Yacht Club 11/15-11/22

BoatDriver

DisDad #824
Joined
May 9, 2016
Tuesday:

I arrived around 0930 and the room we were originally slated for wasn’t ready. Instead, we were given 4086, which was ready. I asked where we were originally supposed to be and looked it up on Touring Plans. It was certainly a garden view, as it looked directly into a tree, so I’ll consider that move an upgrade. 4086 was on the far end of Yacht Club, looking directly down on the quiet pool. I started unpacking to pass the time before I could grab an Uber to the airport to meet the wife and kids and take Magical Express back.

The room was a two queen unit with plenty of room for the pack n’ play for our 2yo daughter. The Yacht Club rooms are definitely in need of the upcoming refurb. Everything was clean and serviceable, but the furniture and appointments were dated and showed wear, the thermostat was simply a knob that said “cooler” on one side and “warmer” on the other, forcing us to play musical temperatures to combat the varying weather, etc. The wall safe was also one of the older versions with a regular key that was just barely big enough to hold the kids’ iPad minis and some cash. My computer, my iPad and my wife’s iPad were relegated to being stuffed in a backpack at the back of the closet and I was constantly worried about losing the key out of my pocket in the parks.

While waiting, I procured our refillable mugs and the rented stroller. The stroller, a City Mini Double, came from Orlando Stroller rentals. It was clean and serviceable, but like the room, was in need of an update. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like all the strollers I saw from Kingdom were newer and nicer. It wasn’t a deal breaker, since Orlando was a hair less expensive, but it was apparent enough for me to note it.

I met my wife and the kids at MCO around 1:00 and the adventure officially began. Disney was having some computer problems at the DME desks, so the line was lengthy, but once we got on the bus, it departed almost immediately. The first “OH WOW” moment for my 4yo son happened when he realized he could go potty on the bus. Unfortunately, he soon realized that doing so wasn’t as easy as when he’s on solid, unmoving ground. I cleaned up as best as I could and tipped the driver appropriately.

Back at the hotel, my wife took a walk with the little one to relax and get her down for a nap, while I took our son down to the pool to blow off some steam after a long plane ride. Storm Along Bay is everything it’s reported to be. The water was a little cool for my liking, but my son didn’t have any issue jumping in and alternating between the water and the sand for a couple of hours.

Once we got everyone cleaned up and settled, we took a Friendship boat across the lake to the Boardwalk for dinner at Trattoria al Forno. If you ever get the option to dine here, don’t ask questions, just book it. It was easily one of the best meals we had all week. Based on the ease of getting reservations and adjusting them as we got closer, I believe this is a grossly under-appreciated spot. My wife had the eggplant and I hat the chicken parmesan. Both were excellent, as was the calamari appetizer we ordered. It’s now rocketed up the must-have lifts future trips. Some of my later dining reviews are not as favorable, so please remember this one if you start to think I’m too difficult to please.

Wednesday:

We refer to previous times at the D.I.N.K. days. Dual-income, no kids. Those were the days when we could sleep in until 8:00 or 9:00 on vacation, wake up, wander towards breakfast, then hit the beach. I recall those days fondly, especially when I now wake up with a 4yo staring intently into my eyes from 3-inches away. Welcome to day one at Disney! Apparently he’s excited to get moving.

Shower, coffee, out the door, and off to Magic Kingdom. The bus from Yacht Club was on-time and had plenty of room. We were outside the gate to MK just as the rope dropped and it felt like we had the park to ourselves for the first couple of hours. Goofy, Buzz, Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise, Aladdin…some multiple times before the park started to fill up. We knew the park was going to be inundated the closer we got to Thanksgiving, so we made the best of what we had during the first week. Suffice to say, fun was had by all.

Dinner Wednesday night was back at the hotel for Cape May Cafe. Contrary to previous visits, this one left me a little wanting. The food was the same and certainly plentiful, but even with a full restaurant, nothing was truly hot. I still proceeded to eat my weight in crab legs (even after my darling 2yo spilled a full cup of drawn butter in my lap, thus ruining both a shirt and a pair of shorts). We’ll probably go back, but I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t what we’ve experienced in the past.

