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"Why the Face?!" - our Aug/Sept 2011 TR! (updated 11/28 Last Day - MK)

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by kdka421, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Hello all! Welcome to my first Trip Report!! Thanks in advance to all those who start reading along... :thumbsup2

    I did a pre-trip report, which you can find here: Celebrating a combined 34 years of marriage! This trip was a gift from me and my husband to my parents to celebrate their upcoming 30th anniversary! We love them so much, and this was a wonderful way to celebrate!

    Why the title of my trip report?
    First of all, it comes from an episode of Modern Family, where Phil (the "cool" dad) is explaining how he knows all about the computer lingo kids are using...like "LOL = laughing out loud", and "w.t.f. = Why the Face?" :rotfl:
    Anyway, "Why the face" became somewhat of our catch phrase this trip...whenever something ridiculous would happen, or if we'd get frustrated, one of us would chime in with "Why the Face?!" [For example, when my dad got trapped behind some slow moving electric scooters :lmao:]

    Our trip details:
    August 29 - September 4 2011
    Port Orleans French Quarter

    Who we are:
    Kate (myself) and Aaron (my husband)
    and Mike and Peg (my parents)

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    I'm so excited to share with you all the details of my trip. I took good notes about everything we did, and between the 4 of us we came back with about 2500 photos, so everything is well documented! I'll be discussing our travel plans (and how we were sandwiched between hurricanes), our daily plans (including our Keys to the Kingdom tour), and a lot of good food (Victoria & Albert's!).

    Stay tuned for updates! :woohoo:


    Table of Contents:
    Day 0:
    Traveling to Florida
    Random traveling pictures

    Day 1:
    Port Orleans French Quarter
    Magic Kingdom (lunch until 3pm)
    Magic Kingdom (3pm through dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern)
    Magic Kingdom (rest of evening)

    Day 2:
    EPCOT (morning)
    EPCOT (lunch at Chefs de France)
    EPCOT (afternoon through evening, including dinner at Rose & Crown)

    Day 3:
    Animal Kingdom (morning through lunch)
    Animal Kingdom (afternoon through park close)
    Dinner at Victoria & Albert's! (part 1)
    Dinner at Victoria & Albert's! (part 2)
    Mom and Dad's dinner at Rainforest Cafe

    Day 4:
    Hollywood Studios (morning)
    Hollywood Studios (afternoon and evening)

    Day 5:
    Epcot (morning) + a trip to first aid
    Epcot (afternoon in World Showcase, including lunch at Le Cellier)
    Epcot (evening, extra magic hours)

    Day 6:
    Magic Kingdom (morning), Halloween decorations + Keys to the Kingdom part 1
    Magic Kingdom (morning), Keys to the Kingdom part 2
    Magic Kingdom (afternoon - evening, including dinner at California Grill)

    Day 7:
    Magic Kingdom (morning) - last day!
     
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  3. BTDTGB

    BTDTGB Future Mayor of Main Street

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    I was one of the last to check in with your PTR, but I am the first on the TR. We can totally relate to your Dad's feelings about the scooters. It used to drive us crazy when they line up next to each other and sweep the roads, as we called it. But, now we just line up behind them, slow down, and soak everything in. It is nice to slow down and see all the details. Can't wait to hear about you guys trip.
     
  4. vicceja

    vicceja Mom to My Three Sons!

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    Can't wait to read more. We were at POR Riverside on Aug 28 - Sept 5 :thumbsup2
     
  5. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    :welcome:

    Thanks for making the jump from my PTR to my TR! :thumbsup2
    Haha I definitely agree with your point about slowing down sometimes...but sometimes also you need to get where you're going quickly!

    Hi there! :wave2: Wow cool, you were our neighbor...Wonder if we saw you on the bus one of those days? :)
     
  6. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Okay, let's get started with the trip report!

