Inching My Way Closer to the Castle Sept 10 TR
Wheeling & Dealing at the WL May '10 TR
Play'in It at Pop Sept 09 Anniversary Trip
JUNE 09 TR...KICK'N IT AT KIDANI DH & I do Disney Solo! DEC 2008 June 2008 tripreport
My Trips 2002-Offsite 2003-POR 2004-Royal Pacific/Daytona Bch 2005-CBR 2006-Pop, SSR 2007-ASM 2008-Pop, Vero Bch/SSR, POFQ/SSR 2009-Kidani/CSR, Pop 2010- VWL, BLT 2011-POR/BCV, Disney's HHI Resort, OKW2012-Treehouse villa/BWV, VWL/BWV 2013-HHI, Secret off site location;BWV/AKL 2014- Tampa, ASSp/BCV, OKW
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