MousePlanet Trip Report Editor
David Kapcin - WDW, USF, Wet-n-Wild (1-7 Oct, 1996) - Villas at Disney Institute
- Time of Year: Fall
- Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
- Resort: Villas at Disney Institute
- Accommodations: 1 Bedroom Vacation Home
- Ages Represented in Group: Adult
- WDW Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
- Comments: Dave, his fiance, sister, and friend all traveled to WDW. They stayed at the Villas at the Disney Institute, but didn't take any classes. This is a well-written report and well worth the time to read.
Got back last Monday night from six and one half wonderful days at WDW. It was my first trip since I was a teenager (except for a 1 day stop at Epcot and Universal back in 1993 during a conference trip) and we really enjoyed it.
Me, my fiancee, Darlene, my sister, LeeAnn and a good friend, Ray, left on October 1 on a 9:40am flight out of Pittsburgh. We arrived in Orlando at approximately 12:00pm and went straight to the National rental car counter. Our 1996 Grand Am was there waiting for us and we headed straight to the Disney Institute (no classes, just staying there). As we checked in at approximately 12:45pm the family checking in before us was lucky enough to be the 25th check-in on the 25th anniversary. They were given a cake and hats and a bunch of CMs blew noise makers and threw streamers, pretty neat stuff. As we checked in we found that our room was ready and we unpacked the car. I enjoyed the Villas at the Disney Institute. We had a living room with a table and two chairs, a daybed, television, a microwave and refrigerator. The bedroom had two queen beds and a television. The four of us definitely had enough room and we did not feel crowded.
We headed straight over to Epcot where we encountered no line onto Spaceship Earth. This is a really cool attraction and must say I enjoyed doing it a couple of times. Next it was over to HISTA. What a hoot this place is! We then went to visit Figment at the JIA (this is the song I could not get out of my head the whole trip NOT Its a Small World!). We then went over to the new Universe of Energy with Ellen and Bill Nye and I must say I was impressed with theming. We then went over to the Wonders of Life pavilion and did Body Wars, very hard on the old tummy. We checked out Cranium Command which was really cool, except I kept seeing Charles Grodin as the character he played in Midnight Run (a hilarious movie!). We then ventured into the World Showcase because I really wanted to catch the American Adventure as I enjoyed so much in 93. We saw the show and then headed back towards Mexico for a good Illuminations 25 viewing location. We stopped at the Cantina De San Angel for some tacos and enjoyed Illuminations. I can make no comparison between Illuminations and Illuminations 25 since I have no frame of reference (missed it in 93) but we all really enjoyed it very much. Headed back for a late night snack at the Goofy Grill and some much needed sleep.
We were up and at 'em at 6:00am to get ready for the early opening at the MGM Studios, which I will say right now was my favorite theme park. Mostly for one reason... The Tower of Terror. I have NEVER seen an attraction so well themed and the payoff was awesome. I think I rode it a total of seven times that week! From the moment you walk up to the Hollywood Hotel you feel the realism. Even the Bellhop CMs were outstanding, especially the guy who told us to "Please step into the liiiibrary". Having made the early opening, there was no line in the morning and even when we went back in the afternoon. We did come back later in the trip on a Saturday and encountered a small line (10-15 minutes wait). What else can I say, this is Disney at it's absolute best! It was on to the Great Movie Ride (I prefer the New York shootout over the Western) that we really enjoyed and then to Star Tours which made me a little nervous when I saw the same seating set-up as Body Wars but I must say that for whatever reason, it seemed more enjoyable than Body Wars. It was on to the Muppets from there and I will say that I enjoyed the two old guys in the balcony more than the show. We went and checked out Superstar Television which I thought was very well done. My sister and friend actually got picked to be on Cheers. I managed to videotape their portion off of the monitor and it really does look like they were on Cheers! We then headed over to the 50s Prime Time Cafe for a 12:30pm priority seating. We had a really great 'Mom' who made us sit on our hands because we wouldn't keep our elbows off the table. She also had to feed my sister her peas because she did not like them. Also the peanut butter and jelly milkshake was ... different. The place was neatly themed and I would definitely go back. We headed over to New York street after that and into the Backstage tour. Catastrophe Canyon was really cool, I did not realize how much water is used until I watched my videotape after we got home. The tour is nice but too brief. Anyway, it was time to get seating for the Toy Story parade. I must say that this was a big disappointment. Only three floats plus I never saw the movie so I guess I couldn't get into it. We wandered over to the animation area after the parade and got to draw our own Mickeys! We then headed back to the Tower of Terror for a couple more rides before we called it a day at MGM.
