Ok, I know this is late but I have spent most of the day finishing my trip report from June. I guess the Disney anticipation did it. I sent it to Mouse Planet but I don't know if they will post it since it is so late. So anyway, here it is!
Anne Howard -- June 2005 -- Walt Disney World (Polynesian Resort)
June 20-24, 2005
Cast of Characters:
Anne Howard - age 36, Disney fanatic! Previous trips in 02, '99, '95, '91, '89, '88, '81, '79, '77, '76, '74
David Howard - age 37, indulges me in these trips.02, '99, '95, '91
Beth Howard - age 12, seemed a little too cool for Disney this year and talked about her friends for a good deal of the trip.02, '99, '95
Quinn Howard - age 9, definitely has the Disney Magic this year02, '99. She was still in the womb for the '95 trip.
Well, I cant believe that it has been three years since my last WDW vacation. I planned on coming back sooner but it just wasnt in the plans. We moved which ended up being a harrowing 9-month adventure (4 months of which we lived with my parents). We actually only moved 5 miles away but that is a whole other story. I always knew that if I didnt go before, I would go this summer. Three years is my limit for withdraw. Unfortunately, I had just landed a new job. I only work weekends now and I could not get off as I had just started the job. So, we were limited to going Monday thru Friday for this trip.
I was trying to recapture the magic of our last trip. We had such a great time. We really loved going in June last time. Since my children are school age, this really is a nice time of year to go. I really wanted to try the Polynesian this time. We were only staying four nights so I decided to splurge and got a lagoon view concierge room. I got an AP discount on the resort room. My husband loves the concierge feature and whatever keeps him coming back to Disney! I booked our flight on Southwest, a direct flight from BWI to Orlando. They cost me a little less that $1000 for the four of us. I shopped around and this was about the best deal out there.
I bought my AP on line. It arrived in the mail. The other tickets, I figured we would buy when we arrived. I made Priority Reservations for 6/20 Ohana; 6/21 Prime Time Caf; 6/22 Coral Reef; 6/23 CRT. I planned and replanned my trip, part of the fun.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Plan: flight, town car, Polynesian, Ohanas for dinner, Magic Kingdom EMH
I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:30pm. I hardly got any sleep at all and I had worked the night before so I was pretty tired but very excited. My father (a saint) drove us to the airport. At the airport, we got some pastries, yogurt and coffees for the kids and us. (Coffee was for us). We also realized that BWI has banned gum! (?) I dont know why but when we asked for gum, we were told not that they didnt have any, but that it was banned.
We took off at 6:35am. The flight was pretty uneventful. I sat next to Quinn who had a window seat. She had a great time but her ears hurt on the way down. We landed at 8:40am. We had a Tiffany Town car that was OK, but the car wasnt that clean and the driver rushed us.
By 9:30, we were at the Polynesian. I had been here once before for the show. It was beautiful. The main entrance is a huge long house with dark wood beams and lush tropical vegetation and palm trees everywhere. Flowered vines creeping all around you. A waterfall and stream goes under the entrance. In the lobby you hardly realize you have come indoors. There is a huge waterfall feature in the middle of the lobby that soars two floors up with just as much lush greenery inside. To the sides of the building is where the gift shops, restaurants and stores are.
We waited in line at the main desk and were directed to the Hawaii long house. All the long houses looked the same to us. There are signs but somehow we still managed to get lost. We finally made it to Hawaii. The concierge staff welcomed us right away. They gave all four of us leighs. We checked in, our room was not ready yet but they said it would probably be ready in an hour. We bought 2 park hoppers for the kids, a park hopper for David with the no expiration option since David and I were coming back in October. I had my annual pass. We were planning on going to Blizzard Beach on Friday but we had 1 day left on our old park hoppers to use that and I would buy a ticket the night before. The concierge staff was wonderful. They gave my daughters bucket and shovel sets with fun activities inside.
