Just back -- a first timer's experiences (looong)

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by mrobsch, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. mrobsch

    mrobsch Earning My Ears

    Jun 18, 2012
    We just got back from a first-time stay at the Poly Dec. 15-21, including my Disney-reluctant DH, DD7 and DD3. The trip was practically perfect, thanks in large part to the collective wisdom gleaned here, so I wanted to share our experience in case it helps anyone.

    We lucked out with crowds and weather -- 80 every day, no rain, dropped to a brisk 60 the day we left. We used EMH rather than advised parks, but using RD/FP it worked out fine.

    We got a Tahiti theme-park view with balcony, as requested. Liked the location near TTC, although far to fill up mugs. Room was fine, reno definitely due. Staff was great, sent up complimentary shaving cream for DH. Got our Garden Grocer delivery, then headed off for a fun dip at the volcano pool -- our only time the whole trip! Our first meal, lunch at Captain Cook’s was pretty underwhelming. Glad we were mostly doing TS. At 6, we watched the Poly’s fire show, then roasted marshmallows on the beach, then headed to our first dinner at O’hana, with its amazing bread, salad, wings, pot stickers and noodles, (and so-so meat, but by then I was full anyway). But the dessert was worth it, spectacular. We checked out the nightly electric parade on the lake and headed to room for fireworks.

    Sunday, we headed to HS for RD around 8:30. The morning went so smoothly -- Hit TSM walk on, then got FP, then did VotLM, Disney Jr., Star Tours, then back to TSM, snack at Starring Rolls, then the Beauty & Beast show. My DD7 was a little traumatized by ToT, but the recommended Oreo milkshake at SciFi cheered her up and my rueben hit the spot. Best of all, my DD3 took a much-needed, surprise nap in the stroller the whole meal. We enjoyed American Idol tryouts, and the HISTK playground. Headed back to rest and returned for a decent meal at MM and to see the Osborne Lights.

    Monday, 8am, our first MK day. We monorailed to RD, saw opening show, I sent DH ahead for PP FP -- which we didn’t even end up needing, raced to ETWB, walked on, both kids got parts/pics, then waited 5 minute for new mermaid ride, met Ariel, then walked on PP twice, Pooh twice, Dumbo twice and Barnstormer twice, carousel -- all by 10:30. We were doing so well, I headed us to lunch at BOG -- the line was already well past the bridge. This 30-minute wait was a disaster for us -- kids (and DH) were tired, cranky, hungry, cramped, really annoyed at me, even though food turned out great (steak sandwich and quiche, and lemon cupcake). By the time we got out, park was getting crazy busy, we did HM and BTMRR and left.

    Pt. 2: After nap, we returned for 6:40 dinner at CRT. Watched castle lighting at 6:15 and headed in. The girls seemed unimpressed -- until the princesses started circulating. Then, they were over the moon. After, around 8, I maneuvered us to an already-packed parade waiting spot on Main Street by the Plaza ice cream store, while my crowd-phobic DH took my DD7 to ride Space Mt. He dropped her with me and checked into the Wishes dessert party early. My DDs loved MSEP. (I did speak up to some rude dad who came 5 minutes before parade time and pushed his 3 little kids in front of all of us to the curb, claiming it was “all for the kids” but decided to let it go -- my kids could see well enough from our 3rd row spot.) After, I whipped them into the party no problem. I had snagged early enough tickets that we were front row, in table 102, I think. Tink flew, Wishes was great. Even my DH had to admit it was worth every penny it to watch from up there, sweets just a bonus. Never found the photopass photographer, though. We lingered, then headed to Tomorrowland’s People Mover and Buzz until crowds died down and took the boat right home.

    Tuesday: The Dark Side -- we headed to Universal and it was a disaster. Partly, we were tired from our late night, or just had a run of back luck. But my Harry Potter obsessed daughter had been waiting months for this part of the trip. We RD and headed to wand shop, then the main ride, FJ. She and DH got stuck midway, they turned on the lights and it basically ruined the experience for her. She came out pretty upset. The, the locker wouldn’t open and I needed a CM to retrieve my bag. My younger banged her head during the jerky Flight of the Hippograph coaster. So we headed to Suessland, where a 10 minute train ride wait time morphed into 45 minutes. Then, in a water play area, a woman in a EVC backed over my DD7’s foot. We headed to First Aid for some ice/ibuprofen and got her a wheelchair, since she was limping (she was fine by that night). To cheer her up, we went back to Potterland and ate at Three Broomsticks, which did redeem itself somewhat, (short line, good eats, amazing ambience) but we left, kind of not feeling the love with Universal.

    Back at Disney, Wednesday, we had a PERFECT day at AK. Used EMH for Safari, FotLK while DH did EE twice, lunch at Tusker House was amazing food, the girls loved the characters and Affection Section, where they brushed goats for an hour, rode Dinosaur twice, played in Boneyard, saw Pooh and Friends on the way out, then raced to Saana for probably our best meal of the trip (bread app, steak, fish and chai).

