ADP - Live From Disney World
Posted 13 July 2008 - 05:04 PM
The Cast -
Me - Aaron - ADP
Kim - My Wife
Anna - Our Daughter 8
I'm back for another live report from Disney World. I hope you can read along as I try and bring you what is happening at Walt Disney World and our adventures as they happen day by day.
This trip report starts with a little twist. We are breaking tradition by visiting my in-laws in Northeast Ohio. Normally, we would have a countdown calendar and finish our packing today, but since we are in Ohio at a family reunion, well, tradition will have to take a back seat for now.
Also, we would normally fly out of the Indianapolis airport, but because of our visiit in Ohio we will be departing from the Akron/Canton airport instead of driving all the way back to Indianapolis and flying out from there. You know, gas is $4.00 a gallon... :shock: so flying out of Akron/Canton instead of Indy will save us gas money. Airtran has non-stop flights out of Akron/Canton too, an absolute bonus! . I was able to rent a car from Indy and will drop it off at the Akron/Canton airport. We got a great rate on the one-way rental from Indy to NE Ohio, or we might have scrapped our plans of flying out of Akron/Canton.
We've packed a small suitcase for our trip to Ohio and a larger suitcase for our trip to Orlando. So our packing is complete and we are ready to go.
We leave for Orlando tomorrow morning. Our flight departs at Noon. Our anticipation is building. Today at the family reunion Anna was busy surfing the DIS looking for ways to beat the heat in Orlando.
We will be moving from resort to resort; which I prefer; however DW (Kim) isn't a huge fan of it, but will do it for me. We will be spending our first 4 nights on DVC points at the Wilderness Lodge Villas in a 1 bedroom villa, then 3 nights at the Polynesian in a garden view room, and finially one night at Old Key West in a 1 bedroom villa. I had some DVC points I needed to use or they would have expired and OKW fit the bill just right.
Some of the events I'm looking forward to on this trip will be:
- Staying at the Polynesian
- Eating at Trails End for the first time
- Riding Toy Story Midway Mania and checking out Pixar Place for the first time
- Dining at The Wave for Breakfast
- Having ice cream at Beaches N Cream
- Welcome Home Wednesday's DVC event
Some of the things I'm not looking forward to on this trip:
- The heat
- Larger than usual crowds
Our plan is to take afternoon breaks between 1:00 and 5:00PM on most days to avoid the peak of heat and crowds. We will be going to one park in the morning and then a different park in the evening. During our afternoon breaks we will be either dining, swimming, sleeping, or just relaxing back at the resort. Since we are staying at some nice resorts we want a chance to enjoy them and the amenities they offer.
Our transportation plan is to use Magical Express and Disney transportation during our visit. I will give you a current view of how our transporation experiences are at the parks and resorts. I'm hopeful it will work out, but I understand it can be a "hit or miss" experience.
Oh! Before I forget to mention it. As per my last live trip report I am no longer on a diet during this 8 day trip. When I get on the plane the diet, or my life changing food attitude is no longer in effect. :laughing: I've been able to maintain my weight since April; in fact, even a few pounds lighter. I will get back to the routine when we returne on July 22nd.
So, we are off. Anna (DD 8) is standing right next to me. Earlier, she was so excited to leave she was doing cartwheels in the front of the in-laws house.
And just so you know who I am here's a picture of me last April at EPCOT (sorry, it's a bit fuzzy). I'm usually taking the pictures so its not often I get one of myself.
I hope you enjoy this trip report as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. I've found the next best thing to going to Disney World is reading a live trip report. They really are fun to read and write, and provide a history and journal of our events. They are fun to revisit and remember what we did during our visit. It's cool hearing and seeing what happened at WDW up to the hour on the specific day.
I'll provide another report tomorrow night for sure, maybe sooner.
