Disney 2010 Trip Report
April 23 April 30, 2010
Dolphin Resort Parlor Suite
Katharine- Age 37, WDW & DLR traveler since 1978
Andrew- Age 39, WDW traveler since 1982
James- Age 17, WDW traveler since 2003
Lauren- Age 14, WDW traveler since 2003
Our last trip to WDW was this same week in 2009 when we stayed at the Boardwalk Villas. We began planning two trips last summer: a long weekend the first week of December, and this Spring Break vacation. My in-laws live in Florida and decided to come home for Christmas, so we cancelled our December trip. We ended up remodeling one of our bathrooms in February and were not convinced that we could afford to take this trip, but everything worked out!
We prefer to stay at one of the Boardwalk area resorts. We like the ability to walk to Epcot and the Studios, and our son loves going to ESPN. The Boardwalk was $525 a night for a one bedroom villa and came with a $700 credit that we could use towards dining. The Dolphin has a parlor suite which has 2 bathrooms, a king size bedroom, an additional room with a king size bed and pull out sofa. This suite is usually about $600 a night but due to Andrews SPG reward program we received a rate of $311 per day.
Andrew booked our roundtrip flights on Southwest from Manchester to Tampa, because we will be visiting my in-laws before heading home. We wanted to fly into Orlando on Saturday morning (which is our usual routine) but the one way tickets were approximately $200 more per ticket due to the NH school vacation. So we will be flying out on Friday evening, arriving in Tampa at 10:30. We will rent a car and make the 1 hour and 20 minute drive to Orlando. Andrew had Marriott points, so we will stay at the Residence Inn across from Downtown Disney for a free night. Our plan is to get up on Saturday morning, head to Publix to get some groceries and then check in at the Dolphin where we can return the rental until we need it again on Thursday.
On Valentines Day weekend Andrew and I finalized our agenda and used the online booking system to make a few dinner reservations. These include Teppan Edo, Tonys Town Square, Sci-Fi Dine In, and Rainforest Caf.
Friday, April 23
Plan: Leave work by 3:00, travel to Florida!
It was tough to go to work in the morning and I struggled to get everything done there, but left my office at 2:45, right on schedule! When I got home Andrew had already packed up his truck and I quickly changed and did a few last minute things. The kids arrived home from school shortly after I did and we were all out the door by 3:45. Manchester airport was quiet and we had our bags checked and were through security by 4:15. We went to the Milltown Grill to have a few drinks and snacks before our flight. Nachos, chicken tenders, cokes, and Sam Adams Summer Ale. Let the vacation begin! Our flight left on time and we had a layover in Baltimore. There was a 20 minute delay and we finally arrived in Tampa at 11:10 PM. We were exhausted. Lauren and I went and got the luggage while Andrew and James picked up the rental car. The drive was fine and we were in Orlando at 12:50. We had trouble finding the Residence Inn and were all pretty miserable when we finally went to bed at 1:30 AM but we were in Orlando!!
Saturday, April 24
Plan: Arrive at Dolphin, lunch at ESPN, Epcot, dinner at Teppan Edo
I did not set the alarm but we were awake by 7:00. Andrew and I got ready and then headed to the breakfast buffet. We ate and brought some bagels and fruit upstairs for the kids. When they were ready we headed out to Publix a little after 9:00 to get our groceries for the week. We filled our cart with bottled water, Gatorades, beer, chips, pop tarts, granola bars, fruit, croissants, and laundry detergent.
We arrived at the Dolphin at 10:45. We turned in the rental car and were pleased to hear that our suite was ready. It was great! Both rooms had a pull out couch and had a lot of space. The two bathrooms and two mini refrigerators were a huge plus. We were so excited!
At 11:45 we walked over to ESPN to have a light lunch and James was thrilled to watch some of the Manchester United vs. Tottenham soccer game. We all shared Nachos, Dingers, Fries, soda for the kids, Yuengling lager for Andrew and a Sam Adams Summer Ale for me. The food was excellent and the service was fantastic. Our waiter, Aaron, was funny and attentive and he would see James several times during our trip. His tag said he was from Orlando but he confessed that he is really from Texas but changed his tag because everyone asked him Do you know my friend Joe? He lives in Texas It was funny.
It was 12:45 when we headed into Epcot via the International Gateway. We made our way to the Land to get a fast pass for Soarin. The park was crowded and our FP return time was not until after 7:00. Our first ride of the trip was Spaceship Earth, followed by a walk through Innoventions and we tried out the design your own rollercoaster, Sum of All Rides. It was very cool.
