englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!) - Page 2
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  1. #16
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Have a great time! I can't wait to hear about your trip
    Dream: Feb 12-16, 2012,Fantasy: 20-27, 2012, Dream: Sept 8-12, 2013,Magic: Jan 20-24, 2014,Dream: Sept 14-18, 2015
    TD Moderator

  2. #17
    Ahhhhh... Watching the electrical parade from your balcony.... Sounds amazing!

  3. #18
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 2 - Sometimes Making Magic is Tragic (Part 2)

    All right, rested and ready to go for the new day!

    So, lets pick up with where we left off.



    The kid apparently had not figured out where we were, and just like 2010 and 2011, she figured it out when she spotted the Magical Express buses out the window. No jumping for joy, or similar expressions. Rather, she just froze, looked out the window, and turned to me and said..."I wish we could go to Disneyworld again."

    That's when I pulled out the Magicbands, and pointed the way! "Yay!", was her response, and she shuffled quickly, luggage in tow, towards the Magical Express entrance.

    This is something they've re-organized again since our last trip. While the bus queues are largely the same, they have used temporary stanchions for all guests. It used to be where, if you already had your Magical Express tickets, you could skip the queue area and go straight to check in and on to the bus queue areas. Now, they do a preliminary "check" station where they either direct you on to the check in stations, or over to the Guest Service kiosks.

    I suppose this is a good idea, considering that the old "free for all" check in station probably had to deal with redirecting many guests who couldn't find or didn't have their Magical Express documentation handy to the Guest Service line.

    One thing that sort of threw me for a loop though...unlike previous trips where I've had separate "vouchers" that come in my welcome packet, this year my packet IS the voucher (it's the first page). Also, to complicate things (or make them simpler), our Magicbands actually are our Magical Express Vouchers. We were instructed to put our bands on, which I do have a minor gripe about. Not that we were instructed to do so, but we were not instructed to do so prior.



    So, I had to dig through my bag, get out the bands, size the band for the kid (I ended up needing to peel off the exterior band for her, which wasn't terribly difficult, so yes, it is a neat design). None of this would have been a big deal, except that we were loaded with luggage, blocking the line, and had a few rather impatient families behind us eyeballing rather obviously that they were not pleased we were causing a clog in the flow of the line.

    So, anonymous family, sorry about that! I wasn't told in advance to have the bands ready for use!

    Anyhow, yes, you read right. They have integrated the bands into the Magical Express check in. This is something I haven't heard before on the forums, but I must say, it is AWESOME!

    Check in at ME consisted of me tapping the band, and everything came up! They confirmed my name / number in party / hotel and was immediately directed to the right line. No digging out folders, shuffling through paperwork...just tap, answer a few quick questions, and go.

    They were even able to pull up and access details about my reservation, and went so far as to note that I hadn't set my return flight details for my return Magical Express trip. This is something that has caused repeated confusion with Disney. See, while I am doing Magical Express for my departure and return from Orlando International, I am not using the departure Magical Express from Contemporary, nor am I using the arrival Magical Express for Port Orleans French Quarter...

    Why? Because Disney Cruise Transit is picking me up and returning me from Port Canaveral in the middle of my stay! So, as is a MyMagic+ commentary, I think Disney should work the next phase to integrate the Disney Cruise systems more into the Disney World system for MyDisneyExperience. (I'd also like to see the bands make their way to the Cruise Ships, I think, but I'll get more into that later)...

    While it's not the most common trip, I'm quite sure I'm not the only family who chooses to do Disney Cruise before and / or after their stay.

    I explained that there was no return Magical Express because the Disney Cruise Transit would be taking us to the Fantasy the next day. They seemed a bit surprised (as if it's something they don't hear often). All this being said, I did appreciate this little detail, because if I HAD forgotten to set it up, it was nice to have them confirm.

    So...my first real "use" of the bands was a win! Keep reading, you'll be hearing more about them, as they played a large part in our experience. Oh, as a side note, I noted that the Magicband readers are already installed at the Disney Store at Orlando International.



    I asked about the and was told by the CM on duty that they are installed, but not operating yet. Just thought I'd pass that on to anyone else who has MagicBands...Disney is reaching out that far off the parks with the system. Much broader than I imagined...



    Anyhow, we boarded the bus after a short wait. There were not a lot of people there. Only 6 or 7 families in the terminal as a whole, 3 of which were in our line. One of the families next to us was also doing Magicband testing, and were chatting positively about their experience so far. I agree! So far (even though limited) I am impressed by it.

    Now...Magical Express. Over the years, my experience with this has been varied. Never truly bad, but many times just not something even worth mentioning outside of "I rode on the bus." Last year was like this, as I recall. I remember 2010's ME trip was extremely uncomfortable. That year the driver was just...overbearing...trying to hard to get the bus to "participate" in his poor jokes.

    He even went so far as to chide the riders, in a rather unfunny way, when we didn't cheer along...well, there was a reason we were not. He was so bad that by the time I got to my hotel, I was already questioning if Disney had lost the magic (or if I had imagined it all those years before), and if I'd made a mistake.

    2011 and 2012 weren't bad. Nothing special. However, this year...was different.

    This year I was transported by a Magical Express driver extraordinaire! The best, hands down, I have ever experienced. His jokes hit the mark, and were unique. What really nailed them was his jovial delivery. The whole bus participated. He did Disney Trivia, with some generally difficult questions! I was the only one on the bus who knew what EPCOT stood for...but there were others I didn't know the answer for and others did. Awesome fun!

    I also liked how he tied the trivia into his spiel as we passed different parks on our way to the Monorail resorts...

    As an aside, the Magical Express for the Monorail Resorts (and many other resorts) is based on demand, so often the bus from the airport will make stops at other resorts. Today, our bus went from MCO to Polynesian, then Grand Floridian, third stop at Wilderness Lodge, and then Contemporary. So we had quite a while on the bus with this driver. He had little fun things to add throughout the trip. As we were leaving Polynesian, he pointed out a retention pond and mentioned that he had spotted an alligator in that pond.



    For the rest of the ride, every body of water we passed, my kid was seeking out Gators! Kept her entertained and excited. Well played, Mears Driver, well played!

    He also gave advice about sunburn, even on overcast days. Staying hydrated. And he pitched the resort mugs multiple times as a "good value", breaking down the cost of a few large sodas compared to the cost of the mug. The suggestive sale was done so smoothly within the scope of his total delivery that it didn't feel like a suggestive sale, even though it obviously was. This driver is just awesome. His name is Mark, and he was driving bus 3233. I hope I run into his bus again, as I found the whole ride quite pleasurable. Best Magical Express ride ever, and set a welcoming opening tone for the trip proper!

    He is also the only ME driver I've EVER heard give his name, bus number and information on what to do if you think you may have left something on the bus by mistake.

    After a rushed and rough day and a half of travels, this was a well needed reminder of how CMs (even though he technically is a contractor) make all the difference at Disney. His professionalism, enthusiasm and just general appeal certainly put a grin on my face. Thank you, Mark!

    Time to check into the Contemporary! We were greeted just off the bus by an extremely nice Cast Member with an iPad in hand. He looked up our reservation based on our last name, and noted that we were Atrium Club level.



    I'm not sure if this warranted anything special (frankly, I hope not), but from here he escorted us to the Atrium check-in, bypassing the normal check-in desk. He instructed us on how to use the "access key" RFID reader in the elevator. For those who have been on a Disney Cruise on the Fantasy (and probably the others, I assume) the RFID reader looks exactly the same as the ones on the Cruise Line doors (something I wouldn't find out until the following day...er...today!)...

    A side note, one of them broke in the far right elevator during my one day stay. It still worked, but the cover had either fallen or been smashed off. Not sure when it will be replaced (I was only there one day)...but, seeing things like that makes me sad. I hate it when guests (I doubt it was a CM) beat up on things Disney installs, regardless of reason. This accomplishes nothing, increases our costs, and in some cases forces Disney to not put neat things in because they are concerned about wear and tear experiences.

    Odd rant, considering it was just a RFID reader, but...that's how I think when I see things like that. Maybe it's because I ran a CEC and watched people destroy our games for no good reason...

    Our room was on the 12th floor, Atrium Club Level with a Magic Kingdom View. And, man...was this one night stay expensive. I got it with the Deluxe Dining Plan (which...even on ONE DAY, we didn't use all our credits! But, that was my fault, I forgot to get snacks...we used all the dining credits, but not all the snack credits, we had two left over)...

    Going back to my last point, this was an EXPENSIVE room. For a few hundred more, I could have done a week at Pop WITH a Deluxe plan, and it was about half the price of my 2 weeks at CBR with Deluxe Plan and 10 days Park Hopper and Water Park and More tickets in 2010 (prices have gone up since then, so...)

    But, it was something I've always wanted to do, and I thought it would be a unique way to spend the first night before the cruise...cost aside. Why? Well...it was where my Parents stayed with me in 1983, on my first trip to Disney. I don't remember much of that trip specifically, but I do remember the monorails, the Grand Canyon Concourse (though I didn't know the name of it until much later) and many, many fond memories of EPCOT (mostly Figment and Dreamfinder...)

    So, since this is the largest (and longest) Disney trip we've ever done, and probably the last one of this caliber for a while, I decided to start it off with a bang.

    So...Atrium Club Level with a Magic Kingdom View it was! I did compare it to a standard Magic Kingdom view, and it was only (I say only as if I didn't shiver at that) a few hundred more...but, I thought of it as an experience. Like taking a special tour or something, rather than focusing on the fact that it was way more for one night then I would ever wish to pay!

    That being said, I noticed why many people (with too much money to spend, which isn't me) swear by it as soon as we arrived. The check in was meaningless, in fact, the service desk up there was generally worthless. I've had better customer service at a gas station. While they were very nice, they really didn't do anything for me, and often I felt invisible to them. However, I did notice the service staff (not the "face" of the level, but the "little people" there) seemed to be the best Disney could offer.

    **WARNING!!**
    I'm about to get needlessly philosophical about Guest Service and Management Styles...so, if you just want fun, rah rah, trip report fodder, skip ahead a few paragraphs! <grin> Moving on...

    While I was checking in with the distracted woman at the desk was obviously more concerned about how some guy "Mark" (or "John"? I can't remember the name) was "coming up". I got the general impression this was a Disney Suit, from the way they were talking about it. Seeing as how we are doing MM+ testing, this doesn't surprise me, and more than once I ran across obvious Disney Suits, one group who quite politely almost ran us over while exiting the elevator with their own self-importance.

