So I decided to sit down and right my first trip report, because I felt there was a lot of neat things that happened on this trip that I wanted to make note of. I thought I would share that with everyone here.
Well, I am back from other glorious trip to Disney World! I wanted to put together a post talking about some of the things I learned, and experienced this time around. Melissa and I traveled 09.11.09 – 09.19.09 with my cousin Bill, his girlfriend Jenn, and their friends Doug and his girlfriend Anna. We stayed at Pop Century in the 60’s room, not far from the pool, best spot I’ve stayed in Pop Century thus far.
Some things that I would like to note have changed since we were there last year was that the check in process for Magical Express has finally been streamlined. You now can go right past the counter and head straight for the bus! Better than waiting in a line just to wait in another line. We didn’t have to wait long for our bus to be on it’s way to the world either which was a plus!
When we got to the hotel we found that our online check in was by far the quickest and easiest way to get checked in at a resort. We barely had to wait at all before we were handed our already pre-setup information and we were on our way. Unfortunately our rooms were not ready till much later that day, as it was only around 11ish at the time of check-in.
We hung out at the hotel and got something to eat there, before heading over to the Disney Studios to hit some of the bigger attractions. Then headed back to the room where we got some rest before heading to Epcot for dinner, which is where the trouble started.
Apparently, our tickets weren’t booked correctly, as they didn’t have the park hopper on them as I requested. So we were stuck just outside of Epcot with no way to get in but to stand in a line for guest relations, which took forever. Of course we were late to our dinner, we ate at Teppan Edo which is in Japan, all the way on the opposite side of the park. They took our reservation even though we were around 40 minutes late for it.
For Teppan Edo, we had the same chef that we had last year when we ate there. Of course the food was fantastic, just like last year. It was actually the favorite restaurant of group over the course of the whole trip.
The next day Melissa and I headed to Magic Kingdom to knock out some rides. Unfortunately, space mountain was closed during the whole trip (till nov 09) so it was one less great ride that was available to enjoy. Something that Melissa and I noticed while on It’s a Small World is that there is a ton of change on the floor of that ride. We wondered if they have ever cleared any of that change out. Or is that all of the change ever thrown into the water since it first opened? Just a thought, but are you allowed to bring nets with you on the ride? 😉
One of the things we got to watch that I hadn’t before was the Dreams show that takes place in front of the castle. It was somewhat enjoyable, I think if I was younger I would’ve enjoyed it more of course. Dinner was at the Crystal Palace, which was way behind on their reservations unfortunately. Though the food was very good, it outperformed by expectations since the last time I was there, several years ago, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. The characters are always fun, and definitely was finally a good reminder that “hey, we are in Disney World!”
Melissa, Doug, Anna, and I got up early to head over to Animal Kingdom to do some of the rides. We decided to hit the Kahli River Rapids first which I had never done because I never really wanted to get that wet while in Animal Kingdom. Of course just before we step onto the boat, the sky opens up to get us completely soaked just as we were about to get on a very wet ride.
It continued to rain through a good chunk of the day, we soldiered through it. Got to see Nemo and road most of the rest of the rides. Finally, the soaked clothes sent us back to our room to get freshened up for dinner which was at Chef Mickey’s that night. Again, another great dinner. Interesting thing they do for birthdays there is you get a cupcake with a few candles so you can take a picture with each of the 5 characters there with it lit. It was fun at first but after a while became a bit of a hassle to having to keep relighting a candle or put in a new candle altogether.
After, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom to hang out for the rest of the night. Got to try my first dole whip, and it’s definitely on my must have list for next time! Apparently, there are only a handful of places you can get them. Wish I could get them closer to home.
Next day, we squeezed in the Safari and Dinosaur before heading over to Blizzard beach for some water park fun. Interesting to note that the tour guide for the Safari sounded a lot like Mike Newell from the WDW Today podcast. Sadly, upon further investigation it was not him. The rain held up for the rest of the day for us to hit up Blizzard Beach.
