PDA

View Full Version : PSM - May 5 to 14, 2008 - Pop Century



PSM
04-09-2008, 01:40 PM
Travel dates: Monday May 5th through Wednesday May 14th (10 days, 9 nights), 2008

Travel method: Roundtrip nonstop on Delta from Hartford, CT and Disney's Magical Express

Resort: Pop Century

Accommodations: No special requests

Ages Represented in Group: 23 and 23

Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Me (Joe) 20+ trips, 3 trips for my girlfriend (see below for more details on this)

Cast of characters:
- Joe (me) - My brother and I were taken to Disney by my grandparents pretty much every year since I was born until I was a sophomore in high school - sometimes twice a year (I know, I'm spoiled, but they loved taking us, so who were we to complain?). I am now 23 and haven't been in 8-9 years, so much has changed from what I've read about. I always loved Disney and can't wait to go.

- Mara (my girlfriend) - She was taken to Disney once by her parents when she was little, once again in 7th grade, I believe, and the last time she was in high school for a band trip but she didn't really get much "free" time. She is also 23 now and hasn't been in 8-9 years.

INTRODUCTION

Mara is the real reason we're going this year. We have been together for over 4 1/2 years now and we typically go on a vacation once a year (better to live life now, I say :)). We've gone on a cruise a couple
years ago, last year we went to Vegas, to the Outer Banks in NC the year
before that, and on a few little weekend trips, but we've always wanted
to go to Disney; it was just too expensive.

THE DECISION AND BOOKING

This year we were trying to decide where to go, perhaps another cruise or
Vegas again since we loved both, but she mentioned Disney and so I
started looking up pricing just for the fun of it (I love to plan stuff,
even if it's not going to happen or if it's for someone else).
We tend to book trips "on the fly" (ie very late), so I wasn't really
sure about planning a major trip like this so late as it was already late
February by the time we started looking. It happened to work out,
though, that I was able to find a really good deal on flights. I then
got a good price on the hotel/ticket/dining package through an agent on
the dates that we could get vacation time from work and she would be in
between semesters for grad school. I figured you only live once, so I
booked the trip.

We originally planned on staying at All-Star Music since I'm a musician
and thought it would be fun to stay there, but when my uncle and
grandparents got back from their trip in February, they told me that Pop
Century seemed like a nicer hotel to them and they really enjoyed it, so
I went for it (same price).

I decided on 10 days total, including flight in and out, so it's actually
more like 8 1/2 days of useable time since we're arriving around 10:30am
on the 5th and leaving at 11am on the 14th (flight times). I did this
because I figured if we're spending the money on a Disney trip, we might
as well make sure we have enough time to fully enjoy all the parks and
highlights since we probably won't be able to go again for quite some
time.

We also included the Basic Dining package in the trip because after
reviewing, we realized we'll have to spend little to no extra money on
food if we plan right.

THE ITINERARY (fairly basic so far)

Disclaimer - I like to plan trips down to the last detail, but Mara
likes to plan as little as absolutely possible and then wing-it when we
get to our destination, so we had to compromise a bit (I can still plan
for the fun of it, though). It is very possible the trip won't go
exactly according to my plans, but I'll try to keep it as close as
possible; dinner reservations help. :)

Note - Unfortunately, we booked the trip late enough so that I was
not able to get dinner reservations at three of the restaurants I really
wanted to eat at: the Castle, Chef Mickey's, and the Coral Reef. I keep
calling back to see if anyone cancelled, but nothing yet except for a
lunch reservation at the Coral Reef, which I took. I'll keep trying.

Monday - Our flight leaves Hartford, CT at about 7:30am and gets
in at 10:30am, so we'll get to Disney by 12-1:00pm??? We'll attempt a
check-in if the room is ready and then take a long walk around the hotel
to see all the sites and get acquainted. This is the only night we
haven't decided on what to do yet. I believe Mara will want to go to the
Magic Kingdom, but Downtown Disney is also an option.

