ADP - Live From Disney World
Posted 02 April 2008 - 07:49 PM
Preliminary Trip Report
Hi Everyone -
ADP is back for another live trip Report. Well, in reality I'm still sitting in my kitchen waiting for tomorrow, but this is a preliminary report.
So here I sit in blustery Central Indiana awaiting tomorrow, April 3rd. Spring Break has arrived at DD7s school system and soon we will be off to Balmy Orlando for 8 days and 7 nights of fun with Mickey and pals. And don't forget Buzz, Woody...You know those Pixar characters who crashed the Disney party about 2 years ago.
Our Family -
Me ADP Aaron
Kim - Wife
Anna - Daughter (celebrating her 8th B-Day)
I hope you will be able to follow along these next 8 days with me as I give you our daily adventures and dining experiences from the parks and resort; pictures included.
We will be staying at 2 resorts during our trip. We are DVC members, but will not be staying on points the first 3 nights. I've booked a standard room at AKL with an AP discount and the Dining Plan. We will then move over to Old Key West for the last 4 nights of our vacation using DVC points.
This trip will mark 2 new firsts for our family. It will be the first time we've used Magical Express and relied only on Disney transportation. We've always rented a car during our previous trips. It will also be the first time we've used the Disney Dining Plan. I always thought the Dining Plan provided too much food for guests; however, I believe everything is worth a try at least once.
Here are the table service restaurants where we will be dining at during the week:
Chef Mickey's - Dinner
Tusker House - Dinner
Sci Fi Dine-In - Dinner
Tutto Italia - Dinner
Ohana - Breakfast
Kona Cafe - Dinner
One more table service to be named later.
I should also note that prior to our trip I was on a strict diet. Its been a wild ride over the past 4 months but I managed to shed nearly 50 pounds and 4 waist sizes from my physich. The one thing you will not hear me say on this trip is "I'm watching what I eat". Sorry, but I'm on vacation! This pilgramage to Disney World will not see me cut calories; especially on the Dining Plan. The diet thing can wait until I get back! "Hey! Can you pass me that Dole Whip"!
We have a tradition in our household that one week prior to our trip to Orlando we create a countdown calendar. Each day DD7 puts a sticker on the calendar noting we are one day closer to our departure. It creates additional excitement prior to our trip....Yea, right, like we need anymore excitement!
As you can tell we are pretty well packed and ready to go. "Hey! Where's the suitcase!!!!" :?
Anna is excited and ready to roll!
I'll post daily updates mostly at night while everything is fresh in my cranium, but sometimes I might post in the morning before heading out to the parks. I hope you enjoy this report as much as I enjoy bringing it to you. If any of you wish to hookup just let me know and we can meet over at the Studios; maybe at the Tune-In Lounge...I'll even buy!
Tomorrow's Adventure -
Anna's 8th Birthday
The Magic Kingdom
A Trip to a Disney Salon
Dinner @ Chef Mickeys
Posted 03 April 2008 - 10:27 PM
We arrived at Indianapolis International at approximately 8:30AM. The weather was supposed to turn ugly later in the day, so we were very anxious to get off the ground ASAP. As it turns out the first hour of our flight was rather bumpy, but tollerable. the last 50 minutes was smooth.
Kim and Anna were excited to be at the airport.
Its really amazing we can be in to different places so quickly.
After we landed we headed straight for the Magical Express check-in desk. I must say I was impressed with the speed of DME. After a 5 minute wait in line I checked-in in less than 90 seconds. The nice CM said to head for the red carpet. What?! Red carpet? What is this the Oscars?! So we headed for the red carpet where we were greeted by another cast member who asked us what resort? We replied AKL and he said line 3 please. Once we got to the line we were called by a DME driver who said "right this way". Our bus was waiting...Awesome!
Our bus had to make 3 resort stops. Unfortunately, our resort was last. First was Pop Century, second was CSR, and third was AKL.
