Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy - Page 5
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  1. #61
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg View Post
    Wanna watch wishes with us? I'll just set one up at our feet on the pavement, and you'll get our view!
    Yes, please! Very cool of you to take the time. I'll have to be sure to keep my schedule freed up that week so I can watch it all, haha!
    Couldn't imagine life without WDW!
    Last Trip: Oct 2015
    Upcoming: Feb 2016
    Treehouses(2) Vaca. Villas(2) Poly(1) Contemporary(1) CSR(1) CBR(4) POR(1) Sports(4) OKW(1) SSR(2) AKL(1)
    **Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally, Golly, what a day!**

  2. #62
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Yes, please! Very cool of you to take the time. I'll have to be sure to keep my schedule freed up that week so I can watch it all, haha!
    Ok. I'll see about it. The setup is easy, but lets see how well the Disney networks stream first.
    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

  3. #63
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    FastPass+ Update

    Ok, my final FP+ window opened up tonight about an hour ago, and since I'm pulling an all nighter, I decided to go ahead and reserve them.

    So, this is a good point to discuss my experience (mostly positive) with FP+ and MDX.

    I actually meant to do this for the last FP+ window, but I lost all my screenshots overnight because I hadn't saved them in Paint.NET (where I was keeping them for editing after using CTRL-PRINTSCREEN) and Microsoft Windows Update decided while I was slumbering that I HAD to do a reboot, and it did it overnight. So, I lost all the pictures. Partially my fault for not saving them, but thanks Microsoft... <dripping with sarcasm>

    (and, before anyone comments, I know I can turn that feature off, but I prefer not to manage it. As frustrating as updates can be sometimes, leaving it on auto-update and auto-install is just easier)

    So, now I have new screenshots of a fresh experience, so here we go!

    Step one, New Fastpasses! I really like this screen. It's clean and easy to use.



    Next screen, you get to pick who you are making reservations for. Pretty easy for a group my size (only 2), but this is also a neat feature.



    Ok, so, this next screen. Looks nice. I wish it skipped ahead to your vacation dates (so, yeah, be aware of that, you'll need to use the toggle buttons to get to the right dates instead of it auto-centering on them, but...that's forgivable and a minor gripe).



    But, after this, I do have a GUI (graphical user interface) gripe.

    So, you can select your day and your park. Great! Very intuitive!



    Oh, and what's this? You can select more than one day!



    Ok, that's neat. But, here's what I discovered that isn't so neat...

    So, lets say you select more than one day. Well, not to many people go to Hollywood Studios 3 days in a row, so lets say I change my park to Epcot on the menu.



    Well, it changes ALL the selected days to Epcot!



    No notifications, it just does it. The first time I discovered this, I actually found out after I moved onto the next step. It's really a bad UI design that there isn't even a warning. Either they should limit you to select ONE day only, or they should allow the system to multi-day select with multiple parks.

    And, again, if I've already selected my parks in the My Itinerary section, why don't those carry through as at least a note here? They should. Again, minor gripe, but that would dramatically improve the experience.

    So, just a suggestion should someone from Disney read this. That needs to happen in the future.

    Also, if you do mess up and select multiple days, you are sort of stuck at that point. The system (I don't have screenshots, but I did experience this) will walk you through all the days, but only for the ONE park you chose. The only way to "fix" your issue is to cancel your process and start all over again.

    If there is a way to "unselect" a day once you've clicked on it, I haven't found it. Clicking on it again doesn't "uncheck" the day, which is what you'd expect. So...cancel and start over again it is!



    So, repeating the process again, let's move on.

    The ride selection screen is pretty well done, and I like the way they have popups (instead of redirects) when you click on details.



    And the next stage you get to choose some "options" for times.



    Now, here I have a few suggestions for Disney. It is really awkward, especially for someone not used to the parks, that a few different things are not listed here.

    For example, conflicts with ADRs should be listed here (or at least the ADRs if they have been made). Another example are common events that people may wish to see, such as parades and shows.

    It would really stink if you make your FP+ reservations, but they conflict with your ADRs and/or a parade or show you are also interested in. Especially if your ADRs are off park like at a resort or a different park.

    There is no easy way (that I could find) to access this information during this process, so I grabbed my phone and pulled up the MDX app on it to check my ADRs and other time sensitive things just to think through the conflicts. But, as all that information is ALREADY in the system, it would be much simpler to have it displayed here by default (even if it is just a note sort of thing).

    Anyhow, that would be a very nice addition.

    One other thing I noted is that the options sometimes (happened to me twice) change your ride selections for you.

    So, don't just breeze through looking to the right on time alone. I had, for example, ToT replaced with Great Movie Ride as one of my options...GMR doesn't need a Fastpass...ever...and that's rather sneaky of the system to do it that way.

    Though I do understand why Disney might see it as "neat"...I do not...

    I said I wanted these 3 things, don't go giving me other things as options on the sly...with a notification, sure, but an automatic replacement? No thanks!

    Ok, the last section is where you can modify your selected times, and really streamline everything. This is a great section. I have two complaints / observations, though.

    One is strictly UI design based. When you first get to it, you see this...



    Very clean, very easy to figure out. So, you can "modify" this FP+. Got it. And that brings you to a nice "modification screen", which again is very user friendly, and I think well done.



    It's the last step AFTER you modify (or cancel) that the UI goes a bit bonkers.

    Ok, as a side note, the key to a good UI is that users can find the same things in the same places using the same terms. In this case, and this is a minor slight, Disney failed. As, it doesn't take you back to the first screen, as it should logically. Rather, it takes you to a third screen that is a blend of the two. The Modify button doesn't reappear, and stays "stuck" as the "change experience button". If you want to further tweak times, you need to use the "edit time" link off to the right. And, to compound the issue, it does this to ALL of the FP+ reservations, not just the one you edited to cause this screen to appear.



    Is it awful? No. But, it could be better, and something that should be cleaned up.

    I know it sounds like I'm griping, it's because I am. I do this work for a living, so I look at it a tad differently (with a professional eye), so please keep that in mind and take my critiques with a grain of salt.

    So, there you have it, my experience with FP+.

    Overall?

    Well, it's improved a HECK of a lot since the first time I used it in 2013 when I was in a testing group. It's better than last year when I was trying to plan out that trip which had to be cancelled.

    I'm very pleased with where MDX is going. I still am iffy about the uber planning aspects involved with a WDW trip as opposed to Disneyland (where basically all I did was book hotel and tickets), but considering the attendance and crowd considerations, I can see why Disney felt this was a good addition to the WDW experience.

