Disney – Aug 07

So we’ll put our “trip report” on a separate page so everyone can read it at their own pace.

Details:

  • We flew out on Sunday, Aug 26 morning and returned on Thursday, Aug 30 evening.
  • We stayed on-property at New Orleans: French Quarter. This is where we stayed for our honeymoon.
  • We booked our trip during the “free dining plan” offer, so most of our meals were included.

Sunday – August 26

We landed around 9am after a pretty decent flight. Susan survived with basically no tears, so that makes it a great flight. We met the driver that would be taking us to the resort near the baggage claim and it was only moments before we were loaded in the van with our stuff. We dropped by the grocery store, as planned with the transportation company, and picked up our snacks, breakfast bits, and bottled water. We only bought one six pack for the 4 of us because Susan and I learned last year that you don’t really need it that much.

Upon arrival at the resort, our room was ready, but Amy & Garrett’s wasn’t. We all dropped off the luggage in our room, then headed straight for the Magic Kingdom.

When we hit MK, we were on a mission to eat lunch – it was just about noon and we’d worked through our wimpy little airport breakfasts. Susan’s parents, Ed & Sheila, were already at Pecos Bill’s restaurant all the way back in Frontierland. We took the most direct route we could decide on and started walking.

For lunch, Susan and I had:

  • Susan: Taco Salad, chocolate pudding, large drink
  • Ian: Cheeseburger and fries, chocolate pudding, large drink

We were both pleased with the main course, but the dessert just wasn’t too hot. We both decided the yogurt might have been a better idea.

From Pecos Bill’s, we all walked over and got on the train around the Magic Kingdom so we could start fresh from the front gates. I also had something in mind that required a trip to the front, so it worked out very well. Once our leisurely trip around 3/4 of the park was over, I stepped over to Town Hall and got us a pair of “Happy Anniversary” pins to wear during the week. We’d discovered only on the final night of our trip that Town Hall has a number of celebratory pins that are free to guests, so I wasn’t going to skip over that little detail this time around.

From Town Hall, we walked over to Adventureland and straight into the Enchanted Tiki Room. After the birds, we sought out Jack Sparrow in the Pirates ride. The queue for this ride is one of the best – its almost entirely indoors and quite well air conditioned. From Adventureland we moved to Cinderella’s castle.

We were all conspiring to kill time in the castle area because we had to be at a specific point at 2:30. It was somewhat difficult keeping Amy from getting upset or pushing us forward, but it worked itself out perfectly. We have to keep the details secret, but the end result was Amy and Garrett getting engaged. The whole secret operation was arranged by a wonderful organization called Gifts of a Lifetime. They did a cool storybook-centered surprise for Susan and I last year.

At this point it was late in the afternoon and Susan was getting pretty tired due to the heat. She decided to head out of the park and back to the resort. Ed and Sheila planned on visiting a few rides by themselves, but they too ended up leaving.

Amy, Garrett and I headed into Tomorrowland. Our first stop was the brand new Monster Inc Laugh Floor. We loved it – it was something to see more than once due to its awesome technology. It interacted with audience and was quite amusing.

We did a few more rides, but noticed some dark clouds looming over our fun. It was getting late enough in the afternoon that we needed to move to MGM so we could make our dinner reservations, but if it were to start raining, there wouldn’t be much reason to be in a park looking for a ride. With this in mind, I concocted a wild transportation option – a monorail from MK to the Transportation Center where we switch to a monorail that went to Epcot. From Epcot we’d walk back to the International Gateway near France and then take a boat to MGM. By the time we arrived in Epcot, the rain had slowed to a sprinkle, so it worked out pretty well.

We ate dinner as a group at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Here, the wait staff are your “aunt” or your “sister” and will give you a hard time for putting your elbows on the table or for not finishing your dinner. We ate:

  • Susan: Onion Rings; Pot Roast; Smores
  • Ian: Shrimp Cocktail; Fried Chicken; Angel Food Cake

We both enjoyed our meals – the fried chicken was done very well and I actually ate the “southern” greens that were with it. Normally I don’t like greens (and these really were collard greens!), but they were cooked in so much ham, that’s all I tasted! All of Susan’s food was fantastic, with her dessert being the best choice of the night. My shrimp was great, but I wasn’t impressed with the angel food cake.