    TRAVELING TO FLORIDA:
    Our travel arrangements to/from Florida were probably the most difficult decision involved in planning our trip, even though our options were relatively limited. My mom has a fear of flying, so that was ruled out immediately. My folks live up in NY, and we live in VA, so logistically there was some stuff to figure out there. We finally had determined that my parents would drive from NY to VA on Saturday, then on Sunday we'd all take the Amtrak AutoTrain.

    The AutoTrain sounded pretty neat to us all...you put your car on it, and it goes directly from Lorton VA (only about 20 minutes from where we live) to Sanford FL (about 45 minutes from WDW). How convenient! It includes dinner and breakfast, and it allows you to sleep while you're traveling. Our other alternative was driving, which realistically would take two days. The other benefit to the train is that you don't need to navigate/etc, and it gives us all time to be together, so it seemed sort of like starting the vacation a day early.

    Well...at the beginning of the week we were supposed to leave, is when Hurricane Irene started to threaten. And wouldn't you know, on Wednesday we got a call from Amtrak that they had canceled the AutoTrain from Friday to Sunday at that point (we found out at the end of our vacation that they actually ended up canceling the trains through Wednesday). There was no chance they would change their mind, we simply couldn't take the train anymore.

    We thought long and hard, but couldn't come up with an alternative other than driving, even though none of us wanted to make that long trek. And of course, we still had the hurricane weather to think about. So we decided to drive, but had to make most of our decisions last minute, as it would be so dependent upon the storm.

    My parents ended up driving down on Friday, instead of Saturday, in order to beat the storm, and give them a day to rest. Saturday was the day that Irene was supposed to "hit" our area, and my mom was especially concerned. However, we ended up not really getting anything more than a mild to moderate rainfall. We were very lucky.

    So, Sunday we set off as we desired - we left around 8am, and drove about 9 hours, getting into Pooler GA (just outside of Savannah) around dinnertime. We saw quite a few fallen trees, especially as we were driving through North Carolina, and at one of our pit stops in NC the town's electricity was out, but otherwise did not encounter any issues due to Irene. We had dinner and spent the night in Pooler.

    [The only hiccup of our drive was when we were about an hour or so away from home, and I realized I had forgotten our digital camera, and it was too late to return home! We ended up calling our cat/house sitter, and on Monday he overnighted the camera to us, and we got it the afternoon of our second day...not bad!]

    We got up early the next morning, and left the hotel a little after 7am. We had about a 4.5 hour trip ahead of us, and got into Port Orleans French Quarter around 11:30am. That's just a little later than when we would have gotten there on the train, so we were basically right on schedule!

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    Dad driving, me navigating

    Coming up next - check in/our resort!
     
  7. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    A few random pictures from the drive down (I promise, the pictures get better! :rotfl:)

    Mom taking a rest in the car:
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    Dad goofing off outside our dinner stop in Georgia:
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    Some Spanish moss:
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    Yes, we document the trip so well we even take pictures at the gas station :lmao:
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    Enjoy :thumbsup2
     
  8. sstewart

    sstewart Earning My Ears

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    So excited to hear about your trip!
     
  9. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks and welcome to my TR!!


    :headache: Argh it's one of those mornings, I had just about finished typing up my next installment, and accidentally hit something (who knows what), and the post is gone. :sad2: So frustrating. So now I've got to see if I can recreate all the brilliant things I said. :lmao: I'll hopefully post that later this morning.
     
  10. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Port Orleans French Quarter:

    [Okay, take 2...let's see if I can keep Firefox from deciding to delete this post on me a second time!]

    This trip, we decided to stay at Port Orleans French Quarter. On our last trip 2 years ago, Aaron and I stayed at PO Riverside, and on one of our family trips, we actually stayed at POR as well, back when it was Dixie Landings! We all loved POR, but were interested to try something new. We'd heard good things about the size of POFQ, and we all thought it looked beautiful, so that's how we decided to stay at POFQ.

