MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
Billy Atkins - WDW (21-26 May, 1995) - Dixie Landings
- Time of Year: Spring
- Travel Method: Personal Car
- Resort: Dixie Landings
- Accommodations: Standard Room
- Ages Represented in Group: Adult
- WDW Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
- Comments: Billy and his wife drove from Texas to WDW. They stayed at Dixie Landings and covered a lot of territory. Nicely detailed report. Billy's comparison of the "mid-priced" resorts is especially interesting.
Dates: 5/21/95 - 5/26/95
Intro and General Information
We (my wife Helen and I) drove from Plano, Texas to Disney World. The trip was 1200 miles, but we were so excited it didn't seem that long. We spent the night at my parent's house in Biloxi, Mississippi (about midway between Plano and Orlando). We took an ice chest to keep drinks in the room (like Sprite, Gatorade and Orange Juice). We planned to checkin then go to Goodings Supermarket at Crossroads, but as we approached from the west (on 190 ?), we passed a new Goodings so we stopped there to stock up on snacks and drinks.
We stayed at Dixie Landings. We stayed at Carribean Beach for our Honeymoon 3.5 years ago, but wanted to try something different this time. DxL offers refrigerator rentals for $5 per day, but our ice chest worked just fine. They have ice machines at each of the buildings. The rooms are nice, same size as CB, and you get a ceiling fan, two sinks outside the bathroom, and a room safe, but no courtesy refrigerator. The room safe allowed us to avoid the long line at the hotel deposit boxes. I think the scenery at DxL is far better than CB. If we go back, we'll stay at DxL. (unless we win the lottery, in which case we'll stay at the Wilderness Lodge). The mansion homes overlooking the river are wonderful, as well as the boardwalk/cotton mill overlooking old man island. The rooms were about $120/night with AAA or MKC discount.
We visited Port Orleans, the other hotel in this price range. I don't know about amenities there, but the decor is a bit more gaudy than DxL or CB because it is a Mardi Gras theme. I think kids might like it better. The buildings there are three stories vs 2 stories at CB and DxL. Port Orleans is about half the size of DxL (1000 rooms vs 2000 rooms), so the food court and restaurant are a bit smaller, but the food is about the same (price and quality). The pool at PO is cool because of the Dragon Slide. Both PO and DxL are on Sassagoula River, so you have the option to take boat rides between these hotels and/or Pleasure Island. Do this if you have the chance, it is very nice, but slower than the buses.
You can take almost any bus from PO to DxL, but a bus from DxL will stop somewhere (MK, Epcot, MGM, PI) before returning to PO. The boats are the best bet for a direct ride from DxL to PO. CB buses only shuttle between the CB and its destinations, you just have more stops at CB. DxL/PO buses go to PO then DxL (4 stops) then to its destinations. In the mornings, if it fills up, it will skip the other stops and proceed to its destination. This happened every morning we were there. Luckily, we were closest to the Main Depot at DxL, so we got on, it filled, and we skipped the other stops. Try to stay close to the main bus depot if you can.
The restaurants at DxL and PO are always busy at dinner (we never ate at the CB except at the food court). If you don't want to make reservations, you can order dinner to go, but BEWARE: they will tack on a 15% gratuity for to go orders. No such charge at the food courts and the food there is pretty good. At DxL I had BarBQ Ribs and vegatables that were really good. Avoid the pizza, however. It smells better than it tastes. You can also get salads and lunch meat and bread there. The hotel stores sell juices and stuff also.
Arrived at Dixie Landings about 6:30pm and checked in. After check-in we stood in line at guest services to purchase our tickets. We bought a 4 day park hopper pass, a Pleasure Island pass, and a Water Hopper pass, all with the Magic Kingdom Club Discount Card.
We went to our room (#1614) in Alligator Bayou. It was in the group of buildings closest to the checkin/restaurant/main bus depot. Then we ate dinner at the food court. Several nice selections, but the smell of the pizza overwhelmed us. I had the mexican pizza and my wife had plain cheese. It smelled much better than it tasted. After dinner, we took a nice stroll around the hotel, then a dip in the pool to relax. We went to bed early (10pm) to get an early start tomorrow.
Magic Kingdom opened at 9am, we arrived at 8am for the early opening. The bus was full after its stop at the main depot, so it skipped the other DL bus stops. Upon arriving at the MK, we went straight to King Stefans to make lunch reservations (I waited too late to get advance reservations) at 1:00pm.
