Trip Report...now with more detail for your reading pleasure! (6/7 - 6/13)

jenninaustin

New member
EDITED - ADDED PICS TO FIRST POST! :)

you can read my TR on my website if you prefer...

http://jennstwosteps.blogspot.com/2014/06/intro-to-my-longer-disney-trip-report.html

We returned from our trip to WDW on Friday, June 13th (I have a habit of traveling on Friday the 13th, according to my daughter). I loved and adored the trip. I was truly in heaven. My family tells me they enjoyed it also and I assume they are telling me the truth (I saw plenty of smiles) although it’s entirely possible that they are sort of humoring me. I’m quite sure (they’ve all indicated that this is true) that I am the biggest Disney fan in the family and am the one who gets the most out of our trips. But they had fun too...I’m reasonably sure about that. :)

Big lessons learned:
- Next time there will be more time at Animal Kingdom! I really like that park, there’s so many details to see, but we went on our arrival day and after getting up at 4:30, the rest of my family was desperate to get back to the hotel after three things (EE, KS, and Maharajah Jungle Trek). I was going on pure adrenaline but knew it was smart to go back (it was) because the next day was a full EPCOT day. But next time….we will enjoy AK!
- The Dining Plan was worth it for us this time only because we had so many meals with a fixed price. Next time we probably won’t do two character meals (we might not do any of them...I like them more than anyone else) so it might not be worth it for us next time. BOMA was an amazing meal - I'll be back there every time! (well worth the fixed price...)
- I'm sure there are other lessons but I'm ready to move on to the meat of the trip report so enough lessons already!

General Info:
Our cast was: me, my husband, my daughter (15), and my son (11). We hadn’t been to WDW since Spring Break 2009 (waaaaay too long in my opinion) and this was somewhat spur of the minute from an uber-planner’s perspective since I could make my ADRs as soon as I paid for our trip (i.e. - we were within the 180 day window).

My daughter decorated my Magic Band for me.


I used a travel agent only because they had a deal where we could get one free water park ticket per person. We’d never done that and it was fun. It still frustrated me to have some things with the TA but all in all I was able to do everything I wanted in terms of planning.

We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort and really liked it. Was it a lot of walking? Yes, but that’s the case with any moderate other than POFQ. As with so many other Disney details, the difference is the attitude you bring to the experience. I ordered groceries (too many as it turned out, but there you go) so we didn’t have to go to the main building for breakfast. A couple of mornings I went to get hot chocolate for my kids (because I love them and needed to bribe them to get them moving) and frankly, I looked at the walk as a warm up for my day and truly enjoyed the experience. The resort has lovely landscaping.

The bus service was GREAT. There were two times we waited a little long for a bus but I believe each of those times was within the expected limit. The buses are exclusive to that resort and that makes quite a difference. Mousekeeping missed us one day (we were in the room when they came by and they forgot to come back later) - after that we got great towel animals so I ended up leaving a compliment card for our Mousekeeper. We saw bunnies and ducks every day, multiple times a day. The pool is very impressive and the slide is fun although we only went one night. We ate at Pepper Market on arrival night (we were too tired to stay at Animal Kingdom) and I was honestly shocked at how delicious the food was. Honestly, it was so good and I was hoping for adequate. I recommend CSR for sure. Some day I'll stay in Deluxe <sung to the tune of "Some Day My Prince Will Come"> but CSR was very relaxing.

(In case you're curious, we stayed at POR last time and also enjoyed it a lot. We especially liked the boats to DTD at POR. Both of these resorts have a relaxing feel to them - lots of walking, but it's so pretty to look at the gorgeous landscaping, the bunnies and the ducks.)

 
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amici5

New member
cant wait to here- we leave in 2 days- but who is counting!! I am curious to here how the 15 year old was in the morning- I have 2 -15 yr olds and and 18 year old - I am not looking forward to the mornings!!