Arriving in Orlando
Magical Express to the Wilderness Lodge Villas
Dining at Rain Forest Cafe (AK) with Family
Animal Kingdom Evening EMH
Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:17 AM
We'll be at the Rain Forest Cafe at 6:30PM tonight with my brother and his family who are leaving WDW tomorrow. They picked the restaurant; certainly not my first choice. Our trips overlapped by one day so we decided to dine together tonight. Afterwards we will use the "secret" entrance in the back of the Rain Forest Cafe to the Animal Kingdom. We may have some time before our ADR to enter the park and experience a few attractions. It will depend on our travel time to the Lodge.
We'll be back online later with an update and some pics.
In the meantime here is a pic of the terminal at the Akron/Canton airport. Pretty boring I know, but its up to the minute.
And a shot of Anna waiting patiently for our flight time.
Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:16 PM
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!
May 21-28, 2013
Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:17 PM
We are here at the Wilderness Lodge Villas. We are running out to AK to get to the Rain Forest Cafe. I will give you a full report of our ME experience, check-in, etc tonight or first thing tomorrow.
Here are some quick pictures of our arrival.
Orlando airport. We are here! Hey you guys! Wait for me!
Walking into the Wilderness Lodge. Nothing like it. Jaw dropping!
DVC Logo walking into the Widerness Lodge Villas.
Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:30 AM
We are back from our evening at the Animal Kingdom. We had a nice time. We arrived at around 5:45PM and instead of heading into the park we met our Sister-in-Law at the front and talked to her about their week at Disney World. We then headed into the Rain Forest Cafe for our 6:30 ADR. My Sister-in-Law decided she had enough and went back to their resort. My brother, Niece, and friend joined us for dinner. More about our Rain Forest Cafe experience a little later.
I wanted to let you know about our Magical Express experience today. It went pretty smoothly, but there were some waits we could have done without. When we arrived at the Magical Express check-in desk we were greeted to a pretty long line. We ended up waiting about 20 minutes.
Here is a picture of a segment of the line.
After checking in at the desk we stepped over to the red carpet where we only waited about 5 minutes for our ME bus to arrive. Once we boarded it took about 20 minutes for the bus to finally pull away. I didn't think we would ever leave. I guess they were waiting for more guests to board as there were only 6 of us on the bus.
I was happy to see our driver went a bit faster than our last ME experience back in April. He was going just over 70 MPH on the 417 or Greenway. I was in the front and could see the speedometer. We got to the Wilderness lodge in a timely fashion. By the way, the order in which the bus dropped off at the resorts was the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and the Contemporary. We were the 3rd stop.
Another note, the folks working at Magical Express are allowed to accept Tips.
I noticed this sign on our way to the Wilderness Lodge in the front of the bus.
All-in-all ME did the job. There were just a few annoying waits. Otherwise it worked well. Our bags were waiting for us in our room when we returned tonight from the AK.
Our arrival at the Wilderness Lodge was very nice. No wait at the check-in desk. We walked right up and were greeted by a smile. After a nice conversation with Sofia she checked us in and assigned us our room. A 1 bedroom villa room 4544.
The room was very clean and nothing wrong with it at all. We even had some towel animals waiting for us when we arrived.
As for the rest of the resort it is truly beautiful. The lobby is stunning and the rest of the resort is so peaceful.
Here's a picture of the view from our balcony.
Now it's time for something not so peaceful. Our ADR at the Rain Forest Cafe. If you've ever dined at one of the Disney World Rain Forest Cafe's you probably already know they are noisy with audio AAs and sound effects.
We checked in and after waiting about 15 minutes for my brother to arrive we were seated. Our servers name was Pedro and he kindly informed me he had been up since 3:00AM this morning and was a little frantic. Needless to say I could tell where this meal was going. I probably should have just hugged the gorilla in front of our table and called it a day.
The service was slow. In fact, there were a few points during our meal I told my brother "has our server quit his job?" Well, he finally came back around and refilled our drinks and took our orders.
