Suzy and Perla's Guide to Skipping Lines: the Last Journey of the Super Users

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by estherhead, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Perkins5

    Perkins5 I'm just a little Disney obsessed!

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    Yay I love reading your trip reports!
     
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  3. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    I promise to not just do t-shirts chapters first, I'll start the actual trip report and just drop in the getting ready chapters when I get them done. My kids started school yesterday. I thought it would be a great day, but not so much. It left me a little disconcerted.

    Welcome! Can't wait to get started and share. :thumbsup2
     
  4. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    Before our trip started, the making of the t-shirts. Mostly, just Suzy and I did these. The Monster ones my mom helped but she really hated it as it was labor intensive so I did the rest. Then the tye dye ones we had everyone over and had a big party so we could let them do their own shirts. I know Suzy and I could just do them ourselves but it's fun to watch the kids do it.

    http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/tie-dye-the-easy-way/


    Tye Dye has never been something Im good at, despite my normal easy way with crafty things, tye dye has always been right outside my reach of capability.

    Then I read about Tumble Dye and decided to try again. I will later be posting about Reverse Tye Dye with Mickey heads. You can use this exact same technique to make Mickey head Tye Dye t-shirts.

    [​IMG]

    So do ya? Wanna know what we did with them?

    When they were all done and out of the dryer, we ironed on the words Disney World 2013. We used Avery iron-on stuff and I very much enjoyed the way it looked. However, this iron-on stuff did not last past one washing. So I will be choosing a new iron-on company.

    Also, I recommend a few days after you make these, washing them and then doing the iron-on.

    [​IMG]

    You can see in the above picture Sienas tye dye shirt was started on the lower right hand corner so the bullseye center is there. Then on Tims it is in the center of his chest. Where ever you start your first rubber band is where that circle will be.

    The best thing about these t-shirts is they look good separate and in a crowd. Here we are taking a little ice cream break outside of Test Track.

    [​IMG]

    I am very pleased with Tumble Dye. I cant wait to try again, maybe this time adding the Mickey head. Even our kids were able to make their own and have them turn out cute. I will say it was VERY hot and we were all sweating like crazy and we had not washed them. Only one of them bled onto our skin a little bit. So it really does permanently dye the shirts. We have washed them since and they look great.
     
  5. KBrown88

    KBrown88 Mouseketeer

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    Awesome! Can't wait to see!
     
  6. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    I haven't even looked at my videos since I came back. :faint: To come home from Disney and two days later start school while still catching up on work was more than I bargained for.

    But last night I finally felt caught up and will start to post WAY more often. Thank goodness.
     
  7. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/disney-world-the-journey-home/

    [​IMG]

    Some people are destination people. And some people are journey people. Most in our group are destination people. The trip to Disney World is simply something to endure with its inspections and cramped seating.

    But not me.

    I’m a journey person all the way.

    Not that I don’t enjoy destinations. But I LOVE journeys.

    And it doesn’t matter if it’s to be by airplane or a long road trip. For totally different reasons, of course, I love them both. But for this trip we flew and so I will talk about my love for airplanes. I LOVE airplanes. I took my first airplane ride when I was 7 years old and I fell in love. You would think that it would have lost its allure. But every single time an airplane takes off I love it. Every time it’s like a miracle. Every time it surprises me and makes me happy. Even on long overseas flights, I never lose sight of the fact that I am a bird in the sky flying quickly to my destination.

    It’s a miracle.

    I know, it’s really science. Physics. I totally understand how it works. But that doesn’t change it, you know? It’s like a sunset. You can tell me that it is only colorful because of dust particles and the fracturing of light through the atmosphere. However, telling me it’s just dirt and light doesn’t take away that it’s so beautiful sometimes it steals your breath.

    So you can talk to me about lift and thrust, you can discuss jets and Newton’s Third Law of Motion. But it doesn’t matter. I only care about the physics so that I know it’ll work and I won’t die. The rest of the science doesn’t matter to me. It’s a miracle. And even if it is scientific, it’s a miracle that the universe has such firm laws that we can count on it every single time.

    A giant tin can filled with 100 people goes from zero to 160 mph in a few seconds and then goes into the air. Up, up, and away.

    It’s a miracle that airplanes take off the ground. And you won’t convince me differently. And every time I’m in one, I absolutely love it.

