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ADP Live From Disney World

#1 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 08:46 PM

Friday, October 17th
Pre-Trip Report


The Cast -
Me - Aaron ADP - Calls Orlando a second home
Kim - DW - Looks for the nearest spa
Anna - DD8 - Loves to give Cast Members high fives


Hi Everyone,

I'm sitting at home looking out our window and the leaves are falling again. Fall is upon us and it's that time of year when ghosts pay us a visit and the pumpkins and apples are
O-Plenty!

For us it also signals our annual Fall pilgramage to Orlando. October in Orlando is truly a wonderful time to visit. The weather is usually moderate, the crowds are not crazy; however, they've grown over the years, and the fall events are some of the best around.

We are scheduled to arrive into Orlando around 2:20 tomorrow. The weather looks good and I don't see any reason at this time why we'd experience a flight delay.

Anna flying into Orlando on a previous visit :D
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The plan for this trip is to branch out a bit and spend more time at Universal Orlando Resort. We haven't been to Universal in quite some time so we figured it was time to give it a try again. We will be at Disney World for 3 days and Universal for 4 days. We will be staying at the Pop Century Resort at Disney World and then moving over to the Hard Rock Hotel on the second part of our trip. We were able to secure great annual passholder rates at each resort. I purchased a Universal annual pass for myself so we could take advantage of the great AP discount at the Hard Rock Hotel.

As far as continuing this live report on the second half of our trip at Universal I'll let you guys tell me if you want me to continue. Since this is an unofficial Disney site it may not be appropriate.

Because we are splitting our time between Disney World and Universal we've decided to rent a car from Alamo. I always use Alamo because I've found their rates to be the lowest. They are also extremely flexible with their rates. By checking rates often I was able to book a mid-size vehicle for $108 for the week tax included. I'm also part of Alamo's Quick Silver program which allows us to skip the line in the terminal and head straight for the garage to pick-up your car. This is a totally free program and it saves you a ton of valuable vacation time not having to wait in line.

I'll write more about our transportation experiences after we arrive into Orlando tomorrow.

Here are some things we are looking forward to on this trip:
- Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT. Drinking and eating around the world! :thumbsup2
- Dining at the new T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney
- Attending Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando
- Staying at the Hard Rock Hotel
- Checking out the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel
- Dining at Mythos inside Islands of Adventure

We are skipping Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party this year. I might decide to attend Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, but it will be a last minute decision to go. And if I do go it will be solo as HHN is not something for an 8 year old nor for my Wife Kim who would SHREEEK :shock: at some of the gore HHN offers. :lol: More to come!

I hope you can come along with us on this trip as we bring you some new and old traditions Disney World and Universal Orlando have to offer in the fall. If there is anything we can try to check out for you just let me know and I'll try and snap a photo or two and post them.

In the meantime I'll leave you with some photos of our decor around our house which has been getting us in the mood for our trip.

Countdown Calendar which helps build anticipation for the trip
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Some refrigerator magnets including the monorail magnet. Press the red button for some famous sayings "Please stay clear of the doors", "Please hold onto the handrails throughout our journey" :laughing:
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The next update will be tomorrow after we arrive.

Up Next:
Checking In at Pop Century
The Magic Kingdom
Dinner at The Crystal Palace
Spectromagic Parade

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#2 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 09:43 PM

Let the great ADP live TR begin! :lol:
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#3 User is offline   Jeanine 

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 07:33 PM

I'm interested in the Universal Studios part. I've never been (although oddly, I have unused tickets I bought from the Costco out there on a whim) but I keep meaning to go. The hotels there seem so expensive compared to the Pop, but on the other hand it seems like a bummer to not have that length-of-stay fast pass thing they give the on-site visitors, so I've always been conflicted about staying there vs. just commuting from WDW.
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#4 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:24 PM

Saturday, Oct. 18th

Hi Everyone,

Sorry to keep you hanging, but we arrived at Pop Century around 3:00PM today and couldn't wait to get over to the Magic Kingdom.

Our flight on Southwest was pretty smooth. We managed to arrive 10 minutes early. Yahoooo!!! We got our luggage and headed straight for our car at Alamo. Since I'm part of their free Quick Silver program we went straight to a car and out of the garage with no wait.

We took State Route 417 South or the Green Way. One note to anyone coming to Orlando in the future. Make sure you have the exact change when using 417. When exiting off of Osceloa Parkway you must have .50 cents with you or you may have no choice but to run the toll booth. There is no attendent. You will get fined if you do, but if you don't have exact change you don't have much choice. Long story short, someone behind us had to lend us a dime. LOL! :lol: Crisis averted!

