englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)
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    englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Salutations!

    What's a Surf and Turf? Well, stick around, you are about to find out!

    So, the trip has finally started! This first leg of the trip consists of a flight from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. Here, I will meet up with the kid and her mom, and we'll crash for the night at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, two stops on the Metro (DC's Subway System) from Reagan National.

    But, I get ahead of myself. Let me introduce ourselves for those who don't know about me, and / or didn't follow along with the Pre-Trip report!

    I'm englanddg. <waves hello>

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2835/9...d06c6c12_o.jpg

    And this is my 8 year old daughter, Kaylee (a.k.a. KK, "the Kid" or "Kiddo").

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3786/9...bf936437_o.jpg

    As you can see, we both like T. Rowe Price Piggies!

    Oh, you want to know my age? Well, lets just say I'm old enough...<grin>

    So, some history...well...we have been going annually to Disneyworld since 2010, and each trip has been different and more fun than the last.

    2010 - First Trip as a Parent
    This first year we stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort for 14 days. I had been many times before (my Grandparents lived near Ocala, and I had a Florida Residents Annual Pass), but that was my first trip taking the kid, and as a parent.

    Here's a picture of what happens when you don't finish your Turkey Leg.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7454/9...0ca3b2c9_o.jpg

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7402/9...abbdf429_o.jpg

    And, of course...before my Kid turned to the DARK SIDE (keep going, intrepid readers, the answer awaits!)

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3760/9...129f8632_o.jpg

    Oh, and here's one of my videos commemorating that trip:



    Yes, that's right, I'm one of those people who likes to make funky you tube videos about my trips. Some people trip report, some people organize photos and make scrapbooks...I edit videos!

    2011 - Kid, Mom and Uncle!
    In 2011, I took the kid on a tour of DC for a few days. We did the Smithsonian, the tour of the Capital Building, and a bunch of other things. Then, we flew back to Atlanta for a few weeks, and then on to Orlando for another 14 days at Caribbean Beach Resort.

    I had told her we were "meeting Mommy", which technically wasn't false. This trip was special because her Mom and then 10 year old Uncle joined us halfway through. But, the kid had no idea we were going to WDW, and even less idea that's where Mommy was going to meet us!

    We surprised my daughter by meeting up secretly at the Castle right before Wishes. The kiddo had no clue, and freaked out. Of course, I got it on video...and...it came out terrible! The lights had already shut off for the show, so you couldn't see anything.

    This is her Uncle, though he will not be joining us this trip, just thought I'd give him a little shout out.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7430/9...a4b13364_o.jpg

    Here's a bonus picture of Darth Kiddo (her Mom is in the background). SEE, I TOLD YOU SHE TURNED TO THE DARK SIDE!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5329/9...5cf48aa9_o.jpg

    And, of course...I made a video for this trip!



    2012 - Dancing around the Disney World
    The kiddo stayed with me the whole summer last year, and we started it with a blast, going to see the Cirque de Soleis Immortal Tour in Atlanta.

    Here she got her Michael Jackson hat...one of her most treasured posessions (I kid you not).

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7255/7...0936d35a_o.jpg

    We stayed late and watched them strike the show, which, considering I used to do stagework, was fun to watch. That's what is going on behind her.

    So, for that years trip to "The World", we decided to do something different. So, we did 3 days at Universal Studios, staying at the Royal Pacific. We also did 11 days at Disney, staying at Pop Century. It was also the first trip I told her in advance we were going (this year I did not, having learned my lesson!)

    Oh, and that was also the first trip I wrote a complete trip report for, live, while I was there...which is what I will endeavor to do again this trip.

    You can read it here.

    http://www.talkdisney.com/forums/trip-reports/48280-englanddgs-magical-mystery-tour-trip-report.html


    Also, there is a reason that it was called the "Dancing" trip...because...well...we DANCED!



    That trip was loads of fun. I tried to be good, I really did...but, well, if anyone has ever thought that the marketing on the Magical Express ride back to Orlando Airport didn't work, think again!

    I decided this coming year, we'd change it up even more. We'd do a DISNEY CRUISE!

    A few weeks later, I had us booked in a Veranda Room on the Disney Fantasy, sailing out in a year. I also booked a split stay at WDW, for various reasons which I will get into in a moment.

    And so, friends...that brings us to today, read on.

    Pre-Trip Plans - Surf and Turf Adventure
    So, I'm sure the question is burning, at least for some of you. Why is this a "Surf and Turf". Well, the phrase (at least in the United States) refers to a meal where seafood (surf) and meats grown on land (turf) is served together. Normally you will see it with steak, paired with some seafood like shrimp or lobster (mmm.mmm).

    The basic idea is you get the best of both worlds on a single plate. However, to explain why I use the term, lets look at the planned itinerary, shall we?