Laura
 

jenninaustin

New member
I figured out the picture problem - woot! (just had to uncheck the box...duh)

Day 1 - Saturday, June 7th
Up at 4:30 a.m. to catch our nonstop to Orlando and I gave my kids the first of their Tinkerbell gifts. The highlight of the first day gifts were probably the Mickey Mouse Pez dispensers and the Star Wars Mad Libs. At the Austin airport I learned that my kids have this game where they will read the word “poop” into every Mad Lib blank.

Even I had to admit that it was pretty hilarious.

Once in Orlando, the only delay in terms of Magic Express was my own fault because I got confused finding the correct check in location at MCO. Once we got there and had our first experiences with the Magic Bands (and the first of MANY Cast Members over the next few days complimented me on my MB) it was smooth sailing. The Magic Band worked like….well….. “magic” to get us on the bus, and we went straight to Coronado Springs Resort. I’d done online check-in and there was no wait for a front desk CM. Our room was ready (I was NOT expecting that, as it was before noon), the CM gave us our Happy Anniversary buttons and also gave us a letter for two free glasses of champagne at the Laguna Bar. Niiiiiiiice.

I’ll take this opportunity to insert a few of our Coronado Springs Resort wildlife photos. The video of the bunny is even cuter and in the evening the ducks were all curled up on the grass about 8 inches away from the walkway. Rather domesticated, really.



Originally I figured we’d need to leave our carry-on bags with the bell station but since our room was ready, we went up to the room and called for our groceries (which came in 10 minutes). We were in Ranchos, which don't get a lot of love I suppose but we really enjoyed them. Here's the view from our room:



After dropping stuff off and slathering on the sunscreen, we went to Animal Kingdom. As indicated above, I really wish we’d had more time at AK. But this was our “free” ticket (buy 4 days, get 1 free) and it was great while we were there. Hot….but great. Added bonus - I ended up with one of my favorite pictures of me and my husband together…




By the way, I was DisneyBounding as Pocahontas on arrival day. Because, you know….Animal Kingdom.

First ride was Expedition Everest (with a pre-planned FP+). I’d decided to get FP+s for all 4 of us, even for “scary” rides, although my son had no intention of doing roller coasters. To our surprise, on the bus ride over he decided to do EE (none of us was pressuring him to do that). Check out the picture - my son looks the most calm, right? You’ll see this theme continuing with other ride pictures. He’s like Mr. Spock in them - no emotion.



In this particular ride, however, he wasn’t happy - he did NOT like EE. None of us had been on it and I have to admit - it was pretty intense. I told him he’d started with the monster ride and if he decided to do other coasters that week - they’d seem like nothing. I was worried it might scare him off of other rides but thankfully, as you’ll see...it wasn’t a problem.

We all enjoyed the safari and the walk through Maharajah trail but it was HOT and my family was TIRED. We went back to the hotel and enjoyed the pool for a bit as a family. I gave my son the “free 100 points of arcade” card that came with our package (and was not worth much, of course) and my husband and daughter played the free foozball for a while. Good family time all around. I wish I’d gone down the pool slide more than once - it was fun.

After that, I sent my kids to bed somewhat early and begged my husband to walk over and enjoy our free glass of champagne on our first night. To be fair, he didn’t fuss about it and was happy to join me - he knew I had some other busy nights planned and I was eager to celebrate. We love having kids who get along and are old enough to be left alone while we go out for a drink. It was gorgeous and a great way to celebrate our first night in the world!

 

jenninaustin

New member
Day 2 - Sunday, June 8th - First Day of EPCOT!

EPCOT was our only 2-day park. We went our first full day and our last full day. It worked out that way based on most-recommended days to visit parks but there is a certain rhythm to having EPCOT bookend our trip. On Sunday, I DisneyBounded as Coronation Elsa. My mission (which I achieved, thank you very much) was to get my picture taken in front of the Stave Church in Norway.



The photopass photographer in front of the park before opening made my day with this picture. The “kissing in front of the kids” picture theme continued with other photographers at other parks. It was fun for us, less fun for the kids maybe...but who cares?!