Here are some photos of our arrival at the airport today.

Orlando Airport. We are here!
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Welcome to Central Florida....Tram to main terminal
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Our check-in at Pop Century went very smooth. No wait and check-in was very good. We have a nice room close to Classic Hall which is the main lobby, shopping and food court area for Pop Century. We are located in the 1950s building. There were no problems with our room. It was clean and ready for use when we arrived.

Here are some photos from our arrival at Pop Century today.

Larger than life decades!
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Entrance to Classic Hall
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I wanted to report on our arrival earler today, but Kim and Anna couldn't wait to head over to the Magic Kingdom. We also had a 6:25 ADR at the Crystal Palace.

We decided to take our car over to the MK since the line for the Magic Kingdom bus was long! Once we arrived at the MK I had to stop at Guest Services and pick-up our new annual passes for the year. I purchased them before the last price increase, but just needed to pick them up before we could enter the park. Since we are DVC members we get $100 off each AP. One of the best perks of being a DVC member.

Here's a shot of us getting ready to jump in line to catch the monorail
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Upon entering the MK we noticed the wonderful decorations on Main St. They've really done a nice job of decorating Main St.for Halloween however, the rest of the park really isn't as well deocrated for the Fall. I'm sure it looks nice for the Halloween party, but the difference between Main St. and the rest of the park is night and day.

Here are a couple of photos of the decorations on Main St.
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Main St. Train Station at night.
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You know its kind of funny, but there were some Cast Members at the front of the Magic Kingdom awaiting our arrival today. :D
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We headed back to Fantasyland as we all wanted to ride the Mad Tea Party. Nothing like getting spun into the ground right away. We then moved into Tomorrowland and rode TTA and caught a show of the Laugh Floor Comedy Club.

After we finished those attractions it was time for our ADR at the Crystal Palace. We checked in right at 6:25. We waited about 10 minutes before our names were called and we were seated. I find the food at the Crystal Palace to be the best food in the Magic Kingdom. Tonight was no exception. In fact, I had the best salmon I've ever had. What made it taste so good was the rub or flavor on the outside. It was very memorable. There were several variaties of food in the buffet so the selection was wonderful. They had a pumpkin cheesecake which was also very good. There's nothing like pumpkin in the Fall! our waiters name was Patrick. He did a great job and we never felt like he ignored us.

The character interaction was very good; however, all the characters came at one time. It was a character bum-rush! They were not spread out at all. Pooh, Tigger, Eyore, and Piglet all came within 10 minutes of each other. They did spend some time with us so it wasn't bad at all.

About my only complaint of our meal was the price. Although I thought everything was good, not great, but good, our total bill was $79 for 2 adults and 1 child. Disney has recently increased their food prices. I don't remember any buffet costing $30.99 per person before this trip. Our DDE (Tables of Wonderland) saved us 20% and the bill with the tip and tax came to $79. :shock:

Here are some photos from our meal at the Crystal Palace.

Restaurant Signage
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Buffet area
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Restaurant topiaries & decorations
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After dinner we decided to head over to Adventureland and ride Pirates of the Caribbean. There was not wait. We jumped right on. The crowds at the Magic Kingdom were moderate today and tonight. I saw wait times range from 20 to 40 minutes. Really not bad at all.

We were able to catch Spectromagic and saw something we'd never noticed before. A hidden mickey at the top of one of the floats.
http://i205.photobuc...ture040-2-1.jpg

After Spectro we fastpassed Big Thunder Mountain and then walked over to Fantasyland and experienced Mickey's Philharmagic. Our final attraction for the evening was Buzz Lightyear. At that point we decided to leave. It was around 10:00PM and we need to get an early start tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow we are going to try and make it to Hollywood Studios before it opens at 9:00AM. We want to experience Toy Story Mania before the line builds to 2 hours LOL! :lol: We also plan on visiting EPCOT most of day. We have some eating and drinking to do around World Showcase as part of the Food & Wine Festival. After Illuminations tomorrow night we are headed back to Hollywood Studios for Evening Extra Magic Hours and hopefully another spin on Toy Story Mania.

Our next update may not come until Monday morning since we will be out and about all day tomorrow.

More to come and thanks for following along!

Here are a few more photos from today.