    Also, as I saw in 2013, the app has performed flawlessly. It updates nearly instantly with my changes to plans, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. The website...well, it's still got some work to be done.

    Here's to hoping it keeps getting better!

    - - - Updated - - -
    (I really don't like this "update merge feature", it will make it very hard to live update the report for my coming trip)

    Schedule Update (Semi Final)


    Once again, after making several modifications to FP+ and ADRs, my schedule has changed a bit. It's a "semi final" schedule as I'll review it once again in a few weeks, but this is the last major update I have outside of the DC portion of the trip until my payoff date for the final WDW leg of the trip.

    So, here's how the itinerary looks, shall we?

    Aug 7
    *Fly from ATL to DCA on Delta
    *Check into the Embassy Suites and meet up with the kiddo.

    Aug 8
    *Breakfast at the hotel (free and freshly cooked! Nommers!)
    *Smithsonian and National Mall
    *Lunch?
    *Washington Monument at 7:30p
    *Dinner?

    Aug 9
    *9:25 flight with Jetblue from DCA to MCO. We'll arrive around 11:30. This should put us at Portofino Bay, with a taxi ride from MCO, around noon. I'm still debating if we get a limo or luxury black car just for giggles)
    *Go to the parks
    *Lunch wherever. I want to try Leaky Cauldron...we'll see what the kiddo's moods are.
    *Blue Man Group center front row seats at 7p
    *Explore Citywalk for an hour or so before going back to the hotel

    Aug 10
    *Early morning swim?
    *Breakfast at Three Broomsticks at 10a
    *Lunch at Mythos at 2p
    *Dinner at Lombard's at 7p, with a Dessert Party / Special Viewing Area for the Cinematic Spectacular.

    Aug 11
    *Cabana Bay and have breakfast at Bayliner? I really want to walk this resort for future planning and just to say I have...but I'm not sure if it will work out. I think the kiddo would enjoy a few hours to play in their pool as well, but this is still up in the air. One thing to note, unlike Disney, Universal DOES allow for pool hopping between resorts.
    *Something from the Crusty Burger area at Uni for Lunch
    *Not sure what to do for dinner. I think we'll just wing it. Probably something QS, as this day we'll hit the parks hard!

    Aug 12
    *Trattoria del Porto at Portofino Bay for breakfast at 8a
    *Taxi over to AKL after breakfast. Again, not sure if we'll do a limo or town car just for giggles. Probably not.
    *Check in or drop off our luggage, then hop a bus over to Magic Kingdom, and from there a boat to Ft. Wilderness. Yeah, I've ruled out the bus (unless weather doesn't cooperate), as I'd really like to take the launch and ride the waves. If time is an issue though, we'll snag a taxi from AKL...but, ideally, that's how we'll get there.
    *12:30p Horseback Riding at Ft. Wilderness
    *Take the Resort Shuttle to the Bike Barn and Trading Post for...
    *Fishing
    *2:45p Archery Lessons
    *Head back to AKL and hang out around the pool, get settled in the room, whatever
    *7:15p Dinner at Sanaa. I'm still iffy about this. I adore Jikos. But, I really want this trip to have "new" things for us to do.
    *Spend the rest of the evening setting up the webcam that I'm going to run from our balcony while the kiddo plays with the day/night monocular I bought and takes pictures, video, etc. of the animals as we gorge ourselves on complimentary club level goodies.
    Aug 13
    *Magic Kingdom!
    *Breakfast at Cindy's Royal Table at 8:05...making sure to take pictures / video of the empty park!
    *2:10 lunch at Be Our Guest
    *Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 3:05p - 4:05p
    *Peter Pan's Flight at 4:20p - 5:20p
    *Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet at 5:40p - 6:50p
    *6:45 dinner at Tony's Town Square
    *We are gonna do MSEP and Wishes the old fashioned way, staking out a spot at the base of the Castle about an hour before the show.


    Aug 14
    *EPCOT!
    *8:45a Breakfast at Cape May. I'm still not sure about this one. It would mean I'd need to take an AKL bus to HS or EP, and then a return bus to the resort. I may cancel and try and replace it with something else, but there really isn't much to do for breakfast at EPCOT...
    *Spaceship Earth 10a - 11a
    *12:30 Lunch at Via Napoli
    *Figment 2:05p - 3:05p
    *Soarin 3:20p - 4:20p
    *Nine Dragons at 6p
    *8p Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party. Still iffy about this, as I am against dessert parties as a whole, but we've never done one properly, and I thought...why not?
    Aug 15
    *Breakfast at Boma at 8:55a
    *DCL Transit will pick us up, I suspect sometime around 10a - 11a, and we'll head off to Port Canaveral and the Fantasy!

    Aug 16
    *At Sea - No plans yet

    Aug 17
    *At Sea - No plans yet

    Aug 18
    *St. Maarten
    *Create Your Own Perfume
    *PIRATE NIGHT! (the kiddo will be going as Elizabeth Swan, and I will be the Dread Pirate Roberts! I'll update when the costumes come in)
    Aug 19
    *St. Thomas / St. John
    *The kiddo has family here who have said they'll plan our day for us. Still not sure what the plans are.
    *This is pretty much what I'd expect from them, I can't plan excursions because they say they'll have our day planned out, so I think this day I'll leave free. I love em, but hopefully they'll come through?
    Aug 20
    *At Sea - No plans yet

    Aug 21
    *Castaway Cay
    *Castaway Cay Getaway Package which includes bike rental for an hour (the kiddo loves to ride her bike), snorkel rental and tube rental for the day.
    Aug 22
    *DCL should have us to Art of Animation around noon.
    *Downtown Disney / Typhoon Lagoon
    *2:00p Lunch at T-Rex
    *7:45 Dinner at Splitsville
    *La Nouba? Yes, we skipped it the past two trips. It's time to go back. I need to book tix tomorrow.
    Aug 23
    *Animal Kingdom (I have no idea why AK ends up being a Sunday thing for us every year, but it does!
    *8:20 breakfast at Tusker House
    *1:30 lunch at Yak and Yeti
    *Snacks at Harambe. Yes, I'll point out the poo poo platter.
    *7:15p dinner at San Angel Inn
    *Watch Illuminations again or go to DS/DTD (I can't wait for them to finish the full conversion so I can stop having to use both names when posting...)
    Aug 24
    *Hollywood Studios!
    *Ohana for Breakfast at 7:55a
    *10:15 to 11:15 Toy Story Midway Mania
    *11:40a Lunch at Sci Fi Dine in
    *2:25 - 3:25 - ToT
    *4:05 Dinner at 50's Prime Time
    *6:15 - 7:15 Star Wars
    *Watch Fantasmic today.
    Aug 25
    *Last day..so sad.
    *Breakfast at Landscape of Flavors
    *11:45 Lunch at Cindy's Royal Table
    *After the 3p parade, we'll head back to the resort.
    *7:35p flight on Delta back to Washington Reagan. Arrive very late (11:45p)
    *Check into Residence Inn Arlington to crash for the evening.
    *Meet up with the kiddo's Mom to return her back to everyday life...

