Random musings about our Feb. 2013 trip

clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
I'm terrible about starting and not finishing trip reports so I'm not writing a trip report. I do have some good stories from our trip so I figure I'll share some random stories from the trip.

Cast of Characters:

Me: I'm a self proclaimed Disney addict. I suffer from (or enjoy depending on your point of view) what I call OCDD (Obsessive Compulsive Disney Disorder). I ramble. A lot. At least when I write I'm rather verbose. In person I talk a lot if it's a subject I really like or know a lot about otherwise you wouldn't know I have a voice and I can be kind of anti-social. I'm pretty sure I have Asperger Syndrome but I've learned to cope over the years. I have a bunch of food allergies and intollerances as well. I'm very detail oriented and I'm the planner of the family which feeds my OCDD.

DH: DH is kind of my opposite. He's not at all detailed oriented. He's the idea person in our marriage. He's great with the big ideas and grand concepts but then doesn't really know how to implement. He sits back and lets me do the planning as long as he gets to say some specific things he wants to do and places he wants to eat. Works for me! DH is a type 2 diabetic who really doesn't follow his moderate carb diet.

DD15: My 15yo is an unbelievably creative, artistic Oswald the Lucky Rabbit addict. She really does have a true obsession. She has Asperger Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism which makes all of my OCDD planning even more critical. She also has a bunch of food allergies and intollerances.

DD12: My 12yo is I think the most normal person in our family. She's an amazing singer (definitely plans to audition for American Idol when she turns 14) who is the sweetest kid, unless she's dealing with me in which case she likes to try to get my goat, the little stinker. She also has a bunch of food allergies and intollerances.

Here we are waiting for the monorail at the Polynesian, our absolute favourite resort.


Accomodations:
This trip we stayed at the Polynesian. Our February trips typically are at the Polynesian. Our TA arranges really good group rates for the Princess half marathon which happens to fall during our February school break every year and we really just love it there . The Polynesian really does have some of the nicest CMs we've ever met plus there's just something about the theming that just "speaks" to us. Sure it would be nice if there was a hot tub but otherwise we really love it. It's nice that we can all fit in one room at this resort since they have day beds in all the rooms. DD15 has to have her own bed (it's a sensory thing associated with her autism; if she has somebody too close to her she can't seem to sleep) and loves the day bed.

On with the stories.......
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Luggage

Not sure if you remember but last November I was asking about the Heys Disney hard sided luggage which I did end up buying. This was my first time using hard sided luggage so I wasn't sure what to expect. We got two of the Mickey squares 26" spinner bags.

Brandi had mentioned that it scratches easily and was definitely right about that. After this one trip it does look scratched up, but it's still cute. When it was coming out of the luggage hold on the carousel at our home airport at the end of the trip, there was another group standing by DH who started commenting on this amazing Disney luggage which turned out to be ours. They complimented us on how great it was as DH was pulling it off the carousel. It really is cute.

Something I hadn't considered about hard sided luggage is the lack of outside pockets. I really don't use the outside pockets on my luggage much but I do typically slide little last minute things in them. It was weird not having that option. It was no big deal to just unzip the bag a bit to toss those small last minute things inside the main compartment of the bag but it is definitely different. With the soft sided bags there's also a bit of give plus they seem to all have an extra zipper which allows for expanding of the bag. The same size bag in hard sided definitely holds less than it's soft sided equivalent. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially for those of us who have a tendency to pack a lot into a small bag and tend to struggle to keep even medium sized bags under the airline weight limit. It's just something for people to consider.
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Chef Kim at the Polynesian resort

There are some amazing chefs at WDW. One of our favourites is Chef Kim who works at the Polynesian. We met her when she was working in the club lounge and we've kept in touch via email when we're at home. We've become friends.

I'm not sure if you remember, but we were in an article in the CM magazine Eyes and Ears with her last year.

Our first evening at our resort, the club level manager got talking with us and told us that he knew Chef Kim was working over that luau that evening and asked if we wanted to go say hi. Of course we did! He brought us over and went to get her. It was great seeing her. We got to see a bit of the show from the luau's lobby area while waiting which was fun. It seems they had a lot of allergy guests that night so she couldn't stay to talk for long but our timing was good as it was between courses so we did get to chat for probably a good 15 minutes before she had to go back. We firmed up our plans for her and her DH to come by the cabana to see us on our resort day.