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    We drove up around 11:30am, and were greeted by the CM at the security gate, who gave us that friendly welcome that made us so excited to be back! We parked the car and went into the lobby. Outside the lobby, they had a CM handing out Mardi Gras beads, and another CM dressed as a jester, handing out Mardi Gras coins. Now throughout the week I saw them there on and off, they weren't always out there, but it was a nice touch that they seemed to be there during peak times to welcome the guests.

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    Aaron and I went off to do check-in while my parents explored and stretched their legs. Check in was simple, I had done online check in when it became available. Before that I had called in a room request (building 4, first floor) and I reiterated that when I did online check in - and I got exactly my request. The location of building 4 was great, and we were right down the sidewalk from the bus stop, couldn't be any more convenient. We were also pretty near the pool and food court.

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    Our room was great. It was across from the parking lot, but we couldn't really care less - we're the family that doesn't really open the blinds at all while we're there. There was a row of shrubs between the room and the parking lot though, so even if we had, the view wouldn't have been that bad. The room itself was very pretty, I was excited about the recent renovations, and I loved the furnishings. It was an added bonus when I had learned that we'd be getting 2 Queen size beds - sweet! Being able to pull the curtain to separate the sink area from the bedroom was quite helpful for a part of 4 adults, particularly when changing clothes, after taking showers, etc. As my Mom commented after the trip, "None of us accidentally saw each other naked, so that's a success" :rotfl:

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    I was a little surprised at a few things that weren't quite right with the room, particularly since they had just done a renovation. They weren't big things by any means, but since my husband works at a fancy Inn/restaurant, they are things that he is basically trained to notice (it's a blessing and a curse). For example - there was a long tear in one of the bedskirts, which housekeeping did their best to tuck in and hide, but it was still pretty visible. Also, the curtain that separates the bathroom area from the bedroom area, a large part of it was off the track, which made it difficult to fully pull the curtain closed. But all in all, we didn't let any of that bug us.

    Speaking of "bugs" and other critters...the only unexpected surprise in our room was when one night, as we were all getting ready for bed, Aaron pulled back the comforter to find....

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    ...this lizard, between the comforter and the sheet! :eek: The lizard was as stunned as we were! He was frozen in place, so Aaron scooped him up, and (after pretending to give him a kiss for the ever-present camera), just brought him outside. No big deal, and we all got a good laugh...although I think Mom was a little concerned for the rest of the trip what she might find in her bed!

    We ate at the food court twice - I'll talk about the food when I discuss those days. But here are a few pictures for now:

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    We would 100% stay at POFQ again. Especially building 4. My parents kept reminiscing about the times we stayed at the All Stars, and would have this L-O-N-G walk each night back to our room, and how much better this was.


    Come back soon to hear about how we spent our first afternoon and evening!
     
  11. Deemarch

    Deemarch DIS Veteran

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    More...More!!:rotfl2:
     
  12. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    :woohoo: Thank you, glad you're enjoying it so far! LOTS more to come!
     
  13. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Day 1 (afternoon): Magic Kingdom

    Moving on to the good stuff! :thumbsup2

    As I said before, we got to the hotel around 11:30am, check in was very quick, no lines. Our room was ready, so we quickly unloaded the car, and then headed to the bus stop. First stop - Magic Kingdom!

    The bus arrived shortly after we got to the stop (we had pretty decent luck with buses most of the trip, except once or twice...). We were the only people getting on the bus, and it didn't stop at POR, so we had it all to ourselves...providing opportunity for more pictures!

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    When we got off the bus, we were all pretty excited, and in a rush to get into the park. Plus, we were hungry, and our first stop was going to be to get some lunch and make a game plan for the next few hours.

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    But of course, we had to stop first for the obligatory photo opportunity outside the train station:

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    But after that, we were all starving, so we made a beeline to Pecos Bill, one of our favorite lunch stops. Although in the past we all typically enjoyed their delicious burgers and toppings bar, this time we all ended up with salads - Taco salads for my parents, and Chicken Caesar salads for Aaron and I.
    (Unfortunately since Aaron and I didn't have our camera the first day, we neglected to get pictures of food on Day 1...don't worry, that changed starting Day 2!).