    This trip was no different.

    For my husband the packing and security check almost ruin this glorious feeling of being a bird. He hates with passion the invasion of his privacy and space. Hates taking his shoes off and being judged by an X-ray machine. But here, again, I’m a journey person. I feel so sorry for the security people, they have an important job and everyone hates them. We hate them for not trusting us and we hate them for not being able to stop terrorism. At their job you sincerely can not win. Because of this I feel it is my mission to smile and brighten their day just a teeny tiny bit. I almost always can get a smile from the security people. Mostly by smiling at them and being calm. I doubt they get many smiles.

    [​IMG]

    I also make my kids give them their tickets and talk to them. I have happy, polite kids and even the crankiest security guy can’t resist a 6 year old carrying a giant Dumbo with a huge grin on her face handing him a ticket.

    And for us we leave our home airport which is a REALLY easy airport to navigate, fly for just 2 hours, and end up at Orlando which is also an easy airport to get around.

    This trip our flight out of Columbus had no pilot so we were delayed for just under an hour. But I had a fun movie I was watching on my ipad and the kids were playing and having a good time. So I didn’t mind. Of course, I am a journey person. Some of the destination people were not nearly as happy.

    And the wonderful thing about Disney World is you leave home, take a fantabulous journey, and then are still home. Welcome Home. We hope you had a pleasant journey.

    Well, yes, yes I did.

    Tips for Flying to Disney World:
    Do not have reservations for dining or activities on your first day. For many, many people travelling is stressful. To add a time that you have to get somewhere puts you on a clock and adds an element of stress that is simply unnecessary. I often read people choosing to go to Downtown Disney on the day they arrive. Unless your plane lands at 10:00 am or earlier, I recommend still not having a dining reservation for your travel day. Your plane might be late, you could miss a connection, the Magical Express can have multiple stops and take an hour, it might take time to check-in, and the buses to Downtown Disney are slow and unreliable. You can always get dinner somewhere at Disney. There is no need to have a reservation on arrival day and add extra stress.
    Pack in your carry-on bag: bathing suits, one set of pajamas, a quart sized Ziploc with small toiletries and sunblock (under 3 oz), a park outfit, and shoes you can wear into the park. There could be a time lapse before you get your luggage. Or it could get lost. I’ve had lost bags before and though it is awful, they normally aren’t completely lost, just lost for a day or two. Your trip will only be slightly disturbed if you have park shoes in your carry-on.Without comfortable shoes, you will be very inconvenienced. For more packing see this.
    As always, don’t forget to eat and drink. Airlines don’t give you much anymore. And airport food isn’t outrageous. Plus, you can pack snacks. You must buy drinks once you are through security, but non-liquid snacks go through just fine.

    [​IMG]

    Coming up next is the walk from our gate to the Magical Express. Yup, I took photos. It'll feel like home to those of you who have been and hopefully be reassuring to those of you who have upcoming trips. :) I swear the Orlando airport gets better each trip.
     
  8. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    Here we are in our awesome t-shirts in Animal Kingdom

    [​IMG]



    For our Disney trip we made 6 sets of 13 matching t-shirts. By FAR my favorite was our Reverse Tie Dye Mickey T-Shirts. We have tried to tie dye Mickey head shirts before, with pretty much not that great of results. We fixed that this time by using Tumble Dye. You can read all about that here.
    (Although all of you have already seen this so no need to click.)
    But we saved the Mickey heads for this new to us project. The picture directions are below. If you guys want all the tips if you are actually pondering doing this project click here. And we got the basics by watching other people's YouTube videos. Just search for Reverse Tie Dye.

    [​IMG]


    Tomorrow I have a walkthrough of the Orlando Airport. Coming right up! Promised I would get to writing! :surfweb:
     
  9. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    I LOVE the Orlando Airport. I think it is a super great airport. Is it because it has Mickey Mouse all over? Maybe. But it also is because they have tried really hard to be user friendly. There already is so much practical stuff to be done at airports which is stressful. It's nice to have a little bit of care put into how travelers feel.

    The Orlando Airport is super awesome. It’s an easy airport. You know how so many times traveling with a baby (which is stressful enough) turns into even more of an ordeal when business-suit clad people glare at you and the airport people hate you. At Orlando things are different. They have so many people from other countries and families (and families from other countries) passing through that they actually treat them like they care. Even the security people seem to actually like their jobs despite having a zillion passports and tons of kids to deal with.

