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ADP Live From Disney World!

#1 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 12:18 AM

Day 1 Dec 29th

Hi All,

Ok...I'll admit, this is my first live report, but I'll try to bring you the highlights and observations as I see them. If any of you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask and I'll do my best to answer them while I'm here.

We just arrived in Orlando today. We are staying off property this week and then moving over to Pop Century for a few nights next weekend. We are currently at Sheraton's Vistana Resort. The wireless Internet connection is not very good, but I'm hopeful to upload some photos during our stay.

We went to the Magic Kingdom late this afternoon and into the evening. Before going to the Magic Kingdom we checked out the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian and had dinner at Gasparella's Grill. We also each enjoyed a gingerbread cookie from the gingerbread house store for dessert. By the way I had a cheeseburger for dinner. I didn't think I would mind the new wheat buns too much until I picked up my cheeseburger and the wheat bun broke in half. The new buns are very fragile. If I do have another cheesburger during our stay I hope it is not a repeat performance or I might have to smuggle my own buns into Disney World. :lol:

Gingerbread House facts
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Holiday Cups
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The Magic Kingdom crowds were not as bad as I expected. wait times were moderate to heavy. Buzz had 30 minute waits around 9:00PM. We did fast passes for Buzz. Laugh Floor and Cindy's Carousel were walk-ons. We saw "Mickey's Twas The Night Before Christmas" and it was spectacular! We really enjoyed it. We also saw Holiday Wishes. Very good, but I still prefer Hallowishes.
Let me also say the CMs doing crowd control during Holiday Wishes did a great job of keeping traffic moving. Some folks decided to stop in the middle of pathways and CMs kept them moving despite guests disapproval.

Mickey's Twas the Night Before Christmas
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We did make it to the park in time to see the castle lighting ceremony. The show takes place on the castle forcourt stage at 5:45PM and lasts about 5 minutes. Watching the lights turn-on was terrific. I didn't expect it to move me as much as it did. It definately had a lot of "WOW" factor to it.

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Tomorrow we plan to tackle EPCOT. We have a 4:00PM ADR Candlelight Processional dinner package booked at San Angel Inn. Not my first pick, but my wife Kim wanted to go there. I actually wanted to go to Marrakesh, but Kim protested when she heard bellydancers may be involved. :) The CP narrator is Marlee Matlin. I've heard mixed reviews about her, but this will be my first CP so we are pretty excited.

I'm hoping I'll be able to ride Spaceship Earth. I'm holding jusgement until I get to ride it.

That's it for tonight. I'll have another update probably tomorrow night; hopefully with pictures.
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#2 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 10:50 AM

Thanks for the report Aaron! Hope you're having fun. Was this your first MVMCP?
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#3 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 12:30 AM

Actually, There was no MVMCP Dec 29th. The events I described on our first day were part of the MK daily events. We didn't have to pay for the hard-ticketed event.

Day 2 Dec 30th

We were scheduled to attend EPCOT today for our Candlelight Processional package. We had a 4:00PM ADR at San Angel Inn for the 6:15PM CP. This would be our first CP so we were pretty excited. Marlee Matlin was the narrator. More to come on this.

We decided in the morning to head to the MK for the holiday christmas parade. I'd never seen it except for bits and pieces on the ABC Christmas parade special. So we headed for the MK around 10:00AM, parked our car, entered the MK and staked out our parade spot ASAP near town square.

Crowds were heavier than yesterday, but still managable. We waited about 45 minutes in our spot for the parade to arrive and it did not disappoint. I loved the toy soldiers as I knew I would. They were the best part of the parade.

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After the parade we hopped the monorail to the TTC then transferred to the EPCOT monorail. It was a quick trip and we found ourselves in EPCOT at around 1:30PM. We passed SSE which was open, but had a 40 minute wait posted. We decided to pass in hopes to ride later. More to follow on this.

EPCOT was very busy. Soarin posted a 140 minute wait time :shock: ! A long wait for a 2 plus minute ride. Since the park was busy and fast passes appeared to be gone for the day we decided to take a stroll through Mousegear. We noticed some holiday merchandise mixed in with the new 2008 merchandise.

After Mousegear we walked across to Innoventions West were things were much quieter. Very few people were present. Me and Anna played with the robot exhibit which she loves.

It was 3:00PM so we decided to head over to Mexico for our 4:00PM ADR at San Angel Inn. Before our ADR we wanted to take a ride on the Grand Fiesta Tour. I decided to opt out while Anna and Kim rode the attraction. Their wait time was about 20 minutes. I walked around the shopps and waited for them to exit the attraction. We checked in with the hostess and were seated in about 10 minutes.