We left dinner and wandered over to Epcot via the International Gateway so Dad could have a coffee and the kids could watch the fireworks. With the kids so young, we had to do without Wishes this trip, but we tried to make up for it by watching Illuminations as many times as we could. Staying at Yacht Club made that easy since we could watch the show and be back in our room within ten minutes.

Thursday:

Up early again, and still battling with the thermostat. As mentioned earlier, those at Yacht Club are not only old-style, they have no actual temperature settings. With the weather doing its best impression of a yo-yo in November, trying to regulate the room temperature was difficult. This is also where I should mention that it took me a few days to discover that mousekeeping was turning it down to its lowest level each day when they cleaned the room. So every night when we came back, we had to dress the kids up like Shackleton until the temperature came up, at which point, they woke up hot, sweaty, and crabby around 1:00am.

Back into Magic Kingdom for much of the same. We were there early again, so we took the opportunity to visit the princesses for some photos before the wait got out of control. We went through Rapunzel’s side first since she’s a big hit at our house, followed by Cinderella and her secret special guest. (We knew who it was but checked with the cast member at the entrance. He could;t say who it was but told us “It rhymes with Elena”) Our son spent the entire fifteen minutes complaining that he didn’t want to meet any girly princesses. However, the second we walked into the room with Tiana and Rapunzel, he looked up at me and said “Daddy, I changed my mind. They’re pretty!” The princesses were all great. Poor Tiana barely got my daughter’s attention with Rapunzel in the room, and poor poor Cinderella could barely be heard over the little screams of “ELENA, ELENA!”.

With the crowds still low, the kids decided to ride the Tea Cups as many times as they could without lines, which was 4 successive rides before I decided we had to move on. Off to Goofy and Dumbo again, while we waited for my in-laws to land and make their way to Disney.

We hopped on the railroad at Storybook, and pulled into Main Street just as my in-laws walked through the front gate. As an old-time Disney fan, I could spend half the day on Main Street just looking at everything from the cast members to the windows. It really does for me everything that Walt wanted. It’s like being taken back to a simpler time and I can’t get enough. And did I mention the smells. Everyone else can take lessons from Disney on how to completely make you feel at ease with smells. It’s such a little thing unless you take the time to notice it, but once you do, you marvel at how that single sense can make everything seem right.

From there, it was Tomorrowland Speedway (gosh, I remember those cars being so much faster), It’s a Small World, Pirates, and 7DMT, where some creative FastPass & Rider Switch usage got everyone except the little one on in less than 20 minutes. Score!

When the kids hit their limit, we went back to the hotel for some much needed down time in the pool, and nap time before dinner at Via Napoli.

With the rave reviews everyone gave Via Napoli, I have to admit I expected a little more. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it had some downsides. First, the acoustics are terrible! I could barely hear our poor server, and that coupled with her accent made me curious if she actually got the order right. Second, the food was good, but not great. In retrospect, I’d have done Trattoria twice or picked somewhere else to try. Finally, we purchased the dining plan for the first time ever, and using that there was like trying to figure out one of those word problems in Algebra 1. If a pizza left the oven at 6:30, and someone wants the chicken parm, how much will it cost to pay for your kids’ meal if they want chocolate milk? (More on my dining plan thoughts later)

Friday:

We took a quasi-off-day on Friday to let the kids recharge their batteries. We woke up and lounged around the room watching cartoons until it was time for our 9:30 reservation for Minnie’s Beach Club Bash at Cape May. Breakfast was rather good. Everything was hot and tasty, and the characters spent more than thirty seconds with the kids at the table. All the characters except for Donald, that is. I’m not sure what his issue was, but he had a feather across his butt that morning. The kids didn’t notice, but I did. All the others played with the kids and posed for silly pictures, but Donald just posed for about ten seconds and moved on without even a wave. All in all, still a successful breakfast.