    [​IMG]

    The above photo is us getting on the plane. See? Families traveling isn’t such an awful thing. We add an element of fun to airplanes. Fun and perhaps some stickiness. Maybe some crying. A bit of screaming.

    But mainly fun.

    Below is my pictorial guide from the gate to the Magical Express.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Though you might come in at a different gate, it is a similar trip from almost all the gates to the Disney desk. The gates are on the 3rd floor and you have to get on what we lovingly call the fake monorail to the main area. Then go down to the level with baggage claim and ground transportation.

    Don’t worry. They guide you every step of the way with good signs. There are great food options in wide open spaces. And Disney fun stuff all along the trip.
    The Orlando Airport Navigating to the Magical ExpressOrlando Airport Walk to the Magical Express

    Once I was on the Magical Express and settled my middle daughter said, “Mom, I left my Google Nexus in the bathroom.” We had gone to the bathroom on the OTHER side of security so there was no way we could get there. Needless to say, she and I got right off the bus to find out our solutions. But that is another post.

    The below picture is one I took BEFORE the above declaration. And hopefully your trip will be completely painless since it really is EASY to get from your gate at the Orlando Airport to the Magical Express. Especially since they get your luggage for you and deliver it your room!!!

    [​IMG]

    Hopefully that is helpful to someone!
     
  10. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    I don't have time to transfer all this over here right now. But I posted a video tutorial on youtube and I put it on the themeparks board. I didn't want you to feel short-changed. So here is just the link. I'll come back later and transfer the words over here.

    http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/stand-lines-disney-world/

    I'm back to post the words. ;)

    How to Not Stand in Lines at Disney World!

    If you have followed me at all on this blog or my trip reports on Disboards, you know that I dont much like standing in lines. And in August I like to stand in lines at Disney even less as it is HOT. And waiting in hot lines is a super bummer. Who wants a super bummer on vacation?

    There are two strategies that I like.

    One: go EARLY in the morning, well before the park opens, then take a break at your resort, and then come back for dinner and shows.

    Two: sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and swim in the morning. Then get to the extra magic evening hours park at around 5:00 (dinner already eaten) and stay until it closes.

    Both of these strategies work great. What does NOT work is to plan on getting to the park before it opens and actually get there at 10-11:00 a.m. then tour with the crowds through the heat of the day until 5:00. Then eat dinner and give up in frustration. Florida is HOT. I was drenched in sweat by 8:00 am every morning. Certainly it seems wiser to avoid being out in the sunshine in the dead center of the day. Especially since everyone else is there at the same time and lines to climb to over TWO hour waits!

    Over the years we have come up with ways to avoid lines as much as possible and the following video will walk you through.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onQz6PeEIVY
    (Sorry, you can't embed videos in Disboards so you'll have to click. I know that's annoying on iphones.)

    Here is my recommended schedule for doing Fantasyland on a morning extra magic hours day in Magic Kingdom. This assumes you are staying onsite (since you have to be onsite to have extra magic hours) and using Disney transportation.

    6-7:00- Get up, dressed, eat a light breakfast, walk to the bus stop.

    7-8:00- Do all practical things that need doing at the park. Like bag check, guest services, potty breaks, sunblock applying, coffee drinking, morning photos, watch the show.

    8:00- Walk to Enchanted Tales with Belle, walk quickly and with authority through the castle and through the Fantasyland gates. Dont stop for ANYTHING. No pictures, no fastpasses. You want to be in the first group.

    Send one person to go get Peter Pan fastpasses.

    Ride the Little Mermaid

    Ride Winnie the Pooh

    Ride Its a Small World

    Ride the Tea Cups. Send whoever cant ride this to get Dumbo & Goofini fastpasses, in our family, thats me. If your kids want to play in the Dumbo playground, dont get fastpasses for Dumbo. They make you skip the playground.

    See Mickeys Philharmagic.

    Ride Peter Pan

    If it isnt time for you to return to Goofini yet and you want to meet Goofy, Donald, or Daisy do this now. Or watch the clown. Or take a drink and potty break.

    Ride Goofini.

    Ride Dumbo.

    Thats it. You are done with Fantasyland before the crowds with almost no lines at all.