Interesting to note, when we got to the bus stops, we were considering heading straight to Epcot to make dinner in time. But we figured we had more than enough time to head back to our hotel first to get a little freshened up before dinner at Nine Dragons. Well, we were definitely wrong, we seen a Epcot bus just as we sat down for the Pop Century bus. I mentioned that we should just get on that bus, but we didn’t. We ended up waiting, and waiting till eventually another Epcot bus showed up before our Pop Century bus showed up. Not quite sure what the hold up was on that, that was the first time I found the bus system to fail us.
That night, after dinner the group of us headed over to Fantasia Gardens for a round of mini golf. It was guys versus girls, of course the guys won! I personally bested everyone. That truly is a great mini golf course to play on, and I recommend checking it out. Interesting to mention that we didn’t have our buy one get one free vouchers, but were told to bring the receipt and the voucher to our concierge to be reimbursed. We were a bit nervous, but we later found it to be true, and were all reimbursed for games.
After the game, we headed over to Jelly Rolls, which I’ve heard rave reviews about. It was definitely a fun bar, though the 10$ cover for each person was kind of a downer. After though we found ourselves sitting out in front of the Swan hotel waiting for a bus to head to downtown disney. If I recall correctly it was only 11, but downtown disney closed at 11 or midnight. But the buses should be running 1 hour after the fact, well after waiting a while, we used the phone at the bus stop to find out if the bus was coming at all. The person on the phone said she didn’t know. Well, that was a lot of help. So we got the valet guy to call us a cab.
With the early closing of downtown disney, it really limits a guest in transportation options on certain nights. Especially, as a free trip back from the boardwalk. It is a pretty big disappointment, I got to say and needs to be fixed.
September 15th, a Tuesday, my birthday was finally here, so we headed to my favorite park, MGM er, the Disney Hollywood Studios. We did some rides, but spent most of the day in the different shows. Beauty and the Beast, Lights Motors Action, Indiana Jones, and American Idol were all of the shows that we went to that day. Which is odd, since I usually don’t like to sit around for the shows, but this trip I wanted to do things I haven’t done in a long time or even ever.
I want to divulge a bit into my feelings on the American Idol Experience that I set out to hate from the start. We got in for the 6 o’clock show, and I got to admit that I really enjoyed it. I mean it’s a lot of fluff, but it’s very entertaining and some of the talent that they were able to get was really good. I felt the MC in the beginning was a bit over the top for my taste, but they want people to be excited, even if they don’t know why. The judges were all pretty good, though the guy judge that we had was definitely the closest thing to telling the truth compared to the other two girls. The stage was definitely done up in the traditional style of imagineering genius, not to mention the hidden mickey on stage! The auditorium got a great update, and Disney totally got the better end of this deal. I am excited already just thinking about what they are going to put there next when this is done! One thing that I didn’t like was the fact that they had questions for some of the contestants, videos of guests screaming their name for some, and cookie cutter videos for others. Though I thought it was odd that some contestants got nothing of the sort. I enjoyed the show so much, that I decided to ignore the fact that we had 8:55pm reservations at California grill and stay for the finale.
Chris, who won our 6pm show was really great, singing Alone that I had to see if he was a plant. I had to see if he could win the finale. So, this one guy Clint who is 65 years old, came out and blew the crowd away with his vocals. I, nor anyone else was expecting this guy to be such a surprise that night, it was a total treat to hear this guy belt the notes that way he did. I thought it was going to be in the bag for Clint to win the finale, for sure. Then Chris comes out and sings Alone again and blows the whole crowd away. So then it came down to the voting, which it turned out Clint won! The confetti rained down on him and Chris, they shook hands and just as Chris got back to his seat. The host said that “they” just informed him that the winner was not Clint, but Chris. Some people started booing, as Chris came back to center stage and they proceeded to shoot the confetti out again. Many people, including ourselves, got up and stormed out of the theater. Even the cast members just outside the door were confused as to what could have happened to create such a mistake. I meant to file a complaint, but never got around to it, unfortunately, so here it is! Clint deserved to win, Chris isn’t even from America, wtf?!