Quick segue into my character meal thoughts. We all know they’re expensive, and I’m happy to pay for the kids to get some one-on-one character time. But for the price, it would be nice to have a PhotoPass photographer with the characters. Maybe it’s not economical, but at almost $50/head for breakfast, it’s a bit flustering to have to get my camera out without getting food on it in order to grab some shots with the kids. We do these so we don’t have to wait in as many long lines for meet & greets, but those have photographers stationed in them, so it’s a catch 22….End Rant.

This was the day that all the elaborate Christmas decorations were going up, so we were able to watch the cast members in the process of building the chocolate carousel in the Beach Club Lobby. As they were handing out gingerbread samples, I noticed everyone was wearing buttons that said “Happy Birthday Mickey”. When I asked, I was told it was his 88th birthday and I could get a button from either the front desk, or at any of the park entrances. More on that later.

After breakfast, it was Storm Along Bay for the afternoon. Still the best pool on property, bar none. The wife was able to partake in the adult beverages, and the kids alternated between the pool, the sand bar, and the hot tub. Just prior to nap time, I was able to rent a boat and recreate a photo from my childhood. When I was younger, before my younger brothers were born and our parents didn’t have a lot of money, they booked a vacation to Disney. While there, my father rented a boat and there’s a photo of he and I at the wheel. Having now grown up to be the owner of an on-the-water rescue and assistance company, I had to have that photo with myself and my kids. Mission accomplished…and I didn’t even cry.

Friday night was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I said it was a quasi-day off, because my excitement for them to see the castle show and parade overwhelmed my good sense as the parent of a two and five-year-old. They enjoyed it. They thought it was great! But in retrospect, we should have given them the whole day off. We had some meltdowns later in the week that I think could have at least been mitigated by letting them have a whole day without complete over-stimulation.

We got to the Magic Kingdom around 4:00 where we were let in using our MVMCP tickets. By the way, I had spent about an hour that morning running around while they were in the pool, because I had forgotten to print our tickets for the Christmas Party. The front desk told me I could either print them at the convention center or get them from the concierge. The concierge told me they weren’t on our magic bands, but I could get them at the International Gateway at Guest Relations. Guest Relations scanned my band and told me they were on there and she had no idea why nobody else knew that. I also asked for some Happy Birthday Mickey buttons here, but was told they were only at the front of the parks so I could get some when we went to MK for the party later. When we entered the park, we were told they were giving out the buttons on Main Street. On Main Street, we were directed to the Christmas Tree, and the cast member there told me he didn’t know who gave out those buttons, but he was pretty sure they were all gone. Back to tell the kids that the buttons they’ve been asking for and being promised all day are gone…

We had 4:30 reservations at Crystal Palace, which remains one of my favorite character buffets. The food was good, the characters were great, and the architecture of Crystal Palace, based as it is on the original in London, is awesome. The wait staff noted my 2yo’s birthday button and made it a point to bring her a cupcake, get a crowd to sing to her, and deliver a card signed by the entire set of Pooh characters. Yup, still one of my favorite buffets.

The only downside was what appeared to be a haz-mat explosion in the men’s bathroom. Apparently, someone didn’t do so well with dinner, because they closed the men’s room and the last I saw, a crew of cleaners dressed like something out of a sci-fi movie was headed in to deal with the problem. I swear, there were suits, gloves, special booties, and everything! Having a strong stomach, I was tempted to look inside to see if the mess justified the response.

The Christmas party itself was sold out, but we still had fun. We went on 7DMT again, another round of Buzz Lightyear, after which my son talked me into a new “super-duper-spinning-buzz lightyear-grabber-toy”…his words, not mine.

The castle was beautiful, and the stage show was great. We were able to park right on the inner-curve just in front of the castle to see Mickey & Friends, followed by Elsa’s magic turning it into her own ice castle. We’re big on Frozen at our house, so this was great for our daughter.

This was followed immediately by the first parade of the night. The kids sat mesmerized by all the floats and performers, and our son got two kisses blown directly at him by both Anna and Belle. I’ve never seen a 4yo blush before, but it was worth the price of admission.

We called it quits after the parade, taking the little ones back for some well-earned sleep, while my in-laws braved the park until Wishes.