I ordered the Rain Forest Cobb Salad. Kim ordered the Chicken Fried Chicken. Both of our entrees were well prepared. I must say the portions at the Rain Forest are very, very large and pricey. My Cobb Salad was $15.99 and Kim's entree was $18.99. Ouch! But hey, we are on vacation, right. The food at this restaurant is average in our opinion. It is also a noisy dining experience. During this visit our service was below average. Not the best experience in the world, but we ate our way through it I guess. When we come to Disney World I'm not big on dining at chain restaurants, but once in a while; I guess its ok.
Total cost of our meal was $52 including tip for the 3 of us and a 10% DVC discount. The Rain Forest Cafe does not accept the DDE.
Here are some photos from our meal.
Signage out front.
Our table. The Motley Crew.
My Cobb Salad. Very large, but I did manage to eat it all. I was very hungry this evening.
After dinner we decided to enter the Animal Kingdom and participate in the evening Extra Magic Hours. We used the Rain Forest Cafe entrance in the back of the restaurant.
Here's a photo of the entrance (sorry, itís a bit dark, but you get the idea).
The park was open until 11:00PM. Evening EMH at the Animal Kingdom can be in "iffy" proposition. There are limited attractions open, and because of that wait times can be rather significant.
Here is the times tip board in Discovery Island. Wait times at 8:40 were about 25 to 30 minutes for most major attractions. They stayed pretty steady at least until 10:30PM.
Attractions we experienced tonight were only Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. We tried to get on Primeval Whirl, but the wait times would not allow it. 30 minutes to get spun into oblivion won't work; especially, just after eating at the Rain Forest.
The park was somewhat crowded this evening. Dinosaur had a 30 minute wait, Expedition Everest had a 30 minute wait, but I felt it was longer, maybe 40 minutes. I really didn't think the temps were that bad tonight. It was a bit sticky, but it could have been a lot worse.
At 10:30 we decided to leave the park. Believe it or not our bus just arrived as we walked up to the bus depot. Great!!! Our return trip to the Lodge was very efficient. I spent some time in the lobby and gift shop before coming back to the room. All-in-all a great day!
I'll leave you with more photos from the Animal Kingdom and the Wilderness Lodge.
The Dino in Dinosaur! "This picture brought to you by a generous grant from the McDonalds Corporation."
Yeti Time!! Photo from the queue of Expedition Everest.
Wilderness Lodge Mercantile.
Photo inside the "Iron Spike Room" at the Wilderness Lodge Villas. It's a little warm for a fire, isn't it? :?
Back to the Animal Kingdom (I'll tell you why tomorrow)
Lunch at Whispering Canyon
Photos of our Villa
EPCOT or Magic Kingdom in the evening
Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:24 AM
Wow, a negative experience at Rain Forest....who knew?! Your experience is exactly why I wouldn't waste my time eating there at WDW. ESPECIALLY since if you wanted to, you could go to a local mall near your home and waste your time and money there. Long waits, slow service and mediocre food don't do it for me personally.
The villas at WL look fantastic!
Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:24 PM
We are back from our morning at the Animal Kingdom. I mentioned before I would let you know why we went back this morning after spending the evening there last night. One of the touring strategies we like to use is visiting the park which had evening Extra Magic Hours the night before. The theory is that many guests have visited that park the night before and will not be back the next day. They will go to a different park. In theory, this should make wait times and crowd levels smaller than usual. I believe this strategy worked well today as the AK was not very busy at all this morning. The crowds did pick-up at around 12:40 as we left the park to head back to the Wilderness Lodge Villas.
We started our morning at Roaring Forks counter service at the Wilderness Lodge.
Here are a few shots of the counter service restaurant. It was recently refurbished a few years ago.
Here is the tip board on Discovery Island when we arrived at 9:20AM and when we left at around 12:40PM.
We did the usual attractions this morning. This is the order in which we experienced attractions this morning; Triceratops Spin, Primeval Whirl, Dinosaur, Character Landing, Festival of the Lion King, Camp Minnie/Mickey characters, and Expedition Everest with a Fastpass.
Here is a picture showing only a 5 minute wait for Dinosaur this morning at around 10:30AM.
