Christmas Time at Disney Pt: III (Dec 10-17 2014)

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by BDL, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Hello all:

    Like the title says, this will be our 3rd trip to WDW at Christmas time. There is just something about seeing the whole resort decked out for the holidays. Our 1st trip down, I went down with a girlfriend, and came back with a fiance'.

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    Our next trip, my future mother-in-law and sister-in-law joined us.

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    And we got to share with them all of our experiences.

    This trip, it will be just me and my better half going down (though the future sister-in-law has reserved the right to join us down there with a friend).

    In this PTR, I will include our resort, itineraries, ADR's, events, wishlists for rides and merchandise and I'll sprinkle testimonials around.

    Thank you for following along.
     
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  3. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Cast of Characters

    Me: BDL

    I do tech support and A/V at a major company. I'm a die hard Boston sports fan. So much so, that I am pretty easy to pick out of a crowd. Look for the 6' 300+lbs Irish looking guy wearing either a Patriots or Bruins t-shirt or jersey. I had been to WDW twice as a kid (83 and 88). As a grown-up (ha ha), me and my friends would go down every other year in early May (after school spring break/before college graduation) for 4 day weekends. All my friends are my size or bigger. Our goals every trip were to rip it up at Pleasure Island (God... I miss PI), and to go on Small World together, for no other reason than to take in peoples' expressions as they see this herd of men WILLINGLY going on the ride. That was fun for us. Then we realized "Ummmmm... We're on Small World???" The past 2 trips have been with the woman I love. Speaking of which...

    Favorite ride: Star Tours
    Least favorite: Tea Cups (not too proud to say I get woozy)
    Favorite restaurant/meal: Boatwright's - crawfish bites/NY strip/angel food bananas foster
    Least favorite restaurant: Mama Melrose
    Favorite event: Osbourne Lights
    Why I love the Port Orleans Riverside: The serenity of the grounds gives a sense of peace in the morning and relaxation at the end of long day. The River Roost is a great place to grab a drink or 2 to unwind. And, did I mention how relaxing it is there?


    BDLsgal:

    She is an office manager for a contracting company. She is also a die hard Bruins fan (the Thornton departure is hitting her hard). She is the reason why we have Bruins season tickets. Irony of ironies, we found out that we were both in WDW at about the same times, both trips, when we were kids. She is definitely more worldly than I am. She has been to Italy multiple times for prolonged stays. The closest I've come is EPCOT. I love seeing her surrounded by Disney World at Christmas time. She is always so responsible, I like seeing her relax. I call it "Turning your brain off." Her favorite thing of the past trips is seeing the lighting of the Castle. Her eyes get so wide. We will be seeing it at least twice this trip.

    Favorite ride: Rockin' Rollercoaster
    Least favorite: Soarin'
    Favorite restaurant/meal: Tutto Italia - blank/blank/tiramisu
    Least favorite restaurant: Garden Grille
    Favorite event: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
    Why I love the Port Orleans Riverside: Because it is relaxing and laid back. It's not pompous feeling, but it isn't hokey either. Everyone is super nice, the grounds are gorgeous and we always feel at home there.
     
  4. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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  5. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Itinerary and ADR's

    12/10/14: Wed
    -Arrive at Port Orleans: Riverside and check in
    -Get situated in room
    -Board the water cab to DTD
    -Shop and have dinner at Raglan Road (6:30pm)
    -Yee Haw Bob at POR (possibly)

    12/11/14: Thur
    -Pre-rope breakfast at Tusker House (8:40am)
    -Safari, EE, Dinosaur
    -Possible mid-day break to change
    -Dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern (4:25pm)
    -Stage show and Castle lighting
    -MVMCP

    12/12/14: Fri
    -EPCOT
    -Soarin' (minus BDLsgal), Test Track, Spaceship Earth and Mission Space
    -Lunch at Tutto Italia (11:30am)
    -Take in Storytellers
    -Maelstrom (before it becomes Frozen themed)
    -Sample international "spirits" :drinking1
    -Hope to book Candlelight Processional dining combo (hoping for either Chefs De France or Teppon Edo)
    ***UPDATE*** Nailed it!!! Thanks to my fellow DIS'ers, word reached me that there was CP dining pkg booking today. Chefs de France (3:30pm)
    -Ride the E-ticket rides again thanks to EMH

    12/13/14: Sat
    -Breakfast at POR
    -MGM
    -Star Tours
    -Tower of Terror
    -Rock n' Rollercoaster
    -Indiana Jones
    -CS late lunch/dinner
    -Pixar Place
    -Midway Mania (we have yet to ride this)
    -Back Lot Tour
    -Osbourne Lights - Disney’s Hollywood Studios Frozen Holiday Premium Package
    -Yee Haw Bob at POR (possibly)

    12/14/14: Sun
    -Kona Cafe (9:10am)
    -Resort hopping - We love looking at the gingerbread structures
    -Pool/rest/nap
    -Dinner at Crystal Palace (4:00pm - hoping for a 4:30-5pm)
    -Watch the lighting of the Castle
    -MVMCP, again (We feel it is worth it)

    12/15/14: Mon
    -EPCOT - Attempting drinking around the world
    -Hoop Dee Doo Revue 4pm
    -Walk around Ft. Wilderness to check out the decorated campsites

    12/16/14: Tues
    TBD

    12/17/14: Wed
    TBD
    -Departure


    To be continued...
     
