stopher1's Father-Sons Adventure: Star Wars Weekend - May 2009

TammyNC

<font color=red>WISH Biggest Loser/Red Team</font>
Joined
Dec 7, 2003
Great report and pictures, thanks for sharing!!
 

mecllap

<font color=limegreen>"Skamps"<br><font color=mage
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
We got in line to meet Darth Vader and get his autograph. We had to endure the changeout 3 times, which meant we were in line for about 45 min. The poor guy(s) could only stand out there in the heat in that very heavy, very black, very hot I'm sure costume for 10 min at a time.

The only classic characters (from the original trilogy) giving autographs was the beach-bum Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Not even a storm trooper. We have Green Army Man autographs for heaven's sake in our Disney character autograph collection...how hard would it have been to have a couple of Storm Troopers giving out an autograph or standing for a photo op? Or R2-D2? He was in the parade...

.
Really -- they have Darth Vader outside now? Bummer -- altho the photo looks like it shows up better.

And no Chewbacca? -- that will be a major bummer for us.

Thanks for the detailed report -- nice to know what to expect (and not to) this year.
 

stopher1

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2008
**The best news of the day... it wasn't as hot today, Sunday, as it was yesterday!** :) And lots more breeze, and no rain at all.

This morning we got up earlier, and got on the bus headed for DHS by 7:10. My 13 yo was not too thrilled with me (go figure, he's 13) because he slept through his alarm while I was in the shower, and therefore wasn't up at 6 like he was hoping to be. The entire ride over to the park was doom & gloom that we wouldn't get the coveted (and required) FP for getting Matthew Wood's autograph. Nevermind that we arrived at the park by 7:20, and the line was only about 45-50 people long. Some of the CM's said that the head of the line folks had arrived at around 6:30. (NEXT WEEKEND, I BELIEVE is supposed to be Jeremy Bullock & David Prowse - at least that's what the CM's said - and they are fully expecting people to be lining up at about 5:00-5:30 for the FP's...)

I was quite impressed with the number of CM's out working the entry plaza, as well as how organized it was. There were 3 different lines going for the 2 main draws (Mayhew & Woods, and then also for Jay Laga'aia). Numerous folks showed up in costumes, some quite elaborate, others not as much. Many, many people came with things to have signed. Some were chatting in groups, others just quietly reading a book or listening to their iPods. It was quite organized and orderly.





We did end up getting the coveted TIMED FP that would guarantee us the siggie. We wanted the first session, but ended up getting the 2nd session. Not a problem. We are flexible and could adjust. With that 2:35 FP in hand, we decided to jump on the boat and head for Epcot. We could have gotten back into line to receive a 2nd person if we'd wanted to, but we didn't see the need. At one point a CM came out and announced to everyone in the area (multiple x's for all to be able to hear) that anyone wanting Peter Mayhew's siggie could get back in line for a 2nd FP, but that was the limit. If someone tried to come through more x's than that, he would refuse to sign anything additional for them. That particular CM, and then a couple of others stated that Mr. Mayhew was getting a bit perturbed and disgusted with the whole process. I don't know about that personally, as he was quite gracious and polite when we went through the line yesterday. I also learned that his favorite film from the series is the same as mine, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

After the requisite stops,


we arrived at the International Gateway moments before the park opened. We then headed to Soarin' and got FP's for a 10:50 return time. At that point the Standby line was 25 min. We quickly made our way over to Test Track (40 min SB line already), jumped in the Single Rider line and were exiting the building less than 10 mins later. :) The boys haven't done Ellen's Energy in a while, so that was our next destination.


After Ellen we made our way over to Club Cool to check out some of the fun flavors from around the world... we really liked the Watermelon flavored soda from China. And then it was on to Journey Into Imagination. We always enjoy that one (though I still miss the original... oh well, that's "progress" now isn't it?) After all of that, it was time to return to Soarin' for our flight. It was awesome once again, as it always is. Good thing we had the FP's too, since the Standby line by this point was over an hour.



I've loved that ride since it first opened at DCA, (we were living less than 10 min from the DL resort at that time and could go to the park(s) every day if we wanted to, and often did go 3-4x per week just for a ride or two, or a ride and dinner, or just to shop...I miss those days). I am SO very glad that they brought it to Epcot. My only complaint/wish, is that they would have a Single Rider line for it at Epcot like they do at DCA. Whenever I'm here alone, I miss that opportunity to ride if FP's aren't available.

We chose Mexican for lunch. It was good. We've never had Mexican food at Epcot before, so it was a nice first time meal there for us.

That now brings me up to 8 of the 11 nations that I've eaten in. Just Germany, Japan and France to go.

Being part Norwegian myself (my mom was born there), every visit entails a ride on Maelstrom and looking in the shops, and often inside the Stave Church. Needless to say it is one of my favorite WS pavilions. We don't always stick around for the movie after the ride, but this time we did.