This is where things get a bit interesting. Everything was going ok, our waitress was attentive the food was decent, but decided I needed to go to the bathroom. While getting up and heading to the bathroom I was blind-sided by a waiter with a tray of dishes. I never saw him nor did he see me. Go figure, It's kind of dark in there isn't it? :roll: The worse part is the waiter's tray hits me square in the right eye....Ouch! :cantbelieve: My contact lens ends up somewhere in the upper part of my eye, the waiter apologizes checks out my reaction and moves along. I ended up ok, but I'll have to see what kind of damage I'm left with tomorrow morning. The Manager stopped by our table and apologized. She offered me some ice and a cold compress which I gladly accepted. I could not finish my food so I had it boxed up and took it with me. I also stopped at the first aid center near the Oddyssee and got an ice pack.

We headed over to the American Gardens Theater for the CP. The package line was not very long yet so we waited for about 20 minutes before being seated. The CP is very moving. Marlee Matlin did a great job; however, her interpreter was not so dramatic. He seemed to be reading from a card instead of watching Marlee sign. The orchestra was the best I've ever heard. They were wonderful. The choir(s) did a very nice job. I loved the lighting. By the way, while waiting in line for the CP I was able to look across the lake and see the tree lighting and Lights of Winter turn on at around 6:15PM.

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We walked around World Shocase and through the Lights of Winter as we decided to try and jump on Journey Into Your Imagination which was a walk-on. Kim and Anna went on Nemo since the wait time posted was 5 minutes. I decided to head over towards SSE. Kim and Anna would catch up with me and we went on SSE after about a 10 minute wait.

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My impressions of SSE are positive; however, just one or two concerns. Judy Dench does a fine job, but I wish she had more conviction in her voice during the narration. It just seems as if she is speaking and not emphasizing the narration. I did like the touch screen interaction, but honestly did miss the special effects on the decent. Everything else was just fine....Ok...Ok...Maybe turn the paperboy around. :lol:

After SSE we decided to call it a day. Tomorrow is NYE and it will be a long day and night. Getting our sleep tonight would be essential. Tomorrow is another EPCOT day/night. We have ADRs at the World Showplace pavillion between the UK and Canada. They are having a special NYE buffet with a band and dance floor. I'm also hoping to catch Holiday Illuminations since I missed it tonight. We also want to see the special NYE Illuminations before midnight.

I'll probably have another update New Year's Day morning. I'm attempting to upload photos now, but I can't promise photos until I know if it is possible. My wireless Internet connection is very low.

Until next time....Happy New Year! :)

Lights of Winter
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#4 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 12:36 PM

Day 3 Dec 31st.

We spent New Year's Eve at EPCOT. We arrived at the EPCOT parking lot at 10:00AM to a see of people waiting for a tram to the front of the park. I must say the transportation at EPCOT seemed poor to me. It appeared to me 3 trams were running from the parking lot to the front of the park while two were sitting idle and not being used. Some people were not getting picked up at all. The trams would pass up groves of guests to get to guests behind them. This did not sit well with people. I witnessed one man who walked into the tram lane to stop the tram so his family could board :shock: A very dangerous situation. Guests were yelling at the tram operators and security was called. Two security guards showed up on bicycles to calm guests.

As we entered the park it was apparent it would be extremely crowded which I presumed. Wait times posted for some attractions were 220 minutes. We decided to spend most of our time at Innoventions West which I thought would not be nearly as crowded. We did some of the interactive games and left after about an hour. We began our stroll through World Showcase. All of the Storytellers were no longer around, but the usual entertainment was in full force.

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As we approached Norway a CM waived to my Daughter who loves to hug CMs. Of course, this would be no exception. I noticed an EPCOT chef with this Cm so I struck up a conversation with her. Come to find out she was the Executive Chef at EPCOT. She oversees all of the restaurants within the park. I took a photo with her and discussed some of the finer dining points of EPCOT.

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We dined at the World Showplace pavillion. I have to say it was much nicer than I expected. The pavillion is very large and it was well decorated. The buffet was exceptional. They had a main buffet, a carving station, a pasta station, a kids buffet, and a dessert buffet. They also had a cash bar, and a bar where you could get your soft drinks refilled. A band played music near the dance floor and some folks were dancing the night away.

