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Old 05-04-2014, 12:55 AM   #1
FredQc
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A 36 y.o. Man's Solo Trip Report (May 2014) [Update: Coronado Springs Resort & DHS]

Long time reader, occasional poster, first time trip reporter!

This is my 7th solo trip to WDW. Over the years, I benefited so much from what other forum members had posted here, thus helping me to make the most of my vacations, that I want to share some information and viewpoints, with hope to bring some useful cues and ideas to other adult travellers, solo or not. As I am afraid to be too busy once I’ll be back home, it is my plan to do it “live” (as much as time and wifi connection allow it), with a daily update, beginning on Thursday, May 8th.



This is a 7-night stay at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (CSR) with a 8-day park ticket. I have stayed at Pop Century Resort (POP) once and at Port Orleans Riverside (POR) a couple of times. I would be back to POP whether I stay for a short getaway and don’t plan to spend time at the hotel. With regard to POR, it is a beautiful resort with a fantastic food court. However, as a solo traveller, I prefer CSR : it is more adult-oriented and buses are often less crowded than those on the POR routes. As I plan to spend time relaxing at the hotel and to do some activities outside the theme parks, I don’t have the park hooper option. I visited water parks in previous trips, but decided to not add this option this year to avoid being overloaded.

Food is a major component of all my Disney vacations and I monitor the available options on a continuous basis, through this forum and other websites, especially the Disneyfoodblog.com. While I have had good experiences with the Deluxe Dining Plan, I stopped to add this option to my package one year ago, as the plan became more expensive. Now, I find it too challenging to get enough value to justify the cost. So I would say that I eat in deluxe way, without the dining plan. To pay out of pocket is a way to get more flexibility and, at the end of the day, is cheaper. I provide a demonstration of this statement in a companion dining review available here (with food pictures!).

Furthermore, I learnt from previous trips that flexibility matters in a Disney vacation. On one side, I carefully plan it, filling an Excel sheet (days in columns, hours in rows) with the theme park I plan to visit (I select them inspired by Josh’s recommendations on EasyWDW.com), the FastPass+ attractions, some dining reservations (only 3 or 4 for the entire week), and other activities. Crafting this plan is a fun iterative process over the pre-vacation months, as new ideas arise and must be scheduled somewhere in the overall plan. On the other side, it is just a general guideline which allows me to don’t forget anything, but I need to be flexible to deal with unexpected events, opportunities, constraints, and feelings. I do cancel reservations and drop out some activities or FP+ along the way. As I have visited WDW several times, I don’t rush to ride as many attractions as possible. My main goal is to relax and to enjoy this beautiful place at the right pace.

The Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the MK and the Horseback Trail Ride at Fort Wilderness are scheduled. I also have advanced dining reservations at my favourites, Jiko and Flying Fish, as well as FP+ for a first-time lunch at Be Our Guest. While I have to wake up early some mornings, nightlife activities are also planned along the road. I don’t provide more information about my specific plans. Instead, I invite you to follow this live trip report in the forthcoming days.

Pre-trip: My Magic+ : Disney vacation in the big data era
Day 1: Arrival, Epcot, Flowers & Gardens Festival
Day 2: Relaxation at the Resort, Disney Hollywood Studios
Day 3: Miniature Golf, Animal Kindgom, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Day 4: Horseback Trail Ride at Fort Wilderness, Disney Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk
Day 5: Epcot and Epcot Resort Area
Day 6: Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Magic Kingdom, resort activities and Magic Kingdom at night
Day 7: Downtown Disney, Epcot, Boardwalk
Day 8: Magic Kingdom
My Magic+ Experience Summary
Transportation Summary

Last edited by FredQc; 06-14-2014 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 05-04-2014, 01:23 AM   #2
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YAY!! Cant wait to see pics and hear all about it. I just got back a month ago and still need my WDW fix!
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Old 05-05-2014, 08:16 AM   #3
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Sounds like you have some fun plans. I am trying to see if I'm brave enough to ever go solo, perhaps you will inspire me!
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August 7-11, 2009 - Went back for a long weekend with my brother to relive old family vacation memories.
May 8-11, 2009 - Long weekend at Coronado Springs

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Old 05-05-2014, 08:30 AM   #4
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As a 40-year old (albeit non-solo) traveling male, I'm interested to read this TR!

