Act Like You've Been Here Before (Trip Report P-Week February 2018)

mgarbowski

Well-known member
This trip was the last on our 2017-18 Annual Passes, which we bought during the promotion for the 45th anniversary that made APs last 13 months. This let us fit in 2 regular Presidents' Day week trips on a single AP, and with the DVC AP discount, represents a meaningful saving over 2 sets of the 6-day hoppers we would have used. I had already bought a set of the 6-day hoppers from Parksavers for our Feb 2017 trip before they announced the 13-month promotion. Fortunately that was before they came with expiration dates and the tickets for our next trip (TBD) are already paid for. We added a Christmas trip during the AP, which was roughly planned for from the beginning, and I had a weekend solo trip in July.
The only previous time we had APs we also added a Christmas trip. But that year our main trips were during Easter week, and the Christmas trip was not especially close to either one. Here this trip followed less than 2 months after the Christmas trip. It felt almost like a single bifurcated 14-day trip, and this definitely affected how we toured both times. This is also the first time in a while that a trip ended without us knowing when the next trip will be. Both girls are starting new schools next year. When this trip took place, we didn't even know where either girl will be next year. We now have the high school situation for Little Girl sorted out, but we are still waiting for Big Girl to hear from some colleges. No matter what, they will no longer have any vacations that line up during the school year, except Christmas week I guess, but we've done Christmas week twice as a bonus AP trip, and we'd rather not spend our main annual trip on a week that busy. Which means I guess we'll be going in the summer for a few years, but we need to get the schools chosen and figure out schedules before making any plans.
Overall, this was a take-it-easy trip. We're WDW veterans. The girls are getting older. We feel little need to fit everything in and even less to do anything twice. We added more sit down meals, and characters, and dropped some rides. We took our time, though it was still exhausting and we averaged 16,800 steps and 7.4 miles walking daily.
For pictures, I went back to something I tried a few years ago, and relied almost completely on film. The shots of the Wilderness Lodge grounds -- like the one of the water tower in the first post -- are with a fancy Sony digital camera. There will also be a handful of iPhone shots, mostly for food, and of course the Photopass shots . But everything else you see here will be film, including the Astro Orbiter shot. I even shot one roll on a camera that requires both manual focus and setting of exposure as another way to slow down.
 
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3dadknight

Well-known member
Welcome to the “Parents-with-Graduating-Kids Club.” I think you arrived at CCV the day after we left. Looking forward to your pics, report and thoughts on the resort.
 

jillyb

unsure of the release date for the dumbo anniversa
I'm in! The picture of the water tower is gorgeous!
 

jbekf

New member
Another vote for the water tower picture! Also loving the creative title of your report, I'm sure there's a story behind it....

Bev
 

BSS

Member
Love the water tower pic!!!

Oh the college adventure! I have 2 in HS and one in college and, you're right, none of the breaks match. So this year I took the college kid to Disney for his fall break and I'm taking the 2 HS kids on a cruise for their spring break. We will all do something together as a family over the summer. It's different, but it's fun to go on adventures with just one or two of them.
 

mgarbowski

Well-known member


Day 1, Travel and Hollywood Studios


14.0k Steps
6.2 miles
The flight was uneventful, and we arrived sometime early afternoon. No room text yet, so we decide to head straight to Hollywood Studios. After trading in pants for shorts at the airport we head to the rental car area, where the Hertz agent asks if I'm a Gold Club member which I am. Which is nothing really: there's no fee or minimum rental requirement. But because I am, he offers me a Chevy Traverse instead of whatever I had reserved as a free upgrade. Chevy is behind the promotion, trying to get people to ooh and aah at the car and especially its technology options. Spoiler: it doesn't work because of some fundamental glitches and poor customer service along the way and I've been spreading word of that on Twitter and FB. We'll get to that in a couple of days. the experience doesn't interfere with anything, and was more amusing that infuriating, but Chevy and OnStar did not shine at all (especially Chevy). Hertz was great about it. But for now all that happens is it takes us a minute or two to decide whether even to take the offer. The Traverse is huge. It is much more than we need and seems to be the size of a small bus. Neither my wife or I particularly want to drive it. I'm amazed it is classified as a midsize SUV -- what the heck does a full size SUV look like? But I want to take it mostly because among the tech it has Apple CarPlay which I want to try, so we make the switch. I have to sign a card allowing Chevy to contact me afterwards to make a sales pitch and/or get feedback. A month later, they haven't done so.