    My mind immediately went back to CEC (Chuck E. Cheese, if you aren't familiar, I worked for them for 11 years, 6 in corporate Training / Operations) when we used to call each other when DM's (District Managers) or RVPs (Regional Vice Presidents), etc, were traveling from store to store doing inspections. I suspect some Disney "big wig" (with respect to their position) was coming for an inspection / visit...but, as a Guest, I don't care. Not my problem. And it shouldn't be something you communicate about to stroke your own ego or theirs.

    You know the type...generally well groomed people in business suits who looked full of themselves, but probably have the IQs of a small turtle when it comes to business or guest service. The type who are good at pointing their lips upwards to forward their career and pointing their fingers down when it comes to those who actually support their career. It...just annoys me.

    When you ignore me when you run into me face to face, and rather leave the service to "the little people" in the organization, rather than being just as warm as you say those "little people" should be, you should realize, that carries down the ladder.

    A shining example was this morning (skipping ahead in time) when, while the kid and I were trying to get on the elevator, we ran into a group of Suits who didn't do much but nod at us to acknowledge our existence. I got the feeling I was not important to acknowledge me and hold the elevator door for me and my kid with a kind smile, then you should not be Disney material...but, I know you are exactly the sort of middle management they enjoy.

    I know it sounds like I was offended, I wasn't. In fact, it really didn't bother me much at all, it just made me smile to myself and think..."Meh...corporate". It just...got under my skin.

    I'm sorry to get off point here, and I don't want to seem bitter, but it is this attitude exactly which turns me off about some aspects of Disney (or any large company)...it just reeks to me. It just gets under my skin. I didn't pay more because the Atrium Club makes me "special", or for the people who work there "special"...I paid more for the view. Period. I don't need my ego stroked, it's quite good at keeping itself happy on it's own.

    Basically, such a public display (and their obvious distraction as to my check-in, needs and in some cases even existence) put a bad taste in my mouth. I've seen McDonald's cashiers more focused on serving me. Now, I'm not trying to sound snooty about this, it just bothered me.

    Actually, having typed all that, and reading back through it, I think I can articulate what bothers me most about it. Somehow, it's OK that the person at the front desk, who is the "face" of the Atrium level, thinks it's OK to ignore a Guest because she is getting ready to "shine" for "Mark" or whomever in middle management who is important to her, and "Mark" or whomever didn't pay us much mind while getting off the elevator didn't feel it important to wish us a "magical day" or hold the elevator door for us or anything, because they are doing the same.

    And yet, these people will tell Mousekeepers or the people who keep up the bar in the Atrium level that they BETTER make EVERY GUEST LEAVE HAPPY, and treat us like Kings and Queens, while not doing it themselves. The hypocrisy is what bothers me...

    So, on to the unsung hero of the Atrium Club Level. The service staff. I don't mean the Mousekeepers alone, I mean the people who service the "lounge", or whatever the official term is, as well! Every experience I had with them was simply fantastic! Of course, the self important person at the front-desk will probably take credit for this (and, maybe they should), but based on my experience, it's not top down leadership at work.

    I wish I'd gotten the guy who was working the lounge when we went for check in. I was waiting for the obviously self-important Cast Member behind the desk to process my "check-in" while pretending to be "important" with her co-worker, and this super-CM who was stocking the food offerings noticed my daughter was getting antsy (something I didn't even notice, as I was waiting for Mrs. Important to process my check-in).



    He took initiative to quietly guide her to the goody counter! Which made her day! When I was done with my slightly annoying experience (I don't need my ego stroked by someone who has an overgrown ego themselves), I noted she was in awe about all the goodies available, and he was pointing out what was available.

    So, kudos to him. I've spent enough time on this. Again, apologies for getting distracted. If anyone from Disney reads this, culture is set from the top down...you should eyeball this. Doubt you'd get it though...but, it's still how I feel, and a frustration I've always felt with corporate structures. Probably why I don't do well there...

    Anyhow, moving on (spent WAY too much time on that!) Back to the fun stuff.

    The room...WOW! In fact, that's all the kid said for a while. "Wow!"..."Wow!"..."Wow! This room is simply fantastic!" (her words, not mine!).



    Ok, that's enough for now, I'm going to post this, and continue in about a bit. After a nap and dinner, the kid is ready to check out her "Kids Club", so I'll be back after I check her in!



    Also, I'll be adding pictures to this post later on tonight. Hopefully I'll get caught up tonight so I'm back on a day by day...it's just that the past two days have been extremely eventful!

    Laterz! She still has no idea 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

  4. #19
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    Jul 2012
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    I have been looking forward to your trip report brilliant as ever

  5. #20
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    Jul 2013
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    Ottawa, Canada
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Great report. I can't wait to read more and see a few pics.

  6. #21
    I look forward every day to reading your reports. It's like watching a TV show and you can't wait to see what's next.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 2 - Sometimes Making Magic is Tragic (Part 3)

    Hello again, fellow travelers! Picking up where I left off, the room at Contemporary was "Wow".

    The look was very...well...contemporary (yes, pun intended). So, lets start with the minibar / closet area. The room had two stand alone mini closets (his and hers, I assume) as well as a small counter in between where the coffee maker, able to brew two single cups at a time, the ice bucket, and 4 glasses are. Turn around, and you are facing the bathroom, hiding behind a sliding pocket door! The kid found this especially fun. "Look Dad, it slides, that is SO COOL!"

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7384/9...e94f183d_b.jpg

    Inside the bathroom is a smaller room for the toilet with a similar sliding door (I like isolated toilets in hotels, nice touch). It is a low flow model (no surprise there) with lots of suction. It sounds like a small jet engine is spinning up when you flush it (which made the kid jump). To flush the toilet, you push a button on the top of the tank.

    This led to some amusement, as the kiddo couldn't figure out how to flush the first time she used it, and when she called me in to help, I found her crawling around the tank looking for a lever!

    With showers in a hotel, I have only a few requirements. Good pressure, good drainage, and good heat! The Contemporary met all three requirements, so no complaints there.

    However, there was something in the restroom I despised (as did the kid, she complained of it of her own merit). The sinks! Sure, square sinks (see picture) look cool! However, think about what happens when you turn water on with any amount of force and it hits a flat surface a few inches away.

    That's right. It splashes all over the place! Now, think about what happens when water collects on a relatively flat surface. Right again! It doesn't drain! These sinks don't drain worth a squat. Just brushing our teeth was an ordeal where we had to stop, and use our hands and a washcloth to quite literally "push" the water down the drain.

    I'm sorry, form over function is never a good idea in my book. I could live without those silly sinks. Obviously put in by a designer, and approved by someone who never used them!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5546/9...d529aeb6_b.jpg

    The main room had a rather neat glass / marble desk area, with plenty of plugs for charging items. Nice! The TV stand had the fridge beneith it, and a small shelf which we found handy for holding our desserts for our "Wishes" party (more later on that).

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7357/9...3056338c_b.jpg

    The only gripe I had about the TV...well, two gripes. One, Disney seems to always have signal issues at every hotel I've ever stayed at with the exceptions being the DisneyWorld channels (music channels, etc.), XD, and the Disney Channel. I am pretty sure they use DirectTV. Since I'm not really a TV watcher, this doesn't bother me at all, but it is just something I noticed. The second gripe is that I wish the unit pulled out on an arm.

    It is flat mounted in the TV stand. That's great if you are sitting in the first bed, but the second bed doesn't have the best view. Since the kiddo is the TV watcher of the two of us, and she wanted to sleep closer to the deck, it would have been nice to be able to rotate the TV. Again, it's a nitpicky gripe, I know...but it would be a nice touch.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7283/9...514e9c00_b.jpg

    The highlight of the room, of course, is the deck. 12 stories up, facing the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon, you can't get a much better view than this.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7388/9...31f3e334_b.jpg

    Normally here is where we would claim our drawers (and closet space), unpack everything, set up a charging station, and otherwise basically get settled in the room for our stay. But, since this is just a one night deal...a place to squat before leaving for the cruise (which, is still a secret at this point for the kiddo)...we did nothing of the sort. Instead, we plopped the luggage down on the bed, I set my laptop up to charge, and we headed off to the Magic Kingdom!

    I asked the kiddo which transportation option she would like to do. Mind you, I'd told her about the fitbit earlier (she was curious what that thing on my belt was).

    Oh, the fitbit! I explained it to her, but I haven't explained what it is to you! Basically, it's a pedometer. It comes in a few different models. The one I bought is called the <????> and is their lowest model. The have a model that goes on your wrist, which I considered, but then realized that I really didn't want to spend nearly $90 on a pedometer. This one was $50, which is plenty 'spensive for me!

    http://www.fitbit.com/

    Why is it so expensive? Well, it's not really the unit itself, though, it is very well done, with a tap sensitive screen and a very comfortable case...in fact, I put it on and basically forget that it is there. It's because the unit has bluetooth and USB connection (though a special USB "plug" that you put in your computer) that allows the unit to sync with the Fitbit app on your phone, or with your computer / their website.

    The app/site is free (though they do have premium offerings, I think the free site is more than enough). It allows you to track your progress day by day, week by week, etc. It also has a "water consumption" utility to track how many glasses of water from your goal you have, a calorie counting "consumption" log with a searchable database of common foods (and of course, the ability to add your own), a weight tracker and much more.

    I am impressed! If you are looking to track weight loss on a plan (or if you are like me and just find the metrics interesting), I'd recommend picking one up!

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2819/9...043f8314_b.jpg

    Ok, so, back on track. I offered the Kid a choice between the Monorail and walking. She said "Lets walk to the Magic Kingdom so we can get some exercise!" and then proceeded to poke my belly. Cheeky little thing! I'll get her back!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5492/9...471a988f_b.jpg

    So, we walked. It was a pleasant walk, for those who haven't done it. Walking under the Monorail track reminded me of Disneyland in California...though, it's still not as low as the tracks are there (and it's "home" for me, so, sorry Disneyland, I still like the WDW Monorail better!). The IronManorail (wrapped for Iron Man 3) passed over us, as did Monorail Teal.

    How do I remember this? The kid kept calling out their names...though, she kept calling them Metrorails. This mistake is probably due to the fact she lives near DC and takes the Metro there. Still, like her calling Atlanta "Atlantica" years ago, I found the term endearingly amusing, so I didn't bother to correct her.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3716/9...e0881d99_b.jpg

    We got to Magic Kingdom, and even though it was nearly noon, the gates were swarmed with people. Bag check went fine (nice guy manning it, by the way...nothing special happened, but he was just nice and wished us a magical day). Ok, so, we've now used Magicbands at the Magical Express (A+ experience), at the hotel as the room key / key to access the Atrium Club (A experience)...now it's time to try the buggers out as park tickets!