The bus we rode was a Disney Cruise Line bus. It was very nice and spacious. I could actually stretch out which was a nice change of pace from the plane.
Now onto my only DME complaint. The bus was moving very, very slow. I don't think we broke 45MPH the entire trip while on the Greenway. Once I looked out the window and saw a turtle keeping pace with us. Total trip time from the airport to AKL was 50 minutes. Considering we were the last stop it wasn't too bad.
I'd give DME a 7.5 out of 10. My only complaint was the slow speed of the bus and we had a bus driver who was in training. Eveything else went well. Our bags were in our room waiting for us when we returned from the Contemporary.
Check-in at AKL went pretty smooth. We did not have to wait at all for a CM. During the check-in process the CM presented Anna with a birthday card signed by her favorite princess and a birthday button to wear to the MK.
After the CM gave us our room number she sent us on a safari. She gave us directions to our room which seemed odd, but I followed the directions. Come to find out later all we had to do was walk down the steps in the back of the lobby to the second floor and take a left. This was much, much easier. We received an obstructed savanna view room on the Kudu Trail; which was fine by us since we paid for a standard room. Here's the view from our room.
So on we went to the AKL bus depot to head to the MK. This got interesting. The bus was at the depot when we arrived. We hopped on the bus and were the only passengers. One minute later a mother and son jump on the bus and tells the bus driver her husband is in the bathroom and we need to wait for him. The bus driver was ready to pull away before she jumped on. I'm sorry, but why should we have to wait for someone else's breakfast movement...LOL? So we waited about 7 minutes before he finally shows up. I should have asked him if he was feeling ok.
Once we arrived at the MK we were a bit hungry, but since Chef Mickey's was a little later we decided to keep it light with treats from the Main Street Ice Cream parlor. We found a great spot at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station in the shade and enjoyed our root beer floats and rainbow sherbert.
We then headed for Tomorrowland and rode the TTA. We then experienced the Laugh Floor. The MK was crowded today. Getting on headliner attractions would have been tough. Here's the midway between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.
It was now 5:00PM and we needed to get over to the Grand Floridian as we had made a hair appointment for Anna. Since today was her B-Day we let her get her hair braded. The salon at the GF is called Ivy Trellis. They've done Anna's hair before and did a wonderful job. This experience was no exception. Here are a few shots of the appointment with before and after photos.
Once we finished up at Ivy Trellis we headed for the monorail to go to the Contemporary. Our reservation for chef Mickey's was for 7:15. We had some time to kill so we wandered in the game room. At 7:00 we checked-in at the front desk. After our photo with the plate and silverware we waited for 10 minutes before getting seated. I must say the food at the buffet was very delicious. I was very impressed with the prime rib, so much so I had to have another piece. It may have been the best I've ever had.
Serivce was a bit above average but not spectacular. We had to ask for refills a couple times and our server seemed rushed. The characters did pretty well with Anna since it was her B-Day. They did give Anna a cute placemat for her birthday she got to keep.
After we stuffed oursleves like wild pigs we left the Contemporary and took the walking path to the MK bus depot. We waited about 10 minutes for the AKL bus to arrive. We came back to our room to a close-up view of 2 giraffes eating leaves off a tree right near our balcony. It was a perfect end to a wonderful day!
Here are a few more photos from our day.
Pirate Mickey in front of the MK
Share a Dream Come True Parade
Glass Blower Main St. Glass Shop
Marshmellow Rice Krispy treats in the MK Confectionary
New YOMD Signage
Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool
Dinner @ Tusker House
Posted 04 April 2008 - 11:08 AM
Posted 04 April 2008 - 02:38 PM
We just returned from our morning at the Animal Kingdom. First let me say, I'm soaking wet thanks to Kali River Rapids. I was one of the 4 who went backwards down the 25ft hill.... but it was fun!
We started our morning at the Mara. When we walked in around 7:45 it was busy.