From here we all headed back to the resort to get some much deserved sleep. We had rooms reasonably close to the front desk and all with views of the water. Nicely enough, Susan and I had a room on the first floor!

Monday, August 27

The idea for today was to hit the Typhoon Lagoon water park at the very opening of the extra magic hours – 8am. However, due to failed alarms, missing keys and slow buses, we didn’t make it but 10 minutes ahead of the normal opening.

Susan spent her day floating around the “lazy river” of the park, creating what we figure was an odd sensation for Olivia – floating inside her mom, who was in turn, floating. Garrett, Ed and I rode the body flume rides and one tube slide, then Garrett and I hit the rest of tube slides. Eventually we all met up at the giant wave pool this park is famous for. Amy was a brave soul (for herself) and stuck through a half dozen of the surf sized waves. After the waves drained our energy, the three of us took one last ride down the Crush N’ Gusher, the water roller coaster.

Oh – Susan bailed out of the water park earlier in the day after realizing she couldn’t do anything but float around the river. She used her snack credit for the day and had a bowl of cereal with milk while she relaxed in the room.

Once we’d all returned, showered, and changed clothes, we all headed to Epcot for our lunch. The walk to the World Showcase was pretty tough, what with the sun high overhead and the severe lack of shade in the park. Everyone but me ate at the Tangerine Cafe in Morocco, whereas I headed to the Yakatori House in Japan. We all loved our choices. We ate:

  • Susan:  Chicken Shawerma with yogurt/cucumber sauce, hummus, tabouli, pita bread, and baklava.
  • Ian: Kage-Age Udon; Ginger Cake; Large drink

At this point, everyone but Ed & Sheila took a very slow pace through the world, staying indoors as much as possible. We saw the American showcase show, complete with a few dozen audio-animatronics that Disney is famous for. We went through the Norwegian ride, Maelstrom, too.

We all ate separately this evening – Ed & Sheila ate at the Mexican pavilion, a choice Susan and I had made last year and enjoyed. Amy & Garrett got the coveted reservations at Le Cellier in Canada, a great steakhouse.  Susan & Ian went to England to eat in the Rose & Crown dining room. We ate:

  • Susan: 3 Cheese and fruit Plate; Fish & Chips
  • Ian: Chicken Satay; Pork Loin

We didn’t have any desserts tonight because Susan had overeaten and was extremely uncomfortable. While we had fantastic seats for the fireworks show, we headed out of the park to make sure she got the rest she needed. We did find out, though, that our little Olivia adores Irish Cheddar cheese. As soon as Susan would take a bite, Olivia would go on a wiggle-fest.

Another reason we didn’t stick around for the fireworks show was that our friends Ken & Val were waiting for us at the resort, hanging out with Amy & Garrett. Ken & Val had come to visit, partly because we were in town and partly because they had a car-load of baby gifts for Susan and I!

Susan’s brother, Matt, and his wife Richell, also arrived later this evening.  They were in Florida for the week to visit her grandparents.

Tuesday, August 28

Again we aimed to hit water park early in the morning, but we just barely missed the bus, causing us, again, to only get a few extra minutes in the water park ahead of normal opening hours. Additionally, Susan, Amy and Garrett didn’t come with us due to a lack of interest in the rides available here.

Matt and I headed straight to the centerpiece of the park – the 120 foot body flume slide that’s named Summit Plummet. We stood in line for almost 20 minutes before we got to take our 8 second, 50 mph plunge. The lines in the park, though, were pretty long all the way around, so we didn’t do many repeats of rides.

Around noon, we headed back to the resort and ate lunch there at the Floatworks. We ate:

  • Susan: Chicken Parmesan; Fruit cup; Large drink
  • Ian: Muffeletta; Beignets; Large drink

At this point, we split up to make sure Matt & Richell got to see the parks they preferred to visit: Sheila, Richell and Susan went to the Magic Kingdom, while the rest of us headed to Epcot.