Alright, enough ranting because we had little time to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. After getting ready and gathering up our group, we waited out for a bus to the Magic Kingdom, which seemed to take forever to get there. So we actually got on a bus heading to Epcot, when just before it was about to leave, we seen a Magic Kingdom bus pull up so we got off. On the way over to the Magic Kingdom, I asked the driver if he could drop us off at Contemporary because that is where we are headed. He said if the group on the back of the bus was heading there too that he would. Well as it turned out, they were going to the Wave, so he dropped us all off at the Contemporary!
The view from the platform on top of the Contemporary has an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom. We planned our dinner to be right around when Hallo-Wishes was taking place. Got some great video of that, before heading in to enjoy a great dinner. It was definitely expensive, but that’s why it needs two sit down meal credits. I got sushi and a cut of beef, both were top notch. I definitely plan on eating there next time.
So when we got back from the California Grill, I headed over to the check in/out area to ask about the possibility of them printing out tickets for Universal for us. Here I learned that some cast members are much more helpful than others. The young lady that I was talking with, informed me about the odd way you need to check in for Hoop-de-doo-revue. I didn’t realize that you need to have the credits charged before you get there for your whole party so that you have a ticket to get checked in when you get there. They really need to update how they go about that, like having some card sliders at the show itself to make it a less painful experience for those of us who have more than one room key that needs to be charged. Oh, the Universal tickets, so the lady next to lady helping me, informed me of the obvious “why would we want to help our competition”. Fortunately, for her I was pretty tired at that point so arguing with her as to why having Universal and Disney 10 miles apart is good for both of them just wasn’t going to happen. Such a short sighted, brainwashed statement. Fortunately for us the lady helping us kept telling us to come back to concierge the next morning. She even gave us a map and marked where Universal is on it.
So the next morning we went to concierge for a few different things. The first being to bill our share of the credits for the Hoop-De-Doo-Revue. Then we asked about the printing of universal tickets for us, and she said she would do it if we had a confirmation number. Which, come to find out they have a will call there, so we didn’t need her to do that for us, but nice to know regardless. We were able to get our mini golf game refunded while we were there too.
After the visit with the very nice concierge girl, we made our way to go meet everyone out in the parking lot as we were heading to Universal. I got to drive the mini van as apparently people from south philly don’t like to drive or something.
A few interesting things happened at Universal that I wanted to note. We ended up getting the Express pass, which even though it’s 25$ for both parks, it really helps you get through Studios even on such a dead day, like the one we were there for. Next, I road Hulk and Dualing Dragons. If you know me, you know I don’t like roller coasters, well didn’t. We were able to get through nearly every attraction by 4pm, which is great when the park closes at 6pm. So, Melissa and I road the Hulk an extra 3-4 times, and Dueling Dragons again. I plan on getting it every time for here on out because it only takes one or two rides with 30-40 minute waits to slow you down.
Finally, I wanted to point out that on the Mummy Ride in the Studios, the ride operators used to not say anything, they wouldn’t even smile. It went along with the whole theme of the ride, gloom and doom. Anyway, they used to give a thumbs up right before the ride was about to disembark, then they would turn their thumb downwards, then wipe their thumb across their neck. Signifying that we were all doomed. Well, that is the way it used to be! Now they wave and smile and say “good luck” as you disembark from the platform. Very disappointing and doesn’t fit in the ride at all. So, later in the day I decided to ask the girl at the end of the ride what happened to all that. Her answer was that someone complained that it was offensive to them, so it stopped. Very disappointing, because if you go on the Shrek 4-D attraction, they keep telling you that you are all doomed, that your children will be flogged if they are noisy, that you will be flogged for eating, drinking, flash photography, etc. I guess it’s cheaper to just stop doing something, rather than rehiring people to redo film for the attraction. But I wonder if anyone has complained about that, and why does Universal care in the first place. They have plenty of rated R movies, and as they say in the Monster Make-Up Show “this isn’t Disney World, they don’t have to be nice to kids”. So what gives?
Anyway, for dinner we headed to Medieval Times, most of us enjoyed this a lot. The story was pretty good this year, and of course our section didn’t win, but was still a good time non-the-less.