  6. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Testimonial #1:

    Before I can go any further, I have to sing the praises of my AAA travel agent. Without who, our vacations could have gone very differently. Janet has been my go to woman since I started planning our December 2010 trip, in January of that year. I went to AAA's site and put in that I was hoping to book at WDW vacation. Very quickly, Janet reached out to me. Now in 2010, I was a COMPLETE novice when it came to all things Disney. She patiently answered any questions I had, addressed all of my fears and offered her own opinion and experiences when asked about scenarios. Our 2010 trip could not have gone better.

    When 2012 came around, I sent an email to Janet to ask if I could use her again or if I had to go through the AAA site and be assigned to someone in the pool (I didn't want to get her in any trouble by circumventing any rules). She said she could take the point in our planning and got the ball rolling. In 2012, BDLsgal and I were accompanied by my future sister-in-law and mother-in-law. And all of us were hoping to book the POR-Royal Guest Rooms. I went through all the amenities, events and plans that we wanted, and I was able to book for both groups without a problem. The problems didn't happen until after we got to WDW. When we checked in, everything was in my package waiting for us at the counter. Except our PhotoPass+ stuff. I talked to the front desk, and they instructed me, that when we got to the park, to go to 1 of the photo stations and they will be able to help us. So we went to EPCOT and while the ladies went to Mouse Gear, I went to the photo station. They said that the resort would have to handle it. So I leave there and try to compose myself. I call Janet from my cell phone. She tells me to continue about my day, get a PP card (so that those pics will be added later) and that she would take care of it. By the end of breakfast the next day, she had a work around in place and said that she would track down what went wrong. It turns out that the PP+ got to the POR the day before we did. And since no one picked it up, it was sent back to central mail. We eventually did get the original package, which worked out for us. Because now, with 2 PP+ cards, we could split up and still get the ride pics added to our cards and then combine the pics later. And this just goes to show, you can not judge the measure of a person when things are at their best, but how they come through for you when the seas are choppy (you listening Lebron? :lmao: )

    After each trip, I have made a point to send and email to Janet's supervisor/boss/lead/whatever... to let them know what a great person that they have on staff, and that I will be using their services again because of her. Which we are doing right now.

    Thank you Janet. And for those of you that use agents, may you find 1 as good as she is.
     
  7. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    :lmao::rotfl::rotfl2:

    Plans look good. We book with AAA, and I have to say I've been extremely happy with our TA as well. Truthfully though, the reason we book with them is to get the AAA Diamond parking pass. That thing is a life saver for getting around with kids. I've heard rumors that it might be going away, so I don't know what I'll do if that happens. :sad2:
     
  8. AmyKat

    AmyKat Mouseketeer

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    Following along. Our dates are similar. We stayed at POR last time. We loved it and had planned to try POFQ this time. Couldn't pass up free dining so we're going to try CBR instead. Really excited about it now and hoping to get one of the new refurbished rooms.
     
  9. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Sorry that I've been away for a while. LOTS of stuff on the personal end that needed my attention. But in that time, BDLsgal and I are kicking around the idea of using 1 of our days down there to go to US: IOA. BDLsgal is a huge Harry Potter fan and saw the behind the scenes special a couple of weeks ago. So, if anyone has any testimonials of Harry Potter-land, please let me know.

    Also, in the time that I've been away, our local New Balance Outlet had a 25% off, tent sale. So we went down to get some new sneakers. I was lucky enough to have an associate that knew his stuff. He knew everything about the different sneakers I tried. Pros, cons and everything in between. So, I settled on getting 2 pairs, of differing style. Before I checked out, I asked him:

    "My fiance' and I are going to Disney World in December, which shoe would you recommend for the 7-10 miles of walking every day? The one with the firm, solid support, or the average support with spongy comfort?"

    After thinking about it for about 30 seconds:

    "Well, the firmer support will return the energy back to you as you step. But the spongy shoes may keep your feet from hurting."

    And then made a few more points and counter-points. And finally, said with a chuckle, "It basically comes down to what works for you." I laughed with him. It just goes to show, that even people that know their stuff, don't have answers for WDW.

    By the way, I'm bringing both pairs with me.
     