- We have no dinner reservations for this night as of right now.

Tuesday - We plan on spending the entire day and night at the
Magic Kingdom. Perhaps we'll head back to the room for a break in the
early afternoon, but we typically sleep a little later than we should,
even on vacation (I won't lie). Hopefully the excitement will wake us up
early, though.

- We have dinner reservations at the Liberty Tree Tavern at 7:00pm.
Neither of us has eaten here before.

Wednesday - We want to spend the entire day and night at Epcot
(once again, with a possible break in the early afternoon). I can't wait
to try out Soarin and Mission: Space. Test Track had just opened last
time I was there and I got to ride it once; it was a blast and I actually
race cars as a hobby, so I'm looking forward to trying it again.

- Dinner reservations at Les Chefs de France at 7:10pm. Neither of us
has eaten here before.

Thursday - We're going to spend the morning and early afternoon at
Typhoon Lagoon. I love water parks but she's not a huge fan, so we'll
see how long we last. I've been to both water parks before, so I have an
idea of what I want to hit and what I can skip over if we cut this visit
a little short. I think she'll enjoy the water parks a lot more than she
thinks, though, once we get there and get on some of the slides.

- We're going to spend the evening at Downtown Disney and have dinner
reservations at Cap'n Jack's Restaurant. Mara's a big fan of POTC and
pirates in general, so I think the name caught her attention. We'll
probably spend the night shopping and checking out the various clubs,
etc.

Friday - Hollywood Studios for the day and night. I can't wait to
see Lights! Motors! Action!, as I'm very into cars, and the Rockin
Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror are always awesome.

- We have lunch reservations at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at 1:20pm and
dinner reservations at 50's Prime-Time Cafe at 7:10pm. I've eaten at
both and liked them; I think she'll really like them because she likes
themed restaurants.

Saturday - We're going to spend the majority of the day at Animal
Kingdom (probably until close around 5:00pm, I believe). I've been to
this park twice: the first time it was in late summer and it was so hot
my brother and I just left after only two hours and seeing the bug show,
the second time was not long after, but I don't recall much about the
park at all. My girlfriend seems to remember it a bit better, but it
will be a learning experience for us both in terms of a new park. I
can't wait to give Everest a shot.

- We then want to spend the evening back in Epcot and have dinner
reservations at Teppanyaki Dining Room (new name now?) at 7:45pm. I've
eaten here once when I was little and remember it was run to see them
prepare the food. She's never eaten here before.

Sunday - Morning and early afternoon at Blizzard Beach, then the
evening at the Magic Kingdom.

- We have dinner reservations at the Cystal Palace at 7:40pm. Mara
wanted to hit a few character meals, so this was one I remember enjoying
when I was little. I believe the Liberty Tree Tavern from the first
night is also a character breakfast, so we've got a couple.

Monday - Another full day at Epcot. There is so much to see at
Epcot between the two separate sections that I believe we won't have any
trouble spending another day here.

- We have lunch reservations at the Coral Reef at 1:30pm and dinner
reservations at Amarakesh at 7:00pm. I ate at the Coral Reef a LONG time ago and remember it was very cool since I'm a big fan of aquariums, snorkeling, etc. Mara has a bit of a fish-phobia (live fish, that is), so I figure this will be a good way to help break her of that. It took a long time for me to convince her that snorkeling in the Caribbean would be fun, but once I got her in the water, she loved it, so I'm hoping for a similar reaction. Neither of us have eaten at Amarakesh before.

Tuesday - Our final day before the flight home, so I figured we
can spend it at the Magic Kingdom for most of the day. As with all the
other days, plans can change if we decide we want to spend more time at,
say, Hollywood Studios or Downtown Disney. I set a lot of time aside for
MK and Epcot because you can never get enough of these parks in, but I'm
sure our plans will change a bit when we get there and find that we want
to hit the Rockin Rollercoaster or Tower of Terror again. Or maybe
she'll want to do some more shopping. To me, this is the great advantage
to the Park Hopper with Water Parks and the reason this feature is
totally worth adding.

