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Old 01-24-2014, 12:52 PM   #1
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Al and WDWs "Weekend" Trip - Jan 2, 2014

Starring Alacrity (Me!) and wdwtheplacetobe (my Honey Bunny!) aka Dave and Mel!

We had just gone in October for our 6th Anniversary trip so imagine my surprise upon getting home from that trip when Wdw up and says "I have a three day weekend in January, we're goin' to Disney!". "Umm...K." says I reaching for my favorite flight looker-upper app. Besides, we haven't been at Disney to see the Christmas decorations for a couple years and they'll just barely be up still. Being DVC members (before we met even) we have a room lined up in short order; at Saratoga Springs. Not our favorite place to stay but it's what we can get and, really, we haven't given it but one stay so, OK. We also waitlist for Wilderness Lodge Villas (which we really like. Didn't come through). Soon we have flights booked and a rental car lined up. We don't usually use a rental car but since this is a short trip we figure we can get around quicker that way. So, we're set, late arrival January 2 and back home late on Sunday the 5th.

While we're waiting for January to roll around we find that we get to use Magic Bands this trip! Hopping online and getting things set up for them isn't as smooth and polished as it could be (yet) but with just a little clicking we get things set up and the app downloaded to my phone too. I get a blue MB, she gets pink, labeled "Al" and "WDW" on the back. We also set up the FastPass+ (actually we did this a couple weeks later sitting in a Famous Dave's BBQ joint. Neat!). Not sure we really like these. On the plus side you don't have to rush off to the FP machines at rope drop to get Toy Story or Soarin' at a reasonable hour. On the down side you can't just wander up and decide you want to grab a FP for something. Making changes in the app doesn't seem any too easy (yet) and we had some issues with doing it. It is still in test and I guess it is the way of things though. If you like things planned out in advance you'll like it!

Our Magic Bands:

So, MBs in hand (and APs along too just in case the MBs zone out) we hop on the plane after work and get to Orlando about 10:30pm, easy peasy. I would say quick and easy but Wdw used to live in Houston and could get to MCO on a direct flight really quick like. One of the things she's had to get used to (and reminds me about regularly) after moving to be with her Illinois boy with just a regional air port near by is a total lack of direct flights and at least 4 to 6 hours travel time to MCO! Sorry my dear. Love ya!

We carried-on for the trip so getting out of the airport to the car is pretty quick. The car is waiting in the stall (Hertz Gold is nice if you can get it. I have it through work otherwise it's probably not worth the cost unless you travel a lot). Off to Saratoga Springs! In the car on the way you would have heard "got any change?" "change, what for?" "The tolls" "Oh sh...ame". Fortunately, even that late, the cash booth was staffed! Checking in no problems really. The Magic Bands are a little iffy about linking to the room key but work after a couple trys. Again, not as smooth and polished as it could be (yet). They did open our door though and it's off to dream land. We're off to Magic Kingdom tomorrow!

Last edited by Alacrity; 01-24-2014 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:57 PM   #2
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MK and Beyond!

Welcome to sunny, warm Florida! You may have heard this little slogan somewhere along the way. Bosh! It seems we must have brought a bit of the Illinois cold (did I mention it was cold back home?) with us to "sunny", "warm" Florida. Cause it's not. Not warm anyway. Not today. Some sun but very chilly. Traveling light we had left the heavy jackets at home but had some light ones with. Wdw, always the optimist when it comes to Disney weather, left hers in the room. But, considerate hubby that I am, I had packed both a fleece and a jacket in the back pack just for this occasion (OK so I brought them both in case I got cold and wanted anther jacket. I'm a cold wimp). She got the fleece anyway at the TTC and was much happier!

By the way, while we usually use Magic Express and Disney transportation, we did bring the car this morning. I haven't driven at Disney for a number of years but let me say that the signs on the Disney property are very informative and will get you where you want to go, no problem. They are also a lot closer to the turns they are indicating that I'm used to. After zipping past the turn you wanted this way a couple times you get used to it. Anyway, we had a small adventure driving to MK. Also, being used to the way the buses go, I figured I could get to MK...to the bus stop at MK anyway, which, is not where you should go. About the time we hit the intersection to go to the Contemporary, the Poly or Wilderness Lodge we figured it out and got a nice drive past the Poly and back around to the MK parking lot! Again, Disney makes it pretty easy to get back on track and soon we were parked.