    Aug 26
    10:45 return flight on Delta back to ATL
    Last edited by englanddg; 06-23-2015 at 03:57 AM.
    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. #64
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Ok, some background...



    I know you left me standing there



    Out of the calm of the coldest air



    I don't believe the words you said



    But I can't find the words I want
    Oh, I can't find the words I want



    If you were gone in another life



    I don't believe I would just survive



    I could feel you next to me



    An escape from the world I'm in
    Oh, I'm afraid of the world I'm in



    One day I will see heaven's reach



    I'll find the one who left me sleeping



    Every war was another seed



    That could feed every soul in need



    Oh, I'm worn by the war in me



    Somebody found me here.
    Somebody held my breath



    Somebody saved me from the world you left



    If you're gonna cry my tears



    If you're gonna hold my breath



    If you're gonna let me see the sun you set



    Oh, I am lost and found
    Oh, I am lost and found

    Somebody found me here



    Somebody held my breath



    Somebody saved me from the world you left



    If you're gonna cry my tears
    If you're gonna hold my breath
    If you're gonna let me see the sun you set



    Oh, I am lost and found
    Oh, I am lost and found
    Last edited by englanddg; 06-23-2015 at 05:05 AM.
    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

  5. #65
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Gorgeous photos!

    I agree about the FP process. The app was confusing the first couple times I used it. Iím used to it now, but itís a lot of steps to change things around after they make you select one of their schedules. But overall, I like not having to search for paper FPs or run around to FP machines while Iím at the park. But I don't like having to choose between two rides like Test Track vs. Soarin.

    Regarding your scheduleÖ

    I used to live in D.C. Try not to miss the Vietnam memorial and the Air & Space Museum. The Washington Monument must be awesome at night. I've never done that.

    Cabana Bay looks so cool! I hope you get a chance to see it. (And take pictures.)

    Your August 12 schedule sounds fantastic! I love Ft. Wilderness. We spent a little time watching the dogs run around in the dog park.

    Sanaa has great theming. I think there's some kind of free tour you can take to learn about it. I love Indian food, but felt it was lacking at Sanaa. At least what I had. DH liked it a lot, though. And I have to admit that Iím an extremely picky eater. Get a window table.

    Peter Panís Flight has a great new indoor interactive queue. Worth going through if the wait is 25 minutes or less. Youíll miss it with a FP. It has some very remarkable special effects. Try not to miss it. I think it's better than the other interactive queues.

    Donít get too close to the castle for the show or you wonít get to see it all. You really need to stay back to get a good view of the projection show.

    I didnít like breakfast at Cape May. This was many years ago. We were three adult women and the characters completely ignored us. We had to keep tracking them down. The food was ok. Nothing special. Iím sure theyíll pay attention to your table, but we couldnít understand why they kept passing us up. Why would adults go to a character breakfast if they didnít want to meet the characters?

    Via NapoliÖdidnít like the pizza. Sauce and toppings were very good, but the crust was soggy. Iíve heard that complaint often. Don't sit in the main room. It's so loud and echo-y.

    Check out L'Artisan des Glaces ice cream shop in France. DH loves the ice cream martinis and I love the macarons. Very yummy!

    Iím interested in hearing about Nine Dragons. Weíve always avoided it because of the reviews, but Iím wondering what itís really like. I love Chinese food.

    Where is the dessert party? Youíll most likely be in a fantastic position to watch the fireworks. I think you should go.

    I canít wait to try Tusker House. We keep putting off, so someday weíll get there. Yak & Yeti...lettuce wraps...mmmmm!!! See if you can get a second floor window seat.

    Check out this website for TSM: The secrets to getting a high score in Toy Story Midway Mania | Guide2WDW

    Thatís one exciting and action-packed vacation youíre taking! I hope you have a day or two of recovery after you get home!!!
    TALK DISNEY MODERATOR

    DL: At least 5 times in '80s
    WDW: '72, '77, '88, May '03, May '04, Nov '04, Jan '05, Feb '05, Dec '05, Jan '06, May '06, Oct '06, Nov '07, Nov '08, Feb '09, Oct 09, Dec '09, Mar '10, Apr 10, Dec '10, Mar '11, May '11, Oct '11, Dec '11, Jan '12, Oct '12, Dec '12, Feb '13, Dec '13, Nov '14, Dec '14, Feb '15, Mar '15, Apr '15, May '15, Aug '15, Oct '15, Dec '15


  6. #66
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    This sounds like such an amazing trip! Thanks for posting the screenshots of the FP+ screens. I will be making FP+ selections for the first time very soon and it was helpful to see how it works beforehand!

    I am also trying to book ADR's for places I haven't eaten before. How do you like Sci Fi Dine in and 50s' Prime Time? I'm going with a, shall I say, selective eater. So places like Sanaa are out of the question!
    ďNo matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.Ē

  7. #67
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Quote Originally Posted by vanessprincess View Post
    How do you like Sci Fi Dine in and 50s' Prime Time?
    I love Sci-Fi Dine-In! I've been there quite a few times. The food is good enough, though nothing special, and the milkshakes are fabulous. The retro drive-in atmosphere is so much fun! I love sitting in the car watching the old movie trailers. It's kind of romantic in a weird way. I didn't think I'd like the fried pickles, but they were pretty yummy. I thought the smoked turkey sandwich was boring. My favorite was the veggie burger, but they changed it since when I was there, so I can't recommend it. Regular burgers are probably your best bet there.