Melissa and I decided on the 17th to head over to Downtown Disney, we got lunch over at Wolfgang Puck Express over in the Marketplace. It was a great meal considering it was a counter meal. Then headed over to Disney Quest which we spent quite a bit of time at playing a bunch of the arcade games. They haven’t invested any money in big attractions there, but the updated arcade machines makes up for it, especially on a dead day there. The other thing to note is that it still sucks that the Cheese Cake Factory Express isn’t there anymore on the 4th floor, but at least there is something there now. The other thing that I finally got to experience for the first time was the Cyber Space Mountain. I never got around to doing it before, because of the line always being super long. It seemed kind of short, but the ride was fun and I definitely plan on doing it again. It’s a shame they can’t exert any force on you like on the Mission Space ride.
Almost forgot to mention that there was a bomb scare while we were at Disney Quest! It didn’t affect us, but Animal Kingdom stayed open till 7 that night since people couldn’t leave between the hours of 3-7. Thanks to Mike Newell for posting that on facebook, where I happened to catch it! http://www.wesh.com/news/20971695/detail.html
We headed over to the buses to get a bus to Fort Wilderness for Hoop-De-Doo-Revue. We got dropped off in the parking lot and had to wait for another bus which kind of sucked, but it wasn’t too bad. The show is definitely a classic, I can see why this older lady at concierge who was nice enough earlier that day to bill the other two rooms’ meal credits without their cards for us had seen it over 20 times since the 70’s. Melissa was even brought up on stage to be a can can girl towards the end of it! I got video and pics in the photo gallery, of course! The food wasn’t bad, but it was fried chicken and ribs. The thing I found really neat was after the show there was a Pop Century bus waiting just outside the door, instead of making us head to downtown disney to transfer back to our hotel. That was some nice thinking on their part!
The next day Melissa and I headed back to the Magic Kingdom, and got to eat lunch at the great Pecos Bill! I definitely plan on eating there again, the fixin’s bar made it all worth it! I can’t believe I missed out on such a treasure for so long! After a few rides at Magic Kingdom, we headed to Epcot for a early dinner at Coral Reef.
Melissa and I decided to hit up the Spaceship Earth ride one last time, before we knew we wouldn’t have time to come back. While on the ride, our time machine had stopped which happens from time to time as many of you know. We were sitting for around 10 minutes, while people with flash lights were running up and own the side of the track, looking for something or someone. After we finally got off the ride, we ran into a cast member who was nice enough to share with us the fact that there was someone who decided to get out of their time machine. I asked, how come they couldn’t just see that person the cameras that are in there. She shared that the whole ride is not covered with cameras and there are certain parts that don’t have cameras. She said that there is a pad that runs 10′ in either direction of the track, whenever pressure is on the pad, the ride comes to a stop. That is why they don’t know that someone got out of their car, but think that someone decided to do that, and then realized they stopped the ride so they jumped back in. I think it’s crazy that they don’t have cameras covering the entire ride. But the idea of having that pressure pad is pretty neat.
I didn’t really care for Coral Reef as the food all seemed very salty. Though the atmosphere is nice, I think it’s the food keeping it back from being a two table service credit meal. I don’t think I will be heading back there anytime soon.
After dinner, Melissa and I headed to the Studios to catch Fantasmic at 9:30pm. So when we got there we caught the Finale for that night. There was only 2 good acts for that, but the right person won that time. Then got to do a few more rides before heading in for Fantasmic, which was great as always! It’s a shame they don’t have shows every night, maybe once the money starts flowing again, they can do it every day again.
The last day, we headed to downtown disney to kill a few hours before heading to the airport. I thought I would find something to spend my 79$ birthday gift card on, but I didn’t. So I will be saving it for next year, as I recall it not expiring. Magical Express was flawless heading back, as always. Though I will note that there seemed like a lot of people trying to get on our specific bus, though the bus driver said there was a second bus coming. It did show up shortly after we got onto the first one. Just curious if maybe they are cutting down the number of buses or something.
All and all a great trip, can’t wait to head back in August 10!
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