It was 2:15 and Test Track had a 20 minute wait for single riders so we got in that line. I dont really care for this attraction but the kids like it. When we exited, we decided to make our way into World Showcase to start touring the countries.
Our first stop was Norway and we went ahead and got fast passes for Maelstrom. We spent some time taking pictures and looking in the shops. It was hot so we got some cold drinks and sat at a table in Italy for a while and decided that we would go to American Adventure so that we could enjoy some air conditioning. The show started at 3:30 and we were there early to listen to Voices of Liberty. They were amazing!
When we returned to Maelstrom I apologized in advance to the other two couples in our boat. James and Andrew are known for getting loud as they try to get everyone pumped up for this thrill ride. It has become a Disney tradition.
James wanted to look in one of the Japanese shops before dinner and ended up buying a headband that he wore proudly as we entered Teppan Edo. All the servers commented on him being number one. He embraced the culture ordering a pot of tea while Andrew and I chose beer and Lauren her usual diet coke. Dinner was excellent! We had combos of steak, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, noodles and rice. It was a great experience.
We kept walking clockwise around the lake and stopped at the Rose & Crown Pub for a Bass Ale for Andrew and a Snake Bite (cider & Harp lager) for me. We took our time walking over to the Land and I sat on a bench finishing the beer while Andrew and the kids went back into Innoventions.
Soarin was next and it was awesome as always. It was about 8:00 at this point and Lauren was looking tired. She tends to get sick when we travel so I did not want her to push herself too much. I offered to take her back to the resort and the boys would stay in the park for Illuminations. We had a nice stroll on the Boardwalk and stopped at Seashore Sweets for an ice cream.
We watched a little tv and went to sleep by 10:00. It was a wonderful first day at Disney!
Sunday, April 25
Plan: Animal Kingdom, back to resort, dinner at Tonys Town Square, Magic Kingdom for EMH
We woke up about 7:00 and started getting ready for the day. It is great to have two bathrooms! Andrew and I headed out for a walk around the lake. We bought Disney refillable mugs at the Beach Club and would stop there for coffee each morning. It is a wonderful way to start the day! We went back to the Dolphin to meet the kids and got on an 8:15 bus headed to Animal Kingdom.
We were in the front for the rope drop and headed to the right for Asia. James got us fastpasses for Expedition Everest and then we walked right on. We all enjoy this ride and were not disappointed! There was still no line when we exited so we walked right on again.
It was off to Dinoland next, passing by the Nemo show on our way to Primeval Whirl. This is another family favorite. Next on our list was Dinosaur which was still a walk on. It was almost 9:45 so we had a quick restroom break and went back to Everest to use out fastpass and the kids got to sit in the back seats.
James decided to head out to ESPN to go and watch the Chelsea soccer game. Lauren really wanted to go onto Kali River Rapids so Andrew offered to take her. I went to get us Safari fast passes and walked through some of the trails and visited with a dad and two boys from Arkansas who told me all about porcupines. I went over to Pizzafari about 10:30 to wait for Andrew and Lauren, and I sat and updated my trip notes. We had a lunch of individual pizzas with Caesar Salad, an Italian sandwich for me, and diet coke.
We finished our early lunch at 11:00 and then went on Kilimanjaro Safari. There were lots of animals roaming about and the wildebeests and ostrich were walking in the middle of the road! We got to see a cute baby giraffe, and lots of rhino and hippos. This was a relaxing way to end a great morning. We stopped in a few shops and left the park about noon to head back to the Dolphin.
We spent a few hours relaxing by the pool and enjoyed cold drinks. James came back from ESPN and said he had a great time. Aaron recognized him right away, addressed him, by name, and seated him in one of the recliners to watch his game. Unbelievable! This kind of service is what makes Disney such an amazing place.
We all showered and headed to the bus stop about 4:00 to go to the Magic Kingdom. When we entered the park, we made our way over to Tomorrowland. There were no fast passes left for Space Mountain so we grabbed some for Buzz Lightyear and then walked over to Philharmagic. This is one of my favorite Disney attractions. I love watching all of the different movies that remind me of my kids when they were little. As usual we all thought it was fantastic!
Lauren and I walked over to the castle to take some pictures and the boys went to get us fastpasses for Splash Mountain. We all met up at Tonys Town Square for dinner. Andrew and I had come here last year and had a great experience, but we were disappointed this time. The food was ok, but the service was slow and the restaurant was very crowded and noisy.