We went to the concierge lounge. This is on the second floor of Hawaii. It also has stairs that go to the 3rd floor with a lounge and some more tables up there. The lounge was very nice. In the very back is a large window that opens out into the kitchen. The concierge staff places all their items on the bar in between and you can request drinks here too. Off to the left is where the steps lead to the 3rd floor. Along the stairwell, they have coffee, tea, drinks, glasses, hot cocoa, etc. On the right, they set up tables with desserts or other offerings and they have tables for dirty dishes. In the center they have a buffet set up for more offerings and usually baskets full of candies or snacks for the kids. Also, in the center they had a kids area and some sofas and a TV. There were about 15-18 round tables for six set up. In the very front are floor to ceiling windows that overlook the Polynesian beach, lagoon and across the lagoon, the castle. You could also see other parts of the MK.
That morning, the concierge offered bagels, cinnamon rolls, pineapple bread, croissants, cereal, juice, and fruit. The pineapple bread was wonderful and offered with almost every meal. Our room was on the second floor, only 2 doors down from the lounge. IMO, this is the perfect spot to be in. I had requested a second floor room. Our room was ready. We had a lagoon view room that had just about the same view as the CL. The whole view wall was made up of two glass doors that slid open to your view. It did not have a balcony, just a grill to prevent anyone from falling. The rooms are fairly spacious with 2 queen size beds and a day bed, two chairs and a table. Ample drawers, ample bathroom. It was clean and robes were hanging in the closet. We unpacked and then went out to explore.
We walked around the resort just soaking it in. The Poly is beautiful. It has the feel of a posh South Seas resort (not that Ive ever been to the South Seas, but what I would imagine.) I really loved it. Quinn and Beth could barely contain themselves when they saw the pool. The pool is quite incredible. It is centered around a volcano. There is a waterslide that goes through the volcano. There is a waterfall, a zero depth entry and a little area off to the side that has squirts and burblers that would be perfect for toddlers. All around are tables with umbrellas and loungers. At the end of the pool, the beach area begins. The beach has hammocks, loungers, swings and benches all around. The sand is white powdery sand. We went to the marina which has boats you can rent and we bought some duck food and fed the ducks and fish. The ducks will practically come right up to you.
We went back to the room and changed into our bathing suits. We went swimming and all four of us tried out the waterslide. We went back to the room and took naps except Beth, who talked to her friends on the cell phone. We took showers, dressed for Ohanas and packed for the MK. We had 5pm PS for Ohanas. They were quite busy and we waited for a while.
Ohanas has a huge open wood-burning grill in the front of the restaurant. The delicious aroma coming from there gets your mouth watering. We were seated and they brought out the appetizer tray right away. They are served family style and most were delicious. Then they have servers who walk around with skewers of cooked shrimp, turkey, beef and pork. I tasted all four and they were excellent. The shrimp and the beef were the best. All of us loved this. Especially Quinn who loves steak. For desert, there was pineapple and caramel, crme Brule and chocolate mousse. The girls got the chocolate mousse, which was too rich for them. I tried it and thought it was wonderful but they ended up eating the pineapple, which they both loved. David and I had the crme Brule that was scrumptious. During dinner they have an entertainer, a Polynesian woman who sings and gets everyone involved. They get the kids to play hula-hoops and have coconut races where the kids push the coconuts around the room with sticks. Everybody wins! Quinn liked this and joined in but Beth was too cool to do this.