We haven't taken the tram for ages so that was kinda fun. It was here that WDW decided that yes, it does, in fact, get cold in Florida and leaving her jacket in the room may have been a mistake. Recall the above paragraph and how nice of a hubby I am. And prepared to keep my honey warm!

We hopped the ferry to get across to MK. Chilly. Windy. Ah, nice jackets! We noticed the construction going on at the Poly for the coming DVC Villas. Modeled on the over-the-water-huts of Bora Bora and other exotic places, they should be very nice. We're hoping to stay there one day. Anyway, I grabbed some video on the way over and WDW snapped a few pics too.
(By the way, full size versions are at our "weekend" trip album

Poly construction:

Me taking vids (and getting frostbit fingers):

Makeing this vid infact! (If this works...oh, turn down the sound, I didn't edit out the wind noise. There's quite a lot of it...)

Our first Magic Band experience goes without a hitch. Poke 'em at the Mickey Mouse Icon thing, they turn green and we're in. Our MK habit is to take a left at Casey's, pass Crystal Palace and do Pirates first. Today we figure we'll grab a hot chocolate at the Main Street Bakery/Starbucks. They have good hot chocolate. And a good plan except for the line coming out the door and back down Main Street! We elect to by pass that and end up at Aloha Isle (home of the Dole Whip) who happen to have hot chocolate too! Disney makes a pretty good hot chocolate and it goes great with the Florida "warmth" this morning.

Walking on towards Pirates we notice that the Jungle Cruise is still the "Jingle" Cruise and the line is not to silly. So, we make an exception to our usual habit and do the cruise first thing. The queue has decorations all over the place which is nice. There are few other places where the Christmas decor is still around but, maybe because Christmas is past, it's not too much of a stand out. Maybe during Christmas time the "Jingle" is more emphasized. Today though, it's just nice to see.

A few of the usually characters on the cruise:

Now we can go do Pirates before our first FastPass+. But no! Pirates is down currently! We're really messing with our usual Disney thing this morning! No matter, we have a FP+ for Sunday before we head for home so we'll be back. So where to now? We chose to do Enchanted Tales with Belle as one of our FPs since neither of us has seen it yet. We take a leisurely stroll over that way, though Fantasyland, and make it well with our FP window. In we go and we get a Wow! moment. Not to give stuff away if you haven't seen it yet, but lets just say the effects are really neat! The story is cute and you get a nice sit down time too.

After Tales, lunch time. We have an ADR for this evening but not lunch today but, we're right by "Be Our Guest" so we try a trick we've read somewhere. If you get in line just before opening you can often get in pretty quick. We have 20 minutes and hop in line. The trick works and we have lunch after a very reasonable wait. We sit in the "Rose Room". We both have the "Croque Monsieur" (grilled ham and cheese) with the Masters Cupcake and a Chocolate Cream Puff. Good stuff!

Our next FP is for Splash Mountain. Given the temps we elect to change that. Getting on my phone we make the change to Haunted Mansion. This is where we find that the app still needs a little work. When we go to HM the CM tells us that one of us has HM the other still has Splash. The CM fixes it for us but there does still seem to be some bugs yet to be worked out with the system. Our next FP, Thunder Mountain, works just fine though there is even a line for the FP line! Seems it's a little crowded at the parks this time of year!

The rest of the day is spent shopping and hitting a few other attractions including the rail road (which was down list time we were here) and meeting Dusty, Cast Member and our Adventures By Disney guide when we went to Italy this past May with ABD (Viva Italia tour). WDW has kept in touch and we have a nice chat with him when he has a break!

Dusty and WDW:

Pretty soon its time to get to our dinner ADR for the evening at California Grill. I got WDW to go to CG last trip (just after opening after the remodel) and we really like it. This time is no exception and it may be well on its way to replacing our previous favorite Disney restaurant, Bistro de Paris. We had one of our earliest dates at the Bistro and had dinner there after our wedding. We've gone back every year for our anniversary but, the Bistro is now Monsieur Pauls and we're not sure about it. We'll have to give it another go I suppose but our last trip there...wasn't bad but it has changed somehow. Anyway, Cali grill is delicious. I go the sea food route and have a sushi appetizer (which is plenty big for a meal maybe) and the Sea Food stew. WDW has a nice salad and (I think) Scallops. Desert: The Seasonal sampler for me and Chocolate Pudding cake for WDW (I think). It's all yummy!