    8/1 - Fly to DC, stay a night in the Ritz Carlton Hotel at Pentagon City (where I write you from tonight) to pick up the kid.

    8/2 - Red eye flight to Orlando International Airport. 6:40a, my body is not made for such hours, but we shall persevere! Though I will be a walking zombie in the morning merely capable of movement due to the high amount of caffeine I will consume in the morning, it will be worth it to have an early arrival in Orlando, and be able to squeeze in a day a the Magic Kingdom.

    We will be staying at the Contemporary Resort for one night. Oh, and we also got selected for MyMagic Plus / Magicbands / FastPass Plus testing for this short stay!

    8/3 - This morning we will dine with Mickey and the Gang at Chef Mickeys, and then Disney Transit will take us to Port Canaveral to catch up with the sweet mistress of the seas, the Disney Fantasy!

    8/4 - Day at sea on the Fantasy. No idea what we are going to do (that's part of the fun though, when you think about it...)

    8/5 - Grand Cayman Islands - Here we will be doing a port excursion of the Atlantis Submarine Expidition. A neat little sub will take us around the reef. Should be loads of fun...plus, I have a soft spot in my heart for Submarines. That night I have dinner at Remy. I'm a bit bummed that the kid won't be able to join me, and if they'll let me I may cancel once we get on the cruise...but then again, I'm a touch of a foodie and would love the experience. So, we'll see.

    8/6 - Costa Maya - Another Port Excursion, this time focused on the educational side (I think). We are going to tour the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins.

    8/7 - Cozumel - Here we will be swimming with the Dolphins. My kid isn't the strongest swimmer, but she got the doggy paddle down last year. I'll work with her a bit before this excursion to make sure she's comfortable while we are out there. If not, I'm sure they have a "chicken exit"! <grin>

    That night is the Pirate Deck Party (ARRRR, Avast, and all that piraty gibberish!) The kid and I both have costumes for that. I won't post pictures of what I got here, so, you'll have to wait for those to come!

    8/8 - At Sea - We have nothing planned for this day, maybe check out a show? The Navigator on the ship will help us decide, I'm sure. Even if we just relax and hang out that's still good, because there's only one stop left before heading back to the turf!

    8/9 - Castaway Cay - Here we will spend time at the beach, do a Glass Bottom boat tour (I'm hoping they take us over some of the neat things that are sunk in the Cay there) and that night I have dinner at Remy.

    8/10 - Alas, the end of the "surf" portion of the trip has come. From here, we will take our hopefully not sunburned bodies and relax on Disney Transit as we are transported to our next leg of the trip. Port Orleans French Quarter!

    Upon check-in, we plan to head over to EPCOT. I have reservations at the Biergarten (Germany Pavilion), and dinner at Marrakesh.

    8/11 - Animal Kingdom today! We have breakfast at Tusker House, lunch at Yak and Yeti, and dinner at Jikos. This is almost a play by play repeat of a day we did last year that we thoroughly enjoyed (except, we did extra magic hours at Magic Kingdom after Jikos...and I lost my camera! If you want to find out if I ever got it back, scroll up and read my trip report from last year! <grin>)

    8/12 - Lunch with an Imagineer at the Hollywood Brown Derby. This I may cancel, as we did it last year too...but if that happens I'll do it either tomorrow or Saturday (hard to do it from the boat!)...so, be aware of that.

    Dinner at Rose and Crown for Illuminations.

    8/13 - Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant (one of our mutual favorites) and dinner at Le Cellier.

    8/14 - LEGOLAND! I'm not sure yet if I will take the optional shuttle they offer, or if I will rent a car for that day.

    8/15 - Free day (general plan is to go to Ft. Wilderness, ride some horses, go fishing, and do some archery. Possibly lunch at Whispering Canyon.

    8/16 - Another Free Day. Water Parks, perhaps. DTD for shopping. Not sure.

    8/17 - Lunch at Chefs de France. Now, I didn't have the best experience here last year, but the kid really wanted to see Remy. We didn't, because I didn't think he would have such a strict schedule (busy rat!). So, this year, I have corrected for my poor planning last year!

    8/18 - ANOTHER Free Day. As you can see, towards the end of the trip I learned my lesson from last year. Last year, I had every day planned out with two, or sometimes even three meals. I was attempting to make the most of my Deluxe Dining Plan (something I didn't manage to do)...

    However, the trip felt rather rushed and hectic as a result. So, this year, I'm trying to hold back and allow the trip to naturally slow itself down before we get to the end...which is...

    8/19 - Breakfast at Crystal Palace. We'll leave our bags with Bell Services and spend half a day at the Magic Kingdom, leaving after the 3p parade as we do every trip to head back to the airport. We fly back to DC, where I will squat for a night at the Doubletree in Crystal City (also near Reagan National), and then fly back to Atlanta the following morning to head back into...well..."normal life".