Not sure if I'll be reading it until after it's done, though....since I'll be living it. We get to CSR on Wednesday

We have two kids and still think CSR is the best. Such a nice layout, great pool, great restaurants, and never too crazy. Until we feel ready to drop the $$$ necessary for a deluxe, Coronado is the winner for us, five years running.

Have a GREAT trip!
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Old 05-06-2014, 02:34 PM   #5
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Years ago, rumors began about Disney's Next Generation Experience project. With a modest budget estimated at 1.5 billion dollars, speculations last several months about what the next gen experience might be. Now, it is known as "My Magic+" (MDE), a technological umbrella including the "My Disney Experience" application, FastPass+ and the Magic Band, among other things.

Of course, the Mouse hasn't spent all that money just to allow us planning our FastPass before our stay or to wear a wristband instead of using a room card. And Disney doesn't plan to make more money with that only because customers would spend less time in queue lines. My Magic+ is the Disney project for the "big data" era, that is, to collect and to store a large set of data, allowing some data mining in order to customize marketing strategies and to get more money from each guest. Before leaving home, I already experience this "next generation" project.

First of all, it is paramount for Disney to collect as much data as possible, so is the Magic Band, the tool which allows Disney to get all these information. Also I had an e-mail, a couple of days ago, to remind me that my Magic Band is waiting for me at my resort front desk.



The "Great news!" introduction made me laugh. It is not like I was very lucky to get one! (For U.S. customers, the Magic Band may be delivered at home, so data collection starts as soon as you arrive in the Disney bus area at Orlando airport. But poor foreign customers like me have to wait until we reach the front desk to be part of this exciting experience...)

Then, I also had an e-mail which offers me more spending opportunities. I never had a such e-mail before my previous trips. And also note which opportunities are offered:



You may note that all these suggestions are tailored for an adult-only trip. I may have a bottle of wine waiting for me in my room, I can plan a fishing excursion or other marina-based activities, or schedule a spa treatment. Of course, such activities may also be experienced with children or teens, but you get the point : there's no princess-related activities here. It is obvious that Disney used specific data to select what was suggested to me. In a comparative perspective, it would be interesting to know which opportunities were offered to other visitors.

Last edited by FredQc; 05-19-2014 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:04 PM   #6
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I'm in. I travel by myself to Disney all the time, although my next trip is a special trip with my niece. I can't wait to hear what a "single man" does at Disney!
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:54 PM   #7
FredQc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilla View Post
Not sure if I'll be reading it until after it's done, though....since I'll be living it. We get to CSR on Wednesday
I hope that your family and you will have a great time. If you read this during your stay, feel free to send me a private e-mail... or a may see you at the resort anyway!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilla View Post
We have two kids and still think CSR is the best. Such a nice layout, great pool, great restaurants, and never too crazy.
Have you ever eaten at Maya Grill for dinner? I haven't and would like to know.

This time, I plan to have a breakfast or a lunch at the CSR newest location, Las Ventanas, which seems to be a quiet alternative to the Pepper Market, according to this review from the Disney Food Blog.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:11 AM   #8
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That is an interesting email you received. I cant say that I have ever gotten one but its neat to see how it is tailored to you.
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:15 AM   #9
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Subbed, I'll be doing the same thing starting this weekend! I got the same email but my advertisements were a mickey flower pot, a wine and glasses package, and some kind of dress up tiara kit. For some reason Disney thinks I'm a gay, green thumbed, drunken cross dresser (not that there is anything wrong with that haha).
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:19 AM   #10
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I like the idea of personalized marketing and I am sure it will get better over time. The email must make counting down to the trip even more fun! I'm still not sold on the magicbands (one of the reasons I haven't gone to WDW this year), so I will be interested to here how it works for you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Almostexact View Post
Subbed, I'll be doing the same thing starting this weekend! I got the same email but my advertisements were a mickey flower pot, a wine and glasses package, and some kind of dress up tiara kit. For some reason Disney thinks I'm a gay, green thumbed, drunken cross dresser (not that there is anything wrong with that haha).
You should totally treat yourself to the tiara kit. Everyone deserves to be a princess at WDW.
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August 7-11, 2009 - Went back for a long weekend with my brother to relive old family vacation memories.
May 8-11, 2009 - Long weekend at Coronado Springs

August 2008 Trip Report: Disneyfied! Two sisters return to Walt Disney World after 21 years. (apologies for abandoning this)
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Old 05-09-2014, 12:39 AM   #11
FredQc
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Day 1

We landed at the Orlando International Airport after an uneventful flight. As soon as I left the aircraft, I went to the luggage claim area. While many people use Disney’s service which delivers traveling bags in room, I prefer to claim it and to bring it because I can unpack as soon as I check-in at the hotel. My luggage was already on the belt when I arrived.