That evening we went to the Sleath Mystery Dinner Theater outside of Disney right next to Wet-n-Wild and I must say that it was a highlight of the trip. I would HIGHLY recommend this show to anyone going down to Orlando. For just $35 we got a good Prime Rib dinner and all you drink beer/wine and a fantastic show. Our whole table was really into it and the cast was wonderful. I must thank Rhona Grumet for leading me to this place when she posted about it back in August. After a semi-lucid drive back to the room we headed over to Goodings and picked up some breakfast and snack essentials and called it a night.
Again we arose at 6:00am for the early opening at the Magic Kingdom. I was really looking forward to this since I have not been there for so many years. As the monorail approached the station and I got my first good look at the Castle Cake, I must say that I liked it. We headed straight over to the new Tomorrowland and the Alien Encounter. I enjoyed it, the first time through. It got a little boring the second time though. Space Mountain was a hoot although I must agree, it would add alot to the experience if it were darker and the tracks could not be seen. The Timekeeper was OK and the TTA was... well... boring (I know I must not be a Disney purist!). It was off to Fantasyland and Its a Small World, Peter Pan and Mr. Toad's Ride. We went to the Haunted Mansion after that (yes the first singing head looks exactly like Leslie Nielsen!). Then over to BTMR which was cute and then to Splash Mountain where we actually encountered our first line of the day (about 15 minutes). After hearing so much discussion on the NG about Splash Mountain I would have to say that I was mildly impressed with the ride. The theming is outstanding but it seemed that some of the critters and the sets themselves need an update. The drop was really something though and I would agree that this is a Disney must see. We made our way over to Adventureland to the Pirates of the Caribbean which was really cool. We took a tour of the Swiss Fanily Robinson Treehouse and then headed over to the Hall of Presidents. I think Maya Angelou's narration really adds to this attraction, she has a wonderful voice. Being an early American history buff, I really enjoyed this attraction (though not as much as the American Adventure). We opted to skip the Jungle Cruise as the line was too long and we headed out for lunch back at Planet Hollywood. The restaurant is wonderfully themed and the food was very good. We soaked away the remainder of the afternoon in the Whirlpool Spa at the Institute and then headed over to the Yacht Club for a 6:00pm seating at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. On our way in we ran into none other than Mister Bob Hope who I must say is not looking too good as he had to helped to his car by his wife and another companion (I know the guy is pushing 90!). The food and the ambiance at the Yachtsman were good. I can see why there was a thread regarding the use of the pool here by other Disney guests as I thought Stormalong Bay was quite impressive. We walked around to the new Boardwalk from the Yachtsman and checked out the new ESPN Club. The Boardwalk does give the feel of being at the beach and again I thought it was well themed. We then piled back into the car and headed for Pleasure Island. After sampling a couple of the Clubs I have come to the conclusion that I am getting old. I used to live for places like this about 10 years ago but now I can do without it. I did enjoy the Comedy Warehouse and the way that they ad lib the entire show and still make it come out funny. The New Year's Eve celebration left alot to be desired but I guess the CMs get tired of doing it night after night too. We then headed back to the room for some sleep and the chance to sleep in until 8:30am!
Got up and ready for Blizzard Beach. The sun was actually shining on us when we departed at 9:30am. We got in and staked our claim to four beach chairs at the mouth of the wave pool. As soon as the ropes dropped we headed for the Slalom and the other regular waterslide right next to it. We did those a couple of times and then headed for the Summit Plummit. Wow, did that hurt. My behind was sore for three days after that thing. pretty neat rush though. After a trip around the lazy river and a ride on the family raft ride we decided to have lunch and the weather decided to change. It rained really hard and we decided to call it a day here and get back to the room and clean up for a trip back to Epcot. We got to Epcot at around 2:30pm and walked right onto Spaceship Earth. We then headed over to the Land and did the boat ride, kinda boring but interesting at the same time. The Living Seas was OK and then it was on to Canada for the Circlevision O' Canada attraction. We then hustled over to the Rose and Crown for the obligatory pint of Bass Ale. We made our way around the World Showcase and back to the American Adventure. No one seemed to enjoy it as much as me but I did manage to force my lovely bride to be on again. As we exited the show it was really raining and we had exactly 15 minutes to make our 6:00pm seating at the San Angel Inn. What a cool place! We got a table right on the railing next to the River of Time. The meal was fantastic ambiance was out of this world, I didn't want to leave! We then headed over to Norway and experienced the Maelstrom ride. Pretty neat. We then made our way back over to the Rose and Crown, staked out a table along the wall in the back of the pub and waited for Illuminations 25. This provides a much better view than over in Mexico, IMHO. After that we headed back to the room and called it a day.