We ate very light since we knew we'd be having a counter service lunch later and dinner at Tusker House later tonight. We paid for breakfast out of pocket since it was light and cheap. Of course, I had my Nescafe coffee and it woke me up .
We then headed for the bus depot and arrived at the Animal Kingdom before the park opened. At 8:45 we were allowed to enter the gates. We waked up to Discovery Island where we had to wait until 9:00AM, rope drop. Mickey and Pals did a little skit which opened the park for the day. Afterwards Mickey headed for the Tree of Life and waived to guests entering Discovery Island.
Rope Drop Crowd...A sea of humanity!
Can you see Mickey in front of the Tree of Life waiving a flag?
We headed back to Africa for Kilamanjaro Safaris and got fast passes. The line was already long. I never believe the wait times posted since its so early in the morning, but I could tell from the line it would have been at least a 20 minute wait.
We then headed back through Africa and Asia and went to Dinoland. We experienced Triceritops Spin and Primevil Whirl with very little wait. We then went to Everst and got fast passes. It took 10 minutes to receive a fast pass. It was now time for our Kilamanjaro Safari fastpasses. Here is a pictures of the Ankole Cattle.
We then headed back to Everst as it was time for our fast pass there. After we rode Everst we headed for Kali River Rapids. As I mentioned earlier, well, wet is what we got. But on an 80 degree day today it felt good to get wet. I should mention the weather this morning was beautiful. Clouds have now built up from the heat and humidity of the day, but its still pretty nice out.
After we rode Kali I decided I wanted to try the new Yak & Yeti counter service. I purchased the sweet and sour pork and a piece of mango pie for dessert. I must admit the food was not very good. They serve it to you in a cardboard box. The pork is on top of the white rice. I found it to be tasteless. I should also mention the seating on the side and in the back was completely full. People were standing next to trash bins eating. This is just my opiinion, but I would stear clear of this place for counter service fare.
Here is a shot of the food.
Kim and Anna decided to head to Pizzafari for their lunch....Lucky them! I walked to meet them after I finished and found them in the restaurant. Their dishes looked very good. Kim said her chicken parmasean sandwich was delicious.
We headed to the bus depot and waited 30 minutes for our bus. It really shouldn't take that long to run buses from AKL to Animal Kingdom, but for some reason it did.
We are now about to head down to the pool for a quick swim. I'll post more later.
Couple more photos of the morning:
Devine. She is awesome!
Tree of Life
Posted 04 April 2008 - 03:40 PM
I guess the best alternative would be to grab an order of the green beans to go, and then take it over to Flame Tree for ribs.
Posted 04 April 2008 - 04:57 PM
Posted 04 April 2008 - 06:04 PM
I guess the best alternative would be to grab an order of the green beans to go, and then take it over to Flame Tree for ribs.
I think that is a great description. I never thought of it that way, but I'd agree, the coating on the pork tasted like chicken nugget coating.
Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:42 PM
Hi again everyone.
After our morning trip from Animal Kingdom we went outside to the Uzima Springs pool. If you've never been to this pool it is very, very large. We really enjoy the fact you can swim and a few yards away is a savanna viewing area. The pool slide is fun but certainly not the best on property. There are several chairs and areas to relax.
Photo of the pool this afternoon
The other element of the expansive pool area is the Uzima Springs pool bar. In my opinion this is the best pool bar on property. I love the thatched roof and it is rather large. Large enough to acommodate many guests. The atmosphere is usually festive probably because of the number of people who can sit at the bar area.
Uzima Springs pool bar
After our time at the pool we needed to head back to Animal Kingdom for our 5:00PM dinner ADR at the Tusker House.
On our way to the bus depot our real ride pulled up. We rode to the Animal Kingdom in style....No, not really, but its nice to dream, isn't it.
Let me start off by saying this restaurant is very "Bomaish". For those of you who've dined at Boma at AKL you know what I mean. The flavors of this restaurant are similar. Before checking in we watched the Jammin Jungle parade in Harmbe Village (Africa). Just to let you know I think watching the parade from Harambe provides the best viewing; specifically near the Dawa Bar.