    They are doing some sort of construction at the ticketing gates (I'm assuming installing more Magicband Readers), so walls were up. This split the ticketing gates in two. We went left. Sad to say, there were NO Magicband readers on this side! Only regular gates.

    Now, I'd brought along our keys (yes, we were issued both bands and regular Key to the World cards...though the KTTW was yellow this year, instead of the blue I am used to...). We were told at check in that we should carry both, because some places weren't yet able to use the Magicbands. I found this was sage advice.

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5347/9...22db4c86_b.jpg

    However, even though we could have entered using our KTTW keys, I really wanted to try the Magicbands out! So, we hiked over to the right side gates, and there they were. Magicband poles! They were processing guests who didn't have Magicbands as well, using the RFID in their KTTW cards, so I assume more guests are getting the RFID cards than just those testing Magicbands. However, what I did notice is the difference in lines.

    The Magicband line seemed to be processing more guests (they could do 4 at a time), and was more spacious (less crowded) than the regular lines. As a result, while they appeared to have the same, if not more, throughput, they appeared shorter and more inviting than the normal lines, which were twice to three times as long. I will mention, it's not like I did a head count or stayed to observe for any long period to get a feel...this is just based on my general impression as we approached.

    But, that's important to a Guest...general impression. So, I still think it's a valid observation, and one that a Guest who isn't a disnut will certainly notice!

    So, Magicband as Park Ticket? A+ Experience! Magicbands are scoring high so far!
    The only critical observations I had at this point are:

    1) The band is actually more comfortable upside down, both the kid and I noted. This is due to the flat nature of the top of the band. However, if you wear it like this it is next to impossible to use in some cases without twisting your arm at an uncomfortable angle...so, Mouse Up it is!

    2) The RFID sensor on the door was too close to the doorjamb. While it was mounted center over the knob and is aesthetically pleasing, I found it was sometimes difficult to get Mickey to match up "just right" with the sensor. New units with the sensor area off center would be nice. That being said, after a few uses I had it down pat, so it's not that big a deal.

    Man, it's good to be back. I teared up a bit (yeah, big softy) as we walked through the Main Street station and back into the "world". I was reminded of passing through the Main Street Station in Disneyland a few months back, and the size difference is dramatic. I much prefer our station at WDW (don't worry, I won't be doing a whole lot of DLC to MK comparisons in this report, it just popped in my head is all!).

    First stop, the kiosk on the right side of the station that sells autograph books, ears, and other items. She decided she didn't want a lanyard yet, though we'll still get one for our trip lanyards...we make a lanyard each year of special pins from our hotels, special / favorite rides, etc. These lanyards are our "trip souvenirs"...we never bring these back to the world, even though we bring back our trading pin sets each year.

    We got an autograph book and a set of glittery Minnie Mouse ears attached to a hairband. She chattered excitedly about the upcoming early dinner with the Princesses in a few hours...I'm glad to see her excited about autographs again. Last year she didn't seem all that interested. So, first test of the Magicband to purchase something! Again, flawless! Though, I didn't think I remembered the pin I had set online...so I guessed.

    I guessed correctly! The CM snipped the tag off the ears and I went to put them on the kid, and she declined. "Why?" I asked. "Well, the hairband pulls my hair and it hurts a little!" <facepalms> To be fair, you must remember her hair is in braids right now, so it's understandable. I'm sure this wouldn't be an issue if her hair were down, but considering the curly, tangled mess it becomes when it's not in braids, I'll skip that, thank you very much! <grin>

    Second stop...the Firehouse to pick up a set of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7377/9...f7d95c9a_b.jpg

    So, as usual, let me backtrack for a moment. This year, I have not planned the trip out like I did the year before. I'm leaving it very much up to the kiddo and her whims, with a few anchors for the day (special meals mostly). The super regimented nature of last years trip really took something out of it, at least for me, so it's a lesson learned.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3768/9...43016767_b.jpg

    The reason I mention that is...SotMK was her first choice! She remembered it from last year, and immediately wanted to "Go on a MISSION!". So, a Mission it was! Luck have it, we were assigned our first Mission as the Main Street USA missions. She grabbed the map and we headed off to East Center Street, where our mission to defeat Cruella De Vil started!

    We played a few levels, and then the kid started to get hot. Plus, our reserved FastPass+ for Splash Mountain was coming up. I suggested we get a LeFou's Brew to chill off with, and go see the New Fantasyland. She's seen ads for the New Fantasyland on TV and online, and is very excited about it all. Especially getting to "go inside Belle's castle".

    But, when we made it over there, she wasn't so thrilled. She had thought Belle was a ride, and when I had to inform her it was a restaurant, she wasn't so thrilled. "Belle is a cool princess, don't you think she needs a ride? She's better than the Little Mermaid, and she got a ride.", she frumped.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7406/9...212c5f82_b.jpg

    Well, at this point she wasn't interested in New Fantasyland anymore, and she wanted to ride a ride. So, doing a 180 and skipping Gaston's Tavern, I steered us towards Small World and I ran through the ride options on that side of the park. I figured I'd rather be in Frontierland or Adventureland since we had a fast approaching Splash Mountain FastPass+ reservation. When I mentioned Haunted Mansion, she perked up at the thought.

    We swung by the Fastpass machines and snagged a Paper Fastpass for Little Mermaid, and then headed towards the Mansion. On the way I noted that Small World only had a 15 minute wait. "I don't really like Small World" was the kid's response. Really...that's new to me, I thought.

    She saw the Tangled Tower and started running towards it. "Daddy, a new Rapunzel ride!" Nope...not a ride. Restrooms. Lets say she wasn't pleased. Two princesses she adored that didn't get new rides. I'm sure she feels offended on their behalf! <grin> She did have fun looking at it all though, and commented that she thought it looked "very nice".

    I also thought it was very well done, and fits perfectly in that area. Much better, I hate to say, than a defunct Swiss alps looking abandoned Skyway building. It also helps alleviate the bottleneck that used to accrue between Liberty Square and Fantasyland, by not forcing the whole crowd through the tunnel under Columbia Harbor House.

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2855/9...ac800135_b.jpg

    She spied the Haunted Mansion in the background... "I want to go on that, it's not scary anymore, the ghosts are funny! Last year they switched our heads! Silly!" was her comment. Yes...Silly...we shall see how the Ghost Host feels about being...silly. <grin>

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2881/9...86c927cb_b.jpg

    So, off to the queue (being sure to spy the ring!). 15 minute wait. Even though the interactive queue was open last year, I feel like they've changed things around again in the queue. I also have a peeve to report here. I understand people rushing by you if you are stopped in the middle of the queue (to play with an interactive item or something)...but when you are walking at a reasonable pace, and people rush around you pushing themselves and normally dragging their children by the hand as if they got a memo that said that the ride was going to disappear in the next five minutes if they didn't board...yeah...this bothered me.

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5469/9...36b648ea_b.jpg

    We actually ran into this behavior several times throughout the day on different rides. Now, I know what some of you are thinking..."Tour groups". Well, I can report, it wasn't just tour groups, though they played their part mobbing the FP lines in a disorganized manner. I think of it more as "summer groups"! I never go this close to the summer season, normally we start on the second or third week of August.

    It wasn't that the park was especially crowded, it was the behaviors of the crowd. People just seemed more rushed, pushier, and many had this look of panic as if the park was going to get up and walk away, so they had to rush around everywhere! If this is even close to what it's like in June / July, I'll pass. Thank you.

    Anyhow, I gripe, but it really didn't bug me all that much. Nothing really does at Disney. Or rather, very few does. I just shrug it off, make a mental note for the trip report, and keep doing what the kid and I want to do at the pace we wish to do it at. A relaxed pace!

    The Haunted Mansion was a nice sight to see. After reading the longforgotten blog, I've become quite a fan of the ride, and noticed a lot of details that I had previously glossed over on other rides. It really is an amazing ride, and while I prefer the queue at Disneyland, I still prefer the RIDE at WDW.

    The kid, however, did not! She made it as far as the stretching room before burrowing her face into my belly. Well, that's better than previous years!

    Ok, so to gripe again...in the Stretching Room, the Ghost Host was speaking, and people were on their cell phones, chattering loudly, laughing, and just generally ignoring their surroundings. Also, I've never witnessed a CM there actually have to YELL (rather than just repeat) for people to move to the back. That CM looked ticked off, and not in a "happy haunted mansion" sort of way! Poor lady...

    Well, I'll say this (and I don't know if I had anything to do with it, I'd like to think so)...these groups of people would not stop chattering, and I couldn't hear the Ghost Host very well at all...so, a few minutes before the lightning flash, I started saying loudly to the kid "Look up" and pointing up.

    "Keep looking!"...people around me started to look up as well, as if they were going to miss something...and before you knew it most of the room was staring at the ceiling (the flash hadn't happened yet)...

    When it did...and they saw the dangling horror, the group of girls to my left who were the primary offenders screamed like Bloody Mary had just showed up in their pimple popping magnifying mirror to give them beauty tips.

    They were silent after that. With a smug grin, we excited the ride, and from this point forward I have no complaints...about them or the ride.

    Once settled in our Doombuggies, the kid gave it a fair shake to be a "big girl" about the ride (once again, her words). She made it as far as the door knocker hallway and the floating candelabra before she was gripping my arm, and later my hand, in fear.

    But, like last year, she did spend most of the ride actually watching what was going on, and at the end we again had our heads switched, which she giggled about. "I think my head looks better on your body than your head looks on my body." she says. Um...ok, I'll take that as a compliment...I think...

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7387/9...71af7816_b.jpg

    Then, off to Splash Mountain for our FastPass+ reservation. On the way we stopped by the stocks and took pictures. The kiddo asked me what the stocks were for, and as we walked over to Splash I explained they were for people who didn't finish their Turkey Legs or thought that Nutella Waffles were nasty. Just kidding, I told her what it really was for, punishing criminals in the town square hundreds of years ago.

    Walking along the wooden walkway to skip the crowds in Frontierland, we stopped so the kid could take a picture of the birds there. She has a thing about taking pictures of bird. This will become a recurring theme that you'll see come up again.

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2826/9...ec6892e8_b.jpg

    I also noticed that the smoking area is gone from there. I wonder why. Not that I care, I no longer require the use of it, but it was something I noticed as we walked by.