Chef Kim and her husband Chef Dylan (pronounced die-lan, not dilan despite the spelling) did make it to the cabana. It was so nice hanging out with them for a while. They really are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. Chef Dylan is a chef over at the Grand Floridian and he's the one who arranged for DH's sugar free dessert for DH at 1900 PF at Chef Kim's prompting. It's not that often that they get a day off together, especially since she takes extra shifts and works 6 days per week, but both this trip and our previous trip on one of their rare days off together they made a point of coming to see us. How great is that? They had planned to go to DTD that day but made sure to spend time with us. Even nicer, they stopped back at our cabana with a box of Babycakes donuts for us. They really are super nice people.

In my review of our 'Ohana brunch, one thing I left out was that Chef Kim came by to visit us. She was scheduled to start working at the Luau at 12:00 so she came by around 11:30 to see us. She had been looking around the dining room for us when we were being walked to our table. She came by because she knew we were leaving and wanted to make sure she got a chance to say goodbye. She stayed chatting with us and Chef Johnny while he was still there until she had to unfortunately head over to the Luau to get to work. She really is a special lady and I'm glad that we've become friends.


Now for the super exciting thing that happened involving Chef Kim. In the morning before heading to the park on our first full day at WDW, our phone in our room rang. This seemed strange because we really don't get many calls. It was Chef Johnny who we know because he used to take care of our breakfast foods in the club lounge and took care of us at Kona plus we just enjoy chatting with him. He was calling to invite us to a special ceremony that afternoon. It seems that Chef Kim was being honoured with the prestigious Legacy award. For those who don't know, this is the highest award that Disney offers to CMs. When you see a CM with a blue name tag, that means they've earned the Legacy award. I was told that not even 1% of CMs have this award. How cool is that? It seems we were invited because the staff at the Polynesian know that we've become friends with her and because it seems that the letters I've sent in to Guest Communications helped contribute to her earning the award. Unfortunately the timing of the ceremony really didn't work last minute like that but boy was I trying to convince DH and the girls to consider dropping our plans and going. Chef Kim told us later that she would have been mad at us if we had have dropped our plans "just" for her but I was feeling kind of bad that we didn't. We are all so unbelievably proud of her and happy for her that she was honoured with this award. It's well deserved.
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
The Polynesian resort: room location and club level

The Polynesian is going through renovations. We knew that the Hawaii building would be closed so this was to be our first trip staying in a non-club level room. This was going to be weird. We've gotten to know the CMs in the lounge and we weren't sure if we'd even get to see them, plus dining would be very different with having to get evening food at Captain Cook's. That's fine but they don't have a lot of options so I figured we might get a bit bored with the limited options, though of course I also knew we could always go to get sushi at Kona Island Sushi Bar or most likely get a walk-up table at Kona Café.

A couple days before our trip, I got an email from the manager of the club lounge, Alfredo, offering us choice between 3 buildings, one of which would give us access to the lounge in the Tonga building. In the end we chose a different building but were given lounge access anyway. Sweet! I went into more detail before our trip in this thread. I know this was Chef Kim's doing. Have I mentioned that she's the BEST!!

When we got to our room, this was waiting for us. Chef Kim wanted to be sure that we had enough allergy safe snacks so she made sure there were plenty and that they were in our room when we arrived. have I mentioned how great she is?


We stayed in Rarotonga facing the quiet pool. This was such a great location. It was a very short walk from the patio doors to the quiet pool and even the walk to the volacano pool was an easy one. The door at the end of the hall is right across from the door to the Great Ceremonial House so the walk to the monorail was about as short of a walk as you can get. The walk to the TTC to get the Epcot monorail was the longest of any walk that we had but even that was short. Rarotonga is a shorter distance to TTC than Hawaii where we usually stay. If we ever stay somewhere other than Hawaii again, I think I'll ask for Rarotonga facing the quiet pool again. It really was perfect for us. We did have to cut through from one side of the GCH to the other to get to the club lounge to get food but that wasn't a big deal at all.

Rarotonga was closed for renovations on March 1. Our trip ended March 1. We were the very last guests to stay in our room as it was. Something about that is kind of cool.

It was really nice getting to see some of the CL CMs. A few of the CMs we had gotten to know in the past were there most days so we enjoyed catching up with them.

Did you know that the Tonga building only has 6 suites? I hadn't realized that. The lounge in the Tonga building was only servicing 6 parties plus us. It seems that there was a LOT of wasted food and the CMs were pretty bored because there just wasn't much to do with so few people to take care of. They were really looking forward to Hawaii re-opening.