We rode Snow White. Peter Pan, and Small World with almost no line at each (Peter Pan was about 10 minutes). Since it was now approaching 9:00am, we walked over to the rope in Fantasyland to wait for the rest of the park to open. They let us in about 5 minutes before 9. We went straight to Thunder Mountain (my wife's favorite ride) and rode it twice. The second time we waited about 10 minutes. When we finished, they had already posted a 25 minute wait time for both Thunder and Splash MT. We decided not to ride Splash too early, in case we got wet.
Next we saw Pirates and Haunted Mansion (each with less than 15 minutes waits). It was Helen's first time to see HM and she really enjoyed it. She said, "I thought it would be scarier so I never wanted to before". Then we rode the skyway to Tomorrowland. I got some great pictures from the skyway. In Tomorrowland I rode Space Mt, while Helen waited for me. Then we went to Carousel of Progress (liked the new 'final' scene) and the TTA (formerly WEDWAY people mover). Finally it was lunch time so we headed to the castle.
At King Stefan's the food was good, but expensive. I had a seafood salad sandwich (fish, crab, & lobster) and Helen had grilled chicken. Both came with vegatables. Cost was $31 but I got a 10% discount with the MKC card. We had our picture taken with the Mickey butter before I solemnly decapitated him. The best service of any park restaurant we visited. Second best food (see MGM).
After lunch we went to see the Transportarium in Tland. This was a great show! Robin Williams is the voice of a robot who invented a time machine. He sends another robot with 9 video cameras back in time to film Jules Verne and H G Wells (a circle vision movie). Williams was hilarious. If we had the time, I would have seen it again. The Alien Encounter was not yet opened.
We went back to main street to catch the Mickey Mania Parade at 3pm and be close to the RR station. The parade came down main street in the opposite direction of most parades I remember (it came from the castle towards the main entrance). Then we jumped on the RR to ride to Fantasyland. I rode Splash Mt while Helen went shopping (Helen doesn't do "drops"). I had to wait about 45 minutes, but it was a fun ride. I sat on the third row and only got some spray, not soaking wet. Then we walked back to Main Street to do a little shopping. Our plan was to do most of our shopping on Thursday at the Villege Marketplace.
We left the MK and took a boat launch to the Polynesian for the 6:45 luau.
Seating does not begin until 6:30 and your table is assigned when you make your reservation, so there is no need to arrive early. The show was good, but the food just average (I liked the shrimp). Dinner is all you can eat and drink. We tried the Mai Tai and non-alcoholic Pina Colada, then drank water. After the show we watched the water parade from the beach. Then the fun began.
Since it was late (9:30), all the parks were closed. We should have taken the monorail to MK then caught our bus back to DxL, but MK closed at 8 so the buses weren't running. We walked to the TTC, just outside the Polynesian and waited for a bus to Pleasure Island/Villege Marketplace. That bus drove right past DxL but they won't make unscheduled stops. Then we had to wait for the bus to DxL. We did not get back to our room until after 10:30pm. My advice is to drive your car to the Polynesian for the luau (assign a designated driver of course). This way you will not spend an hour trying to get back.
Epcot Future World opened at 9am. We arrived at 8:30 for early opening. We had breakfast snacks in the room each morning so we could skip the crowds for breakfast. We rode Spaceship Earth since my wife had never seen it. The line was about 12 minutes. Then we went to see Honey I Shrunk the Audience. It was GREAT!. The 3D effects were very good. The scene with the mice was incredible. This is the show to see. We only waited about 10 minutes to get into the pre-show theatre. I was only disappointed with the pre-show. I think the old "Makin' Memories" was better. Next we went on the Journey into Imagination.
We headed over to the Land next (about 10am) and went on the boat ride (I can never remember the name of this). We grabbed a quick sandwich while we were there and then went to the Living Seas. We continued on to Wonders of Life where we saw Cranium Command (my wife's favorite show, but HIStA came close) and the Making of Me, which was not as graphic as we were led to believe. In fact there is only "scene" of a baby just after birth with the cord still attached. The rest is more of a light-hearted description of the facts of life. Martin Short was very funny.
At about 1pm we headed to Mexico. (World Showcase was advertised as opening at 11am). We rode the boat ride and then went to Norway for our 2:00 lunch reservations. They have an all you can eat buffet for about $11 minus the MKC discount. We were not impressed with the food or the service. The only thing I really liked was the smoked mackeral and new potatoes. My wife ate a bunch of smoked salmon and bread. When I ran out of tea, I had to search for my waiter to get a refill. My advice is to try someplace else.