Somehow, we staggered out of Ohanas. It was one of the best meals I have had at WDW. We hopped on the monorail to the MK. It was pretty crowded and there were still a good number of people going in. The Extra Magic hours were tonight so I was expecting this. I just love the feeling of that first walk down Main Street. Magical! That being said, I hate the picture of the castle on the castle. I just thought it took away from the castle. The other embellishments were OK. We got wrist bracelets for the EMH. We rode Buzz, TTA, and Carousel of Progress, Stitch. We had to use fast passes because of the crowds and pair them with some other uncrowded rides. For example, Stitch was packed but there was no one on the COP. My kids loved Stitch. They thought this was great. Of course, I liked Alien better but it is definitely popular with the kids now. And I do love Stitch, the character. He is Quinns favorite. We rode the speedway, Space Mountain, Teacups. At this point it was 11:45pm. Beth was wiped out and wanted to leave. Quinn was ready to stay. So David volunteered to take Beth home. Quinn and I stayed till closing 2am. We rode all the rides in Fantasy Land and the Haunted Mansion. It was a little bizarre to be in the line for Dumbo at 1:30am and look around and see all these people with toddlers. But nonetheless, we had a great time. We rode the Monorail home and walked to Hawaii and our room. I was bushed. I had been up for practically 24 hours.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Plan: MGM, Animal Kingdom EMH
We had pretty much decided yesterday to shelve our plans for MGM today. I try to be flexible on these vacations. We slept in till 9am. We went to the CL for breakfast. I cancelled our PS for lunch at the Prime Time Caf at MGM. We went swimming, relaxed at the beach, and we rented speedboats at the Marina. This was a lot of fun. We rented them for the hour slot but we were out for about 50 minutes and they didnt charge us extra. This was great because you could go all around the lagoons and see the other resorts and the Magic Kingdom. I could see the Grand Floridian, the wedding pavilion, the Wilderness Lodge, the campground, the Contemporary. I rode with Quinn and we had fun driving the boat over other boats wakes and turning. David said Beth was a little apprehensive (she was just old enough to drive) and halfway through they switched places and he drove. I did see one of the Disney Boats pull someone over who must have let a child drive. They were making them switch places. Overall, it was a great experience. We swam some more in the pool. David and I had Lava Flow drinks at the bar at the pool. These were great but surprisingly strong.
We had dinner at the CL. They served delicious beef on sticks, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, PBJ uncrustables (my kids love these), cookies, wine soda and water. David and I had a glass of wine. We took some uncrustables with us to the park. We headed out to the Animal Kingdom and arrived around 5:45pm. There were black clouds in the air and a storm looked imminent. It was sprinkling rain. We donned our parkas. We had bought 4 rain parkas from Wal-Mart years ago. They fold up into a little bag that you can carry and are real lightweight. There were people poring out of the park. Just as we got inside the main gates, it really started to rain. We ran to Its tough to be a bug. It really was not that crowded. This was the first time I had seen the show having to sit out with Quinn two other times before. I really enjoyed it and so did the girls. When we came out, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. This was so typical of Florida weather. We watched the Festival of the Lion King, Kilamanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur, and Triceratops Spin. There were hardly any lines at all. At some point, we got wristbands for the Extra Magic Hours tonight. Regular closing hours were till 7pm but EMH allowed us to stay till 10p. We rode Primeval Whirl. This is like the old time wild mouse only the cars spin. It was fun but once was enough for me. The girls rode this three more times in a row. They loved it. We went to the Boneyard, this has always been a favorite of all of ours. At this point it was probably 8:30pm and dark. The park is really neat in the dark, something I had not been able to experience before. We rode the Kali River Rapids, getting absolutely soaked from head to toe. Each time we approached the exit, the CMs asked if we wanted to ride again since there was no line. So we ended up riding 5 times in a row. (Yes, we were quite waterlogged.) The ride was really neat in the dark, all steamy and spooky with the jungle noises adding to the effect. Beth and Quinn got the biggest kick out of this. We stayed until they kicked us off the ride at closing time. We got carry out pizza at Captain Cooks snacks on the way back to our room.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Plan: Epcot, Coral Reef for late lunch, World Showcase, water pageant & wishes from the Polynesian beach
We had Breakfast at the CL and managed to get to Epcot by 9am opening. It was pretty crowded. We got on Body Wars and Cranium Command. We made the mistake of waiting to get a FP for Soaring. By the time we did, the return time was up to 3:00pm. We spent some time at Innovention. This feature seemed to be much more organized than I ever remember it. The girls enjoyed a lot of this. We rode Test Track and went to the Living Seas, Turtle Talk, Bruces Shark World, and then went to our 1:30pm PS for the Coral Reef Restaurant.
