Re: Your trip report
Stayed at Wilderness Lodge Villas (1 bedroom) from Saturday, September 19 to Saturday, September 26. We had a 6 day park hopper. What I learned was we like arriving on Saturday, rather than Sunday as usual. Seems like having everything unpacked and ready to go Sunday beat spending all day Sunday travelling and then starting on Monday. We had a late flight and did not arrive at the resort until after 8:30pm. I felt like we wasted money staying that night ($330) for just a place to sleep, but since we rented DVC points it averaged $269/night compared to the usual $440/night so we saved a bundle, but still spent more than I would have liked. I am rethinking our Disney visits since I can find very nice off-property accomodations and get 2 vacations for the price of one on-property.
I guess the catch for me is preparing our own meals in the room is very convenient. After staying at an all-suite resort (with full kitchens) in Tampa 4 years ago, I am hooked. Now having a toddler (2 1/2 year-old) gives a new set of advantages to having a full kitchen in the room. The best deals at Disney are always on rooms without a kitchen. Yes, you can find rooms on-property for $80/night at value resorts. Although there is the increased time on buses, which negates some of the biggest advantage of staying on property like quick trips to the parks, not having to drive or pay parking. I just found a $69/night 1-bedroom condo off-property during regular season. Yes, I got back 3 weeks ago and am planning the next one. In fact, I started planning the next trip and actually next 3 years of vacations a couple weeks before we left.
The weather at the end of September was hot and extremely humid all week (and I like hot weather). We just were not ready for the humidity with "feels like" heat index temperatures of 95-100 every day. We had a couple great meals at both our resort table service restaurant Whispering Canyon Cafe and the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom. The Crystal Palace is becoming a must-do on every trip since the food is always good and Pooh is my favorite character. Although it may be closed for refurbishment on my next trip. We also ate at Chef Mickey's for my daughter's benefit since she loves Minnie Mouse it was recommended as the best character breakfast to see her.
We saw more characters on this trip than any other previous trip. Our relatives went in June and reported many of the character locations since they do change occasionally. Another good tip is to wait for a character when they say they will be back in 5 minutes because it really means 5 minutes or less and they do come right back. One other good tip that I mentioned in other posts is restaurant walk-ins are now easier to get because so many people are making multiple reservations online and not using those reservations or cancelling.
I can't say enough good things about Wilderness Lodge amenities and activities. We did extensive research online about the resort. When we checked in and got a list of all the activities there for the week, we were amazed at the number of things not listed anywhere else.
We had a 7:10am reservation for breakfast at Chef Mickeys in the Contemporary and had read there are unlisted/unannounced times the transportation is available such as 6:45am. Sure enough, by 6:50am there was a ferry boat at the Wilderness Lodge dock waiting to take us (and about 25 others) over to the Contemporary. Supposedly, they don't announce these boats because they don't want people waiting at the parks 2 or 3 hours before they open. I also noticed they don't honk the horn right before arriving at the dock as they do most of the day, it may be just to keep from waking up people. Nowhere online are the boat, bus & monorail running times listed, other than as starting one hour before the parks open, which would be 8am most days.
I did the Segway Backwoods Adventure tour at Fort Wilderness and would highly recommend this tour. I got creative and shipped my inline skates down ahead of time so that's how I got from Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness. Wonderful smooth trail from Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness and then lots of smooth trails around Fort Wilderness for skating. Another interesting tidbit is you get a pin upon completion of this Segway tour. The start of the tour moved a couple years ago and it now leaves from the Bike Barn. You start with a training video inside, then move to Segway training behind the building before going on trails around Bay Lake, the Segways are kept inside the Bike Barn when not in use.
The day I did the Segway tour, I did not go to any of the parks so I had a day left on my park ticket. The last day, Saturday, we had to be outside at 10:30am for the ME bus leaving for the airport. I finished packing the night before and left the family to ready themselves in the morning. Coincidentally, extra magic hour was that morning at Hollywood Studios. I headed to DHS since one of my to-do's was to ride the Toy Story Midway Mania and the wait was too long when we were there earlier in the week. I got there at 8:09am, headed straight for the ride, skipped the fast pass since I only had about 1 hour to ride it and get back on the bus. For some reason at 8:17am, the fast pass was already telling people to come back after 10:40am. The wait in line was only 40 minutes at this point and I had to be out by 9:45am at the latest. I was back at the WLV resort by 9:15am.
The TSMM que was wonderful and I got many beautiful self-portraits. The interactive Mr. Potato Head was awesome, another thing I liked was the stairs leading up over the loading area so you could actually experience some of the ride while waiting in line. I have heard a few compaints because some people don't like standing on stairs while waiting in line. Wheelchair access actually uses an elevator to get people down to the ride and the ride seems to load below ground level so it may run under some of the waiting area. Another neat thing is while you are waiting in line a PIXAR lamp comes out a door on the 2nd level across the street from TSMM and puts on a short show.
PhotoPass was used heavily on our trip and we ended up with 52 photos taken by the PhotoPass photographers, in addition to the 508 on our camera and 21 short videos. The greatest thing about PhotoPass is being able to have everybody in the picture while holding the kid. A bonus was Wilderness Lodge had a PhotoPass photographer stationed in the lobby so when we had time before dinner we stopped for family photos. I am guessing this was part of the deluxe resort experience. We may use these in place of professional photos on our Christmas cards. Another thing I recommend is to get the largest SD memory card you can afford. For this trip, since it's my daughter's first, I bought a 32Gb card (about $60) and used my digital camera to do all the video so I did not have to carry a separate video camera as I usually do. Believe it or not, using my 10 megapixel camera, the card holds over 7,000 pictures or 5 hours of video.