In Epcot we visited Nemo and Crush’s Turtle Talk all together. We rode Segways in the Innovations area and then Ed & Matt headed to the World Showcase while Amy, Garrett and I stuck around Future World. We rode Mission: Space, which Garrett didn’t particular enjoy. Oddly enough, Amy did like the ride pretty well.

Susan, Sheila, and Richell spent most of the day in the Magic Kingdom hitting all the classics – It’s a Small World, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mickey’s Philharmagic, The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Light Year’s Space Ranger Spin, Carousel of Progress, and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.  Susan opted to hit the shops on Main Street while her Mom and Richell rode Pirates of the Caribbean.

Later in the evening we met up with Ed & Matt in the World Showcase, then we headed out of the park to go to dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a long bus ride, but we arrived about 10 minutes ahead of our reservation. Susan and other ladies had arrived well in advance, at which point they fell in love with the lodge.

Our dinner in Boma was fantastic and the perfect choice for whole family. This African buffet offered a ton of great food, filling us all to the brim. It would be something that we’d all recommend tremendously.

After dinner, we couldn’t ride a bus from one resort to another, so we took a bus to MGM which was staying open late for extra magic hours. Ed, Richell and Susan headed straight back to the resort, but had to wait a really long time to get onto a bus.

The rest of us headed into the park with the idea of watching the Fantasmic show. We, however, found out that a lot of other people had the very same idea. The line for the show was huge! From there, we decided we’d head to the rides. We went to the Little Mermaid “ride”, which is actually a live-action show. Hey – there wasn’t a wait! Then we decided we’d go to the Great Movie Ride… where we were turned away for not having our magic hour wrist bands.

One wrist band stop later, we jumped in line for the Great Movie Ride… which took close to 30 minutes… at which point we wished we hadn’t stood in line for the ride. At least we won’t do it again! From there, I decided to head home. Amy & Garrett went to the Muppets 3D ride while Matt & Sheila went for the big rides – Tower of Terror and Rock’N’Rollercoaster. While Amy got to go on her ride, Sheila didn’t – each had a 60+ minute ride.

I found, though, that the line for the bus stretched back two stations. Our stop was number 14, but the line started at the beginning of 12. Luckily, they were smart enough to start sending two buses at a time, so the wait wasn’t too unbearable.

We learned a lesson – extra magic hours aren’t a secret, especially in the evenings. We also learned that a lot of people like to stay in the Port Orleans resorts and that they need more buses for that resort.

Wednesday, August 29

Susan and I slept in this morning, as did Amy & Garrett. The rest of the crew, though, headed to Animal Kingdom near opening time so they could spot the animals on the safari. Eventually Amy & Garrett headed to the park, but Susan and I hung around the resort until closer to lunch time. We had decided that with the large size of the park and the high heat, it was a better idea for her to skip the park in general. We did, however, want to see the group for lunch, so that’s when we headed over.

We met up at the Flametree Restaurant and ate:

  • Susan: Smoked Turkey sandwich; Grapes; Chocolate Cake; Large Drink
  • Ian: Smoked Turkey sandwich; Coleslaw; Frozen Lemonade; Large Drink

We got a nice table next to the water and in the shade, so lunch was a pleasant experience. From the shady table, we headed to the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” ride that lives under the Tree of Life. During our wait in the queue, I snapped a lot of pictures of the “hidden” animals that were carved into the tree.

After the ride, Susan got pretty overheated and we all headed out of the park. After a short break, Amy, Garrett and I headed to Downtown Disney to visit DisneyQuest – a giant arcade. While we were there, Matt & Richell headed to the Magic Kingdom to take over Ed & Sheila’s dinner reservations at Tony’s Town Square.

Our experience at DisneyQuest wasn’t particularly amazing because there were a lot people and the lines were long, plus Amy & Garrett didn’t have a tremendous amount of time before they had to head over to Cirque De Soleil.

After their time was up, I took a boat back to our resort so I could pick up Susan for dinner. Our reservations were at the Concourse Steakhouse in the Contemporary resort. Again, you can’t take a bus from one resort to another, so we grabbed one to Epcot, where we transferred to a monorail. At the Transportation Center, we transferred to a resort bound monorail.

