Five DVC resorts in five days — pre-park-open TR

MichellT

Mouseketeer
DVC Gold
Joined
Jul 14, 2002
This is going to be short and sweet, but as promised in another thread, DH and I decided to do a resort-hop.

We’re from Seattle, and had to travel to Orlando to bring the kids to their other parents’ house, and also check in on my own parents in The Villages. To top that off we had about 100 points banked in from Dec19 that would expire Nov20.

Based on the timing, we realized we would be in Orlando with no kids between DVC open and parks opening. We wanted to be extremely safe during this time and checked DVC inventory as our trip got close, it appeared all the resorts had every room type available. We took this as a sign that crowds would be very low. Unfortunately the “Know Before you Go” pages told us things would be open in limited capacity at each resort (one restaurant only for example with limited menus).

Looking to be safe but not bored, we decided Resort Hopping would be for us. Normally we would not think of this as fun but, in this case we hypothesized a few things:
1) since resorts would be low occupancy, early checkin would be more likely
2) since it’s July, we could happily sit in the pool between 11-4 if needed each day
3) since we didn’t want to be in contained spaces with others, we thought it would be easier to rent a car, which would make it easy enough to move around

We own at BWV and stay there enough in 2BRs and GVs with the fam, but Poly is our favorite for studios since we love the resort. But for this trip we decided to try a bunch of “new to us” resorts!

We picked Riviera for a new resort, VGF to try the new Enchanted Rose bar, CC@ WL for the lodge and pool view, AKL Jambo for the savannah view, and decided to wrap up at our standby, the Poly.

You might already be guessing that some plans changed and you’d be right :)

I’ll review each with a focus on “what’s different during COVID and parks being closed” and safety.
 

MichellT

Mouseketeer
DVC Gold
Joined
Jul 14, 2002
Day -5: before arrival
We got a call from Unknown but a nice VM that said Jambo was closer during our stay and we needed to call back before coming to be re-accommodated.

I knew that Jambo was supposed to be closed so this wasn’t a surprise. After a 90-min wait on hold for the special DVC callback number, we were re-accommodated in Kidani in a 1BR still with Savannah View. Nice!

Day 1: Almost
First let me say we woke up on this day to a call from the GF back office, calling with some “pre-arrival expectations”. This was not a good sign lol! They first told me about the fence and assured me everything would be normal. I asked if the main pool was open for example since I had seen just one picture of the fence. “The main pool is closed for player safety and security.” The bar was also closed due to the governor’s order to close bars that do less than 50% of their business with food. Not sure why Enchanted Rose would fit this description given their extensive menu but apparently it did. I said it didn’t sound like there was a lot to do at GF and the cheerful back office cast said, “and just to remind you, DVC has waived all cancellation penalties at this time!” So we decided to cancel this reservation then. I asked DH to pick another resort and he said Beach Club — I forgot to mention earlier that we had already booked BCV but cancelled it when we hear Stormalong Bay would not be open. I reminded him and he decided on VWL, to just extend our stay there to two whole days :)
 

MichellT

Mouseketeer
DVC Gold
Joined
Jul 14, 2002
Day 1 for real: RR
Easy checkin with the app, we got a text that our room was ready around noon.

We were already on property, at Guest Relations at DS. Since our TiW card had expired, we knew we would have to get a new one right away. We had emailed TiW before coming (since their phone lines are closed) and they told us to come to this location specifically—made sense with the parks being closed.

Unfortunately this was misinformation. GS cannot sell new TiW cards because they are like tickets and not for sale. They said to use our old card and it should still be honored by servers. This was true throughout our stay! Although most servers made a big deal out of this, they would have to get a manager override since the card wouldn’t scan. JFYI!

We hadn’t been to RR before and I would say overall I agree with some of the impressions that I read: upscale but bland, nothing really Disney about the place. Highs were the beautiful murals in the tunnel to the Skyliners — we walked every inch of the resort — and the view from Topolino’s Terrace.

Seven(!) CMs greeted us as we walked into the resort, asked if we knew where our room was, where we were from, etc. As I was trying to stay as distant as possible, and since we had previously been isolating since March, I was a little overwhelmed by this. Good intentions, and every CM was masked with the RR themed masks.