    50s Prime Time looks great and we often will go to the bar area (Tune-In Lounge) for drinks. I've eaten there twice. Once was the meatloaf while sitting at the bar, the other was a sandwich (can't remember what kind) in the actual restaurant. Food was unimpressive both times. In the restaurant, we had an apathetic waitress who didn't "play the part." But that might have been a good thing.
    TALK DISNEY MODERATOR

    DL: At least 5 times in '80s
    WDW: '72, '77, '88, May '03, May '04, Nov '04, Jan '05, Feb '05, Dec '05, Jan '06, May '06, Oct '06, Nov '07, Nov '08, Feb '09, Oct 09, Dec '09, Mar '10, Apr 10, Dec '10, Mar '11, May '11, Oct '11, Dec '11, Jan '12, Oct '12, Dec '12, Feb '13, Dec '13, Nov '14, Dec '14, Feb '15, Mar '15, Apr '15, May '15, Aug '15, Oct '15, Dec '15


  8. #68
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Thanks Curious Alice! I'm not sure we would want a waitress playing the part either...so I may stay away from that. I will give Sci-Fi Dine in a go though! DF loves a good burger.
    ďNo matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.Ē

  9. #69
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    vanessprincess, are you just going to be a couple of adults? If so, go to the Tune-In Lounge for a drink. You'll get a feel for 50s Prime Time without the hassle. I recommend going near closing time to avoid crowds.
    TALK DISNEY MODERATOR

    DL: At least 5 times in '80s
    WDW: '72, '77, '88, May '03, May '04, Nov '04, Jan '05, Feb '05, Dec '05, Jan '06, May '06, Oct '06, Nov '07, Nov '08, Feb '09, Oct 09, Dec '09, Mar '10, Apr 10, Dec '10, Mar '11, May '11, Oct '11, Dec '11, Jan '12, Oct '12, Dec '12, Feb '13, Dec '13, Nov '14, Dec '14, Feb '15, Mar '15, Apr '15, May '15, Aug '15, Oct '15, Dec '15


  10. #70
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Really minor update. Cirque is booked. First time we've seen it since 2011. I'm curious because the talent has changed out due to retirements, and I heard the show is slightly different.
    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

  11. #71
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    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy



    This will be my last update until I get my next Mickey Mail (I'm still expecting 2 Magicband shipments, as well as my official DCL welcome packet...though, I'm not sure if they still do the ornate brochure they used to on my last cruise, but I'd be surprised if they didn't!)


    So, I have finally paid off the entire trip. It feels fantastic. Though, I'm sure my bank account will disagree!

    That said, I've got a whole month to get my shopping kitty inflated, 3 payrolls, so, that's fine. One more trip done without credit! Yay!

    My tickets for the Washington Monument came in, and while it's nothing exciting, I thought you all might like to see what their "welcome packet" looks like. So, with no further adue...









    Nothing really to say about the tickets. They are just that...tickets. I booked it late so hopefully we'll get to see the sunset from the top of the monument (that historically happens around 8:13 pm, and I've never seen it (in fact, I haven't been to the top of the monument for over 20 years!). This should be fun. That said, the kiddo went to the Smithsonian last weekend, so I'm not exactly sure if we'll repeat that. We probably will, and we certainly have to do Air and Space.

    Also, we are certainly doing lunch at Mitsitam Cafe in the American Indian History Museum!

    I looked up the menu, and it won me over! I'm anticipating some Buffalo Chili Indian Taco for lunch! Nom nom nom!

    Menu - http://www.mitsitamcafe.com/content/...enu%202015.pdf

    Now that I'm fully paid off, it means that I can go ahead and do the online Check In. The online Check In window is

    The process is rather painless. You get to the online check in through the "Reservations and Itineraries" screen.



    You have the ability to set your expected arrival time. For me, I chose 9a for both reservations. This is because I plan to head over early from Portofino Bay for our Ft. Wilderness excursions! And, for our AoA arrival, we'll debark the ship early to get back, cause I want to squeeze out a day at DTD/DS!



    You can also add amenity requests, but I didn't have any for AKL (I'm club level with an Arusha view already, not sure what else I can ask for?). For AoA, I requested highest floor with a garden view. I'm really hoping we'll have a nice view of the statues, pool, etc, but we shall see!)



    Scrolling down you can add your credit card (which is already linked for me). This is the card that will be "tied" to your Magicband. The reality is that your Magicband is really tied to your resort room charges. When you max out your room charges, they'll use this card to clear your account. Or, you can call in and request the front desk clear it at any time (this is why I program the direct front desk numbers into my cell phone for every trip, but more on organization in a later update!). The different resort categories have different charge limits. For Deluxe, it is $1500. For Moderate, it's $1000. For Value it's $500. But, remember, they can be cleared out at any time during your stay, just ask!

    You can also set up your pins. But, my MDE pins have already been set up. This is an issue though, because...well..I don't think I remember them! So, I'll need to figure out how to reset my pins, which will come up later.

    But, moving on, after you accept the terms and click Done, Woody will process your requests! How nice of him!



    And you get your confirmation, and that's that! Check in done!



    Now, lets figure out how to change those pins!

    So, I guess it's under my profile? Oh hey, what's this?



    Yes, I'd like to manage my payment methods. And lookey lookey!



    Pin updates a success! When I rendezvous with the kiddo, I'll allow her to set her pin. I think this time I'm going to allow her to purchase things, though, I'm still mixed about that...maybe I'll just do a gift card for her. :P



    So, that's it for this installment! Next update will be when I get my next Mickey Mail, or when I finish the DCL online check in (which I still need to do). Cheers!
    Last edited by englanddg; 07-03-2015 at 02:57 AM.
    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. #72
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Posts
    581
    I have been MIA from talk disney for a bit but was excited when I hopped on a week or two ago and saw a pre-trip report from you. Love all the details. Your trip sounds wonderful.

  13. #73
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    2,937

    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kris315 View Post
    I have been MIA from talk disney for a bit but was excited when I hopped on a week or two ago and saw a pre-trip report from you. Love all the details. Your trip sounds wonderful.
    Howdy Kris! Welcome back!

    I've got more updates coming tonight (Mickey Mail and some other things!)

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

  14. #74
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    2,937

    Re: Pre-Trip - englanddg's Is this the Real Life or is this just Fantasy

    Packing List


    Main Checked Bag


    Clothes
    Shorts (4 pairs)
    T-Shirts (4 shirts)
    Running Shorts (3 pairs, 1 for exercise, two for sleeping)
    Light White T-Shirt (3 shirts, 1 for exercise, two for sleeping)
    1 pair running shoes
    1 pair of Keen Sport Sandals
    1 pair of dress shoes
    1 pair of Water Shoes
    1 Swimsuit


    Our Fish Extender
    The Toiletries Kit
    The Laundry Kit


    Toiletries Kit
    Toothbrush
    Toothpaste
    25 q-tips
    1 multi-function razor/clipper combo unit with fresh razor blades
    Spare extra medicines (Tylenol, Alka Seltzer, Tums)
    Adult Vitamins
    Children's Vitamins (Frozen)
    Dramamine (anti-sea sickness pills)
    Children's Dramamine (anti-sea sickness pills)
    Spray on Sun Tan Lotion
    Spare Contacts (6 pairs)
    Contact solution and case
    Second pair of backup glasses (yeah, I'm blind, I take glasses and stuff quite seriously)


    Suit
    I will need this for Remy and Palo, which I intend to visit this trip. I decided rather than pack my own, I'm just going to bring my dress shoes and rent a Semi-Formal suit from Cruiseline Formalwear. This has the advantage of it being a new suit, it being the proper size (instead of me having to have my current suit altered), and I don't have to fill up luggage space! It's a little pricey, with all the options it comes out to $106 for the 7 days, but otherwise a win all the way round!