My dear readers….I was so happy on this day (not that I was ever sad on this trip, but you know what I mean). Our family loves EPCOT. My kids had been talking about going back to Soarin’ for months (remember we were last at WDW in 2009) and, because I’m all about Maintaining the Magic, I assiduously avoided mentioning the posts I’d read about how crummy the film was now with the black spots popping up. (Sure enough...Soarin’ was still great for our family, even with the black spots and the inevitable “Hey, look Mom, it’s a bug!” from the younger kids in the audience.)

I made the family get on the bus to the big ol’ golf ball well before rope drop but it wasn’t as early as I would have preferred. My idea of early rope drop and my family’s idea of early rope drop are not in sync. I (eventually) learned to roll with it. I appreciated that we were there before the gates opened, and I only put my foot down about arriving on my schedule for our Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom days. (Totally paid off by the way, just saying….) On Sunday, we were at EPCOT well before the gates opened but we were still pretty far back. And of course at EPCOT people are either going to Soarin’ or Test Track so, with two choices and so many people….being at the front matters. We went straight to Test Track to ride standby, which was supposedly 20 minutes but was actually a little longer. (If we’d been at the front of the turnstiles the wait wouldn’t have been as long...but who’s complaining about that? Not me…not now anyway...maybe I did a little that morning….) Truthfully, it was not a huge issue because the TT queue is quite cool and I knew we could ride single rider later. We LOVED IT. My son loved it most of all. We rode single rider at least one more time that day and a few times our second day at EPCOT...Here we are building our vehicles:



Unfortunately...by the time we were out of TT we were behind “schedule” (and at this point I was still annoying my loved ones by focusing on the schedule) - so when we got to Sum of All Thrills it was more of a wait than I would have preferred but still worth it. The sign said 15 minutes...maybe it was but I don’t think so. It seemed longer to me - but who knows? At any rate, it was tons of fun to watch the legs of the folks in front of us flying around and wondering what their coasters were like. Cool beans. Finally we got to create the roller coasters. I went with Dennis and my husband stuck with Kathryn. My husband (somewhat surprisingly) had to get them to open the machine immediately after they closed it because he felt claustrophobic. Kathryn ended up riding by herself. My son and I rode his together. It was intense and fun! (He included loops in his!)

As a mom who still wasn’t sure how her son would react to roller coasters, I especially liked the fact that I could see an image of his face with his reactions in the corner of my screen. Technology...Helping Moms Relax and Enjoy the Ride.

Dennis’s experience on SoAT (combined with his love of Test Track and the fact that he survived EE the day before) inspired him to say: “I’ve learned that I like roller coasters after all! Just not Expedition Everest.”

Fair enough, dude….fair enough. And actually rather understandable to be perfectly honest.

If I had taken better notes of our day, I could tell you exact wait times and stuff but that didn’t happen. I can tell you that I think our three longest waits all week were at Test Track, Sum of All Thrills and (ironically) the Ariel ride at MK (more on that later) but really - none of them exceeded 20 minutes by very much. Having a plan and hitting rope drop matters. You’ll still be winging it some and enjoying the little things, but you’re much less likely to spend hours in line.

Before our Behind the Seeds tour at noon, we used our Soarin’ FP, rode Living with the Land, and ate at Sunshine Seasons. I highly recommend the Behind the Seeds tour. (Side Note: I also highly recommend Sunshine Seasons. Wow - the food there….yummmmmm. I’m hungry just thinking about it.) Our family likes science and it really was great to hear about all the cool greenhouse technology and see the lettuce that would end up in the restaurants later. Granted...our family is sort of sciency (ok, nerdy) but that’s probably not a prerequisite to enjoying the tour. Here are my kids watching some sort of wasp (the wasp’s name escapes me at the moment but they are super tiny, they don’t even look like wasps - totally not scary or intimidating to kids in case you’re worried). These cool wasps get rid of leaf miner bugs that eat leaves from the inside out.


It was cool to be walking in the greenhouses as the boat went by and I’m glad I’d taken the advice of a random forum advisor and made sure we rode Living with the Land before we took the tour that morning. Here’s a collage of some hidden (and not so hidden) Mickeys from the tour.