    On to Splash and our first use of Magicbands as Fast Passes! We approached the Fastpass line, bands at the ready. We approached and the CM stopped us. "Sir, where are your fastpasses?" I raised my wrist, and he said, oh, wow. Great! We tapped and Mickey swirled and turned green. FP+ reservation #1 used!

    Splash was looking great! The only piece I notices was that the groundhogs were not working in the cave scene, but otherwise it was great. I noticed the refurb the most in the scene where you see Brer Frog fishing, etc. All the small "brer" animetronics were working, and that area looks spectacular. I'm not sure why, but it's always been one of my favorite parts of the ride (the other being the area where you see the birdhouses and gardens before dropping off Slippery Falls). It was also very nice to see that the Chickens in the finale had gotten tender loving care. Previous years there had always been one or more that looked like they were in the middle of having a stroke or seizure. This year, they were dancing and zip a dee clucking away in unison. Very nice!

    The kid wanted to play in the playspot (even though she's technically now too large and too old for it physically, mentally she enjoys it still...). But, her wish to go on Little Mermaid (who's FastPass window was coming to a close in 20 minutes) overrode her desire to play. "We can come back later" she said, with Cartman like authority. A slight detour to pick up FastPasses for Big Thunder Mountain, and we were hiking across the bridges. "I'm hot, can I have a frozen lemonade?" So, a short stop at the stand and we used our MagicBand (hers wouldn't work, but mine worked fine) to use our first snack credit of four for the stay. She opted for the frozen orange drink, and shared with me as we hiked it over to Little Mermaid.

    We made it with 3 minutes to spare before our window closed. The ride, for us and other FastPassers was basically a walk on. One nice thing about the frozen Minute Maid drinks is that they have a lid, so I was able to carry it on the ride. The queue is fantastic, and really, outside of the heat, I wouldn't mind waiting in the longer standby line and taking in all the nifty details they put there. It is a million times better than the DLC version of the queue...but the ride is exactly the same. I enjoyed it more this time though, even though I wish they hadn't gone with such a plastic look for the characters. Then again, I can't really think of a better way to do it, so I'll keep my criticism to myself. The kid, however, who had not seen it at all loved it.

    She gasped with joy as our shell went "under water" and loved the lighting effects. "Daddy, we are going under water! See, Daddy! Isn't this cool?" She also clapped with joy and had a huge grin on her face when we got to the "Under the Sea" scene. And she sung along. Her enjoyment of the ride made it all the better for me. So, while I have a few other gripes about it (like the constant re-use of the same characters (yes, I'm looking at you spinning starfish) in the ending scene, and the fact I wish that Scuttle had a few more lines, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    We finished the frozen Orange drink and headed off to catch our Big Thunder Mountain FP time. On the way she complained of being hot again. It wasn't the hottest day that I've experienced at the parks, but I agree, it was pretty scorchin'! So, we stopped by the eatery near the bridge over to Big Thunder and got snack #2 with our MagicBands. A Mickey Premium Ice Cream! I'm not how this happens, but every trip we seem to buy one from this vendor, and I have pictuers and video of her eating one of these while walking on the bridge from every trip. This year, obviously, was no exception.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7288/9...f990551e_b.jpg

    She had devoured the whole thing by the time we got to the Big Thunder queue. We flashed our paper passes, and again, this was a virtual walk on. The kid wanted to sit in the front, so she asked the CM at the loading area if we could wait. The CM said "Are you sure? It's the slowest part of the train." "Oh? So where should I sit for the best ride?" exclaimed the kiddo? "In the middle". "Oh, can I wait and sit there then?" The CM chuckled and said "Sure, just give it a few minutes and I'll have you ready for the best seat on the train." Nice. So, of course, we watched several families get seated, and then were shuffled off to our "premium seat" in the middle. Now, I don't notice the difference, but the kid was elated that she was "sitting in the best seat on the train". I'll let her have her little joys. <grin>

    The ride was great as always. This was the first time the kid actually felt comfortable putting her hands in the air for the whole ride. I think her longer (and larger) legs helped with that...We also chatted about how my watch broke on this ride a few years ago, and my kid said I should put my watch in my pocket so I don't break it again. Good advice, and it is exactly what I did.

    From there, we still had time to burn before our early dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table. I was famished. I hadn't eaten anything all day outside of a few bites of the frozen orange drink and coffee that morning. But, we were close enough to visiting Cindy's that I held back. But, man did Peco's smell good, as did Golden Horseshoe (wow, it was open! I never see it open!)...it was all I could do not to stop and get a snack. But, I made it through!

    We went back to Main Street to finish our "mission" from before. The clue was in the Main Street Station, and from there we were taken to the art gallery / movie theater. Now, I love this little theater (I liked it even better when it was actually a theater), but as a parent, I also hate this little theater. Why? Cartoons. They play...classic Disney cartoons. This is something my kid is addicted to. And, once she sees it, she will make any excuse to plop down and watch. From this point forward, it's like her bum was super-glued to the carpet. Prying her out of there is a chore, so, unless I'm in the mood to let her do it, I tend to avoid that place like the plague.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3775/9...9e34a346_b.jpg

    But, this time our mission required we enter there...so enter we did. And, as expected she pulled the "Oooooh, cartooons!" card out and plopped on the floor. I took the time to browse the gallery to see if there was anything I was interested in purchasing. There wasn't...but it's still fun to look around. Eventually, and to my surprise, she approached me and asked if I was ready to go to the next clue. "Um, I was waiting on you." I said. "Oh, well I was waiting on YOU!" she replied. Yeah...right...<grin>

    So, the next clue was on Center Street East, right outside the jewelry shop. This was the end of our Main Street quest, and luckily it forwarded us to Fantasyland. This was convenient, because we had about 20 minutes to go before our ADR at Cindy's Royal Table! We did two of the missions, and the time had come to eat.

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5324/9...e64fa2ec_b.jpg

    So, I'm gonna leave it here for two reasons. One, because I have a major peeve coming up and I want to spend a bit of time on it and two because the kid and I are going to head out to grab some dinner and do some shopping.

    Oh, tonight when the kid is in the Oceaneer Club, I'll go through the past few posts and add uploaded pictures to them.

    bbiab!

    <continued next post>
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 03:20 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

  8. #23
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    The contemporary pictures did not attach.
    Frying pans! Who knew, right!?

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  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freshee61 View Post
    The contemporary pictures did not attach.
    I think he is planning on going back and inserting links in all those spots that are for the pictures.

  10. #25
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    Thanks for the pictures! The refurb looks great! I love that place.
    Last edited by Freshee61; 08-04-2013 at 10:38 PM.
    Frying pans! Who knew, right!?

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  11. #26
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    Jun 2012
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    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 2 - Sometimes Making Magic is Tragic (Part 4)

    Ok, I promise there won't be any more parts to this first day. As I said before, there was just a lot that happened in this day, and it's gone on longer than I expected! I hope it's kept you entertained up until this point!

    So, Cinderella's Royal Table. I left you with a peeve...a major peeve. One that I've noticed every year except for 2010 (and it probably happened then too, I just don't remember it because I wasn't looking for it)...

    It's a multi-part peeve.

    1) Bottleneck...bottleneck...bottleneck...

    Ok, the space between the seating for Cindy's and the Bippity Boppity Boutique has turned into a major bottleneck. Between people waiting for the BBB and CRT, and those who weren't aware of them and didn't make reservations trying to muscle their way to the front to ask a Cast Member how they can participate, combined with strollers everywhere, the area, even in the lightest traffic, immedietly turns into the LA Freeway of Disneyworld. A near complete standstill.

    While I understand that they may not want to put up staunchons for queueing, I think it would be a good idea considering battling through that area is so difficult. Normally, I just avoid it and take one of the side paths to the back of the Castle, but this year we ended up going through it twice, and it reminded me WHY I avoid that area in the first place!

    2) The queues themselves, as indicated by the previous gripe, are complete chaos. People checking in consistantly mashed in with people who have no appointments trying to get in. While both are rather poorly marked (just simple signage, they are almost easy to miss), it seems to attract everyone's attention.

    3) I can't speak to the check in process at BBB, as we haven't done it since 2011, but Cindy's Royal Table is a mess. The hostesses seem overwhelmed, and communication with the seating hostess is poor. They still operate with paper slips, which I don't mind, but they rush through the instructions so quickly that you are left feeling lost and rushed as they push on to process the next family in line. Strollers clutter up the area, and they continuously announcing "please line up your strollers against the wall", which sortof kills the mood for me.



    Oh, keep an eye out for these guys! They are hiding out in the area where you get a picture with Cindy!

    Families show up en masse and because of the general clutter of the area, don't know where the line starts or ends. Therefore, there really isn't much of a line. The CMs just process through the crowd as best they can. Cutting is common, as new arrivals elbow themselves to the front desk. To be fair, I really don't blame them. It's not as if the line is clearly marked or instructions are given. It's also very difficult for a new guest to tell the difference between the "line" for CRT and just the other general mob chaos in the area.



    They try and do a "seating show" sort of thing, where they announce your names. While this is cute, it's rather silly. For example, we were granted access to the photo / meet and greet area for Cindy, and were the second family to take a picture with her. I've actually never seen her come out until this year, she's always already been out doing her thing.

    However, even though out meet and greet was over, we were not allowed to go upstairs to be seated...because we didn't have the right slip of paper (we had the one they give you first). We had to wait another 4 - 5 minutes for our name to be called so we could exchange the receipt for another receipt that had our seating assignment on it.


    It all just seemed a bit convoluted to me. Of course, they could have just been having a bad day. But, I've noticed similar issues on previous trips (CRT is probably the one restaurant we've eaten at the most over the years, since we normally go at least twice per trip.)



    Well, all that kerfuffle over with, we were seated promptly, and this year we got our two top center window seat again. I consider this "our seat", as there are only 3 two tops in the whole restaurant (all three at windows). I love this table, and it made me smile to have it back. We didn't get it last year (sigh)...

    The only thing that sortof stunk was that Prince Charmings Carousel is down for refurb, so the walls are up. I'm hoping it's functioning again later in our trip. But, if not, I'm glad to see it get some TLC.



    The meal was excellent.

    For the appetizer, I had the shrimp and grits (add description). It was VERY good. I don't remember it from the menu last year, so I'm guessing this is a new addition. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.



    The shrimp were cooked perfectly, as were the grits. The sauce had an interesting taste that brought the whole dish together. The only thing I didn't really get were the greens on the top. I would rather they added something with a little more crunch. But, it was still excellent, and I would certainly order it again. Hands down best appetizer I've ever had at CRT.