    So, that's quite a lot for this post, but I think I have you caught up to where I stand today.

    Day 1 - Luggage and Damage and Tears, Oh My!

    (sounds upbeat for a first trip post, eh? Just wait...!)

    So, first, I want to clarify, this is a LIVE trip report. Meaning, you are not reading about my experiences a few months, weeks or even days ago. This is what happened to me today, or maybe what is even happening now.

    Most days I will endeavor to at least give you a summary style post like this. It may include pictures at the time of posting, or they may come later. At other times, you may get smaller updated from me throughout the day as things happen and I have time to gather my thoughts.

    Also, something that I picked up from another trip report that I've carried through to mine are daily metrics. I like doing them, because I think it's neat. And that's reason enough! <grin>

    So, for this years trip report, these are my metrics.

    Magic -
    These will be times when staff (Disney or non-Disney) go above and beyond to make my trip truly magical for either myself, my daughter, or both of us. They may not always be obvious actions, or cutsy things. Sometimes, the best magic is when the chips are down and someone saves the day. More on that later though...<grin>

    Peeves -
    These are things that I didn't like, or got under my skin. To qualify as a "peeve", it must be something that bothered me enough to where I wasn't able to shrug it off after a few minutes, or something that occurred repeatedly throughout the day / trip. Note, these are purely subjective observations on my part.

    Breakfast -
    What we had for Breakfast

    Lunch -
    What we had for Lunch

    Dinner -
    What we had for Dinner

    Snacks -
    Well...I think you get the point by now...

    Remaining Deluxe Dining Credits -
    These are the Remaining...er...yeah, again, you get the idea.

    Steps -
    This year I brought a fitbit pedometer. It will let me know (at least with some proximity to a true number) the number of steps, the distance walked, and the calories burned. So, new to this report, I'll let you all know how much exercise you really CAN get at the World! <grin>So, moving on, here's my first "metrics header" for this report.

    Magic - 2 (Seeing the Kid...AirTran)
    Peeves - 3 (Starbucks, DC Metro...AirTran)
    Breakfast - Glass of OJ and a cup of coffee (me)
    Lunch - California Avocado Sandwich from Atlanta Bread Company (me)
    Dinner - Bacon Cheeseburger with Onion Rings and Fries from Johnny Rockets (me)
    Snacks - 1 bag of airline pretzels with a coke, 2 coffees and 1 Vanilla Latte from Starbucks (me)
    Dining Credits - 6 TS, 4 Snack for first leg, 54 TS, 36 Snack for third leg
    Steps - 25,372 / 10.05 mi / 4,027 cal
    This morning started like most others, with one exception. I woke up two hours early to give the house a final clean, make sure all the windows and doors were double locked, and all lights and electronics were unplugged or turned off (outside of my computer, which never gets shut down, plus I'll need access to it during the trip).

    The previous few weeks I've been eating up all my leftovers, and last night (Weds, 7/31) I did the final clean out of my fridge of all perishable items.

    So, luggage in the car, I headed off to work. Now, I should have known better, when I planned these dates a year ago, than to my departure on the first of the month! It's month end! Of course things are hectic around the office, and I generally get dragged into it!

    Today was no exception. It started with a phone call at 8:30a, and I rushed into the office a bit early, determined to put out fires before they started so my plans would not be crunched. The extra effort worked, and by early afternoon I had things calmed down again (though, I did end up picking up a coding project which I have to crunch out tonight for tomorrow morning, but that's ok...it's not very difficult).

    I had planned to leave for the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the Atlanta Subway) at noon, but I didn't get over there until 2p. A co-worker dropped me off, and I left the company car I drive at the main office. Yes, I don't own a car for day to day travel, I use a company car. For day to day stuff, I ride this...a bike.
    http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6172/6...7d023ff0_o.jpg

    Vroom vroom!

    The ride on the MARTA was uneventful, though I did run into a rather colorful character who shared my car (sitting in the back of it) who was playing the harmonica and singing the blues.

    I would have video taped him or taken a picture, but something told me that wasn't the right action to take...so I just listened. He was actually pretty good, and also fairly obviously homeless. However, he was not begging, just playing and singing, and most of the people on the car seemed to enjoy his free entertainment as well.

    At Midtown station, he departed our car, walking to the front humming to himself, then turning around and announcing to us all..."Thank you for your ears, my friends. I'm the One-Eyed Blues Man, they call me." He smacked his nearly toothless lips, and then added with a wink "Look me up on the youtubes, I'm ALL OVER!". He bowed, and departed the car.

    I believe he got onto the car in front of us, as I swear I heard lilting harmonica music as we headed further into the south part of the city, but I'm not sure.

    Public transit, oh the sights you'll see!

