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Trip Reports & Member Reviews Discuss Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009 in the Vacation Planning forums; ...
  1. #16
    ginnyfavers's Avatar
    ginnyfavers is offline B-Ticket Holder
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    May 2009
    Orlando or Bust!

    Re: Sizzling Summer Family Vacation - July 19 - August 3, 2009

    Saturday, August 1
    Melt-Downs and Melt-in-Your-Mouth Desserts

    Can’t believe it’s our last full day here. In some ways, it’s been too short of a vacation, and in others it’s been too long. I wonder if Miles would have behaved better on a six day trip? I know I was tired three days ago, physically, and even Joe seemed to be flagging today.

    Miles had taken us up on a bribe to ride Splash again, yesterday, and now we owed him one last Pokemon purchase at Japan. We parked at the Beach Club so we could have a chance at walking in and out quickly, and I wanted to see if the wait time at Beaches & Cream might let us eat lunch there.

    It was a long way to go to just visit Mitsukoshi, but hey, that’s the pull that store has on us! After we finished shopping, Joe wanted udon noodles, and I went ahead and got myself some sushi. Miles wasn’t hungry yet, so I guess that nixed Beaches & Cream this trip. After eating we headed back through the Beach Club, and sat down in their lobby for a few minutes. Everyone was extremely hot, and we had no idea where we were going next.

    My big idea for today was for everybody to pick one thing they really wanted to do, and we’d take turns doing it, until our reservation time tonight for the Wishes Dessert Party in the Magic Kingdom. Getting his Pokemon toy had been Miles’ “thing” and Joe declared eating udon was his, so that left me. I wanted to be in the Magic Kingdom and do Splash again, but Joe thought that sounded terrible, to be in the MK again all day when we were just there last night. So, I asked him, what would you rather do? He had no helpful ideas. He didn’t want to go back into Epcot. I think he was in a major funk.

    We get miserable when it’s time to leave Orlando, every trip. From practically the second day of any vacation, it’s a countdown to doom, somewhere in the back of our minds. As the trip progresses, the feeling gets worse. We can get petulant. Joe was petulant, now.

    “Just go without me,” he said. That made me petulant. No. It’s our last day together here, and you’re going to have fun. We paid $$$ for this vacation and you’re going to be part of a happy family having fun or you’re in big trouble, mister. I think that sums up my position.

    All put out with one another (Miles was put out with us for arguing, as he knew he was not allowed to argue so it’s not really fair, is it?), we walked back to the car where I forced everyone to go to the Magic Kingdom and have a happy time.

    Which, actually, we did. Joe’s brain grouch passed after corn dog nuggets and Mickey’s Philharmagic, and I got to ride Splash Mountain. Miles got chicken fingers from Columbia Harbor House and we ate upstairs in my favorite MK spot to relax. Joe got a blue slushie from behind Dumbo. Everybody was having fun, now.

    After lunch, Miles desperately wanted to go see the Laugh Floor. When Joe said he wasn’t interested, Miles asked to go by himself. Begged to go by himself. He’d really rather go by himself.
    Why I agreed, I still don’t know. I remember how terribly exciting it was to be on my own when I was that age, and I guess the MK is as safe as anywhere to give it a whirl. We talked to him for three to five minutes about a time to meet (90 minutes from now), where to meet (It’s a Small World’s exit turnstiles), the location of every clock in the park, what to do if someone comes up to you and tells you your parents told them to tell you they changed their minds and you should come out to the parking lot where they’re waiting for you, what to do if someone asks you to help them find their lost puppy, what to do if the ride breaks, how to and when to approach cast members for help, what to do if he arrived at the meeting point and we’re not there yet… I may have given him an emergency blanket, a whistle and a personal GPS locater beacon, I can’t remember…

    He did great. He was already waiting for us, standing chatting with cm’s at It’s a Small World when we got there. He looked really relaxed, confident, and happy. I have to admit, I was proud of him. He’d walked over to Tomorrowland and done Laugh Floor, which he enjoyed a lot, as he had been seated right next to “That Guy” and could see himself on the big screen for much of the show. Then he’d checked the time and thought about seeing Carousel of Progress again but knew it was a long show, so in order not to be late he rode Buzz Lightyear instead, which only had a 20 minute wait. Now he was here.

    My son, the trip planner! That was the kind of evaluative, mature thinking I was looking for from him. Now if we could just get him to not lose everything we give him to hold onto. This summer he lost two pairs of sunglasses, two pairs of swim goggles, and his Camelbak. The only thing he didn’t lose was his shopping bag with his pin book in it.