A couple notes about the Festival of the Lion King. Timon's face is now animated which means the eyes blink and the mouth moves to the lyrics of the show. It really makes the show much better. Also, the Tumble Monkies have added some different show elements to their segment. It really made the show much more enjoyable from our perspective.
Here are a couple shots from the Festival of the Lion King. Anna was in the parade. "No flash pictures please."
On Expedition Everest the Yeti was not fully functional today. He was in what is called "B Mode". They only had strobe lighting on him. I've seen him this way before, but I've also seen him fully lit and very visable. He is much better when he is fully visiable during the approach.
In a few minutes we will be heading down to Whispering Canyon for lunch. At around 6:30PM we are heading over to the Magic Kingdom for Spectromagic and Wishes. I'll have a report on our meal and our evening at the Magic Kingdom this evening.
Here are a few more pictures from this morning.
Tree of Life in all its glory!
My Wife discovered this. A carved water creature in the river crossing over into Camp Minnie Mickey. Pretty Cool!
Talk to you later.
Posted 15 July 2008 - 06:00 PM
Posted 15 July 2008 - 06:13 PM
Posted 15 July 2008 - 06:23 PM
Posted 15 July 2008 - 08:01 PM
Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:26 PM
We just returned from the Magic Kingdom. Fortunately, we took our afternoon break today because it rained for a while this afternoon during our ADR at Whispering Canyon and our break in the room. It worked out well. We headed to the Magic Kingdom around 6:30PM. The rain had pretty much stopped. I wasn't sure what the crowds would be like since it rained for a few hours. It wasn't too crowded, but wait times where still somewhat lengthy.
Our ADR for Whispering Canyon was at 2:00PM. We checked in right at 2:00 and were seated immediately. There was not much of a crowd inside the restaurant. We probably could have walked up and got seated right away without an ADR.
The restaurant is themed to the old west and fits into the theme of the resort very well. The servers add to the theme by speaking in old west lingo; although they didn't seem in the mood to do many antics during our meal.
Also, in the waiting area there is a table with Lincoln Logs which kids can play with while they are waiting.
The menu does have a decent variety of choices. The most popular item appears to be the All-You-Can-Eat Canyon Skillet. The other items on the menu are chicken, cheeseburgers, ribs, etc. The one benefit of eating at 2:00PM is we are eating lunch and are getting lunch prices. The entrees; especially the Canyon Skillet is pretty much the same, but there is $9 per person price difference between lunch and dinner.
Our servers name was Diane. She seemed overwhelmed at first; like she had too many tables to handle, but fortunately for us many of the folks in her area left and our service got better during the meal. At first it was very, very slow.
Kim and I ordered the all-you-can-eat Canyon Skillet. It included pork ribs, sausage, baked chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatos, baked beans, cole slaw and corn bread. Here's the scoop on the food in the skillet. The chicken was very dry; like it had been baked on a rock. The ribs were pretty good, the sausage was unimpressive. About the best part of the skillet were the mashed potatos and corn bread. Everything else was pretty sub par in my opinion. I did eat mostly ribs and corn bread while Kim enjoyed the mashed potatos, corn and corn bread. If you wanted more of anything in the skillet just let your server know and they will bring you more.
Here is a picture of the Canyon Skillet.
One of the highlights of the meal (there weren't many) were the bottomless milkshakes Kim and Anna ordered. They looked and tasted delicious. Anna ordered the chocolate while Kim ordered the strawberry. I believe they are made with real ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles on top. Pretty awesome! If you ever dine here do yourself a favor and order them. You can continue to have your server bring you more as long as you can drink them. They do cost $5.99, but I believe they are so good it's worth the price.
Our bill came to $49.00 including the tip and the 20% DDE discount. The 18% gratuity was automatically added. My personal feeling is if you are staying at Fort Wilderness or Wilderness Lodge go ahead and dine here. Don't go out of your way from a park or another resort and make a special trip. You maybe disappointed if you do so.