    The kid had grapes and cheddar. Nothing special, and it's what she normally gets when it's an option. I got to nibble on a few cheddar blocks, but the grapes were clearly her domain (and gone in a flash...she loves grapes).



    For entrees, I had the Beef Tenderloin. This is served with Garlic Scalloped Potatoes, Asparagus and Tomato Butter. It was a tough choice because I had the Pan-Seared Cod served with meyer Lemon Butter, Tomatoes, Quinoa and Basil drizzled with Minus 8 Vinegar last year, and it was VERY good. I was also very interested in the Braised Pork Shank, slow cooked and served with Root Vegetables and a Viognier (that's a white wine) Demi-Glace. But, in the end, I decided on the steak.

    I wish I could rave as highly as I did about the appetizer here. While the asparagus was very good (baked in olive oil with a light salt, crushed black pepper and chopped garlic...mmm...tasty!), and the escalloped potatoes were likewise excellent, with their creamy cheese sauce. The meat itself left much to be desired.

    First, I requested medium rare (the ONLY way to eat a steak!). It wasn't. It came out Medium Well, at best, if not well done. It was difficult to cut, tough to chew, and poorly seasoned. I even added salt to cover the blandness of it. But, I toughed through. I worked in restaurants too long, I don't complain. I just tough through it and make a mental note not to order it again and/or not to eat there again.




    The kid had trouble making up her mind between the filet and the chicken tenders. Our server overheard this, and offered to bring her a half sized portion of both! How cool!



    Nothing special to say about her meal. The tenders were tenders. Her filet was better than mine (I stole a bite), but still wasn't great.



    Then off to dessert (or as Cindy's Royal Table calls it...the Finales)! I had the Clock Strikes Twelve. This is a white and dark chocolate tribute to "the moment Cinderella lost her slipper". It was excellent! Crunchy dark chocolate covering a runny marshmallow like cream filling. A small spice cake on the bottom combined with a raspberry sauce...combine all these items into a single bite and it is simply fantastic. I also enjoyed the white chocolate topper as well as the sugar cookie "clock hand". I would certainly do this dessert again, and recommend it!



    The kid had "build your own ice cream". I enjoy the vanilla ice cream, as did the kid. It was gone almost before I could snap a picture of it!



    Of course, the food isn't the only reason to come here. The decore was wonderful, and the princesses were great. Snow White won my "best princess character" award last year, but this year it goes to Arial. She was awesome. In fact, I think it's the best Arial we've ever run across. She goofed around with the kid, and it was a joy to watch.



    They've also removed Belle and added Jasmine. I assume this is because Belle now has her own special place to meet and greet! Jasmine was a good choice, and one of the kids favorite. Last year I ran into a family waiting in line at Sourin (I think it was there...not important)...the kid was determined to meet Mulan and Jasmine. Those are some hard characters (at least last year) to find...but, I knew where! Her mom was thrilled when I told her to check out China and Morocco! Disney good deed of last year done! <grin>



    We finished our meal, and did the "wishing ceremony". As usual, I couldn't hear what the Fairy Godmother is saying. I wish they would turn the volume up just a little and turn it into more of a show. I wonder if they had diners who complained about it, and that's why it's so low key now. I also noted that they only gave out wands and swords to kids this year.

    Every other year I've gotten a sword of my own. I guess I probably could have asked, and gotten one...but it's not that big a deal (I just give them away to the kid's uncle each year anyhow).



    (honey, you need to wipe your mouth. I know you are excited about the Princesses...but...)

    So, bellies full (and this was a very welcome thing for me, I was famished!), we wandered off to catch our next FP+ experience. Peter Pan.

    This, my friends, was the first thing I chose when I did FP+. Why? Because the standby queue for this ride is nothing short of torture. It's hot, it's crowded, it's claustrophobic, it's boring. I don't mind the wait at Toy Story or even Sourin' so much, but Peter Pan, Expedition Everest (before you get into the themed area) and the whole of Big Thunder Mountain's queue (not sure since I haven't experienced the new interactive queue parts yet) are the worst waits in the whole of Disney, at least to me. With Peter Pan topping the list.

    So, I was very happy to FP this one! While I hate the queue, I love the ride. It is my favorite (since Horizons is now gone and Figment isn't what it used to be). As we approached the FP line, a woman and two children cut ahead of us, cutting us off literally a foot from the FP poles and station. <shrug> Ok, I'm fine with that. No biggie, she's in a hurry, I get it.

    No worries, I'll just OH MY GOSH! TWENTY people streamed in behind her out of nowhere. What looked like a group of people looking at maps was really a tour group waiting for the FP window to open up. They tussled and shoved each other rushing into the queue as if the ride was a limited time magic offering that they'd never see again.


    The kid and I were left by the wayside, as was another family (who made a rather rude, but slightly understandable given their frustration, when I apologized for being shoved into them by the throngs that were attacking the poor CM at the FP station. "That's ok. At least you speak English." was their comment. Like I said...rude...but slightly understandable considering the situation.)

    The ride was great. I think they replaced the trash bag clouds over London (which I always thought was a neat effect) with something new...but I'm not sure. I don't really scan this ride for things, as I like to sit back and just soak it all in. I love models, and this ride is chock full of them!

    Then it was off through Frontierland to get to Adventureland for our next FP+ reservation. Pirates of the Caribbean! I got the ride the one in Disneyland California a few months back, and at the time I had mentally deemed it superior to WDW (not a unique judgement either, many others feel the same), so, I was interested to compare notes and see if I still felt this way.

    Along the way we stumbled across the registration for the new Adventureland Pirates Adventure. This caught my kids eye. It's in a new building that is next to the eatery stand (which never seems to be open) that's in the connector between Splash Mountain / Frontierland / Adventureland. We signed up, using the kid's Magicband, and snagged a map for our first Treasure Hunt Adventure! The kid's band failed the first time, but the CM was quick to react, setting us up on a different terminal where it worked perfectly while she reset the terminal we tried to use.

    The maps are really well done, with a nice storyline to go with it. If you do this, I recommend taking time to sit down and read through the map and enjoy all the little details in it. There are a few different adventures (I want to say 5, but I didn't count), so there is plenty of replay-ability to this attraction. I'm sure the kid and I will be doing it again when we go back next week.

    This adventure consisted of a rogue Royal Sea Captain who is trying to blackmail Jack Sparrow to obtain a magical jewel. If Captain Sparrow doesn't help him obtain the jewel, he will attack the pirate fleet. The catch is...the jewel is cursed. I won't go into too much detail about the rest of the plot, as I don't want to give it all away for anyone else who may play. I'll just say it was interesting enough that I was curious at each stop along the way what twist would come next.

    The best interactive part, hands down, was when we got to shoot off the cannon. Somehow, they designed it to use real gunpowder (it smelled like when you shoot off a capgun). Lots of smoke billows out, and even better, you get to shoot the cannon off more than once!

    Quite satisfying, I must say!

    We took a break from our "Adventure" to ride the ride before our FP+ time ran out. Here again the Magicbands performed well. I had caught on now as to how the pole gives feedback. When you hold the band to the pole, it will read your RFID chip and start swirling as it accesses your information. If it finds a match for what you are trying to do (like showing up within your FP window) then it will turn green. If it doesn't, then it will turn red. At the same time, a screen loads information about your party for the CM to review. A few times the CM actually confirmed the name of our party.

    We walked the queue, and it was empty. I got longing looks from the people in the rather long Standby line. I almost felt bad, sortof like last year when we had the Unlimited Express Pass at Universal. But, FP+ testing wouldn't change anything for these people, they could have gotten Fastpasses on their own, so I didn't feel too bad.

    Again, it was a near walk on. As we approached the second FP checkpoint, we ran into another family in front of us who was doing FP+ and Magicband testing. They were having a rather heated discussion with the CM about their FP usage, and he kept having them try their bands over and over again, and each time the Mickey would glow red. Half the party apparently had valid FPs and the other half didn't. They were arguing with him, and eventually he capitulated when we showed up, and let them all pass.

    At first, I thought, wow, they must have either reserved the FP wrong in the system, or were trying to pull something, but my experience soon changed my mind as to who was at fault. The kid tapped her band on the left stanchion, and Mickey glowed green.

    The CM indicated that I should tap on the right hand stanchion, and I did, and Mickey again glowed green. I started to enter the rest of the queue with the kid, thinking to myself how easy all this was and how nice it was to not have to keep up with paper passes when the CM semi-chased me down and called me back to the checkpoint.


    "Sir, I need you to scan your band again." Um...ok. Sure. I did just that, and this time Mickey glowed red. "Ok, sir, try it one more time?" Mickey again glowed red. "Try the other pole." Ok. Again Mickey glowed red. The CM checked his screen and said "Sir, it seems you've already used your Fastpass for this attraction."

    Um...no I haven't. I initially was going to argue with him, but then it occurred to me...perhaps he's referring to when I first scanned my band and Mickey glowed green? So, I said just that. He checked his screen and looked at the time I redeemed the FP, and looked embarrassed. "Oh, yes sir, I see now. I'm sorry...it seems you just used it a few minutes ago. Please, go through."


    Ok...thanks. When I caught up to the other testing family, they were still a bit upset about it, and I explained my experience to them, and that it was user error. They chimed in that the same CM had them scan their bands multiple times as well. So, it seems to me, this was a training / user error, not a systematic one.

    Forgivable, considering how new the system is (I still ran into many CMs throughout the day who hadn't seen any guests with a band yet, and they made comments about it when I used mine).


    We compared notes about our experiences so far, and we both had enjoyed it. We both thought the website was terrible, especially for making Dining Reservations. We both had fallen back on calling those in. We both had issues linking dining reservations. And we both hated how many times we would make it all the way to the last screen, just to see Donald...

    They, apparently, were also having charging issues on their bands. The kids, who shouldn't be allowed to charge, were able to. Yet, the father couldn't, but mommy could.

    Odd. Guess there are still kinks to be worked out.

    After Pirates we finished up our "Adventure" and headed over to Tomorrowland. The kid really wanted to do the Laugh Floor. Some people may not be fond of that place, but the kid and I both adore it. Every trip I consider making a shirt that says "That Guy" on it and wearing it just so I can get selected...but I don't. They were still 15 minutes out from the next show, so we walked over to Speedway to check if the kid is tall enough to drive by herself (something she really wants to do), but she's still a bit shy (about 4 inches shy), so on the way back to Laugh Floor I snagged two paper Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear.