I also saw on this site that someone uses the last day to hit all of the rides at each park that they enjoyed most. I think this is a great idea and will ask Mara about it, since the Disney transportation to and from each hotel and park seems to be pretty top-notch (or at least it was when I was last there).

- We have dinner reservations at the Plaza Restaurant at 7:00pm. We had
hoped for Castle reservations on our last night, but no luck yet, so we
just grabbed another restaurant in the same park; this way we can check
that night to see if any spots open up at the castle.

Wednesday - We fly home on this day. Since we'll both have to
work Thursday and Friday, I didn't want to fly back too late. It's an
11:30am direct flight back to Hartford, CT that gets in around 2:30pm, I
believe, so that allows us to sleep in a little bit before having to
leave for the airport.

MORE COMMENTS AND NOTES

We plan on eating breakfast at Pop Century pretty much every morning, but
we may try a breakfast somewhere else if we get the urge and reservations
aren't an issue. I'm still reading up on it. I also didn't mention that
Mara is a big fan of hanging around the pool and we will, therefore,
probably be extending our mid-afternoon breaks to include some pool time.
Like I said, some of this might change, but to me half of the fun is
planning out what I want to do when we get there, even if plans aren't
solid. It really builds the anticipation and helps make sure I don't
miss out on anything I really want to do. I think this will be a fairly
nostalgic trip for me since I used to go so much but haven't been in such
a long time (even the name of MGM has changed!).

I'll definitely be posting up a Trip Report when I get back...but let's
not think about that yet! Hope you enjoyed reading!

Joe

Mermaid
04-09-2008, 09:10 PM
Great pre-trip report!! If you don't need a big breakfast, we used a snack credit to get a box of 8 doughnuts in the food court. It was breakfast for two days and a great deal. I am excited to read how the trip goes!

dsmolij
04-10-2008, 05:59 AM
My son and I do the dining plan every year we go, as for reservations, sometimes its just as easy to stop by Chef Mickey or any restaurant and ask if they have seating available. 9 times out of 10 there will be seating available. Most places like the luau and hoop dee doo review and 5 star places need reservations. Sometime playing by ear pays off. Glad you are staying at the Pop Century, the All Star Music and Movies are nice, I have stayed there several times, but it is so far off the beaten path. Enjoy and have a great time. I head down in August.

PSM
04-10-2008, 08:42 AM
Thanks for the comments! I do plan on trying to get a table at the remaining two restaurants when we get there if I can't get a reservation by then, but it's not the end of the world if I can't; we're still eating at some great restaurants.

shordiebecka
04-15-2008, 12:15 PM
Hey! I'm coming from Hartford too, May 1-May 7. I take it you live in CT also, huh? Are you staying over night at the airport or a hotel near the airport the night before? I'm thinking about it. Have fun on your trip, and good luck getting into the places he wants to eat!!!:cool:

lindawdw
04-19-2008, 04:35 AM
Sounds like a great plan! You're going to really enjoy Pop Century. I think it's a great value for being able to stay in WDW and it's a fun resort to explore! Your dining ressie's sound good. Enjoy.:)

TinaMouse
04-20-2008, 07:22 PM
Hello, Joe! Great trip report--well, pre-trip report. Your trip is coming up really fast. I do have a few comments that might help you. I'll comment in the same order that you described your plans. I hope that you're cool with another two cents......

--10 days is my ABSOLUTELY favorite amount of time to go. You should be able to keep a good pace with that.

--Magical Express is terrific. It's a great service.

--Pop Century. I love it. It's pretty big and can be busy at times. There's the closest section to the main building that's terrific for access to food, busses, etc, but it's potentially loud. The outer buildings are a 5-10 minute walk further out, but can be REALLY quiet. Especially if you're on the lake side.