    Laundry Kit
    All the laundry systems I will be using no longer take quarters, but rather use a card based system, so no need to bring change or smaller dollar bills for this.
    Purex All In One Washer/Dryer Sheets (x 12, enough to do 6 loads)
    Eight wooden clothespins (I will use these to hang swimtrunks, etc, to dry)
    Laundry Bags (x2, one for me, one for the kiddo)


    Extra boxes (mailed to AKL, to be transferred to an large empty suitcase the kid is bringing for checking to DCL)
    Fish Extender gifts


    Carry on Briefcase


    Office Supplies
    1 Silver Sharpie
    1 fine/thick dual sided Sharpie
    6 Ballpoint Pens
    3 Mechanical Pencils
    Small Notecards (3 dozen)
    Blank paper
    All this is stored in a folio that has:
    Backup credit card
    Breeze Card (Marta)
    AAA Card
    1 pen
    All of my paperwork stored in it in the order of events. So, the first page has my Delta reservations sheet, printed off the web. The second sheet is the printout of my Embassy Suites. Third are the tickets for the Washington Monument. And so forth.


    Camera Supplies
    Charger for the Sony Camera
    Charger for the GoPro
    Charger for the Pentax (it's a waterproof shock resistant camera that I'm going to let the kid use on this trip if she wants)
    GoPro with chest mount, head mount and other accessories, and a 64 gig SD card, all in a ziplock bag
    4 5 volt Outlet to USB chargers and 1 10 volt outlet to USB chargers
    3 3 foot and 1 six foot USB to Lightning charger for the iDevices
    One iPhone 5 (this will be used during our cruise by the kiddo to access the Navigator App)
    Macbook Pro with Charger
    Magic Mouse
    2 2TB Western Digital Passport Drives for daily picture and video backups


    Carry On Daypack
    This is my new Park Daypack. After 5 years of solid use from the old one, I decided a slightly larger form factor would be a nice addition. Inside is:
    A small medical kit with antibacterial spray, anti inflammatory spray, a few princess band aids, some children's ibuprofen, some Advil capsules, some Pepto Bismol tablets
    My day camera (Sony Cybershot)
    iPad Air
    1 pen
    1 pencil
    1 sharpie
    Our Magicbands (6 of them)
    Spare Glasses (set #1)
    1 set of spare contacts with a case and contact safe eye drops
    My passport


    In my pocket I'll have my iPhone, with my Passport Card / ID / primary credit card attached to a little "wallet" thing I got from 3M to attach to the back. It holds the cards just fine!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Day 1 - I took a Walk


    <an actual custom video will replace this later, this is a soundtrack marker until I get my editing software up and going>
    [MEDIA=youtube]q5MiaAr4s8U[/MEDIA]

    Metrics first! Yes, we are doing the metrics again this year! Though, I am going to change them up a bit!


    Magic - These are experiences that stood out, above and beyond normal expectations of service.
    Memories - Self explanatory really, just special things that didn't necessarily involve an individual or service related things, just things I appreciated that make the trip all the better.
    Meh - Just that. Things that make you go Meh.


    Hey, I think we have the new show for WDW's Fireworks! The Magic, the Memories, and Meh! Fresh for the world of selfie sticks, Twitter and Facebook!


    I'll collect other metrics, some throughout the trip, others through different stages.


    Step Team - This is coming from my Fitbit. It's a neat little pedometer that connects to an app. I still prefer the one that connects to your belt as it measures hip movement, which I find more accurate than phone apps or even the bracelets that do the same (or expensive "smart watches"). Yeah, I'll stick with my bottom of the line Fitbit...thanks! Anyhow, I will use a few abbreviations. They are "SW" for Steps Walked, MW for Miles Walked, AM for Active Minutes, CB for Calories Burned (I am not even going to TRY and count calories consumed!)


    Dining Plan Credit Breakdown with Estimated Cost / Value - Yeap, I'm doing it again! I have the DLX Dining Plan for both legs of WDW, and I'm going to see if I can come out ahead (or at least break even)...I can't say that about my scale when I return...that may just break.


    ----------------
    Magic - Seeing my kiddo again
    Memories - Seeing my kiddo again
    Meh - Delta's unclear luggage policies and practices
    Step Team - 22,812, 11.07 miles, 221 AM, 3758 CB
    ----------------


    Well, it's been a long time, but the time has come. Today we headed out on our adventure.


    It's been a rough two years for me, and just as hard on her I'm sure. I hear it in her voice, and the questions she asked. She didn't like being apart any more than I did. But, that time has come and gone, but I'm getting ahead of myself!


    My day started as usual. Work in the morning, meetings around noon, server crash around 3p. Ok, I'm sortof kidding there, the server didn't "crash", but a service did hang and it needed restarted. This ended up eating up all my time I had planned for some last minute errands, and as a result I found myself running around like a banshee trying to get in any last minute things.


    But, I get ahead of myself. Lets start at the very beginning, I've heard that's a very good place to start.


    And, that starts with an email I got from Delta that allows me to pre-check. See, I have these FE gifts (more on that in a later post). And, I have quite a lot of them. And, quite a few of them are heavy. And no, I'm not telling anyone what they are (yet)...again, you'll have to wait a week for that suspense to be relieved! Sorry!


    But, the point is, I had two suitcases and a duffle. Like an athletic style duffel, you know, with shoe pockets and the like. Sortof the type of thing a football (soccer or American) player would carry. Anyhow, the duffle was filled with some of my shoes and the center pocket entirely with FE gifts.


    To make it worse, my SECOND bag was also 3/4 filled with FE gifts (it will make sense when we get there...am I teasing your interest yet?).


    So, I thought, what the heck, with Delta I'll pay $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag...so I had assumed the third back would be what, $45?


    Go to precheck...and...um...NOPE! The price jumped from $60 for the two bags to nearly $250! I was floored!


    So, I spent the next hour (drink in hand, sorry, but I needed a rum and coke to contemplate this one!) repacking literally everything. I put the FE gifts, for the most part, into two boxes, and today shipped those out to Animal Kingdom Lodge for a grand total of $45. EAT THAT DELTA!