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At 7:15 I told Kim and Anna I wanted to see Holiday Illuminations. I'd never seen the Holiday tag before with Walter Cronkite. I stepped outside of the pavillion and headed for the steps of Canada to see the show. This is not the best spot to watch Illuminations, but it wasn't extremely crowded and you are elevated so you can see the lagoon pretty well. The amount of shells shot off during the holiday tag are numerous. Walter Cronkite does a great job expressing the spirit of the holidays. It was very moving!

I walked back into the World Showplace pavillion had dessert and coffee and we left to see if we could do a few attractions. By the way EPCOT was handing out New Year's hats and horns. The horns were everywhere and very loud! :cantbelieve: We were able to jump onto Journey into your Imagination and then headed over to SSE. The wait was 40 minutes and it was more like 25.

Hats and horns handed out for New Year's Eve
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The countdown to midnight timer was displayed by laser light image on the EPCOT ball. This was a very cool element of the New Year's Eve celebration.

The Illuminations New Year's EVe fireworks were very well done. Regular Illuminations was done and then a New Year's Eve tag was performed. Each country had their own 30 second firework display over their pavillion one at a time in order of when their country hit midnight. Then there was a grand finale over the globe in the middle of the lagoon. The number of shells bursting was more than I ever saw before. My whole body was shaking from the shells bursting in the air.

We decided to wait to leave and the lines getting back out to the parking lot where thick. We did not get back to our villa until 2:30AM.

We are just about to leave for the Studios. We have a 6:15PM ADR at Mama Melrose and will be viewing the Osborne Lights this evening. By the way, my eye has turned out ok. No bruise, just a scratch and some swelling; nothing major.

I'll try and get more photos uploaded, but as I said my wireless connection at Vistana is poor. I don't know why, but it is very slow. I'm hopeful I'll have more luck at Pop Century.

Until later...Happy New Year everyone!!!!
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#5 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:10 PM

Day 4 Jan 1st

We just got back from The Studios.

The park was crowded today. We arrived around 1:30PM The nice lady at the Stoller and Wheelchair rental said they were down to only a few single strollers and all of the wheelchairs were gone.

We walked down Hollywood Blvd and I decided I needed a cup of coffee because I was still feeling the affects of New Year's Eve. I walked into Starring Rolls Cafe where to my surprise the line was very short. I got one cup of coffee and a huge sugar cookie which Anna and I split.

As we walked out of Starring rolls another surprise was awaiting. Francis Floot was performing on Sunset Blvd. We watched his performance which was very funny. Quite a crowd had formed to watch the show.

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I thought about walking down to RnR and ToT, but the crowd at the end of Sunset Blvd looked menacing. I decided to forgo fastpasses. We went towards Hollywood Blvd and decided to get fastpasses for Star Tours. Our fastpass time was 3:30 to 4:30. In the meantime it was on to Muppets 3-D. The line was long. The queue went along the front, then to the side of the building all the way along the wall. This was by far the longest Muppets line I'd ever seen. We waited and walked about 25 minutes before getting into the preshow area.

After Muppets I called my parents to wish them a happy New Year. Anna and Kim went to get Remy and Mr Incredibles autograph in the Animation Courtyard. After I hung up with my parents I walked over to Mickey Ave and checked out the construction of Toy Story Mania. It didn't look much different from some of the latest photos I've seen, but I did hear some saws and hammering going on inside the building. I took a few photos and will post them when possible.

Along the lines of posting photos I need to apologize. I wish I could post some of the photos I have, but the connectivity here at Vistana is so slow and inconsistant I can't upload hardly anything. I was able to upload the few I posted, but that has been it. I'm hopeful when we move over to Pop Century I'll be able to upload and post the photos.

After the autographs and TSM we headed for Star Tours. The standby time posted was 30 minutes. Our fastpasses got us on without any wait. After the ride we stopped in Tatooine Traders (what choice did we have :cantbelieve: ). I ended up buying Anna a stuffed Jedi mickey. By the way, there were several R2D2 mini robots for sale. They are $85. One of the CMs was showing guests how it worked. It is voice activated and looked very cool.

AFter Star Tours we headed for Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground. We let Anna play for a little while before heading to the Streets of America for the lightening of the Osborne Lights. We found a spot right in front of the large switch. AT 6:00PM the lights were turned on. This exhibit in my opinion is the best holiday tradition at Walt Disney World. It is unbelievable what they do with these lights. When they say spectacle they are right!

After we walked around the streets of America it was time for our ADR at Mama Melrose. I thought earlier today it was at 6:15, but I realized after looking it was 6:50PM. Good thing I looked.