After lunch we headed back to our room. Kim decided to sleep and Anna relaxed by watching some TV while the rain continued. I decided to take a walk down to the lobby and check out the Territory Lounge (Wilderness Lodge bar). Although I didn't order anything I was impressed by the setup. I may stop there on Thursday for a drink. I sat in the lobby and soaked up some atmosphere for about an hour and came back to the room.
At 6:30 we headed for the boat dock and took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom. Attractions we experienced this evening were Small World, Mickey's Phillharmagic, Spectromagic Parade, Buzz Lightyear, and Laugh Floor.
We love the Spectromagic parade.
Here are a few shots from tonight's 9:00PM parade. These are some of our favorite parts of the parade.
The sign with the Spectromagic Spectromen.
Mickey leading the way.
Chip & Dale tickling the ivory.
At 10:30 we decided to head back to our room and call it a night. We took the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge.
I also promised some photos of our 1 bedroom villa. Here they are.
Living room area
Kitchen with entry way
The bathroom. It is split with another sink next door.
Here are a few photos from the Small World attraction
Indoor view from the queue line
7:45PM. A shot from underneath the clock on the boat waiting to exit. Tick Tock, Tick Tock
And finally, a couple more photos from the Animal Kingdom this morning.
Anna, Daisy, and me at Camp Minnie Mickey
Just hanging around.
My next update may not come until tomorrow night as we may not come back to the villa until then.
Beaches N Cream
Welcome Home Wednesday (DVC Event)
Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:29 PM
The Timon head has AA elements to it. The eyes blink and mouth moves during the performance. I kind of like it.
I had my flash turned off when I was taking pictures. I'd never do it during the performance. It's too dangerous. You wouldn't believe the amount of guests taking flash pictures though. It looked like the kick-off of the Super Bowl at some points during the performance. Flashes everywhere.
Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:38 PM
Thanks to both of you. I do enjoy doing it as it provides a way to relive what we did and provides a history of what transpired on our trip. I sometimes revisit these threads months later to see what we did and make sure we don't repeat anything unless we really enjoyed it.
It's really nice having a site like this one to share it with everyone who also love Disney parks and who maintain this site. Thank you Matt and your staff. You guys do a great job.
Posted 16 July 2008 - 11:09 AM
The entertainment is the reason to go to Whispering Canyon and having eaten there now before, I won't be going out of my way to eat there unless, as you recommended, I am staying at WL or FW.
Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:42 PM
We are back from our day. We accomplished quite a bit; although I was a bit disappointed not to be able to ride Toy Story Mania. We are headed back to the Studios tomorrow morning so we will be able to get on then. More on this in a bit.
We started our day at EPCOT. We had about a 20 minute wait at the bus depot this morning for an EPCOT bus. Also, anyone who stays at the Wilderness Lodge needs to know you will stop at Ft. Wilderness on your way to EPCOT to pick up guests there. That adds about 10 minutes to your bus commute.
EPCOT was not very crowded this morning or even into the early afternoon. Last night was EPCOT Extra Magic Hours so I figured crowd levels would be smaller. It seemed to work out that way today. Attractions we experienced at EPCOT were Test Track (fastpass), Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth, Journey into your Imagination, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and World Showcase.
Here are some photos from our morning and afternoon at EPCOT.
News Flash! It's July and the Brazillian tour groups are out in full force.
A glorious good morning to Spaceship Earth.
The tip board at Innoventions plaza showing the various wait times.
Mission: Space with the wait time at at 10:30 this morning.
The trash musicians. (I forget their name)
Here are some shots from our tour around World Showcase this afternoon.
The crowds at EPCOT; espcially World Showcase were pretty thin. Here's a look at the main pathway. Not crowded at all.
America Pavillion, the Fife & Drum band.
We stopped in Japan to watch the candy lady making candy art.
We stopped in france and spent some time eating and drinking.
The fountain in France
Ham & Cheese Croissant and a Napoleon from the Chef's de France Bakery. Very yummy!
