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ADP - Live From Disney World

#41 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 11:57 PM

queenofthehouse said:

First I have to say "WOW, you do a lot in one day." You really get the most out of your trip, but you must need a vacation after your vacation.

RESORT: I really like the photos of Old Key West; yesterdays photos of the outside and todays photos of the inside. It looks very spacious. Is this a One bedroom? two bedroom? ... The kitchen area is bigger then the one at my house. Anyway, I hadn't really considered this resort before, but now I will. Thanks.

EPCOT: Sergio is really fun to watch, in front of Italy. He always seems to pick me and then makes fun of me (in his silent way) because I can't throw. In that same spot, you can also see the Showcase Players. Did you get to see them? They're always fun too, and very silly.

STUDIOS: I'm glad to see that they reversed the direction of the parade. I usually watched the Motor Cars Parade over by Mickeys of Hollywood but the sun was always to bright to see clearly. So I like that they are moving up the street.

COH: You are the best. I made sure I logged on this morning, before work, just to see your photos. See the COH CM's really helped my day start right. I know I can always look at the tons of photos that I have, but knowing that you are there really makes this way more fun. Did Buckey sing Happy Birthday to your daughter? You forgot something in LeRoy's line: "Small in Name Big in Talent POW"
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Thanks for thinking of me and getting photos of the COH; I really appreciate it. Did you tell them that we said HI (or to Francis that would be "Hay")

I know you planned on going to Animal Kingdom today (Wednesday), so I hope you went to Finding Nemo. This is a great show.

Can't wait to hear all about today's fun.


Hi!
Our room at Old Key is a 1 bedroom. Even the bedroom itself is large.

Sergio was fun to watch. His facial expressions are priceless. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the Showcase Players.

When we are here we just can't wait to get out there. I usually do need a day after our trip to recover from all of the activity. But I wouldn't have it any other way. We love this place. I say it everytime we leave, Someday we'll live here. :D

queenofthehouse said:

Just in case you didn't know his name, it's Vladimir Pooey.

I didn't know that. He didn't tell us his name, he just kept directing people on how to act. He was pretty funny though.
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#42 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 11:19 AM

Sounds like another fun day Aaron. Pecos Bills is the best simply because of the fixins bar. Backlot Express used to have a fixins bar as well but it was removed about 4 or 5 years ago and its missed.
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#43 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 06:06 PM

Hi Everybody,

Can you believe I'm sitting in the food court at the Orlando airport. Our flight is delayed 2 hours and so I decided to write our last day trip report now.

We started our day heading to Animal Kingdom on the bus. We actually skipped breakfast today and decided to hit some attractions before the lines became unmanagable. The weather was very nice this morning. It was one of the hottest days of our trip. The park did not seem too crowded this morning, but crowds built as the morning went along.

Attractions we expereinced today were Expedition Everest, Primevil Whirl, Triceratop Spin, and Finding Nemo the Musical. The Nemo musical was brilliant. The actors and actresses do a really good job with the puppets. This show is a must see if you are in the Animal Kingdom.

Here are some photos from the attractions today.
Going up the lift hill on Primevil Whirl.
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Here's a shot next to Expedition Everest and the prayer flags in Zerk-A-Zong Village near Everest.
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We had 6 counter service credits remaining from our dining plan today. We ate lunch at restaurantasaurus in Dino land. Our bill came to $36 for the 3 of us. Its a very expensive counter service considering they serve some McDonalds products. The food was pretty good, but very basic fare; chicken fingers, hamburgers, french fries, etc.

We spent some time walking around Animal Kingdom today watching some of the street talent. Here are a couple of shots of the street entertainment.
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Jamaican Players
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Afterwards we spent some time going through some of the Animal Kingdom shops and then headed for the bus depot. When we got back to Old Key West we took a leisurly stroll and I snapped a few more photos of the resort.
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We then spent some time near the pool area before our the Magical Express bus arrived. We had 3 more counter service credits left so we picked up some turkey sandwiches for the road.
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Here's a shot of the new chicken nuggets that replaced the strips. Basically, they are the same as the strips except they are in nugget form.
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It was truly a great trip. As we pulled away from Old Key West I already started thinking about our next trip. Thank goodness for DVC. It's allowed us to travel to Disney World more often than we would have without it. We dined at some restaurants we normaly would not have because of the dining plan. I'll have some thoughts about our dining experience tomorrow.

My last post for this trip will reflect on our expereiences with dining, transportation, theme parks, and other observations. I'll post that tomorrow.