    Thursday, our last MK day, we finished up Tomorrowland (Speedway, Buzz, AstroOrbitor, Monsters Inc (they picked my DD’s joke), Carousel, then did Small World, Pirates, Flying Carpets, Jungle Cruise, nothing with more than a 10 minute wait or using FP). Had a good meal at Columbia Harbor House. My DD7 and DH got stuck again, this time mid-ride on Splash, and had to be evacuated, and got extra FPs. We went back later, and using FP and Child Swap they rode it 4 times in a row, while DD3 and I met Merida. We left before the party started and took boat to HDDR, which I found as hilarious as the kids (thanks to two glasses of sangria). We boarded a bus headed back to monorail resorts right after the show, but didn’t love that it sat for more than half an hour before we were finally allowed to leave, with only three groups aboard.

    Take aways: My kids liked meeting characters way more than I planned for, but we went with it. They were far less excited about nightly fireworks from their room than I’d expected, but hey, I enjoyed the view. My family didn’t “get” at first why we had to be at park before opening, but after day one, they did and my DH became a FP devotee. The kids got better at waiting patiently on lines, (thanks to iTouches). My DH fell in love with Space Mt., which made the trip for him. We did DDP, and even thought I managed our value very carefully, we ended up with some extra TS and snack credits, so used them on candy to bring home. Glad we rented a car, driving/parking was easy and our one bus experience wasn’t great. One thing no one told us: Best photo of us with castle was not on a crowded Main St, but that side view near rose garden, we are using that shot for our holiday card!

    Thanks again DISers, happy to answer questions.
  2. smileymomof3

    smileymomof3 Mouseketeer

    Jul 15, 2012
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. We just got back from our first trip as well and I felt the same way about all the advice I got here! Glad you had a magical trip! :-)
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  4. RMulieri

    RMulieri DIS Veteran

    Jul 5, 2001
    Great report! Sorry you didn't enjoy Universal.Sounds like it was a combo of being tired and a run of bad luck..Forbidden Journey is great but because it is the main reason people go to universal, and it opened 2 yrs ago( will be 3 yrs in June), it tends to go down now and then and they can't take it down for rehab..We had such a blast there and plan to go there this August for 6 days.

    WEDWDW DIS Veteran

    Mar 27, 2004
    WOW!That was a wonderfully planned trip-how impressive for a first-timer!:)

    When will your second trip be?;):)

    I am not familiar with this "Universal" of which you speak!;):)
  6. jackemail

    jackemail Disney Veteran

    May 31, 2004
    So glad you had a wonderful trip!
  7. Tink1987

    Tink1987 DIS Veteran

    Jan 12, 2012
    Sounds like you had a great trip - are you hooked now then? :)
  8. Cyrano

    Cyrano DIS Veteran

    Oct 23, 2004
    Moving to trip reports :)
  9. OnSpaceshipEarth

    OnSpaceshipEarth DIS Veteran

    Oct 27, 2010
    I've never really liked Universal a whole lot. I haven't been there since Harry Potter opened. How did you all like the "new" Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom?
  10. Lyn-CA

    Lyn-CA DIS Veteran

    Sep 9, 1999
    Were you able to view Celebrate the Magic from the Wishes party? If so, how did you find the view from there? Did you like it or did you wish you were somewhere in front of the castle instead?

  11. mrobsch

    mrobsch Earning My Ears

    Jun 18, 2012
    Oops! I forgot to include two things: We did the 9pm animation drawing class at HS and my DH and DD7 got to draw Mickey! His was pretty decent, made for a great keepsake. My DD3 loved the coloring on the computer game in the lobby.

    Also, one night, the girls did the Neverland Club while we ate at Kona. They loved it and begged to go back...they made crafts and headbands and a map. Very pleased with whatever they are doing with the kids. We thought Kona was just ok, bread was good but my tuna wasn't sushi-grade quality, just so so. The Lapu Lapu was good, and our chocolate fondue dessert was yummy.

    We loved our trip and hope to return in a year or two, we saved Epcot and water parks for next time when the girls are older. Maybe as soon as our youngest is 44 inches? Now I just have to break my "addiction" to these boards :)

    We liked New Fantasyland, but to us, it was all "new," since the girls had never been, kwim? We didn't do the splash pad, their favorite I'd say was the Dumbo play area (and the playgrounds in the other parks, honestly).

    I could definitely see what was going on with the castle changing colors during Celebrate the Magic, but the audio/storyline was less clear... Maybe because it was hard to hear the way it was piped in. I was probably just distracted getting my kids drinks, arranging glow sticks, my younger was being fussy and wasn't as interested in watching, so it was hard to pay attention or hear what was being said. Also, it replayed right after Wishes while we were still sitting there, but we paid even less attention that time. It was a sensory overload, I think.

    We did watch that Cinderella's Holiday Wishes at 6:15 right in front of the castle, and definitely was able to follow along, so I think if its important to get a clear audio of the show, might be better to stand down in front. But I was glad my strategy of MSEP down on Main St, and Wishes up at dessert party worked out.

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