    Here is what actually happened for us:

    A quick note, when we went both your room keys and park tickets can pull fastpasses (this is currently true as of August 2013, Ill come back here and tell you it is over.) So we were able to get both Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan fastpasses at the same time. This is why my order of rides is different than the above. Also because we knew this, we didnt get our fastpasses between Belle and Ariel. With the new My Disney Experience you can look at fastpass return times on your iphone. We just kept our eye on return times and would run and get them when it fit into our schedule.

    When Fastpass+ becomes a reality Peter Pan is the most important ride to have an appointment for. The above schedule would work perfectly, just schedule Peter Pan.

    6:00-6:30: Mom and Dad g0t up and get dressed. I went and got coffee and breakfast and brought it back to the room.

    6:30-6:50: Kids awakened, got dressed (clothes were laid out the night before so no decisions were being made, just actions), ate breakfast (again, the breakfast was in the room, no options.) I puts on make-up on and then did kids hair. We were switching resorts this morning so I also zipped up the luggage and gave it to the bell hop. But normally it doesnt feel too hectic in our mornings.

    6:50-7:00: Walked to the bus stop. Our park bags were already be packed and ready to go from the night before. We just grabbed them and went.

    7:00-8:00: We were supposed to wait for the bus but it was there when we go there. So we rode the bus, went through bag check, went to guest services to get our tickets, went through turnstyles, put sunblock on, used the potty, drank our coffee, took cute pictures of our kids, watched the show.

    8:00-8:05: Walked to Enchanted Tales with Belle. We walk quickly and with purpose. We did NOT get distracted nor stop to take any pictures. You can always take pictures and explore Main St as you leave at 11:00.

    8:05 Enjoyed the show.

    8:33- Rode Little Mermaid.

    8:53-Got fastpasses for Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan.

    9:13- Took a potty break and drank our drinks. We dont tote a lot of drinks with us, but we do bring this first drink into the park with us. Then no one is searching for some place to buy stuff at first thing.

    9:20- Rode the Tea Cups. I dont do spinning rides. I went and got Goofini and Dumbo fastpasses.

    9:30- Rode Winnie the Pooh.

    9:42- Watched Mickeys Philharmagic.

    10:10- Rode Peter Pan.

    10:26- Potty break,

    Rode Dumbo,

    Rode Goofini

    10:50- Left the parks

    As we left the Celebrate parade was coming. We were really hungry, though, and didnt have our dining plan yet so we skipped it and went to check into our resort at the Boardwalk. Then we ate lunch and relaxed. We unpacked, swam, and had a leisurely dinner at Teppan Edo. Did the pick a pearl in Japan at Epcot and in general enjoyed World Showcase in the cooler dark hours.

    It was just delightful! And that was just our first day.

    A few more notes so you can have success.

    To make the first Enchanted Tales on an extra magic hours morning you MUST get there early and position yourself on the left side as close to the entry as possible.

    The morning EMH (extra magic hours) is only one hour! Many people who stay onsite get excited when they see there is a perk for them, so they will go to that park that day, even if they dont make the first hour at all. So whatever park has EMH that morning will be the MOST crowded park that day. Because of this I recommend that you either get there like we did, very early, or skip that park altogether. Its just one hour. If you get there at 8:30, youve pretty much missed the advantage of EMH.

    The order above may change according to what Fastpass/Fastpass+ return times you have. But it is very important that Peter Pan is your appointment for the morning.

    If you are not leaving Magic Kingdom after Fantasyland like we were, I would save Philharmagic until later in the day. Shows are wonderful to have during the heat of the day.

    The Haunted Mansion is close to Fantasyland and is easy to do the same morning you do Fantasyland. The wait is usually not too long if you do it any time in the morning.

    Because we eat breakfast so early and its really a light breakfast, we are very hungry by 11:00 a.m. This is perfect. The lunch counter service places are open by 11:00 a.m. and there are absolutely no lines. We then can have lunch and start watching shows for the afternoon if we arent ready to leave the park at 11:00 a.m.