    The rest of the day was spent enjoying favorite attractions again, and before we knew it, the sun was setting and it was almost parade time, and time to head over to our Dessert Party.

    My thought was to watch Spectromagic from the dessert party deck (located at the ever-shuttered Tomorrowland Noodle Station), but we cut it so close we almost got stuck on the Casey’s side of Main Street. We ran across the street literally half a second before the cm’s had to stop people from crossing. It would have really stunk if we’d been stuck there for the entire parade. We would have missed half of our dessert party.

    The dessert party was wonderful. I wish they’d had soft drinks for Joe, but other than that, everything was delicious and perfect. The cm’s working the party were great, really happy and relaxed and taking their time with everyone. I saw all sorts of extra googaws on some of the tables, that I suppose people had paid extra for, like those light up toys that spin. I’m not sure where or how that stuff was for sale, as we’d never been offered it. Which I was glad for, as we spent enough as it was, on the party.

    I do wish the lighting in the space was dimmable, and a nicer color tone. If they’re going to do the party forever more, they should put in some custom lighting for that area at night. They also need some fans for the warmer months, and they’ll need some portable heaters on really cold nights.
    I thought the price for what we got was just right. The pastries were excellent, the service was good, and the ability to watch Wishes from an open spot in front of the water with nobody crowding us or passing in front of us was fabulous.

    After the fireworks, you could have one last shot at food and beverages, which we declined, and then the party was over.

    Unfortunately, Joe was due for one more snit fit today, over his inability to get back to our car, due to the enormous crush of people leaving the park at once. After looking at the lines for all available transportation from the front of the park, he suddenly hauled off in the direction of the Contemporary. I had to yell at him to stop, and got him to explain to me where the heck he was going. Turns out he wanted to walk to the Contemporary and try the resort monorail from there. I knew with absolute certainty that that was NOT going to work. Have you ever seen the faces of people waiting to get on the monorail at the Contemporary, at a time like this? Expressions of utter hopelessness. Nobody gets off at the Contemporary. Unless cm’s make people riding the Resort Monorail show room keys, and check for a monorail resort, that monorail is full of people going back to cars at the TTC or other parks where they hopped from.

    I guarantee you there was an hour wait to get on the monorail from the Contemporary, just like there was here at the MK. Thankfully he listened to me. Then I had my own dumb idea, and thought maybe the ferry would be ok since it holds so many people. After one cycle in line we estimated it could be close to a 90 minute wait, and frankly the close packing of humans in this fenced-in chute felt frightening. I think this set up is a very real crushing hazard. All that would have had to happen was for something that sounded like a gunshot to go off, or someone vomit or panic for some reason, and there would have been injuries. We had to fight our way out of line and climb over a short fence, to get out of there.

    Finally we settled on taking the boat to the Polynesian and walking from there. That only took 40 minutes, as they were running the bigger sized enclosed boats.

    There’s no point in leaving the MK when closing time coincides with Wishes, until a full hour after the show ends. The transportation can not handle the crowds, ever. Why Disney insists on closing the park with Wishes, when it obviously creates this problem for their guests, is beyond me. If I was queen of the World, my first decree would be every park stays open for 30 minutes after the end of the fireworks. That would make it way better for guests, at all three parks that have night shows. (My second would be to eliminate the Dining Plan and bring back whoever was in charge of food in the late 90's.)

    Turns out Joe’s pants were on fire to get back home quickly because he was concerned about the unused meat in the fridge, that he felt needed to be grilled and eaten tonight before bedtime, so it wouldn’t have to be thrown away tomorrow. I wish he’d said something about his expectations earlier, because if I’d known getting ahead of the crowd was an issue, I absolutely could have pulled us all out of the party the second after the last fireworks burst, and if we’d power-walked to Main St. we just might have made it.

    We still made it back to the house before midnight, and Joe got to grill while Miles and I swam one last time. It was a late night, as I wanted to pack before bed instead of doing it in the morning. I don’t think we got to sleep until 2 a.m.
    Amanda, Joe & Miles
    Planning my next trip way way way too far in advance...

    "I met the love of my life on the Seven Seas Lagoon"

  2. #17
    ginnyfavers's Avatar
    ginnyfavers is offline B-Ticket Holder
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Orlando or Bust!

    Final post!

    Sunday, August 2 & Monday, August 3

    We were our usual 30 minutes after check-out time getting out of the house. I called the Owners Locker guy and told him we’d left our locker sitting by the front door. I was sure nobody would bother it there, and he was only ten minutes away at the time, anyways.