We then worked our way around the WS. Since my DD was not with us, there were no character stops. And since my DW wasn't there, no shopping either. The only thing I was most interested in and stopped for a few times were the character topiaries. I didn't realize that the Flower & Garden stuff was still there. Those were pretty cool to see.


I think my favorite was the Captain Hook vs. the Crocodile display back near Italy & Germany, and the boys' was the Stitch one near Mission: Space.





I did also like the Lion King figures (3 separate display areas) at the end of the main walk way on the FW side just where the WS lagoon walk begins.


The other big draw for us in WS was the Kaki Gori shaved ice in Japan. All 3 of us love those, and always have to stop there and enjoy one. Yummy! :thumbsup2 Then it was back to the Friendship boat headed for the Studios.

Back at the Studios we contemplated doing a couple of things, but ended up just enjoying some ice water outside of the Dockside Diner while waiting for the autograph session. After that we left and headed back for the resort. A quick rest, change of clothes and a bag packed, and we headed out to the Boardwalk for some nice pool hopping. That Keister Coaster was a big draw for us. That and the ice cream/candy/snack shop there on the boardwalk itself.

While at the Boardwalk we had dinner there at the Boardwalk Bakery, and then rented a surrey for a couple of trips around Crescent Lake.


It was our first time being on the BCV side of the water, so we got to see Stormalong Bay a little bit. Now both boys want to stay there to try it out. (It's starting to seem like we're going to hit that elusive every WDW DVC resort mark sooner rather than later! :rotfl:) They started asking to see if there was some way we could stay there in 2010...doubtful, since we're only planning one family trip to the World in '10 and another longish family trip out to DL later in '10...but who knows? Maybe some other long weekend type trip will pop up.

After the ride, we enjoyed the pool. There's still a lot of painting and roof repair work going on at BWV, and they were on the main pool side of the building. Lots of scaffolding and protective mesh down around the entry doors.


Our evening was then capped off with a trip over to DTD to see the new "Night at the Museum" film. We enjoyed it. The ferry boat back to OKW was quite pleasant as well. The Characters in flight balloon is beautiful at night, illuminated from within, and of course the OKW landing is lovely at night all lit up.



We do leave for home tomorrow night, so our morning will also be filled with packing our bags and returning all of our items back into our Owner's Locker (what an ABSOLUTELY wonderful box it is too... so many great things inside that have helped us out - I just LOVE having it. Can't sing it's praises enough. If you're on the fence and have any questions about getting one - just PM me, and I'll be happy to share...Love, love, love it!) :thumbsup2

Night all.
 
  • stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    Really -- they have Darth Vader outside now? Bummer -- altho the photo looks like it shows up better.

    And no Chewbacca? -- that will be a major bummer for us.

    Thanks for the detailed report -- nice to know what to expect (and not to) this year.
    Yes, he was located outside, near the Studio Catering counter service, and the shop there at the end of the backlot street, next to the set of restrooms. The only saving grace about that particular location was the roof overhead giving a good deal of shade, the fans overhead and nearby, and the a/c blowing out from the shop. All of the other character autograph/photo op spots were out in elements.

    WE did not see Chewbacca as an opportunity for autographs or photo ops. That doesn't mean he wasn't there at some point, but on Saturday as we traversed the park back and forth he was not there.
     

    dianeschlicht

    <font color=blue>DVC-Trivia Contest, Apr-2006: Hon
    Joined
    Nov 22, 2000
    Cool! I love trip reports with pictures!

    Ask my wife; I get a big smile on my face when I see what's shown below. Only 146 days to go... sigh.
    LOL! I was thinking the same thing, Mike! The OKW picture of the dock on Turtle Crawl did it for me too!
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    Our final day for this trip took us to the Magic Kingdom. After 3 days in a row of being up early, we “slept in”, and stayed at the resort until about 10. It was clean-up, pack and check-out for us, and then off to enjoy a few hours at the park. It was hot again today, and it was crowded! Today was the most crowded we’ve seen all weekend long. The bus was standing room only, and it took 10 minutes just to get through the bag/backpack check and then through the turnstiles.