    I'll skip ahead for a moment to let you all know, yes, I did actually look him up on youtube, but couldn't find anything. I also googled, thinking maybe there had been a human interest story or blog done on him somewhere, but that also proved fruitless. So, wherever you are One-Eyed Blues Man, thanks for a memorable trip to the airport! Hopefully I may see you again some day when I have some cash in my pocket or a sandwich in my bag to share.

    When I got to the airport, check in went smoothly. In fact, the guy who checked me in was the same man who helped me out last years trip when we had so much trouble with Delta, and I ended up booking a last minute flight (as in...buying tickets from the ticket counter) at AirTran. He gave my kid and her Minnie Doll a set of wings. It's in my trip report from last year if you want more details.

    But, when you have an experience like that, you don't forget the face. And, it was nice to see him again. As usual, he was jovial, with sly jokes, and a polite, but extremely efficient manner. I watched him clear 2 - 3 people for every one the other kiosks were. Star employee there! I can see why he's still around!

    Bags checked, I had a few hours to kill, and I was famished. So, I went over to go say hi to "Henry". Henry is a Yangchuanosaurus (say that 10 times fast!). I just call him Henry, because he looks like a Henry to me. Seeing him always means I'm "home"...so, I like to pay my respects.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3737/9...f0b0df46_o.jpg

    Famished, I headed over to a regular stop for me when I'm in the ticketing and baggage terminal in ATL...Atlanta Bread Company. Today, I opted for a California Avocado sandwich. It has Avocado, Tomato, diced red onion, provolone cheese served on a tomato onion focaccia bread with dill sauce.

    Sounds good, yes? Well, take a look.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3695/9...5fd7d719_o.jpg

    I think someone sat on my sandwich! What type of "panini presses" are they using there anyhow! <grin>

    Even though the sandwich looked a mess, it tasted very good. The avocado was obviously freshly sliced for my sandwich (or sliced very recently), and they didn't skimp on it. The bread was good, but I think they left off the tomatoes that are supposed to be baked in on top (at least that's what the picture has...). The Dill Sauce was the most disappointing, as it just tasted like a bland mayo with dill (granted, fresh dill) blended in it. It looked good, but didn't really add much to the sandwich.

    The Kettle Chips, made exclusively for Atlanta Bread, were bland and needed salt, which I added. But, that still didn't help them much, and I ended up only eating a few. The dill pickle was...a dill pickle.

    So, lunch finished, off to TSA. Nothing remarkable here, except that I happened to choose the one line where both the metal detector AND the backscatter machine broke down at the same time.

    And, due to how things are at Hartsfield, once you are in your "TSA line"...you can't get out. So, a bunch of us stood there, no shoes on...waiting...while they fixed the machine.

    The TSA was it's normal mix of friendly people, indifferent people, and people who look like you just stole their lollypop. <sigh> That must be a tough job to do...and it must be a boring job to do. I'll just leave it at that.

    Ok, here's Peeve #1 - Starbucks
    All I wanted was a cup of coffee. There were three Starbucks within a few minutes walk from my gate, and all of them were packed. I didn't want a double whip frap macchiato egomeister venti. I just wanted some black coffee.

    So, I went to the other restaurants in the concourse, and only found one that had "coffee" on their menu (a Uno's pizza shop)...but, guess what...they've stopped selling coffee! Now, I'm not much of one for conspiracies...but could Starbucks have possibly gotten the airport authority to give them a monopoly on steaming hot cups of joe? Hrm...something to ponder.

    Anyhow, I ended up going to Starbucks (mind you, I don't dislike Starbucks, I just found it annoying to wait that long for a simple coffee while other people tied things up getting their super special drinks!). While in line, I noticed something...

    Take a very close look next to the "Coffee" part of the menu...where it just says "Coffee"...

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2841/9...40585eb7_o.jpg

    Since when is a small coffee 180 calories? Or a large one 350 calories? What exactly are they putting into their steaming hot black cups of Joe!?!?

    Anyhow, I had more time to burn, so I walked the whole concourse all the way down to the new International Terminal, and it is just a wonderful as I've heard. Lots of natural light, very comfortable feeling, etc.

    Along the way I ran into my favorite African Sculpture of the whole collections. Oh...African Sculptures? Well, the Atlanta Airport has a vast collection of African Art that was put in around the 1996 Olympics. It's been there so long now, I can't remember a time when it wasn't there.

    Anyhow, this one is called Water Spirit. Do you see her?

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3786/9...af872bb2_o.jpg

    So, Peeve #2 - AirTran
    This is a minor peeve, but one all the same. I couldn't hear the gate agent as she was announcing boarding zones. In fact, many of us couldn't, because people kept asking each other. So, nitpick perhaps, but you would think that it would be part of the training for a gate agent not to mumble (because, it wasn't her sound equipment that was malfunctioning!)...