But anyway, we program the GPS for the Studios and are on our way. A few miles out I realize our Magic Bands are in my suitcase, and I will need mine at least to get free parking at the park. So we pull into a mini mall and handle that before resuming and get to HS probably around 3 or so. Still no Room Ready text. Our first FP is Star Tours at 4:45. There is a glitch with my wife's MB and we have to go to Guest Services upon entry. They fixed it and it never happened the rest of the week. Besides, ST, we have FPs for Tower of Terror and RnRC, which is really all we want to do. I forget how we killed the time before Star Tours. I think we browsed in some shops, and as part of that we went looking for Jedi Stitch in the Star Tours gift shop. HS has a bunch of these on display around the park in different gift shops: Bellhop Stitch, Indy Stitch and Rock and Roll Stitch at least. We've seen them all, but never Jedi Stitch. So we ask and are informed that basically one cast member named Fernando has Bogarted Jedi Stitch as his personal companion when he's on duty, but nobody can find him. I guess that's why we never found it before. We do catch up with him later in the week, and it's a pretty neat experience.

Our Star Tours ride continued the lack of variety we experienced in December. On that trip we rode 3 times and out sequences went:

  • Stormtroopers — Jakku — Maz Kanata — Salt Planet
  • Kylo — Jakku — Maz Kanata — Salt Planet
  • Kylo — Jakku — Maz Kanata — Salt Planet
On this trip we rode twice and the sequences were:

  • Kylo — Jakku — Poe Dameron — Salt Planet
  • Kylo — Jakku — Poe Dameron — Salt Planet

Randomness has apparently been eliminated, and I find it very disappointing that they've done that to this ride. It was the best thing about it, and made it worth repeated rides on a single trip. A bonus was that you can usually find lulls in any day when stand by waits aren't too bad. But in the 2 biggest sequences of the ride we saw Jakku and the Salt Planet 5 times out of 5. Why bother with a ride? Might as well just show a promo for the new movies and be done with it because that's all this ride seems to be right now.


Between ST and ToT we grab dinner at the Backlot Express, which we have either never been to, or maybe once a long time ago. it's pretty standard QS fare, though my burger comes with some barbecue beef brisket on top instead of the usual bacon and cheese. A couple of us also get the cupcake Vader, which is kind of cute.



Still no room ready text even though it's after 5 pm, and so I couldn't pay with the MB. DW gets a little concerned, and calls while we are in Backlot Express. Apparently I never did advance check in? Seems unlikely, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Both girls on the main drag:

it's better with Coke

Echo Lake

Hollywood Boulevard looking to the entrance:

The girls on Sunset Boulevard

Tower of Terror maybe 45 minutes before sunset:

This balloon vendor made a cool scene after dark:


Check out my Eraserhead hair:



Not much more worth dwelling on at HS. We do our two rides with the FP+, and head to the car to drive to Wilderness Lodge. There's an embarrassing/amusing incident. We're settling into the car. My wife is in the driver's seat. Suddenly one of our phones starts a call and it comes on over the car speakers because of CarPlay. And we just called 911. I inform the operator it is a tech glitch, that there is no emergency, and apologize. The call ends. 45 seconds later it happens again. It's my phone. We think it's a CarPlay glitch, but soon I realize that I have my Magic Band on the same wrist as my Apple Watch, and the MB is pressing a button on the Watch and it's making emergency calls. Except for the call being on the car speaker it has nothing to do with the car. So I switch my MB to my right wrist and that's thankfully done with. Meanwhile, my wife is getting notices on her phone that I've made 2 calls to emergency services and here's my location because I could be in a ditch! Or something worse! So everything is vibrating, buzzing, alarming, and pinging and please just stop! Which it eventually does.

On the way to HS from the airport I just used the Waze app on my phone because I didn't want to wait trying to figure out CarPlay. This time I spend a short time getting it working, and realize CarPlay doesn't support Waze, or Google maps, or anything but Apple Maps. Which is really annoying on the part of Apple, and relevant here because as we drive to Wilderness Lodge we discover Apple maps has not updated to include the new roads that have been built and the new way to get from World Drive to the Magic Kingdom resorts. Really Apple? Fortunately we figured this out on the fly and didn't get diverted. But we swore off the CarPlay navigation and Apple maps for the rest of the trip. If they don't even know where the roads are you really can't trust them. I feel bad for Chevy at this point because the CarPlay limitations are not their fault but it really starts my view of the car's technology on a bad note.

But we find our way to the lodge. First thing I notice is how similar AK Lodge and Wilderness Lodge are. Same parking lots. Same arrival portal. Similar lobbies. Second thing I realize is I'm in love. This is my resort. For life.