Airline tips... this was my first time taking a restless toddler (2 1/2 year-old) on a 2 hour 15 min flight and regardless of how bad it went or how angry (belligerent) other passengers on the plane became, it beat 20 hours over 2 days in a car. My first tip is to 1) know what best entertains your child and 2) take an early flight. We only had control over the first of these two tips. We scheduled an early flight and it was changed 5 times during the months before we left, until they cancelled the flight altogether and changed it to another day and time (free of charge). Although they did not notify us and I didn't find out until I stumbled across it while checking to see if rates were any better one day and realized our nonstop flight did not appear on the list of flights that day. We ended up with a nonstop flight leaving about 4:50pm and that's very bad for our child because she did not get her afternoon nap and usually eats dinner at 5pm. We arrived at MCO around 7:45pm and got to our resort around 8:40pm.
The part about entertaining our child during the flight was easy because we found new episodes of her favorite shows on DVD and played them while in-flight. She will sit for the duration of anything she has never seen before so all we needed was 2 hours 15 minutes of stuff she never saw before. Unfortunately, that was not enough to counteract no nap, a hectic schedule and missing a normal dinner. On top of that, add ear discomfort during initial descent into the airport and you got an uncontrollable screamer. On the way there, I was firm that she needed to be strapped into her seat while the seatbelt light was ON and she did everything to get out. Fortunately, we had rented a CARES restraint ($13 on eBay). We cinched it down and she could not get out. One the way back, she screamed to get out of her seat, early in the flight. During the entire descent and landing my wife held her on her lap and we avoided the seatbelt struggle. I kept waiting for the flight attendants to say something, but they did not. Although she still cried loudly through the whole descent, landing and unloading.
CARES is the only FCC approved restraint and prevents you from having to lug your car seat onto the plane or rely on only the airplane seatbelt which is easy to unlatch and not very restraining for little ones. The CARES has a full 5-point harness that wraps around the seat and hooks into the airplane lap belt. They are about $75 to purchase or $13 to rent and mail back when you return from your trip.
On every trip there is at least 1 item you realize was a total waste to bring, but seemed completely logical when planning... the item on this trip was a Patapum, this is like a front pack/back pack for carrying a child. We purchased it for $90 online a couple weeks before leaving, thinking if our daughter insisted on being held in the queues it would be our saving grace. The extreme heat and humidity made it impractical. Holding her next to us since we were all sweating already would have made somebody sick or near heat stroke.
The one item we are really glad to have was an umbrella stroller we could use in the airport, around the resort, to/from transportation, push onto the boats, light enough to carry on buses. Disney only rents strollers in each of the 4 parks and 2 water parks, they cannot be removed from the park where they are rented. I am not sure if they really expect guests to carry their child everywhere outside the parks, but I think places like Downtown (Westside & Marketplace) would really benefit if they would rent them at places like the resorts for use everywhere.
Re: Your trip report
Lou, I have my trip report from May 09 if you would like I can post it. It's kinda long because I included a bunch of pics. We will be going to the World tomorrow and I am sure I will be doing another trip report. Let me know I can actually post my trip report here today if you like ok. Take care and I love watching your videos etc. I wished I could do what you do, that is my dream I've been to Disney I would have to say at least 30 times now....never ever get tired of it. Talk to you soon. :mickeykid "Tinkerchelli"
Re: Your trip report
Just got home from our 5th trip to WDW, since 2005. We were there from 10/26 to 10/1 and stayed at BLT. We also drove to Vero Beach and stayed for one day. The weather was ok, but we had a great time anyways. We celebrated our DD (7) and our 15th Wedding anniversay. The crowds were great. We did not wait for more than 10 minutes for pretty much any ride at MK, AK or Epcot. Probably spent way too much money on stuff, but when you go to WDW once a year, what can you expect.
We ate at: Kona (food and service was excellent), La Cantina (Food was very good, but it was difficult to find a seat), Chef Mickey's (Food was good), Castle (Food was OK, service was great), Whispering Canyon (Probably the best food and service we had on the trip), and Earl of Sandwich (love this place).
All and all we had a great time. We are DVC members and are already planning our next trip.
By the way, we went to VB for the first time and it was excellent. Wish we had more time to stay but next year will be here soon enough.
Re: Your trip report
Just got back from disney a few days ago. A few things i noticed...
Cleanliness. I noticed the same trash around the base of the Swiss Family Tree House for three days. For all i know, it is still there. I understand it might be tough to clean there but still.
Also noticed a few cast members who were less than magical. It was actually enough to make me go to guest relations and inform them about a terrible cast member at Sum of All Thrills who was actually yelling at a spanish speaking family who didnt understand the computers. It was horrible to watch. I felt so bad for those people. I understand CAst Members work hard I know they are entitled to bad days but it was inexcusable. One of the luggage handlers at Pop Century actually used a very vulgar term in front of us and not that I am easily offended and the term is not one that bothers me personally but it was still off putting that a Disney cast member used it and felt comfortable doing so infront of me
Also noticed far too many parades...every time you turn around at MK anymore you are being roped off. 3 parades in one day is just way too much plus all the shows in the central hub. I know most people like them. I dont so I know that isnt really a complaint...just me being fussy.
Getting that out of the way we had a great trip, great weather, rode every at least twice and spent 18 hours in the Magic Kingdom and it was terrific. Quick service dining was great and worked well for this trip. Most cast members were excellent. I had just visited Disneyland for the first time last year and it was nice to come home.
Re: Your trip report
I was going to start a thread for my trip report it's very very long with thousands of pictures
Originally Posted by Lou Mongello