Thanks for following along! :lol:
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#44 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 09:39 PM

GREAT report Aaron! I think it was very successful! Have a safe trip home.
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#45 User is offline   queenofthehouse 

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 10:46 PM

Great reports. I truly had fun on your vacation and looked forward to each days reports. It's almost midnight, so I hope you and your family are home safe by now. Hopefully you didn't have your flight with American Airlines. THANKS!
Maureen
(Lowell's Mom)
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!

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

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 12:21 AM

Hey guys...We are back home. Our Southwest flight was delayed because of weather back here in Indy, but it cleared enough for us to get home without too much issue.
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#47 User is offline   queenofthehouse 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 05:35 AM

ADP said:

Hey guys...We are back home. Our Southwest flight was delayed because of weather back here in Indy, but it cleared enough for us to get home without too much issue.

WELCOME HOME!
Maureen
(Lowell's Mom)
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!

May 21-28, 2013
Wilderness Lodge
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#48 User is offline   Ken In Atlanta 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 08:53 AM

Great pics. Thanks for posting them.
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#49 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 11:11 AM

Glad to hear you made it home safely
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#50 User is offline   DebWDW 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 01:27 PM

Your trips reports were great! It was almost as good as being there!
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#51 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 03:26 PM

Hi Everyone,

We made it home from our delayed flight. Apparently, the weather here in Indy wasn't good at the time our Southwest flight needed to leave for Orlando to pick us up. We didn't get back until nearly 12:45AM.

Sadly our trip has come to an end, but we've got some great memories. Fortunately, another trip isn't too far off so we can start our planning. As most of you know it helps to start planning your next trip to get over the depression of leaving your previous trip no matter how far away it is.

Here are some of my thoughts from our trip.

Resorts
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Call me bias, but I love this resort. It is so unique. You cannot get this resort experience anywhere else in the world. My only complaints about this resort are the rooms are somewhat small, but we typically don't spend much time in them. We are usually at the parks or out using the resort amenities. I also wish there were more paths and trails to walk along. The dining at the resort is above average with an upscale restaurant, buffet casual restaurant and a counter restaurant; a nice variety for everyone. The lounge/bar inside the resort provides a nice relaxing retreat after a long day in the parks. The pool area is very large and the pool bar is a nice bonus. I think I could sit in the lobby for hours just relaxing and enjoying the surroundings. Some people will say this resort is remote and away from everything, but I tend to disagree. The Animal Kingdom park is right around the corner. In addition, this resort needs to seem remote in order to enhance its savanna theming. Could you imagine AKL near the Magic Kingdom or Downtown Disney.. :shock: Disney did a great job with this resort and our family loves it!

Old Key West
This was the first DVC resort built. I was concerned the resort would show its age, but quite honestly it is well maintained. Everything looks fresh and new both interior and exterior. The resort is large much like Saratoga Springs in size, but we do enjoy the resort village atmosphere. The resort offers counter service dining with outdoor seating and a small bar/lounge with limited seating as well. The table service restaurant is a nice, relaxing experience with above average food and some nice people who run it. Actually, eveyone at the resort went out of their way to be friendly. They made you feel special! I also love the fact the resort is surrounded by LBV golf course. It is very picturesque and when we go there again I will be requesting a golf course view. The resort main pool is a bit small, but it is made up in the nice size and theming of the pools in the various sections of the resort like the Turtle Pond pool area. The rooms are a huge plus to this resort. They are so large and expansive. Its nice to have space on a vacation and this resort does not disappoint. We thuroughly enjoyed our time here.

Transportation
Magical Express
I must say not having to haul your luggage around was a nice feature of Magical Express. We didn't see our luggage until we got to our room at the Animal Kingdom. On our return trip we needed to keep our luggage with us since Southwest does not participate in the Magical Express resort check-in service. You can still get your boarding passes and use the Magical Express busses, but you can't check your luggage with Magical Express. I hope Southwest becomes a member of this service soon since we use them quite often. One of my dislikes of the Magical Expess service was the speed of the busses. It seemed like we were moving at a snails pace. It normally takes us 20 minutes by rental car from the airport to WDW, but the ME busses took 40 minutes. Not a huge deal, but when you are anxious to get there an extra 20 minutes seems like an eternity :lol: . I'd do ME again for the shear convenience of the service and cost savings of not having a rental car and purchasing gas. I wonder how long this service is going to be free? :D