    The flight was great, and I did Gogo Internet as I normally do. Something about surfing the web at 30k feet is great fun to me! But...then again, something about surfing the web at all is great fun to me, so I'm not sure that's saying much.

    Upon landing, I got in touch with the kid's mom to find out she was having a rough day, and was very much off schedule. She said she would be late dropping the kid off, and that I should go ahead and check in at the hotel, and she'd keep me posted.

    <---------------------Fast Forward a few Hours---------------------->

    Well, I'm still waiting for Mom to drop the kid off. It's 1:30 am, and she's apparently doing "last minute packing".

    Well, such is her way, and she did have a hectic day. But, I get ahead of myself.

    So, with the new plan being that I'd head over to the hotel, I can't say I was upset. I was tired and wanted a shower after a long day of travel (and lots of not mandatory walking...which I enjoyed non-the-less). Atlanta Airport is huge. It is the busiest Airport in the world, and it's size reflects that status. So, needless to say, I had quite the workout today.

    I get to the baggage claim and my second back, a garish looking pink zebra stripe ordeal which was left over from one of my kids previous trips, and this year I will be using it to send souvaniers back with her, plopped onto the turnstile.

    Now, things were confusing. Why? Because there are only two baggage claim turnstyles in this part of the Old section of Reagan National. Two turnstyles for all Frontier, Southwest and Airtran flights to use. And, tonight, ONE of them was broken! So, 4 flights worth of luggage were coming off at the same time. It was sheer chaos!

    But, I managed to nudge my way in and snag my second bag...but what about my primary one? The one with all my clothes and toiletries in it? I waited...and waited...and waited...and it never appeared.

    I went to Baggage Assistance, and spoke with a very nice CSR named Nancy. She took my information, gave me the baggage loss claim printout, and told me that she was fairly confident that it would come in on one of the two later flights coming from Atlanta (one at 9:45, the other at 11:45). Of course, it's only 6:30 or so at this point, and this left me quite flummoxed!

    Luckily nothing in the bag is truly irreplaceable for the trip. All my electronics, important trip papers, etc., I carried on with me (another reason to do so!), but given that I would be flying out the next morning at 6:50a, this was cutting it a bit close!

    Not much I could do at this point but wait. I decided to go for a short walk to calm down, and while outside, I ran into Ronnie himself! Say hello to the Gipper everyone!

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3769/9...aa146196_o.jpg

    Then I walked through the Old Reagan Terminal building (one that I find quite wonderful, I wish they would finish the renovations on it...), and hopped across the street to the Metro (the DC Subway) station.

    The station and subway was dirty and trashy as always...no surprises there. One Peeve came up...I don't like how the Metro handles their ticketing at all. They do it in a similar fashion to how the Jersey Turnpike works for tolls. You are charged different amounts based on how far you ride. While I'm sure this isn't an issue for residents, this makes it very difficult for visitors to quickly figure out how much they need on their card.

    Of course, I'm sure Metro doesn't mind that many visitors, like me, then opt for the one day $14 pass, as it's just easier than trying to figure out all the routes you may potentially take. MTA in NYC does a similar thing, but for some reason I found theirs easier to use. MARTA, in Atlanta, simply charges you trips.

    So, you can travel as far as you like on the subway as one "trip", but once you get off, you'll need another "trip" to get back where you came from. I really like this method. It's easy. In addition, Metro charges you an extra dollar for "paper tickets"...but their plastic reusable ticket (which I would keep and use on future visits) costs $10! In Atlanta, they give you the plastic refillable "Breeze" card for free.

    Anyhow, gripe over.

    Two stations later, I'm up the escalator and in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton. Grade A service, but with a pleasant manner. When asked about my flight, I had mentioned they had lost one of my bags, and so far all of the staff who has seen me tonight has somehow found out and keeps asking me about it. Man, that is Guest Service!

    Not that there is anything they can do, but the fact they even pretend to be interested in my plight is worth something, don't you think?

    Now, here comes a funny little thing about this hotel. When I checked in, the Desk Clerk mentioned something about needing my room key to get into "level security"...I figured there was a keycard door or something on each level outside of the elevators. Ok, no biggie, I can figure it out.

    I didn't realize that the key card security was IN the elevators! To make matters more confusing, the elevator will open when you press the call button, and when you get in, after a period of time will close...but it won't go anywhere unless you put your key card into the slot, slide it out (like you would use it in a room door), get the green light, and THEN you can select your level.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3766/9...7147cd2e_o.jpg

    I stood there, in an immobile elevator mashing buttons like a fool and wondering if I was stuck...until eventually another Guest of the hotel pushed the call button and the doors opened. Thankfully, he explained to me how it works (chuckling to himself...though I will admit, it was a mutual chuckle.)

    Also, wanna talk about posh? Even the elevators have chandeliers!