Saturday:

Epcot day! Like Main Street, I could spend the entire day wandering through the world showcase. Unfortunately, that’s like asking the kids to sit through 48 hours of Nova on PBS, so it’ll be a few years before I can partake in that pleasure again. Thus, it was rope drop at International Gateway and straight over to Norway for the inevitable. We had two FastPasses for Frozen Ever After for later that day and a subsequent one, but with kids, you take an opportunity when you see it since plans tend to fall through for the darnedest reasons.

The stand-by wait was only about 25 minutes, so we jumped in and went for it. The ride itself is short (which is about what I expected since it is the old Maelstrom), but my daughter was as excited as can be. She spent the whole time shouting “Let it go!”, only stopping long enough to scream for the various characters and wave.

Out of FEA and straight over to Anna and Elsa meet & greet, since to was still only 20 minutes there as well. Again, our son insisted he didn’t want to meet any more princesses but immediately changed his tune as soon as he saw them and fell in love for what had the be the tenth time of the week. He even did his best to impress Elsa with his muscles…I have the photos to prove it.

It was at this point in the week that we started to see the crowds increase. Not only was it a Saturday, but it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The difference was noticeable. It wasn’t yet shoulder to shoulder, but shortly after rope drop, I started having to drive the stroller defensively, and saw the wait times on everything start going crazy.

Living with the Land, Nemo, Turtle Talk, and some more creative use of FastPass and Rider Swap on Test Track. It’s at this point that my son would like me to warn everyone that even though you pick out a green car on the screen, the actual cars stay blue, which is very disingenuous. Regardless, he loved the ride and we certainly had the fastest race car. He just wants everyone to know so they can plan accordingly.

We had lunch at Coral Reef which, while certainly cool, was way too much food for mid-afternoon. My in-laws booked it and really wanted to go with the kids, so we relented, but who wants a full plated entree at 12:30? Word of warning: If you get a soup, don’t order anything else. They may as well serve you the whole pot…its that big. My wife and I each had a soup and split an entree, and I still walked out feeling like a beached whale.

Back to the hotel for a nap, then over to the Poly for dinner at Ohana. Now, Ohana is one of our favorites. I could make a meal out of the noodles alone and my wife (who drinks approximately a 1/2 glass of wine twice a year) would happily subsist on Lapu Lapu’s alone. The food was great and the kids got to both hula dance and compete in coconut races. I know others have been disappointed by Ohana, but we never have.

Sunday:

My in-laws were flying back home that afternoon, so we booked a late breakfast back at Ohana so the kids could hang out with Lilo and Stitch. Breakfast was just as good as dinner. Eggs, sausage, Mickey Waffles, fresh fruit, and the kids took to the passion fruit juice like it was candy-coated chocolate milk. We’ve already tracked down the recipe for home.

Our server was amazing! He kept the platters full, never neglected to check in on us every few minutes, and entertained the kids endlessly. At one pint he asked our son if he wanted more Mickey waffles and said little boy told him his belly was full. When the waiter asked him to prove it, our son lifted his shirt over his head and pointed to where the food level was. Where is your camera when you need it?

The characters were a little more rushed, but considering the size of Ohana, that’s not surprising. They still spent time with each kid and signed autographs. Also, Stitch actually had a photographer with him!

After seeing my in-laws off, we hopped on a bus to Animal Kingdom. Sunday was cold, so in that respect, we couldn’t have picked a better day. However, when I say that AK was busy, I’m talking BUSY! I’ve been to Disney 15+ times, and I’ve never seen crowds like I saw in Animal Kingdom that day. You literally couldn’t move at points. It was just a mass of humanity and you had to go wherever it took you at times.

We had FastPasses for Kilimanjaro and the cold weather meant a lot of the animals were up and moving. I’m not sure if there was anything out there that we didn’t see.

We followed that up with Festival of the Lion King. If you haven’t seen it and have the opportunity, do so. Run, don’t walk. It was incredible! I wasn’t sure how the kids would like it when I booked the FastPasses, but I took someone else’s advice and did so anyway. Both kids thought it was great, but the little one was just mesmerized. She cheered, clapped, laughed, and even yelled angrily during Scar’s song. Another one added to the must-do list.