It's been a while since we dined at Mama Melrose. I must say the meal we had there tonight was among the best I remember ever having at WDW. Everything was great from our waiter, the food, the atmosphere. We had a great table. I took a photo of one of the pictures in the restaurant of a famous actor with Mickey Mouse. I'll post it in a few days and let you guys try and guess who it is. I had know idea until Kim told me who it was.

After dinner we realized the park would be closing in about 10 or 15 minutes. Park closing was 8:00PM. We realized the entrance to Muppets was on the way so we stopped. Fortunately we were able to make it in for the last performance of the night. We enjoyed Muppets and decided to head for the exits. I wanted to head over to Sid's while Kim and Anna dropped the stoller off. I took a photo of the 5 question chalk board. I'll post it when I can so you will have an opportunity to answer the questions.

So that was our day at the Studios. I'll be going back later this week with Anna. Kim is leaving for home tomorrow. Anna and I will be together for the rest of the week until Monday.

After we drop Kim off Anna and I are headed to the MK. I think we might get there before the park opens since Kim has a an early flight. Anna and I have a dinner ADR at 1900 Park Fare tomorrow night. I wanted to check out the updated 1900 Park Fare. I know they have modified their character lineup.

I forgot to mention earlier the dream fastpass badges and dream hats I saw today are different than the ones previously handed out by the Dream Squad in 2007. The new FP badges have a darker blue tint to them and the dream hats are a much darker blue with the same white clouds and a "Year of a Million Dreams" logo on the front of them.

I believe most of, if not all of the resort decorations will be gone tomorrow.

I'll have another update tomorrow night.
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#6 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 09:16 AM

Great report Aaron. Ill have to check out that R2D2...it sounds pretty cool :cantbelieve:
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Posted 02 January 2008 - 08:56 PM

Somehow I'm sure this all R2's fault! :D

Great reports. Thanks!
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#8 User is offline   The Dark Lord of the Sith 

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 10:06 PM

I could use a new R2 unit..... :twisted:
.....
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#9 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 11:17 PM

Day 5 Jan 2nd

Today we said goodbye to Kim as she headed back to Indy. Anna and I headed off to the Magic Kingdom after we dropped off Kim at the main building. She took a Mears shuttle to the airport. Mears showed up right on time. Kim said they were very efficient and did a great job. Total trip price was $19.

One note about today, it was very cold in terms of Florida weather. The high today was only 49 degrees and there was a wind chill. Some news stations were reporting wind chills in the 30s. We had several layers on today as we headed to the park. I'd rather have this weather than 90 degrees with a heat index of 100. :wink:

Anna and I got to the Magic Kingdom just in time to watch the opening ceremony at the train station. We decided to head to Fantasy Land as we figured we could walk on most attractions. It turns out we were right. We walked on Pooh, Snow White, and Peter Pan. After those 3 attractions crowds had built to the point where waits for major attractions had began to accumulate. We made our way around the Magic Kingdom and hit the attractions we wanted to experience.

We decided to head over to the Contemporary. Anna wanted to play some arcade games and I figured I could check out the construction at the new Conemporary Villas, the new gift shop, and the renovated 1st floor lobby area. The contemporary arcarde on the 4th floor is about half the size it used to be on the 1st floor. The redesigned lobby is nice and much improved from its previous design.

After we left the Contemporary we hopped on the monorail to the Polynesian. I love the Poly. I wanted to do a little shopping in the gift shops and hopefully see some of the decorations. Most of the decorations were gone.

We had a 6:05 ADR at 1900 Park Fare so we hopped back on the monorail to the Grand Floridian. As we approached the podium to check-in there was a line and the restaurant appeared busy since one family was complaining about their wait and other families were standing around with pagers. We received a pager and waited about 20 minutes before we were seated. The character lineup has changed at 1900. Cindy and Prince Charming are still there; however Gisella (Step Sister), Anastasia, and Lady Trumane are now part of the character meal. The restaurant has just finished a refurbishment and looks very nice. The food is very good; however, I did not see any Strawberry Soup... :D . I hope they didn't remove it perminantly. Specialty dishes like the strawberry soup at 1900 are part of what makes each restaurant special.

By the way holiday dining prices are still in affect. The adult price was $33.99 and the child price was $16.99. I didn't mind paying the adult price; however, $16.99 for a child's buffet seems outrageous holiday or not. I was able to use our DDE card and saved 20%. Also, the 18% gratuity was added automatically as part of using the DDE card which officially started today.