The Liberty Square bridge was just refurbished and it recently opened to foot traffic
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Here's a photo....Well, don't ask me why Kim wanted me in this photo, but she did....So I appeased her. A booth over at Liberty Square. :D
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Up Next:
Hollywood Studios
EPCOT Food & Wine Festival
Hollywood Studios EMH

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#5 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 11:27 PM

Jeanine said:

I'm interested in the Universal Studios part. I've never been (although oddly, I have unused tickets I bought from the Costco out there on a whim) but I keep meaning to go. The hotels there seem so expensive compared to the Pop, but on the other hand it seems like a bummer to not have that length-of-stay fast pass thing they give the on-site visitors, so I've always been conflicted about staying there vs. just commuting from WDW.


Ok Jeanine. I'll go ahead with info from Universal. I may just give some highlights.
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#6 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 07:18 AM

Nice first day Aaron. Regarding 417, if you take the exit for Route 535, there is no toll there and then you simply go to Route 536, which brings you right to WDW property....Very simple and no pesky toll to deal with :lol:
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#7 User is offline   queenofthehouse 

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 02:29 PM

Aaron - I love that you take us along on your trip. It's so much fun reading your report, knowing that you are there. I look forward to the rest of my vitual vacation.

I didn't realize that Blue Man Group were at Universal. I've never been to Universal, so I wouldn't have a clue of what to do and where to start. During your time there, maybe you could report on the street performers they have, in comparison to the performers we have. Are they all dressed as characters like the Flintstones, Spinderman, etc.. or do they have street performers like our COH? Interested to know more about that.
I'm also interested in the Blue Man Group show. I've been to the one here in Boston. I'm wonsering if they do the same type of show and clone it everywhere or if they have a different show for Orlando, like Cirque DuSoleil does.

Sorry for the long message, but I love that you're there and we can tap into your on the spot experience.
Maureen
(Lowell's Mom)
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!

May 21-28, 2013
Wilderness Lodge
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#8 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 07:43 PM

Sunday, Oct. 19th

Hi Everyone,

We made a stop back to our room after we finished eating around the World Showcase at the Food & Wine festival. We are still planning on heading back to Hollywood Studios tonight for evening extra magic hours. We may get lucky enough to catch another ride on Toy Story Mania.

Our day started at the Everything Pop food court this morning. This is a great food court; however, it can get a bit chaotic with people going in 6 different directions to try and get what they need. I do love the decor. We had breakfast a little after 8:00AM and the food court wasn't too terribly busy.

Here are a few photos from the food court this morning.

Main food court area with crowd
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Gift shop area attached to the food court
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After we finished breakfast we took the bus over to Hollywood Studios. We arrived just as the park opened and I dashed to Toy Story Mania to get fastpasses. When I arrived the wait time was already 30 minutes. Since Kim and Anna were still on Hollywood Blvd I got fastpasses. The fastpass lines were already long and our return time ended up being 11:00AM.

Here are some photos from our entrance into Hollywood Studios this morning. I managed to snap a couple photos as I was briskly walking down the street. :lol:

The crowd on Hollywood Blvd heading into Hollywood Studios
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Citizens of Hollywood greeting guests as they arrived
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Attractions we experienced this morning were Muppets 3-D, The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours twice, and Toy Story Mania.

Here are some photos from Pixar Place and Toy Story Mania.

The crowd at Pixar Place this morning. Pretty thin.
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Scrabble pieces in the cement on Pixar Place. Could be cowboy or howdy depending on how you look at it. Both would reference Woody of Toy Story.
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The wait time at Toy Story Mania at 11:00AM
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After we experienced Toy Story Mania it was time to meet up with Glenn. Glenn and I had agreed to meet up over at Star Tours since he was going to be in the park today putting together the Studios Update for the site. Kim and Anna were excited to meet with Glenn as well. We arrived at the entrance to Star Tours at 11:30 and introduced each other. We jumped on Star Tours and had a terrific flight to the Endore moon! :D It was great meeting you Glenn. Anna and Kim say hi and we wanted to say thanks for taking the time to meet with us today. See you again in December at Mousefest! Aloha!

Here's a photo from our meet today.
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After purchasing a Wheezy Breezy Freezy over at Pixar Place we decided it was time to head over to EPCOT. We hopped on the boat which takes guests between Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk resort area and EPCOT. We arrived at EPCOT at 12:30 and walked through the back entrance. We decided to go through the United Kingdom and Canada first because we had a few things we needed to do in Future World a bit later.