On the way out, I asked the tour guide (Lizzie) about her experience with the Disney College Program and was very happy when my daughter jumped in and followed up with all sorts of questions about college and the Disney program. My daughter is very interested in being a nurse (this becomes relevant in a few days, by the way) and the CM said Kathryn should look into the college program for sure. It was a great discussion. Here’s Lizzie with my two kiddos:


After the tour (or maybe some of it was before...who knows??) we used our FPs for Space Mountain and Mission Space, went to Character Spot because there was no wait (man...did my son complain about waiting for characters, even for just 10 minutes...but I held my ground and used Momma Guilt to my advantage). We also hit Club Cool (where my son completely redeemed himself and was a GREAT sport when he drank Beverly twice so we could get his expression on video - yea, Dennis!). We were able to hit Imagination before our 5:00 Akershus ADR. I have such fond memories of Figment. I went on and on and on about Figment. My family was respectfully silent and smiled kindly as I purchased a miniature Figment souvenir.

Akershus has very good food, in case you’re wondering - especially the salmon. The 5:00 ADR was perfect, because we walked right in almost before anyone else sat down and it poured down rain while we were eating. I was so happy to meet the princesses and get their autographs. (My kids didn’t collect autographs….I did...I think I’ll use them in frames or scrapbooks. That’s the theory anyway.)

And...check it out guys - Ariel is totally Kathryn’s princess look-alike! (Kathryn’s true doppelganger princess is Anna - her personality is exactly like Anna, she has the same freckles... when I saw Frozen I felt like I was watching my eldest on the screen….but until Anna existed, I always thought of Ariel as my girl’s look alike!)


I haven’t quite decided what my son was thinking in this picture with Aurora…and I’m not sure I’m going to ask. It might be “I can’t believe mom is making me take pictures with Princesses when I’m going to be in middle school next year” or it could be something else….?


The downpour ended by the time we left Akershus, and it was almost a walk-on for Maelstrom - which was good because there was a LONG line before our dinner ADR but there wasn’t a FP kiosk anywhere near us in Norway. (Of course, it didn’t occur to me to take care of a 4th FP+ as we left Future World because I was dying to get to the countries. My tendency to over-focus is sometimes a liability.)

Here we are at Maelstrom!!!! :)

After Maelstrom, I think we probably did the Mexico ride, which wasn’t on my list of must-do’s but why not do it, especially if it’s a total walk on?

Clearly this isn’t the most organized trip report. In looking at my pictures, I just realized that my son bought his Chinese hat BEFORE we went to Akershus….hmmmm. Who knew? Apparently we walked to Norway via China. My husband warned him he’d probably have to wear it on the plane but Dennis didn’t care. That hat was calling out to him! (And it ended up fitting in the suitcase after all….it will come in handy for Texas summers!)


On the way out of the park, we did the Nemo ride and looked at the aquarium. My daughter really didn’t want to do Crush, but I wanted to do it (pulling the ol’ Momma Guilt card again) and we walked by right as they were letting people in (so there was literally NO WAIT AT ALL). We did it and it was fun - of course. (You should always listen to your mom…)


We didn’t stay for Illuminations, but at this point I was still thinking we were going to see Fantasmic on Tuesday (that was foreshadowing...did you catch it?) so I wasn’t heartbroken about leaving early except I wanted my son to see the cool lights in the sidewalk as we left Future World (he didn’t remember those from our 2009 trip). Luckily it was getting dark, which made me happy, because - yea!! the funky sidewalk lights came on!! We did a repeat ride on Spaceship Earth before leaving the park. My kids LOVE that ride. I’m glad we went again because the videos in our car (or whatever that vehicle is called - a buggy??) didn’t work the first time we rode it with a FastPass. It was fun to see them work with our actual faces inserted into the video. Our faces are MUCH more entertaining than the generic cartoon faces.

Stay tuned for the next installment...our "non-park" day. My family thought it would be more restful.