    <does a goofy dance>


    This left me with 2 carry on bags, but one was really heavy. So heavy I couldn't get it (with it's wheels) to balance properly on the bathroom scale to get an idea for weight. So...I guess I'll find out!


    That said I didn't get to bed until nearly 4a. I ended up sleeping in, though I was technically "off" today, I did say I would come into the office for a few hours just to tidy up final bits. Which, is what I did...but man, I needed about a pot of coffee to get going at 10a!


    Anyhow, moving on. Work was work, and I won't get to much into it. Lets skip to the beginning...it has started...





    I got dropped off at the Doraville Marta Station by a coworker who now has my car keys (yeap, well, I trust her. If i can't trust the VP of our company, and my compatriot, whom can I trust?). That set of keys has been given to our HR person who, oddly, is covering the Helpdesk and other things for me while I am away. I've been documenting and training her for months.


    Oh, for those unfamiliar, I work in IT for a small to mid-sized company. I am the CIO, but for a company this size that is a title more than a function. <grin> I do a little bit of everything IT related from low tier helpdesk stuff all the way up to software design, development and testing. It's a lot of work, but it also always gives me something to do, and while every job has it's highs and lows, overall I enjoy what I do. Yesterday I got her registered at the Datacenter, and now I finally feel ok stepping away for a bit.





    I refilled my Breeze Card, and lugged my heavy bag down the ramp to the elevator. There is NO WAY I'm taking this thing up the stairs there.


    Ah, an aside, the Breeze Card. Many city public transit systems use something similar, but one thing I REALLY like about the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) rail system is that they only charge you per trip...unlike say NYC (though it makes a bit more sense there) or METRO...but, that's another thing I'll cover tomorrow when we get our METRO passes renewed! METRO is the Washington, DC area transit system. This is actually the same Breeze Card I've had for years. I only put enough on it for the few times I use it, but if I want to go downtown (like World of Coke) or to the Airport, to me, coming from North Atlanta, this is the BEST way to go!


    A short wait later and I was off. And just as I got to the top, here came the train! Things are looking great.


    As a side note, here is a picture of the "view" from the Doraville Marta Station. Over there used to be a very large General Motors production plant that closed down well over a decade ago, as far as I could tell. The fact it is being demolished leads me to believe there is something coming? A mall perhaps? Condos? Who knows? Rumors flew for a long time about a casino coming there, but I doubt the State of GA will allow that (it would a massive change to state laws)...but...follow your nose to where the money flows! (wasn't their a toucan that said that...or maybe it was a Duck...a McDuck?)





    The A/C was nice and cold, just how I like it. However, lugging this heavy luggage around, I am getting a bit frustrated. However, I was able to get it to the proper place on the car. There are these indentations on the cars that are for luggage or large items (bikes) specifically, and even though the train was empty, on a Friday Night rush hour, I'd rather respect the rules in case it got crowded as we hit midtown or so (it usually does this, you hit the center of the city, more people get on, and the south of the city tends to use the system far more than the north, in my experience).





    No singing man or entertainment like last time. In fact a rather quiet trip.





    Getting off at the airport, I stopped after tapping my way through the Breeze terminal to clear out my wallet and get fully settled into my new "wallet". I'll post a picture of it later, but basically it's a rather unique 3M rubber sleeve that someone gave me that attaches to the back of your phone. It holds 4 cards snugly, but works best with 3. I will do a more detailed write up on it later, when I have more time, because so far I really enjoy it. But, moving on.


    I cleared out my wallet, moving some of the cards to my administrative center (a notebook) and putting the empty wallet into a small pocket on my computer bag. I'll hold onto it through the trip in case I find I don't like this new setup, but if I do, then I'll stow it away when I get back to my house, and may never go back to a wallet again!


    We shall see, intrepid explorers!


    Well, going through my cards, I found a leftover $10 Applebee's giftcard. I have no idea where I got it from, actually, and I don't like Applebee's very much, and don't even know if it's any good...but, I'll never use it. So, I stopped a random person who was leaving (meaning, they would be in ATL for a while, and may wish to partake in an Applebee's), and she said she'd gladly take it (I mean, who wouldn't). Of course, she looked at me a bit weird at first, but who wouldn't? Anyhow, that done...


    <PSST SIR!!!>


    Um...


    <PSST SIR!!!!!! STEP BACK!!!!>


    Um...


    Yeah, I'm staring at this lady in a MARTA "uniform" and her hair tied up in a rag. Neither of which looked like they had been washed, much less pressed, in quite a while (if ever). Oh, I see...I had reached over the 20 foot temporary border (the same ribbon type they use for TSA queues and other places) to hand the card to the lady departing (I was still on the arriving side).


    Of course I apologized and acted respectful, but in the back of my head I thought, what, why? I mean, had we been 6 feet further down, there would have been no barrier. So...why was she stopping me? I then recalled her leaning on the wall earlier looking like a cow chewing cud...er...I mean, bored. And, well, I suppose she earned her paycheck for the day. Yay taxes!


    <rolls eyes>


    Went on to the Delta Check In (as I refused to check in online until I was sure what the status of the anvil bag was going to be), and the kiosk was painless...until...I went to go pay for the final 2 bags. It would NOT scan my credit card. Tried the next kiosk. Same thing. Third kiosk...same...thing...


    Ok, so there's this thing they make (and I only know this because I used to maintain systems like this) that cleans the sensors, and another thing that will let you test them...and I can understand that they get a LOT of volume, but you would think someone at Delta would think about this and have a higher (maybe even weekly?) maintenance schedule for them.


    I would chalk that up to me just have a 3 in a row run of bad luck, but I noted other people on the other side of our kiosk bank having similar issues. So, I gave up and chose the "pay cash" option, as I had to check the bags anyhow. Now, that's misleading, as they'll gladly take credit/debit at the bag check...so...er...just a suggestion, maybe after you try a certain amount, the programmer should add something that sends you over there and lets you know it's ok, and they'll take care of it?


    Minor, I know, but these little touches really help, imho.


    Bag check as uneventful...and I finally found out what my main bag weighed in at. 100 lbs on the nose (which is good, because 100 is the MAX they'll allow on a flight!). So, I paid the overage charge (which was heftier than I expected, but still cheaper than shipping, yeah, last night I checked Fedex, UPS and even USPS rates (as I really don't need to see these items until late next week)...so, all is well.


    I stopped for a bit to check out the great airplane models! I am quite the sucker for these things.





    They have added some fantastical "steampunk" models as well. This was a really neat one, reminded me in a way of the Dreamfinder's ship...and if there had been a model of that there I probably would have feinted on the spot after having a 15 minute nerd-gasm. But, they didn't...HOWEVER...