Resort & Theme Park Transportation
During our entire week we did not encounter a bus taking longer than 20 minutes to arrive. I was worried prior to our trip because Old Key West is a large resort which makes multiple stops along the way at each section of the resort. Call us lucky, but there were times when the bus was waiting for us. :D The busses were clean; however, we did have 2 issues of busses needing to stop because something didn't seem right with brakes, or the bus all of sudden was moving very, very slow and the driver had to stop and restart the bus. I think Disney's fleet of busses is beginning to show its age. If you think about it they run constantly and I can understand why there would be some mechanical problems. Some of the bus drivers were very friendly, while others seemed like they were "animatronic" and didn't say anything. We loved the boat ride from Old Key West to Saratoga Springs and Downtown Disney along the Sassagoula River. It was peacful and relaxing. I think it would be fun just to take the ride without getting off the boat. The boats usually would arrive every 20 minutes at Old Key West. The monorail seemed to run without problem. Again, we never waited long for a monorail to show up. I should also mention all of the transportation we took was very clean. We did not encounter any trash or smells in the monorail trains, busses or boats. All in all our transportation experiences were positive.

Dining
The Dining Plan
This was the first time we ever used the Disney Dining Plan. My suspicians about the plan were right. It's simply too much food. We had a hard time using all of our credits. We found ourselves simply eating to avoid losing credits (force feeding ourselves). I know the plan is designed to save you money, and it did in theory; however, the plan forces you to eat when you wouldn't normally eat. For example, we ate 7 table service meals. On one of our normal trips we would probably only eat 4 table service meals. So, I'm basically paying for 3 more table service meals I wouldn't normally eat and pay for. So, in reality the plan costs me more money. In addition, since you now have to pay for the tip out of pocket the cost of the dining plan has increased. tipping for 7 table service meals in a week is not cheap; especially for a $100 bill. The plan isn't as convenient as you would think. Since you need to use credits you find yourself stopping to eat in order to try and pace yourself of food intake. "Hey! Has anyone seen my feed bag?" :lol: I don't think we'll be doing the dining plan again. I wanted to try it to see what it was like. We'll be sticking with our Disney Dining Experience card in the future.

Table Service Dining
The dining plan did allow us to try some restaurants we would not have normally tried. Let me say I believe our table service dining experiences varied based on the chefs who cooked our food. I also believe to some extent certain restaurants get better quality food; which would enhance your dining experience at that restaurant. Here is how I rated our table service restaurant experiences with food and service.
1. Kona Cafe - Excellent food and dessert choices. We'll be going back soon!
2. Chef Mickeys - The prime rib was the best I've ever had.
3. Ohana - Great service. A great breakfast starting your day off right.
4. Olivia's - The food was good, but the service was even better.
5. Tusker House - Average service with slightly above average food.
6. Sci-Fi Dine In - A unique restaurant with average food and average service
7. Tutto Italia - Not a bad experience, but for the price it should be better. A good dining plan restaurant.

Counter Service
Let me say right off the bat the cost of dining at a counter service restaurant at Disney World has increased significantly. I can recall about 5 years ago the cost of the 3 of us dining at a counter service restaurant was a little over $20. Most of our meals this trip cost over $35 :shock:. For example, our bill was $36 at Restuaranasaurus yesterday for mostly McDonald's branded food. Again, the dining plan did save us money; however, I would have never had 7 counter service meals without the dining plan. So, in reality, it cost us more money. Look, I understand everything goes up in price, but at the rate Disney is raising their prices being able to afford a trip to Disney World will almost be impossible for the average family. Remember when going to a professional sporting event used to be somewhat affordable....Today? Forget about it! I'm seeing this same, alarming trend at Disney parks; ticket prices included! The counter service food is not bad, but nothing exceptional.
Here's how I rate our counter service meals.
1. Backlot Express - Quick line during ordering process and surprisingly good food. A nice place to eat.
2. Casey's Corner - Great location, Still good food despite the bun fiasco.
3. ABC Commisary - Nice choices, very large seating area above average food.
4. Tangerine Cafe - Very good choices and decent food. Service was a bit unorganized.
5. Good's to Go @ Old Key West - Limited seating, decent food, slow service.
6. Restaurantasaurus - Overpriced McDonalds food, but nice fixings bar.
7. Yak & Yeti Counter Service - Pretty disappointing, the seating area was terribly unorganized, the chinese boxed food was not very good. Pass this place up; especially in the summer months.