Silly family! :)

 

jenninaustin

New member
Spreading Pixie Dust

Here's a quick break from the daily WDW trip reports to let you know about one of the cheapest and most rewarding aspects of our Disney vacation. One of the best things about a Disney vacation is seeing all the kids. Kids in costume, kids talking about Mickey, kids seeing the castle for the first time...it's all pretty fun. Usually the kids are so happy but sometimes they are in need of a little extra pixie dust. Those WDW days aren't always completely magical.

As part of my trip preparation, I hit the Dollar Tree and picked up a few packages of Disney stickers and quite a few glow sticks. Whenever we saw kiddos (especially if they were starting to melt down a bit), I'd hand out stickers or if it was evening, I handed out glow sticks and told them it was a magic wand.

My own big kids loved watching me do this. I encouraged them to do it as well but they seemed to prefer finding gift recipients to being the actual gift-giver.

I got more joy from the $10 I spent on this activity than almost anything else during my entire trip. The smiles on their faces were wonderful! I handed stickers out at the airport before we left (it was a direct flight from Austin to Orlando so there were plenty of kids going to Disney with us) and at night, on the bus back to the hotel I handed out magic wands. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it - there's no reason for me to limit my pixie dust activities to the World, is there? I think I'll prepare sticker packages to carry around Austin with me this summer. Maybe I'll also buy miniature bubbles.

Here's a fact you might not know: Spreading pixie dust creates even more magic for the person acting as the fairy godmother than it does for the recipients of the gifts. Try it!

 

vicki_c

THE RULES!!!
I like your kissing picture, we have one just like it at MK from a few years ago, with the kids hiding their eyes. I think they are cute, in that kind of ridiculous "I'm at Disney World" way! I love ours.
 

Brandie

Will work for Dole Whips.
Big lessons learned:
- Next time there will be more time at Animal Kingdom! I really like that park, there’s so many details to see, but we went on our arrival day and after getting up at 4:30, the rest of my family was desperate to get back to the hotel after three things (EE, KS, and Maharajah Jungle Trek). I was going on pure adrenaline but knew it was smart to go back (it was) because the next day was a full EPCOT day. But next time….we will enjoy AK!
I'm a big fan of Animal Kingdom. The general consensus seems to be that one day at AK is enough, but my family tries to go twice on every trip.
 

Brandie

Will work for Dole Whips.
As part of my trip preparation, I hit the Dollar Tree and picked up a few packages of Disney stickers and quite a few glow sticks. Whenever we saw kiddos (especially if they were starting to melt down a bit), I'd hand out stickers or if it was evening, I handed out glow sticks and told them it was a magic wand.

. . . .

I got more joy from the $10 I spent on this activity than almost anything else during my entire trip. The smiles on their faces were wonderful! I handed stickers out at the airport before we left (it was a direct flight from Austin to Orlando so there were plenty of kids going to Disney with us) and at night, on the bus back to the hotel I handed out magic wands. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it - there's no reason for me to limit my pixie dust activities to the World, is there? I think I'll prepare sticker packages to carry around Austin with me this summer. Maybe I'll also buy miniature bubbles.
Did you ever come across kids (or parents) who were suspicious of your generosity? Did you get many "no thanks"? 'Cause this is a sweet idea, but I'd be afraid of rejection.
 

Craig

on disneys mom panel
Big lessons learned:
- Next time there will be more time at Animal Kingdom!
Animal Kingdom definitely gets a bad rap as a 1/2 day park. It's actually our favorite. The atmosphere there is like nowhere else in WDW.
 

jenninaustin

New member
Did you ever come across kids (or parents) who were suspicious of your generosity? Did you get many "no thanks"? 'Cause this is a sweet idea, but I'd be afraid of rejection.
No - I didn't. :) I wondered about that myself and figured it would happen once or twice but it never did. Especially if the kid was tiny, I went "through" their parents or grandparents - there were definitely a few surprised faces, but in a good way.
 

jenninaustin

New member
I like your kissing picture, we have one just like it at MK from a few years ago, with the kids hiding their eyes. I think they are cute, in that kind of ridiculous "I'm at Disney World" way! I love ours.
Not only do I like the kissing pictures, but I will also enjoy posting them in my house to embarrass my kids. :) <insert evil laugh>
 
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