This started our Food & Wine Festival adventure. My first food booth was Greece. I had a Greek Salad which I will say was the best of the food items I experienced today. The salad had goat cheese and an olive mixture which complimented the dressing. I really enjoyed it.

Here's a shot of the salad.
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My next stop was at a beer garden where I ordered a Tiger beer. I've never heard of it, but it did taste pretty good.

Next we headed into Future World. Anna and Kim rode Journey into your Imagination with Figment. I ran to get fastpasses at Test Track. We met at the Electric Umbrella where Anna had some lunch. She doesn't have the type of pallet for the Food & Wine Festival. :lol: After we left the Electric Umbrella we headed over to Innoventions West so we could experience some attractions there and rest. Innoventions is a great spot to take it easy for a while. We also took advantage of the free character photo opportunity for Disney Visa cardmembers. Today Mickey and Pluto took family photos with us. Each family gets a free 5 X 7 photo to pick-up at the Kodak shop later in the day. A great freebie!

We left Innoventions and headed back towards World Showcase. We started at Mexico. Kim and Anna went on the Three Cabilleros boat ride while I walked down to Norway for some Goulosh and potato cakes. We continued our journey around World Showcase and stopped at other food and drink booths.

Food & Wine signage
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Here are a few more shots of the food we tasted.

Pot Stickers and Chicken Sha Cha from China
http://i205.photobuc...ture060-1-1.jpg

Baked Ziti from Bologna, Italy. A generous portion.
http://i205.photobuc...icture062-1.jpg

We also caught some entertainment along the way; specifically the Chinese Acrobats and Sergio in Italy.

Chinese Acrobats....These girls are amazing!
http://i205.photobuc...icture061-1.jpg

We made our way around World Showcase (I'm full)! It was now time for our fastpass at Test Track. We rode Test Track and had to pick-up our free Disney Visa photo from the Kodak shop next to Spaceship Earth. We lleft EPCOT and jupmed a bus back to Pop Century.

The weather today was wonderful. The high was 80 degrees and their was a nice breeze blowing through the parks. The sun was out all day. The crowd at Hollywood Studios was not to bad, but the crowd at EPCOT was thick. The wait times at attractions were not too bad though. I think most of the folks who were at EPCOT were more interested in the Food & Wine Festival than riding attractions. It was pretty evident at World Showcase as it was packed and the lines for food were long. By the way, how come people can't have their money out and ready, and know what they are going to order before they get to the cash register? What's up with that! :confused3 It holds up the line for everybody.

One observation about this year's Food & Wine Festival. There doesn't appear to be as many booths as there were last year. I'm not sure why, but it seemed like it to me. All in all though it was still a lot of fun walking around and sampling the different foods and drinks.

We are headed back to Hollywood Studios a little later for evening EMH. I'm hopeful to get another shot on Toy Story Mania. My one and only ride today was worth 188,000 points. Not bad. If the line is too long we may need to find another attraction we can all enjoy.

I'll post tonight's experiences during our update for tomorrow.

In the meantime here are more photos from today you might be interested in.

New recyclable bottle trash cans at EPCOT. Pretty neat and easy to understand :D
http://i205.photobuc...icture057-1.jpg

The crowd at World Showcase for the Food & Wine Festival. "Excuse me, pardon me.....Hey! Can you get out of my way!" :D
http://i205.photobuc...icture054-1.jpg

The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights are up along the Streets of America.
http://i205.photobuc...ture047-2-1.jpg

Constuction continues on the new American Idol attraction at Hollywood Studios
http://i205.photobuc...re048-1-1-1.jpg

Up Next:
Downtown Disney
Lunch at T-Rex Cafe
Check-In to the Hard Rock Hotel
Universal Studios
Blue Man Group

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#9 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 07:45 PM

QuickGold said:

Nice first day Aaron. Regarding 417, if you take the exit for Route 535, there is no toll there and then you simply go to Route 536, which brings you right to WDW property....Very simple and no pesky toll to deal with :D


Yea...We usually take 535, but I was curious how much time we might save by taking the 417. I got my answer. I shouldn't do it again. :lol:
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#10 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 07:47 PM

queenofthehouse said:

Aaron - I love that you take us along on your trip. It's so much fun reading your report, knowing that you are there. I look forward to the rest of my vitual vacation.

I didn't realize that Blue Man Group were at Universal. I've never been to Universal, so I wouldn't have a clue of what to do and where to start. During your time there, maybe you could report on the street performers they have, in comparison to the performers we have. Are they all dressed as characters like the Flintstones, Spinderman, etc.. or do they have street performers like our COH? Interested to know more about that.
I'm also interested in the Blue Man Group show. I've been to the one here in Boston. I'm wonsering if they do the same type of show and clone it everywhere or if they have a different show for Orlando, like Cirque DuSoleil does.