After lunch, we went on the Norway ride but skipped the movie at the end.
Just as we entered the building it started to rain. We exited through the stores next to the ride and bought 2 Mickey Mouse umbrellas. They were $9 each, but they had the button you press to open. Black with a single MM on it. I was going to get just one, but when I told my wife I would use it when we returned home we got into an argument because she wanted it. Finally she turned to the CM who was helping us and said "I'll just buy my own." That was best in the long run because we didn't have to huddle under one umbrella. Most of the street performers that we wanted to see were not working because of the rain.
We stopped in at Germany to buy some chocolates. Then we went to see the American Adventure. If you get there early, they have some singers in colonial costumes performing folk songs. Very nice. We then did some shopping at UK. By this time (almost 7pm) we were exhausted so we called Boatwright's, the restaurant at DxL, and made reservations for 9pm. We headed back to our room to shower and then ate dinner, but we were too tired to eat very much. We were in bed by 10pm.
MGM opened at 9am. We were standing in line when it opened at 8am. I ran to the Tower of Terror while Helen checked out some shops & etc. The ride had some very nice special effects. Like the hotel floor turning into a view of space and stars (you have to see it). Then the windows open as your car rises. You can see the whole park for a second then you drop about 1 foot (this is when they take your picture) and then you hit the big drop. It was very intense but shorter than the cliffhanger at 6flags. You can stand in line for ToT and take an express elevator to bypass the drop, but this also bypasses the ride through the hotel. If you get to the point where you sit down, it's too late to chicken out.
After ToT, we headed back across the park to Star Tours, arriving at 8:30. We only had to wait about 5 minutes. Then we went straight back to the Muppet Vision 4D movie. No wait there to get inside for the preshow. After the show, we made reservations at Mama Melrose's Italian restaurant for 12:15. Next we hit the line for the Great Movie Ride by 9:30 and we had a 15 minute wait there.
Next we went on the Animation Studios Tour. This is a peak inside a real live animation studio. Try to see it when there are people working (normal business hours). I really enjoyed this part. They said the Hunchback of Notre Dame would be the next animated classic and they were finishing work on it. The Legend of Fu Mulan would be next and the first animated classic done entirely from the Disney MGM Studios in Florida. We also spent quite a bit of time in the animation shop. They sell cels and Walt Disney Classic Collection pieces. You can use the MKC discount on the cels but not the WDCC figures.
At 11:30 we went to the Making of the Lion King Movie. The entrance to this is hidden next to the bathrooms and between the Little Mermaid Show and the Animation Studios. This tied in nicely with the Animation tour. The show lasts about 20 minutes and normally everyone in line gets in. Then we headed to Mama Melrose's. My wife had a vegatarian pizza and I had the all you can eat past special, linguine with your choice of 4 sauces. Best food we had at WDW, second best service (see MK - King Stefan's). This lunch was only about $22 with MKC discount.
We finished lunch barely in time to catch the Aladdin parade (1:00pm).
As soon as we saw Alladin, we turned to run/walk to the Beauty and the Beast stage show (I know, by now you're thinking how many times did these guys criss cross the park?). The show started at 1:45, but they open 25 minutes before this. 95% of the theater is covered, but it is open on the sides (no air conditioning). It was hot, so everyone left a little room between themselves and the people next to them. This is a BIG theater. The show was a mix between actors dressed as characters (Belle and Gaston) with live singing and actors dressed in costumes (Cogsworth and Mrs Potts) with recorded music, like the BatB ice show. For the final number when Beast turns into the Prince, they release about 20 live white doves that fly through the theater. Getting out was worse than getting in. Unless you can be one of the first 25 people out via the side exits near the stage, wait in line to go out up the steps. That exit is faster because it is more direct.
We went back to catch the Little Mermaid show. The show is about 22 minutes with no preshow. Shows start every 25 minutes. We got in line at the edge of the covered part just as they closed the door. We figured we would not make the next show but definitely the next one (50 minutes) Luckily we were wrong. We did make the next show (25 minute wait) but just barely. This was a combination puppet show, clips from the movie, and lasers and special FX. I was only disappointed they didn't perform "Kiss the Girl" but "Under the Sea" was very good.