On the first train we met a family from New Jersey who were quite friendly and nice. We spoke about families, children, work, etc. On all the trains, everyone was quite nice about letting Susan take a seat and several asked about the baby. The train stops at almost all of the resorts along the line and, unfortunately, the Contemporary is the last resort before the Magic Kingdom… or the next to last stop from the Transportation Center!

We did, however, make it ahead of our reservation time yet again, so all was well. After a short wait, we were seated immediately under the monorail track. Dinner went reasonable well, but there was some sort of a problem that kept our main course from arriving for more than 30 minutes after our appetizers. 😦 We ate:

  • Susan: Onion Rings with 3 dipping sauces (fantastic!!); Pan-seared Salmon over arugula; Creme Brulee’
  • Ian: Romaine Hearts with Prosciutto; New York Strip Steak; Key Lime Pie

Overall it was a reasonable experience, but it wasn’t necessarily our favorite. Maybe it was the delay on the main course.

From the Contemporary, we headed to Downtown Disney. We had plans to go to the Adventurer’s Club – a recommended destination that we never made it to during our honeymoon trip. On this trip, though, we made it and loved it.

Upon our arrival in the club, Hathaway Brown, greeted us in the lobby. Amusingly enough, there were a couple of guys that came in just ahead of us that actually knew Hathaway and chatted with him about recent history.

I guess I should pause for a moment to explain the Adventurer’s Club – it is modeled after a 1950’s era explorer’s club and the club is doing a membership drive, hence allowing us an opportunity to come in. It is basically an improvisational comedy routine without a “stage” per se. More information can be found at the All Ears website or at Wikipedia.

So Hathaway, an aviator and ladies man, greeted us in the lobby. He told us about the songs he’d been singing for the radio show – “She’s the electrician’s daughter, but she couldn’t re-fuse me,” and other such titles. Hathaway stepped out of the room, but as he did, Emil Bleehall came in and spoke with Susan and I. He had won the Balderdash Cup that evening, so he was in a great mood. He told us about his tap-dancing pigeons and other such fun stuff.

We stopped in the mask room for a short session with Hathaway, then over to the Library for the cabaret with Samantha Sterling. Her show was quite amusing, giving her an opportunity to poke fun at a number of the guests. Susan was apparently hoping to get us into the show, as she chose seats that were almost immediately next to the stage.

Amusingly enough, as we all streamed out of the library, the rather rude treasurer, Otis T Wren, was singing Pomp & Circumstance and calling out random people in the line. For example, he shouted “the pregnant lady” as we walked by. Other things were, “the 4 foot woman,” and so on.

After the library show, Garrett and Susan decided they’d rather head back to the resort. This left Amy and I to be inducted into the Adventurer’s Club. At this point we learned the secret salute from Otis and the colonel lead us in the creed. After this we decided the crowd was sort of large and we were moving toward being sort of sleepy.

We walked to the bus stop to find a pretty unpleasant group in a ragtag line. Because Downtown Disney has a boat to take guests back to the Port Orleans resorts, the bus stop does not have a shelter or an established queue. This means that after the boats stop running (11pm), everyone in a resort has to ride a bus back. Without the established queue, its all on the honor system to stay in line… which isn’t so great a system at nearly midnight after most people have been in the heat all day long.

In addition to the lack of a queue, there were a distinct lack of buses showing up. Much like MGM, the buses just weren’t coming quick enough to keep up with the number of people queuing up. What’s worse is that this same situation was going on even an hour before we arrived – Sheila and her gang had the very same experience and it nearly exploded into violence within the line! I, of course, lodged a polite complaint with the front desk when we returned to the resort, at which point they informed me that A) I wasn’t the first and B) they are short of bus drivers.

We absolutely loved the Adventurer’s Club and will certainly return, but perhaps earlier in the evening so as to avoid the messy bus line if we’re staying in Port Orleans.

Matt & Richell left after they got back from Downtown Disney (Matt had a blast with DisneyQuest) and drove an hour back to Richell’s grandmother’s.