    The Laugh Floor was fun. Not the best showing I ever seen there, but still good. As you may have heard, they have integrated Monster's University into the show. A new Monster's University commercial has been added to the preshow video, as well as references to it during the show. It's not over the top, and actually I think was done in a very low key way that fits well with the show. It builds onto the universe of Monsters, Inc, rather than diluting it. Well done, in my opinion. They could easily have gone "in your face" and gaudy with the inclusion of it, but they didn't. Kudos.

    We had about a half hour until our FPs for Buzz Lightyear, and 45 minutes or so before our reserved FP+ at Space Mountain, so we stopped by the Lunching Pad and picked up two drinks and a Cream Cheese Pretzel. I used a snack credit for the Pretzel, but purchased the drinks. I love the Cream Cheese Pretzel. It's sweet, but not overly so.

    The filling is, well, sweetened cream cheese. They coat it in what I think is corn flour. It's rather tasteless. I wish they would salt the pretzel with normal rock salt like other pretzels, as I think the salty / sweet would make a nice combination. But, that withstanding, it's one of my favorite snacks. I forget who turned me on to it...Freshee I think.




    Time for Buzz! Nothing much to say here, except that the ride was fun as always. The kid ended up with 8,000 points and I had 295,000. We snapped a dancing video and a picture from behind the bars and left to burn some time before our Space Mountain FPs.

    The kid played in the mist at the Coke Spot (something she enjoys thoroughly) and then we went over to the Dance Party, which was just starting up. She danced with Goofy / Pluto and Stitch. She really wanted to get Stitch's autograph (it's one of her favorite characters), but I had to explain that Stitch was putting on a show now, and wasn't signing autographs.




    This bummed her out. She frumped for a bit...I promised her that we'd be able to get Stitch (mind you, she still doesn't know the plans). She was fine by the time we got onto Space Mountain, however. In the queue, we again had a group race past us (even though we were walking at a good pace)...that behavior was really starting to get on my nerves. Oh well...

    We got on rather quickly, and thankfully there wasn't much of a wait "behind the wall". I hate that part of the queue. It's just so drab back there! Space Mountain was Space Mountain. Again, the kid requested the front seat. Something she does every time since I introduced her to the concept.

    Last year the kid was finally old enough that I didn't have to worry over her neck with my hands stretched over the back of her seat, but I still can't help but to keep my hands off to the side of her head to prevent her from overextending something. I probably don't need to anymore...but I still do.


    She screamed the whole ride, a joyous scream. She loved it. She wanted to play in the arcade at the end, but I pulled a parental veto, as we had to leave if we were going to make it back to Contemporary in time for the Electrical Parade, and more importantly...Wishes!

    We snagged some powdered candy from Goofy's Candy Company and a bag of Popcorn (to snack on during Wishes) from the vendor on Main Street on our way out of the park. The kid also got a light up "magic wand" which she had been eyeballing.

    She actually wanted the "light saber" version, but it doesn't close up, and I was worried it wouldn't fit in the bag. Here's where I made a mistake when talking to the vendor asking if it disassembled or closed up. I mentioned..."we are leaving tomorrow and I want to be sure it will fit in our bags."


    The kid heard this, and this is where the "tragic" part of the title of the day comes from. Remember, she has no idea what is in store. She enjoyed the wand, but as we walked to the monorail to head back to Contemporary, I could tell she was upset about something. I asked her what was wrong, and she started mumbling. "mmm...mmf..fmf.dddmmm..mm"

    I didn't understand her, so I asked her to lift her chin and say it clearly. She teared up a little and said, choking up mid sentence..."But, I don't want...<choke>...to leave tomorrow!"

    Oh, I felt so bad that I couldn't explain everything right then! I just gave her a vague promise that we aren't leaving for good, and we'd be back (which I don't think she bought, frankly), but it did serve to tide her over until we made it back to the Atrium level and she saw the goodies for display. This was an unexpected pleasure for me. We hastily decided that we would have our own Wishes Dessert Party (same sort of little pastries).

    They had a lot available there, but the winner of the night for both of us was a mint froth served with Oreos. We must have had at least 2 each! Pictures below.



    We watched the Electrical Water Pageant and it was neat to see it do it's show in front of each Monorail resort in turn. When our turn came, the kid freaked out and thought that the "dragon was coming ashore!". Of course, it wasn't...but she seemed to love the idea of scaring herself with this notion, so I let it be.



    Then came Wishes. This view, I suppose, makes up for the missed California Grille view we were supposed to do last year. And, it was fantastic. While I knew intellectually that they fired off the big fireworks from pretty far behind the castle, seeing it in person from this view really drove home how far back the other launchers are, and how large some of the fireworks truly are.



    Channel 105 on the TV piped in the Wishes commentary and music. We also found that we had a great view of Magic, Memories and You (though you couldn't make out many of the details of the Castle projection, it was still neat to see). The kid went to bed and I stayed up a bit longer and watched the second showing of MM&Y and the Electrical Parade.

    This second go round, as I noted earlier, I realized I could actually SEE the parade once it got to Frontierland, which was neat. You could hear the Baroque Hoedown music all the way out on the balcony. Just cool, that's all I can say.


    So, here we are, finally at the end of day 1. I told you it was an eventful day! Internet on the boat has been hit or miss (though overall much better than I expected it would be), so I will be editing / updating these posts with pictures as I can. I may not do this until we get back to WDW, as here I have to pay for internet time. But, when I make changes / updates, I will be sure to note it in the thread so you know to look back at the post.

    Thanks for following so far. Tomorrow, Day 3 - Here Comes the Surf!
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 03:27 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

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Mickey's backyard (Orlando, FL)
    Posts
    2,542

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

    MK has been having Diamond Horseshoe open for the last few weeks now. It's only been open for 4 hours, but it's still been open. And unfortunately the Carousel is closed through the 21st

    Have a great cruise! Can't wait to hear about it
    Dream: Feb 12-16, 2012,Fantasy: 20-27, 2012, Dream: Sept 8-12, 2013,Magic: Jan 20-24, 2014,Dream: Sept 14-18, 2015
    TD Moderator

  13. #28
    Thanks for taking the time to write this amazingly detailed report, hope you both are having a great time.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    2,937

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

    Day 3 - Here Comes the Surf!

    Magic - 2 (CM at the Port, Seeing the Fantasy)
    Peeves - 1 (My kid...pretending she is Houdini and disappearing!)
    Breakfast - Too much to List, buffet (me and kid)
    Lunch - None
    Dinner - Steak Sandwich, Fries (me), Chicken Tenders, Fries (kid)
    Snacks - In room Coffee at Contemporary, Sailing Away Drink (me), Fanta (kid)
    Dining Credits - 2 TS - 2 TS = 0, 2 snack credits left (I forgot to use them!) $127 needed to break even, used $181.63 - Deluxe Dining was a Deal for this leg!
    Steps - 9,620 steps / 4.67 mi / 2,843 cal

    Waking up was easier today. The bed at Contemporary was extremely comfortable, and we both slept well. A bit too well, in the kids case, because she didn't want to get out of bed! Even using the Disney Channel to try to spark her interest while I showered and changed didn't work, so I had to get a bit forceful and be the Wake Up Monster (yeah, ok, I don't really call it that, but...you know the role...I had to pester her and eventually force her to stand up before the sleep finally started to leave her eyes.

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    What a view to wake up to!

    Normally I'd let her sleep in, but not today. First, we had breakfast scheduled at 8:45 at Chef Mickeys. Second, we had a very important bus to catch at 11:15. When we had gotten back to the room last night, a note was left on my bed that informed us that the Disney Cruise Line bus would be departing at 11:15, and we were to show up 15 minutes early for check-in. Works for me!

    While she got ready, I snapped some last minute photos from the balcony. It occurred to me that it was a bit of unintended irony that...when you look down the sides of the Contemporary, it sortof looks like the side of a Cruise Ship!

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    So, after a quick shower for the kid (she wanted to take a bath, but that is a bad idea when we are in a hurry), we were both refreshed and dressed and heading towards Chef Mickeys. Neither one of us have eaten here before, so it was nice to try something new. Many people rave about the restaurant, and with one minor exception (which I will get into in a moment) I can see why!

    I've done quite a few buffet breakfasts and never really been impressed. 1900 Park Fare was the last one I did (last trip) and I vowed I would not be returning there again. I won't get into all the reasons why here, but if you are curious you can find it in my trip report from last year. Lets just say I was...not impressed in the slightest.

    So, my only gripe? Well, when we showed up we had to wait in line. It took 20 minutes to be seated. There was another family next to us (who also ended up being seated next to us in the restaurant) who were obviously upset about it.

    We started chatting and it seems they had a 9:35 reservation. I made the comment that it makes me wonder if it's even worth making Dining Reservations for it, since it seems they were just seating everyone regardless of reservation status. They chuckled at that, but agreed.


    After being processed we were directed to take a picture with Mickey...er...a statue of Mickey.

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    And then directed to wait some more. During this time the call from Mickey that I had scheduled at 9a to inform the kid about the Cruise came in. But, since they were doing the character show, the kid couldn't hear it. So, that was a bust.

    We were seated by a nice CM who commented on the kid's braids (that happens...a lot. She actually doesn't like it when people mention it, but I don't think much of it when people compliment her on them).

    Chef Mickeys, I am pleased to say, was excellent! The only food complaints I have are the same as any other Disney breakfast...the eggs were bland and the bacon was cardboard. But, otherwise, it was fantastic. I loved that they had fresh lox and capers (one of my favorites). The sawmill gravy on a biscuit with sausage chunks was also tasty. I couldn't stop shoveling that goodness into my mouth.

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    Likewise, the kid adored it as well, and ended up eating 2 plates (not bad for an 8 year old!). I was surprised she skipped the Mickey Waffle, since that was all she had been talking about on the elevator ride down to the 4th Floor, but <shrug> Whatever makes her happy.

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    We saw only part of the show they put on there (the characters dance and sing). We did see a later show for two birthday kids (one who was next to us and kept blowing out her candle everytime her hostess would light it, which was hilarious and cute at the same time), and that was neat. All the characteres were great, but Goofy was the most playful (Go GOOFY!...he's my favorite!)

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2885/9...be3e2cf6_c.jpg

    Speaking of which, it was coming up on 9:15. The previous night I had scheduled a backup call from Goofy for DCL, just to be sure she got it, since this was how I planned to reveal the plans to her. This time I put the phone off speaker so she could hear. Lets just say it wasn't the reaction I expected. She just calmly put the phone down afterwards and said, "Goofy says he's going on a Cruise."

    <facepalms>

    So, I had to explain what was going on, and she started to get excited now. I had forgotten her autograph book in the room, so I set up the iPad for her to watch a youtube video about the Disney Fantasy while I ran upstairs to grab it.