    The Magic Kingdom is my favorite park at WDW. Crossing under the train tracks, through those tunnels leaving today and entering worlds of yesterday tomorrow and fantasy always brings a smile to my face – even when it’s crowded. For me, the crowds are just part of it all. I can tolerate them much better than my wife or children can. Perhaps it has something to do with those years as a Cast Member at Disneyland… having to get from backstage to your work area in 5 min (with no utilidors to hide you and provide clear access) – zigging and zagging, avoiding strollers and those fun folks who couldn’t care less about anyone else and will just STOP in the middle of the street, sidewalk or wherever they happen to be at that moment for this or that reason. I recall many a day having to do all that, and get across the parade route with a throng of people, and still being able to make it across the park in 5 minutes. To this day my family gets annoyed with me, yes… but then always ask me to lead the way when it’s crowded. :)

    We had a limited amount of time since we had to be back to OKW to board the DME bus later in the afternoon, so we knew we could only do so much. Since it was so warm, naturally Splash Mountain was on my 13 yo’s agenda…and I couldn’t blame him. We talked about heading over on the train, but the boys wanted to get a snack from the Bakery, so the latter won out, and after our snack we walked over to Splash. WOW, there were a LOT of groupings of kids today also…older kids. High school and college aged kids. As we were passing through Adventureland (for the restrooms near the Diamond Horseshoe crossing and a Dole Whip on the go!), we were behind/next to a large contingent from some high school band group (adults holding signs up all over the place so the kids wouldn’t get away from the herd). Then into Frontierland for the remainder of the walk and several groupings of 20 somethings I believe in town from Duke (lots of athletic apparel from Duke anyway). We got a FP, and then jumped in the standby line (said 30 min – ended up being about 40). Had a blast. The boys were in the front row and of course got wet, just not as wet as they’d hoped. The 2nd time round they ended up back in the front row, and that time we got a bit more wet. Fun stuff.

    We had FP’s for BTMRR but it broke down, so it was a no-go, since our time was limited. Pirates, lunch at Pecos Bill and the Haunted Mansion rounded out our time on the west side of the park. The line for the HM line was wrapping in and around the old Mike Fink Keel Boats structure, as well as out into the walkways across from Columbia Harbor House, with several switchbacks. It only took about 30 minutes. Thank goodness the HM is such the people eater! I love that endless chains of moving vehicles.

    The HM is my all-time favorite attraction. I have always loved it, ever since I was a little kid. It was a dream of mine to be able to don that butler’s costume, but alas it never transpired for me. I was stuck in Foods at DL. But evenso, it remains a must-do every time I’m at either resort. I love the enhancements that they made to WDW’s HM a couple of years ago, especially the endless steps scene – and replacing those big ugly spiders with the transforming portrait corridor like DL’s Mansion. I will admit that I do prefer the antebellum New Orleans mansion from DL (New Orleans Square remains my all-time favorite land) – but WDW’s is every bit as enjoyable. And the wonderful creaking sounds and surround sound of the Ghost Host in the Stretching Room at WDW is/are wonderful – I wish they’d add them in at DL. So of course, that was the one attraction that I wanted to visit most today.

    We pretty much knew we wouldn’t be in Fantasyland or Toontown today, but weren’t quite sure what else we wanted to see. We did know we wanted to end our time there with an ice cream cone on Main Street – so we ended up over in Tomorrowland on Buzz. That’s always a fun little ride, but today 2 of us had bad shooters. Both my 10 yo and I didn’t do as well as we normally do because the buttons were hard and not shooting very often, but that’s okay. It was still fun. And in my vehicle, the directional joystick was loose, as I kept spinning without moving the joystick – so I had to spend half my time just fighting the vehicle to keep it pointed in the direction I wanted it to be. Still I got 75000+ (normally I’ll get 2-3x that, but oh well…at least the scoring is just for fun and not for something real, huh?)


    SOME GENERAL RESORT OBSERVATIONS / IMPRESSIONS:
    OKW is a very nice resort. I can see why so many people enjoy it. The room was nice and large. The bathroom – wow…it’s larger than my kids’ bathroom at home. I liked the balcony, even though we looked out onto nothing (woods, right there trying to mask the entrance road and a bunch of a/c boxes on the ground).

    We did have a couple of concerns about ripped seats on the chairs, and the light fixture over the bed I slept in was loose, as well as the tub drained really, really slowly (I have notified the resort staff about these things).
    There was plenty of room on the floor for our twin air mattress for my 10 yo to use, so that we each had our own bed. That was great. (Thanks OL that our mattress/sheets were already there!)

    The front desk staff at check-in was quite friendly, albeit quite slow. The CM didn't appear to be in training, but was not the most efficient either. She kept doubling back over information already asked for or provided. I wasn't all that impressed with that. Since we arrived early our room wasn't ready yet. They offered to call me, text me or I could call the number to find our our room after 4 pm. I asked for the text option, 3 times actually, and still we got a voice-mail. The fact that I got the VM was okay, of course, since I didn't need to call in, but if you ask someone their preference, and they tell you 3 different times, why do it another way? I really wanted the text message because accessing texts is just plain easier on my particular phone than VM is. As it was I had to call it twice since I didn't have a pen with me the first time and I just plain didn't remember the room # 5 minutes later. Pet peeve is what this is... if I say text, I mean text. Kind of like telling my kids to do A and they do B instead... drives me crazy.