The service we received during our dinner was wonderful. Our waitress Kelly was always available to refill drinks and continually asked us if we needed anything. We found the food to be "adventureous". All of the food was spiced to the "flavors of Africa". I was a little disappointed in the food selection. It seemed limited in my opinion, but the food was good. I would rate the service a 9 out of 10 and the food a 7.5 out of 10.
Our waitress found out it was Anna's B-Day yesterday and she brought her out a very unusual birthday card. This card looked funny to me because it did not have the icon of the 4th Disney World park, the Animal Kingdom. The 3 others were there, but not the Tree of Life. I asked her about that and she said it was an old card. It was made before the Animal Kingdom was built.
Here's the birthday card.
My plate of food from the buffet. The string beans were very flavorful.
Here are some other photos from the restaurant. The buffet area resembles a marketplace and is very expansive. I like the fact the dishes are underneath the food.
After we finished dinner we were going to head for Dinoland, but the heavens opened up on our way. I'm not talking about a simple rain shower, I'm talking monsoon! Think intro to Gilligan's Island when they first got shipwrecked .
We let the rain pass and decided to head back to AKL. It was about 6:30 when we got back. We spent some time walking around the resort. I began thinking about how much longer it would be before visiting Victoria Falls. This is the adult lounge/bar at AKL. I really like this lounge. It's located on the 2nd floor and is somewhat isolated; however, you can hear the noise from Boma one floor below. The decor in the lounge is, in a word, different. It presents itself as a casual bar/lounge and it truly is such.
Here are a couple photos I took from the 3rd floor lobby looking down. Sorry they are a bit dark
The bar area.
Frozen Margarita with Salt
After the trip to Victoria Falls I decided to call it a night. Tomorrow morning would be here before we knew it.
EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Dinner @ Sci-Fi Dine In
A Check on Pixar Place & Toy Story Mania
Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:36 AM
Here's the birthday card.
I got the same kind of birthday card. I can only imagine that it was printed somewhere in the early 90's, long before Animal Kingdom was a glimmer in the Disney developer's eyes, and they must have printed more of those kind of cards than they know what to do with. I mean let's face it, when was the last time you saw Roger Rabbit in a Disney promotion?
Posted 05 April 2008 - 10:22 AM
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!
May 21-28, 2013
Posted 05 April 2008 - 08:26 PM
We are back from our EPCOT and Hollywood Studios visits. Our day was cut a bit short do to some storms that are currently moving through the area.
We started this morning grabbing a light breakfast at the Mara before making our way to the bus depot. Something interesting I'd never seen at a resort bus depot happened this morning. There were 2 cast members at the bus depot interacting with kids in an unusual way. They had a box with secret holes. Inside the holes were mystery items like dinosaur fossils and other bones. The children had to try and guess what they were feeling. I asked one of the cast members when they started doing this and why. She replied "just recently and because some wait times for buses can be long this helps pass the time."
Here's a photo of the experience
We arrived at EPCOT just after the park opened. The topiaries at the entrance to Future World are larger than I expected. This years Flower & Garden festival theme is "Fun in the Sun", but I think it should have been "Bigger is not Necessarily Better." There are fewer topiaries this year than I remember in past years; however, the topiaries are much larger than I remember as well. Unfortunately, we never made it over to the Wonders of Life pavillion where the Flower & Garden festival acitivities take place.
Flower & Garden Program
Here are some shots of the topiaries
Beach Mickey & Minnie with Surfer Goofy
Here's me with beach volleyball Donald and Daisy Duck
Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
I should also mention the park looks beautiful. The flowers are very abundant and well placed. I especially loved the flower patterns and formations along the twin lakes between Future World and World Showcase.
Flowers bordering the lake
Pluto's dog house. I've been in the dog house before!