    If you have 2 days at Magic Kingdom, do the above schedule minus Philharmagic. Then go get Fastpasses for Splash Mountain before you eat lunch (we like Pecos Bills.) Then do Aladdins Carpets and Jungle Cruise if the line isnt too long. Get Big Thunder Fastpasses. Then do Pirates and see the Tiki Birds. Ride Splash and Big Thunder and see Philharmagic on your way out. Then on day two start with Tomorrowland and finish the rest of the park, always doing slow loading rides (like AstroOrbiter) first, collecting fastpasses (like for Buzz and Space Mt.), following by shows (Laugh Floor) and quick loading rides (Peoplemover.) But dont worry, Ill lay that out for you in a different post. Also, I'll do a post on fitting princesses into your schedule.
     
  11. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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  12. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/traveling-kids-airport-backpack/

    Traveling with kids is super fun. But there are certain aspects that can be really stressful. Airports, for example. Long car trips, perhaps?

    Are you traveling with kids anytime soon? Then you are going to need some activities.

    I won’t lie. The best activity for a child under the age of 5 is the iPad. Sorry those of you who don’t want your kids to be reliant on electronics. I totally agree with you at home. But in the airplane? Bring on the mindless distraction for the youngest of children.

    My daughter is 6 now, however, and in reality doesn’t really enjoy an iPad nearly as much as fun activities in her backpack. So what was in her backpack this trip to Disney?

    [​IMG]

    • A quart sized zipper baggie full of toys. She picks these out and she is very choosy as they must fit in the baggie and it must easily zip. I recommend you let your child choose these as even if you know what they play with, you may not know what they want to take on their trip. She was CHOOSY. And she played with them for the entire 11 days we were gone.
    • Stuffed animals. Again, I let her help me choose these. Our only requirement is everything must fit in the backpack. So we pick the stuffed animals last since they take up the most room, it’s best to know how much room you’ll have.
    • Coloring pages and crayons. This is fun for adults and children and teens. We find every year that we all end up coloring something on our family vacation. It really is enjoyable. And they will like coloring even more when someone is doing it with them.
    • Color Explosion or Wonder. These are the markers that only draw on the special paper. This year’s color explosion was so fun we all enjoyed it and my 11&12 year old daughters colored almost every day in our hotel room. Who knew?
    • Books. I used to bring books I could read to the girls. But now that they can all read, I bring books they can read alone. I also normally will bring a favorite book. In this case, however, the books were a surprise and she thoroughly enjoyed them.
    • Beads, pipe cleaners, yarn. Things like these that they can make something with. This usually is my surprise item. I try to choose things that don’t require glue. Trust me on this one. This year because she is bigger, we did pony beads and elastic string. It was awesome.
    • Snacks. You know what your kid likes. Get them their travel-friendly favorite.
    • And electronic toy (we have a v-tech Leapster), your iPad or iPhone, and headphones. This year I sprung for the expensive kid headphones and she actually WORE them.
    • A portable dvd player or computer and movies. You can put movies on your iPad too, if you don’t have or want to take a portable player or computer. You can rent movies from itunes or Amazon and download them onto your iPad. But I was bringing my laptop anyway, so we just brought some movies to play on it.

    [​IMG]

    And that is pretty much it. Trust me on this point: your kid will want both a movie AND something to do with their hands. They need both. So a dvd player with headphones and a baggie full of toys will be your best friends. This works on car trips and it works in airports. For bigger kids, say any kid over the age of 8 (8 seems to be the turning point for us) they do still enjoy all of the above. But they also love things you can do together as a family:

    Big Kids Backpacks
    Cards
    Dice
    Travel Board Games
    Taboo (you can get versions of this on iPhones)
    Trivia games (again, on smart phones)
    I try to balance surprise items in the backpack and items I let them choose.

    Also, for the car we let each kid have a pillow and blanket. For the airplane they make neckrolls that have a blanket inside. These are very convenient.
     
  13. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/art-animation-lion-king-walk/

    Our first night at Disney World this year was spent at Art of Animation. This was not our original plan. Our original plan was to spend 9 nights, 10 days at Boardwalk Villas. However, Southwest Airlines dropped their rates: if we flew the day before our reservation. This gave us the opportunity to take the money we had saved on the airplane tickets to spend a night at Disney’s newest value resort. We LOVED it. We arrived at the resort around 6:00 pm on the Magical Express and spent the evening enjoying the pool, counter service restaurant (Landscape of Flavors), and all of the over the top characters from The Lion King, Cars, The Little Mermaid, and Finding Nemo.