For anybody whos' gluten free, they CAN get Redbridge beer for you in the lounge. They may not have it when you first ask but they'll get it. My difficulty was that every night whichever CM was working kept trying to give me more but I hardly drink so I didn't need it. Yeah, life is tough. People offering more and more beer is such a hardship.

The renovations really didn't impact us at all with the exception of a few days during the day that they had the walkways between Samoa and Nuie closed. We had to walk an extra 10-20 steps because of this. The nerve! Trip ruined. Oh a more serious note, DH enjoyed getting to peek in some of the windows of Samoa to see the work they were doing as it was being done. I couldn't be bothered but that's more his thing than mine.
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
DD12's hat and a nice CM

CMs really do try to sprinkle little bits of pixie dust when they can. We were thankful to a CM at Guest Services at MK for his pixie dust during our trip.

We were riding Buzz and somehow when DD12 looked up to shoot at one point, her hat fell off. This was a Fantasmic! hat they no longer sell. She actually got it at a thrift store still with the tags on it so it's not like we spent a lot on it but she really liked this hat a lot. It didn't fall off into the ride car. It fell outside the car somewhere in the ride. She and DH went to a CM at the exit to ask how to go about getting it back. Well, obviously they can't go look for it when the ride is running. He said that if the ride has to shut down during the day then they could go look but otherwise they wouldn't be able to look for it until after the ride shuts down for the night after park close. It seems they don't go looking through the ride for dropped stuff very often so we were told not to hold out much hope. We were also told that if it's found during the day that it would be held at the ride exit until the park closes at which time it would go to Guest Services at the front of the park and that we could check back after the park closes but again, don't hold out much hope.

DD12 was crushed.

We stopped by Guest Services shortly before leaving the park to find out what time would make sense for us to stop back to check. The CM there said that it would be quite a while after the park closes if it showed up and that at the end of the day they send all lost and found items to the central lost and found at the TTC. He looked at DD12 and smiled and said he had an idea. He pulled out a little book and wrote out a certificate for her to go pick any hat she wanted valued up to $25 (that's the price of the majority of the baseball hats) from any store at MK. He then quickly made sure to tell us that even if we find the hat, this one would be hers to keep anyway. How nice is that? DD12 was thrilled. It was a little thing that the CM did but boy did it make a difference to her.

Original hat


Here she is with her new hat.


The next day we had already planned to go to Epcot and since we were staying at the Polynesian I knew we'd be at the TTC so I figured we could swing by the lost and found on our way back to our resort. Lo-and-behold, her hat was there. So, now she not only has this new hat that she loves, she also has the old one that was her favourite as well. What a lucky kid.
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Airlines and BOS airport transportation

This trip was the first time we've flown JetBlue and the first time we've flown out of Logan in Boston BOS (we usually fly Southwest out of Manchester NH MHT). BOS is a much longer drive than MHT and BOS is a much bigger airport that's more difficult to navigate with much more expensive parking. DH really didn't want to fly out of BOS because he's really not good with change and the unknown but the prices for JB were much cheaper than SWA for our dates for nonstop flights. I always choose nonstop flights when possible because DD12 is prone to bad ear pain on descent and even with EarPlanes she still feels it though at least it's tollerable with them. I convinced him to try JB out of BOS by showing him how much cheaper it was even with hiring a car service to bring us there and back. He was even more reluctant to try a service because he's got some strange notion that this tells the people at the company that our house will be empty and they could break in. Hey, we all have our little weird irrational concerns and he doesn't bug me too much about mine so I try to accept his as well. I explained how many people I know who use this particular service (Flightline) and he reluctantly agreed. It helped that I told him about the extra legroom seats and personal TVs on JB. I didn't tell him that I paid an extra $30 per person each way for it. What he doesn't know won't hurt him, right (no he won't be reading this)?

I looked at the prices for Flightline and it turned out that it was actually cheaper to book a dedicated van than it was to book a shared van. Score! It's nice that it didn't cost much more than parking would have for the durination of our trip had we driven down.

The van arrived at our house around 15 minutes before our scheduled pickup time. The driver was nice, the van was a comfortable with 3 passenger rows even though we booked for only 4 people (I think the whole fleet is the same kind of van) and it was clean. We were dropped off right at the door in front of the JB checkin.