I should also mention I purchased a new DDE card our first night at the MK guest relations. The CM behind the counter took me to a seperate counter where she printed my new card and charged my credit card $65. She also checked my annual pass to make sure it was valid and copied my name over to the DDE. The DDE card is no longer a plastic card. It is very similar and feels like the annual pass tickets. The picture of the card is the same as what used to be on the plastic card. My new DDE card does not expire until Jan 31st 2009.

After our dinner at 1900 Park Fare we stopped at the General Store here at Vistana to pick up some breakfast food and called it a night.

On schedule for tomorrow is a trip to Downtown Disney. I like to buy most of our souveniers there since we can save the 10% at World of Disney. Call me cheap, but I figure I might as well take advantage of the annual pass. I've been able to use it as well for our theme park parking since we are staying offsite this week.

Another report coming tomorrow night.
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#10 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:59 AM

So your wife went home early? Why?
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Posted 03 January 2008 - 06:05 PM

1900 Park Fare = Buffet + Cinderella characters

Is it very difficult to get dining reservations there, because it looks like a refreshing alternative to the castle, and hey, Cindy Villains are there too. If their YouTube videos are true, Anastasia and Drizella are hilarious. :mrgreen:
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#12 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:21 PM

My wife is a real estate accountant and the beginning of the year is very busy for her. She had to go home and get back to work. I on the other hand try and take every bit of opportunity to tour the parks and enjoy all that Disney World has to offer. Of course, I could only pull this off by offering to keep Anna with me the rest of the time I was here. :D

Day 6 Jan 3rd

Today was another cold day very similar to yesterday. Highs in the 50s with a wind chill in the 40s.

I had planned to make today a relaxing day. After we left our villa around 10:00AM we headed for Downtown Disney. Our first stop was the World of Disney. I wanted to purchase a few items for Anna which she could use at school and throughout 2008. I purchased her a pair of Crocs, some clothes, and a large pink, fuzzy purse she can use to pack clothes. Kind of like an overnight bag. I had everything shipped back to our home in Indiana. Total cost of shipping was $25, but I saved $12 in tax so it really only cost me $13 to ship. I also saved 10% with my AP discount ($19.50). World of Disney was very crowded even at 10:30 in the morning. I thought I was back at one of the theme parks as much as we were dodging other guests.

As we exited World of Disney I noticed some Dream Team members walking around the Marketplace area. They where wearing their uniforms and carrying around their prize bags. I chose not to see where they were going, but it was the first time I'd seen them at Downtown Disney. I'd heard stories of guests who sat on certain benches at the right time who won prizes at Downtown Disney.

Our next stop was the hair wrap station. Anna wanted to get her hair wrapped so I took her to the first station I saw. The man who wrapped Anna's hair said he was having a difficult time because his hands were cold and the wind was swirling... :ermm: but he managed to do a pretty good job.

Next it was onto Goofy's Candy Company. I had a peanut butter sandwich and Anna had a vanilla Oreo cookie. We sat outside and shared them together. They were both very good!

Our next two stops were at the Days of Christmas and The Art of Disney. I'm seriously thinking about purchasing the Disney Christmas Village collection. It includes the Magic Kingdom fire stations, emporium, city hall, confectionary, Cindy's castle, and the haunted mansion. They all light up as well. I think it would be very cool to put them up at home during the holidays. It is an expensive collection and I'm not sure I can swing it.

We left Downtown Disney around 2:00PM and I left a little lighter in my wallet... :D

As we left I decided the last second to go to Fantasia Gardens for a round of mini golf. I knew the courses were more difficult than Winter-Summerland, but had not played there in a while. Fantasia Gardens has two courses; the fairways which is extremely long and difficult, and the Fantasia course which is difficult, but no where near the fairways difficulty. The total cost to play for Anna and I would have been $20, but both Disney mini golf courses offer a 50% AP discount so it only cost us $10. I'm not going to embarras myself by posting my score, I'll just say we were able to finish the round. :D

Our next trip was to the Boardwalk. I wanted to have dinner at ESPN Club. It is one of my favorite restaurants on property. Before dinner we stopped in the Screen Door gift shop to browse. Then it was onto dinner at ESPN. I had an Angus bacon cheeseburger which was way better than any other cheeseburger I've had on Disney property before. The fries that came with it reminded me of the french fries they used to serve at Casey's. The entertainment was the restaurant talk show with two announcers who interacted with the audience about various sports topicss. The topic of the day was the Patriots 16 - 0 perfect season. Of course I had to put in my two cents. I told the audience the Pats should have had to forfit their week one win against the Jets where Belichek and the Pats cheated. Some folks agreed and others disagreed. I used our DDE card and saved 20%. What was funny is the automatic 18% gratuity for using the DDE was not added. Instead there was a suggested tip calculated on the bill. There was an 18% recommended tip calculated and a 20% recommended tip calculated. I could leave whatever tip I wanted. Only these recommendations were given. This was different than what I experienced last night at 1900 Park Fare. We left ESPN around 6:30.