    We stayed at the Art of Animation!!!

    nd we LOVED it! Eden was ridiculously happy. Cara stayed in the Cars Section and she also had a very happy little boy.

    It’s a beautifully detailed resort! So I’m going to put up as many photos as I can this week of the whole resort (I’ll do a page on each section’s decor and put the links back here) but I wanted to start by our first impression of our room, which I just happened to video tape. My video camera settings were a little off so it was shakier than I would like. Sorry! We fixed it for the rest of the trip! And it’s still a video worth sharing. Enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd4ogBifOYE

    We really, really like this room and all agreed we could be completely happy staying in this room for our whole trip. The layout is just great! And the fridge and microwave and kitchen area were very similar to our Boardwalk Villa Studio, with the exception of a full sized coffeemaker at the Boardwalk. And to have two bathrooms? Pure luxury!

    Plus, the resort is absolutely gorgeous! There are so many details, it feels intensely Disney.

    The negatives are the price point. The family suites (what we stayed in and loved so much) are between $252-433 as of August 2013. Which is pretty expensive, you must admit, especially for a resort called “value”. And because it is a new resort and much in demand, there are very few discounts applicable to it. For even the under $300 per night price we payed, Art of Animation is NOT a deluxe resort.

    There were no towels available at the pool and when we asked guests they said there never are. They brought towels from their rooms and then left notes to the housekeeper for more towels. And the atmosphere is very PARTY, not relaxing. Plus it isn’t within walking distance to anything nor does it have a super cool view. It doesn’t have the amenities that one expects of a resort they are paying $300 a night for. If you compare it to Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge, for example, which are called “deluxe”, the prices are very similar. And they do have amenities. And cool views and relaxing atmospheres. And real restaurants.

    So the question to ask: is the roominess of the room, the two bathrooms, and the kitchenette worth the price? Because at Art of Animation, you are buying space. Not luxury. As a family of 5, it’s hard for me to choose. Since with 3 kids space is often equal to luxury.

    [​IMG]

    The Art of Animation is very cute and user friendly and SO full of details. We stayed in the Lion King Suite. The lobby, though, is gorgeous. And the check-in was seamless. I got there at around 6:00 p.m. and there was almost no people at the desk at all.

    http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/art-of-animation-checkin.jpg/IMG]

    [IMG]http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/art-of-animation-wall.jpg

    It reminded me somehow of Disneyland’s World of Color. Bright and over the top and yet not in an unpleasant in your face kind of way. Just the right amount of over the top.

    [​IMG]

    There are drawings everywhere, even on the amazing chandelier! I really liked that. It felt like I was in an art museum.

    The other thing that I liked was that even though this resort was HUGE the walk to our room wasn’t that bad. I don’t know if we got a good one or it just felt that way to me, but I thought the design, though similar to Pop Century and the other values, made the main hall seem closer to everything. I took a walk around this entire resort and it is so big my feet hurt. But from our room to the main hall was maybe a 5 minute walk. When we stayed at All Star Music in the Country building it was over 10 minutes. It was FOREVER! So maybe the Little Mermaid building would feel like that here, but I doubt it. It all felt close and cohesive.

    We also absolutely adored our room. This is a value resort and they do have regular rooms that sleep 4 people (and a baby or toddler) for around $100.00. But we have 5 people in our family. So we went ahead and got a suite. There is nothing value about these rooms in my opinion. They are GORGEOUS.

    And they have the same details as the other resorts. We were welcomed by a Mickey towel and the shampoo and soap. I thought our Lion King shower was amazing. Each tv (we had two) had an phone charging station. There was plenty of storage: way more than in a normal value hotel. The kitchenette was great. The little freezer fit bottles of water just fine and froze them. And the coffee maker worked to make coffee.

    We were really impressed with the bed that was also a dining room table. This worked really well for us and the girls were able to easily do it themselves. I know a table right by a door normally collects “things” but because this was also a bed, it didn’t. Which was totally fine since they gave you areas (in front of the tvs and the kitchenette) for your things.