The desk the check our luggage was right inside the door. There was a JB employee standing at the entrance of the queues to direct people to the right spots (to a kiosk if you needed a boarding pass or to one of two queues to keep the lines moving evenly). It didn't take long to get through the queue to the desk where we checked our luggage and everbody was pleasant and efficient. We were directed to TSA which was just around the corner from the checkin desk.

One of the benefits of paying the $30pp for the big seats on JB is you also go in a faster line at TSA. There were only 2 people ahead of us in line to get our ID checked though several airline employees got to pass by us. It went really fast. We did go through the same line as everybody else for the scanners but considering the fact that there were agents directing people to empty lines, that's obviously not a big deal. I'm pretty fast with getting our stuff on the belt in the bins but I couldn't keep up as they were moving too quickly. The scanners at BOS are more sensitive than MHT I guess because DH's belt set off the metal detector. He just had to remove it and go back through. None of us had to do the backscatter machine or whatever that thing's called. TSA was very quick and painless.

The signage was really easy for finding our gate. We had plenty of time for getting coffee and water and we just took it easy and read while waiting for our flight to board. I like how they show on a big screen exactly what time they'll begin boarding. They don't do that at SWA.

Here's a short story that will renew your faith in mankind. When I was paying for my coffee, it seems that some stuff fell out of my wallet. I wasn't aware of this. When sitting at our gate, a JB employee called out my name to see if I was at the gate. I went up and it turned out that several credit cards along with some cash had been turned in. The person who found it was an extremely honest person and turned them in. Phew!! I asked who it was that turned them in so I could go thank the person. I went over to thank her and offered to buy her a coffee or drink or something but she wouldn't hear of it. What a nice person!

We were part of the first boarding group since we had the extra legroom seats. We got ourselves seated and comfortable and waited for takeoff. The TVs were wonderful to have and the extra legroom was so worth the extra cost.

Bonus: They had a few different snacks that were safe with our allergies. Woo Hoo!!!

The return flight was just as good.

The only negative we experienced with JB compared to SWA was passengers crowding around the gate before their boarding group is called. It was very difficult to get to the gate in Orlando because of it. After saying excuse me a lot of times and trying to get people's attention to let us through, we had to start pushing. I didn't like it and it felt rude but it was the only way to get through. But, if that's the only negative then I call it a really good experience.

When we returned, while waiting for our luggage to come out I went to the nearby door to look outside to see if I could find the spot described for pickup. I could see a Flightline van exactly where described. When we wheeled our luggage over, we told the driver we had a pickup scheduled and he said our name and confirmed we were going to the town we live in and said he was our driver. He proceeded to put our stuff in the back while we hopped in and off we went. The drive home was just as smooth as the drive down. We were very happy with our Flightline experience and next time we fly JB we'll definitely do it the same.
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Getting a Guest Assistance Card

Like every other trip, we got DD15's Guest Assitance Card (GAC) without a hitch. We went to the Guest Relations (GR) window outside of MK before RD on our first full day at WDW. The CM was friendly and helpful and seemed to enjoy chatting with DD15 about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (I did mention this obsession, didn't I?). I had asked GR the day before at DTD just outside of DQ if I could get one there for her but they said that because there's nowhere that you use a GAC at DTD that they don't issue them there. I had read that you couldn't get them at DTD but I figured there was no harm in asking since we were passing the window anyway.

DH and DD12 always wait for us away from the GR line while DD15 and I go to GR. Since the GAC is for DD15 she has to be there but the others don't need to be so why make them stand there in line.

Note to anybody who needs a GAC: Make sure to look at the GAC to be sure that it's completely filled out. When the CM handed DD15's to me there was nothing stamped on the middle of it. Anybody who is familiar with GACs knows that there will be one or more stamps in the middle of the generic card with each different type of stamp telling the CMs what kind of accomodation the holder requires. If there aren't any stamps then there are no accomodations. I pointed this out to the CM and she looked shocked. She looked through the stack she had grabbed it from and said she was surprised that none of them were stamped. I guess they have stacks of the most common stamps sitting in piles to just grab and fill out but this stack hadn't been stamped. Ooops! No harm done but it's a good thing I know to look or else we would have been frustrated at the first attraction where we needed it and then had to waste time getting a new one. Not a big deal, but I do want people to know that it's important to look it over to be sure it's right before walking away.
 
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ChristineOH

Active member
Great report Trudy! That is a great family photo of your family with Chef Kim.