It was not quite time to return to Buzz so we went over to Adventureland to go on Pirates. This is one of James favorite rides. It is nice to see that my teenagers still have an appreciation for the classic Disney attractions and not just the thrill rides.
We went over to Buzz Lightyear next. Lauren and I are not big fans of this but I am sure it is because our scores are usually not very good! Space Mountain was closed for refurbishment when we were here last year so everyone REALLY wanted to wait in standby to go on this. I hate waiting in lines, but I agreed. The sky was VERY dark so I figured it would keep us dry while the storm passed. It took us 45 minutes to get through the queue, but we all enjoyed the improvements.
Everything was wet when we came back outside. Although I had hoped we missed the storm you could still hear thunder. I thought we would take the train from Toon Town over to Splash but it was shut down due to the lightening. It was sprinkling and I started walking VERY fast, heading toward Haunted Mansion. James response was, I didnt know I signed up for the track team! We had no sooner gotten to HM and were under the canopy when the heavens opened up. It was comical. We hated to leave Haunted Mansion, but had to wade through some huge puddles in our ponchos.
Splash and Big Thunder Mountains were both shut down so we went back on Pirates again and then went and had a Dole Whip and sat at the covered tables for awhile. The storm was not letting up, so we decided to leave the park about 9:30. The evening ended earlier than we had planned but it was still a great day!
Monday, April 26
Plan: Hollywood Studios, lunch at Sci-Fi Dine In, back to resort, Epcot
We were up about 7:30 and I took my morning walk with Andrew. We discussed the agenda for the day and decided to change our plan for the evening, and head back into Magic Kingdom instead of Epcot. We met the kids at the Dolphin and walked onto the path to Hollywood Studios. It was a beautiful day in Orlando. We made our way through the gates before rope drop. Lights, camera, action and we were off to Toy Story Midway Mania. We got a fast pass for this with a return time of 10:45.
We headed over to Rock n Rollercoaster which we rode twice, followed by my favorite: Tower of Terror. One of the elevators had broken down so we ended up waiting in line for over a half an hour. It was still worth it to me!
We went into Starring Rolls and bought coffee, a bagel with cream cheese to share, and some juice for Lauren. We sat and enjoyed our coffee and took a restroom break. We used our Toy Story fastpasses next where James was thrilled that he got the high score of the day (of course it was only 11:00).
We headed over to The Great Movie Ride, another family favorite. We had the western theme this time, so that was a nice change since we had the gangster option the past few years. We decided to go on Star Tours for our last trip to Endor before this ride closes. We still had a little while before our Sci-Fi reservation so we went into Pizza Planet to play a few games.
At 12:15 we went into Sci-fi Dine in. The atmosphere is great and so was our server. We had four burgers, soda, and shakes. Everything was delicious. Andrew and Lauren decided to skip our usual resort time and go to Magic Kingdom. James and I took the boat to the Dolphin where he took a nap and I did some laundry and relaxed by the pool.
Around 4:30 James and I took a bus to go and meet them at the Magic Kingdom. When we arrived Andrew texted us that they were at Space Mountain. We ended up meeting them at the Toon Town train station and rode it all the way to Frontierland since they had fastpasses to use at Splash Mountain. James wanted to go and see the Hall of Presidents, something we had never done. We both really liked it.
We all met up at Columbia Harbour House for dinner. This has always been our favorite counter service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, but the chicken strips seemed different this time and the kids werent too impressed.
We walked over to Splash to get fastpasses and went on Big Thunder Mountain next followed by a visit to the Haunted Mansion. We had gotten fastpasses for Space Mountain earlier so we walked back over to Tomorrowland. We all believed the right side of Space Mountain was better.
We headed towards Main Street so that we could get some ice cream and then boarded the train where we enjoyed a ride over to Splash Mountain. After a soggy log ride we went over to Big Thunder Mountain. There was not a line so we ended up riding it three times!
We walked back over to Tomorrowland and went on Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain before heading out of the park. We went into a few of the shops on Main Street and arrived at the bus stop about 9:45. It had been a great day!