Thanks Maureen! I'll give you as much scoop as I can about Blue Man Group. I don't think they allow pictures in the theater, but I'm sure I'll be able to snap a few outside the theater. I'll let you know how it goes along with the Universal Streemosphere.


Sorry for the long message, but I love that you're there and we can tap into your on the spot experience.


Thanks Maureen! I'll give you as much scoop as I can about Blue Man Group. I don't think they allow pictures in the theater, but I'm sure I'll be able to snap a few outside the theater. I'll let you know how it goes along with the Universal Streemosphere.
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#11 User is offline   queenofthehouse 

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 09:48 PM

ADP said:

Thanks Maureen! I'll give you as much scoop as I can about Blue Man Group. I don't think they allow pictures in the theater, but I'm sure I'll be able to snap a few outside the theater. I'll let you know how it goes along with the Universal Streemosphere.

Thanks again for the live report and I especially like seeing the COH, Shelby Mayer.
I'm sure you're right about not being able to take photos at Blue Man Group. They took my son on stage, put him in a white painters suit, painted him, tethered him upside down and used him as a paint brush (sort of) and I have no photos to show for it. He had a GREAT time though. The guys in Boston do meet people after the show for photos and autographs (usually blue face print). Have a great time. I had to take this with my cell phone.


Posted Image
Maureen
(Lowell's Mom)
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!

May 21-28, 2013
Wilderness Lodge
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#12 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 09:10 AM

ADP said:

QuickGold said:

Nice first day Aaron. Regarding 417, if you take the exit for Route 535, there is no toll there and then you simply go to Route 536, which brings you right to WDW property....Very simple and no pesky toll to deal with :D


Yea...We usually take 535, but I was curious how much time we might save by taking the 417. I got my answer. I shouldn't do it again. :D
Sorry for the confusion, but I meant take 417 and take the exit that drops you off on 535. I think you're thinking of 528 (the beeline expressway)
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#13 User is offline   gsonoda 

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 10:11 AM

Hey Aaron, it was a lot of fun to meet with you and your family at Star Tours yesterday :D I'm looking forward to Mousefest in December!
Glenn

The reigning Star Wars Trivia Champion - 2008 and 2009

"Upon entering the theater, please move as far to the end of the row as possible. Stopping in the middle is distinctly unpatriotic."
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#14 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:05 PM

Monday, Oct 20th

Hi Everyone,

We are back from our morning/afternoon at Downtown Disney. We've checked into the Hard Rock Hotel. I was offered and incredible opportunity at check-in to upgrade to Club Level here at the Hard Rock Hotel. I couldn't turn it down. We were offered the upgrade for an additional $50 per night. Considering the great AP rate I got and the $50 per night I couldn't turn it down. So, I'll be able to give you the scoop on our Hard Rock Club Level experience.

We stayed at Hollywood Studios until 11:00PM last night and experienced Muppets and Toy Story Mania.

Here's a shot of Mr. Potato Head in the queue of Toy Story Mania. Hey! What are you looking at?
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We left Pop Century this morning after having breakfast in our room. As we left Pop Century I snapped a few picutres of the larger than life icons on some of the buildings.

45 records
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Bowling pins
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We arrived at Downtown Disney at around 9:30AM to find a small crowd. I really enjoyed the light crowd in the World of Disney. As the morning went along the crowd did build.

Here is a shot of the princess room all decked out for High School Musical 3
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While Kim and Anna were in the World of Disney I stepped outside and grabbed a photo of the construction progress on the new dockside stage.
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Here's a picture of what it will look like when it is completed.
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After we left the World of Disney we walked over to the Christmas Store to purchase some Christmas ornaments.

After we left the Christmas shop we decided it was time for lunch so we headed over to the new T-Rex Cafe. We checked-in and were seated immediately.

Restaurant signage
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Ok gang...Here is my overall opinion of this place. It's a Rain Forest Cafe on steroids with a prehistoric theme. I honestly don't understand why this place is here; 100 yards away is a Rain Forest Cafe with a similar look, and unfortunately, the food is very much the same.