I was feeling pretty good so I told Anna let's hop the boat to EPCOT and get in a couple of attractions. I figured the crowds would be light and wait times would not be so bad. Our first stop was at Journey into your Imagination which had just closed for the evening. 7:00PM was the closing time for the pavillion. We decided to head over to Nemo & Friends. Then it was onto Spaceship Earth. The wait time was 10 minutes. The last 2 times we rode SSE our face images where put on the interactive piece at the end of the attraction; however, this time the imagery was not working and generic faces were used. As we exited SSE Anna and I decided to play a game of Power City. This game is really cool. You move power pucks around a screen displayed on the floor to various points in a city to keep it powered up. At the end of the game your score is displayed and you see what size city you've powered up.

Here is a game we played a few days prior.

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EPCOT was not very crowded at all tonight. I've noticed a considerable drop off in crowd levels between yesterday and today.

We left Project Tomorrow and decided to call it an evening. We walked through the International Gateway and hopped the boat back to the Boardwalk where we had valet parked our car. Free Valet parking with DDE or DVC card. I had to tip the valet dropping off and picking up, but well worth it in my opinion.

Tomorrow we have a character breakfast planned at the newly refurbished Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom. It is an early reservation at 8:05AM. We'll be spending the day their tomorrow. The weather forcast is for the high temp to be in the mid 60s which sounds very comfortable to me.

The schedule for the rest of the week will include a trip to the Studios on Saturday and back to the MK on Sunday. Monday we head back to Indy. If anyone wishes to meet let me know. Send me a PM or reply to this post.
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#13 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:43 AM

Flying back on Monday? Bah! I'm going to the Studios on Monday
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#14 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 11:17 PM

QuickGold said:

Flying back on Monday? Bah! I'm going to the Studios on Monday


I really wanted to be at the Studios on Monday for the festivities, but so goes life. I need to get back work and back to reality.

Day 7 Jan 4th

We had an early awakening today. It was our day at the Animal Kingdom and first up was an 8:05 ADR at the newly refurbished Tusker House character breakfast.

We arrived at the AK gates at 7:45 only to be told we could not enter the park until 8:00AM. We had 5 minutes once the park opened to rush back to Africa and check-in at the Tusker House.

We did get checked in and waited 5 minutes before we were called to be seated. I really like the layout of this buffet. The room the buffet is in is very large and open. There are about 5 different stations to choose from including breads, hot foods, kids area, cold foods, and a carving station with ham. Characters included Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy. The food was very good, character interaction was good. I used the DDE card and the 18% gratuity was automatically added to the bill this time.

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We left Tusker House and headed straight for Kilamanjaro Safari. Our wait was about 5 minutes since it was still very early. We then headed to Dinoland and did Triceratops Spin and Primevil Whirl. We also stopped at the Bonyard. Anna played with some newly made friends while I sat and relaxed.

The park seemed somewhat busy today. I saw afternoon wait times at EE as high as 60 minutes. For Jan 4th that seemed high to me. I believe some schools are still on Winter Break in Central Florida and that has added to the crowd levels.

The temperature seemed to be warming up and I mentioned to Anna we should ride Kali. She agreed so off we went to Asia. When we arrived we discovered there was no wait. Anna had never been on Kali and she really liked it. I feel it is a short ride, but the theming is well done. We did have fun and I got somewhat wet, so we decided to do it again. This time we had a full raft. One man kept saying how he was forced to ride against his own will. I figured he would be the one getting soaked since the people who get wet on a raft seem totally random. As fait would have it he got soaked. His seat was the seat that went backward down the giant hill. :) Needless to say he was ticked, but others found it funny; including me! :D

As we exited the attraction Anna discovered the green buttons over the bridge that control the pink elephants which spray water at riders. She found it extremely entertaining. In fact, we ended up spending nearly 45 minutes while she pushed the green buttons and watched others push the buttons as well. I guess inflicting misery on people in the raft was entertaining. :twisted:

We took a quick tour throught the Maharaja Jungle Trek. We got a great, close-up view of a tiger in it's habitat. The tiger was very close to our viewing window. It was as close as I'd ever been to a tiger and it was as close as I ever want to get. :wink:

As we left Maharaja we headed for Camp Minnie Mickey. The 2:00PM Lion King show was on tap. I consider this show the best show WDW offers to its guests on a daily basis. It's high energy is contagious and you really get swept up in the enthusiasm. We love the Tumble Monkies segment.

