June 24-June 29 - Amazing Time
Just back yesterday and thought I'd post some bulletpoints about our trip. My wife and I went to Orlando to attend a Hotel Technology Conference and stayed in the Animal Kingdom Lodge instead of one of the conference hotels. Great choice on our part, even if it was twice the price!
How it worked out:
Sunday - arrived at noon and hit AK. Checked in around 4 and then shot over to Epcot
Monday - Early Magic Hours at MGM, Conference from 11 - 4, then MK (including California Grill)
Tuesday - Conference all day
Wednesday - Conference all day, but then Pleasure Island sponsored by a PMS Vendor
Thursday - MK Early Magic Hours, then break, then Epcot, back to MK, then Epoct Extra Magic Hours
1 - We had a great dinner at Alfredos. We hadn't eaten there before, but wanted to try it before it closed. Our waitperson - Desiree - was incredible and entertained us with stories from Sicily. She recommended a great bottle of wine that she recalled sharing with her father during summertime. True or not, it was an excellent paring with the Salmon Special. Also shared appetizers of Fettucini Alfredo and a Caesar Salad. Great experience overall. Italian songs and accordian music made it a great atmosphere.
2 - Wait for Soarin' on Sunday evening: 115 minutes; wait for Mission: Space: 40 minutes, wait for Test Track: 40 minutes.
3 - Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great place to relax and lounge. The "African Ambassadors" are a true treasure. They are posted at the public savannas, at restaurant stations, and in the lobby at high traffic areas. We learned a lot about what it is like to come here (most were on a 12 month ambassador program - everyone we spoke to enjoyed their jobs and the visit to America but were excited about going back home). If you stay here, try to plan at least an afternoon hanging around the hotel and its public spaces. You will be rewarded.
4 - Carousel of Progress was running strong - it looked like they put new seats in, which was encouraging.
5 - I walked right in and got a haircut on Main Street on Thursday at around 11. It was terrific, and a bargain at $17. My barber was great, and she relayed cool stories about the jobs she has/had in her 11 years at WDW. Her favorites are Main Street Barber and Attractions. Every night they go in and "make up" the Animatronic Characters; every eyebrow and hair strand needs to be in place. The biggest jobs are when a technician works on an animatronic; they go in and put the hair back together (the tech just pulls off the wig and puts it aside).
6 - California Grill is still at the top of my list for Dining at WDW. If you get a chance in the coming weeks, order the Swordfish. Best meal I have had in years.
7 - WDW Transportation worked out great. I like the atmosphere music and other announcements on the bus. In my years of using DIsney buses, I have never encountered a talkative driver as is noted elsewhere, so I saw it as a plus and not a minus.
8 - If you do MK Early Magic Hours, don't go right to Monsters Inc Laugh Floor! The first show won't be until about 20 minutes after early entry. You'll have time to do Space Mountain and maybe even Buzz before joining the Laugh Floor queue.
9 - We had a treat on the TTA Thursday night (for my money, one of the best night rides at MK - along with Thunder Mountain) - Space Mountain was completely down and all the lights inside were on. We had a very close look at the erector set making up the roller coaster. You can generally see better in there at night anyway . . . you could really see well with the attraction service lights on. People were still in line and some were loaded in cars at the station, so it must have been a temp thing.
10 - My vote for best counter service junk food: Chili Cheese Fries at Pecos Bills.
11 - Crowds were large, but it was fine for us since we sauntered around and went at strategic times. I haven't seen a wait for Small World since the 70s, but there was a 40 minute wait on Monday afternoon!
Thats all I can think of for now. Thanks to everyone in this community for making my trips so much better thanks to your tips and shared ideas. Between the forums and podcasts, it is easy to stay stoked about the next trip (in our case, January at a Ft Wilderness Cabin with our kids!).
Have you seen my dad? Would you page him for me?
Next Family trip = April 16 - April 23, 2011, staying in an All Star Vacation Home!