I will give credit where credit is do. The look of the inside of this place is "over-the-top". Landry's must have spent a lot of money (I heard 128 million dollars) on constructing this restaurant. There are some neat elements to the inside of the restaurant. We sat in the ice cave which gives you the impression of eating inside a forzen cave with stalamtites on the ceiling. The restaurant is very, very noisy. The place was half full and I had to shout across the table so Kim and Anna could here me. :?

Here is a shots of the ice cave while it was pink. It also turns blue.
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As I mentioned to you previously the food is very similar in taste and look to the food at the Rain Forest Cafe. I had a Bronto Burger with waffle fries. Kim had the cheese tortolini pasta with alfredo sauce while Anna had the kids pizza. We all agreed our food was mediocre at best. Total cost of our bill was $80 including tip. There are no discounts available until January 2009 according to our server. Here are some shots of our food.

Onion ring appitizer
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Cheeseburger with Fries
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Kim's pasta dish...Tortolini with alfredo sauce. By the way Kim said the bread must have been prehistoric as well since it was hard as a rock.... :D
http://i205.photobuc...ture078-1-1.jpg

Anna got a frozen slush in a souvenier cup for $3.00 extra
http://i205.photobuc...ture075-2-1.jpg

In the back of the gift shop is a place where you can build-a-dino from the folks who brought you Build-A-Bear. Neat concept for the people who own Landry restaurants but I don't think its anything special for the guest.

Here's a shot of the entrance to Build-A-Dino
http://i205.photobuc...icture071-2.jpg

I should also note the service was rather slow. Our meal lasted over 75 minutes and in my opinion is too long for lunch. I did order an appetizer of Onion Rings, but it was still too long.

I guess my opinion is to try this place for yourself and see if you like it, but we won't be running back.

So, for now we are at the Hard Rock and getting ready to head down to the pool. I need to walk over to Universal Studios and pick-up our park tickets. We may possibly skip the parks today and just enjoy the pool, the lounge and get ready for Blue Man Group later on.

I'll give you a report on Blue Man Group and the Hard Rock pool tonight.

Thanks for following along! :D
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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:15 PM

QuickGold said:

ADP said:

QuickGold said:

Nice first day Aaron. Regarding 417, if you take the exit for Route 535, there is no toll there and then you simply go to Route 536, which brings you right to WDW property....Very simple and no pesky toll to deal with :D


Yea...We usually take 535, but I was curious how much time we might save by taking the 417. I got my answer. I shouldn't do it again. :D
Sorry for the confusion, but I meant take 417 and take the exit that drops you off on 535. I think you're thinking of 528 (the beeline expressway)


You're right. My fault. I got off too soon. Hey! You know us tourists...were always causing some kind of mischif. :D
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#16 User is offline   Jeanine 

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:38 PM

Hmm. It's too bad with all the money they spent on it, the food at T-Rex isn't better. I've in general found that Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe food is more or less interchangeable for me with Red Robin and Applebee's food.

And why does every restaurant at WDW have to be so loud? Even CA Grill is loud enough where I have to shout across the table to be heard. Planet Hollywood is loud to the point where, in order to take a call, I had to leave the table, go outside the restaurant, and practically cross the street before anything was audible.
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#17 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:56 PM

Jeanine said:

Hmm. It's too bad with all the money they spent on it, the food at T-Rex isn't better. I've in general found that Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe food is more or less interchangeable for me with Red Robin and Applebee's food.
It's a personal crusade of mine against Rain Forest Cafe and now T-Rex. It's bad, overpriced food with slow service. At least the Sci-Fi has decent turn around time in terms of how long it takes to get your food. If you want to waste your time at a Rain Forest Cafe, go to your local mall. Don't waste your time here and ADP's report reflects that.
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#18 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 11:00 PM

Hi Everyone,

We are back from our evening at Blue Man Group. We also spent some time at the pool today and toured the resort.

We also ate at the lounge. Since we had a pretty big lunch we enjoyed the food and drink at the lounge. Tonight they had chicken wings, chicken ceasar salad, and a potato dish. Cheese and crackers along with select beers and wines were served. I'll have some pictures of the lounge tomorrow. I'll also post some photos of our room. Later this week I'll post some photos of the resort.

The pool at the Hard Rock is very nice. It's one of the biggest resort pools I've ever seen (Storm-A-Long Bay is a bit bigger). Included at the pool is a nearly 200ft water slide, a covered pool bar and seating area, cabanas for rent, ping pong and even a version of Guitar Hero. There is music playing all through the pool area ieven underneath the water. Yes, speakers are located under the water. A very cool feature.

Here are a couple photos of the pool area.