We had booked the Preferred View and had a good view over the quiet pool. It was fine and extremely bright out at night.

While CMs were masked, guests don’t have to be once inside the pool gates and we also saw about 1/3 guests unmasked or wearing masks down/incorrectly during our stay.

After trying out both pools we had dinner at Topolino’s. Ok food on the limited menu, very good service, excellent atmosphere and view, ok value with TiW.

Around the resort as with the others we would visit, there was ample signage essentially waiving your right to sue Disney if you catch COVID, plus reminders to wear masks and distance. There were lines on the ground indicating to wait behind them approaching anything you would wait for. Mobile ordering for QS was advertised and QR codes were offered in lieu of menus at TS.506035
 
  • MichellT

    Mouseketeer
    DVC Gold
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2002
    Day 2 and 3: CC@WL (since we had canceled VGF per the above)
    Checkin was rough here. We requested a high floor room with a view of the main pool. First room, woods view 3rd floor. Back to the front desk, honestly they were rude about giving us a new room, explaining that the first room would have to be cleaned again since we entered, and we really should be happy we were there at all. They said for operational reasons, all rooms weren’t available. They offered us a room over the pool if we waited a while, which we were happy to do. Ultimately we were assigned a view of the quiet pool, eh. We picked CC for the gorgeous lodge view and I don’t know why we weren’t able to get the view we asked for given there were never more than 25 people in the pool or walking around. Front desk staff seemed very put out to deal with us at all, and said twice we should be happy with the room assigned in the app instead of coming to the desk. Also took a while for them to take our bags since there was only one bell services staff and they were on a run. This was the only place we needed our bags held so no idea if this was common.

    tl;dr is short staffing, not happy to deal with guest requests, signs and attitudes encourage you to take whatever room you’re given even though 80%+ of the resort was unoccupied.

    Pool was great! Very few people and lifeguards were happy to be there. We talked with one who said she normally worked waterparks but that the guards were called back in seniority order so she felt lucky to be there.

    Another highlight was Geyser Point! We sought this out in our quest for quiet places :). Such a sweet spot and gorgeous, plus isolated and very friendly service. I think the menu was limited but they easily handled special requests. Ate there for lunch both days.

    Whispering Canyon was also great! Dustin was our server and he was totally into it :). There were three other families in WC and we felt super comfortable. We also did Roaring Fork for breakfast, they were still learning Mobile Order so it was a little disorganized, but the food was cooked fresh and the eggs on the bagels were really delicious!

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    starry_solo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2010
    How about the "cabanas"? I think they are free and not really cabanas but lounge chairs under a roof type device?

    We have 4 nights at BRV so if we don't get parks then, we want to hang out there
     

    digiMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 18, 2005
    This sounds like so much fun :) The most I’ve done is 3 resorts over 7 days. But with parks closed this sounds like an adventure!!
     

    DVC Doctor

    Member since 2001
    DVC Gold
    Joined
    Mar 19, 2014
    Normally 5 resorts in 5 days would be torture, but I get what you are doing and now is probably the best time to do that. Good luck.
     

    wishicouldgomoreofte

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 14, 2007
    Day 2: CC@WL
    Checkin was rough here. We requested a high floor room with a view of the main pool. First room, woods view 3rd floor. Back to the front desk, honestly they were rude about giving us a new room, explaining that the first room would have to be cleaned again since we entered, and we really should be happy we were there at all. They said for operational reasons, all rooms weren’t available. They offered us a room over the pool if we waited a while, which we were happy to do. Ultimately we were assigned a view of the quiet pool, eh. We picked CC for the gorgeous lodge view and I don’t know why we weren’t able to get the view we asked for given there were never more than 25 people in the pool or walking around. Front desk staff seemed very put out to deal with us at all, and said twice we should be happy with the room assigned in the app instead of coming to the desk. Also took a while for them to take our bags since there was only one bell services staff and they were on a run. This was the only place we needed our bags held so no idea if this was common.

    tl;dr is short staffing, not happy to deal with guest requests, signs and attitudes encourage you to take whatever room you’re given even though 80%+ of the resort was unoccupied.