About 4:00 we decided to skip the rest of MGM (we've seen it all before anyway) and head over to Epcot to catch Illuminations. We stopped at DxL first to drop off some souvenirs, have a Sprite, etc... We also packed a towel (this will be important later).
We arrived at Epcot about 5:00 and headed to the World of Motion. Then we went to see Honey IStA movie again. We waited about 10 minutes to get into the preshow. Afterwards we went over to the Mexico pavilion and ate dinner at the fast food joint with the patio. Tacos and burritos with chips and drinks cost about $17, no discount for MKC. After dinner we went to the backstage imagineer tour with the virtual reality ride exhibit. They had four people from the audience get to try out the ride through Agrabah. I asked how I could get picked to demo it, but he said they randomly pick people out of the line to get in. Oh well.
Next we toured Innoventions. Big disappointment. One side was like a big home show with neat gadgets for the home, but it played like a big commercial. The other side was mostly Sega video games to play. The virtual reality car racing game I wanted to try was $4. They had some of the latest video arcade games setup but these too were "extra", some as much as $1. We decided to head on over and get a good spot for Illuminations.
By 8:00pm all the good spots, and even some not so good, were taken. We laid the towel down on our spot so we could sit and look at the book we just bought (last year's WDW overview book, on sale for $9.95). Then we took turns going to the bathroom and just watching people. At 5 minutes until 9, the crowd started closing in on us. No one stepped on our towel though. We were sitting with our backs to the rails. We stood up, rolled up the towel to pack it in our bag and turned around just as the show started. Then people really crowded forward.
After the show we ran (as fast as we could with the crowd) to the bus stop. We picked our spot between the entrance to World Showcase and Mexico so that we would be closer to the bus stops. We got on the bus that was there (had to stand) and one other couple got on when he closed the door. As we pulled away, there was already a big line forming for the next bus.
Typhoon Lagoon opened at 10am. We arrived about 9:30, hoping for an early entry but it wasn't happening. They did not open until 10 exactly. There were two lines to get in. the one on the right was the most crowded because that is the side the resort buses dropped off. The one on the left was about half as long. The very short line in the middle was to purchase tickets only.
When we entered we rented a large locker, $7 but you get $2 back when you return the key ($5 for the smaller lockers). They had some conventional lockers (put quarters in each time you open them) but it was nice to be able to open it whenever we wanted to for no extra charge. I swam in the Shark Tank, then we hopped on some tubes in the creek that circles the park. Then we swam in the wave pool. By now the park was getting crowded so when we went to ride the rides, the lines were pretty long. While waiting for Humonga Cowabunga I got completely dry! Should have done those things first then the wave pool, etc... We only stayed at TL for about 3.5 hours. We didn't want to get too sunburned.
When we left, the line to return the locker key to get $2 back was about 10 people deep (mostly wanting to rent lockers). I sold my key to the family ahead of me for $5. They in turn got to return it at the end of the day and get the $2. A splendid deal. Those of you who believe this was unethical (like my wife) just wait until I describe dinner. Some words of advice for TL:
Use lots of Sunscreen especially if you swim in the Shark Reef. The vest you wear will rub it all off your shoulders (the voice of experience). Wear some kind of beach shoes. The concrete will rub your skin off. I wore some Nike aquasocks and my wife wore flip flops. You don't really need a towel inside the park, the heat will dry you off. Have one for the ride though because the bus is cold (if you're in your car, you don't want to get the seats wet).
We went back to DxL to shower and change. Ate lunch at the food court.
BBQ ribs were good. Went down to the Disney Village Marketplace. This is where we messed up. We saved most of our souvenir shopping for the DVM because they honor the MKC discount whereas some park shops don't. But they didn't have as much variety of WDW merchandise. They had a lot of character stuff but very little from WDW. We were disappointed. I bought a T shirt with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy bicycling (I wanted something with Mickey on roller skates but I couldn't find anything). Helen bought a Winnie the Pooh shirt. We should have spent a little bit of time shopping at the parks (Emporium for example). We did enjoy looking in the fancy schmancy art shop. They had some glass/graphite sculpture of Sorcerer's Apprentice priced at $11,000. I took a picture of it.
On the way back to DxL we stopped to look around Port Orleans. We ordered dinner to go from the restaurant while we walked around (for description see my article "...Intro"). Now get this: for to go orders they tack on a 15% gratuity! For what? I paid with cash and the hostess then has the nerve to ask if I want change. I was furious. If I had known this we would have eaten at the food court instead. This was the only BAD part of my vacation. Grrrrrr!