    [​IMG]

    Our girls also really loved their bathroom being split in half. One of them is a door locker and every time she does anything in the bathroom from showering to brushing her teeth, she locks the door. This is quite frustrating to her two sisters (and us if we are all together) as she isn’t the fastest at her tasks. And with a family of 5, the chances are someone is going to need the bathroom if you are in there an hour. But in these rooms the sink is in it’s own area with a door between it and the shower area. I know at all the values this is true. The difference here is that the sink area also has a door! So you didn’t blind whoever was still in the bed if your were trying to get ready. This entire room had a very smart layout.

    In addition to that it had just as many awesome details as the rest of the resort. I though the tile in our bathroom was so nice and somehow was adult and spa-like while still being the Lion King crazy theme. The carpet was adorable. The lamp- CUTE! Loved the lamps.

    [​IMG]
    We had the opportunity to use bell services and I found them very helpful. We were switching resorts and wanted this to happen bright and early in the morning (6:30 am.) I called the night before to make arrangements and they were so nice. They told me they had me down but to go ahead and call at 6:30 the following morning too just to make sure. I did and they did have me down but said the phone call made us a priority. Within minutes we had a bell hop at our door who was just great and took care of everything. He was there so fast I didn’t even have everything zipped and at the door! We were like crazy zippers when he got there.

    I only swam at the main pool. And then I went to explore while the kids went to the Cozy Cone pool. They liked it better than the main pool. I did also go to the Little Mermaid one and it was also very nice. Under the water at the main pool (Nemo) they play music. It was a very neat touch. There were games and activities constantly, which for us seemed a little intrusive to the swimming. All the main pools at Disney have a lot of activities and a loud speaker that they are not afraid to use. But this one was definitely hopping. They did not have towels. Which was annoying. They looked like they had towels but there weren’t ever any there.

    I did not do laundry here since it was just our first night. But I did go in there and it was large but crazy busy. Maybe because they had to wash their own towels? Just saying. Towels by the pool, people, value resort or not. Especially since the people in the suites are spending $300 per night!

    Tips for an Art of Animation Stay

    • There is no need for a preferred room here unless you have a real reason to reduce your walking (like a disability or some other reason.) It is efficiently laid out and none of the rooms are ridiculously far from the main building. Just pick the building you want to stay in. The themes are very much carried through the rooms and hallways.
    • Bring your own beach towels.
    • If I were staying here for my entire stay I might consider the counter service dining plan as the counter service restaurant (Landscape of Flavors) is really delicious and there is no table service restaurant on property.
    • Because of the kitchenette, you also might consider ordering groceries and bottled water from one of the services in Kissimmee (like GardenGrocer) that delivers right to your resort to cut down your dining expenses. Or you can pack some basics like granola bars, microwave popcorn, etc. Then you will have some food options in your own room.
    • If you only have 4 people, there is no need to get a suite. It’s much less expensive (by like a 1/3!) and you would still get to enjoy a cool resort.
    • Take a taxi if you are going to Downtown Disney and don’t have a car. The bus service from here is great, but it still is irritating to get to and back from Downtown Disney.
     
  14. jecskc

    jecskc DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Messages:
    4,510
    I just wanted to stop in and say that I am following along and loving your TR. I have followed you and your sister for a couple of years and it is fun to see your children growing up. I just love how organized you are. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us. Looking forward to reading more !!

    Susan
     
  15. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,354
    Aww, thanks! I really liked your last dining review and your kids are really cute! I've always wanted to go to the food and wine festival. We were really hoping for this year, but that time of the year is so hard for us to get away. :sad2: Your pictures only fed my addiction!
     
  16. jecskc

    jecskc DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Messages:
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    Food and wine is amazing !! And now they have the booths at the Flower and Garden festival as well, so maybe you can plan a trip over Spring Break. Now that the kids are older it is hard to get away since the school gives us grief if we take the teens out for vacation. So we have to try and go over the holidays and summer now. But thanks to you and your sister ..... I am now a fast pass master !! And we don't ever wait in lines. Boo Yah !!!
     
  17. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    We've done the Flower and Garden show before and loved it! We would especially love it now. Sadly and for some inexplicable reason our local school system's holidays are no longer matched up with our local university's breaks. So irritating! Half the kid's parents work there, including Milo, and Charming is in college. There was such a great outcry last year we expected this year's school schedule to have them matching. But no such luck. :mad:
     
  18. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Landscape of Flavors is set up like the other Value resorts counter service restaurants. But I felt the actual food options were more adult friendly. Actually, we all pretty much loved what we got. And that never happens when you have 11 people from 5 years to over 40. And we loved our drinks. Again never happens. Your results may vary. We were impressed.