    Pool was great! Very few people and lifeguards were happy to be there. We talked with one who said she normally worked waterparks but that the guards were called back in seniority order so she felt lucky to be there.

    Another highlight was Geyser Point! We sought this out in our quest for quiet places :). Such a sweet spot and gorgeous, plus isolated and very friendly service. I think the menu was limited but they easily handled special requests. Ate there for lunch both days.

    Whispering Canyon was also great! Dustin was our server and he was totally into it :). There were three other families in WC and we felt super comfortable. We also did Roaring Fork for breakfast, they were still learning Mobile Order so it was a little disorganized, but the food was cooked fresh and the eggs on the bagels were really delicious!
    That seems rather inexcusable the front desk being so rude, and "you should be happy to be here and take what you get" attitude. I don't usually recommend complaining, but in this case, I think you should send an email to DVC guest relations describing the experience. Not to get compensated, but for them to address it with front desk staff. I would think they don't want that attitude to continue.
    When I stayed at CC, I got a wonderful salad (twice) at Geyser Point that had quinoa and steak. It was really good. I see it is not on the current menu. I don't know why. I hope they bring it back.
    Waiting for the rest of your report.
    Would you say RR is not worth 2 nights? I have 2 nights booked for Dec, but don't know if covid will have subsided enough for me to go.
     

    MichellT

    Mouseketeer
    DVC Gold
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2002
    That seems rather inexcusable the front desk being so rude, and "you should be happy to be here and take what you get" attitude. I don't usually recommend complaining, but in this case, I think you should send an email to DVC guest relations describing the experience. Not to get compensated, but for them to address it with front desk staff. I would think they don't want that attitude to continue.
    When I stayed at CC, I got a wonderful salad (twice) at Geyser Point that had quinoa and steak. It was really good. I see it is not on the current menu. I don't know why. I hope they bring it back.
    Waiting for the rest of your report.
    Would you say RR is not worth 2 nights? I have 2 nights booked for Dec, but don't know if covid will have subsided enough for me to go.
    Yup. At Wilderness Lodge. I've been reading up on that since I'm staying at BRV. Let me see if ai can find the link.

    Found one
    The cabanas were wide open when we were there. These were at BR (so the quiet pool). We didn't see any of them in use but they seemed open. As opposed to the cabanas at the Poly quiet pool, which had signs on them guiding you to book them through Recreation for a fee.

    As for the Geyser Point salad -- it IS there! You have to click on the Lounge mealtime in the dropdown instead of Lunch and Dinner -- both menus are available full-time. It's weird :-) I had the salad with salmon both days :-)
     

    MichellT

    Mouseketeer
    DVC Gold
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2002
    That seems rather inexcusable the front desk being so rude, and "you should be happy to be here and take what you get" attitude. I don't usually recommend complaining, but in this case, I think you should send an email to DVC guest relations describing the experience. Not to get compensated, but for them to address it with front desk staff. I would think they don't want that attitude to continue.
    When I stayed at CC, I got a wonderful salad (twice) at Geyser Point that had quinoa and steak. It was really good. I see it is not on the current menu. I don't know why. I hope they bring it back.
    Waiting for the rest of your report.
    Would you say RR is not worth 2 nights? I have 2 nights booked for Dec, but don't know if covid will have subsided enough for me to go.
    One more answer -- We had no trouble covering RR in one night. There are two pools that are visible from each other, one bar, one QS, one TS. There is a 1.3mi walking path through CBR -- but it was closed while we were there so we just covered the walk from the Beachy area to the Skyliner.
     

    MichellT

    Mouseketeer
    DVC Gold
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2002
    Day 4: Kidani @ AKL -- Savannah View (replaced Jambo House per closure, was upgraded to 1BR)
    Since we have never been to either AKL resort or the hotel, we were most excited about this night! Plus with the 1BR it was a good place to stretch out a bit and use the washer/dryer. We decided that since the checkin the at CC@WL was such a bummer, to just have no expectations of our room at Kidani, which was easy since we hadn't been there before! We got the text right at 11a that our room was available and headed there straight from WL. We were on the 5th floor near the Pumbaa elevator, according to the text, which meant nothing to us.