And on the way out, our second "celebrity" of the day. After making a quick stop to drag the jackets out of the backpack we head to the elevators passing a couple folks on the way. I ask WDW if she recognizes the one lady there. Nope. It's Deb Wills who runs AllEars.net, a Disney info and Blog site we've used for years and direct all our friends to when they need info. Check it our if you haven't. We say hi and chat all the way to the parking lot. It was nice to meet some top notch Disney people!

Deb Wills and WDW:

Back to Saratoga Springs. Tomorrow is an Epcot day!

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Old 01-24-2014, 01:00 PM   #3
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It's an Epcot Day!

Off to Epcot. But first, a close up of the back side of water!

Today we're up and off to Epcot. It's much warmer today! I got my fleece back and WDW actually brought along her jacket! Still a little cool to start but it's bound to get warmer!

We are a bit surprised to find a line at the turnstiles. This is a busy time of the year (still new years week) but it also looks like the Magic Bands are hit and miss to get in. CMs are helping out and if the band doesn't work there are folks with iPads with scanners on them to check again. WDWs MB works just fine but mine chooses to be finicky. Pretty soon we're in, though, and making that stroll under the big golf ball!

We've got our first fast pass scheduled at our usual first stop, Soarin', but we're early and make another usual, and potentially dangerous, stop at the Art of Disney. Sometimes we do find something to stick on the wall in here. This time we find a painting of Mickey as a Gondolier in Venice. This one catches our eye as early this year we we're able to go on a trip to Italy with ABD. Venice was one of our stops (and WDWs favorite city we visited). We're not sure where we'd put it but if there was also a Rome and a Florence to go along with the Venice we probably would have had to have the whole set! As it is, we just look today!

Off to the Land and we still have some time before the fast pass. Breakfast calls! Just a couple pastries and H2O/Coke. As we walk though the Soarin' queue we really appreciate the FastPass! the main line is backed up with better than an hour wait. We may only get to ride just once this trip but that will hold us!

After a little shopping at MouseGears we make our way into the World Showcase. Counter to our habit, we go right (queue left is our motto!) But we do have a reason, ADR for lunch at the Rose and Crown. It's been a good long time since either of us have eaten at the R&C and we wanted to pay a visit. Checing in a little early, we get one of those pager doo-dads and wander through the shops. It isn't long and we're at our table. WDW orders the fish and chips, I go with the Ploughmans lunch. All pretty good and WDWs chips/fries are really tasty! Not yer average french fry!

After lunch we head on around the showcase, stopping in the shops and just strolling. In France we encounter the a guy doing the pack mule role of Dads (and men everywhere) proud! Toting a big ol' backpack with three cups and a Mickey hat. His wife was amused when we walk up and told im what a good job he was doing!

On around the showcase we eye the Maelstrom but it has quite the line (and our fast pass is for Mission Space) so we move on for a trip down El Rio de Tiempo...er...Grand Fiesta Tour...whatever. By this time we're a little weary. We had the goal of staying for Illuminations but weary wins out. We hit Missions space on the way out (Orange for Me). WDW has a thing about not really wanting to see lunch again so waits outside. It's then off to the bus and back to Saratoga Springs where we grab dinner at the Turf Club Grill (yummy) and visit downtown Disney.

Tomorrow is supposed to be our last day and we're headed back to the MK then home in the afternoon. Or so we think.
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Old 01-24-2014, 01:02 PM   #4
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Going Home (?)

Sunday morning and it's nice and warm out! Real Florida weather! It's also or last day or morning anyway. Flight home is at about 4:30pm so we pack up, toss the stuff in the car and head for the MK. We figure we'll wander around a bit, grab some lunch then head off to MCO.