    I personally felt a little bit thrown off, starting our first day in the parks at mid-day...I'm used to getting in either the night before or very early the first morning, in order to spend a full day there. We also weren't sure what time we were going to get in, so we didn't have a very specific plan laid out. So we decided we'd just try to hit a few rides, then go see the afternoon parade. As we were eating lunch though, it started to pour, so we decided to get a little more specific.

    When Aaron finished eating (and the rest of us - well, mostly Mom - were still finishing up), he ran off to get FPs for Splash, although he came back with FPs for Big Thunder since Splash was down at the time due to the rain and lightning. When we were finally done eating, we decided to hit a few things in Adventureland since we were nearby, so for our first ride of the trip, we ended up on....

    Pirates of the Caribbean! Always a classic. After the ride, my Mom (a serious dog lover), decided on her souvenir of the trip:

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    I believe he was temporarily named Ringo, I'm not sure if the name became permanent or not. Ringo enjoyed his day at the Magic Kingdom:

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    And as you might have been able to tell from the first photo, our next stop to get out of the rain was the Tiki Room - one of my Dad's favorites. During our past trips, we'd seen both the original Tiki Room and the Under New Management (definitely favoring the original), so we were excited to see how they had changed it with the recent renovations. We were quite pleased to see that it was basically back to the original version.

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    After the Tiki Room, the rain had let up, and it was about time for the afternoon parade to begin. We headed to Main Street, got seats for the parade, and got some photopass pictures taken while we were waiting.

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    I think I'll pause here for now, and pick up next time with the parade and the rest of our day at the Magic Kingdom. :goodvibes Thanks to all who have stopped by my TR so far!!
     
  14. kirrrby

    kirrrby We're all mad here....

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    Latecomer here. In december we're going to basically be driving the same route as you did (I-95). Stopping in the outskirts of Savannah and staying at the gateway area, which is sort of our.."halfway" point. Good to see that you got to Disney about 11:30, we'll probably do the same thing except we're staying in All star sports.

    Keep the updates coming.
     
  15. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Welcome!! You aren't that late, I've only just started Day 1!

    Yup, we took I-95 all the way down, and that's about where we stopped for the night, we hadn't stopped there before but it ended up being a good area to stop. Our goal was to leave the Savannah area by 7am, if I remember right we left a little late, maybe 7:15 or so, but were still at POFQ by 11:30am. I don't know if you're planning to go to the park that day, but if you are, we were able to check in, stretch our legs, unload the car, and get the bus to the MK in less than an hour. You should do great on time.

    Thanks again for stopping by!
     
  16. kirrrby

    kirrrby We're all mad here....

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    We will probably leave earlier, knowing my father. He's a stickler for time. We plan to get to Savannah around 6-7 pm the night before (I get to get my Guavatini at Houlihan's! :goodvibes) and leave around 6 am. Stop in Palm Coast at Publix. Then head to our resort. We decided to leave the night before instead of the day of so that we're on time to go get our tickets at Shades of Green. We might make MK the first day, just because it's the go to park.
     
  17. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Sounds great! We slept real well that night we arrived in GA (9-10 hours in the car will do that to you), so it wasn't that bad to get up early the next morning. We were tentatively going to drive even further into GA that first day, try to make it to the southern border, but I think we were all glad we decided to stop when we did. Your plan sounds pretty good! :thumbsup2
     
  18. kirrrby

    kirrrby We're all mad here....

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    It's usually what we plan to do. Especially on days that we actually have to be somewhere. But it's just hoping the other party gets from Va Beach at a good time the day we leave! It's about 5 hours to Savannah from here. Do you know if they still have the camera speed trap? It was right before the GA border on 95 in Ridgeway, SC.
     
  19. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Sorry, I didn't happen to notice!
     
  20. kirrrby

    kirrrby We're all mad here....