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3706/9...76bac97d_o.jpg


    The room is nice, but nothing to write home about (or to spend to long talking about here). I've stayed in nicer rooms for the rate I'm paying, but this was a prepaid room deal, so <shrug> Frankly, I think the Royal Pacific at Universal Studios is a LOT nicer than this room, as was the Disneyland Hotel in California.

    Here, judge for yourself.

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2840/9...f4583308_o.jpg

    One thing I do note about this hotel is that they nickle and dime you for everything. They have refreshments in the room, that cost money. They have free internet in the lobby, but it's $14.99 in the room per 24 hours. For a hotel that has a single night rack rate around $350 a night, I really wish they wouldn't do this sort of thing.

    But, then again, I guess they are thinking, "people who stay here already have enough money that another few bucks won't kill em!". Yeah, well, that's not me. I stayed here for one reason. Proximity to the Metro and the Airport, and frankly, I should have stayed over in Crystal City, now that I've had the chance to walk the area and see where the other hotels I looked at online are truly situated with respect to the Crystal City / Pentagon City Metro Stations.

    But, water under the bridge. I would not choose to stay here again, nor would I recommend it (outside of the great guest service and lively bar/restaurant downstairs) to anyone else when compared to other outstanding hotels in the same general area.

    So, moving on.

    Time to burn. I decided I should go walk the Pentagon City Mall. I was weighing heavily if I should do some shopping while here to replace items in my currently lost luggage, as shopping at Disney without a car would prove...troublesome for our plans tomorrow.

    I opted not to, though I came very close several times to picking up a few outfits and a duffel bag "just in case"...

    Pentagon City is one of my favorite Malls in the country. It goes back to when I was a kid growing up in this area and the Mall was still relitively new. I remember as a young Boy Scout volunteering with other members of my troop to open doors here for Christmas Shoppers during "the season", and aside from Tysons Corner II, it was my favorite place to visit. Largely due to it's sheer size.

    Some of you may recognize the mall from a rather "fantastic and awesome" (quotes intended) movie starring Sinbad that came out many years ago called "First Kid"

    You may remember the big ending scene where the President's kid was kidnapped, and Sinbad, as a secret service agent, was rushing around a mall to save him. Well, that was filmed at Pentagon City. Here...

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3703/9...c5946fac_o.jpg

    This movie was AWESOME! <yeah...that's a word for it!> It even gives Sharknado a run for it's money (speaking of which, I wonder if Sharknado will be such a socially influintial word in 5 years that it is today...something inside me says it won't, and this reference will be lost on later readers, so...if you don't know what it is...google it!)

    There's a restaurant in the food court called Johnny Rockets that harks back to classic american diner food, including the decor. Anyone have a nickle for the jukebox?

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3744/9...a6c39057_o.jpg

    I've found the food is hit or miss, but the kid loves to eat here (especially the hand spun milkshakes), so since this is normally where we eat when we are together, I thought it appropriate (plus, nothing else in the food court really appealed to me).

    I got a Single Bacon Cheeseburger with chedder cheese, lettuce, tomato, white onion and extra mayo, along with a side of 1/2 Onion Rings, 1/2 fries. All to go. My plan was to go up to the room and type up the first parts of this report while eating...anything, really, to keep my mind off the missing kid (Mom still running behind) and the missing luggage!

    So, that's what I did.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3750/9...68f00ba8_o.jpg

    The burger tasted better than it looks...

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7404/9...2d70c68e_o.jpg

    The onion rings were pretty good, and I ended up finishing those, but the fries were dry...and not in a good way. I ate a few of those and didn't finish them.

    At this point, I'd done a few of the earlier posts, and decided that I needed to do something to get some of the restlessness out. So, I went for a walk. A rather long walk (partially because I got lost, thank you iPhone for finding me a way back!). The area is nice, and I learned where some of the other hotels I had looked at are online and in relation to the Pentagon City / Crystal City stops on the Metro. I mentioned this earlier.

    When I got back, it was nearly midnight. Still, no kid. I was about to cross the street to go back inside the Ritz-Carlton, and my phone rang.

    They had FOUND my luggage! They informed me they will hold it there and I may pick it up in the morning when we go to check in for our Orlando flight.

    A wave of elation mixed with relief swept over me, and I finally decided that things had turned around.

    But, so far, I'm still missing the other, most important part of the trip...the kiddo.

    I just got off the phone with KK's Mom, and she is still up, apparently doing last minute packing...I'm exhausted at this point after a long and hard day...

    I told her just to bring whatever she has, and we'll go from there. As long as I have the Passport / Birth Certificate, just about anything else can be replaced when we get there.

    It's 2:40a, my flight leaves at 6:40a, and I need to be there at 5a to pick up my once lost luggage and make it through TSA with a comfortable margin.

    We shall see what happens!