I have to check in at the front desk, which takes hardly any time. The CM also gives me the Magic Bands I forgot to decline. Because I also did not personalize them they are all grey. I wish I took a photo before we tossed them. The bands are grey. The cardboard they are attached to is grey. They look like Magic Bands for Prison Disney. Welcome inmates, here are your bands. They don't open doors. They don't get you on rides. You can't buy anything. We just track you.

Our room is on the 6th Floor, though the numbering of floors at WL seems beyond random. We're only 4 flights up. No matter. I love this place. When i win the lottery that I don't play and buy 10 kazillion DVC points this is where I will move into. I'll give more details about the room later. It has some issues, as 3dadknight recently mentioned in his recent report. But I still love it. On our 2 most recent family trips we stayed in a Poly DVC studio and a POFQ room. Now we're in a 1-bedroom and it feels like all the room in the world even though as one-bedrooms go at WDW it's relatively low in terms of square feet. We brought our own bags up using a cart because there were almost no CMs, including bell services, out front. But I need to call to get the groceries and Owner's Locker, they come in short order, but they forget the frozen part of the grocery order. This is only the second time we ordered groceries and this happened both times. They bring the room temperature stuff, and the refrigerated bag, but forget the frozen items. We settle in, unpack, and that's Day 1.
 
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3dadknight

Well-known member
I’m surprised you weren’t calling 911 from HS. The watch and MB are clearly touching in the picture. The 911 Story is hilarious. Also, glad you found a “future home” at WL. That first walk into the lobby really is incredible.

Great report so far! Looking forward to more.
 

beachta1

Well-known member
I'm a gold member at hertz and always get a text that I can bypass the counter and go straight to a car... sounds like this would have made your life easier. That car sounds like it was annoying but makes for good storytelling. I'd be mortified if I accidentally called 911 twice!!!

WL is my dream resort too and hope to stay there someday. There is something special about it. I will live vicariously through you.

DH rode ST twice during our stay, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and had the same scene both times. I wonder why its not random anymore. I can't stomach it anymore but could see how it would be annoying. Although now that I think about it, like 99% of Disney rides are the same over and over and we don't complain...
 

mgarbowski

Well-known member
I’m surprised you weren’t calling 911 from HS. The watch and MB are clearly touching in the picture. The 911 Story is hilarious. Also, glad you found a “future home” at WL. That first walk into the lobby really is incredible.
I think the reason the MB started activating the emergency call feature on the watch had to do with the way I bent my left wrist to fasten my seatbelt. That's why it happened in the car. I wore them the same way in December when we didn't have a car and it never happened then, either.

I'm a gold member at hertz and always get a text that I can bypass the counter and go straight to a car... sounds like this would have made your life easier. That car sounds like it was annoying but makes for good storytelling. I'd be mortified if I accidentally called 911 twice!!!

******
DH rode ST twice during our stay, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and had the same scene both times. I wonder why its not random anymore. I can't stomach it anymore but could see how it would be annoying. Although now that I think about it, like 99% of Disney rides are the same over and over and we don't complain...
I had the same option at Hertz to go straight to the car, and I could have brushed off the guy who approached us. I have no regrets. The Traverse experience and assorted issues was more amusing than anything else. The stories are worth it. Wait for my conversation with OnStar, which has a rather "who's on first" flair to it. And yes, calling 911 twice was exactly mortifying, and nobody's fault but mine for putting my watch and MB on one wrist.

As for ST, my guess is they got a lot of negative feedback from visitors who would ride 1 or 2 times on a trip and never saw the sequences from the new movies. That happened to me on my July solo trip. I rode 4 times with the sole purpose of seeing a new sequence and never did. And maybe Disney just overcompensated the other direction. But I'd still rather have the experience I had in July, with some variety and nothing new, than the new sequences almost exactly the same way every single time. I expect that eventually they will adjust back to normal randomness.

Thanks to all who chimed in just to let me know you're following, or say a nice word about the water tower photo, or anything else. It's all appreciated.
 
For what it's worth, my family rode Star Tours 3 times during our visit March 10. They said the two rides back to back were the same, but later in the day, the sequences were different. So it's apparently it's not ALWAYS the same...
 

Katie_G

Member
I laughed out loud at prison Disney! Ha!

We had the same experience with Star Tours (looks like we traveled at the same time you did) riding multiple times and getting the same sequence every time. We agree that it wasn't as enjoyable that way.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 
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