Thursday night we went to Pleasure Island. Not too terribly crowded even though it was cast members get in free night. They were a lot of CMs there, it just wasn't really packed in general (except the lines for the Comedy Club). We arrived at 8:00 and went stright to Mannequins. There was absolutley no one there. We left and went over to the Neon Armadillo. Some people were giving a demo (?) of some country dancing and we watched for a few minutes. Then we went to the Adventurer's Club.
The Adventurer's Club is a GREAT place to hang out. The setting is 1920 and the actors & actresses are all supposed to be these great world travelers and adventurers. They spend the whole night trying to upstage each other with tales of their adventures. About every 45 minutes, everyone goes into the library for a "show" that has a different theme each time. Then the actors interact with the audience to make each show "personal". These are funny shows, and they allow kids (with a parent escort). Some of the humor is a bit risque, but nothing dirty. This turned out to be my wife's overall, number one, favorite thing to do.
We usually don't get any drinks when we go out, but we ordered a virgin frozen strawberry daiquiri here. It was a strawberry daiquiri with whipped cream on top. I mixed the cream into the drink and it was wonderful. I definitely recommend this if you don't drink alcohol ($3.75). When you arrive at the club, look around a bit, but go downstairs if you want to get into the show. When you step off the stairs ease to the right of the big statue. This puts you into a very strategic location for entering the library where they perform the shows.
First you'll learn the Adventurer's Greeting (wave wave, drink, salute, KUNGALOOSH!). Then you take the Adventurer's Pledge. I didn't get all of it, but maybe someone can fill in for me:
We climb the highest mountains just to get a better view, We plumb the deepest oceans............................., We cross the scorching desert, martinis in our hand, We ski the steepest slopes in tuxedoes lokking grand, etc...
Then you sing the Adventurer's song: "Marching along we're adventurers. Singing our song we're adventurers. Up or down, NorthSouthEastorWest, An adventurer's life is best!"
We took a break from the AC and headed back to Mannequins. It was pretty crowded now (10pm) so we danced for a while. Thursday night is sort of techno pop night (lots of Depeche Mode, Dead or Alive, Technotronic, etc..) which is my favorite music to dance to. They have the best laser light show here of anywhere in the world save maybe the Hippodrome in London (been there done that too). It's worth checking in to see what time it starts before doing anything else. Oh yeah, before you step on the dance floor watch out, the floor turns. We saw a lot of people trip just walking out there.
When we got tired, we went back to AC to catch one more show before the big midnight countdown on the West End Stage. This starts at 11:45pm so get there early if you want to get close to the stage. We planned on leaving right after this, so we dropped back and to the left (if you're looking at the stage). There is a little known stairway in that area, between the 70's disco club and the comedy club. After the show everyone heads to the exit. If you go down these stairs then turn LEFT you can bypass most of the people. This gets you to the bus stop sooner (like we did). When you're tired this can be the best part of your day (getting on the bus before it leaves).
On Friday we had to leave (boo hoo). Check out time is 11:00am, but we requested late check out when we checked in (1:00pm). Also we took advantage of express checkout. Sign your name when you check in and they leave a bill on your door overnight. If you agree with the charges on the bill, just leave. This will save you waiting in line to checkout. There was always a line at DxL for checkin/checkout, guest services, and faxes/deposit boxes.
We packed the car and drove to Wilderness Lodge. This is a really really nice place. But we couldn't afford it. They have a spring that comes up in the lobby. Then it runs outside and down over a waterfall that overlooks the pool and beach. If you go there (drive) you must take your Resort Transportation Pass to go through the gates without paying to park. These passes are still good even on your last day.
Then we drove over to the Contemporary Resort and went up to the Observation Deck to take some pictures of the MK. You can see MK, Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, and Discovery Island from here. It is really a nice view. Then we drove over to the All Star resorts, passing Blizzard Beach on the way. We would have stayed at the All Star if we could not afford DxL, but the setting was not as tranquil as DxL. Given the choice of All Star or off-property, I'd choose the All Star just because of the convenience of staying at WDW, but for a really relaxing atmosphere I highly recommend DxL or the WL or Polynesian or GF if you can afford the higer $$$.
Then we left WDW to drive home. At no time during our visit did we leave WDW property and that's just the way we like it. We didn't even watch the news while we were there. Just the Disney Channel and the Disney Resort Channel. We had a great time. Can't wait to go back.
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02-07-2006 10:39 AM