Thursday, August 30

For our last day in the World, we slept in yet again. I stuck around the room to be sure to see Ed & Sheila off – they drove down instead of flying with us. Amy and Garrett left mid-morning to go to Epcot so they could purchase some gifts, with plans to meet me in the Magic Kingdom.

I headed to MK around 10:30 or so, leaving our luggage up front as we’d be checking out around 1p and I didn’t want Susan to have to carry it from the room. In the Magic Kingdom I didn’t ride a single ride… I had planned on getting on Space Mountain or the Laugh Floor, but I just didn’t feel like standing in 30 minutes lines! Instead, I spent the day walking through the shops and soaking up the environment.

My only purchases, though, were a pin for Amy and Garrett to celebrate their engagement and a pair of mouse ears for Olivia, complete with her name embroidered on them.

We all met around 12:30 at Town Hall and made our plans for the rest of the day. Amy and Garrett had a few rides they wanted to hit before the day ended, plus they needed to eat. Susan and I decided to eat as well, so we purchased a bit of food and we strung together a few snack credits at Casey’s Corner to make a really decent meal:

  • Susan & Ian: Corndog Nuggets (each); Fries (each); one Drink.

After lunch, we re-met with Amy and Garrett. Because they’d used a table service credit (they split dinner in Canada) for a counter service meal, they got a voucher for a pin trading lanyard. Luckily, the place to redeem the voucher was just across the street from where Susan and I had eaten lunch. They got their lanyard with a free pin, then immediately became addicted to pin trading and purchased a handful more pins.

From here, Susan and I had an ice cream while Amy and Garrett went after their rides. Well, Susan had an ice cream and I had a tofutti, which I suppose is tofu “ice cream.” It was a decent snack for me.

Considering our great position on Main Street, Susan and I decided to stick around for the 3pm “Dreams Come True” parade, which I got on video. At the end of the parade, we all headed to the bus to return to the resort for the final time. When we arrived, we burned off our snack credits and sat in the food court coloring with crayons, much to the staff’s amusement.

At 5:15 our transportation arrived and we left the Disney World property, much to our disappointment. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare (my favorite way to arrive) and we took off around 8:50, 10 minutes late. Our flight took us over a number of thunderstorms, creating quite the light show. It was a smooth flight, though, and I managed to sleep through about half of it. Our arrival was not particularly noteworthy except to point out that Amy and Garrett decided to go straight back home instead of staying with us that night.

Epilogue

All in all it was a fantastic trip. We learned a few things:

  • Late August is pretty hot. Hot and pregnancy don’t mix well.
  • Late August is pretty busy. It may be because it was the very beginning of the free-dining promotion, though.
  • When staying in Port Orleans, the French Quarter (PO:FQ) is absolutely the place to be – Riverside gets the short end of the stick when it comes to buses.
    • All of the buses (except one – see below) start in the French Quarter, then go to Riverside. If it gets full early, they have to wait for the next one! 😦
  • One bus goes “backwards” to all the other buses for the Port Orleans resort – the bus to/from Typhoon Lagoon/Downtown Disney.

We also decided on a few things:

  • As much as we adore PO:FQ, we’re going to branch out for the next trip and stay someplace new.
  • The restaurants in the resorts are excellent – we need to visit them more. Boma was a fantastic pick and the Concourse Steakhouse made a great steak.
    • We’ve heard great things about the California Grill (at the top of the Contemporary) and the restaurants in the Wilderness Lodge.
  • We likely won’t bring Olivia until she is at least late 3 or even 4 years old.
    • It just doesn’t seem like it’d be very fun until then.
  • We need to request Wheeler’s Transportation when we contact Murray Hills next time – he was fantastic and apparently has an awesome custom Suburban.
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2 responses to “Disney – Aug 07

  • Sheila Craigge

    I’m so glad you bought the mouse ears for Olivia. That was the one thing I forgot about and I was hoping someone else would do it! Love

  • Matt Craigge

    My butt is still sore from that 120 foot plunge at Summit Plummet. Also, despite ownership of a full fledged MAME machine, Disney Quest was a blast…MUCH more fun when nobody else is there.

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