  10. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    I enjoy US, so I always like to go despite the Harry Potter stuff... :rolleyes1:lmao:

    Anyway, I'm not a Harry Potter fan and I have no idea what any of that stuff is, but it really is an awesome area. They did a great job theming it and really taking you away from the park that surrounds you. The only thing I'd mention would be that they have the original part in IoA but the new Diagon Alley part is in the original Universal park. So if she wants to go to see the Harry Potter stuff, you're probably going to want to see both parks to take it all in.
     
  11. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for the post. I didn't know that it was split between the 2 parks. Now I gotta research... Can I get in with 1 park ticket? Do I have to buy a ticket for both parks? Do they have a park hopper option? Or is there a special rate for HP?
     
  12. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    I have updated our itinerary. Still not complete, but I definitely filled in some gaps. And since I am in typing mode, I figured I'd do another testimonial.

    Testimonial #2: Port Orleans: Riverside

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    Way back in 2001, 1 of my buddies, got an idea that the group of us head down to Disney World. Now, being a group of guys in their mid-20's, we were kind of hesitant to this idea. But he kept persisting, and we agreed. He took care of all of the planning. He told us that he stayed at Dixie Landings for business convention and loved the resort. We trusted him, and got a little worried when he told us that the resort no longer existed and that we'd be staying at the Port Orleans: Riverside (the jerk never told us it was the same place). On arrival day, all the worry left us. Those of us that had never been there, were awe struck, once we saw the lobby and check in area. From that moment on, I was hooked on POR.

    I had been back there, every time I have gone to WDW, except once (I had no input on the planning of that 1). The grounds are so restful. Very laid back. You have the soothing Sassagoula River. The rustic Louisiana themed buildings. The fun area of the Ol Man Island pool. The living room comfort of the River Roost Lounge (with the occasional performances by Yee Haa Bob). The sheer beauty of the rooms (especially the Royal Guest Rooms). And, even though some people may complain about some of the walking distances around the property, I have never. Walking from the room to the main building in the morning is so peaceful. From the main building or bus stop at the end of the day... No matter how many miles you walked in the parks, the pain is reduced by your head being cleared, from the natural serenity.

    Another great feature of POR is convenience. There are 4 bus stops around the property. So if you are too tired to walk from the main building, just stay on the bus a little longer. Also, there is a complimentary water cab that connects POR and POFQ with Downtown Disney (if you don't like boats or weather does not cooperate, you can still take a bus to DTD).

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    Or, if you would like to pace yourself after returning from the parks, grab a beverage at the aforementioned River Roost or Ol' Man Island. But Ol' Man Island is not the only pool at the resort. There are 4 quiet area pools spread throughout the property.

    As for my personal opinion... I love it here. If I could I would buy a room off of Disney. From the time that I check in; by the time 10am rolls around the next morning, I've already forgotten that I have a job and all the stress that goes along with it. I love the romantic aspect of the resort. BDLsgal and I enjoy walking along the river and just admiring the grounds.

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    Also, in my opinion, Boatwright's, the on-site restaurant, is the best hidden jewel restaurant in all of WDW. It has some creole themed items on the menu. But when you look closer, they do, what I love all restaurants that do it. If you can make it more buttery, sweeter or saltier, go ahead. Mmmmm-mmm. My favorite appetizer is the crawfish bites. My favorite entree didn't survive the most recent menu change, but I am looking forward to trying either the short ribs, prime rib or sweet tea brined pork chops. Now we come to dessert. You can't go wrong with the pecan pie,

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    butterscotch creme brulee or bread pudding.

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    But the angels food bananas foster is amazing.

    There it is. The closer we get to Dec, the more I hope I have time to plan, update the itinerary and give testimonials.
     
  13. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Got some really cool news this morning. My best friend told me that he and his son (maybe his wife) will be down at WDW for part of the time that we will. And we'll all be staying at the POR. I can already hear Yee Haw Bob with all of us in attendance.

    My buddy, his wife and son were down there the same time we were during out 2012 trip. After a long day at the parks, he and I sat in River Roost watching the Pats on the TV; having a couple of drinks and eating nachos.

    I've already been felling excited about our upcoming trip. Now I'm amped.
     
  14. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    Sorry, I've been kind of hit and miss around the boards recently and I missed this entirely.

    They sell their tickets kind of like Disney. You can get a 1 day, 1 park ticket or a 1 day, 2 park ticket for an upcharge.


    Also, I love your testimonial for POR. I'd like to stay there sometime, but DW isn't entirely sold on it. Hanging out with some friends and watching Yee Haw Bob will be a lot of fun.
     
  15. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for the heads up. I think we are going to table the trip to Harry Potter Land. At least until we can hopefully budget a long "all Universal" weekend. And getting a park hopper-esque type ticket for Universay totally makes sense.