    Tee Tee A Fin, Ta Ta for Now!
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 03:46 PM.
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    1,514
    Woohoooo, it's time!!!!

    Hope you and Kaylee have an amazing and magical time

    Curious what you'll find of the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Port Adventure as we also booked that one for our upcoming cruise in october

    Have fun!! And I'll be looking forward to read your TR
    Looking forward to our Disney vacations

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Quote Originally Posted by MINI Mouse View Post
    Woohoooo, it's time!!!!

    Hope you and Kaylee have an amazing and magical time

    Curious what you'll find of the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Port Adventure as we also booked that one for our upcoming cruise in october

    Have fun!! And I'll be looking forward to read your TR
    Cool! Glad to have you following along!

    Kiddo is on the way with mom. They have about a 35 - 45 minute drive, so I'm going to try and catch a bit of shuteye.

    Good news out of all this delay, I suppose, is that KK's mom will give us a ride to the airport. Save a bit of cash on the taxi / Metro!
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  4. #4
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    Posts
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    So - a nice relaxing start to the trip clearly! Let's hope for smoother waters soon.
    There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
    Just a dream away!

    TALK DISNEY ADMINISTRATOR


  5. #5
    I love reading your reports! Hope you got some rest. Look forward to reading the next one.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Phillyburbs
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    1,277

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    So glad your trip is finally here! Been looking forward to your report. Wishing you many magical moments!
    Couldn't imagine life without WDW!
    Last Trip: Oct 2015
    Upcoming: Feb 2016
    Treehouses(2) Vaca. Villas(2) Poly(1) Contemporary(1) CSR(1) CBR(4) POR(1) Sports(4) OKW(1) SSR(2) AKL(1)
    **Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally, Golly, what a day!**

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Loved reading your first installment! Looking forward to more and glad they found your luggage. Have an awesome trip!!!
    “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

  8. #8

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    sounds great!

    MB
    Mike
    "Drink up me Hardees... Yo Ho"
    One day in Disney is better than none !!!
    30+ trips and counting to WDW
    EW Contemp. 83, Contemp. 84, Ft. Wilderness 85 EW Contemp. 86,Class trip 86, Oak Island Cove 02, Radisson 03, Radisson 03, POR 04, Radisson 04 Renaissance Inn 04, POR 2\05, POP 3\05, POR 06, POR 07, POR 08, AKL 10\08, AKL 3\09, Jambo House 5\09........ too many to list now :-)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winkster View Post
    So - a nice relaxing start to the trip clearly! Let's hope for smoother waters soon.
    No snooze alarm this year Winkster! We make our flight. On the ME bus right now!
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  10. #10
    This trip report is coming at a perfect time! I have been craving a connection to Disney lately . Thanks for writing so much!!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Christchurch New Zealand
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    107
    Glad your luggage has been found, all you need now is your daughter.... Love your reports!

    Sent from my iPad using TalkDisney

  12. #12
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    Jun 2012
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 2 - Making Magic can seem Tragic (Part 1)

    Magic - 4 (Mears, MyMagic+, Contemporary, The Day in General)
    Peeves - 2 (Rushed people, crowd bottlenecks, Cindy's Royal Table Seating process, Disney Wifi in the Park (but not the Cellular))
    Breakfast - A cup of coffee (me), a bottle of Minute Maid OJ (kid)
    Lunch - Cinderella's Royal Table
    Dinner - Not really dinner, but we held our own Wishes "Dessert Party".
    Snacks - 2 bags of airline pretzels with coke (me and kid), 2 coffees and 1 Vanilla Latte from Starbucks (me), one Orange Juice, one sweet sour cream pretzel (me), 2 large waters (me and kid shared), 2 large sodas (me and kid shared), 1 Mickey Premium Ice Cream (kid)
    Dining Credits - 2 TS (used 4), 2 Snack (used 2) for first leg, 54 TS, 36 Snack for third leg
    Steps - 21,440 / 10.04 mi / 3,369 cal

    Right now I'm sitting here sipping a Rum and coke and watching the Main Street Electrical parade wander it's way through frontierland from my hotel balcony. I can even see Pete's dragon from this view in the Contemporary. Very neat. I'll get more into that later...but I will say, if you ever want to splurge for a night or two, this is an experience I'd highly recommend.




    I'll start with a disclaimer. I...am exhausted. So, I may not cover everything in this update that I wish to...meaning, tomorrow, when I'm more rested, I may elaborate more on this post. I will certainly come back to this post and add photos. I'm just too tired right now to upload them all. There will also probably be no deep or cutting observations, and very little discussion about MyMagicPlus, as I want to consider those analysis thoroughly before posting. I do have a lot to say (and jotted notes, so I won't forget), but I just don't want to take the time to dump them into this post haphazardly. So, apologies in advance.