Now we're not entirely cut off from the outside world and we know there has been some "weather" back home. Like the biggest blizzard in 20 years kinda weather. Snow, wind and way sub-zero temps. Up to this morning, no flight cancellations. We're not too surprised, however, while pulling though the parking gates at the MK, we get a call from Delta. Our ATL to BMI flight has been canceled. But kudos to Delta, they called us early, sent an email and rebooked us for flights tomorrow. Good job Delta!

What better place is there tho have your fights canceled? We're at Disney! We have another Disney day (yea!) So, as we work though the line at the parking booths we formulate our plan: We'll call DVC Member Services and get a room (membership has it's privileges ) and we'll get the rental car extended a day. No problem. So sitting in front of the Magic Kingdom as the Monorail whooshes overhead, we get on the phones. I call DVC, WDW calls Herts and in about 15 minutes we're good to go! Our extra night will be at the Wilderness Lodge Villas!

Off we go back to the MK. Today we have FastPass+ lined up for the morning, Pirates and the Haunted Mansion of course! I don't remember out third...Philharmagic maybe? Dunno. Anyway they all go well today and as we walk from Pirates to HM we contemplate lunch! Oh look, Liberty Tree Tavern! We have no ADRs today as we we're just going to grab something quick before heading to the airport but now...well, it doesn't hurt to ask. It's before opening at LTT but we check with the hostess to see if they have anything open and manage to score a table at about 11:30! Perfect! A trip to the HM and a stroll back to LTT and lunch es served! I have the soup and a burger and WDW goes with the Pot Roast. While we eat WDW also notices the "tankards" the drinks come in and takes a liking to them. As we fnish up she asks if they are for sale. Of course they are and for 5 bucks each it seems like some kind of Disney bargain! Now we have to tote them all the way home but they are now some of our go-to cups!

A last look at Main Street and a last look at the Christmas garlands, we've been told the new parade is too tall to allow these next year!

After lunch we head to check in at WL Villas. We wanted to stay here this trip but they were full up. Nice to get there even for just one night! Checking in is no problem and we drop our stuff, have a short rest and plan for the rest of the day...Epcot! In short, we get to ride the Maelstrom today and have dinned that the new bakery in France. Very busy but also durn tasty. We also make it to watch Illuminations tonight! Something we haven't' done for a few trips and since it is one of my favs, a nice chance to see it.

Back to WL for some sleep and prep to go home. Again.

Our view at the WLV:

In the morning I fully expect another flight canceled call but it didn't come. On the way to the airport, no call, no email. Check-in and boarding passes printed; all looks good. Now we should have taken a hint when we were offed the opportunity to be bumped on both the Memphis to Atlanta flight and the Atlanta to BMI flights (our rebooked route). But, no, we hope to get home and don't take the bump although things still don't sound any too good there.

It's not until our arrival in Memphis that we find the BMI flight has been canceled again! Bother! Should have taken the bump and had another Disney day. Off to Delta customer service. As it turns out most of the mid-west is still shut down. It also turns out you can't get there from Memphis and the Delta rep has issues booking us on anything (non-kudos Delta and non-kudos for not letting us know early this time!). As much as we dis-like the Atlanta airport (we both have bad experiences there) it seems wisest to keep our flight to ATL where there are more choices and service reps who know how to use the system it seems. We know were going no where so we grab some barbecue and book a hotel in Atlanta for the night before boarding our flight to ATL.

In ATL we hit the service lines and get book for a late flight home tomorrow. And jeesh! It's cold here! Freezing in fact! That "Polar Vortex" think is all over the place! Off to the hotel. Nothing fancy (Hampton) but they do have a nice breakfast in the morning and I have Hilton points so it's cheap. We debate visiting the aquarium or something in Atlanta for the day but elect instead to go to the airport this morning and try our luck getting on an earlier flight to BMI, stand-by). As it turns out, this is the way to go. After lunch and a long wait we're finally on a flight, that last two stand-by seats. We arrive home about 6 hours before our booked flight!

We also find that our friends have been watching out for us! They have texted to give a call if the truck doesn't start or if we're not dressed for the weather and they'll give us a ride. They have also cleared enough of our drive way so that we have a spot to park at home (no easy task, our drive way gets 3' drifts). But, the truck starts, we have jackets enough to make it though the cold and the streets are clear enough to get around. And it is good to be home!

A last link to all the pics for the trip, larger size included!
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