I'm jumping ahead a bit here in your notes and tell you that the food court in the morning for breakfast is NUTS. Absolutely a mad house. It's great in the afternoon and evening, though. You might want to get some grab-n-go items the night before and then eat in your room. I did ok getting mug refills in the morning, but getting through the line was atrocious (this was in the off-season!). Food was sometimes cold by the time I paid. Hopefully, this was an isolated incident!!! Just wanted to mention it to you.

For the price, though, Pop Century is awesome. You won't be disappointed.


--Itinerary--I'm a planner like you. Just "pretend" that you're winging it so Mara doesn't notice. HA! She'll be appreciative when you utilize fastpasses well and have reservations for dinner....

--Coral Reef. Yeah, take what you can get. Lunch is fine. Just eat a lighter dinner. SInce you are on the dining plan, it will be balanced (heavy/lighter meals). When you get on-site, call the dining line from your room. I have had TERRIFIC luck in getting last minute, week-of ressies once I got there. I wasn't expecting to be able to, since we had a last-minute trip like yours last March. I was able to get LTT and Cape May easily. Good luck!

--Check-in/Monday. Even if you can't get in your room, they'll store your bags. 1:00 is a potentially safe time. We arrive on-site around the same time and we've been able to get into our room.

--Tuesday. You might want to plan on the break in the afternoon. Get to the park early. I know it might not happen on every day (it is vacation, after all), but it will be easier to tour. It's also quite hot by May and you may need a break. We ALWAYS utlitize the afternoon break, even if for only 2 hours or so. Keeps the momentum!

--Liberty Tree Tavern. EXCELLENT choice. You'll love it!

--Wednesday. Le Chefs. I tried it for the first time last October. It was fabulous. Our best meal of the trip. Very romantic for you two!! If you eat VERY slowly, you might time it right to see Illuminations. The trees somewhat obscure the view, depending on where you are in the restaurant. I think our ressies were for 7:30 and they let us stay and watch Illuminations.

--Thursday. Good to have an "off day." There's the lazy river if she's not game for the big stuff, and hey, what's wrong with laying in the sun with a book? Great idea to take the day in a non-park commando way. Sleep in a little; get there at 10, leave at 2 or 3. GREAT day!

Haven't eaten at Cap'n Jack's. Raglan Road is my personal fav and you can hop over there for some great live music on most nights. Might be a good choice since you said you were a musician!

--Friday. I liked the Lights! show. I had ignored it for the last trip or two and then put it on the schedule this last time. LOVED it.

--Now I know people are going to poo-poo Sci Fi, but we liked it! Good place for a burger and if it is super hot, it will be a perfect respite in the cool darkness! 50's prime time is fun too. Since they're both TS, don't worry about finishing both meals. It would be WAY too much food. We had 2 days where we ended up with 2 TS in the same day (intentionally--it was the way the day was scheduled). We just ate about 1/2 of whatever they brought us. Of course, a burger at Sci-Fi isn't exactly a 12 course meal! Both excellent dining choices. Really fun!!

--Saturday. Yes, it can be VERY hot at AK, especially as the day wears on. I think all of that foliage holds in every ounce of moisture. It's wicked hot and humid. (My DH is from Boston--he says "wicked" a lot!) If you don't have lunch plans, consider Flame Tree BBQ. EXCELLENT. A must-do for us on every trip now. There's a great Tea stand too, over by Yak & Yeti and EE. Terrific teas there if you're into tea.

--Evening. Haven't eaten at Teppanyaki.

--Sunday. No comment about BB. Haven't been, but everyone raves! Crystal Palace is a good buffet choice. It is a memory from childhood for me too!

--Monday @ Epcot. We spend more time here than any other park. Seriously. Keep your Coral Reef Ressies for lunch. It will difficult to score a dinner ADR, I'd think. You might traumatize her if she's afraid of fish, though! It's quite confining if one is scared of water or fish. Warn her--They do give a card to "find the fish" as they swim by. Perhaps that little game will make it easier for her. Haven't eaten at Marrakesh before...