Probably my favorite Flower & Garden festival element is Minnie's Butterfly Garden. I really enjoy the number of butterflies in the garden/tent. They are some very pretty and unique butterflies as well. I don't know what it is, but when I'm in the garden/tent its leaves me with a very tranquill feeling.
Minnie's Butterfly Garden
Some of the attractions we experienced at EPCOT this morning were Figment, The Seas with Nemo & the Seas Aquarium. We also used fast passes for Soarin and Test Track. I should also mention we just missed dream fast passes from the Dream Squad. As were were exiting the tunnel from the Seas aquarium the Dream Squad just finished handing them out. In fact, I thought we were going to get them since we had exited the tunnel and then the Dream Squad member made the announcement of no more dream fast passes. But, no big deal since we already had fast passes for Soarin and Test Track.
Once we finished in Future World we began making our way around World Showcase. We rode the 3 Cabilleros starring Donald Duck. Once we finished the ride we were getting hungry. I wanted to try the Tangerine Cafe (counter service in the Morocco pavillion) while Kim and Anna chose the Liberty Inn (counter service in the America Pavillion).
The Tangerine Cafe is setup like a cafeteria. There are two lines left or right; however, only one was in operation today. I chose the chicken wrap with a side of Cous Cous, lentel bean salad and Baclava for dessert. All of the food was very spicy, but flavorful. I really enjoyed it. You will need an adventurous pallet for this food. I particularly liked the pita bread served with the chicken wrap.
Here's the food. It looks like a bomb went off in my chicken wrap
Anna, Kim and I met at the Morrocco pavillion and took the boat back to Future World to catch another ride on Test Track. Before riding Test Track we stopped in Mouse Gear (EPCOT's main souvenier shop). Anna found a sparkly silver backpack. When we went to purchase it the Cast Member behind the counter allowed Anna to ring up the sale. She walked her through how to scan it in, push the buttons on the cash register, and scan our credit card. She also received a magical moment certificate for helping out.
Photo of Anna behind the counter at Mouse Gear
Once we finished our ride at Test Track we decided it was time to walk through EPCOT's back entrance in World Showcase and take the boat to Hollywood Studios. We had a 5:00PM ADR at Sci-Fi Dine In plus we wanted to experience a few attractions before dinner.
It was really amazing how it worked out, but from the time we entered the boat to the time we arrived at the Studios it poured rain. When we got off the boat it stopped raining. The crowd at the Studios wasn't light, but not heavy either. I think the rain drove some guests away from the park. Our first stop would be Muppets 3-D, but on our way we got fast passes for Star Tours. I must say I really love the Muppets 3-D preshow. It maybe the best preshow on property. It always seems to pass the time well while waiting for the theater doors to open.
As we heaed for Star Tours I told Kim and Anna I wanted to head for the soon to be Pixar Place and snap a few photos. Kim and Anna went on Star Tours without me while I checked out Pixar Place, the arch entering Animation Courtyard, and the crowd on Hollywood Blvd.
Here are the photos.
The crowd on Hollywood Blvd this afternoon
The arch entering Animation Courtyard is still empty
The construction walls for Pixar Place are still up. I think it was Ronald Reagan who said "Mr. Gorbechav TEAR DOWN THESE WALLS!"
It was now time for our 5:00PM ADR at Sci-Fi Dine In. The theme of this restaurant is similar to an old fashioned outdoor drive-in movie complete with replica cars you actually dine in. There is one large movie screen that shows old horror clips from years past. There are also several movie posters throughout the lobby and inside the main dining area. It is a very unique dining experience. I should warn you the restaurant is very dark. I'm not sure if its so you can't see what you are eating or not... Walking around the restaurant can be dangerous so I would suggest remaining seated in your car.
I ordered the BBQ ribs with french fries and cole slaw. Kim had a grilled chicken sandwich with fruit. We all agreed our food was above average. We wouldn't call it spectacular, but it wasn't bad either. One note, if you wish to order from the lunch menu you may do so during dinner. The lunch menu is much different than the dinner menu. For dessert Kim had the cheescake and I had a chocolate tart which was just ok. I only had 2 bites and left the rest.