The Ginormous pool
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The pool bar and grill better known as the Beach Club
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After we left the pool we came back to our room to freshen up for Blue Man Group. We also walked down to the lounge and enjoyed tonight's offerings of food and drink. While in our room we received a knock on our door. The resort had sent up milk and cookies for us to enjoy. According to the Bellman it was for being Loews First members. As part of being Loews First members you receive a welcome gift and this was ours. Joining this program is free. I've heard that the Hard Rock Hotel may no longer participate in this program since it's not going to affiliate with Loews Hotels any further in the future. The name of the program may also be changine in the future to Loews You First I believe.

Here's a photo of our milk and cookies
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We left our room for City Walk around 6:30. We took a leisurly stoll through City Walk to see what's changed from our last visit several years ago. There have been some changes like new restaurants and a few new shops; however, the basic configuration or layout of City Walk has not changed.

We arrived at the Sharp Aquos theater (Blue Man Group theater) at around 7:30. There is an entrance off of city Walk so you don't have too enter the theme park. We sat in row J towards one of the walkways. Pretty good seats. Honestly, most of the seats in the theater provide a great view of the show.

We found the show to be very good and entertaining. It kept our attention for the entire 90 minutes. I should mention there is no intermission. You may want to make sure you've gone to the bathroom prior to the show or else you maybe made fun of by the performers if you get up out of your seat during the show. :D Oh....And arriving late is also a bad thing.

One other note about the show it had more comedy in it than we had anticipated. I won't go into too much detail, but I'll never look at toliet paper and Captain Crunch the same way again. :D

I'd recommend seeing this show. It's actually very entertaining for the whole family. Universal is currently running a special for Annual Passholders. We paid $44 per ticket plus tax with the annual pass discount. I believe the normal price is $78 plus tax for adults and $68 plus tax for children 9 and under.

I should mention the show maybe too noisy and intense for children under the age of 5. If necessary, ushers can provide ear plugs for children.

Here are some photos of Blue Man Group. No photos or video during the show.

Blue Man Group signage in front of the Sharp Aquos Theater
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The lobby area inside the theater
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After the show we headed back to our room for the evening. Our room was turned-down by the maid service when we arrived. We sat in the lounge for a bit before calling it a night.

Tomorrow looks to be very promising. While touring the Hard Rock today I saw this sign. Thank god! No Disney Nescafe coffee. We've moved up to Starbucks! :D
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Up Next
Islands of Adventure
Lunch at Mythos
Photos of the Hard Rock Club Lounge
Hard Rock Hotel pool

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#19 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 05:39 PM

Tuesday, Oct 21st

Hi Everyone,

We are back from our day at Islands of Adventure. We had lunch at Mythos. The weather today was wonderful. We got extremely wet on some of the rides, but the sun helped dry us off.

I'm sitting poolside writing this update and uploading photos from our day at the park.

Our day started down at the Hard Rock lounge. We enjoyed breakfast. The lounge was not very crowded this morning at 9:00AM. There was no need for us to rush since we knew the park would not be very crowded plus we have express line access.

For the fun of it we took the boat from the Hard Rock to City Walk to see how long it would take. We would have normally walked, but it sounded like something different to try.

While waiting for the boat I snapped a picture of the back of the Hard Rock Hotel.
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Anna was able to get behind the wheel of the boat this morning. She even got to push the button which causes the horn to blow. :)
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We arrived at Islands of Adventure around 10:15 and the park was not too crowded. Here's a shot of one of the icons at Islands of Adventure; the lighthouse at the front entrance which signifies an adventure is ahead.
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For those of you who know the layout of Islands of Adventure you can go right or left off of the Port of Entry. We chose to go left and hit Marvel Super Hero Island first. We did Storm Force accelerator and Spiderman. The Hulk roller coaster was broken down for a while today. It would eventually open up later.

Here's a photo of the front of the Spiderman attraction. I consider this attraction the best attraction I've ever experienced. It's hard to explain. I'll just say it's a 360 degree simulator that moves you through space. If and when you experience this attraction you want believe what you are seeing. It's as close as you'll ever come to being immersed in a comic book story.
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The three of us got soaked with water at Toon Lagoon. Anna and I rode Rispsaw Falls twice. The wait time was 20 minutes; however, there was no wait with our express pass. Here is a photo of the walkway inside Toon Lagoon.
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Each island inside the park is themed very well. Even the musical transitions between islands is done very well. We walked through Jurassic Park where I snapped this photo of one of the boats from the River Adventure coming down the hill and getting a little wet. :lol:
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As we left Jurassic Park we ran into the area where the new Wizardin World of Harry Potter island is being constructed.