A Grey Goose slush. Very refreshing.
After we finished our tour of World Showcase we walked out the International Gateway (aka EPCOT's back entrance) and walked to the Beach Club for some Ice Cream at Beaches and Cream. The restaurant is on the backside of the resort. It is a small restaurant, but since it was about 2:30 there was not much of a crowd. We decided to sit at the bar. Kim and I decided to split a No Way Jose; which is 3 scoops of ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate syrup with whipped cream, chocolate and peanut butter chips on top. Now, I've had many desserts at WDW and to me this is the best of the best. Anna had a Mickey Mouse sundae. A scoop of vanilla ice cream with two Oreo cookies on top. Total cost was $14.22 with our 20% DDE discount.
The No Way Jose. NO WAY!!!
As we left we caught the kitchen staff creating a Kitchen Sink. Absolutely HUGE!!!
After we left Beaches and Cream we walked around to the Atlantic Dance Hall near the Boardwalk Resort. The Disney Vacation Club holds a free event there every Wednesday at 4:00PM called Welcome Home Wednesday for DVC members. This was the first time we ever attended. At 4:00PM the doors opened and we were greeted with many welcome homes. We were given 2 cards to fill out with our name for prize drawings later. When we entered the hall the atmosphere was festive. The main stage had a game show setup with a very large TV screen behind it. DVC promotional videos were shown prior to the start of the game show. Complimentary snacks and lemonade were provided. The snacks included bags of chips, popcorn, pretzels and Cracker Jacks. I was surprised by the turn-out. There were easily 150 plus in attendance. After about 15 minutes of socializing and eating some snacks the hostess of the game show was introduced. Her name is Miss Dee Vee Cee. She is the first lady of the Disney Vacation Club. She ran the game show and later would draw for the prizes for the event.
I thought this event was nice and I'm glad we did it. It's not something I will run back to; however, I'm very glad we did it once. It was well worth it since it rained the entire hour we were in the Atlantic Dance Hall. It was our way of staying dry.
Here are some photos of the event.
The setup of the stage.
The snack table.
Miss Dee Veecee was introduced as the host of the game show. Volunteers for the game were picked by Miss Dee Vee Cee.
The DVC game show in action. The format of the game is very similar to Jeopardy with DVC questions and answers.
After we left the Atlantic Dance Hall the rain had stopped. We walked over to the Swan/Dolphin boat dock and hopped on the boat to Hollywood Studios. When we arrived there was a light sprinkle, but nothing bad at all. The crowd on Hollywood Blvd was not heavy; however, the crowd inside the rest of the park was much worse. Waits at Toy Story Mania were 80 minutes. Later they would increase to 120 minutes (2 hours). Fastpasses were gone for the day and the single rider line was closed. Instead of spending all that time in line we decided to wait until our visit tomorrow morning to ride. Attractions we experienced at DHS tonight were Star Tours, Muppet Vision 3-D, The Art of Disney Animation where Anna drew a great Winnie the Pooh, and the Great Movie Ride.
Here are some photos from our evening at DHS.
The crowd on Hollywood Blvd at around 5:30PM.
The tip board on Hollywood Blvd showing the wait times.
The crowd at Pixar Place was thick. No chance to ride TSM.
A Toy Story meet and greet across from TSM. It is indoors now. Woody and Buzz were inside. Quite a long line.
Anna, me and a Green Army guy!
TSM front entry signage showing a 120 minute wait. Quite the crowd.
Finally, the wagging Pluto on Hollywood Blvd. See you tomorrow Pluto.
That was our day. We left DHS at around 9:15PM. We hope to get more accomplished there tomorrow morning and afternoon. The streetmosphere characters were in for the night after we arrived this evening. I'm hopeful to catch some of them when we arrive tomorrow.
Cape May Character Breakfast (8:00AM ADR)
Downtown Disney or Wilderness Lodge swimming pool
A visit to the Territory Lounge and Trout Pass Pool bar