    They did have this in the submarine model section. YESSIR!





    However, I noticed a good friend, someone I've said goodbye to whenever I leave ATL was MISSING!





    HENRY WAS GONE! (Read my 2013 report for details)


    Also, Atlanta Bread Company, another staple was missing, replaced by some "french bistro". I crinkled my nose in disgust as a southerner. I have nothing against Au Bai Pan (spelling, but it's a chain, it's ok, and that's what this looked like), but even though I was famished, and I still had an hour and a half to burn or so, I decided to get food in the Terminal.


    So, off to TSA!





    That's right. Standing means traveling...at least to the TSA!


    Actually, TSA jokes aside...I was TSA Plus this go around, and I must say, it was amazing. I was in and out in under 10 minutes. I even got flagged for a "random check", and that took only a few minutes. And, I have to say, I think this is the first time in recent memory when I can recall seeing TSA agents smiling and interacting with people. They had the dogs out today, and while you are not supposed to interact with the dogs, TSA was smart and had someone answering questions, etc...talking about how much training they go through, etc, and just making small talk with adults and children in a very professional and knowledgable way.


    Everyone has their own opinions on TSA and DHS, but I must say (and if anyone from there reads this), I was incredibly impressed. I like people who do their job, do it thoroughly and professionally, and with a little bit of personality. And, there was a lot of that on display today. Wow...I can't believe I had something positive to say about the TSA...normally it's "meh" at best, and sometimes terrible. But, I must say, I actually enjoyed it, for what it was. And, they weren't "skimming" over me or others. I saw them being quite thorough, but also being smart about it.


    Anyhow, I'll stop with that, but I must say, after 13 or so years of existence, perhaps the TSA (or at least at ATL) is starting to get it?


    (I don't want to color my compliments with that last statement, my post has used TSA enough that I'm sure it's been flagged by some system for review! Bet they won't expect a compliment!)





    I always walk the Atlanta Airport rather than take the trains. Especially if they are crowded, as they were today. The AIRPORT wasn't crowded (not by a long shot), but people cram into those trains like clowns in a clown-car. Nah, I have a bit of tubby tub tub that needs working off, so no thanks, I'll walk.


    I also like it because of the African Art. In short, in the late 90s, a lot of African Art was put on display in the walkways underneath the runways between the concourses, and...I like to look at them.


    And, since Henry is gone (RIP HENRY, replaced by a Lexus...THAT ISN'T COOL ATL AIRPORT AUTHORITY!!!!)...I needed to see some friends.


    Oh...wait...what is that? A troll from Frozen?





    Not quite!





    I call this one "A Study in Maximizing Profits" aka How Delta makes you sit when you fly coach and are over 5 feet ten inches tall"





    And of course my favorite stream...or is it?





    The water spirit. Do you see her now?





    As I was walking through the statues, some random guy called out "Peace and Long Life" and gave me the Vulcan Salute. I kid you not. I was shocked at first, and quickly recovered and responded, "Live Long and Prosper". I think DragonCon was recently, so maybe that guy was affiliated with that? A 50+ something dude, but that doesn't preclude fandom...in fact, for that IP, it increases the likelihood, I'm quite sure.


    Moving on, they hadn't quite finished the T-Gates refurb last time I flew, and now it's largely done, and it looks really nice! I love the ATL airport, I'm sorry. There are a lot of pretty airports, but I could spend all day at ATL and never gripe (after refurbs). There's so much to see and do...especially AFTER you get through TSA!





    I got a black coffee at some coffee shop that didn't know what a black coffee was for a few minutes. And, I was behind some lady in striped pajama bottoms with an accent that I'd place as NYC...and she had to have her "chai soy milk splenda sweetened tea on 4 ice cubes" or some mess. She berated (I don't mean politely, I mean that word EXACTLY, demanding them make it 3 times in a row after taking a sip, and then demanding her money back...try #4, the manager walked over and said...um...here's your money, go away...in short).


    Yeah, I'm easy, and I stepped up after watching this and said that. Black coffee please.


    The cashier about had a conniption (ok, so maybe this lady wasn't so wrong?). Appearantly they almost never sell the stuff? <sigh>


    I like froo froo coffee, but firmly believe there is such a thing as having too much froo in your brew. Just enjoy a good strong blend from time to time! But, to each their own.


    I sipped my coffee, and watched everyone rush to board as soon as boarding was called. I don't understand why people do this, frankly. I'd much rather sit in the concourse than cram myself into Delta coach seats for the next 35 - 45 minutes. I wait comfortably off to the side, sipping coffee and playing on my iDevices until the line thins. I understand First Class and those who need to board early for special reasons, but for us regular sardines? Why fight to be the top fish in the can? I'm perfectly happy being at the bottom. When it gets down to a few people left, that's when I head over (I do NOT want to inconvenience the flight, but I just don't see the need to be in that much of a rush...)


    On the way in, I got another compliment from the stewardess on my Star Trek shirt (I love this shirt). I don't have a pic, but I'll post one later.


    TOS baby, TOS! (The Original Series, though having run through a lot of them this past few months, I now concede to the fandom that thinks DS9 really was the BEST series, but TOS is still surprising excellent to watch, for its age)


    I promise I'll post a pic of it later, but I'm too lazy to take one right now (yeah, that's terrible, isn't it?). But, I only have a few t-shirts. Next day I wear it, I'll post it.





    Boarded and ready to go!


    (continued in Part 2)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Day 1 - I Took a Walk (Part 2)


    The Sunset was gorgeous.





    The...internet speed...was not.





    And, actually, I have a rather large gripe (one which is going to generate a call to Delta from me). I PREPAID for GogoInternet for this flight, but after logging in got a message that said that even though my account had prepaid "credits", they were not applicable for this flight.


    Well, then, that's Delta for you. And, I want my $14 bucks back Delta. And you are darned well going to give it to me (they can't argue anything, I booked directly through Delta. No Priceline, no Travel Agent...straight from their website...


    Grrrrrrr.....


    But, whatever. It worked ok. It tried to watch the GOP debate as I missed it last night...and figured it would make good background noise (nothing political meant by that) while I did some work. But, it was just too sluggish to do much. I did "work", and for an hour long flight to DC, it didn't bother me much at all, but the days of fast streaming on Gogo (which I used to do, but that was years ago...and I was an early adopter) are fading as everyone and their grandmother has to tweet and facebook and...my reaction?)


    Stop eating MY BANDWIDTH!





    Ok, yeah, yeah, I know...it's not "my bandwidth"...but it makes me rather sad. When it was me and probably 3 - 5 other people on the plane back 4 - 5 years ago, surfing streaming sites and going all over the web wasn't a big deal. Today? Well, this is what success brings. Sometimes it's not always better.