Next we experienced It's Tough to be a Bug. We walked right into the theater with very little wait; however the the theater was completely full. I know some don't care too much for this show, but I love the Imagineering at this attraction. To think they put a show about bugs inside the Tree of Life is amazing. Everytime I go into this attraction I feel like I've been reduced in size and have entered a bugs world.

Earlier in the day we had picked up fast passes for Everest. We had a 3:45PM return time and it was getting close. We stopped for some ice cream along the way and by the time we reached Everest it was our fastpass time. We rode EE and surprisingly all of the affects were working properly. The last few times I've ridden EE a couple affects were not working properly.

We stopped back into Dinoland because I had promised Anna we would play a couple carnival games. I dislike the carnival games. I mean, really, what are they doing there? The worse part is if you do win a large stuffed animal how do they expect you to get it home? In the past I'd always ship it back home from my resort. Luckily, we did not win anything.

I asked Anna if she wanted to see Finding Nemo and the answer was no. Unbelievably she said she wanted to ride Dinosaur which I was not expecting at all. We walked over to Dinosaur to find a 40 minute wait. We opted for fastpasses. Our return time was 5:55. We ended up sitting on a bench near Dinosaur while I called Disney Dining to make an ADR for Rainforest Cafe. I was fortunate enough to get a 6:15PM ADR. I told Anna Dinosaur would probably not work. Another surprise, she asked if we could go to Kali so she could push the green buttons. :surprised: Ok...So we went. She was entertained for about 30 minutes before I called it quits. It was almost time for our ADR and we needed to head over to Rainforest Cafe. We gave our Dinosaur fastpasses to a parent of two kids who would use them.

We entered the Rainforest Cafe at the alternative entrance/exit inside the park. This entrance/exit runs you through the Rainforest gift shop, but its much easier since no one else seems to use it. We checked in and were seated within 5 minutes. The food we ordered was very tasty; however, our server was extremely slow. Our meal took over 90 minutes. The Rainforest Cafe does not accept the DDE, but they did accept our AP which saved us 10%.

AFter Rainforest, we decided to call it a day and head back to Vistana. We had spent just over 12 hours at Animal Kingdom. It had been a long day and the toll of a long trip was starting to show. I figured a good night's sleep would be just what the doctor ordered.

Tomorrow we check out of Vistana Resort and check into Pop Century. Also on tap tomorrow is a trip to the Studios. I'm also hopeful to take the boat over to the Boardwalk and watch the NFL playoffs in the evening at ESPN Club (Jaguars @ Steelers). That's if I can get in; of course. ESPN becomes the most popular dining destination at WDW during NFL football, or any other major sporting event.

Another report coming tomorrow night.
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#15 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 12:33 PM

We are at Pop Century now and I finally have decent high speed Internet. I've uploaded a few more photos.

Who is the man in this photo? This is the photo I took at Mama Melrose.

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This may have been posted before, but here is the questions board at Sid's. Can you answer them?

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Also, here are some recent Toy Story Mania photos.

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#16 User is offline   COH#1fan 

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 02:49 PM

I know the trivia answers!

[hide_me]1> Queen of Hearts
2> A Christmas Story
3> Tom Hanks
4> The Blues Brothers
5> William Shatner[/hide_me]
"In an age of fads, copycats, and rapidly changing trends, you have chosen to stand out from the rest and be an individual. We applaud your courage and self-expression. Thanks for being a part of our show today. Don't ever change. The world needs more people with your spirit." - The Citizens of Hollywood
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#17 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 07:00 PM

Day 8 Jan 5th

We just returned from the Studios. We had a surprise earlier before daparting to the Studios. After my last post we recieved a knock on the door. A very official looking CM said we were the Pop Century family of the day. I was like..."Wow"! How cool! She presented us with a certificate and said they would be back with something sweet later. The best part was they were picking up the cost of the room for both nights....Wow! :shock: Talk about pixie dust!

Here is our certificate.