My sister has a myriad of allergies and intolerances as well. She doesn't have the Disney obsession like I do, but I have told her she ought to consider a trip to WDW. If I can ever talk her into it, your dining reports would be a great resource.
 

pfalcioni

does anybody know how to change this?
She and DH went to a CM at the exit to ask how to go about getting it back. Well, obviously they can't go look for it when the ride is running.
A few years ago Mike lost his coat on Buzz - I think he had it sitting next to him and he sits on the outside of the car and it slid to the floor and out. Anyway, it was a decently big deal because it was his raincoat and it happened to be pouring rain outside! We told the CM at the exit and he told us to wait and they'd send someone around. One of the other cm's grabbed one of those litter-picker things and got on the ride, he found the coat and it just happened to be right where they take your picture -- so I have a picture of the CM grabbing Mike's coat off the floor!

I guess a hat would be harder for them to see so they probably knew they wouldn't be able to get it until the ride closed.
 

clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
That's funny Pam. That's definitely one of those once in a lifetime pictures. She lost her hat in one of the areas that's pretty deep so no way to grab it from tracks. I'm actually shocked that they did get it.

Thanks Christine. You know, you might actually get her to agree to try if she saw dining reviews from people like me who have lots of allergies and intollerances like she does rather than showing them to her once she's decided. Seeing just what they can do definitely can convince people who live with this that it's worth at least one trip.
 

toodles

Member
Really enjoying your report! That's great about your dtr and her hat as well as the lady returning your credit cards/cash.

I am thinking about booking our next trip at the Poly if we can get a decent rate so it was nice to get some info about it from a recent stay.

It's amazing how people stampede the boarding area like a herd of cattle when the gate agent announces it's time to board the flight!
 

clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
I updated the first post with a picture. It sometimes takes me a while to get pictures uploaded, but I try to get it done eventually.
 

jandeeah

rescued daughter from turk - that crazy gorilla!
How did I miss this and all of your reviews? I guess I know what I am going to be doing after dinner. Can't wait to start reading!!!
 

Rhonda

makes josh ride in the passenger seat
Always great to hear stories that restore faith in mankind! When we were at Seaworld, Mason and I were sitting in the middle section of the orca show (Ace and Molly were in the front). Before the show started Mason decided he wanted to sit at the very very top, so we moved. AFTER the show, a man came up to us from the middle section and handed me Ace's wallet that must have dropped from the back pack!! I was so amazed, and very happy. We didnt even know it had been lost!
 

clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Rhonda, thanks for sharing your story. I love hearing about things like that. You know, because we hear so much bad stuff on the news and even in real life because the bad stories are somehow more interesting for people to tell it seems like the bad stuff happens more but I really do think that for the most part most people are good and will do the right thing in most situations. At least it makes me happier going through life believing that.

Andrea, you've had a lot going on. I don't think you've been on the boards much and I only just started this semi-TR a couple days ago anyway. I hope you enjoy the reviews.
 

Bernie2003

New member
I missed this until today, too! I'm enjoying your report so far. I have to tell you, when we met with Chef Ken at The Plaza this last trip, I thought of you. I know I've read reports where you've mentioned him as well. He was so friendly and great with Andy! It sounds like Chef Kim is amazing!
 

jandeeah

rescued daughter from turk - that crazy gorilla!
I missed this until today, too! I'm enjoying your report so far. I have to tell you, when we met with Chef Ken at The Plaza this last trip, I thought of you. I know I've read reports where you've mentioned him as well. He was so friendly and great with Andy! It sounds like Chef Kim is amazing!
Cousin Ken is amazing. AnnaMay was upset that was going to be a "grown up restaurant" She loved him so much that it was the only restaurant she said she HAD to go back to this trip.
 
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clanmcculloch

expert on dietary needs and disney dining
UGH!!! Stupid computer. I need to ban my kids from ever using my computer. I got a really nasty virus (a bot) and now I can't even get it start in safe mode. The day before this happened I was thinking that I needed to more my pictures to my external hard drive but I put it off figuring it's easier to work directly off my laptop rather than the external drive (only minutely but still....) so I didn't do it. I'll take care of it but it's such a PITA and it means no pictures for my TR for a little while. I won't get my photopass pictures probably for another week either so I'll see if I can think of stuff to write about where pictures wouldn't have made a difference anyway.

Cousin Ken's amazing. He is the reason we go there. Notice that he has a blue name tag too. The Mayor of Main Street is who explained the blue tag to us when he came into the Plaza one time while Cousin Ken was at our table.
 
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