    (oh, and Gogo is affiliated now with AT&T...so...maybe that's it... <wink>)


    Anyhow, flight was easy. But again, we land and another thing I've never understood happened. Everyone stood up and crowded the aisle. I mean, this ALWAYS happens, but I don't get it. Just sit and relax. Read a few pages of your book. Browse Sky Miles. I'd much rather depart in turn, or even late, than body press with people like I'm "up in the club"...no thanks. But, people do it. <shrug>





    ATL flights pretty much always come to this wing of DCA. And, it's under a LOT of construction. I'm not sure I like the new look at all!





    That could just be fond memories of me and the kiddo here...munching on some last minute McDonald's before heading to ATL or MCO...


    Lots of uneventful stuff happened after this. I contacted the kiddo's Mom to let her know I landed, and she said she'd head my way once I got settled at the hotel so we had a solid place to meet. Fair enough.


    20 minutes of waiting, and the hotel shuttle showed up. Off to the Embassy Suites, Crystal City, VA!


    The guy needed my help to load the 100 lb bag (which I didn't mind, and frankly, I normally don't tip these guys much, but I gave him a fiver, even though I did the lions share (I'm also 6'2" and bench quite a bit more than he does, I'm quite sure...not that I'm strong, far from it, I'm a flabby tabby, but I don't think he could have been more than 5'3" and he had the build of Ghandi).





    Check in was uneventful, but I noted this sign...and it's a policy a really don't like.





    Not the hold, necessarily, but the 72 hours until refund. Doesn't effect me, because I am prepaid...but...that's just a silly policy!


    The Front Desk guy who checked me in had a very nice suit, and an extremely nice watch, but a trashy attitude. I was NOT impressed. Also, I had requested a "room upgrade" through a feature they had that if a better room could be available, for a slight uprate, they'd give it to me! Sounds good, so I asked for a high floor facing DC proper.





    Lets see...what I got...





    Well, this was unexpected. I merely asked for a Double Room, not a "2 room suite". And, I am on the top floor for this hotel (11th)...








    Decent bathroom (nice in my book, but for newer hotels...decent...5 years ago it would have been "WOW!"...)


    Decent bed setup.





    Two 40" flat panel TVs, one in each room. Overall, not bad at all...and then I opened the curtains. And...wow...the view...wow...





    Now, this isn't "Amazing" until you hear the price.


    $98 per night for 2 nights, with the upgrade $110 per night. And we are 1 block from the Metro station. This, for an area where I stayed at a hotel that had a "discounted rate" at Pentagon City of more than twice that, and got much less room, and about the same convenience. I am pleased.


    Thanks Bill Shatner, Priceline got me a great deal here! Maybe it was the Star Trek ToS shirt that gave me good luck?


    I set up my workspace...nothing fancy, as we'll be packing back up and checking out for an early flight Sunday, so no need to get too comfortable...





    Yes, that is an iPad connected as a second monitor. I LOVE THAT! But, I was hungry. I'd had a gatorade and a 16 oz coke, that's it...all day. And I wanted something substantial...like a burger!


    But, here's the issue! Everything in Crystal City seems to like to close up at 10p or 11p, and it was already 10p (I didn't even get the the hotel until 9:30p or so!)...


    I didn't want something from the hotel (they have a full restaurant with room service options as well), even though the menu looked very nice. We may do this tomorrow night, but not tonight...so, I went walking.


    I asked my phone..."restaurants near here", and they found a Ted's Montana Grill that was a 10 minute walk away, and was open till 11. So, that's where I went! (thanks Siri!)


    Along the way I saw an interesting mural, apparently for a Farmer's Market. I suppose a bunch of vendors show up here during daylight hours and peddle their wares to the local yuppies and hipsters? <I kid, I kid, I love Farmer's Markets! I am a foodie and all!>





    And a half a block later, I was there!





    I really enjoyed the bar decor. Nice old west feel!





    And, I decided that this guy is Bob the Buffalo.





    Though, it's a bit unsettling in a way...it's like Bob is just sitting there staring at you as you eat your Bison Burger or Bison Filet saying..."I hope you like eating my tail end, meanies!" (and the answer is, yes, yes I did!)


    I ordered a "Canyon Creek", which has a patty (Bison or Beef) with blackberry jam, bacon, jalapeno slices, and a fried egg on a bun of your choice. I chose Bison meat (medium rare of course!) on Brioche.


    But, before I left I decided to have a beer and a shot. It had been a long day, and I deserved a treat. I got a Yeungling Draft (they didn't have much of a draft choice, frankly, but they had a lot of the Sasparilly (hard liquor). I told the Bartender to give me a shot of his choice, something mid shelf that he liked.





    He gave me a Buffalo Trace Bourbon. I'd never had it before, but it was incredibly smooth. I'd have one again (and, actually I did...I had two, I admit it!). The tender wasn't light with his pour either, so I appreciated that. And, that smooth bourbon warmed my stomach. Finishing my beer, I took my newly prepared food back to the hotel, as I'd just gotten a text that they'd be there in a half hour or so.


    Back at the hotel I bought a Dr. Pepper (they don't have regular coke? BLASPHAMY!) and chowed down. This picture does NOT do this burger justice. I'd eat this again any day of the week!





    The fries on the other hand were a bit soggy. That's normal with take out, and I'm sure they would have been better had I munched them fresh from the kitchen instead of a 10 minute walk later...but...they were still tasty. I didn't finish them though.


    (Continued in Part 3)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Day 1 - I Took a Walk (Part 3)


    And then I got the text...


    They were here. Her mother had blindfolded the kiddo. And, when I got there, she had the kid life up her blindfold, and she jumped into my arms and hugged me and said DADDY!!!! and kissed my cheek.


    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!





    If you want to know why Nala on her head, that was her idea. She also says that the hotel "reminds her of the cool one from Disney"...and you can see why (and guess which hotel?)





    She's asleep in the other room now, and we'll be heading off to Day 2 in a few hours. Breakfast at the hotel...


    So, keep tuned, my friends...Day 2 coming soon (like...tomorrow, I hope!)...


    <insert link to Day 2 here later>


    Oh, and you get your first glimpse of the Webcams I'll be using for part of the trip. Decided to play with it tonight instead of later in the trip. So enjoy your view of the Washington Monument!


    https://video.nest.com/live/Q2Br7U
    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. #75
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Birmingham,england
    Posts
    55
    This is amazing ! Your daughter is a very lucky girl, can't wait to read about the rest, have a magical time

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