    The Bell staff was extremely friendly and efficient. I found them to be moreso than the staff at AKV on our last visit, but then maybe being in building 14 helped with that impression, I can’t say for certain. Perhaps if we’d been back in the south side of the resort that impression would be different? I can’t say…

    The bed was just ok. Not too hard, not too soft, but not quite right, IMO.

    The pool was quite nice. We loved the Jacuzzi. Had a couple of very nice conversations in it with other members, as well, everyone there seemed genuinely warm and friendly.

    The amenities are plentiful and a good mix, IMO. The transportation was adequate – though we don’t like the overall layout of the resort and the various little “wings” with one way roads that the buses go down and then have to turn around and come back. Totally a personal preference here, but I much prefer a design that is more of a loop than something kind of like a star – or a single point of drop-off/pick-up like at Jambo House or Kidani Village (granted the buses are connected now for the resort, but they do make a loop connecting the two different buildings). I really like the option of the ferry to get to DTD. We used that a couple of times. Loved it. (I also remember loving it when we stayed at Port Orleans a few years ago, and know we’ll use it at THV this coming January as well).

    Papa’s Den was nice. I sat there for a while and really enjoyed it. It was peaceful, but then the entire resort seems peaceful to me. Quite the contrast from the hustle and bustle we experienced previously at Boardwalk.

    We didn't try Olivia's but I do want to go back and try it sometime.

    Overall I liked it at OKW, and can see myself staying there again.
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    Streams of people, pouring out from every transportation mode available, descending on the MK today


    Splash Mtn twice on a hot day... good stuff


    From the top of Chick-a-Pin hill, about to be "thrown" into the Briar patch


    El Castillo - at dinner last week my 13 yr old was arguing with me that Pirates at WDW is not located inside a castle fortress... sometimes you just have to have proof for your know-it-all teenagers that Dad does know something now and again


    the endless chess match


    My personal favorite attraction


    My boys... I remember them as toddlers running around being perfectly fine with talking to the princesses and getting their autographs. Today when the little show on the castle stage was taking place, there they were, literally trying to run away, and wishing out loud...loudly too (as dad tries to hide and pretend I don't know them) that a bomb might come and take them out, or a strategically placed sniper on the roofs of Liberty Square. Ahh the little nut-jobs they've become :lmao: and such as it was, that was the "nice" ending to our father/sons weekend - my sons plotting against the princesses. They do like Disney...really. :rolleyes1 They're were just missing having their mom and sister along...yeah, that's it. I'm sure that's it.
     

    cjs123123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 14, 2008
    I am so happy that you and your boys had such a great time!!! We leave today for wdw and reading other peoples trips makes me more excited to go!!! When you were talking about mk I feel the same way big smile on my face, no care in the world but the moment you are in right there and than!!! Thanks for all the great tips aswell on sw!!! Thanks again now I have to pack!!!
     

    cj9200

    DIS Dad #412
    Joined
    Dec 22, 2006
    Thanks for the report. Sounds like a great time was had by all. Our dad/daughter trip starts next week. Can't wait.
     

    nunzia

    You can't top pigs with pigs, but you CAN top Toys
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2007
    Such fun! I'm looking more forward to my WDW/OKW trip in January now (DLR vet here)
     

    BigEeyore

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 22, 2008
    Hi! I really enjoyed your TR! Where/when did you work at DL? I was also a CM there summers of 1990 and 91 in fantasyland foods - mostly Carnation Plaza Gardens and Village Haus. I too wanted to work at the HM - I wanted to have the bat hair thing!
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    Hi! I really enjoyed your TR! Where/when did you work at DL? I was also a CM there summers of 1990 and 91 in fantasyland foods - mostly Carnation Plaza Gardens and Village Haus. I too wanted to work at the HM - I wanted to have the bat hair thing!
    Thanks. I was at CPG from '87-89. Year round though, I worked from HS into college at DL. My roommate in college ended up hiring in based on my suggestion, and wouldn't you know it, he got to be in attractions. He was actually on the opening crew for Splash, and then later got to do Pirates, the Jungle Cruise, and of course, the Mansion. Ugh. Oh well.
     

    culli

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 19, 2008



    Is it just me or does it look like Daffy Duck's face in this picture:confused3

    Ok can't get only the one pic to post but check out the pic from Splash Mtn.
     

    podsnel

    <font color=blue>just skippin' around, amusing mys
    Joined
    Nov 14, 2007
    That was a lot of fun to read!! Such a wonderful thing- going with your boys!!:goodvibes

    And thanks for all your opinions on OKW- DH & I have our first trip planned there in September and you've made me VERY excited for it!! Sounds like just what we'll need- peace and quiet and relaxation!!:cloud9:

    Can I ask- what do you keep in your OL that makes it so wonderful for you?

    Thanks for writing a great report-

    Ellen
     

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