We arose early for the early opening at the Magic Kingdom. What a difference a few days makes! The place was packed when we got there. We again headed over to Tomorrowland and then snuck through Fantasyland to Frontierland. We did a few of the things we didn't before and we had some do overs such as the HM and the Pirates (I wanted to get it on video). Around lunchtime we hopped over to MGM to experience the TOT again (and because the MK was getting really packed). The group split up at that time because my sister and friend did not want to go to the MK later for Spectromagic. So my fiancee and I proceeded to cruise the park some more and try to score a reservation at the Brown Derby. We were able to get a 5:10pm time and we settled in. I will say now that this was the BEST dinner we had all week. Our waiter, Ashar, was a complete delight! I ordered the Cream of Mushroom soup of the day and was very impressed. I then order a teriyaki Steak and Shrimp Special which was out of this world! Unfortunately the chicken pasta dish my fiancee ordered was not to her liking and she just picked at it. Ashar noticed this and asked if anything was wrong. She said no and he sent the plate back to the kitchen. The chef then sent him back out to apologize and offer her something else. She said no and he brought the check and insisted on taking off her dinner because she did not like it. I thought that showed class and I left him a generous tip based on what the total would have been with her meal on it. I can't say enough about this place and how much I enjoyed the food and the service. We then hopped back to the MK for Spectromagic and had to stake out our Main Street curb seats at 6:30pm for the 7:45 parade. I can tell you it was well worth it! we both agreed it was the best parade we had ever seen and the fireworks after it over the castle cake was perfect. BUT, then we had to fight the crowd back to the TTC and that was brutal. I think I heard more Spanish, Japanese and Chinese this week than in my entire life! Disney is truly a World resort.
We got up early to do Universal Studios, which incidentally is ABSOLUTELY worth a side trip from Disney. We made early entry here and experienced ET (good), BTTF (too bumpy for me) and Terminator 3D (GREAT!) before we noticed a crowd. We then went to Jaws (OK), Earthquake (cool!) and Kong (he broke down just when he was supposed to grab us!). We did lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, what a really neat place and the food was great. Ghostbusters (OK) was next and by that time the crowd had caught us. We did the Murder, She Wrote sound effects show (I was pulled from the crowd to do the kissing scene!). We hit Hitchcock and decided it was too crowded to wait 30 minutes for Hanna Barbera. We headed out and went back to the room and then over to Pacinos in the Crossroads Plaza for some pasta. Back to the room to pack and get ready to leave tomorrow
We got the car packed and decided to go to BB in the morning and TL for the early afternoon and then to the airport for a 6:40 flight. Well, BB and TL were closed because it had rained all night and was threatening same that day. We changed plans and went to the deserted Wet-n-Wild. Managed to get some tickets out front for half price from an English couple who were flying out that afternoon. Wet-n-wild was OK except for the Bubbas Tub or whatever. It is a family raft ride. You all pile into a round raft and go downhill over three bumps into a landing pool. Well three of us got in and there was a couple waiting and the girl working the ride says for them to get in with us. I can tell you the raft was pretty weighed down. As we went over the second slope, the raft went airborne and knocked me right out onto the slide itself. I came spinning down the slide behind the raft. Once I got to the bottom everyone in the raft was dumbfounded and the idiot kid at the bottom asks me what the hell I did that for. I told him it wasn't in my plans to fall out of the boat! He never even asked if I was OK! I told my finacee to forget it but she insisted on speaking to a manager. What a sensation though falling out of that raft! Oh well, it was off to the showers and to the airport. 10 minutes after leaving Wet-n-Wild it rained BUCKETS. We were very fortunate as a tropical storm was passing to the north. The plane ride home was a little bumpy but we made it.
There were only a couple of negative aspects to the trip. Unfortunately most involved foreign language speaking folks who maybe don't know any better or just don't care. The most terrible was while waiting for the monorail from the MK after Spectromagic, a man lifted and swung his child around to carry him and the child inadvertantly kicked my fiancee in the face. The guys just kept on walking...
Tips (AKA Things I learned)
- Rent a car
- Go to the Sleath Mystery Dinner Theater
- Go to the San Angel Inn
- Go on TOT MANY TIMES!!
- Take advantage of early entry
- Don't be afraid to deviate from your plan
- Check out the other resorts
- Go to Universal
- Read this Newsgroup(RADP). It will provide invaluable advice!
- Have Fun!
Feel free to e-mail any specific questions!
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02-10-2006 01:57 PM