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We decided to take the bus to the Studios today. I'd been driving quite a bit this week I thought I'd let someone else do the driving. When we got to the bus stop we were surprised by the signage. It looks like some of the conversion to Hollywood Studios in underway.

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We arrived to the Studios and entered through the gate. Francis Floot was coming out so we decided to watch. He was in rare form today. Very funny! He had the crowd laughing.

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Our next stop was the Great Movie Ride. The wait time posted was 20 minutes. We then walked over to Star Tours. I wanted to get fastpases. The standby time was posted as 30 minutes. Our next stop was Honey I shrunk the Audience playground. I relaxed while Anna played for about 45 minutes. We then moved onto Muppets 3-D. We sat in the front row and I think the seats in the front row of Muppets are just as good if not better than the ones in the middle or in the back of the theater.

It was now time for our fastpass at Star Tours. Again we were in the front row. We really enjoyed the ride. On our way out I snapped a photo of the R2 dolls with Anna pointing the way.

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On our way out of Tatooine Traders I asked Anna if she would like to watch Jedi Training. We decided to stay for the 4:30 show. Anna was selected for the show. Here are a couple of photos.

Anna is in the pink shirt in the background.
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After the show it began to rain. We walked over to the Tune In Lounge which as you could imagine was packed. Others were taking cover as well. The rain had turned into a light mist so we decided to leave the park and head back to Pop Century. On our way out I took a photo of Hollywood Blvd.

As you can see the park was busy today.

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We hopped back on the bus and headed back to Pop Century. When we arrived back to our room we discovered our beds turned down with Mickey chocolates on our bed. We also got a nice voice mail from the Pop Century Manager congratulating us for being the family of the day. I have to say Disney really made us feel special.

It's still a little early so we are going to head for Classic Hall and get some dinner at Everything Pop food court. We were going to head to the Boardwalk tonight, but I thought it would be crowded at ESPN because of the NFL playoffs. I'm hopeful they will have a TV with the game on at the pool bar.

Tomorrow we are headed for the Magic Kingdom. We have no ADRs planned. We'll try and get a few attractions in that we were not able to last week. I'm also hopeful to get a Dole Whip. It's been pretty cold the last 4 days and Dole Whips were not a possibility.
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#18 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 07:47 PM

Great report Aaron! I love the photos. I'm looking forward to seeing the new signage and stuff around. How much is R2D2? I need one of those for....something :)
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Posted 05 January 2008 - 10:38 PM

QuickGold said:

Great report Aaron! I love the photos. I'm looking forward to seeing the new signage and stuff around. How much is R2D2? I need one of those for....something :)


R2 is $85. The demonstration I saw by the CM last Tuesday looked to me like it was worth the money. It is interactive and does certain moves and makes noises based on your commands.

We just got back from Classic Hall. We had dinner at Everything Pop food court, played some arcade games at Fast Forward arcade, and then hung out around the pool bar while I watched the Steelers versus Jags game.

The resort seems busy. There were a lot of people around the pool area and in Classic Hall tonight. I also saw several people waiting at the bus stops on our way back to the room. This is a very large resort with many rooms. This is my second stay here and I've grown to like it. If you are just looking for a bed and bath this is your place. There are some resort amenities, but I wouldn't choose this resort just for it's amenities.

I had a discussion with a nice lady at the bar tonight about the crowds. I've been coming to WDW for 15 years now and the crowds have seemed to grow each year (except post 9/11). The resorts, restaurants, and parks are filling up at a good pace.. Wait times at attractions seem to be growing. I know there are slower times, but they are becoming fewer. It just seems to me a 5th theme park, or another large entertainment venue would really help bring in additional tourists and local guests and decrease attraction wait times. WDW is primed for growth and the fact Bob Iger said "no new theme parks in the forseeable future" concerns me as a fan, frequent guest, and investor. I'm hearing guests and non-guests say they are not going to Disney because they hate crowds, or the lines are terrible. If people are staying away because of crowd levels that is lost profit and lost opportunity by Disney. I've been having these thoughts during this trip because of the crowd levels I've witnessed. I thought I would throw these thoughts out there...Just my two cents I guess.

I'll have another report tomorrow. Thanks for following along. :D
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#20 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 06:46 PM

I agree about the crowds. I started targeting the slow times of the year since about 2003 or so and had trips during times like the first weekend in February, mid-May and September and every year I've noticed crowds getting larger and larger. I think the parks are okay for the next few years but the resorts are where I see the greatest need; they sell out much more quicker than they used to.
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