Disney’s Magical Express : very short wait (less than 5 minutes). There is a new video on board, which appeared less funny to my eyes than the previous one.

I had processed the check-in online a couple of weeks ago, asking for a room in the Cabanas section, which is not as far from the main building as the Ranchos, and which is close to the hammocks. I was happy to get my room in this area, and the room was ready (1h30pm).

While at least two conferences were held at Coronado Springs Resort today, it seemed to my eyes that more vacationners are here than during my previous stays : a large number of people exited to Disney Magical Express at CSR, there was many people in the main pool and the Cabanas quiet pool, and many people waiting for the bus after the theme park hours (more below). One of the conference is organized by KPMG. It was strange to see men wearing suit and tie in addition to… their Magic Band! After relaxing and swimming, I went to Epcot.

Bus to Epcot : 20 minutes wait.



I arrive at Epcot past 5pm. Today, Epcot had the status of the "most recommended" park according to easywdw.com. I did three attractions, beginning with Spaceship Earth, which has a very short wait (less than 5 minutes). After watching the dancing fountains in the Future World hub, I showed up at the Soarin gate with a FastPass+. I can’t say how long was the wait for those who had a FP+ as I benefited of being a single rider : a cast member came up to the position where I stood in queue line, which was between the 2nd FP+ control and the A-B-C dispatch. Finally, I also had a FP+ for Living with the land, but there was not queue line, so I borded immediately.

As I walked to the World Showcase, I stopped by the Flower & Garden Fetival (F&G) Butterfly House, a tent which is large enough to cover a couple of paths. It is very interesting as different species fly all around the visitors, while they spend more time to visit the flowers which are numerous along these paths, like these queens.



A glass sculpture entitled «Flight of the Monarch», performed by Craig Mitchell Smith (Michigan) is also exhibited.



I had no reservation for the dinner. I was interested to eat sushis so I headed to Tokyo Dining in Japan. The cast member at the podium announced me a 30-minute wait. As I was very hungry, I changed my plan. I considered a meal at the new Spicy Road Table but I was afraid to not have more than some tapas. So I decided to tour the F&G kiosks, and I ate five items from various countries. Details are available in my companion dining review here.

I finally watched the Illuminations!, enjoying at the same time a sluch Grand Marnier à l’orange, a personal favorite. The show was slightly different than other ones I had attended, as some white comets were no longer shooted from the perimeter of the lagoon. I watched it from the back of the park (between USA and Japan), extending the amount of time I can be in that park and to hear the post-show musics, taking this picture along the road:



Bus to CSR : less than 5 minutes. People who waited their didn’t fill a full row in the waiting area, whereas more than three rows were packed on the next platform (Port Orleans Riverside).

Last edited by FredQc; 06-13-2014 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 05-10-2014, 03:55 PM   #12
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Looking forward to the rest of your trip report. I am leaving on Thursday!
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Old 05-11-2014, 12:27 AM   #13
FredQc
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Because a not-so-fast Internet connection which makes time-consuming picture uploads and, first and foremost, owing to a loaded schedule, I delay my detailed report after my trip.

Stay tuned!
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:34 AM   #14
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Enjoyed reading your review with pictures.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:10 AM   #15
FredQc
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Day 2: Relaxation at the Resort, Disney Hollywood Studios

On first full day at WDW, I often spend several hours at the hotel to relax and to enjoy the Coronado Springs Resort (CSR). As a solo adult traveler, I appreciate to stay at a convention resort. Families and children are less numerous than in non-convention resorts, so the area is more peaceful. However, I guess that current conventions were not very large as I felt that more people were in the pools and buses than during my previous trips. But it is obviously more serene than, for example, Port Orleans or value resorts.

I woke up around 10:00am and did fast walking around the resort. It took about 17 minutes to tour the resort, including the remote Ranchos area. Through the online pre-checking process, I asked for a room in the Cabanas area, which is between the main pool area (The Dig Site) and the main building (El Centro), and close to most of the hammocks near the lagoon. I enjoyed the landscape and I relaxed in a hammock.


A building in the Cabanas area.