Tuesday, April 27
Plan: Kids sleep in, Studios, lunch at Beaches and Cream, monorail resorts, Magic Kingdom
It was a sleep in day for the kids, but Andrew and I were awake at 7:00 and went for a walk around Crescent Lake and bought a breakfast sandwich at the Beach Club. We knew the kids would sleep for a few more hours so we decide to go into Hollywood Studios for opening. We stopped to get two fast passes for Toy Story Midway Mania for the kids to use later, and then we went on Rock n Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. These are two of my favorite rides. Backlot Tours was next and we picked up two more fastpasses for Toy Story before leaving the park about 10:30.
We had texted the kids when we were on the boat back to the resort and they met us at the Dolphin boat launch. We gave them the fastpasses we had picked up for them and they went over to the Studios and Andrew and I went to the pool. We had a few pina coladas and beers and when we started to get hungry we walked over to the Beach Club for lunch. Instead of going into Beaches and Cream we ordered our food outside and ate on the beach.
We walked back to the Dolphin pool and the kids had returned from the Studios and joined us for a swim. We went up to our rooms around 4:30 and took our showers and got ready to go over to Epcot since we had gone to Magic Kingdom the night before.
Andrew and Lauren took our tickets and went to get us fastpasses for Soarin. They spent the next few hours in Futureworld going on Test Track, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, and Ellens Energy Adventure. They were not impressed with the attractions and wished they had stayed with James and me as we had been walking around the different countries. They met us in Mexico and then we all walked over to the UK to get some fish and chips and a few drinks before going to Soarin.
It was 9:00 when we exited the park and I took Lauren back to the room and the boys walked to ESPN watch the end of the Celtics game and some hockey. They came back to the resort about 11:00 and we all went to sleep shortly after.
Wednesday, April 28
Plan: Epcot, back to resort, Rainforest Caf dinner, Animal Kingdom for EMH
We were all up about 7:00. The plans for the morning had changed. This was our last full day in Disney and the kids wanted to go over to Magic Kingdom one more time. We went to the bus stop about 8:15 and the bus arrived right away. We had very good luck with our transportation this trip.
We watched the park opening and then headed toward Tomorrowland. We got fastpasses for Space Mountain and then all walked on together. This has definitely been the favorite attraction this trip. Lauren and I went on once more while Andrew and James went to Buzz Lightyear.
We decided to spend a little time in Fantasyland and we all went on the teacups and Peter Pans Flight. We were getting a little hungry so we decided to split up: Andrew and Lauren went to get us fastpasses for Splash Mountain and James and I walked to the bakery on Main Street to get some breakfast sandwiches and muffins.
We all met back at Space Mountain and I was a little irritated because Andrew and Lauren decided to go through the standby line without us and we couldnt go because we had the food. So we waited on them for a little while and then we all went on together using our fastpasses.
The crowd was minimal this morning and we were able to go on a lot of rides. We went to see Philharmagic one more time and then rode Splash Mountain before heading to the bus stop. I am not sure what time we left but it must have been about 12:30.
We all went down to the pool and I did some laundry. James and I both got a little too much sun. He burned his legs and although I had worn sunscreen every day and had a tan, I was starting to develop a rash. We called it quits about 3:00 and got cleaned up and headed to the Animal Kingdom.
James and Andrew went right into the park to go get us fastpasses for Expedition Everest. Lauren and I checked in at the Rainforest Caf and looked around the shop. We ended up ordering a variety of appetizers instead of meals and had some drinks. The food was fine and it was a nice alternative to the usual counter service that we typically get at this park.
I did not take notes but I am pretty sure that we went three times on Everest, once on Dinosaur and once on Primeval Whirl. Our last attraction was the Safari and it was the first time we had ever done it late in the day. We saw a lot of animals and really loved seeing the Rhino and her baby, Lola.
We had discussed going to Epcot for Illuminations, but we were all tired and James and I were both feeling pretty uncomfortable. We spent the rest of the evening packing up, watching tv, and reading and I believe we were all asleep pretty early.
Thursday, April 30
Plan: Studios, head to Tampa
It is always difficult to leave Disney and we had shortened the length of our stay this time and really wished we had one more day here. We finished packing up all of our things and Andrew went and got our rental car and we loaded up our suitcases after checking out of our rooms.
We walked over to the Studios one last time to do a few more rides and some shopping. Lauren wanted to get a poster for her bedroom; the kids got a few things for their friends, and some mugs and candy for our neighbors who had been taking care of our pets.
We took the boat back to the Dolphin around noon to retrieve our car. We said goodbye to our favorite place on earth and headed to Tampa to spend some time with my in-laws before our vacation officially ended. We look forward to returning in 2011!