One very bad side note: While I was taking our son to use the potty, my wife was waiting outside. She reported after that a cast member collecting garbage out of the cans seemed to be having a rather bad day. When he saw how full the can was, he began to slam things around, frightening some of the little kids standing nearby. What’s worse, his language was pretty unacceptable, teaching out 2yo some delightful new words. Yay! I’ve already contacted Disney about it, but unfortunately, my wife didn’t call him out at the time or get his name, so that’s a dry well.

The park was so packed, we decided to bail early and head over to MK. The crowds were still bordering on oppressive, but I was able to use the MDE app to keep us moving on FastPasses. I really hate being that guy in a park with my head stuck in my phone, but compared to the old FastPass system and even pre-FastPass, this was a life saver. We had planned on being at AK for the majority of the day, so I didn’t plan any passes for MK. Being able to book successive passes made it possible to keep the kids entertained.

Speaking of which, this is where the lack of a true off-day started to shine through. We were on the sensory overload roller coaster. They refused to go back to the room or nap, but you could tell we were rolling up on the end. They were about done. The only thing to do was keep them busy and hope they’d nod off at some point.

The highlight of the day was meeting Merida. We had been trying to catch her earlier in the week but our schedules just never crossed. The kids love her, and if Dad has a character crush, this one is it. I think our biggest character smiles of the week happened with her. I expected it to be Elena or Elsa, but Merida beat them by a mile and that’s saying something. She was awesome with the kids! Hugs, kisses, playing, Q&A. It’s easy to see why her line was so long. It wasn’t just her popularity, but the time she took with each family.

After the kids took a nap, we jumped on the monorail and headed over to Chef Mickey’s for the character buffet….

DEAR GOD! It was awful in every sense of the word. I can’t remember the last time I paid so much money to be so disgusted. This was our first time there with the kids, and I couldn’t have been more disappointed. We were seated in the very back, under the monorail track, so not only were we inundated with screams, we had the track over our head t contend with. Our table had been hosed off, but the floor and area around it hadn’t been cleaned in longer than I care to think about. As previously mentioned, I’ve got a pretty strong stomach, but I was nauseated by the whole experience. The food was mediocre, lukewarm, and of a quality below that of the grossest, messiest quick serve I’ve ever seen. I know others have reported good experiences here, but I will never, ever go here again. I can’t even begin to explain how bad it was. Just terrible.

Back on the monorail to Epcot just in time to get through the park and over to Yacht Club before Illuminations started. Our daughter had crashed again in the stroller, so my wife brought her back to the room. Our son insisted on fireworks and seemed refreshed from his earlier nap, so he and I stayed for a Daddy/Son moment. My only issue was all the onions someone was hiding nearby. They made my eyes water while I was standing there holding him. I swear, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday:

Last park day. We started off in Epcot with another trip through Frozen Ever After. Can’t get enough of the sisters in our house, apparently.

After some time spent in Epcot and some breakfast, it was back on the monorail and over to Magic Kingdom. I always like to end our trips there. It’s where the magic all started and with little kids, you have to book end the vacation there. Again, FastPasses on MDE are great. If you plan it right and don’t need to ride the headliners, you can keep it rolling through most of the day.

It’s always sad to leave Disney, but I was happy to be going home. Eight days with kids that little is work. Of course we had fun, and we’re already booked back for next year, but I had been away on business for four days prior to the stay on property. Add that to the eight days there and I was ready to see my own bed and get everyone back to their routine.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

Strollers vs Electric Scooters - I don’t think I want to ever hear another comment about people with strollers in crowds. Almost everyone I saw with a stroller was doing their best to keep from running people over, and as a stroller pusher, I can attest to the fact that this is no small feat. People do the damnedest things in crowds. It took everything I had not to ram people unintentionally as they stepped in front of us and stopped, or just turned right in my path. By the end of the trip, it took all my will power not to run them over intentionally.