    As for the testimonial on POR, I'm glad you liked it. If you can find the time, if you have a night when you are going from the park to DTD, you may want to take a detour. Hop the bus to POR instead of DTD, walk the grounds for a few minutes and then take the water cab to DTD. A really laid back boat trip.
     
  16. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Testimonial #3

    Tusker House - Breakfast

    There are few ADR's that I prioritize more than pre-rope drop breakfast at the Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. For 1 thing, it has probably the widest selection of food options for any of the on-site buffet breakfasts. 2, it is a character breakfast that, in my opinion, has the best character interaction. And at the very beginning, you get a souvenir pic of you, your party, and Donald in safari gear. And 3rd, had nothing to do with the restaurant itself. Once everyone would get settled, I'd sneak out, run across the park, get fast passes for the group at Expedition Everest, and then run back to Tusker House (picture Tim Curry in the movie Clue. "Picks up the dagger. RUNS DOWN THE HALLWAY!") But back to the restaurant itself; Like I said, there is a wide selection to choose from. They have the usual assortment of breakfast meats and Mickey waffles. There are also carving stations, quiche, biscuits and gravy, and some African choices, like pap and bobotie. And (this was a surprise to me the 1st time we went there) a whole tray of Krispy Kreme honey dipped donuts. Now, this might not seem big to most of you, but up here in New England, Krispy Kremes are hard to come by.

    Ok. So you've checked in and are waiting to be seated. There is a nice northern African decor'd waiting area to wait for your buzzer to go off.

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    You get called, and get led around the back of the restaurant. Along the way, you get your complimentary pic with Donald.

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    They take you to your table and give you the complementary juice, YUM. Now you can go through the line and get your breakfast. You've got your 1st plate. If your like me, the 1st plate is the safe 1. You go for your favorites...

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    For example, Mickey waffles, tater tots, bacon, biscuits and gravy, and what's left of a Krispy Kreme

    Then, while you are eating, the characters will make their rounds. All of them in safari gear.

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    They make sure that they hit every table and there are times when they lead the children through the restaurant in a parade. The meal at Tusker House is always satisfying, and I have never felt over stuffed. So you don't have to worry about going on rides after breakfast. But if you are still worried, Tusker House's location helps there too. If you want to give your tummy some time to settle, the Safari is a stone's throw away from the restaurant. Enjoy the sights and sit back.
     
  17. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Booking update.

    I made a payment to our AAA TA the other day. A different kind of payment than most. This payment was completely comprised of Disney gift cards. Let me give you some background. Ever since BDLsgal and I got back from our 2012 trip, we started planning for this 1. And since we knew we were heading back, we decided to constantly give each other Disney gift cards to help off-set the lump payments. Christmas, Valentine's day, birthdays, Arbor Day, what ever. If there was a card involved, it came with a Disney gift card. What was really the big payoff was when BDLsgal coordinated my surprise 40th birthday party (she and my family duped me making me think it was trivia night at my Elks) and a majority of the gifts came in the form of Disney gift cards.

    So I gathered all the cards together. There were a lot of them. I emailed Janet, my TA, and asked her if it would make it easier if I copied down the card and PIN #'s and amounts on a spreadsheet. She was grateful. So I jotted down the card #'s, scratched off the PIN #'s, and verified the amounts online. All told, the cards added up to well more than $2000.

    Gifts helped to pay off a majority of our trip.
     
  18. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    YES!!!!!!

    It's finally double digit day. Whooooooo hooooo!!!!!
     
  19. Monoxide

    Monoxide Earning My Ears

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    Joining in to pick up some tips. This will be my first Christmas trip and I will be taking my daughter along for a graduation present. Will be there near the end of your trip and hope I can pick up a few tips or must see sight.
     
  20. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    Awesome plan to accumulate gift cards. That took a nice bite out the trip cost! :thumbsup2

    Congrats on double digits! Always nice to hit those milestones.
     
  21. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

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    Welcome aboard. Depending on your daughter, 1st bit of advice I can give you, try to get at least 1 pre-rope drop breakfast. If she likes the princesses, Akershus at EPCOT. Winnie the Pooh and friends, Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. The traditional Disney characters, Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. Not only do these meals get you a lot of 1 on 1 time with the characters, BUT, (and this is for people that could take or leave characters) there is just something incredibly "chest filling" when you are walking through the park and it's all your's. Especially with the Christmas decoration up.

    Tip #2, don't plan a pre-rope drop breakfast, the morning after trying to "Drink Around the World" at EPCOT. :crazy2:

    Thank you to both. It is a nice day. It's double digit day, I turned the page of my Disney calendar (BDLsgal makes a photobucket calendar every year with out Dis pics), and the pic for Sept is me, her and my future in-laws, standing in front of Magic Kingdom train station, with "Let the Memories Begin" in the background.

    We seriously can't wait.
     

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