    When I came back, where we were going had sunk in, and she was ready to leave. "Lets go, right now, I'm not hungry!" I laughed, and outlined the rest of our trip for her, being sure to mention that we were coming back to Disneyworld, and I'd make good on my promise that we would get Stitch's autograph. This calmed her down a bit, but I could tell she was no longer interested in food very much.

    So, as an aside, I want to mention the artwork in the restaurant. Take some time to notice it next time you go. Even the kid (who normally isn't into that sort of thing) noted it, and took a picture of the Pluto painting (Pluto is her favorite character).

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5508/9...73bd43fb_c.jpg

    (I think she needs to work on framing the shot...but then again, I'm not a great photographer either...so...)

    When time came to pay our hostess was excited we were using the Magicbands. She whipped out the portable device I've gotten used to seeing and scurried off to two neighboring tables who appearantly had asked how Magicbands work so they could watch me pay with it.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7361/9...08d7abe8_c.jpg

    This was a recurring experience the past day and a half. Numerous times on the parks I had guests ask "What is that?" and "How do I get one?". Regardless of your feelings on the technology, I think Disney has a winner with the system, and overall Guests are going to enjoy it.

    Heck, I know I did, and I went in skeptical...quite literally trying to find everything wrong with the system that I could. After having used it, I can say the only part I don't like is the inconsistent nature of the website. If the website was solid, I really wouldn't have any gripes.


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    However, there is one thing to note that I forgot to put in yesterday's rather long report (see, it was so long, and I STILL left stuff out!)... When I first read about the bands, I thought to myself, "No way will my kid keep that on her wrist all day." Well, I was right.

    Though, it did last from around 10a when we checked into Magical Express until around 3p before she finally complained that it "makes my wrist hot" and wanted to take it off. Later in the day (when we started doing FP+ rides again) she wanted to put it back on and wore it all day.


    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3752/9...e01bd298_c.jpg

    Today, however, she didn't want to wear it at all. So, if you have kids, be aware that they probably are not going to want to wear the bands all day. Every kid is different of course, but I just don't see younger children getting a kick out of the band for long (just like lanyards...they love to wear them for a few hours, and then it's off to Mommy's purse or Daddy's backpack for the rest of the trip!).

    I, on the other hand, adjusted to it rather quickly, and before I knew it, I actually enjoyed wearing it.

    Moving on, we paid, and had some time to burn before our meetup with the DCL bus. So, we went over to the Arcade and I set the kid up with $10 in credits while I stepped outside for a moment to do a final check in with the office while I still had decent internet to do anything they may need. I also contacted the other IT guy who works with me there and asked him to order me a new iPhone 5 and have my number assigned to it and shipped to Port Orleans French Quarter.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3678/9...022da36a_c.jpg

    Oh, heh, something else I left out of the experience yesterday...I broke my iPhone! During our little "Wishes Dessert Party" I had brought out a plate with some of the desserts on it for us to nibble on, and the iPhone was under the lip of the plate sitting on the little end-table/footstand on the balcony.

    As we grabbed for our goodies, the plate shifted, and my phone fell off the edge and SPLAT, face down on the tile floor. The screen shattered. It's still functional and largely usable (some typing is difficult on it), but I really need a new one if I'm going to work remotely. And, I have a feeling once I get back on shore, I will have a short list of things to catch up on the first weekend.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3763/9...1f13fbb4_c.jpg

    So, one final check of the room, and one final longing glance and a few pictures from the balcony, and we were off. We made sure to stop by the Atrium Lobby to pick up some free sodas for the trip / boat! I had wanted to snag a few snacks as well, but they didn't have any out at the moment. Oh well!

    The DCL bus check-in is in the Main Lobby on the first floor, near the coffee shop on the right hand side. There were a few guests ahead of us and a rather flustered looking elderly lady with a clipboard. The area is not well marked. I think in they could set up a permanent kiosk area over there, and when not checking in they can put out promotional materials for cruises...but that's just my thoughts on it.

    Anyhow, I'm not sure why she appeared so overwhelmed, but I hadn't realized she'd just dealt with a group ahead of us. I soon found out why...

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7345/9...e3d9d31c_c.jpg

    Disney Research was out in force with their mobile toughbook laptops all set up. When they saw my band on my wrist, I was immediately approached to complete a survey.

    The survey was not short, but I did my best to answer every question as accurately as possible. One thing I didn't like was that some of the questions were rather...difficult to answer well. As they wanted a simple grading metric (1 - 5 scale, basically), and there were some questions that I would love to have answered more accurately. Specifically when it came to grading the website / app (which they often lumped together, which isn't fair. The website has a ton of issues, the app, not so much).

    So, while I was filling this out (which made me lose my place in line for check-in, which I wasn't too happy about), a whole gaggle of guests who decided to show up at the last minute for the DCL bus arrived, and were clamoring all over this poor woman with the clipboard to get checked in! See, I told you I'd soon find out!

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    Since I had been filling out the survey, I had to go track her down to get checked in, but it was painless...they looked up my name on the list and scratched it off. They did ask me, in a way that made me quite nervous, if I had checked bags in that morning.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that as well. The DCL transfer includes luggage tags. These tags work from MCO to DCL or from the resorts to DCL. In the letter I got the night before, they asked that if we wished to check any bags, we tag them and place them in the entryway of the room. Bell Services would be coming around 8a to pick them up, which they did that morning (sorry for seeing me in a towel, Bell Services lady, I know that image will require years of therapy)...

    Anyhow, I probably wouldn't feel anxious about that query of theirs had I not already experienced lost luggage on this trip. So, I probably am just hyper-sensitive to it right now, and nothing should have been read into it. But, it did make me nervous!

    They put us into a haphazard line (more like a clump, really) and walked us out to the buses, which were loading outside of the Convention Center.

    Everyone seemed in pretty high spirits (including myself and the kid). The family behind us had noticed my highly stylish pink and black zebra striped suitcase, and this sparked a conversation. By stylish, I mean if you are a cast member of Jersey Shore. I...hate that suitcase.

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5539/9...4003caf9_z.jpg

    Here's the back-story. Last year her Mom sent the kiddo to visit toting a cheaply made pink and black zebra striped suitcase. I can overlook the garish nature of the bag (makes it easy for baggage claim, that's for sure)...but the bag has one major flaw. The wheels are too close together. This means, any time you hit a bump or if you walk too fast, the bag likes to fishtail out of control and flip over.

    So, last year, after having struggled with the bag, I took the kid shopping and I got her a nice well-made bag that will last her for years. This is the bag I sent her back with last year, and the bag she brought with her this year.

    The Zebra Demon Bag stayed in her closet at my house. This year, I thought I'd bring it with me and we could use it for souvenir packing. I also have ended up using it as our carry-on. That bag garners a lot of attention, and quite a few giggles. Comments were made about it when I was checking in at Port Canaveral as well. Hrm, maybe it's not so bad after all. Great ice breaker!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5496/9...5ce726e0_c.jpg

    So, we boarded the bus and snagged a seat with a nice view of one of the TVs. They played various videos, trivia games, and a "guess the character" game on the video, which was neat. The kid spent most of the ride playing a game on the iPad, though she'd pause it and watch every cartoon that played.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3805/9...4f470021_c.jpg

    It takes a lot of hard work to look that good! <grin>

    Anyhow, the ride was a very short feeling 1 hour 15 minutes. We came around a corner and I her...the Fantasy, off in the distance. I think I was the first on the bus to see it (or at least the first to say something out loud), because when I pointed and started telling the kid to look, the rest of the bus followed suit.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7450/9...8dcaecd3_z.jpg

    It was a wonderful sight. After a year of planning and thinking about it, to see her in person is quite a treat.

    We pulled into the Port and shot a dancing video. Then off through security. I was a bit worried that my Multitool wouldn't be allowed through, and I was fine with checking it at Port and picking it up upon return. They called over a supervisor, who examined the multitool and ok'd it. Awesome! I bring it with me every year because it's useful to open up packages and the like.

    Up the escalator and there we were. A huge blue room with waves on the ceiling (neat effect). A huge model was in the middle of the floor, and Mickey was out taking pictures in front of it. I thought was the Fantasy at first, but it's not. It's either the Magic or the Wonder, I don't recall which. We got into line for the "non-Castaway Club" members, along with the rest of the first timers, and were given the Health Questionnaire to fill out as we waited.

    As I was doing this, the kid decided to pull a disappearing act. See, like a moth to a flame, she was attracted to the large TVs on the other side of the room that were playing Disney Cartoons. I turned around and had a moment of panic. I pulled our luggage out of the line (which suddenly doubled in length) and started walking the concourse looking for her. I have to say, I was getting very close to a near panic, as I couldn't find her anywhere!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5464/9...ea8c3b8b_z.jpg

    I wasn't terribly concerned, as we were in a secured area...but, I couldn't help being worried. Sorry, I'm a Daddy. After a frantic search, I found her...happily watching TV in one of the waiting areas. She swears she told me she was going to go watch, but I swear she didn't. She may have mentioned it to my leg or my back, but she certainly didn't mention it to my ears or my brain!

    After a lecture, we went back to the line. By now the line had gotten much longer, and I was debating how to politely re-insert myself into it. The CM working that queue area noticed my plight and came over and said we could get into the much shorter Castaway Club line (which, unlike my line, wasn't wrapped outside of the switchbacks and down the hall!).

    Thank you CM, that made my day (well, it was one of the things that did).

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2821/9...cc111194_z.jpg

    The kid noticed some penny machines, and this time she did ask my permission properly. So, I gave her some quarters and pennies and told her to come back after every penny to check on me. This, she did. In fact...she came back a bit too often, each time asking for more quarters and pennies. On the third return, I asked her why. I had given her enough for the obviously 3 machines that were over there. "I am getting pennies for my new friends, they don't have any coins."

    How could I be mad about that? So, I gave her quite the handful, and I'm sure there are kids on the boat right now with a penny gifted from her during our wait.

    Check in was painless (which was my final concern about this trip). So, with great releaf, we made our way over to the Kids Club Registration area to get my kid all set up for that. They give out a neat little band to the kids (would rather it be a Magicband, but <shrug>). This identify's them, is waterproof and shockproof, and also (at least in my experience) not removable without cutting it off!

    The kid complained about it a little, but I think the previous day of wearing the band, she's becoming more accustomed to wearing something on her wrist.