Here are some photos from our dining experience.
Front enterance sign
Lobby poster signage
The car you dine in. I was dining shot gun in the back seat.
My plate of food. The BBQ Ribs
While we were dining it was raining outside. As we were about to exit Sci-Fi it was still raining, but it appeared to be slowing down. Lucky for us it did slow down. We were able to walk to the bus depot, hop the bus back to AKL and call it a night. After I finish this report I'll be heading back down to Victoria Falls in hopes to catch the end of the 2nd NCAA National Semifinal game.
Thanks for following along everyone.
Checking in to Old Key West
Another trip to Hollywood Studios
Another trip to EPCOT
Dinner @ Tutto Italia (Italy Pavillion)
Posted 06 April 2008 - 01:21 PM
I love the on vacation reporting. There is something about knowing you're there, while I'm reading this, that makes me feel all good inside. I think you need to get back to the Studios; you're time there was say to short. Try to catch the Hollywood Public Works guys, they start there day in the afternoon. Or the Citizens of Hollywood; they're there all day.
Thanks for sharing.
Mad, Mad, Mad about Disney!
May 21-28, 2013
Posted 06 April 2008 - 07:46 PM
By the way, the one thing I meant to tell you is I'm planning on goint to Mousefest solo this year. If you need help with anything I'm basically volunteering my services with setup, etc. just let me know.
Posted 06 April 2008 - 08:04 PM
We've checked into Old Key West. Here's an update to this mornings activities.
The weather has turned sour this afternoon. It started raining at about 1:30PM and has continued until now.
We started our morning at the Mara again for a light breakfast. After we finished breakfast we went back to our room at AKL for the last time. I called Bell Services to come pick up our luggage and have it transferred to Old Key West.
For those of you who split your stay between resorts this is the best way to get your luggage from one resort to the other. Just keep in mind you may beat your luggage to your next resort. Our luggage did not arrive at Old Key West until 2:45PM. It was funny, but when we were checking in we saw our luggage being unloaded from the AKL van. Anna saw it and yelled "THERE'S OUR LUGGAGE!!" Thanks for announcing it for the whole lobby to hear.
Anyway, we arrived at Hollywood Studios just after it opened around 9:15AM. The park was not crowded at all yet.
Here's a shot of some cement patchwork drying alongside of Hollywood Blvd. As you can see Hollywood Blvd was not very crowded yet.
Attractions we experienced this morning were The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, Muppets 3-D, Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show. and Honey I Shrunk the Playground. The wait times we experienced were minimal. None longer than 15 minutes.
I did bump into Matt, Josh and Sarah today outside of Star Tours. I didn't even notice him, but I heard Matt call my name as I was walking by them. Good thing Josh, Sarah and Matt have better eyes than I do. I really need to start wearing my Studioscentral.com t-shirt in the Studios.
We also caught the High School Musical 2 Pep Rally.
We also saw Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable.
The umbrella seems to be working just fine.
Construction walls on the old ABC theater. Doesn't seem like there's much happening.
For lunch today we chose to dine at the Backlot Express. Let me just say the food was very delicious. In my opinion its the best counter service food at the Studios. I had the Turkey & Swiss sandwich with french fries and a sugar free strwberry parfait for dessert. I apologize, but I got more than half way through the sandwich before I realized I needed to snap a picture. Trust me, it was very good!
The bread was toasted and I believe it is wheat bread. The sugar free strawberry parfait was also very good and very refreshing. I highly recommend this place for quick service dining at the Studios.
So, that's it for now. Quite honestly, I'm not sure we are going to make it to Tutto Italia tonight due to the weather. We may end up cancelling and trying to dine here at Old Key West. I may try and get a last second reservation at Olivia's; which is the sit down restaurant here at the resort.
I'll be posting another report soon.