We asked for a seat up front at the aquarium. We waited about 10 minutes and were seated right up front. Beth and Quinn took the seats right against the aquarium. We were really impressed with the aquarium. It is huge and beautifully lighted. Fish, turtles, sharks, rays would swim right up to the glass. My daughters love aquariums so this was a real treat. David got the Divers catch, the priced fixed meal that was lobster soup (or salad), chicken salad sandwich (or catch of the day) and cheesecake tart for dessert (small but scrumptious). All for $19. I got the lobster soup; the grilled Mahi Mahi with garlic mashed potatoes and shared the cheesecake for desert. Everything was incredible. Do not miss the soup! The girls got cheese pizza with make your own sundaes. They also got illuma drinks. These are souvenir glasses with electronic ice cubes that light up red and blue. They were expensive but the girls used these all summer long so they got their use out of them. I had heard mixed reviews on this restaurant but I thought it was comparable to gourmet restaurants we had eaten in. All of our choices were excellent. The kids were very happy with their meals. The portions were not huge, but it was lunch and we certainly did not walk away hungry.
After lunch, we rode Soarin. All four of us were amazed at this ride. We loved it. We tried to get FP when we came out to ride again but they were all done for the rest of the day!! So, we got FP for Norway, we explored Norway, Mexico and China, then finally headed out of the park, onto the monorail and back to the Poly. We went to the CL for snacks and desserts. We went swimming at the pool.
We watched the water pageant from the Poly beach while the kids dug in the sand. This is something I have always wanted to see but never had. The water pageant is a series of floating barges that have light boards attached. The music starts playing, a montage of different Disney themes. The light boards show lighted images to go with the themes. Petes Dragon, the Whale, the turtle, the Octopus, three leaping dolphins, a Brontosaurus, the Crocodile, King Titan, and finally flags and stars with a patriotic melody. It is really adorable. They keep the music playing till 10pm when Wishes starts. This was really magical for us to watch this from where we were watching with the kids enjoying the music and the sights and frolicking on the beach. This was the highlight of my trip.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Plan: Magic Kingdom all day, CRT for late lunch, Spectromagic & Wishes
Since we had not gone to MGM on Tuesday, we decided to go today. We had breakfast at the CL, and arrived at MGM just prior to the rope drop. We headed right for TOT and got FP. Then we headed to Rock & Roller Coaster. This ride was too much for David and the girls so they headed to Muppet Vision 3D. I waited about 25 minutes to get on Rock and Roll. I had never been on this ride before. I have to say I loved it. Especially the beginning of the ride, where you go from 0 to high speeds. I really did not know what to expect from the ride and it was great. One of my favorites now.
David and I had agreed to meet at Honey I shrunk the kids playground. On the way there I bought Beth a Pirates of the Caribbean Johnny Depp shirt. She loves this movie and I knew she would love the shirt. I also bought Quinn Stitch ears which she had been admiring other peoples. The cashier and I started a conversation. (I was the only one in the store.) She said she was from Hong Kong and had worked at Tokyo Disney and this was only her second day working at WDW. I asked how she compared it and she said that WDW was just so big, it amazed her. She was really sweet. I wished her well and met David at the playground. This has always been my girls favorite attraction. Beth made the comment to me that it seemed smaller this year. David and I thought this was funny and suggested perhaps it was she who was bigger. (At 53, she is now officially taller than me!)
We got FP for Indiana Jones. We went on Star Tours. We stopped for Ice Cream bars while waiting of Indiana to start. We saw Indiana Jones. Beth especially liked this. We saw Beauty and the Beast. We hopped to the MK. We had 2:45pm PS for CRT. We were seated immediately. David surprised me with a gift of a book called Hidden Mickeys. Something he had heard me talk about before, it was very sweet. It was a great book and we were able to see some Hidden Mickeys for the rest of our trip.