    Pros: Large villa, really cool Lion King mural in the huge master bathroom, cool artifacts in the elevator lobbies, and Sanaa! Great dinner there.
    Cons: No animals outside our room :(. Right before dinner, we finally saw one animal, and the next morning, we saw another, and there was a giraffe off in the distance if you peered really hard. Kidani lobby is super tiny, impossible to socially distance. No QSR at the resort and limited snacks in the market shop. Pool is ridiculously small given the resort size and even with low occupancy, was packed.

    So for those of you who have been to Kidani, you will note that the Pumbaa elevator is the farthest from the lobby. We dropped our stuff and walked 1200 steps to the lobby and out the front door to the pool, which was packed. We weren't comfortable with the crowd in the pool actually. So, we decided to get lunch at the Maji and at 11:45a, they were out of the entrees except for the plant-based salad. No other QS at the resort so options are super limited. As luck would have it, thunder rolled in (two claps, followed by about a 15-minute rain) and they closed the pool while we were eating lunch. This turned out to be a big plus, since we were sitting at the pool bar and got to go back into the pool right when it re-opened! It was clear then and we got to swim for over an hour before the crowd picked back up. I am not sure how this pool this small could possibly be sufficient for a resort this big at full occupancy.

    We guessed that the shower would have brought out some animals so scurried back to our room. Again, no animals. Hmm ... not sure why (yet). We were easily able to change to an earlier dinner time and were excited to go back to Sanaa, so cleaned up and trekked back to the lobby (this day turned out to have our most steps of the trip!). We had a great dinner at Sanaa (the ever-popular and much-photographed bread service and Potjie Inspired combo) and as we ate, there were tons of animals on that part of the savannah! We watched a green truck come out and load up all the feeding spots on the loop, and then, go back to the enclosures! They never laid any food in the loop we were on -- mystery solved! Back at our room at night, we could see the 8 or 10 rooms occupied to our right, but none to our left -- we were in the farthest assigned room from the main part of the resort and on the starving savannah! This was a huge disappointment. It think it would have been fine for Disney to compress the feeding routine, but in that case they should have put all the guests in the savannah that actually had animals!!

    Also posting picture of Sanaa checkin in case anyone is curious about the restaurant checkin process now. In general, we didn't see hosts at the podium, but they would come out once in a while to look for the mobile checkins. Like the mobile resort checkins, this process doesn't alow you to make any requests (although it has a screen for allergies and special occasions, represented by checkboxes). We waited for the host and requested a window table -- we actually got the corner table and it was awesome! We also had great service. Sanaa was the only highlight of our Kidani stay. I would not stay there again but I'm sure for others who love it, they've had better experiences with actual animals near the rooms.

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    wishicouldgomoreofte

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 14, 2007
    I haven't stayed at Kadani, and I fly in, rather than drive, and don't rent a car. But I always see "nearest to the Pumbaa Elevator" when people ask for room suggestions. I think the elevator is supposed to be able to go right down to the parking garage, where you park underneath, which is near and convenient. I also think it is supposed to be near the pool. Maybe there is a shortcut down and out you didn't know about. But I could be wrong about that. (Maybe take the Pumbaa elevator down and walk out from the parking garage and over to pool?)
    At Jambo, there is a plain brown door that looks like for employees only, but guests can use it with their card or magic band, that cuts doubling back around through the lobby, etc, out to the buses You do take stairs down, which some can't do, but it cuts about a mile off the trek. There are some other "short cuts" to different parts of the resort to the pool, Mara, laundry, etc. The signs just say stuff like use your magic band after 10PM, little signs you have to be close to read. So many Guests don't know about them and that they can use them. I take stairs a lot, because it is usually a short cut.
     
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    ammo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 20, 2007
    For those going to Kidani in the near future during the NBA Jambo House takeover, reminder there will be no Izumi Springs Pool, no Mara, no Jiko and no Boma.
    Is Jambo included in either the NBA or MLS bubbles? I thought the GF was the only DVC property involved with either league.
     

    Mamiamjo

    "M-I-C... S-E"
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2003
    Thanks for posting MitchellT, looking forward to the last resort. If you don't mind my asking, When was it that you stayed?
     

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