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    Shoot. I know they had it back in April. They were catching people left and right. We're going to be in a minivan this year though. So probably not a big problem for us. It just bottlenecked there for a bit when people noticed there was a speed camera.
     
  21. kdka421

    kdka421 DIS Veteran

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    Day 1 (afternoon continued) - Magic Kingdom

    I left off with us waiting for the afternoon parade. The rain had stopped and the ground was pretty much dried; a typical Florida rain shower. The weather was beautiful - all day it was extremely comfortable, not too hot at all - which we were NOT expecting, for August!

    The parade was fine - I'm not a huge parade person, and I feel like all of the MK afternoon parades are always the same, year after year. My family still goes around singing "Remember the Magic...." and doing all the hand motions :rotfl:

    Nice number of characters in the parade though, and some you don't see too often, including my Dad's favorite, Jiminey Cricket.

    Some parade photos for you:

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    Ariel was totally blowing Aaron a kiss here:

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    Actually, there were a few really neat touches on some of the different parade floats. Look closely at the first picture and you'll see a miniature Partners statue, and in the second picture you'll see Walt himself.

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    After the parade, it was finally time to go do those classic rides, the Mountains. So we headed back to Frontierland, and used our FPs to ride Big Thunder (just me, Aaron, and Dad - Mom is not a thrill ride person).

    Mom went to grab us FPs for Splash Mountain while we were on the ride. Now, she told us that she'd meet us back in that main area between Splash and Big Thunder when we were done - but when we got out she was nowhere to be seen! We checked the whole area, the benches, and even the Splash Mtn. gift shops, but we had a missing Mom! Now we all carry cell phones, so you think we would have been able to just call her and locate her...but Mom has a tendency not to hear her phone when it rings. Bit of a problem. I think it took about half a dozen calls before she finally heard her phone ring - turns out she was over by the Frontierland Trading Post. When we met up, I instituted 2 new rules - if you say you're going to meet up somewhere, 1) make sure you are there, and 2) carry your phone in a place where you can hear it ring. I don't think we lost Mom again :lmao:

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    Quick Hidden Mickey in the Frontierland gift shop:

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    After we finally were all caught up with each other, we had a little bit of time left before we could use the Splash Mtn fast passes, which we wanted to get in before dinner. So we all headed over to the Haunted Mansion! We got to see the new interactive queue for the first time!

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    The queue was pretty cool, and the ride was wonderful as ever. There had been a few changes since the last time my parents had ridden it, so they enjoyed seeing the new parts of the ride. After the Haunted Mansion, we headed back across Frontierland to use our Splash Mtn FPs, and Mom was instructed where to wait for us this time! Splash is definitely one of my favorite rides, the theming is just fantastic. Before our trip I had shown Aaron "Song of the South" for the first time, so he enjoyed seeing the ride in a slightly different light.

    After Splash, we headed back across Frontierland (we did a lot of back and forth walking this afternoon) to Liberty Square, to have dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern. This was Aaron's first time dining there, and our first time since our very first trip in 1996, back when it was a character meal. We were all looking forward to it.

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    About the meal - the menu is extremely simple, but the food was fantastic in all of our opinions. Very traditional, very much comfort food, and it was all very well done. The meal is served family style, but the portions they brought out were pretty perfect for 4 people, I think it was just about the right amount of food, but they would have gladly bought more if we needed anything. The salad was great, and I think we all preferred a different one of the meats (turkey, pork, or beef), and the green beans were a huge hit. The stuffing and potatoes were both delicious as well, and the macaroni and cheese was the only item that fell a little short in my opinion. Our waiter was also fantastic, the restaurant was pretty busy, but he was very attentive with our drinks, asking if we wanted more items, etc.

    After dinner, we hadn't really left the Adventureland/Frontierland/Liberty Square area, so we decided it was off to see something else! Any thoughts on what ride we hit next?? It is another one of my Dad's favorite rides...
    ...I'll tell you next time!
     

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