Following a lunch at the Pepper Market (dining review here), I went to the Dig Site. Firstly, I visited the Arcade. Despite several previous visits, that was my first playing session in a Disney resort arcade. I had two 100-point vouchers in my package. In addition to these coupons, I brought similar vouchers from the booklets I had received for previous vacations. I had realized that arcade vouchers do not feature expiration dates (in opposition to all other certificates). I can confirm that all these vouchers were valid, so I could play to several games with paying extra money. Then, I ordered a drink from the Siesta pool bar and I sat close to the beach volleyball field, with a book. I finally refreshed in the "quiet pool" (in contrast with the CSR "main pool") located in the Cabanas area.







I went back to my room, took a shower, and went to the bus stop around 3:30pm.



>> Bus to DHS : 8 minutes wait.



Disney's Hollywood Studios (DHS) is a great park for thrill ride seekers (like me). I also like the atmosphere. As other Disney parks, DHS is filled with details. "Closer you look, more you see." And it is often easier to take time to look closely and to appreciate all the details Imagineers put inside theme parks when we are solo. For instance, although I visited DHS countless times, my attention had never been captured by the Oscar's (!) gas station located immediately on our right when we enter the park. It is not your standard wheelchair and stroller station, to say the least, and it nicely fits with the Hollywood Boulevard theme!





I had three FP+. The first one, at Star Tours, was not a good value as the attraction was walk on. I rode Star Tours twice in a row. The second one, for Toy Story Mania, had much more value since the posted wait time was 45 minutes. I was seated in a vehicle even more quickly as I was allowed, immediately after the second FP+ checkpoint, to proceed through the right side of the stairs. I didn't really understand the purpose of this single rider side, as I was seated alone instead of joining an odd-numbered party to fill an empty seat.


Details, details... : Sensors have been installed at all FP+ attractions. Each support is unique and was crafted to perfectly fit with its environment. Here is the second FP+ checkpoint at Toy Story Mania.

My third FP+ allowed me to experience Tower of Terror without wait time. My Day 1 FP+ experience at Soarin (see post above) and these DHS FP+ (as well as other ones during the trip) were more efficient than when I visited in October 2013, at an early stage of the implementation process of MyMagic+, whereas I had several wait times of more than 10 minutes with FP+.



Waiting for the opening of one FP+ window, I spent several minutes inside the One Man's Dream exhibit. I realized that one of early Walt's job was related to the railroad industry and read that trains leaving for destinations where he couldn't go fuelled his imagination:



There are several references to train history across Disney theme parks and even some resorts (especially at the Wilderness Lodge Villas). Here are details located at the corner of Hollywood & Sunset boulevards.





I had a nice dinner at the Hollywood Brown Derby. More details and pictures on my companion dining review here.

I finally rode Rock n' Roller Coaster once through the single rider line, but I am not sure that I saved a lot of time compared to the regular line. Single rider line is less effective at Rock n' Roller Coaster than other rides which provide this option.

I ended my visit with the Fantasmic! show. Unfortunately, I wasn't attentive enough to the schedule and I entered the stadium too early: I thought the show was at 8:30pm but the actual schedule was 9:00pm. I made the most of that time, writing notes about what I did since my arrival at DHS, so I can remember a couple of weeks later and write a specific report like this one! It is less stressful to deal with such unexpected delays when you are solo than in charge of a party. Following the show, I stayed in the stadium, waiting for the exit of the crowd and watching the army of cast members who suddenly appeared to methodically clean up the grandstands. I asked to one of them how many employees are deployed to clean the stadium. She guessed between 40 and 50. A couple of minutes later, I asked the same question to another cast member, who answered between 20 and 30. I think that the second answer is closer to the actual effective, which is nonetheless impressive!

I then walked, very slowly, through the exit ramp of the Fantasmic! stadium, then the Sunset and Hollywood boulevards. I really like this area, especially at night, and it is always painful to leave. I sat on a bench, I visited a shop, sat on a bench once again, watching the buildings, the people, and listening the background musics.







I exited the park around 10:15pm, almost two hours past the official 8:30pm closure (about 45 minutes after the end of Fantasmic!).

>> Bus to CSR : 12 minutes wait.

We were very few passengers in the bus and the driver also embarked guests of Animal Kingdom Lodge. He asked us what were the specific CSR bus stations we were looking for and he stopped only at these locations.

Last edited by FredQc; 06-14-2014 at 12:37 AM.
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