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    We took a picture in front of the ears and snagged a navigator. After having our room keys scanned at the "check-in", we had our picture taken by a photographer (not sure what that's about...maybe identification purposes? Like a "ship logs" of passengers in case something happens?). Then it was off to the gangplank. The kid was practically running at full speed now.

    We were announced on board (something that isn't nearly as glamourous as it looks on youtube when you are toting 3 bags and have an excited kid unrestrained!) and I stopped for a moment next to the Minnie Statue to snap some pictures and soak the whole thing in.

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    The Grand Atrium is just that. Grand. Pictures do not do it justice. It is smaller than I expected, but far more ornate than I expected as well.

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2877/9...39ae8346_z.jpg

    The chandelier is obviously the oft touted centerpiece, with it's glittering pastels and peacock theme, and it deserves it. This certainly is Minnie's boat!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5515/9...33a3e83e_z.jpg

    The kid wanted to go up the grand staircase, but that wouldn't get us very far, so I redirected us to the elevators.

    Now, I don't know how I found our room so easily. Later I found myself lost on the ship several times (I'll elaborate more on that in the future)...but, we quite literally walked straight to our room. You would think we were veterans of the ship!

    Along the way I saw decorated doors and fish extenders and smiled to myself. I bet quite a few of these people are forum members of one forum or another.

    Once in the room, it took a good 10 minutes for us to figure out how everything worked. I was already aware, due to reading other's trip reports, that the room had a keycard slot to activate the electricity. I used one of our KTTW cards from Contemporary, which is still sitting in the slot now. While I understand the need to conserve electricity on the boat, and I don't mind that the electric shuts off when we aren't in the room, I do wish they'd have at least one outlet that is "always on" for charging purposes.

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2866/9...0c6ccf10_z.jpg

    So, I sidestepped the system and put a card in the slot that will stay there throughout the trip.

    We unpacked and explored the room. It is an exercise in efficiency. So, lets take a tour, shall we?

    First, I love the decor. It's simple, yet comfortable and classic. It feels luxurious without feeling overly so.

    There are two closets just inside the door (his and hers, I assume).

    Two bathrooms are opposite the closets. While both have sinks, one has the toilet, and the other houses the shower/bath.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7399/9...2a3b5bcb_z.jpg

    I had assumed that there would only be a shower in the room, but I was wrong. They managed to squeeze in a small bathtub as well. Neat! Especially for a Cruise Line focused on families.

    I claimed the bathroom with the toilet for my grooming needs, and the kid unpacked her toiletries into the other one.

    We then claimed drawers. The kid chose the ones near where her bunk were going to be, under the desk. I chose the ones under the small "bar" area.

    The room has a small couch which, while it doesn't pull out, could sleep someone if required. There's a small desk area as well, with not enough plugs. Be sure to bring a power strip. This year I skipped the strip (ok, I forgot it) and packed a plug multiplier instead.

    The issue with this is that...on the Fantasy, none of the plugs are standard US layout. They are multinational...so the multiplier won't fit / work.

    Oh well...

    So, wanna talk storage? This room is chock full of nooks and crannies. The coffee table / footstand opens up for storage (this has become the kid's toybox). The bed is high and has plenty of space underneath for suitcases to easily fit down there.

    The storage in the bathroom is deceptive...as there is a lot more shelf space than there appears to be at first. While I couldn't picture a family of four doing well in a room like this alone (it would be rather cramped), I could easily picture a family of three doing quite well here. For the two of us, it's perfect!

    There is also a heavy curtain that can be drawn down the middle of the room to give privacy between the bunk / lounge / office area and the "master bedroom" area. Nice touch! And, this curtain is heavy. When you draw it, the front part of the room goes completely black!

    So, on to the gem of the room. The balcony!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5522/9...f70fcb4e_z.jpg

    It is MUCH larger than I expected it would be. This is mostly due to the fact we are on the sloped back of the boat...so there's extra space to be had due to the overall design of the upper hull. On the deck are two chairs, two lounge chairs, and a small end table.

    The door took a bit to figure out, as there is a two lock process. One lock (a round knob) is on the upper left of the door, and is a bolt style lock that secures the door shut. The other is controlled by the handle. When the handle is facing down, and the restraining lock mentioned before is open, the door is able to be slid open. When the handle is down, the door is sealed to the door frame, and can't be opened.

    So, unpacking and settling done, we had to get ready for muster drill. Or, as the kid calls it, the mustard drill. "Did you bring your Grey Poupon?" "No sir, I only brought English!" (her joke, not mine).

    Muster was uneventful, and frankly, well done. The instructions given by the Cruise Director were clear, and the diagram on the back of the stateroom door helped a lot. When we got down there, the "Muster Leader" (not sure of the official title) was on a megaphone, and at first I thought this was going to be a situation where she preached to one part of the group, and we'd not be able to hear anything. But, I was wrong. She walked down the lines of people asking "could you all hear me" until she found someone who answered no, and then repeated her message. No one in line could honestly say they couldn't hear her! Very clever.

    One thing that did bother me, since I'm a "follow orders" sort when it comes to things like this, is how many people did not take it seriously at all. Families were not following instructions, the family to my right seemed to think this was all part of the Deck Party! They were chatting and drinking and generally making it difficult for those around them to understand or pay attention to the life saving information being communicated.

    Shame.

    So, "mustard" over, we headed up to the Sailing Away party, after a short stop by the Stateroom to check if our luggage was there (it wasn't) and to change the kid into her swimsuit. We arrived just as the Sailing Away party was cranking up. Porters were walking around handing out drinks that are...not free...

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2857/9...278bebed_z.jpg

    In fact, weak and overpriced...$10 for a strawberry / pineapple something that I got...but, considering it added to the festive feel of Sailing Away, I'm not complaining. But, if I had to do it again, I'd decline! But, as I said, it sort of added to the occasion, so, I suppose it was worth it (wish it had been a bit stronger though!).

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5523/9...f7c37035_z.jpg

    The kid experienced the whole party dancing and generally enjoying the music from the pool, while I boogied a few feet behind her on the deck, took pictures and videos, and sipped my newly acquired frozen beverage. We did step up to wave goodbye to the webcam, but the kid was a bit cold (winds were blowing in...and they smelled of rain coming...), so we didn't stay up there long.

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5481/9...282f5d24_z.jpg

    Back in the pool, I saw the clouds, and being familiar with Florida weather, I knew what those dark clouds meant!

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5549/9...d36d0474_z.jpg

    In addition, someone responded to my trip report that they had just experienced a storm and hoped it didn't catch up with us.

    Well...it did. At the first flash of lighting, they closed the pool, much to my kids dismay. It broke her mood. We went back to the stateroom and I tried to cheer her up, but she really just wanted to mope and watch Disney Cartoons on TV.

    I showed her pictures of the Oceaneers Club and Lab to try and entice her to try them out...I tried to get her excited about Enchanted Garden (our restaurant for the night), but it really wasn't happening. Two tiring days of travel and excitement had caught up with her, and her mood wasn't going to reset.


    So...room service it is!

    I had a cheeseburger, and she had chicken strips and fries. I also ordered a six pack of mixed flavor sodas.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3775/9...476bf193_z.jpg

    The burger was dry. Her strips and fries were tasty though (yes, I snagged a bite of each!).

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7346/9...13ed25ec_z.jpg

    But, we still enjoyed spending the evening together, and it helped to reset her mood. Later that night, I was able to coax her to try out the Kid's clubs. So, a rather confused walk around the ship, and we finally found the clubs. I checked her in, and went back to the stateroom. Here I worked a bit on the Trip Report, and had a rum and coke. After a while, I decided to walk the ship, so I could familiarize myself with where everything is.

    It was not only a good move that would come in handy on later days, it also proved very relaxing and enjoyable. I found the loop around the front and back of the ship on Deck 4 the most interesting parts of the ship.

    Don't ask me why, specifically. There's nothing there but white metal on all sides and Cast Only entrances. But, something about it just felt "real"...as if these parts of the ship are the "real" ship, and the rest of it is a facade.


    The deck is perfect for cutting between the fore, mid and aft sections of the boat. It 4 also serves as the running track for the ship. 2.5 revolutions = 1 mile. You'll find joggers here often.

    Deck 4 aft is where the adult clubs are. I didn't inspect them tonight, I just peeked inside. Though, I did snag a Bass Ale from O'Gills.

    Deck 4 is also the middle level of the Grand Atrium, and the upper balcony of the Walt Disney Theater. The movie theater is also located here. They also have "Shutters", which my Caribbean Beach Resort programmed brain immediately associates with a restaurant or bar, but it's not. It's a Photopass style service, as best I can tell. I'll do more research and get back to you on that. There's also an Art Gallery here.

    One deck up is are the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab.

    One deck down (Deck 3) is the shopping, Guest Services, and the lower level of the Walt Disney Theater.

    This is far from an inclusive list of what are on these decks, I'm just pointing out what stood out to me as a newcomer walking them for the first time.

    Decks 11, 12 and 13 are where the pools and "quick service" eateries are, and I suspect we will be spending a lot of time on these Decks.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3678/9...abb8866d_z.jpg

    Between these three decks you can walk the whole length of the ship as well.

    At this point I was feeling the rum and coke and bass ale (ok, and I may or may not have picked up another beer on Deck 11...<grin>), so I went back to stateroom for a while and waited for midnight, when I planned to go pick up the kid. While she has trouble changing gears, she is a social child, and I was pretty sure she was having fun with her new "friends" in the club. I wanted her to do this, to get into the attitude of a "cruise".

    This was something I needed to work on as well. It has only been one night, the first night even, and I already am having trouble adjusting. It is nothing like doing a park. First, everyone is much better dressed.

    In fact, I felt severely underdressed (to the point of feeling uncomfortable) in many instances. Second, and this could be a reflection of my own insecurity about the ship, everyone seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going. I just felt lost, and many times simply frustrated.


    I knew I wanted to find our restaurants. And, I knew where they were located, both on the ships maps and in terms of description (deck 3 mid, for example)...but I found myself walking into dead ends on decks, lost with the elevators, etc.

    That first night I just felt overwhelmed by it all. Deck 4 became my highway to everything, and was my saving grace.

    So, I picked the kid up, and she had a blast that night. Couldn't wait to come back, according to her. We walked along Deck 4 and back to our Stateroom where she got into her pj's and promptly passed out on her bunk.

    Oh, her bunk! Well, I'll get into that in another post. End of Day 3.

    Coming up, Day 4 - So Much to See at Sea!
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 04:04 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

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    84

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

    How were the crowds in the Magic Kingdom our first park day is the 8th and I am just curious how the crowds were.
    It's the place that dreams come true for all

    -Mason-

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