    I will do it either tomorrow while on the bus or tomorrow evening, as I want to do it while it's fresh in my mind, but tonight is just not the night. Especially since I want us both to be semi-fresh and in the morning, so we both have a midnight bedtime.

    I'm running on 3 hours of sleep I got intermittently between last night before the ex showed up with the kid, and the sleep I got on the plane (while the kid entertained herself with a new coloring book and the iPad), during which I was often woken up either by turbulence or the kid wishing to ask me something.

    And, tomorrow, another early day. Tonight I had to repurpose our bags (something I had planned to do last night) to make our "carry-on" bag for tomorrow. And yes, I has some adult beverage enhancements included in that package. But, that took about half an hour, between our two bags. Anyhow, it's done now, and all that's left is for the kid to finish taking her shower and change, and then myself to do the same and I'll slap the Disney Cruise luggage tags on both and leave them in the front foyer for Bell Services to pick up tomorrow am.

    We will probably already be up when they come around, as we have an 8:45 ADR at Chef Mickeys.

    But, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. So, lets start with where I left off very early this morning.



    I dozed off for around an hour, and KK and her mom showed around at 5a. Checkin at Airtran was painless, and as promised, the baggage services person from the night before had left a note for the opening ticketing agents. When I mentioned my bag, they knew exactly who I was, and where my bag was.

    Nice!



    TSA was rather painless, but I did notice a group of flight attendants get a bit snotty and pushy about cutting to the front of the line, then "asking" for permission while shoving someones baggage back on the table so theirs could go through first. Doesn't really bother me because I don't like to cut TSA all that close to the flight time anyhow, and I understand that...no pilots / flight crew, no flights! But, I could imagine if someone further back in the line observed this behavior up close, they may find it offputting.

    Anyhow, I digress. The flight was smooth, though I really can't tell you how much because I was exhausted on 1 hour of sleep, and napped through most of it.



    I was a bit shocked that they kept announcing "Orlando", and if the kid figured it out, she didn't say anything...but, she can be a bit sly like that when she wants to be.

    She kept saying "wow, this airport reminds me of when we went to Disneyworld!", and comments like that. We walked the airport for about an hour, not really in a rush to get to the hotel. I wanted desperately to eat, but nothing there which I felt my body could stomach at that moment. All breakfast menus, except Sbarro...but that didn't appeal...



    We went to the Disney Store and the kid picked up a new figurine set. It's the little plastic princess sets that come with dresses and shoes, etc. She is an avid collector of these, and generally gets a few new sets each year. This year she got the updated Cinderella set, which came with the Prince as well as two new dresses and a mop. Otherwise, the kit hasn't changed much since the one she got in 2011. But, according to her she has lost some of the shoes for Cindy (I don't think she has, I think she forgets about 1/3rd of her collection is at my house in her room in Atlanta)...but, that's neither here nor there.

    After calling her Mom to let her know we made it safe, we then headed down the "walk" to the Magical Express kiosks.



    I'm going to leave it here for tonight, I think. Sorry to leave you lingering mid-story, but I have a lot to cover between the very full (and fulfilling day at Magic Kingdom, the wonderful experiences we had today (and some of the crabby ones), and the elephant in the room that I know some of you truly want to hear about...MyMagic+, FastPass+ and Magicbands.

    Anyhow, it's too much to cover in 15 minutes of typing or less (even though I type really fast, and can easily ramble, as many of you know!)...so, I'm going to force myself to stop here for the night.

    I really need to make sure tomorrow goes flawlessly. Plus, I'll have plenty of downtime tomorrow to get caught up while on the ship, and my company is paying for my internet while sailing (wee hee! Not that I'll abuse that, but it means that I don't have to shy away from posting here...though, that wasn't my plan anyhow...but it's nice to know it's not an expense I will have to carry!)

    So, for tonight...that is all. I'll post more tomorrow to catch up, and then from there on hopefully have this to a more manageable posting schedule! <grin>

    Till next installment!.

    Oh, as a side note, further posts will explain the title for the day. Nothing about today was tragic...at least not in the grand scheme of things to me...so it's tongue in cheek. From an 8 year old's standpoint though, not knowing what is coming...she's concerned! Again, I'll elaborate later. I really need to be off!
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 03:31 PM.
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Muster drill in 15 minutes!
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    South Florida
    Posts
    439
    I hope you have great weather on your cruise ! I am in ft lauderdale and it was practically a hurricane like an hour ago, the sky was black, thundering and lighting, trees where falling down, a lot of wind. Can't wait to hear more about your trip!
    Tori

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    2,937
    They are the Sailing away deck party right now, and rain is blowing up fast...! Skies are darkening!

    We depart port in about an hour. They haven't closed the pools yet, and the kid is enjoying the deck party from the pool! I am having an...adult pleasure beverage (umbrella included!) and watching from the side of the pool!
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

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