The scooters, however, were awful. By the end of the trip, my 4yo was referring to them as “crazy scooter people” all on his own. They crashed into people, sideswiped strollers, ran over feet, and were, as a rule, the rudest people in the parks. I was walking hand-in-hand with my 2yo and, had I not seen one coming and ripped her up into my arms, she would have been run down on one occasion. To make matters worse, the guy driving looked right at her and myself and just kept going. That’s as close as I’ve ever come to being ejected from the park. One nasty old woman was running people down from behind while beeping the horn because the crowd getting out of Lion King wasn’t moving fast enough for her. If you can’t be happy at Disney, where can you be happy?

I don’t think there’s anything Disney can do about it, and for those who need them, I would never want them to miss out because they weren’t available, but they bordered on dangerous on many occasions, and completely obnoxious on many others.

Disney Dining Plan - While it may work for some people, this is the first and last time I pay for the dining plan. If I got it for free next year, I may take it, but it just doesn’t make sense for us, and I omitted it from next year’s reservation.

First, it’s way too much food. We never eat that much on any given day. Having paid for it, I felt compelled to use it, and we just threw half the food away. It seemed wasteful.

Second, it doesn’t give you a lot of options with kids. If your kids like chicken fingers and Mac n’ Cheese every night, go for it, but I’d rather it had some flexibility for the little ones. Maybe smaller plate sizes with adult selection, or more varied choices between restaurants.

Speaking of options, I don’t mind paying for chocolate milk, because it’s a treat for our kids and they rarely get it at home. But when my wife and I are only drinking water, why do I have to pay for the milk you gave my 2yo and/or pay for the chocolate milk upgrade for my son? Can’t we use some common sense and realize that I only ordered two drinks instead of the three I’m entitled to?

In the end, we brought home a bunch of snacks we don’t need to make up for the unused snack and quick serve credits (each quick serve can be traded for three snacks, btw), while paying out of pocket for the sit-down breakfasts we did.

Like I said, it may work for you, but I think I can get more flexibility and better meals for less money by just paying out of pocket for meals next time.

Cost Cutting:

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I have to agree with those that have said you can feel the effects in the parks. The cast members, while still great, just aren’t as numerous or friendly. Everything seemed a bit rushed and more businesslike. Even compared to our last visit just a few years ago, I felt like I had a harder time suspending reality and riding the magical Disney flow. If I hadn’t been numerous times in the past, I probably would’t notice it, but it’s different.

With that said, I still booked us back at Beach Club for eight days next year, so it couldn’t have been all bad!
 

Hopefully

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 3, 1999
I have experienced as many mad stroller pushers as you claim to have experienced crazy scooter drivers. I take total offense. I had one "gentleman" nearly walk into me as I madly tried to avoid him while his wife yelled at him to watch where he was going. He stopped and looked me straight in the face and said "I will just knock her over".
Broad generalizations like yours are narrow minded, offensive and uncalled for. you will never know how I wish I could walk around World Showcase again.
 

cinderaimee

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 26, 2016
Thanks for the report! I was across the lake at the boardwalk from nov 14-19, crowds weren't too bad during the week, but the Saturday before thanksgiving was like a dam broke!
 

shoreward

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
I have experienced as many mad stroller pushers as you claim to have experienced crazy scooter drivers. I take total offense. I had one "gentleman" nearly walk into me as I madly tried to avoid him while his wife yelled at him to watch where he was going. He stopped and looked me straight in the face and said "I will just knock her over".
Broad generalizations like yours are narrow minded, offensive and uncalled for. you will never know how I wish I could walk around World Showcase again.
No, it's not fair to generalize. I think that everyone at WDW is so intent on making the most of their trip, that we sometimes are a bit oblivious to others, also intent on the same mission. When WDW is crowded, there is just not always enough room for everyone to move around, without "bumping" into others; sometimes, it's the pedestrians who are the offenders.

On my most recent visit, a boy, about 7 or 8 years old, decided to walk backwards, without looking, and stomped on my foot. I had to place my hands against his back, to stop his momentum. He never turned around.

It wasn't until two days later, when I returned home, that I discovered why that foot hurt so much, when I walked the parks. That boy caused an injury to my toe, turning part of it an amazing dark purple. The doc said it could take about six months to heal.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone realized that we are all sharing the same space, and that nobody has any more right than another to occupy it, or prevent others from doing so?
 


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