--Tuesday @ MK. We did the same thing. Had a "flex day" that we figured would be at MK. It was. Evening was at Epcot, though, b/c we loved it so much. Hopping is your friend! You could always take the monorail and hop to the resorts to check them out. THat's a fun and relaxing afternoon away from the parks.

--Plaza Restaurant. If you don't get into the castle for some reason, this is a great alternative. Nothing like dining in the castle, mind you, but a really nice, lighter meal choice. We liked it very, very much.

--Wednesday. You'll be a zombie on Thursday and Friday at work, but hey, you're young. You can handle it!!

--Trip report. You'd better! It sounds like an absolutely wonderful trip. Hope my comments were helpful. Let us know if anything last-minute comes up!

PSM
05-01-2008, 07:16 AM
Hey! I'm coming from Hartford too, May 1-May 7. I take it you live in CT also, huh? Are you staying over night at the airport or a hotel near the airport the night before? I'm thinking about it. Have fun on your trip, and good luck getting into the places he wants to eat!!!:cool:

Hey! Very cool! Well, you're on your trip now, but I'll respond anyways. I live about 40 minutes from Bradley, so I'm just leaving early enough in the morning to make it there with time to spare. I was able to talk a family member into giving me a ride REAL early in the morning so my girlfriend or I didn't have to pay for parking and leave the car there. Hope you're having fun!

PSM
05-01-2008, 07:23 AM
Hello, Joe! Great trip report--well, pre-trip report. Your trip is coming up really fast. I do have a few comments that might help you. I'll comment in the same order that you described your plans. I hope that you're cool with another two cents......

--10 days is my ABSOLUTELY favorite amount of time to go. You should be able to keep a good pace with that.

--Magical Express is terrific. It's a great service.

--Pop Century. I love it. It's pretty big and can be busy at times. There's the closest section to the main building that's terrific for access to food, busses, etc, but it's potentially loud. The outer buildings are a 5-10 minute walk further out, but can be REALLY quiet. Especially if you're on the lake side.

I'm jumping ahead a bit here in your notes and tell you that the food court in the morning for breakfast is NUTS. Absolutely a mad house. It's great in the afternoon and evening, though. You might want to get some grab-n-go items the night before and then eat in your room. I did ok getting mug refills in the morning, but getting through the line was atrocious (this was in the off-season!). Food was sometimes cold by the time I paid. Hopefully, this was an isolated incident!!! Just wanted to mention it to you.

For the price, though, Pop Century is awesome. You won't be disappointed.


--Itinerary--I'm a planner like you. Just "pretend" that you're winging it so Mara doesn't notice. HA! She'll be appreciative when you utilize fastpasses well and have reservations for dinner....

--Coral Reef. Yeah, take what you can get. Lunch is fine. Just eat a lighter dinner. SInce you are on the dining plan, it will be balanced (heavy/lighter meals). When you get on-site, call the dining line from your room. I have had TERRIFIC luck in getting last minute, week-of ressies once I got there. I wasn't expecting to be able to, since we had a last-minute trip like yours last March. I was able to get LTT and Cape May easily. Good luck!

--Check-in/Monday. Even if you can't get in your room, they'll store your bags. 1:00 is a potentially safe time. We arrive on-site around the same time and we've been able to get into our room.

--Tuesday. You might want to plan on the break in the afternoon. Get to the park early. I know it might not happen on every day (it is vacation, after all), but it will be easier to tour. It's also quite hot by May and you may need a break. We ALWAYS utlitize the afternoon break, even if for only 2 hours or so. Keeps the momentum!

--Liberty Tree Tavern. EXCELLENT choice. You'll love it!

--Wednesday. Le Chefs. I tried it for the first time last October. It was fabulous. Our best meal of the trip. Very romantic for you two!! If you eat VERY slowly, you might time it right to see Illuminations. The trees somewhat obscure the view, depending on where you are in the restaurant. I think our ressies were for 7:30 and they let us stay and watch Illuminations.