    It has a mongolian style grill and serves several mongolian or tandoori options.

    This was delicious. It was mongolian beef with acorn squash (this squash was YUMMY!) and naan. The naan was just ok, but the rest was really good. Maybe if there was more sauce on the plate the bread would have been perfect. But the flavors of this was delicious.

    [​IMG]

    My daughter ended up just getting the cheesy pesto bread as her entree. She absolutely loved this. But we hadn’t eaten for a bit and it wasn’t quite enough food. So she ate my salad that came with my meatball sub. Which was fine because I ate my other daughter’s squash. It was trade the side dish night.

    [​IMG]

    Both of the men ate Surf and Surf burger. And they both thoroughly enjoyed it. It is basically a crab cake with a cajun nod in the sauce. It’s not my kind of sandwich but as you can see from the picture below it looks beautiful and how can two men be wrong?

    [​IMG]

    They did not have chicken nuggets. But they did have mac and cheese. This didn’t make any of us sad because our youngest has a LOT of chicken nuggets at Disney. I don’t need them at my resort too.

    Below is me is having a pretty girlie drink next to the pool. Cara and I had had a bit of a rough day. She hates the travel portion of trips and we had been delayed which she double hates and the stroller she had rented didn’t show up because the company went out of business. And Alex had left her tablet in the airport and we had to get back off the Magical Express and file a lost and found paper and she had cried. And then just the normal stress of kids and bags and traveling.

    So when we had finally all checked in, eaten, and changed into bathing suits I was more than happy to settle down and have a Pina Colava (Pina Colada with raspberry puree). It made me calm enough I was able to call Apple Strollers and order Cara a new stroller and a person actually answered the phone and took our order and the stroller was delivered the next morning! It ended up all being fine.

    Travel days are the most stressful days of a trip, but a nice dinner, a fantastic pool, and a lip smacking drink can make you forget all about it. That, and of course, the fact that you are at Disney World.

    [​IMG]

    It is, however, a counter service. So don’t expect relaxing even though the food is good.

    I also went here to get pastries for breakfast. It opens at 6:00 am but not all the food stations are open that early. They do have Mickey waffles. This is an important aspect to a resort counter service place to us. Gotta have our Mickey waffles!

    Here is our video of us getting our food. Sorry, no video of us eating. We were STARVING. So once the food was paid for, the camera turned off. A girl’s gotta eat.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hyw_PeAsCBE

    My family rated it as follows (for a counter service Disney place)
    Rated on a 1-5 star scale

    Food Quality: 5 stars
    Deliciousness: 5 stars
    Noise: 3 stars
    Atmosphere: 4 stars
    Decoration: 5 stars
    Friendly staff: 4 1/2 stars
    Cleanliness: 5 stars
    Choices: 5 stars
    Kids Choices: 4 1/2 stars
     
  19. jecskc

    jecskc DIS Veteran

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    4,510
    We liked LoF when we ate there last year. I agree that they have a lot of options. We just got back from Beach Club and the QS there had 4-5 things for breakfast and 4-5 things for lunch/dinner. Just meh. That is the only bad thing I will say about BC though. Otherwise, it was amazing !!

    Susan
     
  20. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

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    I could not agree more. QS at AoA is way better than any of the Boardwalk hotels.
     
  21. estherhead

    estherhead DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
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    I have been totally neglecting things in September. I always have a lot going on, but September was CRAZY! I did post today, though, a bit of a summary of our first day. My advice on YOUR first day. http://www.enchantingbeginnings.com/disney-world-first-night/

    There isn't really any new trip reporty stuff in the above, though. Just advice.

    The following morning we went to MK and then checked into the Boardwalk Villas. So that is what I'll be discussing next.

    Also, our Photopass+ came in the mail this week!!! :dance3::dance3::dance3::dance3: So now I have all the photos at my fingertips.

    That stupid Photopass site! Cannot WAIT until the new one is up and running. Thank goodness we had 45 days instead of 30 as I felt like it was a part time job I had taken on for the month of September trying to edit them on the slowest computer program known to man. :sad2: Don't they know I'm trying to inform the masses how to tour Disney??? But the pictures are great. So I guess all is well that ends well.
     

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