We were seated in the middle of the room with an excellent view. The princesses that came around to the table were Aurora, Cinderella, Belle and Mary Poppins. Beth was not really into the princess thing anymore but dutifully let me take pictures of each. Our server, Sir Stephen was wonderful. He couldnt have been better. It started off with an appetizer tray for the adults and one for the kids. There was cheese, salad, strawberries, chicken, crab puffs, string cheese and grapes. David got the pork tenderloin, which he said was out of this world. I got the prime rib of beef over top mashed potatoes on flaky bread. Quinn ordered this too as she loves steak. Beth got her old stand by, chicken fingers. Now, when the prime rib came, it really was more of a pot roast or pulled beef. Dont get me wrong, it was delicious. But Quinn did not like it. We didnt even have to ask Sir Stephen, he immediately asked her if she wanted something else. He brought out a new plate of chicken fingers for her in about two minutes. For dessert, the adults were getting a blueberry muffin concoction and the kids were getting sundaes. I was a little hesitant about the blueberry because Im really not fond of blueberry. Our server talked me into it promising to bring me a sundae if I did not care for it. When he brought our deserts he brought me one of each! He was right; the blueberry concoction was absolutely incredible. The girls sundaes were cute with chocolate sauce, rainbow sprinkles and cute crowns made out of chocolate. David ate the extra Sundae. We gave Sir Stephen a big tip!
I wont go ride for ride but we rode almost all our favorites, especially Pirates of the Caribbean. It really was not that crowded. We staked out a spot near the castle to watch Spectromagic and Wishes. This has been our tradition to do this on the last night of our trip and it did not disappoint. We loved every minute of it. We took the boat back to the Polynesian since we had not done this yet. We were pretty tired at this point.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Plan: Blizzard Beach, town car, flight home
Last night, we had all agreed to nix our plans for Blizzard Beach. The girls really wanted to go speed boating again and get their hair put in wraps. David and I were all for a more relaxing day. We slept in and had breakfast at the CL. The girls had been feeding the ducks and birds bread every morning from the sliding doors off of our rooms. By Friday morning, the ducks were waking us up with loud quacks demanding their breakfast. While Im sure the people below us did not appreciate this, the girls thought this was a great thing.
Today was very relaxing. We swam, had drinks at the bar, played on the beach, and went speed boating again. The girls got their hair wrapped. We had snacks and drinks at the CL. We had a last meal at Kona Caf. I have heard great things about this place but for us it did not live up to its reputation. The service was poor and the food was OK. We rode on the monorail and did an entire loop just seeing the sights and came back to the Polynesian. We bought souvenirs at the shops for our parents; our dog sitter and I bought a great Polynesian mug. (Which I am using right now.) We went to the airport in the Town car and our flight left around 7pm. It was a very bumpy flight but the pilot was soooo funny! My parents picked us up in our van.
**This was our second time staying concierge service and it did not disappoint. My husband is not a Disney fanatic and he likes concierge so it is worth it to me to keep him happy. We usually take full advantage of the offerings there. This trip we ate breakfast there every morning. We used their mid day and evening servings several times. David and I had wine and Baileys from the CL at night. I have to say that even with the AP discount, the lagoon view room (the garden views were booked) was almost $500 a night. If this were any other place than Disney, this would be unthinkable for me.
**I loved the Polynesian. When I was a little girl, we came to WDW every year for a while, but we never stayed on site. (I know, the horrors of childhood! I will never forgive my parents!!) Whenever we would ride the monorail, I would always dream of staying at the Polynesian and now I finally have. (Are you crying yet??) The Beach Club is a close second and Stormalong Bay is incredible but I have officially dubbed the Polynesian my favorite! Being right off of the monorail was great too.
**My oldest daughter, Beth, just didnt enjoy the magic as much as previous trips. She is in that age, where her friends are her most important priority. This was disappointing to me but hopefully this is just a phase. After the trip was over, David and I were mocking her, My parents are so meannnn! They made me go to Disney World!
**I try to be pretty flexible with our trips. If the majority of the family wants to do something, we go with that. If we want to change something, we do. Generally, my family appreciates my pre planning and goes with what I have planned. I try to schedule breaks in the day. I know some would say we are wasting our time with swimming and renting boats but we are out to enjoy ourselves and we do. Walking the parks from dawn till dusk is OK for some, but my family would not enjoy that.
**David and I are going to WDW in October for a short stay to enjoy the F&W festival but David tells me that it will be at least 2-3 years before we have another family vacation at WDW. We have already booked next years vacation at the Outer Banks. I would really like to do a 3 or 4 night Disney cruise with additional days at WDW in summer 07. Well see.