--Thursday. Good to have an "off day." There's the lazy river if she's not game for the big stuff, and hey, what's wrong with laying in the sun with a book? Great idea to take the day in a non-park commando way. Sleep in a little; get there at 10, leave at 2 or 3. GREAT day!

Haven't eaten at Cap'n Jack's. Raglan Road is my personal fav and you can hop over there for some great live music on most nights. Might be a good choice since you said you were a musician!

--Friday. I liked the Lights! show. I had ignored it for the last trip or two and then put it on the schedule this last time. LOVED it.

--Now I know people are going to poo-poo Sci Fi, but we liked it! Good place for a burger and if it is super hot, it will be a perfect respite in the cool darkness! 50's prime time is fun too. Since they're both TS, don't worry about finishing both meals. It would be WAY too much food. We had 2 days where we ended up with 2 TS in the same day (intentionally--it was the way the day was scheduled). We just ate about 1/2 of whatever they brought us. Of course, a burger at Sci-Fi isn't exactly a 12 course meal! Both excellent dining choices. Really fun!!

--Saturday. Yes, it can be VERY hot at AK, especially as the day wears on. I think all of that foliage holds in every ounce of moisture. It's wicked hot and humid. (My DH is from Boston--he says "wicked" a lot!) If you don't have lunch plans, consider Flame Tree BBQ. EXCELLENT. A must-do for us on every trip now. There's a great Tea stand too, over by Yak & Yeti and EE. Terrific teas there if you're into tea.

--Evening. Haven't eaten at Teppanyaki.

--Sunday. No comment about BB. Haven't been, but everyone raves! Crystal Palace is a good buffet choice. It is a memory from childhood for me too!

--Monday @ Epcot. We spend more time here than any other park. Seriously. Keep your Coral Reef Ressies for lunch. It will difficult to score a dinner ADR, I'd think. You might traumatize her if she's afraid of fish, though! It's quite confining if one is scared of water or fish. Warn her--They do give a card to "find the fish" as they swim by. Perhaps that little game will make it easier for her. Haven't eaten at Marrakesh before...

--Tuesday @ MK. We did the same thing. Had a "flex day" that we figured would be at MK. It was. Evening was at Epcot, though, b/c we loved it so much. Hopping is your friend! You could always take the monorail and hop to the resorts to check them out. THat's a fun and relaxing afternoon away from the parks.

--Plaza Restaurant. If you don't get into the castle for some reason, this is a great alternative. Nothing like dining in the castle, mind you, but a really nice, lighter meal choice. We liked it very, very much.

--Wednesday. You'll be a zombie on Thursday and Friday at work, but hey, you're young. You can handle it!!

--Trip report. You'd better! It sounds like an absolutely wonderful trip. Hope my comments were helpful. Let us know if anything last-minute comes up!

Thanks so much for all the good advice! I'll definitely heed it! And man, 3 1/2 days to go.....I can't wait! Mara just finished up her work for the semester yesterday, so she is now very pumped to go as well! I'll definitely post a trip report and we tend to take a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of pictures on our vacations, so there will be plenty of that!

TinaMouse
05-02-2008, 06:26 AM
Have a terrific trip! I'm looking forward to hearing about your fantastic adventure. Pack.....pack....pack!

Terri
05-02-2008, 12:47 PM
I can't WAIT to hear about your trip - how it went, the weather, the food! EVERYTHING!

I know you are going to have a wonderful time!!!!:p

tink1972
05-02-2008, 03:00 PM
Hey
We're flyin out of Bradley Inter. 6:55 Am arrive Orlando 9:35Am We leave on the 16 non stop Southwest 6 days 5 nites WL( leave at 7:55pm get back to Ct 10:45 Pm) Can't wait. have been driving family nuts with my planning. but it all works out.
Great pre trip report can't wait to hear how things worked out for you. Dinning plan is Great. So is Magicial Express.

CupoTea
05-04-2008, 04:37 PM
Have a great trip. Can't wait to read your trip report! :)

412 days until my next trip! :(