Theme Parks
All 4 of the theme parks look to be in great shape. I didn't see much evidence of wear and tear. Whoever does the horticulture (sp) at Disney World does a great job. You would expect EPCOT to look beautiful with the Flower & Garden festival, but the other 3 parks' landscaping were very well done too. The only word I can use to describe the parks is beautiful. I should also mention the lines although they were long were not longer than I thought for Spring Break. It seemed to me the parks were not as busy as I would have expected for this time of year. However, waiting in line for 90 minutes to ride Test Track doesn't make sense to me, but guests will do it. I understand this is a busy time of year, but its hard to enjoy a theme park in the middle of the afternoon when the lines are out the door. Unforuntately, fastpass is your only option if you were lucky enough to get one. As long as Disney continues to build new attractions it should help, but I wish they would build them a little quicker to help thin the wait times a bit. A 5th theme park? It's needed in my opinion, but Bob Iger has already said "no new theme parks in the forseeable future." I tend to believe him. In the meantime we'll have to do with the new attractions at the existing parks like Toy Story Mania.

Year of a Million Dreams
This is a great promotion and passing along a little joy and happiness to a family is terrific. But, there are a few things I need to say about it. I think the prize give-a-way portion of the promotion has some transitional issues. Here's what I mean. I've seen issues with dream squad cast members handing out or awarding prizes to guests in the presence of several other guests. We saw the dream squad quite a bit this trip. When we walked out of the Seas aquarium the dream squad was there handing out dream fastpasses. We walked out of the aquarium, then the dream squad cast member says we don't have anymore passes to hand out. But, wait a minute! we were already here. Where's our passes? "Sorry we are all out". The dream squad seems to hang around longer than they should after fiinishing handing out prizes. In the case of Pirates of the Caribbean we saw a major prize get awarded...Again there were several people huddling around the dream squad watching what was going on. People were trying to ask questions to the dream squad while they were introducing themselves to the family who won. I sort of think they should have taken them backstage as soon as possible instead of hanging around with the family and doing introductions right there at the unloading dock of Pirates. Who knows it could get a bit dangerous. This is not a case of "sour grapes", but just something more we noticed.

A Reflection
We had a wonderful time as you'd expect. For us what makes Disney World special besides just being there is getting to experience some different and unique elements of what Disney World has to offer. The dining plan and the magical express experiences were different and enlightening at the same time. Everything looked beautiful at the parks and resorts. The weather was rainy at times, but the temps were picture perfect all week; not too hot and not too cool. Our DVC membership is priceless. Without it we would be visiting the parks and resorts much less than we do today. The DVC resorts are well maintained. If you are a family who loves to vacation to the Disney parks you really need to look into this program. The cast members at Disney seem to be going out of there way to be friendly. I spoke with a number of Cast Members on this trip who were really kind and enjoyed just talking in general. Disney makes everything as convenient as possible; which is part of the reason I enjoy returning over and over. There is so much to do in such a small proximatey. Plus, they transport you whenever you are ready to go. Its quite a nice system Disney World has in place to accommodate guests. I'm sure the cost of all of this convenience is built into the price of the vacation, but it is nice to have it.

Thanks for all of the kind comments during this report. It was nice conversing with all of you as we experienced our trip. I hope it was as fun for you as it was for us to bring it to you. :D

Next Trip
July 14th - July 22nd
Wilderness Lodge Villas

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#52 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 04:23 PM

Regarding dining, you're spot on about Backlot Express and ABC Commissary. Excellent choices. Sci-Fi, as I've said about a billion times, stinks (your review was too nice).

And I'm glad you see the point I've always had with the Dining Plan. Lots of food you wouldn't ordinarily order so savings can't compare since you wouldn't order that food in the first place.
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#53 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 09:01 PM

QuickGold said:

Regarding dining, you're spot on about Backlot Express and ABC Commissary. Excellent choices. Sci-Fi, as I've said about a billion times, stinks (your review was too nice).

And I'm glad you see the point I've always had with the Dining Plan. Lots of food you wouldn't ordinarily order so savings can't compare since you wouldn't order that food in the first place.


You're right on Matt. We'll be using the DDE from now on. You've got to love the flexibility of it. I just hope Disney doesn't discover how nice it is for passholders and Florida residents to have it and then somehow find a way to jack up the cost of owning a DDE card. Wishful thinking on my part.
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#54 User is offline   queenofthehouse 

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 06:44 AM

ADP said:

You're right on Matt. We'll be using the DDE from now on. You've got to love the flexibility of it. I just hope Disney doesn't discover how nice it is for passholders and Florida residents to have it and then somehow find a way to jack up the cost of owning a DDE card. Wishful thinking on my part.

It always interests me, but when I add it up I just can't justify getting the Free Dining. I've had the DDE and the only thing is that it's not available in as many places as the Free Dining Plan, like park counter service (which is where we eat most of the time).
Maureen
(Lowell's Mom)
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!

May 21-28, 2013
Wilderness Lodge
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