I snapped a few photos of signs and construction progress. They have the construction area pretty well walled-off. The Flying Unicorn attraction is not operating due to the construction.

Here are the photos from the Harry Potter area

Soon-to-be Hogwarts Castle. Big, BIg, BIG!
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Harry Potter signs
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One note about what I saw. The large building in the photos will be Hogwarts Castle when it is finished. The building is absolutely huge. I don't know what they are going to put in there, but it is going to be one ginormous castle.

at 1:15 we decided to head to the Lost Continent and check into Mythos for our 1:30PM lunch reservation. I should mention we had high expectations of Mythos going to our reservation. I read it was the number one theme park restaurant in the world according to Theme Park Insider magazine. What's funny is they even have a sign out front of the restaurant saying it as well.

Theme Park Insider sign
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We waited 5 minutes after we checked in until we were seated. The decor of the restaurant is very unique. Most of the infrastructure is carved brown cement with a giant, oval shaped glass window facing the lagoon. The view outside the window is wonderful. It faces Marvel Super Hero Island and provides a great view of the Hulk roller coaster.

Here are a couple shots of the decor in the restaurant

Spitting fish
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The large window with a view of the Hulk roller coaster
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Mythos's hours change daily based on the hours of the theme park. Today the restaurant was only open until 3:30 and IOA was open until 6:00. If you book a reservation here you may not be able to book anything for dinner. Our menu today was more lunch oriented with sandwiches, wraps, and pasta. The menu provides a decent amount of choices for lunch.

I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and kim ordered the Mythos burger. Anna had chicken nuggets with fries. The kids menu has 5 choices for lunch.

Here's a photo of my grilled chicken sandwich with fries
http://i205.photobuc...ture100-2-1.jpg

We all thought our food was delicious and very well done. I know it's only lunch sandwiches, but there was something flavorful on our sandwiches I can't put my finger on. It was some sort of spice or sweet pepper taste to my sandwich. Kim's hamburger had some sort of dill spice on it, but it wasn't the pickles.

Since our food tasted so good we decided to go all out and order dessert. Kim and I ordered the Ooie Gooey banana cake. Anna ordered a kid's banana split. The banana cake is a signature dessert for the restaurant. It is bananas, chocolate cake, a scoop of peanut butter ice cream, with caramel sauce on top. There is also a dried banana peel on top you can eat. I thought this was one of the best desserts I've ever had. It was a bit rich, but still very yummy.

Here's a photo of the banana cake
http://i205.photobuc...ture102-2-1.jpg

Our server was very good as well. She took care of our needs and was quick with everything. Our food came out hot and fresh and our glasses were always refilled. She was kind and friendly.

Our total bill came to $50 which included the tip and a 10% discount with the preferred Annaual Pass discount. A very reasonable price for lunch, non-alcoholic drinks, and dessert. I'd highly recommend this place if you want casual, but delicious theme park dining. Is it the best theme park restaurant in the world? Heck! I don't know, I haven't tried them all.... :lol: But it is very good. We really enjoyed it.

After lunch we continued our tour around the Islands and stopped at Suess Landing. A neat fact about this island. There are no 90 degree angles anywhere. EVerything you see has some sort of curve to it. it gives the area a very whimsical appearence.

We did run into the Grinch who was very curious about Anna's behavior... :lol:
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Also, a somewhat new attraction has opened in Suess Landing. It rides high above Suess Landing. I believe it opened in the Summer of 2007.
http://i205.photobuc...ture105-2-1.jpg

We left the park around 4:00PM and headed back to the Hard Rock Hotel. We stopped in the lounge and grabbed some snacks and sodas for the room. Kim headed for the Portifino Bay Hotel. She has an appointment at the Mandara Spa. Anna and I headed for the pool. We changed and are now out at the pool.

We don't have much planned for tonight. Once we leave the pool we will head up for evening finger food at the club lounge. I'll probably head down to the Velvet Bar for a few drinks. We may also head back over to the Portifino to do some shopping.

I'll have another update later or first thing tomorrow morning. Thanks for following along.

Next Up:
Universal Studios
Character dinner at The Kitchen
Photos from around the Hard Rock Hotel

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#20 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:53 PM

Nice report. I haven;t been to IOA ever and US when I was like 13 so it was nice to see (even if it is evil :lol: )
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