    The car was packed to the gills, as we’d bought a lot of stuff! I forgot to mention I’d purchased a wide open mouthed vase from Animal Kingdom Lodge’s gift shop, from the Zimbabwe Penzo "Mashona" line I collect. Penzo - Shop - Online shop - Mashona I now have a handful of pieces. I’m determined someday to have a full service of it. My idea of fine china! That had been so carefully wrapped and boxed for me that it was the size of a large roller bag by itself.

    We had a couple of hours to kill before Miles’ flight departed for New Orleans, where he was headed to spend time with his father. Miles wanted to go eat at T-Rex a second time, which was fine by me, and Joe wanted to go up in the new “Characters in Flight” balloon at Downtown Disney, so we headed on over.

    I had a chicken pot pie at T-Rex that was not as good as the one I’d had a few days earlier at 50’s Prime Time Café, but I still enjoyed it. We asked for the dinosaur room this time – actually, Miles asked for it, very politely. We were there right at opening, so it wasn’t a problem.

    There was rain threatening all around us, but after an hour’s wait in the searing heat (they really need to get some shade and fans going for people waiting here!), we got onto Characters in Flight. I had been watching with extreme trepidation – the balloon was going back and forth, back and forth. I was sure it was going to be living **** for me, I was fairly close to terrified. I was definitely miserable, but Joe had already bought the ticket and I don’t want to be one of those women who’s too chicken to do anything and starts refusing to drive over bridges, fly, etc. So I made myself get on the thing.

    It was absolutely WONDERFUL. Not jarring at all, but incredibly smooth and peaceful. I wish our time at the top had lasted longer. I got tons of shots on my camera from up there. I will likely always feel a bit scared beforehand, just like I do still on Rock ‘n Roll Coaster or Tower of Terror, but I’m going to make this a must-do every trip. We’d like to go up after dark, next time. I’m so glad I forced myself to experience this.

    Now it was airport time. After Miles’ flight departed, I just had to do the Disney gift shop one last time, and found some Star Wars plastic figures Miles had wanted but didn’t have money for. I bought those for him for a birthday surprise, and then got myself a cheap pair of costume jewelry earrings. Almost all of my earrings are from vacations. When I open my jewelry case, it’s like a scrapbook!

    Joe and I headed out to I-95 via the Bee Line. I fantasized for a moment that we were headed for the Disney Cruise Line terminal for another vacation. Sigh.

    We spent the night in Kingsland, GA in a cheap hotel that was run by a very nice man. Ate a late dinner at the IHOP across the street.

    Got back on the road Monday morning. Driving was fairly painless until we got to Richmond, VA. We stopped at South of the Border in Dillon, SC and it was absolutely hands-down the filthiest, nastiest place I have ever been to in the United States. It was unreal. I have no clue how it’s still open. Their restaurant is cash only, if you can believe that, and looked mightily filthy. Nobody from Mexico in sight, by the way, in the kitchen. I took a wide pass. We bought a couple of souvenirs and took a photo of the giant Mexican dude that you can see from the road, and then I had the displeasure of using their moldering restrooms. Someone had scrawled on the wall “This place is dirty,” and below it an answer, “Yes, it is.”

    A bit farther we stopped for lunch and I bought a Time magazine, which I read out loud from cover to cover for Joe. That really passed the time. That, and we had our mariachi cd we’d purchased at Mexico in Epcot.

    Driving was actually fun, until we got north of Richmond, VA. Then it became sheer absolute ****. Lane closures, bumper to bumper aggressive traffic, the sun went down, more lane closures. We got lost trying to go through Washington, D.C. around endless lane closures and stopped traffic and inscrutable “information” signs about what was open and where to go, and ended up in the middle of town trying to find the interstate again. It was downright frightening.

    Got home without bullet holes in the car, around 10:30 p.m.

    Next time, I want to take an extra two hours and go around D.C. via I-81 and I-64. That will be two hours well-spent. Richmond to Baltimore is undriveable, because any time it’s not rush hour they have a third of the roadway closed for construction. Never again.

    Well, that’s it, folks! Now we have to save up for the next big trip. We’d like to go back to taking two trips a year, one with just Joe and me and one as a family. We are also starting to seriously consider buying into DVC. I’ve got a December trip on the calendar for 2011, and then a two week family vacation in May/June 2012. I’m hoping we’ll be able to buy about 250 points at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, to use for some of those days. It’s something we’ve been discussing for years, and now that we’ve both agreed firmly on VWL as a home resort, and prices are down a bit due to the recession, and Disney is offering Annual Pass and other good discounts, it seems like the right time to buy.

    I’m going to go admire all the junk we bought, now, scattered around the house.
    Amanda, Joe & Miles
    Planning my next trip way way way too far in advance...

    "I met the love of my life on the Seven Seas Lagoon"

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